Monthly Archives: December 2012

2013 is Happening

In spite of the Mayan prediction and yet another Christmas with the fam,  Danimal and I survived and will be ringing in 2013 tonight with friends. But, we really threw down the weekend of December 15, just in case that was the last weekend on earth.

Spend time here. Check.

Spend time here. Check.

We went to where all the end of the world rumors began, Tulum, Mexico, for the nuptials of our wonderful friends, Kristen and David. Having grown up in Texas, I have vacationed quite a bit in Mexico. And, I can say with confidence that Tulum is the best destination I’ve been to in the country. Perhaps it is the lack of all-inclusive resorts and the plethora of boutique hotels, but this place has authentic charm.

I'm moving to Playa Azul.

I’m moving to Playa Azul.

We stayed at Playa Azul, which also happened to be the location of the welcome party. Every room is different and there are a mix of beach and jungle view rooms. The food and service was personal and kind. (Note: This doesn’t mean fast… remember you’re in Mexico.)

Also, apparently pinatas are for adults now. Awesome.

Also, apparently pinatas are for adults now. Awesome.

Kristen and David are my travel idols. One of their favorite travel activities is scuba diving. That is how they initially discovered Tulum and they wanted their guests to have this experience as well. While we weren’t certified to scuba, they arranged for the wedding party and our loves to have a guided snorkeling tour of the Cenotes.

Cenotes Dos Ojos: "To the Baticueva!"

Cenotes Dos Ojos: “To the Baticueva!”

This is one of the cooler travel experiences I have had. It ranks up there with baby lions. And, I should preface this by saying that I don’t particularly enjoy snorkeling. The cenotes were formed when limestone bedrock collapsed exposing groundwater underneath. You aren’t there to look for marine life, but the underground stalactites and stalagmites are like nothing else I’ve seen.

The #1 thing my mouth tasted.

The #1 thing my mouth tasted.

I don’t want to forget the food on this trip. We could have done nothing but eat and that would have satisfied me. From the brick oven pizza at La Siesta to the steak and fish at Casa Banana, it would have been impossible to starve. But the hands down award winning bite of the trip, was the ceviche at Ak’iin.

No money. No problems.

No money. No problems.

I want to say a huge thank you to Kristen and David for allowing their wedding to be an adventure that included all of us.  And, when I say included all of us, I mean everyone. These cats wondered down the beach in between the ceremony and reception. I tend to think they are less stressed out than I am.

The Danimal and I lovin' us some Tulum.

The Danimal and I lovin’ us some Tulum.

The best thing about the world not ending on December 21 is that you can visit Tulum. Perhaps it can be one of your resolutions for 2013.

Photo credit: I don’t have a fancy underwater camera so the picture of the cenotes are from a cool website called BlooSee: Take the Ocean Further.

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Grown Up Christmas List

I love giving gifts which is one of the many reasons I enjoy the holiday season. I know there are some of you who haven’t purchased gifts yet – Dad, it is time to start. If you still need some ideas, here are a few inspired by the incredible places I was able to experience in 2012 – some for the first time.

For the Home

While I crave NOLA for the food, this year I discovered a fantastic local artisan that creates beautiful pottery. Pots-a-lot Pottery is located on a quintessential New Orleans street – Magazine, but you can also order online. It should be just fine as long as you don’t bake it above 4,000 degrees.

It is almost too pretty to use

It is almost too pretty to use

For the Taste Buds

Gourmet tasting baskets make great personal gifts. This year in particular we were able to experience so many good eats, I almost have a hard time knowing where to start.

Cheese, Glorious Cheese

It probably won’t make it in time for Christmas, but you can always start the trend of New Year’s gifts. The cheese from Reypenaer’s, in every variety, was some of the most flavorful I have ever had.

CHEESE!

CHEESE!

Some Drink

We visited De Halve Maan Brewery in Belgium and you can find some of their tasty brews in the states – in particular, Straffe Hendrick. (If you live in Atlanta, you can get this at Green’s.)

Where the magic happens

Where the magic happens

For the Experience Lovers

Vino

Few things relax me like good wine. Head up to the North Georgia mountains, for a tasting at Blackstone.

Good view + good wine

Good view + good wine

Shoot the Hooch

I grew up floating the Guadalupe River in Texas, but in Georgia they call it shootin’ the hooch. Head up to Helen for a relaxing ride.

Tube Time

Tube Time

For the Person Who Has Everything

American Red Cross

Y’all know how badly I want to live in New York.  The City and Jersey Shore are American treasures and landmarks that still need our help after Hurricane Sandy hit this October. Make a donation to aid the relief efforts in these states so they can come back better than ever.

bryant park

I Heart New York

Wounded Warrior

On a recent trip to Alabama, I got to see firsthand the meticulous detail that goes into the combat vehicles that protect our troops. However, many who return home have made incredible sacrifices and their lives have been forever altered due to injuries (seen and unseen) on the front lines. Support our troops this holiday season with a gift to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Heroes!

Heroes!

Happy shopping and Merry Christmas!

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Photo Friday: Perfection

I mean - gorgeous.

I mean – gorgeous.

It is 47 degrees in Atlanta right now, but the Danimal and I are here. Thank you, Tulum. Thank you.

(More details to follow when we return.

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An Order of Warm + Fuzzy. Fried, Please.

There are some places you visit that just make you feel warm and fuzzy. That’s why I love living in the South – you get that feeling a lot here. And generally speaking, the smaller the town the more warm and fuzzy it gets. People say things like “I know you don’t want a salad. You’re my cheeseburger baby.” Only in the South…

Downtown Anniston

Downtown Anniston

I’ve been in Anniston, Alabama this past week for work and dined with the team at Damn Yankees on downtown’s Noble Street. Don’t let the name confuse you, this place serves serious southern food.

The North turned South

The North turned South

The special was a butterflied filet, stuffed with cheese, beer-battered, fried, and smothered with sausage gravy. When my new colleague, Betty, ordered this, even the waiter admitted that he had not been brave enough to try it. That is when you know you made a strong order. Well played, Betty. (And, she said it was incredible.) My shrimp and grits were perfect, too. The grits were precisely how I love them- melting in my mouth.

Told you this was serious.

Told you this was serious.

We were in Anniston to work on a project for the Anniston Army Depot. When I initially learned about the project, I was intrigued. I had never worked on a project quite like this and was looking forward to the challenge. And, working at an army depot… what on earth would I wear? Clearly this could be an opportunity to expand the wardrobe.

The closest I will ever get to working for the CIA.

The closest I will ever get to working for the CIA.

While I can’t talk about the project, I’m pulling a sentence from Wikipedia, that any of you could access, because you all need to know about the important work they do.

“The depot is designated as the Center of Technical Excellence for the M1 Abrams Tank and is the designated candidate depot for the repair of the M60 Patton tank, AVLB, M728, M88 Recovery Vehicle and M551 combat vehicles. During the Iraq War, over 1,000 M1 tanks, howitzers and other armored vehicles were stored awaiting re-engineering.”

Our troops and their families have given so much. And I am so proud to say the people who work at the Depot- at EVERY level- work incredibly hard to ensure they are safe. No detail is too small to be important.

I’m already looking forward to seeing my new Anniston friends again in February.

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