Saturday, December 13, 2014

26 and Counting

I made it to 26! It's not that I'm surprised, just proud of where I'm at. Over the past year I've focused on doing things for myself and moving in a direction that I truly want. I'm single for basically the first time in my life, I made a significant career move within my company, traveled to new places, and have spent more personal time with my friends and family, especially Mila.

While the bond with my daughter is hands down my most important relationship, the one I have with myself is a close second. For the first time in years I'm really getting to know who I am without outside influence. So while it may seem self centered, my list this year is 26 facts about me. Some I'm just finding out and others are well established, 26 on my 26th in 3, 2, 1...

1. I love to be the first to crack the sugary shell of creme brûlée. I didn't realize how much I love this until my friend Rachel beat me to it the other night. 
1.B. Creme brûlée is my favorite dessert, bread pudding is second, then brownies. Or maybe waffles?
2. I have nine pillows on my bed, sleep with six, but only really use one. Maybe two depending on my mood. 
3. I'm obsessed with paper straws and have a paper straws dealer. Her name is Brittany
4. I really like spicy food. I am so immune, it surprises me when someone says what I'm eating is spicy. I've recently noticed a parallel in that I'm a very strong person emotionally. It surprises me when someone says what I'm going through is tough when it hasn't really had an impact on me. 
5. Only two of my really close friends I've met after the age of 16.
6. Almost none of the furniture in my house matches. And no, not because they're hand-me-downs, because I like it like that. 
6.B. I even own two couches that are different colors, one is blue and one is green. And I have a lime green hutch, and a yellow chandelier.
7. Speaking of which, yellow is my favorite color. 
8. I refuse to ever own a car that isn't an SUV. Been there, done that, won't go back. 
9. I love Jonah Hill so much I named my dog after him. 
9.B. I hope to one day own a cat named Elephant. 
10. I was given my Kitchen Aid as a gift when I graduated from high school. I was told I could ask for anything, that's what I wanted.
11. I have hundreds of books on my "To Read or Reread" list.
12. Tulips are my favorite flower, but I always say I prefer lilies because they were my Uncle Richard's favorite before he died. 
12.B. I never met my Uncle Richard, he died six months before I was born, but I feel I have more in common with him than anyone else in my family. 
13. I love surprises more than I can even explain. Probably because I'm so difficult to surprise. 
14. When I was a kid I decided where I'd get married and what I'd wear, it has never changed. 
15. I pray a lot more than people would guess.
16. I have a saxophone "A" key on a long chain I wear around my neck. It's my absolute favorite piece of jewelry. 
17. Tea over coffee. Amy over Tina. Chocolate over vanilla (but never chocolate sauce--gross).
18. When I'm nervous or uncomfortable I say the strangest things, which only makes the situation worse. It's a gift.  
19. Future homeowner goals include: owning way more art, gratuitous Christmas decorations, and an extra bedroom I can make into a closet. 
20. Speaking of Christmas decorations, when I was a kid, I used to pretend that everyone was decorating their houses for my birthday. I still do this. 
21. Cole Porter is my default and favorite Pandora station. 
22. While I consider myself overly emotional, I've gotten very good at controlling them. Unless I'm angry--that's my weakness. 
23. When I started getting tattoos, I promised my mom I'd never tattoo my chest or legs. I fully intend to never break that promise. 
24. I rarely eat the desserts I make. 
25. I love vintage pieces, from furniture, to knickknacks, to clothes and jewelry. They're unique and have lived an entire life we can never know about, I like to imagine they'll keep on living even after their time with me.
26. I have a secret spot. All I'll say is that it's on the Loop in Ormond Beach and that I used to skip school to go there and drink beer.


Friday, November 14, 2014

My Dad's 60th Birthday

Dear Popedose,

Happy 60th Birthday! Can you believe it? You still seem like a kid to me. You've always been the biggest kid I know, like Peter Pan, you refuse to grow up. I suppose that would make me the lost boy in the skunk suit, your right-hand best-man.

You're one of my favorite people in the whole world, certainly the man who means the most to me. I can't imagine life 60 years and one day ago, a time before you were born. It must have been terrible. Not a life I ever hope to know.

In the (almost) 26 years you and I have spent together, you've taught me more than any one person, school, or experience could. You taught me how to be a wonderful friend, thoughtful and loyal, (my best trait) and to have an undeniably hard work ethic. But you've also taught me hundreds of corky bits along the way and that is what I'd like to focus on now. So without further ado, here are 60 of my most favorite, hilarious things I've learned from you, my dad.

1. One must always check the left hand ring finger of a woman before trying to pick her up for Dad. (I've learned to adapt this lesson to my personal dating life now.)
2. One will always get better service sitting at the bar, even if One is five-years-old.
3. If One has an SUV or a motorcycle, One can park anywhere.
4. Cooking hack #1: use Italian breadcrumbs as "seasoning" they are already seasoned and provide texture.
5. Wine from a jug is good too. (Boxed wine is not exempt from this rule.)
6. Mushrooms are gross, don't eat them.
7. Always carry a knife.
8. A can of spray paint can fix almost any shoe emergency...
9. Similarly, a roll of duck tape can fix almost any car emergency.
10. Change the oil in One's car often, motor heads DO explode.
11. Dad cannot fix every car emergency with duck tape (see #10).
12. If One breaks into the mayor's house and gets arrested, One's dad will take it to the grave.
13. The proper way to hang toilet paper is over, not under.
14. Van Morrison was right when he said that girls get dressed up for each other.
15. Two twelve-year-olds can be trusted to paint a room with little supervision.
16. If One is going to wake Dad early on the weekends, One must make Dad coffee first...
17. Unless One is grown, in which case One must share a 7AM beer with Dad.
18. Morning peptalks from Dad are cherished, regardless of how One acts...
19. So are threats to new boyfriends.
20. Eventually One will miss both 18 & 19.
21. Staying up late to listen to records is never a bad idea.
22. "Biker Trash" is not actually a derogatory term.
23. Speaking of which, bikers are some of the best people on the planet.
24. Driving under the age of 16 is only okay if Dad needs One to do so. One mustn't get caught.
25. Dad knows all the tricks in the book, One will never get away with anything. (Outside because the cat got out? In that outfit? Nice try, you were sneaking out.)
26. One is to contact Nana often if One desires to remain in the will.
27. Family can be chosen. One can pick family members regardless of age, bloodline, ethnicity, geographical location, musical taste, political justification, or crinkle or fold preference.
28. Cooking hack #2: eggs and bacon can, in fact, be cooked in one skillet. It is called Eggs Quicksilver and it is delicious.
29. It is acceptable for One to play hookie, as long as Dad plays too.
30. Boyfriends are allowed to spend the night but there has to be a hurricane and One must leave the door open.
31. One doesn't have to tell Dad who she loves, he already knows.
32. Cheer Dad will happily play defense against preteen football players while the cheerleaders get changed in the back of the Jeep.
33. Dad is cool enough to learn popular songs on the guitar to impress One and her friends.
34. Dad will never miss a graduation, even if One isn't issued a diploma (high school), if Nana takes a fall (junior college), or if there is basically no parking (university -- see #3).
35. Acceptable clothing can be purchased at Sears.
36. Canned cranberry sauce is delicious and should not be snubbed, neither should mashed turnips. It's not a holiday without mashed turnips.
37. Vacations with One's dad are NOT lame, they too will be missed.
38. Be confident, "walk in like you own the place."
39. One shall not bother Dad during a NASCAR Nap.
40. Morning people are more evolved. "If you want to hoot with the owls, you have to learn to crow with the roosters."
41. Cats are best, but dogs are pretty great too. (Rodents do not qualify as pets.)
42. Goldfish will die and Dad will replace them before One notices.
43. Law and Order SVU is the only good Law and Order, but One cannot watch it if children are involved. One will understand when she has her own children. (This turned out to be more true than I could have ever imagined.)
44. One should never have to choose between lobster and steak. Surf and Turf is always the answer.
45. Order a drink while at lunch with Nana, One deserves it.
46. Chinese take out and a good musical on cable is a fantastic way to spend a Friday night.
47. Never turn down a chance to dance, especially with a handsome man.
48. How to eat a cupcake: break the bottom off and make it into an icing sandwich--sheer brilliance.
49. A man cannot expect to get a woman into his bed if a man isn't willing to make said bed.
50. Everyone has a favorite Bond. (Mine is Pierce Brosnan.)
51. Although not legal, by Dad standards it's okay to drive to work with a cooler of beer in the car so One may enjoy a cold beverage on the ride home.
52. Christmas cards can be used as birthday, get well soon, thank you, or congratulations cards if the words "Merry Christmas" are crossed out.
53. Stay away from our South Carolina relatives on Facebook, we're related to 70% of the state.
54. Free beer is the second best kind of beer, cold free beer is the first.
55. Cooking hack #3: Cook with wine you like to drink. Obvious, but worth stating. 
56. Never accept a piece of art (by any definition of the word) from an artist, unless it's signed.
57. Swiss cheese is the superior sandwich cheese.
58. Publix is the ultimate grocery store. (I don't understand why you'd ever convert to Winn Dixie.)
59. Everyone--even parent--have sex in cars. Gross. 
60. Shots of Mount Gay are delicious and should be enjoyed often, especially on Dad's 60th birthday. "Over the teeth, through the gums, look out stomach, here it comes!"

So thank you, Dad, for the lessons and the laughs. I can't think of a better person for me to have grown up with, a better person for me to be best friends with today, or a better person to share my future with.

I love you,

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mila's Second 2nd Birthday Party

This time last week I was gearing up for Mila's second birthday. As you know, we had already celebrated with a pool party the Saturday before in my hometown. However, our local friends and family were unable to attend so on Wednesday, July 2nd (Mila's actual birthday), we hosted a small cocktail party at our house for those who missed the big pool party.

 At school on her 2nd birthday

For the cocktail party I made some easy desserts and hors d'oeuvres, as well as some Samoa cupcakes (based off the Girl Scout cookies) for Mila to take to school and for our guests to enjoy in place of a traditional birthday cake. We reused the decorations from the pool party and dug out outfits from our closets. It was a very simple, yet impacting, party!

Overall, both of Mila's birthday parties were a huge success. I'm glad that I didn't go as crazy as the year before, but I do admit that two parties may have been more than necessary. Regardless, they were a blast--for baby and mommy!


P.S. Mila took it upon herself to participate in the Cold Water Challenge during her second party. This resulted in me pulling her from the water and ripping off all her freezing, soaking wet clothes at lightning speed. I do not recommend this challenge for two-year-olds. With that said, she challenges Violet, Elsa, and Ariel.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fourth of July Weekend

The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. Summer, beach, friends, picnic food, beer, fireworks, there is nothing better. I especially love this holiday with a kid. Mila thinks that the Fourth is like a beach day on steroids--which is basically dead on.

This year one of my close friends decided to get married the Monday after the Fourth of July weekend so I planned on driving home and spending the Fourth with my friends and family on the East Coast. But I'm a sucker for traditions and after vowing to our St. Pete friends that we would spend every Fourth on the beach together, last minute I chose to stay to spend the holiday with them.

One of our friends claimed our beach spot with a group of local kite boarders around 8AM. This meant we ended up with two boats, two RVs, two multi-seater rafts, a fly board, jet ski, and about a dozen kite boards and wake boards along some prime real estate on Pass-a-Grill Beach. The day started off beautiful, but eventually got pretty windy--great weather for kite boarders and perfect timing for Mila's nap.

After a three hour nap, we grilled dinner by the RV and waited for the fireworks to start. Pass-a-Grill doesn't have its own fireworks display, but being that it is the most southern beach, you can see four different shows from there without all the noise--perfect for little ears!

The next morning Mila and I hit the road for Ormond Beach. After some car trouble and rain, we finally made it there in time for dinner at Papi's house. On Sunday we hit the beach where Mila caught some bait fish in her new Catch & Release Beach Aquarium. This tickled her to death, although she was not interested in actually touching the fish--some Florida girl she is--we're working on that.

As previously mentioned, one of my good friends, Tim, decided that the Monday after Fourth of July was the right day to get married. Being one of the first in our group to get married, I felt that I couldn't miss his big day. I requested off and spent the morning witnessing Tim marry the love of his life. 

It was a beautiful, small wedding at a riverside park in our hometown. Just close family and a handful of friends attended. Lauren wore an airy, white sundress and Tim wore the ugliest UF tie I've ever seen--regardless, it was perfect. The simplicity was actually quite lovely and the lack of stress and pressure for the "perfect wedding" added to the romance of the day. After the nuptials, Tim and Lauren went to lunch with their family while our friends went out for wings and beer. Simple and perfect.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Second Birthday Photo Shoot

A couple weeks ago we met Kaitlyn Stone from Katogenic Photography at Pass-a-Grill Beach just in time for the sunset. We were nervous about the weather, as that week had been dotted with heavy rain storms, but the day of the shoot the sun was out so we anticipated a lovely sunset. In the evening, the clouds started to roll in, resulting in one of the most beautiful and fantastic sunsets we've seen in a long time. Coincidentally, a gold hue was painted across the beach, perfectly complimenting Mila's golden birthday photo shoot.