Catching Up – September 2013

Sorry about dropping off of the face of the earth.  I guess I just needed a break from blogging.  Here’s what I have been up to the past few months!:

Here’s what happened in September:

Stood up as Matron of Honor in a very good friend‘s wedding!  Tadd was also a groomsman.  It was a lovely, simple affair, and a beautiful day spent with some of my favorite people.

The very next day, we headed to Miami to go on a Caribbean cruise with some friends.  We sailed on the Carnival Breeze (great ship, by the way!) and stopped in Grand Turk, Ocho Rios, and Nassau.

October through December update coming up next!

 

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A Very Special Glamping Weekend

Hopefully there are still people reading this blog after my extended hiatus…

I am finally back from a whirlwind week-and-a-half filled with glamping, business travel, and a much-needed long weekend of recovery.  I’m ready to share with you again for a few weeks, before more crazy insanity comes my way.  As much fun as I am having with keeping so busy with so many wonderful and exciting events, a part of me is longing for October, when my life will (perhaps) start to resume some semblance of normalcy.

I did want to tell you a little bit about my glamping experience with these lovely ladies:

We rented a cabin at Fort Wilderness for the whole weekend, which was awesome.  It sleeps 6 (1 full size bed and bunk beds in the bedroom, 1 full size murphy bed in the living room), and has a full kitchen!  It was perfect for our group.

We spent Friday night hanging out in the cabin, eating taco salads (graciously and expertly prepared by my wonderful friend Melanie), roasting marshmallows, drinking cocktails, and celebrating the bride, Carrie, with love and gifts.  There were some of your typical bachelorette gag gifts…  But also some meaningful ones.  Like this tote bag, which is a MUST for any Twilight fan bride-to-be that happens to be marrying a man named Jake:

My friend Lara, who is also involved in the wedding helped me put together these INCREDIBLE goody bags for all of the girls, filled with “glamping supplies” (all kinds of cosmetics, sunscreen, and some other fun tchochkes).  I bought these colorful mesh drawstring bags on OrientalTrading.com, and they worked perfectly.  The girls can reuse them in the future too, they make great beach/pool bags.  I also made personalized tags for each bag, using glittery sticker letters on pre-cut manila rectangles, and tied them, along with a silver skeleton key (keys are somewhat of a symbol for our group…long story), to each bag with pink or purple baker’s twine.  They were a big hit!

Saturday was spent exploring Fort Wilderness…

And Saturday night, we got all prettied up (using all of our new cosmetics from the glamping supply bags, of course!), and headed out to the monorail loop for dinner and drinks.  We had dinner at The Wave in the Contemporary Resort, then rode the monorail to the Polynesian Resort, where we had a round of drinks and watched Wishes (Magic Kingdom’s fireworks show) from the beach behind the resort, then had one last drink at the Grand Floridian, before taking the monorail and boat back to the Fort and our cabin.

The next morning, we packed up everything, and headed home…Where I promptly unpacked and repacked, since I had a 7am flight to Boston the next morning for a full week of training for my new position.

I think the weekend was perfect for our group.  We laughed, ate, drank, reminisced, and even shed a few tears together.  We had lots of time to just be together, strengthen our bonds, and most importantly, celebrate the bride.  I often think of how grateful I am to have such a tight-knit group of girlfriends that truly care about each other.  It’s so important in life to have places where you feel like you truly belong, and I know I belong in this group.  It was so nice to have a weekend that focused on celebrating that, in addition to celebrating the lifetime of happiness that begins with Carrie’s rapidly-approaching Big Day.  These happy, emotional times of togetherness are what life is all about.

Sorry to get mushy, but if I start talking about this group of ladies, it’s going to happen!

MelissaBeingMartha.com

I always love when friends of mine decide to embark on a new blogging adventure.  And so of course, I try to give them a friendly plug on here whenever I can.

Introducing MelissaBeingMartha.com, a brand new blog started by a girl who I have known her entire life.  Literally. If you had to press my parents into revealing who their best friends are, I have very little doubt that their answer would be Melissa’s parents (and vice versa, I’m sure).  Her dad is my godfather, and our families have been very close friends since before both Melissa and I were born.  They are friends who are really almost like family.

Anyways, all personal connections aside, Melissa is so creative and talented!  She loves crafts, baking, yoga, nail polish, you name it!  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with to share on her blog.  Please go check it out!

A beautiful day full of love.

As a follow up to my last post, I thought I would share some of my favorite pics from the beautiful wedding we attended on Sunday!  It took place at the Dr. Phillips House at the Courtyard at Lake Lucerne, a breathtaking historic inn right in downtown Orlando.

Dr. Phillips House

Beautiful courtyard for the ceremony…

Happy couple…

In lieu of favors, they had a cookie/pastry bar with personalized take away boxes.

Fancy living room/parlor. Check out that fireplace!  And antique furniture everywhere.

First dance! Awww…

Loved spending time with some of my closest friends too!  These are some of my favorite people on the planet.

Cheers!

A zippy wallet for the birthday girl.

One of my best friends had a birthday over the weekend.  I decided to take another crack at Noodlehead’s zippy wallet for part of her gift.  Love this tutorial!  It’s easy, cute, and takes a teeny bit of fabric.

I made one for myself awhile back and used it for the first time in my wristlet as a mini-wallet during our ghost-hunting bachelorette party night out on the town.  It easily and securely held my ID and credit card in the front pocket, with paper money and coins in the zip pouch.  It took up almost zero room in my wristlet, but was big enough to very easy to fish out whenever I needed it throughout the evening.

The photo below is before the snap was added to the tab, but you get the idea.

And here’s the one I made for the birthday girl this past weekend:

Cute, huh?  If you are looking for something cute and small to make for a little gift, this tutorial is a great option!  Thanks to Noodlehead for always offering some of the best tutorials for us beginner sewers!

  shabby creek cottage

Hunting Ghosts in Downtown Orlando

Today is my 31st birthday!  Woo!  But instead of talking about my birthday, today I am going to tell you about something awesome that I got to do on Saturday night.

Several of my girlfriends and I took the “Last Call” Haunted Pub Tour with American Ghost Adventures as part of my friend Lara’s bachelorette party.  There were six of us and we each paid $20 for the tour.  We met our wonderful guides Robert and Christine at the Harp & Celt.

Throughout the night, we also visited Stagger Inn, The Attic (formerly AKA Lounge), Ceviche, and The Dessert Lady.  So most of the tour was confined to the areas around Pine St. and Magnolia St. and then down by Church St.  We learned a bit about the history of each place, and in certain instances, we also conducted real investigations using small flashlights and EMF detectors.

I don’t want to give too much of the tour away, and of course, no two tours are going to be the same, but I can say that we had some extremely eerie and unexplainable experiences in both the Harp Restaurant and (especially) The Attic.  Note that this is NOT the type of tour where effects like these are engineered to happen on cue or where actors are trained to jump out and scare you.  The tour guides take hauntings and the paranormal very seriously.

We had the Harp Restaurant all to ourselves (they are only open for lunch) and learned it had previously been a brothel back in the late 1800s.  Lights flickered upon us asking questions, disconnected speakers crackled, and at one point a flashlight randomly started rolling and then stopped.   I am not sure what to make of any of it (old wiring? uneven floors?), but it was definitely thrilling.

Our best experience of the evening was at The Attic.  The former hardware store proprietor, Edward “Eddie” Kuhl built the place in the 1880s, and he eventually had a heart attack and died on the stairs going up to the 3rd floor.

He was known to be a prankster and it seems like he wanted to pull a few pranks on us that evening.  A small, ordinary flashlight was placed on the stairs where he died, and we all asked very nicely if he would turn it on.  Much to our shock, the flashlight came on!

Eddie saying “hi” to us with a flashlight.

We all shrieked and it turned off again.  This happened a few other times over the next 5 or 10 minutes.  At some point, our guide Christine decided to try to get it on video, so she counted to 3 and had us all say very loudly “We love you Eddie!”  Prankster Eddie decided to choose that time to NOT turn on the flashlight.  However, our guide caught a compelling video instead (click the link for the page where it is posted on Facebook).  The video shows us standing by the staircase saying “We love you Eddie!”, and then suddenly a white dot (orb?) flies from the middle of the staircase right towards Christine and her camera.  She immediately played it back for all of us and we were dumbfounded.  The flashlight turned on and off a few more times and we all thanked Eddie for visiting us.  I’m still not really sure what happened, but it was very very cool.  We were on cloud nine while we were on our way to the next place!

The whole group on the stairs at the historic Bumby Arcade off of Church Street. The staircase is supposedly haunted by two children. We got some EMF spikes on the stairs (you can kind of see the one placed on the stairs next to my feet is lit up), and notice the “orbs” behind us. Still not sure what I think about orbs in photos…

I have been on many ghost tours in the past (Salem, Boston, two in Savannah, and St. Augustine) and this was by far the most fun I have had.  Our tour guides were great and totally geared the tour towards our group specifically (we were the only ones on the tour that evening).  I felt like it was the perfect mix of fun/party, history, and a real interactive investigation.  I know that occasionally this same company conducts tours and investigations of Greenwood Cemetery, which is one of Orlando’s oldest.  We found out that “Eddie” Kuhl is actually buried there, so I think most of the group is extremely interested in going to visit his final resting place, since we now feel like we have “met” him!  I am keeping my eye out for the next tour of Greenwood so we can join them.

If you are at all interested in this sort of thing and are in Orlando, I highly recommend American Ghost Adventures.

Hodgepodging.com

Hope everyone’s weekend was nice!

I just wanted to take a quick second to let everyone know about the brand new blog of a dear friend of mine.  Her name is Carol and she is actually the mom of one of my very best friends.  My family has known her family since I looked like this:

That’s me in the center, and Carol’s daughter on the left!  Ha ha!

Anyways, Carol is starting a brand new blog called Hodgepodging.com about all kinds of topics; health, weight loss, travel, shopping, etc.  I know she would appreciate some new readers and  friends over at her new online home.  Please check it out!

Instagram Link Party: Celebrating and sewing.

We spent a lot of time celebrating this weekend.  Saturday night, we had dinner with some friends at one of our favorite local spots, Pannullo’s, and got to celebrate the fact that one of them is starting a fantastic new job!  Sunday, we had a belated celebration for my brother and father’s birthdays.

We actually already had the dinner plans in place for Saturday night when we heard that my friend got the new position, so I decided I wanted to use my (limited) sewing skills make her a little gift to bring to dinner, just to let her know how thrilled we are for her.  I had gotten such positive feedback on the reusable coffee sleeve I had made a few weeks back, that I decided make one especially for her, using a cute fabric in her favorite color, purple (which is also my favorite color!).  There were some really cute prints on sale at JoAnn Fabrics, so I bought a few that caught my eye, including the perfect purple fabric for my friend’s gift.

I am sure when she starts her new job, she will be enjoying plenty of coffee, so I figured it was an appropriate gift.

And again, if you want the original tutorial that I used to make these, please click here!

I actually made another one on Sunday for my grandmother in the same pink paisley fabric as the original.  And I have plans to make a few more.  They are small, cute, and not too difficult, and they allow me to practice my sewing skills on something not too overwhelming.  After my third time making these coffee sleeves, I can tell I am getting better, little by little.

Linking this post up with the weekly Instagram Link Party at a {little} dash of ash!

Valentines for my BFFs!

I know I have discussed my best girlfriends on the blog before.  These are some of the sweetest, most fun and lovely ladies you will ever meet.  They are the type of people who band together in someone’s time of need, and also in their time of celebration.  We look out for each other, we miss each other terribly when we spend too long apart, and we are always on the lookout for reasons to get together and fun new adventures we can have.  We are a fun bunch!

The last few years, we have started a tradition of getting together around Valentine’s Day to exchange valentines.  Last year it was a big house party where we ate junk food and watched The Princess Bride, and this year it was a bit more intimate at a chic little restaurant in Winter Park called Hot Olives.  We give all sorts of valentines to each other…Little notes, cards, boxed valentines, candy, trinkets, small gifts, crafts, etc.  It’s always fun to see what everyone comes up with.  And of course, it’s wonderful just to be able to take some time to express just how much we appreciate and care about each other.  Not that we don’t the rest of the time, but we make it a little extra special at Valentine’s Day.

As soon as I knew I was getting a sewing machine, I knew what my first major undertaking would be; making something to give as valentines to my girlfriends!  I searched for a small, quick, easy project that I could easily make several times over with some fun pink & red fabrics.  A couple years ago, my mother-in-law made me a purse-sized tissue case, which I thought would be perfect.  When shopping at JoAnn Fabrics a few days later, I stumbled upon some Valentine-print tissue packs, and that sealed the deal for me!  I looked up a tutorial on Pinterest, and set to work on a few practice runs of the project.  I had to adjust the size a bit for the tissue packs I was using.

You basically cut out four rectangles of fabric (you can make them with rectangles of different fabrics, or all the same…I kept mine the same this time), 4″ by 5.75″.  The tutorial I used, which can be found over on Life In Grace, suggested 4″ by 5.25″, but as I said before, mine needed to be a little bigger for the tissue packs I got.

Take 2 of your rectangles and lay them wrong sides together.  Fold 2 of your rectangles in half the long way and lay on top with the folded sides facing toward each other in the middle.

Pin everything in place.

Sew all the way around with a 1/4″ seam allowance and turn inside out once you are done.  Insert the tissue pack.  And that’s it!  Simple, simple, simple.  If you have a sewing machine, you can do this, trust me.

To make them a little more special, I included a little valentine from a box (mine are Glee valentines this year…love that show!), and a Valentine-themed lip balm, all tied with a Valentine’s Day ribbon!  So festive!

This post is linked to the Tutorials & Tips Link Party at Home Stories A to Z!

Home Stories A2Z

Super Bowl Sunday…We made the best of it!

Even though the Super Bowl did not end the way we wanted, I thought I would share a few pics from our Sunday evening, along with a great recipe I found on Pinterest!

We had a few friends come over, all Patriots fans of course.  My brother Ryan arrived early to help Tadd with the grilling.

We cooked Italian sausages (with peppers & onions) and Ryan brought over the ribs.

We still love you, Welker!

After we finished cooking, we got ourselves set up in the living room, and got ready to watch the game!

Terrible pic (taken with my phone), but we have our Patriots hats on!

We also served Patriots cupcakes!

 

And the big hit of the night were the jalapeno cream cheese pinwheels, that I made thanks to Pinterest!  It’s just 3/4 of a brick of cream cheese with some diced jalapenos and a little sugar (recipe calls for a tbsp, but I only added about 3/4 to a half a tbsp), spread onto rectangles of crescent roll dough, rolled up, sliced, and baked.  Yum!