Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'm Baaaack!!!!

Geez...it feels like I have been back in Texas forever. And yet, after a whole week back, I still haven't quite managed to get going again. Disruptions to my schedule are always a dangerous thing. I start spending inordinate amounts of time on the computer, sleeping in waaay too late, and generally being a lazy bum. However, I'm starting to finally come around and get myself moving again. Making myself get up at 6:30am has been the most difficult part of transitioning back, but the longer days that result are well worth it! I've already finished a 2-mile run, 40 minutes of pilates, a video project, and now I'm uploading pics and wrapping up other loose ends on my to-do list. Ahh, the joys of a productive Saturday!! :)

Alright, enough about my scheduling habits. This past week has been a whirlwind, so I'm just going to share highlights. Thankfully, the trip back to Texas went smoothly (at least for me - AnnaGrace got delayed again!!). I sat by an adorable old man on my flight to Memphis, who shared with me all the details about how computer chips are made, how plane wings works, and air travel navigation. :)

On Wednesday, I had to make a trip down to Waco to get something from the condo. It was weird making the drive...especially considering I don't have to be done there for another month and a half at least!! While we were there, AnnaGrace and I had lunch with Sara at George's. Their Southbound fries are the best!!! They are what originally got me interested in creating a french fry recipe. Unfortunately, I have yet to come close to their winning seasoning!!

We drove into Dallas on Thursday to see Erin again, and met her friend Sarah, who just finished law school! It was really awesome to talk to her about what she is doing, and get some advice. I feel like a sponge - I'm trying to soak up as much advice as I can, and then filter it all through my goals and priorities. It's tough work, but I'm hoping it pays off!! I guess we'll have to wait to find out...

Since the weather has been soo hot, I've been doing very little running. Even if I'm out the door around 8:30am, the humidity is so awful, my body feels like concrete by mile 2. Thus, my workout schedule has changed into doing lots of pilates, with the occasional run when I whip up the nerve. I've also accompanied AnnaGrace on the trail for a couple of her long runs. Hurray for 16 miles on the bike! It's amazing how much easier even an 8:30 mile is when you have wheels. :)


Well, that's all for now!! I need to get lunch and do some vacuuming before I head off to work. Only 7 days left!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ignorance of the Law...

is no excuse. Unfortunately, I had personal experience today with my professor's mantra.

We started off the morning at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. There are tons of cute little shops, as well as some regular shops like Gap, American Eagle, and Build-A-Bear Workshop (really?!? this should not be located in a historic location...it's just sacrilege).


There were lots of neat gifts, though I managed to keep my wallet intact. :) I did, however, want to take these little owls home!!

Aren't they so cute??
Honestly, I was a tad disappointed with Faneuil Hall. It was beautiful, but it just wasn't as impressive as I was expecting. Maybe adding a few colonial patriots arguing about taxes would have done the trick!! . :) It's also just plopped down in the middle of downtown - you would never know what it is from the outside.



I thought this hotel was adorable - I LOVE the window boxes!!!


For lunch, I had New England Clam Chowder. It was the best I have ever had!!! Of course, come to think of it, I can only compare it to the canned kind, which I suppose isn't really a comparison after all. :) It is really cold here today (high of 60 degrees!!!), and I forgot my jacket, so soup was the perfect meal to warm my insides!!


I plan on making these bad boys when I get back to Texas:

Reese's cup brownies?? YES PLEASE!!!
After lunch, we headed back to the car since we were nearing our 2-hour limit. When we rounded the corner, this view was what met us:


Now, as much as I may wish my family drove a BMW, we don't. A look at the ticket on this guy's car confirmed that parking in front of the fire hydrant was the offense for which our car was towed. However, I would like you to note the complete lack of any kind of marking...and the fire lane on the other side of the hydrant. Also, the yellow line marks every single parking spot on the street...making it look like this spot is the same as the rest.

The traffic cop was completely not helpful. Her response was, "Well, I just know not to park in front of hydrants." I'm sorry we're from South Carolina, where they mark the curbs when you can't park there!!! Grrr...

We ended up having to take the Metro across town to rescue our car from the impound lot. The train station just so happened to be located in the Old State House, which I was wanting to see anyway (just not under those circumstances!). :)


On our way to get the car!
After we got our car, mom went to City Hall to contest the ticket, which she ended up getting dismissed (though not the towing fee). If anyone asks where my belligerence comes from, all fingers point to her. :)

We're currently hanging out in the dorm room (we're staying on campus this week - I get to relive college days!!), attempting to bake cookies in an oven that does not appear to have temperature control. :) I put Jocelyn in charge while I tried to blog. The cookies had only been in for 8 minutes when we started smelling burning...






Mom made the mistake of asking, "Okay, so what else can go wrong today??" Here's hoping she didn't jinx us. :)

Boston, Take 2 tomorrow!!!

So Far From Home

I love big cities. I don't know that I will ever actually live in one - I want a yard and a garden too badly!! However, I love visiting cities. Metro systems, tall buildings, ethnic restaurants, sightseeing...ahhh, so wonderful!!!!!


We stopped on Sunday night in Cranford, New Jersey (isn't that such a cool name??). After a night of sleep that was not nearly long enough (still recovering from all the wedding festivities!!!), we headed off to Liberty State Park to try and catch views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, all the Statue of Liberty tickets were taken for today, so we weren't going to get to go up in it.


Once we got to the park, however, we decided to take the ferry out to Ellis and Liberty islands and back. We didn't get off, but it was cool to be able to get some close-ups of the Statue of Liberty. I can't imagine being welcomed to America by the Statue of Liberty after weeks at sea - how cool would that be?!?\





On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at a little deli for lunch. I decided to be adventurous and order a pastrami sandwich for lunch. It was TO DIE FOR!!!!! I will definitely be ordering/making lots of pastrami sandwiches in the near future! I also tried mazza ball (spelling?) soup. It was different, but I liked it!




I've spent the last hour or so enjoying the sights on the road up to Boston. The sky has been beautiful today - partly cloudy, and the clouds look so cool!!! I know, I'm easily entertained. :) But sometimes it's nice just to put in some music, stare out the window, and think (or not). However, the traveling is getting a little tiresome, and I will be glad to arrive at the hotel and be able to stretch!

My reading for this trip is "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," by Jonathan Safran Foer. It's written from the perspective of a 9-year-old boy whose father was killed in 9/11. It's very different than anything I have ever read, but I am enjoying it so far. The book not only contains your typical chapter, but it also includes portions from diaries, letters, and pertinent illustrations.

I am currently sitting in the car listening to the running mix in my ipod and wishing I was out of the car and running down the road!! Despite my best intentions, I haven't been able to run all week, and I'm actually starting to  miss it! I think a visit to the hotel gym (at a minimum!) is in order tonight! I'm looking forward to taking advantage of the cooler temps up here - high of 76 degrees today!!!! I'm really dreading going back to the Texas heat on Thursday. Here's hoping I can switch my flight for a slightly later one!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

It Felt Like a Dream...


The first of my college friends is married and off on her honeymoon. At the rehearsal on Friday, I felt like I was walking down the aisle in a dream. How did I get here? What's happening? When did I get this old? The funny thing is, I've had more than a year to prepare for this wedding. However, I still had many "pinch yourself" moments. :)

Rachel and I headed up to High Point on Wednesday. We were the first ones to arrive, and it was great to spend some time with Anne by ourselves before the wedding festivities began. Since this is the first wedding I have been in, I was blown away by all the details that go into planning on wedding!!! Seeing Anne's to-do list made me thankful that it was not my wedding! :)

Thursday afternoon we took Anne out for "Bachelorette" activities. We outfitted her with a "Bride To Be" sash and visited the Childress Vineyard, which was beautiful. It's a relatively new winery, but 95% of the wine they sell is produced on site! Since we had time before the tour began, Anne did the wine sampling. I tried the "Classic Blush," which was actually the only wine I have tasted and actually liked! :) We also learned the three steps to "properly" drinking wine:

1) Look at the wine. (To ensure a good color? I can't quite remember)
2) Smell the wine - if you smell wet cardboard or cork, don't drink it!
3) Let the wine roll over your tongue. (Or, if you're like me, and haven't yet acquired the taste for wine, swallow as quickly as possible!!)

Rachel demonstrating the proper way to "sniff" the wine
 
The complimentary tour was lovely - it starts outside, and the tour guide talked about the growing and harvesting process. Then we headed inside to see the room where the wine ferments and the bottling plant. The grapes for the lighter wines are harvested beginning at the end of August. Harvesting continues until the end of November for some of the fuller red wines.


After the winery, we went to Southern Roots in Jamestown for dinner. This place was phenomenal!!! I was a very bad blogger and forgot to take pictures. :( We started with the gouda pimento cheese, which was amazing. For dinner, I had the shrimp and grits, which were the best I have ever had!! Below you can see Rachel with the fish tacos.


Friday started off with a bridal luncheon, hosted by Anne's aunt and cousin. We ate on the patio outside the Brookstown Inn. The weather was perfect, and the food delicious!! Rachel and I sat at a table with a woman from the church and her daughter. They were precious! We had a lovely time meeting and talking to them over lunch. After the rehearsal, we headed over to the Old Salem Tavern for dinner. They served Moravian chicken pie, which was sooo good. It's like chicken pot pie, except without the vegetables. For dessert, we had the grooms' cake, which was a chocolate chip pound cake decorated like a cigar band. I had never had fondant before, but I actually really liked it. It's really chewy, which added a fun texture to the cake. 


 Saturday, of course, was the big day!!! Everything went off beautifully...Anne looked absolutely gorgeous, the flowers were beautiful, and the reception was perfect. In hopes of being brief (and because it's more fun), I've decided to use a photo montage to describe the day. 





On Sunday, Anne and Daniel headed off to Costa Rica while I took off for Boston with the family. After two days of driving (with a brief stop in New York this morning!), we've finally arrived. I'm as far north as I've ever been, and excited about seeing the city tomorrow!!

 
Congratulations Anne and Daniel!!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Is It Dinnertime Yet?

3:45am came awfully early this morning. Since I worked at the symphony last night, we didn't get into bed until around 10:30pm. Six hours of sleep = veeery sluggish.

Thankfully we breezed through security at DFW and were heading towards our gate at 4:50am. I even got two compliments about my dress!! Hurray for female TSA agents who have fashion sense. :) Next time, we'll take an extra 15 minutes of sleep. :) Oh wait - I'm never flying at this time again, if at all possible...

Unfortunately, Starbucks wasn't quite open yet.






However, it opened 10 minutes later and we got fueled up with Americanos.

Round #1



We arrived in Memphis without a hitch. When we arrived in Memphis, our departure gate was right across the walkway!!! Hurray for a very short walk.

Unfortunately, that was followed by a veeeery long wait to take off...which turned into a cancelled flight. We were waiting for a divet...and then a seatbelt extension. When people heard the seatbelt piece, they flipped out..."You mean we're waiting for a seatbelt?!?!?" I'm sorry, but don't get mad at the gate agent - get mad at the fat person who needs the extension. We definitely got our morning dose of entertainment. People were being such jerks!!!! I felt really bad for the gate agent.

About 10:15am, they issued us $6 food vouchers - and we headed back to Starbucks!!

Round #2 - Compliments of Delta
After this, I decided to explore what options we had for rebooking our flight, even though it wasn't officially cancelled yet. Thankfully, we got to the rebooking center just in time. As we were rebooking, the agent confirmed that our flight had been cancelled. We beat the rush and got guaranteed seats on the 2:45pm flight - no standby!!! We also got more food vouchers and a travel voucher.

We promptly ate and purchased internet (poo on the Memphis airport for not having free wi-fi!!) to check email and (of course!!!) update the blog. :)

We've been working on a video documentary of our experience, which should make an appearance in the next couple days, as soon as I get it edited and pieced together.

For now, we're off to our changed departure gate!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cowtown

On Wednesday, I had a meeting with the Ft. Worth Symphony, so AnnaGrace and I decided to make a day of it and experience Ft. Worth.We perused a list of  free things and made our itinerary. Our first stop was the Kimbell Art Museum. Admission to their permanent collection is always free!! Although not a huge exhibit, they had several paintings by notable artists such as Monet, Edvard Munch, and Michelangelo.

"Weeping Willow" by Monet

The Torment of St. Anthony - Michelangelo (Done when he was 13!!)
Next we headed to Sundance Square downtown. It's14 blocks of shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Since it was a Wednesday afternoon, there wasn't a whole lot going on, but it was fun to walk around and do some window shopping.

Starbucks break!


I have a new fascination with courthouses - maybe it's because in Texas, they are just so beautiful!!


Finally, we headed out to the Historic Stockyards for the daily Cattle Drive. Apparently Ft. Worth is home to the only twice-daily cattle drive in the world! Hence, the nickname "Cowtown." Unfortunately, it sounds more exciting than it actually is. I think we were a little naive (okay, maybe more than just a little) by expecting some big stampede. In reality, there were about 30 cattle walking at a snail's pace. We definitely felt like tourists!! :) But hey, you can't live in Texas without experiencing the culture, right??

video

While at the Stockyards, I was on the hunt for some canned armadillo. Unfortunately, I struck out...but we did find these treasures!!





After traipsing all around Ft. Worth in 95-degree weather, we were starving!! Our latest attempt at saving money is signing up for a bazillion email clubs at restaurants to obtain coupons, free birthday meals, etc. The latest find was Cici's Pizza. AnnaGrace had never been, so we decided to give it a try. Thank goodness we only ended up paying $2.50 a person - because neither of us were big fans. I guess we've outgrown the love of cheap pizza!! I do have to say, though, that their breadsticks and their cinnamon roll dessert pizza were quite good!! And we were at least semi-healthy by having salads!!


After my meeting, we redeemed the evening by stopping at Yogurt Land, where we heaped our bowls full of frozen yogurt and yummy toppings (including incredibly sour gummy worms!!). This is the best yogurt place we've been to yet!! Their Chocolate Mint Cookie flavor is to die for...


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lazy Days

Sleeping in until 10am tends to make a day go by very quickly. Hence, Tuesday felt like only half a day. I blame the 16-mile trail run/ride on Monday for our extreme tiredness. :)

Despite losing the morning, we were at least semi-productive yesterday. I've been meaning to put together a goodwill bag for some time now, so yesterday we tackled our closets.






That's my Goodwill pile - pathetic, I know...but I don't have all of my clothes here.

And...the finished product!!



For dinner, we tried a new recipe from "Vegetarian Times." I have been craving pasta for the past couple of days, and this recipe hit the spot!! I think next time I will cut back a little on the garlic and the mint - both AnnaGrace and I were tasting them for some time after we finished!!

Sorry for some of the wonky measurements - the original recipe served 9!!! In order to avoid leftovers coming out of our ears, I cut the recipe by two thirds.

Next time I make this I will up the broccoli to 1 cup. I will also make some extra to put mix in with the pasta.


Bow Ties with Broccoli Pesto
Originally in Vegetarian Times
Servings: 3

2/3 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. (??) mint leaves (we used fresh ones, so we just eyeballed it)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 large garlic clove, peeled
4 oz. farfalle pasta (again, I just eyeballed how much pasta I wanted to cook)

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Cook broccoli in broccoli in boiling water 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove with slotted spoon. Keep the broccoli water! Rinse the broccoli under cold water.

Pulse broccoli, parsley, oil, mint, lemon juice, lemon zest, and garlic in food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook farfalle according to package directions in broccoli cooking water. Reserve 1 Tbsp. water before draining. Toss farfalle with pesto and pasta cooking water (add the water in as necessary).


Both AnnaGrace and I really enjoyed this recipe. In total, it took less than 30 minutes to make. The garlic and mint were pretty strong, but the mint gave it a nice refreshing taste. You could also add chicken for protein. We had a little extra pesto, so I am going to marinate some chicken in it for next time. This is definitely going in my meal rotation!

We had lots of fun eating this pasta...:)


Now I'm off to get ready for a day in Fort Worth. Check out all the free things there are to do!! This evening, I have orientation for my job with the Ft. Worth Symphony, so we're making a day out of it and playing around in Ft. Worth. We're going to hit up the Kimbell Art Museum and try to see the Cattle Drive. Apparently there is a cattle drive twice daily in downtown Ft. Worth!! Ahh, Texas. :)