Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lucky Number 13

Yesterday I hit a record number of steps--13,706! Of course, I was probably soaring over that mark this past summer when I was training for my 60 mile walk and doing 8-15 miles a day. When I originally set out to counting my steps everyday, I had lofty goals. I had no idea how few steps I would rack up working in front of a computer all day and walking around our 800 square foot apartment. I've taken to stepping side-to-side while reading, doing dishes, cooking, watching TV, but haven't been able to get any extra steps in on visits to the bathroom--unless you figure in that sometimes the pedometer falls off my pants. I was reading out loud to Nicholas last night. My side-to-side stepping distracted him and gave me a headache, but it was worth a try! Pretty soon I am sure I will take "jogging in place" breaks from computer!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Froggy Fresh

A couple of years ago I bought a Vicks humidifier. On the box it says "quiet operation," but Nicholas whole heartedly disagrees. Nicholas has not been feeling well the past few days. We hooked up the Vicks humidifier. After a few minutes, Nicholas ripped the cord out of the wall and said it was going to give him a headache. Our favorite 4 month old graciously let us borrow her froggy humidifier.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Date Night Rhode Island Style

Friday night is date night. I recently found out that there is a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in RI, and in honor of our move back to Texas, I thought it would be nice to spend date night there. So, we drove the 20 minutes to Texas Roadhouse only to find that it was in the same parking lot as a huge (at least for RI) movie theater. We walked in, and there must have been a 2 hour wait (at 6:30p). Since it was about 29 degrees outside, that meant that all those people were crammed inside near the host station. Needless to say, we skedaddled on out of there. The food just isn't that good. Instead, we made our way down to On the Border for some Mexican food.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gone to Texas

Gone to Texas was a phrase used by Americans immigrating to Texas in the 19th century. As adventures pulled up stakes seeking a fresh start, three letters three letters chalked on homestead doors revealed their destination. GTT...Gone to Texas.
Each August on the evening before fall classes begin at the University of Texas, new students are invited to celebrate their fresh start at the Tower with live music and a broad spectrum of presentations from across the campus.
Come August we will be chalking those letters on our door (hopefully to the dismay of our noisy neighbors). You can never stay away from home for too long.

Beware of the Plus

As part of the ShapeUp RI program I am doing, I am able to sign up for free classes all over RI. I went to a "Step Plus" class today. I have been to step classes before, and I currently attend one every Thursday night. The description of the class today said "some step experience required." We did 45 straight minutes of stepping, which is intense when you are trying to step, knee, kick, repeat, mambo, grapevine, shimmy, pendulum, and tap it out all at the right time. Then we did the killer squats and lateral raises with the step. Did I mention that I just went to a step class last night? Granted, last night was less intense than today. The combination was a nice butt-kicking experience.
On a side note, it is amazing how having a job where you sit in front of the computer is not conducive to racking up the steps on the pedometer! Come Spring, I will be outside all the time!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Funny Valentine

On Saturday, we took a drive to Pomfret, CT to visit the "quite corner" of Connecticut. We enjoyed the nice drive, stopped at a (very cold) National Park, and had lunch at the Vanilla Bean Cafe. It was a short 40 minute drive west. We also stopped in at the Sharpe Hill Winery and had a little tasting.

For dinner, we stayed in and ate chicken with spagetti squash (a fabulous dish) and watched the movie "Nights in Rodanthe" (a stupid movie). Nicholas gave me some plants that will eventually reside in our garden (more to come in a later post).

Orchid Obsessions

Orchids are a running them in our house. I had an orchid a couple of years ago, but I very easily killed it. I asked Nicholas to create an icon for our wedding, and it included an orchid (although he thinks real orchid enthusiasts would be appalled at the artistic license he used). Last year, Nicholas bought another orchid in conjunction with some other plants he was buying to make projects. I don't know if he ever intended to use the orchid in an art piece (or if it was an excuse to buy an orchid), but the orchid lived in his studio for several months. Sometime last Spring, he had a studio disaster where the hanging shelves and the wall had a fight. On a side note, this was around the same time that Nicholas was experimenting with punching and jumping through drywall. Maybe the walls of his studio were sending him a message. I digress...

Our wedding icon
The orchid sustained minor injuries from the disaster and found a new home in our apartment. Did I mention that Nicholas has an orchid book? He did some research on the flowering cycles of orchids. He found that they flower, lose the flower, grow a new leaf, then flower again. Well, we got 2 new leaves before our orchid flowered again. Perhaps it was too traumatized by the studio disaster to flower. Nonetheless, we now have a flowering orchid that apparently doesn't realize it is 29 degrees outside. Enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

And It All Comes Down To This...Or Does It?

In a few short days (Feb. 16th, to be exact), Nicholas will officially start his last semester of grad school. As we approach that day I know we are both filled with so many different emotions: anxiety, excitement, stress, sadness, and hope. When all is said and done, Nicholas will have spent 3 years of his life and our relationship (2 years of our married life) at Rhode Island School of Design. This final semester could end up being one of the toughest as everything he has done thus far will culminate in his thesis paper and thesis show. He will have to reconcile many things and produce a lot of "finished" work. (A lot of his work over the past few years has been experimentation working toward "finished" work.)

That being said, we are approaching another time when Nicholas will be spending long hours at school and in the library. We will continue to struggle with balancing school and our life together. At the same time, we will be making plans for our future. In the coming months we will be making more "life decisions." (Is there ever a time in our lives when we won't be making life decisions?) We will be deciding where the next stop on our path is and how we are going to get there. This will be an especially hard decision because it will be based mostly on what is best for both of us, not because of grad school, and probably only secondarily because of jobs. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we enter this spring semester, which I am sure will lead to many, many blog postings!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Groundhog Day

It was inevitable that "the groundhog" would see his shadow. We knew we were in for at least 6 more weeks of winter. Although we have had some melting snow this weekend, the weather is getting cold again already.
We celebrated Groundhog Day (A.K.A. Nicholas' Birthday) by finishing Harry Potter. I have been in mourning ever since. We are very sad to have our friends, who have been a part of our lives since August, leave us. The final chapter of Harry Potter was by far my favorite. It was a mature piece of writing that kept us on the edge of our seats (with tissues in hand) the entire 750 pages. As we approach the end of our 7 days of mourning, we look with anticipation toward our next adventure together!

We also went out to dinner at a restaurant called Two Forty Two. I got a gift certificate off and thoroughly enjoyed using it. Check out the website. You can get discounted gift certificates to participating restaurants. Search the web for coupon codes to get even more discounts! If a restaurant stops participating in the program after you buy a gift certificate (and before you use it), they send you an email so you can get different certificates.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Steps of Life

I signed up for ShapeUpRI. For $20 I got a pedometer, and for 12 weeks I will track my daily steps. As an added perk, I will be able to try out some different workout classes all over the state. Plus, I am on a team, competing with other teams all over the state. I like competition. It motivates me. I wore the pedometer for the first time on Tuesday. We had a huge snow storm and the aerobics class I have been going to on Tuesdays and Thursdays was cancelled. I was appalled at how few steps I took on a day that I did not workout. It is so important for me to workout, especially since I work from home and cannot possibly get enough movement in our 888 sq. ft. apartment each day (unless I scrub from floor to ceiling everyday!). They say that you should strive for 10,000 steps each day. Naturally, I will strive for 14,000, just to be different.
When I was a junior in college, I fell down the stairs. Well, it was more like stumbling down concrete porch steps, not snowballing down a lot of carpeted indoor stairs. I hit my foot just the right way on the stone step to break a bone. I spent four months on crutches. The leg on my broken foot atrophy-ed after 6 weeks in a cast, and I gained weight in weird places from inactivity. I learned a lot about myself (and other people) that year...but that is for another time. Once I was off crutches and started working my debunk leg back to normal, I swore to to myself that I would always stay active and workout regularly. It's funny how the definition of regularly can change so often!
I have done a lot of different things to help me keep this goal. For about 6 months before our wedding, I had a personal trainer at 24hr Fitness, but they are expensive, and I told myself that I would learn a lot that I could then do on my own. Last year I trained to walk 60 miles in 3 days and clocked over 550 miles in the course of 6 months. It is only recently that I have decided that I need a competition and/or a short term goal where I am accountable to someone else in order to stay motivated, and the competition/goal has to change constantly. I also need someone else to do the thinking for me. If I do the thinking for myself, it is too easy for me to weasel out of pushing myself like I need to be pushed. In short, I will always be on the lookout for something new and exciting (especially in the land of snow)! It also helps if I pay money in advance for something...then I won't want to waste my hard earned cash!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Oh Hi

I have to admit I thought it was silly when I felt like Nicholas' parents always had to stay at a Holiday Inn Express. It was relatively early in our relationship when this came up. I think it was our first "family" vacation to Boston/Providence all those years ago. Anytime I had stayed in a hotel in college, I was looking for the cheapest deal and usually shared the room with more people than you are really supposed to (especially during TX/OU weekend). I asked Nicholas why they stay at Holiday Inns, and he said something about points. At the time, this whole frequent flyer/frequent stayer points thing was new to me. It's funny that less than 4 months from that trip I would sign up for every frequent flyer airline program there was in anticipation of travelling to Providence to visit Nicholas.
And now here comes my Ode to Holiday Inn Express, my favorite cheap, clean, home away from home. Whoever did the marketing for Holiday Inn Express was a genius. From the "smart coffee" to the soft/firm labeled pillows to the shampoo/conditioner I swear smells just like the cinnamon rolls they serve at breakfast you just can't help but be happy. The continental breakfast is yummy and now serves "hot food" including sausage and eggs. Plus, the points really do add up! We have enjoyed 2 free nights since we started collecting points.
There is definitely something to be said for a comfy bed, a clean shower, warm food, and feeling like you are home again. Here's a picture of Nicholas' breakfast on our most recent stay.

Sorry, No Elephants Allowed.

We took a respite from the snow and spent the weekend at the end of January in sunny, humid Houston, Texas for a wedding of a college friend, Timir. It was a Hindu wedding and started at 10AM and pretty much lasted all day with a break in the middle.

I have never been to a Hindu wedding and wasn't sure what to expect. Luckily, Timir sent out a synopsis of the events of the wedding ceremony that was really informative. I only wish I had printed out and brought it with us! We began the day in the parking lot of the Stafford Civic Center where the Groom's family and friends processed him to the front door. Timir rode in the back of a convertible (much like in a parade) while people danced and walked in front of him. A good portion of the service did not include the bride. After everyone was seated in the ceremony hall, a snack was served. We were actually fed 4 times throughout the day. The ceremony lasted 2.5 hours and was spoken in Sanskrit. The decor was beautiful as were the women's traditional dresses.

After the ceremony, lunch was served in an adjacent room while the bride and groom took family pictures for a few hours. I don't actually know that it took that long, but they had a lot of family and friends! We had a 6 hour break before the evening festivities, so we went to lunch (yummy Mexican food...just can't get enough) with some friends.

Our 3rd Indian food meal of the day began at 6pm with yummy appetizers and socializing. Around 7, we mingled into the dinner hall where the bride and groom took their throne. The bride and groom's families thanked everyone for coming and gave little speeches. Then the sister of the bride gave a hilarious speech/slideshow of old photos. Several people/families had prepared dances that they performed for the couple. Around 9pm we had a fabulous dinner spread and wedding cake. We were exhausted by the end of the day!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Nicholas!

What happened on this day in history?

962: John XII crowned German King Otto I the Great Emperor
1653: New Amsterdam becomes a city (later NYC)
1848: The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed between the United States and Mexico.
1863: Samuel Clemens becomes Mark Twain for 1st time
1876: The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs is formed.
1887: First Groundhog Day
1893: 1st movie close-up (of a sneeze), Edison studio, West Orange, NJ
1912: Frederick R Law, parachutes from Statue of Liberty (stunt for Pathe)
1923: Ethyl gasoline 1st marketed, Dayton, Ohio
1926: 3 men dance Charleston for 22« hours
1932: Al Capone sent to prison (Atlanta, Georgia) and Geneva disarmament conference begins with 60 countries
1943: Germany's Sixth Army surrenders after failing to defeat Soviet forces defending Stalingrad during World War II.
1955: 1st presidential news conference on network TV-Eisenhower on ABC
1962: 1st pole vault over 16' (4.88 m) (John Uelses-16¬', Melrose Games) and 8 of 9 planets align for 1st time in 400 years
1984: Lebanese army fight in Beirut
1990: South African president F.W. de Klerk ends a 30-year ban on the African National Congress (ANC).