Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We Survived Nash-Vegas!

Our Nashville adventure began on Friday when we headed to the great city of music. Along with 100,000 + other people. First stop (besides the many on the way up...a girl's gotta get hydrated, yo) was the Expo...which is just a delightful pre-event fiasco that should be renamed "try to find a parking spot in our city and we might let you run here, too". Several hours after parking, walking to the convention center, picking up our numbers (omg am I really going to do this) and sampling all sorts of scary, health-crazed vita-chewy gonna make you run faster snacks, we were headed to our hotel.

Ahhh, Hotel Preston, you rascal. Best way to describe our home away from home is motel 6 meets art deco. Let me just tell you that when there is a race this big in town just about every hotel within a 50 mile radius sells out. So, if it weren't for Shana promising the sales manager she would name her first born Preston, trust me, we would have been in quite a pickle. There were all sorts of fun art pieces in and around the hotel, like the giant abstract will be posted soon...and the "pink slip" made entirely of crayons and named for the hotel lounge/bar. Or, perhaps the bar was named for this piece of art. Either way, I digress. The hotel was lovely, with it's furry leopard elevators. And Aveda bath products. But...I just get the vibe that one day I might see it on a 20/20 special where they swab the carpet and find out the entire staff is infected with the swine flu. Just a feeling. You can't fool me, Hotel Preston.
After checking into our hotel and covering myself in Purell, we headed to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown. A place that, despite the near record temperatures, thought it was a valid explanation to say their A/C unit was controlled by corporate in Florida and there was nothing they could do to change the stifling temperature. Why did we not see the signs? The difficulty parking, the strange, furry hotel, the 100+ degree restaurant -- what were we thinking going ahead and running this race??

Here's a series of pictures from Hard Rock that could make a flip book for true love. First a sweet moment, then Dan moves in for a picture that I ruin with my flagrant immaturity and then, oh, gross...not a kiss!

Despite all the obstacles, we were up the next morning at 4:30, ready for our 5 am departure. My friend Katie was running the half and she ended up doing awesome!

Here we are saying farewell to Blake and Dan as they dropped us off at the start line. Shana is contemplating the fact that she has to name her first born Preston. I am wondering if my neck slept in or is just shy about pictures.

We spent the next hour or so before the race began making fun of everyone possible. Look at the shirtless guy's gut hanging out. Watch out chafing in corral number 18, etc., etc. This is not the best way to begin a race in which you will eventually be pleading with the Lord for sweet mercy. A better strategy may have been to help the elderly cross the road, volunteer to catch someone's pre-race jitters vomit or massage a Kenyan's feet. Anything but make fun of the people who will eventually pass you at mile 19.

Speaking of 19, we were in corral 19 out of about 32 and the corrals were released every two minutes beginning at 7 am. 25, 000 people ran the half marathon while 7,500 did the full marathon. took us the better part of the first hour to even approach the starting line. Once we was on. We ran strong for the first half, enjoying the bands and the never EVER ending hills. Where was my topographical map when I signed up for this nightmare? With every mile the temperatures rose, eventually closing in on 90 degrees -- the temps were 2 degrees off the record high. Water stations turned into salt stops where volunteers urged us to down packets of salt to keep our electrolytes balanced. On the back half, miles 15-17 were down a greenway in the middle of nowhere. I really thought buzzards were going to find my body. We stopped sweating around mile 18, which is a really terrifying thing if you've ever been on that side of a physical challenge and in that kind of heat.

But, we stayed side by side, praying and grunting. Dan and Blake found us throughout the run at different mile points while Shana's AWESOME sunday school friends cheered us on, too. Somehow we finished. I know God was with us and I finished the race sobbing -- just not comprehending what we had been through. We knew there was no other option than to finish and I am blessed to have run with a friend who saw it through to the end, though at times all we could hear on the course were ambulances. We even saw people passing out at mile 25...can you imagine being that close and not finishing? Here are some pics from the start of the race...more to come soon...but Dan had to go out of town for work and I think he took the camera with him!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sweet Baby Ray!

I just finished one of the best home-cooked meals of my married life. And, saying something is home-cooked is a big deal in the McReeder household where dinner often carries a color theme like the time we had orange Thursdays for awhile -- all you can eat cheez-its and carrots. But, one of the perks of my job is I get to attend cooking classes at the Publix Apron's Cooking School in Alpharetta -- the only of its kind in Georgia by the way. I recently took a travel writer to a class taught by the executive chef from Ray's on the River and tonight Dan and I tried a couple of the recipes at home. Here they are - but be warned, you will want to bathe yourself in this salad dressing and this is coming from a girl who generally despises salad dressing. And...I couldn't find orzo at the supermarket so we made the orzotto using mini alphabit pasta -- and truly, nothing sets off a deglazed wine sauce like biting into a capital J. Anyway you have it, these recipes spell Y-U-M.

Goat Cheese Vinaigrette

4 shallots, chopped

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup honey

1 1/3 cup cider vinegar

3/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 1/4 tsp black pepper

11 ounces goat cheese

2 1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup water


Combine vinegar, sugar, shallots, black pepper, and honey in a sauce pot. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by 1/2. Cool slightly and mix in goat cheese until well combined. Place ingredients in blender. While blending, slowly add 1/2 of the olive oil to begin emulsification. Then add the water, while continuing to blend. Add the remaining olive oil to finish the dresssing. Chill immediately.

This makes a the whole bathing thing really isn't out of the question. It will keep for two weeks in the fridge. I served it over spinach (Dan ate something green!) and it's also good with spinach, strawberries and candied pecans (how it was served at the school).

Vegetable Orzotto

2 spring vidalia onions, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 white wine

1 pound orzo (16 ounces)

1 qt chicken broth, warmed in a sauce pot

2 each fresh thyme sprigs, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

parmesan cheese

1/2 cup spring peas, blanched


Saute the spring onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent. Add the orzo and saute (coating in the olive oil) on medium high heat for two minutes, stirring constantly. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Saute until the wine evaporates (which should happen quickly). Slowly add the warm chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting the mixture absorb the stock until almost dry in between additions. After the orzotto is cooked (tender, but slightly chewy), remove from the heat and add the parmesan, blanch peas and/or other cooked vegetables of your choice. Serve immediately. Perfect with seafood!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Masters!

So...I am a couple weeks behind...but here's what's been going on.

I spent Good Friday with Dan and my parents at the Masters. My grandparents are patrons and go every year - a very fun family tradition. Unfortunately my grandaddy's feet are really bothering him this year and he would have had a hard time walking around the course all day. So...the gp's let us borrow their tickets and what a day we had! The weather was breathtakingly beautiful, the azaleas were in full bloom, and the golf was incredible. Dan had to hold me back because I kept trying to charge the green so I could roll around in the grass -- it's that pretty! There is no experience like the Masters and thank you so much, Nana and Grandaddy (and Mom and Doug) for the opportunity!
Nana and Grandaddy -- I found this cute tea towel and it's on its way to you! Hope you enjoy! Thank you for the Masters and tell Grandaddy to start feeling better!


Easter is such a special holiday. The church service on Easter morning never fails to be uplifting and just as we are reminded we serve a living God -- everything outside seems to be coming back to life, too! Dan and I hosted Easter this year for 23 people and enjoyed every minute of it. Here are some highlights:

Our backyard was ready for some serious egg hunting!

The food was delicious!

The tables were set!

Happy First Easter Baby Jacob!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

If You Can Run 20...

...then 6.2 more miles shouldn't be too hard...right?! That's the philosophy Shana and I are embracing as we reach the home stretch for our marathon. We finished our last long run...20 miles on Friday afternoon...and the rest should be pun intended. I can't wait to make it to the finish line. Katie Bo is running the half and so are some of Shana's hopefully we will all feel well enough to go out Saturday night in Nashville. Check out this video from 2008 and look here to see the super cute hotel we'll be bunking in!

The Latest Reeder Renovation

We recently revamped our bedroom...which is still a work in progress...but I thought I would share some pics of the new paint and curtains. We started and finished the paint in one day...and making the stripe was easy using a laser level as the guide. Only the big wall behind our bed has the stripe...the rest are plain. I am totally not loving the curtain rod...but it was something I already until I find something better...this is what it looks like!


If you have never are totally missing out! It's basically like a modern-day treasure hunt using a GPS. I love to geocache during the summer at Lake Lanier because there are tons of "caches" hidden on the islands around the lake. Dan and I were talking it up to the youth kids who are home during spring break and they decided to create a cache...for my birthday! It was so cute and it should be registered soon as Katie's Cache in Johns Creek! If you don't know what geocaching is...check it out here.

Check out the YouTube video the interns at work made about geocaching...and don't hate on the one-star rating!



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