So. 2017 was an…interesting year. So much craziness went on in the world (including, but not limited to, somebody’s President acting a fool constantly) but plenty of good things happened too!
Here’s is my list of personal highlights from 2017 (in no particular order):
- Getting back into acting…kinda: I completed recording for my first lead role in an audio drama! I’m used to acting for stage and screen, so doing just vocal work was new to me, but it was a fantastic experience. And y’all–this story is SO GOOD. I can’t wait for you to hear it. Please check out Who Killed Julie?, debuting later this year!
- #relationshipgoals: My boyfriend and I celebrated one year together! Wonderful can’t even describe this man. He has been so supportive and understanding (given my rocky last relationship) and I can’t imagine my life with out him.
- International travels: It was a bit late in the year, but I went to Ontario, Canada for a work trip in December. I had never been to Canada before and was excited to get another stamp on my passport. I’d love to go back for fun instead of work (preferably in the summer months).
- Mommy/daughter Costa Rican extravaganza: I guess technically this falls under international travels too, but it was so awesome I had to give it a special shout out. My mother and I took a trip to Costa Rica in October that was so wonderful. Look for more details on our adventures in a FOUR PART series next month!
- Three decades of life: This year, I turned 30! Honestly, I feel like I acted like a 30-year-old long before my actual birthday, so it is nice to have my age match my maturity level. 🙂 I’ve come a long way from that girl who first boarded a plane at the age of 16, who thought she’d live and die in the great commonwealth of Kentucky. I’ve learned a lot along the way and I can’t see what the good Lord has in store for me for the next 30 years.
- My squirrel friend’s wedding, my other squirrel friend’s baby, and just general squirrel friend shenanigans: This year I was blessed to see my good friends make awesome moves in life. One had a daughter, who is now a DRDIT (Drag Race Diva In Training). One got married in a beautiful ceremony in upstate New York (which I was fortunate enough to be able to attend). One finally freed herself from an abusive relationship. And so many called, texted, Skyped, or just hung out with me.
- Girls Trip: If you haven’t seen it, you must. I’m not sure if I’ve ever laughed that hard in a movie theater.
- Stella: My brand new car! You know, after seven years, I finally feel safe driving in these Wisconsin winters. It’s amazing.
- Workin’ on my fitness: 2017 marked one full year since I started working with my personal trainer. I’ve lost 20 lbs so far (and improved my eating too)!
- Fully realizing the awesomeness of Amazon Prime: “Why yes, I did order a dish drainer online. Couldn’t I have just gone to the store and bought one? Absolutely! But…why?”
Tell me–what’s on your “Best of 2017” list? What are you hoping to accomplish in 2018?
Day 60: Developing new processes makes me happy. I worked with a few coworkers to improve a process for getting trainer review for updates to our software and I think it’s going to make everybody’s job a lot easier. No complaints there!
Day 61: Seeing where my company is going next makes me happy. I had the opportunity to preview some development coming in the next version of my company’s software, and it was so cool! I never imagined I’d work in IT–especially healthcare IT–but I truly enjoy what I do.
Day 62-63: Spending time with my parents makes me happy. My parents were in Wisconsin for a motorcycle club event and I got to hang out with them! I know I post a lot about my parents, but they really are the most wonderful people on the planet and any opportunity I have to see them is really special to me. We went to a fun ’70s themed dinner and dance and then hung out in the RV talking until almost midnight.
Day 64: Small classes make me happy. I taught a class of 10 students today. Most of our customer classes are somewhere between 20-30 students, so having this smaller class was a welcome reprieve. Also, I feel like I’m able to really connect with each student when the class size is small–I like being able to answer out of scope questions and spend extra time with them one-on-one.
Day 65: International travel makes me happy. My sabbatical is in October, so my mom and I will be heading to…Costa Rica! I had a call with my travel agent today to go over our itinerary and I am PUMPED! My last jaunt to a foreign land wasn’t the best experience (Long story short: I was racially profiled by a hotel employee and accused of being a prostitute.) but I’m really looking forward to this trip. Most of all, I’m looking forward to traveling with my mom! This chance to take her around the world is the least I can do to thank her for being the best mother ever.
Day 59: Getting things in the mail makes me happy.
Quick clarification: Getting things in the mail that aren’t bills makes me happy. 😉 I ordered some pictures to hang up in my home and they finally arrived! For so long, my walls have been bare. But my boyfriend’s recent home decorating inspired me to do a little decorating myself. Family, friends, travels, and of course my favorite drag queens–I’m covering the walls with them!
Looks like I’m gonna need to do some thrifting to find frames for all these (and the ones I still need to order)…
Day 32: Solving people’s problems makes me happy. This was my last day of customer class this week, and I love seeing how our software will solve the problems people have at their organizations. I spoke with a woman who was very excited about the provider suspension workflow she saw in class–apparently it would make her job much easier–and her excitement made me excited. I know I didn’t develop the software, but being able to share it with customers and see their delight makes me happy.
Day 33: Finalizing decisions makes me happy. This day was a rough one. I had a headache that just wouldn’t go away, a rough morning class, and a million things on my mind. However, something did make me happy–I signed papers to purchase a new car! I love my current car–I’ve had her since I graduated college–but she is not the best car for Wisconsin winters. I’d been stressed about my car situation all winter, so finally making a decision on which car to get and getting everything signed was my happy point of the day.
Day 34: #HomeownerProblems make me happy. I know it’s odd to be happy because of a problem, but that’s the case for this day. 🙂 This summer I finally decided to do my lawn maintenance myself, only to find that my lawn mower wouldn’t start. I was initially very frustrated by this–once I made up my mind to mow the lawn myself I just wanted to get it done–but the situation taught me a lot. I learned how to change a spark plug and that a clogged carburetor can cause small engines to refuse to start (#TheMoreYouKnow). I got an exercise in patience and realized that I have a great support network. And now I’m extra motivated to mow the lawn myself sometime soon.
Day 35: Boyfriends and moms make me happy. This day was twice as special as most days–it was my boyfriend’s 31st birthday *and* Mother’s Day! My mom is the most spectacular human being–she is my role model in life and I love her more than anything. My boyfriend is such a great man; he’s kind and patient and funny and actually lets me be myself. Honoring both of them on the same day was so powerful and I’m so blessed to have both of them in my life.
Day 36: Travel agents make me happy. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to plan my sabbatical, but thanks to the advice of my officemate I now have a travel agent to help me! Originally I thought that a travel agent would be too expensive, but her rate is very affordable and she’s got decades of experience too. Planning this trip has been stressing me OUT and the thought of someone doing the heavy lifting for me makes me so very happy!
Four days of happiness comin’ atcha in three…two…ONE:
Day 7: Safe travels make me happy. My parents headed back to Kentucky on this day, so it was bittersweet for me. I was sad to see them go, but happy when I got the text from my mom telling me they made it back safely. I always worry about them when they travel–too many crazy drivers out there for my comfort–so getting the confirmation that their travels were safe put a big smile on my face.
Day 8: Staff Meeting (oddly enough) makes me happy. Most folks wouldn’t say they enjoy attending a staff meeting at work, especially when that meeting is over two hours long. But I enjoy attending the monthly staff meeting at my company. I like learning what’s new with the company and the software and hearing our CEO speak about topics related to the business we do. I also appreciate the monthly grammar tip–who doesn’t want to improve their grammar? 🙂
Day 9: Making dinner with my boyfriend makes me happy. I’ve always been able to throw a recipe together, but wasn’t really someone who enjoyed cooking. That changed after I started cooking with my boyfriend. We make dinners together a few nights a week and it is always more fun cooking with him than when I cook solo. Whether we’re trying something completely new or making an old favorite, we always have a good time. (And the food usually turns out pretty great too! Check out my Instagram for photos of some of the meals we’ve made.)
Day 10: Being appreciated makes me happy. After pinch-hitting for a coworker who was out with a sick kiddo this week, my team lead (TL) told me I was “the reason why we keep the doors open for HIM training.” Apparently this isn’t the only time someone has said that–she said she stole the phrase from another TL who supervised me while my TL was out on maternity leave! In a company of 9,000+ people, it’s easy to fly under the radar. I love helping others and I don’t need to be recognized for it, but knowing that someone notices and appreciates the ways I help out makes me very happy indeed.
This post comes after a long weekend of family, food, and fun times. For the past few years, my parents journeyed to the frozen north to spend Thanksgiving with me. This year, I headed back to my old Kentucky home to celebrate Thanksgiving in my hometown or, in the words of my mother, “like we used to.”
For as long as I can remember, my great-aunt (or as I called her “Granny”) Aloma hosted Thanksgiving dinner at her house. The whole family would come over to eat, play games, watch football, and cut up in a way that only family can. Since her passing, we haven’t had a Thanksgiving celebration that’s been the same. This year though, we all got together and had that down home gathering.
I think it was hard for all of us without Granny Aloma there. We had a great time though, eating traditional southern dishes and laughing for hours. Family and friends all together, bonding over food and fellowship–my heart was so full (and my belly was too).
We kept our tradition of seeing a movie on Thanksgiving night alive too. The five of us (my mom, stepdad, brother, stepsister, and I) saw the late showing of Mockingjay, Part 2 and even ran into a few distant cousins at the theater! We got home and went to bed for a few hours in preparation for the next day…
Black Friday! My mom, stepsister, and I got up around six to go shopping. We got some awesome deals at the mall, and I purchased my very own selfie stick (at 50% off). I even found my favorite soda from middle school!
We had breakfast, then hit a few other stores before making our way back home. After a nap, we went out shopping again and got even more deals. Mom and I managed to mark a few people off our Christmas lists (and picked up some goodies for ourselves too of course).
Saturday I made a country breakfast of sausage, biscuits, and gravy before we went to watch my brother play basketball. He made some great plays! The fact that he’s dang near 7′ tall probably doesn’t hurt–I call him my “big little brother.” 🙂
Later that day, we had visitors come through–cousins! Clearly cute runs in our family because these little girls are the most adorable people ever! The big sister is a cheerleader/gymnast who is smart as a whip. The little sister is the sweetest, calmest little baby; this was my first time meeting her and she stole my heart right away.
To make the night even more awesome, my stepdad brought me a delicacy I’m unable to get easily in Wisconsin…White Castle!
Today consisted of a lazy morning at the house before the family took me to the airport. Hugs were given; “I love you’s” and “be careful’s” exchanged. And here I am, writing a post about my wonderful weekend on a plane.
I love my family so much. I am so thankful to have grown up with people and traditions so honest and real. I’m glad we are able to come together and support one another “like we used to” and, hopefully, how we always will.
After visiting Kathy in Pittsburg, I went straight to Savannah, Georgia for a business trip. After spending the past few years in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin (and many evenings reading and re-reading Gone With the Wind) I was excited to see one of the great Southern cities. Below are details and photos from my personal excursion through Savannah. It was a wonderful place and if I have my way, perhaps I’ll move there someday!
The night before my adventure, I made a tentative schedule for the day based on recommendations from my friend Julia (who frequently traveled to Savannah for business) and a very talkative older lady I met on the plane who lived on Tybee Island.
The next day, a very colorful cab driver took me downtown. On the way, I heard the Steve Harvey Morning Show on the radio–that is one of the parts of living in the South that I miss. Steve had a good word about waiting for what God wants for you because “He can do the unthinkable and unimaginable” and to pray for what God wants for you instead of what you want. Once I arrived at my destinations, the cab driver warned me to “stay cool.”
First stop: Breakfast at B Matthews (recommended by the chatty plane lady as one of the places where locals eat). Such a cool place! The restaurant smelled amazing; I was engulfed in a cloud that instantly made my mouth water. I ordered biscuits and gravy with a side of sausage and a Bellini–SO GOOD. Seriously, the sausage was spicy and the biscuits were soft and that Bellini had me leaning a little to the left. I finished it at the restaurant so I had to wait to see if “open container realness” was in fact real.
I wandered down Bay Street for a bit to check out the scenery–Savannah is breathtakingly beautiful. Eventually I made my way down a very steep set of steps to River Street and bought a pair of cateye sunglasses. It was deliciously hot and sunny!
On River Street, I stopped at Savannah Bee Company and got a jar of delicious smelling hand cream. I sampled every honey in the store and tested two new lemon flavors that aren’t on the market yet. As if I didn’t have enough of a sugar high after all that honey, I bought a chocolate praline from River Street Sweets. It was very tasty but I could only eat half of it because it was so sweet (and huge!).
I purchased a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil from a souvenir shop, then headed to a bar and ordered a “front porch peach tea” (an adult beverage) and took it TO GO! “Open container realness” was, in fact, real! I sipped my cocktail while walking down River Street and browsing in an art gallery. The aforementioned cocktail was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted.
I then walked from River Street to a restaurant called Tequila’s Town (recommended by my friend Julia) for lunch. It was about a 15 minutes walk from River Street and I sweated like a whore in church the entire way there, but it was worth it–two-for-$4 margaritas! I ordered a chimichanga. Pretty sure the last time I ate a chimichanga was at Miguel’s Mexican Restaurant in Hodgenville in 2004–that experience was nothing compared to this one. The food was awesome! I even watched a man make fresh guacamole right at the table for the couple sitting next to me–pretty sweet. The waiter asked me if I wanted the second of my two-for-one margaritas to go. I giggled gleefully inside–you could drink on the street! How scandalous!
As I was leaving the restaurant I said, “This is the best day of my life,” out loud to myself. It may have been the adult beverages talking but oh well.
Next was exploring scenery and shops on Broughton Street. Gone with the Wind is one of my favorite books (along with its sequel, Scarlett) and the entire time I was on Broughton I couldn’t help but think, “This is where Scarlett came to buy boots!” I considered purchasing some footwear just to feel more like Scarlett, so I did. I bought flip flops on Broughton! I also bought socks–Gap was having a sale–and saw a funny sign in another shop about selfies.
It started sprinkling around 3:30 so I hit up Leopold’s Ice Cream (no pun intended–it really did start raining). The line was kind of OOC (out of control) but I was able to get my hands on a single scoop of mocha chocolate chip in a cake cone. I listened to Beyoncé and the Jackson 5 (among others) while I ate it and checked Facebook while I waited for the rain to stop. Yay for free wifi!
After the rain stopped, I continued wandering around downtown until dinner time. I saw many interesting things like historical markers and beautiful architecture. I also saw a dude on a skateboard with a dog that looked like one of the Lost Boys from Hook.
My final stop was dinner at The Olde Pink House. The waitress (Megan) asked if she could excuse herself to “fetch some bread for my table”–how fancy is that?!? She came back and asked me how hungry I was, then recommended an appetizer and two different entrees. Homegurl ran through all the ingredients too–she is good at her job for real.
I felt like such a lady eating there. They had full place settings and chandeliers and crisply starched tablecloths. The sweet tea was the sweetest elixir I’ve ever tasted. Best believe my sixth-grade obsession with etiquette came in handy; my back didn’t hit the chair, my elbows didn’t touch the table, and I was really glad I knew which fork to use. It was sad to think that when this house was initially serving meals, I’d be serving the table instead of eating at it. Slavery is the ugly side of the South.
The meal was delicious. The collard greens tasted just like my Granny Aloma’s. The pork was fall of the bone tender. The mac and cheese was all kinds of flavorful. I was literally speechless after the meal…
…and also uncomfortably full. I waited forever for a cab and eventually used Uber (which just recently became available in Savannah, thank goodness). The driver said he had lived in Savannah his whole life and never ate at The Olde Pink House. I told him it was definitely worth a trip.
That concluded my day-long personal excursion in Savannah–I had an awesome time checking out the city! I definitely plan on visiting again and will make sure a ghost tour finds its way onto my itinerary.
The next day, I finally started work. During my two days of working, I was able to have lunch at a couple of interesting places: a sandwich shop with a King Kong theme and a good Latin restaurant called Latin Chicks. Per my adamant request, a group of us had dinner and drinks at The Olde Pink House the night before we left. 🙂
A few weeks ago, my wonderful friend and fellow blogger Kathy invited me to spend a weekend with her and her husband at their home in Pittsburg. Kathy and I met while working together and became instant friends. We spent lots of time together while she lived in Madison and I was very excited to get to see her new house!
Kathy and her husband were wonderful hosts and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them. Below are a few snapshots of their beautiful home and other fun things from my time in Pittsburg. Making new memories with old friends is one of life’s sweetest pleasures!
The gorgeous guest bedroom that was my temporary abode:
Their beautiful home–living room, solarium, gazebos, and a few furry neighbors:
A weekend of delicious meals–ramen downtown (complete with octopus balls) and a homemade breakfast by Kathy herself:
Fun times with one of my favorite couples–hiking, board games, and seeing the sights of Pittsburg:
Finally, a friendly photo shoot! Categories are Fainting Realness, Living Room Luxury, and Solarium Chic:
Many thanks to my wonderful friend and her husband for a fantastic weekend! Check out Kathy’s blog here for information on beauty, fashion, and more!