Hers: Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder?

Oops.  It’s been quite a few days, and this blog has fallen by the wayside.  Of course, it hasn’t been forgotten.  Greg likes to remind me every day that we need to write.  He also likes to remind me that we need to clean the bathroom and buy a house, among other things.  In the spirit of productivity, we’ll cross one thing off that list at a time.  Right now, let’s get this blog up to speed.

The thing about blogging is, more often than not, you’re just talking about your life.  And sometimes, life is boring.  Or aggravating.  Or a little bit depressing.  No one wants to read about those things.  At least, I don’t think you do.  If you’re interested in hearing about this week’s violations at the “lady-bits doctor” or how I locked my keys in my car, then by all means, call me.  We’ll talk.  Otherwise, I’ll favor a little absence over transparency any day.  I think most would agree.

The other thing about blogging about your life is, sometimes, life just gets in the way.  Take Greg, for example.  He’s been working several industry trade shows a week for the past few weeks.  This usually means he’s out of the house by 6:30, on his feet all day, and walking back in the house around 8, exhausted and smelling like a tortilla chip.  After a shower and a snack, it’s off to bed.  If he makes it to 9, it’s a late night.  Blogging has not been his top priority.

(Something to know about Greg, though, is he that loves sleep.  If given a choice between a solid 8 hours and ME, I’m not sure I would win.  I’ve actually come down in the middle of the night to find him sound asleep and smiling.  It’s not the early bedtime that’s been unusual lately, but the grunt work preceding it.  I live with an old man.)

So there you have it.  A little bit of an explanation on where we’ve been, and why it hasn’t been here.  Hopefully, we’ll have something fun and exciting to report.  If not, it’s likely the dog will eat something he’s not supposed to, and that’s always fun to talk about too.  Either way, we won’t be strangers any longer.  How about you do the same?

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Hers: I Ran Over A Bridge

This is the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge.  Formerly the Triboro.  (Thanks for the unnecessary name change, MTA.  I’m sure that the confused tourists driving around Astoria looking for the Triboro also agree it was an excellent use of our tax dollars.)


Anyway, last night, I ran across it.  How cool is that?

Now, to clarify, I ran the caged-in bike trail alongside the right lane of the bridge, and did not run amongst the frenetic cabs and 18-wheelers.  Despite occasional evidence that points otherwise, I am not an idiot.  The trail picks up on Astoria and let’s you off on Ward”s Island, where the bridge splits and can take you to Manhattan or the Bronx.  If you want to run further than Ward”s Island, I’m sure it’s possible; however, until I have a GPS, I am not looking to get lost near the island’s only notable landmark, the Manhattan Psychiatric Hospital.  So I ran there, then ran home.

A good thing about running over a bridge is that is keeps your mind off of the “running” part.  Instead of concentrating on the cold, the pain in my knees, or the blister forming on my toe, I concentrated on the NYC skyline in the distance.  I also counted yellow cabs and stray beer bottles (apparently bikers are also heavy drinkers?), checked out some interesting graffiti (graffiti artists cannot spell), and planned an escape route, should a car crash through the barrier and knock me off the bridge (still planning).  As my normal mentality during a run is “this-sucks-i-want-to-stop-i-wonder-what-i-should-make-for-dinner-ouch-ouch-ouch,” I consider this change to be a vast improvement.

In addition, it’s also good to know that, should my car break down and I need to get over to Ward’s Island at a not-very-quick pace for some urgent business, I have an alternate means of transportation.  As in, myself.  With all the crazy that flies around our apartment every day, a visit to pysch ward might come in handy sooner than we think.

My run totaled about 4.5 miles.  Thinking back to several months ago, when training for a 5K was enough to induce full-on panic, this is a fine little achievement.  I even signed up for a 10K on Thanksgiving, for which I have entered into an entirely new form on paranoia.  I’ll be running this race with Greg, or rather, Greg and I will be running at the same time, but he will finish 20 minutes before me and meet my sweaty little body at the finish line.  Hopefully, he will be waiting with cranberry sauce and stuffing.

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His: Against the Wind

Now you wouldn’t believe it if I told you.  But I can run like the wind blows.  From that day on, if I was going somewhere, I WAS RUNNING!

-Forrest Gump

forrest-gump (1)

Now Forrest knew from an early age that he liked to run.  Running got him him a football scholarship to Alabama.  It saved his life in ‘Nam.  And it made him a pseudo celebrity when he ran across the country several times.

Me on the other hand, I’m still not convinced that I like to run.  I run because I HAVE to.  Mentally, if I didn’t run, I don’t know what I’d do with myself.  This is a far cry from my earlier life when I didn’t just dislike running, I LOATHED it.  Running was a punishment at soccer practice when I was a wee lad.  Then it became the hardest part of practice when I was in high school.  IThere was no way anyone in their right mind would just go out and run for no reason, I thought.  Oh me of little faith.

After high school, it was on to college and a run free lifestyle filled with late night fried food and lots of Keystone Light.  I was a pig in slop.  Four years later, I was on to Wheeling, WV where I was working for a minor league hockey team (GO NAILERS).  I addressed this in an earlier post, but there was nothing to do in there so I became active.  I had a free gym membership through work and I took advantage of it.

I remember being on the treadmill for a mile and a half and breathing like a fat kid with asthma.  But somehow I stuck with it.  I would do that for a couple of weeks, then increase by half a mile.  Eventually, I was doing 5, 6 and 7 miles with ease and even got a coworker off of his ass to start running.  Oddly enough, I remember telling him that I had no desire to run further than what I was doing at the time.  But it’s funny what a person will challenge themselves with and what they’re capable of.

I ran my first half marathon in January of 2008 in a time of 1 hour 34 minutes.  After running thirteen miles, I became obsessed for lack of a better term.  If I could handle that, then I could certainly handle a full marathon.  So I signed up for my first in May of 2008 (and only so far but I am signed up for the 2010 Pittsburgh Marathon).  I ran the Long Island Marathon in a time of 3 hours and 19 minutes.  While I took a hiatus from running races, I have since gotten back into it recently with the past Sunday’s 5k (sixth place overall).  Ally and I also have a 10k on Thanksgiving Day in Wilmington, DE.

What I’m trying to say is that I don’t really know why people run, but for me it was out of shear boredom.  Now it has since become out of necessity.  This isn’t a call to everyone to get out and run because it’s not for everyone, but there may be something out there waiting for you that you don’t know about yet.

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Hers: Meet Him

For the second time in the 5 months that I’ve had it, my camera is broken.  It is currently in transit to Elks Grove Village, IL, where the lovely people at the Canon Factory Support Center will fix it and send it back to me, so it can undoubtedly break again.  I’m not annoyed by this or anything silly like that.  Its a really fantastic little piece of equipment, and when it’s working, it takes great pictures.  Just not right now.

Unfortunately, this leaves us in a bit of a bind as far as blogging goes.  What fun is reading about what we do if you can’t see the pictures that go with it?

Luckily, we have a back up plan.  After all, we can’t let our faithful readers (also known as my mother, Greg’s mother, and a few assorted others) down.  So, I am taking it upon myself to do a little interview of sorts.  For the few readers who don’t know us personally (Hello!  I think there are about 6 of you?  Welcome!), here’s a quick question-and-answer session with the “His” of Venus and Mars Bars.  Enjoy!

Allison: Ok, are you ready?

Greg: <<Ignoring me>>

A: Greg, you ready?

G: Mmhmm.

A: I need you to answer some questions for the blog.  I’m interviewing you.

G: Make it good.

A: Tell the readers why you started blogging.

G: Because you told me to.  (Don’t say that. -A) OK, because I like to write, I like to be healthy, and I thought we could tell people about our experiences and be kind of funny about it.

A: What did you eat today?

G: A granola bar and a Full Throttle energy drink for breakfast; a bowl of tortellini salad, a 1 oz. cup of peanut butter, several mozzarella sticks and jalapeno chicken tacos, a few pieces of maple sausage, and a sample of Red Velvet cake around lunchtime; and a bowl of collard greens and beans for dinner.  I was at a trade show for work today.  Not normal.

A: Why is being healthy so important to you?

G: like to exercise so I can eat and drink whatever I want.  So being healthy is important to me because it allows me to do just that.

A: If you had to choose your last meal on Earth, what would it be?

G: Chicken and rice with Campbell’s mushroom gravy, made by my mom, with Green Giant corn in butter sauce. (Not something I made? -A) No, if I’m not going to be here tomorrow, I don’t need to be healthy today.

A: OK, time for a confession.  What are your bad habits?

G: Picking at my nails.  (Greg, that’s disgusting.  Do you want people to know that? – A) Yes, it’s my bad habit.

A: If you could dine with any celebrity chef, who would it be?

G: I guess Wylie Dufresne.  He seems like the most down-to-earth, normal, friendly guy and I find that whole molecular gastronomy thing is really cool.  I know a lot of people aren’t attracted to that style of cooking, but I think it’s amazing.  If I’m going to dine with somebody, I want somebody that’s fun and who will make me great food.  Wylie seems like he could do that.

A: What’s with all the running?

G: There’s not a lot to do in West Virginia.  As I said in an earlier post, I was a little chunky from college, and I was bored.  Once you start, you just want to keep pushing yourself.  When you run 3 miles, you want to run 5.  After 5, you want to run 7.  It’s pushing yourself, and it’s a good time.  Everyone needs a hobby.  I like movies, television, and I can run.

A: What’s something you’d like to be better at?

G: Cooking.  For you, for me, and because I like it and want to be better at it.  I like to be creative, and I want to be good enough at cooking that I can create new things.

A: What’s something people don’t know about you?

I clear my schedule every Tuesday and Wednesday night to watch So You Think You Can Dance, and sometimes I imitate them to make Ally laugh.

A: Any last words?

G: If Eddie Murphy can be raw, then this is me, medium rare. (Greg, no one is going to know what that means.  I don’t even know what that means.  Say something else. -A) Pass me a beer. (Don’t say that either. -A) Wu-Tang.  What?  These are MY last words.  Can I have pretzels and peanut butter now?


So there you have it.  Now, you know Greg a little bit better, and we’ve gotten through another post until my camera is fixed.  Mission complete.

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His: Sportscenter and Spaghetti

As a show of my love for Ally, I have agreed to attempt cooking one meal a week for us.  It’s a huge sacrifice I know.  Not just for me and my very important time but for Ally because God knows my food probably won’t be that good.  I’m a man (I use that term loosely) who makes a few things well, but I’ve also ruined my fair share too; my crowning achievement being instant pudding that somehow ended up tasting like play-doh.  And really, the play-doh probably tasted better.  It’s also a great excuse for me to eat some red meat which has become a delicacy in our house.



Well, last night was my first attempt at a meal as per our agreement, and I drew my inspiration from Sportscenter of all places.  Several months back, they did a feature piece on Arizona Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s off-season activities.  One of them happens to be cooking.  He and Italian celebrity chef “Chef Steff” (I couldn’t find his last name for the life of me) made Spaghetti with Filet Mignon Bolognese.  The idea sounded and looked amazing and pretty original.  So when I said I drew my inspiration from this story, I meant that I took that dish and made it myself.  And in my defense, they did not provide instructions so the cooking part was actually my doing with advice from a few people who actually know what they’re doing in a kitchen.

Chef Steff

Chef Steff

I started with two six ounce filets, hit them with a little salt and pepper, diced them into manageable bites and gave them a light flour coating. 

Browning the Meat

Browning the Meat

 I cooked them on the stove top in a little bit of olive oil until they were browned all the way around and took them off the fire.  Keeping the same pan over the heat, I added one diced yellow onion, three cloves of garlic (Ally’s a garlic guru) and a handful of chopped mushrooms.

Use Garlic Liberally

Use Garlic Liberally

After everything had caramelized, I added a cup of red wine for flavor and to deglaze the pan.  I used a wonderful, subtle Cabernet Sauvignon known as “Two Buck Chuck.” 

God Bless Trader Joe's

God Bless Trader Joe's

Seriously though, for an actual retail cost of $5, it’s really not that bad.  Ally and I both highly recommend Trader Joe’s wines if you have access to them.  Anyway, after the wine had reduced, I added one 35 oz can of Italian peeled tomatoes that I crushed by hand of course. 

I'm Feeling Saucey

I'm Feeling Saucey

 The last step was to add the meat back to the sauce to finish cooking.  After simmering for another ten minutes or so, it was finished. Continue reading

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Hers: Exercise Gets You On The News

Some of you may have read Greg’s post a few days ago about the KOGA workout.   I think his focus was on how much his ass hurt the next day, so I’ll give a little bit of background about one of the best ways I’ve found to break a sweat, and how it got me on the local news.

The KOGA workout was created by Jon Koga, a personal trainer and fitness guru out of Long Island, NY.   It combines high-intensity cardio kickboxing with yoga poses, resulting in an ass-kicking a la Walker Texas Ranger, Yogi division.   Jon’s passion is infectious, and after one class, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be signing up for another.   You can also be certain that your muscles will be shaking and you’ll be sweating like a beast.

I found KOGA about 6 years ago, while living back home on Long Island after college.   I was a devoted attendee in the weekly classes and, as always, a fan of exercise that doesn’t actually FEEL like exercise.   KOGA was a great way to alleviate stress, burn calories, and, as a kicker, my abs weren’t looking too bad.  I was hooked.

Unfortunately, after moving to NYC for work, I was unable to find a gym that offered the cardio-beating I loved.   I settled for the occasional Spin class and spent the rest of the time staring at the clock on the elliptical, wishing the time away. It wasn’t until this past August that I noticed a flyer for a KOGA demonstration at a local Summer Streets event.  I made plans to attend the class, hopeful, but not terribly optimistic.  Could it be?


I’ve since reconnected with Jon Koga and his team, feeding my addiction as often as I can at gyms around the metro area.   I am also making the jump and getting certified to teach in November.   When Jon called me a few weeks ago and asked me to attend a taping for the local NYC news, I was glad to help spread the word.  KOGA is slowly making it’s way through the Tri-State area, and with any luck, it will end up in gyms near YOU very soon!

If you have any questions about getting your butt kicked or how to get involved, please email me at venusandmarsbars@gmail.com!

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His: Tired, Lazy; Here’s A List

Sorry guys, but I don’t have it in me tonight.  We’ll just say it was a long day.  I don’t want to make excuses so I won’t.  That IS mine.  I didn’t make it.  Instead of trying to be funny or ironic or anything else, I’m going to give you a list that may give you a better idea of who I am.  More lists will follow when I’m too tired to think about anything else.

Favorite Foods:

1. Pizza-Cheese, bread, tomato sauce and additional meat oriented toppings…what could be more delicious?  My favorite Pizza ever in NYC deserves its own post so I won’t get into it now.

My Favority in DE, not in NYC.

My Favorite in DE, not in NYC.

2. Chicken- I know it’s generic, but there isn’t a chicken dish out there that I won’t enjoy.  If I had to pick a favorite, it would be chicken parm.  And you can even put it on pizza.

Kenny Rogers Roasters....Best Seinfeld Ever...This Is Ally's Though

Kenny Rogers Roasters....Best Seinfeld Ever...This Is Ally's Though

3. Pierogies- So Ally’s grandmother (Babci) is straight off the boat from Poland and makes some killer pierogies (just a bit better than Mrs. T’s).  I’ve also had the privilege of going to Poland and trying them there so these delicious little Eastern European Dumplings were an easy choice for my top three.

Not Exactly Babci's But Close Enough

Not Exactly Babci's But Close Enough

4. Pretzels and Peanut Butter- Yes, it has to be together.  I don’t remember the last time I went to bed without eating this combination….enough said.

Not Even Close To Joking About This

Not Even Close To Joking About This

5. Beer- It’s liquid bread…think about it.

Real Men Drink Bud Heavy.  Wait...Am I A Real Man?

Real Men Drink Bud Heavy. Wait...Am I A Real Man?

Troeg's Dreamweaver Wheat; Light, Crisp, Refreshing

Troeg's Dreamweaver Wheat; Light, Crisp, Refreshing

Smuttynose Pumpkin; A

Smuttynose Pumpkin; A Great Fall Treat

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