Sunday, January 31, 2016

Life as the Trauma Chief

Let's see . . . last I left off I had just returned home after a wonderful Christmas week in Atlanta.  It was unusually warm and my last day of vacation was spent sitting outside in the North Georgia Mountains sipping wine.  Life just seemed so perfect!

If my absence here is any indications, things in Charlotte have been non-stop crazy since New Year's week.  December 28th marked my start of my 3 month stint as the orthopaedic trauma chief.  It may sound a glitzy title, but I assure you there's nothing fun or glamorous about it.  There just simply aren't enough hours in the week to enjoy yourself when you spend 80+ hours at work.  The good news is that as of today, the first 5 weeks are behind me.  The bad news is that I still have 9 weeks to go.

Along with the rest of the east coast, Charlotte was pounded by winter storm Jonas last week.  The ice started in the early morning hours on Friday, just in time to make my 4:30am drive to work a little slippery.

Road conditions deteriorated during the day, and rendered me and my 2-wheel drive car stranded at the hospital overnight.  Nearly 40 hours later after Saturday call (plenty of accidents and falls on ice generating orthopaedic injuries!), I made it home.

I've had just a couple weekends off in the past five weeks and I was fortunate enough to spend one of those with a horrible stomach virus.  I'll spare you the details and just say I spent most of the day on the bathroom floor.  When I do have a rare Saturday or Sunday to sleep in, I've been spending a couple lazy hours in bed with a mug of tea, reading a book, or watching the Today Show.  

A little while later, I wonder down to the kitchen and make breakfast - typical pancakes or eggs.  It's simple pleasures such as these that I've come to cherish amongst the hectic schedule this month.

This morning's breakfast was enjoyed al fresco in the sunshine and included eggs with salt, pepper, and rosemary, an english muffin, and warm cinnamon apples.

Here are a few meals from December that never found their way off my camera.  First up was a mix of roasted vegetables - cinnamon dusted acorn squash drizzled with molasses, green beans, a mixm of radishes and turnips, and sautéed greens.

Another night featured a chopped veggie salad topped with a veggie burger and served with some roasted sweet potatoes.

And finally, one of my favorite weekend lunches - a fried egg sandwich on cranberry orange bread with spinach, tomato, and a smear of pumpkin cream cheese.  Delicious!

My current dinner strategy is to make a large meal on Sunday night and then eat it in various forms throughout the week.  Last Sunday's prep work resulted in some great easy dinners this week, which are critical when I get home late and want nothing more than to go to bed.  I roasted purple sweet potatoes on one sheet pan, a mix of snap peas and mushrooms on another sheet pan, prepared multicolor quinoa, and sautéed red cabbage with some apple cider vinegar.  At the same time I prepared a vegan garlic "cheese" sauce from Veganomicon.  Once it was all ready, I put a scoop of quinoa on a place, topped with the vegetables and sweet potatoes, and drizzled some sauce over the top.  I looked forward to that meal every night of the week!

This weekend's weather is exactly why I love living in the south.  Last weekend we froze in a mix of ice and snow.  This weekend, however the sun has been bright and temperatures have been in the high 60s.  I've spent a couple hours each day soaking up some vitamin D and catching up on sleep on the lounge chair on my deck.

Yesterday I enjoyed a beautifully sunny 10 mile run, and today's forecast was so wonderful that it meant my first bike ride outside since November.  Two hours on a bike with friends in the sunshine was exactly what I needed to carry me through another week of trauma.

Tomorrow morning, it's back to 3am workouts in the darkness before a 4:30am drive to work.  But for now, I'm going to finish enjoying my Sunday, which includes a Queen's Feast meal at Luce tonight!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Very Merry Christmas 2015

My weeklong Christmas vacation in Atlanta kicked off with an annual tradition - the Atlanta Christmas 5k followed by breakfast at Highland Bakery.  It was near freezing at the start, which would turn out to be the only cold morning of a week that otherwise saw record high temperatures.  Bailey and I ran together and crossed the line in 20:28, fast enough for 1st place dog and 1st place age group.  We even ran back to catch Dad and let Bailey cross the finish line once again.

Breakfast at Highland Bakery is the real reason we get out of our warm beds on an early Saturday morning to go for a run.  I was craving something more savory, so opted for the tofu scramble with lots of vegetables and roasted potatoes.  I saved a slice of their cranberry nut toast for a snack.

Saturday evening we had a warming meal of tortellini soup and kale caesar salads while playing dominoes.

Mom always plans an abundance of delicious meals for my visits, but this one definitely stands out as a favorite.  Lemon fettuccini pasta was mixed with a white wine sauce and tossed with a seafood blend, tomatoes, and garlic.  On the side was a refreshing brussels sprout slaw.

On Monday, Mom and I went house-hunting in the Dunwoody-Brookhaven area where I'll be working starting in August.  Priority number one, however, was a latte from Octane Coffee Bar.

After spending the morning checking out potential townhomes and houses, we stopped at Alons for lunch.  We shared a beet and arugula salad, vegetable sandwich, and butternut squash soup.

That night, Dad, Royce, and Erin met us at Canoe for our annual company Christmas Dinner.  Without a doubt, this is our favorite Atlanta restaurant!  We started with some cocktails, including a delicious pear-prosecco drink.

For appetizers we shared smoked salmon, a charcuterie plate, and crab cakes.  Plus, one of the highlights of any meal at Canoe, multiple assorted slices from their bread basket.

Since I knew I'd be eating plenty of appetizers, I opted for a lighter option for my entree - the Chef's vegetarian selection.  This included broccolini, asparagus, carrots, and red bliss potatoes.  For me, this was satisfying, but I'd definitely recommend sticking with their regular entrees if you want something more hearty.

Another reason for a lighter entree was the fact that I knew without a doubt that I'd order dessert.  This sweet potato creme brûlée topped with marshmallow and sweet potato chips was devine!

Bailey made sure to inspect each and every gift that was placed under the tree, and just might have convinced me to give her a gift early.

On Christmas Eve, she was a good sport and donned her reindeer antlers and posed for a few pictures.

Throughout the week, we spent time being lazy, listening to Christmas music, reading books, and drinking tea and coffee by the Christmas tree.  It may have been the warmest Christmas on record, but we did our best to enjoy the season.

Grandpa and Grandma hosted a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner and gift exchange.  Evidently I was enjoying the evening so much that I never captured a picture of the delicious dinner buffet that they had prepared.  It included a mix of shrimp cocktail, pinwheel sandwiches, veggies, cheese and crackers, cookies, and punch.

Later that evening we opened our traditional single gift on Christmas Eve - pajamas!

Here's the first peek at the Christmas tree on Christmas morning!  Santa Claus came to the Perkins House!

Royce and Erin joined us for stockings, gifts, and breakfast.  Everyone's gifts were so thoughtful and we all agreed that giving gifts is what we most look forward to each year.

It didn't take long before wonderful smells were wafting from the kitchen and we took a break for breakfast.  The Perkins Christmas breakfast is the same year after year - cream cheese stuffed pecan sweet rolls, grits casserole, and citrus segments.

One of the most anticipated gifts of the year was the one that Royce picked out for Dad.  For weeks we have all heard Royce talk about "the best gift ever."  Dad is now the proud owner of a drone!  For two pilots, I suppose that is a naturally perfect toy for them both to enjoy.

It was a rainy and gloomy Christmas Day, but we didn't let that dampen our spirits.  Bailey and I enjoyed a long run, Dad manned the grill to prepare a perfect ham, and Mom prepared a lunch spread.  The annual massive crossword puzzle came out in the AJC that morning and we all spent some time answered the clues.

There's not a single holiday meal that is anything but perfect, and this year was no exception.  The menu consisted of a pear and arugula salad with cranberry dressing, ham, roasted green beans, and pumpkin mac and cheese.  Dessert went unpictured, but included a decadent panettone triffle.

And just like that, my weeklong vacation came to an end.  It was a wonderful week with my family and a continued reminder of just how much I have to be thankful for during this Christmas season as well as all year long.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Running for Christmas Cookies

One of the first events I penciled into my calendar for December was the 2nd Annual Christmas Cookie Run.  I started hosting this event last year for a group of my favorite Charlotte swim-bike-run friends and it was far too much fun to be a one-time event.  The premise is simple - run several miles, eat dinner, hang out, and exchange cookies.  If there's one thing to know about triathletes, it's that we LOVE to eat!

I prepared two types of cookies for the party - chocolate covered cherry cookies and lemon ricotta cookies.  Combined with a third batch of triple ginger cookies, I baked nearly 200 cookies in the course of 24 hours.  

To balance the abundance of sugar that our cookie exchange would provide, I prepared a dinner that included butternut squash, sweet potato chips sand salsa, vegetables and hummus, crackers and goat cheese topped with a fig spread, and giant Christmas grapes.

Once the group of 15 arrived, we headed out for a four mile run on a rather warm December night.  Our destination was Hillside Avenue's famous Christmas globes.  This street of a little less than a mile features hundreds of lit balls hung from the trees in all of the yards.  Our run even included a stop for caroling at a friend's house, where we sang a few lines of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" before realizing we didn't actually know all of the lyrics.

We paused for a group picture, complete with our reflective gear.  We made multiple attempts with a self timer, but ultimately recruited some neighbors to take a better group picture.

Eventually we made it back to the house to nourish our grumbling stomaches - starting with dinner, but moving quickly to cookies.

Everyone prepared 4 dozen of their favorite Christmas cookie, resulting in a wonderful selection eating.  Some of the standouts were flourless chocolate orange cookies, oreo cookie balls, cake batter cookies, snowflakes, whoopie pies, and fudge.

The benefit from a cookie exchange is that you bring a single type of cookie, but go home with a box full of more than a dozen different varieties.  Our crew of triathletes had a wonderful night running, eating, and celebrating Christmas!  Next year, hopefully someone else will be able to host and I'll make the drive from Atlanta to spend the night with a fantastic group of friends.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

After a rather lengthy drive amidst the millions of Thanksgiving travelers, I arrived home in time to help Mom finish the last of the Thanksgiving feast preparation.  It was a wonderful morning in our pajamas, listening to Christmas music, and cooking.

Thanksgiving Day started with a long run with Bailey, green smoothies, a family hike, and the Macy's  parade.  Lunch consisted of a spread of munchies - crackers, cheeses, salsa, veggies with dip, and roasted nuts - that we grazed on throughout the afternoon.  Dad was manning the grills and our two 13 pound turkeys.

Just as the sun was setting, we captured a family picture.  You may just see four of us (plus the dog) in the picture, but there's a little baby boy the size of a banana that Royce and Erin will be welcoming in to there family in April!  It's crazy to think that I'll have a 7 month old nephew next Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving dinner menu included turkey, oyster dressing, stuffing with butternut squash and cherries, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, roasted root vegetables, celery salad, and cranberry sauce.  For a brief period, there was silence at the table of 9, as we savored each and every bite of the delicious spread.

Grandpa and Grandma enjoyed having all of their children in town to celebrate the holiday together.  I'm pretty sure Grandpa was thinking - "hurry and take this picture so I can dig into my dinner."

The chefs and hosts once again executed a holiday gathering with complete success.  I'm thankful for so many things, but these two people are on the top of my list!

A selfie of the "kids" just before we dove into pumpkin and apple pies.  Thanks to Royce for capturing all of our large shiny foreheads with this unique view.

On Friday we had more family time planned for the afternoon, so Bailey and I snuck out around lunch time for a hike.  It was a picture-perfect day with sunny skies and temperatures nearly 70 degrees.

We both enjoyed soaking up the fresh air and stretching our legs after a day of lots of eating.

That evening, Dad built a perfect fire and we all gathered in the backyard around the fire pit.  Although it's sometimes borderline too cold or windy to enjoy the fire, the trend of perfect weather continued and we spent a couple hours chatting and just enjoying each other's company.

Saturday morning's breakfast started as a random selection of leftovers, but I managed to turn it into a plate of scrambled eggs with veggies, pumpkin cornbread french toast topped with cinnamon applesauce, and citrus segments.

Saturday afternoon was spent in downtown Roswell, yet again soaking up the sunshine.  We started with lunch at The Mill Kitchen and Bar, where I couldn't resist ordering a lobster roll.  It wasn't quite the same as the one I had in Boston during the epic snowstorm this winter.

After, we walking a short distance to Old Mill Park  and hiked some new-to-us trails.  I had no idea this beautiful waterfall existed in the middle of downtown Roswell.

Dad and Mom once again looking so young and photogenic!  I can't wait to move back to Atlanta this summer and spend much more time with this crew.

And lastly, I leave you with a picture that demonstrates what happens when your kids move out and the dog becomes the center of your universe.  Bailey is very well taken care of and ensures that she gets endless attention, runs and long walks, belly rubs, and time to soak up the sun.