Friday, April 18, 2014

I'm Loving It

This week I'm excited to share with you Krisi Miller's Etsy shop. She creates custom garlands, banners, gift tags, and more! She recently did a garland for me for Deborah's baby shower that we used to decorate an easel with pictures of the mommy and daddy to be...

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Cute huh?? Such a fun, added touch!
Here is a better close up of what Krisi can do:

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 She can make the garlands and any color and you can double and triple them for a fuller effect. I think these would look great looped through a chandelier, over a cake table, or in doorways for your next event. The sky is really the limit!

If you are interested, she can also make custom tags like this one...  photo krisimillertag_zpsa9767c52.jpg

 Definitely check out her shop to see what all she has to offer!!

Krisi is giving away a custom garland to one lucky Bailey Dailies reader! All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below, and there are several ways to earn entries! Good luck and happy party planning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Peruvian Adventure, day 1

"I can still breathe the same...can you?"
This was my first question to everyone in our group as we landed in Cusco, Peru. The altitude was MUCH more than we are used to and so people were really keyed up about it. We even had a prescription for Diamox, a medicine that I think people with glaucoma take to change the pressure in their body but that they also give for altitude sickness. If you are going to Peru they recommend you take it. I took one and had terrible heart burn all day long so I stopped it, and had no trouble, even on the hike. Other people in our group had weird tingles in their bodies that seemed to move around (including to John's "pinky toe ball", or the ball of his foot under his pinky toe). Anyway, this post isn't about medicine or altitude sickness, it's about our first day in Peru!
We met our guides at the airport and loaded into a van that took us to our hotel, the Ramada Costa del Sol.  photo 143EAD26-17EE-4D09-9B7D-78C4F0229578_zpsb69pg7tw.jpg

There were 2 ladies spinning yarn and this baby sheep helped them model hats!  photo 967E0CFF-3E11-4E5C-A86B-4FE5DAEE04A5_zpsg1hrj1qu.jpg
He was really sweet and loved to be petted!

After a nap and breakfast, we hit the town for a tour of the city and some Inca sites. First stop was Qorinkancha. It was super old and super cool.  photo SAM_7424_zps53e3b010.jpg

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Incan stones--see how they fit them together?

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Amazing view of the mountain and city.

Next we checked out the cathedral in the Plaza del Armas
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It was beautiful inside, but we weren't allowed to take pictures. There is some really amazing art, as well as crypts.

Next, it was on to some Inca sites. The first was Saqsaywaman, which we pronounced "Sexy Woman", which is pretty close to correct, actually.
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These ruins were enormous!!
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High atop the Saqsaywaman.

 Then we visited the Peruvian fountain of youth at Tambomachay.  photo D8E04C3C-DE00-459A-B368-D8ECB4B5FA29_zpslg7lzwrd.jpg

 And finally, we crawled through the Peruvian "fat man squeeze" at Q'enqo.  photo SAM_7467_zps8496279f.jpg

 After a FULL day of site seeing we went back to the hotel to have a meeting with our trail guides. We were informed that on Monday, they day we were supposed to be driven to the start of the trail, there was to be a transportation strike. That meant, no one would be available to get us to the trail that day so instead, we were going to go there on Sunday night and camp and extra day. Not music to my ears, but at that point, there was nothing to be done. We also found out that we were going to get a duffle bag to put our belongings in so we didn't have to carry everything on the trail. Now THAT was music to my ears!

 We rounded out the evening with dinner at El Truco, which included some very surprising dishes, and a weird coca leaf ceremony that may or may not have resulted in Jay and Ross getting Peruvian married...we aren't really sure what went down.
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 I am quite an adventurous eater, but they eat guinea pig in Peru, and that is where my spirit of adventure runs out. RIP, little guy!

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There are no words to describe this weird ceremony....

 Also, let me add that at this point in the trip, 2 people have come down with the stomach virus. I am NOT good when it comes to stomach sickness and I was panicking that I would come down with it on the trail. I mean, what do you do with a virus on the trail? Add this to a night spent in an airport, a busy day of touring, and the news of one extra night sleeping outside, and I was a total ball of nerves that night!!

Stay tuned for day 2!!
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Moving, and how to get to Peru

Happy Monday! It's raining, I'm exhausted, but it's still a good day. Our move went really well this weekend. I was really worried that I would be stressed but it was actually kind of fun. The Type A, hyper-organized part of me was afraid the chaos would drive me to the bottle but instead I dove head first into the organizing and unpacking and I have to admit, even though it exposes me as a total nerd, I really enjoyed it. I'm pretty sure that since I have survived the wilds of Peru, I can survive anything, even a move. If you were concerned, Stella and Brownie have both adjusted beautifully to the move and are having a fantastic time running up and down the long hallway, hiding in boxes, and scratching their backs on the carpet, and because I was so worried about them last week, I'm letting them do it. It's good to be a Bailey cat right now!
Speaking of Peru, I would LOVE to share with you details of our trip, now that we've had our heart to heart about it. Jay and Claire picked us up and we headed to the airport with our bags in tow....

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(One back and carry on suit case per Bailey, one back pack and checked suit case per Hedgspeth, and one suit case of Akiko's)

 I need to remember, for all eternity, the hilarious guy we met at the Parking Spot by the airport. We were clearly in a section marked "International Terminal Only", waiting on the van to come by. Of course, they don't go to international as often as domestic so the van took a while. We knew that, the guy didn't, and he was complaining the entire time, in the nicest tone. Then we board the van with him and this older couple who was going on a Viking Cruise (Claire and I often wondered how their trip compared to ours while on the trail) and he is talking about going to Florida and complaining about the van being late and how he was going to miss his flight. I chose that time to mention that the van didn't go to domestic, only international, and he, in the politest of ways, starts freaking out. He had somehow missed the gigantic signs that said they only went to international--I have no idea how. Even though he was a total mess, he was the nicest jerk ever! :)

Once in the terminal it was quite a breeze to get through security, so much so we felt uncomfortable. Apparently we were pre-checked and they got really mad at us for taking off our jackets, belts, etc. Oh well. We didn't have long before we boarded the 6+ hour flight to Lima. We chose to spend a little extra and fly economy comfort, and so now I'm spoiled and will never go back to coach for an extended flight. (We paid for the flight with our points so we only had to cough up real money for the economy comfort upgrade, which was about $200 total, round trip.)

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We watched movies the whole way (for me: Frozen, The Book Thief, and Best Man Holiday) but took a break to play a little in plane trivia. We rocked it.

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(Notice we are not only number 1, but I'm also number 5)

When we landed in Lima our instructions were to find Akiko and she would take us to the Delta lounge to sleep. We only had a few hours before we met the group to fly to Cusco so there wasn't much point in leaving the airport, and the only hotel was booked. Unfortunately, once we got out of international, we couldn't go back to where the lounge was, so we were stuck. Our options were to stay at a $250 a night hotel for 5 hours (which was my choice--money is no object when it comes to my sleep), check in and sleep in the airport (Forrest's choice) or to sleep on the breezeway outside of the airport because "it felt nice outside" (Jay's choice--um, no). We ended up going with Forrest's idea and sleeping in the airport like hobos. I literally had my eye mask on and ear plugs in while sleeping in a booth in a restaurant. Not my cup of tea, but this was the start of the trip of "rolling with it".

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(We took up 2 booths in that restaurant and everyone below could see us sleeping. Fun times....

Forrest did find this little spa that we took advantage of, so that was nice.

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Foot massage at 3:30 am? Don't mind if I do!

Saturday morning we met the group, which included several friends and a new couple, Sunny and John. They had all been at Akiko's beach house since Wednesday and had gotten to know each other so we had catching up to do. I bonded with Sunny on the flight over gel nail polish and not wanting to look ratty in the wilderness--we are now friends for life, thank you.

Ok, cliff hanger. I will tell all about Peru, day 1, asap!! Stay tuned! Magnificent photos to come!
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Friday, April 11, 2014

I'm Loving It

Hi there friends! I know I have been MIA lately. It seems that after Peru, things have yet to slow down enough for me to catch my breath and blog. I have a long list of posts to do, I just need the time to actually write them! However, we do have some news that I'm loving this week--we are moving tomorrow! Well, sort of I guess. We are moving the bare necessities tomorrow so we will be living at the new house tomorrow night. However, we won't be completely moved out of the old house because we haven't sold it yet and I want it to look full and fluffed! I've been pretty lazy about packing because of that because I just don't see the point of knocking myself out because I know whatever I don't get done by tomorrow, I can just run up and do it later next week! I'm not even emotional at all about moving because it doesn't seem exactly real since we really aren't moving all the way. I know I'll be back in the house many many times so I haven't had to get all sentimental....yet. It is our first house, so I know I'll be sad, plus I am really sad to leave the Hayes. I don't know what I'll do without them right down the street! Ok, maybe I am emotional about it. Let's have a laugh, shall we? Ok. So we showed the old house Tuesday and since I had to load up the cats I decided they were just going to go and start living at the new house It is such a hassle to pack them up and I thought they might like to get the feel for their new house by themselves. When we moved them into our old house, they freaked out and hid for days and I thought I might alleviate that problem by closing them up with all of their favorite things in the laundry room, where their food and liter will be when we move. Well, I was wrong. They were terrified. They refused to get out of the carrier and when I forced them, they hid in the liter box. I have checked on them literally 4 times a day since Tuesday and I'm happy to report they are getting better each time. I thought that they might be feeling cooped up and that they might like to explore so while I was over there yesterday, I let them explore. I found Stella like this.....

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When we are there full time, we are going to keep the cats in the back of the house, so they won't be able to get near the fire place, but he seemed very curious about it so I let him be adventurous.

Later that night Forrest and I were hard at work in the house with the cats roaming the halls. Forrest left to go to Lowes and after a while, I realized I hadn't seen Stella in some time. I searched everywhere and couldn't find him. There really aren't that many hiding spots, as there is no furniture in the house, so I was panicked. When Forrest got back, I had him climb in the attic access and dig through the insulation to look for him, but nothing. I was running around outside like a crazy person when Forrest said we needed to be calm and think. And that's when he remembered the above picture. I ran to the fire place, looked up, and heard the most pitiful meow that has ever been uttered. However, the meow was coming from below, not above. Poor scared kitty had hidden underneath the gas logs and refused to budge!
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Forrest had to take them out one by one until we could reach Stella. He was covered in soot and trembling with fear. Looking back it was pretty funny but I was so worried about the little guy. I'm hoping that he will get more comfortable when we arrive with the dogs tomorrow. Wish us luck!!
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Peruvian Adventure

I honestly have been stalling when it came to writing this post because I just didn't know where to begin. Peru was magical, scary, amazing, stressful, breathtaking, and the hardest thing I have ever had to do, all rolled into one. I guess, though, the best place to start when telling a story is the beginning, so I'll do just that. You really need to know the back story as to how I came to be sleeping in the Peruvian wilderness, so I think we'll start this story back "in the day".
Ok so we make friends with the Urbinas, a new family at our church and whose children go to St. James School, where I went and also where my mom taught. They were cute and fun and Peruvian. My mom got to be really close with Akiko, the mother. Fast forward several years. The Urbina's oldest son Luis goes to high school and befriends Claire, my friend from they day of her birth, and of course her parents who are my parents' close friends. Ok so now we are all friends. Akiko always tells us that she is going to take us to Peru. Well, it took until 2014 but we finally got around to it. Maybe sometime last summer I hear we are going to Peru--the boys are doing the trek to Machu Picchu and the girls are going to shop in the town and then ride the train to meet them. Awesome...I'm in. Then in about November maybe we have a meeting where they drop the bomb on me---we ALL have to hike. Claire and I instantly recoiled but they told us we had to or else the whole group couldn't go together. Great...guilt. Lucy, who is now my new bff but at the time we had never met, said we would love it and regret it if we didn't do it. Fine fine fine, if we have to, we have to. Thus began the long winter of purchasing hiking gear, athletic clothes, appropriately colored shoes and socks, etc. One day Forrest asked why I was buying so much and I replied that the shopping was the only way I was getting excited about camping. That was the truth. I'm a girly girl--slightly high maintenance, a creature of comfort. I mean I can roll with the best of them but this was WAY out of my comfort zone. But I also have a "when in Rome" kind of mentality so if in Peru you hike, then I'm going to hike; and darn it, I'm going to look good in the process. I feel like if I can look the part, I can trick myself into being a hiker. (I can't lie, this actually worked). Before I know it, I've flown to Peru (and watched 3 movies in the process--thanks Delta--now I can claim I've seen Frozen), toured the city of Cuzco, packed a duffle bag with essentials and a back pack with even more essentials, and taken what can only be described as a death ride to the Lares hot springs, where I am to camp for the night and then wake up the next day to hike and camp for 3 days. That's no bathrooms, not showers, no cell service, no NOTHING for 3 days. What in the world have I gotten myself into???
Our guide, Super Mario, was HAMMERING it in us that we had to have a good attitude. He said since it was the end of the rainy season we had to be positive or else it might rain---the earth gods respond to positivity, or something. He kept saying that we couldn't have "spoiled" people on the trip and I swear he looked right at me when he said it. (YES perhaps I was wearing bangles on the trail but I mean there was no way I was going to look like a hobo out there). Anyway, our fear of rain kept our entire group positive the whole time, despite the fact we were walking through llama poop, sleeping on a hard mattress in the cold (near the pooping llamas) drinking boiled water out of streams (again, with llamas--oh and I will add here that Forrest lied to me and said they brought water for us so I didn't know about the llama water--I have to hand it to him, it was a lie of necessity), climbing to 15,180 feet, and literally walking through waterfalls and over cliffs. Without such a positive group, and without Forrest constantly encouraging me and telling me how awesome I was doing, I don't know if I could have handled the trip.
I think Jay said it best--literally it feels like you are stripped down and thrown into the wild. We had no modern conveniences--no phone, no tv, no hospitals, no doctors. If we got hurt we were on our own. Even though it didn't feel like it at the time, we could have gotten really hurt or sick out there. It could have gotten "real". That feeling of being totally dependent on each other, on our guides, on the earth, for 3 days is kind of intoxicating. It was just us out there, surviving (with food and water and cooks--it wasn't like we were hunting for food or anything) with each other. We knew that we had to continue taking step after step, right foot, left foot, because that was the only way out. When one person got tired or winded, we cheered that person on--encouraged them, carried their pack to lighten their load. We made friends for life out there, not just because they have seen us looking terrifically rough in the morning, but because we survived with them, lived with them, endured with them, through the trail.
It's hard to describe exactly what I feel about the trail. I am immensely grateful that I was talked into doing it, for it was an experience that I think I needed and one I will never forget. Will I ever do that again? No--not in a million years. Why, I can't exactly say. The physical aspect was intense, but nothing I couldn't handle. The 2nd day was really the only tough day and the others were very pleasant. I was no fan of sleeping outside in the cold in my tent on a hard rubber mattress, and I probably won't do that again either. However, the trail was quite the liberating and empowering experience and I will always be glad that I did it. I'm proud of myself for not only conquering the Andes, but conquering high maintenance self in the process. I hope that if you are considering doing a trek in Peru that you will go for it! You will be SO glad that you did! It may take you until after a good night's sleep and a shower, but you will be glad, I promise!
I will do daily recaps with pics throughout the next month as well as packing tips in case you are considering doing the trail in the future! The photos are beautiful, so stay tuned!!

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Forrest and I with some alpacas on day 1 of the hike.
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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fairy tales, dreams and magical things

That's what a great evening is made of! A few weeks ago Farrah and I were once again table decorators for the Girlfriend Gala, an event that benefits Success by Six and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Every year, hundreds of women attend the event and their attendance helps put books in the homes of thousands of children in our area. This year's theme was Fairy tales, dreams, and magical things, so Farrah and I chose The Night Circus as our table theme. If you haven't read that book, it's about time you did. A magical circus, wizards, tents, romance, the book has it all. We decided to make our table into the "bottle tent" from the book. It goes without saying that the tent held bottles--but what was special about the tent was that they were bottles of memories. I thought that really resonated with the overarching theme of the night--girlfriends. We invite our very closest friends to sit at our table; friends with whom we've made many memories. Therefore, our party favor to our girlfriends seated in our bottle tent were mercury glass bottles filled with a "memory" we shared together. Here is how the night looked....
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 This was our table! The circus in the book was black and white so we went with that theme. We covered a beach umbrella with gossamer using rubber bands and staples! The umbrella pole is halved and we put it in an outdoor umbrella stand. Easy! (Haha I say easy but I cried A LOT). We hung silver beads and silver and purple Christmas ornaments from the inside of the umbrella.

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We decorated the inside of the tent with glittered bottles--just roll a clean wine bottle minus the label in modge podge and glitter!
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Each place setting had a mercury glass bottle with each guest's name on it. Then there was an explanation about the bottle tent from the book. Then, I attached a special memory I shared with each guest
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My group of girlfriends!

I may cry and get all worked up when it comes to doing my table, but in the end, it's always worth it. Nothing is more fun than a night out with girlfriends, and when your night out equals books for children, it makes it even better! Each year, we raise tens of thousands of dollars, and this year were are able to purchase $23,000 books! That's something to be proud of!!  I'm already looking forward to next year's "Night Under the Big Top"! I've done a tent, so stay tuned to see what kind of tricks I have up my sleeve!

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Best Friend's Baby Shower

Before I get into the adventure that was Peru, I need to tell you all about my friend Deborah's baby shower, which I attended a couple of weekends ago. Even though Deborah lives in Knoxville, which is is only 3 hours away, I usually only see her about 3 times a year. When she came to tell me she was pregnant, I was a little bit shocked--it felt like I was having a baby! Deborah and I were pledge sisters in college and instantly hit it off. During our serious night, we do this thing called "I am your sister" and each senior completes the phrase, showing that sisterhood is for life. For example, one of the ones that is a yearly staple is "I am your sister who will plan your baby shower". That one always made me tear up, but baby showers seemed so far away at that time. Well, now Deborah and I have come full circle from boyfriend, homework, parties, weddings, to babies, and I was beyond honored to be a hostess of her shower. Randi and I drove up on Saturday to spend a fun day with Deborah, just laughing and giggling in the nursery like we were 18 all over again. We went out to eat in downtown Knoxville and stayed up for hours chatting away, 3 deep in a king sized bed, just like we had years ago on spring break, except this time, there were technically 4 girls in the bed.

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Her shower was hosted by some of her sweet friend in Knoxville whom I was thrilled to meet, and Randi and I brought some goodies from Alabama to put our own special touches on it. It really was a great day!

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Loving sisters are we! Randi, Deborah and I

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Sweet hostesses and new friends!

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Deb, Kaylee, and their swag!

There are friends you have out of convenience and there are friends you have because you truly love and connect with them, and you kindle that relationship, no matter the distance between you. Deborah definitely falls into the latter category. I don't know what I'd do with out my Debbie in my life--it would be a lot less vibrant, I know that much. Deborah is always there to vent to, giggle with, and to be whatever kind of friend I need her to be in the moment. I have been privileged to share her life for the past 12 years and I can't wait to see what motherhood has in store for her. It may be a challenge, but no one is less afraid of challenges than Deborah. In that, I myself am encouraged and motivated in my own life. Deborah doesn't back down from a challenge--she meets it head on with no fear, which is one of the things I love most about her! I love you Deb and I can't wait to meet your sweet baby Kaylee!
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