"There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere . . . "
- Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Another busy, delightful weekend is just behind us. Why Monday always has to follow such happiness is beyond me.
Ben, Doolin and I continued our yearly Easter tradition and treated ourselves to a leisurely brunch. This year, we enjoyed a four course extravaganze outside at Bar Boulud, near Lincoln Center. Toward the end, the breeze picked up and we got a bit chilled, but otherwise it was a wonderful experience. We began with pastries and coffee, then I had a decadent yogurt parfait, while Ben warmed up with oatmeal. For my main course, I ordered the mushroom frittata and Ben had the Croque Madam. Then there was dessert! I could barely mover afterwards! Doolin, of course, had a bit of everything and was the happiest puppy in the world.
In addition to brunching, we spent much of the weekend out with friends. We kicked things off with cocktails at Flute, then dinner at Petrossian and more frivolity at Don't Tell Mama. I saw Clybourne Park on Broadway and dined after at Toloache(my absolute favorite Mexican restaurant in NYC). We also snuck in a meal at Eaterysomehow and vowed to stop eating out so much! So I walked the aisles of Whole Foods and bought bunches of groceries, forgetting that we have show tickets for tonight for Nice Work if You Can Get It (in previews on Broadway) and will thus most likely need to grab food out after the show, since I won't have time to cook.
Yes - if you haven't figured it out, I have a life once again! It's amazing how much easier everything is when you actually work in somewhat proximity to where you live!
Those NYC gardeners know what they are doing. The tulips exploded into bloom exactly on cue, just in time for Easter/Passover crowds to invade Central Park.
I confess, I had little time for knitting this weekend. Besides the eating and playing and park-enjoying, much of my time was taken with test driving Fiats and Minis. Specifically, the Fiat Cabriolet and the Mini Cooper Clubman. If you have expert knowledge on either of these car, please shout out! We are in a quandary. We both prefer the Clubman, but the Fiat comes with an unbeatable parking deal....and it's a convertible. Seriously? But the Clubman has a sunroof and feels more safe and sturdy to me. If it comes down to price, we will be getting the Fiat, I suppose. Long term, the Mini Cooper would be a better "investment" but we are essentially looking for a short term solution.
IF we do get a car at all, that is. We are still considering our options. What is NOT an option is me taking the bus to work much longer! I am over it, let me tell you.
But the sock knitting, it stands here.
I am poised to turn a heel. This sock does have quite the interesting heel construction, too - I've not seen anything like it, so i'll give it a whirl.
I confess, I've done nothing. The book is still sitting there, waiting to be read. Nothing is packed and I haven't had time to even dream about the fun adventures ahead. I need to get on that.
Hello my dear readers! I am sorry I've been a bit absent here lately. I have missed you!
Wrapping up my Chicago client - plus managing the festivities of Thanksgiving - kept me running around and running amok and generally away from the internets and friends and other important things in my life.
But my client is done (yay!) and we are in vacation mode around here.
Here being, in fact, Hawaii!
We arrived at the Ko Lina resort in Oahu just in time for sunset last night. We are staying right on the beach!
We look a bit worse for wear after our seven-hour flight, I'm afraid.
After sunset, we settled in at Longboards, a little beach bar...
...for cocktails... (I had a Mai Tai)...
...and dinner. I wolfed down the ahi tuna melt...
...which was stunningly delicious! The french fries, however, were sub-par. Ben enjoyed his fish and chips.
(of course, I'm willing to bet that all food is more delicious when your toes are dug into the sand and your view is this...)
Last night, we made a run to Safeway for supplies...
...and I whipped up some tasty cheese and pepper quesadillas for breakfast this morning...
...which we enjoyed on our balcony, drinking Kona coffee and admiring the ocean.
Ben is catching up on some work, spread out with his computer in in our dining area...
...while I am chatting with you and preparing to relax with my book and my yarn.
Tonight we have reservations at Alan Wong's restaurant - I can't wait!
As for our wee pup, alas, he could not join us on this vacation due to quarantine restrictions. This is the first time that both of us have been away from our little one and we are missing him. He would love it here - he is quite the beach dog!
Instead, he gets a snow vacation with Ben's aunt and uncle in Park City, Utah. We left him with smooches and cuddles two nights ago.
He will spend the next two days romping with his cousins, Rocky and Ginger, in a snow-covered back yard. He will love it.
Doo's little cousin, Ginger. They love to play chase around the living room!
Last week, my mom visited me in Chicago, where I'm working these days. I stayed the weekend there, instead of heading home, so we could explore together.
We had all sorts of adventures, rambling the city and neighborhoods. I'll tell you all about them in bits and parts, since I'm on vacation again (in Utah this time) and my time is limited. But let's start with breakfast!
One of our first stops was at a little breakfast cafe called Jasper's.
We just passed by on happenstance and thought it looked cute. It was empty inside (which made me a but suspicious, but it was only 6:15am after all) and the food turned out to be absolutely delicious!
I ordered a special house "skillet."
Eggs over-easy on top of hash browns, vegetables and cheese. And it came with a side of pancakes.
I could't even begin to finish it all, but I made a dent. I can't wait to take Ben there whenever he comes for a visit!
Mommy had a waffle and she loved it. (I had a taste and she ordered well.)
More adventures to come! Wave to Mom! She's reading over here these days.
… …during which I saw the Harry Potter finale not once but twice… …(and cried my little heart out)….
...and enjoyed brunch with Ben and Doolin at Route 66 restaurant over in Hell's Kitchen (I had an Egg White Frittata with Grilled Chicken, Feta and Spinach, with Fries and coffee...and a side of bacon for the DooDog under foot)...
…now I'm back in the North Chicago area again.
It’s nice here, I guess...
...(except for the taint in my mind, knowing of the existence of that used-pizza thief...and the nasty locker room conference room where I work).
It’s hot here….but I like hot. And it’s humid, but I’m okay with that too. Bring on the summer swelter!
I got a new pizza to make up for that sad disappearing pizza experience last week.
This one has garlic and tomatoes and I will guard it with my very life. I have pointy knitting needles and I know how to use them, you thieving Chicago rascals.
On my pizza quest, I ran across a Michael’s store and raided the shelves for some pretty, cheap wool.
I see a baby jacket materializing there in the future.
Speaking of babies, I’m working away on that blue blanket I mentioned yesterday.
This one stays with my cotton trend, but worked up in a worsted weight. The pattern is really just improvised basketweave. I love the classic look and the fact that it is completely reversible. “Wrong sides” bother me on baby blankets and scarves, so I try to work these out to minimize the “wrongness.” I’m planning to add a darker blue border in garter stitch at the end.
Easy, easy airplane knitting, all of it. Assuming I can ever stay awake for those two hour flights. With wheels up at 6am, I tend to drift back off into sleepy land as soon as the pilot turns on those noisy pressure fans.
Honestly, this commuting thing is getting old quickly. Sure, I’m racking up the miles and the Marriott points (next week I turn "Gold Elite" at the hotel, woo).
But when you travel alone, it can be very, very lonely.
here I sit, alone in my hotel...blogging at you...
There’s no one there to share the adventure. No one can reminisce with me about that time my flight canceled in Minnesota and I had to drive all night from Baltimore. No one even knows about that time I got lost looking for the hotel and wound up one the expressway to nowhere.
I find that I use twitter more when I travel, but really to share the most mundane things. I think I jump on just so I can feel like someone is out there.
Speaking of my hotel, though, my room is fine at least. Not too different from those in Atlanta and Wisconsin, really.
For brunch this weekend, we left little Doo snoozing and ventured out to the wee place we visited when we were here two years ago - Another Broken Egg Cafe.
I had the lobster and brie omelet...
...which was pretty amazing, although far too much food for me (and Ben couldn't share since he doesn't appreciate brie). The melting soft cheese melded perfectly with the chunks of buttery lobster and whipped butter. And those little potato squares crunched well alongside the meal - I think they were accented with Old Bay Seasoning!
Ben went with the familiar, for him.
Eggs Benedict, with smoked salmon. He rather enjoyed it and scraped his plate.
This time, we left with the cafe cups we regretted not buying last time around.
After brunch, we stopped for a bit of grocery shopping...
...then scooted back to our little house for lie down. We are on vacation, after all.
Hotel buffet breakfasts rarely impress me. While the cook-to-order dishes in Brasov, Romania left a sanguine inclination in me toward the typically underachieving meal, the table of randomness and bland spread languidly at the VIP was, at best, typically morose.
However, the location, location, location made everything that was wrong right again.
You really can't argue with that view. I'll munch on flax and rancid oat bran if I get to chew into an ocean breeze.
Ben and I set out right away in search of culture and cuisine.
On the way lay beach.
While European beaches are far smaller and more crowded that I experience here in the US (excepting, of course, the Fire Island insanity) I do love how laid back they are.
However, a glimpse of beach was just a passing treat as we rounded the cove and sought the path to up the the clifftops.
We tuned out the surf beckoning behind us and fled my nemesis, the pounding cancer-light in the sky, as we climbed toward the markets, the churches with relics and the bones of John the Baptist and (according to my guidebook) the prospect of worshiping at my own chosen alter - that religion of the pursuit of ever more divine foods and heavenly, flavorful spirits (of the imbibing sort)!
Let me tell you, we had a difficult time rolling out that next morning in Brasov, after our night of debauchery in the countryside.
Oh, hai hungover boy.
Hotel Corona surprized us by providing a full complimentary made-to-order breakfast. First: coffee.
Ben demolished several cups (but it was too strong for my taste).
My first foolishness of the day I blame upon a combination of exhaustion and anticipation of communication impediments. The waiter asked, "Would you like eggs?"
My reply, "Yes, please. Cooked....not too much."
Waiter: "You mean over-easy?"
Yeah, Ben teased me for a while over that one.
Our friend Brian soon joined us...in a similar state as Ben, I'm afraid to say. What a sorry pair!
After a substantial and satisfying meal, we hit the road with our driver (what was his name? Marco? Yes, Marco) in search of the Citadel of Rasnov.
It was not a happy ride. As we bumped through the beautiful sprawling Transylvania countryside, my old nemisis, the car sickness came back to haunt me (as did the eggs - cooked not too much).
It's tricky, taking pictures in a moving car with your head wedged firmly between your knees. So I didn't. I prefer my camera (and my car trips) sans vomit. These are from just outside the Citadel.
The harrowing climb via foot to the actual Citadel did not exactly improve the situation.
We whalloped our dragging rears up up up the hill. I lagged far behind, arguing with my churning stomach, trying to eck out a deal in which I would not empty my guts onto the cobblestones of an ancient citadel (bad form).
Stopping for photos was a fantastic excuse to take a break from all of the climbing!
climb, climb, climb...
Hey!...*pant**pant*...wait up!...*pant*...turn around so I can get a picture!
The end of the road! (maybe) And we slip behind the walls.
Much of the citadel wall lay in crumbles around us.
What a view, though!
(this doorway does NOT look safe...)
Oh, more climbing! And costumes!
You can even buy your very own Transylvanian attire, if you so desire.
The Romanian sun pounded our sunscreen slicked skin. It had to be over 90 degrees.
In spite of feeling significantly unwell, I did my duty and made the rounds of the walls with my camera.
Rooftops... Can we just talk about what a breathtaking view we had and how adorable those rows of houses look nestled down in the valley?
It's almost enough to make one feel not-sick. Almost.
Come here boys. Stand still.
My turn...oh my god, the sun! Help!
Now smile. Just fake it.
Tromping through the maze of rubble.
Inside the tower, enjoying the view.
Not THAT view...THIS view.
We peered into a very deep well - around 140 meters down! (no picture of the well itself - it was just all darkness)
Some time after the climb, I began to feel a lot better.
But then, of course, we had to crawl back into the damn car.
Next stop ~ Dracula's Castle (Bran Castle, actually, if you aren't feeling so touristy).