An odd bunch


Since I've been working in NYC, I would get really excited if I saw a celebrity. I would even blog about it if I could identify the actual name of the person. I didn't really have much in the way of expectations for this weekend getaway for celebrities. My expectations were to soak up some sun, get some sleep, and take some pictures. I can successfully say that we've done that... and more.

Along the way, we've run into a handful of celebrities that could not be more different from each other. It almost sounds like a joke to list of their "professions" together. A fame-whoring father, a comedian, and a (iron) chef.

The Fame-whoring Father. Spotted Michael Lohan at the pool on Friday morning with some tramp-like blonde girl. I was standing at the pool's edge talking to baby sister in the chair when I kind of locked eyes with this gentleman who was wearing far too many articles of clothing for a hot pool day. I told her that I was 98% sure it was Michael Lohan. Not being able to make the connection or recognize him, she decided to say loudly "Lohan" to test it out. Needless to say, she trusts me now. (Side note, I did some googling... and it turns out that he was in town to speak at a center for troubled teens. WTF).

A few samples of his crazy influence? His son wants to change his name. Has a crazy ex-fiancée who was was a tabloid reporter.

The Comedian. We heard from the Gift Shop lady that Jay Leno would be in town for this antique car show that the resort was having this weekend. I'm not sure we expected to see him being as this is like a gazillion acre resort and I'm pretty sure I'd lose Baby Sister if we didn't have cellphones. BUT, this morning while hanging in the Palm Court I smiled at Jay Leno ... and he smiled at me.... or maybe we both smiled at the same time?
Mr. Leno is the guy in the Navy jacket with grey hair over my shoulder. Prettttty exciting.

The Chef. Last night we went to dinner at Marimoto, a sushi restaurant on the property. The restaurant is run by the Iron Chef Marimoto - baby sister's favorite Iron Chef. She was pumped enough to eat there ... and tonight she got to see him in person. Although this picture shows how close she got, it was still a victory.

Tomorrow is our last day at the Wally and I guess anything is possible based on what we've seen so far... but I'm half hoping for a quiet last day by the pool :)

Happy 200th Blog Post to Me!


This is my 200th blog post. I found it oddly worrisome about what I would write about (or not) - like there was someone out there who would find fault in my celebration. This is oddly hilarious because thanks to Google Analytics I know approximately how many people read my blog... and how many open it and close it really quickly. All of this "pressure" got to me enough that I didn't even post on my "blogaversary" which was yesterday ... I'm being a tad bit dramatic, I know.

But, I do feel its rather interesting to look back on the year since I started to blog. I was a very different person one year ago today. I don't really share personal feelings on this site. If you read this you know that I'm more apt to tell you about my latest Amazon purchase and how I'm maximizing my Hilton Rewards. But, as a point of reflection a year ago I was a different person. There were highs and lows of course - many more highs than lows. The highs being my incredible friends, getting my MBA, and making some really great memories. The lows aren't important to discuss. If you know me, you know the lows.

Now? I've been working for corporate America for 6 months and living the dream. That is, if living the dream is making Powerpoints and collecting Hilton points.... not really the dream right? Still, I can't complain too much. But thanks to all those Hilton Points, I'm taking in some sun with Baby Sister in Boca Raton at the Waldorf Astoria. I like to call it "The Wally". The Wally is pretty great because pretty much nobody tells you "no". 

We are hanging here until Monday late afternoon at which point we'll return to reality aboard our Spirit Air flights - which I'm sure baby sister will blog about... cause it is .... special. Until then, this is what I'll be looking at all day.... Enjoy.

(Not a) case of the Mondays


Normally Mondays are fine days, I wake up early but it all seems just a bit rushed until I get to the hotel at night. I celebrate the end of the day by ordering a bacon cheese burger from room service with extra crispy fries. Last week I forgot to tell them to bring BBQ sauce.... and they sent it anyway. I'm a creature of habit, sue me.

But today... what a great Monday... and I'd like to show you why. It was a great combo of leggings, comfy chairs, and comfort food...
Cat shirt with a cozy cat... she's not fighting me too much
packing for Boca ... I'm only bringing bathing suits and sundresses. That'll be fine right?
Afternoon cruise by the ocean. Looks cold. Really cold.
Crazy tasty BLT from Circe's Grotto...

My comfy chair ... I feel like I should be able to have one of these in NYC.
Afternoon break watching Golden Girls.... under multiple layers of quilts. Perfect.
Took a lovely bath... and had a visitor come and join me.

In 3 days, I'll be in sunny Florida with Baby Sister ... and that'll be great... but nothing beats a great day like today. Plus I'm finally not sore from doing lunges at the gym... so that's also a win.

Pretty day.... pretty life.

Normally on Mondays I am waking up at 5 in the morning to leave for NYC but this Monday I'll be working from my comfy chair in the comfort of my bedroom. Pure bliss. Another example of pure bliss? The gorgeous weather we had this weekend in Boston.

It was a great weekend of home cooked meals (yummy steak.... tasty pancakes) and relaxing time on the couch. Today I went out with baby sister to enjoy the setting sun and take in the pretty seaside.
I know its February obviously but when I was writing the album title I almost labeled it Fall. A lot of the snow is gone as a result of the warmer weather and rain, so it just looks chilly not snowy. Good thing I didn't impulse buy those snowshoes I've been thinking about earlier in the week.

How many is too many?


I've never really been one for vitamins. I don't really like to subscribe to anything that I need to do daily - except perhaps showering, coffee, and a few other activities. So when someone suggests that I should take a "daily vitamin" I've always run from that.

But for the past year we've had this bottle of Flintstones vitamins in the bathroom cabinet .... and I love them. Wait, let me clarify.... I love the red and purple ones. I will not eat the orange ones. According to the Flintstone website that would mean that I only like Pebbles, Bamm Bamm, Dino, Barney, and Betty. Sidenote: who is the Great Gazoo? I haven't watched cartoons in awhile, but I have zero recollection of this character.

I know they are meant for children as is indicated by the nutritional facts... but I have wondered what would be the recommended daily adult dose. If a 4 year old can have 1 and I am growing 27 year old, then does that mean I can have roughly 6 Flintstone vitamins a day. My curiosity peaked today and I finally googled this perplexity health question, apparently a 23 year old healthy female was also curious and posted this question.

I don't really feel like anyone really helped this woman out but I was a little more curious about who "MichelleT218" was and what other questions she might have posed to the internet. Apparently she likes to draw women's clothes - mainly juniors and plus sizes - and she's learning to sew. She also posts/responded to many questions about: online dating, hair growth, child support payments, and becoming a fashion stylist. True Story.

Thankfully the only thing I have in common with MichelleT218 is our interest in taking children's vitamins.

Dear Florida...


... get ready.

Baby sister is beginning her life as a working professional in March and we decided to celebrate this by burning some of my Hilton points. The plans have changed 6-19 times as hotels have become booked and flights have become more expensive... but its finalized.

Thanks to the fact that I on average live in Hilton 3-5 days a week we are staying at the Waldorf Astoria Boca Raton. The original plan was to feel super out of place and non-trendy in Miami but apparently everyone else also wanted to do that and the awesome Hilton on South Beach was booked up. Also... flights to Miami were crazy expensive and it didn't matter if we went from Boston or NYC. Its like everyone else is tired of being in the Snowy North or something... weird.

I've heard Boca Raton is crazy nice and .... expensive. So we'll probably steal as much as possible from breakfast and see how far my Diamond Status can get us for freebies. When I was trying to figure out how to best get to the fun castle, I opened the "Map & Directions" page. There are directions to arrive by plane, limo ... and yacht.

In the event, this adventure needed any extra comedic relief... we're flying Spirit Airlines. It was hard to argue with the price compared to the other airlines. We are each paying $300 to fly roundtrip direct to Florida.... Delta was the closest competitor at $650. The best part about Spirit - besides the name - is that they want to charge you for EVERYTHING. Picking seats ($10-$75), carry-on bags ($20), checked bags ($18) ... I'm half expecting they'll expect me to pay for oxygen if I start laughing too much during flight.

The adventure starts next Thursday at 6 am so stay tuned .... oh, and we'll be bringing the FlipCam with us.

Competitive Sleeping


I'm pretty sure the last time I thought about sleeping being competitive was in college. College felt like a constant contest to see who could nap better. I've never been a good napper. This summer I definitely got better at it but I'm pretty sure that the sun, relaxing, and my mid-afternoon gin and tonic had something to do with that....

Well, competitive sleeping is back.

You may (or probably not) have heard about this "new" product called a Wakemate. The WakeMate, a sensor-laden wristband packaged with sleep analysis software, determines the optimal wake-up point in your REM cycle and adjusts your alarm for that moment. Plus, 2 of the 3 smarty pants founders are Boston College alums .... and I'm a sucker for supporting an Eagle.

I have been impatiently waiting for my Wakemate since before Christmas - anytime I was sick or stressed out I thought about how I would have loved to know what was happening to my sleep score. Well, my wait ended this weekend with the arrival of my WakeMate. I've now slept with the snazzy wristband for two nights and wanted to share the stats.

My score for 2/12 is grossly inflated because pairing with a Blackberry was such a hassle that once it got it paired I just put it on my nightstand for a few hours until I was actually ready to use it.

On Sundays, I always get an awful nights sleep because I'm anxious about missing my train in the morning. I was curious to see whether or not it would be reflected in the data - and of course it was. Check out the charts below to see how much I toss and turn as it gets closer to 5 am when I need to wakeup.

Honestly, I was a little surprised when I saw the wristband. Despite seeing many pictures of it online, its a little bigger (just a teeny tiny bit) than I was expecting - BUT its covered in comfy fleece. So its also a lot more comfortable than I was expecting. There can't be anything sexier than strapping this bad boy on for a good nights sleep, right?

I'm pretty excited to see how my scores adjust over the next few days and weeks - but then again I'll admit I'm a little uptight after all I do keep track of my Amtrak and Hilton points in an excel spreadsheet.

Top 5: Railroad Bliss


I've often blogged about the things that make me happy... Kraft Mac & Cheese, Coffee, Tivo, Sun, large bodies of water (this includes giant bathtubs, but not lakes).... but I don't think I've done a list specific to travelling. Since I travel each week on the Acela to NYC, this seems like a giant oversight... so here is a top 5 of the things that make me happy on the train.

1) Footrest
I know this seems small - but it quite literally makes the whole experience more comfortable. I especially love that the Amtrak one folds out to make it two different heights. What I don't like? Folding them back up. I got my left thumb snapped in one in December and it hurt like a bitch. 
2) Giant Windows
These windows are gigantic. Now, I pretty much always pick the aisle seat because I'm a control freak .... but the giant windows let me see the pretty scenery as I coast through New England on my way to and from NYC (or further).
To be honest, I didn't take this picture myself ... and considering the amount of pictures I take with my phone its embarrassing I couldn't find one in my own collection.... but heck, this sure is pretty.

3) Less children
I love children. I really do. I'm one of the first to oooh and aaaah at babies and toddlers even if they aren't especially cute. But, by some miracle of nature people seem to only take children in cars and on planes. At this point I've probably just jinxed myself for the rest of my train life ....
Pretty sure they tell you to close those overhead compartments
4) Big Seats
Even when the train is stuffed to the brim with people, I still feel like I have personal space. I'm not a huge person but I have a solid 3 inches plus on either side of my before I get to the armrest. This is incredible. 
5) .....
The fifth is harder to come up with..... is it the large overhead storage? the no change fees on travel? the easy rewards system? I think its that I find less "fake" on the train. Its real people going places and I know that happens on a plane ... but it feels different. The conductor getting your ticket sometimes takes a minute to have a conversation and I can't even remember the last time someone taking my plane ticket made eye contact.

In the event you were wondering if I was qualified to make these decisions, I think I am. I have taken the Acela 27 times since mid-October. I'm also banana pancakes crazy enough that I keep track of this stuff in spreadsheets.
But, I've been part of a train family since birth... my parents attempted to take a cross country trip with me as an infant (we all jumped ship in Chicago). I've been pretty "local" in the last few years with the most recent trip  to Orlando in 2007 ... 

choo choo.

Oh hello there Montana, Alaska, and Hawaii.


While I would consider myself principled, when I want something I have been known to rationalize the hell out of a situation in order to make myself feel like I'm making the right decision. This behavior extends from procuring Starbucks to something worth much more (a la my ipad Max).

So when I set the goal of having a visitor from each state by my first blogging anniversary - I'm calling it my "blogaversary" .... I expected that I'd have to rationalize an extension.... but thanks to the Etrade baby and a friend I managed to lock-down 3 states this week! My friend, Aaron, is in the Navy and sent my blog to his friends that are in Alaska and Hawaii. Thanks!

So that just leaves Idaho, South Dakota, and Nebraska....

I'm not sure what I have to say about these states but perhaps I'll be able to cover these state associated topics before my blogaversary:
  • Idaho Potatoes
  • South Dakota's Mount Rushmore
  • Nebraska ... hello Warren Buffett

Customer Service Shocker

There are a handful of companies and industries out there that I think people find it very easy to hate. Some quick brainstorming with the household revealed this quick listing: 
  • Verizon Wireless
  • Comcast
  • Car Mechanics
  • DMV
  • the entire Airline industry
People use Twitter to often complain about and to companies. There are entire departments of people responsible for monitoring a company's brand over the interweb (ahem, baby sister's new job). I've successfully used Twitter once or twice to resolve service issues myself.

I though the most of "thank you" I could ever expect from a company would be a re-tweet ... or perhaps a form letter thanking you.... and then asking you to renew your contract with minimal benefit. Perhaps you can imagine my surprise when my mom got this thank you note from Verizon Wireless for purchasing a new work Blackberry....

Now the card did not have a huge long message and yes it did include a business card, but none the less.... it was a thank you card with a compliment. I'm still shocked.

I still am not fond of Verizon Wireless... perhaps in part because I can't believe I have to pay $5 for 250 text messages...

Talk Nerdy to Me ...


I've often told people that I want to have a dog some day .... and name it Interweb. But call it Webby for short. But don't worry, if for some reason my partner in crime at the time didn't like that name I'd happily settle for calling it Firefox and Foxy for short. I'm very willing to compromise.

Last night on Mashable I saw a Valentine's Day inspired post that both pulled at my heart strings and inspired laughter. The post was essentially techie inspired one-liners for Valentine's Day and I loved it. The images were designed by Shane Snow who is a contributor to Mashable. I only wished there were more than 5... enjoy. Here are my 3 favorite:

A Giant Tribute ...


.... or perhaps a tribute to something that was a giant?

A few weeks ago, one of the family cats passed away suddenly. Abner was 5 years old and a very unique cat. Its hard to describe Abner but if I had to pick a few words/phrases they'd probably include: giant, black, scared of his own shadow, and loyal.

We adopted Abner with his sister and for some reason chose to name them Abner and Gladys after the crazy neighbors on Bewitched. Can't quite remember how we came to this decision but a name is a name and it stuck.

Abner had a crazy special bond with my sister and although we all knew it you can really see it in the pictures. This cat quite literally would run to meet her when she came home and would spoon with her. Special is one word to describe their relationship.

Abner was so big that he could never manage to keep a collar on either. We aren't totally sure how he managed to break free of them but we would often find them on our front steps or at the end of the driveway when some unknown neighbor would bring them back to us. It got to the point where we ran out of tags because he lost collars after about 2 weeks of having them.

As a tribute to the giant black wonder of a cat, I went through the 7000 pictures that I have on my computer for the last few years and found some of Abner. (Some of the pictures have comments so be sure to click the little comment bubble on the side so you can see them)

When Kerrianne was abroad in Spain for 6 months, we even made a video of the cats for her as an Easter present. The video quality is pretty poor but here a few others I found in my hunt.

Abner you'll be missed but perhaps we can have a normal baby pool without fear now.

Peace out.

I bought hot sauce for the first time.

I've think I've always subscribed to the philosophy of thoroughly enjoying oneself on "big food" days. What's a big food day? Think 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Superbowl, March Madness Finals ... I'm sure there are some others I'm missing.

As a result, I'm not reaching for the celery and peanut butter when I'm thinking up something to make. Its just not my style. What is my style? Cheese. and. lots. of. it.

Result: Successful meal with a cheese in each "course" - that is if you can have courses on the Superbowl and if nachos can count as a first course.

On Saturday night, I did some googling of food blogs to see if anyone had a good suggestion for a Superbowl meal and stumbled across a gem of a recipe for Spicy Buffalo Chicken Balls recipe from Martha Stewart. You can check out the album below for some pictures of the process but the recipe turned out really well - and super easy.

I'd like to figure out how to make this into a suitable "toothpick" appetizer because I think it would be really great to bring to parties. But the way they come out right now its more of a finger food... that leaves you with buffalo chicken business on your fingers... and frankly that really isn't the way to meet new friends at a party - or is it? For a blue cheese dip, I used one that had plain yogurt in it ... and didn't tell my fellow diners because I guarantee they would have balked at having yogurt in their blue cheese. Result? They ate it right up. It for sure tastes a little different but nobody noticed enough to care. (see below for recipe)

So we wouldn't fill up on chicken balls - which still sounds weird to say - I also made a salad with homemade croutons. My mom labeled the dressing the best she ever had but I think she was just being generous. I did use some of my prized Round Pond Blood Orange Olive Oil which always raises the bar just a bit. So tasty.

As you can see in the pictures below, I got a little tired from rolling all those damn balls that I had to take a snack break in the middle. You'll have to look at the album to see what I snacked on.

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Balls recipe

Better Blue Cheese Dip (from this recipe)
1 ounce crumbled blue cheese
2/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. 
Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. 

Mix well with a fork, mashing cheese to combine. I added in more blue cheese to make it a little more traditional in texture .... but not more lemon juice.

Simple Spinach Salad
baby spinach
dried cranberries
crumbled gorgonzola
green grapes (cut in half)

Salad Dressing
Olive Oil
lemon juice
balsamic vinegar
bit o' kosher salt
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