Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Catching Up

Ever hear of that old saying, "Life gets in the way"? I know I've used it as an excuse a time or two. When in reality, we're always living, it never gets in the way. We put different things at the forefront, at different times in our life. In high school, life seemed to always be about our friends, and what we were doing after school or that weekend. In college, we were concerned about our classes, but also made time to go out and experience 'college.' Now that I'm out of college, and currently have a full time job, I've come to realize how hard it is to maintain those friendships that we worked so hard to keep up with over the years. It's a difficult balancing act, that doesn't seem to get easier no matter how many hours a sleep I get a night. Sometimes, I seriously weigh going out with sleeping longer, and I'll be honest, sleep usually wins, but I've come to reason that spending time with friends, as well as family, is more important than sleeping an extra hour, when it's probably going to be just as difficult to get out of bed the next morning. I don't want to look back at my life and think of all the times I got a good nights sleep, because quite frankly, who cares? I'm going to want to flip through photo albums filled with travels, with good food, and fun, memorable times with friends and family.

Over the years, I've lost many friends - we outgrew one another, we stopped talking, or we just lost touch. I've been so grateful to reconnect with some old friends quite recently, while keeping my current friendships in tact. It doesn't take much now a days, just a quick text telling the other you're thinking of them, wishing them luck on a current endeavor, or asking what days they're free next week, giving them plenty of time to schedule in a date just for you. Now believe me, I'm not the perfect friend, but I've begun to realize that it takes work, from all individuals, and sometimes it's harder than any one thought possible. 

It's not about the amount of time you spend with someone either, as long as you're both present and available during the time you spend together, that's all that matters; whether it's for a quick lunch date for salads, a dinner date followed by loads of conversation, or just a quick coffee before bed. 
In the past few weeks I've caught up with my friend who is still in college, with a difficult schedule -
we went out to dinner and enjoyed some sangria over conversations about life, love, and our new workout schedules, or lack there-of. I've caught up with an old friend, who I hadn't seen in a year or two, during a quick lunch date, eating salads and talking about what has happened in our lives since graduation. I was also able to grab lunch with another friend who I hadn't seen in months.

Sure, I've been able to go out with Sal's friends, but these are my girlfriends, and girl time is much different than going to the bar with a bunch of men.

So don't let 'life get in the way', just LIVE

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tony Stark & Pepper Potts

This year Halloween was quite different than the last years, and I'm not complaining. I had to work at the hospital during the day, but I was able to go in early enough to get home with enough time to get ready to go out with friends.

At work, some of the nurses and other child life specialists dressed up for the children. It took me quite some time to finally decide what I was going to be and I was leaning towards a minion or Super Mario, until I was in the halloween store and I found a woody costume that would be perfect with my cowboy boots! Since it'd give me another chance to wear my cowboy boots, I was sold. It was easy and comfortable to wear, except I hadn't realized I'd be running around the floor with cowboy boots on (my feet were a little bit sore when I finally took them off).  The children loved it, as did most of the staff; and it made the day fun. The children couldn't dress up or go out trick or treating, which I never thought about prior to working in a hospital. Even while I was volunteering and interning in hospitals, I never thought of children being in the hospital on holidays. While you may be thinking Halloween isn't a huge holiday to miss, it is to a 7 year old who planned to dress up as his favorite super hero and have a candy competition with his friends. We were able to bring joy to children though, even the babies who would be missing their first halloween, by doing reverse trick or treating! We handed out halloween bags that morning (though pillow cases could have worked just as well; remember those days?!), and we had the nurses and staff participate by knocking on their door, saying 'TRICK OR TREAT,' and giving them a small toy or knick knack ... does anybody still say knick knack anymore? The children, as well as the parents, loved it, and were happy their children were able to celebrate halloween in a special way. We also had ongoing crafts in the playroom, with the help of volunteers, and passed out cupcakes, as well as their own mini pumpkins! While we couldn't carve the pumpkins, some kids used markers to draw on them.

It was incredible seeing the resiliency of children in the hospital; while they were upset in the days prior to, they were no longer upset when they had a bag filled with special toys. I bet they didn't think they'd be celebrating at all in the hospital. Hopefully it made it a little less scary and a lot more fun.

When I got home, I had a bit of a wardrobe change, transforming myself into Pepper Potts. Not sure who she is? Have you ever seen Iron Man? Pepper Potts is Tony Stark's girlfriend. Tony Stark being Iron Man himself, and who, you ask, would be Tony Stark... well Sal would be. Sal had it in his mind that he wanted to be Tony Stark, not Iron Man, just Tony. Joking around, I said it would be funny if I was Pepper, only I didn't have blonde hair. He decided that after 5 years, it was time for us to actually dress up as a couple on Halloween. While I wasn't against the idea, I wasn't completely sold, until he told me that I could wear business attire, and just had to add on a blonde wig. I have to admit something though; the minute I put the blond wig on, I cried. Identity crisis commence! I was fine once I got into character, and kept repeating that I could take the wig off once the night was over. Once we were both dressed, and I had my ID badge on, along with my Stark Industries notebook in hand, we looked quite like the characters themselves! We headed out with our friends, and while I thought it was obvious who we were, we had to explain it to some, but I didn't mind. It was funny to see what people chose to dress up as, all while enjoying a few cocktails.

I learned a few things about myself that day... #1 being that I will never, ever dye my hair blonde.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mom's birthday usually lasts all month; and boy do I enjoy her singing, "It's my birthday, it's my birthday' all October long. Despite her belief that a birthday should be celebrated all month long, we only celebrate the weekend of her birthday. Last year, I threw her a surprise 50th birthday party, inviting all her friends to a local bar and restaurant, with decorations and a birthday cake too! While it wasn't a huge get together this year, it still included most of my mom's friends and the people that mean a lot to her, especially my brother who came home from school just for her birthday.

I couldn't get there until after work, but my mom didn't mind; it was the fact that I was there that showed I cared, and really, how could I miss my mom's birthday!? When I arrived I made my mom open her birthday gift. I had went to Pandora earlier in the week to get more charms for her bracelet that we promised we'd attempt to fill it with each occasion that passed. I had originally planned on getting her two charms, but fell in love with three of them when I paired them together on the string in the store. When she opened up the box, her eyes filled with tears. She immediately realized the significance of all of them: an opal for her birth stone, angel wings in memory of my grandmother, her mother, and pink and purple sea glass, that signified the ocean/beach, where my grandma loved to spend her time, looking for shark teeth.

We eventually ordered pizza and drinks, and thankfully, knowing the bartender meant that he was there whenever we needed another round. Clashing of plates, screaming happy birthday while the cake was brought out, and laughing so hard we received quite the looks from the surrounding tables, meant that it was a successful night, aside from the fact that they served my mom a slice of carrot cake with a candle on it... who even eats carrot cake?! Ever heard of ice cream cake? We snapped a few pictures, and before we knew it the night was coming to an end. My mom wasn't ready to call it a night though, (I swear sometimes I think she has more energy than I do), so she stayed out for a little longer with her friend. While I'm all for celebrations, there are just some nights after work where I don't have an extra ounce of energy, and I can't force my eyes to stay open any longer. I know that my mom had a great time though, because we were all there, for her. 

Happy Birthday Mom - I love you so, so much. You deserve all the happiness in the world. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Cottage for Two

In the past, I was always looking to Sal to see if we would be able to afford a day trip or a weekend getaway. Since landing a full-time job, I have been able to spend more money to travel, both near and far. I had a three day weekend recently, and decided that I wanted to get away with Sal for a night. We looked at locations with wineries in Pennsylvania, and then asked for recommendations from friends. Luckily, Kristyn over at Creative with Kristyn, one of my friends I met through Tone It Up, suggested the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail. Once we heard there was a trail, there was no way we could pass up the opportunity. While we could have just stayed in an inexpensive hotel, I wanted to make it more memorable, giving us the feel that we were all alone in the country. That was when I found Glasbern Inn, and their small, cozy cottages for two. I was hesitant at first to click reserve, but when I did, I found that the excitement was starting to build. Whenever Sal and I have plans to go away, I get nervous, and my heart starts to beat fast. We've been away plenty of times, but that feeling doesn't seem to fade, which is quite exciting. It makes me live in the moment and be aware of everything going on around me, not what's happening on social media. We don't turn on the TV or check our phones; we just enjoy the days together.

We set off rather early, and still arrived before check-in, so we decided to explore the town, heading to the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley. We walked around, peeking in the windows of all of the shops, but not going in, because we're not shoppers, quite frankly, unless we need anything. Instead, we noticed that our hunger was starting to strike, and so we decided to eat lunch at one of the restaurants, which reminded me a lot like Panera. Afterwards, we headed back to the Clover Hill Winery, a beautiful, modern winery, where we tried impeccable wine. The views were incredible, even on a cloudy day, and I felt so warm and welcome as soon as we walked inside. We ended up buying a bottle of wine or two. Since it was still early, we headed to another winery nearby, Vyncrest Vineyards and Winery, which had a more farm feel to it. The lady who served us our wine was extremely friendly, and some a wine was great. We bought another bottle or two while we were there.

We headed to our cottage to check in, and instantly fell in love. We walked into our cottage and knew we could live there forever if we had to (okay, no one would even need to force me to live there).  A fireplace, a small couch for two, a sleep number bed, AND a jacuzzi upstairs, what else does one need? After we settled in and cuddled up on the couch for a few, we decided to explore the grounds, and we took a long walk, noticing the color of the trees changing, the animals who provided everyone that lived there and visited with meat, eggs, and everything in between. We held hands as we walked in silence. We were back in the cottage before we knew it, but not before we raced up the hill, which may or may not have led to no where. After cleaning off, we headed to dinner in the main farm house, dressed to impress. We ordered drinks, and looked over the menu, where over half of the apps and entrees were made farm-raised and home-grown. We both ordered salads, fresh from their garden with fruits and nuts. Then the main course arrived; Sal had ordered the steak with fries, and I had ordered the pork loin with veggies and potatoes. Though the size was rather small, it was delicious, and it left us with room for dessert. Most of the time when we go out, we never have room for dessert, so this was a great treat! I had the pumpkin cheesecake, which was probably one of the best that I've ever had, and Sal had the chocolate cake, which was so rich and decadent, I could only try one bite.

We ran down the cobblestone road in the rain to our cottage. Neither of us had thought to bring a jacket or umbrella to dinner, making it quite an exhilarating run! We lit a fire in the fireplace, and immediately started running the jacuzzi up the spiral stairs, popping open a bottle of strawberry wine and pairing it with the chocolate wine we had bought in NY. The night ended with us playing Hangman, because I refused to let us be sucked into the TV. While I never did find my number, I fell asleep before I knew it.

The next morning we awoke, and remembered that they were serving farm raised breakfast, and while it took us awhile to actually get out of bed, we were glad when we finally did. Breakfast was incredible, and I wish I could have had a second plate!

We had wanted to hike that day, but it was raining and so we ditched that plan. There were two more wineries we were to visit that day, so we packed up our things, and left our cottage behind, certainly not until after we snapped a picture of every inch. Blue Mountain Vineyards and Cellars was our first winery that day, and I was immediately put off by the look of the building, and eventually even more so when we walked inside. They had a dog walking around, and while I love dogs, I don't want to have one rubbing against my leg while I'm trying to taste wine. I wasn't a huge fan of the wine, but we did end up buying two bottles to make sangria with, hoping it tastes better with fruit in it. I was upset, but happy that it wasn't our last stop. Pinnacle Ridge Winery ended up being Sal's favorite, but I think that's because he instantly became friends with our wine tasting server. The wine there was great, and I loved the feel of the winery as soon as we walked in. You were able to see the barrels and barrels of wine, and although no one was making any, it had the distinct feel of a magical place. Sal told me it reminded him of his grandfather's basement, where he used to make wine. We were recommended to a pizza place for lunch, and while I'm usually weary of pizza any where other than in NJ or NY, we tried the place, and it ended up filling us up enough for our ride home.

I couldn't believe how fast our two days had gone, and though it didn't go exactly as we had planned, we made long lasting memories, and we made them together. Plans never go exactly like you planned, but I have found that it's better to focus on each and every solitary moment in a positive manner, than by focusing on the negative.