Monday, May 4, 2015

Relay, Birthdays, Museums, and More!

Did you hear that? That was a collective sigh of relief.
Lord. Have. Mercy.

I have been going strong since two Mondays ago.

I knocked out five interviews for a few freelance story items earlier...  two weeks ago. I spent most of my downtime trying to transcribe everything we talked about. Honestly, if you have ever conducted an interview, that is the hardest part. Sitting down and chatting with someone, as long as you listen and have a natural curiosity, is a piece of cake - it is the going back, transcribing word-for-word what you need to remember, getting the quotes right, and figuring out how to string the facts into an entertaining story is the trick. I have found in the past, if I can get past the first paragraph, the rest sort of writes itself.

Kinda like this blog post.

So what else is going on?

Well, two Fridays ago, I spent the evening with hundreds of warriors. No, no... I did not fight any battles, but I met people who have been fighting a battle and are winning! I'm on the Bibb County Executive Leadership Council for the American Cancer Society. I attended my very first Relay for Life!

 I was blown away by the sheer size of the event. Tents upon tents of truly courageous, as well as dedicated and enthusiastic people. I spent years working Heart Walks for the American Heart Association, however, I have never seen an event like this that was so incredibly emotionally charged. It was not only a quick glimpse into the what cancer does to families, but it was also clearly a celebration!

 As the ceremonies were kicking off, I wandered to the front and took a pic of these luminaries - they spell out HOPE. I thought this was a beautiful testament of what Relay for Life is all about.
 Here I am with the American Cancer Society  Manager and our Board President.
I spent years wearing red for Heart, now I put on the purple for Cancer.

The very next morning, SG drove up and joined me for another celebration of life - My Auttie Blossom's 9th bday party.

 She was thrilled to have a "skull" themed party. (Oh yes, she is a wild one, that Autumn.) I have to admit,  I got a first hand look at how painful coming from a divorced family can be. Autumn's dad does not take the time to spend with his daughter, and he was supposed to be at her party at 1:00pm. We waited and waited.. and apparently he showed up around 5:30 that night. Needless to say, she did not want to cut the cake until her dad arrived. It broke my heart to see her waiting for him by the window. I really should probably not say anymore. But I will sum it up in one word - TRASH.
 We consumed her favorite pizza from her favorite pizza join in Gray, Georgia.
 This kid racked up on the good stuff. The COMPLETE collection.
SG and my Dad enjoying a few beers while we celebrate the life of the blossom.

The next day, my SG and I drove about an hour north to Atlanta for the American Alliance of Museum's conference. He chose to take a few days to decompress in the hotel, while I went to the conference.

 The conference was held at the Georgia Congress Center right in the heart of downtown Atlanta.

This super tall building was my hotel, just blocks from the conference. I stayed at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. Incredible experience. I highly recommend it.

My first day there, I chose to eat at "Fire of Brazil" right across the street from our hotel. The concept is really quite cool - you get this incredible all-you-can eat bar, then these men come around to the table offering unlimited slices of meat. On the bar we enjoyed Chayote Salad, Fresh Carpaccio, Roasted Potatoes in heavy cream, Fresh Smoked Salmon, Black Beans and so much more. As for meat... we were in carnivore heaven. We sampled Picanha, Filet Mignon, Alcatra, Fraldinha, Beef Ribs, Cordeiro, Lombo, Costelo de Porco, Frango, and Linuiga. So incredibly mouth watering, it was also the last place we ate before leaving town.

The following day was a terrific day for eating also! I do believe my mind was blown as I rotated around the city! That's right, we ate at the famous, Sundial Restaurant atop of our hotel at the Westin. Incredible views, actually we were in the highest restaurant in the Western Hemisphere. (According to the folks at the Sundial.) It is a fresh spin on Atlanta dining, the restaurant features seasonal, contemporary American cuisine crafted by Executive Chef Jason Starnes, plus artfully-plated appetizers, imaginative entrees and dessert creations by Pastry Chef Khoi V. Nguyen.

It takes about one hour for the entire restaurant to rotate. We were blown away by the incredible views. Honestly, the views were not the only thing to blow us away, the food was out of this world. I went for the fried chicken breast, drizzled with a honey-thyme sauce, over a bed of mac & cheese. SG went for a blackened trout over cheese grits. And the sweet tea? Sweetened with vanilla bean, mint, and citrus. It was a culinary delight!

Another night we dropped in this little Latin Fusion restaurant. I wish I could remember the name, but.... well... what I do remember is this:

I love chorizo dip, and was thrilled to give this place a try. It was really good, and the mojito was out of this world. I liked the ambiance - we sat outside on the balcony overlooking the city. Just across the street was the Hard Rock Café (more proof the 80s and 90s did happen.)

I hate to admit it, but the service was TERRIBLE. Luckily, the food made up for it.

Another night, we headed to a fantastic little Middle Eastern spot called. "Anatolia Café & Hookah Lounge." We opted for the mixed grilled platter: chicken & lamb kebabs, kofte, lamb chops, adana, and ribeye. It was paired with basmati, falafel, and tahini.

Still on this culinary quest - we had to experience good, old-fashioned Southern Cooking. We were trying very hard to keeping it all very ethnic... but we had to take it back home, so we went to "Miss Pitty Pat's Porch." The story is told that when Scarlett visited Atlanta she always stayed with Aunt Pittypat. During those visits, Aunty Pitty would prepare only her best recipes. At Pittypat's Porch, the tradition continues... sweet tea, fried green tomatoes, then the Pittypat's sideboard, followed by traditional Southern entrees, created in a new Southern style, served with lots of vegetables and homemade breads.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Hoppin John & Collards

Buttermilk Southern Fried Chicken, Creamed Potatoes, and Slaw
Needless to say, we almost needed a wheel barrow to roll us out of there. The best part of our culinary experience? All of this was within walking distance of the hotel - within a 2 block radius.

Speaking of walking.... we just had to go down a few blocks to Olympic Park.

view from our room
Before we left Atlanta, we popped on over to the Georgia Aquarium, a place that has been on my list for quite sometime. I cannot believe it has taken me this long to go there. We had read that Atlanta had made this particular week - Museum week, and selected museums would be buy one get one free. We thought we would select one neither of us had visited, and was also expensive. Regular price would have been over $80 for the two of us...

So we walk up to the ticketing booth and I ask about the special. The guest services person asked if I had a coupon, of course I had not read about needing one, but I mentioned I was with the museum conference. Then she asked could she see my badge, and OF COURSE....I did not have it. But she walked around the corner, came back and handed me two tickets. I was getting ready to hand her $40o, when she just smiled and said... "Don't worry about it."

Soooo..... the adventure continues!

One of the Georgia Aquarium’s major goals is to be the leading facility for aquatic animal conservation and research.  On a global scale, the Georgia Aquarium supports, conducts and leads research on environmental and conservation issues.

We finally make it home, only to discover that SG's mom was rushed to the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital. So we rested up, did some laundry and powered down to Southwest Georgia. Luckily, she is on the mend and we were able to enjoy a wonderful weekend on the farm.

Heard of President Jimmy Carter? This is his hometown... and peanuts are what they are known for!

A nice fresh glass of Pinot Grigio while the sun sets

Nothing like a lowcountry boil in the South on a spring afternoon.

Blueberries are coming in!

Peanut Butter ice cream is amazing.

Celebrated SG's niece's 13th bday on the farm.
Though the week was hectic - it was wonderful. Folks often tease me about taking so many pics... but it allows me to go back and remember the good times, the moments just before I snap the photo...

Life is really good right now.

1 comment:

Dawn Brown said...

WOWSERS!! I don't know how you get all these things done...places to go and people to meet :) You are definetly one busy bee! I am simply amazed every single time I read about your adventures. Oh! And the pictures are awesome :)


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