Thursday, February 20, 2014

weekend adventures in lost maples

over the valentine's day weekend, the husband & i made our annual trek to lost maples - this is our 5th trip (4th year) out there, and it's a tradition we hope to continue forever & ever. lost maples state park is in vanderpool, texas and is about a 2.5-3 hour drive from our house, but it feels like it's forever away.
we've stayed at the same cabins every time we go, it's a little cluster of 5 cabins up a very windy, hilly road that makes you think you're not in texas at all. there's no cell reception/wi-fi except for at a general store on the way to go hike the trails in the park, which brings me to my next point - the hike is the best part of it all! the park itself is absolutely beautiful, especially in the fall, and we always go up the west trail which is about 5 miles, 3 of which are uphill.
we've become pros at packing for lost maples and have our traditions of making skillet burgers, drinking cheap beer (lone star, usually. but this time we brought along my new favorite gluten-free beer), playing cards and in the mornings we read out on the porch (swinging porch bed!) with our coffee.
one of the goals on my 30before30 list is to have an annual camping trip, but i'm pretty sure i'm going to have to do some editing and maybe change it to an annual glamping trip? because i really enjoy having a toilet to use.
texans - what are your favorite camping/glamping/hiking spots?


Friday, January 10, 2014

2014 & my 30before30 list

i know i'm a few days behind (9, to be exact), but i've decided on which 30before30 goals i'm going to focus on for 2014:
-learn to speak portuguese fluently.
i've mentioned this before, but my mom is brazilian and unfortunately i never learned portuguese from her. my brother & i both learned spanish first, then english...and it was probably going to be pretty overwhelming to throw in portuguese in there, but i'm still just a little bit bitter about it. i definitely understand 90% of it because it's so similar to spanish and because we've heard my mom speak it most of our lives here & there, but it is time. it's time to sit down & really learn it, so that next time i go to brasil, i can sound really fancy.
so, last night i started on rosetta stone! it was only 30 minutes, but it's something. and just for the record, i got a 96% on my pronunciation. just sayin'.
-own an original art piece.
this is not something that the husband & i expected to do for a few years, but on our recent trip to mexico we came across an artist that we became slightly obsessed with, and now we are working on getting one of her pieces. more on that later! but this is also in the works.
-decorate our forever home to reflect both my husband and i perfectly. okay, so this is actually pretty much done. it's just the pictures that haven't been taken, and the goal above - the original art piece - that we're waiting on.
-go on a road trip. planning for this goal is already underway, so i'm pretty sure this one will be a really fun one to cross off this year.
-plant a thriving vegetable garden. luckily, i got started on this last year and now have the perfect box garden for it. i'm hoping to get kale, watermelon, jalapenos, tomatoes, mint, green bell peppers, and carrots throughout the year.
okay, that's it. there are 2 or 3 more that i'm pretty certain i can accomplish in 2014, but those are the 5 major ones that i will get done, no matter what!
there are also a few things that are not on my 30before30 list that i'd love to do this year, like going to a fun cooking class with the husband, volunteering at urban roots again (any austin friends want to come with? it's really fun!), and reading more (in 2012 i crossed off a reading-related goal that i'd maybe like to try again).

Friday, December 27, 2013

checked off: #18!

back in july the husband gifted me a ride in a hot air balloon, knowing it was part of my 30before30 list, and i finally got to check off that goal very early on christmas eve.
you know the part in james and the giant peach where they are able to get the peach to fly high up in the air? i think that's where my hot air balloon dream started. i'm aware it's not a hot air balloon in the book/movie by any means, but it's the closest i can get without actually living in a roald dahl book. and just on a side note, if i were to live in a roald dahl book, it would definitely be the bfg, but that's neither here nor there. anyway, i think that's where this whole thing began and i've been saying it's on my to-do list since i was little.
there's your backstory! now:
bright and early (and i mean early early, as it was a sunrise ride), we headed to the meet-up spot for take-off. i was actually pretty nervous on the drive there because, as much as i've wanted to ride in one of these, it's still scary. you're going all the way up in the air in a wicker basket suspended by a balloon...filled with fire. that's lacking some logic, no? but it was absolutely beautiful, perfectly cold, and so so much fun. we spent about 45 minutes total in the air going over the hill country and ended up over a neighborhood waving hi to little kids who came out in their pajamas to see the balloon. and when we landed (in someone's front yard!) we got a brief history of hot air balloons from our hilarious and inappropriate pilot, and a champagne toast.
and for the record, it's not scary at all...and this is coming from someone who is not a fan of flying.

^that's the little tiny moon you can still see up there! ^

here's what my list looks like now:

1. visit santorini, greece - 2. learn to speak portuguese fluently - 3. go on a girl's weekend trip to a vineyard - 4. own an original art piece - 5. learn how to bake my own bread - 6. give birth - 7. start a movie night tradition - 8.participate in some sort of marathon or race - 9. plant a thriving vegetable garden - 10. go on an annual camping trip - at least a book a month for one year - 12. master taking photos the way i picture them in my brain - 13. decorate our "forever home" to reflect both my husband & i perfectly - 14. start a sunday night supper tradition - 15. visit spain - 16. see radiohead live again - 17. become crafty - 18. ride in a hot air balloon - 19. visit maui for 5 year wedding anniversary - 20. start teaching my children how to speak spanish fluently - 21. start a regular yoga practice - 22. sleep in a tree house -23.  see northern lights - 24. host thanksgiving at my house (insead of a parent's house!) -25. take a weekly photo of my child/children for an entire year - 26. take a road trip (more than like 12 hours of driving!) - 27. learn to tango with my husband - 28. take my own (professional looking) newborn photos of my children - 29. surprise my husband with the best birthday gift ever (still don't know what that is....) - 30. end this whole thing with a 30th birthday bash that's worthy of being blogged about

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

checked off: #24!

i can finally check off another 30before30 goal!
#24 on my list was to host thanksgiving at my house. this may seem like a pretty small goal compared to some of the others, but believe you me - it was a big deal to me. i've thought of it as a rite of passage almost, and now i'm pretty convinced that i'm a real live adult. we sat in the dining room and used cloth napkins and everything!
my parents came in from dallas, along with my step-sister and her partner, and my furry nephew (their dog, fenway). we had so, so much fun and even though my sister in law did most of the turkey frying (because i was 99% sure i'd blow up my family and house on accident), i still kind of cooked my own thanksgiving turkey. and mostly, the husband did all the marinating and stuff. but, we'll pretend i did it all myself.
the day was full of football, wine, lots of pies, ping pong in the backyard, and sitting by the fire. i didn't take as many pictures as i would've wanted, because i alawys get distracted and forget about that. but here's at least some photographic proof that all of this is true:

and now that thanksgiving is over, i am in full christmas mode. all christmas presents have been purchased, some of them have been wrapped, and the house is decked out in its christmas gear.
i've even started watching all of the horrible christmas chick flicks that started playing on tv as of december 1st, and i'm not ashamed of it at all.
here's an update of what my list looks like now (and PS. the hot air balloon ride has been booked, and is in a few short weeks!!)

1. visit santorini, greece - 2. learn to speak portuguese fluently - 3. go on a girl's weekend trip to a vineyard - 4. own an original art piece - 5. learn how to bake my own sourdough bread - 6. give birth - 7. start a movie night tradition - 8. participate in some sort of marathon or race - 9. plant a thriving vegetable garden - 10. go on an annual camping trip - 11. read at least a book a month for one year - 12. master taking photos the way i picture them in my brain - 13. decorate our "forever home" to reflect both my husband & i perfectly - 14. start a sunday night supper tradition - 15. visit spain - 16. see radiohead live again - 17. become crafty - 18. ride in a hot air balloon - 19. visit maui for 5 year wedding anniversary - 20. start teaching my children how to speak spanish fluently - 21. start a regular yoga practice - 22. sleep in a tree house -23. see northern lights - 24. host thanksgiving at my house (insead of a parent's house!) -25. take a weekly photo of my child/children for an entire year - 26. take a road trip (more than like 12 hours of driving!) - 27. learn to tango with my husband - 28. take my own (professional looking) newborn photos of my children - 29. surprise my husband with the best birthday gift ever (still don't know what that is....) - 30. end this whole thing with a 30th birthday bash that's worthy of being blogged about

Monday, October 7, 2013

europe pt. 3: barcelona

(see parts 1 and 2 of these europe posts here and here.)

oh, barcelona. 
i am so, so glad that we decided to end the trip there. both tucker & i agreed it was our favorite city that we visited on the trip, and it was the best of all worlds. it felt like a beach-city, a huge urban, sprawling city or a small neighborhood rolled in to one. as i mentioned in the first europe post, we went through vrbo and rented an apartment that we absolutely loved. the neighborhood we were in, barceloneta, is an easy 5 minute walk to the beach, and has tons of great bars, restaurants and bakeries surrounding it. it's also a short 15 minute walk to las ramblas...we got very used to that walk, as that was where both of my brothers rented their apartments. it was such a walkable city, which we really loved - with the exception of our trek to the airport on the last day, we barely had to use our subway passes.
we spent a total of 4 nights in barcelona, and because they were the last few days of our two week trip, our legs were finally starting to give out on us and let us know that walking 15 miles per day is not normal. we didn't really rest until the last day we were there, though, which allowed us to see everything we wanted to see. the sagrada familia was, of course, incredible. even though we got there early, we did have to wait in line for about an hour and a half but it was worth it. i'd say my favorite "sight" in barcelona was park guell - an enormous, hilly park where gaudi's house has been turned in to a museum and is surrounded by a ton of his other creative works. tucker & i packed a picnic and spent several hours there, and i'd highly recommend it to anybody. 
i also had some of my most favorite meals & drinks in barcelona (i really love cava. like, really love it.) and we just cannot wait to eventually go back. 

(the building that our apartment was in is from the 1800's and had original brick walls!)

until next time, europe!!!

(ps. i checked off a goal on the 30before30 list! new and updated: right here)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

europe pt. 2 (and checking off #15!)

(see europe pt. 1 with pictures from london + paris: here)

today i get to cross off goal #15 from my 30before30 list: to visit spain!

i have been wanting to go to spain for so long, and it was every bit as great as i expected. 
after spending a week between london and paris, we flew to madrid and made our way to the cute apartment we rented for the next 3 nights. since we were used to using the subways to get everywhere in london, we decided that would be our main source of transportation in spain, too. we were lucky that our apartment was very close to two subway stations, so it was easy for us to get anywhere in the city. but the very best part about us getting to madrid was that it meant my brothers and their awesome ladies would be meeting us there to finish off the last week of our trip. 
my brother leo and his wife melanie who we visited in seattle a few months ago arrived in madrid a few nights before we did. and my brother mario and his girlfriend betty spent a few days in sevilla and in toledo before meeting up with us. i can't tell you how excited that we all were able to spend this time together in spain. when you live across the country from one brother, and in a different country than the other brother, any time spent together is pretty precious, agreed?

we barely needed to use the metro in madrid because of the fact that everything seemed so walkable.  we arrived pretty late on our first day, so we went to a late dinner with everybody and had a few glasses of tinto de verano (red wine + lemon flavored carbonated water) which became kind of our trip-drink. our second day there was the big walking day for us - while leo and melanie headed to barcelona a few days before us, tucker and i met up with mario and betty to walk the city. although touristy, one of our favorite things in madrid was the mercado de san miguel - an indoor market with tons of booths filled with different tapas, wines, beers and treats so you can sample so much different food. another big highlight for me was seeing bosch's garden of earthly delights at the prado museum, i've wanted to see it for so long!
 and even though we were exhausted after 8 hours of sights, we went to the tiny cafetin la quimera for an incredible flamenco show. a friend of mine who lived in madrid for two years recommended this place, and although she mentioned that it wasn't like the touristy flamenco shows, i didn't think it would be this authentic. there were only about 15 of us inside the tiny bar and i could not have asked for a more amazing show! 

leo + melanie, mario + betty

we crammed so much sight-seeing in on our second day in madrid (cathedrals, museums, markets, plazas, palaces, etc) that we decided we'd use our last day there to take a 30 minute train ride to toledo and see a completely different side of spain - madrid was so busy and city-ish and toledo was a beautiful little maze town filled with alleyways and streets that were far too little for cars. that turned out to be one of the best decisions we made in the whole two week trip; we absolutely loved our day in toledo - lots of uphill hikes, several beer stops sitting at teeny tiny tables outside & trying to find our way on the world's least decipherable map.

from there, it was on to my favorite leg of the trip: barcelona.
but in order to avoid even more of a picture overload, i'll post on that tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

europe pt. 1

after two weeks away from home galavanting around europe, we are back in austin. 
we had an absolutely amazing time (despite getting a sinus infection [tucker] and strep throat [me] while on the trip), and are so thankful we got to spend two weeks abroad. let me tell you though, getting sick (and i mean, sick) while on a trip in another country is no walk in the park! we didn't let it affect our trip - we still walked at least 12 miles a day while each of us was sick and saw all the things we wanted to see, but man it was tiring. we were lucky to be able to see a doctor there and get us both antibiotics so that the entire trip wouldn't be one filled with tissues and lozenges. 

we decided pretty early on in the planning stages of this trip that we would rent apartments in most of the cities we were visiting. we knew we wanted to cook a little bit at home when we could to a) save some money, and b) try to stick to some form of paleo since we had been doing that for about 9 weeks by the time the trip rolled around. and, the apartments ended up being a really good choice for us. we loved all 3 of the apartments we stayed in (paris was the only city in which we stayed in a hotel instead) - i would highly recommend doing this if you're planning a trip abroad! not only do you feel more like a local, but you are able to get tips from the landlords and usually have a bit more room to spread out. we went through vrbo and had a great experience.
anyway, enough apartment talk.

the first week of the trip was spent split between london + paris, and we lucked out with some incredible weather. especially because we were expecting dreary, grey london skies the entire time and instead we got 70 degree days and blue skies. there was one day that we got rained on for about a 3 hour period, but luckily we planned ahead and brought raincoats and umbrellas with us and found a cafe for some hot coffee and people watching while it died out, so we felt very british. 
we also got to know the subway + bus system really well in london and pretty much became experts at getting around the entire sprawling city. in fact, the only city that we used a taxi in was paris - otherwise, we walked or used subways and buses to get everywhere for two weeks, which was so much fun. my legs may or may not fall off after walking over 170 miles over 14 days, and that's just the way i like it.
overall, this first leg was a great kick start to the trip. we absolutely loved the architecture in london and getting to know such a huge city in a few days. and eating your weight in pastries and coffee can never be wrong, so paris was great in my book too.

i'll post spain pictures later this week. in the meantime, some snapshots from london + paris:

 the first meal we had in london was recommended by the landlords at the apartment - an adorable pizza joint called pizza east. fantastic pizza and a really great ambiance.

we ventured out to the natural history museum, which i've wanted to go to for so long. 

right before we left for paris, we were able to meet up with our friend josh that we actually met in the bahamas for my birthday trip last year! he caught on the very creative nickname of bahamas josh. it was so nice to see a friend all the way across the world from our home! we met up with him at a bar that we really loved, the defectors weld

compared to the other cities we stayed in, we had a very short time in paris, so we tried to fit everything in as quickly as possible. i think this may have been a 14 mile day, if i remember correctly, and it was definitely worth it. i had some suggestions sent to us from a few friends that visited paris, so we had some amazing pastry places to try out and again got incredible weather, as you can tell by the blue skies.
we loved how the seats in every single one of the cafes were faced out, so that you could easily people watch. and you could sip on one single cup of coffee for two hours and the servers wouldn't even look at you twice - they get a bad reputation for having bad service in paris, but we loved that they just left you alone until you asked them for the check. there's something nice about never being rushed out of a place, no?