Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Red sparkles in Maine

Here’s some of favorite photos Jordan and I took from this week’s activities around Portland.

My L.L. Bean red sneakers purchased for about $12 (on sale) from llbean.com

Wild daises on Mackworth Island

What a great view of the bay!

Lovely white tree bark on the island

Jordan admiring the coast

On the ferry to Peaks Island

It sure is windy!

Looking too cool for school

We rented bikes on the honor system

Biking the 4-mile loop

Lobster pods

Spiky twig

"Look mom, it's a boat!"

New England prep

Too good-looking not to be poisonous

Taking advantage of low-tide in York, Maine


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Horse farms. KFC. The smell of wood burning fireplaces. Rebecca Ruth’s bourbon balls. Two wired-haired fox terriers (and one that wears a pink Snuggie). My bathtub. Hot tub.

Kentucky bourbon balls to the rescue! (courtesy of myownsweettyhme.blogspot.com)

These are the things involving my spring break officially beginning at 5 p.m., Thursday, March 18, that is after I ride the CTA for 1 hour, 30 minutes, fly Southwest for 45-minutes, and drive back from the Louisville airport to my homestead of Frankfort, Kentucky.

Living in Chicago has made me appreciate – for the first time in my life – warm weather and just how joyful it is. The everyday process of picking up my wool beanie from my shelf, gathering my mittens from a random pile of outerwear, applying sunscreen and lip balm, and zipping up my puffy coat, really gets old after two months. And not to say, ancient, after three or four. When I call my boyfriend in Durham, North Carolina and he tells me he just completed a bike trip in 55 degree weather, I feel more jealous than that time in high school when the prom queen wore the same dress as me. What else get’s old? Here’s a list.

Looking at this hopelessly frozen lakefront. When spring/summer finally comes, I can make luxurious jogs, take sailing lessons, and ooooo and awww over peoples’ cute goldendoodles. But until then, I stare and point my mean finger at grumpy Lake Michigan.

Wearing the wrong shoes when I should have worn my rubber snow boots. At least 10 times this has happened. I don’t appreciate salt stains on my good tall, leather boots and I don’t like moist wool socks.

A snow day wearing appropriate shows - my hunter wellies.

It’s 6 p.m. and dark. Day light savings, oh where oh where are you?

•Chapped/wind-burned thighs and cheeks. Long Johns take up too much time to put on in the morning. I want to wear shorts, skirts and dresses, not five layers of winter wear!

•Humidifiers that force you to clean them with white vinegar (you don’t have) and bleach every week. Sorry, I’ll just sleep with a stuffy nose and sore throat.

•Seeing your own breath.

Today a friend did remind me of one piece of hope: Day light savings takes affect March 14. Then there’s spring break – also known as a heat wave.

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(Photo courtesy of imagecache5.art.com)

Today we went to Foster’s, a strange, unorganized old-people market place that hip law students like to go to in Durham. I ordered a veggie and brie loaf and a mac n’ chicken concoction. The meal was completely satisfying, but I wanted more. More meaning I didn’t just want dessert, I demanded it, needed it, craved it. You get the point. It seems that dessert after lunch, and dessert after dinner have become addiction events. I’ve waken up before at 2 a.m. in this confused state of being when I’ve eaten limited amounts of sugar and baked fat hours before – a dessert withdrawal, I like to call it – and because I had no stocked cookies or chocolate milk to reach for, I had  to, with much guilt and shame, pop a raspberry Tums chew.

“You might just lose six pounds in a week if you don’t eat your desserts, Whitney,” My BF tells me. I tell him to shove it. Then I think, what if I can really combat the sweets attack? I forgot to mention I’m already on the right track. Like today at Foster’s, he took my hand and made sure I avoided eye contact with the peach bread pudding, or with the tiny kids pack of gummy bears. I failed to tell him about the apple cider latte and shortbread sugar cookies (with sprinkles!) I enjoyed yesterday around 2 p.m. when he was studying at the library and when I got bored at Barnes & Noble. So right now I’m experiencing (mild) withdrawal, typing away and every now and then glancing at the half empty plastic Coke bottle that’s not mine being occupied by some crazy law student that must study on a Saturday (on Fall break!) I can drink water all day, and cut out the soda pop, the teas, and maybe the juices. That’s a start, right?

This past week, on my Fall break adventures in Savannah, we awoke at 9 a.m., and diligently marched down to the podium on Bull Street to put our name in for lunch at Paula Deen’s The Lady and Sons. The slogan on the restaurant told us we needed to Put Some South In Our Mouths. “Sure, Paula” I said. “Bring it on, Sista.” So we came back at for our 12:30 appointment with Paula (Well, just with her spirit). Food Coma. Food heaven. Foodie paradise. Foodie Heaven. Foodie Love. ETC., ETC., ETC.

Post Paula’s Buffet Pig-out, our waiter offered us free dessert via a stocked tray of cobblers and banana puddings. So why would I ever need to say no to an after meal delight? That would be just plan rude. You would think I would be full from Paula’s buffet consisting of sweet potatoes, creamed corn, green beans, fried chicken, smashed potatoes, and bakes apples. Nope. Can’t pass up free dessert.

Then there’s that stupid idea about moderation, which is always something to strive for yet presented on a freakishly thin line as thin as Ralph Lauren alters its models’ bodies. Am I a moderate person? Does balancing exercise and all-I-can-drink water with fatty dessert count? Why, sure. I used to jog and do sit-ups and partial routines from that workout series called P90X. Well that all ended about two weeks ago. Shoot fire. Maybe I need self therapy, just talk it out.

What’s so great about dessert that I always want it? I’ll just blame others. My mom brainwashed me into thinking it’s A-OK to buy Pepperidge Farm chocolate cookies and avocado dip and pecan rolls and cupcakes and Chess pie all in one grocery store outing. She always encouraged a good dessert after dinner, and not a cook or baker at heart, the majority of our desserts were store bought so I guess we could never really control the high amounts of sugar we consumed. My dad, though, would always condemn our sugar buying habits and instead opt for vegetables and meats that would typically always go uneaten and stink up the fridge. Then there was those days we would have to hide our sweets purchases in the back of the panty in hopes of him not becoming a hypocrite secretly eating my fudgesicles and pecan spin wheels that were to go in my lunch box. Shame on him.

Shame on me.

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one tree hill shoot(photo courtesy of luminanews.com)

Yesterday, I didn’t just make it to the beach in Wilmington, but had the privilege to carry out a much anticipated writing assignment. Because of sad circumstances, I – the intern – was to the rescue. Still, not having completed my 1,000-word assignment, I shall take the time to reminisce on my eye-opening time yesterday. I justify the following graphs with my mantra: “This is sort of a brainstorming activity.”

Studio Gems. That’s where I was. A production-rental studio in Wilmington, North Carolina that many people outside of the South would be shocked to learn is the home of One Tree Hill and the former Dawson’s Creek. But I’m more intrigued with Nights in Rodanthe and A Walk to Remember. Those were also shot in the streets of Wilmington and Carolina Beach. While all of OTH’s actors were live in person on stage 9, we only managed to visit another stage belonging to the teen soap. Speaking of soaps, Bill Vassar, executive VP, told me OTH has the largest fan following in TV history. It’s a soap for teens, a soap trumping Guiding Light (who had its last episode yesterday). Carla, who carted us around via golf cart told us about two teenage girls that had made their way all the way from France to stalk the set of OTH. Since they couldn’t get clearance to hang out with the actors, they chilled by a back gate and freaked when they saw one the lighting crew men, proceeding to take photos. Then there was the story of all the OTH fan groups that flock to the place yearly.

As our golf cart pulled up to the door of an enormously huge white building, I didn’t really know what to expect. What would a set look like? Would I view movies in the same way after this experience. The answer was no. I will elaborate on that answer shortly. This particular studio space was home to a set of a living room (and I can’t tell you who’s because I’ve never actually seen one episode of the show), an in-ground pool, and a game show set that one of the characters is currently participating in. For exterior shots, there’s a real mahogany glass front door and background woodsy-looking curtain. You know, for when you look at your bedroom window or deck door. Most the appliances are real and at the end of using the set, there’s an auction of all the stuff just for the employees. Sadly there was no glimpse of Chad Michael Murray or the other actors who I wouldn’t be able to identify. Oh well.

Then, I’m thinking how in this world am I supposed to tell the story of this place? My story (soon-to-be written) needs to have that great story-telling feel, that feeling that belongs in the glossy and smell-good pages of Our State magazine. Honestly, I’m still intimidated since the most recent articles have been filled with some of the best damn sentences I think I’ve ever read. You see, some writers – and I mean, REAL writers – have this talent and ability, I continue to desire, that’s able to take a mundane, cliche place and put it in these crazy, ridiculous words. For example, describing a viaduct in lame man’s terms would go something like this: The Linn Cove Viaduct is popular this time of year when the leaves turn rich shades of gold and red. But REAL writers would say something like this: Every fall, if you roll your window down while crossing the Linn Cove Viaduct, you can hear fawns splashing through intertwining creeks and caterpillars bursting from cocoons lining the bark of trees that shed their skin. Thanks. I wrote that last one.

Back to my tour, my adventure, and my breakthrough assignment as a writer. When the original assigned writer didn’t produce exactly what my editors were looking for, they panicked for a bit. After contacting at least 5-7  other notable writers (including talks of Daniel Wallace), I decided to step in. Yes, I was a bit hesitant of potentially facing a big, yet polite, “No.” Lesson learned; ask for what you want, and sometimes you may actually get it. So I did, and I got it. The miniscule intern got the assignment usually reserved for accomplished and deserving writers.  Now the pressure’s on. I must write this piece aimed toward the 45-year-old, educated North Carolina (and what I’ve heard, even Belgium) reader. After all, the piece will fall in the “Year of the North Carolina Vacation” and most importantly, have a shelf life of FOREVER.

Last night, and after my tour of Screen Gems, I watched Julie & Julia, the much anticipated blog turned movie. Luckily for the real life Julie Powell, blogs weren’t “the hype” in 2002. So she got followers, and slowly more and more of them. Where are my followers? I want more. Anyway, and this would probably happen with any movie, I couldn’t separate my newly acquired knowledge of making movies and the make-believe realm of the movie world apart. In other words, I kept mumbling to myself, “that’s a set, not a real house” and “that’s a fake cityscape of Paris” and “that’s totally a fake kitchen and totally done-up food with lipstick and car oil and crazy glue.”

I hated myself during those moments. What happened to letting movies take you away in their world, and letting your issues temporarily disappear? So now I’m wondering if people in the film industry can’t watch movies as non-film industry people do?

To conclude this long entry, here’s some magazine-worthy material …

1. Taking a public tour (which occur on Saturday & Sundays at noon and 2 p.m.) may be interesting, but what’s so cool about the studios is the history and the people behind it. Not consulting my notes, I do believe Screen Gems is the third owner. First created by a director who needed a place to shoot the inside of a plantation, soon to be blown up, the studios was first built in the 1940s. In case you want more history, that’s for the most part accurate, consult Wikipedia and search “Screen Gems.” Bill Vassar told me he recently rewrote and fact-checked all the info.

2. People have misconceptions about the function of the place. Screen Gems is a rental facility, boasting 11 stages and two huge water tanks in which production people will come in make their magic.

3. A movie produced/filmed at Screen Gems may bring in $10 million to Wilmington’s economy. Restaurants, clothing stores, hotels, and most importantly, MORE jobs.

4. The locals are truly proud of this place. They take their guests on a tour, and those guests then in turn tell more people about it. And Wilmington is so attractive that many film people choose to move their families down and live here permanently. Actors have even fallen in love with locals.

Don’t tell the UNC-Wilmington kids this, but you don’t really need a film degree to bust in the industry. Just move to L.A., and then relocate back to Wilmington.

Wish me luck. I have a lot of writing to do. In the meantime, check out Screen Gems’ website.

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