Life’s A Beach

suitsDrew and I both took some time off work last week to head to the beach for a few days for much-needed rest and relaxation.  We left early Thursday morning for the six hour drive to my parents’ house in North Carolina.  It’d been just over a year since the last time we went, and the time before that was our unexpected, but nonetheless wonderful, honeymoon trip.  Every couple of months, no matter what time of the year it is, I get that old familiar itch that can only seem to be scratched by digging my toes into the sand and listening to the peaceful roll of the ocean waves.  After wrapping up one  of the busiest months I’ve had at work, and lots of traveling for Drew, it was the perfect timing to just plunk ourselves in beach chairs and just, be.

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The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time we were there.  I was a bit nervous as Mom and Dad said that it had rained every single day for almost the first two weeks of the summer.  Crazy!  We’ve been experiencing an uncharacteristically rainy season in Atlanta, so I was all too happy to ditch the rain for several days of pure sunshine.  Taking advantage of the weather, Mom and I headed to the local blueberry patch to stock up on the freshest berries, and we enjoyed Mom’s famous lemon blueberry scones for breakfast the following morning.

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We spent most of our time at Holden, playing bocce ball, searching for seashells and just enjoying the simplicity of a day at the beach.  Theo seemed to remember the ocean from last time and had no trouble heading straight for the waves.  It turns out that Dad and Drew are a pretty even match for bocce ball.  Mom and I, not so much, although we did have a few lucky breaks.  We spent Friday night in Southport, attending a wine tasting and eating dinner at Loco Joe’s, one of the restaurants Drew and I went to during our honeymoon.  Southport is home to some great seafood, but I think some of our best memories come from cooking back at the house.  Dad is the grill master and Mom is great in the kitchen, so we always eat well during our beach stays.  I must mention that Drew got brave and even tried a bite of grilled tuna, which had been marinated in teriyaki, that “tastes just like a steak!”  Imagine that.

Our departure came too soon (doesn’t it always when you’re in paradise with some of your favorite people?) and with the rainclouds moving in, it was time to head home.  Thanks to Mom and Dad for hosting us for the perfect weekend, we had a great time!  Already thinking about the next time we’ll be able to come for a visit 🙂

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A Weekend Getaway

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Several months ago, Drew came across an offer that was just too good to refuse.  We’ve used Scoutmob numerous time in the past, saving money on local restaurants and discovering new favorite places that we otherwise wouldn’t have known about.  Drew saw a posting on their website for a discounted weekend at a bed & breakfast in Savannah, which we jumped on it almost instantly.  Sure, we’re going to be doing a lot of traveling this summer for weddings and a weekend visit to my parents’ house in North Carolina, but we didn’t have anything planned for just the two of us.  Since June is shaping up to be one heck of a busy month at work for me, last weekend was the perfect time to pack up the bags, drop of the dog at camp, and make a beeline for the highway.

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It has been a long time since I’ve been to Savannah.  I went with my parents years ago, and though I remember certain things like the amazing pralines from a shop on River Street and the haunted ghost tour in the middle of a thunderstorm, I’d forgotten just how charming the city is.  Even though a tropical storm threatened to dampen our plans–no pun intended–the weather turned out to be sunny the entire trip.  We spent the majority of our days exploring downtown, walking the streets and popping in and out of the shops.

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It was incredibly freeing not having any concrete plans.  After breakfast in the mornings, we’d walk around the streets, meandering about and playing tourists.  We stumbled upon a 10k Saturday morning, followed by a farmers’ market.  We ended up canceling our formal dinner plans at a five-star restaurant Saturday night in favor of a Cajun joint on River Street.  Followed by ice cream of course.  The entire weekend was casual and very low-key.

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The bed & breakfast we stayed at was almost a mile from River Street, so it was very quaint and quiet.  Even though we were out and about so much we didn’t really get to enjoy the room, we took several afternoon naps.  I’d forgotten how nice those are, especially when your feet are tired from walking around all day! The courtyard in the back was beautiful and we ate breakfast on the deck Sunday morning before we left.  The inn had 4 or 5 cats that roamed around, and I tried making friends with one of them but she didn’t seem interested.  I’ll blame the heat.

The weekend was short, but it was very sweet.  It’s nice to get away from the “real world” every so often without having to worry about following a schedule.  Now that we know it’s only a little over a three hour drive, I have a feeling another trip to Savannah is our near future!

One Year Anniversary Trip to Chicago

It’s hard to believe that almost one year ago, Drew and I were preparing to exchange vows at Lakeside Church.  It seems like just yesterday that I was standing in front of the large church doors, waiting for them to open and walk down the aisle toward my future husband.  Time really does fly!  That being said, we have already done and experienced so much in this first year of marriage, I can only imagine what the coming years will hold.  To celebrate our first year, Drew planned for us a long weekend in Chicago several months back.  It’d been over a year since either one of us had been in the city and it would be the perfect chance—and time of year since it wouldn’t be during the freezing cold winter—to pay a visit.

Our plane landed in the city late Thursday night and after a 30 minute train ride, we arrived at our hotel.  From the outside, it wasn’t much to look at, but our room turned out to be quite nice.  Even better, it put us right in the heart of downtown Chicago, just a 10-minute walk away from Michigan Avenue and The Magnificent Mile.  Too tired to partake in any activities that night, we headed for bed with plans to start the day early Friday morning.  Our first real stop was to Ann Sather, a real institution in Chicago. We’d been together several times before so we knew exactly what to expect: hot, delicious, gooey cinnamon rolls the size of our faces.  With full bellies, we walked hobbled along for the next few hours, visiting Wrigleyville and Drew’s old stomping ground.  We took a few pictures outside his  old apartment; I think he was surprised it hadn’t been deemed unlivable and torn down.

Cinnamon rolls the size of our faces. And yes, we ate every last bite.

We spent the majority of the afternoon window shopping and browsing downtown.  After walking for quite a few hours on our feet, we decided to head back to the hotel for a quick nap before our dinner reservations at Mia Francesca, the Italian restaurant we’d celebrated Valentine’s Day at the two years previous.  Our meal at Mia’s was just as good as we remembered it: Drew had his usual chicken and potatoes dish and I ordered the mussels.  After dinner we headed to a nearby Irish pub for a few after-dinner drinks and to watch the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics.  The bar setting made the experience so much more fun; when it was the United States’ turn to walk the circle, people started cheering and chanting “USA! USA!”  It was such a fun atmosphere to be a part of, and it capped off our first day in Chicago just perfectly.

Saturday morning we had a light breakfast at Starbucks, making sure we had enough room in our bellies for the epic lunch that would ensue later that day: deep dish pizza from Giordano’s.  The next few hours were spent exploring Crate and Barrel, talking about how we would fabulously furnish our house if we had an unlimited budget, and purchasing tickets for a late afternoon architecture boat tour.  We then headed to Giordano’s to put our name in for a table and order our pizza.  I’ve never been to a deep-dish pizza place in Chicago and not seen it packed full with people, so we had a good hour to kill before we were seated and our food arrived.  Thankfully there was a bar to sit and enjoy coverage of the Olympics.  Unfortunately, do to the poor coverage by NBC, we found out via Twitter that our fellow WKU alum, Claire Donahue, advanced to the finals of the women’s 100m butterfly.  Our dismay didn’t last much longer after we had our first few bites of deep dish.  Heaven on a plate platter is the best way to describe it really.  We couldn’t finish a medium pie between the two of us and as sad at it was to forgo our final two pieces, I knew we’d be hurtin’ for certain if we tried to eat them.

We planned our timing quite nicely and enjoyed a drink at the bar next to the tour dock before boarding the boat.  For the next hour we were told all about the history of Chicago’s architecture by an amazing tour guide.  We were able to get a lot of good shot on our cameras and saw buildings from angles we’d never have been able to otherwise.  Definitely one of the highlights of the trip!  That night, since we really couldn’t fathom another meal, we met up with some of Drew’s friends and old co-worker Adam.  We started out at an outdoor festival but the rowdy crowd made that a relatively short venture.  Next we headed to a Thai restaurant for a a few beers, followed by a place called Violet Hour which Drew and I decided is hands-down the best bar we’ve ever been to.  It’s literally a hole in the wall and if you don’t know it’s there, you’d easily miss it.  There’s no sign out front and they don’t do any advertising so their clientele is basically formed from worth of mouth (I guess I’m kind of contradicting that policy by blogging about it, ha).  The drink menu was by far the  most interesting and diverse cocktail list we’d ever come across.  I wish I could have taken a picture of our drinks because they were so artfully crafted but the place was dark, relatively quiet for a bar, and didn’t allow cell phones (another reason we ended up really liking the place).

One of the stunning views from our boat tour.

After sleeping in Sunday morning, we checked out of our hotel and headed out for brunch.  Since our flight wouldn’t leave until that night, we had some time to do some last minute tourism.  We visited the zoo, where we spotted our favorite animals-zebras, lions and monkeys, oh my.  After our visit to the zoo we decided to go ahead and make our way to the airport. It was nice to be able to take our time and enjoy a few drinks and meal before our flight.  With the time change, waiting for our luggage to arrive, and train ride home, we didn’t arrive back at our apartment until just before midnight.  I’m amazed at how much we were able to do in a short amount of time.  It was the perfect weekend getaway, and we had so much fun reliving our previous stays in Chicago.  More importantly, it was great to be able to spend three uninterrupted days together, walking hand in hand through the city.  It really reaffirmed this past year for us, as well as made us even more excited for the trips to come.  We’ve already started daydreaming about where we’ll go for our 5, 10, 15 year anniversaries.  Italy?  London?  Hawaii? The good news is we have many, many years to see it all!

A Long Weekend at the Beach!

North Carolina has always held a special place in my heart.  Ever since I was a baby, right around the time I just started to learn to walk, our family would spend a week-long summer vacation at Bald Head Island.  More recently, during my time in college, we spent time at Winding River Plantation, just outside of Southport, and just a short drive from the ferry boat that we’d take over to the island.  There are so many memories I’ve accumulated over the years, and two summers ago I was able to give Drew a little better idea of what my childhood (and teenage) vacations were all about.  Who would have thought the place where I spent so many summers growing up would turn out to be our honeymoon back-up plan?  Needless to say, it’s a place that means a lot to me.

Throwback picture: Drew and I at Fishy Fishy back in 2010.

This past weekend, Drew and I took Friday off from work and headed down to North Carolina, to stay with my parents at their house in Winding River.  We hadn’t been there since our honeymoon almost 11 months earlier, so we were very happy to have a chance to go back.  Even though we won’t be able to take a full-blown vacation this summer, a three-day weekend at the beach was going to fit the bill just right.  We also had Theo in tow, which would make for an even more eventful weekend.  I think it’s safe to say we were more excited about Theo experiencing the ocean for the first time than almost anything else.

After sleeping in on Friday after a midnight arrival the night before, we set out for the beach.  After scoping out an empty patch of sand to set up camp, we headed for the ocean.  I was expecting for Theo to dart for the waves the second he saw them, leaving me racing behind to catch up.  This was not at all what happened.  Theo was very hesitant at first and jumped back every time a wave rolled in.  It took several tries and coaxing from all four of us before he became more comfortable with the water.  By the end of the trip, he was jumping and playing in the waves with Drew.  He was definitely the source of our entertainment for the day, digging holes and kicking wet sand everywhere.

Theo wasn’t exactly thrilled with the ocean waves at first…

…but by the end of the day, he was having a great time!

Theo made his own shady spot by digging a hole right behind Drew’s beach chair. Smart dog.

That night we headed into town for a wine tasting and then dinner at Fishy Fishy.  It was a great change to spend some time in Southport, with all its small-town charm, after living in Atlanta.  Most of the houses and storefronts along the main street were already decorated with colorful bunting and ribbons for the 4th of July parade.  Dinner at Fishy Fishy was something Drew and I had been looking forward to all week-it was one of our best meals during the honeymoon.  They must have changed the menu since we were there last as they didn’t have Drew’s beloved chicken skewers.  He was able to find something very similar so once again, all was well with the world 😉

The four of us at Fishy Fishy.

One of my favorite things to do when visiting Mom and Dad is to stay up late, talking and reminiscing.  Along with some of Mom’s infamous peach and blueberry pie, we stayed up until almost midnight—a good two hours later than when Drew and I typically go to bed.  Yes, we really are an elderly couple at heart.   Saturday we decided to go to the pool since the beach would no doubt be much more crowded with it officially being the weekend and the upcoming holiday.  I also did a  less than stellar job at applying SPF the day before and had quite the uneven sunburn to show for it.  Seeking out shade and taking a refreshing dip in the pool was definitely our best bet.

Theo got spoiled rotten by Mom and Dad. They sure do love their grand dog!

Even with all the great restaurants around, some of our best meals come from cooking in at the house.  Mom and Dad have the art of grilling seafood down to a science and the shrimp and mahi-mahi tacos we had that night were absolutely delicious.  The Patron margaritas weren’t so bad either 😉  Theo had quite a few food treats himself over the course of the weekend-Mama and Papa Edwards took care of him with several goodies.

Margaritas made by the master mixologist, Dad.

As they usually do, the long weekend ended much too soon and after a big brunch on Sunday, we packed up the car and headed back to Atlanta.  I think Mom and Dad were almost more sad to Theo leave than the two of us! I have a feeling that when they move to their North Carolina house for good, it won’t be long before they adopt a dog of their own.  On the drive home, about 100 miles outside Atlanta, we ran into a horrible hailstorm and actually had to pull under an overhang on the interstate.  Drew’s car has really taken a beating, making it through two hailstorms within the past two months.  Theo practically slept through the whole thing, curled up in the backseat.  We finally made it home safe and sound, not too far behind schedule even with the storm.

I’m not sure when the next time we’ll be able to take a trip to the beach will be, but I’m sure it won’t be too long.  Theo definitely enjoyed his time and it was a great mental getaway for Drew and I not to have to think about work or worry about the real world for a few days.  Many thanks to Mom and Dad for inviting us for the weekend, it was a real treat!

Cruising through the Bahamas

Two weeks ago, Drew and I embarked on our first cruise experience together, along with Drew’s parents April and Jim.  Drew had gone on a trip with his parents back in high school, but this was my first time.  Needless to say, I was absolutely thrilled.  I thought that being a college graduate meant my opportunities for Spring Break trips were over, so getting to take a week’s vacation mid-March (which also happens to be the time of year that you really need a break the most!) was a real treat.

Cocoa Cay. Drew called the deep blue, crisp water "Proof that God is a UK fan."

We drove halfway to Florida on Saturday, stopping in St. Simon’s for the night.  The quaint island reminded me instantly of years’ worth of family vacations to Southport and Bald Head Island in North Carolina I’d had growing up.  It was nice spending time in a place that moves on its own time, and wasn’t enthralled in the hustle and bustle of the real world.  When my cell phone first lost its signal I felt a mild panic attack coming on.  Second later, I smiled, and turned off my phone.  I was officially on vacation.

Monday morning we boarded the ship (I was careful not to call it a “boat,” as I’d been warned that they really don’t like that), which was a lot smoother process than I’d thought.  It boggled my mind that over 2,000 people would be on one ship but after seeing the size of the Majesty of the Seas, it all made perfect sense.  We celebrated our first moments onboard with a Bahama Mama, complete with bright colored umbrella and light-up souvenir glass.  One of the things cruises are best known for is their ability to feed people, good food and lots of it.  It’s a good thing that Drew and I logged a 4 mile run back in St. Simon’s because after one look at the very first buffet, I was definitely going to be eating well!

Our hammock, my favorite spot on Cocoa Cay

We spent two days at sea, and another two at Cocoa Cay, Royal Caribbean’s one private island in the Bahamas, and Nassau.  While in Cocoa Cay, Drew and I went snorkeling.  The water was freezing but we had a lot of fun floating around and looking for fish.  We spent the remainder of the day lounging in hammocks reading, strolling along the beach, and (surprise, surprise) eating lunch at the beach cookout. We spent a lot of time in Nassau, which was a lot bigger than I’d expected, shopping in the straw market, eating lunch on a restaurant patio, and taking a glass-bottom boat tour through the Bahamas.

During a particularly "interesting" point in the "Love and Marriage" gameshow.

One of the highlights of the trip was Thursday night, when Drew and I were selected to represent the newlyweds group on a spin-off of the old Newlyweds show, called the “Love and Marriage” Gameshow.  Both the men and women took turns answering questions about one another and their marriage, while the spouses sat backstage in a soundproof room.  Whoever got the most matches won a bottle of champagne.  While Drew and I didn’t win, we received a swag bag filled with a lot of goodies, and got quite a few laughs out of the audience (mostly at our own expense, of course).  Once we got back to our room, there was a DVD recording of the gameshow from the show’s host, the cruise director.  It’s a nice memento to have from our cruise!

Drew and I for Formal Night at dinner

Other highlights from the week include: eating chocolate cake in bed at 11 p.m., watching the Belly Flop contest (Kentucky men represented well!), a comedy/magic show, April judging the World’s Sexiest Man contest (she endured like a champ!), towel creatures, every single delicious dinner with our wonderful server Bim, the late night luau on the pooldeck, seeing “Breadfish” on the glass-bottom boat tour, walking through the sweets shop in St. Simon’s and gaining 10 pounds just inhaling all the sugar, and celebrating April’s birthday with not one, but two desserts Wednesday night.

I felt mixed emotions driving back home to Atlanta on Friday. I was happy to be returning to dry land (I had a few bouts of sea sickness during the trip) and couldn’t wait to pick up Theo from the boarder.  Still, it had been wonderful to spend some time away from work, technology, and our busy lives.  I certainly could have stayed in the hammock back in Cocoa Cay for a few more days and wouldn’t have minded one bit 😉 Jim and April, thank you both so much for allowing us to take this awesome trip with you all.  It was very much needed after several hectic weeks and work for Drew and me.  We made so many memories and have so many great pictures to show for it!