Thursday, February 28, 2013

Koh Samui - the rest of the story

Our resort in Koh Samui was absolutely wonderful.  It was right on the beach and it was breathtaking.

Like I said, right on the beach.  This was the view from where we ate lunch everyday.  It was spectacular.

I tried to spend most of my time relaxing, but I did take a day to walk around and take photos.

There were little ponds all over the property and they kept bowls of food so visitors could feed the fish.  It seems dumb, but I thought it was fun.  That fish could have been a little more grateful, I just filled his belly with red and green cereal-like balls of food.  If that doesn't satisfy you, I don't know what will.

In the evenings, Esther pulled me away from the resort to enjoy the local night life.  Yes, we did more shopping... and then some more later.  Though, I must say, I didn't sample any of the local cuisine.  Nope, the pig on a spit did not tempt me.  I tried to be adventurous, so I tasted all the foods that Esther got, unless it was really disgusting looking.  In that case, I stuck to my hotdogs and pizza.

Esther was the planner of this trip - therefore, I did what she said (though I wasn't always excited about it, I always ended up having a great time).  She found a boat tour for us to go on that took us on a trip to the surrounding islands.  They may look familiar to you - these islands were in the movie The Beach and in a James Bond film.  The island featured in that movie is even called James Bond Island.

The beauty here is just spectacular.  I couldn't stop staring.  Have you ever seen water that color?  I went snorkeling in that water.  I've never gone snorkeling before (not counting the public pool) and once I got over the fear of being killed by a shark, I really enjoyed the experience.

It took quite awhile to get used to breathing through the snorkel, but once we hit our stride it was really easy.  We swam in that water for an hour and didn't rest one time.  There's something different about that water.  It didn't even feel like I was working to stay afloat.  It's hard to explain, but it was pretty cool.

One of the stops on our boat tour gave us the opportunity to climb to the top of an island.  It gave us a few that was absolutely breathtaking.

This is one of my favorite photos from our trip, not sure why thought.  But then again, any photo of this place is my favorite.

Poor Esther had to push and pull me through this whole trip.  I'm a huge wuss.  Seriously, I am.  Heights aren't my favorite, so after climbing up staircase ladder number 2, I was a little freaked out.  But she convinced me to go up and I'm glad she did.

Have you even been jealous of a cricket?  I've never been jealous of a cricket, but just imagine the life this little guy leads.  From where I'm sitting, his life looks pretty good.

We ended our tour with lunch on an island and then we were off to a different island for a little swimming and kayaking (yes, we flipped it).

Esther and I were both very excited to ride and elephant.  We sort of felt bad sitting on her, but we tried to remember that she's a big, strong elephant.  I also tried to not get freaked out, but it wasn't very easy.

And then I looked at the trail we would be taking and I started to worry.  A huge elephant would be walking over that trail?  Yikes.

We survived and Esther even did a little driving.  Ok, not really, but she did sit in front for quite awhile.  It was hard to see the elephants in that environment and not wonder if they are being properly cared for.  But our guide sang to her the whole ride.  It was the sweetest thing.  In between commands that sounded like grunting, he sang the sweetest songs to her.  We even go to meet her baby.

We met her baby because the baby charged at us - he was so excited to see his mom. We were freaking out at first, so we were happy to find out he was just excited.  It was pretty adorable.

After our elephant ride, we have a few minutes before we needed to get back on the bus, so we headed to the falls.  Esther started to try to climb up that big rock behind her and thats when I put my foot down.  No, you may not climb that large rock in your flip flops.

Being the brave one, Esther tried coconut milk/juice/stuff.  I waited until I had a coke in hand to wash out any bad taste.

It was pretty gross, but I'm glad I tried it.  Esther couldn't even keep drinking it - and that's saying something.  She likes everything!

Koh Samui was my favorite part of our entire trip.  It was just so beautiful.  Also, the beach was amazing and I even came back with a nice tan burn.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bangkok - the rest of the story

A warning - I'm terrible at story telling.  I'm just not any good at it.  I'm aware of this and I've accepted it.  So here's the deal - I took photos of the things that interested me and that's what I'll tell you about.  I'll spare you the boring details.  Otherwise, before we know it, it'll be like we're stuck at the neighbors house for their vacation slideshow and we're only on carousel 3 our of 10.

Esther and I spent two days in Bangkok.  We had a great time.  One of the best things about Bangkok was the sky train - traveling around the city couldn't have been any easier.  It wasn't great for my fear of heights, but it was air conditioned and that was all I cared about.

I'm not a big fan of having my photo taken, so when Esther reached for her camera, I reached for mine, too.

I'm sorry. I'm watching the latest episode of White Collar - it's very good and very distracting.  I have a lot of catching up to do, my queue is overloaded with episodes I've missed.  And as well all know, I love me some tv.  Ok, back to Bangkok.

On our first day in Bangkok, we took the water taxi to see the sights.  It was one of the best parts of the trip because we got to see a lot of the city.  Luckily, the waters weren't as rough it looks, but we did wear our seasickness bracelets (just in case).

Along the way, I got to take some photos of beautiful flowers.

We had a wonderful time in Bangkok and it was really beautiful.  Also, we did a lot of shopping. A lot of shopping.

Esther had heard about a market that was huge - so we took a small suitcase with us.  I thought she was a little crazy.  Little did I know that we would fill that entire suitcase.  I've never brought home so many souvenirs from a trip.

Tomorrow's post - Koh Samui.  It was my favorite part of the trip and I can't wait to show you the picutres.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Big News!

Welp, the time has come.  Time to tell you the big news! I don't know why this is the time, but it is.

I bought a house.  Yup.  I did it.  I bought a house.  If you follow me on Pinterest, you might have already figured that out - I've been pinning house stuff like a mad woman.

I first put in an offer on a house on Friday, January 11th.  The next day, I found out that the homeowner went with another offer.  Boo.

Over the next few weeks, I continued with my nightly habit of browsing Zillow.  I compared every house to the first one and nothing was better.  The more houses I looked at the more I loved the first one.

On January 28th, three days before my three week trip to Asia, my realtor called me to tell me the same house was back on the market.  I jumped on it and found out the next day that my offer was accepted.  Hurray!

I don't have any photos - but I can at least tell you about it.  I feel so blessed because I basically just bought my dream home.

It's a brick row home built around 1925.  It's adorable and cute and has an arch in the kitchen.  Two bed, one bath and wood floors throughout, which I don't think Charlie is going to love.  But I'll tell you what she will love - the fenced in back yard.  It's a privacy fence which means that people won't be able to see me in my pjs when I take Charlie out in the morning.  Oh wait - I won't have to take Charlie out in the morning!  Hurray!

There's a 1.5 car garage (perfect for future projects and protecting my car from snow) and a finished basement with a laundry room.  My house is the corner lot, so I have extra yard, extra windows, extra light and extra space.  Again, hurray!

The best part, Esther and I will be neighbors when she moves home.

Here's a glimpse of what I plan to do in my future home -

My living room is wonderful.  It has a coat closet, large front window and two entrances - one that leads to a covered porch.

#1 - This living room is light and airy and comfortable.  It makes me want to settle in for the latest episode of Grimm and never get up again.  I plan to put lots of pictures in my living room.

#2 - I love the warm floor, white trim, and neutral walls.  I also love how the front face of the stairs are painted white.

#3 - A simple project that can really personalize a space.  I love it.  This will happen somewhere in my home.  It could be the living room, but it could also be my craft room.

#4 - There's one closet in my living room and I love the idea of making it an open space with a bench and storage for coats.

My home is over 80 years old, so I'm sure you can imagine what the bathroom looks like.  While it has been updated, it could really use some more TLC.  But bathrooms scare me, so for now, all changes will be cosmetic.  When I find me a handyman husband, we'll go deeper.  But everything works fine, so the only real change I'll make will be to add in my lovely Delta In2ition shower head.

#1 - My bathroom has zero storage, so I really love this open shelving.

#2 - These wire baskets are fantastic.  Being able to install them on my own is very appealing.  I've got my dad and brother-in-law signed up for enough work, why add to their load?

#3 - This is the color I will be painting my bathroom.  The wall tile has been painted white and I think this wonderful color will be perfect.

My bedroom is a really nice size and has two windows.  The only thing I'm really missing as far as my bedroom goes is a bed frame.  Someday I want to be a grownup and have a bed frame.  For now, my two mattresses will have to work.

#1 - I love how comfortable and girly this bedroom is.  I plan on putting my bench at the end of my bed and filling my room with photos.

#2 - I own two of these Ikea chandeliers. I plan to put one in my bedroom and the other will probably go in my bathroom (yeah baby!).

My kitchen.  Sigh.  My kitchen is why I fell in love with my house.  (In case you haven't picked up on in, it's really fun to say "my" in all of these sentences).  My kitchen looks very much like the kitchen in the top of #2 (except that my counter tops are maroon. yikes).  The kitchen is a galley kitchen with one end leading the the basement and living room and the other end leading the back yard.  There are 5 windows in my kitchen.  It's perfect.

#1 - There is space in my kitchen for a bench like this by the backdoor.  I love the extra storage it would add.  Technically, I probably should have included this photo in my next mood board (oops).

#2 - This is what I would like my kitchen to look like someday.  Dark gray lowers and white uppers.

#3 and #4 - These are two more examples of what I would like to do to my kitchen someday.  The colors and light are perfect, but these don't seem realistic to me.  The people that updated these kitchens were obviously loaded and made major changes.

The kitchen in #2 makes me think that I can actually do it without breaking the bank.  Painting the cabinets won't happen for a while.  It's not necessary, so it'll happen down the line.  I do plan to add a dishwasher and try to update the countertops before moving in.

When you walk in the backdoor, there's about a five foot stretch before you hit the kitchen.  It's lined with windows.  It would be the perfect place to do this finish.  It would give me a place to dump my shoes and wipe Charlie's feet before coming in the house.

#1 - I love, love, love this so much.  I love the pure white of of the finish and the hooks on the walls.

#2 - Adding a ledge at the top would be great for plants and photos.  It's just perfect.

So those are the preliminary plans.  I'm sure things will change as I live there, but I'm ready to take each project one day at a time and I'm very excited to get started.  My friend Krit made a great point - she said, "They take way longer than Sherri and John make them look so be ready:)"

I'm ready, at least I think I'm ready.  I feel more prepared now that I bought a metal pen for Charlie.  When you stretch it out straight it's 16' long - long enough to stretch across the garage door so I can keep the door open while I work and not worry about Charlie escaping.

The best feeling is knowing that this is the house God has given me.  I'm so blessed to have friends and family to support me during this big step.  I've had a lot of people offer to help me move and paint and do whatever.  As I said, I am very blessed.

I did the math and figured out that I have moved 11 times the past nine years, starting with my first move to college freshmen year.  Yuck.  I can't wait to move into a home of my own put down roots in this community and dig in for the long haul.

Moving in and actually living there is going to be amazing, but the thing I'm the most excited about - my first snow at my new house.

Friday, February 22, 2013

My Trip in a Nutshell

A rather large nutshell.  As many of you know, I recently took a trip to Taiwan to visit my sister, Esther, who has been living there for over a year.  Esther had the week off for Chinese New Year, so she planned a trip for us to go on during her week off.

We flew from Taiwan to Bangkok, Thailand.  We were in Bangkok for 2 days and then flew to Koh Samui (an island off the coast of Thailand) and we stayed in a resort there for 5 days.  Next, we flew back through Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  After 2 days there, we flew back to Taiwan.

It was a wonderful trip and when jet lag isn't messing with my mind or my sleeping schedule, I promise I'll go through all of my photos and write a more detailed post.

For a glimpse at our trip, I had the bright idea to grab a few of my iphone photos to show you some of the things we did.  58 photos later...

The last pictures I took of Charlie before I left.

The view out the window on my first 14 hour flight

Interesting icons are everywhere in Tokyo

The traditional toilet in Asia.  I used one once -
let's just say it didn't go well.

Landed in Taiwan! 

By the time we got to Esther's apartment, I was starving.

Shopping at a local market was really fun.  So many bowls!!

The largest building in Taiwan - Taipei 101

Hot pot with some amazing people! A brand new experience for me
and it was very fun! 

I'm very organized when I pack, obviously.

Enjoying the Dr. Evil like chairs in the EVA lounge while
waiting for the first flight of our vacation. 

Some preflight ice cream.  Yum.

Because of timing, we had to get a deluxe seat on our first flight.  It
was tough, but we pushed through.  ;) 

Char is awesome about sending us photos of her babies
because we miss them like crazy.

Our first day in Bangkok!

Sea-sickness precautions.

Seeing the sights in Bangkok.

A chandelier of tea cups.  Amazing design we found
in the mall while taking shelter from the heat.

A strange display in the mall.

Simple paper art seen in a store display.

This one was my favorite.

The longest hotdog I've ever seen.

A typical day in the lives of my niece and nephew.

Some great design in a local restaurant.

These are blurry - but still needed to be shown.

We went to see Les Miserables in Thailand. It just happened
to be showing in the VIP theater.  We had pillows and
blankets and fully reclining seats.  Amazing.

Seriously, amazing.

We landed in Samui at 7:30am and got to the hotel at 8:30 - we hit the
beach immediately.

Dad - you need to make us this for our next
trip to the beach.

The view from lunch.

Very impressive food carving.

Hour five at our resort - we were in love.

A storm rolling in.

All you can eat Brazilian restaurant in Samui - amazing. 

Pretty much the best corn on the cob ever. 

Another storm - luckily they always ended quickly.

The first morning in Vietnam.

My pup was very well taken care of when I was gone.

The most amazing tub ever.  Yup, I need a tub with jets in my dream home.

We found out that Cam like to watch videos of us - so we made him one.  Mom took a video of him watching it for the first time.  We tried to leave gaps in our video for him to answer questions.  We loved the result!

He loved it so much that he watched it again.

Bumped to business class for our flight back
to Taiwan.  It was amazing.

I'm officially spoiled. 

So many souvenirs.  Don't worry - you'll see them all soon.

My two flights heading back to the east coast were the
coldest flights ever.  My toes were freezing.  Many people
had their winter coats on - I was so jealous of those people. 

Dad so wonderfully brought Charlie with him to pick me up at the airport.
It was so nice to see my pup again.

We bought Mom two hand painted bowls in Thailand.
I think she likes them.

Mom made brownies with frosting as a welcome home
to me.  Best present ever.  Hmm...I think I'll go have
some right now. 

Saving boxes for a special event. :)

So wonderful to be back home with my baby.

It's also great to be home to see these sweet babies.