Friday, July 30, 2010

see you lovely people in September!

Five for Friday

1. Sorry there has been a bit of a radio silence on my blog this week. It has been one of those weeks with no end in sight... so busy! But, it's finally Friday, which is great news for everyone.

2. I had a great time in New York City last weekend & have lots of photos to share. I even spent half a day just shooting with my Holga camera, which really was an exercise in creativity. This was one of my most relaxing trips to NYC yet, with lots of time spent lounging in Bryant Park & enjoying the breezes coming across the Brooklyn Bridge. I also saw "A Little Night Music," a Stephen Sondheim show with Bernadette Peters & Elaine Stritch. If you don't know who any of those three people are, I can't believe we are friends. It is a great show, with a superior supporting cast, so if you find yourself in NYC, it's definitely worth checking out.

3. In less than two weeks, Brad & I leave on our big trip for the year: a 10-day Royal Caribbean New England & Canada cruise. While we have things sort of planned out, if anyone has suggestions of "must see's" or "must eat's" at any of our destinations (Portland, ME; Bar Harbor, ME; St. John, New Brunswick; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Boston), please let me know!

4. Something for those of you in the D.C.-area, which I mentioned before: a few of my photos were selected to hang in the Historic Alexandria History Center and Museum Store. After a couple unexpected delays, they're finally up! I haven't been down to check them out myself yet, but that's definitely on the agenda for this weekend. They should be up until December, so stop by & check them out.

5. Finally, in typical Washington fashion, my blog is going to go on its annual summer recess for the month of August. I promise to be back in September with tons of photos to share of New York City, New England & Canada. And, of course, my whitty ramblings that you all have come to know & love.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

list 22 - things I love about Brad

He makes these really crazy faces all the time. It's ridiculously cute.

He has the kindest soul... he literally is the nicest person you'll ever meet. No, I mean it. Every time he meets someone new, they always say "He is SO nice!"

He grills a mean turkey burger.

He carries my camera bag & regular bag & purse & jacket & anything else.

He lets me buy discounted books, even though we have two eight foot bookcases full of them.

He is really smart.

He looks extremely sharp in a suit and tie.

He carries the groceries.

He always encourages me when I don't want to go to the gym... but do anyway.

He listens to my crazy dreams & even lets me follow through on some of them.

He always says "I love you" when we hang up the phone, even if we've only talked for a moment.

He still considers me his bride, three years later.

He has a knack for taking photos of me taking photos.

He buys me flowers.

He rubs my feet.

He has no problem spending a Friday evening watching DVR'd TV & eating take out thai.

He loves me for who I am.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

list 21 - why we do what we do

I get asked a lot why and how Brad &I travel so much (sometimes nicely, sometimes snarky). I thought I'd address the issue in today's list.

at the top of Mt. Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

- allows us to experience cultures completely different than ours
- allows us to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations & test our limits
- allows us some "us time" away from the stress of jobs, commutes, & the ridiculousness of every day life (oil changes, bill paying, folding laundry...)
- allows us the chance to stay in really comfortable hotels... & not have to make the bed in the morning
- allows us to check things off our bucket list while we're still young enough to enjoy it
- allows us the chance to stretch our thinking caps & research skills... we always get the best deal possible on every aspect of our trips
- allows us to take strategic advantage of our vacation time & long weekends (& BlackBerry's & working remotely)
- allows us an opportunity to explore new places that may one day be home
- allows us to appreciate quiet evenings at home even more

Travel isn't for everyone, but it is definitely for Brad & me. We consider ourselves extremely lucky to be able to travel the way we do, but we also believe that with strategic planning & budgeting, a lot of people could travel more than they do. We enjoy our life, but know that some people find that hard to believe. We work hard & enjoy the benefits of that.

I know this probably sounds a little defensive... but we just really want you to understand why we do what we do... & to stop judging us for it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of

I keep forgetting I'm going to NYC this weekend.

With all the crazy planning for our cruise in August, with crazy things at work including a two day work trip to Atlanta this week, with the crazy schedule of having my brother in town, and with crazy life just keeping us running,
I keep forgetting.

Keep forgetting that I can spend as many hours in B&H as I want.

Keep forgetting that I will be able to rest my head in the amazing Library Hotel (and drink many, many decaf cappuccinos!).

Keep forgetting the peace that washes over me after a few hours of strolling through Central Park with no agenda.

Keep forgetting the feeling of dough in my hand as I enjoy my traditional midnight Times Square hot pretzel.

I've missed you, NYC.
I'm glad we'll have some time to get reacquainted this weekend.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Malley's Candies & Ice Cream Parlor

Doesn't the name just sound like an old fashioned childhood summer?

My childhood was filled with Malley's ice cream, luckily not bound by any one season, so I was ridiculously excited to go back & explore the ice cream parlors that shaped my youth in Cleveland.
True story: when we drove past the one with the merry-go-round in it (yes, it really does, more on that in a minute), on the way from the airport to meet my brother in law for dinner, my excitement nearly caused us to drive off the road. Probably should have left the driving up to Brad.

The good news? They're still there. They're still exactly the same. They're still delicious.

The bad news? My hips are much bigger & my metabolism much slower than they were when I was six years old.

First stop: the Malley's ice cream parlor in Lakewood,
a.k.a. "the one with the garden veranda."

Align Center
This is the Pink Elephant Sundae. Peppermint ice cream. Homemade whipped cream (I have dreams about their whipped cream, it's so good). Hot fudge on the side (this is key, since it keeps your sundae from melting prematurely). Spanish peanuts with the skin still on (this is also key).
This sundae was SO much better than I remember it being!

To ensure that we properly gave nostalgia its due, we stopped at the Malley's in North Olmstead, a.k.a. "the one with the merry-go-round," on the way to the airport.
It too did not disappoint.

This is the Peanut Butter Cup sundae. I don't think I ever had it as a child, but I should have. Note the fudge on the side again. Also, make no mistake about it: the focus of the camera fell squarely on the fudge & left everything else a little fuzzy. My camera clearly knows excellence when it sees it.

This is the "North Olmstead pink pachyderm" which is the namesake of the awesome Pink Elephant Sundae. Divine, no?

Last, but certainly not least: the merry-go-round. In the restaurant. And yes, it goes around (albeit extremely slowly). It's fantastic.

Five for Friday

1. BREAKING NEWS: We had an earthquake this morning. I was asleep & woke up to the building shaking, & then creaking. Brad had already left for the gym & didn't feel a thing.

It was only a 3.6 & actually felt more like a freight train going by or a fighter plane flying low overhead - both things which happen relatively often. I got up, turned on the TV (which wasn't reporting anything), checked Twitter (which had a few posts) & went back to sleep.

Such a random event for this area!

2. I hope you've been enjoying the photos from our visit to Cleveland - I've enjoyed sharing them, since it was such a personal trip for me. Stay tuned for a continuation of the Americana theme this afternoon :)

3. Next week, I will be in Atlanta for work on Tuesday & Wednesday - pretty excited to experience the Westin "heavenly bed."

Friday morning, I'm headed to NYC for a long weekend - watch for a special "New York City version" of next week's Five for Friday. On my agenda: a sunrise walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, a visit to The Strand (can't wait to see the 18 miles of books!), discount tickets to a show & dinner at my favorite restaurant.

4. I'm looking forward to both these trips, but not nearly as much as I'm looking forward to cruising away from the stresses of life with Brad on a nine-night cruise in just 27 days!

We'll be spending time in Portland, Maine; Bar Harbor, Maine; St. John, New Brunswick, Canada; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; & Boston. We have a sea kayaking tour lined up in Bar Harbor, a visit to Peggy's Cove fishing village in Halifax & a whole list of things to see in St. John. Best of all, we will have three "days at sea" to sleep in, enjoy the adults only solarium pool & lounge, maybe get a (overpriced) massage & generally relax & unplug.

The best part? No flying involved! We cruise out of the Port of Baltimore!

5. I just realized the sweater I'm wearing at work is inside out. Luckily it's just a black cardigan. I think it has just been one of those days :)

Bonne weekend!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Yesterday, baseball.

Today, fireworks.

This blog is getting darn right all American!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's Tribe Time

A lifelong Cleveland Indians fan, I was excited to go to not one, but TWO games while we were in Cleveland.

Saturday evening, Brad & I went to his first game at Jacob's Field (I'm sorry people, but it will always be the Jake to me). It was a beautiful evening for baseball & we got a rare treat: a Tribe win, in 10 innings! The game was followed up by some pretty spectacular fireworks, which were just the icing on the cake.

Sunday afternoon, Brad's brother treated us to a game, as an extremely belated Christmas present. While the Indians couldn't pull out two in a row, the great seats we had & the sunny, gorgeous afternoon almost made up for it.

list 20 - teachers that changed my life

(20 lists down, 32 to go... thanks to Hula Seventy for the list inspiration)

Mrs. Krankowski - Second Grade -
I was a dorky second grader in a blue & gray plaid Catholic school jumper & ridiculously cute black & white saddle shoes. I thought I ruled the school, or at least the second grade, & took pride in the fact that I was a reading champion.

The biggest bummer in my life was the fact that I had constant headaches which made school more of a headache than it normally is. Surgery was the only fix to my headaches, as they were a symptom of a condition I had since birth.

It wasn't the surgery that bothered me, but the missing school & not being able to wear my normal school uniform afterward that did. Yet Mrs. Krankowski & my parents made it all okay. School work was managed; cute, frilly dresses were worn; & Mrs. Krankowski even allowed someone to sit in the classroom with me every day to eat lunch while I was still recouping & unable to navigate the crowded lunchroom. Once Veronica Mars & I spent the lunch hour not eating, but replaying "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel over & over until we had all the words down. Important work for second graders.

Mrs. Krankowski gets an A+ in my book for making sure I didn't fall behind when I easily could have. And having an awesome last name.

Mrs. Blaha & Mrs. Robinson - Fourth & Fifth Grade -
They get a joint shout out, since I had Mrs. Blaha in fourth grade & then both of them in fifth grade in what was actually a fourth/fifth grade split class (I think I understood the dynamics of it better than. But how two adults could control 45 10 & 11 year old's was beyond me. Brave women).

Both were (maybe still are) excellent teachers. They were the kind of people that parents dream about having for their kids. Kind, but stern. Patient, but just to the right amount. They helped me through some tough times in my personal life & both cried the day I left for my three-week exchange student trip to France (boy is that another post in itself!) & made the class send me an Aerogram on my birthday overseas.

Mrs. Blaha gets an A+ in my book for being the ideal elementary school teacher - TWICE.

Mrs. Robinson gets an A+ in my book for boosting my confidence in math (which I am still horrible at) & feeding my love of reading & books.

Ms Wood - AP English, 12th Grade -
I don't think Ms Wood has ever had a student - or at least an honors or AP English student - who would not say that she is one of the best teacher's they ever had. She was loved by everyone.

I still feel guilty about not reading "Doctor Faustus" (the whole class rebelled & did not read for some reason. This was not a coordinated rebellion though). I still remember everyone's reaction to my diorama of the book "A Walk to Remember" (gasps around the room at the crazy attention to detail. What comes out of my mouth? "Well, I guess this is what you get when you have no life." Classic.). I still remember the hug she gave me when I told her I couldn't complete a project on time because of some personal drama interfering with my school life - she told me everything would be okay (& it was). And I still have the poem she gave us on the last day of school tucked in the back of my yearbook.

Ms Wood gets an A+ in my book for making every. single. student. feel special.

Ms Robbins - yearbook advisor -
I graduated from high school ten years ago & still keep in touch with Ms Robbins. How could I not? She was so much more than a yearbook advisor to me, & to a lot of students over her career. She was a surrogate mom when I needed one the most. She made me confident in myself, in my leadership abilities & in my creativity.

Heck, she taught me how to type 80 words per minute.

How she put up with us, with all her yearbook students, for so many years I am not sure. But my Solleret is still one of my proudest achievements & I have her to thank for that & so many other things.

Ms Robbins gets an A+ in my book because she sent me an email yesterday asking when she's going to get to be a surrogate grandmother :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Classic cool

Is there anything not cool about this classic car I stumbled upon on the side of the road in Chagrin Falls?

Personally, I think the Tom Petty 8-track makes the photo :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

West Side Market

I have a soft spot in my heart for Cleveland's West Side Market. Dating back to the 1840's, it's Ohio's oldest public market & a place where I used to roam the stalls with my Dad as a child almost every Saturday morning. On our recent trip to Cleveland, I was delighted to see that it hadn't changed one bit. It's a gem of a place & one that should be on any visitor's list. Not to mention that the Ohio City neighborhood that surrounds it has grown by leaps & bounds over the years & is home to many chic restaurants & shops now.

I spent a good amount of time strolling the aisles of this great gem, before stopping at the West Side Market Cafe for a most excellent breakfast the Friday morning I visited.

This breakfast was not only the healthiest thing I ate the whole trip, it was also one of the most enjoyable. There's nothing like a good breakfast, a hot cup of coffee & the truly important sections of the newspaper.

P.S. What do you think about the new photo size? Too big? I personally like the bigger photos, I think it really shows off the detail well, but maybe they're too big for some people's tastes. Let me know!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Five for Friday

1. How 'bout that LeBron James, huh? I know, I'm sick of hearing about it too. So I'll just make one comment on it, to Dan Gilbert: the font you use means everything. Comic Sans? REALLY?

2. As you saw from yesterday's hot dog post, our trip to Cleveland was indeed epic, despite the LeBron decision hanging over the entire city (see exhibit A below).

We ate so much, my stomach literally hurt until yesterday. Things we ate that made my stomach hurt: pizza (x2, including once at the ballpark); beer (x a lot... ); hot dog with bacon and cheese, chocolate milkshake and cheese fries (all for lunch on Saturday); nachos (at the ballpark, but on a different night than the pizza); ice cream, regular (x2); ice cream, sundaes (x2). Pepto anyone?

3. Another highlight to our trip was going to see two Indians games, one of which they actually won! For a team that is 33-52 headed into the all-star break, we were really excited to see a winning game. Plus it was Brad's first game at Jacob's Field (I'm sorry, but it will ALWAYS be the Jake to me), the weather was perfect and our seats for both games were great.

4. This wouldn't be a traditional "Five for Friday" post if I did not comment on/complain about the weather. It is sunny an average of 66 days a year in Cleveland, leaving you an 82% chance of it not being sunny during your visit. Guess what? Bright blue skies every day we were there! What are the chances? Of course, then we came back to 100+ degree temperatures in D.C. this week, so perhaps it was the big man upstairs reminding us to enjoy sun and 80 degrees while we have access it!

5. Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention probably the best part of our trip to Cleveland: the Happy Humper. No, I'm not talking about some adult store or badly titled x-rated movie. I'm talking about this:

The world's most dangerous/thrilling piece of playground equipment ever. When I was in elementary school, we'd pile onto this thing way beyond capacity and have the time of our lives. Fingers were squished, flesh was pinched and more than one tush was burned on the black rubber. Yet, it was pure recess bliss. I was sure that the school district had wisened up sometime in the past 20 years and taken out this childhood play thing.

Nope! There it is, in all its glory, on the playground of Ella Canavan Elementary School (a fine educational institution, I might add). It even has a twin. Warmed my heart.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Our trip to Cleveland was epic in every way possible.

The food we ate; the amount of food we ate.

The nostalgia we rolled around in like Scrooge McDuck and a big pile of gold coins.

The baseball we watched (okay, most of that was just epically bad).

The small town fireworks we saw.

The small town charm we fell in love with.

For now I'll leave you with the above image of Saturday's lunch. But I will be back with so, so much more.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

list 19 - things in my bag

1. cell phone
2. BlackBerry with wallpaper image from Las Vegas
3. two chapstick - one Burt's Bees, the other a freebie from the Travel and Adventure Expo a few months back
4. SmartTrip Metro pass
5. point and shoot camera inside small case
6. keys with small business card holder
7. $.27
8. boarding pass from trip to Cleveland
9. wallet
10. checkbook and coupons
11. sunglasses
12. free samples of Starbucks iced coffee mix and Crystal Light lemonade mix
13. hair clip
14. magazines (some trashy, some not)
15. two pens
16. necklace from Barbados
17. book
18. reusable bag inside reusable bag holder

Thursday, July 1, 2010

America is...

Lady Liberty & skyscrapers

beaches and mountains

flags on front porches

flying Old Glory


honoring our Veterans

Happy Independence Day everyone! No Five for Friday tomorrow because we will be traveling to the city that rocks, Cleveland.