Our Maple Tree

Keeping up with The Maples


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Silobration 2017

Move over Disney World, Magnolia Market at the Silos is the new happiest place on earth! I can’t believe that I was lucky enough to visit the Silos during the biggest party of the year – Silobration. It was a crazy, fantastic, whirlwind of fun and it was over in a blink of an eye. I can not wait to go back and experience it all over again!

I went with my mother-in-law for a girls’ weekend and we had the greatest time. In fact, we were so excited to be there that we arrived at the Silos before the sun every, single morning. It was the best time to go because not many people were there and we got to see the Silos all lit up plus a beautiful Texan sunrise. Not a bad way to start the day, if you ask me.

To add to the all ready glorious mornings, we enjoyed sweet cuppin’ cakes (100 points to anyone who can guess this quote) from the bakery and the best cup of joe I have ever had in my life (at the coffee truck, Common Grounds)! The seasonal cupcakes were campfire and pumpkin spice, so I was in heaven! Surprisingly, my favorite was the nutty cinnamon roll…oh my goodness, I still dream about that roll.

 

I am really glad we decided to visit during the Silobration because there was tons of shopping to do at the street vendors. Without the vendors, there would not have been a whole lot to do. Some of my favorite shops were at the Silos – The Jones Market, Little Unicorn, and Gigi Pip. I was so ecstatic to meet the girls behind Gigi Pip! They make my all time favorite hats and they were the sweetest girls ever!

And let’s not forget the food trucks! I mean, could there have been a better place for me to go? Everything I ate was amazing, especially the gourmet grilled cheese sandwich (sourdough bread, bacon, basil, cheese, and avocado)!

The market itself was spectacular! Every nook and cranny was so inspiring and beautiful. You could tell that Joanna had a hand in everything in this store. I wanted it all in my house! Luckily, most of the things in her store are also available online. But seeing her products on display and seeing how she decorated was so much better than shopping online. I can’t wait to get home and order some things for my house!

With it being Silobration, the store was crazy full. It was incredibly hard to move around but the staff are so very helpful and friendly. Even though they checked people out quickly and efficiently, I never once felt rushed or not their number one priority. Their customer service was on point!

The attention to detail at the Silos was astonishing. Brick pavers, hand letter signs, subway title, gorgeous light fixtures, cedar window boxes filled to the brim with cabbage & pumpkins, porch swings, ample seating, photo booths with staff there to take your picture for you, and pumpkins every where you turned. I mean, just wow! They have seriously thought of everything.

We also got to enjoy the concert and saw Chip & Joanna in person! They are honest to goodness, good people. All weekend long, I heard people telling me how the Gaines paid for their trip to the Silos or how they paid for their purchases in the store. And all the finalists in the Chip Starter Campaign got the money they needed to fulfill their dreams. All six finalists! Not only are they generous, they also are unwavering in their faith; which is something that I greatly admire. No amount of money or fame have swayed their hearts on what truly matters. We could definitely use more people like Chip & Joanna Gaines in this world.

We had the most fun at the Silos and it truly is a magical place. If you ever need an idea for a girls’ weekend, Magnolia Market is the place to go! Thank you Chip & Joanna Gaines for creating such a wonderful, beautiful place for all to enjoy!

 


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Solar Eclipse Fun

As some of you know I went to school for physics, but the main reason I chose the physics program, is because I love astronomy. My concentration was in astronomy and I loved every second of it. Appalachian State has a wonderful astronomy program offering so many different opportunities for students. For introductory students, they have an observation deck with a retractable roof and about 20 11″ automated telescopes. For intermediate students, they have a private lab with an observation dome housing an 16″ telescope. And for their advanced students, they have an entire observatory off the Parkway with an amazing 32″ telescope with all the latest observation tech. Yeah – it’s pretty awesome.

My college years were amazing and I sometimes miss the late nights observing the cosmos. But I don’t miss those tests or those all nighters studying! But I am super excited to be witnessing the solar eclipse this weekend! And because I celebrate everything, I put together a few ideas to help all of you to celebrate, too! 😉

Since we will be traveling to see totality, I put together some coloring sheets for Ada. I found these free printables that are all about our solar system. I kept it simple and just picked out the star, the moon, the sun, and of course, the solar eclipse. I am using a cookie sheet as a lap desk for Ada to use (which I am sure everyone knows about thanks to Pinterest). She can use it on our trip to color and play with her magnetic letters & numbers.

I found this craft for Ada to do that seems a bit more age appropriate for her (besides coloring). Plus, the finished results look really pretty.

These t-shirts are so darn cute and so corny! Right up my alley! 😉

There are tons of great ideas for eclipse themed food on Pinterest. Everything from eclipse cookies, galaxy popcorn, and sunshine cupcakes. Since we will be traveling, I decided to keep it rather simple – Moon Pies, Sun Chips, and Sun Drop is the way we are going! Plus, who doesn’t love Moon Pies? 😉

And to make things more fun, adding star & moon shape balloons will add the perfect touch!

I hope you all get a chance to enjoy & marvel at God’s beautiful creation on Monday! And I hope you make a party out of it! 🙂 Happy Weekend ya’ll!


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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!

 

 


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San Francisco – Take 2!

I get a second chance at San Francisco! I am super excited! Just 3 more days and I will be in the beautiful San Francisco! Eek!

As you all know, from my Valentine’s Day post, how much going to this city means to me. So I have had my itinerary planned out for years!

First on the list, Golden Gate Bridge and Park!

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Alcatraz Island – Welcome to the Rock! Yeah, I am totally going to be saying that the moment I arrive on the island.

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Riding the cable cars! They are going to be so much fun!

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Observing the sea lions at Pier 39.

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Admiring “The Painted Ladies”.

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Going to the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building. I have read that the food is amazing there!

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And much much more! Union Square, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf and Sausalito. And lets not forget the restaurants I want to go to: Blue Bottle Cafe, Mama’s, The Stinking Rose, The Fog Diner and more! And on top of all this wonderfulness… trying all the local California wines!

So what are your suggestions for San Francisco?


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Cruise Fun Part 2

The third day was spent at Nassau Bahamas. We went to Atlantis and enjoyed their beautiful beach and aquarium. The beach here was breathtakingly beautiful. The water was a gorgeous blue and the sands super soft.

The only thing about Nassau that I really hate are all the pushy sales people. They try to sell you everything. Touristy junk that no one really wants. They try to sell you water, bracelets, T-shirts, hats, etc, etc. And I figured that once we got on the beach that it would be better but it wasn’t. There were people trying to charge you for everything. The chair you are using, the umbrella you paid for, no you can’t use that chair you paid for this kind of chair. It just goes on and on. So if you ever go to Nassau, be prepared to fight for what you paid for and to say no, a lot.

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But besides all the trouble, we were still able to relax on the beach with our coconuts!

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The aquarium was really neat. They had stingrays, sharks and saw fishes. And the best part about the aquarium was that it was about 20 degrees cooler than on the beach. It was nice to take a break from the heat and watch all the fishes swim around you.

I love Randy’s laugh/smile in these photos.

We did rent two jet skis. They were so much fun! It was my first time on a jet ski on the ocean. It was much rougher than I expected. The only time I had ridden a jet ski was on a lake. But it was great! I would definitely love to do it again sometime!

The fourth day was another day at sea. Since we spent 3 days in the sun, I spent the remainder of the trip in the shade. 🙂

Overall, the trip was fantastic. We had a wonderful time with our friends and it was so nice to do absolutely nothing. I feel rejuvenated but I am still in vacation mode. But I won’t be in that mode for long. I have a long summer ahead of me – working full time, taking a class for work and being involved in numerous church activities. But there will be fun times too, it is summertime after all! 😉


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Cruise Fun Part 1

For my birthday this year, we went on a five day cruise to the Bahamas. I know! I have the greatest husband ever! We went with another couple. We have been begging our friends to go on a trip with us for years and we finally got our wish! 😉 It was so much fun to go on a trip with another couple. I hope we go on another trip together soon!

We took the cruise out of Charleston, SC on Carnival Fantasy to Little Stirrup Cay and Nassau Bahamas. The Charleston port is confusing and small. It is nothing like the Florida ports I have been too. But the people there are very friendly and helpful.

 

Our first day was a day at sea and my 28th birthday. We spent most of the day sleeping in the sun, drinking fruity drinks, eating junk food and watching the hairy guy contests. It was glorious laying around doing nothing! And for those of you wondering, I wore 100 SPF sunscreen… basically, paint to protect my very fair skin. 🙂

This night was also formal night. So we of course, dressed up and went around the boat taking cheesy pictures.

Yeah… I told you we participated in the cheesy photos on the boat. 🙂 We had fun though and that’s all that matters!

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Then they sang happy birthday to me at dinner.

It was an awesome birthday. I got to relax, laugh with good friends and eat cake.

The second day was spent at Little Stirrup Cay, which is a Carnival owned island in the Bahamas. There are a good amount of activities to participate in, but they cost a lot. We wanted to do the jet ski excursion, but it was $100 per person for only 1 hour. We thought that was a bit much. So we just lounged around on the beach all day. I was under the umbrella for majority of the day, of course. 🙂

Barefoot beach on this island was very beautiful. You could walk a long ways into the ocean and the water only came up to mid-calf. There were little fishes and conchs to admire.

We did do a little snorkeling on the other side of the island. The water was so clear you really didn’t need snorkeling gear, but the goggles did help us see the fish better.

A beautiful day +  a beautiful beach + great company = a perfect day!

Stay tune for part 2!