Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello from the great Garden State!

Let me start off by saying that I am Thankful that I was in my own house this morning instead of in an airport. That was originally how my Thanksgiving was going to start but luckily I have great friends and I was able to fly home earlier than I had planned.

Breakfast is done, Grandma is rationing out the bagels (the good ones from New York) between me and my sister to take back to college, and Santa has just rung in the holiday season at the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Now it’s the lull between meals.

The turkey is in the oven, breakfast is all cleaned up, and I have no idea what to do for the next four hours (and I really don’t want the answer to be homework).

I guess I can go through some of the things I am thankful for this year.

Things I am Thankful for in 2015

  • Being able to come home
  • My family (because no one beats the fam)
  • Being reunited with my sister for more than 48 hours
  • My best friends from high school (the only ones I would go see a no-name band with)
  • My friends at school (who always remind me that they will “take care” of any ex-boyfriends)
  • My roommate (who else will always order pizza with me at 10 at night?)
  • The amazing girls I have met through DPhiE
  • My fam jam (even though we are terrible at planning dinner dates)
  • The amazing job I have and the people who I work with who make it work all those long hours (squad)
  • THE BEACH (I am never sad when there’s the sea)
  • Pizza
  • Pork roll, egg, and cheese (salt, pepper, ketchup please)
  • Wawa/Rook/Quik Check coffee
  • And, of course, the Dawgs

I know there is much more that I am thankful for but I don’t want to bore you all because I know you have your own families to attend to today.

Oh, now it is Thanksgiving. We have Alice’s Restaurant playing.

And I guess since the rest of my family all have real clothes on I should probably put on some make-up and change out of my pajamas.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours. Whether you’re here, there, or anywhere else in between. Thank you for being in my life and I hope you have a happy, healthy, and food-filled holiday.

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p.s. for those of you who need not only your fill of food but fill of news, check out The Skimm. They keep me updated on everything

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Haters gonna hate.

I’m going on record saying that if you don’t care for what I have to say and you’re going to make fun of me, just don’t read what I write. If what I have to say is of no benefit to you, don’t bother reading.

On the flip side, however, these “haters” are still reading something that they have no interest in. That definitely speaks toward their character.

What kind of world does that mean we live in anyway?

Does this mean that we live in a world where when people want to be creative, express their views, and have the courage to put it in the public arena should be ridiculed for it?

People should be shamed and put down because of something they believe in? Something that brings them joy or helps them get through the day, that is definitely something that people should tear down.

I have always been a writer. It’s an outlet for me like music is for one of my friends and drawing is for another. Do I understand the art they create? Do I always like it? No. Do I ever make fun of them for it or put them down for it? NEVER.

I hope the people that do those things are able to look at the person they see in the mirror.

I started this blog because I was living in an unfamiliar place and didn’t always know how to blend in. I’m a Jersey girl born and raised going to a school in a part of the country that is so different from where I grew up. Think Chris Christie meets Zell Miller.

I do my best to make this seem interesting and relevant. I know that some posts are more interesting than others. But I post to show that I’m dedicated. And for those who are interested in what I have to say, I’m showing consistency. I give 110% into (almost) everything that I do (not going to lie here). This is something I started and I challenged myself to do a post every other day. For the most part I have stuck to that promise. And I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.

The point of this post is not to call out those who I was told that were making fun of my writing. It is to call attention to their actions. If everyone’s latest project, idea, or art was judged and taken down, what would we have? Where would we be? Stuck in a virtual “high school” in which everyone is judged on the outside, talked about behind their backs, and ridiculed? I don’t know about you, but that is not a world I would want to live in.

After experiencing the hurt I have felt today I am going to do everything in my power going to forward to not judge something someone puts time and effort into. We do not agree or like everything in the world, but there is nothing wrong with giving that person a pat on the back and saying, “Good job, you put yourself out there.”

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Today has been pretty much a perfect day

There are few days in life when nothing goes wrong and you’re not stressed. I was blessed with one of those days today.

It started with good company and a great cup of coffee (Rook) followed by an equally amazing donut (Broad Street Donut Co).

Then the majority of my day was spend on the beach (one of my favorite places). The weather was perfect. It wasn’t too hot, there was a cool breeze coming off the ocean, and there was just enough random cloud coverage.

Did I mention that the water was WARM? Well, warm for where I live. It’s not the bathtub temperatures that exist from North Carolina down, but it was warm enough to the point where I didn’t make a “Oh jeez!” face when the wave crashed on to me.

Coupled with the warm temperatures, was the calmness of the ocean. It was so peaceful it was almost flat (but there was movement. I need movement in the water. Part of the reason why I can’t do lakes, stagnant water skeeves me out) I could have stayed in there all day.

But I didn’t because Mom wanted to walk by the water and my best friend, finally, showed up around 2. Cue me jumping on her and nearly making her pee her pants (yes almost happened). But she forgave me 😀

So after a glorious day at the beach, I got a much needed hair cut, and then some really good Italian for dinner.

I would put this place up against my Dad’s cooking (he would too). It’s a little place, no reservations, on the corner of Main Street in Bradley Beach. There’s maybe 15 tables in the entire restaurant and if you don’t know the owner, like we do, you’re limited to a party of 4 (and don’t even think you’re getting near that place on the weekend this time of year. We went on a Thursday for a reason).

There were rice balls, spadini (which is fried grilled cheese covered in marinara sauce. YUM), and some chicken-cheese-prosciutto deliciousness that was my main meal (I had to take half of it home. That stuff is too good to waste).

After a good meal, with good friends, it was time to put on an oversized Georgia tee and pop open a bottle of wine with Momma (she’s the one drinking. Most of it).

There are few of these days when everything goes exactly right with no hiccups. We have to appreciate them because, before I know it, I’m going to have 2 exams, a project, work, 3 sporting events to work, and still find time to sleep.

As excited as I am to go back to school, I love these chill days with family and friends. Luckily I have a few days left at home to relax, finish packing, and park my butt on the sand one last time (as my Mother reminds me “You’re leaving me in three days and you’re not going to have anyone but Ashlyn and her cat” *cue scrunched up meanie pants face*).

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Why is driving exhausting and I’m not even the one driving?

Maybe it’s the anticipation of getting there or maybe it’s the anticipation of gettin back. All I know is that I have been in way too much traffic this week. 

Seeing as I’m only home for 9 days (in total) both grandparents called dibs. 

Trip #1 to the Island of Long (aka Long Island): seriously the most annoying place to drive to. Ever.

It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, what month, what time of year, or what time of day. There is always traffic when trying to get to that freaking strip of land. 

It took 3.5 hours to get there and 3.5 hours to get back home Sunday. We spent more time in the car, in total, than we did at our destination. Maybe if people stopped looking at the beach and the kites, we would have moved a little faster. 

My Mom said that is the last time she’s driving out there unless someone dies (yes that’s morbid but for those of you who have not experienced that journey, I do not wish it upon you). 

My sister got that in writing by the way so we’re holding her to it. 

Now for trip #2: Denville, NJ. 

My grandmother lives 60 miles from us. That’s it. So that right should be an hour tops right? 

Wrong. 

It was just our luck that a dump truck hit the side of the overpass on the turnpike today at 10:30 this morning. Traffic was still backed up this afternoon and tonight. It was a standstill (check out the link if you don’t believe me). 

People who worked in the city were told to leave their cars and take a ferry home. 

So what was supposed to be an hour trip took 2.5. The trip home was shorter, just shy of 2 hours. But, again, in the car longer than our actual destination. 

Back to my original point, why am I exhausted? My Mom was the one who did both trips both ways (kudos to her by the way). 

Maybe it’s the anticipation that I knew we were going to hit traffic and I would have to find a way to keep myself awake (I am notorious for falling asleep during car rides. Ask any of my friends) for 2+ hours. 

All I know is, I am driving to Georgia on Monday and I better find a way to keep my energy levels up (sadly no Wawa coffee exists where I’m headed 😢). Hopefully Mom has some tips because I’m going to need all the tricks I can. 

If you think about it, add up the hours I have spent in the car going to my grandparents, and I’m almost in Athens. Crazy huh? 

  

How do you “life” without a planner?

When I say “planner,” I don’t mean the calendar on your phone. 

I mean the spiral or bound little book with tabs for the months, a full calendar, and weekly write-ins that encompasses my entire life (did I metion its color coded?). 

I envy the people who can remember every single thing they have to do, not have to write it down, and never miss a thing. For those of you out there, give yourselves a pat on the back. 

As for me, and most of the people I know, we use a planner or an agenda (I’m a little more crazy about being organized than others that I will admit. But I rarely forget anything and I stay on top of my work so that’s what matters right?). 

For example, I am home for the next 8 days (well, technically less because today is almost over). I have many people to see, much to do, and I still have to pack!

The calendar on my phone is great but I can’t see everything ALL at once. I have to click on each individual day. And aince I’m a) not at school yet and b) not working this week, do you honestly expect me to know what day of the week it is?

The correct answer would be no. So to ensure I see the people I have made plans with in addition to completing the various tasks I have to do, I like to be able to cross off the days. By doing that I know I have gotten x, y, and z done. Now I just have to finish a, b, and c. 

And I don’t even think I could have survived the past two years of college without my planner. Literally it holds my life (for some people their life in in their phone, for me it’s a brightly colored spiral bound book). 

Between practices, work, due dates for projects, exams, and, of course, football games, I had to keep it all straight some how. 

Now I understand that people think writing down and crossing off things in this technological world is a waste of time. Those types of people can live with the calendar on their phone and computer. Kudos to them. But my planner doesn’t “die” on me in the middle of the day. Yours can (just saying). 

To be honest, I have always been like this. I was the kid who got excited about buying new school supplies (and I still do). Some people are more organized than others and some get by (personally that still baffles me). 

I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live their life, but if you feel yours is in slight disarray and you find yourself much more stressed than you need to be, try a planner. 

Lilly comes in some awesome colors and of course Office Max has the more manly ones. 

  

You Can’t Beat Homemade

Living at the Jersey Shore, I’ve been fortunate to grow up exposed to many different things.

I’m less than 2 hours from the city that never sleeps, we have the best Italian around, I’m 10-15 minutes from the beach (depending on how many bennies are out and what time of year it is), and I grew up eating homemade ice cream.

Well, not homemade by me, but by other places within a 5 mile radius.

With a few choices to pick from for ice cream, besides going to the grocery store, I though other places were like this too. It wasn’t until I went to college last year that this perception changed.

I was talking with one of my friends and some how the topic of ice cream came up. She asked me where I went to get ice cream when I was at home. I rattled off three or four places and her jaw dropped.

“You have homemade ice cream where you live??”

“Yes…?”

“Wow, we only have Dairy Queen.”

At that point my jaw dropped. Only Dairy Queen? I don’t think I started going to Dairy Queen until I was old enough to drive (Mostly because my parents though it tasted like “Sugar-Honey-Iced-Tea,” so we would always go to local places).

So, whenever I’m home, my sister and I always, without fail, make a Hoffman’s run. I’ve probably mentioned this place in other posts, but that’s because it truly is the best.

I’ve been there when it’s 90 degrees and I’ve been there when it’s 20 degrees (hey, you can only get their pumpkin pie flavor in the Fall and it is BANGIN). I’ve walked in and walked out and I’ve waited almost an hour. It truly is that good.

And I give the kids who work their props. I’ve worked in an ice cream place before, it gets hectic. (And we only served ONE hard scooped flavor until 5. They serve at least 20) And the bennies do not make it any easier (one came out of the EXIT today, as I was pulling in. She gave me the “WTF” look and I gave her the “Well where do you want me to go??” look. She was the one who ended up moving out of the way). I told my dad today driving at home during the summer will probably make me go grey prematurely.

Anyway, back to ice cream. I hope that where ever I end up living, there’s a locally owned, homemade ice cream place. That way my kids don’t grow accustomed to the mass produced or store bought stuff. It honestly isn’t the same.

Not to mention, homemade places are able to do “funky flavors.” For example, my personal local favorite, is Jersey Monkey. It’s banana ice cream, peanut butter swirls, and chocolate chips. You can only get that here. You won’t find it at any supermarket or Dairy Queen.

Also, I have never had a better mint chocolate chip than the one Hoffman’s makes. And you can hold me to that.

So for those of you reading this who have never been to a local or homemade ice cream place, open up a new browser, and see what’s closest to you. I promise you, it’s worth it (especially this time of year).

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Lazy Beach Days

To me, are few better things than spending the day on the beach.

Disclaimer: My family and I are NOT lake people. I’ll go tubing, but that’s about it. We have this thing about stagnant water, it just weirds us out.

On the other hand, I love pools. It’s nice to have the option to run to the house quickly, but it’s not the same. There’s something about the ocean that just gets to me.

I literally am able to spend an entire day on the beach. Today I got a late start (I was there by 12. Usually I’m there between 10-11) but made it up in the end. We didn’t leave until 5:07. It was just too pretty to leave.

In the Shay family, there are variations as to how we beach. That all depends on how many of us are going.

If it’s just me and my sister, or me and a friend, not much is needed. One bottle of sunscreen, a towel, a good book, and some money for lunch.

If my Mom is coming with us, add in a cooler with sandwiches and a beach chair for her. I’m quite partial to laying on a towel.

Now, if the whole clan decides to beach it for the day, there are many steps.

First, we pick up coffee (always important), sometimes breakfast, and sandwiches for lunch. Most times it’s Wawa (I heart Wawa) but on occasion it’s Bagel’s International. Then we embark toward the beach.

Mom drops the three of us off while we go find a spot to sit. It takes the three of us to get down there because we have additional baggage.

My Dad is in charge of the cart (which holds: towels, the sunscreen bag, chairs, an umbrella, and the cooler). Alex and I rotate between the sunscreen bag and the cooler, depending on how much we’ve packed, in addition to our own beach bags.

After securing a prime spot, close to the ocean but in eye sight of the bathroom, one of us runs a badge up to Mom and the relaxation begins.

I tend to go back and forth between reading, a light snooze, and hanging out in the water. On days when even the cool sand is hot, those are the days that I spend all day in the water. When I was younger I used a boogie board to entertain me, now I stick to body boarding (it’s a work in progress).

My favorite thing to do is go for walks on the beach. Either toward Spring Lake or toward the jetty. On good days, I find some sea glass or a cool shell that’s not totally in pieces. I like to think of it as getting a “workout” in (because you burn more calories walking on the sand then you do on land) because I usually do at least a mile. That counter balances sleeping for the better part of the day.

Sadly, today was my first true lazy beach day. Hopefully I get in another tomorrow and a few more before I leave for school (my friends in So Flo think it’s too hot to go the beach sometimes).

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