Category Archives: travels

Woof bark bark bark woof!

July 28, 2016

ruff woof bark bark woof ruff ruff!

ruff ruff ruff. bark. woof bark woof.

(whew, i found the doggish to english translator button!)

mom is out spending another one of her sixteen hour days at the office, and i am tired of barking at that prissy dalmatian that keeps strutting by the window with her pink spiked collar and matching leash. sheesh. some girls just think they are all that.

so i puppy hacked mom’s computer to tell you all a little story. and here is goes.. i hope you like it. because i sure did not.

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it was the crisp morning on the 29th of january in a little snowy town called saint louis. and i immediately knew something was wrong when i woke up. mom walked in the door from her dreaded night shift and wafting in on my pleasant morning air was the pungent smell of.. suitcases. yuck. now i do not know if you have ever had the unfortunate circumstance of being downwind of packaged luggage, but it reeks of abandonment and longing. and it is unmistakable.

i tried to warn mom of this cruel perpetrator in our mist, but she just would not listen. so i figured i would try grandpa. he had come to hang out with me because i am his favorite grand puppy. (which is not true. Duke is the favorite. even though he is a window licker. but it is okay. grandma and grandpa still love me bunches) so i tried and tried and triieeed to tell them all about it, but they just would not listen! geez. what does a girl gotta do to be heard these days? it is like i was speaking another language or something.

we are his favorites.

we are his favorites.

anyways, mom and grandpa were rushing about here and picking things up there. it was such a commotion that i did not know where i should even focus my attention. but i will tell you what.. i did not like it one bit. something was very very wrong.

finally about mid morning mommy took me on a very long walk, and my fear just worsened. we never took the extra extra long route. especially mid morning when mommy was usually sound asleep from a long night. and extra especially on such a cold day. mommy and i both hate the cold.

when we made it back to the apartment, grandpa was there moving the suitcases into the car, of all things! those terrible terrible beasts. so i tried to warn him again, but he would just not listen. so i jumped in the car to protect him from the awful things and ensure that they did not get mommy too. i am always looking out for her.

so after a little ride, we stopped at this weird lot of cars. i wanted to get into all of them. especially the red ones. but mommy would not let me. she told me to stay close. i did. and i did my best to stay away from those smelly pieces of luggage too. i cannot believe we were bringing them along with us.

and then we all got into this big giant vehicle. it was so big it could have swallowed mommy’s car whole. and even grandpa’s too! it lurched forward and screeched to a stop and swayed a little to this side and that side. and this giant door kept opening and letting more people on and then off again. i was very happy when we finally got off it. it smelled funny.

and then we came up to this big building that i have never seen before. we walked up and the doors magically slid open in front of me. like i was controlling them with my mind. it. was. awesome.

mommy stooped down next to me and told me that i needed to be a really good girl now and be on my very best behavior. so i sat up really straight. i pulled my shoulders back just like she taught me to. perked my ears up to attention. and pointed my tail because.. well, i am not really sure why. but it seemed like the right thing to do.

i still so pretty.

i still so pretty.

and that lasted all of twenty seconds.

i wanted to be a good girl. i promise i did! but there were just so many smells and people and shiny things. i wanted to see them all. and they all wanted to see me!

but then mom gave me the look. and i gave her the guilty eyes. and she caved. but i stuck close by her side after that. my nose only wandering to the side once or twice. okay, maybe it was more like fifteen times. but really, that is pretty good for me!

when we finally stopped it was in this amazing space that was full of cushioned seating and all these people!

until i sat down.

and i decided that sitting on the floor was much better idea.

the floor was much more comfortable

the floor was much more comfortable

we sat there for a little while until this loud man that was shouting from the ceiling said something about boarding. which was my first red flag.

we got up and started walking. i had no idea where we were going, but mom was with me, so i knew i wanted to go along. we walked into this big round metal contraption. and into this little row of seats. and then we stopped. we just stopped. and stayed there. mom and grandpa sat down. and that was it. i wanted to go visit all the people that were filling into the other seats.

but mom said no. she told me i had to stay. that was the second red flag.

can i please go visit?!

can i please go visit?!

good news was that i found a window!

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but mom would not open it for me. she tried to tell me why. something about atmospheres. and pressures. and 38,000 feet in the air. i have no idea. it made no sense to me. she always let me stick my head out when we go out for other rides. that was the third red flag.

please open the window?

please open the window?

so there i was. no open window. no place to go. and the big contraption we were in started making this loud rumbling noise! i knew it. it was the beginning of the end!

we were all doomed. this great big contraption swallowed us whole and there was nothing we could do about it! how could mom have led us into such destruction?!

and then it got louder and we started moving faster. and faster. and faster. until we were going faster than i have gone faster before! it was exhilarating and terrifying and confusing.. and then..

nothing.

no doom. no gloom. no grand destruction. we just sat there. we sat there for four hours. four hours, people! no wind in my ears. no new smells in nose. no place for my little legs to walk to. it was super lame.

so i curled up and took a nap. what else is a hound dog supposed to do?

there was not a whole lotta room down there.

there was not a whole lotta room down there.

the best part of the flight was when mom left for a couple minutes. i could not figure out where she went. but it was the perfect opportunity to swipe her seat. can you all believe that she made me sleep on the floor? doesn’t she know who i am?

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much more comfortable!

it did not matter though. when mommy came back i was not giving up my new found seat. my royal tush was not going back down to that floor. it was hard. and smelly. and i think there was something sticky under my paw. so when she did come back, i went with my tried and true method: avoid all eye contact. i call it the if-i-don’t-look-at-what-is-going-on-it-won’t-actually-be-happening-and-i-get-to-do-what-i-want stare. let me tell ya what folks, it works every. single. time. but if you use it, make sure you give credit where credit is due. it’s patented.

eventually i ended up snuggled on her lap and life was good.

i fit perfectly.

i fit perfectly.

even when the big contraption made these funny noises again. and then slowed waaaay down. it was all okay. because i was finally comfy on mommy’s lap and wherever she was going, i was going to.

when we finally stepped out in the sunny, warm, dry place that mom kept referring to as california, i knew we were on some grand adventure and that i never wanted to get on that big contraption again. ever.

too bad mommy did not get that memo. she made me go in that big contraption three more times since then! but at least grammy is always on the other end with treats when we get out of the big scary thing. she is always so good to me!

until next time and with love!

bai

grammy likes to snuggle with me

grammy likes to snuggle with me

nose lickin good treats!

nose lickin good treats!

i am getting better at this flight thing.

i am getting better at this flight thing.

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a big announcement

February 1, 2016

i left on a grand adventure today.

well, a few days ago now. it has been a bit busy.

i have packed up my little apartment, loaded my pathetic puppy onto an airplane, and moved to san diego, california.

well ain't that a view!

i have been transferred out here for work. for those of you who know me, you know that this was not really in my plans. not really a destination that was on my list of places to live. which sounds quite snobbish of me to say, it is san diego for crying out loud! i know, i know. some of you are cursing me right now, but hear me out.

california is two thousand miles away from home. two thousand. comfort, family, cornfields, familiarity are all two thousand miles away.

now i have been blessed with quite possibly the greatest family of all times and moving two thousand miles away from them does not sound ideal. they have always been a huge help, a huge support in my life, and i have loved being able to run home over the weekend whenever for whatever.

photocred: Always19 Photography

photocred: Always19 Photography

and now God is calling me to move my life two thousand miles away. to a beach. to warmth. to eternal sunshine and seventy degree weather. but the important part is that God is sending me. and i have no idea why, but i am going because His plans are more important than mine. clearly, He kind of wrecked the plans that i had in place and re-routed me. the great part is that He is big enough to do that and knows what is best for me. especially when i am being too stubborn to listen.

so what brings me out here? i will be working in logistics at a wholesaler. and we all know how much i love to nerd out on logistics. for those of you who are not familiar with the three-tier system of alcohol distribution, the wholesaler level sits between the brewery where we make the beer and the retail accounts where you buy the beer. this all came into play with the repeal of prohibition. when the twenty-first amendment was ratified on december fifth of nineteen thirty-three, the states began creating systems to regulate alcohol distribution. the amendment gave each state free reign to determine the methods in which alcohol would be re-introduced and regulated within the state, which leads to the fifty different legal precedents we have today. the three tier structure and additional taxes became the most common practice solutions to limit the shady back door deals and overconsumption of adult beverages. thus was the birth of the wholesaler in the alcohol industry.

and some where way down the line from all of that, here i am. in california. and so very excited about what comes next.

i can feel that God is using this. i am thrilled about the job i will be in. i think it is going to be a good fit for me. and i know He will make sure i am equipped.

but this takes me farther away from home. and per mother’s request, i am reinstating my blog. or at least committing to post more regularly as i have been slacking. but i need to find a place to live first, then i have some catching up to do. stories of ridiculous warehouse employees, the hogwarts express in harry potter world, the last superbowl and blinding blue lights, portland and seattle, my beautiful cousins at purdue, georgia tech and how to paint a football field, and the tacos of austin.

so here we go again. the start of a new adventure.

photocred: Always19 Photography

photocred: Always19 Photography

how many of you caught that i loaded Bailee onto a plane earlier? yeah, there will be a story coming about that one too.

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!

Caution: Nerd Crossing

March 17, 2015

after an epic tour of chicago and Goose Island Beer Company, marketing sent us to to san fransisco, california. into the heart of silicon valley amongst the budding new technologies and hub of start ups. it was a geek’s paradise.

our first stop landed us in palo alto, ca. it is the home of our so called “beer garage”. i still do not quite grasp the implications of that name, but it is essentially our touch point for connecting with new technology and start up firms for business solutions in our beer company. i know. i know. it has nothing to do with a garage. it baffles me too.

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it rained every day. except the day we left.

 

on a rainy morning with a runny nose and a box of cold medicine, i meandered my way to the trendy, downtown creative haven where start up companies attempt to make their wildest dreams come true by landing the behemoth beer company as their clients. complete with swanky floor pillows, red statement couch, and a fully stocked beer fridge. but what AB building doesn’t have a fully stocked beer fridge? at the brewery, we call it the warehouse. it’s much more impressive.

from there, they sent us to singularity university. don’t know what that is? i didn’t at first either. it is associated with nasa research park. that’s right. i said nasa. and its goal is to educate leaders to implement exponential technologies to solve humanity’s grand challenges. don’t know what that means? i didn’t at first either. they work with technologies that are forward thinking and developing very quickly and how they can fix our world’s problems. it is pretty dang cool. if you want to learn more about it, go here.

want to ride a roller coaster? without leaving your chair? and even experience that same i'm-going-to-upchuck-all-over-the-person-in-front-of-me? try these babies out.

want to ride a roller coaster? without leaving your chair? and even experience that same i’m-going-to-upchuck-all-over-the-person-in-front-of-me? try these babies out.

and then we went to google. yep google. with the red, green, yellow, and blue bicycles. with food shops on every floor of every building. with sand volleyball courts and swim current pools. with bright-eyed eager nerds developing exciting new technologies. with the stairs that scroll the top topics being googled at any given time. did you know those stairs were put in specifically for the movie the internship? because i learned that. and the sign on the building. that wasn’t there before the movie either. nothing like a little cinema magic to spruce up the place.

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is your inner nerd silently freaking out?

well it gets better.

the next day we went to twitter.

i am not much of a tweeter. but it was cool to see. i liked the vine wall with the wooden bird hidden in it. and the hat. even though i look like a dork in it.

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twitter makes you want to swing.

twitter makes you want to swing.

and we ate delicious brazillian barbecue that evening. some in the group even ate the chicken hearts that were offered. i was not among that group.

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adults entertaining themselves maturely at dinner.

adults entertaining themselves maturely at dinner.

and the next day? well we went to facebook. facebook has a lot of food too.

in games of thrones, when they talk about the eating hall at the wall where jon snow is stationed, i always think of the facebook mess hall. i know. i know. there are diverse and delicious options in the facebook mess hall other than salted beef and fish and stale bread. and there are modernistic new chairs. and a dessert bar. and a coffee bar. and free monster energy drinks in coolers. i know they have absolutely nothing to do with each other. but there are long rows of tables and it is dimly lit. so i can’t help it. my imagination is a hard thing to control.

oh, and there is also a barber shop, urgent care, pizza joint, bowling alley, barbecue grill, walking tracks, mexican restaurant, and strange connecting walkways between buildings. it is like their own little village. that was intentionally designed to mismatch. but it is still pretty cool.

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oh. and there are free umbrellas everywhere.

and conor's was broken.

and conor’s was broken.

and then? we went to instagram. which is technically still at facebook. because facebook owns it. but the picture i took makes it look like the place is abandoned. because i thought it was funny. of all the places we went, this was probably the one social application that i use the most. too bad it has little to do with our current digital marketing strategy.

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to conclude our trip, our group ventured into downtown san francisco for a memorable night. or unmemorable for many in the group. but i don’t think that one is fit to print… so ask me about it if you are in need of a good story.

the main things that i learned from our trip?

1. it takes a lot of people to run the social applications we use every day.

2. those people need to be fed a lot of food. for free.

3. san francisco is rainy. very rainy. at least in december.

4. standford has a pretty campus. that i got lost running around. in the middle of a rain storm. through the mud.

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oh. and here is the bridge.

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Goose Island Beer Company

January 15, 2015

so there is this really cool brewery up in chicago. maybe you have heard of it. it is called Goose Island. it was created in 1988. it makes delicious tasting beers.

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some very smart person at corporate decided that we needed to visit Goose Island to learn about there tactics of marketing. unaware of their shenanigans? feel free to reference this, this, and that.

as Thanksgiving came to a close, i trekked north into the frozen windy city again. not that st. louis is much warmer. but at least it is less windy. it counts for something.

day one at Goose Island was a marathon that i am not entirely sure my stomach was ready for.

have you heard of bourbon county stout? most beer snobs have. it is a treasured relic. a precious jewel. a rare gem to connoisseurs of craft beer. it is released only one day every year: the much dreaded black friday. while soccer moms and baseball dads wait in line at walmart, toys’r’us, and best buy; beer buffs everywhere are waiting in line outside of liquor stores and grocery chains in hopes of procuring this elusive beer.

and while i did not wait through the blistering illinois cold on the eve of november 28th, i had the privilege to try every flavor of bourbon county stout produced by Goose Island Brewing Company. you know, just a perk of the job.

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this year’s crop consisted of bourbon county stout original, bourbon country stout coffee, bourbon county barely wine, bourbon county stout vanilla rye, and a proprietor’s bourbon county stout reserve from 2014.

stouts are deceptive. they look intimidating. they smell intimidating. but they taste fairly smooth and inviting, except for that bitter bite of bourbon unique to this style. while they would not be my first choice, or a choice for casual, light drinking, it had an interesting taste that i can appreciate on special occasions.

from there, we were introduced to the sour sisters. maybe you have met them? they go by sophie, matilda, gillian, halia, lolita, juliet, and madame rose. as in real life, each lady has her own personality. some sweet. some strong. some tart. some bitter. but none of them are bland.

each person seems to have their “type”. my type is sophie. she is mild-mannered with a little flare for the dramatic exit. she is a lovely lady to spend the evening with, but she will leave you with a lasting reminder that she is gone.

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we tried some of the sisters during a tasting. and others during a delicious beer pairing lunch. others during a beer pairing lunch. sophie can be everyone’s best friend but particularly pairs well with salads. matilda needs a stronger partner and matches well with fatty meats and potent cheeses. juliet’s bold personality likes to be the dominating flavor in the room, so she is best coupled with a sweet and shy fruit cheesecake.

you won’t forget meeting the sour sisters. no one forgets their first. regardless of whichever lady is your favorite, make sure you take her out to a nice dinner and walk home with her at night.

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we drank a multitude of beers. starting at nine in the morning. this was the result of our day. well, that and a bit of a restless tummy.

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we also spent time walking around the enormous barrel aging cellar, visiting with local marketing agencies, and meandering through the breweries on fulton street and clybourne. but i do not think you want to hear about me walking around, so i will leave you with pictures of those for now.

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Chicago, Illinois

January 5, 2015

so the last week of my sales rotation landed me in chicago.

chicago. in the middle of november. during the polar vortex that swept through the midwest. with single digit weather and negative wind chills.

i went from 60’s and 70’s to the single digits and negatives. it was what we call a “rough transition”.

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my toes were frozen. my fingers were frozen. and worst of all, my nose was frozen. i hate when my nose is frozen.

to cheer my frozen spirits, i visited a good friend from high school for an all day lord of the rings marathon. complete with warm blankets and baileys. and during a candid game of catch phrase, i was even thrilled to learn her favorite color was still purple. thankfully, some things never change.

a throwback because i forgot to get a picture. ellen was always picking up me.

a throwback because i forgot to get a picture. ellen was always picking up me.

the rest of my nights for the week were warmed with room service and good books. winter makes me a bit of a hermit.

i love to be outside. i love to enjoy the green plants and warm sunshine. fresh breezes. tree smells. rustling leaves. splashing in water. i would happily spend the whole day outside. in the spring. or summer. or fall.

in the winter? heck no. it is cold. so i sit inside and attempt to combat cabin fever with whatever random activities my frozen brain cells can conjure. mostly reading, baking, knitting, and pinteresting.

except for one day. one very cold day, we ventured out into the midwestern frozen tundra. to indianapolis. yes, indianapolis.

“why?” you ask.

because i wanted to play sardines in an excursion filled with seven grown men.

because i wanted to take a four hour joy ride at five in the morning.

because i wanted a chickfila breakfast sandwich.

because i wanted to visit the leaders of the best wholesalers in indiana.

do you not want to drive four hours at five in the morning on any given tuesday to the outskirts of indianapolis to a wholesalers meeting?

i mean, who wouldn’t?

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our view for the trip.

our view for the trip.

the view of us during the trip.

the view of us during the trip.

breakfast of champions.

breakfast of champions.

the beautiful countryside.

the beautiful countryside.

The Land of the Fun and the Sun

November 22, 2014

i got to spend five weeks in California. five whole weeks.

before this rotation, i spent a whole four days in California during my life. i never had a reason to visit California. it is not exactly close to my midwestern hometown. i have very few friends located out there. i have no family out there. and i never really needed to visit the beach.

all that being said, it was nice to have an excuse to visit for an extended period of time. actually get to know the area. instead of basing my perception on a quick weekend stop over.

after my five weeks, i found that California is a very polarizing place. it evokes surprisingly strong emotions in me. which i did not think a place was capable of doing.

top five things i loved about California:

1. the weather. i have mentioned that i hate being cold. i really hate it. deep, dark, fiery burning passion hate it. California is not cold. at least where i spent my five weeks at in southern Cali. i was wearing shorts while my sister whined about the snow at home.

2. the scenery. i know that sounds weird because i am not particularly fond of the beach. it is really the sand that gets me. and it gets everywhere. seriously everywhere. otherwise i like the beach. except when the water is cold. or when it is particularly windy. okay okay. i am picky about the beach. but i love the view of endless water.

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3. my mini cooper. i rented a mini while i was in California. it was white. sassy. fun sized. needless to say, it fit me well.

meet mini.

meet mini.

4. the food. there is some incredible food in California. the Mexican was delicious. the fish tacos were delicious. the fruit was delicious. and much fresher than home this time of year. and i guess the sushi is delicious. if you like that sort of thing.

so much sushi.

so much sushi.

5. sea world. see this post. i do not need to say any more.

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top five things i disliked about California

1. everything is brown. there is always a drought in southern California. always. so most of the things are brown. i am not particularly fond of brown. especially when i am missing the beautiful reds, oranges, and yellows of fall at home. that one killed me.

on the way up.

so much brown.

1a. the water tastes funny. due to the before mentioned drought, water has to be piped down from northern California. that is a long way for water to be piped. and then adjusted with too much water softener. it tasted funny. i was not a fan.

2. there are no seasons. it feels as if time stands still. it remains constant. unchanging. stagnant. there is no mark of the changing colors of the trees. there is no white of snow creating a Christmas blanket. there is no rebirth of spring. just summer. only summer. it feels as if no time passes. until you are suddenly twenty years older and unsure how the wrinkles appeared on your face.

3. it is expensive. gas was a dollar more expensive per gallon than in Illinois, which is not known for cheap gas. fruit is a dollar more expensive for half the quantity. i do not even want to know what the housing costs. yikes.

4. i am allergic to something there. i do not know what it is. but i must be allergic to something there. especially in LA. i am sure it was some plant i had simply not been exposed to previous. but i could not stop sneezing.

5. the culture of constant comparison. everything is compared. houses. cars. clothes. people. salaries. hobbies. possessions. preferences. it is exhausting. how do you keep up with that? do what you want because you want to. you have nothing to prove to me. you waste your time trying to please everyone.

California was polarizing, yes. but i am glad i was placed there. i got to explore someplace new. to see a different part of the country. to experience a new area. and to be warm. that was my favorite part.

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Veteran’s Day

November 21, 2014

i do not deserve to have a holiday for veteran’s day. i have done nothing to deserve it. i have friends and family that have served. that earned the recognition. that earned the holiday through years of hard work, sacrifice, and bravery. and for that, i owe them all my gratitude for my much treasured freedom.

as usual, even though i did not deserve it, i was granted a day off of work. it was a day well spent at least.

i was split my from San Diego trio to visit a district manager for a week in Anaheim. so i was on my lonesome to spend an entire day as i pleased. so what did i do?

i slept in. in my big comfy, pillow topped king-sized bed with plenty of blankets.

i ate a delicious breakfast compliments of the hotel.

i went for a hike in Chino Hills State Park.

there is very little change in elevation where i come from. it is flat. very flat. in every direction. and any time i encounter even a minor change in elevation, i am compelled to trek my way to the top: whether it is a curb, stair, bench, hill, bluff, tree, or (much to my mother’s dismay) a roof. it is probably compensation for my vertical shortcomings. but i am no psychologist.

so when i was picking a trail, i naturally chose the one that lead me to the highest point of the park: San Juan Hill. it was a treacherous journey up the south ridge trail. on a wide, beaten path that has clearly seen many travelers. it was not the typical path i would seek, but it still provided the sights i wished to see.

on the way up.

view from the top.

the majestic marker was perfect to sit on.

the majestic marker was perfect to sit on.

and there were these weird things.

and there were these weird things.

after my two hour hike, i ventured back to my hotel. to soak in my jacuzzi tub for far longer than my wrinkled skin preferred. and drink raspberry tea from the adorable owl mug my best friends sent me. i have not pampered myself like that in years. years. i do not think i could pinpoint the last time i took a bath. but it felt wonderful. at least once my skin smoothed back out.

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feeling more than i little antsy, i decided to venture out of the hotel again. i ended up at Newport Beach to watch the sunset.

and i made a new friend. he was shaggy, golden, and friendly. it is like he knew i was missing my own dog. i named him Charles. regardless of his actual name. but Charles did not seem to mind. he settled right down into the sand to keep my legs warm while i scratched his ears. i could say more, but i would hate for my pup to turn green. i much prefer her blue-black coloring.

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meet Charles.

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i finished my night with panera and a call to my sister. those are two of my favorites.

in all, it was a pleasant day. i do not always have quite so much time to explore my area since we move so frequently. and the wanderer in me aches to leave the office and explore the cities i travel to. it was a much needed, unexpected holiday. i did not deserve it. but i really appreciate those who made it possible.

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.

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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