Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kick-Ass: Movie Review

Before I get into the movie review I want to share one thing I learned last night while cooking.  I was making a home-made mac n cheese with chicken and peas.  The recipe called for shredded American cheese, but while I was at the grocery store, I didn't see any blocked American cheese in the dairy section.  I was distracted, hungry and ready to get home after a long day so I grabbed some shredded cheddar instead.  DON'T DO THAT!  They don't melt the same.  While trying to mix the cheddar into the hot macaroni noodles it didn't distribute through the pasta and made one giant clump.  It still tasted great, but would have been better with more cheese.  I guess I went with a lighter version of the recipe...

Source: Wikipedia

Back on track: onto the movie review.  I'm not really a comic book movie type of person.  (I just realized that haven't written my review of Captain America yet.)  I had this movie in my Netflix queue for a while and it finally made it to the top.  I'm not sure why it was even in the queue in the first place, but that's neither here nor there.

Like most of the other comic book movies I've seen I figured there would be some fighting, an unrealistic love connection, bad guys and some impossible moves during the fight scenes.  Check, check, check and check.  What I didn't expect was to see Nicolas Cage (I didn't really do much research on the movie before I rented it) or the gruesome nature of the fighting.  The movie was much darker than I ever imagined and pretty violent.

The story begins with a regular teenager, Dave.  He has close friends but is invisible to ladies.  He gets a crazy idea that he needs to become a superhero to help fight crime in NYC.  He has no crime fighting skills, no super powers, no angry rage to fuel his aggression.  He's lucky and helps save a guy getting attacked by 3 men and becomes a hero overnight.  While fighting crime he meets other "superheroes" and these new local heroes anger the city's largest drug dealing family.  The drug kingpin is out to get Kick-Ass and the rest of the masked team.

There were quite a few plot twists that I didn't expect from what I remembered of the movie trailer.  Halfway through the movie I said to Stephen that I didn't like it at all, but the final fight scene was pretty crazy and that saved it for me.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't that I liked it, but it was definitely not something I expected and it was pretty ridiculous.

Overall, I give the movie 3 out of 5 stars.  It wasn't a horrible movie, the story was interesting and original(ish) and it wasn't predictable.  Now would I watch it again or recommend it to my sister, nope. But it was a good 90 min or so.

Monday, January 30, 2012

1st Beer Festival of the Year

Well, we have that under out belt - the first beer fest of the season.  I'm not sure if all cities are like Atlanta, but starting in late January/early February it's beer festival season until early May.  Almost every weekend you can find a beer festival somewhere in Greater Atlanta.

This weekend was the Atlanta Winter Beer Festival held at The Masquerade on North Ave.  It's a pretty big concert space, but I've never been to a show there - it doesn't really pull in my type of music.

From the street I had no idea how big The Masquerade was on the inside.  It was huge!  There were multiple rooms with different beer to taste in each room, over 100 beers to taste in total.  Outside there was a giant tent set up with more beer vendors and some beer pong and flip cup games taking place.

When we go to The Masquerade the line was pretty long, but it moved very quickly and we were inside not much after 3:00, when the doors opened.  One of the rooms even had live music.

I tried to keep track of all the beer I was trying, but after the 4th or the 5th beer I lost my piece of paper and after the 6th or 7th beer I lost the desire to try new beers and I was just going to the "bartenders" who were pouring the biggest cups of beer.

The event ended at 8:00pm and we were back at a friend's house for the after party since she was in walking distance.  We hung out, ate some cheese dip, sausage dip and buffalo chicken dip until I could legally drive home.

Like any festival, the only complaint was the number of bathrooms.  There never seems to be enough, no matter how many they have.

February is typically the month of oyster festivals - let's get ready!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pittsburgh - Getting a Bad Rap

I took my first trip to Pittsburgh for work this week and I had a very clear image in my head of what to expect.

I thought I'd see boarded up houses, lots of homeless people, run down cars and trucks - generally a place I wouldn't like at all.  Flying into Pittsburgh I was initially shocked by how mountainous it was.  There were some pretty huge hills with some pretty big houses on the the top.  Not something I thought I'd see.

The airport was easy to manage and it wasn't like a zombie town.  My flights to and from the city were packed full of business men and women.  I'm not sure I saw one family on either flight.  When they called Zone 1 to board, basically the entire flight boarded because everyone was Business Elite status.

Drive from the airport to Downtown Pittsburgh is pretty boring, not helped by the overcast weather we had.  Right before you get to Downtown you go through a tunnel, a pretty long one, and come out going over a bridge overlooking the city.  It's a pretty breathtaking view.  The city is in front of you in all it's glory, the football stadium is to the left and shortly after that you can see the baseball stadium.  While not nearly as amazing as seeing Manhattan for the first time, seeing the city from a bridge was pretty similar to crossing the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time, but knowing you're still in Pittsburgh.

Downtown was a pretty vibrant place.  There were people walking everywhere.  There was mass transit, department stores for shopping and business men and women walking too and from.  To be honest, it was more of a destination than Downtown Atlanta which is full of empty store fronts and homeless people.  I was impressed.

During our trip we were touring new Bottom Dollar Food stores which were opening that day in Pittsburgh, in the suburbs.  Now, the burbs were what I expected them to be.  You can tell some of these people and homes have been through some hard times, but I will say, everyone we met was extremely nice.  There is definitely a sense of neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, more than I have seen here in Atlanta.

Will I ever jump at the chance to move to Pittsburgh, no thank you, but will I complain every time I have to board a plane back there, not at all.  I'm actually heading back next week for a day trip and I know it could be far worse - I'm not going to Philadelphia!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Penzeys Spices & Dessert

We were going to have a small dinner part last night so Stephen made some pork shoulder in the crock pot.  His recipe is pretty simple.

  • Rub meat with spices
  • Place in crockpot
  • Pour in one or two bottles of dark beer, depending on the size of the shoulder
  • Turn on low for 8-10 hours
  • Enjoy!
For Christmas, my dad got Stephen a really great variety of rubs from Penzeys Spices, a great specialty store in Winter Park, FL.  Typically I would just walk past such a store, but Dad knows better.  They have stores all over the US (one in Sandy Springs, GA!) or you can order through a catalog or order online.  

For dinner last night we went with the Adobo Rub.  Penzeys is great because they give you a little info on the rub and what you can make with it.  Most of the rubs Stephen got from my dad were for beef, this one was good for pork, seafood or chicken.  You can even put some of it in guacamole!  

The main dish came out delicious.  I didn't take a picture because, let's be honest, a big slab of meat isn't a pretty picture.  Trust me, the house smelled amazing when we walked in the door from work and the meat just fell apart.  It was so tender and juicy.  

For dessert we had orange sherbet topped with fresh berries, peaches and honey.  It might have been the best non-chocolate dessert ever made.  

We have so many leftovers, we'll have the same meal tonight for dinner.  I can't wait!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Forcing myself to get back in shape

I have two forces working against me.  We just got through the holidays and I didn't hold back on my eating.  If it was in front of me and looked good, I ate it.  I'm also in a very happy relationship.  I'm comfortable and when I'm comfortable, I like to eat a little bit more than when I was single.  Cooking is easier when cooking for 2 AND it's not always me who has to do the cooking.  We love to cook and enjoy good food.  I'd rather have a good meal at home or at a restaurant than go to a movie.

I will say, I try not to completely indulge in bad foods.  I watch how much I eat and I eat a lot of salad for lunch.  We don't have boxes of cookies or baked good sitting around the house and we don't drink sugary drinks.  We rarely order desserts when when we go out to dinner.  I think we're smart eaters, but we eat a lot.

I was doing so great with staying fit when I was training for the Peachtree Road Race, that's all gone away now.  I'm not sure I could run 6 miles today if I had to.  This weekend was the first step to getting back into shape.  We are going to run the Peachtree together this July, and I'm seriously considering signing up for a half marathon.

Sunday morning the weather wasn't bad (the only nice part of the weekend) and we hit the road with Mabel and we took a 90 minute walk around the neighborhood and around Grand Park.  I loved it.  It was time that Stephen and I had together Mabel had the best day of her life (since she really only remembers a day at a time) and we exercised.  We're going to slowly build from walking to running almost everyday.

Being from Florida, running outside in the cold is really hard for me.  My ears and lungs burn after breathing the cold air for 10 minutes and I'm miserable.  I'm trying to find a gym that's convenient to me so I can still work out when it's too cold to run outside.

I don't have a weight loss goal.  I don't have clothes that I'm not fitting.  I just want to feel better about myself and confident when it comes time to start shopping for a bathing suit again.  Operation get fit has begun.

This picture has nothing to do with working out - but I wanted to share.  Saturday morning we woke up to a pretty serious thunder storm and this is what the rain did to our street.  We are lucky and we're up on a hill so we didn't have any standing water anywhere around our house or cars.  I've always loved falling asleep to rain and thunder, waking up to it was new, and awesome.  The storm was pretty bad and obviously dropped a lot of water pretty quickly.  We got a lot of hail, too, so we were a little worried about a tornado.  No tornado and the rain let up after the picture was taken and we were able to enjoy a delicious breakfast together.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Headboard wall Decal from Urban Outfitters

Our guest room is a work in progress.  It's a miss match of furniture that we both had in different rooms of our houses before we moved in together.  The room is fully furnished with a dresser, sofa, queen bed, bedside table and lamps, but it doesn't feel like it all fits together just yet.  As I'm often reminded, we have years to get it right, there is no need to go out and spend tons of money all at once.

One of the things that I felt the room needed the most was a headboard for the bed.  I've been looking on Pinterest for inspiration for a few weeks and I have a lot of great ideas, but all are expensive or will involve a lot of time - neither of those options help me in the short term.

While looking at sale items on Urban Outfitters I came across this wall decal headboard.  It could be the simple fix to my headboard problem.  I scooped it up right away.

Last night the work began.  The decal came in two giant pieces.  It definitely took both of us to put it up.  We noticed right away that the hardest part was making sure it was level.

Above is a picture of the bottom half of the decal on the wall.  Notice the nice work Stephen did to work with the electrical socket.

Then it was time to put the top half of the headboard on.  The hard part this time was making sure the pieces matched without a seam.  I think we did pretty good!  I saw in the comments on the Urban website that someone cut it into 4 pieces before they put it on the wall, that probably would have helped  a little bit.  

Here is the finished project!

I think it looks gorgeous.

Word of advice for anyone else attempting to put up this decal, or I can imagine any decal, use two people BUT make sure the one with little or no patience (in our case, me) should be the one doing the work or before the project begins, swears to keep his/her mouth shut.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I love Florida - a craft with thread

I love spending time on Pinterest and Etsy looking at crafts that people have spent blood, sweat and tears on to create.  People are so much more creative than I am.  Not just a few people, but a LOT of people.  I think I have it in me to be creative, but I never developed it as a kid (I get embarrassed very easy and any criticism as a kid kept me from trying new things).

I saw this listing on Etsy and fell in love immediately.  She does amazing work.  I am a Floridian living in Atlanta.  Not only that, I'm a Florida Gator living in Bulldog country.  As much as I wanted it, I don't have $80 to spend right now on art.  There are just too many trips this year, and it's only January!  I decided I would try to re-create her art myself.  You can see from my picture above, it's not as organized and precise, but it's close.  Close enough for my house.

My first step was to find the plaques.  I tried Home Depot, no luck, so I went to Michaels.  It was by far the most expensive part of the project at $8.  I then painted with some acrylic paint that I already had on hand at the house.  Once painted I printed out an outline of the state and placed it where I needed it on the plaque.

I began following the border with my nails.  I used nails 1/2 an inch long.  I drew the University of Florida's F on to the area above Gainesville and nailed there as well.  The HARDEST part of the project.  Once all the nails were in I thought it looked pretty great!

Then it was time for the string.  I found a 750 yard spool of orange thread to use inside the state.  I learned that my nails weren't deep enough into the wood as I needed them to be.  Once I started stringing the orange a few of the nails that had a lot of pressure on them started to lean to one side.  I had to cut it all out and restart.  Another note, nailing into the paper leaves little paper scraps once you pull it away.  You can't really tell from far away or in the pictures, but I know they're there close up.  Next time I'll probably try pressing the outline into the wood and following that instead of using the paper.

I love the way it turned out, however next time I'll probably choose an easier center object - maybe a heart.  Maybe something else.  I'll give another one or two of these a shot.  It's a lot of fun and they are pretty unique pieces of art.

Any thoughts on what I should make next?  I have three more plaques at home.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chicago's best delivered to Atlanta

I'm nervous about some leftovers.  For example, I won't even touch microwaved seafood.  I can just picture myself in the bathroom throwing up 15 minutes after eating.  This is probably a crazy assumption because I've seen Stephen eat plenty of leftovers and he's never gotten sick from them, but I'm still scared.  Crazy.  Yes.

If I'm terrified of some leftovers, the thought of ordering food from a restaurant in Chicago and having it delivered in Atlanta sounds even more sketchy.  But that's just what happened to our friend, Rich.  I didn't ask if he ordered it or if it was ordered for him for his birthday, but he had Portillo's Italian Beef delivered right to his door.  Now you'll remember that I ate at Portillo's in June when I visited Chicago.  I LOVED it.  The Italian Beef was amazing.  When I heard that's what Rich was offering us for dinner last night, I jumped on it.

The package of food came frozen right to his door in a nice little package.  His package had enough food, everything he'd need, for 8 sandwiches.  We were skeptical at first because none of us are small eaters, but the package of 4 servings had enough for one serving when we were done eating, so they have this down just right.  Everything came packaged in serving sizes for 4 with very detailed instructions.  I found them on their website so you can see what I'm talking about.  But it told us exactly what we needed to do.  Rich headed the sauce, not to a boil!, heated the peppers, thawed the meat and shredded it and then warmed the bread.  We built our sandwiches and sat down to watch some Chicago Blackhawk hockey.  It was like we were in Chicago, but not.

I've never had food from another city delivered to my house, and technically this wasn't either, but I got to eat it and try this kind of delivery for the first time.  It was delicious.  I'd be willing to order it for some of my other Chicago born friends.  The Italian Beef Deluxe package is $69.95 on their website and for 8 servings, that's actually a great deal.  Click here to see the exact package that was delivered.

Source: Portillo's online store

It doesn't mention that you also get an authentic Portillo's hat with the package.  I wore it.  And loved it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Annie the Musical - Show Review

As a young girl, I think it's just part of growing up that you know and love the Annie soundtrack.  I didn't remember much about the musical except for the songs and the characters.  I even forgot there was a dog in the show!  I know I never saw the actual musical as a kid, I guess I only saw the movie once or twice.  I was much more interested in Disney movies - I grew up in Orlando, that was necessary.

When Stephen's mom said she had an extra ticket to the show I jumped at the chance to join her.  (I will admit, I thought Stephen would join us, but he passed.  I guess Annie isn't a great show for a 20-somthing male.)

The Fox Theater was swimming with kids dressed in their Sunday best.  It was great to see all the kids so dressed up and excited.  I wonder how many of them were visiting The Fox for their first time.  I'd bet that the adult to kid ratio was pretty even.

The young girl who plays Annie was great.  Her voice was amazing for such a young girl and at times I forgot she was a child actor.  There were times when I wished she had put more emotion into a few of her dance moves, but who am I kidding, there is no way I could remember all the lines and movements that she did, she had to be concentrating at some times.  Bravo!

The cast of orphans was HUGE with 6 other young girls as Annie's good friends.  There was a younger girl, she is 7, playing Molly and she absolutely stole the show.  She danced like she was at home putting on a show for her family and was so extremely excited about all of her lines.  It was obvious that the rest of the audience felt the same way.  I guess I just don't know what young kids can do, not having any of my own, but I was very impressed with the professionalism of all of the child actors.

I was surprised at the plot itself, I guess as a kid I never really picked up on the political aspects of the show or how much of an effect the Great Depression had on all the characters.  (See, it has been a LONG time since I saw the movie.)  But I was glad I didn't know the show from start to finish, I like being a little surprised in a show.

Miss Hannigan was played by Sally Struthers, best known for All in the Family for which she won two Emmys.  She was fabulous.  I'm not very familiar with her outside of knowing that All in the Family was on TV at one point and that I've heard her name here and there.  Regardless of how famous she is, it was great to see her get down and dirty with the kids and really throw herself into the choreography.

All in all the show was fabulous.  I highly recommend it to anyone with young girls, or those who are still young girls at heart.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

iPad 2 - Review

I've had my iPad 2 for a few weeks now and I realized that I haven't really commented on it.  But that's probably best because everyday I learn a little bit more about it and find something new that I enjoy.

This won't be a technical product review.  I'm not a technical person and I'll speak to what I know and makes sense to me.  And in my opinion, I don't think that everyone who uses an iPad is a technology nut, and if you are, there are far better review than the one you'll find below.

Okay, let's get started!  I wasn't in the market for an iPad, I have an iPhone and I was of the belief that an iPad was just a big iPhone that couldn't call anyone or text message.  I was surprised by my dad and step-mom with an iPad for Christmas, along with the rest of my siblings.  (I wish we had been recorded when we opened the gifts.  Five 20-something kids all yelling and excited in front of the Christmas tree doesn't happen too often.  The wine may have helped too.)  I didn't even have wi-fi at my house at that time.  I was beyond excited with the new gift, just not sure how often I'd be using it based on the other things I already owned.

Again, life proves me wrong.  I use my iPad all the time!  As a matter of fact I've had it with me basically everyday since Christmas.  So far I've used it for a few different purposes - I'll detail each of them with some things that I've found important.

1. Reading.  So far I've used my iPad the most when reading.  I absolutely love my Kindle but the iPad has replaced it recently because I am still getting it set up.  I love that the Kindle, my phone and the iPad all talk to one another so I can read the same book on all devices.  I will say, once I'm over the "newness" of the iPad and have it set up how I want it to be, I'll go back to carrying my Kindle with me in my purse. It's cheaper to replace and MUCH lighter.  I also think reading on the Kindle is easier on my eyes.

2. Email.  So much nicer to get my emails on the iPad with the larger screen than on my phone.  If I can read email on the iPad I'll do that over the phone anytime.  The keyboard is also easier to type on, obviously because it's larger.  On that note, I don't find it necessary to buy a keyboard for the iPad.  I'm not writing novels on the thing.

3. Apps.  Not all iPhone Apps are built to work on the iPad, they just show up smaller on the screen.  When I connected my iPad to iTunes for the first time and it loaded all my phone apps to the pad I had some problems with the downloads.  I had to delete a few of the apps and then re-download them on the iPad, even if they were still in iPhone mode.  Fixed now, but annoying at first.  I've found that I have a few of the same Apps on my phone and iPad (facebook, weather, wells fargo, delta, etc), but I've begun downloading apps just for the iPad, most of them drawing or photo editing so far.  There are so many apps out there, any suggestions to the 'must have apps' let me know!

4. Watching TV.  I haven't had much time to do this but I have downloaded the NBC and ABC apps and each of them give you access to their programming.  I watched part of a Modern Family episode and I can't wait to watch more.  The picture is so clear.

I haven't listened to music on the iPad yet, but I've loaded some of my music.  I also haven't used the iPad to take any pictures yet.  It seems a bit silly to use the iPad when I have my phone and an actual camera which are both smaller and easier to hold to take pictures.  I'll just do my editing on the iPad.

Lastly, let's talk about my case.  If you're still with me - thanks!  I wanted a case that would 100% protect my iPad and I wanted something that would display the screen vertically and horizontally - very important to me.  I like the Apple cases, but they lack the dual way display.  I went with a Targus case. It does exactly what I wanted it to and it allows for a full 360 degree rotation of the iPad.  It also has an elastic band that holds the cover in place which is nice when I put it in my giant purse.  I don't want my keys to slip in there and scratch anything.  Some reviewers I read before my purchase said the stand didn't display the iPad level, I think that was user error and/or not understanding that the case allows for a full 360 degrees... you have to put it in the right place to get it level.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Celebrate the 80's

It's 2012, that means I'm tuning 30.  Only a few months away.  Oh goodness.  This past weekend was one of my best friend's 30th birthdays.  At least I'm not first!  To celebrate her husband threw her a 80's themed birthday party.  Costumes were required unless you weren't born in the 80s.

Stephen and I went all out.  He went preppy, I went rocker.  Who knew I would find a RUN DMC shirt!  The pink is actually puff paint.

Crimped hair, pink fishnet stockings, scrunchies.

Me and 3 of the most special ladies ever.  Check out Whitney's pants - those were a Good Will find.  So amazing.

Of course there was beer pong...

And flip cup...  Just check out the outfits.  Enjoy.

She is too young to know about the 80s.  She was not amused.

DIY Jewelry Organizer

I have a lot of jewelry.  Not the fancy kind, but the fun, dress-up-a-boring-outfit jewelry most likely purchased at Anthropologie or somewhere similar.  I love big, bright necklaces.  My jewelry box I've had since high school hasn't been cutting it and the jewelry tree that I bought to help store my stuff was at capacity.

I turned to Pinterest to see what other DIY options were out there.  SO many to choose from!  I dare you to run the same search.  I found this blogpost and it was exactly what I wanted, but on a larger scale.  My friend and I dedicated all afternoon on Sunday to our craft.  Our first stop was to Anthropologie to get some of their gorgeous knobs and handles.  They have SO many to pull from, I could have spend hundreds of dollars.  We also bought some knobs and handles at Home Depot and Jess made a stop to World Market to get one or two as well.

Once we had our knobs we went to The Home Depot to get some plywood.  We bought a 2'x4' board and had them cut it in half for us so we're both working with a 2'x2' square.  We decided to cover the board with some thick, solid fabric and a decorative ribbon so we headed to Hancock Fabric and Michael's.  I went with a grey/lavender fabric and some yellow and black ribbon.

I borrowed Stephen's power tools for this project - a drill and a staple gun.  I was working faster than Jess so I made a few mistakes that she was able to learn from along the way.

Construction Steps:
  1. Layout all of your handles and knobs on the board.  TAKE A PICTURE OF THEM so you know how they should lay out once you move them to start drilling your holes.  I recommend spacing them out so your long necklaces can hang and have space.  Also, on the back of the board, mark what side is the TOP. 
  2. Measure the holes precisely for your handles.  They were by far the hardest to put into the board once the fabric was in place.  
  3. Once everything is marked on the board, start drilling your holes.  (you'll see in the photo that it can look like a big mess if you don't label them!)
  4. Cover the board with the fabric using the staple gun.  Start with the top, staple it down, then go to the bottom and staple that side down, pulling tight.  Then go to the sides.  Don't trim the fabric until everything is stapled in place.  (I used one yard of fabric to cover my board.
  5. This is where it gets tricky.  You'll have to mark the holes you made on the fabric so you can push through the knobs/screws.  I made marks with a Sharpie, Jess just pushed through a small screw driver from the back of the board through the front, through the fabric.  I recommend her technique.  
  1. Then it's time to start screwing in your knobs and handles.  

This is what my Jewelry Organizer looks like with all the knobs and handles in place!  The handles will be used to hold earrings and the knobs will hold my necklaces and bracelets.  The upside-down drawer pulls are perfect holders for small earrings and rings, top left.  

I still need to glue gun (a new Christmas present from my sister!) the remaining fabric to the back of the board so it stays in place and add a picture frame hanger to the back of the board so I can hang it from the wall.  It's pretty heavy as it is and will only get heavier as I add stuff to it.  To prevent the screws from scratching the wall when it's hanging I'm going to cover them with my remaining fabric or some styrofoam.  

The last step will be to add the ribbon to the top for decoration.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Calendar.... to Wall Decor

I hate blank walls.  They bother me.  A blank wall is yelling out to me, "fill my empty space!" and "you aren't creative enough to put something on the wall!"  Empty walls taunt me.

Above our couch we have a big, open wall.  I'd temporarily filled it with some paintings I'd done at Sips N Stokes, but they aren't big enough for the space and they aren't even framed yet.  They weren't working for me.

A year ago I bought a calendar of vintage travel posters with the plan that after the year was over, I'd cut out the pictures, frame them and make a collage on the wall.  That's right, I planned a year in advance.  And as fate would have it, I was planning months before I even met Stephen.

So that's what I did.  I picked my favorite posters, cut them out and put them in some cheap frames I found on super sale at an art supply store.  They look amazing.  

Stephen was great enough to hang them above the couch for me.  I'm so glad he did.  I would have spent 20 minutes measuring and adjusting and stressing out and he had them up in 5 minutes and they look perfect.  Exactly what I had in mind.  Now for some reason, I can't find the picture I took of them up on the wall.  

I have 4 pictures, all in 11 x 14 frames.  They are in a horizontal diamond, centered on the wall.  It was so easy to do and I still have 8 months remaining, I might try to find other, black frames (not matching) to fit the other pictures and add them to the wall.  We definitely have the space.  Such an easy project and they create such a focal point in the living room opposite the TV.  

UPDATE:  It took us a few months, but we bought a few more frames and also found a fun group of small, Italy pictures that we also added to the wall.  Here is the wall as it is now - before we leveled out all the pictures.  We were just so excited to take a picture!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

5..4..3..2..1..Happy New Year, San Diego!

One of my very closest and dearest friends, Lindsay, planned her wedding for New Year's Eve in San Diego.  There was no way I was going to miss that wedding or the party that I knew would follow.  For those following along in December I went to Las Vegas, Orlando and now San Diego. That's the right way to finish 2011 if you ask me.

This was Stephen's first trip to SD.  I'd been a few times but there was still so much to see!  We were staying at the Holiday Inn, Downtown San Diego.  Not to be confused with the other Holiday Inn just  a few blocks closer to the bay.  The hotel had just been updated, but it is still a Holiday Inn.  There isn't a bar and there isn't a restaurant, but it's in a nice, central location and you can get most places.  The hotel shuttle was great and took us to quite a few places on our trip.

We arrived in San Diego at 9:30pm and immediately headed out to the bar, Princess Pub, to meet up with everyone after checking in to the hotel.  It is a cute little English pub in the heart of Little Italy.  Doesn't make perfect sense, but the place was great.  Apparently there are some new vodkas out there, flavored vodkas.  I know what you're saying, flavored vodka has been around for a long time, but not CAKE flavored vodka.  It tastes exactly how it should - like a birthday cake.  Cake vodka and some sprite = the easiest drink in the world.  Try it, but be careful, they go down super easy.

The following day we had all day to sight see and play tourist.  Planner-extraordinaire, Jenn, heard of GoCar Tours and we quickly signed up.   We booked a couple hours for Friday morning and chose to the do the Point Loma tour of San Diego.  Looking back, I wish we had time to do the Downtown tour too.  They were so much fun!  Yes, they look ridiculous and they are.  Yes, they are tiny.  Yes, they drive like a motorcycle.  BUT they also have a GPS system that takes you on a guided tour with info along the way.  The directions were easy to follow and we learned a lot along our trip.

The cars can only go 30 mph so you have to be aware of the other cars around you, but driving on the roads was never an issue.  

This was our first stop, a park overlooking downtown San Diego.  Amazing view.  We were dealing with a little fog that morning, but downtown is definitely still visible.

We took the tour all the way out to Point Loma and stopped in a bunch of places.  That was the beauty of the GoCars, you could stop where you wanted to and take as much time as you wanted to along the way.  The first, panoramic picture at the top of the post is the view of the bay from the lighthouse on Point Loma.  The cliffs in Ocean Beach were also a long stop for us.  Just breathtaking.  Not pictured are the crazy, hippie chicks who jumped off the cliff just to my right in this picture.  You couldn't have paid me to do that!  The water was freezing, the waves were crashing in and to get back out of the water they had to climb a rock wall covered in wet moss.  No thanks.

The GoCars were the best possible decision we could have made that day.  I took a TON of pictures and we laughed the entire time.  You have to wear helmets while in the GoCar and you're in such a tiny vehicle there is no way you can't enjoy yourself.

After the GoCar tour we stopped for lunch at Filippi's Pizza Grotto.  It was recommended to us by the GoCar people and they even drove us to the restaurant since we didn't have a car.  Added bonus!  There was a pretty long wait to get in to Filippi's for 2:00 on a Friday, but it was worth it.  The pizza was amazing (even the next day, according to Stephen) and the wine was strong.

If you order a bottle of the chianti you get to write on the bottle and they hang them around the dining area of the restaurant.  Now, I'll have no way of knowing if they really do or how often they change out the bottles, but it was delicious.  

After lunch, off to the USS Midway.  The ship has been docked in San Diego for years and was decommissioned in 1992.  It was involved in the first Persian Gulf War.  We were lucky enough to have along with us a friend of mine from high school and one of his co-workers, who both fly Ospreys for the USMC.  They had inside knowledge of aircraft and what it was like to live on an aircraft carrier for a couple of months.  We only had an hour on the ship, but it was plenty of time to walk around and look at all of the parts of the museum.  We didn't get to see everything offered because it was closing time, but I think we got a good feel for the ship.  We were also able to see our first west coast sunset from the flight deck.  

Once it was dark it was off to dinner with more friends and out to a couple of bars in Pacific Beach and we called it an early night around 11pm.  It was nice to hang out with a few locals.

Saturday morning we woke up to another beautiful day and we took a ferry across the water to Coronado.  I have a friend who used to live on the "island" and knew it was going to be a must see for Stephen.  The town of Coronado isn't big so we rented bicycles and hit the road.

Along the way we saw all of the beautiful houses on Coronado and the gorgeous views of San Diego.  We stopped our bike trip once to just look at the Pacific Ocean and then again at the Hotel del Coronado.  The hotel was built in 1888!  If you're in San Diego and you don't take a trip across the bay to see this hotel, you're missing out.  We stopped at the hotel to walk around and have a drink out on the sun deck that overlooks the beach.  What we didn't expect to see was an ice skating rink!  Outdoors in San Diego - who would have thought that was possible!?!  

Ice skating and palm trees - never thought you'd see that did ya?  

Back on the bikes we continued our tour of the city and found my favorite little spot.  The little park, I'm not even sure it has a name is the size of a house's lot and it has the most perfect view of downtown San Diego.  We stopped for a few minutest to take it all in and even witnessed the first of our 2 weddings that trip!

Back on the ferry, back to San Diego to get ready for the night ahead of us - the wedding!

I don't have too many pictures from the wedding but don't worry - the bride was beautiful, the groom as happy as could be and the party was what it should have been for a New Years Eve wedding.  The ceremony and reception took place in Balboa Park at the Hall of Champions Museum.  

It was such a special night for the bride and groom and such a fantastic night for me to spend with so many great friends.  And who wouldn't love to wear a sequins dress!  

Happy New Year!!

I finally caught a bouquet!  I guess that means I'm next :)