Monday, July 30, 2012

A Week in the Canadian Maritimes

View of Halifax and the harbor from the Citadel

Leave it to me to get my first tan in years not in Florida or Italy, but in Canada.

Of course, I use "tan" comparatively. I'm still pretty ghostly. But compared to my usual Caspar-like pallor, I look pretty brown. Or red, if you look at my ankles -- the one place I obviously forgot to use sunblock.

Tan or no tan, burn or no burn, we're back from our week in Canada: 3 nights in Halifax, Nova Scotia, followed by 4 nights near Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. It was the most relaxing vacation I've ever taken, and the first one I can remember in a long time in which I came home and my feet didn't hurt.

I wasn't up for planning an intricate two-week jaunt, and I wasn't sure my 5-month pregnant body could take the hustle and bustle of our normal vacation anyway. So instead we chose a destination I'd long wanted to see ever since reading "Anne of Green Gables" as a child: Prince Edward Island. Paul had a hankering to see Halifax, and since it's only a 4-hour drive away, we tacked that on to the trip, too.

Since the Maritime provinces of Canada (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick) are only a two-hour nonstop flight away, these passport stamps were the easiest I've ever acquired. (In fact, I was very excited to get them -- we've never gotten stamps any time we've driven across the Canadian border.)

The weather was beautiful: temperatures in the 70s and perhaps low to mid-80s for a day or two, with no humidity. A few nights it was even cold enough to need pants and long sleeves -- a far cry from the weather we left in New York. It rained exactly one day, and that was the one we drove from Halifax to Prince Edward Island and had no outdoor plans. Perfect.

Over the next few weeks you'll see several blog posts regarding the vacation, perhaps interspersed with posts about whatever else is happening here at home in the meantime.

Halifax Town Clock

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pie at Four & Twenty Blackbirds

I didn't get a birthday cake on Sunday -- it was way too hot to bake, and besides, I was in the mood for pie. Specifically, pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds, a pie shop in an up-and-coming-but-not-quite-there neighborhood about 3 1/2 miles from us.

The inside was small but cute, a cross between a coffee shop and a flea market cafe. Wooden tables -- one large and several small -- filled up the space, and at least one person was working on a laptop. Still, the place was full. Luckily, a couple of seats opened up just as we were placing our order.

Paul went with the classic blueberry crumble; no complaints there. I opted for the black bottom oat pie as soon as I heard it was lined with chocolate ganache. The inside was gooey and sweet (almost like pecan pie filling without the nuts), and the oat top was nice and crunchy.

Although $4.75 might seem steep for a slice of pie, it's the going rate (if not a bit cheaper) for good desserts in this town. And the slices were huge. By the time I was finished I almost wished we had split a piece of pie. But really I was happy to eat the whole thing by myself. Happy birthday to me!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our First New York Wedding

The results from my first experience with a photo booth.

I spent the first wee moments of my 31st birthday Sunday trying to find a parking spot in Bay Ridge. That's because I -- who never, ever drives in New York (well, at least very rarely) -- was in charge of getting us back safely from a wedding reception in Dumbo.

And who was I to refuse? At least one of us could enjoy the open bar, and that wasn't going to be me.

In all reality, it wasn't that big of a deal. It wasn't even the smallest blemish on an otherwise lovely evening -- the marriage of one of Paul's neighborhood running/beer-brewing pals. It was our first wedding of a New York friend, and it felt like a milestone.

Since we've moved to New York, we've generally been invited to at least one or two weddings in Ohio, and we try to attend what we can, schedules permitting. Unfortunately, we've missed several we otherwise would have attended had we lived in Ohio.

But it was never any wonder that we'd been invited to that many, even if we couldn't physically be there for all of them. After all, we each spent 26+ years making and maintaining those relationships.

I certainly never thought we'd be in New York long enough to make friends good enough who would consider putting us on their guest list. It feels a bit like a breakthrough, or at least like we haven't just bided our time socially in the last five years.

So the photo booth at the wedding was just a bonus.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Sunday Birthday

Me, just short of 31 years ago.

I'm not a fan of Sunday birthdays.

It's really quite unreasonable of me. But I like the bustle of making an ordinary day special -- you know, waking up for work, but remembering it's not only a workday. And then the pleasantness of having all of your coworkers wishing you well!

Fridays, I believe, make for the best birthdays. An ordinary day turns special, and then you can celebrate at night with no worries about the next day's alarm. Lovely.

But a Sunday birthday is little better than any old Sunday, especially when it's as hot as my 31st birthday yesterday was. I spent the day surrounded by fans, futilely resisting an afternoon nap. We were going to go to Central Park and rent a boat, but it was too hot, and anyway, it looked like rain.

Instead Paul and I went to a pie place I'd been wanting to try forever about three miles north of here (more about that in another post). And really, birthday pie is much better than birthday cake, right?

As I write this all down, I realize I have little to complain of - woe is me, with my pie and birthday nap. Maybe I'll even come to look forward to a Sunday birthday by the time the next one rolls around.

Friday, July 13, 2012

48 Hours in Philadelphia

This past weekend in Philadelphia was hot. Very, very hot. So hot as to be almost unbearable. But it wasn't unbearable, because Allison, Sarah and I stayed mostly inside.

That doesn't mean we hung out in Sarah's apartment the whole weekend, although we did a fair share of that, too. We saw a few sites, had some good food and generally enjoyed any place that was air conditioned.

On Saturday, we stayed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art until it closed at 5 p.m. We dawdled among the Asian and contemporary art inside, although I have a feeling that many tourists don't make it that far. Although it was about 100 degrees outside, there was still a line to take a photo next to the Rocky statue, and people still ran up the famous stairs like he did in the movie. Or so I hear -- I've actually never seen the film.

Had it been a pleasant spring day, it would have been a lovely walk to and from the museum, but instead we took a bus, a trolley and the subway. But no matter -- Sarah still introduced us to some good food along the public transportation routes, or within walking distance of her apartment. I had Thai food (yum), gelato (double yum) and even some delectable blueberry cornmeal pancakes for brunch. But the best stop foodwise was probably a stop for drinks and desserts at The Continental.

Drinks, of course, were out for me, but the tapas-style desserts tamped down any disappointment I might have felt at having to forego such brightly colored martinis! My favorite dessert was one we got after the photo below was taken -- a warm blondie brownie topped with ice cream and whipped cream. Amazing.

But the highlight of the trip wasn't what we saw or ate, but simply hanging out with friends I haven't seen for months separately, and years together. So much talking in 48 hours! When baby's born I think we need a repeat reunion -- after all, father and daughter need to bond, and mama needs her own neon martini!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Philadelphia Reunion

A kind stranger took our photo (with a bit of her own finger in the corner) at the art museum.

In fall 1999, my first quarter of college, I was paired with three roommates at random. One I rarely saw throughout the year, and never again once the school year was over. The other two and I not only became good friends, but also lived together until graduation tore us apart. Besides my sister and Paul's sister, they were the only other bridesmaids I had at my wedding.

Sarah, Allison and I moved to various cities and states after leaving Ohio State, but for the last two years we've all been within a few hours of each other on the East Coast -- Sarah in Philadelphia, Allison in Annapolis and me in Brooklyn. Although we've seen each other individually since becoming right-coasters, all three of us haven't been in the same room since the mid-2000s.

Finally, we all coordinated schedules and met in the middle for a weekend in Philadelphia. It was my first time there since a single afternoon in the city in the summer of 2000. So I was eager to see the sites, but I was more eager to see my friends.

This was a girls' weekend only, so Paul stayed behind and I caught a Greyhound after work for the two-hour ride. Roundtrip was only $30 -- probably cheaper than driving, considering the toll roads and bridge fees. After realizing how easy the whole trip really was, I spent the weekend chastising myself for not making it sooner, and more often.

I was gone for only 48 hours on the dot, and of course the weekend passed by much too quickly. On Friday I'll share photos and a bit of what we did: indoor activities, taking into account the nearly three-digit temperatures!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Halfway to Baby

Last week marked the halfway point of this pregnancy. When I mentioned the landmark to Paul, I added that the time had gone fast.

"Has it?" he asked, clearly believing the opposite.

I laughed; he's right, it really hasn't gone by that fast. And in the deepest depths of my 10 weeks or so of morning sickness, the time went by extremely, excruciatingly slow. Now I can laugh about it. Two months ago it was much more difficult.

That time, however, has passed, hopefully for good. I feel fine now, except for the constant tossing and turning at night and my absolute need to eat every few hours. It could be worse. And now I can get out and do things: take walks, go out to eat, get up without throwing up. Ahh, the things I once took for granted.

We've also made quite a bit of headway in our baby supplies. The new rocker-recliner was delivered a couple of weeks ago, and we bought a dresser at Ikea that will double as a changing table. We've picked out a stroller and carseat, though we don't yet have them in hand. We even have books, a few toys and a couple of larger items (like the all-important bouncy seat) from our trip to Ohio in May.

We still have a ways to go, but we're slowly becoming baby-ready. I'm not stressed.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Busy July

And a busy month begins:

After work today I'm catching a bus to Philadelphia to spend the weekend with two of my three college roommates. More on that next week.

Next Saturday we're attending our first New York wedding, the nuptials of one of Paul's running/beer-brewing friends who lives in our neighborhood. The following day is my birthday and, ironically, one of the only weekend days in July that we don't have plans. I'm sure that will change.

The following weekend we're leaving on vacation: a full week in Halifax and Prince Edward Island, Canada. I hope it will be not only relaxing, but also at least 10 degrees cooler.

I'm mostly prepared: bus and airplane tickets purchased, car rental made, hotels reserved. The only things that aren't done are the things I'm purposefully waiting on: Do I need a new outfit for the wedding, or will I still be able to fit into my flowy black dress in a week? (I think I'll be fine, but I'm trying it on Tuesday or Wednesday and will make an emergency run to Century 21 if need be.) Do I need a new swimsuit for vacation? (Almost certainly yes, but I'm waiting until the last minute for that, too.)

The month will be exciting but full. Expect blog delays: especially the last full week of July!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Weird Weather (at Least in Ohio)

As my family and friends in Ohio have lately lived through tornado-like winds and several weeks of 90+ degree-temperatures, I've been comparatively comfortable.

The key word in "comparatively." "Comfortable" is a difficult word for me to use to describe myself as I sit sweating in front of a box fan. But when you consider that we've turned on the bedroom air conditioner only once this year, I know I'm lucky. With a ceiling fan and a bowl full of frozen grapes, I can make it through the day.

Even as the midwest was in the middle of a heatwave and drought, New York was experiencing springlike temperatures and rain, rain, rain. And as the recent derecho has knocked out power for thousands of customers in Ohio, including many people I know, I'm content to be hot during the day and cool enough at night to require a light sheet.

When I mentioned last week to a friend or two that my hometown was to reach 106 degrees, I was quick to say that this was not the norm. Usually the weather in New York and Ohio is practically identical, aside from the occasional hurricane threat. Sure, we generally don't have rain or snow at the exact same time, but never have two summers been so disparate in my two homes.

It's just been a typical summer in New York. I wish Ohio could say the same.

On another topic completely, I wish everyone a happy Independence Day. The blog will return (I promise!) on Friday.


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