A trip to gorgeous Sedona, AZ

Last weekend Ben’s mom came to visit us! And of course, when someone visits you in Arizona, you take them to Sedona. Not that she has never been there before, she has been many – many times, it is just a place where you must go for a couple hours or maybe even for a weekend when you are around!

It is such a lovely – little place and there is so much to do. The entire town is surrounded with red rock buttes and gorgeous canyons. There are many hiking trails and a cute little creek where you can cool yourself down during the hot summer days.

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Echo looks pissed

The town is filled with the art of local painters, sculpture makers, jewelry makers, musicians and you name it. Everyone is friendly, happy, and hangs out on the streets, enjoying the warmth of the sun.

All the local stores have a little sit down area in front of them and they have plenty of benches too in the town where you can sit down for a couple minutes with a cup of coffee or a delicious ice cream and enjoy the wonderful view to the red rocks.

We left early enough in the morning so we can have brunch in Sedona. When we got there most stores were still closed and there weren’t many people on the streets. We found a cute little breakfast place called The Secret Garden Cafe. They had a patio and also were very dog friendly. They got Echo a bowl of water so he can cool himself down a little bit.

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I got an egg white omelette with spinach, tomatoes, and feta cheese and had some fresh fruit on the side! Ben and his mom both went with the breakfast burrito and Ben got roasted potatoes on the side.

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While we were waiting for the check to come, Echo was getting pretty impatient so I left a little early to walk him around the area. By this time there were more people walking from art gallery to art gallery. Of course it took about 2 minutes before someone had to stop and pet Echo 😀 He loves getting all the attention and loves being spoiled by everyone.

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After breakfast we walked back to the car and headed for a hike. It took us a while to find the trail but it was worth the search. We hiked the Slim Shady Trail, which is also a mountain bike trail.

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I have to admit I was amazed by all those bikers cruising through the trail without planting on their faces. I was just explaining to Ben and her mom how I would possibly injure myself at such reckless activity when I tripped and almost fell. They got a pretty good laugh out of it and also realized that I was not joking when I said I would risk my life there.

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We did not hike for too long, but got to go high enough to see the wonderful view of the canyon around us. It feels like time stops when you stand there and stare at such wonderful view. I just can’t get enough of it. It makes me feel so tiny and insignificant standing there in the middle of the vista. It felt like we were tiny little ants.

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On the way home Echo and I passed out in the back seat, we both took a pretty amazing 40 minute nap

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I can only recommend Sedona to everyone who is ever in the area! You will probably hear more about it from me in the future too! 😉

have a great Friday afternoon!

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Weekends are for recharging, we made sure we got the most out of it

Saturday Echo woke up at 8:30 in the morning…I looked at the clock and couldn’t believe my eyes. I had a quick little talk with him and we agreed that everyone stays in bed until 9. He was luckily on board with that.

At 9 I put some work out clothes on and we I went for a mile long morning walk. It was gorgeous outside, we both loved it. Echo was sniffing around, picking up rocks, and enjoying the warmth.

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His leash is falling apart. He got ahold of it during a road trip and we didn’t notice that he chewed half of it up on the back seat. It is my fault, I did not hide it well enough and even though he is not supposed to chew stuff just because he is bored, I should have been more careful.

After the walk I dropped off Echo at home, fed him and I went down to the gym. My new favorite gym equipment is the stationary bike.  I always make sure to do 15 minutes on it, either before work out or after. I never tried it before because I always thought I would just sit down and be very slow and lazy but I realized how hard it can be if you push yourself to the max for a couple minutes. It gave my legs a really good work out and I am still sore, even a couple days after.

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After work out I went home and found Ben awake in the living room. Echo was kind enough to wake him up too, he was ready to start the weekend and didn’t understand why would we want to sleep in.

We were all starving and have been craving some good old breakfast, so I showered quick and we started cooking. On Wednesday we got turkey bacon, whole wheat waffles and a dozen eggs…we have been waiting for this breakfast for a very long time. I made scrambled eggs, waffles and crispy bacon, while Ben made some hash browns. His project was a little bit more time consuming and complicated….breakfast turned out pretty nice. sat2

After breakfast we laid down and hang out for a while. Ben had to go teach tennis and he took Echo with him. I don’t know if other puppy owners feel the same way, but it felt so nice to be in the house and be able to clean without Echo running miles around me. Of course, I missed him 10 minutes right after but at the same time, it was so much easier to clean the house, do laundry and do all the dishes…By the time Ben and Echo got home, everything was nice and clean!

Saturday night we went for a walk, relaxed and played a couple rounds of cribbage. I lost to Ben again, even though I was in the lead for a long time…almost until the very last turn. So disappointing but I am starting to accept my fate. We made a pasta, pork and asparagus dinner :)

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Sunday was Echo’s 9 month birthday! We woke up and Ben made breakfast while I did some more laundry and folding. Folding is my least favorite part of doing laundry… But it had to be done so I tried to make it fun. Whenever I am folding laundry and all of a sudden it is too calm and quiet around me, I know Echo took off with a sock or underwear. I was right, this time too, so I chased him around for a while, until he got tired…

Ben had to go to work for an hour and while he was working, Echo and I went to buy a new leash, which was way over due, then we walked and enjoyed the sun until Ben came back. Then we went to PetSmart and got Echo a birthday present, a new crate! He outgrew his old one unfortunately. I wish he stayed as small as when I first met him, but time flies. We came home and put his crate together. He really enjoyed getting to know his new little safe spot…and of course, he helped a lot.

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As soon as we were done with the crate, our friend Jordan picked us up and we went for a hike…well, we thought we were just gonna go for a walk in the meadow but the roads going up to the meadow were still closed because of the winter months so our little trip turned out to be a 6 mile hike! It was lots of fun and it was absolutely worth it!

This was our view on the way up! At least we had a good excuse to stop sometimes and rest…such a beautiful view 😀

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Hope everyone had a great weekend!

 

Weekend adventure recap…

Well hello, I am back from a pretty busy weekend. A weekend of fun, adventures, and lots of lots of learning…

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I spent the weekend in Florida, like I said before. I was super excited to leave the cold weather behind for a little bit and experience warmth. Well this started out with me getting to Orlando in the middle of a tornado warning haha Knowing my luck, I wasn’t even surprised 😀 Got to the airport around 9 o’clock in the morning and decided to wait at the airport for some friends and also for the end of the storm…when we left around 3 pm the weather was much better and it didn’t look like it rained at all.

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Palm trees and sun… I could handle our winters better if they looked like this! But I think i would miss the snow…

After arriving and meeting some friends form Hungary and Singapore, we decided to go and check out Wonderworld. Probably most Americans know what I am talking about, but for my people back home, it is an upside-down house 🙂 Yes, upside-down…like this:

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After checking it out, because for us this is something we HAD to check out and take 700 pictures with it, in front of it, next to it, by it….while the local people passed us with a very dark look on their faces, shaking their hands thinking…tourists…get out of our way. We are going to party!

Luckily everything was pretty close, even our hotel, which was no more than 20 minute walk away from the Convention Center where we spent most of our weekend! I met so so many new people and got to have a little glimpse into their every days, culture and way of looking at the world! Which to be honest is my most favorite thing ever…

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…we had a good time laughing, enjoying the nice weather and hanging out…

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The hotel we stayed at was pretty nice, I was loving the colorful and weird looking chairs and design throughout the building.

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Those giant pink booths haha I LOVED THEM…I need one at home 😀 (I think my sister would like them too 🙂 ) They are so subtle…NOT…

During lunch break we usually walked around the area which of course was extremely busy with all the 22,000 people that we had in the arena…didn’t matter that there were gazillion restaurants around, it was packed everywhere. On the second day we were walking around and saw this on the sky:

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We had no idea what this could have been. What are you trying to say??????? I mean it is very impressive and I am sure this is hard to do but kinda pointless when no one gets it haha Any ideas?????

The third day was a little chilly and rainy again but when I say chilly it is still around 45 degrees which is not that bad especially after you experienced one or two Chicago winters before. Of course the local people dig out their Columbia jackets and UGG boots from the bottom of the closet…needless to say I had mine on too…but I am always cold so nothing new there.

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At the end of the third day we all went to EPCOT – Walt Disney World. The company rented it out for us for the closing party, which was very nice because it was just us in the entire park…and nice to get into places like this for free haha

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At night time it did get a lot more cold, so we got some complimentary food and hot drinks…pretzels, mac and cheese balls, hot tea and coffee…yum yum yum

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We were at EPCOT until 1 am and I had to go to the airport around 3 am the latest so didn’t really sleep much that night haha I slept through my first flight and started watching a movie called, You’ve got mail on the second one (which is so adorable, I love Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan) but I was too tired to stay awake so after the first 20 minutes I passed out…haha I travel to places but I never remember how I get there 😀 😀

So the weekend was pretty tiring but it was plenty of fun. The time flew by unfortunately, but I can’t wait for the next time we meet again!

After traveling all night…

…I made it to Orlando! Yaaay….sunshine, heat, beautiful weather, palm trees…..NOT….rain, cold, wind, tornado warning… haha bummer.

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Excuuuuse me?

Oh well, there is literally nothing that could destroy my mood and excitement (well…maybe the tornado could :D) about this upcoming weekend in crazy windy Orlando. I am here to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the travel club that I am part of and we travel with. I have met so many people through this club but I either rarely see them or haven’t even met them in person yet.

I left at 7pm to go to the airport, even tho it meant I would get there hours before my plane left. It is better to be safe than sorry and I didn’t want to risk missing my plane and the weekend! I have books, my computer and phone, I will be well entertained I thought, but the airport was actually busier than I expected so it was easy to stay awake.

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I took my sweet little time before checking in, grabbed a yogurt and a drink that said: green tea which was delicious but I bet it had nothing to do with green tea…like…absolutely nothing but it had a lot to do with water and sugar and green coloring 😀

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The first flight to Atlanta was very fancy! Had wifi, USB plug in and very good and recent movies. I knew I was going to fall in and out of sleep so I put on Pitch Perfect 2, something I have seen gazillion times before so it was okay to miss half of it haha

I woke up when the plane landed and felt like a zombie. My eyes were hurting, my back was numb, my feet were swollen…what the heck? I went straight to the bathroom, washed my face, got terrified from seeing how red and bloody my eyes were and then went to catch my connection.

I had to wait for about 20 minutes before they started boarding everyone….but then of course…when boarding starts, this starts:

“I look at my boarding ticket: “group 1” …Yesyesyes… I am gonna board in 5 minutes. Then they first called executive club. Then executive club platinum members, then executive club gold and silver, then executive club smile face-little star members, then executive club double smile-two thumbs up-only people with red shirt on members, then priority seating, then every woman except for the Hungarian girl in the white sweatshirt, then dogs, cats, parrots and then they called “group 1″ and there I was… Representing group 1 by myself with another guy whose ticket said: group 3…. He probably won’t make it.”

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Well, eventually I made it, sat down, passed out, woke up, got off the plane and here I am haha Unfortunately there is a tornado warning outside, so the weather is not the best, but soon I am about to meet some people that I have been waiting for months to meet. Hopefully the weather will clear out a little bit and we can all enjoy a little bit of sun and warmth.

The Orlando airport is super fun. The stores are my kind of stores, haha, such as Disney, Sea World, Universal-Harry Potter and NASA themed. I walked and looked around a little bit, I wish every airport had these stores 😀

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I really miss Ben and Echo. I am excited about the weekend, but I wish they could be here with me.

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to be continued…

Let’s tour The Ryman Auditorium, the mother church of country music…

When I told people that Ben and I are about to go and check out Nashville, I received a “what did you just say?!” look from most of them…can’t even blame them…neither Ben nor I am big fans of country music, but luckily we are both interested in seeing new places and learning about history. I think that even if you are not a country music fan, you should visit Nashville once and get a feeling of the vibe of the city.

We decided to spend New Year’s Eve there and we also gave ourselves a couple days to look around before.

I will just go ahead and admit the fact that I became interested in Nashville and country music, after watching the TV show called Nashville. (Don’t judge!) I really enjoy some of the ABC drama series, this one particularly. I fell in love with the actors, their stories, and I actually started enjoying the music itself as well.

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This christmas we decided to take a road trip to visit family and then take some time to go and see new places. We ended up picking Nashville, which was “only” 8 hours out of our way! It was a pretty intense time to visit, most streets in downtown were closed for the New Year’s Eve event, which included free concerts, food trucks on the road, and lots of people around. It was very fun, and I understand this is not what Nashville normally is, but in our memories that will always be part of it 😀 We enjoyed how much music was around us, how many musical buildings, hall of fame, museums and culture surrounded us and everything was available right at downtown in a walking distance.

I could talk about Nashville for hours, but I will grab a little peace of history out and talk about our visit to the Ryman Auditorium, which is known as the mother church of country music. Pretty important one if you ask me 😀 The Ryman has hosted all the good lookin’ cowboy musicians, even the not so good looking ones, gave place to hundreds of concerts, and provided a cultural center for the people throughout the years.

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We chose the “self-touring” option to visit the auditorium, which was $20/person. After entering the building, we got guided up to the second floor (guided….self-touring…I will let that sink in…:D ), where we all got to watch a movie, about the history of The Ryman. It was literally the coolest presentation we have ever seen, which kind of set our mood for the rest of the tour. They say that the story of the building is so powerful and emotional that they needed an extraordinary way to present it to the visitors…well they kind of nailed that one! Unfortunately, it was prohibited to take pictures or video during the presentation (which makes sense), but here is a little sneak peak from YouTube to get an idea: Soul of Nashville .

The story of the building – Soul of Nashville- was told by a hologram -kind of lady, Lula Naff, who used to be the manager and promoter of the building. The theater had multiple projectors and sound system hanging off the walls so they could use special effects and create a multidimensional presentation for the audience. It was such a wonderful and innovative (and unexpected) way to do it, that it kind of caught us off guard, but I have never seen 100 people be this interested in a history presentation before. There is a chance that none of us blinked for 20 minutes, just in case we would miss something.

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During the presentation we learned about the 125 year old history (how cute :D) and the legendary performances that came to life in the auditorium. Lula Naff, was a very strong lady, and kind of undeservedly forgotten by our society, who became the manager of the Ryman, even before women had the right to vote. She invited the best performers and various Broadway shows to the Ryman such as Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini, Katharine Hepburn, Mae West, “Guys and Dolls,” and many more. She managed to bring the Ryman back to life, after getting shut down for being too old (125 years, too old, haha) and dangerous…She created a fantastic gathering and cultural place for the people who enjoyed music and comedy.

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After the presentation we got to self-tour the building, check out the posters on the walls, see the auditorium and the stage, sit down and enjoy the squeaking noise of the benches. The braver and more talented ones got a chance to go and sing in the recording studio, while the less talented ones walked around and looked at the costume exhibition that had a pretty solid collection of the performing singers’ outfits. You can tell which category I am in based on all the following costume pictures 😀 😀

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The Ryman – not by accident – is #1 on the “Things to do in Nashville” list.

We had a fantastic time seeing history evolve, listening some good old country music, and getting to know more performers. It was a well invested $20 and I encourage everyone to go there once and check it out!!!! 😀

 

 

 

San Diego Thanksgiving Adventure and Our First Turkey Meal Attempt

Weeeeeeeee road trip again. Ben, Echo, and I packed up the car and took off to San Diego for Thanksgiving. This dog is only 4.5 months old and has been in California more than I have …slight over exaggeration… but he has been adventuring a lot since he entered our little family which I am very excited about…he better get used to it 😀

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Look at his little nose and mouth…so adorable

Wednesday night we had puppy class, so we couldn’t get on the road until 7 pm. The trip took us almost 8 hours, so we were a little tired by the time we got to Pierre’s (Ben’s best friend) house…The driving part wasn’t too bad, we helped each other out, when Ben was driving I took a nap and then he took one when it was my turn to drive…Echo’s contribution to the trip was that he did not get car sick which was huge!

We saw this sign on the highway. I am glad I got such a “good” picture of it so I can share it with you all 😀

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“Drinking and driving go together like peas and guac”

Thought it was a very clever sign…sorry about the terrible quality…:)

It was nice to arrive to San Diego and give Pierre a big hug! We talked for a little bit but then passed out…we had a pretty challenging day ahead of us!

THURSDAY: Turkey Day/Thanksgiving!

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Let’s just start with the fact that none of us has prepared Thanksgiving meals before so we were expecting some major kitchen crisis, burnt turkey and unrecognizable stuffing outcome…

We started the morning by writing a grocery list. Pierre was looking up recipes and Ben was writing down the necessary ingredients that we had to get at the grocery store.

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Apple Pie backup, if the apple pie doesn’t turn out well?? 😀 (Later we realized we had a pro pie maker in the team)

Pierre got a 14 lbs ( 6.35kg) turkey earlier that week so we just had to buy stuff for the side dishes…

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Here is the list of what we were planning on preparing with lots of confidence:

  • Turkey (Chef Pierre took care of this like a boss)
  • Mashed and sweet potatoes
  • Stuffing ( We cheated a little with this one and got a boxed version…muaha…but I still had to add water, onions, and butter to the mix so there was a chance that something was gonna go wrong)
  • Biscuits
  • Corn bread
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Green bean Casserole
  • Gravy
  • Apple Pie with vanilla ice cream

Pretty solid list, especially going into it not having the slightest clue what we were doing … Pierre’s friend, Perla, joined us later during the day, luckily she is a pro green bean casserole and pie (!!!) maker so we were set for at least one good meal and dessert…

We put everything out on the table and tried to organize the ingredients and what order we were going to with…

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Organized chaos

Pierre prepared the turkey! Let’s be honest he had the most pressure of us all, but he did great!

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The turkey hat power helped him out

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Ben took care of the cranberry sauce…

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I took care of the stuffing…

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And Echo was wondering what the heck was going on…plus he took care of the backyard digging some holes just for fun…:/

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This stove has never worked this hard in its entire life before…

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Cooking together was so much fun and we did better than we expected. There were no major crisis situations and the fire alarm only went on once!! 😀 We were pretty busy though for a couple hours, I can’t even imagine how can anyone do this alone. All my respect!

And a quick 5 and a half hours later we had:

A beautiful turkey

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Some delicious cranberry sauce

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Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, biscuits, corn bread, and gravy…

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And some amazing company!

I tried to eat a little but it turned out to be a little more…

Very proper way of sitting

No need to mention the food-coma we were in for the rest of the day, had a hard time functioning, breathing and getting off the couch but it was so worth it…

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Hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving time with family and friends!!! 

Now it is time to get back into the gym 😀