Monday, March 21, 2011

Welcome, Splendid Sunshiney Spring!

My favorite part of any season is its initial arrival. I love the beginning of summer when the pools open and you see kids everywhere because school is finally out. I adore when fall rolls in and you grab a scarf on your way out the door, and can't help but notice the tops of trees changing to yellows and reds. The first snowfall of winter is always something to behold.

But today, today I would like to embrace the arrival of springtime. I thought it was coming a few weeks ago when I saw some daffodils fighting their way out of the earth, but this weekend Spring decided to come on out in all of its glory. I broke out the flip flops, I wore a dress (pale legs be damned!), and I cherished every single bud on the trees. Roanoke is blossoming, and it's gorgeous. Downtown is covered in dogwoods, lilacs cheer up the cemetery across the street, daffodils recline in front yards, welcoming the extended daylight hours.

In order to properly celebrate this weather, I've gotten myself outside. I went running last week, and had decided that I wanted to conquer McAfee Knob on Saturday. OfficeMate being an adventurous soul, decided to join me. So off we went, ready to brave the gazillion other hikers that were no doubt going to be out on this gorgeous March afternoon to the most photographed location on the Appalachian Trail. The parking lot was packed, but I refused to be deterred. Being overzealous, I blazed ahead without bothering to read any signs. We stopped after about 3/4 of a mile for a scenic overlook, but I wanted to continue on to the overlook - the one people travel to Roanoke for. So we kept on trucking.

Two hours later, we had seen practically no one, which was odd considering the amount of people in the parking lot. We smartphoned it up to discover we were in fact on the Appalachian Trail, but had hiked about four miles south... not north. Whoops. It was still a beautiful day and I'm thankful I was able to get such a solid hike in, even if it wasn't to McAfee Knob. Just another hike for another weekend. Plus, that first overlook wasn't so shabby.
But goodness, I need to start researching my hikes more to avoid more directional catastrophes.

Cooking (of course)
The kitchen has been ablaze (not literally, knock on wood) with activity. Along with Pi Day, last week was also St. Patrick's Day. Now, it bears mentioning that I don't have an ounce of Irish blood in me. There's plenty of Latin blood and a hint of Scottish, but no Irish. Ergo, when I attempted to make corned beef and cabbage, I over-analyzed a simple recipe and it didn't come out quite like I had envisioned. It was rather... tough. I also had no beer in the apartment (there is almost never beer in this apartment), so instead, I had a nice Spanish wine from Galicia. That was the least disastrous part of that St. Patrick's Day meal. I'll leave Irish food to the Irish from here on out.

Luckily, my breakfast food is still reliable. When I moved to this apartment in October, I decided to start brushing up on my breakfast food skills. Other than Eggo waffles and cereal, I had never really been up for cooking in the AM hours. Now, either on a Saturday or Sunday morning(ish), I'll cook up some solid amounts of brunch. French toast, pancakes, eggs, homefries, sausage, bacon, eggs in a basket.... I've done it all. I'm actually quite proud of my homefries, which have taken months of practice to get to their current level of tastiness. Should you ever eat them, do yourself a favor and don't ask me how much butter is in them.

This week, I leave for a two-day training with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence in Charlottesville. I'm hoping to learn the techniques behind identifying proper funding sources for various nonprofit areas of interest ranging from early childhood education to health and wellness. Something I've struggled with has been getting various rejections for grants I've applied for. After a little bit of trial and error, I deduced that it wasn't so much that my proposals were poorly written or the programming wasn't desirable, but that the who was all wrong. I was asking any old foundation for funding, focusing on getting out a request, rather than finding the foundations who wanted to fund my exact program. So, hopefully, I'll come back from Charlottesville with some more ideas and a better plan of attack for the office and our clients.

Coincidentally, a dear friend of mine from college is celebrating her 24th birthday in Charlottesville this weekend, so I'll be there cheering her on this Saturday as she runs the Charlottesville Ten-Miler. It shall be grand.

Here's to a productive week.

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