Sunday, July 31, 2016

ABC Reads: July Review

Today is the day to link up your ABC Reads!!   

Here's a refresher on the terms of the challenge in case you missed it previously:

What does the challenge entail?  Well, I'm glad you asked.  There are 26 letters of the alphabet and Mia and I challenge you, during the course of 2016, to read a book that starts with each letter.  For example, Atonement (A), The Bell Jar (B), Catching Fire (C), and so on.  Makes sense, right? You don't need to go in order - if you want to start with S, go for it.  On the last day of each month, we'll host a link-up for you to share your ABC Reads.  We will award one point for each letter you review AND a bonus point for linking up with us!  At the end of the year (or when the first participant reviews a book beginning with each of the 26 letters), the winner will be awarded a $30 Amazon gift card. Congrats to challenge winner, Jessica from Frikken Duckie!

Reading took a back seat to life this month. A way back seat, but more on that another time. I didn't even come close to meeting my goal of completing at least four books this month.  Fortunately, the one I did manage to finish was a great one!  I'm hopeful I can step up the pace next month.  I only have nine books left for the challenge so I really need to read at least two next month to stay on track.  This month, I completed the following letter: N.  Here are my thoughts...

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

I found myself completely consumed with Vianne and Isabelle's story.  I really enjoy historical fiction and this book proved fantastic.  I loved the way it combined historical drama (the German occupation of France) with family drama.  There were a number of moving pieces throughout the story that kept me guessing until the end.  I don't want to say much about the story because I highly encourage you to read it.  I left the story with a lot to think about in regard to not only family and loyalty to country, but also about friendship and what it means to be free.  I can't even begin to fathom what life was like during the World Wars and Nazi occupation in particular.  What a horrifying and scary time!

What have you been reading lately?

Andrea :)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Birthday Treats

Given the insane heat wave that made its appearance over the past couple of weeks, my birthday plans shifted a tad.  I had been pretty flexible about plans this year anyway especially since I knew we would be semi-celebrating with the ice cream cake at the game night we hosted just a few days prior to my birthday.  Since the actual day fell on a Sunday this year, I knew we'd spend most of the morning at church, but it took a bit of creative thinking to sort out the rest of the day. I remembered we still had a couple of gift cards from my bridal shower that we hadn't been able to use yet so a plan was set!  We would have brunch at Sarabeth's followed by spending a few hours checking out the Guggenheim Museum.  Two great beat the heat ideas.

I only managed to snag a photo of the basket of muffins we ordered at Sarabeth's.  I really enjoyed trying the different types.  Banana and pumpkin were my favorite!  Overall, the food was great!

The Guggenheim was an interesting place. The layout is in a circular pattern with a number of exhibits lining the walls while others are displayed in rooms off to the side.  Chris and I took turns finding our favorite piece in the smaller rooms and just enjoying a leisurely stroll through the exhibits.  The museum hosts several really neat and unique pieces.  The most interesting to me was a couscous castle in the middle eastern art exhibit area.

After roaming around the museum, we stopped by Two Little Red Hens bakery to pick up a small cake.  I indulged in a mini cupcake there, too.  Calories don't count on your birthday, right?

I spent the evening opening a few gifts from Chris and my parents along with a stack of birthday cards. It was a nice day.  A lot calmer that some of my previous celebrations, but just what I needed this year!

How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

Andrea :)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

It's Ice Cream Cake Time!!!

It's July 24th - my favorite day of the year!!

I certainly wasted no time requesting an ice cream birthday cake this year - especially since the temps are hovering right around 100 degrees these days.  I'll be over here trying to stay hydrated while I blow out all 33 of these candles.  No big deal.  Seriously though, Happy Birthday to ME!!

Andrea :)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Garth X 2

Seeing Garth Brooks perform in concert wasn't on my bucket list, but I'm not sure why not. And after seeing him play Yankee Stadium two nights in a row earlier this month, I kinda want to add it.  Just to have a reason to go again.

Yes, it was THAT fantastic!  I knew the lyrics to every single song from Standing Outside the Fire to Unanswered Prayers to Callin' Baton Rouge to Papa Loved Mama.  It was pure bliss...times 2.

We grabbed tickets right away when they went on sale, but as the concert date drew near we discovered we could have gotten MUCH better tickets for FAR less the price. It was worth every penny so when we met up with some friends after the show, a trio of us decided to give night two a shot.

Megan and I were the only two that ended up being able to make night two a reality.  And boy were we in for a treat.  We managed to snag $60 tickets just a few rows back from the stage.  AMAZING!!

Unfortunately, the show was delayed 3.5 hours due to thunderstorms in the area...but we eventually made our way back to the seats and loved every second of the performance even if we did get a bit soaked in the process. Garth certainly made it worth the wait!

Trisha Yearwood did a short set in the middle of the performance and I loved it nearly just as much.  She sang She's in Love with the Boy and How Do I Live - and totally rocked the place both nights!

I would have gone the next night if I had the option.  The show was wonderful.  Garth is not only a talented artist, but also puts on a fun high energy show!  I absolutely didn't want it to end!  Until next time, Garth...

Andrea :)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

My Buddy is THREE!!

During my impromptu 4th of July visit to Kentucky, I was able to sneak in a little early birthday celebration with my nephew.  It was great to be able to watch him open his presents in person.  Chris and I have yet to be able to attend the little guy's birthday party so it was particularly fun to be able to watch his excitement in person this year!

It really is unbelievable how quickly the past three years have gone.  Landon is such an sweet little boy.  And he is SO independent now.  I am always so amazed by how much he has grown and changed between visits! I can't wait until the next time I'm able to get one of his loving hugs and hear his joyful laughter.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my little buddy!!  
I love you, Landon!!

Andrea :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

It's (Birthday) Showtime!!

Years ago, my lovely friend (Mary) and I decided it would be fun to celebrate our July birthdays by attending a Broadway show.  We started the tradition with Disney themed shows - Lion King and The Little Mermaid.  And a couple years ago, we found our way back to Disney with Aladdin.  While we keep our fingers crossed awaiting the return of Beauty and the Beast to the Great White Way, we decided upon She Loves Me.


When we bought the tickets, I knew we'd be in for a real treat because our show was set to be the final performance! Neither of us had ever experienced closing night. What fun! There was certainly much more applause and cheering throughout the performance than normal.  It was a great experience, especially for such a fun and whimsical show.  We loved the show from beginning to end - so many intriguing characters and fantastic voices!  Several familiar faces and lots of great lessons. Truly a wonderful birthday show selection!

Do you have any birthday traditions?

Andrea :)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Five on Friday


This past week has been full of highs and lows.  To start the week, we celebrated our nation's independence (see #4).  There were cookouts, fireworks, and just a general good time all around.  It is beyond comprehension that such a special time for Americans so quickly turned into a horrifying and despicable display of citizenship as two innocent black men were murdered outright in cold blood by white police officers on consecutive days in Louisiana and Minnesota.  It could have been my husband or any number of my black friends or family members.  These acts were followed by another unnecessary assassination of five innocent police officers patrolling a protest.  Seven lives lost.  Forever.  Senseless murder.  These are all regular people just going about their normal day.  It is an absolute disgrace for this type of behavior to occur in our land of the free and home of the brave. Do we - all Americans...every color, every race, every creed - TRULY understand what it means to be free and what it means to be brave?  Something must change.  Black Lives Matter.  And violent retaliation is not the answer.  We - all Americans - have to work together to find a way to right this ship regardless of how long it takes or how uncomfortable it feels because the consequences of inaction aren't acceptable.


One of my childhood friends recently ventured to NYC for an elopement to his longtime partner. Chris and I had a blast catching up with Nick and Eddie during their time in the city.  So much laughter!  As you read yesterday, lifetime friendship picks right up where it leaves off - so many fun memories of growing up with Nick as one of my best friends!


Since a number of the original Hamilton cast will be coming off the show on Saturday, I took it upon myself to venture over to the insanity known as the stage door this week.  It was all I expected in terms of craziness.  I managed to snag a quick photo with Christopher Jackson who plays the role of President Washington.  He sings my favorite song of the whole show - One Last Time.  Quite appropriate given the upcoming departure of many from the core cast.  I'm still hoping to meet my favorite of the bunch - Daveed Diggs - at some point.  It might take me a few weeks to work up the courage to return though!


As I mentioned, we celebrated my favorite holiday this week.  I made an unplanned trip back to Kentucky.  As a result, I was able to enjoy the 4th of July fun and fireworks with my favorite niece and nephew!  They really loved the sparklers and pop its!


My parents and I were in charge of entertaining those two little firecrackers on my last day in town.  They can be completely wild one moment and then sweet as can be the next.  Definitely kept us all on our toes, but we had a lot of fun feeding ducks, working puzzles, hanging out at the library, and saying goodbye at the airport.  My parents and I needed a day of rest afterward, but it was SO great to spend time with them.

I'm ready for a weekend full of time well spent with Christopher!  

Andrea :)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

On Friendship

As long as I can remember, we were friends.  I don't ever recall meeting these three girls.  They just were.  And we were friends.  It's just how it was from the beginning.

We grew up together at Buck Creek Baptist Church. Us Four Girls were always together - planning events or the next Backyard Bible Club lesson, starring in the church play or practicing our next black light performance, serving in the community through Acteens or just running around at someone's house for the day.  It was friendship, friendship...just a perfect blend ship.

And then, 18 years later we graduated.  Three of us went off to Georgetown College while one stayed home at Brescia University.  We all began to explore different interests and made new circles of friends.  We still held one another dear in our hearts and saw each other often throughout those four years of growing and learning, but things changed.  We all spread our wings.  Two of us married just after graduation and we all took part in the fun and festivities.  And then we found ourselves in totally different places and stages of life.  There wasn't a time we all came together any longer.  Holidays were spent in other cities.  Family gatherings occurred elsewhere.

Babies were born.  The other two of us were married.  More babies were born.  Then, tragedy struck.  And we found ourselves back in the place where it all began.  It felt right for all of us to be there - together.  That's friendship.  It is malleable and flexible.  It stretches and changes.  And when it spans the years - a lifetime, really - it picks up where it left off.  It remembers.  It heals.  It finds a way.    

Andrea :)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Our June Date Nights

June flew by in an absolute blur. We were ecstatic on the 18th when hand-in-hand we finally crossed the finish line of the Queens 10k - our 1st together!  Before that point in the month, our lives seemed to revolve around our final training runs.  The last couple of weeks have managed to be much less busy.  It wasn't the least bit ironic that Chris' date night for this month revolved around soccer since he's been lost in soccer land for most of the month.  I found an intriguing storytelling event courtesy of The Moth.

The day after our 10k, we headed out to watch the Red Bulls take on the Seattle Sounders.  Unfortunately, they were missing Clint Dempsey due to his participation with the US team during the Copa America games.  We weren't there to cheer him on anyway, but it still would have been fun to see him play.  The Red Bulls, according to my much more knowledgeable husband, didn't play well.  They still managed to win the game 2-0 so I was impressed.  Mike Grella scored both goals - one in each half.  I was secretly hoping for a hat trick.

It was fun to watch the game together even though I'm not quite the regular fan like Chris.  He took time throughout the match to explain various aspects of the game to me which was nice.  We sat nearby the supporter groups and a bit of a fight almost broke out once.  The supporters kept me almost as entertained as the players.  We had a fun night...especially since the Red Bulls were victorious!

For my date night, I went a non-traditional route. Recently, I happened across a podcast called The Moth that features true stories told live.  As I explored their website, I found a section that indicated live events.  (They have these live events nationwide so check it out to see if there are opportunities near you!)  I stalked the site and grabbed tickets as soon as they went on sale.  Since tickets only go on sale one week prior to the event, I was banking on the fact they would go quickly.

Due to a quick stop at the SoHo Georgetown Cupcake location, we arrived at the venue just prior to the event's start time.  The tickets indicated that the doors opened an hour beforehand so we ended up having to stand for the duration of the evening, but we still had a really great time.  The hostess for the evening set up the ground rules for storytellers as she interjected her own true life tales and humorous quips.  Judges were assigned and storytellers began to be drawn out of the bag.  We heard 10 stories total - all with the central theme of "Ditched".  Each was interesting.  There were three or four really good ones in the bunch.  Only one kinda missed the boat.  Overall, it was a super fun night.  Definitely something that both of us have interest in attending again.  Each event has a different theme and the price of admission was only $12.  Honestly, it was one of the more unique, inexpensive, fun events I've experienced in the city.  Highly recommend you check it out!

Do you have any fun summer dates planned?

Andrea :)