Friday, October 29, 2010

I miss her

Some people touch your life so much that when they are gone, you still feel they are still near...
I want to take this opportunity to dedicate my post today to my wonderful Grandma.  See, her birthday was actually on Halloween.  In fact, the month of October is actually a month that brings lots of memories of my Grandma.  She was born on October 31, was married on October 24, had my mother on October 14, and she passed away 10 years ago on October 17.  It's hard not to think of her this time of year.
Last year, when T and I were getting pictures together for our slide show for the wedding, my mom had given me a large photo album with all sorts of pictures from my childhood.  One picture (this one) I used as a bookmark for my reading because I loved it so much.  One night, I was reading in bed while T was getting ready to turn in for the night, I came across the picture.  And, out of the blue, I started crying and couldn't stop. I sat there looking at it, examining it closely, looking at the happy faces my brother and sister and I had, as well as the smile on my Grandma's face.  (I'm the one to her left, if you didn't already know, with the huge cheesy smile.)  I remember that day.  I couldn't have been more than seven or eight in that picture, maybe younger. She and my Grandpa had come down to Alabama for the weekend to celebrate my Grandma's birthday.  We had hit the mall earlier that day, and I absolutely had to get her a present.  I had no money, but I wanted it to come from me. 

I knew she collected items with geese on them.  She had one of those geese that you put on your front porch and dressed up in different seasonal outfits.  (I was always so excited to see what the goose would be wearing when we came over for a visit.)  Even when she was in the final stages of her cancer, she still changed that goose for the seasons or at least had my mom do it.  So imagine my happiness when I was at the dollar store and found the perfect little goose figurine to put in her miniature display box she had in her kitchen.  It was only $1, which was great because that was exactly how much my allowance was!  I made my mom take my Grandma out of the store and proudly bought the item to surprise her later.  I even wrapped the little thing up.  I was so excited for her to open it and see what I got her.  And, if I remember correctly, she had that little goose up in her kitchen until my Grandpa moved out of the house years after she passed. 

I loved her so much.  She was the matriarch of our family, the glue that held us all together.  Family events were always huge and full of amazing food, thanks to her.  I don't think I have a single bad memory from family get togethers at her house.   I was a sophomore in college when she passed away from cancer.  She fought the fight, but she couldn't conquer the disease.  It was a heartbreaking loss for all of us.  I still can't believe that it has been ten years now that she has been gone.  It feels just like yesterday. 

One of the bittersweet parts of our wedding day was remembering people who couldn't have been with us that day.  T is lucky in that he has most of his grandparents, but I just have my Grandpa left.  He means the world to me.  I know he misses my Grandma every day, though, and it breaks my heart.  We had a candle on the altar lit in memory of my Grandma, as well as Tim's Grandpa Lou, my Grandma on my Dad's side, and my Aunt Linda.  I also carried a hankerchief from each of my grandmothers in my bouquet in memory of them.  But it would have meant the world to me to have her sitting out there with the rest of my family.  She would have loved T. 

Looking at that little girl in that picture, it makes me sad to think that I had no idea that someday she would be gone.  Back then, I didn't know the realities of life and death.  I didn't think that I wouldn't have my Grandma there with me.  I lived in the moment.  I remember how it was just the coolest thing ever that my Grandma came to visit us, and we had so much fun that weekend.  In that moment I was truly happy.  And I cherish those moments forever and always will.  I look at that picture, and I feel so blessed and lucky that I had this amazing woman in my life. 

I miss her every day.  I don't think that part ever gets easier.  But I know she's in my heart and I know she's watching over me.  I know that even though she wasn't personally at my wedding, she was there. 

So on this Halloween, I want to say this...Happy birthday, Grandma.  I love you and always will.

 
 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick or treat, smell my feet...

The topic of this week's Spin Cycle, brought to you by Sprite's Keeper is Halloween.  A holiday dedicated to candy...how can you go wrong with that?  Seriously, though...I do love Halloween.  It's not my absolute favorite holiday, but I still enjoy it nonetheless.  How could you not? 
As a kid, deciding on what I would be for Halloween was always a big process.  We had a big trash bag full of old Halloween costumes that my parents kept in their bedroom closet, and we would try to recycle costumes as best as humanly possible but still create something new and different from the previous year.  I could totally embarrass my brother here and talk about some of the costumes he had as a kid, because trust me, they were pretty dorky, but I won't.   I am trying to remember some of my better ones...I do remember that one year when I won a ribbon at our school's Halloween party for my fairy godmother costume.  One year I dressed up like an 80s rock star with fish net stockings, pink hair and all, and looking back, I think "why did my parents let me dress like this?"  If I wore it now at my age I would just look like a prostitute, but I was 9, so it wasn't like that.  But the majority of our Halloween costumes would be either handmade by my mother or would be parts of an old costume that were passed down from my previous siblings.  Not the costume stuff that you see at the store now.  Nope, we were creative.  And cheap, but hey, it worked!
Now that I'm older and it would honestly be creepy for me to go trick-or-treating by myself (sans child, of course), so I live vicariously through my nieces and nephews.  My youngest niece, Roo, still lets me go out with her and actually gets excited about it.  (My older nieces and nephews are getting to the point where their Aunt Nain might embarrass them in front of their friends...)  So we'll be going out with my sister and Roo, who will be dressed up as Hello Kitty this year.  Last year she was a bride (isn't that the cutest thing ever?)  I always love going out with her because I can get her to pick my favorite candy from a few houses.  It's usually the Junior Mints, but I like to get the Reeses Cups for T, too. 
Someday we'll have chillun' of our own, and we'll get to dress them up and go out trick-or-treating all over again...like somehow things come full circle, you know? 
Stop by Sprite's Keeper and see what other Halloween tales people have to share.  And what about you?  What was your favorite costume?  What are your kiddos dressing up as this year?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Here are a few more wedding pictures for your viewing pleasure for this Wednesday's Wordless Wednesday...
 
My niece and the wedding cake...


 This was harder than it looks...and check out the blue shoes!
 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Who? Who? Who? HOOSIERS!

This weekend I will be exposing T to a whole new world, a world of Hoosier football.  Yes, IU football tends to suck, and we haven't won a bowl game since the mid 70s, but that's not why I go.  I go for the school spirit, the festivities, the revelry.  I go for the atmosphere.  T has never been to a college football game before, so I'm choosing to break him in with a nice tailgate experience and game at my Alma mater.  We're playing Northwestern, so the game is bound to be good.  Of course, considering my school is last in the Big Ten, it's doubtful we'll win, but I don't care.  I'm just looking forward to enjoying a lovely fall day with my husband, two of my good friends, and everyone else and their second cousin at IU. 
I'm kind of stoked, too, because the tickets my friend found for us are part of a package deal.  We get crappy seats, yes, but we get free hot dogs, popcorn and a soda...and all for $20 per person!  When she emailed me at work, asking if that was OK instead of more expensive seats with a better view, I said "Honey, you had me at free hot dog."  I don't pass up free stuff, folks, and when you go to a school where the football team could be beaten by a decent high school team, you take what you can get. 
So that's what I'm looking forward to this week.  It'll make the week go by maybe just a smidge faster.  I better use this time to freshen up on my IU cheers. 

Who? Who?  Who?  HOOSIERS!

Because going to an IU game is a treasure (and spending the day at an IU game with me, too), I'm linking this post up with Chantel's Small Treasure Tuesdays - check out what other treasures people have to share this week!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oil and water

T and I are kind of opposites.  We compliment each other well, but I do think there have to be times when he looks at me, scratches his head and goes how does she manage to get by like this?  Case in point...organization.  We differ on this issue sooo much.  T is the most organized person I have ever met.  One of the things that really impressed me about him when we first started dating, and I first saw his apartment was how clean and organized it was.  Seriously.  Even the way he folds his clothes is perfect.  Me, I have a dresser where I just sort of throw my t-shirts into it and close the door before they all come tumbling out. 

Our desks are miles apart in organization as well.  I have stacks of random pieces of paper everywhere, and I just keep adding to it.  I'm a step away from being a hoarder, I'm afraid....the only thing that separates me from those I watch on TLC is that I do reach a point where I say "enough is enough" and I break down and clean the mess.
Here's my idea of "filing."  T and I have separate filing cabinets, and mine is crammed full of paperwork.  Yes, I have separate files to put paperwork in, and they are labeled...however those labels are old, and the names of utility companies on them are the ones I used in law school.  I know in my mind what they are, and I know where to put certain bills.  However, if you weren't me, you'd have no idea where things were.  And I don't have enough to go around.  One folder is just full of utility bills - gas, electric, water, etc., and it's labeled "REMC."  Do we use REMC?  No.  Are all of those bills the same company, deserving the same folder?  No.  And how old are the bills in there?  Um, maybe 2 years old.  And are they in chronological order?  No. 

Now that T and I are married, and our finances are joint, I am handing this job to him.  I feel I have no choice.  Hell, it wasn't but three years ago when I first started balancing my checkbook.  (See, I had this fine-tuned system of just checking the account online in the morning and getting a ballpark figure of how much was in there.  It is what it is, I guess.)  We have yet to go through my hot mess of a filing cabinet, and I just know that T and I are going to have to sit down and do that sooner than later.  We might need some alcoholic beverages to get through it, or at least T might need some beverages to get through it.   It should be interesting.

They say opposites attract, and I suppose that saying is definitely true with us.  It's why we work so well, what can I say?  And who knows?  Maybe his organization will rub off on me....


 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Then and now

 

This week's Spin Cycle, brought to you by Jen at Sprite's Keeper is on then and now.    I have to
 admit, I had a hard time thinking of a good then and now topic.   So much to choose from, so much to choose...so I decided to talk about a subject I once hated but love and actually claim as a hobby.  Cooking. 
I love to cook now.  I love to experiment in the kitchen and try new recipes.  How bad was I?  Oh, you are talking to the girl who, in her freshman year of college took three failed attempts at making Easy Mac before I got it right.  You're talking to that same girl who actually nuked a bag of popcorn for too long that I set the bag on fire.  (Note, this was all in the same dorm room in the same month)  Yes, I am the same girl who tried making Hamburger Helper, but the liquid didn't absorb so I had to drain out the sauce and just eat ground beef and noodles.  It was as disgusting as it sounds, yes.  I didn't like to waste food, what can I say?  I seem to recall an incident where I thought I was going to make skillet potatoes, but I didn't realize you needed to boil the potatoes before cooking them or else you couldn't chew them very well.  Or the homemade chicken noodle soup I tried to make with microwave ramen and canned chicken.  I could go on and on for days here, folks....
I'm not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the road I actually got the hang of it.  It took some time, it took some effort, and it took a hell of a lot of disgusting meals, but it happened.  Now I'm a regular Martha freaking Stewart.  Take the other day, for instance, I was working from home so I had time on my hands to make a decent meal at home.  I decided to make homemade applesauce in the crockpot, rosemary and lemon roasted chicken, and rice.  With a recipe?  No, I just did it myself, and it was awesome.  T's favorite meal is my baked spaghetti, a recipe that I've come up with completely myself and completely from scratch.  I get excited about getting a new recipe or cookbook.  I love all of the new kitchen gadgets we got from the wedding.  I find myself sharing recipes with my mother and not the other way around.  What the hell?  Who is this person I have become? 
It might only be a difference of ten years or so, but man, it is a change!  So that's cooking with Nain....then....and now.  Stop by Sprite's Keeper and check out some of the other then and now spins

 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

As good as it gets...

I have a confession to make.   I'm afraid I'm not giving you my 100% this week, my blog friends.  Actually, I know I'm not, but I have my reasons.  The migraine did give way this morning, but I'm now left with the feeling of pure exhaustion.  Combine that with too much to do at work, and I'm half tempted to hide under my ginormous desk rocking back and forth in the fetal position chewing on my hair. However, I have come to work today with reinforcements.  Those reinforcements come in the form of Dove chocolate promises.  (These things are amazing!)  As I nibble on my little pieces of chocolaty goodness, the best I can give all of you today are a few random updates in the world of Nain and T.  So without further ado....
 
My new computer is off and running.  We had a little bit of trouble in getting the computer to connect to our at-home wireless router, but because T is so amazing and technologically savvy, it is now fixed and working.  And it's a beautiful thing, a truly beautiful thing. I can now leave my state-issued computer, which weighs about 10 lbs in its carrying bag, is slower than Moses, and has a green vertical line that is permanently placed in the left part of the screen, at work.  My back thanks me.  My eye sight thanks me, and so does my sanity. 
 
One of my Dove chocolate promises I just ate had a saying  on the wrapper I just read that I must share with you:  "Here's to something more powerful than chocolate...Hope."  I'm sorry, but there isn't anything more powerful than chocolate.  Maybe caffeine, but that's even a stretch.  Sorry, Dove, you're off the mark with that one.  I'm going to put that one in the same category as "Have a happy period" statements on Always pads.  (Every time I open one of those and read that, I say "screw you" to whoever came up with that statement.) 
 
Speaking of new things, we get a couch this weekend.  A brand new couch.  See, when we moved in together, we got my old P.O.S. couch and T's love seat and chair.  My couch is older than I am and was given to me for free by my parent's neighbor, and T's stuff is in perfect condition and relatively new.  T was hesitant to spend the money to get said couch, until I pointed out the piece of metal sticking out the back of the couch, and he finally caved.  We were able to pay it off in full with wedding money, and it's being delivered on Saturday.  The question now is what to do with the old couch.  Obviously it's going to be donated somewhere, but neither of us has a truck.  That leaves us to contacting some place to pick it up.  These places need 2 week notices to get furniture.  We don't have a ton of extra room to just keep a full sized couch, so we might have to just set this puppy on the curb sometime, which will really make us look classy.  I might have T go out there and sit on the couch with a can of PBR to add to the class appeal.  And put the thing on the porch and not the curb.  Add a wife beater to that.  Hot, isn't it?  So anyone want an old couch?  Just make sure you're current on your tetanus booster before you come get it. 
 
I am selling Mary Kay.   Yep, I am.  In addition to other ventures I am checking out to help around the house with income, I will be selling Mary Kay part time.  I don't have a link up here yet to take orders, but if you are interested, let me know.  I'm going to try to add that link shortly, but I can email you the link if you love Mary Kay products and need a dealer.  Because then I'm your girl.  I love the stuff myself, so it just seems natural that now I'll be selling it.  Stay tuned for a Mary Kay giveaway in the future for all of my readers. 
 
OK, that's all the random I have in me for this afternoon...until next time! 
 
 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

You lucky people, you...you get two posts in one day...in participating with Wordless Wednesday, enjoy these 2 photos we just got from our wedding photographer!


Have you seen it?

My motivation, that is.  Have you?  Because I sure could use it this week.  My blog friends, you dear Nain is a big incapacitated this week.  I'm at a loss for really interesting blog posts, because, well, a migraine has taken over my body and mind and has me down for the count this week.  Let me just say that I despise migraines.  I hate them with a passion.  I have gotten them since high school, and they range from the ones where medicine will take care of the pain to the ones where no amount of drugs will subside the throbbing in my temples, which leaves me huddled in the fetal position on the couch, lights off, TV turned down, and heating pad on.  That was me last night.  I took Advil, I took my migraine medicine and lastly, I took Excedrin PM to knock me out.  I thought said headache had subsided, until I got in the car and started driving to work.  Then the throbbing began again, and it hasn't left. 

I wish I could entertain with you with some kind of interesting story or beautiful prose, but no, my head won't let me do that today.  In fact, it won't let me look at the computer screen for too long because of the brightness and glare.  I promise to be back tomorrow with a better attitude and much brighter outlook on life, as well as hopefully a good post.  For now, I will leave you with a game of "I'd rather..."  Things I'd rather do than have this headache...

I'd rather be stuck in rush hour traffic than be here with this headache...

I'd rather have my teeth cleaned by my dentist as I'm simultaneously going through a gynecological exam than have this headache...

I'd rather have nails driven into my hands than have this headache...

I'd rather be forced to watch The View nonstop for 24 hours than have this headache...

I'd rather be stuck in an all day termination trial than be saddled with this headache...

What would your "I'd rather.." things be? 





Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Small Treasure Tuesdays


It’s Tuesday! Time to talk about our small treasures with Chantel! And, while I already talked about this last week, I’m so stoked about it that it needs to be talked about again…

My laptop came here yesterday! Yes!!!! (Happy dance)

It’s a Lenovo Idea Pad. (I’m writing this on the couch in the living room asking T, who is working on it in the other room what the model is…so there you have it folks, it’s a Lenovo Idea Pad…sounds cool, right?)

I’m so stoked…now I’ll get to open up newer Microsoft Word documents and actually share with my critique group, who, I am sorry to say I’m behind in getting you my chapters this week…doh!

It has a built in Web cam, so I can Skype! (Is that how you spell it? I don’t care because I’m so excited to try it!)

It has the updated version of Internet Explorer. Updated Windows…everything is brand spanking new.

So I’m very happy about my treasure – thank you, T, for my early birthday gift! I love it! 

Go stop by Chantel's blog and see what other small treasures people are sharing this week.



Monday, October 18, 2010

One month...

One month down, folks. We have been married one month as of today. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a month because to me, it feels like just yesterday we were standing on that altar. So one month in….what better time than to renew our vows? I mean, it’s been a month, right?

We did exactly that this last weekend. Our sponsor couple invited us to this event put on by the marriage ministry through our church. It was called a “Night of Romance.” We figured, sure, why not? It’s basically a wedding reception thrown by this group at our church where you have dinner, dancing, door prizes and renewing your vows. A wedding reception, but without all the stress. We really liked working with our sponsor couple, so we were more than honored when they invited us to be their guests.

We weren’t disappointed. Stepping into the parish life center, we were stopped to take our picture, just like at prom. Stepping into the gym, we were taken back to a mix of our wedding reception and our high school prom. I joked that we could relive our proms and be each other’s dates since we didn’t know each other back then. (Honestly, I would have preferred T be my date anyway.)

Dinner was great, and shortly after we finished dessert, the priests at our church called us all to the floor if we wanted to renew our vows. Of course we did, and as we walked to the gym floor, the priest who married us jokingly called us out saying “hey, you haven’t been married but a month! You can’t do this yet!” (This is the same priest who when we saw him five months earlier walking out of mass, he was holding a baby and said “hey, I got one of these before you did!” Keeping in mind this was the priest who during our ceremony said we would have 13 kids…)

Renewing our vows, I was brought back to that day on September 18th. Staring into T’s eyes, I felt the same rush of love, and I’ll admit, I teared up a bit. However I wanted to add a few things in there for that one month of marriage…

“I take you as my husband. I promise to love you in good times and in bad, sickness and in health, for better or for worse…I promise to be there with you when both of our cars die and we need to shell out $1,000 in repairs, when our jobs cause us stress, when our families cause us stress, I promise to hold your hand when you get a flu shot if you’ll hold mine, to always laugh and try to burp louder than you when you burp at the dinner table…I promise to be your best friend and your biggest fan, your strongest supporter…”

It’s crazy that it’s only been a month, but so much has changed since then, too, and man, it’s only been a month! Watching couples who have been married for 40 years dance to their wedding song, I was trying to picture us, 40 years down the road, still so in love, dancing to our song and celebrating our marriage.

While we were dancing to our song, I looked deeply into T’s eyes and saw myself in them. Giving him a kiss, I said “I’d do it all over again.” And I would, and that feeling…that will never change.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A little girl with a lot of heart

I think I have made my penchant for The Today Show clear before, especially my admiration of the wonderful Mr. Matt Lauer, so it should come as no surprise to any of you that I have The Today Show on in the background as I get ready every morning. Usually, I listen to stories about crime and wars going on in our country and other countries, tales of economic downfall, and of course, politics. However, yesterday morning, I was pleased to hear an actually uplifting story and one that brightened my morning before I left the house. It was a story about a young artist, Autumn de Forest, and her love of art and painting.

I encourage you to go to The Today Show’s site and read the interview and watch the video from the show because this girl is truly an inspiration. This young girl is doing what all of us really want to do. She is following her passion and throwing herself completely into something she loves. It happens to be something she is quite good at as well, as her paintings have sold for up to $250,000 at art auctions. These paintings you have to check out for yourself, because they truly are amazing.

What impressed me even more is that this nine year old girl has a good head on her shoulders and is extremely humble. When asked by Matt what she would use money from her paintings for she said this: “I love my paintings, but I’m not the bragger of my paintings,” she said. “If someone is going to pay a huge amount of money to buy my painting and if they know I’m going to spend it to buy a bunch of Barbie dolls, they know you’re going to waste your money on something not important. But people know the money is going into my education, maybe even art school.”

I don’t know about all of you readers out there, but I find as an adult, we are oftentimes so pressured to work hard to make ends meet at our jobs that we forget our passions and forget to do what it is that we love. We get up in the morning, go to work and work all day, and then crash when we get home. We either don’t have time for hobbies, or we don’t think we can do it anymore because so much time has passed since when we did them. This happened to me pretty quickly after law school, and it’s a problem I’m trying to fix.

For those of you who have seen the movie Mr. Deeds, in the end of the movie, when making a huge speech to sway shareholders not to sell the company, the main character “Deeds” asks individual shareholders what it is they wanted to be when they grew up. He got answers like a doctor, a firefighter, a clown, etc., and these people realized that they had lost sight that life is not just a struggle to make money and become richer. Life is about doing what you love and what makes you happy.

I realize this girl is only nine, and her life will change drastically as the years go by, I’m sure. I know that I am not the same little girl I was when I was that age, but I also wasn’t as motivated and focused as Autumn. My hope for her is that she keeps this passion alive and doesn’t let life or others get in her way. I hope that she continues to do what she loves just because she loves it, not because it will make her more money.

When asked how often she paints, Autumn said this: “I do it every day. I try to do as much as I can…I do my best.”

Passion is one of the reasons why I have gotten back to writing. Sure, I’m not making any money from it right now, and yes, while it would be great in the future, I don’t want money to be the only reason why I do it. I want to keep writing because I love to write, because it’s something that makes me happy every day. That’s all any of us could ask for.

I hope that you all can be as inspired as I was by this young girl and her immense talent.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Patience, grasshopper...

Today's post is a hard one for me to write.  Yesterday, I found myself very frustrated and down as I came home from work.  Because of privacy issues, I won't go into details, but let's just say both T and I are frustrated at two equally difficult things right now.  Have you ever known exactly what you want but not have a clue how to get it?  That's the predicament where both of us are in right now.  Neither of us are patient people either.  We want change, and we want it to be immediate.  (And no, this is not about our marriage for those of you who are reading this and going "um...are you guys OK?"  Because we are.  No worries.  We couldn't be happier.  This involves something different.) 
Both of us are very driven people.  Its why we went for the professions we chose, the legal profession and engineering.  We both knew what we wanted, and we both worked our butts off to get it.  However things do change.  Circumstances happen, and what you thought you wanted at the beginning is not what you want in the end.  You see the goal in sight, you know what it is, but you cannot achieve it.  Or, at least you can achieve it, but you have to be patient and work slowly at it in order to achieve it.  Let me be clear.  I'm not the tortoise,  folks.  I'm more like the hare.  Slow and patient is not my style.  For example, when we went to get a couch this last weekend, we looked for a matter of 30 minutes before I said "yep, this is it."  I knew what I wanted, and walking around I quickly narrowed down the choices I didn't want until I made my decision.  Did I want to shop around?  Heck no.  Why would I when I found the perfect fit?  I'm like that with a lot of things in life.  (It has its advantages, but it has its disadvantages, too.)
It's equally as frustrating for me when I see something not-so-great and unfair happening to someone I love, but I can't do a thing about it.  That's what's going on with T right now.  I'm pretty protective, so of course, the second I see him in trouble, I want to hurt the person causing said trouble and fix the problem.  It's how I roll. However, life isn't like that.  It's the whole "being patient" part that I have to remind myself to do.  Patience, grasshopper, patience.  However, that doesn't mean I can't get frustrated.
I know I'm being incredibly vague, and for that, I apologize.  I guess I needed to vent and get it out there.  Last evening my mind was a mess of confusion, frustration and worry, and unfortunately nothing I was going to do that night was going to fix it.  Don't think I didn't try to think of solutions in my head on how to fix it.  I did that, but nope, just time and patience and hard work would take care of the problem.  That and a little faith and prayer, too. 
....I just wish I were the patient type. 

However, because I don't like to end things on a negative note, one of the fabulous ladies from my crit group, Gabriela Lessa, asked me to do a guest post for Women's Fiction Month on her blog, so stop by and check it out and also read some of the other awesome interviews she has gotten so far this month.  I truly feel honored to be a part of such a great group!


 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Small Treasure Tuesdays (on Wednesday)

Because I’m a state employee, I got the lucky pleasure of having Monday off of work in recognition of Columbus Day. It was fabulous. I got to spend the day catching up on some of my writing, doing a freelance article and three chapters in my manuscript. However, the problem with getting a Monday off is that it totally throws you off the rest of the week. I completely forgot yesterday was Tuesday, which meant I forgot about Chantel’s Small Treasure Tuesdays! What kind of blogger friend am I? A neglectful one, let me tell you…


Anyway, better late than never, I will share my small treasures for the week with all of you this fine Wednesday. Aside from the fun I had on Monday getting to write all day and focus on nothing else, which is in and of itself a treasure, I am also making one huge step towards being able to write more often and easily. This last week T and I made the decision to buy me a laptop. I have a state-issued one for work purposes only and a desktop Dell that I have had since I was in law school which was like 2005, so it’s been more than enough time for a new computer. I feel bad because when our critique group sends out copies of our manuscripts, I can’t really make the edits directly on their file because, well, I can’t open their files. The version of Microsoft Word everyone uses is too new for my poor little computer. It’s truly sad. I have to forward all of their emails to T, who prints them off for me at work on his computer. That, and my version of Internet Explorer on my computer is so outdated, it won’t let me comment on certain blogs and won’t display mine properly (the sidebar is all down at the bottom and not on the same page as a post).

So, I have a new Lenovo laptop coming my way as an early Christmas present! Yes! Today I had to go to UPS to pick up the first piece of my package, the Microsoft Key card. I guess they are shipping the items in separate shipments that require adult signatures, so I have to go pick them up as they are received. I’m super excited to get my new computer because I really think this will help me in my next step as a writer. So that’s my small treasure for this week….stop by Chantel’s blog to see other Small Treasures for the week!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A little close to home

I am proud to say that I am now 29,000 words (give or take a few) into my first manuscript. I’ve put off writing for years until this last year, about a few months ago, when I decided “what the hell?” So I did it. Is it good? I hope so. Is it ready to be published? Not by any means.

I am part of a group of several very talented women writers, and we rotate sending out parts of our manuscripts on a weekly basis. My first critique was while I was in Ireland, so of course, I was anxious to see what they all had to say.  When I did see their critiques, I could not have been more excited. See, I am a newbie to this whole writing thing. Sure, I write legal briefs and have written articles for newspapers and such, but creative writing? I’m still really new to this. In fact, I believe I’m the newbie of the group, which is okay by me so long as these ladies keep putting up with me.

I have alluded to this in previous posts, but my book is loosely based off of real life and things that have happened to me. They say you write what you know, and for years, I have been saying “man, I have enough material to write a whole series!” It’s been actually surprisingly therapeutic to write about some of these situations and circumstances that happened to me, but at the same time, it’s been quite difficult. Many of the stories I have been writing are things that I have not even spoken about to those who are the closest to me. This specific book is about a period of my life that was particularly hard, except in this book, I am writing about what I wish had happened, what I wish I had done. That doesn’t make it any easier, though.

Yesterday, as I was working on my manuscript, since I’m a state employee and lucky me, I got the day off, I started thinking about what others would think as they read my book. I mean, I’m not too scared about what complete strangers think of it, but what about people who know me in real life?

I have started off slowly with this. I have to admit, most of my family and friends don’t even know I’m writing a book. Hell, they don’t even know I have a blog. It isn’t I am not proud of it. I’m just afraid of what people will say if I let them in on these new developments in my world. And with my book, I’m a little scared of letting people see the side of me that I tried to hide for so long. I’ll admit, some of what I have opened up to in this book is dark, it isn’t pretty, but it’s me. However, I have a story to tell, and I’m going to keep up with it.

Thank you to my lovely critique girls for all of your helpful criticism. I appreciate it more than you should know!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Things are a’changing. I knew it was going to happen, but that doesn’t make things feel any less weird. Well, not weird in a bad weird, but weird in a “I am going to have to get used to this” kind of weird. I’m a married lady now. When I talk about T, I refer to him as my husband. It sounds weird coming out of my mouth because I never in a million years thought that I would be saying those words. And, with being married, my last name has changed as well.

Changing my last name has been one hell of an ordeal, and I’m not even halfway there. Last week, I took a day off of work to head to the Social Security office to get the process started. It was relatively painless. I brought a book with me, expecting to waste hours in the waiting room for my number to be called. So I got there, took my number and sat down. Not even five minutes later, my number, A40 was called. The whole process took a matter of ten minutes. Of course, it takes 24 hours for the official change to go through, so my planned trip to the BMV did not occur. I had to put that off for another day. I decided “hey, Saturday sounds like a good day. Let’s get up really early and deal with the people at the BMV. What a way to start the weekend, right?”

On Saturday, we got up bright and early and took every single vital document we thought would be necessary to get my new license. (See, Indiana has recently made this process very difficult requiring that you bring documents proving your address, your identity, and then you have to sign your application in blood….ha, no, maybe the first two things, but still, it’s a pain.) The place opened at 8:30 a.m., so we got there at 8:20. There was already a line, so we got in line so that when the doors opened, we would be ready to go. We were able to change my license, even though the lady who was helping us had a difficult time understanding why my married name was not on my passport and bills. Um, yeah…see, I am changing my name? Prior to September 18th, this wasn’t my name? And don’t I need an updated, accurate license to update my passport? The whole thing seemed contradictory, but $10.00 and 30 minutes later, I had a new license.

I was hoping that I could change my registration the same day, you know, to pay one bill in one trip rather than do multiple ones? Well, no, apparently you can change your license, but my bank where I have my car loan needs to write the BMV a letter for me to change my name on my registration. So, I guess I’m not done with the BMV yet. 

Going off a high of changing my name on my license, we decided to go hog wild and add me to T’s checking account and combine cell phone accounts. In addition, I’ve had to put a request into the Supreme Court to change my name with the Roll of Attorneys for Indiana. This only gets thing started, though. I will be changing my name for the next month or so. It just isn’t fair. Why doesn’t T have to do all of this?

And for my loyal readers, I do need to add this…now that I am married and my name is changing, my initials now spell ASS. I wish I could make that up, but sadly, I cannot. My parents cursed me with the first two initials AS, so it was just fate that I would marry someone whose last name began with the letter S. I will be getting monogrammed items for the rest of my life, I fear. However, it only seems appropriate for those of you who know me well. I’m now a married woman, and I’m now officially, legally an ASS.

Ch-ch-ch-changes…

I do have more changes happening right now, too, aside from my name, and I will be posting about that soon...more to come!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Guest post: Married Life, Ireland, and Guinness – Three of life’s greatest things!

I've let T have the reigns today.  Here's the man's perspective on the wedding and our amazing honeymoon....
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
At the request of several (not the least of whom is my beautiful, new wife) I have decided to write a guest post for everyone. Yes, the wedding and Ireland described from yours truly, T.

I decided to take the day before the wedding off from work because families were coming to town. Most of my extended family lives in the Boston area and my immediate family lives in the Detroit area. I ended up “working” from home on Thursday so as to help Nain with preparations and to have a day together before everyone arrived. We used that day to drop stuff off at the hotel, take care of rent, and get some time to pack for Ireland. We also visited our church’s Adoration Chapel that night, which was a really nice way to have some quiet time to reflect and pray, just the two of us. Friday came, and we were extremely busy. Nain and her sister, mom, and niece got their nails done and had some lunch. I went to downtown Indy to pick up my cousin, who rode the bus in from Chicago (he’s originally from Boston, but is currently in Chicago working on a Master’s Degree). Now, I had an address where to pick him up, but ended up driving around the block several times until I realized the bus drop off was just a regular bus stop in front of the City-County Building in Indy. I drove my cousin to the hotel and met most of the rest of my family. I’ll tell you, it was nice to see everyone, especially, since it is only about once a year at best that I see most of my extended family.

During the rehearsal dinner, I had decided that I wanted to toast Nain, since I was not going to be seeing her until she was walking down the aisle to me the next day. Of course, being a guy, I had nothing prepared and decided to wing it. Well, I can tell you this was the best thing I have ever done. I spoke from the heart. I started off with some comedy, but turned serious quickly. I remember telling everyone that Nain has made me a better person and that she taught me the most valuable lesson one could ever hope to learn. You see, Nain has taught me how to give myself completely to someone. I am a better person because of Nain and I wanted all of our families to know it. I was told the next day by Nain’s cousin that my speech was the only time she cried during the entire weekend. We parted ways for the night, and man, did I miss her. The next morning was not too stressful for me. I know Nain and the girls were at the hair dresser by 8AM. I strolled down to the hotel lobby (I stayed in my parents room that night so as not to see Nain) around 9:30AM to eat breakfast. By the time we arrived at the church, I was starting to get nervous. Not nervous about marrying Nain, there was never a question in my mind about that, but more nervous about tripping or saying the wrong thing. My brother was calming me down by tracking the score of the Michigan football game on his phone. We then started goofing around (like we have always done) until I realized that we were just down the stairs form where the guests were entering the church and that they probably could hear us.

It then happened; the moment I had waited my entire life for and had helped plan for over a year. Nain entered the church holding her father’s arm. This was the first time I had seen her in her dress. My breath was taken away. I will never ever ever forget that moment when I first locked eyes with Nain. She was more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. She was so pretty and I can tell you I felt like the luckiest person on the face of the Earth because I was about to marry my best friend and soul mate. When we were exchanging our vows, I was looking deeper into Nain’s eyes than I have ever looked before. What I saw was amazing. I saw pure and true love, I saw my future, I saw the best part of me, and I saw the one I loved more than anything. Exchanging our vows was hands down the most amazing thing I have ever done. I remember when we were waiting for the gifts to be brought up leaning over to Nain and whispering, “We are married now!” Later, her dad told me he saw that and thought it was the greatest thing ever. After the ceremony, we were waiting in the church hall for the guests to exit the church and get their bubbles. When we got back there, Nain’s niece who is 7 ran into my arms and shouted, “You are my real Uncle now!” It was one of those priceless moments that just can’t be planned. I could not be any more proud of the 2 nieces and 2 nephews to whom I am now an Uncle. The limo and reception were a blast! I have not had a more fun night than I did on my wedding night. I even smoked my first cigar, but that is a story for another post…

The next day we left for Dublin. I have to admit I was a bit nervous about flying so far. I usually love flying and tend to talk Nain’s ear off, much to her dismay. However, I was nervous about Customs. I never like feeling like a criminal as this person in uniform does a background search. But, I had to be the strong one to show Nain that everything was going to be alright. The travel did go off without a hitch (for the most part – Nain can tell you about the struggles we had with our final flight in another post), but we made it there safely. Ireland was amazing. I had never been, but what an incredible place! We had so much fun and a few pints of Guinness! It was like a homecoming, in a way, for me. My ancestors are from Ireland, and the feeling of knowing I was visiting the place where I came from was amazing. One particular aspect that stood out to me is the music. I have always loved Celtic music and to hear it live in the real pubs of Dublin was just unbelievable. What amazed me is that a lot of the songs are considered traditional and are handed down to tell the story of a generation. No one worried about playing other’s music and everyone in the pubs knew the songs. It was a far cry from what we have on the radio here in the States because the music seemed real. There are no voice machines and synthesizers, just instruments that have existed hundreds of years and stories that are told by song. As Nain has told you several times, the Guinness is better there. It just is. I have never tasted Guinness as good as in Dublin, and I think that is going to ruin it for me here because it will never taste the same here. Alas, I will make due. One of the things I am most proud of from our trip was visiting the Old Jameson Distillery. I “volunteered” to end the tour by tasting (along with 8 others) the differences between Irish, Scottish, and American Whiskeys. For this “work,” I now have a certificate to hang on the wall that states I am a Qualified Irish Whiskey Taster! I am as proud of that as I am of my Master’s in Engineering! ;-)All in all, it was an amazing trip and I could not have asked for better company to with which to spend it.

So, there you have it, T’s perspective on the wedding and honeymoon. September 18, 2010 is hands down the happiest, most blessed day of my life! I will always remember how happy I was that day. And I would say I will always remember how in love I was that day except that I love Nain more and more each and every day. I still get goose bumps remembering how I felt looking deep into her eyes that day. I am so blessed to have Nain in my life, and I still get excited saying she is now my wife. I love you, Nain; more than you could ever imagine!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Where's a tape recorder when I need one?

 Sometimes I feel like I should walk around with a tape recorder when having conversations with my husband. You know, that guy who wrote the book “S**t My Dad Says” makes a ton of money off of what his dad says to him, and well, it gets me wondering sometimes whether I should write down some of the things that spew out of T’s mouth on a regular basis.

(After watching Dancing with the Stars on Tuesday)
“I’m really glad I’m not a star because I’d have to do shows like Dancing with the Stars, and I just don’t have the time for that.”

(After watching an episode of Teen Mom on MTV)
“I’m really glad I’m not a teen mom”

“If I were a gay man, I would want to get married, too. But I wouldn’t want to marry a douche. I’d want to find a good, quality man.”

While driving with my parents last week (and I should mention the car was in total silence before he randomly says this…)
“I love cruise control” (To which my Father responds, “That’s great. Good for you.”)

“When you become an attorney you should totally do that…”
(Referring to a television ad by this cheesy attorney’s office in Indianapolis. I quickly point out to him that I am, in fact, an attorney already.)

(Again after watching Dancing with the Stars)
“If I was a gay man, I would totally sleep with Rick Fox. He’s sexy.” (Yes, this one worried me, too.)

(At night, when we’re getting ready for bed and he still has beer left from dinner to drink)
“Don’t worry, just put it in the fridge, and I’ll drink it in the morning.”

(This morning after watching a piece on the Today Show about Marilyn Monroe)
"I'm glad I never had sex with Marilyn Monroe.  She sounds crazy." 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…he’s a goof. But he’s my goof, and I love him for that.

Speaking of my goof, come back tomorrow because it’s all T tomorrow…he’ll be guest posting about the wedding. I promise it’ll be good!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Our trip home and why I still hate flying

Last week I told you about our fun experiences on the plane to Ireland (well, to JFK which then took us to Ireland), and this week I shall regale you with takes of our trip home. As was the case with the trip there, the international flight, minus the annoying customs questions, was pretty uneventful. I was actually hopeful, as we landed at JFK, that my flight home wouldn’t be that bad. It’s a shame I was wrong, though…

I feel bad because I’m pretty much going to be bashing JFK airport here, but my experience was so bad it is really hard not to. Suffice it to say, this airport is now my least favorite airport. It used to be O’Hare, but nope, JFK takes first place. (Go JFK!)  However, to be nice, I will leave out the names of the airline in question to protect the identities of the damned.

How bad was it? Well, let me tell you…

First, I should tell you how hot the airport was. They have a ton of windows, and apparently they didn’t feel like turning the AC on despite the fact that it was 90 degrees out. And did I mention we had a four hour layover in this place? Oh I didn’t? Yeah, we did. But we had to go through customs first. I thought it would actually be this complicated deal, but no, it turns out we go through this tunnel of a hallway and stand in line forever only to get our luggage from a baggage claim, carry it to customs and then hand it to this lady who is just throwing them on a cart. Necessary? Probably not. (Side note: JFK broke the leg on my suitcase, and no, that’s not an allowable claim. Apparently it’s collateral damage) Then T gets yelled at by this security lady because he didn’t put his passport open to the page with his picture in it. Seriously yelled at. It was funny to me, but come on, open the damn thing up. It’s not rocket science, people. And calm down. Your job isn’t that stressful.

Ok, so our gate was 25P, which we thought was weird because there was just Gate 25 and Gate 26. So where in the hell is 25P? So I ask someone, and he says that it’s on Gate 25. So we go to Gate 25. Oh wait, every single domestic flight is flying out of Gate 25. And they have as many gates there as are in the alphabet. And there aren’t enough seats for everyone. And the gate is directly facing the sun. Oh good.

So we sit there and wait. Our flight is supposed to board at 6:50. Well it hits 7:00 and nothing. The flight doesn’t show up on the screen. 7:05, 7:10, 7:15…finally they come on the speakers to tell us that they plane just landed and is running late. Ok, that’s fine. So finally it’s our chance to board. We line up and head down these stairs into the dungeon. It’s this huge fake hallway leading to a multitude of gates. They have some lady shouting out flights and pointing us towards the right gate. Cleveland go right, Indy go left…what if I missed that? Confusing, people, confusing.

We have to climb the stairs to get to our teeny tiny plane, and we wait in line to get to our seats. I should mention we are sitting in the second row so “waiting” shouldn’t be waiting. We get to our seats and T tries to put his bag in our overhead compartment. It’s big so he has a hard time but gets in there so I decide to put mine under my seat. I sit and go “wait, I wanted to put my jacket in the overhead.” Before I can get up, this old lady across the aisle from me jumps up and shuts the compartment closed before I can do that. I look to T and go “did she just do that? Seriously?” Not deterred, I get up, look at her, open the compartment, look at her again, put my coat in there and close it. Screw you lady. I should mention she and her husband were sitting there in surgical masks, too. I hate rude people.

The pilot comes on and says hi and announces our final destination, except he can’t get that right. He first says Pittsburgh, goes off the radio, and then he comes on and says Indianapolis. I have great confidence when the pilot doesn’t know where we’re going. It gives me that warm fuzzy feeling.

They close the plane door and we wait. And wait. And wait. Our pilot comes on and says apparently we are waiting for our push crew to push the plane out. So we wait. And wait some more. And then the pilot comes on and says that there’s a truck that has broken down behind our plane so we are waiting for a tow truck or for them to fix it. So we wait for that. And wait. And then the pilot comes on and says that the tow truck is on route. Wait, it hasn’t gotten there? What, did they call AAA? About thirty minutes later the tow truck takes the truck away. The question I had was, if the push crew can push a plane out of the gate, can they not push a truck out of the way? I mean, one of these things weighs less than the other…

We start taxing out of the gate, the lights go off and I try to pretend that we’re not in the smallest plane known to man. We drive and drive passing by jet after jet waiting to take off. T says to me “are all of these planes waiting to take off?” I close my eyes and lean on T, praying the rosary in my head to calm myself. Think of nice, big spaces, Nain, nice big spaces. Surely, not. About 20 minutes later the pilot comes on and tells us that we are 22 in line to take off. I thought I heard that incorrectly, but no, 22. We were 22 in line. He says that we might have to go back to the gate if we don’t take off soon because apparently we need to turn the air conditioning off to conserve fuel because we might not have enough fuel to get home. It was at this point I decided to take Nain’s sleeping pills.

I was pretty sure I was going this was it.  This was how I was going to go. I was going to die on this plane. Either because our pilot forgot how to fly the plane, it would blow up on the runway, or we would die in a crash because we didn’t have enough fuel to fly. Thank God for sleeping pills because I don’t think I would have made it through without them. We did make it home alive, so this story ends well.

But I stand firm in my stance that I hate flying.

Stay tuned for Friday… I have twisted T’s arm into doing a guest post for me on the wedding and honeymoon, so, while you have gotten it all from my perspective, you will hear it from T himself on Friday. So you definitely have to come back for that!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My favorite things about Dublin (Part 2)

Hope you all enjoyed the first five favorite things about Dublin from yesterday!   Today I give you my last five favorite things, and some of these, are more than just things.  They are staples to life.  Nevertheless, I cannot give you a list about Dublin without listing a few of these items.  So without further ado...

5)  The music - At pretty much every pub we visited, we got to listen to some live Irish folk music.  I only wish I knew some of the bar sings so that I could sing along with everyone.  On Arthur's Day, the bars were ridiculous with live music.  I couldn't get close enough to too many of the groups to take their picture, but I did manage to take a picture of one group on break at St. John Gogharty's.
Even the street musicians were amazing.  We saw this one string quartet from Slovakia (side note:  This is the country where most of my ancestors on my maternal side are from, so this excited me a great deal) playing on the street.  We stopped and listened to them for awhile, and I liked them so much, I bought a CD of theirs.  If you look closely in this picture, there is this little boy who was so enamored by the musicians and was dancing along.  It was too cute to not take a picture.

4)  The people - Everyone there was so nice and so friendly to us while we were visiting.  We would meet people on bus tours, at pubs, everyone, and every time, they were so polite and nice to us.  Even our cab driver on the first day was just talking our ear off, giving us tips on what to do in town and asking about where we were from (and being very genuine about it, too, I might add)  This is a far cry from the cab drivers we have experienced in the U.S.  One of these tips he gave us we did, and it was a huge help to us while we were there.  It was this "Hop On, Hop Off" bus tour where you paid about 16 Euro for a two day pass to ride a double decker bus system around town and hit all of the major sites all while getting a historical tour of Dublin.  It helped us in getting around to some of the major sites we wanted to see.  (i.e., Guinness Storehouse)  The tour guides on those buses were hilarious, too.  They were sarcastic, witty and constantly cracking jokes, all while giving a helpful historical lesson about the city.  It was my kind of a tour, and these people are definitely my kind of people. 

The crowds in the Auld Dubliner on Arthur Guinness Day.

3)  The food - We certainly ate well the entire week we were there.  The food was amazing!  Every morning we got a full Irish breakfast, which included eggs, grilled bacon, porridge, potato bread, scones, and man, the coffee!  The coffee there was strong and it was good, very addicting.  We can't seem to duplicate it here at home.  The pub food was great, too.  I tried to sample all the traditional Irish cuisine while we were there - fish and chips, Cornish pie, Shepard's pie, and I've discovered a new favorite food of mine, mushy peas.  Yes, they are exactly what they sound like, and while they may sound disgusting and look like baby food, they are a little bite of heaven.  I must find a recipe to make some of these at home. 
Pictured above, we have your traditional Irish pub food - Shepard's pie, chips, and of course, mushy peas.  Oh, and a Guinness to top it off.

2)  Our hotel -  I absolutely loved our hotel.  We stayed at the Shelbourne Renaissance Hotel in the heart of Dublin.  T found this place by chance on an Internet search, and he could not have found a better place.  The room was amazing, and the hotel staff treated us so well.  We were within walking distance from everything, so that helped, too.  Our first night there, they surprised us with a bottle of mineral water and chocolates neatly arranged on a tray  with "Congratulations" written in chocolate syrup.  The chocolates were delicious, and the gesture, very much appreciated. 
As I wrote about the food, we had a full Irish breakfast every morning as part of our package.  We could not have picked a better place to stay, and it made our trip all the more special.


 
A picture of the outside of our hotel, taken from St. Stephen's Green
 

1)  Guinness - You know this one was coming, right?   I have to say the draught Guinness in Ireland tastes far superior to what you can get in the States.  I didn't believe it until I tried it myself.  It just is.  And the Guinness Storehouse?  Well, this was pretty much my idea of heaven.  After our tour of the museum, we went up to the Galaxy Bar at the top of the place where you could get a 360 degree aerial view of the city with a free pint.  We also learned to pour the perfect pint, receiving certificates show our proud achievement, and we got our own pint there, too.  As T put it, the Guinness Storehouse is the only museum I know of where you come in sober and leave just a little bit tipsy.  I loved it.  (Can you tell from the picture?)


And since going to Dublin is a HUGE treasure, I want to link this post up with Chantel's Small Treasure Tuesdays.  Stop by her blog and read about some of the other treasures people are sharing this week!





And to answer Robin's question from yesterday, oh yes, we did shopping.  Plenty of it :-)  I might need to do a post on what all we got...we're still waiting on one thing to be shipped to us from Waterford, and I'll definitely post a picture of that when it's received.


 

Monday, October 4, 2010

My favorite things about Dublin (Part 1)

In trying to come up with a good way to sum up our trip to Ireland, I thought it might be best to tell all of you my favorite things about the trip and the city.  Sure, I might be missing a few key attractions, but these are the things I liked, and well, it is my blog after all, right?  So without further ado, I shall begin in reverse order and grace all of you with the first five things I really loved about Ireland.  (Please note, these are not in any particular order of importance or level of me liking them.  They are just in order of how they came to me as I wrote them in the airport...
10)  The Jeremy Kyle Show - We had to experience the local television entertainment, and I found a gem amongst gems - the Jeremy Kyle Show.  It's like a British version of Maury Povich, but ten times better.  I swear, every time I turned on the hotel TV, this show was on, and they were always talking about paternity and DNA tests.  I loved it.  I must look a little bit more into Jeremy's Web site here and see if I can watch it at home.  He's the next big thing, you know.   


9)  St. Stephen's Green - Our hotel was directly across the street from this beautiful park.  It's completely fenced in and surrounded by trees.  Now I'll admit, I could have done without the pigeons.  (Side story:  I'm scared to death of pigeons.  They are flying rats, in my opinion.  The first day there, we were taking pictures, and I was swarmed by pigeons.  Seriously, swarmed.  They landed all around me, and T said I just froze like I didn't know what to do.  Ick)  Other than the pigeon infestation, I loved this place.   It was so peaceful, so beautiful, and definitely one of my favorite places in Dublin.  I could see myself just coming to this park with a nice cup of coffee and writing for hours. 
 

8)   Grafton Street - This place is the big shopping district in Dublin.  It's a few blocks walking distance from our hotel, so we were able to stop there several times.  The streets is completely blocked off from traffic and is pedestrian only, and the place is just alive with activity:  shopping, street performers, crazy people, you name it.  We spent our last afternoon there just wandering around that area, checking out stores and watching some random guy do this limbo act to Jay-Z (oh, and I should mention the limbo stick was on fire.  That added to the coolness factor.)  We stopped by a street cafe later for a little coffee and writing.  Oh, how I loved Grafton Street. 


7)  So I cannot go too long without talking about, of course, the local pubs.  The only way to truly experience Dublin is by visiting the pubs, and we did plenty of this, especially on Arthur's Day, of course.  It's crazy - pubs are like Starbucks in the States.  There's one on every corner.  An added benefit is that they are all non-smoking, too, for those of us who don't like coming out smelling like an ashtray after going out.  Unlike all of the bars here in the States, Bud Light (or, insert your appropriate watered-down beer here) isn't the main drink on tap.  No way.  These places have about 3-4 Guinness taps per bar.  I felt like I was home.

This was a nice hole-in-the-wall pub we frequented.  Apparently the musical group, the Dubliners got their start there.  Pretty cool, huh?

Ah, yes, our favorite place, the place where we started our Arthur Guinness Day celebration, the Auld Dubliner. 
St. John Gogharty's was the second bar we went to on Arthur's Day.  This place was right across the street from the Auld Dubliner, and it was equally as packed when we got there. 

6)  On our bus tours of Dublin, we got to see some pretty breathtaking churches and cathedrals, too.  We tried to hit all of the major ones, which included Christ's Church, Dublin Castle, and St. Patrick's Cathedral.  All of them were absolutely amazing.  We even found a Catholic Church, St. Teresa's in the Grafton Street area.  It was kind of cool to go somewhere amidst the craziness for a few minutes of peace and reflection.

We took this picture walking around the grounds of St. Patrick's Cathedral.  It was absolutely beautiful, and the pictures don't do it justice.

So there you have it, those are the first five things that I absolutely loved about Dublin.  I hope you enjoyed them, and come back tomorrow for the last five!  And I promise...more pictures!





Saturday, October 2, 2010

Saturday Steals: Cute earrings!

 

It's the weekend, which mean it's time to share my steal for the week in Camille's Saturday Steals, brought to you from Archives of Our Lives.  My steal is pretty special because it comes from one of my special bloggy friends, Chantel.  Yes, the same Chantel from Small Treasure Tuesdays.  See, Chantel has an etsy shop where she sells the cutest jewelry ever.  She had a giveaway awhile back on her blog for some free earrings, and sadly, I didn't win but...she was so sweet that she mailed me a pair of earrings anyway!  They were to go with my rehearsal dinner dress, but unfortunately we had to hold our mail early before we left for Ireland so I didn't get to wear them, but I got a nice surprise when they came as soon as we got back!  I love them!  So cute!  Anyway, that's my steal for the week, and I just wanted to share that with you.  I'll be having a giveaway featuring Chantel's Etsy shop coming soon so stay tuned for more!  For now, enjoy this crappy phone picture I took of the earrings...(Sorry about that...It simply doesn't do them justice.  Please excuse my shoddy photography skills!)

Have a great weekend everyone!


Friday, October 1, 2010

Here's to Arthur!

Nain's note:  This post was written while in Ireland, one day after the exciting celebration of Arthur Guinness Day....enjoy!

Now I don't think I have hidden the fact from all of you that I'm an avid Guinness drinker (Hell, it was one of the reasons why we picked Ireland as a honeymoon destination), and it couldn't have been more perfectly planned that we picked a week where the entire country of Ireland takes a day to celebrate the man himself, Arthur Guinness.  (Don't you love my hat?  So Irish, isn't it?)

It was our fourth day in Dublin, and we had seen signs all over the place advertising the occasion.  What was to happen was pubs everywhere were going to celebrate Arthur with a toast at exactly 17:59 (or 5:59 p.m. for those of you in the States) on September 23rd in Mr. Guinness's honor.  T had gotten an email about it before we left for Ireland (because, of course, we are both fans of Guinness on Facebook and receive regular updates...) so we were pretty pumped.  We were so pumped, in fact, that we decided to brave the "party district" of Dublin, called Temple Bar, to celebrate and be a part of the madness.

We started at a pub where had previously had dinner called the Auld Dubliner.  We got there around 2:30 that afternoon, which seems early, but trust me, you had to get there early.  The place was pretty full at that point.  We were lucky enough to score a table and decided to hole up there at least until the toast before we explored the area. 
 
They had live music, great food, and the Guinness was, of course, flowing.  As the afternoon progressed, the place got more and more crowded until around 17:00 (5:00 p.m.) when you could barely even walk around.  Fire codes were being broken, I'm sure.  It was near impossible to get to the bathroom at that point because the crowds were so bad.

As the hour approached, it hit 17:59, the time for the toast.  With pints of Guinnes in hand, we joined the revelry and toasted to Mr. Arthur Guinness.  The crowd erupted in cheers, clinking glasses all around and then into song, traditional Irish pub songs, of course.   It was by far one of the coolest things I have ever witnessed.
We finished our pints (let's be honest, these weren't our first pints, but still...) and decided to walk around outside to catch some fresh air since breathing room was sorely lacking in the Auld Dubliner.  Man, even the streets were insane.  People were out drinking, singing, dancing.  Garda (Irish police) were out everywhere to police the crowds.   This is a picture of apparently something big going on.  We couldn't tell, but there was this huge crowd, and everyone was cheering and trying to take a picture so I can only assume it was something big.  So, here's my picture, attempting to figure out what was going on. 
Wandering around to find our next pub destination, we made the mistake of running into apparently the very end of a fight, as there were police surrounding a group of men, one of which had about three stab wounds dripping with blood.  Yes, I could have done without seeing that, and it's a bit too much for me so we turned around. 

The next two bars we hit were the Oliver St. John Gogharty's and the Quay's Bar.  Both were equally as crowded and lively.  It was so much fun, and everyone was so friendly.  We had a wonderful time, as we were just happy to be a part of it all.  I felt like I had come home to my motherland. 

Ironic thing, though, while at Quay's Pub...we found seats next to two Irishmen, a couple from Spain and a lady about my age who was also a lawyer but was from Italy.  How crazy is that?  I met a fellow lawyer!

T and I had so much fun we have decided to carry on the tradition and have our own Arthur's Day, minus the police and stabbings, of course.  It'll be at our house next year with some Irish music (not live, but hey, we can only do what we can do), Irish cuisine, and a keg of Guinness, of course. 

I should tell you guys that as I sit here, handwriting this post so that I can type it out later when we return home, I am sitting in a cafe with T, drinking coffee and enjoying a delicious berry scone.  I'm so European.  My God, I could just live here.


Happy belated Arthur's Day, everyone!