Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Costa Rica: Pura Vida

Warning: This post is entirely too long and contains entirely too many pictures.  You have been warned.

A couple of months ago, I began to peruse Groupon to see if we could find a great vacation. I had been leaning toward Costa Rica and we found a great 7 day, 6 night trip for an excellent deal. After a couple of days of checking reviews and wondering if this was too good to be true, we finally bought the Groupon and were so happy we did. We booked through Ecoterra, a company in Costa Rica and would go through them again in a heartbeat.

After a small hiccup with flights (maintenance problems) we arrived in San Jose to spend one night at the Best Western, Irazu. We were so worn out that we napped and woke up to find that it was dark at 6pm. Apparently it is 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night there. We ate a bite at the restaurant in the hotel and slept again, waking up refreshed and ready to go. The next morning, our tour guide for the next few days Javier picked us up to transport us to our next destinatuion-Tortuguero. We rode the bus for a couple of hours which was really interesting because we got to see diferent parts of the country.

We stopped to eat at La Selva Tropical where we got our first taste of Gallopinto, a traditional Costa Rican food, and enjoyed their butterfly garden.

We rode the bus for a couple more hours through the countryside of Costa Rica where we saw banana fields, and plenty of livestock.

These are the banana plants 

We finally arrived at our next destination which was this boat that would take us to our first "resort".  We transferred our luggage to the boat and took an hour long ride down the river.  

We spent two nights at the Laguna Lodge Tortuguero.  It was a very rustic place, with little cabins reminiscent of summer camp.  I loved it! Jeremy, not so much.  I think the lack of air conditioning got to him.  

The next morning after we ate breakfast (all of our meals were included here), we got back in another boat and went on a ride to look for wildlife.  I'm not going to lie, it was one of the highlights of my life.  We saw monkeys, sloths, cayman, and some reptiles.  Our boat driver Primo was amazing.  He stopped the boat frequently because he spotted these amazing creatures without binoculars or anything.  

The sloths were really hard to get pictures of, but they made me squeal anyway. 

Later on, we got to take a boat ride into the little town/village of Tortuguero.  We bought some souvenirs and enjoyed our stroll there. 
This was the best drink I've ever had. 

 This kind man made me a necklace out of a coconut shell.

Once our two nights were up, we boarded the boat and then bus again and were transported to our next destination about four hours away- La Casa Luna in La Fortuna.  

This place was absolutely gorgeous! The weather was a lot cooler than Tortuguero, but it was a lot more foggy.  We tried and tried to get a good picture of the volcano, but never succeeded.  

We went zip-lining while in Arenal and it was unlike anything we have here.  It was so much higher than the zip lining we have done and so much more beautiful.  We got to see waterfalls and the beautiful nature while flying through the trees.  It rained the entire time we were on this excursion, so we were disgusting, but oh so happy! 

After this excursion (which was all included in our Groupon package) we went back to the room, showered quickly and went to grab something to eat.  Later that evening we went on a volcano walk which was very informative! We also went to some hot springs which was not at all what we expected. We thought it was going to be some sort of natural spring, but it was underground pools that were heated to different temperatures.  So nice! I would have loved to stayed there forever! 

Our last day was spent in the town eating, and perusing the shops. 

The next morning, a driver came to pick us up and took us the three hours back to the airport.  We arrived back in the United States in no time and then we proceeded to spend the next 36 hours trying to get home.

We saw a lot of the country and got to experience so many neat things while in Costa Rica.  We never had to worry about anything while there; Ecoterra took such good care of us.  They booked everything from our shuttles to the excursions and we didn't have to worry about a thing. We loved every aspect of our week there, we just wish we had more time! We can't wait to return!  

Saturday, April 19, 2014

25 in 25

I know this might be cliche, because I've seen and heard a lot of people doing this, but I decided to make a list of 25 things I want to do in my 25th year. I want to fill this year with joy and great things, so I decided to be intentional about it. Without any further ado, here is my list.
1. Read 25 good/noteworthy/recommended books
2. Buy crafts and actually make them 
3. Run a race
4. Have something published
5. Promote the blog
6. Host a giveaway
7. NYC for Thanksgiving
8. Actually print out/frame/make books/use my photos
9. Take photos for and send out Christmas cards
10. Small business license to do fundraisers 
11. Actually learn how to use my camera 
12. Buy thoughtful gifts, not just last minute ones
13. But pretty stationary and send snail mail
14. Fix the guest room 
15. Learn to hand-letter
16. De-clutter
17. Finish decorating living room and kitchen  
18. Complete a Whole 30
19. Finish our wedding  quilt
20. Do a devotional w Jer 
21. Actually fill up when I get gas
22. Stay at The Greenbrier 
23. Invite more people up for dinner 
24. Mountain bike more this spring and summer 
25. Learn how to drive a manual transmission 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Owl Birthday Party

I love to plan parties. I have a blast researching and making decorations to match a theme. What I do not like is when I wait until midnight the night before an event to put everything together. My mom asked me to help plan my sister's 13th birthday party at their church. I jumped at the chance to make some owl themed decorations.

My favorite project (which also took the most time) were little owl photo holders. I started off with these wooden owls from Hobby Lobby and little square blocks.

I painted each one green or pink to match the colors we were going with. 
I painted each owl differently with acrylic paint. I apologize, but I cannot for the life of me get these pictures to flip. 
Then, I hot glued them together and glued a paper clip on the back to hold the picture.  Here is one of the finished products.  Word of caution: let the party girl, especially if she's a teenager, pick out the pictures she wants to have displayed. 
I also made some sucker centerpieces that are everywhere on Pinterest.  These doubled as prizes for the kids who won the games.  I bought really small buckets from Hobby Lobby as well as small Styrofoam balls.  Even though these weren't huge, they took over a hundred suckers each, so buy them in bulk.  

I also made some tissue paper owls for the centerpieces.  I freehanded the owls and cut them out of random scrapbook paper I had laying around.  I then made some tissue paper balls and hot-glued the owls to the middle of the paper.  They are just laying in green buckets I bought from the Dollar Tree. 

Here's what the tables looked like. 

I made a little banner for above the gift table. 

The best part of any party is the food.  Mom made a cute candy buffet for the kids to take home at the end, my grandma and mom made two different types of owl cupcakes, and Sam's Club made the cake. 

Mom rigged up a game where they ate doughnuts off of a string and another where they made each other into mummies using toilet paper.  The kids LOVED them!

We also had a photo booth, but they ran out of time to take pictures.  I'll definitely be using the props in the future and will do a separate post on it. 

It was a very successful party and I'll leave you with this gem. Good thing he doesn't read the blog :)