Tuesday, November 29, 2011


* Yesterday was my Aunt's birthday, so in honor of her that is why I have been posting many of my Life Experiences that I have shared with her or that she has been a part of . I hope to go on many more of my adventures with her.

When: Easter 2004

Where: Maryland

Why I wanted to do this: Well, it wasn't real thought out, I was sitting around with two of my best girlfriends and we said 'hey wouldn't be fun to go on a road trip next week' and I said ' I know! we'll go to Maryland to surprise my Aunt!'

Girls-remember our bartender Edward?!
Cost: Gas and a little food...maybe a few hundred dollars shared between 3 people.

How I paid for it: It is very hard for me to believe this but I think I only had about $100 for the trip--I would NEVER do something like that now!!!! In fact it may have been 100 dollars that was available on a credit card....(I know it's no surprise that I am in credit card debt-let this be a lesson!)

What would I do differently? Something....... at least I should have called her boyfriend and ASKED HIM IF THIS WAS OK!!!!

Will I do it again? I would love to! BUT now that I have a child I don't think a 'surprise visit' to anyone is a good idea, I wish I would have planned more surprise visits to people before I had a baby.

Something I would recommend? YES!!! However, you have to be sneaky and discrete when trying to gather information about the person's schedule, AND you have to be prepared mentally and financially in the event that the individual is busy or maybe is not so happy to see you. So I think it's great, and best if it is only ONE PERSON making the surprise visit-it was really rude of me to show up in Maryland with two of my girlfriends whom my Aunt and her boyfriend had never even met.

Good gift/surprise? I think it is one of the most grand gestures to show someone you love them, it's a lot of planning, time, effort, money and courage as it could really backfire. You also have to make this decision based on the person's personality, it might not be something that is welcomed...now in my case I WOULD JUST LOVE A SURPRISE VISIT!!!!! Obviously this is only welcomed when it's out of state-a surprise visit from someone who lives in the same county as you is just pesky.

Life changing? Yes, of course, I have a great story, I learned from my mistakes, and it was on this trip that I had one of the most fun nights of my life-so I think that every time a great memory is created your life changes for the better.

My recollection of the trip: One day Crystal, Jenny and I were sitting around and came up with this terrific  idea on the spur of the moment to drive to Maryland and surprise my Aunt. So the next week we were off! The road trip itself was great, we laughed the entire time! Then when we arrived in Maryland we had a VERY difficult time finding my Aunt's house so I had to call her. She was out having drinks with friends and thought it was so funny that I had called her cell phone that she never uses (which I had to call her ex-husband and get the phone number) I said "Guess what? I'm in Maryland! I'm with Jenny and Crystal and we'd like to see you!" She was VERY SURPRISED. But Roxanne and Bob did welcome us with open arms and very sweetly she said to me "you're always welcome...just tell me about it first".

   I think we stayed 3 nights too! Which is probably too long for a surprise visit, although one of those nights we did stay at a hotel in Annapolis....which ended up being the most fun and wild night of my life spent in a bar called ACME! I won't go into to details as I do not want to compromise my friendships but we didn't pay for a single drink, we got 'pulled over' for j-walking, Jenny slept in the bath tub and I made plans that night to move to Maryland after someone promised me a job at Applebee's. I think all 3 of us will remember that night forever and giggle every time we think about it.

We had accidentally snuck in a case of rolling rock and then replaced the Corona case holding the condiments on the table.

Girls-remember me trying to open that door in front of those soldiers?! LOL

Monday, November 28, 2011


I have been to Chicago Illinois many times and lived there for 2 months earlier this year. Where it's not the prettiest state there are a lot of things to do. I have done many of these things posted below and some are on my LIFE LIST to do. I just enjoy doing my travel tips and hopefully I can give you some ideas! Let me know if I'm missing anything amazing!

Hardy's Reindeer Ranch
 Stupid question---Buffalo.

The Drake Hotel
This one is on my LIFE LIST!

If you see a Portillo's in Illinois, you really ought to stop, it's a different kind of fast food restaurant.

Willis Tower Skydeck
This looks so exhilarating!! This IS on my LIFE LIST!

Chick fil a
There is no question about-this IS fast food at its finest. There are fresh flowers on each table so....it's pretty fancy.

Temple Lipizzans
If you ever have a chance to see Lipizzaner Stallions-take it! They are incredible horses!

Shedd Aquarium  

Great aquarium! BUT buy your tickets online to avoid LONG lines just to get in and check the internet before you go, we were able to get a buy one get one free coupon at $27 pp -!

I saw this on the Travel Channel, it is outside of Chicago-it was fun and we got some cute pics of us with the hot dogs in the background.

A must if you are in the city!

Eagle Watching

Skating in the Sky
Can you imagine ice skating while looking at this view? I would LOVE to do this!!!

Magnificent Mile
It's always fun shopping in a big city, but dress warm!!

St Patrick's Day

It's not on my LIFE LIST yet, but I'm thinking about putting it on there-Chicago has a huge parade-it would be a blast to be a part of this!

Chicago Botanic Garden
Surprisingly a lot of fun-my expectations weren't all that high for a garden, but it was intoxicating-this is a perfect place to take anyone of any age for any occasion.

Fountain in Millennium Park
So much fun in the summer!

Navy Pier

Personally, I am not wild about Navy Pier but a lot of people seem to be.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


When: February 2008

Where: Medieval Times, Baltimore Maryland

Why I wanted to do this: I saw it on that Bam Margara show and thought it might be fun, there are only a few locations and knowing there was one in Baltimore and I had decided to visit my Aunt in Maryland, a Friend in New York and another friend in Pennsylvania that year during my spring break.

Cost: $57 per person-which included a full dinner and 3 hours of entertainment.

How I paid for it: o I'm sure I put it on a credit card...I had just lost my job.

What I would do differently: Nothing.

Will I go again? I would go again with my daughter.

We were having a pretty good time.

Something I would recommend? Yes! I know it is especially cheesy BUT considering you get a good, big dinner and entertainment and it's incredible to see these horses that are so well trained-it's worth the price.

Good gift/surprise? I think so, for someone who is not too serious.

Life changing? YES! Not directly but it certainly played a role.

ACCIDENTAL LIFE EXPERIENCE:  In February 2008 I decided to visit a few friends in New England, the first stop was to my friend Katie's House in upstate New York to see her new baby, then onto Ann Marie's in Philadelphia to see her Second City show, and from there to Washington D.C. to visit my Aunt. It seemed easy enough. While at Katie's house we were watching the news and there was non stop talk of an imminent blizzard headed right towards the area I was headed, it was hard to believe it was as big of a deal as they said because it wasn't even snowing outside in New York. The main thing was that I made it to D.C. by Sunday afternoon so we could make it to our Medieval Times show (I think we had already bought our tickets) Katie suggested I stay another night so I didn't get stuck in the snow storm but I didn't want to miss my girlfriend's comedy show so I was off on a Friday morning with nothing but a few flakes falling. I hopped into my rear wheel dodge charger and was off-about an hour later I was in a very heavy snow storm and feeling very tense as I had forgotten that were mountains in New York. I know the exact moment where things went wrong...although I didn't realize it until many hours later. The roads were getting more and more steep and winding, the snow and ice thicker by the second. I knew I was only about a 2-3 hour drive to Ann Marie's place in Pennsylvania so I kept on driving, of course it would take much longer due to the extreme weather conditions. I was very scared, my car was swerving all over the place, I was passing one flipped car after another.  The main thing on my mind as I was passing so many exits for Boston was, 'wow, I didn't realize Boston was so close to Philadelphia'...... I think it was then that I realized something was not quite right. Since this was before I had a gps I called my husband and asked if he could look up how close I was to Pipersville Pennsylvania, he said he couldn't find any of the names on the map so I stopped at a tiny gas station and had to walk in and ask "what state is this?" ....this is when I was informed  that I WAS NOT in Pennsylvania but in Massachusetts and I had driven about 300 miles East instead of South. Yes, I realize that this IS ACTUALLY a scene from 'Dumb and Dumber' and this is the first time I have ever been able to laugh about it since it happened 4 years ago. I do see the humor in the whole scenario now but it was very frustrating, very stressful, so embarrassing and I just wanted to slam my head into concrete boulder. I was so upset and knew the only thing I could do was stop and get a hotel for the night. The nearest town was Sturbridge, Mass, it was such a charming little town and even more beautiful covered in three feet of snow. I called Ann Marie to tell her what happened and she told me in a very matter of fact voice that it seemed as though I had driven directly into the eye of the blizzard. Then I remember sitting in my hotel room with some very strong drinks, smoking in my non-smoking room and talking on the phone to my grandma and grandpa in Florida. Apparently the combination of too much stress and too many cocktails knocked me out in such a deep sleep that I woke up to the manager of the hotel pounding on my door and calling out my name. I answered the door and he said that my husband had tried calling my cell phone and room phone a number of times and when I didn't answer became very worried.
   So how did the Medieval Times change my life- I became stuck in the worst blizzard I could possibly imagine because I was trying to make it to D.C. on a certain day and certain time to make it for the show, and because of this I was forced to be alone with myself and my thoughts and this trip became a defining moment in my life because while on it, my mind changed about EVERYTHING and so many things became so clear to me. I think if I had not gone on this trip and had this experience my thought process would still be as screwed up as it was before. I OFTEN think about this and how it truly altered my life.

HOW IS THAT A PERSON COULD ACTUALLY BE DENSE ENOUGH TO DRIVE 300 MILES AND 6 HOURS IN THE WRONG DIRECTION???? All I had was my mapquest directions and sometimes Mapquest does something stupid like have you make a few turns only to end up on the same road you were previously on....well as I said the roads were so bad and I just glanced at the directions which said to merge onto an East bound highway then I looked at the next set of mileage which was around 298 miles or so, I put down  the directions and drove until I hit 298 miles. The next step in the directions that I missed was to merge BACK ONTO the south bound highway I had already been on.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


A guide on achieving life goals 
           to become better people,              
   improve our quality of life 
and enjoy every moment to the fullest. 

When: I began learning Russian when I was 7 years old-around 1990

Where: At my Aunt Roxanne's house, I started going over to her house on Tuesdays for a 'cooking lesson' I would help her make dinner, play with my cousin, go on the computer and she would teach me Russian. At the end of the evening she would pay me $2 and then I would walk home on a path through the woods.

Why I wanted to do this: I don't remember how my lessons started but she spent years in Army Russian Intelligence. She picked Russian because she wanted the smallest chance possible of being sent to war. It's funny to me how a simple decision on her part has effected MY own life so substantially and thus my daughter's life, who is 14 months old and I now give her Russian lessons every single day- I hope it has an equally grand effect on her life as well.

Cost: Free until I took Russian courses in collage at Oakland Community College which my mom paid for.

How I paid for it: I have not yet had to pay for much, other than some books here and there.

What would I do differently? When I began attending college, my plan was to major in Russian Language and Literature, however the year I started was also the same year they discontinued the Russian program, I was devastated and I wish I would have gone to another collage to pursue my dream, if I had I could have a very lucrative career. Although at the same time, had I gone to another collage I would not have made the incredible friendships, memories and experiences that I will have forever.

Will I do it again? I haven't given up on my dreams of not only becoming proficient in Russian but also of pursuing a career where I could use it-in fact just writing about it now makes me want to get going again!

Something I would recommend? Yes of course, for me it sparked a flaming passion for languages and I'm not just talking specifically about Russian, it could be any language  This will not happen for every single person but it will create an opportunity for you to able to talk to someone you probably never would, you'll have confidence boosting experiences and you may end up traveling somewhere you never thought you would be able to. It makes you more attractive to employers and let's face it more attractive to the opposite sex-anything in other languages is sexy (except languages that use clicks), you can teach it to your children-
Second language acquisition is exceptionally simple when you are young, so I would recommend teaching your children from a very early age. I have been teaching my daughter 6 languages since the day she was born, I do not expect that she will be fluent by the time she starts school but I am certain that she will have advantages other children do not. Being bilingual or multilingual undoubtedly will make you a better person overall. Learning another language also increases the way your brain works by making it possible for you to learn things easily as well as can diminish the possibility of ever having to live with alzheimers and dementia. And my favorite reason "to understand the real nature of the human soul it is necessary to have a knowledge of several languages."

Would it make a good gift/surprise?  In my opinion the gift of language is one of the five greatest gifts you could give a person.

Life changing? I can't say it changed my life at 7 years old-it completely carved out the direction of my life and made me who I am. Because my Aunt taught me Russian at such a young age I developed such a vigorous passion for languages including French, Arabic, German and Hebrew (as well as Albanian, Polish, Portuguese but only in small doses). Because of this I developed incredible friendships not only with foreigners but also with like minded people-so I wouldn't have the friends I have today, the experiences I've had, the education I've had, and I wouldn't be interested in the things I'm interested in -not to mention I wouldn't have the stories I tell and the memories I've made which include some of my most favorite and proud moments of my life....you know I'm going to tell you what they are...

1. When I was 19 someone surprised me by taking me to a Russian submarine in Rhode Island. It was so fascinating for me to be able to walk through this sub and be able to read and understand what was written. When the tour was over I asked if I could walk through again so I could take the time to look at all the writing. The guides were so excited that I could read Russian, this time they followed me and asked me questions because they didn't know what any of it meant. I felt on top of the world.

2. When I was 21 I worked at a hotel in an undesirable position but I liked working there because it was so international. One morning in the breakfast hall I was speaking with a German man in French and some of the Mexicans walked in so I greeted them in Spanish, then my boss and I exchanged words in English and right after that the three Russians I worked with came up to me with questions (in Russian) about the word of the day I had posted. In about a five minute time span I had had conversations in 4 languages. I could feel all eyes on me, hopefully thinking 'what is this bright girl doing running the breakfast buffet?' I felt so impressed with myself!

3. Most recently, my daughter who is 13 months old demonstrated that she fully comprehends the word for 'please' in Russian. If she hands something to someone and I say 'pashalstya' she will pick it up and give to me or if she is eating and I say it she will pick up her food and put it in my mouth. The first time she did this I almost cried I was so proud of her-my daughter understands her first word in a second language- that's amazing!

I love all the languages I study but Russian is the most dear to my heart.

Great quotes about learning a second language:

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart." Nelson Mandela

"One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way." 
Frank Smith

"The limits of my language are the limits of my world." Ludwig Wittgenstein

"To have another language is to possess a second soul."

Monday, November 21, 2011


Not every experience is all that you hoped it would be....

When: November 2009

Where: The Circular dining room at the Hershey Hotel, in Hershey Pennsylvania

Why I wanted to do this: This was the morning that I was able to cross something else off my life list-  eating black truffles. It was only fitting that I was going to also complete this task with my Aunt. For my birthday about two years ago she gave me a book called “____tastes”( I just cannot remember the name) and this is where I got my idea to try the rare and very expensive French truffle. A mushroom that is hidden beneath the ground and so impossible to detect by humans alone that canines are specially trained to search out this little fungus. It sounded so exotic I just had to try it…and they were in twelve font cursive but clear as the sky itself-this is the only time I have ever seen them on a menu.

Cost: Maybe around $20 for black truffle essence added to my tomato omelet

What would I do differently? Well, I didn't get to enjoy my fancy breakfast that morning but I had always wanted to try them and this was the perfect place!

Will I do it again? NO!!!!

Something I would recommend? I would not necessarily recommend you try black truffles but I do urge you try EVERYTHING that you would like to try and experience.

Make a good gift/surprise? For me- THIS WOULD BE MORE LIKE REVENGE, sneaking truffles into my food would be a very sneaky way to get back at me for something. However for a person who enjoys truffles this would be a tremendous treat as they are EXTREMELY expensive-around $1000/ pound.

Life changing?  Well it is a reminder that just because it is expensive, that does not mean it is incredible. Usually I apply this rule to life because it's  true-things which are cheap in price are usually cheap in quality.

My review of black truffles:   Upon taking the first bite the scent instantly invaded my little unprepared nostrils. It was such a bizarre and awful aroma that I thought 'no this can’t be right.' I was only able to take about two more bites before my body told me it was going to physically reject it if I did not stop now. I couldn’t get this smell out of my nose and the taste off my innocent and unforgiving tongue. I needed to locate a bowl of chocolate kisses immediately. I thought the narrative of the taste of truffles would best be described as a fungus flavored cleaning solvent. I was wrong. Nearly fourteen hours later it was worse, much worse. I am not being dramatic when I say that I’m sure that it would be more correctly associated with what rotting human flesh might taste like. On the plus side at least now I know, it’s off my list and out of my system!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Experiences like these keep me mindful of how lucky I am.

When:    November 2009

Where:   Chocolate Spa at The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Pennsylvania

Why I wanted to do this:   I saw it on the Travel Channel- I am obviously easily persuaded by the Travel Channel. I decided to ask my Aunt to accompany me as she not only is as in love with chocolate as am I, but she is a person who appreciates all things lavish as well. We decided to go for her birthday, as I always like to add it is most important to chose the perfect partner when going on your adventures and I did this time! It would not have been the same with anyone else.

Cost:   Room Rate $300/night.....cocoa bath $45

How I paid for it:   The advantage of going with someone is that you can split the cost of the room which we did so it doesn't seem as staggering to shell out $150 for a hotel room but I'm not gonna lie I did put everything else on credit cards. It was pricey but the ambiance, grandeur and memories easily were worth ever penny.

What I would do differently:   I would very much so like to return to the hotel and spa and here’s how I would like it play out. I’d stay for 3 nights and get every single chocolate spa treatment available to me. I would also bring little bottles of booze to put in the pocket of my robe so that I could be so totally relaxed in between treatments. Having all the cocoa treatments would be approx 4 treatments each day, which would pretty much take up my whole day. I would then go back to my room, put on the robe hanging in my closet. A robe that is softer than any other robe in the world. After that I would spend the rest of the evening sitting on the most comfortable bed, order a pizza or maybe Chinese and watch movies all night. Every room is equipped with a DVD player and a large plasma TV. The room is so exquisite and homey feeling, why leave! Of course before I even checked in I would purchase a few Hershey’s scented candles from the gift shop downstairs so my room would smell like chocolate the whole evening. In the mornings I might go to the circular dining room for a fancy breakfast....oh how I love a fancy breakfast.

Will I go again?   I hope I have the extraordinary pleasure of being a pampered guest once again at this hotel-it is luxury in its finest hour.

Something I would recommend?    YES YES YES! It is imperative that you do not visit the Hotel Hershey with a diabetic, a cheapskate, someone with ADD, a bachelor looking for love, a young girl celebrating her 21st birthday or a person who does not appreciate the finer things in life. This is a four star resort and a place to come and simply relax. I would also like it to be known that if I am ever in a terminal state, I would like to spend some of my final days here.

Was it life changing?    OF COURSE! Indulging in the finer things in life, especially when you are not a wealthy person is even more of a treat and becomes that much more special.

My review of the rooms:  They are beautifully decorated, the beds are astonishingly comfortable, you are equipped with plush robes and plenty of chocolate, the bathrooms are charming-all around you get your moneys worth and then some.

My review of the town:   As far as the town itself goes, I think a must see for every visitor is the main street that is lined with street lights that look like Hershey kisses. It’s cute and you can get some good photos. We went into the town to visit the Hershey Story and unless you intend to write your doctoral thesis on the life of Milton Hershey you need not waste your time and money. Chocolate World is the place to go. This is the place to buy reasonably priced souvenirs and you can take a free tour to see how chocolate is made.

My review of the spa-   The hotel's most notable attribute is the spa where you can indulge in chocolate treatments- would you expect anything less? We chose the cocoa whipped bath and I have to say that I was disappointed as I expected to actually sit in a tub filled with melted chocolate, which is what I thought I remembered being advertised on the travel channel, but maybe it was just wishful thinking. So although I did not bask in the thick liquid the soak was delightful. Firstly, you walk into the very posh ladies locker room, with painted ceilings and dark wooden lockers and you are given a surprisingly comfortable robe and slippers, then your hostess escorts you to your bath. It’s a private room with an oversizedoversized overly comfortable leather chairs. There was a spread of coffee, teas, thick hot cocoa, muffins, and fruit. We sat by the fireplace and talked and then relocated to the chairs next to the window over looking the gardens and fountains, I couldn’t stop thinking what a magical place this would be for a wedding. So in the end the price was absolutely worth it because it wasn't just a 20 minute bath, it was 3 hours of relaxation.

My review of the hotel:   The hotel itself is beautiful, everything from the carpet to the walls to the ceiling is uniquely decorated and intricately detailed. We did visit in late November so it was spectacular to see it decorated for Christmas although you do miss out on seeing the lovely gardens and flowers which do look so pretty in all the pictures I've seen. There is chocolate everywhere-overflowing blows of assorted Hershey chocolates which you are able to help your self to. You need not purchase any chocolate while on this trip- it will be in every hallway, on your pillow and handed to you at every doorway, suffice to say, it is the greatest place in the universe.

My review of the restaurants:    The first meal we had was at the new Harvest dining room. I think the best thing this restaurant has to offer was the walk there as it is not connected to the hotel so in order to get there you must walk through the garden and my favorite part…down the winding limestone staircase. Neither the food, the atmosphere nor the view was impressive I am sorry to say. With that being said, I am no one to listen when it concerns fine cuisine. I am rigidly biased when it comes to my meats and that night- I knew better. I should have stuck with chicken-how can such a tiny creature generate so much flavor? What was I thinking ordering the ribs? Who the hell did I think I was? I was on vacation and thought I’d get fancy but I know better than that. It’s not often that I falter from my feathered friend but when I do it consistently serves as a reminder that where I may have an adventurous spirit, my taste buds are stuck in a rut, a delicious rut that works perfectly in any meal.  According to my McDonalds quality palate I had similar feelings about the meal in the circular dining room. However, if you are like me and mainly concerned with ambiance, it really doesn’t matter what the food taste like here, its grandeur trumps your repas. The ceiling is a stunning mural and if you look closely you will see that each division tells a different story. The windows are all stained glass and over look the garden. When you are seated the hostess pulls out your chair and then pushes it in when after you have sat down, then she places the cloth napkin on your lap. The place setting was a lovely china, you are given sugar cubes to put in your coffee. And every table is given small glass jars of assorted jams and miniature glass bottles of ketchup. To me those things make the meal special. I wish I could be charmed every morning with a set up like this. I would say that this is my favorite restaurant in the world.

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