Tuesday, August 28, 2012

American Ice Company and Old Crow

When M said that we were going to grab dinner before the Old Crow Medicine Show concert at the 9:30 Club a few weeks ago, I was excited to try somewhere new.  When he said we were going to a place called American Ice Company, I was instantly skeptical.

We parked a block above the 930 club and walked past it plus a few more blocks before coming up on this totally nondescript place that was buzzing with noise from inside the cement block walls.  After showing our id's and walking through the opening onto the patio, I once again admitted (to myself only, of course) that M knew what he was doing and had found a super fun place.  We grabbed a beer in a mason jar and waited patiently for a group to vacate their table.  

Once we snagged a table, we checked out the delicious menu.  BBQ heaven.  One of each, please!

We settled on the swachos and the pulled pork and brisket platter to share.  I'm still not fully sure what a 'swacho' is, but let me tell you - it doesn't matter.  It's delicious - sorry the photo is blurry, but I still felt that it was necessary to include :)

After our delicious dinner and a couple of beers, we headed back to the 930 for the concert.  The Lumineers were the second opening band, and we wanted to be sure to catch them.  You might know their song Ho Hey that's been played more recently on the radio.  

The 930 Club is such a great venue.  I definitely prefer the smaller music venues where you feel so much more a part of the performance.  I have to admit, I wasn't really a big fan of Old Crow, but after going to their concert, I really like them a lot more!  I downloaded a bunch of their songs to iTunes after the show.  

At the end, The Lumineers, and the openers, The Milk Carton Kids, joined Old Crow Medicine Show  on stage for a couple of final songs.  

This was just the first night of 2, and it was awesome.  I can only imagine night 2 was rockin' too!  If you don't know Old Crow, check them out - and the Lumineers too.  Look into their other songs, not just Ho Hey.  They sound a lot like Mumford and Sons.  You'll like 'em, trust me! 

And next time you're up in the area, go to American Ice Company.  It was pretty awesome too :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Western States 100, part 1

This is a bit of a long post...but so many people ask about M's races, so I wanted to try to be fairly detailed without having numerous posts about the race.  I'm going to break it into 2, just so it's not ridiculously long...

Part 1

At 3:30am on Saturday, June 23, our alarm went off.  Ugh, early, yes, but we hopped out of bed with some nervous excitement - it was race day! 

All of the pre race events and the start were at Squaw Valley in Tahoe.  We stayed in a time share right next to the village, and it was fantastic to just be able to wake up and walk to the start line.  Once we did our final check in, our runner rested while I paced...I might of been more anxious than he was!  It was super dark at the start line...since the sun hadn't come up yet.  The race started at 5am...so by the time they got to the top of the first climb, the sun should have been up...

As soon as the race started, Tommy and I waited for a few minutes to see them go up the mountain and headed back to the condos.  As we walked back, we turned around and looked up.  What. Was. That!? A huge black cloud covered the top of the mountain.  Rain was something no one expected!  

We snuck in an hour nap before packing up the condos, loading the car, and heading off.  We had to go way down the mountain, across, and back up to meet him at the first stop.   It was cloudy, foggy, and pouring rain on us most of the way...if we were getting this weather, what was it like on the edge of the mountains?

Thank goodness for that stump.  I thought the girl directing traffic was going to send us over the edge of the world!

Shuttling to aid stations was something new to me...the races we've done on the east coast weren't nearly as big and crowded as this one.  I was certainly not prepared for the wait times associated with the added element of shuttles.  Poor Tommy was great at calming my nerves...the worst time for me is before the first aid station.  Once you see him the first time, you have a much better gauge on the pace to expect.  He gives us a chart of times to expect him at each station - fast, goal, slow, and cut off.  We we go along, we note what times he arrives and leaves each aid station.  After 50 miles or so, we have a good feeling of when to expect him at each spot.  

We nervously waited in line with other crew members, all who were concerned with missing their runner too.  The hour plus that it took between parking and getting to the actual aid station was not a fun one...

Luckily we got to Robinson Flat aid station about 5 minutes before our runner.  At this point, he was 30 miles in.

In line to get weighed in.  They had to stay within 7% of their initial weight throughout the race. 

Aid station buffet line.  These aid stations were 'full service' - they had a volunteer for each runner.  This was great for the runners, but very strange for crew.  Normally I can meet him as he comes in and I take care of getting him some food and his pack refilled...at WS the areas were roped off and no one was allowed in. Definitely took some getting used to.

Now that's friendship...

We set up a chair for him at the end of this aid station.  He had requested new shoes at this station, and with the rain, sleet, snow and hail that he ran through, the new and dry shoes and socks were a welcome change.  He snacked on a plate of chips and a bit of soda while Tommy and I got his shoes changed and refilled his pack with gu and salt tablets. 

and love...

It was much colder than anyone expected, and very damp and rainy.  Luckily I made him start with his jacket, and he kept it with him after this aid station.  

He's heading back down the trail - see him in the very center of the photo above the broken tree.
After saying goodbye here, we had another long wait for the shuttle back to our car...and he had to run 25 more miles before we would see him again.  

We had a bit of a drive (and some 'site seeing') back to Forest Hill and a couple of hours to kill before making the trip to Michigan Bluff.  We saw the leaders come through right as we got back to the aid station...they are crazy fast.  (the winner ended up finishing in 14:45 and setting a new course record)  

We had to take another shuttle over from Forest Hill High School to Michigan Bluff.  I was concerned after the first shuttle experience, so insisted that we were ready and over there early.  Luckily, this shuttle was super quick and easy...and we had lots of extra time once we got there!  

We cheered as each runner came in.  One really cool thing they did was have a radio guy who sat probably 1/4 mile up the hill from the aid station and announced runner numbers as people came through.  This way, you were totally prepared when your runner came through.  We also watched the very busy medical tent...which seemed like the black hole.  Runners who went in tended to not come out...

So 55 miles in, they called #83 and we were so excited to see him looking strong.  In the aid station he was weighed again...

And then taken by hand to ... the medical tent.  Not being able to go past the rope, I was totally uneasy. I waited for about 2.5 minutes before I bucked the system and ducked under the rope to see what was wrong.  

Better her than me!
Come to find out, he just wanted to get some blisters checked out.  Apparently the guy who wrote the book on blister treatment was in the tent working on feet...and our runner was star struck and wanted him to check his feet!  And he needed a little rest...

After new socks and coming out of the 'tent of doom,' he stopped at our chair set-up.  The sun was starting to go down, so we swapped a wet, short sleeved shirt for a dry one and new, dry hat.  He also munched on some more coke and snacks.  He took his headlamp and headed on.

I walked up the hill with him...and only had about 5 miles before I'd see him again.  It was nice to have a few minutes of time to chat.  They come in and out of the aid stations so quickly, it can be really tough on crew.  You schlep all of the gear around and wait and wait...and the runner comes buzzing in and out of the aid station...and then you pack it up and move on to do it again.  It's nice when you can walk along the race path with them and catch up for a few minutes.

After he left, we shuttled back to our car and got ourselves organized.  We moved the car from the parking lot across from the school to along the road where the runners were running.  I left Tommy to get himself together and ran just over a mile along the course to meet him.  By this time, the sun had set and it was getting dark.  Once I met him, we ran the mile + back to the Forest Hill aid station.  It was about 9:30pm and we were 62 miles in, night had set, and Tommy was up - it was time for him to leave me and head off with M!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Figgy Focaccia

Figs are one of my favorite foods, but I rarely think about them when I'm at the store.  In the past edition of Southern Living, they had a whole section on celebrating fig season and different ways to incorporate them into recipes!

When M mentioned that he wanted to have homemade pizza one night, I remembered a recipe I saw in that feature, and knew it would be perfect.  The original recipe is just for a flat bread, but they suggest adding salami and fontina cheese to make it into a pizza.

Figgy Focaccia


·        1 medium-size red onion 
·        3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 
·        Coarse sea or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
·        Plain cornmeal
·        1 pound bakery pizza dough (I used whole wheat)
·        8 fresh figs, halved 
·        1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves


1. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Cut onion into 3/4- to 1-inch slices. Brush onion slices with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Grill onion slices, without grill lid, 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until tender and lightly charred.  (I just used a grill pan on the stove and it worked perfectly.)

2. Preheat oven to 425°. Lightly dust work surface with cornmeal. Stretch dough into a 10- to 12-inch oval on work surface. Place dough, cornmeal side down, on a greased baking sheet; drizzle with remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Rub oil into dough. Arrange fig halves and grilled onion over dough, pressing lightly. Sprinkle with rosemary and salt and pepper to taste.

      2a. This is where I added the salami and fontina.  You could put the salami down before the figs like you would pepperoni, but with having it on top, it got crispy in the oven.  

3. Bake at 425° on lowest oven rack 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.  Slice and enjoy!

It was delicious!  I will definitely make this combination again.  I love making homemade pizzas and experimenting with all different things.  It's easy, creative, and definitely healthier than getting pizza out!

If you want to try the other fig recipes, check out the list from Southern Living.  I've done a couple of the others before and they're just as yummy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Girls weekend in Charleston

Each summer, 2 of my close college girlfriends and I try to get together for a fun weekend.  Last year, we all headed down to Bluffton, SC.  This summer, as we compared schedules and lives, it wasn't looking too good for our annual tradition...

But then, already into July, L and I realized that we were going to be almost overlapping on business trips in Charleston...I could stay a couple of days and she could arrive a few days early!  So...the emails started flying, and we discovered that CC would be in town (between European jaunts, might I add), and would be able to meet us!

So, albeit a bit last minute and abbreviated, girls weekend would continue in 2012!

We started the weekend Saturday afternoon with a couple of hours on Foley Beach before heading to downtown Charleston.  That evening, we started our tour of downtown at the Market Pavilion Rooftop Bar.  CC did an expert job stalking the tables along the edge, and we ended up with a perfect view.  Our cute clutches were too small for a phone and a camera, so iPhone photos is what we've got :)

After our drinks on the roof, we walked the couple of blocks to Cypress for our dinner reservation. Cypress is arguably one of the best restaurants in town, connected to Magnolia's and Blossom.  H and I had drinks there on our last trip to Charleston so I was dying to eat there.  And it lived up to the hype!  We all enjoyed some wine and prosecco, toasting to our friendship and where life is taking us all as we all turn 30 this summer.  

Dinner was delicious - CC and I both had a delicious salad (with bacon jam, yum!) while L had the lobster bisque.  We shared a few appetizers, including the sweet and sour meatballs and a cheese plate...and of course had dessert!  

After dinner, we hit the town and bar hopped our way around the market!  We were on the hunt for single boys for CC, of course.  With no luck, we turned in for the night.

Sunday morning we ventured across the bridge to West Ashley for brunch at Triangle Char and Bar.  We met up with a good high school friend, her awesome husband and adorable baby girl.  I haven't seen P much since high school since she went to school and now lives in South Carolina, so it was a nice treat to spend some time with them!  And Ellie is even cuter in person than she looks :)

After brunch, we did what most girls do during girls weekends - shopping!  We walked all around King Street, in and out of our favorite stores and beautiful boutiques.  And of course, we managed to track down a Mexican restaurant for margaritas, chips, cheese dip, and huge beers - $4 happy hour special :)

Mom's going to be so proud!

Then we did a little sight seeing down around the water and all of the gorgeous Charleston homes.

That evening, we headed out to another great dinner at Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar...but not before a little photo shoot around the fountains!

The restaurant is right on East Bay Street, in the middle of everything.  It had been packed every time we'd been by it, so we thought we'd give it a shot.  Fried Calamari, fish tacos, scallops and the fresh catch is what we all ordered, and everything was delicious.  

CC grabbed some gelato and we headed up to another upstairs bar, The Rooftop Bar above The Venue Inn.  Not as swanky as the first one, especially on a Sunday night, but still a lovely evening to be outside.

A day and a half wasn't nearly enough time, but Monday morning I headed to the airport super early for a flight to San Antonio and another business trip.  A day and a half was certainly better than nothing, and it's always so great to see these girls!

Can we do it again sooner rather than later?!  See you in October!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summit Ceremony - WS100

In June, MB and I packed up (lots of suitcases) and boarded a plane for San Francisco, and drove over to Tahoe.  It was time.  Time for the Western States 100.  As you probably know, my husband's insane, and likes to torture himself run ultra marathons.  He's done countless 50k's (about 32 - 35 miles), 50 milers, a 100k (66), and before WS, 2 100s.  Yes, that's 100 miles.  Yes, at one time.  No, he doesn't sleep.  Yes, he's crazy.  No, I don't know why.  

The Western States 100 is the original 100 mile endurance run.  According to the WS website, "The Run is conducted along the Western States Trail starting at Squaw Valley, California, and ending in Auburn, California, a total of 100 miles. The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn."

On the Thursday before the race on Saturday, those who are in town early are invited to participate in the hike to the summit and the summit ceremony.  That whole "a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles" - yeah, that's what we climbed to get to the summit ceremony.  

The views from the top were just amazing.  Luckily, this year there was not much snow, whereas in the past they've had to alter the course because of the snow.  You can see some in the photos, and beyond you can see the lake.  

The Summit Ceremony is an annual tradition, and anyone who is in town before the race is invited to participate.  Once at the top, we sang America the Beautiful, talked about the history of the race, shared where we were from, and just enjoyed the (windy) surroundings. 

On Saturday, just as the race begins, they'll 'run' up the first 4.5 miles, and then as the sign below says, take the "Easiest Way Down."

Since we'd opted to hike up the mountain, we hiked back down the first mile....

That's me trying not to bust it coming back down the mountain

And then took the cable car down the rest of the way.

It was really special to be able to participate in the annual Summit Ceremony.  It was a great kick off to the incredible weekend that is the Western States 100.