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Archive for the year 2022

Holiday Gatherings with My Favorite Ladies

Posted on December 19, 2022 by under Events.    

I love this time of year because it’s the one time that I can get together with friends who I normally wouldn’t be able to catch up with throughout the year because of our busy lives. Some ladies I see at league or in our other play groups but others are on different schedules and so we don’t get to see much of one another throughout the year. I wholeheartedly appreciate these gatherings that bring everyone together to celebrate our friendship.

Holiday celebrations began two weeks ago with our “Second Annual Happy Hollitini Social,” organized by Debbie Fanning. Last year we had it at Todd Brian’s. This year Debbie picked Rain. I think because the girls love to karaoke and it’s just a super fun place to be. I enjoy the food there so I was all for it. Thankfully, I was able to get my Aqua Zumba class covered so I could join the celebration. Here’s a video I put together from that super fun night.

Here’s a fun group pic from that night:

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These ladies fill my heart with so much joy!

The next night, a bunch of us were at Cindy Egan’s for some holiday fun and games. Here’s a group photo from that night:

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Our fabulous host, Cindy, made some delicious, festive treats for everyone to enjoy.

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Celebrations continued this past weekend when I met my Kansas City besties for lunch at Ocean Prime. I met Molly Brave (then Williams), Joy Jackson, and Mary Ann Steinlicht while on a work project a few years ago and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. The three of them have even taken one of my Zumba classes!

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I feel so grateful to be able to take the day off work and join these ladies for lunch. It was totally worth the three-hour drive.

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Our lunch at Ocean Prime was amazing. Brian and I haven’t made a trip to KC together in a while but I’m totally thinking it might be time for a weekend getaway so he can try this new restaurant.

I am so grateful and blessed to have all these amazing women in my life. And I am equally grateful for the opportunity to spend time with them this holiday season to celebrate our friendship. Until next time, GNG.

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Caribbean Jack’s Restaurant & Bar

Posted on December 14, 2022 by under Food and Drink, Travel.    

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Caribbean Jack’s was my favorite meal in Daytona. Kumar arrived at the restaurant first and had ordered nachos as a starter. These Caribbean nachos were a unique twist on nachos. They were sweet and different. And, they also had chunks of mangoes which I loved. I really enjoyed the flavor of it.

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Also, the place is super cute and they even have a little gift shop of Caribbean Jack’s swag inside the restaurant. Look behind Ryan in the below pic.

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These are the alligator bites which tasted like chicken. I feel like, since everything pretty much tastes like chicken, how do we even know we are eating the real thing? They could serve us chicken nuggets and call it just about any animal. LOL.

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Here are pictures of the rest of the food…

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Ryan and I got the same thing (seafood bake), except I got double rice instead of the broccoli (because I love rice — any kind of rice — and can’t get enough of it).

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He’s a picture of our group (same group that at the Grind Gastropub the night before). Clockwise from middle: Kendra, Ryan, Ramon, Brian, me, and Kumar.

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One of my favorite parts of the restaurant is the dock out back and also the live music on the dock. We went out there briefly to check it out.

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They were playing really fun music and at one point were playing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper (video linked below). Of course, the young ones in our group had no idea who she was.

While we are on the topic of Cyndi Lauper, I thought I would share my favorite song by her. I love this song and the message it conveys. The song was revived by the movie Trolls, which I also loved.

Anyway, I guess that’s all for now. Until next time, GNG.

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Java Junction Helped Brian Function

Posted on December 13, 2022 by under Travel.    

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I rhymed! LOL. Our proximity to Java Junction was the one good thing about our rental in Florida. We had to stop here every morning because – Brian. He cannot function without coffee.

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Our original rental was only a six minute walk to Pictona but would have been a drive to the coffee shop. It ended up getting damaged during the last hurricane that came through the area so we had to scramble and find another place. We ended up staying at this rental, further away from the tournament venue (about 15-20 minutes walk) but much closer to the coffee shop (about 8 minutes). In the long run, it worked out better for us because then it kept Brian from being in a murderous rage in the mornings.

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Kendra and I had an 8 AM start on the first day so the guys just dropped us off and then went to the coffee shop on their own and then came back after so I didn’t get to see the place until the next day when all of us went before going to the tournament venue. That’s when I took all these photos, including the one below.

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On the third day, we dropped Ramon off at the tournament. It was men’s doubles day and he was playing in 4.5 35+ division with our friend Jason Doll. After dropping Ramon off, we went to grab breakfast and coffee at Brian’s favorite place before dropping Kendra and Ryan off at the airport to pick up their rental car. They were spending the day at Disney in Orlando.

Ramon also took off for Orlando later that day because he was flying home the next morning. That meant, Brian and I didn’t have anyone to hitch a ride from anymore so we were back to our Ubering ways. Luckily, the coffee place is super close and an easy walk from our rental. I actually did a timelapse video of our walk that morning.

The coffee shop is in the opposite direction of the venue but I didn’t have to play until 2 PM that day so it actually worked great. We went for breakfast and then came back to the house to chill for a bit before going to the tournament in the afternoon. The walk to the tournament was about 15-20 minutes but the weather was beautiful and it kind of worked as a nice warmup for me. Our plan to just Uber back at the end of the day, when I was all pooped from playing singles.

That Sunday turned out to be weird. Ryan and Kendra missed their flight home and, after being on standby at the airport most of the day, the airport attendant finally told them they weren’t getting out and put them on a flight the next morning so they ended up coming back and hanging out at the tournament with us. My singles event lasted until almost 7 PM. I felt bad that they missed their flight but it was nice to have friends their to watch and cheer as I played (Brian isn’t really as enthused and is not a good cheerer; but he was super awesome get filming all my matches this time, though) and we ended up having a ride back to the house instead of having to Uber or walk. Kendra and Ryan crashed with us (our rental had a second bedroom which was convenient) that night and left early the next morning.

Someone at the tournament made a comment that it was super nice of our friends to stay and watch me play, like it was by choice. Had they not missed their flight, they wouldn’t have been there. LOL.

The two of them left super early the next morning because they didn’t want to risk missing their flight again. They flew out of Orlando so it’s a much busier airport. Brian and I slept in a little on Monday because we were flying out of Daytona Beach, a much smaller regional airport, and our flight wasn’t until after noon. We actually went to Java Junction one last time on departure day. Brian was literally there every single day of our stay. No joke!

I am grateful that the coffee shop was there and so close to our place too because Brian liked their coffee and he would not have survived the week otherwise. LOL. Until next time, GNG.

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Grind Gastropub & Kona Tiki Bar

Posted on December 13, 2022 by under Food and Drink, Travel.    

We ended up going to Grind Gastropub & Kona Tiki Bar at the recommendation of our server the previous night at Hull’s Seafood. Also, it had a fun name so I figured it must be good.

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The restaurant is located off Granada in Ormond Beach, which is pretty much where all the good restaurants are located. Per our first Uber driver, there’s absolutely nothing good in Holly Hill (or Holy Hell as the locals call it).

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The restaurant has a hip interior and cool vibe. Except I found the music too loud for my liking. I could barely hear the people across the table from me.

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Kumar Krishnan joined us for dinner so it was (clockwise from left) Kumar, Ramon, Ryan, Kendra, me, and Brian at dinner that night.

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Here are some pictures of our food, which was actually pretty good.

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Brian and I split chicken skewers and a sandwich for our meal.

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Kumar ordered the bread pudding to share (thus, all the spoons in this pic). It was really good. I feel like there are two kinds of people in this world — those who like bread pudding and those who hate moist bread and don’t like it. I am definitely #teambreadpudding. LOL.

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Ramon had not had bread pudding before so we opened up his world to a whole new area of culinary delight. Kumar spoke of this place in Bartlesville that has great bread pudding. Ramon has never played in the Bartlesville tournament before so I think we might finally have him convinced. Play in the tournament and then enjoy some delicious bread pudding to celebrate your success after. We are hatching us a plan. Until next time, GNG!

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2022 Diamond Amateur Championships

Posted on December 12, 2022 by under Pickleball, Travel.    

Earlier this month Brian and I traveled to Florida so I could compete in the first ever Diamond Amateur Championships. I qualified to compete when I won triple gold earlier this year at the Middle States Diamond Regional tournament in St. Louis. This was our first time at Pictona in Holly Hill, FL. The facility is amazing! They have 49 dedicated pickleball courts in one location, with 13 of them covered, and one being a championship court with stadium seating.

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My competition dates were December 1, 2, and 4 and so Brian and I traveled there on November 30 and traveled home on December 5. Brian originally found a cute one bedroom and one bath rental that was directly across the street from the venue and would only be a six-minute walk. However, a week before we were to arrive, we found out that the property incurred some hurricane damage and we could not stay there so we had to scramble and quickly find another place. The new place we found was about 15-20 minutes walk to Pictona. It’s close to the venue but quite a longer ways to walk. Thankfully, Ramon had a rental car. He stayed with Ryan and Kendra at a rental about 2 minutes car ride from our place so we all carpooled each morning while they were there.

Our rental check-in was originally 3:00 PM but we landed in Daytona around 11-ish. I reached out to the host and she said the earliest we could get in would be 1:30 PM so Brian and I decided to go straight to the venue from the airport. I dropped Brian off the Kitchen to have lunch and then went roaming around hoping to find some people I recognized.

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As luck would have it, I ran into Jill Blessinger, Jill Thyr, and Kim Stevenson, and they didn’t have a fourth. I think their fourth player was on the way but, as she was there yet, I got to play with them in her place. I met Jill B earlier this year at Marco Island when I went to open play with Joe and Cindy Witte when we were all there for the US Open. It was my first time meeting the other Jill but I had seen Kim at other tournaments before. Anyway, I was so happy to be able to play a little. I mean, I love food just as much as the next person but pickleball > food. Actually, there’s not much in this world higher than pickleball on my list currently. In fact, pickleball > sex these days. And we all know how much I love sex.

Around 1:15 PM, I went back to check on Brian who was feeling much better having eaten lunch. We checked in to our Airbnb and then took a nap (because we were up super early that morning for our 5:00 AM flight). It worked out because it actually rained in the afternoon so I couldn’t play anyway. Then, when Ramon arrived (he actually arrived a day earlier than I expected because I didn’t think he was going to come out until Thursday), the three of us went to dinner at Hull’s Seafood and hung out before Ramon had to drive to the airport to pick up Ryan and Kendra.

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The next day was women’s doubles day. Kendra, though she isn’t particularly fond of pink, was a good sport and wore the neon pink Lucky in Love outfits that I picked out for us. I thought it was fitting because the color is perfect for Florida sunshine.

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Thursday was fantastic. It was great having our friends there to watch and cheer. Kendra and I won our pool and advanced to the playoffs and then, eventually, to the championship. Brian got all of our matches on video and they’re posted here.

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Photographer Toni Bocz got a ton of great pics and they’re posted here.

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Kendra and I ended up taking finishing first overall and first in our age group, punching our ticket to 2023 USA Pickleball National Championships.

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Friday was mixed doubles day. Ryan and Kendra had an 8:00 AM start so we all decided to carpool. Ramon and I didn’t have to play until later in the day but we wanted to be there to cheer them on.

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Ramon and I played in 3.5 35+ but the teams had much higher DUPRs than that. We actually looked everyone up leading to the tournament just to see how we stood. Ramon and I had the third highest DUPR of our division so, while I liked our odds, I knew that it would be a competitive field because there were two other teams higher than us. To top it off, we had the three teams with the highest DUPRs in our pool. I was relieved to make it to the playoffs.

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We ended up re-matching the one team that we lost to in our pool and, though we got really close this time around, they still beat us. So we finished in second place. No ticket to Nationals for us but there’s still plenty of chances throughout the coming year to earn a spot.

Saturday was men’s doubles day so I had a break but Brian and I spent most of the day at the tournament live streaming our friends’ matches. Ramon and Jason ended up in 4th place in 4.5 35+ and then Mike and Dave went completely undefeated in their division, 4.5 55+. Videos of all their matches are available here.

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On Sunday, I fought off minor period cramps and ended third place overall in women’s singles 3.0 19+ 35+ and earned gold in my age group. That’s my second golden ticket so I already have a spot in two events at Nationals. I just need to earn my mixed doubles spot. You can see the full results of the Diamond Amateur Championships here.

This was one of the best, most organized, well-run tournaments I’d ever participated in. I had a ton of fun competing, meeting people, making new friends, and hanging out with my pickleball pals. I am so glad that I got to be there for the first one and that I brought back three medals. And, that I have Nationals to look forward to next year. I originally thought this would be my last pickleball event this year but I’ve got two more (a team event in Kansas City and a team event at the Pickle Club) local ones to cap off the year. I just love having these tournaments and events to look forward to. I’m already thinking of which ones (besides Nationals) to hit next year. Until then, GNG.

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