Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: Year in Review

If I had to describe 2013 in one word, I would use "bittersweet."

I'll primarily remember 2013 as the year we left New York and moved back to Ohio. I still miss Brooklyn and succumb to bouts of sadness if I think about it too long. But at the same time, I'm glad to be back in my home state, close to family and in a new home in a neighborhood I love.

Of course, Edith played a big part in my year -- she was only about 6 weeks old when 2013 began. In January, we drove from New York to Ohio to have her baptized in my hometown, and the milestones kept piling on from there. She ate her first food in May (avocado!), but a few weeks prior she had a very New York milestone: her first subway ride.

February is generally my least favorite month, but this year one weekend was one of the most exciting of 2013.  Paul and I decided to change our annual dinner party into a Sunday brunch, and on the very same day my nephew Wyatt was born! A fun day was made even better.

Happily, having a kid didn't stop us from hitting the road once in a while. Besides all of those back-and-forths to Ohio, we managed a day trip to Philadelphia (visiting a good friend who lives there) at the beginning of May, and a visit to some Hudson River towns at the end of the month. Then, in November, we took our first overnight vacation as a three-person family: a week in Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, SC.

Shortly after we returned to Ohio, I launched a freelance writing career -- a job I've found difficult and rewarding. And the move necessitated another task: buying a car. My Prius is my first vehicle in six years!

We weren't back in Ohio for long before Paul returned to New York to run the New York City Marathon at long last. He was supposed to run it last year, shortly before Edith was born, but Hurricane Sandy got in the way. Unfortunately Edith and I weren't there to cheer him on, but it was an exciting month nonetheless: Edith turned 1 in November!

So happy belated birthday, Edith, and happy anniversary to Paul and me: we celebrated 10 years of marriage in August.

An exciting year indeed! No post on Wednesday. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Train at the Columbus Metropolitan Library

I might have pretended to go to the holiday train display at the Columbus Metropolitan Library for Edith, but it was really for me.

Let's be honest. She wouldn't have known if we had skipped out on the multistory display featuring 280 feet of track, tunnels and bridges. And did she really appreciate the old-timey homes or waterfall?

No, but I did. And I like to think she enjoyed it just a little, too.

Merry Christmas! The blog will return next Monday, Dec. 30.

Find Paul and Edith!

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Home Ready for Christmas

In Brooklyn we didn't have much space to decorate for Christmas. Although we might have had room to squeeze in a Christmas tree, we certainly wouldn't have had room to store it. Instead, I emptied out our curio cabinet and gingerly placed our ornaments there.

Even though we now have plenty of space for a full-size tree, we opted for a tabletop version this year to completely eliminate the temptation for Edith. The tree sits on the buffet in the dining room, easily visible from the living room. And I enjoy looking at it -- and the ornaments we sat around the base -- at every meal.

One holdover from our Brooklyn Christmases: lights around the window. Since there's no tree in the window, I have to give passers-by something to look at!

I didn't get a wreath to hang outside by the door. Maybe next year. But I did hang garland and a big red ribbon on our stairway, and a string of musical, lit bells and a stocking around the fireplace. And on top of a bookcase, next to the globes, our small, wooden nativity, with Paul's old animals-made-of-clothespins looking on. Because is it really Christmas if Rudolph isn't gazing at the baby Jesus?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

An Afternoon at Columbus' North Market

One of the highlights of Columbus is downtown's North Market. That's especially true if you love food. And who doesn't?

North Market is home to about three dozen vendors that sell pretty much everything you need to get through the day, plus a few things to make that day a bit more pleasant -- fruit, vegetables, spices, wine, fish, eggs, pasta, salsa, flowers and much, much more.

And that's just the take-home stuff. What really lures me to the North Market is all of the places to eat-in. I haven't tried half of it, but I love to slowly browse the options before I make my decision and take it to the seating area upstairs.

There's the chocolates and pastries and baklava and pretzels. There's Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams -- in fact, North Market was home to her first location, and her fame has spread throughout the country. There's Polish food and Italian food and Middle Eastern food and barbecue.

And there's what Paul and I decided on when we visited on Sunday. Paul went in knowing what he wanted: a Chicago-style hot dog from Best of the Wurst. I finally decided on a chocolate chip brownie that was at least three inches tall from Omega Artisan Baking before opting at the last second for a piece of chocolate cheesecake from the same shop.

It was a good choice. One of the best, richest desserts I've had not only in Columbus, but anywhere. Yet another reason to return to North Market soon.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Edith Being Cute

A few recent additions to my photo collection over the past few weeks.

At the Statehouse.

Family photo in front of the office where Paul and I met.

Asleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed.

At the Boonshoft Museum in Springfield.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Edith's First Vacation

Our week in South Carolina and Georgia wasn't Edith's first trip -- that honor belongs to our day in Philadelphia in May. And it certainly wasn't her first road trip -- after so many back-and-forths between New York and Ohio, she's a pro.

But it was her first vacation.

That meant her first hotel stays. I have to admit I was nervous. But with very little effort and for no more money, we ended up in suites for three of our six nights. Now, that didn't mean we had two completely separate rooms -- there was no door to distinguish the two areas, but more like an extended wall. But it did provide Edith with a bit more darkness to sleep in while Paul and I stayed up.

Even in Charleston, where we really did have only one room, we were able to put the Pack 'n' Play in the tiny "hallway" leading to our room door. We turned off the lights, pulled up Hulu, and watched TV on my phone while she slept.

And sleep she did. She had no problems whatsoever sleeping through the night. Naps were hit or miss, mostly in the car or stroller.

So overall, vacationing with Edith was a good experience and one I won't mind repeating. And at no point (or at least very, very few points!) did I wish I was home instead of on the road, and that speaks volumes.

Our vacation was just a week before Edith's birthday, which means she hit the 10-state mark before she turned one. In order: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. At this rate, she'll have visited them all by kindergarten!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Low Country Food of the Carolinas and Georgia

More than anything else, our trip to South Carolina and Georgia was about FOOD. I think I had pulled pork every night but one. No complaints.

In addition to meat, I also had my fill of sweet tea. It's odd: Normally I hate buying drinks in restaurants. But if I'm in the South, I make an exception for sweet tea. (My other exception: Thai iced tea in any Thai restaurant.) I'm sure I gave myself about four cavities from all of it I downed.

Edith also tried a lot of new foods. She got her fill of grits, and I couldn't feed her enough baked beans -- they might have been the sweetest food she had tried up to that point. And cornbread. I hated giving it to her because I wanted it all to myself! But I was a good mama and shared.

Here are some of our memorable meals and foods.

Fried okra was a popular side that Paul and I both liked.
Edith's favorite side by far was baked beans.

Favorite sides of the trip: plantains, plus sweet potato salad

Tomato pie in Hilton Head Island. Yum!

Paul got the fried chicken at Hilton Head.

Paul getting boiled peanuts at a roadside stand outside Charleston.

No pulled pork tonight! Cornbread, tomato pudding, sweet potatoes and fried grits.
Edith liked this meal as much as I did.

Another meal without pork: We waited until our last day to get seafood.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Photos of Charleston, S.C., and Hilton Head Island-ish

Hilton Head Island is close to Savannah, Ga., and barely out of the way on the drive from there to Charleston, S.C. So we decided to swing by.

The detour was kind of a bust. We didn't really know where we were going and had no specific destination in mind. We ended up eating a really good lunch that Paul had scoped out online earlier, and then we left the island without even seeing a beach.

But we did stop just outside the island -- so close, it was practically on it, I would say -- at the Pinckney Island Nature Reserve. We walked along the marshland for about an hour, enjoying the sunny, beautiful weather. Then on to Charleston.

And now, a few more photos.

The little bit of land on the right is pretty much the only photographic proof
that I ever visited Hilton Head Island. Oops.

Paul is proud of ... ?


More birds. Or the same birds elsewhere?

So many birds ...

... and trees. Nature!

 And a few more photos from Charleston ...

Edith and me.

Now, that looks like the South!

Nothing like that in Ohio.

Almost Christmas!


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