Saturday, February 17, 2018

Date Nights - January 2018

We went for a little local flavor with our date nights this month. Chris found a unique duck pin bowling alley. I found a cooking class that focused on sheet pan dinners with root vegetables. Both nights were a lot of fun!

I loved duck pin bowling. First of all, it is just so cute. Everything is small - the pins, the ball, the lanes. It also helped that I won our first two games! Chris got a bit more into the groove of things after that first round. Plus, I told him a couple of my strategies. At least that's my story. At any rate, we had a great time. I highly recommend Pins (or any duck pin bowling experience, really).

I discovered Local Matters when we met the Executive Director and her husband at a Books and Brews event at the library this past fall. She mentioned to me when we met in early January that her non-profit offered cooking classes. It has long been my intention for one of our date nights to be a cooking experience so I was thrilled. Chris and I picked one that suited our interests and made a donation to them in exchange for a great night of fun and delicious food. Chris even managed to be selected to help with the protein portion of the meal. It was a fun night - we'll definitely try to go back in the future.

What are your favorite winter date night ideas?

Andrea :)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

DIY Valentine's Day Project

Last year, I decided to get creative with my Valentine's Day gift for Chris. I was still at my parent's house back in Kentucky so I had a bit of extra time on my hands. I decided to make him a 52 Reasons Why I Love You card deck.

I got the supplies - a deck of cards, hole punch, glue stick, and ribbon. Then, I typed out my 52 reason and cut out those squares. The project was pretty simple, but did take a bit of time to patch together. My dad had a day long bridge tournament so I loaded up all my supplies and used that time to create the finished card deck. I was surprised how easy it was to make. It was fun to think of the reasons and also to decide how to order them on the cards.

I presented the deck to Chris along with a copy of Loving and some Reese's Cup treats in a soccer tin. We saw Loving in the theater together the previous fall and really liked the movie. I know Chris liked the gift, but I think he was happiest to just have me back home.

Hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day!!

Andrea :)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Date Nights - January 2017

Chris and I only spent the first week of January together last year, but we managed to pack a lot of fun into those few days. We saw Who's Bad perform at Brooklyn Bowl and spent some time touring the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side.

Who's Bad covered Michael Jackson through the decades. They were really good. We enjoyed the show full of great singing and dancing on the stage. They even did a some Prince about halfway through the performance. It was a fun night for both of us. I mean, really, who doesn't love a good Michael Jackson tribute?

The Tenement Museum was somewhere I had wanted to visit for quite some time. That time period is always hard to wrap my mind around, but I love hearing the stories or watching plays/movies set in that era. We signed up for the Hard Times tour and thought it was really insightful. We learned about a couple of different families that lived in the building during two different time periods. Definitely a neat place that I highly recommend checking out if you are in New York City.

Have you ever visited a really neat historical museum?
What is your favorite Michael Jackson song?

Andrea :)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Goals for 2018

I've always been a goal person. The more manageable and specific, the better. This year, I sprang for some Powersheets. I heard many good things about them and even had a small discount code so I jumped on board. I loved the pre-work even though I didn't get through all of it until nearly the middle of January. The pre-work phase was incredibly worthwhile so I'm glad I stuck with it. It helped me discover my word of the year - thrive.  

In an effort to keep myself accountable, here are some of my 2018 goals...

#1 - Continue my health journey through both exercise and meal planning.

I started making a conscious effort to focus on my health in late October last year. Our townhouse has a finished basement room that was perfect for at-home workouts. I knew I needed to really make my health a priority after Chris and I had signed up for a couple of races and I could barely manage the training runs. I decided to start small with the 21 Day Fix program. I already had the DVDs and portion containers. I made steady progress and managed a clean week just after Thanksgiving. That week was a turning point for me because I really focused on the meal planning aspect of healthy living. I completed another round of 21 Day Fix during the holidays and moved forward with 80 Day Obsession in mid-January. I will finish Phase 1 of that program tomorrow. I feel great. I'm really looking forward to winter going away so I can get back out there for some runs.

#2 - Read 40 books (and the Bible from cover to cover).

I love to read. Now that I have to drive everywhere, I am also really loving audiobooks. This year, I am participating in Mia's Read the Rainbow Challenge and Erin's Book Challenge 8.0 from January-April. For Erin's Challenge, I used only books that were on my shelves at home. After packing them up and moving them up and down stairs, I figure I owe it to myself to read them. Additionally, I've committed to reading the Bible from cover to cover by completing a small portion every day. I have made that commitment before, but gotten side tracked in the Spring. I am determined to make it a reality this year.

#3 - Have at least two date nights a month.

Chris and I started this tradition a couple of years ago. It is nice to have something to look forward to each month. We each pick one date night a month. It always turns out to be so much fun.

#4 - Complete the outstanding photo books and/or scrapbooks.

Again, I lugged all the scrapbook stuff with me to Ohio so I better make use of it and start crafting! In all honesty, my only excuse in the past was not having the space so it's now or never. Plus, I really enjoy making them.

#5 - Build New and Strengthen Old Friendships.

Moving to a new place at any point is a difficult thing to do. I left behind some really solid friendships in New York. I am determined to continue to build memories and foster those relationships. At the same time, there is a whole new landscape full of friendly faces to discover here. And, I'm be remiss to discount all those friends in cities near and far. I really want to make a conscious effort to be a good friend as I navigate this transitional time in my life.

#6 - Stay involved in networking and volunteering opportunities.

If there is anything I learned from my year of unemployment, it is the power of networking and volunteering. I made a vow to myself that I would continue those practices when I started a new job so I don't want to loose sight of that commitment to myself. Plus, I really like volunteering and connecting with people in the process.

What are you focusing on in 2018?

Andrea :)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Hello...let me catch you up on life these days

Hello, friends! It's been roughly a year since I visited this space. I have missed sharing my adventures with you all and using it as a creative outlet (a lot). Suffice it to say, I'm back!

Lots of life has happened since I last published a post. Let me catch you up in a somewhat abbreviated version. I spent a bulk of the beginning of last year back in Kentucky helping my parents as my dad recovered from sepsis. During my time there, it was also discovered that he would need surgery to correct a triple retina tear in his right eye. Despite the hurdles, we had fun spending time together, ate at nearly every restaurant in Owensboro, and managed to see all the Best Picture nominees.

When I returned to New York on Valentine's Day, Chris and I began putting our relocation plans into high gear. I was making networking calls, applying to jobs, and taking phone interviews in a number of cities across the mid-west. Eventually, we narrowed our prospects to Nashville, TN, Louisville, KY, or Columbus, OH. All three cities had advantages and disadvantages. I had a couple of interviews in Nashville, but things just weren't seeming to pan out there. In late April/early May, I spent three weeks at my brother's house in Lexington with meetings in both Nashville and Columbus sandwiched between being auntie extraordinaire, my niece's 5th birthday party, and my other brother's medical school graduation.

There still hadn't been quite as much movement on the job front for me as we had hoped, but we knew moving away from the expense of New York City when our lease expired in August was the right move for us. In mid-July, Chris and I made a trip to Columbus for a week where we both had some really encouraging networking meetings. After spending some time in Columbus, we felt like it was the right place to pursue. We squeezed in some birthday fun with our nephew in Lexington before heading back to New York to pack up our apartment.

After 10 years of living in crazy busy NYC, it was much more difficult that I expected to say goodbye. Once we officially made our decision to move to Columbus in mid-July, I began the overwhelming task of packing up our apartment. It was a small space to begin with so adding boxes everywhere made it especially daunting. In the end, we got it done.

In mid-August, we loaded up our packed to the brim U-Haul and made the journey to Columbus. We decided to rent a townhouse (more than triple the amount of space we had in NY!!) in Dublin, which is roughly 20 minutes from downtown Columbus. Upon arrival, we promptly bought a car (our 1st major purchase as a married couple) and began our life here.

We drove back to New York for one final week. I was able to complete my Level 3 Improv Intenstive with Magnet Theater, and we hosted a final shindig at our rooftop LIC apartment building. It was a bittersweet week, but we left with no regrets (and one final completely full SUV load of stuff).

We spent a couple weeks getting adjusted to our new life in Columbus - checking out all the local grocery stores, securing our CAPA season tickets, and organizing our new place. We managed an extended weekend trip to Lexington to visit the Ale8 Factory, watch Brinley and Landon play soccer, and tour Old Kentucky Chocolates. On the heels of that trip, God provided an employment opportunity for me at a local YMCA as a youth development director.

I started that position the last week of September and hit the ground running. It has certainly kept me busy while Chris continues to search for a great opportunity. We also found a wonderful church home thanks to a sorority sister of mine that lives here now as well. We spent most of the last part of the year exploring our new city, visiting (and hosting) family and friends, and simply taking a breath. Much of that carried over into January, but getting back to blogging is a priority for me this year. I'll continue to share bits and pieces of the happenings from last year - most of the highlights, our date nights, and my photo a day project - as I move forward with focusing on the current year and all that is to come.

Andrea :)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

My 2017 Oscar Predictions

It is one of my favorite days of the year! For two reasons this year since it is also Chris' birthday today. Happy Birthday to my lovely husband (who so graciously agreed to watch the Oscars with me tonight even though award shows aren't exactly his cup of tea). I definitely have a great man on my hands! I'll share more about his celebration soon. Today, I want to quickly fill you in on my predictions for each of the coveted Oscar nominations.

I watched nearly every nominated movie in all of the categories this year so I am extra excited to see who takes home each Oscar. There weren't any of the nine Best Picture nominees that I didn't enjoy on some level. Of course, some I liked better than others, but each had an interesting story to tell. I recommend watching them all when you have a chance.  I'll rank the Best Picture nominees (and the shorts categories) in order of how I preferred the films. For all other categories, I'll indicate my favorite with asterisks as well as who I predict will actually win the OSCAR.

Best Picture
1 - Hidden Figures
2 - Hacksaw Ridge
3 - Fences
4 - Moonlight
5 - La La Land
6 - Manchester by the Sea
7 - Hell or High Water
8 - Lion
9 - Arrival

OSCAR goes to La La Land.

Actor in Leading Role
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
*Ryan Gosling, La La Land*
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

OSCAR goes to Denzel Washington, Fences.

Actor in Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
*Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals*

OSCAR goes to Mahershala Ali, Moonlight.

Actress in Leading Role
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
*Natalie Portman, Jackie*
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

OSCAR goes to Emma Stone, La La Land.

Actress in Supporting Role
*Viola Davis, Fences*
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

OSCAR goes to Viola Davis, Fences.

Animated Short Film
1 - Pearl
2 - Piper
3 - Blind Vaysha
4 - Pear Cider and Cigarettes
5 - Borrowed Time

OSCAR goes to Piper.

Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
*Barry Jenkins, Moonlight*

OSCAR goes to Damien Chazelle, La La Land.

Documentary (Feature)
Fire at Sea (did not see)
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated (did not see)
*O.J.: Made in America*

OSCAR goes to 13th.

Documentary (Short Subject)
1 - Joe's Violin
2 - Watani: My Homeland
3 - The White Helmets
4 - Extremis
5 - 4.1 Miles

OSCAR goes to The White Helmets.

Live Action Short Film
1 - Sing
2 - La Femme et le TGV
3 - Timecode
4 - Silent Nights
5 - Ennemis Interieurs

OSCAR goes to Timecode.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
*Hidden Figures*

OSCAR goes to Hidden Figures.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Hell or High Water
*La La Land*
The Lobster (did not see)
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women (did not see)

OSCAR goes to La La Land.

Did you see any of the nominated films? Which did you enjoy?

Andrea :)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Completed List of ABC Reads Books

I realized as I looked back on each of my ABC Reads recaps, I failed to compile a complete list of all the great books I completed as a part of this link-up. Here's a full list of all my completed ABC Reads...

A - An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
B - Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
C - Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth
D - The Dark Ferret Society by Emily Humphreys
E - Everything I Never Told You by Cynthia Ng
F - Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer by Heather Lende
G - Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
H - The Hours by Michael Cunningham
I - Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
J - The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
K - The Keeper: A Life of Saving Goals and Achieving Them by Tim Howard
L - Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagan
M - The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
N - The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
O - Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
P - The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Q - Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life by Tony Dungy
R - The Rising: Murder, Heartbreak, and the Power of Human Resilience in an American Town by Ryan D'Agostino
S - Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath
T - 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
U - The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen
V - The Vow: The Kim and Krickitt Carpenter Story by Kim Carpenter
W - We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
X - The X by Lorena Bathey
Y - The Year We Disappeared: A Father-Daughter Memoir by Cylin & John Busby
Z - Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Andrea :)