Michael and I took a little road trip over the weekend. We headed back to our college town. Just the two of us, without kids. It’s where we met, almost 13 years ago now.

It was an extended “date”—we grabbed lunch together on our way out of town, sharing a sub before we hit the road. The weather was rainy and chilly, but thankfully, by the time we arrived, it had improved. We first went directly to campus to explore a bit, as we hadn’t really been back (except for a quick drive through) in the 10 years since we graduated. We parked and got out, walked around everywhere to see all that had changed, and all that remained the same.

The feelings of nostalgia were overwhelming at times.

I don’t think I will ever forget how it felt to arrive on campus as a freshman. To be dropped off by my mom, to not really know anyone. To realize that I only HAD to “be somewhere” for 2-3 hours of every weekday, and beyond that, it was up to ME how I wanted to spend my time. And then once friends were made, the ability to hang out and have fun together for such a huge portion of every week. It didn’t involve scheduling dinners and drinks and play dates weeks or even months in advance. We were just… together. It was easy.

College, man. What a life.

Michael and I marveled over the new bookstore, and its vast array of merchandise available. All of the COLORS! Pink, purple, green, blue, black, white. Chevron, stripes, mascots and slogans. All of the BRANDS! Nike, Under Armour, Columbia. Seriously? This was fancy shit.

I overheard a girl saying to a friend, “I love this sweatshirt, but I don’t want to get it because EVERYONE has that sweatshirt.” I had to stifle a laugh, because when we were students? We literally had TWO choices for everything. Gray sweatshirt or blue sweatshirt. Gray t-shirt or blue t-shirt. Gray sweatpants or blue sweatpants. We all wandered campus looking like a bunch of clones.

Kids these days.

(And yes, I DID have to walk to school. Uphill both ways. Barefoot. In the snow. So stop it.)

We visited old classrooms and lecture halls, peeking through windows to see that those had not really changed. The building’s smell took me right back to those days. It’s strange how it can simultaneously feel just like yesterday and like another lifetime ago.

We noted that they had STARBUCKS and TIM HORTONS peppered around campus, instead of the nondescript little cafes we had. They had pergolas and outdoor couches with comfy cushions and mood lighting where we used to have cold metal benches.

Those drunk and/or hungover kids have no idea how lucky they are.

We walked back to Hemingway Hall, the dorm where Michael and I both lived sophomore year, when we met. I lived upstairs, he lived down. We had mutual friends that we hung out with regularly, but we somehow managed to get through the entire first semester of that year, and more than a month into that second semester without knowing that each other even existed. It’s funny how things like that happen.

It was fun to walk past our old dorm room windows, visit the old gyms, the hockey rink, the dining halls… remembering it all.

After we had our fill of campus, we got back into the car and went for a drive through the village. We stopped by our old houses, where we each lived during our junior and senior years. I was a little surprised to see that mine had not changed one bit, considering what a shithole it was, even 10 years ago. I know it’s student housing and there’s only so much a landlord can do, but our landlord was a special brand of cheap. Our house had a Blair Witch basement in which we sometimes hosted parties, games of beer pong, you know. People were always amused to see that our house was literally held up by a couple of tree trunks, fashioned into “supports” under the old floor joists.

We finally drove to check in to our room at a local B&B. A place that wasn’t even in business when we were students, but a house that we had certainly driven, walked, and stumbled past on hundreds of occasions.

It’s fun to revisit the old, while discovering the new.

We relaxed for a bit, enjoying the peace and quiet offered by 4 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. That’s not typically how our life plays out at this stage, so it was… weird. But enjoyable. We had a nice room with a high canopy bed (there were little steps at the end to get into it!), a gas fireplace, a TV, a big bathroom. We brought a few beers with us so we sipped them while flipping through the stations.

Just before 6:00, we ventured out, walking downtown for dinner. WALKING! We often walked everywhere in college, for obvious reasons, and this little town certainly made that a lot easier. Michael and I talked about how we—and most of our friends—were all pretty damn responsible for stupid college kids, back in the day.

I think these types of conversations are probably par for the course when you’re old.

We had a decent dinner at one of the only decent restaurants in town (haha!) and then walked to the bar at which we first officially met, on 2/22/02. We settled in for a drink, two of probably only 10 people in the bar at that hour. We had arranged to meet up with one of my favorite former professors, who has always continued to be a mentor and good friend. She came strolling in not long after we arrived, and it was fun to take some time to catch up with her. She helped fill in the gaps in our memories—what did that bar used to be called? what was the kid’s name who used to work the door?—and in our knowledge—what’s that new building up front? is that dining hall closed? where did so-and-so move to after retirement? and we caught up on life for a bit.

After we parted ways, Michael and I moved on to the next stop. We walked to another little strip of bars and walked into two of them, only to walk right back out. One, we discovered, didn’t even have beer on tap (say WHAT?), so that was not going to do. (Two beer snobs, at your service.) The second used to be a favorite, but it now goes by a different name, and had a distinctly different vibe. After we sat at the bar for several minutes without being served or even acknowledged by the bartender (and we were two of only five people in the bar!), we gave up and walked out. We found a much more comfortable spot at a tiny bar across the street, where we drank and watched sports for a while. It was weird not having any place to be, or really anything to worry about during those moments.

It was fun.

One thing we noticed during our “bar crawl”? We were never once ID’ed. In a college town, where underage drinkers try to get away with it ALL.THE.TIME!! Talk about depressing.

We called it a night early. Earlier than I care to admit, but I will say that it was well before we even saw any actual college students venture into the bars for the night, which should say something.

It says we are old.

We enjoyed a nice leisurely breakfast on Sunday morning, made for us by our hosts at the B&B. It was lovely and I would absolutely go back there to stay again. We soaked up the last hour or so of relaxing in our room before we packed up the remainder of our things and headed home to our beautiful girls.

I missed them. But it was nice to visit our roots.

 

The end of September completely sneaked up on me; I can’t believe it’s almost October!

Earlier this month, I mentioned in this post that my friends and I were planning to host another Introduction to Essential Oils webinar… and it’s TONIGHT! My apologies for the last-minute reminder!

Sunday, September 28
9:00 p.m. ET / 8:00 p.m. CT / 7:00 p.m. MT / 6:00 p.m. PT

You are ALL welcome to join us. You can watch and/or listen from the comfort of your own couch (and while you CAN see us, we can’t see you! haha). We’ll review 10 popular oils and share the ways we use them most. My friend, Chelsey—who will be giving the bulk of the presentation—is also planning some awesome giveaways for those who watch LIVE tonight, including a mini essential oils kit that includes samples of EIGHT oils!

I’ve shared here over the past six months how I started out with just a few oils, and have since integrated them into my daily life—my health, skin care, cleaning… I even use them to make my home smell nice. Whether you know nothing about oils… or you’re interested in trying essential  oils but don’t really know where to start… or if you’re new to oils and want to learn more… this webinar is for you.

If you would like to attend, please let me know ASAP so I can send you the Facebook event invitation. Email me at heatherdriveblog at yahoo dot com.

 

You guys, I never read anymore. It’s sad and pathetic, but true.

Last week, however, I was heading to Las Vegas for work—and my work commitments once I was out there were scheduled to be minimal—so I figured I would take advantage and READ something that wasn’t work related for once. Before I went, I happened to see a movie trailer for Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck. It was a pretty intriguing movie trailer, and I immediately recognized the title as a book title. Something I had heard about but never got around to reading myself (surprise, surprise). And so I thought, “Hmm. That looks pretty good. Maybe I’ll go back and read that now.”

Well, I ended up being busier than I anticipated in Vegas, so I didn’t get any poolside-with-a-book time. But I did remember to download a book to my iPad before embarking on my travels home—and Gone Girl was the one. Thank goodness, too, because I ended up being delayed six hours, many of which were spent sitting in airplanes that weren’t moving and waiting in airports. You can only check Facebook so many times. :) So I started reading, and I READ THE ENTIRE DAY. (Side note: What a rare luxury that is for a mom, huh?) I read during my flights, I read during my wait in line for boarding, I read during my layover and while I ate my dinner.

The book definitely captured my attention. Despite my many hours of reading, though, I didn’t quite finish it in one day—I had maybe 80 pages remaining. I got home late Friday night and managed to finish it over the weekend. Go me!

Anyway, if you haven’t read it, Gone Girl is the story of a married woman who suddenly goes missing under very odd circumstances. What follows is a woven web of suspicion and speculation, lies and revelations. What happened to Amy? What does Nick know?

The story is told through a combination of Nick’s first-person account, with much of the couple’s history chronicled through Amy’s past diary entries. It’s an interesting approach, which allows readers to see it all through both characters’ eyes.

Through the whole thing, I definitely wasn’t sure how it would end, and when I finally did get to to that last page? I felt like, “Wait. THAT’S it?” It wasn’t what I was expected. With this book, even when you feel a twist coming—the twist is probably not what you were thinking it might be. In that regard, I give the author some props. Overall, though, the ending wasn’t quite… satisfying. I have heard, however, that the movie ends differently, so I’m curious to see how it’s adapted—especially since it’s my understanding that the author, Gillian Flynn, adapted her own book as the writer of the screenplay.

Here’s the extended movie trailer, if you’re interested:

I like to open up the comments for people to speak freely about the entire plot (including the ending!), so if you haven’t read the book and think you might want to, or even if you want to remain largely in the dark about the movie plot… proceed to the comments with caution. :)

So those who have read it… what did you think? Did you like or dislike the ending? Are you curious about the movie? I’ve seen a few discussions in which people are actually talking about the movie being BETTER than the book—that never happens!

 

With as busy as we are these days, it’s easy to fall into ruts of cooking the same meals for dinner all of the time. Before babies, I used to seek out and try new recipes all of the time, and post about them here, too! Now? Not so much.

Well, I’m breaking the rut here, at least momentarily, to share this one with you. It was a meal that just seemed so different that I wanted to give it a shot. Turkey meatballs… with barbecue sauce… served over a quinoa salad with corn, red onion, and cheddar cheese. Yes, yes, yes, yes.

The meatballs got a big thumbs up, and I love quinoa. My only two constructive comments about this meal were that I would definitely err on the side of less onions next time. Since they’re raw (and RED onions, which have a very strong flavor to begin with), I felt that they overpowered the dish. Judging what qualifies as a “medium” onion is always a little challenging. Lesson learned. :) Also, I couldn’t really taste the cheddar in the quinoa—but that could’ve been the result of the onion issue. In any case, next time I make it, I might experiment by leaving the cheddar out, too, simply because if I’m going to eat cheese, I want to taste it. Otherwise? Wasted calories and fat, if you ask me!

I made this on a Friday night. The other thing I will do next time is more prep work in advance, particularly if I’m making it on a weeknight again. The meatballs could easily be made up in advance, and the corn, onion, etc. could be prepped for the quinoa as well. That way, when you get home, all you need to do is throw the meatballs in the oven and cook the quinoa. Done and done.

BBQ Turkey Meatballs
(Source: Pink Parsley)

Ingredients:
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 scallion, minced
- 1 Tbs minced fresh cilantro
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- pinch cayenne
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 5 Tbs BBQ sauce, divided

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, and spray lightly with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, panko, scallion, cilantro, paprika, garlic, mustard, salt, cayenne, brown sugar,  and 2 tablespoons of the BBQ sauce.  Lightly but thoroughly mix with your hands to incorporate all the ingredients.  Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup, form the mixture into balls, and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

3. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of BBQ sauce to a small bowl.

4. Bake the meatballs 11 to 12 minutes, then brush with the reserved BBQ sauce.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are cooked through (160 degrees in the center).


Cheddar-Corn Quinoa

(Source: Pink Parsley)

Ingredients:
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 ears of corn, grilled, roasted, or boiled, kernels cut from cobs
- 1/2 medium red onion, sliced into thin rings and rinsed under cold water
- 3 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 scallion, minced
- 3/4 cup freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar

Directions:
1. Bring the quinoa, broth, and a big pinch of salt to a boil in medium saucepan.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked through.

2. Remove the quinoa from heat, and add to a medium mixing bowl.  Stir in the corn, onion, cilantro, scallion, and cheese.

3. In small bowl, whisk together the oil, pepper flakes, garlic, and vinegar.  Pour over the quinoa and gently mix to combine.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

4. Serve the meatballs over the quinoa.

 

I was so busy late last week with Nora’s birthday, work, and prep for Nora’s party that I didn’t even have a chance to share with all of you a guest post I wrote for Julia over at My Life in Transition as part of her “Moms Make It Work” series.https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3911/14481562494_c527118420_m.jpg

Truthfully, I wrote this post a few months back, so if you’re a regular reader, you might notice that a few things are out of date—mainly all of our ages (we’ve had a bunch of birthdays since then), and the photos! But in the post, I discuss a bit about my background, career, and how I handle being a working mom. The biggest factor for making it work? Michael, of course. The post is about more than that, though. :)

Anyway, hop on over there to check it out if you haven’t seen it yet. And check out other posts in the series as well. It’s fun to read all about moms and their life situations, and how we all “make it work.”

 
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