Feelin’ Texan and a Date Dilemma

Howdy!

So, as you know, I spent the weekend in the Lonestar State! We did a bit of city hopping (Dallas to Austin to San Antonio), but the main reason for going was to celebrate the wedding of Sean’s cousin, Andrew, in Dripping Springs (which meant a visit to Texas Hill Country!).

The day before the wedding, we spent some time in the adorable town of Wimberly, TX. Sean says I stick out like a sore thumb in Texas, but I’m okay with that. After all, you can take the gal out of Northern Virginia, but you can’t take the NoVA out of this gal, hehe.

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Wimberly is a really cute town, with these giant cowboy boots decorated by various local artists set up throughout the entire area. I also fell in love with this popcorn place that seriously changed my life. Dill Pickle and Jalapeno Cheddar popcorn?! Cinnamon Toast Kettle Corn? Be still my snack-loving heart! Good thing they ship nationwide, because I may or may not be making serious plans for a popcorn bar at the wedding…

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Aaanyway, as I mentioned in my previous post, the rehearsal dinner was at the world-famous BBQ joint, The Salt Lick. I was so excited to finally get to try this place out, I couldn’t even hide it (hence my excited face posted above.) I knew 2,200+ Yelp reviews couldn’t be wrong about this place, and thankfully, it all lived up to the hype.

It. Was. Awesome. I ate my body weight in delicious smoked meat and it was everything I thought it would be. The brisket? Moist and juicy. The pork ribs? Fall-off-the-bone tender. Even the house-made pickles knocked my socks off! Oh, if only there was barbeque like this in Northern VA!

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The next day, we had some time to kill before the wedding, so we spent some time exploring Dripping Springs (they were having a festival), and also visiting the Deep Eddy Vodka Distillery, which apparently just recently moved out of Austin to set up shop in Dripping Springs.

Then, it was wedding time! The whole thing was incredibly beautiful — all country chic (Catelyn, the bride wore an allover lace dress with cowboy boots) and rustic elegance. The venue was gorgeous and they got super lucky with the weather, too — it rained, stormed, and was intensely humid every day EXCEPT for the day of the wedding, which was temperate (still hot, of course — I mean, it is Texas — but not muggy) and sunny.

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Of course, with a wedding of my own around the corner, I was taking some mental notes on all of the amazing and beautiful things that they did to celebrate Andrew & Catelyn’s big day. I particularly loved that the bride & groom were already seated for dinner when everyone else came in from cocktail hour. That way, they were able to actually eat and enjoy each other’s company before the hubbub of being announced and launching into their first dance, etc.

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Just from these terrible iPhone photos alone, you can probably tell what a gorgeous venue and setup it was. Aside from the beautiful ambiance, great food, and ridiculously good band, however, it was also just wonderful to meet all of the extended family on Sean’s dad’s side. The Foxes are an awesome group! Now I’m even more excited to take on that moniker myself someday, hehe.

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Speaking of which… after much visitation and deliberation, I have finally chosen my wedding venue! Sean and I will be getting married at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial!

You know that humongous tower that sticks straight up out of Old Town Alexandria when you drive by? Well, that’s the place! It’s gorgeous and grand and has a ton of history — both generally (George Washington was the Charter Master of this lodge), and personally (turns out my grandfather and great-grandfather were both lifelong Masons!).

It’s got a very iconic DC-feel, while still being in Northern Virginia (huzzah!), and the interior is full of high ceilings, marble floors, grand staircases, and enormous columns. I love it! It has a beautiful theatre inside (where the opening scene of National Treasure 2 was filmed!) which will be the ceremony space, and then this cool sunken ballroom on the ground floor to host the reception. It also has a wicked observation deck at the very tippity top that offers incredible views of the surrounding area.

Funnily enough, the Masonic Memorial wasn’t even originally on my list of potential venues, but after I wrote my post about my venue search, my friend Clare mentioned that I should take a look at it (her sister got married there), and I ended up making a super impromptu visit and simply fell in love!

Unfortunately, while I do have a venue picked out, I still haven’t decided what to do as far as the actual wedding date. Maybe you guys can actually help out in that regard. See, for a long time now, I’ve had visions of a winter wedding dancing in my head. You know, crisp winter air, cool winter light, long dresses with faux fur stoles, deep colors and warm drinks, lights, snow, the whole shebang.

So when the time came to pick a date, I thought that a January wedding was pretty much a no-brainer. After all, Sean’s and my anniversary is already in January, plus it does have additional advantages, like being in the wedding off-season (vendors sometimes offer off-season discounts), being during Ben and Taylor‘s downtime (my brother and sister-in-law are wedding photographers), and not competing with a zillion other brides getting married the same weekend. Seriously, I think I saw at least half-a-dozen different weddings on Facebook from this past weekend in addition to Sean’s cousin’s!

So, January 23rd became my golden date, just a few days before our four-year anniversary.

However, as you can see, here I am, venue selected but still dateless. Turns out, I’m a bit gunshy when it comes to actually pulling the trigger on the date. The major reason has to do with the fact that Sean is concerned (understandably!) about how weather will affect people traveling from out of town. He makes some good points about people potentially not being able to attend because of it, and I think that’s become my biggest hangup. So I did inquire about some early Spring dates that the venue has available, and now March 12th and April 2nd are under consideration as well. (I’ve definitely ruled out anything remotely close to Summer — I’m sure I’ll be sweaty enough without the help of 90-degree weather, thanks — and Fall is out due to timing — this Fall is way too soon, next Fall is too far away.)

See, on the one hand, I don’t want anybody to be straight-up unable to attend my wedding due to something as silly as weather. And there’s just no telling what it’ll be like on the day of, and that is pretty stressful. (Not that I haven’t tried — guess how many times I Googled some variation of “January wedding weather predictor,” hahaha.)

I mean, if it were to snow on the day of, I’d actually be totally fine with it (I love snow!) but if it were to snow a crapton? This area just doesn’t do very well with snow, and even local people might have trouble getting around. And what if, Heaven forbid, it’s icy? I feel like it doesn’t tend to snow as heavily or get quite as icy in January around here but you never know…

On the other hand, weather is unpredictable no matter when you get married, especially in this area. We’ve had freak snowstorms in October and March, we get plane-delaying thunderstorms in April, and the like. Plus, I mean, it’s not like people don’t ever travel during January… and at least flights/hotels would probably be cheaper in the DC area in winter vs. in Spring. And then, of course, a Spring wedding doesn’t exactly fit into my whole wedding vision…

Butttt, like I said. Torn.

Anyway, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter — I know that asking for opinions when it comes to wedding planning can be overwhelming (especially because people tend to have a LOT of opinions when it comes to weddings, hahaha), but I’m honestly so torn right now I think it’d be helpful to hear from other people.

What time of year did you get married? Would you be hesitant to attend a winter wedding?

The Resolutionary War

Happy 2015, friendos!

Let’s see, given that I kinda skipped over the entire holiday season ’round these parts, let’s do a quick recap about what’s been a-going on over the past couple of months, shall we?

First things first. Last we spoke, my hair looked like this:

 

But in honor of the season, it now looks like this:

 

The holidays were all kind of a blur of wonderful at this point, but they involved a joint-Thanksgiving at Taylor’s (my sister-in-law) parents’ house, a roadtrip down to Macon, GA to spend Christmas at my sister’s house, and trying to fruitlessly prove that I’m not old by doing New Year’s in DC. 2014 definitely went out with a bang!

 

The very best part of which was, naturally, spending time with my flippin’ adorable niece Mia:

 

It also probably bears mentioning that at some point during all the holiday craziness, I got promoted at work! Yep, you’re looking at the new Senior Community Manager for Yelp here in Northern VA. Hooray!

Of course, along with the promotion and presents and quality time with the fam and general warm fuzzies, also came a LOT of delicious holiday FOOOOOD:

 
 

Which pretty much brings us up to date with where we’re at so far in 2015! Much like most of America, I’d wager, I did not do the best job of keeping my gut in check over the holiday season. With turkey and ham and prime rib and pies and cookies and Lindt truffles, I definitely did my fair share of indulging. That’s not to say I went balls to the wall or anything, but in the sake of honesty, I did put on a couple of pounds between November and now. I will wait for you to recover from the shock. 😉

So, yes, in the past I’ve preached the ludicrousness of making New Year’s resolutions since, really, there’s nothing different about declaring an intention on January 1st over any other day. And yes, I rebranded this very blog to specifically declare that I was no longer interested in losing weight (or, at least, in blogging about it), well, I’ve gone back on my word and made a resolution to drop a few libbies.

In all seriousness, I still do very much believe everything I’ve said about making peace with my body and loving myself regardless of what the scale says or where my waistline is at. That said, I also never said I’d never want to lose weight again, and while I do think I’m at a much healthier place mentally and emotionally, I’d be a fool if I simply ignored the fact that I am not at my healthiest physically.

After all, I may have been going to the gym somewhat regularly before now (“somewhat” meaning like, once or twice a week, which, credit where credit’s due, is a big improvement for where I was before that!), but I wasn’t really applying myself. I’d spend half an hour walking on the treadmill and working a few machines, and I’d hightail it outta there while still giving myself a pat on the back for going at all.

And, more importantly, I wasn’t really paying too much attention to how much I was eating. My diet may have been mostly clean, but I know myself well enough to know that it’s always been more of a quantity over quality problem with me. And as most of us are more than well-aware, weight primarily comes down to what you eat.

Sooooo, trite as it may sound, here I am with a resolution for 2015 to get back in the saddle health-wise. I wanna drop some weight, up my fitness level, and generally get my health back up to snuff. I am trying to go about things the “right” way. You know, not fixating too much but cleaning my eating back up, logging my food, and definitely upping the fitness ante.

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So far, things are off to a good start! My fitness-instructor sister has done me the great favor of creating some workout plans for me, I bought some weights and a kettlebell, and I also purchased and began doing Tony Horton’s P90, which was created for couch potatoes like me who get sore at just the thought of doing P90X at this point, haha. This way, even on blisteringly cold days (like the past three days have been! Brrrrr!) where I can’t be motivated to leave the house (heh), I don’t have an excuse to get my sweat on.

Hopefully you guys don’t see this as any kind of wishy-washy reneging on my new blog/life outlook or anything wherein I made bold declarations as to be done with weight loss, but rather as an honest attempt to get myself “back on track” (I actually hate that phrase, haha) with admittedly cliche timing. Either way, here’s hoping it sticks this time around!

And c’mon, I can’t be the only one who made some resolutions, right? We aaaaall do it. So let’s hear ’em: what’s your New Year’s resolution? 🙂

“Welcome, Harry, to Diagon Alley.”

In February 2012, I took a trip to Orlando, FL with the express purpose of visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure. It was, without overstating it, the best trip ever.

That is, until this one.

Because this time, I not only got to go back to Hogsmeade, but I also got to visit Diagon Alley, the newest part of Universal Studios Theme Park and without a doubt the most magical place on Earth (take that, Disneyworld!). Now, most of you know that, if we’re putting it mildly, I [email protected]#%-ing love Harry Potter, so consider this your warning that things are about to get real nerdy real fast.

It. Was. Glorious.

I feel it is important to note that Diagon Alley is not visible from the streets of Universal Studios Theme Park. Rather, when you enter what is clearly marked as “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley” on the park map, you find yourself standing in a London street.

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It’s all an homage to HP, of course, but it really does have that London feel. They even have a stand selling England-y things set up right outside — union jack t-shirts, “Keep Calm and Carry On” mugs, etc. Looking around, you’ll see the entrance to the Leister Square Tube stop, King’s Cross Station, and, of course, Number 12 Grimmauld Place.

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The Knight Bus is also set up right outside, complete with conductor extraordinaire Stan Shunpike and his little shrunken head sidekick who yells things at people walking by. It’s pretty great.

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Then, you walk through an inconspicuous-looking opening, around a corner, and suddenly find yourself gazing upon that magical brick entryway…

And there it is.

First off, it absolutely feels like you’re stepping into a different world, because you’re basically BEHIND the main street of the park. You can’t really see any of the other park areas once you’re inside Diagon Alley, which is awesome in and of itself.

And it’s just perfect. You walk down the lane and it’s ALL there. On the right, Quality Quidditch Supplies, where Harry first laid eyes on the Nimbus 2000 broomstick in the window display.

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On the left is the back-entrance of The Leaky Cauldron, where you can grab a bite to eat… and where we did just that. Obviously. The food was actually really good! Expensive as all get out ($70 for lunch for 4 people, oyyyy), but still pretty impressive both quality- and variety-wise.

Walk a few steps further, and there’s Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, complete with a giant Fred or George raising his top hat to everyone passing through the Alley.

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Further down the way lies Madame Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, where Harry bought all his school robes (and where a very generous Sean bought some for me, heehee!) Hufflepuff reppin’, yo!

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And that’s not all, by far! I haven’t even mentioned the Magical Menagerie, where Hagrid bought Harry his very first birthday present ever — Hedwig. Or Flourish & Blott’s, complete with moving poster advertising Gilderoy Lockhart’s latest book (of lies).

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There’s Florean Fortesque’s Ice Cream Parlour, where Harry, Ron, and Hermione spent many a final day of summer enjoying ice cream after a long day of school supply shopping. They offer both hard-packed and soft-serve ice cream in flavors like Earl Grey & Lavender, Clotted Cream, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Apple Crumble, and, of course, Butterbeer. Plus normal ones like chocolate and vanilla for boring people. 😉

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Of course, there’s another Ollivander’s here (the REAL Ollivander’s), and the park peeps clearly learned a lesson from the Hogsmeade side of the park, because instead of having to wait in the sun while 20 or so people went in group-by-group, they built several wand rooms into the Diagon Alley attraction, so there was literally no wait time at all for us.

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Best of all, OLLIVANDER CHOSE ME THIS TIME! I mainly credit the hair for getting her attention (it was a lady Ollivander, heh), but then again, it might have been my huge dumbfounded grin. So I got to try out several different wands to find The Wand, and then OF COURSE I had to buy it since it was, you know, the wand that chose me! Duh!

Luckily, I was planning on buying one anyway, since one new feature that they added since I last visited the park are that they now sell interactive wands, which allow you to “cast spells” at various locations throughout both Harry Potter parks. So you can walk around and cast Wingardium Leviosa on a sign, or  Aguamenti on a water fountain, or Tarantella on a window display to make a puppet dance, etc.

I tell ya, these park people really know how to get suckers like me to part with their hard-earned Galleons. 😉

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And speaking of money, right at the end of Diagon Alley is Gringotts. Yes, Gringotts Bank in all its glory, complete with fire-breathing dragon perched on top. The dragon breathes fire about once every fifteen minutes and it’s hot and it’s loud and it’s fun and you seriously never get tired of it. It’s awesome.

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This is also where the new ride, Harry Potter & the Escape from Grigotts is located. The ride actually broke down right when we first got in line but don’t worry guys, I only hyperventilated a little. And thankfully it was back in working order with even shorter lines just an hour later! Also, the ride is really great, in case you were wondering. It’s pretty much what you’d expect if you’ve watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2 and saw what happens when they try to break into Gringotts and secretly wished it was a ride. Well, now it is!

Some people might be surprised to learn that Harry Potter & the Escape from Gringotts is the only actual “ride” in this entire part of the park (if you count the Hogwarts Express as more of a transportation attraction than actual ride.) Yep, just the one. But honestly, there’s so much to see and do you’ll barely even notice. I’m just as happy sippin’ on my Butterbeer and watching Celestina Warbeck & the Banshees perform, or one of the park’s puppet reenactments of the Tales of Beedle the Bard, as going on thrill rides. Just sayin’.

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It really is just astounding how MUCH there is. They even have Knockturn Alley ready and waiting for all you dark wizards and/or people who can’t correctly pronounce “Diagon Alley” when traveling by floo powder. I swear, they must pump in cold, clammy air as you make your way down to Borgin & Burkes, because it event felt creepy.

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And of course, who can forget about the Hogwarts Express? You need a Park-to-Park ticket to ride it, since Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios park and Hogsmeade is located in Islands of Adventure, but it’s so, so worth it. The Hogwarts Express functions as both an actual train ride from one park to the other, and as a little interactive movie-type thing, where you get to see various things out of the window and happening in the hallway as you travel to and from London/Hogsmeade.

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Honestly, I could probably write an entire post JUST on the Hogwarts Express/King’s Cross Station. There are so many awesome little details that they put into what is basically a shuttle! As you enter King’s Cross, there are fake muggle billboards advertising things like “Magic, the Perfume”, piles of luggage strewn about (including one trunk I spied with the initials H.G. on it), and a little snack shop that carries ALL BRITISH FOOD AND DRINK ITEMS. Stuff like Prawn Cocktail chips — sorry, I mean, crisps — and REAL Mars Bars that you can actually buy while you wait in line.

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There also is a really special way that they did the entrance to Platform 9 3/4. I SO wish I’d gotten a picture of it, but basically they have a pane of glass up that works like a hologram and makes it really look like the folks in front of you are disappearing through the wall between platforms 9 and 10! Ungh, it’s sooooo gooooooddddd.

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So yeah, for those of you who might end up debating about whether to get a Park-to-Park ticket, if you’re any kind of Harry Potter fan you’re definitely going to want to do it, even JUST for the experience of going through the Hogwarts Express stuff. Plus, c’mon, are you honestly telling me that you’re gonna go all the way to Universal Studios as a true Potterhead and NOT get the park-to-park ticket?

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I mean, at the very least Hogsmeade still has Hogwarts, amiright? And I’d been to the Hogsmeade side before and it was still just as great the second time! They also made a couple of changes that helped space-wise, like moving all the merchandise that used to be at Zonko’s Joke Shop over to Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, which left a much more open, easier to navigate space inside Honeydukes. And that really worked out well for me when I decided to peruse the shelves at Honeydukes because, well, I just hadn’t spent enough money yet.

You’re looking at $40 worth of candy that will probably never be eaten, FYI.

And so, my friends, that about does it. There are more than a few things that I left out because I A) definitely didn’t take enough pictures (too busy stifling my tears of joy) and B) there is just SO MUCH it would literally be impossible to describe within the confines of a single blog post.

But, hey, I tried. And anybody who is planning a trip down to Universal Orlando in the future, I’m more than happy to answer any questions you might have! I know it basically seems like I spent every minute of my time at Universal immersed in Harry Potter World, and while I may have wanted that to be the case, we did manage to fit in some other stuff too:

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So, yeah, best trip ever still seems to sum it up.

Slytherin Hair, Hufflepuff Spirit

Those of you who have been longtime readers of this blog know that at one point in time, I was a daily blogger. Yes, every single weekday, and even some weekends if there was anything particularly exciting to report, I would open up a fresh post page in WordPress and type, type, type my heart out. I would detail everything from my latest weigh-in what I made for dinner the night before, to what I had been up to that weekend, to just all of the random thoughts that ran through my noggin.

Of course, part of the reason for that daily blogging was the accountability I so desperately needed to keep myself on track with weight loss, but another (rather sizeable) contributing factor was the fact that my job, well, let’s just say it didn’t exactly keep me busy 100% of the time. And during the rare times when I was busy, I was doing things I wasn’t exactly jazzed about having to do. So what better way to keep myself from going cuckoo behind a cubicle than to take to the magic of the world wide interwebs, right?

Well, as it turns out, me running to this very blog on an almost-daily basis was the very thing that honed my writing and social media skills to the point where I was able to land a full-time job that took advantage of those very things. A job that honestly felt tailor-made for me. My dream job. (I know how obnoxious it is that I still say stuff like that, but, hey, honest is as honest does!)

But, of course, suddenly having a job that not only required more of my time, but that I also wanted to devote time to, meant that I found myself starkly lacking in that ho-hum, what-to-do-what-to-do downtime where I was able to do a lot of my blogging. And so, those daily posts suddenly dropped to a few times a week. Then maybe once a week. And now… well, I think we all know I’m not the greatest at updating frequently.

And the funny thing about blogging, for me, at least, is that the longer you stay away, the harder it is to jump back. Logically, you’d think it’d be the opposite scenario. I mean, I have so much to report on, so many things to tell you about, so many photos to embed, I should be cranking out post after post, right? But it’s actually more like, there’s so much to say, I don’t really know where to start.

Funny, right? When I was writing at least 5 times a week, I rarely struggled to come up with content, and yet here I am with a multi-part dream vacation, a very stressful and frightening hospital stay for my dog Harry (don’t worry, he’s okay now, thank goodness), a friend’s wedding, and tons of events, cooking expeditions, and restaurant recaps stirring around in my brain, and I hardly even know where to start.

Well, I guess I should follow Fraulein Maria’s advice and start at the very beginning, eh?

A couple of weeks ago, Sean and I headed down to sunny Florida for a vacation that basically consisted of all the best possible things in life: my niece Mia, Harry Potter, Disney, a cruise, Sean’s birthday, the Kennedy Space Center, and, of course, more Harry Potter. (Duh.)

It was a pretty long trip and as you can see, we did quite a few different things, so I’ll try to tackle this chronologically. The trip can essentially be broken up into thirds. Part I consisted of being together with my sister, brother-in-law, and Mia, who drove over from Georgia to visit Universal Studios and Disney’s Magic Kingdom with us!

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Mia’s first trip to Disney, though she will not in any way, shape, or form remember it, was so much fun! I’m sure I would have still had fun even if it was just us “grown ups” touring Magic Kingdom, but I have to admit that it’s all the more special with a little princess in tow.

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And even though I’m sure parts of it were really overwhelming, I think Mia really had a great time! We basically had to pry her off of the teacups, and she was so excited to meet Belle, well, see for yourself. She was literally head over heels for her. 😉

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I will, of course, do a much, much (much much much much) more detailed post on Diagon Alley, the newest part of the Universal Studios Theme Park and literally the most magical place on Earth, but for now, suffice it to say that it was absolutely amazing and perfect and wonderful and I almost cried but didn’t quite so be proud of me.

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Just a couple of gals hanging out on Sirius Black’s flying motorbike, nbd.
Sean absolutely gets full marks for being so wonderful through all my insane fangirling, of course. For someone who has only read the first three Harry Potter books, has only seen like movies 1, 2, and 8 (or something equally as ridiculous), and doesn’t exactly have the Disney-obsessed gene that tends to run in my bloodline, he was an incredibly good sport.

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I did not actually end up buying him the “Best Boyfriend” award pictured above, but those of you fearing for Sean’s sanity after what he went through on this trip, don’t worry. Part 2 of our trip was a lot more fun for him, I promise. 🙂

After we said goodbye to Jenny, Dan, and Mia, it was time for Part II of our trip! Sean and I took the world’s most expensive Uber ride about an hour east from Orlando to Port Canaveral — we were going on a cruise! See, my old man’s 30th birthday just happened to coincide with this trip, so I figured that a nice, relaxing 3-day Bahamian cruise was just the ticket to make sure he got a chance to really enjoy this vacation too.

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PS: Traveling as a couple and trying to get pictures together = having to choose between taking yet another selfie OR awkwardly asking other couples if they’ll take a picture of you, since only they truly know your plight.
We were on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, and the cruise was very nice — lots of downtime, relaxing, and, of course, eating! Oh boy, so much food… it’s really a good thing the cruise was only three days, I tell you what. We left from Port Canaveral and stopped in Nassau, Bahamas, and then we were also set to stop at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s “private island,” but unfortunately some really bad winds meant we had to skip it, as the water was too choppy to risk taking tender boats to the shore.

Oh well, being on the boat is where most of the fun in cruising is at, anyway, right? I mean, I managed to win $20 in the casino off of a $5 initial investment, so I’m thinking things went preeeeetty well for us. 😉

We actually ended up returning to Florida ON Sean’s birthday, so we headed just a few miles out from Port Canaveral to the Kennedy Space Center’s Vistor Complex and spent most of the day nerding out about space. (Sidenote: we also just saw Interstellar over this past weekend and I tell ya, it was a good combination to have just visited the Space Center, heh.)

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Sean’s a big space nut, so he had a great time checking out the old rockets, the space shuttle Atlantis, and all other sorts of nifty space-race history stuff while we were there. And as for me? Well, I may be as much of a space enthusiast as Sean, but I definitely learned a lot…

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Finally, we ended the day with Sean’s birthday dinner at Luma on Park, a fantastic restaurant that came recommended by my coworker and the Orlando Community Manager for Yelp (she does what I do here, only there.)

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And that successfully wraps up both Parts I and II of our trip! Whew! For those of you still reading, I’m pretty impressed that you made it. And fear not, I shall save Part III for another day, since it pretty much just consists of going back to Harry Potter World, shamelessly geeking out, and totally, utterly, completely loving my life.

Slytherin hair, Hufflepuff spirit.

Hopefully at least getting a significant chunk of my big trip down on paper (so to speak) will help me funnel my blogging mojo back into some semblance of normalcy. I definitely have more to report on, so stay tuned! Especially those of you who are looking for more of an in-depth look at the new Diagon Alley part of Universal Studios, hehe. Oh man, there are so many more ridiculous pictures to come…

‘Til next time!

Mia-cation and the Evolution of Balance

I’m back, baby!

Well, actually, I’m back from visiting the baby!

I returned yesterday from my trip to Macon wherein I spent a crapton of time with my wonderful 17-month-old niece, Mia.

It was awesome. What did we do while I was there, you ask? Well, let me tell you!

We played…

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We read books…

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We were extremely fashionable…

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Her, not me, obviously.

We also snuggled…

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And celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival with Mia’s first moon cake…

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And we watched Frozen.

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Every day.

Sometimes twice a day.

I mean, I fall asleep and wake up with “Love is an Open Door” stuck in my head.

But those of you who know me also know that I am totally, 100% okay with that. 😀

Of course, since my sister teaches fitness classes, I also ended up doing a few other things. Most of which can be summed up by these extremely attractive pictures:

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She. Destroyed. Me.

In a very positive way, of course.

I went to the gym and was thoroughly worked not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES IN A ROW during my so-called “vacation.” Given how ridiculously lazy I am, you should be pretty proud of me. And on the second day, she taught back-to-back classes, and I DID THEM BOTH. Who am I?!

Actually, if I’m being honest (and aren’t I always?), getting my work out on with Jenny really was a bit of a wake-up call in terms of my fitness. I know that in the (many) months since I quit running and working out regularly, my fitness level has really tanked. And nothing brought that to my immediate attention more than the outrageous pain my muscles were in the morning after I attended Jenny’s first Ab Crunch class. Oy.

IMG_7794-1.JPGOne of these things is not like the other…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, staying active is a real struggle of mine. If given the choice between going to the gym or going on a hike or going for a swim OR watching a Gilmore Girls marathon on TV (DID YOU HEAR THAT THEY’RE RELEASING THE ENTIRE SERIES ON NETFLIX?!?!), it’s not hard to guess what I’m always going to pick.

I mean, even when I was on the rockin’ weight-loss train, it was still really hard to motivate myself just to be active. I had to bribe myself with races just so I had some reason to go to the gym, to hit the pavement, to get moving. And, really, even though I was running and racing and talking a lot about my health and fitness levels (which were, obviously, much improved over what they are now), the main reason I was doing all those things was to aid in my weight loss.

So it’s not too much of a stretch to understand that when I stopped actively focusing on losing weight, my sole motivation for being active pretty much went out the window, too. It is just so, so, so easy to live a sedentary lifestyle. Between my computer, TV, PlayStation, and books, I spend a lot more time sitting than anything else. And while I really do enjoy taking Harry and Daxter out for walks, those fluffernutters are even lazier than I am.

  

Seriously, try going more than a mile with them and see what happens. (Spoiler alert: it involves carrying Daxter home.)

So yes, anyway, the wakeup call. It comes as no shock to you, I’m sure, that I am suuuuper out of shape right now. Even if you take the whole weight factor out of the equation (and I am not truly that oblivious, I do realize they’re associated to a certain extent, but let’s just put that conversation off for another day), I simply recognize that I’m not currently at my most energetic or my peppiest or my most well-rested…est. I’m sure that on some level I’ve known these things for a while, but I haven’t been motivated to do anything about it because, well, I didn’t want to. Simple as that.

As you know, I’ve been taking some time to try and separate myself from my former identity as Someone Who Is Losing Weight, as Someone Who Needs To Be Thin, as Someone Who Is At War With Her Body. Instead, I’ve been honestly trying to embrace and love myself as-is. And that truly means embracing everything — from my large frame, height, and thighs that will always, always touch, to my tiny ears, widow’s peak hairline, and double-jointed elbows.

But life is all about give and take. And as my focus shifted away from the number on the scale, giving me the confidence to feel better about myself, it also was taking a lot (okay, all) of my motivation for maintaining the healthy habits that I had originally cultivated to help me lose weight. Which led to a serious backslide in terms of my overall fitness level.

So, yes, unsurprisingly, when I actually did find myself back at the gym, I got my ass handed to me. But you know what the surprising part was? I really felt so accomplished for getting through those workouts. For going back the next day. For working hard enough to really get sore. I mean, the soreness wasn’t great in that it was a literally painful indicator of how out of shape I’ve gotten (it seriously feels like a totally different person ran Reach the Beach back in 2012), but it still felt good in a weird, semi-masochistic way.

So I started to think about why that was — after all, it’s not like I’ve never worked out before. I’ve done plenty of challenging classes, I’ve been CRAZY sore after a workout before (my brief stint with CrossFit in particular comes to mind). But I’ve never been, like, happy about feeling like I got schooled by a workout. And I realized, sad as this sounds, that’s probably because I’ve never really known what it’s like to go to the gym or try a class or take up a exertion-based activity without the question constantly stirring in the back of mind, “How will this help me lose weight?”

Which I guess actually probably isn’t shocking given that I’ve been basically obsessed with my weight for most of my life, and it’s admittedly really hard to break free of that kind of thinking. But… I think I’m starting to get there. Just maybe. I think I might just be getting to a place where I can see myself taking steps to be active and fit because of how it makes me feel, not because of how I want to look.

So that’s pretty neat. We just have to hope that this feeling will last long enough for me to get into the rhythm of things even without my super fit, crazy active sister here to drag me to class with her, haha. This is new territory for me, after all! I mean, exercise for the sake of… exercise?! Not just with the aim of losing weight?! Egads!

Let’s see how this goes, shall we? I think the main thing I want to bear in mind moving forward is this: embracing my body and loving myself shouldn’t be an excuse for me to be lazy. Loving myself should mean taking care of myself, right? Just because I’m not trying to be thin doesn’t mean I get a pass on making an effort to be healthy, happy, whole, and balanced.

So, all this is really just to say that next time I get a craving to binge-watch back-to-back-to-back-to-back episodes of Revenge, I’ll most definitely still be doing so. I’ll just try to make sure I’m gasping aloud from major plot twist shock from atop a treadmill instead of my couch. #balance