Monday, January 31, 2011

The Baileys this Weekend

What a weekend we had! We started out on Friday with a big surprise---my sister's boyfriend Matt got her a puppy for her 21st birthday (which isn't until Feb 28)! "Maggie May" is a 13 week old miniature beagle and she is just as precious as she can be, or at least her pictures are! I only have some pics that MMM sent me from her phone so when we meet her in person this weekend I promise to take some with my camera so you can see the little darling!! Also on Friday, Forrest and I became members of the 9'o clock Dance Club. Another young couple from Gadsden, Sarah Kathryn and Mark Haller, also became members and we had a great time hanging out with them. This club is different from the others that we are in, in that it includes dinner. I thought it was SO much fun! Cocktails start at 7, and then everyone sits down to a yummy steak dinner at 8. It was nice to actually get to sit down and talk with people during dinner. It probably helped that we had a really fun table of people. We were seated with the Hallers, the Boyds, the Martins, and our neighbor Melissa, whose hubby was away hunting for one last weekend. We were laughing and cutting up all through dinner and just had a blast! At 9, us and the Hallers participated in the "lead out" of new members, which was fun and super low key. After that, it was time for dancing. The Gadsden State Show Band performed so it was more jazzy than "dancy" but that was nice because we were able to sit and talk with people while the band played. After the party we went to the Martin's house for a drink and to unwind before heading home and calling it a night. We were glad to get to know some nice new friends!!


With Mom and Dad
On Saturday morning Forrest woke up early and headed to Birmingham for some lectures put on by UAB for their alumni weekend. He and his friend Richard had a great time and they even got to meet Dr. Dorfman, a celebrity dentist who was on "The Dr's" and "Extreme Makeover". Forrest really enjoyed his lecture! Forrest told me that last week Dr. Dorfman saw Eva Longoria, Usher,  and Anthony Hopkins at his office. How cool!!

Forrest, Dr. Dorfman, and Richard
While Forrest was learning more about dentistry, I was also in Birmingham NOT learning with my mom. We met my friend Randi for lunch at O'Carr's, my most favorite lunch place in Birmingham. Can you tell why??

Fruit and Cheese Plate with a side of Chicken Salad Sandwich
Mom and I always get the fruit and cheese plate and a sandwich to split. Delicious!! After lunch we all headed over to Vestavia to see "The King's Speech". Mom and I developed a strong "thing" for Colin Firth years ago and there was no way we were going to let his Oscar worthy performance pass us by! It was a great movie and really made me interested in the Royal Family's business during WWII. When I think about leaders during WWII I think of Churchill. The King never really crossed my mind (probably because AL public school's don't bother to teach anything about him.) It all seemed very scandalous and soap opera like so I am definitely going to have to check into the history behind the movie!! When it was over I was very sad to say good bye to Randi! I get to see her lots during the fall, since she lives in Tuscaloosa and we are always down there for games, but it is harder during the spring. We have started meeting for lunch once a month to make sure we are caught up on each other's lives! Love you Randi!!!
After the movie Mom and I went to my grandmother's house and Forrest and Davis (who had ridden to Bham with Forrest to mountain bike while Forrest was at the conference) were there too. While we picked up my grandmother and headed to Mass, Forrest and Davis got ready to meet Jonathan and Denise at J. Clydes for dinner. When we were at Supper Club a week or so ago, J and D mentioned that they wanted to go see Ira Glass in Birmingham at UAB. As luck would have it, Forrest and Davis already had tickets for the show, and even better than that, Forrest gets discounts tickets since he is a UAB student. The date was set after that! They all had a great time at the show and said Ira Glass was really humorous. Now we are itching to see David Sedaris later this spring! While they were at the show, I went back to Gadsden with my mom and then went to meet Farrah for dinner at El Tapatio. Other than the fact that we really wanted a girls' night, we needed to get together to discuss our table for the Girlfriend Gala later this spring. We had so much fun brainstorming! I can't wait to see our ideas come to life! We stayed at the restaurant for 2 1/2 hours, just laughing and having a ball!
On Sunday, I didn't get out of bed until 1pm!! This was not because I wasn't awake, it was just because I had nothing better to do! I loved every minute of it! Forrest got up and worked out and even took Sonny on a run before I woke up, but once I was awake I wanted him to come hang with me! We ate lunch in bed and just lounged around until we couldn't lounge any more! When we decided we were being too lazy, I dropped Forrest off at a bike race that was going on near the park and I went to the office to work on a photo book that I got free from Shutterfly. We got back home and decided it was too pretty a day to stay indoors, so we took the dogs on a walk, something we haven't done in so long (well, I guess except our walk in the snow). The weather was great and it felt so nice to do something active outside for a change. Now we are all spoiled and have already started to discuss trips to the lake! Come on warm weather, head our way!!
Later that night, we went to my mom and dad's for dinner to celebrate my cousin Sara's 16th birthday! We always call her "Super Bowl" Sara because she was born right in the middle of the ballgame! It was great to spend time with the "other" McCords, especially since we got to have cake and ice cream! :) She also told us that because she took and passed driver's ed, she doesn't even have to take the driving test! Now this is a new rule!! I remember driving out to take the test on the little course---SCARY! Now they have taken the fun out of it!! :) Apparently all you have to worry about on the day you get your license is what you are going to wear for the picture. I am not sure what I think about this new rule at all!!!
Anyway, hope you all have a great week!

Dijon Porkchops

Yesterday I entered uncharted waters--the waters of cooking pork. I have never cooked porkchops myself so when I found a super easy recipe I was excited to give it a shot. The best part was that it required ingredients that I keep regularly in the kitchen (with the exception of the chops and the lemon), so it is one of those things you could just "whip up". I got this recipe out of a magazine and of course I just ripped the page out, so now I have no idea to whom I should give credit to for this delicious recipe. Suffice it to say that I did not come up with it on my own! Hope you enjoy!

4 porkchops
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp lemon zest (I had nothing with which to "zest" the lemon, so I skipped this part)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp rosemarry
1 lemon

Place porkchops in a greased roasting pan and drizzle with the lemon juice. In a separate bowl, mix mustard, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and rosemary. Mix thoroughly and brush over porkchops. (I deviated from the recipe here. It said to brush on both sides but I only did one side so I wouldn't lose any flavor on the pan!) Broil until pork turns white yet still is tender. (At least 10 minutes, depending on thickness of chop). Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sarah's Wedding!

This weekend Forrest and I headed off to Montgomery for the wedding of my friend Sarah, but not before we had "supper club" on Friday.  This month we were having a dinner "outing" instead of cooking at someones house. Forrest and I chose Bennett's Steakhouse in Cave Springs, GA. Unfortunately, we were unable to borrow my dad's Suburban so we all couldn't ride together. I think it was really fun, anyway, because we had a "girl car" and a "boy car". I am pretty sure that the conversations were very different in each car! I really had fun catching up with Farrah and Denise on our girls' only drive! Cave Springs is a tiny town right over the GA line and the downtown is super cute! We got there about 9pm their time so it was pretty empty. Our dinner was good and the white chocolate caramel pecan cake was to DIE for!

1/2 way eaten, but still worthy of a picture!
Saturday was Sarah's big day so we got ready early and headed down south. Not only was I excited to share in Sarah's special day, but I was also thrilled to get to see some of my favorite girls--Jennifer and Shelley! I knew Jennifer and Shelley a little bit in college but we became friends in law school. Jennifer was in my "section" and so we had every class together for an entire year. Shelley transferred to Alabama our 2L year and she, Sarah, and I survived Immigration Law together. Sarah also was in the section with Jennifer and I and we all became fast friends. I actually knew Sarah from back when we were Juniors in high school and we attended Girls State together. Imagine my surprise when she walked into law school orientation, 5 years later! I talk to the girls fairly regularly but I don't get to see them near as often as I would like, so I was bound and determined to get myself to Montgomery!
Sarah's wedding was at Trinity Presbyterian church. The church itself was beautiful and Sarah was the MOST gorgeous bride! I really liked the service, especially that it started with the minister inviting us all to join together in a hymn after Sarah walked down the aisle. I had never been to a wedding where that was done and I thought it was very sweet! Her reception was in the hall of the church, and don't you be fooled when I say "hall". This "hall" was amazing! It had like 30 ft ceilings, beautiful carpet, moulding everywhere. I have never seen a room quite like it! Sarah and Brent looked so happy and I wish them both the very best!



Cutting the cake

Close up of the cake. The top layer was so beautiful!

HUGE arrangement. You can see a little of the beautiful walls in the background

Me, Brent, Sarah, Shelley, and Jennifer


After the wedding, Forrest and I headed home, but we stopped at the Bass Pro Shop first. I had never been and WOW--what a store. Now I am not very "outdoorsy" but Forrest really is. He gets me out of my shell and encourages me to try new things all the time, so I am letting myself become "outdoorsy" one step at the time. The store had a fish pond, a huge aquarium, and the best part to me: BOATS! We both had a great time inspecting all the boats and picking out the best ones!
Sunday was a nice day as well. We had lunch at the Bailey's, and Davis made us a new recipe: Salmon with Rotini. It was a typical Sunday afternoon filled with cleaning and errands (and maybe some TV thrown in there too) before dinner at my parents'. Dad made a chateau briand, which is like a tenderloin. It was some of the best meat I have ever eaten!! We are so lucky to have such adventurous cooks in our family, willing to cook for us! Have a great week!!!
(just a few pet pics for your enjoyment)
Ruff and Stella waiting for some treats!

My sweet little Sonny, who had an accident this weekend, but he is just fine!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Olive Chicken

Davis gave me a new cookbook for Christmas and I found a yummy recipe for grilled chicken with olive paste. Forrest and I are olive lovers. I will find any way to add olives to just about anything I can, so this chicken sounded perfect for us. I left the house without checking the recipe but I thought I had it pretty well memorized. Hmmm, not so much. It called for skin on chicken and I of course sprung for the skinless (which I almost NEVER do, go figure). Also, Forrest was going to be getting home at about 6 and since he was going to grill it, it would be really late when we started to eat. I decided to improvise and made up my own thing. This is what I ended up with:


It looks a little funky but it tastes delicious!!

Ingredients (I have no idea how much since I just guessed!)
4 chicken breasts
olive oil
lemon juice
rosemary
olive tapanade
crumbled feta cheese
tooth picks
pepper

Cut a little pocket in each chicken breast (or if you buy skin-on chicken, just lift up the skin to make a pocket). Put a generous scoop of olive tapande in each pocket, as well as a scoop of feta. Secure pocket with tooth picks. Place chicken in roasting pan and drizzle generously with olive oil. Next, sprink each breast with pepper, rosemary, and lemon juice. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Delicious!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ski Weekend Recipes

I just wanted to share a few recipes from our ski weekend. Hope you enjoy!

Muddy Buddies (I ruined the first batch. How is that even possible?)

9 cups corn chex (buy the name brand---they are the best)
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Melt chocolate, butter, and peanut butter together. Stir. Add vanilla and stir. Pour this mixture over chex until they are all coated. I find using a ziploc bags works best. Then add the powdered sugar to coat the chex. (I added the sugar when I added the chocolate---this is INCORRECT!!! It will not work!)

Breakfast Casserole
1 package frozen hashbrowns, cooked according to directions
1 lb sausage, browned and drained (I like to use the Italian seasoned sausage)
6 large eggs
2 cups milk
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 small can pieces and stems mushrooms
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped

Mix hashbrowns, sausage, cheese, and veggies together in a 13x9 pyrex dish. Mix milk and eggs together and then pour into the pyrex dish. Bake at 350 for at least 30 min and it is bubbly in the center. (You can mix everything together at night and then in the morning pour in the eggs and milk to speed up the process)



Amy's Roast
I LOVE roast in the crock pot! My friend Amy shared this recipe on her blog and I was anxious to make it while we were in North Carolina. (I did modify it a little.) I must say it was a huge hit!!

1 roast
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
1 package McCormick Au Jus gravy mix
1 jar pepperocini peppers (who knew these came in a jar? Gadsden does not sell them fresh)
1/2 onion, sliced
1 bag baby carrots
4-6 potatoes, cut into chunks
garlic powder
1 cup water

Put roast in crock pot (don't forget your slow cooker liner!). Pour dressing mix and gravy mix on top of roast. Then pour in the jar of peppers, liquid and all (this gives it a great kick). Add in veggies and generously sprinkle them with garlic powder. Pour in 1 cup water. Cook on high for 8 hours and enjoy!!

Ski Bunnies

This weekend Forrest and I had the good fortune of being invited by our friend Gus to stay at his ski cabin for the MLK weekend. When we first started planning this trip I was mucho excited. I fun filled weekend in a rustic cabin, with a hot tub, and lots and lots of snow??? Can't get much better than that, right? Well, then "Winter Storm 2011" hit and I thought I might have to cry if I saw one more flake of snow! I was still excited, but there is only so much snow this Alabama girl can take! Not only were we excited to get to have a mini vacation, but we were also going to spend time with some great friends whom we hardly EVER get to see! Accompanying us on the trip were obviously Gus, our host, and his girlfriend Amy who I met at our wedding for all of 5 seconds. Gus and Forrest were fraternity brothers at Alabama. Also joining our group was Frankie, another fraternity brother, and his fiance Becka. Becka and Frankie met while in the Peace Corp in Togo, Africa. We were lucky enough to get to see them right after they got back to the states, in July 2009, but we have not seen them since then, because they moved to DC! Forrest and I were both ready for a little R and R as well as the 3rd R, REUNIONS!!
Forrest's patient canceled on Friday afternoon so I left work early, rushed to get everything ready, and by the time he got home, we were all set to go. Since there was still snow on the ground, this made me very happy. I was a little nervous to be driving somewhere at night with icy roads, so being able to get out of town during the daylight was a pro to me. I was able to find my new book club book on CD at the library so Forrest and I listened to that for a while on the road. I am totally getting into these books on CD now, after being read to by Farrah all the way home from Orlando a few weeks ago. We also had a lot of fun with the iPod, picking out songs that reminded us of funny times in our lives. ALSO, we brought Ruffles with us! Gus insisted that she come so we could not resist. She was a very good girl in the car and basically slept on my lap the whole way there. The total drive up there took about 7 hours, which Forrest said is a little longer than usual, but we did get stuck in traffic a few times. We got there about the same time as Amy, Gus's girlfriend, so Gus was down at the bottom of the drive way with the 4 wheel drive car, ready to pick us and all of our stuff up to make the trek to the cabin. Frankie and Becka had beat us there and we had such a joyful reunion! Ruffles was excited that Amy had brought her two dachshunds, Millie and Annie, with her, and Becka, who has a strong case of doggie fever, was excited to get to love on all of them! After getting settled in, we all went to bed so we were ready for the next day.
On Saturday, after a bit of a late start, everyone but Amy loaded up to go skiing at Sugar mountain. (Amy is working on getting her teaching national board certification, so she is super busy!)

Frankie and Becka getting ready to ski. Frankie is a little scared!

Ready to go!
I was nervous to ski again, since I didn't have the best time doing it a few years ago in Colorado. Frankie had never skied before, and Forrest, Becka, and Gus were all pros. We decided that Gus would give Frankie and I lessons while Forrest and Becka hit the slopes on their own. I was amazed at how easily skiing came back to me. I wasn't great at it by any means, but at least I remembered how to steer and stop! Frankie was fearless and after a few minutes on the bunny hill he was ready for the lift. By this time, Becka and Forrest had skied several runs and decided to meet up with us. We all rode the lift to the top of the mountain to take an "intermediate" run down. Frankie and I were on the lift together and the guys in front of us both fell getting off. They were in our way and we didn't know what to do, so we just stayed on. I changed my mind really fast and jumped off from about a foot off the ground, but Frankie just stayed until he hit the kill switch and stopped the whole lift. He had to jump off from about 6 feet off the ground! What a way to start!!

This sign was very appropriate. I wish Frankie had seen it BEFORE we got on the lift!
What a view!

Look at me go!!! Great form!

On top of the mountain!

Our whole ski group
We had a lot of fun skiing down the mountain together. I thought I did a pretty good job keeping up with the others and I only fell once when Forrest and I ended up getting our skies tangled up while we were standing around waiting on the rest of the group. Frankie was the funniest beginner skier ever. He didn't really know how to stop or how to control his speed, so he just barrelled down the mountain and would fall over anytime he needed to stop. It made me pretty nervous but it was effective!

Safe and sound, back in the lodge
After a great day of skiing, we headed back to the cabin. Amy had made some buffalo chicken dip for the weary skiers which we all pretty much inhaled before Becka made us some delightful turkey chili. I figure we probably burned off all of the calories skiing, right??
On Sunday morning we had breakfast casserole and then Forrest and I went to Mass at St. Elizabeth's. It was a cute little church that looked like a lodge. On either side of the altar were walls of windows that looked right up at the mountains. It was breathtaking! Boone is a college town and their mass reminded me of the masses in Tuscaloosa. They had a folk group, they played the same service music, and the priest, who was actually brand new, was very down to earth. When we got back from Mass, Amy had made us cheesy pigs in a blanket for lunch. Yummy!!! Then, she and I decided to hit the outlets and OMG I am so glad we did. Gap had all of their clearance priced items for an extra 40% off! I ended up getting 3 sweaters for me and a pair of dress pants ($4.19), and a polo ($3.59) and 2 pairs of pj pants for Forrest, all for $37! Hot dog!!! Next we went to JCREW, where I scored a pair of patterned tights for $3. My greatest purchase of the day came at Coach, where I got a gorgeous brown and purple purse for $77! It is the perfect size and most of all, the perfect color! Mrs. Bailey gave me some money for my birthday and I was happy to turn that over to the fine people at Coach in exchange for the perfect purse!! When we got home Amy and I had to show off our bargains to the rest of the group. Becka and Frankie were so impressed, they decided to check them out for themselves! In the meantime, Forrest and Gus had decided to go night skiing, and they talked me into going too. This time, we went to Ski Beech. We suited up and took the lift to the top of the mountain, where Gus and Forrest took a black slope down and I took a blue. May I just say this blue was basically black. Since it was night, everything had refrozen so I was basically sliding down ice. I HATED it. It was also super steep and I basically fell all the way down until it met up to the green run to the bottom. Forrest decided we should do it again and this time he would go with me so I could follow him. I liked that idea so I agreed, however, it was not a good decision. The run was just way to hard for me and I had a hard time getting down again. When I got to the green run Forrest was waiting on me and I had a total melt down. I was literally wailing out on the slopes (yes, muy embarrassing)! I had gotten really scared and just wanted to stop. Forrest was super encouraging and we got down the easy run together and I took a little ski break. Afterwards we decided to avoid that nasty slope and to ski some others. I got my stride back and we had a great time for the rest of the night. Forrest even tried a little ski jump and he totally landed it! I was so proud!! After a fun night, the 3 of us left the "Beech" totally frozen but all in all we had a great time!
Back at the house, everyone was munching on the roast I had left in the crock pot, which I am happy to say they loved, and watching the Golden Globes (which I am sad I missed!). Then we all got in the hot tub and told funny Lambda Chi stories into the night. I was the only girl who knew the guys in college so I had lots of tales to tell! After we reluctantly got out of the hot tub we roasted marshmallows in front of the fire. What a fun night! It was SO much fun laughing, telling jokes and stories, and just being with one another! Thank you Gus for a GREAT weekend! I hope we can do it again soon!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Destination Dog

Our friend Lauren Taylor Hinsman is the proud owner and operator of Destination Dog, a health food store for dogs and cats in Camden, Maine. Lauren is from Gadsden and Forrest and I had the privilege to get to know her when she moved back here for what seemed like a millisecond before going back to Maine to open her store. Ruffles and Sonny won a a drawing and their prize was a box of Maine-made doggie treats! They were really excited to get mail and even more excited that the mail was edible!
They smell really yummy--not like dog food at all! The entire box AND the plastic wrapping are recyclable and the treats are made from all natural ingredients.

Patiently waiting

It's treat time!
(Notice Stella is hunting for treats in the background. Forrest hides them for him on the moulding on the cabinets!)
Thanks Lauren for caring so much for our pets! Check her out on facebook here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More Snow!!

You would think that we lived somewhere up north by the amount of snow we have been getting lately (ok perhaps that is an exaggeration). We started hearing talk of snow early last week and I again refused to believe it. A white Christmas and birthday snow? Never gonna happen! Well, on Friday my mom told me that I better believe it and that I should probably get to the store for supplies. It took me an hour and a half and 3 stores to get everything I needed! Stores were packed, lines were long, and the bread shelves were practically empty! I was in a huge hurry because I had to get to Birmingham to meet Forrest and the Pucketts for dinner at BRIO, my all time fave!! It was great to see them and to catch up. In just a few months they will have little Hudson as part of their family so we are trying to get in as much "grown up time" as possible. I can't wait to meet that little guy, though!! I got my traditional lasagna, as usual.

Can you blame me?? It is so much that I always get leftovers for lunch too. YUM!
On Saturday we tried to get some things done around the house but it was so nice to have nothing to do we ended up relaxing for most of the day. Then on Sunday we went to lunch at the Baileys and had some yummy chili. On the way home we stopped at Academy to see if they had any ski pants that would fit me, since we will be going skiing soon with friends. Because of the snow, the store was wiped out! Luckily they did have some ski pants that fit, only they were bright pink. Now usually I would be into this but since all of my coats are purple, I am not going to match at all! They were the right price though so we got them, figuring we'd take them back if we found more before we leave. That night we went to my parents' for ribs and while we were there it started sleeting. We decided we better high tail it home and right when we got there, the bottom fell out and it started snowing like crazy!!

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Within an hour or so we had almost 4 inches of snow.

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I suited up in my new pink pants and Forrest, Sonny, and I went out to play! The snow was soft and powdery and we were rolling in it and throwing it like little kids. Thank you, new pink pants!

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Sonny of course was having a blast. He loves snow!!

Forrest and I attempted to sled on a garbage can lid, but it didn't work as well as we hoped. Finally we were all tired out and went in to go to sleep. I was so afraid we would lose power in the night, but we didn't, thank goodness! Luckily, Forrest's school was canceled and so was work for me! When we got up we went back outside to play. A layer of ice had fallen over the snow so it was a little hard and crunchy, but still fun! We took a walk to the top of the mountain so we could see the city blanketed in snow.

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After lunch and a good rest, we went back out for another LONG walk before calling it a day.

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We were excited to meet our new neighbor, Sullivan. He is a golden retriever puppy and I can't wait until he grows up and can become Sonny's best friend and partner in crime!!

He was trying to jump out of Jenna's arms!
He was so cute and it made me sad to think that we never saw Sonny looking like a little fur ball!! After our full day we basically laid around watching tv until time for bed. We had a snow day today too, but tomorrow it will be back to reality!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

27

Yesterday was my birthday! I LOVE birthdays. I think it is cool that we give everyone a special day once a year and celebrate the day they were born. Doesn't it make you feel special??? Anyway, I have been talking about my birthday non-stop since last week when we were on the way to Orlando. It got to be the joke of the weekend. "You know, if someone had a birthday, I bet we could break line." "I wish I knew someone who was having a birthday soon, then we could get free cake." "Oh, it's going to be your birthday? I didn't know." Justin and Forrest teased me unmercifully because I always found a way to work my upcoming day into conversation. Anyway, yesterday was the big day. I was actually totally busy at work--a custody hearing in the morning and municipal court all afternoon. I did get to wear my new pink coat that I got at the outlets and I got lots of compliments! My dad also took the family (meaning ALL of the McCords-minus my brother) out to Kobe, the new Japanese restaurant in the mall. Mom made me a cake and everyone brought me presents (hooray) and we really had a great time! The restaurant gave me a decorative pineapple and sang to me. It was great fun.

Happy Birthday to me!!
Anyway, the point of this post is that turning 27 made me think about what all I have accomplished in my life. I mean like really mundane things, like learning to walk and talk, and how to ride a bike. Mastering long division and sentence diagramming. (why you need to know how to do that, I'll never know). Learning to drive and going to prom. Graduating as valedictorian. Joining a sorority. Graduating with a double major and getting into law school. Graduating law school and passing the bar. (that is a lot of graduating). Living in Italy for a summer. Getting engaged. Buying a house. Getting married. Adopting pets. Learning to cook. Starting a career. Taking great trips. All of these things make up the person that I have become now. Even though 27 isn't really "old", when I think about all of the things that I have done in my life, it seems pretty amazing, even if it isn't that amazing of a list. I wonder what will happen in 27 more years?? All I know is that right now, at age 27, I am very happy and blessed. I have a great family, husband, 4 crazy pets, and the best friends a girl could ask for. I am very grateful for all of the opportunities the Lord has granted me and will take full advantage of every new one he throws my way!
See? Happy Bbirthday indeed!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Blog Book Club

I have been slacking on listing the book club books for you to follow along with!
For January we are reading The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton. This book is AMAZING!!

For Feburary, we are reading The Noticer, by Andy Andrews.

For March, we are reading South of Broad, by Pat Conroy.

Happy reading!!!

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year to all!!! Forrest and I have not really done anything special for New Years in a while. Last year I went to my parents' house and he stayed home and studied for the boards. OH, what a difference a year makes! This year we found out that Bama would be playing in the Capital One Bowl on New Years Day in Orlando, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to spice up our New Years weekend! Our faithful football traveling companions, Justin and Farrah (who I am going to start referring to as "the Hayes", since they get married this year and it is easier to say) were game so we ordered our tix and made our plans! I have been looking forward to the trip since early December, but with Christmas, it was really hard to think about it until it was time to hit the road! We picked the Hayes up early Thursday morning and headed out. Forrest got a "On the Way to see Bama Play" magnet for the car and we were both super excited to have an opportunity to use it so soon!

Ready to go! Notice Forrest's new magnet!
We were not sure how long it would actually take us to there with traffic and everything, but it was really not too bad. I think our trip to Duke was just as long! We made just a few stops and arrived in about 9 hours. Thank goodness for GPS--every time we hit a patch of traffic, Justin and Forrest would be on their phones, planning out an alternate route. I'm pretty sure that is why we got there in record time! Since we got there earlier than expected, we checked into our hotel (the Sonesta, which Justin booked for a record low rate) and then headed out to Orlando Premium Outlets. I was PUMPED about the outlets because they had a Tory Burch AND I had some Christmas money burning a hole in my purse. Well, apparently there are 2 Orlando Premium Outlets and we were at the wrong one! Even so, we had a great job scouting out bargains. Farrah and I hit up Kate Spade, Coach, Loft, and several other outlets while the guys did their own "manly" shopping. We were so excited that we forgot that we hadn't eaten dinner, so we grabbed something at the food court before heading home. Forrest and I didn't score any loot, but we were hopeful that we'd hit some good sales at the other Premium Outlets later in the week.
On Friday morning we were up early again so we could go to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. We chose this park because it hosts the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and Forrest is a major fan. Justin and Farrah were great sports and agreed to go with us (especially Farrah, who doesn't like rides and held our stuff all day!). We got there pretty early and headed to the WWHP first. You have to stand in line to get into HP world so we were glad we got there early. Apparently it is so popular they have to do this for crowd control. Once we got in, we understood why! There was a full fledged Hogsmeade Village, complete with Hogwarts school! It was like stepping back in time!

Hogsmeade Village

The Baileys at Hogwarts
All of us, HP fans or not, were amazed at the details the construction people put into the stores, rides, and restaurants. Forrest was like a kid on Christmas. Since he has read all of the books, everything meant a lot more to him and he was explaining it all to the rest of us. I have seen all of the movies so I had a good grasp on it myself, but Justin and Farrah hadn't, so it was nice to have Forrest explaining the significance of everything. We rode the Dragon Challenge--a dueling roller coaster--first. While in line you figure out that you are in the Tri-Wizard tournament--how fun! Even if you are not a rider, it is worth standing in line (if you are a HP fan) because there are so many details along the way!

Signs cheering on the contenders in the Tri-Wizard tourney

You only see this if you stand in line for the Dragon Challenge
We boarded the ride and I immediately freaked. I love roller coasters but it has been a really long time since I rode a seriously one like this. What a thrill! Forrest, Justin and I were all screaming (ok, so really just I was screaming) and thoroughly enjoyed our first ride!! Next, we rode HP and the Forbiden Journey, a simulator ride that makes you feel like you are flying! It was the best ride in the whole park, I think! Even Farrah liked it! We opted to get in the "single rider" line to speed up the wait time and it really was a great option. After that, we never stood in a long line again! They also had lockers to put your stuff in that recognized your finger prints. Is that not the coolest thing? It was like something out of the future! Next, we had a British pub style lunch at the 3 broomsticks, where we ran into my sorority sister Mary Kathryn and her boyfriend. Small world for Bama fans! Forrest enjoyed a "butter beer" before we headed out to Hogsmeade to shop.

Butter beer and Fish and Chips!
My favorite was HoneyDukes, the candy store, with chocolate frogs and wands and of course, every flavor beans! We wanted to buy some as souvenirs for my mom and Davis, also HP fans, but we figured they might melt.

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A word on the weather, while I'm at it. It was the BEST weather ever--about 75 and a cool breeze! From now on, I think we should take a trip to Florida every year during Christmas just to warm up! We left Gadsden with snow on the ground and then the next day I was wearing flip flops and a tank top! Ok, back to HP. We rode the Flight of the Hippogriff, a family style coaster, next. It was really cool because you got to see Haggred's house (ok I don't know if that is how you spell it-I never read the book) while you waited in line. Unfortunately, Forrest lost his hat on the ride, but we are hoping that they find it and mail it to us, as promised!!

Last pic with the hat
Before we left we decided to ride the other coaster in the Dragon Challenge, and decided that we should definitely get in the front row, because the roller coasters appear to come at each other. This was the most frightening ride EVER!!! It really looks like you are going to smash into the other train of people and just before you do the ride does a back flip and you see the other people's feet rushing past your own! AHHHH!!! When we got off we were all a little wiggly feeling!!
In an effort to calm ourselves down we went to Dr. Seuss world next. It was just like being a Who down in Whoville at Christmas!!!

Farrah and I with a Who
After a few fun rides, we decided to split up. Forrest was over coasters and wanted to explore Jurassic Park and Farrah decided to read our book club book on her Kindle (I am super jealous of it, btw) while Justin and I rode the Incredible Hulk coaster. This coaster is unlike any I've ever ridden (except I rode the Hulk already in 2002). Instead of starting slow and creaking you up a hill, it shoots you out like a bullets! Crazy!!! Next, Justin, Farrah and I rode Spiderman, a simulator ride, before meeting up with Forrest. We watching the "Agro Circus" where they had motorcycles riding around in a globe cage with a guy standing in the middle! I was no fan of this---it made me too nervous! By the time the circus was over, we were exhausted and had ridden everything thing in the park, so we decided to head back to the hotel and rest before dinner. In the grand tradition of Hayes/Bailey road trips, we ended up eating at Outback for our NYE dinner. We figured that we had eaten at one on both of our previous road trips (SC, on the way to Duke and LA) so we might as well add Outback FLA to the list. Since it was NYE, we went all out. Drinks, appetizers, steaks for dinner. Next, we went to Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney to ring in the NYE with thousands of our closets friends (haha). The coolest part was the Lego store--all kinds of Legos AND all kinds of enormous things made out of Legos!

T-Rex made of Legos

Lego dogs!
By mid-night, we were exhausted and decided to beat the traffic back to the hotel. We felt a little lame leaving before the stroke of 12, but hey, you do what you gotta do! It actually turned out for the best because while we were on the interstate (the only ones, just about) we got to see the fireworks at ALL the theme parks! Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, all of them!! We felt so sneaky and smart!!
Saturday we woke up in a New Year ready for Gameday!! We got dressed in our gameday finery and headed to the Citrus bowl for some football fun!

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The stadium was old but the view from our seats was amazing.

The bowl gave everyone "bambams" to use during the game
Again, we couldn't have asked for better weather! We started beating Michigan State early on and we never let up. We totally dominated them! Our defense was crushing their players and will and their poor guys looked so wiped out! It was GREAT to see the team do so well and we were shouting and cheering the whole time! Forrest had never been to a bowl and the last one I had been too was when I was in middle school so we were really excited to be able to experience a bowl victory! It was also cool to see the awards presentation at the end and hear Nick Saban say some great things about our team!

49-7!!
After a taxi ride back (a taxi that was almost stolen by some hooligans but Forrest luckily stopped that nonsense) we got ready to head to dinner at Carrabbas. Justin and Farrah had a gift card they wanted to use so we happily obliged. Plus, who doesn't love Italian??? The traffic was awful and it took forever to get there, but we had a nice time at dinner nonetheless. Next, it was FINALLY time for the Tory Burch outlet!!! (Note: the Orlando Premium Outlets on Vineland have TB-not the other ones). My birthday is in a few days and I wanted to buy myself something pretty with my Christmas money!! I found so many cool things but I settled on some TB flipflops. After scoring my first bargain, I was unstoppable. I also found some jeans for $10 at Charlotte Russe AND a pink peacoat from Juicy Couture for 75% off that fit me perfectly!! I was SUPER excited about my purchases, obviously! These outlets had everything from Rue 21 to Dior. I went into Roberto Cavalli, Barneys, and saw Ferragamo and Armani! Seriously! I didn't know places like that have outlets, but even so, I still couldn't afford their prices, despite the discount (although I am coveting a Cavalli gown that was SUPER cheap in comparison to its original price but still a little rich for my blood).
On Sunday morning, Forrest and I went to Mass at St. James Cathedral before picking up the Hayes and heading out. Farrah's Kindle screen messed up so she was planning on reading my book in the car since I get motion sickness. However, she had a brilliant idea--she would read TO me! She literally read to me the entire way home and we were able to finish our book for book club. I haven't been read to since I was little, I suppose, and I could totally get into it! I am going to have to get some books on tape now (or hire Farrah to ride with me places so she can read). We caught the boys listening in on us a few times too---I don't know how they could help it, the book is amazing! We had a very smooth ride home (including a stop at IHOP for lunch where we got NUTELLA crepes!) and made it back in about 10 hrs. After dropping the Hayes off, we picked up Sonny at Forrest's parents' house and then Ruffles at my parents'. We are very lucky to have parents that don't mind keeping our dogs! Once we made it home we quickly unloaded and hopped in bed! We were not too pleased with the freezing temps but we were happy to be home safe and sound. Now to get back into the swing of things in a new year!!

Bailey New Years Resolutions:
Forrest: work out at least 3 times a week
Catherine: practice piano!!
 
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