Sunday, January 31, 2010

Meeting Miss Susie

It's been a blessed couple of weeks - I've gotten to hold two babies and sort of in the same category, a baby kitteh (more on that to come). First was cutie patootie Olivia and then I had the opportunity to meet Susie for the first time at a girls' brunch (plus the proud papa) on Saturday. It was a gathering of friends from BC, and this was the first time I got to meet
Susie as she was still in her mama's stomach the last time I saw her parents.

Susie literally had our Greek male waiter gushing over her and calling her an "angel from heaven" - most likely due to her baby blues, blonde curls and chubby cheeks:

She didn't let out a peep the whole time we were together, even though we kept pulling away all sorts of interesting things she wanted to hold (like butter packets and salt shakers). She was completely sweet and calm as she was passed along from person to person.

I think this was my favorite photo as Carolyn was holding her - I love the sense of wonder on her face and the way she's pursing her lips:

I only wish that Sarah and Mike lived closer to MA than Long Island!

Thirty Month Anniversary

As per our anniversary tradition, Andrew and I attempted to go to Parish Cafe for dinner tonight, only to find that it had closed early today for one week of renovations. Le sigh.

So we turned around and headed back home to one of our local favorites, Apgujung. Nothing says comfort food to me than Korean food, and fitting enough - as Andrew pointed out - it's one of the places where we order the exact same meal - one order of the asparagus tempura maki for both of us, followed up by a spicy pork okdol bibimbop.

We followed up dinner with dessert at Chill with two orders of natural frozen yogurt with blueberries, strawberries and almonds as we've been on a huge frozen yogurt kick lately.

While it wasn't Parish cafe (we'll go once it reopens as our "official" anniversary dinner), it was a nice way to end a busy and at times, stressful weekend. As I told Andrew's parents today, while I've loved our dating anniversary traditions, I can't wait to celebrate our wedding anniversaries as well! Happy 30 months Andrew, I love you!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Andrew's Cat Conquests

One thing I've noticed in my time with Andrew is that animals love him.

Case and point - Andrew's interactions with my kittie-nephew Ben. Ben is only nice when he's hungry, as in, he'll purr up a storm as he's leading you to his food bowl.

Here's Ben playing the "sniff my finger" game with Andrew:

Here's Ben looking at my hand like what the heck is that doing near me:

This is the grumpy, pissed off face that Ben usually gives me:

Back to Andrew, this is their "bros for life" pose - this may look like it took place on the same day as the first picture, but it's actually another day that Ben leaped onto the table to be close to Andrew:
Andrew's latest conquest - his parent's new kitteh, which remains unnamed. The kitteh likes to nap on Andrew's lap and wait for Andrew outside the bathroom while he showers.
The latest twist - "she's" actually a he! So now we need male names.
I like Simon in honor of St. Simons island. Or Loki, to go along with Thor's Norse name.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sweet Treat for a Cutie Patootie

I appear to be on a chocolate chip baking kick lately - first it was the chocolate chip cookie dough brownies and then Alton Brown's "The Chewy" cookies.

This time, I stuck with an old favorite recipe - Chocolate Chip Cookie bars.

The occasion? I was meeting up with a friend and her adorable baby Olivia and I didn't want to show up empty handed!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
1 1/2 cups of packed light brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine melted
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla (I dropped this to 1 teaspoon and added a teaspoon of almond extract)
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (I used kosher salt)
2 cups of chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13" x 9" pan (I used my Pyrex pan).
  2. Beat together brown sugar, white sugar and butter in large bowl; beat in eggs and vanilla (and almond extract). Add flour and salt, beating until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips; spread batter in prepared pan.
  3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the surface is lightly browned. Cool completely; cut into bars.

I think using kosher salt helps develop a glazed top, similar to the sheen that "The Chewy" cookies had:

But enough about the bars - now onto the really sweet topic of my post!

Walking into Bertucci's, I found that Olivia had grown A LOT since I had first seen her months ago and had grown into a little person. Also, I had to laugh, since she still looks so much like her father Rob. I told Jen that meant that their next child was due to look exactly like her!

Olivia was a sweetheart all through lunch, and enjoyed a healthy lunch of avocado and sweet potato while we chomped down on pasta and sandwiches:

That's her saying, "Umm, Umm, good! I love sweet potatoes!"

Although she may look serious in some of her pictures, I swear she was laughing and smiling the whole time. But for some reason, I wasn't able to capture it on film until I took like 15 minutes straight - it was so worth it!
She even let me hold her for a minute (truthfully, she was fine when she was facing her Momma and I quickly handed her back once she started to fret):
The piece de resistance? Her strawberry hat! I told Jen that now I understood why people say "I can eat you up" to small children - scary, yes, but oh so appropriate when they are this cute!
I told Jen we have to start meeting for monthly lunch dates so I can get my baby fix.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Riding in Style

Monday brought an end to our fun weekend in Georgia, which meant it was time to hit the road back to Jacksonville to hop our flight.

Tommy (the uncle mentioned in the previous post with the fabulous house in Brunswick) had already loaned us an Acura SUV to use for the weekend, which allowed us to ride comfortably in style as we drove all over Darien, Brunswick, St Simons and even to Savannah. However, the ride to the airport topped it all as Tommy drove us in a limo from his car dealership:

I believe it was the Ford Expedition limo, which meant that there was plenty of room for our bags:

You could tell from the interior that the limo was commonly used for wedding and prom rentals:
Although we skipped drinking any bubbly on our trip, we all had a fun time checking out the interior on our hour-long ride to the airport:

Including the snazzy lights on the walls:

I only wish every trip ended with something fun and out of the ordinary, to cushion the return back to reality!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sitting on the Edge of the Brunswick

After the family lunch on St. Simons, we headed off the island to the next town over, Brunswick, to visit Tommy and Ginger, another uncle and aunt of Andrew's. Their house was one of the nicest I had ever seen as they had designed it from the ground up and Tommy had personally spent time finishing all the different wood floors in the house. As nice as the interior was, the exterior of the house was equally as fabulous.
This is the view of their backyard from the second deck of the house - you can see the long dock that leads to the marsh, which is just a few miles out from sea. In fact, during warmer months, Tommy and Ginger often boat through the marshes out to sea to spend time on neighboring islands.
This is the pool, hot tub and gorgeous brick work they also have in the back - what you can't tell from the pictures is that the "pool" is actually filled with heated water (104 degrees) and the "hot tub" has the cooler temps:
I was excited to go on the dock to get a closer look at the scenery:
This is the view of their house from the dock:
As it was low tide, you could see all the marsh mud along the water line - Andrew's cousin Mason described it as the foulest smelling substance if you have the misfortune to fall into it (while jet skiing) but lucky for us, you couldn't smell it the day we were out. And even more scary, it's common for alligators to roam in this area, which is why Tommy and Ginger have installed a special stone retaining wall along their property:
I wished the day was warm enough for us to take the boat out, but it was still a lovely sight and wonderful to breathe in the fresh air:
Obligatory shot of Andrew and I enjoying the view from the dock:
We headed back to the house to lounge on the second floor deck, as it was getting close to dinner. Tom snapped this shot of me taking a picture of Andrew:
And here's the picture that I took:
Here's a shot of how beautifully decorated the deck was - it gives you a clue of how nice the house was overall. There was just enough of a nip in the air to make a fire feel very welcome:

Once the sun started to set, I joined Andrew's cousins on the deck to take a few more shots of the marsh:
It was a beautiful end to a great weekend!

Best. Bread. Basket. EVER!

Based on Amanda's research on Yelp, Barbara Jean's was selected as the site for the last family lunch together and it was the site of my favorite meal all weekend (followed closely by Clary's):

Can I say that I'm still dreaming about the bread basket? Due to our party's large size, we actually ended up being split into three separate tables which meant that Andrew, Amanda, their cousin Ilana and I shared a table. The reason I mention this is because our bread basket came with around 7 pieces of bread and we ate two baskets worth of bread between the four of us! The favorite by far was the pumpkin bread, but the jalapeno cornbread (complete corn kernels) and the wheat roll (sounds boring but incredibly good):

As you may have noted from Barbara Jean's sign, they are known for their crab cakes and so the whole table decided to order them. I was almost tempted by their menu option to have five sides as your meal (I often feel like I enjoy sides more than entrees sometime) but I was swayed by the fact that a simple crab cake meal came with two sides. Andrew and I ended up splitting our sides, so I got to taste four different things.

My 7 oz crab cake with squash salad and ambrosia salad (a heavenly combo of coconut, marshmallow, mandarin orange and pineapple):

Andrew went with the crab cake/shrimp combo with cheesy grits (the only grits that I actually liked from tasting them all weekend, as these were very savory and resembled potatoes) and spinach:

We were really too full for dessert, but yet again, couldn't pass up on the opportunity to indulge in some Southern specialties.

Amanda went with the key lime pie - very good but we both agreed that Clary's still holds the title as best:

Buried under all that whipped cream is peach cobbler - I was able to cajole the whole table into eating some with me:

Afterwards, we headed to a neighboring park to take a last set of family photos. Granddad was the one constant in all the pictures, so everyone took turns taking pictures with him.

This series of Amanda and Granddad was one of my favorites (taken by Tom):

A shot of the four of us (and the lovely green bag that Amanda and Adam got me for Christmas):

Finally, a group shot of everyone that made it out for lunch - Cousin Mason and his girlfriend Jaime; Tom, Amanda and Charlotte; Aunt Sue, Granddad, Uncle Doug; Cousins Ilana and Meredith and Meredith's fiance Adam:

Sunday on St. Simons Island

Saturday may have been rainy but Sunday ended up being nice and sunny and warm.

We headed back to St Simons island for a more thorough tour of the island. After a thwarted attempt to see luxury homes and The Cloisters (luxury hotel) on neighboring Sea Island, we stopped by the King & Prince resort to check out stunning beach views (and for Andrew, Amanda and Tom to reminisce about a past stay) - although clouds had started rolling in at that point, it was still beautiful out.

If you're noticing a funny expression on our faces, I think it's because it took Tom longer than expected to start taking the picture and we weren't sure when we were supposed to smile!
Next, we headed over to Coast Guard beach:

Can I say that it was truly amazing to wear sandals in January and be comfortable? Of course, this is January in Georgia rather than Boston, but it was still cool!

As my sister calls us, a nice shot of JoyceDrew and the beautiful weather behind us:

Amanda truly got into the warm weather, she kicked off her flats and walked barefoot on the beach:

I spent the whole time walking on the beach looking for sharks' teeth. Apparently, this part of Georgia is known for being a popular shark breeding ground (shudder) and Andrew, Amanda and Adam used to find teeth all the time washed up on the shore. Alas, I didn't find a tooth despite my efforts but I did see a jellyfish:

Our last stop before lunch was visiting the historic Christ Church, the second oldest Episcopal church in Georgia and where a famous Georgia novelist - Eugenia Price - is buried:

Again, the atmosphere was incredible, especially with the live oaks and Spanish moss everywhere:

We stopped for pictures in front of a mammoth tree - this thing looked like it had been around for hundreds of years!

I also managed to take a decent shot of Andrew with his family (all that was missing was his brother Adam!):
A passing rain shower convinced us it was time to head into the village part of St Simons to meet up with the rest of extended family for lunch.