Just Another Day in Paradise

So, as you can see, I’ve returned from my trip to paradise, aka Key West.  While the Northeast was getting hit by another winter weather event, do you know what we were being hit with in Key West?  Gentle sea breezes blowing in off of the water, as we sat on our veranda, drinking tropical beverages and warming ourselves in the 79* heat, under a brilliantly sunny blue sky.

It was torture.

Snow?  What's that?

Snow? What’s that?

But I missed home.  I mean really, who needs to wake up at 9:00 am and take your key lime colored coffee mug out to your hotel room’s balcony and watch the ships as they sail by, and the busy goings on down on the street below?  Not me, that’s for sure.  I’d much prefer bitter cold temps with wind chills below zero and lots of snow to shovel.  Good exercise is what that is.  None of this lazy, lounging around for me any more!

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And spa treatments?  Pfft, what am I, a Real Housewife?  You mean lounge around all day getting a massage and facial while drinking the most delicious (and why didn’t I think of that) strawberry infused water, while being completely pampered and spoiled by the spa staff?  No thank you, I’d prefer to just go to work and get yelled at all day.  Much more rewarding.

Key west spa

And speaking of drinking, I definitely don’t miss the Key Lime Pie Martini, served to me as we dined on a private island just off of Key West, while experiencing one of the most delicious meals I have ever tasted, sitting al fresco and gazing at the gently lapping waters on the beach just beyond the restaurant’s patio.  Nope, that’s crazy talk.  Who would miss that?  Back to just plain old water and sensible meals now that I’m home.  That’s so much better.

Key west martini

And whimsy?  Who needs whimsy?  Key West was lousy with it, I tell you.  From glowing menus, to flashing mugs filled with daiquiris, to viewing a sunset on an island where wild deer roam the beach.  It’s all just a bunch of poppycock!  Good riddance, I say.

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Not to mention all of the celebration!  A person could get a swelled head with all that attention.  Apparently, the hubs called ahead to the island, because it seemed as if everywhere we went, someone was wishing me a Happy Birthday and bringing me treats.  Sparkling Key Lime pie, mid-afternoon room service of champagne and strawberries, mid-afternoon room service of margaritas, with chips & salsa, Happy Birthday spelled out on a dessert, a special birthday menu delivered to me rolled up like a scroll . . . all way over the top and way too much celebratory nonsense for this unassuming, level-headed girl.  I mean really, it wasn’t even my birthday anymore!  For shame, Key West.  For shame.

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Oh, and don’t get me started on the gorgeous sunsets and outdoor scenery.  It’s enough to make you sick!  Much better to be surrounded by the brown and white that is presently plaguing us at home.  That way, we get to be the ones to shine in our brightly colored snowpants and fuzzy hats!  Who would even notice us in our shorts and sandals, surrounded by all that beauty in Key West?  Nobody.  Nobody would ever see us.  Or find us . . . hmmmm.

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So, like I said, it is really great to be home.  In fact, we returned just in time to experience a fresh coating of snow, and it looks like despite a brief respite that is reminiscent of the Key West weather, we will soon return to those winter-like weather conditions.  Who needs Key West?  Not this girl.  Nope.  I’m definitely not dreaming of the day when I can finally retire from my hateful job and move to a bungalow on the island, while the hubs goes out fishing every day and I lay in the sun, relaxing and writing, resting up for my job as a bartender at night in one of the “locals” bars.  Yeah, that’s absolutely ridiculous, and I’m frankly offended that you would even suggest it.  I mean, who am I . . . Hemingway?  Sheesh!

One Year Closer to Death

So, my birthday was last week.  And I survived it.

If you are new here, you might not be aware that I am cursed.  My birthdays typically suck and/or some tragedy occurs on or around it as a result of my bad birthday mojo.  This year, I was going to try to escape the angel of death by being completely and absolutely still, and hoping it would just pass right by me.  I thought I had escaped it unscathed this time.  Until the next day.

(If you’d like a rundown of past birthday suckage, and no, I was not exaggerating about the death part, go here to edumacate yourself).

Actually, this year, the birthday angel lulled me into a false sense of security.  The week preceding my birthday was going swimmingly.  My colleagues took me out to lunch, unprompted, to a very nice restaurant, and actually paid for my lunch.  This is huge, as in preceding years, they have failed to even acknowledge that I had ever been born.  Not just that, but when I arrived at work 2 days before my birthday, I found this waiting for me:

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It was from my secretary, whom I believe I have previously mentioned as being quite rad.  It contained a bottle of wine, wine glasses, nail polish and plastic utensils.  A bit of an inside joke, there, but basically for my lunches at work.  See?  Rad.

The day prior to my birthday, I actually received a card from everyone at work.  Another rare occurrence that doesn’t happen every year.  In fact, I believe this is the first year that I received it on time, and that I didn’t have to basically give to myself.  That was another fun one.

Then, after work, I ran to the mall to take advantage of a few free birthday treats that I was to receive before the end of the month.  Sephora was giving out a little mini pack of lipstick & mascara, I had a free coupon for a smoothie, and I had received an email for $15 off any purchase at Ann Taylor, so I hit the sale rack and walked away with 2 sweaters for a mere $20.  Once I also completed the few returns I had to make while in the mall, I came out square.  Free mall trip, woo hoo!!

bday mall treats

When I returned home that evening, I found that I had even more birthday treats waiting for me.  There was this huge box that had arrived from my good friend Andrea.  I was doubly impressed that it arrived the day before my birthday, as she is notoriously (and adorably) Post Office averse.  Case in point . . . last year’s birthday package arrived at the end of March.  So, she really got it in gear this year, and made it a day early.  I am very impressed!

bday package

Inside, I found 4 gorgeous martini glasses and some mini bottles of booze.  Hmmm, anyone else sensing a trend here?  What do you think people are trying to say about me with their gift choices?  I cannot figure it out.

After a quick review of the contents of the box, and a quick change out of my work clothes, I then jetted off to have dinner with another good friend and her daughter.  We went to my favorite local sushi place, and she too showered me with presents and bought me dinner.  It was a very good day, to say the least, and it wasn’t even my birthday yet!

On the actual day, I was playing it coy and low key, so I took the day off of work, slept in, and generally relaxed for most of the day.  Granted, there was laundry and packing to do for my upcoming trip, but that wasn’t too much of a chore, considering.  It was a lovely, stress-free day that I quite enjoyed.

Once my kids got home from school, though, the exciting festivities began.  I came downstairs to encounter the kitchen transformed into a tropical paradise.  I was informed that this birthday’s theme would be “warm weather.”  As long as I remained indoors, I could very easily go along with this fantasy.

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Then there were the gifts.  For my birthday, I asked the hubs to get 2 things for me . . . a suitcase and new leather gloves.  Since my current pair look like this:

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He came through on both, so he did a great job.  But he didn’t stop there, of course. Because he’s him, and there are always more gifts.  More . . . interesting . . . gifts.  Such as . . .

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Movies?

And then, of course, there was another gift following my own personal birthday theme . . .

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There is gonna be some drinking going on up in he-ah!

And . . .

bday napkins

Classy? Sure, let’s go with that.

Then I opened this one . . . in front of my kids.  Yeah, thanks hubs.

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Front . . .

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Back.

Well, it is the 50th Anniversary edition, so really, it’s a super special gift.  Right?  Uh huh.

The next day I had to go to work.  Which sucked, but I just didn’t have enough leave to take that day off as well since I would be leaving early and getting on a jet plane (don’t know when I’ll be back again) . . . and heading to Key West for 3 days.  Or at least . . . I thought I was.  Until I received the call from school telling me that my youngest son had a temperature and had to go home.  Since the hubs was home that day, he picked him up and took him to the doc’s real quick.  Then I got the text:  Strep.  And then I had to make a decision:  go home to take care of my son or leave for Key West in 4 hours.

At that point, the mama bear gene kicked in big time and I started freaking out.  I didn’t want to go on vacation.  I mean I really wanted to go, but I didn’t want to just leave my sick son with my brother in law while I jetted off to a tropical vacation.  That felt very wrong, somehow, and I also just wanted to go home and hug and care for my baby.  Who, at this point, I wouldn’t see until Monday if we left.  I was so torn.  And I realized . . . the birthday curse had struck again.  Damnit!

Obviously, I came to my senses, after being talked down by pretty much everyone I consulted, including my husband.  My son was on meds and seemed ok, so we decided that we would go.  So, although that damn curse had hit again, this time affecting my poor son, I wasn’t going to let it ruin everything.  The birthday curse would not win this time.  So, we were off to paradise!

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?

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 . . .

In HER Eyes . . .

When the gauntlet was thrown down by a fellow blog friend, I had no choice but to pick it up and run with it.  Is it gauntlets or scissors you aren’t supposed to run with?  I always get that mixed up.  Eh, whatever, too late.  It’s more of a slow amble anyway, since my entire diet has consisted of cookies for the last two weeks, so I really don’t think I’m dangerous with any sharp objects right now.  Wait, what was I talking about?  Oh, right . . . gauntlets.  I suppose you are wondering what on earth I’m rambling about, yes?  Either that, or you stopped reading about 6 sentences back, and who can blame you.  But, if you are still hanging in there (and really, why?  Seriously, there is something wrong you with you.  Might wanna work on that in the new year), let me explain . . .

I was reading my friend Darla’s blog post today, and laughing hysterically at her ridiculousness, when I came upon the comments.  This is where I then saw another blog friend throw down a challenge . . . on almost every single person’s comments on the post.  Accordingly, I imagine that not much work was being done today at Peg’s place of employ, but it sure was fun to read.  This was her challenge:

Well, after all that work, by both the brilliant and clearly insane, Darla, as well as the evil genius, Peg, I had no choice but to join in on the fun.  Besides, it’s not like I was going to be posting anything otherwise today, so this is just a little extra bonus for all y’all, right?  Right?  Hello?  Oh well, I’m used to talking to myself.  I have a husband and two boys.

Ok, before I get too far afield on this tangent . . . again . . . let me present you with my choice as the most fantastical of all photoshopped wonderment that came from Darla’s twisted and wonderful brain.  I present to you . . . In Her Eyes:

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Swoon!  Who could resist that face?

Ok, now that I’ve participated, as instructed . . . it’s your turn.  If you haven’t already hit the bubbly (and hey, even if you have), go to Darla’s blog and pick one of her fabulous pictures and feature it on your blog.  And . . . go!

Well, now I’m off to have my own fabulous New Year’s fun . . . game night at my sis-in-law’s house and then in bed by 12:30.  I really do know how to party!  Cheers to you.  See you in the new year.  Have fun and be safe, everyone!

I Got Banged

It was time. 
 
A girl can only go so long in her life without experimenting a bit.  
 
And really, the last time it happened to me, I was just a kid!  Not yet ensconced in the mire of habit and predictability. 
 
So, I did it.  I went a little wild and crazy, and did something different. 
 
And I don’t regret it.  
 
Nope, I’m gonna own it, loud and proud.  I don’t care what kind of labels people may attach to me now that I’ve made the move.  Maybe it’s for the best, after all.  Shows me who my true friends are. 
 
And I’ll tell you . . . I feel different.  As if this one act of daring has somehow changed me forever.  It feels good to be bad. 
 
And lest you judge me, I have to tell you that I just couldn’t do it the same way again.  It was enough!  The same old boring up and down, just the usual, trim and blow I always have.  I’m beyond that.  
 
It’s a new me.  And I feel no shame.
 
Before . . .

Before . . .

After!!

I’m not what you would call a high-maintenance, stylish, Real Housewife kind of girl.  I would consider my style as professional (for work) and comfortable (for home).  There’s not a lot of in between.  Very, very rarely I will wear a dress, but when that happens, it pretty much means that someone is getting married. 

Same thing with my hair.  I get it cut about every six months.  I’ve been going to the same stylist for the last 10 years or so, and each time I go, I basically tell her to do the same thing, with very little variation.  Although, I do consistently ask her to cut it a little bit shorter each time.  She mostly acquiesces, with only the slightest amount of resistance.  Usually, she throws some layers in there, just to give it a little oomph, and I routinely walk out of the salon, looking like this:

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Lather, rinse, repeat . . . literally. 

I can usually tell when it’s about time to get a cut, because people will start making comments about how long my hair is getting.  Anything approaching shoulder length is “long” for me.  And usually, I get fed up with the  maintenance and blow drying time long before the comments start.  But something was different this time.  I kind of liked the length.  True, I still hated the styling part, but it had gotten so long this time, that I could actually pull it back without it looking goofy, which is not something I am normally able nor willing to do.  Especially at work. 

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Me, at work. In what is essentially a ponytail. Crazy, right?

But, I knew I needed to do something to it, as it was getting a bit unwieldy, what with all the dead ends and such (one very significant drawback to bi-yearly cuttings).  Plus, I had that most magical of days off, Veteran’s Day, where I normally run errands while most of the rest of the country is working or at school.  (Thanks vets!!).  So, I decided that this would be the perfect time to pay a visit to my stylist.

I went in knowing what I was going to do. At some point, the idea had begun brewing around in my head, and now I just needed to be brave enough to pull the trigger.  My stylist was delighted when I told her I wanted to keep it long, with no layers and . . . bangs!  She may have giggled and clapped.  Adorable. 

The reactions have been mixed from family, friends and colleagues.  And even from myself!  One minute, I think it’s awesome, and the next I wonder who that girl is in the mirror wearing the Cleopatra wig.  The hubs’ first reaction was that it was “different,” and when I asked if he liked it, he said yes, but when I followed up with, “would you tell me if you didn’t?” he responded, “probably not.”  This ain’t his first rodeo.

Here are some other reactions I received:

– “You daring hot mama!” 
 
– “Sassy.”
 
– “A new you.  Very cute!”
 
– “Oooh, I like it!!”
 
– “You look 10 years younger” (to which I replied, “Oh, 28.  I’ll take it!” . . . to which she said, “Oh, you’re that old???”  Um, thanks?)
 
– Male colleague standing in my doorway quietly laughing . . . Me: “Don’t just stand there laughing at me, it’s very rude!”  Him:  “No!  It’s just that I’ve never seen you be daring before.  You always just do the same thing.  And . . . . It’s not as fluffy.”
 

Whether it turns out to be a good idea, or bad, it comes down to this . . . it will eventually grow back.  It’s only hair, after all.

The Big Apple Bites Back

As I mentioned last week, the hubs and I took a little trip to New York City this past weekend for our anniversary.  The original plan was to just go up Saturday afternoon and return Sunday morning, but he figured out a way to cut his trip to Brazil short, thus enabling us to get up there Friday night.  This allowed us to do a few extra things, such as have sushi that night at a really great place I had eaten at 2 years prior, sleep in on Saturday, and have all day to explore the city.  All good things.

Once we dragged our tired asses out of bed Saturday morning (the first number on the clock may have been a double digit), the hubs ran across the street to one of about 4 Starbucks on that block, and returned with a much needed latte . . . and a few other things:

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He may have felt a little bad about not really getting me a present (I told him no gifts), since I got him a car and all, so he picked up some chocolates, a tiny cab and a card to go with the latte.  I assured him that we were fine since he was basically giving me NYC for my anniversary, and that was enough, but he’s a gifter.  He can’t help it.

The day was off to an auspicious start as we headed out from the hotel towards 30 Rock to go to the Top of the Rock.  I had never really done the touristy thing in NYC, since the one and only time I was there, 2 years ago at BlogHer, my time was filled with conferencing and some brief walking around (I did get to experience Times Square, which was enough for a lifetime!).  So, this time, I wanted to do as many touristy things as time allowed.  First stop was the closest super tall building we could find, so I could get a view of the whole city.

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See?  Proof that I was there!  You even get to see the view from up top!  What?  Ok, fine . . . here’s the real thing:

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View of Empire State building and Lower Manhattan

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View of Central Park and Upper Manhattan

And speaking of Central Park . . . that was to be our next destination.  That was the one place that I regret not having the chance to visit the last time I was in NYC, because it was a mere 3 blocks away.  I just never had the time or opportunity.  So, we descended from the 60-something stories of 30 Rock, and landed in the bowels of the building, only to come out on top of the ice skating rink!  It wasn’t quite open yet, but they were preparing it, so it was close.  But I was happy to at least get to see it, even if I didn’t get to skate.  It will happen, damnit!  Someday . . .

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How much did I want to leap onto that Zamboni and ride around the rink? Yeah, that would be A LOT.

On our way to Central Park, we stopped at a Jamba Juice and picked up some smoothies and sandwiches, so we could cop a squat in Central Park and eat a late lunch.  Our dinner reservations weren’t until 11:00 that night (after the show), so we figured we’d eat something and hoped it would do us until dinner (it didn’t).  We opted not to take a horse drawn carriage ride, and instead just hoofed it into the park ourselves, where we parked our derrieres on a grassy knoll and ate our little lunch.  It was pretty bizarre being surrounded by trees and grass and huge rocks and streams, then looking up behind us and seeing massive buildings towering over our heads.  Surreal.  As we walked further in to the Park (which is massive by the way), we began to see some very Central Parky type things.  Basically, if you’ve seen a TV show or movie shot in NYC, you’ve probably seen these things at some point.  This is a very famous walk:

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And this next picture just screams Central Park to me.  As in, this is exactly what I envision when someone says “Central Park,” even though I have never previously been:

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At this point, we realized that we needed to start heading back to the hotel so we would have enough time to get ready for the show.  We only made it about a quarter of the way into the Park , so I definitely want to return and get to experience the rest at some point.  Did I mention that it’s huge?  Yeah.

When we got back to our hotel room, this was waiting for us:

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Very beautiful, and from my husband.  Gorgeous roses, a bottle of really good champagne (we’ll get to that), and my favorite . . . chocolate covered strawberries.

Now, I’m not usually a big champagne drinker, but I figured I’d open it and we could have a glass while getting ready for the show.  But let’s go back and review, shall we?  Because this is where it starts to get interesting . . .

– A latte for breakfast
– Smallish sandwich and smoothie for lunch
– Lots and lots of walking around the streets of New York City

Add all of those together, and you will get two pretty hungry people with empty stomachs.  Even though we had not planned it, we decided to order some room service, since we didn’t think we’d make it until 11:00 without some food.  Well, that was a debacle, as they forgot one of the two things we ordered, so we ended up having to split an ahi tuna wrap.  Which was fine, because that, along with a few strawberries, basically tided us over.  Oh yeah, and we also drank the entire bottle of champagne.  It was just really really good, so I kept pouring more glasses.  We split the bottle, but honestly I probably had 4 glasses to his 3.

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Sooooo good.

Once we were all clean and dressed purdy, we decided to take a cab to the theater.  Now, we definitely could have walked, as it was really only about 6 blocks away (big NYC blocks, but still), but I was wearing some super high heels and didn’t want to take the chance of killing myself trying to hurry in those things, or killing my feet by walking too much.  So, cab it was.  Although, we ended up having to walk about 3 blocks anyway, because the cab driver had no idea where he was going, so at one point we just got out and walked it.  We made it with just enough time to get to the bar, get a “double” glass of wine in a sippy cup, and settle into our 12 inch wide seats for the show (seriously, I got real cozy with the stranger to my left.  In some cultures, we are now betrothed).

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Well, the wine was delicious (and gone by the intermission) and the show was hysterical.  I would highly recommend it, unless you are easily offended, especially by any religious satire, because holy hell, they really go far out there with it.  I loved it.  The hubs . . . not so much.

Once the show was over, we really needed to book it to the restaurant.  In fact, we were so worried about making it on time, and trying to find a cab to get us there, we had to turn down the very generous offer of a backstage tour after the show from a friend’s husband who works sound for the show.  I was so sad, but the hubs was really nervous, so I deferred to his OCDness and we just left right after the end of the show.  We did, in fact, have some trouble finding a cab, so we started walking a bit, hoping we could get one once away from the theater and everyone else who was trying to get one.  However, once we started walking, we realized that we were not that far away, and that we had enough time . . . so we foregoed the cab and just kept walking, which was not the original plan.

So, of course . . . I twisted my ankle and fell onto the sidewalk.  Because, of course.  But, I soldiered on, and we eventually made it to the restaurant.  Where I ran to the bathroom to check the carnage, and saw this:

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So sexy.  And yes, the stockings came right off and were placed into the trash right there at the restaurant.  Because I’m classy like that.

When I returned to our table in the restaurant, the hubs had ordered us a celebratory glass of champagne.  Which was not quite as delicious as the one in the hotel, but was still quite tasty.  Especially after all that walking (and falling).  Then, we ordered a 3 course prix fixe with a wine pairing for each course.  The dishes were delicious and the wines matched perfectly.  However, by the time I got to my third course, I began to realize something . . . I was drunk.  Seriously, it just sort of hit me like . . .  whoa!  Looking back, it was not that surprising, as I had consumed about 3 bottles of wine so far that night, with very little to eat at that point.  The hubs was quite surprised, though, saying “but you train for this!”  But I had to remind him that one glass of wine 3-4 nights a week does not constitute “training” for that level of drinking.  It’s like someone merely training for double A college sports and then told they will be going to the Olympics!  As you might imagine, we cabbed it back to the restaurant and I fell asleep soon after.

But that is not the end of the story!  Oh no . . . because when I woke up the next morning, I discovered this on my upper left arm:

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A HUGE complete and total mystery bruise!  I have no idea where it came from, the hubs had no clue, and I never blacked out or anything the night before, nor do I remember even bumping into anything at all.  When I fell, it was straight to my knee (as you can see above), and I didn’t hit my arm in the slightest.  I have no idea what this is or where it came from!  It is truly bizarre.

So, all in all I would say it was a pleasant trip to NYC.  Despite the falling and the drunkenness and the mystery bruising (!), it was otherwise a fun and enjoyable trip.  I can’t wait to return to do the dozens of other touristy things there are to do there!  What a great city.  I just hope next time, I leave with less blood loss.

Shenanigans with Val: Racist Parking Lots, Closed Sidewalks & Ren Fest

This past weekend, I had a visitor.  My good blogging buddy Valerie drove all the way from New Jersey down to MD to hang with me on Saturday.  Her last visit, this past spring, was full of crazy shenanigans, good times and beer.  This visit would be no different in that regard, just a different venue.

I decided to take her to our local Renaissance Festival, as she is a huge fan of such events.  The last time I went to the Ren Fest was 2 years ago with Thoughtsy, and that turned out quite well for blogging purposes, so I figured it would be a good time for all and give us some fodder for our blogs.  Win/win.

In order to spend the entire day with her around the area where the Ren Fest was held, I needed to get a hotel room near there, as it is not especially close to my home.  So, I arrived first at our hotel with Val quickly following.  After some intense hugging (there may have been some humping), we decided to scoot over to the Ren Fest as the skies were starting to get a bit threatening and they were calling for rain later that day.  As the entirety of the Ren Fest is outdoors in the woods, we figured we should get moving before we got rained upon.

So, we hopped in the car and started driving.  Not being entirely familiar with the area, I allowed GPS to lead us to our destination.  And along the road to the Ren Fest, we encountered many locales that would need to be fucked with later on.  But stay tuned for that. 

Arriving at the Ren Fest, we noticed that many people were starting to leave.  Might have been because it had started spitting water from the sky.  But just a bit.  We could definitely work with this.  And it only lasted for a very short time, as by the time we got in, it had stopped. 

The first thing we wanted to do was to rent a costume for Val.  When I told Val we were going to the Ren Fest, she informed me that she looked online and saw they rented costumes.  I informed her that I had no problem with her renting a costume, but that I wasn’t the costume wearing sort.  However, I assured her that I would take pictures and laugh.  Having struck an accord, we headed to the first costume shop we saw . . . and found out that they were completely sold out.  Val was bummed, but not deterred from her goal.  We then stopped into another shop that sold costumes.  However, the going price was around $400, so that was out.  What to do, what to do.  And that is when we happened upon the stand selling jingley gypsy hip scarves.  Those were only $15 to buy, so that seemed like a deal.  In fact, it was such a deal, that I even decided to join in on the fun.  Here we are, modelling our hip scarves:

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Now that we were properly attired for the Ren Fest, we moved on to our second mandatory goal . . . beer.  Once we both had a beverage in our hands, we explored the sites of the Ren Fest.  And let me tell you, there were some sights to behold!  There was so much crazy, wacky stuff to see, that at one point we were basically just turning in circles and pointing.  It was dizzying, and not just because we were spinning around.  However, there is a time and place for such things, and that time and place is Friday for the Whacked.  Stay tuned . . .

Once we consumed our first beer, obviously we had to get a second.  I mean, it wouldn’t be right to only have one.  They get all spoiled and don’t learn to share.  The problem with this second beverage was that it was joining its sibling in otherwise empty stomachs.  That’s right, we are brilliant and had not eaten that day, and it was approaching 4:00 in the afternoon.  So, two people who can otherwise normally hold their liquor, were quite buzzed off of a beer and a half each.  Luckily, the Ren Fest thinks of everything!  Because that is when we came upon a vendor selling “beer sponges.”  How can any sane and almost drunk person pass up that kind of advertising!  Not us, I say.

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No, we did not sample his pickle.

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Mmmmm, spongey!

Even though the beer sponges did their job, it was sadly too late for Val.  The constabulary intervened and she was found guilty of being a drunkard.  I’m sure nobody ever saw that coming!

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And then we came upon the most rarest of species to be found at the Ren Fest, and Val just had to get her picture taken with them.  The Preppius Boatshoesicus.  It was a thrilling find.

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After that, we passed another booth and Val got an idea.  A marvelous idea.  A marvelously diabolical idea!  Ok, not really, but once she saw this, all bets were off.  She was getting Fraggled.

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And then this happened . . .

Mid-Fraggle

Mid-Fraggle

Almost Fraggled

Almost Fraggled

Side fraggle view

Side fraggle view

The Finished Fraggle

The Finished Fraggle

As we exited the covered hair braiding booth, we realized that it had started raining again.  For real.  However, we were not to be deterred.  And why is that?  Well, because along with her Fraggle, Val had decided that she needed some horns.  So we were off to the closest horn seller we could find.  However, after trying a few horned samples, it became apparent that the horns just did not look right with the Fraggle.  She even tried some ears (that also perched atop her head), but had the same problem.  Starting to get discouraged, we were about to leave when I happened to glance up and saw . . . unicorn horns!  Pointing them out to her, we both decided that this would be perfect.

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Is she not the happiest & most adorable thing EVER?

And then this happened . . .

A uni-fraggle gypsy in her natural habitat.

A uni-fraggle gypsy in her natural habitat.

Unfortunately, that is also when something else happened. . . the sky, which had been threatening and drizzling and raining all afternoon, finally decided to just let us have it.  It started pouring.  POURING.  And there we were, mid-Ren Fest, and a far distance from the parking lot and my car.  Realizing that our frolicking was at an end, we headed for the exit . . . and got wetter and wetter and wetter.  By the time we made it all the way to the car, we were both completely drenched.  As in, wet all the way through to our undergarments.  Which let me tell you, felt really lovely.  It looked like we had both stepped out of the shower, fully clothed.  Good times.

As we headed back to the hotel to dry off and change, the rain and soaking would not stop us from further shenanigans!  As I stated previously, we had noticed a few things as we were heading out to the Ren Fest.  And the first was a very odd statue right by the road.  So, on the way back, I pulled right over so Val could get out . . . and go lick it.

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Molesting statues since 2000.

And the next thing we came upon on this very same road was a very disturbing parking lot.  When we first drove by, we were appalled that this kind of thing can still exist in this day and age.  It’s not like we were in the deep south or anything!  It was a racist parking lot.  Every single car on that lot was white!  And being decent people, we just could not stand to allow that to continue unchecked.  So I pulled into the lot and parked myself right amongst all those prejudiced vehicles.  That’ll show them!

Fuck you, car bigotry!

Fuck you, car bigotry!

Travelling farther along this very same road, we encountered another instance of oppression.  Again, we would not let this stand.  So, we went right ahead and stood right there.  On the sidewalk.  Closed, my ass!

Now who's closed, bitches?

Now who’s closed, bitches?

After all of that, we returned to the hotel to rest up a bit after a very long and active (and wet) day.  We intended to go out for crabs a bit later, but first we wanted to dry off.  Unfortunately, Val’s Fraggle did not last the onslaught of water pouring down upon her head.  Poor sad Fraggle.

De-Fraggled.

De-Fragglefied.

And I didn’t fair much better.  This is me, looking like a drowned rat and completely soaked through to the skin.

You didn't REALLY think I was going to show you my face, did you?

You didn’t REALLY think I was going to show you my face, did you?

Once we changed and attempted (though fruitlessly) to do something with our mess of hair, we went out to get some steamed crabs, which is pretty much a necessity in this area.  We had planned to go out to a bar after dinner and were trying to return to the hotel so we could grab a cab (since we planned to continue our boozing ways, but are responsible bitches), but my car apparently had other plans for us.  See, apparently my car is evil (or a hex was placed on it in that racist parking lot), and kept trying to kill us.  The rain was coming down pretty hard at that point, it was dark, and I had no idea where we were.  We depended on my car’s GPS, but that only got us trying to turn down a one way road, entering a road that said Wrong Way, and the best one, having us turn into a shopping center that ended in a dark alley behind a DSW, filled with dumpsters.  That’s right, apparently my car was setting us up to be murdered by a serial killer.  So, after all of this heart pounding drama, once we returned to the hotel, we really didn’t feel like going back out in the rain.  We just needed a drink!  So, a drink (or 5) is what we had.

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Val’s birthday present . . . which she kindly shared.

The best part of the entire day was pretty much in that room.  I love just talking to Val, as she is hysterical and interesting, and catching up with her is always a good time.  Well, that and the snuggling.  She is the best big spoon ever!!

And thus ends this edition of Val & Misty’s Excellent Adventures.  Until we meet agian.  Huzzah!!

A Comedy of Tragedies

As I have fully elucidated previously, I am going through a bit of a rough time.  I’m a strong bitch, though, so I’m weathering it.  It hasn’t broken me quite yet, so here I am, blogging away for your amusement.  You lucky peeps.

However, when it rains it pours, and apparently my life is caught in a monsoon right now.  And while the additional water damage has resulted mostly from quick and inconsequential showers, it nevertheless is an annoyance and calls for an umbrella. 

For example, while my kids were away for a week with their grandparents a few weeks ago, I decided that would give me a perfect opportunity to do some cleaning and organizing that had been waiting for my attention for way too long.  So, I set my focus upon the cabinet under the sink in my bathroom.  When I first moved into my house around six years ago, this under the sink cabinet was organized with baskets and the well thought out placement of toiletry necessities.  Since then, it has become a hodge podge of precariously towering items that have landed there after my careless tossing of said item into the cabinets, and then swiftly closing the doors so as not to witness the toppling of said piles of junk.  So, basically what I am saying is that this area has not had a good cleaning and/or organizing in many years and it was way overdue. 

As I began to pull out the massive amounts of accumulated stuff from the cabinet, I finally unearthed the original baskets that were buried under all of this product.  It was when I had finally removed the baskets and everything else from under the sink that I realized I had a big problem.  This:

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I realized that I had apparently had a leak at some point in the past however many years, and because there was so much junk, I never realized it.  And during all those sweet days of ignorance, the water had been creating little mildew babies who had grown into huge adult sized spores of unhealthy disgustingness.  So, I immediately sent my hubs to the store for massive bleach type cleaning products and some paint, thinking I could scrub it down and then hopefully paint over it.  But alas, that was not to be.  It was relatively thin plywood, and it was soaked in.  There would be no scrubbing it off.  Additionally, the damage was on the back wall as well, so there was nothing much to be done.  We were going to need to call our home improvement guy (yes, we have a guy), to come over and see if he could replace the plywood.

And, I imagine that you can guess what the answer to that was, based on my current record of receiving good news.  Yeah, the answer was no.  They were going to have to replace the entire thing.  Which was going to cost beaucoup cash.  Cash which we did not have.  So, I got used to having all of the stuff under my cabinet in the middle of the floor in my bedroom.  But it was a pain in the ass.  Finally, after many weeks of this, I told my husband that he needed to call the guy, because it was getting on my damn nerves and just needed to be fixed.  We’d figure out a way to pay.  So, the next day, I came home to this:

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Hmmm, I feel like something’s missing here . . .

Yes, they took the WHOLE SINK.  I was not prepared for that.  So, now I am not only without a cabinet to use, but I have no sink.  And I’m told it was sent to “la la land” (quoth the hubs), to get it custom redesigned to fit in the space.  Who knew a sink was so much trouble?  Well, now you do.

And, along with this wonderful annoyance, there came another very itchy one . . . this:

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My hand and wrist broke out in some sort of mystery rash.  It only went from my thumb down to where my watch was when whatever I touched came into contact with my hand.  I have no idea what I am allergic to that caused this, as my well known allergen of pine (Christmas tree decorating is a joy!), was nowhere to be seen on these summer days.  I wasn’t too concerned until about 2 days later when it started itching like crazy and then a few days after that, it looks like this:

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Yep, over a week and there are still angry little red dots.  At this point it has stopped itching, but I’m fearful it will scar.  I look like I have leprosy.  Fun times.

Oh, but I’m not done yet.  The most annoying event to occur was this past Monday.  Apparently, when I went to bed on Sunday night, I didn’t feel the need to change the time on my alarm to a work appropriate wake up time.  Nope, it was still set to weekend time.  That would be 7:45, by the way.  So, on Monday morning, instead of the alarm waking me at the ungodly hour of 5:00 (and then smacking the bejesus out of that sucker about 12 times before I got up), to give me enough time to get ready for work and then drive the hour it takes to get there . . . yeah, you see where this is going.

So, here’s a little math problem for you.  Solve for X:  If attorney has to be in court by 9:00, has an hour-long drive from point A (home) to point B (work), and awakens from an apparently very restful sleep at 7:45 . . . X = which normal preparatory activities did attorney not have time to do before leaving her house.

Here’s a visual clue:

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I assure you, I AM making a duckface.

Now, for you male readers out there that are like, “what?  I don’t get it.  What’s the big deal?”  Lemme ‘splain . . . that is my hair pulled back in a quick and messy ponytail bun.  Which I wore . . . to court.  I do not wear ponytail buns to court.  It is not pretty, nor is it professional.  In fact, I don’t wear my hair back at all, like this or any other way, to work ever.  Once again, I find it unprofessional.  For someone else, they might think it’s no big deal, but I do not feel that way.  To give you a point of reference, every single person that I saw today asked me if I was ok or if there was something wrong.  So, this is very out of the norm for me.  It was not one of my better days.

I’m thinking . . . things can only go up from here, right?  Right?  HELLO??  (Knocks furiously on any wood surface available!).

I Do NOT Have a Problem

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If you were to visit my home and walk into my dining room, the first thing that would be apparent to you is that we do not use that room to dine.  There is no dining room table, no chairs, no side hutch.  Pretty much a whole lot of nothing in the middle of that room.  Not that the room is completely empty.  There are two folding tables set up against two walls of the room, in an L shaped formation. These tables are mostly used to hold a bunch of crap that we don’t want piling up in other parts of our house.  Until we invite guests over, and then the piles of crap are relocated to another hidden room so people don’t think we are animals living in a pigsty.  Shhhh, don’t tell.

Along the opposite wall of this room is a very old liquor cabinet and small wine rack.  The liquor cabinet travelled with us when we moved from our previous home, and originated who knows where, as it was purchased cheap from Goodwill in an effort to fill an empty bachelor’s new home about 14 years ago.  The wine rack was purchased a few years after, and also travelled with us from our former residence.  Those few pieces of furniture are the extent of items in that room . . . unless you count the copious amounts of liquor taking up valuable real estate on the floor.

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I have previously had concerns that if someone happened to visit our home and see not only a stuffed to bursting liquor cabinet, but also a full wine rack and approximately 27 bottles of booze on the floor, that they might think that they are in a home full of alcoholics.  It would not be an unreasonable assessment, based on the present visual evidence being presented to them, but it would indeed be inaccurate.  You see, if we really were alcoholics, do you think all of those bottles would actually survive long enough to accrue and take over all of that space?  Any alcoholic worth their salt would have binged on those things long ago, leaving them with perhaps a half empty bottle of vanilla in their pantry, if they are doing it right.* 

However, that does not negate the fact that having all of this liquor littering our floor is still a bit embarrassing and messy.  So, with that in mind, I decided to organize and maybe purge some of our booze bottles, many of which had not been seen or touched in numerous years.  So, I pulled every bottle out of the liquor cabinet, every bottle off of the wine rack, and grabbed all of those bottles from the floor, and commenced to peruse and organize.  Honestly, the visual of all of that liquor spread over the dining room was quite impressive . . .

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You are probably wondering to yourself, how on earth does one actually obtain that much liquor?  Either that or you are wondering where I live so you can come by for a cocktail.  I get that a lot.  But, as to the root problem at hand, there are various events and situations that have culminated to create this stunning display.  The first is the fact that the hubs travels quite a bit, many times to foreign countries.  So, what’s a better gift to bring home than a local wine or a bottle of booze from duty-free, right?  Apparently.  An additional cause stems from the many times I’ve sent my hubs to the liquor store to get some beer for people who are coming over, either just to swim in the pool, or for a more formal invited gathering.  Inevitably, he would not only bring home the requisite beer, but a few bottles of booze that happened to catch his eye that he thought might be interesting to try.  This is why we have an entire bottle (but for a taste) of Maple Bacon Liquor, and no less than 15 different varieties of flavored vodkas, including Loopy and Cake.

The third cause would be me.  No, I am not putting all of this on the hubs.  Most of it, yes, but I have some complicity in this debacle as well.  You see, I like to make new and interesting cocktails.  Any time people visit, I like to impress and dazzle them with a new found delicious concoction.  Sometimes, these recipes call for liquor that I either do not own, or that I do, but I end up buying another bottle of anyway because I don’t know that I own it, and am stopping at the liquor store on the way home and have no way to check before purchasing.  (This little fact is why I have two almost full bottles each of Triple Sec, Kahlua and Cruzan light rum . . . oops).

So, the organization project was necessary, as you can see.  I was able to get rid of a few old bottles and some mixes that had expired around the end of the Bush administration.  That would be the first Bush, by the way.  Plus, I could take stock of what I actually had, so that the next time I get an itch to make something new and exciting, I hopefully will remember what liquors I actually own.  Well, conceivably anyway. 

Picture 10706 Picture 10707

Especially since I am now taking an online bartending class, and will need to practice making all sorts of classic drinks.  This means I will most likely have to supplement my already stocked bar with some basics that I am currently missing, like Scotch and Gin.  So, I guess that means another trek to the liquor store and more bottles that I have to find room for.

Now that I think of it, I might have a little bit of a problem after all.

—————————————————————————————————————————- 

* This is a joke made all in good fun.  I am not in any way trying to belittle anyone’s efforts at sobriety, as I have many friends who are currently either battling or maintaining their defenses against the evil beast of alcoholism raging at their door.  I hope that anyone who needs help, can find the support that they seek.

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