I Wish Every Day Could Be A Summer Weekend

Another great weekend is coming to an end.  We’ve had some absolutely wonderful weekends this summer.  The weather has actually been (dangerously) full of sunshine (great for being outside, not so great for the city’s water supply)  and it seems like there is a never-ending supply of new places popping up around town, and we’ve been trying to get to as many of them as we can in between our regular weekend chores and our long training runs.

Take me to the car wash, baby!

My poor car gets washed about once a year which makes it quite embarrassing to drive around.  Apparently, though, not embarrassing enough for me to do anything about it I guess.  I’d rather spend money on almost anything else than a car wash, and the thought of doing it myself brings up bad memories of high school car wash fundraisers and having to wash dirty, dirty cars for dirty old men who liked the thought of scantily clad teenagers washing their car.  Aaron on the other hand tends to keep his car in much more pristine condition.  Probably doesn’t hurt that he has a much nicer car than I do and drives his around much more than I drive mine.  Because we’ve had about 2 days worth of rain since last summer, we decided it was safe to wash both cars, and I even helped…even though it doesn’t look like I did more than take pictures of Aaron.

Around Town

We probably hang out around Nob Hill every weekend.  We do a lot of our shopping there, and the restaurant/bar selection is great.  This weekend we also took a quick stroll around Downtown.   I try not to hang out in Downtown Albuquerque as much as possible.  There isn’t much there except office buildings and a bunch of bars that we don’t like with crowds that we don’t like.  But there are a few neat little corners of Downtown (The Kimo Theater, Chama River Microbrew, and Gold Street Cafe), and the area is in the middle of what is looking like a fantastic urban renewal.  We even stumbled upon the 2nd location of the cafe that inspired Giuseppe’s name! (The other one is of course in Nob Hill).

One of the new restaurants we tried out was The Slice Parlor in Nob Hill.  We walked by it last weekend during Summerfest, and thought we’d give it a try.  The pizza is New York style (thin crust, big slices), and they have the typical pizza toppings and three different sauces to choose from (tomato, white, pesto).  The food and atmosphere were good, but what Aaron enjoyed the most was the bathroom decor!

All That Jazz

I have been stalking Jazzbah since friend Peter (owner of BRGR downtown) mentioned that a new, upscale jazz bar was opening on Gold.  As the weirdo who listens to more Frank, Nat, and Ella than Katy, Bruno, or Ke$ha, I was quite excited to imagine an entire establishment dedicated to Amy music.  After “liking” their Facebook page I found out about their soft opening this weekend, and would stop at nothing to make sure we got there.

I knew I was in the right place when I saw a huge picture of Frank hanging on the wall, and comfy looking couches surrounding the tables.  In between sets of live music (last night there was a piano player and a bassist), my beloved crooners played in the background.  The menu was surprisingly CHEAP.  The entrees are smaller than the average heaping portions you find most places, but my shrimp entree was $8, so I’m not going to complain.  I think the steak was the most expensive thing on the menu at $16.

The cocktail menu is quite impressive, and our speciality cocktails actually ended up costing more than our entrees.  But our drinks were pretty and tasty, and from what I can tell on the Facebook page, the bartender is kind of a big deal.

 

Jazzbah was great.  Upscale atmosphere, good food at a reasonable price, fancy drinks, classic background music, live music, and couches to relax on while taking it all in.

I really hope that this place not only makes it, but does well enough to not lower their standards.  Albuquerque is in desperate need of places like this that offer an alternative to the usual late night bar scene where you don’t feel overdressed actually wearing a dress or button up shirt and where the music doesn’t involve lyrics so vulgar that you hope your parents (or kids) never hear them.  Jazzbah is having their grand opening tomorrow, and I’m guessing once they get the typical new business kinks worked out (for example our berry flambe dessert didn’t quite flambe because the alcohol wasn’t quite flammable enough), they will find a loyal client base.  I hope to be among them!

And so, there we are.  Another wonderful summer weekend comes to an end as the Lavenders enjoy mojitos (except Giuseppe who is enjoying his frog toy).

Advertisements

I May Be Biased, But Pretty Sure I Have the CUTEST Puppy on the Planet

If I haven’t made it abundantly clear, I am completely in love with my puppy.

He is the sweetest, most loving, most well-behaved puppy and I truly believe that no child I ever have, no matter how cute they are, will ever get the same amount of attention that he gets.  He loves people and acts like he has never been more excited in his life than he is to see you (“you” encompassing me, Aaron, my mom, my coworkers,  the nice random person walking the same way we are, ANYONE).

Today was the first day in a few weeks that I’ve had Giuseppe with me all day, because he’s been spending time with my mom and sisters and his best friend in the whole world Romeo.  But whenever I get withdrawals during the day, I look at this collection of pictures, and I pretty much melt.  I don’t know how it is possible, but Retro Camera makes him so much cuter!

Squirrel!

 

I Like to Ride My Bicycle, I Like to Ride My Bike

Initially, when I started this blog, I was planning on it being a chronicle about the adventures of BOTH Lavenders.  To a certain extent, it kind of is, but I would be lying if i said Lavender Parking wasn’t very Amy centered.  My last entry  had a paragraph about shoe shopping for goodness sake. (And yes, I did buy another pair of shoes today)

So today, I thought I’d profile something very Aaron (and very non-Amy).  Granted Aaron would probably rather do anything in the world than sit and write about something (it sometimes baffles me that he graduated college with a higher GPA than mine), so blog entries about Aaron stuff will have to be written by me.  But at least I’m trying to be inclusive.  So here goes…Amy’s version of Aaron’s Bicycle obsession.

 

Aaron has an obsession with bicycles.  I haven’t been on a non-stationary bike in about 15 years so I don’t get it.  But he LOVES bikes as evidenced by his rather extensive collection.

4 out of the 5 bikes that Aaron owns...

When it was a bit cooler than the current 95 degree temps, Aaron was actually commuting to work on his bike (a 12 mile one-way adventure), despite the fact that he has to leave the house at 5 am to make it on time.  Crazy? I think yes. 

His newest obsession is building a bamboo bike.  We found a workshop in San Francisco where you buy the materials and learn how to make one, but they aren’t hosting one when we are there for our upcoming half-marathon vacation (www.bamboobikestudio.com).  I am trying to figure out a way to accommodate his bamboo bike needs as a Christmas present.

I was constantly being judged about the amount of time I spend on the internet.  Which is understandable (and yes, I do need to stop checking facebook statuses every 5 minutes even if it means I miss something vitally important like where someone I haven’t talked to since middle school is eating dinner).  Then Aaron discovered bike blogs, and now he has to do his daily check of his favorites:

www.fixedgear.com

www.pedalconsumption.com

Ok…that is kind of my extent of bicycle knowledge.  Basically, Aaron has bikes, he likes to buy new bikes,  he rides bikes (a lot), he likes to repair bikes and build bikes, and he likes to look at pictures of bikes.  Yeah, that’s all I got.  Luckily, there are pictures!

Note the 5 am darkness

Giuseppe likes bikes too!

 

I think he is so much more endearing with a bike cap!

Sales, Summerfest, and the Untimely Death of a Musician

First,  I can’t do any sort of weekend recap without acknowledging the death of my favorite modern musician, Amy Winehouse.  I will never forget the exact moment I was introduced to this extraordinary talent.  I was in my senior year of college.  I was in my bedroom one morning getting ready for class with VH1 Jumpstart playing in the background on the TV in the other room.  I suddenly heard this amazing jazzy beat start playing so I stopped what I was doing, went to the other room, and planted myself in front of the television to hear “You Know I’m No Good” for the first time.  I immediately became a devoted follower of this amazing artist.  She managed to take an outdated music form and make it relevant with lyrics far deeper than the upbeat rhythms suggested.  She talked about such serious issues like addiction, alcoholism, and depression without making the listener judgemental toward her or even feel pity for her.  Apparently she also greatly influenced some other major industry staples like Adele and Lady Gaga.  I recently wrote that she was one of my favorite things about Britain, and I always was hoping for her recovery from addiction.  News of her death devastated me on Saturday the way most celebrity deaths do not.  Perhaps listening to her albums made me feel like I knew a deeper part of her, or maybe I know that she could have done so much with her talent, but either way, I think the music industry lost something very special on Saturday.

ANYWAY…. (there really is no good way to transition off of this into the next subject).

This weekend was filled with some crazy shopping experiences.  After getting a 5.4 mile run in on Saturday morning, Aaron and I ventured to the REI Scratch and Dent Sale.  I actually have never been, but WOW.  The sale opened at 9 am, and when we got there shortly before, the line was around the building.  It was a complete mad dash for the best Birkenstocks and camping backpacks.  I helped Aaron grab some stuff, and then made my rounds at about 9:10, and everything was pretty well picked over.  It was kind of like the Day After Thanksgiving for hippy outdoorsy people.  But I can see why.  We snagged a Garmin for $100 and a fuel belt for my half marathon for $20 (regularly $50).  If I had known how crazy it was, I probably would have made my game plan ahead of time and went for the women’s apparel, but luckily Aaron knew just what he was doing, and scored some great deals.

On our way home, we stopped by the Border’s liquidation.  As a true book nerd who is mortified by the thought of e-readers and the lost art of book publishing, I was sad to find out that another book retailer was going out of business.  Admittedly, Borders does charge more than the likes of Amazon for the same product, but, as the weirdo who can spend hours browsing around the literature section, I have one less place to indulge myself.  The sales really aren’t that great yet.  Most books are only 10% (still more expensive than Amazon).  But CDs and DVDs are 20% off and magazines are 40% off.  We mostly grabbed a bunch of magazines, and then waited about 30 minutes in line to purchase.

In the middle of all our sale shopping, we went to Summerfest in Nob Hill.  For Summerfest, the neighborhood closes down Central Ave. to traffic allowing for lots of walking across what is usually a busy intersection.  The convenience was nice, but in all, it wasn’t too exciting.  I know as the event gets bigger (I think this is only the 2nd year that it has occurred), it will draw better vendors and more activities, but for the most part it was kind of like it is on any normal day with more people and less traffic.  It was also windy and rainy when we were there.

Sunday continued our sale shopping madness (after another 5.4 mile run) with a 10% shopping spree at Dillard’s, a perk hat you earn when you spend insane amounts of money  on their store issued credit card.  Dillard’s is really the only department store worth visiting in Albuquerque (we have no Nordstrom and our Macy’s carries about half the inventory that most normal Macy’s carry).  I kinda forgot that 10% off isn’t really a good deal until AFTER my two pairs of shoes were rung up. 10% off isn’t really helpful at all.  But, oh my goodness, I am in LOVE with my new shoes.  I may or may not have been wearing them around the house the last day.  I also bought Aaron a present.  This summer he will be smelling like Justin (Timberlake, NOT Bieber) with Givenchy Play Intense (or Intense Play?).  I figure Justin probably smells pretty good.

BCBGeneration

Vince Camuto

In other news, Giuseppe drank too much this weekend (but really, this was posed and he can’t drink until he’s 3 so no alcohol was actually consumed).  He also got kind of freaked out by the rain storm (like, the first rainstorm in 2 years), and decided peeing on the carpet was a much safer option…7 times in a row.  Back to square 1.  But before then, we had 9 accident free days, so hopefully it will be a fast transition back to being house trained.

Giuseppe, no!

Wishing for Brasil 2014

source: noholidaynolife.com

Even though I don’t really have much interest in sports, I will follow two things: college basketball (well, my college team anyway, and usually only if they are winning, which they sometimes do, though sometimes not… but it’s a sore subject and I don’t want to talk about it), and World Cup Soccer.  Last summer during the Men’s World Cup in South Africa, I was unemployed so I watched about 95% of all the games for the entire tournament, and kind of became obsessed with Landon Donovan and Wayne Rooney ( who, like Hugh Grant, likes to hang out with prostitutes).

I will admit that the only game I watched this summer for the Women’s World Cup was the final game on Sunday, and chances are I wouldn’t have watched it had the U.S. not been involved (though, muchos congratulations to Japan).  And I probably will not remember Abby Wambach or Hope Solo in 12 years the way I remember Brandy Chastain and Mia Hamm.  But watching the game on Sunday renewed my excitement for the next (Men’s) World Cup…Brazil 2014!

Last summer, in the height of the excitement, Aaron and I decided that we must watch the World Cup in person in 2014.  Not only would we get to see one of the world’s biggest sporting events live, but we would also be in…BRAZIL!  We’d be alternating between soccer and drinking caipirinhas at Ipanema Beach.

Brazil is AMAZING.  I can actually say this with authority because I spent a month there during my senior year of college in 2007.  Me along with 11 classmates escaped the freezing cold of January to enjoy the Brazilian Summer.  The Brazilians treated us like family, and despite a language barrier, we never felt like foreigners.  The beaches and food are great, and that big Jesus statue (Christo de Redentor) is actually quite breathtaking.  Plus, the currency exchange rate means you get things for about half price.

Copacabana Beach, 2007

Christo de Redentor, 2007

The country is also obsessed with soccer.  While I’ve seen some rowdy (American) football fans, and Lord help any Boston Red Socks fan who try to pick a fight with my Yankee loving husband, Brazilian futbol fans are in a whole different league of dedicated.  We went just months after the 2006 Cup where Brazil didn’t win the tournament for the first time since 1994, and the country was still in mourning.  We went to a season opener game, and the chants of the fans shook the stadium.

Brazilian Soccer Game

Brazilian Soccer Fans

My feet in legendary soccer star Pele's feet

I don’t know if this Soccer/Brazilian adventure will actually happen, but I can keep this as a happy dream in my heart for the next three years.  Brazil isn’t exactly the cheapest place to fly to, and I can imagine that hotel costs will be jacked up pretty darn high for the festivities.  And, I don’t really know how the tickets to the games work, but I’ve heard that there is some sort of a lottery system so we might be watching Wayne and Landon duke it out in the finals (HA!)….or we might be watching some game between some countries that we care nothing about at the very beginning of the tournament.  But even then, I think being there and being part of a worldwide celebration would be worth getting whatever tickets we end up with.

So, here’s to dreaming about futbol, Landon, Wayne, and RIO in 2014.

Welcome to Rio!

Giuseppe…The Only Thing Interesting About My Week.

 

After a crazy two weeks, I am enjoying a very unproductive day off complete with a few hours of 1999 era Sex and the City episodes and quality Giuseppe time.  While I’ve been spending too many hours at the office, Giuseppe has been hanging out at my parents’ house, bonding with Romeo and stealing his toys.  But today he is all mine.

Giuseppe and Romeo

 

I am happy to report that we have almost completely house trained him (although we did have a random accident this morning…he must have known I was going to brag about him today), and he rolls over on command.  He actually doesn’t even need a command.  He sees a treat, and he automatically rolls over.   He’s also starting to develop a quirky personality, and he LOVES attention.  I never knew not having the time to throw his stuffed bunny around for him at 7:30 am would cause such guilt.

I also realized that I haven’t uploaded pictures of him in a few weeks (goodness…I’m starting to sound like a crazy mommy).  And since I haven’t done anything exciting except work this past week (well, that, and organize a very successful job fair), I can always default on puppy pictures!     

Giuseppe in the drawer

Treats?

Tailgating, Santa Fe Opera Style

As fore mentioned, my family is a little crazy about the opera

After seeing productions of Tosca and Madame Butterfly, I have a particular fondness for Puccini.  About 10 years ago I was a die-hard Rent fan, and I can still belt out almost every song on the soundtrack (Would you light my candle?), and get excited every time I see Idina Menzel on TV.  But, despite all this, I had managed to go almost 27 years never seeing what is one of the most famous of all operas, La Boheme.  I knew the basic storyline because of Rent, I know most of the music (Musetta’s Waltz = happiness), and thanks to Moonstruck, I hold the belief that this particular opera holds a special power over the people who see it.  

On Friday, I was finally able to experience La Boheme for myself at the Santa Fe Opera.  As much as I don’t LOVE Santa Fe like the rest of the world, I will say that the opera house is stunning with its outdoor theater concept and AMAZING view.  The productions themselves tend to be pretty world-class although I sometimes take objection with their set design.  All in all, it is a treat to be able to go to a show there every year.  Santa Fe’s La Boheme didn’t disappoint.  Even though I would have been ok if Mimi’s death scene was a little shorter, it was a perfect production. 

Not the best picture, but the view from the balcony

Again, not the best picture, but the Santa Fe Opera House from outside

Another unique aspect to the Santa Fe opera is the tradition of the pre-show tailgate.  Much like Seasoned football fans, seasoned Santa Fe Opera-goers have tailgate parties in the parking lot before the show.  Obviously, however,  this isn’t your typical Bud Light and burgers tailgate. 

Tailgaters

New Mexico sunset

I think every security guard needs a scooter

With no dinner plans, Aaron and I decided to try out this tailgating tradition. Turns out Aaron is great at picnic planning. We had sangria, a deli meat selection , a cheese selection, hummas, pita chips, apples, and bruchetta to munch on while enjoying the beautiful northern New Mexico sunset. Thanks to our friends at Trader Joe’s the meal was perfectly pre-packaged and very inexpensive. But even at that, our tailgate didn’t compete with some of the tables we saw complete with table clothes and flower vases. Maybe next year!

Well stocked cooler

Cheese!

 

Our humble table setting

Wine, History, Friends, Family and No Fireworks Whatsoever

Northern New Mexico Landscape

Well, the glorious 3-day weekend is officially over and dead,  and (thankfully) the work week is already half way done, but I’m just now downloading pictures and sitting down at the computer to think about it.   Because we were off in Jamaica for Memorial Day weekend, this is really the first 3 days that we’ve had at home since February, so we had a nice relaxing weekend.

We started off on Saturday by heading up to Santa Fe.  Because our puppy is still too little to be left alone for long periods of time, we left Giuseppe with his new friend Romeo (and I use the term “friend” rather loosely since apparently they had half an hour of friend time and about 5 of unfriend time).  Romeo is the new dog recently adopted by my parents and sisters.  He is a Peka-tzu  and he isn’t used to such white furball bundles of energy.  I think Giuseppe’s playful attitude may have been too much for poor Romeo to handle as evidenced by his mid-play asthma attack.  Giuseppe is having another Romeo playdate tomorrow which will hopefully go better.

While Giuseppe was hanging out with my family, Aaron and I drove up to the Santa Fe Wine Festival.  We almost always go to the Labor Day New Mexico Wine Festival but we don’t usually make it out to this one because it is smaller and in a big dirt area, not to mention that Santa Fe wine people tend to be a bit pretentious (think Fraiser, but more hippy).   

Aaron purchasing a bottle that will soon break through the bottom of the bag and shatter...

Aaron and I take our wine festivals pretty seriously. We normally take notes and hold up the tasting line to talk to the staff about their selections, and then we buy a lot of bottles.

 

The festival was held at Ranchos de las Golandrinas which is a “living history” museum showcasing everyday life on the 1800’s New Mexican frontier. American Girl Josephina’s world is actually based on this museum. Neither Aaron nor I have been since elementary school, so we took a walk around. The docents weren’t out, so we didn’t really learn anything, but the old buildings are always fun to look at.

 

Of course 4th of July was on Monday. Because fireworks and extreme drought conditions don’t mix and similarly because fireworks and timid baby puppies don’t mix, we didn’t partake in the usually festivities, but we did take a cue from our Jamaican vacation and drink some “American flag” drinks (equal parts daiquiri and pina colada mix, dark rum to top it off, and a splash of blue Curacao).

 

As is the case after any 3 day weekend, returning back to work yesterday was slightly painful, especially because I will be going crazy until next Thursday when the job fair I am organizing is over. But, I did get one last “weekend moment” last night when I got to hang out with friend Ariela and her husband James. Ariela and I were friends in high school, but she has since moved to Portland and only comes back home on occasion. Always nice to see old friends and to see that they are happy and doing well.