Archive for August, 2011
August 16, 2011
I had been debating back and forth on whether or not to post on the next subject before the wedding, and finally decided it would have to wait until after the big day was over. There were so many special touches Scott and I put into our wedding, it was hard for me not to share them ALL with you before the wedding day, but I’m excited to say that I can finally share it ALL now, post by post!
First on the revealing list: Wedding Hint #8.
What the heck was that thing?!
From day 1, I really wanted to incorporate the Irish heritage into our wedding. Since Scott’s heritage is Irish & Scottish, he was totally on board with this idea. Originally, we wanted to get married around St. Patrick’s Day and have different shades of green and white as our colors, green hydrangeas, Irish food…the whole 9. But, timing for us & a wedding in March was impossible.
Knowing this, we both agreed to incorporate little things here and there that represented both, but mostly the Irish heritage. So I hopped onto the computer and started googling “Irish Wedding traditions” and found several ideas right away.
My DIY Handfasting Cord
My favorite Irish touch at our wedding was the unity ceremony called Handfasting. We really, really wanted a different way to unite our lives during the ceremony than the standard unity candle, or sand ceremony and when I found this I knew it was something we HAD to do.
First, I hopped online to try to find the perfect cord for us…and big surprise, I didn’t find exactly what I wanted so I made my own! It isn’t that difficult to make your own cord…but unfortunately, I threw our cord together literally RIGHT BEFORE the ceremony rehearsal (literally) and didn’t get to document putting it together like I wanted to.
Brides…you’ll see how fast the wedding week you took “off” of work goes and how many last minute projects to truly have! For this reason, I don’t have step-by-step pictures, but what I can tell you is what you would need to make a handfasting cord:
3 cords – 3 different colors
clear duct tape
When I first tried to put a cord together, I started with ribbon only – I picked out 3 different types of each color (pink, green and white) and I planned on braiding those together first to create my own cords. After a few failed attempts, I decided to call that task quits and search for actual colored cords. I found the 3 colored cords pictured at The Sewing Studio in Maitland. You might be able to find similar ones a JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels, but I’m not positive on that one.
Hanfasting cords have to be long enough to wrap around each persons wrist, so you should get anywhere between 4 – 6 feet of cording. Knowing I had crosses at the bottom to hang, I opted for a yard and a half (or 4.5′) and it turned out to be the perfect length.
Next, I put the 3 cords side by side and put a heavy book on top of them so I could braid it together. This was not challenging, but tricky to keep the same look throughout the entire cord…so be sure to see how much length and width you’re giving each part of the braid.
When I finished braiding, I took some clear duct tape and wrapped it around the two edges of the cord. I wanted to add dangling crosses to each side, so this is where I put part of the pink cord I didn’t use through the loops of both crosses, dangled them on each end, and taped extra pink cording to the end of each side.
I got these beauties at Michaels in the beading department and thought they were the perfect addition!
Since taped on dangling crosses doesn’t look the prettiest, this is where the ribbon comes in.
Cut two strips about 4 inches long of your ribbon of choice and wrap one around each tape gathering. I used more clear duct tape to fasten the ribbon on the back of the cord, but ideally if I had more time I would have preferred to have sewn it instead. And, VOILA!
Although, it’s only tied to me.
We knew our guests wouldn’t really understand right away what exactly what we were doing tying ourselves together with this cord, so we decided to explain it in our ceremony program which read:
“An ancient Celtic tradition practiced when a couple could not afford a formal ceremony, or when a priest could not be found, this involves literally tying the couple together by the wrist in a sign of unifying their lives. A couple would traditionally only be bound for one year and a day, sparking the phrase ‘forever and a day,’ although we plan to be bound for life.
They will be wrapped by a cord of three ribbons: a green one representing him, a pink one representing her, and a white one representing Christ. The pastor will form a unity symbol around their wrists with a cord, and then he will tie it in a knot to seal the unity. This is also where the phrase “tie the knot” originated.”
When we explained the idea of Handfasting to our Pastor, he loved what it represented but also saw it as a challenge when it came to tying the thing correctly! Luckily, he practiced on the Groom & a groomsmen before the ceremony, so it went perfectly.
Another Irish tradition I had on the big day was incorporating things into my wedding day attire. It is thought of to be good luck for the bride to wear blue on her wedding day, but I wasn’t too sure about that one…so we added blue a different way – in all of our bouquets! In my bridal bouquet, as well as in all of the bridesmaids bouquets sat 2 blue pins: 1 representing me and 1 representing him, standing together.
|closeup of the pins…but that’s not where they were in the bouquet.|
Next, I found that it is also tradition for and Irish bride to wear her hair in a braid. Since I wanted to wear my hair mostly down, I though this might be somewhat of a challenge. It took me the LONGEST time to decide on a hairstyle…since I kept going back and forth on whether I wanted a flower, a broach, a headband or what…and how to incorporate a braid into it.
With the help of my bridesmaid Lauren & my hairstylist, I decided on using fresh lime green orchids to pull it half up. On that side of my hair that was back, we put 2 finely braided pieces that met in the middle at the flowers. Not many people would probably notice this, but when pictures finally come back I’m sure it will be noticeable at least in a photo or two – and I knew it was there…so it made me happy. Once again, the braids represented 1 for me, 1 for him and the two of us standing together.
Here I am with 2 of my Irish bridesmaids – and…shamrock mints
Last, we wanted to have the Scottish heritage represented as well, so the best way we thought of doing that was having a bagpiper! He was great, and played during our guests arrival to the church ceremony, as well as on their way out to the reception. He was in full Scottish garb, and we got a lot of compliments on him.
Honestly, I didn’t get to see this…because I was at the church earlier than he was supposed to show up – but from what pictures I’ve seen, he looked great! Unfortunately, I don’t have any of my pictures back yet to share ours with you, but you get the idea:
Little by little, I’m starting to learn more about the Irish & Scottish culture and next on my list for of expanding my new heritage is to learn how to cook some of their famous dishes!
I’m sure Scott wouldn’t complain…Shepard’s Pie is one of his favorites and it almost made the appetizers list.
August 14, 2011
It’s safe to say that Scott and I have turned into quite the “documenters” through our wedding planning process. Once the honeymoon rolled around, we didn’t want to miss a beat – although there could have literally been 50 more videos. I’ve said it a gazillion times to anyone who’s asked me about it, but Costa Rica was PERFECT!!!! It was so hard to leave, which is why we took over 500 pictures and over 25 videos.
I’ve been home for the last few days taking care of the Mr. (he recently underwent shoulder surgery), so I’ve finally had some time to finish up my Honeymoons posts & compile a honeymoon video reel to share with all of you. Yesterday, I spent most of my day working on that & Our Honeymoon Album when I wasn’t playing nurse. I’ve actually enjoyed my time at home and would love to be a full-time housewife and mother one day (hint, hint). Back in February, I bought Mr. Hess and I a Valentines present and posted all about it. You can find out what I’m talking about from Our Honeymoon Album post.
I am very happy to say my hard work paid off and the album is officially finished!
To make your own album, you need:
- Honeymoon (or different themed Album)
- 20 pages worth of your favorite pictures
- Double-sided tape (or a glue stick)
I like to do albums in layers. It’s fun for me to add the stickers and sayings to each page, but first I cut out all of the pictures and put them in order to tell the story. Once the pictures are in place, I use the double-sided tape to stick them to the pages. The beauty of using the tape is that you can always change the position of the pictures if you decide to change your mind or want to move things around.
Once the pictures are in place comes the fun part…adding all of the cute stickers, picture borders and sayings. Just try not to use TOO many on one page, or it can start to look cheesy…
Here’s how mine turned out:
|The first cover page for our album.|
And, to wrap up all of this Honeymoon madness…here’s the video I’ve put together. I didn’t get to include the beginning driving adventures, as that video was 5 minutes on its own.
Yeah….we’re big dorks, but entertaining, right?!
Where was YOUR dream honeymoon destination?
What was your favorite excursion or event?
August 12, 2011
|Loved this day on the beach!|
After finally getting to sleep in a little, we grabbed breakfast (I still taste the amazing buffet now…) and hit the road to Tamarindo Beach. We heard from the locals that this was the beach to go surfing at and was supposed to be a fun little town, so we wanted to check it out. Scott really wanted to hit the waves, and I really wanted to hit my magazines on the beach, so it turned out to the perfect little relax day for us.
When we pulled up, I found where I wanted to hang right away and starting basking in the beautiful Costa Rican sun. After about 10 minutes, I was pleasantly surprised by a gift from Scott: coconut water, right from the tree! Later on the drive out, we saw exactly where it came from…talk about a hard line of work – you should have seen how tall these trees were and the strategy this men were using to get them down.
|Our dinning friend, Burrito.|
We then headed in to get ready for dinner and went to the pool bar, where some of the other honeymooners we met were. We got to know some fun couples and shared stories about what to do and where to go on the trip. At dinner, we also met a new furry friend of ours: Burrito. Although he looked like a kitten, we later found out that he was about 4 years old and lives at the resort. Right away when we saw him he stuck around from the beginning until the end of dinner, and (don’t tell anyone) enjoyed some shrimp, scallops and sea bass! It wasn’t long before some of his friends joined him and we ended up having a whole cat clan by the end of dinner….it’s a good thing we’re cat people!
|View from the Hidden Canopy Lobby|
I guess it was time to say goodbye to Guanacaste. It was bittersweet because I wanted to stay at the resort a little longer, but Scott was excited to get to the cloud forest. I’m SO glad we decided to head that way and stay a night in Monteverde because where we stayed turned out to be one of our favorite parts of the whole trip! Before we left, Scott googled places to stay in Costa, and we were looking for somewhere on the way back to San Jose. The cloud forest just so happened to be on the way, but it was DEFINITELY an adventure to get up there!
Remember the driving video on the previous post? Well…picture that x 1,000 – except trade the clouds and the darkness for bumpy, muddy, rainy & uncharted roads up the mountain. EEK! There were a few points of the trip up there where I thought we really weren’t going to make it in our little Lancer. Everyone else had SUVs and 4-wheel drives and there we were….putting up the mountain, barely, and after an hour of it we finally made it to the
|SO COOL! We are literally in a tree house!|
The owner of this place is from California, and then one day had the idea of coming to her favorite spot in Costa Rica and starting her own Bed & Breakfast at the top of the mountains in Monteverde. She came up with the brilliant idea of treehouses, and ever since they have been open (a little over 2 years) there has rarely been a night without patrons in the treehouses, which amazes me! It’s a fantastic stay, but the website doesn’t do the place any sort of justice. We were absolutely WOWed by the owner, Jennifer, her staff, afternoon tea (which is really cocktails and dessert…YUM!), and her hospitality. Already, Scott and I want to book a trip back up there and this time we want to stay more than one night.
|View from the lobby of afternoon tea.|
|Starting the coffee tour. Yup…it was raining & I have shorts on!|
The tree houses are all unique and built differently. We stayed in the “Neverland” suite…which was absolutely beautiful. The best part of all of them is the skylights on the tops, and I swear at 5am when we woke up to see the sunset the next morning I saw an animal. She set up motion detector lights, exactly for this reason…and I saw something moving from tree to tree. How cool! We took some pictures and then it was time for our coffee plantation tour.
We had a great guide who is actually from this part of Costa & he took us to a plantation where they grow, pick, de-shell, grind, sift, make and sell coffee. He went through the entire process with us and even let us partake in the business. We learned so much on this tour, mainly that Americans don’t know how to drink coffee. Apparently, dark roast is the “burnt & leftover coffee”…and that’s what espresso and cappuccinos are made out of. Medium roast is better and light roast is the best of the best – but nearly impossible to get.
Who would ever know that?!
|crushing the coffee beans out of their shells…|
|Then grinding the coffee!|
|Dinner in…and don’t be jealous of the sweatshirt! lol|
When we got back from the tour we had a great time with the owner, Jennifer and the other patrons of the tree houses. The only thing I wasn’t feeling here was the weather. I didn’t get the memo that it gets chilly at night in some parts of Costa, ESPECIALLY at the top of the cloud forest and all I had was bathing suits, sundresses and shorts for the 62 degree weather. Luckily, Jennifer let Scott and I borrow her sweatshirts, (and yes…I would never actually chose to wear Winnie the Pooh on my own…) and embraced them. Our night turned into ordering dinner in, lots of conversation, and sangria with everyone staying there. It was nice to unwind a little bit and feel like we were home.
Since the sun comes up about 5am and sets before 7pm, we missed a lot of the sunrises and sunsets…but we finally caught one and it was beautiful. We were served a great breakfast and then it was time to head out for an animal tour of the forest with another great guide. He new SO much about SO many different animals, we could tell he had been studying them for quite a while. We headed towards the nature walk and on the way we stopped to see a 3-toed sloth! It was sleeping (of course), but it was still cool to see.
When we arrived to the forest we were excited to see some more monkeys! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see them in this tour…but we did get to see TONS of different animals including bell birds, toucans, tarantulas, coatis, and more! I loved exploring all of the animals with Scott, since we are both huge animal lovers and the scenery was UNREAL. It was a great experience.
|Caught the sunrise! So proud we were awake for it…|
|Kind of the Cloud Forest|
|Coati. They are so cute!|
|We couldn’t believe how close we got to them!|
When the tour was over, we went back to our tree house and packed up to head back to San Jose. We were sad to leave the cloud forest, but stopped by a great little Argentian restaurant on the way out. They had the best iced tea and lemonades EVER – like half slurpee, topped with foam. And don’t even get me started on their hot chocolate!! Everything was so good and we topped our meal off with some delicious homemade chocolate. YUM!!!
|SO much chocolate, we bought a lot!|
After a few detours (well, us jamming out to music and not hearing the GPS) we finally got to our hotel next to the airport in San Jose. We decided to stay in the ever so understand Hampton Inn, since we splurged on the tree house and decided to go out for a nice dinner on our last night. Our cocierge recommended this great place on the top of a mountain called “The View” and man….was their one!
We missed sunset, but it was still beautiful and it was so crazy because by the end of the dinner, all of the lights disappeared. The clouds had moved up the mountain and once again we were faced by driving home in the clouds….big surprise! Oh well, the food was “okay,” but I enjoyed our last night out in Costa with my new husband.
|Our last dinner in Costa.|
|It was so hard to get this pic…but in real life, this was AMAZING!|
Day 6 was unfortunately the last morning in Costa. We woke up for breakfast and headed out to the airport. There were a few delays, but that was okay with us because we didn’t really want to come home! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Costa Rica was one of the COOLEST places I have ever been and it couldn’t have been a better pick for our honeymoon. There was relaxation for me and adventure for the Mr. and there was always somewhere to go, something to see, or something to do. We have already talked about coming back and we think it would also be fun to come with a group of people and share all of what we learned with them. My brother and brother-in-law frequent Costa almost every year to go surfing…and now I see why! It was ABSOLUTELY STUNNING.
|We didn’t want to leave!|
Well, I guess that wraps things up. There’s our honeymoon for you…absolute paradise. It was just what we needed after a crazy year of wedding planning. I’m really excited about putting together Our Honeymoon Album, I mentioned in an earlier post around Valentines Day and got the pictures printed out for it today. But, whether there are pictures, videos, an album or not…we will have memories to last a lifetime and I am now so excited to start our new lives together.
August 8, 2011
What a blur! Everyone says it, but within the blink of an eye, Scott and I got engaged, planned a wedding went on a honeymoon and are now starting our lives together as husband and wife.
For a solid year, we have been planning our dream wedding and spent endless hours, days and time on the wedding. We knew by the time the Honeymoon finally got here we would be more than ready to get away! Get away doesn’t even begin to describe this trip to Costa Rica…what went from a gamble of turning in a trip we already had to use turned into the trip of a lifetime both of us will always remember!
I tried really hard to condense our Honeymoon into one post, but it was pretty much impossible. I came home with 550 photos, over 10 videos & stories to fill up an entire month worth of posts. After driving myself nuts about it, I decided to do as many posts as I need to share everything I want to…starting with the first few days we spent there.
It was time to head out for our honeymoon! It was dark and early, but nothing could stop us from getting to paradise…except for flight delays. Once we got to the gate, we spent an extra hour or so hanging out waiting to board the plane. We had a little bit of a layover in Miami, but used that time to start the celebrations with a few beverages and Pizza Hut – there wasn’t much else around to grab, but it was actually pretty good for our last American meal.
Ready to get there already, Scott and I board the plane again and were pleased to see we were sitting next to an American who now lives in Costa. He gave us tons of advice and tips to use once we got to the country. When people would hear we were going to Costa Rica, we both kept hearing “watchout…it can be dangerous,” so we were both a little nervous…especially since we decided to rent a car and drive ourselves across the country to get to Guanacaste.
When we landed in San Jose, we were SUPER excited to get our rental car and hit the road. Our excitement got overtaken by that nervous feeling when we couldn’t find our rental car company at the airport. Little did we know, this so called “deal of a rental car company” was about 30 minutes from the airport, and turned out to be wayyyy more than we bargained for. When we got there, apparently there was a shuttle that could have taken us there, but beyond that – they wanted $1,000 deposit on top of the already required insurance to rent the car….REALLY?! $1,000! That seems a bit extreme if you ask me. To make a long story short, we finally negotiated with the guy and left the rental car place with our ride for the next week – a silver, beauty (and come to find out practical) silver Mitsubishi Lancer equipped with a GPS and 2 excited honeymooners!
Shortly after we got the car, we stopped by a grocery store to get some snacks and headed towards our destination in Guanacaste. We were told the drive was about 4 hours, the GPS told us it would take about 3 hours and in real time we finally made it to the hotel in about 5. Driving in Costa Rica is INSANE!!!!! Not only do street names and addresses not really “exist”…but people pull out of nowhere, stop at stop signs when it’s convenient and come within 2 inches to the car next to them!
If Scott was not an amazing driver (really…I’ve come to find out he should ALWAYS be driving anytime we are together), but can handle driving anywhere. In no way shape or form would I ever attempt to rent a car and drive myself in Costa Rica, but I had great faith in my man to get us from point A to B safely. We turned out to be little explorers and ventured out a lot on our trip.
But, the adventures in Costa Rica truly began on the road from San Jose to Guanacaste. Just to give you a little bit of an idea of what I’m talking about, I’ve put together a video montage of the 5 hour driving trip of what we experienced. Believe me, it could have been a lot longer, but here are some highlights on the road:
After a lot of laughing, praying and hoping we finally arrived to the beautiful Villa Sol Resort in Guanacaste. There was definitely a point in the trip where we didn’t think the place existed and that this was all a huge scam, but thank the sweet Lord that was not the case. The resort was GORGEOUS!!! After we checked in to a villa (or more of a standard room) we grabbed some dinner and got some rest to wake up early and hit the beach the next day.
|Balcony Room Upgrade!|
AH! It was SO nice to wake up with my husband to an exciting world and a breathtaking view of the mountains and shores of Playa Hermosa. As we got ready and headed to grab breakfast we took in the view and were both amazed at how lucky we were to have stumbled upon an affordable voucher to paradise. We headed to breakfast and I can testify that the food they provided at the hotel was great!!! Rice, beans and plaintains were now expected at every meal from here on out and it seemed to get better with each day.
When our bellies were full we headed back to the room to get ready to go to the pool and got a phone call. We had a minor issue with the A/C the night before, politely told the front desk about it and mentioned that it was our Honeymoon & BAM we got an Oceanview upgrade!!! WOOHOO! Great way to start the trip! So we packed up our stuff, switched rooms and then hit the pool. On this side of the hotel we finally found the REAL pool party. The pool on the hotel side was equiped with a DJ, a wet bar and all the free nachos, hot dogs, and pizza you can eat: AKA MY complete heaven! We spent an hour or so enjoying the views and shade under the tiki grass and then headed over to the beach.
Playa Hermosa was just one of the beautiful beaches in the area we were staying. We spent the rest of the day exploring the beach and found some pretty amazing views. I found an area on it’s own with beach loungers and parked my happy booty there while Scott explored the rocks and cliffs. After a little while I went to see what he was doing and found him climbing the biggest part to get to the top – big surprise, lol. All I could do was keep yelling “don’t fall…I don’t want to burry my husband yet” to him, and eventually he safely came down. What did I get myself into?! You can see him sitting at the top of the huge rock in the picture to the right, if you look hard enough…
|Yup, there he is!|
|Sunset from our balcony room, so pretty.|
After the beach, we cleaned up and got a couples massage. Talk about wishing you were somewhere else right now – I will now picture this moment…I finally let all of my worries and stresses go and just RELAXED. With both of us at complete contentment, we got ready for dinner and enjoyed turning in our “nice dinner” voucher the first night. It was time to celebrate that we’re here! Our waiter was so nice and kept calling me Mrs., which I loved. Oh, and the food was realllly good too!
|Our first night out for dinner.|
When we arrived to the camp we saw people getting geared up to zipline and I was SO excited! First on the list of things to do was horseback riding. I have to say I was a little nervous about this one…I have horsebacked plenty of times, but you just never know what horseback riding will be like in different countries up and down hills and cliffs, and who knows where else. I had a bad experience once where my horse went nuts and kept running me into branches while it was raining, and anyways…I think I’m finally starting to get past that fear to trust horses.
We got saddled up and right away, my horse took the lead. It was funny because our guide for this part kept towards the end and I was just counting on my horse to know which way to go. Luckily…Dorita knew exactly where she was going and led us to a beautiful waterfall. Right away, Scott jumped in and did a back flip into the water – big surprise again…right?! lol. It was absolutely beautiful and I really enjoyed this horsebacking experience.
|Excited to catch some air!|
Next up was ziplining, repelling, swinging like tarzan on a rope and rock climbing. I was probably most excited about this part and couldn’t wait to start. After we got geared up, we headed up to the top of a huge staircase and began the adventure to the hidden canopy caves. At first, I thought it was going to just be 2 short ziplines, but they just kept on going from checkpoint to checkpoint. We finally landed inside the canyon and found the line for repelling. I was SUPER excited for this part – I have done it once before in my life and it was amazing then. This drop was not as extreme, but it was still fun.
Next up was the tarzan swing. It didn’t seem like it was going to be that fun…but it WAS!!! Just the thought of swinging in a cavern under land, while over a river back and forth was awesome. I did traditional swinging while Scott opted for the upside down Spiderman pose. FUN! Last on the list here was rock climbing. By this point of the excursion I was getting pretty tired and was out of breath, but I was determined to beat Scott to the top so I pushed through as quick as I could. Even though I got a pretty big head start, I was proud of myself for getting to the top before him.
|Not the actual tubing river…THAT was much more intense!|
Tubing was next and what they didn’t tell us about it was this was more like white river rafting tubing. I thought ziplining would be the craziest part of the day, but boyyyyyy was I wrong! We didn’t bring the camera for this part, but I wish we could have because it was nuts!
People (including myself) were falling out of their tubes and the adventure required a helmet and a sense of knowing when to lean where and how to avoid killing yourself….really. I can honestly say I wasn’t sure if everyone was going to make it out of this one. I consider myself to be pretty athletic and I was having a hard time staying on my tube.
By the end of the tubing adventure, Scott had literally saved someone from falling and getting run over by other tubers twice. It was all worth it though at the end where there was a waterfall and it started to rain down on us. That was probably one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. I wish I had pictures or video to share the craziness that tubing required, but let’s just say this put Wet ‘n Wild to shame. SO FUN!
|Painting mud on each other was definitely a highlight!|
Last on the day’s plan was vising the Hot Springs. I was looking forward to this part of the day because to me it sounded like a big hot tub! When we pulled into the springs, there was about a half mile hike through the woods to get there and I was excited to decompress and get a mud bath!!! The hot springs are basically water holes made up of natural thermal water coming from a volcano. There are several different water temperatures that make up different pools and we were determined to try them all! Before soaking, we both got to experience our first mud baths by getting painted by volcanic mud. It felt like a blanket of warmth after the cold tubing river. The day just kept getting better!
After letting ourselves dry for about 5 minutes we hopped into the middle heated pool and just enjoyed the experience. Here we were in the middle of the rain forest, soaking in a thermal springs mud bath. How crazy is that?!?!? We both loved it SO much that we went back to the mud painting station and re-painted each other to do it again. Laugh if you want, but we both came out of there with amazingly soft skin!
I guess mud baths really do work…
Days 1 & 2 on our Honeymoon:
And that was just the first 2 days we were there!!!! You can see now why there’s no way I could fit everything into one post. Costa Rica was hands down one of the coolest, most breathtaking, adventurous and most relaxing places I have ever been to.
Stay tuned for the next few days of adventure as I post about the following days heading to Tamarindo Beach, going up to the cloud forest of Monteverde and driving back to San Jose!