November 16, 2015 § Leave a comment
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty,
and meet me tonight in Atlantic City.
Atlantic City, New Jersey: a place I’ve been to only once and actually never thought I’d find myself back in. Until this weekend, that is. The casino atmosphere has zero appeal and I’m not much of a beach dweller (though I love looking at the ocean and walking along the shore), but Connor found himself there on a business trip and I—desperate to escape Princeton for a little while—decided to tag along. As I was cruising down the Atlantic City Expressway last Friday night, I strategically made sure this classic Springsteen song was playing:
While Connor was working I strolled along the ocean (picking up #alloftheshells like my younger self would have done), meandered the Boardwalk, saw a Broadway show (while discovering my inner Elf), and delighted in salt water taffy and the many little surprises and oddities I stumbled upon (like the awesomely creepy Miss America statue across from Boardwalk Hall). I wandered in and out of numerous casinos just to scope out the atmosphere (as unappealing as I find the casino culture, it’s also weirdly fascinating to me, mostly because I don’t understand any of it) and find the coolest/most bizarre slot machine. There’s something delightfully adventurous about being in a city where you don’t know anyone, can freely wander, and have no agenda or anything pressing to think about. Connor was even able to sneak in a little beach time and wandering with me too. And we spent (wasted?) a whopping $5 on a few slot machines, which was amusing…that Britney Spears slot though? Not as “lucky” as I would have thought. Anyway, here are some fun shots from the weekend’s escapades!
October 11, 2015 § Leave a comment
I’ve had a few little birdies lately (you know who you are and thank you!) give me some much-needed encouragement to start writing again and jump back on the blogging train. Well, it worked—I am back!
Though sometimes I still feel like this:
Writing is like a muscle; you’ve got to consistently train and work hard to make it stronger. So in that spirit, let’s get to it! Knowing that it’s been quite a while since I last wrote, take a quick look at the previous post and notice the first item on the Things To Do list: run a 5K or 10K. Well, not only did we sign up for a run, earlier this spring we signed up for a half marathon. A. HALF. MARATHON.
This coming January, Connor and I are going to be heading down to Walt Disney World for the Marathon Weekend to run 13.1 miles through the happiest place on earth. Funny…what I wrote in January on here is exactly what I’ve been saying to myself over the last few months leading up to our first training week: it’s always good to work toward something, right? Very true. I honestly can’t say I’ve had a challenge like this come my way in a while. I’m excited (it is Disney, after all) and a little nervous, but I have my running goal set and I’m determined to finish strong (and have a damn good time while I’m at it).
I also love that the Run Disney Twitter jumped on the encouragement bandwagon with this right after we signed up:
And to quote my Dad: “well, there’s no DUCKing out now.” Ain’t that the truth.
We adapted the Disney hashtag from our trip last October to incorporate a little social media fun into our training. Head to Instagram and check out: #WDWNatConTraining
We’re just finishing up training week five right now and we are rocking it!
January 5, 2015 § 1 Comment
We’re back in New Jersey after a long, relaxing (and much-needed) vacay in Wisconsin. This is also the first post of 2015, which makes it the perfect time for a 15 for 15 list! You all know how much I detest New Years resolutions; they’re mostly false promises that very few people actually adhere to and keep. But in the spirit of the new year, The Boy and I devised a list of Things to Do / Places to Go / Goals to Achieve for 2015. It took us a while to come up with 15 items, but some mindful thinking and Colectivo Coffee seemed to do the trick. Plus, once you write them down/make them public, you have to do them all, right? Here goes nothin’.
Things to Do
1. Run a 5K or 10K / We gotta work toward something, right? Especially for these two former track runners…a little friendly competition is always fun. Next step: picking a run and signing up!
2. Be a tourist in NYC for a day / Despite being in the city quite frequently, surprisingly we haven’t done many of the “must sees,” like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and The Met, just to name a few.
3. Attend a taping of one of the following: Jon Stewart, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, or SNL / …because we like funny people.
4. Find 5 Pinterest projects to complete for the apartment / We have a lot of corks and it’s about time we do something fun with them. #gettingcrafty
5. Make limoncello from scratch / Because while 30 Rock was on, we never made Liz Lemoncello…blergh.
Places to Go
1. Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, DE /We love their beer, the brewery is nearby, and we keep talking and talking about it but haven’t visited yet.
2. Road trip: Maine and New Hampshire / These are the only two states in New England that I haven’t been to and I have a long-standing goal to visit all 50 states before I’m 50…I’m grossly behind my current age and need to catch up.
3. Brooklyn / ‘Cause we all need a day o’ fun in Brooklyn! Plus, there’s so much to explore and The Boy needs to trek across the bridge with me. :)
4. Road trip: Kentucky and Tennessee / I need to check TN off my list and The Boy needs to check both states off his list and hit up the bourbon trail.
5. A Green Bay Packer away game / Since visiting Lambeau Field twice in 2014, we thought it’d be fun to try taking in an away game that’s nowhere near us. We’d get to explore a new city, see a new stadium, and get to see our favorite team play. #GoPackGo
Goals to Achieve
1. Read a new book or play each month / I’m still trying to make reading a habit—I don’t dislike it; I just have trouble finding time…most of the time—but I did really well in 2014 and am upping the ante here. Plus, it’d give me something to consistently write about. See? Now you have something to look forward to.
2. Hit the gym at least two times a week / Our schedules for the next few months are pretty standard (even The Boy’s grad school schedule, hooray!), and for our own health and sanity, it needs to be incorporated into our regular schedule. On a related note: I’m starting to enjoy going first thing in the morning. Who woulda thunk? #nightowlproblems
3. Take the 52-week money challenge / Yes, we’ve seen it circulating on Facebook too and it’s an interesting concept. Though, we’re making a slight tweak: given that the last few weeks (and larger amounts) are in December—the month where traditionally money is most tight—we’re simply saving as much or little as we can each week. Some weeks will be better than others, but each week’s savings is positive and forward progress. #everylittlebithelps
4. Add yoga and stretching to our weekly workout routine / I truly envy the people who do yoga daily. It’s something I’d love to get in the habit of, but I have to start small with this and ease into it. Right now, I’m loving Tara Stiles’ YouTube videos; they’re short, well-shot, and fun. The Routine for a Deep Sleep is one of my faves.
5. Incorporate at least one vegetarian meal into the week’s schedule / We’ve actually done this before, mostly inadvertently. It’ll be good for us and our wallets. Experimenting with tempeh tomorrow…it’s gonna be great! #MeatlessMondays here we come!
Bring. It. On.
N & C
November 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
“What I find most astonishing, I think, is the wonder of daylight, of the sun.
All the centuries, millenniums-all the history-I wonder if that’s why we sleep at night,
because the darkness still…frightens us? …come now; we can begin the day.”
– Agnes, Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance
I still consider myself a relative newcomer to the theater world; particularly in terms of plays and theater history. It’s quite rare for me to see a play that I’ve already experienced (most of what I see tends to be new, or at least new to me). Though I admit, I really do love the opportunity! I like seeing different interpretations of work that I’m familiar with; I can’t really explain why. Maybe it’s because I don’t consider myself artistically/theatrically creative in that way (and that, my friends, is why I work in arts admin), so I’m always intrigued by how others take a classic or “known” work and run with it.
Last Thursday night, The Boy and I had the distinct pleasure of being in the Opening Night audience at Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance on Broadway, starring John Lithgow and Glenn Close. I am not familiar with everything in the Albee cannon, but what I have seen so far I have thoroughly enjoyed (it also helps that my first Albee play was Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton…yeah, incredible!). Our first experience with A Delicate Balance was a few seasons ago at McCarter Theatre in Princeton (with the wonderful John Glover and Kathleen Chalfant), and we were eager to see this play’s return to Broadway. Ok, to be perfectly honest, the show’s marketing image really grabbed me; I’m a sucker for a stylish poster image.
The play was, well, Albee—drinking, dark humor, drama—everything you’d expect. It’s not the play itself that I wanted to write about here though; it’s what happened after the performance that made the whole experience simply humbling.
Since it was Opening Night, there were plenty of photos being taken and flowers handed out at curtain call (here are some pics from Playbill). Then something happened; as the audience was still on its feet, John Lithgow stepped forward and slowly put his hands out indicating that he had something to say. He thanked everyone for being there and acknowledged that we—along with the cast—probably had someone else on our minds that night: legendary director Mike Nichols who had just passed away.
In an incredibly emotional and inspiring speech, Mr. Lithgow enlightened us to the fact that Mr. Nichols made his Broadway debut on the very stage where they were all standing, in the very theater where we all sat: the John Golden Theatre on 8th Avenue and 45th Street. He also told us that Mr. Nichols came to see the show a mere 10 days prior to his death and graciously told the cast that this was the best production of A Delicate Balance he’d ever seen. Actor Bob Balaban briefly spoke about how Mr. Nichols not only gave him his first film gig, but also his first role on Broadway, then proceeded to ask Glenn Close to say something “happy.” [cue audience laughter] She stumbled a little bit, almost at a loss for words. Ms. Close told a brief story about Mr. Nichols and said that when an actor would be done shooting on a Nichols film, he would always sing Happy Trails. And the cast felt it would be a fitting close to their Opening Night performance to honor Mr. Nichols with Happy Trails.
The entire theater broke out in song—it was absolutely incredible! (Broadway.com snagged a little clip and put it on their Instagram. Check it out: Happy Trails) This was one of those rare spontaneous, shared moments that reminds us why we see (and for some of us, work in) theater.
Until we meet again…
November 17, 2014 § 1 Comment
Just. Keep. Walking.
You know, Dory was right: When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Well, for Annie and I, it’s more like Just keep walking (and in keeping with our preferred method of marketing lingo: #imawalkdis)
With our two-year walkaversary (yup, we said it, roll with it) on the horizon and the holidays rapidly approaching, we thought it was time to share our not-so-secret way to decompress, de-stress, and, literally, get a breath of fresh air, all while working in arts marketing at a non-profit (yes, friends, it is possible). Here’s the interview Annie and I conducted…with ourselves.
Natalie J: So, remind me: how did this get started again?
Annie G: Early January 2013, just before the delight that is budget and renewal season.
NJ: Right, right. I believe you said something like: I need your help getting out of the office once a day, every day. To which I naturally responded, Absolutely! And then immediately asked: In any weather? I’m pretty sure you happily (yet secretly reluctantly?) agreed. There was some whining early on and I recall occasionally enticing you with chocolate in one hand and your coat in the other, but you’ve handled the cold weather quite well (says the one from Wisconsin)!
AG: Yes, you enthusiastically agreed to help make sure I did not continue to go into a “budget coma” during the bleak winter doldrums (when I have to work on two budgets simultaneously). It was so easy to say, I’ll just finish this one thing, and then I’ll get up to walk around…and then suddenly it was 5:00, it was dark, and I would have literally not gotten up all day except to go to the bathroom. Not a way to work! I really appreciate the days that you literally stand in my doorway with my coat and wait for me to get up. You also put up with my wimpy New Jersey girl whining about cold temperatures, wind, and otherwise crappy weather. One thing about committing to walking with a gal from Wisconsin is that there are literally no excuses. I think we have only skipped a couple of times during snowstorms or sideways rainstorms. And even then, we still ran up and down the lobby stairs a few times…
NJ: “Ran” can be defined pretty loosely there, I think. It’s more like stair climbing with a purpose…just sayin.
AG: Well…at least our heart rate went up.
NJ: True. Gotta work those glutes! People have often asked us where we go walking…care to divulge?
AG: Ohhh, if I told you, I’d have to kill you and then I wouldn’t have a walking buddy anymore.
NJ: …good point. #mumstheword
AG: Ok, so on our daily walks around an undisclosed location, we chat…
NJ: About a lot of things.
AG: But—mimicking an actual interviewer for a second—you’re around each other all day, don’t you get sick of each other?
NJ: I can’t tell you that in front of you. I kid, I kid…[beat]…are you still the interviewer or are you back to Annie now?
AG: [This was Annie’s exact reaction] …[beat]…what’s said on the walking path stays on the walking path.
NJ: Word. Ok, #butseriously. Most topics range from TV shows, social media, and sports to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness…
AG: It’s normal that we want to talk about work stuff some of the time, but what is really fun about our walks for me is that we can chat about many different things; you are a great listener when I have kid questions, running the gamut from teenager drama to basketball tips/advice for my son (it’s really helpful that you used to play and I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT IT!).
NJ: I love talking basketball with you (and discovering the parallels between sports and arts marketing)! That reminds me—I’ve gotta teach him the fine art of the pick and roll. You mentioned a little about this at the beginning, but let’s take it a step (haha, #walkingpun) further: why do you walk? (we’ll get to me in a minute, standby)
AG: I realized long ago that I am “gym-phobic” —really, who wants to use equipment that other people you don’t know have sweat all over? I much prefer to exercise with my kids, riding bikes or being outside doing something active (now I shoot basketballs!) Walking totally satisfies that! I also love it because it’s rejuvenating and makes me get up from my desk. Guess what? The work will still be there when I get back. I also have to do it because…well, I’m old. You don’t. You’re not old.
NJ: Aww, thanks. It keeps me moving, that’s what I like about it. I’m a pretty active person and just can’t handle sitting all day; I get antsy and a little stir crazy. Just after I graduated college and got a full-time internship at a regional theater in Rhode Island, sitting at a desk all day was quite an adjustment. I’d usually walk from the intern house to the theater every day, but that was only about 2 miles roundtrip; definitely not enough walking for this girl. In fact, I rallied some of my fellow interns that year and we took lunchtime walks too! Wow, I guess I’ve actually been doing this for quite some time now.
AG: See, you’re like the angel of walking! Thanks for getting me off my butt and for sneaking into the Dean’s Garden with me! (Oh, and the budget thanks you too. I was smothering it; we needed space.)
NJ: When I first moved to Princeton, I would go out and walk around town during lunch, mainly to get to know the town a little better. Walking solo can have its own therapeutic, calming benefits, but—even coming from my independent, only-child-self—it gets lonely pretty quickly. It’s really nice to have a walking buddy. There’s a pleasant sense of accountability there, ya know?
AG: Agreed. It’s always nice having someone to dodge the university golf carts with—and it’s good to know you can call 911 for me if I ever get run over by one.
NJ: Random fun fact: I actually typed most of this while walking (and miraculously didn’t trip over anything). Our walks tend to be a “digital disconnect” time too, now that I think about it. Kind of unintentionally I suppose, but it’s nice not to take a break from staring at a screen too.
AG: So, is this it? What’s next?
NJ: Calisthenics in the lobby…[beat]…you think I’m kidding…
November 11, 2014 § Leave a comment
That’s right, we used a hashtag for our Disney trip (thanks for the inspiration, Meghan). Five fun-filled days of excellent food, drinks, and, of course, the kind of magic one can only get on a Walt Disney World vacation. Quick back story: I haven’t been down to WDW in two and a half years; The Boy hasn’t been in 10 years. So, needless to say, a lot has changed and we had plenty of new, fantasmic things to discover. Yup, that’s a top 5 list you smell…let’s get to it!
1. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
Since we were there over Halloween, this was a must-do. The party went from 7p – 12a at Magic Kingdom and was $72 each on top of park admission. The party was a new experience for us both and boy was it worth it! We donned our incredible costumes (hehe #Disneypun) and spent five solid hours running around MK, mostly going on rides and wandering around the park taking in the Halloween atmosphere which we knew would all disappear (magic!) by the next morning. I gotta say, hearing This is Halloween and Thriller blasted throughout the park was pretty awesome and seeing so many people dressed up for the holiday was quite the sight to see!
Especially our Hundred Acre Wood friends:
Here’s one of my better Nikon shots. Love that camera!
2. Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
As soon as we knew this was going on during our trip, our goal was immediately set: to eat and drink around the world. Like the Halloween party, the Food and Wine Festival was a first for us. How long does it take to eat and drink around the world, you ask? Three days. Ok, ok, we split a majority of the food and drinks to save not only our wallets, but also ourselves (Walking around Epcot schnockered in 55 degree weather? No thanks). Epcot is my favorite park as it is and this annual event made it even more lively and fun! Themed kiosks were placed between all 11 countries around World Showcase and, of all 23 countries in the festival, Ireland was our clear favorite. From the Kerry Gold cheese sampler to the chilled Irish coffee with Bunratty Potcheen, we visited this stand multiple times. Germany came in a close second with amazing beer, a refreshing Riesling sampler, and the popular roast bratwurst on a pretzel bun (yes, it was all as good as it sounds).
3. Experiencing the “Firsts”
Even in the two and a half years since I’d last visited WDW, so much has changed (i.e. magic bands). Not only was it great fun to experience a few new things for myself, but I had such a wonderful time experiencing things that were completely new to The Boy too, as well as sharing some of my favorite Disney memories, fun facts, and former cast member insights with him. In addition to the Halloween party, Food and Wine Festival, and magic bands (see below), the other new experiences were all attractions: from battling against each other in Toy Story Mania and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, to commandeering runaway trains on Everest and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (both in the front row!), Soarin over California, and visiting our animatronic friends in the Hundred Acre Wood in the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. There’s really nothing else like being with someone experiencing some Disney magic and thrills for the first time. Experiencing The Boy’s love of thrill rides was also certainly a highlight. Seven “super stretch” limo rides on Rockin’ Rollercoaster? You betcha.
4. The Contemporary
Ah, The Contemporary: 1970s modernity at it’s finest. I kid, I kid. Being on the monorail as it breezes through this resort is just so cool. I tend to have a few Disney tricks up my sleeve most of the time (what can I say, it’s just what I do) and two of them just kind of magically went the way I wanted them to. I wanted to take The Boy to California Grill, the amazing restaurant atop the resort. For the last 2 months, I tried to get a dinner reservation, but was unsuccessful. Back up plan: grab a seat at the bar about an hour before Wishes and then watch the fireworks from there. Done and done (also enjoyed a wicked Woodford old fashioned).
For my own amusement, I was also hopeful to snag a reservation at a character breakfast (Waste precious park time waiting in long lines for characters? Not this former “friend”) …again, I was not successful. Here’ s where the My Disney Experience app came in: I told The Boy my plan, he kept a watchful eye on reservations, and BOOM—we snagged a reservation for Monday morning…that we made less than 24 hours earlier. #forthewin While we noshed on breakfast, we rubbed elbows with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and, our favorite dog: Pluto.
5. Magic Bands
Where to start with these? Magic bands are incredible (just like us, hehe). Disney’s use of technology continues to amaze me. This magical little band is: your room key, park admission, fastpass, photopass, easy-access credit card, and fashionable Disney-branded accessory (all the cool kids have them). The bands can also be synced with the My Disney Experience app which was instrumental in letting us change fastpasses on the fly and scoring the Chef Mickey’s reservation the day before. They do everything! If you haven’t been down to Disney with them yet, just you wait; even entering the parks is its own special form of Disneyness. The magic bands added a whole new level of—dare I say magic?—to our already magical vacation. It was a whirlwind trip, but it was so special and we had such a blast! And are already talking about when our return will be…
October 26, 2014 § Leave a comment
It occurred to me Sunday afternoon, as I was rummaging around in the refrigerator (and noticed that we have four—yes four—cold Wisconsin pumpkin beers), that The Boy and I have not done a pumpkin beer tasting at all this season, and Halloween is only a few days away. Oh. The. Humanity.
So what better time to do a Wisconsin pumpkin beer tasting than during half time of the Sunday night Green Bay Packer game? On tap last night: Lakefront Brewery Imperial Pumpkin, New Glarus Pumpkin Pie Lust, Horny Goat HornyCopia, Stevens Point Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale.
Three ales and one Weiss. We kept the same metrics from last year: color, nose, taste, finish, bottle design, and yes, “pumpkiness.” Ready? TO THE PUMPKIN PATCH (aka…our apartment in Princeton, NJ).
First, we have Stevens Point Brewery Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale. This recent find was shipped it out to us in a special package, along with some New Glarus (I love that the beer stays local, but it makes it really hard for us displaced Wisconsinites to enjoy some of our favorite brewskies). This ale is 7.5% abv and brewed with “real pumpkin and savory pumpkin pie spices.” Both of us agreed this one was a pleasant surprise. Not as much of a pumpkin flavor as we would have liked, but there’s a strong initial spice (not a bad thing) and the finish has a nice subtle pumpkin pie flavor. We’ve already got our eye on the Espresso Stout when we’re in Wisconsin over the holidays.
Alright. Horny Goat. Quick storytime: last December when the temperature was -10 with a double-digit windchill, The Boy and I ventured out to the Horny Goat brew pub just to check it out. We got some loaded tots (ahhhmazing!) and brownie porters (#nomnom). So naturally, when we were at Joe Canals in Lawrenceville, NJ a few weeks ago and saw HornyCopia (Horny Goat is a rarity around here), we were pretty excited. Then…we journeyed into the pumpkin patch yesterday night and were vastly disappointed. It almost tasted a bit skunked at first (?!). As the beer warmed up, it had a slightly better flavor, but this 6.3% abv “pumpkin pie in a bottle” (to quote their website) unfortunately did not live up to our expectations. It won’t stop us from visiting the brewery again, but alas, it came in last on our list.
New Glarus has a delightfully spotty (#cowpun) reputation; it’s the craft beer that’s brewed in Wisconsin and stays in Wisconsin. I highly doubt you can walk into a bar in the state and not find something from New Glarus. The Boy and I visited the brewery last spring when in town for a wedding (check it: The Wisconsin Brewery Mothership) and it was everything we’d hoped for and more…alas, this beer was not one of their best. Were our expectations too high? Perhaps. This Pumpkin Weiss is great for those new to pumpkin beers and who tend to order lighter things (we’re more stout and Belgian-style ale fans). We found it lacked the expected pumpkin flavor; we couldn’t detect at all. It honestly pains me to say that because we love New Glarus. Give us a Spotted Cow, Fat Squirrel (actually drinking one right now, in fact), or Scream IPA any day; this one can stay in the pumpkin patch. But, for those craft beer aficionados who like to keep it local and try different seasonal brews, this is definitely one you should try!
Last, but not least, Lakefront Brewery’s latest seasonal release: Imperial Pumpkin Ale brewed with pumpkin, spices, vanilla, and aged in brandy barrels (I know, right?! #totallywisconsin). This one was a limited release and we weren’t optimistic about founding it out in Jersey, but lo and behold, Joe Canals comes through again! This ale has a higher abv than most of Lakefront’s other brews (9.5%)…which is probably why it came in at the top of our list. Like the others, the pumpkin flavor was not prominent; but the spices and warmth won us over. It’s a nice, stronger alternative to their popular Pumpkin Lager.
Of these four, here’s our ranking: 1) Lakefront 2) New Glarus 3) Stevens Point 4) Horny Goat. Though, I gotta say, in the “pumpkiness” category, none of these was particularly…smashing. Maybe our expectations are too high and we’ve grown accustomed to Southern Tier’s Pumking (only the best pumpkin beer ever) and the imperial pumpkin ale from our local favorite, Weyerbacher. I think we both had higher hopes for all these Wisconsin brews…just like we had higher hopes that the Packers would pull off a win Sunday night. Too soon? #cheeseheadproblems