Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Can Fit in a Suitcase.

While my lovely friend Jenn is away in sunny and warm Puerto Rico with her man, I'm stuck here in cold cloudy NC.  Not that I'm jealous or anything...  Since she wouldn't let me stow away in her suitcase, she let me take over her blog for the day!  Go check it out here!  And then we can all pretend that we're here together...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Finish the Sentence.

1. If calories didn't count, I would eat... Everything in sight probably. Although at the top of my list would be Gigi's cupcakes, Five Guys' fries, and Sour Cream and Onion chips.
2. On my Prom night.... I went but was home early. I went to a private Christian school, so we had a "Junior/Senior Banquet" instead of a prom. There was a (chaperoned) after party so we could dance, but it wasn't fun. So we went to Chick-fil-A for dessert then home.

3. When I go to the store, I always buy... apples. I eat them all the time. My new favorites are the pinata apples. LOVE.

4. Family functions typically... are a blast. We eat, we hang out, we laugh. It's delightful.
5. I think my blog readers... Are awesome. I love that I have made so many friends through this little blog! :)

6. I'd much rather be.... Here with a book and a pineapple daiquiri.
7. I have an obsession with.... Friends. And crime novels. And McDonald's sweet tea!
8. My work friends.... make my work days so much better. I'm so glad I work with some super fun people that make me laugh.

9. When I created my Facebook account.... I was a senior in college. I remember waiting for it to come to my school (because it was only open to certain colleges and you had to have an email address for those schools to join, if you'll remember). When it finally opened up to my school, I remember being so excited even though we didn't even really know what it was! Haha.

10. My least favorite word is... Slang words that are shortened versions of real words-- for example "totes" and "obvi." (Although interestingly enough, I use "obvs" in text conversation. For some reason it doesn't annoy me. I'm an enigma...)

11. I really don't remember... where anything is. I put stuff places and constantly forget where I put them. I also forget things that I need to do unless I write them down or have Donny remind me. Out of sight, out of mind...

12. Justin Bieber... creeps me out. He's like 12 years old, yet every picture of him recently is of his underwear hanging out of his pants (since they're four sizes too big therefore require him to manually hold them up). Dude, you make plenty of money. Surely you can find pants to fit...

Join in and link up with Holly here!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Goals for the Week.


In an effort to make myself be productive this week, I've decided to publish my goals.  I need the accountability.  If I just say in my head what I want to do, it's far to easy to let them slide.  My plan for this week:

1.  10 miles (cumulative) on the treadmill.  I wish it could be outside, but alas... Mother Nature isn't cooperating.  And I need to get my running legs back.

2.  Up at 5:30 three times this week.  Donny gets up that early to go to work, and I should get up at the same time to hit the gym.  It's the perfect time to do it.  But my sleep-loving self usually just dives back under the covers for a few hours.

3.  Make dinner at home twice instead of eating out.  Two dinners this week should cover us for a while with leftovers since we don't have a whole family eating them.  Good for the budget!

4.  Have a no-sugar day.  Adrian's post really got me to thinking about the sugar I take in.  I didn't think I really ingested THAT much sugar.  But a big cup of sweet tea here, a cookie there, and it all starts to add up.  Plus, I know that it's addictive.  So, not giving in to my sugar cravings for a whole day will be a big step in the right direction for me.

5.  Spend some time with my parents.  Since getting married, I don't spend as much time with them as I used to.  So, this week, I want to try to hang out with them.

What are your goals for the week?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Travel Tuesday-- Honeymoon in Jamaica!!

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In an effort to finally finish with the wedding-related posts, I'm linking up with Helene today for Travel Tuesday to talk about our honeymoon!!

The Sunday morning after the wedding, we got up super early and flew to Montego Bay, Jamaica! There was literally not a single other person in front of us to go through security in Greensboro. We really should fly out of there more often...
A few hours later and after a quick layover in Charlotte, and we landed in an island paradise! It took what felt like forever to get through customs and get to our shuttle, but we eventually made it through and were on our way to our resort, Secrets St. James.
When we got to the resort, the porter who took our bags told us our concierge for the week was Chris Brown. But he said the Jamaican Chris Brown was the opposite of the American one-- "He can't sing, can't dance, and his girlfriend beats him." Ha!

We made it up to our room, and it was amazing! From the "Honeymoon" sign on the door, to the towel creations, to the VIEW! It was so wonderful.  The whole resort was absolutely gorgeous.
I love the towel animals.
Our room was on the corner, so we had a view to both the north...
And the west... 
The pool and the beach behind it from the lobby... 
This was the view from the back side of the building-- the actual Montego Bay.

We spent the first few days just relaxing on the beach or by the pool. The resort didn't seem all that full-- we never had to scrounge for beach chairs or pool floats or wait for a table at dinner. We paid a little extra to stay in the "Preferred Club" section of the hotel, which came with an upgraded room and a separate pool and beach area. That ended up being the best decision we made. There weren't as many people at our building or at our pool/beach. It was SO peaceful and serene.

I'm not a girl who likes to sleep through her vacation, so I was up early every morning and out at the beach or by the pool before most everyone else with my book in hand!  Of course, napping on the beach is one of the best things ever, so I got plenty of those in.  :)
Mmmm... diet coke...

Like most all-inclusive resorts, there were multiple dining options and restaurants on the premises. We went to a different restaurant every night for dinner. We went to the breakfast buffet restaurant a few times, but since we were in the "Preferred Club," they had most breakfast items in the lobby of our hotel. So, we just got some food there and took it out to the beach!
By Wednesday, we finally decided it was time to actually go somewhere outside the resort. So that afternoon, we took a catamaran out into the ocean and went snorkeling. Because of the time of our cruise, it ended up also being a sunset sail, which was awesome to see. I wish I had more pictures of that afternoon/evening, but alas, I have only the one...

Thursday was our last full day there. We booked a tour of the city and ended up with our own personal tour guide. He was pretty cool-- he was born in Jamaica but raised in New York. As an adult, he decided that he wanted to return to his native country, and now he's a tour guide. He took us all over the city. First was to Richmond Hill Inn, which has the most incredible view of the city and the bay. It used to be the home of the Dewar family (yes, the scotch brand). Now, it's an inn and event center. A ton of weddings are held there, and with this view as your backdrop, I can absolutely see why.

After we left Richmond Hill, he drove us through the city, telling us about the history and culture of the island then made our way along the coast to Rose Hall Plantation. The legend about Rose Hall is that the owner of the house was killed by the "black magic" of his wife Annie. She remained in the house after his death, and two subsequent husbands ("and countless lovers" according to the tale) of hers died suspiciously. They call her the White Witch of Rose Hall. The house is now open for tours, and people say they can see her ghost wander the halls.

We didn't go into the great house, as the tour is very long, and not cheap. But our tour guide took us up to the White Witch golf course, which is on the Rose Hall plantation premises but sits atop the hill. It had the most spectacular views of the ocean!

The last part of our trip out into the city was to the "Hip Strip."  This section of town is right outside a public beach area, multiple hotels overlooking the ocean, and just down the road from where the cruise ships dock.  So, there's a TON of little shops trying to peddle their products.  We really just wanted to buy a few souvenirs for us and our family without spending a lot of money.  But as we walked up and down this street, the shop owners kept yelling at us to come to their store, and all the women wanted to braid my hair.  One lady even reached out to grab me by the arm, but I got away.  These people are CRAZY.  We walked up and down the street, but eventually went back to the first store we stopped at.  Our driver has a deal with the owner of that store, where he gave us 50% off everything in the store plus no tax.  I'm sure our driver got a kickback for taking people there, but his prices were better than anywhere else, so we bought our goodies from him.

Then, it was time to go back to the resort for one last sunset.  Donny takes some GORGEOUS pictures.

I absolutely LOVED our resort.  The food wasn't amazing, but it was good.  There were a lot of options, including 24 hour room service.  I liked the freedom of the all-inclusive, but I don't know if we really got our money's worth out of it since neither of us drank that much.  But the place was gorgeous and the service was top-notch.  Secrets is definitely a customer-oriented business.  We really wanted for nothing (other than the day the wi-fi was down when we were trying to book our catamaran cruise...).  There were always people to bring you food or drinks, so we never would have even had to move out of our chairs if we didn't want to.  Heaven...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Club Friday-- The Racketeer.

Happy Friday y'all!!  This week has been crazy busy, and I'm so ready to sit at home on the couch with my boo and do nothing.  Today I'm sharing one of the best Grisham books I've read in a very long time.     

Sidenote:  I'm a sucker, so I joined in the bloglovin bandwagon.  You can follow me here--

GoodReads Synopsis: Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.  On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.  What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday...

My Thoughts:  This is definitely one of my favorite Grisham books.  I read this 340 page book in two days because I was so determined to find out what was happening!  I had an inkling of what was going on mid-way through the book and kind of figured out the gist of it before it was finally revealed.  But there definitely were some twists (both at the end and throughout) that I didn't see coming.  Even though I had an idea of what was happening, I love how Grisham set it up and revealed it little by little, still leaving you with questions and wanting more.  I absolutely recommend this book!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Award for Best Duo Goes To...

Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, duh.  I can't get over the combo-- they're just crazy hilarious.  I'm  not even a big fan of JT, but him with Jimmy is just something truly wonderful.  Below is The Ragtime Gals version of "SexyBack," The History of Rap (only parts 2 and 3, but still crazy awesome), JT's impression of Jimmy, and the Barry Gibb Talk Show skit from SNL. Enjoy. You're welcome.

(wish this was better quality, but it was the best I could find)

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Lessons Learned (and Still Learning).

Yesterday, we celebrated four months of being married (or our one third-iversary, as Donny calls it...).  And while I am by no means a marriage expert, I have learned a few things.
1. Spend time together.  Spending time together just the two of us is so important.  Some of the best advice we got before the wedding was to have a "date night" just us every week.  I recognize that this is SO much easier now than it will be when we have kids.  But I love the evenings we get spend just us.  It's crucial to have that time to connect.

2. Spend time separate.  Boys like different things than girls. I know it's shocking, but it's true. Being together doesn't mean that you should both stop enjoying things that the other person doesn't care about.  He builds stuff with power tools, I play tennis; he likes The Sopranos, I like the Bachelor; etc.  It's important not to lose your own personality in the relationship and also to support each others' interests.
3. Be encouraging.  Build each other up in your endeavors.  He's both working full-time and taking classes for his degree.  I try to make sure that he knows how proud of him I am.  I also try not to be snarky or critical.  All the wonderful encouraging and supportive words in the world can be quickly forgotten with one well-chosen cutting remark...

4. Be silly together.  This is SO important for us. Donny would probably tell you that I am crazy and weird, but I know he loves it. :)  How boring would life be without a little silliness and a lot of laughter??  Laughter is contagious, and that happiness can eliminate a lot of tension.  Don't lose the sillies!
5. Keep short accounts and let the little things go.  This is so important, and I feel like we both do a good job of this most of the time.  We don't hold grudges or keep track of things that the other person did to us to bring up later.  And we don't let the little things become big things.  Most issues really aren't worth a battle, so we let them go.  And I think it's crucial to pick your battles.  Otherwise you're going to be miserable fretting over small things all the time.  He doesn't rinse off his dishes?  She doesn't hang the shower head up?  Whatever-- let them go.  You'll be much happier.
6. Do nice things for each other.  Little things are huge.  Leave each other notes, get the other person a drink when you go to the kitchen, wash their clothes when you wash yours, share control of the remote, etc. Little things show how much you care.  :)

What good lessons have y'all learned about relationships?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Club Friday-- I Never Had It Made.

GoodReads SynopsisI Never Had It Made is Robinson's own candid, hard-hitting account of what it took to become the first black man in history to play in the major leagues.  I Never Had It Made recalls Robinson's early years and influences: his time at UCLA, where he became the school's first four-letter athlete; his army stint during World War II, when he challenged Jim Crow laws and narrowly escaped court martial; his years of frustration, on and off the field, with the Negro Leagues; and finally that fateful day when Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers proposed what became known as the "Noble Experiment" — Robinson would step up to bat to integrate and revolutionize baseball.  More than a baseball story, I Never Had It Made also reveals the highs and lows of Robinson's life after baseball. He recounts his political aspirations and civil rights activism; his friendships with Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, William Buckley, Jr., and Nelson Rockefeller; and his troubled relationship with his son, Jackie, Jr.  Originally published the year Robinson died, I Never Had It Made endures as an inspiring story of a man whose heroism extended well beyond the playing field.

My Thoughts:  I picked up this book thinking I'd read about his struggles to be the first black man in major league baseball, but I got so frustrated because there was so little baseball in it!  I knew nothing about Jackie Robinson before I picked up this book, but I quickly discovered that he was very involved in the civil rights movement and politics.  Of course, I assumed that there was more to him than baseball, but that's the part of his life that I had known about, and that's what I wanted to read about.  But Donny was right when he told me that it was Jackie's autobiography, and this is what he wants readers to know about him.  So, I calmed down and enjoyed it a little more after that realization.  It was interesting to see his view of the time period and the civil rights struggles.  But, I was still so frustrated with the writing.  There were so many stories in the book that needed to be several pages instead of just a paragraph (like the 1955 World Series that the Dodgers won over the Yankees in the seventh game).  And the storytelling itself wasn't great-- there needed to be more dots to help me connect the events (for example, he told of his son going to Vietnam then, without any explanation, he mentions his son was in a military hospital.  Never any details of how he got there.).  This happened several times, and it made me wonder who in the world edited this book and didn't see that there needed to be more.

What I did love is his perspective.  Unlike a lot of the civil rights leaders of our time (and even his time), I found him to be incredibly genuine.  He was always consistent in his beliefs.  He spoke out against other black leaders who were spurring on anti-Semitic behavior because in his mind, racism was racism-- Jew or black or Asian.  It didn't matter to him-- they were all to be treated equally.  He was also big enough of a man to admit when he was wrong on some issues and was open to discussion on them.  I ended up with a lot of respect for him.

All in all, I thought the book was good.  Not well-written by any means, but still worth reading for the autobiography that it was.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

It's Okay...

Its Ok Thursdays

... to hide/unfriend people on facebook and unfollow them on twitter.  I don't want to hear constant negativity, and if that's all you post, then I'm not gonna hang around to see it.

... to not wear makeup at all to work sometimes.  Some days I'm just lazy and don't care at all about pretty-fying my face.

... to desperately want a pedicure when I'm trying not to spend money on non-essentials.

... to be considering spiking my husband's nighttime drink with tylenol pm so that he (and I) can sleep through the night without the tossing and turning like the past several nights.

... to be a little depressed when I realized this morning that it was not Friday like I had thought.

... to realize this post is kind of negative but not change it.  It is what it is.

... to have about twenty unread books in my house but to still go to the library to get ones I REALLY want to read.

... to love Thursday nights-- it's the first night of the entire week that I get to spend entirely with my boo without classes, orchestra rehearsal, bible study, tennis matches, etc...  It's our night together, and I love it.

Happy Thursday, y'all!  Friday is almost here!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lone Star Adventures-- Part 2.

Check out Part 1 of our Lone Star Adventure here.
Saturday morning, we woke up again to a homemade breakfast from Claudine.  This time, it was the Texas delicacy of hoecakes!!  I'm fairly certain that I've never had them before, but I absolutely loved them.  I need to find a recipe so that I can make my own now... 

Right after breakfast, we headed out for a very long day of driving through small town Texas and visiting Donny's dad's family, almost all of whom I had never met.  We had multiple stops planned for the day, but first was Morgan, TX (population 493), where Donny spent his childhood.  He drove me around the town, showing me his school, where he had lived, places that were important, and telling me stories.  
Morgan's town hall

We came across this church, and I had to get a picture of it.  There's something about small country churches that I love. 
After driving through Morgan, we stopped in Meridian (population 1,501) to visit his grandpa and Uncle Ronnie. We spent quite a while there, and then his grandpa announced that Donny's other uncle (he has four uncles on his dad's side) and his wife were coming over.  So, we also got to visit with them, which was great because Donny hadn't seen his Uncle Dean and Aunt Mary in over a year.  With them, came three grandkids, including baby #3 of the weekend, Wyatt.  They were all so nice and welcoming to me.  This first stop put me at ease over a day that I had been fairly nervous about.  Around lunchtime, we left his grandpa's house and drove to Clifton.  But along the way, we saw the BEAUTIFUL Bosque County courthouse, since Meridian is the county seat.  Country churches and old courthouses-- I love them both.

We had a quick lunch in Clifton (population 3,457), and Donny drove me by the place he had his first real job. Clifton has a cute little downtown that I wish I had gotten some pictures of, but alas, I was just riding around enjoying the view not remembering to pull out my camera.  

Beyond Clifton is the teeny tiny little town of Cranfills Gap (population 282).  This is where Donny's dad (Donny Sr.) and quite a bit of his family lives.  We stopped first at his dad's house, where we were greeted by Donny Sr., his wife, Charlene, her grown children, Danny, Gary, and Jeanna (and her boyfriend Dustin), and Donny's sister, Tracy.  Danny's kids and Jeanna's son were also there, which made it quite the full house.  (Not to mention the zoo that these people have-- I think I counted ten dogs, one cat, one dragon lizard, and a snake.  Ah, small town USA...)

Donny Sr. was planning to grill out for dinner, so while he was prepping the grill and food, we went to visit some other family down the road.  I can't even remember who all we saw-- aunts, uncles, and cousins by the dozen.  For a girl whose entire family can fit around her parents' dining room table, it was a little overwhelming... Lol.  But everyone I met was so nice and welcoming to me.
Donny and Tracy
We spent the rest of the evening with Donny Sr., Charlene, and her other two grown children, Mark and Lynette.  Mark was one of Donny's groomsmen in our wedding.  He had other plans for that night, but when he heard that we were in town, he quickly changed them and came to see us!  Mark and Lynette are the two step-siblings that Donny was and is closest to, so I was glad to have a chance to spend a good amount of time with them.

On our way back to Cleburne (which, by the way, feels like New York City compared to the places I had spent my day...), we stopped again in Morgan to see Donny's life-long friend Richie, his wife Akasha, and their son Ricky, who is seriously the cutest thing ever (and also baby #4 of the weekend).  He gave me a potato chip and his handheld game, so clearly we're BFFs...
Sunday morning, there was no homemade breakfast since it was church day.  Instead, we went to Whataburger, where I got a taquito and felt like I was cheating on Taco Cabana.  But I got over it because the Whataburger taquito is yummy.  (Just slightly less yummy than the TC breakfast tacos.)
After breakfast, we went to Donny's former church for Sunday School and worship.  Much like everywhere else we had been that weekend, I felt like a celebrity.  All weekend long wherever we went, I had heard people exclaim "Donny and Katie are here!!" and rushed to come see us.  And church was no different.  There were so many people there who were excited to see Donny again, and to meet me since he kind of likes me apparently.  

The church had a special event that Sunday morning by some group in Cleburne that I can't remember.  But they had the entire Old Testament on scrolls, one of which was as old as the 14th century! 
The 14th Century scroll from Morocco.  It's so large because it's the entire Torah
The guy who spoke during the service was a Messianic Jewish Rabbi who told about the scrolls and how they are made and the reverence with which it is done.  It's an incredibly meticulous process, and it generally takes a scroll writer a year to transcribe one scroll.  Pretty cool stuff.

After church, we went back to Buddy and Claudine's house for a delicious lunch and to watch the Daytona 500! Donny's mom and sister came over, so I spent most of the afternoon with them.  I so wish that they lived closer!

It also FINALLY hit 70 degrees for the first time of our trip, so I pulled out my flip flops that I've missed so much!  :)

After the race, we went to Burleson to pick up Donny's "little brother" (Donny was a big brother with Big Brothers/Big Sisters for the last few years before he moved to NC).  We took him to dinner at their fave place-- Buffalo Wild Wings-- and then went next door to Best Buy, where Donny and I were sucked in by their blu-ray sale...

Later that evening, we finally managed to catch Anna at home Sunday night, along with her whole family.  Her mom Donna is so cute.  She's short like me and was so excited to have someone around who was as short as she was.  She cracked me up!  We didn't get to stay too long because we still had to get home and pack for our super-early departure the next morning.  

We were listed on an 8:20am flight from DFW, but our goal was to get to the airport early enough to switch to the 7:10am.  (We fly standby on buddy passes from my mom's BFF who works at US Airways, so we could switch without penalty.  Without them and the SUPER discount they give us on airfare, we wouldn't be able to travel the way we do.  I'm SO thankful for them.)  But to make this happen, we had to get to the airport around 5:30 to have time to drop off the rental car, catch the shuttle to the terminal, change our flight, and get through security.  So, we woke up at 4am since the airport is an hour north of where we were.  It was a VERY early morning.  Buddy and Claudine, who are truly two of the kindest people in the world, woke up to tell us goodbye.  They even had bananas and juice ready for us to take on the road!  What a blessing they were to us this weekend...

We made it to the airport with a few minutes to spare.  I had packed more stuff in the checked bag than I had flying out, so I was a little nervous about it being over the 50lb limit, but it checked in at 47.  Win!!

Since we flew standby both ways, we knew there was a good chance that we wouldn't get to sit together on either flight, but they managed to find two seats together for us both times!

Just like every other time I've been to Texas, the trip was over far too quickly.  There were still a ton of people that we DIDN'T get to see.  But it was great to be back to a place that I consider my second home, and I'm already anxious to go back!