Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Week in Paradise

Aloha friends!

Chris and I spent this last week on the Big Island in Hawai'i with Chris's parents and younger sister. If I had to summarize my trip (for those who probably won't make it to the end of this blog post) I would say that it was "Incredible, Amazing, Peaceful, and a Paradise." I did not feel ready to leave after 7 days at all!

Day 1: We had a great flight and when we arrived we were greeted by Chris's family with Leis! We stayed in a 2-bedroom condo and were quite comfortable. The first night we went grocery shopping and enjoyed an afternoon of rest and a game of Settlers of Catan.

Day 2: We headed to the beach! We actually drove to three beaches, two of which were closed due to tiger shark sightings. The third beach had salt-and-pepper sand as well as a bulldozer working in the background. Not exactly what we had envisioned of the beaches of Hawai'i but it turned out to be great anyway.
We saw sea turtles! There were actually 5 of them! They would swim fairly close to us, poke their heads up out of the water and circle again, sometimes they even turned to their side and seems to wave at us with their fins! I couldn't believe how close they were! 

Day 3: We woke up early to drive to the south-east end of the island to see Volcano National Park. Chris's family has a story of visiting this park when Chris was about 6 or 7 years old. They got right up to the edge of the caldera and Chris got a little too close for comfort. His dad quickly pulled him back saying "Chris, you could fall down; don't stand too close to the edge." In Chris's adventurous mind, he thought he could just climb right back out if he fell. He had no idea that it went down hundreds of feet! 

We had to go back so Chris could see just how deep that caldera went. Unfortunately for us, the volcano was "pluming" or steaming and was too dangerous to get close to. Most of the park we had planned to see was closed due to the volcano activity. We spent the day driving a little farther than we had planned to see lava rock and a place where lava had covered the road. That was really interesting -- and the views were breath-taking! I was in awe of how much lava rock there was -- it felt like it was everywhere! 

On the way home we had dinner in the southernmost town in the United States--Naalehu, Hawaii. 

Day 4: We jumped in the car early in the morning again, only this time to drive to the northeast side of the Island. This time, instead of volcanos, we were looking at waterfalls and a rainforest. The island is so diverse! I loved the rainforest. The trees were so huge -- a leaf was as big as my arm! And it smelled so good! We stopped to look at 4 waterfalls and afterwards had lunch in Hilo and walked through a local farmer's market. I have never seen such a variety of fruit in season at one time!

That night we went to a Luau in Kona. They had a huge Hawai'ian buffett and drinks. The food was delicious; they did an Imu Pork (where the pig is cooked in the ground) which was fantastic. My favorite side dishes were the coconut jello and purple sweet potatos. The fire-dancers and hula girls were awesome and the emcee was pretty entertaining too.

Day 5: Chris and I rented our own car so we could spend the next two days doing whatever we wanted and to be alone for a little while. We drove down to Kealakekua Bay and rented a kayak to go snorkeling near Captain Cook's monument. I would not describe myself as a swimmer, or even a water-lover. I hate putting my face in the water, so to go snorkeling was going to be a fear and a challenge that I would have to overcome. But I really wanted to try it. And I'm so glad I did!

The snorkeling was incredible! I don't have photos from my underwater camera developed yet, but I know they won't do it justice. The water was bright blue and sometimes turquoise. The coral was amazing, it was much bigger than I had imagined and more colorful; we could hear it crackling too. There were probably 15 different types of fish to see and hundreds of them! This was the highlight of my week. It felt like I was watching the discovery channel or something. Being that close to the fish felt completely unreal.

After our big adventure we went to Magic Sands Beach. It was beautiful. The sand was white and the water crystal clear. The beach was pretty crowded but we still were able to find a patch of sand for ourselves.

Later we went to Kona for dinner at Humpy's. Kona is a pretty touristy part of the island but I enjoyed it anyway. Probably because there was so much going on -- very lively. Dinner was excellent -- so was dessert! We had macadamia nut and coconut ice cream. Yum!

Day 6: We went shopping! We found some excellent Kona coffee and near the coffee shop was a building set up similar to a craft fair. I had a blast just looking around; which was good since we didn't really buy anything there! There was a lot of beaded jewelry, woodwork, clothing, etc.

We met up with Chris's family for lunch at Kona Brewing Company which was a lot of fun and the food was really good too!

Then Chris and I went to the beach again. It was our last day in Hawaii and we both really needed more beach time. It was perfect! We found a white-sand beach (one that was previously closed because of the sharks) and played in the sand for a couple of hours.

Day 7: We flew home! I have to say, I really enjoyed the outdoor airport in Kona. It's really small, but it's all outside! 

I had a wonderful time -- I hope that came through in all of these photos and the words I shared with you. I would recommend a vacation in Hawai'i to all of you! But please note: the speed limit on the Big Island is 55 and lower in many areas. So, if you plan to drive anywhere, just know that it will take you FOREVER to get there!


P.S.  I did NOT get sunburnt! This huge news for me! 

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Wedding Weekend

This last weekend my youngest sister got married! Her day was perfect. I wouldn't have changed a thing . . . except maybe putting air conditioning in the reception hall! It was hot!

The week was busy with preparations for the big day and every one was pretty good at helping out. Even my other sister's fiance and brother's girlfriend, who I had just met this week, helped out a ton! I don' t think anyone went to bed before 1 a.m. even once!

Chris and the guys were tasked with yard work and decorating the reception hall. They did all the hard physical labor and the girls followed behind with the more delicate details. I'd say we did pretty good.

I was one of my sister's bridesmaids and had taken it upon myself to plan her bachelorette party. We played corny games, had too many desserts, and probably too many drinks. It was a blast (I think the bride even had fun!)

Chris and I were also the reception photographers! I jumped at the chance because, well, I love photography and want more experience. But since I was in the wedding, Chris ended up doing most of the work. I may be a little biased but I think he did an incredible job . . . take a peak!

But  couldn't let my sister have all the photographer's attention . . .

There is so much more I could say about the trip home . . . my family, the intense humidity, and the awesome dance party.  I'll have to share that another time.

I can't believe my baby sister is a married woman! May she and her husband have a blessed and happy marriage!

10 Years Ago?

This past weekend I had my 10-year High School class reunion.

10 years?

Yes, I know. I can't believe it either.

Ten years ago, it was 2001 and I was 17. At that point in time, I never thought I'd go to my 10-year reunion; I didn't think I would want to. But when my class started planning it a few months ago, I realized that I hadn't been very intentional about keeping in touch with my friends . . . and I really did want to see them again.

They were incredibly thoughtful and actually planned the event to be the same weekend I was already going to be in Minnesota. I could actually go! I could see my friends from my past. I could hear directly from them how life had turned out so far, rather than try to figure it out through facebook. The closer the time came, the more excited I got!

I never thought I would have been excited for this.

I wasn't able to attend the actual class reunion event per say, but I did get to see a majority of those who attended at other smaller get togethers. A few of them even came to my sister's wedding dance to say hi! It was wonderful!

On one hand it felt like we were never apart. Like we were still in school, still going to class together. But on the other hand, if felt like I missed out on the most important part of their lives -- marriages, babies, jobs, homes, etc. I missed seeing how everyone became who they are now.

It made me regret not staying in touch with my friends better. I could tell while we were all chatting that many of them did stay in touch through-out the years. I just wasn't one of them. By the time we graduated, I think I was so ready to be done that I left and didn't look back.

I think a few of us did that. And that's okay. We have all grown up a lot since high school. None of us are the same as we were back then. I could tell in the short amount of time I had with my classmates that we are all pretty happy with where we ended up. And that is just want I wanted to hear! I was so hopeful that all was going well with each one of them.

I'm so glad I was able to be a part of the reunion.

I had forgotten how much of my life had been spent with my classmates -- every day of every school year from 4th through 12th grade! In my attempt to forget the drama and bad memories of high school, I had forgotten how meaningful those friendships were to me. I don't want to forget that anymore.

To the class of 2001 -- God Bless!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What a Weekend!

Last Saturday my youngest sister got married! Needless to say it was a busy weekend! And to make it a little more fun and crazy, I had my 10 year class reunion at the same time. Stay tuned -- photos and stories to come!

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Wonderful Life -- and 2nd year of Marriage

Today is our second wedding anniversary! I can't believe our wedding was two years ago. Sometimes it feels like it was twenty years ago, but most of the time it feels like it was two days ago. I remember it so vividly. . .

. . . seeing Chris for the first time that day

. . . rushing through the family pictures

. . . my dad lifting my veil and giving me away (and how nervous he was)

. . . kissing

. . . the embarrassing toast my sister gave

. . . the party

It was a beautiful day. I loved every minute of it.

This year was a beautiful year. I loved every day of it.

When I was getting ready to get married, a co-worker of mine told me the first year of his marriage was great, it was year 5 and 7 that were hard. The guy standing next to him said, "Well, my first year was really difficult but it was a lot of fun after that." From that conversation I gathered that every marriage was probably different. And every year as the potential to be fun, easy, or hard.

I feel very lucky to say that years 1 and 2 were great. Yes, year 1 had some rough patches (not in our marriage, but in our lives) as we were both unemployed for a long time . . . and we lived with complete strangers. Year 2 was fantastic! We have a home, we both have jobs, we are well provided for (thank you, Lord!) and we are loving this amazing city.

I have learned a few things this year about my husband, myself and about marriage. For one, a healthy/good marriage takes effort and time. If we aren't proactive or careful in how we plan our time, we could easily go days without having a real conversation. And that stinks. I hate it. But it's true. So, we have to make an effort to really spend time together. We have breakfast together every morning. I love this!

Secondly, I have to make a choice to serve -- it doesn't always come naturally. For example, my husband appreciates a clean house. So, if I neglect the laundry, the dishes, or cleaning, it can communicate more than "I don't feel like it right now." My husband does a lot of things for me out of love. Service seems to be in his blood. I'd like to choose to serve him more often. After all, a wife is meant to be a helper right!

Marriage isn't stagnant (or at least mine isn't!). It changes . . . it grows. Just as we as individuals grow and change over time, our marriage does the same. Circumstances, events, and time all impact the way our marriage moves. Hopefully it becomes stronger and better. I can say ours has over this past year. I feel like I know my husband so much better and he knows me extremely well. We have learned and will continue to learn how to live well together.

I know we have much more to learn about each other . . . it will take years! I'm looking forward to year 3 and what it will bring -- what changes will our marriage go through this coming year? What new things will we experience together? Only God knows!

Life is exciting!

Photographs by: Steve Learned (

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Creative Inspiration

There is nothing quite like an Indie craft fair to get your creative juices flowing. I had never been to one until this morning. I felt like I was in an Etsy store - brick and mortar style. It was amazing. There were silk-screened t-shirts, canvas totes, tea-towels, and more. There were posters, canvas prints, note cards and stationary. There were terrariums, journals, soaps, candles and dresses.

Every vendor was so talented; so passionate about what they made and sold. It was amazing to see how these individuals had turned their interests and talents into a full on business. It was quite inspiring.

My mom used to make things for craft fairs. She was really great at getting us involved too. Not like child-labor or anything--it was more like doing something together as a family. We'd make necklaces, earrings, Christmas ornaments, and cards. Mom did the really crafty things like wall hangings, holiday decorations and potpourri. Then we'd go to the fairs and set up our stuff. This is actually how I learned how to sell things and count back change. I really liked doing the selling.

I don't know if I'd ever do anything so well that I could sell it to the masses like that, but I like doing crafty things (for myself and others). So now, I'm going to get out my sewing machine!

Monday, July 4, 2011

One Summer Day

Weather in San Francisco is a funny thing. One day it is cold and raining, the next is as close to a midwest summer day as you can get while living on the coast (aka: beautiful), and then the next is foggy and cold again. It's really hard to believe it's July. It's really hard to believe it's summertime! I have to remind myself while I'm putting on my turtleneck sweater that my "summer" will come later (late-August to early October).

But this weekend, Chris and I journeyed south for the day. We drove to Carmel (by the sea) and had a wonderful day sitting on the beach, soaking up the warmth of the sun and the sand. We enjoyed a picnic lunch and did a little window shopping in the way-to-expensive-for-this-girl-shops.

I cannot tell you how refreshed my soul feels after spending the day on the beach! Seriously (deep, relaxing sigh here). Getting away for a day does amazing things to clear your mind and help you relax. I think know I have a tendency to get overly-stressed-out during my week. I don't know why. I don't really have anything to be concerned about except catching my bus, getting to my appointments, doing my job well and cooking dinner. But to be honest, these little things that happen in my day all add up and cause a little (sometimes a lot) of anxiety in me. So, for me to get away and breathe, is beyond wonderful!

I hope you enjoyed your 4th of July weekend!

Walked 339.8 miles

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Please Note

Just wanted to let you know that you now have the ability to post comments to my individual pages now! Individual pages being the tabs on the top of my blog: cooking, sewing, reading list, crafts, and photography. So, if you love my pancake recipe (that I took from Betty Crocker) you can let me know . . . just don't tell me if you hate it!

The downside is that you can't comment on each post/update but on the page as a whole; so if you're commenting on something specific please try to be more specific! (i.e. "This is awesome" will mean that everything I do is awesome when what you really meant was "The recipe for the salad dressing is awesome.")

Comment away people -- it really does make my day!