Monday, September 15, 2014

Thirtieth Celebrations

     This year basically everyone I know turned thirty and with that came 10,000 thirtieth birthday parties.  It seemed like every week we were attending a 30th surprise party, dinner, or gathering.  
I honestly think I attended more 30th birthday parties then sweet sixteen parties.

    As much as it got semi- exhausting attending another 30th birthday what seemed like every weekend it was so so wonderful getting together as friends.  It seems like each year as we get older we go out and see friends less and less and all these gatherings were such great excuses to get together.  I never would have thought that one day I would be craving staying in and going to bed early on a Friday night.  I would honestly re-do this year and all the 30th celebrations over and over again. 

   Anyways, last week my friend ALV and I threw a tailgate party for my dear friend LES for her 30th birthday.  She is one of the last of our friends to turn thirty and with it being the last weekend of summer we wanted to plan something outside, low key, but of course fun. 

    We set up a tailgate outside of the Pittsbugh Pirate's stadium, PNC Park and had drinks, food, music, decorations, and cornhole set up.
    We had so much fun tailgating and celebrating LES that I failed to take any pictures except for the cupcake cake with the many faces of LES that got accidentally run over.  (Notice the icing mess)
   At the end of the tailgate before we went to the game LES released her balloons to symbolize saying goodbye to her twenties and welcoming her thirties.


  We didn't actually watch much of the game, which is pretty typical when we all get together, but we took in the view and took several tourist pictures. 

We took a couple selfies

Hello, Pittsburgh.

   After the Pirates game and the free Gavin DeGraw concert at the stadium after the game, ( I know, random ) we met up with the boys at a local bar and everyone decided to wear their sunglasses? Not really sure why, but the sign of a super awesome night.

It honestly makes me sad that the thirtieth birthday celebrations are just about over.  

What is even sadder/ scary is that the next big birthday celebration year would likely be when we turn 40..... yikes !!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Little Book Cleaning

    One good thing about moving is getting to clean out old junk that has been sitting in drawers or on shelves for years.

 When we moved in June one thing I noticed was I had so many books that I had never read, but were taking up precious shelf space.  A lot of the books I had, had for years and never picked up.  I'm sure a newer or better book always came along and my older books continued to sit, unread, collecting dust.   

  I decided that in order to free up shelf space for new books I would force myself to read my old books before purchasing any new ones or going to the library and I am so glad I did.   This summer I have already read quite a few  of my old books and really enjoyed them. Some of the books were "no-name" books I picked up at a book fair or book swap and some were old books that I never got around to reading.  

 Anyways I am always looking for new book recommendations so I thought I would pass these suggestions along.  I'm sure any of these books could be purchased very inexpensively on or  borrowed from the library since they are not current best sellers

One Drop by Bliss Broyard
"Ever since renowned literary critic Anatole Broyard's own parents, New Orleans Creoles, had moved to Brooklyn and began to "pass" in order to get work, he had learned to conceal his racial identity. As he grew older and entered the ranks of the New York literary elite, he maintained the fa├žade. Now his daughter Bliss tries to make sense of his choices and the impact of this revelation on her own life. She searches out the family she never knew in New York and New Orleans, and considers the profound consequences of racial identity. With unsparing candor and nuanced insight, Broyard chronicles her evolution from sheltered WASP to a woman of mixed race ancestry."

As Hot As It Is You Ought to Thank Me by Nanci Kincaid

"From a place where you don't have to run away to find yourself, this novel's young heroine, Berry, joins the ranks of other memorable and spirited girl narrators such as Bone in "Bastard Out of Carolina," Kaye Gibbon's "Ellen Foster," Lily Owens in "The Secret Life of Bees," and Scout from "To Kill a Mockingbird."


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
"It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. "

 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
"So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic."
I enjoyed all four of these books.  As Hot As It Was You Ought to Thank Me was probably the easiest read, but also my least favorite as the plot was vague and uneventful at times.  Middlesex, One Drop, and The Book Thief were all amazing.   If you are a history buff you would love any of these books.  One Drop takes place from the 1770's through the 1990's and discusses a very interesting perspective of Race.  Middlesex takes place from the 1920's -1970's and tells the story of a family's secret genetic history, and The Book Thief takes place in the 1930's and 1940's in Nazi Germany.  

    The great thing was once I was finished reading a few of my old books I would go to the Half Price Book Store and trade in my old books for money or new books.

                                                     A win-win in my book.
                                  ( Sorry for the corny joke, I couldn't help myself).

Monday, September 8, 2014

Last Trip of the Summer: OBX

    Today is the first morning that you can feel the crisp fall temperatures creeping in. It is hard to believe it was over 90 degrees on Friday. 

     This summer DFH and I have traveled like crazy. We took our final trip of the summer the last week in August to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  Almost every year our group of high school friends rents a house in OBX for a week in the summer. Some years 9 people come, some years it is 12, and  this year we had 20 friends come down to OBX.   Yes, 20 people, all from high school.  What is even crazier is that there are seven couple ( including DFH and I) who both went to our high school who are either married, engaged, or in serious relationships. 
  When you have 20 friends renting a house, not just any rental will do, luckily this trip is planned months and months in advance and we were able to snag this beauty for the week. 

The house can sleep up to twenty eight people and is right on the beach.  We had our own pool, hot tub, and elevator and I loved the three floors of wrap-around porches with porch swings.  It was super fun.

   Unfortunately, I was only able to come down to OBX Wednesday through Sunday because of work, but I was still was able to get plenty of beach time, do a little shopping, and hang out with our friends.   Since most of our high school friends are in NJ and we are in Pittsburgh it is always so nice to get to catch up and spend time with everyone for more than just a weekend, which is so rare for us. 
We lucked out with the weather and it was sunny every day except for Friday, which of course is the day I decided to take all my pictures.    Since the weather was so-so on Friday, DFH and I decided to climb and explore the Wright Brother's Memorial and museum which was really interesting, and informative.  #historynerd

We could even see our rental house from the top of the memorial. 

  It is such a fun group of friends, and everyone gets along so well, which I think is rare for a group of twenty people.   Each night groups of four would rotate cooking dinner for everyone and nights were spent catching up on the deck, playing games, making fun cocktails, and dance parties. 

A few of us picked up matching Spirit Jerseys while out shopping.  Seriously the most comfortable shirt ever, I know this is going to be a fall/winter lounge staple this year. 

    Our friends Luke and Alaina make shirts for the group each year, so a group photo in our matching shirts was necessary on our last night. 

 We also have a tradition where we make a giant seafood feast on the last night.  It is always such a great way to end the week, before the long drive home early the next morning. 

We ended our vacation with the prettiest sunset. 

The colors were incredible. 

Although I love the fall, writing this post already has me craving the beach and warm summer nights. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Colorado Adventures

    Last weekend DFH and I traveled west to Colorado for my cousin's wedding. As I mentioned before I have family on both my mom and dad's side of the family in Colorado so it was so great to visit with so many family members. 

On Thursday we arrived and DFH and I enjoyed lunch with my uncle and then spent the day exploring downtown Denver.  

DFH was so excited for the Denver craft beer scene so naturally we immediately hit up Great Divide, a Denver brewery. It certainly did not disappoint.  

I decided to get a beer flight with three beers that I had never tried before. 

   After we finished exploring downtown we headed to my aunt and uncle's house where we met up with my parents, sister, her boyfriend, and my cousins. My aunt and uncle had an amazing dinner spread and we had the best time catching up. 

    It is rare that our family is all together so Friday morning we took a few family photos before going to the infamous Red Rocks. 

If you have never been to Red Rocks add it to your bucket list it is one of the most gorgeous sites I've seen. The red rocks against the blue Colorado sky is breathtaking. 

Naturally I took 1000 pictures at Red Rocks. 

Sister JLP posing by the rocks. 

Mom loving on my cousin's son Brody. 

An encounter with some locals. 

On top of the world. 

JLP and I 

I would love to one day attend a concert here. 

All the local band poster of bands that have played here. 

After our visit we traveled to Golden, CO for the wedding. 

Golden is the cutest western town with an unbelievable mountain backdrop.  

We had a great time at the rehearsal dinner.  ( I didn't take any pictures).  On Saturday before the wedding we hit up the Coors Brewing Company for a tour. 

We enjoyed the freshest Coors Lite tapped right from the Rockies. 

Coors is my Dad's favorite beer so he was especially excited for the tour and tasting. 

Before the wedding we took a few more family photos. 

DFH and I 
My cousin preformed the wedding for his brother and did a fantastic job. The ceremony was beautiful. 

Girl cousins after the wedding (minus one)

All the Cousins (minus two) with the bride and groom 

We had such a great time celebrating Bethany and Scott. It was an awesome wedding. 

I have always wanted a pair of authentic cowboy boots and I finally picked up a pair at a local shop in Golden, CO.  I can't wait to wear these bad boys with skinnies and an oversized sweater come fall.