Celebrating the Start of 2011!

A very memorable weekend with friends!

I just finished uploading 62 of my favorite photos from New Year's weekend.
"Sixty-two!" you say? Yeah, 62 out of 170.

I love making and savoring memories. We had a wonderful weekend and I will get to relive it many, many times through our pictures. If we're Facebook friends (or have mutual friends), you can see the whole album. If not, I will share a few on my blog (in a separate blog post).

A few weeks ago I asked a friend of mine what they were doing for New Year's Eve. We didn't have any plans and I wanted to do something. I wasn't sure what. And I was thinking about having a small dinner party at our house. Karen told me she and Ricky (her husband) were going to their condo at the beach and asked if we might want to fly down and join them. I told John about the invitation and said, "I know we probably shouldn't go anywhere else so soon, since we just spent a week in Jamaica. But it sure sounds fun." He said it sounded like a lot of fun to him, too. But we probably shouldn't...

I emailed Karen that night: "Let me get back to you about your invitation. When I proposed the idea, John said we probably shouldn't ... But he didn't say no. I think he might be pondering the idea. And sometimes he enjoys surprising me with something I'm not expecting. Let's give it a few days."

The next evening, when John walked in from work, he held up a print-out of our Southwest Itinerary and -- with a big grin -- said, "Guess what I did? I booked our flight to PCB. Happy Anniversary." (Our wedding anniversary is January 4.) You could have peeled me off the ceiling. I think I jumped up and down while hugging and kissing him. I was really excited. (It's times like these when he usually says, "Don't hurt me.")

We flew down Thursday evening. Our mutual friends, Mike and Cheryl, had rented their own condo and were there as well. We visited over lunch Friday with Karen's parents (who live in PCB now). We went out to dinner on New Year's Eve at Pasta Grill (the owner and chef was once the White House Chef for President Reagan). We walked around Pier Park after dinner and listened to a couple of bands. Then we went back to the condo just before midnight. They dropped a beach ball at Pier Park and then there was a spectacular firework show over the pier at midnight. We had the best view from the 15th floor condo balcony at Calypso. So we wanted to watch the fireworks from there. We had picked out two boxes of bakery desserts after dinner and saved them for just after the stroke of midnight. All six of us could not finish the assortment of pastries. But it was fun trying.

John and I are almost always asleep by 10:30. But we stayed up Thursday night until midnight watching the "Burn Notice" marathon with Ricky and Karen. And then we stayed up till 1:00 a.m. on New Year's Eve. We were tired on New Year's morning.

We watched a little of the Rose Parade while drinking coffee and relaxing in the condo. We also watched a little football. I couldn't stand the thought of food until about 2:00 p.m. (Finally had a slice of toasted breakfast bread from Publix with a bit of peanut butter.) I was starting to feel hungry, but I wanted to save my appetite for dinner at a very special restaurant.

Ricky and Karen had told us about this amazing place they wanted to take us, called "Firefly." It is the restaurant where the Obama entourage dined while in PCB after the oil disaster. And before dinner we toured some condos. John loves to look at real estate ... especially at the beach.

John has toyed with the idea of buying a condo at the beach for quite a while, and every time we're down there he enjoys looking around. He shops foreclosures on the Internet continuously. But with the toll the economy has taken on business, we have held back. Although, there will probably never be a better time to buy. Ricky and Karen have a property management business and they manage almost twenty units. So they showed us several interiors and gave us lots of tips on the up and down sides of rentals in different locations. I know John has the bug worse than ever right now. I, who have never really had the bug, also felt slightly "bitten" after this trip. We've always stayed in Destin, but I think I like PCB a little better. And I love Pier Park.

We had several great meals in PCB. Starting with he Boatyard for lunch on Friday, followed by dinner on New Year's Eve at The Pasta Grill, and topped off by a New Year's Day dinner at Firefly. We had lunch at Dusty's Oyster Bar just before we headed to the airport yesterday. It is a local favorite and always crowded. I have to admit that I prefer The Back Porch to Dusty's. (I told Karen and Ricky they really need to try the seafood nachos at The Back Porch. They are unbelievable.) But Dusty's was good and a fun experience. I even tried my first raw oyster ever! (I don't think I will crave them, but they were not gross like they look.) I was so apprehensive, thinking I would gag, especially when they all told me I had to eat it whole and not try to take a tiny bite. But I chomped down bravely and was pleasantly surprised.

We flew home yesterday and John was talking about changing our flight and staying another day all the way up to the ticket counter. I love it when I know he is having a great time and really relaxing. None of us knows what tomorrow holds. He's been telling me since we were first together that he is working hard now so that we can have a great life when he retires. And my response has always been, "We don't know that both of us will be here and healthy for the golden years you are planning." I was saying that long before his CLL diagnosis. Because it's true. Diagnosis or no diagnosis. None of us has the guarantee of old age. It's not pessimism, it's just reality.

I'm thankful for every opportunity we have to spend quality time together as a couple and with our good friends and families. This weekend will always be such a special memory.

Thanks, Ricky and Karen. Not only for a memorable weekend and New Year's celebration, but for the gift of your friendship!

Thanks to both the Joneses, the Powells, and John ... for sharing tastes of everything on your plates.
And thanks to all for putting up with me when I ordered: "No one touch their food until I get pictures!" (When I post some pictures, I will probably include a brief review of the restaurants.)

There is no way I could have had any more fun celebrating the New Year than I did this year! But I could have this much fun again if we make it a tradition.


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