A Knight of Baseball

Charlotte_Knights

Last night I went to a Charlotte Knights baseball game in Center City Charlotte, NC. As you can tell from the picture, the view could not have been better. To top it off, the weather was perfect, hanging around the 60’s for most of the night. The best part is I got the tickets for free through my work; definitely one of the advantages of corporate life.

The prices for beer and food at baseball games are always absurd, and this game was not any different. However, at the BB&T Ballpark they have tons of craft beer vendors right there at the game! So instead of paying 10 dollars for a Bud Light, you can get a beer that makes you feel a little better about emptying your wallet. That’s my kind of baseball game. I had never even heard of the brewery I got my beer from, but it was fantastic. That really just means I need to step it up and get to know the Charlotte beer scene better before I leave!

Lunch Amidst Construction

City_Black_And_White

Yesterday I had lunch in view of the city, parked on the side of the street right in the middle of a major construction effort. Why? I just felt like it. I got a sandwich to go at a local hole-in-the-wall and then drove until I found a cool angle to look at the high rises and then threw on my hazards and ate my sandwich. It was wonderful. The temperature was amazing, I left the windows down and let the white noise of construction be my soundtrack. It was nice to be alone with my thoughts, but in view of the chaos. I was just about to leave when I remembered I had my camera in the back, so I decided to capture this lunch.

Definitely a little different than my other “Lunch (insert location)” posts, but I think it’s a good thing. I love nature, I love hiking and being alone, but sometimes we need to be in the middle of everyone. Maybe not always participating, but just casually observing the chaos of our world. There’s something special about stopping and taking a moment to cherish the beauty around you, even if it is in places you would never expect.

Seclusion

mountains_table_rock

This is a picture from one of the first hikes I took this year. It was freezing cold, and there was plenty of snow on the ground. However, it was one of the best hikes I’ve been on because it was so secluded and beautiful. Cold weather and solitude go hand in hand very well. This specifically is a picture of Table Rock Mountain, a beautiful peak in the Cherokee foothills of Western North Carolina. I can’t wait to go back there sometime this summer, but I know it won’t be the same.

“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”

– Jean-Paul Sartre

Quinoa and Black Bean Recipe

quinoa and black bean

This is a recipe that my mom recently gave to me to help kick start my goal of cooking without meat. It couldn’t have been better! When you are eating it, you focus on how delicious it is and you don’t even realize it’s missing meat. It is extremely filling and is loaded with protein from the beans and the quinoa. It’s also really healthy for you! I have done a fair amount of cooking in the past, but most of the recipes I would make were exceedingly simple, usually only using about 5 ingredients, so this really put my cooking abilities to the test. I only cook for one so I’m excited for all the left overs I will have for lunches and dinners this week.

The recipe is posted below. If you are trying to start cooking delicious recipes without meat, or you are just trying to eat healthier, give it a try. Many more on the way!


Quinoa and Black Bean recipe

INGREDIENTS:

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable broth

1 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 1/3 cup frozen corn kernels

3 cups black beans, cooked

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir onion and garlic until lightly 
browned, about 10 minutes.

Mix quinoa into onion mixture and cover with vegetable broth; season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until quinoa is tender and broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes; mix in the black beans and cilantro.

Gourd of Thunder

strangeways

Well, this looks creepy. To be honest it kind of is! But inside was one of the best beers I’ve ever had; Gourd of Thunder. It was a pumpkin porter from Strangeways brewery in Richmond, VA. Last weekend I went on a brew crawl with my family and this is the last brewery we ended up at. We had some extra time so we decided to swing by one more brewery near the end of the night. Little did we know this would be the best destination we went to all night. Not only did it have incredibly creative, great tasting beers; the environment was perfect. They had a small tasting room up front that had a good feel, but in the back they had a low key tasting room near the brewing equipment. It was dark and in the center of the room they had a disco ball spinning, with some old slow jams playing. When we first got there, we were the only ones there. It was perfect, and we ended up staying there about an hour longer than planned.

We were celebrating my birthday, and it was honestly the best birthday celebration I’ve ever had with my family. All I wanted was for all of us to get together and be able to have fun, bond over something. There is so much tragedy in life, especially between family, that we forget to have fun until it’s too late. Sometimes you need to push all of your troubles aside for just a couple hours and enjoy the company of the people you love the most. Going to breweries was a lot of fun, but the part I really cared about was the cohesiveness we had that night. It’s something I hope we can do more of in the future.

What’s better than spending time with family and drinking fantastic beer?

And Nothing Arrived

Lake_Walkway

“I waited for something,

And something died,

So I waited for nothing,

And nothing arrived.”

Nothing Arrived by Villagers

This is a lyric from a song called Nothing Arrived by Villagers. This line resonates in my head for hours after I listen to the song; I think it’s so witty. When you are waiting for something, the only thing that arrives is nothing. That’s always how it works. You can be yearning for something for months, and the moment you stop waiting for it, it actually comes. Until then, only nothing arrives. It is so frustrating!

However, waiting for something puts you in a weak position. Waiting for something puts you at the liberty of something or someone else. Place yourself in positions where you work to attain that something, whatever it is, and have other people waiting on you. It puts you in a position that allows you to have control over your own life. It’s one of those things that is really easy to say but really difficult to actually carry out.

Give the song a listen; it’s sad but fantastic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3Jk34pDH0M

Walk the Lake

Innsbrook_Lake

This is a lake in my hometown that is located in between a bunch of office buildings. I would give anything to work at a building with a beautiful lake right beside it! I would eat my lunch on the lake and take walks everyday. Instead, my work is in a shady part of town right outside the city that causes me to double check that my car doors are locked every time I walk in. It’s in a good location only because it is close to the city. It lacks any sort of natural beauty, the beauty that I crave.

I haven’t been able to hike or really get out into nature the past two weekends and I am having withdrawals. That’s not to say I haven’t been having fun – celebrating your birthday two weekends in a row is an awesome experience. However, this weekend the mountains are calling me. The weekend after that I am going with a group of people to a small deserted island for the weekend which will be amazing. It will be like I’m on Lost except for the fact a boat will come pick us up on Sunday (the island is really the only similarity to Lost).

Safe to say a lot of awesome pictures and stories will be coming soon!

The Water’s Edge

Echo_Lake

When I go to a lake, or any body of water, I give in to the temptation to travel to the water’s edge. Something about the water draws me in, a virtual magnetic pulling me toward it. This is what draws me off the established trail, forcing me to traipse through the woods in search of a clearing. This is what leads to a lot of the best pictures I’ve taken and also some of the best spots I’ve found. Not everyone is willing to leave the path.

Today my sister and I went out exploring close to home. This is a lake I have been coming to since I was a kid. It’s always nice to come home.

A Light on the Lake

b&w lake

All is calm on the lake. The clouds are slowly sliding across the sky, the wind is gently rippling across the water. The sun peers through the clouds, casting shadows behind every tree. The air is fresh with cool, spring air, making you want to give your son a playful noogie after he played a good baseball game. Birds are chirping and nature is performing all of its familiar songs. It is peaceful, an escape from the bustling every day life we choose to live.

I love the mountains.

The Commute

Commute

The Monday through Friday morning groggy ritual; the commute. Some people have really long commutes and some people live five minutes away from the office. I live right in the sweet spot, about a 15-30 minute drive depending on traffic. At first I hated this drive, I despised it. I could never wake up early enough to get there on time, and then I started waking up too early and started getting to the office first (scary, I know). Now I have it down to a science. No not a science, that makes it seem like it requires thought. It has strictly become a routine that I am innately used to.

I have started looking forward to my drive. I’m by no means excited to begin my day of work, but the drive is not work; it’s a buffer. I don’t have the stress of just waking up and facing the fact that I’m awake and that I really do have to go sit in a cubicle all day, but I also am not yet in the office. I am just in my little 15-30 minute buffer that has to occur no matter what. Usually I am not thinking about anything in particular. It’s too early for all of that. I just put on some good mood music and stare off in to space. I don’t get frustrated with traffic like I normally would. I face it with cool indifference because no matter how you slice it, I’m going to work. Even if I get there 15 minutes late, my work will still be there functioning just fine.

Throughout my entire drive I can see the skyline far off in the distance, the tops of castles of a foreign land. My whole drive I just inch closer and closer to the monuments of steel, and they get larger and larger as I get closer and closer to work. In the picture above you can see the buildings in the background, painted against the cloudy sky. Some mornings the clouds hide behind the buildings, and sometimes they engulf them, hiding them from sight. Those are the oddest mornings because you know they are waiting for you in the distance, but you can’t see them.

I treasure this time. It’s a time of no responsibility (other than not dying in a car accident while staring at the skyline). I really have embraced my drives and the familiarity of it all. There is a certain beauty in repetition that I don’t normally see because I am so focused on changing things up, seeing different sights. It’s comforting to get close to work and see those tall buildings looming, day after day.

The drive home is a different story; road rage and all things associated come out at anyone who gets in the path of me getting home.