We’re ba-ack!

From the honeymoon, that is.

It was lovely.  Honestly, this post will probably be pretty light on text, because, well, we didn’t DO much.  And it was glorious. 

Since we love driving and road trips, and saving money, we decided to road trip it to and from the honeymoon cruise.  So…Kansas City to New Orleans.  A 14 hour drive, if you were to do it straight through.  But that’s no fun.

We left early on Friday morning and drove through the day until we arrived in Memphis just in time for dinner.  It was when we sat down here I realized, “Ahh, vacation!” for the first time.

We went to Bosco’s, a brewery/pub type place.  Tim relaxed with a beer.

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The beer was awesome.  The food (we got individual pizzas) was just so-so. 

 

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We stayed the night in northern Mississippi, and drove from there to New Orleans (about 6 more hours) on Saturday morning.  Our cruise was on the Carnival Triumph to Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico.

Embarkation was kind of a clusterfuck, frankly.  We sat in traffic to get parking at the Port of New Orleans for at least an hour.  Once we parked, it was long line after long line after long line in the heat to get everything checked in and secured and whatnot.  I get that it’s necessary and all, but it was a pretty big buzzkill.  We also got a notice that because of the oil spill, we’d be leaving at 9 pm rather than 4 pm, which would have been nice to know beforehand so we didn’t have to get up at the asscrack of dawn to get there on time.  But, alas.

Eventually we made it through and got on the boat and took  pictures.  New Orleans!

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After all the travel hectic-ness, I needed a drink.

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With an umbrella, naturally. 

One of the nice things about Carnival was their beverage policy.  Although the cruise did not include the cost of soda or alcohol, they allow each guest to carry on (not check) a 12 pack of soda and a bottle of wine (not hard liquor).  We each carried on soda, so we didn’t pay for that all week, and a bottle of wine, which contributed to two fun, boozy nights.  We did end up buying a few mixed drinks, but the prices were reasonable (about $5 for an Absolut vodka/tonic, about $7 for a fancy mixed drink or top shelf booze) and the drinks were STRONG. 

Here is a montage of what we did pretty much the entire trip.

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Read and laze.  Yes, I got sunburned.  I swear to you, it was accidental—no joke, Tim and I used an entire spray can of SPF 30 the first day on the boat and we both got burned anyway.  I’d brought two cans, but the aerosol thingamajig was not working in the second one, and the store on the boat was closed, so we spent our second day in the shade!

Our first port was Progreso, Mexico.  We didn’t get off the boat for very long—we just browsed around a duty-free shopping area near the dock.  Nothing too exciting. 

Progreso is not the most scenic.

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The second port was Cozumel, which I don’t have any pictures of.  We did debark that day and take a snorkeling tour, which was fantastic.  I’d never snorkeled before, but it was so much fun!   Definitely the highlight of the trip.

A few random photos inside the boat.   The lobby:

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The barstools that made us crave Reese’s:

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Our stateroom:

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Assorted towel creatures:

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And the ONE picture we got together on the whole honeymoon:

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My impatient debarkation face:

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All in all, we enjoyed cruising.  While we decided we’d probably both go on a cruise again, we’d probably not go with Carnival.  Here are the pros and cons, in my opinion.

Pros:

  • Service was great.  Our stateroom steward and dining room waitress were both very nice and helpful, and all the other Carnival employees were perfectly attentive and polite.  They were really a highlight of the trip—anything we needed or wanted, they would get it for us.
  • The boat was very clean and well-staffed. 
  • Cozumel was a beautiful port.  We didn’t see enough of Progreso to judge it fairly!
  • The drinks we ordered at the various bars were all really good and made strong.
  • I really liked the breakfasts on board, especially in the main dining room!  The omelets I had were great, and I liked generally that the portion sizes were fairly small so you didn’t overeat too much.
  • We really loved the excursion we booked in Cozumel through Carnival.
  • They show movies outdoors at night, and we really enjoyed (re)watching the most recent Harry Potter movie with a bottle of wine on our last night!

Cons:

  • My biggest issue was the food.  We agreed that the Lido deck (buffet style area) was about one click up from college dorm food, and the main dining room was maybe two clicks up.  We had a few things that we really liked (Tim had lamb he said was great, I had a few good pasta and fruit dishes), but everything else was pretty unremarkable or just kind of bad.  But, we recognize you get what you pay for, and we were on a budget. 
  • There was one show we wanted to see the entire cruise—a comedian—and the lounge was packed, standing room only, when we showed up 20 minutes early.
  • SMOKING.  It seemed like everyone on the boat had a cigarette dangling from their mouth or fingers the whole time.  It was really annoying.  If there were non-smoking areas on the boat, they weren’t enforced.
  • I did not like being constantly hounded by photographers to take cheesy posed photos.  We said “no thanks” every time, but it was a little annoying after awhile.

Anyway, just my opinion, take it with a grain of salt!

After we debarked, we set out to explore New Orleans for the day, mostly with our stomachs.  Our first stop was for beignets and coffee at the iconic Cafe du Monde.

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We split an order of beignets and whoa, they were good.  (But, you know, it’s pretty hard to screw up fried dough coated in sugar.)

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We walked around the French Quarter for awhile.  It was HOT!

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You guys, I have a confession to make.  Our second gastronomic adventure of the day MIGHT be my #1 highlight of the entire honeymoon.  (Um, except spending lots of time with my husband.  Right.  Tim > ham sandwich.)

For lunch, we visited the John Besh (who is kind of a total hottie, and OMG did I just say hottie?) restaurant Luke.  (There is a dotty thing over the U, but I am too tired to figure that one out.)  I am 99% certain this was the best meal of my life.

I ordered the Croque Madame.  In normal terms, a ham sandwich with Emmentaler cheese and a fried egg on top.  With French fries.

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You guys, I cannot even explain this sandwich.  It was out of control good.  Everything.  The egg, the ham, the bread, the cheese…to die for.  I mashed up the yolk so the whole sandwich was nice and eggy and ate it with a knife and fork.  It was obvious the ham was not just HAM, but…god, I don’t know.  Made from a golden pig, or something. 

Tim liked it, too.  He got cochon au lait, which was basically some kind of pulled pork and ham sandwich with cherry mustard, Emmentaler cheese and cornichons.  I tried a little and it was also from the same gilded pig that made my sandwich.

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We spent the afternoon exploring the garden district (no pictures, because I was driving) and then set out for our final gigantic decadent meal of the day at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA.

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On Friday, we drove through to Tim’s parents’ house in southern MO, stayed there for the night, and drove the last few hours home this morning.  It feels good to be back, although I’m flying to Fort Lauderdale for work Wednesday through Sunday!

In other news, I went to my favorite running store today and bought the running shoes I hope will solve my problems—neutral, wide width, half size larger New Balances.  They feel like clouds on my feet.  Cross your fingers that these will be “the one.”

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Can you believe marathon training starts officially in a WEEK?  Not me.  I’ve missed regular running and racing with all the wedding mania that’s been going on the last two months!  I’m working on finding and registering for some races in June and July to keep me occupied—we’ll see how it goes!

Did I miss anything big?  What happened in the blog world last week?

Good omens

Today, Tim and I met for a lunch date at The Mixx. I was really impressed with their giant salads last time so we thought we’d try again.

I’ll take good omens in any form I can get them.  Like our order number.  (I feel like Kath!)  13 would have been better…but I’ll take it!

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I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich with Brie on a pretzel roll.  (I would probably eat a dirty sock if it was on a pretzel roll.)0407 002

I was nonplussed.  The chicken was basically the dry, cut up kind they put in salads, and it was just not good.  And it took them 15 minutes to get it to me!   Next time I’ll get a salad again.

More pretty springtime porn:

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Aside from the allergies, I love spring.  There’s a reason we’re getting married in May, and it’s because of all this gorgeous junk out there.

After the gym, I went for my last official run of my training plan!  I did two fast miles in about 18:30.  I felt great while I was running, but once I stopped..my left knee, shin, and ankle started aching.  I took the aggressive approach—I put on my Zensah compression sleeves immediately, and went home and massaged my leg with ice cubes for awhile.  Pain gone!  I’m going to take it easy—REALLY easy—until the race, and keep icing and foam rolling and crossing my fingers.

In other news, some components of various bridesmaids’ gifts arrived today!

The most adorable baby hat ever:

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And a Colts sweatshirt for the die-hard fan:

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Annnd the RSVP count shoots up again—67 yes, 44 no, 93 delinquent. 

This week has been pretty boring, but the fun starts Saturday!  Here’s what’s going on:

  • Saturday: Half Marathon! 
  • Sunday: Second bridal shower with Tim’s family
  • Monday: Get fitted for orthotics!
  • Tuesday-Thursday night: Vegas, baby!  I’ll be at a conference for work.  (And I’ve never been before!)
  • Friday-Monday: Napa Valley

Whee!  I’m excited.

Any must-sees in Vegas or Napa?  (I’ll be at Caesar’s Palace!)

First fitting!

Today a hot gentleman propositioned me for a lunch date.  I couldn’t turn him down.

Tim and I ended up at The Mixx, a place that is kind of like the Coldstone of salads—you pick a base and mix-ins.  (They also have sandwiches and pastas.)

 

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I was way excited about this.  I got a spinach base, balsamic vinaigrette (full fat, thankyouverymuch), and mixed in roasted turkey, roasted yams, balsamic mushrooms, dried cranberries, goat cheese and pecans.  

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It was awesome.

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I am ashamed to admit that the salad defeated me.  This thing was HUGE.  I barely made a dent in it!  It was super good, but next time I’ll get half the dressing.  It was super filling.

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Around 4 o’clock before my dress fitting, I snacked on a Clif Mojo Mountain Mix bar.  Love these!

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Then the time came—the first time I tried on my dress since September, when it was awful and I hated it.

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I made two big changes this time—I wore a crinoline underneath so the skirt was fuller and I pulled my hair back so my Yeti fro didn’t distract from the dress.  I also brought my veil to try!

AND I LOVED IT AGAIN!

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This is the bustle I’m getting—a French bustle. 0311 011

My other option was a one-point, which I don’t think looked as good.

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The seamstress had to go answer a few questions, so I played MySpace teen for awhile.

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I wanted to get a picture of the earrings with the dress—I like them!

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You know what?  My body ain’t perfect.  But I am still beautiful.  I love that this dress shows my curves, and I don’t care that I’m not 10 pounds lighter.  I feel great. 

Anyway, Tim left for Vegas and said “there’s three packages in the wedding room.”  Yes, our spare room is now the wedding room.  Behold.

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(Is this shameful?  I probably shouldn’t put this on the internets.)

Anyway, two wedding gifts!  Fancy hampers!  We plan to use one for clothes, and one for punishing Buckley.

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And our new shower curtain and trash can!

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And my shower dress came.  Guess what?  Another FAIL.  I LOVE the dress, but there is an under-boob seam that does not jive with my boobies.  It sits waaay too low and I wouldn’t be comfortable.  Back to the drawing board.  Anyone want to find me a shower dress?

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Also, 11 yes RSVPs in the mail!

Anyway, it’s 8 o’clock and I just got home, so I need to shower and, you know, do stuff. 

What do you think?  Do we have a winner?

Final Meal of 2009

I played food blogger tonight.

Spinach and artichoke cheese fondue…

With bread chunks, tortilla chips, apples, and veggies to dip (and Tim’s Boulevard Wheat):

A strawberry almond salad:

And the main extravaganza:

From the top down: portabella mushroom, teriyaki sirloin, chicken breast, citrus pork, filet mignon and sun-dried tomato and mascarpone ravioli:

I ate most of the ravioli and mushrooms.  We split the steak, chicken, and pork, and Tim got to eat all of this:

Lobster tail and shrimpies.  I”m allergic to shellfish!  (sadface)

We cooked it coq au vin style with veggies:

Dessert was a “flaming turtle”: milk chocolate, caramel, and pecans, set on fire:

With strawberries, nanas, cheesecake, brownies, rice krispy treats, pound cake, and marshmallows for dipping!


Finished everything off with a sip of champagne–just a sip, though, since I was DD-ing and frankly, it wasn’t that great:

Now I’m struggling to stay awake until midnight.  It’s a good thing our sheets are in the dryer, because otherwise I’d be snuggled up with a good book right about now!

Happy New Year!

Bodies are cool.

You know what’s really awesome?  MILK.

I get plenty of calcium through yogurt and cheese and all that stuff.  But last night I got an insatiable craving for a glass of milk.  So, I had one, and it was awesome.  I can’t remember the last time I had straight-up milk!  Methinks I should do this more often.

I’ve been having a lot of strong cravings lately, and perhaps I’m just nuts and/or hungry, but I like to think that when I get clear signals from my body saying “EAT THIS” it means it needs something or other in that food.   Last week, all I wanted was almond butter and cheese, so I tracked what I’d been eating and it turns out my fat intake was low.  Awhile back I was bananas for bananas, and turns out I was short on potassium.   So, how ’bout that.  Three cheers for bodies!

We also got our first wedding gift!  This is the vegetable dish to our formal china set from my bridesmaid Lindsey and her husband Ricky.  Isn’t it purty?

I think something was left out of the nice note they included, though:

We are just crossing our fingers it doesn’t get discontinued.  We’ve heard conflicting things from various people at Macy’s, so we’re being careful and keeping it wrapped until we know more.  Our registry says that we should pick a replacement item, but allegedly it’s just because stock is low and they’ll be restocking soon.  I’ll be keeping an eye out and crossing my fingers!

Anyway.  Breakfast cookie for breakfast today, and then Tim asked me out (via e-mail) for a spur of the moment lunch date.  I bring my lunch every single day to work, and haven’t gone out once in the two months I’ve been here, so I figured what the heck?  It’s a beautiful sunny day, the week before Christmas, I have a mostly clear work schedule, and the temperatures are a staggering 43 degrees!

We decided on a favorite of ours, a little French bistro called Aixois.  Guys, I can’t rave about this place enough.  If you’re ever in Kansas City, it is definitely worth a stop!  I’ve never had a bad meal there, and it’s incredibly cheap for the quality of the food.  The atmosphere is really soothing–it’s like being in a spa–and the wine pours are generous.

It was a perfect place for an afternoon rendezvous!

Their bread and butter is to die for.

I can never resist their Croque Monsieur.  Since it’s a French restaurant, their portions are a perfect size for a light lunch.  Instead of fries, I had a tiny cup of French onion soup.  (When in France, right?)  I ate pretty much everything on my plate and still didn’t feel heavy or weighed down when I left.  It was SO NICE to see Tim in the middle of the day, especially since he was out of town for a few days.  We need to do this more often!  (nudges Tim)

But, still…I couldn’t resist a little chocolate when I got back to the office!

All afternoon I was super excited to go to the gym.  I was sore in the weirdest places from last night’s Cardio Max DVD–for some reason, my forearms, lower back, and hips were sore?  Weird.  I decided I’d run today and lift tomorrow.  Lifting lately makes me really sore (probably because I’m not doing it three days a week like I used to), so I think it makes more sense to do it the day before a rest day (Friday) than the day before a run.

So, I ran!  I ran 4.1 miles in 40 minutes, and then cooled down with a nice 5 minute walk.  It felt incredible and I felt so strong.  Running is so crazy–some days I feel totally incompetent and horrible at it, and then others I just want to keep going and going and going.  Anyone else?

What’s your favorite date activity? Tim and I did a doubleheader at the movies over the summer that was super fun, and we love going to zoos together when we travel.

The rehearsal dinner

Well, check another item off the to-do list! (giant checkmark motion)

We finally decided on a location for our rehearsal dinner and booked it.  Now, the reason that this has taken so long isn’t because we don’t agree on things, but because of the distance.  We live in Kansas City, and our wedding is in the Chicago area.  And going around to various restaurants to look at rooms was pretty low on our list of priorities on our last wedding planning trip.  But, time was ticking down and we realized we had to book SOMETHING for the rehearsal dinner.

Luckily, my lovely mother went around to a few of the places we’d looked into and gave us the lowdown.  I’m familiar with the restaurants in the area, but things have changed since I was in college many moons ago.   We knew we wanted a relatively laid-back vibe, since we’ll all be dressed up all day the next day, but still get great food.

So, after a bit of research we decided on Flat Top Grill.  Part of the appeal of this was that it’s a create-your-own stir fry place, so everyone will be able to eat what they like!  I hate going to dinners where you don’t have a choice about what you eat, so this way people can get exactly what they want, made to order.  They will also be getting something called “Triple Chocolate Storm” for dessert, too, which was literally the icing on the cake!

This is what the stir fry bar looks like:

(Image from Time Out Chicago)

Now I just have to find something to wear.  Hmm.  I’d like to be a big attention monger and wear white, but still be casual.  I’m thinking a nice eyelet or knit white sundress, maybe with a wrap…but where exactly does one find those in December?

What do you think makes a rehearsal dinner fun?

Weekend update, upcoming week

Hi, all.  Not much blogging this weekend because, well, not much to report!

Friday after my five-miler I went to volunteer at my totally awesome volunteer job.  Here is where I volunteer.  Isn’t it cool?

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The whole place is covered in beautiful glittery kid-friendly mosaics like that.  I can’t help but smile when I’m there.

After volunteering, I went to see T at work and met a few of his co-workers.  Most people were gone early since it was Friday, so he left with me.  We came home for a bit and went out to dinner.  I ate (half) a giant cheeseburger and it was awesome.  I was STARVING by the time we got there.  Then we came home and chilled for the rest of the night.

Saturday was uneventful.  I grocery shopped, we watched college football, I made stew and biscuits for dinner, we watched a Netflix movie.  Good times.

Today we woke up early and went to church.  I then completed our kitty table numbers (yay!) and did five loads of laundry.  Now we’re catching up on Tivo and relaxing.  I love weekends!

Here are my plans for the upcoming week, workout-wise, wedding-wise, and other-wise:

  • Monday: 5 miles at the gym
  • Tuesday: 4 mile hill run outside; donate platelets
  • Wednesday: 5.5 miles (or more?) at the gym
  • Thursday: nice, relaxing yoga
  • Friday: rest up for my race, drive 8 hours to Chicago with T!
  • Saturday: 5K with my sister (goal: finish in under 30:00?  I think I can, I think I can…), reception food tasting, hair consultation, dinner with friends
  • Sunday: meeting with florist, cake tasting, dinner with family
  • Monday: drive back to KC

In other news, you’ll notice I haven’t been lifting weights for awhile.  The last time I lifted, about a week and a half ago, I had some slight shoulder pain afterwards–it felt funny and clicked a bit when I lifted it, so I laid off for awhile.  Instead of getting better, it’s gotten worse.  My right arm feels funny on the back, along the tricep down to my elbow.  The shoulder joint clicks when I lift it and bend it some ways.  There is also dull ache in my elbow now that just started today–it almost feels like a funny pulling sensation in my tricep muscle.  I’m flummoxed by this, so if anyone has any suggestions of what to do to make it better, let me know.  Ice?  More rest?  Heat?  Raw steak? I’d like to avoid a doctor if possible!