Visiting Hawaii in Winter

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Honolulu views from the Punchbowl

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why yes we did wake up like this…..

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new friends on the beach

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voted best shave ice on Oahu

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Ka’ena Point State Park 

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the sunsets in Hawaii are unreal

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lunch views from Nico’s Pier 38

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I love the North Shore.

 

I have been fortunate enough to visit Hawaii several times. All of the trips have been during the coldest, dreariest months on the east coast and it is such a welcome relief from the grey days. You may have noticed by now, that I struggle to post in real time, and that’s OK. #WinterIsComing again this year, and this will still be relevant then. Plus – it’s never actually winter in Hawaii so go whenever you want. Now that’s settled, on with our trip.

We stayed at the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Resort, and we could not love this place more. It was the third time I have stayed here and the views, the room, the pool, everything is great. The rooms are all condos so you have room to spread out and can cook in the room if you want. We made breakfast in most days, and also used the grills a few nights for dinner. We were also perfectly happy with all of the food and drinks that we had at the resorts restaurants and bars.

Ko Olina is a resort area on the southwest end of the island of Oahu. There is also a Disney Resort here and a Four Seasons. Each of the resorts are self contained on their own private a bay, meaning that you don’t necessarily encounter the guests from any of the other resorts unless you want to. But, being that there are so many resorts in the area, restaurants and shops have popped up nearby, so you have more to choose from. The only  restaurant in Ko Olina that we tried on this trip was Monkey Pod, and it was fantastic. We loved the outdoor area and listening to the music. I particularly like the Ko Olina area because it is not busy. It is about a 30 minute drive from Waikiki Beach which is where people often think of when they visit Oahu. While Waikiki is beautiful as well, it can be quite crowded in the tourist areas.

For the most part, we just relaxed and toured around the island. We ate our weight in poke, we drank drinks with little umbrellas in them, we watched the sunset everyday. You know, the good stuff. I don’t have an earth shattering guide to the island but just a few fun things that we did and loved.

We spent two of the days on the beach at the North Shore. During the winter months the waves here are unbelievable and just watching the surfers all day while I relax in the sunshine is enough for me. We had shave iced one day and acai bowls one day, because whats a trip to Hawaii without those? We also pulled over on a random beach on the way to check out a monk seal that was sunning herself.

We hiked Diamond Head for the first time. The views from the top are beautiful, and well worth the hike up. More on this later.

We toured Pearl Harbor as well. I have been before and like the last time it was such a somber experience to think about what happened there. It was kind of a bummer not to be able to get out of the boat and go onto the memorial platform, as I had this opportunity on a previous trip, but still worth experiencing history first hand the way that you are able to here.

As for restaurants… We had a delicious lunch at Uncle Bobo’s after we randomly came across it driving around the island. We enjoyed an amazing dinner at Duke’s on Waikiki Beach. The Hula Pie at Duke’s is worth every. single. calorie. We loved the lunch we had at Nico’s Pier 38. They have a huge variety of things, and it was fun to sit outside and watch the ships be unloaded. We had a fun lunch at Lulu’s on Waikiki beach. The view and vibe here was the best  part. Finally, we discovered Paul John’s Lumpia which is a Filipino restaurant in a neighborhood in Kapolei. The food here was good and it was really nice to try something different, as this is not something we would usually find at home.

We spent last our last afternoon at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Before, you’re all like, who spends their afternoon in a cemetery… it is located in what is called Punchbowl Crater. It sits high above Honolulu, the views here are stunning, and their is of course a lot of history to take in as well. It was the perfect stop to spend some time taking in the views before heading to the airport.

I also have two cousins who live on Oahu. (How lucky are they?) One is a teacher and one is in the Marine’s stationed at Kaneohe Bay. It was really fun to get to see both of them on the trip.

As a completely random side note, if you’re going to Hawaii from the east coat of the US (like us) I prefer my connection to be in Dallas or Phoenix. I have found that although the travel time is essentially the same, when you connect on the west coast (usually LAX) the flight isn’t quite as long so you end up on a somewhat smaller plane that isn’t as comfortable. And it is still a long flight from LAX. We typically fly American so that could have something to do with it too. And for anyone still wondering if the tortuously long flight will be worth it. YES. It will.

Have you been to Hawaii before? What island was your favorite? What time of year did you go? What were some favorite things you did?

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#WanderlustWednesday

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Pacific Coast Highway

#Route1 #Sonoma #California

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#WanderlustWednesday

Siesta Key, Florida

#SiestaKey #SummerDaze #SunnyFlorida

#WanderlustWednesday

Venice, Italy

#Venice #BoatCruise #ItalyDreaming

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Planning a Destination Wedding

Time for a little wedding update. So remember when I told you that we were getting married I said that wedding planning was not my jam so we were having a destination wedding. With just under two months until the big day I can happily report that wedding planning is still not my thing.

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We are getting marring at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We picked this resort for a few reasons: 1) I was in an absolute tizzy and the travel agent said it was a nice place, 2) my dad said he wouldn’t come if we got married in Mexico and I didn’t want to start a fight, and 3) his mom said anywhere was better than where I originally wanted it. [Wedding planning is so fun.]

All kidding aside, those are all real, but not why we actually went with the resort. For one thing the resort is kind of a two in one with a family friendly side and an adults only side. We thought this would be ideal for any of our family or friends who didn’t want to travel internationally and leave kiddos behind, but still give us the option to have the adults only feel. We have a lot of people with dietary restrictions who will be attending, and this resort unlike some others in the Caribbean (so we have been told, not speaking from actual experience) is able to accommodate them all very well. I have not been to that many all inclusive spots, but many of them cater specifically to people traveling as couples, we wanted to avoid that, as we wanted ALL of our guests to feel welcome. And finally the place seems like they know how to do a wedding. They are set up to be able to accommodate multiple weddings per day, and as someone who is not AT ALL into the details, they seem like they can handle it.

As of right now, we have 71 ticketed and confirmed guest, which I am blown away by! People are traveling from as far away as Nairobi, Kenya to be there and I am still in disbelief. My dress is ready to go, his suit is ready to go, all the big stuff is done! And I am ready to pull my hair out with the little details. How do people get so into this stuff?

I found these images to use as inspiration for our decor that I sent to our wedding coordinator and then kind of left it up to her. Have I mentioned that I am not into wedding planning?

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A few tips from my observations thus far:

  • We have never actually been to this resort (never even been to Jamaica for that matter) if this stresses you out leave yourself PLENTY of time to visit the resort, change your mind, and then visit another resort.
  • I will not have a “trial run” with my hair and make-up. I will have it done at the spa at the resort. I’m fine with this, as worst case scenario I will wash it off and do it myself. If you are not fine with this consider another plan.
  • I have seen two maybe three pictures of the different venues where we will host events. I assume they know what works best in terms of layout and design if you can’t trust that they know what to do – go visit so that you will know yourself.
  • Much of the coordination has been done by email. People are on island time. Your email is unlikely to be answered today, or maybe even tomorrow.
  • The wedding planner is more than happy to call you but you may have to ask them to do so. In my experience she has understood much more what I am asking for via phone, or things get overlooked in the email conversations.
  • The resort will literally try to sell you everything under the sun because you NEED this at your wedding. You do not NEED dancing elephants at your wedding. Stay strong. Although you may be upfront with the resort in telling them you do not want ALL THE THINGS, they will likely still try.
  • The prices for everything will be more than you are expecting. From planning other events I know resort fees can be steep, but these seem somewhat outrageous in comparison. While the resort will prepare a nice package for the wedding EVERYTHING else will have an additional fee. They know you cannot put a dance floor in your checked luggage therefore you will pay.
  • If you choose not to use the resorts vendors you will pay an additional fee to use someone else who is charging a more reasonable price, in most cases making it no longer cost effective to use the alternate vendor (you may still come out ahead using a local vendor since they are aware of these resort fees and charge competitive rates – we found this to be true with our photographer)
  • That being said the price of *almost* everything has been negotiable. Some people enjoy the thrill of haggling. I do not. I find it infuriating.
  • I found a Facebook group of brides who have or are planning to get married at this resort or its sister resort in Mexico. The group has been tremendously helpful!

Overall our experience with the resort so far has been positive and we cannot wait to be in Jamaica with our friends and family! In talking to friends who had traditional or similar nontraditional weddings everything that I have mentioned is sort of to be expected. And in general it seems that there is no “winning” with wedding planning. Someone will have something to say about whatever you choose to do, no matter what. So do you girl and keep it moving has been my motto. Happy weekend y’all!

#WanderlustWednesday

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Schaffhausen, Switzerland

Switzerland why are you always so dreamy?

#Swiss #CH #RhineRiver

A Summer Weekend in Asheville

Asheville, NC is one of my absolute favorite cities! Lucky for me, it is about a two hour drive from my house and we get to go there often. It’s beautiful anytime of year, each season for different reasons. We spent a summer weekend catching up with our friends and relaxing, and it was just perfect. We tried lots of new to us spots on this trip! Here’s a few highlights:

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  • This Airbnb could not have been better for two couples. There is a downstairs studio apartment and an upstairs studio apartment each with their own separate entrance. The house is conveniently located, while still feel very secluded. We had no issues getting an Uber to pick us up and it was just a short ride to everything we wanted to see. Bonus – it is pet friendly too.
  • We started our weekend with dinner and drinks at Wicked Weed Brewing. I’ve visited lots of the breweries in town on many different trips, and I think overall the beer at Wicked Weed is probably my favorite. They have so many choices, and unusual things you won’t find anywhere else.
  • We randomly happened upon Ben’s Tune Up. In all my trips to Asheville I have never heard anyone mention this place, but it is a seriously cool spot. From the outside, you may not even notice the place at all, but they have live music, a neat outdoor area, and a full bar menu (and apparently food too, but we didn’t try anything).
  • We tried out a hiking spot that we found in a guidebook in the Airbnb. Finding the trail was hilarious. After turning down random roads for twenty or so minutes, passing a tractor convention, and using the four wheel drive to cross a stream we finally arrived at the parking lot. BUT there were no signs for the trail. We saw a girl on a bike find her brother who she had lost on the trail for an hour or so, and still we headed off into the woods. It was very beautiful and quite the adventure and I’m happy to report that we did all make it back in one piece.
  • Our first trip to Sierra Nevada. It is huge and there were SO MANY people. There is a lot space so everyone was kind of spread out, making it not feel that crowded. That being said, I’m honestly not sure if I would go back. They do have some beer options that you can’t get in stores, there was an outdoor food area where we ate a great hot dog, there is a pretty garden area that you can walk through and live music outside so it’s definitely a fun spot, but for me it’s so far out of town that it’s probably not worth the hassle.
  • One of my very favorite things to do in Asheville is to go to the Grove Park Inn for cocktails. The view from the back porch is the absolute best view in town any time of year in my opinion. We had some wine and watched the sun go down over the Blue Ridge Mountains, and I can’t think of much better. 
  • We tubed down the French Broad River for the first time. We went with Zen Tubing from their Midtown location. This was the perfect relaxing activity for a hot summer day. You float by several breweries and restaurants; we thought it would be easier to get out and check them out than it was. We ended up just staying on the river and snacking on what we had packed in our cooler and we loved our day on the river so much. 
  •  Luella’s Bar-B-Que was SO good! We all ate until we were completely stuffed, forgetting that we had a dinner reservation in just a couple hours. The wings there were some of the best I’ve ever eaten!
  • For me no trip to Asheville is complete without a meal at Curate. A pitcher of sangria made table side and a table full of tapas, YUM. Try the cured hams if you go!
  • We also tried Wedge Brewing Co for the first time. The highlight of this was that they serve Ginger’s Revenge Beer. So delicious and the perfect summer drink after a weekend of over eating! 
  • The last stop of the weekend before heading home was at Biscuit Head. I LOVE this place. There is usually a long line to get in, but going on a Monday morning really cut back on the wait. If you’re wondering if the wait will be worth it…it will! A gravy sampler and a jelly buffet, what could be wrong? SO GOOD!

 

 

 

 

 

#WanderlustWednesday

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North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii

#NorthShore #Oahu #Hawaii #BanzaiPipeline

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#WanderlustWednesday

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Hydra, Greece

#GreekIslands #Hydra #DonkeyRide

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Engagement Photo Session

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Dress | Shoes

Since it has been just over a year since we got engaged I thought I would share our engagement photos, that we finally took. We had the photos done by Amber Dalholt. It was a lot of fun working with her and I think the pictures turned out great! We took them on a Sunday morning in downtown Winston-Salem. Downtown was quiet and peaceful with no one awake yet allowing for some really great photo spots!