Sunday, February 28, 2016

Nalley Fresh Is A Winner!

Greg Nalley has a winner.  The chef, culinary director, and founder of Nalley Fresh, a new restaurant in Dobbin Center, at 6455 Dobbin Road, Columbia, MD, is using a tried and true assembly line-style method (see Chipotle or Blaze Pizza) of serving up "tasty, wholesome, fresh, and healthy" meals.

"Nalley Fresh is a chef-driven, all-natural, customer-designed salad, wrap, and bowl restaurant featuring homemade, specialty proteins and over 80 fresh ingredients and at least 15 international flavors.  In addition, we feature a wide range of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and paleo options, as well as choices for the kids... Express Your Inner Chef!"

To celebrate their opening, Nalley Fresh hosted a Community Day event at their store yesterday, February 27, from 12-4 p.m., to huge crowds, with a live DJ, Anna from FROZEN, and Monica Reinagel, Nalley Fresh's nutritionist, author of Secrets for a Healthy Diet, host of the Nutrition Diva podcast, and guest on the Dr. Oz show, on site, along with Greg Nalley.  And FREE FOOD!!!  What a fantastic way to bring in customers to try them out!

My daughter, Melody, and I decided to stop in and check it out.  We invited a group of friends to join us, and we arrived to a large line of customers waiting to get inside.  Our friends had arrived ahead of us, and were near the front door, so they invited us to join them (my apologies to those waiting behind us...with four young children, I didn't want our friends to have to go to the end of the line and wait all over again, and it was the only other way for us all to be together).

Despite the immense crowds inside, the staff was incredibly patient, friendly, and informative.  The young lady at the door went through the entire assembly line process, and gave us a nice overview of the menu items.  The menu is overwhelming given how many different ingredients there are from which to choose, but they also have "Nalley Signatures" with pre-selected ingredients.  But customizing can be a lot of fun, too.  First, you choose from a wrap, salad, or bowl.  Then you add a base item (arugula, romaine, spinach, or spring mix for salads/wraps, and rice, noodle, soup, or sweet potato for bowls), choice of protein (chicken, fish/salmon, tofu, pork, falafel), toppings (veggies, fruits, nuts, cheese...) and dressing.

Melody ordered the Noodle Bowl and customized it to her liking, adding mushrooms, tomatoes, chicken, carrots, black olives, parmesan cheese, cucumbers, romaine, and corn.  I ordered a "Blue Collar" wrap with blackened chicken, and the pre-selected items that included brown rice, black beans, spinach, tomato, purple slaw, pretzel shells, egg, bacon, corn, provolone, and spicy ranch dressing, all on a wheat wrap.

My friends got a bunch of kid's menu items, including the quesadilla and mac and cheese, and the staff could not have been more accommodating and helpful.  And friendly.  I'm just so impressed by the friendly staff.  Mr. Greg Nalley himself was present and running around greeting everyone (and he went relatively easy on me for wearing my Steelers jacket).  With apologies, can I say how much he reminds me of a mad scientist?  Think of a combination of Dr. Clayton Forrester and TV's Frank from Mystery Science Theater 3000:

©2016 Nalley Fresh. All Rights Reserved.
Turkey Day, an 'MST3K' tradition

We really had a great time, and the food was especially delicious.  Melody loved her noodle bowl, and I might try customizing one of the menu items next time (though the Greg Nalley creation I had was really good!).

Please check out Nalley Fresh!  They are definitely worth a visit.  Tell Mr. Nalley that a Steelers fan sent you!  They will be a regular stop for us.

Have a great Sunday, everyone!  


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Nalley Fresh Community Day TODAY - Saturday, 2/27, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

From my inbox...

You've probably heard by now, Nalley Fresh is opening one of their restaurants in Howard County! Come see for yourself, experience for yourself and taste for yourself, the unique, delicious Nalley Fresh way to design your own healthy meal. For FREE. Yes, Free! 

On Saturday, February 27th, from 12-4 p.m., Nalley Fresh is having a Community Day to celebrate their new restaurant in Dobbin Center, over by Performance Bicycle and Panera Bread ... where the Walmart is. At this Community Day you can meet Greg Nalley, the founder and culinary director (and prior founder of the iconic Harvest Table restaurant in Baltimore), and Monica Reinagel, Nalley Fresh's nutritionist, author of Secrets for a Healthy Diet (and other books), host of the Nutrition Diva podcast and guest on The Dr. Oz show. Both Monica and Greg will be available to answer questions and help you build a tasty, wholesome, fresh and healthy meal. (You may even want to take a sneak peak at Nalley Fresh's real-time nutrition calculator. It's pretty neat!)
The Community Day is a kid-friendly event, and Nalley Fresh is a kid-friendly restaurant and a great place for kids to "pick and point" their way to a healthy meal. With three kids of his own, founder Greg Nalley knows the importance of encouraging kids to eat healthy, seasonal, nutrient-dense meals.
So on Saturday, February 27th, whether you're out running errands, lounging around the house and need to get out, or simply curious to know more about this new restaurant concept, come on by from 12-4 pm for a free meal as you experience the Nalley Fresh difference.
See you there! Bring a friend ... or two!
Nalley Fresh is located at 6455 Dobbin Rd Unit 45 Columbia, MD 21045, near Performance Bicycles and Panera Bread, where the Walmart is.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

My Favorite Blogs

There are a bunch of blogs that I link to from this site that I never miss reading, and really are worth reading, so please check them out!  In no particular order...

The Blessed Chaos of Family - This is the blog that inspired me to write my blog regularly.

Mr. Garner Goes to Washington - The adventures and thoughts of a Mississippi boy living in the Washington-Baltimore area.

Sean's Ramblings - Thoughts and comments by a guy named Sean.

Ya Jagoff! - Calling out the Jagoffs that make the rest of us look bad.

That's Church - Pittsburgh.  Only cooler.

Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke? - Pittsburgh Pirates news

Atlas Obscura - Stuff from around the world

Terrapin Tales - From the University of Maryland archives

Roadside America - Your online guide to offbeat tourist attractions

Amusing Planet - Stuff from around the world

Ask The Pilot - All things air travel

Theme Park Insider - All about theme parks

Coaster 101 - All about roller coasters

BGW Fans - Busch Gardens Williamsburg fan site

The Coaster Guy - All about roller coasters

CoasterForce - All about roller coasters

Amusement Parks Blog - All about amusement parks

Busch Gardens VA Blog - Official Busch Gardens blog

Snack Girl - Blog about eating healthy

For The Love of Pizza - A blog for pizza lovers, by a pizza lover - Never eat a bad slice again.

Pizza Quixote - Seeks destination pizza that is worth the trip.

The Yaug Blog - Husband, Dad, Pastor, and best of all...saved by grace!

Storyline - Author Donald Miller

Six Until Me - "Diabetes doesn't define me, but it helps explain me."

BonneVivanteLife - "Show me how big your Brave is."

The Unmanly Chef - Where unmanliness meets cooking

Uncle John's Bathroom Reader - Yes, bathroom reader...

The Adventures of Tom & Atticus - A man and his dog, in New Hampshire

My Friend Amy - "My name is Amy, and yes, I'm your friend!"

Writing Ruth - My friend...

1966 My Favorite Year - A celebration of the greatest pop culture year of the 20th Century

By Ken Levine - The world as seen by a TV Comedy writer

DC Film Girl - Movie reviews and interviews from Washington

Satellite News - The Official Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan site

MST3K News & RiffTrax Report - Mystery Science Theater on RiffTrax!

The Good, The Bad, and Godzilla - Comics, News, and Opinion by August Ragone

J.M. DeMatteis's Creation Point - Semi-regular musings by the semi-regular mind of writer J.M. DeMatteis

Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing - Comic book reviews and other good stuff

Not A Hoax! Not A Dream! - A blog discerningly dedicated to discussing classic comics...

Christ, Coffee, and Comics - Reflections on comic books and theology by a Greek Orthodox Priest

Have a great evening, everyone!

Saturday, February 20, 2016


I woke up this morning to some disturbing news:  Heath Miller, long-time star Tight End for the Pittsburgh Steelers, announced his retirement.  To understand why this is disturbing to me is to try to explain a cultural shift in the landscape of sports.

Sports, especially at the professional level, have become entertainment to a ridiculous degree.  It used to be sport; athletic events between individuals or teams where the meaning of sportsmanship took center stage.  At the team level, unselfish cooperation for the good of the team to achieve victory was paramount.  In recent years, over the past few decades, it seems that teamwork is not the priority for most players, and individual achievement is more important.  I'm not sure when exactly that changed, but it has diminished sports and destroyed much of the character that was so integral to athletic contests.

One of the last great unselfish players for the Steelers, Heath Miller achieved a great number of accomplishments, holding numerous receiving records for the team, and he did it without drawing any national attention.  He did his job, and did it well, without the notoriety others in the National Football League received because they were flashier, more out-spoken, or played in larger markets.  In a sport where popularity is fueled by image, Heath Miller was boring.  And that's why he was so loved by the city that adopted him:  Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh loves its athletes who don't act selfish, who put team before ego, and act like they've been there and done that before, players who show character and who do their jobs without complaint.  Heath Miller fit this mold to a T.  And that's why the fans loved him, and why there is such an outpouring of emotion over his announcement to retire.  He was one of only four active Steelers from the last two Super Bowl teams, and while Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison may be bigger names, Heath Miller will always be loved by his adoptive city because he never drew attention to himself.  He was a good dude.

I have several Steelers jerseys:  a black Big Ben #7, a yellow and a black Troy Polamalu #43, an old black Jack Lambert #58, and a white Heath Miller #83.  I never wear the #7 because of the poor image and notoriety of Ben, the individual.  I received it as a gift, but I couldn't support him after the character issues that surrounded him over his treatment of women.  He's married and a family man now, and I hope he's changed, but it hasn't made him well liked.  Troy was possibly one of the greatest players who ever played for the Steelers.  Jack Lambert was a tough guy who played on the great Super Steeler's teams of the 70s.  But it was Heath who showed the high character and integrity that made him so beloved to his fans.  And I'll be proud to always wear it.

His desire to retire after 11 years of playing was mostly due to his family, and I respect him even more to step away from the game and devote his time to his kids.  He leaves behind a great void.  There's no one who can replace him.  And it remains to be seen if the fans will still yell Heeeeath after a tight end makes a catch for the Steelers.  It won't be Heath, unfortunately.  Well done, Mr. Miller.  Best wishes on your retirement.


Have a great evening, everyone.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Journey of a Lifetime

I found myself reminiscing tonight about my first big cross-country road trip, which I went on all by myself back in 1997.  Even at age 28, my parents were concerned about me taking the trip solo, and they had tried to talk me out of going.  But I had been planning the trip for almost a year, and I was committed to taking it.

I let my cousin/housemate, Dan, know I would be gone for two weeks (he let me borrow his camera, which was pretty decent compared to my cheap point-and-shoot (this was before digital cameras), and I had to make a quick trip to the store to buy a bunch of film).  After work the next day, a Thursday, I rushed home, finished packing, and took off.  

I felt great! I was so excited to head off to points unknown.  I would be traveling farther west than I had ever been before, and I could barely fathom what I was going to see.

I made arrangements to stay at my aunt & uncle's place in Uniontown (they were out of town, but had given me a key the last time I had visited them), and I arrived late that evening.  All I needed was a place to rest my head for a few hours, because I planned to be on the road the next morning before dawn.

I remember the alarm going off, earlier than I normally got up, and being so wired!  I quickly got ready and hit the road well before 6 a.m.  I knew my route, even if I'd never driven it before, because I'd been studying it for months.  I knew just about every turn the whole way West.

As I crested one of the mountain ridges in West Virginia, with the sky turning bluer with each passing mile, I saw the sun come up over the horizon.  And I got chills.  It's so hard for me to put into words the feeling I got as I realized that, right there, God was making himself known to me.  I had prayed a lot before the trip, mostly for safety and health, but there He was, in the brightness of the sunlight.  As it enveloped my entire line of vision, I felt so fulfilled, and the excitement that had been building over the past few months as I planned this journey began to impact me in a way I didn't expect:  I started to tear up.  Very briefly, I thought of how ridiculous it was to be reacting this way, but a peace and relaxation came over me and I suddenly felt calm.  And as I coasted down the mountain, I thought to myself, "This is going to be a great trip...I've got the Lord riding with me."

And so it went.  And I found myself talking to God the whole journey.  I'm sure I looked crazy to passersby, but it was great.  And I had the best trip of my life.  The first of many best trips of my life.

Have a great evening, everyone!

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Today is Valentine's Day.  I don't have anyone to celebrate with, since the day is really all about romantic love, but I always get my wonderful daughter, Melody, something as a nice little way to tell her I love her.  Today, it was a giant brownie with icing and a Happy Valentine's Day message.  I also got her a GIGANTIC card.  It also meant that I could have a little bit of her brownie, which is one of my favorite desserts.  Don't tell her I had some...I had to sneak it.

During my short married life, my wife, Teresa, and I celebrated Valentine's Day in the requisite way, but I intentionally proposed marriage to her on February 13 so we would have that as our own little day of romance and remembrance each year.  I loved sending flowers to her at the school she worked at on the day before Valentine's Day, before everyone else got theirs.  She loved it and I hoped she would feel special.  Including the day after our engagement, which was our first Valentine's Day together, we had five more before her death and homegoing.  Since then, I've only ever dated over Valentine's Day one other time, and that was with a young lady I dated several years ago.  In fact, Valentine's Day ended up being our last date before we broke up, so the day doesn't have a whole lot of special meaning for me, given that the break up did not go well.

As today rolled around, I was thinking about love.  The Bible speaks about three different kinds of love, and uses the Greek words for them.  There are actually four different Greek meanings for love.  They are:

  • Eros - this word refers to sexual love, and is named for the Greek god of love.  It is not found in the New Testament.
  • Storge - this word refers to familial love, and is more of a natural affection between kinfolk.
  • Phileo - this refers to friendship, and the deep affection that develops due to strong sentiment and fondness.
  • Agape - this word appears the most in the Bible, and it refers to God's love, or a love that comes from a moral goodwill.  This is unconditional love.  It is captured wonderfully in the verse in John 13: 34-35 - "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
We are so fortunate to have Agape love from the Lord, and because He commanded us to love one another, that should be our goal, to love one another unconditionally.

Eros love is a rather selfish kind of love, and is what is cultivated from our attraction to someone else.  My wife and I experienced eros for each other, but it was joined by the phileo, as well as agape, as our relationship deepened.  Real love has to be a combination of the different kinds of love in order to make for a healthy relationship.

Phileo is actually defined by a "give-and-take" kind of relationship, which makes it sound more shallow than I think it should be.  If only one side is experiencing this phileo, then it may not last very long.  A healthy friendship is going to be the combination of phileo and agape.  Those types of relationships are special and should be cherished.  I feel very honored and appreciative of these relationships, as they involve a great deal of trust and understanding, and they result in very deep and meaningful conversation and correspondence.

So on this Valentine's Day, I hope you are able to experience some of these different types of love, though you should know that God's love for us trumps all others.  If you don't have a relationship with Him, he is waiting for you, and offers it to you unconditionally, if you only let him into your heart.

Have a great evening, everyone!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Death of a Grill

We lost George Foreman in a horribly unfortunate tragic accident last evening.  "He" was preparing to cook dinner for my daughter and me, but a short time before that occurred, he was sitting precariously on his perch on top of our Refrigerator.  My daughter had just helped herself to a snack from the Fridge, and closing the door caused it to vibrate just enough that poor George slipped off and came crashing down onto the kitchen floor, shattering his protective shell and breaking his spine, exposing his innards, and effectively killing him.  We're now in a period of mourning.  We're also hungry.

Mr. Foreman joined our family about six weeks ago, on Christmas morning.  He was a welcome addition and quickly enamored himself to the other kitchen appliances with his quick-cooking ability mixed with quality results, bringing rarely seen juiciness and flavor to both hamburgers and poultry.  The Range, in particular, took him under his oven door wing, much like a father guiding his son.  While the Microwave exhibited jealousy, the Dishwasher was pleased that fewer pots and pans needed to be washed due to George's efficiency.  George was accepted with honor by the small appliance gang, joining the Crock Pots and the Toaster Oven on top of the Refrigerator.  Following George's death, the Fridge fell into deep mourning, blaming himself for George's accident.

Mr. Foreman is survived by the Range, the Microwave, the Refrigerator, the Dishwasher, the Crock Pot, the larger Crock Pot, the Toaster, the Toaster Oven (no relation), the Blender, the Keurig, the Hot Dog Toaster, the Iced Tea Maker, Faithful Pup Scout, daughter Melody, and me.

Services were held minutes after the accident, and burial in the kitchen trashcan followed immediately.  Donations in lieu of flowers may be given to the Small Appliance Fund, c/o The Blog.

Have a great evening, everyone.  Rest In Pieces, George Foreman Grill.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


I found myself teleworking again today due to the snow that hit the area late last night and much of today.  I'm not really a big fan of telework. I feel like I get more work done when I'm in the office than sitting at home, and I guess I kind of miss the camaraderie despite my introverted nature.  That said, teleworking does have some advantages, such as not having to grab a shower, wearing sweats all day, and avoiding rush hour traffic.  There's so much technology that allows us to connect to the office, through email, phone bridges, and the cloud, among other things.  At one point, I had my work laptop, iPad, Blackberry, personal laptop, iPhone, and TV all tuned in and connected in some way, and I had to laugh.  Has it really come to this?  Do we really need so many devices in our lives?

Anyway, my daughter, whose school was cancelled due to the weather, and who had her own devices all turned on (her laptop, iPhone, Kindle, TV, and Wii), took the picture above from her perch at the table she uses as her desk, behind me. I found it amusing.

I hope we're all back to normal tomorrow.   Being home on a snow day is too much work!  

Have a great evening, everyone!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Super Bowl For The Dogs

What a lousy Super Bowl! At least Faithful Pup Scout is enjoying it.  Though I think we're all going to have nightmares about "puppy monkey baby..."

Have a super Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Snow Tubing and Gettysburg

Sweet Daughter Melody and I went on another road trip and blah blah blah blah blah...  Now we're home.  We had a blast.

Snow tubing at Whitetail Resort...

Visiting the Gettysburg National Military Park...

Me and the 16th President (I'm on the right)...

Lunch at the Dobbin House Tavern (built in 1776) in Gettysburg, PA...

This really cool portrait of Abraham Lincoln, our greatest President...

The extraordinary Frederick Douglass...

And Mister Ed's Elephant Museum...

Have a wonderful evening, everyone!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Six-Word Memoirs

I found this great book at my favorite discount book store, Daedalus Books, in Columbia, MD.  It is hilarious!  Here are a few quotes:

"Magnetic attraction fused two polar opposites."

"What once were two, are one."

"Offered my heart. She embraced it."

"Not always perfect, but so worthwhile."

"Married by Elvis. Divorced by Friday."

"Longed for opportunity...then you knocked."

Good stuff!

Have a great evening, everyone!