Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Girl Trip!

Last night I met one of my baking heroes.   The Cake Mix Doctor!  LOVE her.  Her Cake Mix Doctor book, out of the 50 or so cookbooks I own (its a sickness), is the most covered with food on my favorite pages.  I know it seems a little silly, but I really wanted to see her in person, and I was not disappointed.  This lady is just so excited about food.  She has a new book out that's got 200+ recipes that are easy and portable for potlucks.  And these aren't your average potato salad, deviled egg-type recipes (although those are in there too).  These are show stoppers.  These are the food you bring when you want to be the one at the party whose plate is completely empty at the end of the night.

Anyway, so I'm a little food dorky, but I totally had a great time last night.  AND they had free food from recipes from her book!  Lucky me.

Its about time that I blogged my Florida trip.  This last Christmas my Grandma planned on coming to visit us, but she wasn't quite up to it.  Last year was so incredibly hard on everyone with my mom being sick, but I can't imagine how hard it was on my mom's family who live so far away.  My Grandma hadn't seen her since she was first diagnosed with Leukemia.  That's why my parents decided that my mom should go to Florida and that I should go with her.  You know, to make sure she kept out of trouble.  :-)

So my mom and I set off on a girl adventure.  I'd always wished we could take a trip together, but I never thought it might actually happen.  And better then that, for the better part of the trip it was just my mom, my grandma, my aunt, and me.  All ladies!  And boy did we do it up.  We went from delicious food to delicious food, spent plenty of time by the water, saw some touristy stuff, and we even got to have dinner in the dining room of my Grandma's retirement community with all her girlfriends!  

I'm ashamed by the fact that I spent a fraction of that precious time being crabby because I am just not used to moving at anything less then lightning speed on vacation.  But I just know I'll forever be appreciative of the gift of time that I got with the ladies in my life.  As promised, pictures...

My mom on an early morning walk on the beach. After we had breakfast on the beach:

These are some sponge-diving ships at Tarpon Springs, North of where my relatives live. Tarpon Springs is a must on every trip we make because its an entirely Greek community, which means the food there is to die for. Here's my mom, my aunt and me at Tarpon after some coffee and people watching at the docks:

We headed over to St. Pete's pier for some of the most delicious Spanish food I've ever had. The Columbia on the 3rd story of the Pier is so, so good, and the view is just as good as the food. Hilariously, there was a small group of Ron Paul revelers on the Pier who were holding their signs overhead like they were showing them to the sky. Turns out they were. A Ron Paul BLIMP kept buzzing the Pier.

After lunch we stopped by the floating chapel:

You can rent that thing out for weddings, and it looks just like a chapel on the inside. Nutso.

Besides all the eating out with the girls, my cousin invited me to watch football w/ the boys one night. Which I did happily because it meant beer drinking w/out offending anybody. :-) My cousin's backyard looks like a beach bar! Here's a picture from the last visit I made out there:

Awesome, right? Mark is known for his superior BBQ skills, and he didn't disappoint on this trip! On football night he made me grilled scallops, stone crab claws, and I stole a bite or two of steak from the plates around me. The next night he made us grouper sandwiches that I'm drooling now just thinking about.

The other big part of the trip was the boat ride to a popular waterfront beach restaurant for She Crab Soup and conch. OMG. Frenchy's has a boat valet! Can you imagine that life?

But what I'll take with me about this trip was the time I got with my mom, her sister, and their mom....

Monday, January 21, 2008

On blogging

Yeah, yeah, haven't blogged for over a month. I think as soon as I escaped the clutches of NaBloPoMo I just went crazy with the non-blogging. Christmas shopping! Family obligations! Photo obligations! Vacation! More vacation! Crazy work stuff! The first thing to go is the blogging. The second thing to go is the photography-for-fun.

The other day I went on a hunt for a picture I KNOW I have of my mom when she was younger. I know I put it somewhere on my blog. Its there. I can't find it. I probably could have found it if I hadn't gotten so wrapped up in reading my own blog. I used to blog for the sole purpose of trying to be entertaining and to try to pick up a following of some sort. Really, who doesn't read Dooce and dream of some day making a living writing about themselves? But now I can't believe how much I appreciate the time I took to write down what was going on in my daily life because I swear I read thing from 2 years ago and go "Huh, I don't even remember that!" . So I guess the point is, even though I've gotten comments and emails from a few people asking what's up with me, the point of this is, some day 2 years from now I'll be glad I wrote about what I did over the Dec-Jan of 07/08. Right? Anyone else read back on what they wrote?

In that vein, I think its about time I took the time to put down all that's gone on in the last month or so. Its been a totally life-changing time for us. Ryan got the new job, but to say he 'got a new job' just doesn't tell the whole story. Firefighting is a way of life, and where before he was working for a private company ("Fire for Hire") and treated like a piece of crap that could be thrown wherever they needed, now he is one of 20 or so firefighters who are starting a whole new city department. He's getting brand new equipment (no hand-me-downs for running into fires!), he's getting PAID, he has RETIREMENT, but more then all of that, he's getting respect from his department and firefighters from other departments. Two months ago the same city firefighters who thought Ryan and his crew were pieces of shit who didn't warrant a civil conversation are now throwing welcome picnics and visiting the station to shake their hand.

And how does that affect me? I have a happy husband, we're saving money because we can actually put him on his own insurance (and he has retirement!!), I get him one more day a month (he works less time w/ the new schedule!), and his department is so small that I know everyone and their wives and kids. The bad (which I'm sure I'll get used to): the schedule doesn't work as well for us (we used to have every other full weekend together, now we get it about once every month), I can't ride anymore (I used to be able to just jump on the engine when they got calls).. Uh, that's it. Small price to pay! Ryan is just so happy. He feels like a REAL firefighter.

OK, so besides that (did I lose everyone?), I've gone on two trips in the last month. Ryan and I ran off to San Diego after he quit his last department and before the New Year. People ask us all the time why we don't have kids yet. Uh, because of this kind of trip. We just ran off, it was just the two of us, and we had a blast. We did the San Diego Zoo (new baby panda!), SeaWorld, the USS Midway, and Temecula wine country (what a waste!). Pictures coming your way...

The San Diego Zoo has an Animal Ambassador program that this cheetah belongs to. This is 'his' dog. They've been together since they were babies and live together (almost) 24 hours a day. They sleep together, play together, and work together but they don't eat together (I wouldn't want to either!). The dog helps the cheetah learn the obedience skills and acts as a security blanket when the cheetah is around people. There's two cheetahs and both of 'their' dogs were saved from shelters.

Not that you'd expect any less, but I have tons of pictures. I will save my pictures from my trip to Florida for another post. Yep! California and Florida in 2 weeks! I'm one spoiled girl...
At any rate, I hope your New Year has started off well. My resolution? Not to be a complete slack-off on the blogging. For my own good 2 years from now. Later!

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    Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

    I'm Amanda. I'm an engineer in an industry full of men, a professional wedding and family portrait photographer, a firefighter's wife, a traveler, and a dogMa.

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