Sunday, November 20, 2011

Experienced autumn in central park

Oh Florida, how I love thee.  I am a born and raised Floridian.  We have 3 seasons - Comfortable, Hot and Hotter.  We get to wear jackets for about 1 week at the most each year which is why most of my jackets and boots were over 10 years old before I started working for a company that had restaurants in the mid-west.  I invested in a 'winter coat' for the first time last year.  I say these things because for most people, experiencing autumn is something that happens every year.  When they think of autumn, they probably think of the time of year that their yard is full of all those damn leaves that they have to rake right before the time of the year that their yard is full of all that damn snow they have to plow.  While a Floridian looks at is with these outsiders goggles thinking about all the beautiful colors the trees make combined with the crisp fall air that doesn't have a drop of humidity.

This year I got the opportunity to travel with my girlfriends to New York City for a weekend.  Merissa and I took advantage of being in the city and enjoyed all the touristy activities including taking a long walk in Central Park.  We traveled there in the middle of October and enjoyed the cool crisp air  and the beautiful trees turning colors.  It was my first experience as a 'leafer' and I did it with my best friend by my side.  I chose to only share a few photos on this site but the truth is Merissa had to deal with me taking a photo of every leaf I saw that was a different color besides green.  Oh look at that one!  You mean the one that looks exactly the same as the other 15 you took photos of?  How much longer are we going to do this (she wonders.)  Two hundred photos later...  It was the perfect way to check this off my list.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cooking Class with Betty

Tonight I was able to cross another thing off my list of 30 before 30 when I took my first cooking class with Betty.  We took an introductory cooking class at Publix Apron School where we learned to make several awesome summer treats.  It was a hands on class and I learned several new techniques as well as walked away with a few recipes that I am looking forward to trying out at home.  The class was a great first lesson and showed me that my passion for cooking has grown and I want to be able to take more classes in the future.

Our meal was quite a spread complete with maple glazed baby back ribs, shrimp roll, BLT pasta salad, baked beans and corn soup.  We finished it off with blueberry cobbler and homemade ice cream.  YUM!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Went on vacation with just my girlfriends

I was able to successfully cross another item off of my list this past weekend when I took a road trip with 10 other women to Key West.  I had a lot of reservations leading up to the trip because this was my first time traveling with some, and others I haven't traveled with since college.  I feared that the years of growth and maturity since leaving the sorority house could make the weekend uncomfortable, or lack luster.  As it turns out, when you get a group of women who all at one point partied together in college the result is that you try to party like you did together in college.

When most people think of the Florida Keys they think slow paced, relaxing getaway, laid-back, chill.  When you get a group of women together celebrating a bachelorette on the verge of entering married life the weekend could not be described using any of those adjectives.  We maximized our time by waking up early with a drink and hand and staying out until the bars closed down.  I didn't go fishing or snorkeling or see a show in Mallory Square - even though most of my vacations to the Florida Keys include all of those activities.  But I did see a lot of Irish Kevin's, Dirty Harry's, Fat Tuesdays and well you get the idea. 

As I began the drive back Sunday morning, slowly driving over the first bridge away from Key West hungover and groggy from the night before, I glanced in my mirror at the other women in my car who were all either sleeping or close to it and thought about what I am taking away from this short vacation.  I laughed so much that my cheeks were sore, I have a new Rolodex of silly inside jokes, I can still party like an 18 year old even though I recover like someone approaching their 30's, and I have an amazing group of women in my life who would do anything for me.  These memories are a small reminder of why these beautiful ladies are the people I want to spend time with.  This might be the first vacation I've ever taken with just girlfriends, but it certainly will not be the last.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

#36 Crossed off - Pay it Forward

I put on my list that I wanted to 'Pay it Forward.'  While I feel I can now cross that off my list, I also feel like this is something I should continue to do for the rest of my life.  I hope I remember the great feeling I had knowing that I made someone's day just by a small act of kindness.

One of my life's goals is to live my life as an example to others of what a Christian looks like though my actions, words and overall attitude.  One way I did this was by picking up people's coffee in Dunkin Donuts' and Starbucks' drive thrus.  When I would go to pay I would tell the cashier to give me the bill for the person behind me and then I handed them an envelope to give to the next driver.  In the envelope was a simple message:

Outside:  You are special... Smile!

Inside:  You have just been tagged.  Someone reached out to you with a random act of kindness.  Now it's your chance to do the same.  Do something nice for someone.  Leave this card behind and keep the spirit going!

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

I hope this can be a reminder to me that these actions help me feel closer to God, more connected to the other people around me, and humble me with the financial security I have been provided.

****Update****  I was with a co-worker going through the Starbucks drive through and went to go pay for our coffees when I saw another envelope sitting in my purse.  I took it as a sign and offered to pay for the coffees in the car behind me.  The next morning I looked on facebook and saw that a good friend of mine went to get coffee at the same Starbucks I was at and that the person in front of her bought her coffee and yogurt.  Now, there is no way to know for sure if it was the same person I treated 'paying it forward' but it felt great to know that there were others out there who felt the urge to give the same way I did.  I love watching God at work!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Found My Passion!

Philanthropy has always had a special place in my heart.  I have a bad habit of over extending my time and booking up my weekends so I never was able to commit to organizations that have regular meetings.  I always wanted to join something like Junior League but it never worked out, but I have found my calling! 

A few years ago a friend introduced me to an organization called The Spring.  They help women who are victims of domestic violence.  I was instantly attracted to it because my husband's mom works for the state helping domestic violence victims.  I've volunteered for things here and there for them but this year was my biggest commitment yet.  I actually sat on their committee for their First Annual Purple Gala!  I was in a group designated to finding silent auction donations.  I used my contacts through work and personal friends and was able to get 15 donation items all with over a $100 value.  The event was very successful and my donations were able to bring in $5,000 worth of revenue for the group.  They raised $100,000 that night and after expenses were able to give $85,000 to the organization. 

It felt so great to have an active role with the charity that I have now called that my second home and plan on dedicating my time and financial resources to supporting their amazing cause.