European Honeymoon Part 1...Dublin!

So, some time has passed since I have posted anything because I knew what an undertaking my next few posts would be, so I procrastinated a bit. So, grab a snack and get cozy because I am taking you on a picture collage whirlwind tour of our honeymoon to Europe! We found cheap tickets to London last August when we had only been engaged a few weeks. We spontaneously bought them, hoping to use wedding cash/tax refunds to help pay for the rest and it worked out just great! We went to London, Dublin, and Paris and to say it was fun would be an understatement. After we flew into London on March 30th and stayed a couple nights, we were off to Dublin and a couple surrounding towns.

Ireland is a magical land of rolling emerald hills,  old castles and churches, lakes, rainbows, and leprechauns. Seriously. 

The top left, middle right, and bottom left are all pictures of our side trip to tiny Glendalough (pronounced Glenda-lock, meaning "land of the two lakes" in Gaelic). It's also known as "Braveheart" because a lot of that movie was shot in the area. It was pouring rain and it was, of course, the one day I forgot my umbrella.  So, we bought a touristy one and tromped around the awesomely old monastery ruins in the mud. It was just like the Ireland I had always imagined (although I didn't imagine being quite that wet and cold) with greener-than-green grass as far as the eye can see. On our way back from Glendalough we saw that perfect rainbow (bottom middle picture above). Seeing a rainbow in Ireland seemed like 10 times cooler than seeing one in Orem. I half expected to see a leprechaun with a pot o' gold! Speaking of leprechauns, see that little (ok, large) leprechaun in the bottom right picture up there? That delightful character was trying to get business for one of the pubs in the touristy Temple Bar neighborhood of Dublin. I was so excited to see him because what's a trip to Ireland without a ginormous leprechaun? 

The top right, middle left, and middle center pictures above are of a castle and church (with awesome red doors!) in a small town called Kilkenny, which we stopped at on the way back from Glendalough. First I should mention that our drive into and out of Glendalough looked like this:

What the...?! Snow?! I guess we were pretty high in the mountains (the Wicklow Mountains, to be exact), but still! Our fantastic guide said that snow is very rare in Ireland and that spring is usually here by the beginning of April. Obviously, spring was running late. Ah well, it definitely made the drive more exciting! 

When we arrived in Kilkenny, I thought I would die from how cute it was! Exhibit A:

Funny thing is, it was Good Friday and a lot of things were closed, including the awesome castle. But that didn't stop us from taking billions of pictures outside (see Crazy Tourist Karina in bottom left picture above, as well as in almost every picture below). As you can see, we totally bought and rocked the Euro scarves as soon as we got to Dublin and realized it was a necessity.

We basically LOVED Kilkenny, even with some places being closed. Subway was open, though, so we ate there. In case you were wondering, it was just like Subways in America, stale bread and all.

Soon, we were back safely in Dublin. It is a city that is bustling and laid-back at the same time. Our favorite thing about Dublin (and Ireland in general) was the people. Everyone we talked to was genuinely friendly. Both times we asked someone a question in the National Library of Ireland, we ended up talking to the person for at least a half hour. Irish people love to chat and joke around. One guy thought Alan looked like he was a "Viking" and "would have put money" on me being Swedish. Everyone was so fun to talk to and really willing to help us out, even though we were tourists (I'll get to Paris in the next post, ahem!). Plus, their accents are awesome! It's true that th=t (i.e., thanks=tanks, think=tink), which we never got tired of listening to!

We got to visit the most beautiful parks including my favorite, Iveagh Gardens (top row of pictures below—we even met a playful Irish kitty!), St. Stephen's Green (middle row—recognize that bridge in the middle picture from Leap Year? Ladies? Anyone?), and Merrion Square (bottom row—where we met an Oscar Wilde statue with some sass). As you can see, Alan made some awesome faces/poses ;).

Another thing that we love love LOVED about Dublin (ok, those are obviously my words, not Alan's) is the architecture. There are fantastic fan lights on every street, charming buildings from a century ago, and brightly colored doors on townhouses lining every street! Not to mention the many straight-out-of-a-movie pubs. We walked from our adorable bed and breakfast to the city center every day and I was amazed every time by everything we saw along the way. One of our favorite experiences was going to The Auld Dubliner pub. As you would imagine, we were the only ones not partaking of Ireland's many famous beers and ales, but boy did we have a great time! We got the hearty three-course meal; Alan got the fish and chips and I got the delicious Guinness stew (hey, it's the only Guinness I can try since the alcohol cooks out!). There was a live band playing traditional Irish music which made the whole experience seem so unreal because everything just felt so...Irish! We didn't want to leave, that's for sure. So, we are living proof that Mormons can have fun in the land known most for it's pubs and alcoholic drinks!

The top right picture above is the original (older) part of Dublin Castle which now houses the Chester Beatty Library, where we saw a few of the oldest Biblical pages in existence. I also loved the maze in the grass! The top right picture is the newer part of Dublin Castle which was interesting to see how different the architecture is. The bottom left picture is the famous St. Patrick's Cathedral (surprise, it started raining again). St. Patrick was an incredible guy. Look him up and you'll see that he definitely deserves a holiday! The bottom middle picture is the River Liffey that runs through Dublin, adding awesome to the city. 

Another awesome place we visited was the Archaeological Museum, which was ten times more interesting than we thought it would be. Turns out Ireland's bogs preserve bodies really well. They had like five cases of creeps like this guy:

(shudder) Look at his perfectly preserved hair and creepy half body! I was so oddly fascinated with these preserved humans that I couldn't stop looking. Alan was starting to get worried. Who knew Ireland had a wealth of really realllllly old stuff (and creepy people)? 

We also stopped by Trinity College and wandered the grounds. The mysterious Book of Kells is there, but we decided we didn't care 10 Euros worth to see it.

All in all, we fell in love with Dublin. It was Alan's favorite place and it is a serious contender with London on my list of far away places I would love to live. Great people, great sights, great food (blood sausage, anyone?), great shopping, great place for us to be together! Our feet were so sore at the end of every day exploring Dublin, but to me that just means we were having lots of fun!

Next stop: Paris!


Mini Honeymoon...Vegas Baby!

I'm still playing catch-up on this blog but eventually I will get to present day! We refer to this as our "mini honeymoon" because it was only 3 days long because I had to get back to my little kindergarten darlings. Alan and I stayed at the Hotel Mar Monte where our reception was and it was so nice to not have to drive anywhere! It was right on the beach and we ordered room service for breakfast and ate it on the balcony with the incredible view. Plus, they never charged us for the room!

We, of course, took a little walk on the beach (and cue cheesy 80's music: "take my breath awaaaay..."). Then Alan wrangled the gorgeous hugeness that is my dress into the bag and soon we were on the road to Vegas!

We stayed at the Monte Carlo which was so fun! We used my credit card points to get the room so we figured we could pay a little extra to get the bigger room, hence Alan lounging around on the couch like he owns the place. We went to explore the casino downstairs and promptly lost $20 on Wheel of Fortune ("Alan, I swear my mom won like $800 on this!"), but it was still fun.

Of course we had to watch the water show in front of Bellagio! Then we wandered around inside and found this super fancy candy shop with an insane chocolate fountain thingy.We ate some delicious and tantalizing ice cream and were apparently so mesmerized by the flavor that we took no pictures.

We wandered down the Strip for awhile, just taking it all in. Vegas indeed has shady aspects (just avoid eye contact with the creepy people passing out wildly inappropriate flyers!), but the bright lights and "cha-ching!" sounds everywhere are fun--you can't deny it! Our favorite hotel was the Venetian (center picture). I loved the canals and chic shops everywhere. Not to mention the Venetian is where you can experience...

Dun dun duh duh dun! The incredible, mesmerizing, fantastic, dramatic, AMAZING Phantom of the Opera! I had been wanting to see this and I knew it was one of the few musicals Alan would enjoy (let's just say he's not exactly known to sing along with me to the many musical soundtracks I own; but, what female OR male can resist the dark mystery of THIS show?).  I have known the songs from this musical since birth, considering my dad sang "Music of the Night" daily in the car. Needless to say, Alan and I both LOVED it. The costumes and set were incredible. The chandelier even reassembled itself and the Phantom swung around on it, being his epic self (Alan would like to point out that we saw the Phantom sneaking up there). Andrew Lloyd Webber and Vegas cast, bravo!

You may wonder why I look less than excited in the picture on the right. Well that would be because our second and last day in Vegas I got food poisoning. From a McDonald's Sausage McMuffin. I was really sick, achy, weak, and nauseous ALL that day and night. Let's just say I got very acquainted with the locations of the bathrooms in various hotels and casinos around Vegas. And we had to sit on every bench and chair we saw because I couldn't walk for more than 5 minutes without feeling too weak or nauseous. What a great new wife I was! Alan was so sweet and understanding, of course. I was determined to have a good time still and I did! I still loved Phantom, even though I was exhausted, so that should tell you how great it was. 

All in all, our "mini honeymoon" was awesome! We'll definitely go back to Sin City soon ;). Soon I will post our "real honeymoon" pictures in 3 installments: Dublin, Paris, and London. Here's to many more adventures to come!


Our perfect day

I know this is about 5 months delayed, but it's the perfect way to start this blog! These are a few of my favorite pictures from our wedding day. Click here for lots more of our favorites!

I could go on for pages about how perfect January 2, 2010 was, but that might only be exciting for Alan and me. Maybe just me. Since most the people reading this blog were most likely there or have heard about it, I will just give our favorite moments from our day.

--The sealing ceremony. It was an incredible and completely indescribable experience. To have so many close family and friends there was such a blessing for us. I knew there was a reason we waited so long to get married! We had to wait until everyone else got married so they could be there.

--Alan would like to mention that one of his favorite moments was seeing me in my dress for the first time after the sealing, before we walked out of the temple together (awww!). He said, "Wow! You look amazing!" (amazed pause) "I didn't know there could be dresses like that!" Well done. Well done.

--The 3-hour (well, longer than that because of traffic) drive from the San Diego Temple to the reception at the beachside Hotel Mar Monte in Santa Barbara. It was so nice to be alone with my new husband after all the fun and crazy picture taking at the temple (by the amazing Tonya Joy Photography). I loved being able to talk to each other about the wonderful sealing we just had. Our sealing. It was all so unreal. P.S. We stopped at Taco Bell and I fashioned a crazy napkin bib for Alan to wear over his tux. Can you imagine mild sauce on his spotless white tie and vest? I changed out of my dress at the temple, of course. Riding in the car for over 3 hours in a corset? I don't think so.

--Stopping and taking pictures at the Ventura pier. Tonya brilliantly suggested that we stop at the Ventura pier because we might not have enough daylight to take pictures across from the Hotel Mar Monte, which was the original plan. We are so glad she did! It was so fun to walk along the beach and laugh together while Tonya and Gena worked their magic. There was the most perfect, golden, buttery lighting and we love every one of those pictures. We were so lucky to have Tonya and Gena there to share their talent and capture our memories for us. I also love that there were random people at the beach taking pictures of us!

--Walking into our reception. It was probably the only time in our lives when almost all the people who are important to us were in the same room. And they all came to celebrate us. I just felt so blessed all day because I couldn't believe all these people would do all this for us. My incredibly talented friend, Heidi Jimenez of Zenadia Design, did so much work to make our wedding full of style (including doing those gorgeous invitations by hand). The crystals, the cake, the centerpieces, the pictures on the wall, the candy! Everything was perfect! I know it sounds dramatic, but it was my dream reception and I felt like the luckiest princess in the world!

--Eating the delicious dinner at our own little "sweetheart table" (this is a favorite moment that Alan reminded me of). We did the sweetheart table because most of the people in the wedding party had families of their own and we didn't want to force them to sit with us instead of their families. It turned out to be awesome because we could still talk to people at tables next to us, but we had a chance to be alone a little and talk to each other and enjoy the amazing food together (wasn't that ranch dressing delectable?). And it made us feel like the queen and king because the chairs were so grand-looking. I would also like to mention that Alan pulled my chair out for me every time I sat down. He earned lots of points the first day of our married life!

--Dancing with my dad to Thank Heaven for Little Girls, which made my mom and all her sisters cry (sorry!). She used to sing it with her dad and I was glad my grandpa was remembered on mine and Alan's special day.

--Ryan's touching toast: "I'm just turning the house sound back on." Seriously though, he was an awesome DJ!

--Matt's joke of the day: "Getting married was the best decision I ever made. . . because it was the last decision I ever made!" Ba da ch! He was an awesome emcee. And apparently Ben was the unofficial videographer. I was all about assigning jobs to my brothers.

--Not having to drive anywhere at the end of a very long day. The Mar Monte Hotel is awesome. Enough said.

--Our last favorite moment sort of was all day long. Hugging, laughing with, celebrating with, dancing with, and talking with all our favorite people! They all made us who we are today and our wedding day wouldn't have been the same without them. Alan's family even came all the way from Cincinnati to be there, which meant so much to us.

Ok, so this turned out to be pretty long. Pretty much the entire day was our favorite! At the risk of sounding cheesy yet again, I am so lucky to be married to my best friend and I really love him more every day. Even if he leaves his clothes on the floor. And he loves me even though I love shopping a little too much. 

P.S. I promise the next posts will not be as cheesy or long! 


Test post

I was trying to see if my cute post titles and sidebar titles would work and they did! I will post a real post when it isn't 1 in the morning...a wedding post perhaps! Yes, it's been 5 months, but we didn't have a blog then, did we? 

P.S. how amazing was our cake?