Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last Day of the Year

It's the last day of the year. One of my favorite days of the year. I like making changes, rerouting, and starting anew. Most of all, I like reflection. I like stepping back and examining the year, reviewing my successes and mistakes, my sound decisions and my impulsive ones. This is a blog-year in review, for posterity.

January 2012 was a conflicted month for me. We rang in the new year in Arkansas with my college friends. I was excited about all the travel we would be doing: friend's weddings, our honeymoon, etc. And then a woman was murdered in her apartment in Austin in the wee hours of New Year's Day, and two others were assaulted. They were all about my age. I spent much of January afraid to leave my home, but also not feeling safe in my home. I declared it my "fear zone," in fact.

I started to regain my sense of self in February. I was trying Weight Watchers (ha). Tim started a new job and stopped working nights. We were able to pay our bills for the first time in months. For Valentine's Day, Tim took me to see Wicked, for the first time ever. It was an outstanding night out. I spent a lot of time selling paper, realizing how much I didn't like it, and prepping our guest room for company.

We had our first guests in March! Anne came to stay for four days, and it was pretty exciting. It was so good to have my boon companion with me again, and having her here made me realize a lot of things I love about Austin. I started meeting with an amazing trainer - determined to win back my body. And then the Hootenanny happened! With the help of my cousin Karen, I threw my sister's baby shower. Tim and I celebrated one year of marriage. That was a hurdle.

Right before Easter in April, we brought home three pullets. The day they finally started laying was pretty exciting! We also hosted both our families for an Easter potluck. I had a really terrible dream that shook me to my core. I started contemplating quitting my Paper job, for more exciting ventures.

I quit my job in May. It wasn't a significant job, but I had been there close to a year and was a good employee. I was just dying inside, and Tim was sick of hearing me talk about it. The day after my last day of work, Samson was born and I became an Auntie! Then I had my 27th birthday, with little to-do. 

Unfortuantely, June will forever be stuck as "LASIK month." I had my LASIK surgery the first week of June. I won't get into that agony here - there's not enough space. A week later, I rebounded into weddings! First, I coordinated a wedding for Tim's twin cousins in Surfside, TX. Then the week after that we traveled to California for a week long trip for Tim & Caitlin's wedding on Treasure Island. Despite getting really sick the second day we were there, it was a really fun trip.

We had our second round of guests come to stay in July. Another friend from college came to visit, and we went to a Roller Derby - my first time. I started guest blogging for Sunday Hatch. Oscar turned 5 years old. 

In August, I started planning our trip to Greece. That pretty much consumed most of my month. I spent hours reading the guidebook, and scouring Trip Advisor for tips. It helped that I was unemployed at the time, so I made it my full-time job.

At the end of September, we packed our bags and took off for Greece. Most of the front-end of that month was spent with me agonizing about the trip itself, however, it turned out to be a fabulous trip. We didn't come home until October.

October was full of wedding planning for me. I worked several weddings for another company, and continued planning my own accounts, as well. We spent a good amount of time reveling in our recent trip to Santorini and Mainland Greece.

We voted together, in person, and as a married couple for the first time in November. Tim voted for the first time, ever. We hosted Thanksgiving for Tim's family at our home, which was special and fun. I completed my first, really big, independent wedding account, and came to a realization: this should be my "real job."

I was blessed with signing two more accounts at the last minute for December weddings. What wasn't a blessing was that they took place in the same weekend. Tim got a pretty huge promotion. 12/12/12 happened - the last triple digit date of our lifetime. We survived the end of the Mayan Calendar, but my computer did not, and I made some gifts for Christmas.

And now here we are: so excited for all the fun 2013 will bring. And I say: bring it on.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Crafts

So the world did not end, but my computer did take a final bow. For two weeks I went without while we took it to the doctor, crossed our fingers, and got a quote. Finally, a few days ago we decided no amount of crossing fingers or bandaids were going to fix that boo boo in a reasonable fashion, and over the river and through the woods to the Apple store we went.

Now that I'm back up and running, I wanted to share one of the christmas craftsy gifts I did this year. This was a tutorial I found a very long time ago on Pinterest, and was waiting for the right timing to put it into use. You can see the tutorial here for complete instructions.

Turning Old Recipes into Tea Towels
For anyone who can run a hemline on a machine AND happens to be just a little tech-savy, this tutorial is great. I didn't really struggle with any step, except with how time-consuming it actually was to hem eight of these in one sitting. I requested my Grandmother write out one of her traditional dessert recipes on plain white notebook paper. Then, following the instructions I edited the scanned copy of the recipe and uploaded it to Spoonflower. The material was nice, and the delivery was on time - which was lucky for me since I waited until the last second to order it! I did all the cutting, hemming, and ironing in one evening.

The towels were printed four to a yard with a blue border so that the back hem was a little colorful. I also added a little lacy loop to one corner of each towel for hanging-up convenience.

To make the gift a little more substantial, I came up with a special way of "packaging" them. Each towel-recipient also received a box of yellow cake mix - the main ingredient in the recipe - and this sturdy wooden spoon. I used these initial ornament gift tags from my favorite place on earth (aka Anthropologie) and some red baker's twine to tie it all together.

Of course, these are really meant more as a decorative keepsake, but they could be useful as well. I liked that I could create something honoring my grandmother and give that gift to her and her daughters and granddaughters (my cousins and sisters). What's neat, too, is that I only chose one recipe this year. I could, over several years, create a set for everyone.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Did you know that today is the last of the triple digit dates... in our life time? We won't see triple digits again until January 1, 2101. If I lived till then, I would be 115 years old. I really hope I don't. I will just have to take advantage of tomorrow, I suppose, and do something exciting. Like actually put on real pants, instead of pajamas.

Despite this momentous day falling on a Wednesday this year, there has apparently been a swell of people rushing (and planning well in advance) to be married on this once in a lifetime numerical date. The reason? "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Hmmm. Isn't getting married to the person you love THE once in a lifetime opportunity? I know I semi-cared what day I got married on, and I certainly picked numbers that I liked - since I had a choice. But waiting for several years to get married on a certain date? That comment just struck me as a little funny.

It will be even funnier if the world really does end on 12/21/2012. But I guess no one will be laughing then.

Well good luck to all of those getting hitched, and to the man who will be celebrating his 100th birthday, and seeing 12/12/12 for the second time in his life!

Happy 12/12/12!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Winding Down with a lot of Ups

If I have been remiss about blogging, I shall have to blame it on my friend Danielle for loaning us The Hunger Game series for Tim to read. This resulted in me stalking Tim and the books every evening this last week, waiting for him to finish and fall asleep, so that I could stay up until the wee hours solidly intwined in the story... for the second time. 

We are feeling good the last few months. Particularly, a lot has changed and developed for both of us and our careers. And they have all been Ups, fortunately. Typically, I spend more time thinking and writing about what I'm thankful for right around Thanksgiving. I really try to use that holiday to refocus, and prepare myself as we approach Christmas and (especially) the New Year to have the right attitude and mindset going forward. I try to be reflective and humbled. This is not easy for me because I'm a pretty self-absorbed person, and when good things happen to me I tend to think I deserve them. But of course, I had a big wedding the weekend after our turkey celebration, and as a result spent the weeks leading up to it very much consumed by other things. It's only now that I have gotten around to starting the annual holiday assessment: looking back on the year, finding all the good things, and feeling humbled.

This year, and wedding season, are winding down finally. After the big weekend coming up, I will be done for the year 2012. And what an exciting year it has been! I am both eager and slightly nervous to break out the old resolution list I made from last year to see where I stand. But that, my friends, is another post for another day. It is always nice to look back on decisions you made (quitting my dead-end job), even when you had very little faith things would turn out well, and see that pieces are falling into place. I will let Tim say "I told you so," because he did. I admit I didn't trust him, but I have him to thank for supporting me - emotionally, physically, and financially - to give me the freedom to try out self-employment.

This time last year, we were about to be blessed with a big transition work wise for Tim, and him finding a good home at a great company. This year, we have been blessed yet again, eleven months later, to celebrate his hard work for that company and enjoy a super promotion. He's very excited and rejuvenated, and feels like a long, dedicated year has paid off. I am so proud.

Of course, there are other big things that happened to use this year as well. We gained a nephew who's adorably cute. We had the good fortune to take several memorable trips. We had lots of house guests. We watched friends get married and start lives together. We deepened friendships. We sent good wishes with sister/brother moving overseas for an exciting adventure. We settled even further into our home. We didn't die of Texas summer heat.

Sometimes just surviving a year with little to no bumps, scraps, or bruises, feels like the biggest accomplishment. I'll give this one a gold star. It's always nice to end the year on a good note. I have a hard time being unhappy this time of year - I love the traditions, the spirit and the season so much. We are winding down our year with a lot of Ups, and are so thankful.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pumpkin Gingerbread

I want to share with you today the recipe that changed my life. The first time I made this I shocked myself because I had never baked anything quite so delicious in my whole life. I loved it so much, I had to share it. So I started baking batches and taking them to neighbors, family members, and friends. It was a hit. I shared it on Facebook, and a sort of fan club was created. It is now a staple holiday item that I bake, at least 4-5 times during cooler weather. I had to stop baking it the rest of the year so that it would remain special.

Pumpkin Gingerbread

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil, and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.
  3. In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, or about 1 hour. Let cool.
  5. My tip: serve toasted with salted butter.
This recipe is remarkably simple, spicy, and deliciously good. 
Do not hesitate - run to the kitchen and bake it today!

Good food is meant to be shared.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Very Felted Christmas

I have been up to my nose in weddings the last few months. It's been a pleasant surprise to have so much unplanned business, but I'm soooooo ready to have downtime, get off my computer, and just breathe in the Holidays.

Speaking of Holidays... I did make a Bourbon Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving.
It went from this:

To this:

To this:

A happy pie, is a demolished pie!

Thanksgiving was lovely! We had all of my husband's family over to our house for good food and quality time. Aaaaaand we all took naps. Naps are one of the best indicators of a holiday, in my mind. Even the puppies napped, while I finished off my Felt Ball Garland. Rudolph dog! 

I felted all the wool several weeks ago, following this tutorial but hadn't had the time to string it. After a big meal and some chitchat on Turkey Day, I decided I was ready to see what the final product would look like. I used red & white baker's twine, and a completely random order for the different colors, and I'm in love with the result. Often I finish a Pinterest-inspired or a DIY craft project, and I hate it and want to trash it. This one, however, was lots of fun, and the final product was something I will enjoy getting out every year at Christmas for many years to come. 

After Thanksgiving was over, the hubs and I spontaneously decided to go get our tree. I've always wanted a "Charlie Brown" tree - one that was sorta scrawny and needing some love. This year I got my wish. We found the perfect little CBtree at the neighborhood tree farm.

This holiday has me very much infatuated with homemade-looking ornaments, and particularly felted creations. It's the Swedish craze.... Does anyone spot a certain polar bear ornament in there? In fact, there are several that I mentioned featured on my tree.

The best thing of all was this tree took me less than fifteen minutes to decorate (can't you tell), and I will probably change it multiple times before Christmas even arrives. But I love it.

Hope you're counting the days, right along with me!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hurry Up & Wait

So much of life here lately is happening on what I call "Hurry Up & Wait" time. Patience is not my greatest virtue, and sometimes I wonder if I was blessed with any amount at all. When I step back, and look at my whole life from a distance, it's easy to see that this inconsistent timing is always in play. We are always hurrying, always rushing, always planning and plotting, and then we almost always have to WAIT for everything to fall into place. The control we have over these situations is minimal at best, and mostly imaginary, in my opinion. But that doesn't stop us from trying.

Since May I've gone from status: job, to status: no job, to status: an almost overwhelming amount of wedding work all in a few short months. Of course, the months I sat around waiting for stuff to happen didn't seem short, but they were in retrospect. It's been amazing for me to watch the small bud of an idea I had a couple of years ago, finally begin to bloom overnight. What is sad to me now, is that I didn't have complete faith in myself until I saw actual, tangible proof: proof that this is what I'm supposed to be doing right now. I managed to wait, despite trying to hurry everything along, and now things have started falling into place.

This blog is mostly personal, but occasionally I like to talk about what I do for a living. For newcomers, that is planning weddings. A few years ago, I showed up at a friend's wedding as the designated "house party." This wedding had been planned pretty much perfectly, and I would expect nothing less of the Bride - she is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and a fellow type-A personality. (I mean that in the BEST way possible.) When this house partier arrived, my one duty suddenly and voluntarily turned in to many. I'm not claiming I saved the day, this wedding would have happened no matter what, but I saw a need and I dove right in. The DJ had questions about cues, the groomsmen were still working on their entrance, the caterer wanted to move this table from here to there. And after scrambling from one place to another, running messages from this party to that party, I claimed my seat - out of breath - and ready for everything to begin. My husband and good friend sharing my pew were staring at me. 

"This should be your job."

Those were the words, that started it all. As I sat there and watched two special people commit their lives to one another, I realized that my abhorrence of weddings was fading away. Weddings can be delightful. They are full of heightened emotion, big personalities, touching moments, and the best people watching ever. Weddings are an awful lot of Hurry Up & Wait, too. From a coordinating perspective, you're pulling hundreds of people and vendors and details all together for one momentous day. It's all about timing. It's all about knowing when to hurry and rush, and when to be patient and wait. And without fail, things will usually happen - one way or another - no matter how meticulously you plan them. So you have to be willing to accept change.

The lesson here for me is that I need to remind myself that in periods of "Hurry," there will always be periods of "Wait" just around the corner. I will have a chance to catch my breath, rest my feet, close my computer, before I need to "Hurry Up" again.

All things that are good shall be accomplished in time and style. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ornamental November

via Pinterest
Once upon a time, I used to be a total Grinch. Like people had to wake me up on Christmas morning afternoon, to open presents. I was that (un)excited about it.

These days I can't wait for the holidays. Mostly, because it marks colder weather, warmer clothes, and a less sweaty me. It also seems to be a time of year where my creative generator starts humming, and I get the desire to be very crafty. (I'll be sharing some of the craftiness I hope is coming, soon.) I do however, support Thanksgiving as stand alone holiday, and it does irritate me that it seems to get glossed over. Usually, I try to busy myself with giving thanks, rather than with being irritated, but I'm not always successful. I mean, who would want to skip my awesome Bourbon Pecan Pie. You wouldn't, trust me.

This year I'm just so excited about all the Christmas goodies that are out there that I can't help my eagerness to prep for decorating, and it's barely November! By goodies, I do mean the awesome decorations I am already seeing in my favorite stores. This is a once a year opportunity to decorate your house, but not have to worry about getting tired of anything you buy or put up, because it's going to come down in a month anyway. A decorator's heaven. 

In the meantime... I have to show you all my favorite Christmas ornaments I saw around town this week! The following were spotted at Anthropologie. Those people should seriously pay me to promote their products. I'm that serious about their overpriced clothing and home goods items. And now their holiday decorations. They could pay me in ornaments! Brilliant.

Recently, I've fallen in love with sea-faring themed "stuff." I'm loving the ships, whales, seahorses, and mermaids I'm seeing everywhere. This little ship was so cute and handmade looking, and I thought the whale would be a beautiful complimentary ornament for the tree.

I almost cried this polar bear was so cute. And then I saw his little polar bear tushy, and I did cry! Oh dear. As if that weren't enough... he's caught a fish, so he's not starving. This little bear doesn't survive on a diet of coca-cola alone. That, in and of itself, is refreshing. *pop* Ahhhh!

Then at West Elm I really hit the jack pot. I could have bought almost every single ornament in there. I'll spare you viewing what you could see on their website, but here are a few of my favorites that might show their faces on my tree this year.

These glass pine cones and acorns were so dainty and pretty. What a great way to add some traditional wintery nature to your tree, but in a fancy-schmancy, bright and shiny way! Those gold pinecones were also pretty, but I think I could make my own with pinecones left over from last year and some gold spray paint. *craft project*

On that same note, you could probably make this cute little twiggy star, as well, with sticks from your back yard and some baker's twine. They also have a version that acts as a tree topper. Super darling. And I love these gold and silver metal leaves for some bling.

Last year, my younger sister gave my mom, older sister, and me a different woodland animal ornament like the ones on the left. I got a hedgehog - my favorite! I guess they were so popular that stores are still carrying them this year, and I think I might just have to add to my collection! I loved this little fuzzy bunny and his sweet little smiling face. Handcrafted felt gets me every time, apparently.

Looking back, I'm seeing a trend - neutrals, animals, and gold shiny things. Sounds perfect to me!

What will you hang on your tree?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

LASIK - five months of new eyes

It's time for my 5 month update on the LASIK surgery I had at the beginning of June.

I had my 5 month exam on Monday, and the surgeon said I was "all healed up!" Sometimes I feel otherwise, but I guess she's refering to my "flaps." She looked at my actual eyeballs for . . . Oh . . . less than 10 seconds and pronounced me healed.

Here are the previous posts for recaps, if you're interested:

1. Pre-op thoughts
2. Post-op review
3. Two month followup

When I last updated, I had finished a round of steroid drops due to my TLS (transient light sensitivity) which apparently affects a large percentage of patients who have all-laser surgery (or blade-free). In addition, it is more common a side effect for women - aren't we lucky? Basically I would get waves of a blindly, burning, stinging sensation in my eyes and would, at times, weep uncontrollable in response. Not "boo-hooing" tears. My eyes would just leak. It wasn't necessarily always bright, blinding sunlight that triggered it. It was scary that this would often happen when I was driving with tinted windows and sunglasses on. Sometimes it happen just by the light of my bedside lamp.  The round of drops lasted 10 or 11 days.

For the duration of the steroid my eyes felt amazing and the issues I'd been having with dryness also disappeared. For about two weeks after the round of drops was completed, my eyes still felt great. Then the sensations returned, the weeping started again, and I was getting really irritated by it all. So I called for another appointment. This time she put me on the same type of steroid drop, but for a full month and a different dosage per day. I was just finishing the drops up when we went to Greece. I thankfully had no problems with my eyes on our trip!

It's been over a month now since I finished the second round of drops and, while I'm still slightly sensitive to very bright sunlight (but who isn't?), I haven't had any really terrible episodes. Sometimes my eyes get really tired from the computer screen or watching TV in the dark, but I realize I'm still healing. They aren't kidding when they say it can take up to a year for you to fully complete your recovery.

I can't remember who, but someone recently asked me if I would do it all over, now that I'm on the other side. I still can't really answer that. Now, of course, I know about the initial pain and the long-ish road of recovery that I completely did not expect and was unprepared for when I decided to have the surgery. So I know I would have felt much less confident if I'd had that knowledge beforehand, but I also think my expectations would have been massively different and perhaps more realistic. I'm glad to be on the other side though, and that same person also reminded me how awesome it is that I can see when I open my eyes in the morning. And yes, that part is definitely awesome.

My next appointment (one year) isn't for another 6-7 months. Hopefully I'll remember to update, but I don't plan anything that far in advance!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Virgin Voters

I exercised my rights yesterday. Did you?

Don't worry! I won't bore or ignite you with any of my political beliefs, and I do not think a my blog is the place for any of that. I'm old school. I sorta feel your politics should be your own business. And I don't want to alienate any of my friends.

I'm a romantic about these things, so for me it is somewhat more about the experience, than it is about the outcome - however wrong that might seem in your minds. I will say that I believe the next four years will come and go, probably much the same as they would have had the other guy won. Personal history, however, was made yesterday. I voted in person for the first time in a Presidential Election. The last two elections I've had to submit an absentee ballot, since I lived out of state. I voted for the first time electronically, and it was quick and easy! Also, I voted for the first time as a married woman. I had the charming benefit of being able to calmly discuss the candidates and their platforms with my husband. Possibly the best history made yesterday, was that the hubs voted for the first time ever, period. I was super glad I got to be a part of that. We walked down the street to the little church which was our polling place, and waited in line together. It was exciting. I loved seeing all the other people in line and wondering who they were voting for (in Austin it's a little less obvious than the rest of Texas).

And then I made him wear a sticker and let me take his picture for posterity.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Over the last week I've been considering the topic of DESTRUCTION. 

Several things happened:

ONE: I pulled out the entire contents of my closet to reorganize it and then got overwhelmed.

TWO: I decided that before I could put everything back in, I had to finally "get around to" peeling off all the ancient - and I do mean ancient - wallpaper, seal all the cracks, repaint the walls, add new shelving, sort through my clothes, unpack my winter items, pack up my summer items, and reorganize everything for accessibility.

THREE: I spent three days wishing I had never started destroying what was there to begin with.

My closet looks like Hurricane Sandy swept through.

We rent our home in Austin. However, we have gracious landlords who pay for any projects we're willing to do. Our home was built in the 1920's, so there are  LOT of projects that could be done. With my type-A personality, germaphobia, and revulsion of all things dirty, mildewed, and infested, I'm constantly finding projects and I just can't resist. The state of the closet has been hidden for over a year by my clothes, which got shoved in there when we moved. I was sort of scared to go all the way inside it, so I just jammed the storage bins in toward the back and tugged them out as needed. Finally, last Friday I got sick of digging for shoes, so I pulled everything out - literally hurled it all out of the closet, and what faced me was nothing short of scary. My clothes were homeless, but it was like I couldn't help myself. Once I got started, I had to finish. I had to systematically destruct the closet, before I could put it back together again.

And really . . . we are absurdly entertained by destroying things. 

JOY OF DESTRUCTION from Xaver Xylophon on Vimeo.

Remember Danielle's theraparty, where she got to do something she'd always wanted to do and break plates? Destruction can feel like therapy. It's risky and fun and a huge adrenaline rush. It's the clean up that I hate the most, but in the end you always feel so much better. It's human nature to destroy, but also to rebuild. You can't have one without the other.

And then there's the type of destruction we can't control. Like our pal, Sandy, who overnight hurled the contents of thousands of people's lives out into the street, and shook them upside down. Here in Texas we weren't really affected at all, so it's quite easy - as it is with any natural disaster - to feel oddly removed from the whole catastrophe, but we've all seen the pictures. Please don't think for a second that I'm comparing my minor closet disaster to the magnitude of Sandy's wake. We just both happend to self-destruct at the same time.

Now here's to rebuilding.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chalk it up to Talent

I always wanted to have cool handwriting. My cursive always sucked, there was never any hope for it. Over the years I created this hybrid of script and print that to this day still varies depending on the type of writing utensil I'm using. No hope.

Last weekend, the Hubs and I visited Danielle and Rob in Katy. We got to see their new house, brand spankin' new kitchen, and have really good married-couple conversations. Danielle also took me to brunch at Tiny Boxwood's (thanks, friend!). Aside from the delightful, tasty food, and dangerous bottomless mimosas, the setting was also idyllic. We both admired the cute chalkboard signage, which is sooooo everywhere these days, but I still love it sooooo much. So much. And we both woe-is-me'd that neither of us has stylin' handwriting.

Then I remembered about a chalkboard artist I had read about, Dana Tanamachi, in Brooklyn, New York. Like this is her legit job -- she hand-letters chalkboard signs. Check it out. She's amazing.


There's no hope for this hopeless hand-letterer, but her's is true talent!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Greece via Instagram

It never fails to surprise me what cool photos you can take with an iPhone. We dropped almost a grand on a brand new Nikon DLSR before our recent trip to Greece, and yet some of my favorite pictures from the trip were taken on instagram.

Thanks to my stupidly choosing to do the software update Apple released without backing up my phone first, I lost a lot of those pictures when we got home. However, the ones I'd uploaded from the road to instagram were safe. Let's experience Mainland Greece via instagram!

Country side between Athens & site of Ancient Delphi.

Treasury of Athens, restored at Delphi.

Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

Tholos at Delphi.

So the site of Ancient Delphi was life-changing. First of all, it's set in a majestic mountain range - such an amazing backdrop. Secondly, it's one of the better preserved ancient sites, so there is quite a lot to see and you don't have to strain as hard to imagine what it must have looked like when it was a thriving place of worship. In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, and a major sanctuary of the god Apollo. It was thought of by the Greeks as the center of the earth (the "navel"), and it was our first stop on a roadtrip of the mainland, and an incredible way to begin our tour of the ancient sites.

Just one question: why have Americans not thought to season potato chips with oregano?
We ate many bags of these along the way.

I cried at Epidaurus. Yes, I know I'm a nerd. Aside from being a celebrated healing center, the ancient city of Epidaurus is also home to the best-preserved Classical theatre.  It was amazing and so . . . ALL THERE - just like it hadn't been thousand of years since it was carved out of the mountainside. This was one ancient site that was thankfully almost empty and we just sat (like in the picture above) and took it all in. I'm sitting almost all the way at the top of the grand theatre, and I could hear the tourist you see standing "center stage" talking in a whisper. Incredible.

 A better shot of just how big Theatre at Epidaurus is really.

Along the way I became addicted to fresh Greek olives. Canned olives just can't compare. I do not recommend, however, trying a green olive off the tree - which both Tim and I did at Delphi when no one was looking. They are the most bitter little buggers you can imagine.

This is the stadium at Ancient Olympia. If you're any fan of the Olympics, you should try to go here one day to pay homage. . . it was also incredible (I'm running out of words that mean "incredible"). There was no real "seating" even in ancient times so this stadium is pretty much intact. Thousands of men just sat on the lawn to watch the foot races. You can even still step on the marble starting and finishing lines, which is what this tour group was doing when I snapped the picture. We arrived at Olympia at about 8:30 in the morning, and by some stroke of genius I suggested we hurry out to the stadium first, to see if we could catch it before hordes of people showed up. We were so thankful we did so -- we had it all to ourselves! Well, with the exception of these two precious pups who were having their own race . . .

After a few days on the road, we stopped over for two nights in the harbor town of Nafplion. It was a beautiful old town with Venetian influences, as you can see with all the old Pensions (mansions). Unfortunately, it also had a cat problem, and the whole town smelled like a cat box, if I'm to be totally honest.

Harbor in Nafplion.

Church in Nafplion.

Old pensions (mansions) in Nafplion.

Peirene's Springs at Ancient Corinth. It was said to be a favored watering-hole of Pegasus, sacred to the Muses. Poets would travel there to drink and receive inspiration. The legend goes that Peirene became a spring because of the tears she shed in lamentation for her son Cenchrias, who was unintentionally killed by Artemis. What was really amazing is there is STILL RUNNING WATER BACK IN THERE. Um, yeah.

Last stop: Athens, the dirtiest city on earth. There were dogs roaming everywhere. We couldn't tell if they were all strays or not, but they all acted as if they owned the place. There were even dogs and cats on top of the Acropolis! I liked how this dog was lying in the middle of the street like he was Boss.

World Traveler check point. Check!

One last glimpse of the Parthenon before we head home!

Thanks for taking the journey with me.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Absolute Bliss

Every Friday I blog for Sunday Hatch. Here's today's post!

Since Sunday I've been suffering from PTSD: Post-Trip Sadness Disorder. 

The ferocious heartburn/ulcer I seem to have brought home from Greece as a souvenir and the relentless jet lag aren't helping, either. What's strange is I was ready to come home. We were both ready to come home. We just weren't ready to go back to life!

Greece was unlike any other place I've been. We were there for 10 days and merely scratched the surface of a country that's so old you have to use your imagination to imagine it.

We started our trip on Santorini Island for three days. It was absolute bliss. Here are some photos from our three days there. We want to go back.

Our hotel was Altana Traditional Houses & Suites.

This is the view from our hotel suite. We got a free upgrade to their private suite. 
In our opinion, it was the best room at the hotel and cost twice as much as the one we reserved!

View from the rooftop pool. Our hotel claims to have the highest pool on the Caldera. 
We had almost a 360 degree view of the island.

Sunset view from the pool.

There are so. many. steps. in Santorini. 

 There are so many steps that donkeys take people up and down steps that lead to the ports. 
We refused to ride because according to the locals they are malnourished and mistreated. 
Poor Donkeys.

Sunrise view from our hotel suite.

Breakfast every morning in Santorini out in front of our hotel reception.

Breakfast included spinach pies, nutella pastries, cheese, yogurt, fresh melon, 
and sour cherry juice.

Sunrise and Breakfast was our favorite time of day on Santorini.

Red Beach on Santorini. One of the beaches we visited for a swim. 
The water was perfect in temperature and clarity.

None of these beaches have sand! 
On Santorini - because it's a volcano - all the beaches are pumice or pebbles.

Even though Santorini was supposed to be our three days of lazy lounging, 
we hiked A LOT and it was super hot. These are our not so happy hot faces.

Because it's an active volcano, there's no fresh water on Santorini. 
The only plants that grow naturally are ones that do so without needing water.
Naturally, I was in succulent heaven.

We met this precious pup on one of our walks. He so wanted to come play! 
This was the only dog we saw penned up the whole time we were in Greece - 
there are so many strays and wandering dogs!

Another Sunrise.

Our cozy little bed nook.

We ate lobster spaghetti at this little seaside (literally) restaurant. 
They were unloading the fresh fish catches right below these tables.

Another sunset.

The rest of the trip will have to wait. I can't handle any more bliss this morning.