Running for Boston


Well today I was going to write about how well my arugula is growing, but it just doesn’t feel right with the events at the Boston Marathon on Monday.  Instead, I thought I’d take the time to reflect on what happened and why it hits so close to home for Ryanne and I.

What does running have to do with a blog such as ours that posts about family recipes, sewing projects, and gardening?  Well running for Ryanne and I has become somewhat of a family tradition passed down by our dad.  I wouldn’t really say we have a long line of running enthusiasts in our family, but I’d like to think my dad has started something special… no not a recipe for banana bread, but a love for setting goals and working hard to exceed them, having a healthy lifestyle, and having determination to train for hours upon hours for a race.  As he said during our last race, he hopes Ryanne and I continue to keep up the family tradition of running after he can’t run anymore. I think I replied with “Well maybe if I keep running until I’m 80 I can qualify for Boston because the qualifying time will be easier.”

I was so excited when my dad qualified to run in the Boston Marathon after running his first marathon – I had to make the trip up to Boston to watch him.  I knew he was excited too, talking about the infamous landmarks along those 26.2 miles such as the Newton Hills and the Wellsley girls that he had read about in the book 26 Miles to Boston.  My dad put in countless hours training and had the most amazing training ethic I’d ever seen.  I think my mom was starting to believe she was a “runner’s widow” because my dad was always out running.

When it came time for heading up to Boston, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I knew the Boston Marathon was the Superbowl of Marathons, but had no idea the type of electricity and sense of pride it brought to the area.  That weekend my husband Matt and I spent time with his father’s side of the family and stayed with his grandmother at her bed and breakfast on Walden Pond.  We’ve always loved going up to Boston to visit, so it was nice to show my parents around as well.

On the day of the race my mom, Matt, and I were so excited and couldn’t wait to get a spot along the race route.  It was set to be the hottest Boston Marathon ever.  My dad kept texting us and updating us from where all of the runners gathered at the start in Hopkinton.  While we were all excited for that day, we also had heavy hearts as it was the 5th anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, which occured at our alma mater.  My dad wore a shirt to let everyone know he wasn’t just running for himself, but for the 32 people who died.

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Once we got to the race route, about at mile 7, it was so hot I couldn’t imagine running in that heat.  But quickly those thoughts faded as we watched the elite runners go by, runners who were blind, runners who were wearing prosthetics, Team Hoyt, and active duty service members who were hiking the route with their rucksack in memory of fallen soldiers.  The streets were jam-packed with thousands of people for as far as the eye could see.  We watched and waited eagerly to see my dad – I had never been to a race like this before in my life!  I remember cheering and clapping furiously because of the energy of others at the race.  Finally we saw my dad and took the picture below.  I truly believe his smile conveys that running Boston is one of the crowning moments of his life.

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So as I share this experience it’s so hard to believe that something so inhumane and tragic could occur at one of the most positive, energetic, and emotional sporting events in the world.  Lots of runners being interviewed have shared that they feel like it was a personal threat to them, even if they weren’t there.  I feel very much the same way, especially as my dad would have finished up around the time that the bombs went off if he had run it this year.  While the media continues to show the explosions near the finish line, there is one picture I have to keep replaying in my head to remind myself that the world is not a bad place.  This picture is of a runner who had cramped up about 3/4 of a mile from the finish line, right where we were standing.  He could barely walk and had collapsed to his knees.  Seeing this, two other runners ran back and lifted him up carrying him the rest of the way to the finish line.  I will never forget that selfless act of kindness, it truly reminds me that not all in the world is evil. So this week as I go on my runs through Raleigh, I think of and pray for the runners, their families, spectators, Bostonians and know that good will prevail.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Well even if you aren’t Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is fun to celebrate.  Our way of celebrating this year was running the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach 1/2 Marathon today with our dad.  This is the first race that we have all run together, so it was lots of fun!  The weather was perfect, and despite waking up at 4:30 am for the 6:40 am start time, we had a blast!  We wore St. Patrick’s themed tutus (or as we later decided they looked more like Tinker Bell skirts) and got several compliments on them from bystanders.

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We were very happy with our times, Ryanne and I both set Personal Records and came in the top 10% for the women!  Our dad left us in the dust and ended up getting 3rd place in his age group!

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The best thing about the end of the race was that they had Natty Greene’s beer at the finish line and our medals also served as beer bottle openers 🙂

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Our husbands and mom also came to watch to watch and brought our dogs.  Arlie was prepared! And just in case you ever find yourself in need of a DIY St. Patrick’s tutu…

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I just hot glued tulle and glittery ribbon to another ribbon.  I got all of the materials at A.C. Moore.  Have a great week!

Have Yourself a Beachy Little Christmas


Merry Belated Christmas everyone!  Sorry this post is a few days late.  Ryanne and I have been busy eating delicious Christmas food, spending time with the pups at the beach, and shopping 🙂

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Ryanne and Molly, Megan and Airlie

We hope y’all had a great Christmas, we sure did.  Our Christmases now are a little different than growing up since we spend them with our parents near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.  Everyone in our hometown of Culpeper, Virginia got snow Christmas Eve and the day after; all we got was 60 degree weather and tornado warnings.  How different!

I took a few pictures of our parents’ Christmas decorations.  Our mom has definitely embraced the beach theme for the Holidays!

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Christmas would not be complete with Christmas trees made from crab pots (and decorated with shells from Ryanne’s wedding).  These are made in North Carolina.

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Can you spot the ceramic sea creatures my mom made?

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The beautiful beachy wreath our mom made.

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Coral tree decorated with vintage ornaments from our grandmothers.

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Our dad making some Christmas morning breakfast casserole that was delish!

A somewhat newer Christmas tradition is to skip the traditional Christmas food and instead make Christmas Seafood Gumbo!  It’s quite a process, but the end product makes it all worth it.  Look for the recipe in the coming weeks.   After eating our Christmas Gumbo, we all walked down to our friends/neighbor’s house (that has a fantastic light display) and shared some Lemoncello and Champagne.  Cheers!

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Clockwise starting from the left: Kirk and Donna Davis (Megan’s in-laws), Steve and Donna Thompson (Neighbors/friends), Jim and Jane Floyd (Parents), Megan & Matt (& Airlie the yellow lab), Ryanne and LJ (& Molly the Golden Retriever).

Day #1: Fake Heath Bars


For Day #1 of our favorite treats, I am going to share with you Fake Heath Bars.  They say that Christmas is the season of giving and, boy, did we give away plenty of treats this time of year.  I can remember making these with my mom, sister, and Grandmother (Daga), making sure we doubled the recipe so we’d have enough to share.

While the next five days consist of our favorite treats….this really is one of my favorites.  I am warning you….they are addicting!  So be ready to package them up and send them to work (LJ’s co-workers may gain some weight by the end of these five days) or give to neighbors because when it comes to Christmas baking, lets get real, their ain’t any good skinny versions honey.

It wouldn’t be right to post about Christmas baking without a Santa picture…..

Megan and Ryanne 1987

Megan and Ryanne 1987

Of course we are once again dressed in matching outfits made by our mom.  I was only 10 months old.   Look at the foehawk I have going on!  By the look on Megan’s face I’m sure she was thinking “All I want for Christmas is for this thing next to me to go away…”.

Print Recipe Here

Ingredients

What you’ll need for Fake Heath Bars:

Baking sheet

Aluminum foil

1 box saltine crackers

2 sticks of butter

1 cup sugar

1 large bag of chocolate chips

First pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Now, take your baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil so that is completely covered.

Baking Sheet

Take your saltine crackers and line the bottom of your baking sheet with them.  As you can see in my picture, they are not going to fit perfectly, so you will have to cut some crackers in half to fit on the sides.

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Set your baking sheet aside and place your two sticks of butter and sugar in a small sauce pan.

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Melt butter and sugar over medium heat. Make sure you are stirring it constantly to avoid any burning or sticking to the pan.  You want it to boil for 3 minutes.  You know it has boiled long enough when it turns into a thin, frothy mixture.  Once it has finished boiling pour the mixture over the saltines.

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You may need to use a spoon or spatula to make sure it is spread evenly over the saltines.  Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

While that is baking make sure you have your chocolate chips out, the bag is open, and a large spoon.  You have to work fast once you remove it from the oven.

Once 10 minutes is up, remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.

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Take your large spoon, using the back, and spread the chocolate chips over the saltines.  The saltines should be hot enough that the chocolate chips start to melt, making the spreading easier.

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Keep spreading until the chocolate chips are fully melted and spread evenly over the saltines.

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Set them aside and let the chocolate cool and harden.  Once they are cool enough cut into squares and serve or package for friends and neighbors.

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Check back tomorrow for our favorite treat # 2….

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving has shaped up to be quite a nice day, we have lots to be thankful for!

Starting Thanksgiving off right with the Ridgewood Turkey Trot (so we can eat LOTS later)!

Vegetables and DaGa’s Dill Dip to snack on!

Here’s how I ended up setting the table.  We were able to squeeze everyone in!

Can’t forget a good bottle of 120/80 wine from Ehler’s Estate!

Turned our wine/liquor cabinet into a buffet with green bean casserole, corn pudding, sweet potato casserole, and stuffing.

Can’t forget the homemade apple pie….

and GG’s pecan pie!

And Ryanne’s Pumpkin Cheesecake!

Happy Thanksgiving again!

Mission Beach Wedding… Accomplished!


Congrats to Ryanne and her new husband LJ on a beautiful wedding in Wrightsville Beach, NC.  Last Saturday was the perfect sunny day for a beach wedding!  As the happy couple gathered with family and friends, it made me so thankful to be a part of an amazing family and have LJ’s family join ours.  We are so thankful that people in our family were able to help out.  I definitely know Ginnie, Daga, and GG were looking down and were very proud of such an amazing affair!  Here’s a preview from the wedding…

Ryanne’s beautiful bouquet… June did an amazing job!

Ryanne and her new husband LJ on the beach after the ceremony.

Our parents Jim and Jane Floyd, Ryanne and LJ Ulrich, Megan and Matt Davis… our family of four has expanded!

Ryanne and Megan waiting in the car before arriving at the reception that was held at Lumina Hall on Wrightsville Beach.

Fixin’ to go Crab Pickin’


Well, I apologize for the lack of new posts.  Wedding season is coming up and Ryanne and I’ve been very busy with bachelorette parties and bridal showers.  I will be posting some DIY ideas for gifts and hosting in the near future so check back soon!

A few weeks ago my family and future brother-in-law’s family gathered at my parents’ home in Wilmington, NC to tie up loose ends for Ryanne’s wedding in October.  It’s a family tradition of sorts to try to get together at my parents’ place at the beach in August and and of course a Crab Pickin’ is essential!  Some people might feel like crab pickin’ is a waste of time… why go through all that hard work when you can buy pre-picked crabmeat at the store and make crabcakes?  Well here are my main reasons for why I LOVE pickin’ crabs:

1) There are some things in life that are even better when you have to work hard for them… like crabs.

2) Crab pickin’ is more of a social gathering, a way to catch up with family and friends.

3) It brings back wonderful childhood memories of being at our old beach house in the Outer Banks and spending time with amazing people who aren’t all with us anymore.

4) Crabs and beer go well together and I love both.

5) After living in the hustle and bustle in the Washington D.C.  area, sometimes we just need to relax and take it slooooowww…

My parents have found a roadside seafood distributor between Wilmington and Carolina Beach called Seaview Crab Company.  They go there religiously for their seafood.  Not only are they supporting a local business (who has the freshest seafood around), they also like to go out of their way to support a Virginia Tech alumni-run business (yes, Hokies are everywhere!)

The Basics of Steaming Crabs:

First, get your crabs from a reliable seafood company.  They need to all be ALIVE!!!  If there is a dead one that’s not moving THROW IT OUT, your body will thank you in the morning. The male crabs are called “Jimmies”, which is what you want because they have more meat and we want the females to reproduce and make more crabs for us to eat!  My dad usually gets 1/2 bushel and that ‘s enough for about 6-7 people.  One of the most important tools you will need are tongs, the longer the better because those suckers will pinch the heck out of you! You will also need a big crab pot for steaming them.

These are the main ingredients for steaming crabs:

– Apple cider vinegar

– Water (or beer not pictured below because my husband was probably drinking it)

– Old Bay Seasoning (I love lots of this!!)

First, add equal parts of the vinegar and water (or beer) to the steaming pot until the liquids are about 2 inches high.  Bring to a boil on high heat.

Sprinkle Old Bay (according to your taste), then add the live crabs (yes I know, it’s mean) into the pot and put the top on.  You might need to hold down the lid, sometimes my dad uses the vice grips as a clamp because the crabs can get pretty feisty.  Let them steam for approximately 45 minutes and they will be a bright red (note: just because the crabs turn red at maybe 30 minutes doesn’t mean they are done!).

While they are cooking, put down a plastic table cloth or something to protect your “pickin’ table”.  We usually put a layer of plastic trash bags and then newspaper on top.  Then, select your dipping options: we use little dishes of melted butter or vinegar.

Once the crabs are done cooking, drain them and let them cool off so you don’t burn your hands while pickin’ them.  Don’t know how to pick a crab?  Well, stay tuned for the next post!