Thursday, January 31, 2013

Brigance Brigade

As I mentioned when I set my goals for 2013 here, I wanted to expand on an idea my Dad had and our family implemented at Christmas this past year.  I decided to choose a different charity to donate to each month.  This month, I decided to donate money to Brigance Brigade. This wasn't my original plan, but after seeing first hand the inspiration that OJ is to so many people at AFC Championship, my decision was made.  What a first class guy.  Truly incredible story.

Headed to the field at AFC Championship.  Photo by Google Images.
For those of you that don't know, OJ Brigance began his pro football career with the CFL in 1991. He played in the CFL for five seasons eventually helping his team win the Grey Cup.  The following year, 1996, he signed with the Miami Dolphins where he played four NFL seasons.  In 1999, he was honored with the Ed Block Courage Award and was named the NFL Player Association's "Unsung Hero".  He played for the Baltimore Ravens in 2000. As a key member of their special teams unit, he led them to a Super Bowl XXXV victory.  He continued to play two more seasons with the St. Louis Rams before he retired.  He is currently the Senior Advisor to Player Development for the Baltimore Ravens serving as a motivator and inspiration to all.

Photo by Google Images

Photo by Google Images
Unfortunately, OJ Brigance was diagnosed with ALS in May 2007.  The disease is also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.  Basically, your brain stops communicating with your body causing your body to slowly shut down completely.  It is truly tragic because there currently isn't any cure or preventitive measures that can be taken when the disease is diagnosed.  Hopefully, continued research will change these facts in the future.

Photo by Google Images.

OJ and his wife, Chanda.  Photo by Google Images.

Andrea :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Linking up with Lauren and Tiffany for Tuesday Topics....
The Austin Family Diary
I have so many great memories!  SO many.  I'll try to whittle it down to six for you! 

*Due to my picture availability, I kept it to 2006 and beyond. I have many fun memories of my childhood - being upset when I found out my baby brother was going to be a brother instead of a sister, spending time listening to my Mamaw's stories, fun times with Us Four Girls at Buck Creek Baptist Church, Georgetown College Football, and OH SO MANY more.* 

Without further ado, six of my most recent memories. I think I have them in chronological order.

1. Spending the summer of 2006 "studying" sports management in London as a part of my master's program. This experience ranks right up there on the list of best decisions I ever made.  We had so much fun!  Not only was it my first international trip, but I didn't know a soul there when I landed.  By the time I left, I had made great friends and fun memories!  I was able to attend Wimbledon, the British Open, and the Tour de France.  I celebrated by 23rd birthday under the Eiffle Tower.  I visited Milan and Verona.  I had the time of my life.  I recommend traveling abroad in college to ANYONE that is able to do so.  You won't regret it!

With my flatmates Angela and Marissa
At Avenue Q with Brian and Melissa
2. I'll never forget the experience of working my 1st Super Bowl.  It was SB XLIV in South Florida in February 2010.  My brothers were able to come as my guests.  It was awesome to get to treat them to this grand event.  We had a lot of fun that weekend.  I don't think they'll ever forget it either.  Check out my post here about my experience working my first two Super Bowls.  Mom and Dad got to come the next year in North Texas.  And check out the post here about Christopher's first Super Bowl experience in Indianapolis last year.  Stay tuned for my post recapping all the New Orleans fun this year.  I've been here since Saturday and it is definitely a fun city for Super Bowl!  Can't wait for Christopher and Bubsa to get here tomorrow!!

Traditional Roman Numeral Pic
During the game I was able to meet up with them at their seats.
I am dead center of the photo.  Working pre-game with the Super Kid.
3. Meeting Christopher. We met the spring of 2010.  We have had so many adventures and fun times together in the past three years. You've read about a lot of them over the past year on the blog, but below are some pictures from the beginning.

Our first picture was at one's of Chris' friends wedding in July 2010.
US soccer friendly in August 2010
One of my favorite pics of us - checking out covered bridges in the fall of 2010.
Chris' first visit to Kentucky in December 2010.  We are at the state capitol building.
4. Our family accomplishing our goal of visiting all 50 states together!!  We have made hundreds of memories on these trips.  I hope to highlight these trips on the blog soon, but the last two we visited were Hawaii (in January 2010) and Alaska (in August 2010).  Couldn't ask for a better family!!

We finally made it to all 50 states!! YAY!!!
5. Completing my first half marathon with my brothers in September 2010.  I recently posted about this experience so check it out here if you haven't already.
So proud of us :)
6. I don't think I have ever been so excited to meet someone in my whole entire life.  Holding Brinley for the 1st time will have a special place in my heart forever.  Check out these posts for my reflections on these moments at the time - when she was born, meeting her for the first time a couple weeks later, and the rest of that fun Memorial Day weekend.

The first time I held her in my arms.  She is perfect!!
More recent picture of my beautiful little crawling niece :)

What are some of your favorite memories??

Andrea :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Stadium Review - Jets

New York Jets 
*I have attended games at two different stadiums for the Jets.*

Name of Stadium: Giants Stadium/The Meadowlands AND MetLife Stadium/The New Meadowlands
Capacity: 80,242 AND 82,566
Game Attended: At the old stadium, I worked every home game but one in 2007 with my family attending the last game of that season.  I also attended the last Jets game (versus Bengals) in the old stadium with my friend, Reba, at the end of the 2009 season.  I have attended a couple of Jets games with Christopher in the new stadium - Thanksgiving 2010 (versus Bengals) as well as a game versus the Jaguars in 2011.
Worked a game at this stadium? Yes, I worked pre-game and at halftime of nearly every game in 2007.  I have never worked at the new stadium.
The Meadowlands/Giants Stadium - Jets style :)
When I first moved to NYC way back in 2007, I didn't have a job.  You can read a little more about that here.  Fortunately, I did have some connections and an opportunity to work game day for the Jets popped up while I was looking for full time employment.  Not a bad gig...although I can't say I made much profit by the time I trudged all the way out to New Jersey!  Anyway, this opportunity permited me to work all but one of the Jets home games that year.  I started out working with the pre-game and halftime crew.  We made sure all the fun and interactive gadgets were set up in the bubble (pictured to the right in the above photo) for pre-game fun and that the halftime sponsor signage was properly placed for optimal viewing.  Nothing glamourous, but definitely fun!  Once I snagged the full-time position at the NFL headquarters in mid-September, they moved me to the green room to greet and entertain anthem performers and celebrities. 

Green Room circa 2007

We had Boyz to Men (so nice and considerate) and Jennifer Hudson (super high maintenance) in to perform the anthem.  Dan Rather, Eddie Kaye Thomas (AKA Finch from the American Pie movies), and Joe Namath were among the celebrities that I recall hosting in the green room pre-game.  This was a fun job, but it was really hard to not be super excited about being in the same somewhat small space with these people!

My family came to NYC for the holidays that year and managed to catch the last Jets game of the season.  It was super cold so we had some fun with the "hot cups" sold by vendors.  In my best New York accent, "Get your hot cup, here!"  Maybe you just had to be there!

Mom and Dad....
Jordan and Jen...
Little Bubsa...too funny!!
As far as the stadium, I thought it was pretty easy to get around.  I wasn't in the stands too much back then, but the field level was easy to navigate.  I was a true spectator there a few times...thanks to my friend, Reba!  Yes, the same girl that made me peanut butter from scratch can kick it at the football game...gotta love that in a friend!!  (PS - If you haven't already, go check her out at Not So Perfect Life.)  Her boss had great seats in the lower level and from time to time we were able to go.  Awesome, right?  She tried to bring me along when the Bengals were playing which was awesome. 

View of interior from field level
Great view of the inside of the old stadium
Fun Fact #1: Reba and I were able to attend the last game ever played in the old Giants Stadium.

Fun Fact #2: The last game ever played in the old Giants Stadium was a Jets game.

Fun Fact #3: Chris was also in attendance at that game.  We didn't meet until that April, but we were both there on that FREEZING cold January night when the Jets defeated the Bengals to earn their way into the playoffs. 

Fun Fact #4: Chris and I watched a recording of the wild card Jets-Bengals game on our second date.  Yes, they played each other two weeks in a row.  And yes, I wasn't watching the playoff game...but for a good reason - I was swimming with dolphins in Hawaii when it aired originally.  Luckily, Chris was able to help me watch the Jets beat my Bengals once again!  That's true love folks!  Haha :)

Now, let's talk about the new stadium.  As I mentioned in my Giants review a few weeks ago, I'm not really a fan.  There is something about the way it is designed that just doesn't appeal to me. I also haven't ever really noticed a difference in the fan base between Giants and Jets games.  Both are extremely proud and can be overwhelmingly harsh, but hey, that's New York.  If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere!  I've been to three Jets games at MetLife.  Two regular season and one in a monsoon during the preseason...all with Chris.  I was in the nosebleeds for one of those games.  Way too steep.  The pictures say it all.

Pretty much eye level with the sun....super high up in the air!!
The other two times we were in the lower bowl (again, big thanks to Reba's former boss!!).  We were excited about the pre-season game because it would be warm and nice out.  We didn't count on a monsoon hitting just before kickoff.  We didn't stay long, but I managed to get a picture of us in the concourse trying to wait out the rain! 

Luckily, we were able to see our two teams play in the regular season as well.  It was much more dry, but a lot colder on this lovely Thanksgiving night in 2010.  It was a lot of fun because it was the first time since we had begun dating that our teams were playing one least when it counted for something.  We really enjoyed the game! 

This one shows a really good view of all three levels of the stadium.

Thanksgiving 2010
I hope you have enjoyed my Sunday Stadium Reviews.  I wanted to record these experience since they were all a part of my bucket list item of attending a home game at each of the NFL stadiums.  I have 11 remaining stadiums to attend.  I'll review those as I attend more games in the future.  For now, hop over to my Bucket List tab to check out all of the reviews. 

Andrea :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Homemade Peanut Butter

Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter
I only wish I could tell you that I made the most delicious peanut butter ever!  But instead I received it as a gift from one of my best friends in the city - Reba!!  She blogs all about her adventures in cooking/baking and running over at Not So Perfect Life.

If you want to find out how to make this delicious goodness, head over to her blog here for the recipe!  I just wanted to show you a few ways that I enjoyed this yummy treat!!  It was a little sweeter than normal peanut butter (which I loved!) and had tasty raisins mixed throughout.  I seriously could have eaten it for every meal.  Delicious!!

This was my favorite way!  So tasty on apples!!
I love eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  The raisins in the peanut butter made this treat even better!
Another way I tried it was on a bagel.  Very good!!

Do you eat peanut butter in any non-traditional ways?

 Andrea :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

30 before 30 - Month Six Recap

Happy 1/2 Birthday to Me!! 

Only 6 more months left in my 20's...holy moly!!

write letter to family or friend

I sent a note to one of my closest friends in NYC, Mary.  We have known one another from nearly Day One in NYC....which means 5+ years of friendship now!  Wow!  Anyway, she just passed her final exam to become an actuary.  I am so excited for her!  I know it hasn't been easy, but she stuck with it and got it done.  Yay for her!

A couple of fun pictures of us.  At Mary's wedding in 2010 and then in Paris in 2011 where she and her husband lived for their first year of their marriage.  What a way to start things off,  right? :)

3 monthly goals 

1) Finish 5 pages in Year Two scrapbook.
I actually somehow got 6 pages finished in the Year Two scrapbook.  Don't ask me how cause I feel like I haven't been home for nearly the whole month!  Looking forward to getting more done once I am back from Super Bowl.

2) Watch over 1/2 of the Best Picture Nominated films.
Yay for knocking this one out of the park!  I only have one left to see.  Chris and I have plans to see it (Zero Dark Thirty) when we get back from Super Bowl.

3) Host a Giveaway.
Done on my one year blogiversary.  Also, I was celebrating 50+ followers...and now there are more than 100 of you reading and following along.  WOW!!  So exciting!

facetimes with Brinley

I was able to facetime with Brinley on her 8 month birthday at the beginning of the month.  She was pretty calm and quiet.  She was eating some cheerios.  It was fun to see her for a little bit even if she wasn't too active :)

My brother texted me this pic saying, "Brinley is sad she missed your FaceTime call."
I was able to use my new Christmas present from Chris (yay for getting an iPad Mini!) to facetime with Brinley while I was in Providence for Championship.  She was doing a lot of moving and bouncing and trying to get me through the phone.  It was fun to see her.  She is getting to be such a big girl.

Date Night 

Chris and I went to dinner at one of our favorite east side restaurants, Benjamin's, when I returned from Championship.  It was great to see each other after a couple straight weeks of just phone calls.  Dinner was delicious, but the company was the best part.  

Girls' Night

Girls Night took place in early January before I headed off to NFL playoff oblivion and Reba and Amanda headed to Disney for the Goofy Challenge.  We went to Apotheke.  Amanda and I thought we never were going to find the spot and shared a hilarious and relieved moment just outside the entrance.  To be fair, it is kind of tucked away in a winding and pretty dark alley.  But, it was a total gem!  We all loved the place and had a great time catching up with one another there.  I would definitely recommend it.

I had the Corazon de Fuego...served warm!  So tasty!

*I am close to marking a couple items off the list, but a good portion of them are in continual progress so at the halfway point I feel good about things!!  Check out my full list here.*

Andrea :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I love a good Broadway show. Grace did not disappoint!  Not only did it have an amazing cast - hello, Paul Rudd!! - but it was also a very unique and interesting story.

The show was a limited engagement so it isn't on Broadway any longer, but stop reading here if you think you might ever be able to see it!  The play began with a double murder suicide. Definitely didn't see that one coming!!  I thought the show was going to be about a fun loving couple that came into some money and decided to start a Bible themed hotel chain. That was what I gathered from the description online.  You can imagine my shock when things began as they did. I knew I was in for an interesting show. After the opening scene, the characters took you back in time a few months where the story played out eventually leading up to that eventful opening scene.  There were lots of interesting twists and turns. The play clearly showed grace in action through the perspective of the giver of that grace and the recipient of that grace. Unfortunately, this was taking place between the wife (Kate Arrington) and neighbor (Michael Shannon). Enter angry husband (Paul Rudd)...with a gun.  Ed Asner (the exterminator) provided both comic relief and compelling graciousness as well. Each character was very intriguing and left you wanting to know just a little bit more about their story.  Each actor was fabulous!  Chris and I both really enjoyed the show. Very well written and performed.

After the show, I like to stick around and try to meet the performers. To be honest, many of the high profile stars are whisked away before you can barely get a good look at them, but these four all stuck around and mingled with the crowd. Such nice people...especially since it was a rather cold November day!!

 My playbill with everyone's autograph! I was so excited that I was able to get them all!

Overall, Grace was thought provoking and intriguing with a touch of humor and very relatable characters. Great show!

Andrea :)