Instead of a Quarter-Life Crisis Meltdown – I’m Going on an Epic Birthday Adventure!

What the title of this blog post should really say is “instead of having a quarter-life identity crisis and major meltdown, I’ve decided to climb 25 boulder problems in the southeast, stuff my face at an all-you-can-eat southern buffet, and spend an evening at my favorite Chattanooga digs” – but that seemed a little too long.

Who me? Turning 25? No way.In some crazy twist of events, I’m turning 25 tomorrow, October 16th. Not exactly sure how that happened, since I still feel like a kid most of the time, but apparently, I’m a real grown-up now. All around me, my peers are having babies, getting married, working full-time desk jobs – and I’m over here living in a van, climbing all day in the woods, and feeling pretty proud if I manage to shower once a week. Oops!

I’ll be honest, there were a few moments of “oh my god, this is it, I need to stop adventuring right now and rejoin the real world and start painting my nails and brushing my hair again – but let’s mull on that for a minute, it’s so not what’s going to happen. If anything, turning 25 is a milestone to celebrate with even more adventures. Thus, I’ve decided to trade my quarter-life crisis for a 25th birthday celebration worthy of reaching my quarter-life.

Here’s the plan:

I’m going to climb 25 boulder problems to commemorate 25 years of a wonderful life (inspired by my buddy Spenser who did 29 Squamish classics for his 29th this summer). I originally wanted to do this at Stone Fort in Tennessee, where I went on my first outdoor climbing trip, but a rainy forecast put a literal damper on my plans – so we’re relocating to Rocktown. There’s still a 30% chance of rain there in Georgia, but I’ll rough it on some moist sandstone if I have to! I’ll post the official tick list once the challenge is completed.

After shredding my skin on sandstone, I’ll refuel at my favorite new eatery, Wally’s Restaurant – an all-you-can-eat southern food buffet loaded with all my favorite fixings, including collard greens, mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes, breaded catfish, fried chicken, homemade banana pudding, and sweet tea.

The evening will be completed at one of my favorite Chattanooga spots, The Crash Pad. The fellas generously offered to put Niko and I up in one of their sweet private rooms, so we’ll get to shower (see, I’m totally a grown-up!) and relax before heading over to their new on-site restaurant, The Flying Squirrel, for some celebratory drinks.

But it doesn’t stop there – on Thursday, we’re headed out to Waxhaw, North Carolina, to meet up with my family and two of my favorite fellas for a weekend of pumpkin-picking, brewery-hopping, merry-making, and general wonderfulness. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday – I’m a lucky gal.

Who needs a quarter-life meltdown when you can just have an epic adventure instead? 

Long lost photography from Chattanooga & my birthday potluck!

I’ve kept you waiting long enough, so here you go readers – the long-awaited film photographs from my 22nd birthday potluck and my trip to Chattanooga have finally been developed.

I had a wonderful pair of birthday weekends, and naturally must thank my amazing friends and boyfriend for their company. My birthday potluck illustrated how many people care about me – largely folks from the rock gym, no surprise there! I can’t thank Niko enough for the beautiful weekend we spent together in Chattanooga. Twenty-two might be old, but I’m ready for another year of growing up and adventuring.

Next set of photos: my developed film shots from the FSU Climbing Club trip to Horse Pens 40 – but first, three more photographs from Chattanooga can be found by clicking the link to see more! The rest of the photos will be posted on Facebook within the next few days, and I’ll be sure to include a link to the album.

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Scrumptious Sunday – Ashley’s Infamous Bean Dip

Last night, I threw a pot luck at my house as an early birthday celebration. My counter tops were teeming with all sorts of treats, and we opened up my beautiful backyard for the first time, complete with a fire pit! I had a wonderful night with my giant ‘birthday girl’ cup full of my mom’s sangria and a crowd of my favorite people. We roasted marshmallows, watched undefeated champs Ryan and Sam dominate the beer pong table, toasted to Florida State’s unexpected victory and basked in each other’s company – but the undeniable highlight of the evening was Ashley Laing’s infamous, unbeatable, devilish bean dip.

This bean dip makes an appearance at every food-bearing occasion that Ashley attends. It is the most phenomenal dish that tortilla chips have ever been blessed enough to get dunked in. The dip is simple, ingenious, and dangerously addictive. Last night, the first batch lasted about an hour, largely due to the fact that the secret wasn’t out yet. Once the glassware was scraped clean, Ashley cooked up a second batch – and this time it was gone within 15 minutes. Like a flock of starving vultures, we ascended upon the dip and feasted uncontrollably. The boys could not stop gushing with praise for Ashley’s tasty bean dip; it’s an irresistible explosion of hot beans lathered in cream cheese and dripping with melted shredded cheddar.

Here’s how to make it:

  • Ingredients:
    1. One stick of Philadelphia cream cheese.
    2. One can of chili beans, can be vegetarian or meaty!
    3. Shredded cheese, I prefer cheddar.
    4. A casserole dish, or similar ceramic/glassware.
    5. A bag of tortilla chips.
  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  • Spread the cream cheese in an even layer across the bottom of the dish.
  • Layer the entire can of beans/chili across the cream cheese layer.
  • Sprinkle a hearty amount of shredded cheese across the top of the dip.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes – this is a rough estimate, so check on it frequently!
  • Let it stand for a few minutes after removing from the oven; it’s hot as all hell.

I wish I had taken some shots of the dip with my digital camera, but I only used about half a roll with my AE-1, so we’ll have to wait for photos. Images could never do this delicious dip justice; you’ll have to taste it for yourself. Kudos to Ashley for sharing this stunning quick-fix masterpiece, and a million thanks to her mom, who came up with the dish as a fast solution for last minute pot luck parties.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the house last night! I had a phenomenal evening munching on my wine-soaked fruit and enjoying the company of my favorite climbers and friends. Six days until my birthday, folks!

October 2010 – Adventure Month!

Folks, we are only 11 days away from the best month of the year – October. Not only does this fabulous tenth month of the year contain my birthday, this October will be full of adventure. Great bands are playing, climbing adventures shall be plentiful and my birthday weekend will be celebrated with a romantic road-trip to Chattanooga! October is going to be jam-packed with new experiences and exciting ventures.

First in the month, we’ve got awesome bands playing at Florida State University back-to-back. On Wednesday, October 6th, the phenomenal band Foals will be playing at Club Down Under – for free! Then, on Friday the 8th, Yeasayer will be treating our campus to an outdoor performance on the green – also for free, and all ages. Other bands playing in Tallahassee during October include Mae, Matt & Kim and more. (And on November 19th, Iron & Wine will be jamming at the Moon!)

The rest of the month will be filled with road trips. During my birthday weekend in the middle of October, Niko and I are planning a trip up to explore Chattanooga, Tennessee. Niko found a ton of fantastic places that I’m dying to see. I’m really looking forward to Tennessee Aquarium, which currently features an exhibit that combines live jellyfish with the glass-blown art of Dale Chihuly – two of my favorite things. We’re also going to check out bountiful fresh produce and a free rock climbing wall at the outdoor Chattanooga Market. The next weekend, we’re heading to Horse Pens 40 with the FSU Climbing Club for our semester trip. I’ve never climbed at HP40, so I’m looking forward to getting outdoors in a new destination.

In the spirit of exploration and travel, I’ve harvested a handful of WeHeartIt images to arouse the adventurer in everyone. Whether you’re able to pack up and head out towards uncharted territories, or have to find adventure in your nearby backyard – get out there and experience what your surroundings have to offer!



“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.”
– Wilfred Peterson