The Beauty of Love

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One of the many cool things about living in a small town is getting to know so many people on such a close level.  I met the Westbrook family a little over a year ago when my sister gave me a big, Gatsby themed birthday party.  The Westbrook’s were friends of my sister and attended in full costume like the rest of us.  It was such a big night that I was unable to spend much time getting to know the family, but it wouldn’t be the last time our paths would cross.

 The following month I was able to meet their baby girl Elise when she went “trick or treating” with my niece for Halloween.  The girls were precious and I enjoyed watching them take off in the little red wagon.  Since then I have had the pleasure of hearing Aria, the mommy, sing in our church.  She has an amazing voice.  She is a choral music teacher for one of the local elementary schools and I can only imagine how great she is as a teacher.  As a vocalist, she is amazing and as a person, she is really kind and sweet.  I haven’t had a lot of interaction with her husband, but he is undoubtedly a great husband and father.  

So here’s the nitty gritty…they have had a difficult time having their second child.  They have decided to adopt and have found the right agency for them.  Now they have to raise the money.  They had an amazing fundraiser this past Saturday. I had to work most of the day, but I was still lucky enough to spend a good hour there after work.  They had raffles and food and balloon animal makers and corn hole and some of her music students singing.  It was awesome.  Check out my nephew.

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I love his super, cheesy grin.  So a part of me has fallen in love with this family and after knowing their story my heart aches a little for them.  Please read their story and donate if your heart feels pulled as mine does.  Prayers are appreciated too.  http://www.youcaring.com/adoption-fundraiser/it-takes-a-village/77658  I am just always in awe of the beauty of love.

 

Birthday Dinner at Momma’s House

Birthday Dinner at Momma's House

My family spoiled me for my birthday. Momma had the family over Saturday night to officially celebrate my birthday. I promise to make this my last post about my birthday. My mom made 2 extra large lasagnas with fresh basil from her yard included in the recipe. Yummy! Of course she had garlic bread to go along with the meal. My sweet, baby sister made me a super, delicious strawberry cake and my niece chose the “sprinkles” design of the heart with a crown on top. We had one of my favorite California reds to drink with dinner. Freakshow from Michael David vineyards is so good and went extremely well with the lasagna. I am going to up my workouts this week to try and offset my week of decadence. Boo to that, but so worth it. It just doesn’t feel like my birthday until I have had dinner at momma’s house.

An Ode to my Birthday Week

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The night started with a visit to Glenwood Grill in Raleigh where my husband had this wonderful seafood and grits dish.

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And I happily indulged in my Grouper served over parsnip potatoes.

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Next we traveled downtown to Meymandi Concert Hall.

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There we had box seats and a perfect view of the NC symphony and Bela Fleck.

My Tuesday was beautiful.

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Thursday morning my beautiful mother showed up at work with beautiful flowers, softly singing Happy Birthday to me with tears in her eyes.  

Words will never do justice for the emotion felt between us in that moment.

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After a day of spoiling at work with cards and wine and flowers, I came home to a big box with a new purse picked special for me by my husband. 

He rocks.  

After hugging him and thanking him we went to see our friend play at the Acorn Inn.

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We met up with great friends and had a few beers.  Listening to Willy Fisher with friends is a great way to spend your birthday.  

And that’s my ode to my birthday week.  

Three Festivals in One Day!!

 

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First stop-The Carousel Festival http://www.ci.burlington.nc.us/index.aspx?NID=867

This year was the best I have ever attended!  The music was divine!  We had two full days of amazing bands!  The food and craft vendors were pretty great, too.

Second stop-The Co-Hops Festival downtown  http://companyshopsmarket.coop/co-hops/

This was the second year that the Company Shop has hosted this event and my first year being able to attend.  It was so much fun.  

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There were quite a few rows of NC beers to sample!  I was unable to taste them all.  The turn out for vendors was really stellar.  After you tasted the beers, your ticket allowed you to “mix-a-six” pack to take home or one growler of your favorite.

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My absolute favorite for the day was a special blend that Natty Greene’s made just to test out on us-Hibiscus+Ginger Wildflower Wit.  I hope that it will receive the same reviews from others because I would like them to bottle that one.  So good!

I was really happy to taste and take home some of my local favorites, like Red Oak.  Yummy! You really can’t go wrong with a Red Oak beer.

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I was really happy with my six pack.

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My last stop for the day was at the Kudzu Festival.  A local family started this grand tradition and it is such a privilege to attend.  It’s a huge potluck of yummy food and drink.  They usually have a great band, but sadly the band was a “no-show” this year.  I may have eaten my weight in food.  Just kidding.  Dang it was good though.  Have you ever had a pickle slathered in cream cheese and wrapped in prosciutto and then sliced into a round?  Sounds crazy.  It is.  Try it.  I was hesitant, but tried it anyway.  It did not disappoint.  The family that hosts the party is really cool. I guess that’s obvious-they have a festival annually at their home every year.
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Fun with “The Debs”

Last night I met up with “The Debs” for a quick manicure followed by a visit to Cork and Cow.  We met at our favorite nail salon after work, but we were thwarted by four adorable children celebrating a birthday with pedicures.  It was crazy adorable.  Of course I knew them all from church and wished them a great time while I told my friend we would have a little too long of a wait, so we went to another salon.  It was fine and honestly seeing the girls lined up for pedicures was well worth the change of venue.  After having my crackly cuticles manicured and massaged we stepped over to Cork and Cow.   Cork and Cow has live music on Thursday nights.  Last night they featured Joel Hodnett.  Joel Hodnett is a NC musician who just released his first single, “The River”  http://www.amazon.com/The-River/dp/B00EP2RN86/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1379701447&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=Joel+Hodnett+The+River  It’s a .99 cent buy.  Do it.  It’s well spent money.  This guy played two awesome sets for the crowd last night.  His precious wife was quietly sipping on a glass of red while we all cheered on.  He quite often talked about his love for her and it made me love him more.  

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We enjoyed 2 red flights of wine and a wonderful cheese plate.  It was a perfect evening spent listening to great music, sipping on some exquisite wine in the company of an amazing woman.  

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Perhaps the second flight was a bit much for a week night, but the music was so good that it taunted us to stay and drink more. 🙂  I know…excuses, excuses.  Cork and Cow always provides a great selection for their flights of wine and their wine by the glass which just makes it all the more enticing and I don’t always make enough time for one-on-one time with my friends.  Shame on me.  I spend so much time trying to make sure that I include everyone that I don’t always have special, quality time with them.  I should.  I am blessed with incredible friends.  Last night it was nice just to have fun with “The Debs”.  

The Perfect Ending

The Perfect Ending

I am a lover of the seasons. Each season has something special to offer. Normally, I have grown tired of the weather and I embrace the change of season. This year has been an interesting one for seasons. This past winter lasted a little too long and spring seemed to have lasted most of the summer. Sadly, summer was brief this year. What little we had this year was full of rain. We had so much rain that our farmers have really suffered. When I walked outside to leave work last night it was chilly. It’s a hard adjustment for me. I arrived home from work to find that my sweet Bryan had started a fire for us. After we had dinner I cuddled up in front of the fire in my comfy chair and opened up my book. Mr. Sugarbears climbed onto his bed and almost immediately fell asleep. The fire was the perfect ending to the day. Thanks B.

Soaking in the Last Bit of Summer

Soaking in the Last Bit of Summer

The weather forecast looked just bleak enough to keep the crowds away from the beach this past weekend. We were not discouraged. We both thought 80 degrees with a 20 percent chance of rain and 10 miles per hour winds sounded pretty awesome. We made the trek to the cottage Friday night, fighting a terrible traffic jam on the interstate to get there. With an extra hour added onto the trip we were both pretty exhausted when we arrived at almost 11pm Friday night. We opened all of the windows to let the cool night’s air inside and listen to the ocean and to keep with tradition…we cracked open a good beer. It always taste so much better when you are already tasting the salt in the air. It’s pretty perfect.
Saturday morning we were up early and ready to enjoy one of our last days of summer. Bryan had already put the boat in the water and Mr. Sugarbears was very anxious to get on board. I quickly brushed my teeth and packed a cooler. We took off with long sleeves and hoodies on. Not quite the weather we had two weeks ago, but we knew it would get better and we needed to set up camp. We went to our favorite spot and noticed that the ocean had done a little shoaling over the last two weeks. I went to throw off the back anchor and immediately could not believe the pull of the current. I couldn’t hold it and we lost an anchor. It was crazy. I jumped off of the front of the boat to hold her steady while my husband was trying to control the boat in the death current. My husband was able to gain control of the boat and steady her so I tried to swim out to our anchor line and save it. Bad choice. I couldn’t fight the rip tide and almost needed help. Mr. Sugarbears was oblivious to the chaos and had already jumped ship and was on the beach exploring. After what seemed like an eternity -probably 3 minutes we had the boat secured and I was soaking wet and breathing heavy on the beach from exhaustion. I made a critical mistake by not tying my anchor off before throwing it off the stern. It was stupid. I guess I was just in a hurry to get my camp set up. Of course my husband tried to blame himself, but truly it was my fault and I knew better. Besides losing an anchor, we were fine, but I was really disappointed in myself. After about 30 minutes of collecting myself on the beach, we made the decision to pack up and find a new place. The new shortcut that the ocean provided itself with recently had caused too strong of a riptide and the wind on this island was much stronger than the 10 miles per hour. Looking on the bright side, I decided to look at it as a free microdermabrasion treatment. It was bad enough that we couldn’t attempt to hunt for the anchor. I kept questioning the safest way to look for it and not because it couldn’t be replaced, but to remove it from the depths and not be a litter bug in the sea. Alas, it was just too deep. Almost always when I look at my mistakes I think of all of the things I could have done differently…but that doesn’t change the past. You just have to move forward and hope you are smarter for those mistakes. I will always tie off my anchor first even if it means having to untie it in order to get it right. We loaded Mr. Oblivious back on board and being the “control freak” that I am I forced my husband to push us off land while I captained the boat away from the death zone.
We went and dropped off Mr. Sugarbears back at the cottage and packed a fresh cooler. Sometimes, you just need to press the re-start button. As we were cruising past the downtown area, we saw tents set up and we heard great music. We threw out our remaining anchor and cuddled up on our boat bean bag chair together. The wind was calm, the dolphins were dancing around the boat and my favorite person was by my side. Even after the rocky start, we had the best time soaking in the last bit of summer.

It’s Been A Good Tasting Week

It's Been A Good Tasting Week

I have a couple of favorite places that I like to buy my wine in town. The first being at my local Co-Op market. They have a pretty good selection of wine and as a member of the Co-op I prefer to shop there and support my local farmers. They have been consistently running the Grayson Cellars 2011 Zinfandel on sale for a couple of weeks now for 11.99 per bottle. It’s quite lovely. Grayson Cellars is owned by Mike O’Connell and this wine has an average rating of about 82 points. It has notes of raspberry, strawberry, hints of black pepper and cinnamon. I have been eating hand-fulls of dark chocolate and fontina cheese with glasses of this. Yummy.
Another favorite local wine shop is West Burlington Wine Company. Bob is the owner of this shop and he’s quite knowledgeable of wine and beer. He hosts a free wine tasting every Friday and he always introduces me to something new and yummy. Tonight he is featuring a Cameron Hughes 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2010 Chardonnay. I went by after work last night to pick up a couple of bottles of the cab. It’s awesome with notes of blackberry, black cherry, blueberry and spice. It has an average rating of 88.4. It’s on sale for 17.99 per bottle today so it’s not the cheapest bottle, but I thought it was lovely. I saw a lot of notes from other wine lovers suggesting that this bottle should be aged longer, so I am putting one away to try at a later date. I may just decant it for a while and see what happens. I have a Rose in the fridge right now that is getting ready for some boat time tonight. Overall it’s been a good tasting week.

Finding Solace

Finding Solace

I have always found comfort from the water. Many people do. I no longer live by the sea, but my family still has a beautiful home on the water that I visit often. I love when we drive over the first bridge on the way. I look to my right and to my left and I see water. It is still nearly an hour away from our destination, but I can smell it and I immediately breathe in as deep as I can and then I exhale really slowly. The comfort of that moment is indescribable. It’s truly extraordinary to me. An hour or so later when we pull onto the path that leads down to the water I feel anxious. I am anxious to get out of the car and sit on the porch with a beer and just look and smell and hear the water. It replenishes my soul. I normally don’t last long the first night, partly from the long day of work and ride to get there, but I think also because of the consoling of the water. I feel my shoulders fall from the uptight position they keep most of the week. I feel the relief of my mind shutting off and finding peace. I turn on the window unit-air conditioner and crawl into my bed with the weight of the world lifted and the downiness of my pillow pulls me in. I drift into a sleep that I cannot seem to replicate anywhere else. When I wake I rush to the window to see my river. I need it. I brush my teeth and gather my things and run to the pier. Take me somewhere boat. Take me somewhere on the water. Let’s spend the day together. This is where I find my solace.

Now That’s a Show

Now That's a Show

My sister’s mother-in-law, Pat, was super awesome and took me to see the Blue Man group yesterday. My sister and her husband were with us and we had “flat Lulu”, too. Pat’s daughter was supposed to be home for the last week and things fell through for her visit. It was her ticket that I won by default, orchestra seating. Woo Hoo! Thanks Pat! We were all pretty devastated that we would not be seeing our sweet Lyndsay or Lulu, as the kids have dubbed her, so we took “flat Lulu” with us to the show. My sister had her picture mounted so we could take her. It was hilarious to watch Pat walking around with “flat Lulu”. One of the Blue Men even kissed her.
I had never seen the Blue Man group perform, but like most people, I knew a little about what they did. My husband is a drummer and he told me I would be impressed with the percussion skills, and I was. They create sound out of the most interesting items; for one, PVC pipes. They are incredibly talented musicians. The audience is really made to be a part of the show which is something I am not used to, but loved. I never went to a Gallagher show or a Rocky Horror show, so I was not used to this type of interaction. They went into the audience multiple times and twice took an audience member onto the stage. They sent large air balloons out into the audience while simultaneously having an incredible light show. The music was amazing. The theatrics were incredible. I had a lot of booty shaking moments. After the show the Blue Men and band were all out in the lobby to sign posters and take pictures. They stayed in character and still kept their straight faces regardless of my giggling. It was a really amazing day with the best company. Blue Man Group…Now that’s a show!