Tuesday, May 31, 2011

File This Under...My Dad Is Awesome

My dad has always been my hero, and I like to think that we've always shared a special bond. When he found out that my mom was pregnant with me, he told everyone that he hoped he would have a daughter and that he wanted to name her Katie. He got his wish, and exactly one week before his birthday, I came into the world. I think it is so great that he wanted a daughter, as almost all guys I know pray that their firstborn is a son. My dad...always marching to the beat of a different drummer. He's always been so patient (which is near impossible when you have four children in six years), loving, supportive, intelligent, hard working and creative. He started out as an 8th grade teacher (probably where he learned that virtue of patience), and now runs four successful restaurants and a consulting business. Nothing was ever impossible to him, and he's instilled that mindset in all of his children. I was always pretty picky when it came to guys, and I know why...it's because my dad set the standards sky high. Luckily, I was able to find someone who met them! 

But, enough with the sappy stuff. Let's be honest...my dad also knows how to be the life of the party. For example: 

One of my dad's signature dance moves. He's also known to break out the "raise the roof," "sprinkler," and "pop-eye." No occasion is to small for his dancing skills. 

So, this past weekend, when my dad turned 60, we knew it was go big, or go home. So, we all piled into  my parent's beach house in Sea Isle City, NJ (and I do mean all...I think we had 13 people there), and geared up for a big celebration. And what did my dad want to do for his big 6-0? He wanted to do a bar crawl, and visit all of the places where he bartended back in his glory days. 

But, we knew it had to be a proper bar crawl, and nothing says bar crawl like a theme. See, my dad started going gray when he was in his 20's, and was completely white by his 40s. He also made sure to pass that gene down to all of his kids (thanks Dad!). Somewhere along the line, when my brother was in high school, he and his friends bestowed the nickname "The Pearl" upon my dad, to honor his amazing (lack of) hair color. So the theme for this big shindig went something like this: 

Yup, all the guys (minus my Dad & Uncle) wore white wigs, polo shirts and boat shoes. It's a standard Pearl look. 

This is my Dad & my brother. My brother is a "Pearl-in-Training."

 Ryan & Middle Sister's BF walking to our 1st stop. Be honest...who doesn't want to find their 20 something, white haired soul mate at the Jersey shore?

 Middle Sister's BF, Brother, Dad, Brother's Friend, Husband, Uncle at La Costa

Next stop...Ocean Drive...don't worry, my brother will continue to make faces in all the pics. 

 Me & The Pearl

 Not quite sure the husband has mastered the awesomeness of rocking snow white hair. 

 Dad & Husband

 This was in a bar called Shenanigans. It was by far the most "Jersey Shore" bar. 90% of the patrons wore their sunglasses inside. We felt like we had to fit in.

 Why we never sent out "family portrait" Christmas Cards. 

 This would be a cute picture if my husband didn't look like a white haired muppet

 Not your everyday boardwalk sight. 

It's like looking into a crystal ball and seeing my future. 

 As the day progressed, so did the state of the hair. 

 I'll love you in good times and in bad, I'll love you if you go bald, gray or white...

Middle, Oldest, Youngest

 My dad photobombed our sister pic. PRICELESS. 

 I have to wonder what people thought when they walked by and saw this scene.

Sailing off (not really) into the sunset with my wannabe white haired husband. 

We all had such a great time, and followed up the evening with an amazing BBQ. I even found the recipe to my grandmother's Applesauce Cake, and surprised my Dad. It was such a great weekend, and I hope we don't have to wait until he turns 70 to celebrate like this again!

Happy Birthday Dad! I love you!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

That Time When I Ate My Way Through My Birthday

Ryan and I were able to get off work a little early on Friday, which meant we were able to head into Philly for one of my new favorite restaurants, Banana Leaf. It's a small Mongolian place in Chinatown that we stumbled upon after leaving The Legwarmers concert back in March. I'm sure they just loved having customers decked out in 80's costumes piling into their restaurant at midnight! Anyway, the food was so yummy (and super affordable) that I was just waiting for an excuse to go again. I think celebrating my 29th fit the bill perfectly! 

 Dominating the pyramids of sushi 

 Coconut water with delicious chunks of coconut on the bottom

 Ryan and his enormous bowl of duck soup

 & his even larger pork dish

After dinner, we headed to the movie theatre to see the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean. See, I made a deal with Ryan back in April that if I could go to an Ingrid Michaelson concert on his birthday, he could see the new Pirates movie on mine. Note to past self, this was not an equal switch. I'm pretty sure the Ingrid concert was a gazillion times better. The movie was ok...better than the 3rd (which weirded me out), but I will admit to some dozing off. However, this may or may not have been due to the pre-movie, self-inflicted food coma.

We both worked on Saturday, and had plans to celebrate with my family on Sunday. Things got a little hectic with a slew of last minute craziness, and it needed to be rescheduled. My dad's birthday is this week, so maybe he'll let me share in a little of his celebrations.

Sad because the family party was cancelled, and because my mom gave me socks for a gift. Not any socks though...slightly imperfect socks (love you Mom & your Marshalls/TJ Maxx addiction!). Apparently I am slightly imperfect too. 

Since the big BBQ shindig was a flop, (and because the socks weren't cutting it) my mom decided to treat me and Ryan to dinner. I'm not gonna lie, I'm kinda glad it worked out this way, because dinner was AMAZING.

We went to Sovana Bistro in Kennett Square, PA, which I had been wanting to try for a while, and I can't say enough good things about the restaurant. Going out to eat is usually a huge endeavor for me because of my food allergies, and it becomes so much work that it takes a lot of the joy out of the experience. I usually have to study a menu beforehand, call a restaurant to see if things are made with cream or butter (wheat is a lot easier to figure out than dairy!), see if substitutions can be made, and then pray that the chef knows what they are doing. Even if a restaurant has a gluten free menu, most of the items contain corn or dairy, which I am also allergic to. Needless to say, I often end up eating a hodgepodge of things, or something I may not have really wanted because there really isn't much leeway on a lot of menus.

I grew up in the restaurant industry (literally), so I know that there is only so much that can be done, and I totally accept that and go with the flow. But I've dreamed of the day when I'd actually be able to order all of the things I really wanted. And Sovana Bistro...well, they definitely made my dreams come true. When I asked the waitress about a certain dish, she responded with, "Oh just let me know what all of your allergies are, and I'll see if the chef can make the dish around those. If not, you can just let me know what you like, and we can create a dish for you." I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped on the floor. They would make a dish around things I wanted?!? Be still my heart. Dear Sovana Bistro, you win the BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT award.

 Everyone at the table got a small tasting spoon. The one on the left was especially for me! I didn't even have to ask...they just made a special one!

 Scallops, Pork Belly and Kale. My stomach is still celebrating the awesomeness of this dish.

Brussel Sprouts!!!
 Brussel Sprouts are my favorite food (I eat them for breakfast...weird, I know). 
Ryan and I both ordered a side of them, and I ate them both. Consider it my birthday cake. 

All and all, it was a great birthday weekend! I loved all of the messages, cards and phone calls I got from family & friends, and or course all of the yummy food I got to eat. I'd consider it a great start to the last year of my twenties. Hopefully there's a lot more exciting (and delicious) things coming my way this year!

Friday, May 20, 2011


Today is my twenty-ninth birthday. 

The last year of my twenties. 

And, I'm actually pretty excited about it. I'm pretty sure your 20s are much more chaotic than your teen years. Everyone prepares you for the craziness of being a teenager. No one really prepares you for all of the major life changes that tend to come in your twenties (college, 1st jobs, serious relationships, job changes, moving, marriage, etc.). The past 3 years have been especially hard and challenging for me because I have had to deal with a lot of health issues. I'm ready for my 30s. I feel (and hope and pray) that they will be a much calmer decade. I could definitely use some calm in my life. Bring it. 

P.S. I found this bible verse while looking for images of the number 29. I like that it's the 29th chapter, and 11th verse because I turn 29 in 2011. I'm weird like that :)

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper & not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
- Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bo & The Bully

Our dog (like all dogs) has quite the personality. We like to compare him to Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother.

To sum it up, he thinks he is awesome. ALL THE TIME.

And, even when you get mad at him, he looks at you like you must be crazy, cause you know, he thinks whatever he did is LEGEN-wait for it- DARY.

I didn't tear up my dog bed...I created snow. INSIDE. In MAY. AWESOME

Yesterday, we dropped Bo off for the day at a new doggy day camp. We are planning on having him stay there later this summer while we are away on vacation, and the camp requires the trial to see how your dog gets along with all of the other dogs. Well... it didn't go so smoothly:

I is sad. Someone messed up my awesomely handsome face. 

Apparently he didn't do the best job of picking out a new friend, and ended up with a nice little gash on his nose. He was pretty mopey the rest of the day, since this was the first time that someone had seemed to question his awesome-ness. 

So we gave him lots of treats and snuggle time, and he seemed to recuperate quickly. Plus, like Barney Stinson says...

True Story. 

p.s. the other dog ended up in "doggy time out" and Bo received 5 tail wags on his report card, so he actually did quite well. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Wedding, A Baby & Charlie Manuel

This weekend ended up being quite the whirlwind trip for us. We woke up early on Friday morning, dropped Bo off at my parents house for a sleepover with their dog Roscoe, and then started the drive towards our favorite state of Virginia for a friend's wedding at Smith Mountain Lake. GPS had us going through D.C., and down the middle of the state, which we knew would be a nightmare during the morning rush hour traffic. So we google mapped an alternate route and started on the beginning of our very long trip. 

All was great until we got off of good old interstate 81. We continued to dive as civilization seemed to get farther and farther away. We went up winding mountains and down the same treacherous mountains in the middle of the pouring rain. I, as the passenger and the Criminal Minds addict in our relationship, felt the need to continuously remind my husband, that this would be the most opportune time and place for a serial killer to come after us and make us meet a grisly demise. I am nothing, if not imaginative. Luckily, my husband let me stay in the car after said comments, most likely because he would have felt guilty leaving my friend a bridesmaid short on her wedding day. 

Finally the rain let up a bit, and we landed on a blessed stretch of non-curvy road. I still felt the need to constantly question where in the world we could possibly be, when Ryan lit up like a Christmas tree, and yelled, "We're in the hometown of Charlie Manuel!!!" You have got to be kidding me, I thought. I'm pretty sure we're somewhere God forgot after 1952. But, alas, my husband was right...we were, in fact, in Charlie's hometown. Want proof? Here ya go:

 A little piece of home in VA

Rock on Charlie. 

This restored my faith in the fact that this weekend would indeed, be awesome, and after our photo op, we hit the road again. 

It was about this time that my phone started to ring, and I got the much awaited news via text message that my friend Ashley's little baby boy would be making his much anticipated grand appearance sometime over the weekend. Ashley is a Jersey girl at heart, so of course this news made me feel the need to follow up with a text saying, " I hope your baby comes out fist pumping, and that his first words are "caaaaaaabbbbsss are here!'" This statement may or may not have come back to haunt me later. 

We eventually arrived at our destination, and headed off to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The next day it was up and at it early in the morning for hair and makeup, and then getting ready. It was so wonderful to spend the day catching up with the bride, Meredith, and my fellow bridesmaid Susan. Meredith, Susan and I all went to VT, and spent a month traveling after graduation through eleven European countries. Meredith and I were also in the same major in college, and did not realize until Junior year that we grew up 20 minutes away from each other. Delaware- the home of one degree of separation. 

Finally, it was time to get married! The bride was absolutely beautiful, and the ceremony was perfectly filled with tears, laughter and love. 

 Making it official 

 Double fisting bouquets

 Unity candle

The new Mr. & Mrs.!

We then went off to take some fun photos, and hit up the cocktail hour. I use the word hit-up loosely, as my weird food allergies prevent me from being able to drink alcohol. Trust me, the irony of the fact that my family owns Irish pubs, yet I cannot drink is not lost on me. Life is a funny thing. 

Here are some of my favorite "fun" photos: 

 Susan, Meredith, and I cheer on the Hokies


 The groom went to Georgia Tech. Yup, another mixed marriage. 

 How many blondes does it take to bustle a wedding dress? Apparently, three. 


Before we knew it, it was time to be introduced and celebrate! The couple chose an amazing wedding band, and I seriously did not get off the dance floor the entire night (nor apparently, did I feel the need to take my sunglasses off). So much fun!

 Let's get the party started! 

 Yay for the newest members of the married club!

 One of our table members is not like the others (*cough*cough*Ryan)

1st Dance

 I wear my sunglasses at night. Ryan perfects "blue steel."

 Nothing shows people how tough you are like throwing gang signs while wearing pink sunglasses. 

 Amazing wedding band! 

We seem to lack the ability to ever take a nice couple picture together. It's cool, we've accepted it. 

We had such a great time, and it was definitely one of the best weddings we have ever attended. Unfortunately, we had to be up pretty early the next morning to make the long trek back home. Fortunately, I am an amazing wife and let my husband take another alternate route home that allowed us to stop in Charlottesville for some brunch. It was such a beautiful day, and it was nice to get out of the car and relax for a little bit. I may have been in enemy territory, but my stomach never turns down good food, and trust me, Charlottesville has a lot of it. 

 Sunshine and coffee, two of my favorite things. 

Ryan made friends with a waiter, hence earning him lots of free samples of beer. 

After brunch, we hit the road (again), and that is when I got the wonderful news that Ashley's baby was finally here! She was such a trooper, as it ended up being quite a long delivery, made more difficult by the fact that her son decided to enter the world fist first (hence the reason I felt guilty for making my previous text message). I am going to have to buy this to make it up to her.

Luckily for us, the hospital was on our way home, so we got to stop in and meet Baby M. He was so adorable, and I am so happy that he held off on his arrival so that I could meet him! I'm pretty sure it was the first time I've ever held a baby that young...I have 3 younger siblings, but the youngest was born when I was six, and since I threw a fit about getting a sister instead of the brother I wanted, I can pretty much guarantee my parents didn't let me near her alone (love you Laura!). It was so wonderful!  

Go ahead, insert obligatory, "when are you going to have one of those" comments. I'm pretty sure I get them about once a week anyway. 

So, in a time span of 36 hours, we managed to see where Charlie Manuel grew up, watched two amazing people get married, and met the newest and cutest little boy (and future Hokie). Our hearts are full! Congrats Meredith & Andrew, Ashley & Charlie!