Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Decor . . . wanna see?

I double dog love decorating for holidays . . . all the holidays.  I love it even more now that the kids are older, and they can help.  And by help I mean they bring up the storage bins from the basement and spread crap everywhere . . . which means I'm forced to decorate because I can't take the chaos.  So yes, they are super helpful.

Now some people who live here (cough, Getzy, cough) think decorations themselves are chaos.  Why he feels this way is a mystery . . . although I do say that when it comes to holiday decorating, more is more. 

Let's start with the outside . . . it's way more impressive at night when things are lit up, but it's pretty Halloween-tastic in the day as well!
Getzy really needs to clean up the yard. 
I haven't got the time with all the decorating to be done.
Getzy keeps telling me my blow up pumpkin is on his last "leg."  I keep telling him to shut the hell up.  I should probably inspect for sabotage.  I will say the kids do the outside decorating . . . including staking down the blow ups and spreading cobwebs.  Not too shabby, and I didn't have to do it.  Winning!

Moving inside . . . I'm only going to highlight the major areas . . . I have little bits and pieces of Halloween cheer all over the place.  And I mean that . . . I like nice Halloween décor . . . cute little pumpkins, bats, witches, etc.  I am most definitely not into body parts, scary stuff or anything zombie.  Yuck.

Here is the desk area near my kitchen/breakfast nook . . .
Yes, clearly my desk is always this clean and clutter free.  Ok fine . . . that is some serious Halloween clutter.  I know.
Cute, right?  I especially love the things the kids have made over the years . . . like the paper bag owl, the glitter spider web and the little clay owl on the left.  Yes, I keep all the things.  Hashtag hoarder.

Here's a funny touch that I've literally kept in the same place since Amanda put it out, unless I was brewing coffee . . .
I never use the mug because it's too small . . .
not enough coffee to get the day off to a proper start.
The back story is she wanted to decorate around September first for Halloween, but I kept putting her off . . . finally one day she "decorated" when I wasn't home with what she could find.  She put out a Halloween mug and a candy dish of candy corn.  I giggle about it even as I type.  I thought it was so sweet . . . and desperate.  I do love her love of all things holiday.

So moving along to the fireplace . . . this shiz in Pinterest worthy fo sho!  Ok, maybe just in my own head, but I was happy with how it turned out . . . and the kids thought it was awesome.  Thank you very much.
Yeah, that mum is already dead.  And lots of this shiz lights up  . . . LED style.  #classy
Perhaps I should draw your attention to some of my favorite things here . . . the first being the mantel cover . . . or whatever you call the quilted decoration.
She actually made that . . . with fabric and thread.  Impressive!
My friend Debbie made that for me as a gift.  She knows, and appreciates, my love of all things holiday.  I'll never understand her skill, or patience, for that matter, to use fabric to make pictures, but it's awesomeness.  I will cherish it forever.  And ever.

Note:  I'm a sucker for a handmade gift.  If you make me something, specifically just for me, I feel loved.  I know you've thought about me when I'm not with you.  I know you are trying to make me smile.  Ok, I'm a sucker for all gifts, but ones people make with their own hands are super cool.

The bats . . . ok, nothing special about those . . . bought a pile of them for a buck at the Dollar Tree . . . but I love they way they pull it all together.  I seriously felt so smart.  I may, or may not, have seen something similar on Pinterest.

The things the kids made . . . mostly back in preschool.  I think our school aged kids are being short changed in a way . . . would it be so terrible if they made a holiday craft or two instead of school work?  No.  The answer is no.  We can make stuff at home, but it's way more fun to make a mess with your friends at school.

My advice to you if you want some seriously braggadocious décor . . . get a mom that will go buy cool shit at yard sales, spend November first running around from store to store for discounted décor and save all the shit your kid's bring home.  All of it.  Even the "mummy" that is a crepe paper wrapped toilet paper roll.  He (or she, I suppose) is one of my favorites.  Or the painted rocks pumpkins.  Those are cute too!
Simple . . . but effective.  And full of sweet memories.
Here is another set of home made items I love . . . a lot.  I still keep in touch with the family I used to babysit for when I was a teenager.  They are like the sweetest people on the face of the planet, and I love to visit them when I go home.  I think it's super cute because they had two boys and then a little girl . . . who has two little girls of her own now.  OMG, that just made me feel old . . . especially since I've known her since she was born.  Well, Ms. B loves to quilt and makes the most festive pillowcases for my children and sends them in the mail.  I die.  Of love for her.  They use these the month of October on their beds, and then they are the trick or treat bags Halloween night!
Don't you love these?  Halloween décor for your bed = awesome!
I've saved the best for last . . . the piece de resistance of my Halloween arsenal.  I apparently stuffed this actual paper picture in one of my Halloween bins last year.  I found it this year, and thought it deserved to be preserved.  Ha, that rhymed.
The picture isn't crooked . . . apparently I am.  And the green spot is a glare, because clearly I'm an awesome photographer. 
So I take it Michael's to be framed.  I used my coupon, and my coupon's coupon, and still paid what felt like eleventy thousand dollars.  But it's so profesh . . . and I'll have it forever.  That's what I tell myself to justify it anyway.  And then I can pass it on to Amanda, the artist. And when asked what she used to create it, she says, in her best French artist accent, "Oil pastels."  Oh la la.
 
Happy Halloween!
 
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New Orleans Fun

Are you sick of hearing about me celebrating my 40th birthday yet?  Yeah, me neither! 

Ah, where to begin . . . four days on my girls' weekend was just right to refresh and recharge . . . not that you can call New Orleans fresh!  My friends not only kept the destination a surprise, they decided to keep me on a need to know basis for the whole trip and had fun surprises for me everyday . . . as they liked to say, "We've got magic to do!"  They are suckas because they know I'm a control freak . . . but quite frankly, there aren't many surprises in life so I actually loved all the suspense . . . and attention!   

My ladies know I love a road trip so we left bright and early on Friday and headed to NOLA!  It really wasn't that far . . . maybe 7ish hours?  When you're talking, laughing and eating snack mix (standard girls' weekend munchies), time flies!  And speaking of attention, they had beads and a cute little fascinator waiting for me . . . I literally wore it for four solid days unless I was sleeping.  It felt so normal in NOLA . . . not so much when I got back home!

We made a little stop in Birmingham to visit Cindy's fabulous mama . . . we love us some Carol!  She has the best southern accent and equally loves us back . . . two great qualities!

The start of an amazing and memorable trip . . .
After a little Panera and chatting, we were off again.  We hit the border into Louisiana . . . so exciting; crossed Lake Pontchartrain . . . excitement building; and then, rolled up into New Orleans . . . let the games begin!  We immediately started looking for those drive thru daiquiri places once we crossed into Louisiana . . . why aren't they on the actual border?  I digress . . .
 
Now dudes won't sleep in the same bed and barely will share a hotel room, but us ladies figure the more the merrier and will all pile in without question!  As a result, we like to treats ourselves to swanky hotels and pretend we are living the high life.  For this trip, my ladies surprised me with the beautiful Windsor Court Hotel in the French Quarter.  Behold . . .
Fancy . . . just like us ladies!  Ha!
We dropped our bags, took a moment to relish in the opulence and then headed out in search of food . . . and a cocktail!  The French Quarter was hopping, and we were starving, so we picked a location without a huge line . . . Bourbon House Seafood
It should be noted I hate bourbon and seafood . . . winner!
My friends kept telling me I needed to "build a base" for our next activity.  You don't have to tell me twice to eat like it's my job . . .  I snarfed down a muffaletta sandwich. 
 
We still had time before the evening "magic" so we took a stroll down Bourbon Street.  I grew up coming to New Orleans to visit family so I knew what to expect . . . this was the first time for my friends, and I think they were a little surprised at the crazy.  The best line of the evening was a rather rotund lady working the door of her establishment . . . she was trying to entice these seemingly innocent fellows to come into her place of business . . . she says, "Don't be skeerd, I ain't gonna rape you."  OMG . . . cracked up us. 
Seriously, you have to drink booze . . . on the street . . . out of a fishbowl when in NOLA! 
The Friday night surprise was a walking, historical cocktail tour of the French Quarter led by the fabulous Elizabeth Pearce of Drink and Learn!  We flat out thought she was the best and wanted to add her as a fifth to our group!
Elizabeth of Drink and Learn . . . loved her!
She was an amazing orator, knew so much history about the French Quarter and loves her booze . . . my kind of girl!  The tour provided the cocktails . . . she would walk us to a location, give us some local history and the reason the drink of choice is important to New Orleans culture.  Two of my least favorite things in life are whiskey and black licorice . . . the drink of New Orleans is the Sazerac, a mixture of whiskey, absinthe (licorice liquor) and sugar.  I took a sip, spit it back in the cup and then emptied it in a potted plant . . . I'm sure it's seen much worse!  Nonetheless, this was definitely a highlight of our trip, and we would highly recommend it!
 
My friends bought me Elizabeth's book, The French Quarter Drinking Companion.  She signed it with a lovely note . . . "To the Boozy Rascal - On her 40th birthday in New Orleans - a city you never forgot, but full of nights you don't quite remember."  It made me so happy!
 
Sadly, our tour was over so we moseyed our way back to Bourbon Street and Tropical Isle . . . frozen drinks were had by all, or worn by, in the case of poor Andrea.  We no sooner had our "grenades" when some drunk dude elbows a full drink into Andrea's lap . . . ah, cold! 
These drinks didn't spill . . . but they were gone!
At this point snacks were necessary so we went to Felix's to tame the liquid diet . . . let's just say that "to Felix" now has a new meaning in our social circle.  Eeeewwww.
I had their red beans and rice . . . tasty!
My brilliant friends plan a surprise for me that involves leaving the hotel . . . at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday!  I wasn't so sure that was a great idea when I was trying to wash off the New Orleans shame with a shower at 4 a.m.  I woke up and smelled like a smoky bar and could not take it . . . I needed to pull it together.  I went back to sleep for a couple of hours and rallied like the true champ . . . and tourist . . . that I am!
 
My surprise was a Honey Island Swamp Tour in Slidell, and it was awesome!!  We loved our tour guide, Brian, and appreciated his skill of gator calling.  Now we just want to know, "What does the fox say?"  Ok, I seriously crack myself up.
Would totally recommend and can't wait to take the kids someday!

The tour was two hours long, and I could have stayed out there all day!  Who knew the swamp could be so gorgeous?  The tour boats are allowed to feed the gators marshmallows and hot dogs per the game warden . . . those foods will not harm their natural hunting cycle.  Apparently their nutritional value is low . . . uh, duh.  The gators recognize the tour boats and shimmy right up for their treats.  Loved it.  Some of my new friends and their beautiful home . . . 

Uhm, yeah . . . raccoons are freaking adorable when they are eating marshmallows. 
They wash their hands after. 

We hightailed it out after the tour, made a quick change at the hotel, hopped in a cab and headed for our next surprise destination . . . lunch at Commander's Palace Restaurant
This was a colorful beacon in a random neighborhood of NOLA!

My friends did their research and wanted to make sure we visited the most famous restaurants in New Orleans . . . they know I love a landmark and a place with some history!

Let the fun begin!

It really was a fabulous place to visit.  We were seated in the garden room, and it felt like we were among the trees.  Each table was set with balloons . . . it felt very upscale with a whimsical twist.  The wait staff was so friendly and went out of their way to make sure we were taken care of . . . I was even serenaded TWICE for my birthday!  My cheeks hurt from smiling so much. 
Sure, it's my birthday . . . again . . . in October.  Let's just go with it!
After such an early morning, we decided to add a nap into our busy schedule . . . we needed to make sure we were ready to enjoy a full evening of fun!  Some of us are more fabulous than others while napping . . . this girl is freaking hysterical and makes me laugh until I cry . . . love her!
You don't nap like this?
We woke up refreshed and ready to roll . . . I should probably mention that I went easy on the cocktails with only one Bloody Mary at lunch.  I think I was still over my quota from the previous night.  Winky face.
 
We strolled over to the Roosevelt Hotel and relaxed in the comfy seating area of the Sazerac Bar.  We chatted here for awhile and then went in search of some dinner.  We ended up at Desire, a restaurant at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, right on Bourbon Street.  Since I don't eat seafood, I enjoyed red beans and rice at most places, including here . . . it's one of my all time favorite dishes.  So good.  Then we called it a night . . .
Guess what?  I had the red beans and rice!
Sunday we woke up to another day of adventure.  We started at the ever famous Café du Monde.  When we arrived there was a huge line.  We went in search of a shorter take out line and ended up with fabulous seats right inside . . . it pays to be impatient.  As it turns out, it's a seat yourself restaurant and most folks politely wait in line while the locals take the seats.  Damn, we're smart.
Beignets . . . tasty delights.  So very good with the café au lait!
We then took a carriage ride around the French Quarter.  Our guide was Adam and our mule was Queenie from Royal Carriages . . . we loved them both!  I swear I have the gift of getting amazing tour guides.
We loved Queenie the mule . . . she loved us too!
Cindy and I sat up front with Adam so we could hear all the juicy facts . . . we strolled around the French Quarter for an hour listening to Adam impart stories from a time gone by . . . look how beautiful this city is when you make your way off Bourbon Street.

The beautiful streets of the French Quarter . . . and Queenie's rear end!

The one stop on the carriage tour is to the main cemetery in the French Quarter . . . it's one city block square and houses over 100,000 people.  An interesting fact of the city . . . the brick tombs, combined with the heat of the city, dissolve the dead to ashes, and the remains are removed after one year and one day and are placed in an urn in the family crypt.  You can rent a crypt from the Archdiocese . . . this cemetery is so old that the rental ones used to be three rows high but the bottom row sunk so only two rows are available.  There were two really famous crypts of note . . . an old one of the voodoo queen Marie Leveau and the modern day pyramid awaiting Nicholas Cage.  

Is it weird that we are posing in a cemetery?  Nah.
Our tour began and ended in the famous Jackson Square . . . a beautiful spot in the city.
Look kids, we went to Disney!  I mean Jackson Square!
Our next adventure was brunch at the famous Court of Two Sisters . . . the largest outdoor courtyard seating in New Orleans.  It was buffet style with some lovely fare.  It was a beautiful day to sit outside and enjoy each other's company.     
The buffet was just ok, but the courtyard was beautiful.  And the grits were amazing.
After we were stuffed . . . again . . . we meandered around the city making sure to hit the remaining highlights.  Of course we had to have a Hurricane at Pat O'Brien's . . .
When in NOLA, you gotta do it!  So we did!
I would have been so disappointed if we didn't visit the oldest bar in America, Lafitte's . . . that's right, it was founded in 1772, four years before the Declaration of Independence was signed.  So cool . . . even if it was a dump with over priced drinks.  
Oldest bar in America . . .
We had dinner at a great little spot called Mr. B's Bistro and walked around the French Quarter one last time.  I discovered my new favorite cocktail . . . or reconnected, shall we say, with the Gin and Tonic. 
Does the trip have to end?  Yes, or we'd be huge and needing detox.
Our final bar was the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone.  It was really a sight to see . . . the bar and bar stools were on a rotating drum and had carousel scenes on them . . . thankfully it didn't move fast enough to bring on motion sickness! 
Isn't it cool?  Too bad the bartender was an ass hat.
We had some fun taking pictures but promptly left when we encountered the rudest bartender ever.  And I mean ever.  We are friendly girls so he must have been having a bad day, but seriously? 
Too bad for him . . . we are fun and tip well!
We all wake up sad to leave the next morning . . . not because we didn't want to see our family, but because it's nice to just relax, laugh and not have to make anyone dinner.  We hit one last New Orleans must have food spot . . . Mother's Restaurant.  I partook of the red beans and rice omelet because well, why not!  Oh, and I had the ham . . . I hear it's the world's best!  Honestly, it was pretty tasty. 
Of course I had the red beans and rice omelet.
We loaded up and waved good bye to the city that never sleeps.  On the way home, we happened upon a must see historical adventure . . . so we detoured and enjoyed Beauvoir, The Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library, in Biloxi, Mississippi. 
Beauvoir . . . you have to say that with a serious southern accent.
It was wonderful . . . our fabulous tour guide, Rosie, had so much knowledge and so many stories about Beauvoir.  She told us some very sad tales of the damage sustained during Hurricane Katrina . . . they have worked hard to rebuild as they lost just about everything except the actual house and thankfully, most of it contents.  The porches were gone, the out buildings were gone and the front door blew open, but the old house made it!  What a blessing.

Loved this tour . . . I think because our tour guide was so wonderful!
I did treat myself to one fun little delight from the Beauvoir gift shop . . . .  I had chickens growing up and have a fondness for them.  I also love The Bloggess . . . if you don't read her blog, then you're really missing out on some crazy.  Check out her post here or here to see why I've made a connection . . . and meet Beyoncé Beauvoir!  I love him.
Knock, Knock MoFo . . . you gotta read The Bloggess!
We tried to find something interesting by way of eats on the way home . . . because it's way more fun than fast food.  We happened upon Bates Turkey Farm and Restaurant and stopped . . . they serve Thanksgiving dinner year round.  It was honestly pretty crappy and right by the Interstate, but it makes for a good laugh.
Just go to McDonald's . . .

We rolled back into Atlanta around 10 p.m., maximizing our time away!  My friends did an amazing job of planning an adventure they knew I would love . . . I was so impressed with their research on what to do and where to eat . . . they are like professional trip planners!  I am so blessed to have them in my life.  Thank you ladies for a fabulous surprise 40th birthday vacation . . . even if I hate whiskey, licorice, seafood and brassy jazz!  Winky face.
 
***************
And some random funnies that are just not worth blogging, but will trigger my old lady memories in years to come . . .
*The one arm bandit in Pachuta!
*My mad DJ skillz . . . Cindy, you take Justin's part, and I got Jay-Z!  Uh. Uh.
*The gift left on the table at Tropical Isle . . . it kept on giving!
*The new and improved version of the song "My Favorite Things" from the Sound of Music!
*Cindy . . . did the magic happen yet?  No?  Too bad.
*Who doesn't love gator sausage on a stick and some turtle soup?  Uh, me.
*Andrea, SSSHHHH.
*Roll Tide or War Eagle - who won?
*Remember ladies, grandma is always around. 4:44

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fall Friend Swap 2013

I participated in my first blogger swap . . . whoa, that sounds kind of naughty, but really it was a delightful experience.  A few fabulous ladies hosted . . . Alicia from Brew Mama, Jodi from Love and Crayons and Britney from Lady Luck.

I was paired with the lovely Michelle from Did I Really Just Say That?  I knew we'd be fast friends when she called my fire jumping photo fierce.  Love that!  And speaking of fierce, Michelle rides a Harley!  I think that is so very cool!

She's been blogging on and off for 10 years so I haven't had the chance to read back too far, but I have caught up on her recent life!  We've become Instagram friends and have emailed back and forth to get to know each other better! 

Turns out we have lots in common . . . she loves her dog like a real baby, she's married to a great guy, she loves to cook and stalk food network stars, just to name a few!  My favorite new word she taught me is "hot dish" . . . also known as a casserole here in the south.  Ha!  She lives in the Halloween capital of the world . . . she better make my bed because I cannot resist seeing someplace as cool as Anoka, Minnesota . . . it's on my bucket list to visit all 50 states, and I haven't been to Minnesota yet!  Look out sista . . .

She put together a great little gift box for me . . . I really don't think there's anything much more exciting than receiving a goodie box via the postal service!

I opened it slowly to savor the anticipation . . .
And she nailed it!  It was full of the best goodies and a most lovely note!
I knew she liked to crochet from her blog, and I was hoping for a handmade goodie . . . I got the coolest pot holders . . . and a soap a friend of hers made . . . it smells heavenly.  I love my Keuring coffee so I got a new mug and two new flavors to try . . . both were delicious!  I have a lip balm addiction so she added to the crazy with a Burt's Bees one . . . those are awesome!  I have already sported the cozy new socks and lit up the new pumpkin candle . . . smells so good!  I thought it was super thoughtful of her to put some Halloween pencils for my kids in there and of course, the kids took over the beads!
 
It was a great experience to meet someone new and send and receive a special package . . . I know Michelle and I will remain blog friends and with any luck, might just meet in person one day!
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

If reincarnication is your wish, I have a suggestion . . .

If you are the sort that believes in reincarnation, then I suggest you chant, make wishes or beg to come back as one of my pets.  True story.
My furry babies . . . they bring me so much joy.
I realize I'm slightly obsessive over my furry friends, but I feel such a connection with them . . . like they truly are family and not just "animals." 

Petey basically defines my married life . . . he's been through thick and thin with us and remained our steadfast and loyal companion.  He was here before all three Getz children graced this world and was the first to greet them at the door when they arrived home from the hospital.  Petey is a constant companion who will lay by your side all the day long if you are sick.  There have been many times when the kids have had a bad day and come home to be greeted with love and adoration from old man Pete.  He accepted Abby when she arrived unexpectedly.  And perhaps most importantly, he's a champion foot warmer . . . he sleeps in our bed, every night . . . under the covers. 

And Abby is the kindest, sweetest soul you'll even know . . . she has a special place in my heart . . . see her story here.

After our annual check up on Saturday where the vet found a mass and didn't like a lump on his knee, surgery was scheduled for Tuesday.  Abby needed her teeth cleaned so I figured I'd just bite the bullet and do them at the same time.  Did I ask how much before scheduling?  Oh no, I knew better. 

I have to drop off by myself . . . I waited until the last minute of the window because I hate the idea of them waiting in cages . . . yes, I'm a big baby.  I hug, kiss, cry and leave.  Torture.  Now I wait.  I avoided the house most of the day because it doesn't seem right there without them.

I get a call that everybody is ok and to pick them up at 6 p.m.  I complete the paperwork and sell my soul pay.  Fyi, when it comes to his Petey, Getzy doesn't blink an eye. 

They bring me Abby first.  OMG.  She hadn't been out of anesthesia long and she looked freaky.  I asked about her droopy eyes, and they explained that her third eyelid wasn't recovered from being asleep yet.  What, wha? 
Poor girl . . . she's a hot mess after her dental cleaning.
Yes, you learn shiz here . . . dogs have a third eyelid that is more or less translucent and comes up from the corner of the eye.  For a more exact explanation, check it out here.  Anyway, Abby's hadn't retracted when I picked her up, but it's doing much better . . . thank the sweet baby Jesus.
I die of the sadness . . . he's such a tough little guy.
And then there was poor Petey . . . he was carried out to me on a big pink towel, and then they carried him to the car.  I drove home like I had a newborn baby in the car.  I carried him in and put him on his bed.  He got up and wobbled around a bit, and then laid back down. 

It touched me that the vet sent him home with the big towel . . . I can't really explain why.  Maybe because it had nothing to do with "need" per say . . . just that they knew it would help me and Petey.  I'm going to wash and return it . . . and any future towels we are done with, I'm going to donate them to the vet to pay it forward.  Makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

They ended up taking out the large mass in his groin as well as three more off his legs.  He's got more purple stitches than Frankenstein.  The growths were sent off to pathology, but I haven't heard yet if it's bad news . . . double crossing my fingers for good news. 

It took Petey awhile to get used to his cone . . . I helped him on the couch and this is what he did at first . . .
Yes, that's his couch . . . and I know, the '90's called and want it back. 
I've also been carrying him up and down all the steps in our house and to the outside . . . until today.  I opened the back door to talk to the kids playing outside and next thing I knew, Petey was down the back steps and in the backyard. 
 
The cone has been a life saver . . . and Petey, the contortionist, maneuvered himself so he could get to the stitches on his knee so I double downed on the cone collars.  I showed him who was smarter . . .

I'm glad he can't talk because I'm pretty sure he'd tell me to F off.

And I might not be the only one who's a little obsessed with Petey and his well being . . . Getzy came home from Cross Country and sat on the floor and hung out with the recovering Pete.  He used Amanda's blanket to snuggle him up because he was shaking and kept an eye on him . . . literally. 
Truly man's best friend . . .
Thank you for all the kind words and prayers . . . both dogs are doing awesome . . . I just pray it all ends well. 
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