Goals Update


Awhile back I blogged - like way back - that by the time I went back to work I was hoping to get a visitor to my site from each of the 50 states. Every now and then I check the Google Analytics profile to see how I'm doing. Fun Jen Fact? I love analytics, numbers, and graphs. I'm a huge nerd.

So with less then two weeks left before I start work again, here is how I'm doing ....
With two weeks to go before my initial "goal date", I'd be happy if I hit 40 states I think. I'm not surprised that I haven't gotten a hit from Alaska, Hawaii, or Idaho ... or those other "middle states" ... but VERMONT? Granted I haven't exactly been sending letters to the Chamber of Commerce begging for followers, but I would have figured I would know someone in Vermont that might have checked my blog. Alas, no ... :)

For fun, here is where I stand on the world map for visitors:

Peace out girl scout.

A note to my fellow MBA'ers


Back in the way beginning - otherwise known as Fall 2008 - I started my MBA program at Boston College. It was an incredible experience that I'd love to expound upon any time I'm given the opportunity. From one of our esteemed professors, we often got many reading recommendations ... some were eagerly completed and others not so much.
The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility"
One of them that fit into the later category was the book, The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. As you can see from my Amazon Shopping Cart, I added that item to my virtual to-do list nearly two years ago.
Well, I finally checked the book out of the library a few weeks ago before I went to the Vineyard ... I cracked open the cover on the book ... read 3 pages and closed it.

The book is dry dry dry my friends. I couldn't make much progress and frankly I'm a little disappointed in myself. But not too disappointed since I already returned it to the library...

I guess, I'll never be able to knock this reading list item off my to-do list.

Camping (in the backyard)

Life in the suburbs has definitely been about creating adventures and fun in many different ways. A few weeks ago, I was helping my brother seals the seams on his new tent for camping - which was certainly not something I would have done in my "city life".

I ended up using nail polish remover to get rid of the super sticky sealer that was on my hands. Gross.

We extended the outdoor day by having smores around the fire that night - that were phenomenal.
Recipe for awesome = smore - Hershey bar + Reese cup. Fact.

Well, after a delicious smore (modified) and two glasses of wine around a crackling fire pit... I agreed to sleep in the recently sealed tent in the backyard. I can't say it was the best sleep I ever had - in fact I'm pretty sure I slept better on the Inca Trail - but it was yet another great summer memory... complete with headlamps :)

Here are a few more of our pictures from the adventure:

My 20th Book of the Summer


I just finished my 20th book of the summer... and it was really funny.
We Thought You Would Be Prettier: True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive

I've got another book from the same author out from the library and I think I'll probably laugh just as loud.

A July Retrospective

As my summer vacation comes to a close, I've been enjoying looking at some of the pictures I've taken in the mornings during my quiet beach time.

The beach has been breathtaking and gorgeous and phenomenal and majestic and .... more?

Here is a taste of some of the AM Minot beach magic from July:

Dinner Tonight is....


a grown-up meal!

Jake was out of the house tonight and so I decided we'd have a grown-up meal.... and by that I mean we'd eat something that was simply out of Jake's comfort zone. He's 11 - so the zone is pretty small.

This picture doesn't really capture the meal all that well, but we had cod cooked on the grill and asparagus.

I picked up all the ingredients from Shaws and went to town. I was a little nervous about the flaky fish cooking ... and staying together... well on our grill. I decided to cook the fish in individual servings wrapped in tinfoil. The cod was seasoned with salt and pepper and laid on tinfoil sprayed in PAM. I threw a wee bit of butter on the top for additional flavor/moisture. I then crunched up some Ritz Crackers for the top and dropped some Bleu Cheese on that. I wrapped them up like a bagel to go and put those puppies on the grill. 20 minutes later and they were done.

The asparagus was seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. I bunched them in groups of 3-4 and then wrapped those suckers in prosciutto. I drizzled a little bit more olive oil on them before putting them on the grill on low heat. When the prosciutto was crispy, they were done ... about 5-8 minutes.

The meal was very loosely based off of these two recipes online:

Another great summer meal ... at home... on the grill .... with the family.

Seaweed Invasion

I came home from the Vineyard on Thursday to find seaweed had taken over Minot Beach.

At some points the walls of seaweed were about 3 feet high ... and dense. I'm not sure what they are going to do about this little situation but there are some mighty pissed town ladies gossiping at the beach. Heck, if I was renting a beach cottage I'm pretty sure I'd want to be able to lay a towel on the sand ... not a bed of decomposing sea foliage.

Since the pictures couldn't really capture the magnitude of the natural phenomena, I took some video as well.

Here are a few more quick pictures that I took on Friday and this morning as part of my obvious need to capture the "scene".

Home Sweet Home


Just got home from the Vineyard ... and while I'll be sure to provide a more detailed post later... I just wanted to share a picture of my adventures today.

Went out to Chappy this morning and took a leisurely stroll through one of the nature preserves out there... so gorgeous.

Looking forward to sharing more of the pictures!

A few quick notes:
1) I didn't see Obama on my vacation
2) It rained for two days straight
3) I love love love love my Eye-Fi Card.

Wet Cement? CHECK!


I feel like it part of human nature to want to write in wet cement. Right? Ok, well I've always wanted to do it and so thats why I put it on my life list.

I think I had probably recently seen this episode of The Office perhaps ... 

I have no desire to put my face in wet cement - even if I have a straw and a faithful companion like Dwight - but I did want to leave my mark on society.

It seemed oddly fitting that I found wet cement outside of my apartment in Brighton shortly before I moved in May. I can't remember the actual date that I did the "damage" but here is the evidence that I completed my task.

As you can see, I wasn't the only one to leave my mark behind. I was with my friend who acted as the lookout while I first wrote "TWSS" as a homage to our social groups love of saying "That's What She Said" ... made more famous by Michael Scott of The Office.

Then realizing that I could probably also leave my name... I included my initials nearby as well.

I'd be lying if I said this wasn't a little bit thrilling for me. Embarrassing huh? Oh well :)

End result:
- Excellent Memory
- Semi-permanent mark on society
- One more item off the Life Bucket List

Vineyard Bound


I'm heading on a Martha's Vineyard adventure tomorrow!

I'll be on the "island" until either Thursday or Friday - depending on whether the waitlist gods give us another day of relaxation ... or make us leave. Cross your fingers for me!

I'm really looking forward to hitting up some old favorites, while getting to a few locales that I haven't ever really touched.

One of my favorite places to visit .... ALWAYS.... are the Gay Head Clay Cliffs. I'm always amazed by the beauty. Its really breathtaking.
This picture is actually from Memorial Day 2004 - but serves the point none the less.

I won't be blogging much - if at all - this week since I'll be internet free. You can look forward to a few picture blog posts every now and then!


Amazon Purchase


Kerrianne and I just ordered a few items from Amazon ....
MIU 10-Inch Stainless Steel Mojito Muddler, Colors may vary

Norpro Cocktail Shaker with Strainer
In the event you can't tell, we ordered a cocktail shaker and a real muddler. For the majority of the summer - and let's be honest spring, fall and winter .... - we've been using the back of a wooden spoon. Now, don't get me wrong - that works just fine ... but we are going to step it up a notch.

I really like where the last three weeks of my summer are going!


I have a few tasks on my "bucket" list of things I'd like to do before the summer is over - or perhaps just in general.

The last few weeks I've been hitting up the local farmer's markets with my Mom. There is one in North Scituate on Wednesdays and one in Cohasset Center on Thursdays. They are pretty similar but I prefer the Scituate one ... because there are less children.

I first noticed the pickling cucumbers at the Cohasset market and snatched them up real quick. Making pickles - or just pickling anything really - has been on my "list" for a few months now and rumor has it... its super easy.

I found a super easy recipe online and went to work. Jake and I made the trip to Whole Foods in Hingham with the hopes that finding the ingredients would be a snap. False. We couldn't get mustard seed, coriander seed, or dill seed. So, in the end we just went with fresh dill and ground coriander. I think it was totally fine and we've gotten some pretty rave reviews about the fresh pickles.

... and ta-dah here is the finished product!

For those of you wondering .... you can also use regular cucumbers. I think they just have a little less crisp to them when they are done - and perhaps more seeds in the middle. We made two test batches one with pickling cucumbers and one without - so I know they both turn out fine!

End result:
- delicious pickles!
- one more item off my bucket list!

Flowers for me?


I was recently given flowers for no occasion... and it was awesome.

It was not:
- my birthday
- a holiday
- a party
- a Friday or Saturday

It was a Monday and I made dinner. I couldn't believe it.

Apparently, chivalry does still exist?

A few notes:
- My sister made the vase ... gorgeous huh?
- Yeah, I have a small collection of VW Bug cars. What about it?
- That family photo in the background is from 1999. Jake was months old... scary.

Groundhog Phil has nothing on me

Tonight I went for a 3 mile run around the neighborhood instead of going to the gym. I feel really lucky each morning that I get to watch the sunrise here - and an evening run is certainly in that realm as well.

I have begun to love running a lot more in the last few months - but I can't say I've quite gotten over the concept of people watching me run. I know silly right? But I'm convinced I make weird faces and would prefer to run with strangers who aren't going to remember my sweaty, exhausted face.

So, while I would never show you a picture of myself running .... I think the picture of my shadows is one of the best things about a late afternoon, early evening run. Its so gorgeous before sunset and I love watching my tall shadow run across the marsh and by the ocean.

running along Glades Road heading South

Running along Baileys Causeway heading East towards the Ocean

Dear Life ...


Dear Life,
You are awesome.

Environmental Sustainability: Fail?

"This bag is not only dangerous, this thing is so freaking loud..."

I saw an article on the cover of my WSJ this morning and was intrigued enough that I pulled up the article on my ole Macbook. The article is pretty interesting and really had some great user quotes about how people are reacting to the louder bags being used by SunChips. My particular favorite? "the worst when your stoned at 2am and trying to not wake up the house" was posted by an outraged customer to the "SORRY BUT I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THIS SUN CHIPS BAG" Facebook page. The Facebook page had 29,949 fans at the time of publication ... and now has 30,066 as of 9 am on Wednesday.

The article pointed to a video that was made by J. Scot Heathman. According to his LinkedIn profile (yeah, I googled him), he is an Air Force pilot and an attractive one at that ladies. He also has this company/blog called HealthaplexVISION where he posted this video. The purpose of his site? "helping people make the best decisions possible when it comes to their home theater, technology, and gadget needs". Anyway, the video is pretty neat and definitely worth the 4 minutes and 22 seconds I spent watching it. Enjoy.

Potato Chip Technology That Destroys Your Hearing from heathaplexVISION on Vimeo.

Surburban FourSquare

Perhaps you've heard about FourSquare?... and perhaps you've seen some news articles related promotions that "Venues" are giving to mayors?

If not, read these articles to catch up.
- What is FourSquare?
- UK Dominos profit up 29% from social media efforts
- Ann Taylor Mayors get 25% off in NYC


As a suburban user of FourSquare there aren't nearly as many advantages I think as being an urban user - since a lot of the promotions seem to be obviously for areas where network effects can be greater. One perk? I'm currently the "mayor" of 16 venues. Foursquare has a badge called the "super mayor" that is awarded if you can maintain 10 mayorships at once ... well FourSquare, raise the bar cause I have 16. (Here is a list of active/retired badges, no guarantee its totally accurate)
In the event you are wondering, they are all located in about a 8 mile radius around my house with the exception of the Inishmore Guesthouse which is in Galway, Ireland. Foursquare has a pretty interesting history/statistics page where you can analyze your activity. I'm sure you are interested in what I've been doing the last month, so here is my report.

I'm still going to be a loyal FourSquare user and diligently checkin when I remember - but it would be lovely if any of the following happened:
  1. more of my friends joined
  2. I got free fresh bread from French Memories for being the mayor
  3. I could reserve my favorite locker at the gym (#21) for being the mayor
  4. The people at Starbucks gave me a free Tazo Passion Ice Tea Lemonade (seriously, its phenomenal).

Meal Inspiration


Nearly a year ago, I went on a solo dinner in Princeton, NJ on my way back to my apartment from Philadelphia. I stopped at this restaurant called the Bluepoint Grill on a whim and had one of the most simple, yet delicious meals ever. It was awesome.

To this day, I have dreamed of those oysters you are eying. I always wish I had asked for the recipe - and sometimes I think I still should... it was that good.

Well, tonight I took a first pass at them based on this recipe I found online. I modified it a bit of course by probably adding too many ingredients and not enough breadcrumbs - but its clearly a work in progress. Unlike many of the cooking attempts, I didn't take many pictures of this one but here are two (one before the grill, and one after).

I added corn to the recipe - and tomato ... and shallot. I think I can do better than this attempt, although it was delicious ... and definitely didn't spoil my memory of trying to recreate that incredible meal.

Blueberry Picking!


Last week, some of the family managed to escape for a few hours and go blueberry picking. We went at the Tree Berry Farm in Scituate on a nice sunny day and really had a great time.

From 2010.08.12 - Blueberry Picking

We were probably there for about an hour - and the place was certainly busy. We had to go into the depths of the farm in order to find a little bit of quiet and some berries since it was late in the season. Everybody has something they'd like to make with the FOUR POUNDS of berries we picked:
  • Jake = blueberry lemonade
  • Mom = blueberry cobbler
  • Dad = blueberry pancakes
Me? I'm satisfied with a blueberry loaf. I actually made it yesterday and will post some pictures later.

From 2010.08.12 - Blueberry Picking
From 2010.08.12 - Blueberry Picking

Here is the link to our whole album:

Its official....

I have registered for the Philadelphia Half Marathon. This will be a a big challenge and I'm excited for it. I have been thinking about it all summer - but it was time to make a decision for realsies.

I welcome any and all tips that you may have about running longer races like this!

New presents for Jen


I'm going to the Vineyard in a week or so and decided to buy myself a present or two for the trip ... and just for the rest of the summer.

Before I went to Ireland I bought myself a Nikon D3000 as a graduation present - and I really like it. I am a complete novice about all the functionality but regardless very happy with the camera. Now, if only I would finish editing my Ireland pictures and share those.... a project for another day.
Nikon D3000 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens
The camera came with what I would call a basic, all purpose lens that has been very useful ... but I've been hoping for a bit more zoom at times. So I bought myself a new lens that should take care of this for me.
Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR [Vibration Reduction] Zoom Nikkor Lens 
In order to save some bucks, I did buy it refurbished off eBay for a fraction of the new price - which is great. I can't wait to capture the beauty of the Gay Head Cliffs, Edgartown Light, and more ....

The last purchase I made this morning is pretty neat or so I think. I only wish I had it before I went to Ireland! I bought a new memory card that will fit both my "point and shoot" and my "big" camera. The cool part of it is that it records the location of where you take each picture - so there will be no more trying to figure out the location of that gorgeous sunset.
Eye-Fi Explore X2 8 GB Class 6 SDHC Wireless Flash Memory Card EYE-FI-8EX
The Eye-Fi card had a few options - or levels - but I decided to go with one step down from the top. The only difference being that this one won't store RAW images - which is fine for my purposes. I also bought this one off eBay but brand new, not used like the lens.

Can't wait for my vacation!

The Price is... Creepy?


I think we all have some fond memories of watching the Price is Right when we were growing up. Well... today I was at the gym running and happened to catch a few peeks at the new version with Drew Carey. Granted, I didn't listen to anything Drew or his contestants were saying since I was busy running to some sweet Kanye West beats ... but it was not at all the same as what I remembered.

Maybe its my own perception but there is just something weird slash creepy about Drew Carey standing in front of a florescent background ... in a way that was oddly comforting when Bob Barker did it. Here are two screengrabs so you can judge for yourself:

Bob Barker recently had some slightly critical words for Drew Carey as well ... which of course I caught on TMZ.com since I'm such a purveyor of quality news media.
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