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You Don’t Have to Live Like a Refugee

1 Nov

Hey everyone with Internet, guess what? We’re alive!

And not only that, not even Hurricane Sandy can stop the historic wedding of db and db-to-be. Miraculously, our wedding venue is in tact and with full power. Busses and cars are now running from NYC to Newark, meaning that the event will go on. It is simply a miracle.

Now this doesn’t mean that life has been good for the past week. In fact, it has sucked. We lost power and water in our apartment on Monday night and still haven’t gotten it back. This means that we’ve been refugees in our own city all week. What have we been doing? I am glad you asked …

Monday

We started the night with leftovers of a delicious meal of Spicy Stewed Beef with Creamy Cheddar Grits that Danielle prepared the night before.  Power went out at around 8:45 PM. After we lost power, Danielle and I played Boggle by candlelight and drank. This was fun for about an hour, but we obviously would have preferred our weekly Monday tradition of watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Then we went to sleep, hoping that all would be okay in the morning.

Tuesday

All was not okay. We had no power or water. Luckily, we had a few lifelines to the outside world – Twitter on our phones and an FM radio on Danielle’s iPod. It became clear that there was absolute devastation in our area and that we would be affected for quite some time. So we packed some bags full of clothes, food and chargers and decided to head north, where we heard there was power.

The Great Northern Migration, as I have now called it, was really bizarre. There were tons of New Yorkers with bags and suitcases walking uptown in search of power and shelter. Anyone in NYC this week will tell you that the signature visual of this storm is people sitting around in drug stores and banks just charging their phones and computers.

Our first stop was the Marriott in midtown, where we met up with my friend Drugs (aka Andy) and his sister Alanna. Our pack of now 4 refugees played a rousing game of salad bowl (a favorite of Danielle’s friends).

After that we ventured to lunch at Wolfgang’s. Was it pricey? Yes. Was it amazing? Yes. Was it open? Yes! The big highlight of the meal, however, was that we got to witness what we’re pretty sure were two high-class prostitutes being wined and dined by a couple of patrons.

In the afternoon, Danielle and I were fortunate enough to find a hotel. It had no Internet (I know, the horror), but it did have power, heat and water, which was a huge step up. We ended the night with a dinner with Drugs, Alanna and Kalen at a place called Connolly’s, which was actually pretty good.

Oh, and we got the highlight of the night, a text message from my sister, Lauren, that said that Newark had gotten much of its power back. It seemed that the wedding might be on after all!

Wednesday

On Wednesday AM, we started to hear from our venue and various vendors that they were okay – another encouraging sign that the wedding was indeed on.

Generously, my parents came in to help do some final emergency wedding planning. Danielle, my mother and I ventured up the 30 flights of stairs to our apartment, where we cleaned out our fridge and gathered all the items for our wedding. We then schlepped all the items down the 30 flights of stairs.

In the afternoon, we did some more tidying up of these last-minute wedding plans – coordinating transportation for our guests, checking in with vendors and letting everyone know that the wedding was still on.

How did we celebrate the night of Halloween? At the Guy Fieri’s new restaurant in Time Square. You’ll remember from before that Danielle and I LOVE Guy’s TV show – affectionately known as “Triple D.” Yet despite our love for Guy’s show, Danielle was not excited to go to this culinary Mecca. Luckily, Kalen, Drugs, Alanna, Jeff Shafer and I made up for Danielle’s lack of excitement.

We scarfed down on Awesome Chicken Fingers, Huli Huli Chicken and Funkin’ Pumpkin Beer (these are all real menu items). Guess what? It was terrible. The food was anything but “out of bounds.”

We all returned safely to our homes to hopefully rid ourselves of this terrible meal.

Thursday

And that brings us to today. Today was the first day all week that I actually cried. This was not because I was afraid that the wedding was going to be cancelled. In fact, the wedding is 100% on. No, I cried because Danielle dragged me to get my eyebrows threaded today.

If you are a man and you don’t know what threading is, basically somebody rubs strings on your face and pulls out your hair. It is terrible. I cried multiple times, which, I will note, I was told is perfectly normal. So when you see me this weekend, please comment on my amazing eyebrows. They look 99% the same, but Danielle seems to think they look amazing.

After another trip up the 30 stories to get some last minute items, Danielle and I took the NJ Transit bus to Newark. We are now here and ready to go for our wedding day!

Thanks again to everyone who has been checking in with us all week and we cannot wait to celebrate on Saturday night. See you all soon!

-db

P.S. The title of this post comes from this great Tom Petty song:

DB’s Bachelor Party

16 Sep

It’s been a week since I returned from my bachelor party in Austin, TX, and not a day has gone by without Danielle asking me to write this blog post. So without further ado, here is a little recap of the trip.

The 10 of us flew into Texas on one of the hottest days ever (peak heat reached well over 100 degrees). After grabbing lunch and hanging around the pool during the day, we ventured out to The Salt Lick BBQ for a dinner feast. The meal was amazing – just $19.95 for all-you-can eat BBQ. And the setting was amazing as well, situated on a ranch about 45 minutes outside of the city.

Look at this meal. You get all of this, as much as you want, for under $20!

Here I am lathering up my meat

A closer look at me and my meat

After going out on Austin’s famed Sixth Street on Friday night, Saturday started with a trip to Guero’s Taco Bar for some breakfast tacos. After that, we walked around part of the city and eventually headed to a bar to watch some college football.

I ultimately decided that I was not suited to don a cowboy hat

One of the highlights at the bar was seeing this ad for Texas’s version of Dial 7.

I wonder if these guys also have a catchy jingle

Finally, it was time to trek from downtown Austin to the football game on the University of Texas campus. We made several notable stops on the way, including the Texas State Capitol building and the school bookstore, where we picked up some burnt orange gear.

Texas State Capitol Building

University of Texas

Here’s a fun thing to bring to a tailgate … a bovine!

DB and the Best Man at the tailgate

Finally, it was time for the game to start. While the game was a total blowout, it was really cool to see the grandeur that is a UT football game.

Hey, it’s the world’s largest Texas state flag!

Just being in a stadium with over 100K spectators was a very cool experience. But the highlight of the game was clearly getting to sing the Texas fight song – “The Eyes of Texas.” Why? Because all the fans take it really seriously, but it’s just a version of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” with creepier words. Honestly, how Big Brother-y are these lyrics?

The Eyes of Texas are upon you,
All the live long day.
The Eyes of Texas are upon you,
You can not get away.
Do not think you can escape them
At night or early in the morn-
The Eyes of Texas are upon you
‘Till Gabriel blows his horn.

Finally, we left the game after the stadium was invaded by bats and locust-like creatures (no kidding).We spent the rest of the night back out on Sixth Street, eventually settling in on a fun dueling piano bar.

Some old teachers dancing on the bar

So that’s it. Thanks to everyone who helped organize the trip, as well as everyone who came. I had a great time!

-db

Breaking News: Weddings are expensive

6 Aug

Hey, guess what? Weddings are super expensive.

Don’t believe me? Well check out this nifty infographic I found.

Breaking News: We booked our honeymoon!

10 Jul

One of the last steps in the wedding planning process is finally complete. We have booked our honeymoon to … South Africa. While Danielle and I have been to lots of destinations all over the world, this will be the most exotic (and expensive) trip we’ve ever taken together.

After a grueling flight, our first destination will be Cape Town. I will inevitably spend the first day being extremely grumpy and tired from the flight. I will also probably smell. But after our first night’s sleep I will be my ever-chipper self. The sleep will be especially luxurious, as we will be staying at the ritzy Cape Grace Hotel, which was just named the 44th best hotel in the world (as an aside, check out how many of these hotels are in Africa; step it up America!). Other fun things we plan on doing in Cape Town include going to the Cape of Good Hope, climbing table mountain and laying by the beach.

This is our super luxurious hotel in Cape Town

Next, I will be driving (yes, I am extremely nervous about this) to South Africa’s wine country, where Danielle and I will spend a few days at the Franschhoek Country House and Villas. What interests me most about visiting Franschhoek is that it will be the first city I have ever visited with back-to-back “h’s” in its name.

This is the Franschhoek Country House

Our final stop in Africa will be at the Thornybush Game Reserve for a safari. I am super pumped for this and can’t wait to see lions, elephants and giraffes in the wild. I am also excited to see what crazy outfit Danielle schleps to Africa just to wear for these three days.

This is where we’re staying on the safari

Before the safari, this is the closest Danielle and I have gotten to wild animals on a vacation

So that’s it. I am sure Danielle will post pictures on Facebook with an album named after a Toto song or something like that when we get back. So stay tuned for all that!

Check it out

30 May

Look … our wedding venue made a national TV appearance tonight during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals (it’s the building in the middle). Go Devils!

Weekend Getaway: The Hudson Valley

28 May

Danielle and I stayed in New York for Memorial Day Weekend, but last weekend we had an exciting trip to New York’s Hudson Valley. Here’s a quick recap of what we did:

Our first stop was the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY. Unlike other presidential libraries we have been to (for our rousing recap of the JFK Library, click here), this one is particularly interesting because you can also visit the president’s home.

Fun fact we learned on the tour: FDR saw a relative burn to death when he was a child (okay, so that part of the fact is not so fun), so he was deathly afraid of fire. The entire house was elaborately renovated to make it easy for FDR to escape in his wheelchair in the case of fire and the former president would regularly have fire drills.

This is FDR’s house

The next stop on our tour was The Culinary Institute of America, which was also in Hyde Park. This school was absolutely gorgeous, with red brick buildings overlooking the Hudson River. Visitors can eat at the several restaurants on the campus, which are run by the culinary students. However, on the weekends, some of the restaurants were closed, and the ones that were open were pretty pricey for lunch. So instead we went to a student-run culinary fair, with foods the chefs-in-training had prepared from various world cuisines. My favorite were the homemade German pretzels with spicy mustard.

Danielle at the CIA

Our first day finished off with an impromptu trip to Woodbury Commons (obviously, Danielle’s favorite part of the trip) for some outlet shopping, followed by dinner and drinks.

The next day started with brunch at the historic Thayer Hotel in West Point. This brunch was awesome. It had everything from eggs made-to-order to steak to penne a la vodka (Danielle’s favorite item on the buffet was the fresh-made waffles with Bananas Foster on top). Plus, it came with unlimited champagne/mimosas. The price was a little steep at $35 a person, but it definitely was worth doing once, especially on a nice day when you can eat outside overlooking the Hudson River.

The Thayer Hotel at West Point

On the Thayer Hotel balcony overlooking the Hudson River

The next stop on our trip was a tour of the West Point campus. We really enjoyed this. The school is absolutely beautiful, with old buildings and amazing views of the Hudson. This prompted a great debate about whether or not I could get into West Point. After learning that a large part of the admissions process was a physical fitness test, we decided I definitely would NOT be admitted.

West Point campus

At West Point, overlooking the Hudson River

From West Point, we headed to Kykuit, the home of the Rockefeller family in Tarrytown, NY. This was an awesome tour. I highly recommend it to anyone in the New York area, even though it’s a little pricey at $26 per person. Obviously, as oil barrons, the Rockefellers built a pretty nice mansion. But probably the coolest part is that Nelson Rockefeller, the former governor of New York and boss of Henry Francis, decided to decorate the historic home with lots of modern art – from Picasso to Miro to Warhol. In fact, the basement of the house is a modern art gallery that rivals any museum I’ve ever been to. There’s also a private golf course on the property that only Rockefellers can use. So obviously a new life goal of mine is to befriend a member of the Rockefeller family.

Kykuit

After a dinner with my aunt and cousins, we headed home. But we had a great time touring New York’s Hudson Valley and hope to do it again sometime!

-db

Lots of Press for Downtown Newark

11 May

Downtown Newark, site of our wedding, has been getting lots of good press lately.

Today’s Wall Street Journal had a great feature on all the development going on in the city, particularly around the Prudential Center (home of the New Jersey Devils):

The New Jersey Nets have played their last basketball game in Newark, but property developments in the shadow of the Prudential Center, the Nets’ former home, give no indication of a loss.

Downtown Newark is seeing a spurt of activity, with new developments totaling hundreds of millions of dollars hitting the ground. Projects in the immediate vicinity of the Prudential Center, which opened in 2007, include a Courtyard by Marriott hotel—the downtown’s first new hotel in 40 years that is slated to open in September.

Mentioned in the article is the momentous opening of Dinosaur BBQ in Newark. If you haven’t been to one of these yet, I suggest you stop by for lunch on our wedding weekend (don’t eat too much though, because we have LOTS of food at our wedding). Local blog Gothamist gave an inside look at the new BBQ joint:

 The restaurant pays homage to the building’s history—the space has housed a haberdashery, a lighting plant and Newark’s first spirit and wine bottler, among other things—with original mosaic floors and a bar counter made from wooden beams recovered during construction. Salvaged wood on the walls and table lends a rustic, homey feel to the space, while lampshades made of tin cutouts of pigs add a touch of suicide food.

If you make it to Dinosaur, make sure to check out the specials. I love their Texas Red Chili (no beans!), while Danielle is a huge fan of Roasted Poblano Soup.