Monday, June 29, 2009

Pasta with Pancetta, Green Beans and Olives

This is one of my favorite pasta dishes that is relatively easy to pull together.

All you need is spaghetti, a microwave bag of green beans (if you're lazy like me, these are great!), olive oil, black olives, pancetta, parmesan cheese and roasted garlic cloves (I was lazy again and picked these up at the Shaw's olive bar):

While cooking the spaghetti, cook the pancetta in a frying pan until crispy - place on paper towels to blot grease:

When the spaghetti is al dente, drain, and add back to the pot with all the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.j

Sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top and you're ready to eat! I love this combination because it's got a nice mixture of salty and fresh ingredients.

Bon appetite!

Oh, That's Why

...I never run.

I made the mistake of going for a run with Andrew today.

All my family members seem to love running except for me. My parents both jog - my Dad every day - in their early sixties. My sister runs as a part of her regular workouts. My uncle Rich runs and so does my cousin Andrew (cross country and track). In fact, we used to run in races (5K's) as a family when I was younger.

As my parents tell the story, I was running in one race when I was suddenly passed by a boy in my age group. Since I wasn't going to be in first place, I quit on the spot.

So if this was a story with a lesson to be learned at the end, I would've gone for my run - realized the joy I get from hitting the pavement even when I don't end up in first place - and start running seriously again.

Forget that! Running today reaffirmed how much I dislike it. I say this all the time but it's true - I'd rather walk 20 miles than run 5 miles. Or 2 miles. Walking briskly, I get a workout while having time to survey my surroundings and sort out my thoughts. Running today, I was sweaty, breathing uncomfortably heavy and thinking that the next hill was going to kill me. I had a romantic image of Andrew and I running side by side. like those annoying fit couples that run in tandem and pass you by on the Esplanade. Instead, he left me in the dust after realizing why I insisted on no talking during the run (because I barely had the energy to breathe).

So, it's back to the gym and my favorite cardio machines tomorrow.

This Could Be It...

...our wedding venue site!

Andrew and I both got a really good feeling about this site...

But to avoid jinxing, I'm going to avoid revealing the name of the place until we finalize details and sign a contract!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Reception Site Visit - Gore Place

Out of the list of roughly 15 places we're interested in, I was able to schedule an appointment to see Gore Place in Waltham on Saturday - our first site visit!

The historic home and estate of Massachusetts Governor Christopher Gore (built in 1806), it's actually located just a quick ten minutes away from where we're living right now.

Driving up, we could see that the estate covered a lot of ground and had a lot of nice, big trees. Near the front entrance, there were also a few modest gardens:

In addition, the main path was framed by lanterns (although I don't know whose bright idea it was to use red candles in them!)
This is the mansion at Gore Place - while you can't use the rooms within for the reception, you can use the lawn that borders it as a ceremony site, providing guests with a gorgeous view of the mansion, and the bride gets a changing room within it, in addition to being able to take photos inside and outside:
This is a shot of the permanent tent they have erected on an adjoining lawn:
This is where the reception would take place:
In addition, the rental fee of $5,500 gets you use of the carriage house:
The Gore Place event coordinator, says that it's been used for smaller receptions (under a 100 people) but more commonly, it's used for cocktail hour and by the caterers for set-up. The cool thing about it (although it may bug some brides) is that it features a period Phaeton and carriage inside - neat!

Plus a big room that can be decorated with hung lanterns:
So overall, our thoughts on the place:
  • We liked Catie the coordinator - she was friendly and down-to-earth
  • Although the rental fee seemed high at first, it does get you a ceremony on site, the reception tent, the carriage house, use of 100 white chairs and the bridal suite inside the Gore mansion
  • I think most brides would like the main staircase within Gore mansion as a photo op - very dramatic
  • Gore Place itself was very nice - very pastoral with rolling lawns and tons of flexibility in where you can hold your ceremony on site
  • You can bring your own caterer and bar service on site to the reception site, giving you the option to bring a favorite caterer and a chance to save money by using a bartending service that will take back unused alcohol

What we didn't like:

  • There are only two bathrooms in the carriage house, which is located a couple hundred of feet away from the reception site - like the bride that was touring the site in preparation for her July wedding, you'll probably need to rent port-a-potties. I hate the idea of using port-a-potties at a wedding!
  • You'll have to plan everything yourself in terms of bring vendors on site - there's nothing provided to you by Gore Place other than the tent and the option of using their chairs and tables. Some brides may enjoy this but I'd rather have more details taken care of by the venue.
  • There was no real "wow" factor - everything looked nice and historic, and there was definitely enough trees that it would look beautiful in the fall but still, it just didn't strike a chord with us.

Onto our next site!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jose's Mexican Restaurant

Having dinner with Eva, Chris, Rosie and Robin on Friday night introduced us to a fun new restaurant - Jose's Mexican Restaurant in Cambridge or as they describe it, "North of the Charles, South of the Border."

One of the best things about it is that even though it's tucked away in a neighborhood setting, there's a big, free parking lot next door. There was no missing the restaurant once we parked:

As the first ones to arrive at the restaurant, Andrew and I munched on the yummy chips and homemade salsa that was provided (be warned, we went with medium and it was pretty spicy). This gave us plenty of time to look over the extensive menu:

In the end, I went with trio of vegetarian offerings - an enchilada, a tostada, and a chile relleno:
Andrew went with Jose's Chimichanga:
Here's a shot Chris and Eva enjoying their meals - while Jose's is known for their margaritas, Chris was the only one who ended up trying one. The rest of us went with Coronas or Corona Lights, as it was hot, muggy night that seemed to call for them:
Not the best shot, but that Rosie's arm to the left and Robin across the table - I was getting everyone at the table used to the fact that I whip out my camera at any blog posting opportunity, something Andrew has long been accustomed to:

I forgot to mention that Jose's interior walls are as brightly painted as the exterior, which made a nice backdrop for the picture of Andrew and I that Eva graciously took.
We had a great time eating and catching up, which led to us closing the top half of the restaurant. Knowing that Eva and Chris just got a new dining room table, we parted vowing that we would do a potluck dinner at their place next (and I promised that I would help coordinate it to ensure we see each other on a more regular basis). With the weather warming up again, it's fun to feel like Andrew and I are coming out of hibernation and socializing more!

Getting My Cody Fix

Yesterday, I met up with Kelli and Cody during lunch to make the most of their limited time in Waltham, which is conveniently located close to my office. While I'm excited that they're moving into new digs in Acton, which will be a great place for Cody to grow up in, I'm sad that they'll be moving further away from me - which obviously should've been a major consideration in their housing plans!

I was so surprised to see the little man walking confidentally on his own steam down the path - he was then immediately entranced by the ducks and Canadian geese in the water:

It was nice to finally enjoy some warm weather and blue skies. We tried to convince Cody to help us feed the ducks by throwing crackers in the water, but he held tightly onto the cracker we gave him. It was a clear sign that we needed to go in and eat lunch pronto:

Once inside, Cody was more interested in unwrapping my engagement gift instead of presenting it - as you may be able to see, Kelli had picked the champagne especially for the "J" label on it:

Cody warmed my heart by laughing and chortling over the gift I brought over - soft bowling pins with animal heads (by the way, how cute is his mini Obama shirt?):

We spent the rest of lunch watching Cody play with his various toys, which ended up being musical as well with a hilarious "singing" session and a couple of drum sessions:

I ended up getting back to work late, but it was worth it to spend time catching up with Kelli and seeing Cody in action - he is truly growing up so quickly! I've got to savor his shy smiles, those expressive eyes with the long lashes and those chubby cheeks for as long as I can!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Torn-Up House

I apologize in advance for this post, I think it'll be really boring for everyone except my Dad!

So we've commissioned a friend and former BC classmate - Tim - and his landscaping company to work on the exterior of the house - specifically, to shore up the crumbling corners of the garage, replace bricks in the stairway, reinforce a retaining wall and repave the main walkway.

This is what the walkway looked like when I got home tonight - Andrew's side of the stairs and most of the walkway are in pieces! Luckily, the little patch in the front of the door and my side of the stairs was intact:

This is the corner where Tim and his crew found a big of hive of black and white bees - that's right, black and white. Andrew had been noticing random bees for weeks, and even Andrew's dad Tom noticed them when he was visiting last weekend. Although Andrew had been diligently spraying down the crack in the walkway that the bees had been crawling into, it appears that there was a pretty sizable hive down there. Lucky for me, all the bee carcasses had been cleared away by the time I got home:
Taken earlier in the day, this is how nice the retaining wall looks now that the cracks have been fixed and the whole surface repaved:

Slowly but surely, the house is getting more presentable - if you ignore the weed-covered thing up front that passes as my front yard!

Wildlife at Work

Spotted in my company parking lot yesterday - who says going to work isn't interesting?

Snapper turtles always look prehistoric to me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rainy Days Suck

After experiencing the umpteenth gloomy, cold and rainy June day, I decided to wear a bright color to lift my spirits.

Enter my blue suede (OK, they're corduroy) shoes:

Yes, I know I am ridiculously pale but it was fun to keep catching the bright color of my flats out of the corner of my eye.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Seafood Supper

I was inspired to cook my first seafood dinner after getting a free pound of Gloucester mussels and a swordfish steak from my boss, who had a ton leftover from a weekend gathering.

After searching the Internet for tips on how to cook mussels and some advice from coworkers, I was ready to go!

Here's a bowl of freshly washed mussels:

Here they are sizzling in a frying pan with some melted butter, minced garlic, tomato paste and water (I didn't have any white wine on hand):

As for the swordfish, I treated it like a piece of chicken - I marinated in Italian dressing and broiled it in the oven until tender:

Andrew and I feasted on the mussels, dipping them in melted butter. I gave Andrew the swordfish, since I'm still dipping my toe into the seafood world but have no fear, the leftover chourico/linguica and peppers I had were also delicious.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Boston Prostate Cancer Walk

Continuing a four-year tradition for me (two years for Andrew), we joined Rich, my cousin Andrew, Jeff and Jason in Boston Common for the annual Prostate Cancer Walk. Jason is a proud survivor of Prostate Cancer so we walk each year to support him.

Andrew got handed a random sign to hold during the three laps around Boston Common:

My cousin Andrew was an entertaining walk partner:

Afterwards, we headed to Parish Cafe to dry off, warm up and fill our stomachs! Here are Rich, Jason and Jeff modeling past Prostate Cancer walk t-shirts:
The two Andrews and I mugged for the camera on the other side of the table - I forgot to tell my fiance Andrew to bring last year's Prostate Cancer walk t-shirt from home (this year, the Walk gave out tote bags instead) so he settled for a yellow Sapporo shirt:

Despite the crappy weather, it was nice to continue the tradition of spending Father's Day together in Boston raising money for a good cause.

Saturday Father's Day Celebration

As Andrew and I are walking in the Boston Prostate Cancer Walk on Sunday morning - a yearly tradition we do with my Uncle Rich, cousin Andrew and family friends Jason and Jeff - we celebrated Father's Day a day early with Andrew's parents.

After catching Star Trek at the Boston Common theater, we headed back to Newton to have dinner at what's become one of Tom's favorite restaurants - Apgujung.

Tom opted for scallops, Korean BBQ style at the table:

The rest of us ordered bibimbap in sizzling hot stone bowls - I got it with spicy pork, my favorite, while Andrew and Charlotte opted for beef in theirs:
Andrew shows how much he enjoys eating bibimbap, plus the tokbuki (rice cakes in a spicy sauce) and tempura asparagus rolls we ordered as an appetizer:
Charlotte was a trooper and was brave enough to try some new dishes, including miso soup:

As always, we had a great time sharing and eating the delicious Korean food. Especially since we had a happy ending to the day by having dessert (ice cream sundaes) at Cabot's. Yummy!
Happy Father's Day Tom!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

You may be wondering why this post is going up today, the day before Father's Day.

That's because it is already Sunday in Japan and I've already talked to my Dad to wish him a happy Father's Day:

Here's to the rowdy guy who can sing along with "Sweet Caroline" at Sox games:

Happy Father's Day Dad!

Birthday Celebration Continues

After dinner at Charley's, and a quick stop at JP Lick's for some Yotango frozen yogurt,
We headed over to Cornwall's for some pool:
We took over the middle table for the rest of the night:

After several rounds of gin and tonics and a couple rounds of shots:
We were all having a good time!
As Amy puts it, here's the same old sappy picture that Andrew and I always take (it's because we look so darned cute doing it!):
A similarly cute shot of Amy and the roomies, Phu and Pete:

A fun night to celebrate Amy's big day!