How To Throw A French Garden Party

okay let’s talk details.

going into this, i knew i wanted to keep the budget low and make as much decor as i could over buying things. i also knew i had to incorporate over sized paper flowers somehow because they had been on my mind for months. i started with the paper flowers and took off with decor from there.

can i just say that paper flowers are a lot harder to make than they look. well maybe not incredibly hard but they are time intensive. the hardest part is definitely figuring out what to use for the stem (b and i discussed possible options many nights before falling asleep). i searched for hours trying to find the best over sized paper flower tutorial. i went back and forth but decided i liked designsponge’s tutorial best. the shape of her flowers were very peony-esque and anything peony is a winner in my book.
the only downfall with her tutorial was the stem. the money to buy cement and wire didn’t seem worth it (not to mention the extra tissue paper and time). i didn’t know what i would do with the flowers after and having so many large flowers didn’t seem practical. i also couldn’t fit the recommended wire in my car (due to length) so there was that, which probably pushed me over the edge to find another way.
i studied the house that lars built‘s flowers for a while and couldn’t figure out for the life of me what her stems are made out of! if anyone knows, please enlighten me! i even brought a picture to home depot but the employees had never seen anything like it. i think it may be some type of pipe.

i threw in the towel. there had to be an easier way!
and there is. it may not be as dramatic looking but picking up bamboo sticks from home depot did the job. i wanted to add some leaves to the bamboo as shown in designsponge’s tutorial but the flowers themselves took me more time than i thought.
overall, i was super happy with the outcome. just wish the wind would have cooperated a bit more.

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i bought the tissue paper via papermart . this vendor was recommended by oh happy day and ended up being a lot cheaper than buying in any party store.

now with the superstar out of the way, i moved on to the centerpieces. i knew i wanted simple greenery to make the flowers stay the stand out. i found this tutorial of how to make a lemon leaf garland on pinterest and knew it was the perfect addition considering i have a lemon and orange tree in my backyard.
i was thinking of adding some flowers to the garland but did not like the options i found at trader joe’s that weekend. next time!

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next up, food!
the food is why i call it a french garden party. we feasted on chicken salad croissants (great chicken salad pre made at costco), berry salad, baguettes and short bread cookies that resembled pastries. the food came together easy and can be made in advance so you are not stressing the day of.
and the short bread cookies? you can thank tj’s for those. i picked up a variety of fruit and chocolate fillings. they were a hit.

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don’t skimp on the drinks. although we did offer water with grapefruit garnish, i wanted there to be a bit more variety so i picked up 4 different flavors of french lemonade from tj’s (trader joe’s).
tj’s sparkling lemonade with muddled raspberries was the perfect thirst quencher in the heat. oh and please don’t forget drink stirrers!

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the cake was critical. i had been dreaming up a naked cake for this event for months. it just screams garden party — the light filling with fresh flowers. am i right?

however, i must confess.
the cake scared me and so i asked a friend if she wouldn’t mind taking charge.
i provided her this recipe and she just went to town. i am so so grateful for her because it really livened up the buffet table. not to mention it tasted even better than it looked. can you believe that?

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but you know what was the biggest factor to making this event a success? those party rentals.i can’t praise williams party rentals enough for their top notch products and incredibly helpful staff. williams party rentals even makes the clean up a breeze by providing a dry cleaning bag for the linens and encouraging you to just wipe the food off the plates. no need to wash every dish your self! oh williams party rentals, you are the bees knees.

 

 

all rentals were donated by william’s party rentals.
all thoughts, all opinions are my own.
i actually sought them out for a collaboration since they are my favorite party rental store in the bay area!

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French Garden Party

okay so now that you have read my dreams for the event, let me take you to the reality…

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my french garden party to celebrate a dear friend turned out heavenly (of course there are always a few hiccups but once you get past those it is all forgotten).  and one of the key factors that tied it all together was using william’s party rentals. william’s party rentals has top notch service as well as a great variety of products to choose from. i was drooling over those gold chairs and wouldn’t mind having a set of those in my garage!  also those plates and gold utensils? seriously, i was in heaven.

william’s party rentals takes any event to the next level seamlessly.

can you believe how lucky i am to have such a wonderful garden to throw soirees? b and i really lucked out in renting this house. i will definitely need to take advantage of it this summer because there is no other place i would rather be.

i promise to get into the nitty gritty details of the food, decor and bar cart tomorrow.
today, is all about the eye candy.

 

 

all rentals were donated by william’s party rentals.
all thoughts, all opinions are my own.
i actually sought them out for a collaboration since they are my favorite party rental store in the bay area!

one of my biggest joys in life is creating events that bring people together and make lasting memories. i love the preparation details just as much as the day of festivities. i love letting my imagination run wild as i decide on a theme. i love the feeling i get after the end of an event. it is a high for me. is that weird? i do not understand a runner’s high but a party planning high? oh i get it!

with the seasons changing and the warm weather happening more frequently, i thought it was the perfect time to put together an event in my backyard. as i thought about what kind of backyard event i wanted, all that kept coming back to me is flowers. lots of flowers and greenery. thus the french garden party was born.

i may get a little crazy when it comes to events. i want everything perfect and a little over the top but in the best possible way. in order to centralize my thinking and keep my mind from wandering, i always put together a mood board of how i want the event to look / feel. i think it is the best first step when throwing any type of gathering.

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i wanted bright colors, flowers, naked cakes, gold accents and a white base. i wanted the works.

be sure to check back tomorrow for a peak at the end result!

you know those weekends you never want to see end?
okay, let’s be honest that is probably every weekend
but this weekend was even harder to see come to a close.
it was b’s birthday weekend.

april 26 will forever be my favorite day of the year because i get to celebrate my love.
i get giddy just thinking about how much i love b and how grateful i am he was born.
so in order to do his big day justice, we of course had to celebrate all weekend long.

friday evening we checked out a local mexican restaurant – tia juana. neither of us was floored by tia juana but it had fairly good mexican food and free chips and salsa. i have had my eye on this place for a while so at least i can now check it off my food bucket list!
we then spent the night in watching survivor. any one else a survivor fan? b and i usually get really into it but this season i am so disgusted with a lot of the contestants. frankly i am not rooting for anyone (was rooting for joe but now he is off).

saturday morning i snuck out of bed to get b his favorite breakfast – sausage mcmuffin, hashbrown and chocolate chocolate donuts.
confession. i ate three donuts for breakfast that morning. maple leaf’s donuts are too good to pass up.
side note… i have been on this diet where i cut out carbs, dairy and processed sugar throughout the week and then eat whatever i want on the weekends. i just felt like all i was eating at work was dairy and carbs and this seemed like a great way to get back on track.
all i could think of when i saw these heavenly donuts was “it’s the freakin weekend. baby i am about to have me some carbs.”
r. kelly anyone? HA

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following our lazy morning with breakfast in bed, i headed to the city since it was one of my dear friend’s birthday as well. we ended up celebrating with lunch at rotunda. rotunda is stunning and the ambiance is so classy. i would love to return for tea time!

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and i don’t think b missed me too much while i was gone considering he treated himself to a massage.

b’s celebration continued with dinner at los altos grill.
this place was happening! i strongly recommend making reservations as there were many people waiting and hovering over the bar seats. we had a reservation and still waited about 10 minutes! it is a lovely bbq esque style restaurant with juicy rotisserie chickens, delectable bbq salmon, potato salad inspired deviled eggs and sweet banana creme pie.
the only thing that turned me off was they charged us for a dessert even though we mentioned it was b’s birthday. not a huge deal though.

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waiting time = selfie time ;)

b prefers very mellow weekends so that is what i was hoping to give him. i promised him i would not throw a party for him this year even though it took me all my will power not to.
the mellowness continued with german pancakes on sunday morning, church and a hike at gray whale cove (located between pacifica and half moon bay).
i strongly recommend this hike! it is about 2 miles round trip (quick) but every step of the way gets prettier and prettier. we were lucky to go on a clear day so the views were unreal.

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the weekend ended with a sunday feast and homemade chocolate cake. smitten kitchen recipes are always winners.

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b was making fun of me the other day for never really wheeling / using our bar car to serve him so i decided to bring the cake to him and make him eat his words.

how was your weekend?

Guide to Phi Phi (Part Two)

now that we have the activity portion of phi phi covered, let’s move on to food and lodging!

Guide to Phi Phi, Thailand (2)

TO STAY

there are many hotels and hostels available on phi phi but i really think we lucked out with the hotel we chose — pp palm tree. it is in the hub bub of the island “city” but we never heard any noise and it made it convenient to explore. we were provided with complimentary beach towels for the pool / beach, in room air conditioning (thank the heavens. not sure how people survive with just a fan), breakfast served daily and a hot shower (it’s the little things when you are away from home you know). pricing was fairly reasonable for the island but i will say phi phi was the most expensive place to stay of the three cities.

below is a view from our patio. it was the perfect island escape.

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TO EAT

A lot of the restaurants are fairly similar — meaning a mix of thai and western food. i swear three of the restaurants we ate at were probably indistinguishable from each other so let’s just keep to the best of the best.

le grand bleu – we ate here on our last night on the island and i am so glad we saved the best for last. b’s scuba instructor actually recommended it to us. after living there for many months, he had decided it was the best food on the island and i would have to agree. it is a mix of thai and french food. we ordered a couple appetizers along with our entrees and each dish was delicious so i am sure you can’t go wrong. i especially loved the duck dish (on the french portion of the menu) and yellow curry (thai portion of the menu). le grand bleu is a complete step above the other restaurants available.
it is located fairly close to the dock where the ferries arrive / depart.

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anna’s restaurant - tucked away from the main road, this place is also a gem. again, it is another mix of thai and western food. i heard or read somewhere that the owner of the restaurant (a european man) married a thai woman and so that is why the mix of western and thai is so authentic. i did ask our waitress if anna was around so i could meet her but sadly, she was killed in the hurricane.

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b claims anna’s serves some of the best wiener schnitzel of his life! the food was all around tasty but i especially love the mocktails. i couldn’t get enough of the refresher, which was made up of orange juice mixed with another juice and topped with crushed cucumber. how refreshing right?

ps are you dying over b’s pants above? they are his “thai pants”. they were sold everywhere and b insisted he had to get a pair to fit in with the locals. b said they were the comfiest pants he owns. we bought them in chiang mai and tried to get another pair in phi phi but they were way more expensive. one will have to do.
and no i did not see any locals wearing them. insert crying emoji here.

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blue lagune - ready for some pure thai food? blue lagune is the place for you! it is a little bit aways from the hotel meaning you will have to take a water taxi to the other side of phi phi to get there but why not have a little adventure? the owners of the restaurant are so welcoming and help you find the best entree for your tastebuds!

amp cafe & restaurant – another great thai option but this time located a little closer to home base (for us pp palm tree). it is rustic and has a view of the ocean. what is not to love?

oh and i can’t vouch for the food but there is an amazing fire show attached to a restaurant right on the water. you will see signs for it as you walk around. you must attend! the performers are so skilled. it was definitely a highlight on our trip.

so long phi phi, you are one in a million.

 

Guide to Phi Phi Island (Part One)

last stop, phi phi island!

so we knew we wanted to see thailand from all facets of life hence why we started in the big city, worked our way north to the jungle and finally flew south for the island life.

there are many islands/peninsulas to choose from including koh samui, koh phi phi, railay, krabi, phuket… this list literally goes on and on. it made it quite difficult to choose where to have our home base. i had heard that it was easy to visit surrounding islands by water taxi but home base to me was crucial. i finally settled on koh phi phi (pronounced pee pee) but it really was on a whim after much frustration with weighing the pros and cons for all the islands.
i don’t regret my whim one bit.

koh phi phi is stunning although time consuming to travel to so be warned. we took a taxi from our chiang mai hotel to chiang mai airport then caught a flight to phuket (via air asia because one of the only direct flights — great airline). from phuket, we took a taxi to the ferry station (40 min+ taxi ride) then a ferry to koh phi phi (about 2 hour ferry ride — it is air conditioned!).

stepping off the ferry into the heat of koh phi phi was thrilling and overwhelming. there are so many people getting off with you and trying to find their hotel rep.
we were told by our hotel that there would be someone to greet us and take us to the hotel. little did we know that all the hotels provide the same service and so the long list of hotel reps can be daunting. we finally found our rep after countless questions to the other reps. i expected him to show us the way to the shuttle. wrong! there are no cars on the island. he took our bags and led us through a sea of people and dirt roads. ten minutes later, we had arrived (my whole body completely sweating ha — the heat and humidity are real).

but please don’t let all the traveling time get you down, it really is worth it. i just wanted to add a little background because i felt a little clueless when arriving.

now to the fun part.  i have put together a city guide of all the best things to do , eat and see on this picturesque island they call phi phi.

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TO DO / SEE:
snorkeling tour of surrounding islands – there are many companies on the island that provide similar snorkeling excursions. we chose to do the afternoon excursion with ibex climbing and tours. it was a great way to see the surrounding islands including monkey beach, maya bay (no sign of leo sadly) and pileh lagoon. i do recommend ibex because our tour guide, richard, was so fun to be around and knowledgeable. we actually booked the tour online before traveling to thailand but it was not necessary.

below is a picture of maya bay. it is a little overcrowded during the day because of all the different boating companies but it really took my breath away. some of our friends that we met in thailand actually camped on maya bay for a night and i think that would be a great option to beat the crowds.

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scuba diving - don’t have your scuba license ? no problem. most scuba companies on the island will allow you to dive down to 12 meters without a license. i was a little apprehensive so decided to sit this one out but b went and loved it. he claimed it was 1000x better than snorkeling. b was able to swim with eels, small sharks, schools of fish, etc. his two dives in phi phi are going towards his scuba certification! he is hooked.

hike to the viewpoint – completely exhausting yet completely worth it. please do this hike in the early morning or early evening and not as we did in the heat of the day because it is intense with the sun beating down on you and lots of humidity. and yes i am not the most physically fit person so you may say pish posh to my advice but it appeared everyone around us was winded by the end of the hike (besides the locals who climbed it speedily and with ease).

the hike to the viewpoint is about this steep the whole way up.

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then you see this view and it all seems worth it.

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how darling is the seating up at the viewpoint? makes me wish i would have brought a deck of cards or tea set.

hire a private long tail and escape to bamboo island – one of my favorite activities! there are many boats available for hire on the island that will take you anywhere you want to go. we were deciding between mosquito and bamboo island and in the end settled on bamboo island. bamboo island is a 40 min boat ride from phi phi. it is a small island with nothing on it but a small snack bar and gorgeous beaches–just the way i like it! the sand is white and soft. the water is crystal clear. i kept on pointing out how pretty the water color was to b on the boat ride. it was like nothing i had ever seen before.  be sure to lather up on sunscreen because the sun is strong and the white sand reflects back on you (or so we think because of our sunburns ha).
note! you may try to haggle with them about pricing to the nearby islands but it doesn’t do much good. it appears they are all in an alliance to have the same pricing. oh and you will have to pay a national park fee in addition to the taxi fee for bamboo island, maya bay and mosquito island.

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hike to long beach – we originally thought it would be a short walk to long beach from our hotel. news flash–it is a hike through the jungle. you may feel lost at times since there appears to be no clear path but never worry, the thais have you covered with their storybook style road signs. long beach is the best beach for swimming and lounging on the island. there are two restaurants close to the beach that provide decent food so i would recommend eating before or after. there are a few hotels on this side of the island and part of me thinks it would be dreamy to wake up with a view of long beach but it is fairly secluded from the city portion of the island.

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and now I am looking at what a long post this is turning out to be so what do you say we keep the best place to eat and stay for next time?

have i got you buying a ticket to thailand yet?

 

 

linked to: treat yo’ self

City Guide: Chiang Mai

it is safe to say that chiang mai was our favorite city that we visited during our trip.
heck, b even brought up the idea of living in this jungle city at some point in our life.

we enjoyed the less humid climate, easy navigation through the city (compared to bangkok) and the slower pace.
it is referred to as ” the rose of the north” for good reason.

so without further or do here is a list of our favorite things to do, eat and see!

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TO DO:

elephant nature park – are you tired of me talking about my love for elephants and this incredible experience that elephant nature park offers? hope not!
elephant nature park provides people the opportunity to walk, feed, bathe and love on asian elephants. it is a great humane option but on the pricier side!
check my previous post for more details.

rent a scooter – the best way to tour the city in my opinion! it is also very cost effective. we rented a scooter for a few dollars a day. do note they don’t drive on the same side of the road as we do in the states so that can get a little confusing.

shop at night bazaar – a bustling outdoor market with souvenirs, clothes and food galore. it has by far the best prices i have seen for merchandise in thailand!

exfoliate your feet – have you ever seen those tanks with the fish in them that supposedly eat your dead skin? well those tanks are available at the night bazaar. b loved it and kept putting his hand in the tank for the fish to eat the skin off. i, on the other hand, am way too ticklish. i am not even a fan of pedicures because they touch my feet too much.
i didn’t think i would be able to feel the fish as much as i did. i could literally feel every single fish sucking and i was not having it. you have to have a lot of self control to participate!

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get a massage at zabai thai massage – massages in thailand are cheeeap. like ben got a massage almost every night cheap. this place was on the pricier side when it came to massages but both b and i agreed it was well worth it with ambience of the spa and the professionalism / experience of the employees. b said it may have been the best massage he ever had.
i paid around $18 for a one hour aromatherapy message (thai massages are a little too rough for me but b prefers it).

take a tuk tuk – tuk tuks are more readily available than taxis in chiang mai so this was another way we would get around to dinner/massages. i love tuk tuks. i love the wind in my hair. i love bartering with the drivers before hand (you must decide on a price before entering or they will swindle you!). i love all the different smells you encounter on your drive through the city. it really is so thai.

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a lot of thai – another highlight of the trip for me was taking a half day cooking class with chef yui. the half day class includes three dishes and a tour of the local market (full day is 5 dishes + local market tour — wish we had that kind of time!). this is the perfect way to bring a piece of thailand home with you.
yui is an amazing teacher with a low key approach that makes you enjoy the dish you are creating. not to mention she is hilarious!

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TO EAT:

the house restaurant – lovely atmosphere with vibrant thai dishes ; gingers restaurant located next door is also a great dinning option but a little pricier!

the riverside – a great mix of western and thai food ; moderate pricing ; live music ; eat on the patio by the water!

la fourchette –  confession. we did not eat thai food the whole time we were there. sometimes my body just wanted to mix it up and la fourchette is the place to do it. it is a french restaurant with exquisite dishes like duck and lamb.

la petite chiangmai - wonderful authentic northern thai cuisine with exceptional service!

mamory delicious for good memories – we actually did not eat here but it was recommended to us so i thought i would pass down the recommendation to you. please let me know what you think of it!

angel’s secrets – this is the kind of bakery / coffee shop that you could spend your whole day in and be content. the food is delicious. the restaurant is located in the center of the city and they have a garden. what more could you ask for?

TO SEE:

wat chedi luang – to be honest, this was the only temple we were able to visit while in chiang mai. a lot of our time was eaten up by excursions and so we didn’t have as much time to explore as we would have liked.
this temple is 600 years old and used to house the emerald buddah, which is now at the grand palace in bangkok. i love the elephant statues and the steep staircases. i can only imagine what it would have looked like in its’ prime!

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do explore the other exquisite temples in chiang mai for me! here is a great guide.

we simply adored the city of chiang mai. our only wish was that we could have spent at the very least a couple more days. we were only there for 2 full days and one day was with the elephants. but we will take what we can get it!

oh chiang mai, you have a special piece of my heart.

 

 

linked to: treat yo’ self

Guide to Chiang Mai: Elephant Nature Park

the highlight of our trip to thailand was going to the elephant nature park located about an hour outside of chiang mai.
okay, maybe it is even a highlight of my life.

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b and i are very much animal people. we knew there would be many opportunities to interact with animals when traveling to thailand and we were very excited by this. but we also wanted to be cautious of what kind of interactions to have. we wanted to make sure that all the animals we were around were treated humanely.
there are many companies in thailand that use elephants just for the sake of tourism. the elephants are often beaten and taken away from their families in order to break the elephant’s spirit. these tactics help the owner to show the elephant who is boss.
this treatment of elephants breaks my heart and i knew i didn’t want anything to do with those type of companies. i didn’t want to ride an elephant. i wanted to love and nurture an elephant.

after much research, we came across elephant nature park.

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elephant nature park rescues abused elephants from tourism and provides them with a sanctuary inside their camp. all the elephants are treated with care and given free rein to roam the entirety of the estate. the elephant nature park has rescued baby elephants when they were stripped away from their mothers in tourism and provided them with adoptive parents and loving aunts. it is a wonderful oasis for these elephants who have lived rough lives. elephant nature park hopes to one day release these animals back into the wild.

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we signed up for “pamper a pachyderm” program through elephant nature park. i will be honest, it is a bit more expensive to have an experience like this. we paid about $185/person but it is a full day and after visiting the camp, i knew my money was completely well spent. the money was going to feeding the elephants (did you know an elephant eats about 3 tons of food a day?), employing nurturing guides/care takers and running a business.

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the tour included transportation to the park (approx. 1 hour outside of chiang mai), lunch (one of the best meals i had in thailand mind you) in a hut overlooking the river, white water rafting and loving on these gentle giants.

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b and i were able to feed, bathe, walk with and love on 4 adult female asian elephants and 1 four year old male asian elephant. it was a dream come true. not to mention the landscape surrounding the park was completely breath taking.

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this is one day i will treasure for many years to come.

 

tip! you do have to walk a lot with this tour so be prepared. i would also advise you to bring water shoes for crossing the river, bug spray and sunscreen.

All Dogs Go To Heaven

this weekend was one of the hardest weekends i have ever been through.
i did not plan for it to be this way. i actually was looking forward to this weekend for months.
it was the weekend my parents were planning on coming to visit. it was the weekend that they would stay with me and we would celebrate easter and my mom’s upcoming birthday. but it wasn’t that weekend at all.

let’s start at the beginning – thursday evening.
thursday evening, i received a call from my dad. naturally, i thought it would be about weekend plans, requests and flight information. but when i picked up the phone, i already knew something was not right. my dad was crying (sobbing really). he had just received a call from our dog’s (kelsey is her name) veterinarian. the vet had taken some tests earlier in the week to see why kelsey was having coughing fits. turns out she had lymphoma and it had spread all over her body. my dad was informed that kelsey had days (maybe weeks) to live.
when my dad told me this news i immediately told him that he and my mom could not leave our dear kelsey this weekend. that i would travel down south to them.
i needed to be with my dog during this time. my bones ached to be by her side.
i love my kelsey with every fiber of my being. she is/was the perfect companion.

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flights were booked for the following morning (thank goodness i already had work off). as soon as i went through the logistics of getting down there, all that was left was to cry. i prayed and i cried. i didn’t want my precious kelsey to suffer but i also didn’t want her to leave me. she was the spirit of my childhood home. she was in my wedding pictures. she comforted me through breakups. she loved me like no other could. i know it may sound silly to talk about a dog like this but this little dog of mine was more like a sister to me than anything else.

Capture

when i arrived at my childhood home on friday, kelsey immediately greeted me. she walked over to me, wagged her tail and i stroked her flowing golden locks. it was a comfort to see her doing okay despite the diagnosis. i mean yes she had trouble getting up but she is a 15 year old golden and so that happens. i took her on a walk with my parents and still everything felt the same. she was so happy to be with everyone.

saturday morning came around and my dad had made an appointment for her to see another vet to help with the pain. she walked around the vet office and traveled in the car just fine. when we got home, she was exhausted and went to her usual place by the piano to sleep. she slept for hours. later in the afternoon, she tried to get up and she couldn’t. her body wouldn’t let her. my dad lifted her up to see if that would help and it looked like she just couldn’t control her joints / bones because she almost immediately collapsed. she was hard of breathing and didn’t want any water or food. all of our hearts were breaking. we all raced to be by her side so she knew she was loved and to not worry about us. this went on for a couple hours. late into the evening when we realized she didn’t want dinner, we knew something was wrong. she was gasping for air and was no longer wagging her tail. she was deteriorating before our eyes and it was one of the hardest  things to watch. we decided as a family that there could be no more suffering. that this would be her last night. she was put to sleep in our home with her family completely surrounding her.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset my heart is still constantly aching. i woke up and couldn’t believe she was not there. was not there to greet me. was not there to bark at my dad to give her more food. was not there to slobber all over the kitchen floor. was not there to steal my socks. was not there to smile at me.

i am so grateful for the 15 years she was in my life. she was the biggest blessing. i am holding on tightly to the idea that all dogs go to heaven because she deserves it and more.

 

City Guide: 36 Hours in Bangkok

if you haven’t heard…b and i recently returned from a 10 day trip to thailand.
it was an amazing trip full of everlasting memories
& b may or may not have the travel bug now (yipee)

we decided to visit three different cities while in thailand. although, i do i feel like we could have spent 2 more weeks exploring this wonderful country; we made the most out of the time we had and really got a great glimpse of thailand. b is already talking about when we can return.

first stop, bangkok!

City Guide to Bangkok, Thailand

DAY ONE

10am: arrive in the bustling city of bangkok via airport taxi. bangkok is full of high rises and little grocery huts within feet of one another. we immediately noticed the diversity of living quarters in this up and coming city. the drivers here are aggressive and scooters flood the streets (just the way b likes it). so take it all in as you enter the city because i don’t think i have seen anything quite like it.

12pm: everyone i spoke to prior to heading to thailand raved about the street food. i must admit i may have one of the most sensitive stomachs out there so i was a little skeptical. i also can’t take that much spice in my meal which made me that much more apprehensive about trying street food but when in thailand, right?
we stayed at the park plaza sukhumvit hotel and i would highly recommend it. the park plaza sukhumvit is located walking distance to the sky train (so easy access to all parts of the city) as well as lots of shops / restaurants.  for our first lunch, we decided to throw caution to the wind and wander the streets for some grub. we definitely were among the locals that afternoon!
don’t miss out on the fresh juices located on almost every block in bangkok. a nice watermelon juice was the perfect treat in the heat!

1pm:  travel to the grand palace via sky train + express boat or taxi
we decided to go by way of taxi to the grand palace because i was extremely jet lagged and the heat was not helping. it is about a 30 min ride from our hotel and taxi service is cheap in thailand!
the grand palace is always insanely crowded but a beautiful and iconic site to see. i love the peaceful feeling when entering the temple. it is recommended to arrive in the early morning (temple opens at 8:30am) as to beat the crowds but b and i were not able to fit it in so in the afternoon we went.
tip! entrance fee is 500 Baht, inclusive of access to wat phra kaeo, the royal thai decorations & coins pavilion and queen sirikit museum of textile, which are located within the grand palace compound, and to vimanmek mansion museum on ratchawithi road. additional 100 Baht for a rental personal audio guide in english, french, german, spanish, russian, japanese or mandarin. be sure to dress appropriately so you can enter the temple. pants are recommended and be sure to cover your shoulders.

2pm: chatuchak weekend market
you do not need too much time at the grand palace because the crowds can become exhausting. head on over to the chatuchak weekend market (open 9am-6pm)and peruse the hundreds of stalls for souvenirs and  diverse food.
tip! one of the oldest and most reliable food options is across the street from chatuchak and called or tor kor. in the front of this market are unusually tidy fruit stalls that draw bangkok residents for its high-grade produce. behind the market, near the parking lot, is a shop selling the specialty of northeastern thailand, som tam (green papaya salad) and grilled chicken (140 baht for a whole bird). the nearby sood jai kai yang (its name is written only in thai) has been open for 30 years and is a local legend. order som tam thai (50 baht), and unless you have a mouth made of steel, ask for less spicy. next door is an air-conditioned restaurant selling traditional desserts, including mango and sticky rice (130 baht per dish). all the stalls in the market have a reputation for being acceptably clean.

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6:30pm: dinner at the local bangkok
this restaurant is on the pricier side in bangkok (approx. $40 usd for two people) but boy is it good. the service is exceptional, the food is flavorful / perfectly cooked and the atmosphere romantic. we especially loved the authentic menu to welcome our taste buds to thailand. do ask for the milder version of their dishes because even the mild version was a little much for b to handle (i could not handle ha). my compliments to the chef!
another bonus is this adorable restaurant is walking distance from our hotel.

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DAY TWO

7am: breakfast at park plaza sukhumvit
every hotel we stayed at offered an american style buffet but the park plaza was by far my favorite! their selection of fruit, cereals, breads and egg dishes was divine. i could eat the museli they made for every meal.
we booked the breakfast when booking our room but outside guests are also allowed to visit the hotel’s restaurant for any meal.

8am: take a tour with Pandan Tour group
this was our favorite part of bangkok.
before heading to thailand, i greatly wanted to tour the floating markets but the iconic one was located a couple of hours outside of the city (time we did not have) so i looked into other tours. after much research, i came upon pandan tour group. pandan tour group offers many different tours as well as customized tours. at first, we were going to have pandan take us to a closer floating market but after more research (i research everything) it didn’t seem like the local floating markets hold a candle to the one outside the city. so we changed gears and settled upon a customized half day canal tour. for this tour, they gave a long list of sites and you were to pick two from the list. i liked doing a customized tour because then it was just us and the guide and we felt like we had a more local experience.
pandan tour group picked us up at our hotel and took us to the boat express for travel to our first stop,  the flower market (my choice obviously). our tour guide, tao, mentioned the flower market is more busy/bustling in the evening but we had an enjoyable time perusing the market at a slower pace. this is the fifth largest flower market in the world (first being in brazil). tao had us try some of the local fruits and explained what the different flowers are used for — give you a hint it is not for a man to give to his significant other!

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second stop, wat pho (reclining buddah) and wat phra kaew (emerald buddah) (b’s choice)! so much history here! it was so incredible to see all the details (asthetically) that go into these temples. not to mention the architecture!

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(b and i loved the statues placed all around the grounds of the temples.)

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i think i snapped a photo every two feet because of how breathtaking these temples are and sadly, pictures don’t even do it justice. the thai know how to make temples!
tao really helped us learn the culture and lifestyle of thailand. i thoroughly enjoyed my time exploring these stunning structures.
we also walked by the temple of doom but sadly it was under construction. we hope we can return and see it once it is restored because it looked like another great temple to explore!

b likes to call me the monk stalker. i don’t know why but i loved seeing the monks roam the temples.

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following the tour, we said good-bye to our new friend tao and roamed the streets for lunch. i really enjoyed walking the city and experiencing what life would be like as a bangkok resident.

so technically, the above city guide is not even 36 hours but that is the exact itinerary we did and we loved every moment of it. if we would have had more time, we would have fit in the floating market (damnoen saduak) and dinner at issaya siamese club. b also would have enjoyed renting a scooter and seeing the city that way but many people warned scooter driving is too dangerous for a tourist.

before heading to bangkok, many people and blogs warned not to stay in the city too long. they said it is an over crowded city with much pollution and i do see where they are coming from. but there is beauty in the city of angels (nickname for bangkok). you just have to look a little deeper and enjoy it for what it is. i recommend making a stop in bangkok for any thailand trip!

 

linked to: treat yo’ self