Hey y'all! Long time no speak! I have been running around like a mad woman since August. To be honest, when I started collecting pictures to include this post since the last time I posted, I couldn't quite believe what all I've eaten and where all I've been in the past month (football games and Kings of Leon concert pictured). I've been to concerts and football games and I've been having a great time. Time is flying by. I normally don't like to wish time away (at least not out loud), but this has been the busiest semester I've ever had and I'm most definitely counting down the days until winter break. Having said, that I'm excited about all the football, travel and food that will happen before I get to that point. Next week is Halloween and even though I will have class at 8AM the next day, I'm still looking forward to it. The highlight for next week, though, is my trip to Long Island, NY! I am headed to the Sag Harbor Creative Nonfiction Writer's Conference. I'm terrified but super stoked to be headed northeast to get some writing time in. With school being so busy, I've barely had time to think. I work on my book weekly but I haven't been giving it enough attention. As soon as I leave for the airport Thursday morning, I'm hanging up my teaching costume and donning my writerly attire. I have no issues with traveling alone, but I am a bit nervous about going from LaGuardia to Long Island. I've gotten some great advice but traveling in NY can be confusing. I'm sure I'll figure it all out.
Before there is Long Island next week, there was Maryland a couple weeks ago. The University of Alabama sent me to Baltimore to learn about using technology in the classroom. I learned a good deal and I'm glad I got to go. It was a bit weird exploring a city alone but I felt I got a good sense of who Baltimore is... I went to Fort McHenry, peeked at an awesome, massive library, played at a fun park and visited Edgar Allen Poe's grave. Also, I ate. I enjoyed lots of great food and drinks. I ate macarons and an avocado BLT that were both tasty. I think the two most notable meals I had were the pit beef sandwich and the crab cake. Maryland is known for both. Pit beef is sweet and hearty and it didn't disappoint. What I was most enthralled by was the crab cake. I have tried crab cakes several times and I've never once liked them. They always have too much bread and the ones I've had tasted like sage...and I'm NOT a fan of sage. Well, I was told that I couldn't swing one way or another on crab cakes until I had one from Maryland and y'all, I've changed my ways. It was huge, with fresh crab meat. There was little to no filler and it was simply delicious! If you are a crab cake skeptic, let Maryland change your mind.
In terms of food around town, I have had my ups and downs as usual. I still exercise every day and because of my schedule, I'm walking around campus a lot and standing up to teach every day so I'm burning the heck out of some calories. I think that's helped. Because I have a forever sweet tooth, I'm always craving sugar. I tried out this "Cake For One" situation pictured above. It heats up in the microwave. It's not low calorie but the portion is smaller than a piece of cake I'd typically have and it was a perfect way to curb my craving. I found it tasty and easy and didn't have to worry about leftover cake haunting me. Also, because it's Halloween, I always find my way to a caramel apple. This time, I got a giant one from Kentuck Festival in Northport. I cut it into slices and savored each piece. So. Good. If you're not into apples, but you're looking for brunch in Tuscaloosa, head to Avenue Pub. I got the pork chop and it came on top a bed of potatoes, had a fried egg on top and was covered in conecuh sausage gravy. It was divine! Finally, today was the first day I tried AJ McArron's sushi restaurant AJIAN. He's a former quarterback and it became apparent today that he knows Tuscaloosa folks tend to want their sushi to taste more like food from the Hibachi grill and less like raw fish. I will eat "real" sushi, but, if I'm being honest, I prefer what I had today from their "Build Your Own Roll" menu. Mine had steak, fried shrimp, soy paper, brown rice, green onion, cream cheese and avocado. It was topped with crunchy tempura, sesames seeds, spicy may and Sriracha. It was sooooo yummy. I highly recommend.
As far as cooking goes, I haven't done much of it. I simply have not had time. I'm still relying mostly on Ian's culinary skills to get me through. (FYI, the picture of flowers above came from him. I just wanted to brag.) One thing he did make last week was a Little Big Meal from Fresh Market. Y'all, for $20, we got a pound of pasta, sauce, cheese, salad and four GIGANTIC chicken breasts. It really is their best deal. I tell you about this because I discovered that at places like Target and Fresh Market, you can now pay an exorbitant amount for zoodles so you don't have to waste your precious energy making your own. It's a first world luxury but that night, I wasn't mad at it. I like to eat about half zoodles and then mix in some regular past with it to play a fun mental game with myself where I trick myself into believing that zucchini and pasta are the same. Anyway, y'all know I'm a proud supported of the Little Big Meal.
I wanted to share with y'all that my mom and I have been participating in a self defense class for women the past month. Now, I'm not one to judge folks for having guns but they aren't my bag. There are definitely pro-gun murmurings in the class because they discuss them the first day and have an optional range day to round out the class, so if you can't even talk about guns, much less shoot one, either prepare to take their discussion on guns as a grain of salt or choose not to do it all together. Having said that, I highly recommend taking the class in T-Town (let me know if you're interested, I'll pass along the info) or taking it anywhere you can. They teach you practical skills to escape a potential predator. The class has made both my Mom and me feel more confident in case something happens. I think overall it has been an empowering and enjoyable experience.
When it comes to exercise, as I mentioned, I'm still going strong. I go to 9 Round 4 or 5 times a week and last week, they did a fundraiser for breast cancer. Why they always want me to take pictures AFTER a workout, I'm not sure, but that's OK. Also, I was going to tell you about my bunion woes. I'm so embarrassed to talk about this and I'm not sure why. Bunion is just the ugliest word. I have had bunions on both feet for years. I assume it comes from a combo of my fluctuation in weight, flat feet and years of wearing really tall shoes. Now, I suffer for it on a daily basis. The bunion on my right foot doesn't just hurt sometimes, it hurts ALL the time now. Even when I'm asleep in bed, it will throb in pain. Ibuprofen helps a bit but the over the counter bunion wrap thing I tried didn't work. Apparently, unless you have a very painful surgery, there's not much that can be done about it. So, basically, I just wanted to complain.