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First Year of Blogging!

1 Dec

Yes!  I never thought I would make it.  Some months were harder than the others, but I have made it through my first year of blogging!  Happy one year to me, to my camera, and my fingers (since they did the typing)  =)

Today, one year ago, Luis and I packed up all our stuff and crammed it into a U-Haul trailer attached to our truck.  We left Miami at midnight, and because of the 55 mph speed limit with the trailer, we arrived in the parking lot of our new home in Atlanta 15 hours later, on December 1st. Yikes!  After the 7 hours it took us to unload all of our stuff, we were officially home.

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One year of blogging has equaled 197 posts; 230 comments (thank-you!), has had  9,670 hits, 23 categories, and 2, 578 tags.  The person who has commented the most on my blog is my mother (awesome)!

 My blog has been featured on two websites; Howell Mill Food Park and Sweet Auburn Curb Market.  My pictures from the Mount Mitchell post were used for an art project concerning the geological isolation of Mt. Mitchell by a student at Virginia Commonwealth University.

My top five posts with the most hits are; #5 Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling and Buttercream Frosting, #4 Spring is Coral, #3 Making Sweet Pickles, #2 Little Heart Cakes, and my number one post with the most views is Howell Mill Food Truck Park.

Before we moved to Atlanta I made a list of things I wanted to experience while we were here.  Even though it’s only been a year, here is a break down of what we have completed so far from the 105 item list.

  • 1)    Atlanta Botanical Gardens

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  • 3)    Watch The Nutcracker at the historic Fox Theatre

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  • 5)    Millennium Gate in Atlantic Station

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  • 8)    Little Five Points

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  • 10)  Zoo Atlanta

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  • 12)  Chattahoochee River Fun – Tubing

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  • 27)  Georgia Barrier Islands; Tybee Island

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  • 32)  Appalachian Trail – Amicalola Falls State Park

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  • 38)  Marietta Square (not shown since the visit to Marietta Square was by accident)
  • 53)  The Alpine Village of Helen

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  • 65)  Have a popsicle from King of Pops

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  • 70)  U-Pick Farm – Southern Belle Farms – picked flowers and pumpkins

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  • 85)  White water rafting with Wildwater

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  • 86)  Georgia Wine Highway

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  • 87)  Sweet Auburn Curb Market

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We have traveled to three states; Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. We have visited 27 restaurants, which Luis and I thought was pretty good considering that we usually eat at the same restaurant.   I was shocked to see that we have only been hiking four times!  We need to change that since I have at least 20 trails on the to-do list.
As life happens, we have experienced some “extra” things that were not on our list like; Six Flags over Georgia, snow, Georgia’s China Town, Georgia Aquarium, and Piedmont Park, just to name a few.
With Luis leaving to another state for the whole spring and fall semester, who knows what else will be completed.  Maybe I will have to make a new list of things to do while in Texas…  exploring is never a bad thing.

Flashback – Kyoto, Japan

18 Aug

Kyoto is our favorite place.

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We stayed at a Ryokan (a type of bed and breakfast) called Shiraume in the historic area of Kyoto, where geishas, now called geiko study, live and work.  The area is like stepping back in time, so peaceful and elegant.  One morning we even woke to a chanting Buddhist monk walking the streets.  I am not sure if it was the area or the amazing service provided to us by the owner of Shiraume, but we never wanted to leave.

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As soon as we walked into Shiraume Ryokan we were greeted with cold green tea and a jelly treat to help cool us down from the summer heat. The owner started a bath for us in one of their two natural spring tubs.  After the bath we were given yukatas while she made our bed for us in our Umemi room.  After the long train ride all we wanting was to relax and take a nap before our dinner.  We were served the most beautifully plated eight course meal I have ever had.  Some items on the menu were very interesting. I could not eat the raw shrimp or jellyfish but, it was an experience, and I enjoyed every minute of it and all the pampering we were given.

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Just so you know, I still dream about the ice cream above. It is homemade black sesame, and I have been looking for it everywhere. I have tried other black sesame ice cream, but it is no where as good as this one.  So good and I can’t find it anywhere. It makes my mouth water just looking at the picture, so sad.

In the morning we tried out the other natural spring bath tub and enjoyed another delicious meal, breakfast to prepare for our adventure to feed some wild monkeys on top of a very high mountain and visit a few shrines.

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Before we left the owner gave us a parting gift as a thank you for staying at Shiraume and for good travels. How did she know that I love flip flops?

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Oh, and thank you ANA Airlines for making our trip to Japan even more amazing when you upgraded our flight home to first class and gave us back $800.00 in cash, a sleeping pod, slippers, a robe, the noise canceling head phones, 17 inch T.V. screen, unlimited food and alcohol, and for our attendant who greeted us upon our entrance to the plane by our last name before we learned her name.
We heart you ANA Airlines.

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Did I tell you that neither of us slept on the flight home because we were too excited being in first class? Yea, we’re dorks but, we enjoyed every minute of the 13 hour flight.

Flashback – Tokyo to Osaka, Japan

14 Aug

The comic market known as Comiket is a free fair, held twice a year in Tokyo. We arrived bright and early to wait in line.

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About three hours later, we were able to enter the building. Unfortunately we entered the wrong side and ended up on the side featuring all the gay series comics. There were so many people there that is was hard to get to the other building, where we needed to be, so we left. Even though we stayed in a line for hours and really didn’t get to see much of the stuff we wanted, it was still fun to see all the people dressed up and acting out parts from the comics.

This was our favorite hotel that we stayed at in Tokyo, with it’s beautiful view of the rainbow bridge.

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The next morning we headed to Osaka on the bullet train, going about 150 mph, it was about a three hour ride.

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The Umeda Sky Building, home of Kiji Okonomiyaki, which serves the best okonomiyaki ever and our main reason for visiting Osaka.  If you have ever watched a anime you will hear them often talk about okonomiyaki, so we just had to try it.  The owner came out from the kitchen and asked Luis and I where we were from, then invited us to sit at the “bar” so he could make us a special okonomiyaki.  He was happy to hear that we made a stop in Osaka just to eat at his place, which he told us many people do.  His walls are filled with words from people from all around the world thanking him for his gracious hospitality and his amazing food.

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He started off by making us a yakisoba appetizer. I started clicking away taking dozens of photos and every now and then he would look up at me and I thought he would get mad, but no, he would just smile and tell me to continue to take photos.

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Then, he began mixing all different kinds of ingredients together, which ended up like this…

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It doesn’t look big in the photo, but it was huge! About the size of a pizza pie and all for $8.00!! An experience we will always remember.

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Aquarium Kaiyukan, the Osaka Aquarium.

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For dinner we went to the popular Kani Doraku in Osaka at Dontonburi. Can you guess what they serve?

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We only stayed in Osaka for one day, and it was all that was needed. The next morning he headed towards are favorite place, Kyoto.

Flashback – Hakone, Japan

14 Aug

We sucked it up and decided to join a travel company to visit Mt. Fuji, in Hakone, Japan. Right off the bat I am going to tell you, it wasn’t the best experience and we should have continued doing our own thing. Lesson learned.

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What was supposed to be an hour drive turned out longer than expected (about three hours) because we left Tokyo on the day that everyone else was leaving Tokyo for grandparents weekend.  Once a year families leave the city and drive to the countryside and spend time together.  Luckily, our guide gave us a nice break in between the traffic for us to have lunch.

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So, yea.. we get to the 5th station on Mount Fuji and we couldn’t see the mountain.  A mountain! That mist behind Luis and I is a mountain, and not a small mountain! It’s the highest mountain in Japan at 12,389 ft., but we wouldn’t know since we couldn’t see it.

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We felt a little cheated, but you can’t help Mother Nature when she decides to create a Typhoon over Mt. Fuji.

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So, what do smart Americans do when a Typhoon hits?  Jump on a tram of course and head to the top of Mt. Fuji. For what? I have no clue, since you couldn’t see anything but mist and/or feel the tram shake like a crazy monster because the wind was blowing wild.

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Luis, cool as a cucumber; Me, scared and holding onto him for dear life.

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After we drove off, the sun came out and let us see a small glimpse of the top of Mt. Fuji.

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Lake Ashi river cruise.

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The next day we activated our rail pass and took the bullet train back to Tokyo for the comic convention, Comiket in downtown Tokyo.

Flashback – Tokyo, Japan

13 Aug

Get ready for a few posts full of photos with a look back one year ago of Luis and I backpacking Japan for our honeymoon.

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This was our first view of the city. One word.. busy.

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Of course the first thing we did was go straight to the closest park, Ueno Park and eat!

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I loved all the little details throughout the city, I mean just look at the cuteness of a sewer covers.  Yes! You read correctly, the sewers tops/covers were even cute!

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Breakfast. Fish at 6:00 a.m., oh yea!

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Tsukiji Fish Market. The lovely smell of fish at 7:00 a.m. in the morning, after eating fish for breakfast. Let’s just say we didn’t last long exploring the fish market.

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The amazing Akihabara district (the gaming district), and you know Luis and I love games!

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The Shibuya District ( Tokyo’s night life district) at night. I just wanted to show the crowds that are in Tokyo, always a crowd in the streets of Tokyo no matter the time; day or night. When we were in the city I couldn’t wait to get into the countryside to get away from the crowds, but then when we were in the country I wanted to be back in the city and be a part of that rush. Such a strange feeling.

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Coming next, our trip to Hakone, Japan to visit Mount Fuji.

Flashback North Carolina

5 Jun

I have mentioned before how in love Luis and I were with all the greenery in our recent visit to North Carolina compared to when we visited during winter 2008.  Just to give you a peak, here is a flashback to 2008.

And now for the change with this visit.

So much green.  Let’s do that one more time…

The cabin we stayed in during the winter, and now in the spring.

 It still amazes me how green and full everything is.

I can’t decide which season I love more.  Maybe I will just take all seasons!

“I do” 5-24-2010

24 May

One year ago today, Luis and I woke up and decided to go to the Coral Gables courthouse and get married even though we had our wedding planned, paid for, and invitations had been sent.

(my wonderful and talented aunt Elaine helped me make each invitation by hand)

(a handmade ring bowl that says “worth the wait”, which sits on our dresser and holds our rings every night)

(glass starfish appetizer plates)

(handmade felt flower bouquet by Princess Lasertron, which I was on a one year waiting list for)

Looking back we wondered if we would regret not having a magical day to celebrate our love in front of our family and friends.  We could tell you that one year later, we have no regrets. It was our best decision yet.

After experiencing moving away from our home and family and Luis not working, I am so glad we chose to cancel our wedding and use the money for one amazing trip to Japan (Luis’ dream vacation), and to pay off our debt to prepare for our new adventure.

And what an adventure it has been.  Nothing prepared us for what we have been through in the past six months.  All the things we have had to figure out and get used to.  Even though Luis is getting comfortable with school, I don’t think I will ever feel comfortable with living on one income.

I am glad we chose to put the money towards our future, and not to just one day.  It was a smart decision that has given us the happy life we have now.

Back to the day we got married.  After saying some vows that neither Luis and I remember in front of Luis’ mom, dad, and brother as our witnesses we took a little beach weekend trip up north.

Every day that we were at the beach someone came to visit us.  Our friends one night for drinks at Tarpon Bend, Luis’ sister and her boyfriend for a beach, and lazy river day, and more friends on the last day for our first ever experience at a really nice brunch buffet.

I had wanted to be Luis’ wife for years, and to be honest really since we first started dating.  He was so different.  He had the same thoughts and views as me, but a very different personality. I am always sunshine and he is always rain clouds, together we balance each other out.  Not a day goes by without love and laughter.  I am so grateful to be his wife.