A Celebration of NOT Being Housebound

I semi-ignored all chatter of Hurricane Irene until Friday (Hurricane during Hurricane season in the Bahamas? Novel!) when I finally realized that the entire East Coast was going to be obliterated.  And then I couldn’t stop watching.  I don’t know what it is about natural disasters that drives my interest so much (maybe because THANKFULLY I have never been in one aside from some small earthquakes), but we had CNN on from Friday evening until Sunday morning, watching the storm as it made its way up the coast and waiting for mass chaos to ensue.

Even Giuseppe watched the coverage. 

In a moment of gratitude over not being one of the 65 million people affected by the storm, we thought we’d celebrate because unlike the masses stranded without transportation and under evacuation orders and curfew restrictions, we had complete freedom to be outside and just out of the house in general.

Actually, before making it out, we decided to try some Polish chocolate that one of Aaron’s clients brought from Poland.  Not as impressed with the candy, but I love packaging in foreign languages.  It makes the contents a little more of a surprise. You never know what kind of crazy things Polish people might put into chocolate.

After a somewhat unsatisfying chocolate experience, we decided that it was about time for Giuseppe  to visit the Nob Hill cafe that inspired his name,  Cafe Giuseppe. Plus, I had run out of coffee and desperately needed a coffee fix.

Sunday, after watching CNN try desperately to convince the nation that Irene really was that bad (not to say that flooding and any damage isn’t bad, it just wasn’t mass chaos), and after enduring an 8 mile run in the hot sunshine, we decided to take a quick trip up to the top of the Sandia Mountains for a hike.

It was nice to finally see some greenery and plant life after a summer with no rain.  The Sandia Crest is in a different climate zone, so it actually gets moisture more often than we do in the city.

Aaron packed us a picnic lunch complete with sandwiches, chips, cookies, and sangria for us to enjoy overlooking the city from over 10,000 feet above sea level.

Once we made our way back home (in time to watch Lady Gaga have an identity crisis on the VMA’s of course), we got our own little bit of hurricane weather with a downpour of a thunderstorm to usher us (fittingly) into the week.

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What I’m Loving Wednesday: August 24

Continuing my weekly link-up with Jamie at This Kind of Love for What I Love Wednesdays.

 I kind of had a hard time mustering up 10 things that I loved this week.  Perhaps my world is a little less loveable without fried food and laziness?  In any case, here is my “stretching it” list of things I love today, the last Wednesday of August (I wrote this and then looked at the calendar and realized that next Wednesday is actually the last Wednesday in August).

1. The name “Taco Stein.”  I truthfully haven’t been following the case of the missing lady in Aruba too closely (though, if you want a good/entertaining albeit unofficial synopsis, go here), but I do know that the Prosecutor General down there is named Taco Stein, which I think is a pretty cool name, and definitely a guy I would take seriously without giggling every time I heard him being called Taco…

 

2. Elsa Ross: This is a boutique in Nob Hill.  Under most circumstances I don’t  shop there because Diane von Furstenberg doesn’t really fit in my budget, but they have a great denim selection so I bought a pair of jeans there last weekend.  This store has AMAZING customer service.  The nice sales girl made sure that I picked the  right pair of jeans (and she brought out TONS for me to try), she was  informative about the clothes and brands, and the store will hem jeans for you which is always an added bonus.  AND THEN, to top it all off, yesterday, the owner called me just to make sure that I needed them hemmed up that much (of course I do because I’m shorter than a normal human). 

3. German for Drinkers: I’ve been following Oktoberfest Denver on facebook, and yesterday they started a “word of the day” but in German and related to drinking.  I’m excited to pick up some of this useful information!  For example, yesterday I learned that WAMPN is a “patronising expression for an oversized, hanging belly, caused by over-consumption of either fatty foods or beer.” I can’t wait to incorporate that into everyday conversation!

 

4. Daily Pinterest Inspiration: When browsing Pinterest this morning, I found this amazing looking tree house.  There are really only 2 requirements I have for a house.  One is a pool with a swim-up pool bar, the second is a tree large enough to build a house in.  When I find that house, I shall build this treehouse.  The rest of the blog entry, featuring some of the world’s best tree houses is here.

 

5. Puppy Jacket: Friend Rossann used to have Westies, and she very generously passed on some of her old puppy clothes for Giuseppe to wear (and chew).  I love this jacket so much that I am seriously considering buying a matching one. 

 

6. Warm weather: I’m happy to report that instead of cooling down, Albuquerque is actually getting warmer! Today is anticipated to be Day 2 of record-breaking August heat!

ToDryFor.com

 

7. Pumpkin Lattes: As much as I love warm weather, and as much as I shamelessly complain that summer is almost over, all this talk about fall has me seriously craving a Starbucks Pumpkin latte.  They aren’t available until September 1st, but I might be willing to bribe a nice barista to sneak some pumpkin flavoring in a little early.   Can they do that?

 

8. Green Chile Season: I was driving to work today and noticed some vendors setting up some roasters in the Sunflower parking lot.  Green Chile Season has arrived! I know that the drought conditions have affected the crop this year, so remember to buy early and buy in bulk. (When I got home Aaron already had picked up some!)

9. Most Interesting Man In the World Radio Ad Campaign: Seriously amazing.  Makes my day every time I hear one.  (The TV ones are ok, but not quite the same caliber).  I’ve often wondered if the character was based on Francisco d’Anconia  from Atlas Shrugged.  In any case, I think that ad campaign is great, even if it really has NOTHING to do with the product it is trying to sell.  ‎

10. Aaron and Giuseppe:When I read the What I’m Loving Wednesday posts from other girls that participate in the link up, they always list their husband as something they love (on Wednesdays). When drafting a list, I usually forget to put mine on there.  Does this mean I’m an unloving wife??? I don’t know, but I think it goes without saying that I won the husband (and puppy) lottery when I landed these two fellas.  Today, I had a dinner. a mojito, and a very excited puppy ready and waiting for me when I got home from work. If that doesn’t scream “won the husband and puppy lottery,” I don’t know what does.

Happy Wednesday! (only 7 more working days until Labor Day Weekend!)

Training Tuesday Week 1 and Tractor Brewery

Today will be my first “Training Tuesday” highlighting my half-marathon preparation which officially kicked off on Saturday.  I’m not gonna lie…eating more carbs and not feeling guilty about it has been a nice change!

Most experts agree that before jumping into training for a half marathon, you should have been doing 3-4 mile runs for about 6 months.

WEEK 1 TRAINING PLAN:

SATURDAY: Easy 3 mile run

SUNDAY: Run for 1 hour and then stop (hopefully not too far away to get back!)

MONDAY: Easy 3 mile run, weight-lifting (legs)

TUESDAY: Interval training: 1.5 mile warm-up jog, 5 sets of alternating 5-k speed quarter miles with jogging quarter miles (so…10 times around the track: 5 at a brisk pace, 5 at a jog pace), 3/4 mile cool down jog/walk, weight-lifting (upper body)

WEDNESDAY: Easy 3 mile run, weightlifting (legs)

THURSDAY: 30 minute “tempo” run (10 minute easy jog, 15 minutes at 10-k pace, 5 minutes cool-down jog), weight-lifting (upper body)

FRIDAY: off day…this can be used to make up any missed workouts, or can include swimming, yoga, or Pilates

I did also want to share some quick thoughts and pictures from our Friday night excursion to the new microbrewery, Tractor Brewing Company that just opened up on August 5th in Nob Hill (on Tulane behind Starbucks).  This brewery is based out of Los Lunas, and their Albuquerque location makes yet another locally owned microbrewery for us to choose from.  Beer is carbs, so I figure I’m loading up on running energy.

They have a clever website name: GetPlowed.com

They have a dog friendly patio which Giuseppe loved.

They have an open air atmosphere with a great indoor/outdoor space.

They don’t serve food, but we saw several people getting pizza walked over from Slice Parlor.

Fixed and Free (a fixed gear bike shop) is next door, so you get to do some people watching (Aaron liked bike watching)

As for the beer: we did a taster (everything but the IPA) and decided we like the Double Plow Oatmeal Stout and the Haymaker Honey Wheat the best.  I wasn’t a fan of their regular Pale Ale, but IPA fans should enjoy it.  All the other regular and seasonal selections were good too.

This place is great, friendly service, good beer, and we definitely plan on going back!

Also noteworthy from this weekend…. a man walking a goat down Central (which is unusual even for that neighborhood!).

Now, as I go wallow in my miserable soreness, watch out for Dan who will be taking over Lavender Parking tomorrow for the great Blog Swap!

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).

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!

StreetFood Asia: Far From Roach Coach

We have never been to Asia.  We have been to China Town and Japan Town in San Francisco and China Town in Honolulu, all of which I’m guessing are somewhat authentic, but I didn’t see anything in any of those places that resembled what I think of as Street Food.  In fact, when I think of Street Food, I think of Austin, TX and the plethora of makeshift trailer eateries scattered across the city (Aaron and I call them roach coaches, but there is a good chance that we are the only ones that do).

Austin Street Food

The unfinished storefront of StreetFood Asia on Central just west of Carlise has been tantalizing us for months.  We’ve walked by, we’ve seen the trendy looking décor and façade coming together, and we’ve wanted to know 1) what is Street Food if not roach coach style and 2) When is this new Nob Hill restaurant opening?

Apparently the restaurant opened sometime in January without our noticing, so this weekend we decided to check it out with the Lavender In-Laws.

I will preface by saying the food is REALLY good here.  I am by no means an expert in “authentic” Asian cuisine (I do love me some Chinese take-out, and have been known to overindulge in sushi but I hear they don’t actually eat that in China or Japan), but the food here is what I imagine authentic Asian to be.  No Beef and Broccoli, no Teppan  Grill.  Just soup with noodles and an assortment of Asian tapas.  Everything was flavorful and aesthetically presented, and I heard no complaints about anything food related from anyone.  Plus, the menu seems diversified.  I had curry, Aaron had something from Tokyo, and Mr. Lavender had a Korean sandwich.  Different Asian countries seem well represented. 

Kuala Lumpur Street Malay Curry Lasaka

That being said, the menu was pretty confusing.  For an entrée you have a choice of soups  but I didn’t really understand that all the entrees were soups until someone told me.  The soups come in huge bowls that are supposed to serve 3 people, but I don’t really know if I would like slurping soup out of the same bowl as 3 other people, especially because this is one of those chopsticks only eateries. Also, the menu is completely fish based, which is not good for this fish resistant person, but anything can be ordered with beef as a substitute for fish, which isn’t  noted on the menu.  You can also order sandwiches, but I feel that’s like ordering a burger at an Indian restaurant, so I bravely ordered curry with beef instead of the fish balls and fish chunks that are supposed to be in there, and was satisfied.

The tapas menu is much easier to handle, with staples like egg rolls and satays that are much easier shared than the soup bowl along with other items like chicken buns that I hadn’t heard of.  And, if you haven’t had a bad experience with sake like I have, then they have a good looking Sake selection.  I think even the pickiest and unadventerous eater can find something on the menu to munch on.

StreetFood Asia Tapas Sampler with satays, egg rolls, and ribs

Bejing Street Steamed Chicken Buns

I’m glad that Albuquerque is finally becoming cool enough to add more international flavor.  We need more places like this that expose us to cultures outside our own while also adding curb appeal to Nob Hill which was kind of  a rundown neighborhood only a few years ago.  The restaurant was packed on a  Saturday night, so I think it will do well, but I urge everyone to support local restaurants and Asian culture and give this place a try.

 

Sidenote: I saw Anthony Bourdain’s Cambodia episode yesterday, and in one scene he is seated next to a street vendor eating some type of noodle soup.  This leads me to believe that StreetFood Asia is an authentic representation of what you would find exploring the bustling streets in Asia.