Thursday, April 28, 2011

From bird seed to bees

So, you remember the issue I was having with my upstairs neighbors and their bird feeder, right? Over the past month many people have asked how the bird seed situation is going, so I know at least most of you reading this know what I'm talking about. Let me bring you up to date...

The bird seed situation is actually not so bad anymore. For a while their bird feeder ran out of seed, and I thought maybe they were choosing not to refill it because of the letter the apartment complex sent them regarding the issue. But no, they eventually refilled it. Then they moved it to a different part of their balcony, maybe because that is what the letter asked them to do. But then a week or so later it was back in its original spot. And then one day I noticed an even more significant decrease in bird seed on my balcony, and I discovered that they had moved their bird feeder off of the tall pole/stand it had been hanging on, and it was now sitting on the floor of their balcony. I believe the squirrels couldn't attack it while it was on the floor and therefore it didn't swing back and forth and spill seed ten feet in either direction. That also lasted about a week, and now the feeder is back where it started, hanging up and filled up. But I have hardly found any seed on my balcony for weeks! I guess the birds and squirrels are not as hungry as they used to be.

In the middle of my battle with the bird feeder two floors up, the balcony was invaded by pollen. Lots of it. We had pollen in Boston, but not like this. Maybe it is because we are surrounded by more trees and plants in this apartment than we were in Brighton. All I know is that I did not have an allergy problem until I moved to Atlanta. I was in denial about having allergies, but I finally decided that all of this sneezing, nose blowing and red eyes could only be explained by the massive amounts of pollen outside. And inside for that matter. Roxanne has so much fur and everything clings to it when she goes outside, so I'm pretty sure we have a big ball of pollen just constantly running around our apartment, jumping on our couch and bed.

The pollen isn't as bad as it was a few weeks ago, but of course our balcony problems couldn't end there. It's like they gave us the apartment with the balcony from Hell. Next problem? Bees...lots of big, fat carpenter bees. I saw them buzzing around the ceiling of the balcony now and then, but did not see a nest anywhere so thought we were safe. One day while sitting outside I saw not one, but two bees squeeze up into a crack between two wooden boards. I couldn't believe it. We definitely had a bee problem. We bought a few cans of the bee killer spray and Rob went to work, spraying up into the crack where the bees were living. A few fell out dead right on the spot, success! Rob sprayed again, and again, but still bees were coming and going. He tried swatting them with a broom, and even killed one or two. It was quite the sight, Rob out there standing on a kitchen chair, with bee spray and a broom swatting and spraying bees. Then Rob had a better idea, duct tape. He taped up the entire crack between the boards so no bees could go in or out. There were some pretty angry bees circling the taped off boards later that day. I'm not sure if the situation had been resolved yet or not. The tape just went up this past weekend. A couple of days ago I saw one bee creeping in through a spot where the tape had come a little loose. Rob secured the tape soon after that though, and I haven't seen any more bees since then. I wonder what will invade the balcony next? Stay tuned, I'll let you know.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boston recap

We're back home in Atlanta after our weekend in Boston, and what a weekend it was. It was great to go back and get reacquainted with the T, take all of the touristy pictures we had no reason to take before, and indulge in all of our favorite Boston eats.

Not to sound too much like a ridiculous Southerner, but man was it COLD when we got there on Saturday! Rob in his Patagonia, me in my North Face- the warmest articles of clothing either of us have worn all winter long, and we were ahhh-ing and complaining all the way from the silver-line T stop to our hotel. In our defense it was in the 40s, even people who live in Boston weren't happy about the weather. Luckily the temps warmed up a little on Sunday and Monday.

Big thumbs up to our hotel, the Westin Boston Waterfront, by the way. We didn't know we were staying at the New Balance hotel (elevator doors and room key cards were covered in NB ads, some hotel staff sported NB gear), but it turned out to be a pretty great place to stay for Marathon weekend. Apparently New Balance and Westin have partnered to offer guests a new fitness program, where guests have complimentary use of NB gear (shoes and clothing), in-room fitness workouts, running maps, running guides, etc. They offered special breakfast items at their restaurant geared towards the marathoners, and after the marathon runners were greeted in the lobby with a snack/smoothies/drink bar.

So, lets see how I did on my 10 item checklist/wish list that I came up with last week:
1. Go to Sunset Cantina and have a coconut lime margarita- Check & check...and mmm was it good. Thanks for coming out to sunset with me like old times Rae!

2. Eat in the North End- Check! We had our pre-marathon dinner at our longtime standby/fav restaurant in the North End- Villa Francesca. I knew Boston's little Italy would be super packed the night before the race when everyone wants to fill up on carbs, so I actually made a dinner reservation before we left for Boston. I even got my favorite entree on the menu- fettucine con gamberi.

3. Get a cannoli at Mike's- Check...umm, we bought 8 of them, and the line down the street was well worth the wait.

4. Visit with my ladies from Osborne Path- Check...well, partial check. I got to visit with one of the ladies, Florence, at Dunkin Donuts for a while on Sunday. I would have liked to see all 4 of them at their house, but it was nice catching up with Flo too.

5. Walk through the Common and down Newbury St.- Yes to Newbury St., and No to the Commons...but honestly, it does not look like spring yet in Boston like it does in Atlanta, and I think I would have been disappointed in the lack of green in the Common anyway.

6. See my favorite Boston friends- Check :) It was great to see Rae, Jane, Chris, Millie, Jamie and Jenae this past weekend.

7. Have a beer at Boston Beer Works- Check...blueberry beer, my fav, to be exact!

8. Go to Marsh Chapel- Check- went to the Palm Sunday service.

9. Tapas at Tasca- No...I knew of all the things on my list that this was the most unlikely to happen, mostly because this place is out towards Brighton and not right downtown. But, we did eat at a place I had wanted to try for years- No Name Restaurant. It's an old seafood place hidden in the Fish Pier, in walking distance from our hotel. My grandma talked about this "No Name" place for years and how she had eaten there a long time ago and how great and cheap the seafood was. I'm glad I can finally say I have been to No Name!

10. Battle it out on the T on Marathon Monday and hopefully get a free ride out of it- Check & check! Got a free ride AND a seat, and on Marathon day, getting a seat on the T is pretty much amazing.

On to the more important recap from this weekend- Rob ran an outstanding marathon! He finished in 3hrs 9min 21sec! I am very proud of him. All of the long runs through the Atlanta heat and hills, and his dedication to his training even on early Saturday mornings and late weekday nights. I knew he had the potential to have a great run, but I was very impressed that he was able to shave over 5 minutes off of his finishing time in the NYC marathon this past November. Congrats babe! I don't think I'll ever know what it is like to run 26.2 miles, but being the proud wife of a marathon runner feels pretty good.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I love that dirty water

We're counting down the days until this weekend, because this weekend we'll be in Boston! It will be our first time back since the big move South, and the first time in the past 7 years that we don't have a home to go back to once we arrive at Logan airport. It will definitely be strange and bittersweet flying to Boston and not home to Boston, but also exciting. We started to take one of our favorite cities for granted after living there for so many yeas, and now we'll get to see and experience it from a new fresh point of view.

I've started a list of my favorite things that I would love to do while in Boston. Many of the items on my list involve food/beverages, but can you blame me?

1. Go to Sunset Cantina and have a coconut lime margarita
2. Eat in the North End
3. Get a cannoli at Mike's
4. Visit with my ladies from Osborne Path
5. Walk through the Common and down Newbury St.
6. See my favorite Boston friends
7. Have a beer at Boston Beer Works
8. Go to Marsh Chapel
9. Tapas at Tasca
10. Battle it out on the T on Marathon Monday and hopefully get a free ride out of it

Number 10 on my list brings us to the real reason we are going to Boston in the first place this weekend- Rob's running the Boston Marathon for the second year in a row! On race day I hope that the weather cooperates, Rob is feeling good and has a great run, and that his Dad and I can spot him twice (at mile 16 and 26) throughout the race. Go Rob! I'll be cheering for ya!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Move over Trader Joe's

We have a new favorite weekend dinner in the lineup since we've moved to Atlanta. Have you ever been to Fresh Market? I like to think of it as my much larger, upscale, chain store version of the Dennis Public Market on the Cape, with much, much better produce. Their deli is outstanding, bulk snack/sweets section always tempting, and the prepared foods section is a favorite. I haven't tried anything from their bakery yet, besides onion rolls and sesame seed buns, but I'm sure their desserts and pastries will be the bomb once I do try them.

The steaks and kabobs can get a little pricey, so for our casual weekend dinners we go with the prepared burger patties and pasta salad/veggie side dishes. I've mentioned Rob's love of mushrooms before, so it is no surprise that he always gets the portabella gouda burger. I have tried the bleu cheese burger (my fav) and the bacon cheddar burger. My favorite sides are the dilly cucumber salad, which I plan on figuring out how to make myself, and the cranberry coleslaw (I don't even normally like coleslaw). We aren't allowed to have a grill on our balcony, which I'm sure would increase the deliciousness of the burgers, but our Cruisinart griddler cooks them up real fast and within 10 minutes dinner is served.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A personal rant...

Two words. Opening day. I can't stand it. If there is one thing that did not get passed down from my Dad, it is his love for baseball and opening day. Pro and college football? All about it. Pro and college hockey? Thanks to Rob and going to BU where hockey was our main sports attraction, sure I like it. Basketball? On occasion I will watch it on TV, more so college than NBA. But baseball? I do not remember the last time I sat down and watched an entire game on TV from start to finish.

Maybe it's because I really don't have a strong connection with any one team. My Dad has always loved the Cardinals, and while I sported a Cardinals hat and t-shirt as a toddler, I cannot say my fan support of the team lasted more than a few years.

I spent 7 years in Boston and attended many Sox games during that time. I charged Kenmore Square in 2004 when they broke the curse and won the World Series, attended their celebratory parade downtown and got my picture taken with the World Series trophy. Did I like going to the Sox games? Absolutely! Fenway park itself is reason enough to go to a Sox game. The atmosphere and baseball food and drink and socializing at ball games is great, it's when I'm watching games on TV that I get bored.

My husband is a die-hard Tigers fan. More often than not I cheer for his team simply because I know he'll be in a much better mood if his team wins, but I do not cheer for the Tigers on my own. You can imagine how torn I was over the 2006 World Series with my Dad's Cardinals and Rob's Tigers both in it. If I'm actually at a Tiger's game then sure I'll cheer for them...unless they happen to be playing the Red Sox like they were on July 6th, 2007 the night before Rob's Dad and Kimberly's wedding. Though I was sitting with a group of about 30 other Tigers fans, I was secretly hoping the Sox would win. Didn't happen.

And now I'm in Atlanta, and while I plan to go to a Braves game at some point this season, I promise you I will not become a Braves fan any time soon. I'm really not in any rush to go though. The season is what, 6 months long? A half a year long season with games almost every day of the week? All of you people on my facebook news feed *cough Red Sox and Phillies fans cough* can take a chill pill. That win/loss you had on opening day? Doesn't mean a thing.