What a Big Pickle You Have

The day after all of this happened, I got to meet up with yet another of my bestest bloggy buddies, Jules.  The last time we saw each other was on a hot and sunny day in New York City for BlogHer about a year and a half ago.  The weather was a bit chillier this time, and the location wasn’t quite as urban, but I wouldn’t have missed the chance to see her again, especially since I was on her home turf!

We planned to meet at a very famous deli, conveniently located right next to my hotel, called Harold’s.

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Now, you might be wondering what is so darn impressive about Harold’s that would cause Jules to suggest this as our lunch spot, except for the convenient location, of course.  Well, Harold’s is famous for 2 things . . . the enormous size of its portions and the World’s Biggest Pickle Bar.

What big cakes you have there.

What big cakes you have there.

This was my first visit to the establishment, so I was a rookie to all things Harold’s.  Val had provided a few tips about the place, having visited a few times prior, and Jules had not been there since her teenaged years, so we settled in and looked over the expansive menu.  It was impressive.  And expensive.  A sandwich would run you about $20.  Some of the menu items were upwards of $50.  It was pretty crazy.  But like I said, the portions were enormous and every order came with unlimited visits to that pickle bar I mentioned earlier.

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Once we placed our order for a very traditional deli sandwich, corned beef, of course, we had time to peruse the inside of the napkin provided.  It was very educational:

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Yiddish 101

As we were waiting for our meal, the people at the table next to us were served their lunch.  The one item was so impressive, I had to ask if I could take a picture of it.  They very graciously allowed it.

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World’s Largest Blueberry Pancake

When our meal arrived, we finally understood why it was a $20 sandwich.  Big enough to share, we had only ordered the one sandwich, and were not disappointed with the amount of food provided.

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That sucker was big enough for each of us to have a half of the sandwich there, then take home the remaining meat to make more sandwiches later in the week.  I don’t know about Jules, but I got three more sandwiches out of it!  Now that’s a value.  Of course, it was lean and tender and delicious.  And the pickles that accompanied it were also fabulous.

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Jules in action, picking her pickles.

But!  Not only did we have a delicious lunch, yummy pickles and fabulous conversation, but Jules even provided dessert!

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Best. Cookies. EVER.

Yes, that is indeed 2 whole bags of triple chocolate chip cookies, lovingly homemade by Jules and given to yours truly.  Diet?  What diet?  They were probably the best cookies I’ve ever tasted in my life.  No hyperbole.  For real.

Sadly, Jules and I had to say adieu, when she dropped me at the train station to catch my train home.  I held out on eating any of the cookies (I was stuffed full of meat and pickles, so it wasn’t too hard), until after I passed Philly.  Sort of a “I made it through the danger zone” celebratory treat, if you will.  We’re not even gonna talk about the fact that I misread the departure time on my ticket, thus almost missing my train home.  Nope.  Let’s just focus on the cookies.  Delicious, delicious cookies.  Mmmmmm.

Thus ends the tales from my visit to the great state of Jersey.  Good friends, yummy treats and gay bars.  What more could a girl ask for?

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Shenanigans with Val: A Fist Pumping Time on the Jersey Shore

Despite Philly’s best efforts to keep me away, I did finally make it up to Jersey to see Val.  As I mentioned in the previous post, my train arrived an hour later than expected, so it gave Val plenty of time to make a stop at the liquor store and pick up some “welcome to Jersey” beer.  When I arrived, I was greeted not only by Val’s beautiful and smiling face, but this gorgeous creature as well:

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That’s right . . . that says Chocolate Peanut Butter beer.  Sounds revolting, right?  It was either going to be completely disgusting, or unbelievably amazing.  But with a name like Sweet Baby Jesus, how could Val resist buying it?  So, we tried it.  And it was . . . thick and dark and pretty revolting.  But, not being punk bitches, we split it and each finished our half.  It sort of grew on you after a bit, and really, even bad beer is still beer.  But, I wouldn’t exactly recommend it, in case you were wondering.

After the beer was opened, Val gave me my Xmas present that she had been holding until we saw each other.  It was a myriad of radness all in one sparkly snowman bag:

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So. Much. Goodness.

But, what isn’t pictured is the best part of the entire gift!  Unfortunately, it was in one of those impenetrable plastic wrapped cases that I couldn’t break into.  Fortunately, Val came prepared and had no problem ripping right into that sucker.

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Plastic containers are no match for brass knuckles with a handy dandy hidden switch blade attachment!  And what was this wondrous item that Val was so helpfully and skillfully sawing open?  Well, just the most perfect and awesome thing ever!

Fuzzy Flask!!

Fuzzy Flask!!

Once I was properly presented and unpacked, I got ready to leave the room for the rest of the night.  However, since we didn’t expect to return to the room until our festivities were over at the end of the evening, I had to get dressed and ready to be out for the night. This meant clothing and make-up that I would not usually wear at 3:00 in the afternoon.  But then again, I was in Jersey.  So really, it was de rigueur, so I got ready for the night.  Once I was properly shellacked, we were off to our destination . . . Asbury Park.

Our plan was to meet one of Val’s friends, Stephanie, to get mani/pedis before we grabbed some food and then later went to a club.  But, we arrived early, and once we circled around the very trendy and popular downtown area in our attempt to find someplace to park, we finally lucked out and got a spot on a side street, and when we realized that we would have to wait for Stephanie for a bit (and that we both really had to pee), we decided to stop into the bar that we just happened to park right in front of.  We still have no idea what the name of the bar was, only seeing a symbol of an eye everywhere we looked, but there were so many beards and knit caps, that it was probably called something like The Hipster’s Den or We Liked It First, or something.  But still, we both had a beer, some pork fries (yum!), and Val got herself a new Mason jar glass.  So, it was all good.

Once we received word that Stephanie had arrived at the nail salon which was just around the corner, we finished our beer and fries and headed on over.  We all lined up in our chairs to get our toes done, and when I looked down, I realized they had some sort of fancy light system going on that changed the color of the lights every few seconds.  It was pretty cool.

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Once our toes were properly painted and beautified, we moved on to our next destination.  A bar called Johnny Mack’s.

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This particular bar, Val and Steph’s favorite, was distinctive because you got free pizza when you bought beer, plus there were mannequins and free candy!  Sounds good.

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What was also interesting was the décor.  There was writing all over the walls, and even on lamps and trashcans (mostly song lyrics on those) and on the tables and chairs.  In fact, at one point, I looked up and saw this really funky lamp over top of me and decided to take a picture.  To which Val had to add her own special brand of accompaniment, of course.

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The only bad thing about the joint was that when I went to the extremely dark bathroom, I took off my mustache mood ring to wash my hands (it’s cheap and turns when it gets wet), and left it on the shelf below the soap dispenser.  It was so dark in there you could not even see yourself in the mirror.  So, I missed it sitting there, completely forgot about it, and didn’t remember it existed until I went to wash my hands at our next destination and it wasn’t there.  And when I called, only about an hour later, they were just too damn busy for anyone to venture to the bathroom to check.  As you might imagine, nobody turned it in.  Much sadness ensued.

But, let us not dwell on unfortunate incidents, and instead move along to our next destination . . . a gay bar in a hotel near the Jersey shore.  The hotel itself is actually a gay destination (so says Wikipedia) called The Empress.  I am unaware of the actual name of the bar (seems to be a theme for the night), but was greeted by this upon our entrance, so it was sure to be a good time:

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We arrived early enough to experience the famous country line dancing that occurred before 10:00 at night, where they set up actual fences around the dance floor.  Apparently, these dancers are serious about their line dancing, so much so that the security personnel feel the need to frantically warn you off of venturing within the corral as you stand and watch, imagining the carnage which would for sure ensue for the uninitiated.

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While we awaited the end of the spectacle, we got a few beverages and perused some lovely and readily available reading material scattered around the club.

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We eventually meandered over into a side room with a bar, a dance floor and some sofas, along with 80’s dance videos playing, which was practically empty.  We settled in, watched some videos, and were there to watch some of the characters who eventually joined us over in this sad little side room.  Val met this lovely older queen, and they hit it off famously!

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There were also a few lovely ladies who graced us with some dance moves out on the floor and were just the cutest things:

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In case you are wondering, Val is the only one in those above pictures with original girl body parts.  But, they were rocking their dresses, let me tell you.

Once the night moved into the wee hours (and I started falling asleep, despite the loud, bass thumping music), the real entertainment arrived.

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Much to the enjoyment of the regular clientele, I assure you.  We were told by what I can only assume was the only straight man there (the security guy), that the place didn’t really get jumping until after 12:30, but by that time, we were all pretty exhausted and ready to head out.  So, while I don’t think I experienced the club at its prime, I was assured that if I returned in the summer, when they opened up the pool deck and things really heat up, that I would get to really see it at its best and have a grand time.  So, I guess I’ll need to make a trip back to Jersey in the summer months then.

The next day I returned home to the safety of Maryland, but not before having lunch with my bloggy friend Jules at the infamous Harold’s deli.  But that’s an entirely separate and wonderful story that I will report on in a future post.  There was just too much good stuff in Jersey for merely 2 posts.  Stay tuned . . . again.

The Perils of Travel

This past weekend, I took a trip up to New Jersey to see my good bloggy friends Val, and then Jules.  Opting not to drive, I booked a ticket on Amtrak, so that I wouldn’t have to deal with traffic and could just sit back, read a book, and arrive in about two and a half hours.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezey!

Yeah, or so I thought.  See, here’s the thing about me . . . I am a disaster when it comes to traveling by myself.  Traveling with my hubs and kids?  Cake.  Me on my own . . . tragic.  Lest you think I’m being melodramatic, let’s review . . .

Trip to Ocean City, MD, last year to meet my hubs and kids, who were already down there:

I left work a bit early to try to miss some traffic.  However, it is raining and a Friday evening . . . so, before I go 2 miles, I hit a ton of traffic.  Uh oh.  Then, once I start to move a bit, and obviously get overconfident that I might make up a bit of time . . . dead stopped cars.  I discover that there is a huge accident on the upcoming bridge, halting all movement for about 15 miles.  15 miles!  Of completely stopped traffic, just sitting in the rain.  So, yeah . . .all by myself, sitting in the car, inching along little by little, for hours.  Not a great trip. It took me almost 5 hours to make a 2 and a half hour trip.

Trip to NYC for Blogger, summer of 2012:

Flight to NYC, due to arrive at around 10:00 pm, stopover in Philly.  I blogged about this here, but short story is that there was a massive storm, halting all flights out of Philly, so I was stranded there for hours, until I wrangled my way onto a flight at around midnight.  Then, when I finally arrived in NYC around 1:30 in the morning, I find that the room I had booked many months ago, and confirmed the week prior, was not available.  And on the return trip . . . the flight out of NYC was delayed, causing me to miss my flight out of (you guessed it) Philly, and have an extra hour and a half to wait for the next available flight.

Which brings us to this past weekend . . . and a train ride:

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Here it comes . . .

I made sure I was plenty early for my 10:47 am train.  In fact, I arrived so early, I sat in my car for 20 minutes before I ventured down to the tracks.  As I stood on the platform, waiting for the train that was due to arrive in about 5 minutes, an announcement informed me that the train was running about 10 minutes late.  It was cold and windy on that platform.  But I stood there.  And waited.

The train finally arrived, and I moved to get on.  As the door opened, I realized that there was quite a gap between the platform and the train, probably a good foot and a half, and I was mentally trying to figure out how my rolling bag would make it over such a gap.  Then, I stepped onto the train, and my foot hit wet metal and started sliding.  You know how they say your life is supposed to flash before your eyes when something happens?  Well, what was flashing in front of my eyes was the huge crevice below me as my ass started falling towards the tracks.  I will attest to that whole slow motion thing, though.  As I reached out to attempt to grab onto something, anything, to stop my rapid decent, I found that there was nothing in arms reach to gain purchase upon, and I continued falling down, down, down.  Somehow, I landed in such a way that most of me stayed on the train landing.  When my fall finally came to a stop, I was lucky to only be looking down at the tracks, and not broken and bent, down below the train, as I had feared and imagined while falling.  But, I was fine.  A bit bruised from crashing to the metal landing, and having my shin hit the edge of the train, apparently, but fine.  Although, my heart was beating a bit more rapidly than a few minutes prior, that’s for sure.

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Sweet bruise.

As the journey began, I settled into my seat and tried to forget about the near death experience I had just encountered.  Everything was going smoothly . . . until we arrived in Philly.  As passengers got onto the train, a lady sat across the aisle from me and began unwrapping the most fragrant and delicious smelling cheese steak I’d ever encountered.  Having yet to eat that day, it was intoxicating.  Then, just as a little bit of drool started pooling atop the book I was reading . . . it all went dark.  Total power failure and we were underneath large concrete overpasses, so it was very dark.  So, we sat there.  In the dark.  With no idea what was happening.

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This is when the zombies would attack . . .

It was the longest time until I finally figured out what was happening.  Luckily, cheese steak lady was an Amtrak employee, so a guy came onto the train and started chatting with her about what was going on.  Otherwise, I would have been cluelessly left sitting in the dark.  Apparently, they had to change engines.  Oh that.  Sure, of course.  Uh huh.  Wait . . . what???  Yes, they were changing the engine.  I guess it was lucky that our engine died while we were stopped at a station, at least.  Crazy.  Oh, did I mention this was in my old friend, Philly?  Yeah, I’ve never actually been to Philly, but strangely, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in transportation stops in that place.  That’s how Philly and I roll.

So, eventually they got the new engine and the lights and power were once again functioning.  And we were off . . . merely an hour late.

Let there be light!

Let there be light!

Eventually, I made it to my destination.  And was met with Val and beer!  You know, because she knows me.  She was my chauffeur for the day, so she drove us to the hotel I was staying in that evening.  When I arrived, everything in the lobby was roped off with yellow tape and there were signs asking us to “Excuse our dust” as they were renovating.  Ok, no problem.  I wasn’t planning to camp out in the lobby anyway.  After I was given my room key, we went over to the elevators and were greeting by a gaping maw, all covered up with cardboard and hanging movers’ rugs.  Hmmm, that’s strange.

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Then, we arrive at my room.  And just before I open the door, I hear this very loud humming sound.  Once I opened the door, I was greeted by one of those huge rug drying machines on full blast, sitting in the middle of the floor, along with the window AC blasting air on high.  Nope, no thank you.  New room, please.  So, we trudge all the way back downstairs, assuming that the elevator and room were both part of some murder spree and clean up effort that recently occurred. The front desk guy tried to cover up by saying it was a “broken pipe on the 5th floor,” but Val and I knew better.  The next room was right across the hall, and while there was no blood stains or drying machine, it did have a funky smell.  Then, as we were in there a few minutes, we started to hear these banging sounds that sounded like they were coming from the bathroom.  There was nobody in the bathroom, so we figured that it was probably ghosts.  Upon further inspection, though, I did find this in the bathroom on the soap ledge in the shower:

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Such a classy joint.  Luckily, we had beer and a fun night out planned to distract us from the murder/pube hotel.  Which I will tell you all about in an upcoming post.  So, stay tuned for tales of the Jersey shenanigans that ensued later that day.  Cheers!

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What I Did on My Winter Vacation . . .

Hey guys, remember me?  The former blogger that used to hang out on here every week or so?  You know . . . the girl with cute toes, bangs, and who occasionally wrote witty blog posts?  No, not ringing a bell?  Well, let me re-introduce myself to y’all then . . . Hi, I’m Misty.  How ya doing?

Since it’s been quite a while since you’ve heard from me, I figured I would give you an update on what’s been going on with me since I last checked in.  Before I get back to my normally brilliant and award-winning posts*, you’ll get this little update post.  Ok?  Ok, then.

* Neither brilliant NOR award-winning.

Val and I had a quick visit right before Xmas to exchange presents and get our toes done.

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Pretty holiday feets!

Even though, technically, we didn’t exchange since she didn’t bring my present with her, but she tells me that I will receive it when I visit her up in Jersey in a few weeks, and really, I was more excited to see her reaction to the presents I bought for her anyway.

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Dr. Hooves!

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Zombie mug!

Since they both received the Val lick of approval, I’m pretty sure I nailed it.  Huzzah!

Once Val was taken care of, I had to move on to the main event . . . the big C!  And this time, I mean it in a good (albeit stressful and completely insane) way . . . Christmas.  So, to get prepared, I needed to wrap.  So, I locked myself in my bedroom, pulled out all the gifts for the kids and family (and husband), and thus commenced a 2 day wrapping extravaganza!

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Although, towards the evening of the first day, I started getting somewhat parched.  Wrapping can really make a girl thirsty!  So, before I settled in for another few hours of back-breaking work (seriously, you sit on the floor hunched over wrapping paper for like 8 hours and not feel like you have a broken back when you finally try to stand up!), I decided that I needed some reinforcements.  Since I was quickly running out of time to whip up a few cocktails I had been meaning to try in preparation for my Xmas eve gathering of family at my house, I figured there was no better time than the present.  So, I whipped them up, got a tray, and carted those suckers upstairs to finish Day 1 of wrapping, while watching a little Elf and getting a nice buzz on.  And let me tell you . . . those gifts looked so good!!

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We had our annual holiday party at work where there was a White Elephant exchange, which should more aptly be called the liquor exchange, since that’s pretty much what everyone brings.  Not that anyone’s complaining!  This was my score:

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The wine is actually from my secretary and the champagne is leftover from a champagne punch made for the party.  Yep, good haul.  Oh, and I also met a little mini-me, in the form of one of my colleague’s kids!

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Twins!

And of course, ’tis the season to listen to festive holiday CDs in your car, made for you specifically by your good friend, Andrea.

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The evening before The Big Day, my kids were keeping close tabs on where that Jolly Old Fat Man was in the world, so they would know when they needed to be fast asleep.

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Training for future careers with the NSA.

Once Christmas morning arrived, as always, it was a normal crazy present-fest in the Laws household.  The kids tore through wrapping paper like it was their jobs, and the hubs and I sat drinking our coffee and putting batteries into the numerous items that required them, with our anxious and impatient children hovering over our heads, ready to snatch the coveted object the moment the cover was snapped back into place.  Good times, good times.

And lest you think the hubs and I didn’t participate in the gift exchange festivities, well . . . I see we haven’t met yet.  Suffice to say that the hubs and I excel at gift giving.  Need proof?  Please refer back to this little item, wherein I gave him a CAR for our anniversary!  Yeah, that’s how we roll.  (On another note, you would think buying my husband a huge gift like that a mere 2 months ago would give me a pass for having to come up with a special Xmas gift for him this year . . . you would think.  Sigh).  Anyway, this was the pile of presents waiting for me from him on Xmas morning . . .

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I was a VERY good girl!

And yes, if you are observant, you will note the 1D wrapping paper.  Last year it was Justin Bieber.  So, at least he’s keeping up with the tween heart-throb trend of the moment.  But the very first gift I opened from him wasn’t very humorous.  It hit a bit too close to home, despite my husband’s claims that the name on the tag is of a very trendy and reputable store in London and that it’s not a joke.  Sure.

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Ouch.

Although, after that unfortunately named gift, there were may more gifts to open and there was much silliness to be found . . .

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Because of my well-known love of fishing, naturally.

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Mmmmm, Bacon!

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Either the hubs realizes my love of both of these mens’ characters on their hit shows, or maybe he thinks I’m a gay man? Meh, probably the first one.

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Well, he got this right at least!

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Um, no. I am SO not a leather skirt kind of girl.

Oh, and you’re probably wondering what was in that big box, right?  (What’s in the box?  What’s in the box?!?!?!).  Well, that gift was not a joke.  Ahhh, the hubs knows me so well!

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Wine party at my house, you guys!!  You bring the wine, and I’ll chill it for you.  Bam!  Just like that.

The rest of the day went by very quickly, and involved more gifts, lots of food and drinks, and too many family members to count!  By the end of the day, as always, the hubs and I were beat and the kids were buzzing like they were on a 3 day sugar high.  Once we finally herded them up to bed, we crashed on the couch and didn’t even come close to getting through our yearly traditional viewing of White Christmas.  I think the hubs was out by Snow (possibly even Sisters), and I only made it until Choreography before I had to shut it off and call it a Xmas.

A couple days later, we took the kids on a quick trip up to New York City for their first time ever.  But, despite only being two days, it felt like a millennium, and we experienced a ton of stuff, so I think I’ll save that for a separate post.  Don’t wanna overdo it on my first trip back into the blogosphere after so long.  I wouldn’t want to pull a hammy!

So, how was your holiday break?  Do anything fun and exciting?  Share with the class . . .