Friday, May 29, 2009

Announcing a New Addition to Our Family!

Per my dad's recommendation, I wanted to share some exciting news... we have a new addition to our family.

We're still waiting to name her, but here she is:

She's a 2007 Ford Sport Trac with a mere 26,000 miles in her history. Dan found her at an auto auction last Wednesday. What he liked about this truck is that it's both comfortable and functional. Four doors, decent size bed (and we can get a bed extender), nice ride, etc. 

And... we struck a deal. We're staying in Decatur (or at least that's the plan). :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Honeymoon Recap: Day 1 in Venice

Lamp post on Saint Mark's square 
(photo from a friend of Steffi's)

Canal photo from a friend of Steffi's

The first floor lobby of our Venice B&B — look at that tile! 
(hotel photos from the Domus Orsoni Web site)

One of the bathrooms of the Domus Orsoni, 
decorated with gold leaf Orsoni glass

Our room, complete with intricately-tiled mirrors and tables

View of the Rialto Bridge (photo from Wikipedia Commons)

I let out a deep sigh as we slogged our suitcases and backpacks back to the train station. After all, the three days and nights we’d spent in Florence had been amazing. It wasn’t fair that we had to leave so soon. The city was historic, romantic, artistic, vibrant-yet-relaxed and so much damn fun. Disappointed but eager to explore our next destination, we boarded the train for Venezia.

The train ride was good for recharging and for reading up on the history of Venice. We knew the city no roads, but waterways instead — and that its population was smaller than Florence or Rome. I’d read Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice years before, but memories of reading it only conjured up descriptions of the city, not insight into the city’s founders, triumphs and struggles. We read that Venice was built on a marsh by refugees of Roman cities, and that it rose to power when it overtook Constantinople in the early 11th century. Later, on our private tour, we learned a great deal more about the city and its “borrowed” religious relics from other rising and fallen God-fearing greats. 

Anyway, arriving at the train station immediately gave way to great views. It was beautiful — but bizarre — to see people lugging groceries, suitcases, kids and laundry across bridges large and small. While the water did have a slight odor, it seemed mild (not at all like the fishy/sewage smell I've heard others complain about). 

We arrived around 11:30 and were hungry for lunch. A few side "streets" away from a major bridge, we spotted Enoteca due Colonne. The place looked casual, unassuming and popular with lunching businessmen. We enjoyed small servings from the ristorante's deli counter. Mmmmm fresh sauteed peppers and eggplant in tomato sauce, zucchini, bread, stuffed tomatoes and a salami sandwich — all washed down with Coke Lights. I did mention to Dan that this was the most vegetables we'd had in one meal yet. I think our bodies thanked us. One can only go so long on wine, pasta and meat. While we heard Venice had many a tourist trap restaurant and attraction, we thought the food was authentic, the staff nice and the price decent (21 euros for everything).

We then made our way to our bed and breakfast in the Jewish Ghetto. Domus Orsoni was out of this world. Our accommodations had been great in both Rome and Florence — but Dan really outdid himself with this final place. The lobbies, sitting areas, rooms and bathrooms were all adorned with tile from the famous Orsoni glass factory. We enjoyed looking at every stunning room in this place. I wish I could find more photos of the breathtaking mosaics proudly displayed on the first level. Our legs thanked us, too, as we were only one flight's worth of stairs from our bed this time. Our room ran us about 150 euro/night.

Seeing in that we only had two nights to spend in Venice, we were eager to go explore. We meandered around the Rialto Bridge, picked up a few nicknacks for friends from vendor booths, popped and out of shops, enjoyed  some gelato and watched kids (illegally) feed and hold pigeons in St. Mark's Square. We ventured into a bookstore off the square to find out more about recommended restaurants and the nightlife. As we paid for an expanded map, we saw a poster for Carnival the Show, a theatrical performance on the history of Venice. We were a little leery of the 39 euro/person ticket cost, so we asked the cashier what she knew about the show. She said she'd heard good things — and that it was a good orientation to the city. We said, "what the hell" and bought two tickets for later that night. 

We gave ourselves just enough time to bust it back to Domus Orsoni to freshen up for dinner. To make the show in time, we decided to buy passes on the Water Bus (just like it sounds — like a metro transit bus but on the water). Would you believe the passes were 6.5 euro/person for one trip? A looming water bus strike also made us feel a little uncomfortable... but hey, it was faster than walking and cheaper than a gondola! 

It wasn't long before we had rip-off moment number two. Short on time, we popped into what looked like a fast food joint. Run by a handful of Asian twenty-somethings, we safely assumed the self-serve restaurant wouldn't be your traditional, authentic, Venetian cuisine. In our minds, we thought this would be kind of the Italian equivalent to a Picadilly. Well, a couple of chicken breasts, a side salad, some bow tie pasta and two small glasses of wine later, we owed this little joint 35 euro. Yikes! 

The Carnival show received decent feedback on TripAdvisor, but I wouldn't recommend it. Pros: a digestible Venetian history in an hour and 20 minutes, good seats, easy-to-understand actors and relatively entertaining plot line. Cons: a pretty strong campiness/cheesiness factor, probably a younger (or much older?) target demographic and a steep price tag for what you get. To be honest, I wondered if that cashier lady somehow got a commission off our ticket sale. There's no way she could say [in good faith] that she'd heard good things about the show.

It was an expensive night, so we decided to walk back to our place. The walk back was actually quite refreshing, as the weather remained a steady 65 degrees at night. 

After the day's turn of events, I realized why some people like Venice to Disneyworld. On top of developing a feeling that Venice was more likely to exploit tourists compared to the other cities, it was also on this day that I realized none of my comfortable shoes were actually that comfortable. Note to fellow lady travelers: flat shoes (even lightweight tennis shoes) don't always equate to comfort. I will invest a little more in walking shoes for our next trip.

After a day of hitting the mainstream, we went to bed in our fabulous B&B with our minds drifting to tomorrow's highly-rated walking and boating tour through the city...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Delirious: Streaming My Consciousness

This is streaming my consciousness at it's best (or worst?).

As I sit here, trying to get my brain focused on doing some work, my mind drifts off into super odd places. I just spent about 15 minutes pondering the following deep, serious life questions:
  • Why doesn't Heinz make individual ketchup packets larger? I don't know anyone who uses only ONE packet... and we all know that less packaging per volume saves money and space (think the Coca-Cola "Fridge Pack")
  • In middle school, was it uncool to wear both your backpack straps or the color purple? WTF was wrong with us? Or maybe that just my school...
  • Is it only a matter of time before Truitt Cathy opens up Chick-Fil-A on Sundays as well? I mean, imagine the revenue he's missing by only being open six days a week. Or perhaps his revenue wouldn't change much at all because all us Chick-Fil-A eaters out here make sure to get our fill before Sunday morning rolls around?
  • How the hell have nearly six months already elapsed since Christmas? What have I been doing all this time...?
  • When are we going to start seeing people throw 90's theme parties? Next year is my bet.
  • Why did I actually just answer a telemarketers phone call and spend 15 minutes answering his questions about why I decided to close my SunTrust checking account? Perhaps there's a name for it. Procrastination.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Survey: Weirdest Wedding Moment

Many of my coworkers know I took a vacation day Friday for Moeko's rehearsal festivities, so several people have asked me today how the wedding went. Luckily I could respond, "Totally fun, great weather, no drama, laid-back bride and groom, etc. etc."

During one of these conversations, a coworker mentioned to me that the daughter of a good friend of his mother's also got married this weekend. They said their vows and as they were announced as husband and wife, they made another announcement... that they'd actually been legally married for four years already and never told anyone.

How bizarre. I mean, what? 

So that prompted me to ponder weird wedding moments. I don't know if I have any that good... but I do have a few. I was a bridesmaid in a wedding once and witnessed the mother of the bride telling the well-endowed bride that her breasts looked slutty in her wedding dress. (Note: she did not look inappropriate at all). That was fun. And we all know a girl who's kicked bridesmaids out of her wedding at the last minute. 

So, what's the most bizarre or dramatic wedding moment you've encountered? Do tell.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Moeko and Matt's Wedding

Moeko with her mom and brother

The father of the bride is clearly proud

The groom

Moeko with the cutest flower girl ever

Not surprisingly, Moeko looked PHENOMENAL for her wedding this weekend. Matt, the groom, was handsome and completely awestruck by his gorgeous bride. With amazing weather, good food, a great band and a super fun couple, the night was destined to be a success!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Olivia's Baby Shower

My fabulous girlfriends Staci and Kate co-hosted a potluck baby shower for our friend Olivia back in late March. Olivia is one of our first friends to be with child — so we weren't sure exactly what to do with planning and executing her shower. We did know that Olivia wouldn't want anything frufru (crumpets and cucumber sandwiches anyone?) and that we didn't want to do any embarrassing or crass games in the company of both Olivia's mother and mother-in-law. 

Kate was in charge of entertainment. She came up with several really cute ideas, two of which were pregnancy mad libs and the guess the size of the belly string game. The big hit entertainment-wise was decorating onesies for baby Collins. We three hosts split up craft-purchasing responsibilities, all picking up an assortment of onesies (ranging from newborn to nine months), craft paints, stencils, brushes, sponge stamps, etc. Each of the shower attendants got her own onesie plus a piece of cardboard to put inside (to keep the paint from bleeding through). Girls shared several paint plates scattered throughout the house — and worked away at their baby couture creations.

I suppose a good time was had by all, as the shower eclipsed its 4pm end time and lasted well past 5. Now we all just can't wait to meet Collins. With parents as hilarious and hot as Olivia and Tres, he's sure to be absolutely adorable and tons of fun. 

Olivia and Tres (from their engagement photo session, 

I wish I had more photos of the food, flowers, games, etc.