Ireland Vacation 2003

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today reminds me of the brilliant vacation Jim and I spent touring around Ireland in 2003. We still talk about it as one of our “best vacations ever”. Even the Guinness tastes better in Ireland. Sláinte!

Guinness Toast in Ireland

Guinness toast in Ireland

It was the first big trip we planned together (other than our honeymoon to St. Thomas). It was my 1st trip out of the US, and Jim’s first trip beyond North America. I did a lot of research online, booked our flight and rental car, purchased bed & breakfast vouchers that we would book and redeem as we traveled, mapped out a general route, and made  this old-school webpage Continue reading

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My warm-season lawn vs. the HOA

We live in a Traditional Neighborhood Development in the heart of the triangle in Morrisville, NC. Our house was built in 2006 and sodded with cool-season Fescue grass like every yard and green space in the development. That lawn looked unsightly for years and died. Now we have a beautiful lawn of Zoysia, and we love our healthy, climate-appropriate grass.

When we received notice that we were in violation of the architectural guidelines for our neighborhood,  I went to the board of directors meeting of the HOA to defend our lawn. I walked them through the following information… which I told them I hoped would shed some light on why we decided to plant Zoysia and why we want to make it an approved grass for our lawn. (By the way… it’s not documented in the architectural guidelines or other HOA documents that the grass has to be Fescue anyway.)


Zoysia is a warm-season grass

Zoysia is a warm-season grass that is drought-tolerant and thrives in hot summer months. It is green in the summer Continue reading

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Violins, Bugs, Tacos, and Dinosaurs

Today was a perfect family day in Raleigh:

  • Bugs, violins, and ballet dancers
  • Tacos and sangria
  • Dinosaurs
  • Around the state capitol
  • On a sunny day in March
  • With Patrick, Mom, and Dad
Jim and Patrick on the Capitol steps

Jim and Patrick on the capitol steps

See? Just perfect. One to savor.

We started the day Continue reading

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Paleo Breakfast for my Visiting Aunts

My aunts (who happen to be two of my favorite people) were passing through the Raleigh area this morning, and I was thrilled to have them over for breakfast. They both follow the Paleo Diet, so my original idea of whole-wheat pancakes was not a good fit. Instead I found an easy video recipe for crust-less quiche that fits Paleo guidelines.

The recipe starts with lots of chopped veggies. Continue reading

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Why I’m on Pinterest

I want to share the Pinterest-related tech tip I figured out this weekend, so first let me tell you why I like Pinterest. In case you’re not sold yet. Really? You’re not on Pinterest yet? <wink/>

A few friends mentioned Pinterest late in summer 2011 (thanks Erin and Martha), but after taking a quick look I didn’t understand why I would want an account. It looked like a bunch of ads for stuff that didn’t interest me. Then I started planning Patrick’s second birthday party, and I fell in love with the ability to collect my ideas from various blogs and stores to view them as an image board. Pinterest let me store all my ideas about party favors, decorations, and the food in one place online, accessible from my phone or laptop. Besides “pinning” my own ideas to my board, I loved searching Pinterest to find other people who already grouped the best-of-the-best truck party ideas on their own boards. I didn’t like that it was public and could lead to “party spoilers”, but I loved how the theme of his construction-truck party was coming together. Guess I’m not alone… this board has 192 other followers:

My Pinterest board for Patrick's Construction-truck birthday party

Since November I’ve expanded my Pinterest world to include boards Continue reading

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Real Food Pledge: Day 7 & 8

(We completed a very successful 10-day Real Food Pledge in October 2011, but I am catching the blog up to date after a LONG vacation.)

Days 7 and 8 of the Real Food Pledge fell on the weekend. In some ways the weekend is easier because there is time to go to the farmers market and prepare great meals. On the other hand, this weekend was more social than the weekdays, and it was tougher to stick to the pledge with other people providing my food. Of course it was a lot of fun… and worth losing some control over food options. Plus, one friend made us an incredible spread of all real food!

Saturday morning we enjoyed frozen whole wheat pancakes, left-over from day 1. I froze them in packs of three, but next time I will add a piece of freezer paper or wax paper between each one. That will make them easier to defrost/toast than a stack of three:

Toasting frozen whole-wheat pancakes

After breakfast Patrick and I went to the Western Wake farmers market Continue reading

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Back to the blog

I’m trying to pick up where I left off with the 10-day Real Food Pledge, but it’s difficult to remember last week… much less October. Good thing I took photos. I feel an obligation to report what we ate and how we made choices towards whole, local, seasonal, healthy foods. So I’ll see what I can pull together… then get on to other topics.

Until then, here’s a video of Patrick saying his last name.  This was in the summer before he started preschool… when he still knew that “Balhoff” was his last name instead of “Patrick B.” There are two Patrick’s in his preschool class of eight, so now he’s “Patrick B”.

His version of Balhoff is more like Ha-Hoff:

Patrick tries to say his last name!21-months

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The winner of $5 to Worth It Cafe is…

Thanks to everyone who participated in the $5 gift certificate give-away to Worth It Cafe! I drew a random number (thanks, to determine the winner. And the winner is…

** LINN **

Linn, I’ll send you an email about collecting your prize! Congratulations!

Many thanks to the owners of Worth It Cafe, Chuck and Aileen Hayworth, for sponsoring this give-away! I’ll see you for lunch again very soon.

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Real Food Pledge: Day 6

Friday I got a break from cooking! I didn’t plan to, but it’s good to be flexible. I prefer to plan ahead for this food pledge, but it’s not too hard to be spontaneous and make good choices when necessary.

We started our adventures with a stroll along the art museum greenway with another fun toddler buddy. I think Patrick ate the entire trip: homemade granola, drinkable apple sauce, a banana, and dried pear chips.

Stroller-snacking buddies

We ran some errands in Raleigh, and as it got later and I watched Patrick get sleepy, I realized Continue reading

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Real Food Pledge: Day 5

Thursday was the first time I went out to eat during the Real Food Pledge, and I accidentally made it more challenging than necessary. I had lunch at the wonderful Worth It Cafe in the shopping center at the corner of Alexander and S. Miami in RTP/Durham. I wasn’t familiar with their menu; I just knew they served “Farm Fresh ~ Chef Created ~ Daily Lunch Specials”. I didn’t know their meat is from local, pasture-based farms and they have whole-grain bread from Neomonde. So I ordered a green salad with their balsamic vinaigrette (after I verified it contains no sugar) and fruit salad. Very fresh, light, and tasty. But I should’ve had a sandwich!

Farm Fresh ~ Chef Created ~ Daily Lunch Specials ~ Hey you're worth it!

I met the owners, Chuck and Aileen Hayworth, after lunch and found out their food philosophy fits really well Continue reading

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