New Blog Crush

Yesterday I was introduced to a new blog by my lovely co-worker Laura. Delight by Design is a blog that scours the internet collecting some of the best design photos out there. The writer, Blair, looks for ways to inject design elements into every nook and cranny of your space. Now, I am not sure if she has to ability to produce beautifully designed rooms, but she definitely has to eye to find them. For that reason I would like to nominate her for next season’s Design Star.

I am unbelievably inspired by her posts. And while they are light on the text, the incredible pictures she finds certainly make a statement. My one complaint is that you aren’t always able to tell where you can buy the products featured in her pictures requiring me to spend time googling the things I like. Thankfully, I am pretty much a professional googler.

Matt and I added a little design to our apartment over the weekend by finally hanging some pictures in our bedroom. My next step is to 1. buy some sort of new blanket/duvet cover combo and 2. figure out a way to remove the bachelor pad painting that is hanging above our bed without Matt noticing.

I am debating how much effort I want to invest in decorating our apartment considering we are most likely moving next July. What do you think? Is it worth the effort?

The Grass Is Always Greener

My good friend, Noelle, is defending her thesis today. She is in the 3rd year of a PhD program on her way to become a doctor of psychology. I can’t wait until she graduates and can officially diagnose all of my mental ailments.

This morning we were chatting online (per usual) and she was explaining her thesis statement to me. I pretended like I understood what she was talking about, but I really had no idea. Then I asked her what happens after she defends her thesis. Here is our conversation:

 Noelle:  then onto my next benchmark. which is a review paper.
 me:  your life sounds awesome.
 Noelle:  no. its horrible.
 me:  yeah, i was kind of being sarcastic.
 Noelle:  oh.

Sometimes the grass is greener on your side. Good luck today Noelle. While I am not jealous of your life, I am very proud of your ambition to pursue this degree. I can’t wait to call you Doctor.

Done and Done

It’s official – we are done with our wedding thank you notes! That is, until we hear from someone reading this who is thinking “hey, I gave you a present and didn’t receive a note!”

It was difficult but we made it. Thank you Hurricane Irene for keeping Matt cooped up inside and forcing him to write the notes. I knew something good would come out of this storm.

One marital challenge down, a lifetime ahead of us!

Hurricane Prep

If you live on the east coast, you have been bombarded with the news of Hurricane Irene for the past week. High winds, strong rains and predicted flooding has forced NYC to order many residence of the city to evacuate. The MTA will be shut down tomorrow at noon and the bridges leading into Manhattan will close as soon as winds hit 60 mph. Government officials keep telling us, this is no joke, get ready.

Matt and I have decided not to go out to the Hamptons this weekend as planned; probably a smart move. While many folks aren’t happy about this storm, I have to admit, a part of me is kind of excited. Matt and I have been traveling for the past 8 weekends. Storm or no storm, it is going to be nice to have a weekend in the city. And to make things even better, we will probably get stuck in our apartment, at least for a portion of the weekend, which will give us time to do things that we have been putting off for weeks on end. As a reminder to Matt, I made a list of things to do during the hurricane.

I also prepared some provisions to help us ride out the storm. Thanks to our friends, Jen and Ratch for giving us flashlights off our wedding registry. Although we anticipated using these for camping purposes, they might come in handy this weekend. Considering that this is our first time experiencing a storm of such magnitude, I wasn’t exactly sure what to buy… I don’t think there is anything else we would need if we were to get stranded in our apartment for a few days, do you?

Robin Hood Feeds

Every night in New York City, 1.4 million New Yorkers rely on emergency food. And 1 in 5 of these folks seek food at a Robin Hood funded program.

Last night, one of my co-workers Laura, her boyfriend Sam, Matt and I had the opportunity to help provide meals to approximately 350-400 of these folks. As volunteer for with the Coalition for the Homeless outreach program, we were witness to the unbelievable work that is done every night of the year by this group.

Coalition for the Homeless is the nation;s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women and children. They are dedicated to the principle that affordable housing, sufficient food, and the chance to work for a living wage are fundamental rights in a civilized society. For nearly three decades they developed and implemented humane, cost-effective strategies to end mass homelessness in New York City.

Since homeless men and women who live rough on city streets are the most isolated and hardest to reach, they are at tremendous risk of malnutrition. The Coalition’s Grand Central Food Program, a mobile soup kitchen that stops at 31 sites throughout Manhattan and the Bronx every night of the year, meets this challenge head on. Unlike a traditional soup kitchen, volunteers brings the food to where street homeless people live – even amidst the harshest weather, black-outs, and other obstacles. For many homeless New Yorkers, this nightly meal is their only meal of the day.

Each night, a fleet of vans delivers soup, bread, fresh fruit, and milk to approximately 1,000 people. During the past year, the Grand Central Food Program served more than 365,000 meals to homeless and hungry New Yorkers. In addition to providing meals, the Grand Central Food Program distributes clothing, blankets, sleeping bags and personal hygiene items such as toiletries and underwear.

The Grand Central Food Program also offers street homeless people a sense of community and emotional support to help them move “beyond the soup kitchen” to greater self-sufficiency. Each night the staff of Coalition works to gain the trust of the individuals receiving the means and aim to guide them to other life changing services such as psychiatric treatment, medical treatment, substance abuse treatment, or shelter and vital benefits offered by the Coalition and partner.

Seeing the lines of people at each of the seven stops our van made was shocking. There were anywhere between 30 and 150 individuals who waited patiently inline to received their meal. We handed out a small carton of milk, a piece of bread, an orange and a styrofoam container of soup to each person in line. While the majority of the individuals were men, we saw a handful of children who had come out with a parent. The smiles on their faces were the same smiles on the kids who you see riding the subways, playing in the park, and who used to fill the halls of the school I worked in. To these kids, this was just another meal.

But what struck me more than the children and even more than the lines of people, were the attitudes of the adults we were helping. Nearly every person looked me in the eye, told me how grateful they were for our help and expressed sincere gratitude. When I looked at the “meal” that we were providing – something that would neither appeal to me, nor fill me up, I started to understand a little bit more about their world. Not knowing where your next meal would come from is one of the scariest things to me. And to make matters worse, many of these people have families that they are unable to provide for. It is truly heartbreaking.

Last night made me appreciate my life a little more. I would like to give a big thank you to the Coalition for the Homeless for all of the amazing poverty-fighting work that they are doing.

If you would like to volunteer with the Grand Central Food program, let me know. That is certainly not the last time I participate. And if you want to do something, but you don’t live in New York City, consider donating to their school supplies drive. I know that I miss the annual trip that my sister, my mom and I would take to Staples to buy markers, pens, and folders. Click here for more information.

Shake It Up

At approximately 1:53pm today, the East Coast experienced a little West Coast living. No, I am not talking about In-N-Out Burgers, but rather, an earthquake.

The earthquake is being reported as a 5.9 magnatude and was centered 90 miles outside of Washington D.C. just a few miles from my sister’s hometown of Fredericksburg, VA. People have reported feeling the quake from as far north as Vermont and as far south as Chapel Hill North Carolina. Thankfully no injuries or massive damage has been reported so far.

I was sitting in my co-workers office when I started to feel a little dizzy. It felt like the building was shaking and I blamed it on my constant state of dehydration (I know, I really need to drink more water). But then I realized it wasn’t my head spinning, but the building shaking. We evacuated the building but didn’t really have a plan in place. After standing around for 5 minutes and reading Facebook updates from friends all along the East coast, we realized that this was felt beyond NYC. Although we didn’t really feel like we were in grave danger, we decided to stay out of the building a little longer – a perfect excuse to get some ice cream! When the Black Eyed Peas concert was postponed (before eventually being cancelled) we sought shelter from the lightning in a diner where we all ordered milkshakes. Apparently at Robin Hood when life gives you lemons, we eat ice cream!

My sister’s experience was a little more intense. Pictures fell off the walls and her wine rack fell on the floor smashing her bottles of wine on the ground. She took cover in her closet with her dog Bexley.

 

No more wine :(

 

One time when Matt and I were in Florida visiting his parents, we decided to plan 9 holes of golf. In the middle of the round, the sky darkened and lightning seemed to come out of no where. We hoped in the metal golf cart and drove to a part of the path that was slightly covered and in a residential area. I knew that if you were in a car during a lightning storm, you were relatively safe; however, I wasn’t sure where I golf cart fit into that equation. With the lightning getting worse (we literally saw a bolt strict the lake no more than 100 feet from where we were) I decided to call my dad who was back in New Hampshire. He quickly told me to get out of the cart and go knock on the door of one of the houses. I knew he would be helpful even from a distance.

When Abby was hiding in the closet, she called my parents too. Clearly, us Brethauer girls have really good survival instincts – call Mom and Dad.

Thanks parents for always picking up the phone. I don’t know what we would do without you!

 

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Growing up in New Hampshire, looking up into the sky and seeing countless stars was a nightly occurence. I almost took it for granted. However, after living in both Boston and New York City, I have certainly grown to appreciate a clear night with a sky full of stars a little more.

Matt and I spent our honeymoon in Hawaii (the first 10 days on the island of Kauai and the next 4 on the Big Island). We had such an amazing trip it is impossible to highlight just one activity or day as my favorite. However, one thing that certainly stands out as an incredible experience was our trip to the Mauna Kea Observatory.

On the Big Island there were two things that we knew we wanted to do: see the volcano and visit with my cousin. Upon arrival to our hotel, we talked with the concierge about other activities available on the island. They mentioned the Mauna Kea Observatory; which we had never heard of. We researched it a little more and thought it might be something interesting to do and it was on our way back from the volcano. So after an incredible helicopter tour over the volcano where we saw some liquid hot magma, we ventured off to the observatory.

After driving into the middle of the Island, we took a right turn and started heading up the mountain. In less than 20 minutes we went from sea level to more than 13,000 feet. I was worried about getting altitude sickness (I watch a lot of Beyond the Limit: Climbing Mt. Everest) but we managed to make it to the top ok. The landscape was amazing – I think I said to Matt “I feel like we are on Mars” more than 15 times.

Before heading down the mountain we watched the sunset, above the clouds. It was truly beautiful. Unfortunately, the pictures that I took didn’t come out as well as Matt’s camera. Hopefully I can get him to post his pictures online sometime soon so that you can see them.

We drove down a few thousand feet to the visitor center and waited for the sky to get dark. We learned that the facilities are located in a 500-acre (2.0 km2) special land use zone known as the “Astronomy Precinct,” which is located in the Mauna Kea Science Reserve. The Astronomy Precinct was established in 1967 and is located on land protected by the Historical Preservation Act for its significance to Hawaiian culture. The location is ideal because of its dark skies, good astronomical seeing, low humidity and position above most of the water vapor in the atmosphere, clean air, good weather and almost equatorial location. And we happened to be there on an evening with no moon – idea for star-gazing.

The center had set up a few telescopes for us to use and Matt and I peered through in awe as we saw a crystal clear image of Saturn, a cluster of stars that was formed before the Milky Way and Mar’s red glow. The “star guide” pointed out countless constellations and we followed along with Matt’s star-gazer ap on his phone. The magic of the whole afternoon/evening was capped off when I saw my very first shooting star.

The weekend I had another star-gazing experience. It was while floating on a raft in a pool located at our friend’s house in the Hamptons. No shooting stars this time, but still a good time.

Déjà Vu

I think it is fair to say that in May and June, my life was a little hectic.

Although Matt and I had close to the world’s longest engagement (19 months to be exact) the last month or so leading up to the big date is always a little crazy. I had a lot of last-minute details to take care of.

  1. Figure out how to do my own make up
  2. Buy a rehearsal dinner dress
  3. Finish making escort cards
  4. Practice first dance so we don’t look stupid

These are all things that should get done a week or two before the big day. Unfortunately for me, that was not the case.

On June 9th, my work (Robin Hood) threw a huge concert in Central Park featuring the Black Eyed Peas and a few special guests. It was a multi-million dollar production with a stage that took over a week to assemble. It was going to be the first time since Simon & Garfunkel played in the great lawn back in 1981 (yes, that was before I was born) that such a large concert would take place there. And when I say large, I mean  60,000 people to be exact. Needless to say, this event kept me distracted and I wasn’t able to focus on the details of my wedding.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we also hosted a preview show on June 7th at the famed Apollo Theater for 2,000 guests. Right, I guess that required a bit of work too.

So the first show went off without a hitch. We were all super excited for the main concert event. On the day of the concert, it was over 100 degrees in New York City so the police decided to push back the 3pm gate opening to 7pm. Then at 7pm they decided to push it back to 7:45pm, this time due to rain.

After escorting in about 20 or so of our VIP guests and opening to gates to the masses of fans waiting for the concert, the Mayor had to pull the plug on the concert due to a thunder and lightning storm that would not pass. It was an unbelievable surreal moment… all of our work was for nothing. One of my co-workers said it best when she said “well, now I know what it feels like to be left at the altar.”

There was a lot of public outcry against us for cancelling the concert. And while I think we needed to cancel the show, it was truly heartbreaking. Reading the emails from upset fans and ticket holders made me sick to my stomach. The last few days of my wedding, which were supposed to be spent Black Eyed Peas free, were spent trying to pick of the pieces of this mess.

Thankfully on the Wednesday before the big day, my boss could sense my stress levels rising. When I finally told her all of the things on my “wedding to do list” that remained undone, she dropped everything, assembled the best Robin Hood dream team I could imagine and helped me get it all done. I was able to leave New York feeling ready to get married! And when I arrived home in New Hampshire that night, there was a bottle of champagne waiting for me from my friends in “the hood.” Man I love my job (have I ever told you that before?)

Well now here we are more than 2 months later. And it looks like Robin Hood “Just Can’t Get Enough” of the Black Eyed Peas.

 

It’s Gonna Be A Good Night (at least, we are all crossing our fingers and hoping it will be!) At least this time I won’t have a wedding to worry about after it!

Red Eye

After an amazing wedding weekend in San Francisco, Matt and I arrived at the airport on Sunday around 2:45 for our 4pm flight. When we went to check in at the kiosk, the system wasn’t able to find our tickets. As we made our way over to the counter to talk to an agent, we soon realized that our return flight was actually booked for Thursday August 18th, not Sunday August 14th. Immediately I was happy that I hadn’t booked our travel.

After speaking with the very unsympathetic United agent and frantically doing “kayak searches” on our iPads, we found a new flight to New York on Virgin Atlantic. What luck! I had just been telling Matt that I wanted to fly Virgin because it seemed so trendy and cool. I put a smile on my face and immediately awarded myself 25 “good wife points.” Matt didn’t have quite the positive outlook that I did. I fixed this by finding him a bar in the airport that served Fat Tire, his most favorite beer that you can’t find on the East Coast. After about 3 of these, he started to feel a little better.

The good news was, Terminal Two in the San Fransisco airport is amazing. They have a Pinkberry, multiple non-fast food restaurants and an unlimited number of power outlets. The bad news was, we had to take a red eye flight – something I absolutely dread.

My first red eye experience was in high school when my family flew to London. My sister and mother were able to sleep on the plane; however, my father and I could not all asleep and spent the majority of the flight standing in the back of the plane commiserating about how miserable the experience was. The next time my family took a red eye flight home from Alaska my dad hooked me up with a prescription strength sleeping pill.  Sadly, I think I closed my eyes for a total of 5 minutes. I think my body just needs to be horizontal to sleep – it can’t be tricked (even with a sleeping pill) into thinking an airplane seat is a bed.

So after hanging out in the airport for more than 4 hours (we played A LOT of words with friends) we finally boarded our plane. As expected, the red eye experience was terrible. I probably closed my eyes for four 5 minute time periods. Needless to say, I disembarked the plane feeling exhausted and not in the world’s best mood – I didn’t win any “good wife points” in the cab on our way home.

When we got home, I decided to work from home so that I could get in a little nap and spare my co-workers from my crankiness. In an email to one of my co-worked I wrote, “I am working for home this morning after a miserable red eye flight back from San Fran. ”

This morning when I saw her in the office she asked me how my eye was doing. Man, that almost made the whole experience worth it!