Thursday, April 12, 2012

The 2nd Date - Mauren & Danny

First off, let me say that the extreme delay in me posting the report on my second date should in NO WAY be considered a reflection of how it went because I honestly had a FANTASTIC time. Seriously, I have nothing negative to report about it. I mean, let’s be honest, even if I did, you wouldn’t find it here anyway, but I don’t, so it’s a moot point. :)

You’ll notice that this is an EXTRA LONG post with lots of pictures, so hopefully you’ll find it was worth the wait!

For the second date votes, I actually had a tie between Danny (handgun shooting range date) and Justin (Chocolate Bar date). Both of them are fantastic guys though so I knew I’d be in for a great time either way!

Because I had to make a decision though, I chose to ask Danny about going out a second time and he gladly accepted the challenge…er, opportunity.

On a previous occasion, one of my good friends, Charlie (pictured here at her wedding last weekend!), had prepared a photo scavenger hunt for me and another date that we didn’t get to do, but I was so excited about it that I hoped Danny would be up for participating…and he was! He’d never done a photo scavenger hunt and was excited about the adventure. Yeah!

Now I have to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of this scavenger hunt date with Danny. I had briefly read through the items on the list from the last time I was hoping to do it, but I wasn’t really sure how Danny would take some of the goofy requests on the list.

I was pleasantly surprised though at the personality I saw come out in him throughout the evening! He really got into it and we had a BLAST! Thank you Charlie for taking the time to come up with the contents of the hunt!! Changed my view.

We met at The Woodlands Mall after work and started out by reading through the message from Charlie and the tasks at hand:

Looks exciting, right?? I was stoked!

Ok, before we get started on how the date went, let me say this. Part of my delay in doing this post has been deciding how to do so and what order to present the information in since for some of the items we took multiple pictures at various locations. That being said, I’ve decided to report on the items above in as much of a chronological order as possible, but bear with me.

Pose with a mannequin
As we stood reading through the rules and the list of items, we saw these kids posing with some mannequins in a display window.

It was almost like they were doing the same scavenger hunt we were! I mean how often do you see people do that in the mall and as soon as we start our hunt, we came across them. Unfortunately I didn’t get my camera out in time though to capture the pose they made for their mom’s picture, but suffice it to say, it was entertaining. :)

Actually, if we thought we could have gotten away with the same thing, we just might have done it, too! The first mannequin picture we took was this one.

This was also the first picture of the night. But about an hour or so in we came across a few others which is when I really started to see Danny’s personality come out and I loved it! These were even his ideas!

Take a picture with a live animal
After the first mannequin picture we found ourselves standing near Pet Fair. What better store in the mall to find a live animal??

It being near Easter, we walked in to immediately find relatives of the Cadbury Bunny and a plethora of colored chicks out in the open. We could have easily and quickly snapped a picture with them for our hunt, but instead we chose to look around. For those of you who read about my first date with Danny you know that we share a mutual love of dogs and it was evident when we were both immediately attracted to them as we entered the store.

I think Danny noticed me basically gawking over how adorable some of the puppies were and asked if I wanted to hold one. Um, yes please!! I selected a small Yorkie who looked ready to play but both of his cage-mates had just settled in for a nap. He looked ready to get out and run around so I was happy to oblige.

Danny kindly found a store attendant to ask if I could hold the little rascal and we headed over to the play area to meet him. He was so precious and cuddly!

The lady who helped us (see the pink shirt, didn’t catch her name!) spent time telling us about the dog and some of the other breeds they had at the store, including a Toi Leo (pronounced Toy Leo), which is a mix between a Pomeranian and a Maltese. Check out this hairdo!

She brought out the brother and sister pair to play and though I didn’t capture the side of the dog to show off the tail, their hair is typically groomed to look like a lion. See pictures of others online here and here. They’re not very common dogs and I think they’re a fairly new breed, but when they’re properly trimmed, they’re adorable and super soft.

After spending about 40 minutes or more playing with the dogs, we decided it was time to move on. But it took everything in me to not come home with that 2-month-old Yorkie. Seriously, it’s amazing how you can fall for an animal in such a short amount of time. :)

Take a picture with someone in the Military
As we left the pet store, Danny spotted a man in his Army attire waiting with his kids near the elevator. It’s a good thing he saw him, too, because we didn’t come across any other options the rest of the night! I quickly ran up to him, explained our situation and asked if I could snap a quick picture with him. He obliged and we thanked him for her service before heading off to the next list item.

Side note: I always love the opportunity to thank members of the military for their service and it’s significantly easier to spot them when they’re in uniform. It’s a really cool experience so if you’ve never done it before, give it a try. I’m sure they appreciate hearing it from the people whose freedoms they work to protect on a regular basis. 

Take a food sample from every restaurant that is sampling in the food court
Since we were nearing the food court, Danny and I decided to hit it up and see if we could reach the seemingly lofty goal of 5 that Charlie had set for us. Little did we know getting that many would be a piece of cake…though we didn’t find any of that particular item to sample…

Anyway, here are our pictures. Restaurants included Great Wraps Café (wrap and smoothie), Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen, a Chinese place, Hawaiian Grill, Famous Cajun Grill and Chickfila.

I may have missed others but we got a picture of the food from each place. My favorite picture though is the one of Danny with the sample lady giving a nasty look into the camera. Hahaha! She was kind of rude to us, too, until we explained what we were doing and then she felt bad about the look she gave us, but it was too funny not to post. :)

True to their pleasant nature though, the Sydney at Chickfila was happy to participate when I asked if she’d join me in the shot.

Who knew the food court had so much free food to offer there!

Take a picture of a ride (carousel, slide, etc.)
While in the food court we made a quick pit stop at the kiddie rides and let me just tell you, they’re called kiddie rides for a reason – they’re tiny! We about had to break our legs to find any that would work, but in the end, Danny squeezed into a car and I squished a poor pony. Funny how those rides used to seem bigger…

Get a stranger's autograph and a piece of advice
After robbing the food court of all its free samples and child-sized entertainment, we began wandering the other end of the mall to mark off some of the remaining items on our list. As we stood reviewing the list, I noticed a sales person at a nearby candle store that looked bored behind the counter. With no one in the store she seemed like the perfect candidate for our “stranger” challenge!

We briefly explained what we were doing and asked for some advice. Apparently we explained it too briefly because she thought we were competing against other couples, but the advice was still relevant I suppose considering the fact that there was voting involved with this project, right?? Hopefully the video works and you can see it, but you’ll notice we got her John Hancock on our scavenger hunt list, too.

Find someone with a Texas T-shirt
Finding someone with a Texas t-shirt was a little harder than we expected. Sure we found plenty of people clad in the burnt orange of UT (which could have technically counted since it didn’t specify the State of Texas), but Danny went to Texas A&M so…it just didn’t seem right to snap one of those and call it good. I mean, it’s not like the school needs the additional publicity, right? :)

So instead we headed towards Y’alls Texas Store to see if maybe one of the employees was wearing a Texas shirt. To our utter dismay though, that wasn’t the case! So instead, we snagged one for Danny to wear and took a shot that way. It still counts… :)

Get one eye made up at the makeup counter
Lucky for us, the Texas Store was next to Dillard’s because it was after 7:30 p.m. and we knew we would have to hurry to secure the eye makeup item since the beauty counters usually close earlier than the rest of the store. We headed in to find the nearest makeup attendant to see what we could do to achieve our goal.

One of the things that Danny and I loved most about the scavenger hunt was how random strangers went out of their way to help us check items off the list. Dillard’s was no exception. The lady we approached at the counter was supposed to be getting off work but she called over one of her co-workers to ask if she could help us out and she quickly and happily obliged. Seriously, they were so happy to be a part of it and I loved it!

So, after a few quick dabs of additional eye makeup, we were good to go!

Note: I am aware that the list said “one eye” but the makeup attendant did both at the same time even though I made the request clear. But since we got at LEAST one eye done, we really just went above and beyond. ;) Take that!

Each of you pick a piece of apparel for the other one to wear and take a picture
For the record, this was probably my favorite part of the night with a close second being the mannequin make out picture.

Those of you who know me well know that I typically wear shoes that are flats or wedges, but very rarely standard heels. They’re just harder to wear and it’s tough to find a pair that is legitimately “comfortable.” They just don’t exist and I wear shoes too long for me to sacrifice comfort over style. So when Danny’s apparel choice for me was a pair of obsessively sequined 5-inch heels I had to laugh. I doubted my feet even stood a chance of fitting in any of the shoes in the store since my clodhoppers are of the wide and large variety. I asked the store attendant for a 10 and while she went to the back I couldn’t help but picking out some accessories for Danny, too. As I reached the count of 3 to take the picture, Danny struck this pose –

It was awesome. I was so excited to see so much personality and though I hope this doesn’t come across wrong, I just never knew he had it in him! It was fun to experience!

The store clerk came back a short time later to report that she didn’t have any of the sequin shoes in my size but that she had brought back 3 alternatives.

Now I know some of you readers might be gawking and drooling over some of these choices, but I personally was kind of terrified of falling on my face in them. After all, those black ones were like 6-inch heels and platforms!

But as I looked them over I was surprised to discovered that somewhere inside of me, I was actually really, really excited to try them on. It was kind of bizarre, to be honest. :) I had never in my life tried on overly stylish clothing / accessories that I would never buy and wasn’t sure how it would go. But as I walked around and found that I could actually stand in the shoes without making a scene, I found that I kind of liked the way I felt in them (even if I felt a little ridiculous, too) and I genuinely appreciated that Danny had selected that for my article of “apparel.”

I don’t think I really told him how much that impacted me so hopefully he reads the blog to find out. Overall, it was a good chance for me to remember that trying new things can be scary, but good, too.

While the shoes were far more comfortable than I expected, I’d still probably never buy a pair since I’m certain I would end up next to a salt bath soaking my feet after any kind of extended length of wear. However, it was fun to strut around in them for the few minutes that I did and I won’t be so quick to judge the next time around.

Find something that has a Shakespeare quote or saying on it
Finding something with a Shakespeare quote wasn’t the highest item on our priority list so it’s quite possible we had passed other options along the way, but as the clock neared 8:30 p.m. we found ourselves hungry and anxious to finish and head to dinner. Lucky for us the Barnes & Noble at the mall had a shelf full of Shakespeare books so we picked up a selection to take a picture of one of his most famous quotes –

Thank you, Hamlet. Such a wise question.

Buy as many items as you can for 5 dollars from at least 2 different stores
Perhaps one of the toughest challenges of the night was the one to spend 5 dollars between two different vendors. Do you have any idea how hard that is to do, especially at The Woodlands Mall?? It’s near impossible; let’s just say that.

Being that it’s a fancier part of town, there wasn’t a dollar store to be found in the area so we decided next to try a store like Claire’s to hunt down a cheap pair of earrings or better yet, a card of various pairs. It was Danny’s idea, suggesting that maybe we could buy something that I could actually use. Thoughtful, huh?

We searched high and low, but to save you from such a search in the future, I will tell you that Claire’s in The Woodlands does not carry a single pair of earrings for less than $5.50. Just sayin. We couldn’t even find any reasonable items in the $2/3 range.

But as we rounded the corner out of Claire’s we found Great American Cookie Company. Since we were already starting to get hungry we wandered over to see what we could find. We quickly learned that we could purchase 3 mini cookies for $2.49 and since it had the added bonus of giving a little temporary sustenance to our tummies, we were sold! Danny quickly pulled out his wallet to pay for the treasures and we headed off to try and find another store to help complete the other portion of the assignment.

We wandered over to Hallmark in hopes of finding a dollar card (or maybe a cheap pack of greeting cards) that we could get with the remaining $2.51. Once again the employees behind the counter went out of their way to think of possible options. Sure, we found a small packet of Junior Mints for like 34 cents, but now that we discovered we had options, we were determined to make the most of our money in the store.

After evaluating other candies, cards and clearance items, we settled on a pack of stickers that came with a total of 352 items. Yep. We managed to buy a total of 355 items with just $5 plus we still had change to spare!

Overall we totally rocked that list item. Woo hoo!

Find something with a rainbow on it
Danny and I discovered early in the scavenger hunt that we live in a world of peace signs, not rainbows. Should the item on the list have said, find a peace sign, we could have taken a picture of at least 30 different items from apparel to signage, accessories to cards, stickers and more. Seriously, they’re everywhere. Rainbows however…are another story.

We tried several clothing stores including kids’ stores and though we found several items in rainbow colors, securing a picture of “a rainbow” was REALLY hard. Here are a two of our best attempts though –

In the end though, Hallmark came through again when we spotted a packet of rainbow stickers!!

Sweet! We did it! We got all the items on the list!

After successfully completing the scavenger hunt, we walked over to Grimaldi’s for dinner. If you’ve never been there, you must try it. It’s a brick oven New York pizzeria and it’s fantastic. Their Caesar Salad is especially good so try that, too. But just get one to split because they’re huge! And good. :)

We elected to sit outside where we found ourselves serenaded by the sounds of the nearby lighted fountains that danced in movement to a mix of American-themed music. Those of you who know Danny know he bleeds American, so it was pretty cool that that was the music selection for the evening. Whether it always plays those songs I don’t know, but if it rotates, it was a fitting selection considering who was there. Overall it was great!

During dinner we discussed our adventure from the scavenger hunt. We decided that we really made a great team. We worked together to find solutions to each item and naturally took turns taking the pictures and being in them. Additionally, doing the scavenger hunt gave us opportunities to do things that were fun or different from what we might have otherwise done. I’d highly recommend doing it for a date sometime!

We also loved how involved and vested complete strangers became in our success. Though we had visited the store Icing earlier in the evening and learned we couldn’t take pictures there, the workers were happy to direct us to other places that might have our designated list items. In fact, other than the lady who gave the funny look at the camera, everyone we talked to went out of their way to help us and that was just a cool experience. I love to see people helping total strangers!

Danny paid for dinner and as we left Grimaldi’s to head back to our cars, we asked a nearby patron to snap a picture of us in front of the fountains. Unfortunately though when we went to take it, the fountains turned off to recharge and completely missed the shot. Oh well.

Overall, I had an absolutely fantastic time with Danny! He was such a gentleman and made me feel really comfortable. He was thoughtful, considerate and made me feel safe the entire time. I saw a side of him I had never seen before and felt like both of us were completely ourselves. I’d say it was one of the best dates I went on over the course of the project and I’m glad I had the opportunity to share it with Danny.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The 2nd Date - Kim & Josh

Well, evidently we all needed a little break from blogging, but here it is, better late than never...what you've all been waiting #2! Thanks for hanging in there with us!

So your votes were tallied last Tuesday night and I was super excited to find out that Josh G. was the big winner. Really though, I was the winner. In the less than stellar history called my dating life, I've had very few second dates, so to get a second date with someone I had such a fun first date with was quite the treat! 

Josh began "juicing" shortly after we went out the first time. For those of you who are unaware of what "juicing" is, let me fill you in.
1. You get your veggies
2. You get your fruit
3. Squish the guts out of them in a juicer and voila! Juice!
4. Chug...because your that hungry.
5. Repeat many times each day so you don't starve. :)
I've been poking fun at him about it for some time now, but agreed to that being part of our date...I was feeling adventurous.

Josh came over around 6 p.m., juicer in tow. He got a big hug and we discussed our current state of being...both of us were super tired due to real long days at work. (My student asked if I was sick that couldn't be because my eyes were going crossed eyed during my small group and my speech had slowed significantly...yea, it was that kind of day.) We new that this would add a new dynamic to this date...delirium, but we were up for the adventure. We decided to take a little trip to HEB, only the coolest grocery store on the planet, and purchase some juicing necessities. He let me be the director on this mission, deciding which fruits and veggies to add to our concoction. I was a little nervous as I saw the kale go into the basket...liquid kale...dream come true. :) We joked and laughed as we picked a variety of things like grapes, spinach, carrots, blackberries, oranges, etc., etc. I thought about trying to sneak some chocolate into the mix, but didn't think I could get that by him. After filling our basket with the wonders of nature, we went to check out. I thought it was hilarious when I looked at our things compared to the lady's things behind us. She had about 20 different kinds of meat moving down the belt. The checker asked us if we were vegetarian. For the night...yes. :) 

We headed back to my house and began prepping for Juicing 101. Cutting boards came out, knives were readied, and cutting began. We talked and prepped and prepped and talked. Then the magic began when I got to flip the switch and shove the innocent vegetables and fruits that Josh kept handing me to their doom. Juice came out one way and pulp the other. The juice...not so attractive. The pulp, however, looked amazing with it's carrot orange, spinach green, and blackberry purple swirled together. Josh just laughed at me. Then came the moment of drink or not to drink...that is the question. Down the hatch! It'' juice form! "That's not the best one I've ever made" is his reply as he gulps his down  within the first minute. (Please refer to juicing step 4.)  I, on the other hand, had to take my time. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't the best juice of my life...I blame the kale, which if you are unfamiliar with this species of leafy green, it tastes like bitter cauliflower. It's powerful stuff! Surprisingly, though, after one glass I was legitimately full and ready for part two!

Part two was all me...don't get your hopes up for originality on this's been done before, but not by me and I wanted to do it first! Josh and I cleaned up and headed to Barnes and Noble. (I'm pretty sure we both would have been happy to just sit on the couch the rest of the night, but we stuck with the plan.) It was drizzling as we walked out and Josh was prepared with his umbrella as he walked me to the car and opened my door. I was really glad we got the drive time because I learned a lot about Josh, what makes him tick, life lessons, things that make him the good man he is. Good stuff. When we got to B&B, I handed Josh an envelope that had some random things for us to do. My personal favorite was getting to read each other our favorite children's books. (I know, it's been done, but I just couldn't help it...I love kid's books!) I cheated and picked 3 of my favorite Mo Willem's books...I could have stayed all night in that one section. I love Mo and you should too! Josh picked a classic Mercer Mayor book. We settled ourselves next to a little train, faced each other in two chairs, and began...we accrued an under-aged audience rather quickly and got a few chuckles from passing adults. My Mo Willem's trio was a hit with Josh. (I knew Mo's power over small children would also work on the big kids.)  :) I felt a presence behind my shoulder as Josh started reading. Sure enough, a little boy kept scooting closer and closer until he was right behind me soaking in every line. It was adorable! 

Josh and his trip
My World Trip

We moved on to various areas of the bookstore throughout the night, looking through the games here, planning future world trips there. We laughed at the random books we found and spent the last few minutes just wandering. We had been there quite some time, when the delirium really started setting in and we knew it was time to call it a night. (I think I ended up with a couple of bruises that night from running into things...typical when I'm super tired.) We headed back to my house, chatting the whole way...we had to to keep ourselves awake and he's just so much fun to talk to! :) We got back to my house and we packed up the Juice Master. I got a hug in the kitchen and a bonus hug at the door as he left. What a great night! As far as 2nd dates go, this is the best...not that I've had much to compare it to, nonetheless...still the best! Thanks, Juan!

Well, dear friends of the blog...there you have it...a crazy, but ultimately successful dating project! Hope you enjoyed the ride!