Sunday, December 28, 2008

WEDDING UPDATE #2

As of the writing of this blog, the wedding is officially 111 days away. Wow! I am getting more and more excited to celebrate our big day down in the Big Easy. Please contact us soon if you have any problems or questions about booking a hotel room in the city. Here are a few more ideas for things to do while you're visiting NOLA...hope you're as excited as we are! (Clicking on the title will give you more info.)

Magazine Street
For shopping, dining or just casual strolling, no place in New Orleans outside the French Quarter beats Magazine Street. A six-mile-long stretch of this Garden District neighborhood features some of the best antique stores, art galleries, craft shops and classy boutiques to be found anywhere in the city.


Swamp Tours
Chris and I only went on one swamp tour in Louisiana and it was much further west than New Orleans. However, if you are interested in seeing alligators in their natural habitat, a tour may be a fun way to spend part of your day. This link will take you to one of many swamp tours departing from the city.



Ghost Tours
Who didn't love ghost stories as a kid? We've been on one of the New Orleans walking ghost tours and it was a really fun way to hear about the long history of the city. Plus all the walking is a good way to burn off the calories from the overindulgence in great cajun food!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A White Christmas in Connecticut

Well, forecasters in Connecticut have been having a field day with the weather lately!  After a lot of hype over what turned out to be very minor weather on Wednesday, we were hit with a wammy of a snow storm on Friday.  School was cancelled and we ended up getting almost a foot of snow.  Chris went into work for the morning and it took him almost two and a half hours to get home.  :(  But he finally made it home safely and we were able to enjoy watching the snow fall and everything becoming pretty and white.  Now forecasters are calling for a white Christmas for 100% of Connecticut...glad we got a little preview!

Friday night in the backyard- snow was falling pretty thick
Look at my car Saturday morning!  She was all snowed in.
Bailey has been spending a lot of time on the deck.  He's not sure what to make of the deep snow.  And apparently since there is snow everywhere and everything looks the same, he has chosen the deck as the perfect place to go to the restroom.  He comes in with less snow on him so I guess we're okay with that.  :/
There's my fiance shoveling away.  Did I mention that we only have one shovel?  It's a shame really that I can't help.  :)
Chris had to shovel away the front stoop so we could open the door.
Beautiful backyard winter wonderland

"Icicles have been known to KILL people!"
It takes a long time to get 10 inches of snow off the car!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tis the Season!

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year.  I must have driven my family crazy year-after-year because I wanted to decorate our Christmas tree almost as soon as we had finished our Thanksgiving turkey!  I just wanted to extend the wonderful spirit of the season for as long as I could.  Every family has their own Christmas traditions and the memories of those are some of the ones I cherish the most.  Remember the toilet paper roll Christmas star?  Necessity really IS the mother of invention.  :)  I love that Chris and I have started some traditions of our own.  Picking out our tree from a cut-your-own farm (even in Louisiana!), getting tickets for a special Christmas show, and heading into NYC are some of the favorites.  Whatever traditions you look forward to this holiday season, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

A new tradition? It just might be. Chris and I went to Newtown's annual Christmas tree lighting on Friday night and it...was...FREEZING. But we still had a great time. There were carols and cider and lots of people all around. What tastes great after standing in the cold for a few hours? Hot cheesy PIZZA, and that's exactly what we got afterwards. Delicious!

Saturday morning we went to Busy Acres Tree Farm to pick out our tree! This was the winner.

And here it is all decorated! It was a teeny bit bigger than we thought, so the star won't fit on top! But we love it. And Bailey loves eating it.

It started snowing Saturday around 10:00 p.m.! We only got about an inch, but it was beautiful to wake up to Sunday morning.

Sunday we went into New York City for the day. We started the morning with a mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral (we usually switch off on churches and luckily this week it happened to be Catholic week). The church was packed and the archbishop delivered a wonderful sermon. Then we had a quick brunch at the 6th Avenue Cafe (what a find!) and then off to Radio City Music Hall for the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular. Here we are inside Radio City.

Check out the tree shaped chandelier! It was covered in Swarovski crystals.

My favorite part of the show- the Living Nativity. It was breathtaking to see the story of the first Christmas told this way. If you can see the brown things in the background that look like camels...they really ARE camels! They live in the basement of Radio City during the holiday season and are walked out on the streets of New York early every morning for exercise.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Chris and I drove up to Maine the night before Thanksgiving to spend the holiday with his family.  It was special for me to see how Chris has celebrated Thanksgiving year after year, and even more special to get a glimpse of all the wonderful Thanksgivings in store for us in the years to come.  While I wish my own family could have joined us, I loved every minute with my soon-to-be-in-laws and sister-in-law.  Some highlights of the holiday were:

An absolutely delicious Thanksgiving feast - the post-dinner walk around the block to work off the turkey - going shopping at MIDNIGHT on Black Friday at the outlets with Mary Pat and Caroline...I don't know how we stayed awake! - trying out New England candlepin bowling for the first time (I am really terrible!) - helping Jay and Mary Pat pick out their Christmas tree - and making a gingerbread house with Mary Pat on Sunday morning.  

Beautiful Thanksgiving table!  And the food was even better!
All the Gibsons (next year I'll be one too!)
Walking off the turkey
Bailey and his "Uncle" Clover
Our gingerbread house!  Here it was a work in progress.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

If this is autumn...

...then I'm worried about winter! We have had some SUPER cold days in Connecticut and I've been busy trying to adjust my southern self to the freezing temperatures. Now don't get me wrong- we do have cold days down on the Gulf of Mexico. But it's usually not until January or February and it's only about a week or two! That said, I think I'm doing ok. I've learned that corduroy pants are way warmer than jeans, giving your car a good 15 minutes to heat up will prevent frozen fingers, and an electric blanket can make all the difference in the world. Bring it on winter...I'm ready for you!

Cold temperatures apparently also bring in the mice. I'd heard them in the ceiling, but this was my first evidence that they are actually residing in the house.
Brr!! A walk at Huntington Park
Our first snow! Here's the backyard. It was just a teeny bit, but definitely a preview of snow days to come.
Snow on the deck (we need to get patio furniture before next summer!)
A chilly weekend in Kent, CT
Even Bailey needed a sweater!

Meet the Parents

If the Ben Stiller and Robert Deniro movies come to mind when you read the title of this blog, I have to admit I was thinking about them too! Chris and I have been dating for over three years and due to geographic differences, our parents had never met...until a few weeks ago. I knew there was nothing to worry about-our parents are all such wonderful people. But Maine and Arkansas are two VERY different places and I was just hoping they would all have something to talk about! Just as I had hoped, they had a really nice weekend together and there was never a lag in conversation. Chris' parents introduced my parents to all things New England and made them feel so welcome. THANK YOU again Jay and Mary Pat- it was the perfect way for you all to meet.

But let's backtrack a few days to Wednesday when my parents flew into NYC. This was the first time they had ever visited me since I moved away from the South and I couldn't wait to show them around Connecticut and New York City. On Thursday I introduced them to Connecticut. I think they really enjoyed looking at all the fall foliage- Dad took lots of pictures! On Friday Chris took the day off and we drove them (yes, drove, it was a scary experience and I'm glad Chris was behind the wheel) into New York City for their first visit. We walked all over the city, showing them Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Tiffany's, and Central Park. We walked them across the Brooklyn Bridge for authentic NY style pizza at Grimaldi's. After enjoying our much deserved pizza lunch after all the walking that day, we took the subway back to Manhattan and headed back to the car. It was an absolutely beautiful day to be in the city. I don't think my parents would ever want to live there, but I know they enjoyed their visit.

On Saturday we packed into the car and drove up to Maine so that the parents could finally meet! We had a wonderful weekend and my parents loved the beautiful Maine coastline and Portsmouth, New Hampshire where Chris' Dad works. Chris' Mom steamed up some authentic Maine lobsters so my parents could have a true New England dining experience. All in all, it was a wonderful weekend and I'm just so happy that they were all able to meet before the wedding. Thank you Mom and Dad for visiting, and thank you Mary Pat and Jay for hosting them for the weekend. I can't wait to have you all back together in April!

Introducing Mom to risotto and mimosas...delicious!
Radio City Music Hall! Does Mom look a little cold?In front of the CBS morning show, where Pink was performing. We only watched a few minutes. If it had been Josh Groban, according to Mom, we would have stayed ALL day. :)
On a rock in Central Park
On the New York Subway
Portsmouth, NH
Chris and all the parents!

The Cliff Walk in York Harbor

Mom stood on a chair so she could watch how Mary Pat was cooking the lobsters.
Dad and Mom with their lobsters! Those are happy faces. :)

The FOB, MOB, MOG, and FOG at New Castle Beach

The moms! I love this picture

Saturday, November 8, 2008

WEDDING UPDATE

I can't believe our big day is just over 5 MONTHS away!  We have been busy working on plans for the wedding weekend and we are getting so excited to see everyone down in New Orleans in April!  We've had several guests ask us about things to do in the area so here are a few ideas to get you started (and you can click on the name to take you to the website):

Our wedding weekend falls on the weekend of New Orleans' annual French Quarter Festival.  This neighborhood party began as a festival for locals and has grown to attract visitors from all over the world. It's now the largest free music festival in the South showcasing the best in Louisiana musicians and including an international music stage.  A full schedule can be found on the festival's website.

You can't come to New Orleans without visiting Cafe du Monde! This iconic New Orleans cafe in Jackson Square is open 24 hours a days, seven days a week. It closes only on Christmas Day or when the occasional hurricane passes too close to New Orleans! The coffee is served black or au lait ("au lait" just means that it is mixed half and half with hot milk) and the beignets (square french doughnuts COVERED with powdered sugar) are a real treat. Dining is outside and cash only.

Pat O'Briens is best known for their famous Hurricane Drinks, but we love it for its Piano Bar! The piano bar has two pianos and pianists who seem to know EVERY song every written. You can try to stump them but it never seems to work! Make requests on napkins and drop them off on the pianos to hear your favorite song. As a side note- if you order a drink in a glass container, make sure to return the glass to the bar for a refund. If you think you might forget, ask for your drink in a to-go container.

Chris loves aquariums and he visited New Orleans' aquarium just a few months before Hurricane Katrina hit. Sadly, the aquarium and its population were hit hard by the hurricane and it was closed for several months. Fortunately, it is back open again from 10-5:00 daily.

We booked a block of rooms at the Country Inn and Suites on Magazine Street.  The info has been on our wedding website for several months, but I'll put it here as well. We strongly recommend that people book a room SOON.  While we have a limited number of rooms set aside, the hotel and other hotels in New Orleans are booking up quickly since the wedding weekend is such a busy one in New Orleans.  The hotel information is:

Country Inn and Suites of New Orleans
(504) 324-5400
$163/night (parking is $23/day)
Ask for the Gibson/Hasty wedding block

I can't wait to see each and every one of you in April!  :)

Bucknell Crew Reunion

Chris and I went to his 25th Bucknell Crew Reunion almost a month ago, the first weekend of October.  (I know I'm a little behind with the blogging- I'm going to try and get caught up!)  It was much colder (and windier) than normal for that time of year to be out on the water!  And I think Chris and his former teammates were nervous about their rowing skills after all these years away!  They did great though and took the boats out for nearly an hour on Saturday morning.  Chris and I got the chance to visit and have lunch with 4 of the 7 guys he used to row with and their wives.  It was so exciting for me to have an opportunity to see Chris row after hearing so much about it.  I'm looking forward to the next reunion!

They made the alumni carry their own boats again!

About to push off- Chris is the one in the middle in the gray shirt

After the row!  They all looked tired but happy.  :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New York, New York

Chris and I were so excited to have Cari and Andy come visit us in Connecticut a few weeks ago!  Andy had to work at the Danbury office the following week, so he and Cari both flew up on Thursday night and stayed through the weekend.  Unfortunately the weather was rainy so we didn't get to go hiking like we had planned, and the poor weather did nothing to help me convince Cari that she wants to live in Connecticut one day!  But we went into NYC on Saturday night and stayed through Sunday afternoon and had fun despite the rain.

Our hotel was right across the street from Ground Zero and we could see the work they're doing from our window.  They seem to work almost round the clock and almost every day of the week...which is why the hotel thoughtfully provides earplugs!  I had never been to Ground Zero before and I was glad to finally be able to pay my respects.  Saturday night we took the subway to Times Square and had a delicious dinner in Little Italy.  On Sunday we walked around Central Park and had a HUGE lunch at a place called Maxie's before taking Cari to the airport.  Thanks again for visiting, Sarantapoulases!  :)

In Times Square
Cari and Andy

The cross was one block down from our hotel and Ground Zero.  I think this is only a temporary location for it, though.
Ground Zero
HUGE Reuben Sandwich!!  Both Chris and Andy got them and neither of them could finish.
In Central Park
The fountain from the TV show "Friends"