Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

Well I promised I would tell you about the exciting end to our Midwestern Vacation and I don't like to break promises. But in order to tell you what happened, we have to travel back in time, to 1991.

In 1991 my dad started a new job outside of Boston, Massachusetts. So we moved into House #7 in what's become "my life of houses" and state #4 (for those unaware, my zip code history goes from Rochester, NY to Mission Viejo, CA to Richmond, VA to Duxbury, MA and finally winds up in the ATL). I was starting 6th grade - middle school - and didn't know a soul. I was nervous for that first day - who would I sit with? Would anyone like me? But I quickly made a fast friend thanks to my watch - the girl next to my locker turned to me and said, "I like your watch" - and with that one statement, we became friends. That girl was Marissa. We stayed best friends for the four years we lived in Mass and stayed in touch on and off after we moved during high school. The last time I saw her was sometime in the 1999 or 2000, I'm not exactly sure. Most of my memories of Riss involve dressing up and making homemade music videos, modeling in her living room, passing notes in class and generally being very happy. Her mom made the best 7 layer dip and I once ate 8 pieces of pizza at one sitting at her house (gross, yes, but these are the things I remember). We went on vacation with each others families and talked about boys, a lot. And we were both always very busy with after school activities - Marissa danced at Boston Ballet 6 days a week - the same amount of time I swam. She was my first real best friend.

Well, turns out life had brought her to Chicago (the Internet can be a scary thing sometimes...you just have to know where to look for info!). And I'm so thankful I looked her up and was able to get in touch with her because we had lunch together in Chicago!!! And I even got to meet her new husband and she met Mr. Cob. It was hard to catch up on 10 years in an hour lunch, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. She's followed her dreams and become a professional dancer (ballet) and seems so happy and looks beautiful (as she always has)!

Luckily, I remembered to snap one quick pic before we left!

And thanks to technology, I decided we should take a walk down memory lane...

So the next time you're in a new place and don't know anybody, try telling someone you like their watch...you just might meet your new best friend!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ingredients for VEGGIES: Seeds & Fertilizer & Water & Sun

Growing your own vegetables really can be for beginners.

Just follow these few easy steps. 1) Plant a seed in some soil. (I should add a caveat here: this step can be more difficult than it sounds. If you'll remember, we had to rent a big piece of machinery from our favorite DIY home store to tear up our grass and sow the soil. But once you get that done (easy, right?! I find that a big strong man helps), just plant your seeds). 2) Add some fertilizer. (Preferably organic fertilizer...you are going to eat what you are growing.) 3) Water on a somewhat regular basis. (Rain counts and is extremely helpful for those of us who forget to water manually; however, convincing Mother Nature to turn the sprinklers on can be a bit challenging - may I suggest a Rain Dance?!). 4) Get sunlight. (You should factor this step in when you are planning whereabouts to plant your garden...but if you figure out how to move the sun to meet your needs, by all means, and let me know the secret). 5) Give your seeds lots of love and hope for the best. And voila, you have veggies!!!

The proof is in the pictures - taken from La Garden des Swans.

Some additional tidbits I've learned from my first season as a "gardener":

A - You should weed your garden. It's a pain in the behind, BUT, very well worth it. Think about it - the little seeds you planted need to grow roots and get big. In order to do this, they need water (remember step 3 above!). If you have weeds, your little plants have to fight with the weeds for that water; but if you eliminate the weeds, your plants can soak up all the water you (and nature) give them.

B - Squirrels are evil. They are eating my tomatoes. We're going to try to fix this problem this weekend - we're still deciding between a fence around the garden or a scarecrow. Thoughts? Not sure yet which works better. Maybe we'll attack the squirrels with a double whammy - fence AND scarecrow! (Sidenote, I'm thinking we'll definitely put up a scarecrow...it's a fantastic way to rid Mr. Cob of some of the not-so-stylish clothes that occasionally pop up in his wardrobe. But shh, don't tell him my ulterior motives!)

C - When a package of seeds tell you they are best grown in the fall/winter, you should heed this warning/advice. Broccoli and Brussel Sprouts really don't like hot weather. Or maybe we just killed them. Actually, I'm going to blame the squirrels. Yea, the little critters are responsible for those too.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Stuart!

Today is our nephew Stuart's FIRST BIRTHDAY! One year ago today we were all waiting at the hospital for Stu to make his grand entrance and finally, early in the morning (around 2 or 3ish) he arrived. And almost immediately, he stole our hearts.

Here he is exactly one year ago today, just hours after being born:

And I couldn't resist posting this one - Stuart only 2 days old with his mama!

And now look how much he has grown!

We love you buddy!!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

By "Four", I really meant FORE! Or actually, TWO!!

While there is still much to tell about the second leg of our vacation, and I promise it is coming, I can't believe I forgot to mention one of the most exciting aspects of our Michigan trip - the golf outing. As you may remember, I was a bit nervous about my lack of golfing experience. With only three actual golf trips under my belt, I'm not exactly a pro. (And as Mr. Cob pointed out to me after reading my prevous post about the driving range, I don't even know the lingo...It's "fore", not "four"...oops! This just reinforces my lack of golfing experience, and apparently knowledge.

I was off to a rough start beginning with a 10 on the 1st hole. And a not so stellar 9 on the 2nd hole. But I was improving. Then we got to the 3rd hole and I flashed back to last year's golf trip in MI - hole 3 still gives me nightmares. At least three of my golf balls are swimming at the bottom of the water at the start of hole 3. But Mama Kae suggested I use her driver - it's actually for ladies, is lightweight and has a big head...need I say more?

So I teed up. New driver in hand. Swing - TAKE OFF! It was the best shot of my life! But I still wound up with a 6 (although, not too shabby for a par 4). Things kept looking up as we got to hole 4 - only 5 strokes. My confidence was up. I was convinced the new driver was going to take me places...take me far over the water hazard. But I would be wrong. My tee shot on hole 5 was less than impressive. I was mad. I didn't even get over the pond. Sigh.

So while everyone else cleared the water, I stay back by the pond and took my second shot. I had my trusty 7 iron (one of my favorite clubs - we see eye to eye). Deep Breath. You can do this.

Swing. Lift-over. Clearing the water. Heading towards the green. Successful shot. Little did I know just how successful...

I walked up the hill to the green, as this was where the ball was heading. Paul's ball was there, but mine was not in sight. We looked at each other confused and he jokingly said "look in the hole" (chuckle, chuckle). And wouldn't you know, my ball was IN THE HOLE! From 100 yards away, my 7 iron (and my wonderful technique...) got the ball in the hole for a BIRDIE!

Paul looked at me and said in all sincerity, "Have you ever gotten a birdie?" I smiled and responded, "I've never even had a par!!!!"

And that is the story of my very first Birdie. I can only hope its not my last!

And here's the score card from our game. (Disclaimer: My nickname from Mr. Cob is "Hootie" and I call him "Babu". So I'm Hootie...the first player on the card. I thought about erasing it and putting in our real names, but that seemed like it would make the score card disingenuous, or something. So now you know our secret names. Shh. Don't tell anyone.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009


The Swans just returned from a relaxing 9 day vacation in the Midwest. After doing a serious cost-analysis of flying versus driving, we decided that packing up the Prius and spending 13 hours of bliss in a four door car was the way to go. We departed the ATL Thursday after work and got on our way. We didn't leave until around 8pm and were planning on driving either to Nashville (3-4 hours away), Bowling Green, KY (4.5-5 hours away) or Louisville, KY (6ish hours away) depending on our level of sleepiness and irritability. The roadtrip was pretty uneventful until we stopped for gas around midnight somewhere between Nashville and Bowling Green. After a few cups of coffee I needed to use the ladies, so Mr. Cob filled up the car. Five minutes later I found him a bit hysterical talking to the gas-station attendant...he had accidentally put 8/10s of a gallon of DIESEL gas into our unleaded engine. (Only I misunderstood and though he put EIGHT GALLONS of Diesel in! You can imagine the fear that was going through my brain! I was seeing dollar signs evaporating in front of my eyes, convinced we'd need a new engine...) Luckily we learned that a little bit of Diesel may cause a little smoke, but doesn't do any serious damage - apparently it's really bad if you put unleaded into a Diesel and thankfully, not vice-versa. After that little mishap we decided it was time to turn in for the night. Thankfully day 2 of our drive was uneventful and we arrived safely in Newaygo, Michigan Friday afternoon.

The weather was in the mid-70s for most of our trip with low-to-no humidity. It was a nice change from HOTLANTA! Saturday morning Allison and I ran a 10K - my first ever! For some strange reason I think I like the half marathon distance better....6 miles seems to be short enough that I feel like you have to "sprint", and I am just not a fast runner. But I finished in 1 hour and 1 minute - I was hoping to get in under an hour, maybe next time! Allison, on the other hand, rocked it! She came in around 55 minutes!!! We also did two other 5.6 mile runs during the week, just for fun. I really wish she lived closer so I had a running buddy...I'm still looking for one in Atlanta! We spent the next couple of days relaxing, reading, tubing, water skiing, kayaking and just enjoying being with Mr. Cob's family.

Aside from the 10K, my favorite things from our trip were playing games, sitting by the fire and drinking my morning coffee on the porch overlooking the lake.

The big games on this trip were Bananagrams (think Speed Scrabble), Sparkle (which is really called Sequence, but I can never remember the real name so for Christmas Mama Kae and Al gave me the game but renamed it Sparkle with their handwritten title!) and Catan (the best board game ever! Seriously.). And we also had a few hilarious games of Catchphrase (my favorite was when Mrs. G said "the opposite of header"???? and the answer: "Butter"! I'm still laughing at that! Or my word was "rapier" and I said "someone who does bad things to people"...um, yea, this was not one of my brighter moments!)

It was a little too windy most nights for a bonfire, but we managed to have two great fires. And a bonfire is never complete without s'mores and doughboys. To make a doughboy follow these simple steps: 1. Get a dowel rod. 2. Spray the end of the rod with Pam or Butter. 3. Wrap a crescent roll or biscuit around the end of the rod. 4. Cook over the fire. 5. Remove cooked roll and spray butter in the hole. 6. Fill hole with cinnamon sugar. 7. ENJOY. 8. REPEAT!

We really enjoyed our time in Michigan. Mr. Cob's grandparents live about 20 minutes away, but they brought their 16 foot trailer and parked it in the front yard for three days, so we were able to spend time with them as well. And Mr. Cob's best friend from home (and the best man at our wedding) came up with his parents for a few days, so we caught up with him, which always involves many laughs. We both feel relaxed and recharged - it was a great vacation!

And our vacation didn't end once we left Michigan...it continued with our drive to Chicago and visits with some very old and dear friends.

To be continued....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Beach Pics

A few pics, a la Carey, from our weekend getaway!


Next week we have a scheduled golf outing and I'm already getting nervous. I tend to avoid work golf events and anything more than a secluded Par 3 course. But we're visiting Mr. Cob's parents, and I've been told that we're golfing. The typical excuses came to mind: Me: "I won't have my clubs." Mr. Cob - "We're driving, so plenty of room for the clubs." Me: "I'm going to be terrible." Mr. Cob - "We'll practice." Me: "I haven't played in over a year." Mr. Cob - see previous response. Me: "I have nothing to wear." Mr. Cob - "I'm sure you can find time to buy something." Me: "Wait, did you just condone my shopping???" Mr. Cob - "If it means you'll stop whining, yes."

So it's settled, we're golfing.

Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoy golfing...when I'm doing decent. (and my standards for decent are pretty low. Club connecting with ball = decent.) I tend to get frustrated really easily and then lose all concentration and it's worse when people are watching/waiting. Luckily everyone is always patient with me (especially Mr. Cob's parents...our last golf outing with them was quite enjoyable and I did "decent") and I get more than your fair share of mulligans. Mr. Cob even gave me golf lessons for my birthday a few years back and they really helped my swing - problem is, I'm worried I've forgotten everything I learned.

So, to "hopefully" quash my worries, we practiced. Last night we went to the driving range and split a giant bucket of balls. Attempt #1, whiff. Attempt #2, whiff. Pre-Attempt #3, Mr. Cob did some adjusting of my stance, checked my grip and told me to stop lifting my head so soon. Attempt #3, WE HAVE LIFTOFF! Attempt #4-50, CONTACT BABY! I won't be signing up for the PGA Tour any time soon, but I'm now not so afraid of our outing next week. Mr. Cob even realized that I was fighting gravity with my swing and corrected that problem which gave me much more power! Although, today my forearms are seriously sore! We'll see if I can actually put it all together next week, but for now I'm confident and just need to find the perfect outfit. Hey, if I can't beat um, might as well look cute losing!

Monday, July 6, 2009

"Go America"

The theme of our July 4th weekend can be summed up in those two words: "Go America"! Only a handful of people will fully appreciate the joy those two words will always bring to my mind - a reminder of our 2009's July 4 trip to Charleston, South Carolina.

In celebrate of our great country's "birthday" and our good friend's 30th birthday, a group of my girls from law school (and our respective beaus) descended upon Charles' Town for the weekend. (Sidebar, Mr. Cob informed me that Charleston was named after the King of England, Charles, when it was founded...he really is a wealth of information. However, Mr. Cob always has some "insight" into everything and is usually so confident in what he's saying that I have a hard time telling the BS from the truth, turns out this time he was in fact, correct - thanks wikipedia for the confirmation.) Our post-law school jobs have landed us each in Charleston, DC and Atlanta (luckily there are two of us here), so we don't get to see each other as much as we'd like, but we made up for that this weekend with lots of bonding over drinks and food.

Charleston is a great town for a weekend getaway, and even better when it's the summer time because Charleston is on the water so we had lots of Beachtime! I learned a few things at the beach:

1. The Atlantic Ocean (at least in Chas.) is EXTREMELY SALTY! I've been to the Atlantic before and never do I remember it being this salty - starting to wonder if its some global warming side effect...

2. I am terrible at Corn Hole. (And think the game should really change its name).

3. My future children have a 50% shot of looking like this after a day at the beach.
I was so proud of Mr. Cob for his constant re-application of SPF 50 sunscreen - every 45 minutes or so. Sadly, he got rather burned and had to spend our second day at the beach under an umbrella with his shirt on - luckily he had a good book and was fully engaged in Bookland.

4. I will never outgrow body-surfing in the ocean.

5. Body-surfing and bikinis do not mix.

6. I wish all my friends lived in the same place - maybe one day!

7. Omaha Steaks are AMAZING! I highly recommend the Mediterranean Sirloin Skewers - maybe the best meat I've ever had (and I'm a big time carnivore.)

8. My friend Katie does a very realistic eel impersonation - no joke.

9. My new no-fail desert - so far everyone I've served it to is a fan: bake a box-ready chocolate cake in a 9 x 13 pan according to the box instructions. Poke warm cake all over with a toothpick. Pour a can of condensed milk (note the CONDENSED...not evaporated!) over the cake, making sure it seeps into the holes. Pour half a jar of caramel sauce over the cake. Chill. Before serving top with a generous layer of Cool Whip and 4 crushed up Heath bars. Enjoy!

10. Everything in Charleston is only 3 blocks away! It's true, ask Erin.

We ate at some amazing restaurants - namely Coast, Vickery's and Melvin's BBQ. They were all great and I would recommend them to anyone visiting Charleston.

All in all, we had an amazing weekend visiting with friends and celebrating our great country! Go America!