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Archive for February, 2010

Day 57: 3 Feet of Snow

The snow didn’t stop on Day 56, continuing all through the night and into Day 57.  The rate at which the snow continued to fall was comical.  We had so much snow that it produced a minor miracle – my mom “called in sick” for the first time in 20 years with her company.  She has tremendous work ethic and prides herself on battling the elements to keep her streak alive.  Dare I say that she is the Cal Ripken of cake decorators?  She went as far as to move up her shift and work 12 midnight – 8:30am on Thursday,  February 26 (Day 56) to fill her cake cases and complete any outstanding cake orders before the roads got too messy.  Courtney also called out because a state of emergency was declared for our county, so only ‘essential vehicles’ were legally permitted on the streets.

The process to clear our driveway took three of us working off and on for nearly 5 hours (HUGE thanks to our neighbor Bill O’Toole who lent us his snowblower since ours was out of commission since the last storm).  It’s truly incredible how much snow fell over night, because our driveway had 20+ inches of snow even after 3 attempts to clear it the day before.  This was the first day since moving from Florida in August that I thought to myself…”Damn, I miss Orlando.”

My car buried under snow

My car buried under snow

A close-up of the snow that fell over night

A close-up of the snow that fell over night

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Day 56: Snowstorm 2010

Courtney and I moved to Orlando the day after Christmas of 2003.  So, our first summer in Central Florida was in 2004 – also known as “The Summer of the Hurricane.”   Orlando was in the path of three hurricanes that summer (Charley, Frances and Jeanne), with Hurricane Charley delivering the meanest punch.  To put things in perspective, the last major hurricane to impact Orlando was Hurricane Donna in 1960.  To put things in greater perspective, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the one to declare a disaster area from the Keys up to Central Florida.  Yes, good ol’ “Ike.”

The winter of 2009-10 is our first winter back in New York and we’ve brought our bad luck with us.  It snowed more than I have ever seen it snow during my childhood on Day 56 (a fact my parents debate, but failed to deliver any real evidence to back their viewpoint).  Since I had to work from home – and had a full schedule of conference calls – my dad did his best to battle the falling snow. He went out to shovel and use the snow blower on three separate occasions to try and combat the intense rate of snowfall.  As fast as he cleared it, the falling snow settled into the vacated spot on the driveway. More to come on this storm in Day 57.

View of My Backyard During the Snowstorm

View of the backyard during the snowstorm

View of the driveway after second attempt to clear snow

View of the driveway after second attempt to clear snow

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Drew Cashmore (@drewcashmore), a former colleague of mine at JumpTV and all-around good guy, Tweeted the following back on February 6: “One of my biggest fears is someone coming up behind me when the subway is arriving and pushing…” Unfortunately, I share Drew’s fear, except substitute subway with train.  This is especially the case when I’m waiting for my evening train to arrive at Secaucus Junction.  All it takes is one nut having a bad day, so I usually heed the advice of the stencil and take the extra precaution to stand with my back against the wall.

Stand Behind Yellow Line

Stand Behind Yellow Line

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Day 54: Weather

The optimum weather for my commute is temperatures in the high 20s to low 30s with clear skies.  I can’t stress the last part of my statement enough: clear skies.  Any precipitation puts me in a foul mood because I tend to perseverate on the 15 minute walk on 31st Street between Penn Station and my office (or vice versa).  The most interesting part of my commute when it comes to weather is that the type of precipitation can vary greatly between my start and end points.

The weather system on Day 54 (Tuesday, February 23 for those of you scoring at home) was a text book example of the varied weather.  It rained all day in Manhattan, including my evening walk back to Penn Station.  The weather was very different, however, when I arrived at my train station in Harriman, NY.  The train doors opened up to a winter wonderland of sorts, evoking a “holy shit!” from a fellow commuter who exited the train in front of me.  Snow was falling steadily and 2″ had accumulated on my car during the workday.  Not only did it take me 10 minutes or so to clear the snow from my car, but the ride home took twice as long because the roads had not even been touched by a snowplow.

Rain in Manhattan

Rain in Manhattan

Snow in Harriman

Snow in Harriman

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Day 53: Hot Pretzels

Working in New York City provides me with an endless supply of subjects for my 365 Day Challenge.  Well, in theory it does. Sure, I could capture a different photo each day, but I feel like my blog has been differentiated from other 365 Day Challenges by the content or story that accompanies the image.  So, the extra challenge for me is to either create content and find a supporting image or build a story around a photo.

And when I come up empty on creating unique content (which happens from time to time), I try to capture a piece of the Big Apple’s culture.  Below is a photo of my go-to street food (and stadium snack for that matter) – hot pretzels.  A New York style hot pretzel, though, can vary greatly in quality from vendor to vendor.  Unfortunately, the freshness of the item can only be judged after the money is exchanged and the first bite is taken.  I didn’t sample a pretzel from this vendor on the corner of 7th Avenue and 31st Street, but his prime location (across the street from Penn Station / MSG) would lead me to believe that the foot traffic in that area would create optimum pretzel turnover to maintain freshness.

Hot Pretzels

Hot Pretzels

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Day 52: For Sale

My relocation from Florida to New York was a difficult decision because we own property in Orlando.  We purchased a brand new 2/2.5 townhouse in a community about 1 mile from the entrance to the UCF back in December of 2005 – at the height of the real estate boom.  It is a great place and served us very well during our time in Central Florida.  For obvious reasons, we decided not to sell when we moved to New York, but we are currently renting the property.

Courtney and I have been living with my parents since we moved back to New York in September of last year.  They have generously hosted us for the last 6 months, which has given us the opportunity to save money for another down payment on a house in this area.  We’ve made some progress in our goal to save money, so we met with a loan officer earlier this month to better understand the current mortgage climate and how much we need in total for a sizable enough down payment.

We’ve also begun the important step of searching online for available properties to get a feel for how the market is pricing homes.  We’ve even taken a drive to visit a couple properties in some neighborhoods we’re considering. Shopping for houses is as exciting as it is scary.

For Sale

For Sale Sign

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My younger brother Kieran lives in Newburgh, which is about 40 minutes away from where I currently live.  Besides the summer he lived in Orlando with me and Courtney, we didn’t get the opportunity to ‘break bread’ very often over the past 5+ years when I was living in Florida.  Spending more time with him is another great perk of moving back to New York, especially because he also gets along so well with Courtney; they formed quite a bond when I traveled for business the summer he lived in Orlando, a bond that was strengthened over trips to the mall and sushi outings.

Kieran invited us over for dinner, but I offered to bring some ingredients and help him make homemade macaroni and cheese using a ‘secret’ family recipe.  It is a recipe that was made famous by my paternal grandmother and has been passed down for a couple generations of Begleys.  We doubled the recipe to accommodate for the 8 of us that gathered at his apartment for dinner.  If you decide to give the recipe a try, please let me know what you think.

Catherine's Famous Macaroni & Cheese

Catherine's Famous Macaroni & Cheese

Catherine’s Famous Macaroni & Cheese:

  • Boil one box/lb of macaroni, to al dente. (Do not overcook or it makes mushy macaroni and cheese)
  • Rinse under very cold water.
  • Pour macaroni in bowl or baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  • In a separate bowl or 2 qt measuring pitcher, add between two and three cups of milk, 3/4 stick of margarine, salt and pepper and about two cups of shredded cheddar.
  • Put in microwave and heat to melt margarine and cheese.
  • Take out and stir. Pour contents over macaroni. Liquid should be visible near top of macaroni but not totally covering it.
  • Take a large can of whole tomatoes or can of diced tomatoes. Drain off tomato juice into a separate container. If using whole tomatoes, slice them up while still in the can. No need to do that with diced tomatoes.
  • Add to macaroni and liquid mixture and stir together.
  • Cover top with a layer of slices of American cheese.
  • Cover with alum foil and bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
  • Take off foil and bake for another ten minutes until top layer of cheese turns slightly brown.
  • Take out and let set for about five minutes.

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