Archives for April 2010

{Stuck in the Lincoln Tunnel: Not a Cliché}

Day 2 of NYC Adventure 2010 recap begins with the most stressful: a wreck in the Lincoln Tunnel.  Which almost made us miss our show.  Now, we weren’t in the wreck that backed everything up for hours, but our public bus driver did hit a car.  And no one cared.  Seriously.  No one even batted an eyelash. Oh, NYC, how I love thee.  You see, the car was trying to squeeze in front of our bus, and our bus driver just kept inching up and clipped his hood, dragging the bus along his car.  Even the driver of the car didn’t look too shocked.  Crazy.

Because we were in New Jersey, the bus had to get OUT of the city, and then back in.  Now, couple a wreck with Saturday night traffic, and the phrase “hell on wheels” just doesn’t seem to cut it.  (P.S. WHY do people beep their horns in traffic jams?  Honestly?  What do you think you’re going to accomplish?)

We had plans to dine at this snazzy little pizza bistro we saw earlier in the day, so we went to the bus stop around 5:45.  The show wasn’t until 8:30.  Let me reiterate; we were almost late.  The bus ride is usually only 8 minutes.  This gave me plenty of time to chat with a Russian/Swedish/Irish woman on the bus (because all of the seats were full and Eric and I had to sit on separate ends of the bus.  No wonder divorce rates are so high…you can’t even sit with your honey on a night out!).  She was on the cell phone most of the time, talking with a different accent and in a different language with each call.  That’s talent.

When the bus finally pulled into the terminal, it was 8:23.  We made it to the Majestic Theatre in time for the show.  In time to grab snacks.  In time to use the restroom.  And in time to snap a few pictures before the show started. This would probably also be a good time to mention that two days before we left for NYC, I decided to up the ante and buy 4” heels…AND not break them in.  There is nothing like sprinting through NYC on a Saturday night in stilettos to make you feel like a true, American woman.

 

So, we went to the Majestic, which means we saw…Phantom of the Opera-now the longest running show on Broadway!  I’m ashamed to admit that I have never seen a production of this before, and that Eric fell asleep during the production he went to in Cincinnati.  We even fell asleep during the movie when we rented it in college, but that was due to sheer exhaustion and not the movie itself.  On a side note: did anyone realize that Gerard Butler played the Phantom in that movie? 

(Who’s that handsome guy?)

(Our seats where dead center, first row of the balcony.  Loved them!)

I’m really contemplating a Christmas trip to NYC to catch the sequel to “Phantom of the Opera”, “Love Never Dies”.  Set 10 years later, Christine is invited to perform at Coney Island by a strange man…I can’t imagine who! (Or why she’d go…it’s like the equivalent of the dumb blond running UP the stairs in horror movies…)

After the show, we ended up heading straight back to the bus terminal so that we could figure out the schedule.  I once again got the chance to try out my new “American womanness” by CHASING a bus down.  You see, after hanging out for over an hour in the terminal,

compare blisters, next to a passed out guy who had peed on himself and fallen out of a chair, watching a pigeon check out all of the gates (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, anyone?),

we looked at the clock to realize the bus is a few minutes late.  I walked out the gate door to look down the street, and see a crazed woman sprinting down the street.  Deranged, I thought.  Until I saw what she was chasing.  I don’t know why the bus didn’t stop, or where she came from, or how long she’d been chasing that bus, but we both needed on that bus.  So without even a glance back at Eric, I took off sprinting too.  (I knew he would follow; don’t worry, I wasn’t trying to leave him there.)  Thankfully, the driver stopped.  And we got on.  And I think I figured out why he didn’t stop in the first place.  The bus was so crowded there was barely standing room.  Now, I hung on for dear life to the overhead cable thing…in 4” heels…on a bendy bus…with a crazed driver.  I fell is some guy’s lap at one point.  I’m sure there are videos on youtube.  New goal for May…work on balance.

We got off of the bus to take some night shots and realized it was now after 1am, and we hadn’t eaten dinner. 

 

(Did I mention how fabulous the view from our hotel was?)

We headed to Houlihan’s, which was still jam-packed, and also happens to be the same place we ate lunch earlier in the day, after our morning adventure in the city. It was right next to the hotel, and had an indoor and outdoor area.

 

Before lunch, we put on our “New York” face and got a signature Starbucks,

 

hung out in Times Square,

 

Visited the M&M Store (I, ummm, used to collect M&M memorabilia…),

 

Strolled through Central Park…I find it funny that people walk billions of blocks to jog around the park…and it was very sad to see all of the little kiddos barricaded into a tiny playground in the middle of the city.  This one poor child was just hanging onto the gate and staring out…,

And moseyed up and down the streets basking in the energy. 

(Although, I don’t think I would advertise this to tourists…)

I love the energy a big city brings, but I don’t think I could embrace my inner Martha Stewart-ness in a big city (and I don’t mean the whole insider trading/prison thing).  

{Sex in the City}

Umm, wait…Sorry, won’t be sharing those details with you. But I was in the city. New York City, that is! The Big Apple. America’s Mecca. The City of Cities. This was my first trip to NYC, but Eric has been there before. We had a bit of a hard time planning this trip, because for the first time, our idea of a “good time” didn’t mesh. Eric thought “fun” was a fast-paced gallop down Wall Street, while my idea of “fun” was more like a leisurely stroll (or horse-drawn carriage ride!) through Central Park. We only had one full day, and with so many things that we both wanted to do, we actually ended up cancelling the plans to hit the city until we could spend more than a day there.

A few nights before we were ready to leave (because we had to be in New York for other reasons), we revisited the idea of hitting the city. The only thing we both agreed on was to see a show on Broadway. I researched this previously, and the thought of spending a few hundred dollars for tickets took the fun out of it. But since Eric isn’t quite as frugal as I am, March was my birthday month, and we always make spontaneous decisions at 2am, we ended up with tickets to catch a production.

This left the issue of finding a hotel. The thought of figuring out public transportation made me shake in my booties. So I knew I had to find something that wasn’t too far away. But the thought of paying $300+ bucks a night for a room (plus parking), made me want to stake a vampire (sorry, too many Buffy reruns). Thanks to some mad googling skills, I found this place: Sheraton at Lincoln Harbor. For $119/night, we got this view, which entirely justified the cost.

Kinda nice going to bed to that…and waking up with this…

We also got relatively cheap parking, with in/out access, ferry access literally right outside of our door, 2 bus routes that went directly to the Port Authority Bus Terminal within 30 seconds walking distance, a swanky bar/restaurant on site, a swankier bar/restaurant next door, late checkout, a newly updated room, and did I mention the view?!

 The hotel was actually in New Jersey, but if worse came to worse, I could have swam into the city. I think normal room rates are around $200, but I signed up for the FREE rewards program which brought down the rates and provided some other decent amenities—like two(!) TV’s (and a few spammy emails, but nothing ridiculously obnoxious). This place was super-clean, super-nice, super-quiet (which we were concerned about in NYC), and I 101.2% recommend it for anyone planning a NYC trip. Oh, and I actually wanted to take this chair home with me–A+ to the decor team.

 

We decided to drive, which equated to about 10 hours in the car. It wasn’t so bad because we thoroughly enjoy car rides together, plus we downloaded a ton of music and made some mixed CD’s (holla, 1997!). All was well until we hit Pennsylvania at lunch time, and apparently people in that state do not eat out. Aside from Jolene’s Chicken Shack and Randy’s Hog Hotel, there was nowhere to stop for lunch. We passed the time by pocket-dialing random people from Eric’s work (long, inside-joke—I’ll spare ya.) The drive was beautiful, and Eric really enjoyed snapping hundreds of shots through the car window…obviously I put in my fair-share of driving time. We were going to drop in on Jim and Pam, but thought they may not enjoy company, you know, with the new baby and all.

By the time we arrived at the hotel, we were ready for dinner and a nap, so needless to say we didn’t do too much exciting adventuring. We decided to try out the restaurant in the hotel: The Harbor Bar and Brasserie (a French word for a type of restaurant with a relaxed, upscale setting, also French for brewery and, by extension, “the brewing business”. A brasserie can be expected to have professional service and printed menus). It was really good. They had an entire gluten free menu, including desserts, along with a wide variety of veggie options. They also had all of the March Madness games showing, so we were able to see the damage to our bracket. Actually, at this point, I believe we were in 1st! Don’t get too happy; we didn’t stay there. I picked my teams based on results of like 3 years ago, cause I haven’t watched a game lately.

We ended the night with a romantic stroll along the harbor, wishing we could buy one of the condos built on the water overlooking the city. I think I’m developing a strong case of “house envy.”

{I Think, Therefore I Peep}

Each year Eric’s family does a family Easter egg hunt.  Super fun.  For some reason, last year we decided we needed to make t-shirts, decorate the car, and get into an all-out competitive mood.  We did all of this at midnight…the night before.  But! We won.  It was fantastic.  Our theme last year was “Peeps”.  Everyone got a “Peep” name, and a “Peep” quote.  It’s amazing how funny popular quotes, ads, and taglines become when you replace them with a random word.  Some of the taglines were “Strong enough for a man, made for a Peep”, “I think, therefore I Peep”, “Geez Oh Peep”, and my personal favorite, “Don’t Peep and Drive”.  Eric’s papa was Master P.eep (get it?), his mom was Queen Peep, his sister was therefore Princess Peep, Eric was Lil’ Peep, and I was Peepers. 

So this year, we started planning early, in an effort to out-do ourselves. We had a theme and everything. Eric did a presentation at work about putting all of your eggs in one basket…I made cookies…and he made plastic eggs for a visual aid…are you noticing a theme of overachievement?

And then the worst of the worst happened.  Eric had a huge project at work during Easter weekend, and we made the decision to stay in Limaland, thus missing Easter with the family.  I was sad, but have no fear, there were no teardrops.  Instead, Eric thought it would be nice if I brought Easter lunch into the workplace, since many other people were also away from their families.  Party time!  Thankfully, another couple also thought it would be nice, so we coordinated.  I took care of drinks, dessert, rolls, and tableware, and they took care of the food.  Score!

Just so you know, making 4 gallons of tea and 4 gallons of lemonade is A LOT harder than it may initially appear.  So one container of tea tasted very “tea-y”, and one tasted like tea flavored water.  One container of lemonade was sugar water with a hint of lemon, and one was lemon flavored water.  12 hours in the fridge was also not enough time for them to chill, so thankfully a friend was able to play Arctic adventure and track down some ice.  Oh well, they looked cute, right? Oh, and the containers?  Wally World for $6.  They worked surprisingly well-no leaks, and they’re really sturdy.  I can get at least a few more uses out of them.

Now, the cupcakes were uber fun to make.  I found the paper basket cups on sale at JoAnn Fabric for under $1.  Excellent find.  I traced one before I put it on the cupcake, so now I can make them, or variations of them, in the future.  They didn’t really want to stay closed, and after the hubby picked one up by the handle and it tumbled, I used Glue Dots to reinforce them.

I also scored the cute pink polka dot cupcake cups for 50% at Hobby Lobby.  They perfectly matched the ribbon I already had for the drink containers…not that anyone noticed.

Do NOT underestimate the power of colored icing and sprinkles.  I picked up these green crystal sprinkles (also 50% off at Hobby Lobby).  While a bit messy and time consuming, they really added so much to the look and taste.  It’s all about the texture! I should have added the crystals right after frosting the cupcakes.  I waited awhile, and the frosting had already crusted, so I couldn’t just sprinkle them on.  I got a shallow dish, poured in some sprinkles, and then rolled the edges (with just a little pressure) around until it was covered.

The grass was made by adding a few drops of food coloring to sweetened, shredded coconut.  I used Wilton Kelly Green coloring for the frosting, and regular food coloring for the coconut.  This added just enough contrast to make the coconut “grass” stand out.  I thought that the coconut would be the hardest to get on, but it wasn’t.  Using a spoon, I scooped a spoonful, then scraped it off of the spoon with the back of another spoon, pressing it into the icing.  Worked like a charm.

I used malted chocolate eggs, but jelly beans, chocolate eggs, or peanut M&M’s would have worked just fine.  I just liked the realistic egg look.  To make the Peeps and Milky Way bunnies stand up, I…ummm…stuck a toothpick up their behinds.  Poor bunnies.

So while Eric spent 36 hours straight at work (yes, he’s very tired), I lounged on my chaise on the patio streaming Buffy reruns on my laptop and enjoying the 80 degree weather.  I also enjoyed the pretty flowers Eric bought me.  They can’t make up for not spending time with him on the holiday, but they came close.

The family still had the hunt, but apparently there was some French judging going on and not everyone had the same amount of eggs…whoops.  The theme this year was “The Hunt 2010: Let’s get crackin’”.  Eric’s sister is so crafty in her design.

So, now we can start planning our Halloween costumes and start Christmas shopping, right? No? Oh…whoops.

{Ummm? April? Already?}

So, those March goals…right.  Those things.  Those things that did not get done.  Those things that did not get done because it’s April, already.  I don’t believe it.  That’s crazy.

I did get the bridal shower invitations made and sent out—thank God—or that would have been one lame party. 

I also read a few books, albeit not the one on my goal list.  The other stuff? Not so good.  I went a few weeks without vitamins and herbs, and so, as I type, I’m battling the flu. ::Cough, Cough. Sniff, Sniff::

I did get some exercise!  Does running through the streets of New York City in stilettos count?  It most certainly does.  Does chasing after 3 children under the age of 8 count? It most certainly does.  Yes, I had a very interesting few weeks…more on that later!

So, besides a fun trip to NYC, March did bring a few other joys.  Like New Moon on DVD.  To my credit (dismally), Eric bought it for my birthday, so no, I did not run out and get it at midnight. In other “Twilight” related news, Stephenie Meyer will be releasing a novella titled The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner in June.  It chronicles Bree, the newborn vampire granted immunity by the Cullens in Eclipse, but not quite so fortunate when faced with the Volturi.  It’s free!  That’s right, free.  Online downloads will be available for free for a short time, and hardback editions will also be sold with $1 donated to the Red Cross for Haiti relief efforts.  Good publicity move Stephenie Meyer, good publicity move…

The Vampire Diaries also returned with new episodes. (Notice a trend here?  So sad…).  Dancing With the Stars also returned, with a very exciting cast. Chad OchoCinco! Cincinnati love! We also started watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.  Fantabulousness!  Love it!  Can’t wait until tomorrow to get more of it!  Interested in what the public schools are feeding your children? Wondering how you can help yourself not die? Check it out as a Brit takes on the unhealthiest city in America. I also watched a lot of Sponge Bob Squarepants.  What. A. Horrible. Show. Ack.

We watched a few other movies this month.  I watched Julie and Julia, the story of a blogger who takes on the challenge of cooking through Julia Child’s cookbook.  It was okay.  Meryl Streep did a wonderful job, but the “Julie” part of the story was a bit lacking. We also watched Marco Polo with Ian Somerhalder (a Hallmark Channel original mind you), which was not so great.  It wasn’t bad, but I think we fell asleep halfway through. We made it to the movies to see Alice in Wonderland, and had it not been for Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, I would probably have said it was very bland. 

So, April.  Goals. Things to Do. Projects.  Let’s see if I can do better!

Take vitamin everyday
Take herbal supplement 3x/day
Eat dinner in 4x/week
Be in bed (and asleep) by 11:00 on weekdays
Go for a 20 minute walk outside 2x/week
Mail 3 cards to friends via snail-mail
Spring Clean the Laundry room, Bathroom, and Bedroom
Clean up the patio
Plant bulbs for late Summer blooms
Find vases/holders for our super-fun new Pottery Barn candles (they have even bigger flameless ones now!)
Renew Passport!!!!!
Order new glasses

So, no.  I didn’t get a lot accomplished that I set out to do, but I did actually get a lot done.  That’s what matters, eh?  And considering that I had  three children in my care for a week, and I didn’t kill, maim, or otherwise injure them, I would have to say that the month was a definite success!

No…Eric does not count as one of the children (the oldest was cool enough to ride by herself), although I’m sure he had more fun than they did with most activities.  In fact, he had to coerce them into riding the merry-go-round with him…