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2017 in Review {Best Year Yet}

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Well hey guys, I found this in my long list of drafts.
In the wondreful year of 2017, I...
Filled a house with 10 of the loveliest ladies in Savannah for my bachelorette. 
Had that monumental day I dreamt of since I was like 8, snagging Dylan forever
Explored Savannah with two dedicated Aussie wedding guests
Celebrated Leslie and Steve's monumental day in Georgia AND Dylan's cousin and her man in California 
Had a mountains, surf and seafood-filled honeymoon in Portugal and Spain 
Hosted our 2nd Annual Mardis Gras party 
Hosted our 1st Annual Midsummer Fest
Enjoy so much cuddle time and hikes with the best Sisi Dog. 
Started a relatively successful garden, harvesting FIVE jalepenos! That cauliflower should be ready soon (Update: I harvest 5 bushleses a tad too late but enjoyed some of them).
Spent my 28th birthday in Boston and Maine
Switched clothes with Dylan for Halloween and howled down the street. 
Applied to grad school round DOS. All your well-wishing rituals are welcome, friends!
and welcomed THREE friends' babies! Welcome to the world, Griffen, Vince and Max! :) You all got some fantastic padres. 

It always blows me away how much happens in a year.
Bring it on, 2018! You are the most mysterious one yet. 

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New England Birthday

Saturday, November 11, 2017

My 28th birthday couldn't have been better. We flew into Boston, rented a car and headed north for hiking in actual autumn. 

We stopped in Portland, Maine for the night and made the best choice to eat at Eventide. Guys, find the cheapest ticket to Portland and treat yourself to some dang seafood at this place. We indulged and got three kinds of the 10+ local oysters, lobster roll, clam chowder with a unique touch of seaweed, perfectly flavored ceviche, tuna tartar, and two desserts. Everything was so fresh and delish with their own little flare, the atmosphere was so lively and cozy at the same time... Ya gotta go. I liked the oysters and I don't even like oysters.

It was only a one night stand with Portland as we were stoked to get to Acadia, but I think I'd see her again. 

So we drove up the picturesque New England highway, enjoying the foliage for which we booked this trip. I wanted to pop into the first 3 antique shops I saw, but then we after about twenty-five more I was ready to yell at the stores to get another life.

In Acadia, we did 3 hikes in two days; the Beehive, Jordan Pond and Sergeant Mountain, and Precipice. Beehive was great with beautiful views, interesting ladder features and rocks to climb. Jordan Pond was just walking around a pond--- a beautiful pond nonetheless, but a bit too easy, so we trailed off to Sergeant Mountain which was much more challenging and rewarding.

I did not want to do the Precipice Trail, which was an unusually strong oppositional feeling I don't normally get from those types of activities, so I thought I'd trust my gut. But then after hours of hiking and maybe exhaustion from the first hard trek, I caved and agreed. The amount of hikers that accepted the challenge comforted me, as I didn't think that many people would be as experienced as I thought you needed to be for this hike. So clearly, it was that the hike was just easier than I was expecting. It was quite the experience and so glad we did it. NOT as scary as they make it out. Dylan wound up being the scaredy one after all of that. 

After two days of getting our hiking fill, we headed to Boston to visit Amy and Sal. We had a great visit with these two, as expected, wondering around the Asian market and eating Ramen, as mentioned in our honeymoon recap. Our last day there was spent walking walking walking. Walked through the brown stones on Beacon St--- one of my favs, along the Charles River, to the Old North Church, along the foggy wharf, to the Boston library to do some research on cemeteries, through China Town in search of pho, and back to the North End for dinner at Giacamos with our lovely hosts. We attempted to go out to a bar but... I'm old now and staying in for homemade cucumber gin and tonics, in a quiet place, with my constraining shoes off sounded all too appealing. Like I said... old. 

Needless to say, our seafood-loving bellies were happy, my feet were blistered, and my hiking heart was full. 
Happy birthday to me.

 It's fall!!

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Weekends are for...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Jam packed Saturdays with community outreach in the morning
and wondering around Porch Fest. 

Productive, lovely Sundays with an early morning rise
dog walkin' 
first run in forever 
yummy breakfasts full of farmer's market goodies 
running into good friends on the beach
good old productiveness with SLP apps
and experimenting witha new recipe, trying to copy Crispy's fig pizza and enjoying it by the river with D.

Happy weekend, all! 
 First pepper harvest! My thumb is getting greener, yall!

I wanted all the dogs.
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Portugal and Spain Honeymoon

Saturday, September 16, 2017

We chose Portugal and Spain for our honeymoon for the surf, hiking, and culture and it did not disappoint. We flew into Lisbon and stayed here for two nights. We wondered through the hilly cobblestones, admiring the tree-topped hills in the skyline. We did some toursity things here including the Jeronimos Monastery and Tower of Belem. I'd say Lisbon's highlights were their yellow buildings, cable cars, and intriguing streets lined with laundry, birdcages outside the homes, and family portraits on the walls.

Lisbon, Portugal--->Almoçageme, Portugal---> Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal---> Aljezur, Portugal ---> Seville, Spain ---> Granada, Spain ---> Málaga, Spain

From Lisbon, we rented a car and headed down south, choosing our next destinations based on the surf reports. The drive to Supertubos was a bizarre one. It looked like we were nowhere near the ocean. We drove passed farm after farm feeling like we were in the middle of the country, but finally reached a parking lot, walked over some huge sand dune and there was the ocean. I cozied up on the chilly beach while Dylan enjoyed a long ride at Supertubos, a "world class wave." We ate the worst burger of our lives at the beach bar and then headed south.

We drove through fairy-tale like woods to reach a town in Sintra called Almoçageme. This was my favorite town in Portugal. A sweet Portuguese lady hosted us in the coziest apartment. Our view overlooked the teeny tiny streets (which made driving a laughable challenge) with the sea and mountains in the distance. Dylan almost surfed some waves at a beach called Praia Grande until Portuguese dude approached us...

"Hey! What are you doing?!" He asked concerned.
"Goin surfin!" Dylan exclaimed excitedly. 
"You're kidding, right?!"
"No, man, those waves look perfect!"
"Noo, you're joking! Those are like 4 meter waves... There's no other surfers out there... You can't even get out passed the break. You'd need a jet ski!"
"Oooh, no those look great!" 
The man continued to nervously laugh in disbelief.
"Maybe since this guy is laughing at the idea and there's no one else in, maybe you shouldn't go, babe," I hopefully expressed. 
Finally, Dylan chose to believe this guy and we opted for hiking instead. Phew. 

So we headed to a hike we'd learned about from a French lady that just decided to start a pizza food truck on the corner of this tiny little Portugues town (covetable life, huh?) We reached an old convent on top of a hill, Santuario de Peninha. No other tourists, no fees, just walking around this 400 year old convent. 

My memory of the following towns in Portugal are a little meshed, as they were all little surf towns where our days were spent doing just that; Watching my surfer babe husband either from a beautiful rocky, secluded beach, enjoying the European freedom, or from a huge cliff overlooking the indigo sea.

In Vila Nova e Milfontes, we found a fantastic coastal hike called the Fisherman's Trail. We hiked through endless wildflowers, succulents and rosemary with a steep drop to the sea on our right. Near the end, we watched newby surfers from our cliff, then veered right for a detour through a pine forest for a change in scenery.

Dylan's last day of surfing was spent at the rockiest beach with the roughest waves at sunset. I joined a van of hippie kids from all over as we tried to keep an eye out for brave old Dylan. He finally came in with a dented board, ending the surf half of the trip. 

At the end of our Portuguese adventure, we turned in our car for a bus to Seville, Spain. Arriving at 9:00pm, the sun was still setting, giving us the dreamiest scene. Across the bridge we had bright purple-flowered trees that made the city smell delightful everywhere you walked, and palm trees lining the river. "Coolest city I've ever seen," we both expressed. We immediately started brainstorming how to move here.

Around the corner from our host's apartment, which was the hippest home I've ever seen, we found a lively tapas restaurant. We ordered too many tapas and enjoyed our cheap beer and wine. For the next three days, we explored Seville's endless historic streets, and moseyed around their vibrant parks. Spain in general had some of the most insane churches. I marveled at the most extreme organs and we wondered about the supposed Christopher Columbus' remains. We stayed an extra day in Seville than planned to take it all in.

One day we lingered around the University, sitting and watching all the students going from class to class. What a dreamy school to attend. Later that night, we attemped to find a concert that was advertised in the halls. We got directions that led us through a garden, turned right and spotted a sign that said "Stage set --->". So we followed the arrow. Instead, we found a sweet little alley that was getting set up for a movie. We sat and enjoyed this until they kicked us out.

Some of the worthwhile things we did in Seville were the Palace de la Countess and the Real Alcazar; both incredibly ornate, extravagant buildings with ancient tiles, mosaics, and collections from all over the world. We regretfully only had an hour for the Real Alcazar as I thought it was just a garden, so I assumed it could be seen in that amount of time. Not so. It was an old palace originally built by Moorish kings. It was elaborate from the floor tiles to the molding to the archways, walls, ceilings, columns, to the gardens. We could've spent all day here. Our amazement in this city only feigned in the slightest (it had to from the original extreme high). 

Next was Granada. Granada was a bit more hipster with college students all around and graffiti everywhere. On a walk to dinner one night, we met a guitar-slung guy and followed him to the bar where he was playing (with his permission). We hung out here with a bar full of college-aged, poetry-reading, cartoon-drawing, music-singing hipsters.

The most luxurious night of our trip was a midnight dip in some Roman baths. But first, picture me walking through the streets at night with wet hair, baggy hiking pants, Dylan's button up shirt, no bra and my Chacos while everyone else was in their night-out clothes... comical. Anyway, we arrived without ridicule and I was convinced this Roman bath was legit from loong ago. Apparently though, the builders just did a really good job of making it look like kings would've bathed here. I still enjoyed imagining a king walking up through the column-lined hall to join us in the bath. We dipped in the freezing, floated in the toasty, dipped back in the cold, back to hot again and again, floating and admiring the gold, intricate interior.

Another day, we attempted to go to the Alhambra but apparently you need tickets a MONTH in advanced. So I guess if you're going to Granada, go ahead and book that. Apparently it's worth it. 

Since the sun set so late, we could explore for a whole day, take a nap, then head back out for a hike at like dinner time. So that we did one day. Took a taxi about 20 minutes west near the Sierra Nevadas and hiked up through a little village to find the trail. What we at least thought was the trail went through farms, provided fresh cherries, and had the best gorge for sound echoes. This satisfied my hiking itch. 

From Granada, we made our last stop in Malaga where we flew out. We were glad we only spent a night here as it was a Miami-esque beach town. We did enjoy people-watching at this old Moorish castle though, pretending we were Canadian and talking about America going down the tubes. And ate more Ramen. We ate ramen, Dylan's new obsession, I think three times? Our last meal in Spain was an Asian meal.

I'd say the food experience was unique, diverse, delicious, and filled with "best evers." We had some very traditional cod and potatoes in Lisbon for our first meal, a plateful of meat with a side of like half a head of cabbage, one carrot, and some rice in Sintra, the best Peruvian food in someone's backyard-turned-patio restaurant in Aljezur, the best sushi ever in Granada, and the best tapas style Mexican at Cantina de Mexicana in Seville. Oh, also the best salmon pasta at O'Paulo's in Praia da Arrifana, Portugal. This restaurant had the best views on yet another huge cliff overlooking the Pacific.

Our honeymoon was pretty much everything we could've hoped for. Good amount of surf, relaxing, hiking, history, food, wine, and love. It was awesome getting a whole week enjoying Portugal's nature and seclusion and then a whole other week exploring Spain. It felt like two very different trips all in one. If you want to see more pictures and videos, check out Dylan's flickr!

                                                           Sunset dinner at O'Paulo's
 Local beers in Lisbon 
 Pile of meat in Sintra
If you walk it, sea will come
There it is! First surf spot at Supertubos

Fairytale land, Sintra
 Walking across what looked like a desert to get to the ocean

 Seville, filled with the lovelies, lushest gardens and parks
Plaza de Espana
 Granada hike
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Costa Rica and Panama 2016

Sunday, July 16, 2017

It’s been over a YEAR since our return from one surreal adventure in Central America, and I’m still dreaming of those two weeks. There's no way I can express or retell the adventure here without overdoing it.

We flew into San Jose, entering what looked like Jurassic Park. From here, we headed to Dominical where we surfed, ran, and sweated. One day we walked up the beach, through some little village to find a mini waterfall. The families around us left after a while so we had that little oasis to ourselves, flying off the rope swing, floating in the rain.

We met a Dutch couple the next day for a hike to a much bigger waterfall. It had me facing some fears I didn't know I had of falling on rocks and getting as close as we could to its mighty sprays. That trek had me questioning my physical abilities, as I struggled my little butt up that hill. I didn't think I could keep going. It made the fresh mango that much better though.

From Dominical, we headed to the little surf town of Pavones by way of a 1970s American school bus down dirt roads with potholes galore. We met an intriguing bunch of surf characters from Sweden, Israel, Brazil, and St. Augustine.

It was quite a cozy little lifestyle we created there; walking to the market every day, cooking fresh meals in the open air kitchen, collecting mangoes, avocados and fruit I can't pronounce, sharing our cultural meals with the Dane having fiskefrikadeller one night and burgers the next, runs through the tropical Costa Rican streets while Dylan surfed, setting up on the beach in the perfect hammock-hanging trees, ditching electronics and reading every day. Eating ice cream every day to cool off and not even worrying about it with all our activity was pretty fantastic too.

After about three days enjoying this lifestyle, we decided to head on over to Panama since, you know, it was so close. Why not? Another surfer from Australia was heading that way too, so we tagged along with him. Thrill and intimidation filled my veins at the Costa Rica-Panama border patrol. The communication and directions had us wondering all over for far too long.

Panama was a nice change with mountains all around, much less bugs, and a cooooool temperature. We did two fantastic hikes here. One day we went up several different trails in search of "the three waterfalls." I don't think we ever found those three but we saw two others that were pretty great. We did get the experience of walking through crop fields, picking a blackberry or two, smelling the strong fragrance of onions along the way, and meeting several friendly pups.

The next day we decided to conquer the Quetzales trail. We started off thinking we were going to do the whole trail, hiking out and back. "It's only 6 miles," we said. We made the mistake of following the hostel worker's instructions to get off the bus a "couple kilometers from the entrance because the bus doesn't go all the way to the trail." I'm guessing we hiked up that steep road for about 3 miles just to get to the entrance of the trail.

We hiked and hiked through the greenest trail, spotting the funkiest looking fungi along the way. Panama has the biggest and prettiest plants; ferns bigger than me, white and green striped leaves with pink flowers, massive leaves with the most intricate looking veins. I even got to spot a wild orchid! 

Near the end, we saw a sign for a lookout that was maybe 1k away.  We were so tired at this point that we almost didn't even bother, but Dylan encouraged and we trekked up. We walked through a chilly burst of mist to see an overlook of the calmest valley. It was quite dreamy. You could see the cloud being sucked into a crack between the mountains. Worth the little extra hike.

I swear the trail kept lying to us about the distance, as we'd see a sign that would 3k to the end, then 30 minutes or sometimes what seemed like an hour later, we'd get to another sign saying 3k to the end. It was both discoursing as heck and perplexing. But we finally made it to the end with no food or water left for the hike back and tired legs and brains. At one point, we sat for a break and I had a conversation between two funky leaves. So we decided to hike out and find a bus back...

Not so easy. We came out to a beautiful but secluded area with wildflower fields and cows and no cars in sights or sound. I wound up running down a hill in attempt to find a resolution quicker. Maybe cars, a bus stop, people... something. But nothing. Just a cow that got too excited at the sight of a human. We kept walking and walking, trying to enjoy the serenity until finally a car came up and we sure as spitfire hitched that ride. A four hour bus ride later, we made it back to our hostel.

Our last night in Panama was complete with Sunday Mass, a fancy fish dinner on a patio overlooking the mountains, and a Boquete Brew.

Panama was absolutely worth it with the remote hiking, rare birds, cool weather, mountains, ethnic tribes in their interesting dress, and minimal tourists. They also had the best coffee in the world, (internet claimed, Abby confirmed). We actually pushed back our departure time in order to go back to Cafe Ruiz for one more cup and stuffed our backpacks with as much coffee as we could. 

Biggest mishap of the trip? Hotel Franciny. We wound up there when we'd gone from Pavones to San Jose and planned to continue on to Santa Elena. However, the busses were all done until the next morning.  So we needed a hotel. Our apparently untrustworthy taxi driver decided to take us to a "hotel" from hell. Driving down the street, it was the most homeless people I've seen in one stretch, and we showed up to a hotel with a sign made out of cardboard and sharpie. We got a tour of the grundgy, smelly place with stained mattresses in the hall, what looked like knife marks in the wall above the bed which was made up of a box spring, a two inch mattress, and a bed skirt over top. No blankets or sheets for the bed. A "room" was next door to ours that looked like a closet. The shower head had what looked like electrical wires wrapped around it and a hole in the wall that of course made us conclude "cameras..." We woke up at 5am to a cockroach crawling on Dylan's back. At that, we decided to just go to the bus station early to get outa there. A dreadful place Hotel Franciny was.  

Our last stop was Monteverde for a couple days. It was the least impressive to us, as it was very touristy and expensive, but it did provide us with one heck of a zip lining experience. I would absolutely recommend that. We went with Extremo Park, as unappealing as the name sounded, and it was such a fantastic surprise. It far exceeded our expectations in thrill and worth. Zipping on mile-high lines across gorgeously valleys through the mountains with monkeys and parrots along the way, flying on our bellies across the huge stretch, getting pushed off a platform on a huge rope, swinging us out above the falls. It was truly thrilling. 

We started our trip with an open plan of finding surf towns and good hiking. 
Our final route was 
Jacksonville-->Miami-->San Jose, CR--->Domincal, CR--->Pavones, CR--->Boquete, Panama--->San Jose--->Santa Elena--->San Jose--->Home

What an adventure that was. As our first trip out of country together, I'd say it was a success. A thrilling, challenging, hot, humid, dreamy success. 
Last day in Pavones

 Cookin up lunch in our open air kitchen at the hostel in Pavones. And scratching the bug bites on my feet. 

 Old Chambo, that kept us company while we waited out the rain on a hike 
 A retired American showed us a quetzal bird and a black guan or pavon negro which is what Pavones was named after, and this 1500 year old tree that survived a volcano. 

So. Much. Greeeeen.

                                       Our dreamy view at the end of the Quetzal Trail 
 San Jose

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South Dakota Spring Break 2015?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Welp, I went to South Dakota for spring break maybe two years ago. Here's the blog I wrote and never shared.

I finally made it up to visit the bother and family in South Dakota. Sometimes I feel like my brain and heart literally can't stand the sweetness of some moments. My March was filled with many of these moments.

Like a music-loving Adaleigh jumping on granddaddy's feet to dance while he and Chris played some of my favorite tunes.
Strumming some of those tunes and new favorites with pops. Songs dad introduces are always well-loved. I imagine it's part his good taste and part the sentiment. 

Going on an exclusive aunt-niece walk in the snow.

Getting even more mixed up about what month it is, with Christmas movies and music, fires, snowy views, and ballet dances in the living room to "I'm dreaming of a white Easter."  

Sledding in the backyard. Especially the fun-filled faces of "Big Daddy and Big Mama." 

Some other moments not quite to that sweetness level but still great were seeing Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse, tasting five unique wines at Prairie Berry, seeing the insanely impressive and surreal work of my brother, and all the fantastic meals we devoured. Liesl had me stepping up my cooking game when I returned home.

A spring break well spent to say the least. 

Today's Gratitude to the Max [Wedding Edition}

Sunday, May 28, 2017

For the last several months, Dylan and I have been utterly overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude, love, excitement, and stress... stress that we cannot even begin to express how thankful we are for everyone in our lives both present for our wedding and absent due to babies, weddings, and other wonderful reasons.
We are so beyond grateful for...
Amy for planning one heck of a bachelorette party and all my girls for coming to celebrate with me. You guys are all the best group of girls I could ever hope for. I am SO lucky. You've all been there through my best and worst and love me so fully.

Trudy and Amy for hosting the loveliest bridal shower filled with the most beautiful wildflowers, bike decor, and friends and family surrounding. And all the lovely ladies that showered me with so many sweet, personal gifts. I love you all!

ALL of our friends and family that came to celebrate with is. We've been wishing we could do it all over again so we could talk with each of you so much more! A special award for Edmond and Rachel for traveling from Australia and hanging with us all week! You all mean so much to us. Turning around after saying "I do," and seeing all your happy faces just lit up my heart. Holding back from hugging each and every one of you so we could take this picture was a struggle!
Look at that killer crew. 

All of our wonderful wedding vendors: Love Bridal Boutique for picking out a dress I wouldn't have given a chance but absolutely adored and want to wear every year.

Ashley Rodriguez for making my simple wildflower wedding dreams a reality.


Stephanie Gamble for the beautiful pictures. You captured so many amazing shots and candids. I can't stop looking at the pictures.

Tyler Sowers for being the most positive and easy going videographer we could've hoped for. The video is better than I could've imagined.

Meredith and Dixie with The Delightful Details for putting all of my scattered ideas into one beautiful wedding. I wasn't the least bit stressed about anything in the process or the day of. You guys are more of a blessing than you know!

Linda Grenville and the Punch Buggies for gracing us with the perfect tunes for our day. You exceeded our expectations with every song we requested, especially "Me and You and Sisi Laroo." :)

Uncle Kenneth for gracing us with your wonderful piano playing at the ceremony. It meant so much to have your talent to walk down the aisle to!

Cam for being our fantastic officiant. It was extra special having such a loving family member get us hitched.

All our wonderful readers, Lindsay, Aunt Karen, Amy and Jared.

Meryl, Chad, Amanda, Stephen, and The Ross crew for your sweet videos since you couldn't be physically here. What a sweet start to the celebration.

Benton for introducing me to this crazy kid. Never would've thought that silly message would lead to a marriage. We are grateful for your friendship more than you know!

Dylan's parents for getting everyone together for a fantastic rehearsal dinner. A special thanks for raising the man I always dreamed of.

And my parents for their endless love and support my entire dang life and making this day happen. You guys truly don't know how grateful I am for all you are and all you do.

We. Are. BLESSED. Holy moly. 
But really, can we do it all over again? We'll make it an all day affair, have bigger cups for your bevs, make sure you know you can dive into that keg, and party all day!



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