Sunday, July 29, 2007

Did you hear? We went to Spain...

One of the biggest "start your blog" motivators was wanting to share pictures from our trip to Spain. We celebrated our first year together in Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona. Yet the task of sorting, editing, selecting, saving, uploading, captioning, etc proved too tedious. But before we utter another word about what's going on currently, we're airing Spain.

Welcome to MADRID
We arrived at the Madrid airport 4 hour
s later then scheduled after a Seinfeld-esque delay and hopped into a cab for The Westin Palace. I need to take a moment to praise Jason 's planning and hotel selection. The amount of time we had in each city was perfect and the hotels were unreal. There's nothing I like better than being spoiled at a fancy hotel. When we got there, our room wasn't ready so we left our bags and headed over to the Prado (a 5 minute walk).
Jason wowed me with his art history knowledge and we saw some famous works of art. The main entrance is under construction so we had to use this side entrance.

Madrid's largest post office is on one corner of the plaza de Cibeles. It's known as the "Palacio de las comunicaciones" (communications palace, duh?) but is lovingly nick named The Wedding Cake.

Even the streets are beautiful.
We fell in love with the old world feel. Look closely here and you'll see the Museo del Jamon on the left....and this is what it looks like inside. The people of Spain LOVE ham. They eat it cured, sausaged, ham sandwiched...LOVE it.

Plaza Mayor is the main square in Madrid built in 1619 by Felipe III, which is why a statue of him stands in the middle. Much Spanish history was lived in this center: bullfights, fires, royal pageantry (like inaugurating kings), and the public punishments imposed by the Inquisition.
By the way, the sky was this picturesque for entire time in Madrid.It took Jason a little while to warm up to Spanish cuisine. To cushion the fall into the world of tapas, we had ice cream for lunch every day (balanced out with miles of walking) and this was the one MickyD's stop (we were in desperate need of a fountain soda). Ah the joy that comes from a familiar hamburger.
We toured the Royal Palace, the official residence of His Majesty The King of Spain, who makes use of it for official ceremonies but doesn't actually reside there. Although his earlier constituents, Charles III did, and we saw the room he ate breakfast in, the room he ate lunch in, and of course his dinner suite. All much larger than his exactly did they run that empire?

A fountain on the side of palace and the most gorgeous lamp post I've ever seen.

Jason mastered the public transportation so we took a subway out North of the city to check out the Madrid temple. There was a MTC on site, although we didn't see any missionaries...or other people around for that matter. Nothing beats the peaceful feeling that accompanies temple grounds.

Just in case you haven't heard, soccer is kind of a big deal in Spain. Make that the biggest deal ever. Think rich history, hundreds of awards and titles, and high revenue. On our very busy day (notice the same clothes in all the pictures? all the activity afforded our ice cream lunches) we did a self-guided tour of the Real Madrid stadium. We went through various seating levels (120,000 seats), the field, saw where the spot where Tomkat and Posh sit when they come to cheer on Mr.Beckham, and a museum which helped me begin to understand the level of pride associated with this team.

And that was Madrid. We took the AVE (super fast, comfy train) to Seville...and those pictures are coming soon.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Last night at 12:45, Jason came in for bed. "Came in" works because I had been in for 5 hours already. What started out as catching 40 winks at 7:15, turned into a full night of deep sleep. Which is why I stirred when he started him moving my book, the computer, and his work clothes off the bed. My body assumed after 5 and 1/2 hours it was time to get up.

After a few pleasantries. This is our conversation...
Jas: I did something really naughty tonight.
Me: What?
Jas: I ate the rest of the Popsicles.
Me(relieved/indifferent): How many were left!?
Jas(starting to sound a little woozy...over-tired or sugar rush): I don't know 5 or 6.
Me(genuine surprise): Oh my gosh, those have a lot of sugar in them.
Jas: I know but they taste so good and it's hot and...I really like that kind.
Me: Ok, we'll get more.

Red, White and Blue Pops. Not your traditional Firecracker, a more Harlem-esque brand. And at twelve popsicles for $2.99, you can't beat the price. Although I am left wondering what the slogan on the box means...."A Quiescently Frozen Confection"

I'm 95% sure a mistake has been made.
To double check the definition click here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Got a nice little Saturday planned....

As part of our resolution to enjoy ourselves and our summer in NYC, Jason and I hopped on rental bikes and decided to loop our little island. Like any adventure there were highs and lows. Here are some highlights and you can categorize pro/con for yourself.
  • If you pick up the bikes after 6:00, they don't start charging you until 10:00 the following day and then it's only $6 an hour. We picked the bikes up at 6:30, practiced carrying them up our stairs, and then went for ride around central park. We also rode to our friends house to make sure we were prepared for the big trip.
  • Saturday was gorgeous, incredible, amazing... I may over-use these adjectives but really and truly Saturday July 21st can only be described as such. Don't believe me? You can see it in the pictures.
  • Breakfast bagels at Nussbaum and Wu. Yum! A justified carb heavy indulgence in light of the hours we were about to spend pedaling.
  • We ventured up to Grant's Tomb and ate breakfast on Parc Guelle-esque benches decorated in colorful mosaic tiles, inspiring a Spain flash back. We also saw a group of 10 teenagers, from the "hood", practicing ballroom dancing. I'm pretty sure this is one of those "Only in NY" experiences.
  • The path along the Hudson has incredible views of Jersey, The George Washington bridge, the boat basin, etc.
  • Ready for how absurd this is...are you sitting down...I got a citation for failure to dismount my bike, or riding in a no biking zone, or something inane like that. Here's the scenario: Jason and I come upon a gate with a sign posted that reads, "please dismount and walk your bike." Law abiding folk that we are, we both swing off and walk a couple feet, when we look up and see another sign declaring a "shared pathway" with a picture of a walker and a biker. Assuming we cleared the dismount zone, we start on our way again, only to round the pier straight into Officer Cranky. Knowing a female with a point to make when I see one, I immediately apologize and explain the confusing signage. I am chowing down on humble pie, yet she still asks to see my ID. Not with me, I keep my moral ground and tell her my real information, thinking that there is no way I am really getting a ticket. I inquired about a warning policy for first offenses and am cut short by the reply, "It's up to my discretion". See those two people in the upper right of the picture? They're talking to Officer Quinones, who already verbally agreed with us and decided to report a need for clearer signs to his supervisor. And are we still getting a citation? YES....and now Officer Cranky informed me that despite the two vehicles violation, she is only going to give us one citation. Oh, ok, should I kiss your feet now? I wasn't about to go overboard with "thank yous" signaling my agreement that she just did me a humongous favor. So instead I asked her for the location of the court where I could plead not-guilty. Clearly annoyed, she snapped, "The easiest thing for you to do is just pay the ticket." I, maintaining unusual calm, told her that while I certainly appreciated the advice, this ticket was unjust and I needed to present my case to a judge. The reply before she sped off, "Fine I'll see you in court." I can't wait for this one. Dad, what are you doing August 7th? I could use some legal counsel...
  • We continue on passing a Norwegian cruise line and the Chelsea piers complex, to a pier across from the heart of Chelsea. Check out the blue poles in Jason's picture, a stroke of sheer genius... water nozzles at puppy height. Finally a relief station for furry friends. An appropriate place for New Yorkers to take their dogs. Upon review of the image, we noticed the fellow by the water nozzles packed an extra surprise for his morning in the park. Another only in NYC!
  • At Battery Park we enjoyed the blue skies, a perfect view of the Statue of Liberty and a very frozen Popsicle that stuck right to Jason's tongue.

  • Rounding the south east corner of Manhattan we had a scenic view of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.
  • Last time on a bike: borrowing Brent's beach cruiser in San Diego (2004) or the four afternoons Senior year when Thrasher and I tore up Salisbury (2003). It may have been awhile but in my heart I know that old adage "it's just like riding a bike" is true. Some things just come back to you. I was doing great and having a delightful time...and then, amidst the construction and ugliness of midtown east disaster struck. I can't recall the exact thought process or faulty decision. All I know is that I meant to lightly apply the brake and instead clamped down with full force. The bike skidded to a stop, the front shock dipped low, and before I knew up from down, I was approaching the pavement. Call it vanity but my first thought was "Don't land on your face". Forcing my neck back and my arm forward, I banged down on my elbow and skidded to a stop on my shoulder. OUCH! I look up to see Jason coming towards me. By then I'm already crying and he asks, "What happened?" This is a very masculine reaction. A woman comforts and takes care, while a man instinctively wants to dissect the incident. The only reply I can muster, "Just pick me up!" He got me upright and went right away to call a cab. "Wait" I called, "Nothing feels broken." Don't get me wrong, nothing felt good either, but I wanted to finish the last couple miles. My left arm joints hurt a lot, my left knee just a bit, and my right wrist medium. Off we went. What I did not realize was that your arms are quite involved in the riding process. I felt it over each bump and every time we had to start/stop. I made it home and we had ice cream for lunch (that always helps) and Jason took care of me. I took some time, deciding if my pain was normal "my body smacked pavement" pain or an "I injured myself" pain. Yesterday I finally realized medical attention would be helpful so I spent the majority of the day getting opinions and xrays. The final verdict, some obscure elbow fracture; but to quote the stock boy in the grocery store, upon sizing me up, "It could have been worse." Sir, you got it. For flipping over my handle bars it could have been a lot worse. And we still had a perfectly lovely Saturday.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

what i have that's cute....

My husband is so cute and since we don't have any cute baby pictures yet, I'm going to post pictures of Jason. These are some of my favorite memories. This is our first picture together. We had been dating for at least two months, but there aren't always picture opportunities on dates...and I'm just beginning to be a camera person, capturing moments in our lives digitally.

This picture was taken at The Lion House during my cousin Danielle's wedding reception. Jason didn't come as my date. His family was going on a vacation, our stars aligned, and we were in Utah at the same time. This trip qualifies as a favorite memory because it was my first time meeting my future in-laws, although they weren't in-laws at the time. After the reception we drove to Farmington and met Jason's darling parents and little sisters (I already met Deven at the airport). NOTE: I am not writing this next sentence because Mom G may read it. Meeting the Gardners was almost too easy! I already knew I wanted to marry Jason (although I don't know if he was "sold" on the idea at that point...if he was, I didn't know) and therefor was feeling a little nervous. The Gardners instantly made me feel like I had sat at their counter hundreds of times. And now I'm just part of the family.

On our first birthday together, celebrating mine, Jason did something unbelievably thoughtful. I don't know that birthdays were a "big deal" to me. Growing up we always celebrated but as a "grown up" I tried not to expect too much...and I am tough to surprise.

On this September 6th, I assumed we'd go out for a nice dinner but plans weren't discussed...and not because I didn't ask. Jason showed up while I was getting ready, he had to "run get a subway card" and would be "right back". He popped back in 15 minutes to lead me to my birthday surprise. He gave no hints and answered no questions. We left my apartment heading towards the subway station but took an unexpected turn. Jason starting leading me between parked cars right around the corner from my apartment. There was a fancy pants French restaurant right across the street but I couldn't figure out why he'd want to eat there. Jason paused for a moment, turned me around, and said "here it is" or something like that. He surprised me by renting my favorite car, a Chrysler 300M. I loved this car! Every time we saw one that summer I probably made a comment but I didn't realize he was listening. Jason is always this thoughtful. You can see the pride in his face...he loved pulling off the surprise and my delighted reaction.

We took this picture in the cab on the way to the Ray LaMontange concert. It was December 5th, 2005...the day Jason planned on proposing. At the time we were both super-fans and the concert was incredible. Jason wanted to go over to the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park, one of my favorite city places ever since my stay at Mt.Sinai hospital 18 years ago. However the proposal was thwarted by my seasonal sinus infection. I felt tired, had to work the next morning and just wanted to head home to bed. Jason proposed two nights later, after picking me up from volunteering at a soup kitchen. Romantic, right? Concert or not, the evening was perfect and now Columbus Circle is one of my favorite city places because that's where Jason asked me to marry him.

And this is us fresh out of the temple. Extremely happy...which we're learning is not how marriage always is but close enough. Jason is funnier than most people probably know, patient, smart, and loving. It's true that he can't find things and hates to look, likes to stay up too late, is overwhelmed by the very idea of cleaning, questions everything, and could have ESPN on constantly...but I'm getting used to those things. Instead I try to focus on how he always takes the garbage out, loves maps/directions and knowing which way to go, works very hard to figure out my moods, does the dishes, is the perfect travel partner, likes trying new things, keeps track of our finances so I don't have to, and accepts (but doesn't always follow) fashion advice. So far, soooooo good.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Capital Adventures

Last weekend Jason and I took a shuttle flight to Washington D.C and met up with our friends Derrick, Karen and Scott. We left Friday evening and got back Sunday afternoon (the rest of the crew had a couple extra days). Don't let the length of our trip fool you, the expert planning (thank you Callisters) allowed us to be part of some stellar sight seeing. Friday night when we landed, took a super-easy two minute subway ride to our hotel and headed to the Cheesecake Factory straight away. CCF is not only a group favorite but a deep seeded tradition (going back much farther that my life with Jason but I'm gladly a part these days). Staying true to form Jason had Spicy Cashew Chicken and I had a Luau Salad. This fueled us up for a evening in the mall checking out the monuments. My favorite was definitely the new WWII Memorial. Check out the picture of a wall of stars, representing the 400,000 lost lives, reflecting into a pool below. After two hours of walking around Jason and I were pooped, but it was great to see everything (everything being the Washington Monument and the WWII, Vietnam, Korean War, and Lincoln Memorials).

Saturday was gorgeous and sunny, we got up and headed over to Arlington National Cemetery. I had been there in 8th grade but it was nice to go back without teenage attitude and a crush to follow around (John Curley...I was quite smitten). I didn't follow Jason around because I get to go home with him. This time I was able to take in the history, landscaping and significance of the place. All those monuments, graves, tombs for service men and women, astronauts, explorers, nurses, and politicians, many who gave their lives for what they believe in and our freedom...It was an emotional experience.

We then took a break to check out the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian. The place was PACKED. Once through the general geology exhibit, I was about to skip the viewing line to see the precious stones and historical jewels (Marie Antoinette's earrings and a grapefruit sized emerald) to get to the Hope Diamond and on with our excursions. Luckily Derrcik encouraged Karen and I to check them out...INCREDIBLE. Crowns, necklaces, pins and even a ringdent (a ring so flipping enormous that they have to up the name by combining ring and pendant...the first I've ever seen). Then the Hope Diamond...

For the sake of the readers, I'm going to abbreviate the rest of the trip...
Holocaust Museum: A must see, highly recommended, well designed tribute to the Holocaust tragedy. Informative and heartbreaking.

Over to the Jefferson Memorial: My 3rd favorite memorial, after WWII and Lincoln. There's a picture of Jason and I, with a lake and the Washington Monument behind us.

White House...lawn. There was a much smaller crowd there than anywhere else we went, except maybe McDonald's for breakfast.

Cheesecake Factory round duex: This time we wised up and didn't stuff ourselves. We were fully functional after dinner...leaving plenty of room for Coldstone Ice Cream before bed.

The trip was awesome but one side note...I left NYC feeling a little smug. I am quite proud of my continued efforts to pack light and bring all the just in case stuff and outfit options I used to. I packed Jason and I in a medium sized Puma duffel. The bad news this time...I left our camera, so all of these pictures are courtesy of Karen who remains queen photographer. I think they're incredible! (thanks Karen)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Current Loves

Back in college, a WAAAAYYYYYY long time ago, I made a list of "Things to be Happy About". Still cherished as one of my favorite things, it inspired this brief list of things I'm loving right now and am definitely happy about.

1. Lists. Listing helps me feel organized. I want to list everything! Of course there’s the traditional “Things To Do” but I also enjoy listing of people I need to email, my daily/weekly schedules, items that we need, clothing to pack for trips, etc.
2. Our Lint Roller. Smooth, black plastic handle with sheets of tape rolled around each other. Mom (Gardner) gave it to us and it is one of my all time favorite gifts. I love using a layer and then peeling it off to reveal the next clean white sheet ready to pick up lint, dust bunnies, crumbs and hair. To be honest the major use for us is a hair catcher. I don’t really know if this happens to all girls, although my wise friend Rebecca suggested that I tell my husband it is definitely an “all girls do it" thing, but I lose a startling amount of hair…and it gets EVERYWHERE. Jason and I find it on the floors, in drawers, stuck to our skin, all over the bathroom, and even woven through our clothes, which will always be a mystery to me. It is quite irritating but nothing snags it quicker and easier than our wonderful lint roller.
3. Black Raspberry Ice Cream. Turkey Hill hit the nail on the head with this one. It is rich and creamy, yet still tastes light. 100% DELICIOUS! and I pretty much can't stop chowing down. It made a wonderful lunch, although I doubt my nutritionist would agree.

4. The Week Magazine. Jason has had a subscription for as long as we've been married and I just recently started reading it. Usually about 35 pages packed with "all you need to know about everything that matters"...summaries of the Best Columns in the U.S &Europe, the "World at a Glance", and even reviews of the arts. Quite dense, as you can imagine, and
it actually takes me an entire week to finish it.

5. Flower Arranging. This picture is of flowers I put togethe
r for a Sally and Tim's wedding. The truth is I had a LOT of help from my creative-genius mother. She knows all the if you cut fresh roses under cold water they live longer. My inspiration! I started the day by dashing down to the flower district, which is just a street downtown that stocks wholesale flowers. If you pay with cash you get the whole sale rate. Can't beat that! There are hundreds of choices which makes it daunting for a novice like myself. I finally picked dahlias and roses and some decorative accessory flowers to kick it up a notch. Now I walk around constantly trying to decide which may look good together. Long-story-short, I had so much fun and am trying to find classes. Although a colleague recommended to try working in a flower shop for a summer. Hands on learning seems like a good way to go about it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The last page of my childhood has been turned :(

I regret that my first post is with a heavy heart. Yesterday I read an article that said my team, the NY Mets, have plans to release Julio Franco at the ripe old age of 48. You may be asking yourself why this event merits mention. Let me explain. Julio Franco is the last player that is still active on a Major League Baseball roster from my favorite video game as a child. RBI Baseball, the legend of all video games, the game I spent countless hours playing with all of childhood friends no longer has an active player in MLB. I must mention that Roger Clemens is on the game, but he doesn't count. He has un-retired multiple times and sold his soul along the way, he is no longer a real human.

Raise your head high R.B.I. Baseball, you made a marvelous run and gave innumerable hours of joy to thousands of children across the globe. I for one will keep playing on occasion (thanks to the nifty people who have made the game downloadable onto your PC) and think back to my childhood memories, many of which include the immortal R.B.I. Baseball.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Oh No, I Stepped In It

Grocery shopping is one of the "errands" Jason and I love doing together. Last week I made the trip solo because we returned from Spain, to a completely empty 'fridge. So on a typical, steamy NYC summer day I headed up to Stew Leonard’s and the A&P I stock up. After the short 20-minute drive back, I found a parking spot down the block. Wish I had a front and center spot to make toting the groceries a little easier (especially doing it without Jason) but hey, that's part of life in Harlem.

With car parked and trip one completed, I took off to gather round two. I glanced left and started across the street. Just as I went between two parked cars, I felt a slight slide under my left flip-flop. Oh that feeling! Without any conscious thought process, I knew I had stepped in poop. Luckily slide was detected before my right foot had left the ground, so I hadn't stepped down with full force. Still moving I glanced down and instantly felt the threatening heaves of regurgitation. The first time in my life I was left wishing I had stepped in poop. What lay behind me on the ground was.... if you're reading this standing up, definitely sit down...squished RAT road-kill! I'm almost positive that poop is 100 times better than road-kill.

Repulsive. What could I do? Act normal, carry on. I scuffed my foot as much as I could on the sidewalk and tried to act normal. I carried the groceries up and left my beautiful rainbow flops outside the door. That night my hero, Jason, checked the bottom for remains and disinfected them. This is not a tale that can be chocked up as typical for our neighborhood. I have never heard of someone stepping on a dead rat and I can pretty much guarantee I'll be watching to make sure it doesn't happen to me again.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Let the Blogging Begin

the decision to blog has been made and the gardners are in. for the past three days I've been weighing the pros and cons of blogging. i want substance, entertainment, bi-weekly updates, not a post every four weeks. three days is not exactly a torturous amount of time and really it wasn't a tough decision, once we knew we were ready to commit. the tough part came with set-up. here's a run down....

Welcome to

Enter email: no problem.
Password: check.
Name the blog: work in progress with some strong options...still feeling good
Pick a web address: whoa! the address is serious business and i didn't even see it coming. what was i thinking? it's the gateway to a blog, setting the tone, initiating thoughts and feelings. it should be easy to remember and have threads of relevancy. for example, our address could not be because neither jason nor i love spam or have any connection to the mystery meat. i've never even tried the stuff!

jason came to the rescue and we started tossing ideas around. after our first five ideas were pronounced "already in use", it dawned on me that people have been blogging for years and millions of addresses are already in use. i can appreciate that. cosmic fairness. good for them for being in the wave that started the trend. but now what? time to think outside the box and let go of "" or "" (can you tell what a small box i'm in by midnight?)

as more names came to mind and were then unavailable, curiosity set in and i decided to check these "taken" pages out. enter's why. it just doesn't seem right for bloggers (or should i say potential bloggers) to pick "gardnerfamily", a lovely name probably desired by many, and then post once in 2004 "just seeing how this works"! sheesh! this wasn't the only one. some people haven't posted a thing! i wouldn't be surprised is 20% of bloggers start pages to see how it works and never get the momentum rolling. perhaps some of this (roughly estimated) 20% should have taken two or three days to weigh out the situation and readied themselves for the commitment of blogging.

what i know for sure 1. we're committed and 2. i'm satisfied with our address. may the constantgardners roll on.

three cheers for all the dedicated bloggers out there who keep their momentum up and their readers enthralled.