Friday, November 30, 2012

Polish Swap

I'm always game for a good polish swap so when I saw this one over at Lipgloss and Crayons, I immediately signed up.  I was paired with a fellow New York blogger, Jillian.  She blogs over at Keep Calm and Wear Pearls.

Jillian and I exchanged a few emails to reveal our polish preferences.  I was really hoping for some bold color polishes.  She totally hit the nail on the head with the package she sent me!

I loved the two colors and the cute little burlap bag!!  So fun!  I have been away on business all week, but I can't wait to try these two polishes.  The blue one is Butler Please by Essie.  The yellow one is Lightening by Sally Hanson.  They are both exactly what I had hoped in terms of boldness. 

They will also be perfect when I am cheering for Christopher's alma mater - the University of Pittsburgh!  I can't wait to try them out! 

Thanks to Jillian for being such a great swap partner!  Go check her out!

Andrea :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book #4 - Gone Girl

I'm linking up with the Blogger Book Club crew for book 4 of 10 on my 30 before 30 quest. 

The book for the month of November was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  I got a bit of a late start as I was finishing up Book #3 so I actually didn't finish the book until today.

Gone Girl is the story of a couple that recently moved from New York City to Missouri and their transitions not only in location, but also personally over their two years of courtship and five years of marriage.  On their 5th wedding anniversary, Amy turns up missing.  Nick is a likely suspect, but insists he didn't kill his wife.  The story takes many twists and turns, but eventually all the mysteries are solved.

It took me awhile to get into this book (which also might have possibly led to my delay in finishing it), but after I got about a third of the way in, I couldn't put it down.  In the end, there were some things I really liked and some things that were a little disappointing.

I really liked the writing style.  I enjoy reading books where you are getting different points of view regarding the same events. Gone Girl goes back and forth between Amy's diary entries and Nick's thoughts - both are very unique to their personalites and very well written. I also liked the thrill of trying to figure out what was going to happen next.  I enjoyed the love story - how they met, how life got in the way, how they had become distant, how she had gone missing.  It was neat how these pieces were told through the perspectives of both Amy and Nick.

I didn't like the ending.  I won't give it away, but I definitely thought it would go a different direction.  I also thought that it was a little lengthy.  It could have been shortened up a little in a few different places.

The entire time I was reading the book, I was picturing it as a movie.  I'm not sure if they will make one from it, but I think it would be a good one.  Definitely a twist from your typical love story.  Something for everyone!  I would definitley recommend reading it, but consider yourself warned that it is pretty intense in various sections.  It was a lot of fun to read because it kept me guessing and trying to figure things out.  Something that would be fun to read at the beach or on vacation when you have plenty of time to devote to it!

Andrea :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Stadium Review - Panthers

Carolina Panthers

Name of Stadium: Bank of America Stadium
Capacity: 73,778
Game Attended: versus Broncos in November 2012 with Christopher
Worked a game at this stadium? No.

Chris and I had a little weekend getaway to Charlotte a couple of weekends ago.  Although, there wasn't too much to do in Charlotte, we found a few neat spots and had a great time (full review of the trip is coming soon!).  The main purpose of our trip was to watch the Panthers take on the Broncos that Sunday.  While the game was lacking in competitiveness, the stadium experience totally made up for it.

We started the day with a brief walk from our hotel to the downtown stadium.  We both liked the fact that the stadium was smack dab in the middle of the city.  There were lots of vendors set up in the blocks that surrounded the stadium.  This worked out well for us - we were able to get some delicious hot dogs from a local church before heading into the stadium.

As we approached the stadium, we saw one of the most odd things ever - a vendor selling the opposing team's gear.  It was insane!  We could not believe it.  Just didn't seem right.  Nevertheless, we continued on into the stadium.  The exterior is very impressive.  One of the prettiest stadiums I have seen.

We were fortunate enough to have an opportunity to score some pre-game field passes so we arrived about an hour early for that experience.  It was a lot of fun seeing everything up close and personal.  Obviously, I have been on the field in many stadiums as a result of my job, but it was a lot of fun to be able to experience the pre-game excitement with Chris.  (We have been on the field a couple of other times together, but our teams were playing in those games so we were a little more tense...stay tuned for those reviews - Pittsburgh (v. Bengals) and Buffalo (v. Jets).)

doing his signature move coming out of the tunnel...we were still on the field at this point so I took a picture of the video board

After all of that fun, we headed through the tunnel and up to our AWESOME seats!  We had a great view.  Unfortunately, the game wasn't too exciting and fans began to leave very early in the third quarter.  But not before a couple of fights broke out in our section....pretty intense!

Taken toward the end of the game...check out the nearly empty stadium!
I really liked this stadium.  They had a really good variety of food options in the concourse...and they weren't overly expensive!  The huge scoreboard in the endzone was great...especially when the action was happening at the other end of the stadium.  They also had a really good souvenir option.  I usually get a pin with the team logo at each stadium I visit.  At Carolina, they had game specific pins with the date and opponent on them as well.  So cool! 

Delicious Icee on a warm November day in Charlotte!
Overall, we had a great experience at Bank of America Stadium!  Would definitely recommend it if you are ever in town!  Stay tuned for my upcoming post on the rest of our Charlotte getaway!

Andrea :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

30 before 30 - Month Four Recap

 write letter to family or friend

I sent the letter to my best friend from college, Ashley Gail, this month.  We met my freshman year at Georgetown College.  We lived on the same floor in Knight Hall, but we met at a bible study.  I was leading the study and mentioned something about harvest time.  Ashley thought that was hilarious and the rest is history.  She is such an amazing woman and friend.  I only wish we lived closer to one another.  She is the best!

Andrea Lynn and Ashley Gail celebrating my birthday last summer :)
3 monthly goals 

1) Catch up with at least one friend each week.
Week 1 - I was able to catch up with one of my old roommates from college, Brianne.  Chris and I were actually able to meet up with her and her boyfriend, Ryan, in person later in the month.

Me and Bri at the end of a fun night in Charlotte.  Full recap to come!!

Week 2 -  Hurricane Sandy distracted me this week, but I did hear from lots of concerned friends via facebook, text, and email.

Week 3 - I gave my BIG (shout out to Phi Mu), Hayley, a call this week. I hadn't talked to her in awhile so it was great to catch up!  She is about to have a little baby boy in January.  I am looking forward to seeing her in a couple of weeks when I am down in Kentucky.

My Phi Mu Family in Spring 2002 the semester that I pledged - Hayley is in the blue next to me.

Week 4 - I caught up with another one of my old roommates from college, Maggie.  It is always great to touch base with her.  She has been a dear friend for many years now.  Hopefully, we will have a chance to meet up soon!  It has been far too long since we've seen each other in person!

Nashville - 2009

2) Get 25 followers on the blog.
Done plus some!  Yay for having 32 followers now!!  Excited to keep growing.  I have been participating in more blog hops and linkups.  I also invested in some sponsorships on other blogs and intend to start a blog facebook page at the start of the New Year.  Any other suggestions on ways to grow are welcome!

3) Sort through and recycle all my old magazines.
Done.  Felt so good to check this one off my list of things to do.

facetimes with Brinley

Facetime 1 - On Halloween, I was able to facetime with my sweet little niece.  She was a ladybug.  So cute!  She was doing all sorts of fun things that night - eating some food, taking a tubby, and playing in her little bouncer.  She is getting SO big now!!

Borrowed this from my sister-in-law's facebook page :)
Facetime 2 - I sent Brinley some little Thanksgiving treats via mail so I was able to see her mom and dad give them to her.  She seemed to like them.  She immediately put the stuffed turkey in her mouth.  Definitely a good sign, right?  I also gave her a little book.  She was so good while we facetimed.  Just looking at me and playing with her toys.  She is such a doll!  I am so excited about seeing her IN PERSON later this week!!

Date Night 

Chris and I had a fun date to the Aquarium in Coney Island planned, but Hurricane Sandy came and messed that up.  Since we missed that weekend together and went out of town on a weekend getaway to Charlotte another weekend, it didn't leave us much time for a regular date night.  I did have a chance to make us a great meal that we enjoyed during a night in catching up on tv shows via the DVR the Friday evening before our Charlotte trip.

yummy ham, sweet potatoes, and mac and cheese

We also went to see Grace on Broadway today.  It was a very interesting play.  I'll do a full review of it soon, but we really enjoyed it.  Great acting, too!

Girls' Night

I decided on Solera for our Girls Night this month.  It was good to get to catch up with Reba and Amanda.  I still didn't get a picture of us, but I did get one to represent the evening.

I marked 2 items off the list!!

 5 - don't eat at any fast food restaurants for 30 straight days (done 10.11.12 to 11.9.12)
 2 - attend football games in (at least) 2 new stadiums: 1) Ravens (9.27.12) and 2) Panthers (11.11.12)

Andrea :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have spent Thanksgiving in a variety of exciting ways over the years.  Growing up, we hosted the festivities at our house.  It was always so exciting to come home from school on that Tuesday and make all the last minute preparations for all the out of town relatives' arrival on Wednesday.  We counted down the hours until they arrived and then didn't want them to ever go back.  I will always treasure those memories - my cousin, Kenneth, and I starting the 9.5 lb club, our family Rook tournaments...complete with trophies, Earthcake, the Broom game.  I could go on and on with all the fun we had when I was younger. 

Unfortunately, I grew up. 

In college, I worked for our football team.  We were good.  Like National Champion type good.  As a result, I spend a couple Thanksgivings with huge feasts with my Tiger Football family in Georgetown, Ky.  (My immediate family was able to be there as well.)  It was a great time! 

Coach Cronin and current GC Tigers. (Photo via Georgetown College Athletics)
Then, I moved to New York....which is far from Kentucky.  It is also expensive to make back to back trips there for the holidays so much to my dismay I usually skip Thanksgiving.

My (sad) family on Thanksgiving a few years back using a Madagascar penguin as my stand-in for the family picture...haha!

Somehow...I have found a way to make the best of it. 

One year, my parents came to the city for the Macy's Day Parade. 

One year, I ran in a turkey trot.

One year, Chris and I went to the Bengals-Jets Thanksgiving night game. 

After stuffing ourselves at his parent's house in Long Island.

And this year, I worked as a monitor for the Texans-Lions game in the office.

Our pre-game feast!!

In the end, the one thing I have learned over all these Thanksgivings is that no matter where I am or who I am with, it is easy to be thankful for all of the blessings in my life!  Instead of posted one item I am thankful for each day on facebook like I did last year, I decided to keep a list of the top 30 things I am most thankful for at this point in my life and post it here today. 

I am thankful for...

1 - my relationship with the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and his saving grace!

2 - the love of my life, Christopher!  I'm not sure where I would be without him.  We are such a great team and continue to make one another better people every day.

3 - my parents.  They have been there for me from the beginning.  I couldn't have asked for a better mom or dad.

4 - my brothers.  They are two of my very best friends!  My life would be incomplete without these two awesome guys!

5 - my sister-in-law.  She makes my brother so very happy...and she has given me one of the best gifts ever in my little niece.

6 - my niece.  When I'm having a not so great day all I have to do is look at a picture of that little girl and everything seems to turn around.  She is such a joy.  I love her to pieces!

7 - my friends.  Old, new, borrowed, and true.  They are all important and very much needed.  So blessed to have such a wonderful support system both near and far!

8 - the good health of my family and friends.  And that when illness does strike (as it has with a cousin in Alabama) that we are there for each other.

9 - my apartment.  It might not be much, but it is shelter from the elements.  That is really all that matters in the end.

10 - my job.  I might get frustrated and annoyed with various aspects from time to time, but it does allow me to use my God given skills and talents and provide for myself.

11 - being debt-free.  I finally paid off my student loans this year and couldn't be more thankful for the blessing of not having to worry about monthly loan payments anymore...especially living in one of the most expensive city in the world.

12 - growing up in a small city.  Being from a small town has shaped me into the person that I am today.  That sense of community is irreplaceable.

13 - football.  Without it I wouldn't have some of my most fond memories, a job, or such a fun fall.

14 - being able to travel.  I love going new places.  Fortunately, my parents took us on many vacations when we were kids.  This sparked the flame for the love of travel that I now possess.

15 - my extended family.  Lots of wonderful aunts, uncles, and cousins! 

16 - Christopher's family.  They have accepted me exactly as I am from day one.  I am particularly thankful that they have welcomed me to their wonderful Thanksgiving feast for the past three years!

17 - being able to run.  It is nice to have a hobby that is healthy and relatively inexpensive.

18 - this blog.  I know it isn't very big, but it has been wonderful to begin to build some community with other bloggers.  Plus it is a great outlet for me.

19 - books.  Reading is truly a gateway to another world.  And has the potential to be so eye-opening.

20 - music.  It often has such a therapeutic effect for me.  And I love listening to the CD my dad made of him playing piano.  It takes me right back to my childhood.

21 - having plenty.  To be honest, there is not one single thing that I need.  Ever.  That is an amazing blessing.  I am so thankful that I have everything I need.

22 - opportunity.  I have so many options and paths that lie in front of me at this time in my life.  I am blessed to have so many opportunities even if it sometimes seems overwhelming to have to choose.

23 - my Mamaw.  Even though she has been in Heaven watching over me for several years now, I think of her so often.  She truly left a lasting impression on me.  She was and always will be my hero.

24 - choosing Georgetown College so many years ago.  My experiences during college not only set me up for my current career, but they also shaped me as a person.  I truly do bleed orange and black!

25 - a competitive spirit.  I am super competitive with my brothers, but I have also learned how to be competitive within myself over the past few years.  It is a blessing that causes you to continually challenge and improve yourself.

26 - the arts.  I am fortunate to be able to attend many movies and shows throughout the year.  These art forms serve as another way to take eye-opening adventures.  I am so thankful for the ability and means to be able to enjoy them.

27 - differences.  Life would be so very boring if we were all the same. 

28 - humor.  Sometimes all you need is a good laugh!

29 - public transportation.  I complain about it A LOT, but without it I would have a much more difficult time being able to see Christopher.

30 - being able to cook well enough to not starve.  I get frustrated when things don't turn out exactly like they should, but I do have the ability to make some tasty dishes that keep my belly full.

Hope you had a blessed day with your family and friends!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Andrea :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hibachi + Mary's 10,000th Day

This weekend I had lots going on.  It had been awhile since I had been in the city without experiencing a storm of some sort so it was fun to be out and about.

Friday, I rushed home from work to grab the train for roughly an hour commute to the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn for some hibachi fun.  My old college roomie, Brianne, and her boyfriend, Ryan, were in town to celebrate his 30th birthday!  (Ironically, Chris and I were able to meet up with them last weekend in Charlotte - where they live.  Post to come about that little weekend getaway!)

I love hibachi :)
Blurry pic of the birthday boy, but this was HYSTERICAL!
Me, Brianne, and Amanda waiting for the train!
Saturday afternoon, I finished Book #3, caught up on some tv shows via DVR (love!), and was nominated for the Liebster Award.  Thanks again to Jenni over at A Dash of Sunshine for nominating me!  I was so excited!

Saturday night, I headed out to Hoboken for my friend's 10,000th day celebration.  Super creative idea.  Awesome reason to get together for a night of fun!  Mary served us some delicious baked ziti and breadsticks along with some amazing ice cream cake :)

Sunday afternoon, I had to work in our officiating command center at the office.  I typically work the Monday or Thursday night games, but it was a terrific week to work on Sunday.  Two main reasons - 1) I was assigned to chart the Bengals-Chiefs game so I was able to watch it even if I had to resist cheering...and they won!!  2) We had a group from the Wounded Warrior Project in the office to observe so there were TONS of yummy treats on hand for the day!

Wounded Warriors introducing themselves...

Sunday evening, my friend, Amanda, and I went to see the new Twilight movie - Breaking Dawn:  Part 2.  One word - AMAZING!  Totally loved it!  They did a great job with this one.  I hadn't been too impressed with the last couple, but this one reminded me more of the first movie which is what got me hooked originally.  I usually never watch the movie before reading the book, but I honestly had no intention or desire to read the Twilight series...until I saw that first movie.  The next few movies weren't near as impressive, but this one totally blew the others out of the water.  Trust was good!  Did you see it this weekend??  Interested to hear your thoughts!

Overall, this weekend was filled with lots of fun, and I know this week will be a great one as well.  I am looking forward to just three work days, seeing Christopher for multiple days in a row (SUPER YAY!), and Thanksgiving!

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Andrea :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book #3 - Four Perfect Pebbles

A few years ago for Christmas, Dad gave each of us a copy of Four Perfect Pebbles by Lila Perl and Marion Blumenthal Lazan.  It took me a bit to get around to reading it.  However, it was a very short, but powerful read.

The story follows the Blumenthal family - Walter, Ruth, Albert, and Marion - as they attempt to escape the Jewish persecution that was taking place in Germany and the surrounding countries during Hitler's rule and the recovery time thereafter.  It is a remarkable story of perseverance and determination.  I don't want to give much away because I think that everyone should take the time to read this book, but co-author and main character Marion obviously survives.  The detail with which she describes the way of life in the concentration camps is incredible.  I literally had chills at a few different points.

As I read this book, I couldn't help but recall my visit to a concentration camp site in Dachau a few years ago.  I remember there being such an eerie feeling there.  I remember thinking about how many senseless murders occurred on the very ground that I was now walking on, how much inhumane treatment was endured by innocent people, how much evil was experienced by all.  When I was reading this story, it was almost like I could picture Marion and her family in this terrible place.  The perseverance of the people trapped in these camps was truly unreal.  To survive these camps wasn't just uncommon, it was unlikely.  For anyone to survive was a true miracle.

Entrance to Dachau...

The barracks...
Replica of the stoves....such a somber moment when we were in this section of the camp

Jewish memorial on the camp grounds - thought this one was very unique

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."  - Romans 5:1-5

Andrea :)

Sunday Stadium Review - Titans

Tennessee Titans 

Name of Stadium: LP Field
Capacity: 69,143
Game Attended: versus the Jets in November 2008
Worked a game at this stadium? Yes, PPK

Outside of LP Field from across the river.
My experience at LP Field is truly a unique one.  Not only was I working the PPK event and spent a majority of the pre-game on the field, but we (I’ll get to that part in a moment) spent the entire game sitting in a section of folding chairs on the field.  Insane, right?  

Could not believe they had our group seated on the field for the entire game - craziness!
Me and Dad during the game.
A little game action - Jets v Titans
I grew up just two hours north of Nashville so working this game around Thanksgiving was ideal.  My parents and youngest brother drove me down to the stadium for the event.  As it turned out, they were able to help me tally scores and sit in the designated section on the field since several of the participants didn’t end up showing for the event.  Pretty neat how that worked out!

My dad and brother helping me tally PPK scores.
Anyway, the main thing I remember from the game (keep in mind that being seated on the field…while it might sound exciting…really puts a damper on being able to see a game) is the mascot.  It was a raccoon which was interesting enough in itself, but he made more wardrobe changes than one would think possible in a 2.5 hour time frame.

A little blurry, but apparently the pilot of a rocket ship.
Suddenly has become a sideline photographer.
And now a pilgrim with a sidekick turkey - Happy Thanksgiving to all :)
I remember watching most of the game via the endzone video board.  Thrilling, right?

In the end, the best story of this experience belongs to my dad.  He shook hands with Brett Favre!!!   Well, sorta.  He actually shook hands with a member of the Jets personnel that had just shook hands with Brett Favre, but he couldn’t have been more excited!  Truly classic story...especially when Dad tells it :)

Who would have ever dreamed he'd wear this shade of green?
While I definitely don't feel like I got a true feel for the stadium itself, the experience was one of my better ones.  It helped that the weather was great and my family (except poor Jordan who opted not to make the trip) was able to be in on the fun.  Maybe someday I'll sit in the stands at this stadium, but until then I'll be happy to have had the folding chair field level view!

Andrea :)