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9 Feb

**** Before I share my Florida trip, I have a shameless plug for Becky’s fabulous husband, Ben! He has entered a contest that could really help his career and get his artwork in front of the right people. In Ben’s words: “The winner gets flown out to pretty much the biggest comic book convention and introduced to all the bigwigs in the comic book, video game, and toy/statue industry which will jump start my career in comics and everything else!  I am so freakin’ excited about this it’s not even funny!  The voting ends on the 14th so it’s a very limited time in which to decide the winner so everything has to be a concentrated effort.  Thank you so much for the support.” So how can you help? Go to this link. Click on “Support Ben,” via the Facebook button. The website will email you when to vote; both views and votes count! *****

So, Florida.

Apart from the chaos that ensued before we actually got there (in a nutshell: Knight’s flight getting canceled, him having to juggle to get on my flights out of StL, dealing with a flat tire in the ghetto of STL, arriving at 1am) and the fact that we got no sleep the night before (hooray for 24 hour amazing breakfast places to kick off the trip), our first vacation was totally ah-mazing.

There was nothing but hugs, love, laughs, holding babies (hers, not mine… duh!), drinking, eating our way through North Florida, laughing some more, watching ridiculous reality TV (hello, Jersey Shore. Nice to meet you, finally. And I may be hooked.)

There was not lovely weather by any means but it was still warmer then this stupid midwest. Like by a lot. And it rained, warm rain. The good kind of rain, you know?

I wore flip-flops and short sleeved shirts. I slept in. I cuddled with Knight and my niece. I sat with my childhood BFF (she needs a nickname, seriously) and laughed, smiled and cried over the pictures and memories of us from the last five years. We hung with my niece and had good life chats. We sat in silence at times and it was more than ok.

I put my toes in the sand despite the insane fog that was covering the Jacksonville beaches. I had to talk to a cop in order to get into the bar since I was a dunce and left my license at home (it worked). I took shots to celebrate my childhood BFF’s birthday, the attainment of my Masters, and friendship and love in general.

Future trips were planned. Tears were shed when it was time to leave. Bonds were strengthened. Knight and I spent five days and six nights together; the most in a row since we’ve met one another and were left hungry for more.

My soul is rejuvenated (again). My heart is soaring (still). There is a smile plastered to my face (like usual). I’m in love with Florida all over again. I fell more in love with myself, with Knight, with life.

When was the last time you fell in love with yourself, your life, your loved ones all over again?


Lessons Learned on a Girls’ Weekend

3 Sep

Things Learned on a lovely girls’ weekend in Minneapolis…

… the merits of dating older men (they die faster), that it’s possible to move your shoulders in three different directions and look awesome while doing it, and that if you want to hold a chicken, you just have to be confident.

… you are never too old to go to an all children’s bookstore. Ever.

Lisa makes a damn good margarita. Kyla brings the tastiest treats (ketchup potato chips!!). Mandy’s laughter is totally contagious.

… Oreo ice cream is the best invention known to man. That is until you try a cheese curd and Sweet Martha’s Cookies at the State Fair. Then those become the best inventions known to man.

… French Gypsy Calypso Jazz is rather catchy.

… laughing until your sides hurt is one of the many benefits of having friends who truly get you.

… Music Bingo is a fabulous invention and probably my new favorite game.

… two-story Targets are incredibly impressive but sadly they do not have chocolate animal crackers.

… the view from the top of the Guthrie Theater is gorgeous, the Farmer’s Market smells of nature and goodness, and Minneapolis is far more progressive than STL.

… Listening to “Let It Be” performed live under the stars, standing next to three fabulous women, tears are going to fall, possibly from your own eyes. Moments like this remind you that life is really good.

… soaking up the moment and really living is so freeing, so worth it.

… the moment you get home, you’ll want to turn around and do it all over again.


Gone Fishin’

26 Aug

Ok, well if you know me at all you’ll know that I’ve never been fishing in my life. But I will be out of touch for the next few days as I’m going to meet Lisa, and catch up with these two dollfaces as well. Add to that my parents’ 30th Wedding Anniversary and my brother’s 22nd birthday celebrations next week I’m sure I’ll have fun stories, photos and posts to come!

You can find me over at Becky’s today, talking about my recent infatuation with Whole Foods (it’s the little things, people). If you don’t read Becky’s blog well, you should. She’s pretty amazing.

I leave you with one of my favorite, happy, makes-you-want-to-hug-someone DMB songs and I’ll see you next week!

Shout it Out: Blog Friends Rock

10 Aug

One of my 30 Before 30 goals is to meet 15 bloggers that I “know,” but don’t really know (if that made any sense).

Last weekend I met Ashley. If you don’t read her, you’re missing out. She’s a fabulous, genuine, adorable, funny, intelligent, so-much-fun-to-be-around, want-to-put-her-in-your-pocket kind of friend. I’ve “known” her for a little over two years now and this past weekend in KC we finally met.  It was a total spur of the moment decision to visit her, the whole thing happening within a week of her saying she’d be in Missouri. How could I say NOT go to visit her since she drove 12 long hours from Texas?

We spent hours shopping, baking in the Kansas City heat, walking with our shoes off in support of a charity, taking ridiculous (and some seroius) videos, enjoying beer on a rooftop bar, dancing to videos on youtube in our fabulous comfy PJs from Victoria’s Secret, and eating greasy Mexican food at all hours of the night. I honestly can’t do the weekend justice in words, so go watch this video. I still laugh every time I watch it so maybe you will too. Or maybe you’ll want to go on a road trip to meet me and help me reach my goal. Or maybe you’ll find it annoying, in which case don’t tell me.

It was a whirlwind of a trip but I was definitely sad when it was time to leave. Darn bloggy meet-ups always end too soon.

Here’s to a new blog friendship solidified in real life and more to come!

Don’t forget to enter the Giveaway for the All-Natural Insect Repellent (odds are pretty good right now!) and if you want to procrastinate a little bit more, check out my VEDA Videos!

30 Before 30 (Part Three)

23 Jul

The final installment is here! It’s been tough to come up with 30 things (well, things that are actually feasible and remotely attainable) for this little project but all the items have some sort of special meaning or have been on the ever-growing “to do list.”

If you’re interested or you missed the other installments, you can view them here. I’ll try to give periodic updates on how the list is progressing; I have started the Harry Potter series (finally, I know) and am loving the first book so far. Baby steps, people.

1. Learn how to knit; make myself a blanket. I’ve had knitting needles and yarn for almost a year now and I haven’t touched them which is kind of pathetic. I am big into blankets: reading under blankets, snuggling up in one for a mid-day nap, and of course using them for the requisite by-the-fire-in-the-winter nights, so it’s only natural that I’d want to knit a blanket.

2. Finish the cross-stitch baby blanket that I started… five years ago. Yes, I cross-stitch. No, I’m not an 80 year old woman. I love being able to see instant results on the project. At this rate I’ll have it finished before I have a kid of my own. Ideally I’ll finish it and be able to gift it to a family member.

3. Read all of the books that I own today. There’s a lot of them but I’ve made a list so I know what I have, know what I need to read. I figure once grad school is over it should be no problem.

4. Get back to my goal weight and stay there. (As of this post, I’m about 6 pounds away from my goal weight.)

5. Take one each of the following classes: Dance Class, Cooking Class, Baking Class, Writing class.

6. Meet at least 15 bloggers I haven’t met before. I’m thinking a road trip or a series of small trips over the next few years. Also BloggersInIndy and Vegas of course!

7. Buy all Christmas presents for friends and family from only local companies and/or Etsy. There are so many adorable shops around town with unique designs from local designers and Etsy, well, I love everything on Etsy. I’m a big fan of supporting local/independent companies, as is my family, so it just makes sense that I do this, finally.

8. Get involved in an election. Any of the following would count: Campaigning, making phone calls, working the polls, etc.

9. Treat myself to a weekend at a spa. I’ve always dreamed about a weekend in the mountains at some sort of secluded spa with just me, a comfy bed, my thoughts, and a stack of journals.

10. Start my own charity. I have a few ideas (Darling and I have been plotting the beginning of one for a few years now).

Poli-Sci Geek Out

20 Jul

So much to see in DC. So little time. Given my geeky political science background I traipsed all over town to see as many monuments and historical sites in just two afternoons: The White House, Washington Monument, Natural History Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Capitol Mall, Capitol Hill, the reflection Pool, WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Library of Congress. Not to mention the countless other buildings I passed like the Dept of Treasury, Executive Building, IMF, World Bank and so much more!). Here are a few of my favorite photos from the trip:

Near the Washington Monument, enjoying the fabulous breeze on the super humid day.

The 4,000 stars at the WWII Memorial. Each star represents 10,000 lost American lives during the war. A somber  yet beautiful part of DC.

The view of the (long) walk alongside the Reflection Pool; at the end is the Lincoln Memorial.

I encountered these young kids as a few times along the walk to the Lincoln Memorial; not older than 16 years old, they were on a mission to educate anyone that would listen about the issue of human trafficking. I was impressed by their ability to speak on the matter, their candidness, and how passionate they were about the subject. I promised them I’d give them a shout out on my blog and you would have thought I gave them $1,000 each. Youth in action is a great thing.

Then on to one of my favorite places: The Library of Congress!

The entire building is decorated this ornately; it looks like a Cathedral and a bookstore merged, had a baby, and the end result is this Library.

(My new favorite quote, pictured above: “The true university of these days is a collection of books.”)

Any particular city that you would totally geek out in if you could visit?

(Congrats to Megan from Somewhat Voluble for winning the CSN Stores Gift card from last week’s giveaway!  Check back in a few weeks for yet another awesome, organic, giveaway!)

Nora Goes to Washington

16 Jul

Once a year I get to travel to the Mecca of all Conferences for people in my line of work; it moves from city to city each year. (Previous cities include Denver, Houston, New Orleans and this year, Washington DC.) In addition to attending high-level meetings, networking, brainstorming sessions, keynotes, happy hours and other various parties that I’m required to attend, I try to get in a bit of sight seeing as well.

After meeting yet another fabulous group of blogging buds, I got down to the business of geeking out because, you see, I love things related to political science and history, of which there is plenty of here in DC. During my time here, I amassed some interesting knowledge based on my experiences:

* Don’t take a big purse or backpack into *any* of the museums. The guards will hound you to hold the purse/backpack in front of your body to avoid damage to the artwork, artificacts and statues.

* 33% of DC residents work for the Feds, with their average commute time a total of seven minutes.

* It’s nearly impossible to eat dinner in Georgetown for less than $30 a per person. It is, however appropriate to take photos of the food and introduce your friends to the concept of “food porn:”

{Antipasto tray at Fino’s, with a Campari & Orange Juice in the background}

{Tiramisu, also from Fino’s}

* It’s perfectly okay to spend $20 on a pair of Jackie O. style sunglasses at the National Portrait Gallery.

* If you go to a drug store (and presumably other grocery stores?) you will be charged if you use/take a plastic bag.

* It is perfectly acceptable to party on the Potomac River docks on a Sunday evening. Boats pull up dockside, blast music, movies, share drinks, tie themselves to other boats and the restaurants on the River? Jampacked. People watching is at it’s prime here and the entire area buzzes with energy which made my Sunday evening slightly less awful.

* DC is an active city; running/jogging/biking paths abound and every single time I was out and about, I saw a jogger & biker, no matter what time it was. On top of that the great sights to see are very spread out so do a bus tour or bring your walking shoes.

* For some amazing Italian food with authentic taste via Rome, make sure to check out Fino’s. The owner is onsite and will gladly speak to you in Italian if you know the language. Add to that the food is delicious, not mainstream and perfect portion size, it’s a lovely spot for a date or working dinner.

* Half the fun of taking pictures in front of monuments is doing silly (yet respectful) poses in front of them, like this:

* After seeing countless navy & white striped skirts, it’s evident I need to buy one. They look so timeless, classy, chic.

* If you’re interested in a tour of the White House, book it six months in advance. Yes, they really do fill up that quickly. I also suggest scheduling ample time for museums and other monuments/points of interest.