Monday, June 30, 2014

Mini of the Month: June

This month Baked by Melissa totally surprised me.  I am not a chocolate cake fan so naturally I expected I would not be a fan of the June Mini of the Month.  I could not have been more wrong!

Ingredients: Chocolate Cake, Graham Cracker Cream Stuffing, Caramel Icing, & Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Topping

The chocolate pretzel cupcake was delicious!  It had just the right amount of both sweet and salty.  So yummy!!  Chris and I were both pleasantly surprised by how much we liked this little treat.  I think the crunchiness of the pretzel really added something to the overall experience as well.  We liked this one so much we went back for a second one later in the month!

When it comes to cupcakes, do you prefer salty, sweet, or both?

Andrea :)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Runners Tell All: My Favorite Running Moment

Excited to be linking up with Amanda and Beka again this month for Runners Tell All. 

I've had many great running memories over the past few years.  I'm not sure anything I've done or accomplished so far can top running my first half marathon with my brothers.

At this point in life, we were all living in different cities, but it was fun to call one another and talk about training strategies.  We only had one opportunity to go on a training run together.  It proved to be a memorable one on the top deck of our Alaskan cruise ship.  It definitely prepared us for our big run in the Windy City about a month later.

Even though we didn't run the race together as I had imagined that we would, we all ended up at the same finish line.  And we were all equally exhausted and proud...of ourselves and of one another!

These two are not only my brothers, but also my best friends.  It meant the world to me that they branched out of their comfort zone to run this race with me!  I'll never forget this hot and sticky September day when the three best siblings that anyone could have conquered the Chicago Half!

What is your favorite running moment?

Andrea :)

Thursday, June 12, 2014


It begins today!  Our US team won't be in action until Monday evening, but the 2014 World Cup begins now... 

Back on June 1, Chris and I were able to attend the US-Turkey send off series game at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.  It was a lot of fun to watch the US team in action with all the craziness and excitement of the crowd in full force!
I must admit I was a bit angry that Klinsmann pulled my absolute favorite US player from goal after the half.  Especially since the goal closest to our section was set to be the one the US defended in the second half, but I tried to move on and enjoy the friendly even though I was NOT happy with the decision.

Timmy Howard has been my favorite since Day One.  Well, since Day One of Chris getting me interested in soccer the last time this incredible World Cup event took over our lives in 2010.  I even selected Everton as my English Premier League team because of my preference for Mr. US Goalkeeper.

I have a couple of others I enjoy watching, but I will definitely shed a tear when Timmy is no longer in goal for the US.  My second fave on the US team is Michael Bradley.  He is a beast out there!  Hustles like none other.  I love watching him play!  I'm convinced he will have a great tournament this year.  I certainly have high hopes for him...and this team!
I know there has been a lot of negative talk surrounding the US team's chances given their group draw, but I am choosing to remain hopeful.  Chris and I have been watching the ESPN series "Inside: US Soccer's March to Brazil" the past few weeks.  It has painted an interesting picture of the team for me.  I have very much enjoyed watching and seeing this team behind the scenes.  I am looking forward to watching them play over the next few weeks.

And as the American Outlaws claim, "I believe that we will win!"  I hope that you do, too!!

USA!!!  USA!!! USA!!!

Andrea :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Trusting on the Almighty!

I'm in Chicago on a weekend business trip when my mom calls to ask what I'm doing on Monday night.  That may not seem odd to most, but since my mom and I live almost a thousand miles apart, I was quite confused.  Was something wrong?  Was she planning to unexpectedly be in NYC on Monday?  Was it an important date that I was somehow forgetting?  Nope.  Not at all.  She had simply used the modern wonder of Facebook to land me tickets to a concert at Carnegie Hall.

The Florida Worship Choir and Orchestra was in town.  And three faces from home were a part of the choir.  One being fabulous soloist, Lindsey Graham!  Please check out more about her ministry here!

Chris and I weren't sure what to expect when we showed up at Carnagie Hall on that Monday night, but we were in for a real treat.  As it turns out, we were exactly where we were meant to be that night.  It had been a rough day for me, and this performance and message just seemed to put everything into perspective.  God truly is amazing...and he'll put you in the right place at the right time as long as you are willing to go.

One of the last songs of the evening really spoke to me.  It included the following chorus:

No matter the storms that come my way,
No matter the trials I may face,
You promise that you will see me through
So I will trust in you.

I am so thankful that Mom left that message on a photo the Grahams had posted to Facebook letting them know I lived nearby their photo spot.  The concert and message proved to be a huge blessing to me.  I am always amazed by the way that God finds a way to speak to His children...IF they will only listen.

Not only was the concert wonderful, but Chris and I also had a chance to visit with Lindsey, Pixie, and Greg for an hour or so after the show.  Great to catch up with some familiar faces from my youth in Kentucky.  And thank you to them for passing along the secret code for tickets :)  We very much enjoyed the experience!

Andrea :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Race Recap: Healthy Kidney UAE 10k

The Healthy Kidney UAE 10k holds a special place in my heart!  I personally know a handful of individuals that have experienced major kidney issues so running this race is particularly meaningful to me.  This year, I decided to give one dollar to The National Kidney Foundation for every minute I was on the course!

Unfortunately, this race didn't start off too great for me.  I got to the start plenty early, but convinced myself there wasn't time for one last bathroom stop.  As you might guess, this proved to be a mistake.  That became certain at the end of mile one.  I suffered through another mile, but had to stop for roughly 5 minutes (yes, I timed it) to wait in line for the port-o-potties.  Not fun.  I never quite managed to get back into the run.  And it had suddenly become SO hot and humid.  Seriously, I was just one sticky mess by the time I saw Christopher around the mile five marker.  I wanted to quit, but I reminded myself of the reason for the run and pushed to the finish.

I thought I had the most terrible run of my life when I finally made it to the finish line.  You can imagine my surprise when I checked NYRR online results a couple hours later and discovered that I finished with a total time of 1:21:32 at 13:08 minute miles.  Not great for me, but I've definitely done worse!  Overall, I was pleased with the time given way I felt for all 6.2 miles of this one!

Andrea :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Somewhat Disappointing Belmont

We had high hopes we'd witness the first Triple Crown winner in our lifetime.  Those hopes were enough to keep us from being out of our mind insane on the beyond crowded LIRR train we took to the track.  We were annoyed by the immature college kids for sure, but we were on our way to watching history be made.

There were just over 102,000 in attendance.  And I think 100,000 of them came on the LIRR.  And perhaps 50,000 arrived on the same train as we did.  Seriously, it was THAT packed!! 

Fortunately, our second race of the day was a lucky one for both of us.  We didn't win much on it, but it is always fun to win regardless of the amount!

On the next race, Chris hit on the exacta!!  We were super excited!!  Especially when we found out it paid almost $100.  Jackpot :)

Just after Race 9, we had placed our bets for the next two races and then found a spot to settle into for a couple of hours while we waited for the Belmont Stakes. We found a relatively uncrowded area near a bench where two nice couples were sitting.  We waited...and waited...and waited!

California Chrome...the exciting Triple Crown hopeful just before the race!

I made friends with the group on the bench and was able to manage to share their coveted spot atop the bench for the BIG race!  The crowd had become unbearable at this point...and quite excitable!  LL Cool J even gave a brief performance before the race began.

The stakes were huge...and I really thought California Chrome was gonna win.  I really did.  The horses took their spots...and they were off!

Even thought I was head and shoulder above most of the crowd in the area where I was located, I couldn't really make out much of the race.  I did get a couple of photos when the horses were on the back stretch, but as they came around to the finish people were just going crazy and I couldn't see a single thing.  We didn't know for a few minutes after the finish which two horses were even at the lead as they crossed the finish line. 

Thankfully, we did not plan to take the LIRR back to the city after the race.  It was most certainly a disaster for anyone that did so.  We decided next year we just want to watch the Belmont Stakes at home.  Too many people with not enough space!  The only reason it wasn't a total disappointment is that Chris won a decent amount on his exacta.  Otherwise, we might have decided to steer clear of the Belmont forever! 
Andrea :)

Friday, June 6, 2014

All the Way

All the Way is all about Lyndon Baines Johnson.  Johnson is played by Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame.  The play begins with the news of John F. Kennedy's death.  LBJ is sworn into office and hits the ground running full speed ahead.  The focus is on two fronts - 1) passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 complete with much interaction with key political figures of the day, Martin Luther King, Jr. (Brandon J. Dirden) and J. Edgar Hoover (Michael McKean) and 2) being elected to serve a full term as President of the United States.

Bryan Cranston knocked it WAY out of the park with this performance.  He is simply phenomenal.  Chris and I absolutely loved his performance as Walt in Breaking Bad so we were not the least bit shocked that he was so amazing on stage.  Cranston pulls off a perfect southern twang and truly is LBJ for those 3 hours.  Chris loved the show so much that he intends to see it again.  If you have any interest at all in history or politics, this show is a MUST see.  A great behind the scenes look at the past.  We had a great conversation with Dirden (who plays MLK, Jr.) while we waited for Walt Bryan Cranston at the stage door.  Dirden explained the depths of his research for the role and the quite accurate account the show provides.  Super nice man that does a fabulous job on stage as well.

When Chris agreed to do the waiting at the stage door thing with me for this show, it was HUGE!  He isn't really into that scene.  I really enjoyed having that experience together for a change.  It also helped that Bryan Cranston is so accommodating.  He signs and takes photos with everyone who waits after the show.  This alleviates the insanity of the post-show crowd - so smart!  We both had a fun, but quick interaction with the man of the hour when he signed our playbills.  He is a very kind and funny man.  I'm glad we pushed our luck a little by asking for a photo with both of us because it is my favorite. 

 All the Way has two Tony nominations.
Best Play (Author - Robert Schenkkan)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (Bryan Cranston)
Andrea :)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun is not a new story.  It's been around for a long time.  I remember reading it in high school.  And I'm sure those before me read it in high school as well.  Back then, I don't remember it having the impact on me that it did when I saw it performed on stage last week.  This story is powerful.  Very powerful.

The play follows a week or so in the life of the Youngers, an African American family living on the South Side of Chicago in the 1950s.  As the play opens, the matriarch of the family (LaTanya Richardson Jackson) will be receiving a $10,000 life insurance check for the death of her husband.  Mama's son, Walter Lee (Denzel Washington) and his wife Ruth (Sophie Okonedo) have different ideas about how the money could be best spent.  Walter Lee is deadset on investing in a liquor store with his friends, and Ruth wants a fresh start in a new home to better their lives immediately.  Mama's daughter, Beneatha (Anika Noni Rose) intends the money should be used for her medical schooling.  Things get even more tense when Ruth reveals she is pregnant with their second child.  After many words with everyone in the family, Mama makes her decision - buying a house in Clybourne Park, an entirely white neighborhood.  As a result (along with the consequences of some unwise decisions by Walter Lee), more drama ensues leading up to the final decision of the family to go or to stay.

Powerful stuff...especially from roughly 10 rows from the stage!!  I felt like I was a guest at the Younger home myself.  And these actors and actresses were the absolute real deal!  Each was phenomenal - particularly the ladies as proven by their Tony nominations.    I was moved by the performance and so happy to see the warmth and genuine nature of each performer as the exited the stage door.  The young man that performed as Travis (Walter Lee and Ruth's son) was the sweetest.  So grateful and excited when he was speaking with the crowd and signing autographs.  Everyone was very friendly and happy to have made an impact on those in attendance.

And then there was Denzel.  Since I had already "met" him (read more here), I was mostly just observing and enjoying the atmosphere of the after show crowd.  However, when Denzel came out he began shaking hands with people in the crowd.  Woah!  A handshake certainly confirms meeting someone.  I was trying to get a good photo while he was on the opposite side when he turned around and headed straight for me.  I froze for a moment, snapped a picture of the ground (mostly), and then quickly made my hand available for the shake.  Unfortunately, I became speechless almost simultaneously so I'm not quite sure many words were exchanged, but we most assuredly have met now.  The photo above is from a fellow stage door waiter who happily shared the somewhat blurry, but about as good as it gets photo with all of us.  What a night!

A Raisin in the Sun has five Tony nominations.
Best Revival of a Play
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (LaTanya Richardson Jackson)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Sophie Okonedo)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Anika Noni Rose)
Best Direction of a Play (Kenny Leon)
Andrea :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Act One

Going into this show, I wasn't sure what to expect.  I hadn't heard or read much about the show.  I was excited to see Tony Shalhoub (big Monk fan here!), but otherwise I wasn't too sure about much.

Turns out, Act One is the rags to riches story of Moss Hart. It begins with his rough childhood, which sparked his love for theater. The story continues as he grows up and eventually finds work on Broadway. The play ends at what some may consider the very beginning for Moss Hart. 

We really enjoyed the show.  Thanks to the Linc Tix program, we had amazing seats (two rows from the stage!) AND we paid a nominal fee for this wonderful show!  I really enjoyed that many of the actors and actresses played dual roles.  It was spectacular to see them change character so quickly and without flaw.  Simply a great performance by all!!  The set was also very neat.  It rotated for various scenes and was quite detailed and unique considering the way it was used.  I would definitely recommend this show to anyone.  It was long and got a tad slow toward the end, but otherwise it was perfect!  And Tony Shalhoub was the absolute nicest when we happened to see him on our way out of the theater.  I had no idea there was a stage door at this venue!  What a fabulous surprise :)

Act One has five Tony nominations.
Best Play (Author - James Lapine)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (Tony Shalhoub)
Best Scenic Design of a Play (Beowulf Boritt)
Best Costume Design of a Play (Jane Greenwood)
Best Sound Design of a Play (Dan Moses Schreier)
Andrea :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


There are SO many great shows on broadway right now!  I have seen a handful of them in the past couple of months and with the Tony's coming up on Sunday (yay!), I thought this would be a great time to share all the fun with you!

When I found out Idina was back on the stage, I knew I just had to see this show!!  On top of that, last spring I lucked into a ticket to an awesome program - American Songbook - where Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey were presenting a whole array of their music. I love it!! Idina even performed a couple songs from this show (it was in the works then).  Pretty neat to kind of see it all come full circle :)

My friend, Reba, and I attended If/Then in early April.  We loved every minute of the show!  The story follows Idina's character - either Liz or Beth depending on the scene.  She is a newly divorced 39 year old that has moved back to New York City to start over as an urban planner.  As the story unfolds, you follow Elizabeth's life as it pans out in two very different scenerios all based on choices she makes or doesn't make along the way.  The story can get a bit confusing at times, but the vocal talent of Idina makes it worth every second.  She is simply phenomenal.  The rest of the cast is good, but most don't quite match the talent of Idina.

Lucas (Anthony Rapp, pictured left with red hair) and Josh (James Snyder, picture right in the blue shirt) play the two opposites to Beth (Lucas) and Liz (Josh).  Both are interesting characters, but ultimately I prefered her life at Liz.  Maybe it's because that's the life I would have chosen if, of course, I knew what both lives would hold.

Even though the show has some colorful language and controversial topics abound, I would recommend seeing it.  The idea behind the story is one that we all experience in life.  What if I had chosen this instead of that?  What if I had gone instead of stayed at home? What if? What if? What if?  Life is full of what ifs.  And this show allows you to explore the possibilities of seeing both sides...and realizing that no matter which way life takes you, there are always good times and bad times.  That's the thing about never quite pans out exactly how we thought...

If/Then has two Tony nominations.
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre (Music: Tom Kitt
Lyrics: Brian Yorkey)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Idina Menzel)

Andrea :)