Monday, November 04, 2019

Daylight Savings Weekend

FB_IMG_1553553319733And it's Monday again. The US switched to Daylight Savings Time this weekend so we got our extra hour of sleep. Was definitely needed after coming back from California. It felt like a very long week. Especially last Monday when we headed straight to work from the airport (and only less than 2 hours of sleep on the plane) But even though I appreciate the extra hour of sleep with Daylight Savings the whole thing still aggravates me every time. It messes with your inner clock and schedule. I do like that (at least briefly) it's a little lighter again in the morning but of course tonight by the time I leave work it will be pitch black dark. It's always such an abrupt change. Ugh. 

So yeah, managed to get through the week even though the jetlag (or maybe just the fact of not sleeping much Sunday into Monday) affected me quite a bit this time around. But oh well, a new week ahead. We have a new person starting at work who I will be mentoring. I think that's the 5th person I am mentoring. Well I am coming up on 3 years at my current job (Nov 7) Crazy how time flies. So it will be a busy week ahead. 

The weekend was nice and relaxed. It was pretty cool/cold but sunny all weekend. This morning it was only 28F (-2C) when I woke up. The high is going to be 53F (11C) The 10 day forecast shows snow showers and frigid temps. Ugh. I guess we have officially entered that season now with crossing into November. Not really looking forward to another long winter. Really not my favorite time of the year but what can you do? 

So yeah, the weekend was quiet. Saturday we went to the movies and saw the new Maleficent movie and then had lunch in Oxford at 121. On Sunday we just slept in and then had lunch in Westport. And afterwards met up with our friends John and Jana for a bit before heading home to catch up on more recorded TV. 

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Lotte/Denmark, Celia/MA and Nina/WA.

Posted by Hanna at 07:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Santa Barbara -- hello & goodbye

Pixlr_20191027110508622I totally meant to update much sooner while here in California but I have no idea where our 5 day/4 night stay went. Pixlr (5) It's already time for us to go home tonight and I am so not feeling that at all. It's been a great time. 

So let's see and recap a bit. We left home on Wednesday morning. Our flight out of Newark was at 9am. We were off to LAX and had a decent layover there so we were able to grab lunch at a bar and relax for a bit. Then had a super short connection to Santa Barbara. I always love Santa Barbara airport. It's so convenient. Picking up the rental car was super easy and we were at our hotel (The La Quinta on State Street - near where EF is) in no time. The hotel is undergoing massive construction but the hotel staff has been really nice. They gave us a room facing the street, away from the construction in the back of the building. And they also agreed to let us pay the self park rate rather than the valet rate they are charging now. And the location of the hotel is convenient so really no complaints. 

Wednesday we walked up and down State Street, checking out the different restaurants and stores. I always play the game of "what used to be here" which is getting a little harder as time goes by, sometimes I can pick out two or three different things that used to be in any given location. Can't believe it's been 20 years since I lived here. So crazy. Anyway, Wednesday night we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant close to the hotel, Carlitos. It's a place that has been there for a long time but the first time we went. Good food and it was great being able to sit outside on the patio. 

Thursday was my birthday (40 .... ughhhhh) and we took advantage of the free breakfast downstairs and then headed over into the Santa Ynez Valley for wine tasting. The weather has been really hot and that day it reached into the mid 90ies in the Valley. We went to Brander Vineyard first and did a tasting there, then enjoyed a glass outside in the shade. Next stop was Beckmen which was really nice as well. After a tasting we enjoyed a bottle outside on their covered patio in the shade. From there we headed into Los Olivos and had a delicious lunch at the Wine Merchant's Cafe. And then stopped into one more tasting room in Los Olivos before heading back to Santa Barbara. For dinner we met up with my host mom Linda at Pascucci's. One of my all time favorite places in Santa Barbara. So good. Linda was driving up from San Diego and ended up getting stuck in some traffic which delayed her a bit but I was really glad that she was able to make it. 

Friday we drove to San Simeon to visit the Hearst Castle. We had been there before but this time we did the Upstairs Suites tour rather than the regular main suites tour. The next time we come back we will need to check out another tour. It's such a massive place and always fascinating to go there and hear all of the stories. After our tour we headed across the street to the beach where the Hearst Castle Winery has a tasting room in a big warehouse. They also had a food truck parked there so the perfect spot for lunch. Then continued on to Cambria and stopped at a few vineyards there as well. There is a whole wine trail in that area as well called the Pacific Coast Wine Trail. We went to Moonstone, Stolo and Twin Coyotes. All very neat. And on our way home we stopped at the Boathouse at Hendry's Beach for a lovely dinner on the beach. 

Yesterday, Saturday, we went for a 2 mile walk in Carpinteria by the beach at the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve. Was nice to be outside getting some exercise in and just to be near the ocean. I love the way the air smells near the ocean. After that we drove back into Santa Barbara and met Linda and her husband JD for lunch at the Shoreline Beach Cafe. Another great spot. The food was delicious and it was great to catch up. After lunch we headed over to the Funk Zone and then back to the hotel for a minute to clean up. And then a lovely dinner at the Santa Barbara Fishouse right down by the water. Another lovely spot I had wanted to try out and was not disappointed. SO good. 

And well now it's Sunday and we will already be leaving today. But at least before that we will get one more lunch at the beach. Heading to the Beachside Cafe in Goleta. Will be the perfect spot as we will need to be in that direction anyway for the airport so really a win-win. Not ready to leave but at least we will have a nice leisurely lunch/afternoon before actually heading to the airport. Then down to LAX and a redeye flight back to Newark. And then back to work. Ughhh. 

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Lotte/Denmark, Celia/MA and Nina/WA.

Posted by Hanna at 02:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 21, 2019

Hopkins Wine and Cheese Festival - perfect fall weather

IMG_20191019_141541_665Yup, it's Monday again. Why do weekends always fly by WAY too fast? I guess I really should not complain too much as I only have a 2 day work week this IMG_20191019_141737_786week. We are off to California on Wednesday morning and will be gone Wednesday through Sunday. We come back on a red-eye Sunday night into Monday morning. And then yeah you guessed it, straight to work from the airport. Definitely not looking forward to that but it is what it is and it's all about maximizing the vacation days given. :) 

Anyway, this past week was fine. We tried out Pulcinella's in Brookfield on Monday, in search for a new Italian place after Rizzuto's in Bethel closed down. Our bartender from Rizzuto's made the switch over there and it was fun to see her again, although a little weird being behind a different bar. But the food was good and we'll definitely have to go back. They have a great happy hour menu as well and happy hour is even until 7pm. 

The weekend was nice and Saturday truly was the perfect quintessential fall day. It was cool in the morning (we actually had a frost warning) but warmed up a bit and especially in the sun it was really nice. We headed to the Hopkins Wine and Cheese Festival at the Hopkins Vineyard. Took a nice walk around the area, near the lake, prior to the festival as well. Then walked around the festival where they had wine tasting from 5 vineyards, cheese, oils, breads and so on. We bought some cheese, some foccacia, some oils, all very yummy. Had some of it while catching up on our TV Saturday and Sunday night. 

Sunday was pretty low key. We went to the movies to see the new Zombieland movie. I am not usually a zombie type person but I really like the cast of these movies and they are definitely entertaining. After the movies we went for lunch in Oxford at 121 and eventually home to catch up on more TV. 

And well here we are, Monday morning. I do have a lot to get done in the next 2 days, both at work and just personal stuff. So will be a busy two days for sure. 

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Lotte/Denmark, Celia/MA and Nina/WA.

Posted by Hanna at 07:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Sara Bareilles - MSG

Pixlr (2)Hey! Somehow I missed my weekly post on Sunday/Monday. That seems to be the day when I most often update these days. I guess yesterday morning I was just a little out of it after having gotten back home and to bed quite late. Sunday night we saw Sara Bareilles at Madison Square Garden in NYC. It was a great show and had a lot of fun. But of course by the time we got home it was around 12.45 and by the time I actually fell asleep (even though I was dead tired but then of course couldn't fall asleep anyway) after 1am. So yeah Monday dragged. 

Now it's Tuesday morning and I am not really much more awake. lol. I guess I will catch up on some sleep eventually. It's cold this morning, only 39F (just under 4C) Yesterday was a really nice, sunny and pretty warm fall day, close to 70F (21C) but not going to get that today. Oh well, it is October after all. I do love fall but it always has that bittersweet feeling and foreboding that winter is just around the corner. And well we know how I feel about winter. Not really a fan. And I keep hearing how bad of a winter we are going to have. Oh well. I guess there really is no predicting with the weather. What will come will come. Right? 

Anyway, let's see, what else has been going on? Nothing too much last week really. Same old. Work's keeping me busy. Saturday we didn't do much. Slept in and then had lunch at 121 in Oxford. And later caught up with some recorded shows. I feel we are already behind because I was away for two weekends and the weekend after next we'll be in CA so yeah we're definitely behind on our TV stuff. So Sunday we headed down to NYC and hung out at Lillie's for a while before going to MSG to see the show. 

So yeah, that's all really. Nothing much going on for this week or upcoming weekend. I imagine we'll figure out something to do for the weekend. And then next week we just have a two day work week and are in CA Wed/Thur/Fr/Sat/Sun (23-27) Yay. Definitely looking forward to spending time in Santa Barbara. The last few times we have been there we have just spent a day or 1 night and haven't stayed for any extended periods in a while. So that should be fun. 

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Lotte/Denmark, Celia/MA and Nina/WA.

Posted by Hanna at 07:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 07, 2019

Back from Europe

IMG_20191003_120021_108And I am back. As usual my time in Europe just FLEW by. Had a good stay but it was a very busy week which is probably why it felt like it went by even faster than usual. 

Let's see. Last Monday we returned back from Salzburg. Had breakfast in the hotel and then picked up Chinese once we returned back to St. Poelten. I then had to work (I was working approx. 2 to 10pm to match EST hours) Tuesday I slept in just a little bit and didn't do all that much in the morning. Oh, yeah, Tuesday was the day the weather was absolutely beautiful, almost summer like. I helped my mom re-pot a plant so spent some time outside in the garden. And then we went for a walk to drop off some things at a friend's home a bit down the road. Made for a nice walk since the weather was so nice. Our friend wasn't home but no big deal. Still a great walk.

Wednesday morning I had a hairdresser appointment so spent most of the morning at the hairdresser before returning home and working for the rest of the day. Thursday I had taken 1/2 a day off for some errands and things to take care of. Also went into Vienna to see a friend which was nice. Spent some time with Lydia while also spending some time alone in a cafe just people watching. An enjoyable day. Then I returned back with the train and worked the rest of the day 6 to 10pm.

Friday my parents and I met up with my aunt for lunch so we left early to meet her in another town (about 20 min away). Had a delicious lunch and then returned back so I could work the rest of the day again. I am very grateful I was able to do this but the schedule definitely does get tiring for sure. 

Saturday we did some shopping and I picked up all the goodies I wanted to bring back. Some bottles of wine, chocolates and whatnot. They already have most of the advent and gingerbread stuff in stores too so I picked up a bunch of that in anticipation of the upcoming season. My luggage was definitely HEAVY. After shopping we had a leisurely lunch and when we returned home I made sure to get everything packed up and then had some wine with my dad before having to go to bed.

My ride to the airport was supposed to pick me up at 3am so I ended up getting up a little after 2am. The shuttle was late in the end but it wasn't a huge deal as my flight wasn't until 7.10 anyway. Still had enough time to grab breakfast at the airport (yay for Jamie Oliver's). Then on to Brussels where I didn't have much time for anything but walking briskly from one gate to the other. And on to JFK. And well here we are, it's Monday again. And back to work. I feel like I could sleep for a week. Haha.  

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Lotte/Denmark and Nina/WA.

Posted by Hanna at 07:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Salzburg Family and Friends Reunions

Pixlr (3)Hello from Salzburg. :) I arrived in Austria only on Saturday (worked 1/2 a day on Friday and left from JFK via Pixlr_20190929234354836Brussels Friday late afternoon) Took the train out to St. Poelten from Vienna airport and then had a late lunch with my parents. Hung out for a bit before heading to bed. Today, Sunday, was national elections day in Austria so my parents went to cast their vote and we then headed off to Salzburg. Arrived there just after noon. We met up with my friend Anneliese (the funny thing is that Anneliese moved to Salzburg just 1 year ago but by some complete accident she ended up moving into the same apartment building my dad's cousin lives in -- such a small world)

So all in all it was a big reunion. Growing up my parents and I used to spend a good amount of time with Gerti and her then husband and their 2 kids. The kids Kathrin and Florian are my age more or less (Florian is a few months older than me and Kathrin a few years younger than me) But about 16 years ago Gerti and Gerhard divorced, I had already moved to the US and contact became less frequent. We still exchanged Christmas cards and so on but contact became less frequent. Mike and I did meet up with Kathrin and Florian quite some years ago in Salzburg and I also saw Kathrin maybe 3 years ago (but that was a visit after quite some years had passed again as well) So I guess what I am trying to say, in my jetlagged brain fog is that it was really nice to go visit and spend time with them again. 

We spent time with Anneliese (who I also haven't seen in over a year since she moved away from St. Poelten and to Salzburg) and then had a delicious lunch at Gerti's apartment. We spent quite some time there, also had coffee and cake, and Kathrin stopped by for a while too. And then later in the evening we headed into downtown Salzburg where they had reserved a table for dinner. Florian and his girlfriend also joined us there. It definitely has been many, many years since I have seen him as well. 

Tomorrow morning we have to head back to St. Poelten and I will then need to work (I am working remotely this week while here in Austria) and I would be lying if I am saying I am looking forward to it. But all in all I am of course grateful I get to be here, spend time and see family, while not using my precious vacation days (it's always funny to me the reactions you get from Europeans when you tell them how many vacation days you have in most US jobs to start with)

Anyway it's midnight now so I better get some sleep. Another day, another week tomorrow.

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Lotte/Denmark.

Posted by Hanna at 06:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 23, 2019

Last Summer Weekend

Pixlr (1)Yes it's Monday again. My start to every blog post it seems. It's officially the first day of fall today. But the weather is not feeling fall-like at all. It's going to be almost 90F today (31C) Not complaining, I guess it's summer's last hurrah so to speak. The weekend was really warm and nice as well. I guess it fit since it technically was our last summer weekend. After today the temps are supposed to go down into the 70ies (20C) which is more seasonable. Just one more week of September and then we'll be in October already. Time is definitely flying, that's for sure. 

Last week was relatively uneventful, same old stuff at work more or less. It's still busy even though we are winding down from the summer season. And like I said the weekend was pretty nice. Saturday we went to the movies and saw "Ad Astra" (the new space movie with Brad Pitt) It wasn't quite what I expected but I did enjoy it. Then afterwards we had lunch in Oxford at 121 and then came home to catch up on some more Netflix ("Mindhunter") We also watched the Comedy Central roast of Alec Baldwin which was quite funny.

Then yesterday, Sunday, we did another wine tasting tour and explored a few different vineyards in NY state. We started at Whitecliff which had really great wine and also a beautiful outside area so we had a glass while sitting outside. Very pretty views. The next stop was supposed to be Robibero but we ended up abandoning that idea as they had some kind of fall/grape stomping festival/event. Instead headed to lunch at the Gilded Otter in New Paltz which was tasty as always. Since the weather was really nice we sat outside -- something I usually enjoy but this time we were being chased by yellow-jackets and I really was not feeling it. Three of them ended up drowning in my drink. I felt bad but they were just relentless. After lunch we headed to Brimstone Hill Winery. What a funky little place. Don't get me wrong, the wine was good but the place itself was just a little weird. Lineulom floors in the tasting room, old tractors outside, a crusty old man giving the wine tasting. Definitely an interesting experience. After that we had one more stop, Baldwin Vineyards. Another interesting place  with goats, an alpaca and chickens. And the tasting room was also very old-school looking with an event room in the back where somebody was playing live music but we were the only people in there the whole time we did the tasting. Nonetheless the wine was good and we did buy a couple of bottles. 

When we were done with our wine tour we headed back to CT and met up with our friends John and Jana for a light dinner at Rosy's. Going to see them again today as it's John's birthday today. But first need to get through my Monday at work. Ugh.  

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Lotte/Denmark.

Posted by Hanna at 07:35 AM in Wine | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 16, 2019

Winery Weekend

PixlrAnd it's Monday again. Why do weekends always fly by so fast? I guess it's nothing new. We did have a nice weekend even though it went by too fast of course. On Saturday we slept in and then I took care of a couple things at home (put a new bed set on the bed - always such a nice feeling to have new, clean sheets on the bed - I wish that feeling could last forever) Afterwards we headed to Oxford for lunch at 121. Then came home and watched the last episode of "Carnival Row" (it took me a bit to get into the show but now I am kind of sad it's over - hopefully they renew it for a 2nd season). After that we started "Mindhunter" on Netflix. I wasn't too sure on that one either, took me at least 2 episodes to get into it, but after that I was more or less hooked. Good news with that one is that there is already a second season out so once we finish season 1 we can also binge season 2. 

Not too long from now the regular fall season for all the network TV will also start so we'll have plenty of stuff to watch in the near future. Yesterday, Sunday, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and went on a vineyard tour of the Hudson Valley/upstate NY. We started at Stoutridge and from there headed to Benmarl. We actually ended up not staying at Benmarl cause they had some sort of fall event going on with hayrides and an admission charge. So we skipped that and headed to Clinton Vineyards and from there on to Millbrook. At Millbrook we got a bottle of their unoaked Chardonnay and sat outside on their deck. Well, we sat outside for about half of our bottle. Eventually I got tired of the wasps and we ended up going inside. But it was still a nice day all in all.

From there we headed to Centrico and hung out with our friends Cait and Pat for a while. I had some delicious mussel and sausage appetizer and also a soup. The soup was especially delicious. It had chorizo, shrimp and avocado and was really amazing. So good. Eventually we headed home and watched a movie on Netflix. And here we are - it's Monday again. 

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Lotte/Denmark.

Posted by Hanna at 07:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 09, 2019

Beautiful fall-like weekend

IMG_20190908_135440_745I know we are still officially in summer season but this weekend definitely had a fall feel to it. Don't get me wrong. It was a really nice weekend and no IMG_20190908_135558_402 complaints whatsoever but fall definitely was felt in the air. While it was mostly sunny, with some puffy clouds here and there, there was a breeze and if you were not in the direct sun it could be a little cool at times. But if sitting in the direct sun it was actually pretty warm. 

Friday was a pretty miserable day with wind and rain (the leftover system from the hurricane pushing through). We had tickets to see "Vampire Weekend" at Madison Square Garden. Ended up taking the train down which worked out well. But the walk to MSG was through misty/rainy weather, same on the way back. And when we got off the train back at home it was actually pouring. But the show was definitely worth it. They put on such a great show. (3+ hours) Definitely got our money's worth there. Before the show we were going to stop at "Stout" for dinner but the place was so packed we ended up going to the place next door "Feile". It was quite busy there too, being Friday night, but we at least were able to grab a table before it got too crazy. Overall I wasn't too impressed with the place. Another generic Irish pub in midtown more or less. But it was super close to MSG so it was ok I guess. We didn't get home till around 2am so I was glad that we were able to sleep in on Saturday. 

Saturday we went to lunch in Oxford at 121. And later caught up on some more TV and started watching the new Amazon show "Carnival Row". I wasn't too sure about it at first but we almost finished it on Sunday (just have 1 episode to go now) and by the end of it it had really grown on me and I wish there were more episodes. Well, we do have 1 more episode and hopefully they will make another season. 

Sunday we took advantage of the nice weather and went to the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, CT. They have a neat boardwalk trail we had done before. Was nice to go back. After we did that we stopped at a vineyard nearby - Haight Brown. We had never been there before so it was nice to check it out. I honestly wasn't overly impressed with their wines but their space and property was really nice and it was fun to sit outside and sip a glass of wine. Afterwards we headed over to the Marketplace in the center of Litchfield for lunch. And eventually back home for more Netflix binging of "Carnival Row". 

And here we are, it's Monday again. Not sure I am ready for another week. But I guess ready or not, here we go. 

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Lotte/Denmark. A letter to Celia/MA went out early last week.  

Posted by Hanna at 07:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 02, 2019

Labor Day Weekend

Pixlr (2)Hello September and happy Labor Day to those in the US and Canada. :) Mike and I spent the weekend in Philadelphia and only got back today. Always nice to have an extended weekend and be able to go away for 2 nights rather than just 1. 

Philly isn't my favorite city but it's relatively close (2 1/2-3 hours depending on traffic) and does have a lot of neat history. It's definitely a bit rough around the edges and I do prefer Boston, DC or NY over it. But we decided to visit with our friends Megan & Jonathan who moved down there about a year and a half ago. It was definitely nice to see them and to catch up a bit. 

We left Danbury around 8am on Saturday. Drove to our hotel (Club Quarters) and checked in. After that we headed to lunch at Iron Hill Brewery. A bit of a chain but enjoyable. The location we went to opened just under a year ago and was across the street from the Hard Rock. After lunch we walked around, took some pictures of the historic buildings in Central Philly as well as the Liberty Bell. When we were done we headed back to the hotel for a bit and then had dinner at Dandelion Pub

Sunday we headed down to Wilmington, DE and had breakfast at Einstein's Bagels (love that chain!!) From there we continued into rural PA for some wine tasting. The first 2 vineyards we went to (Paradocx and 1723) were really neat and we had a lot of fun tasting the various wine and hanging out. The third vineyard (Kreutz) unfortunately was a bit of a bust. Kind of too bad because they had a super cute dog and the lady running it seemed nice. But the wines just weren't our cup of tea. Oh well. Can't win them all. It was still a fun day. 

Once we returned back to Philly we headed back to the hotel briefly and then met our friends at a place called Chick's in South Philly. That was a lot of fun and I'd definitely recommend checking it out if you're ever in the area. 

Today, Monday, we went to the Mutter Museum in the morning (what an odd place) and then had lunch at Fado Irish Pub before heading back to CT. And well here we are. It's the evening and tomorrow it's back to work and back to the grind. 

Letter/Mail Update:  Received a letter from/owe a reply to: Celia/MA. 

Posted by Hanna at 07:52 PM in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)