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Archive for the category “Weekend recap”

Weekend Recap: A trip to the zoo

This weekend I headed south into Jersey to spend time with my sister and my nephew. It was a preplanned trip- Sharyn had called me a few weeks ago and asked if I would accompany her, Little Man, and a friend’s daughter to the zoo while she ran a table of information for her job. I was definitely not passing up the chance for some time with them, and for one of Little Man’s first trips to the zoo.

Arriving at the Turtle Back Zoo early so Sharyn could set up for the event, we had the chance to look around and semi-plot our course of action. First up was a train ride: Little Man is a huge Thomas the Tank Engine fan, so we knew there would be multiple train rides throughout the day, but we decided to start while the line was short. The train ride runs through the reserve adjacent to the zoo, along the water. It was a beautiful ride and a fun start to the day.

Then we started through the exhibits. Little Man’s favorite exhibit, without question, was the monkeys and the gibbons. They were high up and moving around quite a bit each time we passed by, and he would watch and squeal each time. He did a pretty good monkey call- he got the attention of all the monkeys with one squeal. Being the climber that he is, I was not at all surprised that the monkeys were his favorite.  What surprised me is that it was my favorite exhibit of the day as well. It made me laugh- you looked up and saw the moneys up high, and then looking down, there was a huge tortise at the bottom. How did he get in there?

Turtle Back Zoo has a fantastic play area, with ducks and frogs to climb on, a spider web, a nest, and a big sliding board. Kids can also see the prairie dogs at their level, with plastic bubbles for the kids to put their heads up through. Little Man ran from the duck to the frog, and climbed in and out of the nest a few times before starting to slow down just a bit.

The zoo has a small stage and a grassy area beside it, and because there was an event, they had a live band. We enjoyed our lunch on the grass and danced to the band.

After the event ended, we rejoined my sister for a stroll around the zoo with Little Man…who proceeded to fall soundly asleep, exhausted from all the playing and exploring he had done. He stayed asleep right up until dinner at a great Tex-Mex/Cajun restaurant in Fairfield. But he was definitely awake enough to steal some of his aunty’s pumpkin milkshake when we stopped at an ice cream a little later.

It was a fantastic day, and I am really kicking myself for not having a camera- this one was totally a pictures worthy experience. It was relaxing to just meander around the zoo and enjoy what a beautiful fall Saturday it was, even if I was meandering with an active 15 month old boy. I highly recommend the Turtle Back Zoo for those who are local and looking for a fairly inexpensive way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


Weekend Recap: The One with the Beach

I can’t say I had a ton of things I must do this summer, but as summer was creeping to a close, I noticed that I don’t really consider my summer complete without a trip to the beach. And so, midweek, I talked two friends into a beach trip on Saturday.

Although it involved getting up incredibly early for a Saturday, it was completely worth the effort. At a hour to early to mention, four of us piled into J’s car and headed south to the Jersey shore, with a coffee stop to ensure everyone was awake. In spite of the fact it was Labor Day weekend, we found a parking spot with ease, and headed towards the sand and waves.

It’s been my experience that I can’t go to the beach with just anyone. It sounds silly, but, well, when I go, its with the aim of relaxation- I want to sleep, read a novel that does not require me to think, spend some time in the water floating, maybe with a walk down the boardwalk or some time spent hunting for shells. Fortunately, I found the perfect group to go to the beach with. 🙂 I definitely got in a nap, I read the bulk of a mindless novel, I spent just enough time in the water, there was a walk down the boardwalk for ice cream, AND I hunted for shells. That, my friends, is definitely a sucessful and restful trip to the beach.

I hope you had a fantastic Labor Day weekend, and that you have a great Tuesday!

Weekend Recap: Remembering useful skills

I do love the weekends, particularly when work reaches a certain level of chaos as we approach the start of fall semester and I find myself on the phone an inordinate number of hours a day. This weekend, I actually had plans on Saturday that included more than just sleeping and reading as I found myself heading to Jersey for a pool party. I spent the afternoon swimming, eating amazing food, singing along to Abba while swimming, and just enjoying spending time with people. It was actually my first time swimming all summer, and I thoroughly enjoyed it…even when I was sore the next day because I hadn’t used some of the muscles I used to tread water and swim in quite some time.

Saturday evening, because I was so close to my sister’s in Jersey, I stopped by to see her and Little Man. I showed up with ice cream, which I figured would grant me admittance even though it was a little later in the evening. It was great to see them both for a second weekend in a row and to catch up. After crashing there for the night, I headed back home on Sunday…and that’s when adventure ensued…

Coming home, I stopped by the house to change and to pick up everything I would need for church.  I park my car on a car parking lot that isn’t exactly level, and I was in a hurry, so I missed the fact that my front left tire was nearly flat. I stopped at the store on my way to church, and upon returning to the car, finally noticed that the tire was flat. The timing? Well…not impeccable.

I moved to a service station across the street to change my tire, only to discover that my jack had disappeared. So, I called a friend at 9:30 in the morning. L.D. was gracious, even though it meant me waking her up, and she not only came to my rescue with a jack, but assisted me with the process of changing the tire. Once the tire is on, and I am just about ready to go, I realized the spare needed air. Thankfully, I was parked right in front of the air machine (which I am certain has some brilliant technical name which is currently eluding me), so I was able to top of the spare.
Honestly, as annoying as it was to have to change my tire to a spare, I am incredibly thankful for the timing of  the whole ordeal. It could have happened on the Garden State Parkway, or Interstate 80 on my way home. My poor bald tire could have given out at any point in the week and I could have been put in a very difficult and possibly dangerous situation. But it deflated quietly in the parking lot as I picked up matzoh, and I actually noticed it and was able to put on the spare. I am thankful that I am safe and that I actually had the skill set to change the tire… as well as for a friend who was willing to get up early on a Sunday to help me out.


Weekend Recap: The one where I remember pictures

Little Man’s Swim class

This past weekend is best described as full but happy. 🙂 Friday night, after scooting out of the office on time, I met a friend for dinner at my absolute favorite Mexican restaurant. Over fresh made guac and al pastore tacos, we caught up on life. Then I headed down to Jersey.Originally, my stepsister and I planned to take my nephew, Little Man, to a campout in a park near thier house, but due to some horrible storms coming through, it was cancelled. So, I rolled out my sleeping bag and camped out on the floor.Saturday was full as we ran some errands, went out to breakfast, and they showed me around the area. I got to see Little Man’s swim class,  a parent and child class he and my stepsister attend each week where he learns to scoop his arms, kick, and splash like a mad man. He loves the water, and it was alot of fun to see him show off his skills.Among our stops on Saturday was this amazing fruit and vegetable market, which sold really ripe produce for amazingly inexpensive prices. I was able to pick up several pounds of zucchini and avocados for a whooping $4.00. The zucchini is going into a few dinners and has gone into several batches of gluten free muffins. The avocados will be going into a big batch of homemade guacamole and probably into a salad or two as well.The past few weeks have been insanely busy, so it felt nice this weekend to slow down and to rest. It was refreshing to just hang out and talk with S. and be a part of Little Man’s routines. It reminded me to slow down, and be a bit more grateful. And to take pictures because there are moments I want to remember.

Weekend Recap: the one where I am late posting again…

I’ll be honest: I seriously considered writing this post Saturday night so I would remember. But that didn’t happen, and so, I am of course posting it Wednesday instead of Monday. Blogger fail.

Moving on…this past weekend was mostly about rest. I would up heading home early on Friday from work, feeling mostly awful and knowing part of the solution was a good long nap. The nap certainly helped, but I also knew I would need to function a notch down this weekend in order to be ready for Sunday and Monday.

Saturday I didn’t manage to sleep it. It was my great hope to be able to do so, but I woke up at 6:30 amazingly ready for the day. After sending out some emails, reading, and a few cups of coffee, I headed down for brunch at my favorite french patissere. Why would a gluten free girl enter a french patissere? Well, they have some pretty amazing coffee…and gluten free crepes. There is no concern of cross contamination with the crepes because all of their crepes are gluten free. So I had my favorite crepe filled with Banana Nutella with an iced decaf coffee. It was lovely to sit and read and enjoy a breakfast that I did not prepare…a rather rare treat.

After breakfast I went to the library. It seems like every time I am in the library lately I am in a hurry, and need to get in and drop off books, grab my reserve items, and head out. There has been very little time for browsing or just appreciating the quiet and cool of the library. This changed on Saturday, when I opted to just wonder. I looked through the new books, I browsed the biographies, and I picked out a few movies. It was lovely and quiet and relaxed, and I spent the afternoon reading.

Sunday was busier to start, but not the usual full tilt of meetings. J. is in town visiting, and Sunday was one of the days we were slated to hang out. After a mad dash of muffin baking, printing very necessary paperwork, and preparing to head out the door, J. and caught up for breakfast before heading to church. After church, there was sushi, a bit of time to just chill, and then dinner prep and baking. When J. lived in the area, we would spend Sunday afternoons cooking lunches for the week, and it was fun to momentarily re-establish our old routine, especially in my spacious kitchen.

Overall the weekend was relaxing and enjoyable…which made it much easier when I came to Monday morning. 🙂

Weekend Recap: All work and no play…

This weekend was mostly about being productive, with little bits of rest stuck neatly in between. Friday, pretty much as soon as I walked in the door I started a host of chores. The first on the list: putting away laundry. I tend to do laundry…and then just leave it in the laundry basket. Or in my chair. Or on top of the paperwork on the desk. Or where ever I can find space in the moment. But none of those places seem to be in my dresser. So, I took the time to put all of my laundry away. And make dinner, bake a batch of gluten free pecan banana muffins, and make iced coffee for the weekend.

Saturday was a touch more relaxed. I slept in a bit, met a friend for brunch downtown (I love bacon, cheddar, avocado omelets, especially when someone else is making them), and ran a few errands before meandering home for some Olympic viewing in the afternoon. After watching the Williams sisters make it to the finals round of doubles tennis, I found a soccer match- South Korea vs. Great Britain. The match was quite a long one, with 2 extra overtime periods, finally ending with a penalty kick-off. What made me laugh as I watched the soccer match was how emotional involved I become. I was cheering on Great Britain, and I found it heartbreaking when they lost.

In the evening, I worked on a bit of paperwork, before settling in for the evening. One of my roommates and I opted for a fast dinner of rotissere chicken and leftover veggies while watching The Italian Job which remains one of my absolute favorite movies. There may or may not have been a brief intermission for an ice cream run in there.

Sunday was full. Not bad, just full. Really, my weekends are Friday night and Saturday…which is something I am still adjusting too.

So…what was your weekend like? Lazy mornings, or still having to hit the snooze button on the alarm? Ice cream to beat the heat and old movies, or a trip to the movie theater?



Weekend Recap: A few hundred miles and four days later

A bit of home.

This past weekend was a travel weekend, thus my delayed weekend cap and my lack of Anna Karenina posts. I had been hoping for a trip to Maryland to see family and friends this summer, and that opportunity finally came this past weekend.

Friday was a travel day, logging 255 miles of road time, 2 bottles of water, 3 snacks,  6 different radio stations, and 1 stop to stretch my legs. Arriving at my destination (my Mom and Stepfather’s house) was glorious, and not just because there was steak, baked potatoes, and salad waiting for me. 🙂
Saturday was a day for sleeping in, although I didn’t, and just having the chance to spend time with people. After hanging out with my Stepdad, and their new Yorkie Molly in the morning, I headed over to the local farmer’s market and bought three pounds of amazing Furnace Hills Coffee (I highly recommend their coffee, which I regularly have shipped to New York). I also got to meet the staff behind the coffee- Dave Baldwin, Erin Baldwin, and Lia Moore, which was amazing! Thanks for taking the time to chat!

After meandering the Farmer’s Market, and then stopping by a local salon for a haircut, my parents and I headed to Wegman’s for my great gluten free adventure. Assembling the necessary ingredients to bake, or even finding a decent package of gluten free cookies can be a bit of a challenge. My Mom, after some research, discovered that Wegman’s had an amazing gluten free section, and so we headed for a shopping spree. I now have 4 or 5 gluten/corn free cookie and cake mixes, gluten/corn free all-purpose flour, bread crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, pasta, and corn free tomato sauce.

The store in and of itself was an experience. I have never been in a store quite so large, or quite so crowded. In addition to the normal grocery store aspect (but think more high-end grocery store), there was also a massive food market/food court. You could get anything from coffee to baked goods to sandwiches to sushi. It was slightly overwhelming.

Saturday night, I was able to catch up with one of my best friends and her husband and kids. We talked, I got updated pictures, we watched some of the Olympics, and for a grand finale, we had a bonfire and toasted marshmallows.

Sunday was a little quieter, but not much. In the morning, Mom and I attended the church I grew up in. After church we hit Panera for lunch with friend, before I headed out to Columbia to see my Dad, Stepmother, and three sisters.

Waking up Monday was tough, particularly because I knew it meant returning to New York. After breakfast with a friend, a trip out to a local farm for some more produce (I couldn’t leave the area without cantalope, watermelon, and the amazing peaches I had tried), my parents and I loaded up my stuff for the trip back. Although the return trip seemed to move faster, it was still the return trip.

What made this trip home different was that I was different. I just finished grad school, and really, this was the first time visiting home knowing that I wasn’t living there because of school, but because I had chosen to live in a different place. It made me thoughtful, nostalgic, and a little sad. Especially since I know that these short visits are more the reality.


Weekend Recap: Reading, writing, & resurrecting baking

Friday afternoon turned out to be a bit on the rainy, cold, and slightly yucky side, but that actually worked in my favor. After finishing up some errands  I went home, plopped my laptop on the dining room table, made a pot of tea, and then spent much of the afternoon sending out emails, working with an online survey, and finishing up the remains of a lesson plan for Sunday. After I finished my work for the afternoon, I headed down to the french patisserie downtown and met a friend for coffee.

Saturday was again quiet. I did the normal practical things that are part of a weekend- a bit of cleaning and some laundry, but I spent alot of my day just reading. I wasn’t feeling well, and although it was absolutely beautiful outside, I was reluctant to go out to run errands. Since it was one of the rare occasions when my schedule was blank AND the house was empty, I opted to take a nap on the living room couch, and I found afterwords I felt a ton better.

I felt good enough, in fact, to attempt baking. Now, for a little practical background, you should know that I LOVE to bake. Or I did, until this past September when I was diagnosed with Celiac disease (an inherited autoimmune disease in which eating gluten causes an immune system reaction in the small intestine). When baking became complicated, if not seemingly impossible because of my inability to consume wheat and later, corn, I quit baking.

My family and friends, not completely content with the fact that I’ve just given up have been trying to encourage me to get back into it. And honestly, I miss it. I miss having fresh baked muffins on Sunday morning, and creating something new for dessert when friends are coming for dinner. I miss Christmas baking, and looking for random cookie recipes to try. I miss knowing that I can turn the bananas going bad in the kitchen into banana bread.

So this weekend, armed with a peanut butter cookie recipe containing only three ingredients – peanut butter, sugar, and an egg, I gave baking another shot for the first time in awhile. And I loved it.

The cookies were good, although incredibly rich. And while they may not be my biggest victory, they are certainly an important start on my journey back to baking.


Weekend Recap: Readathons and exciting arrivals

I originally envisioned this past weekend as a time to get a fair amount of work done around the house. But when I got home from work on Friday, I realized how exhausted I was from the week and the house was empty and quiet. It didn’t take long for me to realize I wanted a completely different plan for my weekend.

I had been considering a readathon to tackle my increasingly lengthy to be read pile from my Summer Reading Challenge, my Summer Reading booklist, and my library loot for this week, but in reviewing my calendar, I realized it was an impossibility- my schedule is incredibly full and I wasn’t going to be able to devote much time to it. So, instead, I ventured on Friday and Saturday to have my own mini readathon. I was able to read ahead just a bit for my Anna Karenina read-along, and I fully completed two books: Death Comes to Pemberley and How to Love An American Man: A True Story. I loved being able to conquer some of the TBR pile, and it was relaxing to simply spend time reading, something that feels delightfully decadent to me.

Sunday, was much less calm, and involved absolutely no reading. I had been asked by a good friend, L. to be one of her on-call people to watch her son H. when she was going to the hospital to give birth to Little J. So, at 5:29am on Sunday, I received the call from L. that I needed to get over to her house because Little J. was preparing for his appearance.

Around 11:28am, Little J. made his appearance to the world. After spending the day with Little J.’s big brother, H. we were able to meet Little J. It was an honor to be on call for my friends in anticipation of the arrival of their second son, to babysit their oldest, and to meet their newest little one only hours after he was born. And seeing big brother meet little brother is an experience I will never, ever forget. 🙂

Congratulations L., R., & H. on the arrival of Little J.! So excited for you all!

Weekend Recap: Quiet.

Quiet. This word perfectly describes what was altogether a lovely weekend. Some may substitute the word boring after reading this post…but honestly, I’ll take boring any day.

Saturday began leisurely. I woke up early (my body, when I am not sleep deprived, is actually programmed to wake up after 8 hours), and just stayed in bed for awhile reading. I meandered to my laptop after awhile to check my email and post about Anna Karenina before heading the kitchen for breakfast and coffee.

I had a chance to catch up on a few phone calls with family and friends, and because I just can’t sit still, I cleaned while I talked. It was nice to be able to talk with people and not be concerned with rushing off the phone. My Dad and I talked for quite awhile, and it was great hearing about how much he volunteers on the Alumni Board for his alma mater. I had no idea he was that involved, but I am really proud of him for volunteering and working with students. Both my Mom and my Stepfather have always taught me the importance of giving back, and it was so cool to realize its a value that spans my entire family.

When I stopped by the grocery store in the morning, I went by the Redbox to pick up a movie, thinking it was a good way to stay out of the heat, and really, its been awhile since I’ve watched a movie. I picked up Tower Heist, which I watched with one of my roommates in the afternoon.

I loved it. Its been awhile since I’ve sat down to watch a movie, or that a movie has captured my attention so thoroughly that I actually wanted to focus on the movie and not pull out a cross stitch, or an additional project. Tower Heist had some fun twists, a lot of action, some funny line, and had both Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy in very different roles for each.

Sunday was back onto the normal schedule, but the afternoon was quiet, with dinner in the crockpot, and the weather more temperate. I took my project outside and sat in a chair overlooking the Hudson. Altogether, no a bad way to spend a weekend.

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