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Summer Means

August 1, 2012

I’m alive! Oh, I guess you probably already guessed that by the fact that guest posts are still going up weekly. Unless you think I’m really organized and I’ve got those loaded a month in advance or something. Trust me, I’m nowhere near that organized. Monday nights usually consist of me scrambling to finish editing and loading the guest post, while Chef cooks me dinner. Tough life, I know. And don’t worry, Chef and I have a contingency plan should I die suddenly. He has the password to the blog and will make sure you all know where to send flowers. Okay, that’s morbid. But in case you are curious, I’d prefer cabbage roses and peonies. Thanks in advance.

As you can probably guess by my lack of posts, things have been pretty crazy lately. For most of this summer, I’ve been traveling to Mississippi for work every week. I’m doing some pretty interesting and inspirational work, but I gotta tell you, it gets exhausting traveling so much. A few good things have come out of my trips to Mississippi, though:

  • I’ve finally reached a “status” with frequent flyer miles. The best perk that comes with my status is that Delta automatically upgrades my seat if there are open seats in first class. Before this, I’d never even imagined flying in first class. I just looked enviously at all the first-classers as I trudged my way to the back of the plane. Now, I get to be a first-classer about half of the time! I still get stupid excited – it never gets old.
  • I can now successfully spell “Mississippi” without spelling it aloud in a child’s sing-song voice: Miss – iss –ipp-i!
  • I have established two theme songs for my travel: Mississippi by JJ Grey & Mofro and Jackson by Johnny Cash
  • I watched The Help the other day and felt like I had some insider knowledge on Mississippi.
  • I discovered Bop’s Frozen Custard. My love for ice cream is well documented on this blog, and I have to admit to being pretty picky when it comes to the frozen stuff. So when a coworker told me I must try Bop’s Frozen Custard in Jackson, Mississippi, I didn’t have high expectations. I was incredibly wrong. Bop’s became my Friday treat every week in Mississippi.
Bop's Frozen Custard Jackson MS

Bop’s is a drive through restaurant. I eat in my rental car. I refuse to feel guilty for the calories or the potential for making a mess.

Menu at Bop's Frozen Custard

Here’s the menu

Hamburger from Bop's

Is this not the most beautiful fast food hamburger you’ve ever seen?

Bop's Frozen Custard

Now this is what I came here for. Bop’s Frozen Custard has now entered my top five favorite ice creams.

  • I’ve learned about all there is to know about the Atlanta airport (where I always have a layover), including the best concourses for shopping, eating and purchasing illegal cupcakes.

Okay, let me stop there and tell you the cupcake story. Illegal cupcakes, you ask? Sounds intriguing, I know. Well the other day, I was in the bathroom in the Atlanta airport when I overheard a conversation:

“We could do a yellow cake with strawberry frosting. Or do you like cookies and cream better? How many people are you expecting?” a woman asked.

Another woman’s voice replied, “About 10. I’m thinking a small round cake would be perfect. Do you make carrot cake?” The women continued to talk about cake flavors, frostings, serving sizes and decorations.

When I walked out of the stall, I realized it was the bathroom cleaning lady talking to another woman.

“Ya’ll better stop, you are making me hungry,” I said to the women.

In one swift motion, the cleaning lady lifted the fabric on her pushcart to reveal dozens of beautiful cupcakes. “Two for $3,” she announced.

I weighed the pros and cons. Here were some delicious looking cupcakes, but who buys cupcakes from a cleaning lady in an airport bathroom? What if they are poisoned? Or worse – what if they are gross and I just blew $3? What will my friends and family think about me if I buy baked goods next to a toilet stall?

Despite all my doubts, I found myself paying the lady and walking out of the bathroom, two beautiful cupcakes in one hand and the woman’s business card in my other. (The business card was a nice touch – it not only gave me a way to find her later, it helped me justify eating cupcakes bought out of the bathroom. If she intended to poison me, she wouldn’t leave a calling card behind, would she?)

Of course, now I needed a drink to go with my cupcakes. I went to this little kiosk to purchase water, and the cashier eyed my cupcakes enviously. So, I offered her one. I didn’t tell her they were from the ladies room in the next concourse. Whoops.

I sat down with my single remaining cupcake and started to remove the wrapper when it hit me. This cupcake was red velvet. Biggest fail ever. I hate red velvet cake. I hate that it’s just weak chocolate dyed red. I hate that it always has that cream cheese frosting that never tastes sweet enough to me. It just tastes like cream cheese, and if I wanted cream cheese, I would eat a bagel.

Anticipating a total fail, I bit into the cupcake. And because I’m a relationship blogger and not a food blogger, I’m probably not going to do it justice when I tell you how it tasted. There were these little chocolate chips in the cake, which made for a bit of a crunchy texture, the frosting was divine, the cake was moist and the cake-to-frosting ratio was perfect.

This was the cupcake of my dreams. I wanted to run and snatch the one I had just given to the cashier back. What was I thinking being so generous?

I tweeted:

This encouraged all kinds of conversation – including a brainstorm to determine what one would name a cupcake bought in the bathroom. The leading contender was Potty Cakes.

And then, I received this tweet from the Atlanta Airport’s official Twitter account:

I laughed so hard upon reading this tweet that I had tears in my eyes. Not only had I just devoured a cupcake sold to me by a stranger in a public restroom, I was being called out by the Atlanta airport. Good use of social media on their part, though! (Fingers crossed they didn’t try and track down the cupcake cleaning lady and get her in trouble!)

I’m looking forward to pre-ordering cupcakes the next time I fly through Atlanta. Anyone want to place an order?

The past few weeks, I haven’t had to go to Mississippi and I’ve stayed in Richmond. You would think I would write a blog post then, but I’m just too busy enjoying summer. I love the hell out of summer. It’s my absolute favorite season. I used to hate summer. Summer meant wearing swimsuits in front of the whole damn world, sweating and time off of school. You see, I was a dork and liked school so I missed it in the summer. It’s funny how my perspective on summer has changed since I was kid.

Now, summer means strawberry picking with Chef.

strawberry picking

We picked so many strawberries that we made two batches of strawberry ice cream.

making strawberry ice cream

Here’s the ice cream in the works.

And Chef made eight jars of strawberry jam after I challenged him that he didn’t know how to make jam. (I was wrong.)

homemade strawberry jam

Chef did a really good job making this jam. I probably shouldn’t have doubted him.

Summer means wine festivals.

And attending weird random activities like pig races.

pig race board

Here are our contestants! I particularly like the name Tipsy Tiffany.

pig racing

On your mark, get set, GO!

pig racing

The white pig takes the lead!

pig racing

But the black pig is trying to take advantage of this turn.

pig racing

We’re in the home stretch!

pig racing

I’m pretty sure the black one won it all. I was laughing too hard to really tell. Am I seriously at a pig race?!

pigs eating

At the end of the day, they are all winners. Here’s their prize at the end of the race.

This summer Chef and I took our first vacation together since we’ve been dating. We went to the lake.

Lake Gaston North Carolina water

This is the view from my mom’s lake place. Not only am I fortunate enough to go here during vacation, but I can go most any weekend I want. #solucky

And the beach.

Nag's Head NC

Just one of my many shots of the beach in Nag’s Head. I wish I were there right now.

He cooked fantastic meals for me almost every night of our vacation.

cooking on a grill

Here’s Chef grilling some chicken and vegetables one night. PS, he was very proud of this shirt. It just screams vacation … or tourist …

Summer means eating ice cream out of a cone, fighting the constant battle of the ice cream melting and getting all over your hands. It’s a worthy pursuit, though.

eating ice cream

Um, the ice cream looks about the size of my head.

Summer means snacking on the beach. Kettle corn is my favorite beach snack. If you drive to Nag’s Head, you can buy this unreasonably priced and delicious kettle corn from Powell’s.

kettle corn Nag's head

Long days spent by my apartment pool with a mimosa, a fun companion and the latest beach read round out my summer.

apartment pool

Words cannot express how much I love my community pool.

This summer is a summer like no other. It’s the summer my sister Natasha has her baby. Her due date was yesterday, and I can’t wait to meet the new member of my family. My bag is packed and I’m ready for the call to the hospital!

pregnant woman

Zachary will be coming out any day!

This summer I just started looking for a townhouse or a condo to purchase. My apartment lease is up in January, and if I can find something I like, I think I’m finally ready to buy. When I was with my ex fiancé, he said we needed to pay off his house before we bought anything together. So I waited. Then when we canceled the wedding, I considered buying a condo. But I wasn’t ready for such a big decision after the heartbreak. So I waited some more. Then I thought, well maybe I should wait until I have a fiancé or a husband to buy a place with, and I signed a new apartment lease. I decided the other day I’m tired of waiting. I shouldn’t have to wait for a man to help me buy a home. If I want to buy a home, if I can afford to buy a home, I don’t need a man to make it OK for me to do exactly what I want to do.

So I hope you’ll forgive me if I’m writing a bit less this summer. I will write when I have time, when I have inspiration, when I am not feeling lazy, when I have something really important to share, when it is rainy out and I can’t go to the pool. I will write when it feels good and makes my stomach feel warm, my fingers tingle and I can’t wait to see your comments back. I will write when it doesn’t feel like just another thing on the ever growing to do list, when it doesn’t feel like a chore. Writing this post felt great, so we’re off to a good start.

Tell me, what does summer mean to you? Any tips for getting over a writer’s rut? Would you eat a cupcake bought out of an airport bathroom?

Copyright 2012. Simply Solo blog by Catherine Gryp. All Rights Reserved.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. August 2, 2012 11:00 am

    I now want to fly South just for Bop’s and cupcakes. I’m glad you’re enjoying your summer!

    • August 2, 2012 10:58 pm

      Hell, I’m thinking of starting a Bop’s franchise at home. SO GOOD! Hope you are having a good summer too – I must catch up on your blog ASAP!

  2. August 2, 2012 11:46 am

    That jam was soooo good!! Now I miss the beach too. And your cupcake story is the funniest thing I have ever read. You definitely got that lady twitter-fired though. Who doesn’t just love red velvet cake? It’s so divine, yet devilish, yet delicious.

    Glad to see you writing again! You are so funny.

    • August 2, 2012 10:57 pm

      I did NOT get her fired. I hope and pray I didn’t, anyway. LOL. If I find out she’s fired I’m going to launch some sort of social media campaign to save her job. What ya think about that?
      Thanks for commenting and saying I’m funny. You are pretty funny too 🙂

  3. August 2, 2012 11:54 am

    From someone who used to work in the aviation industry, I find this to be the BEST airport story EVER. I couldn’t stop laughing and had to send to my aviation friends!

    • August 2, 2012 10:55 pm

      LOL, thanks Pammy! Glad you enjoyed it. I figure you saw a lot of crazy stuff when you worked in the aviation industry! I would love to hear some of your stories too! Airports are a very strange place. When you travel infrequently, you don’t pay much attention. But then when you travel more regularly, you see the same people, you notice more, it’s like a living and breathing organism. I didn’t notice too much at airports, but now I’m just looking around, observing. If it means I find stuff like delicious cupcakes in the bathroom, I think it’s a damn good thing!

  4. Natasha permalink
    August 2, 2012 12:02 pm

    I’m sure Zachary will still be in my belly next summer too, lol! He’s NEVER coming out! This has been a pretty great summer … Chef’s jam was sooooooo good… I even shared some of it today with a coworker… gotta tell you, that pained me. I only have a wee bit left! And your community pool is to die for. When you move out, I still plan on using it 🙂 haha!

    • August 2, 2012 10:53 pm

      It is tough to give away the jam because you know that you won’t get it for at least another year! I would say you are quite generous. I was telling Chef we should keep it all for ourselves. haha. The pool just added a pass code to get in that they are going to change regularly. #FAIL. 🙂

      Zachary is going to come any minute. He’s gonna love the hell out of his Aunt Catherine!! I can teach him about credit. LOL

  5. Melanie permalink
    August 2, 2012 12:59 pm

    I’ve told Tom several times this summer that this has felt like more of a summer than any other summer recently. Floating in the pool, wearing flowy sundresses, walking the puppies late at night even though it’s still 80 or 90 degrees. It all makes it really feel like summer.

    As far as the bathroom cupcakes, right now I would say no, I wouldn’t eat them. But ask me later this evening when I’m craving something sweet and I’m pretty sure I would answer differently.

    I’m glad you’re having a fabulous summer too! 🙂

    PS – Do you ever watch Cupcake Wars? That show makes me so hungry.

    • August 2, 2012 10:51 pm

      What is it about this summer? I’ve heard other people say the same thing too. It just really and truly feels like pure summer. We are halfway through and I’m already getting nervous about Labor Day quickly approaching. We just need to enjoy every single second.
      I have watched Cupcake Wars – like once. I had to cut myself off of the Food Network because it gave me too many cravings, yet I never cook. It’s not a good spot for me to be in. LOL 🙂
      Happy summer! Let’s hang out soon!

  6. August 2, 2012 1:42 pm

    I would totally buy cupcakes from them. I wish I’d know this when I’d a layover in Atlanta in April. I did find it one of the friendliest airports I’d ever been to though (and one of the most interesting!) I was searching for almond Snickers for my brother and peanut butter M&Ms for me because we don’t have them over here and the staff in one kiosk phoned another one to check that they had them for me! I came home to a happy brother 🙂

    • August 2, 2012 10:48 pm

      Ha! Now that’s customer service! And I’m really glad someone finally said they’d buy the cupcake too. You are the first lol!!

  7. August 2, 2012 1:53 pm

    Illegal cupcakes from a bathroom cleaning lady? You just can’t make this sh*t up! Love it…but you SO should have snapped an iPhone pic of the cart. Perhaps next time if you totally didn’t get her busted. 😉

    I’m thrilled you’re having a great summer. There’s nothing better than NOT blogging because you’re too busy having fun with pigs and whatnot. We forgive you.

    And as for the writer’s rut: I used to teach college journalism classes, and I’d have my students brainstorm by opening a Word doc, turning off the computer screen then typing whatever comes to mind. Interesting how our brain opens up when we’re not filtering ourselves! But the key to this activity, please keep in mind, is making sure your fingers are on the right keys. Because NOTHING good comes of the exercise if you’re not on your home keys…

    • August 2, 2012 10:47 pm

      I WISH I’d taken a picture! It was a wonder to be seen. I really hope I didn’t get her fired. The cookies and cream cupcake she was talking about sounded heavenly…
      That’s a good activity. Thank you for sharing. I’ll try that sometime!
      Congrats on your big news by the way 🙂 Really happy for you. I’m hoping I’ll get there someday too. Scary stuff, eh?

  8. August 2, 2012 7:28 pm

    So glad you’ve finally written something! I wasn’t such a fan of the last few guest posts I’m afraid. But it’s good to see you’ve been well, and the house news is really exciting! Waiting to buy with a partner is absurd, I’m glad you’re doing it for yourself. 🙂

    • August 2, 2012 10:45 pm

      Thanks!! Yeah it’s exciting and scary at the same time! Luckily, I’ve been thinking about it for a really long time, so I’m getting used to the idea :). I’m glad I wrote something too. Not writing started to become sort of a self-fullfilling prophecy. Nice to chat with you – how are things going for you? I need to catch up on your site 🙂

  9. Amanda permalink
    August 2, 2012 7:40 pm

    That airport story is hilarious!!! You get major points for being brave enough to sample her goods because I cannot comprehend buying food in a bathroom! You sound very happy in this post, it’s all in your tone. Hope it’s a summer to remember! 🙂

    • August 2, 2012 10:43 pm

      Well, you underestimate my love of sweets. And the boredom I feel when I have a layover at Atlanta. LOL. Your comment made me grin from ear to ear. I am really happy. Happier than I’ve been in years. It’s a little scary to declare it, or own it, because it may go away. But I want to enjoy it. Cheers to summer and hope you enjoy it too! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  10. August 3, 2012 10:10 pm

    Nice to see you’re alive and well (and looking good, to boot)! I love red velvet cupcakes – weak chocolate, my ass! Red velvet is divine!! Can’t say I’d ever be brave enough to purchase it from a restroom, however…

    • September 13, 2012 9:56 pm

      Thanks Mark! Don’t know how but I missed this comment. This experience changed my whole mind about red velvet cake for sure! I think you are brave enough for potty cakes though, I bet you’d do it 🙂

  11. August 4, 2012 9:05 pm

    Missed you! This post is so random, but I love it. 🙂

    • September 13, 2012 9:57 pm

      Hehe, thank you. Sorry somehow I’m just catching up (a month later) on comments from this post. Please. Come. Visit. Soon! 🙂

  12. sakurasunny permalink
    August 9, 2012 1:11 pm

    Hi Catherine!! I don’t leave comments too often (in fact I have left one only once sometime last year…) but I do come here frequently and I really love it when it’s your post that’s newly up (not that I don’t enjoy those guest posts though! :)).

    “I don’t need a man to make it OK for me to do exactly what I want to do” – this summer has been exactly that for me. I decided to stop wishing or waiting for a man would do this or be that for me, and started to do things I want to do. And it feels great!! I’ve been traveling to wherever I want to (Miami Beach, I love you :)), started to do lap swim after years of hiatus, bought a hiking map so I can go hiking anytime I want to, and now going to a 10-day meditation retreat (and “the man” I used to wait/wish around was really shocked to hear I’m going, lol!). I’m not there yet to do anything as major as buying a car or a house, but interestingly enough, just when I was enjoying doing all these things without waiting for someone’s approval, I got a major promotion at work!! 🙂 So who knows, I may be doing something big a lot sooner than I could imagine right now.

    And I’m so happy for you – you truly rock and it is inspiring. Look forward to your next post and beyond!! 🙂

    • September 13, 2012 9:59 pm

      I’m sorry I missed your comment earlier. I think everything you are doing sounds amazing! I think the best thing is that sometimes when you are alone, you are able to do whatever it is you want. That allows you to find passions and interests you would never have known of if you were just waiting for someone else. And I don’t think everyone needs to do things like buy a car or buy a house. I think it’s all about doing the things that fulfill you and make you happy. With or without a partner 🙂

  13. August 10, 2012 7:08 am

    I can’t believe I did tell you this. A friend and I are on the search for the best ice cream/custard/gelato place in KC. We usually go out for coffee twice a month but with her being pregnant she suggested a new routine.

    I almost want to go to the Atlanta airport just so I can track down those cupcakes and then say something like, “Currently eating a “Urinal Cake” I bought in the men’s room. Better than McDonalds.”

    Your summer certainly sounds like one heck of a good time. Plus, friggin’ strawberries.

    • September 13, 2012 10:00 pm

      I love searching for the best ice cream in each city! People have such strong opinions when it comes to frozen desserts! Keep me updated when you find it 🙂
      And please let me know when you go to Atlanta… you seriously have to eat these cupcakes. Even if they are from the bathroom 🙂

  14. August 16, 2012 9:25 am

    Oh, dear! That must be fun. It is winter in my city now, but it´s so warm I wish so much I could de swimming this very moment! I even downloaded a beach pictures as screen saver.

    • September 13, 2012 10:01 pm

      Sorry I missed your comment earlier! Hope winter goes quickly and summer is here for you soon! We’re heading into fall now… not excited. LOL 🙂

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