Sunday, December 31, 2017

Highlights of 2017

Lots of life has happened this year! I spent a bulk of the beginning of 2017 back in Kentucky helping my parents as my dad recovered from sepsis. During my time there, it was also discovered that he would need surgery to correct a triple retina tear in his right eye. Despite the hurdles, we had fun spending time together, ate at nearly every restaurant in Owensboro, and managed to see all the Best Picture nominees.

When I returned to New York on Valentine's Day, Chris and I began putting our relocation plans into high gear. I was making networking calls, applying to jobs, and taking phone interviews in a number of cities across the mid-west. Eventually, we narrowed our prospects to Nashville, TN, Louisville, KY, or Columbus, OH. All three cities had advantages and disadvantages. I had a couple of interviews in Nashville, but things just weren't seeming to pan out there. In late April/early May, I spent three weeks at my brother's house in Lexington with meetings in both Nashville and Columbus sandwiched between being auntie extraordinaire, my niece's 5th birthday party, and my other brother's medical school graduation.

There still hadn't been quite as much movement on the job front for me as we had hoped, but we knew moving away from the expense of New York City when our lease expired in August was the right move for us. In mid-July, Chris and I made a trip to Columbus for a week where we both had some really encouraging networking meetings. After spending some time in Columbus, we felt like it was the right place to pursue. We squeezed in some birthday fun with our nephew in Lexington before heading back to New York to pack up our apartment.

After 10 years of living in crazy busy NYC, it was much more difficult that I expected to say goodbye. Once we officially made our decision to move to Columbus in mid-July, I began the overwhelming task of packing up our apartment. It was a small space to begin with so adding boxes everywhere made it especially daunting. In the end, we got it done.

In mid-August, we loaded up our packed to the brim U-Haul and made the journey to Columbus. We decided to rent a townhouse (more than triple the amount of space we had in NY for roughly a third of the cost!!) in Dublin, which is roughly 20 minutes from downtown Columbus. Upon arrival, we promptly bought a car (our 1st major purchase as a married couple) and began our life here.

We drove back to New York for one final week. I was able to complete my Level 3 Improv Intenstive with Magnet Theater, and we hosted a final shindig in our nearly empty LIC apartment. It was a bittersweet week, but we left with no regrets (and one final completely full SUV load of stuff).

We spent a couple weeks getting adjusted to our new life in Columbus - checking out all the local grocery stores, securing our CAPA season tickets, and organizing our new place. We managed an extended weekend trip to Lexington to visit the Ale8 Factory, watch Brinley and Landon play soccer, and tour Old Kentucky Chocolates. On the heels of that trip, God provided an employment opportunity for me at a local YMCA as a youth development director.

I started that position the last week of September and hit the ground running. It has certainly kept me busy while allowing Chris to search for a great opportunity. We also found a wonderful church home thanks to a sorority sister of mine that lives here now as well. We spent most of the last part of the year exploring our new city, visiting (and hosting) family and friends, and simply taking a breath.

Andrea :)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Date Nights - December

December is always just a busy month. It seems to fly by faster and faster each year. We spent about a week in Kentucky between Christmas and a follow-up trip for a UK-UofL basketball game that we were gifted tickets to just before the new year.

For date night, Chris found a great hibachi spot - Shi Chi in Dublin. We loved going out for hibachi in New York so we had been searching for a solid place in Columbus. We definitely found it. After dinner, we played games at Table Top Café. Remember our November date night when we met another lovely transplanted couple from NY? Well, one half of that couple owns this café. It is board game heaven with some tasty treats on the side. I love how they do snack flights - so perfect! We had a great time and highly recommend the Table Top Café in Clintonville!

I found my way back to improv by the end of the year as well. For my date night, we checked out a couple shows at The Nest Theater. My goal is to start classes in 2018. I had so much fun taking the classes in NYC that I don't want to lose momentum here. We had a great night with lots of laughs. Definitely look forward to spending more time at The Nest.

What is your favorite date night dinner spot?

Andrea :)

Monday, December 18, 2017

Downton Abbey Exhibit & A Wedding Reception

We traveled back to New York again in December for a wedding reception of Chris' long time friends - Erin and Sean. We flew into NYC and spent a little time with Chris' family before heading up to Albany. It was perfect timing to be back in NYC because the Downton Abbey Exhibit was still open there. It was really impressive. They had lots of set pieces and costumes, but also several bits of background information on the filming and the historical elements. I spent a solid two hours soaking it all up.

The wedding reception itself was held at an Albany bar called The Hollow. We enjoying catching up with folks and mingling with the bride and groom for a bit. It was a fun way to celebrate with the lovely couple before returning to Ohio.

Have you ever been to a December wedding? 

Andrea :)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Columbus Coffee Trail

The week after our official move to Columbus, I met a new friend at Roosevelt Coffeehouse to chat and network a bit. It was at this meeting, that I discovered the Columbus Coffee Trail. Even though I don't like coffee at all, I was intrigued by the challenge. Plus, Chris loves coffee. I figured it was a win-win for helping us discover various parts of our new city. To get a t-shirt, you only need to have your passport stamped at four locations. We managed to visit five coffee shops before the end of the year.

At Roosevelt Coffeehouse, I had a delicious iced chai tea. It was tasty, but that late August day was the only time I was ever there.

Chris and I went to Fox in the Snow the same weekend we went apple picking toward the middle of September. I had a hot chai tea and didn't particularly care for it. The massive cinnamon roll won me over though.

We went to Luck Bros Coffee in Grandview before church on October 1st. The hot chai tea there wasn't a winner either, but I did enjoy the donut holes.

Red Velvet Cafe was the most adorable little spot. We visited in early November, and I opted for another hot chai tea. It faired the best of all the hot ones I tried, but it still wasn't as good as that first iced one. The cupcakes were a major win though!

We saved the best for last - Crimson Cup. We stopped there in mid-December and it was easily my favorite! It helped that they serve hot chocolate. Super good hot chocolate with fancy whipped cream topping, too! I see myself going becoming a regular there.

Does your city have any local trails to help people better explore the area?

Andrea :)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Photo A Day - December

We had a great finish to an exciting year! We made trips to New York and Kentucky once again - our two favorite places to visit!

Chris helped out with our Breakfast with Santa event at work. I also set up a Giving Wreath which was my most rewarding experience of the holiday season. We decorated our little tree and ventured off to NYC for some winter fun.

We had a great time at another Albany wedding, mailed out Christmas cards, and enjoyed game night at Table Top Cafe.

We made time for Duck Donuts and our favorite Dave and Buster's game before we celebrated Christmas together.

We spent some time in Kentucky before returning to a snowy Columbus. We ended the year playing Nerts with friends. What a great way to end a year of transition!

Andrea :)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Date Nights - November

As winter approached, we spent more time inside continuing to organize the apartment and catching up on various TV shows on the DVR. We were starting to find our groove and really enjoying our weekends at home.

I found a Books & Brews event through Friends of the Worthington Libraries that was a perfect date night for us. We had a great night and even made some friends at the event. We sat next to a couple that moved to Columbus from New York several years ago and had really made a home here. We teamed up with them for the trivia contest. It really is a small world...

Chris found another fun sporting event for us to attend - New York Rangers vs Columbus Blue Jackets. I think we've only been to one other hockey game together. I'm a little foggy on all the rules so it was nice to get a refresher on those. We had fun even though it was quite cold in the arena!

What type of community fundraisers or sporting events do you enjoy most?

Andrea :)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

2017-2018 Broadway in Columbus Season - Part 1

When we moved to Columbus, the absolute first thing on my to do list was to lock in season tickets for the Broadway shows. We arrived just in time to get all signed up and set for five great shows! I was pumped since my favorite part about living in NYC had been the access to Broadway.

Our first show of the season was School of Rock. I hadn't seen the live performance previously though I did see the Jack Black movie version way back when. To say we were underwhelmed is putting it nicely. I'm not sure if we just caught the lead on an off night or what, but he wasn't impressive at all. The kids in the show were incredibly talented and most of the other characters were fine, but we left wondering if the rest of the season was going to be a bust, too.

Fortunately, we didn't have to wait long to see our next show - Waitress. I had seen this one twice on Broadway earlier in the year - including once with Sara Bareilles playing lead! I could not have been happier about the performance we saw in Columbus. Phenomenal talent - and some roles were even funnier (how is that even possible?!?) than they had been on Broadway. I was SO very glad to follow up our first experience with such a fantastic one.

Andrea :)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Hungry Turkey 5K

After such an poor showing at the Hot Chocolate 15K earlier in the month, I was determined to do better. The Hungry Turkey 5K was my shot. It was held the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

We had an exciting first Thanksgiving in Columbus by preparing our Thanksgiving dinner on our own for the first time ever. We had intended for Chris' family to be in town to see our new place and check out the area, but some minor medical issues prevented that from happening. So it was just the two of us. And a massive turkey. And a small ham. And far too many sides. But we laughed a lot and the meal was delicious.

But back to running. On that Saturday, I set out for the start line determined. It was chilly, but not unbearable. The race hoodies they gave participants were amazing! My goal was simply to run the entire race. I'm happy to say that I met my goal. At 12:44 per mile, I wasn't setting any world records, but I was proud. It was a step in the right direction and that is all you can ask.

Have you ever run a turkey trot?

Andrea :)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Hot Chocolate 15K

The idea of running a 15K turned out to be much more fun than the actual running of it. Even though lots of chocolate was involved at the finish line.

I was beyond unprepared for race day. On top of that sad fact, the forecast showed rain. It turned out to be more of a mist than an actual rain, but my socks and shoes were completely soaked by the 5K marker. It was a disaster.

Honestly, the only positive from the entire adventure was the chocolate treats at the end. Those were worth the slog. Definitely a race I want to do over in the future. It had amazing potential, but I just didn't do my part on this one.

What is your least favorite racing experience?

Andrea :)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Photo A Day - November

There sure was a lot to be thankful for this month. The weather stayed nice which was great since we were training for two different races.

It rained on and off the whole time for our Hot Chocolate 15k, but the treat at the end made it all worth it. Seriously - so tasty! I started a round of 21 Day Fix, voted, and we saw our second show as Broadway season ticket holders in Columbus. Waitress was fantastic!

I took a solo trip to Lexington to play with the kiddos and visit Mom and Dad while they were babysitting. We went to a dance at Brinley's school, had a basketball game at the Y, and went to church at Southland. I stuck to my workout schedule and continued to focus on eating healthy. I highly recommend listening to (or reading) Born a Crime - phenomenal.

Chris and I checked out the Columbus Blue Jackets when the Rangers were in town. I finally hung all my race medals - so many memories! The Youth in Government event had me at the capitol building for a few days before we celebrated Thanksgiving. Chris and I made our own turkey dinner (despite a steep learning curve) and WAY too many sides for just the two of us, but it all turned out great!

We ran the Hungry Turkey 5k complete with mega cinnamon rolls at the finish. My cousin, Kenneth, surprised me with a completely unexpected visit. It was awesome to see him after SO many years! I continued to stay on track with my meal plan and drinking lots and lots of water.

Andrea :)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Date Nights - October

By October, I had started my job as Youth Development Director at the Liberty Township/Powell YMCA and we were beginning to get settled into our new life in Columbus.

I learned about a pumpkin painting event at Park Street Cantina via our apartment complex newsletter. It sounded like fun so we signed up. We tried pumpkin carving in the past to mixed results so I thought this might be a little more our style. The event was well organized. We arrived and selected our pumpkins and found a cozy spot to start painting. I chose a white pumpkin and Chris stuck with traditional orange. It was fun to just talk and paint for an hour or so. I loved how the pumpkins looked on our porch, too.

Chris found a Columbus scavenger hunt that gave us clues electronically and we could explore on our own to find different places in the downtown area. We went one day after church and discovered a lot of fun spots. It was interesting to learn more about the history of some of the buildings and areas downtown. It probably would have been more exciting if we were competing against other people in the typical race format of scavenger hunts, but it was also nice to not have to rush despite the crazy wind and threat of rain.

Have you ever been on a scavenger hunt in your city?

Andrea :)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Viva Las Vegas!!

Despite the limited vacation time due to our move and me starting a new job the month prior, we still found a way to sneak away for a long weekend to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. Since Chris had never been to Vegas (and I had no interest in returning unless he came along), we went all in. Ha! Neither of us are much on traditional gambling, but they say there is something for everyone...

The timing of our trip ended up being just a few days after the mass shooting from the Mandalay Bay so that had us a little on edge, but it ended up being quite a unique trip altogether. We stayed at the Tropicana and our first order of business after getting checked in was to find some lunch. We stumbled upon a spot called Bruxie - known for chicken and waffles. We were sold.

Our first night, we went to see magician Mat Franco from America's Got Talent. He was just as incredible as he had been on the show. I loved every second of the show. I've always been fascinated with the smooth nature of magicians and enjoyed the humor Franco brought to the stage as well.

We stopped by to watch the Bellagio fountains do their thing after the show. I enjoyed it, but I think Chris would have been fine moving on. He's a good sport though!

The next morning, we kicked off the day with treats from The Dapper Doughnut before making our way over to the Westgate. Betting on sports is much more up our alley than any of the other array of gambling so we had fun placing a few wagers and then enjoying the games. We won a couple bets, but mainly it was fun to watch all the massive screens with every game going at once.

We spent some time in the afternoon investigating and solving a crime in the CSI: The Experience tourist trap. It was a fun way to pass some time out of the hot afternoon sun, but not something we would do again. I think we envisioned it being more like an Escape Room type set up. In reality, it was probably meant for teens or families with middle school age kids. We made the best of it though.

Our main event - One, the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show - took place at Mandalay Bay. It was eerie walking over there from Tropicana. There was a huge memorial of flowers on one of the concrete islands in the street and the Route 91 concert signage was still in place, but police tape cordoned off much of that specific area. It was all incredibly sad.

One was a fantastic show. Chris was singing along to nearly every song. It was very high energy and quite enjoyable. The acrobatics in the cirque du soleil shows are phenomenal.

The next day we just walked around the strip and enjoyed each other's company. I managed to talk Chris into riding The Big Apple roller coaster that sits atop the New York New York Hotel & Casino. It was a rough ride, but we did it. When my family visited Vegas many years ago, my brothers rode the coaster while I stayed inside testing my luck at slot machines so I was glad to finally see what I had missed out on all those years ago. Turns out, not too much!

We were both ready to relax for a bit after all that adrenaline. As we walked by the CBS Television City store, an employee asked if we watched much TV. We answered a few questions and before you know it, we were part of a paid focus group. Men and women were separated, but we watched an episode of a new show and answered some questions before we went into rooms to provide vocal feedback. It was a really interesting experience. In the end, I don't think the TV show lasted long on the market. I wasn't surprised based on the feedback in the women's room.

We took our profit from the focus group and decided to have a little fun back at the Tropicana. Chris opted for slots while I tried my hand at roulette. Fortunately, I had a couple of nice folks at the table with me because there is A LOT more to it than picking a number. They definitely helped make it less embarrassing for me...even though I managed to double my money. Chris won a chunk as well so we decided to call it quits and grabbed some dinner before our flight back to Columbus.

We had a great time celebrating our anniversary in Vegas! Not sure it is a place we would be quick to return to for a week long vacation, but we were easily entertained for a couple of days!

Andrea :)