Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

My Top 10 of 2020

I think most people would agree that 2020 was one crap year. That being said, it wasn’t all bad, and it had some really great parts to it, too. Instead of focusing on all that 2020 took from me, I’ve decided to highlight what it gave me. Here are my top 10 in chronological order, for the most part.

New Job

The year began full of promise. I started a new role at work in January, bringing new energy to my career aspirations. Despite the challenges that transitioning to full time remote work would bring a few short weeks later, it was the best move I could have made for my career at the time. It’s been a year of learning and growth, which is all I could ask for in any year, much less a global pandemic year.

Disney Cruise from New Orleans

If you know me, you know how much I love Disney, Disney Destinations, in particular, especially Disney Cruise Line. When Disney Cruise Line announced they would begin sailing from New Orleans, we did not hesitate to book. In fact, we booked the inaugural cruise from New Orleans, which sailed in February. We had never cruised that early in the year before. The timing wasn’t our favorite. It was in the height of flu season, and we were apprehensive of traveling during flu season. Weren’t we cute? It was also colder than we prefer. We boarded the ship in long pants and heavy coats. The horror! We had previously only cruised from Port Canaveral, Florida, and it was always warm and sunny. As we prepared to set sail, we all agreed never again that early in the year.

The Disney Wonder was warmly welcomed by New Orleans, even though the temps were chilly.

As the saying goes, man plans and God laughs. It turned out to be the perfect time because if we had cruised when we usually do, it would have been cancelled. It also turned out to be a really great trip. It warmed up quite nicely as we sailed south, and it was almost perfect overall.

It was warm and sunny by the time we made it to the Southernmost Point in Key West.

A fun bonus was staying in NOLA an extra night after the cruise to go to Mardi Gras. My parents had never been before, and seeing them experience it was another highlight of the year. They really got into catching all the beads and throws. We came home with four bags full!

My parents collected quite the Mardi Gras haul!

Scottsdale, Arizona

On the heels of the cruise vacation was a long weekend girls trip to Scottsdale, AZ for a bachelorette party to celebrate a dear friend. I always try to travel to at least one place a year I’ve never been before. If it hadn’t been for this trip, I would have broken my very long streak.

We booked a house through Airbnb with a heated pool, hot tub and enough bedrooms and bathrooms for all 11 of us. We brunched, some hiked (not me), played games by the pool, partied the night away and sipped and strolled our way through the town.

Old Town Scottsdale was so much fun!

I’ll never forget the last morning. That’s when it hit me the world was about to change. We were all packing up getting ready to leave for our flights home when those of us who work for ALSAC got an email about a change in business and personal travel policies. That was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Winemaking

Pretty soon, everyone was making bread, myself included. Yeast was a hot commodity, one that was in short supply. One day, I was perusing Amazon to find yeast, and my search yielded wine yeast. What?! What in the world does one do with wine yeast? I quickly went down that rabbit hole and found out one makes wine, of course! So I made wine. I made 2 gallons of strawberry wine, 1 1/2 gallons of blueberry wine, a gallon of peach wine and a gallon of banana wine. People ask me all the time how it turned out. It’s not bad, totally drinkable. It’s just not great and not really worth the effort, if I’m being totally honest. I think it probably takes a lot of patience and practice to get a stellar result, and I don’t have that much patience. Or desire. If things take a drastic turn for the worse and there’s a booze shortage, for example, I take great comfort in knowing I got this, though.

My attempt at winemaking

Home Office

Like so many others, working from home full time meant I found myself suddenly needing a dedicated work space. I already had a built-in desk my homebuilder installed, but I quickly figured out that wasn’t suitable for full time work. Luckily, I had a spare bedroom I had barely set foot in over the last 10 years. I spent a few weeks getting it all cleaned out, getting rid of the furniture, which included my childhood bed, and a bunch of junk I had stored in there. I created a gallery wall focal point consisting of Disney prints I had collected over the years from various promotions and gifts. I made good use of Michael’s curbside pick up when I bought all the frames for it. I added a desk and fancy office chair and moved in. I was quite proud of the result.

My new Disney themed home office. Who’s surprised?

Home Bar

After I vacated the builder grade built-in desk, I decided to turn it into a home bar with a subtle tiki theme. I installed glass racks under the cabinets and moved all of my bar glassware to the cabinets and the racks. I had no idea I had that many bottles until I started pulling them out of the various places all over my house where they were stored. In keeping with the theme, I ordered a Polynesian drum table from eBay that had been used in the guest rooms at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. I decided to display the few tiki glasses I have on it. I also have a piece of art to hang between the cabinets depicting Trader Sam’s, a tiki bar at the Disneyland Hotel in California and at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort in Florida. Additionally, I’m in the process of sourcing some light sconces, which were also used in the Polynesian guest rooms. They will hang on each side of the cabinets. Covid can’t close down this bar!

The beginnings of my home bar. I just need a few more touches and drinks are on me!

My Disney Trip with Dad

You can find a detailed recap of this trip a few posts back. It was a surprise last-minute fall trip that turned out to be, quite possibly, the best gift of 2020. This time with Dad truly was a gift, one that I will forever be grateful to have received.

My trip with Dad was a gift!

eBay Fun

A side effect of the travel industry coming to a screeching halt was that it gave Disney Cruise Line and the Walt Disney World Resort time do a little (a lot of) housekeeping. They sold finishes and furnishings off by the truckloads to a few dealers who then resold to the public. The Polynesian drum table I mentioned earlier wasn’t the only treasure I found on eBay and from those dealers directly. I’m practically on a first-name basis with some of the dealers now. I bought a trunk that was used in the Disney Cruise Line staterooms, some Disney Cruise Line lampshades, the fish hooks that hang outside the stateroom doors, a pillow from Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and a few other odds and ends. I’m still searching for a few additional pieces, too.

A storage trunk that was used in the staterooms of the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy cruise ships.

One of the great things about these pieces is that none of them is “in-your-face” Disney. That means you can rest assured that I have not fallen off the deep end, and my house does not look like a Disney theme park. It’s just that now I have a few subtle pieces scattered in that are sentimental to me because of the memories made from years of family vacations to these destinations. Well, my office isn’t that subtle, but if you can’t go a little crazy with a home office, where can you go a little crazy? Amiright?

Bourbon Hunting

Winemaking may not have panned out like I planned, but fall brought a new hobby – bourbon hunting. Technically, this started about a year ago. I was sitting at a bar waiting on a to go order (foreshadowing much?). I struck up a conversation with the patrons around me as well as the bartender. I was fascinated by the topic of conversation, Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. It was in that moment I realized there was a whole world I knew nothing about. I asked a very innocent question, where do I buy this bourbon? They all laughed at me and told me if I had to ask that question, I would never be able to. I internally thought, oh H-E-double-hockey-sticks no! I made it my mission to prove them wrong, even though I’d never see any of them again to show them. No one tells me I can’t do something or can’t have something. No one!

So I went to work. I assembled a small army of people who became equally invested in this mission, and we quickly found some hot leads. One friend’s mom knew someone who worked in a liquor store in a small town who promised to hold us back a bottle when they got theirs. However, she quit that job and went to work for the county jail just a few days before that fabled shipment came. Another friend’s husband’s uncle claimed to get a bottle every year that he gives to her husband’s cousin. He said he’d give it to her this year instead. Again, the mission was thwarted by a freak thing. Apparently someone died in his home around the time the shipment would have come, and he was too distraught to follow up on the bourbon, understandably so. I really can’t make this stuff up! That’s how it goes in the world of bourbon hunting, I learned. I decided it must be an urban myth. Everyone seemed to know someone who had a bottle or had almost gotten a bottle for themselves, but no one actually had a bottle. We failed miserably!

Fast forward to the fall of 2020. I was back on the hunt again, with a much smaller and much less enthusiastic army. There were no hot leads, no someone-who-might-know-someone. There were a few random Instagram contests, but the trail was mostly cold. There was this one bourbon lottery, though, at a small liquor store. I wasn’t eligible to participate, naturally. One of my friends was, however, and she isn’t into bourbon. So one Sunday morning, I brought us cups of mimosas to drink while standing in a cold parking lot waiting for her name to be called. It was a long shot, but a long shot is still a shot. As luck would have it, her name was called right around 10th. I figured all of the Van Winkle expressions would already be gone, but when it was our turn to choose, there it was, sitting on the table in all its glory – Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year. Yes, I know it’s not Pappy, but for the sake of conversation, most of the time all of the Van Winkle expressions are collectively referred to as Pappy. That was certainly the case in the original conversation that led to this wild goose chase in the first place. Throughout all of this I’ve also learned that I actually really like bourbon.

Old Rip Van Winkle luck

Being Diagnosed with a Chronic Disease

I hesitated to add this. It’s personal and private. However, it really was one of the best things that happened to me this year. Let me explain. I have been sick for a long time, probably around 10 years. I ignored it because in my mind, if I didn’t have a diagnosis, nothing was wrong. I managed my symptoms on my own for years. I pat myself on the back for this because I did a pretty darn good job of it, too. I hid it from everyone, even my family. Last year, it got bad enough that I had a full physical. I figured if there was a problem, a physical would find it. Wrong! I got a clean bill of health, which did nothing but feed into the story I was telling myself about nothing being wrong. It got exponentially worse this year, and I could no longer control the symptoms. It was time to see a specialist. Within a day of getting a definitive diagnosis and starting medicine, I felt normal again. I didn’t even realize how sick I was until I re-learned what normal felt like. Taking ownership of my health and starting treatment has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. While I’m not jazzed to have a chronic disease, I am jazzed that I have answers and that I feel good again. I say all of this to encourage anyone dealing with nagging illness to get it checked out, even if it seems insignificant.

There are also some honorable mentions that didn’t get their own feature. I’ve loved being with my dog all day, every day. I’ve loved working from home and being able to work from my parents’ house during extended visits. I’ve really enjoyed less crowded restaurants the few times I’ve been out. Middle seats open on flights were REALLY nice! Curbside pickup needs to stay forever, as does alcohol to go from restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, though. I could easily come up with 10, 20 or 100 reasons why 2020 stunk, too. But that’s not what this is about. It’s about finding the rainbow after the rain, the silver lining, the laughter through the tears. Happy New Year, everyone!

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