Boston 2016, Days Three-Five

That title … looked a lot less awkward when I wrote it out … Oops.

Not a lot of pictures these days, so that’s why they’re all combined into one post.

Saturday, April 16, was our 5K, which if you really care how it went, go here. Pre-5K, we went back to the Busy Bee for breakfast, and post-5K, we stopped at Starbucks and Dunkin’ for some sugary goodness.

The Starbucks we stopped at was the one on Boylston right near the Marathon finish line, and it had some pretty cool stuff inside …

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How neat is this?

We went back to the hotel to shower and then grabbed a disappointing lunch at Sunset Cantina before heading to Walter Brown to watch my team’s alumnae game.

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I’m really thankful I didn’t play, as there were NO former club players who played; just ladies from the D-1 era. I would have gotten my ass kicked. The whole day really was kind of depressing …

After the game, we headed back to the hotel for a minute before going back down towards Copley to meet Nic for dinner at Legal Sea Foods.

On Sunday, April 17, we went for a literal donut and coffee run.

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Seen in Coolidge Corner.

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Twin Donuts.

Got back to the hotel, showered, and busted our ass over to Porter Square to check out the deliciousness that is Bagelsaurus.

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Ha.

We took our bagels to go and transferred over from the Red to the Orange line (quite possibly only the second time in my life I’ve taken the Orange) to head to Somerville to see my first college roommate, Courtney. We hung out with her for a couple of hours before needing to head back to our hotel to change and get ready for Blue Man Group. Blue Man doesn’t allow photography, so that’s why you see nothing here.

Blue Man, by the way, was a first for me. Brandon had seen them before (and had been trying to talk me into going for years), but I hadn’t. I’m glad that I went. I loved the music and the artistry of it. We joked that it was musical theater for men. Now that I have gone, I do say that I would go again, but not for several years, especially since Brandon said it was a very, very similar show to the last one he had seen years prior.

We got a bite before Blue Man at D’Angelo’s, but that was really just enough to stave off hunger; we were ravenous after the show. Off to T. Anthony’s it was (and Angora …) and a stop in a bookstore in Coolidge Corner on the way back to the hotel.

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Coolidge Corner Theater.

Monday, April 18, was Marathon Day (also Patriots’ Day). We woke up, ate breakfast at the hotel, and then headed over to FitRec to get in a nice lift at an amazing facility … that opened up way too late senior year. Silly BU. After that, a quick stop back at the hotel to shower and change before heading down to our cheering spot between 40K and mile 25.

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Neely Spence Gracey, first American woman.

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One of the top men. Look at that form!

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That mascot head is Sam the Minuteman from UMass(-Amherst). Kind of fitting he was out and about on Patriots’ Day …

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Norm coming in for a hug. He raced the 5K with us on Saturday and took the Marathon easy … which for him was still a 2:50.

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A friend of ours from Colorado, D.J., going through a rough stretch.

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Friend and realtor Susie leaving us. She later said we were her “Mile 25 angels.”

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On the left in white, our MaccaX buddy Simon.

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Kidlet perspective.

After cheering, we were pretty hungry, so we grabbed some pizza from T. Anthony’s and then headed to Spike’s for their cheesy poodle fries.

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Dinner … ended up not really being a thing that day, but we did grab a drink at the iconic Dugout Cafe on the BU campus.

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Honeymoon Trip: Post Nine

20 Sept. 2012
7:47 am Denver time

Well, back on an airplane – this time back to the USA. Last I wrote, I was still in London and getting ready to start our last day. Well, last full day at least.

When I stopped journaling, we left the hotel and started walking our normal route – down Piccadilly toward Piccadilly Circus. We turned right at Regent St. and headed down toward the Thames. We made a turn at St. James Park … but went the wrong way. It wasn’t a big detour, but a little one, and we got to see the backside of Westminster Abbey (although, it may really have been the front), which was cool.

From there, we headed past Parliament
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and across the Thames, with the Imperial War Museum being our destination/goal. Dad suggested it and it was free, so we figured, why not. It was only for the “modern wars” (WWI to more recent), but still pretty cool. The exhibits I really remember were a wartime (WWII) house (LOVE propaganda posters),
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the secret war (that is, espionage) and one on the Holocaust.

The secret war one was pretty cool. I really liked the exhibition in that it raised questions at the end regarding espionage and spies and intelligence and whether it’s still needed. It provided a whole bunch of quotes for both the pros and the cons, but it left it open for discussion rather than making a judgement, which I appreciated. Plus it got Brandon and I discussing it, so mission accomplished there, I guess. British museums respect the fact that their visitors are intelligent people who can read and think. I feel U.S. museums dumb stuff down a bit too much.

The second exhibit I really enjoyed was the one on the Holocaust. It wasn’t as viscerally powerful as the museum in D.C. (no smell of shoes, for example), but extremely well done and I thought almost better than the Holocaust museum. Plus it was free! It had a lot of little anecdotes about people – mostly the Jews – and shared a glimpse into their lives. Sometimes that person lived; sometimes they didn’t. I was also struck, when reading their thing on Hitler’s rise to power, how my dad was right in that it was very similar to Obama’s. Felt kinda awful thinking it, but y’know.

(side note – it was really nice mostly avoiding election talk over here. couldn’t avoid it completely, but it was nice to have TV on and not see 5214630937 political ads)

From the Imperial War Museum, we headed back toward the Thames. We grabbed a tiny snack from a cafe (I grabbed a Magnum bar; forget what mrrmrr had – possibly just a Fanta) and kept heading along the Thames. We passed a lot of stuff I’d never seen before – the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre,
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a book market, etc. We passed by an Eat, where we stopped for ham and Jarlsberg baguettes (and a packet of crisps for me).

We came upon the Clink Prison Museum
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which we hadn’t heard of and almost checked out, but it seemed just the slightest bit too cheesy to do that day. So unfortunately, we passed. We did stop at the Starbucks just down the street, though, for some more souvenir coffee cups. I also saw they actually had signature hot chocolate, which I haven’t had in years. Obviously I had to get some. I had forgotten how good it was … and how rich. It was nice having it, though – I had drunk SHC on our engagement trip to Monterey back in November 2009 – to have it again on our honeymoon/1st anniversary trip felt like a nice full circle type of thing.

After Starbucks – where we learned it was International Talk Like a Pirate Day, we saw a pirate ship
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just down the street … and got our first London cache (finally). Then back along the Thames toward Tower Bridge, past the London Dungeon. We got some pictures of Tower Bridge – lucky enough, we got to see it in action for a cruise ship –
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as well as the Tower of London, just across the way. We headed back from whence we came, detouring off the path to find another cache.

We had brought some travel bugs with us and really wanted to drop them off, so we found a cache where we could. It definitely took us off the tourist path, to essentially a graveyard for prostitutes and unknowns.
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It was really quite cool and something we never would have seen had it not been for geocaching.

From there, the search for possibly another cache took us to the other side of the river, but we soon realized the difficulty and terrain – if the tide was in (which it was), it was totally inaccessible. Dangit. So back to the hotel it was,
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since we were both about dead by that point. We got back and flopped, eventually deciding we needed dinner. We gave up and decided to treat ourselves to room service – honeymoon and all – but room service was being retarded and we couldn’t get through over the phone. We really didn’t want to eat at the restaurant, but didn’t have much of an apparent choice by that point. We went downstairs, told the front desk that room service essentially sucks and went to the restaurant … before realizing that we were way too underdressed. We decided to take the staff’s suggestion of ordering food there and having them take the order to room service. Much better. About 30 minutes later, we got our Hilton chicken club (meh), extra chips (mmmm) and sparkling water.

After dinner, some naughty reading, some last good honeymoon sex, and then bed.

The alarm went off early this morning so we could shower, pack and eat breakfast while still catching a tube line out to the airport by no later than 8:30. We were on the Underground by 8:15 which was good. We got to the airport and checked in with plenty of time … which was good, because security at Heathrow was a disaster. Apparently there was a terrorism threat or something, because tons of people and bags were taken aside for additional screening. Both our Travelpros were set aside, but thankfully just re-ran through and fine. But Brandon’s Timbuk got the full treatment, causing us to be stuck near security for at least 20 minutes. However, all was good and we obviously got on the plane.
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We had our pretzels and our hot lunch (sketchy salad, roll, crackers and laughing cow, either chicken and mushrooms over rice (eh) or some beef with wine sauce, ptotatoes and veggies (ick) and some crumb cake). I already watched Cars, am journaling now … and not sure what’s next …

Honeymoon Trip: Post Three

(Another in a series about my honeymoon/first anniversary trip to Paris and London, taken from a journal kept on the trip.)

13 Sept. 2012
~ 9:15 pm Paris time

Another day in the books … and it was a long and eventful one!

I woke up pretty early – around 7:15, but probably didn’t end up getting out of bed until closer to 8. We got up, showered and got ready for the day. We ate the free hotel breakfast (oj, pastries, hard-boiled egg) and went off to explore …

… for five minutes in which case I realized I wasn’t going to be able to wear my fabulous heels because I have a slight ingrown right now. So back to my boots and then off to start the day.

We walked down the Champs-Elysees all the way down to the Louvre, stopping at the Place de la Concorde to take pictures of the obelisk. We saw a few runners in the Tuileries garden, but there were very few tourists. At the Louvre, we took a few photos of the glass pyramid in front,

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but decided not to pay the entrance fee. Instead, we took off walking. We found our way to the Left Bank and walked toward Notre Dame, seeing a cool padlock art demonstration

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on a bridge along the way. Once we saw l’Ile de Paris, we crossed the Pont Neuf on to the Ile and walked to Notre Dame. We took quite a few pictures of the cathedral both inside and out.

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After Notre Dame, we stopped for a quick sandwich and got a ham and cheese baguette to split which was awesome. We then hopped the metro and got off at Louvre-Rivoli. I was hoping to find the Christian Louboutin storefront to drool, but wasn’t quite successful. I did see a whole crapload of other shopping though on the Rue di Rivoli.

Unlucky with our search, we hopped back on the metro to Opera to check out the outside of the Opera Garnier and to walk to les Galeries-Lafayette, a ginormous department store that’s really more like its own mall. We had fun wandering around

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looking at lots of stuff we can’t afford. We also had a small conversation with one of the employees sampling chocolate and ran into one of my biggest pet peeves:

him: “where in the U.S. are you from?”
Brandon: “Colorado.”
him: “oh, Cowboy, right?”

ARGH! Colorado does not equal Cowboy! Silly European stereotypes. After ending our conversation, we went up on the rooftop terrace for arguably the best free view in Paris.

Afterward, we came back to the hotel for a few minutes to relax and decompress. Thinking about it now, I should have journaled some then. Made my life easier now. Oh well …

Break taken and us hungry, we took off down the Champs-Elysees for dinner/late lunch. We stopped at Pizza di Roma and had pizza (and fries) which was huge but delicious. Mmmm. We then proceeded to walk the Champs-Elysees, stopping in stores along the way, although we didn’t buy anything.

Once the shopping ran out, we decided to hit up the Eiffel Tower, so we hopped on the metro and wandered over. We got some pictures from further back

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and were walking toward the base when I decided I wanted our dino children in a photo. I go in my purse … and no dino children. I immediately start freaking out, tell Brandon who starts freaking out (slightly less so, though) and we head immediately back to the hotel, thinking of where we might have lost them.

As we got off at our stop, I think more certainly that they were in the room and thankfully, they were. I attack and hug them, as does Brandon. After a few minutes, we pack them up with us and head back to the Eiffel Tower, taking more pictures.

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We also snagged a Geocache. The first one we tried was a no go as the place we tried to get into was closed, but the second was a success. Woo hoo! We also grabbed some delicious ice cream while we were out.

After the Eiffel Tower, we headed back to the hotel, stopping at a pharmacy for some sleeping pills Brandon’s mom likes that you can only get over here. Then, back to the hotel to pack and journal as we have a fairly early wake-up call so we can catch a train to London!

I also almost forgot; after getting off the metro and before seeing the Opera and les Galeries-Lafayette, we stopped in a French Starbucks. The menu for drinks was very limited by comparison but OMG the pastry case was AWESOME. A few standards as well as warm pancakes and French toast. I tried the brioche pain perdu (French toast)

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and it was fabulous. Brandon had a very expensive cup of Anniversary and I had some hot chocolate. Our friend Jeremy collects the mugs so we got him both a Paris and a France mug … but the mini demitasse ones. We figured they were more European and thus cooler. The Starbucks also had a machine for making fresh-squeezed oj which I facebooked my manager about and asked if we could get it for our store. She said yes. Now to implement …

That’s all for today … be back tomorrow!

Fun with Cooking: Starbucks’ Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble

A few summers ago, Starbucks came out with a strawberry-rhubarb crumble bar. I didn’t try it out when it first came out, but eventually got around to trying it.

And hoo boy, did I get addicted. Unfortunately, I got addicted about a month before it went away forever, as Starbucks is often wont to do with seasonal pastries.

Still, the crumble was something I liked enough to want to try and find the recipe for. Luckily, a chef in Maryland loved them too and experimented with the recipe enough to perfect it and post it on her blog, Frederick Foodie. I tried it once about a year ago, and recipe fail.

(Although let’s be perfectly honest. It was most definitely user fail, especially because I’m pretty sure I didn’t have enough rhubarb and possibly enough something else.)

This summer, I was itching to try the recipe again so I gathered up all the ingredients, made sure I had enough of everything and got down to business.

I also had Brandon puree everything in the Cuisinart like it’s supposed to be … another thing I’m pretty sure I didn’t do last time. Oops.

This time around, I didn’t have the crumble brown too early like I did the first time. Whether that’s due to me following the recipe better or just a different oven, I don’t know. In any case, it came out and it came out wonderfully. I don’t exactly know if it tastes exactly like the original Starbucks ones did given that it’s been about three years since the ‘Bux carried the bars, but delish regardless.

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Finished product.

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Cross-section.

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Close-up of the deliciousness.

CD Review: Wind Down

I’ll preface this post with two things:

1. I work at Starbucks. Therefore, I’m very familiar with the content of this post.
2. While a trained journalist, I have never written a music review and therefore have no idea what I’m doing. Or truly, exactly what I’m talking about. Yay interwebs.

Going back to point one above, I’m a barista (with some managerial power, but not much). If you’ve ever been into a Starbucks, you’ve undoubtedly heard the music in there. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, often times very WTF, it’s all handpicked. And trust me, if it annoys you, it annoys we baristas at least 10-times more … given that we have to listen to it all day, every day that we work.

That being said, the company occasionally comes up with compilations and playlists that I absolutely ADORE. The trance/electronica/chill playlists are often my favorites. Back when I first started with the company, they had a CD compilation out called “Sundown: Music for Unwinding.” It has become one of my (and my husband’s) favorite CD’s ever, and the tracks burned onto our iTunes have high play numbers.

This year, along with the winter launch of probably one of Starbucks’ best ideas ever, the Blonde Roast (mmmm, Veranda), the company came out with the Wind Down playlists for in-store use and the CD Wind Down to sell.

Before even listening to it all day at work, just looking at the CD intrigued me and I bought it before even knowing what was on it. While such rash decisions can often times be bad, this one was good. I love this album and while I may never adore “Wind Down” as I do “Sundown,” it’s going to come close.

Starbucks bills the compilation as such:

log off, power down and move on.
A soundtrack for easing into the evening, this international array of electronic-embellished selections unfolds like nightfall, creating moments for reflection as the end of the day draws near.

And my thoughts, track by track:

Frou Frou – Breathe In
A fantastic start to the CD; it hooks you with the very first track. I get to really enjoy the great bass lines from my ancient (ca. 2001) stereo system … that really does do bass well, I might add. Plus it’s just a cute song in general – “because I love you,” a repeating point of the vocals. Maybe it’s just because I’m married (four months!).

Alif Tree – I Feel Blue
In general, I’m a sucker for any song with some quality piano, and this one starts off with some groovy piano before the bass kicks in and the jazz infused with electronic hints lulls you with a chill groove. In terms of tempo/feel, a slight step back from track one.

Ennio Morricone – Amore Come Dolore (Needs Remix)
As someone who watched a lot of spaghetti westerns as a kid (thanks, Dad) and adored “Ecstasy of Gold” on Metallica’s “S&M” album, I love me some Morricone. This upbeat shift in the playlist has the repetitive groove so often found  in the electronic genre (that can be headache-inducing even for some fans of the genre), but the depth of Morricone’s work makes it an enjoyable track (and the hubby’s favorite on the disc).

Groove Armada – Tuning In
Easily my favorite  of the bunch. Starts off awesome and just never lets you down. Lyrics hit you right away  and then Groove Armada lays down a funky bass line that you ride throughout the whole song. Yes, I subtly groove to this song at work whenever it comes on.

Minus 8 – Elysian Fields
Continuing on the upbeat groove, this track seems to me that it’s almost meant as a background one, not really picking up until about the 2:30 mark. That’s not to say that it isn’t good, but it’s almost … forgettable. The liner notes mention that it’s meant to establish a noir-ish mood … something I can understand. The track would be good as the background layer to a scene in a black-and-white film.

Tosca – Natural High
This track is where the disc starts to wind back down a bit. The electronic variations of, for lack of better phrasing, oscillating sounds reminiscent of video games, provide an interesting hook that keeps your ear trained to the music, instead of letting it slip away into the void.

Slackwax (Featuring Anna Leyne) – Close to My Fire
Another mellow groove, accentuated by the throaty vocals of Anna Leyne. While all the songs on the album  have their roots in electronica, Slackwax adds to the mix a song that would almost be more at home in a jazz club than a dance club. Probably the song that would most appeal to people not fans of the electronic genre.

Thievery Corporation – Lebanese Blonde
The sitar (pretty sure that’s what that instrument is) hooks you from the start and takes you in to what is an extremely well done, multi-layered track with enough depth to drown in. Luckily, we’re not talking water here, but music, and it is an incredibly enjoyable experience to sit back and listen to this track. It also breathes some more life into the playlist, leading us to the next track.

Moby – Natural Blues
While “South Side” and “Porcelain” perhaps got the most widespread recognition off of “Play,” I will argue you any day that either this or “Run On” were the best tracks of that CD. Moby sampled vocals from a 1937 spiritual song that end up being the perfect glue to bind the lyrical beats behind them.

Boozoo Bajou – Night Over Manaus
Starting with what I can best describe as tribal sounds, “Night Over Manaus” almost seems to be too many things at once. I love how the track has a lot of depth, but the beat base is almost too much. I can see the appeal of this track (it would be perfect at this underground dance thing I went to in Boulder a few years back – “hippie dancing” is how my friend described it), it’s not a song I could listen to over and over – a stark contrast to the rest of the album. In my opinion, the best part of the track comes near the end, when the whole tempo of the song shifts faster, and the varying grooves seem to fit together a lot better.

Moodorama – Behind the Scenes
First, let’s ignore how much I love the name “Moodorama” (because I do). The song’s elements make you listen to it, to see its depths and wonder what intrigues it contains. The track will slow down, only to come back with a force that brings you back into the present. Aptly named, “Behind the Scenes” makes you consider the shadowy places not often seen, but that one oft desires to know.

Propellerheads – Winning Style
While “Elysian Fields” could be part of a black-and-white detective film, “Winning Style” could be at home in a movie as well. The film could be as varied as something from the “Ocean’s” series or something from the ’70s. The track has a retro feel and a steady beat that you ride out the rest of the disc with.