Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

You Capture - Flowers

I was meandering through a park the other day when I came across these. They're crocuses, right!? In September?? I hate when Mother Nature gets confused. Look at the white stems. They're clearly not supposed to be out of the ground right now. :(


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The six week initiation at Curves has ended!

Unfortunately, these six weeks have not been great for me, healthwise (this is the ugly). The week before I went to England I did something to my back when I was bending over gathering up laundry. I self-diagnosed myself as having sciatica pain and it was excruciating. It hurt to sit. It hurt to lay down. It hurt to stand up. I couldn't really bend over. The only time it didn't really hurt was when I was walking. I found some stretches online and I've been doing those which has been really great. I still have some pain leftover, but it's totally manageable. It's amazing how beneficial some simple stretches can be. That whole experience had me out of the gym for over a week.

Then, last Monday we had finished dinner and watched some TV. My tummy was feeling a little dodgy, so I decided to go read my book (which is awesome, by the way) in bed. Cue the start of one week of not venturing further than 10 feet from the loo. This was not awesome at all. I knew something was seriously wrong when I craved an apple soooo much that I actually left the house (in my inside-only pants) and went to buy some apples. I didn't think it was physically possible to crave something as strong as I craved that freaking apple. Yesterday, I managed to make it out to a friend's house for a couple of hours and I felt really accomplished. That was one more week out of the gym.   

Today, I made it to the gym! Woohoo! I'm still not 100%, but I'm feeling a lot better now and hopefully I'll be okay for the rest of the month. I'm not a sickly type of person, so this is all really frustrating to me. So, that's TWO weeks out of six that I missed due to illness and I also missed another week because I was in England. I only got three good weeks of workout in the six week period and that's the 'bad'.  Today was the last day of the six weeks, so I asked to be measured.

The 'good' is I haven't gained any weight (but didn't lose any either), but I managed to lose inches off my thighs, waist, and chest. My % fat also went down slightly. My arms and hips stayed the same. They weren't huge numbers by any stretch, but for only getting three weeks of real workout, with those other three weeks spent either sitting on the couch nursing myself back to health or drinking wine with friends in England, I was really pleased! I've decided to continue going month to month. When I first joined she asked if I had anything coming up that I could work towards as an incentive. My life is so lame I was all, nope. Not a thing! Well, I've decided that thing I'm going to work towards is looking great for my friend's wedding in Pittsburgh this December! Hopefully I can make it through Thanksgiving in the US without doing too much damage!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Restaurant Review - Ship Ahoy, Crosshaven, Co. Cork

The Ship Ahoy opened in Crosshaven back in July, just in time for Cork Week. My mother in law asked if we wanted to try it for dinner on Saturday night so she booked us a table. We got there a little early, but they were still able to seat us which was nice. The building is really beautiful and the atmosphere in the restaurant is great. It used to be a furniture market, so it was basically just a long building with no character, but they did up the inside very nicely. Some of the chairs were old church pews, there were beams added to the ceiling, and the restroom was nice and clean. I never saw the place before, but my in laws and husband were very impressed. They sat us at a table which seemed perfectly fine to me, but then my husband sat down and we realized the table was very low. So low he couldn't get his legs under it. This would have been fine if we were there just to have drinks, but it's not exactly comfortable for him to eat his meal. The wait staff was really nice and they gave us a different table.

The menu was nice and varied and we were all able to find something we liked. We ordered nachos for our starter. Wes and my father in law had chicken stuffed with garlic cheese and wrapped in bacon. That was served with 'rustic' potatoes and salad. My mother in law had a pepper burger which was served on mashed potatoes with a creamy pepper sauce. I had the chicken caesar salad. They don't have a wine license, so it's BYOB with a corkage charge of 4.50 euro per bottle. This suited us just fine and it was definitely cheaper than buying two bottles from the restaurant.

Over time I've become less skeptic of nachos outside of the US, and just take them as they come. These nachos were served with a little pot of white stuff that I assumed was sour cream. It was very lemony and it tasted sweet. Frankly, it was gross. Without the sauce the nachos were fine. The restaurant was quite busy with some large parties, so it took a little while for our main meals to come out. That was fine as we had no place we needed to be and we were enjoying our wine. We all tuck in and my mother in law goes, 'This is really hot.' I asked 'Temperature hot or spicy hot?' 'Spicy hot.' Then she took another slug from her water glass. After she was finished she asked us to taste the sauce. OOOWEEE!!! They must have poured an entire bottle of black pepper into that sauce! I can't believe she ate the whole thing! I would have found it inedible to be honest and sent it back. All you could taste was black pepper. She gets this meal often when she goes out and she's never tasted anything like this sauce. I guess that was okay, because she said the 'creamy mash' was actually instant potatoes. What?? You don't give an Irish person instant mashed potatoes!!! At 13.50 euro, a side of some sort of vegetable would also have been a nice touch.

The guys had the chicken and they both really liked the chicken itself. It could have done with a quick minute under the broiler as the chicken and the bacon wrapped around it were looking a bit bland. Wes thought the 'rustic potatoes' were actually just frozen roast potatoes that they threw into the oven. There was nothing 'rustic' about them. He said the salad was 'not right'. I asked him to explain further and he just kept telling me it 'wasn't right'. Umm...okay. The portion sizes were actually pretty good, so if the taste was improved the 14.95 euro would be a very fair price. 

I had the chicken caesar salad. It was a pretty bog standard Irish-version of a caesar salad. There wasn't enough lettuce and there was a load of bacon at the bottom of the bowl. Wes was appalled when I told him it was 14.95 euro for my salad. It was no where near the size of a dinner portion salad.

Only my FIL got dessert and we all agreed it's pretty hard to mess up ice cream! He got five scoops, so that was great. My MIL said the cup of tea she had was the best part of her meal.

It's a shame the food wasn't better. The wait staff was fantastic and the atmosphere was wonderful. We decided we would give it a few months to work out the kinks and maybe try it again. At this point though, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You Capture - Photographer's Choice

I can't find my manual, so I have no idea what settings I used for this photo. I'm pretty sure I shot it on 'C' because it's my favorite setting. I have no idea what 'C' means, I just like the color saturation when I use that setting. I didn't use flash and I almost never do. I edited the photo using Picnik.

This was taken in Fort Camden, Crosshaven. 
You can almost see a young soldier stacking clean plates after dinner.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back to the in-laws!

Fortunately, I like them enough to endure a 4-hour coach ride. I try really hard not to think that in that same amount of time we would be flying down the east coast of the US towards DC, because that just gets me all depressed. Oh, how far is Cork from Dublin? 150 miles. Usually we get the train (which is 3 hours), but the husband convinced me that we'd save TONS of money by taking the coach. The last time we took it the cost was 15 euro return for each of us. This time it was 22 euro return. The husband then makes the mistake of saying, 'We should have just taken the late train, it was only a tenner more!' What now?? In fairness to him, he didn't know the price of the coach had gone up 7 ridiculous euro.

Being that I'm an American and all, coach trips mean crazy people on the Greyhound traveling to no where in particular. I have to say the crowd who uses the bus in Ireland is a lot less on the crazy side. Maybe the distances are just the right length before the crazies come to the surface. In fact, guess who was the crazy person on our coach home? That's right, this girl. You try being stuck on a coach bus with your underwire, having broken through it's fabric home now jabbing into your right breast, and tell me you don't turn into a crazy lunatic. Thankfully this happened on the first half of the trip, so I could take care of it once we got to the rest stop.

Happily, the weather cooperated this weekend and it was all this all the time:

We were going to go into Cork city on Saturday, but ended up going to Fort Camden. Pretty much every time we visit the in-laws we walk up to the fort. This is what happens when your husband is a military geek. It's closed to the public, so this is all we have been able to see of the fort:

Well, until now!! There is a movement to rescue Fort Camden and open the whole thing to the public. I sacrificed my day in Cork which would have included shopping and yummy scones, so Wes could finally see inside of the fort. See, it's not always all about me all of the time. Just most of the time. There were two rooms that were completely redone. Once housed a little military museum and the other one had some awesome photos of the fort taken by local photographers that were available to purchase. We wandered down a ways more and this volunteer told us to come in through the barriers to see a couple of the other rooms. Cool!

One of the billets, looking out towards Spike Island and Cobh

Part of the kitchen. The hook was for hanging meat.

The showers. The area I was standing in was where the baths were located.

You can see the level of repairs that need to be done.

As with most forts, the coolest parts are underground and these weren't open to the public just yet. There is a magnificent circular granite staircase that the professionals were able to photograph. 

We walked up to the square, passing where one if the guns had been mounted:

Then we watched as a storm hit Cobh, then skirted past us, hitting Fort Carlisle:

And of course we had to enjoy the beautiful views of Cobh and Spike Island, just after the rain had passed:

We were told that part of the big plan would be to have a ferry from Crosshaven to Spike Island (which they are also opening to the public). This would be really cool! Apparently, there used to be ferries going all over Cork Harbour and they're trying to restart them as a way of cutting down on road congestion. It's a lofty plan for Ireland and it will be interesting to see if it ever comes about.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to Blighty!

Just back from a great week in England and I'm tired. Why? Because the cat was SOOOOO excited to have us back that she chucked up her gob at about 4am. And when she was supposed to be sleeping with me this morning (see previous post) she decided to just pace around the bed and scream at the top of her lungs instead. I guess she missed us.

So yeah, we had a great time in England! Big shout out to the weather gods who kept the sun shining for 95% of the week. The 5% was when they allowed it to rain while Wes was running in the Bristol Half Marathon. Fortunately it stopped so I could pop out of the coffee shop and cheer him on. Here's a picture of him at mile 10. I yelled, 'Go Wes!' and he's looking right at me, but he says he didn't see me at all. Nice.

One of the highlights of the trip was a picnic in the park on Saturday. I guess I should give a little background: one of my friends that we visit is a girl I met on UK-Yankee when I was first planning my move over to England. She's American and moved to Bath with her Scottish husband just a few months before me. We had coffee in the first week or so that I was there and we've been friends ever since. She had a baby three years ago and another one is due this month. My OTHER friend that we visit is a family friend that I've known, literally, my entire life. We didn't keep in touch much, but our parents did. My mom was talking to her mom about my move to Bath and her mom was all, small world! She married an Englishman and now they have two kids. ANYWAY...still with me??? I introduced them and even though I don't live there anymore they still hang out and their kids love each other. I'm insanely proud of my matchmaking skillz.

Since they're moms and are awesome at planning play dates, they planned a picnic in the park on Saturday. It was a great time and the kids were run ragged. So was Wes. Here is a picture of him when we made him run the kite up the hill. Hey, he was the fastest and there wasn't much wind so we really needed some speed!

(Look for the blue speck in front of the tree)

After a few days in Bath and Bristol, we headed up to Manchester. Wes had a conference and I was lucky enough to meet up with a woman from UK-Yankee. We've been 'friends' for years and she was nice enough to entertain me for the day. I met her in Leeds and she showed me around and I got to sample some local brewskis at a couple of very cool pubs! I'm not sure why I didn't take our picture together. Oops.

I didn't take any pictures of Manchester, but it really is a lovely city centre. At one point I was bopping along thinking how it could be nice to live there. Then I passed an employment agency which had some jobs posted, listing their insanely low salaries when I had my sanity slapped back into me.

I'll end this really boring blog post by sending a shout out to Manchester airport. We were at the WHSmith in T1 and they had People magazine. People is the best magazine to read on a plane, hands down. I even blubbered to the cashier about how excited I was to see this.Yes, I'm that much of a dork.

Okay, I'm going to take a nap now.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

You Capture - Morning

Special weekend breakfast! Yummy!

Part of our morning routine. Wes gets up to go to work, he feeds the cat, she comes back to bed and we continue to snooze!