orlando – day 1

last weekend phillip and i took a barely hour-long flight south to visit our friends kyle and lisa in orlando, fl.  they’ve been there for a couple of years now and our trip was long overdue, so with some handy delta skymiles and some pto, off we were!

friday started out with a bit of sleeping in, some bagels, large mugs of coffee, and a little catching up.  i’ve known kyle and lisa since our days at uga, and it’s always fun to reminisce on what was but even better to hear about adult life and what’s going on these days.  i personally think some of the best friendships are the ones where you can fall right back into conversation, no matter how much time has passed, and that is much of how our weekend went.

kyle (a middle school band teacher) had to work that day, so after lisa, phillip, and i freshened up, we made our way to the happiest place on earth and started out at magic kingdom.  neither phillip or i have been to disney world since we were kids, so it was as though we were seeing everything for the first time.  and, if i am being honest, i almost had more fun all weekend watching phillip because it was like he was a carefree kid again, and it made me smile from ear to ear.  🙂

we swiped our passes, took a few steps, and were in the middle of it all with everyone else right there on main street.  the bright blue skies and puffy white clouds made for quite an entrance, as did google photos for making a good picture even better.

we even were lucky enough to be greeted by an energetic, fabulous character parade!

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but you know what put it all over the top?  the fact that the whole park was decorated for the fall season.  i about died from a cuteness overload when i saw this autumn-themed mickey.

now, lisa had us all set with some fast passes at some quintessential attractions, and we started things off with the classic pirates of the caribbean ride.  with the hot florida sun beating down on us, it was a great idea to be inside the cool attraction, watching as jack sparrow snuck from one scene to the next.  and, because we’re all kids at heart, we got our yo-ho on as well.  aarh, matey!

next up was, yes, it’s a small world after all.  i’d imagine it’s law that you can’t go to magic kingdom without riding this ride, and i mean it when i say it was just as charming (and repetitive, lol) as i recall.

now, our next stop was the haunted mansion, and i myself have zero recollection of this ride at all.  phillip and lisa were a bit aghast, but i’m guessing that when we went as a family, mom and dad probably thought it would be too spooky for us kids, and i wouldn’t have a hard time believing it at all.  regardless, all that matters is that we rode it this time when we were there, and i actually thought it was quite wonderful!  i loved all the animations and special effects and was giggling beside lisa throughout the entire ride.  honestly, as we exited the mansion i couldn’t stop telling everyone how thoroughly i enjoyed it.  the day we have kids who are ready for the haunted mansion experience, you better believe i’ll be dragging them through myself!

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o-h-i-o, ohio!

this past thursday morning i boarded an md-88 with several coworkers to fly to columbus, ohio for our annual company meeting.  between team gatherings, putt-putt golf, and drinks at brazenhead, the event was quite the success in melding many offices together as a united front for the successful business years ahead for which we are striving.  go team!

most folks flew back to atlanta friday night, but i had the wonderful pleasure of staying the whole weekend.  as it would be, phillip has family only minutes from our dublin location – such a small world!  so, it was a no-brainer for phillip to take some time off work and join me.

once work things wrapped up friday afternoon, phillip picked me up and we checked into the local embassy suites.  we rested our feet for a little bit and then were in the car again.  where to?  well, seeing as how our stomachs were grumbling, it was a good thing we were headed to dinner with grandma lorraine and cousin tony at the local favorite the rusty bucket.  they were seated at a booth just inside the restaurant awaiting our arrival.  both greeted me warmly as we scooched into our seats and got to know one another.  conversation came easy among the group among local brews and delicious food.  i highly recommend the wedge salad to start and then the buffalo chicken sandwich – it was massive!  the chicken parmesan that grandma lorraine had was a generous serving also.  tony’s quesadilla and phillip’s philly cheesesteak didn’t disappoint either.  so much else on the menu looked so appealing that i guess we’ll just have to visit again!

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after paying the checks, grandma lorraine called it a night.  tony, phillip, and i, though, were in the mood for another drink, so tony led us to a local bar called the dub pub.  most certainly a favorite dive bar of those who live nearby, we grabbed a high-top and continued visiting while enjoying some whiskey-gingers and a few ipa’s from the columbus brewing company (referred to by ohioans simply as “cbc”).  soon tony’s friend sean joined us, and i think eventually we blended in with the regulars as we chatted, cheered on team usa during the olympics, and took in some preseason nfl games.

as our glasses emptied and the early evening grew into the later night, phillip and i were about ready to call it a day.  we bid tony and sean farewell and hopped in the rental.  as we cruised along to the hotel, phillip pointed out the grater’s right nearby and the convenient fact that they were open until eleven p.m.  it was only 10:30 at that point.  phillip swung the camry into the parking lot and we helped ourselves to the counter.

now, any of you who know phillip know that he has quite the sweet tooth.  i used to “blame” his mother because she is an ice cream lover, but now i know it is grandma lorraine who started it all.  she revealed that each night she either has an ice cream or a cookie with some milk before going to bed.  old habits die hard, i suppose!  😀

with many more choices at the store as opposed to just the grocery aisle, i did a bowl of strawberry cheesecake and mocha chocolate chip.  whoa, that stuff was unbelievably good.  the strawberry cheesecake was undoubtedly my favorite, and it was lucky i even got to try it since it is a limited summer flavor!  phillip considered his options for a while and then settled (to no one’s surprise) on a scoop of the buckeye and a scoop of the peanut butter chocolate chip.  i am telling you, this boy could eat only reese cups for the rest of his life and be satisfied.  i suppose it’s hard to deny a man his ice cream when it makes him this happy.

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it was finally after over-eating on quite possibly the best ice cream ever created on this beautiful earth that we hit the hay.  with two more days to go in ohio, we needed our beauty rest!

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carrollton girls’ weekend

last weekend i cruised west of atlanta to visit my dear friend sarah over in carrollton.  we were long overdue for some girls’ time, and since phillip was occupied for a couple days, i insisted i come into town.

the quick drive on i-20 led me to a few more turns and a relaxing whirl through her stomping grounds.  i pulled up to her humble abode and nearly jumped out of my car, i was so excited to see sarah and her home!  she came answering when i came knocking, gave me a quick tour of the house, and tried to keep her sweet pup maggie from attacking me with kisses.  i can’t say i minded the last one at all; everyone knows i’m a dog lover!

now, this visit wasn’t just about sarah and me catching up – it also was about getting to see her family.  her parents and siblings just have hearts of gold, and it wouldn’t be a complete visit to west georgia without seeing them, too.  so, sarah and i met up with her mom, dad, sister jenny, and other sister katie at a local antique shop.  hugs and stories were exchanged among us all as we perused the aisles and shelves in search of a hidden treasure.  although there were plenty of refurbished dressers and chairs i would love to have had, i knew phillip would kill me if i came home with another piece of furniture!  the condo and our storage unit are at maximum capacity!  i couldn’t leave the store without a souvenir from the weekend, though, so i found a lovely little rosemary mint candle from a darling little shop called uncommon scents.  the smell is subtle and relaxing and perfect to light for an hour or so before hopping in bed.

we all piled up and after shopping through another antique store and a local book shop, we met up at little hawaiian right near downtown carrollton for some dinner.

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krog street market – atlanta, ga

it has felt like eons since we did an official restaurant review, so i promised myself i wouldn’t go two months into the year without changing that fact.  last wednesday kyle, kari, phillip, and i carpooled to the southeastern part of town to check out krog street market.

since it was the first time there for kari and i, we didn’t quite know where to start.  so, we let the experienced boys lead us on a loop of the place to check everything out.  this development has been around for a little while now and whoa!  it’s obvious why people all over town love it.  it kind of feels like a grown-up food court where you can pick from several types of cuisine depending on your preference that day.  there are also tons of store fronts for local artisans who are selling anything from dog treats to handmade soaps.  there’s even an adult beverage shop right next to the bar where you can go to get away from work, life, the kids, whatever it may be!  if you’re a small business supporter, krog street market is the place for you.

i had been craving greek food for a while and finding yalla! online is what actually led us here.  kari was on board for greek as well, but phillip and kyle wandered elsewhere for their meal.  the yalla! stall is very inviting if you ask me, and i guess other people felt so, too, because there was a little bit of a line.  kari grabbed us a couple menus and we joined them.

the yalla! menu is perfect because one side has all the menu options and the other has a little glossary of terms for you to ensure you are ordering something you will fully enjoy.  although i had been coming in completely convinced i was in the mood for lamb, my mind changed the second i saw falafel as an option.  done and done!

as we waited patiently, we both liked the fact that you get to watch as the chefs make your meal.  they take care with each dish, treating food like the form of art i truly feel it is.  as our orders approached, we heard one of the line cooks call out a lamb laffa.  we both looked at the tray in amazement.  the laffa is massive!  it’s a humongous flatbread that’s used as a sandwich wrap.  kari and i were both convinced the laffa is something you can easily share between a couple people.  it looked filling and delicious!

after retrieving our orders, we found the boys had done the favor of finding some seats for us.  to give to that “community” feel, krog street market has long tables perfectly designed to encourage conversation among groups.  this layout also obviously lends greatly to some stellar observing and people watching.  i bet it was intentional; what do you think?  😉

hungry boys!

hungry boys!

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austin – day 3

the final day of our austin trip arrived way too quickly for me.  we just have so much fun when we’re all together that time truly does feel like it’s flying by.  nonetheless, the packing began early in the morning so that we could head out for one last meal before the planes started whisking us all home.

since some of the crew was on a time crunch, we walked across the street for brunch at hillside farmacy.  this darling spot was already packed with locals, so we sipped on espresso and iced coffee as we waited for our tables.

this neighborhood restaurant serves up brunch, lunch, dinner, and happy hour to its hungry (and thirsty) austin patrons seven days a week.  it’s always a clear sign when folks are waiting outside the door that it’s gotta be good.

since we were a larger group, the host split us between two tables.  kari got things going on the right foot by quickly ordering us a beaker of mimosas.  yes, folks, there’s now an even cooler way to serve up everyone’s favorite adult brunch beverage.  it’s not a champagne glass, it isn’t a carafe, it isn’t a pitcher.  no, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a beaker of mimosas.

along with those pictures, this gem from the internet comes to mind.

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oh, and then this one that kari sent me a while back.  i’ve not a clue to whom the credit should go, so to the original creator, thank you!  nothing makes me happier than cute, clueless golden retrievers acting like they hold human jobs.

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our table ordered in decent time, but the amount of time it took to get our food was not reasonable at all.  erin, shawn, ali, and mike were finished with their meals, checks paid, before we got anything.  we had some words with the waitress, and eventually we were served.  i don’t know if she forgot to enter our orders, but regardless, the service pretty much ruined our one, and maybe only, experience at hillside farmacy.  our food was pretty decent, but i don’t think it made up for the fact that poor kyle and kari had to take their brunches to-go…in the uber…with their luggage…to the airport.  what an unfortunate way to end the weekend!

those of us who remained dropped our luggage off with the kind concierge at the hampton inn (christian and sara were staying there for one more night in austin, so we sweetly took advantage) and then we hoofed it over to south congress.  we lingered in and out of thrift shops and candy stores, not so much to souvenir shop but more so to stay out of the heat.  i know the texas summer wasn’t there just yet, but that doesn’t exactly mean it was cool that first weekend of may.

happy but tired from the whirlwind weekend, a few of us ended up at amy’s ice creams for a treat.  you can bet i was very ready for something cold after the sun bore down on us while we waited in line.  i usually take a while to make up my mind, but i was quick to order a cup of strawberry ice cream with chocolate chunks.  that sweet fruit hit the spot, and i was very glad with my choice as i slurped up the last few bites.  i can only imagine how business booms here in the hot summer months.

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as they say, all good things must come to an end, so travel group by travel group peeled off to catch flights home.  it seemed too soon when it was time for clark, phillp, and i to go, so i reluctantly hugged my cousins, feeling a bit sad to be leaving them already.  hadn’t we just arrived?  it felt like the first annual cousin trip had come and gone in the blink of an eye.  good thing 2016 isn’t too far away, right?  sure!  i mean, in all seriousness, it will probably be here before we know it.