Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Anatomy of a Party

One of my Gadsden Style articles was about how to successfully plan and organize a party. Lots of people want to host parties, but to do one right, you really have to plan. It's one thing to invite friends over on the fly for a glass of wine or to watch the game but it's quite another to host a party or event. This may sound pretentious or over the top, but actually you probably already do most of the planning I'm talking about in your head. Even if you are just having dinner for your closet friends, who won't judge you if the wheels fall off of your event,  you always want to show them how important they are to you by the effort you put in and the attention you give to the event itself. It doesn't take much, but a little organization will go a long way. Here is my timeline for my Mexican fiesta for supper club this past weekend.

One month before the party at minimum, I nail down my guests (easy, our supper club), date, time, and theme.
Event date: Saturday, April 26
Time: 7pm
Theme: Mexican fiesta
* You don't have to have a theme and quite frankly I don't personally like anything to cheesy and themey, but a general theme gives you something to work around and helps narrow down choices. For example, when asking yourself  "Self, what kind of drinks should I serve?", you have endless options. BUT, when you nail the theme down to Mexican, you have fewer choices, and fewer choices means it takes less time to choose one.

At least one week before the party, I choose my menu. This time I created a Pinterest board to keep all of my ideas together in one place. You can check it out HERE.  I like to serve a mixture of crowd pleasers and new recipes and I try to pick things that all work together and have similar ingredients. This just makes things easier. You also need to think about how much time you are going to have to cook everything. I like to choose things that I can make ahead so I'm less stressed on the day of the party.

Taco Layer dip
assorted salsas and chips

Strawberry Margaritas (I wanted a drink I could serve out of dispensers--that makes things easier)
Infused Water (again with the dispensers)
Assorted Beer
Wine if anyone wants to open any

Main course:
Chicken Enchiladas
Watermelon/cucumber/avocado salad

Make grocery list

Shop for party
(As a rule, I do my grocery shopping on Sundays but I didn't want my food sitting that long in the fridge so I made an extra trip)

Grab last minute party necessities on the way home
Have husband get beer and liquor (this is something I like for him to do so he gets whatever he wants specifically)
Make Enchiladas--made them up to the point on pouring on the sauce and baking them.
Put together taco dip
Prepare corn (I got it to the point of baking and the put it in the fridge)
Pull out all other serving pieces and set up serving areas
get out koozies, tubs for drinks, bottle openers, etc
Put salsas/dips into bowls, prepare dessert tray (you may think this doesn't take time but it really does so do it ahead of time)

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I had everything, down to the plates and napkins, ready to go for our s'mores (turns out the firewood was the one thing I didn't nail down---boo)

Set up bar area

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I had the bar area completely ready, minus the drinks of course.

8:30 am: Clean (usually my housekeeper comes and cleans every other Friday but she was dealing with a family emergency so I was on my own. I really relied on my Roomba to vacuum while I was doing other things)
10:00 am--Set table (dishes, centerpieces, flowers, chair covers, etc)
 photo E776C1A7-2149-4179-A578-F1C1E46DFF81_zpsr7nespmi.jpg
The table was ready all except the small vases of flowers on the sides. They were there, just minus the flowers.

11:00 am-- Get dressed--I usually get dressed last but I had a birthday party to attend. In an effort to save time, I only get ready one time if possible so I was dressed with hair and make up done for supper club early that morning! Remember to wear an apron if you are gong to do this!
11:30 am-- Birthday party for Hudson (eat lunch there--score)
12:30 pm--slice ingredients for the watermelon salad, drinks, etc--compile salad, get water made and in the fridge to chill
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This pic is kind of dark but it shows the infused water I served. See all of those fruits and veggies? They don't just chop themselves! Do this ahead of time!

 2:00 pm--Final clean of the kitchen now that all foods have been prepared
4:00 pm-- Mass
5:30 pm--get the outside area set up--put out drink buckets, etc that were prepared the night before as well as outdoor decor
6:00 pm: Turn on all lights, open curtains, last minute check around the house (this is my favorite part!)
6:30 pm--Farrah arrives, set out remaining flowers, make margaritas, pull out all appetizers, take pictures of everything
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All of the margarita ingredients were waiting patiently in the fridge or freezer so they were chilled thoroughly when it was time to mix them. This batch included a strawberry soda so it didn't need to sit out too long beforehand.

7:00 pm--Guests scheduled to arrive! Put enchiladas and corn in the oven to bake
Then, as guests arrive, we got them drinks and appetizers and showed them around and caught up while the food was cooking. You never want to serve cold food and you never want your guests to go hungry, so make sure you are aware of how long it takes for your food to cook. The enchiladas and corn took about 45 minutes to cook so I put them in right as guests arrived. That gave us the perfect amount of time to to eat, drink, and socialize. We were all sitting around the table to eat the main course by 8:00 pm. Then once everyone was finished, we started making the s'mores.

If you are feeling scattered every time you have to host, please consider making a timeline! It might seem slightly neurotic but once you have a plan in place that you can actually stick to, your party prep will go from frustrating to satisfying! Your guests will be much more comfortable with a calm host rather than an exasperated one, and you will look that the entertaining goddess that you are!! Happy planning!

What are your party saving tips?? What do you do to keep your party on track?? 

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Let's Hear it for the Weekend

Last week was jam packed and so was the weekend! I had a dinner on Tuesday, plans with friends Wednesday, another dinner for our AOII alumni on Thursday PLUS a "spray tan party". Oh yes and of course there was work and unpacking at the new house--how could one forget? Friday night was the Regency black and white ball. I LOVE this dance because I, at least, like to get creative with my black and white. On top of that, the members were tiaras. That sounds a little silly when you say it out loud but it's all good fun, and let's be honest, who doesn't love wearing a tiara! The icing on the Regency cake is that instead of dinner or appetizers, they serve breakfast at about 10pm! Love it!!!

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A night on the town with my husband! Looking good too!!
I found my dress at our Service Guild rummage sale 2 years ago. It was in a dry cleaning bag that still had the receipt on it from the 1970's! I love anything vintage so I snagged it, had it cleaned and fitted, and voila!
My assistant Rachel did my hair--she can never leave me. I mean what would the job description say? "WANTED"--Legal Assistant with experience in criminal, civil, probate, immigration. Must be able to talk to clients and do perfect sock buns on occasion. Also should be available to give shoe advice.

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Just a few of my girlfriends at the ball!
Kate, Holly, Jenny, Kelli, Farrah, Alie
Amy, Kelly, Me, Kendall

Saturday I woke up at 7:45 on my own. If it was a work day, that would never happen. However, I was anxious to get a start to my day because we were hosting supper club! Yes, I made plans to entertain, in my new house, that is half painted and full of boxes. I'm just crazy, I guess. There was much to be done, even though I got a head start on Friday night. We also had to squeeze in a little time for a birthday party for little Hudson!!

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I don't have kids and I don't pretend to be an expert on what they need or what, but dang was I proud of my beach bucket for Hudson! He is going to the beach this summer and I thought he would enjoy some beach accouterments.

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Love the Pucketts!!!

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Any FRIENDS fans out there? Remember the episode where Phoebe admits that she wants to keep one of her brother's triplets? Well, that's how I felt about Raegan. This girl loves to eat, rocks out with hairbows and tutus, and enjoys the occasional nap. Home girl and I are soul mates.

By the time our group arrived for dinenr, I had everything ready and have to admit was pretty laid back. This may have been due to the margaritas I was sampling, but who knows. I think it was more that I had a really good plan for attacking the prep of this party and was able to stick to it. More to come on that this week! Our supper club loved the house, and more importantly, loved my food! A big shout out to Farrah who helped me immensely. She brought over the chairs and chair covers, let me borrow the flowers she took from Regency, and let me used one of her drink dispensers. One of my main tips in planning a party is saying "YES" when help is offered, and Farrah always is a friend who offers. Thank you sweet girl! (She also makes my hair and nail appointments when she makes her own because I never seem to remember to do that--only a real friend worries about the state of your appearance that much!!).

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My table! Slightly over done for a Mexican theme meal but once the chair covers arrived I had to kick it up a notch. The flowers were all from Regency the night before or from bushes at Forrest's office. Everything else was pulled out of boxes on the fly. I'm channeling my Aunt Fran with this table for sure. Oh, and Forrest built this table--amazing, right?

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Mexican fiesta, plus flamingo straw, plus wedding flowers equals one amazing night!
If you were curious, my menu included baked chicken enchiladas, Mexican street corn, and watermelon/cucumber/avocado salad.

This is Forrest's new outdoor fireplace. He just had to have it and envisioned the whole thing. As per my usual I was skeptical but didn't care one way or another about it and as per his usual, he was right. It is beautiful. We really wanted to serve s'mores for dessert, with our friends gathered around the fireplace, but as it is April and 80 degrees, there was no firewood to be found. Instead, we served s'mores straight out of the microwave. Our patio furniture looked so inviting, and the night air was so perfect, that we decided just to "try" out the fireplace when everyone left. That meant burning whatever we had available--boxes. We just tried one, but boy was that fire pretty. Slightly redneck, but beautiful. Even Ruffles couldn't take her eyes off of it.

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 Since I had gone to Mass on Saturday, Sunday was a sleep late day (for me, anyway, Forrest was running errands all the way in Georgia before I even woke up). We took advantage of the sun by spending a few hours at the lake. Yes, we should have been unpacking and working at the house but after such a wild week, we needed some quite time.  photo 06072A05-C399-4F26-BB96-9D547A159265_zpsmpikbmxk.jpg
These babies were ready to go go go!
(Points for me for having my car cleaned last week)

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Even this prissy diva enjoyed some outdoor time

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And of course, Sonny swam the entire time. Even when he broke that stick in two and was carrying both pieces at the time, he just wanted to swim.

 Once the storms rolled in we headed home, caught up on some napping (Forrest) and TV (me). We managed a quick walk before dinner at my parents. It may be our last time outside for the next few days, as we are expecting strong storms to enter the state tonight. They've already been terrible in the midwest. I can hardly look at the news because I get flashback panics to the April 27, 2011 tornadoes that sliced up my state. The fear of not knowing if my sister, or any of my friends in Tuscaloosa were ok or even alive is still fresh on my mind, and any mention of the word "tornado" sends my mind spiraling back to that horrific day. Please pray for safety for those in the path of the storms and for peace and healing for those who have already been through them. The Baileys will be hunkered down in our basement tonight! Stay safe friends!!
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

House Wish List v. Reality

Back in August I did a post about my house "wish list". Now that we are moved in and settled, I wanted to take a look back at that list and see how on the mark our new house is! 

Wish                                                                      Reality

double ovens (wall mounted)                                        nope--but I do have 2 ovens--one is downstairs
large double door refrigerator                                       there are 2--one up one down
granite counters (not marble--I will jack that up)          no, but we are installing granite next week
farm sink or under mounted sink                                    coming with the granite!
pull out drawers in cabinets                                           yes! most of them pull out! 
-eat in area, perhaps with banquet?                            no banquet but eat in kitchen
butler's pantry (because they make me feel fancy)       I'm turning cabinets into this
island with prep sink and extra storage                         nope
large pantry (either walk in or with pull outs--I hate stuff getting lost in the far recesses!) nope (but it is a descent size and there are LOTS of cabinets anyway)

Master Bedroom:
-nice size but not giant-no use wasting space              yes! 
-his and hers closets                                                       yes!!
-his and hers bathrooms! (this is my ultimate dream--my grandparents have this and it is awesome) not so much 
-in the alternative, large vanity with double sinks and lots of storage    YES!!
-jet tub   YES!!
-glass door walk in shower with lots of water spouts     shower, yes, hotel spouts, not so much

Living Area:
I would love a separate casual den and formal living room, or at least a great room that is large enough for our piano. I am really more concerned about the "flow" of the house--I'm always thinking about hosting parties and where my guests would be. I also want an actual foyer so you are not walking right into a room, but I'm not a fan of 2 story foyers--the whole balcony things scares me--kids like to climb and I'm afraid of heights. Not a good combo.

--we have one giant great room so the piano will go there. I think the party flow will be good, although the kitchen is not connected to the living area. I don't mind this, though. There is a big foyer with no balcony--hooray!

Outdoor Space:
-fenced in yard                                            We are going to have to add a fence
-pool!!                                                          nope
-deck/courtyard                                         we have a patio and a separate deck
-grilling area                                                the grill will go on the patio

Other spaces:
-I would love a bonus room/play room area for future kiddos               check
-basement/man cave                                                                             check
-work out area (for our treadmill, weights, etc)                      I'm converting a storage area for this
-I also want part of the basement to be underground so we can be safe from tornadoes (if you live in a tornado prone area, you understand this obsession--this is probably number on on my list) this was a must so I definitely got it

-PLENTY of storage space--I'm talking closets out the wazoo-     HOORAY! CHECK!! 
-coat closet by the front door (empty and waiting for guests with coats) YES!
-mudroom-so no guests have to see all of the crap that we bring in daily  NOT SO MUCH
 -formal dining-I know these are kind of on their way out but I LOVE them and they make me feel fancy. We are always hosting so we would definitely use it!        YEP
-at least one bedroom on the same level as the master (so any hypothetical infants would be close by)                                                                                                yes
-powder room near living area but not right in it so you can use it in private    YES
-dedicated laundry room-I don't have that now and I really really want one please!   YES

Ok well that was pretty spot on! I hadn't seen the list since I wrote it so it was kind of nice to see how we ticked most of the boxes. Truth be told we had already seen the house we bought at that time so maybe I was secretly holding out for it? After being in for a week, we are really enjoying our new house and neighborhood. The organization is coming along and is just as much fun as I thought it would be! It's definitely a work in progress and I'm having to be really calm about all the mess and unfinished projects, but I know everything will get done in due time. Thanks everyone for your congratulations! Pictures to come!!  photo null_zpsd9522814.jpg  

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Sugar High

So Forrest and I gave us sweets for Lent again this year. Father Bean told us this year we shouldn't tell people what we were giving up; I wasn't so good at that, but I didn't put it on the blog so that sort of counts. This was one of the toughest years for me--I think we were just under a lot of stress and an ice cream here and there would have made things really happy! We had been counting down the days, the HOURS until Easter. Of course, that's not what Easter is all about and we know it, but because we were so keenly aware of our personal sacrifice this year, it made us all the more focused on the ultimate sacrifice, which, of course, is the point of giving up stuff in the first place. Here is what our fabulous, sweet filled Easter looked like to us:

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We spent Friday night meeting this beautiful lady, Harper Rae! She weight 5 lbx 4 oz so she was SO tiny!! I could have cuddled her all night long!

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On Saturday, my dining room table arrived! Forrest built it all by himself--not a single part was premade! It is exactly what I wanted and it's all the more special because he made it himself!

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On Saturday night we had dinner with my family since my brother and sister were in town. As per our tradition, we dyed Easter eggs (while drinking pina coladas--what a combo right?). Notice the tooth themed eggs--those are Forrest's, of course.

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Mary Margaret made a baby friend at church Sunday morning. This is Declan! He clearly has good taste in women!

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Happy Easter from the Baileys!

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Brother and sister love (let's all remember I'm the oldest). We discovered, after taking this pic, that my brother would made a great Pitbull (the singer) for Halloween.

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My uncle made this lamb cake for Easter but I really think it resembles Ruffles....

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The dessert table!
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The real food. Yes it is important, but not as important as the desserts!

The weekend was beautiful and clearly so much fun. It's always nice to spend time with the people (and foods) that you love! Happy Easter to all!

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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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