Tag Archives: travel

six {6} months

time flies. it absolutely does. apparently we have been married for 6 months already. WHAT?! i haven’t even taken the time to recap our WEDDING, must less everything incredible that’s happened since then.

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we’ve been to Mexico, we’ve been to Hawaii. we’ve scuba dived in the ocean. we’ve ridden bikes down a volcano on an island. we’ve worked out and laughed and cried and learned more about communication. so much about communication, that is something we will always work towards succeeding at.  each day I feel like we get better. we are both independent, strong-willed individuals and we can butt heads when we’re passionate. but that’s made for the best conversations, ever. the long hours / bottles of wine / candles-burning-conversation that i hope every couple gets to have.

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we’ve charted out a good chunk of the next couple years and surprisingly find ourselves living in my parents basement for a little bit of time while we’re in limbo. we have the world at our fingertips and I feel like we’re about to take off.

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no one told me it was going to be this good. and if they did? I wouldn’t have believed them.

Brett, you are my favorite adventurer, my teammate… I am incredibly head over heels for you boy.

all my love,

ejhw

4all images by Ash & James Photography

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something’s happening

In September, I got married. and it was the most incredible day ever. I have a lot to say about it but I’m waiting until I have one more piece… our wedding video.  As a blogger and someone interested in recording our lives in some digital form, a journal of sorts – this blog… {possibly a new domain / name some day as I transition into being on a team}… I’m basically bursting @ the seams to blog about all the details and share it in the webspace for friends & family to experience.  Some things just are worth the wait, you know? xx

In the meantime, i have a lot on my mind. And it basically has to do with what our time here on earth is made of.  Deep, I know, but get to it… and this is my blog.  A bit before we went to Hawaii (next post!), I’d been doing a lot of soul-searching.  Life is so incredibly short… what do I want to make up my time while I’m here?

My now husband (eek!), showed me this video when we were lounging on Maui and I think the world needs to watch it, if they haven’t already.  And if you have? Watch it again. And make your loved ones watch it.  Put your life into perspective and consider with what you’re spending your 24 hours each day doing.

http://youtu.be/BOksW_NabEk

Um, whoa.  I had a small internal panic attack when I watched that. Why didn’t someone show me that in high school?  Freshman year?… When we were worried about the most trivial of things, stressed-out and drama-filled with events like Prom (who let me spend so much money on those high school formals?!… easily $5K… cringe).

As an adult, I’m trying to spend a bit of time each day reading sites like Quora or watching TED videos.  To keep my brain fresh, keep it thinking.  A few days ago, I read a question posted on Quora titled, “How can I thoroughly screw up my life.” Now, that’s a pretty deep inquiry.  The answer, linked below, by Raqhav Upmanyu has many thoughts I align with.  Especially now, as I’m in this phase of contemplation; wanting to shape my life in a way that brings fulfillment / happiness / experiences.

https://www.quora.com/How-can-I-thoroughly-screw-up-my-life-1/answer/Raghav-Upmanyu?srid=hjz3&share=9f49236c

And I know this is entirely an opinion, so take everything he says with a grain of salt or whatever. But it’s a perspective I somewhat align with.  It makes me think hard about what I want to make of my time left.  He starts out saying the biggest mistake you can make is becoming a statistic and “settling for being a useless part of the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”  Me? I can’t live like that. I can’t be put through the motions and do a 9 to 5 in a cubicle and come out on the other end tired, stressed, lacking sleep, motivation and drive.  That is exactly what I would turn into.  And it’s not just in the business realm.  I found myself watching the Oscars last night. At the end of it, I thought, ‘I just wasted 3 hours on something I don’t have any interest whatsoever in.  I hadn’t seen a single movie that was nominated!? Emily, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” I could have been designing cards for my etsy business, reading the book I can’t seem to get through, laughing & connecting with my beautiful mama, sorting through yet another bin of crap I’ve saved over the years with some thought of needing it in a future time (more on that purging process later).

All in all, I want to get down on paper that today is February 29, 2016, Leap Day, an extra day for free just cause.  I’m committing to making whatever mindset I’m chasing a reality.  I want to make this life fulfilling and get everything I can out of it.  I want to do things I enjoy doing, that bring me happiness and flex my creative muscles.  I want to travel as much as possible. I want to experience everything.  I want to take chances. I want to love crazily.  I don’t want to be stressed.  I don’t want to be burnt out.  I want to be fresh +  real + alive.  I want to laugh + be optimistic + positive for 95% of my life.  And yes, this a ridiculously lofty, insane goal but why can’t I try to shoot for it? It’s worth it to me to try.

Please don’t take this post as me pointing fingers.  This is my online space to speak what’s on my mind; this is what I want to capture.  And have my kids read someday.  Hopefully they’ll think their mother was the baddest woman that ever lived who strived to make the most of her existence.

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If I could pick something, anything, that describes how I’m feeling currently.  It would be this canvas bag from @sugarboodesigns

wooza / peace / love

em j

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last day of Vancouver

legit this day happened August 16, 2015, but a TON has happened since then anddddddd here we are. I need to wrap up this last day so I can move on to everything else that I’ve been meaning to blog about. 2016, you WILL be the year I get my blogging on track. on the regular. as often as I can / want / feel the need to.

VANCOUVER, our Saturday was race day, run around, explore & finish up with a wicked float tank experience. The next morning, we slept in a little, but not too much knowing this was our last day in ‘Couve.

We woke and decided an impromptu photo shoot on the sweet roof of our airbnb was in order.  Somewhat coordinated tops and an hour later playing with the Camera Remote app on our Apple Watch’s produced these gems.

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He snagged me this simple triangle necklace at Pike’s Place back in Seattle.  Love it.

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the watch doesn’t fit well under the sleeves of this Lulu top when the thumbholes are in use… #priorities

We headed to 49th Parallel for a morning experience. I remember coming here the last few times I’ve been in town for the Lululemon Seawheeze weekend.  It’s all sorts of fantastic espresso and Lucky’s Doughnuts. On the weekends is insane. Lines out the door for this joint.  Wish there was one in Minnesota!

Any establishment with a line like that deserves to be experienced.  A garage-style door lifts up where we were sitting, fresh air when the weather wants to cooperate.

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Cool vibe and amazing peanut butter and jelly doughnuts like this one with the peanut crunchies.

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baby espresso / wild mane / wake me up

I purchase a large latte cup & saucer for a souvenir. There’s something about this blueish-teal that strikes me as necessary.

We walk around the city and explore the sights.  We have a photo shoot with the new cup and saucer. For nothing more than to kill time on a lazy Sunday afternoon in Vancouver. Reapplying more Peppermint Halo from Saje – an amazing essential oil + therapeutic shop in downtown Vancouver.

For lunch, we put our name on the list & wait another 45 minutes for a table at Medina Cafe. Now our favorite place for lunch on this side of the planet.  Gold goblets of fresh water and all.

We had the Avocado Toast (duh), Saumon Fumé and a few of their signature Liege-Style Waffles [White Chocolate Pistachio Rosewater + Salted Caramel].

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IMG_2591Everything about this spot was to die for. The bathroom had dimly lit displays nestled into the walls… their matchbox takeaways are square and the exact logo of their sign out front [obsessed, I took 3].

We slowly sauntered our way out of here and set out to explore more of the city. This was our last day, so we really wanted to take it all in!

When more directions are needed, we sit outside one of the many Starbucks available to us on every street corner (thanks!).

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We explore the art installations scattered throughout town. Old world, modern, metal & sky-high.  The sun is shining and we are traveling all over this town.  New sights, fresh air, this is the mantra of a “feeling like a million bucks” pair of Midwesterners.

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We got some Vegan Pudding & Co. from a tiny shop that took up all of 3feetwide street space between storefronts.  Be jammin’ out to your music and you might totally pass it by.  Shame. Keep your eyes open for these gems!

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I cannot remember what flavor we selected but I’ll bet all my Lululemon Vinyasa Scarves that it was the Coconut Milk & Sugar one.

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It was some sort of custardy-flany-syrupy-goodness dish and I wouldn’t hesitate to get another if given the chance. #seawheeze2016

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We get back to the airbnb to have a FaceTime chat about our upcoming wedding with The Adventures Of videography team.  A few hours of creative discussion and we are feeling very excited about our upcoming wedding video (to be delivered next week!).

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We head to Granville Island Public Market via the public bus and walk the aisles, look at art, have some snacks, talk on the river… pet the local dogs waiting for their humans.

 

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Who knows how much time passed.  We switch back to nice clothing and head to a date night.  We wanted a special spot, good food, awesome service, cool location… Yelp led us to Seasons in the Park.

The directions had us on a public transit bus for quite a while, headed somewhere into the suburban surrounding downtown Vancouver.  We got off in a large public park.  We hiked the sidewalks down, around, for what seemed like forever.  We took pictures + took our sweet time, happily enjoying a beautifully warm evening.

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We hiked a small, Mount Kilimanjaro-sized mountain to get to the restaurant.  Breaking a small sweat and feeling the burn in our quads.

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This was the first of 53 hills we climbed 🙂

Seasons on the Park has a view of all downtown Vancouver.  We were seated at a huge glass window.  As the sun set on the incredible view, you couldn’t help but feel like you were on another planet, looking at another colony, from a land far, far away. Gorgeous + galactic!

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After dinner (fantastic, not a clue what we ate… but damn was it good!)  We splurged and got espressos.  This happens rarely… who are we kidding, we’ve never gotten them before.  It seemed like a perfect idea for a day that has been one for the record books.

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Vancouver: until next time, you gorgeous city!

ejh

 

Listening to this song because I heard it on Peaky Blinders [watch it!]

 

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what a Saturday!

this ones for the books. we woke at 5:30am to hike towards Vancouver Convention Center where it’s Lululemon SeaWheeze Ground Zero.  To stretch, drop our gear bag and get ready for the run.  The weather was chilly, 60 some degrees and slightly drizzling. We were playing the game of what do we wear? What layers are needed? Knowing full well 1 mile in, we won’t want extra clothing and won’t stop sweating.
Keep in mind, neither of us trained for this one as a result of planning World’s Best Wedding.  A week ago I got turf toe in a yoga class.  Brett’s shoulders have been hurting.  His hamstring gets tight. Basically, we are a pair of hot messes and just wanted to finish the damn thing without having to drop out. Needless to say, we both finished. We both have smiles on our faces. We both are limping around the city, clearly struggling.  Don’t ask how many crosswalks we didn’t “risk it for a biscuit” because the fasterst we could go was a slow walk. 😂 (hint: more than 20)


Some key highlights from the run- on one stretch of the race, across a high bridge over the city, there were a ton of spin bikes in a row with people spinning and cheering us on as we ran past. So much energy! I half wanted to join them!  I cannot find a picture of it anywhere.  Pretend you took an entire spin class onto a high rise bridge and lined up 20-40 bikes, everyone cycling and cheering with music pumping as we ran past. You get the idea. Excellent!

The race route was great this year, the weather was perfect, the solitude on the SeaWall was glorious.  Running for miles along the SeaWall in a fog with a light drizzle, makes me feels as if I’m on the wharfs in some coastal city out east. (Never been, next trip?) 🙂

All around a great race.  We died, but it was still great!
After we met at the Digital Orca, we grabbed runner’s brunch (soy yogurt, a waffle with magical jam, cherries, grapes, and a baby quiche)

We applied a layer of Saje Peppermint Halo on every inch of the back of our legs. He gave me a stretch on the ol’ calves. We died, came back to life, and allowed a restart of about ten minutes and then laced up to head out.
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As we sloth-walked towards home. We wanted a shower and we were hungry for a real meal. Our first stop was JJ Brew, they gave free drink tickets to the SeaWheeze runners.  We both got a cup of java and split a chocolate chip cookie. It was nice to duck out of the chill for a moment, to regroup and try to find wifi.


Every little boutique is adorable, the fonts and marketing so well done.  Why don’t we have nearly the amount of awesome hidden gems in Minneapolis!?  A few blocks further we pass Nectar Juicery.  I’m a sucker for a good juice. Fruit, soy, greens, iced, I don’t care.  Me love juice. We settled, after much discussion on a bottle of their Sacred.  It was refreshing, I’m super excited to make my own juice and use the glass bottle it came it. (3 stars, they were sold out of what we wanted, and this was just so-so).

  

  
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Down the way is a little spot called, Old Faithful Shop. A cute little boutique with hand picked curiosities.  Their shop mascot is a french bulldog, named Pierre, whose outpost is a small doghouse inside one of their bookshelf tables.

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And then, B realllllllllly wanted a sandwich. Like now. Well, like yesterday. He loves a well-made sandwich. Love that about him. We had seen a few spots when exploring, and noted to visit later on. Meat & Bread was open for business and busy! A very good sign. (5 stars)

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This is his domain, so I let him order. He settled on the Porchetta and the Daily Special. The bread was sliced in front of us.  Small wood boards held the sandwiches on top of a slice of parchment paper, with little mountains of condiments. We got ours to-go.

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We walked to the grocer next door and loaded up on liquids before heading home.

We FaceTimed with our other traveler partners, my parents.  We showered and put on compression socks (glorious!). And we ate our sandwiches in the little quaint apartment we’re calling home this weekend.

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Explored their balcony in the day light.

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A slow rise to the 12th-floor gave us a chance to relax, recoup and enjoy the beautiful view.

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those white tent tops is where the Vancouver Convention Center is located!

those white tent tops is where the Vancouver Convention Center is located!

We took a nap and around evening time, headed to the Sunset Festival in Stanley Park. A chance for all the runners to get together, drink some beer, listen to awesome music, test out the trapeze, and generally have a very chill, beautiful evening.  I sported the Lululemon Vinyasa Scarf as there are clearly a million ways to get comfortable in it.  (see below) 😀

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Craving something sweet, we waited in line FOREVER, for Archimallows – artisinal, fire-torched marshmallows (3 stars), not worth the wait but we did it anyway!  Here is a pano of the view before me (the stage, the sea, the trapeze, the mallow tent, and the line (can you spot B?)

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As the sun went down, the lights came out, there is an awesome drone that shot footage during the event – the video can be seen here – a quick view of everything that went on this amazing weekend!

We beat the rush and left a bit earlier during the last set.  The shuttle took us back to Ground Zero and we walked home.  On the way, we grabbed dinner from Tacofino – probably the best place I’ve had a burrito, EVER.  B ordered the Spicy Chicken and I ordered the Vegetarian.  Mine was ON POINT!  (5 stars)

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During our trip, we tried to find something to spend our “When In Rome…” fund on, a ‘change and small bill’ jar that we save up in and then splurge on something during our adventures.  We decided to book a 1am float at Float House – the late night ones are 2.5 hours… we were excited beyond belief.

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The whole interior vibe is very calming.  Blue and purple neon lights throughout.  There are stacks of salt bags in the hallway that lines the chamber rooms.  We each had a room with a shower and our deprivation tank inside, a fluffy white towel, robe, and organic body soap and shampoo for afterwards.  They provided ear plugs (both foam and wax!).

After we were both introduced to our chambers, which each held about 850lb. of Epson salt, we said adios and rinsed before entering our tanks.  It’s a sort of indescribable experience.  I spent about 3 minutes floating on top of the water, getting calm and slowing my breathing… my head tilted back and held in place by the salt water (so dense, you float effortlessly on the surface) – it’s hard to know where the water begins and wear the surface is.

I swear, three minutes go by and the next thing I know, someone is knocking hard on my tank.  I slowly open my eyes in the pitch dark chamber and immediately think the Float House concierge is going to open my tank door while I’m on full-nudity display.  Turns out in was B.  He cracked the door open, I couldn’t hear anything as I had my wax ear plugs in and my eyes tried to adjust in the darkness with this new neon blue light shining in.  His voice reminded me of Charle Brown’s teacher, as I couldn’t understand any words with plugged ears.

Apparently I had slept through TWO 6-minute song cycles meant to wake you up.  I slept through the computer voice saying, “Your float is now completed, please exit the tank.”  The employee asked B, now 30 minutes out of the tank, to check on me and wake me up.

Three hours went by in what seemed like minutes, and yet I was so unbelievably relaxed, I felt like I was floating on earth.  Highly recommend this experience!

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Needless to say, we walked out of that Float House around 4:15am and felt like we could conquer the world.  Instead, we crashed and had the best sleep of our lives.

What an incredible Saturday,

em j

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a Lululemon adventure

Last night we pulled into the train station in Vancouver and got a taxi to take us to our AirBnB off Cordova St. It was $8 and well worth it to avoid having to walk late at night to an unknown spot that we don’t have cellular capabilities.  (Remind me to do a throw back post to the time we traveled across the Dominican Repbulic). 

We showered and slept like rocks. Then awoke at 4:45am to get to the Lululemon Seawheeze Expo.

Last year we were one of the first 100 people in line to get our hands on exclusive Lululemon Seawheeze gear.  We arrived about twenty minutes later this year, and already 1000 were in line.  Holy bananas!

Slowly the sun started to raise above the horizon.  But not after another hour of darkness, and some shut eye for Panama Jack.  

   
  The line was long, but the event was well organized this year.  A new guy-friendly corner helped appeal to the handful of boyfriend and husbands who were perhaps running in support of their ladies. A pool table and barbers giving haircuts, among other details.  Of the 10,015 runners, my guess is 75% were female.  

The inside of the expo was an insane shopping frenzy. Like wild hyenas grabbing at any and all hangers and carrying piles of exclusive Lululemon to a corner of the floor to commence the deciding between their ‘yes’ and ‘no’ piles.    

   
Ten points for this guy, digging through other peoples ‘no’ piles to find specific items. He treated it like a Supermarket Sweep game and killed it.  
  
The convention center was well decorated in typical Lulu sense. And we enjoyed all of the outdoor patio activities.  Complimentary cold brew from 49th Parallel, fresh watermelon juice, Rise Kombucha tastings, and fro-yo.  Cool art installations and the race packet pickup were also reasons to stay near the Vancouver Convention Centre and kick it for a few hours.

   
    
   
   
  We got temporary tattoos and decided to haul our Luloot back to the apartment before we searched for breakfast.  

 
Along the way, we walk past Canada Place whose hosting Anirevo : Anime Revolution 2015, an anime and Japanese convention this weekend, cosplay and anime merchandise galore. My favorite part? Seeing little nuggets like this chillin’ with their mama probably wondering WTF is going on, why people are diggin’ her weave. #precious

   
 Although, this looks like it might be a great time under different circumstances.  i.e. bottomless mimosas beforehand 😂

Arriving to our apartment is a welcome sight, as we have been pulling in less than 6 hours of sleep recently. Here is the AirBnB in nicer light.  A quaint two-bedroom apartment overlooking Gastown.

   
   
  
Perk alert : from the 12th floor of this building, we can see the tops of others. All sorts of beautiful patios to share a bottle of wine on. I counted at least three, each can take advantage of a beautiful Vancouver sunset. 

   

   
We had the patio to ourselves and quickly had a selfie shoot. Using our Apple Watch as a viewfinder for our iPhone, it was easy as can be. 

   
    
   
Sometimes it took a second to perfect, but we got the hang of it!

   
 
We did a few p extra online things and changed clothes.  The natural light of the big bedroom window was perfect, almost like my own little studio.  The outfit I chose for the evening has no less than three black and white combos, I refer to it as ‘Couver Lululemon Derelict

   
 
Late brunch was around the corner at Catch122. They serve brunch until 4pm, which I think should be a world law.  He got the Dirty Breakfast and I got the Eggs Benedict. (3.5 stars)

   
   
 

world’s best eater! he tries anything!

 
We then wandered down by the convention center. 7:30 was Sunset Yoga, and we really wanted to loosen up before tomorrow. 

   
   
At the morning expo, we found the Saje Natural Wellness booth and they gave us a 20% off coupon.  They have the best roll on greatness for headaches and tension. Last year, we learned about Peppermint Halo and now it’s our favorite: as we sipped chamomile tea, we loaded up at their store down the street.  (5 stars)

   

We stopped at Bella Gelateria, because duh. It’s one of our favorite spots to visit in all of Vancouver.  He got Whiskey Fudge + Essex Sea Salt, I got Stracciatella + Akbar Mashti (rosewater, saffron, pistachio).  (5 stars)

   
   
They won first place in the 2014 Gelato World Tour, I’d be lying if I said I regretted spending my monies here. 😏

Sunset Yoga was held inside the convention center.  We borrowed Lulu mats and calmly waited for the start of the practice. It was led by instructor Reno Munez, the guy who started the first Dharma Yoga studio in Canada. 

   

Apple Watch, Seawheeze band, one love

    

Reno stood on a table in the middle of about 500 yogis


His voice is my new inner conscious voice.  Listening to him is like watching warm honey drip slow-motion into the ocean on a cool sunny day. He has the calmest demeanor and changes the energy of the room when he speaks. #namaste

We were centered,  we were zen-like.  All is right with the world. Shout out to this guy for wanting to start practicing yoga to improve the quality of his life.

 

we may have fallen asleep, don’t tell

 
A huge ‘thank you‘ to the Saje team for gifting these You’re Awesome Yoga Kits to the yogis in attendance, attempting to achieve equilibrium. 

 

the satchel is made of yoga mat material!

 
As we returned the mats afterwards, we were handed bottles of Rise Kombucha in Lemongrass.

  
We wandered down by the Seawall and decided on a rendezvous point after the race tomorrow morning. We settled on the iconic, 25′ tall Digital Orca on the patio near the sea.

exhausted, at peace, comtemplative

  

Our AirBnB host, J, recommended Peckinpah barbecue in Gastown. We ordered takeout and people watched while we waited for a pulled pork sandwich and collard greens. (3 stars)

   

  

  

  

top knot in Gastown

  

i could not agree more

We ate on the balcony in the dark after we rode the elevator up to the apartment building. 

   
   
We finally got to sleep at midnight and will promptly regret getting to bed so late, achieving less than five hours of sleep the night before a half marathon. 

Here goes nothing,

em

Listening to 

Sipping on

Thinking about 

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hello again, Seattle

last year was such a blast at the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon, we decided to do it again.  This morning we got on a Southwest flight to first Denver and then Seattle.  Southwest lets you stream Apple Music over wifi, for free.  Flying In the clouds with access to every song out there, what’s not to love? 

  
We watched Interstellar and munched on Barbara Peanut Butter Puffins cereal.  #happybaby

Always traveling with a Lululemon Infinity Scarf, and our Bose noise-canceling. Best headphones I’ve ever bought.

  
Arrive in Seattle, get to the Link Rail and take it down to the International Station to check our bags so we can explore.

  
We head to Pike’s Place Market. Pick up some pluots and admire the beautiful, super cheap bouquets of flowers. Mama, I wish I could send them all back to you! The photo will have to suffice. 

   
 
Panama Jack was craving roasted corn as we passed their stand. Of course we had to get an ear.  Corn is the new black, such a delicious summer treat!

  
We stopped at a cute, new spot on Jackson Street, called Intrigue Chocolate Co.

  
A dapper, bearded young fellow was behind the counter.  He asked if we had time for a tasting (they do those at chocolate shops?!), to which we happily obliged. The dark chocolate truffles were infused with Basil and Peppercorn, among other things, he poured us each a glass of chamomile tea to cleanse our palate.  All were delicious, and we grabbed a few for the road. 

  
   
 
We went to michou for a late lunch, incredible sandwiches and salads.  We settled on the Sierra turkey and a handful of dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice).  Excellent, so fabulous, we wanted a bite of everything!

   
   
Downtown Seattle has some great people watching, so we spent some time meandering and enjoying the beautiful sunny afternoon.

   
 
On our way back to the train station, we stopped at Storyville Coffee for an iced brew latte. That 4:45am rise-time is catching up to us.

   
    
 
An hour and some change later, we are back at the train station and ready to roll.  

I love, love, LOVE adventures with this man.  He makes my heart smile.  We are just getting started, and I cannot wait to leave a billion footprints all over this earth. 

  
Currently riding the Amtrak train, a la Harry Potter, along the coastline up to Vancouver. 

I’m enjoying a watermelon honey stick from Pike’s Place Market while Brett plays DJ as the sun is setting out the train window. 

   
   
See you in a few hours Vancouver!

Feeling incredibly blessed,

em j

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i so excited

It has been a few weeks of engagement and a spontaneous, terrific decision to have our wedding this fall.  What are we waiting for?  I know this is right.  We both want it.  Our non-negotiables are available.  Our venue is “chosen” and just keeps getting better day after day.  Why have a year-long engagement?  Why put this off until fall of next year?  Why wait?  The time is now.

A handful of stressful nights, more than a few “what-the-heck-are-we-doing” looks to one another and then a late night planning session with B last night at Starbucks.  We’re sipping drinks and listening to bands and different ceremony songs… I had an epiphany when listening to a song I’ve pictured myself walking down the aisle to… I got goosebumps, full-body chills… I almost lost it right then and there.  I am so incredibly excited.  And terrified!

I have dreamt about designing invitations to this event.  And focusing on the fonts and the colors.  I have an idea the theme we’re headed towards and I’m confident everything will fall into place.

What an exciting adventure this is… and we still have a few months to perfect these details and make it better, or refine it, or change it altogether!  And what a freaking blessing to have incredible parents that are willing to support me and host this very special day!

add to blog planning meeting

This life is incredible!

e

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happy birthday to my fiancé

where has the time gone?  in the months since I’ve last posted, Brett and I have adventured through New Orleans for the French Quarter Festival and explored the Dominican Republic.  most importantly, that beautiful country is where he proposed and with happy tears streaming, I knew right then that this is going to be the best life ever.
today is the birth day of a man I have so much love for.  happy birthday to you and all that you have become in your time on this earth, babe.  you are insanely passionate and the hardest worker I know.  you challenge me to be better every day and your excitement for adventure equals mine.  I cannot wait to celebrate YOU on June 4th for the rest of our lives together.
I meant everything I said in your birthday note this morning and I won’t repeat it all here for the masses.
You are my favorite parter in crime and in a few short months, we will officially begin our story (this past 5 years can be the ‘foreword’ to our book)!
happy birthday to the person I cannot wait to wake up with every day for the rest of my life!
I love you to the moon,
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Round two!

We wake up with barely a hangover. Win! Refuel with a little morning java and enjoy our patio before getting ready for the day and more importantly, before our limo arrives.

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Since we already had a mug of coffee down the hatch. We figured it’s time to get the party started.… poppin’ bottles.  Before you get worried about our alcohol intake, please remember, the whole point of renting a limo for this trip was the sole fact that we planned to be inebriated.  As classy and sophisticated as we could… but definitely not sober.
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Our first stop is one that we highly recommend for those visiting the Sonoma area.
St. Francis Winery & Vineyard. We scheduled their Food & Wine Pairing experience for 11am on a Friday afternoon filled with sunshine and cool breezes.  This vineyard is built on some beautiful landscape (aren’t they all?) A very popular place for people to get married.  Gorgeous mountains in the background.
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The pairing took place inside a lovely structure, the doors open to the fresh air outside.  There were two tables positioned half-circle style with the seating on the outside of the curves.  The wine experts walked through and around as they introduced each pairing.
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Each place setting had a leather-bound portfolio with the menu details & a notepad to write tasting notes in.  I vaguely remember doodling hilarious stick figure pictures and Bob Marley quotes on mine… at one point during the experience, Brett looks over and exclaims, “My feet feel like cotton!”  He is entirely enjoying himself, on top of the dosage of DayQuil (for his head cold) taken 30 minutes prior.  It’s amazing what a little vino and a little acetaminophen will do to ignite the senses!
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To be honest, I don’t even remember what all we had {so zoom in on this picture & read it!}  Nevertheless,  it’s true when they say pairing wine with a specific food enhances the flavors, it really works!  The whole experience was a delight. Something we would do again in a heart beat.
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Back in the limo we go.  The next stop, Ledson Winery and Vineyards. Originally, it was being built as a home, with 17 acres of Merlot planted on the grounds.  But as the structure was built, and the public became more interested, they ended up turning it into a vineyard and tasting room.  (well played Ledson clan!)  The structure is built with a French Normady-esque style, 16,000 square feet of woodwork and marble staircases.  Never missing the opportunity for a photo op, we enjoyed the front garden area with beautiful white roses and fountains.
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Their tasting room had wood floors and a beautiful bar area.  We sidled up and started to learn about their vines.  Little breadsticks were my saving grace as we sipped and sipped some more.
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After the tasting, we bought a bottle and went out back on their patio.  Some of us took naps in the sun : star-fished on the ground & loving life {cough, Carley}.  We toasted to friendship & love, as we looked at the rows of vines grown there.  What a neat place to have a summer party or a murder mystery dinner!
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A pretty spectacular roundup of the troops and we’re onto the next one!  Benziger Family Winery for the win!  This next one is a little blurry for me.  Understandably so; three vineyards in and I’m reaching my limits.
We made a pit stop potty break upon arrival (extremely necessary says the girl with the squirrel-sized bladder).  Then we hop on an extended golf cart for a tour of the vineyards.  Our tour guide explained the wine-making process at their location and the background story of the family that built Benziger into what it is today.
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I’ll be honest, a lot of what he said went in one ear and out the other.  We stopped along the tour at a little wooden hut and cracked open a white bottle of wine.  He served it to us in logo-etched wine glasses – nice touch.
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Cool little place.  Gorgeous farm animals to fertilize the soil.  Fluffy, mop-headed cows and little baby goats.  Ten points to Gryffindor for the golf cart ride, as I was not about hiking all over those poo-filled rows of vines.
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The middle of the tour took us into the wine caves where, guess what we did?… had some more vino.  It’s a lot of traveling small distances and then drinking wine.  Rinse & repeat.
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There was a really neat room deep into the cave that we all grabbed a spot at.  It felt very Knights of the Roundtable-esque, with tapestries hanging on the wall and unique art pieces.
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In the wine cave, I got in trouble for trying to snag some more breadsticks, but, please, this was a girl looking after herself!  Atleast some part of my mind knew I needed water and food.  Stat.
We circled around the vineyards on the golf carf and finished the tour in their Main Bar / Tasting Room.  I couldn’t tell you what took place in that space.  The next thing I remember is getting into the limo and somehow making it home in one piece.
Now, THAT was a tour of Sonoma.
Dinner plans were supposed to involve a bacon-infused local hotspot called Zazu, but we couldn’t make it happen.  We grabbed a variety of chicken breasts and brats at the grocery store to grill-out instead.  And it rocked our socks off.
Oh yeah, and we drank water, lots of water.
xo,
e
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Good Morning Sonoma!

We wake up and the boys cook some eggs.  A nest egg, as Brett calls them.

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We giggle and catch up on the deck.  Overlooking the mountain and unreal landscape.  All of a sudden, the limo is on it’s way and we are rushing to pull ourselves together.
The limo pulled into the gravel driveway and the driver hops out to introduce himself.  He opens the back door and we all pile in.  Champagne, soda, water… there were glass champagne glasses and bottle openers.  Living the life!
On our way to the first vineyard, our driver recommends we pull into a Whole Foods-like grocery store and pick up some lunch, since we were headed a little into the countryside and wouldn’t have many options.  We all hop out, grab sandwiches, pasta salads, hummus, and in Brett’s case, head cold materials.
Our first vineyard stop was Ferrari-Carrano.  This place looked like it was fresh out of Alice in Wonderland.  The grounds were landscaped to perfection.  Freshly-cut grass, sculptures, fountains, and beautiful vineyards as far as the eye could see.  The building itself was a marble, cream-colored structure with ornate railings and large windows.  The tasting was held in the basement, a spot called the Prevail Room.
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Our directions were to choose 4 or 6 different wines on a small paper menu.  The wines were poured and the 8 of us sat at a large table underneath beautiful black, exotic lighting fixtures.  Downstairs is where the large room of wine barrels are located as well.
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After Ferrari-Carano, we hop back in the limo and head towards Bella Vineyard & Wine Cave.  Both Katie and I had great reviews from friends about this vineyard and really wanted to make it work.  We pulled into Bella and the limo driver popped the trunk.  In the back he had flatware and every other material needed for a picnic.  Cool!  He spread out a tablecloth and we all munched on the grocery store grub.  It was nice (& necessary!) to get something in our stomach.
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A dog that lives on the grounds begged for food : made the experience that much more welcoming.  AJ gathered wine glasses so we could have some vino while lunching.
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After eats, we walked into this cave-style area that was nestled underneath a hill.  Towards the back it was dark and cold, but lively and filled with people tasting wine around a little bar area.  We grabbed a small table and tasted our way through the menu.  This was a really cool little place with lots of personal touches. I could picture a gorgeous wedding reception being held on the grounds.
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We all hopped back in the limo and headed back towards Oliviera.  Some of us weren’t feeling too hot and took a cat nap while the vineyards rolled by the windows.  Brett got a head cold and was desperately trying to sleep it off (or was it too much Zin?)
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Back in Glen Ellen, we lounged and rehydrated.  The boys jumped in the hot tub and the ladies mixed some drinks.  Towards the evening time, we dressed up and headed towards The Girl and the Fig.  A small, local restaurant with high ratings.  I was impressed that they were so conscious of wasted water & drought in the area.  Fresh olives (pitted & non) were waiting as a starter, yay!  We dined on Fig and Arugula Salad, a Cucumber Soup, Burgers and Pork Chops.  The food was delicious (& expensive!), but worth the splurge.
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I cannot remember what was so funny, but Carley almost giggle / choked to death.  Luckily, nurse AJ was seated next to her.
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We headed back towards Oliviera, in a food coma.  Driving up the dark, steep, winding mountain towards home.  We gathered enough energy to play a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity before turning in for the night.
xo,
e
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