See ya later, Texas (hopefully).

I’m sitting in the airport as I write this. We left the hotel at 4:30 AM expecting to catch a 6 AM flight, only to arrive at the airport to see our plane was delayed by FIVE hours. Thanks for the heads up United/American/US Airways. Five hours would have gotten me four more hours of sleep, a workout and breakfast. I would have been a lot more pleasant to those customer service agents I waited four, five, and two minutes*, respectively, to talk with — after, of course, the really fun game of yelling into the phone:

“What would you like to do?”

“Check reservations.”

“Ok, would you like to change existing or cancel?”

(Thought: Neither, I want neither of those options. I just want to know if I can get out of Texas.)

“No.”

“I don’t understand. Would you like to change existing or cancel?”

“Customer service.”

“It sounds like you want to talk to customer service, but what about these options?”

(Thought: Screw you, I want a real person.)

“CUSTOMER SERVICE.”

… and the phone goes silent. Repeat x2.

I’ve spent the last four hours reading, thinking about whether I want a parfait with 45 grams (!) of sugar or a suspicious looking egg patty on an oversized bagel**, updating my Pinterest boards, writing this and people watching. People watching can be fascinating, especially at airports.

One thing I will never, ever understand is why women wear heels in airports. I love a nice pair of heels, but you wouldn’t find me in even the most comfortable Clark wedges (Yes, I have Clarks. Don’t judge, they’ve really upped their game for the younger crowd). It’s just not practical when you have to walk a mile between terminals. I wonder who they are trying to impress — the pilot, TSA, fellow fliers? What happens when they have 5 minutes to catch their next flight and the terminal is in another state? I’m pretty sure running in heels is only safe for Hollywood (and even then, I wonder if they use stunt doubles — I would fall on my face). I just want to shout, “For the love of God, woman, wear some flip flops and change when you get there!”

So west Texas is flat. Like, really flat. And dry. And most unexpectedly, dilapidated. The landscape is littered with forgotten homes in states of unimaginable disrepair and businesses that look like they haven’t been touched since they were built in the 60’s. But the people are nice and they say things like “britches” and drink sweet tea. I’m happy they finally got some rain to give their crops some life. Something needs to look lively down here.

My greens report: I managed to eat something green every day we were here — and none of it was fried. Although I won’t lie to you, a lot of it came in the form of guacamole. Our options were basically Mexican, steak and potatoes or something fried — they don’t really do “light” meals in Texas***. I can’t wait to get home and eat an apple… a baked sweet potato… or brussel sprouts… or greek yogurt… hunger is setting in…

And our flight just got delayed another 70 minutes. American Airlines, we aren’t friends right now.

* I shouldn’t complain about the wait time. I’ve waited much, much longer for an airline customer service rep.

** Instead, I opted for Sabra hummus and pretzels. It was literally, the most unprocessed, edible looking thing in the airport (the banana-bread ripe bananas made me gag). But I’m getting hungry again and we haven’t boarded for our flight yet.

*** I did have something called Mexi-Cauli at The Crafthouse Pub in Lubbock (that place is amazing if you ever make your way down here). They used very small pieces of cauliflower (shredded or finely chopped) as the base, then added black beans, corn, pico, cheese, roasted chicken and avocado. I’m totally going to make this at home. Maybe I’ll even trick Jay into eating it. 🙂

What I Learned After the Wedding (and Honeymoon)

DSCN1221 We have survived the wedding — the paring down of the guest list, the invitation making, the arguing over registry items — and I think we still actually like (ok, love) each other. If you didn’t know, weddings can be stressful; it’s surprising that more people don’t get divorced before they even get married… But despite all of it, and because of some of it (ahem, the invitations totally set the mood for the event), we had the most beautiful wedding day. It’s unreal how fast the day goes. I know, everyone says that. But I spent the whole next day just trying to memorize every detail! A few things I learned from my wedding: • Get all of your addresses the first time around. We hand delivered a good amount of our save the dates. We saved on postage, but paid for it later when we were scrambling to get invitations out the door. • If you have any plans of DIY-ing your invites, order early. Like, six months early. Running into a deadline with invitations isn’t fun for anyone, especially when you have your future spouse complaining about how many circles he has had to punch (it was such hard work!). Needless to say we had a few choice words for each other during the process. • Have a close friend or relative take pictures. Because I didn’t want to start pictures at noon, I avoided doing a million formals, but after it was all said and done I realized I didn’t get a picture with my mom or my siblings. I also didn’t have any to show off immediately after the wedding! • I never say no to cute shoes, but guess how many people actually saw mine? Three. Well, eleven, if you count my bridal party, mom, and Jay. If you are going to buy a pricey pair, make sure you can wear them again. (I have high hopes that my gold ones will some day be seen again.) • Take home your flowers. You pay all that money for those pretty little things, don’t let them go to waste. Bring ice cream buckets, mason jars, plastic cups — whatever — and then take them home and share them with anyone that helped make your big day special. (We had a lot of help.) • Don’t OD on Pinterest. There are obviously a million and one cute ideas out there, but you have to pick what’s right for you. It’s about personalizing your day, not copying everyone else’s. • Spend the money on the dress. Even though I had a few guilt stricken moments before the wedding day, I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt once I put the thing on. (On a side note, don’t be worried about not feeling “the one” immediately. I probably tried on 60 dresses before I could confidently make a decision.) • Confirm things with your vendors. This is the last thing I wanted to do before the wedding, but wish I would have. We ended up with the wrong wines, miscommunications on bartenders and no champagne at the head table (unthinkable!). Not that any of these things took away from our day, but it’s stuff that could have been avoided. A few photos and comments from the honeymoon:

The ocean was pretty. I liked looking at it more than I liked being in it.

The ocean was pretty. I liked looking at it more than I liked being in it.

Doesn't get much better than this...

Doesn’t get much better than this…

It's fun to get dressed up for dinner, eat like a queen and drink as much as you want. (Which, let's face it, isn't that much for me.)

It’s fun to get dressed up for dinner, eat like a queen and drink as much as you want. (Which, let’s face it, isn’t that much for me.)

Can't complain about the view from the work out room. Hey-o!

Can’t complain about the view from the work out room. Hey-o!

Our paradise.

Our paradise.

Check out Jay's sunburn... and heat rash... hah, who needs to live in a bubble now?!

Check out Jay’s sunburn… and heat rash… hah, who needs to live in a bubble now?!

• I remembered why I don’t do buffets: I never feel like I am getting my money’s worth if I only get one plate. Of course I hate myself after I’ve had two. Ugh, it’s so miserable to over eat (except on Thanksgiving and Christmas, then it’s totally worth it). • In other countries Coke is made with real sugar and it’s soooo much better. After four days I broke down and opened up the mini bar. Bad idea. One Coke turned me into a bloated farting machine. I scored super sexy wife points for that. Not. • I had diarrhea the first day, constipation the last day. My body was basically saying, “You ‘F’ with me, I ‘F’ with you.” I got the message, loud and clear… plus another extra couple sexy wife points. • Lipliner and leathered skin have never, ever, EVER looked good on anyone. I hope the lady in the bedazzled Punta Cana skirt will figure that out some day. • I will never be able to pull off the “sexy, I just came out of the pool look”. How do those Bond girls do it? I just look like wet rat. With all these not-so-sexy points, you’re probably wondering what Jay was thinking. Too bad for him we already got the marriage license! Hah 🙂

Better Late Than Never

January 18-25 Queensland and New SouthWales

Friday we  flew to Brisbane and visited the Deere office.

Saturday we went to the (Steve Irwin) Australia Zoo. We saw alligators (one was over 80 years old!) and crocodiles; the African Safari (literally, I think… at least it felt like it, I may have been delirious at that point) with zebras, giraffes and a rhino; and of course, kangaroos and koala bears! Our first time through the kangaroo area we were a little apprehensive. There were no fences, only a few obvious rules, like don’t kick the kangaroos, don’t ride the kangaroos, etc. It seemed so strange that you could just walk up to a kangaroo and it wouldn’t just get up and punch you in the stomach.

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They look cute. Don’t be fooled.

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I think I make this face a lot, but koalas are mean little buggers when they aren’t sleeping.

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One lonely rhino.

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This time around we were brave enough to touch them. Barely.

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We went to the beach. We walked around Brisbane. We drove all over Australia. Blah blah blah… We flew home. I got food poisoning. It  was super awesome. Not.

LAX is the worst (just in case you missed that in the first AUS post).

 

Answers to your burning questions:

The food was actually quite good, but I was a little disappointed in the produce (it wasn’t nearly as good as M&S). I ate a lot of salmon. Gotta love those Omega 3’s!

No, I did not get a tan. I am no more a bronzed goddess than Snow White (nor will I ever be, let’s be honest).

I went through almost two bottles of sunscreen. Yes, dermatologists everywhere would be proud.

I learned some Australian slang. Budgie smugglers = speedos. HAH.

Australians are nice… and they like America. Win-win.

 

I Ate a Fly Today

There are flies everywhere in this part of Australia. EV-ER-Y-WHERE. The Aussies have even perfected a subtle two-handed wave to keep the flies out of their faces. I, on the other hand, did much more flailing. I’m sure it’s considerably less efficient, but I just couldn’t stand it; it’s hard to concentrate with things crawling all over you.

Today, as we were taking a picture in our cool safety vests at the dealership, Jake noticed a fly on Amye’s face. In slow motion it went something like this:

“Aaaamye, youuuuuu haveeeee a flyyyyy on yourrr face,” says Jake.

She turns her head slightly and brushes the fly off her face.

I turn towards her to look, with my mouth wide open in a smiling/laughing position.

Zoom in on the fly. The buzzing gets louder and…

BOOM.

Fly down the throat.

— End Scene —

I didn’t even have any water to wash it down with…

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Rewind 13 days…

January 12-15: New Zealand

We arrived at our fancy pants hotel early, but luckily they took pity on us and let us check in anyway. Probably because we smelled; no amount of deodorant or perfume could have helped that situation. After a few hours we regrouped, made our way downtown and had lunch overlooking the pier. We learned quickly that “entrees” in Australia are the equivalent to “appetizers” in the US. No worries though, we supplemented our small lunch with a cup of gelato. (On a side note, Australian sorbet is creamy. Weird, right?)

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The Auckland Domain was gorgeous. What a wonderful place to spend a lazy weekend afternoon! The area was built around an old volcano and we walked the entire park looking for it. However, after consulting the map we realized we had already passed the volcano. Turns out they don’t have to look like mountains… or anything really… it was a little anti-climatic.

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After our walk we enjoyed afternoon tea at the hotel. Needless to say, we were a little under dressed.

Enjoying tea time. The cups were empty, ps.

Enjoying tea time. The cups were empty, ps.

The fine fare served with our tea.

The fine fare served with our tea.

Sunday afternoon we drove to Hamilton (this made for a shorter drive in the morning). We took a nice walk along the water then had dinner at a local place. I had a salad with Kumara — ever heard of it? It’s similar to a sweet potato and it’s freakin’ delicious. Since I’m not willing to smuggle them through customs, I’m going to see what HyVee can do for me.

Pretty and delicious

Pretty and delicious!

Monday we had our first customer visit then drove back to Auckland.

Some NZ countryside.

Some NZ countryside.

Tuesday we flew from Auckland to Adelaide. We used Air New Zealand for that flight as well. Let’s not talk about it.

January 15-18 Southern Australia

We got to Adelaide to find out we had a 5+ hour drive ahead of us (after a 4 hour flight). I got a lot of reading done in that five hours. I only felt a little bit bad about being anti-social.

We stopped at Penfolds Winery on our way.

We stopped at Penfolds Winery on our way.

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We sampled a few while we were there, too. Yum.

Wednesday night was a real treat. We stayed at a lovely “motor inn” called The Duke. Not.

It was awful. It was a motel — aka doors to the outside — it smelled terrible, and each room had a can of Raid (which was absolutely necessary, as we saw multiple bugs crawl across our beds). Amye and I actually shared a room that night (too creepy to sleep alone in that place) and I refused to shower because the bathroom grossed me out. On top of all of that, I later learned that the old man behind the desk had made a comment while I was perusing the menu… it went something like this,”Sorry, honey, but I’m not on the menu.” Goo.

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Thursday we visited a vegetable grower. It was a great visit, but then we opted to take a ride in the “ute” (utility truck) for a tour of the farm. In my dress and tennis shoes I climbed into a seriously dusty truck with something barely resembling AC. It was 45+ Celsius that day, which is somewhere above 113 F. It literally felt like we were standing in an oven. I really don’t know how Slyvia Plath did it. I was toast (literally) after 5 minutes. Do you know how much sunscreen I have used on this trip?!

I didn’t feel very well after that ride.

Southern Australia - hot and dry.

Southern Australia – hot and dry.

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They had road signs for kangaroos and koalas. They also had road signs that read, “Tired Drivers Die.” Yikes.

After the tour we drove back to Adelaide and stayed at a beachfront hotel. It was about a gazillion times better than The Duke. The problem was, as I was walking along this beautiful beach at sunset, trying to “stay in the moment,” all I really wanted was a nice, long bath in my nice, clean hotel room. I had to wash The Duke off of me. And the dirt. But mostly the Duke.

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January 18-25 Queensland and New SouthWales

…you will have to be patient…

Made it. Barely.

First, I apologize for not posting a single picture from our Italy trip yet. I’ll slap myself on the wrist for that one. However, I have a trade for you: I’ll give you Down Under for Italy. That makes us even for now, right?

Yes, you read that correctly. I said, “Down Under.” Three weeks after my return from Europe I got on a plane bound for New Zealand. Crazy? Yes. I had planned to avoid all acts of travel and tourism until our honeymoon, but when the boss men asked me if I wanted to go on a 15-day trip to the southern hemisphere, I figured it would be stupid to say no. However, I was really dreading the travel. I AM SO tired of airports (and all the hassle that comes with them). Our first two flights actually went very well, minus a few obnoxious people flying to Denver — I tried to tell myself they were on their way home, they couldn’t possibly be Iowans, but I’m not so sure. By the time we got to LAX we were tired and ready to be on the last leg of our trip. We arrived knowing we would have to leave the terminal to get our last ticket, as well as go back through security; we weren’t looking forward to either activity. Besides the fact that LAX seemed to be pretty poorly marked, the employees were about as helpful as the signs that didn’t exist. They should have handed out maps as we departed the plane.

We waited nearly 20 minutes for a shuttle to take us to the international terminal. After that ride I was certain I had picked up the flu, tuberculosis, and whooping cough. The amount of sick people breathing and coughing on that bus made me want to take a bath in hand sanitizer. Goo. After we pushed our way off the bus we had to find the Air New Zealand counter (you have to go up a floor, didn’t see a sign for that either) and get in line. After a significant wait we went up to the counter with our passports and smiles. Smiling always seems to help — it says,”I’m a friendly, innocent, naive girl that would never carry anything suspicious onto a plan.” It didn’t help this time. The guy threatened to not give us our tickets if we couldn’t produce documentation that we would be leaving New Zealand. While Amye was prepared with all of the paperwork, our flight from NZ to Adelaide (AUS) did not show any proof of purchase. Our “itinerary” wasn’t good enough. At that point, I was fuming. While I stared daggers at the man, I let Amye do the talking. Who knows what I would have unleashed on him… Needless to say, he finally gave us the tickets. I’m pretty sure my death stare convinced him.

We made it to our gate in time to eat a quick dinner and then boarding started. We thought we would be good to go from this point, but once we got near the plane a lady stopped us and asked us to take off our backpacks. She said something about checking the weight, if they were too heavy, they would have to be put under the plane. That was my last straw. There was no nice left. They would not tell me my bag was too heavy when people were rolling on over-sized carry-ons. They either let me on with my bag or I was going home. Seriously.

After all that complaining, I can say two good things about Air New Zealand: they had a very good movie selection and the food was above average. The downside of the food service was that every time they served a meal they made everyone put their seats in the upright position. While this may not sound like a such a big deal, let’s talk about when they served “dinner”. We departed at 9 pm from LAX and did not get served until I was in my second movie. C’mon, people, that’s somewhere around 2 AM CST time — let the people sleep! It seems far more rude to wake up people up, then to make them eat dinner with a reclined chair. Plus, the tray didn’t move whether the chair was upright or reclined. I still don’t understand that.

My goal is to write about the rest of our Down Under adventures tonight. Check back soon 🙂

Here are some pics from Auckland Domain (NZ). I apologize for the overexposure – the pictures don’t do it justice (and I was too lazy to photoshop them).

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Happy Holidays to You and Yours

I meant to send this greeting out before the holidays, but I slipped into a food coma earlier than expected. Seriously, how can anyone avoid over-eating at this time of year? I don’t know about all of you, but I was surrounded by cookies – we made cookies, people gave us cookies, we swapped cookies, I ate cookies. Ugh. If I don’t see another cookie for the next three months it will be just fine by me. That’s a lie. I will probably be over it by next week.

The thing that really irks me about the holidays is that I stuff my face even when I’m not hungry. I walk by a plate of goodies and put one in my mouth because a) they are practically begging to be eaten and b) I know that the likelihood of me seeing treats like this anytime in the next 350 days is slim to none. However, it’s a poor excuse in the sense that I eat plenty of sugar the rest of the year – it’s not like I only indulge in December. (WHO could do that?) Seriously, my sweet tooth is worse than that damn English oven.

Despite my lack of willpower, I refuse to step on the scale. If my jeans fit (and they do… mostly), than I figure I’m doing all right. Everyone is allowed to eat a little more at the holidays – it’s just the way it is – and that’s why you see so many freakin’ people at the gym come January 2. While I applaud any effort, my challenge to those weight loss resolutions is this: Stay strong. Don’t give up after one week (c’mon, you are better than that). Don’t give up after spring break (you still have to wear that two piece in June). And definitely don’t give up next fall when it starts to get cold outside (you have to work all those future Christmas cookies off). Plus, people aren’t lying when they say exercise makes you feel better. I know you know that. There are obvious health reason… and who doesn’t want to be a sexy beast?

That being said, I absolutely love the holidays. I am one of those awful people that started listening to Christmas music in October; I’d probably leave my Christmas tree up until the end of March if Jay would let me (and put it up in the beginning of November); and I really, really, really love cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies. How can you not be filled with holiday cheer after watching one of those? Sigh. Only 320 days until twinkling lights and glittery things appear in the stores again.

PS While I DO NOT miss that oven, there are few things I haven’t quite adjusted to…

I still don’t know where to look for the handle on the toilet. Most places in Europe had the button on top. Now I manage to touch all parts of the toilet before finding the handle, talk about needing to wash your hands…

I can’t remember what light switches do what in our own house. The other day someone asked me where the garbage disposal was at and I pointed her to the overhead light. How sad is that?

I am now the awkward person that doesn’t know which way to dodge when someone is walking towards you. The other day in the kitchen my Dad gave me a funny look when I chose to dodge left. I really need to work on my American-ness.

xo