Thursday, July 23, 2015

bachelorette and bourbon

My friend and former college roommate Julie is getting married in August, and I was excited to be invited to her bachelorette party in Louisville a couple weeks ago. I drove in Friday, and picked up my friend Bethany from the airport on the way to our lodging for the weekend. The girls who helped plan the party found an amazing house for rent on Airbnb, which is a website for people to rent out their homes, apartments, or extra rooms. There were plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate almost a dozen girls who all needed to primp for a night on the town, and the location was conveniently close to the popular Highlands area which is packed with bars, restaurants, etc. Also, I highly recommend having a graphic designer as one of your party planners... the invitations were beautiful! We stayed in Friday evening with pizza, drinks, and lots of catching up and college reminiscing. Hopefully we didn't bore Julie's high school friends too much!

Saturday morning, we walked to brunch at El Camino, a nearby Mexican restaurant. I can honestly say it was the first time I've had chips and salsa as an appetizer before pancakes! We showed off our matching sunglasses, which were perfect for such a bright sunny day.

cozy birdhouse | julie's bachelorette party

Later in the afternoon, we went to downtown Louisville for the Evan Williams Experience speakeasy tour. A gentlemanly bartender served us samples of various Evan Williams bourbons in a basement bar, while educating us about the history of prohibition and its impact on the city of Louisville. The bartender admitted that he much preferred having a bachelorette party on the tour than his usual group of rowdy bachelor parties! I enjoyed the history part much more than the bourbon (as I'm not a huge fan of liquor in general), but I did buy a bottle from the gift shop as a souvenir for Dan.

cozy birdhouse | evan williams experience for julie's bachelorette party

cozy birdhouse | evan williams experience for julie's bachelorette party

After a stop back at the house to freshen up and change clothes, we caught an Uber (see how trendy with are with our Airbnbs and Ubers?) to a restaurant called Feast for a hearty BBQ dinner. We followed dinner with bar hopping to various spots around the city. I particularly liked one bar called "garage", which was an old converted gas station/garage. Very trendy, fun, and smelled amazing due to the big basil plants growing outside!

Saturday morning, we said our goodbyes, and I drove home. I'm excited to see everyone again in a month for the wedding!

Friday, July 10, 2015

a post about running

Running has been taking up so much of my time lately, I decided it deserves its own post. I signed up for a half-marathon in August, and I've been steadily increasing my mileage with the help of a training app on my phone. I hope to get back to my knitting and crafting when I've tackled those 13.1 miles! In the meantime, here is my list of the pros and cons of running:


CON: It's boring. So boring.

PRO: It gives me a lot of time to think, daydream, and listen to music. I finally downloaded the Overdrive app so I can check out and download audio books from my local library straight to my phone. Now I can exercise my body and my brain at the same time! The app is available for tons of libraries... highly recommend it! I just finished "Death Comes to Pemberley" by P.D. James and have started "Yes, Please" by Amy Poehler.


CON: You can spend a TON of money on it if you're not careful. Even though old gym shorts and free t-shirts work just fine, it's hard not to covet those adorable coordinated outfits in the windows at lululemon. This is why birthdays are awesome! For my birthday last month, my family sent a package with some cute workout clothes, and Dan gave me a water bottle with a carrying strap and an arm band for my phone. (He also gave me a set of off-sized measuring cups, like 2/3 cup and 3/4 cup, that I've been eyeing for over a year. The 1/8th cup is my favorite... the perfect size for little pancakes!)

PRO: The up-front investment is pretty low... no expensive equipment, gear, or lessons. Only a decent pair of running shoes is needed! I bought a pretty pair of black and teal Mizunos. I like them because their logo is a roadrunner, and I appreciate any excuse to have a bird printed on my clothes.


CON: I can't shut up about it. I apologize to everyone I've talked to since April. If our conversation lasted longer than 3 minutes, I'm sure I brought up running at some point. In my defense, it's taking up a huge portion of time, so I haven't had much else to discuss.

PRO: I have something to talk about with my friends and coworkers who are also into running!


CON: It's hard. Sometimes it hurts. I don't like doing it.

PRO: I feel good afterwards. Plus, my stuffed animals are so proud of me! Baby Hulk made this sign for me after my 9 mile run, and the knit bunnies were so excited when I finished 10 miles.

cozy birdhouse | baby hulk is so proud of me!

cozy birdhouse | the knit bunnies are so proud of me!


CON: I've probably gained weight. I get hungry and eat a lot.

PRO: I feel healthier. I eat my favorite buffalo chicken sandwich from Which Wich with no regrets. I felt no guilt indulging in a few drinks last weekend at Howl At The Moon, a dueling piano bar. Dad organized it as a belated Mother's Day gift to mom!

cozy birdhouse | family at howl at the moon


Just a few more long runs until I reach my goal. I am counting down the hours/miles!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

the florida vacation, act 3

Don't forget to read Act 1: The Wedding and Act 2: The Trip to Universal Studios!

Act 3: The Beach
Setting: Grand Plaza Hotel, St. Pete Beach
Cast of Characters:
CAITLIN, relaxed, lazy beach bum in her late 20s
DAN, her husband


Scene 1: The Drive, Wednesday (Caitlin and Dan drive to St. Pete Beach for a short vacation, just the two of them.)
CAITLIN: Did that road sign just say there is a Wawa ahead? We don't have those at home, and I know you love them! Do you want to stop??
DAN: Yes!
(Scene ends with Caitlin and Dan enjoying delicious sandwiches... and the unexpected surprise of finding a Wawa in Florida.)


Scene 2: The Beach, Thursday (Caitlin and Dan are laying on the beach)
CAITLIN: Let's take a beach walk. What are these weird birds that keep skimming their beaks through the top of the water and snagging fish?
DAN: Look! A whole roped-off nesting area for them. They are Black Skimmers.
CAITLIN: Oh my gosh. Look at the tiny baby birds!!!!! They are sooooooo cute.
(Caitlin rushes back to hotel for camera, and scene closes with her taking an absurd number of photos of the baby birds)

cozy birdhouse | black skimmer at st. pete beach

cozy birdhouse | baby black skimmers nesting at st. pete beach


Scene 3: The Beach, Friday (Caitlin and Dan are swimming in the waves)
CAITLIN: Find me a cool shell
(Dan digs around with foot in sand)
DAN: Bam! Got one! Check out this cool clam.
CAITLIN: Yayyyyyyyyyyy!
(Scene closes with Caitlin taking a clam selfie)

cozy birdhouse | clam selfie!


Scene 4: The Florida Aquarium, Sunday (Caitlin and Dan stop at the Florida Aquarium on the way back to Orlando to catch their flight. They tour the aquarium enjoying all the cool birds, reptiles, fish, sharks, and other sea creatures.)

cozy birdhouse | me and dan at the florida aquarium

cozy birdhouse | roseate spoonbill at the florida aquarium

CAITLIN: You know what was my favorite part of the aquarium?
DAN: What?
CAITLIN: The birds.
DAN: (rolls eyes and smiles) Of course.
(Scene closes with Caitlin and Dan arriving home both energized from a busy vacation and refreshed from such a relaxing time at the beach! Curtain.)


cozy birdhouse | us at st. pete beach, drinking local brews

Friday, July 3, 2015

the florida vacation, act 2

Don't forget to read Act 1: The Wedding!

Act 2: The Trip To Universal Studios
Setting: Universal Orlando Resort
Cast of Characters:
CAITLIN, woman in her late 20s, obsessive Harry Potter fan
DAN, her husband
EILEEN, DAD, Dan's parents
TIM, COLLEEN, Dan's siblings
KEVIN, Colleen's boyfriend


Scene 1: Monday (Universal Islands of Adventure Theme Park. Caitlin and Dan are joined in Orlando by Eileen, Dad, Tim, Colleen, and Kevin on Sunday following The Wedding [Act 1]. Vacation was planned by Dad as an early celebration of his birthday in July.)

CAITLIN: I am obsessed with Harry Potter and I am thrilled to be back at Universal Orlando since I missed the opening of Diagon Alley by only a month when we visited last year!!!!!!!!
DAN: Ok. Calm down.
CAITLIN: I cannot calm down!!!! I am too excited!!!! Harry Potter!!!!!!!!!
(Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade Village is explored. Fun is had by all, despite some unfortunate adverse reactions to the weird screen/motion rides throughout the park.)

cozy birdhouse | family at the wizarding world of harry potter

CAITLIN, DAN: Time for water rides!
(Cast rides Jurassic Park, Dudley Do-right, and Bilge Rat Barges all in a row)
CAITLIN, DAN, EILEEN, DAD, TIM, COLLEEN, KEVIN (FAMILY): We are soaked, good thing it's 95 degrees out!
(Family continues exploring park, riding coasters. Caitlin enjoys a butterbeer with lunch in Hogsmeade. More rides, including taking Hogwarts Express to other park to see Diagon Alley, the new Harry Potter feature.)
CAITLIN: (In awe) It's amazing... London and Gringott's and Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes and Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream and The Leaky Cauldron and Knockturn Alley and everything!!
(Caitlin laments that she is not a wizard and spends the afternoon pretending to be one in Diagon Alley.)

cozy birdhouse | diagon alley at the wizarding world of harry potter

(Scene closes with exhausted family enjoying dinner at Margaritaville in CityWalk area)


Scene 2: Tuesday (Universal Studios Florida Theme Park)

CAITLIN, DAN, DAD: We got to the park early to ride the Harry Potter Escape from Gringott's ride, but it is currently down. Oh well, we can ride it later. (walk to Minions ride instead)
DAD: That was my favorite ride here! Let's wander over to the Simpsons area.
CAITLIN: Hey look! Let's get our picture taken with them!!

cozy birdhouse | us with the simpsons!

(Caitlin, Dan, and Dad are joined by Eileen, Tim, Colleen, and Kevin who have rallied for Day 2 fun)
FAMILY: We are tired, but we fight through the exhaustion!! Let's ride more rides, especially the Men In Black ride where you get to shoot aliens! Yay!!

cozy birdhouse | men in black ride at universal studios

(Scene closes with Family saying their goodbyes in hotel lobby the next day. All agree the trip was a success and tons of fun!)


Stay tuned for Act 3: The Beach!!!

cozy birdhouse | us at universal studios

Thursday, July 2, 2015

the florida vacation, a play in three acts

We took a great vacation mid-June. Ten days in Florida divided into three almost entirely different vacations... And here it is, presented in the form of a poorly-written three act play!

Act 1: The Wedding
Setting: Gaylord Palms Resort, Orlando
Cast of Characters:
CAITLIN, wedding guest in her late 20s
DAN, her husband
JOE, groom and coworker of Caitlin
ROSHNI, the beautiful bride
WEDDING GUESTS: KATHY, JASON, CARL, and BETH, other friends/coworkers and associated spouses also attending the wedding


Scene 1: The Sangeet, Friday Evening (Ballroom at the resort. CAITLIN, DAN, and other WEDDING GUESTS are attending their first Hindu wedding, including the Sangeet on Friday which involves lots of singing/musical performances from the bride and groom's family and friends.)

JOE: Hi everyone!
CAITLIN, DAN, KATHY, JASON, CARL, BETH: Hi Joe! Let's take a group picture!
(Group picture is taken)

cozy birdhouse | the sangeet before joe and roshni's wedding

DAN, JASON, CARL: Joe, your clothes looks so much more comfortable than our suits. We are jealous.
JOE: They are! You should be jealous! Did you see that there are artists here to decorate your hands with henna?
CAITLIN, KATHY: Oh? Is it only for Roshni and the bridesmaids?
JOE: No, it's for all the girls!
(Caitlin and Kathy exit. Food is served. Musical performances begin. Caitlin and Kathy re-enter holding their hands carefully so as to not smudge their henna.)

cozy birdhouse | henna for joe and roshni's wedding

CAITLIN, KATHY: Oh my gosh, look at all this delicious Indian food. They have our favorites: witch hats and maple balls.
(Other wedding guests roll their eyes at Caitlin and Kathy for not using the proper names for samosas and gulab jamun. Scene closes with wedding guests stuffing their faces with food.)


Scene 2: The Baraat, Saturday morning (Resort entrance. Wedding guests are waiting outside for Joe to arrive in a horse-drawn carriage. Up-beat Indian pop music blares from DJ booth.)

cozy birdhouse | joe arriving at his wedding (the baraat)

WEDDING GUESTS: There he is! This is so awesome and fun and silly!
(Joe exits carriage, dances awkwardly. Scene closes as wedding guests process with Joe to wedding venue in Resort atrium.)


Scene 3: The Hindu Wedding Ceremony, Saturday morning (Resort atrium)

WEDDING GUESTS: This set up is gorgeous. There are so many flowers... and fruits! Look at all the wedding guests watching the ceremony from their balconies. This is fun.
(Ceremony begins. Lots of Hindi chanting. Lots.)
WEDDING GUESTS: This has been going on a while. When does Roshni get to show up??
(ROSHNI enters, escorted by her maternal uncles)
WEDDING GUESTS: Oooooooh. She looks soooo pretty.
(Ceremony continues)

cozy birdhouse | joe and roshni's hindu wedding ceremony

WEDDING GUESTS: We are getting a little hungry. Oh look our programs have little baggies of trail mix in them!
(Ceremony continues)
WEDDING GUESTS: Ok, we are hungry again and we already ate all our trail mix... including the extras from the empty chair behind us. Wait, are the bridesmaids serving snacks? This is the best ceremony ever.
(Ceremony continues. Lots of "auspicious moments" occur. Joe and Roshni perform many symbolic actions. They see each other for the "first time" [not actually] when a screen separating them is dropped at the beginning of the ceremony. Joe holds Roshni's face and pretends to point out a star in the middle of the day. She pretends to see it. They play a game where they compete to pick up a ring from the floor first. Roshni wins. They pour rice on each others heads. Multiple times. Wedding guests giggle. Ceremony concludes and scene closes.)

cozy birdhouse | joe and roshni's hindu wedding ceremony

cozy birdhouse | joe and roshni's hindu wedding ceremony


Scene 4: The Catholic Wedding Ceremony, Saturday afternoon (Resort atrium, different location)

CAITLIN: Oh my gosh, Roshni is in a completely different, amazingly beautiful dress for this ceremony. And all the attendants are in tuxes and new dresses too!
(Indian man sitting behind Caitlin explains to his wife that for the Catholic ceremony, the wedding guests do not process in with the groom, but instead arrive early and wait in the chairs. Scene closes with Caitlin reflecting that this experience is introducing a lot of "firsts" for everyone involved!)


Scene 5: Cocktail Hour and Reception, Saturday evening (Resort ballroom)

CAITLIN, KATHY: If we don't see some Bollywood-style dancing at this reception, we are going to be very disappointed.
(Dinner is served. Speeches and toasts proceed as normal. Wedding attendants proceed to center of dance floor and perform elaborate Bollywood choreography.)

cozy birdhouse | bollywood-style dancing at joe and roshni's wedding reception

(Dance floor opens. Wedding guests dance and admire Roshni's third beautiful, elaborate dress. Fun is had by all. Scene closes.)


cozy birdhouse | me and dan at joe's wedding

Stay tuned for Act 2: The Trip to Universal Studios!!!