Friday, May 27, 2016

I think it's time for a big update!

Well, this space has been pretty quiet until recently and I think it's time to catch up!  As per usual, life is super busy and time is flying.  I really can't believe it's almost June and my calendar is already filling up for the summer.

We're planning our next big trip: We're headed to Hawaii in September!  On our anniversary last year, we were sitting in the bar of the hotel where we had our wedding reception, looking at pictures of my cousin's honeymoon in Hawaii.  While we were hanging out, we ended up chatting with a couple older than our parents about our plans to visit Italy.  When they advised us to "take five years and travel every where you want to go before you have kids," I thought well five years is a bit much (considering I'm turning 30 this year), but one year + two weeks in Hawaii sounds like a pretty great plan!  We will be island hopping from Oahu to Kauai to Maui and our itinerary is already taking shape with things like stand up paddle board lessons, snorkeling in a nature preserve, a helicopter ride, and stuffing our faces with all the tuna poke we can get our hands on.  I'm trying not to wish away the entire summer, but I absolutely can't wait!


Our master bathroom renovation is finished: When we moved into our house, we knew we wanted to redo the master bathroom so we moved into another bedroom and left the master as a makeshift guest bedroom.  It seemed like a silly decision when we still hadn't done anything with the bathroom over a year later, but when we finally ripped everything out with our dads and then brought in the contractor, our choice was fully confirmed!  Our contractor ended up using the bedroom as as storage area and workshop and we were more than happy to not have the contractor and the construction dust in our bedroom every day.  The entire project took about a month and half and since we have other bathrooms, the somewhat relaxed schedule did not bother us at all.  Brian was was very easy to communicate with and the bathroom came out exactly how we envisioned it, I would absolutely recommend him!



 






We still need to add some finishing touches to the bathroom like art, curtains, and rugs, but for now we are just enjoying the fancy new shower!  Our next planned project is to paint the master bedroom and finally move in.  Now if we could just find an open weekend...

I'm the Athlete of the Month:  After coaching cheerleading for 15 years, I can't exactly just turn that side of myself off, so coming to the gym with some enthusiasm and cheering for other people is just me being myself.  But I was seriously blown away when my coach sent me this message:
I am starting an athlete of the month in May and I would like for the first one to absolutely be you. I seriously wish more members were brought the energy you bring to every class. You definitely make everyone feel awesome by cheering for them but also you work very hard and always push yourself which definitely inspires people to do the same.  You definitely deserve it. When I posted the video of you doing the burpees with Lindsay people went nuts it was really awesome.
There was a little Q&A on the website and more shout outs throughout the month.  I guess I felt like I had to live up to my title because in May I PRed my back, front, and overhead squats as well as my snatch.  I also started hitting the gym at 6 am again because it insured that I make it there now that the weather is getting nice and my schedule is filling up.  It really meant so much to get recognized for my efforts!  I seriously love CrossFit Valley Forge :D


I'm doing a June Whole30:  Although my efforts in the gym have been worth mentioning, my diet... not so much!  I participated in a healthy habits challenge with my box and let's just say I was pretty liberal with any and all the loopholes in the Eat Real Food category.  And we all know how great I do with moderation.  Time to get Mission Abs for Hawaii back on track.  So back to the rules I go!  Anybody interested in joining?  I have a few people in my FB support group joining me, yay!


So are you guys sick of reading about Whole30 yet?  I don't think I'm going to post very much about this, maybe a highlight here or there.  Before and after pictures, yay or nay?



 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Our Second Anniversary

Dave and I have been married for 2 years!  Wow, time really does fly.


Since our first anniversary was so awesome, the bar was set pretty high for this year's celebration.  Dave and I agreed to skip doing any gifts since all of our extra money has been going into house projects and we're planning a big trip for the fall.  So when we won a $100 gift card to any Stephen Starr restaurant in the city a few months ago, we knew just when we'd use it.  We perused the choices, but after a friend told us we had to try Morimoto (as in the iron chef!), we decided to book it for the Saturday before our anniversary.

Our evening started with a train ride downtown with tons of rowdy kids on the train.  Apparently there was some electric dance concert geared at high schoolers where they throw wet paint on you.  The conductor warned us to watch where we sat on our way home... 

Our first stop was The Franklin Bar, a cool speak easy style spot, hidden down stairs, that only admits as many patrons as there are seats.  We got there not long after they opened for the evening and were sat immediately.  The menu was full of elaborate drinks with silly names and some ingredients that were a mystery to me.


I settled on the Willy Wonka inspired three course tasting menu, which started with The Golden Ticket, a delicious take on a pina colada, which was my favorite of the three.  The second drink was The Everlasting Gobstopper, which was warm!  I thought it tasted like Thanksgiving in a glass.  The final drink was The Fizzy Lifting Drink, which I was really excited for but I actually hated.  The server informed us that it was supposed to taste like an adult root beer with sarsaparilla.  I thought it tasted like a gross jaeger bomb.


We ended up chatting with the couple next to us the entire time since she ordered the same thing.  It was fun to compare our thoughts on the different drinks.  The tasting ended with a small dollop of some type of minty ice cream and I got the golden ticket!


The server gave us two golden tickets, which were good for a free drink upstairs, so we headed up to the other bar to grab one more beverage before we left.  How fun is this shark drink?!


Our next stop was Morimoto.  When we arrived, we were surprised to find out that they had no record of my reservation!  I pulled up my email from OpenTable but still nothing.  I was starting to get kind of upset, thinking is this going to completely ruin our night?  And then they sat us immediately!  I was still feeling a little stressed until our amazing waitress Alice came over and all my worries disappeared.


After we each picked a cocktail, we decided on one order of the eight course seasonal tasting menu and five additional selections, all to share, so we could taste as many things as possible.  And just in case thirteen different dishes weren't enough, the chef sent out a complimentary smoked salmon appetizer.  I have no idea why I didn't bring my camera along, but please understand that between the mood lighting and the quality of my phone camera, these pictures really do NOT do the food any justice! 


Our tasting menu started with one of my favorite dishes of the entire meal, the tuna tartare topped with caviar.  I love tuna and this dish was perfect.


The next dish was something we picked off the menu, the lobster ceviche salad.  It was so fresh and bright.


Then we had our second tasting menu item, a cold udon noodle dish with skipjack tuna, a soft boiled egg, onion, and crunchy seaweed.  The tuna was tasty, but this dish was not one of my favorites.


Our tasting menu continued with a sashimi sampler with delicious tuna belly, swordfish, and more.  Oh and one little soft shell crab on the end that Dave claimed before I even had a chance!


Next up was a dish we selected, the 10 hour pork 'kakuni' which was braised pork belly with hot rice porridge.  This was amazing!  The pork belly was absolutely delicious.


Our fourth tasting menu item was barbecue squid with foie gras and a foamy apple puree.  I wasn't sure how I would like the foie gras, knowing that it is duck liver... but there is a reason it's a delicacy.  It tasted pretty great on its own and even better with the squid, which was so good.


At this point, we were served small palate cleansing drinks.


The fifth dish on our tasting menu was a live diver scallop.  I wrote down that it came with a chocolate sauce, but I don't remember the chocolate taste being very overwhelming.  The scallop was tasty, but I think I would've preferred it wrapped in bacon and covered in butter haha.


Our next course was the entrĂ©e special of the evening, duck served with pickled strawberries, white asparagus, and a red miso emulsion.  The duck was perfectly cooked and so tender.


And then, the dish we had been anticipating all night!  We kept seeing a skillet come out to other tables with some kind of meat and it smelled amazing.  So when they placed the sizzling Wagyu beef down on our table, I could've have been happier.  The server asked us if we were comfortable with this kind of dish, I'm guessing since the beef was pretty rare (it was browned on the skillet-down side), and we replied that we had been waiting for it!  The beef was from Japan and it melted in your mouth.  It was definitely a highlight of the evening.


At this point we were starting to get a little full, but we knew we were almost there when the sushi sampler came out as the seventh course in our tasting.


Our final selections off the menu were a spicy tuna roll and some swordfish, which were both excellent, but we probably could've skipped them.  Dave was super full, but I wasn't leaving anything behind.


Our meal ended with the eighth item in our tasting, a mango pudding with green tea sorbet.  The pudding was ok but we really enjoyed the sorbet.  We also received complimentary champagne for our anniversary, but at that point in the meal I was basically done putting anything else in my stomach!


The meal was pretty expensive but so worth it (and that gift card really helped too)!  The service was wonderful, each course was perfectly timed.  We were never rushed through a dish, but never waited very long for the next one.  Every time something new was delivered, we received a thorough description of each component.  The food was absolutely amazing.  It was fun letting the chef surprise us throughout our three hour dinner and I'm so happy we were able to try so many different things.  It was a meal I will not soon forget!

Unlike dinner, our train ride home is something I'd like to forget as soon as possible!  We were on cloud nine reminiscing about our meal as we walked to the train station, when we were surrounded by a pack of two dozen paint soaked teens.  It was obvious they were headed to the train station, but it wasn't until we arrived that I really grasped the gravity of the situation.  They were everywhere!  The train station and all the platforms were littered with sopping wet teens, drenched in paint, looking a bit less lively than earlier.  The girls were all in basically nothing and all looked freezing since it wasn't nearly as warm as when we arrived in the city earlier.

We huddled with a group of non painted people on the platform and pondered if we were officially old (since we were saying things like "our kids will never do anything like this") until the train arrived and the mad rush to the door began.  People were pushing and shoving and I just didn't want to touch anybody.  Luckily, we found seats right by the door of the car and sat down with some people who were not bright pink!  The train was packed with the aisles full of people forced to stand and it seemed like we were never going to leave.  And that's when the guy two seats behind us started to seriously annoy me...

Although they weren't painted, we were sitting with a bunch of high school kids who had apparently enjoyed some Jack Daniels at the Dierks Bentley concert.  One kid specifically thought it was hilarious to yell whatever random thing came into his head, mostly terrible rap lyrics that the whitest white boy from Royersford was not doing any justice.  Half of his friends thought he was funny, the other half seemed just as annoyed as we were.  We were barely out of the city, when the "are we there yet" started on repeat.  When the entire train started chanting for someone to kiss, suddenly two transit police appeared and we had some relief.

Everyone was pretty quiet and I was starting to relax a little bit when we started to see a little situation develop.  There was a man standing at the door and when he first spoke to the transit cop, I thought maybe he was mentally disabled.  He was missing quite a bit of teeth, struggling to communicate, and just kind of off.  The cop was trying to explain to him that he was on the wrong train completely and said she was going to help him at the next stop.  I started to feel concerned for the man when she walked away to deal with something, but we had zero interaction.  He was looking forward at the door the entire time, holding onto the handle to keep himself steady.  I felt relieved when she returned, knowing she was going to help him.

That's when things took a turn!  She asked him if he was ok and he said no, that everyone was picking on him and to tell them to stop.  When she asked him who, he looked over at us, pointed directly at Dave and then followed up with the words "I'll f*cking kill you!"  We were like WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!  Out of all the loud obnoxious drunk people on this train, this guy picked Dave as his tormentor?!  At this point, it was obvious the guy was definitely on drugs and I never felt happier to be in the presence of a police officer!  She quickly diffused the situation and they both got off at the next stop.

The train ride from hell continued with more screaming from the previously mentioned annoying kid and the hatred was brewing inside me as the train car kept getting warmer and warmer.  Thankfully the kids we were sitting with were not drunk and we had a nice time chatting with them... and making fun of their friend.  By the end of the ride, I was completely fed up with him.  I may or may not have told him to shut his big mouth and offered to punch him in the dick... but I kept things classy and soon enough we were off the train.

I'm still in disbelief that such a wonderful evening had such a terrible ending... but it is an anniversary I'm sure we won't forget!



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Lovely Weekend in Houston

I cannot believe we're already halfway through April!  Dave and I kicked off the month with a long weekend in Houston and I've been meaning to post about it for over a week now!  We went to visit our friends Mike and Jen (the friends who gifted us this amazing quilt).  We had the date of our visit planned for months and the flights seemed kind of steep.  It never occurred to me that we were headed to Houston the same weekend as the Final Four.  When Villanova made it, I was extremely glad I had already purchased our flights since the price tripled!  After that, everyone was asking us if we were going to attend the game while we were there.  We entertained the idea for a moment, but the tickets in the nosebleed section of the football stadium were over 200 bucks and the legit seats were $500!  It was still pretty fun to be headed down with all the Nova fans on Friday though!  I only went to Villanova for 3 graduate level classes, but I met Dave there so it will always hold a special place in my heart.  Congrats Nova!


Anyway, after a pretty turbulent flight down, we started our weekend with an awesome dinner at a place called Local Pour.  Everyone enjoyed a bunch of craft beers from their huge selection and I had a honey cider made in Texas.  Apparently it didn't occur to me to take any pics, but we started with goat cheese bruschetta and some ahi tuna that were both seriously amazing.  Everyone enjoyed their entrees, but for me the real star of the show was the chocolate mousse cake!  We went home full and ready to just relax and catch up.  We sipped on cocktails and caught up until I was falling asleep on the couch and finally put myself to bed.

Saturday we all slept in and then kicked the day off with a tasty homemade breakfast of french toast topped with bourbon peaches and pecans with sausage and strawberries.


After our bellies were full, we headed out for the day.  Our first stop was a trip to Top Golf, a fancy electronic driving range where you can play different games against your friends and enjoy fun cocktails in flashing light up golf bag shaped cups :)  I was pleasantly surprised when I hit the ball way better than I expected!  It was a really cool concept and we had a lot of fun.



Next on our agenda was Karbach Brewing Co. where the weather was literally perfect for enjoying their large outdoor biergarten with live music, corn hole, and a food truck.  For $12 you got a souvenir pint glass and 3 beers, talk about a deal!  I was enjoying their Weisse Versa and it was the first time I've drank a bunch of beer in a while.  It was really hitting the spot and we got some "gaucho fries" which were topped with grilled Brazilian sausage, house-made creamy chipotle mayo, parmesan cheese and green onions.  I also crushed it in corn hole and got all 4 bags in on one turn, like a boss!  By the time we were leaving, we were almost sunburned and a little tipsy.





Our last stop was a cool neighborhood bar, the D&T Drive Inn.  We tried their specialty, a frozen drink of shandy mixed with sangria and it was awesome, right up my alley.  Their patio was super cute and we could see why our friends were fans of the place.




Then we headed back to their place to watch the basketball game.  A couple of their friends came over and we enjoyed some delicious burgers and hung out by the fire pit.

Since we ran around all day Saturday, Sunday started a little on the slow side.  We kicked the day off with a delicious homemade quiche and then just vegged.  I spent the morning outside catching some rays (while it happened to be in the 30s at home in PA) and reading my book.  Jen had to head to a conference for work, so we said goodbye and then it was just the three of us.

The boys and I headed out for a late afternoon bite at a bar right near their house called Tailgators.  We had an appetizer of breaded gator bites which was good, but not nearly as exciting as my first taste of crawfish!  We devoured our first pound and decided to get a second.  Soon the waitress came out confused with a third pound by mistake that we ended up getting for free.  The crawfish required a bit of work, but they were worth it.  They were so good!



After that we headed to the concert venue for the Mumford & Sons show we were going to see that evening.  We parked for free (which was exciting since Philly does not know what this means) and hit up a bar in the area for a little pregaming.


When we got to the show, we rented chairs and staked out a great spot.  The weather was so pleasant and the opening act, Blake Mills, was pretty good.  Mumford & Sons was amazing!






After the concert we grabbed some Whataburger on the way home.  I remembered really liking the burgers when I was teaching cheer camps in Texas the summer after my freshman year of college and it did not disappoint.  I also think it was the only thing that saved me from a wicked hangover the next day haha.

Monday we slept in, packed up, and then stuffed our faces with some Tex Mex.  And said goodbye to this cutie!

 


It was a wonderful weekend :)  A huge thank you to Mike and Jen for showing us such a good time!


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