Epic Road Trip Part 3: Of Sweat & DJs

Turns out that taking 6 major road trips, most of them out of state, in about a month’s period of time makes me very sleepy, behind on laundry, and least surprisingly: a slow writer. Whoops!

Where were we? I believe we’d just arrived back home from the Catholic Marketing Network show on a Thursday night (late, late at night) to discover that our air conditioning was still not fixed. Turns out, I am a Georgia girl after all. A wilting little flower who needs her cool, dehumidified air blasting from every direction lest I sweat through my clothes, gross everybody out, and whine everyone to death. Don’t get me wrong, I’m trying hard to offer up my suffering for the Holy Souls and I do pretty well with pain, exhaustion, and seemingly endless cleaning, but make me sweat when there’s nothing to dry it off and cool me down…and I’m a big old baby.

This is me. But cuter. Also, the illustrator’s blog that I found this picture on looks adorable.

The AC had been out in our townhouse for the entire week with no windows having been open or fans being blown (we were fortunately gone, remember?) It was a sauna in there. And my husband, the only person on earth who hates humid heat more than (or even as much as) I do, was my hero. He rigged an old ac unit that we’d been trying to sell on craigslist all summer to blow directly at our pull-out couch where we slept for the rest of the weekend. Because his Friday morning phone call to the leasing office only elicited a weary, “We’ll get there when we get there and it probably won’t be today” type of response. (In his defense, he was shaking so hard with trying not to lose his well-earned temper with the couldn’t-care-less office staff that he had to just hang up to keep from yelling at them. He has more patience than I do.)

So we sweated out the weekend and probably learned some really valuable lessons about how much we’d like to spend as little time in purgatory as possible. Actually, I’m hoping that at least the 24 hours of that where the weather got well into the 90s will count towards our stints. Of course, this brings up the question of if my vocation is to get him into Heaven, should I be turning off the AC more frequently? Oh, I hope not.

This is what I should have been picturing while we melted. I just love pictures of Holy Mass like this.

To wrap up a rather boring and gross half of the story: He called the office again on Monday morning asking not if, but when TODAY our air conditioning that had been broken for over a week would be fixed. And this time it worked magic. He must have been speaking to the right person, because not only did they come to fix it right away, but they also fixed our alarm, our blinds, and will supposedly be giving us a new microwave touchpad that we did not ask for or complain about very soon. Actually, I kind of like our weird microwave. It has buttons for baked potatoes and popcorn. I don’t know why they want to fix it. Suffice it to say that he got all the things fixed just in time for us to pack our bags back up (still no unloading from the last time, just washing dirty clothes) and head back out on the road.

Leg three of our adventures took us back up past where we’d just been and all the way to New York. A college friend of my husband’s was getting married at a beautiful college chapel just north of the Bronx and it was the most beautiful weather for a wedding ever. I prefer to cover my head in the presence of Our Lord, so after much awkward shuffling trying to figure out whether it was, in fact, a Catholic chapel (we were trying to see if the Blessed Sacrament was reserved there–it was, but waaaay on the side and boy were the bride’s parents confused at my leaning around door frames looking for a tabernacle), I grabbed my spare hat from the car and we rolled in.

After a lovely wedding that we were grateful to have been a part of with only one pretty dramatic appearance of the bride’s ex-boyfriend from across the country who is still friends with my husband, we settled into what was the most delicious reception ever. The food was fancy, tasty, and was passed around on plates the entire time. Maybe it’s low-brow to admit this, but I’ve never partaken of anything so fancy-shmancy. We parked ourselves by the kitchen door so we could get first-dibs, of course.

The reason that I harp on the wonders of the food is that eventually I’ll have to tell you about the horror that was the MC for the reception. Yes, I said the MC, not the DJ. Because there was a separate DJ who played music that, while not at all my taste for either listening to or for dancing to at weddings or elsewhere, many people there seemed to enjoy. The gentleman with whom we took exception was, it turns out, only there to yell into his microphone every three minutes (if someone was giving a particularly sentimental toast) or every thirty seconds (if music was playing), “PUT YOUR HANDS UP! LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE HAPPY COUPLE! CLAP YOUR HANDS RIGHT NOW OR THEY’LL NEVER BELIEVE YOU LOVE THEM!” I mean it. He wanted us to clap our hands and yell, “Woohoo!” every. thirty. seconds. We just wanted to dance.

This is kind of what it looked like to me. Fair warning, I wasn’t brave enough to follow the link after the google image search. I have no idea who this guy is supposed to be. Besides creepy.

We love to dance. I am a very blessed woman who has a husband who loves, loves, loves to dance with me at weddings. I’m usually the one who needs a rest first. But you can’t really dance when some dude is screaming in your ear about how you need to let go of the handsome man you’re dancing with a CLAP! The last straw, however, was when said MC took it upon himself to really bring the party to the crowd by shoving through all of the guests on the dance floor while bouncing up and down screaming some more about clapping. And by shoving through the crowd, I mean rubbing himself up against any female in a pretty dress, myself unfortunately included several times. At long last (by which I mean after two rub-bys during the first half of a single song), we stepped outside to get away from the flashing lights madness and had ourselves a nice romantic dance by our lonesome (or is that lonesomes? I need a grammar nazi to help me out here.) And that’s how my husband refrained from punching the MC’s lights out for the rest of the reception.

Also, in a flash forward to real-time, I think I just discovered my new calling: golf. Or more specifically, hitting golf balls at the driving range while someone else bends over to replace my just-hit ball instead of me. We went for the first time last Saturday and it was one of the most fun and cathartic times I’ve had in a while. I guess I just really like hitting stuff for no apparent reason while a man in a big cage drives around and picks up after me. (Read into it what you will; I’m not sure there is a defense.)

This was me.

Anyway, as it turns out, I’m pretty good at it! Or at least I’ve got great beginner’s luck. Now, I don’t understand what I was doing well enough to impress anyone with the distance or technical details of my golf-ball-hitting-glory, but my husband and the male friends we went with seemed pretty impressed. And just so you don’t think I’m bragging or anything, I royally stink at duck pin bowling (strange Maryland thing, the oddness of which deserves its own post,) tennis, watching football, braiding hair, and not burning things that I bake. Now it’s ok to say that I was pretty good at hitting the crap out of some measly golf balls, right? Right. I can’t wait to go hit some stuff and not get in trouble or have to clean up again. Spoken like a grown-up.

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Mea Culpa & Epic August Road Trip Pt 1

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, guys. I know that a week and a half two weeks is supposed to be an inexcusably long time to go between posts unless you’re actively in labor/bringing home a newborn, saving the world from almost-certain doom, or just really really distracted by something shiny. I have none of those excuses, so I’ll blame it on a combination of still being relatively new to the blogging world (it isn’t a habit yet, I guess) and the fact that the husband and I have been on the first (and second) leg of our whirlwind Epic Late Summer Roadtripapalooza. Yup.

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This past weekend was our first anniversary (mushy and hopefully accidentally insightful post to come about that later) and to celebrate, we went away for the weekend. To West Virginia. Why West Virginia you ask (like everyone else in the last week)? Because it was close. And less expensive than the beach. And all we really wanted to do was to get the (pardon me) hell out of dodge and relax in a nice hotel room with air conditioning, clean sheets that we didn’t have to wash, our favorite shows, maybe a pool, and an unlimited supply of tolerable coffee.

What we got was possibly the most awesomely simple and perfectly us vacation ever. It was sublime, I tell you. When we arrived late on Friday night (I had to work late at the store until about 8, but we headed out from there,) our room didn’t seem to have the advertised microwave and fridge (which was necessary due to leftovers from dinner along the way–we waste NO food in this family.) So we called down to the desk and instead of just sending up an extra little microwave and fridge like I expected, they upgraded us to a whole new GIANT room! With a jacuzzi tub. A big one. That’s what I should have taken a picture of.  It was magical. The service at this place was unbelievably wonderful. They even dug up a vase for me to put the single biggest bouquet of flowers I have ever been given (2 dozen huge, lovely roses) into so I could enjoy them all weekend. They’re almost as amazing as my husband. Well, they were pretty great.

As if procuring for me the world’s largest and most breathtakingly beautiful flowers wasn’t enough of a reminder of why I love him, my husband handed me our itinerary while we were in the car on the way there. Don’t misunderstand and think that I’m one of those people who needs every second of every day completely planned out. I’m not. Especially not on vacation. But there’s also nothing I hate worse than the frustration of not having the information you need exactly when you need it. And until a few days ago, I have never owned a phone smart enough to gather that information for me.

So my thoughtful sweetheart of a husband made me an itinerary that was exactly my favorite kind (that I didn’t even know was a possibility until he started making them for me) and a perfect example of why we work together so well. It was simple and consisted of the addresses and phone numbers for the hotel, restaurant for our dinner reservation for Saturday, the church we’d picked out for Mass on Sunday, and a couple of ice cream shops in the towns we thought we might visit. It had only two times on it: our reservations for dinner and the time of the Mass for Sunday. It was perfect. With only one firm plan for each day, but lots of options for things to choose from on a whim, it was just the right amount of planned. And the fact that he had gone through all of the trouble to type it all up in lovely tables and print out not one, but two copies for me made me feel so cared for, so thought of, and so loved. I seriously got weak in the knees right there in the car. Best. Husband. Ever.

What we wound up doing was, to the untrained eye, absolutely nothing. And to the eyes that count, it was perfection. We slept in, we ate a delicious free breakfast downstairs, and took a walk around the tiny mall that we discovered next door to our hotel.  We got coffee, ran through the rain, and had a wonderful lunch at Waffle House. Again, the awful waffle might not sound like romantic anniversary food to you, but to this Atlanta-transplant girl who mourns the fact that there are only three Waffle Houses in the entire state of Maryland, all of which are well over an hour and a half’s drive from us, it was a happy gift from God. Sometime I’ll try to explain it, but for now, let’s just saying having a Waffle House within walking distance of our hotel nearly made my trip.

To a girl from Atlanta, this place just feels like home. Greasy, yes. But still home.

To a girl from Atlanta, this place just feels like home. Greasy, yes. But still home.

After a yummy lunch and a much needed soak in that tub, we relaxed, watched our favorite shows on the DVD player we brought. That’s right–he planned so well for me that he brought our DVD player from home complete with cables and a surge protector. Unfortunately we forgot the remote for the DVD player, so that meant pestering those poor but kind souls down at the desk again to see if they had a universal remote. Miracle of miracles: they had a DVD player and remote we could borrow! Seriously guys, this place was amazing. Boy, are they gonna love their yelp review.

Us watching "His Girl Friday" in the hotel room. Bliss!

Us watching “His Girl Friday” in the hotel room. Bliss!

Our dinner reservations were for an amazing restaurant attached to a vineyard just over the border in Virginia. The food was incredible (definitely the fanciest food this budgeting family will eat all year!) and so was the view. Check this out:

Our view from the table

Gorgeous, right? The rain just made all the colors really saturated and rich.

After a night of leftover cake, more movies, wine (oh yeah, did I mention he brought our own supply of booze and didn’t forget the bottle opener?), and generally resting up, we had another yummy breakfast and headed out to Mass. We’d done our research and found this pretty little chapel in Charles Town, WV run by the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem, an order of priests which, as far as I can tell, only celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass (which we love and prefer ourselves.)  Mass was lovely and holy and we had a chance to meet with the brothers afterwards. They live in a little house right next door.

Pretty church that they're getting ready to renovate and make gorgeous!

Pretty church that they’re getting ready to renovate and make gorgeous!

We were able to walk from there to main street where we got lunch at a yummy Mediterranean place (complete with free hummus!) where I was able to have a dish that I’ve been searching for since my study abroad days in Greece many years ago. From there we explored Harpers Ferry, I hiked part of the Appalachian Trail in heels (ok, so it was just a little bit and the bridge that goes to Maryland,) and we got ourselves some ice cream and souvenirs. And then we headed home, playing a surprisingly addictive game of Words With Friends with my sister during the drive. (Ok, I found one thing I can do on this new gadgety phone.) We had a lovely dinner and ate our anniversary cake, which was oh so delicious. I’m not kidding. The huge tier of cake that took up most of our tiny freezer for a year was worth it. Check out how we re-wrapped it up and re-froze it since we were leaving for part two of our adventure the next day:

Re-cutting the cake

Re-cutting the cake

Wrapped back up!

Wrapped back up!

We are little pleasures people. And so blessed to be so. It turns out that the world is a pretty wonderful place when you can treat every little win like it’s a big one. A thousand little wins helps to balance out the worst parts of the hard days (of which there certainly are plenty). I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I actually love to make big lists of all the little happy things that make up a day. Like this post, apparently. I’m hoping that what I lack in timeliness, I make up for in lack of brevity. 😉

Coming soon…Part 2 in which we attend the Catholic Marketing Network trade show and get very sweaty.

7 Belated Not-So-Quick Takes

First ever 7 Quick Takes!

— 1 —

Sooo the weekend of friends visiting and helping people move got away from me and these “Friday Seven Quick Takes” have turned into “As long as it’s done by Sunday that’ll be good enough, right?” Takes. Sorry for the delay of this exciting post that you did not know you were expecting. 🙂
I’m pretty psyched to do my first 7QT. So psyched, in fact, that I’m not even paralyzingly self-conscious that they might be lame. Because everyone knows that you can’t make random lists on the internet without being held accountable for the level of awesome that you add to people’s day. And let’s be clear about that too: My draw to this lovely method of sharing a little bit with other lovely bloggers is based almost entirely on the fact that I get to make a big list. I’ll do my best to refrain from creating sub-lists.

— 2 —

MY BEST FRIEND IN THE WHOLE WORLD IS COMING TODAY! I’m more obnoxiously excited than caps-lock can convey. She’ll only be here long enough for dinner as she passes through on a road trip to Philadelphia, but I’m over the moon. I haven’t seen her since our wedding nearly a year ago! We met in third grade through sharing crayons in what was supposed to be a gifted class, but was really just about doing those little brain teaser puzzles all day and were…friendly. Not best friends ever yet, but friendly all the same. And then, one horrible day during an assembly on the first day of fourth grade, she sat behind me and must have made a face at something entirely random, but which I thought was directed at me, which caused me to make a face in return, which caused us both to mistakenly think the other one hated us for the remainder of the year. That, folks, is exhibit A of why it’s important to make our assumptions with charity about one another. Because when you don’t, you miss out on a whole year of life-altering best friendship.

Not to fear though, on day one of fifth grade we both quickly looked around the room, realized we knew no one else in our class, and literally simultaneously ran to one another calling each others’ name in great big bear hugs. That’s when our best friendship started. It was magic and I will probably never know what gave each of us the sudden confidence to act like we’d been besties all along. Other than God, of course. Clearly, this was a friendship made in Heaven. We’ve been so blessed over the years to stay close even when we’ve had to go months (or in a few cases, years) without seeing each other or even speaking much over the phone. So tonight we’re gonna party like it’s elementary school!

— 3 —

Thursday was mine and hubby’s 11th “mensaversary” (mens=month…yes, we’re that quirky.) We made a promise when we got married that we would make sure that we gave ourselves a date night at least once a month. To hold ourselves accountable, we decided that we’d set date night on (or as close to when it doesn’t work out) the 4th of the month to line up with the date of our anniversary. So far it’s been working REALLY well. We missed one month entirely back in March because I had just had major surgery, he was starting a new job, and–quite frankly–we had both lost track of what day of the month it was. Our days just blurred together. We made up for it later in the month though when we realized what had happened.

Do you do something like that for date nights?

That said, the fourth of July was date night. We had it all planned to go out for a nice dinner (in our world, that’s Red Lobster) and just spend some time together. What we wound up doing was SO MUCH BETTER. We stayed inside. All day. Just us. It was amazing. It’s only recently since he started the new job that we started getting weekends and holidays off together, so having a whole day to ourselves is still a real treat. We slept in, cooked, watched our favorite tv shows, played on our computers side-by-side a little while, ordered in Chinese food, and basked in the joy of each other’s company. We only walked out the front door in the evening to watch the multitude of fireworks being set off in our neighborhood. These, by the way, included the most awesomely huge and close illegal industrial-type fireworks ever being shot off from the backyard of the house across the street. They were over our heads and HUGE. And AMAZING. They would do them in small batches every twenty minutes or so, but they’d be over quickly, so every time we heard one going off, we’d drop everything, sprint for the door, and run outside to watch what we could. It was a great day.

— 4 —

I was all set to give you a great post about what I decided to do with these bananas:

Sad, spoiling bananas

Sad, spoiling bananas

I actually have a plan and what I think is a pretty great idea. I was all set to do the whole “experiment and take pictures because that’s what blog people do” thing, and very excitedly and proudly told my husband all about my yummy plans. He was super pumped–until he remembered that he had to crush my spirit by informing me that he had been a good and thoughtful husband (and reasonable) and had thrown those smelly suckers in the trash since, apparently, they had attracted a “cloud of tiny flies.” I swear our house is not that nasty. But nevertheless, because I have a helpful husband, you have no banana experimentation. His solution was to buy the ripest bananas from the store, wait a few more days and just pretend I’d gotten busy. He wanted me to lie. :p Which I maybe would have done if I didn’t need to use it as fodder for 7 Quick Takes. But rest assured, there will be new bananas and I WILL make a delicious experiment with them and share the results–for better or for worse.

— 5 —

We helped two of our best friends move into their very first house yesterday! (One more reason for this delayed post.) It’s a beautiful little house for two beautiful people who will, God willing, fill it up with beautiful little people! The whole day was somehow very thrilling. I know most people would rather die a fiery death than move or unpack or help someone else do those things, but I think I get some kind of weird jollies from it. I’ve moved what feels like countless times over my life, most of them over the past 6-8 years of my adult life, and while the moving OUT part is terrible, I really enjoy the unpacking, the settling in, the methodically going through boxes one at a time with a glass of wine and a favorite tv show or cd on. And my favorite room in the world to unpack, the one that I always, always, always unpack first that instantly makes me feel like a billion-pound anvil has been lifted off of my chest is the kitchen. Once my plates, pots and pans are accessible and I can cook, it’s officially a home. Not a moment before. Am I alone in this?

— 6 —

Update on those mushroom burgers that were marinating in their super-photogenic Ziplock bag in the freezer here:

Waiting to become Mushroom burgers

Waiting to become Mushroom burgers

They were delicious. So delicious that we forgot to take any pictures. Sorry. I’m going to have to learn how to grow an extra set of hands so I can take pictures of things while I do them instead of doing a thousand other things and then remembering after we’ve already devoured the food and have nothing left to take a picture of. I’ll do better next time. But for the record, they were incredible.

We stemmed and cleaned out our Portabello Mushrooms and soaked them in the fridge for 2+ hours in a marinade of about 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, a little salt and a little more pepper. Then we grilled them up on the stove until they looked mouth-watering, melted some provolone on top, and stacked it on a toasted Italian bread bun. The only extra that I forgot to do and will try next time is to add some caramelized onions to the burger. I think it’ll be meatless Friday HEAVEN.

— 7 —

It’s harder to come up with 7 of these things than it looks. I almost chickened out and used my “Oops now these are belated” blurb at the beginning as a number one. But that wouldn’t have been fair. So instead, I leave you with this make-believe take while I run off to start some laundry, sun tea, cleaning, and if I’m really on the ball, at least two meals for the week. Enjoy reading all of those other great Quick Takes!

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