Saturday, August 30, 2014

Chocolate & Wine Tasting

Groupon has proved to be the best time and time again for date nights. I was scrolling through one night while laying in bed, when I came across a Groupon for a wine and chocolate tasting at Bar Academy 101, I purchased it. It may have been my sleepy mind that caused me to click buy, but I did it. Between our schedules, we had a difficult time scheduling a day to go, but the owner worked with us and we found a night to go. I went into work early, so I could get out earlier and we could make it on time.

When we arrived, we were uneasy while walking into the building. It was right in the middle of a safe town, and a not so safe town, but we held hands and walked in the door and up the stairs. It was until we met the owner, the man who Sal had spoken with on the phone, and he showed us to our seats at a high table that we were able to breathe. Not only were there other people there, but the space seemed comfortable and inviting with the dimmed lights and music. At our table was wine glasses, a small plate for the chocolate, and a packet with information about the wine and chocolate.

The man came around and filled our glasses, and then gave us a piece of chocolate, explaining the flavors and why they was paired together. There were a few that we didn't enjoy, but that didn't stop us from eating every last bite, and drinking all the wine. It was fun and interactive, and as we walked out we couldn't stop saying how glad we were that we went.

I'm not sure if it was the wine talking or not, but we were giggly and happy, so we chose to keep the night going and head to a restaurant nearby for some food, seeing as we didn't eat before. I know, that wasn't a very smart idea, but we were short on time. It ended up being such a great night; we loved it so much that we're trying to go back there for a sangria tasting night!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Summer Birthdays

This summer we celebrated my brother's 22nd birthday, and his girlfriend's 21st.

Her 21st brought up feelings of sadness for how fast time has passed since my own 21st, but I was also happy that she was experiencing it herself. It's one exciting birthday, and I was glad I was able to celebrate with her, my brother, and her friends and family. We went out to a new bar and it turned out to be such a fun night. I didn't feel 3 years older than her, and yet I didn't feel as if I was 21 again. There's that saying, "you're only as old as you feel," and I can tell you that I do not feel old. Like they say, age is just a number! Cliche saying after cliche saying, but it's the truth. We danced all night, and I still woke up the next morning for work. 

A few weeks later, we celebrated my brother's 22nd birthday, but nothing too crazy. Once I got out of work, I met my family at a local pizza restaurant for drinks and pizza. We kept thinking about how fast the past year went, and how he would be leaving us for medical school in just a few short weeks. We headed home to sing to him with cupcakes my mom had made, and I may have shed a few tears, realizing this may be the last birthday that we celebrate with him at home. 

It never ceases to amaze me how fast time flies. Each day seems to tick slowly by, and then before we know it a year has gone by and we're celebrating yet another birthday.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What Lights Up Your Life?

Ever wonder what draws us to fireworks? Is it the loud noise they make when they're fired into the night sky? Is it the colors that show for just a second? Or is it the anticipation we feel after one disappears in the blink of an eye, knowing another one is soon to follow? I was never afraid of fireworks as a little kid, and I'm especially not afraid of them now. Instead, I'm fascinated by them. Every 4th of July, I find fireworks nearby, and make sure I get a seat with a great view, but honestly any seat has a great view - whether it's sitting in a chair near where they're going off, or in the back of a pick up truck in a field.

They make me smile, no matter how short the show is. And I look forward to going to see them when July comes around. I sit back and marvel at the beauty of them, and think about life. Who would have thought that fireworks would be thought provoking? Of course, they're childish and fun, but they're so much more. They light up the night sky for just a few seconds, a few minutes, and it gives you a chance to think about what lights up your life. Is it that person you're sitting next to watching them? How about your job that you look forward to every day? No, it's a feeling or maybe it's just the fireworks in that moment. It's something different for everyone. For me, my life is lit up by all the little moments spent with the people I love. When I think back, I think about each moment that made me smile, made me laugh, and even those life changing moments filled with tears. Those are my fireworks, each and every day. They light up my mind, just like the 4th of July. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Foam Fest 2014

If you would have asked me if you should do the Foam Fest after last year's run, I would have said "Hell Yea!" I completed the run with Sal and two ladies who I met through kickboxing. It was difficult, and yet so fun. We found ourselves facing an uphill battle against obstacles full of mud and foam, inflatables and pits.

Unfortunately, this year was not the same. I am glad that none of my friends paid money to join me, because it would have been a major let down for them - as it was for Sal and I. We had such high expectations from the run last year, but we knew it was going to be terrible when we arrived. It was in Brooklyn, which isn't a terrible drive, but it's long nonetheless. As soon as we got in line to sign in, we realized that we were not going to make our race time. Even though we had gotten there early, much earlier than the papers said to, we waited in line for what seemed like an hour, because the volunteers did not have their act together. I wasn't the only one in line who was annoyed, everyone was getting frustrated. And who could blame them? When we finally signed in, we quickly ran to the bathroom and hopped on line for the next race time. We were still excited for the race to start, and weren't about to let the sign in process get us down.

Sal and I were at the head of the line, and when we heard that bell go off, we started running! Obstacle after obstacle we were let down. Sal had his Go-Pro on to capture some great moments. We found ourselves running on concrete for longer than any other obstacle course run that we've ran. It seemed the obstacles were far and few in between. When we did finally reach an obstacle, most of them had a line, which caused us to wait even longer. When we reached the end, we came to the biggest inflatable slide, and I'm pretty sure that was the highlight of the race. We crossed the finish line together and received our medals and free photos were taken, which I loved. Races usually make you pay for photos, so I was glad ours was free, especially after such a terrible run.

We made it though, and enjoyed our free Mike's Hard afterwards. We won't be doing this run next year, although I hear that even if we want to, we can't since Foam Fest (as well as many other runs) have went bankrupt. We'll just have to find more funs to do together!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cowgirl Kristyn & Cowboy Sal

Earlier this year, Sal and I chose to spend our vacation in Florida. My friend, Olivea, was living there at the time for school, and proposed the idea that a bunch of us go down for the Country Superfest. It wasn't hard to convince me to take a few days off to see her in her element, and enjoy country music with good friends. I purchased the plane tickets, and counted down the days till we were on a plane headed to the sunshine state.

The plane ride was a bit uneasy as it was rainy when we left. We hit a little turbulence, though it felt like a lot more being that we were on such a little plane. When we finally got to her house, after what seemed like a very long ride from the airport, we were greeted by Olivea's friend, and a cute note Olivea had left while she was at her internship. Not only did she leave us a note (and a helpful map!), but she also left us towels and shot glass necklaces. We knew we were in for a great vacation. The weather was beautiful, and we weren't about to waste a day inside, so we threw on our bathing suits, and headed to her pool. 

We spent the afternoon laid out on beach chairs by the pool, soaking up the sun and breathing in the Florida air. I was so happy that we had landed safely and we now how the next few days to enjoy this.  I could not stop smiling, and my smile only got bigger when Olivea made it home from her internship. We spent a little while longer out by the pool catching up, and then we decided to head to dinner at Salt Life, on the beach. The wait was more than two hours long, and we grew bored quickly. We decided to walk to the beach, and enjoy the sunset.

By the time we walked back to the restaurant, the sun had gone down completely, and we were still told to wait. Finally, as the restaurant emptied out, and we swore we were going to be told they were closing, we were seated! We quickly ordered our drinks, and placed our appetizer order, choosing whatever the waitress recommended. She even ended up bringing us extra for free, trying to make up for the long wait. When dinner arrived, all I could say was, "mmm!" It was beyond delicious, and was well worth the wait. After many, many laughs, we walked out - happier than we had been before we arrived. We were almost at the door when Sal stopped us to take pictures with the fish tank that was featured on the show Tanked

We went home and wound up playing Cards Against Humanity, a game I had never played before. Let me just tell you, I could not stop laughing. Having never played before, made the cards that  much funnier, especially when you play with such great friends - old and new. We went to sleep with our stomachs hurting and our cheeks sore, looking forward to the next day. We woke up early, and headed to the local deli to grab sandwiches before we went to the country music festival. When we got to the stadium, we parked and chowed down. We didn't tailgate, instead we checked out the fan area, and enjoyed the music played by up and coming artists. 

The weather didn't look great, but we tried not to let it get us down. Unfortunately, the Florida weather hit us strong. There was thunder and lightning, and we found ourselves being herded inside the stadium, where it was safe. We were packed for a long time, and as time ticked by, we realized that the show was going to start extremely late. We were tired of standing, and we had all had enough. Everyone was hot and sweaty, pushing up against one another, and I wanted to leave. I wanted to lay down. The rain eventually stopped, as it always does in Florida, and the show began, but not before announcing that Big & Rich would be cut from the line up. Colt Ford came on, Little Big Town graced the stage, and then the two everyone was waiting for - Eric Church & Jason Aldean.   The first night was incredible, and as we walked back to the car, we sang the songs and chanted for the US of A! I could not wait for the following day - we were planning to make it better than today. I mean, just seeing Luke Bryan himself would make the day that much better. 

We went to bed, or fell into bed, exhausted. We woke up early the next day, and prepared. We got there early, and immediately lined up for the meet and greet. We were able to choose to meet Joe Nichols or Easton Corbin, and we ended up choosing Joe Nichols. I was excited, but again we waited. It seemed we did a lot of wasting, but in the end it was well worth it every time! He signed my ticket, and snapped a picture with me. It was Father's Day, and these artists who are dads had to spend their day putting on a show - I made sure to wish him a happy father's day, and for that I'm sure he appreciated. 

When the concert started, we heard Joe Nichols and Easton Corbin, Florida Georgia Line, and then Miranda Lambert, and finally Luke Bryan. When Luke came on, I nearly died. Even though I've seen him in concert before, he still stunned me. He's such a great performer. During his time on the stage, Jason Aldean came back out, as well as Miranda Lambert, and Joe Nichols, although I'm pretty positive Nichols was drunk, and had no clue what he was doing. We thought he was going to sing, but he just came out, stumbling and hugged, no it was more like fell into Luke's arms. The second day was definitely better, and it shines brightly in my memory. 

The next morning, some of our friends would be leaving, and I was glad that Sal and I had chosen to stay an extra day so that we could relax, something that we couldn't do the past two days. It's funny because you'd think that being on vacation, you would relax, but sometimes adventure calls me - more often than not. We still woke up early, we wanted to see the sunrise together. It was absolutely breathtaking, and to see the sun rise with people you care about, is such an incredible feeling. We walked the beach, saw starfish, all while waking up with the sun.

We left, and enjoyed lunch at this delicious local place, Mango Mangos. We ordered Pina Coladas, and I'm not sure why, but drinks like that always taste better near the beach, in the hot weather. For lunch, I ordered mahi mahi over salad. It was so fresh, and I ate every last bite. 

We hung out by the pool until Olivea came home from her internship, and then we got ready for dinner. It was just the three of us, taking on the town. After we enjoyed dinner, Olivea showed us around the town that she called home for the last two years. We explored the shops, the streets, and monuments from wars that happened long, long ago. We came upon the kissing tree, and Sal and I sealed our love underneath with a kiss. The night ended when we got our ice cream, because how else can you end a perfect day?

The next day was the day we were leaving, but we weren't about to leave without exploring the town on our own, and checking off more adventures off of our bucket list. I booked a later flight, so we had the whole day to wander around. Olivea had left us her bikes, and we grabbed them and rode around. Though we had a GPS, and Olivea's directions, we still found ourselves going the wrong way. Luckily we found what we were looking for - the lighthouse. I don't think I had ever been in a lighthouse before, and I was glad I was able to do so with Sal. We climbed the stairs, and I tried not to look down. It's not the heights I'm afraid of, but falling. I don't let fear stop me though. How could you, when you only live once?

Afterwards, we rode our bikes across the street, and chose to go zip lining over the alligator farm. Okay, Sal chose this, and I tagged along. I had always wanted to zip-line, and when I thought zip lining, I thought through the jungle on some island, not in Florida, but I am so happy that we did. With Sal lined up behind me, I wasn't frightened. I knew that I could do it, lead us. We zip lined over the alligators, and afterwards grabbed a bite to eat and walked around, enjoying the birds and alligators up close and personal.

Before we knew it, we had to go. We rode our bikes back, and quickly showered up. Our ride arrived, and we were on the plane before we knew it. Heading back home, heading back to reality. I was so happy; we had had such an unforgettable vacation, and even though I didn't want it to end, I'm so glad it happened. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

And Then We Celebrated...

Once I was showered and cleaned off after the Dirty Girl Mud Run, I was thrown into party mode. My brother's graduation party was that afternoon, and I had to help with the set up, or as much as I could in the short amount of time before the party started. Thankfully I had baked cookies for the party the night before, and just had to pick up the cake. Our backyard was decorated and set up perfectly by my dad, uncle, and brother. The food was being cooked in the smoker out front, and Sal quickly took over the grill when he arrived. We had quite the spread, and as guests arrived, they dug right in. 

I ran around catering to my grandma and her older friends, making sure they had the appetizers, and burgers when they came off the grill. I hadn't even realized I was doing it, until one of them mentioned how thankful they were. I made sure that I spent time at each table, talking to family members and friends, and making sure to have fun too! We had corn hole going in the front, as well as ladder ball - which was being taken over by my younger cousins, who were all enjoying it thoroughly. 

We ran from the front yard, down the hill to the backyard, soaking up the beautiful weather that we had and every drop of laughter we heard, especially from one of our youngest cousins. The party was in full swing. To make it even more memorable, my mom had a couple of things up her sleeves. First thing was her speech for my brother, for her son that would be leaving for med school in just a few short weeks. I am shocked that she made it through the entire thing, and thankful that I was able to catch the touching words she spoke, on video. 

Time seemed to slip away in the night, as we ate and ate, and turned up the music with each hour. By night fall, the party was in full swing and the bonfire was burning high. Dessert was brought to the dessert table, and guests helped themselves to the candy thrown about. 

My mom wasn't the only one with tricks up her sleeve though, and my brother, Kyle soon found that out. We were all talking outside by the fire, enjoying our cake, when something came over me. I  whispered to my friends and cousins, and began walking over, slowly, to my brother. Before I knew it, I smashed my piece of cake into his face. Within seconds he ran after me, and I could not remember the last time I had laughed that hard. We ran around the yard as if we were little kids again, picking on one another. I was laughing so hard that I had to stop, and that's when he got me back, with whatever cake he could pull off his face. My hair was covered, but I didn't even care. We're pretty good sports when it comes to things like this, and everyone else thought it was hysterical! I love my brother, and that one memory will last my lifetime. 

After I washed my self off for the second time that day, my mom pulled out her final surprise - the lighting of lanterns, in memory of all those who could not be there to celebrate - especially my three of my grandparents, and aunt. My mom even included those relatives of other family members who had come, and stayed when night came. We lit them, and my mom said yet another great, heartfelt speech for all those who had gone before us. As they floated into the dark sky, we held on to one another, and hoped even for a second, our message was heard. We couldn't help but stare, long after we saw their light fade. Unfortunately, now Sal has a scar on his neck that will remind me of this night forever - WARNING: for anyone that lights memory lanterns, do not stick your head underneath it while you are lighting it and waiting for it to fill with air. 

As more family started to leave, we gathered inside and took the last remaining pictures. When everyone had left, my brother made sure to get the piece of cake that he never got to eat - and ate it out of a colander. It was definitely, one memorable night - a night we celebrated my brother. 

Congratulations Kyle, you deserve all the success in the world. Keep making us proud.