Weather and Other Random Thoughts

This week we have had strong winds and heavy rain, freezing temperatures, warm sunshine, and snow! The weather definitely needs to pick one!

As I am writing this, I am sitting in my favorite place in the apartment, the long kitchen window. The sun is strong and I am curled up on our "fancy" chair soaking it all up. I have to say that I feel a little bit like a cat or a nosy old lady watching everyone on the street below. Either way, it's fantastic!!!

This week is midterm week for my students. This means that I proctor many tests, grade many tests, and go home early. This year is the first year that we are no longer giving regents so I am allowed to reap the benefits of early dismissal.

I LOVE BEING HOME IN DAYLIGHT!!! Not only do I get to enjoy the beautiful sunshine beaming through my windows BUT I get great parking. (Fellow city dwellers know how important this is.) One of the other benefits of being home at lunch time is that "He" is able to come home for lunch so we get to spent extra time together during the day.

As a treat, we walked to Pita Pan. It has become one of my favorite take out places. Their slogan is "fresh, fast, and tasty". They live up to every part of that slogan. My favorite things to order there are the chicken gyro and the falafel. They offer them in single and double size. The single size is more than enough for one person because you get all of the typical fixings and FRIES stuffed inside. YUM!

I can't wait to see what this weekend has in for us as his parents are coming for a visit and we have our third precana meeting on Sunday.

For those of you who don't know, precana is a class for engaged couples preparing for marriage in the Roman Catholic Church. It is done differently across the U.S. but, our parish is having it for four consecutive Sundays after the 5pm Mass. It has been a very interesting experience that has brought us closer together as a couple. This program has forced us to discuss things that otherwise may have been brushed under the rug. Neither one of us were particularly keen on attending this program but, it has been extremely interesting.

East River!!!

Well, at least right next to it. We took a walk to Socrates Sculpture Park, which for anyone unfamiliar with Astoria, is located right along the East River across from Roosevelt Island. While walking along the river, you can see the Roosevelt Island lighthouse.

The Park includes various types of artwork and sculpture (naturally) and is a relaxing place to unwind. It is situated in an area that once held factories but is now home to lofts, condos and other signs of "gentrification." There are positives and negatives to this process for a city (or in this case a borough). Nonetheless, on our way to the Park, we saw a literal sign that Queens is still, in fact, Queens.

Ahh, parking problems: the gift that keeps on giving.

Besides the very "New York" sign, we took some great pictures of the Manhattan skyline. It's a beautiful view and we both hope to spend a lot of time "down by the river" in the future.

Himalaya Teahouse: A Review

Last Friday, we went to Himalaya Teahouse with a friend from work. After much deliberation (meaning no one wanted to make a decision), we settled on this restaurant because no one had tried Himalayan/Tibetan food and it was nearby, meaning that we didn't have to lose our parking spot.

On to the review: the restaurant itself is very tiny. It has one server and one cook and is decorated with photographs, courtesy of a local photographer. You can even purchase the artwork on the walls. Needless to say, interesting but not very exciting. Still, some of the best restaurants focus on the food, not the atmosphere. We were given menus and water and set about choosing our meals for the evening.

We ordered a Soba noodle plate (buckwheat noodles common in TIbet), Himalaya Shamdey (a stir-fry dish with an allegedly Indian flavor) and Tibetan Thupka (a type of soup).

Check out the pictures of the food.

Looks good, right? Well, it was good...but not great. The food was underwhelming. We were expecting something flavorful and dynamic, and while the food was fine, it was kind of bland, which we were not expecting. It didn't seem like any of us really enjoyed our meal, but no one hated it, either.

I guess it's not a glittering review to say that you didn't really like it, but it didn't make you violently ill either. We all decided to give the place another try. Maybe next time we'll order dumplings and try something else. There's still hope for the Teahouse yet.

This Week's Apartment Improvements

I took a sick day this week because I really wasn't feeling well. But, I tend to get antsy toward the end of the day. I decided I would finally hang the vintage sign that we got in Montauk the weekend we got engaged. The sign reads, " Montauk - Memories that last a lifetime." We both loved the sign because there are two people painted sitting on a beach that looked like us. Everytime I did something my grandmother used to tell me, "Make a memory." Needless to say, the sign hanging in our bedroom reminds me not only of our completely magical weekend in Montauk but, of my grandmother.

Over the weekend, my mother gave us a basket to keep our coffee in because when you sit at the table the coffee tends to fall on you. I decided the basket was a bit plain and didn't fit the decor of our apartment. So, I fixed it up! I borrowed a friend's glue gun and put some plaid ribbon on it. I looks really cute!

We continue to be blessed by the generosity of others. On Monday, we received two dining room chairs from a friend. They are beautiful!!! (Since I was silly and forgot the camera, I borrowed this picture from the internet of what they look like.)

The Dipper!

One night this past week, I was up in the middle of the night looking out my kitchen window. I was so excited to find: 1. stars 2. a dipper! (I think it was the little one but I'm not entirely sure.) I tried to take pictures but, they didn't come out. (Boo!)

Kitchen Tales

As "He" mentioned in his post, I've been cooking an awful lot! At the end of a frustrating day at school, it is great to see something through from start to finish.

Presently, the only cookbook we have at the apartment is the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book - Limited Edition. I've been finding many fun things to cook.
Two of the recipes are Fettuccine Alfredo with Grilled Chicken and Oven-Fried Pork Chops.

The Fettuccine Alfredo was super easy to make! I decided to add grilled chicken to give it a little more substance. I cooked the grilled chicken separate from the pasta on our George Forman Grill with a little bit of salt and petter. Yum!
Generally when I cook, I like to have enough for leftovers.

The Oven-Fried Pork Chops were a new experience for me. I went to the "new" grocercy store and found some pork chops on sale so I decided I would give it a whirl. I generally stick with "Italian-stlye" cooking. They came out great but, anything cooked in butter is tasty!! (I felt very Paula Deen.)

We have some leftover ham so I think tonight it will be Baked Macaroni and Cheese with ham from Southern Living.

Golden Macaroni and Cheese
Yield: Makes 8 servings
1 (8-ounce) package elbow macaroni (about 2 cups uncooked macaroni)
2 cups milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon onion salt
2 (10-ounce) blocks sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 4 1/2 cups) and divided*
1 cup soft breadcrumbs (4 slices, crusts removed)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted


For a divine main dish, stir in chopped cooked ham before baking, and then sprinkle top with chopped cooked bacon before serving.
Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain well. Set aside.

Place milk, flour, and onion salt in a quart jar; cover tightly, and shake vigorously 1 minute.

Stir together flour mixture, 3 1/2 cups cheese, and macaroni.

Pour macaroni mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish or 2 (11-inch) oval baking dishes. Sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs and remaining 1 cup cheese; drizzle evenly with melted butter.

Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

*20 ounces loaf pasteurized prepared cheese product, shredded or cut into small cubes, may be substituted. Omit breadcrumbs if using prepared cheese product.

Note: For testing purposes only, we used Kraft Cracker Barrel Sharp Cheddar Cheese.

Louise Floyd, Potters Station, Alabama, Southern Living, JANUARY 2004

January (As told by "He")...

It's pretty cold here in Astoria. Almost all of the Christmas decorations are down. They still have some of the lights up on the street, but it's not as bright and shiny as it used to be. For whatever reason, our lobby still has the Christmas tree up...let's see how long that lasts.

In other news, we acquired a new addition for our living room - a walnut-colored wooden curio that we found one weekend while driving around. It happens to match all our other furniture, and will hold some of the collectibles that we had scattered around the apartment. It looks good so far. Little by little, we are turning the place into a home. It's great to have a story behind a lot of the pieces we've bought.

We've also taken to having dinner at home instead of going out as much. While there are wonderful restaurants and bakeries in our neighborhood, sometimes it's more relaxing to unwind at home. The fiance discovered several grocery stores nearby and has made several very tasty dishes. It's a great way to end a long day at the office. We should do these kinds of things as often as we can, as life will probably not stay at such a comfortable pace for long.

Sometimes I enjoy life when it moves quickly, but most of the time, I'd rather take it slow. We'll see how the rest of this month plays out!

Happy New Year!

The fiance and I are wishing you a very happy 2010! We have so much to look forward to this year and we can't wait to share it with all of our friends and family.

We rang in the new year together. First, we went to a concert at C.W. Post. My very generous parents gave us the tickets for Christmas. It was wonderful! The concert has become a tradition for us. Ever since our first New Year's Eve (12.31.05) in New York we have attended the concert. Since the concert ends fairly early we managed to get back to Astoria to count down to the new year in our "new" apartment. I was wonderful to be in our home for the new year.

Prior to both families visiting, we hung the new curtains that the fiance's mom made us. They are beautiful. Interestingly, a friend of mine gave me a give with some fun gift wrap. We were able to use the gift wrap to tie back the curtains to let light in during the day. I have to say that the cute apron that came in the wrapping also went to good use this weekend with all of the cooking.

New Year's Day was spent with my family. This was the first time many of them saw the apartment. We had lots of good food. My parents were kind enough to give us two chairs as a house warming gift. We purchased a table a few weeks ago but had no chairs. These chairs also made it possible for everyone to have a place to sit when my family was visiting. My parents also brought a ham to supplement the appetizers, baked ziti, and dessert. It was lots of fun to have everyone there. We even got a few rounds of Wii in before everyone went home.

Saturday, Maryland family came up. They are such troopers. I-95 North was closed but they made it here anyway. We were very grateful to be able to host them for dinner also. They got to see the lovely holiday table runner and centerpiece they gave us in use. They also brought up Chourico from Gaspar's for Chourico and eggs in the morning. It should be very yummy!