Thursday, March 27, 2008

$1000 Hairball

I hope you all had a fabulous Easter. We sure did! My parents came to visit and we had a great time with them. Played some Wii, went bowling (real bowling, not just Wii bowling), shopped, went out to eat, watched movies, and oh yeah...hung out a the Animal Hospital. My mom brought her cat, Callie, to Alabama with her. Of course, I was fine with this - Callie is our favorite family pet and Marley LOVES when she comes to play with him. However, we woke up Saturday morning to Callie throwing up blood. It was scary. I tried to look online to see what that could be a symptom of but everything simply said to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. (This did not help to calm my mother's nerves.) We called our vet immediately and they confirmed what the internet said - to bring her in ASAP. So, of course, we did just that. They ran tests on her and found that everything looked great except that x-rays were showing a mass in her stomach. She was given barium nitrate to help her "pass" the mass and monitored for a few hours. Because she was not able to pass it naturally they were forced to remove it surgically. Turns out she just had a hairball. A really big and really nasty hairball. It was causing her to have stomach ulcers. Poor old girl. So they took it out, stapled her up, and kept her overnight. We were able to pick her back up on Sunday afternoon and she is doing well. She endured the 8 hour drive back to Ohio like a champ and is now home and recovering. I miss her already.The rest of the weekend was a lot of fun. I hate living so far away from my parents. I also wasn't a very good photographer while they were here. Mom took some photos of us bowling but I even forgot to get those from her! Sorry. I promise to do better next time...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Just call me Chef Jamie Grizzle

This weekend Ben and I took a trip to Nashville to visit his brother's family. Steve, Anna, Reid and Sawyer live in Franklin, TN. Franklin is a historic town on the outskirts of Nashville. It is famous for its Civil War battle - The Battle of Franklin and for their storybook downtown known as "America's Main Street".

We had big plans to tour the historic sites while there. I am currently reading The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks which focuses on the Battle of Franklin, five of the bloodiest hours of the Civil War that killed 9,200 soldiers and wounded many more. It is based on the life of Carrie McGavock, whose Franklin home, the Carnton Plantation, became a Confederate hospital and who later tended a massive cemetery in her backyard.

Our plan was to spend Saturday afternoon touring the Carnton Plantation and then head over to The Viking Store to take a cooking class that night. But thunderstorms kept us from taking the tour and we had to shop instead. I was sad, but a new purse and a pair of earrings from the Cool Springs Galleria helped to cheer me up. We frequently visit Steve and Anna, so I am sure this was not my only chance to see the plantation.

For Christmas Steve and Anna bought Ben and I a cooking class at the Viking Cooking School. There are several types of classes offered there but ours was what is known as a Chef's Table Class. This means you sit at the counter with a small number of people while the chef prepares several dishes in front of you. The class holds up the eight people, but we lucked out - it ended up only being Steve, Anna, Ben and me in the class. It was like our own private party. We also had the benefit of eating twice the food!

Chef Brandy Lewis was our chef for the night. Brandy attended the Culinary Institute in NYC and toted a very impressive resume. She prepared for us a dinner of Jumbo Lump Crabcakes with Chipotle Tarter Sauce, Grilled Veal Chops with Wild Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Pan Sauce, Proscuitto & Parmesan Gougeres, Arugula & Basil Salad and Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies with Espresso Ice Cream - YUMMO! It was absolutely delicious but my favorite part was watching her cook and having her teach us all her special "chef tricks"! I wish we had a Viking School in Birmingham. However, it is probably best that we don' a $100 a head it was not cheap and we would soon be broke from my expensive habit.

Here Chef Brandy shows us how to make the Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies.

And we even get a little taste of the batter!

The main course, mushroom and roasted garlic pan gravy...

to go with the delectable veal chops.

I was so excited when we were finally served our food that I forgot to take a photo of the plate. Let's just say the presentation was almost as fabulous as it tasted!

After the class you are offered 10% off anything in the store! While, I had my eye on the gas top viking stove I settled on a very nice Santoku knife, a bamboo spatula and a pot holder. It was one of my all time favorite evenings. I think I might just go to the Culinary Institute in NYC and follow in Chef Brandy's footsteps...well maybe not, but a girl can dream!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Did you know...

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17 in honor of the anniversary of Saint Patrick's death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for thousands of years.

On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat are waived and people dance, drink, and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

Just a little knowledge about what makes today so special. I hope you have a...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ben and Jamie's Day o' Fun

Like I said earlier, this week was Ben's Spring Break. We decided to take a vacation day to celebrate all of the looooong hours and hard work he has put in this semester. Our entertainment options included a tour of our the local cookie factory (Bud's Best), the Georgia Aquarium and the Birmingham Zoo. We decided the zoo would be a great way to take advantage of the lovely weather. Plus after living here for so many years (5 for me and 12 for Ben) we thought it time we patron this attraction. We slept in a little - 9 AM...woo hoo! Then headed to wash the car. I know this doesn't sound like it should be included in a "Day o' Fun" but with our upcoming trip to the Music City it had to be done. Once the car was done getting her bath, we ate a picnic lunch at the Botanical Gardens. It has been a long time since I had a picnic and I must say, it was quite lovely. The zoo just happens to be right next door to the gardens, so we moseyed our way over to gawk at the wide varieties of wildlife.

Egg Salad sandwich, grapes, cheese and crackers and a homemade blueberry muffin. Yummy!

Tulips - my favorite!

Here we go...lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

The flamingos were my first stop when we got to the zoo (besides the ladies room). It was hard to top that exhibit the rest of our day there.

This one kept flirting with me! Check him out below...such a pimp!

Ben visited the Reptile Room (no thanks!) while I hung out with the flamingos and watched them eat, fight with each other and balance on one leg. I could have stayed there all day.

So pretty.

Did you know that flamingos are born white?
They don't get their beautiful color until after their first birthday.

Gators. Boo.

There was a entire House of Primates at the B'ham Zoo. Unfortunately most of the photos didn't turn out. We were extra excited about seeing the gorilla, but he was napping in small cave and didn't feel like coming out to have his photo taken...sigh.

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas.
Only a hippopotamus will do...uh hum, sorry.
Did you know that hippos kill more humans than any other animal in Africa? They also make their own sunscreen!
Dangerous, yet resourceful.

The giraffes were my second favorite animal at the zoo.

The camera didn't catch it, but this guy totally just winked at me.

I was surprised at how small the zebras were. More the size of a donkey than a horse.

Tigers sleep 20 hours a day...lucky animal. He did however wake up long enough for me to see him pee...definitely a boy! His paws were almost as big as Marley's!


Lady Lioness.

While everything wasn't quite open yet (still a little early in the season, I suppose) we had a great time at the zoo. Lots to see. I think I might go back and visit my flamingo and giraffe friends again soon. Maybe next time we will get to see Babec the gorilla.

We finished the day off with visit to the Mountain Brook Creamery where I enjoyed a strawberry smoothie and Ben cooled off with 2 scoops of mint chocolate chip. It was a fun day of sightseeing in our very own city...but the best part was spending some quality time with my hubby.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm still around...

Just to prove I am still alive and well, I thought I would post a quick blog and even change my design a little...

Please be watching for lots of new blogs over the next couple of busy, fun packed weeks. Here's a little teaser to keep you waiting:

This week is Ben's Spring Break. We are planning lots of fun activities to take advantage of our extra time together. We are taking a little day trip Thursday to a destination yet to be determined. This weekend we will be making our way to Nashville for a cooking class and tour of a Civil War plantation. Tuesday my parents are coming to town for Easter. (I can't wait! Should have lots of good stories to blog about after a week with my folks!)

So, if you haven't already forgotten about us keep coming back...I promise to deliver some new posts soon!