Our Maple Tree

Keeping up with The Maples


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10 Year High School Reunion + Fashion Talk

Nothing says like you are getting old like getting the invitation to your 10 year high school reunion. Has it really been 10 years? Already? I would like to say that it felt like yesterday, but looking back to my high school self, I realized how much I had changed over the years. I am almost a completely different person now then I was 10 years ago. My core values haven’t changed, but my perspective, my way of thinking and the way I see the world now… all that is different.

The one memory that sticks out the most to me at 18 was a conversation I had with my mother. I can’t exactly remember what we were talking about – something along the lines of life decisions – and my mom said something that surprised me. She said, “You will change the most between the ages of 18 and 25.” I remember thinking, no I won’t. I will still be me, I will still want the same things and my plans will never change. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It is funny to look back at the years and see yourself change. But I like the way I have changed. I haven’t accomplish everything I thought I would, but the life I have now is better than I could had ever dreamed. 🙂

Before heading to the reunion, we did a quick photo shoot of just the two of us.

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And yes, I planned our outfits to match because I am cheesy like that! We got Randy’s shirt last year from Banana Republic. It is both of our favorites! 🙂 And it looks so good on him!

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I got this dress online at Ruche. I love, love, love the colors! Of course, you all know how much I love mustard. The shoes were my birthday present this year from Modcloth, which are no longer available. But they have tons of different options!

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I found the purse at an antique store in Hendersonville. I bought it for $12!

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My favorite picture from the whole night! Thank you Randy!

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And for my jewelry… the necklace is an antique and my gold bracelet was my high school graduation present from my parents. Seemed only fitting to wear it to my reunion. 🙂

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Our 10 year reunion was at a new brewery in Boone, the Appalachian Mountain Brewery. Coming from the beer capital of America, I was pretty impressed with their beers. Good job Boone! For dinner, they had a local food truck called From Farm to Flame. They made wood-fire pizzas and they were out of this world amazing! I will be on the hunt for this truck every time I go to Boone now.

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The night was a little awkward at first. It is hard to start up conversations with people who you haven’t seen in 10 years. But an hour into the night (after everyone had some drinks) it got easier.

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It was so nice catching up with old friends.

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Especially with these two. We have all been friends since we were 4 years old!

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First thought regarding reunions – Facebook can make it hard to have these, “I haven’t seen you in 10 years. How are you doing?” conversations. Mostly because you already know where they are and what they are doing. But seeing people in the flesh, being able to hug them and talk to them – it is so much better than seeing pictures on Facebook.

At the end of the day, I have to conclude that our parents did a pretty awesome job with all of us. We are lawyers, doctors, judges, engineers and small business owners and living all over the country – not bad for a tiny town in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Just goes to show you it is not how you start, but how you finish.

Overall, I am glad that I went to my reunion. I had a great time catching up with old friends and making new connections with those who I didn’t know as well in high school. Until next time WHS… see you in 10 years!

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Wags to Riches Gala

Life has been a whirlwind of fun events these past two weeks. Last week was the annual Wags to Riches Gala for the Blue Ridge Humane Society. It is one of our most favorite events of the year. I’ll use any excuse to dress up with my handsome hubby! But this event is so much fun! There is dancing, prizes, silent auctions, raffles, food and wine. Not to mention, meeting the many wonderful, caring people of our community!

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I love this dress and I am so glad we had an event for me to wear it to! It came from an antique store about 6 years ago and I paid $10 for it! Not bad, uh?! If you would like to find a dress similar, click here.

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And don’t forget the adorable puppies from the shelter! They came dressed in their best too!

Photo courtesy of Paula Roberts Photography

Photo courtesy of Paula Roberts.

If you are interested in adopting any pets, please stop by our website for available animals. And if you find any that you are interested in, email brhsadopt@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of Paula Roberts Photography

Photo courtesy of Paula Roberts.

And to add to the fun, we had a surprise guest. That’s right… Elvis!

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I think everyone enjoyed dancing with The King!

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It was such a wonderful night and it is a night that I looked forward to every year. And to add the cherry on top, it is for a great cause – one that I have a true passion for. 🙂 I have 3 rescues at home and they are the perfect fit for our silly, little family.

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Advice and Tidbits – San Francisco

I like to write these posts because I like to read them. Whenever I am planning a trip, I read travel blogs to help me prepare and to plan. I prefer to read other’s more personal experiences and suggestions over the more commercialized websites. Travel bloggers tend to be more real and write about things that I want to know. Like, what to wear, what you need to pack (besides the obvious) and where you need to go. So here is my post about what I learned on my trip to San Francisco.

1. First things first, pack sunscreen! I forgot mine and had to buy some more while I was there. Our faces got a little burnt the day we went to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Probably a mixture of sun and wind burn, regardless, just pack it!

2. As you all know, San Francisco is a chilly place. But it can also be warm in some parts of the city – so layers are key. I preferred lightweight long sleeves and my utility jacket. Although, the day we went to the bridge, I wished I had on a sweatshirt. But for the most part, the t-shirts did just fine. You will be taking your jacket on and off a lot while you are walking around.

3. San Francisco, in my opinion is very spread out. I studied the map before I arrived (because I am weird like that) and I was surprised how far things were from each other. For instance,  I imagined that the Golden Gate Park and the Golden Gate Bridge were manageable walking distances from each other. And they are, I guess, but it was a much further walk then I realized. Public transportation is key in the city. If you are going to be staying 3 days or longer, I suggest the Muni 3 day pass. It is $26 per person and it gives you 3 days of unlimited access to buses and cable cars. That being said, the buses were very unpredictable, so be prepared to wait or if you are brave you can walk. 😉

4. Bring hair ties and/or hats, if you have long hair. San Francisco can be very windy; which is awesome. The breeze from the bay is cool, refreshing and has a unique sweet smell to it. On the bridge, as you can imagine, it is very windy; so I suggest you wear your hair up or in a hat. Otherwise you will be fighting it all day and have a tangled mess at the end.

5. This is a given, but wear tennis shoes or some sort of shoe that is flat and comfortable. It is very hilly and steep in some parts of the city. The shoes that I wore were Goga Walk2 by Skechers.  They are lightweight, cushioning and supportive. San Francisco locals were casual in their dress and they all definitely wore tennis shoes or flats! The only times I saw people dressed up, were at the bars, so just take a cab for that occasion! 🙂

6. Buy your Alcatraz tickets in advance. We did this last time (the time where my flight was cancelled and I couldn’t go… bad day) and we lost our money on my ticket. And this time around, it was up in the air whether or not if Randy was even going to go. We didn’t know for certain until about a week before our trip. So by the time we knew for certain, the tickets to Alcatraz were sold out. Our situation was different from most, it was a business trip for Randy and it was labor day weekend. But if you plan to go, book in advance – that way you won’t have to worry about it later.

7. Eat at the Grove. It was obviously, my favorite place to eat for breakfast. We went every day! It was truly that amazing. You don’t have to go every day like we did, but go at least once! You will not regret it!

Well, that is my two-cents! I hope you get a chance to visit San Francisco… it truly is such a fun city!

 

 


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I Left My Heart in San Francisco – Part 4

Day Three:

This was our last day here and we couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day! Beautiful blue skies with not a single cloud in sight. We had a great view of the city from our hotel. We stayed at the Westin St. Frances in Union Square – great hotel with awesome views.

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We started our day off, you guessed it, at the Grove. 🙂 Huevos Rancheros for breakfast today!

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Next we took the bus to the Golden Gate Bridge Park. It is a beautiful park with colorful flowers, people playing music, others lounging around on blankets having a picnic – just a perfect way to spend a beautiful day in San Francisco.

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This is the Dahlia Garden with the Conservatory of Flowers in the background.

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Since the park is huge, we decided to rent a tandem bike to see it all. Now to give you a little back story here, I hate biking. I mean, I am really, really bad at it. You know that saying, “Like riding a bike”? Yeah, not for me. So I was extremely nervous about renting a bike, that is why we went with the tandem bike. Randy did all the steering and I just sat there white knuckling it the whole time! But I am glad we rented it, we got to see more of the park this way and nothing bad happened! No falling over, no running into things… which is what I do by myself on a bike! Ha!

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We biked all the way to end of the park to see the Pacific. We stopped to admire the windmill on the way.

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Such a beautiful day! So blue! 🙂

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There were some really cool rocks and cliffs at this end of the beach. There is a restaurant right above the cliffs called The Cliff House. I wish we had time to go there, but maybe next time!

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We took our shoes off and enjoyed walking in the hot sand but our feet were quickly cooled off in the ocean.

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Very cold indeed!

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The direction that we came from. The beach here was so wide! And there were blacken pieces of wood here and there in the sand where people have had bonfires on the beach. That is now officially on my bucket list – bonfire at the beach. 🙂

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After we biked back through the park and returned the bike, we were pretty tired. So we stopped by a cafe and had cold brewed coffee for the first time. It was a little bit more bitter-tasting than regular coffee, at least I thought so. But with sugar and cream it was delicious and refreshing!

This is the cold brew apparatus… neat uh?

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Next on the list, we took the bus to Alamo Square. This square was one of my most favorite places in San Francisco. It was breezy, which felt nice after biking all day and the view is spectacular! The beautiful Painted Ladies, unfortunately, one of the houses was being worked on.

Anyone singing the Full House theme song? Yeah, I did too!

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But Randy was able to get this shot, without the scaffolding!

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There were people there sitting on blankets, drinking wine and eating crackers and cheese, reading books, throwing frisbees and playing catch with their dogs. So perfect! Next time we go to San Francisco I want to have a picnic here!

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Our traditional feet picture!

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Since it was such a great day, we decided to go back to the Golden Gate Bridge one more time. We wanted to see it not covered in fog. We found our bus stop and waited for an hour! The day was slipping away and I didn’t want to waste it waiting for a bus. So we decided to walk to it… again! We didn’t make it all the way to the bridge, we only made it to Crissy Fields, which was close enough for me!

Thanks to Randy’s photography skills we were still able to get some good pictures of the bridge.

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Then we made the long trek back to our hotel. We had to walk a while to get to the correct bus. But we were able to admire the city along the way!

Isn’t the details of this building so pretty? A lot of the houses looked like this. 🙂

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This was a shop I really wanted to go into, but it was closed. 🙁 Maybe next time! But it was probably a good thing I didn’t go in there, I could have spent a fortune in there I am sure!

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After resting a little we had sushi at this tiny, tiny restaurant. It serious could only hold about 10 people! But the sushi was delicious, especially after a long, fun day! After dinner we headed up Nob Hill to the Fairmont Hotel and enjoyed a drink at their bar, The Tonga Room. It was such a cool bar. Every 15 mins they simulated a rainstorm with rain (in the middle where the pool was), flashing lights for lightning and thunder. We ordered a drink called, The Zombie – if the title didn’t give you a clue, we only had one each. 🙂

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After enjoying the bar, we explored the hotel lobby. This hotel is so pretty. It reminded me of old hollywood glamour.

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They had the prettiest bathroom!

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After a very long, busy day we headed back to our hotel.

San Francisco was such a joy to visit and I hope we get to go again. There is tons more that I want to see that I didn’t get a chance to see this time. 3 full days just isn’t enough time to see it all. I could spend a good week here and stay busy every single day. I hope to go back and see more of the city and to take day trips to wine country.

Until next time!


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I Left My Heart in San Francisco – Part 3

Day Two:

We started our day much like the first, breakfast at the Grove. I told you this place was amazing!

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Next was the adventure of the bus system. So in San Francisco, their buses don’t quite run like ones we have used before. And the bus schedule online does not match up to what happens in real life. After trying to find a bus to take us to the Golden Gate Bridge for about an hour, we decided to walk to the bridge. Probably not the brightest idea we ever had. But alas, we saw a lot of the city on foot, which was nice. All in all, it was about an 8 mile hike from where we started to the middle of the bridge. We started taking pictures when we could see the bridge, which you can see from a long, long way off. 🙂 (San Francisco is much bigger than it is on the map, FYI.)

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Quote from Carl Sandburg, ” The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over the harbor and city on silent haunches, and then moves on.” His house is near where we live so when we saw this stone, we were like, “I know him!” Nerds to core! Note: That was a movie quote, in case no one caught that. 

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And we kept walking.

And we walked some more.

And some more.

And just when I didn’t think I could walk any further, we made it to the Golden Gate Bridge.

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The Golden Gate Bridge has to be one of my favorite engineering marvels. Construction started in 1933 and the bridge was opened in 1937. Just 4 years, 4 years! That is incredible! At the time, it was the world’s largest suspension bridge and constructed across a very treacherous strait. It was Joseph Strauss who came up with the design of the bridge in the 1920’s – all with a pencil and a notebook. Pretty impressive!

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As you can see, it is quite busy on the bridge. Word of advice: Beware of local bikers on the pedestrian walkway. There are two lanes on the walkway, one for bikers and one for walkers. Problem is that there are many, many walkers and many tourists on bikes. So when you are doing your best to walk along your designated path and avoiding tourists on bikes who don’t know what they are doing; all of sudden you will have to jump to safety as a local comes zooming down the walkway all the while yelling at you to get out of the way.

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Below the bridge is a Civil War Era fort. Construction of the fort began in 1853 and it took 8 years to complete this fort. The fort had it’s first cannon mounted in 1861 and the Civil War ended in 1865. Needless to say, this fort saw very little action.

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You can’t really understand how large this bridge is until you stand on it, looking up towards the top. I cannot begin to explain how large this bridge is. It is amazing!

 

 

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I wanted to across the bridge to Sausalito, but by the time we got to the middle of the bridge, we were exhausted (8 mile mark at this point). We finally figured out the bus system and went to dinner.

Randy took me to a restaurant called, The Stinking Rose. Everything about this restaurant is about garlic… everything. They have garlic hanging from the ceiling, you can buy garlic infused everything, and everything on the menu has garlic in it. Warning: We reeked of garlic for about 12 hours after this dinner!

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We ordered their Garlic Hot Tub, which is a small skillet of roasted garlic cloves swimming in olive oil and spices. The garlic cloves are so soft that when you put it on your bread, it spreads like butter. It was delicious!

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After dinner we took a cable car back to our hotel and watched the sunset. We were so tired, we literally could not go anymore. We had a great day and I loved walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. It truly is an amazing feat of engineering and one of my favorite things we did in San Francisco.

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Stayed tuned for our trip to The Golden Gate Bridge Park!

 


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I Left My Heart In San Francisco – Part 2

Day One:

We woke up to a beautiful morning in San Francisco. First on the agenda, breakfast with Randy’s co-workers. The restaurant we went to was called The Grove best. place. ever!  This restaurant has made-to-order fresh-squeezed orange juice and it is out of this world amazing! And their food is just as good! I ordered eggs Benedict with bacon and avocado. Oh my goodness… it was so good! I cannot rave enough about this restaurant!

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After breakfast, we headed to Fisherman’s Wharf. Fisherman’s Wharf reminded me of broad way on the beach in Myrtle Beach, SC. It is filled with tourist shops and restaurants. Pier 39 is touristy but it still pretty cool because of the sea lions.

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Pier 39 offers a pretty cool view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

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After Fisherman’s Wharf we stopped by Ghirardelli’s for some chocolate ice-cream!

Then we parted ways and took our first cable car ride!

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We stopped by Lombard street. It is known to be one of the crookedest street in America. There are a total of 8 hairpin turns in this little block.

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And it is steep too!

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The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the city.

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That night we met up with another coworker of Randy’s for dinner in Chinatown! I have been super excited to see Chinatown in San Francisco because it is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and it is the oldest in North America! It even has its own entrance! How cool is that?

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The architecture is pretty spectacular!

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Yum! R&G Lounge for dinner.

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To finish our day we went to a bar called, Top of the Mark. It is a bar at the top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel at the top of Nob Hill. It has the best view of the city. We enjoyed a cocktail and watched the fog roll into the city.

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What a view!

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We watched the sunset and the city gradually turn on. So very pretty, despite all the fog. Sorry for the quality of photos here. The fog made it a bit difficult. 🙂

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And here is the view outside the hotel, on top of Nob Hill.

Stay tuned for the next day, The Golden Gate Bridge!

 

 

 


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I Left My Heart In San Francisco – Part 1

It is easy to fall in love with San Francisco almost immediately. I haven’t been everywhere, but out of all the places I have visited, this city had the most unique vibe. San Francisco has an abundance of diverse cultures; which is marked not only by their food, but their architecture. You have the neighborhood of Nob Hill, which was built during the gold rush era. You have Fisherman’s Wharf, which is like broadway on the beach filled with tourist shops. And you have Chinatown filled with Chinese lanterns and intricate carvings decorating its buildings. And the restaurants – any cuisine you can imagine is here!

San Francisco is a laid back, easy going, everything is accepted and loved kind of city. Everyone is friendly and open with a sense of pride in their city – as they should be. San Francisco and it’s people are beauitful.

I arrived in San Francisco late in the evening on my first day. I was meeting Randy, who came several days before me for work. This night was the last night of Randy’s conference, which is the biggest event they have all week. There is free food and drinks and a live band – which happened to be The Black Keys. I got to meet all of Randy’s co-workers who I have heard so much about.

 

 

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I didn’t get to see much of the city this night, but it was lovely meeting all of Randy’s co-workers. And the party was tons of fun! Stay tuned for our next day!