Thursday, May 21, 2015

Travels: Mexican honeymoon

Well, here I am on the other side of the wedding! We made it! We didn't craft ourselves to death or anything like that! Married life has been pretty wonderful so far, and I will absolutely be posting photos just as soon as I get the files from my photographer. In the meantime, I thought I'd share some shots from our honeymoon in Mexico.

It was gorgeous, first of all. We stayed at an all-inclusive in Riviera Maya, about an hour and a half south of Cancún, on the Yucatán Peninsula. We rented a car to get from the airport to the resort because the whole bus/shuttle thing seemed like more trouble than it was worth, and I'm so glad we did. The weather was perfect, sunny and hot the whole time, with mild and breezy evenings. I didn't bring my DSLR camera; I get a little nervous taking it to unfamiliar places. Ultimately it was a good decision, but I definitely missed it while we were walking through the ruins of Tulum. The shots below are from my old little point-and-shoot and Matt's and my phones.

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Obligatory airplane-window photo. We thought this might be a sandbar off the coast of Cuba, but we weren't positive. Saw a lot of cruise ships from the air, which was kind of cool.

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The main lobby of the resort was open-air; a huge entry behind where I was standing and another on the other side of this fountain were both doorless. The roof here and in most of the other communal buildings was straw thatch, and it was so charming.

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They had to close down a portion of the main buffet one morning to do repairs on the roof. It was really cool to watch the guys through the hole and see all the straw drifting down.

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Of course, no resort is complete without a towel critter on your bed each morning. It was a swan when we checked in, which I promptly forgot to take a photo of. We also had a dog and something I couldn't figure out. We passed on room service one day because I was sick (Protip: When in Mexico, use hand sanitizer after washing your hands and definitely don't wash your hands and then eat a bunch of finger food. Yuck.) so we'll never know what funny towel critter we missed out on that day. Oh, the loss.

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Of course there was plenty of beach time! The Caribbean Sea is just gorgeous, with the clearest water I've ever seen. (Granted, I'm comparing it to the Outer Banks, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach...but still.

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Iguanas in Mexico are like squirrels in the States--they're everywhere. We saw them (and geckos and other lizards I couldn't name) constantly, both on and off the resort. The one we're holding were outside the ruins of Tulum; we paid 50 pesos (a few dollars) each to take our photos with that guy. Cheesy, yes, but still pretty cool.

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Two other animals were really common at the resort: coatis (the ones with the long tail) and those other rodent-looking things that I can't identify. The coatis were super really bold; I didn't realize that one had snuck up behind me until some random lady came up to take a picture of it.

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As we were leaving Tulum, I saw a guy holding something furry and pestering tourists to hold it for pictures. Thinking it was a coati, I dragged Matt over...and then we realized it was a lion cub. It cost a bit more than 50 pesos to take our pictures with it, but it was worth every penny. I reassured my guilty conscience by imagining the little lion all grown up, enjoying a lazy day in her pen at a very nice Mexican zoo. Because honestly, when would we ever get another chance to hold a baby lion?

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Jungle selfie! This was on the government road that led to the Tulum ruins. The jungle was so dense even beside the road, I could hardly believe it.

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We didn't hire a guide because of time constraints, but we overheard one saying that the true name of this ancient Mayan community was unknown; it's referred to as Tulum, the Mayan word for "wall," thanks to the stone wall that surrounds it.

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The main temple of Tulum. You couldn't walk up into this one like you can at Chichen Itza or some of the others, but it was cool nonetheless.

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The city itself was situated on the edge of a cliff, maybe 30 or 40 feet high, that overlooked the sea. There were walkdowns and slopes to the beach, but we stuck to the high ground to strike a few Captain Morgan poses (of course).

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Outside of Tulum is a bit of a tourist trap-style market. It's filled with Subway and Hägen-Dazs stands and souvenir shops (full disclosure: we bought souvenirs and I even haggled one vendor down to a great price on a gorgeous dress), but there was one redeeming booth: A real-deal taco spot. We saw several locals chowing down, so we got some delicious, authentic chicken tacos. I think Matt was more excited about them than the ruins themselves!

That same afternoon, we went scuba-diving on the reef just off the coast. We bought a CD of photos from the company, but when we got home we realized the CD is blank. We're working with the company to have all the images emailed to us, so I hope to be able to post them soon!

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That night, we ate in one of the resort's "fancy" restaurants. Most of the nicer restaurants were semi-casual at best, but this one was French-themed, had an actual dress code and was on-par with any four- or five-star establishment in the U.S., I'd say.

They started us off with shrimp cocktail with mango mousse and passionfruit jelly. For the salad course, I got smoked duck and sweetbread (which is way more delicious than you'd think) drizzled in truffle oil. Soup was a seafood bisque with goat cheese--unexpected, but also really good.

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We ordered a great bottle of Malbec. Presentation of everything was incredible, from the plating to the wine service to the dessert.

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My main course was filet mignon with fois gras and potatoes. I'd never have fois gras before and it was so amazing! Matt had sea bass, I think--I don't remember because we were both preoccupied with his ear. It had been bugging him since the dive and still is, actually. (He's going to the doctor, rest assured.) Dessert was strawberries flambé over vanilla ice cream. It had the most gorgeous presentation of flaming liqueur cascading down a long, curly strip of orange peel...and my phone's memory filled up just as he was about to light it, ending my video prematurely. Didn't make it taste any less incredible, though.

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Last-day selfie!

Leaving was definitely hard. With my accidental water consumption via hand-washing (and later, Matt's via rinsing his toothbrush in tap water on accident), we lost a full day of activities. We weren't even halfway to the airport before we made a full list of all the things we want to do on a hypothetical return trip to Riviera Maya!

Still, we're glad to be home and settling back into life. I won't say I wasn't tempted to just never leave Mexico, but Spazzy would have missed us too much, so coming home was the only option, I suppose ;)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Stupid technology

Well, thanks to the most asinine app update I've ever seen in my life, I have inadvertently deleted a bunch of photos from Flickr. Including all the blog photos between February and my last post, as well as all my photo-a-day shots from the same time period. I know I have all the blog photos backed up, but I'm not sure about the photo-a-day ones. Bear with me while I re-upload and re-link all my blog pics from the last couple of months. Hint: It likely won't happen till after things settle down post-wedding this weekend.

UGH. Tech, you are so stupid.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Weekending Times 2

I swear, one of my worst habits is misjudging how much am I able to get done in a day. I am either woefully behind on my to-do list, or I get the whole thing done in half the time and am at a loss about what to do with the extra hours. (Though admittedly it's typically the former, rather than the latter.)

Two weekends ago was my bachelorette party, and while I'm obviously not going to post pics of everything that happened — suffice to say my sister made me a scavenger hunt that involved weird things like "kiss a bald guy's head" and "copy someone's dancing without them realizing it" — my 'maids and I looked hella cute so I wanted to post a few tame shots :)

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Bachelorette weekend started in Athens, at my alma mater, with a couple of bridesmaids who also went to OU. We grabbed dinner with my sister, Anna, who's a student there. She's too young for bar-hopping, unfortunately, but Emily, Hayley and I participated in a shuffle of sorts. Athens has something like 20 bars, and a popular pastime is to do a "shuffle" — get one drink at each bar. I'm far too old for that ish, so we did what I dubbed a "selective shuffle," only going to the good bars. I had about nine on my list, and we made it to about seven of them (thanks to a huge turnout for a festival the next day, some good bars had huge lines)...with the last one hardly even counting, as I got a drink I didn't even want and didn't finish, haha.

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Anyway, part of the shuffle includes signing the bathroom walls at each stop with the name of your shuffle. Hayley took it upon herself to add a few names: EmGettNMurried and TheHentIsOver (Hent being part of Matt's last name).

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We met up with my friend Aisha, who also went to OU and happened to be in town that night.

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We stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast (highly recommend Bodhi Tree Guest House to anyone staying in the area). Breakfast featured locally milled polenta cakes and black beans with eggs and crème fraîche. Unbe-freaking-lievable.

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Back in Columbus Saturday afternoon; I refueled the only way a basic bachelorette should: Starbucks drink in one hand and a "Bride-To-Bellini" (as named by my sister, Ellen) in the other...complete with an inappropriate straw, of course.

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My other sister, Abby, planned the whole shindig on Saturday. She and Ellen got some awesome, tastefully tacky accessories and I was thrilled that I didn't have to wear anything crazy-inappropriate.

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Abby and me at the hotel, before we all headed to the Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar.

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All the bridesmaids (minus Anna) at Big Bang. Sadly, I failed to get many picture with the rest of the girls who came...womp womp.

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Being serenaded by a stranger, as per the scavenger hunt. It was "Let It Go" and it was awesome.

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For breakfast the next day, nothing but a chicken-and-waffle from Taste of Belgium in the North Market would do.

This past weekend, I was feverishly crafting with Hayley, Ellen, her fiancé, my mom and Tiffany, another bridesmaid. After a few weeks of worrying that I'd be short a dozen centerpieces, we finally finished them! It was such a weight off my shoulders; with just 12 days to go, I feel like I can relax a little and enjoy my last two weeks of engagement!

And yesterday, Matt and I got our marriage license! Aaahhhh!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Holy crap an outfit post!

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sweater: Forever 21
skinnies, boots: Target
necklace: giveaway win
watch: Coach (secondhand)

Rest assured that, despite my lack of posting outfit photos, I have in fact been wearing clothes these last several weeks. Some of the outfits are even originals/non-repeats! Shocking, I know. I wore this just last week, but I jumped it to the front of my queue of "outfits to post" because I have an important question related to it...

Just when exactly does boot season end?!

I know this might be a no-brainer in some parts of the country or world, but here in good old Ohio, it can be 75 degrees one day and 42 the next. I am not kidding. So while we're looking at a high in the low 70s today, this sweater-and-boot combo was totally weather-appropriate when I wore it on Friday. Not very springlike, but hey, I was comfortable (if not seasonally accurate).

In other news, I completely failed to acknowledge my four-year bloggiversary! It was on April 8. BUTTTTTT my first outfit post was on April 14, so I guess this counts as a recognition?

It's hard to believe it's been four years since I started balancing my eight-megapixel point-and-shoot on a table or balcony and setting a self-timer. So much has changed since then! To name just a few: I grew my hair out and cut it all off. I upgraded from boyfriend to fiance (ha, here's hoping he doesn't find that offensive). I got a better point-and-shoot, then received a DSLR camera and fell absolutely in love with photography. I clawed my way out of debt and changed jobs. I discovered a love for dance and ran my first 5k and developed my rock-climbing skills. And of course I've met some fantastic fellow bloggers.

I don't know how much longer I'll keep blogging — I'm waiting until things settle down after the wedding to make the call officially — but I do know it's been an awesome ride so far. Thanks to everyone who's still reading. You guys keep me at it :)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Engagement photos!

Howdy folks! I can't believe this is my first post in April. Well actually, I totally can. Between work, photography projects (four shoots since my last post!) and of course the neverending to-do list of a DIY bride, I've been swamped. I'm surprised I even have time to sleep! Still, I did have a glorious moment this week during which I realized I had finished my entire to-do list for the day — something that hasn't happened in weeks — and it happened an hour before my bedtime. I could've cried.

With only a month to go before the wedding, I think I'm finally getting caught up. I have no plans this weekend, other than crafting the hell out of some centerpieces, all day, both days. With any luck, I'll get them finished! Cross your fingers for me.

In other, more interesting news, Matt and I had our engagement photos done recently. Actually, my friend Emily did them months ago, but none of us accounted for the fact that Matt hates getting his picture taken...a fact that I don't think he even realized the severity of until he was staring down the lens. Fortunately, our phenomenal wedding photographer was gracious enough to squeeze us in at the end of March. Matt had a shot of Jameson to loosen him up, and it really made a difference. Unfortunately, it was freezing — no literally, some freezing rain started to fall right as we were finishing up — but we got some really lovely photos just the same.

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In addition to the 55 or so photos that he edited, our photographer also sent us something like 150 unedited photos. So naturally I had a ball with those.

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Well, that's it for me for now. With any luck I will be able to get back to posting more than once every two weeks after this weekend!