Monday, May 30, 2011

The Parade of Ships

Happy Memorial Day, friends!

Although I am currently spending this Memorial Day in Canada, I made sure to partake of some of the New York Memorial Day fun here in New York before we left. As you may know, it is FLEET WEEK here in NYC, that glorious time of year when members of our military descend on this fair city in droves. Usually, I spend the week spotting sailors and then being shocked at how young they look, but it's still a good time.

This is me, my sister Heather and cousins Molly and Zita posing with some random sailors on the street last Memorial Day. Ah, Fleet Week fun! 

Although we have been out of town for much of this year's Fleet Week festivities, I did make sure to catch the Parade of Ships last Wednesday. The Parade of Ships kicks off Fleet Week every year, when all the big Navy ships sail one-by-one up the Hudson River before docking at their respective piers for the week. I watched it two years ago from the park near our apartment, but this year I enjoyed it even more with the view from Hoboken. Watching those big ol' boats sailing along the Manhattan skyline was fabulous. There were many other spectators alongside me at Pier A Park as I watched the parade, and it was an absolutely gorgeous day outside, so it was a great morning.

Hanging out at Pier A Park to watch the ships go by

A ship passing downtown, with a flyover above

Passing midtown and the Empire State Building

The decks of the ships are all lined with sailors waving to the onlookers

I hope you all are enjoying a wonderful holiday today, filled with good friends, good food, and all the very best a good ol' American celebration has to offer. Be sure to take some time to remember those brave men and women who have served our country so well. I am so grateful for the service of so many, protecting a country I love so dearly. Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Many Faces of Achilles

As this post goes live, Eric and I are in a rented car and on our way to Cooperstown, then Toronto, then Niagara-on-the-Lake, then Niagara Falls. Good times! We're psyched about this weekend getaway, and I hope you all have equally wonderful holiday weekend plans. Enjoy!

In the meantime, why not kick off your weekend with some cuteness? It has been a little while since my adorable mutt with issues, Achilles, has gotten a full post of blog love. And goodness knows that little guy has quite the personality on him - far too much personality to not be shared. So today, I thought we should take a look at the many faces of Achilles.

We have sleepy Achilles...:

...and awake Achilles:

Scared Achilles...

...and SCARY Achilles:

Pensive Achilles:

"I don't care if this is a New York landmark, I'm mad that I'm not walking" Achilles...

"I hate this snow" Achilles:

"I hate this coat" Achilles (also, young Achilles, before his face went gray!):

"I hate the impending changes in my life" Achilles:

"Why are they torturing me with this hat?" Achilles:

"I'm about to go crazy on those cupcakes" Achilles:

"God Bless America" Achilles:

"Holidays are exhausting" Achilles:

"I'm a psychopath and proud of it" Achilles:

"Don't bother me, I'm sleeping in the sun" Achilles:

"That sun was really hot and now I can't close my face" Achilles:

"I dare you to figure out how all this tongue actually fits in my mouth" Achilles:

"Oops, spoke too soon...I've lost my dignity with old age and can no longer keep my tongue in my mouth" Achilles:

And, my absolute favorite..."I love my Eric" Achilles:

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy Fourth of July?

First of all, before I get down to business, did everyone watch the Glee season finale last night? Loved it! I loved seeing all the scenes we saw them filming in New York (they were all mashed up into the very first song!), and that script I got from a crew member turned out to be accurate with only one small exception (there was a line the script had being said by Mr. Schue that Quinn said instead). I loved, loved, loved Lea Michele and Chris Colfer's rendition of For Good...but that's all I'll say about the episode in case any of you haven't watched it yet! No spoilers here!

Last night I dusted off my cowboy boots, and Eric and I went to yet another fun New York-y event, once again thanks to This time, it was a free performance by country singer Brad Paisley - they were filming it now to air on the Fourth of July as part of the Macy's Fourth of July Spectacular! It was held at 230 Fifth, a fabulous rooftop bar with breathtaking views of the Empire State Building, which was lit up red, white and blue for the occasion. Our nasty weather finally broke this week, and it was an absolutely gorgeous night (albeit a little humid, but beggars can't be choosers). Perfect for a night out on the roof!

230 Fifth

The view from the rooftop

My handsome husband amongst the patriotic lighting on the roof

We love this city

When they had everyone in position on the rooftop, they passed out glow sticks and gave us instructions for the performance: cheer wildly, take pictures, wave your glow sticks, clap, be ready for Brad to come out into the crowd. We were ready!

Get those lights a-going, it's show time!

Fun with glow sticks

Brad soon came out and got things started. He performed two songs: "American Saturday Night" and "Welcome to the Future." They did two takes of each, while the crowd cheered on and cameras whizzed past our heads (and even brushed the tops of our heads on occasion!).

Brad Paisley performing

Sing it, Brad

Guitar solo

Just a great setting.

In between takes, Brad waved to the crowd and signed things for fans, including people's hats, cowboy boots and even sneakers. I can't say I'm a country music fan, but I don't hate it, and Brad seemed like another nice celebrity. You know how I like that sort of thing.

Waving to a fan

Autographing a hat

After they finished the two performance takes of each song, he did another take (or at least partial take) of each song so the cameras could shoot the audience. Of course, everyone went crazy, dancing and waving their glow sticks in the air. I was no exception.

I thought this shot Eric took was artsy - the ESB, the flag, the camera swiveling around. Good stuff.

That's me in the front on the left, dancing around

And just like that, it was over! Short, but rather fun. If you want to see a quick video of snippets of the performances, click here. My favorite part was when Brad yelled out, "Happy Fourth of July!" It's funny because it's actually May right now, get it?

If your Fourth of July plans this year find you at home, vegged out on the couch, watching coverage from New York or D.C. or wherever floats your boat, be sure to check out Brad's performance on the New York coverage! It will air at 9:00 p.m. ET on July 4th.

There sure are some awesome things to do in this city, let me tell you. It was a perfect New York night!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunny Saturday

Much to my delight, last week's rain and general dreariness took a day off on Saturday (although it returned yesterday and continues today). Unfortunately, I was sick with a head cold all weekend. I won't even go into how that is probably due to walking miles and miles in the rain to take the dog to the vet on Wednesday, how it poured from the second I left the house until the second I got home, how every single inch of me was soaked to the bone within minutes, how BOTH of my rainboots sprung a leak and left my feet sloshing around inside said rainboots, how the color of my blue jeans ran all over my white jacket, and how I had to wrangle a wet and panicked dog at the vet. I won't even go into all that. 

Suffice it to say, I somehow caught a cold that kept me inside begging my head not to explode for much of the weekend.

However, after longing for sun all week, I could not sit inside and ignore the beautiful day of sunshine and 70-some degrees we had on Saturday. So Eric and I ventured out into our little Mile Square City for some exploring and shopping. Hoboken was having a city-wide flea market/yard sale, so there were yard sales set up all over town. We just wandered around, perusing people's goods and fantasizing over a little house we saw for sale. (That is, until we got home and looked it up and learned that this "adorable little house" is actually a 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom piece of gorgeous real estate that is currently on the market for $1.275 MILLION. Fantasy indeed!) We then walked out to Target, because what weekend is complete without a walk to Target? We returned home along the river, stopping for a quick walk through Pier A Park to see the Relay for Life festivities going on that afternoon.

It was a rather low-key day, but the beautiful weather and charm of Hoboken made it oh-so-nice.

Some scenes from a sunny Saturday in Hoboken:

The view we enjoy every time we return to Hoboken from Target in Newport. The tower on the left is the Lackawanna Railroad tower at Hoboken Station. The tower on the right is clearly the Empire State Building across the river. I love seeing those two side-by-side.

People enjoying the beautiful day at Pier A Park

View of downtown NYC from Pier A

There were lots of boats out on the water

I hope you all had a beautiful weekend!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Our Next Trip!

I am very excited this morning, because as of yesterday, Eric and I are officially making plans for our next trip together. We had been making tentative plans prior to yesterday, but were waiting for confirmation from Achilles' "camp" that they could accommodate him for our dates. Now that the dog has a place to go, we can start booking things! Considering that this trip will take place next weekend, we're not wasting any time.

We have had many, many discussions about what we want to do travel-wise this year. For the first time in a few years, we have total freedom to decide where we want to go. For the past couple of years, our "big trips" have been decided for us thanks to family weddings and such. Please don't misunderstand - I am not complaining about this in the least! Two years ago, my cousin Jacob's wedding took place in Hungary, which got us over to Europe for the first time, and from there we went on to Scotland (St. Andrews, Edinburgh and North Berwick) for a week. We loved every second of it. Then, my sister got a job on a cruise ship, and I went to visit her for a two-week, nine-island Caribbean cruise. Oh, such torture. Most recently, my dear cousin Molly got married in Mexico, so we spent a week in the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo sun last November. All of these were fabulous trips, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. I'm so glad that my family's jobs/weddings have taken me to places I otherwise might not have gone!

But this year, with no weddings and no sisters on cruise ships, we have been having a terrible time deciding where to go. We debated all sorts of ideas for a "big trip," ranging from Australia to Italy to Hawaii to Greece. Those all sound fabulous, but we decided on something much less exotic: we'll stay on this continent and do a bunch of small side trips from NYC, rather than one big trip. We're lucky to live in a place where a number of great cities are within driving distance, often only a cheap bus trip away. Since we have moved here we have been meaning to get to Boston, Philadelphia and Niagara Falls. So, we decided that this year, instead of one big trip, we'll take care of all these little ones. That still gives us the freedom (and budget) to also head home sometime during the holiday season, go to my family reunion in Pittsburgh this summer, and maybe even jump on a great travel deal to some other unknown place if a deal pops up (like we did last year when we went to Los Angeles).

So, the first trip on our list this year: Niagara Falls!

In actuality, Niagara Falls itself will be a very small part of our trip, but that is the destination that got us working on this itinerary. Our plan is to leave next Friday and come back on Tuesday. We will be renting a car and having a nice little road trip with several stops. Check it out:

First stop: Cooperstown, New York.

Cooperstown is about four hours north of NYC. Our sole reason for stopping there comes at Eric's request: Cooperstown is the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Baseball Hall of Fame

We will arrive in Cooperstown around lunch time and will spend a few hours there enjoying the Hall of Fame and the town itself, as time permits. I've heard it's an adorable little town, and judging by the pictures I am seeing online, that is not inaccurate. I wish we had more time to spend there, but alas, we must move on.

Left: Part of Main Street in Cooperstown (source); Right: Shops on Main Street (source)

After leaving Cooperstown, we will drive about another six hours northwest to our second stop: Toronto!

We will stay in Toronto from Friday night until Sunday afternoon. We have booked a room at the Strathcona Hotel, which is located downtown within walking distance of some of the major attractions.

The Strathcona Hotel 

Our tentative Toronto itinerary includes hitting a museum on Saturday morning, possibly the Royal Ontario Museum, Hockey Hall of Fame or Bata Shoe Museum. (Seriously, did you know Toronto has an entire museum devoted to shoes? Toronto gets me.) Saturday afternoon we'll catch a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre (as you may recall, Eric is trying to visit as many baseball stadiums as possible as a bucket list type goal), and that evening we'll go up to the top of the CN Tower. We'll find a nice place to have dinner out, and if we're not too exhausted by the end of the day, we'll go for a nice evening stroll along the Harbourfront. On Sunday, we'll take a ferry over to the Toronto Islands for a casual, relaxing morning before checking out of our hotel by 2:00 p.m.

Top row: The Royal Ontario Museum (source), the Hockey Hall of Fame (source), and the Bata Shoe Museum (source)
Bottom row: View from inside the Rogers Centre (source), the Toronto skyline featuring the CN Tower (source), and a scene from the Toronto Islands (source)

After leaving Toronto we will head back south for about two hours to our third stop: Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small town located on Lake Ontario, about 20-30 minutes north of Niagara Falls.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is in the heart of wine country and is surrounded by what I hear are fabulous wineries. The town itself is supposed to be rather quaint and charming, and you know how I like that sort of thing. We will be staying at Cecile's House Bed and Breakfast, just one block off the main street in the old town.

A look into our B&B, including the room we have reserved at top right (The "French Room"). Also, how badly do you want to sit and read a book by that fireplace in the bottom right photo?

We will only be staying in Niagara-on-the-Lake for Sunday night, and our plans while we're there are still pretty tentative. It will largely depend on how we feel and when we arrive. If we're feeling wine-y, maybe we'll hit a winery. Maybe we'll just wander through the shops and restaurants on Queen Street. Maybe Eric will golf while I go antiquing (our B&B is just one block from a golf course!). I'm sure we'll find a lovely way to pass the afternoon, and then we will enjoy a nice dinner out together and a leisurely stroll through the little town.

Does this not look like just the most charming little town?

Monday morning, after enjoying our delightful B&B breakfast, we will take off for our final destination: Niagara Falls itself, just about 30 minutes south of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

We haven't booked our Niagara Falls hotel yet, but we've got it narrowed down to a couple. We know we will be staying on the Canada side, in a room with a jacuzzi tub and a view of the falls. Helloooo, romance.

Yeah, buddy. Now THAT is a view.

We'll spend all day Monday doing your classic Niagara Falls tourist stuff: Maid of the Mist, Cave of Winds, the works. I also definitely want to walk across the the New York side to check it all out from there, too. The New York side is a National Park, and is supposed to be beautiful (and less touristy/commercial than the Canadian side). Plus, I think it's fun to walk across the bridge from one country into another.

Maid of the Mist (source) and Cave of Winds (source)

We'll have a nice dinner out that night, and then wrap up our trip watching the Falls Illumination and fireworks, quite possibly from the comfort of our hotel suite.

The Falls at night (source) and the Falls fireworks display (source)

And that will be it! We'll leave early Tuesday morning to drive back to NYC (about 7 hours, possibly stopping in Scranton, PA--shout-out to The Office lovers!--on the way), where we will return the car and retrieve our dog.

Eric and I haven't had a trip alone together since Los Angeles last May, so I'm looking forward to spending some romantic one-on-one time with my husband. Pretty natural wonders and quaint little towns in wine country sounds like just the ticket. I'm sure it will be a great trip!