Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!!

H A P P Y     E A S T E R !!!
 

Thankful that my Lord arose from the grave on that very first Easter morning!  Hope you all find a way to praise Him for all that He has done for you today...and every day!

Andrea :)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Help for Orphans!

When I saw a clothing/sheets drive for orphanages in Haiti in the church bulletin, I knew immediately this would be perfect for my monthly charity project.  The orphanages in Haiti were in need of mostly children's undergarments and sheets.  I threw in a cute fishy onesie as well though.


Ironically, about a week after I collected and donated these goodies for the drive at my church, a family friend emailed me regarding donations for a mission trip she and her daughter.  They would be traveling to El Salvador on a mission trip with Starfish Orphan Ministries at the end of the month.  (They actually leave for the trip today so feel free to follow along with their adventures here.)  I knew immediately that I wanted to donate to their cause as well.  They were looked for similar items, but I just donated some money this time.

I also thought it was ironic that I ended up going to see Annie on broadway earlier this month.  Totally resonated with me in a whole new way since I had been focusing on these two projects during the month as well.  Perspective changes everything, I suppose.

How are you helping make the world a little brighter place for those less fortunate?

Andrea :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

An Italian Weekend - Milan and Verona

Once upon a time, I studied abroad.  It was a fabulous adventure.  One that I will recap further at various points down the road, but today I want to focus on my weekend of Italian fun during that summer spent in mostly London.

A couple of my classmates and I decided we'd go to Italy for a weekend...Milan and Verona to be exact.  We flew into Milan from London.  I really wanted to try to go to Florence or Pisa or Rome, but those were all too far from Milan for a day trip so we settled on Verona.

None of us knew Italian making for a even more interesting adventure.  Melissa and I rode the tram for free because we never could figure out how to buy tickets.  We were completely astonished by the bathrooms at the restaurant.  Everything was just a little more confusing and complex.



But we did have fun touring the Duomo di Milano (Milan Cathedral).  Unfortunately, much of the exterior was covered in scaffolding while we were in town, but it was so intricate and simply amazing - inside and out.


Gorgeous stained glass window...

One other fabulous place we visited in Milan was the Sforza Castle which is now a museum.  It actually houses the Rondanini Pieta - Michelangelo's last sculpture.  (He did work on the Duomo as well.)  The museum was quite interesting with lots of ancient art and sculptures.

Sforza Castle and Michaelangelo's last sculpture

After we saw the highlights of Milan, we took a quick day trip over to Verona. The city seemed very quaint.  I really liked it a lot.  We wandered around just checking things out for awhile.  Then we tried to find the city centre to grab some lunch.  We didn't have much luck and just kept wandering and wandering...until we came upon a seemingly helpful man.  He knew just enough English for us to believe he would help direct us to the local hot spot in town.  In fact, he was so helpful that he offered to drive us there...and we obliged.  Thinking back on it now (especially after having seen Taken...and Taken 2), I can't believe we just got in his van and went along for the ride.  In the end, his very high pitched and wild opera singing did make him seem a tad bit less harmful, but still...NOT something I would do again should I ever find myself back in Verona.

Scenery of Verona during our "wanderings"...

When we finally made it to the Arena di Verona (which somewhat resembled the Colosseum), we found some yummy pizza and gelati!!  We relaxed and people watched in the square for a bit before we made our way back to the train station for Milan.

Our weekend in Italy was fun, but it definitely left me wanting to explore much, much more of Italy.  A few years down the road, I would find myself in Rome (which I'll recap soon!) falling even more in love with this fabulous country.  Italy is truly the ideal vacation spot if you want to relax.

Have you been to Italy?  Which city is your favorite?

Linking up with Helene for Travel Tuesdays!
Helene in Between

Andrea :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fun in Houston


This weekend, I was on a business trip to Houston, Texas for our first leadership program of the year.

I was on a way too early in the morning flight which required me to get up before 5am.  No bueno!  Needless to say, I slept the entire 3.5 hours to Houston.  We hit the ground running as soon as we landed with meetings at the food bank, with the Guard, and at the Texans facility.  We did manage to sneak a lunch at Jack-in-the-Box in there somehow though.


After our meetings ended, we went on a mission to find a cupcake shop.  We stopped in Tiff's Treats to ask if they knew the best spot. Cookies looked yummy!


Their suggestion was right on the money - Crave Cupcakes.  These might possibly have been the best cupcakes I have EVER tasted.  And I have tasted a lot of cupcakes!  The cake was extremely moist and so yummy that the frosting wasn't even a major factor in taste.  The frosting was also minimal which was nice.  I got a hummingbird and a strawberry.  The hummingbird cake was filled with tiny chunks of pineapple, pecans, and banana with a sweet cream cheese icing.  The strawberry cake had little pieces of strawberry baked into it with strawberry frosting.  Both were absolutely delicious down to the last bite!


Friday evening, a small group of us headed out to Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen for dinner.  There was a pretty long wait, but it was most definitely worth it!!  The food was amazing!  And I was able to try crawfish for the first time.  What a crazy process for such little reward!  It was pretty tasty though. Glad I branched out and gave it a try!  I was also pretty bold with my main course selection going with redfish and dirty rice.  Proved to be a little more spicy than my taste buds appreciated, but it was good.


Bright and early Saturday morning, we headed over to Reliant Stadium for our leadership program.  It was a great event that was well received by the kids participating and our sponsor.  Win-win!  The program has three main sessions - character development presentation, leadership competitions with the Guard, and community service project.

Registration and Dr. Irving Fryer speaking on character development

Team-building and leadership driven activities with the Guard

Volunteering to provide nearly 6,000 meals for the Houston Food Bank's Backpack Buddy program

The event ended around 4pm which left us just enough time to hit up Chick-fil-a before heading to the airport for our 7pm flight back to NYC!!  YUM!!


I spent most of Sunday relaxing!  I did manage to file my taxes, but mostly just rested up for the week ahead!  We have another leadership program in Cleveland on Friday so it will be a short, but busy week!!

How was your weekend?

Andrea :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

30 before 30 - Month Eight Recap

write letter to family or friend


This month I sent a note to a family friend, Edna.  She is a bit like an aunt to me though we aren't technically related.  She is one of the funniest people I know.  Always full of hilarious stories and adventures.  Hopefully, my note brought her a little cheer this time!  The pictures above are from when she and her daughter visited me in the NYC last summer.  We had some yummy pinkberry and Baked by Melissa cupcakes and hung out at highline park one afternoon.  It was a blast!

3 monthly goals

1) Finish Year 2 scrapbook.
99% done.  I have a couple of handwritten items to insert, but I need Chris for those. After inserting those it will be 100% done.  Yay!!

2) Start (and stick with) my read through the Bible in 90 days.
I am reading through the Bible...about halfway through Numbers now.  I am a bit off track with the 90 day plan, but I am hoping to eventually catch up to it.  Regardless, I have every intention of following through with reading it even if it takes me a little longer than 90 days.

3) Go to a Broadway show.
Done. I went to see Annie with my friend, Bukola.  It was a lot of fun.  Check out my post about it here.

facetimes with Brinley

 Our first facetime this month involved the whole family.  My brother and sister-in-law took turns showing me how Brinley can walk with you holding her hands and helping her.  She was still getting her legs under her, but it won't be long until she takes off.  She is such a cutie and loves laughing and squealing.  She is so happy....and just adorable!  Wish I was going to be seeing her in person soon, but I still have quite a few weeks :(

Having a little fun with raspberries :)
We facetimed again later in the month.  She was just finishing up some yummy carrots.  I watched her try to eat a slice of a small tangerine.  She was loving it!  Eventually, she finished up there and was able to play for a bit.  She was really crawling around and getting into everything.  It was particularly fun when she would get distracted by the phone and come crawling (and giggling) toward me.  I can't wait to see her again in person.  May can't get here soon enough!!  She is an absolute doll!!

Date Night

Chris and I weren't able to spend too much time together this month due to our work schedules, but we did have one fun date night in there.  I recapped it as a part of this post.  It was fun to try out a new spot and spend some quality time together in the midst of all the busyness lately.

Girls' Night

I did have a girls' night out for dinner this past month.  It wasn't the regular crew, but it was a lot of fun.  We went to a thai restaurant called Room Service in Hell's Kitchen.  I didn't get any pictures of the group - me, Mary, Reba, and Hollie, but I did snag a few of the food!  I had the pineapple fried rice...DELISH!!


I marked 1 item off the list!!

28 - try (at least) 6 new foods: 1) meatloaf (liked it) 2) asparagus and artichoke ricotta ravioli (liked it) 3) homemade cranberry sauce (it was ok) 4) salad (just can't do lettuce...boo!) 5) split pea soup (didn't like it) 6) white pizza (didn't like it at all)

Andrea :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NAIA CHAMPS!!!

WE ARE GEORGETOWN!!!!


I could not have been more excited that my college won the NAIA basketball championship last night...and I got to watch on TV!!  That, my friends, is HUGE!!!  You see, I'm not sure I have ever seen Georgetown College play on TV.  Unfortunately, it just doesn't happen when you aren't one of those bully NCAA schools that hog the spotlight...particularly in KY!!  So I was pumped to be able to cheer on my beloved Tigers as they crushed their opponent to bring back the trophy last night!!  Anyone that knows me, knows that I bleed orange and black.  And could not be a more proud Tiger today...and always!!

In honor of the win....well, I guess it was technically just good timing...check out this awesome giveaway that I am participating in as one of Allie's sponsors this month!!  I wish I could win!!!

Here's the info from Allie....
I'm extra excited about today. Not only is today the start of the March sponsor's giveaway, but I've thrown in some extra goodies to celebrate my birthday, a few of my favorite things, if  you will.

First, let me introduce you to the sixteen lovely ladies who are helping make this giveaway possible.


Brin // Jenn // Ricci // Allison
Mason // Brooke // Rebekah // Jen
Meighan // Savanah // Tarole // Meghan
Katie // Frances // Andrea // Ashlee

Now that you know all of those pretties, 
let me show you what you could win.


Now. Who wants to win?

Enter below via Rafflecopter.
All entries will be verified.
US residents only.
One winner takes all.

Good luck!

 
Andrea :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Berlin, Germany

After spending some time in Sevilla, I finished out the long weekend by flying to Berlin for a day via Ryan Air.  I was all alone.  I didn't know German.  But, I did have a plan.  I could go straight from the airport via train to my hostel.  And then, halfway there, the train broke down.  Everyone was evacuated from the train and service was discontinued until further notice....or so I gathered in my limited knowledge of the language.  What's a girl to do??  I followed the crowd to a nearby bus terminal.  I was a little too scared to try a bus since I had limited ability to communicate and wasn't all that clear about where I was exactly at the moment.  I opted for a cab.  I hadn't planned on the high fare, but in my circumstances, it seemed like the best option.  And I safely arrived at my hostel just in time for the afternoon walking tour of the city!  Perfect timing!

Clockwise - hostel; Mandy, a new friend I met on the walking tour; my unprepared and tired feet at the end of the tour
Our first stop was Berlin's Museumsinsel (Museum Island) with lots of nice historic buildings.

Clockwise: Berlin Cathedral, Deutscher Dom, Kathe Kollwitz sculpture in Neue Wache, Altes Museum
We didn't have a chance to spend much time there, but I was able to see a few things and soak up a lot of information.  First, we heard an interesting story at the Berlin Cathedral. The gold cross topper (pictured in the foreground) had not yet been placed on the top of the Dome.  Our tour guide indicated it was for lack of funding.  In the meantime, it just sat out in front of the Cathedral.  Next, we headed over to the Gendarmenmarkt.  There is a marble statue of Friedrich Schiller in the center of the square.  After seeing a handful of historic Cathedrals, we were able to visit the interior of the Neue Wache to view the K├Ąthe Kollwitz sculpture Mother with her Dead Son - a World War II war memorial. There is a hole directly above the statue that allows snow, rain, and sunshine to pour down on the statue.  Finally, we came to Altes Museum.  You can tell that the columns are patched together with a couple different colors.  This was due to damage during WWII according to our guide.

From Museum Island, we made our way to Checkpoint Charlie.  This was an interesting experience.  I can't imagine what life must have been like back during its active use.

Left: Berlin Wall; Top Right: tip top of the Reichstag Building; Bottom Right: Brandenburg Gate
Our next stop was the most anticipated of the entire day for me - the Berlin Wall!  I had always wanted to check it out in person.  While it wasn't quite as impressive as I had imagined, it was neat to be able to take a few minutes to reflect on why the wall was even there in the first place.  Lots of history on this walking tour!!   

Top: Hilter's Bunker; Bottom: Holocaust Memorial
Our tour ended nearby the Holocaust Memorial.  We were able to see the area of land above the Fuherbunker where Hilter spent his last few months.  This was nearby the Brandenburg Gate as well.

After the tour, Mandy and I had dinner at a nearby pub and walked back to the hostel.  It had been an interesting, but long day for me.  I would have enjoyed checking out the Olympiastadion, but unfortunately I had to head back to the States the next morning.  Guess I'll have to check that out next time :)

Do you enjoy walking tours when you travel to new cities?

Linking up with Helene for Travel Tuesdays!
Helene in Between

Andrea :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

As I mentioned on Friday, I have been celebrating St. Patrick's Day for a couple weeks now thanks to a fun package my parents sent me.  It had all sorts of fun stuff in it, but the coolest thing was a batch of green peanut brittle.  What a fun treat :)


And earlier this week, I stopped into Baked by Melissa to try the cupcake of the month - Caramel Apple.   It is green apple cake with caramel icing and green sugar crystal topping. Not one of my favorites, but still pretty tasty.


Finally, I snagged these green peeps in honor of my fellow Irish folk today!  Looking forward to digging into that sugary goodness!!


I have plans to watch my friend run the NYC Half (boo for me not being picked in the lottery this year) this morning. And then off to church.  I'm sure I'll manage to work in a Shamrock Shake at some point today though!

How are you celebrating St. Patty's Day?

 Andrea :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Weekly Recap

Today I am linking up with the fabulous Allie, Jenn, and Ricci for Weekly What?

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Hopefully, you caught everything, but just in case here's a recap from my week in blogging! You can find all the links to my posts by clicking on the day of the week above each recap!


Today, I linked up with Sar and Syndal to recap my weekend!  See what I thought about the new movie, Oz, in this post.


For Travel Tuesdays with Helene, I told you all about my way too short trip to Sevilla, Spain.


I went to see Annie on Broadway last week.  Check out my thoughts on the show in this post.


I shared with you my new spot for that sweet tooth of mine - Cake Boss NYC!!  Check out all the yummy treats I tried!!


This was the perfect Friday for some letters so I linked up with Ashley and wrote a few.

That brings us to SATURDAY!!  And here I am...recapping my week for you lovely folks! 

Hope you all have a great weekend!!

Andrea :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Letters

Photobucket

Dear Weekend -
Thank you for arriving.  That is all.  Just thank you!

Dear Weather -
Could you pretty please with a cherry on top turn to spring?  I'm begging!!!

Dear St. Patrick's Day -
Even though I've been celebrating you for a couple weeks now thanks to a little package my parents sent, I can't wait for you to officially arrive on Sunday!  I'll be sure to wear green for you!


Dear Christopher -
These next couple of weeks will be rough, but I am looking forward to all of our upcoming plans.  We'll make up for these few weeks then.  I love you!! :)

Dear Body -
I don't think you got the memo that I don't turn 30 until this summer.  You are already breaking down on me.  First, issues with my vision....now my shoulder.  Are you trying to frustrate me?  Cause it is working...

Dear Brinley -
I booked my flight for your birthday this week.  I am OH SO excited to see you again.  You are doing all kinds of new things.  I have hated missing out on all the fun these past few months.  I am well overdue for some auntie loving!!  I'm counting down the days little girl!


Dear Family -
I am excited to see you guys, too!  Just not quite as excited as I am to see little Miss. I think you understand.

Dear Readers -
I'm hoping that you already follow me on Bloglovin'.  If you don't, please take this as a welcome invitation to do so.  I would be more than happy to have you following along there!

Follow on Bloglovin

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!

Andrea :)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cake Boss in NYC!


I was so excited to see that a Cake Boss Cafe had opened up near my apartment!  I had heard lots of good things about Carlo's Bakery in New Jersey, but had never made it out there.  Now, I doubt I ever will.


The cafe had SO many delicious goodies from cakes to cookies to cupcakes to cheesecakes to anything you could imagine that I had a very difficult time deciding what to order.  You know I got a cupcake though!!


I decided on a carrot cake cupcake, a marzipan watermelon slice, and a cannoli.  Don't worry...I didn't eat them all at once.  I spread that delicious goodness over several days :)  To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the cupcake.  The icing proved to be a bit too thick for my taste.  The carrot cake was very good though - quite moist!  I was more intrigued by the marzipan than anything else, but it was pretty tasty in the end.  The cannoli was DELICIOUS!!  Definitely worth the calories on that one!!


Looking forward to pointing all my visitors in the direction of this new beauty when they visit the city.  Great atmosphere and some super yummy treats!

Andrea :)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Annie!

I have really been itching to see a broadway show.  I was finally able to see one when my friend, Bukola, and I went to see Annie last week.  The show was great!  It had been awhile years since I had seen the movie so I had even forgotten a few parts here and there which made it even more fun to watch.  And, of course, you can't go wrong with a bunch of cute little girls running around and singing, right?

Bottom: Clotheslines strung out across the stage for the opening number.

I'm sure most of you know the story, but it begins with Annie and her friends in an orphanage with mean ol' Miss Hannigan.  Annie runs away, but is eventually caught and returned.  Then she is luckily chosen to go stay at the Warbucks mansion for the Christmas holidays. Though resistant at first, Warbucks eventually comes to really love fiesty little Annie like one of his own.  As he attempts to move forward with adopting her, she tells him that she already has parents who love her.  He goes on a nationwide search for her birth parents, but only finds money hungry fakes.  There is a glimmer of hope with one conniving couple, but they are proved liars and Annie makes her home with the Warbucks after all.  It is a really touching show.  Made me realize how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful and supportive family.  I know that not all little girls are so lucky.


After the show, we grabbed dinner at one of my favorites - The Counter!  It was as delicious as ever!!  The fried pickles really hit the spot, but the whole meal was scrumptious!!  It was great to spend some time catching up with Bukola as well!

Have you seen any shows lately?

Andrea :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sevilla, Spain

Back in 2008 (gee, that seems like so long ago), I was sent on a work trip to Sevilla, Spain.  For a meeting.  For roughly 30 hours.  The work part of the trip was exhausting.  I mean, how exactly did they expect me to stay awake for hours of meetings when I just flew across the Atlantic?  Fortunately, I made a weekend out of it and spent an extra day in Sevilla before heading over to Berlin for a day (more on that another week though).


We actually connected in Madrid so when we finally made it to our hotel in Sevilla, I was more than ready to check things out.  We arrived in the late afternoon so I looked around the hotel before I headed to check out the nearby area.  I was so surprised to see palm trees.  It was July...and I knew it would be scorching hot, but I just never imagined palm trees.  The hotel was nice.  And I found a great little tapas bar nearby with lively music.


It didn't take long for the jet lag to kick in so I headed in for an early night since our meeting was set for the next day.  The meeting took most of the day, but I was free to explore a little more in the late afternoon.  I wandered around looking in neat shops, stopped in a few churches, and eventually made my way to Seville Cathedral.  It was amazing!  So many intricate details throughout the whole place.  I spent at least a couple of hours there.  So beautiful!!

Bottom Left: Proof I was there...posing in front of the bell tower

I headed off to London late that night for my connection to Berlin.  The main thing I remember about Sevilla was the heat!  It was SO hot there!!  And unfortunately, my time there was very short.  Definitely interested in going back to some of the other cities in Spain at some point.  Maybe during winter though :)

Flowers in hotel; Airport; Quick meal before leaving (everything else was closed); Painting on the wall of a building

Have you been to Spain?  What city would you recommend visiting?

Linking up with Helene for Travel Tuesdays!
Helene in Between

Andrea :)