Patio Renovation

We have a lovely patio that we are embarrassed to admit allowed to fall into disarray. A pile of leaves lived in the corner, and the pollen that had fallen so thickly this past spring still clung to just about every surface. So we decided, in preparation for cooler weather, we would spruce up the joint. World Market was having some great sales on outdoor furniture, so we took advantage and bought some Adirondack chairs and a little matching table. We also got a potted plant (some sort of cane?), planted a few other things we've had on hand for a while, and scored a few very inexpensive but lovely accessories. And voila. The den, as Jordan likes to call it.

We've eaten several dinners "out" on cooler nights, and had some friends over to cook S'mores on our camping stove. We love it, and feel like we're only now taking full advantage of our lovely little apartment in Chapel Hill.

The price breakdown:
2 Adirondack chairs: $42.50 each (total $85) -- these are normally $100 each at World Market
Patio table - $25 at World Market
2 Outdoor pillows - $8.50 each (total $17) at World Market
Potted plant - $10 at Lowe's
Glass jar - $8 at Home Goods
Sea Glass - used a gift card at Pier One
Candles and mini-hurricanes - thrifted last year for our wedding

Total cost: $145!
Total savings: $175!!

Family in Philly

The Swiss Jacksons have officially made their move to the states, and Mariah and I were able to go up to Philadelphia and help watch the kiddos while M&E went house-hunting and car shopping. And then I got to go up again this past weekend to lend a hand and hang out.

First of all, I was a bit surprised by how much I loved Philadelphia and the surrounding area. Second of all, I've decided that if epidemiology doesn't pan out, I really wouldn't mind just teaching swimming for the rest of my life. It may be one of my favorite things to do, ever. Danny and Rachel are now official swimmers, love to dive for sticks, and really love doing a swan dive into the best night of their lives.

Mariah and I also visited Lancaster and Hershey, home of the Amish and Kisses, respectively. I do believe Mariah was in heaven at Hershey, and we both really loved the PA countryside.

We're all so glad the Philly Jacksons arrived safely on the east coast and hope the next few weeks are rather uneventful.


West Coast Trip - California

After driving for a few hours down the coast through quaint, seaside towns and cliffy stretches of highway, we saw a sign welcoming us to California. We were frankly a little sad to leave so much of Oregon unexplored, but we were excited for the Redwoods, and especially to hang out with more family.
Neither of us had been to the redwoods before, so we enjoyed driving through miles and miles of massive trees, and jumping out to take the occasional picture. We saw lots of wildlife and enjoyed the cool, shadowy woods.
I thought I had a pretty good handle on US geography, but neither of us had realized that the redwoods butted up against the west coast. So we enjoyed seeing views like these:
As we continued south passed the redwoods we were still surprised by the things we saw. We're not sure what these animals were, but it was pretty amazing to see a herd of them (elk? deer?) crossing the beach like this.
We stayed the night in Eureka (thanks, airbnb) and then headed out pretty early the next morning to drive the last leg of our trip. We drove through more Redwoods (Avenue of the Giants), took more obligatory pictures,

and then made it to our final destination, San Francisco.We had such a great time with Abe, Klarissa, and Mariah. We took a tour of the Cable Car Museum which is free(!) and houses the cable car power house. And it's just up the street from K&A's apartment.
We also hiked (walked, rather) Land's End, which I have been hoping to do the last several times I've visited SF. It was beautifully foggy and we really enjoyed the landscape and scenery the hike afforded.
We backtracked a bit, and headed north to Santa Rosa to visit my grandma. We had a lovely brunch and visited a few of her favorite dives,
and then headed south again, past SF, to Palo Alto. We walked around Stanford's beautiful campus, had the best (and cheapest) Mexican food of the trip, and then headed back to the city.
The next day, we headed down south again, but this time to the Mission San Juan Bautista (where Vertigo was filmed), some outlets, and In n' Out.
And THEN we headed even further south, to Carmel-by-the-Sea, a beautiful coastal town with lots of high-end shops and fun architecture. We watched some surfing, and then headed south again to Big Sur.
The views were stunning (a theme of the trip). And the houses were incredible. Let's just hope there aren't any tsunamis any time soon. We then made our way back up to SF, just in time to have a great late dinner at the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate Mariah's 16th birthday.
On Mariah's last day, we hit the farmers' market at the Embarcadero, the wharf, and Ghirardelli. A nice foody way to end the trip.
We loved the west coast, and we really enjoyed spending time with family we don't get to see too often. And now we get to hunker down for the next few years, while Jordan does his pediatric dentistry program and while I try to get a PhD. There won't be too many opportunities to travel, but a trip to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup may just be the perfect way to end our travel drought! As always, we'll keep you posted.


West Coast Trip - Washington and Oregon

We're finally back home from our "Jordan-graduated-from-dental-school-and-has-a-few-weeks-off-before-he-starts-his-pediatric-residency-so-let's-go-on-a-fun-trip" trip. As you can see from the map below, we covered quite a bit of ground and got to see a lot of the west coast.
We flew into Seattle and were hosted by our friends Brett and Jenna, who just moved out there for an orthodontics residency and a job as a real dentist, respectively. We felt like they had been living in the Pacific Northwest for years, based on their knowledge of the area and how well they had already adapted.
We saw the Olympic Statue Park (right along Puget Sound), UW's campus, their ward, downtown Seattle, Pike Place Market, and the Museum of Flight (which included a tour of the real Air Force One). We fit a lot in during our 36 hours.We picked up a rental car on Monday afternoon and headed south into Oregon, then drove east to the Columbia River Gorge. We were a little tight on time, but we managed to hike Multomah Falls and got good use out of our rain coats.We then met up with Jordan's family who had driven up from Las Vegas in the now-infamous 15 passenger van. We spent a wonderful week at Jordan's uncle's beach house in Lincoln City, where we watched World Cup group play, hunted for starfish and agates, shopped at the outlets, attempted to go into the frigid water, flew kites and had bonfires on the beach. It was a really wonderful vacation within a vacation.On Sunday, the family dropped us off in Eugene on their way home to Vegas. We picked up our rental car and drove through dense forest into high desert to Bend, where we had dinner, admired the scenery, and headed back the same way we had come.
The Three Sisters (you can see about two and a half here)
We made it to Sweet Home to visit some more friends who had recently moved to begin working (you guessed it: dentistry). Above is the lake we saw as we drove into their town. Jordan pulled over to take a picture just as the sun was setting. We were given a lovely tour of Sweet Home and had a nice time with our friends the Dimonds, and then headed west to the coast, where we were met with sights like these:
real-life sea lions!windsurfers!

Next up: redwood forests, San Francisco, and more