Category: random

July 4th holiday in CT and NYC – day 2, part 1

So our first full day in New York (as an engaged couple!) started off with a complementary and tasty breakfast in the hotel in their library/dining area. It’s really a great place to come in the morning, lots of windows, tasty coffee, quiet music, so a nice and low-key ways to start off the day.

I had never been to the Museum of Modern Art so we decided that would be our destination for the day. We left the hotel around 9:30, but the museum didn’t open until 10:30 so we opted to walk there to kill some time. We stopped by Rockefeller Plaza, looked around the Lego store (they didn’t have any good girl-with-glasses Lego heads otherwise I totally would’ve come out of there with a mini Lego-me), along with Cole Hahn (where the sales guy followed us around the store the whole time, a bit disconcerting), and Banana Republic (this was by far the largest store I’d ever been in) before heading to the museum.

If you have never been to MoMA, it is huge! And plan to spend pretty much the entire day there. We started on the top (6th) floor and worked our way down through famous paintings like Van Gough’s “Starry Night”, and Monet’s huge “Water Lilly” paintings along with more eclectic video art pieces, an exhibition on fonts and consumer design (they even had a Vespa), and even an exhibit on “serious video games” used for military training.

We stopped at the third floor around 1pm for a lunch break (as long as you keep your ticket you can come in and out all day). We were thwarted at the first place we picked (Burger Joint, was highly recommended on Yelp and Foursquare but was totally packed), so we went across the street to Angelo’s Pizza (also courtesy of some social media outlet). At Angelo’s we enjoyed a fried zucchini and eggplant appetizer (the veggies were cut into chips and deep fried then arranged in an orderly circular tower, really good and excellent crispy texture with just enough flavor from both the batter, salt and the veggies) served with a garlic yogurt, then we split a “small” (aka 14″) coal oven-baked prosciutto and basil pizza.

Now we are killing a bit of time before dinner reservations at Spice Market at 7:30 and then finding some clear river view of the Hudson for the fireworks at 9:20, should be fun 🙂

Photos: MoMA and NYC Fireworks Flickr Set


July 4th holiday in CT and NYC – day 1, part 2

So not long after posting that last post there we’re a few new developments 😉 Jeremy and I were sitting in our room at the Library Hotel trying to decide what to do for the evening, I decided to look online to see if there were any Broadway shows that had tickets available and Jeremy was rummaging around in his bag. He says to me “I have a better idea.”, I turn around and he is holding a gorgeous platinum diamond ring! “Will you marry me?” he asked, and after a few stunned seconds I said “Yes!” and we kissed and smiled and did all that cute stuff and then both sat amazed on the bed for a few moments letting everything sink in.

Then of course the phone calls to all the parents and friends commenced, followed by a photo of the ring to put up on the various social media outlets with a caption of “I said yes!” to make the announcement, and of course the prerequisite relationship status change on Facebook to “engaged” (we are computer geeks after all).

At our friend Jim’s recommendation we went out to celebrate with champagne at a champagne bar called Flute. We each enjoyed a trio tasting of champagnes (mine were all roses, Jeremy’s were different varietals), truffle salted fries and a fruit and cheese plate, followed by another tasty glass of champagne each.

After finishing our champagne we headed to the rooftop bar of our hotel, which was closed since it was Sunday, but offered fun night views, especially since it was a bit foggy, and we both took some photos before heading back to the room for the evening.

P.S. Thanks for all the congrats via Facebook, Twitter and SMS 🙂 we are super excited, but have vowed to try and just enjoy the engagementness of it all for at least a month before going into wedding-planning mode. Seeing as both of us are uber planners we’ll see how well that works out 😉


July 4th holiday in CT and NYC – day 2, part 1

This morning started earlier than most (for a vacation day anyway), we got up around 7:30 so that we could be ready to head into the city by 9 or so. We took the Merritt Parkway in towards the city, which is a much prettier drive than taking the interstates, even though the speed limit is lower. A cool tidbit about that road is that each one of the dozens of overpasses is a unique design, different carvings or railings decorate each one, so it makes for a more interesting drive. We hit a bit of traffic once we got on Long Island but made it to our hotel, The Library Hotel, around 11:30. Our room, the medicine room (all the rooms are organized by the Dewey decimal system), was ready early so we were able to drop our bags off before heading towards Times Square and the Discovery building to see the Pompeii exhibit.

We walked from the parking deck where Eileen left her car (for a lovely $21 fee, gotta love parking in the city) to the ever-busy Times Square, it was lightly raining so we got to maneuver our umbrellas amongst the crowd as well as dodge all the amazed tourists. Our tickets for Discovery’s Pompeii exhibit were at 1pm so we had about half an hour to kill before heading in and decided to stop at the Starlight Deli for a quick sandwich and chips to tide us over until dinner. Jeremy and I split a chicken BLT wrap and a bag of Dirty brand pesto Parmesan potato chips (the chips were…interesting, pretty much like eating crispy pesto, so a bit too strong of a flavor for me but couldn’t pass up at least trying them).

At the Discovery building there was also a Harry Potter exhibition which is where probably 80% of the people were actually going to (from the door it looked like it was a lot of the props and costumes from the films) but there were still a fair number of people heading into the Pompeii exhibit as well. We were ushered in in small groups, watched a quick introductory film on Pompeii and what it was like before Vesuvius erupted and then the screens opened up and you walked into the exhibit area which was broken up into two parts. The first part was all about the frescos and statues that were preserved by the eruption it was amazing the color and detail that was maintained despite the fact that these paintings and sculptures were nearly 2,000 years old. You then were taken into a second film room, this one with big speakers and subwoofers on the floor, and you got to “see” (via a CG recreation) what the eruption was like. Once the destruction was complete the doors opened onto the most intriguing and sad part of the collection, the body casts of the victims of the eruption. Some of the most famous casts were there, the dog, a family of four, a man crouched with his knees up against his, it’s amazing the level of detail that was preserved by the ash, it makes what happened so much more real and personal, you can see the folds of people’s clothes, and can almost make out the expression on their faces when the heat wave from the eruption overtook them. After the casts were all the various other artifacts that were preserved from daily life in 79AD, loaves of bread, combs and mirrors, pots and pans, jewelry (some arm bands that were still on bodies found at the site), everything you would expect to see in a thriving town that was quickly fled. Overall it was a very interesting exhibit, and fun to see more of the artifacts after having visited Pompeii itself twice (as many of the artifacts were obviously removed from their original spot so they could be preserved).

Once we left the exhibit area it was about 2pm and we decided to have an early dinner at Sophia’s Italian restaurant near Times Square. Each if us had a glass of the house red, Jeremy had tortillini, Eileen and I both had variations on veal scaloppini, quite tasty. After the meal Eileen decided to head back to Connecticut so we said our goodbyes and Jeremy and I headed back to the hotel. The Library offers a Foursquare special for all of its guests, on their first checkin you get a complementary bottle of wine! I love places that embrace social media (and NYC in particular embraces Foursquare as it was born here). We are enjoying the free wifi now, catching up on reading and email (and obviously blog posting), and plan to head out later and find a wine bar or the like, so more to come 🙂


Botanical Gardens and PicPlz

Jeremy and I went to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden at the end of January in the pursuit of flowers in the midst of the crazy winter we’ve been having, thankfully they have a great greenhouse with seasonal flowers on one side, tropical plants in the center, and orchids on the other side. It was great to get outside and walk around (and go inside the greenhouse and enjoy the warmth and lovely flower smells) so we decided to buy an annual membership since we usually go to the gardens two or three times a year, and with the admission price for two people it was worth it to buy the pass. The extra bonus with the membership is that it gets you into a whole slew of other botanical gardens around the country (including the gardens in Norfolk), so it’s a really great deal and is now in the rotation of default places to go take photos when we need some inspiration. Flickr sets linked below.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens Flickr Set 1

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens Flickr Set - trip 1

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Flickr set - trip 2

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Flickr Set - trip 2

Norfolk Botanical Garden Flickr Set

Norfolk Botanical Garden Flickr Set

"Free Smells" PicPlz photo from Austin

I’ve joined in on the “use your smart phone to take pictures and then add filters to it” trend and have started using an app called PicPlz to try and practice taking more “random” photos of everyday stuff. So every once in a while either in my Twitter or my Flickr stream (or both) you’ll see a photo or two appear from something random I noticed during my day. My first PicPlz photo was taken at on our first trip to Lewis Ginter.


Istanbul – Day 5

Doug and Elif’s wedding wasn’t until 6:30 in the evening so the 7 of us had most of the day for exploring, so we decided to venture to the largest of the Princes’ Islands. The ferry ride was an hour and a half, leaving from the southernmost end of the European side of Istanbul and it stopped at each of the smaller islands before dropping us of at the main island a bit before lunchtime. I had been thinking this would be a light energy-expenditure day so I (and Jeremy) wore jeans, which we soon learned was not the best idea as the monastery, the main attraction on the island, is at the top of the mountain. When you stepped off the ferry there were bike rental shops and horse-drawn taxi carriages waiting for all the tourists coming off, we tried asking one of the drivers if they went to the monastery but I think we ended up annoying him or something and he said no he didn’t go there (we later found out that the base of the mountain where the monastery is was in fact exactly where he, and all the other carriages, were going…lost in translation, oh well) so we decided to walk.

We knew that we had to go up but we didn’t see a specific or marked path to take so we just took the first “up” we saw, which was a small side stairwell that ascended about 40 feet up the mountain, we followed that, then another path through the residential area and then ended up out on what appeared to be a park path that also ascended at a non-trivial grade. There was lots of dusty paths and scrubby pine trees, a few very nice views, but definitely far from the seaside residential area we had just came out of. As we arrived to the top of the hill/mountain (it seemed more mountainous the longer we climbed) we came upon one vista and to our chagrin, saw (what we thought was) the monastery two mountains/hills away, damn. So we continued on back down the mountain and came back into a residential area which soon turned into a regular paved road and we again encountered the horse-drawn carriages, at last we had reached the base of the mountain (turns out the tower we saw was a more modern structure). So we, along with many other tourists, began the trek up the mountain, it only took 15 or 20 minutes to get to the top, probably a 30% grade most of the way up, but seems a lot longer when you’re a bit out of shape 😉 We looked around the outside of the monastery, then headed to the restaurant to rehydrate and refuel while enjoying some pretty spectacular views of the sea and distant Istanbul. We ordered beer, melon (I think it was honeydew, some of the sweetest I’ve ever had), I ordered fried eggplant (no breading, just the vegetable fried) with a yogurt sauce, a few of the guys had sausages. Overall it was a very tasty meal, probably made even more tasty due to the fact that we were hot, tired and hungry.

We made the trek back down but opted to follow the carriages most of the way down, which kept us in the residential area the whole time rather than re-ascending the nearby mountain…essentially we had gone over when everyone else had gone around the base of the island. We hopped on the ferry and were back in just enough time to get cleaned up for the wedding, hopped in taxis at 5:30pm and headed down to a pier at the Bospherous to wait for the hotel water taxi to bring us across the water to the wedding/reception site, a beautiful old, white stone hotel right on the banks of the Asian side of the water.

The boat that picked us up was quite swank, all wood trim inside so as we climbed in and rode across in our suits and dresses it felt very James Bond-esque. When we got to the other side we were led through the hotel lobby to a covered open-air patio where cocktails were being served. Apparently the theme was green drinks (according to Doug they were the hotel’s specialties), mojitos, green apple martinis with cinnamon stick garnish, and a bright green vodka-based drink (no idea what the mixer was, something sweet and candy-like). There were also pistachios, hazelnuts and (oddly) corn nuts on the cocktail tables and small appetizers were passed around (a salmon and avocado on a cracker, eggplant in a pasty shell and a bruschetta). We stuck together for most of the cocktail hour but were separated into twos and threes for dinner which was on a lower open-air patio right on the water, it was truly a gorgeous setting. Jeremy and I sat with some of Elif’s cousins and their significant others (one, in fact, was getting married the next day). Doug and Elif came down the stairs around 7:30 and danced their first dance together (didn’t recognize the song), then dinner was served as the bride and groom went around greeting and visiting with each of the tables. The first course was a series of traditional mezes, followed by a seafood canelloni, then beef medallions with potatoes and green beans. Wine was freely being poured the entire time and after the main course everyone had worked up enough gumption to get up on the dance floor as the dance music started playing (during dinner they were playing a great mix of Harry Connick Jr. and jazz). Nearly everyone at the reception (about 150 all told) were dancing. There was a fun mix of both American pop music and Turkish traditional dance music. We were encouraged to join during the traditional music, all of us joining hands and going in big circles around the bride and groom, and generally just having a fun time, language was no barrier here. After a half hour or so of dancing they cut the cake (a chocolate cake with a cream/strawberry filling) and served Turkish tea or coffee. During this time the trays of vodka-based shots were also making their way around, emboldening those on the dance floor. Everyone danced until about midnight, when the party wrapped up and we headed back to the hotel water taxi (after a celebratory passing around of a bottle of raki before we boarded). We arrived back at the hotel, agreed to meet up at 10am for the next day’s touring adventures and headed to bed.


Istanbul – Day 4

After a bit of a slow start in the morning everyone but Elif (went with her cousin to do pre-wedding stuff) and Ray (recovering from the night before) headed down to explore the boardwalk next to the Bospherous. It’s amazing the size of the two bridges that cross between the European and Asian continents, granted the ships that have to pass underneath them are ridiculously huge as well. We walked along the water for a while, stopped at a waffle shop for a sweet lunch of fresh thin waffles with (what I believe was) pudding and fruit, eaten like a big thick taco, very sweet but very tasty, everyone was on a sugar high for the next hour or so. We then took a taxi to the Spice Bazaar where we met up with Ray, Elif and Kay. We split up as we did at the Grand Bazaar and myself, Jeremy, Ray, Oliver, Erin and Mike headed into the bazaar, we emerged with a few of us carrying small vacuum-sealed bags of spices, and some Turkish delight. This was the first time I’d actually had Turkish delight and before this I had no idea what it actually was, I’d only ever heard of it as what Edmund was tempted with by the White Witch in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; turns out it is (granted with many, many possible variations) a chewy cross between gelatin and nougat, typically mixed with nuts and rolled in powdered sugar. We were given samples of one made with honey rather than sugar and I think that made the taste so much richer and less overpoweringly sweet. After reconvening in front of yet another (unnamed) beautiful mosque, grabbing a snack of grilled corn (there are vendors everywhere selling this) and splitting a sesame bagel-like bread, we made the trek to our next destination, the Turkish baths.

The Turkish Baths were quite an unusual experience, but definitely fun. We went to one of the oldest bath houses in Istanbul, Cemberlitas Hamami, built by Mimar Sinan in 1584. After selecting one of three options, either a “self-wash” for 35 TL, the traditional “bath” for 55 TL (this is what I, Elif and Kay, Doug’s mom, got), or the bath plus oil massage for 95 TL (Erin upgraded to this) the men and women were separated into different sections of the building (apparently the men went to the original section of the building, the women were in a more recently built part). We were escorted to a dressing room where we were shown lockers to store our belongings, given a thin towel and a disposable bathing suit bottom to put on (apparently the guys were just given the towel) and comfy rubber sandals. Once properly outfitted we were taken to the main bathing room which is a large, steamy, open room with a giant circular warmed marble slab in the center. The marble is higher in the center than on the outsides so the water can run off and we were instructed to lay along one outside edge on our towels. We laid there for 10 minutes or so and then each of us was given a marvelous massage/scrubbing by one of the women working at the bath, first with a rough cloth (it was crazy the amount of dead skin and city grime they managed to scrub off of you, and your skin is amazingly soft after it) then with a soft cloth and lots of lemongrass/balsam scented bubbles. You then were rinsed off with buckets of water, guided over to a nearby fountain where you sat and had your hair washed and then (at least the women) were shown to a warm pool to hang out and relax for as long as we wanted (the girls waited here while Erin had her massage). Then we returned to the ante-room of the main bathing area, were given fluffy warm towels to dry off and went upstairs to change back into our street clothes and then reconvened with all the guys.

Elif, Doug and Kay parted ways with us after the baths to go to dinner with Elif’s extended family while the rest of us wandered through the city for a bit back towards the Spice Bazaar where we had dinner at a kebab restaurant recommended to us by our tour guide the day before. We had a similar selection of mezes (only chose 4 this time) then we each had an entree (Jeremy and I split a larger version of the Turkish “pizza” we had the first night and a lamb kebab), wine (note to self, ask how much the wine is before ordering it, 60 TL per bottle was a bit steep), and ended the evening with Turkish tea (or coffee in Mike’s case, which is like other European-style coffees, very strong and served in very tiny cups) and a variety of baklava that was like angel-hair phyllo dough wrapped around honeyed pistachios. One more speedy cab ride (Mike, Erin, Jeremy and I in one cab, Ray, Randy and Oliver in the other…throughout all the cab rides today, 3 in total, ours always arrived at our destination first, we would totally win this leg on Amazing Race) and we were back to the hotel, checking email, and agreed to meet up at 9am for breakfast the next morning and afterwards we would take the ferry to visit the Prince’s Islands off the coast for the day before the wedding festivities in the evening.


Istanbul – Day 3

The morning started off with everyone congregating downstairs and making use of the free wifi in the lobby to catch up on email etc. before our continental Turkish breakfast included with the price of our rooms. We en-masse headed into the dining room where there was a spread of tomatoes, cucumbers, and three kinds of breakfast breads, standard white and wheat slices, a tasty yeast roll and a phyllo-dough pastry. Not wanting to neglect any variety of carbohydrate I took one of each, along with fixing a cup of Turkish tea. So throughout the course of this trip I’ve learned I am a big fan of Turkish tea. It’s brewed very very strong and is served alongside a pot of hot water (frequently it is served in a special double-spout kettle). The idea is you dilute the tea with the hot water to your taste, then add sugar cubes if desired. Most folks didn’t know this was either a) tea and not coffee or b) supposed to be diluted so we all had some pretty strong first tastes of Turkish tea (although Jeremy, who does not like coffee or most American teas, enjoys the Turkish tea undiluted, saying it is the only tea he’s had that doesn’t taste too watered down), now we have learned “how to take tea” and many of us order it at every meal.

Following breakfast we reunited with Elif’s parents, Kay and Elif’s aunt, along with Elif’s uncle and cousin and headed onto our minibus for our tour. We visited:
-Hippodrome – No longer surrounded by stands, this has the feel of a small park sandwiched between the Blue Mosque and Haga Sophia, with the only remnants of the stadium being the three ancient monuments lined up in the center of the ring.
-Blue Mosque – Still an active mosque, everyone must remove their shoes and place them in a plastic bag before entering, gorgeous interior
-Haga Sophia – Now a museum, no longer an active place of worship, amazing tiling and mosaic work
-Underground Cisterns – Very cool (and dark) underground water resevoir with dozens of aligned Roman columns holding up the ceiling.
-Sultan’s Palace – A series of 3 courtyards with various administrative and support buildings, beautiful views of the water
-Grand Bazaar – The bazaars are very interesting places, think narrow (10 feet or so) halls with shops on either side and people *everywhere*. In general there are probably a few dozen or so types of items sold at the bazaars but there are hundreds of vendors for each thing. We’ve been told you are expected to haggle with the sellers as they price their items about twice what they are expecting to sell them for, I found a cool silver case to hold my business cards in with (what I’m told) is a traditional Turkish pattern on the front, haggled from 15 TL to 10 TL.

Before visiting the Sultan’s palace we had traditional kebabs at a local restaurant served along a white bean salad and the most excellent indescribable dessert, it was maybe bulgar (or something else resembling couscous in size and texture) mixed with honey and maybe some kind of nut, it was compacted enough you could cut small slices out of it but wow was it tasty.

The tour lasted from 9:30 until 6 and then we reconvened at 7 to meet up with Elif’s college friends and cousins at a restaurant in the Taksim area of Istanbul, which is a pedestrian high-end shopping and restaurant district and also one of the main nightlife hotspots. All told there were 20 of us sitting in the outside seating area of the restaurant, which served a fixed menu of dozens of meze as well as more “entree” style items like liver, flash fried small fish that’s indigenous to the Bospherous, and meat and rice served in rolled grape leaves. This meal was also accompanied by raki or beer or Turkish wine (had both a Cabernet and a Merlot, both quite good) and ended with watermelon, nectarines, grapes and fresh figs (this was the first time I’d ever had a fresh fig, so much better than a Fig Newton!). Afterwards we decided to split up into two groups, folks who wanted a quieter spot to talk (Elif wanted to catch up with her friends) and those who wanted to check out more of the night life, Jeremy and I went along with Elif, Doug and Elif’s friends to a coffee/tea bar on the top floor of an apartment building that had 270 degree views of the Bosphorous, quite an amazing sight at night. Jeremy discussed world politics with Elif and her friends while Doug and I caught up on what we’d been doing the past few months, it was a great, laid back time. We agreed at the beginning of the night to meet in the morning at 9:30 for breakfast, this was not the most awesome idea by the time the night ended around 2am but oh well.


Istanbul – Days 1 and 2

Our flight left Dulles around 5:15pm, we arrived (courtesy of a 115mph tailwind) about half an hour early to Frankfurt where we headed to the Lufthansa lounge for a few hours before our flight to Istanbul. After a half hour delay, and a very odd musical chairs of checking our tickets and allowing us to sit in the gate waiting area, then having everyone file back out and rechecking our tickets before boarding, we got onto the 3? hour flight to Istanbul where both Jeremy and I fell asleep for a good portion of the flight after our second breakfast. We arrived in Istanbul around 1:30, acquired our $20 visas, went through customs, found our checked bags (in less than 5 minutes, was quite awesome) and located our shuttle driver by about 3pm.

We had about an hour ride to the hotel from the airport where we were first introduced to the driving experience in Istanbul…
1) lines on the pavement? more guidelines than rules
2) Honking is used to indicate frustration, location, gratitude and greetings or all of the above at the same time, if the guy behind, next to or in front of you honks, you should respond accordingly
3) Pedestrians take their life into their own hands crossing the street, the cars will not yield for you until you are standing in front of them
4) You must be thisclose to the car in front of you, any extra space is not allowed; accordingly, if there is a gap between you and the next car while you’re moving make sure to close that space in as little time as possible
5) (and this is according to our Turkish tourguide) Turks are colorblind, red, yellow, green…they are all the same
Overall the taxi and/or shuttle rides are very entertaining, a few folks have taken video of the cab rides, if I can find one I will link to it later.

When we got to the hotel Doug and Elif called up to our room once we had checked in and coordinated that we would meet up with everyone for dinner at 8pm at a restaurant within walking distance from the hotel. We had about 3 hours to kill, so there was definitive napping occurring pre-dinner then we met up with everyone in the lobby at 8 and got to meet the rest of the “USA” group staying at the hotel: Mike, Boston co-worker of Doug and his girlfriend Erin, Oliver, high school friend of Doug, Ray, co-worker from Williamsburg and Boston (and the next morning Randy, friend of Doug and co-worker with Ray). We walked a few blocks to an open-air restaurant where we met Elif’s parents, Doug’s mom Kay, Elif’s aunt and grandparents. Dinner was a smorgasboard of Turkish cuisine. We started with mezzes (appetizers/tapas) along with baskets of a flat bubbly bread topped with black sesame seeds which, according to Elif’s dad, you are supposed to tear open and fill with the goat’s milk cheese and butter, then roll up and enjoy. The bread is sort of like a thin empty brick-fired naan, the cheese is sort of like a mild feta in flavor and texture and between that and the creamy butter and the crispy and chewy bread, a very fun play on texture and tasty to boot. Next were the curry-spiced lamb and bulgur hand-formed meatballs which you ate wrapped in a lettuce leaf, “Turkish pizza” with a savory unknown meat topping, tomato salad with a vinagrette, fried meatballs with lamb and broccoli, sauteed eggplant with olive oil, and finally a cold cucumber quiche (keep in mind, this is just the starter course(s)). All of this is then followed by a toast with raki (pronounced rakoo), which is “Turkish uzo”, so a licorice-flavored 90 proof liquor mixed with water so it turns white. For the main course I had the traditional doner kebab (strips of lamb in a tasty brown sauce over cubes of bread and a yogurt dipping sauce. We ended the meal with slices of watermelon and nectarines. After all of this food and the travelling (and in the case of some folks, all the raki) everyone was ready to head to bed for the next morning was our grand tour of Istanbul.


spring cleaning

So the cleaning bug struck today, fueled by the fact that I have folks coming to visit later this week, and 6 hours later I am done! The whole downstairs was cleaned and (not planned but excited about it) rearranged. I needed to move my futon into the bonus room for my guests to sleep on (the air mattress in there has some hidden leak, so not so comfortable for a full night’s sleep) so I decided to take the opportunity to shuffle things around downstairs and do some things I’ve been meaning to do for a while (like hang up pictures and plates I’ve had for months and years respectively).

Here are the results:

clean kitchen

Clean kitchen!

Kitchen window

View of the kitchen window, added one of the extra dining room chairs here for random seating and hung the Campell's soup picture next to the door.

Greek plates

Plates I got when I was in Greece, they are terra cotta with colored glass inside. These are hanging in the powder room downstairs now.


This is a buffet acquired at a yard sale that my mom and I refinished about 2 years ago, it was behind the dining room table before but actually fits perfectly under the stairs. The glass vases in the center are ones I got in Venice.

dining room

So moved the dining room table from being catty-cornered to up against the wall and then moved the 2 extra chairs to various other spots in the room.

living room

So everything in the living room is now catty-cornered a bit and I think it really opens everything up rather than having things pushed up against the wall. My mom and I made all of those pillows (there are so many because we made some for the futon too). Behind the chair is my bar from Crate and Barrel a bunch of my friends got me as a house warming present, love that thing! and it gets a lot of use as glass and wine storage.

And there was also vaccuming and bathroom cleaning as well. As I was cleaning I realized I hadn’t posted pics of my master bath since I’d redone it over Thanksgiving, so since this is apparently my “behold my house” post, here it is:

bathroom before

Before: (well almost, this is the guest bath which looks the exact same as the master did, just mirrored)

bathroom after

After: shower curtain rather than glass doors, storage under the sink, fun modern lighting, love it. I always thought the free-standing bowl sinks were cool so when I found this one at Lowes (on sale!) as a package with the granite top and cabinet, I knew I had to get it. Found the lights at Home Depot and the mirrors at Target.


pasta from scratch

So tonight I made my first use of a Christmas present from my parents, the pasta attachments for my Kitchenaid mixer. Jeremy had some leftover sausage from the volleyball party last night and I had lots of frozen veggies and an interest in trying out the pasta machine.

The “recipe” consisted of 2 cups of flour (I ended up using bread flour because I didn’t have enough all-purpose), a pinch of salt and three eggs.
Got to make the fun well in the flour and mixed the eggs into that, then incorporated the flour, kneaded it for about 2 minutes then let it rest for 20.

Next the dough was sent it through the machine, giving the it extra kneading by folding it in half and running it through the widest setting a few times then gradually decreased the thickness on the machine the next three passes through, then cutting it with the fettucini-sized noodle cutter.

Jeremy sauteed up the sausage, I got the vegetables and garlic prepped, the pasta was put in boiling water for about 4 minutes and was ready.

Everything was mixed together and topped with some fresh Parmesan cheese and we were good to go for a tasty dinner (and leftovers for lunch tomorrow).

So if ever you think making your own pasta is difficult, like I once did, do not fear! three ingredients and just a few steps and you’re well on your way to tasty fresh (and cheap!) pasta 🙂