Photo Preview: Tally Rock Gym’s Potluck & Climbing Party

Last Monday, May 2, Rich graciously allowed me to coordinate a little summertime celebration for the members of Tallahassee Rock Gym. The concept was simple – the rock gym is always closed on Mondays, so to give climbers something to do on this lame day, we opened up the gym for members under one condition: you had to contribute something to the potluck.

Not too shabby, eh? There was also a crowded refrigerator full of bratwursts, hummus, veggie patties and more. We did a bit of grilling, a bit of climbing, some slack-lining, and a whole lot of sitting around in front of the gym. Our faithful members brought more to the table than any group of humans could possibly consume in one sitting, which resulted in us attempting to stuff our face with as much as we could. Things got messy, and I quickly got lazy.

Have I mentioned lately how wonderful it is to have a chef as a friend? Raul cooks some of the meanest dishes I have ever tasted, he’s a true culinary artist. His risotto is to die for, mmm. For the potluck, he cooked up a batch of chicken wings doused in sour orange marinade and Adobo seasoning – my kind of man! Speaking of men I love, check out this great shot I got of Nick Seale arriving at the festivities.

We ended the day with juggling lessons from AJ on the slackline, and a surprise cameo by Anthea, who proved herself to be the world’s best dog for playing catch.

Great day overall, and a big thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate a day of climbing, food, sunshine and Tally Rock Gym love. I’m going to miss the gym so much during my trip, even though I’ll be out in some of the best crags in America – nothing compares to home!

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A Grillin’ Potluck and Bohemian Rhapsody

I know, I know – I have a sick obsession with pot lucks. Can you blame me? It’s a perfect celebration, combining friends, tasty treats, beer and entertainment. The ingredients add up to a guaranteed good time.

Today’s featured pot luck was hosted at the adorable new house of my two pals, Monty and Ashley. The buffet spread included hamburgers, sausages, veggie burgers, green bean casserole, chicken wings and plenty of finger foods. Niko and I brought home-style macaroni and cheese with bread crumb topping, as well as a batch of chocolate chip cookies and gummi bears.

Aside from stuffing our faces with southern style eats, we rationed our time playing Mad Gab, sifting through old climbing magazines, roasting our fingers by the fireplace and enjoy a rousing performance of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, led by McGoo and Ashley in their finest forms.

Tonight, I’ll be having a girl’s night dinner with some old friends, then we’ll head out for drinks at Fermentation Lounge – pictures shall follow, as always. Stay tuned for a peek at the stunning photography of Samantha Carter, and a killer climbing video.

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It’s official: the new condo has passed the ‘Climber Dinner Party’ test!

Within the past year, I have developed a huge adoration for hosting, and attending, family-style dinners with my climber crew. Not quite apt for pounding shots of vodka or the Florida State ‘club’ scene, my kin from the Tallahassee Rock Gym have fallen into a trend of pot lucks, dinner parties and barbecue grilling.

My enormous old house at 2208 proved to be an excellent venue for hosting dinners; it had a spacious kitchen, lots of room for socializing and a great backyard for fire pits. Moving into my new, smaller condo presented a possible detriment to my passion for being a hostess – but fear not, because the new place has passed the ‘Dinner Party’ test with flying colors. The clean, updated kitchen was one of the first things that drew me to the property, and cooking up huge batches of spaghetti with alfredo sauce – in both vegetarian and chicken varieties – was achieved without fault, if you’ll overlook Niko’s rookie mistake of putting way too much spaghetti in a boiling pot.

What did my guests enjoy the most about the new digs? Our big, cushy couches. The last house meekly offered a painful futon that people refused to torture their rear ends with, so the new couches are a much welcomed improvement. I just need to learn how not to fall asleep on them, which has potential to become an issue.

As usual, I had a wonderful evening with my favorite people. My faithful dinner guests never fail to supply our meals with tasty treats, and this time we were delighted with John and Libby’s famous spicy guacamole, whole grain garlic bread, munchies from my mom and heaps of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Coors – which brings me to a totally irrelevant exclamation: Coors vs. Coors Light is a ridiculous battle that should never be fought. Coors, for the win.

If you haven’t had the fortune of attending one of our weekly dinner sessions, do yourself a favor and invite yourself over. Words can’t begin to express the wonderful group of people whose friendship I have been blessed to acquire. Last night, we enjoyed a smoky grilled feast at Ashley and Monty’s charming new house – and of course I’ll be posting those photos shortly.

Until then, keep munchin’ and keep truckin’ onwards. The upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. weekend had promised three days of unadulterated climbing in the North Georgia/Southern Tennessee areas, but the weather forecast seems to be raining on our parade – literally. As always, I’ll keep you updated!

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On Holiday Potlucks, Cupcake Decorating and Climber Boys Who Do My Dishes.

Genuine friendship, mutual gratitude and warm hospitality are rare qualities to find collectively within a group of friends. I hosted a holiday pot luck, climber-style, at my house last night, and enjoyed a great evening of homestyle cooking, rowdy conversation, marshmallow roasting and even a mini-baking lesson – but let me digress.

I spent all afternoon preparing treats for my guests. I started off by baking about 20 cupcakes, then moved on to a batch of sugar cookies. Naturally, I  doused it all in creamy frosting. During my kitchen escapades, my housemate’s boyfriend wandered over to the smell of warm pastries. I was in the midst of putting colorful gel frosting on a cupcake when he offered to teach me a little trick. Check out my fabulous Seminoles cupcake!

After a few hours of furious baking and cooking, my personal pot luck spread consisted of chicken and ground turkey handmade dumplings, a pesto spread with loads of bread rounds,  frosted sugar cookies, decorated cupcakes and a bowl of dried fruit bits with nuts. Not too shabby, right? Well, I was quite upstaged by the buffet of treats contributed by my lovely guests. Our final selection included: spinach and artichoke dip, a phenomenal green been casserole, freshly baked crescent rolls, garlic mashed potatoes and a sweet potato with cinnamon apple casserole. Not to mention the enormous sampling of different beers, ranging from good ‘ole Pabst Blue Ribbon to the entire holiday line of Magic Hat brews.

Naturally, we made a huge mess of my kitchen, but I was hardly worried about the chaos in the midst of all my festive cheer. When I finally decided to tackle some of the dishes, I opened my dishwasher to a surprise – one of the climber boys had slyly filled it up with dirty plates and utensils. How often do you find a strong, burly hunk of man who will also clean your kitchen?

It was a wonderful evening spent munching on holiday foods and warming our fingertips by the fire.  The event reminded me how incredibly fortunate I am to be able to associate myself with the folks that make up our community at Tally Rock Gym. If you are looking for a simple way to celebrate the holidays with friends, I highly suggest a pot luck. Tell everyone to bring either food or booze, and you’ll see your kitchen become overloaded with delicious treats. I love this season!

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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!

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