Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snowy Princeton

On Sunday, December 26th Princeton got quite a bit of snow with blizzard conditions - winds up to 50 mph. We totaled over 14 inches, officially. I took these shots on Monday the 27th after a little bit of shoveling, salting and plowing had already happened. It was nice to see the sun.

With so much wind the trees and tops of buildings were pretty clear of snow, but there were some serious drifts in places, too.

The storm dumped more snow in the NYC area and interrupted lots of travel plans. I decided to head home from my parents house earlier than expected on Sunday and John and Jill decided not to come at all. We were supposed to do family Christmas on the 26th, but we're postponing it until next weekend.

Sylvie and Miriam also had to change their plans to head to NYC and stopped by Princeton a few days earlier than expected. Sadly, I didn't take any photos of their quick visit, but it was great to have them in town.

Even though this storm was pretty hefty for NJ in December, it's still nothing compared to last year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Friend Christmas

Every Christmas I love getting together with some of my oldest friends from middle school and high school. Mike H., Meg, Kim (& Alex) and I have stuck together through thick and thin and always find time to catch up over the holidays. This year was no exception. We all gathered at Kim's brother's house on Christmas night.

This year I got Alex table-top ping pong, which was opened immediately and enjoyed by Mike and Alex. The net and paddles are a little small, but it was still lots of fun. We also all sat around the table and played Quiddler, a new game for most of us, and that was fun, too. It was also nice just to catch up with everyone. I even got to see Kim's parents before they headed back to Philly for the night.

While we were taking group photos I realized that Alex is now taller than me! It was a shock earlier this year when he started high school, but now this is a little bit much. It's amazing that I've known him since he was born. Time sure does fly, and kids get tall!


The next morning, Brian, my other dear friend from middle school and high school stopped by and we headed out for breakfast before it started snowing too much. It was also great to catch up with him as he recently moved to LA and has some great stories to tell.

It's always nice to reconnect with all of these people. We don't get to see each other all the time, but when we do, we pick up right where we left off. That's the great thing about old friends.

Family Christmas, part 1

On Christmas Eve, I dropped Mac off at the train station so he could catch his flight to Houston and then headed down to my parent's house to go out for our traditional Christmas Eve Chinese Dinner. It was delicious as always! After wrapping a few gifts, I headed to bed hoping that Santa would be good to me this year. :)

Well, it was fun to have a relaxing Christmas morning, reading the paper and having breakfast while we waited for my Grammy to wake up. And once she was awake, we started opening presents! My dad is notoriously hard to shop for - what do you get for the guy who has everything? This year, in a flash of genius, I came up with the perfect gift: the DVD of the 1960 World Series Game 7 between the Yankees and the Pirates. My dad has memories of watching this game as a young pirates fan with his dad, so it was neat to watch the game with my dad that afternoon.

Grammy got lots of nice clothes and some other fun gifts. She is so grateful for every gift that she gets. It's really fun to see her open her gifts.

And talk about grateful - or at least surprised - my mom got an unexpected gift this year: an iPad! My dad totally surprised her with this, and you can tell by the photos that she had no idea this was coming! I'm glad I had the camera out to catch this expression:

And one after the shock wore off a little bit:

It was a really fun Christmas morning. The plan was to have John and Jill and their kids and Dan and Mo and their kids come over on the 26th, but those plans got postponed thanks to the foot of snow that we got. I'll be catching up with them next weekend instead.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cheetos-shaped country

During our Thanksgiving dinner with Mac's friends we got into a discussion about our upcoming trip to Costa Rica. Mac said "What snack food does Costa Rica look like?" The answers were all over the place: Fritos? Kettle Cooked potato chips? None? Finally Mac declared that Costa Rica looks like Cheetos (a Cheeto?). We pulled out an iPhone and looked up a map of Costa Rica and even after seeing the map everyone disagreed. We decided what it really looks like it a crab. Well, Mac was insistent. He kept trying to convince people of his beliefs, but no one was taking the bait.

To entice him to sit down and actually make some plans and book the plane tickets I bought a bag of Cheetos and said that I was up to the challenge to eat a bunch of Cheetos until we found one that looked like Costa Rica. I kid you not, the Cheeto pictured above was the first one we pulled out of the bag. It's not perfect (that little peninsula to the south is missing), but it's pretty darn close. I laughed so hard when I saw it!

And yes, the tickets are now booked! I'm already looking forward to getting a tan in the middle of winter!! Hooray! Let me know if you've been to Costa Rica and have any suggestions for the trip.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Flocking

On Sunday night I watched this performance piece that was the result of a collaboration between students in the Program in Dance and Engineering & Applied Sciences. It was quite fascinating. On Sunday the performance was in a building where you had a vantage point from above. You can see people (including me) at the top of the photo reflected in the huge windows.

They had another performance on Monday night and Mac and I decided to participate. It was a really neat experience to be part of the "flock". It took more concentration than I would have imagined to follow just a few simple rules (don't get too close, don't get too far away). The Monday night performance was in a much smaller space, which I think might have worked better, even though it lacked the overhead viewing option.

This was the first performance of this type at Princeton and I hope they do it again. It would be interesting to see how different performers and different spaces affect the outcome.

Emerson turns 4!

My nephew Emerson had his 4th birthday party last weekend! It was Batman themed and the kids loved having masks to wear and flashlights to play with.


Emerson's best friend got him this awesome Batman costume which he wanted to wear immediately! I asked him to give me a good Batman face and this is what he did:

After the party was over I stuck around to give Emerson and Nathaniel (who turns 9 tomorrow!) their birthday presents. Nathaniel was very excited to show me some of his drumming skills:

video

It was a quick morning in Montclair since I had to be back in Princeton to work in the afternoon, but it was worth it!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Family Thanksgiving

My family has been celebrating Thanksgiving on Black Friday for a few years now. When Dan and Mo had to travel a long distance, this gave them an extra day to make it to NJ, and now it just seems to work out the best for everyone, so we're sticking to it. This year it gave my brothers a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving with their respective in-laws and it gave Mac and I a chance to make it to Regina's.

It was a really nice, laid-back day with the whole family. While my mom was setting the table we realized that it would made a really nice matchbook football field, so the punting started, even while the good china was being laid out. My nephews thought that was pretty cool, and I think my brother John was able to flick it the farthest - from one of the table past the other end. Really, quite impressive. Here's my dad showing Sebastian how it's done:

Here's everyone gathering around the table. I didn't get a good shot of everyone at the table (and the one dad is taking here didn't come out), so this will have to do.

My nephew John brought his saxophone with him and played us a tune before we said grace and went around the table saying what we were thankful for.


And there is so much to be thankful for! We had some amazing food! I made roasted Brussels sprouts and an arugula and beet salad - both with ingredients from the organic farm. We also had a wonderful soup, whipped potatoes, a spinach salad, two types of cranberry sauce, delicious bread, broccoli & cheese sauce, sweet potatoes and some turkey! It was all so good.
And after a little cleaning up we had pies!

It was getting late (Emerson was already asleep) and the boys were excited to all sleep together on the pull out couch. This is where they were when Mac and I said good bye. These boys are so cute and so silly!

It was a really wonderful day and a great way to spend the holiday. I'm so thankful for my family and friends! Love you all!

Friday, December 3, 2010

FriendsGiving

On Thanksgiving morning Mac and I headed out of Princeton on our way to Baltimore to celebrate Thanksgiving with Regina, one of his friends from high school, and some of her friends. We planned on stopping by my parents' place to drop off a few things for dinner there on Friday and before we even made it to them we got a flat tire and had to change it on the side of the highway. When we got to my parents' house they insisted on us taking their car to Baltimore because they didn't want us driving all that way on a donut. So after a little bit of rearranging, we were on our way to Baltimore again!

We stopped at our hotel to check in and drop off our bags and then headed over to Regina's. She has an amazingly huge studio apartment and it had no trouble holding a table big enough to seat eight. When we arrived there were already appetizers on the table and the food just kept coming from there. We had a beautiful traditional Thanksgiving complete with turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and so much more.

After dinner Mac made Turkish coffee and we had a fun time reading the coffee grounds to predict the future. We also played tons of fun games including Celebrity and Charades and just enjoyed the company for hours!

A few hours after dinner, Regina decided to whip up some brownies. We were in the midst of playing games and she said "Oh this will just take a minute". So of course, we timed her and she actually managed to get the batter in the pan within a minute. It was pretty amazing. And the brownies were delicious!

So after spending many hours having fun at Regina's, everyone was pretty tired and the guests staying at Regina's house had actually put on their PJ pants. So Mac and I finally decided to head out. It was a wonderful way to spend the holiday.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Final Harvest

The day before Thanksgiving this wonderful local organic farm decided to have a final harvest where people could volunteer to help in the fields picking arugula, beets, parsley, turnips, Brussels sprouts, and any number of other things that were still good enough to eat.

After the harvest, the people who helped were invited to take whatever they needed for their own Thanksgiving meal and the rest would be given to a local food bank. It's such a great idea and is truly a win-win-win situation for the volunteers, the farmers and the food bank. I showed up about an hour and half into the time they had allotted for harvesting and they were already finished (or nearly finished) in the field. They said I could still take whatever I needed and had a donation jar for money to go to the food bank, along with all of the produce. So for a $10 donation I got beets, arugula, head lettuce and Brussels sprouts that beautiful graced my family's Thanksgiving table.

And on top of all that - the farmers also had home made vegetarian soup, fresh bread, hot chocolate and cookies for anyone who stopped by the farm that day. I have to say, I'm kind of in love with this little farm and I look forward to them starting classes in their brand new building in the spring and of course, I'm looking forward to their wonderful produce!