Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Great Outdoors

This weekend while everyone was enjoying the great outdoors cooking out and chilling at the lake, we spent our holiday weekend working outdoors in the yard. As soon as spring arrived, our yard tranformed into a small jungle, and it has been a challenge to keep up! On Friday, we tackled the front yard by digging up the old beds and putting brand new mulch down. Michael also trimmed the trees. As you can see...our yard needed lots of work! The beds were old dirt, mulch, and weeds.

I feel like the pictures don't do our hard work justice, but the front yard looks so much better! I am so proud of us (If you don't mind me bragging).

I have been begging Michael to let me fix the back porch and deck and make it more inviting. He wants a man cave, and I want an outdoor room! Now that its 100 degrees outside, he finally gave in. This is what our screened in porch and deck looked like on Saturday. Pretty BLAH!!!

For less than $200, I spruced it up a bit. I bought this iron wall hanging for $5 and painted it terra cotta (it's white in the before picture and you can barely see it), I found an outdoor rug on sale, added some outdoor pillows, and four adirondack chairs.

I love how it turned out! It is simple, but colorful and clean. I finally have my little outdoor room!

I placed two of the chairs on the outer deck for a little decoration. I love our new chairs.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Michael Talks Boston: Harvard & Fenway

Thursday in Boston brought us to the oldest university in the United States and the oldest ballpark in use in Major League Baseball. I guess one might say the overall theme for Boston is old. From our wonderful location in the South End, we hopped on the orange line of the “T” at Mass Ave and connected to the Red Line across the Charles River to Harvard Square. We started the morning by walking around Harvard for a little bit trying to take in the academia amongst the other tourists. The students had already finished exams, so the only real action on Harvard Yard was the facilities crews preparing for graduation and us tourists walking around snapping pictures.

This stone is just outside the main gate and tells the story of how Harvard and the city of Cambridge were founded. And just because it’s Harvard, it has to be in goofy Olde English.

This statue is of John Harvard, who was one of the University’s first donors. Brandi said that I shouldn’t touch the statue's shoe because the Harvard kids pee on it at night.

Cream of the crop indeed.

I do have to say that the Library was pretty impressive to see.

After having lunch at Au Bon Pain (which means Place of Good Bread in French, Au Bon Pain is a Boston based café and was a delicious and fancy version of Panera Bread) in Harvard Yard, we headed back to the South End to take a nap before the Red Sox Game.

After Brandi took a nap and I went for a jog in the South End, we walked toward Fenway Park in rainy conditions. Thankfully, the skies cleared just as we approached Fenway, and the game would go on without any rain delays.

The pre-game atmosphere around Fenway was pretty cool to see and featured a lot of people having beers and sausage dogs. There were bands outside the stadium on Yawkey Way, and people were excited to see Josh Beckett and Justin Verlander pitch that night in Fenway.

First pitch of the game from Josh Beckett. Beckett pitched well before leaving the game in the 7th inning with an injury. Justin Verlander pitched better than Beckett did that day, but the Red Sox came through with more clutch hits.

Despite the modern touches of the mega videoboards and marketing genius of $8 beer nights, Fenway still has the charm of days gone by, and we really got to see Bostonians in their element at Fenway. Whether they were calling J.D. Drew a bum or belting out Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" in the 8th inning, everyone was excited to be at the ballpark.

After Neil in the 8th, it was Papelbon time in the 9th. I am not sure how many other closers have entrance videos, but Papelbon’s video is awesome and the crowd went crazy for his entrance to the Dropkick Murphy’s hit “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” He made it interesting by loading up the bases in the 9th, but he got out of the inning with the score 3-3.

In the bottom of the 9th, Carl Crawford earned his monster 7 year $142 million paycheck by hiting a bases loaded single to win the game for the Red Sox. It was an awesome scene at Fenway, and we are so lucky that Jack and Emily were able to get us tickets to a game while we were in town.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

This City is OLD!

If I had to pick a "bad" day in Boston , I would pick our first day. Speaking for myself, I was still so tired from flying the night before, and the weather was pretty nasty. I am glad the weather got significantly better each day we were in the city-which you definitely notice in the pictures.

I don't think we got up until 10:00 a.m. that morning, and we didn't head out until close to 1:00 p.m. We headed downtown to eat lunch at a place Michael was dying to try. So...let me just say that the only research Michael did for this trip was logging on to Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives to find the show's picks for Boston. He meticulously listed out the Triple D locations and took the time to map them out :)! The first place we ate was a place called Sam LaGrassa's, a restaurant in an alley known for its hand cut meats, huge sandwiches, and chipotle pastrami. I opted for a classic reuben, and Michael went for the pastrami.

My stomach hurt for three days in Boston, and I think this sandwich was responsible. I didn't even eat the whole thing, but it was huge!

After lunch, we waddled around the city, and we started off on the north half of The Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a famous trail marked by red bricks throughout the city that takes you through the famous Revolutionary sites. On The Freedom Trail, we walked through a small block of the only remaining part of central downtown that was not burned in the Boston Fire hundreds of years ago. In the middle, stands the Ye Olde Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in the country!

We also toured Paul Revere's cozy house in the North End of Boston

After Paul Revere's House, we toured the Old North Church. This church is famous for its lanterns in the steeple that signaled Paul Revere to make his famous midnight ride to Lexington and Concord to warn that the British were invading.

An interesting feature of the Old North Church is its boxed pews. I have never seen these before, and it was strange to me, but actually very practical. The seats are arranged in perfect boxes with high walls, and while they look weird, they were built to keep everyone warm while at church. New Englanders would bring in their own coal and place them in warming boxes in the pews to provide heat during church.

I loved the old cemeteries we saw in Boston. Some of the tombstones didn't even look real to me because they were so worn and weathered.

We walked across the Charles River to Charlestown and saw the USS Constitution. This is the oldest war ship in the world that is still afloat.

Our last stop was Bunker Hill. This is the monument where the battle was fought. There is a beautiful neighborhood that surrounds it now.

After our first day in the city, we turned in early and had a homecooked dinner. I hate to admit how early we went to bed that night, but I was still exhausted from traveling, eating my weight in corned beef , and walking in the drizzling rain through the city. I had to get a good night's rest and get up early for our big day at Harvard!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Back from Boston

Our 5th anniversary trip to Boston has already come and gone...boy time flies when you're having fun! This was a fabulous and very busy trip! I managed to cram quite a few things in four full days, but I am glad we got to see all that we did. I plan to write five separate LONG blogs about our trip, so if you are bored by number two or three, I'M SO SORRY! I want to make sure I detail as much as I can for my sake and of course for my mom who wants to read about our trip and see as many pictures as possible!

The beginning of the trip did not go as smoothly as planned, and to be honest, I would say it went sorta like "The McGreeveys against Boston!" Let's start with the forecast. Every day, there was a prediction of heavy rain and floods threatening to drown out our plans. This is supposed to be one of the best times to visit Boston, but of all weeks, we were visiting during a time of unseasonably cold weather, rain and fog. I packed my suitcase full of winter clothes and hoped for the best! What else could I do?

You all know that I am not a fan of flying, and I was very nervous the night before we left. Miraculously I was able to fall asleep, but I was wide awake at 5 a.m. and our flight didn't leave until noon. I had seven hours to stew in my nervous insanity! I got myself up to do some yoga and pilates to release some nervous energy, and I had a 6 a.m. quiet time before waking Michael up. On a very exciting and positive note, I actually handled the flying pretty well and was much less nervous that I thought I would be. By the time we landed in Baltimore to get ready for our final flight, I was feeling pretty good. But the day wasn't going to get much better!

We arrive in Baltimore anticipating our quick layover and landing in Boston at 5:40 pm. To our great disappointment, our flight scheduled to leave at 4:15 was now leaving at 8:00 p.m. with the possibility of leaving later due to fog in the Northeast! Ugghhhh! We didn't panic though...instead we found an airport Mexican restaurant and spent $50 on three beers and mediocre Mexican food.

Our flight finally left Baltimore at 7:50 (almost four hours after we were supposed to land in Boston). We arrived in cold and foggy Boston at 9:45 p.m. in the company of many very angry travellers who were also pretty upset about their travel delay, only for things to get a little worse. Let me preface by saying that I never check my luggage. I prefer to carry it on because I know it will arrive safely. But we flew Southwest and you can check for free, and I thought it would be nice not to walk around the airport with my hands full. Well, our luggage had four extra hours to make it to Boston, and we waited and waited and watched the baggage claim carousel spin around and around until it came to a hault without our two red bags. Oh my gosh, my heart sank! We were four hours late, and I was so tired, and all I wanted were my pajamas and a toothbrush!

The best thing that happened all day was the fact that two more delayed flights from Baltimore arrived 30 or so minutes after our flight, and our luggage was on one of the flights. We finally made it to our destination around midnight, and I sank into bed praying for a better morning!

Michael and I stayed with my mom's cousin Jack and his wife Emily and daughter Lydia. They live in the South End of Boston in a beautiful four story brownstone (sorta my dream home) with great views of the Back Bay. It was great to have the opportunity to see my extended family who I have not seen in years. Not only did we get to catch up, but I think it is always great to visit places where you know someone because they always give you the best ideas for traveling around. They were great hosts, and their hospitality made the trip so much better than it would have been by staying in a hotel.

This is the great view from their top floor in Boston. It's even beautiful in the fog!

A view of their top floor

Michael making breakfast one morning before we headed out to sightsee!

So Scarlett would kill me if she saw this, but another great part of staying with Jack and Emily was their dog Foley. He is a Welsh Springer Spaniel, and he looks like a big Scarlett. He was so sweet and cuddly, and I loved him. I guess good taste in dogs runs in our family!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I love Baby Smiles!

We, or I, have had a great weekend! Michael worked a lot but what's new?! :) I admire him so much. He has worked for 15 days straight, and he still comes home happy with a smile on his face. And we still manage to find time to spend together. We haven't spent time doing anything too exciting lately, but we are leaving for Boston in two days, so I've been getting ready for our trip. Yesterday, I spent all day doing laundry and trying to figure out what to pack for what looks like a rainy and cool forecast. Last night we spent the night in, which is so great sometimes. We caught up on Friday Night Lights and ate Chinese take out before heading to bed.

Today, I got my bag packed and cleaned the house. I am so proud of myself because I got a week's worth of clothes in a carry on bag! I've learned over the years that packing lighter is always better, and it sucks to carry around a big suitcase.

Tonight, we got together with all of our friends to celebrate baby Eli. Today, he was christened in Jamie's church, and Eric's mom had us all over for homemade jambalaya and cake to celebrate his big day. Eli is 7 weeks old, and he has grown so much! It is amazing to see how much he changes every time I see him. He is already developing his personality, and he smiles and makes the cutest faces. He is the first baby I have been around so much, and it has been a neat experience.

Mommy and Baby Eli!

He has the biggest blue eyes!

Eli and Aunt Brandi!

I love this picture! He is smiling! So So So Precious!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! If you are like any of the moms I know, you deserve more than one day a year to celebrate all that you do and sacrifice as a mom. Whether you are a traditional mom, a step mom, mother-in-law, second mom, adopted mom, or fur baby mom, I hope you have had a wonderful day!

Me and my baby have spent the day chilling out at the house enjoying a very lazy Sunday. It has been great! My friend Nicole sent me a Dog Mom Mother's Day card this week. I love it, and I think it is so thoughtful and sweet! Neither of us have children, but we love our dogs and treat them like little humans. She and I always laugh about how we carry our dogs around on our hip just like a baby. I know, we are hopeless! I wanted to take a picture of my fur baby with the card, and here's what I got.

See, even dog mommies have to deal with pouting and attitudes! If I ever do become a traditional mom, I think Scarlett has given me a little taste of what it could be like raising a stubborn kid! Okay...you real moms out there, please don't judge me for that statement!:)

Mother's Day is really about celebrating my mom! My mom is my best friend. She is the one I speak to every day, sometimes two or three times a day. I love her and need her for every decision I make. She has taught me what it means to enjoy the simple things without being simple minded. She has taught me how to be happy when nothing seems to be going right. She sees the good in everyone and in everything, and she is not afraid to laugh. She is stronger than she gives herself credit for, and she has sacrificed for me to no end. She is a blessing beyond blessings, and I am proud to call her my mom!

Moms are amazing women, and though we don't thank them enough, they still love us like no one else can or will.

Happy Mother's Day!