Tuesday, June 26, 2007


This past Thursday we celebrated my Grandma Smullin's 90th birthday with a surprise party. More than 70 people - including all of her children and grandchildren, her favorite nephew from San Antonio and his new wife, her next door neighbors from 1960, and her best friend of nearly 70 years from Rhode Island - showed up for the celebration. It was wonderful. And a COMPLETE surprise to my grandmother!

Grandma thought she was attending an anniversary party for friends of my parents. When she arrived at the banquet hall, she was greeted and escorted into the party - then there was the big "SURPRISE". I don't think the idea of a surprise party registered in her mind for a few minutes. She was standing there trying to figure out how her neighbors from 40 years ago and her son and grandchildren from Texas would know the hosts of the party (she thought she was attending). When she finally figured out that it was HER party many hugs were given and a few tears were shed.

I didn't have much to do with planning the party itself. Instead I was responsible for the gift. We decided as a family that the party theme should be "we are your life story" since everyone at the party had impacted and been apart of my Grandmother's life. As I gift, we decided to put together a memory book - full of notes of remembrance, pictures, and stories. I had the honor of putting the book together and then presenting it to my grandmother at the party. The book ended up being 92 pages long and is full of pictures from 1917-2007. Since we couldn't pass the book around to all of the guests, I used powerpoint to show about 15 pages from the book.

Putting the book together and then presenting it to my grandma was a wonderful experience for me. It was fun reading stories about my grandmother from years ago and seeing pictures of her as a newlywed and new mom. I also got to see a picture of her holding me (the oldest of her six grandchildren) for the first time when I arrived home from the hospital on Christmas Day 1977. It was also wonderful to read and see how she has been such a good friend and role model to so many people throughout the years. I am so proud that she is my grandma!

You can view her memory book here.


This morning at 10:00am EDT my college roommate and fellow blogger, Jill, meme-tagged me. Basically, tagging is a chain-letter for bloggers used to get to know us better (for more info check this out). I’m supposed to answer these questions and then ask 5 other bloggers to do the same. Unfortunately, all the bloggers I know have already been I'm "it".

1. “What were you doing 10 years ago?”
I had just finished my first year of college. I was working 90+ hours a week lifeguarding and teaching swimming lessons at the Hampton Community Pool.

2. “What were you doing 1 year ago?”
Soul searching... I really wanted to quit my job, but wasn't sure what to do next. I spent the summer trying to solve my "quarter-life crisis".

3. “Five snacks you enjoy:”
Ice-cream, cereal, yogurt w/ granola or crasins, toast w/ PB&J, and baked tofu (aka tofu jerky)

4. “Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:”
Happy Birthday, Jesus Loves Me (this I know), Row Row Row Your Boat, and the theme song to The Brady Bunch -- I can't think of a fifth.

5. “Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:”
Start my own online scrapbook company, volunteer with the Gates Foundation, pay to get into the NYC Marathon, travel extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, and pay off my student loans.

6. “Five bad habits:”
Snacking between meals, grinding my teeth, biting my fingernails, running with bad posture, and hyper-extending my legs (at the knee).

7. “Five things you like doing:”
Running w/ David, spending Monday nights w/ the girls (ABBA), planning five course dinners w/ David, going to the pool, and reading.

8. “Five things you would never wear again:”
A paper racing suit (for competitive swimming), my favorite jeans (they ripped), ADIDAS running shoes (blister problems), non-daily disposable contacts, and colored blue jeans.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


During the past school year, my friend, Andrea, and I have been hosting a monthly game night for the youth group at our church. In September, we split the kids into five teams, and they have been competing against one another for nine months. This past Tuesday was the year-end competition...

We asked the teams several trivia questions - testing their knowledge of each other, the adult volunteers, their youth pastor, and what they learned throughout the year. There were also a handful of physical challenges. The first required each team to dropped 24 mentos into a two liter of diet coke. (For those of you who don't know what happens when you mix diet coke and mentos, check this out!). The goal of this physical challenge was for each team to capture as much diet coke in a cup from their team's fountain.

The second physical challenge was a race...each team was given three bananas, and they had to peel the bananas (without injuring them) with their feet. What a sight to behold. We learned that peeling a banana with your feet is really a two person job. Teamwork was required to win this challenge. We then offered bonus points for each banana that was eaten. GROSS!

In other news:

Only four more days of work in the office and three at a conference in Atlantic City. Summer vacation is almost here!

I didn't get a spot in the NYC marathon. Bummer! I'm hopeful that I can get a spot from craigslist or ebay in the coming weeks.

Friday, June 8, 2007


Over Memorial Day weekend, David and I went to our favorite wine store in DuPont Circle, Best Cellars, to stock up on one of our favorite wines, which was on sale. I actually never made it into the store...I had to sit in the car, which was parked illegally, prepared to move it if the parking enforcement or a tow truck arrived. David returned from the store not only with the white wine we had planned to purchase, but also with a sparkling Shiraz (we have not tried it yet) and tickets for two to a champagne and sparkling wine dinner at Sonoma Restaurant. The dinner was gift to me in celebration of quitting my job and getting into Maryland's PhD program.

Last night was the dinner, and it was fantastic. Two men from Best Cellars and a woman from a restaurant in Georgetown served us champagne and sparkling wine with each of the four courses. They also taught us some of the basics for pairing food with wines. It was a lot of fun, and the food was fantastic. The menu included (highlighted in purple is my new favorite champagne):

salad of baby lettuces with local strawberries, goat cheese, & vincotto vinaigrette
Paired with: Champagne Jose Michel Blanc de Blancs 2000 Brut &
Domaine Daheuiller Cremant de Loire NV Brut

grilled fresh prawns with fregola couscous and remesco sauce
Paired with: Champagne Janisson & Fils Rose Brut & Amime Prosecco Rose Brut (which were both perfect with the prawns)

porchetta and braised chard with mustard sauce
Paired with: Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc Brut & Champagne Veuve Clicquot Rare Vintage 1988 Brut

sabayon with fresh local berries and pistachio tuille
Paired with: Champagne Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec & Torley Fortuna Doux

Monday, June 4, 2007


My countdown to my final day of work has begun... Only 15 days left; three of which will be spent in Atlantic City, NJ at the National Environmental Health Association Educational Conference. That leaves only 12 days left in the office. I'm so excited. My work 'to do' list is fairly long, but most of the tasks are administrative in nature - I want to leave things well organized when I leave. I'm really excited about what is to come (summer off and then back to school), but it has been hard saying good-bye to folks I've worked with for the past five years. I've made a lot of good friends while here.

Last week I got to see one of those friends, Tom, when I traveled out to Fort Collins, Colorado for a work meeting. Tom is a retired local health officer from Pitkin County, Colorado (Pitkin County is home to Aspen). I've had the pleasure of working with Tom for almost five years. I have learned so much from him - he worked in governmental public health for more than 30 years and now is a consultant. He and his wife, Lynne, are a joy to be around. I am going to miss running into both of them at meetings and conferences, but am hoping to visit them in Snowmass Village during a summer vacation. After a meeting at CDC, Tom took me and another colleague on a tour of Estes and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Pictured here is me with Tom (the best tour guide EVER) in Rocky Mountain National Park. Also pictured are the elk we saw while in the Park. While we were there, it snowed above the tree-line (elevation 12,000 feet +), which made for good pictures! The sights in the Park are breathtaking (the pictures do it little justice)...

I should know by next week if I got into the NYC marathon. I'll keep y'all posted... If I don't get into NYC, I'm thinking I'll wait until next spring and run either the San Diego or Los Angeles marathon (Jeff, hope you're still in on the west coast).

David and I are watching a lot of ALIAS these days. He finished Season 2 while I was in Colorado, and we are more than half way through Season 3.