Seattle & Vancouver!

Thought you got rid of me, huh?

I’m back! With pictures and stories!

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Walking home after dinner

Jon and I recently got back from a weeklong trip to Vancouver & Seattle. Shortly after returning from our trip he ran off to PA to celebrate his mom’s birthday. Unfortunately he’s the one with all of the pictures of the trip! As soon as I can grab those from him, I’ll get them all posted.

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Breakfast in Gastown

Here’s a sneak peek though!

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Sunset Beach in Vancouver

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Kayaking at Kits Beach in Vancouver

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1st day in Vancouver!

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Dinner at a vegetarian restaurant in Vancouver after kayaking

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Had a fantastic trip. 3.5 days in Vancouver and 4 in Seattle. By the end I was definitely convinced that moving to the west coast was a good idea. Especially after we left 65 degree cool weather and landing at JFK only to be greeted by 90 degree hot, humid weather and a packed subway train. Ew.

Vancouver included a LOT of walking. I think we hit 12 miles on the first day and just over 10 miles on the other days. Rented bikes and rode through Stanley Park. Went kayaking in the ocean and saw a seal (which I quickly paddle away from – Jon had spent the previous week telling me about whales lifting kayakers out of the water). Took lots of boat rides to various points around the city and ate lots of delicious sushi!

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Best sushi I’ve ever had

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Fresh berries at a Seattle U District Farmers Market

Sarah was an awesome Seattle tour guide and showed us around to all of her favorite spots that she’s spent the last 8 weeks exploring! Lots of parks, eating (best handmade pasta ever + LOTS of ice cream), walking around, driving tour of all of the sweet craftsman style homes. On the last day we even made it up to Everett to see the official Boeing tour of where they make planes! Another day we headed over on a ferry (Sarah’s first time driving onto a boat) over to Bainbridge Island to hang around for the day.

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In line for the ferry to Bainbridge Island

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Lunch on Bainbridge Island

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Salmon Locks in Seattle

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View from our Airbnb

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More pictures to come 🙂

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Colors of the Wind

Fall has been all around spectacular, weather-wise.  Feels like we’ve had shockingly warm days up until recently (that’s probably not a good thing..) and gorgeous colorful trees. How awesome is it that this is a short 10 minute walk away?! I used to live even closer but I seem to make it to the park even more now.20131105-205033.jpg

Two weekends ago I hopped on a train to Hawthorne to meet up with Barb & Joe so we could all drive up to Ithaca together! The car ride up included a delicious dinner of roasted tomato soup and spicy peanut butter dip made by Aunt Barb – unfortunately not photographed but it was super tasty! We made it to Ithaca around 10pm or so and Mom and Dad were already there with Sarah. Family reunion weekend!

We spent lots of it walking around (or driving around campus rather – it was cold!), seeing lots of pretty fall leaves, catching up and eating tasty food! After a Saturday morning breakfast sampler at Sarah’s apartment, we wandered around campus checking out all of the cool Harry Potter-like buildings. Saturday afternoon we drove up one of the sides of the finger lakes for some wine tasting!

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And I just realized why I have hardly any photos from the weekend… they’re all on Sarah’s phone. Whoops. Well just imagine the tasty food we ate and fall-colored places we walked through.

The highlight meal of the weekend was at Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg, NY. Mom, Dad and Sarah have gone there many times before – to the point of the owner’s knowing who they were.  We ate so much delicious, local food. Celery Root/Root Veggie soup, beet salad, delicious ravioli with brown butter and celery root on top of chinese broccoli, cheese plates, and a bunch of other things that looked great but had meat in them 🙂

The weekend also included a stop at the Ithaca farmers market and two trips to Ithaca Bakery! All around a great and delicious weekend.

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In other fall leafy events, Jon and I finally got to spend a full weekend together (well almost, he works Sundays)! A homemade pancake breakfast was followed by a walk through Prospect Park to see all of the leaves and attempt the NYTimes crossword. In a huge triumph of the weekend, we completed 8 answers on the crossword – only having Googled 2 of those. Progress…

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We made our way down to DUMBO to catch a ferry over to Greenpoint. It unfortunately started raining right before we got there but the good news was we were some of the only people out with an umbrella so a nice guy from Canada came over to ask us questions about the ferry & directions. While we’d like to think we’re just nice to talk to, I think the umbrella was a draw 🙂 Actually he was super cool to talk to! He had driven down the night before from Montreal all to see the Marathon the next day as he was planning on training for one in 2 years! He asked us all sorts of questions about NYC and asked if we had ever been to 30 Rock.. as a matter of fact, Jon goes there every day!

Finally made it to Greenpoint and walked to a cafe that I’ve been waiting to go to forever called Milk & Roses! They have a very cute shop and an even more awesome backyard patio. We both had tea and shared a garlic white bean dip for a snack.

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Walked around Greenpoint/Williamsburg a bit more before going to the Brooklyn night Bazaar. It’s an event held every year on Saturday and Sunday nights throughout the winter. It’s held in a giant warehouse and filled with food vendors, live music and artist displays. I don’t think it was quite like either one of us was expecting but was fun to check out anyway! Shared a giant spinach and feta filled risotto ball – pretty much as delicious as it sounds. When we were both sufficiently tired out we headed back home for apple cider and a movie – Amour (one of the academy award winners this year).

Sunday morning was the marathon! One of my coworkers was running in it so I headed down to 4th Avenue to see her pass by. It was fun to finally see it all happen after hearing about the training for so long – I wasn’t particularly sad that I was watching instead of actually racing though! This picture doesn’t do it justice but there were SO MANY people running it! Some packs of people going by were absolutely insane. We were standing at mile 6 though so people still had a fair amount of energy. I can only imagine what mile 23 looked like..

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Outer Banks [PART 3]

And finally…

Apparently I took quite a number of pictures on vacation. Couldn’t help it! We were constantly surrounded by awesome views, cute kids, sunsets/sunrises and the ocean!

The second to last morning Jon woke me up early to head out to the beach to watch the sunrise. Initially it looked pretty cloudy off in the distance and we were afraid we wouldn’t actually get to see anything. Turns out, it was absolutely gorgeous! So worth the early alarm.

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Almost all of the meals we ate that week were at the house (rotated who cooked) which made it way easier with a 1.5 year old. Plus more fun with the food variety! Jon and I made tacos one of the nights for dinner and we attempted a ginger, lemon soda one day for an afternoon drink. It turned out super gingery but good. I think we still have a bit of work to do 🙂

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Below was the taco meal that we seem to have used all of the bowls in the house for.. Oops.

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Lots and lots of book reading & animal farm playing time!

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Another night Jon and I got to go out on a date night. We went to a fudgery and picked up some fudge before heading down to the water to watch the sunset. Super pretty and definitely not a date you could get in NYC!

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Hannah was my UX test subject for the week. Holy cow are little kids good at using iPads.

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Not pictured was perhaps the best part of the week when we went out to the ocean on the last night to watch the NASA rocket launch over the Atlantic. Seriously. Words do not describe how awesome it was. I was so worried about not being able to see it or mistaking a star for it or something crazy. There was no mistaking this. A huge red and yellow burst of light came from the horizon and we got to watch each part of the takeoff where the various parts explode off of the rocket (not a technical description but you know what I mean…).

Sadly that was the last night there before the long journey back. Jon and I headed out around 10 on Saturday to drive back to Hershey. We decided to make it the full road trip experience and stopped cool, local places along the way. Including a farmer market for fudge to bring back and this awesome little cafe where I had possibly the best smoothie I’ve ever had (mango mojito).

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Stopped in Delaware along the way too on University of Delaware’s campus for some pizza at a quick place I knew of along the main street. Then came the super slow part. There seemed to be no large roads between Delaware and Hershey so we ended up the slowest back route ever. At one point we were caught behind a horse and buggy and the whole situation just seemed hilarious. Eventually we did make it back and unloaded the car (including 2 canoes!) in record time. We’ve had our fair share of unloading and loading things lately. I don’t think we’re ready to start a moving company anytime soon.

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Woke up the next morning bright and early (5am!) to catch Amtrak back to NYC. It’s always a jarring experience to step back into Manhattan via the 34th street station. So many people.

It felt like a crazy long and awesome week and I’m so glad we were able to make the trip down to hang out with Jon’s family!

 

Outer Banks [PART 2]

Continuing the Outer Banks vacation week recap…

After we initially went out in the Jeep to visit the 4×4 beach, it quickly became a favorite and we went back a bunch of times! Jon and I went out one afternoon and he had fun driving around while I kept a lookout for wild ponies. We ended up driving back in the residential part of the 4×4 part of the island and finding some sand dunes to drive around on. Once I was sufficiently nauseous, we headed back to the house for lunch 🙂

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One afternoon we headed to the lighthouse on the island to climb it.

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Hannah was a trooper and made it up a good amount of the stairs all by herself. The constant steps that we do around NYC made these feel like a piece of cake.

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The view from the top was absolutely gorgeous. You could see 360 views of the ocean, sound and the whole island. Pretty sweet!

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Only one more part in this series to go!

 

Outer Banks [PART 1]

Considering it’s almost halfway through October, it seems time to do a recap of my trip to the Outer Banks… over labor day! Yikes. Where in the world has this year gone.

Anyway, Jon and I headed south for an end of summer vacation with his family. We left super early (after Jon had pulled a shift until 1am) to head to Hershey, PA where his parents are. Quick Amtrak trip there and then we got in the car for part two of the trip. Lots and lots of driving – in a manual car which meant Jon had to drive the whole way. Whoops. I haven’t driven since basically graduation time last year.

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I made sure I was extra chatty to keep Jon awake. Plus this week was a new record for the longest time we’ve seen each other every day since.. we were in Portland when we met? I’m not sure, but it feels like it’s been a while.

We had two kayaks loaded up on top and a car filled with things which made it feel extra road-trippy.

This, below, was the world’s longest bridge ever. Seriously the thing ended in a tunnel which turned into another bridge. It was nutso and with some big wind gusts the water was super choppy. I was super glad when we made it to the other side!

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Eventually made it to Corolla late Saturday night. The first thing we did after unpacking the car was head out to the beach (which was about a 3 minute walk!). SO COOL. Words and pictures can’t begin to describe how awesome the scene was. Totally black sky. Thousands of stars. Two shooting stars! And the sound of the ocean. It was amazing.

That was until I discovered the crabs on the beach… we walked down towards the water and Jon turned on a flashlight only to see hundreds of little crab eyes staring back at us. So creepy.

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Much of the week included walks to the beach, eating, going in the hot tub and playing with Jon’s niece Hannah. Definitely a much needed vacation!

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Seriously, how cute is she? So much fun getting to run after an almost 2 year old for a few days! I was ready to take her back to Brooklyn with me but something tells me that her parents would not be too pleased 🙂

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One of the mornings we took the Jeep out to the 4×4 beach. It’s a stretch of the beach way way out that is only accessible if you have a 4×4 vehicle. There are wild ponies that roam on that part of the island. We were lucky enough to spot some just a few minutes after getting on the beach!

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It was quite the bumping and fun ride. We had some unexpected traffic. Definitely don’t see that in NYC every day.

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We were super lucky and only had 1 rainy day all week! We had lunch at a brewery place along the road on the way to see the Outer Banks Aquarium. Turned out to be the perfect rainy afternoon activity.

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The majority of the week had absolutely amazing sunsets. We took advantage of them with a few walks out to the beach at sunset (and sunrise!). IMG_8877 IMG_8879

I took a lot of pictures that week so I’m going to split this up into a 3 part series 🙂 Hopefully I get around to publishing them before… December.

Stay tuned!

 

Apple Picking

Kicked off this past weekend with a trip to a local German beer garden to celebrate Oktoberfest. It’s within walking distance of both Jon and I’s apartments – so cool!! I love being able to say that we live in the same neighborhood and we can actually just walk places to meet up! Good beer and awesome live music made for great Friday.

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Saturday morning was apple picking with a bunch of girls from my Life Group! There were supposed to be a total of 3 guys going but the other two bailed last minute so Jon was stuck with 6 girls all day. Whoops 🙂

1.5 hour drive out of NYC to make it to Warwick, NY by noon. Such a gorgeous drive (although I’m still not used to being in a car). So many leaves changes + general nature things to look at! We ended up pulling over to the side of the road at one point just to take it all in. Yes, it was a small, empty road. And yes, we looked like freaks from NYC.

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The apple orchard was up on top of a hill which made for AMAZING views. Seriously could not get over it.

We made our way up and down the hill to fill our large bags of apples. Definitely was a workout carry a huge bag up and down the hill but totally worth it. The farm was absolutely packed. The church that we go to, Trinity Grace, is part of a huge network in NYC. Lots of the big neighborhoods have their own church but they had invited everyone to apple picking! Quite packed but it was fun to walk by people and hear which neighborhood’s they were from.

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One of the first things that I remember doing in the city last year when i moved here was going apple picking so it was fun to be a full year into living here and know the entire group I went with instead of just meeting people for the first time!

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Now I have quite a bit of apple baking to do. I’ve already been scheming up what to make. Apple crisp, applesauce (made some today), apple/cauliflower soup, apple ricotta pancakes, etc.

 

PSU + Hershey Trip

Riding the train home the other night, I watched a man get on the subway with a huge bird cage (bird included) and was struck by what an odd city  I live in.

A few weeks ago, I hopped a train to Lewistown, PA for the Penn State University Web Conference. I had sent in a proposal a few months ago with my old boss from RIT to speak at this conference and we were accepted. Somehow the 6 months or so flew by and before I knew it, it was the day before the presentation. Working leading up to the conference was so hectic that I hardly had a second to think about it so imagine my surprise when I hopped off the train in little Lewistown, PA only to be greeted by what seemed like the entire town. Quite a striking difference after leaving NY Penn Station. 

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The conference began on Thursday morning and went through Friday afternoon/evening. I’d go in depth about what I spoke about but I already did a wrap up post on the Carrot website (found here). An overall great experience. Good opportunity to get out of the office and learn from other people in the industry. Also a great experience to be forced to do some public speaking which I wouldn’t consider a strength at all. Met a lot of new people at the conference as well!

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One of the things that I started doing at the conference was taking some sketch notes. In all honesty, it started in a boring session (note: none of the notes are of the boring session. it just gave me the time to write down my thoughts from previous ones). By the end of the conference, people were actually starting to request notes for their own sessions. Pretty fun way to summarize each session that I was sitting in on – good for remembering things later!

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Side note: This courtyard below was the place that I remember running around with my volleyball team a bunch of years ago. So weird to finally go back to State College after all of these years and this time as a big kid!

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On Friday after the conference had ended, Jon generously drove to State College to pick me up and take me to Hershey for the weekend. He had promised to clean out his room at his parents house and the timing happened to work perfectly to get me on the way.

We spent Friday night wandering around State College, getting ice cream from the Creamery (!) and getting a quick dinner on State Street. By the time we got to Hershey I was so exhausted – good thing I’ve met Jon’s parents plenty of times before or else they would have thought I was a lump. I’m pretty sure the combined sleep total for the conference was hovering around 6 hours total for 2 days so needless to say, I was rather exhausted and not forming complete sentences.

Saturday morning we had breakfast with Jon’s dad (his mom had to work for the weekend, unfortunately) before Jon cleaned his room. I was mostly just the director of cleaning (from his lofted bed) but did help some when I realized that meant I got to go through his High School yearbooks and random other things.

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Saturday night Jon’s best friend and his wife and Jon’s parents all came with us to City Island near Harrisburg for some mini golf! Gorgeous views although slightly buggy. I’ve also decided that perhaps professional mini golf is not in my future.

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Sunday morning we went to church with Jon’s dad before heading to meet up with his mom after she got done with work. The highlight of her work place is one of the doctor’s offices with these crazy taxidermy animals. So creepy! The entire room was filled with them. I can’t even imagine walking in there at night.

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After lunch, a quick trip to Chocolate World was needed. There is a ride that tells you the history of their chocolate making so while they’ve riden it a million times each, it was only my 3rd! Of course, the free chocolate sample at the end is a huge draw. Not to forget the singing cows!

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Overall, a very whirlwind tour of Central PA. Five days away from work and NYC felt like a very, very long time but was much needed.

Finding a Place

Early Sunday morning I woke up, got some coffee ready and wandered out the door with a heaping basket of laundry in hand. As I threw it in the washing machine to head off on a run through Prospect Park I realized just how far life has come since I moved here 8 months ago. No longer am I dragging wet laundry down the street because I couldn’t make the 7pm cut off time. Now I just need to work on successfully entering my apartment while unlocking the door, holding the basket, squeezing through the door and dropping everything or looking like an idiot. One thing at a time…

I’m far from establishing anything that resembles routine around here but we’re getting there. Realizing just how comfortable I am on these streets in my neighborhood is a good feeling. It’s not the first or second time I’m wandering down them but somewhere in the hundreds and I’m still able to find interesting things to see.

How lucky that this is my backyard? A three minute walk out the door and I forget that I’m living in a city with 8 million other people.

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So incredibly thankful for the way that things have fallen into place over the last year or so. It’s almost been a year since I graduated from RIT, weird right?

It’s starting to feel a little more like my very own city (that I happen to share with a lot of other people…) every time I leave and come back. No matter how many times I’ve reentered the city after a quick trip away, I’m always shocked by the energy in this place.

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Two weekends ago I headed home with Jon to Hershey to attend his best friend’s wedding. It was super nice to get out and experience nature and quiet for a bit. Jon was actually pretty busy all weekend as he was the best man so I got some quality time hanging out with his parents. My only regret of the weekend? Not asking to see embarrassing photos of Jon growing up. Had so many opportunities with him out of the house and still missed out. Next time…

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The tiny church was located just a mile or so away from Three Mile Island, the nuclear power plant, which was slightly unnerving. But the views were gorgeous and the church was right out of some movie (The Notebook?).

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Bride & Groom (+best man and matron of honor) rode away on a John Deere tractor. We’re not in NYC anymore!

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Topped off the weekend with an absolutely gorgeous sunset over the Susquehanna River during the wedding reception. An early wake up on Monday morning (4:00am) meant that we were rolling into NYC just in time for me to make it to work on time. Jarring experience going from this sunset to busy Penn Station during morning rush hour but it was good to be back!

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Christmas 2012

Now that we’ve sufficiently eaten our way through all of the Christmas cookies and I have made my way back to Brooklyn, I can begin to recount the past ten or so days.

Lots has happened – although most involves cooking & eating.

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Friday at work we celebrated two birthday’s in the office + our interns last day. Cue lots of sugar. I made Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter & Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies. They were pretty much as delicious as they sound. Seriously, you can’t go wrong stuffing anything with Nutella.

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After work I headed off to Penn Station to wait around for a bit for my train! I had an hour or so to kill so I went to dinner at Moe’s. Let’s just say it was not a pretty sight to watch me attempt to eat their burrito. It looked like a bomb went off. But delicious nevertheless. Always a good way to start a vacation – eating a messy burrito in a back room in penn station full of strangers listening to a mixture of Elvis and Michael Jackson. Train eventually took off and I was on my way to Hershey! Only had one transfer in Philadelphia but that was quick and easy. The highlight of the trip was a girl sitting down next to me and saying “You don’t look too weird, I think i’ll sit next to you.” Always reassuring.

Saturday morning we got up early to drive to St. Thomas for Jon’s family Christmas. All of his extended family gets together for the day and it happened to work out perfectly – I managed to fit in 3 Christmas’s this year. Lots of delicious food and a great time hanging around – so much Hannah time! This is only the 4th time I’ve seen her since she was born last November, she’s getting so big!

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Jon drove me the rest of the way home to Maryland on Saturday night. Home just in time for Mom’s Choir Contata at church!

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The next few days included eating delicious home cooked meals, goofing around with Sarah, making the famous thin Christmas cookies, learning the names of football players (thanks to Sarah), and pretending to be Martha Stewart when Sarah and I worked on decorating the table for Christmas dinner.

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This is the first year that we weren’t together with Barb & Joe for Christmas Day. Sarah & I ended up making Christmas Eve dinner before we headed off to church for the candlelight service. We made Avocado Yogurt Dip, Spicy Feta Dip and Brussels Sprout Dip with Artichokes. Sensing a theme here?

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Christmas morning we woke up, made Cinnamon Chip Apple Scones & Chili Cheese bake before sitting down to open presents – a record late time compared to some of our previous 6am starts.

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Christmas dinner was chinese take out – it was crazy packed! Who knew we were missing out on it all these years. Finished out the night by watching Moonrise Kingdom and House Hunters.

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To be continued…

 

Traveling to Wisconsin

Wednesday started bright and early since Jon needed to head off to work by 6:20. I learned what time the sun comes up.

That was quite alright though because I needed to head off soon after to catch my plane anyway and it just gave me time to eat a bagel! A month or two back, I ran across the Brooklyn Bagel Company that has a place in Queens a few blocks from Jon’s apartment. It’s quickly become a favorite. They won me over even more when I learned that they STILL have pumpkin cream cheese – much after all the other places have retired it.

Quick bagel & coffee and I was on my way.

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There was something about the quiet morning and the gorgeous sunrise that made the commute quite enjoyable. That was.. until I hopped on the bus. Traveling with a suitcase, purse, cup of coffee and attempting to hold onto a bus railing is rather difficult. I spent the whole time hoping that I would not accidentally dump coffee all over myself and/or others. Got quite the workout carrying my suitcase up and down the stairs too.

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Luckily the bus was a short ride and I was soon boarding the plane to head to Wisconsin! 20121123-164601.jpg

 

I was super thankful that I was flying to Milwaukee and not Chicago because they had major delays there. Not me! Fit in some reading and blogging time on the airplane (clearly not enough). And before I knew it, I was in Wisconsin!

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This was my first time being out of NYC since I moved here in September so it was weird to see cars, open space and farmland. Made some stops in Sheboygan as well as the Apple (not computer) Store in Green Bay and Kopp’s Custard in Milwaukee (mandatory custard break).

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