Back at it again!

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Wow, it’s been over a year since I wrote an actual blog post. And, I fell off the gratitude journal again. But then, yesterday, I read an article that said it’s a good thing to do a little review of what you’re grateful for at the end of the day, so I thought I should pick that back up. It really does help me keep a better mindset when I do it.

In other news, I’m trying again to grow tomatoes! Kelly brought back some San Marzano seeds from Italy, and when we visited, I filched some seeds. They all sprouted and here are six plants, ready to go into the ground. Have to get some dirt and stuff this week. I just hope it doesn’t get too cold before they’re ready… should be early to mid-December. Crossing fingers!!

Tomato plants

Hi

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It’s been a while since I blogged, though I have been keeping up with the gratitude journal! That’s why I moved it up to the top right, so it’s easier to see and shows more.

We’re currently in the throes of helping to plan the Playing It Forward Music Festival. It’s fun and a lot of work, too. Hopefully it will be a successful event!

And here’s a random picture of a reflection in a canal, taken while we were at the Bayport Inn, having a delicious prime rib dinner.

Reflection

 

Happy New Year!

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A lot happened in 2013. We got married! We went on a cruise for our honeymoon. We did several mud runs. We held a ballroom dance event. I’m sure there’s more but I never did get around to posting about things. Several people have asked about my blog so I’m going to start posting here again, starting with writing an entry in my gratitude journal every day. Thank you for reading!

 

Warrior Dash complete!

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We traveled down to Lake Wales (a two hour drive) to participate in a 5k mud/obstacle run. It was a lot of fun!

Entering Warrior Dash

The obstacles were good and the camaraderie was awesome. We waited at the start line for nearly 30 minutes so we could be in front, and on one of the obstacles we had to wait almost half an hour to go on it, so we talked to quite a few people and watched everyone go over the obstacle in front of us. Some of the people were quite amusing. They encourage crazy costumes at Warrior Dash; we found Nemo and Waldo, too! We also saw men in suits, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, men dressed as fairies, beauty queens, and princesses, and all sorts of people in tutus.

While waiting, we talked to one guy in a kilt… I was wondering if he followed the tradition of men in kilts being bare under there but he said he kept it family friendly. This same guy had already run a 5k earlier in the day and had a soccer game to coach in the evening. Whew! The lady behind us was 55 and we were quite impressed with her physical abilities.

Here we are, nice an clean before the race:

Before the mud run

And after:

Warrior Dash 2013

They took pictures at various points of the run so hopefully we can get some good ones and post them.

For obstacles, there were several mud pits and a couple of places to wade through knee deep water. After the first mud pit, my mud-caked shoes felt like bricks on my feet but I was able to stomp it off as we went. I was amazed at the number of shoes left laying around after each mud pit! People also seemed to shed clothes on a regular basis. Running through the deep sand was very difficult so we’re going to try and find places to train around here where we can run in loose sand.

My favorite obstacles were climbing ones. One was a big plywood A-frame with knotted ropes, up and over! The other one was near the end… 3 A-frames that started and ended by climbing a net, with rock climbing-type walls in the middle. My little legs had trouble on parts of that but Trav helped me! He’s a great teammate and partner. I want to challenge myself physically and get over the obstacles on my own, but his help is appreciated very much when I need it.

One of the other obstacles I enjoyed very much was an up and down balance beam where we were getting blasted with freezing cold water. So refreshing! And one was a little nerve-wracking because as we were going over one where you climbed over a frame using chains, there was a guy underneath with a nail gun, putting the obstacle back together!! Whoops.

We were pretty dirty at the end.

Muddy!

Sticky, sticky mud! It just kept coming and coming when I tried to rinse off. On the way home, we went to dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s and I still had dirt on my ears, neck, and arms. Luckily, the rest was hidden by clothing.

Also at Ruby Tuesday’s we saw the people that were behind us in the obstacle line. They came over to thank Trav for being such a standup guy, because while were were in line, a kid cut in front of the ladies behind us. Trav noticed and told the kid that he was very rude for cutting in, and the kid just shrugged and continued to stand there!! Ugh. But the ladies were grateful he said something, and they did manage to get in front of him, but he still jostled and cut in front of people while actually ON the obstacle. It was nice that they came over afterwards to say thanks, for that, and for helping the 55 year old over the obstacle, too.

Oh, and the last obstacle was jumping over fire!! I’m hoping the pics for that came out good. Trav and I jumped over them hand-in-hand, and also crossed the finish line that way. Awesome!

Our next run is Mud Endeavor in Brooksville… can’t wait!

Good Grammar!

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English was always one of my favorite classes in school. I love reading, vocabulary, grammar… all that stuff. One of my newsletters had a good infographic about 15 common grammar mistakes. I see these every day and it annoys the heck out of me. I suppose I’ll post this on Facebook, too. Maybe it will help people! Click below for the full infographic.

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly

I would add one more thing to the list – the difference between to and too:

  • Too means ‘as well’ (e.g. He’s going to the movies, too.)  or conveys the idea of ‘in excess’ (e.g. Too many cooks spoil the pot).
  • To is a preposition (e.g. Give it to her.) or is used to show the infinitive form of a verb (e.g. I want to run.)
Click the link above for a little quiz on the usage. Fun!

RV Trip 2011 – New Jersey, Part 1

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We arrived about five minutes before Kelly got home from work. Nice timing! For a lovely welcome, Kelly shared a special bottle of wine with us – one she brought back from Italy.

Italian Wine with Kelly

The wine was delicious and went perfectly with dinner – rack of lamb! Kelly is such a good cook – the food was yummy and we had a good time chatting.

Kelly grilling rack of lamb

Here is Kelly’s new kitchen! It’s awesome… granite counter tops, spacious cupboards and a stove to die for.

Kelly's new kitchen

The next day we went to Philadelphia. First stop – Kelly’s work. We met many of the people she works with – all very nice. I wish I had taken their pictures! Here we are near her building, with City Hall in the background.

Emily & Kelly in downtown Philadelphia

Kelly treated us to lunch at one of her favorite restaurants – Barbuzzo. Kelly & I had pizza (hers with a fried egg on it and mine with lardo) and Dad had a burger. We really enjoyed the meal and it was an interesting place to visit. The chef sent over an antipasto platter when we got there, and boy was it good! Olives and vegetables and cheese – nom nom nom.

Lunch

After lunch we decided to spend the afternoon at the Camden Aquarium, just over the river in New Jersey. It’s a very nice place! They had a HUGE tank with all kinds of interesting stuff in it – various sharks, stingrays, huge turtles and big schools of fish. Our favorite in that tank were the fish riding on the wake of the stingrays.

Here we are touching the stingrays. It’s surprising how they are velvety soft.

Touching the stingrays at the Camden Aquarium

The piranhas better watch out for Kelly!! hehehe

Kelly biting the piranhas!

I loved this part of the aquarium. It was very tranquil, being surrounded by all that water.

Aquarium tunnel

There were so many awesome creatures to see. I took lots of pictures but won’t bore you with a whole bunch of them – unless you come over and ask to see! There’s video, too. I did want to include this beautiful sea dragon, though.. he’s just stunning. The picture doesn’t really do him justice.

Seahorse at the Camden Aquarium

The last “show” we got to see was the Penguin March. The penguins knew it was 4:30 and time for them to go in, eat and bed down for the night. They lined right up and marched in when the door was opened. Each penguin has its own spot inside and I think they said they enter in the same order every day… they have a hierarchy thing going. So cute!

Penguins waiting to go in for the night

I don’t remember what we did for dinner that night, but in all, it was a fun and relaxing day spent in good company.

The next day we planned on driving up to Rochester to visit with Dad’s family there, so that will be my next post! You can also read about the entire trip here.

RV Trip 2011 – Florida to New Jersey

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Dad and I set out for New Jersey on Saturday morning. Our first destination was St. Augustine, Florida, to visit the Fountain of Youth. Here we are at the entrance, with Don Juan Ponce de Leon.

Dad & Emmy at the Fountain of Youth

It was a nice little place to explore, with exhibits about the native Indians and the Spanish people who landed there in 1513. We were welcome to take a drink from the Fountain of Youth. It tasted of sulfur.

Drinking from the Fountain of Youth

The park guy said we were lucky it only stank a little because some days it was just terrible. We finished our tour and after driving all afternoon ended up in Savannah, Georgia, where we camped at a little RV place just off Route 16.

Camped in Savannah, Georgia

There was a bad storm during the night and a very large tree came down near the entrance. It rained so hard some of it got under the slider covers and when Dad pulled out, it spilled down his back in the driver’s seat when he first braked! Luckily it wasn’t overly much but it was sure enough to wake Dad up fully!

We made our way down to the beach in Tybee Island and it was a very pretty drive. Some of the streets of Savannah are very narrow… we took up the entire lane.

Street in Savannah, Georgia

Tybee Island is a beautiful place and I would love to go back someday. It’s full of little artsy shops and stuff. We parked a block away from the beach and walked down to put our feet in the sand. Here’s Dad on the beach.

Dad on the beach at Tybee Island, Georgia

On the way back we saw these cats doing what cats do best… laying around and looking pretty. 🙂

Tybee Island cats

I drove from the beach on the very narrow roads (only hit one curb, whew!) and then we went all day. For Dad’s Father’s Day dinner we found a steakhouse in Smithfield, Virginia, where I treated Dad to two of his favorite foods – steak and ribs! The food was very yummy.

Father's Day Dinner 2011

It was almost dark by the time we left the restaurant and got to the RV park in Selma.

Camping in Selma, Virginia

We camped by a lake and in the morning, some ducks came by to see if we had anything for them.

Virginia Ducks

We had another pleasant day of driving, conversation and listening to music. We went under the Baltimore Harbor. I’m always amazed by these feats of engineering… driving under a big body of water like that is incredible.

Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, Maryland

I’m also a big fan of bridges but some of them were a little scary in the RV… the ones that had very low sides made me pretty nervous. Seems like you could go right over the edge if something bad happened. Even just looking at the picture now gives me the willies!!

Crossing a high bridge with low sides

Here’s a spectacular bridge that goes from Delaware into New Jersey – the Delaware Memorial Bridge. There was a lot of traffic but we kept moving.

Delaware Memorial Bridge to New Jersey

Yay! After crossing the bridge, we were very close to our destination.

Welcome to New Jersey!

The next post will be about our first couple of days with Kelly in New Jersey. Read about the entire trip here.

Anniversary Picture

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On the morning of 9/11/01 I was working and Kevin called me and said, “Turn on your TV, to CNN, now!” I asked why and he said, “Just turn it on!!” Then I sat and cried for the next three days. Such a dark time… and we have lost so much because of what happened that day.

A show we never watch, but everyone asks if we do…

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Last night, Trav & I performed a ballroom dance routine for the “Dancing with the Stars” show at the Timber Pines community, for their Newcomer’s Club. Our dance teachers Bonnie and Chris were hired to put on the show. Bonnie did a wonderful job with my makeup, hair and costume. And Trav looked so handsome and dashing… my latin lover!

Trav & Emmy - Merengue 2011 at Bonnie's

About 200 people were in attendance, and we were the first couple to go on stage. We did the merengue, with the other couples dancing Rumba Bolero, Cha-Cha and Swing. We took pictures, did pre-show interviews, and recorded the whole show, and Trav made an amazing DVD of the whole production! We can watch it when you come over. Click below to see our dance!

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I was shaking like a leaf the entire time we were on stage… thank goodness Trav had himself together!! After our performance, we all went to Carrabba’s and had a delicious dinner. What a wonderful evening… everything a girl could want. 🙂

Bacon Sundae :p~

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I just had to try this when we last went to Denny’s… a sundae with bacon and maple syrup on vanilla ice cream. The combination of salty and sweet is sublime! I couldn’t finish it but I did fish out all of the bacon.

Maple Bacon Sundae

Bok Tower Gardens

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A couple of weeks ago, we went down to Tampa to visit our friend Barb, and she took us over to Lake Wales to visit Bok Tower Gardens. What a beautiful place! Among the gardens, there is a 205 foot carillon bell tower made of pink marble and coquina. It sits on a hill called Iron Mountain, which at 295 feet is one of the highest points in peninsular Florida.

Bok Tower - Trav

I laid on the ground to get that one. 🙂 Here’s a closer view of some of the extremely detailed and gorgeous carvings:

Bok Tower Details

And here we are the entrance:

Bok Tower Emmy Trav

On our way out, we took some time to go over to Spook Hill, where you can make your car seem to roll uphill. We didn’t get it. But I looked around and found this video and now it makes a lot more sense! Pretty silly but also entertaining.

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Family dinner at Mama Louisa’s

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While in Tucson, we had a family get together at a lovely Italian restaurant. I treasure my family – they are so fun and interesting!

Family Gathering at Mama Louisa's

Change Your Thinking

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Passed on to me by Jim. Thanks, Jim!

It will take just 37 seconds to read this and change your thinking.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.

His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end.

They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation…

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.

Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.

He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

She said, ‘Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.’

Epilogue:

There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.

Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.

‘Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present.’

Amazing Dog

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This dog is awesome! Thanks for sharing, Jane. 🙂

Skydiving!!!

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October 16, 2010 was the most perfect day of my life. We had a thrilling, exciting and life-affirming experience that day… skydiving!

We chose the Skydive Space Center because they offer the world’s highest tandem jump at 18,000 feet. For this type of skydiving, you’re strapped to the front of an experienced jumpmaster, and you get to freefall for 13,000 feet, which is a little over a minute – it doesn’t last long when you’re going 120 mph! Then after the parachute opens, it takes about 5-6 minutes to cover the last 5,000 feet to the ground. We also got the Ultimate video package to go with it, which means you have a videographer to film your freefall, and your jumpmaster has a camera on his wrist, so the entire jump is filmed.

We arrived at the center around 10am, and the first order of business was to get weighed (there’s a 220 pound weight limit), pay for the jumps, and  sign our lives away on 12 pages of paperwork. Yep, I get it… skydiving is dangerous. Yep, I get it… I could be hurt or killed. Yep, I got it the first 10 times you stated it in the paperwork!

Skydiving Paperwork

With the papers all signed, initialed and filed, it was time to go out to the hangar to see about getting our gear and safety briefing.

When we went out, we each got to meet our jumpmaster and videographer. I was hoping for a cute jumpmaster and I was not disappointed! Cris gathered all of his people together and we got instructions on what to do and how the jump would go. Ki (my excellent videographer) did my pre-jump interview (which you’ll see below); Trav and Bleys also got their interviews, gear and briefings, and we were ready to go.

Skydiving - Ready to Go!

We were in the third group to go up, so as we waited, we watched the other groups leave and then land. The only thing I was little nervous about was the landing (if I break a leg, how can I go dancing?), but after watching the others come in, I didn’t worry any more. All of the landings were without incident – very smooth. Also while we were waiting, we met the pilot. When somebody commented on jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, he said, “Yeah… it’s not that good of a plane.” As long as it was good enough for the 15 minute ride up to 18,000 feet, that was good enough for me. 🙂 We also had an impromptu dance practice on the foxtrot box step while we waited and Bleys’ videographer wanted to know if that was our last dance. I hoped not!

By the time we were ready to board the plane, my face was sore from smiling so much… I don’t think the grin left my face the whole time we were there. Little did I know what a massage my face was about to get! So, without further ado, here’s the video. Because it’s edited to include shots from two cameras, the freefall seems much longer than it really was. Down below are my comments about different parts of the video.

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2:00 The center is in Titusville, near the Kennedy Space Center. Off in the distance, we could see the buildings and runways for the Space Center.

2:55 We exit the plane. What a rush as we tumble for the first few seconds. I forgot to arch my back and keep my head back… I’ll remember next time, Cris! If I do that, can we freefall on our backs for a few seconds? I think that would be neat.

3:13 For a split second (and it’s written all over my face!) I think, “Oh crap, I just stepped out of an airplane!”

3:45 You can see the airport near the middle of the screen. It looks so small from up there!

5:00 I wonder what all of the hand signals mean. Or are they making their bodies do certain things with gestures? Perhaps I’ll find out if I ever train for a job as a skydiving videographer.

5:43 Ahhh… sweet, sweet relief, from the wind in my face and my ears popping.

Skydiving - Parachute Opens

6:27 I should have looked in the thesaurus before we left, for synonyms to the word “awesome!”

6:50 Wheeeeeee! Pull down on one of the steering lines and you go sideways and do circles! That was a really fun part.

7:15 I’m a little disappointed in my answer to the question, “Will you do it again?” All I thought about at that moment was the money instead of the thrill. Later on, after I had time to process the whole thing, my answer changed to, “Yes, definitely! When can we go again?”

7:45 Perfect, soft landing. I had a little wardrobe malfunction on the way down… shortly before we landed, Cris loosened the harness and my bra came popping up over my boobs. Whoops!

8:04 Trav comes to get me. I’m so glad he was there when I got finished.

After the jump was over, I felt spent, but in the best way possible. What an intense experience! The buzz from the jump lasted about three weeks… I felt so good! Ki said it was addicting, and I can see now how that can be. I watch my video every day and I can’t wait to go again.

I especially want to thank Cris & Ki for making a safe and fun experience I will always treasure.<3

Skydiving Freefall

Random links from Opera tab cleanup…

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I have to get rid of some of my open tabs in Opera.

Wow! Opera is much faster now. 😀

We’re going skydiving!

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We’ve wanted to sky dive ever since we met. This weekend we are finally doing it!! We have reservations to jump out of a plane at 18,000 feet. Woo hoo!

We Visit Orlando Again

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This time we went to spend the day with Trav’s cousins, and we had a lot of fun! They were staying at Summer Bay Resort in Clermont. While John was cooking lunch on the grill, we were watching two guys riding jet skis on the lake. They were starting to get pretty close to each other and when they came around and circled real close, one guy dumped it over. Then he couldn’t get it flipped, so they had to come tow it away with a tiny rescue boat. Rather amusing!

Great White Egret

After lunch we went swimming, plus me and Melissa participated in the line dancing… here we are doing the Cupid Shuffle!! There’s no sound, so you’ll just have to sing along in your head – to the right, to the right, to the right, to the right, to the left, to the left, to the left, to the left, now kick, now kick, now come on baby kick, now walk it by yourself, walk it by yourself! Etc.

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For dinner, we went to a local seafood place called High Tide Harry’s, on Semoran Blvd just up the road from the airport. We chose it because it had pretty good reviews, and they had to pick up their daughter at the airport. We got Melissa and Kat to try alligator, and they liked it! The place has great ambiance, and the food was good. I had a bowl of blue crab stew and a salad, along with hushpuppies and the appetizers of gator and fried okra. Yum!

High Tide Harry's

And here’s Mandy with her fishbowl of Long Island Iced Tea. 32 oz! We all helped her finish it… it was actually pretty tasty. I’m glad somebody got that special drink because it’s pretty darn fun.

Mandy with Fishbowl of Long Island Iced Tea

Just down the road from the resort are tons of gift shops, many with huge, garish decorations on the buildings. On the way back, we decided to stop at one of them. I scored a dolphin mood necklace and two very pretty anklets. One is the Del Sol kind, where the string turns a different color in the sunshine, and the other is made of paua shell dolphins. Here’s the outside of the shop. It looks hazy because the camera lens fogged up with the humidity and I didn’t have time to wait for it to clear… had to hurry up and shop!

Magic Castle Gift Shop, Kissimmee Florida

I’m liking the Orlando area very much – we’ve had a lot fun there recently!

Secrets of Success in 8 Words

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Recently I found the site dipdip.org (5 things the world shared today), and they featured a video which I really like…

Richard St. John: Secrets of Success in 8 Words

Passion, work, focus, persist, ideas, good, push, and serve.

Orlando Trip

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The other day, we took a drive over to Orlando to visit with Trav’s brother Mike and his family, and to give Bleys some stuff he needs for his apartment. We had a great visit! Here are a few pics from the resort where they are vacationing.

Trav & Mike Resort

Emmy & Mike

We hung out at the pool for a while, then went up to get ready for dinner at Agave Azul. Yay! I’m happy to report it was just as good this time. I got the Pollo Mole – it was seasoned very well and I enjoyed it a lot. Trav had the fajitas and reported them to be excellent.

Since they have over 200 kinds of tequila, I felt like I wanted a drink with tequila in it. After marveling at the $65 shots of Anejo and thinking about sipping a glass of straight tequila (could I smell it without my belly doing a flip?), I decided on the Purple Margarita. It has tequila, cranberry juice and Chambord (a black raspberry liqueur). It was delicious! Kind of expensive but worth it. It’s in the pic below.

Emmy, Trav, Kierra, Bleys, Alia, Mike, Corwin

Mike decided to order all 5 desserts they had on the menu, for 8 of us to share. I was SOOO full when we left there! And we got some pictures for LickYourPlateClean.com, tee hee!