More Than Meh

A blog about the good things of life.

Girls’ Weekend at the Delaware Beaches September 29, 2012

Filed under: Friends,Life,Travel — dwhren @ 6:23 pm

Last weekend my friends Alison, Darra, Tracie, and I went on a girls’ weekend to the Delaware beaches. We have gone on a number of girls’ weekends together in the past and decided we needed to get in one last trip before Tracie becomes has a baby at the end of this year. We were aiming for something close to home and settled on going to either Dewey Beach or Rehoboth Beach, which border each other. Thanks to a recommendation for a condo from another friend we wound up staying in Dewey, but still spent a lot of time in Rehoboth for reasons that will become abundantly clear shortly if you don’t already know why.

My own real experiences on the DelMarVa peninsula (the aptly named area that covers the eastern shores of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) have been in Ocean City, Maryland. The Maryland Library Association conference is held there every May, and I have gone over for that. My first trip was also off-season for a bachelorette party one April many moons ago. I still have never been to Ocean City in-season and have felt little to no desire to ever go there unless I have to for some reason like those previously mentioned. That is saying something as I adore the beach. Ocean City is just not the kind of beach experience I’m looking for with the crazy touristy boardwalk and the same 3 restaurants and stores every other block for the entire expanse of the town. Not for me.

Not knowing anything about either Dewey or Rehoboth other than their location just north of Ocean City I was rather expecting the same experience. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’m totally down with heading back to the beach there at any time. I’ll still probably not ever go back during peak season because with only one real road running north and south I can imagine the traffic is a nightmare. Plus it seems that you can only rent by the week in-season and I would much prefer to spend a week’s vacation somewhere else. However, for a long weekend getaway during shoulder season it’s perfect. The weather was still great, but we could rent for less than a week and it wasn’t nearly as crowded as it would be during the summer.

Dewey Beach is a teeny, tiny little strip of land just south of Rehoboth Beach. It’s only .03 square miles, so as you can imagine there’s not much actually in Dewey. There’s some houses, condos, and hotels along with a few restaurants and stores but if you’re staying there you’re most likely going to want to venture up to Rehoboth where there is a lot more going on. It has a great little downtown area by the beach with lots of little shops, restaurants, and bars. Away from the beach on the main drag you come into the area on there’s a number of outlet stores and what I would consider your more suburban commercial district with your grocery and liquor stores, chain restaurants (and others), etc.

We got into town late on Thursday evening (i.e. around 9:30, which is late because we’re old), so we didn’t really do much other than get to the condo, figure out sleeping arrangements and crash. Friday morning we decided to go out for breakfast and after much searching around on the internets we decided on the Crystal Restaurant in Rehoboth, which turned out to be a good pick. Then we hit the grocery and liquor store for the provisions we needed for the weekend. We decided we wanted to get dessert from a local bakery and found one online that we decided to give a chance. We all laughed when we pulled into the parking lot and realized it was right across a small road from where we had eaten breakfast.

After that we headed to the beach for the first time. I decided to go for a walk since walking on the beach is one of my favorite things to do. I kind of just left everyone else behind because I knew none of them walk as fast as I would nor would they want to walk as far. I walked from the beach where we were staying in Dewey up to the boardwalk in Rehoboth and back. I figure it was about 4 miles round trip.

Friday night we headed into the downtown area of Rehoboth to check it out. We walked around the shops for awhile. I picked up this cute ornament from the Christmas shop there. I love getting Christmas ornaments as souvenirs especially when I can personalize them. There were two sizes of this ornament one with 3 beach chairs and one with 5. I was like aw man I wish they had one with 4 so I could get it and put our names on it. Of course I eventually came up with the brilliant idea of putting in utero Baby U’s name on one of the chairs.

We had dinner at a place called the Shorebreak Lodge, which turned out to be super tasty. They also had a nice little patio/courtyard area that for some reason we were the only ones taking advantage of. It was a great night to dine al fresco so everyone else was totally missing out.

After dinner we grabbed dessert at this crazy ice cream shop that listed over 70 flavors. It was super hard choosing what to get. I limited myself to only their homemade flavors, but that didn’t really put much of a limitation on my choices. A lot of the flavors had very amorphous names that didn’t really describe what they were, which made it even harder. I ended up with something called This Ish the Stuff or something like that. I could not even begin to tell you what was in it because the list of ingredients the guy listed off to me was book length, but it was excellent that is all you need to know.

Our final event of the evening was taking in a drag show at the Blue Moon. It was a little crowded for my taste, but the show was fun. The bar also had a really awesome retractable roof. I think it would be a great bar to hang out in when there’s nothing going on and there weren’t so many people there.

Saturday was our shopping and beach day. We hit the outlet malls in the morning. I am an outlet outlaw though and have a note in my permanent Rehoboth outlet mall file. You can get a coupon book from the services office if you have a AAA card, which I do. I did not however realize that the one I was carrying with me had expired the week before and that my husband hadn’t given me the new one. The lady behind the desk pointed this out to me and grudgingly went ahead and gave me the coupon book, but told me she was making a note in my file about it. So I left the outlet mall with some clothes plus a permanent record.

After grabbing lunch at Big Fish we headed to the beach. I walked to Rehoboth and back again and then settled in to finish the book I was reading. It was a lovely day, and just the very reason we went there. I’m glad the weather cooperated for us.

Saturday was our night in. We cooked dinner, ate all the cheese (plus fig jam YUM!), and played Cranium. Since the baby mama and I can’t drink we dubbed ourselves Team Sober and Darra and Alison made up Team Drunk. I’ll let you guess who won both games. Hint: this is not a Trojan Horse, which was Darra’s guess.

Sunday we spent eating breakfast, packing up and then heading home. It was a great weekend, and I was sad to see it end. I’m sure Kevin will gladly take care of the baby for a weekend so we can do it again next year.

 

Blogs I Love – The Smitten Kitchen September 26, 2012

Filed under: Blogs,Food — dwhren @ 8:56 am

As we have established on this blog before I love food and love to bake but hate to cook. I don’t really bother reading a whole lot of food blogs because mostly they wind up being a whole lot of things I have zero interest in ever making interspersed with a rare recipe that looks really good. Usually if I get an idea to make something I’ll just Google a recipe or stumble upon a recipe that looks really good in some other way. I do enjoy The Smitten Kitchen blog however because the ratio of recipes I’d like to try vs. those I have zero interest in is pretty good. I still don’t make most of them, but they often look drool-worthy. Plus the ones I have tried have all been super tasty. She writes a lot in the blog telling stories surrounding her recipes. I admit I don’t normally read those. I really actually don’t read most of the blog. I see the headline in Google Reader that tells me what the recipe is. If it looks like something I want to try later I mark it, if not I move on. I’m just in it for the food. If you like to cook or bake though I would definitely recommend adding The Smitten Kitchen to your blogroll.

 

Blogs I Love – Cake Wrecks September 25, 2012

Filed under: Blogs — dwhren @ 7:12 am

From time to time I follow what I consider gimmick blogs in which someone creates a blog around some goofy topic. Most of these I’ve tired of rather quickly, but the one that has kept me reading for years is Cake Wrecks. People send in photos of professionally decorated cakes that have gone horribly wrong in one way or another. Some of them would be amusing by themselves, while others are made funny by the hilarious commentary written about the cakes by the blog’s author Jen. It’s rather astounding how many horribly decorated cakes there are out there. This blog always gives me a smile and a good chuckle, which is something everyone can use in their day.

 

Blogs I Love – Wherever Mark Blankenship is Writing September 24, 2012

Filed under: Blogs,Music,Pop Culture,Theatre — dwhren @ 7:53 am

Back to my series about blogs I love. I kind of got distracted from it for no good reason. All the posts were written and set to draft and meant to be published one a day for a little over a week, but that obviously didn’t happen. This week at work is going to be nuts for me at work so it seems the perfect time to start dishing the rest of these out.

This post isn’t so much about a particular blog that I love, but a writer that I really enjoy. Obviously it would be remiss of me to not include a blog that covers music in this series given my own tendency to write about it. I first started reading stuff written by Mark Blankenship on his own pop culture themed blog, The Critical Condition, where he wrote about music, movies, and television. He now has a job writing about music for Logo TV’s NewNowNext blog, so he doesn’t really update The Critical Condition anymore. It’s a little bit harder to follow him now because his posts appear in the midst of a bunch of other stuff posted by other people on that blog that I don’t necessarily care that much about. Although, I can generally pick out his stuff just based on the headline. It also helps that he usually posts a link to Twitter as well.

I like to see what Mark has to say about music because we share a lot of the same taste in music, though he is much more into Euro-pop than I am. I enjoy the fact that he too is a country music fan in addition to pop music and will write about them both. I feel like country music is often shunted off into its own little world, but I love them both so it’s nice to read about them both in the same place.

Mark often introduces me to songs that I haven’t yet heard, which sometimes become huge hits and sometimes not. I first heard Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know on his blog months before I heard it hit mainstream radio and became almost unavoidable. Sometimes though he covers songs that I’m already familiar with and then it’s just fun to see where our opinions align and diverge. We’ve even occasionally posted something about the same song within hours of each other. Though he is a much better writer than I  as is evidenced by the fact that he’s getting paid for his writing and I definitely am not. If you like pop music I suggest you hunt down the posts by Mark Blankenship on the NewNowNext blog.

Mark also works and writes for TDF Stages, which one might guess is all about the theatre. As anyone who reads this blog knows I also love the theatre. However, unlike with writing about music which is I can easily get my hands on, reading this often just makes me feel jealous of all the people getting to see so many shows I will never have the opportunity to see. Honestly I can’t complain too much because between my season tickets to both the Hippodrome for the touring Broadway shows and to CenterStage I get to see a lot of great theatre in my own Baltimore backyard. Plus our nearness to NYC and the fact that my sister-in-law lives there means I also make it up to see Broadway and off-Broadway shows several times per year as well. Anyway, I greatly digress from the topic of this blog post. If you are a fellow lover of the theatre enjoy the behind-the-scenes look at it from Mark Blankenship and his fellow writers at TDF Stages.

 

New Fall 2012 TV September 23, 2012

Filed under: Television — dwhren @ 6:16 pm

There are many reasons that fall is my favorite season and the return of the new television season is one of those reasons. This week is premiere week for the majority of fall shows, which for a television junkie like me means it is a very exciting week. There is a large amount of television airing during the summer these days too. I should probably have written about that at the time, but oh well. The majority of TV still at least premieres in the fall so it’s just easier to think about it at this time of year. I’m ready for the return of my favorite shows as well as excited to check out some of the new shows starting this season.

I’ll still be watching all the shows on this list from last year that are returning this year. I’ll be adding Parks and Recreation to that list of returning shows as well. I watched the first four seasons on Netflix over the summer and fell in love with it just as everyone told me I would, so now it will become part of my regular in season viewing.

In addition I’ll be checking out the following new shows. There wasn’t a whole lot that got me excited when they announced this season’s slate of new shows. There were a couple of shows that I was interested in, but the others I’m giving a chance solely based on the fact that critics I trust gave the pilots favorable reviews. The chances of me making it through the entire season watching all five of these shows is not great, but we will see what happens.

Revolution

This show actually started last week, so it’s the only show on this list of which I’ve seen an episode. The premise of the show is that some mysterious something wiped out all the electricity in the world. Now fifteen years later people are living in a kind of post-apocalyptic return to agrarian society type world being ruled by some militia. The head of the militia is trying to hunt down a particular pair of brothers who he thinks have information about what happened to the electricity. The central characters seem to be the kids of one of the brothers and their uncle, a couple of their friends, and a few militia people. I assume the show is going to feature flashbacks as well since as best I could tell Elizabeth Mitchell’s character didn’t survive to the 15 years later part of episode and she is listed as a member of the cast for all the episodes filmed so far. I’m certainly not sold on this show. The only reason I watched it in the first place is because my husband really likes post-apocalyptic stuff. I on the other hand am not a huge fan of the genre, but really like Elizabeth Mitchell, Giancarlo Esposito, and Billy Burke so I thought I would give it a shot while my husband was watching it. The pilot was as bad as I thought it would be while equally not being so awful that I wouldn’t at least give the show another episode or two to get a better feel for where it’s going. I suspect this will be a show that I quit watching while my husband continues to watch at least for a little while longer than I do.

Ben and Kate

This show I’m watching solely on the recommendation of critics. It’s often really hard to get a feel for what sit-coms will interest me or how they will hold up past their pilots, so I kind of just picked a couple that most of the critics I follow seemed to think had potential. The premise of the show is that Ben and Kate are siblings with very different personalities. Free-spirited Ben moves in with his overly responsible sister Kate to help raise her five year old daughter. Wacky hijinks ensue I’m guessing. As I said the pilot got some good reviews, so we’ll see how the show develops.

The Mindy Project

The Mindy Project is a new sitcom created by and starring Mindy Kaling. She previously wrote for and starred on the American version of The Office, which is a show I never got into. However, based on all kinds of great press I read her book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns). I really enjoyed it. Based on that and premise of this show I decided to give it a whirl. Kaling plays an OB/GYN who loves romantic comedies attempting to get her career off the ground while also finding her Mr. Right. The pilot has gotten much more mixed reviews among critics I follow than Ben and Kate did, but it interests me enough that I’m going try it for at least a couple of episodes.

Last Resort

Last Resort is the newest show created by Shawn Ryan. He of the short-lived Chicago Code, which I really enjoyed while it was on, and The Shield, which I have never watched. I’m not entirely sure of the exact premise for this show other than that it involves a nuclear submarine gone rogue somehow. I would have had zero interest in ever trying this show if it were not for the glowing review Alan Sepinwall gave it. According to him it is the best tv pilot of the new season. Since, as I have mentioned, Alan Sepinwall and I share much of the same taste in television I am taking his word for it and giving it a shot. Whether or not a military themed show manages to hold my interest remains to be seen.

Nashville 

Last, but certainly not least is Nashville. It’s only listed last because it doesn’t actually premiere until October 10 unlike the rest of the shows that premiere this week. When the new slate of television shows for this season was announced Nashville is the only show that I was completely sold on. Connie Britton – SOLD. Hayden Panettiere playing a Taylor Swift-like character – SOLD. Country music – SOLD. Soapy drama – SOLD. I was going to say that I love Connie Britton so much that I would watch her in anything, but that’s a lie because even her presence could not get me to watch American Horror Story. There is no bounds to the happiness I have about her being out of that show after only one season and moving on to a show that is right up my alley. In Nashville, Britton plays an aging country star who is being pushed aside by the new hot sensation played by Hayden Panettiere. I cannot foresee a world in which I will not watch and love every second of this show.

 

Florence + the Machine concert September 20, 2012

Filed under: Concerts,Music — dwhren @ 10:40 am

Last night my friend Tracie and I saw Florence + the Machine in concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion. It’s your typical outdoor concert venue with a pavilion and lawn seats, which I only mention because when the opening act started the temperature on my phone said it was 57 degrees, which is a little chilly for sitting outside for 4 hours. It is also a stark contrast to the temperature the last time I saw Florence + the Machine. They opened for U2 when I saw them in concert at M&T Bank Stadium last summer on one of the hottest days in Baltimore last year. I figured the approximate temperature difference between the two concerts was about 50 degrees, which is kind of mind boggling to me.
There were two opening bands The Maccabees and The Weekend. I liked the first band better than the second, but I probably won’t be looking any further into of their music.

 

Florence + the Machine was fantastic though. As I’ve mentioned many a time before my favorite concerts are ones in which the performers interact with the audience and themselves appear to be having a good time. I’ve been to far too many concerts where they musicians just get up on stage, play as if going through the motions and leave. I know Florence Welch has quite a stage presence, but I wasn’t expecting much from her in the way of audience interaction. Most of her songs are these grand, sweeping, epic things that almost lend themselves to the kind of concert where there is no audience interaction. She came out and sang the first three songs straight through without saying anything, so I expected that to be the way the whole concert was going to go. After the third song though she stopped to talk to the audience and encourage some participation. After that she generally said something between each song. It wasn’t any kind of behind the music storytelling, which is something I really like in a concert, but at least she was definitely engaged with the audience. Her pronunciation of Maryland, which she said a lot during the concert, amused me greatly. She said it more like Mary land as opposed to how American’s pronounce it. I also noticed both her and various members of the Machine (I guess) with huge grins on their faces at various points in the concert, so they were obviously enjoying themselves and that’s all I really ask.

As previously alluded to Florence Welch definitely has a stage presence. Both times I’ve seen her live she has worn these sweeping, flowing outfits that are perfect for all the movement she does on stage. There’s lots of dancing, jumping, sweeping arm movements, spinning, etc. I kind of get the impression that she lives on an entirely different plane of existence than I do and I find it kind of awesome.

Usually going into concerts I have a handful of songs that I’m hopeful the musicians will play. I didn’t have anything specifically in mind for last night because as you may have noticed by the many times I have already written about (ok that last one isn’t really about Florence, but the video clip featured in the post is set to a Florence song that I love) Florence + the Machine on this blog I love just about all of her music. I’m sure at some point I’ll write about more of her songs. If someone has pressed me though and insisted I tell them what songs I wanted to hear I probably would have gone with Howl and Never Let Me Go, sadly neither of which she played. However, I’m not sure what songs I would have had her cut from the set in order to play those, so I guess it doesn’t matter.

If you get the chance to see Florence + the Machine in concert I highly recommend it. I heard that when she is done with this tour she plans to take at least a year off from music so you might want to jump on that now if possible. For now I will leave you with one of my favorite songs from last night via someone’s camera phone video.

 

 

On Living with Invisible Illness September 14, 2012

Filed under: Life — dwhren @ 8:00 am

It came to my attention through one of the blogs I read that this week is Invisible Illness week. I just found out about it and it ends today, so I guess I’m getting this in just under the wire. I am super lucky to be blessed with not one but two invisible illnesses to celebrate this week. About seven and a half years ago I was diagnosed with both Crohn’s disease and a related type of arthritis that about 25% percent of people with Crohn’s have.

Being invisible illnesses they are both very easy for me to not talk about or point out to people. The most common thing for me to talk about in regards to either of them is telling people I don’t drink because of medication I’m on. Even though I rarely go into specifics. It’s not because I try and hide either of the illnesses, though I easily could at least at the moment, but rather when I’m feeling good there’s little reason to talk about them. Not to mention the fact that I think Crohn’s disease is just about the least sexy illness anyone could ever have (not that any illness is really sexy). I would much rather talk about my joint pain any day than have a conversation about my digestive system.

You may be asking yourself, self why is she talking about have chronic diseases on a blog about things that make her happy. My response would certainly be no having chronic illnesses does not make me happy, but even in the midst of them there are things that I can be happy about.

First there are good things about having an illness that is invisible. Unlike people who have illnesses that are obvious I don’t have to be subject to unwanted questions or stares or whatever people who can’t hide have to face. This isn’t always a positive thing because if you’re sick people expect you to look sick and most of the time I just don’t even if I’m feeling crappy.

Second, I am lucky enough to have contracted these illnesses in a period of time where modern medicine has created drugs that are mostly keeping both of my illnesses in remission. I have been through rough periods with both my illness, though definitely far worse with the arthritis. I have gone for months where I could barely walk and not slept because of the pain. I am happy to report though that thanks to a cocktail of drugs that I take every day I mostly am able to live my life forgetting that I even have either of these diseases. I hope that will continue to be the case. I still have bad days sometimes and am never really 100% pain free, but for the most part I am able to live a normal life.

Third, I am lucky enough to continue to have a job that provides me with good health insurance so that I can afford those drugs that keep me functioning. If I had to pay out of pocket costs I would be a mess as there would be little chance I could afford to just pay for the doctors’ visits let alone the astronomical costs of some of medications.

Finally, I’m grateful to have an awesome husband who has taken care of me when I’ve been falling apart, who has driven me to medical procedures, who makes sure that I take my medications when I forget, and who could have left the sickly girlfriend who he had only been dating for 4 months but who stuck around and married her.

Life with chronic illness is never fun, but I can definitely say that it changes the way I look at things in my life.