Tuesday, July 29, 2008

LA Pics 2 (Details Below)

Rob takes a creative pic from the dance floor. Ooooh, angles.

Rob does a beer ad.

Libby plays catcher.

Libby hits.

Colin hits.

LA Pics 1 (Details Below)

Rob and me before the wedding. Note the blown out hair. Probably my unconscious way of trying to look more like my other twin Nadine. :)

The happy couple -- Susan and Jeff.*

Me rockin' out on the dance floor.

Me and Rob's friend Beth's fiance Matt trying to beckon the rest of our table onto the dance floor. (Not pictured, Rob pointing and laughing at me.)

Rob and his friend Peter rockin' out.

*Note the candles next to the rows of seats. These freaked me out. I made Rob sit on the aisle. I didn't want my dress to catch on fire. I even warned the woman in front of me when I saw her scarf dangling perilously close to the candles. And then I noticed the candles were fake. As in not flames. Yeah, I'm a smart one. Observant too.

A Haircut, a Wedding, a (Few) Softball Games

This past weekend we went to LA for the wedding of one of Rob's good friends from law school, Susan. We were extra motivated to trek out to LA for the weekend so that we could see my twin sister Libby and her husband Colin. This means we'll have gotten to see all of our siblings already this summer. Sweet. (Although we're going to see Lib and Colin at our family reunion in a few weeks anyway.)

Getting out of Chicago was a standard O'Hare adventure. We had six gate changes... with the last two literally being the gates furthest apart in two different terminals. Of course the gate we departed from was much closer to security than the other gates we'd bounced between. But we used the last of my upgrades, so we had a comfy trip and happily slept in our first class seats (and through the seemingly dreadful movie Nim's Island... although maybe it got better after I fell asleep). We got to LA super late Friday night/early Saturday morning. Colin kindly picked us up.

We slept in a bit on Saturday. But not too late. Having the blessing/curse of curly hair means I am constantly searching for a good hair stylist. I had one in DC. Haven't found one in Chicago (although I do love my colorist Jim). So I decided to go to Libby's salon in LA on Saturday since her haircuts have looked very good lately. Good decision. I got a great haircut and a super fun blow out before the wedding.

After my Saturday morning haircut, Rob's law school friend Peter joined me, Lib and Rob for lunch. Then Libby and I got pedicures. (I still owe you money for that, Libby!) And then it was off to the wedding.

The wedding was at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. Apparently the first Oscars were held in the room where the reception was. Way cool. It was definitely one of the most gorgeous weddings I've seen. Everything was elegant and romantic. The centerpieces were amazing but not gaudy. They had creme brulee AND peach cobbler AND wedding cake for dessert. My kind of wedding.

It was also a blast. I loooove going to weddings with Rob because we both take seriously our wedding guest duty to keep the dance floor occupied and energetic. Peter joined out shenanigans on the dance floor, as did another couple at our table (Rob's law school classmate Beth and her fiance Matt). It's always fantastic to have dancing buddies at a wedding. (Nothing can top the dancing bond of Table Number 4 at Bill & Claire's wedding though!) But we had an awesome, awesome time. The DJ was fantastic. The only thing missing was a Kelly Clarkson song. ;)

On Sunday, we slept in while Libby and Colin headed off to a softball tournament. (Colin had played in a tournament on Saturday too!) Then we rolled out of bed late morning to go watch Libby and Colin play. We got there just as they hit their break after their second game. So we all hung out a bit in the crazy hot weather.

Then it was time for game number 3. Libby played catcher, Colin played outfield. We stayed through most of the game and left while they were still ahead. It was very fun. One of their teammates hit an in-the-park home run. Very nice.

We raced back to Libby and Colin's place to grab our bags and then headed to the airport. Of course our plane was delayed. But eventually it arrived. We saw the movie Flawless on the plane, which I found annoyingly predictable but fairly well executed. We landed at O'Hare to find that the gate agent (who moves the gate out to the plane) was MIA. Seriously. So we sat for a fun half hour at the gate before being able to deplane.

Still, we can't complain. We may have been exhausted on Monday, but we had a blast in our (all too brief) trip out west. Next time hopefully we'll get to visit with friends out there.

Pics to follow.

Monday, July 21, 2008

OMG, OMG You Guys*

Tonight was our Top Chef dinner -- a private dinner for four cooked by Top Chef 4's Valerie. We can now say with full confidence that Valerie was kicked off waaaaay too early on her season!

Back in May, Rob and I were at a charity silent auction and successfully bid on a dinner for four from Valerie. We invited our friends Jeff and Sara to join us because the four of us watched nearly every episode of Top Chef 4 together. We ended up picking July 21 as the date for the dinner to suit all of our schedules. The fact that it was also my birthday was an awesome bonus.

Valerie arrived at Jeff and Sara's (we picked their place instead of ours because they have an amazing kitchen) around 6pm. Rob and I showed up shortly after. As Valerie cooked, she shared with us lots of thoughts about Top Chef. We asked her lots of questions about the show and her fellow contestants. She was very open about her unique experience. Although what's talked about at Top Chef dinners, stays at Top Chef dinners!!

Our first course was a fish course -- halibut with sweet potato puree, sweet peas, bok choy, and a miso glaze. I'm not sure you could have designed a better dish for me. It was delicious.

Course 1 -- Halibut.

Then we moved on to the main course -- pork loin over Asian noodles with asparagus and plums in a light, spicy plum glaze. Again, it was a total wow. Perfectly cooked pork. Perfect sweet-spiciness. The plums were phenomenal. Easily the best pork dish I've ever had.

Course 2 -- Pork.

Then came dessert. I'd told Valerie in advance she could go with a creamy dessert, despite Rob's preferences to the contrary, because creamy desserts are my absolute favorite and Valerie was dutifully avoiding creamy foods for the rest of the meal. I'm so glad I did because I have never had better cheesecake in my life. The dessert was topped with fresh whipped cream and fresh cherries in a cherry sauce.

Valerie tops the cheesecake with cherry sauce.

All in all, it was an amazing meal. It was very fun getting to know Valerie in person. She has a lot more personality than we'd seen on the show. It was truly the audience's (and Bravo's!) loss that she didn't stick around longer on Top Chef 4. And we got a second starstruck moment when Top Chef 4 winner Stephanie called Valerie as Valerie was getting ready to leave. Too crazy.

If any of you are looking for a fantastic privately cooked meal, let me know. I will happily pass along Valerie's contact info with our highest recommendations!!!

Rob, Valerie and me post-dinner. (Yup, I am actually taller than her!)

The whole dinner party -- Sara, Jeff, Valerie, me and Rob.

* If you catch the title reference, then hopefully you agree that Autumn totally should have won!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pics from the weekend

I didn't take enough pictures this weekend.

Post-birthday party.

Rob poses at home post-5K. Imagine the lake behind him instead of our tv and fireplace.

And I'm just exhausted post-5K. No posing for me.

Happy Weekending

It's been a while since I've blogged about the basic happenings in our lives -- in part because we've been traveling like crazy people. Last weekend we went to NY to visit my friends Erica and Feroz at their lake house for a weekend. They are expecting their first in the early fall, so we wanted to get some pre-kid chill time with them. We had a blast, and Rob kicked all of our butts at Scrabble.

This weekend was even more jam packed, especially since it's the only weekend in July we're in Chicago. We spent the day yesterday prepping for my birthday party last night, a casual affair with friends at our place. Rob pulled out all the stops to put the fun in casual though. Rob themed the party "Iberian Nights," inspired by last year's trip to Portugal. He bought Spanish and Portuguese meats and cheeses, made some amazing gazpacho, and got paella catered from Cafe Ba Ba Reeba. We served Spanish red wine and Portuguese vinho verde with dinner. Then after dinner we had a port tasting. Rob gave everyone a little port tutorial and then we all tried a white port we'd brought back from Portugal and a ruby, a tawny, and a late bottled vintage ("LBV") we bought this week. We finished the evening off with oreo custard pie from Scooter's, naturally. It was a really wonderful evening. I was so happy to share it with an awesome group of friends.

(We were also glad for the opportunity to show off our new bamboo floors in our bedroom and one of our spare bedrooms. Yea for green remodelling. I'll blog more about that later.)

A Saturday night party did not, however, slow us down in our most important event of the weekend. Sunday morning was the second annual Teb's Troops March on Melanoma. We were so happy to have my friend Nadine, her sister Sally, and her friend Kelly stay with us for the weekend (and join in my birthday festivities) because they were in town for the event. We are also thrilled to report that through the support of our incredibly generous friends and family, we surpassed our fundraising goal by a wide margin and raised over $1200 for Teb's Troops! We were the second highest fundraisers for the event!!!

It was a humid morning, but fortunately the sun was hidden behind clouds, so the 5K run itself wasn't too bad. Rob and I were about 30 seconds off last year's pace, finishing in about 37 minutes. Rob once again played supportive spouse and ran with me at my slow pace instead of trying to clock a speedy time for himself. Most importantly, Teb's Troops raised $50,000 at the event -- part of which is funding a melanoma research grant at my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. Nice choice!

We were able to squeeze a few errands this afternoon too. A Pier One gift card from my cousin and cousin-in-law for my birthday got us a gorgeous new rug for our living room! And we crossed lots of little other things off our to do list as well. We're resting up tonight though because tomorrow is our Top Chef dinner -- Top Chef 4 contestant Valerie is cooking us dinner tomorrow night. We can't wait!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Quick graphic of the day

I am a terrible blogger lately. But to keep you entertained, here's a mind-boggling chart I came across today. Red means Republican appointee, blue means Democrat appointee. As the blog post where I saw this said, "Yes, it's all the fault of those liberal judges!"


Thursday, July 10, 2008

5K for Cancer Research

I'm quite sure that most everyone reading this already got my fundraising email about the Teb's Troops 5K we are running in a week. But just in case you missed it... every cent raised by this amazing volunteer-run organization goes towards late stage melanoma research and patient care.

If you'd like to donate to support our run, we'd be so grateful. You can donate and read more about why we're running here. We are nearly halfway to our $1000 goal! So for those of you who have already given, thank you so much. You are awesome and amazing. Not that we didn't already know that.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

July 4th Weekend

We had a very fun weekend in NJ with Rob's family. Rob's sister Kyle, her husband Taber, and their daughter Lauren picked us up from the airport Friday morning and we all headed out to catch a peak of Kyle and Taber's son Daniel on his last day of Phillies baseball camp. It was great to see him play. All the kids were decked out in full Phillies gear, which was a lot of fun.

While Daniel finished up camp, the rest of us grabbed lunch and then found an ice cream shop with an unlimited toppings bar (which is where we took the ice cream picture below). Needless to say, Lauren loved piling on the different varieties of sugar on her chocolate ice cream.

After the awards ceremony at Daniel's camp, we all headed over to Rob's sister Gena's place for a bbq. We got to meet Gena's fiance Jay for the first time. They're getting married in September. He's a great guy, easy to talk to, kind to the nieces and nephews, and clearly smitten with Gena. Awesome.

We caught glimpses of fireworks going on through the night. We also enjoyed a Guitar Hero showcase from Daniel and Rob. Daniel can play with the guitar behind his back. :)

On Saturday, we hit the mall where Daniel got a crazy cool robot for his birthday from Grandma. Rob and I bought Daniel a USC hat. We also bought a more belated birthday present for Lauren -- a book about sharks and another activity book about ocean creatures. The day before in the car, Lauren had quizzed me for about a half hour on what I'd do if I found myself swimming with sharks.

Then we hit the batting cages and a local arcade where everyone except Lauren took turns hitting. We need to do that more often! Rob's sister Tori and her whole family arrived (by van from Texas!!) later on Saturday. Tori's daughter Lillian is *so* attached to her great-grandma, it's adorable.

On Sunday we all went to Rob's aunt and uncle's Italian restaurant for lunch. Always delicious. Then it was back to the grandma's for some more hang out time before we headed to the airport.

Every time we see Rob's family, I wish we all lived closer. We loved living in Philly and being just a short drive to Kyle or to Grandma and Gena. And back when we were in DC, Tori's family was nearby in Virginia, although now they're in Texas. It's just so much fun to hang out with our nieces and nephews.

Monday, July 07, 2008

NJ pics... details to follow

We're happy to be home, but we had a very nice time with Rob's family this past weekend. We got to meet Rob's sister Gena's fiance Jay for the first time. We also got to see all five of our nieces and nephews at once, which is pure joy.

On Friday, Rob asked our niece Lauren (age 7) to describe him in three words. She picked "silly, cool, and handsome." Awww. So then for me she picked "smart, cuddly, and fun." (Announced while she snuggled up next to me in a restaurant booth. ;) On Sunday, Lauren's brother Daniel (age 9) picked three words for Rob: "crazy, funny, and good." For me, Daniel chose "smart, cool, and awesome." I think my favorite choice was Daniel calling Rob "good." I think it's how a kid would describe Santa Claus. Not sure you can get higher praise than that. :)

Anyway, here are some pics. A full post to follow.

Rob and our niece Lauren show off ice cream smiles.

Me and our nephew Daniel at Rob's aunt and uncle's restaurant.

Me and Rob with our five AWESOME nephews and nieces -- Daniel (who is almost as tall as me at age 9), Aidan, Lauren, Bryson, and Lillian.

Rob and his twin sister Kyle (mom to Daniel and Lauren).

Rob's Grandma with her two great-granddaughters Lillian and Lauren.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Sorry I'm not blogging. I've been busy and sick. Seems like it's just some random virus trying to annoy me. Nothing significant enough to worry about, but just significant enough to make me grumpy, tired, and self-pitying.

Eventually I'll blog about last weekend. My shoutouts to Jess and Tim and Charlie are overdue.

For now, I'm just going to keep feeling sorry for myself.