Today Kristen is sharing some tips for buying airline tickets when she travels and I thought this was perfect timing for sharing travel tips since we just got back from four days in New Orleans. It has been over 25 years since I've been back to the great state of Louisiana and when I lived there I never got the chance to go to the Big Easy. So my husband and I thought that it would be a great destination for a long, romantic weekend get-a-way. We both love the warm South, spicy food and places full of American History and New Orleans had all of the above ;)
What Works-for-Me when we travel is taking Guided Tours. Ever since we took our first trip together for our honeymoon in Montreal...we have always invested in the Guided Tours provided by the Cities, Museums and/or Sites that we attend. This trip was no different...we have learned that you gather so much more information by taking the tours...and it is ALOT of stuff that you would miss out on if you didn't pay for the tours. I don't know how you feel...BUT...when you take into consideration all the money that you have already invested in your trip, like the hotels, flights, rental-cars, food, etc...then investing in a few tours really makes your total trip worth what you have already spent...capish?
This weekend DH and I went to Charlotte to spend time with family and friends. We were getting together to celebrate birthdays...mine and my Irish Twin sister Debbie's...Irish Twins because we are only eleven months apart and so we are both the same age from my birthday, July 29th until her birthday on September 2nd. But we were also celebrating my nephew's birthday, Wesley who turned 29 on August 19th so we all met up at one of my favorite restaurants, Maggiano's Little Italy, restaurant. We were joined by my good friends and past co-workers, Beth and Kim who just had to check out my favorite pasta dish, Chicken & Spinach Manicotti...yum ;)
Happy Pink Saturday !
Pink Saturday is a weekly blog party that is featured on Beverly's blog: How Sweet the Sound and it is about having fun, and getting the chance to meet others in the blogging community. Please take the time to visit other participants, and leave a comment to let them know you stopped by to enjoy their pink!
Last week DH and I got to go on vacation for a week to Daytona Beach, Florida and relax and celebrate my big birthday...oh yeah! I really needed this break where we spent the entire week doing NOTHING but relaxing.
Every morning we slide open the curtains and the sliding door and stepped out onto our balcony where we saw pink sand and turquoise water stretched out for as far as our eyes could see...
It was a WONDERFUL week and just what I needed and I can't thank my husband enough for making it so special for me by being there with me and for just going with the flow and simply being in the moment!
In the spirit of pink, this week I stopped by and visited a new (to me ;) Pink Saturday blogger, Rebecca of Belle Maison to say hello, introduce myself and, to also wish her a Happy Birthday! Rebecca has a beautiful blog full of posts showcasing her many shabby chic finds and DIY projects. There is also alot of vintage bling and pastel glassware and loads of beautiful flora and fauna.
Be sure to check out Rebecca's etsy shop and oh yeah...did I mention that she makes candy!
Last week, Kevin and I, traveled back to New Hampshire to celebrate the short, but wonderful life on my life-long friend, Dean Gordon. Dean and his family, (especially his wife and soul-mate, Michele) had lost their 19-month battle with Leukemia on July 10, 2010.
In addition to his beloved wife and parents, he is survived by his three precious daughters, Krista DiPietro, Janelle Gordon and Kaleigh Gordon; three brothers, Gary Gordon and his wife Gail, Kevin Gordon and his wife Madeleine and Dale Gordon and his wife Julie and several nieces and nephews.
The funeral services were such a loving testament to Dean's memory and I have to say...it truly was a celebration of his life and I am so glad that we were able to attend and be with his friends and family. After the services and the mercy meal, we were able to go over to his brother, Dale's house and have a really wonderful visit with most of the family.
Thank goodness my Mom remembered that I had brought along my camera and we set up the timer to catch a group photo. Sorry that this came out a little fuzzy...but that's okay because we all can still tell who is who! From left to right, Julie Gordon, Bob Gordon, Virginia Philbrick, Kevin Gordon, Madeleine Gordon, Dale Gordon (standing). Down in the front is Mickey Gordon, Bonnie Philbrick, Bobbi Philbrick (me ;) and DH, Kevin Philbrick.
I also grabbed some individual shots that came out much clearer and wanted to share them here so that both of our families can see them as well. Below is a photo of Dean's parents, Bob & Mickey...aka Robert and Marjorie...but we've always called them Bob & Mickey ;) I have not seen any of the Gordon's since my Dad passed away six years ago when they all came to support us during his services. Never did I dream that we'd be brought back together for such a sad occasion.
Next up is a photo of one of Dean's older brothers, Dale and his wife, Julie...whose home was where we spent hours remembering our lives when we all lived together in the Army and we were stationed in Asmara, Ethiopia, East Africa and then Fort Richie, Maryland. Bob told us the wonderful story of how Dean got his nickname...Deano! When he was a little tyke in their yard in Asmara, Dean use to hit golf balls over the stone fence/wall to all the little native children who gathered in the streets. Then whenever the family would leave their house, the kids would shout out "Deano"...and his nickname was born. As Dean got older he did not like being called Deano and we all tried to remember that...but old habits are hard to break...lol
Next is a photo of another brother, Kevin and his wife, Madeleine. Kevin enjoyed telling us stories about how my Dad use to play with all the Gordon boys and how he broke their model airplane on it's native flight. That was the start of an on-going obsession of my Dad's to build, attempt to fly, crash and re-build model air-planes over the years...and this was NOT the reason my Dad was nick-named Crash by the Gordon's...that was from crashing race cars...lol
We were all laughing so hard over all the memories of our parents wild nights when they were young and going out on the town and breaking tables from "dancing on tabletops". Or the times when my Dad would come home from the race track so dirty that she would make him change his clothes outside in the shared breezeway and Bob & Mickey would hear my Mom shouting at my Dad..."God-_ _ _ _it Bay"...Bay was the family nickname for my Day...can you keep up ;)
Here's a collage of some different shots that I put together as well.
After we left the Gordon's, my Mom, my sister, Bonnie, and DH and myself, all headed back to my sister Bonnie's home. Along the way we stopped at the NH Veteran's Memorial Cemetery in Boscawen where my Dad is buried. I had not been back to his grave-sight since my cousin, Gail Allen, passed away less than two years later.
Some interesting information about how people are buried in the VA Cemetery is that couples caskets are placed on top of each other in the ground. Then the headstones are carved with the military members stats and then placed facing the front of the grave-sites and then their spouses names are carved/placed facing the backs. Gail is survived by her Veteran husband, Mike and until he joins her here, in their final resting place, then her stone faces front.
The cemetery was fairly new when my Dad passed and it has really developed with a Chapel, walking paths, flowers and memorials.
Every afternoon the bells toil as the flag is lowered and the cemetery becomes a very peaceful, meditative place to come. My sister lives close by so that she comes by often and walks her little dog, Bella.
After visiting the cemetery we headed back into town and stopped by a local Pizzeria where we were joined by by nephew Ryan and his Hog ;) It was good to sit for a bit and we all enjoyed the best Fish & Chips...yummy...I want more now ;) It was a short visit, but a memorable one, back to New Hampshire.
Which we started having second thoughts about...after our departing flight was canceled in Raleigh (after sitting for two hours in the plane on the tarmac)...and then realizing that we were actually flying on the 13th...oh yeah! Originally we were suppose to arrive in Manchester, NH by 1:30pm...but after several flight cancellations (due to the bad weather in NY and PA) we changed our final destination to Boston, MA where my sister picked us up and we drove directly to Dracut, MA for the wake. There was over 1,000 people who came to the wake to pay their respects to the family. It was scheduled to end at 8:00pm...which is when we finally got there! Not to worry though...because the line was still wrapped around the outside of the building and we didn't get in to see the family until 9:30pm...again...this was a testament to Dean's life!
Our last evening at my sister's house was a big slumber party...that was more slumber than party...we were all worn out from traveling as well as emotions. My nephew, Ryan, had to be up and out before 5:00am for his job and so we all said good night by 11:00pm. The rest of us needed to be up and on the road by 9:30 so that we could catch our flight in Manchester. We made our flight without any problems and we landed in Washington for a connecting flight...THEN we had ISSUES...LOL The ELECTRICITY was out in our terminal at the airport and for over two hours our flight was delayed. Oh well...not to worry...I had a book to read and DH was busy watching CELEBRITIES...LOL
THEN I looked up and when they walked him from the VIP area to his gate...I pulled out my camera and took some photos for the woman because she only had her cell phone and the photos were coming out blurry. SO I emailed the photos to her...too funny! This was the end to a very fast and eventful week, to say the least! I'm still very blue about losing Dean and I'm going to be taking a bloggigng break for a bit to just sit and feel my emotions and to get my head around it. Until then, my best to everyone.
Never get enough of the color orange...this just makes me want to go back here:
July 2008, Summer Vacation with DH ...I want to stay here again! Needless to say...lots of pink...and I'm not "Pretty Woman"...but this room was so comfortable we didn't want to leave...DH can not survive on wine and "such" 24/7...
...all's I want to do is soak in this tub...
Sunday morning was our last morning in Pittsburgh with Tim and Ashley and we decided to celebrate our Christmas that morning. We all slept in and stayed in our pj's as we came down for a late breakfast and coffee and tea. Once we were all somewhat awake...we gathered our presents and cards to open them as we stayed warm with blankets in the living-room. Please note...no one took showers so we look a little "rough" to say the least...Tim looks like "Crammer" from friends...so funny :}
Also...note to self...please remove all "distractions" from the wonderful photo opps...like in this photo...i.e., the bright orange "level" in the background and the purse and stuff on the coffee table. It's just amazing what you do not see when you originally look through the camera lens...you tend to narrow your focus on the subject and forget the entire scene which the camera actually "brings" into focus for you once you load your prints.
Here, Ashley opens up her scarf and "mittens"...they are actually these great gloves that have the fingers exposed for completing tasks and then they have this neat little "mitten" that covers the fingers when you need the warmth...a little button holds the mitten flap back out of the way when you need to use your fingers...like when you need to answer your phone or use your keys, etc. Cool beans...I got Tim and Ashley each a set.
Another great shot...NOT...
Don't you just love it when they cover their faces with the "gift"...lol
It is a collage, in a shadow box frame, of Tim at NC State during his Senior Year and his Graduation. Here's a photo of the "T" monogram with it for his office walls...to go with his diploma that he had framed:
Next up is a photo of Ashley opening up their "Vera Bradley" gift box...
Previously, I had gotten Ashley the "cambridge" pattern and wanted to get them more bags that would coordinate with this pattern...so I got them a "large duffel", a "clear travel pouch", a small "jewelry case", a "zip ID Case" and a "tech case".
Of course we exchanged gifts...but I would not let anyone take my photo without having had a shower or make-up...ugh! So that's why you don't see any photos of Kevin and myself...but we had a wonderful morning of exchanging gifts and we spent the rest of the day watching movies and playing Kismet. It was such a relaxing day with "hot turkey sandwiches" and all the leftovers from our Thanksgiving Dinner.
Needless to say, I was very sad to say goodnight, because I didn't want the time with them to end. Tim had to go to work the next morning...so I got up to give him one last hug before he went off to work. Then Ashley drove us to the airport and we were back home here in Charlotte, Monday afternoon before dark. Can't wait to see my "babies" again...THANK YOU so much Tim and Ashley for such a great time in your new home...love you! Mom and Dad
Saturday morning we woke up to snow that was just "spitting" and making the ground wet but not actually sticking to it...however, it did collect on the trees and bushes and made all the "dull" surfaces sparkle. We decided to play "tourist" for the day and went into the city to the PHIPPS Botanical Gardens where I had read about the "Life in the Gardens" exhibit that featured hand blown glass by the Italian artist, Hans Godo Fabrel. It was a great way to see the city and we parked and walked on the "Carnegie Mellon" campus and saw all the beautiful, old buildings that had great architectural features. Holiday decorations were up everywhere, so I grabbed a photo of Tim & Ashley in front of the PHIPPS Christmas tree:
Once inside, we were all pleased with the "Fabrel" glass displays. All throughout the "gardens" there were hand blown glass flowers, fairies, sprites, amphibians and aliens...it was very cool.
Next up, the "visitors" are heading back to their geometric "ships"...which are large glass cylinders, connected and constructed into large cubes...that appeared to have landed and "rolled" into their settings in the gardens .
Here we stopped and posed for a group photo...the lighting and the lush backgrounds through-out the gardens are great for all photos...I took over 100 while we were in the gardens.
Then we came around the corner to the open atrium and found this AMAZING structure suspended from the glass ceiling...just unbelievable. This piece must weigh a ton and it was over 20 feet tall...it reminded me of the Murano Glass Factory in Venice...beautiful.
The best part of the whole exhibit, for me, was "Balancing" which is a play on "Frabel's" famous clowns. This installation consists of 13 clowns balancing on large, brightly colored, spheres that freely float on the water. It was also "interactive" were you, as a visitor, can participate by pressing buttons on a control panel to make the the "fountains" squirt up and gently move the beautifully "reflective" spheres and clowns around the pond. The message here was: "to enjoy life as it is one big carnival".
After we finished touring the gardens, we headed out to find a place to enjoy dinner and we found a great restaurant close to Tim & Ashley's home called "Pittsburgh Chops". It is a locally own/managed steak and seafood restaurant (not a chain...yeah!) that has a great atmosphere and menu. However, it did remind us, very much, of "The Palm" restaurants with their cartoon caricactures of sports legends (mainly Steelers) on the walls and the cigar/pipe smoke that came "wafting" in from the bar into the dinning room...thank goodness we were all done eating and that we were just finishing up our coffee and wine.
We had such a wonderful time, and now,Tim and Ashley have a great place to go for a romantic dinner or to take Ashley's family when they come visit over the Christmas holiday.
Once the holiday rush was over with all the "black friday" sales and the Thanksgiving travelers had returned home and cleared the airports and highways, Kevin and I grabbed our bags and flew north to Pittsburgh, PA to celebrate our Second Thanksgiving with my son, Timothy and his wife, Ashley and my niece Cortney and her husband Carl.
We arrived on Wednesday night and found the weather to be only a few degrees cooler in Pittsburgh than what we left in Charlotte. Tim & Ashley have a lovely two-bedroom town-home is a great neighborhood just minutes from Tim's work at the airport and from downtown Pittsburgh where there are lots of colleges and cultural activities.
The next morning, Thursday, we slept in and spent the morning relaxing and catching up with Tim & Ashley. Then we made an afternoon of browsing at IKEA and eating their famous "Swedish Meatballs" in the cafe...when we took a much needed break. Had so much fun there gathering all kinds of great storage ideas for our new "smaller" home in Raleigh. I was "dizzy" looking at all the armoires and storage containers...fabulous!
Ashely and I decided that these plastic bins would be great for "switching" out your seasonal clothes from storage...just throw a label on the container and you are good to go: spring/summer to fall/winter.
Sorry if these are a little blurry...DH took these with his cell phone :} Then I went crazy when we got to the bathrooms because I'm looking for shelving and a new mirror/medicine chest...when I got to the kitchens it was all over...I died and went to heaven...lol
Then on Friday we stayed home and prepared the turkey and all the trimmings during the day while we waited for Carl & Cortney to arrive once they got out of work that day.
Now it was time to open up the champagne to toast the holiday and Tim & Ashley's new home.
Ashley said "grace" and Tim gave the "toast" as the hosts in their new home.
Once we finished eating, Ashley & Tim pulled down the "stockings" that they had hung, for all their guests, as a holiday "favor".
See the stockings here, hung in the kitchen...this was a continuation of a tradition that Tim & Ashley started when they were in college...they would give each other stockings to open for their own, intimate Christmas before traveling home to spend the holidays with their families over the school break.
ohhh...Carl got truffles...he's hiding them from Cortney...maybe he'll share them with her later...Chocolate is a commodity in their household...they barter for personal "favors"...lol
We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and making room for the NY style Cheesecake that Tim baked with fresh strawberries...it was so good...my favorite....I like my fork to stand up in the cheesecake...none of that whimpy "jello" or "cheesecake factory" soft stuff! It was after midnight before we'd let Carl & Cortney go home...poor Cortney had to get up to go to work at the restaurant (her second job) all day Saturday. So we said our goodbyes and went to bed feeling very, very thankful :}