Taking Back My Twenties

Travel

Sonoma Photo Dump

Posted on Sep 4, 2014 | 2 comments

Hello!

How is it Thursday again? The work weeks are already flying by! We had our open house tonight – lots of nervous parents and lots of questions. And man, people sure dress to the nines for open houses these days:)

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But on to the fun stuff. We were lucky enough to get to spend Labor Day weekend in wine country. My sister and I have been planning this trip for well over a year – I can’t believe it’s come and gone already. Kath and her husband are Sonoma experts, so we were glad to have them show us the ropes!

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We rented a wonderful little house near the Sonoma Square, complete with a backyard and hot tub. I wish we had been able to spend more time grilling in the chilly (!) temperatures, but it was a short trip and were busy tasting pinots and zins!

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On our first day, we headed straight from the airport to Sausalito for lunch. The bay breeze were soo incredible – I miss water when I’m in Dallas. Then we ventured on to Lagunitas for beer! What a cool spot. I ordered a kombucha since I was the DD for the day, but I had a few sips of IPA.]

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For dinner, we walked to the famous Girl and the Fig, where I had a lovely fig bourbon drink. We shared a cheese plate, and Matt and I ordered pork belly and quail.

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I didn’t snag pictures of our dessert and port, but everything was wonderful.

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Our second day was spent in the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys with a picnic mid-day.

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Chalk Hill was one of my favorite wineries of the trip!

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We made our way to Healdsburg and ended at the La Crema tasting room – another favorite in terms of wine!

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We killed some time shopping for dessert and walking around the square and then landed at Chalkboard for dinner. Oh my goodness – this was amazing.

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I think we ordered 10 small plates?

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Highlights were the pork belly cheddar biscuits, the beef sliders topped with short rib, and the crab tater tots.

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Saturday was a big day because we did a wine tour – I would highly recommend Dean from Woody’s Wine Tours!

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The highlight of the day was definitely a lunch at the owner of Montemaggiore’s home!!! When Dean told us he’d be arranging for lunch at a winery, I had no idea it would be a private tasting with incredible views in someone’s home. Boy, were we spoiled!!
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At the end of the day, we ventured to a pub for a casual dinner.
We were a little tired of drinking by Sunday, so we took it easy and just visited two wineries before retiring to the house! William Hill over in Napa and was another favorite because of the views!

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We had one last dinner in the town of Sonoma at La Salette. It was Portuguese and the food was delicious! I had a stuffed pork tenderloin paired with a Sonoma red!!
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We bought ten bottles of wine while we were there and I can’t wait to drink them over the next few years and think of this special vacation!

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It was the trip of a lifetime and I am so thankful that we were all able to go together. And a very special thank you to my parents who took care of little Mazen (my nephew) so that we could make it happen!

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Last Chance for Year of Surprises!

Posted on Aug 26, 2014 | 0 comments

“I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Millennial Central Consulting for Marriott Rewards. I received Marriott Points to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

Hi Guys,

Remember my other posts about the Marriott Rewards® program and Year of Surprises? Well, this is the last of a series of 3 posts because the third nomination period ends August 31st!

If you’re just tuning it, Marriott Rewards is celebrating its 30th birthday by throwing surprise parties for people who deserve to be celebrated. Whether it’s your parents’ golden anniversary or your best friend’s graduation from a PhD program, I bet you can come up with someone or something to celebrate!

When I first heard about the contest, I know I was curious to see the winners and their parties. Marriott Rewards has already announced 8 winners from the first two nomination periods and you can see videos of the surprise parties online.

Check out this video – the bride had to miss her wedding because she had brain surgery and then a stroke, so a friend nominated her and Marriott Rewards surprised her with an engagement party once she was back on her feet!!

Nominations are reviewed based on creativity, uniqueness, and feasibility of the party. You don’t have to be a Marriott Rewards member to submit a nomination, but I highly recommend the program! You can sign up for the Marriott Rewards program online at Marriott.com/rewards. And don’t forget to enter at yearofsurprises.com – if you want to know more about how it works, you can find the rules at yearofsurprises.com/rules.

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To NC and Back

Posted on Aug 19, 2014 | 1 comment

Hello! I’m back from a quick trip to NC! The timing couldn’t have been worse for this wedding, but I couldn’t bare to miss the opportunity to see friends and family. I flew in late Friday and back on Sunday. I got to see both my sister and Mazen and my parents for Friday dinner! We hit up Tyler’s in our old stomping ground in Durham. I enjoyed a beer and a pork belly sandwich before heading over to the welcome party for the wedding.

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The wedding was held at the beautiful Duke gardens. It was a hot day, but it felt soo much cooler than Dallas and I loved it.

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The bride looked stunning in a fitted lace dress and the gardens made for a beautiful backdrop.

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My bff’s from high school were all therel!!

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We enjoyed drinks on the patio and then moved inside for a lovely dinner and dancing.

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The food was so fresh! Apparently the NC trout had been caught that morning and the pistachio chicken was hot off a charcoal grill.

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We danced for hours and popsicles were passed around the dance floor – what a great idea! I had a salted caramel pop that was excellent.

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Sunday morning, I had a long brunch with my parents at Foster’s in Durham. It was an awesome weekend until my flight was cancelled on Sunday. I was re-routed through Pittsburgh where I spent 6 hours in the airport before I finally made it back to Dallas at 2am. Arg. Needless to say, I’m happy to be home and ready for a week of good night’s sleep. I’m so excited to meet the students this week! Adios.

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A New York Minute

Posted on Aug 5, 2014 | 7 comments

Our trip to New York felt so fast because we packed a ton into 2 days! We were in the city for the wedding of two of my Davidson friends – they fell in love when we studied abroad in Cambridge!

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We arrived Friday afternoon, and after walking around for a couple of hours while Matt worked, we headed to Chelsea to meet friends at Buddakan – this has been on my list for a while because I love fusion + small plates. The pork belly above came with buns and was probably my favorite plate.

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We had chili shrimp and deviled tuna tartare,

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and prawn and mushroom noodles (also a favorite) and broccoli in a brown sauce. Dinner did not disappoint and the space, cocktails, and service were great as well. After dinner, we stopped by the wedding welcome party and then called it a night. I sure can’t stay out like I used to.

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Saturday was a wonderful day! The weather was iffy, so instead of going for a run, Matt and I went to a nearby Equinox and took a spinning class. I rarely have access to good classes while traveling, so it was great to start the day with a solid workout.

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We found out at the last minute that Matt’s parents were going to be in the city, so we met them for a lovely brunch at The Little Owl – another restaurant that’s been on my NYC list. We obviously started with the beignettes with nutella and raspberry sauce.

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I had the chilequiles, which were somewhat deconstructed. The flavors were very unique and I really enjoyed the dish, but I think I prefer my chilequiles in a big bowl:) Matt had the burger which was amazing!

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After brunch, we strolled through the Chelsea market and along the Hyline, chatting the day away – we ended up having great fall-like weather so it was a very pleasant afternoon.

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We said farewell to Matt’s parents and got ready for the wedding at the Harold Pratt House.

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The venue was beautiful and I loved that we moved to different rooms for each phase of the wedding.

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The happy couple!

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After the ceremony and cocktail hour we had a seated dinner catered by Daniel.

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The food was divine!!! Our first course was lobster with sweet corn. I LOVED that each course had a specific wine pairing!

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Our second course was braised short ribs and beef tenderloin – both meats were melt-in-your-mouth good and were paired with a pinot noir.

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The dessert course was a chocolate coulant paired with champagne! The middle was like a gooey raw brownie.

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There was an awesome live band who played both really good classics and new music. A few hours into the dancing, the bride and groom cut the cake for round two of dessert. They also brought out sliders and hot dogs at the very end for anyone who had worked up an appetite dancing.

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It was an absolutely perfect wedding until the Rolls-Royce that was supposed to take the couple to their hotel caught on fire! Luckily, they were out of the car and the staff was able to put out the fire pretty quickly. Scary!

The weekend ended with brunch on top of the Nomad Hotel. This was such a nice touch for out-of-town guests and the food was fantastic.

What a lovely end to a whirlwind summer. I still have one more wedding to attend back in NC, but it’s after I start work next week. See ya.

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Bodrum Birthday

Posted on Jul 14, 2014 | 8 comments

Hello!

I’ll spare you the details of my low-key weekend at home and share the last of my Turkey pictures!

After our time in Istanbul, we traveled to the beach town of Bodrum along the Aegean coast. I was really, really excited about this part of the trip, but after the whirlwind of the city, I hadn’t thought much about it. I think Matt and I were both blown away when we arrived and saw how ridiculously beautiful it was. We didn’t stay right on the water to save some money, but our hotel had a breathtaking view from a hill overlooking the city and harbor, so it was fine with me!

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I knew the town was old, but I didn’t realize how much history there was until we started walking around the city and learning more about it. On our first day we explored and visited the ruins of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world! We probably could have spent another whole day going to historical sites (the castle looked so neat), but we had a birthday to celebrate!

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We walked down to the harbor on our first night and discovered tons of waterfront bars – reminded me of the cove we’d go to in Mykonos every night before dinner on our honeymoon!

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One thing I forgot to mention in my previous posts are the cats in Turkey! They were everywhere and the locals and people working at restaurants kept them well-fed and gave them attention, so it wasn’t a sad situation (or at least didn’t appear to be) like some of the other places I’ve visited where the animals are thin and sickly.

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This was the view from our dinner table down to the docks where the cats were waiting for scraps of seafood.

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Anyway, back to the birthday. Matt turned 30 on the 3rd, so I wanted to do something extra special for him. It didn’t take much research to discover that renting a gulet, or a traditional wooden boat is a big thing in Bodrum. A friend of mine had also done this and highly recommended it, so I made arrangements with a wonderful lady to hire the Adorya gulet for the day.

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Matt didn’t know a thing about it until the morning of, when I gave him a pair of sunglasses and a card that explained the surprise. He was one happy 30-year-old!

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The boat was absolutely amazing and the day was right out of a fantasy….by far the best excursion I’ve ever done!

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We sailed into quiet coves and swam in the brisk water,

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we snorkeled (but didn’t see much),

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we drank beers while floating on noodles,

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and jumped off the top of the boat.

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Our captain prepared an incredible fresh lunch of salad, fruit,

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and fish caught that morning.

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Of course, I arranged for a bit of cake:)

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It was seriously one of the best days of my life.

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After the boat trip, we rested and then strolled into town for dinner. We took a break from Turkish food and had dinner at a Spanish restaurant called La Pasion.

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We sat in a beautiful courtyard and had tapas. I think we ordered 7 and all of them were phenomenal. I’m so glad we found this gem!!

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We went to this one bakery every night in Bodrum to pick a dessert to take back to the hotel. I think Matt’s birthday is about the only day he’s willing to eat dessert with both lunch and dinner!

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On our last day in Bodrum, we took a bus over to the beach side of the town and spent the day at a beach club.

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The view was great! We had crazy winds, so we wrapped up in towels to stay warm and watched the huge beach pillows blow into the water. It was cozy.

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We had one last dinner in the harbor, and then it was back to Istanbul for the long trek home.

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Looking back at these pictures, it’s like the whole trip was a dream. I know I am very fortunate to be able to travel and I’m so thankful that Matt and I had the opportunity to visit such an amazing part of the world and celebrate a fun milestone on a gulet:)

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Turkish Delights

Posted on Jul 9, 2014 | 5 comments

The food in Turkey was ridiculously good. And oh so fresh!

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There were markets with beautiful fruit. I had sooo many cherries at breakfast every morning. Given that we were near the water, there was also wonderful local seafood and we enjoyed seabass 4-5 times during the trip.

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The Turks start their meals with mezes, small dishes or snacks that are usually served cold. I was obsessed! The only problem was that we would often order a couple and eat them with lots of bread, and then be too full for our entrees:)

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Another dish I was in love with was warm hummus served with hot pastrami. I could eat this for days.

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For snacks, we would sometimes stop by one of the many juice stands for freshly squeezed juice,

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or duck into a spice store for giant medjool dates.

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And the bakeries, oh the bakeries, were delightful, and on every corner. Matt and I made it our goal to try all the varieties of baklava and would search for the best-looking bakery after dinner each night.

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Waffles stuffed with toppings were also a thing over there. Although it doesn’t look as delicious as it tasted, this soft waffle was filled with dark chocolate, caramel, bananas, strawberries, and sprinkles; it was to-die-for.

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I drank lots of Turkish wine. Although most food in Turkey was less expensive than in the US, the alcohol was pricey. I stuck to local Turkish wine and beer, because cocktails were $15-$20! The Turkish reds weren’t too flavorful (although we had one or two good ones), but the roses and the whites were great. I’m not usually a rose girl, but I got into them on this trip. Side note: the bar below is called Mikla and had the most incredible views of the city. You MUST go for a drink if you are ever in Istanbul!

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The local beer, Efes, came in a dark variety that both Matt and I loved.

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We had many wonderful meals, and I obviously didn’t document all of them, but here are a few highlights:

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Meze by Lemon Tree (above). I choose this for our last night of the trip (we were back in Istanbul) because the menu is mostly modern mezes. We ordered 6 cold ones and 3 hot ones and every dish was incredible. It was phenomenal.

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Another great restaurant was Banyan in Ortakoy. Although this restaurant was Asian fusion and not Turkish, it had the most beautiful view of the water and I had to share the caramelized sea bass and quinoa shredded salad picture because it was probably the best salad I’ve ever had!

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Lastly, we had a really nice meal on our first night at a modern Turkish restaurant called Lokanta Maya

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Above are shredded wheat balls stuffed with feta and honey and below, fried zucchini.

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We also had fresh clams and more seabass!

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I think the Turkish food was my favorite part of the trip! After avoiding dairy for most of this year, the feta and yogurt tasted extra heavenly. Aside from being uncomfortably full some nights, I didn’t have any issues with bloating. I was religious about taking my probiotics while traveling, and I think they are making all the difference (either that or I’m just not stressed about finding a job anymore:) Anyway, I’m just so thankful that I was able to enjoy all the Turkish food and still feel pretty good!

I’ll share some pictures from Bodrum and Matt’s 30th next!

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