Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thankful for a day off.

Gosh, I am thankful that I don't have to work on Thanksgiving. (Remember: last year? I have such an appreciation for working for a company that is closed for the holidays).  Dan and I celebrated at my mom's house in NJ as we usually do.  Every year, my mom makes the same food and invites the same people, but that is a very good thing because the meal and company are always top notch. Our special guests this year were my aunt Marylka and her daughter Luba.

Mom started off the night with a speech.

The Madrzak family at the start of dinner. This is what hungry looks like.

Sitting side by side, Ciocia Marylka and Babcia could be mistaken for sisters. Who would have thought?

The table is full of the usual, delicious suspects (mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberries, corn, stuffed cabbage, pork, pierogi, polish salads, etc), but something's missing. THE TURKEY! Earlier that day, Mom cooked two turkeys using rotisserie ovens in the basement. Everything was going according to plan until she went to check on them and saw that the fuse had blown, the ovens were shut off and the turkeys were not ready! Mom downed a gin and tonic and decided to serve dinner without the turkey and stuffing or else everything would get cold. (They arrived to great fanfare 15 minutes later).

Not a huge deal, though. This was my plate BEFORE the turkey and stuffing came out. (I somehow managed to save some room).

As usual, there were plenty of leftovers...which meant turkey sandwiches for days...YUM.

After dinner, we had a choice of NINE desserts and fruit. I came this-close to making Chris Nowak's pecan pie, but I had already bought the ingredients for this golden brown butter and pecan praline tart so that was my contribution instead. (I will make Chris' recipe another time). I am happy to report that it was the first dessert to go.  People can't say no to browned butter.

Ted contemplates nine desserts.

Mom told me that because of the "turkey fiasco" (it was not a fiasco), my sister and I will be cooking Thanksgiving next year, but I don't believe her. Although I would love to do it. Here's Pete and Iza on the couch. This is what full looks like.

After dinner, Dan suffered from full body pain that led to shoulder pain. I think that was a first. As we digested on the couch, Martina entertained us by posing as a model.

Then she wanted to pose with my sister and me.

And then she tried to climb on Dan's head.

It was a happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Dan and I have turned into hermits this month. Our social calendar has been fairly sparse for the last few weeks, and we've been keeping ourselves busy with work, take-out and Family Ties on the Hub.  Dan loves it. As much as my man enjoys going out with his friends, nothing gives him more pleasure than spending the entire weekend cooped up at home in his pajamas.

This past weekend, our biggest excitement was when we picked up a bottle of Beaujolais, a baguette and a hunk of brie from the store--just because. We aren't the type who do that very often. Dan lit some candles in the apartment and put on an Edith Piaf record, and it was like we were sitting in our very own French cafe. After one drink, I dozed off on the couch. I'm romantic like that.

November is flying by so fast. The short days are making me so lazy. I have slept through many a morning workout. It's also affecting the 365 project. By the time I leave work, the sun is already setting, and so my time is limited for picture-making outside these days. Trying to take some non-blurry night photography without flash or a tripod has been an interesting challenge.

Friday, Julie, Meagan and I got together for our monthly homemade dinner. Here is the sick view from Julie's apartment. Same view last time I came over (from her rooftop). This picture is still not perfect, but I've improved, right? My trick for photography geeks: Last time, I held the camera in my hands and used a fast shutter speed to avoid blur. (Not too effective). This time, I placed the camera down on a makeshift tripod (the railing) so that my camera was nice and steady, and then I used a long exposure so that more light came through the lens and created the starburst effect on the lights. I learned about it from Nell.

This picture seems a bit spooky to me.

Took this after work today. Home after dark, sigh.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Going to the Auction

This Sunday, Dan and I crossed something off the bucket list and went to Sotheby's, which is a world-famous auction house just down the street from our apartment. I had never considered going there before, but Dan had heard that the place was like a free museum where the general public could browse the goods before the paddles come out. He was right. The friendly people there advised us to go to the top floor where we browsed Latin American paintings. The only difference between this place and a museum is that the signs next to the paintings told you the current owner (usually a "distinguished private collection in Geneva" or something vague like that) and an estimated value for the painting. All of the paintings we saw went for thousands of dollars, some of them in the million dollar range. It's hard to believe that people have the money to buy a painting at this price let alone have a private collection of them.

If I were in the market to buy a million dollar painting, the paintings we saw weren't particularly the ones I would have chosen. But it was kind of fun to see who was actually there to buy. We spotted a couple with one of the auction specialists who were lingering around a painting and whispering for a long time. Dan and I walked over to spy, but they were very good at whispering.

And then there was this woman who brought her dog. Only in New York.

In order to go to the actual auction, you have to register for a paddle. This auction was scheduled for Tuesday. We were planning to do it for fun but kind of forgot about the whole thing when we got the stomach bug. Maybe it's a good thing. Dan is such a fun pig that maybe he would lift the paddle up in the spirit of the occasion. Sometimes, he can't be trusted.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monkeying Around with Drake

This Saturday was my friend Drake's first birthday party.

Dan and I were the first guests to arrive, so I snapped this before the guests arrived. Doesn't a year go by fast? Drake is now a man. He even walks!

His mom Heather told us that she had food poisoning from the night before and was feeling under the weather, but with all the food ordered, the entertainment booked and the guests coming, she couldn't cancel now. Look at this adorable sock money themed table. It looks like a Martha Stewart magazine spread.

The cake!

When all the guests arrived, we headed to Drake's room for a little sing-a-long.

Drake was a little suspicious about all the fun and games. The other kids seemed into it.


The birthday boy was happiest when he was with Daddy.

Fellow non-moms in the house.

Dan contemplates parenthood or birthday cake. Um, probably birthday cake.

Don't make me eat it, Mom.

Everyone goes home with a sock monkey!

P.S. Despite Heather's stellar event planning skills, everyone at the party, including Dan and I, ended up getting the stomach bug the next day. Of course, Heather feels absolutely terrible, and yet, I told her that it was still a great party and it will always be memorable for everyone who attended! In years to come, we will laugh about it. (We all feel better now!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pete, The Marathoner

Since I ran the marathon six years ago, my brother Pete has been saying that he wanted to do it, too. He's more of a road biker than a runner, but I think the day he watched me run the race and saw the amazing spectacle of runners and cheering crowds on First Avenue triggered some deep desire inside of him. So year after year, he applied via the lottery to get in the race, and year after year, he got negged. Finally, this year, as a result of being rejected for so many years in a row, he got automatic entry.

So, this Friday, Pete came into town to pick up his race number....by bike, of course! (He parked his car by the George Washington Bridge and then biked the rest of the way!) Here he is on the marathon-famous First Avenue (now my street address), two days before the race.

I made fun of his dorky cam attached to his helmet. As anyone who went to my wedding knows, my brother loves to take pictures and document his life, and he does a pretty good job doing it.

We went to Big Daddy's for a late lunch and ate hamburgers and milkshakes and caught up on life. With the exception of my sister, my family members rarely come visit me in the city so it was fun to spend some time with my big brother in my neighborhood.

Dan says Marathon Sunday is the worst day of the year because we live right at mile 17. They start setting up the water station way before the runners get here and so each year, we are awakened bright and early to the sounds of insanely loud music. This year, it was 8 am and Lady Gaga (which was an improvement from last year, which was around 7ish).

Despite Dan's complaints and the early morning wake-up, I am happy we live on the route because I love the marathon. Even though we have a fine view from our window, I ran downstairs with my camera to watch the professionals run by.

I don't know why, but I started getting teary-eyed when I saw the motorcade. Does that happen to anyone else?

Here are the professional women speeding by.

Later came the men. The men's winner, Gerbre Gebremariam, is in the grey hat. Watching these guys give me the chills. They are amazing athletes.

View from my window.

Sun-drenched street.

I spent most of the day working on my computer and tracking Pete's progress online. When I saw he passed the half-way mark, I decided to go downstairs to the street to wait for him, but then the computer showed he was on mile 18! Did I miss him? I nearly started to cry and so I called Pete's cell. He called me back a minute later and said that he was waiting for me at our meeting place at mile 17. The computer was all messed up but it somehow worked out in our favor. I was so relieved!

Dan and I ran to greet him with our sign and an everything bagel with cream cheese (per Pete's request). Pete said he was tired, but he seemed to be in good spirits and enjoying himself.

I watched him on the computer (with a grain of salt) until he finished just shy of six hours. I am so proud of his accomplishment and hope that he took a rest day today.

It certainly inspired me to hit the gym this morning!