Baron's 30th Birthday

Hi friends! Once again, it's been months since I've sat down to put fingers to keyboard and filled you all in on what's been going on.  We've been enjoying springtime in Alabama and traveling a lot as well.  Baron's been busy with work and I've enjoyed being PRN as my job. I've been working two days a week (instead of the regular full time of three shifts per week) and honestly feel like I'm on vacation all the time. I didn't expect to notice such a difference in cutting back only one shift per week, but it certainly has been noticeable. I feel like I enjoy my job more when I'm there, and that's got to be better for my patients!

Last month we celebrated Baron's 30th birthday with a quick weekend trip to New York City. I visited NYC for the first time back in 2008 with my Mom for a girls trip.  Baron had also been to NYC once before, back when he had a book published at the ripe old age of twelve. You can still buy it for until two bucks from Barnes and Noble: History Takes a Wild Ride.  We were excited to make this trip together to celebrate his birthday, after all, you only turn thirty once!

After arriving in New York City at around one o'clock and taking a quintessential, terrifying cab ride from the airport to Times Square we were starving. We decided to stop at the first place that looked decent and landed at Virgil's Barbecue.  The service was terrible, literally had to stalk our waiter in order to pay our bill, the diet cokes were flat and the barbecue wasn't very good.  We both walked away with a lesson learned.  Barbecue doesn't get much better than in Alabama. Period. We won't make that mistake again :)

After our barbecue disappointment we headed to Central Park and spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the huge park and just enjoying people watching. The weather was beautiful! We had dinner at Serendipity, where we surprisingly were able to walk in and be seated right away. Dinner was alright, but dessert was delicious!  We ordered a Salted Caramel Frozen Hot Chocolate, and it was so good.  We waddled our way home to our hotel, which did I mention was right smack dab in the middle of Times Square? We headed up to the thirty-something floor and didn't hear any of the craziness going on below us. I don't even remember laying down to go to sleep...Zzzzz!

The next day we enjoyed walking around Bryant Park in the morning. It's so fun to watch all the craziness of Times Square and surrounding areas at 8:00 AM on a Friday morning. There's just a constant buzz of excitement. From there we headed to Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Terminal, and ended the day at the U.S.S. Intrepid Museum. Cool stuff!

Tulips in Bryant Park

Baron doing a little shopping at Rockefeller Center

Grand Central Terminal

Planes aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid

On our second full day in NYC we decided to explore the rest of Central Park.  We enjoyed the beautiful weather again while we walked...and walked...and walked some more.  That park is huge! And beautiful! We had fun watching all the locals enjoy the beautiful park in the big city on such a pretty Saturday. After exploring Central Park we walked back to our hotel stopping along the way for some photo ops, which included a Boston Terrier sighting! We also made a pit stop at Levain Bakery, where we ate the best chocolate chip cookie that we'd every had in our entire lives. Yes folks, it was that good. I'm trying to convince Baron to let me order some online, but I have a feeling that once it happens once, it will be just as bad as one click shopping on Amazon. Bad, very bad.  We ended the day by visiting the Top of the Rock attraction at Rockefeller Center, for some beautiful views of the city at night.

The last full day of our trip was jam packed.  Our feet were aching and we were exhausted so we decided to ride the subway to the first stop of our day.  We spent the morning exploring Chinatown and Little Italy. We got some Bubble Tea and had lunch at a cute little restaurant in Little Italy. It was so good! From there we headed to the World Trade Center Memorial Site and were able to see the new memorial that is in place as well as the Freedom Tower which is still under construction.  It was a very moving experience to be there and see the beautiful fountains. When I traveled there in 2008, they were still cleaning up the site and there was a lot of construction going on.  What a transformation to see what has been built at the site since then.

Next we headed to Wall Street and to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. We grabbed a snack at the Wafels & Dinges food truck and ate the most delicious waffle ever! We walked the Brooklyn Bridge which was nothing like you see in the movies. It was packed with walkers, runners, bikers, people pushing strollers, people taking pictures, people selling stuff, it was insane! We decided to turn back at the halfway point after almost being run over by a biker in the pedestrian lane. It was a little intense, but it was so neat to walk over such a famous bridge.

A bright spot of color on Wall Street

Baron and the Wall Street bull

We had such a great time in New York City, but we were both ready to come back to Sweet Home Alabama. Things just move a little too quickly for our taste in NYC, so we decided next time we go back to the Big Apple we'll stay a little bit away from Times Square and explore the lesser known areas of New York.

We actually just got back from Hawaii for our anniversary trip, hopefully it won't take me a month to get our pictures up on the blog! We'll see! Hope you all have a great rest of the week. Keep on truckin', it's almost Friday!


Dallas in a Day

Last weekend Baron had a big surprise in store for me.  When I lived in Jacksonville, Florida I had always expressed an interest in driving to another state, in that case, Georgia, just to have dinner.  One night we were trying to come up with something to do and Baron suggested we jump in the car and head north for dinner.  By the time we got across the Florida/Georgia state line we were starving so we decided to stop at the first place we saw.  With each bite of delicious, fluffy pancakes at the IHOP, I crossed something off of my not-actually-written-down bucket list.

Boy was I surprised when, on Valentine's Day, I got a note that said Baron was taking me to lunch on Sunday at Wolfgang Puck's Restaurant called "Five Sixty"...in Dallas, Texas!  That's right, we were going to Dallas just for lunch, and we'd be back in time for dinner!  I was so excited. This was a major step up from our little trip to IHOP a couple of years ago.

Unfortunately my Grandma passed away on Friday afternoon after a few very rough weeks being in the hospital at the end of her battle with cancer.  After talking with my Mom we've decided to not have a service right away.  My Grandma wished to be cremated and her ashes spread in the ocean.  She wanted all of us to be happy and celebrate that she was in her Heavenly home.  My Mom lost her brother just a few short months ago and our family needs a little of bit of time before we are ready to celebrate, as my Grandma wished, when we lay her to rest.  For now, it is just too painful.  My Grandmother's faith was strong, she believed with all of her heart that when she died she would instantly be in the presence of the Lord and be healed.  I believe this too.  I have moments when I feel so relieved that she is at peace and no longer in any pain, and then moments where the sadness overcomes and I remember that I will not see her ever again on this earth.

We decided to go ahead with our plans to go to Dallas on Sunday.  I know my Grandma would've wanted us to go.  Texas was one of my Grandma's favorite places. She lived in Texas until I was born and she moved to Florida so that she could be closer.  I've heard many stories of my Grandma, in her younger days, living it up in Dallas.  It was a bittersweet coincidence that a few weeks ago, Baron randomly chose the city of Dallas for lunch that day.  I know God had a reason and a plan in every detail of my life. It was a nice distraction to be in Dallas for the day, I know that my Grandma would never want me to shed a single tear because of her.  I hope that she was watching down on us in our travels that day.

Our day started when our alarms went off at four o'clock in the morning.  Ugh.  The only part of the day that I was dreading.  It was surprisingly easy to hop out of bed and get ready for the day.  We made it to the airport in plenty of time and were through the security checkpoint just minutes after arriving.  How nice it was to not have a single bag to check or tote around the airport. Just my purse! 

We had a blissfully uneventful trip to Dallas.  The skies were beautiful and I had a wonderful sense of peace as we floated above the clouds.  We grabbed a cab right outside the airport in Dallas and were on our way to the restaurant. We had a little bit of time to kill before our 11 o'clock reservations so we explored the Hyatt Hotel next to the restaurant and even walked around downtown for a bit.

The restaurant in a revolving restaurant located in the top of Reunion Tower.  It was fun to know that my Mom and my Grandma had eaten there many years ago.  Did you notice there wasn't a cloud in the sky?  When we left home it was 28 degrees!  It was a warm 72 degrees in Dallas, and felt so good to walk around without a jacket.

After walking around the nearby downtown area we realized that there were a lot of people out and about for it being a Sunday morning.  Then we realized that we were in Dealey Plaza, the place where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in the early 1960's.  In the photo below you can see the Texas School Book Depository Building, where JFK's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, fatally shot the President from the sixth floor window.

In the next photo you can barely see, at the base of the streetlamp, a small white "x".  This was where JFK was when he was assassinated while driving down Elm Street.  We didn't have enough time to visit the museum now located in the Texas School Book Depository Building but both Baron and I decided that we'd love to return to Dallas to visit for longer next time.

Before we knew it it was time for brunch.  The restaurant in located 560 feet above the ground in giant sphere that rotates.  Baron and I have eaten in a rotating restaurant before, the one in Dallas seemed to rotate a bit faster.  I found myself a little dizzy if I turned my head quickly.  We started brunch with delicious mimosas and a beautiful view of Dallas.

Brunch was delicious!  It was a tapas style, Asian inspired brunch and we tried a bit of everything.  My favorite was a Crispy Eggplant dish, tasted a little more Italian inspired but it was really good.  Of course the Yuzu Cheesecake Brulee was another favorite. Let's start with dessert, shall we?

Yuzu Cheesecake Brulee with Blueberries and Burnt Honey

Sea Scallop Sui Mai with Lobster Emulsion

Crispy Eggplant

After lunch we hopped in a cab and made it to the airport right on time.  We had another uneventful flight back home and were happy to sleep in our own bed that night.  The dogs were a little bit confused that we didn't go to work that day ;)  We decided this might be our new "thing".  Next time...Chicago!