Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Weekend with my Girls!

I've known these two since scrunchies and bad perms and Kellys Kids and #2 pencil lice checks (anyone else have those? Gotta love public schools...)
And I still just can't get enough of them. They are my bestest frands eva. And with football season over, we need a girls weekend, like pronto, every year. So this time, it was off to Birmingham, for my Leah/Casey fix.
Oh yeah...and we had some celebrating to the fact that Mama Leah is gonna add another bambino to her family in 6 months....and I'm sure her 10 months twins are so very excited! I know we are!!!
And as always, our weekends generally consist of eating, shopping, and talking til we fall asleep on the sofas! A Mexi fix on Friday night, Another Broken Egg Cafe for Saturday brunch, and "26" Saturday evening.
Our precious friend Lindsay came to play Saturday night at 26, which might a new favorite restuarant of mine in the 'Ham. It was a beautiful night, so they opened a a garage door! the streets of Five Points...and we have one of the lucky tables by the street. So fun!
Sunday before I left, I went by Ashley (Oakes) Parrish's house to see this angel face and steal some smooches. Seriously, I almost made them miss a birthday party because I didn't want to leave!!
The only reason I finally did was because I will see her mama again in only 2 weeks for our OOC Reunion! Whoop Whoop! I do love me some girls weekends!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ski Trip.....Part 2: What We Did!

Ready for a lot more pictures? And more rambling? Ok, good. :) Thursday night when we got good and checked in, and finished snooping around for a while, we ran into this rustic little restaurant called "Stickney's," appropriately named after the man who build this quaint little hotel in 1902.Yikes. That's one roughed-up birthday girl. At this point I had logged about 4 hours in a car, 4 in a plane, and maybe slept about that long the night before too I was so excited about our trip! But the smartwater and sleeve o' Ritz crackers had warn off at this point....we were ready for some real food! So we splashed some water on our sleepy Southern faces and ordered every appetizer Stickney's had to offer! And I knew the first thing I wanted to try was some authentic New England clam chowdah!
And these were some pretty de-vine sausage and mussels!
Seafood Fritters (which the bartender said were glorified Yankee hushpuppies! ha!)
Everything was great, of course, just as it looks, and when Jeffrey as for a dessert menu for a little bday dessert....the waiter took it upon himself to deliver a house special....yep, candles, singing, wait staff and all! Though we, of course would not have chosen a cholocate cake for me (the non-chocolate eater AT ALL) it was super fun and watching Jeff melt over every bite was well worth it!
Friday morning began ski day #1. We began the day with blueberry muffins and coffee from the deli in the hotel and took the shuttle to the "lodge" at the base of the slopes, 2 minutes away. We rented our equipment there and hopped on a lift! From the top this is what we saw....
And on the way up, this is how excited we were! Goofballs...
Let me tell you, I toted my smaller "point-and-shoot" camera around with me in one of the 50 zipper pockets of my jacket and pants all over the slopes for pictures on ski days. But it takes a LOT of effort to: steady your skis, stab your poles in the ground, un-velcro your wrists, take your gloves off, unzip a pocket, steady your camera in your freezing hands, and hold a poise.... You can forget asking someone else to take one for you, so you can have a couple shot!
By the time Jeff had gotten steady, un-velcroed, unzipped, etc.....I was accidently sliding....he had to snap fast, or I was going to be out of range! I was heading "to da leff, to da leff!"
Friday was a fun day. I didn't fall one bit! Sweet Thang, on the other hand.... Well, let's just say we DID NOT go down this Black Diamond Slope we accidently ran upon on our journey! Love you, Love!
After a looong day of getting our ski legs back, we were t.i.r.e.d.! When we got back to the Titanic, uh, hotel I mean, we crash landed into nearly a 2 hour nap! We perked back up just in time to get all fancy shmancy for our reservations at The Main Dining Room for dinner. Now this was high cotton, baby.
Both of us had our own waiter, who never stepped further than 10 feet from us. I'd literally take a sip of water and he'd fill it right back up! So needless to say by the main course, I really had to potty! And guess who was right behind me to pull out my chair before Jeff could even stand up!
The food matched the service for sure! These people were gen-u-wine, as my dear friend Oakes would say. And the food was amazing. My seafood tortillini appetizer---Ahhh. Even the Ceasar salad wasn't your average ol' salad. But check out my main course. Scallops. Possibly my favorite creature of the sea. 3 Scallops and 3 Clams, big as my fist!
This guy had seared duck. So I tried duck for the first time. I'm not apposed to trying new things, of which I'm glad. 'Caused I like his duck.
After desserts of pumpkin cheesecake and creme brulee, and making googly eyes at each other and promises I hope I remember for ever.... We lightened the mood (lucky for yall, no more mush :) and headed down stairs to the "Speakeasy" called The Cave to have a few toddies and listen to some great live music.
Ski Day #2 we began back in the Main Dining Room with the biggest buffet you could ever imagine. Seriously, they had salmon and shrimp out for breakfast!
The slopes produced nothing but sass from me. I am too school for cool. Or is it too cool for school? Either way, it was clear by the end of Day 2, school..."ski school" that is, wouldn't have been that bad of an idea.....
A rare shot of the two of us, taken by Jeffrey's outstretched, frozen arm. He only let us do this twice, before his gloves were calling his name. This is the best we got. :/
Now. About this. I would like it to have it's own post really. But for fear I won't get a good steak dinner for a while, I'll throw it in here. (and still get in trouble....) This made me almost wet my ski britches, and I was most certainly crying! Let me first tell you, unlike in NC last year, we NEVER left the green slopes. The mountain is steep, and the slopes are ungroomed, so the ONE Blue slope we partially went down we prayed aloud the majority of the way! However, along all the slopes, they have these little paths off the sides of the slopes no wider than a foot trail you can dart down and will spit you out back on the slope several hundred feet later. Guess which genius darted down one.....
The part we didnt realize is that they're rated BLACK DIAMONDs, and you don't realize until you hit the first bump and go airborne what you've done. I could only watch helplessly from the slope, as he flew through head over heels, praying he didn't hit a tree! Well, he didn't, and he stood up, so I cracked up and proceeded to yell at him (as I whipped out my camera of course) "I TOLD YOU NOT TO GO DOWN THERE!!" And started snapping away as he walked 20 feet behind him to pick up his skis, and 20 feet to the right for one pole, and left for the other.....I'm so laughing as I type this.
The next thing I hear is "Woman, I swear if you blog about this...." So my love grabs his poles (standing only in his boots, no skis attached, mind you) and says "At least take a picture and make it look like I'm skiing!"
Thank you for making laugh, baby. At you and with you. :)
My shout out to my friend, Darby, and her rocking tees. If it's not obvious, I was clearly a Happy Camper.
Each day, we'd take lunch breaks at The Lodge at the bottom of the slopes and grab some nachos and some beverages and refuel. Other than the airport, this was by far the best place to people watch.
At the end of skiing on day 2, we were battered and bruised, and had had so very much fun. We refused to even think about the fact we had to leave the next day. So we walked off the shuttle and into the lobby...mind you, it's the size of a football field....and accessed the situation. One of the things I loved the most about this place was it was so homey feeling, family-ish. Get it? There were dozens of sitting areas set up, that people were just lounging in, and my favorite part were all the card tables with checkers, scrabble, and puzzles everywhere. So we grabbed a seat!
And a Valentine's-tini!
And we proceeded to play the most intense game of jumbo checkers ever. I'm not even kidding.
Finally, we drug ourselves away from checkers, freshened up and went to another yummy dinner where we set at the bar (it was super crowded by Saturday night) and met another fun couple and chatted it up. They were of the Yankee variety, but we didn't judge. :) It seemed the bartender kept bringing us all sorts of foods and home brews to sample, I'm not sure if he was just that nice to everyone or just wanted to hear us talk! But it was a great way to wrap up an amazing weekend.
Sunday morning, 6:30 came waaaaay too early for me, I'm just saying. And I teared up as we left this big beautiful place. I had the most wonderful time, with the most wonderful man, in the most FREEZING temperatures I've seen. hehe. :) It was the perfect way to ring in my 31st year. Happy Birthday to me!
** I know Jeffrey is going to pick up the phone and lay it on me when he finishes reading this and I don't tell on myself....fine, fine. I tried to be a hot shot too. (imagine, me? A daredevil?) I zipped my tush down one of those trails too. And it turned a corner and suddenly there was a jump, like a big 5 foot drop in elevation kinda jump. And I didnt jump. Needless to say, I was walking to pick my own poles and skis up too. I even lost a glove I fell so hard. Once Jeff knew I was okay, and my tears dried up (it actually scared me...) my name changed to "Crash" the rest of the day. ha. ha. ha. At least I didn't break my tailbone this time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ski Trip....Part 1: Where We Stayed

There is no way to recap last weekend in one post, without locking up my computer or yours with all the information I've just gotta share with I'll have to do it in two posts. So I'll start with where we stayed.... Jeff and I have started an annual birthday tradition, since our birthdays are less than two weeks apart, of a ski trip. You can read about last year HERE, when we went to Beech Mountain, NC. This year we wanted to go somewhere on the Northeast coast, so last Thursday we left Georgia surrounded by our own little "dusting" of snow and headed to the ATL airport. Once we were all checked in, we stopped for a quick lunch at Houlihans, where I had a birthday beverage, and my sweet thing told me how fabulous I am.

I gotta say I think he's pretty cool too. ;)

A friend recommended a tucked away place for us to go skiing called Brettonwoods. It's located in Mt. Washington, NH, and to get there was an adventure itself....We left Atlanta, landed in Philadelphia, took a potty break, and flew one more hour where it became so cold snow was accumulating on the window outside the plane! As the sun began to set, we landed in Portland, Maine....a teeny, tiny airport in a harbor town in Maine where we hopped in our 4WD Jeep Cherokee and headed up the mountain.
After two hours of driving through the cutest New England towns, and most beautiful mountainside, a Smartwater and a sleeve of Ritz....and maybe a few turnarounds later, I'll never say... we topped the mountain at NEGATIVE FIVE DEGREES at 8pm. We were in total disbelief, we'd never seen a negative before a temperature in our life!!
We knew we were there when we saw this sign, and were simply blown away. (And I'm switching to daytime pictures now, they're much better....)
When we saw this structure in the distance, our jaws dropped (even at night). This is the Mt. Washington Hotel, the last of the "grand hotels" in our country. And our crib for the weekend. Remember in Dirty Dancing, Baby's family stayed in a "grand hotel"....these are the kind a nice little 1950's/1960's family would stay in for an entire season; with activities year round to entertain them.
The Mt. Washington was built in 1902, has changed hands several times, and is now operated by the Omni Hotel & Resorts. So you can imagine our accomodations. It sits on New Hampshire's Historic Register, and is among it's National Forest.
Brettonwoods offers all the winter sports you can imagine, from skiing of course, to snowmobiling, ziplines, and dogsledding. But the summers and falls seem to be just as big an attraction here too! Jeff and I already want to come back! There's plenty to do while it's warm, from golf, to hiking and biking, the ziplines and canopy tours, horseback riding, fishing and rockclimbing.
Of course, while Jeffrey is out trying his best to fly-fish, I would have NO problem at all spending my whole weekend at the spa inside this place! One whole wing of this hotel was dedicated to it, and rightfully so: it's 25,000 SF! With indoor pools and well as OUTDOOR...yes, that's what I said...after skiing, you wouldn't believe the c-r-a-z-y fools who would go throw their suits on and go jump in that heated pool outside! Thank you very much, I'll stick to a martini and a pedicure please.
Jeff and I literally spent hours exploring this place. Multiple floors, hallways hundreds of feet long. GIGANTIC wrap-around porches. Magestic. Grand. I keep trying to put into worlds what this place was like. There's not another hotel to compare it to. I've been to big hotels, very big. And very nice ones too, ultra-modern. But this was just so different. I described it to my parents the "Titanic, dry-docked." So comfortable, but so royal.
People were so friendly here too. We couldn't pass a staff member without being spoken to. Them asking how our day was. How were the slopes? Can I get you anything? Just a hello.
No one would just take your order and leave. They had conversations. Managers, bellhops, the cleaning lady, the bartenders, the dude who drove the ski lift. Even the guy at the Enterprise.
Enough about the outside, here's what you see when you walk in. Chandaliers I wanted to snag. The kind from cathedrals. And 30' ceilings. One heckuva lobby, for sure.
Here's a good lobby picture. Sorry, I have no idea how those crusty jet-lagged people got in my picture.
Everywhere I looked up, there was a surprise. And most of it came with Tiffany stained-glass inserts. Breathtaking.
But then we get a reality check....we are in the middle of nowhere after all, in a ski resort. So there's got to be a moose right? Just above the biggest fireplace I've ever seen.
When we finally made it to our room (one of two ways by the way...we could walk up the gorgeous grand staircase, OR take an elevator driven by a man who greeted you and stood with his nose two inches from the buttons, I called him Lerch....) we were greeted by another beautiful and appropriated decorated space.
I love that in all the renovations, they have maintained the period furniture and character of this space, with doors like this. Everything about the Mt. Washington is exactly as it should be.
Inside this comfortably elegant (which has been perfectly combined) hotel we discovered multiple restaurants, the spa, a "speakeasy" (AKA bar), flowershop, candyshop, clothing store, arcade, daycare, a post office, and oh geez, I can't even remember it all!
I cannot say enough about this place. I have so many memories about this too-quick, but so special birthday weekend. Jeff and I laugh and love wherever we go, but staying here made it that much more "grand."
Next up, now that you know "Where We Stayed," I'll let you in on "What We Did!!"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Welcome to Walmart!

I am never capable of recapping a wish in a short manner, so bare with me if I'm long-winded. I can never seem to sift through all my pictures and just pick a few, they all carry such specific and precious memories of the day, and I want to tell everyone about each minute, so it's like you're all there with me. So I'll do my best, and try not to ramble.... (hold your comments please....) This precious blondie below, Austin, is 11. My buddy has Muscular Dystrophy, and so when Make-A-Wish came to him and asked him what his biggest wish in the whole wide world is....well, he said he wanted to go to Walmart. :) So that's what we did! We blew his mind when we picked him up in this stretch limo, and headed to our SuperWalmart, with his whole family in tow! And with a sneaky heads-up phone call...the Walmart cheerleaders were outside ready for us when we pulled up with a "Gimme a 'A'!" Gimme a 'U'!" to spell out Austin! I think it might have startled him so much he said, "Um, I'll just stay in the limo a minute!"
When we got out, and made it through the crowds of people trying to sneak a peek at my little celebrity man, we met our personal shopper for the day (fancy shmancy, right?) Robert. He was such a HUGE help, and so very kind to Austin. He was at his beck and call every step of the way.
And Austin knew exactly where to head first...."Let's start with Electronics, please Robert!" :) He requested to look at TVs, and said he figured a 32" Visio LCD HD would probably do. Not specific at all, right!?
People would stop left and right to see what the fuss is about, which I personally love. I feel like they're not looking at a sick kid, and never want my wish kids to feel like that. But I hype them up and make sure they know they are THE MOST important people in that store for the whole day! It's THEIR WISH DAY! So when people stop, and look, it's because we're exploding with balloons, and signs, and cameras, and personal shoppers: because I'm in the presence of magic! The stores will get on their intercoms and give "shout outs" to our kids, make them their own signs, and gifts, and definitely treat them like royalty. And they do, truly soak it up. Case in point: Out of the blue this man below came out of an aisle and said, "Excuse me sir (to Austin) but can I take my picture with you?!! You must be famous or something!" And Austin said, "Sure, of course you can!" And played right into it! I can only imagine (and hope) how special he was feeling inside.
We stayed in electronics for 45 minutes and blew through 3/4 of our budget just like that! We snagged a TV, an ipod, a digital camera, a Blueray player, a laptop with all the accessories, a Playstation 3, and Band Hero!
Next up was a bicycle. And a specific kind too, and just like magic, there was one left. :) This bike is more than special, because we don't know how long his little legs will let him ride, so thank the Lord there was just what he wanted!
There is a lot to love about this little guy. One is that he would stop roaming the aisles long enough for me to take just ONE picture with him!!
Shortly after, he went back to realizing how famous he he started striking a pose.
His grandparents came too, who he clearly loves very much!
Once we racked up all we could, down to the penny (actually $2.47 over...but I'll spot him, he's worth it) we told him to roll on to counter #14 where of course we had VIP treatment for checkout of our 3 buggies full! And off he went!
And the rest of us finally caught up! Mom with Austin's precious sister and brother, two cousins, and grandparents. Thank goodness everyone was there....he's a wild one! Terri and I appreciate all the buggy help!
With that, I presented Austin with this 2,000 dolla bills touch one more time....then kiss it goodbye! He turned it over to the Walmart cashier and she rung up all his prizes for the day!
One pit stop before heading home was Applebees, and Austin's request, where again we were treated like nothing but royalty!
Austin regained some strength with a healthy portion of a rack of ribs!
On the limo ride home, Black Eyed Peas song came on "Time of My Life" and his mom said Austin, this is your theme song today! And I think nothing could really be more fitting! He really did have the time of his life, and we all sang it at the top of our lungs and danced like fools in that limo all the way home, laughing and cutting up like the rockstars we were!