Mountain Match Play

by Jenn (eating bender) on April 15, 2014

March madness has given way to absurd April! I’ve been juggling a lot of work deadlines during the first couple weeks of the month, but a bit of a breather could maybe – hopefully – be in sight, at least for the upcoming holiday weekend.


It hasn’t been all work, no play, though! The first weekend in April brought with it our fourth annual mother-daughter golf tournament, and I’m happy to report that we took second place in our flight this year. The style was a bit different this time around: we played in nine-hole matches against five other teams over a period of three days. Winning a hole earned two points, while a tie earned one point. At the end of the match, the team who had won the most holes received an extra two bonus points – or, if you tied in total holes won, you each received one bonus point.


On the first day out at Apache, Mama B. and I ended up tying our first match. She can easily take full responsibility for keeping us in that one because I was not playing my best (to say the least), and she ended up with a 36! We both birdied the last hole, though, which boosted my confidence for the second match. It ended up being another nail biter, but we managed to win by one on the very last hole. We finished the day in second place with 22 points, four points behind the top spot.


We were scheduled to play the leaders in our morning match at Renegade on the second day. It quickly became evident that they were going to be a tough one to beat, and we ultimately lost on the last hole. Our afternoon match was equally challenging, but with a few key putts things began to swing (pun not intended, but gladly accepted) in our favor. We ultimately won the match by four holes, giving us the points total we needed to keep our second place spot.

The leaders won their afternoon match, as well, giving them a sizable advantage of 52 points to our 45. Third place was also not far behind with 43 points. But really, it was anyone’s game. A lot of things needed to happen for us to have a chance at winning, so at that point we decided to enjoy the ride, get a good night’s sleep and play as well as we could the next day at Cochise.


With nine holes left to play, we tried to have as much fun as possible amidst the nerves! Ultimately, our final competitors bested us on the second to last hole. But fortunately, I birdied the final par-3 to narrow the points differential just enough to keep us in the second place spot. Phew!

It was a competitive three days, to be sure, but more importantly Mama B. and I had the chance to spend another weekend together playing the sport we love, with some amazing shots and highlights from each match. As usual, we “ham-and-egged” it – just goes to show that we make a good team.

There were some great meals to be had throughout the event, as well! My favorite hands down was a lunch of tomato basil soup with a side of grilled cheese – why don’t I make that at home more often? I also piled my plate with some spinach and veggies, topping everything with feta cheese and white French dressing. So good.


The self-serve dessert platter was also a highlight. Mama Bender and I grabbed one of everything to share. Cannoli, raspberry chocolate goodies and key lime cheesecake? Don’t mind if we do.


Big thanks to Mama B. for choosing me as her partner for another year. Let’s keep the streak going!

What are you up to this week?




March Madness

by Jenn (eating bender) on March 27, 2014

The past 27 days have been a blur – seriously, what happened to March?! Fortunately it was full of the good stuff, including plenty of time with family and friends.

Following our trip to Chicago, I had the chance to travel to San Diego for a work conference. But we all know that there is a lot more to San Diego than work…


Having the chance to see Cara, Jim and the nieces pieces (Dublin included) was so awesome. Kelly and Caroline showed me their new superhero outfits – I especially appreciated Superniece’s polka dot hat and Batniece’s pink tutu. They’ve got impeccable style.


We spent the morning of our day o’ fun at the botanic gardens, where Caroline fed her inner artist and Kelly created an entire storyline for a family of dinosaurs.



The girls also had fun climbing around inside a giant tree house, but I’m going to go out on a “limb” and say that the stream was by far their favorite activity. Perfect for splashing!



We followed up our botanic excursion with a great lunch and trip to the library, where the girls needed to take some time to do their “homework” on the computers – yep, they are almost three but going on 13 these days. :)


We ended the evening with a bit of baking – and cookie cutting!



Between learning a few new songs in Spanish (the girls are taking classes) and playing countless games of Ring Around the Rosy (lento y rápido), this aunt had a blast.


Can’t wait to hang out with you all again soon! The work conference – a social intranet summit – was also enjoyable. Several of the speakers were interesting, and it was a great opportunity to catch up with my colleagues, who flew in from Chicago.


The weekend after I returned home was packed with excitement. On Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early to meet my friend and neighbor, Milene, to run the Kiss Me I’m Irish 8K!


Milene and I have been running together on weekends, and when she mentioned she was interested in taking on her first race, the Irish run seemed like the perfect opportunity. We ended up crossing the finish line in 0:48:28, which was worthy of a celebration and green beer for all!


I also had the opportunity to try my first red velvet bite of Nothing Bundt Cake. I would now like to try every single flavor they have, please. It was ridiculously rich and fantastic.


After the race, I met up with Bobby, our college friend Atanas and Atanas’ girlfriend, Della, who were visiting us for the weekend from Boston. They both were up for as many hikes as possible over the next few days, and we started them out with a doozy: the summit trail at Piestewa Peak!


As you may have gathered from the photo, this trail is rocky. Really rocky. The climb is well worth it, though, because the view from 2,700 feet up is amazing.


And if those views don’t do it for you, the next day we took a road trip to Sedona-hhhh.


We began with lunch at ChocolaTree, which I remembered from a past trip to Sedona with Jill. I started out with a hot chocolate, which was made with Ecuadorian cacao, almond milk and maple syrup. It definitely didn’t taste like it came from a packet – very unique and delicious.


Bobby and I also shared an order of banana bread, which came with almond butter spread.


And for lunch, I had the Viva Burrito, which also hit the spot.


Once we were adequately fueled, we explored the red rocks via Broken Arrow trail.


It’s impossible to hold back oohs and ahhs when beauty like this surrounds you on all sides.


When we reached the turnaround point, we asked a fellow hiker whether we were close to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, one of the most iconic sites in the area. Turns out, we were only about a mile away, so we decided to venture a bit farther and see it for ourselves. It was gorgeous!


We drove back to Phoenix thoroughly happy with – and exhausted by – our adventures. Thanks for an active weekend, Atanas and Della!

A few days later, I donned a temporary tattoo in honor of the Divergent movie premiere!


Sarah, Crystal, Nicole, Emily, Sheena and I – as well as a few husbands – finally had a chance to see the film we’ve been going crazy over for months…and it was incredible! The actors were perfect for their roles, the movie did the book justice (for the most part) and it was SO COOL to see dystopian Chicago. I kept nudging Bobby when I’d spot something familiar – including our old apartment! One of the major scenes in the movie was filmed two blocks away, just a few months after we moved. I have a tendency to lament this fact every time I talk about the movie. My chance to be an extra (or more likely, get removed from the set by security) was so close, yet so far. ;)

But I digress. Bottom line: the movie was everything we hoped it’d be. Can’t wait to see it again!

Our March madness continued into the weekend. On Friday and Saturday we had the chance to hang out and play golf with Annie and Jono. And on Sunday, we spent time with our high school friend, Nick, and his girlfriend, Kerry, who were in town for a wedding.

The hike of choice this time: Echo Canyon Summit Trail at Camelback Mountain.


I honestly had no idea what we were getting into with this one. Our biggest takeaway was that it’s about time we invested in proper hiking shoes because otherwise, it’s not easy to climb up and over these rocks – and I mean that quite literally. I may or may not have been hanging on to the railing for dear life on the way down after I slipped on a particularly smooth surface.


But we still made it, and have the picture to prove it. Another 2,700 feet conquered!


I think it’s safe to say we’re accomplishing our goal of seeing more of Arizona in 2014. Big thanks to the visitors who are helping us make that happen! It’s been so nice to hang out with all of you.

This week we’re welcoming visitors of another variety – and this family is a real hoot. :)


What have you been up to lately?




Sartori Cheese Review + Giveaway

March 21, 2014

As a member of a large family of cheeseheads and Packers fans, it was a no brainer when Hannah reached out to me on behalf of Sartori Cheese and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing a few samples. The fourth-generation, family owned and operated company out of Plymouth, Wisconsin has a great story and a farm-to-fork philosophy, using […]

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Six Years Later

March 16, 2014

Source Today marks the 2,191st day that I have been blogging on Eating Bender. Six years and 913 posts later, it still amazes me that a pretty lame post about baby kiwi written anonymously from a college student’s apartment could kickstart a journey that has lasted nearly a quarter of my life. A journey that has […]

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A Pinterest-ing Weekend in Chicago

March 7, 2014

Yep – we did it again. To say this has been a busy couple of weeks would be an understatement. I’ve taken on several new freelance projects, and while I’m really enjoying the work, the days are flying by faster than ever. It hasn’t been all work, though. Last weekend I had the chance to […]

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Two Pairs Of Socks

February 27, 2014

Why do golfers wear two pairs of socks? In case they get a hole in one! (Cheesiest joke ever to be told on here? I make no promises.) It took nearly 27 years and what I would estimate to be thousands of attempts, but last Saturday the big “one” finally happened for me, and it was […]

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Happenings (vii)

February 19, 2014

1. Breaking news: I finally tried a new recipe last week! Though I am certain you aren’t sitting at the edge of your seat anticipating recipe posts these days, it was refreshing to change things up. Mama Bender had once made this Pistachio-Crusted Chicken, and it was so good that I had to try it […]

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Books in Review: January

February 8, 2014

Since I have a fictional page goal this year, I thought it might be fun to do a monthly roundup of the books I’ve read as a way of checking in. Some books – as in anything by Rainbow Rowell – may get separate review posts, but this method will ensure I at least mention […]

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