Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Feelin' Fine in the O-9!

Happy New Year everybody!!! We had a very low-key New Year's Eve this year. (It must be pretty low-key...I'm writing about it in past-tense and the clock hasn't even struck 12 here yet!)  Originally we thought we might get together with my family, but everybody and their baby (literally) is sick! So that wass a no-go. Then we thought we might go celebrate with some friends, but Jeremy had to work (at 10:30)  and the get-together wasn't starting till 8-ish, so we opted to just stay home. 

We relaxed in our jammies, ate cheese, crackers and made a small dent in the biggest Hillshire Farms beef log you've ever seen (way too big for two people...anyone want some leftovers? *hehe*) and watched DVD's till it was time for him to leave. Then we toasted to the New Year early with the sparkling red grape juice that I had to search SIX different stores for earlier today.

Now I'm channel surfing between the ridiculous variety of New Years Eve countdown shows. I've stayed mainly on ABC even though I was really disturbed by Dick Clark's appearance earlier. Did anyone else see this?  I understand that he's been on the show for a really long time and he's kind of a sentimental New Year's Eve tradition...but isn't seeing him like that more depressing than anything? Maybe I'm out of line here, but I found it really sad. 

Earlier today I took MoJo and Cubby to Petsmart for some good, clean fun (aka: Grooming) Cubby was looking pretty scraggly and since I was taking him for a trim anyway, I decided to bring MoJo along for a bath and a thorough brushing. Wrigley doesn't really need trimmed or brushed and I can bathe him pretty easily, so he didn't get the privilege of going along. Yes, I'm sure he was crushed.  Well I don't know if it's the brushing or if they just have some really great shampoo but I LOVE how soft and fluffy they feel now! And not to mention how lovely they smell. Wish I was made of money so I could indulge in having them "pampered" every couple of weeks. :)

When the three were reunited I decided it was a good time for some photos. Here are some of my favorites!
A New Year's Kiss!! :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shoppin' till we're Droppin'

Day 7

We began the day in Chelsea Market, a shopping center set in an old warehouse. It's home to many cute little bakeries and cafes and the second floor actually holds The Food Network headquarters! It had a neat, rustic vibe and was decorated beautifully for Christmas. 
Of course, we couldn't pass the plethora of bakeries without picking up a treat or two. How CUTE is this cupcake?!? The bakery it came from was the cutest yet...but the lady scolded me when I whipped out my camera to take pictures of the variety of goodies. You just wouldn't believe the detail.  Jeremy swears it was the best blueberry muffin he's ever had and actually one of his favorite snacks in the city! The Sesame Street cupcakes were in the window of another bakery. Aren't they impressive? I think if I lived in NYC I would gain 20 pounds on cupcakes alone! They're just too cute to resist!
The rest of the day was spent shopping in Greenwich Village, SoHo, Washington Square and Union Square. This was one of my favorite days, but I have the fewest photos to show for it! One of those afternoons where you're too busy "experiencing" to mess with documentation, y'know? 

We visited a darling bookstore called Books of Wonder which The Shop Around The Corner from "You've Got Mail" was actually based on. We went to a Trader Joe's grocery store and hob-knobbed with REAL New Yorkers as they shopped for their overpriced groceries. *hehe*  I was excited to find a "scrapbook store" which was teeny tiny and didn't have anything I hadn't seen, but it made me happy to know that at least some New Yorkers can enjoy my favorite hobby. :) 

Another favorite stop was a store called Fish's Eddy.  I've never been so excited about dishes before. *haha* It was the NEATEST place! Thad had such unique things, some of it kitschy, some of it classic. I wanted to pack it all up and bring it home. Alas, we just brought home a few things from their New York City collection

Have you ever seen "August Rush?" The park where the little boy plays his guitar (and eventually unknowingly meets his father) is Washington Square. Y'know, with the huge arch and fountain? I was so excited to go see it and we both hoped to see some street performers like in the movie. Well just our luck, the whole park was closed down for construction! Phooey. The area is still beautiful, though, with gorgeous row houses (called the Washington Mews) directly across the street. 

For lunch, we visited Jeremy's idea of Heaven. Peanut Butter & Co. Not only had we read about it in our guidebooks, we saw a special on Food Network about it. They sell a variety of interpretations of the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They have different flavors of peanut butter (like chocolate, honey, white chocolate, etc.) Along with our sandwiches we ordered their cute little sample platter which let you try all of their different flavors. Jeremy was really in hog heaven. I left with a recipe book and a VERY stuffed husband (he had a cookie and about 1/10 of a "Death By Peanut Butter Sundae.") He was ill but he certainly enjoyed himself while it lasted. *haha*

That evening we took the Staten Island Ferry because:
a.) It was free!
b.) We'd heard it would give us a great view of the Statue of Liberty.

Well....yes it was free but the view didn't seem any better to us than it had been from the shore. 

Monday, December 29, 2008

So in love...

I have a couple quick stories to share just because I LOVE my husband and recently have been even more aware than usual just how blessed I am to have such a sweet guy in my life.

We went to see "Marley & Me" yesterday afternoon. Why I do not know, because I knew going in that it had a sad ending, because everyone who has read the book already told me so. And because let's face's a dog movie! ALL dog movies are sad!! I wanted to see it anyway and it turned out to be a very cute little family movie. But DANG! I had trouble holding it together. And everytime I thought I'd gotten control of myself - BAM! They'd hit ya harder!! Part of me thinks they constructed it that way on purpose, just trying to milk as many tears from the audience as possible. But then again it's a true story, and it wasn't completely unrealistic either. At one point I gasped, "GOOD GRIEF!" into my kleen-ex because I couldn't believe how emotional I was getting. My family will find this hard to believe because I have the staunch reputation of being the least emotional person in my family...but I REEEEEALLY cried in this one. *haha*

I looked at the lady on my left...not a bit of wetness in or around her eyes. She didn't even look sad! What kinda of stone-hearted cat-lover doesn't cry in this movie? ;) Then I looked over at Jeremy...and much to my surprise and joy, he was crying!!! *awww* Not sobbing like his ridiculous wife, but his eyes were quite misty and I think I even spotted a tear-trail running down his cheek.  It was so sweet, I fell a little more in love with him right then and there. 

Afterwards we were laughing about what saps we were and he jokingly said, "Kinda makes you wanna go home and love on the doggies doesn't it?" I laughed like, "Yeah it sure does!" but then he said, "No seriously...let's go home." I never in a million years would have thought that this man, who never had a dog growing up or gave 2 cents about having one of his own, would ever come to love these little furballs as much as I do. It's SO cute!! And completely endearing. I love him so much! 

Then a couple weeks ago we were walking around Wal-Mart, completely cracking each other up with random (and terrible) TV character impersonations. It was just one of those moments when we were both in equally crazy-silly moods and couldn't stop laughing. Everyone around us probably thought we were drunk or high, but frighteningly enough we were acting this way completely sober!

In the produce department we began hopping from black tile to black know, like a four year old would do. And this little girl that was nearby, who was probably around 8 or 9, stared at us in the most disparaging way and said to her sister. "LOOK at those 20-year olds....playing around like they were kids or something!" I died laughing.  For one thing...20-YEAR OLDS? Wow kid, thanks for the compliment. *hehe* And secondly, I'm just SO grateful to be married to someone as goofy as me. Not only doesn't he judge me for being silly, he JOINS me. We have so much fun together. 

Sorry to get sappy on y'all. I know this blog's title isn't "Just a Bit of Sappiness, Really." *hehe* I'll come back next time with another NYC post, I promise!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

2 posts in one day?

Well I guess I've got a lot to say! *haha*

Is this weather crazy or what? Yesterday we were in the 60's, thinking Spring had sprung too early...then last night that thought was backed up with a full blown thunder storm! (When I thought I saw lightning through my blinds I told myself I was nuts! Then came the thunder...what a crazy night!) Then today we had a beautiful, mini-blizzard! And now the sun is out, shining bright! Total weirdness. 

I wanted to get out in the falling snow for a while, so I loaded the doggies up in the car and we went for a drive. Hmmm...where shall we drive to? Why not Andover to visit ScrapFunattic? *hehe*  I have that freshly acquired Christmas cash burning a hole in my pocket, after all, so it was a natural place to visit. 

I picked up two Basic Grey paper packs that I've been wanting for quite sometime... Offbeat & Urban Prairie. They didn't have the extras that I wanted (like the chipboard and rubons) so I guess I'll be ordering those from 2P's.  But they did have this new Valentine's Day paper from Fancy Pants that is too cute for words. I think this is becoming one of my favorite companies. They continue to make the CUTEST stuff!!

I had seen this paper pad from Die Cuts With a View before but this time I decided that I had to have it. I'm a sucker for cupcakes and candy. :) 
So thanks, Mom and Dad, for the mullah that powered my little shopping spree! *hehe*

I'd like to share my Christmas photos with you, but since I'm feeling lazy, we're going to try something different. I've already posted them all on Facebook, so I'm going to provide the links here. You should be able to view them even if you don't have an account on Facebook. If you have problems, just let me know and I'll come up with a new solution.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Central Park & the WEST SIDE!

Let's get back to NYC, shall we?
Day 6

Jeremy and I are big Seinfeld fans....well, I'm a fan. Jeremy's more of a fanatic. *haha* He's seen every single episode of the show, most of them probably a dozen times. We watch the show almost nightly on TV and we also own the entire series on DVD so occasionally we'll pop in a season and have a little marathon. SO, knowing that much of Seinfeld was filmed in New York City, we had to stop by at least one of the show's landmarks. Tada! 
This view of Tom's Restaurant (which they called "Monk's" in the show) is shown in just about every episode. It's really iconic. We went there first thing Sunday morning for breakfast. They never actually filmed inside the restaurant since the show was filmed on a soundstage, but it was still so cool to see!

Then our afternoon was spent at the American Museum of Natural History. You know, where "Night At The Museum" is supposed to take place. I'm not sure they actually filmed any of that in the real museum, but I did manage to offer some "Gum Gum" to the "Dum Dum." :)

I wanted to walk around the Upper West Side neighborhood near the museum, so that's where we headed next. It's the ritzy side of town where "Nanny Diaries" and "You've Got Mail" were filmed, and incidentally where I would want to live if I were a New Yorker. The row houses are SO charming. We also found Cafe Lalo, which was in "You've Got Mail." Remember the place where Meg Ryan sits with the book and rose waiting to meet her pen pal? This is the place! 

Another reason I'd want to live on the Upper West Side is that it's home to a little restaurant called P'inch & S'mac. They sell pizza by the inch and AMAZING varieties of the best food known to man: macaroni & cheese.  You can choose what type of cheese and if you want you can add different meat and veggies. It was divine. Had I been myself with full appetite, I could have easily eaten much more. I chose the all-american cheese mix with hot dogs mixed in. Doesn't get more comfort-food than that, does it? :) We made our way back on our last day when I was feeling better so I could really enjoy myself. *haha*

With full tummies we headed to Central Park, though by now the temperature was dropping rapidly and it was getting quite windy. If I may be more specific about my preferred New York accommodations, I would like an Upper West Side row house within comfortable walking distance to Central Park. What an amazing place! And considering that it was so beautiful with bare trees, I can only imagine how stunning it must be during the rest of the year. My favorite parts were the Castle (which we got to climb to the top of) and Bethesda Fountain (that can be seen in many, many New York movies, including "Enchanted.")

Have you heard of Magnolia Bakery? It's positively famous! I think they went there on Sex & The City and that's one of the reasons it's become so popular now. We stumbled upon it after we left Central Park and we popped inside to warm up...and indulge in a cupcake of course. Well I think Jeremy had a brownie or something, but I saw this snowman cupcake and COULD NOT resist. 
This was the evening we'd planned on taking a carriage ride and we followed through with that plan despite the frigid temperature and wind. Luckily they provided a thick, cozy blanket and we snuggled together with our hot chocolate, so the cold wasn't that bad.

Wonderful Christmastime!

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas 2008!  Though overshadowed early in the week by lot's of sickness in my family, everyone was well enough to celebrate by Christmas Eve! I was so relieved that we didn't have to "cancel Christmas." Jeremy did have to work both nights, which meant he had to sleep most of yesterday away, which was kind of a bummer. 

Once he got up we opened our presents to each other (and for the puppies) and then headed over to Lauren & Rich's for our gift exchange and dinner. I always love spending time with my family...and those two precious kiddos make Christmas even more fun. Livvie was so into opening presents this year. When we got there on Christmas eve the first words she spoke were, "We gonna open presents?!" And we told her, "Not yet, but soon!" "OK!" she'd say. And of course she loves her "Jernomy," which is always fun to see.  (Pictures of the whole shebang coming soon.)

I hauled in an impressive amount of Christmas loot, including many pairs of new, comfy P.J.'s.  Lauren and Rich gave me the Storybook & Graphically Speaking Cricut cartridges I've been wanting....which is super! I'm hoping they'll give me a new burst of inspiration to get me back into my Scrapbook room. :)  Jeremy gave me the Jillian Michael's Fitness "game" for my Wii Fit. It has new exercises you can use the Wii Balance Board with so I'm excited to test that out. And my Mom and Dad have supplied me with the funds to do some after Christmas shopping, which is great because I could really use some new jeans. *haha* 

Last night I watched "Prancer" on TV after Jeremy went to work. I remember seeing it in the theater when it first came out when I was 6 years old. I don't know how it kept my attention at that age, though. It's a pretty sad, slow little movie! But I have to say I was kinda impressed by the little girl's acting. She was very believable!

Well I'm sorry that I still haven't finished posting about my NYC trip. I'll try to get the last few days up real soon!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Brooklyn baby!

Day 5

One thing I really wanted to do in NYC was have "brunch" in one of the trendy little neighborhoods, like Greenwich Village or SoHo (South Of HOuston St). We did so, at a place called Bubby's in Tribeca (TRIangle BElow CAnal St) which has a pretty big following for their brunch and their pies (didn't get to have a pie...bummer!). Their pancakes were light and fluffy, and dusted with powdered sugar. Pretty as a picture! See?
The stuff on the left was listed as "crusty cheese grits" which brought to mind the amazing Southern-style grits my Mom makes every New Years. (*ahem* MOM! New Years is coming! Don't forget! *hehe*) Alas, these were more like the runny, soupy grits I've seen at breakfast buffets like Shoney's, except a touch better because of the gooey cheesy topping.  Luckily I was having a better day stomach-wise, so everything tasted better than the previous (or following) days.

From there we took the subway into the heart of the Financial District...which isn't an exceptionally exciting place on a Saturday morning. My bad. But it was walking distance to the pier and Battery Park where we froze our tootsies off to see Lady Liberty....WAAAAY off in the distance. 
It was so cold (and windy) on this day that Jeremy, Mr. "It's not cold out here! I'll wear shorts & a tshirt all year long!" bought a scarf from one of the street vendors. It was COLD. 
We took shelter inside the South Street Seaport shopping complex for a while...but eventually it was time to face our major goal of the day: to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Though as we were making our way to the base of this massive structure we were questioning this mission, every stinkin' guidebook had told us it was something we must experience.  So we forged ahead. I'm glad we did...we got some really spectacular views. Plus, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the few things that lived up to its perceived scale when seeing it in person. It's just MASSIVE!!! 
After we got across, we headed to Grimaldi's for their famous brick-oven New York style pizza. Um, apparently this place is a little TOO famous! As we approached we got a glimpse of the line outside. But dang it, we'd come this far for the stuff, we weren't going to let this line deter us from our quest. Well, had I known that we would be waiting in that line for over an hour & a half, I might have been a little less willing. By the time we got inside I was absolutely FROZEN to my core! BRRRRR! 
One thing about New York that is so different from any other place I've been is the lack of personal space. I guess it comes from constantly being crammed in the subway with a crowd or pushing your way through the masses on the streets, but New Yorkers do not seem to be bothered at all by close proximity to complete strangers. At Grimaldi's, for example, the tables were set up in rows like at a cafeteria or a family reunion, and people were just crammed together with NO wiggle room to speak of! I could have whispered in the ear of the lady sitting next to me! It's so bizarre! Oh, but you're probably wondering if the pizza was worth the wait? See for yourself. Pretty mouthwatering! 
Grimaldi's is right off the Brooklyn shore, offering some amazing views of both the bridge and the Manhattan skyline.  We were there at just the right time, too. Dusk was settling so lights were beginning to glisten, but it was still bright enough to see the outlines of everything. Had it not been so cold I'm sure we would have lingered longer.
It's also right across from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, which we had to sample. I shivered the whole time I ate that ice cream but it truly was delicious! *haha* The funny thing was that the place was packed with other bundled up, freezing tourists, all enjoying this Summery treat! 
This is the evening that Jeremy really saved our lives with his map-reading skills and ability to keep his cool under stress. Brooklyn is a whole different world, the streets aren't as easy to decipher as Manhattan is. Plus everything is much more spread out. We went to the IKEA there in Brooklyn, which was particularly difficult to find since we (oops, I!) didn't have the right subway stop written down. That adventure involved eventually hailing a cab and both of us getting nauseous because of the driver' driving. (Also probably had something to do with the pizza and ice cream, don't ya think? *haha*) 

From there the plan was to visit this little neighborhood called Dyker Heights that I saw on a Christmas lights special on HGTV last year. It's several blocks of Griswald houses, if you know what I mean. Well when I'd researched it online, I couldn't find any decisive directions beyond just the general area. I ended up just writing down the subway stop closest to Dyker Heights. Not nearly enough information to get us there, but in my mind I guess I'd pictured us stepping off the subway right into the middle of the North Pole. Ridiculous. Instead we stepped off into this completely normal Brooklyn retail district with Dunkin Donuts & dry cleaners. Not a sketchy neighborhood really, but far from what we were expecting. And did I mention it had begun to snow?  Yeah, quite heavily actually. 

So at this point I was mildly panicky, realizing we didn't have any idea where we needed to go. I was ready to load back onto the subway and head back to Manhattan because frankly, Brooklyn was freakin' me out a little.  Well Jeremy doesn't give up that easily and while he was annoyed with the very little information we had (because of me) he spotted "Dyker Heights Park" on his map and decided that would be a good direction to head in. So we trudged along for a few minutes, silently praying that we would just stumble upon some kind of miracle.

Our miracle appeared in the form of a young couple wearing penguin and polar bear snow caps. Jeremy asked as they were passing us from the opposite direction, "Hey, are you guys from around here?" "No sorry," they answered, and continued to walk. Then the guy (wearing the penguin hat) stopped and said, "But what are you guys looking for?" "The Dyker Heights lights," we responded and they both smiled real big and said, "Oh! We just came from there!!!" Hallelujah!!  They were SOO nice...they gave us excellent directions and even gave us a tip on a coffee place they'd stopped at on their way back. Secretly I wanted to follow them around because they seemed like the nicest little couple and anyone wearing hats that looked like polar creatures are my kinda people! ;)

We finally found the neighborhood and even though some of the houses had already turned their lights off by the time we got there (Scrooges, it was only 9:30!) it was still a very Christmassy experience, what with the snow and all. :) 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Top Of The Rock, to ya!

Sorry I'm slow getting on with my posts about NYC. Seems that current life needs to get in the way now and then! Even though we had a splendid (yes, splendid!) time on vacation, I really do feel as though I lost a week! Coming back home and being so close to Christmas with absolutely NOTHING Christmassy accomplished is a bit overwhelming.  I've never been 10 days away from Christmas with no decorations up...until NOW! *haha* But since our home renovation project still isn't completed and the furniture isn't even in place, it seems absurd to bring in MORE "clutter," even if it is Christmas clutter. So just as I'd feared initially, the decor will be very minimal this year. I'm going to yank out the little 4 footer tree that normally goes in my Scrapbook room, and prop it up on a table. Gotta pull the stockings out too, but other than that I don't really see the point. Kinda makes me sad, but like I said in an earlier post, I understand the trade-off. Spend a week in the most decorated city in the world - don't decorate as much at home. So be it.

Now let's remember some more of that trip, shall we?

Day 4

When planning this trip I read repeatedly that, if wanting an excellent view of the city, we should choose the Top of the Rock (the Rockefeller Building) and not the Empire State Building. The E.S.B. has chain mesh all around, blocking the view, plus the crowds are apparently horrendous and the elevators are slow, making for long waits. So even though my idea of a trip to NYC always included going to the top of the E.S.B, we opted for the Top of the Rock instead. Plus they have a Sunrise/Sunset package where you can go up twice in the same day; once during daylight and once after sunset! I thought that was great!

The views really were spectacular! I could have stayed up there for hours. Unfortunately, my poor hubby is much more afraid of heights than I ever realized. I mean, this is the guy who goes on crazy roller coasters with me! But it was all I could do to even get him close enough to the edge to take these pictures. He just kinda hung out in the center of the platform. He was a good sport but clearly the whole thing made him very uneasy. And he didn't appreciate me leaning over to get shots like this: 
But I made it up to him by traveling over 45 minutes by subway to eat at a steak place in Brooklyn he wanted to go to. It's been voted the best steak in New York for 25 years runnin', and my carnivorous husband couldn't resist that! We got a little lost when making a subway transfer, but we managed to arrive in time for our reservation. The prices were OUTRAGEOUS but I will have to admit, it's about the juiciest steak I've ever tasted. Jeremy was in red meat Heaven. 
One thing that was kinda cool...they served the steak on this platter that was SIZZLING hot. Literally! So if you didn't think the steak looked like it was cooked enough, you could just put the piece on the side of the tray for a minute and it would cook it some more! Crazy. Definitely one of those, "Please don't touch the plate, it's very hot" moments. *haha*

With full tummies we headed back into Manhattan, specifically Rockefeller Center, so we could take a quick glance at the tree. That area was just ridiculously packed. I don't normally get antsy in crowds but this was beyond what even I'm comfortable with. 

The insanity was well worth it, however, because on the edge of Rockefeller Center lies a wonderland I've dreamt of visiting since I was a child: The American Girl store!!! *hooray!!!* I would've dragged Jeremy in here anyway, but it was even more fun because Lauren recently snagged a Kit doll for Livvie off of Ebay, so we "needed" to go! See? That's great logic, right? 

Talk about chaos!! Toss about a billion excited, squealing little girls and their exhausted, broke parents into a fairly small space and you get quite a mess. 
Jeremy was way out of his league, but I found it all quite amusing. 

After we dropped our AG purchases off at the hotel room we headed out for our dinner location, a BBQ Jazz Club called Jazz Standard. It was fun to take in a live Jazz show, neither one of us had ever had that kind of experience before. The food was really good, too. I didn't take any pictures in was kinda shwanky and I didn't want people looking at me weird. :)

Then we had to take advantage of the Sunset portion of our Top of the Rock package. Jeremy was thrilled, as you can imagine. ;) But the views at night were well worth his discomfort, in my opinion. *hehe*