5 Favorite Travel Moments From Around the World


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cam and I are so excited... First and foremost, to meet our baby girl !!! and then for our move to Croatia and to start traveling again. With our babies! We're not under any false notions that it's going to be easy, but seeing and experiencing God's creation all around the world is important to us, has been a big part of our marriage and something we are so thankful for and badly want to impart on our kids. We have been dreaming outloud and bookmarking and planning and trying to get through our to-do list. Our move is in just two months! Since we're so excited to get over there, I thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite travel moments from around the world (there are many more...) especially for anyone planning upcoming trips this summer. If you are traveling to any of these places and have questions, I'll gladly try to answer in the comments!

1. Moorea, French Polynesia. We spent the first week of our honeymoon right here. That was our little Moorean casa! Every single moment was pure magic as newlyweds. We stayed at the Hilton Moorea and could not recommend it more. It's the dreamiest place we've ever stayed. Part of the floor of our bungalow looked straight down into the water, there were two back decks, one just a foot or so hovering over the crystal clear water and a footed tub. We both saved for the year + before our wedding and took a month for our honeymoon in the South Pacific and then Europe. Seems so fitting now that we spent the very beginning of our marriage traveling! We spent the next years paying it off and it was absolutely, absolutely worth it. If there's one odd thing we'd recommend to pack to Moorea, it's bottles of water. You can't drink the tap and it cost an arm and a leg at the time, as in about $10 per bottle !

2. The South Island of New Zealand. Some of our favorite moments while exploring this absolutely gorgeous country were riding bikes through the vineyards in the Marlborough Region and sleeping next to the vines in that old, stinky, honestly disgusting camper van (we were trying to travel as cheaply as possible - New Zealand is expensive!) that brought us so many laughs, adventures and hilarious stories. For anyone traveling there (lucky you!!!!) hopefully these posts will be helpful as you plan:

Canterbury, New Zealand: Lavender Fields and Lambs
What Dreams Are Made of: Biking and Wining in Marlborough, New Zealand
Over the Southern Alps to Franz Josef
Covered in Peonies: Arrowtown (Also: make a reservation at these Onsen Hot Pools with the most amazing view!)
The Turquoise Waters of Lake Tekapo
Where We Hung Our Hats in Christchurch
New Zealand in Photos

3. Hanoi & Halong Bay, Vietnam. Visiting Vietnam wasn't about a romantic, carefree trip together. We were so curious to see a part of the world we never had before (especially before starting a family!) and it opened our eyes to so much. Seeing how the people of this country live, and in some areas, just survive, was like nothing we'd ever experienced. It's easy to read about another culture and imagine it, but to actually be there, walking through the filthy yet charming streets, learning how to walk without getting hit by hundreds of oncoming motorbikes, seeing raw meat being cut and sold in the dirt, rowing silently through a very small, remote fishing village in Halong Bay, waking up to watch the sunrise over thousands of islands jetting out from the emerald waters surrounded by sounds of waking monkeys... coming dangerously close to a run in with communist "police" ....  Neither of us have a desire to go back so it was truly a once in a lifetime trip that we'll never forget and that taught us and humbled us in ways I can't quite explain. 

Introduction to Hanoi (Our first moments there which still may be my very favorite. Or atleast explain how we felt the entire trip!)
We stayed at The Hanoi Elegance Ruby and loved it. We sailed Halong Bay with Indochina Dragon's Pearl, which was booked through our hotel. All of the details are in this post

(second two photos thanks to Drew Angerer)

4. Wandering the Cobblestone Streets in Siena, Italy. We went on an amazing wine tour through the Brunello region of Tuscany and drank some of the best wines of our lives in centuries old vineyards, and yet our favorite moments here were just wandering the romantic streets of the medieval city... spending hours drinking good, Italian coffee, then later sitting in piazzas drinking vino and eating the best foods on our entire trip over long dinners, leisurely walking the streets holding hands, being in awe of the history everywhere, no agenda, no timetable, just soaking it all in. If you go to Siena, that would be our biggest recommendation. It would be an entirely different experience now with kids so I'm thankful we got the romantic version while we could! We stayed here in the heart of the city but really only slept there since we were always out wandering and eating and drinking to our hearts' content! We can recommend the wine tour we took with Franco Fadda. He let us customize what we wanted to do and was quick to answer my questions over email before arriving, though I should add that was a couple years ago.

5. Japan. Some of our favorite moments on mainland Japan are from our very first trip together and introduction to the culture in Kyoto. We still chuckle about being the only Americans (and totally sans clothes) in the natural onsen and being stared at?, eating delicious soba noodles, seeing the whole countryside lit up in the Fall colors, walking all day through the narrow streets, passing geisha, befriending locals and watching firsthand how Christianity is young yet becoming vibrant there, sleeping on the floor on a traditional tatami mat, being face-to-face with wild monkeys... I have a lot of posts under the Japan tag, but a few of my favorites are:
Kyoto, Japan: The Most Magical Place in the Fall
Mt Fuji
Mijajima Island

We are so thankful and excited to soon live in and explore Croatia! Where are you most hoping to get to visit?? I'd love to hear.

BBQ Prawns with Scallops & Watercress, Cheeseburgers and Peach Cordials with What To Cook!


Monday, May 11, 2015

I am so excited and honored to be guest posting today on one of the most beautiful, inspiring and delicious food websites, What To Cook.  Sophie has been one of my favorite bloggers for years; she is a true sweetheart and a joyful beauty inside and out. Her and her Dad are the team behind What To Cook (isn't that awesome!?) -- her Dad the cook and Sophs the photographer and stylist. Their passion for cooking with local and seasonal ingredients, sharing it with everyone they know and fully enjoying life in Sydney, Australia shine through in all that they do. You'll fall in love with them! They have a new recipe every day that you can find here, and my mouth waters every time she posts one!

I got to share a bit about our farmers markets in Monterey and a few recipes inspired by them: The Best Roast Chicken with Local Vegetables, Herbed Goat Cheese and Veggie Sandwiches on Grilled Focaccia and Stone Fruit Sangria. You can find the post here!

All of these images were taken and styled by Sophs. She is one of the best photographers and food stylists that I know, and an all-around lovely person.  I wish I could collaborate with her in person and together throw an amazing outdoor dinner party with the best food, wine and all of you... ! But until that day comes to fruition, here are some absolutely delicious recipes to try thanks to What To Cook:

BBQ Prawns with Scallops & Watercress Salad from What to Cook (see the post with directions, photos and more details here)

20 King prawns halved lenthways, shell and tails entact
20 scallops, roe removed
Olive oil

2 cups watercress, chopped
1 cup Thai basil leaves
1/2 red onion, diced
2 long red chillies, deseeded and chopped

20ml olive oil
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp casta sugar
Juice of 2 limes

Pre-heat bbq plate and grill over a high heat. In a bowl, combine the watercress, Thai basil, red onion, coriander, chilli and set aside.

Drizzle the prawns with a little olive oil, season with salt. Cook the prawns shell side down first for 1-3 minutes, turn over and cook briefly (approximately 1 minute). Set aside.

To cook the scallops pour a little olive oil on the BBQ hot plate, season them with salt and cook quickly, 20-30 seconds each side before transferring to a plate, ready to be served.

Pour the dressing over the salad and serve with the seafood. ENJOY!!!

Recipe & Directions for American Cheese Burgers 

Recipe & Directions for Homemade Peach Cordial 

Countdown to Our Baby Girl


Thursday, May 7, 2015

(Photos by my husband!)

We are in the home stretch! I had an ultrasound yesterday to see if my placenta previa is still a previa (blocking the birth canal) and it is...  so, my doctor set a date for our C-section. June 3rd! After John Shea's very crazy birth, it was surreal to leave with a date, and to be a honest, a little emotional. Lord willing all goes well until then! It's 11 days before my due date but because I've been bleeding fairly regularly now, which tends to happen with placenta previa, yet always nerve-wracking to see, my doctor doesn't want to push it. There's also a concern with previa that babies come early. We're praying she stays put. All of her little newborn clothes are washed and folded and I've started packing our hospital bag just in case. Since learning about 10 weeks ago how low my placenta is and doing moderate bed rest, I have been daily reminded how complicated and delicate and out of our control pregnancy and the growing of a baby is. The entire process, birth and babies are such a miracle!! And more than anything else, an all-out gift from God.

Those of you who have been praying for us, I can't thank you enough!

How we found out I was pregnant:
Cam, John Shea and I drove down South for a family wedding during a weekend in October and by 8 or 9pm at the reception, all I wanted to do was stop dancing and go to bed. That should have tipped us off right then and there! but pregnancy was nowhere on our minds. When we were back in Monterey that Monday, John Shea, my friend Ashley and I stopped in at Whole Foods. I barely made it in the store before needing to throw up and felt like every smell hit me like a ton of bricks. After running to the bathroom I told Ashley I had to be pregnant and we headed next door to CVS to buy a test. She dropped us off back at home so it was just me and John Shea. I felt so sick that I didn't even wait for Cam to get home. I took it and started laughing! The best kind of laughing and picked up and hugged John Shea who was unknowingly beaming and laughing with me. I honestly cannot even remember how I told Cam when he got home soon after but I do remember his jaw dropping and him picking me up. And then grabbing John Shea with us, who was still little! It was such unexpected and the happiest news after having miscarried so soon before that.

Stay in there, baby girl, and so soon we cannot wait to meet you!!

5 Refreshing Spring & Summer Drinks


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I've started adding fresh fruits and herbs from our garden to my water to encourage myself to keep drinking as much as possible during these last weeks (Lord willing she stays in there atleast three more weeks until full term!!) of pregnancy. We're getting so close and are so excited to meet our baby girl! I also rounded up some of my favorite seasonal drinks for you, some with alcohol, some not:

1. Lemon, Mint & Watermelon Infused Water: Add one lemon worth of slices, a handful of fresh mint and/or basil and cubed watermelon to a large jar of water. Stir and refrigerate until ready to drink!

22 oz pure coconut water {look for one without added sugar}
25 oz lemon sparkling water {1 bottle}
2 C pureed fresh watermelon
2 C cubed fresh watermelon
2 24 oz cans of ginger ale
handful of fresh mint for garnish

Stir all of the ingredients in a large pitcher and refrigerate until ready to drink. Add the mint for garnish on top. Serve in fun margarita glasses or mason jars. 

2 bottles Rosé, chilled
1 bottle sparkling apple cider, chilled
3 very ripe yellow peaches
3 very ripe yellow nectarines
3 very ripe pluots or plums
sprigs of fresh rosemary for garnish, optional

For optimal flavor, choose fruit that is ripe to the point of almost spoiling. It should be soft enough around the stem that when you lightly push your finger into the fruit, it leaves an indentation. Local farmer's markets usually have the best selection!

Blend or juice one of each of the three kinds of fruit until all of the fruit and skin has dissolved. Set aside. Slice the remaining fruit. In a large pitcher, stir to combine the fruit juice/purée with the rosé and sparkling cider. Add in the fruit slices and top with rosemary for a pretty garnish. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

1 C frozen blueberries and peaches
3.5 oz/100g frozen acai
1-2 big handfuls of fresh spinach or kale
1 C greek yogurt, optional
1 banana, optional

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and continue adding OJ until it is as smooth a consistency as you would you like. Frozen strawberries and mango are also delicious in this!

5. Island Mimosa 
Replace the OJ in a traditional mimosa with equal parts guava juice and pineapple juice. Pour in the bubbly, squeeze in some fresh lemon juice and enjoy!

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