Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sliver of Life: Sibling Winter

My brother left this morning at 8AM to begin his cross country drive back to Pennsylvania and I've had absolutely no composure since the moment my alarm went off this morning. Mr. B rolled over, wrapped his arm around me and said, "Are you okay? Did you get any sleep?" And that's when the flood gates started. After watching the tears fall in my bathroom sink, I grabbed some tissues and barged into the guest room my brothers room and said, "Do you really have to leave?" He said with a giant smile on his face, "Yes! And don't be sad, kid!"

With my brother, there is no such thing as "misery loves company." In fact, he doesn't have patience for it. If someone is sad, he simply wants them to be happy. He considers it a mindset and I suppose that's a good quality to have. Unfortunately, today, I was too sad to be happy and he was too happy to be sad. Although, dreading his drive, today was the day he'd been looking forward to since the day he arrived in Colorado: the day he moved back home. He loved Fort Collins and loved us, but knew his heart was in Pennsylvania. #jerk

He initially moved half way across the country (in December) with a girl and planned to spend the winter in the Rockies: working a seasonal job for a ski resort, learning to snowboard, and soaking in some real mountain living. What really happened is he and his girlfriend broke up in a matter of days, he started sleeping in his car on the days he worked, and moved into our house on his days off.

We spent nearly 3 days a week together. While I worked, he would make me breakfast, mess up my kitchen, wrestle with Monty, listen to vinyl, watch trashy television (Party Down South), make the guestroom a true disaster, take long walks in the afternoon, drink whiskey in the evening, encourage bad habits with my husband, and fall asleep on the couch while watching the Voice.

So much of this winter with my brother was spent in a routine. We had so many ideas when he arrived, and honestly didn't do any of them. His days off were at the start of our work week, which made it hard to even make plans. To make matters worse, when the sun set before 6PM, none of us wanted to leave the house. So we vegged out a lot. We told stories. We shared funny experiences. We did yoga. The boys ganged up on me a lot - mostly to do with my cooking. And I judged them for their lack of cleanliness. In reality, it was the same kind of household dynamic that it was when we were growing up, it was just a little more grown up.  We talked bills, and budgets, and responsibilities - all things that we didn't do as kids. But we still fought, teased, and laughed, just as we did when we lived with our parents.

My brother is scheduled to arrive back on the east coast at some point tomorrow. He is anxious to hug our mom, toast beers with his buddies, meet up with a lady pen pal, golf with our sister, and put his helmet on for the first raft guide trip of the season. And I will still be here, watching Monty stare out the window, waiting for "Unc" Chad to come back.

I really wanted to twist his arm and make him stay, but his excitement about going home made me smile. At least he knows where he wants to be and that's nothing to be sad about.

While reading a blog post today from one of my favorite bloggers, there was a quote I read that struck me. She said, "The way you love where you live (both in terms of geologic place as well as figuratively, this "place" in your life) has so inspired me to appreciate where I live and this sliver of life."

I am so thankful for this sliver of life that I was able to share with my brother. As he goes back to the place he loves to live, and I continue to live in the place I love, we'll settle into new routines for this next sliver of life.

I love you brother and I can't wait for our next breakfast together! Safe travels and visit soon.

Some memories from this winter:

Arrival to Colorado
Beers after applying for a new SS card
Thrifting Fun
Breakfast Feast
"Holiday Nuts"
Work Uniform
Christmas in Colorado
Afternoon walks.
Ray Bans for the Eric Church Concert
The kid hard at work, while we ski
Beers and Yahtzee
Celebrating 303 = Colorado Pride Day
Garth Brooks Concert PreGame
Garth Brooks Concert
Beermosas with Seany
Soccer with Monty
Snuggles with Monty
Baseball Addict
Hiding me behind the pitchers cage
Coloring Easter Eggs
One of the only photos of the three of us

"Buckwheat" and "Unc"

Cheers to his last day in Colorado
Colorado Souvenir 
He's leaving the B's

Donuts and chocolate milk before hitting the road

After going through endless folders of "iPhone Dumps" I realized we maybe did more than I thought. It may not have been snowshoeing around a lake or skiing down mountains, but treasured memories, nonetheless.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Liebster Blog Award

I was nominated by my very fit and gorgeous friend Meghan Counsman, for the Liebster blog award. This award was created to recognize and/or discover new bloggers and welcome them to the blogosphere. I really am not "new" to the blog space, but I was SO honored she nominated me, that I had to continue the string and play along.

 She asked me the following questions:
  • Why did you start your blog? To keep my family in the loop of my Colorado adventures when I moved from Pennsylvania, nearly six years ago - time goes fast. My first post is laughable.
  • What can you not go a day without doing? Sleeping. I really, really love to sleep. And every person I have ever watched a movie with or traveled with would say the same.
  • If you could take a vacation right now, where would you go? A trip to PA to visit my mom, my sister, my grandma, and my best friend.
  • What is one thing you really like about yourself? This is a toss up: Either the fact that I enjoy trying new things or my love of antlers. :)
  • What outdoor activities do you like to do? Walk my giant labradoodle. Camp with Mr. B. Have picnics. Stroll a farmers market. Bike for a beer. And sometimes hike, when my husband makes me.
  • What is your favorite meal to cook? I asked my husband what he thought and he said spaghetti. I can't say it's my favorite, but it's my go-to, because it's easy and I always have beef, pasta and sauce on hand.
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla, always. Preferably with sprinkles.
  • If you could have dinner with any person in the world today, who would that be? Someone sentimental: my dad. Someone famous: Ellen DeGeneres.
  • What is your favorite movie? To be honest, I would prefer a TV series over a movie, but if I had to pick: The Sandlot, The Notebook, or The Other Sister. Oh wait, and Juno too. My movie choices are a dead giveaway that I am NOT a movie person.
  • Which person in your life do you most admire? Why? There are SO many people that have had a strong impact in my life, but if I had to pick one person that I admire it would have to be my mom. She is the most selfless person I have EVER met in my entire life. She feels emotions to the core of her being, whether it's happy or sad. She hasn't been dealt the best hand in life, but has always been strong enough to get through whatever God lays out in front of her. I love you mama. You'll always be my rock in life.
  • What would you do in life if you knew you couldn’t fail? Quit my job on a whim and be a full time blogger or decorator.
Bloggers I nominate:
Questions for the bloggers I have nominated:
1. Are you a morning or night person?
2. What is your guilty pleasure?
3. What is your favorite holiday? Why?
4. What is the first thing on your life bucket list (today)?
5. What is your favorite season and something you love to do that time of year?
6. If you had a day all alone with no plans, what would you do?
7. What is your favorite song currently?
8. Upload a favorite picture of your self and tell us where it was taken.
9. Would you rather scuba dive or sky dive?
10. What is your greatest fear?
11. If you had the time for a new hobby, what would you like to do?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Honey Lovers


Thought I would start a new blog series. Why? Because I am infamous for starting series and then stopping. Nonetheless, it is always a way for me to "stay committed" to this little web space. At least for a week, maybe a month if you're lucky.

I call this new series: Honey Lovers

On a fairly regular basis, a friend or acquaintance reaches out to me with something bee or honey related. With "bee season" just around the corner, I decided my honey lover posts would be dedicated to all my inquisitive pals. If you have a question, leave it in the comments, and I will add it to the "series" list. First, I must give a special shout out to those of you who have reached out. I am pretty sure this article was posted on my facebook wall by ten different people. I feel honored that you think of me when you see or hear anything bee or honey related. Who would have thought, his crazy beek adventure would have created honey bee awareness in MY circle. Take a class, buy a bee suit, and become a beek with me!! 

I had a long time friend reach out to me this past weekend with a photo of his upside down honey bear asking why his honey looked the way it did. Then mentioned, how much of a pain it is to squeeze or scoop the honey out when it solidifies. #thatswhatshesaid 

I've been there, spending too much time unscrewing the lid of a sticky honey jar, to be left with a near solid lump of goo, then getting frustrated and tossing it in the trash. 

When your honey looks similar to the photo above, don't get frustrated and more importantly, DO NOT THROW IT AWAY. Your honey has crystallized and means a few different things:
  • Quality: It is actually a sign of high quality honey. In most cases, it means it's raw and hasn't been filtered to remove the pollen (the part that's good for you). I promise to dedicate a post to pollen and elaborate on this one. 
  • Temperature: Honey should be stored at room temperature or greater. If kept in a pantry, lazy susan or cabinet, where it gets a little cooler in the winter, your honey is more likely to crystallize. Store it on your counter, instead. If you chose to purchase honey in a bear (make sure it's local), switch it to a jar or honey pot so it's easier to scoop out when it does crystallize.  It will prevent your frustration later. 
  • Natural Process: Honey is made up of two sugars - glucose and fructose. The proportions vary with each type of honey and is dependent upon what plants the bees fed on that year. The point is science, guys. I can tell you that it's the glucose portion that crystallizes and some honey flavors are more prone, due to their high glucose percentage. For instance, I just learned that Alfalfa and Clover honey crystallize at a faster rate than some of the other honey flavors. My bees lived on an alfalfa farm, which is probably why most of my left over honey looks like the photo above. And maybe because I stored it on the bottom shelf of my pantry during the coldest months of the year. #rookiemistake
Don't get frustrated. Don't think it's honey-gone-bad. Just scoop it out. Put it in a cup of warm tea and it will dissolve. Spread it on a piece of toast, just like you do with butter. Or eat it by the spoonful. And enjoy it. 

Monty Monday

He waits. If one of us is upstairs and one downstairs, he waits between the two. Often it's here, at the top of our stairs, until we're together in the same place. He is always worried he is going to miss something, otherwise. 

Look at that pose. Doesn't he make you just want to kiss his curly locks. #partialmom

Friday, March 27, 2015

Set Sail | Royal Caribbean Cruise

My blogging hiatus is officially over. You can visit Instagram to see what I've been doing since the New Year began. In a nut shell it includes quality time with my brother, a weekend at Steamboat with our Raleigh friends, a quick work trip to Seattle, and some weekend exploring and boozin' with Mr. B.

I decided to make my grand come back with a post about our first cruise.

Let me first introduce our crew:
  • Steph: The Planner. While majority of us sat back with little to no input, we offered our credit card information and let Steph book and plan our entire vacation. Perks of knowing a travel agent!
  • Scotty J: The Socializer. While two of us were waiting on him to climb the ship rock wall, he was off meeting Penn State alumni and drinking more booze - the one thing the rock wall guide told us we weren't allowed to have before climbing.
  • Danielle: The Sober One. While majority of us were chugging Carona's and chasing beer carts on the island, she was guzzling bottles of water and expressing how dehydrated she was. I am concerned what that made the rest of us - prunes?
  • Chad: The Gambler. While the men on this trip admired his luck in Black Jack, they were too intimidated to join him. Though, it crossed their mind to offer him money to play for them.
  • Sandy: The Napper. While some of us were getting carried away at the pool or beach, you could find her on a lounge chair or in a hammock catching some Zzz's - wearing amazing hats may I add. The rest of us were just mad we didn't spot the hammock first.
  • Bryan: The White One. While the rest of us were getting fried by the sun, Bryan managed to leave more white than when he arrived. Maybe Bryan needs to teach the rest of us how to apply sunscreen because I packed $45 worth of SPF bottles and still came home peeling like a snake.
  • Scott: The Drinker. While we surrounded the piano-man signing Country Road at the top of our lungs, Mr. B was contemplating climbing on top of the piano. I can assure you that would have been a sure way for us to be introduced to the life vests they had sitting in our room - by throwing us overboard.
  • Kylie: The Crier. Rather than swim with the sting rays like everyone else, I was sobbing and climbing Sandy and Bryan like a ladder. Thankfully they were there to remind me to breathe, while my husband was off giggling with the boys and snuggling starfish.

Day one: We arrived at the airport an hour before Danielle and Chad. So how do the B's waste time? Drink beer. We had a rad gay bartender named Mathew, who was born and raised in Danville, Pennsylvania. Mr. B was served his first Lima-a-Rita and the three of us talked about how lucky we were to have moved away from the harsh northeast winters.

Once The Gambler and Sober ones met us with their bags, we made our way to the Hilton Marina in Fort Lauderdale and headed straight for the pool. It didn't take long to meet a "wealthy" couple who had expensive taste - chilled patron with an orange slice. We inquired about their switch from a traditional lime to an orange, and in a matter of minutes, they sent us a round across the bar to try for ourselves. Danielle slept on a cabana at the pool while the three of us celebrated the start of vacation! Understand why she was named the Sober One? Technically, she could also be mistaken as The Napper!

Day two: The other half of our crew drove 12 hours the day before from Atlanta to Miami. Since they had a car, the Socializer offered his taxi service and picked the 4 of us up to take us to Port.  The check in process was unlike anything I ever imagined. In my head, I envisioned a ticket counter, similar to what you see at a fair and a wooden ramp built to the entrance of the ship. Boy was I dead wrong. It's more like airport security with many more stops along the way. Most importantly, one with a professional photographer! We were dressed like leprechauns and held a festive sign that the Planner and Napper made. We said cheese and continued on our lucky way.
Who's who?

Once on board, we learned our way around the 1980's gold-decorated ship rather quickly. It is one of the smallest ships in the fleet, so it didn't take much exploring to find the necessities: our life vests/boat (in the event of an emergency), the 360 bar, the pool bars, the rock wall, Ping-Pong tables, and endless soft-serve ice cream.
Life vests are best worn without pants

The boat set sail at 5:00PM during a downpour, so we washed a few Dramamine down with beers and watched out the windows as we left the port.

That evening we met some of the best servers on the ship - Raj and Di - and found ourselves slapping our legs in laughter during the evening comedy show.

The ladies went to bed. The men stayed out. And The Gambler walked away with more money than he played. #hedidntshare

Day three: We were awoken the following morning by the Socializer. He was whispering "Stranger Danger" and looming over Mr. B's face saying, "you left your door open all night." He wasn't kidding. More than likely triggered by our our non-window'd room and my fear of small spaces, I had a dream that night about being claustrophobic. I got up in a sweat, opened our room door and paced the hallway. I must have never shut the door when I returned and left it open for the rest of the ship guests to parade on in. Good thing it was people we knew and not other sleepwalkers.
A banana should always be served on a platter?

Nonetheless, The Planner was right behind him with mimosa's in share :)

Following our nice wake up call, we got in line to get off our ship and onto another boat. It's called a tender and takes you from the big ship, to land, when the cruise ship can't anchor near land. We were off to CoCo Cay island - an island that is only for Royal Caribbean cruise guests. Jealous?
Tender ride

To waste time before our excursion, we wandered the island. Then we were off to swim with 42 very large stingrays. Everyone wanted to do this excursion, but me. Majority rules when you are with a group of people. So off we went. Each and every one of us could share stories from that experience, but I will summarize it for you: They loved it, I hated it. They laughed, I cried. They held them, I ran from them. While they swam in search of more sea creatures, I swam for the dock. It nearly gave me a panic attack, but gave my dear friends some of the best memories of this trip. I am thankful so many in our crew had go-pros or water-proof cameras to capture the footage.

After that adventure, we spent the rest of the day lounging on the beach, attempting hand stands, taking pictures, jumping around (a lot), meeting Penn State Alum, shooting air-shots on the basketball court, taking naps, eating pineapple, having inappropriate conversations, chasing cocks (the rooster kind), and drinking rum punch and endless coronas.
The said hammock and The Napper

At this point, Bryan and Sandy wished we would have dropped our cameras in the ocean. 

That evening on board the ship was reserved for formal night. So we dressed our best, ordered multiple entrees (per person), ate some very good and very bad desserts, and swayed with the ship during a very poor comedy magician show - who knew that even existed?

Day four: We arose alone this morning, without the Socializer looming over us and found ourselves off the boat and ready to roam Nassau - AKA a sketchy-without-power city in the Bahamas.

After taking 317 photos in front of the ship, we wandered our way to the straw market. It was here where we learned the city was without power. The generator|power plant that electrifies the entire city, blew up a couple of days prior. What a fine way to greet guests, Bahamas! Although, there was enough light coming from the open-air walkways that we continued looking at all the junk the locals were peddling. Well mostly junk: walking turtles, wood carved penis bottle openers, knick knacks, license plates, masks of all kinds, and of course straw goods.

After The Napper negotiated a gorgeous straw hat, we headed straight to the Hilton British Colonial Resort in hopes that they would have their own generator. They did, for a short while, until theirs also blew up a few hours into our visit. You may be asking yourself who needs power when you're sitting on the beach? People that want food for lunch, cold beer, and don't want to use their iPhone flashlight to use the restroom. First world problems! They did however get their generator issue figured out and we thoroughly enjoyed their outdoor amenities while they did - beach chairs, kayak racing and pier jumping!
Personal Fav: Photobombed by a 7 year old (that we didn't know)

On our way back to the ship, we stopped for some local conch fritters. I can't really tell you what they are, but they're deep-fried and anything deep-fried is worth trying. Once back on board, three of us [The Planner, Socializer and Crier] decided to give the rock wall a try. Can you even comprehend a rock wall on a cruise? Being a cruise virgin, I couldn't. But it's there and it was real my friends. We approached the rock wall guide with booze in our hand and were told, "Drink that and come back." Climbing a rock wall under the influence was not advised, but this cruise man must have been feeling like a rebel that day. We climbed like pros and rang the bell. #beercourage

We knew our weekend was nearing an end, so we went out with a bang. We toasted with champagne in the hallway outside our room, danced in a conga line at dinner, made one of our servers blush from all the attention we gave him, sat around a piano singing at the top of our lungs and learned more than we ever wanted to know about each other during a live-interactive-adult-only game called Quest. I won't ruin the surprise for you in case you have plans to travel on a future Royal Caribbean Cruise, but if you ever have the chance to participate, don't think twice! Let's just say, one of us was seen on all fours barking like a dog, one with an empty purse, one with lipstick on his face, one dressed as the opposite sex, one in their favorite sex position, one without a bra, and one holding a strangers false teeth!

That's a wrap guys! It was a long one and involved a lot of jumping, beaching and drinking. But that's what I like to call a successful cruise vacation with friends.


PS. If you are looking for a travel agent, that will help you find the perfect destination, plan a daily agenda (if you want one) and provide you the best travel advice - pick the best, my friend Stephanie Gensamer:

PS2. We added another Pennsylvania native to the group and two new Terrible Towel Photos to our collection!

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