Thursday, October 31, 2013

happy, happy day.

So much HAPPINESS today.

Obviously - last night's Red Sox victory has put me in a fantastic mood.  I love this team of bearded wonders and what they were able to accomplish for a city that has been through so much.  I echo the sentiments of Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino - going from, "worst to first" feels pretty awesome, as does winning the World Series at Fenway Park for the first time since 1918.


More importantly, it's my dad's birthday.  I'm not sure if he'd want me to tell you how old he is, so I won't, but be sure that age is definitely just a number to him.  He's still living large and dressing like Bagger Vance.   Happy Birthday to one of the best guys I know!


Oh and it's also Halloween, otherwise known as the best day on Facebook ever for pictures of cute kids in costume, hilarious pranks like the ones in this video . . .,

 . . . and tonight's Phish show!  Every time the band plays on Halloween, they cover another band's album in its entirety.  You may remember a few years ago when I dressed up like a strawberry and saw them cover the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street.  The trip, the show remains one of my most favorite music memories.  


Well, tonight they're playing in Atlantic City - and the speculation over what the Halloween costume will be is running rampant on social media and blogosphere. 

Among the contenders - Bob Marley's Catch a Fire, Michael Jackson's Thriller, Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti, and Huey Lewis and the News' Sports


I'm obviously not in Atlantic City, but I will be enjoying the music via the livestream (aka "Couch Tour"), possibly wearing this bunny mask.  


And, finally, ranked Alpha Omicron Pi at the University of Georgia the #3 hottest sorority in the SEC and even though it's been more than a decade since my friends and I were in college, I'm pretty sure we had something to do with it.  

Enjoy your day - have a SAFE and Happy Halloween! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

feeling glad despite feeling bad.

I wasn't planning on blogging today - because I have been in a bad-mood, anxiety-ridden funk this week.  I'm not sure why - I have no reason to be . . .especially since I have so much to be happy about:

The Red Sox, of whom I have over the last 4 years developed an unexplained allegiance, are playing in the World Series. 


The team is sporting beards, too, of which I'm also a huge fan.


Pearl Jam came out with a new album this week, and Fox has been playing the band's music throughout the World Series broadcasts.  Here's more on why baseball fans get to hear Eddie Vedder's sweet voice between innings.


Red Sox baseball?  Beards?  Pearl Jam?  There is so much good in the world.  

And, Kate Middleton at Prince George's christening is completely stunning in Alexander McQueen.  Just when I think she can't look more classy, more beautiful, she outdoes herself.

Also, this adorable "Dancer Goes Rogue" video, which I'm pretty sure is the best thing I've seen in a while.  I love this girl, who much like myself, marches to the beat of her own drummer.

So many things to be happy about - all these things and there is absolutely no way that Georgia can lose this weekend.  

TGIABW - Thank Goodness it's a Bye Week!  Happy Weekend.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

active in seattle.

Leave it to Jacob and me to save all of the indoor activities for our last day in Seattle - which just so happened to be the most beautiful day in the city.


I haven't even visited Atlanta's Aquarium, which is right in my backyard, and allegedly the largest aquarium in the world, so clearly aquariums aren't on the top of my priority list. I didn't really care whether or not we made it to Seattle's.  Jacob is somewhat of an aquarium aficionado, though, and was apparently on a mission to do some comparing (read: judging), so it was our first stop.

Besides the super bizarre "show" that involved one of the aquarium's staff members underwater in full scuba gear answering kids' questions from inside one of the aquariums, along with the ridiculously adorable sea otters, I thought the aquarium was just alright.


We rode the monorail from the center of town and arrived right in the middle of a cluster of tourist attractions, including the Space Needle and an oddly-shaped, flashy building that houses the EMP Pop Culture museum. 

Based on the description in our Seattle guide book - "EMP is a museum dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture" - I wasn't sure what this place was all about.  But when we walked in, Michael Jackson's Thriller video was playing on one wall, a floor to ceiling tower of guitars was in the center of the room and this sign was hanging above the door, so I knew I'd probably like what I'd find.


And I did.

We stayed mostly in the music area of the museum, which included exhibits on two Seattle-born music groups - Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix.  Since I was already somewhat familiar with both of these acts and am a sucker for history and memorabilia, I was in music history museum heaven.

Also, in addition to his insane guitar skills, Jimi Hendrix had an amazing fashion sense.   What's not to love?

No surprise, Jacob's favorite part of the EMP Museum was the Sound Lab where visitors can go into actual sound-proof studios and play instruments as loudly as they want.   


The Chihuly Garden and Glass was my most favorite of the touristy places we visited that day, and while I'm not necessarily here to give you my recommendations, I will strongly advise you put this on your list if you're headed to Seattle. 

Dale Chihuly is an Washington-born artist and glass blower who has created glass installations all over the world.  This exhibit and garden includes eight glass galleries, including a suspended 1400-piece, 100-foot long sculpture.


Having learned all that goes into blowing glass several years ago, I couldn't have been more fascinated and impressed by these installations.  The sheer size of the intricate designs blew me away.  And talk about color?  This place made the Pike Market seem drab. 


Our day ended in my most favorite way - with an outdoor concert drinking craft beers.  Specifically, Furthur at Marymoor Park in Redmond, Washington.

This required us to take a 20-minute bus ride from Seattle to Redmond, Washington.  Getting off the beaten path was exciting, and made us feel like locals - right down to encountering our first unpleasant Seattle person - the bus driver.

Word to the wise: Do NOT board a bus in Seattle without correct change. 


A full day of touristy stops, capped off with one very awesome non-touristy experience and we were ready to say goodbye to Seattle to head east to Yakima Valley, Washington aka Wine Country aka our happy place.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

the key to my heart.

I celebrated my real birthday a couple of weeks ago returning home to Atlanta from Seattle - it was like my own version of planes trains, and automobiles.  Obviously the week away (more on that to come, but here is Day 1 and Day 2) was celebration enough, but last night I celebrated again - with my most favorite person ever.

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The key to my heart, like most women, includes flowers, jewelry, and fancy clothes.  But for high-maintenance me, the key to my heart also includes Jimmy Fallon.  Jacob delivered.

Fallon performed at the Cobb Energy Centre on his Clean Cut Comedy Tour, alongside fellow comedians Julian McCullough, Nate Bargatze, Seth Herzog, and Nick Thune.

To try and repeat some of the hilarious jokes we heard would be to violate one of my biggest pet peeves at a comedy show - to pretend as though I'm a comedian myself.  What about attending a comedy show makes everyone think they get to be the "funny guy/girl?"  On the elevator, in lines for drinks, Jacob and I exchanged knowing, annoyed glances listening to these offenders sharing their best material.  

Also, now that I'm on my "Things to Never Do at a Comedy Show" soapbox, why do members of the audience think it's their job to remind the comedian of his popular bits?  There were girls yelling "hashtag ATL" all night - as if they needed to remind him of his bit with Timberlake about overusing hashtags.  Hey, everyone, Fallon knows about the hash tag bit - he wrote it!  

And don't get me started on large numbers of people trying to clap in rhythm to Fallon playing his guitar . . . dreadful. 

Fallon did some of the best sketches from his show - including "thank you notes," and a lip-sync off with Vampire Diaries' Nina Dobrev.  (Side note: she is so beautiful.)  I laughed so hard, my cheeks and stomach hurt.

I may have even peed a little, and isn't that always a sign of a good birthday celebration?

Monday, October 14, 2013

seattle in color.

For a city so often gray and rainy, Seattle is actually quite full of color.


Colorful personalities . . .

(I love a good show - especially when it involves fish throwing.)  


Colorful walkways . . .

(What is it with the west coast and Bubblegum Alleys?) 


Colorful stories . . .

(This is the "Real World: Seattle" house where Stephen slapped Irene.) 


(These are arguably one of city's best Bloody Mary's - aboard the Argosy Tour Boat - they use Absolut Cintron.)


(Despite being surrounded by water, there aren't many waterfront hotels - one, the Edgewater, was made famous by the Beatles when they were photographed fishing out of their room window.)  


(The Space Needle is apparently the most structurally safe place in the city.  Um, not sure how they know that or who is going to test it out should some disaster strike Seattle?) 


An Exquisite, Fragrant, Wonderfully Colorful market . . .


Amid gray skies and intermittent rain showers on our second day in Seattle, we got a large dose of rich color in not only our surroundings and experiences, but also with the company of friends Emily and Justin, who just so happened to be visiting Seattle at the same time we were.

The four of us walked through Pike Market, toured the city by boat, visited the Ballard Locks and let Emily - one of my most favorite foodies - guide us to some of the best spots to eat in Seattle.  We had, among other things, oysters twice in one day, and then played Skee Ball at a quaint (read: totally awesome) bar in the Ballard District.

It was a colorful day, indeed.
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For a long time, I thought that adding color to my life would require big romantic gestures, grand trips to exotic locales, a Superhero type person to swoop in and save an otherwise gloomy day.

Big color is good, and I've been fortunate enough to experience it.

But the older I get, I'm more aware of the little things (Georgia wins, draft beer, live music), and seemingly insignificant moments (a handwritten card in the mail, enjoying my favorite meal), the friends who show up, time after time, proving their loyalty (you know who you are)- these are the moments, the people who put the color in my life.

Just like the ridiculously cheap bouquets of flowers at the Pike Market (seriously if I lived there, I would buy fresh flowers daily), a colorful life is nothing more than the sum of little displays along the way. 

How can I shift my focus to them, and ignore the gray clouds that often get so much attention?

And more importantly, how can I be for others like the pops of color that bring Seattle to life in spite of the unpredictable weather?

In honor of a great day in Seattle, let me show more kindness and choose more love, becoming a refuge to those seeking shelter from the gray.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

observations on seattle.

What does a girl do after crafting her heart out and prepping for aunthood?  She goes on vacation, of course!

I have been nagging Jacob for months to go somewhere.  Anywhere.  We both love to travel, but had put "real vacations" on hold in the name of saving money and being responsible.  

Jacob kept my begging at bay for a while, pointing out all of the beach vacations we've been on.  I pointed out that I wanted to go on a trip that wasn't to my brother's house or his family's house, which I realize makes me sound like the most spoiled girl ever.  We are so very lucky to be able to "get away" to these lovely locales, but I was ready to visit somewhere I'd never been before.

Finally, he agreed, and we began brainstorming where we should go.

Though I didn't consciously aim high in hopes that we'd settle somewhere closer to home, it sort of worked out that way.

I said Paris.

He said Seattle.

I said, "Yes!" (To Seattle.  Just Seattle.)  I know how you freaks think.


Seattle was a great suggestion because neither of us had ever been there; it was an easy city to get to, and there was plenty to do but not too much that we couldn't see most of it in a week.

So after Katie's baby shower and a laaaaaate night of catching up with old friends (because all baby showers should include late nights, am I right?), we somehow managed to make our flight to the Pacific Northwest for a week-long adventure.   

We got to Seattle right in the middle of the day, and after navigating the public transportation (all by ourselves!), we checked into our hotel - Hotel Max, a so-called "boutique hotel" where all of the staff members look like members of the Secret Service.  They didn't allow us to check-in until 4pm, which was annoying, but the rooms were clean, it was in a central location and they provided a comfortable robe, so it was all good.

Though our day started with a lot of drama and sincere fear that we wouldn't make it at all, we managed to enjoy a half day in the Emerald City and make a few observations about our vacation choice.

1. It really doesn't rain that much.  

Seattle obviously has a reputation for being one of the rainiest cities in the country - and living up to the hype, it was pouring when we arrived.  But I'm pretty sure it's rained more in Atlanta in the last six months than it will in Seattle all year.  When people ask me if Seattle was "rainy," I say no.  I think a better description of Seattle weather would be, "unpredictable."  It's hard to plan outside activities because it's constantly changing - it rained and the sun shined every single day we were there.  When the rain came, we went inside and when the sun came out, we ran to the Space Needle.

2. I really hate heights.  

And so does Jacob.  I'm not quite sure when I developed this fear of heights, that for the most part seems to be relegated to only man made ones (buildings = bad; mountains = good), but it really sucks.  What's strange is that despite our shared fear, we also have a "When in Rome," attitude about everything and since we were in Seattle, we never questioned whether or not we'd go to the top of the Space Needle.  It was sort of expected that we would.  But we still had anxiety about it, we immediately ordered beers when we got to the top and we definitely stayed mostly indoors to enjoy the view, which was lovely.


I want to love this picture, but those smiles are a creepy facade for our complete terror over the wind and the height.


3. There really are Starbucks everywhere.  

Actually there are a lot of coffee shops, period, but especially Starbucks.  Seattle is home to the first Starbucks, and where the company is headquartered, so it makes sense.  Jacob made up a not-so-fun game of pointing them with a light punch to my arm and a, "Hey Steph, there's a Starbucks."  The game continued all. week. long. 


4. Seattle Seahawks Fans might be some of the most polite, laid back fans ever 

I tend to hate blanketed statements about any team's fans (All "Enter Team Name Here" are mean; "Enter Team Name Here" fans suck!), so I'll only say, of the ones I witnessed on the train, and in comparison to most rabid SEC fans I know, Seahawks fans are lovely.  They were polite, respectful, and from what I could tell, completely sober when they exited the train to CenturyLink Field.  We asked for a recommendation for a lively sports bar to watch the game and found the same.  Touchdowns were celebrated by quiet clapping and tempered clinking of beer glasses, even during the 45-17 beat down of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

So far, so good, Seattle.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

not pregnant. still crafting.

I am not pregnant.

I never thought I'd ever actually have to type those words on this blog - or anywhere else, for that matter.

But after my last post about crafting, I had MORE THAN ONE person reach out to me to ask me if I was pregnant.  Admittedly, I was a little offended that these folks didn't read the entire blog to see that I'm not at all pregnant.  Worried that if I was indeed pregnant that these same people thought I'd announce it covertly within a blog about crafting.   But mostly I was concerned that I'd done something to make people think that I was, in fact, with child. 

That is not the case.  So let me reiterate - several of my friends, co-workers, and my sister-in-law are pregnant.   

Not me.  Not pregnant.  Just crafting.  And baby showering.

I also didn't mean to underscore my abilities in hopes that you would compliment me and make me feel good about myself, but I do appreciate those remarks nonetheless.  Lauren's shower was great, the food was great, the crafts (even those done by me) were great . . . it's just that the road getting there, at least for me, was paved with mishaps and insanity. 

My latest (mis)adventure in crafting was no different - this time for a couples shower in honor of my brother and Katie and yet-to-be-named Baby Girl Gallman.

This shower-throwing experience was a lesson in how different scenarios bring out different elements of my personality.  For Lauren's shower, besides coming up with the pickles and ice cream favor idea, which amounted to a hot mess of melted ice cream, I more or less let the other hosts take the lead. 

Not for this shower.  I don't know what came over me, maybe it's I'm-having-my-first-niece nuttiness, but the second I was invited to help host, I sort of went all "Type-A Crazy Aunt Steph."  Full of ideas, demands, orders.  Someone would ask what their job should be, and "Passive-Aggressive Whatever Steph" was nowhere to be found.

It was more, "I'm Doing This, You Do That Steph." 

Katie's poor sister Sarah Jane logged onto her email after weeks of online conversation between the hosts to no less than 40 emails of me barking orders and telling the other hosts exactly what I thought we should do.  I didn't ask for permission or open it up for discussion, I just told everyone what I was going to do and hoped it was alright.


Maybe I'm a better party host than I thought?  Or maybe I'm just a biatch?

Regardless, look at this barbecue spread.


Look at these party decorations.


Look. At. These. Flags.


I know that marsh view is waaaaaay better than the flags, but I made them all, under close supervision by my mother, who more than once ripped my stitches wide open and disgustingly said to me, "What is this?  Do it again!"  Her bossiness paid off, though, because the flags were a hit.

Midway through sewing them, which again were quite laborious for an amateur such as myself, my mom turned to me and sarcastically said, "Aren't you glad you're spending all this time on these?  Your brother is going to love them!"

We both shared a laugh over that - because these party decorations, of which I'd become borderline obsessed, aren't really a guy thing and definitely not a Jeff thing.  (For the record, he complimented them at the party, only after Katie pointed at them and said, "Look at the banner Stephanie made!")


Despite the valiant efforts of all of us to put on a great party, which we did, if I do say so myself, the highlight of the evening couldn't have been crafted or planned at all.  No, the best moment by far came courtesy of Katie's father, who graciously agreed to say the blessing before dinner after we put him on the spot.  In the midst of his prayer, he said, "And God, please bless this little Baby Child."

I chuckled to myself, thinking of that scene from Talladega Nights when they all pray to "Sweet Baby Jesus."

When the prayer ended we all looked up to find Katie hysterically laughing.  Like tears streaming down, red faced, laughter over "Baby Child."  These laughing fits, she said, have been one of the side effects of her pregnancy.  Though it's caused her some embarrassment, that's a side effect I could get on board with.    


I asked my dad earlier today if he had fun at the shower and he said, "Oh Yeah!  It's always fun seeing all those outlaws (aka my brother's friends) all grown up with kids of their own."


Yep, when I look at these pictures - Katie's sweet family and the little kids excluded - this party was nothing more than a bunch of crazy hosts and outlaws.

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God help Baby Child Gallman and the many people who already love her.