This post is LONG overdue, but it just feels like things have been quite busy around here during this past month. October was a month full of very wonderful things! I made a quick, surprise trip home to celebrate the upcoming marriage of a good friend of mine. Then, three days after returning to Kentucky our house was filled with lots of love, family, laughs,wine, and yummy food. My Mom, Dad, Sister and Nephew endured the long drive to Kentucky so we could all spend some time together, and so they could see some new sites.
While they were visiting I wanted to make sure we packed a whole lot of Kentucky into one weekend! While our visitors were here there was one thing that we needed to do and that was celebrate some birthdays! Since Fall is pretty much like Christmas in the Fogarty Family-- between September 20 and October 16th we have five birthdays-- celebrate, we did! My Dad's birthday fell on the weekend that they were visiting, and then a couple weeks prior were my Mom's birthday and my sister's birthday.
The explainable highlights of the weekend include going to the Keeneland Horse Track and betting on some ponies (my dad on $50!), visiting a beautiful winery, touring the town, going to Pop's BBQ (I am going to find a way to get them on the Food Network- so amazing!), and watching a Fall Ball baseball game. The reason why I say "explainable highlights" is because those are the highlights that are in pictures and that are easy to tell people about... but man, oh man, there were so many more highlights than just those.
The highlights that are my favorite are the ones that can't be seen in photographs, but rather pictures in my mind... they're those funny "you had to be there moments." While you are cracking up telling the story to others they all just stare at you with an amused look on their faces not really finding the same humor in it as you. Those were my favorite- like spending practically an hour picking up leaves right outside the Visitor Information center when we had a whole park to admire, to petting the not-so-happy donkeys, to being called rude (in accent that is best repeated by my mom) for parking NEXT (not in) to someone's driveway, to my dad pondering why hospitals are always named after Saints rather than just some regular ol' guy's name like Hubert. Trust me... you had to be there.
While there are times that I miss home more than I ever imagined I would, I am also so grateful for this experience. I am almost certain that if we lived five miles down the road from my family the memories of our weekend together wouldn't have happened. Our time spent together would be quick rather than seizing the opportunity to spend quality time with each other. The hustle and bustle of life can drag a person in all different directions, but having family visit from far away made me want to put all of the over-rated things in life on hold and soak up every second and every memory.
As weird as is sounds, after my weekend at home followed by my family visiting I now feel more at home here in Kentucky than I ever have since moving. I think it was the fact that people I love were able to see where we now live, and that being away in Minnesota made me think and wonder about the things I was missing in Kentucky. I have to say that the month of October has given me feelings of positivity, contentment and finally feeling like this new place is now my new HOME.
Some days not having a plan is the best plan. You have nowhere to be, no one waiting for you, no expectations and nothing on the agenda. The plan for the day is to just go with it and see where the day takes you. That is the type of day we had this past weekend and I wouldn't have traded a million awesome plans for it.
With a forecast of beautiful weather, the best season of the year upon us, and no demands from work we decided to check out this beautiful countryside that we now live in. First, we just wanted to go to an orchard or something... we weren't really sure so we just sort of took off with a few addresses in hand. We found one about 30 miles from us, and it was awesome-- Bramble Ridge Orchard in Mount Sterling. While there wasn't a whole lot going on the morning we stopped, it sounded like a happening place. The couple that runs the orchard even won an Emmy! An Emmy?! How does an apple orchard win an Emmy? They were featured in a news story describing their work with the local schools. The story explained what they do when hosting field trips. The story also talked about their partnership with the school district lunch program and the benefits of Farm-to-School. As someone with a background in public health, I was quite impressed!
After some time visiting with the people at the orchard and being called out as a couple from Minnesota-- it was the license plates, not the accents, thank goodness-- we asked if there were any other good places to go nearby. They suggested a pumpkin patch just a few miles down the road. Well, as we made our way to the next stop we were in awe of all the pretty ranches, colorful leaves and beautiful homes we were driving by. Thinking that we should be getting closer we spotted a field full of sunflowers. "STOP!! SUNFLOWERS!" Ok, seriously, if you see a field of sunflowers one must stop, admire the height and size of such bright flowers, and take a few pictures.
After our time frolicking (such a silly word) around in the sunflower field we made it to Two Sisters pumpkin patch. All I have to say is these two sisters must be BUSY because this was so much more than I expected. They had tons and tons and tons of pumpkins, a corn maze, hay rides, a petting zoo (I kind of want a donkey now!), pumpkin painting, concessions, and a little store with souvenirs and homemade baked goods. After some time of getting lost in the corn maze, hanging out with the animals and taking a horse-carried wagon ride we were about ready to think about the next stop. It may have been that I was just thirsty or the name of the pumpkin patch, Two Sisters, reminded me of one of my favorite wineries back home, Four Daughters (if you're ever in SE Minnesota, check it out), but I wanted to know if there were any good wineries nearby. So, we asked a lady at the patch where we should go and she raved on and on about this one in Lexington. So, that's where we went next!
When we arrived to the winery they asked us if we wanted to sit inside. I'm not sure if they know this, but when you're from Minnesota and it's nice out, you sit outside. Beautiful weather days are like gold! Maybe I'm the only one, but I do not want to waste a minute indoors. The lady that recommended the winery to us was right, Jean Farris Winery was beautiful, and the wine was awesome. I also really liked that they had more than just wine samples, as you could also sample some craft beers, whiskey and a few other wine varieties. While I love going to a winery and having the server tell us about each wine we are tasting, I enjoyed how this winery operated-- you order a flight of four different wines and they bring all the options out to you at once and you can just sample and sip at your own pace.
While at the winery we sat across from another younger couple that was also new to the area. Like us, they were just starting to learn the lay of the land and adjusting to life in Kentucky. After a few samples of white wine and craft beer we decided that we were ready for dinner. Like our first few stops, we asked the couple if they had any food recommendations. They suggested a locally owned (always my first choice) restaurant called Bella Note. The kicker about this place is if you tell them that you're new to the area or have never been to the restaurant they will give you something free, either dessert or an appetizer! Well, after hearing that news, who can turn down a suggestion like that! We are glad that we asked the couple about this place because it was awesome. The food was amazing, the customer service was great, and you guessed it, we got free dessert!
Being new to an area and eager to try new places, I would say we had a very successful day. Everyone that we talked to was so nice and happy to make recommendations for us, plus they know the area and can tell you what's good and what isn't. So next time you're somewhere and not sure where you want to go next, just ask someone-- they'd be happy to help you out! Also, keep that "We're new here" card in your back pocket for as long as you can. People always want to help out the newbies!
This was our first full weekend in Kentucky together and it was a blast! We didn't spend a whole weekend somewhere different but rather just the day, so therefore I will name this post Day-ers.
Where we went: Lexington, KY
What we did: Went to a University of Kentucky football game.
Before we got ambitious and went on our day trip we decided that a relaxing Friday night at home is just what we needed. With our first full week in Kentucky together under our belts we were both ready for a slow down. The work week can be exhausting and by Friday night all we wanted to do is hang out at home and drink a little wine, so that is just what we did. We cracked open a bottle of wine that we received as the best housewarming gift on record from some wonderful friends of mine, fired up the grill to make some killer brats and sweet potato fries (Note: Not attempting to make sweet potato fries on the grill again-- the oven works best), turned on the tunes and shuffled a deck of cards. The evening was perfect- awesome weather, the best company, delicious food, and hit-the-spot wine. We even made a new friend! We like to call her Frankie. Frankie is the neighbor's cat that we figured was a girl AFTER we gave her the name Frankie (other names include Franklin, Frankers, Frankie-butt, Frankie-poo, Frank the Tank). The pink collar and purple bell should have been a dead giveaway but like I said, we cracked open that bottle of wine. Before we knew it the clock showed 1 A.M. and Frankie lost interest in hanging out with us. Who knew you could have so much fun hanging out with one person without having to go anywhere?!
On Saturday we got up, saw that the weather man was wrong on his rain prediction and bought some tickets to the University of Kentucky vs. Ohio University football game. With both of us being new to the area the whole day was a learning experience. Some things we learned:
My love and I will be starting a new adventure together soon as we will be packing up our lives in Minnesota and moving to Kentucky. While our goal in the long run is to eventually make our way back to God's County, AKA Minnesota, it's pretty darn safe to bet that we are going to live it up while we are in Kentucky. Considering that the majority of our relationship thus far has been long-distance (living six hours apart from each other) neither one of us is afraid to jump in the car and go a little out of our way to have a fun weekend. This is one of the many things that makes him my number one P.I.C. (partner in crime).
When I got out the map to see how far away we will be from our home, approximately 12 hours, I couldn't help but notice all the places that we will be living just a few short hours from. Upon that observation I made a decision for us-- we will be Weekenders. We are going to enjoy our time there, embrace all that will be close to us and take fun weekend trips as often as possible, and as much as our wallets can afford us to. Who knows how long we will be there for, so we might as well take advantage of all the new experiences our new 'home' has to offer.