Good Music, Good people and Getting Back To Doing Good Stuff For Our Veterans; Now With Dogs!

If you’ve been here for a while you’ll recall that the Coach spearheaded Songwriters For Veterans charity events in 2018 and 2019. He’s also hosted a few smoked pork butt cook off’s to raise proceeds for Veterans. These events are so much work, but he loves doing it and never complains. ALL proceeds go directly to vetted Veteran Charities. He does all of the work for free and the past few years we’ve had a handful of our employees that also do a good portion of the work on our dime. (website setups, ticket sales, merchandise ordering, etc)

In early 2020 The Coach decided to expand our Songwriters event to the East Coast where a lot of our friends live. Plans were in place, sponsors wrote checks….and then we all know what happened.

Finally, 2022, the event was going to happen. Can you believe that our amazing sponsors NEVER asked for their money back, they trusted that the event would happen eventually; talk about being gracious.

2022-I’m a VIP, it says so on my lanyard!

Songwriters For Vets

The Coach was able to secure five singer/songwriters for the event, and someone new to the lineup was our wonderful friend Clint who is a bonafide Cowboy and Poet. We’ve been friends for a long time and Fun Fact, we adopted Callie from Clint’s cattle ranch a hundred years ago and the dog is still kicking. It’s a magical ranch!

Anyhoo, Clint read one of his amazing poems before the songwriters took over and I have a video version of it.

Unless you’re a commie bastard, you’ll appreciate it. 😳

There was not a dry eye in the house.

ONTO THE MUSIC

Our songwriters talk/sing in the BlueBird Cafe style and it’s so interesting to hear the stories behind the songs. I’m not gonna go into detail about our songwriters, they are all accomplished and wonderful humans. Our lineup or this event was Kristian Bush (of Sugarland) Patrick Davis, Channing Wilson, Lauren Jenkins and Angie Aparo (my new favorite!)

I took one little clip of Kristian singing…he explained that this “love song” Isn’t really about love at all, it’s about being in a relationship with someone who makes you nuts and each time you try to leave, they do one little thing to bring you back in.

My husband could probably relate.

As you can see even though I’m a VIP, I didn’t have the best seat in the house. We saved those for our gracious sponsors.

AGAIN WITH DOGGIES

I almost forgot the ‘almost’ best part. My girl Kelly is good friends with the people at a dog rescue in Jupiter and they decided to do an adopt & donate TWO-FER. (This particular rescue has a dog training program that helps Veterans with PTSD and they also take in and care for dogs belonging to a service person who is going overseas.) This little rescue girl (from Ukraine) was auctioned off for three thousand dollars with the proceeds going to our charity. The rescue people of course vetted the humans before they let her go with them, but how awesome is that? She got a home and the money went to our Veterans.

The Coach would have doubled the donation for her if we had room for another pup.

OLD OLD FRIENDS

Since the Coach and I were in our old stomping grounds (we were both raised on the East Coast of FL) we had a lot of our old friends in attendance.

The Coach and four of his childhood friends; they’ve been in each others lives for nearly fifty years.


It was such a fun, busy and proud weekend for all of us.

I hardly took any photos of the night as I was enjoying every minute. The night was a huge success; the event profited just under $40,000 for the night.

I KNOW!

Are you a live music fan? It’s always good time in our books.

How about long friendships? Do you have any that are that long?

XOXO

Traveling Again, No Lack Of Southern Food & Not Appreciating My Lack Of Stars

This past weekend the Coach and I had a fun trip with our two good friends, Steve and Amy. In my last post we (mostly me) were talking about our Colorado/Wyoming trip; exactly four days after arriving home from that adventure, we headed to the East Coast for a long weekend charity event spearheaded by the Coach (I’m working on that amazing post) and then less than two weeks later we were off to Charleston, SC.

Needless to say it’s been a whirlwind.

The Coach is a planner and loves to travel…I’m just trying to keep up.

In our family, we call this A Path Of Ankle Snapping.

I Had Dreams Of Being A Big Star

Since we were flying to SC, the Coach looked into renting a car; it was over $1700 for the weekend. We opted to uber everywhere, which was perfectly fine.

I’ve been using uber since 2016 and while in Charleston I was surprised to see that MY uber rating was a 4.88 out of five stars.

WTH? I’m a great ride, I swear!

This perplexed me to no end. I went through all my past trips and I had five stars across the board EXCEPT for a few rides where the driver didn’t give ANY rating and most of those were in New Zealand; thanks Kiwis! I’m thinking of traveling back to New Zealand, hunting down the lackey Uber drivers and shanking them. Anyhoo, my 4.88 self was trying my best to up my rating by calling all the Ubers when we needed them, but then also scolding my friends so they’d act right and not screw up my rating further. Amy and Steve, they had perfect Fives. This irritated me to no end…

Nine rides later and I’m still a 4.88

All the food, all the time.

I feel like all we did was eat because mostly we just ate. {in air conditioned establishments} It was really hot and I’m from Florida, so you can believe it when I say it was hawwwt. We did a self walking tour via an app one day and I quit after a mile and half, and found solace in Bitty And Beaus where I sucked down an iced tea and enjoyed the A/C as if my life depended on it. If you ever get a chance to visit one of their (24!) locations, you should.

I made reservations for both lunch and dinner each day because everything fills up quickly and when on vacation, you don’t want to scramble or have to wait for feedings. Surprisingly, I only had Shrimp And Grits once whereas the last few times I visited I had it several times.

In case you are planning a trip to Charleston here are the places we ate:

82 Queen Dinner-Very good low country offerings, great service.

Slightly North Of Broad (SNOB)Lunch-Amazing low country food.

The Establishment Dinner—it was hands down the favorite for the four of us. Amazing low country food, service and atmosphere.

Anson Dinner. Again, low country food and service.

Are you sensing a pattern?

Tempest Lunch. Good food, a bit overpriced for what you get.

I found this adorable butterfly dining chair…now I just need nine more.

For my Bravo loving, Southern Charm friends: We saw Patricia’s historic mansion, but I didn’t spot Patricia, her butler or her caftans.


You Can Stay Here

Looking into hotel rooms while planning this trip was also a bit scary: THEY BE ‘SPENSIVE. So we opted for a VRBO and I found a really cute place that had two bedrooms with king beds; lawd forbid we slum down to a Queen size for a weekend.

This was in a great location and I think the cost was appropriate and more reasonable than two hotel rooms and we were able to prepare our own breakfasts. Plus, it was really cute with all the exposed brick and ancient wood floors. Bonus: even though it was a really old building that was completely remodeled, I didn’t sense ONE GHOST while I was there and you know, I know about The Spirits.

It was Amy and Steve’s 23rd anniversary; they’re practically newlyweds.

Have you been to Charleston before?

Do you know what your Uber rating is and do you feel differently about me knowing I’m less than perfect?

XOXO

Signed, your forever 4.88 friend Suz.

Wine Tour South-South, Wine Tour North-South And What’s With All The Pumpkin Soup?

Recently I was perusing my drafts folder and realized I have a lot of unfinished business. Most of it I will trash, but this post that I started 2018 after my 13 day trip to New Zealand with Kelly, well, I really wanted it on my blog for prosperity. I wrote a few other posts about our trip and the adventure of this Florida girl driving on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road in a winter white-out. SO many unexpected things happened, but I can say for certain this is a country I would visit again. (if you care to read, I have a tag on the side of my page labeled New Zealand.)

After previewing this post and all the wine photos, I thought to myself: Kelly and I need a meeting.
But ONLY if that meeting includes wine.


I don’t know when it exactly happened, but at one point in the early 2000’s we switched from enjoying Italian Pinot Grigio to NZ Sauvignon blanc. I suppose I could go back and look at stock reports for the vineyards and see an uptick.

The wine was ONE of the allures to see NZ. Also, seeing my youngest favorite daughter.
I still can’t believe she traveled to NZ all by herself, although she does have an adventurous spirit. And had she NOT visited NZ, I never would have went there myself.

If you don’t know (because I didn’t) NZ is two islands; The North and The south Island.

We had two wine tours booked; One on the south part of the south island. The other on the north part of the south island.

FIRST WINE TOUR

While in Queenstown, (our first stop in NZ) our travel agent booked us a wine tour.
We didn’t know what to expect, other than wine tastings. We were picked up by a sweet gentleman and we were accompanied by another couple from the states. The tour was full of beautiful scenery, lovely stops to enjoy the views, learning some history of the area, some food and of course, wine.
Appellation Boutique Wine tour

The south part of the south island is known for its Pinot Noir vineyards because it is a much cooler climate than the north part of the south island. And this is where our New Zealand tour began, on the Southern part of the south island. Are we confused yet? No? but wait, there’s more.

The north part of the south island is where our beloved Sauvignon blanc is produced. That is the Marlbourough region.

We had many adventures on the south part of the south island, but this post is mainly about WINE and me typing north and south.

SECOND WINE TOUR

We thoroughly enjoyed the Sounds connection wine tour-Marlborough region; it was just a driver, Kelly, myself and a young couple from Australia who didn’t care for wine. I still can’t figure out why they did a wine tour; maybe they misread it as a Mine Tour? You know how kids are…

Spy valley was a really cool vineyard to visit; their cellar room was very modern and minimalistic. They are very close to a Spy Base that is part of the “five eyes” of intelligence alliances: the US, New Zealand, Canada, UK and Australia. Supposedly the spying is led by the US and of course, there is some disapproval around it all, but they, I need my NZ wine! Fun Fact: All bottles of Spy Valley Wine have Morse Code somewhere on them.

We really enjoyed the Framingham vineyard visit and occasionally I can find this particular wine at Total Wine and I have myself a travel flashback. (Currently, I can ALWAYS find it at Total wine and it’s high on my list!)

Cloudy bay has always been one of our favorites; Surprise Surprise, it’s also one of the most expensive. What can I say? I never had Trailer Park taste, even while I was there. Kelly actually spent a good part of her childhood in a trailer park too, so we often giggle about that and the fact that WE’RE IN NEW ZEALAND DRINKING our favorite WINE!

Lake Chalice was one of the smaller vineyards we visited in Marlborough. We were very impressed with the quality of the wine, the friendliness of the hostesses and the fact that they served us some food to go with the wine. Our other favorite thing aside from drinking NZ wine is snacking.

Pumpkin What?

While we were in NZ it was their ‘spring’ time. The weather was cool and crisp and we noticed that everywhere we ate they offered ‘pumpkin’ soup. I’m not sure if that is a year round option, or just in the cooler months but we partook several times and it was always a little different at each restaurant.

We finally asked someone and found out that it’s not always PUMPKIN even thought it’s called PUMPKIN. Sometimes it actually a variety of squash. Well played New Zealand, well played.

After 11 days of touring/driving the South Island from south to north, I was happy to drop off the rental car and to hop on a Ferry and head to the south side of the north island where Lindsay was visiting.

We had a such a great time. I would love to go back and see more of the South Island.


Soon after we arrived in Wellington we met up with Lindsay at a little restaurant for dinner and Kelly and I were….wait, what’s the word? It’s the opposite of impressed. Disappointed? Shocked? At the size of the wine glasses. So.very.petite. But at least the company was great and the wine delicious.

Ok. That was a lot of wine talk. If you don’t hear from me soon, I’ll get back to you in about 30 days.

Have any of my friends visited New Zealand? If not what is the ONE place you would like to revisit?