Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sleeping Bulls at Two Stick tonight!

If you are in Oxford tonight, Chip is playing drums with Sleeping Bulls at Two Stick. 9 PM. Come!

Vacation 2009

Chip and I are so ready for a vacation. We last went on vacation to London and Paris in September 2007. We've had some small weekend trips here and there - to New Orleans mostly - but haven't been on a good, get-away-from-it-all vacation in many, many months.

For the longest time we planned to go to England again. We both wanted to go to Oxford then spend a few days in London to visit the Borough Market and some museums that we missed last time. But flight schedules from Jackson, Mississippi into London have not cooperated with us. Back in 2007 we had the most perfect flight schedule. We left Jackson around 5 PM to Detroit, then boarded the flight to London around 9 PM. I thought this was perfect because #1 - we weren't in the airport all day, #2 - the flight time from Detroit to London was less than eight hours, and #3 - we boarded just in time for a couple of nightcaps, an in-flight movie, and then some sleeping before breakfast. Because we didn't leave Jackson until 5 PM, on the day of our departure Chip had time to finish up a few things at work. I had time to get a mani/pedi and start the vacation off the right way: by relaxing.

Because of the crappy economy, tons of flights have been removed from the line up. I researched flights for weeks, and the absolute latest departure we could find from Jackson (and still make our connection) was about 11 AM. We would then sit in an airport somewhere for hours until the flight for London. Oh, and the return flights from London all left at like 6 or 7 AM. No, no. That was not going to work for me while I'm on vacation!! Sitting in an airport all day? Getting up at the crack of dawn to make it to the airport? Or worse, staying in an icky hotel right beside the airport in order to make the flight? Been there, done that (return flight on the honeymoon), and that didn't sound like "vacation" to me. Chip agreed, and we decided to postpone our return to the UK. Its really too bad because last time we went the exchange rate was like $2.10 to the GBP (super expensive, baby!). Now it is more like $1.40 to the GBP. We could save some major cash if we went now!!

So, where are we going? Well...

Our five-year anniversary is September 25th of this year. We thought - how fun would it be to make a return trip to our honeymoon spot? On our honeymoon we went to Napa Valley, San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Santa Cruz, and then to top it off we saw Annie Lennox and Sting play the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View (near the Googleplex) the last night we were there. It was a rockin honeymoon.

We've decided that we are going back to Napa Valley! We can't wait until September, so we're going earlier. April. The hotel is booked. The flights... not quite yet. I've been working my booty off to get us reservations at all the restaurants we missed out on last time. We have dinner reservations at:
Bottega Napa Valley
Ad Hoc
The French Laundry

Yes, the list is heavy on the Thomas Keller. But we didn't want to miss out on any of these restaurants. Geez, we are going to be so freakin' BROKE when we get back from this trip!

About The French Laundry reservations... It was seriously difficult to reserve a table at this restaurant. They take reservations two calendar months in advance of the date you want to dine. The reservation office opens at 10 AM Pacific each day. Beginning February 23, I called each day at exactly 9:59 AM Pacific and went through this routine: dial, busy signal, redial, busy signal, redial, busy signal, redial, etc... until I got through or until about 20 minutes had passed. There are only 15 (maybe 16?) tables, so if I was still getting a busy signal after 20 minutes, it was likely that there would be no more tables even if I got through. So, after 20 minutes I gave up. On two of the days I got through, they were closed for private events and were not taking reservations. On three of the days, Chip and I both called continuously for 20 minutes and never got through. Then, finally... Today I got through almost immediately, was placed on hold for about 10 minutes, and reserved a table for two at 5:30 PM on Tuesday, April 28th. After calling like a mad-woman for six days straight, I'm so glad we weren't disappointed.

All I can say is... what we are going to save on flights, we'll definitely end up spending on food and wine. Since Chip is in the restaurant business, I wonder if we could write-off these meals on our taxes? Ok, I am kidding about that. Kind of.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pay It Forward

I have no idea what I am going to make yet, but I want to play along. Want something handmade/homemade from me? Leave a comment on this post.

Pay It Forward -- The Rules:

1. Be one of the first THREE bloggers to leave a comment on this post, which then entitles you to a handmade item from me - something crafty or yummy, who knows?!

2. Winners must post this challenge on their own blog, meaning that you will Pay It Forward, creating a handmade gift -anything!- for the first three bloggers who leave a comment on YOUR post about this giveaway!

3. The gift that you send to your three friends can be from any price range and you have 365 days to make/ship your item. This means you should be willing to maintain your blog at least until you receive your gift and have shipped your gifts. And, remember: It’s the spirit and the thought that count!

4. When you receive your gift, please feel free to blog about it, sharing appropriate linky love! If you are not one of the top three comments on this post, you can still play along. Go ahead and start your own Pay It Forward chain, and encourage your blogging friends to do the same!

SO REMEMBER... Pay It Forward!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Girl Talk at The Lyric Oxford

I didn't think we'd find tickets to the sold out Girl Talk show at The Lyric Oxford Friday night (2/13/09). But Brian (Leah's fiance) hooked us up with tickets just a few hours before the show. Brian, thank you so much because Girl Talk was definitely a show not to miss!

Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis) does mash-ups. But the thing is, he's really good at it. Think Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" together with Jay-Z's "Roc Boys" and you have my personal favorite Girl Talk song: Set It Off.

I had my reservations about seeing this "live". I mean, how could one dude on stage with a laptop actually be something to watch? But I knew I wanted to check this show out.

The night started out not so great. I think the entire population of Ole Miss sorority & fraternity kids bought tickets, which is part of the reason it sold out so quickly. They were all dressed in 80's outfits (for fun? or maybe some kind of swap? I don't know why), which was hilarious to us because most of them were born in the 90's. Hard to believe. The only good thing about that was that the line at the bar wasn't long because they were (mostly) underage.

We found an EXCELLENT spot upstairs on the balcony, left side of the stage. I wish I had photos to show how close we were, but Leah and I both left our phones in the car. The great thing about being close was that we kinda had a bird's-eye view of what Gillis was doing with the laptop. Before the show started, we got a good look at the set-up. Basically a table weighted down with sandbags so that it wouldn't get pushed off stage with a laptop taped down to it. That's about it.

And now, the show. The good: this show was so much fun! I freaking love to dance, and I don't get to do it enough. Jackson, Mississippi dance clubs = trash, and I will not go in Jackson. I can't even begin to name all the songs in the mash-ups he put together for Friday night's show. Whoomp There It Is, Single Ladies, Tiny Dancer, Jackson Five, Since U Been Gone (and I don't even like that song), Three Six Mafia (they are from Memphis y'all), Nirvana, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine (yeah). You name it, it was there. By all accounts, Gillis loves pop and hip-hop music and knows how to put it together to get people PUMPED.

Right when the show started he started pulling people up on stage, then of course those kids all started pulling their friends up, etc until the stage was packed with dancing kiddos. Ok, young adults. Whatever. I felt so bad for the four Cobra Security guys up there on stage. There were only two on each side, and two of the guys were holding down the table so it wouldn't fall off the stage. They had their work cut out for them.

The bad: he didn't overlay as many songs live as he does on the record. Like, on the record you can almost always pick out 3 songs at once. Sometimes even 4 or 5. But live, it sounded like there were 3 tops. And sometimes, just one. One's just not impressive.

Because I'm not 20 anymore and because I had to be at work with a nimble brain at 7 AM on Saturday morning, I did not stay the whole time. We left at about 12:30 AM, so I missed the last 30 minutes of the show.

I am so glad I got to go to this show! The crowd was great. Everyone was TOTALLY into it. There was barely a still body in the place. I had so much fun!!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Blogging from my iPhone with Yahoo! mail

Maybe you noticed yesterday, but I tried to do a post from my iPhone. I've been wanting to try it because there are definitely times when I want to do a post, but I am away from a computer.

Case-in-point: Chip's friend Aven made a Bacon Explosion for the Super Bowl Party on Sunday. You've just got to see it to believe it... but the photo is on my iPhone Camera Roll. Wouldn't it be great to be able to post it to the blog directly from my phone?

Well, posting from the iPhone didn't work so well for me. It was easy to figure out the whole Mail2Blogger thing... not a problem at all. I got the post up, but my photo wasn't appearing. Finally, I found some other Blogger users who'd had the same problem, and it seems to be a compatibility issue with Yahoo! mail and Blogger. Basically, photos sent from Yahoo! mail won't show up in a Blogger post. I'm still trying to understand WHY... Some folks think it is because Yahoo! mail embeds the photos as .bmp, while Blogger expects them to be attached as .jpg. But, I can't find anything that proves that is the real problem.

One solution that I have found is to get a Gmail account. No big surprise that Gmail and Blogger are compatible. Then, to be able to email from my iPhone Camera Roll, I have to set the Gmail account as the default account on my iPhone. Grrr... This solution is not ideal for me. I don't want three email addresses. And I don't want to switch everything from Yahoo! mail to Gmail just to to blog.

So, I'm still looking for solutions. I'm also a Picasa user, so solutions involving an upload to Picasa from the iPhone Camera Roll could work, I just haven't looked into them yet.

So what happened to the failed iPhone post? I deleted it. Once I figure out how to get this working I'll post with text and photos. Yay!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Super Sunday

What a super Sunday it has been, and I haven't even watched a down of football yet!

The weather has been glorious this weekend. Just what I have been waiting for to get in a few of those early spring garden chores. It was in the mid-60s yesterday. I pulled some weeds and put down leaf mulch in my shady bed.

Then, I pruned the crape myrtle... and didn't "murder" it. This morning the temps were even higher, and I began the redesign of my rose bed.

I originally planted Golden Celebration in the wrong place, too close to the driveway. Every time Chip drove into the garage, he would hit the Golden Celebration canes because they were just in the way. It needed a spot further back in the bed. I also have three roses in Oxford that do not get enough love and care. They are beautiful shrubs (Ambridge Rose, Evelyn, and Tamora... all apricots), and I feel guilty about how neglected they are. I'm making room for them here and moving them in a few weeks. Here is a "before" pic from Saturday...

To prepare the bed, I moved one juniper (don't really like them anyway) and removed another, then transplanted Golden Celebration to a nice corner location in the back of the bed where it will have lots of room to grow and be beautiful. Molineux got a new spot too. Since it is a smaller shrub, I moved it closer to the front of the bed. Here is an "after" pic from Sunday... Can't wait to see how this will look this summer when all the roses are in bloom!

Oh, and I can't forget to mention my breakfast this morning! I had made big plans for Chip and me for Saturday night. We had reservations at Walker's Drive-In, and I bought tickets for the Mozart by Candlelight concert. Well, Chip was late getting home from work, which made us late for dinner, which made us get crappy seats and miss the first song. To make it up to me, Chip made my favorite breakfast on Sunday morning: crepes with ricotta and strawberries. This time he topped them with a vanilla-cardamom cream and sliced almonds. And, I'm not mad about the symphony anymore.

Now, we're off to the Super Bowl party! I'll leave you with some signs of spring from my garden: mint and Carolina Jessamine.