Today is my last day as a 27 year old. Tomorrow is my birthday and I turn 28.  I think that means I can no longer cling to the illusion that I’m in my “mid-20’s.”  It’s official. I’m in my “late-20’s.” Weird.

I thought today would be a good day to look back and see what I did with my 27th year.  It seems we so often look back on a year and can’t remember what we did with our time. Luckily, I take photos obsessively so I’ve got it all documented. Here’s what I found…

I started by 27th year in Charlotte, NC for Katie’s bachelorette party. It was a long drive but a great trip. I had my first experience with crackle nail polish, made some new friends and had the best time ever at Howl at the Moon! I love this group because they just love to have fun (and because I’m not the tallest -LOVE YOU RACH!)

Chris, Tracy, my dad and myself took our annual trip up to the Lake of the Woods. My favorite part of the 2011 trip- wine slushies! This trip is always the most fun, relaxing rejuvenating part of my summer and I cannot wait to go again this year at the end of August!

In late August, I headed off to DC for my first Blogpaws and Lauren’s bachelorette party.  What a whirlwind weekend! And speaking of the winds, Hurricane Irene tried to keep us down. She failed.

Our late summer/early fall was dotted with monthly weddings. We celebrated with 3 sets of friends – Katie & Danny, Russ & Summer and Jack & Lauren.

In December we welcomed the newest addition to the Radak household – Cosmo Kramer!

New Years Eve was its typical ridiculous self. DC. Beer Olympics. Togas. Enough said.

Spring was all about Ragtime. What an amazing experience. It will probably be my fondest memory from my 27th year. Thank you to everyone who made it such an incredible experience- cast, crew, staff, audiences, EVERYONE!

Finally, I have to mention the Eve 6 concert. This felt like a circle being completed. I have waited years to see them live and it was totally worth it. Meeting the guys was definitely a perk as well.

So, what will 28 bring? Well I’m starting off with a little birthday bash at the Tremont Taphouse.  Photos to come, I’m sure!

Guest Post on Peace, Love & Bagels

Ahhhh! My day was so crazy yesterday that I forgot to tell you about my guest post on Peace, Love & Bagels!  My fantastic blogger friend, Becca, is getting married on Saturday and she asked if I might guest post while she’s off being fabulous. Well, of course! I can’t turn down an offer like that.

Becca’s blog is all about having a healthy lifestyle- running, yoga, eating healthy. Since I’m bad at 2 out of 3 of those things (my yoga is improving weekly!), I decided to post about something I do know about – being a bride! Hop over for my wedding day advice to Becca.

I kinda miss being a bride… excuse me while I go sit around in my wedding dress, look at my album and reminisce.

21 down… 4 to go! Scene Challenge Update

I’m so close to being done I can practicallyvtaste it! Get it? HA! Only a year behind my original deadline. Funny how life gets in the way, huh?

19. Slyman’s Deli (Downtown)
I went with:
Price:  About $25
What we had: Chris had their famous corned beef sandwich, I had a turkey Reuben and fries.
Food:  The food was delicious. Chris was especially in love with his corned beef. He even cleaned his plate.
Service was quick and we must have picked just the right time to go because we didn’t have to wait for a table!
Summary: I wish this place had hours that allowed it to be easier for me to get to. They are only open for breakfast and lunch during the week and are closed on the weekend. I had to go on a day I was heading down to Columbus for work in the afternoon. I picked up Chris from work to grab lunch. Otherwise, delicious!



20. Li Wah (Downtown)
I went with:
About half the cast of Ragtime (seriously there was about 25 of us after a show)
Price:  $27 (but Hannah split the cost of the Hurricane with me so really it was a little less than that)
What we had: There is no way I can name what everybody had for this one so I’ll just say that I had the General Tso’s Chicken and split the Hurricane with Hannah
Food:  You know it’s going to be a good night when you drink comes to the table on fire! It probably would have been smart of me to try it before I spooned the shot in the middle into the drink. It was PRETTY STRONG!  The General Tso’s chicken was pretty standard. A little spicier than most but generally very good.
Service was so-so. Granted, we had A LOT of people to take care of. Only thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the fact that they didn’t tell us gratuity was included and it wasn’t easy to tell on the hand-written check. Very sneaky, Li Wah!
Summary: Great restaurant. I’ve been there before and normally get the bubble tea. YUM!


21. Lolita (Tremont)
I went with:
Price:  Total was $65. I had a $25 gift certificate from Christmas so we paid $40.
What we had: Chris had 2 beers and I had a glass of wine. We started with the Duck Meatballs. For a main course, I had the Soppressata pizza and Chris had the Buccatini pasta.
Food: Michael Symon knows what he’s doing! The Duck Meatballs were juicy and delicious with the perfect tomato sauce.  My pizza was spicy and satisfying and Chris’s pasta was completely delicious. 
Service was very good. They are great about keeping water filled and, while it took a while for our entrees to come out, it didn’t feel like we were waiting too long.
Summary:  Always a good choice. If you are adventurous with food, you can order pretty much anything and be happy.  You might not know what it means when you order it off the menu, but you are guaranteed that it will taste good.


Only 4 left!!!!! (Click here, here, here, here, here and here for more Scene Restaurant Challenge posts)

BlogPaws in Photos

I had an amazing time at BlogPaws this year. The pet community is truly a unique and wonderful group.  While this isn’t a “pet blog” per say, I spend a lot of time loving on my boys here and my experience working at Embrace Pet Insurance has led me to learn LOTS about the pet community.

BlogPaws focuses on pet blogging and is a place for education, connection and fun.  I went to some amazing seminars on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook that will be incredibly useful for work. I also made some new friends on this trip. Check out my photos. I think you’ll be able to tell what a great time I had!!

Trick dog, Paige, stole my heart (and my beer!)

Flat Henry wasn’t the only cardboard pet I played with…

What an honor to meet trick dog, Jasmine! She won Best Video at the awards ceremony Saturday night!

My new friend from Texas- Kari of Hound Girl!

That’s it- next year Henry is COMING WITH ME! (Seriously, I already booked the trip and Henry’s coming!!)

Sightseeing in SLC

Hello, from Salt Lake City!  Embrace CEO Laura Bennett and I arrived VERY late Wednesday night.  When I woke up in my hotel room Thursday morning, I got my first view of the mountains around Salt Lake (and the AC unit on the roof outside my hotel room).  We did a few quick drop ins at vet offices in the area and then had a rehearsal for a top secret flash mob that happened this morning at breakfast (more on that later).

After rehearsal we went to lunch at The Robin’s Nest. What a find! This restaurant was voted Best Vegetarian sandwich in Utah and, on that promise, they deliver.  Laura went vegetarian and I, the consummate carnivore, had a sandwich with turkey, bacon, melted provolone, tomato, lettuce, ranch and avocado. DELICIOUS.

The sandwiches gave us just the energy we needed for the trip ahead.  You see, since we did the drop ins that morning, we had a rental car just for the day.  With the conference coming up and, with it, a lot of time spent in our hotel, we decided to take advantage and see the site this city was named after- The Great Salt Lake.

We picked a spot off the map called Antelope Island State Park.  Antelope Island is an island in the lake that is connected to the mainland by a long road that must have been built up long ago to provide access.  The drive took an hour but it was totally worth it.  There were bison and buffalo roaming the island (thankfully not too close to our rented Fiat!), a working ranch that had been on the island since the mid-1800’s, look-out points and a beach.

We stopped by the ranch first – learning a little of it’s history, checking out the horses and seeing the old outbuilding set-up as they would have been 100 years ago.  I even roped a steer saw-horse with a head on it on my second try! Now, I know how The Pioneer Woman must feel!!

After our very quick tour of the ranch, we took some photos and put our feet in the lake. While I’m glad to say I did it, it was not an experience I need again.  We disturbed a colony of flies (video below) and, when we got it out, our legs left like we had submerged them in a chalk residue from all the salt left behind.

Here’s some photos of the fabulous views, bison and salt lake wading…

And, of course, I can’t forget the fly video:

Seeing Double

One of these Beagles is coming to Blogpaws with me and the other is staying home. I wish it was the other way around. The cranky looking one is my favorite. Sadly, he’s just a bit on the heavy side for a carry-on and I think the TSA frowns on dogs in checked luggage.  Au revoir best friend, I’ll be back from Salt Lake soon!! 😦


June is Bustin’ Out All Over

10 nerd points to anyone who can tell me where that reference comes from!

Oh my! June has been quite the month for travel. We’re 18 days in and I’ve already been to Columbus and Florida and on Wednesday I leave for Blogpaws in Salt Lake City. My sleeping schedule is a mess from all the travel but my heart is so full and my skin is so tan.  These are the times you look back and remember but, man, are they tiring while they are happening.

Here’s a look into the last few weeks thanks to my Iphone. First, Columbus where I spent some quality time with one of my favorite families and their new pup, hit the zoo with the GDI’s and had some drinks and dinner with Megan.  I have to say that the trip made me nostalgic for college.  If I could move my family and my job down there, I’d move to C-bus in a heartbeat!

Ann and Josie (who I hadn’t seen since she was a baby- WHAT A CUTIE!) trying to figure out how we get to lunch. If only we could have gotten into the map like Joey on Friends.

Michelle pretending to be a penguin because…well, she’s Michelle!

Wes and Isaac at the Columbus Zoo.

Naomi and Goldendoodle puppy, Guthrie

$5 Cosmo at Bar 23 with Megan

Naomi with her flowers after Columbus Dance Theatre’s “The Jungle Book.” Gabe was in it too but he’s anti-photo these days.

Next was a quick trip to Tampa with my dad.  Sadly, my grandma’s had a rough year battling lung cancer and most recently pneumonia.  She’s 88 years old and a true fighter so we’re hoping for the best. She was in the hospital when we got there but moved to a rehab facility on Thursday.  While there was no way she was going to let me take her picture, I had fun looking through all her photo albums.  I even brought one to the hospital for us to look through together. It led to lots of good stories! When we weren’t with grandma, dad and I went to the pool, the beach, and the bar. All good times!!

I found this photo when going through an album with my grandma. I adore it. From left to right are my dad, my grandma and my uncle Dave. How cool do they look? Like right off a Hollywood set.

After I was done being quizzed by the matriarchs of the community, I had to get a photo of the weathered Piney Point safety ring at the pool. Thanks to my Camera Awesome app for the great effect!

Seagulls at the Manatee County beach. They sure were brave.

Hopefully, I’ll feel especially motivated to post while I’m at Blogpaws this weekend.  Keep an eye out for an increase in posting as my crazy June winds down.  How’s your month going?

In Dog Years

Henry will be 4 years old on Friday. Along with wondering where the last three and a half years went, I’ve been thinking about how that will make him 28 in human years (7 dogs years to 1 human year).  That means that, right now, Henry is 27 in human years.  We are the same age.  From here on out, Henry will be older than I am. It’s strange to think about my dog eclipsing me in age.  Luckily, Henry and I have had a chat and he has agreed to live forever. THANK GOD because that little Beagle boy is one of the best things to ever happen to me.

Henry & me on the day I brought him home.

“27 year old” Henry relaxing in barely tolerating Julie’s pool over Memorial Day weekend.

P.S. I do realize I haven’t been here in a while. I have a lot to write about- life has just been getting in the way!

Find me at The Retro Kitchen

As I mentioned in this morning’s post, I’m over at The Retro Kitchen today as part of the OBA blog swap sharing my favorite chili recipe! Go check it out!!

OBA Blog Swap Guest Post from My Retro Kitchen

Hey Everybody- As a part of today’s Ohio Blogging Association‘s All State Blog Swap, I’m happy to introduce you to Amie from My Retro Kitchen. On this day, bloggers from around the great state of Ohio are guest posting on one another blogs as a way to help to get one another in our blogging community. For a full listing of blog swap participants, please visit Poise in Parma today.  I am totally in awe of Amie’s talents as a mom and abilities in the kitchen.  Keep an eye out for my guest post on her blog this afternoon!

my family, my life

Hi everyone!  My name is Amie and I write the cooking blog My Retro Kitchen.  Since becoming a mom myself I have noticed, although I hope it to be a dying trend, that the art of a home-cooked, sit-down family dinner is a thing of the past. It is a retro idea. People are busy, kids sports schedules are hectic and goodness, it can just get hard to have a moment to talk to one another, let along cook a meal and all eat it at the same table at the same time.  But truly I believe it is one of the best things a person can give their family! So My Retro Kitchen is full of recipes that anyone can make at home, they don’t take a lot of time and shouldn’t cost you a lot in the process.  Cooking for your family doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can be delicious and from the heart.

When the Ohio Blogging Association put together this blog swap together, I was thrilled to be pared with Sara!  At our last meet up, she and I got to sit next to one another.  I had such a nice time chatting and getting to know her.  It is always so much fun to actually sit face to face with a blogger you read online all the time!!  So thank you so much Sara for letting me take over your page for the day.

As a stay at home to two very, very active little boys- Jackson my Super Hero 5 year old and Owen, the busy 18 month old (who-thinks-he-is-five!), I often get asked if I really do cook for my family every day. And how in the world I can do it!! Of course we do have our occasional declared pizza nights, but aside from that, yes I choose to bless my family in the way.  For healthy happy bellies make healthy happy children and husbands!  Sarah asked if I could share some tips to making nightly home cooking simple, and not as time consuming as it seems.  I promise you can all do it!

Weekly Meal Plans I think one of the most cost efficient ways to kick-start nightly home cooking is to create a weekly meal plan.  This is actually a process that I discovered not to very long ago but now swear by it!  My meal plan isn’t broken down into strict Monday we will eat This and Tuesday we will eat That.  But I do decide the night before I go shopping for the 2 week pay schedule what dinners we will eat across those 14 days, and then shop according to those recipes.  That way all I have to do is peek at my “Menu” on the fridge where have a ton of ideas (that I also know I have all of the ingredients for on hand) and dinner is a snap.  There is nothing worse then having this great idea for dinner, you start cooking and realize you need some beans, canned tomatoes or maybe rice noodles and fish sauce.  Out to the store you go.  Not very time saving or cost efficient.

Stock Your Pantry Going along with the weekly meal plan is also the importance of a stocked pantry.  I don’t mean going crazy and buying 10 cans of tomato sauce at the bulk store.  But having one or two extra items of the things you go thorough most often along with a few “special” ingredients for when a fun idea hits you.  I love playing with Ethnic recipes, so for these I like to pick up some of the not so everyday (for me) items to have on hand. There is something about a nice stocked pantry that makes me smile from ear to ear.  Ohhh the choices!!  Don’t do it all at one time, just maybe buy an extra bottle of ketchup or those two for one cans of kidney beans each time you shop.  You won’t notice the expense in your weekly shopping, but your pantry will get full fast.

Make Use of Your Freezer Another thing I find hugely helpful is making two batches at a time when I am putting together a recipe like a casseroles, enchiladas, or homemade raviolis (won ton wrappers are a great time saver for these by the way!) and even breakfast muffins- one for a meal that day and another to wrap in plastic and foil and placing in the freezer for another night down the road.  You already have the ingredients on the counter so it takes not all that much extra time now but saves you a world of time when you get home a little later then usual in a couple weeks and the thought of making a full dinner makes you groan.  All you have to do is pull that tray of enchiladas out of the freezer and pop it in the oven. Dinner is ready in 25 minutes and you did nothing… but your family raves of your Super Ability!  All it takes is a little pre-planning.

I could go on and on all of the simple changes you can make in your routine to make dinner time a family tradition.  But with so many tips I think I have found a new weekly blog post on my Retro Kitchen! Thanks Sara! lol.

So now I am going to share with you one of my most favorite, and also most popular recipes on My Retro Kitchen.  My Spaghetti and Meatball Pie.  Everyone loves spaghetti and meatballs and how many of us have it as a regular item on your rotating meals?!  Well this recipe takes the basic idea of the dish, but gives it a little spin to turn it into something completely new and delicious.  And the best part of it- it freezes awesome!

Spaghetti and Meatball Pie
8 oz. dry spaghetti noodles (half a box)
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 well-beaten eggs
1 lb ground turkey or beef, divided (1/4 for meatballs and 3/4 for in the skillet sauce)
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup-1 cup shredded zucchini (optional)
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 bell pepper, chopped (optional)
1 (8-oz.) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes (don’t drain) or 4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese (I prefer cottage cheese for this, but both work. I use whatever I happen to have on hand)
1/2 cup Mozzarella or Moneterey Jack cheese, shredded

For the meatballs (makes about 4-6 meatballs)
the reserved 1/4 lb ground meat
8 ritz crackers, crushed (or 1/4 cup bread crumbs)
1 teaspoon fresh oregano chopped
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and roll into golfball-sized meatballs. Brown on all sides and set aside.

For the pie

1. Cook spaghetti noodles. Drain. Stir margarine into hot noodles until melted. Stir in Parmesan cheese and eggs. Form pasta mixture into a crust shape in a buttered 9-inch pie plate.

2. In skillet, cook ground beef and onions, bell pepper and mushrooms until meat is browned. Drain. Add to meat mixture, tomatoes, zucchini, tomato paste, oregano and garlic. Heat through. Spread cottage cheese over bottom of spaghetti crust.

3. Top with tomato/meat mixture.

4. Cut the meatballs in half and arrange on top.

5. Sprinkle grated cheese over all.

Lightly cover pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes until cheese is lightly browned. Cut into pie wedges and serve.

Special Note: You can also prepare this dish ahead of time and freeze for later. If you want to go this route, you will cover your pie pan with plastic wrap and foil right after assembly; label and freeze. When you are ready to serve: Thaw. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes at 350 F. Remove foil and bake for 5 minutes more until cheese is lightly browned.  If you prepare this in a disposable foil pan you even have less dishes to do!