Monday, October 31, 2016

ABC Reads: October 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!

I only managed to finish one book this month.  I only have four letters remaining for the challenge now! I have already gotten a start on my Z book. And I've selected my C, Q, and T books so I'm hopeful I will successfully complete this challenge by the end of the year. This month, I completed the following letter: H.  Here are my thoughts...

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. There are three different perspectives throughout the story - Mrs. Dalloway, Mrs. Brown, and Mrs. Woolf. They are all connected via the novel that Mrs. Woolf is writing. Cunningham does a wonderful job with this uniquely written novel. And it is a pretty quick read, too. I don't want to give much away which makes it difficult to discuss. I'll just say that I recommend checking it out!

What have you been reading this month?

Andrea :)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Red Rocks in Denver

As you saw yesterday, the main reason for our Denver trip was to cross off another stadium on my bucket list. We also managed to fit in a soccer game.  Surrounding all the sports action, we did find a bit of time to enjoy nature while we were in this beautiful area.

It would have been ideal to experience a concert at Red Rocks. We couldn't fit that into the schedule this time so we settled for just checking out the amphitheater grounds instead.

Definitely look forward to finding a concert and heading back there in the future!

Andrea :)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Stadium Review - Broncos

 Denver Broncos

Name of Stadium: Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Capacity: 76,125
Game Attended: versus Colts in September 2016 with Chris
Worked a game at this stadium? No.

Of all the times I've envisioned attending a Broncos game, I never once anticipated needing sunscreen. When we watched them play a month ago, we might as well have been sitting on the equator! Our seats were located exactly one row from the top of the stadium and it was toasty to say the least. case you're wondering...the elevation issue is no joke. The stadium itself sits one mile above sea level. I think we may have been two miles above by the time we reached our seats.

Let me start at the beginning because the exterior of this stadium is quite unique. We arrived early enough to look around at the monuments and statues. I loved the stampede of horses making their way toward the entrance of the stadium - very neat! The other interesting item of note was the massive amount of Broncos fans everywhere. It is rare that the stadium isn't a bit of a mix of visiting and home fans, but Denver was on it! We saw extremely few fans in the opposing jersey that day.

Needless to say, the atmosphere is electric. Besides the blazing sun beaming down on us, we really enjoyed the game. It was exciting to see a live mascot running the length of the field at various breaks in the game. I've seen live mascots at a couple other stadiums along the way and think it really adds to the in stadium experience. Overall, I found this stadium to be fantastic. Definitely a stadium (and city) I would recommend visiting. But only if you plan on cheering for the Broncos, of course!

I only have four stadiums remaining now. It's highly unlikely I'll manage another stadium this season, but I'm slowly making my way to the finish line on this bucket list item!

Andrea :)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Fall Film Challenge: Bonus Round!

The bonus round for the Fall Film Challenge turned out to be perfect for me! Jenn simply asked us to select 25 movies that were based on either actual events or a book. These are my absolute two favorite genres so I scoured google lists to find some that I managed to miss over the past few years. I generally have a rule about reading the book before watching the movie, but was happy to add a few to my list that I've read over the past few months (and a couple that I hope to finish before viewing). I anticipate I'll enjoy nearly all of these films. Check back in a month or so for my thoughts on each of them!

1 - Lean on Me (1989) - actual event
2 - The Good Lie (2014) - actual event
3 - McFarland, USA (2015) - actual event
4 - Water for Elephants (2011) - book
5 - Ali (2001) - actual event
6 - Last King of Scotland (2006) - actual event
7 - The Jungle Book (2016) - book
8 - Antwone Fisher (2002) - actual event
9 - The Manchurian Candidate (2004) - book
10 - The Hours (2002) - book
11 - United 93 (2006) - actual event
12 - The Hurt Locker (2008) - actual event
13 - Atonement (2007) - book
14 - The Book Thief (2013) - book
15 - The Road (2009) - book
16 - The Best of Me (2014) - book
17 - Amanda Knox (2016) - actual event
18 - 13th (2016) - actual event
19 - The Witness (2015) - actual event
20 - Audrie & Daisy (2016) - actual event
21 - Who Took Johnny (2014) - actual event
22 - Concussion (2015) - actual event
23 - Everest (2015) - actual event
24 - Man on Wire (2008) - actual event
25 - To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) - book

Have you seen any of these movies?

Andrea :)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall (Wedding) Fun

Fall has become my favorite season over the years. The weather is just right and the colors are so pretty. And who doesn't love apples and pumpkin, right?

We had the honor of attending a lovely fall wedding a couple weeks ago. The bride was stunning, the decor beautiful, and the food delicious. We sure had fun dancing the night away. Seeing so many folks from Albany was a nice treat for us as well.

We spent Sunday visiting with my aunt and cousins. She bought some gourmet cupcakes that we enjoyed while watching the atrocious second Presidential Debate on TV that night. I've never felt quite as vested in the election process as I have this year. Maybe because I am a woman, but mostly because I am a human. Let me leave no doubt in saying that I'm with her. I'm completely baffled how absolutely everyone isn't at this point. This isn't reality TV where it's acceptable to repeatedly outright lie, cheat, and steal to win the prize. This is real life where experience and strategic planning should be applicable. But that's a story for another day I suppose. As always, it was great to spend time talking with my Aunt Mildred - about the mess our country is in, family history, and everything in between! The next day, Chris and I made our way to the orchard on our drive back to the city, but it was too chilly for us to manage any apple picking this time. We settled for some hot apple cider and fresh cider donuts instead.

What fun activities have you done this fall?

Andrea :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Two Wonderful Year Later...

Two years ago, we stood at the alter, said our vows, and began our married life together! There have been peaks and valleys along the way, but I am glad to have Christopher by my side for it all. Cheers to my love, my best friend, and my partner in life on our second wedding anniversary!

Andrea :)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Fall Film Challenge Update

I managed to finish all 25 movies from my original fall film challenge list in time for the bonus round list that will be released today. Below are my general thoughts for the movies on my original list.

one. about adolescence - Dope (3 stars - neat characters, weird story, good message)

two. about a character's rebirth or rite of passage - Pitch Perfect (1 star - annoying characters)

three. about a comic book character - X-Men: The Last Stand (1 star - unlikable characters, choppy story line)

four. shot or set in Washington, DC - J. Edgar (2 stars - I like Leo, but it needed a little more action, very slow overall)

five. set in an academic environment - Heathers (3 stars - creative story, unique characters)

six. about failure - Burnt (2 stars - moved along too slow, didn't enjoy the characters)

seven. about a man vs. God or gods - War Room (5 stars - excellent story, well told)

eight. about a man vs. himself - Southpaw (4 stars - unique spin on the age old boxing story)

nine. about an invention or ingenuous individual - A Beautiful Mind (4 stars - the perfect mix of my two favorite genres - Oscar winners and true life tales)

ten. set in a jail or prison - The Hurricane (5 stars - you know how I feel about Denzel, the story is intriguing as well - a little mystery goes a long way)

eleven. about a dog - Scooby-Doo (1 star - dog movies just aren't my thing...even if they are animated)

twelve. about loss - The Lovely Bones (5 stars - enjoyed this one a lot especially after reading the book, suspensful and emotionally charged from beginning to end)

thirteen. about man vs. man - Ricochet (5 stars - Denzel again!, love the psychological thriller aspect to this one)

fourteen. about man vs. nature - 127 Hours (3 stars - horrifying to watch in a handful of scenes, could have been a bit clearer regarding dream sequences vs flashbacks)

fifteen. one that has a monster or monstrous individual - Monsters University (5 stars - cute and funny, great story for the whole family)

sixteen. shot or set in Pennsylvania - Rocky (2 stars - glad I finally watched it, but it wasn't anything all that spectacular really)

seventeen. about a character's quest of some kind - Black Hawk Down (4 stars - great action film about leaving no man behind on the battlefield...regardless of the circumstances)

eighteen. about a character who goes from rags to riches - Straight Outta Compton (3 stars - interesting look at the beginnings of the rap group NWA, enjoyed seeing the peaks and valleys)

nineteen. about a man vs. society - Falling Down (1 star - it was a struggle to get through all of this one, completely unrealistic)

twenty. originally released in the 30's - It Happened One Night (2 stars - predictable and very slow, but I'm sure it was more appreciated in its day)

twenty-one. about undesirable individuals or elements - The 33 (2 stars - interesting true story tale, but moved slowly, probably could have easily cut 30 minutes from the film)

twenty-two. about a voyage and return - Letters to Juliet (1 star - unrealistic story with mostly unlikable characters, interesting concept with the letters though)

twenty-three. about wizards or witchcraft - Now You See Me (4 stars - as a fan of magic and mystery this one sucked me right in, definitely plan to watch the sequel soon)

twenty-four. originally released in the 60's - In the Heat of the Night (3 stars - enjoyed trying to solve the crime, fair depiction of the race issues of that day, slow moving though)

twenty-five. about a yearning or obsession - The Boy Next Door (2 stars - expected this one to be a total flop, but kept me in suspense on the ending even though the premise was beyond silly)

Have you seen any old (or new) movies lately?

Andrea :)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Broadway Week - The Color Purple

It is rare that I see a Broadway show twice. Especially twice in one year, but The Color Purple is a show for which exception are made. I saw this one with some friends around the holidays last year, but couldn't pass up the chance to see it again with my parents, Chris, and his mom recently.

We weren't fortunate enough to catch Cynthia Erivo as Celie this time, but Heather Headley as Shug Avery was a welcome change. I saw a disappointing Jennifer Hudson in that role previously. Heather had all the sass and seduction that Shug Avery needs. She was fantastic! The understudy for Celie had quite a voice on her as well. Nothing beats Cynthia, but she sure did give it a shot. The story is amazing and seeing it come to life on stage is truly beautiful. If you are headed to NYC and need a friend to accompany you to this one, let me know. I'd happily see it over and over again!

Andrea :)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Broadway Week - Waitress

I've had my eye on the show Waitress since the early part of the summer. Sara Bareilles wrote the music and lyrics - I have always liked her! And I really enjoy the Keri Russell movie that comes on TV from time to time. I knew it would be a fun production to see on the stage.

Over the summer, I also started Erin's Book Challenge and chose Sara Bareilles' book Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song as my music category selection. I loved the book. She began each chapter with the lyrics from one of her songs and tied that song into her journey at that point her life. It was really interesting and well written. And the last chapter focused on her work with Broadway, specifically on the show Waitress. I knew I had to see the show after finishing her book.

I grabbed a matinee ticket for the following week and was thrilled from start to finish. The show was full of one-liners and comedic scenes, but also carried the full weight of an abusive relationship and all the unfulfilled feelings that brings to life. I thought it was neat how the band was incorporated as part of the set in the diner scenes with the piano top serving as a counter - very creative! And the cast is extremely talented. You will laugh without a doubt many times. The performance really surprised me, but in the best way possible. I enjoyed every moment!

Have you ever seen the movie version of Waitress? 
What were your thoughts?

Andrea :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Broadway Week - Cats

When Mom and Dad visited recently, we all took a trip to the Jellicle Ball one night. Cats was intended to be the highlight of their visit. The set was beyond amazing - so unique and interesting! The show itself wasn't our favorite though. We enjoyed seeing some of our favorite cats, but the story seemed to drag a bit. Those cats needed a little more pep in their step...or something!

We didn't take advantage of it, but at intermission the audience members were allowed to go on stage and take photos with Old Deuteronomy. As we discovered, they only let a certain number of people on stage so we decided to just watch the fun from our seats. Speaking of our seats, we were in a section that ran along the entrance/exit route for a handful of the cats so we really had some up close encounters throughout the performance.

Leona Lewis is currently playing Grizabella, but we didn't think she performed all that well the evening we saw the show. My all-time favorite cat is Mr. Mistoffelees, but I also liked Gus (the theatre cat), Jennyanydots, and Rum Tum Tugger in this performance. Although, in the end, we weren't blown away with the performance as a whole. However, if you want to see an extraordinary set and some fantastic dance numbers then Cats is the show for you!

Have you ever been to the Jellicle Ball?

Andrea :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Broadway Week - Fiddler on the Roof

I was excited to see Fiddler on the Roof because I knew a handful of the songs, but wasn't entirely familiar with the full story. I find it is always a bit more fun when you don't have pre-determined expectations since experiencing a show for the first time is impossible to replicate. The emotions on stage in this one span the spectrum from laugh out loud humor to tear jerking heartbreak. I enjoyed it from start to finish. Learning more about the cultural roles of mamas and papas and sons and daughters in the community proved fascinating. I enjoyed the Biblical references complete with side conversations to God and SO many of the songs - particularly If I Were a Rich Man and Sunrise, Sunset. My dad often plays Sunrise, Sunset at weddings (ours included!) so it was really exciting to hear that one performed live. Fiddler on the Roof closes in December so find a way to get your tickets soon. I highly recommend it.

Are you familiar with the Fiddler on the Roof story?

Andrea :)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Broadway Week - Les Miserables

I caught Les Miserables the week it closed so the theater was packed! I was in nearly the back row at the Wednesday afternoon matinee. I was lucky they even had a seat for me. I had previously seen the movie, but the Broadway show proved much more exciting. I was curious how a number of scenes would be portrayed live. The production did not disappoint. The music, as I'm sure you all know, is fantastic! The set was also pretty neat especially during the battle scene. I debated on whether I wanted to see this one before it left Broadway, but I am so glad I did.

Have you seen the show live, watched the movie, or read the novel?

Andrea :)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Our September Date Nights

Fall is here. Ready or not. For our September date nights we decided to check out some new (to us) restaurants in Long Island City. We often venture into Manhattan for date night, but we enjoyed changing things up a bit this month. It was a bonus that we were able to take advantage of the last bit of nice weather as we walked to and from the tasty locations.

I went with a burger spot - Petey's. We both liked the burgers, but we definitely should have split fries because the portion was massive. The restaurant itself is small, but did have a TV playing movies which was kinda different. We'd likely opt for delivery next time, but certainly plan to add it into our restaurant rotation.

Chris selected a Thai restaurant - Gaw Gai. It is very close to our apartment, but we hadn't ever taken the time to stop in. There are only a couple of tables in the restaurant so I think it has mostly take out service, but we liked it. The food is a bit spicier than some of the Thai restaurants we frequent in Manhattan, but I was able to handle it without issue. Glad we found this local spot!

Do you have any favorite restaurants in your neighborhood?

Andrea :)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Five on Friday!


I was ecstatic when Sarah Rodriguez selected me to be part of her book launch team! I have followed her journey for years and am completed mesmerized by her strength and courage as she has overcome so much in such a short time.  When I received my advance copy of From Depth We Rise, I absolutely couldn't stop reading! It is a beautifully written love story. A love story filled with happiness and joy as well as sacrifice, pain, and loss. Sarah's journey from a single 20-something headed off to the adventure of New York City to a single mother of two back home in Oklahoma is a true page turner. The book is divided into two sections - The Depths and The Rise. Both are written in a way that allowed me to become completely engrossed. This story of faith and God's blessings amidst tragedy is certain to speak to your heart. And be sure to keep some tissue at hand because there will be tears with each twist and turn.  Go HERE to grab your copy - it is worth EVERY penny of the $8.52 paperback price!


About a month ago now, Chris and I decided to cap off our summer of running with the Sunnyside One Mile Run. It was a tad unorganized, but we survived it. I prefer the NYRR 5th Ave Mile, but it was nice to support some local Queens charity groups.  Not so much fun to include a hill in a one mile fun run...


Another book I'd set my sights on long ago was The Light Between Oceans. When I began to see the movie previews for it, I decided I better get busy reading.  As it turns out, I ended up going the audible route. The book was good, but definitely a bit slow in places. I saw the movie with my friend Rachel the afternoon after I finished the book...and it was a bit slow in places, too. The movie was fine, but (as usual) I much prefer the detail of the book. The movie left out a handful of info that helped round out the light keeper himself, but overall it closely mimicked the book.


As we move into fall, I've been doing a bit of reflecting on summer. Chris turned me into a bit of a running spectator this year. It might have been on accident, but it happened nonetheless. Chris discovered that he was best able to train and prepare as a runner when he had a race scheduled.  Besides the one mile run I mentioned earlier and the 10k race we ran together in June, he completed four additional races over the summer months. I am incredibly proud of him. It was a lot more stressful than I realized to be the spectator part of a couple. I'm not great at spotting people in large crowds so I was consistently concerned I would miss him at the various checkpoints we'd set.  I didn't, but the worry never ceased. I was so happy to be cheering him on to his goals race after race.


We saw our final show as 2nd Stage Theater season ticket holders a couple of weeks ago. The Layover proved quite interesting though we both agreed we weren't too keen on the ending. We couldn't put our finger on exactly how we had hoped it would end, but what we saw on stage wasn't it.  Otherwise, we really enjoyed the play. As season ticket holders, we have loved our experience each time we attend a 2nd Stage production. It has truly become our go to spot!

How are things in your world?
Read any great books?
Run any fun races?

Andrea :)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Big Apple Tour with Mom & Dad: Part Two

As I mentioned in part one, when Mom and Dad visit they sure do make the most of it. Along with all the fun I talked about before, we took a Circle Line Cruise around the island of Manhattan, watched Sully at the 42nd Street movie theater, and spent some time taking in the gorgeous views at One World Trade Observatory.

I was a little leery of the Circle Line Best of NYC Cruise when Mom expressed interest, but it turned out to be one of the highlights. Definitely worth the price of admission. Although, in retrospect, we probably should have sat on the lower deck because we had to really strain and contort ourselves to see everything from the covered upper deck. Other than that, the guide was full of knowledge and always kept us intrigued with stories about each area as we passed through. My favorite part of the tour was passing by Long Island City and seeing our building, but it was also neat to see the Statue of Liberty and the more spacious and grassy areas of upper Manhattan. We also passed through an Amtrak train track crossing area where the bridge holding the train track had to be opened and turned for us to squeeze through. Quite an endeavor to say the least.

Near the end of the tour, our guide briefly discussed the impact of the flight that landed on the Hudson a few years ago. His version only varied slightly from what we witnessed the day before when we watched Sully at the 42nd Street movie theater. It truly is amazing how quickly emergency personnel responded to the downed flight as well as how capable the pilot was in landing safely.  The movie was worth a watch though a bit slow in a few spots. My buddy Tom Hanks is one of the best so I am always happy to support him by seeing his work!

Our final exciting adventure was a trek to take in the beautiful views of One World Trade Observatory. We purposefully arranged to be there just before sunset so we could see the city in daylight AND all lit up. Again, it proved fun for Chris and me to attempt to find our apartment from such a high vantage point. We attempted to get a photo with our building in the background before descending back to street level. Dad even answered a trivia question the guide claimed he'd never had a guest correctly answer before. Bonus points go to anyone that knows the official name of Lady Liberty. Any guesses?

Stop in next week as I present Andrea's Adventures version of Broadway Week. We saw three shows together, but I also recently saw two solo as well. A full week of Broadway reviews is headed your way!

Andrea :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Big Apple Tour with Mom & Dad: Part One

When my parents visit the Big Apple, they sure do make the most of it. We always find something exciting to do when they venture up to the city. This time, we started with a free informational and historical tour of St. Patrick's Cathedral. The tours all begin at 10am though the day of the week varies. The amount of knowledge the guide provided was incredible. We really enjoyed learning more about the beautiful structure. The most interesting Saint we learned about was St. Anthony - he helps when you need to find something that has been lost.

Later in the week, we made our way out to Coney Island for some Nathan's hot dogs and a whirl on the Wonder Wheel. Mom decided not to try the Wonder Wheel when we noticed that the carts actually move as the wheel turns. Dad and I gave it a go, but were terrified once we started moving. We survived, but not without a few yelps along the way. After briefly watching the ocean waves, we were off to the next adventure.

Our sporting event for the trip involved a short train ride to Jersey for a NY Red Bulls soccer match. Chris was excited to share his wealth of soccer knowledge. Mom and Dad hadn't ever been to a soccer match, but they seemed to enjoy it. We even managed to see a couple goals - double the fun!

I made a rice krispie cake for Dad's birthday...and he even found his way to the infamous Marilyn Monroe grate to celebrate!

Stay tuned for part two later this week...and I'll be having my own version of Broadway week on the blog next week!

Andrea :)