29 March 2011

spring, hurry up already

So I guess I should make another post before March ends! Hmm so what's new.

Last Wednesday, I got into a fender bender while driving at night to pick Takeshi up from work like usual. I was sitting at a red light and my car gets a good "Bonk!".....hmm??? Oh great. Nothing too bad: two scrapes/dings on my back bumper, but still needs fixing. So the dude has been (so far) pretty nice about it and wants to write me a certified check, on the 15th of April. The crappy thing about getting the car fixed is that the shop needs it for 3 days??!! Sigh. So I factored in rental car costs for 3 days to what the guy owes me. Times like this, makes me wish we could afford another car! But if we don't have to pay for it, then whateve'.

Our 3 year marriage anniversary is coming up on May 16th! This year we decided to take it up a notch and GO somewhere, instead of just a nice dinner somewhere. :) Aaaand we're going to sunny Florida! Which I have never been to, so I'm excited to hit those beaches!! I love the ocean. We'll be staying at a rental condo in Daytona Beach for a week for NO CHARGE, thanks to my best friend's very generous and AWESOME grandfather who owns it! So, so nice of him. I'll be calling him sometime soon about information and such. That saves us about $300-$400. Lol. From Google Map it looks like the beach is only a 5-6 minute walk away. Nice. :) So, jazzed about that, and reading up on places to go and see. Anytime I step out outside right now into the chilly breeze, I just picture myself on a white sandy beach, playing in the water. Hehe.

Going to the D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival on April 9th, which should be fun. But I've read about the peak blooming time for the cherry blossoms in D.C. and by then, it will have ended. So TK and I are going a weekend earlier (this Sunday) when it is still the peak blooming time, to see the trees. And dawdle around, since we don't get to go to D.C. that often.

2 possible job prospects are going on right now, but I don't want to get my hopes up again, of course. We'll see.

Made my very first batch of miso soup the other night! Very proud of myself, and it didn't taste that bad! :) Even Takeshi said so! Since he's Japanese AND a chef, his "critique" of my Japanese dishes definitely count. Lol.

Dog walking is going well for what it is. Got a new dog - or puppy I should say! Golden Retriever puppy (about 11 weeks old now) named Ace who is the chubbliest, adorable thing ever, and bites everything in sight. I hope that changes soon!

I leave you with recent random photos! Have a good week, all.

Sam, Sussex Spaniel :)

Pete at the park

Hazy day in Old Town.

Ace the Golden Retriever - energy!

Always-cheerful Sydney. Black Lab. I love him to bits.

Old Town from 14th floor from client's apartment

Mimsy the tweeny-weeny poodle

Miso soup!

Dexter deciding to get a drink a different way

Having fun with Sam!

04 March 2011

Baltimore and Philly in 2 days

It's March now! Spring is getting closer and closer! :D

So, as it would happen, Takeshi had last Saturday AND Sunday off which is so unusual. So we decided to take advantage of it and go somewhere! It ended up being 2 places where we knew we could drive to (without a 4+ hour trip) and still have time to do things there during the day. We went to Baltimore, MD on Saturday then drove up to Philadelphia, PA that same day, stayed in Philly overnight, next day finished visiting Philly, and then drove back Sunday evening.

All in all it was a good trip, even though we found out that (for us) there's way more stuff to do in Philly than in Baltimore. And second, the trip greatly improved our opinion/view of Philadelphia, since the LAST time we were there, it sucked. That was mostly due to the fact that we were rushing to catch a flight to move to Japan (in 2008-ish?), and I we ended up going to the emergency room at midnight because of my sinuses. Long story short, we wasted about 3 hours, $300, and about a 10-minute visit from a doctor to tell me that they really couldn't give me anything for my misery.

But it's true that we didn't really get to SEE Philly that much, that time. I had also been to Philly a couple of times before on college trips, but those days were spent at the art museum.

In Baltimore we went to the National Aquarium, which I hadn't been to since grade school, and Takeshi had never been to. Even though I have a fondness for the place, Takeshi and I agreed afterwards that the aquarium back in Japan, in Toba is way better. They walruses and penguins there. :) We tried looking for a place to eat lunch at in the area, before we would head off to Philadelphia. We wanted to find somewhere unique to Baltimore that would interest us (and not bankrupt us), but didn't find anything and settled for a Panera Bread. Took a short stroll through Baltimore's "Little Italy" which was very sad-looking and deserted. Kind of a shady area too...

Got to Philly and went to the Reading Terminal Market, an interior market with multiple, different food stands, grocery shops, herb shops, etc. After that, since it was getting later, we decided to search around for a hotel for the night. We wanted to stay in Philly without busting our wallets on the room. Oh the magic of iPhones! We just searched online in the car for 10 minutes, called some places, and finally found one that was decently priced. We ended up getting a "suite" which included a walk-in closet, and a tiny kitchen area, both of which we didn't need to use. The place was older for sure. We could see uneven paint-jobs on the walls and ceiling, and the oven looked dirty. We through our stuff in the room and looked around for a place to eat. Takeshi already had a place in mind, some restaurant he had heard about through the grapevine again, called "LaCroix" located in the Rittenhouse hotel. Talk about a fancy hotel! I felt so out of place sitting the marbled, glistening lobby outside of the restaurant doors. We were dressed in casual clothes, and everyone else was walking around in dresses, suits and ties, and looking very important. Dinner was very good, and a higher price came with it of course...The restaurant had some very good drinks on the menu - I had a blackberry bourbon drink of some kind, and then a very delicious Vanilla Cappuccino martini. I usually take photos of each of the courses whenever we get tasting menus, but after the first drink I pretty much just gave up. Haha. :) Besides the place had lower lighting, so the few photos I did take in the beginning weren't that good.

Left the restaurant at around 10pm-11pm, and walked back to the hotel. Thankfully it was close enough! But Takeshi got turned around a little with the directions (I wasn't the only one having drinks!), and we ended up passing a huge fountain in a vast circle.

The next day, we finished up our trip with first going to a Japanese grocery store I had found online, named "Maido!" located outside of Philly. Cute little place in a cute neighborhood. Small place, with a small counter on one side of the store where people could order affordable dishes, with a small TV attached to the wall airing Japanese TV. Man I miss watching TV back home. I stood there for 5 minutes just watching it. We got some things we probably couldn't find anywhere else in person, beside ordering it online, such as okonomiyaki-ko. The young guy who run us up spoke English very well (made me wonder if he was Japanese-American or a Japanese native). At the end when he finally took a look at Takeshi's card and saw his name, he uttered a small "arigatou gozaimashita". I guess both of them were wondering the whole time if the other one was really Japanese and knew the language! Hehe. :) I wish I could have had TK speak Japanese. I miss hearing it SO much. I like it when he speaks the language, I don't know why.

After that we went to the Little Italy of Philly! Much better. Lots of good tiny shops with yummy merchandise. We went into a small cafe which I had again looked up online and read about, called the "Rim Cafe", owned and run by one very charismatic Renee, from Nice, France. He was a trip! And so was the decor. And his drinks were oh so good. I definitely want to go back there whenever we go back to Philly.

Baltimore National Aquarium

the lovely travelin' couple :)

We got there almost when it opened so the line was next to nothing

sea turtle getting fed some brussels sprouts

manta rays

different jellies

sculpture in the harbor

walking to the Reading market right after arriving the parking in Philly

Reading Terminal Market

random photo of our little hotel room kitchen

a little tired from driving!

restaurant in the Rittenhouse Hotel

huge fountain while walking back from the restaurant

the view from our hotel room the next day

downtown Philly

photos of Little Italy in Philly

crazy interior photos of the Rim Cafe

very unique, hand-made chocolate blocks Renee uses to garnish drinks! yumm

my drink! A Vanilla "White" Volcano

Renee himself! Preparing TK's Cappuccino Brulee