Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Good weekend with a great friend

This past weekend our wonderful friend (and matron of honor at our wedding) Lauren came to visit! She and I have been friends since the beginning of college when we both tried out for drumline - and conveniently lived in dorms that were right next to each other. Now, our arrangement isn't so convenient, as she lives in Georgia and I'm in Connecticut, but we make sure to stay in touch and really look forward to the opportunities we have to get together.

Lauren flew into New York City late last week, and Shaun and I took the train down to meet her on Saturday morning. Our friend Liz also made her way up from the Philadelphia area, and we all went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka "The Met"). I ended up not taking any pictures there, and I will admit I'm not a big art person, but it was very cool to see the assortment of artifacts from various points in history - like Egyptian scrolls from 1300 B.C., statues from ancient Greece, and full suits of armor. It made me wonder what kinds of things from our era might end up in a museum someday!

After that, since the Met is right next to Central Park, we took a little stroll to Belvedere Castle.

Shaun and I visit NYC occasionally, but this is a part of Central Park we had never been to. It was nice, but as you can see, the algae-topped water was pretty gross! We felt bad for the ducks trying to churn their way through it.

On the way back to Grand Central, Shaun had to stop and take a picture of the Plaza Hotel...aka the place Kevin McCallister stayed in Home Alone 2. Watching Home Alone 1 & 2 is part of our holiday routine every year, so of course we had to point out the landmark!

Here is where Kevin gets picked up in his limo...yeah, I know it's just a movie.

After dinner and seeing Liz off, Shaun and I brought Lauren back to our place for the night. We were exhausted from our day of walking in the city, so Sunday was pretty low-key. We showed her around our town and took her to see a pretty view at Lover's Leap park.

It's hard to see here, but I'm wearing the awesome shirt Lauren brought me from the NBC store as a belated birthday present...it simply reads, "I want to go to there". 30 Rock fans will get it!

We had a great weekend for the most part, but unfortunately we got stuck in MAJOR traffic Sunday night trying to get Lauren back to LaGuardia and she missed her flight. It was absolutely ridiculous - it usually takes us 1.5 hours or less to get there, and this time it took at least 2.5 hours. We got her to a hotel right by the airport and she was rebooked for Monday morning, but we were all pretty aggravated for awhile there. On our way back Shaun said, "I don't care if it's more expensive to fly out of Westchester or Hartford...I never want to drive to LaGuardia or JFK again!" I can't say I blame him...at least we might have enough airline miles to get a free ticket soon.

I'm so glad Lauren was able to come up to visit. We hadn't seen her since the wedding! It was harder to say goodbye than I expected...it's kind of the same with my family - I don't think about being away from them a lot on a day-to-day basis, as I've gotten used to the distance. But then I get used to spending time with people and realize how much I've missed them. Guess I just have to keep building up those miles...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Out of shape

It's been awhile...I just haven't been a very inspired blogger lately. I've at least made a step (or perhaps a pedal) in the right direction physically though, as Shaun and I finally made our purchase of a recumbent exercise bike. We've gone way too long without a consistent workout routine, and though we've been blessed with decent metabolism, we know that doesn't get us off the hook.

I feel kind of sad that I've descended into this state of dread toward exercise. In high school (yeah, I know that was 10 years ago) I was on the swimming team, and with dry land conditioning plus pool time, I would work out for three hours a day, Monday through Saturday, minus the one meet day we would have most weeks. That was actually my favorite part - despite my usually low-key nature, I thrived on competition in the pool, and seeing someone coming up the lane next to me would always push me to go faster. Sometimes I miss that!

I didn't have a workout routine per se in college, but during football season Shaun and I would both march around wearing 40lb drums for a couple hours a day (and much longer on game days). I think that counts for something! But we both had activity overload throughout our school years and since then have been reveling in our ability to be lazy after coming home from work, aside from the occasional walk or hike during nicer weather.

But no more laziness here. We decided on the bike because we figured A. if we have a way to work out that involves sitting and even watching TV in our own basement, we might actually do it, and B. it's a better value for us than going to a gym where we probably wouldn't use most of the stuff they offer. Plus no one wants to see me all gross and sweaty.

My nemesis...just kidding. I actually had no idea there was a slot for books and stuff until I took this picture.

I admire people who train for marathons or bike an insane amount of miles per day, but I just don't have the drive for that. So for now, I'm just trying to do some sort of workout most days of the week for my own health...so I don't feel quite as guilty about having dessert, or try to convince myself my shorts just "shrank in the wash". It's only been a couple of weeks since we got the bike, but I just want to know when I'm going to start feeling better from working out, instead of exhausted!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Easy Crumbly Cornbread

Once again, I must give credit to my mom for pointing me toward a recipe. I'm not sure how she chose this one out of all the cornbread recipes out there, but Shaun and I are grateful - it's really tasty! Of course, with two sticks of butter included, it's not something we have all the time (and I rationalize it since it's not like we eat it in one sitting, right??). But just as we like our soft and crumbly cupcakes, we like this soft and crumbly cornbread. Throw some honey butter on there and mmmm...good stuff.

I hired my hubby as the photographer for this post...I think I might give him the permanent position!

The original recipe can be found on cooks.com, but I changed a few ingredient amounts and cleaned up the directions a bit. The first time I made the original, the middle was underdone while the edges got dark. To avoid that the second time, I turned it into corn muffins instead, but we didn't like that quite as much as the original. This last time, I used the amounts below in the 9 x 13 pan, and it was just about perfect - but there's definitely some leeway if you want to experiment.

Easy Crumbly Cornbread

1/2 lb. butter
3 eggs
1 cup milk (original says 1 1/4 cups)
3 cups pancake mix
2/3 cup sugar (original says up to 1 cup)
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 to 3/4 cup cornmeal

While pre-heating oven to 350 degrees, melt butter in 9 x 13-inch pan in oven. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat eggs with milk in a separate bowl. When butter is melted, carefully remove from oven, and pour egg/milk mixture and butter into dry mix. Stir to combine - batter will have a few lumps. Pour into the butter-greased pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until center is firm to touch. Allow to stand 3-5 minutes before serving.