Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell, 2010

Here we go again. Another round of out with the old, and in with the new. As always, I'm amazed that another year has passed so quickly. Where does the time go?

I do love the New Year though, don't you? What a great chance for a fresh start. As I said, out with the old and in with the new. It's the perfect time to say "good riddance" to those things that have been getting you down, holding you back or weighing on your mind and start over with a clean slate. People make resolutions to better themselves, we approach the world with renewed hope, and get excited about things to come.

But, all that starts tomorrow! Today is a day for looking back and reflecting on where we've been.

What a year 2010 has been! We have done so many new things and gained some great experiences. I've been having so much fun over the past couple days as I think back to the year that has gone by. We've achieved some personal goals, visited new places, spent time with family, traveled, enjoyed our city and each other.

In my memory, these are some of the highlights of our year in 2010:
Quite a year, right? We are so lucky to have made so many great memories this year!

VIDEO: A look back at our year in 2010

Once again, I thank you so very much for spending another year reading the things I write and sharing in our life. I hope that 2011 brings nothing but joy and good things to all of you.

As for me, I have great hope for 2011. I'm looking forward to shaking off anything from 2010 that is still weighing us down and starting fresh. I know this year will definitely bring some changes for us (starting with a move out of our apartment in February), and hopefully all changes will be good changes. In the meantime, I am just thankful for where we are today and all the wonderful things I have going on in my life. I am very blessed.

All the best to you and yours in the new year!

Signing off for 2010,


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Well, here we are, three days past the December Blizzard of 2010. As you know, on Sunday we got 20 inches of snow. Central Park recorded 18 consecutive hours of snowfall (and check out this 40-second time lapse video of 20 hours of snow in New Jersey!). We had wind gusts over 50 mph. We had thundersnow. All three New York City airports shut down completely, are still a long way off from being back to normal operation. Bus and train service was suspended, and public transportation continues to be a disaster. (Remember those people I mentioned who were stuck on a subway train for hours? They had it easy compared to the people stuck on a train for 32 hours!) There was even snow inside the subway stations. Record numbers of cars, buses, trucks and even snowplows were (and many still are) stalled in the roads.

Three days later, things are still a mess. The airports are not yet back to normal (and angry mobs seem to be breaking out), and neither are the buses or trains. Many streets still have not been plowed (not in our area, but there is a great deal of anger directed at Mayor Bloomberg right now due to lack of response in this mess). The snow has long stopped, the winds have died down and the sun is shining, but we still have 18 of the 20 inches of snow we got holding firm on the ground, and people are still trying to dig themselves out from under it. What a mess.

But, Eric and I were lucky in that we were not affected by the disastrous consequences of such a snowfall. Our streets were plowed, Eric can walk to work, and we were not trying to fly in our out of the city (nor were our loved ones). In fact, we even benefited from the blizzard: Eric got the day off from work on Monday, creating an unexpected long weekend, AND the Broadway show Billy Elliot offered a fabulous snow day deal that we took advantage of: $30 orchestra level tickets (regularly $115) for Monday evening's performance! An extra day off work for Eric AND a super cheap Broadway show? Okay by us!

Let's recap our Blizzageddon experience, shall we?

By the time we woke up Sunday morning, this was the view from our living room window:

That's right: nothing. Just white snow swirling about. At that point, it was really just flurries, and there was only a very slight accumulation.

We spent some time relaxing around the house, then in the afternoon decided to go downtown to see if we could get some snowy Wall Street pictures. The snow was falling a little heavier and the wind was starting to pick up, but the worst of it was still a couple hours away. So, we bundled ourselves up and went downtown. We hit all our usual spots: Ground Zero, Trinity Church, the Bull, the Stock Exchange.

We've barely left our apartment, and I'm already getting pelted by snow!

Snowy streets in our neighborhood

Snowy wreath in front of the Ground Zero cross

Trinity church cemetery

Christmas tree in the Trinity Church cemetery

Wall Street Bull

At least this bike is staying warm!

The Stock Exchange Christmas tree

By the time we finished checking out all those sights, things were really starting to pick up. The wind was just whipping snow in our faces, and at times it was so strong we could barely walk and we just stood still until the gust died down. We were chilled to the bone and ready to head home, so that we did.

Happy to be out of the wind and back in the subway

Warming up on the train ride home

Our wet clothes drying out in the bathroom

By the time we got home, things were really kicking into high gear. told us we already had about five inches of snow on the ground (we estimated only one inch when we first left the house a couple hours earlier), and they predicted that number would double within the next 2-3 hours (it did). We basically hunkered down and watched things unfold as the night went on. We did take Achilles out briefly, and as I mentioned in my first snow post, he absolutely HATED LIFE while he was out there. That dog is all about a walk (and being wherever we are generally), but even if we kept on going, he turned himself right around and went back to the door to wait.

Snowy view from our apartment

Our grocery store's delivery bins getting a nice snow cover

Me walking the poor, miserable dog

Snow accumulating on our window sill as we lean out to look down the street (stalled cab near the corner at the bottom)

Snow starting to pile up around the trash can across the street

Our Nativity practically in silhouette against the snowy white outside

Eric woke up at 7:30 the next morning to check his email to see if his office was open, but he said as soon as he looked out the window he knew it would be closed. The snow had really stopped falling, but the wind was still whipping it around so much it looked like it was still coming down. We took Achilles outside that morning (still hates it), then relaxed a little until things quieted down a bit.

Luckily, a narrow path had already been shoveled on our sidewalk. If not, the snow would have been taller than Achilles!
Can you see the very tippy top of a fire hydrant sticking out of that snow bank?
Snowy street corner

 A look down the street

After a while we ventured out to take some pictures of our snowy city. Since we have already photographed Central Park in the snow multiple times, we decided this time we would stick around midtown and actually get some city pictures. We stopped by the theater to buy our Billy Elliot tickets, then roamed across town through Times Square, over to Rockefeller Center, up Fifth Avenue (where we walked past Kelsey Grammer and his new girlfriend), and then back home by way of the park (because really, how can you totally resist Central Park after a good snow?). Get ready, here comes the real onslaught of pictures! These are just a few of my favorites:

I would say there was definitely snow in THIS subway station!

Eric and me on snow piles in Times Square

Still on a snow pile in Times Square

Snowy Christmas lights

On Sixth Avenue

Snowy ornaments

That's me up there on top of that Sixth Avenue snow pile!

NBC Studios

The Promenade at Rockefeller Center

Thanks to our new camera, Eric was able to get this shot of ALL of 30 Rock with the tree and angels below it!

Snowy cab

Eric on a snowy bench

Pulitzer Fountain

Back in Central Park

Snow people on the trees

Snowy lamppost

By the time we finished all that walking we were tired and frozen, so we went home to warm up for a bit (and eat some more delicious Christmas lasagna) before going back out for Billy Elliot.

I thought Billy Elliot was excellent, by the way. Very well done. It was funny, cute, touching, moving. I especially liked the parts where they intermingled the bitter struggle between the police and the miners with the innocence of the children. What a striking contrast - very powerful. Overall, a very good show, and man, you can't beat the price of the tickets!

The theater

After the show

And that was our experience with the Great Snowpocalypse of 2010!

Quick note: I'm going to put the rest of our snow pictures on my photo share site this afternoon, if you want to see more!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Cozy Christmas

Well, we survived our day in the snow yesterday, and we got tons of wonderful pictures that I can't wait to share with you! But, in the meantime, let's talk Christmas!

We had a very quiet, very relaxed, very "we can do whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it" kind of Christmas. Eric had the day off on Friday (Christmas Eve), so we slept in and had a rather leisurely morning. Eric made his pasta sauce, and we spent the rest of the day snuggling on the couch and catching up on our DVR.

Just hanging out with Achilles

Sleepy Christmas puppy

When the sun set, we watched the festive Empire State Building lights come on. So pretty against the blue sky!

Gorgeous view

Looking northeast from our place

That evening, we got dressed up for church and took our family Christmas photos.

Hates it.

Family photo outtake, featuring a possibly drunk Santa Achilles

We went to church at 10:30. The service was long (an hour and 40 minutes!) but beautiful. We sang some great hymns, and I always love the candlelit "Silent Night."

Our church on Christmas Eve

The organ in our church

After church we came home, drank some hot apple cider and opened our ornaments. As you may recall, Eric and I exchange ornaments every year, and as a result our tree is quickly filling up! This year I got Eric a Santa cut out of a Mountain Dew can (ha!), and he got me a hand blown glass snowman ornament that I have been eying at the Grand Central holiday market for quite some time. So sweet! We also got some other great ornaments this year, including a beautiful hand-painted clay ornament Heather brought from San Juan, a Rockefeller Center angel from Aunt Debbie, a new Gator ornament from Eric's dad, and our traditional White House ornament. See? We're going to need a bigger tree soon!

Our new ornaments we bought for each other

After our ornament exchange we called it a night, then slept in a bit on Christmas morning. When we got up, we poured some mimosas and opened presents. We started with stockings, of course, and Achilles was the first to dig in. He went right up to his stocking and pulled out a delicious (I guess?) pig ear! He was happy as a clam, and was certainly not inclined to share.

He smells something interesting in there!

He's got it!

And, he's out.

Happy Christmas dog

It looks like they're sharing a nice moment, but...

...This is actually what is going on!

VIDEO: Achilles and his pig ear

My stocking was awesome - it was filled with all Reese's stuff! Trees, bells, and a snowman. Glorious. Eric's stocking was also heavy on the candy (Raisinets, M&Ms, and a chocolate crunch football), plus a book of indoor golf games.

Ralphie also seems pleased with my Reese's haul

Eric reading the football trivia on the back of his candy football

Next we opened up gifts people sent us, including an awesome Normal Cornbelters hat for Eric (featuring a rather wasted-looking corn logo) and adorable Mexico nativity for me from Molly and Arturo, and a whole box of awesome stuff from my dad.

Gift from my dad! Cookie decorating stuff, Christmas CD, A Christmas Story DVD and a giftcard! Thanks, Dad!

Eric modeling his new hat. He loves it!

We then opened our gifts to each other. Our new camera was really our gift to each other this year, so we agreed to just get a couple small things to open on Christmas (although I stuck to that agreement better than Eric did!). I got Eric a new video game and a golf scorecard keeper so he can display all his fancy scorecards, and Eric got me a great instructional book for the camera and Photoshop Elements. The boy did good!

After gifts we made some cinnamon rolls for breakfast and then just lounged around a bit. We talked to our families and had a rather leisurely day. For dinner that afternoon Eric made lasagna, which may have been his best lasagna yet. We ate and drank wine and enjoyed being together for the holiday. And of course, we had Crumbs cupcakes (Peppermint Hot Cocoa and Gingerbread) for dessert!

Mmm, lasagna noodles

Eric with his masterpiece

Dinner is served!

Mmm, cupcakes

We spent the rest of the night laying around on the couch, watching a marathon of Christmas movies: A Christmas Story, It's a Wonderful Life, Christmas Vacation, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It was a perfect, relaxing, cozy Christmas evening!

Another look at the Christmasy Empire State Building through our window!

And that was our holiday! We missed our families, as always, but had a nice time just the two of us here in New York.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas, surrounded by those you love!