Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Anthony Bourdain

For Christmas this year, Alex's gift fell right into my lap...or to be more precise, my inbox. The DuPont Theatre has been doing some really great one night shows in the last couple of years. Mom and I saw Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin last year and that was spectacular. Since then, I've been on their mailing list. A new feature of the theatre's repetoire has been one night shows with the addition of a "VIP" ticket option. Namely, a higher priced ticket that allows you to meet the act after the show. When the Anthony Bourdain show email hit my inbox and I realized that we might be able to meet him, I was sold.

I bought the tickets, bought the hardback books, and wrapped them up for Christmas. Alex doesn't get obviously excited over gifts, (I squee like a four year old on sugar) but the fact that he started reading the book immediately and didn't put it down all day sort of said it all.

The show was in February, so it was a long wait from Christmas. The night of, we headed to the Hotel Dupont and got dinner in the Brandywine Room. According to the maĆ®tre d’, we missed Tony by a few minutes. He had been camping out at the bar for a while waiting for showtime.

Dinner was buffet style, and pretty good. We split a bottle of wine and had some nice conversation before heading down to the theatre for the show. We ran into Ed and Kelly Taylor who were seated directly across the aisle from us.

Apparently, Frank Bell was also there, but he didn't come over to see us...

The show itself was a-maz-ing. Tony was very down to earth and funny as hell. The book signing went very quickly and we got a chance to talk to him for a second. It was definitely a very cool night.

I really think Alex's big, ridiculous grin says it all...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monster Girls' Weekend

The countdown for what Jenn and I have affectionately dubbed "Monster Girls' Weekend" may have started a little earlier than any sane person's might, but as many of you know, having Jenn come to visit is one of my favorite things.

Thanks to a collaboration with Momma Pollard, Jenna actually knew nothing about our upcoming February girl's weekend until I started dropping email hints a week before her birthday. Since the concert was in AC, I started with clues about Monopoly, the Miss America Pageant, and the Jersey Shore and progressively moved to Gaga clues like "You Germanotta have figured out your birthday surprise by now."

The big reveal email below was sent at midnight on her birthday which was when said countdown above began...

Needless to say, Jenn and I were pretty excited. She showed up to the airport on Thursday February 17th (just days after the Valentine's Day from hell...complete with food poisoning and animal escape artists) and we made a pit stop at Chingaari in Newark for Indian food before heading back to M-town. The extremely friendly Khan (insert Star Trek II reference here) that works at Chingaari took a liking to Jenna and offered to help her find a job. After an awkward 30 minutes of standing around making small talk, we were on our way home with paneer tikka masala and a healthy amount of naan.

Friday morning we ended up sleeping in as is pretty normal for Jenn and I, and eventually got ourselves together and headed to Newark for some Starbucks and a visit to Networks. Thanks to Mrs. Craighton, my friend Meghan's mom, I know about this school program run by the Christina School District that helps mentally handicapped students develop specialized skills like glass etching. One of the workshops is a printshop, so Jenn and I took the invitation that I like from Etsy to see if it would be possible for them to create something similar. I'm really hoping that it works out well because it would be nice to be able to support the handicapped community by giving them my business. More on this later.

After our visit to Networks, I drove Jenna by my old house on Phillips Ave since she had never visited me there. It looks exactly the same and is definitely unihabited. It appears no one has lived there since we did a full three years ago, so I don't know what that's about. It was nice to have that freedom in college, but I have to say that I'm much happier in my little house.

At about 1, we headed over to Mom's house where Jenna got to see Logan. We picked up Mom and headed up to the Brandywine River Museum so both Mom and Jenn could see the space where Alex and I will be getting married. It was a beautiful day, so it was nice to see the courtyard in the sunshine. Below are a few photos from someone else's wedding that really don't do the space justice. I'm not a fan of the tiny arch because it gets lost in the space. I think I'll be coming up with something different for ours.

And here's a shot of one of the museum path's through the wildflower garden where we'll be taking pictures. Rebecca, the events coordinator for the Brandywine River Museum, was telling us that the pictures are lovely, but that there's nothing she can do to prevent drunk kayakers from floating through the background. I'm honestly excited to see if that actually happens...

After a visit to the museum, we headed back towards Hockessin via some seriously back roads thanks to my GPS. Mom had found this new shop called Designer Consigner, so we got in a little retail therapy there (Jenna found some awesome boots) and then headed over to Marshalls. After dropping Mom off, Jenn and I were beat, so we stopped for some Corona's at the shady liquor store near the mall and headed home with our Don Pablos take out for movies and hanging out with Harper.

Saturday was concert day, so we got up, packed out stuff, and appreciated Alex's thoughtfulness at wearing his Lady Gaga inspired t-shirt.

After a quick trip to the mall for some fun makeup at Sephora and a Starbuck's run, we were off to New Jersey!

And then we realized somewhere around Cherry Hill that we didn't have the tickets, so we went back to Delaware!

Got home, got the tickets, endured Alex shaking his head at us a lot, and got back on the road for New Jersey (again!).

Considering our blondness, we actually made it there in pretty amazing time and were on the AC Expressway so Jenna could see the welcome signs with the most awkward tagline of all time for herself.

For those who can't read that, here's a nice, clean version of AC's signature tagline. As the wise Barney Stinson once said, "Ah, AC. Always in decline, never hitting bottom." This was my first trip during the off season, so I ended up taking that particular wisdom to heart.

I really wish that we had taken photos inside of our hotel. First things first, the parking garage which was not attached to the hotel itself was 12 floors. We of course had to park on the top floor on the windiest day of the year so far dodging cars coming down the parking garage on what seemed to us like the wrong side of the road. Turns out that this garage with a lane wide enough for one car to pass was indeed two-way, so I got really good at pulling into odd pseudo spaces to get out of the way. I was very thankful for my tiny Honda at this point because anything larger would have been impossible to deal with.

After parking at the very top, we realized that this old school parking garage had no elevator. I had packed light, so I just lifted my suitcase and hauled it down the stairs. Jenn only had the bag she had brought from FL, and despite it being light since she left most of her stuff at my house, it was too big to lift, so she came down the stairs with a mind-numbing THUNK, THUNK, THUNK, on each and every stair. By the time we got to the lobby, we looked a hot, windblown, crazy ass mess.

Luckily, although slow, the elevators worked in the hotel, so we headed up to the 5th floor and unpacked in what I can only describe as a 5th floor beach bungalow. It was so odd...

There was a kitchenette next to the bed, an island at the foot of the bed that separated the "bedroom" from the "living room" and a TV on top of the island. Much to Jenna's delight, we found that the TV case swiveled, so you could turn the tv to face the bed or the living area depending on where you were. Below is a picture from someone else who stayed at Atlantic Palace that had a swivel TV as well.

The oddest part of the room though, was the window with drawn shades at the center of the room that didn't lead to the outdoors. It tooks us a while to figure out that the window actually was in the shower, and your choices were shower in total darkness with the blinds shut for privacy, or expose yourself to the world for a little light. Yep.

The coolest part of the room was the window that spanned an entire wall and had a padded window seat. Despite heinous curtains that looked like they belonged in a 7 year old girl's room, it was nice to be able to sit and look out at the sunset as we got ready for the evening.

Despite our inital desire to get all decked out like Gaga in skimpy, glittery, crazy clothes and impossibly high heels, Jenn and I decided that we were in fact way too old for that shit and opted for a glittery top with a sheer shirt over it, jeans, and black boots for me, and a glittery top, cardigan, jeans, and boots for her. The longer the night went on, the more sure that we were that we had made the right decision. On top of everyone else at the concert taking care of the weird and skimpy for us, it was effing FREEZING that night.

Taking a cab seemed like the best idea we'd ever had after taking one look at the walk we'd have to take to Boardwalk hall, so we headed out. Our cabbie was more bizarre than any NY taxi driver I've ever encounted, and that's saying something. He kept asking us, "Lady Gaga, shaky shaky? She is bad girl, shaky shaky. You girls shaky shaky your booty?" in his heavy middle eastern accent. We just sort of ignored what was happening and thanked God that it was only a 5 minute ride.

We ended up getting dropped off at some underground secret entrance to Boardwalk Hall that was connected to the parking lot. We tried to take the elevator up to the main floor to go outside and get something to eat, but had more than a little trouble. Somehow, Jenn and I managed to end up in an employee's only section without having our tickets checked and had to have someone help us get OUT of Boardwalk Hall. After a few minutes of being turned around, we ended up exiting through the main entrance at which point Jenn followed me into the same divided section of the revolving door and promptly got her purse stuck, immobilizing the door. Yep.

So there we were, stuck in the door with Boardwalk Hall employees shaking their heads and rolling their eyes on one side and the entirety of the crowd that had been camped out waiting to get their mosh pit seats to Gaga on the other. A nice gentleman came and forced the door open, freeing Jenna and I, who slinked off with our tails between our legs to Trinity to get something to eat.

Of course despite the fact that there was no one in there, it took over an hour for them to seat us, so we amused ourselves by taking pictures and drinking wine and beer.

Of course as is customary any time Jenn and I go out, we made a "friend." By friend, I mean big scary dude that wouldn't stop talking to us about his weed habit and how AC is such a cool town and where he goes to church and check out my tattoos, etc. Of course we ended up talking to this dude almost the whole time we waited.

Luckily food service was quicker than getting a table, so after our dinner of fish and chips and a burger for Jenn, we headed over to Boardwalk Hall, got inside (with tickets this time), and got in the world's. longest. drink line.

Of course.

The show started at 8, which means Gaga goes on at 9ish? 915ish? Do we have time for this? So we gauged whether or not we were missing anything based on how loudly the crowd was cheering. Of course AS we get our watered down $8 cranberry vodkas, the deafening roar of the crowd washes over us, and we race to find our seats. It took a while to get there, so as we ran in heels balancing drinks, we were sing-screaming the lyrics to "Dancing in the Dark" praying to god we weren't missing anything too awesome.

So our seats turned out to be sort of crappy, but it was definitely well worth it. The stage map shows that the seats where we were had a partial side view of the stage, but it turns out Gaga brings her own stage, so hers jutted out a hell of a lot further than the originial Boardwalk Hall stage. This is how it ended up looking from our perspective.

According to google images in the morning, this is what it looked like from the front. So we missed a bit of the detail, but we definitely got to see all of the choreography from a cool perspective, and the show was amazing.

Afterwards, we weren't ready to go home yet, so we opted to check out the surrounding casinos. Unfortunately the one that was the least crowded was Bally's, which has a Western theme, where of course after 11, the "Vixens" perform.

Jenna of course, couldn't contain her excitement and is considering a job as a Vixen if the Old Navy thing doesn't work out.

During the concert, it had gotten warm, so I took off my overshirt and was just in my sparkly, low-cut wrap top. While walking to the bar to get drinks, I got stares from a group of 50-something men leering at the girls on the bar, hoping that their deep-seeded 19-year-old insecurity would mean acceptance of a stealthily proffered hotel room card. Jenn and I have affectionately termed them "the Daddy Issues Club", which skeeves us both out to no end. After the leering, I opted to re-dress and we both moved away from the Vixens and towards a really terrible Lady Gaga impersonator at the karaoke bar.

After a few test tube shots, Coronas, wasting about $20 on slots, and switching shoes with each other because my feet hurt, we opted to walk back to Caesar's and sit in the indoor lounge chairs overlooking the beach. Obviously at 1 in the morning, it was dark, but here's someone else's picture of what that set up looks like.

Eventually we headed back via a slightly less creepy cab driver, opted for junk food from the snack machine, brushed our teeth and went to bed.

The morning was a really pain in the ass checkout which ended up with the elevators being so overcrowded that we ended up THUNK, THUNK, THUNKing down 5 flights of steps and then back up 12 more in the parking garage. Eventually there was Starbucks, a pit stop at the grocery store, and homemade falafel for dinner at home while watching Anthony Bourdain.

Monday morning started with a nice breakfast at Bob Evans followed by an impromteau trip to DSW where I found not only yellow shoes to go with my new dress from Marshall's but also a very pretty pair of cream pumps with flowers over the toe that I'm pretty sure will end up being my wedding shoes! Sadly, after our shoe shopping, I took Jenn back to the airport and said our goodbyes. Looking forward to the next one as soon as possible!

All in all a perfect girls' weekend...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Two Little Girls Running Amok in David's Bridal

So, for those of you who don't already know, in addition to my five bridesmaids, we're having two of our favorite little girls as a part of the wedding. I've been babysitting Samantha and Skylar since they were in diapers, and over the past four years, I've been taking Alex with me when I babysit. Turns out they really took a liking to each other.

These two have easily been the biggest cheerleaders for our relationship, and are the epitome of what it means to be excited. They have been asking me since the very first time I brought Alex over, "When are you guys getting maaaaaaaaaarried?" and "Can we be in your wedding?" — long before we had ever given such things a thought.

Alex has endured (and enjoyed) many a Saturday night being climbed all over, forced into "princehood" (I am usually the wicked queen...they are the princesses), and being teased by both the girls and myself.

When we decided we were going to get married, one of the first things that was decided was that these two were going to be a part of it. Sadly, because of the size of my family, I won't be able to have anyone under 18 at the reception besides these two and Alex's cousin Michael who is also in the wedding. Coming from Italian and Irish families means LOTS of kids. So it's nice that we will at least have these two and Michael to keep the crowd young.

Even though they were picked out as part of the wedding party months and months ago, I still hadn't told them yet. When the bridal consultant told me that it could take between 4-6 months to get dresses in, I decided we'd better fill them in and get dress shopping.

On Saturday, I went over to the Gallucio's under the pretense of picking up my Christmas present that I still hadn't come over to get. I went over and opened my present and while I was ripping the paper, I started telling them that I had a very important question. They both looked at me quizzically, not knowing where this was going. "Would you girls be interested in...say...getting dressed up, and riding in a limo, and being in my wedding?"

Their little eyes lit up and with huge smiles they both agreed and ran around and got all excited. Then I told them to get their shoes because we were going to go get their dresses. A quick ride over to David's Bridal to meet their Mom and the next thing they knew, we were trying on dresses.

There are tons of mirrors on every surface in the store, so every time they got a new dress on, they each had to walk around and look from every angle.

Samantha (on the left) ended up choosing this dress. Obviously it will be in navy blue, and we are going to have it cut to tea length and sew some bugle beads on the neckline.

Skylar on the other hand, fell in love with "the one with the flowerrrrrsssssssss!" and wouldn't take it off. We're also going to cut hers short so she can "twirl" properly.

Once they had each picked out their dress, Arlene and I spent about 20 minutes watching them model in the mirror. Talk about a good time!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bridesmaid Dresses

Now that they're all ordered, it just seems fitting to do a terrible MS Paint rendition. Sorry to the Italian girls for the terrible skin color matching...