MSG and Eataly

My last two work trips to New York have been fun and productive, so I thought I’d blog about a few highlights.

First, last week during my visit I decided to attend a Knicks game.  I had never been to Madison Square Garden despite staying in a hotel right across the street on most of my visits, but I wasn’t too thrilled about the cost of admission.  Since acquiring Carmelo Anthony last month (and signing Amar’e Stoudemire earlier this year), the Knicks are finally becoming a team of interest again (after stinking for the last few years), so ticket prices are rising, and I figured now would be a good time to cross the Garden off the list of places to see.

My mission was to buy a “cheap” ticket from the scalpers outside the arena, and I knew I had some leverage since I was willing to wait until the game had started (and a single ticket is sometimes hard to unload).  It was a cold night with a heavy mix of sleet and small hail, but fortunately I had an umbrella (unlike most of the scalpers).  I spent a good 40 minutes talking with at least 25 different scalpers who were trying to sell tickets for $150-200.  They’d laugh at me when I told them I wasn’t willing to pay more than $40 for a ticket, and I’d tell them where they could find me when they were stuck with a ticket they couldn’t sell after the game started.  Most got the message that I was a stubborn customer, but eventually, about 10 minutes after the game’s scheduled start time, I was able to get a ticket for $25!  That was actual face value, and while it was in the upper deck, I didn’t care.  I had won this round, New York!

Inside MSG, it was amazing!  The atmosphere was electric, and walking around the concourse, it seemed like every seat (even in the upper deck) was a great view.  I only ended up missing 6 minutes of the first quarter by waiting for a cheaper ticket (and Bernie Williams playing the national anthem on the guitar – unexpected!), and I still got to watch an exciting game featuring the all-stars mentioned above.  The Knicks were playing the Orlando Magic, so I also got to see an outstanding performance by Dwight Howard and his teammates Jameer Nelson, Gilbert Arenas, and Jason Richardson.

Being a single at an event has its advantages, and I used it to find a much better seat in the second half.  I snuck my way down to the lower level and had a fantastic seat to enjoy the game.  The Knicks ended up blowing a lead in the fourth quarter and losing, and the New York fans booed mercilessly.  It was kind of funny.


Second, during my February visit I had an amazing pizza dinner at Eataly, Mario Batali’s restaurant/food emporium.  It was great, and due to a team retreat last week, I got to have even more of their pizza for lunch.  Eataly is a bit overwhelming with so many amazing food products and small areas to eat.  You literally dine among the shoppers, and everything you eat is made from products sold in the store.  The cheese counter alone made me wish I had a free shopping spree there, like you used to be able to win at Toys R Us when you were a kid.  The meat counter was a thing of beauty, and I was most surprised by the availability of a whole butchered rabbit for sale.  The fresh pasta, gelato, produce, bread, I could go on and on…it’s all so amazing.

Sorry for the photo quality - camera phones can't do anything justice, so I've stolen a couple from other sites.




In all, I’ve had the privilege of tasting six different pizzas they serve!

1. San Marzano – their margherita pizza (on left of photo) – nice, but usually I need toppings for oomph

2. Casandrinella – ricotta, mozzarella, ham, and parmigiano reggiano (on right of photo) – nice, but not a huge ricotta fan

3. Ventura – mozzarella, parma ham, shaved parm, and arugula (middle of photo) – would definitely eat again

4. La Verace TSG – buffalo mozzarella, parm, sorrento evoo, and basil – similar to the San Marzano, but far superior

5. Scisciana – gorgonzola, parm, mozzarella, and parma ham – the gorgonzola makes it, so very good

6. Massese – Mozzarella, basil, and neapolitan spicy salami – the salami was some of the best I’ve ever eaten!


I highly recommend everyone visit Eataly for the full experience.  Other highlights included a fun meal at a Korean place that a coworker showed me.  The only signs were in Korean, and it was located on the second floor behind an unmarked door.  I felt like quite the insider.  We had some great fried chicken, pork kimchi, pickled radish cubes, and soju.

Another fun thing I did back in February was meet up with the Purdue Alumni Club of NYC to watch the Purdue/IU game.  I hope to hang out with that group more often, and definitely during basketball season next year when I’m in town!


Update on Eliza

Over the last few weeks Eliza has grown up a lot.  She is talking all day long and repeating new words over and over.  At her last doctor’s appointment in January, Eliza was 32” long and 24 pounds.  She is pretty small for her age but has always steadily grown (and has a healthy belly to boot).   Her hair has been growing as well and we may actually need to cut it soon.  She loves wearing pigtails and her daddy loves them too. 
We’ve started working on discipline more since Eliza has been quite opinionated and a bit whiny.  A couple weeks ago she had to go into “timeout” for the first time, but it worked!  She’s usually a very happy and easy going little girl but every few days she can really wear me out with defiance, especially if she doesn’t feel good. 
Potty training isn’t going very well, and it’s mostly my fault (not hers) since I haven’t been regularly diligent with it.  Eliza still can’t really sense the “gotta go” feeling until it is too late, but sometimes we get lucky and happen to sit her down at the right time.  She’s had a few “liquid” successes but never anything consistent.
Eating is hit or miss since she’s bin a bit sick lately.  Some days she just wants carbs, and other days she’s a bigger fan of cheese.  I say “good bite” to her when she puts a big spoonful of something in her mouth.  Now she informs me when she has a good bite or when it is a “bad bite.”  Bad bites come falling out of her mouth, then she often hands them to me and says “trash.”
Her favorite game lately has been “hide seek.”  She started hiding in the middle of rooms until Kirk showed her some better hiding spots.  She will now hide for long periods of time and be silent waiting for us to find her, but sometimes we don’t even know the game is afoot until we realize we haven’t heard her in a while.  We need to teach Eliza how to inform people when the game has begun!  Her favorite spots to hide are behind doors and underneath the kitchen table.
For Christmas we got a family membership to the Children’s Museum.  Eliza would go there everyday if she could.  I try to take her weekly, but when she’s sick, she doesn’t get to go.  Eliza has had two bad colds and pink eye in the last two months, and there were some long nights with poor sleep.  She is now quick to tell you that her nose is “stuffy,” but I’m sick of her wiping snot all over her sleeves.
The Chihuly exhibit

Playing with her new friend, Abe
She loves the plane at the museum that flies her to Egypt.  It goes “rumble rumble.”
She’s a big fan of the dinosaur exhibitIMG_4318

Eliza has started doing what mommy and daddy do like "working" at her desk, having meetings with boys, and shopping at the store with her purse. 
Taking a business call and using her writing utensil , just like daddy


Time Off in Florida

We had a great time in Florida this January, and even though the weather was cooler than normal, we loved getting out of the snow! Two weeks was an amazing length of time off, and Eliza loved having her daddy and grandparents’ attention the whole time.

We spent three days at the beach. Eliza was not a fan the first day. She was very worried about her toes getting dirty and the waves were pretty cold and scary. The second day she was much more excited to find shells and even started playing in the sand, but her shoes were not allowed to come off because she had to stay clean. She loved seeing the birds and found it funny that they wanted her snacks.

13 weeks along

Eliza talks about the beach all the time but still has no interest in getting in the water. She says it is “too cold!” Maybe next time.

See more photos on flickr.

Half Way There

3642163059_ae41a3f31a_z It’s been a while since I blogged, but hopefully you all know our most recent big news – we will be having another GIRL!  Kirk and I are very excited to see two sisters grow up together.  We have been reading books and talking to Eliza a lot about being a big sister.  When asked, “Where’s the baby,” she’ll point at my growing belly, but she also thinks that she has a baby in hers, too!

This pregnancy has not been what we expected.  At our 8 week ultrasound the tech found a build-up of blood in my uterus.  I was put on a weight limit of 8 lbs with no exercising.   It made for some difficult weeks especially when Kirk was traveling.  I felt helpless in obeying what the doctor ordered since even Otis is over 8 lbs! 

When we went back 4 weeks later it was frustrating to find out that the mass doubled in size.  With this kind of build-up the body could reabsorb it or we were told it could stay there the whole pregnancy.  It was really getting me down to think of having this for 30+ weeks.  If the mass were to burst I would go into labor, so again I was reminded of the restrictions and tried to figure out how to be a mom and care for this unborn baby at the same time.

Timing couldn’t have been better, since right after this second ultrasound we had  a two week vacation planned in Florida.  It was a huge blessing and answer to prayer to have not only Kirk there but my in-laws as well to do all the lifting.  I did nothing but lay around, play with Kirk and Eliza, eat, and read for two weeks. 

When I returned home I went in for another ultra-sound at 14 weeks.  I had been praying that the mass had gone down in size.  I didn’t even think of praying that it would be gone.  Thankfully, the nurse couldn’t find any sign of it!  I was shocked and kept asking for her to check again.  Such a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders that I couldn’t stop smiling.  We were also able to find that we were having a girl and that she was looking perfect!  Over the last month I have been able to clean the house, lift Eliza when she asked me to hold her, and be excited about being pregnant.

This last week I went in for another ultrasound and my 20 week check.  Unfortunately, they found the blood build-up again.  This could be the same one or a new one, the doctor wasn’t sure.  I was put back on restrictions, but since I am out of the first trimester and the mass is not as big as it once was, my doctor is not as worried as she was previously.  I am trying not to get too stressed about it this time around and continue enjoying this pregnancy.  This little girl loves to move and I feel her all day long.  She also loves oranges and Mexican food!

Image from flickr.


Store Closing

Around the start of 2011 Williams Sonoma Home closed at the Keystone mall.  I have been blessed to be able to have worked there for the last three years, and I will miss it greatly.  They closed all but two locations nationwide as they focus more on website sales.  I am staying in the corporate family and have transferred to the Cuisine store.  I’ll miss having my hands in the design field, and the people that were on our small team will be irreplaceable, but I have enjoyed sharpening my cooking skills and getting inspired in the kitchen so far!