Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye, 2010

I've thought about it, and I'm not going to do a big recap of 2010 like I did for 2008 and 2009. I guess I just don't feel like it.  

So, farewell 2010 and here's to 2011!  No resolutions. Mostly I just want to try my best to "live in the now".  I get so caught up with looking forward and dwelling on the past, and not a whole lot of time gets spent on what's going on now. So I guess if you want to call that a resolution, you can.




I hope yours is great!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas 2010


Well, I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas 2010! We spent ours in Sioux Falls with Zach's mom's side of the family.  Before we left we had a little family Christmas with  my Mom, Dad, Brothers and significant others. We opened a few presents, had some delicious lasagna, cheesecake and of course lots of cookies!


Thursday we left super early in the morning to avoid all the snow that was predicted (and didn't happen until the next day...). This was the first time we've ever left our dogs in the care of someone that wasn't a family member. We had a fantastic pet sitting company come check on them at various times throughout the day. The dogs didn't seem to mind at all. It made me feel SO much better knowing my babies were at home and not sitting in some cold concrete cage surrounded by chaos at a kennel. Plus it was way, way, way less expensive. Wins all around!

Thursday night in South Dakota we hung out with his family, ate more Italian (yay for two Italian families!) and hung out with the new 3 month old baby nephew. Zach's step-sister and husband had the flu (foreshadowing....) so we were on baby duty for the next few days.  Luckily he was super cute.  Even Zach got brave and held him.  Blog, meet Elias.



Christmas Eve and Christmas day were a blur of family gatherings, lots of food, more baby passing, Church and snow. Lots of snow!  What blows my mind about Sioux Falls is that their snow removal efficiencies are out of this word!  It snowed a good 4 inches Thursday night and when we got up on Friday it was all completely plowed and drivable! Couldn't believe it!




We left to come home on Sunday and when we woke up we found out that nearly everyone had the stomach flu. We hightailed it out of there so fast trying to avoid the plague, but it was inevitable. I made it home but boy I wasn't feeling well.  I spent all of Monday in bed. Zach had it the other day. Fun times.  At least we are back to normal now and feeling good.  I have the whole week off and didn't want to waste it being sick.  

Today we headed out to Best Buy to cash in all our very generous gift cards for our new D-SLR! I am BEYOND excited to learn how to use this thing and start taking pictures.  It's charging right now, but here's the first one Zach snapped of Ted. Unbelievable! So many more to come...

So, there you have it. Another Christmas comes and goes.... Merry Belated Christmas to you!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Crazy Pajama Lady

Just tonight my mom was telling me that I'm "very behind on the blog".  I told her it was because I had nothing interesting to talk about.  Well, I should be careful what I say because shortly thereafter, this happened: 

Ted got himself a major case of the zoomies and needed desparatey to go run wild in the backyard. I thought I'd go out and toss the ball for him once and then go back inside.  I closed the door behind me, threw the ball, watched him run a bit and then turned to open the door. You guessed it! Locked.  I do not know how the door magically locked behind me (you have to turn the thing-a-ma-doo on the knob to get it to lock).  Panic!!!!  There I was in my 3 sizes too big 10 year old cloud pajama pants, 1999 Northwest Football Championship tshirt and blue "Hospital Hill Run" socks. That's it! No coat, no shoes, no sanity, no nothing!

After trying the door countless times, I admitted defeat. (I think I may have even knocked a few times, you know, in case Missy felt like helping me out). So I walked (in my socks!) through the backyard, praying I don't step in any poo, over to where the gate is.  Of course we've had major settling issues in our backyard and the gate was stuck, so I had to pry and pry and pry (hello, splinters!) the thing open until it was wide enough to squeeze through, while at the same time keeping Ted from following me. Fun times, everyone! Note to self, fix gate.

So then to the front of the house. Of course it's locked. Of course the garage doors are locked. Of course I didn't get a keypad put on! So there I am, pacing around the front of my house in the cold (in socks! and pajamas!) trying to decide which neighbor I would go to first.  The girl next to us was my first choice. She's super cool, about our age and hey! We are even facebook friends!! She'd totally think it was funny. Not home.  AAH!

My other options were the couple across the street, but I know they have a new baby and I didn't want to possibly wake him up, so I passed.  Then there was 'Zoro'.  We don't know his real name but he comes and goes totally randomly, so we nicknamed him that.  He happened to come home as I was starting to walk down the street. I figured he'd stop, right? Nope, in the garage, door closed. Ok then. I guess if I saw some crazy lady walking down the street in pajamas and no shoes in the middle of December, I'd get the heck inside too. Then there was Mike. Oh trusty Mike.  I don't think I've posted this before but I've kinda done this before. Except it was summer and I was out running. Slightly different than December and pajamas. Anyway he's like the dad of the neighborhood.  He helped build all the houses and knows everything about everyone in the whole subdivision. He's really nice and luckily he was home. He opened the door and as soon as I told him what happened (again) he got a good laugh out of the whole thing and let me use his phone to call my dad to come with the extra key. While I waited we caught up on all the neighborhood gossip. Who's moving out, who's moving in, who's had a baby, who's pregnant, you know neighborly stuff. 

My dad showed up a few minutes later, let me in, let Ted in, laughed a little then went on his way.  Oh what a night!

So there. That's what's been going on.  I'm crazy pajama lady.

We'll be having that keypad installed ASAP.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies



I made these Pumpkin Whoopie Pies for Thanksgiving this year.  Whoopie pies are so super easy to make and they are pretty much the perfect sized dessert! Each person gets their own little pie, and man, were these good! 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling
from: Martha Stewart
  • FOR THE PUMPKIN WHOOPIE COOKIES
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • FOR THE CREAM-CHEESE FILLING
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
  3. Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.
  4. Make the filling: Sift confectioner' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)
  5. Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.






Friday, November 26, 2010

Ho-Ho-Holiday Wishlist!

Happy Black Friday everyone!  I was up at the crack of dawn this morning to meet my brother's girlfriend/fiance, Jessi and Sheena for some shopping fun! We met at 5:30 am and I didn't get home until 3:30pm, took a quick nap, ate dinner then headed back out to finish up!  We had a great time and hit a lot of the big stores. No pushing and shoving for us as we weren't there for the door busters, but were just looking for some good deals. I think we all succeeded! I still have a couple more things to get, but I'm thisclose to being done! I'm so much further ahead than last year! I can't wait to be finished. Christmas shopping stresses me out bad! 

Christmas list time!  Here's what's on my wish list this year!

Oh how I love these boots!  I've been thinking about buying them for myself for months now, but every time I go to do it, I stop myself. I have a slight boot addiction.  I love these so, but do I already have some that are *kind of* similar? Yes. But they aren't the same!  I also can't decide between black and cognac. Such decisions. 


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Zach and I have been talking about upgrading our camera for years now. We both love taking pictures, but we are getting frustrated with my old point and shoot. Zach's actually taking photography classes for school, so he would know how to use it and can teach me the basics.  I think this might be the year we actually go for it! Then we'll just need to get (and learn how to use) some photo editing software and we'll be good to go! 


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I just think these are neat!  

 
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I only learned of Tracy Anderson this year and have since been obsessed with her workout style.  It so fits what I'm looking for.  Her programs are targeted to get you a "dancers body", thin but strong, long and lean. She has a whole series of videos, but I think I'll try this one first. I already do a bunch of stuff she's put out on You Tube

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Now, we all know how much Ted loves his Wubba.  I recently saw this at Petco and thought it would be perfect for Ted.  He would tote that thing all around outside, just like his Jolly Ball. It's so huge!  Missy would be totally content with a new chew bone or a squeaky-squeaky. George wants treats, any kind will do.


Let the Shopping begin! I hope you get everything you want!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Fill in the Blanks Friday! - Thanksgiving Edition

1. My Thanksgiving plans this year will include heading to the gym bright and early for my own little 5K. I usually try to do an actual race (my first race EVER was on Thanksgiving!), but just didn't feel like shelling out the cash this year and had a sneaking suspicion that it was going to be super cold this year. Turns out I was right! It's going to be COLD on Thursday so I think I'll just go for a nice little run in my climate controlled gym, thank you very much. Heck, maybe I'll even make it a 10K :) After that I'll bum around the house then head to my aunts house for the Anello family eat-a-palooza and then home to scour the Black Friday ads and watch some TV with Zach. Can't wait!

2. My favorite Thanksgiving was (no offense extended family) the one that was just me, my parents and my brothers. It was way back when and I can't remember why we did it, but we busted out the china and had a nice little dinner. Just us. Holiday family time is awesome, but I'm easily overwhelmed, so it's good every once in a while to just go back to basics, but normally I do like all the big hooplah.

3. My signature Thanksgiving dish is dessert. I've never made anything else. Like, ever. Ok, well, once I made mashed potatoes. Just once (but not for Thanksgiving). I really need to start cooking more, no? Anyway, I make a wide variety of pumpkin desserts. My pumpkin roll is good. So are my pumpkin bars. And my pumpkin bread. But, this year I think I'm going with pumpkin whoopie pies.

4. My favorite Thanksgiving food is DESSERT! Yum yum! Pecan Pie is my favorite. I do also love apple pie. And pumpkin stuff. And cake! And whatever else you can give me filled with sugar. Thankfully my family is BIG on desserts, so there is never a shortage. I hardly eat any actual dinner and save all my room for dessert. That being said, I had NEVER tried sweet potatoes until last year. They just looked....weird. So I stayed far, far away. WHY oh WHY didn't anyone tell me that THEY ARE THE BEST THINGS EVER!? It's like dessert! For dinner! My goodness.... delicious. I must learn how to make them (with like a gallon of butter, brown sugar and of course, marshmallows on top!)

5. Thanksgiving is just kind of another day for me. I don't know, it's no big deal. Never has been. Eh. I'm kind of ready for it to be over. I do enjoy the two days off work though! :)

6. I am thankful for my husband, my dogs, my cat, my family, my friends, my job, my house and possessions, my families health, to live in America and all that other good stuff!

Gobble! Gobble!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Just hanging out!


Not a whole lot going on in the world-o-Stephanie right now, hence the lack of blogging.  Such is life. 

I've been cooking and baking more regularly! I take pictures to blog with, but they all turn out terrible.  I'm hoping to get a new camera and figure out how to take pictures when there's no natural light. (suggestions welcome). It probably won't be before holiday baking time starts though (around the corner folks!), which stinks because I have lots of new recipes I want to try this year. 

Still working out.  Trying for 6 days a week, but it usually ends up at 5. I need to be better at not skipping that 6th day. I want to give up Diet Coke, but every day I try ends up being a "bad" one and I give in. I guess there are worse things in life than drinking one coke a day, but still, I need to quit. Sugar and carbs are still my biggest downfalls, but sugar is slowly becoming less and less appealing, which is just bizarre to me. Otherwise, I think I still eat fairly healthy. Still totally on that big soup kick too.

I'm looking down the barrel of the last 6 months of my 20's and am not dealing with it very well. I guess I just need to focus on making it a good six months right?

So yep, that's about it!

Here are some new pictures of the pups!







...and I totally just outted myself for watching The Vanilla Ice Project.
(but it's so good!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Howl-O-Ween 2010

Happy Halloween from our pups to yours!

 Ever since we've had Missy, I've always called her "The Crazy Banana".  I swore one day I'd find a banana Halloween costume and this was the year! It was so funny, I'd put her in it and she wouldn't budge. Just stood there, completely still.  Poor thing. She was just too adorable though.


 Ted didn't originally have a Halloween costume.  Friday after work I thought I'd just stop by Target to see if they had anything on sale.  I always thought it would be hilarious to dress him up as a horse, but I never thought I'd find a costume.  Then this leaped off the shelf at me. The headless horesman! So funny! I literally doubled over in a laughter when we finally got him in it.  Once he was in it he really didn't care about it, but oh man, it was funny!

 We didn't get a single trick-or-treater.  Sad.  The kids missed out though, we had some good candy!


 George lucked out this year and didn't have to wear his wizzard costume. I'll be sure to get him next year. 

The first pumpkin I ever carved all on my own!! It's hard work! 

I hope you had a fantabulous Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Bars

Happy Almost-Halloween!

 
It's finally starting to feel a little more like fall around here and it's so nice! We had a Halloween Trick-or-TREAT DAY at work on Friday and of course everyone expected me to bring my now-famous frosted sugar cookies (sorry, no recipe to share here, top secret!), but I also wanted to bring another dessert since I had the baking itch. I saw these on Sugar Plum's blog a few days ago and they just looked too yummy. The recipe was super simple and I already had everything I needed, so it was perfect!

Frosted Pumpkin Bars
via: Sugar Plum
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 (16 oz) can pumpkin puree
4 large eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted

Frosting (I doubled this)
4 ounces cream cheese, softed
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 15x10x1 jelly roll pan (mine is 17x13x1 and worked just fine) with cooking spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat together butter, granulated sugar and pumpkin until creamy - about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs until well combined - about 2-3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in flour mixture until just combined. Beat in walnuts until just combined.

Scrape and smooth batter into prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, beat cream cheese in a large mixing bowl using a mixer on medium speed until creamy. Beat in butter until creamy. Beat in confectioners' sugar, cream and vanilla until well combined and smooth - about 2-3 minutes. Spread frosting over cake, sprinkle with extra cinnamon if desired, and slice into bars.



Yum yum! They were a big hit at work. Some people even told me they ate them instead of their lunch! Ha! They did dry out pretty bad after a while, so I suggest storing them in the fridge until you are going to serve them. Enjoy! 

Come back soon to see what the dogs are for Halloween this year! It's gonna be hilarious!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Three Years

This past Thursday, Zach and I celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary. We both took a few days off of work and just spent time together. We didn't have any plans, we just hung out. It was a nice change of pace considering we only have limited time with each other during a normal week and that time usually manages to get scheduled to the nth degree. That night we went and had a very lovely dinner at Pierpont's at Union Station, which was great because we took most of our wedding day pictures at Union Station.  Ah, good memories.

So here's to 3 great years and many more to come.


Stephanie & Zach  ~ October 13, 2007

Loves you!
-Me

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Taco Soup

I've been behind the times.  I've never had, or made, Taco Soup. Quite frankly when it comes to soup, I'm just now, at the age of 29, starting to try "new" things.  Up until now my soup consumption has consisted mainly of chicken noodle, tomato, and beef and barley. B-or-ing.

These days I'm a soup fanatic. I can't eat enough of the stuff! I would guess I probably eat soup for dinner or lunch at least 4 times a week.  The soup aisle is my new favorite place! So many choices! So cheap! So healthy! I guess it's a phase, but a welcome one.

This Taco Soup recipe has been around for a long time. I think it might be another Weight Watchers recipe, but I kind of just threw it together based on a few internet searches.   It was not really as much a soup as it is a chili.  Either way, it was delicious! And really easy! Brown some meat, open some cans, mix it all together, simmer and you are done!



Taco Soup
1 lb. ground turkey or lean beef (I used ground turkey)
1 (1 oz.) package hidden valley ranch dressing mix (I used spicy ranch mix)
1 (1 oz) package taco seasoning Mix
1 (16 oz.) can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 (16 oz) can chili beans
1 (16 oz) can whole kernel corn (I used an even smaller can and will likely leave it out completely next time, corn just isn't our thing)
1 (8 oz) can Mexican-style tomatoes (used Rotel)
1 (8 oz) can diced tomatoes (any flavor)
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chili's 
Dash of onion powder
Dash of garlic powder
Dash of Southwest Chipolte Spice
1 Can of water

Brown the beef or turkey in a skillet and drain off excess liquid.  In a large stockpot, combine the ground meat and all the spices and cans of beans and veggies plus one can of water (you could use more if you want it even soupier or none if you want a thick chili).  Let simmer for 1 hour over low to medium heat.

We served ours topped with cheddar cheese and a side of cornbread. It was the perfect fall meal! The leftovers are even better!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Soft Pretzels - My New Favortie Recipe

I love soft pretzels. Love them! The are one of my most favorite ballpark treats.  That chewy crust, the soft bread, the sprinkles of salt and the delicious cheese dip is just too much for me to resist. 

I'd always wanted to try making soft pretzels on my own, but just figured they would be too hard.  That is until my baking hero Annie of Annie's Eats posted a how-to on soft pretzels.  I knew I had to try!  So, one Chiefs Sunday I decided to make them before the game. 

I'm going to be honest. I had no idea how soft pretzels were made and when I got to the part about boiling them in baking soda water (!?!) I just had a feeling that I was doomed.  The whole time I was in the kitchen I kept yelling out to Zach, "Don't expect much!", "There's no way these are going to work", "I have no idea what I'm doing!".  Needless to say, I was less than optimistic.  I was constantly surprised when each step turned out to be rather easy! I was doing it! I was making soft pretzels! Using yeast and baking soda water and everything!  



Soft Pretzels
from Annie's Eats
Ingredients:
For the dough:
1½ cups warm water (110-115° F)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 4½ cups)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl

For finishing:
Cooking spray
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Pretzel (or kosher) salt

Directions:
To make the dough, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast. Add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 50-55 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot. In the meantime, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll a segment out into a 24-inch long rope. Make a U-shape with the rope and holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and onto the bottom of the U-shape in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 or 2 at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove from the water with a slotted skimmer and return to the baking sheet. Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.


You guys, These. Were. Amazing.  I couldn't believe it!  I'm not even joking when I say this might very well be my most favorite thing I've ever made. Yes, that's how much I love soft pretzels! They tasted even better than at the stadium!  We froze the ones we didn't eat right away and then heated them up a couple weeks later by thawing them a bit in the microwave and then putting them back in the oven for just about 3-4 minutes. Perfect even re-heated!

You must make these. Nowish.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fill in the Blank Friday - October 8, 2010

1. The first thing I do in the morning to start my day is (at home) give the dogs and cat lots of hugs and loves. (at work) crack open a diet coke and check up on my Google Reader. It's my own coffee and newspaper type of thing.

2. Today I wish I was hanging out at home with the pups watching all my lame DVR'd shows, all cozy in bed.


3. If I had an extra $100 in my bank account today I would head to TJ Maxx. I'm in the mood to shop and could spend hours in that place with $100!

4. Tomorrow we are taking Ted to the vet because he has some mystery yuckiness in his ears (poor dude), then I will go to the gym and work out in the yard with Zach. Tomorrow night we are having dinner with friends out at the Cheesecake Factory! Mmmm!


5. Two things that don't go together are socks with strappy sandals. People! Stop it!


6. Something I can never pass up at the grocery store is shredded cheese. It's an honest to goodness sickness. I probably have 4 bags of the stuff at home right now. That and recently I've been buying a ton of soup. Can't get enough of it. Most of the time it's even better when you throw some shredded cheese on top! :)

7. The last time I tried something new was just now! I had some Southwestern Ranch Baked Lays. Delish! Very spicy and actually Southwesterny! Usually all chips taste the same to me...

Have a happy weekend!

A different kind of race!

I know you all are used to me blabbering on about all the races that I run, but this time it's not about me! A few weeks ago my friend Kristy send me an email asking if Zach and I would like to go to the NASCAR race with her and her husband.  After staring blankly at my screen for a few seconds (Kristy and are aren't what you'd consider to be your typical NASCAR goin girls) I asked Zach if he'd be up to it.  We both agreed that even though we don't follow the "activity" (absolutely refuse to call it a sport, sorry) we thought the experience would be fun. And it was! 

 I had no idea what to expect when we got there.  First, parking was FREE(!!!) and it looked as if people had been there for a long while. As in, all weekend. Plus the number of flags was insane! I'm bummed I didn't get a better picture.

 I'm not sure how far away we parked, but it felt like it took ten years to walk to the actual speedway. 

We got our credentials and were shocked at the price on the tickets. $150!! Holy bananas! So glad we scored these puppies for free! We also got "Fan Walk" passes. We'll get to that...

 I can't remember how many the speedway seats, but it is a lot!

 Our seats were in row 14 way on the end of the seating area.  Normally row 14 would be awesome for most events, but for a big race, it makes it a little hard to see, but being that close to the cars was pretty neato!

 A look at the infield. People apparently pay thousands of dollars to camp out there all weekend. You should have seen some of the campers and setups! Wooden decks and all! It was crazy.

 What's neat about racing is that they let you bring in your own cooler full of whatever you want!  Kristy and I decided to attempt to relive our college days and brought vodka with soda.  I think I took maybe 3 drinks of mine before admitting I'm old and crying uncle. Plus I didn't really think about all the debris that would be floating around the air. No sooner had I poured my cup when I noticed a bunch of little black flecks floating around in it.  Diet Coke please! "Next time" I'll stick to beer like the boys did.

 James and Kristy! We are about to head down the stairs to the Fan Walk.

This is the tunnel that goes under the track to the infield. Ooooohweeee! It sounded really crazy when the cars drove over it too!

 Varoom!

 Here we are on the inside of the track. It was different, but the same.  Yep. I know my racing. 


 I believe this is the scoreboard. Evidently you have to know the numbers on the cars to have this make any sort of sense.

 We got pretty close to all the trailers and stuff. Serious business goes on back there.





 Kristy and I got our picture taken at Victory Lane in the infield. It's where the winner gets their trophy. We didn't stay for the whole race to witness it though.

 Zach and I!

 This is the Pit Area! It's where the cars pull in to get their tires changed and stuff. It looks like a lot bigger space on TV.  Fast and furious work!

video
Here's a really terrible cell phone video of the cars zooming past! They really do go super fast!  It was noisy, but not too bad. I didn't feel like I needed ear plugs or anything. What I wasn't prepared for was the smell! I left reaking of exhaust fumes and burnt rubber.  

Overall we had a really fun time! I'm glad we got to go! It was yet another perfect fall day and we enjoyed it to the max!

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Greenwood, Missouri, United States

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