Category Archives: friends

Look at all da fishys!

August 9, 2015

so i took a little hiatus. i apologize. finding an apartment, moving, taking on a new job. and then another. and then a project. and getting my puppy back has left me with little free time. really. she just looks at me with those big brown eyes that plead for me to talk her for a walk. or a run. or a car ride… and i cave. every. single. time.

don't act like you could say no.

don’t act like you could say no.

but i am back! with a story about the Atlanta aquarium.

like most stereotypical human beings that have two x chromosomes, i love little creatures. and any zoo, aquarium, or dog park is a great place to find such creatures. well i settled with the second option in this particular instance for two reasons. 1. for the infamy of the Atlanta aquarium. 2. to not make my own favorite four-legged creature of the canine species jealous.

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well i should probably start with the story of how i ended back up in Atlanta during my traveling escapades.

it was march. and i was getting restless. so what better idea than to leave st. louis?! and where better to go than Georgia?! so off we went. it helped that our favorite Georgian brewery was holding their first public brewery tour.

so we piled in the car. and spent the eight hours singing every 90s hit and taking mediocre snapchats of anything within four feet of, well, my feet.

couldn't help myself.

couldn’t help myself.

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when we finally arrived sometime in the wee hours of the morning, our friend’s apartment was covered in confetti and empty beer cans, and we were the least bit surprised. but that is probably a story for another time.

the next day, some of the boys went golfing. and we went gawking.

well prepared.

well prepared.

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and staring. and pointing. and gasping at some of the most intriguing creatures. not all had four legs, but i still liked them just the same.

there was Melvin, the albino crocodile. his teeth weren’t so frightening when they blended into his skin.

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there was Alfred, the beluga whale. he was very graceful for a 3000 pound animal.

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Sammy, the stingray.  He was always smiling.

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Mr. Bubbles, a giant manta ray. He wouldn’t tell me his real name. or anything at all. but all of his friends called him Mr. Bubbles. and boy, did he love the diver’s bubbles.

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while it was an apt nickname, i think his friends could’ve been a little more creative.

and you can’t forget about Michael. He was pretty hard to miss.

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and then there were the jellyfish.

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and the regular fish.

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and my favorite of all… da otters!! now these little guys had created their own little raft in the aquarium. they swam. and played. and rolled. and wiggled. and giggled. okay, maybe it was just me giggling.

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did you know otters have the densest hair of all mammals? over 100,000 hairs in the space of a postage stamp. ladies, think about trying to brush that every morning. yikes.

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they can also hold their breath for eight minutes. eight! i would pass out.

this little guy wanted to go home with me.

this little guy wanted to go home with me.

also, they are the only amphibious member of the weasel family. and the only cute ones too.

i even made us go back to see them again before we left.

and of course after the aquarium, we had to grab something to eat. meandering around adorable critters will really get your appetite up.

so we ate.

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and went to our favorite libations establishment. where Brian was apparently doing his best Mr. Scrooge impression. with a smile on his face.

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and ate again. at the best brunch place. ever.

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i meant to take a picture before i started eating… and when it arrived i forgot until i was halfway done.

 

and then ate again.

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i don’t know where all that food went at the end.

and then we rolled ourselves back into the car, fat, stiff-necked, and happy, destined for St. Louis once again. but don’t worry Atlanta, i will be back one day.

and don’t worry. the fuzzy creatures of the St. Louis zoo will be coming up soon too!

Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.

December 25, 2014

so it happened. i managed to let an entire month (and a few days) slip past. i knew that time would come. i have spent the last month learning about marketing. and marketing has taken us on a whirlwind of adventure that has involved many packed bags, hotel rooms, airplane flights, and even a trolley ride.

and i want to tell you all about marketing and the other adventures i have been on in the last month. but a quick update on my christmas break. yes, i still get christmas break.

well, break may not be the right word.

i came home and quickly was put to work. it was four days until christmas and there was plenty to be done.

my dad put me to work first, on a much over do project. and to be fair, at least half the stuff to be moved was mine anyways. i guess that is what i get for storing my entire college house in my father’s storage unit.

success one: cleaned out the the last storage unit.

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my little helper.

my little helper.

a five minute trip by home and a quick outfit change later, i was looking like a girl again to help my mom finish christmas shopping. we would have a couple extra guests for christmas this year and we wanted their stockings be filled some a few of their favorite things, which fortunately were not raindrops on roses or blue satin sashes.

success two: obtain stocking stuffers for all to-be present individuals.

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number three is always my favorite. and my unspoken official task. and truly a necessity anytime the family is together.

success three: make a double batch of secret recipe, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies.

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much to my pup’s dismay, i had to take her to the veterinarian to have her updated on her shots. she was not too fond of it, but she handled it like a champ.

success four: update best friend’s vaccinations.

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i even got all of my wrapping done.

success five: start and finish wrapping presents

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in the end, i did not quite finish all i had intended to.

failure one: clean up the land mines covering my bedroom floor.

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whoops. i had been doing so well. but family and friends took precedence. as they should.

my cousins were around for christmas.

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my sister dressed us in onesies for christmas morning.

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they are the cutest.

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we ate delicious cinnamon rolls.

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and i snuggled with my puppy.

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all in all it was a wonderful, fifty-degree christmas in springfield, illinois. i would not trade it for anything.

my favorite view of the tree.

my favorite view of the tree.


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Better Than Take Out

November 16, 2014

it is that time again. i am all packed. leaving another hotel in another city in another state.

off to another plane to go to a different city in a different state and stay in a different hotel.

there has been one thing i have been greatly missing this past week as i stayed in my hotel suite with a sitting room and jacuzzi tub. it is a little thing, i know. i won’t pretend that i am not spoiled. it is just a little thing, but it can make such a difference in my life.

i missed cooking.

i was spoiled in Georgia. i had a kitchen available to me. time to prepare meals. someone to cook with. it was the trifecta. it was perfect.

and then it was ripped away from me. rude.

i mentioned Ryan in a previous post about Cartersville. you remember him, my friendly giant that loves mint chocolate chip ice cream. well he can cook. and he likes cooking. both capable and willing. indeed, it is a rare combination. and one reason why i am a very lucky girl.

as many of you know, cooking by yourself can be time-consuming. tiring. painstaking. but with the right knowledge help, it is a blast.

Ryan likes to try new things. recipes and flavors and variations that i would not think of or instinctively gravitate to. but that is what makes cooking fun. and i guess the whole eating part after. that is a nice perk too.

so Ryan and i tackled the kitchen as a team. and made some incredible meals. what were the top 5 recipes? i am so glad you asked!

5. breakfast:

we mastered this. maple smoked bacon. garlic hash browns. scrambled eggs with veggies. the occasional addition of cinnamon rolls or blueberry crumb cake. oh, so simply delightful.

it was the best part of the weekends.

unless we went to the nook to eat tater tot masterpieces. that one is hard to beat.

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4. chicken tikka masala:

this was a new one for me. it was Ryan’s idea. as you’ll find later, his insistence paid off more than once.

we did not have all the spices that we needed. a challenge of living out of a suitcase. so it was a smidge more mild than a traditional tikka masala. but we cooked the chicken in the marinating sauce so that it was moist and delicious. clutch move, Ryan. clutch move.

pair it with some naan bread and a budweiser. you will thank me.

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3. romano’s pasta:

this one was all Ryan. i will not even pretend that i helped make this dish. i might have cut peppers one of the nights we made it. that was it. he was too good at it. and one should never get in the way of a master.

it is rich. and creamy. and tastes as if Ryan’s Italian fairy godmother sprinkled fairy dust in it. except he isn’t Italian.

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2. pepper jack and spinach stuffed chicken:

i forgot to take a picture of this one. because it was late. like 11 pm late. and there was not any leftover at the end of the meal.

this is an old speciality of mine. it is time intensive. but it is well worth the effort. done correctly, it is the perfect combination of spice, spinach, cheese, and juicy chicken.

we tried pouring beer into the bottom of the cooking pan. it was Ryan’s idea. it was ingenious. but use a real beer. none of that light nonsense (we made that mistake the second time). and only cook it for twenty-five minutes if you have thinner chicken breasts. dry chicken is the worst.

we made it for some friends. who made a great sacrifice for the cause while trying to peel potatoes. but do not fret. we managed to keep the blood out of what would become the garlic mashed potatoes.

we also paired it with roasted broccoli. and followed it with the famous Harwood chocolate chip cookies. i do not think the boys talked through the whole thing. just occasional mumblings of tastebud satisfaction.

1. beef wellington:

now this was a delight. and a challenge. i had never made beef wellington before. and it was time intensive.

we had a free weekend and decided we would do a little cooking. Ryan was really wanting to try this new recipe out. i was a little hesitant at first. i had not taken on that big of a task in a while. and i was a little out of practice.

man. i was glad he talked me into it. it was melt in your mouth delicious.

we axed the liver pate. i do not feel the need to explain this decision.

it calls for beef tenderloin. which is really just filet mignon before it is cut. but the grocery store did not have it as the whole tenderloin. so we settled with the filet cuts. and used extra puff pastry wraps to cover the extra surface area. well, we actually used pie crusts on two of them. and puff pastry crusts on the other two. we had to be resourceful. both versions were delicious. but i think Ryan liked the pie crust version just slightly better.

either way. it was phenomenal. paired with roasted broccoli and cinnamon sugar sweet potatoes. and of course a budweiser.

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we made some incredible sides too. the cheesy biscuit bombs. champagne pear gorgonzola salad (no peppers). roasted broccoli (just olive oil, salt, and pepper). cinnamon brown sugar sweet potatoes. garlic mashed red potatoes.

and do not forget dessert. my personal favorite. the famous Harwood addictive chocolate chunk cookies. mouth-watering dutch apple pie with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel. melt-in-your-mouth triple chocolate fudge brownies. but those are trade secrets.

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mmm. it was good. all of it. it was, without a question, better than takeout.

are you hungry yet? because i am.

No Good, Dirty Rotten Monday

November 12, 2014

it was a terrible case of the mondays.

the worst kind of monday. the kind that hits you after an incredible and inevitably too short weekend. it creeps up on you. silently and swiftly to steal all of your joy and happiness. like a thief in the sunday night. that kind of monday.

we reported to work at 6:15 am. the sun was not yet brightening the sky. the birds were soundly asleep in their nests. the flowers were lazily resting their petaled heads. there was no one awake yet to show off for.

and we were at work. we were the ONLY ones at work. i am currently in a development program. it is terribly hard to learn from the industry experts when you have no one present to learn from.

what did we do?

i am so glad you asked.

Laura and i left. adios. adeus. adieu. au revior. arrivederci. daag. sayonara. ciao. hasta la vista baby.

for only thirty minutes. to go to starbucks. it was necessary. even though i cannot have caffeine. straight sugar can be a substitute. and that is exactly what a vanilla bean creme frappuccino is. delicious, sip-able sugar. at 7 am. it was one of those kind of mondays.

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and then we went back to the office. for what would surely be the worst monday of the year. maybe even the decade. the sun still just barely cresting the eastern sky.

we returned to find that the lady we were supposed to shadow was unfortunately suffering a severe migraine. and she was not going to be able to make it to the office that morning. well, that left us with an entire, unplanned day. surely to be thrust upon some unsuspecting victim who would not have a plan or faint outline of possible important topics to cover with us. we would inevitably become a burden on the poor soul. and as much as he would insist that we were not a hassle, we would have been. and our no good, dirty rotten monday would be forced upon him as well.

but oh, how the tables of fate would turn that monday morning at 7:30 am.

no poor soul was burdened with the terrible pain of our presence. no unfortunate being had to attempt to entertain us. no downtrodden human was forced to pretend that he was happy to have us wreck his already miserable monday.

no. no, that did not happen.

instead they sent us to sea world.

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we frolicked. we played.

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we made friends with sea turtles.IMG_8305 IMG_1872and sea lions.

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this guy.

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and sharks.IMG_1888

we walked among flamingos.

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we fed manta rays. the spotted eagle rays are my favorite. but be wary of the cownose rays. they will suck your hand off if you let them. the southern stingrays were monstrous. and one had a litter of babies.

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courtesy of Laura Slater.

i am still unsure of that sensation.

i am still unsure of that sensation. courtesy of Laura Slater.

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courtesy of Laura Slater.

we rode roller coasters. over and over and over again. there were no lines. we never watched our step and exited the ride. i think the attendants knew our names by the end of the day.

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we were splashed by shamu’s cousins. they seemed to enjoy it a little too much.

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courtesy of Laura Slater

courtesy of Laura Slater

we met a baby dolphin that was 2 days old. it would not leave its mother’s side. swimming right along her side and blissfully leaping out of the water at times.

can you spot the little guy?

can you spot the little guy?

we reenacted the titanic. fortunately we found a door big enough for two.

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we floated over the harbor to take in the sights of san diego.

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we watched a pair of sea lions solve a murder mystery. and there was the otter with them. oh, how i loved the otter. i would have taken the ornery booger home as a pet.

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now i know what you’re thinking. it was monday. we were supposed to be working. it simply is not fair that we were off playing for the whole day in the delightful san diego weather. but that would not be a fair assumption. we worked very hard to evaluate current market trends and promote our brand. it was a tough day.

IMG_1910 IMG_1908in case you could not gather from the pictures, we had a marvelous day. like all scary monsters hiding in the closet, when the lights turned on, we found that our no good, dirty rotten monday was really the best monday of the year.  

Kansas City, MO/KS

November 9, 2014

i have never particularly loved Kansas City. whether it was the Kansas or Missouri side.

it all started my freshman year of college. i went to the mizzou versus ku grudge match in arrowhead stadium. back in 2008. i should probably first mention that i do not particularly love football. but my friends were going. and i really like my friends. because they are incredible friends. so i went along.

well the weather was miserable that year. it snowed. and it rained. and then there was freezing rain. for the entire four hours. and even hail sometime in the second half. and as i mentioned in my last post, i am not a snow bunny. i hate the cold. i hate being cold. and i particularly hate when i am cold AND wet.

so after the game, i am frozen and on my way back to a friend’s. and mind you, i was rocking my savvy flip phone that did not have connection to the internet. or gps. so i managed to get  a little lost. but before you make an assumption about me being a terrible driver on the sole factor that i am a female, there is an exit for 87th street on both the Missouri and the Kansas side. and i forgot to cross over to Kansas before i exited. fail. i was cold and wet and lost. it was not my favorite evening. it was a poor first impression. and as i am sure you know, first impressions are crucial and memorable.

all that to say, i am growing more fond of Kansas City. slowly. it really has surprised me. but the more i visit, the more my heart softens. and it is no longer fair to say i hate it. because of weekends like this.

so anyways. my weekend.

i arrived in Kansas City to the sight of one of my best friends, who was a gem and picked me up from the airport. we talked nonstop on the way back to her apartment. because we are girls. and i missed her. i really am very lucky. i have great friends. i mentioned my incredible high school best friends here, but my college best friends were of no lesser caliber. i am spoiled.

flying the friendly skies.

flying the friendly skies.

we chatted and had a splendid time. she caught me up on the recent happenings in her life. and she laughed at my drama until she had to sleep. because she had to work in the morning. and i got to sleep in. on a friday morning. it was splendid. and then go for a run. if you want to know what happiness is, it is a long run on a crisp fall day in the midwest along a leaf-covered trail. that is my happiness.

it is necessary to step on all the crunchy ones.

it is necessary to step on all the crunchy ones.

to make it even better, i went to lunch with my roommate from college. and i don’t feel the need to specify which year we were roommates, because we were roommates for all the years. i moved in with her the second week of freshman year. and lived with her ever since. she is a beautiful girl. genuine, caring, spirited, independent. i had not seen her in a year and a half. that is a lifetime after living together for five years. and we had so much to catch up on. we ate delicious Indian food. and she told me of her recent engagement and trips to Haiti. it was just like old times sitting around the kitchen table or watching endless Disney movies as we knit scarves like old women. i had missed her and seeing her again so happy made me even more happy, if that was even possible.

deliciousness.

deliciousness.

miss molly.

miss molly.

then i spent some time with my parents. who i love dearly. and spoil me relentlessly. but i will talk more about that later.

i spent the rest of the evening with Jess and her beau, Nick. they are just phenomenal together. they often let me third wheel with them. or maybe it was technically Nick third wheeling with us whenever he came to town. doesn’t matter. the level of sarcasm amongst the three of us is probably unbearable for the average human being. and it is such fun.

we settled on picking up some famous Kansas City bbq from Oklahoma Joe’s, beer, and ice cream. no wonder i am friends with them. and then we proceeded to watch a terrible movie together. i had missed nights like this.

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never enough ice cream.

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there was a better picture of them. but it just wasn't as fitting.

there was a better picture of them. but it just wasn’t as fitting.

but now for the main event. the actual reason i went to Kansas City was a wedding. a very important wedding. because it was my cousin’s wedding. who is a complete goofball. and has the biggest heart. and is completely enamored by his darling bride. they were such fun the whole day. nothing makes a wedding better than a couple that is truly in love with each other.

photo cred: always19 photography

photo cred: always19 photography

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photo cred: always19 photography

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photo cred: always19 photography

and i got to be with my family. oh, how i love my family. i got to see my parents AND my sister. which is often a rarity due to the hectic-ness of our schedules. but there is something about my family that always makes the world right. the fact that they have seen the best of me and the worst of me and still truly love me, is pretty irreplaceable. i am a monster when i am hungry. or in a bad mood. (i think it runs in the family). but they put up with me regardless. what more could i ask for?

i would claim them any day.

i would claim them any day. photo cred: always19 photography

i assisted my sister for the day. who is an excellent photographer. she has clearly surpassed my skills. you can check her work out here. and my parents helped with the photo booth. and even took a turn dressing up. that is what is great about my parents. or one of the things that is great about my parents at least. they are still in love. after 32 years. they have their moments of irritation. we all do. but they really love each other. and that is the greatest thing they ever could have done for me. so throughout the reception, i helped take pictures and watched my parents be adorable and simply enjoyed being with my family.

they are the cutest.

they are the cutest. photo cred: always19 photography

View More: http://always19.pass.us/flippindecker

photo cred: always19 photography

View More: http://always19.pass.us/flippindecker

photo cred: always19 photography

when sunday morning rolled around, with a full tummy and a happy heart, i boarded onto my southwest flight for the trip out west. back to the land of the fun and the sun. but nothing can replace the midwest for me. it will always be home.

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San Diego in 600 Words or Less

November 7, 2014

so back to the timeline.

after my whirlwind weekend in Golden and twenty-four hours in St. Louis, i was on a plane to California. curled up and comfy, watching an incredible sunset out of the window as we flew west.

i had no idea what was in store for me. i had been to California once before this, specifically to San Diego. it was for a close family friends wedding. a beautiful couple that i actually had the chance to see while i was out here. and they made me the tastiest pesto chicken pasta. and let me play with their dog for hours. it was more than i could have hoped for. they are precious together.

i think this should be in a movie.

i think this should be in a movie.

the first week, we spent exploring the warehouse. learning about the operational side of a wholesaler. how the beer arrives from the brewery, is depalletized, sorted into orders, repacked, and shipped out to retail accounts.

and we learned how to drive the walkie forklifts. all i gotta say is that rabbit mode is awesome.

the next week, we unexpectedly got to explore sea world. but i will tell you more about that later. it deserves its own post. solely because there are far too many pictures.

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i also spent time with on-premise sales reps, off-premise sales reps, merchandizers, delivery truck drivers, marketing coordinators, district sales managers, and senior management. i spent time in chain stores, broad market stores, liquor stores, bars, restaurants, and clubs. i spent a lot of time driving around in various vehicles with the Budweiser logo plastered along the side. i spent time unloading trucks, rearranging back storage, counting endless cases, rotating product, and freezing my tush off in the coolers.

for those of you who know me, i am always cold. always. i understand that it is 75 degrees everyday in San Diego. i still wear a jacket at almost all times. there is no farce or exaggeration to this statement. now imagine me in a 30 degree cooler. it is not a pleasant sight. i shiver, i shake, and i stop functioning entirely. it is probably my least favorite part of the program.

so i have learned quite a bit in San Diego. but i have also had quite a bit of fun.

we spent nights at the beach. we spent nights watching the sunset. we ate delicious food. we explored the Gaslamp district. we spent days lounging in the sun. we spent days exploring La Jolla. we made cookies. we worked out. we celebrated halloween. we went on a harbor cruise. we rode roller coasters. we ate lots of ice cream.  we were given delicious desserts. we saw some old friends. we made some new friends. and we took plenty of pictures.

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we had to visit the scene of the crime.

we had to visit the scene of the crime.

yes. i wear a child's size.

yes. i wear a child’s size.

Goose, Maverick, and Iceman

Goose, Maverick, and Iceman

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lots of ice cream.

lots of ice cream.

always free desserts.

always free desserts.

Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel Del Coronado

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it has been an eventful four weeks. and i can not believe that it has already come to an end.

i am excited for what is next. i head to Los Angeles this weekend. and in celebration of that, here are a few pictures from last weekend when i went to visit!

i got to see a dear friend, Katie, who is as incredible as ever.

i got to see a dear friend, Katie, who is as incredible as ever.

i could get used to this.

i could get used to this.

Words Aren’t Enough

November 4, 2014

i am throwing my timeline to the wind today. i should be writing about what i did for my first few weeks in San Diego. or Kansas City. or Sea World. or a host of other things that has happened in the last three weeks.

but i am going to skip ahead to october 25th. because i do what i want.

the 25th was a rough morning. i had a splitting headache. one that i simply could not shake. i was out running errands all morning. and nothing was helping.

i swung by the apartment to pick up my roommate to go halloween costume shopping. and there was a very heavy package inside the door. it had my name on it.

i skeptically poked at the outside. i sniffed it. i shook it. i listened for sounds of life within. but it simply would not reveal its secrets to me.

so gingerly i sliced the tape. held my breath. and cringed as i opened the flaps.

but, oh, the wonder and excitement that was held within that drab brown box!

i found caramel corn and cheese popcorn. i found cinnamon roll cake mix. caramel covered apples. bright and festive socks. vanilla scented air fresheners. caramel apple pops. an incredibly thoughtful itunes gift card. candy corn. halloween window stickers. a mini pumpkin. the most adorable white owl ceramic mug. and notes from the greatest best friends in the world.

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in high school, i was blessed with a group of rock solid friends. we all went to different schools. we participated in different sports. we were active in different groups. we had different sets of friends. we lived in different parts of town. we had different backgrounds. there was really no reason for us to be friends. except that we all loved eating cookie dough and watching movies.

some how. some way. we became friends in high school. we were separated for college. each going to different schools and sometimes different states. but nothing changed.

when we were having a bad day, we would call each other. when we needed support and encouragement, we would chat on our group messages. when we missed each other, we would go visit. when we were back home, we always made a special effort to see each other.

we were awkward and silly high school girls when our friendships started, but they have become the foundation that i can always run back to. they are always there for me, and i am so blessed because of it. they encourage me. they support me. they laugh with me. they cry with me. they tell me when i am being stupid. they correct me when i am wrong. they sing at the top of their lungs in the car with me. they remind me of my value. they make fun of me. they love me unconditionally.

after being out on the road for three months, i have realized how rare and valuable that is. i realized how important it is to have a support system. to have people that genuinely care about you. who celebrate with you in the good times and support you in the hard times. people who remember that your favorite scent is vanilla. and that sunflowers are one of the few flowers that you actually like. that caramel apples are your favorite fall snack. especially when you are missing home and the leaves changing on the trees. that new music always brightens your day. and that your feet are always freezing and could use an extra layer. that owls are one of your favorite animals. those are the people that truly know you. that took the time to pay attention and care about you. whether you deserve it or not.

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when i opened that package and read those cards, it reminded me of how truly loved i am. my best friends were once again right there when i needed them most. and they did not even know it. they are incredible people. and i love them dearly. i do not know where i would be without them.

so Kimmy, Cara, Tay, and Hannah, thank you. with all of the love in my heart. i cannot explain to you how thankful i am. for the package. for the memories. for the last eleven years of friendship. for being the incredible women that you are. words will never be enough to express how much i care about you. i love you all dearly. and cannot wait to see you during the holidays.

 

Dearest Kimmy.

Dearest Kimmy.

Darling Hannah.

Darling Hannah.

Beautiful Tay.

Beautiful Tay.

Gorgeous Cara.

Gorgeous Cara.

oh, how life happens.

oh, how life happens.

the awkward high school years. part 1.

the awkward high school years. part 1.

the awkward high school years. part 2.

the awkward high school years. part 2.

there's always time to dress up.

there’s always time to dress up.


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best friends entertain each other in catholic weddings.

best friends entertain each other in catholic weddings.

ain't she pretty?

ain’t she pretty?

ladies, you are the best.

A Temporary Goodbye

October 19, 2014

the last two weeks at Cartersville was a whirlwind of late nights, last dinners, last teasing jokes, last project meetings, last happy hours, last visits.

it is sad to leave Georgia. i felt very at home there. southern hospitality, pickup trucks, guns, rolling hills, and incredible people. we tried to say thank you to people as best as we could, but how do you show enough gratitude to these people? it is hard. no. it is impossible. the intentional time and energy that they invested in us is unparalleled. they made us feel like we were part of the family in Cartersville, and you can never say thank you enough for that kind of hospitality. so here is a smattering of pictures for our stay in Cartersville. to show you how much fun we had.

hot sauce stand off. Ryan won.

hot sauce stand off. Ryan won.

i look like a child.

i look like a child.

more beer tastings.

more beer tastings.

final happy hour.

final happy hour.

this is not edited at all.

this is not edited at all.

i also had the chance to find a little piece of home during my final week in Cartersville. i have a beautiful friend that moved to Alabama four years ago for college. she has the biggest heart. she is studying to be a special education teacher. she will be phenomenal at it. she was also my partner in crime in high school. my fellow rapscallion, as our coach used to call us. whether we were playing in mud puddles or the nearby creek on our run or traipsing up to the high school roof, she was always right by my side. what more could i ask for? she brought her puppy up for the day and we picked up right were we left off: exploring the woods, eating fresh pecans, and talking about life. she is incredible, and i cannot wait to see what great things she does with her life.

beautiful Jenna!

beautiful Jenna!

meet Bonnie, she's adorable.

meet Bonnie, she’s adorable.

fresh cracked pecans.

fresh cracked pecans.

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so my time in Cartersville has wrapped up. it was an incredible adventure. i will miss it greatly. but i hope to be back there again. hopefully very soon.

Kennesaw Craft Beer Fest

October 15, 2014

today starts week 1 in California.

but there’s so much i haven’t told you about Georgia yet. so i’m going to do that.

i’ll show you a quick photo of us helping save the environment by picking up trash at the local lake in cartersville. and then skip over the rest of that story because no one wants to hear about the good deeds i did.

clean up crew.

clean up crew.

i love lakes.

i love lakes.

the highlight of that day was really the kennesaw craft beer festival.

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we actually went with the vip tickets. mostly because they had free food and the delicious goose island beers. it was a solid choice. because not only was there free food and delicious goose island beers, there was a designated area sectioned off for vip guests only in an empty house. (that’s a terrible sentence with too many prepositions. i apologize.)

now this was very important for two reasons.

number one: there was this guy. he is a nice guy. but he was a little intoxicated and not quick about picking up on my very obvious social cues. my friends found this to be very entertaining. i did not. but his yellow wristband did not allow him to enter the vip only section. hello safe haven.

number two: there was a bathroom in this house. a bathroom. an actual bathroom. with an actual toilet with an actual (relatively) clean seat that did not smell like that blue gunk. when enjoying steady portions of liquid libations over six hours, a real bathroom is crucial. not a port-a-potty. not a bush in the woods. not an empty bottle in the back of a moving van on a long road trip. a real bathroom. ladies, i know you know what i’m talking about.

we tried most of the local brands. some were okay. some less than okay. but i was a little disappointed. i am not a hophead. i will never be. i like my beers to be balanced. a crisp lager or an amber ale or a sessionable ipa. occasionally a good hefeweizen or belgium wit. most of the beers available were so strongly hopped that i was curious how many imperfections they were trying to cover. when i first started drinking, i favored local brews that had a stronger malty flavor and an occasional bitter brew. things that i originally perceived to be craft beer.  so i was a little shocked to find that the brands that i enjoyed most were owned by AB: goose island 312 pale ale, blue point toasted lager, and shock top raspberry wheat. i guess i picked the right company. although i am starting to strongly question how we define “craft”. six million barrels per year is not exactly small.

modeling by the bud light tent.

modeling by the bud light tent.

besides the beer, the festival was fun. a few local live bands covering everything from ACDC to Taylor Swift. their performances steadily improved throughout the course of the event. that or my perception of their performance did. the Georgia game was on the tv, much to many fans’ delight. there was corn hole on the lawn and people aimlessly milling about.

the true highlight of the beer festival was a hidden gem that we found early and frequented often. it was delicious, refreshing, melt-in-your-mouth beer ice cream. it was real tasty. the vanilla bock was my favorite. granted, i couldn’t have the chocolate ones, but i was (ruthlessly) teased of their heavenly taste. check it out here. and if you get a chance, give it a taste.

and now for a smattering of pictures for you to enjoy. and i promise to update more soon about the end of Georgia, the beginning of California, and my trip to KC this weekend!

my new friend, mr. bumbles.

my new friend, mr. bumbles.

i miss them.

i miss them.

the varsity munchies after.

the varsity munchies after.

A Surprise Visit

September 29, 2014

week 3 was an in-depth look into utilities. i won’t subject you to that.

week 4 was an in-depth look into packaging. i could subject you to that. especially because i am working on a project on a bottle line packer. i could subject you to mind boggling statistics about how much beer we package and ship every week. and how fast we package and ship beer every minute.

but instead i want to tell you about how great my last weekend was.

i had a VERY important visitor. i might even venture out to say one of the most important visitors. he is the man who has had the single greatest impact on my life. he is the best person to go to for a funny story, great advice, or a big bear hug. not that i need to further introduce him, but my rascal of a father came to visit. it was the highlight of my weekend.

he made the ten hour drive down to visit me in style. as always. but unfortunately got stuck in traffic behind a pretty bad accident. so what would have been a ten hour drive became a twelve hour drive. but he was a champ and even stayed up to chat with me when he finally made it here around midnight. he must have been exhausted, but he is my dad and he is the best.

i sure hope you were at a complete stop for this picture...

i sure hope you were at a complete stop for this picture…

we had a perfectly lazy saturday morning. complete with good books and a delicious breakfast. Marc had to leave early in the morning to volunteer at a bike race, but Ryan and i had a great time sitting around, chatting with him. he is great to talk with. his years and experiences have developed his wisdom. but don’t tell him that. i’d hate for it to go to his head.

then we drove him the thirty minutes out to Cartersville to show him around the brewery. it was weird explaining the process to someone outside the industry. i didn’t realize how much i had learned in a short two months. the time has gone quickly.

cartersville brewery

cartersville brewery

after our lengthy walk around the plant, we meandered our way back home where i had the pleasure of a few more visitors. i have some crazy friends from college. one in particular that has a habit of making spontaneous, mildly irresponsible, and fantastic decisions. well he acted on the splendid idea to drag his brother, sister in law, and roommate down to Atlanta, Georgia from Columbia, Missouri for a Garth Brooks concert. they are awesome and ridiculous all at the same time. my time with them was short, but as always, splendid*.

*to be said in Alex’s mildly menacing, evil villain tone like he is up to no good. 

then it was out to creole for dinner. and jazz for entertainment. i think the band might have been more focused on providing comedic relief than playing jazz, but the man could play the saxophone. he managed to hold a note for over three minutes. i lost track of keeping time. he lasted longer than my attention span. although that isn’t much of a feat.

cafe 290

cafe 290

sunday was another lazy day. more breakfast. more reading. thai food. captain america: winter soldier. i like lazy days.

i had a rare pleasure on monday of meeting one of my dad’s friends and mentors. his name is Chuck Reaves. he wrote this awesome book about how to turn your ideas into actions. i now understand why my dad likes him so much. he is a mixture of logical reasoning, personal connection, useful application, and intuitive insights. so it was no shock that i greatly enjoyed his company, his opinions, and his conversation. between my dad and him, they made me think. they made me laugh. they made me consider something new. it made me genuinely evaluate ideas that i hadn’t given merit to before. i hadn’t been challenged in that way in a while. i greatly appreciate people who challenge and motivate me to be more. especially when it’s based on logic, research, and passion. those kind of people are rare and immensely influential. and time spent with such individuals is never undervalued.

my monday then concluded at the braves baseball game with Marc, Ryan, and Alaina. the game was not particularly great. the lack of postseason allure dulled most of the enthusiasm. but i will never object to a live sporting event in fair weather.

so much excitement.

so much excitement.

and pretty dang good seats.

and pretty dang good seats.

oh. and here are a few pictures of packaging to satisfy your curiosity.

i filled this tub of bottle caps all by myself.

i filled this tub of bottle caps all by myself.

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living it up on the high lines

living it up on the high lines

so. many. cans.

so. many. cans.