Lucas Loves the East Coast!

Exactly 12 months after we met Lucas in DC, he planned another east coast Halloween trip… but this time, he landed in Stamford, CT!! He’s been talking about visiting ever since i moved here and finally he made it a reality.

We started the weekend out with dinner & drinks in lower Manhattan. Then Lee took him out all night in search of some NYC ladies. On Saturday, we were back in CT for a Pizza Crawl. To make it even more interesting, Old Man Winter showed up a few months early in the form of a freak snow storm! But that didn’t stop us from enjoying a surplus of pie at the 4 most famous pizza establishments in New Haven, CT (arguably the best in the nation).

A Priest and a Spaniard walk into a bar...

The snow storm shut down the metro rail so we had no way to get into the city for a friend’s party… but we still got dressed up and hit the streets of downtown Stamford. Per usual, Lucas was in fine form for Halloween (see 2010 archives). And even though our original NYC costume party plans were hindered by the extreme weather, we still managed to have an incredible time that night in below-freezing temps.

 

Brooklyn Bridge

Sunday morning we went to SoNo for a phenomenal brunch at The Brewhouse. We met a married couple from Texas (Brandon & Amanda Lackey) who live in Norwalk. They just moved here this year and they also joined us for brunch, so it was pretty awesome having a table full of Aggies! Sunday evening,Β Lucas and I went back to NYC to do a little sightseeing. I got plenty of pictures of him, but he hates taking normal pictures. So it was a struggle finding something worthy of this blog post. This is the best i got outta him –>

The weekend was a blast and we’re hoping to make “East Coast” a Halloween Tradition… Maybe Boston next year πŸ™‚

Settle down Mother Nature!

foreword: i wasn’t going to write anything about the earthquake, because everyone in Cali was making fun of the East Coasters for our “over-reactions,” HOWEVER, then along came Irene & her annoying little brother Lee. so this indeed deserves an entry. also, Mary Scheske quickly messaged me on GTalk and said “Did you FEEL it? You better blog about it!” So Mary, this one’s for you… sorry for the delay πŸ™‚

Aug 23, 2011, approx 2pm EST: My co-worker Cyd and i are at our desks minding our own business when we feel the building rumble. My first thought was “Whoa! Is that the wind shaking the building?” Cyd responded with “Must be! Do you feel that??” Then here comes Juakeena, walking in the office…
[The room is still rumbling at this point]
Me: Juakeena, do you FEEL that??
Cyd: is it crazy windy outside?
Juakeena: no, i just went on a walk… it’s not windy at all.

I looked out the window to confirm that trees were in fact, not swaying. And then i hit the world wide web. It took me all of 2.3 seconds to confirm on CNN.com and then again on Facebook & Twitter that we just felt the earthquake all the way from the Virginia/DC area!! There was no damage at all here in CT, but i definitely got to FEEL my first earthquake!

Then, Tropical Storm Irene was a’brewin’… and about 5 days later she showed up on our doorstep as a Category 1 Hurricane. NYC & Stamford (where i live) seem to be the only places around here that did not get tore up by Irene.

Trees down in Greenwich, CT

Greenwich was without power for almost 2 weeks, and many streets were completely blocked by downed trees. Norwalk had plenty of flooding. But the major devastation occurred along the central coastline in Milford & Fairfield. Waterfront homes were swept away, neighborhoods were under water, and there were even a few deaths caused by Hurricane Irene. If you’re interested in seeing more pictures of the damage, click here: CTPost.com Slideshow

Right after Irene hit, I had to travel to Texas for work again (not complaining!!) and that’s when Tropical Storm Lee showed up. I was lucky enough to be able to extend my work trip to include some aggie football. IΒ  made my glorious return to College Station, Texas just in time for the 1st game of the season: A&M vs. smu… which resulted in a Win, duh! The only negative was the hurricane-like winds that Lee was churning up in the gulf. Tents were blowing over, EZ-ups were taken down and my hair was just a dang mess πŸ™‚ But the tailgatin’ went on!! We were all set up at 8am and drinking beer well before noon. We didn’t get a drop of rain in Texas, but the east coast got pounded again with tons of rain, courtesy of Lee.

Now here we are in the last week of September, and temperatures are in the 60’s & 70’s during the day, and in the 50’s at night. Yup, it’s officially Fall. Not gonna lie, i really like this time of year here πŸ™‚ It’s hard to believe in two short months we’ll be knee-deep in friggin’ snow. I’m gonna enjoy this while i can!!

Slow-Carb Diet… Success!

Between my sister’s wedding, traveling to Boston, traveling for work TWICE, Will’s 30th birthday, Claudia’s visit to the East Coast and Hurricane Irene… i haven’t had a chance to give any diet updates. But given the success Will & I have both seen, it is incredibly important that i devote this blog post to the amazing Slow-Carb Lifestyle.

To give you an idea of just how awesome it is…

  • Will lost 23 lbs in the 45 days prior to the wedding in Cancun
  • I lost 11 pounds in the 45 days prior to the wedding in Cancun
  • Both Will & I have been back from Cancun for 4 weeks and only loosely following our diet but i’ve managed to keep all the weight off and Will has lost an additional 3 lbs
  • I’m not proud of this, but: I have only worked out twice in the last 28 days.

I’m not to my goal weight yet, but the bridesmaid dress fit and that was the short-term goal!! I’d like to lose another 7-10 lbs of fat and maintain that weight while toning up some more. I’m not getting any younger, and staying in shape isn’t getting any easier. But with the help of the Slow-Carb lifestyle, i’m able to indulge occasionally while still eating only the stuff that is good for my body and that won’t make me hold on to excess fat.

To some people, it might seem like a very restrictive diet. But to me, it seems like the food choices i should’ve been making all along. Slowly, we all develop bad habits. It starts out as a treat every once in a while. A sweet iced tea at Starbuck’s on a hot summer day. A handful of M&M’s after lunch, from the vending machine at work. A bowl of popcorn after work while you watch tv and unwind. Slowly, the treats become habits. And eventually, these habits turn into thunder thighs, an extra belly roll, or a pair of Oprah arms.

While on the Slow-Carb Diet, there is no need for snacking because you are allowed to eat all the lean proteins, veggies and legumes that you desire. You fill up on all the stuff that is good for your body and leave no room for the things that make you flabby. Even if you don’t think you have the will power to stick to it for a long period of time, i recommend you try it for at least 2 full weeks, if you are interested in losing fat. Unless you break the rules of the diet, i guarantee you will see results in that short time period. If you add a gym regime to the mix, you will be blown away!

Ok, i’ll stop preachin’… if you’re interested, google: “The Four Hour Body”… it’s the book by Tim Ferriss. He is the creator of this diet, and all the other tactics he uses to stay fit & excellent in all realms of life. Buy the book. Read it. And decide how you want to apply it to your life. You will not be disappointed.

My Sister’s Wedding – Cancun, Mexico

Robyn & Eric were married on Saturday, August 13th at the Gran Caribe Resort in Cancun, Mexico. This was my very first “tropical” vacation, can you believe it?? Twenty-eight years of life… and the only beaches i knew about were Texas Gulf beaches. (Well, we did go to Panama City Beach, FL when i was a little kid… but i was like 12, i barely remember it!)

The wedding party on the beach

The ceremony was held in an open-air chapel facing the water and the view was incredible. Everything about that day was perfect… even the 10 minute surprise thunderstorm that briefly interrupted the evening reception! The girls wore short, strapless red dresses (with pockets!) and the guys wore tan guayaberas with red embroidery. Robyn looked absolutely stunning, and the white sand, bright blue water and clear skies made for an amazing backdrop.

A few things i learned about Cancun…
1) it’s the hottest/most humid place on earth. like, i was literally dripping sweat just loungin’ on the beach. and the minute i stepped foot outside our villa, my curls would fall and my hair would be damp with sweat from my head. i think i styled my hair 3 times each day. maybe next time i visit Cancun, it won’t be in the middle of Summer.
2) all-inclusive is the way to go! obviously there are different rates for upgraded rooms, etc… but the average cost was approx $100/per person, per day. and this price included all restaurants & bars on the resort (alcoholic drinks too!), free room service, and an awesome villa! it was pretty neat being on vacation and not having to “spend money” – everything was taken care of for us.

We all lucked out, because about a month after Robyn & Eric decided where the wedding would be a “groupon-like” special surfaced on EverSave.com. The deal was $299 for an all-inclusive 3-night stay for two, at the Gran Caribe resort! Even though Will & I had already booked and paid for our stay through the wedding coordinator, we quickly purchased the voucher and canceled 3 of our 4 nights. Since that saved us over $400, we were able to upgrade when we arrived. Our villa was incredible. We even had a private, two-level balcony with a jacuzzi!

It was an awesome trip, my sister married an awesome man… and i promised myself i’d take a tropical vacation every year from now on πŸ™‚

The Boston Beer Marathon trained for us!

oh yes, the Boston Beer Marathon happened again…and this time we showed up with 9 more people! we started at the House of Blues just like last year, but this time we actually made it to Allston for the last 8 bars or so <– major accomplishment!

us with the Beer Marathon Founding Fathers!

i think the best part about this year was having a few Texans in tow… a college buddy of mine, Lee Bernhoft, recently took a job in Stamford, so this was his first chance to get to really party with me, Will and company on the East Coast! Lee had a FANTASTIC time to say the least… and he even started a bro-mance with the charming Mr. Martti Thomas. I even got a call the next morning from Martti and had to text him Lee’s digits! LOL Those two were a match made in heaven! Watch out Southern CT: Lee & Martti are on the prowl! oh yeah, so Lenny has been calling me “T-Toast” (short for Texas Toast) since we met… so it was only fitting that Lee got his own nickname as well: Lee Toast.

Even more Aggies/Texans met us in Boston – Amanda & Brandon Lackey are a couple who recently moved to CT from Cleveland. (Funny story actually: on lee’s 2nd day in CT he was walking the streets of Stamford and he saw a guy unloading stuff from his vehicle which happened to have an “A&M” sticker on it. Of course, Lee was wearing his maroon Aggie shirt so he stopped and introduced himself. Thankfully, since we’re just a friendly bunch of people… Brandon and his wife joined us a few weekends later in NYC for the Lonestar Chili Cook-off. And the rest is history…) Despite Brandon’s horrific case of food poisoning in Boston on Friday night, he was out on the streets with us like a champ on Saturday. It was great being around other Aggies in Boston.

*The Great Boston Experience is becoming so successful that they are planning on duplicating it in other major US cities. It is official… the Big Apple Beer Marathon is scheduled for Saturday, September 24th! The Beer Marathon is coming to NYC πŸ™‚

Cheat Day is the BEST DAY!

Will and I started following the “Slow Carb Diet” in preparation (read: out of desperation) for my sister’s upcoming Cancun wedding in August. This diet is one part of the “Four-Hour Body” lifestyle made famous by Tim Ferriss, in his book by the same name. The main rules are: no white carbs, no flour or wheat products, no dairy, no sugar/fruits and NO CALORIE COUNTING. *i like that last part So we can eat all the lean meats, green veggies and legumes our heart’s desire. (oh, yippie.)

The only GOOD rule this diet has is: cheat day! Cheat day is not just encouraged, but it’s actually REQUIRED on this diet. Because you deprive your body of (let’s be honest) everything that is delicious in this world all week long… you can actually benefit from eating whatever the heck you want one day a week. This spikes your insulin and boosts your metabolism, and quite frankly, it’s the one thing keeping me sane these days.

Here are a few of the delicious treats from our last cheat day:

copious amounts of mashed potatoes
cheesecake brownie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And what cheat day would be complete without excessive alcohol consumption?? We abstained from eating hot dogs and drinking beer on the 4th of July, because it didn’t fall on a cheat day. So the following Saturday was my way of making up for lost time πŸ™‚

BEER

We are 3 weeks into the diet and i’m down a total of 7 lbs. I believe the last time Will weighed in, he was down 13 lbs! Oh, and did i mention i’m only making it to the gym once a week on this diet?? We also took measurements of our arms, thighs, waist and hips, so we’re excited to track all the progress! Overall, i HIGHLY recommend this diet for anyone who is interested in rapid FAT LOSS. This is not a diet for people who just want to drop a few pounds (of water weight) and gain it all back and then some in a couple months. You have to seriously alter your eating habits, and your lifestyle in order for this to work. In the past, i would just hit the gym hard if i wanted to drop some weight. This is my first time seeing success with DIETING!

 

Mom-orial Day Weekend

Stamford Harbor Live - 2011

May 27th 2011 – Mom and Bellum booked an extended weekend stay in Stamford, CT. Saturday we enjoyed the 1st Annual “Stamford Harbor Live” which was occurring right outside my building. There’s a canal that cuts through our neighborhood and leads into the Long Island Sound. Some very smart individuals anchored a barge in the middle of the harbor and got some good bands to come entertain us. They had vendors selling ice cream and other goodies. But the best booth was Fairway Market’s setup – complete with free chips, salsa and guac! (Fairway Market is an NYC based supermarket that just opened a store here in Stamford. They are the only thing around here that holds a candle to HEB.) This was the first year the event has been held, but it’s such a fantastic idea… so i’m sure the crowds will keep coming back year after year.

Sunday we took the train to NYC and enjoyed our first Broadway Show. “Baby It’s You” was dubbed “a baby boomers delight” by the New York Post, so i figured mom & bellum would love it. And we all did!

"Baby It's You" - on Broadway

It was very entertaining and now i think i’m totally hooked. I have a long list of shows that i want to see very soon. After the show we walked to Carmine’s. In case you haven’t heard of Carmine’s (because i sure hadn’t before i moved here)… it’s this fantastic family style Italian restaurant with a location right in the theater district/Times Square. OMG. don’t ever go there with less than 5 hungry, grown-ass adults. The portions are enormous and the food is absolutely delicious. The food is so awesome that it makes the 1-2 hour wait worth it.*

Rock Center Cafe
inside NBC building

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Monday, we went back to the city to do some sight seeing. We had lunch in Rockefeller Plaza. (They turn the ice rink into an outdoor restaurant during the summer months.) Then we took the trek up to the very top of the 30 Rock building. The “Top of the Rock” observation deck as they call it has fantastic views of the city. {Plus, Bellum loves the show 30 Rock. So he was pretty happy}

Central Park - looking North

I was able to talk mom out of a tour bus – it’s so much more fun walking and stopping wherever you want to. Our last stop was at Canal Street in Chinatown. I’ve heard from multiple people that they were able to purchase designer handbags and discount knockoffs from vendors on Canal Street. So i just wanted to see what this was all about!!

Carmine's

 

 

 

It was such a treat to get to have my family here, even for just a few days. Mom and I shopped, Bellum drank beer with the locals at “Bobby V’s” and i got both of them to try Middle Eastern food at Layla’s Falafel!! Mom and Bellum had to fly out on Tuesday morning at 8am. So i woke up around 4 to see them off from the hotel. I was heading home two weekends later for my high school reunion, so mom held it together as we said goodbye (sorta) … “See you in two weeks… Mommy loves the baby!”

*not according to William Davidow

Damn Yankees!

My sweet co-worker, Lisa Haughey, gave me the privilege of enjoying my first Yankees baseball game when she invited me & Will to join her & Nick on Monday, April 25th at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx. The Yanks ended up losing to the White Socks, 2 to nothing. But that didn’t seem to bother us! The seats were amazing… section 210, row 4. We were in perfect foul ball territory and the weather was cooperating, for the most part.

The Beeb at the game

As an added treat, Brett & his wife were heading to the same game so we enjoyed their company on the train ride in. Cool thing about the trains here: On game days, there is an express train called “the clipper” that leaves Stamford and goes directly to Yankee Stadium, no stops! Thankfully, we were able to use our ten-trip passes that we’d already purchased for frequent travel between Stamford & Grand Central. This couldn’t have been easier!

The scene at the Yankee Stadium-153rd train station was incredible. A sea of navy blue and pinstripes engulfed me. People were wearing their classic NY hats or the traditional pinstripe jerseys, or in most cases, BOTH. They were already chanting “Yankee’s Way!” and getting each other riled up, even though we still had a good walk before we were near the stadium. As odd as it may sound… it was the closest feeling to Texas I’ve had since I moved here. I felt like I was in College Station, Texas… walking towards Kyle Field!

The remnants of the old ballpark still live in the shadows of the new enormous structure. Kinda cool, but kinda sad too… the old home plate looked like a little league practice field.

Once we got inside, it was pretty obvious that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. And no matter how many pictures we took, nothing could do this place justice. We settled in with a couple of beers and a large order of the famous GARLIC FRIES. And boy oh boy… all I can say is: Good this it wasn’t our first date! The garlic fries were amazing, as expected. But I kid you not, the taste radiated up my trachea for the next 24 hours. A Hebrew’s National footlong, some chicken tenders and two more $11 beers completed our well-balanced dinner for the evening.

The Grounds Crew doing the Y.M.C.A.

There was a proposal on the big screen and a few famous people in the crowd. During the 7th inning stretch, a few gospel singers came out and butchered “God Bless America” (sadly) and the awesome Grounds Grew came out to comb the field and do the “Y.M.C.A.”

All in all, it was an awesome experience. And for the record… despite going to a Yankees game, I’m still 100% Texan πŸ™‚

 

One year & One week

Super Bowl Sunday marked the one year (plus one week) anniversary of my big move. In conjunction with my 28th birthday… i thought it’d be a great day to have a party πŸ™‚ “Dontcha-think??” Everyone contributed to the delicious spread of food and drinks. I was so busy having a good time that i totally missed Christina Aguilera’s remix of our national
anthem!

The party started like this...
... and ended like this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stef & Will... and Len

We’re doing it again next year… except the Cowboys will be playing for the prize πŸ˜‰

Year in Review

So I moved from my hometown of San Antonio, Texas to Stamford, CT on Jan 30th, 2010 (for work). Year one looked a little something like this:

January 2010 – “Steffers Go Buh-Bye” party… the most amazing group of friends travel to San Antonio and nearly give Cindy a heart attack, LOL. ok so that was just one part of it. when all the food was eaten, the keg was floated and the kitchen was cleaned we headed to Eden to finish off the night! My frenz = top notch, no doubt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/30/10 – SATURDAY: me, mom & bellum leave SA. it was chilly when we left Texas, snow-storming for our layover in Baltimore, Maryland and 19 degrees and SUNNY the morning after when we landed in CT!!

 

 

 

 

2/5/2010 – FRIDAY: i spent my 27th birthday in our hotel room. this was also the end of my first full week of work at the Greenwich office.

 

 

 

The month of March went by without any major milestones. I spent the majority of my time working (a lot of extra hours) and buying things for my new studio apartment. The only items I brought along with me were: three big suitcases of clothes, my car and whatever I could stuff in it!

The one thing that made moving across country for work easier was the blessing of awesome new co-workers! The Interactive Team at the Greenwich Time office consisted of smart, young, hard working individuals. I fit right in πŸ˜‰ They helped me discover good lunch spots, showed me the secret passageway to Snaxx & More (convenience store next door), and introduced me to pub trivia at Tigin! Will, Brett, Keith & Karin were more than great colleagues… they became my first friends!

I was lucky enough to take a quick weekend trip to DC to visit Galen, Michelle & Dan one weekend. This was my first ever Amtrak experience. It was extremely affordable and I would recommend this form of travel to anyone! Here’s a picture of us from the balcony at “Newseum”… and me & Michelle in front of a piece of the Berlin Wall.

 

 

 

 

 

April – mom, Bellum & Robyn come to visit me! my family stayed at the New Yorker hotel and i took the train into the city on Friday after work to meet up with them. Robyn and I went out to Turtle Bay (bar) and Pacha NYC (club) with some of my new co-workers. On Saturday, the family went to Coney Island among other places before heading back to Stamford so Robyn could see my new city. It was so wonderful having my family here with me!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

May – I had multiple visitors in the month of May! During Memorial Day weekend KevRam flew in from Austin and Michelle and Galen took the train from DC. We had a blast hanging out in NYC, going to MoMA, eating good food and hanging out at Lenny’s BBQ for the holiday weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 3 thru 6 – Linz comes to visit! We hung out in Stamford and Norwalk before venturing to the city. We also made our “NY Aggie Club” debut at The Overlook Bar to watch the Ags play (ahem, lose to) Miami in baseball. I proudly take credit for getting to play with Lindsay one last time before she found out she was pregnant with Rylee! We had a wild weekend and I’ll remember it for life πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

more June -Will takes me to see Conan in NYC! If you know me, and you know how much i love Conan… this is a huge deal. Annnnd major points for Will πŸ˜‰ This was my first time, EVER inside Radio City Music Hall!

 

July 4 – Yay! My first trip back to TEXAS, since moving away. Fourth of July weekend means only one thing: Port A Trip with all my favorite people. Sweet Lucas gave me his Southwest Airlines credit, otherwise i’d have to pay over $700 just to fly home! I repaid him with the shirt – err, DRESS – off my back. It was an amazing weekend, and it was so wonderful to spend time with all my friends who i missed so much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 10 – as if i didn’t party enough in Texas… the following weekend Lenny, Will and I drive to Boston for the 5th annual “Great Boston Experience”. This is an all day BEER MARATHON that starts in the shadows of Fenway Park and stops at 26 other local bars and restaurants. This particular year the heaven’s decided to rain down on us, literally. But thank goodness we had our Viking helmets on for protection. We definitely plan on making this a yearly trip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

August – Will, who was born and raised in Greenwich, CT… a mere 40 minutes away from New York City… had never been to the Statue of Liberty. Blasphemous!! In August, we took a trip, and stood in the loooong line at Battery Park toΒ  buy our $12 tickets for the ferry ride to Liberty Island. It was worth it. Not only is it obviously a very recognizable landmark but the view looking back at NYC is breathtaking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

September (Labor Day Weekend) – CAPE COD! Will’s family has been going to Cape Cod every year for as long as he can remember. With his sister, her husband and their son living in Massachusetts, it’s one of the only times the whole group gets to spend an extended amount of time together. This time, i got to join πŸ™‚ We ate breakfast at Percy’s every morning, explored the area during the days and ate dinner at fancy restaurants every night. It was a blast. We even found Cape Cod Brewery and took a tour and drank their beer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October – After a scary Peter Pan bus ride, we arrived in DC for Halloween weekend… but more importantly, for Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity! As an added bonus, Lucas flew to DC for the weekend as well. So we (along with Dan and his roommate) somehow made our way to The National Mall along with approximately a bajillion other humans early Saturday morning. It was a fun event to attend, but in all honesty we were way too far back to see (or hear) any of the action. Later that evening, I had more important issues to worry about: how was i going to make sure my Snooki poof stayed up?!

 

November – With Will’s mom in recovery after back surgery, we cooked up the best Thanksgiving meal we knew how to and delivered it to her rehab center. It wasn’t “Ann’s recipe” but it felt nice to provide her with good food while she was away from home.

Tyler Florence's "Split Turkey Herb Roasted" recipe

After we ate, we headed into the city to watch the Aggies & the longhorns play the annual “Lone Star Showdown”. The New York Aggie club was meeting at Calino Jack’s Cantina but when we arrived, we were shocked. Over 100 Aggie fans packed a small mexican restaurant in Manhattan, just not something i ever dreamed was possible! And just to add some icing to that cake… the Ags won 24-17 πŸ™‚

December – I’d been saving all my vacation time so i’d be able to spend a decent amount of time in Texas over the holidays. My dreams came true and i booked a flight and spent 11 days in San Antonio with my family.