Sunday, August 18, 2013

#105 He Drives in the City

Last Sunday, Hubby and I went to NYC to hide away from reality for a few hours.

By the end of the night, I began my usual campaign to move to the city.  It didn't help when we walked past an apartment building with listings posted on several 8 x 10 pages.  Within seconds, I was pulled, along with the other six girls that had been walking behind us, over to stare, drool, and point at the *deal* of $1900 a month for a one bed/one bath spot in the West Village.

Enough with my hopes and dreams.

We went to the city for one purpose: food.  I think if I ever do move to the city I will never manage to go to a restaurant that I love more than once because of the endless list of restaurants that Hubby and I have compiled.

On our way to our greatly anticipated lunch we saw this:

Actually, we saw the building first, not the sign.  It was adorable.  The ceiling to floor windows were opened giving the coffee shop the air of an outside cafe.  I wanted to teleport my laptop from home, push someone out of one of the taken seats, and sit there writing the rest of the afternoon away.  Hubby, however, wanted to partake in what they were selling.  I don't think he saw the above sign.

The coffee connoisseur in me knew the instant we walked into the building that these people didn't offer any 'light' or 'medium' strength choices, which Hubby needs in order to be satisfied.  He was still blinded by the beauty of the building, the colorful macaroons, and other pastries dripping with sugary delight that decorated the counter top.  There was no posted menu, which oddly intimidated me, so I ordered a simple iced coffee.  Hubby, poor daring misguided Hubby, ordered 'The New Orleans' which sat in a fancy beverage dispenser on the back counter.  I knew when I overheard one of the employees noting to another employee that she always double checks if the customer wants room for milk in this variety that its strength must be mighty, mightier than even my tough body builder could handle.

Perhaps it was because neither of us had made it to the gym on this particular day, but we soon found out that we were not as strong as our coffee.

Since there were no seats available, we walked a little down the street and found a bench strategically located across a puppy shop.

I had to chant to myself, "I do not want a puppy.  I do not want a puppy," over and over in order to convince myself that the puppies looked much better in the window than they would on my hardwood floors.

But they were absolutely adorable.

I wish I had zoomed even further in on their cuteness, but I was trying to appear inconspicuous.

Luckily for me, the thought of lunch quickly distracted me away from the puppies.

In just a mere 10 hour time frame of being in NYC we managed to walk past at least six different photo shoots taking place, amateur and professional.

This one seemed more on the amateur side.  The curiosity within me almost forced me over to ask them what they were taking pictures for.  But I contained myself.

Now, lunchie.

Though I love most shows on the Food Network (but a little less these days considering they kicked my girl Paula off) I don't normally watch the Barefoot Contessa.  She tends to not hold my attention and/or cook things I would often make.  However, one episode I happened upon she visited The Meatball Shop and the owner made her a meatball sandwich.  It looked so outrageously delicious I texted Hubby that moment and told him we had to go.

We sat at the bar because the other spots were taken and we didn't want to wait.  We're impatient like that.  The menu is laminated and dry erase markers sit at each table for guests to check off their orders.

I love that.

We both went with the classic beef meatball, but spicy pork and chicken were both very temping options.  (There's also vegetable for you vegetarians out there).

Though the sub that the Barefoot Contessa enjoyed looked divine, I went with naked meatballs and a side of risotto.  Never having been a big meatball sub person, I thought I would try them sans bread and see how delicious they were on their own.

My favorite part was the sauce.  It was not too thick, and had a light sweet flavor that carried throughout.


when I looked at Hubby's plate I knew instantly that I had made a mistake.

He's the best, as you know by now, and he let me steal one...two...three bites of his sub.  I don't know what the difference was, but eating the naked meatball had nothing on it being smashed in the middle of mozzarella cheese and a toasty baguette.

Even his salad was tasty!

This was my view during our meal.

I loved it in every sense of the word.

And while I was desperately interested in trying their cookie ice cream sandwiches, I also have this strange quirk about me, which I may or may not have already described, where I like to have my dessert at a different place from where I've just eaten.

I'm weird and a snob,  I know.

We declined dessert and headed back into the big city knowing that the right dessert would find us.

And of course, it did.

I find that food trucks can be hit or miss.  My original thought was that they serve up an item that is usually pretty specific, so how could it possibly be bad?  We went to one in the winter called, "NYC's Best Hot Dogs".

I suppose we were like Will Farrell's character in 'Elf' when he sees the sign "World's Best Cup of Coffee" lit up in a diner window and gets excited for their accomplishment of this feat.

"Congratulations!  Great job....NYC's Best Hot Dogs!  I'll take ten!" was pretty much our attitude.

Then we realized that the eight-pack of ball park hot dogs sitting in our freezer that cost us $2.50 (even cheaper than only one of their hot dogs) tasted better.

What a let down.

 Cool Haus, however, did not disappoint.  We happened upon them while walking around Union Square in a desperate search for flip flops for silly me who thought that she could wear flats all day and not get blisters.

You can order ice cream in a cup or get one of there options of an ice cream sandwich named for building structures.  We went with the smallest choice.  Our ice cream was cookies and cream (though I was dying to find out what their chocolate lava tasted like) and the cookies were red velvet.  The ice cream was basic, but the cookies were outstanding.  They were soft and buttery, but firm enough to be held if you wanted to eat it that way.  We used our tiny little spoon to eat most of it.

After our bellies and my feet were satisfied, we walked a little around Union Square.

We found this and I felt special for about 3.83289 seconds....

 until I saw this:

By the time we came back later in the evening, I think he was up to 600-something faces.

We took the subway to go into Times Square for one reason and one reason only....

Caffe Bene

I'm still searching, but so far, they are my absolute favorite NYC coffee place.  Best Mocha Frappe, ever.

And trust me, I've had a lot of Mocha Frappes in my time.

This time I felt a little adventurous and, forgive me, wasn't in a coffee flavored mood.

I now, sacrilege.  Again, please, please, please forgive me.

I tried their 'Strawberries and Creme' frappe and was so happy I almost did cartwheels in the aisles.

And that would have been quite a feat seeing that I have never done even one cartwheel in my entire life.  I blame elementary school gym class for my complete lack of upper body strength.

I need to blame someone/thing right?

After Caffe Bene, we shopped a little in Times Square.  Hubby bought a suit for a family affair at H&M.  Then, we headed for dinner.

Here's where you will hate me.  I had been using my phone to take pictures all day (because I refuse to look like a tourist and carry my honkin' SLR camera around with me).  Naturally, my phone's battery became drained and by dinner time at 8 pm, it was so low on battery I could no longer take pictures.

The restaurant of choice was 'The Redhead' in the East Village.  It was so tiny that if we hadn't been looking closely for it, we could have walked right by it.  The room couldn't have seated more than 50, so it was a pretty intimate atmosphere, which suited us just fine.

The waitress brought us sweet bread with a creamy and subtly sweet butter.  When she came around with a second roll for us both I thought perhaps she had forgotten that she had already given us one.  I giggled a little to myself, then devoured it.

We ordered their chips and dip as a starter which was house made waffle chips with, get this, butter braised onion dip.

I'm not normally one for chips and dip.  I usually just eat chips with my chips, but the dip was delicious.

Hubby and I both ordered the buttermilk fried chicken which was so amazing.  Take everything you know about delicious fried chicken and double, no, triple it.  That was how good this fried chicken was.  On the side was a salad of mixed greens, strawberries, and almonds.  I love salad with fruit and nuts, but for some reason it is one of the few things I refuse to make on my own at home.  It's one of those things that I want to be able to get when I'm out and think to myself, "Wow, this is delicious.  I never have this at home!"

I know, I'm strange.

My favorite part of the meal, hands down, was what we got to leave the restaurant with:

Cookies to go?  Just for eating a meal at your restaurant?  Sweet.  Hubby was such a trooper.  I made him wait the hour ride home to eat his cookie so that I could get a picture of them for you.

You should feel honored, dear reader.

(*Note: Truth be told, it was harder for me not to eat the cookie than Hubby.  He has much, much more self-control than I ever will).

Monday, August 12, 2013

#104 He is Older Than Me

For the first 27 years of his life, my brother, Justin, was always two years older than me.  A little under three years ago he became three years older than me.  Then four.  And as of this past Friday, five.  Five years older than me.

I feel so horribly sad for him.

Somehow I managed to stay 25 all that time.  And he...he has turned 30.

What a world.  What a horrible world it is where the number 30 can creep up upon someone unbeknownst.

He is tough though.  Tougher than me.  I think he'll survive it.

To celebrate this milestone, we threw him a surprise 30th.  I was a little worried that the shock of the party and the realization of his age might be detrimental to his health, but he carried through like a real trooper.

Me, on the other hand, I would have been on the floor crying my way back to 2010.  No, let's be honest, 2008.

While we waited for the birthday boy, I got to hang out with these awesome ladies.  My Gram, on the left, and my newest grandmother (Kristina's grandmother) on the right.  At the party she named me her other granddaughter.  I don't think there is a higher compliment I could have received.

I got to hang out with my brother's bestest friends in the world.

Is it strange that only the girls are posing for this picture?

And, of course, my favorite person in the entire world was there holding his spot as the life of the party.

Justin's wife, Kristina, sent me a text in the morning saying that Justin was trying to get to her mother's house (where the party was) early.  Somehow, she managed to postpone him so well that they were a half hour later than expected.

I love how Kristina's best friend, Chrissy, (up front in blue), is the only person looking here.  Everyone else is having fun waiting for Justin's grand entrance.

He had an inkling something was going on when he passed by my dad's army green Hummer on the street.  I think his face still reads 'SURPRISED'.

I thought Justin should have worn the Elton John birthday glasses all day.   But he was too humble for such stardom.

I love when these two get together.

Spaghetti sauce face and all, this picture makes me laugh.

So does this one.

I had to get a final jab in with Justin's birthday gift.

Then I felt bad and had to emphasize that he isn't 'too old', whatever that means...

The expressions of every face in this picture are priceless.  Let's start at the top of the stairs.  That's Kristina's mom.  She looks like the cat who swallowed the canary.  As if she knows what is about to happen with whatever gift Justin is about to open.  Anna, right next to her, looks like she's speculating about what the gift might be.  Kristina's grandmother is deeply concentrating on the card she's looking at.  Hubby, well, aside from his adorable smile, he's also got that huge caterpillar on his upper lip that is always a good laugh to be had.  Kristina is staring in bewilderment at Justin as if she doesn't know whether to laugh or be shocked by the gift he's opening.  And John, blue t-shirt on the right, I'm sure is in the middle of a comical rant on the mood of the room.

We had lots of desserts and...get ready for it...they were all chocolate.

In the background you see my delicious chocolate cake pops.

Perhaps I've been around too many birthday parties where there is only a single number on the cake...

But he blew those candles out far too fast for my liking.

Note to self: trick candles or a candle for every year of life are a must have for anyone over 20.

I think 30 looks good on Justin. 

I'm going to let him know he should hang onto it until my one of my other brothers is ready for it.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

#103 He is an Artist

A little over a year ago, I got my first tattoo.  It was a strange and wonder filled occasion, which you can read about here.  Just for the record, I've never been one who dreamed of getting tattoos.  At the age that my younger brother was begging my parents for a tattoo (they said no), I was just begging to be allowed to listen to the Beatles (true parents really made me hide under a rock during my mid-teens).  

I didn't make the plunge for my tattoo until I was 25 +1.  I had considered getting one before then, but never felt any pressing need to do it.  Something drastically changed once the needle stopped churning.  Suddenly, I had an empty canvas and thousands of thoughts for new tattoos and would have gladly hopped back onto the tattoo artist's chair if not for the sore spot I was currently nursing and the lack of cash in my pocket.

I wanted to somehow incorporate my love for writing into a tattoo, but I also wanted it to flow from what I had just gotten done.  I gave the project to Hubby because I didn't feel like thinking about it.  Hubby, despite what he claims, is a fantastic artist in a variety of different medium.  

Here are two examples from when we first started dating:

The amount of artistic creations I received from him when we were dating were not only numerous, but they were quality art for a teenager to be producing with simple materials as pencil, construction paper, etc.

A comma is something a writer uses, whether correctly or incorrectly, so I decided I wanted to tattoo the shape of a comma in a lacy print around my current tattoo.  Just like my first tattoo, it also holds a double meaning.  A comma is a pause between parts of a sentence.  Pausing is something I constantly have to remind myself to do when I get angry, upset, stressed, etc.  It's a good reminder for us all to put life on pause for a minute before we get worked up over anything.

Hubby was patient with me, as always.  He designed two or three different styles before we decided that the lace design would be an extremely large tattoo, one that I did not want to sit for.  After a little Googling, I discovered the watercolor tattoo style and fell in love.

While Hubby did not design my tattoo, he helped by sketching out the idea for how to incorporate the comma with watercolor splashes

Deciding on what tattoo to get was a culmination of many months of thought, design, rejection, and talking with Hubby.  But it was really my grandmother who pushed me to go ahead and get it.

When my brother and I got our first tattoos together, we kidded my grandmother about getting one.  My grandmother loves a challenge though, and soon the joke became a reality.

You'll remember from this post that Gram turned 80 this year.

But she was fearless.  She knew what she wanted, and exactly how she wanted it.

I kept checking on her the entire time and her worst complaint after it was all over was that she was uncomfortable with how she was sitting.  She couldn't have cared less about the needle rubbing across her skin, only that she was sitting in an awkward position the entire time.

I love her.

We switched seats, and then it was my turn!

I was a little more of a wimp.  The tattoo artist, Frank, who was awesome, had me laying down for the start of my tattoo.  I couldn't manage to find a comfortable position.  I kept flipping my head from left to right, then my arm started falling asleep, then it started shaking from the falling asleep, and I was an absolute complete mess.

We took a break half way through so I could switch into a sitting position.  That made the end a million times better.

I told Gram a butterfly is a typical girl tattoo, but hers is certainly much more classy than any I've seen so far.

She was pretty excited.

When I was taking pictures of Gram's tattoo, Jon wanted a picture with her so he twirled her around so that her tattoo was in the shot.

He's a cutie.

He tried to do the same with me, but Gram didn't know how to use my camera, so my tattoo got slighted.

Jonathan started laughing and I had to capture the moment.


I just love that face.

I asked Hubby at a pretty inopportune time later that night to take a picture so I could blog about it.  This is why we have a little glare going on.  This was the best picture where the glare wasn't in such an awkward spot and my neck didn't look so much like a giraffe's.

And that's what I get for wanting what I want when I want it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

#102 He Likes the Muppets

Values.come says that Kermit the frog has taught the lesson, "Live Your Dreams".  While I agree with that thought, I recognize that he has taught so much more.  There aren't too many role models out there today on television, and I certainly am thankful I didn't grow up in the time of reality TV that simply captivates, rather than motivates.  While obviously Kermit is a puppet, a creation of the genius mind of Jim Henson, he is as real to the average person as any of the Real Housewives or cast of Big Bag Theory ever will be.  

So here it is.  A few things, not listed in order of importance, that Kermit the Frog has taught me over the years.

1. Be a lover.

Let love lead you.  Hopefully, you'll realize in the end that love is more important than social standing, money, or fame.

2. Be a dreamer

Dream big.  Dream wide.  Dream vast.  Dream deep.  Never give up on your dreams.

3. Be yourself

Don't waste your life trying to be someone else.  Be you.  

4. Sometimes it isn't easy being yourself.  

You'll have moments.  Maybe days.  Maybe weeks.  You'll have times that you don't like who you are.  But by the end of your pity song, like Kermit, you'll realize that things you cannot change about yourself make you who you are.  And they are special and important.

5. You can wear many hats in life.  

Growing up, I was always amazed that Kermit would appear on Sesame Street as the news reporter.  I knew Sesame Street and the Muppets were made by the same people, but seeing Kermit unaccompanied by his Muppet buddies and playing man on the street always baffled me.  Now I see it as a tip of the hat to crazy people like me who manage to balance a million different jobs, hobbies, and dreams without ever being given any extra hours in our days.

6. All people can be good people.

People can't become good until you see them as good.  This comes from looker deeper at a person, from the inside out.  Recognizing their value as a person.  Realizing that though they may look one way, and sometimes even act one way, they have the potential for greatness just the same as you.

7. Putting on a show is of high priority.

My brother, Joel, and I used to put on a show on Christmas Eve for my family.  It was impromptu, it was unrehearsed, but it was perfect.  A show pulls together people's talents and personalities and lets them work together to accomplish a goal of entertaining their audience, which in our case, was our family.  Anytime I've put on a "show" with my brothers, it has always been time well spent with them and with our audience.
*Note: the word 'show' could also stand for 'party' or 'celebration' or anything that you are putting together that involves people and happiness.

8. Spazzing out happens to the best of us.

It is inevitable that Kermit will go ballistic during an episode of the Muppet Show or in any of the Muppet Movies (those that have been made and are yet to be made).  Stress, too much on our plate, wanting things to go perfectly, etc. are all things that make even those we admire go a little crazy sometimes.  And that's okay.  Just remember to say sorry to the people you hurt during your spazz out time.

9. We all need friends who believe in us.

Kermit is a smart guy.  He always surrounds himself with a wide variety of friends: comedians, musicians, scientists, astronauts, celebrities, hecklers, and a whatever.  While Kermit is always the glue that holds the craziness of his friends together, his friends also believe deeply in his dreams.  Without question.  They always had his back when he ran into a problem.  They always trusted Kermit to know what was right, even if he had no clue.  Everyone can use friends like that.

10. What we do isn't about us.  It is to make people happy.

I've never considered myself a people person.  I never pictured myself on the mission field or nursing someone back to health, but as I've matured I've realized nothing has made me as happy as when I have helped others.  I've been most unhappy in career fields where my work did not benefit the well-being of people, but rather the well-being of profit.  For me at least, working only for personal gain makes me miserable.  But working knowing that someone else has been made happy because of my work, or because of something I've done, that is an immeasurable feeling.

To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.  That is to have succeeded."