Sunday, April 29, 2012

Visit to Cambridge

Yesterday, Seth and I drove to Cambridge to visit with Molly and George. We had an awesome time.

We started the visit by going out to lunch at a great cafe and bakery called Flour. When we arrived at the cafe a little bit after 12:00, the place was packed! Seriously, I have never seen such a line. But this gave us time to figure out our meal plans. I had a grilled portobello melt with mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto. I also had a home-made raspberry seltzer, which was extra tasty.

This week, Cambridge was having the Cambridge Science Festival. There were special science activities, events, exhibits, and talks all around the city. One of the events was called Down to Earth Outer Space, which was a series of space hands-on exhibits and a talk at the MIT Museum. Since none of us had been to the MIT Museum, we headed over there after lunch.

We made it just in time to hear the talk about the missions to Mars. The presenter talked a good deal about the new robot heading to Mars, Curiosity. It should be there in just under 100 days and has a whole range of instruments to test Mars rocks and for potential habitability of the planet. It will also be the first space lab to have a camera that can take video in addition to pictures. I'm planning to check in on it's website one the lab makes it to the Red Planet to see some footage.

After hearing the talk, we look at the exhibits in the museum. There were, as promised, some pop-up exhibits regarding space science. There was also a massive exhibit of slide rulers. Upstairs in the museum, there was a robotics exhibit as well as an art gallery which featured amazing holography. There was also an art exhibit called, Gestrual Engineering. This featured kinetic sculptures, and they were unspeakably cool! One of the pieces was called Behold the Big Bang. It features a set of interlocking turning wheels ( called reduction gears) which move and turn one another. The one on the far left is turning quite quickly, the one on the far right is turning so slowly that it will take an estimated 13.7 billion years (the age of the universe) to complete one rotation.

Because the joy of this exhibit was the movement of all the pieces, I took some videos of the various installations.

Very nifty, as you can see!

After the museum, we headed by to Molly and George's were we played a very fun game of Settlers of Catan, a very popular German board game. Seth and I got this game a while ago and have been dying to play but it needs four people, and we rarely have that many guests. After a great dinner, Molly and George headed out to the the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Seth and I headed home. What a fun day!

Monday, April 23, 2012

This Weekend

It's been quite a busy and exciting couple of days. I had a lovely weekend. Saturday I got to visit with my mother and then Sunday I headed out to eastern Massachusetts for Sarah's shower.

The shower was at Sarah's house since she lives with her maid-of-honor, Heather, who coordinated the shower (with a little help from me). Everything when great! On Saturday, I picked up flowers from the Amherst Farmer's market (potted mini daffodils) and baked goods from Whole Foods (scones, chocolate croissants, danishes, cinnamon twists). I brought some iced tea in a nice pitcher Seth and I got for our wedding and haven't used yet. I also brought some table cloths and serving plates.

We put together a wonderful spread! We had mini sandwiches, loads of mini desserts, brie and crackers, quiche, roasted potatoes, asparagus, and fruit salad. 

There were lots of nice drinks, including the basics: water, some iced tea that I blended, and mimosas.

Sarah got some awesome gifts! I took a picture of the gifts when only about a third were there, but you can still see that there was some exciting stuff. Sarah and her fiance, Garrett, got a Dyson DC25 vacuum, a comforter and sheet set with shams, bed skirt, and throw pillows, loads of kitchen stuff, and some of their china pattern.

The shower was a ton of fun, and it was great to visit with Sarah and all my friends that live in eastern Massachusetts. When I got home, I was in for a nice surprise, Seth was going to make me an exciting new dinner. Knowing how much I love matzo ball soup, he made us matzo lasagna! 

To make the matzo lasagna, Seth used his grandmother's lasagna recipe and substituted lasagna noodles for matzos.

In order to make the matzos noodle-like. We boiled water and then submerged the matzos in the water for 30 seconds.

We then assembled the lasagna like normal with sauce and cheese. Seth added in mushrooms and meat (which you would not do if you kept Kosher, of course).

We cooked the lasagna in the oven for 40 minutes, let cool, and voila!

It was super tasty! What a great idea for someone keeping kosher over Passover, who has a pasta desire.

In other news, now that the weather is nicer, I have been taking some time to do some more running. As I think I've mentioned before, getting back into running as been a bit tricky. I haven't done any running in over three months while I devoted myself to my Insanity programs. I did have some definite discomfort in my quads after my runs for the past couple of weeks, but I think I have finally turned a corner. I went for a 5K run around my neighborhood on Saturday and felt fine on Sunday! No discomfort. I was so happy. 

As a follow up, I decided that I wanted to condition myself to be able to do a distance of 10K. After all, I've been running around 5K when I go out for my runs now. I have been using Nike+ to track my runs. Basically, this is a little sensor in my shoe that links with an app on my iPhone and tracks my distance. I then save all my distances and times on the Nike+ website. I noticed that the Nike+ website has a coach section where you could select a program that would coach you for a 10K distance. I wanted to check it out, but it became evident right away that it wasn't going to work out. The third run they wanted me to do was a distance of over 8K, which is way farther than I have ever gone. I needed to be eased into it. I noticed that there was a couch to 10K  in 14 weeks app for sale for 99 cents in the app store. I downloaded it, and now plan to start this program at around the 7 week mark and gradually increase my mileage up to 10K. We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We Live in Exciting Times

It's been a little while since I've written. The first bit of exciting news is that I finished the Asylum workout last Tuesday. I took the final fit test and was very happy with how I was able to do more reps of all the exercises with more precision. I definitely feel the fittest I've ever been. I went ahead and recorded my results and sent before and after pictures to Beachbody who sent me the Asylum t-shirt. Here I am in a sub-standard picture wearing it with my pajamas. 

Now, I want to start doing a bit more running again. I think I started off with too much enthusiasm. I haven't done any running the past three months. With doing Insanity and then Asylum, I didn't want to do high impact activity when I was at the gym, so I had been using the elliptical. On Saturday, I want running. I used this new app, Zombies, Run!, that I got for my iPhone. Using headphones, the app lets you play out an immersive game. It's the zombie apocalyptic and you have to help save yourself (and the day!) by running and collecting supplies. Fun times. However, in an effort to elude the zombie hordes, I think I ran to hard and far (three miles or so) for my first time out in a while, and my quads have been killing me. Hence, I've been taking it easy for the past few days. I'll be back in the exercise saddle soon though!

I've also been working on knitting the shawl that Seth bought me the materials for for Valentine's Day. It's around a third done.

The simple lace pattern naturally biases into a parallelogram. I'm going to need to block it when I'm done to clean up the edges and open up the lace-work. I'm thinking of trying to block by ironing instead of doing a full wet block, but I'm not sure how it will all work. I am a super inexperienced blocker, so this will be a good time to learn a new skill.

This past weekend, I traveled to Connecticut for Passover. My nephew is getting to be quite the gentleman dog. He's not a puppy anymore! So handsome.

It was also great to see Greg while I was home as he just got back from a trip to Scotland for his girlfriend Grace's sister's wedding. He got me this super cute bag from Scotland for a birthday gift.

Apparently the company that made it, Ness, is the Coach of Scotland. The bag I got is a change purse and super cute! I love it. 

After the visit with family on Saturday, I returned late to an adventure in the basement. Apparently, our water heater had decided that the end to its long lift has finally come. While we were lucky and the tank didn't rupture, we were left with a bunch of water on the floor that ran out of the overflow valve. We cleaned up with towels and ran the dehumidifier. We then took cold showers.

Now, three days and many sponge baths from stove heater water later, a new water heater is getting installed in the basement. While I am totally bummed at the prospect of spending around $1,700 on a new gas water heater, labor, and the cost to bring our water heater up to code, I am so looking forward to not having to wash my hair in a pot that I think it will be worth it. Plus, it's not like this was totally unexpected -- we knew we had around two to five years max on the water heater when we moved it. 

Based on our usage, research, and talking with the plumber, we're installing another standard gas tank which will be most cost effective with upfront cost and over the long haul. I'm looking forward to resuming my normal hot water usage in the next hour or so!