Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sam and Tiffany Wed

This weekend ended on a high note with the wedding of our cousin, Sam to long time sweetheart, Tiffany. We drove down to San Diego, CA to celebrate their special day.

The ceremony and reception was held at the Marriott in Point Loma where over 250 guests gathered on the green lawn as witnesses to the Sam and Tiffany's vows.

The ceremony was beautiful and personalized by our cousin, Bert, who was also the ordained minister at our wedding two and a half years ago.

The food was delicious and it was wonderful to see everyone. All in one weekend, I was able to see both sides of my extended family. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for.

Photos from Flickr album "Sam & Tiffany's Wedding".

Our Thanksgiving 2008

Our Thanksgiving in Newport, CA was special as usual but this year was without T.J. All the aunts and uncles on my mom-in-law's side gathered at Tom and Sue's home the day after their son's memorial service, bringing several dishes so we had a spread of things to eat...and plenty to drink.

There was the usual suspects, turkey, mashed potatoes, a variety of cranberry sauce, and stuffing...then beef tenderloin and OMG...the desserts!! Pumpkin pie, apple pie, brownies...I can't remember though I tasted every one of them. I just noticed no greens on my plate--yikes!!

Our second cousin and youngest member in our extended family, Robbie, was a hit. Who cannot find those clear blue eyes, chubby cheeks and red lips not adorable?!

Trip to Naples in Florida

My sister, Brandy, contacted me when her girlfriends flaked out on their planned trip to Naples, Florida. She had already booked her flight and hotel so she would be vacationing alone. Brandy desperately needed to get away from the single digit temperatures in Minnesota where she lives (I don't blame her one bit) and sunny Florida sounded like the perfect remedy. She also needed to temporarily escape from the craziness of her life and lean on me as she always had through her life when she needed sisterly advice (I am the younger one but she always thought I was the wiser).

Since John was unable to make the cross-country trip with me, I traveled alone late Wednesday night (November 19) which was something I hate to do: vacation without my husband and fly (luckily, a stiff gin and tonic and some Tylenol PM knocked me out before takeoff) but my sister needed support and I responded to her call for some sister time.

She met me with our rental car when I landed and soon we were in the green, sunny city of Naples. If you are looking for a quiet place to relax, this would be it. The area is known for the golfing, shopping and dining, catering towards those who have retired.

After we settled in our room, a studio with a spa tub that opened to the bedroom with a patio overlooking the main pool, we walked along Fifth Avenue South past shops and restaurants in search of a place to eat for lunch. Bella Maria Cafe offered an appealing menu so we sat down to a glass of Sangria with Red Bull for a start.

We shared a plate of seafood salad and calamari and they gave us their dessert of the day (Bavarian creme in philo sprinkled with powdered sugar) on the house.

Back in our room, we changed for Happy Hour and decided to stay close as we were exhausted from our long flight.

That night, the city had a wine tour and those who have purchased tickets could walk to 29 restaurants along Fifth Avenue and sample wine and hors devours. The last stop was our hotel and so we had plenty of company before the night was over. Brandy and I sat around appetizers and mojitos while we caught up on our lives.

Before the night was over, we had wine and coffee with dessert provided by the big event. We had an early night and it was not hard to fall asleep.

The next day, my sister insisted we go work out in the gym facility before we did anything else. Then she got a pedicure and manicure while I sat outside and stayed warm in the morning rays of the Florida sun. By the time she was finished, we were ready for some lunch and stopped by Sushi Thai Too. What we had craved was some spicy food and sure enough, the chef was more than happy to accommodate because he also liked Thai chili peppers to flavor his food. I ordered the Japanese ceviche and Brandy chose the Volcano Roll. We each had a bowl of mixed seafood Tom Yum soup and beer...YUM-YUM!!
The only thing left to do on Thursday was to hit the white sand beach of Naples and that's what we did!

By sunset, we were chilled to the bone so we soaked in the hot tub and grabbed a drink at the bar before getting ready for some dinner and dancing. Of course, we had to stir up the stairs where so many beautiful brides and groom graced for their wedding photos.

Dinner was conveniently at Sushi Thai Too. The restaurant owner and staff have been really nice and hospital to us. We were served dishes not offered on their menu but was made for themselves. We were really honored to share something so special and felt right at home.

We met some friends on the beach earlier that day who joined us with their friends at Yabbas (restaurant, bar and nightclub). We had so much fun and went to bed around 6:30 a.m. which I haven't done in a long time but hey, we were on vacation!!

Saturday, my sister and I drove to Miami. She had visited before but this would be my first time. It wasn't bikini weather but the experience of the environment was definitely worth it. To me, it felt like a mixture of the beach cities and Vegas because while there were restaurants and hotels lining the beach there were guys on the street promoting their night clubs and hostesses speaking for their restaurant as we walked by.

We picked a restaurant with the best Mojitos (I had a large and my sister chose the regular glass; I mean, how soon will I have Mojitos in Miami again you know?) As we sat on the sidewalk, people walked by (through our dining area which I thought was non-traditional) and pointed at our supersized drinks and seafood platter, LOL!!) and we did some people watching while chatting.

Before our two hour drive back to Naples, we checked out the beach and went shoe shopping. When we got to our room, we were both exhausted and decided against going to an exclusive party for the opening of McCormicks and Schmicks which we were invited to.

As I settled my head into the soft pillow to close my eyes, my sister started to talk to me. I tried to keep up with her but sleep tugged at my eyes and weary body so I drifted off...only to be smacked in the arm by her. "Are you asleep?" (Well I had been, sis). Then I remembered that I was there for my older sister; she needed to talk to me (though at one point I remember being frustrated about her timing; it was way past 1:30 a.m. and then 2:30 a.m.). We talked the entire night about everything sisters talked about. In the end, what I thought would be an advice session for my sister turned out to be chicken soup for my soul. My sister had gotten wiser in her own way and I learned from her just as much as she had from me. What stood out in my mind is sisters are forever and we will always be there for each other.

When 5:30 a.m. came, I rose out of bed to shower and we left for the airport without a wink of sleep. I was definitely sad to say goodbye to my sis, as we always are but I'd say we spent some quality time with a mix of fun and seriousness. At least for that time, I left my sorrow behind for our family tragedy when I landed in Naples and coming back home to Vegas was a mix of emotions. I missed my husband, cats and home but it also meant one the worst and best days were in the wings. But that is okay...that is just life.