Sunday, December 15, 2013

You Are NOT Going to Believe This

Soon after I moved to Massachusetts, a coworker told me about this furniture store called Jordan's that has all of this extra stuff inside: trapeze schools, candy stores, ice skating rinks, IMAX theaters, etc.  WHAT?!  I mean, seriously, WHAT?!  It made no sense to me.

It took me over a year, but I finally went to my first Jordan's (it's a local chain).  This Jordan's -- the one in Reading, MA -- blew my mind, and it is now my goal to visit every Jordan's, because every store is different.  I have no idea how the Jordans came up with this concept, but it is the weirdest, most wonderful thing I have ever seen.

Here is a shot from my parking space.  The place is as big as an airplane hanger.  Maybe bigger.  I'm not sure I've ever seen an airplane hanger in real life. :)

Then I see this sign.  Apparently I can expect ice cream, TVs, Beantown (which I've been told is a candy store), speakers, Fuddrucker's, and outdoor furniture.  Interesting combo, yes?

Then, oh, then I walk into the door.  To my right, I see this:

Yes, it's the trapeze school.

To the right, beyond the trapeze school, is this:

Yep!  Dancing fountains!

Across from the trapeze school is the ice cream store.  Yes, of course I got a hot fudge sundae.

Now, when I walked in the front door of the store, straight ahead and to the left was candy.  And I mean CANDY.

The candy store is made of jelly beans.  (Yes, I bought candy.  Don't ask silly questions.)

Then…a candy garden.  (These are all made of jelly beans, people!)

And a jelly bean version of "Make Way for Ducklings" by Robert McCloskey.

And then I went to the IMAX to see "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."  Both the theater and the movie were amazing.  The theater absolutely rivaled the IMAX at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle where I used to go to see all the films I wanted to see in IMAX.

But it gets better.  There are Jordan's Furniture commercials on TV all the time.  Take a look at this guy.  He's Eliot Jordan, who owns Jordan's Furniture.  Now, I never paid him much mind in his commercials until recently.  In one newer commercial he happened to turn sideways and I noticed he had a ponytail.  I was hysterical!  I always think the stringy ponytail on balding men is hilarious.  If any readers are thinking of having such a "hairstyle," I strongly discourage you.  Let's be honest: hair in the back does not make up for hair on the top.

Anyway, the point.  As we were looking for seats in theater, we noticed that four seats were not only being reserved, but were actually being guarded by a Jordan's employee.  "Ha!" we laughed.  "Maybe a Jordan is coming!"  Then, right before the movie started, ELIOT JORDAN and three other people walked in.  I am not kidding.  My first visit to a Jordan's Furniture, and the Man Himself shows up, ponytail and all.  Luckily the lights went down almost immediately.  As I was sitting a few rows back from him, I cannot say what I might have done after staring at that ponytail for more than a few moments.

I shall continue reporting on my Jordan's visits.  I have a friend in Natick, MA (Kari, for all you U of Rochester readers!), so that will probably be next. It has a Bourbon Street!  Why go to New Orleans if you can just go to a Jordan's Furniture in Natick, MA?  Some stores may even require an overnight trip, such as the one in Rhode Island, but I am bound and determined.  Stay tuned.

Snow in Phoenix?

My Mom and I discovered that a local outdoor mall in Phoenix makes it snow twice each evening for poor little Phoenician kids who don't get to see snow.  We had to see it.  It was actually pretty beautiful, and the kids had a blast!  They shoot the snow off the roofs.

Don't you love the snow and the palm trees?

Butterflies, Butterflies!

The largest Butterfly House in the world, Butterfly Wonderland, just opened in Phoenix, so my Mom and I went.  Holy cow, what an experience.  If you are ever anywhere in the vicinity of Phoenix, you must go.  It was amazing.

When you first enter, you see a quick movie about the migration of Monarch butterflies.  After that, you go into a hall and see a line of amazing cases.  Every case is full of cocoons (moths) and chrysalises (butterflies).  What is beautiful is that some of them were empty, some were full, and some were actively hatching.  It was so cool.

And then, into the indoor rainforest!  We were told there were at least 2,500 butterflies and moths in there!  The other thing they told us was to watch every step.  The butterflies are apt to land right on the paths.  My Mom and I found that we walked in a paranoid fashion for about an hour after we left.

This guy hitched a ride on my back for a good 15 minutes as I walked around.

They really like fruit.

A couple landed on my Mom, too.

Another landed on my shoulder, and he was perfectly placed for me to take a close-up:

Strangely, outside the rainforest, Butterfly Wonderland had other attractions, such as a pool of rays that you could pet, some beehives with tunnels to the outdoors so the bees can go in and out, and…fish!  Such as these smoochy fish (official name -- ha!) that my Mom couldn't resist.

And now, some random pictures of butterflies that you can skip if you are bored.

See?  Pesky butterflies on the pathways.

Let's Go Western!

The next reception option we looked at is very cool: the Hotel St. Michael right on historic Whiskey Row in downtown Prescott.

We checked out their reception room, and it was really intimate and beautiful.  They also had a podium set up, so Kevin couldn't help but be possessed by an angry politician!

The next place we looked would be one of the great sister personality switches of all time.  Yes, we looked at the Prescott Valley Public Library.  My Mom and sister were so excited to show me the Library.  Similar to the Newburyport Public Library, the Prescott Valley Public Library is incredible given the small size of the town.

One of the most fun parts of the Library was a rooftop lounge.

Isn't that gorgeous?  I'm insanely jealous.  If a person could guarantee good weather, what an amazing place to have a wedding reception.  It was really big.

They also had a very, very nice meeting room.  The only problem was that the small kitchen attached to the meeting room wouldn't have been at all big enough for catering or cooking for such a crowd.  Bummer.

So the Prescott Valley Public Library is, as I said, gorgeous and new and huge.  Here are some pictures:

A funny little sculpture right inside the front door.  I only say funny because the fish is swimming in the dirt.  Weird.

A cafe right inside the front door with plenty of seating.

OUTDOOR seating!  I'm so envious!  Though they aren't taking any chances: note the fence around the area so that people can't make off with library goods.

A massive children's department!

And, finally, the snazziest sinks I have ever seen in a library bathroom.  I obsessively watch "Love It or List It" on HGTV, so I happen to know that these sinks are very "in."

The Library is on a big municipal campus, and as we walked away we found TONS of sculptures, so we had to take tons of pictures, of course.

Ooo!  Illegal tackling!

You will NOT score, kid!

Mom and I joining in the celebration!

Kevin and I battling over the sculpture.  It's mine!  It's mine!

Allyson petting the sweet puppy.

Kevin sitting on the little boy.  Um...

As I said, this was a municipal campus, which also includes the police station.  I started wondering what all happens in Prescott Valley when I saw this:

Yes, that is the Mobile Command Center.  Egads.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Now They're Married, and We Are Starving! Where Should We Go?

After booking the chapel, we looked at a few places for Ally and Kevin to have their reception.  We looked at three very distinct places.

First up, the casino!  There is SUCH a difference between a casino and the hotel connected to the casino.  The big casino in Prescott, AZ, is Bucky's.  (Good grief, what a name.)  The hotel is gorgeous.

This is what you see when you walk in the front door.

This is to the right, and...

…this is to the left.

Of course, I had to get another smoochy pictures, so…


We also got a fun surprise!  The casino has a gingerbread house contest each year, with a number of winners in categories like "Individual," "Company," "School," and "Organization."  Tragically, Wal-Mart won the "Company" category, so you will not see a picture of that gingerbread house.

I thought this was absolutely amazing!  I am going to send this in to for their Sunday Sweets.

I liked this one because it was so southwestern-looking.  In fact, it occurred to me that southwest architecture is especially well-suited to gingerbread house-making, since gingerbread kind of looks like adobe!

Of purse, a wonderful tribute to "The Nightmare Before Christmas."

This one was very cute, until I realized that it was created by...

… school!  Or should I say, a SCHOOL?  Where, perhaps, they should be able to spell "religious?"  This one is going to Cakewrecks, too.  My heavens.

Also, you may remember when when 19 wilderness firefighters -- the Yarnell Hotshots -- lost their lives this past summer.  That was just south of Prescott, and that tragedy is still fresh in the city's mind.  I saw all sorts of remembrances all over Prescott and the surrounding area.  Including the gingerbread house contest.  

My sister and Kevin tell me that this replica is incredibly accurate.  They've seen the memorial, and they say that this is it, down to the last detail.

The memorial has 19 of everything: shovels, baseballs...

water bottles, teddy bears.

The only thing missing was a Starbucks apron that everyone at my sister's store signed and hung on the memorial wall.

Let's take a break, and I'll move on to other venues in the next post.  Now I'm sad.