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Apr 242017
 

Hi friends! How was your weekend? Ours super fun, and was spent mostly in Philadelphia! One of Fabio’s good friends/fraternity brothers, Jake, works at his family’s jewelry store called Sydney & Rosen in Philadelphia, which has been in business for more than 70 years! Fabio got my engagement ring from Sydney & Rosen back before he proposed, and we always knew we’d be back to buy our wedding bands there too. Way back in January we coordinated with Jake to figure out when we should come up to buy our bands, and the weekend sort of snuck up on us!

More on that in a minute though – let’s stick with the order of events and talk about Friday first.

Friday

It was a beautiful evening on Friday, so after walking Jack, Fabio and I decided to walk to get something to eat for dinner. We decided on one of our local favorites, Taylor Gourmet, since Fabio could get a breaded chicken sandwich and I could get something a little on the healthier side. 😉 I got “the parker” salad, which came with chicken, dried apricots, barley, and watermelon radishes, among other things. It was delicious!

We took our food home to eat because we are right in the middle of binge-watching the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why. Is anyone else watching?? It’s so, so good.

A little later in the evening we took a break from our binge to pick up some sweet treats from the grocery store: enlightened ice cream for me and Snickers ice cream for Fabio. Plus wine. 🙂

The englightened ice cream was just ok – it’s supposed to be lower calorie/lower sugar/higher protein, but I thought it also tasted like it was all of those things, so I’m not sure I’d buy it again. It’s still ice cream though, so I was happy. With ice cream in hand, we watched another episode of the show before calling it a night around 10:30.

Saturday

On Saturday morning it was time to head up to Philly! Our amazing friends Jojo and Jadd agreed to watch Jack for us and, after dropping him off and then sitting in loads of traffic due to some rainy weather, we eventually arrived at Jake’s jewelry store in Philly.

After saying hi to Jake and his fiance Greg (another one of Fabio’s fraternity brothers), it was time to get to business. I had sent Jake some pictures of wedding bands I liked, and he had a couple picked out for me that he thought I might like. He nailed it, unsurprisingly. I decided to go with something similar to the ring in the photo below, only with slightly smaller diamonds.

It should be arriving in a few weeks, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out! Fabio also picked out a really nice ring, with lots of help from Jake. 😉

After ring shopping, we drove over to my good friend Kristen’s house where we’d be staying for the evening! We sat around chatting with her for a while before deciding to head over to Kraftwork for a late lunch. Kristen and I shared a tasty chicken sandwich. Yum!

After chatting for many more hours (it was SO nice to catch up with her one-on-one) it was time for dinner! Our friend Greg is one of the managers for the restaurant Double Knot, and since he couldn’t get off work for our visit we decided to come to him instead! He made a reservation for us in the lounge area of the restaurant, and I was honestly surprised when I saw how trendy it was. It was like a Japanese speakeasy!

The lighting was pretty dark, and we wound up having to use the candles on the table to read the drinks menu. It definitely had a fun ambiance!

My friend Sam, who also lives in Philly, joined us for dinner too. Love these ladies! 🙂

All of the food we tried at Double Knot was incredible, and Greg took such good care of us for the evening. It was so nice to see him and Jake! I love these college buddies. 🙂

After dinner, we walked over to McGillin’s for an evening of dancing. Kristen’s boyfriend Mark was there too! (He was supposed to be away on a business trip but wound up getting an earlier flight home and surprised her at dinner. So sweet!)

It was such a fun night, and Kristen I got a big kick out of the songs that were being played at the bar from artists like Celine Dion (My Heart Will Go On and It’s All Coming Back to Me Now) and Vanessa Carlton. Lol! There was lots of signing happening on our end, before the bar closed at 2 a.m. and it was time to go home. Phew!

Sunday

On Sunday morning, Kristen, Mark, Fabio and I met up with Jake and Sam for brunch at For Pete’s Sake, where I enjoyed some delicious chicken and waffles. After that, we stopped by Sam’s house for a minute since it was close by, and then Fabio and I hit the road!

Our drive home wasn’t too bad, and now we are relaxing for a bit before I’m sure we will continue watching 13 Reasons Why. I’m not sure a grocery trip is in the cards for us today, so we will see how we make it through the week without any fresh produce. Eek! Maybe we will go on Monday after work?

Question of the day: Are you watching (or did you watch) 13 Reasons Why? What did you think?

Edited to add: Ahh we wound up finishing it late tonight (Sunday)!! It was so good and now I’m so sad it’s over.

 Posted by on April 24, 2017
Mar 232017
 

Well, I really tried to make this the final recap post of my bachelorette party in Fort Lauderdale, but I couldn’t do it! So, you will have one more post after this one. Sorry! Hopefully you don’t mind too much. 🙂

If you missed the first two recaps, you can read about our first day and night in Fort Lauderdale here, and read about our fun day by the pool here! When we last left off, we had just finished chatting in the hot tub before going inside to get ready for dinner.

We decided to wear our fun bachelorette tanks for this night – mine was white and in gold sparkles said “Drunk in Love” and everyone else’s were black and said “Just Drunk.” Yep! Sounds about right! 🙂

Once we were all just about ready, all my friends secretly got together in the back room. I had no idea what they were doing, but then they all came out with flower crowns and – get this – tattoos with Fabio’s face on them!!

(FYI – they got them from my sorority sister’s Etsy store, Dunkirk Designs!)

How hysterical, right? They had one for me too, obviously. 🙂

How funny! They also had tattoos that said “Make good decisions,” so I decided to wear that one on my lower back. Haha!

I then took the opportunity to take a million pictures with my amazing friends! Here I am with Sam, Hana, and Bianca. I’ve been friends with Hana since first grade, and Sam and Bianca since middle school!

Bianca is also one of my maids of honor, and she did a great job planning some of these fun bachelorette decorations and surprises. 🙂

I also grabbed a picture with Kristen, my pledge sister! We met in the fall of 2008 – the same time that I met Fabio – and have been such good friends ever since. <3

Then there’s Megan, who was basically the bachelorette planning Queen! She’s super organized and helped Bianca with a lot (ok, all) of the planning logistics. We’ve also been friends since college, and she’s now the only one still living in Arlington with me (all of our other gurlays have moved away!). I don’t know what the heck I would do without her.

Then we have Catrinaaaa! My California girl, fitness buddy, fellow foodie, and amazing friend. I don’t get to see her enough!!! Move back to the East Coast, Treen!

A Megan/Catrina sandwich!

And then there’s this. Lol.

That right there is probably one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip. It’s so us!

Once we were done with our photo shoot (this wasn’t even all the girls – just a few of them!) we hopped in a Lyft and headed to a drag show at Lips!

When we got there, we saw that Hana had coordinated another Snapchat filter for us. Seriously, my friends spoiled me rotten during this trip.

Somehow we got SUPER lucky and wound up with a table right up front. Look at my bachelorette crew! Aren’t they beautiful? (People probably hated us, lol. We were definitely “those annoying bachelorette party girls.”)

Yay!

Before the start of the show, we met our waitress for the evening, Chocolata. She had such great energy and right from the get-go I could tell she was going to make the night so much fun.

We ordered our food and a couple of drinks before the show started, and I ate some surprisingly good mushroom raviolis. (I say surprisingly because I’m not sure good food is the main focus of a drag show place, haha!)

Then Chocolata brought over two bottles of champagne and said they were from Claire and Jojo!! I couldn’t believe it – two of my sweet friends who weren’t able to come on the trip had coordinated to have the champagne brought over to us. How many times can I say that my friends are the best?

Once we were done with our food, it was time for the show! Our front and center seats came in handy and we had a great view.

After a couple of entertaining acts, Chocolata came out in a whole new outfit and worked the room with an amazing lip synching and dance performance!

I looove this picture of her putting her boot on the table in front of Megan.

LOL!!

Basically, Chocolata was phenomenal.

Then before I knew it, the main part of the show was over and I was being called up on stage with a bunch of other bachelorettes for a challenge! I screenshotted this picture from Hana’s Snapchat. 🙂

For the challenge, we had to get on our hands and knees and take a “blow job” shot without using our hands. Yep, I had to do that. On stage. In front of a bunch of people.

Ready…

Go!

The challenge was a lot of fun, and at the end I fulfilled my dream of taking a picture with Chocolata (who had changed outfits again).

Right before we left, I talked to Chocolata a bit more (probably too much) and thanked her for empowering women everywhere to be the best version of themselves and to just be confident in their own skins. Yep. I’m not making this up. Luckily my friends pulled me away and we left Lips before I got too annoying. I hope, anyway. Haha!

That’s some love right there.

What a fun night!!

Question of the day: Have you ever been to a drag show? Also, do you get stage fright?

I thought I would be nervous about going on stage for the challenge, but since my friends were all right in front of me I didn’t feel nervous at all. The drinks beforehand probably helped too. 😉

 Posted by on March 23, 2017
Jan 062017
 

At the end of every year, I like to take a moment to reflect on the highlights from the last 365 days. It’s a fun way for me to look back at all the high points of the year, and these are always some of my favorite posts to write.

Since I didn’t have a chance to get this post up before the end of the year, I figured I’d share it with you all today! Here’s a look back at my 16 highlights from 2016. Be prepared: it’s a long one!

16. Spent lots of time with family. In looking back over the year, some of my favorite memories were just the casual weekends spent with my family. From playing in fallen leaves with my sister to spending some quality time with my grandparents to family crab feasts at my mom’s house, I have some truly special memories with the people I love most.

15. Kept up my fitness game with tons of spin classes and boot camps. My love affair with ClassPass (<– affiliate link for $30 off!) continued throughout 2016, and I took oh-so-many wonderful classes. My three favorite classes from the year probably have to be FlyWheel’s spin class, Urban Athletic Club’s Urban Athlete (bootcamp) class, and CorePower Yoga’s Sculpt class (which hasn’t been on ClassPass lately, but I took my fair share of those classes throughout 2016).

Close runners up include Definitions, MADabolic, Biker Barre (their spin class), and Reformation Fitness! Oddly enough, I took hardly any barre classes in 2016, though I was a big fan of barre in 2015. I also didn’t run much in 2016, but I’m ok with that. As long as I have a fitness routine that makes me happy and it’s something I look forward to, I will keep doing what I’m doing! Plus I have some running plans in store for 2017, so stay tuned for updates on that.

14. Started planning my wedding! I’m elaborating a lot more on this in the items below, but every detail of planning my wedding has been so much fun. Whether it’s planning our honeymoon in Thailand or chatting with our photographer (love her) or sending out our save the dates, I am enjoying every moment of this process. The photos below are from our engagement session in Jamaica last year, but we’re using them for a lot of the wedding pieces.

13. Crawled around DC breweries for Fabio’s birthday. For Fabio’s birthday this year, I organized a brewery crawl around DC with a bunch of our friends. It turned out really well, and we had such a fun time exploring new breweries and hanging out with all our friends! I also loved that I asked everyone to wear plaid as our theme. Haha!

12. Visited Aunt CC and Uncle Steve in Otis—one of my favorite places on Earth—and learned to paddle board. Visiting Aunt CC and Uncle Steve at their house in the Berkshires is always one of the highlights of my year. This summer when we went up, Uncle Steve taught us to paddle board, which was (surprisingly) something Fabio and I hadn’t tried before. The whole weekend was a blast, but paddleboarding was probably my favorite part. I just love visiting them!!

11. Stood on my chair and spun my napkin around in the air in an Italian restaurant in NYC with so many of my best friends by my side. Now that’s an interesting one, right? Every year Fabio and I try to visit NYC during the holidays to visit our friends and this year’s trip was especially fun. The highlight for me was our dinner experience at Puglia, where we drank all the wine we wanted for three hours and stood on our chairs waving our napkins around whenever the band played “the napkin song.” This sounds like such a weird thing to do, but I’m telling you it was an absolute blast!!

10. Attended eight beautiful weddings. This was definitely a wedding-heavy year for us, but each one was special and unique in its own way. I had a blast at all of them, and loved getting to celebrate with so many people who mean so much to me. Congrats to all of you!!

…and also, thank goodness for Rent the Runway.

9. Shopped for (and found!) my wedding dress. Eek! This is a memory that makes me giddy just thinking about it. In June, I invited a couple of my friends and family members to join me in shopping for a wedding dress. I really didn’t expect to find one on this trip and thought we’d mostly just be shopping for the fun of it, but low and behold I found my dress! We went out to lunch afterwords to celebrate, and it was just such a fun day with the women who mean so much to me.

8. Spent a weekend touring wedding venues, and had an amazing night in Cambridge, MD, with my mom and stepdad. Thinking back to this weekend always brings a smile to my face. Soon after Fabio and I got engaged, we scheduled visits with a bunch of wedding venues on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and invited some of our family members to come along. We spent the day on Saturday visiting two beautiful wedding venues (see recaps of those here) and then my mom, stepdad, Fabio and I stayed at an adorable bed and breakfast in Cambridge, MD. We wound up going out to dinner at a fun wine and cheese spot, and then bar hopping a bit throughout the cute little town. The evening ended in a bar with live music, and we had such a blast drinking and dancing with my parents. I remember having a bad headache the next day (oy) but it was worth it to have such a fun night. Then on Sunday we visited three more wedding venues, including the one we wound up going with! It was such a fun and memorable weekend.

7. Shopped for bridesmaids dresses, and had an amazing birthday brunch celebration afterword. During the weekend that I planned to celebrate my birthday, I invited my bridesmaids to come into town to try on dresses, and then coordinated a boozy brunch for us all after. We started off our morning at Bella Bridesmaids (highly recommend!), everyone ordered their dresses, and then we spent the rest of the day eating, drinking, and having fun! What a blast!

I also have to mention that my friends Catrina and Britt stayed with me for a few days leading up to this weekend, which was also so much fun. It brought me back to our college days!

6. Met Fabio’s extended family in Colombia, and had them teach me how to salsa dance (among other things). Visiting Colombia earlier this year was such a blast, and I still can’t get over how welcoming Fabio’s extended family was. While we had a really nice time exploring Medellin (touring a coffee farm was really cool, as was seeing Penol & Guatape), the highlight for me was the weekend that we spent in a huge finca (farm house) with all of Fabio’s relatives. While there, we hosted a big party celebrating our engagement and Fabio’s sister and brother-in-law’s one year anniversary. That party was a BLAST and I loved learning to salsa dance with everyone. I wish we could go back and do it all over again!

5. Continuing on with the Colombia theme, I loved visiting the beautiful city of Cartagena with Fabio’s family and our good friends Jojo and Jadd! Cartagena was a beautiful place, and we had a blast going on a boat tour, exploring an old fort, and going out to the bars with our friends to watch a Colombia soccer game. What an amazing experience! There was lots of salsa dancing in Cartagena too, haha!

4. Started a new job. This year I made a big move for my career and switched to a new job with a higher salary, bigger responsibilities, and a fancy new title. I’m still doing what I love – communications and PR for a health-focused nonprofit – but this was a big switch for me and has been challenging and rewarding so far. I know this move was the right thing to do and I am so grateful the opportunity I’ve been given. Now I just have to keep grinding!

3 and 2. Celebrated two amazing engagement parties. Where do I even begin with these? First Aunt CC and Uncle Steve threw us an incredible engagement party in NYC in April, and then my mom and stepdad threw us a second one in July. I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am for their generosity. Both of these parties were some of the best memories I have – EVER! – and I am so appreciative of my family.

1. Bought a house. Eeeek!! Yep, the biggest highlight for me in 2016 was becoming a homeowner! Fabio and I are so happy (and lucky) to own a 2.5 bedroom, 2 bathroom, town house in the heart of Ballston, just two blocks from the metro. It’s a big responsibility and needs a bit of work, but we’re up to the challenge! Yay!

Phew! What a year, right? Geez, when did I become such an adult?

If nothing else, these posts always remind me what an incredible life I have, and encourage me to spend a few minutes every day being grateful. Thank you to all of you who have been a part of it!!

Question of the day: What was the highlight of your 2016?

 Posted by on January 6, 2017
Dec 122016
 

Hey friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Mine was so much fun and included lots of fun time with friends in New York City. Here’s a recap!

Friday

Fabio and I took the bus up to the big apple on Friday evening with our friends Megan and JR. It was a nice quick trip up and we arrived in NYC by around 11:30. Not too shabby!

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Fabio and I had planned to stay at Aunt CC and Uncle Steve’s apartment on the Upper West Side, and we decided it made the most sense for Megan and JR to join us there. Thanks for hosting us, CC and Steve! After a very fast trip on the subway, we had arrived at their cozy apartment. 🙂

We spent some time chatting on the couch before we decided it was time for bed. We knew we had a busy day ahead of us!

Saturday

On Saturday morning, we popped open a bottle of champagne that CC and Steve had left for us in the fridge. They are just the BEST! Thank you, CC and Steve!

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After getting ourselves ready for the day, we walked over to our favorite Upper West Side bakery: Levain. Their cookies are out of this WORLD, so we picked up a bunch to take to our friends’ place downtown. We snacked on some on the way down, and we all agreed they were incredible. Wow! They never disappoint.

Before long, we had arrived on the Lower East Side where we met up with our friends for brunch!

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Vic and Megan hosted us and had all kinds of goodies including French toast casserole, ham and egg cups, bagels, and cider sangria. Yum!

We spent the next few hours catching up! Nothing beats time with your best friends.

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This group was a mix of my home friends and college friends, plus our significant others, so it was a ton of fun!

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Eventually a group of us decided to walk around see some holiday sights, so we ventured out into the cold. We walked over to Union Square which had turned into a fun Christmas market!

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There were lots of festive decorations and shops, and even though we didn’t buy anything we had a blast just walking around.

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I’ve been friends with these ladies since first grade (Hana), middle school (Bianca) and high school (Sam)!

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I was so happy Fabio came with us for all the weekend festivities too. Love him! <3

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Then our walk took us over to a cute gingerbread house! There was a huge line to go inside – we still aren’t sure what you do in there – but we decided to skip the line and just take a picture out front. It was still fun!

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After that, we walked over to Hana’s apartment and got ready for dinner. During this time we sipped on some wine, did each other’s makeup, and curled our hair. I always love these moments with my friends! (The boys were troopers and sat on the couch talking about sports. Typical.)

Once we were ready, we hopped in a cab and went over to Puglia, a SUPER fun Italian restaurant in Little Italy.

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Puglia is great for groups (there were lots of birthdays being celebrated), and each person pays $65 for bottomless beer and wine plus family-style Italian food for 3 hours.

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The food was really tasty, and of course we enjoyed all the wine.

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After we were done eating, a male and female singer came around singing popular songs like Sweet Caroline and Christmas carols. Everyone in the restaurant sang and clapped along, and it was so fun!

Then came the real fun: the man and woman sang this song that they called “the napkin song” where everyone is supposed to stand up on their chairs and wave their napkins around in the air.

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This is SUCH a weird concept but it’s a blast! The song was really simple so everyone could easily sing along to it, and it was just so fun seeing everyone in the restaurant climb on their chairs to wave their napkins around in the air.

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What a fun idea!!

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They wound up playing the napkin song a bunch of times, and it was totally stuck in our heads for hours afterwords. (In fact it’s still in my head now…)

This place was easily the highlight of the weekend! In fact we had so much fun that we decided we want to play the napkin song at our wedding before everyone gets on the dance floor. Haha! I’m sure half our guests will be totally confused, but the group that came out to this dinner should get a kick out of it. 🙂

After dinner we wound up going out to a bar for lots of dancing! A bunch of Fabio’s friends met up with us, and it was great to see them. Like always, it was a blast!!

Sunday

On Sunday morning a small group of us met up at Big Daddy’s for some much-needed post-drinking-and-dancing food. 😉

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I wound up getting a burger and a milk shake which totally hit the spot. Bianca got this fun birthday cake milkshake which came with a candle and rainbow sprinkles! How fun!

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While at lunch we couldn’t stop talking about how ridiculous the restaurant had been the night before and how we had such a blast waving our napkins around in the air. So fun!

After lunch we hopped on the bus and headed back home. We got lucky with traffic again and were home in no time!

As soon as we got home we drove over to pick up our little furry friend! He had a blast with his new BFF Tilly while we were away.

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Thank you so much to everyone who made this amazing weekend possible, from Jojo and Jadd who watched Jack for us to CC and Steve for allowing us to stay at their apartment to all the friends who came out to have fun with us. We had so much fun and couldn’t have done it without you!! I love you all!

Question of the day: Would you stand on your chair and wave your napkin around at a restaurant?

 Posted by on December 12, 2016
Dec 092016
 

Helloooo, and happy Friday to you! Is everyone ready for the weekend?

I know I am. Tomorrow evening (it’s Thursday night as I’m typing this), I’ll be hopping on a bus to NYC with Fabio and our friends, Megan and JR! Like last year and the year before, we wanted to plan a weekend trip up to the Big Apple to celebrate the holidays with some of our very best friends.

This year I’ll be spending time with my best friends from high school (Bianca, Hana, and Sam) as we as my best friends from college (known as Sloppytown or The Gurlays). I can’t wait for us all to be reunited again!

Eeek!

Before I can dive into the weekend fun though, let’s talk about some of the things that made me smile this week with my usual Favorite Things Friday post! Feel free to play along in the comments below and let me know what you were loving this week.

Favorite Purchase

A while back, my friend Cait raved to me about her new favorite cookbook, Cravings by Chrissy Teigen. At the time I had just bought Eating in the Middle, a cookbook by Andie Mitchell, and so I raved back about that one.

Then my mom got me the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook for my birthday, and I realized how ridiculously happy it makes me to read a new cookbook.

I know they might not be for everyone – certainly the Internet has changed the way most people find recipes – but there is something about flipping through the pages of a book with beautiful glossy photographs and flagging recipes that I know I want to make in the future. It also makes meal planning a lot easier because I can just look back at the pages I’ve bookmarked when it’s time to select a recipe.

So, last week when I saw Chrissy Tiegen’s cookbook included on a holiday gift guide I was reading, I decided to treat myself to it.

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As predicted, it made me way too happy as I sat on the couch flipping through the pages.

I’ve already made two of the recipes from the book: the veggie stew and the cobb salad. Both were incredible! Admittedly Fabio was skeptical about both dishes (veggie stew??? “Just” a salad for dinner???) but even he agreed that they were both a hit. Yay!

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Anyway, all three of the cookbooks I mentioned above have amazing recipes in them, so if you’re looking for a gift to give a foodie in your life I definitely recommend them!

Favorite View

On Wednesday morning, Fabio, Jack, and I drove over to the National Mall to meet our friend Dan for a running date! Sadly we weren’t able to connect with Dan – he didn’t bring his phone with him and after waiting for him in our agreed upon spot for 10 minutes we just decided to start running. (When we talked to him later he said he waited for us for about 10 minutes too, so we still don’t know what happened!) Anyway, we had a nice little family run on the National Mall and got to enjoy quite the views!

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I love that we got to see the National Christmas tree!

It was quite cold and gray out on Wednesday, but on our way home we got to enjoy a nice pink sunrise. Too bad it wasn’t like that while we were running!

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In other workout news, I took not one but two great bootcamp classes with Anne this week via ClassPass (<– affiliate link for $30 off!). Now that Anne isn’t training for any races, she’s planning to take more bootcamp classes with me during this week. This is fantastic news for me because having a workout buddy keeps me accountable (plus, it’s always fun to chat with her during class). Hooray!

Favorite Treat

I know I mentioned this on Wednesday, but the peppermint chocolate sandwich cookies from Giant are so freaking delicious and addicting. I am thinking of buying more when we finish this box…and I NEVER buy cookies. Help!

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Favorite Spirit

It’s the mooooooost wonderful time of the year. I love all things holiday, and there were a bunch of holiday related sights and events this week that made me smile.

First, there is ABC Family’s (now called Free Form??) Christmas lineup. The other night Fabio was out at a work holiday party so I wound up watching The Santa Claus and then Elf, which are two of my all-time favorite movies. I think I’ve seen them both way too many times (especially the Santa Claus which I basically watched on repeat as a kid) but they never get old to me.

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Then there’s our fireplace, which I think is so cozy and cute right now with the little stockings. Plus there’s nothing better than a warm fire when it’s cold out! Fabio’s gotten really good at building the fires too.

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Lastly, holiday cards started arriving in the mail this week from our friends and family! These make me so happy and I love displaying them on the Christmas tree. Here’s a cute one from Jess and Erick! Miss you guys! <3

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Favorite New Friend

Our friends Jojo and Jadd are watching Jack for us this weekend while we’re in New York, so earlier this evening we dropped him off at their house. They recently adopted an adorable pup named Tilly, and Jack and Tilly were instant BFFs. Yay! I’m so happy to know he’ll be in good hands while we’re gone. 🙂

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Thanks again for watching him, guys!

Alright friends, that’s all I have for you today. Have a wonderful weekend!

Question of the day: What made you smile this week?

 Posted by on December 9, 2016
Oct 312016
 

Hey friends! Happy Halloween! Is anyone going trick-or-treating tonight? We have a couple of friends coming over to carve pumpkins (nothing like waiting until the last minute…) and help us give out candy, so that should be fun! Other than though we really didn’t celebrate Halloween over the weekend; instead we focused on Fabio’s birthday!

Friday

I got to work from home on Friday (always a nice treat!) and Fabio came home from work a little early, so we enjoyed an extra long evening walk with Jack. It was such a beautiful evening and the leaves are really starting to show their fall colors. 🙂

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When we got back home, I noticed that the bunnies have really done a number on our pumpkins. The small one looks even worse than this now; they ate all the way through it!! Sigh.

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The rest of Friday evening was spent running errands and cleaning the house. Phew – what a wild Friday night. 😉

Saturday

On Saturday morning, Fabio’s sister, Diane, and brother-in-law, Alex, came over. Once they arrived, we headed into DC for a brewery crawl! Our first stop of the day was DC Brau. Fabio and I really like the beer from DC Brau, so we were excited to check it out.

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#AllThePlaid

DC Brau felt very hipster to us, as it was located in a big warehouse and had lots of board games available for patrons. While we waited for our free brewery tour to start at 1 p.m., we played a couple games of Hungry, Hungry Hippos! I think we enjoyed playing this game a little too much, and I’m pretty sure we annoyed everyone else who was hanging out in the brewery with our antics. Oops! It was so fun!

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Soon enough, it was time for the tour! We learned all about DC Brau including how they make their beers, where their beer is served (I think it’s served in five different states?), how they can their beer, etc. It was pretty cool!

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Midway through the tour a bunch of our other friends arrived! They heard the rest of the tour with us, and then we all enjoyed sampling the different beers. So fun!

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After hanging out at DC Brau for a little while longer, we grabbed some ubers and headed over to Right Proper Brewing Company (the actual brewery, not the restaurant in Shaw) for our second brewery tour of the day!

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We all decided we liked the atmosphere of Right Proper better – it was really nicely decorated with cool murals on the walls – but the beer was better at DC Brau. One good thing about Right Proper was that they had a pop-up food stand from Pizzeria Paradiso. Yum! With all that beer, I was happy to have some food in my belly.

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Right Proper’s tour kicked off at 4:00 p.m., so we had a good time hanging out with our friends in the meantime. Can you tell we had a plaid theme going on in lieu of Halloween costumes? Haha!

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Anyway, the tour at Right Proper was another good one, and after that, we hopped in an uber over to our third stop of the day: Atlas Brew Works! Atlas was probably our favorite stop of the day, and we loved the atmosphere of the brewery as well as the fact that dogs were allowed. We had a great time playing with a yellow lab puppy inside! We will definitely be back here with Jack.

Sadly a bunch of Fabio’s friends had to head back to Baltimore around this time, but more of our friends arrived to keep the celebration going. Here I am with my old coworkers, Jojo and Brittany! It was so nice hanging out with them. 🙂

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A little later on my cousin Yasi and her boyfriend Tom joined us for the festivities as well. What a fun group!

We also saw plenty of silly Halloween costumes while we were out, including these two muppets. Haha! So intense.

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Our last brewery stop of the day was at Bardo, but honestly it was not our favorite spot and we didn’t stay for too long. I think maybe since the sun had gone down it lost some of its charm? Oh well, I’m glad we gave it a shot.

Anyway, it was such a fun day and I’m so glad Fabio’s birthday celebration went off without a hitch! I never realized how nerve-wracking it can be to plan such a big event! Phew!

Sunday

On Sunday, our friend Jason came over! He ran the Marine Corps Marathon in the morning (anyone else run it?) and he did amazingly well. He is so fast – he ran it in 3 hours and 30 seconds! Go Jason! He was bummed because apparently this is third time running a marathon at that exact pace; he can’t seem to break his record! But he said since it was a hilly course and the weather was unseasonably warm, he was still happy with his time.

We spent most of the day hanging around the house and dressing Jack up in his University of Maryland Terrapins costume. 🙂

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And, being the good friends that we are, we put Jason to work even though he’d just ran a marathon! Haha! 😉 We needed a hand getting our futon up into the loft, so we called our friend Ciro to come over and help as well. With the four of us, we were able to get the futon up there in no time. Yay!!! (So different from last time Fabio and I attempted this on our own…)

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Then Jason, Fabio and I headed out to World of Beer for dinner. I got a buffalo chicken wrap with grilled chicken and kale coleslaw on the side. Yum!

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Overall I would say it was the perfect end to a really fun weekend. Thank you to all our amazing friends and family who came out to help us celebrate Fabio’s birthday!

Question of the day: Are you dressing up for Halloween? What are you wearing?

 Posted by on October 31, 2016
Jul 222016
 

Hey there! I’m back today with the very last recap of our trip to Colombia. These posts have been so fun to write and I’m sad they’re coming to an end. If you missed any of the first recaps you can find those here.

When we last left off, we had just wrapped up an awesome boat ride to see the Rosario Islands. When we got back we rested for a bit and then headed up to our rooftop to enjoy the beautiful view.

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I could get used to this!

For dinner we made the walk down the street to La Perla, a seafood spot that had great reviews online.

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We ordered a delicious tuna tartare dish to start and had no problem gobbling up every bite.

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We also got an order of the ceviche, of course! Cartagena is famous for its ceviche, and this one did not disappoint. With the steamy temperatures outside, I can understand why the locals love eating this dish so much. It was so refreshing!

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For my entree I ordered one of the fish specials, which was incredibly fresh and likely caught that day. It was perfectly cooked and served on a bed of mushroom and spinach risotto. Delicious!

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After dinner we decided we wanted some dessert, so we strolled over to Mila, a cute dessert spot I had read about online. Mila is decorated with funky chicken decor and has a substantial dessert menu with tons of delicious options.

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There is also a huge display case where you can take a look at the desserts they have, and I was practically drooling over all of them.

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They even had a cake iced in gold frosting! How fun.

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We wound up getting an amazing chocolate cake that our waitress recommended, and it reminded me of a cross between a fudgy brownie and cake. Holy cow, was it delicious.

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I think it might have been one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had (sorry mom!). The fact that it came with a chocolatey gold truffle on the top didn’t hurt either. 🙂

Diane, Alex and Karen also ordered a couple of chocolate cakes which we sampled, but I thought ours was the best.

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We were all pretty full by this point so we packed the rest of our cake to go. It was so nice to snack on during the remainder of our stay!

Definitely check out La Perla and Mila if you’re ever planning a trip to Cartagena; I can’t recommend them enough! (Don’t get the coffee at Mila though, as it wasn’t very good.)

After dessert we headed back to our Air BnB and debated between going to bed or going out. We were all exhausted and were tempted to stay in, but we knew we only had a couple of nights in Cartagena and really wanted to make the most of them. We turned on some music, drank some of the famous Colombian aguardiente, and then we were ready to go!

We decided to check out Bazurto Social Club, a salsa dancing spot that was both recommended to us by Fabio’s sister Karen who had been to Cartagena once before and one of you! Thank you for the recommendation!

We obviously needed to stop to take pictures with the cutout in front of the club. Fabio makes a good Colombian lady, don’t you think?

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We spent the rest of the night drinking more aguardiente and dancing! I definitely improved my salsa dancing skills during this trip, and Diane even said I moved from beginner to intermediate. Woohoo!

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So much fun. 🙂

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The next day we slept in a bit, had a delicious home-cooked breakfast courtesy of the housekeeper who came with the Air BnB (she made the most delicious fresh juices every morning), and then headed out!

On our walk we passed by lots of cool street vendors selling everything you could think of. I thought this fruit stand was especially beautiful!

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Our plans for the day included a trip to the old military fort in Cartagena, San Felipe de Barajas Castle.

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Originally built in 1536, this fort was used to protect the old city of Cartagena from international pirates. At the time Cartagena was colonized by the Spanish, who used the port city to export all the goods out of South America. You can imagine how prosperous this area was back then, since everything that was grown and mined in South America had to travel out of a port city like Cartagena to go back to Europe.

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The Spanish had to have a good hold on the city to keep “pirates” (aka English, Portuguese, French, etc.) from trying to take over the city. We obviously know they were successful since people in Cartagena speak Spanish instead of one of the other languages!

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Once we arrived at the fort, we climbed to the top to meet up with a tour guide who did an amazing job of explaining different details of the fort to us. I would highly recommend this tour for anyone who is interested in hearing a bit of history about the city!

The views from the top were also pretty great.

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Our tour guide then took us around the fort to show us all sorts of booby traps and tricks that were set up to protect it from any enemies.

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It was a lot of fun!

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Overall we had a great time on the tour and the hours flew by.

We also made sure to take a picture in the big bronze shoes outside the fort, which is a more modern art piece that’s dedicated to the hard working lower-class people in Cartagena.

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After all that walking we were hungry! We hopped in a cab to take us over to La Mulata, another fun seafood spot that had rave reviews online.

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First off, we enjoyed some complimentary fish soup and then I ordered a delicious coconut lemonade drink that was out of this world (Fabio got mango). The drinks cooled us right off after walking around in the super hot and humid weather. 🙂

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Then it was time to eat! I ordered a seafood stew that came with huge hunks of lobster. It was really good, but the coconut rice stole the show.

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La Multa was also a great pitstop for tourists since they had free wifi and iPhone chargers that you could borrow to recharge while you ate. Awesome!

Then we spent the rest of the day walking around the Walled City!

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Cartagena is so cute and we all loved the charming old architecture.

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And the bougainvillea everywhere!

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After our walk we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then got ready for another fun night out.

While I was getting ready I got a text from our friends Jadd and Jojo saying that they thought they could see our rooftop from their own Air BnB’s rooftop across town. It turns out they were right, and we wound up waving to each other from across the city. Can you see the two little blips on top of a square beige building on the left side of this photo – near a random tall vertical line (tower?) thing? That’s them. Haha!

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Then they came over along with some of their friends to join us for drinks before the Colombia soccer game!

Soccer is a huge deal in Colombia and they happened to be playing the USA, so we made a fun night out of it.

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That means, of course, more aguardiente!

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Before long the game was starting so we headed over to a nearby bar to watch it. Every single bar was playing the game, so we had no trouble finding a spot.

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Go Colombia! (And USA…)

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Truthfully I can’t remember who won (we ladies were way less interested in the game) but I do remember when the game was over it was salsa time!

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After the game we kept the fun going – it was our last night of vacation after all – and we wound up on a rooftop bar right near Plaza de los Coches (I forget the name!). It was a lot of fun and we had a blast with our little group.

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🙂

We ended the evening back at Bazurto Social Club, and then finally we headed home. Phew!

The next day was travel day, and were all sad to be ending our trip.

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It sure was fun!

Question of the day: Have you ever tried salsa dancing?

 Posted by on July 22, 2016
Jul 132016
 

Hello there! Today I’m back with the second to last recap of our trip to Colombia. If you missed the first few posts, you can find them here!

I actually thought this was going to be the last recap, but when I dumped all my pictures into this post I realized it was way too long, and we had so much fun in Cartagena that I didn’t want to rush through it.

When we left off, we had just climbed to the top of Guatape and spent our last night in Medellin. The very next morning, Fabio’s dad, two sisters, brother-in-law, and our friends Jojo and Jadd all joined us on a quick flight to Cartagena, Colombia!

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Cartagena is on the northern coast of Colombia and is located on the Caribbean sea. As soon as we landed, we were smacked in the face with the heat and humidity. Cartagena is the hottest place I’ve ever been, and I’ve been to lots of Caribbean countries!

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Cartagena is divided into two distinct sections: one with huge white skyscrapers that look like Miami and the other with adorable colonial-style buildings in the walled city. All the research I had done ahead of time recommended spending the most time in the walled city, so that’s what we did!

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The other area with the skyscrapers is frequented more by celebrities and there’s a lot of fancy hotels and condos there, but we wanted to stay in the quainter old town instead. I’m so glad we did because it was absolutely beautiful!

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The architecture reminded me a lot of New Orleans, and I loved all the balconies with wrought-iron details and flowers spilling over the side.

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What a beautiful place!

After a quick cab ride from the airport, we arrived at our Air BnB which was right in the heart of the old city and walkable to everything.

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It was a huge apartment on the top floor of a building, and even included a cute balcony where we could watch people pass by on the street below. Plus, it had air conditioning which was very helpful in this hot climate!

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After dropping off our bags and taking a quick shower (we all showered multiple times a day in Cartagena because it was so hot!) we set out to explore the town.

First up: lunch! We walked down the street to El Bistro, a fun spot with a dry-erase menu featuring the latest fresh fish options of the day. Since all the food was so fresh (I’m sure it was caught that morning), there were limited quantities of each item available. Once something ran out for the day, it was erased from the board. So fresh!

I wound up getting a lobster dish, which was incredible and got me really excited for all the seafood I was going to eat in Cartagena.

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After lunch, we spent a few hours walking around!

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All of the streets were so cute and I was so impressed with how well Cartagena preserved its history and culture through the architecture. I’m sure it would have been easy to knock down these buildings and build more high-rises, but I’m so glad they didn’t.

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At one point, we stopped to take pictures in front of a giant elaborate door. There were unique doors all over the walled city, but this one was especially imposing.

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After I took this picture, the owner of the building said we could come in to explore the house!

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Apparently this house was once owned by Sir Francis Drake, an English sea captain (or pirate, as he was known in Colombia) who tried to take over Cartagena. Obviously he didn’t succeed, since the people in Cartagena speak Spanish and not English. 😉

His house was absolutely beautiful, and had a small pool inside the courtyard.

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The house has 11 bedrooms and can sleep approximately 25 people, and we were lucky enough to get a private tour of the whole house, including its two rooftops. Apparently the house is very popular with bachelor and bachelorette parties, so Diane (Fabio’s sister and one of my bridesmaids) and Alex (Fabio’s brother-in-law and one of his groomsmen) went into planning mode to get us any details we would need in case we want to have our parties there (separately, of course). Haha!

The house also comes with a resident toucan named Francois, so there’s that.

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He was so cute!

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Soon enough it was time to leave the beautiful house and continue wandering through the streets.

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We found ourselves at an amazing coffee shop with an extensive selection of books to buy!

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Diane was telling me how her favorite author is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a nobel-prize winning author who lived in Cartagena and used the city as the setting for some of his books. I actually had one of his books – Love in the Time of Cholera – on my reading list, so when we saw it in the store Diane bought it for me as a souvenir!

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I actually finished reading it last week, and I loved reading such a beautiful story that took place in the city we visited. It was an amazing book! Thank you, Diane!

We wound up spending the rest of the evening relaxing in our Air BnB and enjoying the beautiful rooftop view.

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Day 2

The next morning we were up early to get ready for a fun boat day! Clearly we were excited and broke out some musical instruments that Fabio’s dad got us.

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Then it was boat time! We met up with Jojo and Jadd and a few of their friends who were planning to come on the boats with us. Then we walked over to the docks!

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Booking the boat was a bit of a pain, and I am so thankful we had Fabio’s dad with us for this part! I had read online that the best way to reserve a boat is to head down to the docks in the morning, but I was warned that there was a lot of haggling involved and that you have to work hard to make sure you’re getting a fair deal. Well this wound up being a huge understatement because Fabio’s dad wound up having to haggle a LOT between two boat companies to make sure we didn’t get ripped off. Phew! Definitely have someone with you who can speak Spanish if you ever try this, since this would have been way over my head if I was traveling alone.

Finally we found our way onto a private boat and set off! Our plan was to stop by the Rosario Islands and Playa Blanca Beach, and get some snorkeling in as well.

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Byyyye, Cartagena!

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After half an hour of boating, we stopped off at a fun little island that the boat company owned that had flamingos, parrots, a water slide, and bathrooms (ok, that’s the main reason we stopped there).

Obviously Fabio and I had to check out the water slide.

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Whee!

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Then we boated out a little further and it was snorkel time!

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We hopped off the boat in a shallow area to arrange our snorkel gear, and then swam out with one of the guides to the area where the coral reef and fish were.

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Cheese!

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While it wasn’t the best snorkeling I’ve ever done (that happened in Bermuda!) it was still a lot of fun and we saw some cool fish!

Plus I got to hold hands with this guy while we swam. 🙂

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After snorkeling, our boat took us over to Playa Blanca Beach! This beach has lots of little huts where you can buy lunch or a drink, plus some fun little stands selling jewelry and other souvenirs.

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We were just happy to be on a beach!

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Yay!!

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As soon as we were all off the boat, we sat down to lunch which was included in our fare for the boat ride/snorkeling adventure. It was so fresh!

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Ahh, lunch with a view!

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After lunch our group decided to grab some fun drinks! I had a coco loco (or something) and it definitely hit the spot!

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Then we took our drinks for a walk along the beach, which was lovely!

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While we walked we stumbled across a guy from Medellin who was selling really nice jewelry (we all bought some bracelets) and…he had a bunch of puppies!

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He told us how there are a lot of puppies/dogs on Playa Blanca, but the people take really good care of them and get them all their shots for flees and ticks.

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They were so adorable and I could have sat in the sand all afternoon playing with them.

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I especially loved the little black one who reminded me of Jack!

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Eventually it was time for us to head back to the boat, where we passed around a bunch of beers.

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Clearly the sun wore us all out because a bunch of us took a nap on the way back. 😉

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Before long we had made it back to Cartagena! Woohoo!

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Overall we had a great time on the boat, and I would definitely recommend this day trip to anyone visiting Cartagena. It was one of the highlights from our trip!

More adventures to come…

Question of the day: Have you ever been snorkeling?

 Posted by on July 13, 2016
Jul 052016
 

Hey, hey! I hope you all had a wonderful fourth of July! I had an extra long weekend due to a flex day at work, which I definitely needed since we moved out of our apartment and into the town house!

Friday

On Friday morning, I woke up relatively early (for a day off) and headed straight to the DMV to switch my driver’s license and license plates over to Virginia. Luckily the lines weren’t too long, and I was driving away with my new plates by 10:30 am. Not bad at all!

When I got back to the apartment, my mom was there waiting for me! She had driven over to help us pack, which was a HUGE help. Meanwhile, Fabio loaded up the car for another trip over to the town house. My dad met him there with another load of stuff he’d been storing for us in his basement, which again was so nice and helpful.

My dad also gave us these cute F & C lights as a housewarming present. Aren’t they cute?

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I need to get some batteries for the & sign and a new lightbulb for the top of the C, but I can’t wait to use these cute little signs in our new place. 🙂

After working for a while we all met up for a quick lunch at Liberty Tavern, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how awesome my parents are for driving over to help us move. They are the best!

Fabio and I spent the rest of the day moving more stuff over in the car, as well as making two trips to Target and a stop at Home Goods. Phew! It was a busy day.

Saturday

Saturday was our big moving day! First thing in the morning, Fabio and I headed over to UHAUL to pick up our moving truck.

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Then we drove the truck over to the apartment where our friends Jojo, Jadd, Claire, and Kevin were waiting for us! After a bunch of trips down the freight elevator, we had the truck fully loaded except for a few small items (one of which was Jack).

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Yep – Jack got to ride shot gun in the truck right next to Fabio. Haha!

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Claire and Kevin helped us unpack the truck along with my stepsister Maggie and her boyfriend Nick (they had arrived as we were packing up the truck) so we got everything unloaded in no time. Claire and Kevin had to leave shortly after unpacking, but Maggie and Nick hung around for a celebratory lunch! We walked over to our favorite Mexican place, Uncle Julio’s where I enjoyed some delicious tacos.

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Yum!

After Maggie and Nick left, Fabio and I continued packing along with some help from our next set of visitors – Fabio’s sister Diane and brother-in-law, Alex! They helped us make some great progress in unpacking boxes and organizing the town house.

Of course, we may have procrastinated a bit…

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…but all in all we made great headway!

I just have to say how appreciative I am to all the friends and family who helped us move. We couldn’t have done this without you guys! <3

Sunday

Sunday morning was spent clearing out the last loads of boxes/miscellaneous items from the apartment (my dad helped us again with his big car!) before we drove over to my grandparents’ house for a break! My aunt, uncle, and cousin were in town from Arizona for the 4th of July, so we figured it was worth taking a break from the move to go see them.

It was kind of a crappy day outside – overcast and a little chilly – but it was still beautiful on the water (as usual).

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🙂

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We wound up going for a quick boat ride despite the chilly weather, and it was a lot of fun! (Having some adult beverages didn’t hurt either…)

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Afterwords, grillmaster Fabio cooked us up some burgers and hot dogs.

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For dessert we had homemade chocolate cake (and wine!) and I was definitely in my happy place. Ah, this break was definitely needed.

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I’m so glad we made the trip over to my grandparents’ house and got to spend some time relaxing with family on this busy moving weekend!

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Monday

On Monday, the fourth of July, we were back at it with the unpacking. And boy, did we have a lot to conquer.

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Yikes!

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Luckily we made a lot of progress and decided to take a break from unpacking to run some errands. It was another crappy day out and rained almost the whole day, so I didn’t mind spending my 4th of July at Lowe’s and Best Buy. #homeownerproblems

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At least my TOMS were patriotic!

Then we stopped by the apartment to finish cleaning up and turn in our keys!

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*Sigh* I’m going to miss this kitchen.

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We also had half a bottle wine in the fridge and I didn’t feel like packing it, soooo I drank it. From the bottle because we didn’t have any cups. Just keepin’ it classy over here!

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The rest of the evening was spent pretending like it wasn’t the fourth of July and avoiding social media; we didn’t really want to see all the fun BBQs and fireworks that we were missing out on in favor of assembling blinds and closet organizers. 😉

Even though we might not have had the most fun or exciting July 4, I feel so incredibly fortunate to have a home of my own! Being a homeowner is a huge step for us, and we enjoyed this long weekend in our own way. I fell incredibly grateful for everything that’s happening in my life right now, even if it does mean spending holiday weekends surrounded by cardboard boxes and bubble wrap.

Question of the day:
Did you see fireworks this holiday weekend?

Even though we didn’t get to actually sit down and watch any fireworks, we actually saw plenty from the car as we drove around this weekend!

 Posted by on July 5, 2016
Jun 152016
 

Hi friends! I’m back today with another recap of our adventures in Colombia! In case you missed it, you can get caught up with my first post about exploring Medellin and my second post about touring a Colombian coffee farm. Today we’re talking about the long weekend we spent at a finca, which translates to “farm” but is basically a villa that large groups can rent. We wound up spending three days at the finca with all Fabio’s family, and we had an absolute blast!

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Also I wasn’t kidding when I said there were about 50 family members with us – we were a huge group!

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And you know what was even better? Our good friends Jojo and Jadd came with us!! Jojo has a couple of high school friends living in Medellin right now, so when we told her we were going to Colombia for vacation and asked if she and Jadd wanted to come with us (months ago!) they happily agreed! It was awesome to have them join us at the finca for part of the time too. Having some other “gringos” around definitely made the experience better for me! Plus these two are so much fun. 🙂

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The finca itself featured a huge house (it slept 50) plus a pool, cabana area, and outdoor kitchen. It was beautiful!

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There were also a few resident animals running around, including some cute pups…

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…and a bunch of peacocks!

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It must have been mating season because this guy extended his feathers to the female about every hour.

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So beautiful!

We arrived on Saturday and quickly unpacked our bags for some pool time!

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We had a great time splashing around in the water with all of Fabio’s cousins, who were so incredibly fun/welcoming/sweet to me.

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(That’s me above in the peach colored dress lol. Talk about awkward…)

Later in the afternoon we cracked open some beers and had fun hanging around the giant tables in the kitchen! This was so much fun and a great way to get to know everyone better.

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At around 4:00 pm, Fabio and his sister Diane had an announcement to make! Diane and Alex were celebrating their one year anniversary, and it was a little more than a year out to our own wedding, so we decided to throw a surprise party for everyone in Colombia who likely won’t be able to attend our wedding and weren’t able to make it to Diane and Alex’s. We had planned everything way in advance and even spent some time in the afternoon decorating the cabana with string lights we had gotten from Target before our trip, so it was really nice to see all the cousins, aunts, and uncles so surprised and excited by our announcement. Who doesn’t like a surprise party?!

We told everyone to meet under the cabana at 6:00 pm, and I was so happy to see that our string lights looked perfect under there!

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Then everyone sat down in a little designated seating area we had arranged and waited for the party to start.

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At a little after 6:00 when everyone was gathered, we turned off all the lights to announce our biggest surprise: a live band! The band members walked up to the cabana playing their instruments, and then when they were fully assembled we turned the lights back on so everyone could see them.

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Here was the reaction when people realized it was a live band and not just more music playing from the stereo we had been using so far in the trip.

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Fabio, Diane, Alex, and I had another surprise up our sleeves though: a caterer came in to grill up a bunch of chicken, meat, and pork for everyone! Once again, everyone was really surprised that we brought food in and were so appreciative.

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The rest of the night was dedicated to dancing!

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Once the music got started it was all salsa all the time, and Fabio’s aunts and cousins did a great job of teaching us how to dance.

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The band did an amazing job at playing all the best salsa songs (not that I would know, but Fabio’s aunts and uncles sure seemed to love it) so the energy of the party was absolutely perfect. Everyone seemed to have a great time dancing and drinking, and then running to back to their tables for little bites of the delicious BBQ here and there. I couldn’t have asked for a better party!

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Having Jojo and Jadd there was pretty amazing too. Thank you guys for coming!!

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We wound up drinking and dancing late, late into the night, and it was just SUCH a blast. This was definitely one of the highlights from the whole trip!

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(Fabio’s aunts added a few peacock feathers and glow sticks to my hair, haha!)

Sunday

The next day we awoke to a much-needed breakfast of arepas, cheese, eggs, and potato hash. Yum!

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Then we repeated the events of the day before, which included pool time and lots of chatting with the cousins!

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The boys also got in a few sweaty games of soccer while the girl cousins painted their nails and had girl talk. Typical. 🙂

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Every once in a while the peacocks would start cawing, and we’d always find them perched on random areas of the house. These are some weird animals, let me tell you!

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Later that evening, we all joined in the cabana for a white party!

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This party was much more relaxed, and we spent the evening taking pictures of the family and playing games.

Girl cousins!

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Boy cousins!

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Fabio’s immediate family, plus Alex and me!

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All of us!

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It was such a fun night, and we stayed up until nearly 4:00 am playing games like musical chairs and concentration 64, which brought me back to elementary school days! While we were all probably a little too old for these games, it was hard to find games we could play in English and in Spanish, and it actually wound up being a blast. (Especially with a little alcohol involved 🙂 haha!)

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It was such a fun evening, and I couldn’t believe when I saw how late it had gotten. We finally cleaned everything up and went to bed after 4:00 am. Yikes.

Monday

The next day started off as another pool day! The sun was so strong on Monday, and I wound up lathering myself up in so much sunscreen, but still wound up with a bit of a sunburn.

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Oh well, it’s tan now! 🙂

The entire family was in the pool on Monday to escape the heat, and we had a ton of fun squirting each other with squirt guns and having an epic splash war.

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So fun!

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Later in the day, we went on a horseback riding adventure!

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I haven’t been horseback riding since I was a little kid so I knew I was going to be pretty terrible at it, but I love animals so I was strangely calm around these big guys.

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I named mine Colby (I’m sure he had a real name, we just didn’t know what it was) and I wound up talking to him almost the whole time I was riding. Is that weird?
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We took the horses on a ride through the areas surrounding the finca, which gave us some beautiful views of the mountains.

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Colombia is so pretty!

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Once we were done riding, we took the horses out to the back of the finca where we were able to feed them mangoes. There were a ton of ripe ones on the ground, and the horses gobbled them right up! (They spit out the pits, in case you were wondering.)

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I had a lot of fun feeding them from my hand too, even though it wound up being quite messy.

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Lol!

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Shortly after that, it was time to pack our bags and leave the finca! Overall it was such an amazing weekend, and I thank Fabio’s cousins, aunts, and uncles from the bottom of my heart for making me feel so welcome in their family. I have never felt so much love and hospitality from total strangers, and I felt truly honored to be accepted into this group.

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Thank you, Echalocos! (That’s their family nickname, since loco means crazy and they proclaim that they’re all a little coocoo!)

Question of the day: Do you like horses? Would you feed a horse mangoes from your hand?

 Posted by on June 15, 2016