Monthly Archives: May 2011



The best part of my birthday was having my best friend and her hubby visit. They flew in from Ohio on Monday night and stayed until Friday night, hoping for a week of fun in the AZ sun. Well, that didn’t pan out exactly. As luck would have it, the weather was pretty terrible. We had one nice day on Tuesday, then the rest of the week it was a combination of snow, sleet, rain, clouds, etc. depending on what elevation we were at. Yep, that’s right, it SNOWED on my birthday. Big fat flakes actually accumulating on the ground on May 18. Crazy! I tried to look on the bright side and just chalk it up as another birthday “first.” First birthday I’ve ever had with snow falling! Despite the weather, we had a great week. I was off work and acting like I was on vacation myself with lots of good food, drinking, and tour guiding them around northern AZ. We cooked together, played beer pong in the dining room, went to the cowboy bar, jumped in FREEZING Wet Beaver Creek, ate at Criollo, and made S’mores in the fireplace.

The best part though, was just having my best friend there, and having everything feel right between us. The past few years have brought so many changes in our lives and strained our relationship. It’s natural for these years to do that, I know, seeing as the early 20s are when most of us choose the path that we will follow throughout the rest of our lives. Choosing different paths (for her marriage, a career, and a house in Columbus and for me the Peace Corps, moving around a lot, and working just to travel) definitely made things hard for awhile, as we had less in common, found it harder to get together even when I still lived in Columbus, and there was a thin but tangible layer of tension between us.

I was a little nervous that things would still be like that when they visited. But from the moment Zach and I picked them up from the airport it was just like old times. The four of us have made so many awesome memories together over the years (camping, ziplining, whitewater rafting, and many many happy hours) and this trip just continued it. I feel like having the past year (her first year of marriage, my first year back in the US/living with my boyfriend/in a new state) to grow into our adult lives allowed us to become comfortable in our own skins and accept each other’s differences. While growing apart and disagreeing in some ways is inevitable, we still have that special best friend connection of knowing each other better than almost anyone else. We can talk about the hard things and learn from each other’s perspectives. We can still remember our old high school inside jokes and laugh about them long into the night. We can still team up and make fun of our SOs to no end. I could tell that we both have matured in our lives and in our friendship. I love her so much and it was so great to have her here and feel like everything was “just like old times.” Here’s to many more years of adventures together!

Best Birthday Present Ever!


Hellooooo there!  I have been SO out of the loop on posting and email and everything due to our Internet modem totally pooping out.  It’s still not fixed but it better be soon because I just feel so behind on life!  That’s what happens when so much of your day-to-day routine is based on being plugged in.  Weird!

Well, I’m going to get back into blogging with just a quickie for today.

Introducing, THE NEW LOVE OF MY LIFE:  my Nikon D3100!!!!!!

I have the best boyfriend in the world!!!!!  He got me this lovely and amazing dSLR for my 24th birthday (which was May 18th).  One of the things that we love about each other is the fact that neither of us is into stuff…we try to keep our lives simple and not accumulate tons of crap.  So in getting each other birthday and Christmas presents we try to emphasize practicality.

Why is a fancy schmancy dSLR practical?  Well, because I really do enjoy photography, I want to get better at it, and we can use this camera to take awesome pictures in our travels!!!   These will make my blog and the La Aventura Project website better.  And Zach made sure to get a camera that was amazing at shooting HD video also so that we can use it as a second video camera for the La Aventura Project documentary!

I’ve never had a Nikon (usually go with Canon) but Zach said that all factors considered he felt this one was better than the Canon he was comparing it to.  Anyone out there have this camera and wanna give me some tips?  I’m also looking for a good guidebook to learn more about it.  The included manual never has enough…

So here I am, one year older, and one step closer to a couple more of my Thirty by 30 goals (#20 “Learn to use a dSLR.” and I’m hoping this will prompt me to buckle down and learn photoshop soon too, which is goal #15)!

May in Flagstaff


Seriously???  I really thought we were DONE with snow!  Apparently this “one last surprise snow” always happens here though.

In other news, our Internet is broken so posting may be lacking until we get it fixed.  I’m writing this from the coffee shop in town while sipping a delicious Raspberry Mocha (flex day!!!!!!!)

I Have a Fantastic Mom


(I meant to post this yesterday but by the time I got home from working a double the Internet was slow and so was my brain.  So Happy Late Mother’s Day!)

Reasons My Mom Is Awesome (A Short List)

1.  Cookies!!!  Growing up in my house there was NEVER a shortage of homemade baked goods.  I didn’t realize how lucky I was to ALWAYS have homemade chocolate chip cookies in my lunchbox until every kid always wanted to trade me their fruit roll-ups for my cookies at lunchtime.

2. My mom gave up her career in order to stay home and raise us.  I never had to go to preschool, day care, or a babysitter after school.   My mom was always there waiting for us to come home and out playing with us in parks all summer.  She sacrificed so much to be there for us!  I know being a stay-at-home-mom is one of the most demanding jobs in the world, and I’m so grateful that my mom was one!

3. Humor.  Our house was always full of silliness and jokes, mostly coming from my mom.  We laughed so much!!  Hiding dad’s desert, mimicking baby Tim, and telling silly kindergarden stories at snack time are all things I’ll never forget.  We definitely had a house full of laughts.

4. Music.  My mom instilled a love of music in me from an early age.  She always encouraged me to practice for my piano and then clarinet lessons.  We even played clarinet duets in church sometimes.  The love for music also extended to more laid-back activities such as dressing up and having disco dance parties all through the house.

5. Dusty.  It only took 13 years of begging to get my mom to relent to getting a puppy.  Granted, it was kind of a bribe to make us not be too sad about moving from Iowa to Ohio, but it was an AWESOME bribe.  I’ll always remember the day we went to Petland (I know, I know, horrible to get a puppy-mill puppy there, and I swear I will adopt in the future but I was only 13!) to “just look” and fell in love with a little fluffy white dustmop.  I could see my mom’s heart melting as she held her and she even thought of her name!  I know my mom does do most of the work for little Dusto nowadays and it makes me so happy that she got her for us and now loves a dog she never actually wanted.

6. Support.  My mom has always supported me in everything I’ve ever aimed to do, no matter how crazy or outside-the-box.  My mom was always at all my concerts and plays growing up.  My parents let me choose my own college and generously paid my tuition.  They supported me when I decided to study film, go to Kenya for a summer, and eventually join the Peace Corps.  Although I know she wishes I would settle down a bit, I am so thankful that my mom understands the allure of traveling and respects the volunteering work I have done.  I know she will always support me emotionally  and have my back in a crisis.  I’m so appreciative I have a mom who lets me follow my dreams.

I love you Mom!  Thanks for raising us with so much love and teaching us great values!!  I am so lucky!!!!!!

End of the Dental Drama


Remember this post, all about how messed up my teeth (supposedly) are?

Well, this week I got all of that sorted out, hurrah!  Thanks to getting back on my dad’s insurance I was able to go see a different dentist.  He was much less pushy/salesman-like.  He basically said that I DON’T need a nightguard because he doesn’t see ANY signs of me wearing my teeth down by grinding, and that getting an electric toothbrush is up to my personal preference.  Take that 2nd opinion, money-grubbing first dentist!!!!  Unfortunately, I did have to get those 3 cavities filled, so I did that yesterday.  But you guys, guess what?  I SURVIVED!!!  It was over an hour in the chair and the 2 novicaine shots were definitely not pleasant but once I was numb I was NUMB, yo.  I actually found it quite amusing how fat and puffy my whole face felt and was able to just focus on how weird it was instead of focusing on them DRILLING my teeth.  Soon enough it was over and you better believe it, I am a lifelong hardcore flosser from  now on!!!!!  Oh, and my dad’s insurance is so much better, I didn’t pay a thing!  Woot!

My face took so long to stop being numb!  I met Zach for lunch and he laughed at my lopsided smile so much.  I looked like a stroke victim.  Also, it is hard to eat sushi when you can’t feel your upper lip.  Thankfully by the time I went to work last night my smile was *almost* normal again.  I think it was still a little droopy but everyone was busy drinking margarita after margarita for Cinco de Mayo that hopefully they didn’t notice.

And hopefully no more cavities ever!!!!

Operation Bikini: Update 1


For the purposes of my weight-loss plan, I decided that the week starts on Monday.  As I wrote, on Monday I went on an 11-mile hike, so that was my first “flex day” for the week, meaning I didn’t count calories.  I enjoyed some pizza and a margarita but didn’t go overboard.  Tuesday I did a great job eating (under 1000 calories), and went mountain biking with Zach.  Unfortunately I tripped on the rutted road and fell off, with the bike pedal hitting me right in the upper arch bone of my foot.  Ouch!  That was swollen and kinda sore until mid-afternoon today.  It kinda led me down a bad road, since instead of going for another bike ride I decided to make Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Filling and Chocolate Ganache (recipe: Ming Makes Cupcakes) for Zach!  I didn’t actually eat a cupcake, but of course I consumed a good amount of the batter, filling, and ganache.  (Baker’s privileges, you know.)  So today became my second “flex day” already.  I did kick myself in the butt and got outside for a 30 minute walk, plus did 50 pushups and 150 crunches for at least a little exercise.    I definitely indulged a little too much today and need to work more on the moderation thing for my flex days next week.  So now I am facing a stretch of at least 4 days eating strictly (1000 calories or less).  It’ll be hard but I can do it!  Writing these posts will definitely help me stay accountable.

Wet Beaver Creek


I went on an 11-mile hike on Monday!  And it was actually not too hard.  I definitely worked up a sweat and huffed and puffed up a hill, but all in all I felt great.  I went with a work friend who turns out to be such a kindred spirit.  We had a great time talking and sitting by the creek for a wine break.  And our destination was the coolest, most hidden-away swimming hole!  I love finding these secluded Arizona spots that are breathtakingly beautiful yet no one knows about!  We swam despite how cold it was, and cliff jumped off the 15 foot canyon walls!

Here is a picture (taken by said friend):