Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cow Parade

"Music COW Extravaganza"
Overlooks the Susquehanna near City Island
"Strawberry Cow"
(lame name...duh, it looks like a strawberry)--it's home in Strawberry Square Shopping Center
"River Cow"
Lives in a real estate parking lot
"Cattle of Gettysburg"
"Joe-Pa" after the infamous you-know-who

We've seen these little buggers all over town, scattered about; I started snapping pics of them just because they're all so quirky :) I figured they would make a stupid-fun blog post at some point or another, if not just to make you guys wonder.  Well...I finally turned to my trusty sidekick google to determine the story behind the COWS.  Turns out they're all part of the CowParade which is basically a public arts exhibition held in various cities worldwide (over 50 different cities)...who knew? Various artists--local, amateur, professional, and famous--create and design the sculptures which are then displayed around the city before they're auctioned off to proceed charity.  Totally similar to the Peanuts character statues in the Twin Cities years back...but with some crazy looking cows.

Our very own Harrisburg, PA hosted the CowParade back in 2004 when some 136 cows roamed the city.  I've only seen a handful, so there must be quite a few more our there that case, you may end up seeing a few random COW posts here and there!  Looks like Mike and I better do some more exploring over the long Labor Day weekend since I've now stooped so low as to post pictures online of artsy-fartsy cows! 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

C'mon Irene

Here in Harrisburg, we're waiting for Irene.  Yes...the song is in my head, hence the title of this post.  We haven't seen much more than some misting and now a little steady rain, which is of course a good thing! Looks like we'll end up being West of most of the strong winds and heavy rain, although, most of the heavy rain bands are supposed to hit our area sometime overnight tonight or early Sunday morning.  It's been pretty crazy to watch the news leading up to Irene's arrival...we've certainly never experienced a hurricane, much less an earthquake and a hurricane in the same week!

We live roughly where the first "P" in Philadelphia is on the map
Mike and I have to get our butts in gear and get our house furnished and decorated in anticipation of visitors (I keep forgetting it's almost September, which means I'm running out of time).  I'm really in need of some inspiration and some great contemporary, clean-lined furniture!!

The fact that it's almost September also means that Mike's fantasy football life will be in full swing soon enough...for me, the arrival of fall also signals the fact that HOCKEY SEASON will be here soon enough! YAY!  I'm deeply going to miss being in the Twin Cities this winter, because I love, love, love being able to drive across town to take in a Wild game whenever we want :(  I guess I'll have to settle for what I can find out here.  Hershey, PA is home to the Hershey Bears of the AHL (Washington Capitals affiliate), which I've been told are a blast to see.  Beyond that, I'm sure we'll get in a Flyers or Penguins game, too.  If I'm really lucky, maybe I'll even get to take a trip to Toronto...if you don't already know, I have a love affair with all things Canada...especially hockey and Oh, Canada!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Smile. You're in Pennsylvania.

For all of you Midwesterners I thought I'd draft a blog post to highlight all of the special tidbits and trivia exclusive to central Pennsylvania; just in case you find yourself in the area and feel the need to try and blend in :)  Well, it's at least a partial list of things Mike and I have observed during our short time here.
  1. We've started to realize that Central Pennsylvanians love to use the word 'awhile', almost excessively and in inappropriate or seemingly awkward places in conversation. You hear it once, twice, a few times at first, then all of the sudden everyone, everywhere is using the word! For example: (eating dinner at a restaurant) Do you need another beer, awhile? Hmmm...awhile what? Seems as though the word awhile is a fitting ending to any question you ask. For the record, I don't use Wikipedia as a reference, but here's what they had to say about Central PA...entries #45 "A while" is often used to refer to the present time. Ex. "Do you want money a while?" Translation. "Do you want money now?" and #47 "Then" is used at the end of sentences. For example: "Will that be all for you, then?". Forgot about #47 until I read it...totally true.
  2. Instead of YIELD signs, some of the freeway on-ramps have STOP signs at the end of the if entering 70 mph traffic from a dead-stop is a fabulous idea. It's enough to say that we've encountered MANY drivers whose merging technique is less than ideal.
  3. I can't quite explain the dialect, inflection, and pattern of which native Central Pennsylvanians'll just have to listen for yourself.
  4. I still maintain that it's kittycorner...but we've made some friends who swear it's catercorner. This usually ends up being a hot conversation item at least once a night with the Penn Street/Green Street crew. BTW, Merriam-Webster lists catercorner as a VARIANT of kittycorner :)
  5. You have to sell your soul for a case of beer...literally. Please refer to my earlier post where I complained about our trip to the Beer Distributor which ended in a $71 bill for two cases. 
  6. Dobsonfly. You know you want to Google it. Mike and I concur that they are some mutant moth-scorpion-crayfish-thing.
  7. Instead of saying "ten to eight" when telling time, it's common to hear, "ten of eight".
  8. It seems as if Pennsylvanians have no love for the letter "L". It is often omitted in the middle of words...think "Ode" instead of "Old". You can infer similar pronunciations with like words. 
  9. On the same topic, I never knew I lived in Dolphin County; I was under the assumption is was actually Dauphin County.
  10. Don't worry, the area is famous for it's Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish heritage...which somehow means that there should be towns nearby named Intercourse and Middlesex??

This post may have to be amended at a later date...I know there's probably more, but nothing I can think about at the moment.  Much love to all of my Pennsylvanian friends; I'm sure they could compile just as large of a list of all our quirky Minnesota things!! :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake Rocks East Coast

Two things of note today...

1.  Yes, I felt it; I'm pretty sure everyone on the East Coast felt it.  I have to say, it was oddly interesting to feel my first Hershey, PA of all sorts.  It was a short period of shaking and rumbling, nothing to write home about here.  It just left me and all of my classmates looking at each other, wondering if "it" was truly what we thought it was.  Shortly thereafter, the Facebook posts, text messages, and phone calls confirmed the quake.  Refer to this USA Today article for more details...or any other national news media outlet for more information...I'm sure you've heard about it by now :)

2.  More importantly, I never thought I'd be the one to start a familial blogging craze...nii maamaa has started her own blog, I Give You Wings.  Yay for MomBlog, can't wait to read her posts!!! Now we just need to get Dad and AJ on board to start their own online collection of random rants :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Capital City Capitol Excursion

Today was a touristy day.  Before we made our typical Sunday trips to the grocery store and gym, Mike and I decided to venture around the PA State Capitol and snap a few a few, I mean literally snap a few hundred photos of random structures, windows, doors, etc. Anything is game and I'm pretty sure that my finger is addicted to the shutter release (a.k.a. the picture taking button)!  That's the beauty of a 2GB memory card and a fast digital camera...we can take tons of photos only to later sift through them on the computer deleting the many "almost duplicates".  

Backside of the Capitol
Pennsylvania is one of 50 states...why must it refer to itself as a commonwealth??
Not gonna was HOT and I could have gone for a swim in the fountain!
Hard to see from the photos, but there are walls of mirrors surrounding the fountain 
My handsome date
Once we started walking around, we realized just how expansive the Capitol grounds is and really how large the scale of the buildings are.  I don't think Mike's totally feeling it, but I'm definitely the one responsible for the vast majority of the crooked and tilted photos you see on the blog.  I'll be the first to admit that I'm lacking in the artistic talent department (I did get a B in art for my lack of creativity) and so I somehow think that photos will look more interesting if they're off-center or cockeyed...hmmm, jury's still out, but at least it adds somewhat of a different dimension! I guess it's a good thing I didn't have the dream to be an artist or a singer...I'll just stick to keeping people alive and on the mend (not to mention that as I write this, I'm at the same time realizing I should be studying neuro-nursing and not blogging)!

Looking East 

Tourist in the city
You'll have to excuse our lack of fashion skill in these pics...we clearly weren't planning on actually being in the photos.  And let's be serious, it was Sunday and most Sunday's I refuse to get cute just because I can! 

LOVE the bright green roof!
We started to realize that all of the benches and garbage cans said "Pennsylvania Capitol" and etched PA logo
Taking a quick break while Mike snapped some pics
LOVE the buildings on State Street...the bright ORANGE piece of construction equipment really adds to the ambience!
Looking West down State Street from the steps of the Capitol, towards the river 

Mike's find--the puking lion statue fountain :)

Glad we got the photo-ops in when we did because a couple of hours later, when we were finished at the grocery store, it was raining cats and dogs...and rained for most of the remainder of the afternoon! Sadly, the weekend is coming to a quick end, back to the grindstone tomorrow morning...although Mike has Monday off and will be prepping and preparing for scores of upcoming fantasy football drafts.  In the meantime I am busy preparing to be Steelers fan.  For as much as I like football (I maintain a strong neutrality for the sport itself--a.k.a. I'd much rather be watching baseball or hockey) I've decided that the Vikings just really aren't my team.  After all, the one thing that they are seriously consistent in is breaking the hearts of their fans year after year (at one point in the season or another).  Therefore...the Steelers, with Mike Tomlin, Troy Polamalu, and Hines Ward (if I had to pick--these three are probably my favorite in the NFL) are going to become my team away from home.

If you think of anything you'd like to see, hear about, or have questions about, feel free to send me a message and I'll try to incorporate it into the blog!! That's all for now, time to call it a night :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sweets & Treats: Recipes Galore

Some of you may already know this, but I'll let the rest of you in on my secret.  I have sort of an unwritten rule--it's very, very rare for me to turn on the oven during the summer months.  That being said, the weather here in PA has been HOT, the A/C has been running, and both Mike and I have been longing for a fresh batch of granola.  Not only does it taste a thousand times better than the commercial stuff, but it doesn't cost $5/bag either!

My favorite recipe comes courtesy of Angela Liddon over at Oh She Glows; it's pictured below (I spared you by omitting the candid iPhone photo of mine).  Angela's blog has the most amazing recipes, to which I should credit for my recently-found love of baking (I've always loved cooking, but have typically left the baking to someone else)!  The recipes really do taste as good as they look on the website.  The following are just a few of the favorites I've found...I encourage you to head over to her site and check them out!

As an aside: Most of you who talk to me enough or who have seen me eat my morning breakfast probably have heard about Oh She Glows and I may have already shared the link with you.  This post isn't to sound like a broken record, it's just to enlighten the food lives of those who haven't heard about it or tried out a few of the recipes!!!  In my world, there will never be a time where there's not a new or exciting recipe to try!

My Favourite Homemade Granola
Two Bite Double Down Dark Chocolate Brownies
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough 'Blizzard'
Sweet Potato Oatmeal Breakfast Casserole
Easy Vegan Overnight Oats

Dreaming of a cooler day in the near future so I can whip up some homemade treats...until then, I'll be working, blogging, and cooking up some no-bake summer treats! Wherever you are, hope you're managing to stay cool this summer :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Smells Like Chocolatetown, U.S.A.

The week before I headed back to work I found myself sitting at home, all alone, bored, and sick of cleaning (sounds kinda nice at this point...but I guess the grass is always greener, right?).  So, I decided to make the quick drive out to Hershey, PA and see what all the fuss was about.  Just about everyone you talk to in the area asks about whether or not you've been to Hershey/Hershey Park when they find out you're a newbie.  Have you been to Hershey Park yet? Did you check out Hershey? You haven't been to Hershey Park yet??? Seriously.  In all honesty, Mike and I are not the type to immediately hit up all of the touristy-destinations; we'd much rather check out the little, neighborhood, hole-in-the wall, looks-sketchy-but-the-locals-swear-by-it type of place.  i.e. Hershey, PA and the famed HersheyPark were not at the top of our list (note to the locals: I'm not trying to diss HersheyPark, just saying it's not my thing).  

Somewhat begrudgingly, I headed out to Hershey one afternoon to see what I could find.  Long story short--I looked like a dumb tourist taking pictures, saw the Hershey kiss light-poles, visited the gift shop at the museum, and called it a day.  I probably would have taken the time to wander through the Hershey Gardens (which looked amazing) but didn't want to pay the admission price to take photo after photo of landscaping and flowers (you guys already sifted through my Italian Lake post).  

Had to figure they'd have a Hershey flag!
The Hershey Kisses as street-lights...I admit, these are cute!
I'm a chocolate lover, perhaps there is a Dove, PA?
I meandered my way through lots of construction going on in the heart of the city
Everything says Hershey...kinda fun
I will go back to the Chocolate Lab "build-your-own" candy bar opportunity

Chocolate-workers union
Like the name of the post says, I'd heard from people that the town of Hershey actually smells like chocolate.  Hmmm...I was a little skeptical, but as I was driving around trying to find appropriate parking (windows down in the hot summer air because at this point, the A/C in the Prius hadn't been fixed) I actually caught a few whiffs of that molten-chocolate smell.  The smell of chocolate is in the air in Hershey, PA.  

Fast forward to five weeks later to an evening of pizza and beer with our neighbors.  Last week, Jase & Mel took the afternoon to explore the Hershey tourist thing.  As the conversation progressed we all learned (duh!) what I should have thought about and known all along:  1.) They don't actually manufacture Hershey chocolate in Hershey anymore and 2.) Pretty sure they "pump" the chocolate smell into the air so you conveniently get that whiff of chocolate while you're in town (so you can go rant on your blog about how you live near a place that smells like chocolate). Lame.  No more getting caught up in tourist traps for me.  Enjoy the pics though ;)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I'm going to sound like a broken record, here, but I can't say that I really have a whole array of new photos to share with you...that thing called work is interfering with my blogging life! That being said, we've had a fun couple of weeks :)  Here's the low-down:

I've been spending A LOT of time learning about these...
Neurology and neurosurgery is pretty crazy; I'm pretty sure I may know about 1/1,000,000 of the information I need to know! Oh well, it's not like it's brain surgery (yeah, yeah...bad attempt at a joke; ar least I'm not the brain surgeon!)  Really though, work has been great and it's been nice to get out of classroom orientation and spend time learning and interacting with patients and families on the unit.  I'm learning a ton each and every day!

Last week, party planner Mike arranged a little rendezvous with the neighbors/neighborhood dogs at the local dog park last Saturday morning.  Let's just say we had two quiet, sleepy chihuahuas for the rest of the weekend! YAY!

A look at what our house was like prior to the dog park...Tank arranging his posse of toys
...and leaving our new phonebook a completely mangled mess!
Always herself...Kaia was a bit anti-social

Tank had a chance to run off a bunch of energy!

If you haven't already had a chance to check it out...head over to Kelsey's new blog, Number315, which chronicles her life and adventures with (her) Mike and Chicharito after their recent move to Sheboygan, WI!!  It's fun to catch up and get a slight glimpse into each other's lives from a different perspective :)

See more pictures of Chicharito by heading to Number315

Beyond this, I've had the recent revelation that summer is wrapping up faster than I thought.  It's not bright and sunny during my 6 AM drive in to work anymore, the nights are getting cooler, AJ is heading back to school at the end of the week, and my parents are heading to their timeshare at Breezy Point next week (the official, unofficial end to summer in our house growing up).  Thinking about fall is getting us excited about the upcoming ROAD TRIP that Mike, Deb, Mick, and Lori are making in September.  We'll see how they feel after 20+ hours on the pavement! 

One last note before I go...anxiously awaiting the arrival of Tank's new Thundershirt! Never thought we'd ever try anything like this, but Tank's barking has been out of control since we moved to PA.  He.  Barks.  At.  Everything.  Everything.  Saw the Thundershirt at one of the local pet-specialty stores in town a couple of weeks ago; I talked with a very knowledgeable employee at the store who told me they've had great response from dog owners who've used this product!  Basically, it's an anti-anxiety, calming vest that applies slight pressure to dog-specific pressure the dog a constant "hug" of sorts and (hopefully) leading to a calmer, less-barky Tank!  The concept mimics similar effects achieved by swaddling newborns or the use of pressure or weighted vests to relieve anxiety and enhance relaxation and focus in people with autism and/or behavioral disorders.  Update to come once Tank has a chance to try his very-own Thundershirt on...that's it for now, happy Thursday!