Big Bend National Park – November 2020

Before we officially made the move across country, our good pals Jen and Ian (who also moved from SF to Austin about 6 months before us) asked us if we would join them in Big Bend National Park for a week in November. I never visited before so of course we said YES PLEASE and let them do all the planning. You know how it goes, things book up 6-8 months in advance and especially during COVID everyone wants their fair share of exploring the outdoors, so they jumped on an awesome campsite for part of our travels, and also successfully secured us a two night stay at the newly finished Basecamp Terlingua bubbles 🙂 . Read along to hear how this group of new Texans navigated West Texas!

To break up the trip we decided to spend about 5 hours driving on our first day and stayed in a hotel in Fort Stockton. There wasn’t anything particularly special about this except that we had some of the most bomb dot com Mexican food since we moved. After a fresh night of rest we drove through Marathon down to our campsite at the Rio Grande Village, where we met up with another couple friends. This campsite is the closest one to the actual bend in the Rio Grande river and was definitely a different experience than California camping. Like for example, the wild javalinas (otherwise known as wild hogs), roadrunners and endless amounts of spiders present. One would never hear 2 wild hogs mating in the wild in the redwood forest!

After checking out the visitor center, talking to the rangers and seeing dinosaur fossils on display, we explored the quick trail at the river and were practically in Mexico! There were lots of local folks along the way selling cute art and cold coke-a-colas. I totally got both on our way back as the roadrunner figurine was adorable and as it was hot AF in mid-November, I needed a cold refreshing Mexican coke (which are the best cokes out there IMO).

We also experienced the most breathtaking sunset hike just a short walk from our campsite. It was so nice, John and I did it TWICE.

It was a bit strange to not be able to have a camp fire as we’ve pretty much always done so in California, but we still had a blast and saw the stars like never before! I was actually surprised at how chilly it got because it was very hot earlier. How do people camp here in the spring or summer? I have no idea – but if I were you I would book a fall/winter trip.

The next day we hiked the famous Lost Mine Trail, which is just under 5 miles roundtrip and one of the few moderate options in the park. There are tons of hard and easy hikes, but not a lot of middle of the road options, so this trail has a lot of traffic. We went after breakfast and completed the trail in about 3 hours. I had no idea we were basically hiking to the tip top of the viewing point, so the first 75% of the hike seemed totally normal to me but the top was very steep and a bit nerve wrecking, but once I made it all the way it was so awesome! I am getting better about handling my anxiety around heights and “falling off a mountain top” but each and every hike like this where I push myself outside of my comfort zone only makes me stronger. And like Miley Cyrus sings, “it’s the climb” – both literally and figuratively.

After dinner, we drove off road to see Ernst Tinaja, a geological formation and walk that a Park Ranger told us was a must see for geology lovers. After taking about an hour to actually drive there off road (it was only 6 miles!) John and I ran out to see it RIGHT before the sun went down and man we are so glad we made it happen! We were able to spend about 20 minutes before it was total darkness and another 45 minutes to an hour drive back. If you have a great car for off roading, do it!

It was an incredible day of seeing new things and exploring a whole new side of Texas with our best friends.

After our last night camping we packed up and drove across the park to the famous divide. We had planned to do some light hiking but we got a late start and we didn’t have a lot of food on hand so we opted to save our energy. We still explored tons of rocks and found boundless quartz and rock crystals without having to venture too far out. It was so cool to see upclose and personal.

And after we left the park we drove to Terlingua and made it to our famous bubble!

It was incredible to be able to see the stars and actually capture them with a camera. We used our Canon DSLR via long exposure and had a few great selects.

The town of Terlingua is so cute and small but just the perfect vibe to spend a few night glamping after tent camping in the park. The bubble was interesting, it had a small room outside of the bubble with two doors and a whole system of opening one door and closing the other because if both doors closed, the bubble would deflate. And yep it happened on accident! However, once we figured it out the bubble quickly filled up with air again. It was quite comical but amazing the time we live in.

Our last day was spent exploring Terlingua and Lajitas where we had more delish Mexican food and did some boutique shopping and graveyard exploring before spending the last night in the HOT TUB, drinking wine and watching the stars.

I was a bit sad when we came to the end of our trip out West. I had never experienced West Texas before in my previous life as a Texan. I think it was just so far away from everything at the time, my family didn’t plan trips that way since our relatives were always east of us (being in San Antonio). But I would definitely go back and want to explore more parts of Texas that I’ve never been!

We drove off back towards Austin through Alpine where we got one of the last photos of the Alpine Target. It was demolished a few weeks after our visit because it was found structurally unsafe (eeee!) but at least we got to see it. We decided not to go to Marfa because it was out of the way and our trip was already so long, plus we heard that it’s not much different than Alpine or surrounding areas – it just has this hipster art label and a fake Prada. Maybe one day we will go back and see it, but unless it’s along the way of something else we are doing I don’t think I would go out of my way.

Next on our list is Palo Duro, Sam Houston State Park, Garner State Park and Guadalupe Mountains (and hoping for Carlsbad Caverns if we’re out there). Hoping we can get 1-2 of those off our list by end of year!

I hope you get the chance to explore Big Bend National Park and West Texas at some point in your life, it’s such a unique place and charming vibe. I also threw up some shots into my store so if you’re interested in having a little piece of West Texas in your home ❤

Halloween 2020 from your bizarre neighbors next door

Childless Yuppie Scum: AKA Your Neighbors

2020 is scary enough so we wanted to lighten the Halloween holiday mood by digging deep into our obscure 80s movie favorites: The Childless Yuppie Scum that live next-door to the Griswold’s in Christmas Vacation!

These silver sauna jumpsuits were the #1 thing that pulled this costume off. I found them by searching Amazon and there were many options, just put in “Todd and Margo” and “silver jumpsuit” and you’ll see a variety. It was also chill to sit around in these badboys and be “dressed up” without actually doing anything major.

The biggest time constraint was fixing my hair! I curled it with a tiny rod and teased it out big and put up to mock Julia Louis-Dreyfus. (Sidenote I just love JLD. Elaine will always be one of my top favorite characters of all time).

Why is the carpet wet, Todd?!
I don’t KNOW, Margo!

Because of Covid we hung back at our good pals place to watch movies and order pizza. It was a very mellow and safe Halloween.

Hope you all had as much fun as you possibly could have during a pandemic on the weekend before a major election!

love, your childless yuppie scum neighbors

Hallow-Qween Costumes

If you know anything about me, you know how much I LOVE Halloween and how much I enjoy unique costumes. Some years I have much more time on my hands and can sew up an elaborate eccentric costume that wows people, other years even my “lazy costumes” I try to make as original as I can. The point is, I love Halloween and even with minimal effort you can have a BALL of a time! It’s been a few years since I recapped our Hallow-Queen efforts, so let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

Paint me like one of your French girls… [Titanic, anyone?]

I’ve posted about our previous costumes on my Ghosts of Halloweens past write-up, chock full of ridiculous concepts like the Double Rainbow (hey it was 2010) or our Best Little Whorehouse in Texas couple costume (this was John’s intro to my ridiculous costume ambitions and our first together). And here is our 2016 couple costume of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, one of my personal favorites because we went to a dance party on a boat and I walked around yelling things all night long like “I was a big fat SLUT?” and “ANDREW!” (if you love the original Overboard as much as me then this makes sense. And no, I will NOT watch the remake).

In 2017, John and I decided to be Janet Snakehole and Burt Macklin from Parks and Rec because we were lazy and just finished watching all of the seasons together. Though I will admit it’s not my most original costume – it was a lot of fun quipping off random one liners from the show to strangers in bars who got it.

2018 felt like a big ambitious year for us. We went as the fish/lady couple from The Shape of Water and turned many heads. We were even featured on the Fox Searchlight Instagram and Facebook channels! It all happened as a joke one drunken night, where John suggested it would be funny because it won the Oscar that year for best movie, and who in their right mind would do it? I then made it a reality by finding this insanely funny and ridiculous mask based off the character, found a teal onesie that he agreed to wear, and then crafted fish fins and FISH ABS out of felt that I later bedazzled. It was amazing. I just wore a plain red dress from the movie poster and also did a costume change into her denim/green apron getup so I didn’t make much sense without my fishman <3.

2019 also was a bomb dot com costume because we love John Malkovich SO MUCH we decided to go as Being John Malkovich. John was Craig (John Cusack’s character) and I was Lotte (Cameron Diaz) with my comforting chimpanzee Elijah. This one was so fun because I ordered a wig and ratted out the hair with a super tiny curling wand and brushed it out to try to make it look more like her frizzy hair. I think we did good with what we had!

This one was so much fun! We just loved making print outs of John Malkovich’s face for those sticks. What a hoot and show stopper at the party. John even made his own version of the marionette doll and we filmed “Craig’s Dance of Dispair” – L.M.A.O.

Halloween 2020 is now upon us. A weird year and not as festive as years past. We definitely have a chill costume planned, but it’s a great reference for those of you who love 80’s comedies. Check back in and see what we do, follow me on IG @djemils.

Have a safe, fun, and Happy Hallo-Qween!

Don’t pop my hot air Balloon Fiesta! #twistedsisterblowshotair New Mexico October 2018

I am the youngest and have 3 older sisters, and if you’ve read previous posts you’ve seen a few sister trips (Nashville, Charleston, British Columbia) and know that sister travel time is important to me.

My closest sister in age, Bryana, and I have traveled together the most in my life; we even have a pseudo name for ourselves when we get together formed from an inside karaoke joke. #TwistedSister came about because that’s what we call ourselves when we sing “More Than Words” by Extreme, which is the most mellow and bizarre karaoke duet ever. Obviously this means that for the most part, we try to sing this song karaoke whenever we go on trips together, which I’m sure is rather exciting and annoying for all other karaoke patrons.

In October of 2018 we decided to meet in the middle (as I lived in California at the time) and experience the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. We quickly made plans to participate, hot air balloon ride and all, just a few weeks out. To clarify, Albuquerque is one of the most popular destinations for hot air ballooning due to the location and winds, so there are several companies that regularly offer rides. There is also a once a year Balloon Fiesta, complete with hundreds of balloons, food, drinks, and games to experience while watching them take flight. It’s extremely expensive to book a ride in one of these balloons, so we opted for a regular ride outside of the festival for our balloon experience, and got tickets for the main event as a viewer which is exactly what I would do again if I had the chance.

When I told my friends about this idea, the most common immediate reaction was “are you sure you WANT to ride in a hot air balloon? That sounds scary” and I said it was “NBD, and duh.” (But for those of you that don’t know me, I have anxiety around anything that could potentially cause me harm or more specifically, DEATH, but I also oddly like doing things outside of my comfort zone even if I have major anxiety about it. I TOTALLY wasn’t googling hot air ballooning accidents or anything prior to takeoff…)

Thank goodness we opted for the early flight, because we eventually took off over an hour late and the flight scheduled after us ended up being cancelled. Though waking up at 5am that morning after arriving before midnight was not fun, it was so worth it for the experience of being up, up and away! And for those of you interested, my sis Bryana doesn’t really have a fear of heights nor is she as anxious as me and has even been on a hot air balloon before, and once we got in the balloon, I was the one that wasn’t bothered at all and she was nervous. It’s like we switched places! Of all the things I’ve done and felt anxious about WHILE doing it, riding a hot air balloon would be at the very bottom of the list. It was bizarre.

The view from our balloon! All the other balloons are from the fiesta.

We asked our balloon guy the strangest story that he had experienced while up in the air. Our basket was shared with about 12 other folks (you can select the size you want at booking, if you want something more intimate it’s more expensive) and he explained that in another ride with a similar basket, a man proposed to his girlfriend and everyone clapped. 5 minutes later, another man proposed to his girlfriend and everyone thought it was fake but then also eventually clapped. He said the 2nd GF was pissed. I mean – can you imagine? Why didn’t he abort the mission and do it another way? (I really wish this happened on our ride though to be fair).

Looking up

After we soared in air for several hours we went downtown for an early Mexican lunch and shopping in the square. There was not ONE place that served alcohol which made it a bummer when we wanted to cheers to the completion of our first hot air balloon ride. I found that whole thing super strange, but chalked it up to perhaps maybe downtown Albuquerque doesn’t get many tourists looking for happy hour or to celebrate. There were mostly older folks and churches though so I dunno <shrug>.

We also ended up getting our Big Dipper / Little Dipper matching sister tattoos RANDOMLY. We picked a tattoo place in the heart of a hipster neighborhood, walked in, and took the plunge. It felt a little weird just going into a random spot that we had no real information on, but we’ve both gotten tattoos before in similar circumstances so it wasn’t that out of the norm for us. And they turned out great!

We then napped, had dinner, and of course – karaoked. We also witnessed one of THEE strangest singing experiences of our karaoke careers.

Picture it: a young teenage girl seductively wearing a short black dress, red corset, super high red stripper shoes and lots of dramatic makeup sang “Phantom of the Opera” – in classical opera style – alongside….her MOM, who opted to wear oversized mom jeans and a sweater vest with sneakers who sang the part of the Phantom. The mom looked like the SNL parody of “Mom Jeans” with Tina Fey. This memory is forever burned in my brain.

The next morning we again woke up SUPER early to make our way to see the morning launches at the Balloon Fiesta. While it was incredibly hard getting up early, yet AGAIN (can you tell I’m not an early morning person??) it was so worth it to see the little balloons light up in dusk. It was breathtaking to see them all go up at once!

We then drove up to Sante Fe for frito pie and an afternoon of art at Meow Wolf and the Nedra Matteucci Galleries. We didn’t have a ton of time so crammed into Meow Wolf for about 3 hours, though I’ve heard people staying all day long and even coming back multiple days to figure out the puzzle.

The whole point is to solve a very layered and crazy family mystery that deals a lot in the metaphysical world. There are clues everywhere and the tiniest details can lead you down a rabbit hole. You can try to piece everything together and figure out what happened, or you can also go through it and take in the unique design and experience knowing you won’t be able to solve it. It is very crowded and you can spend HOURS combing through one exhibit.

Visually stunning! Around every nook and cranny were impeccable details and unique forms of art.
Anyone want a seance?

It’s a unique art immersion experience that we’re so thrilled to have seen and participated in, however it’s incredibly overwhelming and overstimulating, so afterwards the low energy of the art gallery was much welcomed.

The next part of our trip was my favorite, as we spent the next two nights at Ojo Caliente Spa outside of Taos in a pueblo hut. It was amazing to be in the middle of nowhere, surrounding by healing natural spring waters and spa, breathing in the palo santo and relaxing. I would do this again in a heartbeat, it was incredible! (Though I think they recently experienced a fire and it’s temporarily closed).

The waters felt so good, it wasn’t very crowded, and we got massages at the spa! We also totally didn’t watch Young Guns before going to bed…totally didn’t…

The last day of our trip was spent driving around Taos, exploring the historic pueblo, and getting the best green chile mexican food of the trip.

This gorge was amazing!

I’m so thankful I’m able to do trips like this with my family, it’s nice to be able to make memories one-on-one since my family is so large. Bryana has visited me the most of anyone, we have a special sister bond ❤

I can’t wait to be able to travel again and explore something new! But for now, I’m thankful for the memories. New Mexico was a blast! I got to ride in a hot air balloon, got a tattoo, dove into an immersive art experience, relaxed in healing mineral waters, got a massage, saw a pueblo and ate delish food all in THREE DAYS. Just wow.

GUALALAAAAA LOVE

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Last month John and I had a little getaway up north to Gualala, just right off the coast. It very much felt like the vibe from the AMC series of Bates Motel, if that means anything to you (not gonna lie, if it’s creepy I’ve probably seen it). We found a badass Airbnb on a private property in the redwood forest WITH A PRIVATE HOT TUB!!!!!

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It was so nice to get off the grid for a little bit. Working in tech and living in SF can make one lost in touch with nature and the outside world of not being on your phone all the time, which is why we always make an effort to get outside and hike and remove ourselves from technology. We were blessed with great weather that allowed us to kayak for a few hours, and it was a ton of fun just the two of us, the river, kayak, and sunshine.

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Northern California is just SO DAMN BEAUTIFUL, I tell you what (any King of the Hill fans here?). While mid-kayak we stumbled into this campsite off the river that was in off-season. It felt strange walking around this abandoned campsite, exploring the space alone. Although this particular campsite was super awesome and beautiful, I would totally go camping there in the future.

IMG_8014.jpgHello 1983? Can you bring back 80’s camping movie vibes into current modern day media? K, thanks~

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The water was pretty low since it was in fall season. John had to drag us through a couple low points barefoot which was funny to experience. But if you happen to make a trip to Gualala, I highly suggest kayaking or camping as it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen!

IMG_7987.jpgHOT TUB TIME MACHINE HAPPY HOUR FOR THE WIN!

Relaxing in the woods was just what we needed. It could have been a scary movie at any point, as most start usually with a cabin in the woods or a hike gone wrong. But luckily we didn’t fall victim to any weirdos out there lurkin’. (#murderino #stayoutoftheforest)

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One night we ate out at St. Orres, this enchanting old timey parlor house that serves delicious fancy cocktails. We definitely knew we were in a small town as we were asked frequent questions about who we were, where we were from, what were we doing in Gualala, WHAT WERE OUR RISING SIGNS?!, etc. It was a completely different vibe from the city, that’s for sure 🙂

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We took one last hike from the back of our Airbnb to this glorious viewpoint before heading out on our next adventure up the road at Hearn Gulch Cove.

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We found the enchanting pathway that lead from the top of the cliff down into the cove, and felt like we were the only people on earth!

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IMG_8083.jpgGoonies vibes, anyone? #ourtimedownhere

After saying goodbye to Gualala we drove down the beautiful PCH and ended up at Fort Ross, an old Russian fort from the mid-1800’s, because #history.

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What a much needed refreshing weekend with my boo in a gorgeous and relaxing environment! Happy to share our experiences with you. ❤

 

 

Austintacious

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Austin is hands down my favorite part of Texas. I cherish the time in my life when I went to UT and lived in Austin, I never thought I would leave. I felt very connected to the city because of the unique culture and being the LIVE MUSIC CAPITAL of the country! Being part of the music scene shaped my individuality and made me more confident in myself and how I expressed myself to the outside world. Austin truly is a special place, and while I don’t always get to visit when I am back in Texas as my family resides in Katy/Houston, the times where I get to experience ATX brings me right back to my happy place. 🙂

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We decided to surprise my parents for Thanksgiving this year because they have been through so much with Hurricane Harvey (you can read more about it on my sister’s blog as she documents the process of them rebuilding their home). But before we made our way to Katy, we wanted a night of debauchery all to ourselves in my old stomping ground!

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We stayed off of Town Lake, close to Rainey Street where all the old Victorian homes are converted into bars. It wasn’t John’s first time to Austin, but he loved it more than the previous visit due to the fact that we had moderate temperatures rather than triple digit heat. We had a lovely stroll around Town Lake, made our way to Congress for some delish BBQ, and bar hopped from Dirty 6th over to the East side.

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Dirty 6th is where I used to go out back in my early college days. They call it Dirty 6th because it’s like a smaller version of Bourbon street and can get pretty wild on the weekends full of underage drinkers with fake IDs who can’t handle alcohol, various  bachelorette and bachelor parties from all over, blended in with college students and tourists. It’s a mix of people with cheap drinks and shots with not a lot of rules (i.e. it’s not uncommon to see people casually vomiting and having sex in parking lots. TRUE STORY I SAW THIS ONCE). FUN TIMES! hahahahaha. This is why you have to hangout when it’s not crowded, i.e. during the middle of a Tuesday before a holiday when all of the students are gone.

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Me, chillin’ on the rooftop of one of my favorite spots when I was 21, Maggie Mae’s.

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This might be the cutest dive bar sign I’ve ever seen!

I love vintage inspired neon signs SO MUCH. Since I’ve moved away Austin has definitely stepped up their neon sign game, it’s almost as strong as Portland – which is the King of neon signs. This bar was kinda weird but had a cute sign so I’ll give them that 🙂

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We always walk pretty much everywhere when we are on vacation. We enjoy exploring neighborhoods, stopping for a drink or two along the way, and exploring things you might miss out on if you just took a car. People also don’t walk in Texas so we def got a lot of looks – but I NEED TO HIT MY STEPS, dammit!

Shangri-La is my favorite bar and I HAVE to go every time I’m in the city. I love the hodgepodge of furniture, beautiful light fixtures, and quirky patio and vibe (I swear I would live on the East side if I was still there). I will never get over how cheap it is to drink in Austin compared to SF – let’s just say happy hour in Austin is around $3-4 a drink while in SF it can be $5-7 ($7 for HH WTF?!). Also – NEVER FORGET to photodocument your memories when a photo booth pops up.

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Later on in the night we met up with my niece (who is pre-med at St. Edward’s) and had a BOMB DOT COM Mexican feast at El Borrego. I normally frequent Polvo’s when I’m in town, but the wait was just insane and I honestly think the food at ELB was better (while the ambiance at Polvo’s is nicer, so depending on what you are going for it’s a toss up).

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After dinner we made our way to Rainey street for some delicious local beers and donuts, before calling it a night. We opted for breakfast tacos from Juan in a Million in the morning prior to our journey to Houston, which was so effing delish OMGEEE. I always talk up breakfast tacos so much to John, and as a California dude he has never understood the hype, always preferring burritos. This time he ate his words (literally) and agreed that breakfast tacos are where it’s at, and we need them STAT in SF (howww do we not already?!).

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You’re Juan in a millionnnnnnnn! (I always hear that song from Miss Congeniality when I see this sign).

Austin, it was a blast like always! I will always love you, my first love ❤ but there was a Thanksgiving feast waiting for us in Houston so we had to say goodbye. Don’t hate us, k??

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Hallowkeen + Other Fall Updates

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My oh my don’t I love a good Halloween and fall season! I guess they don’t call me the Queen of Halloween with my peers for nothing…

This year John and I decided to be Burt Macklin and Janet Snakehole, the fun alter egos of Andy and April on Parks & Rec. It’s a pretty easy costume that takes minimal effort but is still unique, cute, and comfortable (and if I do say so myself, being comfortable is alllll the rage as you age 😉  ). I admit that it’s more fulfilling for me to put in hard work on a costume for many weeks (like the Bjork swan dress I made a few years ago) rather than opting for something simple and easy, but it’s impossible to have energy like that year in and year out. Only Heidi Klum can wear the TRUE Hallowkween crown

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This cute vintage veil pillbox hat was only $20 on Amazon! Now I have something to wear to the weddings of my mere frenemies for the future to come!

Even Beatrix dressed up! This year she opted for Meowry Catoinette and meowed all night “let them eat cake!” just like you would expect.

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Look at that beauty! ❤

Fall is also my favorite time for weddings. Fall foliage makes for great scenery and a fun impromptu photo shoot. Just check us out at John’s step-brother’s recent fall wedding down in Soledad…

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How sweet is this crushed blue velvet bell sleeve dress? I bought it from Elsie’s closet last year. It’s an original Red Velvet original creation by way of A Beautiful Mess (RIP Red Velvet).

John is becoming quite the Instagram boyfriend if I don’t say so myself. He only learns from the best I guess!

While we only have a little bit of fall time left before winter “officially” comes, let’s remember to enjoy these beautiful moments before they slip away and I have fall fomo for another 9 months…

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Corny for Halloween

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Halloween is my favorite time of year. Yes I know how basic that sounds and how boring that probably makes me seem. But I’ve been riding the #cornyforhalloween train ever since I can remember, long before Starbucks became a huge nationwide chain and brought pumpkin spice lattes into pop culture.

I blame it on the fact that my primary childhood memories were from when we lived in Ohio. Between the ages of 7-11 I grew up in a small town called Enon (or None spelled backwards 😉 ) and it felt very much like Stranger Things. There were actually four seasons, as kids we rode our bikes everywhere, I knew everyone in my elementary school, the town had forests on all sides, and there was a large cornfield behind our neighborhood. Even our house was built in the 70’s and had retro decor vibes. But my favorite thing about living there was the fall. The leaves changed and we experienced beautiful foliage, our neighborhood had THEE BEST seasonal decorations, trick or treating felt like a flashback in time, and on top of all of that, Enon hosted their annual Apple-Butter Festival and I always dressed up. You could churn your own butter and also tour the historic old pioneer homes. I mean, a history nerd living in a historic small town with a big deal (but small time) fall festival with costumes?! AHHHhhh! My inner theatre geek loved every minute of it. THAT is when I know my love for fall and Halloween fully blossomed.

IMG_7587.jpgAren’t I cute? Here I am snuggling my cat Cotton after a long day of churning butter at the good ole’ apple butter festival! <cry laughing> (god I’m such a nerd)

This year, I decided to REALLY do it up in terms of Halloween celebrations. I’ve lived in the Bay for 10 years and surprisingly had never been to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin festival. It is the biggest thing that Half Moon Bay does all year round, pumpkin farmers from all up and down the West Coast submit their largest gourds for the chance to win the largest pumpkin award. And on top of that, there are HUNDREDS upon hundreds of art booths, food vendors, pumpkin EVERYTHING (from smoothies to pie to pumpkin chili and pumpkin mac and cheese), music and alcohol. John and I LOVED every second of it! It was worth the longer than normal drive due to high traffic for the isolated event.

22448596_10110552425541500_7178073160364207156_nJust look at those carvings!

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If you live close to the Bay and love the fall as much as I do, you MUST attend the pumpkin festival next year. I can’t believe that it’s taken me so long to head there myself!

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Moving on, last Friday night we grabbed some close friends and went to the Mayhem Mansion in beautiful Pac Heights neighborhood, before checking out the new Bladerunner (OMG ahhh so much so say there but not for this post)! Mayhem Mansion is the Halloween event thrown at the historic Haas-Lilienthal house, the city’s only intact Queen-Anne Victorian home that operates as a museum. I wasn’t sure what to expect other than some cute Victorian-Halloween decorated rooms, and boy were we pleasantly surprised! I don’t want to give too much away, but there are some pretty legit actors and we were pretty spooked/startled.

IMG_7498Our friend we met in the SPOOKeasy bar, under Mayhem Mansion.

Halloween season isn’t complete until you carve a pumpkin. I mean, even if I’m the busiest person in the world and I decide to do my version of a lazy costume, I will ALWAYS have time to carve pumpkins and roast the seeds. I just can’t live in a world where this doesn’t happen. I will be 100 years old designing my pumpkin in my head, and telling my caretaker orders for how I want it to look (MUAHAHAHA).

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We have a lot more Halloween things coming this weekend, but for now, I’m just gonna keep enjoying what precious seasonal moments that I have left. I LOVE HALLOWEEN AND I AM NOT ASHAMED! Stay tuned for more Halloween updates and costume reveals (and view previous costumes here).

xo

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A Charleston Good Time

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What up people?! A couple weeks ago I met all three of my sisters and my mom in Charleston to celebrate my mother’s 70th birthday. Charleston has always been on my list of places in the US to explore, so I was pretty pleased we decided on this southern destination spot. The ladies all traveled together from Texas while I met them across country on a red eye flight. It had been over a decade since the FOUR of us Coalson girls took a trip together, and we had never done so with our Mom. WHAT WAS GONNA HAPPEN?!

The first thing we did once I got there on Thursday was embark on a beautiful historic carriage ride through downtown Charleston, the Holy City. I had never seen so many places of worship! The old buildings were delightful but it was hot AF! I’m a delicate SF coastal flower now and am not accustomed to extreme heat or humidity anymore. Our horse was very lovely though and it was a cute time together.

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Check me out, chillin on our lunch porch at Cru Cafe. God I love Southern porches…

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We then decided to take a happy hour booze cruise for sunset views of the harbor. I loved this bridge, I even bought a small painting of it later on. BTW – some of the most amazing sunsets I’ve seen were on this cruise…

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This is my sis Bryana, also known as the author behind the blog OurSommLife. She is married to a Sommelier and writes about their travel adventures, wine, being a mom, and most recently keeping track of my parents house through the damage from Hurricane Harvey (I’ll write more on that later).  Isn’t she cute?!

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This is a blurry pic of all of us on the boat, and it makes me laugh so hard. Bryana is on the left, then Krista, my mom, me, and my oldest sister Karen. Don’t we look fun?!

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I’m glad we did the cruise because I never would have seen Fort Sumter or gotten this glorious shot! It is the birthplace of the Civil War, and anyone who knows me knows that I was a Civil War buff at the ripe age of 13. (My Grandmother gave me Civil War trading cards and my dad used to take me to meet ups at Barnes & Noble…granted I was the only child or young person under the age of 40, but it was a fun thing I shared with my dad. We saw a lot of Civil War era movies together. Let’s just say history was always my favorite subject growing up, and I used to fantasize about being a history teacher at one point in my life). #funfacts

22141029_10110483626270790_9001886964477828570_n.jpgThe Charleston harbor has some spectacular sunsets! This is one of my favorite pics.

On Friday morning we proceeded to check out Boone Hall Plantation just on the outskirts of the city. We all grew up watching the 80’s adaption of North and South (staring THEE super hot Patrick Swayze!!!) and this was his home in the show. Of course we just HAD to check it out! (I might have also played the opening credits theme song on our way in…) ALSO – The Notebook was filmed here.

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Afterwards we made our way over to Isle of the Palms beach to take a gander at the Atlantic ocean. We originally wanted to make a day out of Myrtle Beach because the movie SHAG was a staple in our home growing up. (A coming of age 80’s movie, that takes place in the 60’s, with a shag dancing contest at the end?! SIGN ME UP.) However, Hurricane Jose just missed the coastline prior to our visit and there were horrible mosquitoes everywhere, so we decided to axe the beach day. We opted for a short peek-a-boo visit instead.  🙂

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Friday night we pursued our own ghost adventures at the haunted jailhouse downtown! We opted to download a few different “ghost hunting apps” to help us determine if our own Airbnb was haunted and also tried it out in the jail. Honest review, I think the apps are fun-n-games and didn’t really pay too much attention to the words they displayed (most of it was for entertainment but a handful of the words did freak me and Bry out…). But the apps “light up” around spiritual activity and the whole time we were in the jail my app was glowing up constantly (as opposed to other places). I also got a weird spooky picture which super creeped me out…

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I love the old southern architecture! While I don’t forsee me living in the south again, I do love a good old southern home. They are just so beautiful to me.

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The infamous Rainbow Row!!

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Here I am outside of the Old Slave Mart. The exhibit was really well written and in my opinion was the best source of HONEST information on around the slave trade in the area. Slavery is not pretty but it happened and we should all acknowledge it FULLY (and not brush it under the rug) so that we can get an accurate grasp of how it has affected our country and citizens even today.

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Alas, our last night out we all surprised my mom for a fancy dinner for her 70th at the lovely Charleston Grill! We even packed her one of her favorite nice outfits as we surprised her. It was fun to dress up together and enjoy a night out on the town. Plus, look at the photo we took in front of this amazing staircase!!

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As our time ended together, we sported the Charleston rainbow row t-shirts mom got us to the airport, ate a quick breakfast, and huddled in for one last group pic before I went my separate way back to foggy San Francisco. Awww we are so cute.

Honest thoughts here:

  • Charleston has been hyped up a lot in recent years as a top travel destination in the US. I, being the big history buff that I am, have always wanted to visit and was very excited to explore more of the Lowcountry.
  • While it was very historic and the food was delicious, there wasn’t really a “vibe” or a social scene that I thought it would have. I assumed there would be a famous street with a lot tourist foot traffic, shopping boutiques, and interesting bars (similar to 6th street in Austin or any street in the French Quarter) but was a little disappointed that this wasn’t the case. It could have also been the time of year that we chose to visit, as it was nearly October, and perhaps summer time it is more bumpin’? It was basically dead when we were there and the night we went out after ghost hunting felt like 28 days later.
  • I barely saw ANY POC, which I found strange…
  • All in all, it was a beautiful place and I’m happy we visited! But I don’t think I would go out of my way to head back unless it was for a reason. Long story short, it wasn’t my favorite city. But it was one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.
  • I’m glad my mother had a great birthday

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Now I will point you to Bryana’s blog post so you can see what she thought of our experience!

XO

Em

escape from san francisco, halloween 2k16

This Halloween I fulfilled my dream of being the incredible Joanna Stayton, played by Goldie Hawn, from Overboard! I LOVE THIS MOVIE SO MUCH Y’ALL and have been thinking about doing this costume for YEARS #overboardforever. What’s great is that John loves Kurt Russell (as do I, hello HOTTIE ALERT!) and decided to be Snake Plissken from Escape from New York. We thought that it would be more recognizable for him to wear an eyepatch and go for Snake’s look because if we weren’t standing next to each other while he was Dean Proffitt, he would just be wearing plaid and would look similar to his everyday self (I guess he could have worn overalls and carried a tool box but truth be told, John doesn’t love Overboard the way that I do (HOW DARE HE) and he wanted to be Snake. COMPROMISE people! That’s what love is all about ❤ )

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Don’t we look GOOD?!

The point is, we both were characters we loved while representing a real life powerhouse in the love department. Kurt and Goldie are hands down my favorite celebrity couple and a great inspiration for relationships everywhere!

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We ended up going on the Sunset Sound System boat party to celebrate Halloween (on top of another house party the night before). The Sunset Crew are a great group of local underground house + techno DJs that have been throwing the best parties (that happen to fall on Sundays) for over 20 years in the Bay Area. The boat parties are a ton of fun, are usually 3 floors, and feature edgy DJs from Berlin to NYC and all over the world (talk about LEGIT). This year I was STOKED to hear Prosumer. AND since I was on a boat, all night I got to say things like:

  • THE ENTIRE CIVILIZED WORLD KNOWS THAT ALL CLOSETS ARE MADE OF CEDAR!
  • Andrew, are you gonna bring me my lemon or do I have to squeeze it from my hat?
  • Caviar should be round, and hard, and of adequate size, and should burst in your mouth at *precisely* the right moment.
  • I was a SHORT…FAT…SLUT!

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I made the jacket from a white satin robe, shoulder pads, gold rope, gold tassel ribbon, and sequins.

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All in all it was a pretty successful Halloween weekend. People loved our costumes, we hungout with our fun friends, listened to great tunes, and got to ride a huge boat around the Bay!

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Just for fun, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite clips. Hope you all had a Happy Halloween! Now I have to start brainstorming what I want to be next year…