Saturday, October 31, 2015

Saturday States: Massachusetts


State Nickname: The Bay State

Year of Family Trip: 2002

Cities Visited: Boston, Salem, Plymouth

Can't Miss Tourist Attractions:
Old North Church, Plymouth Rock, House of Seven Gables, Whale Watch

For such a small state, there sure is a lot to do in Massachusetts.  We made the most of our time visiting Boston, Salem, and Plymouth.  From historical talks to eating fresh seafood to spending time at the watering hole where everybody knows your name to whale watching before the days of digital cameras and actually getting some great photos, Massachusetts has much to offer.

History for Days...and a Surprise!

The history in Boston is rich!  It was incredible to see so many of the buildings that were here when America gained its independence long ago.  Old North Church and Paul Revere's Home were a real treat.  We walked along the streets soaking in all the history before we found a place to grab lunch.  We found a nice spot and settled into our seats to review the menus when McKinley spotted something a bit out of the ordinary - a transvestite with a beard.  Welcome to Boston!

Spooky Salem

Salem was spooky.  We visited a cemetery, learned all about the witch trials, and posed in a stockade. Jordan even managed to talk Mom and Dad into allowing him to get a temporary tattoo.  It was an eerie place to visit, but so worth the trip.

Ricker Does It Again!

The House of Seven Gables is also located in Salem.  It was built for Captain John Turner back in the 1600s and made famous by Nathaniel Hawthrone's 1851 novel by the same name.  We toured the settlement house ending in the garden area at the back.  Dad decided this would be a great spot for Ricker to have his photo made so I got him all set and squatted behind the bushes to wait. I waited for what seemed like an eternity before I finally rose from my crouch to see what in the world was taking so long.  Dad was pointing behind me and laughing his head off.  I turned to see a huge tour group filing out of the house staring my way with looks of pure puzzlement on their faces.  Thanks, Ricker!

That Time Dad Touched Plymouth Rock

Often throughout our Northeastern adventure, Dad would recount the time he came to the area with the Haywoods.  He told us story after story about that trip...always including the time he touched Plymouth Rock.  We were excited when we finally arrived in Massachusetts to see this massive piece of history he'd recalled.  Imagine our shock when we arrived in Plymouth to find the small rock deep in a hole surrounded by barriers.  We couldn't even get a great picture due to the shadows!  We never denied that Dad touched it way back when, but we did claim he would have needed a Go-Go-Gadget Arm to reach it.

Have you ever been to Massachusetts?

Andrea :)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Goals for the 2015 NYC Marathon

When I ran the NYC Marathon in 2013, I had no idea what to expect.  My family came to support me on the course.  I sent notes to friends and asked for their thoughts and prayers at certain miles.  I carried a page of 26 Bible verses to encourage me each mile.  I was so happy to finish the race, but was disappointed my time was a bit slower than I had hoped.  It took me some time to realize the key was that I finished.

This year, I have four goals for the 2015 NYC Marathon. I don't feel nearly as prepared physically this time though I did my best to log the training miles throughout the past three months.  I tripped and fell on a training run about three weeks ago and that injury has really been a pain....literally.  Mentally though, I am certain I can do this.  I know it will not be easy, but I also know what to expect.  Awesome crowds of people cheering me on regardless of my speed, a beautiful journey through all five boroughs of New York City, and my amazing husband supporting me all the way!

Here are my goals for the 2015 NYC Marathon:

#1 - Enjoy the Journey.

#2 - Finish the Race.

#3 - Complete in better time (6:13:23) than first marathon.

#4 - Complete in six hours (or less).

My first two goals are a MUST for me this time.  The second two goals are stretch goals.  I would be absolutely thrilled if I was able to check the box beside either of them, but I am resolved to make the first two my top priority!  I want need this to be a great experience!  And my attitude is going to make all the difference!!

I would love to have your prayers and thoughts as I take the course at 11am Eastern Time on Sunday!!  I'm certainly going to give it my best shot!!

Andrea :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Fall Film Challenge: Bonus Round

The Fall Film Challenge Bonus Round involves watching another 25 movies.  This time the criteria is simply that the actor or actress listed must appear in the movie (or their voice must appear in the movie).  Again, it must be a film you haven't previously seen, and it must have had a theatrical release.  I think my list encompasses a lot of great movies that I either missed in the theater or didn't have the chance to catch via Redbox.  I'm excited to see a number of these movies.  Without further ado, here is my bonus list...

one. Anne Hathaway - Rio

two. Ben Stiller - While We're Young

three. Miley Cyrus - The Last Song

four. Vin Diesel - A Man Apart

five. Eddie Murphy - A Thousand Words

six. Will Ferrell - Get Hard

seven. Gwyneth Paltrow - Running with Scissors

eight. Katie Holmes - Woman in Gold 

nine. Ione Skye - Say Anything

ten. Jonah Hill -True Story

eleven. Ashton Kutcher - No Strings Attached

twelve. Justin Long - Accepted

thirteen. Maggie Gyllenhaal - Mona Lisa Smile

fourteen. Nicolas Cage - The Croods

fifteen. Owen Wilson - Starsky & Hutch

sixteen. Pauly Shore - Son in Law

seventeen. John C. Reilly - The Promotion

eighteen. Sylvester Stallone - Grudge Match

nineteen. Tyler Perry - Alex Cross

twenty. Channing Tatum - White House Down

twenty-one. Vince Vaughn - Delivery Man 

twenty-two. Patrick Wilson - Passengers

twenty-three. Megan Fox - This is 40

twenty-four. Gary Busey - Point Break

twenty-five. Renee Zellwegger - New in Town

Stay tuned for reviews and recommendations as I work my way through this list!  My goal is to finish them all by the November 30 deadline for the challenge!

Andrea :)

Monday, October 26, 2015

#collaboreads: Pre-2010 Horror

Fortunately, my Fab Four book club selected Misery by Stephen King for October.  It certainly fills the pre-2010 horror category and was the perfect book to set the mood for fall and all things Halloween!  This book was creepy and scary and horrifying, but SO good!

What part of the book could you NOT get enough of?

I could not get enough of every part of this book.  Years ago, I watched the movie so I had an idea of how things would go, but I couldn't remember exact details.  This left me wanting more each time I put the book down.  And I put it down often because it just got too creepy for me after awhile.  I had to read in spurts to keep myself from having nightmares!  What a wild and crazy story!!  And I'm thrilled that Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf are slated to give it a limited engagement run on Broadway this winter.  Can't wait to see how everything is depicted on stage!

How did you relate to/care for the characters?
What's your thought on the plot line and twists and turns?

There were really only two characters - Paul and insane Annie!  Both were fascinating.  I can't say I really liked either of them much.  Regardless, both managed to draw me deeper and deeper into the story.  When Paul became semi-mobile, the story really takes a turn and started to enter a point where I just had to know what happens next.  Many times I found myself thinking...just one more chapter!  The other part of this book that was incredibly interesting to me (and really revealed the most about Annie) was when Paul looked through her "scrapbook" page by page.  It was amazing how much detail and thought was put into this brief, but quite significant portion of the book.

What other books are like this one? If none, did it remind you of a particular TV or movie with it's themes and characters? Does it serendipitous-ly line-up with things going on in your life or the news right now? 

I am not a horror fan.  At all.  I don't read many books that give me the creeps for obvious reasons, but Misery did remind me a bit of some of the old James Patterson books I read WAY back in the day.  I'm talking about Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls.  Yeah...back in those days!

You know you judged this book by the cover. What did you think of it? 
How did it relate to the contents of the novel? And the font and layout of the pages? 

The cover was ok.  A dark shot of a typewriter.  It certainly fit the story, but it doesn't necessarily draw me in.  The text of the book proved inviting though.  There were sections that appear to be typed on a typewriter.  Not just any typewriter, but the exact one that Paul is using.  The one missing an "n"...and eventually a few other popular letters.  I love how those sections of the book even included hand-filled n's.  So clever!  And I really loved the full handwritten portion of Paul's novel toward the conclusion of the book.  Unique way to connect readers with the character!

How many out of five do you give this book? Would you recommend this book to a friend?  

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.  The last .5 was withheld due to various parts that made me really squeamish.  Too much detail on some of the gore for this lady! :)    

Andrea :)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mini of the Month: October

Pumpkin Spice everything is all the rage for fall.  This year, Baked by Melissa jumped on board with a pumpkin spice mini.

This tasty mini has all the right stuff!  The pumpkin bread is off-set with vanilla icing and filled with pumpkin spice!  To top it off, the mini features a pumpkin and sprinkle brittle.  Simply delicious!  The Pumpkin Spice mini has the perfect blend of pumpkin without being overpowering.  Definitely enjoyed this yummy treat!

What is your favorite pumpkin flavored food?

Andrea :)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saturday States: New York

New York

State Nickname: The Empire State

Years of Family Trip: 2002, 2004, and 2007

Cities Visited: Niagara Falls, New York City

Can't Miss Tourist Attractions:
Niagara Falls, Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Belmont Park

There is certainly no shortage of things to do and places to go in New York.  Most of our Heflin family adventures took place around New York City, but as an NYC resident for over eight years now believe me when I say this state has SO much to offer.  

Don't get me wrong though, it's not my favorite.  Never has been.  When we came for a family vacation back in 2004, I couldn't wait to get back home!  After one of our expeditions through the subway system, I proclaimed, "If there are more people above ground than down here, I just want to turn around and go home."  I'd love to say I've overcome that feeling since becoming a resident, but I still feel that way most days!  Living in New York City is not for the faint of heart - it is busy and crowded and overwhelming and expensive.  But it is a FANTASTIC place to visit!!

Mist Everywhere...

In 2002, we visited Niagara Falls.  The Falls are stunning from any angle, but we spent time on both the American and Canadian side.  And we took a boat ride - Maiden of the Mist - to see things close up.  Big mistake!  We didn't see nearly as much as we felt on that boat ride.  We got soaked!

A Heflin Trifecta

On our NYC vacation in 2004, we stayed with my Aunt Mildred in Long Island.  This required us to take the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) into the city each day.  As a result, we saw posters advertising the Belmont Stakes.  And Smarty Jones was running for the Triple Crown.  Perfect timing!  We barely made it to the racetrack in time to place our bets.  We were ready to watch history be made.  And then we saw the mass of humanity that we'd need to see through in order to watch the race.  We tip-toed enough to see bits and pieces of the horses beginning their journey to the starting gate.  And then we noticed Mom was missing.  Where did she go?  We soon found her gagging into a nearby trash can.  The reason - too much cigar smoke.  Needless to say, Smarty didn't have such a great race experience either!

Bird Watching!

We made a journey to the Statue on our initial trip to NYC in 2004, but weren't able to go inside at that time.  In 2007, when all the Heflins convened on the city to celebrate my first winter in the Big Apple, we were able to climb inside.  On one visit, Mom received a surprise from a little birdie friend as we waited on the never ending line to board the boat to Ellis Island, where lifelong packs were promised.

Happy New Year!!

On the chilly New Year's Eve of 2007, we took our place inside the barricade while the sun was still shining overhead.  It didn't take long for the area to fill with people.  It also didn't take long for us to get tired and antsy.  Jen brought a girl!  Mom thinks a couple was rounding the bases using her back as a makeshift wall.  Dad and I played a guessing game of sorts...and wished we'd brought some chairs.  We all couldn't have been any happier when the ball finally began to drop!  Being there to ring in 2008 was certainly an experience, but not one any of us would likely repeat.

Have you ever been to the Big Apple?
What did you enjoy most?

Andrea :)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Our 1st Anniversary!

We decided to go the traditional route for our 1st Anniversary.  We exchanged gifts with a paper theme, ate cake while we watched our full length wedding video, and took some fun photos in the city we've called home for the past year - Long Island City.

It was a great day to reflect on our wedding and bask in the excitement and happiness it brought.  We found ourselves commenting throughout the day that it didn't seem like it had been a whole year since that special day!  I guess it's true that time flies when you're having fun!

For the past year, on the 18th of each month we took a photo together.  I framed them as a way for us to look back over our first year together.  Each month, I also presented Christopher with a card and either Twizzlers or Baked by Melissa cupcakes depending on the month.  Immediately following our wedding ceremony, Chris and I spent a few minutes together in the bridal suite letting it all soak in before exiting to cheering family and friends.  We were both starving and began devouring the closest snack - Twizzlers!  It was fun to relive that each month.  We ordered only-available-in-NYC cupcakes to be shipped to Kentucky for a late-night snack at our wedding so every few months I switched things up and gave him a package of those instead.  I remember how delicious they tasted at the end of our wedding night as well!  Yum!

We didn't exactly eat a thawed out top layer of our wedding cake.  Too many logistics would have been involved in that operation since we wed in a state hundreds of miles from where we live.  But we did order a small cake to commemorate the day.  Our California Adventure last month served as our main anniversary celebration so we kept October 18 fairly low key.  It was nice to just relax and spend some quality time together though. We did share the short version of our wedding video with family and friends for the first time that day.  If you want to check it out, click here!

At the end of the day, our first anniversary was just another day.  Another day with my best friend.  We can't wait to see what year number two brings our way!

Andrea :)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rock 'n' Roll...Oh, no!!

I finished the race!  The tech shirt is great!  The medal is massive!

That is the extent of my positive feelings toward the extremely disorganized inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Brooklyn Half.  The communication from sign-up to race day was non-existent.  No email reminder the week of the race to outline expo details for packet pick-up.  No easy to navigate packet pick-up for that matter.  And...nearly an hour delay at the start line on race day.

But let me back up two days.  It's Thursday.  The race has a 7am start time on Saturday morning.  I go for one last short 5 mile run to give me some confidence headed into race day.  And, I trip...and fall - hard!  It hurt.  Really hurt.  Being a mile away from my apartment, I had no other choice but to run/walk home.  So I did.  And then I cried.

Chris helped me get the gash on my arm cleaned out and doctored up.  I alternated between ice and compression for my badly bruised knee.  It was not a good look a mere 36 hours to the start line.  Not to mention that this half was only on my schedule as a training run for the NYC Marathon...only three weeks away at that point in time.

The night before the race my knee felt better.  Not great, but better.  I felt like I could move forward with the race.  I would have to alternate between running and walking more than I originally planned, but I could make it.  I would be ok.  I set the alarm for 5am and went to sleep.

As usual, everything took me longer than expected when I woke.  It didn't help that I wanted to ice one last time before I headed out.  I arrived at the start line about 15 minutes after 7am.  Guess it worked to my advantage that my corral didn't officially begin the race until a few minutes shy of 8am.  Fortunately, I found my friend, Rachel, in the crowd of people! 

The race itself was a challenge for me.  I'd like to think it wouldn't have been so trying if I hadn't somewhat injured myself, but in all honesty it likely would have still been tough.  This round of marathon training has taught me that long distance races are simply not in my future.  It's too difficult on my body and time at this point in life.  That's a story for another day though.

I managed to keep a pretty consistent pace throughout the race.  I anticipated being around 13:30 per mile, but instead I clocked an average of 14 minute miles for a final time of 3:03:27.  It was certainly my slowest half marathon, but I felt proud that I pushed through and finished the race.  I felt EVERY single step of this one.  It was not easy by any stretch of the imagination.  Perseverance was the name of the game for me in this race.  I'm happy I stuck with it even though I felt like giving up more than once along the way.

I'm not sure if I will ever challenge myself with this distance again, but it certainly won't be any time soon.  Except, of course, when I double it next weekend for my second NYC Marathon.  But seriously, then I'm all about that 10k course for the foreseeable future!

Andrea :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

#MarriedMaitlands - TWELVE months!

It has been so much fun to track each of the months of our first year of marriage!  I'm not planning to continue the monthly updates in the same fashion going forward, but I still want to capture dates nights.  It has been nice to reflect on all the fun and exciting parts of each month!  Our first married year sure did go quickly!!

Date Nights

-Rooftop Kabob Grill Out

-Ichabod's in Union Square

-Golovkin vs Lemieux at the Garden


What's the Worst That Could Happen?
My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Chris' Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

My Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Chris' Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars

All the President's Men
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Chris' Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

No Country for Old Men
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Chris' Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 Dumb and Dumber To
My Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Chris' Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Chris' Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


-Finished our One Year Anniversary Trip to California.
We saw San Francisco from Coit Tower and had fun on the cable cars, visited Muir Woods and did some wine tasting, and caught a Raiders game.

-Made our way to Albany for a wedding and some apple picking.

Notable Events

-Took One Year Anniversary Photos - can't wait to share more of them!!

-Watched our wedding video and ate yummy cake on our first wedding anniversary
Andrea :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Triple G! Triple G! Triple G!

Boxing was never a sport I really watched, but with all the hype from the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight earlier this year I sort of got sucked in.  After I moved past the blood and general barbaric nature of it all, I found the sport to be quite intriguing.  It requires incredible skill, perseverance, and determination.  And discipline.  Lots of discipline.

When Chris saw that Gennady Golovkin was set to appear in a match against David Lemieux at Madison Square Garden, his only question to me was would I like to go.  My only question to him was when.  As it turns out, the fight fell on October 17 - the day before our 1st wedding anniversary!  We decided to make a night of it with a nice dinner out at one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Hell's Kitchen beforehand.

We arrived at MSG early enough to see all three of the undercard matches before the main event. First were fellow middleweights - Tureano Johnson v Eamonn O'Kane.  The fight was an easy decision for Johnson, but you have to give O'Kane credit for staying in there especially after being knocked down twice in the opening round.

Next, the heavyweights hit the ring.  It was certainly exciting to see such massive men boxing.  Luis Ortiz easily handled Matias Vidondo...eventually knocking him out.  Without a doubt, this was the most fun match to watch all night.

Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez and Brian Viloria gave everyone an exciting fight in the flyweight division.  It was incredible to see these two box.  Chocolatito was victorious with a technical knock-out coming in the ninth round.

The main event was much anticipated by the crowd when it finally came time for Golovkin and Lemieux to take the ring.  The crowd heavily favored Triple G, but surprisingly there were still many cheering the underdog on.  Lemieux managed to get in a few punches, but Golovkin handled him throughout the match with absolutely no issues.  The result - a technical knock-out in the eighth round.  Had it continued, I'm certain we would have seen a knock-out victory in the next round.

Overall, we decided we would probably stick to watching fights at home.  The crowd was simply out of control...spilling their drinks, falling down, generally obnoxious.  It was exciting to be there in person for the night, but not quite worth the hassle of being around so much nonsense from all the strangers in the crowd.

Do you enjoy attending live sporting events?  
Or would you rather just watch at home?

Andrea :)