Monday, November 26, 2018

How to Throw the BEST Harvest Dinner / Friendsgiving Ever

Simply gather the following items and complete the following action items to dazzle your guests with your hosting and decorating skills.
  1. Wait until Fall 2019
  2. ground cover - I used this giant area rug I got for free on Craigslist (free)
  3. table - I made a low table out of four stacked pallets with a piece of plywood on top - the pallets were free from work and the plywood came from the hardware store (free + $20)
  4. seating - I used these pillows from inside my house (free)
  5. candles - I used empty beer bottles from my recycling bin - get a sister and a brother in law who like to drink beer and invite them over - you will have enough bottles in just one weekend visit - add candles from the dollar store ($4)
  6. plates - any will do, or you could cut a log into discs for extra points (free)
  7. table décor - forage for little pine cones, rocks, etc. - spray paint them a trendy color (free + $8 if you don't already have spray paint) - also use the fruit you bought for work lunches and place them around the table - then put them back in your lunch box (free) - don't be afraid to throw leaves on the table in a "random" pattern (free)
  8. silverware - I hope you already have this (free)

  9. dinner - you'll need to cook dinner for your guests! I made a pot roast in a crock pot and some baked apples - guests brought other dessert items ($30-$60-$90, I don't know your tastes)

  10. other lighting - its the fall, so it's going to get dark earlyish - don't forget to add lights above your spread - I used my xmas lights (free) and made these handy light holders to string them up - they are made from long 1.5x1.5 Alexandria molding, aka treated wood beams ($48 😬) with screw hooks at the top ($8) - they need be pretty far into the ground to hold the tension in the string lights - make it work

  11. don't forget to invite lots of friendly people! (usually free)

  12. only invite people who will come with cute babies - this is the most important part (free for you, expensive for the parents long-term) 

  13. time to eat! - watch adorable moments unfold (free)

  14. smile at how cute your friends are (free)

  15. try not to get baby fever - just try (free, but potentially expensive)

  16. watch everybody roll around (free)

  17. enjoy as your setup becomes even more magical in the dark (free)

  18. don't forget a lighter to light the candles! ($1)

  19. clean up tomorrow ♥ (free)

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Week in NOLA for Mardi Gras

In January I saw a post on my Facebook feed about cheap flights to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. My friend Alicia from college now lived in Cleveland and was looking for travel buddies. I reached out, we reconnected quickly via a quick phone call, and had a whole trip booked within a week. We ended up staying in two different AirBNBs and a hotel over four nights because it was most economical, but staying in multiple places in one trip is my new favorite way to travel.

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Monday night before Fat Tuesday was definitely my favorite night of Mardi Gras. We arrived around 3 pm, found our first AirBNB in Treme, got dressed in our costumes, and ventured out to Bourbon for a party and a Po Boy. We stayed out all night. The streets were packed, but not too packed. We saw lots of activities happening in public that you would otherwise get arrested for. We put money in G-strings, took shots in the street, collected our beads, instigated the protesters, etc. All in all, it was exactly what I had hoped for.

I don't have a ton of pictures from Monday night that I want to put on the internet, but here's one of me and my new friend. Super sweet guy.

FAT TUESDAY, February 28th, 2017

Tuesday we woke up in Treme, got ready, and walked to our new AirBNB in Faubourg Marigny. Surprisingly, most businesses were closed for Fat Tuesday. We were tired and hung over and just needed to eat. Thankfully The Spotted Cat was open and had a bunch of great brunch specials. We stayed in a boarding house above a karaoke bar called Kajun's Pub, and were warned by the Robin, the owner, that we probably shouldn't plan to sleep that night.

After resting up during the day, Alicia and I went out on the town for the big Fat Tuesday party on Bourbon. It was a lot like Monday night, but more of everything. We had a great time, and I'm pretty sure we had a drink in every single bar on Bourbon St. Robin was right about not sleeping. I forgot bars don't close at 2 pm everywhere.

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

I think Wednesday was a slow, chill day for everyone in New Orleans. By the time we rolled out of bed and ventured to our next location, the beads and trash from Fat Tuesday were mostly cleaned up. We saw lots of clearly-hung-over people and their luggage getting into taxis and Ubers as we walked down Bourbon St. Everyone seemed to be moving in slow motion. We were very pleasantly surprised by our hotel we got from an online booking site, where you blindly book a hotel in a vague area of a city. It was a relief to find out we were staying at the historic Prince Conti Hotel in the French Quarter.

Wednesday evening we went on a riverboat dinner cruise and were able to finally sit down to a full dinner service with some live jazz. It was a great, low maintenance way to spend the evening, as Alicia and I were both pretty worn out from two nights of Mardi Gras. Call us old... whatever.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thursday was another full day. We woke up early to get on a shuttle to the Bayou, saw some alligators, pet some alligators, etc. The alligator we are holding is a rescue alligator named T-Boy. He fell asleep in my hands like a little puppy. So sweet.

I was so into the Spanish moss all over the trees in the swamp.

For the rest of Thursday we walked around getting pleasantly day-drunk on some boozy slushies. At this point, I no longer felt weird about walking out of a bar with a drink. We watched live bands on the sidewalk, and then went to ACME for oysters and craw fish in the afternoon. I bought a CD wrapped in a paper bag from a band on Royal St.

Friday morning we flew back to Cleveland. From there I drove home to Pittsburgh listening to my paper bag CD, eating a grilled cheese from Melt, and planning the next big trip.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 Travel Goals

Last year around this time I decided to travel to a new place every month for the whole year. I wanted to write about it LAST January, when I first stole this brilliant plan from a guy I went on 1.5 dates with, but I didn't; because 2016 was not the year of motivation for this princess.

Lucky for you, 2017 is.

As 2015 was rolling to a close and I was stumbling around in the dark of winter with a certain pathetic desperation to find something to do with myself, I moved out of my parents house. This was my first attempt to shake things up a bit. Turns out, moving out wasn't so much of an adventure as it was a necessity. Anywho, I'm glad I was locked into a lease, because Plan B was to quit my job and move to a different state.... I chose to travel instead.

Did I complete my goal of travelling to a new place every month? Not really. Some of the places I went were not new to me. Some of them were not that far from home. Some months I skipped travel altogether, BUT I still feel like I had an amazing year of exploration; and as a bonus, I actually fulfilled a lot of old "I'll visit you" promises.

So here is 2016's travel lineup:

January - Philadelphia, PA and Washington, DC
February - Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls, Ontario
March - Dallas, TX
June - Miami and Key West, FL
July - No travel, too many pool parties
August - No travel, no excuse
September - Denver, Carbondale, Aspen, Breckenridge, CO and New York City, NY
October - Nashville, TN
November - No travel, needa down payment
December - No travel, BOUGHT A HOUSE

And here is 2016's road trip playlist:

Monday, May 16, 2016

West Coast Road Trip

This spring I flew to Las Vegas with my friends. We drove to LA, and then a few days later we drove down the coast to San Diego.

Sometimes the view from the air is my favorite part!

Chicken and Waffles for breakfast under the Eiffel Tower.

Kira and I decided to pass on the Beatles "LOVE" Show, so we walked around the strip. Our Starbucks names are Tara and Kari.

Me in front of the Bellagio.

Kira in Paris, and the ONE slots game we played. I put in $10 and walked away with $11. We spent the rest of the day saying "you'll shootcher eye out!"

The drive from Vegas to LA was gorgeous.

I FINALLY got to try In-N-Out Burger. A great life accomplishment.

We stayed in an AirBNB in Manhattan Beach. It was a GREAT little beach town.

We spent a lot of the first day in LA sight seeing.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica from our sweet tour bus.

We had dinner at SUR in Beverly Hills. It's a restaurant owned by one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. It was average.

Next we drove down the coast and stopped at a bunch of beaches.

We stayed in an AirBNB in La Jolla. Here's our view of Downtown San Diego from there.

View of Downtown San Diego from Coronado

Kira and I have been getting root beer floats on vacation together since High School, so we couldn't pass them up in Old Town.

I definitely want to go back and spend a lot more time on the West Coast. There's something about LA that gives me some serious FOMO!