Rigatoni with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

Remember how I told you about that pasts cook book a few weeks ago, and I made that awesome one dish wonder?! Wellllll, here is another one for you. This one is banging if you’re having those carb cravings but you don’t want something super rich and…. sauce-aaaay. The great thing about this one is that it uses the same pepper roasting technique that David uses to make his delicious pimento cheese, so we were able to knock this entire meal out (including eating) in about an hour, and thats a pretty jam up meal if you ask me!

Ingredients:
1 box of Rigatoni
1/4 cup of part skim ricotta cheese
2 red peppers
2 tsp of salt and pepper
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of packed fresh parsley
3 leaves of fresh basil
1 tbsp of olive oil
1/4 cup of shredded parm. cheese

Instructions:

1. wash the red peppers and place them in a roasting pan in a oven and let them broil, charing on all sides. This takes about 15 minutes, make sure you’re on stand by to keep turning the pepper so they don’t get SUPER burnt. 
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2. Once the peppers are roasted, place them in a sealed container to steam and cool. Once they are cool remove them from the container, peel, and remove seeds.

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3. Quarter the peppers, and place them in a food processor with the remaining ingredients, and process until smooth. Then pour over top of cooked noodles and mix to coat.

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4. Serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese and enjoy this speed quick light pasta dish! IMG_2879

Mac’s Speed Shop

This past Friday night, David and I hit up another local spot with our friends, Tyler and Melissa. First of all it was so good to see them and catch up on things. Tyler is a mutual friend from our major at Clemson and his wife, Melissa, has become one of my lady friends since we are now all in charlotte together! David and I have been talking a lot about finding a good bbq joint in Charlotte to fill the void left by the one and only smokin pig in Clemson, and until this friday we hadn’t even eaten BBQ since our last visit to Clemson in September or October. So, dinner Friday night at Mac’s speed shop was quite the little treat! Macs-Speed-Shop-South-End

The BBQ was pretty top notch, and the atmospehere was great, and the fact that they had a super beer selection wasn’t too shabby either! At first I was kind of bummed, because this place is a lot closer to where I live now, which is not going to be where I live when David and I finally settle down, since were both currently working on the North side of town. BUUUUT! lucky us, they also have a location in Cornelius, so we could make it work if we had to. They also have tons of events and live music and entertainment all the time, so it would be a cool place to just kind of go, hang out, relax, and have a few drinks. Apart from my delicious bar-b-que plate, I also appreciated the fact that they chose to celebrate national margarita day ( which was this past friday) by selling me a margarita on the cheap! Gotta love that! We will definitely be paying quite a few more visits to Mac’s. Again, I continue to be embarrassed that it has taken this long for use to become more familiar with the city we now call home, BUT our goal this year is to change all that, so stay tuned for more!

Pan Cooked Pot Stickers

The first time David and I ever made pot stickers in college it took us like 3 hours and by the time we finished cooking, we were so frustrated, completely exhausted and still starving. It wasn’t really an epic fail because dinner turned out quite deliciously, but it was one of those moments where you thought ‘gosh, this would be twice as delicious, if they weren’t cold, it wasn’t 9:00 at night, and I didn’t have a few oil burns on my arm    -_- such is life. Over the years we have kind of gotten it down to a science, a science that involves my sister… because she is really good  at sealing the wonton wrappers, and that part takes a while. SO, when she said she was coming to visit this past weekend, we knew that we had the perfect opportunity to make delicious little bags of steamed asian goodness! And I was really excited, because I was finally able to share this with you!

Ingredients: 
1 bag of dry asian slaw or cabbage
1lb of ground pork or turkey
1 Tbsp. of Soy Sauce
1 cup of water
1 package of wonton wrappers (or 48 wrappers)

Instructions: 

1. Cook the ground turkey (or pork, or chicken or whatever you want to use!) and then drain off the excess fats and oils. Return the drained meat back to the pan and mix together with the asian slaw and soy sauce and sauté quickly, add pepper to taste. This will be your stuffing
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2. Let the stuffing cool completely, we always put ours in the freezer just to cool it down because if it is too hot it will make the wonton wrappers really doughy and hard to deal with, and potentially poke holes in them. Once it is cool, put a very small spoonfull of the stuffing in the middle of the wrapper.
IMG_28543. Once you do that you wan to spread it so that it makes a diagonal line from corner to corner on the wrapper, and then dip your finger in the cup of water and coat the edges of the wrapper with water, this will help them to stick together and seal.

IMG_28564. Once you do this fold the edges over, corner to corner, to make a triangle. and then press the edges, then use a fork to seal the pouches, and set the closed pouches aside.
IMG_28595. Heat a deep pan of vegetable oil to medium high heat. Once the oil is heated, sear the pot stickers on each side until they are a nice golden brown, this should only take a few minutes per side.
IMG_28606. Immediately remove the pot stickers from the pan and put them in a steamer (aka a deep pan with a little water in the bottom) with a lid. Let the pot stickers steam for 3 to 5 minutes and then remove from the steamer and sit on a drying rack to drain excess oil and water.

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7. Once they are all cooked, serve up with rice or veggies and enjoy! We had ours with edamame! SOOOO delicious! And David has become quite the master at getting just the right amount of crunch on the outside of the potstickers. We always tell our parents we want to make this dish for them… but its just so intense, so it never really pans out!

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This is a great meal for family kitchen time together. You almost have to set up a little pot sticker assembly line to make it happen, a stuffer, a closer, a sealer, and someone to man the stove! Its definitely key to prepare and be organized when making this meal because the kitchen can get chaotic pretty quickly! Don’t stress if the first attempt is kind of cray! It took us a few times to get it right, but now I would say that were pretty much ballers at making pot stickers, however unless you want to lend a hand in the kitchen, don’t ask us to make these for you! We’ll make you work for a good dinner around here!

Movement Mondays- DO THE HARLEM SHAKE

Normally I try to post videos of dance that inspire me, or move me, or just make me want to get up and grove, but this week, I decided to talk about this craze that is obviously sweeping the globe — The Harlem Shake. Im not even going to pretend like I don’t get into the whole nod at the flash mob, and my inner greek loves the ridiculous costumes and the rave like activity, but I also wish it was something a little more aweseom than gyrating and being ridiculous. But, alas, I keep finding myself pouring through so many of these when I am bored. Or talking to all these people about them, so I thought what better place to share all my favorites than here… with you… on the day that I talk about dance. So, I am sure you are all as sick of these videos as I am, but just in case you’re not… here’s several 30 second videos of people who can do the harlem shake like beasts!

The first, Clemson University… because I went there, and its awesome, and I love this.

UGA Men’s Swim & Dive Team — This one is underwater, and thats all you need to know.

St. Petersburg, Russia, Subway Edition, this one cracks me up, I don’t know why. At first you can tell people are trying not to laugh because they obviously know whats going on, and then… the insanity breaks out and the guy in the camo sleeping bag LITERALLY kills me..So weird.

Emily Sasson Style — shes an awesome hip hop choreographer annnd I love that she did legit choreography to this! AND the dance is longer than 3o seconds, which makes it doubly awesome!

 

Cake Pop Creations

Yesterday I told you all about the Mickey Mouse birthday party we went to for my two cousins this past weekend. In that post I also mentioned that David and I had quite the little adventure making cake pops. I would first like to say that we purposely did a test run to see how long it would take, how many cake pops one batch of the cake batter would make, and find a good technique for dipping the pops in the icing we were making. I have to say that David wasn’t thrilled to begin with, I got less thrilled as the project went on, AND he has set a deadline for the cake pops to be finished for the trial run, and that was by the time the Superbowl came on. Really I only have myself to blame for the time crunch, as I should not have planned this activity on the same day as the LAST FOOTBALL GAME UNTIL FALL (dun dun dunnnnnnn!) But we managed to get it done. I have to say that I am really happy that we took the initiate to do the test run because…. they did NOT turn out well…. AT ALL. We used icing that was too thick, couldn’t quite figure out the ears and had about 10 of our 35 cake pops that looked something like… this:

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Yeah so it was a pretty traumatic experience, but David did manage to figure out a really good dipping technique by the end so the last few that we did looked pretty top notch, and then by the time we were ready to make the cake pops the second time for the birthday party we looked like seasoned professionals. Which, I can’t imagine how frustrated and discouraged I would have been if the trial run had been the actual making of the birthday party cake pops because… it was really demoralizing. But, enough about my failures, lets talk about my awesome successes!

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Like I said after the trial run we had much more success making the cake pops. The recipe is super easy and my BFFL (haha!) got me this fun little cake pop maker for Christmas, so I almost feel like I am cheating because it makes like a dozen cake balls at a time, and I normally make 3 batches with on recipe of the batter! If you’re looking to get a cake pop maker, I definitely recommend this one, it comes with a little transfer tray to move the pops from the maker to the drying rack and a poker to remove the cake balls, and a recipe book for tons of different pops. We only experimented with the regular cake, we didn’t want to get too crazy on the first try, but I brought some to work and my Bosses grandkids told him that they were better than the cake pops at Starbucks. Winning!

How do you make these “better than Starbucks cake pops,” you ask? Let me tell you. You just need a few ingredients, some patience and some “cookie sticks” as they like to call them at Michael’s.

Your Supplies List includes:
Flour – 1 1/2 cups
Sugar – 1 cup
Eggs- 2
Baking Powder- 1 tsp
Vanilla- 2 Teaspoons
Butter – 1/2 cup
milk- 1/2 cup
salt – 1/4 teaspoon
Cake Pop Maker
Cookie Sticks
Vanilla Frosting- 1 16 oz container
White Chocolate chips- 1/2 cup +
Food Coloring

First you want to mix the cake batter: Flour salt and baking soda, then sugar and butter, then add the eggs and vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture, and then add the milk and flour mixture to this. Mix well, make sure you get all the lumps out. No one wants little pockets of flour in their cake pops, that’s gross! Once you have it all mixed, spoon on tablespoon of the mixture into each little spot on your cake pop maker.
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The close the lid and cook the balls for about 4 or 5 minutes, you want them to be a nice golden brown on the bottom side, but not burnt. Try to just trust the machine and not open the lid on the cake pop maker, things turn out better when you do that!
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Then remove the cake balls and let them cool COMPLETELY before you do anything else with then. We normally waited about 30 minutes to an hour to start messing with them, just because we wanted to be sure they were dry. Then you want to insert the sticks into the cake pops, so melt down some of your chocolate in a double boiler, once you do that, you want to put about 1/2 an inch of the stick into the white chocolate and then pop it into the bottom of the cake ball.

IMG_2795We let these dry for a while as well to make sure they were nice and attached before we started attaching ears and dipping them, etc etc to make our Mickey head cake pops.
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While you’re doing this you can mix up your icing, which is one can of the vanilla icing and 1/2 cup or more of the white chocolate chips. The more chocolate, the harder the icing will be when it dries (which is the trick) Just make sure you don’t burn it! We used deep coffee cups and boiling water to make a double boiler because you want something deep enough to submerge the entire cake pop at once while you are trying to frost it.

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To make the ears we used tiny little oreos and cut slits in the sides of the cake pops. To attach them we dunked the oreos into  icing and the chocolate mixture to use that as an adhesive!
IMG_2802Once we made sure those were nice and dry (and they had a little sit in the freezer to make sure) we began dunking them. We used red and yellow food coloring to make the colored icing, but you can do whatever color you like! Then, hold the cake pop upside down and dunk it into the frosting.

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Make sure you do this part really fast and then let the excess run off the top of the pop before you turn it rightside up to dry. We found that using a Styrofoam block to hold all the cake pops worked best and we can definitely reuse it for future projects. WOOT!
IMG_2807They aren’t perfect, but I have to say they look pretty good for something we made in our kitchen on a Thursday night! And they taste delicious, which is what really matters! Once we made sure they were all dry, we individually packaged them so they were party ready! You don’t have to do this, but we traveled like 2 hours with them so we felt it was necessary.
IMG_2809We just used mini treat bags from Party City and then tied them with ribbons for a cute little decorative look! And TA-DA! There you have our cake pops, like I mentioned yesterday, they didn’t travel well. I guess they got hot and mushy in the car. Oh well! Its the thought that counts, right?!

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The Mickey Mouse Birthday Bash

This past weekend, David and I spent some much needed time with my extended family at my grandma’s house to celebrate LOTS of February birthdays. Both my little cousins were born in February as were my Dad and my Grandma (they were actually born on the same day), so we had a busy weekend of family time, birthday parties, and cake… lots and lots of cake, or maybe just food in general. My family is big into southern cookin’ so every meal was a production, which was awesome for my tastebuds and less than awesome for my pre-wedding waistline.Although, I have to admit, I don’t regret a single bite!!!
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We even caught a  little glimpse of the winter weather, I actually got up Saturday morning to a light dusting on the ground and the snow falling ALL DAY! I thought it was going to ruin all the big plans, but we managed to man up and make it to the birthday party, SO enough about the snow, lets talk about the big event for the weekend, which was the SUPER CUTE and so well themed: The Mickey Mouse Birthday Party!!!

My two little cousins are currently OBSESSED with Mickey Mouse, and primarily Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, so the mouse was out in full force for the party! There were SO many cute homemade decorations and crafts, so naturally I loved it, and David and I even helped out by making some Mickey Mouse cake pops, they got kind of melty and squished in the car, but more on that in tomorrows post! Lets get back to the super par-tay!

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First, there was this cute little birthday sign, all Mickey Mouse-d out! I love the ears on the letters and the banners, and the shorts and the buttons, everything! Like I said, so perfectly themed!!

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Then we move on to the tables, which were also so great! The mickey heads in the pots had balloons attached to them, as no good birthday party is complete with out balloons, and I think the use of the styrofoam balls was perfect for making the centerpieces! Also, she even went as far as to make her own PLACEMATS!!! Which were also Mickey heads!

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See, soooo cute! She literally went all out! This is another reason David and I can never have children because I will spend and obscene amout of time making things for children’s birthday parties, which is probably no healthy!

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They also had this super cute and delicious mickey cake made, because, of course, the cake makes the party! So, this one was perfect for the occasion!

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ANDDD! Tadaaaaaa, these are our cake pops! Sorry, the picture is kind of blurry, you will have plenty of time to oogle them tomorrow…. pre-melt! Like I said, they did NOT travel well. And last but not least, here is our favorite part of the party:

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There was a HUGE mickey balloon for all the kids to take pictures with, so, after the crowd started to thin, David and I decided we would take a few fun pictures… and by we… I mostly mean David…

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Who wanted to pose like the Walt Disney statue at the entrance to Disney World, and I commend him for his efforts! But my favorite picture is this one of David taking a little stroll with Mickey through the birthday party. My little gentle giant!
IMG_2828Clearly they are besties! It was definitely a great weekend filled with lots of fun and excitement and eating, and family togetherness, especially with all the snow that kept us all inside all day, dreading the frozen tundra that existed outside!

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

I’m quite sure it seems like David and I are incapable of eating meat without stuffing it with some other kind of deliciousness, but that isn’t true, we just… like trying new things, and this is the new “it thing” in our kitchen right now. For a while it was balsamic glazes, or random pasta dishes, or breakfast items, so now its large pieces of stuffed meat! We made this one last weekend when my aunt was here to have dinner, the same night we made these delicious twice baked potatoes… another stuffed delicacy! It turned out pretty well. The end result was a little salty for our taste. The recipe called for salt and peppering the meat but it was stuffed with artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes, both pretty salty foods, with the salty pork soooo… the additional seasoning was a bit much and the sun dried tomatoes we bought were in a jar in some kind of olive oil so that got all in the inside when it cooked off the tomatoes, which added to the saltiness, so just beware as you’re seasoning, and prepping!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 2lbs pork tenderloin;
  • 1 egg;
  • ½ medium onion, chopped;
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped;
  • 2 large artichoke hearts, chopped;
  • ½ tsp fresh sage, finely chopped;
  • 1/8 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped;
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg;
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced;
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;

Instructions:

  1. In a medium skillet over a medium-high heat, saute the onion, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, sage, thyme, nutmeg and garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil . You can also add the olive oil that the sun-dried tomatoes come in if your are using jarred sun-dried tomatoes. This oil, provided it’s only olive oil and not another vegetable seed oil, is healthy and full of delicious spices and flavor. Saute everything for about 3 to 4 minutes, just until the onions become slightly translucent and the tomatoes and artichokes begin to become tender. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside for later use.

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  2. Place the pork tenderloin in a 9×13 baking dish, rub some cooking fat all over and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. In order to stuff the loin, create a seam in the meat by cutting it down the center lengthwise, essentially, you want to be able to unfold the meat. Set the meat aside until the stuffing has been prepared.
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  3. Preheat your oven to 450F.
  4. Turn your attention back to the stuffing. Once the ingredients from the skillet have completely cooled, whisk in an egg. The egg is essential to the stuffing, as this is what replaces the usual “breadcrumbs” and works to hold everything together. However, to make this work best, the sun-dried tomato/artichoke mixture must be cool, otherwise it will cook the egg before it is even stuffed in the meat and the egg will no longer act as a glue, since it cannot be cooked twice.Take the stuffing and begin spreading it across the seam of the meat. Avoid filling the meat too much, as you will not be able to fold the pork closed. Then roll the pork tenderloin and tie to close for baking

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  5. Cook, uncovered, at 450 F for 15 minutes.Then, reduce the heat to 300 F and cook for another 30 minutes. Next, turn off the oven, but allow the meat to remain in it for at least 10 minutes.

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Once the meat has cooled, cut into slices and serve! David did most of the cooking on this one, Were trying to get more comfortable with cooking large roasts in the oven, so that when we transition to the grill, we have some experience dealing with temperature control and cooking things all the way through, etc. This one probably cooked a lot faster than other options, because it is opened in the center so ya know, we had that going for us! But this one makes a pretty nice presentation, so all your friends will be impressed!

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Movement Mondays- To Love You More

Happy Movement Monday, dance lovers! This dance is AMAZING. And the dancer is only 13. Its kind of unreal. I love the skirt as a prop, the way she never really stops moving, how dramatic everything, the extensions, the turns, everything. Well, almost everything it tends to be spastic in places, BUUUT for every .5 seconds of spastic dancing there are like 10 more moments of sheer brilliance! I love it! Its a must watch, and you’re welcome.

What are your cravings really telling you?

My friends Chris, Katy and I, have spent a lot of time recently chatting about fitness, nutrition, getting in shape, etc. From changing what we eat to holding each other accountable for staying on the straight and narrow, I definitely feel like making this a group effort, despite how we all have different end goals has given us a place to hash out frustrations, celebrate successes, and steal ideas from each other to improve our attempts to get healthy. So, that brings me to topic of my blog today, Chris and I were talking about how easy it is to give into cravings sometimes especially when you’re feeling stressed or too lazy to do the right thing, because it isn’t always easy. While talking I remembered something I read on pinterest that I thought was really interesting. It talked about how cravings are reflective of nutrients your body is missing, and sometimes those nutrients don’t even COME from them foods that you think you want. Isn’t that the craziest thing? I think it is. I couldn’t find the cute little chart that was on pinterest, of course (which is why I am a proponent of over-pinning, because I know I will never find the pin later), but I did find this article, that listed it all out, so I made this cute little chart for you, because its much more fun to look at!

Want_Need_CravingsLike I said, I think its funny how some of this is counter intuitive. You have a lack of appetite, you should definitely eat some liver that will do the trick, cure ya right up (BLEH!). Oh you want some french fries, chomp on this broccoli instead. I don’t know but I thought about keeping this handy, not to stop the cravings by ACTUALLY eating what my body is apparently missing, but because when I think “Man a piece of chocolate would be SOOO good right now!” and then I look at this chart and see that maybe I should eat some legumes (WHATEVER THAT IS?!?!) instead, I will no longer crave said items. And THAT sounds like a rock solid plan to me. But if you are into making a change, let me know if you apply some of these changes, to improve what you’re lacking in your diet! I think it would be cool to see how your cravings change!

10 Park Lanes

This past Friday, David and I decided we were going to give up our lives of bumming around on the weekends and take the first step toward making the best of all that Charlotte has to offer, as we mentioned at the beginning of the year.

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So we decided to do a little double dating with my friend Jaque and her boyfriend and check out 10 Park Lanes in Montford.

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I know what you’re thinking. “Wow, Kristin, grandmas sat us for sure, bowling on a Friday night?” but this bowling ally was just renovated, its like this bar, and full service restaurant…

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I mean we had to wait an hour and a half to get a lane. You let me know the last time you did that at your local bowling ally? UMM never!

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But it was so much fun and totally worth the wait, just to get out and do something outside of our routine, and I was really excited to go with Jaque and Chris

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because I feel like they are our first Charlotte couple friends that we dont know from some other stage in our lives, which is really exciting, because I love meeting new people!

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I have to admit none of us are any good at bowling… after two games… the highest score between all four of us was a 107…. which David got. Salt in the wound, of course David was the best one. And I am pretty freaking terrible at bowling. I always think eeeh Im not THAT bad… but I am.. really, its kind of shameful. 
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I mean, I dont understand how we cant all be amazing at bowling, look at what exquisite form we all have. We should be fixtures atop the worlds most honored bowling trophies. Thats how legit we are. Although, everyone had lots of pointers for my technique because apparently I just kind of toss the ball down the lane, but its whatever, I still had fun! 
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We really had a lot of fun considering we were bowling next to a guy that was just there to practice for his bowling league and he was shaming all of us with this 250+ bowling score. DEPRESSING. But I was really excited to learn that they have this awesome deal on Sunday nights where its all you can bowl and your shoe rental for $14 which is an awesome deal because we paid a little over $15 a piece to bowl two sets and rent our shoes. I think we will definitely have to hit that up one Sunday because we all know how much I love a deal!