Thanksgiving Recap 2016

For Thanksgiving this year hubby and I traveled to Indiana to visit family. When we originally planned the trip we were going to work through Wednesday afternoon and then take off (driving), which necessitated a half-way stop. I have dear friends who live in Nashville and we got a hotel and made plans to see our pals. However, the week before Thanksgiving traffic was being forecast at “hell” on Wednesday, especially at the time we were to leave, so with our supervisor’s blessing we took the full day off and left Wednesday morning. I drove us up to Nashville and we spent some time exploring downtown and enjoying a tasty sammie before being run to our hotel by the rain. J was beginning to feel sickly so this was very necessary. After naps and more meds we enjoyed a fun and tasty visit with the G family, stopping on the way home for some Tennessee beers.
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We hit the road the next morning to go from Nashville to Indianapolis. The time change got the better of us and we ended up being nearly an hour later than our anticipated arrival time…ooops. We had a nice visit with my family, one day visiting downtown Indianapolis and another day visiting an artist community about an hour away. J was sick the entire trip, and the pleasure of driving home fell on yours truly. We laughed that going up to Indy our food stop of choice was Cracker Barell, and coming home we had the same. Our 7 hour trip home took nearly 9, and I was so happy to get out of the car!

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While we were unpacking J asked what we were going to for next year’s Thanksgiving and without missing a beat my first answer and instinct was “something tropical.” Boom and done.

The rainiest week at the beach

In the magic week between semesters J and I took off for the beach. We wanted to make sure we had a balance between rest and fun, so each day I planned one activity, and for all the other time our plan was to be on the beach, playing in the waves, avoiding the sun, and sipping on adult beverages.

The weather had different ideas.

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When we arrived into town on Saturday we checked the weather and saw “oh wow, it looks like there may be some rain later in the week.” The activity I was most looking forward to was kayaking so J wisely said “let’s go ahead and go kayaking, just in case the weather gets worse” (foreshadowing). We went to Shell Island to kayak and it was great! We rented a tandem kayak (renting a tandem kayak should be a marital prereq, because it works your communication skills. Proud to report we had no fights while paddling away) and took off. While we were paddling away I looked in the water (crystal clear!) and saw that we were surrounded by jellyfish. And not little ones. BIG ONES. I was petrified, as visions of a wave tossing one or more of the murderous beasts into the boat danced in my head. J, well he tried to poke tehm with his paddle. The waves were no joke and once we rounded the Island and went to a beach we noticed how huge they were crashing in. While we were playing (and avoiding jellyfish) one wave knocked me down and took me 30 feet in. We loaded back up and went back out, after J delightfully went me into waves before he hopped in. On the return trip we saw DOLPHINS. I teasingly called J the naysayer because he said that we wouldn’t see any, and then they were like 30 feet away! It was at this point that Mr. “I don’t like a hat or sunglasses” went sunblind, making the return trip extra spicy. I guided my blind husband in and we stopped at Wal-Mart to get eye drops.

That night the WORST storm blew in—lightening and wind like crazy. And then the rain came. And came. And came. And NEVER LEFT. The house is about a 3-minute walk to the beach so whenever a break in the rain came we would grab our towel and beer and run to the beach for about 10 minutes. We could not get in the ocean because the water was closed due to the tide (one gentleman drowned that weekend). The waves were huge and the weather was awful. We got some walks in, went to Seaside for lunch, got some tasty oysters, played tons of board games, watched movies, cooked tasty meals, and studied for the GRE, but our dreams of playing in the waves and renting bikes were for naught.

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Sunrise! We ran out to see it and look! More dark clouds.

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Rooftop bar in Seaside!

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Beautiful beach! And more clouds. When the dark clouds got to a certain point we knew to run back to the house.

On our final day—I mean, the day we LEFT, we woke up to crystal blue skies and open water and we hightailed it outside. We put on sunscreen and hopped into the ocean with cautious abandon (rip tides were still making themselves known). We played for hours and then found some seashell sweet-spots and collected tons of shells. Since we were going home we did not reckon on being outside for as long as we were and we. Got. Fried. J is already pretty fair skinned and I fry like a tomato…it was an uncomfortable couple of days for us. Salt on this is that a couple used the house the week after us and reported crystal clear waters with easy waves and no rain. Our fingers are crossed for a vacation with more beach time next year!

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The storms did bring in some great shells!

A beachy 4th | 2016

Every year J’s family gathers at PCB and this year was no exception. I packed up the car Thursday night and we both got off of work a little early to hit the road. I did most of the driving (so J could read for school) and I may have been a slight grouch while driving, but other than that it was an easy and uneventful drive down. Upon getting to PCB we ran to the grocery store and instead of eating out I made a chicken in peanut sauce dish that was ultra tasty. We played games with J’s mom and brother before I crashed hard.

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This view never gets old.

Saturday morning I went for a run, forgetting that if you don’t go before 7:30, you’re toast. When I got back I had sherbet (you have to cool down someway) and then cut the grass. Oh my gosh it was hot. When I got done I took my first cold shower in years, enjoyed a tasty lunch prepared by J’s dad, then dragged myself down to the beach with family. That night we had leftovers and played more games and lit some of our wedding sparklers. Sunday, our last full day, was full of relaxation. After helping out at a rental property we went back to the beach. The water was full of seaweed so we did not spend a lot of time in it, but sipping a beverage reading a book is better at the beach than the pool I think! After some beach time we went back to the house and the menfolk went to a movie while I napped/read until they got back. J and I went down to watch the sunset and then had burgers (yay grilling!). More games, then it was time for bed.

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Monday morning (the actual date) we had to head home to get back to work. Driving was a breeze!! I drove again so J could study and there was no traffic (just about 10 minutes of scary rain).

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A quick trip to Wisconsin!

After weeks of constant travel, it was with peace and joy that I put my suitcase away and prepared for a quiet weekend with my husband, especially knowing we had travel coming up the following week. Then, on Tuesday my phone rang. My beloved aunt shared that my cousin’s graduation party was going to be THAT Sunday and could I please make it? Cue frantic emails to work, searching for tickets, telling J, and buying a ticket. HAH! It was a very impromptu trip—Saturday-Monday morning.

It was my first time flying Southwest and they are not kidding—get yourself to a computer exactly 24 hours before your flight to get your check in spot. SW does not have assigned seats and you get on the plane based by when you check in. After a miscommunication on SW’s part regarding gates, I got myself onto a flight to D.C. with a one hour layover before continuing to Milwaukee. For folks going to MKE we were told to stay on the plane and after everyone disembarked and me and a few others were still sitting on the plane the flight attendants went, “why are you here?” Because you told us to. Cue some more run around and we had our flight!

Immediately upon landing my aunt (AC) and uncle picked me up, we dropped off our stuff, then AC and I headed down to third ward to see a friend of hers new downtown apartment and get a drink. For a girl who heads to bed by 10, I was pretty darn proud to still be awake at 3:45 a.m. MKE time (4:45 ATL time). We got home and to bed, and the party day came bright!

The fam knows how to throw a tasty and fun party (and for any friends who wonder where I A. get my cleaniness from and B. get my tendency to cook too much food, look no further)! It was a peaceful day of hanging out (other than the massive muscle tension headache I woke up with) and seeing friends and family. Monday morning came bright and early and I got on the plane home, then to MARTA, then back to work. J was doing business travel so I missed seeing him at home on Monday night, and was super excited to see him on Wednesday morning when he got home!

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So. many. crockpots. And mount buns!

Weekending | Lake Edition!

The following weekend we traded the ocean for the lake! We were kindly invited by a friend to join him and some other buddies at the lake for a weekend and it was a blast. After a run to Publix for sammies and a minor mishap getting the boat going (note: always make sure the kill-switch is not activated when trying to start the boat), we were off for an afternoon of mostly sunny (sometimes slightly stormy) fun on Lake Lanier. My happy place is the water and it was so much fun going around the lake.

J, no surprise, picked up water skiing with ease (as well as knee boarding) and he was a total hottie going around the lake.

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I, no surprise, did not naturally pick up water skiing and lacked the physical strength to pull myself up on the kneeboard, so I had fun being dragged behind the boat for a while (tubing is more my game).

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J got some time driving the boat so our host could ski, and consequently blow us all away with how well he skied. After he demonstrated moving in and out of the boat wake J was committed to doing that as well. It is bad to laugh, but in one run while he was trying we looked back at him and saw him completely horizontal in the air before going down. Hashtags “ouch” and “yikes” and “darn I am sorry I was not filming.”

Our fun day on the boat was wrapped up when the sun started to set, and we retreated inside for pizza and beer. All of J’s friends enjoy good beer, so there was a tasty selection to try and enjoy (including some homebrew). After dinner and much conversing I called it a day and fell asleep. The next morning we made breakfast…or tried to make breakfast. J makes great omelets, but when we make them at home we have two pans to work with so the turnaround time is not long. Here, we only had one pan to work with (which is normal) and we edited the plan to scrambled eggs. After buying whomp biscuits we then learned the oven was out, so I tried to make them in a frying pan, which for the most part worked (note, keep the lid on to let them steam). Following breakfast and clean up we went out on kayaks, which was super fun! We paddled around our bit of the lake before calling it a day. We headed home, stopped at the grocery store, meal prepped, and watched Walking Dead till bedtime.

PCB Weekend | Memorial Day 2016

Following a fun weekend in NYC, J and I packed up to go to PCB for the Memorial Day weekend. Traffic was forecast to be hellish, so we were quick to make our way out of town and the drive was uneventful, save the most horrific traffic accident either of us have ever witnessed. We were about to cross into Florida and the accident had just happened—it involved two SUVs, a huge motorhome, and a couple of trucks. We looked up the accident later and discovered speed was the contributing factor and two lives were lost. That sobering moment sparked some tough conversations for the remainder of the drive. We, like so many, get caught in the idea of “we can avoid the bad”, etc. but in that accident we saw those involved had only seconds to react…bleh. It was hard, it was tough, and continued prayers for those families involved.

We arrived to PCB and did our usual Wal-Mart stop before heading to the house where we met up with J’s dad. We made burgers and hung out till J’s mom arrived, and I quickly fell asleep. The next morning we slept late, I cut the grass, and then we hauled ourselves out to the beach for a while. Our beach time got cut short because J’s eyes were bothering him really badly, so we went back inside for what remained of the day. Sunday dawned and we went to visit J’s grandma before heading to an afternoon of the beach (before getting chased away by a storm).

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The storm left a rainbow!

Despite the short storm the beach was perfect! Gentle waves, crystal clear waters…gulf > the Atlantic coast, any day.

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It was definitely hard to leave on Monday, but real life beckoned us away from beach life!

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T’s wear pink on the beach.

 

We are both totally relaxed at the beach (as most everyone is). I do not even bother to pack a hair dryer when we travel, and I rarely bring my computer (except I did this time to work on editing a family photo shoot). We always want to contribute while at the house and somehow we became exempt from any cooking the entire weekend, so instead we cleaned to do our part—me grass cutting (I LOVE cutting the grass), Joe wiping down doors and windows. I was studying for the GRE by upping my literature game was reading East of Eden for the trip, and J read his Harvard review articles on the beach. It was such a relaxing (and sunburn free) weekend! If only it was not a 5.5-6.5 hour drive away!

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A flower from J

A NYC Weekend | May 2016

In May I finally got up to visit my dear friend N in NYC!

Since MARTA is so close I brought my suitcase with me to work and after work hopped on the train to the airport. It is awful to go south from Atlanta on a weeknight and it was awesome to zip along on MARTA right to the airport. The news in recent weeks had been full of reports about how awful the security was but I made it through in 10 minutes–I was so excited! My flight did not leave till nearly 10:00 p.m. so I walked each of the concourses looking for a suitable dinner option and then went to my gate to work on East of Eden until departure. The flight was not too full and the seat next to me was empty, win! I read for most of the flight until I fell asleep about 10 minutes before landing. The C family picked me up from the airport and N and I chatted for a couple hours before falling asleep. Let it be noted that I was awake until 2:00 a.m. For this gal that is almost unheard of.

Up in NYC it gets brighter earlier than it does in Atlanta and at 6:00 a.m. I jumped up, thinking it was nearly 9 based by the light. Once we got up and moving we first made our way to Manhattan for a lunch stop at Serendipidy. Honestly, all I wanted was the frozen hot chocolate and it was a sweet delight. Nothing looked too great on the food menu so I went for the “ultimate BLT” forgetting that I’m not crazy about bacon. It was tasty though! That frozen hot chocolate though…it did NOT disappoint.

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Following gorging ourselves on frozen deliciousness we made our way over to Dylan’s candy bar, then went and walked around Central Park for a couple hours. It was every bit as lovely as it looks in films, and far more crowded than it’s every portrayed.

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We wandered through the zoo bit and I LOVED the huge clock with the spinning animals. After a good long walk (and a fizzy water to recharge) we made our way to walk the High Line and good gravy. We walked SO much. Fortunately it was a lovely day and the walk was along the water so it was most delightful (and crowded). We ended our walk at Chelsea Market and were both desperate for refreshments. Following a glass of wine happy hour we grabbed a bit of sushi to share, shopped a bit, and journeyed on to our next snack stop–Sweet Revenge, a cupcake and bar.

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Dinner was now necessary and I was all “pizza sounds amazing” and our waitress was like “go to Joe’s!” and we figured that 1,300 positive Yelp reviews couldn’t be wrong, so off we went. And hey guess what! 1,300 positive Yelp reviews definitely CAN be wrong. The pizza was awful!! Maybe best edible when tipsy? We traipsed through another couple parks then decided “let’s go find a rooftop bar!” While on route to the rooftop bar I found the one thing I had been talking about since before I bought my ticket: Mister Softee.

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It was every bit as wonderful as I knew it would be! After dying with delight over my soft serve we found a rooftop bar with beautiful views. However, the scene was a little bit too clubby for yours truly so we exited before committing to a beverage.

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Options abound in NYC so we decided to just stop at the next place that looked tasty, and it did not dissapoint! We had a yummy cocktail and some nibbles, then went back to N’s apartment (and I may or may not have fallen asleep on the subway).

The next morning dawned bright and early so after getting ready we headed off to the Museum of Natural History. Friends–this was a huge disappointment. It was smelly and cheesy and the only thing remotely exciting were the dinosaur bones. Everything else was a lot of taxidermy. After crossing the museum off our list we headed over to lunch at Eataly. The establishment was an entire block–full of restaurants, food shops, wine shops, etc. We were told it would be a while until our table was ready so we went to their rooftop to get a beverage. As soon as we had our wine/cocktail in hand our table was ready and we had about 4 minutes to down our very full beverages. We gulped them down (#classy) and got to our table, desperately requesting carbs to absorb the adult beverages we had just finished. Lunch was delightful and we rolled ourselves away from the table with very full bellies to go do some shopping (it’s what we do).

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They were a little stingy with the basil on the margherita pizza.

It was getting colder and rainier, so after a spot of shopping we went to Grand Central. Y’all. It was lovely, and probably my favorite stop of the weekend. The intricate detail in so many elements of the building was totally gorgeous! N knew of a small bar in Grand Central and we relaxed there for a while (sipping on our cocktails instead of gulping as earlier). I was majorly craving indian food so N called her hubs who ordered in as we got onto the train and had dinner waiting on us when we got home. We tried a movie (I tried. She watched it) and then passed out exhausted.

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Sunday morning brought with it my plane ticket home! We grabbed breakfast at a restaurant in her neighborhood (salmon eggs benedict) and then went to her favorite bakery. Oh gosh. Second favorite food stop. I took a video of the desserts, and then thoroughly indulged in a Napoleon.

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I taxied to the airport and got home to my love. You may have noticed, wow, was eating all she did in NYC? Why yes, yes it was. We also walked over 40,000 steps in 3 days, so I’ll take it for what it is. Cheers!

Ski Trip 1.0 Review

One fateful day a few months ago the hubs was talking to some friends about upcoming travel plans and they mentioned how they were going on a family ski trip out west, even though they never skied before. J’s ears perked up and said, well, Diana wants to learn to ski (she does? She does.) and y’all should probably get on skis before going west…let’s take a trip to go learn! Because I rarely say no to adventure I said yes to this and found my only clothing purchases in January being ski gear. To say that J was enthused would be a MAJOR understatement. He was off his rocker excited. Packed days in advance. Ready to go-go-go.

The couple we travelled with drove so J and I found ourselves backseat passengers for the duration of the trip. As we were loading our gear in the parking lot I realized I had forgotten my jacket, so J took care of darting up the stairs to grab it before departure (because apparently a jacket is necessary when hitting the slopes). The drive up was uneventful and we arrived late to the frozen mountain.

We were in a great rental right on the mountain, which had great views. Do you think that when people get either a mountain property they think to themselves, “yes! I can decorate with bear EVERYTHING now?” because every mountain property I’ve ever been in has been a little heavy on the kitschy mountain décor (the same though applies to beach properties and decorating with seashells). The kitchen was well stocked and we brought the bulk of food up with us (more on what we stopped for later) and did not eat out once (not including fast food in route there and back).

My dearest Mr. is not a morning person, but Friday morning he was rushing out the door to get to the slopes. We got to the ski resort, grabbed our pass and skis, and J took off for the slopes while the rest of us wen to ski school. I knew that J was comfortable on skis, but he’s a legitimate near expert on skis. He was zipping down black diamonds while I was eating snow on the ski yard. Anyways, back to ski school. Our ski instructor left a little desired when it came to communication, but fortunately J is an amazing teacher and was able to right that instructors wrongs.

I spent hours on the bunny slope killing my legs in those d&% ski boots till I decided it was near the end of the day and I was ready for a green. Guess what? I wasn’t. I still didn’t have turning down (no pun intended). I didn’t understand yet that you do not get hairpin stops in skis. Guess who lost her mind on the green slope? THIS GIRL. There were tears. There was cussing. It was bad y’all. But I got down, J still wanted to be married to me, and I was done. Fortunately our compadres were done as well so we chilled in the loge while J zipped down the slopes for another hour or so. It was decided in the slopes that the bottle of wine we brought for each night was not sufficient so additional librations were stopped for at the Food Lion on the way home.

That evening I cooked dinner (beef stroganoff) and we watched Jurassic World before an early bedtime. The next morning I woke up with not just bruises but WELTS wherever the boot had a buckle on my leg. We didn’t think that I’d be able to handle the pain of the boots on my legs another day so J and the husband of the other couple took off to go snowboard while the wife of the other couple and I spent the morning reading, napping, talking, and I took a walk. When the guys got home they got cleaned up and then we played games and they (the other couple) made supper.

The next morning we were awake bright and early to get home for a peaceful Sunday.

So I don’t forget…when skiing:

  • For the love, never, ever, EVER lean back. Stand straight or lean forward. It feels weird, but go with it—it will slow you down. Keep your knees bent too when leaning. But DO NOT LEAN BACK.
  • When you go to make the wedge/pizza/V/whatever you choose to call it…push your legs open and then point your ski tips. Your knees should be bent at this point too.
  • You don’t get hairpin stops on skis. Be okay with not being in charge.
  • Apparently when you turn, wedge, lean, turn your skis…I’ll keep working on that one.
  • When falling throw yourself to the side. Don’t fall backwards. You’ll keep moving. Trust me.
  • When getting back on skis, get on the downhill one first. And be perpendicular to the mountain.
  • Go with your best friend. It’s 1000x better that way. Bonus points if they happen to be a great teacher who looks hot on skis.

Speaking of the best friend tip, I have to brag on my J for a moment. Getting ready to go he insisted on getting the warmest clothing articles possible for me, and double checked my packing and dressing to make sure I was warm. He stayed with me on the bunny slope for nearly 2 hours, helping me get comfortable. Most notably, he was a SAINT to me while I was being a terror going down the slope. He made skiing the most positive experience possible, and for that reason I cannot wait to grow in my skills in this sport he enjoy so much.