Philadelphia and the Snow Storm

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I am spoiled in California. Really, really spoiled. When it snows, you're probably in Tahoe wishing and hoping for snow because you're skiing, and when it rains, it's not a big deal, because it is still warm. I usually even wear my rainbows when its raining because it isn't usually cold. 
Let me tell you something about the East Coast... 

It SNOWS and it RAINS ICE. I figured freezing rain was probably something like hail, but boy, was I wrong about that too. It is literally frozen rain drops that stick to everything and turn it into a sheet of ice. Its dangerous and makes for impossible air travel. 

After my long visit in Philly, I got stuck here for a few more days after my flight was cancelled Sunday due to this frozen rain (stuck is a very loose term- I was actually really excited that I got to stay, although I was definitely the only person on that flight happy about being stuck). 


Over the last few weeks, we were able to explore Philly some more and try out some great new (to us) restaurants and museums. We went to the Animals Body Inside Out exhibit as well as a Lego exhibit. This guy builds some crazy figures out of legos. I don't really understand it, because I would be frustrated and over it by lego #8, but more power to him. 

After that, we headed over to the flight museum at the Franklin Institute (along with the other eleventy million people trying to stay out of the snow storm for the day with hyper kids in tow), and Bret tried his hand at paper airplane making. If you fly real planes, you better be able to build a cool paper airplane. 

I was so excited about the snow (walking in it only, not driving in it- terrifying) that I insisted on taking a few selfies as we were walking to dinner. One night, we tried out a few new bars and it snowed several inches in just the few hours that we were out. I had a blast walking around in it. 

I have been gone for so long that I was worried that Bosley has forgotten me and has fallen into a deep state of depression. I'm concerned about him...

Until my mom sends me pictures like this of him playing in the river and finding the biggest stick that he can physically carry back. Obviously, he's devastated by my absence....

DIY Long Distance Relationship Coffee Mugs

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I like to think that I'm fairly crafty, although it's a miracle if I have time anymore these days to do anything that requires patience and drying time. 
I was trying to figure out something cute and small to get or make Bret for Valentine's Day, when I came across this blog and idea on Pinterest. I decided that it looked easy enough and since Bret drinks more coffee than just about anyone I know, I figured he would get a lot of use out of it. 
What You'll need:
Oil Based Sharpies (they HAVE to be oil based so that they don't smudge later on)
Ceramic paint pens (you can buy these at any craft store)
White mugs
Cut outs of each state that you want to use 
To Make the Mugs:
Carefully cut out the state shapes and tape them to the center of each mug. Trace around the shape with a black sharpie and then peel the paper off of the mug and re-trace over the line with a thicker black line. 
Draw a heart with each city and then make a black bee line from one city to the next, so that they "connect" when the mugs are touching. 
On the back of the mugs, write your favorite song, quote or poem and then let the mugs dry for a few minutes. 
Place the mugs in a cool over and turn the oven to 350. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool.

Perfectly Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I love sweet potato fries. Love them. 
Ok I just love fries, but if I ate fries as often as I get the craving, it would be a bad situation. 
I have been looking for baked sweet potato fries recipes all over the internet and have tried about 10 different recipes but have not been able to find one that results in crispy fries. 
Most of them were mushy or oily. 
After several different attempts, trying different things, I have perfected these little babies. 

Here is what you'll need:
1 large sweet potato (garnet yam- the orange ones with red skin)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2-4 tbsp corn starch 
salt & pepper and any other seasoning you'd like

Heat oven to 400 degrees 
Peel and cut sweet potato into thin, even fry shaped spears
Soak in a bowl of water for about 10-15 minutes
dry fries COMPLETELY and dry the bowl that you soaked the fries in 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick spray
In the bowl, toss the fries with olive oil, corn starch, salt and pepper. Make sure that all of the fries are completely coated and the corn starch is mixed in well with the olive oil. The fries (and your hands) should be really gummy and sticky. 
Line the fries on the baking sheet but MAKE SURE that none of them touch. You don't want them to be too crowded otherwise they will steam, not crisp up. 
Bake for 20 minutes, until fries are crispy. Flip with a spatula and bake for another 5-10 minutes.


I like to eat my fries with a Siracha aoili sipping sauce: 
2 tbsp light may
1/2 lemon- juice
1tsp Siracha (or more, depending on how spicy you like it)

Life Lately

Friday, January 16, 2015

I've been neglecting this little blog for the last month. To say that it has been a busy few weeks is certainly an understatement. Life is seemingly back to normal now and I've finally had a minute to sit down and catch up. 

Over the holidays, my brother graduated from college. I forgot how extremely long and boring college graduations are since I haven't been to one since my own, and let me tell you, not a thing has changed. There weren't as many kids graduating in winter, so they kept it to a cool 2.5 hours. Plenty of time for me. The beer and sushi at the end of the ordeal was all that was getting me through it. 

Bret was home over Christmas and it was so great having him here. We went back and forth between our families about every day and we even managed to sneak off to Tahoe for a few days of alone time. We did nothing. It was perfect. I worked, Bret read most of a whole book, we slept and cooked and went on a walk and went out to diner one night. It was the first time in a long time I've felt like I could really take a break and do nothing. 

After a week of Christmas and families and birthdays, we flew back to Philly together for New Years. We rang in the new year at a friend's house overlooking the river. I had every intention to stay out on their awesome balcony for hours looking at the view, but the fact that it was like eight degrees with a crazy wind chill made it nearly impossible. None the less, it was the perfect low key and fun new year. Oh and I didn't have to wear a dress and heels, so that was a win. 

When I got back to California, I had to schedule a little procedure for Bosley. He had a lump under his skin that needed to be removed. The vet made it sound like it wasn't a big deal, a short one day procedure and he will be up and about in no time. 
Well... not so much. 
I give you, doggy Frankenstein. 
When I picked him up from the vet, he was so drugged up he had no idea what planet he was on. He was staring off into space and swaying back and forth. 
The first night after his surgery he was up all night crying. If you have ever heard a dog cry, you know how heart breaking the sound is. There was nothing I could do for him and I'm not convinced he was in pain (he had plennttyyyyy of morphine in his system) but I think that he was scared. Let me tell you, it makes me think real hard about having kids anytime soon. 
He is doing much better now and wishes he could run around and play, but he has a few more days of not acting like a puppy. 

This weekend I will be (finally) getting over the last of the worst cold I've ever had in my life (complete with a trip to urgent care) and attending a crab feed tomorrow night with my parents. 
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Making a Long Distance Relationship Work

Thursday, December 4, 2014

When Bret and I first met, he was already living in Philadelphia and he was in Sacramento visiting his family for a few weeks. We went out on one date and the next day he went back to Philly. We didn't have any plans to see each other again and I wasn't even sure how this would ever work or if either of us were willing to consider it at all. We didn't talk about any of that during that first date. I think we were both getting more nervous as the night went on because it was so good and I don't think either of us were expecting it. We spent the whole evening being in the moment.
I still get asked why I even agreed to go out with him knowing that he lived across the country. It is a valid question and my answer surprises me, even still- because I would have always wondered if I didn't. The connection was too strong and if I didn't at least take a chance and see, I would have always wondered how it would have gone. 
It was the best first date ever and I would make the decision over and over again, even knowing how hard it would be to make a long distance relationship work. 
Long distance relationships are hard and they certainly aren't for everyone. It takes a lot of work and some days are harder than others, but the good absolutely outweighs the hard and the bad. It works for us and our situation and our relationship is strong even despite the challenges. 
All relationships have challenges and this one is ours but we make it work and we both put in the effort because we care about each other and we want to. 
Here are some of my tips for making a long distance relationship work. 
 1. Communication: This is probably the biggest one of them all. Communication. As much as possible. I'm talking about talking on the phone, texting, skype/face time. When I say communication I also mean staying connected to each others lives on a daily basis. Bret and I send random pictures of something we saw in our day, we talk about what we are doing, we text throughout the day. We feel connected to each other all day, everyday. I don't feel like he's over there in another world and I'm over here and we aren't connected. We make an effort to talk at least once a day on the phone and face time at least 3 times a week and we text constantly throughout the day. We talk about our day and what we did and how we are feeling and seeing each other next. We talk about random stuff and silly stuff and serious stuff. You have to be a communicator and expect that of your partner. 
2. Trust: You also have to be completely trusting in a LDR. You have to trust each other and trust your own feelings. I'm not just talking about trusting that your partner is being faithful to you, but also trusting yourself and your partner's feelings for each other, that they are strong and real and that your relationship is worth it. This is where confidence in yourself and in the relationship play a big part. 
3. Planning: We are always planning our next visit. We have been VERY fortunate in that the longest we have gone without seeing each other in the last 4 months is only about 5 weeks. We fly back and forth. I go to Philly and he comes home. I know that in all situations, this isn't possible, but it is important to plan visits. You have to make an effort to SEE each other, even if it is just for a few days and even if it is last minute.
4. Don't Compare Your Relationship to Others: I am guilty of this sometimes as well. I wish that I could see Bret more often, I miss him a lot, I see my friends with their boyfriends being able to spend time together on week days and I wish that we were able to do that as well. I have to remind myself that our relationship isn't the same as other relationships. Every relationship has its challenges and hurdles and you have to accept that yours are going to be different (not necessarily worse, just different) than other peoples' challenges. You can't compare apples to oranges or it will affect you. 
5. Plans for the Future: You have to make sure that you both are on the same page about your expectations for the present and for the future and that you both have a similar timeline. Someone has to move. There are no two ways around that issue. Talk about it. Figure out what you both want, what makes the most sense for both of you and make a plan. You can't just hope that things will work out. Make a plan together, even if it is a year out, three years out or longer. It won't work if neither of you are willing to compromise your current situation (job, moving, getting married, kids, etc). Get on the same page. 
6. Don't Listen to Other People: I have learned this one first hand, unfortunately. Your family and friends will ALL have their own opinion on your relationship. Maybe they think you're crazy or irresponsible or living in a fantasy world. Maybe they tell you that it will never work out and you know what? If you let them get in your head and believe it, they will be right, it won't work. Your true friends and family will always love and support you and only you know what is best for YOU and your life and your happiness. Justifying your relationship and your decisions are never going to change anyone's mind, so don't. Own your decision and your relationship and never let anyone bring you down. It is one thing for them to be genuinely concerned and it is another for them to overstate their unwarranted opinions about your life. It is your choice whether you listen to them or not. 
7. Spend Your Time Wisely: When you are apart, stay busy. I work a lot and travel for work, so I'm rarely sitting around missing Bret all day. Do I miss him? All of the time, but that is different than dwelling on it and feeling sorry for myself. I work a lot, I workout, I volunteer, I spend as much time as possible with my family and friends and I capitalize on my alone time. Stay busy. Find things that you like doing apart from your partner. Don't lose yourself. This is the time to focus on YOU. 
LDRs work out. I get so annoyed when people say that it will never work because its long distance. My answer to that? Local relationships don't work out also. Its not always about the distance. Relationships don't work for a number of reasons, but distance doesn't have to be a deal breaker. If you both want it bad enough and the other person is worth it, it can always work. 

In my case, it is worth it. Our relationship is important to me and very rare and special and looking back, I'd make the same decision to be with Bret because I'm happy and that is what matters.
Oh, and?


Thursday, November 20, 2014

I was browsing a few blogs this week and since I have nothing particularly exciting to write about right now, I thought I'd do a little life lately post. Sometimes these moments that aren't going so fast that you can't even stop to catch your breath are the best ones. 
I stole this particular one from my friend, Theresa.
Making lists- lists of lists, actually. Lists for things that I need to do, packing lists for my next trip (which is only a week after I get back on Monday- Portland, Seattle and then Philly) and lists for the holidays.

Cooking fall dinners. I love being able to whip out the crockpot and cook heartier food. My current crockpot favorite is a chicken enchilada soup (minus the beans, because I can't do the beans).

Drinking a diet coke. Guilty! Water the rest of the day...

Reading Outliers by Malcom Gladwell and Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

Wanting chocolate. I've had the worst sweet tooth lately. I need to get myself in check.

Looking forward to the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorites and the weather is finally feeling like fall.

Playing Milo Green Pandora station. If you haven't heard of this band yet, you should definitely go check them out.

Wasting time online- Pinterest. I can't help myself. Also, new shows. There are so many good ones on tv in the fall.

Wishing I was laying on a beach reading those 2 books I'm in the middle of. A fruity drink in hand would be wonderful too.

Enjoying spending time in Philly with Bret this week while we are both working. I love cooking dinner together and getting to spend the week together during a normal week.

Wondering what to get Bret for his birthday next month. Why are birthday gifts for guys so much harder than for girlfriends?

Loving Taylor Swift's 1989 album. Yes, I admit it, I'm one of the 1.2 million girls in the country who rushed out and bought it the day it came out and I'm not going to apologize for that. She is fabulous.

Hoping that Bosley gets better. He has been to the vet a few times over the last few weeks because of a little infection he has (probably from a bruise or bite). He's on 25 days of doggie antibiotics (25 days!!). None of this seems to be slowing him down, but I still feel sorry for the pup.

Marveling at the fact that it's almost 2015. Seriously, where did this year go?

Needing to get serious again about working out and eating healthy. I have really let it slip the last few months and I'm not making any excuses- it was 100% my fault. I need to make a plan and stick to it and get back to my healthy routine and habits.

Smelling the crisp air here in Philly. It smells so good. It's cold! 

Wearing lulu pants and a soft hooded pullover that I got from TJ Maxx 2 weeks ago. Love that store.

Noticing the differences on the east cost vs California. There are so many and I swear, I'm shocked by each one I find out. Did you know that you can't buy any alcohol in the grocery store here in PA? You have to go to a liquor store. Not even wine! Also, there are rarely seat covers in public bathrooms anywhere here. So bizarre.

Thinking that I should probably make an apointment to get my hair done when I get home. Its a little rat nesty. Not cute.

Feeling happy. I could elaborate, but that is probably an entirely other post. Just happy with life right now.

Bookmarking does Pinning count as bookmarking? Ok good, I thought so.

Confessing that I've been drinking far too many diet cokes. It needs to stop because that stuff is SO bad for you and I know this, but the addiction is serious.

Opening so many e-mails I can barely keep track anymore.


New York Weekend

Monday, November 17, 2014

I've never been to NYC. I know, pause for reaction. I feel like I've been just about everywhere else and it has definitely been on my list as a city that I have to visit (and soon), but I've never had the opportunity. 
Bret and I spent the weekend in NY and we managed to pack a lot into the 2 days we were there. 
We had dinner at Bobby Flay's restaurant, Bar Americain, and it was excellent. I was hoping that it wouldn't be too touristy, and we didn't want to go clear across town for dinner since we were staying in Time Square, so after looking at some reviews, this place looked like a winner. Winner it definitely was. I had mussels and Bret had cioppino and we shared a tuna tar tare and could have probably had just about everything else on the menu as well. I was kind of hoping we'd see Bobby but he must have been competing against someone for best Mac n' Cheese (and beating them). 
 After dinner, Bret took me to the top of Rockefeller Center to the observation deck so that we could get a great view of the city. Like any good tourists, we took a million pictures. 
On Saturday morning, we slept in a little and then walked down to Central Park, grabbed pastries at an amazing little Italian place near the park, and walked around eating and looking at the gorgeous trees and people running and sweet little families playing in the park. It was freezing cold and we were bundled up but something about this huge open space in the middle of NYC was magical. 
I wanted to go see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty but wasn't sure if we'd have enough time. After spending a little bit of time in the park, we took the subway to South Ferry and bought tickets to go see both. I was excited because I wanted to see where my mom's grandparents came to the US from Italy. 
I know we have all seen the movie Hitch, but let me tell you, that was a huge lie. The books with all of the names of the immigrants who came over (over 12 million people) are no longer in existence. They were recycled after all of the records were moved to microfilm in the 40's. You can look up the records in an online database now, but I'm still glad we got to see the building where everyone was processed. 
We were able to find records of both grandparents which was very neat to see.
At the Statue, we got off of the ferry and walked around for a while, reading the info about the history and taking pictures. It was so freezing cold right on the water, but it is still one of those things that everyone should get the chance to do.
It is so hard to squeeze so much stuff into such a short period of time in a city like NY, and I'm looking forward to going back, but it was a great first trip. We are already planning our next trip and it definitely includes seeing Book of Mormon on Broadway.