Thursday, March 28, 2013

LBP - The Yellow Mirror

Last year, our wedded bliss had put a little damper on our projects. Not so much from the stand-point that we didn't do projects and update our house, but more so we completed projects much faster than we could document them. If you are an avid follower (which come on now, you really should be), you noticed a lot of sporadic postings.

I'd like to introduce a series of blog posts to you called the "Lost Blog Posts" or the LBPs for short. Some of these posts are semi-broken up. Some of these posts overlap with other posts. Some have a start and are missing steps in getting to the final product. The long story short, these are Maureen's little orphans. So let's get reacquainted and give these orphans some light.

Lost Blog Post - The Yellow Mirror

The mirror doesn't have a huge fancy story but it does have a big impact on our living room wall. We found this little shining star at the Appleton Goodwill store while in town visiting our future officiant for our wedding. I made Max stop in and then after perusing their inventory found this little beaut for $5.99.

The golden rod color really gives a pop of color to our wall and it works really well with some of the pillows we already have. As you can tell, I'm really trying to blend the bright colors with neutrals to keep them grounded and not overpowering the room. No one likes to come into a room and BAM! Color just puked all over them.

So that is orphan #1.

In other news, I just had my 31st birthday. It was quietly spent this year with Max and it was quite nice. The biggest surprise of the evening was after cooking me a whole meal of delicious stuffed peppers with wine, he went straight for a sorority girl's heart and started a fund to help me pay my lifetime alumna dues along with my sorority's flowers (our wedding flowers). Such a winner! Truly, I am a lucky woman!

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Job!

As you may have seen from Instagram, I took a position at a new company M3Cloud Technology about a month ago. I'm still getting the hang of things but so far so good! I'll be doing some account management and website development. Have to have a shout out to a college pal who sent my resume over there! Thanks Andrea!

As for my previous statement about working for Goodwill and being worried about my credibility  have no fear. I am 100% not affiliated with Goodwill anymore. 

Here is to new starts!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sun-Kisses and Jamaican Hospitality

I wish old man would get out of here. Seriously, he didn't get the memo about spring this year! So I would like to invite you, with the newlywed Anderson's, to lovely Negril, Jamaica. Max and I took a week long honeymoon on the famous Seven Mile Beach and loved ever second of it. So pack your bags readers, you are heading to the Caribbean! We scored this awesome trip through LivingSocial. If you haven't checked them and GroupOn out, you are missing out!

After the wedding, Max and I headed back to Milwaukee to take a red eye out. We spend the evening reflecting of the craziness that just happened, moved all our wedding gifts into the house and just sort of collapsed. We double checked our mostly prepacked suitcases and were ready for our big tropical adventure.

Day One: Travel and Arrival

Our first flight headed out of Milwaukee at 6 AM so we had to be there quite early. We had a quick layover in Dallas then then we were off to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

We look pretty excited for 5 AM at Mitchell International here at MKE.

Upon arrival in Montego Bay, there instantly was a rush of humidity that we haven't felt in awhile. It was actually quite refreshing.

We nervously awaited a driver and didn't know where we were supposed to go. Negril is about an hour and a half drive from Montego Bay and we were told by our resort we would be picked up at the airport. Random people kept asking us where we were staying. Eventually, one guy recognized our resort and yelled at his friend. After switching about three signs he was holding, he got to a hand-written one that said "Country Country". Max and I gave each other a little look and went along with the guy.

The driver's name was Andy and he was very friendly. So we headed off to Negril. Along the way he gave us the low down of Jamaica as a whole and the "real", off the resort, experience; how the locals live, social barriers, ect. He was very nice and informative.

When we finally got to our resort it was about 2 PM and it was about 85 and both of us really began to feel the heat we were not used to. We both headed down to the ocean to grab a drink at the bar. This was our first sight and I knew this was going to be the vacation of a lifetime. Horseback riding on the beach, yes please!

Fruity drinks + Sun = Happy Anderson couple!

After getting our refreshments on we headed back to get our swim suits on and unpack a little bit. We beached it up the rest of the afternoon and waited for the sunset. To our surprise, this little, furry-native island dog came to visit us. His nickname became Marley for the week but he was quite snuggly and had a striking resemblance to Turk. Yes Turk, we cheated on you all week with your island look-a-like.

Our first sunset in paradise. Thanks to this photo, we made two new friends who were married the same day as us, Stacy and Chris from Dallas. Stacy thought it was a special moment and took it on my camera.

Max enjoying one of many Red Stripe beers. Jamaica has quite harsh import laws on alcohol and pretty much just has Red Stripe, Red Stripe Light, Heineken and Guinness Special Import. Oh yeah, and lots of rum.

Day Two: Rented Scooters and New Friends

Still not adjusted to just relaxing and sleeping in, we took an early morning stroll on the beach together. Each taking photos in front of our little "home" for the week. Cottage 508.

Our resort had everything groomed and ready to go for the day's worth of sunbathers. I couldn't wait!

Strolling barefoot in Jamaica's super soft sand. You really can't ask for much more.

Max is definitely the more adventurous of us two and decided he needed to see the island on his own terms. With the help of our hotel's trusted vendors, we rented a scooter for about $30 a day and headed out to explore the island. Here were some great shots we got of the West End cliffs. The West End is an area of Negril which as you can tell, has cliffs instead of sandy beaches. The center of town is sort of the split area.

Renting the scooter had some advantages. Once we figured out from other guests you could buy beer and such in town and store it in your room refrigerator, we could easily buy what we needed for the week and save a bunch of money (what can we say, we love beer and a great deal).

After many of our fellow guest suggestions, we had lunch that day next door to our resort at the Tree House resort, which is known for their amazing Jerk Chicken. All of Jamaica has the amazing food but when you have it 50 feet away, you can't go wrong.

I even got to watch the ocean lap up next to my feet while I ate.

With our new friends, Chris and Stacy, we decided to catch a little air and went para-sailing in the afternoon. Max had done it before but I was excited but a little bit scared at the same time. I was the one who wanted to do it though since I've always heard great things.

It. Was. Amazing!

As we got strapped in and the para shoot took off it was awesome. I mean amaze balls awesome.

Looking at each other saying, "here's starting our new adventurous life together!"

Lift off!

We got some great views of some of the all-inclusive resorts that we didn't stay at. They looked  very nice but I will definitely stay we made the right decision for us by going boutique style.

We did spend some time here at Margaritaville just down the beach from our resort. But more on that later.

After we were done, Chris and Stacy had their uplifting turn.

Chris was kind of a show off doing some crazy Superman moves but he was definitely not scare of heights by any means. He's in the military and has absolutely no fear of heights. We found out he proposed to Stacy by making her sky dive with him. I would have died if it was me. Max was quite jealous.

Day Three: Snorkeling  Scooter Adventures, Cliff Jumping & Night Dining

After another great breakfast beach side at Country Country, Max and I went for a morning snorkeling trip on a glass bottom boat. They took us to a very shallow area off the shore where we could see some reefs and get some great shots of fish. Again, this was my first time and Max was very patient with me. I ended up cutting my toe on some coral but nothing that was too bad. Just painful with the salt water.

For a late lunch, we decided to scoot over to the world famous Rick's Cafe, a top-ten best party bar in the world, for the cliff divers.

Here is our little mini-marriage mobiles. Hehehe Marriage Mobiles.

I will say, Jamaican drivers are very aggressive. There are few rules to the road and no set followed speed limit. They drive on the left side of the road but really that is their only guideline. They use their horns as a guide like "hey, I'm here" instead of "#$@* off %^?hole!" which is kind of nice. I'm glad we had helmets.

When we got to Rick's, we had barely gotten seated and ordered drinks, before Max and Chris were running up to the cliff to jump off. Stacy and I laughed about how enthusiastic they were about it.

Chris didn't even hesitate. Just waiting for the Jamaican "lifeguard" (if you can call him that) to say "ya mon'" and leaped right off.

Max at least took a deep breath before he followed.

Then it was the ladies turn to be brave. Since Stacy could jump out of planes, she held on to her boobies and took the plunge. Then lastly it was my turn.

I have a slight fear of heights. Now somethings I do not have a problem (looking out on a high rise), but jumping off a 40 foot cliff is apparently something I have issues with. So I started on the top platform like everyone else. Then I freaked out.

Ran down the second tier platform, about a 30 foot jump. Still freaked out.

Went down to the last tier platform, which was about the height of a stand U.S. high dive (not the Olympic ones, just the ones at your average city pool) and finally could jump. I was not impressed by all the laughing of the Jamaicans or my husband and our new friends. Whatevs. I still did it.

What I couldn't photograph was the fact that we ended up climbing into that tiny cave (in above photo of me) at the right of the dive. Everyone else got claustrophobic while climbing in there and then swimming out. Guess who didn't, me. So there. Ha!

After our lunch at Rick's we scooted down the road to the Negril Lighthouse. It is one of the few historical landmarks of the area.

Stacy had a little fun in the swing.

The area had a spectacular view and friendly guides.

Yes, although a great photo, you can see we were starting to get a little sunburnt on our Wisconsin pasty skin.

To be even more adventurous (because our hubbies are insane) we decided to take the road way out of town and basically up the mountains into Jamaican villages. Like free-range beef? They definitely got it here!

Surprisingly enough, when we go to the mountains, we found tons of abandoned or half-built mansions. Drug money? Maybe...

The views down the mountains were amazing. Just look out for potholes in the road. Oiu!

That night, we had sunset dinner cliff side at the Rockhouse Hotel. Freakin' amazing! There is nothing I can say more about this. Food was completely delicious, the space was modern and funky. The individual bungalows they had were literally hanging over the cliff! 

Such a huge highlight of our trip. We have decided we really want to stay here at our next trip to Negril.

Day Four: Booby Cay Island and Party-Time Central

With the other newlyweds, we chartered a boat and headed to Booby Cay, a small island off the coast of Negril. If you have stayed at any of the all-inclusive resorts there (Sandals, Couples, RIU) you have seen it off the beach. Now you might be saying, what does this island have that the main island doesn't have?

First off less tourists and vendors trying to hauk you things but the biggest attraction...

Live lobster! For $20 for a small or $25 for a large lobster, you got to choose your own and watch it be grilled by two men on their open air grill.

Max and I decided on a large one and split it. As you can tell, the lobsters in Jamaica are different than the ones we have in the States. They don't have claws but these long tentacals.

Outdoor grilling Negril-style. Pretty badass!

Since we had to wait for our deliciousness to cook we went for a little hike on the island. There were hermit crabs everywhere.

The terrain was quite rocky. Recommendation for anyone going, bring heavier sandals to walk in.

This was my favorite photo of the two of us on the trip. Sun-kissed and loving life!

Here is the fisherman that caught our day's fresh lunch.

The family operation on Booby Cay was great. So friendly and genuine. You could tell they weren't affiliated with anyone and just wanted enjoy each day they were out there. We got some great insight on how Jamaican celebrities act, the running culture and real life on the island.

The other two of our newlywed group, Jordan and Kristy from Houston, enjoying their grilled lobster. They were quite the foodies telling us everyday of somewhere new to try out. Jordan even tried some conch penis... He said it was a little tough but good. Conch, for you non-sea dwellers, is the shellfish you can hear the ocean from.

Devouring the deliciousness! Seriously, I want some now!

After lunch, we chilled on the island swimming, drinking and getting to know each other better. Us girls all compared wedding details while the boys, well they were boys hehe.

Say it with me... aww...

After we returned we all gathered for the nightly sunset ritual. I mean how could you miss your daily dose of natural beauty?

Marley showed up and the cocktails continued.

Things started to get rowdy Texas-style at dinner with our Houston and Dallas friends. We were definitely the life of the party. A little Reggae band showed up and played for us. Jordan started dancing and pulled Kristy up to dance with him. We all just laughed hysterically.

We then headed over to their cottage, or as Jordan liked to call it, "the party porch" for more drinks. We ended up meeting an older couple from Maryland who originally lived in Mequon and got married about four block from our house. Talk about a small world!

When we decided to stumble down the beach to Margarittaville, Marley the dog followed us. With the laziness of this dog, you really would have thought he was Turk's cousin.

Since Margarittaville in Negril is an open air bar, we got to see some craziness. We heard a bunch of screams and then turned around from the table we were all conversing at. All the women at the bar had jumped up on their bar stools because a large crab about the size of a dinner plate had wandered up in the bar.

The bouncer grabbed our crabby friend and took him off-site.

Day Five: 

This was our huge lazy day. Lots of drinks, reading, sunbathing and just relaxing. Just what the doctor ordered!

Our big trip was lunch next door at the Tree House Resort, again remember we went a couple of days ago, for jerk chicken with Chris and Stacy. The chef was wildly entertaining and called everyone "movie stars".

I would like to mention I did gain 3lbs. while on this trip. The food was so amazing. You just had to eat everything!

*Both of the following images are from Trip Advisor.

Late that afternoon, we decide to explore up Seven Mile Beach of our sunset walk. From where we were located in the center of the beach, the all-inclusive resorts were this direction.

We walked as far as the Couples Swept Away Resort.  The beach itself is public but each resort has its own little claim on it. Most of them also have their own security guards to keep locals from peddling to you if you don't want them to.

This is now Max's dream for retirement. A boat like this, bumming around the Caribbean  I guess I could do worse right?

Here he is plotting dreaming.

That night, up in the mountains, there was quite a storm a brewing. We didn't get any rain on the beach but the clouds were pretty intense. You'd see the occasional flash of lightening inside these giant, billowy clouds.  Sadly from my photos they are hard to see but they were pretty awesome as well.

Day Six: Royal Palm Reserve, Margaritaville and Green Bay Packers

Our last full day in Jamaica, we decided to get off the beach and check out a little bit of nature. According to my Frommer's Travel Guide, the Royal Palm Reserve had a great tourist rating of a must see thing while you were there. So we figured why not check it out. I love seeing birds and animals.

We show up on the day they were closed.

Luckily, the groundskeeper was very nice and let us pay our money and walk the grounds. It was very nice to get away from all the tourist things and just see some of the real glory of Jamaica.

The whole things is on one long wooden path that stretches at least a mile or mile and a half.  You are basically walking through the swamp so we both followed the guide book and poured on the bug spray. Between the constant sun, the heat and the constant rain and humidity  the path has seen better days. There was a lot of rotted boards, boards missing (i.e. they rotted and fell to the water below) and nails sticking out. We both braved it out and looked at nature's beauty.

Overall, it was a great experience. I was very scared of climbing to the top of their lookout tower however since the regular path was in such dire need of repair but I did climb it and take my quick peek out over the land. Glad I did, it was gorgeous but my nerves took over with the slightly swaying tower and I quickly headed back down.

After we came back, being the insane true Packer fan that I am, I had pre-scooped out where we could watch NFL games with DirectTV's package. Awesomely enough, our new friends at Margaritaville had our back. Tons of NFL fans from all over the country were already there getting ready, may were wearing their team jerseys. With the free WiFi everyone was checking out their fantasy teams.

There was a real camaraderie that I always love with football fans. Doesn't matter where you go you always find friends. We found our fellow Green and Gold fans and grabbed a couple of margaritas for the game.

After a week of exotic foods we were craving good ol' fashion American junk food and our fellow Packer fans suggested the nachos but told us they were huge. They weren't lying. They came in a large tin plate. We were told they had never seen anyone actually finish them.

Until now.

Things I love, watching the Pack beat the Rams and seeing the Caribbean Sea at the same time!

Packer fans we met were the doctor from Michigan (who's a Lions fan at heart) and his wife from West Allis.

The couple from New Lisbon which is right by my hometown!

And us! With this selfie you can't quite tell but Max is wearing a black Pack hat and I'm rocking my Packer tank with my beachy wavy braided hair. Wish I had that hair right now!

Day Seven: Travel Home

The last day was peaceful and stressful. We got up and packed up the last of our things and headed for our last perfect beach breakfast. I couldn't decide between the banana pancakes or the honey French toast. Both of which I had so many times before but were just that good.

We walked the grounds and settled the last our of bill and just took in our last few moments of paradise before the shuttle took us back to Montego Bay and ultimately back to reality.

The pristine beach said goodbye to us, awaiting its next guests. Don't worry we'll back soon.

When we got to the airport, our flight itinerary had changed and instead of one layover in Dallas before Milwaukee, we now had to go to Miami then O'Hare in Chicago and then Milwaukee. 

Miami airport is huge and laid out poorly I might add. This was my second time there but first time going through customs there. Nightmare. We find our bags since we had to claim them coming Internationally then head back to recheck in for domestic flights. Tram it over to our next flight gate. We get there and they tell us there is a problem with our plane and there is a delay. Then it is announced we are moving to a different gate. We get over there and there is another delay because of weather in Chicago. After about a total of 3 hours of getting bumped around, we finally board. We were way behind schedule which made me very nervous for making our Chicago to Milwaukee flight.

On the flight, I kept a watchful eye on the clock. The flight attendant announced to the passengers that we were behind and to please who have connecting flights and announced the cities. We were on the list but let's be honest, people on airline are not always the most courteous. I was trying to look up the gate number we needed on my phone but in the short amount of time it was no time. We got off, ran over to the flight board and found out our flight left in 10 minutes and we had to from Terminal A to C on foot. Max grabbed my had and we ran the whole way. I thought I seriously was going to die of a heart attack and started wheezing. We get to the gate only to find out they delayed it two hours (then additionally delayed it another hour). For those of you that know the area, we could have drove home in an hour and a half. The flight itself was only 15 minutes. I slept the entire time we left the ground until we touched down. It felt like I just closed my eyes.

Overall, it was a wonderful trip and I wouldn't trade anything in the world. We made new friends and got to spend our first married week in paradise.

For a history reminder, the following day, Wednesday, Hurricane Sandy hit Jamaica shutting down the beach for the day. As we all know, the following week we watched as it moved up the Eastern United States coast becoming Superstorm Sandy and damaging so many homes and lives.
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