Winter Holiday at the Beach

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Spending my winter break in SC was a great idea.  I finally felt that I could relax and be myself.  Which sounds odd, because I should be able to be myself always.  Maybe I mean that I was able to unwind and became less frustrated with life, carefree.  The picture above is the north side of Pawleys Island, SC, and the picture below is Murrells Inlet, SC.  I had to pull my shorts out of the summer clothes drawer while I was there!

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The week away was a truly beautiful time.  My mom and aunt came to help me cook our family holiday treats.  I am not a sweets person, but I really enjoy baking and making candy.  I think it is kindof like how I like to clean; they both relax me.

Mom, Aunt Thelma, and I set shop up in my kitchen.  We ended up making my grandmother’s applesauce pies, my aunt’s pecan pies, Aunt Meta’s candy, haystacks, peanut butter cups, and peanut butter coconut balls.  My aunt is teaching me how to make my grandmother’s (their mom’s) applesauce pies.  Of course, they laughed when I showed the pie crusts I got for them.  Apparently, I should have gotten the frozen ones, not the graham cracker ones.

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Applesauce pies are delicious.  You can see them in the oven cooking, and my haystacks took up all the counter space.  I tend to unintentionally make the haystacks bigger as I go along.

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My aunt’s pecan pies cooking away.  Her secret ingredient is white vinegar, which takes some of the sweetness away.

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My Aunt Meta’s candy is pictured above on the right side of the plate.  This was my favorite candy growing up.  It is chocolate covered white fluff with pecans in it.  Fluff being sugar, butter, eagle brand milk, vanilla, more sugar, and something else (probably more sugar).  I guess Aunt Meta is technically my great aunt since she was married to my grandfather’s brother.

For Christmas Eve dinner, I took my Mom to a restaurant at the Inlet for the sunset view.  This was the view from our table.

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My friend’s son loves the Incredible Hulk, so I found him the cutest Hulk bow tie and Hulk shirt on Etsy.

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Here is is showing me how the Hulk gets mad.  Love the action shot!

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Mom hates having her picture taken, and asked why I have to take one every time she opens a gift.  I try to get her gifts that I know she will never buy for herself, as well as practical stuff.  She is opening a gift that is her father’s signature (his last name) made into a gold charm for her charm bracelet.  He died when she was in college, and she misses him the same now as when she was a young girl.  One year I ordered his Marine Corps records and put them in a book for her.  I took his signature from one of the documents for the charm.  I ended up ordering myself one in silver.

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Christmas day was spent with my aunt and part of her crew.  Her daughter lives in Hawaii, so she wasn’t there.  Mom spent the entire time with the youngest in the family, which wasn’t surprising.  My aunt’s son was in town, so I was able to see him and his wife.  They just moved to my hometown for his work, and I am not sure how much she enjoys it yet.  I asked how she liked it, and her comment was how diverse it was in relation to her her hometown.  Yes, we have a bit of everything there!

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After spending so much time with the family, I needed some time away.  Love them, but in small doses.  My retreat ended up being a walk on Pawleys Island, and spending time with my friends.  The holiday break was the best in quite a while.

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PittStop Lindyhop

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This weekend was the PittStop lindyhop in Pittsburgh, and I was extremely excited to attend with the WVU Swing Club!  wpid-imag4356.jpg

This is my first lindy exchange, and I have really been looking forward to it. When I got to the venue, it was definitely overwhelming and a bit intimidating. Everyone was such good dancers.  It took me a good 45 minutes to jump into the fun, but that is due to my own social awkwardness.   This was Friday night’s dance at the venue.

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The venue was impressive.  Friday night was The Boilermaker Jazz Band at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall.  I will probably visit the museum at the Memorial Hall on another date.  What I could see during the dance looked pretty cool.  This is the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall below.

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At 1 am it was Miss Freddye’s Blues Band at the Pittsburgh Opera.  That dance lasted until 5 am, but I left early to get some sleep.  Saturday afternoon was a casual dance back at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall.  This older gentleman was trying to teach me his Charleston moves.  I wanted to ask how old he was, because he looked as if he would have been in his 80’s!  I hope I am be-bopping around at that age, and dancing with all the younger dancers.  He was yelling the upcoming moves in my ear, and all I could think was to not kick him in the shins!  This is us lindy hopping.

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Later that night we went back to the venue for the Gordon Webster 9-Piece Band.  I really enjoyed this band.  We took a big group photo from Saturday night, and it includes those of us who came from WVU and friends.

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The picture below is of my roommates for the weekend.

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I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was dancing the whole time!  We did walk to get something to eat, and passed this older gentleman feeding the birds.  He said, “I get in trouble if they catch me doing this”.  He was adorable, as I think most senior citizens are adorable.

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I had such a great time this past weekend.  The only thing I would have changed is to have a certain friend with us, but he is currently in California.  He needs to move back.  I have new swing moves I want to work on and master.

My next lindy exchange is the Lindy Focus in Asheville, NC at the end of December.  I’m hoping to meet up with my friend from high school for a bit, since this is my hometown.  This would be you, Ti!

 

DC trip and my spreadsheet

I am a fly by the seat of my pants planner.

I love adventures, but I will make sure I am prepared-or at least as much as I can be given time. For the DC trip, this included a spreadsheet covering each day. Mom and Aunt Thelma laughed at me, but it came in handy. Here is mom shaking her head at my color coded spreadsheet for our trip.
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I dislike sitting around, waiting for plans to be made. I planned each day around the prearranged tours, and had musuems listed that were nearby. This was to cut out unnecessary walking back and forth. I also color coded the pre-arranged tours and museums differently so they would be able to figure out where we had set in stone timed-tours and just drop-in trips to museums.

I made sure to list places to eat that would be around us that I knew they would like, which meant Coke products for my aunt.  They laughed, but they were very happy when I would pull it out of my purse to find that Diet Coke my aunt wanted.

DC Trip-day four, Maryland on our 50-states map

This was our last day in DC, and a travel day.  Our drive back to WV goes through Maryland, so we made a few stops along the way.

We drove to the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland, which was only about 30 minutes north of Washington, DC.  This museum was specifically for me.  They wanted no part of it, so they waited for me in the car.  Mom read her book, and Aunt Thelma worked on her knitting.  It was for the best.  It is really aggravating to constantly hear how gross everything is when you are thoroughly enchanted by it.  This is the building, and the words to the right of the door are really difficult to read.  Also, it was really cold in the museum, maybe colder than usual in museums.

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It is mostly Civil War medical treasures, which is cool to look over.

The part that made me stop and sit to reflect was the floor of Trauma Bay II from Balad, Iraq.  I sat and stared at that piece of flooring for quite a while.

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Once I was finished at the Health and Medicine museum we continued our road trip west, and took another stop in Frostburg, MD.

About a month ago, I went with the Swing Dancing Club to a show across the street from the hotel in the picture below.  The show was awesome, and swing dancing everywhere!  As we were leaving, a worker of the venue said for us to try to go to the basement of the hotel because they have a really cool “museum”.  Most of the artifacts were the owner’s personal items, and he passed away recently.  We walked across the street to go check it out, and were stopped by the front desk.  I guess midnight was after operating hours of the museum!  It didn’t even dawn on me that it would be closed, or that it was so late.  Swing dancing makes everything an awesome rose-colored reality.

I planned to make a trip just to see this basement, but since the DC road trip had us driving right past….I made it a stop!

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The Failingers Hotel Gunter basement didn’t disappoint at all!  It had some amazing vintage items, but they need to preserve and have them in climate controlled rooms.  I would hate to see see all these beautiful things become messed up due to humidity.  My camera on my phone is terrible in low lighting (HTC One, otherwise great phone), so my pictures always have a red tint to them.  Sorry about that.  Only a few pictures came out of the museum.

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The kind woman at the front desk told us a little about the history of the hotel, and let us go throughout the hotel.  The entire hotel is beautiful.  I would call the Hotel and the museum collection…”turn of the century vintage, heavily peppered with 1980’s grandmother”.  Also, if you collect dolls, you would enjoy a few rooms they have displaying the owner’s collection.

I failed to get a picture of us at the hotel.  We had to stop to get my aunt a Diet Coke before we hit the interstate, so here we are in the drive through getting her “Large Diet Coke with extra ice”.  Yes, I have told her many times about the extra ice making it less drink, but it doesn’t do any good.

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Another cool note about Frostburg, MD, the parking meters downtown are $0.25 for an hour!  I’m used to the same quarter only being good for 20 minutes.