Bora, Bora, Bora

Anyone know the title’s reference? Gosh, I’m such a Netflix junkie. I really need to cool it. Anyways, I thought there would be no better time to do a recap post from our honeymoon than now considering we were there this time last year! We stayed at Four Seasons Bora Bora. Just saying the name makes my heart hurt a little because I miss it so badly! DJ and I both agree that every second of the trip was nothing short of magical. It was the perfect honeymoon. Dutch goes the photo has challenged us to submit something around the color “Blue”. I have to say there was nowhere in the world that I saw more beautiful blues. Here is my submission for the challenge. I think this photo captures so many different shades of gorgeous blues from a deep indigo to bright aqua.

IMG_8240

Traveling to the island was a fabulous adventure in itself. Tahitian airlines is highly recommended- the food is not your typical airplane food. We stayed one night in Tahiti before actually taking a smaller flight onto the island of Bora Bora.

** Side note: in the collage above I couldn’t decide if I wanted the food or our wedding rings to be the large picture. Shows where my priorities lay (lay or lie?! Ugh! IDK!). I digress.

When we first arrived they treated us like royalty. The staff offered us the most delicious mango juice we have ever had. I can still taste it. “La Orana” is a popular saying there for hello. You catch on quickly that you use this phrase frequently. The staff was incredibly friendly and we would always exchange the greeting in passing. DJ and I still joke around and say it to each other. It makes us miss this place something fierce!

image

We then proceeded to our little bungalow. Bungalow, bungalow, bungalow. Just a super fun word to say, don’t you think? Looking back through these pictures I crack up at the number of ring pics I took. Such a typical newlywed girl! It was also sorta a big deal that my nails were done because I have them painted like .00005% of the time due to nursing and also just because I’m too impatient to let them dry.

IMG_1949IMG_2253IMG_1838IMG_1840IMG_1837IMG_1822

Generally, our days were pretty relaxed. I will hit on a few essential highlights.

First, we were greeted with the most exquisite champagne set-up. The coconut contained a delicious array of fruit and a jam for dippin’. Coconut strips are big in BB. They would hand them out casually to us when we were on the beach getting ready to go jet skiing or shark diving (more about this soon, no worries 😉 ) . IMG_8273

Next, one word: Breakfast. We would get up in the morning and go to the breakfast buffet. This is not your typical breakfast buffet, this is like blow-your-mind gourmet cuisine. It was so good that even Jimmy Kimmel ate there with his family! Nope, not kidding, JimKim and the Jennifer Aniston clan were all there post her wedding with Justin Theroux at the same time as us. One day DJ and I were passing Jimmy (first name basis here) and his wife. He smiled and said HI (H-I) to us! HI. Ya’ll don’t understand. Star stinking struck. But, back to the good stuff (food), we sampled everything under the sun. They had a ridiculous amount of fresh fruit, french crepes, parfaits, an omelette station, and fantastic coffee. DJ loved getting their juice of the day. I thought their french toast was out of this world. The jams were not just your typical Smucker’s jams either (& I love my Smucker’s!). They were so good that I took a few of the mini jars home with me and still have them in my fridge. They are too cute, so I don’t want to eat them!

IMG_1896

…THE VIEWS! Oh how gorgeous this island is. I do not even need to say much- I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Although, the pictures cannot even do justice!

Most days, we loved just lounging on the beach. I read The Girl on the Train, highly recommended, and DJ stayed in tune with the sports world reading ESPN articles. We loved ordering lunch on the beach or at a beach bar. There is something delightful about digging your toes in the sand while munching on a nice juicy burger (a tuna burger in my case).

IMG_8242IMG_2390IMG_1933IMG_4126IMG_4243

We decided we wanted to try a couple excursions, but not go crazy. Before my last arduous year of nursing, we wanted to make sure we relaxed as much as possible! We went jet skiing one day and then went swimming with sharks the next. One of the most insane things I have ever seen was an eel that snaked its ferocious head out of it’s cave as we swam by. image

Our guide played the ukelele for us as we floated along the blissful water. We stopped at different locations and the leader of the trip would give us fresh mango, starfruit, and of course, coconut! The fresh air, golden sun, and rocking of the boat made us sleepy between stops but then we would get a new rush as we saw the sharks circling the boat- the sharks that we soon would be swimming side-by side-with. Cue the jaws theme song!imageimageimageimageimage

Dinners were … as you might predict… fantastic. I can’t even describe in words the incredible amount of seafood available. Some nights we opted to do room service while looking over the pristinely blue water, and other times we tried the restaurants. **Of course, we had to get the pineapple pizza at one point 😉

What would a good vacation be without embarrassing moments? One night I tried to take a picture of the new Mrs. Aniston when she was only tables away from us. We were dining at Sunset Grille surrounded by fire tiki poles that lit up the dark sky and the sound of the waves softly crashing around us. I probably ruined her perfectly romantic dinner as my camera flash lit up the entire area. I wanted to bury myself in a hole. I was mortified. If she noticed, she was sweet enough not to say anything. Also, while on the treadmill, Jason Bateman came in. Jason-freaking-Bateman. He started running a couple treadmills down from me, and we were the only two in the room. I tried to think of anything to say, and nothing came to mind. I truly understand the meaning of speechless now. I could not think of a single word. He asked if I would mind if he turned the music down. I said, “yes, of course” probably a bit too excitedly, but hey whatevs. He gets it, he’s him. I continued to try to think of any kind of conversation starter but felt so overwhelmed, like I might have a stroke, so I left. I LEFT. Who just leaves when a movie star is within conversational distance?! HELLO. I still want to smack myself to this day. My Aniston picture ended up being a picture of my kneecap as I quickly turned the camera with the flash away, so we won’t share that… However, I asked the waitress to take a picture of us one night hoping she would capture our friends (Jimmy Kimmel, Jason Bateman, and their two wives) in the background, and sure enough she did!!! This is one of my favorite little grainy pictures from the whole trip.

IMG_2211

I loved doing yoga, handstands, and sunbathing on our back deck. We would watch for stingreys and angel rays off the back too.

IMG_2197IMG_2349

Luckily, there was only one day where it rained the entire trip. The rest of the time it was bright blue, sunny skies. However, I didn’t mind the refreshing tropical storm. I love storms in general. This picture was taken before it hit. The photo captures the mood, which was quite ominous, but strikingly beautiful as well.

IMG_2272

At one point during the week we received a couple’s massage. It was maybe the most relaxing hour of my entire life. The spa location was just breathtaking. The hot tub faces out into the foliage of palm trees, tropical plants, and the characteristically blue water. It was truly paradise.

IMG_2537IMG_1861IMG_2541

We awoke from our Polynesian dream and had to head back to reality. La Orana!!!!

Wishing you rest and relaxation this weekend,

xo <3

Mack

Advertisements

The Cherry Capitol- TC, MI!

I am about to blog about one of my favorite places ever, and there is no way I can possibly do it justice, but you bet I will do my best! The first trip DJ and I took after graduation in April was to Traverse City, MI. I have taken a while to blog about this trip which severely throws off the order of events, but that’s okay because I want to make sure that I hit all the highlights and articulate accurately what a wonderful place this destination is.

IMG_5149

I have gone to Traverse City since I was a little girl. From hunting for the coveted Petoskey stones in the unusually cold water to sampling cherries from family friends’ cherry farms to soaking up the fresh michigan air in my lungs as I skied along the  most breathtaking views, my memories of this spectacular place are numerous. My mom is originally from this area, and I am lucky to have my grandparents live on one side of the notorious peninsula and my Aunt and Uncle right across the bay. **FUN FACT: DJ and I actually got engaged at my Aunt and Uncles’ beautiful waterfront home. I will have to share that story sometime ;). When planning our summer, Traverse City was at the top of the list.

IMG_5281
Why not do the most peaceful exercise in the most peaceful place?

The first night we arrived my aunt and uncle prepared us the most fabulous dinner. They are the type of people that seem to just excel at anything and everything they set their minds to. Cooking is no exception. My uncle prepared some of the most delectable salmon we have ever had followed by perfectly cooked veggies from my aunt and an absolutely refreshing salad. We still talk about “Uncle Pat’s Salmon” now. We have been to several restaurants for salmon and said, “Well- still not as good as Uncle Pat’s!”. The next day I was supposed to run the “run michigan cheap” half marathon. I may have forgone that race considering it was 30 degrees, snowing, and at 7 am. I decided to do instead ten miles on the treadmill and watch Flashpoint on Netflix. That show will keep you on the end of your seat (or on the end of the treadmill?). If you have Netflix, I highly recommend it. It made the ten miles fly by. We had a yummy parfait for breakfast and headed out on the town.

IMG_5285

At this point in time I was studying hard for my NCLEX (nursing boards), so DJ and I went to this delicious coffee shop called Aroma’s. It was the BEST almond milk latte I have had in my entire life. Look, I used to be a barista so I know this stuff ;). We studied for a few hours, I think DJ watched some games on his phone (or something sport related- who knows), then went back to get ready for lunch.

This is going to be a food post isn’t it? Yes, very much.

What was for lunch?! Well let me tell you… everything organic you could dream of. My Aunt and Uncle shop at multiple grocery stores and farmers markets to only buy the most organic and clean ingredients. I love staying at their house to eat all their food (…and hanging out with them is a major bonus, hehe). This little booger was the most delicious salad I may have ever had with multicolored carrots, tons of root vegetables, hummus, etc. etc.

IMG_7598

After lunch, I continued to study a bit and then relax. My Aunt and Uncle are super easy-going people; I feel that I can just veg-out and not worry about a thing when I’m in their home. DJ always jokes that I am going to be my Aunt when I’m older; we have very similar personalities, and I take that as quite the compliment. That night they treated us to a wonderful dinner at the restaurant Blu in Glen Arbor. I have never been anywhere like this. It has fine dining cuisine, but the most relaxing environment. You enjoy your meal overlooking the gorgeous water and are surrounded by only about ten other tables. It is the most quaint fine-dining experience I have ever had the privilege of enjoying. The staff was incredibly hospitable and knew many patrons by name. Ohhhh, and the food was insane. The menu isn’t super large, but anything you order will be fantastic. We tried a vast array of blue crab puffs with a sweet chili sauce, escargot with parsley and garlic butter, foie graus in a cherry sauce, and mixed greens with sherry vinaigrette. That’s a lot you say? Well those are just the apps. For our entrees we sampled (meaning devoured in their entirety) the walleye and a trout dish that was cooked to absolute perfection. I can’t give too much away because you just have to make your way there yourself. (HINT: order their flourless chocolate cake and myer’s rum soaked pineapple cake for dessert)! We wined and dined over amazing conversation, nonstop laughter, the most calming views, and exquisite cuisine.

IMG_5296
Are pant-suits back in style yet?

IMG_5286IMG_5305IMG_5310

 

I thought the pant suit was cute and all until I had to use the restroom. Then I realized what a struggle that would be-trying to unzip that thing! I held it all night, believe it or not…most would not.We all went back home with full stomachs and happy hearts. Nothing beats time with family.  And nothing beats access to the restroom after you have held it for three hours.

The next morning the two chefs went to work and made us huevos rancheros. Uhm, hello, how have I gone my whole life without these?! They made mine with vegan sausage (which tastes no different than regular- I am telling you!). We were stuffed like turkeys on thanksgiving, said our goodbyes, and headed off across the bay to see my grandparents (aka the coolest g-rents that ever lived).

IMG_7599.JPG

On our way to the other side of the Peninsula, we stopped at the cutest little winery. I told DJ I had to pop in. It looked like a mom-and-pop shop from the outside. On the inside it was a modern, sleek-looking wine tasting bar- I didn’t see any touristy little giftshop (you know- the ones with the spinning keychain holders that never spell your name right). So at 11 am on a Tuesday we are the only ones standing in this wine cellar. The girl that was working was super friendly, and we got to chatting for a while. I did end up sampling just a few sips of a couple wines because A. I felt weird if we just left without buying anything after chatting for that extended period of time and B. Wine.

Next, we went to the real touristy side of the city in downtown Traverse City. Downtown TC is my type of paradise. It has the cutest bakeries, gift shops, antique shops, unique family owned stores you can imagine. Despite the fact that I have been there a million times it never gets old! I usually spend hours upon hours just gallivanting through the numerous stores- especially Cherry Republic. *CUE DRAMATIC MUSIC*. This little shop is always packed because they offer cherry jams, cherry covered espresso beans, cherry salsa, cherry malted milk balls- need I go on? They allow samplings of many of the items and also offer a diverse menu of food choices. DJ and I ordered some soup to warm up while we were there. We also stopped in a coffee shop called Espresso Bay so I could squeeze in a little studying.

The trip in town would not be complete without visiting the olive oil store, Fustinis. I stocked up on their basil olive oil, 18 year old balsamic vinegar, and espresso balsamic (which is palatable on vanilla ice cream). I have tried my fair share of salad dressings but nothing tops combining some Fustini’s  basil olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

IMG_5353

My favorite discovery of the day was the bakery called Morsels. You know how sometimes you just need “a little something sweet”? Well that’s me all the time, and this place does the trick. It has a bunch of different delicious flavored “Morsels” you can choose from. Some of the best included: Brownie points (our personal favorite), Nuts and Berries (the TC award winning favorite), and Seventh Heaven which had graham cracker, coconut, and butterscotch chips. We went back right before we left (to go back to Indiana) and stocked up on a few more for our road trip home.

IMG_5352
I just loved this sign
IMG_5762

After exploring the great down town, we headed over to our Grandma and Grandpa’s for some quality time. We caught up on all the happenings while enjoying one of those home cooked meals only a grandma can whip up. They are two of the coolest individuals I have ever met. They have been together since they were teenagers and have the most incredible stories. As I get older the stories become more and more  fascinating. They also are incredibly sage; I call my Grandma often for advice and just to chat. She is a no-mess-around kind of lady and will give it to you straight coupled with the warmest heart and a generous spirit. My Grandpa is simply the kindest person you will ever meet (and the most hilarious). His famous line to anyone who walks through the doors is, “Me Casa es Su Casa“, and he means it. We are beyond thankful for them and treasure each and every second together.

IMG_5338IMG_5770

The next day DJ and I headed off to one of our all-time favorite locations- The Sleeping Bear Dunes. Our family would always make fun of us for how often we would visit the sandy hills during TC family get-togethers. When you experience the Dunes, you will understand why they are such a big deal!

IMG_5461IMG_5505IMG_5508IMG_5626IMG_5551IMG_5480

The two of us just turn into a couple of big kids when you put us in some sand. We could frolic all day in those parts. The sand dunes have a MASSIVE dune that you can go down and climb back up (the one we are playing on above). It takes about five to seven minutes to get down, but it can be anywhere from a thirty-minute to a two-hour hike back up depending on your condition. The dunes extend for what seems like miles, and there are multiple different starting locations you can go to in order to access the park. One year we did the strenuous four mile hike to Lake Michigan. Make sure to take water and a fresh set of legs if you ever do that one ;). DJ and I went to a couple of the side trails we have never been to before and saw a porcupine up in the tree. I’m not sure where I thought porcupines lived, but I did not expect to see one in Michigan.

On our way home we made a very necessary stop in the downtown area for Kilwin’s ice cream. This is at the top of my ice cream shop list. As soon as I am in the TC area, I begin craving the stuff like a Pavlovian dog. They also serve extraordinary truffles, toffee, fudge, candied apples, and many other goodies. I love sampling all the different fudge places on the strip too. DJ always laughs at me because I get grossly excited when I see a fudge store, but never actually buy any fudge. I think I like the concept of the tremendous amounts of flavors, the smell, and the feel of a fudge store more than the actual fudge. But I always try the samples *Guilty face*.

My grandma and grandpa are big on the traditional cocktail hour. As a kid my grandpa would make me Shirley Cocktails with a little cherry. That was the only time I ever had shirley cocktails (at Grandpa’s), so it was an absolute treat. This night we had an earlier reservation, so we skipped cocktail hour (in very Bachelorette-like fashion, all you bachelorette junkies know what I mean). However, when I was getting ready to go Grandpa knocked on my door and brought me a small glass of wine and big hug. He explained he gives Grandma wine to help her get ready. Those simple, special moments are memories I will treasure.

Wednesday night we went to an amazing restaurant called Apache Trout grill. This is a tourist and locals’ favorite in the TC area, and you best make reservations in advance to grab a table! The entire meal was beyond tasty. I am convinced their smoked whitefish dip was sent straight down from heaven. I was obsessed with the stuff and think it should be mandatory that everyone try it once in their lives. You also cannot go wrong with any of the seafood entrees. However, may I suggest the walleye with the caper beurre blanc sauce. I am a bit caper-crazy, so when I saw that the walleye came with them I jumped on board (or jumped ship- pick your pun). It exceeded my expectations!

IMG_5759

The next day it was time to head home. Though, we did dabble in a fantastic lunch at Poppycocks in TC before! DJ and I ran there along the Peninsula and met up with everyone (Uncle Pat, Aunt Terry, G+G). I ordered the falafel waffle. If that is not only fun to say, it was also super fun to eat! We also said our emotional goodbyes, and left with memories that forever will hold a place in our heart.

IMG_5425

Hope you guys find time in your lives to visit this magical place. Thanks for reading!

Wishing you more falafel waffles than you can handle,

xo <3

Mack

Marco Island, FL!

After being home for one restful evening, we took an early flight to Florida! We stayed at our parents’ beach house right on the water. The first night we were there we went grocery shopping for the week. I looooOOOOoove grocery stores. So the opportunity to try a new one just tickled my fancy (yes I am 22, and I use that phrase). We hit up the local Winn Dixie and stocked up on fresh watermelon, veggie burgers, the big “SS” (salad supplies), the other big “SS” (snacky-snacks), red wine for myself, chocolate milk for DJ, and of course our favorite: ice cream. I actually tried a frozen yogurt that I had never seen before and it was ah-may-zing. I wish I had written down the name because they probably have it here in a Cupertino grocery store (cause everything food-wise exists around these parts!). The grocery trip was a bit more expensive than our local Aldi in Marion, IN, trip but at least cheaper than eating out for each meal. We didn’t want to spend a lot eating out in Marco, since we did in both Baltimore and New York, so stocking the fridge with the goods was a good way to make sure that happened.

Early on in dating, we had one of the most serious conversations a couple can have:  One’s favorite type of pizza. It says a lot about a person. For example, the cheese-only lover is either picky or easy-going and most likely prefers vanilla ice cream. Then you have the goat cheese/ sundried tomato/ artichoke heart with a basil crust lover that was probably raised on organic brand gerber baby food and soy milk, but is also adventurous and generally open-minded. But the real pizza connoisseur is the lover of pineapple pizza. They know what’s up when it comes to pizza and are also the life of the party. Obviously these descriptions are slightly absurd, and I am slightly bias, but I think we can all agree that pizza is a big deal. Anyways, back to our big conversation: DJ told me pineapple pizza was his favorite after I went on about how much I loved it. That was it for me. I knew he would be the man I would marry. However, a few months into marriage, he would always request margharita pizzas from the store. I knew he liked them but I kind of thought, “hmm this boy never asks for pineapple”. With all my audacity I asked him if he lied to me on that one pivotal day so long ago. With hestiation (just kidding there was no hesitation) he said “yes”; he explained may have exaggerated a bit in the puppy love stage, but margharita pizzas are truly his favorite. 😐 At this moment I realized our whole marriage, our entire relationship, was built on a lie. A lie, I tell you. I let it slide though because he does still like pineapple, and if that’s the worst lie he has ever told me I guess we are in good shape.

Anyways, our first night in Marco we decided pineapple pizzas just fit the scene. Since I like eating most things in a slightly healthier fashion, I made mine on a flatout flatbread, use reduced sodium marinara, vegan daiya cheese and loaded up that pineapple. The night ended with watching the movie Good Will Hunting for the first time. I cannot believe it took us this long to watch such a fantastic classic.

IMG_6384

The next day was a full-on beach day! Nothing beats just laying in the sun. DJ listened to the Orioles on the radio and I raced through my James Patterson book called Invisible while soaking up the ‘rays. The book was impossible to put down. If you are a reader who likes thrill, mystery, and  don’t mind FBI laden books, this is a great, easy beach book with sharp turns at every corner.

For dinner, we had a second round of pineapple pizzas. I honestly think I could live on the stuff. That night we slept with the kind of deep slumber that only vacation brings with it.

IMG_6498.JPG
IMG_6383.JPG

IMG_6382
We are working on the “keeping eyes open during pictures” thing.

The next morning I ran on the main strip a couple of miles away to meet DJ at the sweetest little diner called Doreen’s cup of Joe at 8 am. I have a hard time sleeping in on vacation (I know, I know- that is what they are for), but I love seizing the day. I also love getting runs in before slamming a huge breakfast. It always tastes so good and satisfying after working up that morning appetite, and it was nice to beat the heat. At this diner they have the most unique and delicious breakfast menu; the minute you step inside it feels like you walked into a pinterest board. We ordered the most darling little cinnamon and powdered sugar donuts. I had swiss chilled oatmeal (which was absolutely to die for) and DJ had their pancakes. I ran back after and we did the exact same thing we did the day before: relaxed.

IMG_6386

IMG_6391

The rest of our days there were about the same. However, there was a scare of a snake trying to hang out in the pool with us. We also walked to the touristy side of the beaches with all the hotels. It was about a 3-mile walk, and we both left with blisters and dehydration. It was still fun wading through the sandbars and cooling off in the ocean. We always have the best conversations on walks too, which was my favorite part of the mini hike.

One night we discovered the exquisite steakhouse Marco Prime for our nice night out we had been planning. It was one of those places that anything you ordered on the menu was guaranteed to be amazing. We started with the grilled spanish octopus and a juicy shrimp cocktail. The octopus was one of the most delectable foods I have ever tried.

IMG_6452IMG_6451

We then ordered sea scallops and DJ had the sea bass. It all surpassed our expectations.

IMG_6453

IMG_6494IMG_6487One of the nights we watched the CAVS dominate in game five with our ice cream and frozen yogurt in hand. The morning of our last full day we arose at the crack of dawn to witness the sunrise from kayaks. We may have been attacked by mosquitoes and forgot the bug spray, but regardless it was an awe-inspiring experience. Nothing can top sitting on such still water in the coolness of the beachy morning, feeling that you are awake before the rest of the world, and sharing it with your favorite person. It is a mix between feeling like you are trespassing in nature, but also as though this moment was beckoning for you the whole time.

IMG_7484IMG_7482IMG_7500

After being beach bums for several days we printed out our boarding passes and headed back for one last stop in Ohio before driving back to Indiana. Then our grand adventure began across the country!

Wishing you lots of perrrrtty sunsets,

xo <3

Mack