Tag Archives: New York City

A Look Back at 32

Tim and I in LiberiaTomorrow is my birthday and I plan to celebrate with some shopping, relaxing and a milkshake. Tim’s birthday was last month and we spent it at the Powerscourt Ritz Carleton outside of Dublin enjoying a five star meal at Gordan Ramsey but for my birthday Tim’s taking me to Cook-Out Burgers. Don’t worry– I’m not mad. It was my idea after I saw a sign on the side of their building that says they offer 40 milkshakes. I’m already a little nervous about having to choose just one flavor!

Anyway, when my birthday comes around I always like to take some time to reflect on the past 365 days. (Here’s last year’s for instance.) Here are some of the highlights of 32:

  • I enjoyed seeing my byline in more magazines than ever before including about half a dozen times in REDBOOK.
  • I opened the Wall Street Journal on June 15, 2011 to see huge color photos of my friends and I along with a write-up about our Traveling Journal.
  • In early July I spent several days in Atlanta promoting authors at the International Christian Retail Show. I also got to visit CNN and see fellow Iowa State alum Jacqui Jeras.
  • On July 18 I found myself sitting on the set of The Today Show with my best friends talking about the Traveling Journal.
  • I spent the first two weeks of August in Liberia, Africa helping to drill wells in remote villages and share Christ with Muslims.
  • I spent the last two weeks of August enjoying time with visiting relatives from Northern Ireland. We had a fun trip to Atlanta where we bumped into Whitney Eve Port from The City.
  • My sister came to visit and we had an amazing time which included a trip to the Old Edward’s Spa– amazing!
  • I helped plan and organize the Reality Check event, benefiting Water of Life. We raised a couple of thousand dollars to help drill wells in Third World countries.
  • We spent Thanksgiving in Florida with Tim’s parents and got to see some of my friends.
  • For Christmas we headed to Seattle for an extended visit. Tim and I went skiing, shopping and site seeing.
  • In January we found out we were expecting!
  • Tim and I did several weekend getaways for a magazine including a resort in the Georgia mountains, The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, and the Opryland in Nashville. All of them were so fun and full of special memories. We also got a behind-the-scenes tour of Dave Ramsey’s headquarters which was a highlight.
  • In April we went to Northern Ireland for a 10 day trip that included amazing sites and some of the best food we’ve ever had. Plus we got to spend time with our family.
  • We found out that our baby is a boy and we named him Sam!

When I see it all written out like that it’s hard to believe that I will ever have a year quite as unique and memorable,

group with KL and Hoda

With Kathie Lee and Hoda on The Today Show

but then again, I am about to have my first child so that will be full of its own adventures and memories.

The older I get the more I realize that every year is special in its own way. There really doesn’t have to be a time designated as “the best years of your life” because each year has the potential to hold something remarkable. You just have to be willing to welcome new opportunities and often that means spending a lot of time outside your comfort zone. So here’s to 33– I’ll be toasting it with a milkshake!


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Latest Obsession: Madmen

Don Draper, Season 4, Episode 8

I haven’t written much on The Honeymoon Phase lately. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to report. In the last month we’ve put our house on the market, juggling showings and open houses. Several friends have had babies, I’ve attended showers for others. We hosted a wedding shower which meant preparing a meal for 18, decorating and planning games. I started a sign language class, got a promotion and Tim hired a new employee. Plus we celebrated three years of marriage and are training for a marathon.

But in between busy work schedules, a full social calendar and keeping our house clean we’ve become completely obsessed with Madmen. We borrowed season two from the library, then bought season one so we could catch up. By then we were totally hooked and watched season three on our way to and from Seattle at the end of July. Now we’re caught up and watching season four as it unfolds Sunday nights on AMC.

I’m already addicted to New York City, so that’s one draw of the show. I also have a great appreciation for good writing and there’s no doubt that Madmen is an amazing example of great writing. And then there’s the fashion– snug sweaters, proper updos and pumps– I love it all. Watching Madmen is like reading a really good book. The characters feel like friends and the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce are so familiar to me it’s as if I’ve walked the halls. I’m totally going to buy my husband a skinny black tie and ask him to comb his hair to the side.

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A Delayed Year in Review

I know we’re already two weeks into 2010 but I never properly recounted what an amazing year 2009 was. I like to take a little time to think about the highlights of the year before. And often when I do I’m amazed that I ever have days where I think I have the most boring life ever… and yes I do have those days.

In January I flew out to California to shop for bridesmaid dresses with my best friend Tonya. My other girlfriends Dawn and Melly flew out, too and we had a blast. Then Tonya drove up to another part of California with me to do some research for a book I was writing… a project that was later unfortunately put on hold indefinitely.

The Girls with Tonya's Man Ryan

In February we launched GeorgeBevShea.com, welcoming the world to send birthday wishes to 100-year-old George Beverly Shea in preparation of the launch of his new book. We even got country star Josh Turner to record a greeting. Tim flew out to Utah with some buddies for a snowboarding trip. I stayed home and made dorky t-shirts for us to wear on Valentine’s Day. So romantic!

Nothing Sexier Than a Man Vacuuming

In March I watched the world’s biggest jerk-face dump his fiance on live TV and ended up getting more than 3000 hits on this little blog in two hours because of a post I wrote about Jason Mesnick. Also in March I was able to see one of my favorite storytellers, Garrison Keillor, live at the Peace Center in Greenville. My favorite moment of the evening was listening to him recite Edgar Allen Poe’s poem Annabel Lee. I also experienced one of the worst hair disasters of my life (except for that perm in 1988) and was a guest on a local radio program where I talked about saving money.

In April I attended some TEA Party rallies, voicing my opinion about the government bail-outs and increased tax burdens. The 25/30 celebration was launched in Florida with my husband’s 25th birthday. We spent a day at Universal Studios and took in a Trace Adkins concert. I sent him on a birthday Easter egg hunt where he discovered at the end that he would be going to Ireland the following weekend. Except that the trip didn’t work out because we were flying standby and the seats were booked. We ended up breaking our backs sodding our yard instead. So we tried again the following weekend… and it worked! We spent three-and-a-half quick, lovely days visiting his family and taking in amazing sites.

Hiking in Northern Ireland

In May our friends gave us a joint birthday party at our favorite restaurant, The Lazy Goat. We took a road trip to New York City, stopping in DC along the way to take in a chocolate fashion show and visit our friend Jennie. In New York we saw Robin Williams at a taping of The David Letterman Show, went running the full length of Manhattan, and went rowing in Central Park. I happened to tell The David Letterman Show about my brush with fame in 1997 when I was on a Richard Simmon’s infomercial and they wanted to put the video on air, but I couldn’t find it. Oh well. We ate amazing food, watched Cirque du Soleil in a real tent and went to lots of flea markets where I spotted design star Eddie Ross. And I turned 30. It rocked.

A Picture From My 30th Birthday

Also in May we sold our sweet Mini and ended up with a luxurious Audi for less than the cost of our scooter. I appeared on a segment on WYFF called Blog Talk. We also left a disposable camera in downtown Greenville to see what would happen… cheap entertainment at its best

Our "New" Car

In June we did summery things like have a yard sale, buy patio furniture and lounge on the beach at Lake Lure, North Carolina. I did some more decorating around the house and cheered my husband on as he decided to go for an 18 mile jog one Saturday after watching the movie Ultramarathon Man. I also through a backyard baby shower for our neighbors.

In July we went on what was perhaps our longest road trip ever. We drove from Greenville, SC to Denver, CO for the International Christian Retail Show. It was a great week and I met a lot of neat people. Plus we were able to take in some sites in Denver including the Botanic Gardens.

Simple and Beautiful

In August we followed up one long road trip with another one. This time we headed to Iowa for Tonya and Ryan’s wedding. It was an amazing week of fun and friends. We got to go jet skiing, relax and see our awesome friends get married. I also got to show Tim around my college town of Ames and see the dumpy house where I lived. After that relaxing weekend I embarked on organizing Greenville’s first Twestival, a global event to raise money for charity that was pulled together in just three weeks.

Our Friend Tyler was One of the Models

In September we headed to Charleston to celebrate two years of marriage. We rented an apartment above an art studio that came with two beach cruisers which we rode all around town. We came back and put on the Twestival, raising a bunch of money for the Miracle Hill Boys’ Shelter. Local clothing stores outfit models in pieces from their stores along with items from the Miracle Hill Thrift Store. Vespa also featured photos from our last big charity event, 2 Wheels 4 Water, on their Facebook page for thousands of fans to see. In September I also found Ruby. She can in front of my scooter as I was riding up to Walgreens.

Ruby Joined Our Family

In October my sister came for a visit. We carved pumpkins, went hiking and took her to Charleston. Tim and I also did more projects around the house including painting our porch. Our friend JJ pressure washed everything for us, too. We hosted a Halloween dinner party with a few other couples. Tim also ran a half marathon in Greenville and I loved cheering him on!

Tim Nearing the Finish Line

In November we finally started converting our attic into a master suite, work that helped us discover some treasures in our attic including 100-year-old stamps and newspaper molds from The Greenville News. I also taught a coupon class at my church, helping 20 people learn how they can use coupons to give more to local shelters and food banks. I also got word that a national magazine was interested in one of my articles.

Teaching How to Use Coupons to Give More

December was the hardest month of the year. We lost Tim’s Uncle DD. Shortly after that Ruby got out and was killed by a car in front of our house. But we managed to have some wonderful Christmas moments, including our fourth annual visit to Reedy Place, a shelter for chronically homeless people. We also had a great Christmas in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with my family. We got to try hangliding, we went horse back riding on the beach and we rode in a 4-wheel drive SUV on the beach to search for wild ponies. It was a wonderful way to end an incredible year.

Tim and I Looking for Wild Ponies in North Carolina

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New York City Girl At Heart

Even though I grew up in Iowa and my first real job was detasseling corn, I think I was destined for the big city. I love everything about it, except maybe when someone hits in the head with their cello on the subway which happened to me twice. We rented this super cute apartment in the Upper West Side, three blocks from Central Park and one block from these little yummies at Magnolia Bakery.

I tried their muffins, cupcakes, cheesecake and bars. Yum, yum, yum and yum!

I tried their muffins, cupcakes, cheesecake and bars. Yum, yum, yum and yum!

There were so many fun moments. Laughing our butts off at Robin Wiliams during our Letterman taping, tap dancing down Central Park West on the eve of my 30th, eating desserts that look like sculptures and running all the way from the Upper West Side to the Brooklyn Bridge. A cab driver told us that was 15 miles which is amazing since we did it in less than an hour. We thought it was more like five miles.

This Gorgeous Bride was Dancing on the Brooklyn Bridge When We Got There

This Gorgeous Bride was Dancing on the Brooklyn Bridge When We Got There

My actual 30th birthday was spent partly on a rowboat in Central Park, partly at a fancy restaurant on Park Avenue, partly on a water taxi in the Harlem River, partly in a circus tent and completely in love.

Looks like I got a hair cut in this shot but I didn't

Looks like I got a hair cut in this shot but I didn't

I admit I even cried a little when we had to leave. There’s just something about the big city that has my heart. But as for my 30th birthday? It rocked.

How Many Other 30-year-olds Have This Picture?

How Many Other 30-year-olds Have This Picture?

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Answer a Triva Question, Get Letterman Tickets

The hubs and I are heading to NYC next week. It’s the final hurrah for our 25/30 celebration and I can’t wait! Yesterday on my way to the salon I got a call from the David Letterman Show. “Are you still interested in tickets?” they asked. “Heck yes!” I replied. “Call this number, ask for Paul. Oh and, you’ll have to answer a trivia question correctly,” they told me.

Trivia? To be honest I almost never make it past the opening monologue. But I do love Letterman. My hometown of Sioux City, Iowa served as the Late Show’s home office for years because our CBS affiliate wouldn’t carry the show. Thanks to Dave, our little town was kind of put on the map for a while.

So after my hair appointment I went home and crammed for an hour.

What temperature does Dave set the thermostat of his studio? 58 degrees.

What color is Alan’s hair? Orange.

Who is his stage manager? Biff Henderson.

What is Dave’s son’s name? Harry.

After soaking in all I could I called Paul. And got his voice mail. For the next four hours I nervously awaited his phone call. When my cell finally rang Paul asked what day I’d like to attend the show. I picked Wednesday thinking maybe he forgot about the trivia question. “Great,” he said. “But in order to get the tickets you have to answer this question correctly.” Oh no, here it was. My make-it-or-break-it moment. “Rupert Gee owns a business around the corner from Dave’s studio. What type of business is it?” Paul asked. I know this, I shouted internally. “A deli?” I responded. “That’s right!” Paul exclaimed.

So now I’m headed to the Late Show next Wednesday. I’ll be sure to bring a sweater since I know the studio will be chilly and maybe I’ll even pop in to the Hello Deli.

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The Incomplete Bucket List

My "Bucket List"

My "Bucket List"

Before Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman made that movie and before anyone even knew what a Bucket List was, I created mine. I was 14-years-old. The world was so big, but my little piece of it seemed so small. I wanted to trade perfectly manicured rows of corn for dusty Mexican highways and the open waters of the Pacific. I longed to give up the vast rolling hills of Iowa and plunge into the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia or scream from the peak of  a mountain. And I wanted to learn the Mamba.

At age 14 I sat down and wrote out my Bucket List. I’ve been carrying this piece of paper around for 15 years. There’s still a tiny hole in the corner from when it held its place on my pink bulletin board. Lately it’s been hidden among shopping receipts and old mail. I love pulling out my Bucket List and seeing in that young girl’s handwriting that she dreams of seeing the bright lights of New York and feeling the rush of skiing a black diamond. I love being reminded that simply tasting lobster or caviar for the first time can be a life-experience worth remembering. I want her to know that number six– para-sail– is going to become a cherished memory since it was accomplished with her best friend Jessica who will only be around a few more years.  I want to tell her that when she runs her first marathon she needs to wake up earlier so she has time to eat breakfast. And she should know that her first trip to Europe won’t be the best one.

While I accomplished several things on list there are several more that I have yet to experience. But here’s the thing about my Bucket List. I didn’t give myself a lifetime to complete these items, or maybe I did from the eyes of a 14-year-old. I gave myself until I turned 30.

As of next week my 30th birthday will be six months away. And looking at my half-accomplished list throws me into a bit of a panic. Unless my Amazing Race audition tape magically wows the judges, I know I won’t be visiting Egypt, China and Australia over the next six months. I have yet to swim with dolphins, save someone’s life or hike an entire mountain. While I did manage to accomplish number nine ten years ago– buy a cappuccino maker– I have yet to cross off number 11– scuba dive. I haven’t learned sign language, been diving with sharks, or technically invented something (I have the idea just never produced it.) But I’m happy to say that number ten– write a book– should be completed by my 30th birthday, God willing.

I guess it’s ok if I don’t complete everything that the 14-year-old me dreamed of doing in her first three decades of life. I’m excited for her because I know she’ll see more of this world before her 30th birthday than just about anyone else in the entire history of her family. She’ll share breathing space with three former Presidents. She’ll ride in helicopters and a hot air balloon, attend the Olympics and the Oscars, and she’ll literally meet the man of her dreams– spiky hair, side burns and foreign accent included. Her life will be full of more experiences and adventure than any 14-year-old in Iowa could imagine. But I would like to swim with dolphins.

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The Big Apple

Thanksgiving morning we loaded up and headed out, bound for the big city. This was our first major holiday as a married couple and we decided to throw all tradition out the window.
We stopped along the way in DC and had turkey dinner at Denny’s. (Mom’s is better, although the picture of the cranberry blob probably shows that.)
We got to the city Thursday night and started our shopping spree Friday. I discovered my new love, Century 21. It was packed with Black Friday shoppers, but oh so fun. I got cute jeans for $20 and a sweater for $24.
We traveled with our lovely friends JJ and Alanna. Alanna lead us through the underground world of knock-0ff hand bags on Canal Street. We joined JJ on his first ever taxi cab ride. And while standing on 5th Avenue in front of the library with the big lion statues, we saw a familiar face from Greenville. Chris, a guy who lives near us and frequents the same Starbucks recognized Tim and I. Funny thing was, Chris came up to us at an embarassing moment when Tim was trying to warm my nose with his mouth. (It was cold!)
We hit a total of 5 H&M’s in Manhattan and 7 Starbucks (although a few of those were just for bathroom breaks). We made our way to Central Park for a carriage ride which I have always wanted to do. We peered into elaborately decorated holiday windows at Macy’s and crossed some Christmas shopping off our list. It was a lovely stay in the city. Especially since it was the first time I was sharing it with my husband.

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