My Weekend in AZ: A Novel

This past weekend, I flew across the country to visit my best friend, Rachel. If you read my study abroad post, you’ll know that she was one of my randomly assigned roommates during my semester in Barcelona. I use the word “random” loosely, because not one ounce of me believes it really was.

Anyway, enough of the friendship sap. I was super excited not only to see Rachel but also to see Arizona – I had never been! It is certainly unlike any other place I’ve traveled to. Rachel made fun of me for getting excited about seeing so many cacti. But hey, it’s the little things, right?

IMG_0274.jpg

Patio at The Henry. Couldn’t clear out the patio to take an ideal picture, unfortunately

On our first full day, we ate at The Henry in Phoenix. It was such a cool restaurant – everything from the decor to the hostess made you feel like a chic VIP. I was so excited to eat outside on the gorgeous patio – a meal outside in January?! The funniest part was that they had heat lamps on all over the patio – it was in the 60’s. But I’m still a cold weather wimp, so I was down with it after my initial chuckle. I had an amazing kale salad and some brie toast. Which fueled me up for part two of our day…

Nordstrom Last Chance. I actually hadn’t heard of this until I started researching AZ right before I got there. The store is the final home for returned and overstocked merchandise from Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. We’re talking dirt cheap – and I’m very frugal! It may sound silly that this was my first event when I had flown six hours across the country, but this is me we’re talking about. Rachel tried to prepare me for the mayhem on our way, but this is one of those things you have to experience to fully understand. Within three minutes of being in the store I told her I wished I had taken a Xanax.

IMG_0275

That front bag is all shoes

This was a random Friday afternoon, yet I could barely navigate around without bumping into other shoppers. Grown women were sitting in the middle of the aisles to hoard merchandise and try on shoes. Rachel had to spend several minutes maneuvering her (ok, my) cart around a woman that refused to get up. She lugged around that cart the whole time like a pro while I narrated the experience and how overwhelmed I was. Now that is friendship.

I wasn’t quite as successful with the clothes and accessories as I had been with the shoes. If getting a cheap purse requires me to arm wrestle middle-aged women while riffling through tiny baskets surrounded by people, I think I’m good with full price. Ok, at least mid-price. The clothing was much less cutthroat, but there wasn’t a lot of it in the most common sizes, of course.

The dressing room line was very long, but we eventually made our way to the front. I assumed we would be guided into a room, but the attendant was offering space in the “open dressing room.” Rachel, bold as always, went right in, but the mere idea of stripping down in a large mirror surrounded by a bunch of strangers was enough to make me wait. Until time kept going by… and Rachel came out… and I was still waiting for a private room. She convinced me that it wasn’t so bad, so I put my big girl pants on – or should I say took them off – and stepped in there. Guess what? I made a dressing room friend in there! She gave me some brutal honesty when it came time to try on this ethereal Free People dress. I wanted to love it, but I wasn’t pulling it off. I was tempted to buy it anyway because of the price, but new-dressing-room-friend knocked some sense into me.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Topshop wedges for $10. They deserved a good home

Then came time to be those annoying people sitting on the floor mulling over our options. At least we chose a corner out of the way. I had somehow acquired five pairs of shoes. Mostly wedges, aka the biggest space-taker-uppers. My suitcase was basically full on the way, so I was freaking out about how I was going to fit them. But they were such good deals! Rachel convinced me that this was my last chance (ha, get it?) to get these kind of deals. So yes, I bought all five. Plus two pairs of jeans and a dress. Sue me, ok?

Since I know my parents are currently reading this and about to dial me up on the phone to lecture me about my shopaholic habits, I will reveal the astounding total of all of these items: $114.00! Ok, and a decent amount of tax, but you can’t nickel-and-dime a once in a lifetime opportunity, people.

(Spoiler alert: Rachel and I dedicated a chunk of my last day to rearranging my suitcase to try and fit the new shoes… plus the five pairs I had brought with me in the first place. Yes, ten pairs of shoes for four days. Whatever. Anyway, we fit almost all of them in! Then she came in clutch with a huge Lululemon bag that she was going to throw out anyway. The remaining wedges went in there and I took that as my carry-on. Take that, air travel!)

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Heaven is for sure filled with pancake flights

Now that I’ve dedicated seven paragraphs of this post to Last Chance, I’ll move on. That evening, we went to a cool indoor/outdoor bar called Wasted Grain. Even though there were lots of cute Arizona boys, I told Rachel I hoped no males approached the table. Hi, I’m Haley, and I’m as antisocial as it gets. Apparently my detached vibes didn’t work that well, though, because one of her coworkers tried to buy me a drink. I never accept drinks from guys because A) I feel bad, B) I can buy my own and C) I never want to feel like I owe someone something. Mostly A, honestly. So I politely (or so I thought) declined. The guy was so insulted! All the girls at the table told me that you’re supposed to say yes or it’ll hurt their feelings. Lesson learned. Just kidding, I’ll probably say no next time, too.

While her coworkers went out, Rachel and I stayed true to our grandmotherly selves and watched Harry Potter on the couch with mediterranean takeout. It worked out perfectly, because we were well-rested enough for a decadent brunch at Snooze the next morning. 😉 This place has a thing called a pancake flight. Yes, like a beer flight, but with pancakes. Hello, heaven.

 

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

These boots weren’t made for walkin’

After more Netflix-and-chilling (but actually) that day, we reluctantly prepared to go to a club that night. Rachel had been telling me for weeks how crazy the club scene in Scottsdale gets, but I guess I just assumed I’d be prepared since I went to school in Miami. Um, not really. The group of us were invited to sit at some guy’s table, so obviously we said yes – not because free drinks, but because sitting. In heels. Thank you, club gods. Anyway, they proceeded to pass around a bag of cocaine and ask if we wanted some. I literally grabbed it not knowing what it was at first and waved it around saying “OMG I wouldn’t even know what to do with this!” and one of them stopped me and reminded me that you can’t really wave around baggies of cocaine in public, even when you’re doing it in innocent outrage and confusion. Another lesson learned.

 

The next day, after our hungover stomaches had gotten down some breakfast burritos (#fitfam) we took a walk around Old Town Scottsdale. This was a Sunday afternoon, mind you. Yet there were groups of drunken young adults traveling around the streets in golf carts from one club/bar to the next. My old soul and aching head looked at Rachel in disgust, and she clarified that no, this was not because Monday was a holiday. This happens every weekend. Scottsdale, you have not ceased to amaze me.

 

IMG_0422.jpg

Not a real tattoo. Was just feelin’ the nature vibes

On Monday, my last day, we decided to finally be active and go for a hike at Pinnacle Peak. It looked super daunting, especially because I had never been on a real hike, but thankfully it was easy. We really did it for the ‘gram anyway, so we got all we went for. In all seriousness, though, it was really beautiful. I wish the climate in New England allowed hiking/walking/breathing outdoors to be a thing. I’d probably be much more fit! (Maybe.)

We had dinner at a Mexican place called Blanco, which had an awesome happy hour. We capped off the night with ice cream sundaes (duh) at Sugar Bowl, an old-school ice cream parlor decked out in pink booths. Now that’s my kind of late night scene.

So now that I’ve given you a play-by-play of every step I took on my trip, I’ll let you go. If you ever find yourself in the Scottsdale area, I hope this helps you enjoy your trip to the fullest! And if not, I hope you at least got a chuckle out of it.

Colorfully Yours,

Haley

 

 

 

 

 

It Takes Two…Ingredients!

Carbs are my weakness. As a kid, I always had a sweet tooth and a soft spot for all things carbohydrate filled. But I swear it became exponentially worse once I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in my teens. I’m not sure whether it’s the fact that I have to pay so much attention to every carb that enters my mouth or whether it’s that my overly sweet blood literally craves carbs. Either way, I am a carboholic. Although I generally don’t discriminate against any type of carb, there is one in particular that I have never been able to resist.

Pancakes.

It’s funny, because no one in my family likes them. Both my parents and my brothers would rather have some sort of eggy, bacony mixture. But me? I always go for the fluffy, sweet goodness.

Not bad for a rookie, right?

I much prefer pancakes from a restaurant because a) they’re fluffier b) they’re prettier and c) I guess I’m a brat. I also don’t particularly like plain, buttermilk pancakes. Chocolate chip or bust. But the carb count on restaurant pancakes is enough to make a diabetic cry. Given my high pancake standards, I never ever thought I would be satisfied by a pancake made with two ingredients – much less when neither of those ingredients is flour.

Spoiler alert: they were awesome.

I don’t have a particular source to cite because this “recipe” is everywhere, so I’ll just give you the lowdown here.

Ingredients:

1 banana

2 eggs

That. Is. It. WTF?

Directions:

1) Mash the banana in a bowl. Add in the two eggs and whisk.

2) Grease or spray a small/medium-sized pan. I used coconut oil because I’ve been wanting to test it out.

3) Heat the pan.

{This is where it gets tricky if you have as few cooking-related brain cells as I do. I didn’t realize gas stoves had different effects than electric. So I followed one of the tips I had seen in my Pinterest search, which called for cooking the pancakes just below medium. Good thing my mom intervened before I used all the batter and informed me that I needed to put it much lower for a gas stove. Why can’t there be one universal standard? Way to confuse me, people.}

4) Pour a small amount of the batter into the pan. One recipe called for a silver-dollar size, but I did mine a bit bigger.

5) Keep a close eye on them, because they don’t take long to cook. I would estimate that I waited about 45 seconds before flipping.

6) Ta-da! I topped my stack with a dollop of Cool Whip and a few blueberries.

The pancakes will come out very light in texture. A good guideline is that you should not need to cut them – they’ll be sort of flimsy.

In my opinion, you don’t need syrup or anything super sweet like that because the flavor of the banana really comes through. And if I think something is sweet enough, you should probably take my word for it.

These would be great with some cinnamon or even peanut butter if you want to get crazy and add a third ingredient. Don’t overwork yourself, though. 😉

A little side note – I’ve never actually “made” a pancake before in my life. I’ve made plenty of pancake batters from scratch, but I’ve never actually done the stove part. I’m so inept with the stove that I’ve always had my mom do that part. I’m an embarrassment, I know. BUT, I did it today! I had one mishap when flipping the third pancake and had to toss it, but for the most part I think I nailed it.

I mean, look at my presentation. Not bad for a first timer, huh?

Now for the final verdict. Ok, so they’re not IHOP style. The consistency is a bit different from a typical pancake. But you would have no idea these were made with egg and no flour. The taste is surprisingly strong and sweet. Plus, you don’t feel like you want to hibernate until next week like you do post-IHOP. I was pleasantly surprised overall, and I would make them again in a heartbeat! Deeelish.