Sunday, November 3, 2013

Following Foliage to Umstead Park

Our 30 for 30 is officially over, but we're still trying to check out new spots and new things to do around the Triangle.  Today, we headed to William B. Umstead State Park in Wake County to check out some of the foliage.
The trees are just starting to peak around here, and it's the perfect temperature for walking (mid-60's).  We hiked Sal's Branch Trial which is about 2.8 miles.  It intersects with Big Lake where people can rent canoes in the summer (sorry, Mom, no swimming allowed.  What's with that?  Maybe there are snakes.)
It was another place that reminded us of some of the parks we used to walk in Massachusetts.  It's nice to still be in a place that changes with the seasons and has quiet trails that are not that dissimilar from what we're used to.  The three of us are big fans of fall and all the parks are perfect places to go this time of year.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

30 Days of Turning 30 Recap

It's not easy celebrating a birthday for a whole month.  I think it falls under the category of "too much of a good thing."  I do, however, think it was good for me and Tommie to push ourselves to get out more, keep track of local events, try new things, and to be more conscious of how we spend our days--before we're so old we can't remember anymore.
It's no surprise that a lot of what we do involves eating.  At least half of our 30 posts included some kind of food.  It's also promising to see that the majority of things we did cost little to no money--even some of the events we attended were free.  There are a lot of cool free things to do around Durham if you look.  Our most expensive days were spent at big events like a concert and the state fair.  

I'm sad October is over, but we can't force ourselves to have fun forever--it's tiring.  This was good practice for the upcoming months when we have a couple weeks around the holidays to do fun things with guests, and now we know a little bit more about the place we live.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

30/30: Finishing with Food Trucks

October 30th

We'll finish the month off the way it began--with food.  Always with food.
Carrboro had a mini food truck rodeo tonight so we stopped by and grabbed a pork butt with asian style slaw sandwich from The American Meltdown and an NC cornbread chill bowl from Foster's on the Fly.
It was a nice warm night (around 70 degrees) and we ate in the square.  

Sadly, our birthday month is coming to an end, but I know we will continue to eat well and celebrate the rest of the year.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

30/30: Floats Between Failures

October 29th

We couldn't decide what to do last night after dinner.  We tried finding a highly-rated Mexican frozen treat shop but failed, so we landed at The Parlour with a root beer float made with malted cinnamon ice cream.  They do make really good, creamy and flavorful handmade ice cream here. 
After that, we tried to get fries at a local hamburger joint but it was just closing so we failed at that too.  We must be running out of steam.

Monday, October 28, 2013

30/30: Ice Cream Sunsets

October 28th

Today was a miserable day to be 30--new and unwanted medical experiences, doctors with needles, a lot of pain, and many tears (on my end) reminded me that getting older really sucks.
For being so brave (sadly, that was me being brave) I later needed to treat myself to a pumpkin and carmel apple ice cream sundae from Maple View Farm.
Afterwards, we opened the hatchback of our Subaru and watched the sunset over the open fields in Hillsborough Getting older sucks, but ice cream and calming sunsets are some of the little things that attempt to make it slightly more tolerable.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

30/30: Seafood Sunday

October 27th

I grew up on the coast, and if you ask me, there's no such thing as too much seafood.  It was our first time broiling bacon wrapped scallops, which we enjoyed for lunch.
Then later, our friends cooked us a delicious birthday dinner of baked brie with apple butter, barbecue shrimp, and apple crisp.  
I think we hit all of Tommie's favorite food groups today: bacon, cheese, and seafood.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

30/30: Day at the State Fair

October 26th
Tommie's favorite part of the North Carolina State Fair was probably the quiet garden.  He's really not a "fair" kind of guy.  I couldn't convince him to come on The Swinger with me, so I had to go on it alone.  The last time I was on one of these I was probably a pre-teen--sometimes it's still fun to fly around.

But we did look at the cute goats and bunnies, the honey bees, and giant pumpkins, and played a game of skee-ball together.

We didn't go overboard with fatty fair food because we had to stop at Bosphorus on the way for more Lachmacun, but we did get some hot apple cider, and tried fried Oreos (to which Tommie responded madly, "Couldn't they at least be double-stuffed!").  He's a sucker for cotton candy though which might be one of the only reasons he attends these things. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

30/30: Free Night

October 25th

It was a long week, so tonight we took a free pass.  
Tommie brought home free food from work for dinner and we curled up (Maya included) to watch a few episodes of Homeland.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

30/30: Pie in the Sky

October 24th

A craving for key lime pie got us in the mood for baking last night.  We've made easy key lime pie before (using our blender) but the twist tonight was also making the graham cracker crust (we usually just buy it pre-made).
The crust is just graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter chilled for an hour.
Here's the recipe for easy key lime pie:

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whip two large eggs in blender (we have a whipping attachment) until light and frothy.
- Add one 14-ounce can of condensed milk.
- Add 1/2 cup of fresh-squeezed lime juice.
- Blend to incorporate and pour into pie crust.
- Bake for about 12 minutes, then chill for a couple hours before serving.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

30/30: Taste Test

October 23rd

Geer St. Garden gets mixed reviews among our friends but it's a popular spot in Durham so we thought it was high time we check it out for ourselves.
Tommie ordered a burger and fries and I went with the grilled fish tacos.  We both think the tacos (which come with three--a couple small fillets in each) is a good deal and it was tasty.  Everything is priced moderately--a little on the high side with $5 sides, so I can see where some people would shy away in favor of another spot.  Still, the food is well-prepared and the atmosphere is casual/contemporary.  We sat outside on the patio that has pretty string lights and picnic tables.  With the weather cooling down it may be one of the last nights we can dine al fresco.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

30/30: Up and Running

October 22nd

This may not seem like the biggest deal but for two wanna-be DIY-ers little feats like getting our second shower up and running is a big to-do.  We finally got all the pieces and installed a new shower head and knob in our master bath shower.  

You can read more about this and our other house projects at: The Amberican Dream.

Monday, October 21, 2013

30/30: Blinded by the Light

October 21st

We saw Tommie's favorite band/idol/hero/man-crush, NIN, play at the PNC arena in Raleigh.
Trent puts on a concert with a light show attached (I keep telling Tommie it's the same as what Moby used to do, but apparently it's a little more involved than that).  
There were lots of lights--I'm not sure how the band has not gone blind playing all these shows.  At times, I put on my sunglasses and closed my eyes and it was still too bright.  Then again, I have large sensitive eyes...and I'm old.
NIN puts on a good show as far as entertainment goes.  Tommie, of course, loved it even if Trent forgot to give him a 3oth birthday shout-out.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

30/30: Checking out City Parks

October 20th

Durham's city parks are great--and there are a lot of them.  Sandy Creek Park is close to where we live but we hadn't been to it yet assuming it was small and too close to a busy road, but we decided to venture there today and were pleasantly surprised to find a nice field with picnic areas (even a bocce court) and multiple trails to walk along the creek and woods.  
 It was the perfect fall morning to be out in the sun and crisp air.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

30/30: Masquerading

October 19th

Tonight was our birthday milestone masquerade.  It was also our first occasion hosting a group of people in our new house!
I set up different "stations" for mask-making, cupcake decorating, eating, and hanging out.  We were turning 30, but I basically wanted to throw myself a kid's party--I'm pretty sure that's a sign of some kind of crisis, but I'm okay with it.  
Our guests were kind enough not to make fun of me, even getting into the spirit themselves, and we enjoyed a nice night of conversation in between crafting and food eating (Tommie's "famous" buffalo chicken pizza was a hit).

Thanks for being a part of our 30th!

Friday, October 18, 2013

30/30: Art and Baking

October 18th

On the third Friday of every month, Golden Belt downtown has open art studios.  We also stopped by a gallery on Foster Street that was promoting a new documentary about Patrick Dougherty--he creates the coolest art from sticks.  He had an installation at our old college campus (Wheaton College in Massachusetts) several years ago which we saw with my cousin.
 (Below: Patrick Dougherty's work at Wheaton.)
The rest of the night was spent party prepping.  I got a jumpstart on my baking.  The cupcake-to-person ratio will be about 4-1, so according to my standards, just right.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

30/30: Good Food Makes 30 Easier to Swallow

October 17th 
(Amber's Birthday)

A couple minutes from our house, in between intersecting roads, there is a small "island" of delicious food.  Nana Taco is one of those places--we end up there a lot, but NT's mother restaurant, Nana's, is a fancier restaurant across the street.  We hadn't gone there yet because we didn't have a good excuse, but turning 30 seemed like a good one.
The entrees in particular were very good.  Nana's has seasonal menus to keep things fresh and local (it changes monthly).  Our night involved smoked salmon, shrimp risotto, maple leaf duck, maine halibut, and poached pear crisp.

I might officially be 30, but I still have the rest of the month to let it settle in.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

30/30: Happy New Era!

October 16th

For my last photos in my twenties, I wanted to pay homage to my running status as the world’s last young, old person.  Though, if it wasn’t a Wednesday night in North Carolina (and probably if my sister was around)…I’d prefer to be spending my last hour watching the Thunder Down Under.

I tried to think of something ceremonious I could do.  People like to plant trees.  I recalled a seedling packet for a Japanese Red Maple (I love those trees) that we received as a favor during a wedding we attended when we first moved to San Diego.  I have no idea if the seeds will still sprout, but I planted it right before midnight and made a wish.
Of course, I had to stay up until midnight of my birthday just like you do on New Year’s.  Only I’m the only person cheering, “Happy new era!” like the crazy old lady I now am.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

30/30: Last Pictures of a Young Man

October 15th 
(Tommie's Birthday)

I made Tommie take pictures before the clock struck midnight on October 15th to capture his last moments in his twenties.  Then I woke Maya up and bothered her too.
This is the first birthday that's sitting heavily with me--it feels substantial and scary, which is why I'm trying to disguise it as "fun."  

At 10:30 last night, I suddenly felt anxious about Tommie turning 30, as if he might drop dead the second it happened and I told him he should be spending his last hour doing something crazy--he should go to a strip club or something!  He said I wasn't making him feel better.  So, his last moments of youth were spent doing work on his computer and yelling at me for taking annoying pictures.
And just like that, we're halfway through 30 to 30!