Monday, March 29, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Ever since Andrew and I got our free tickets to the NASCAR race in Martinsville, we have been so excited about the big day and getting to see the race (and all that comes with it) in person. So, you can imagine our anxieties as we obsessively checked the weather forecast and we kept seeing rain for Sunday. As the day got closer, we were optimistic that we would get to see at least some racing.

So off we went to Martinsville at 7:30 on Sunday morning. As we were driving to Martinsville, which is a little over an hour south of Roanoke, we could tell that about 75% of everyone else on the road was headed to the same destination, just by their fan gear and car decals. We could tell that we were getting close when we saw two state police cars every 100 yards and people standing in front of their house or place of business with signs offering race parking for $10 - $20. Since we got there plenty early, we opted for the free parking right outside of the track.

We had a good amount of time to kill before the race actually started, so we walked outside of the track looking at all of the souvenir vendors and exhibits. Andrew got a Tony Stewart hat and I got a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series t-shirt. We also picked up some free samples from some of the exhibits. Then we went and stood behind the people who are on TV before the race starts. We tried to see ourselves on TV but I don't think the camera ever pointed in our direction.

So after walking around for a while, we were getting a little cold, seeing as how it was only 40 degrees and not sunny (we were also mildly unprepared for how cold it was). So we went and sat in the warm car, ate some snacks, and waited until it was closer to racing time. Once we had thawed out, we made our way to the track.

Andrew was pretty excited for our first race!

Once we found our seats, we were pretty pleased with how great they were. This is the amazing view we had from our seats.

Here we are just waiting for the race to start.

The cars were all lined up ready to go. Tony Stewart in the #14 car (Andrew's favorite driver) was starting 5th.

After sitting for a while on cold metal seats in the on-and-off drizzle (I think I saw a few snowflakes, too) waiting for the track to dry, I needed to move around. So we decided to go get some Famous Martinsville Speedway Hot Dogs. They really are famous, and I'm pretty sure it's just because they are red. They are only $2, too! You can read more about them in an interview with The Famous Martinsville Speedway Hot Dog.

Up close and personal with The Famous Martinsville Speedway Hot Dog.

Me enjoying my hot dog. It was yummy!

After we had eaten our hot dogs, we went back and saw that they were still drying the track with their jet engine dryers (below). As you can see, they weren't really making much progress and the continued drizzle wasn't helping their efforts.

After a little while, the dryers finally turned off as a signal that they had given up the fight against the impending storm. The race would be delayed until Monday at noon, and unfortunately we knew we wouldn't be able to come. You can imagine just how sad and disappointed we were. Just in case you can't, here's how sad we were:

So sad.

Talk about a tease! We got to experience everything that has to do with NASCAR, except for the actual racing. Talking on the way home, Andrew and I agreed that, although we didn't get to see any racing, we still had a lot of fun. And we also agreed that we would absolutely have to go to the October race in Martinsville, even if we have to actually pay for our tickets.

To help warm our bodies and spirits, I made a yummy "Tony Stewart Chicken Pot Pie" for dinner. Those are supposed to be cars, not dinosaurs.

So, don't worry...we are bound and determined to experience an actual NASCAR race eventually. But for now, we must wait and just watch it on TV.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March Madness

Andrew and I have stayed very busy since the beginning of March; so busy that I haven't been able to update the blog! So, here's what we've been up to...

The Biltmore
The first weekend in March we took my parents to Asheville, NC, to visit the Biltmore. Back in November when we went with Andrew's family, Andrew and I purchased season passes so that we could go back as many times as we wanted to this year. As part of being season passholders, we were sent free admission tickets so that we could take guests along with us. My parents had never been to the Biltmore before, so we decided to take them. I think they really enjoyed their trip and seeing the Biltmore. We enjoyed spending time with them and seeing the Biltmore again, too. After a very long day of walking, we went out to dinner and we called it a night by 8:00 because we were so tired. Before we left for home the next day, we stopped by the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, which is a beautiful hotel that was built in 1913.

The Biltmore

My parents

Andrew and me on our long walk to the pond

This is a picture of the Grove Park Inn from their website. I didn't really get any good pictures of it and they were doing some construction on it so this one looks better.

Anna and Brandon's Wedding
Last weekend Andrew and I went to Lynchburg for the wedding of my friend, Anna. Anna was my discipler at Roanoke College and she was also one of my bridesmaids, so it was great to be a part of their special day. They just looked so happy to be getting married!

The beautiful house where the reception was

The first dance

Cutting the cake

Leaving the reception

Andrew and me at the reception

We're going to NASCAR!
Back in the fall I had the idea of getting us tickets to the NASCAR race in Martinsville (sort of as a surprise for Andrew), but after we talked about it we decided to be disciplined and save our money. Fast forward to last weekend when I was looking through the Kroger ad, you can imagine my excitement when I saw this offer...

So when I saw this in the Kroger ad, I mentioned it to Andrew and we decided to go for it. At first it sounded like a lot of hoops to jump through to get the tickets, but it really wasn't that bad. In order to get to $135, we had to spend a little more than we normally do, so we just stocked up on a few things. The specific products that we had to buy aren't things we would have normally bought, but they are things that we will use eventually and they didn't add too much to the total bill, so it wasn't totally unnecessary. It was like a grocery store scavenger hunt as we went shopping, adding everything up on the calculator on the cell phone and making sure we got all of the right products. After our receipt printed out with the voucher number, we went home and immediately called to get our tickets. We thought they would be cheap backstretch front row tickets, but we were pleasantly surprised to find out that they were decent tickets that would have normally been $65 each! We are pretty proud of our score and we are really excited to go to the race, which is next Sunday.

Apples of Gold
Last Fall I had the joy of going through a Bible study called Apples of Gold. It is based on Titus 2:3-5, which says, "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home; to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." Each week the older women ("mentors") meet with the younger women ("mentees") and discuss the topics of kindness, loving your husband, loving your children, submission, purity, and hospitality. There is also a cooking demonstration each week along with a delicious meal to share. And of course, everyone gets a copy of the recipe to try out at home. While I was a "mentee" during the last session, this time I am doing what I can to help out in the kitchen and with the preparation and cleanup of the meals. Also, my mom is a "mentor" this time and will be leading the session on hospitality. So far I have really enjoyed doing what I can to help out and I have enjoyed picking up a few new recipes, too. The first week we had a yummy Fiesta Chicken Soup. It was so good that I made it for us the next week. Here's the recipe...

Corn Tortilla Chips
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. vegetable oil
1 31 oz. can refried beans
2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 14.5 oz. can chicken broth
4 c. chopped cooked chicken
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1 8 oz. container sour cream
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese

Saute chopped onion and minced garlic in hot vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until tender. Add refried beans and next 4 ingredients*, stirring until smooth; bringing mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in chopped cilantro**, if desired.

Ladle into individual soup bowls, dollop with sour cream, and top with cheese and crushed tortilla chips. Serve immediately. Makes about 14 cups.

*I also added some frozen corn
**I used a few shakes of dried cilantro instead of fresh cilantro

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
We had a St. Patrick's Day potluck at work, so I made some green cupcakes to bring. They were really yummy and they were all gone by the end of the day!

Spring has Sprung!
Yesterday marked the first official day of Spring. I think with the snowy winter we had, Spring has been more welcomed than ever around here. To celebrate Spring, or maybe just the fact that it was a beautiful day, Andrew and I went on a bike ride on the Roanoke River and Tinker Creek Greenways. It was really nice to be outside enjoying the warm weather. There were lots of people out and we unexpectedly ran into my parents, too!

Andrew getting the bikes all ready to go

Me looking all cool on my bike

Andrew and me on the Greenway

My parents with their new bikes on the Greenway

So as you can see, we have had a pretty eventful March so far. Next weekend we have the NASCAR race in Martinsville, and the weekend following that is Easter and the beginning of Andrew's Spring Break. I will be taking that week off from work, too, so I am counting down the days!