Tiny Girl. Tiny Budget. Big Dreams.

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Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, NC

On the last day of our vacation, Michal and I decided to drive back down to Pea Island to enjoy its secluded beaches once more. It was a really great time, but this blog entry is not about that experience…

On the drive back home I brought up how sad it was to have to watch the sun set from the car, but no sooner had I said that did a sign appear for Jockey’s Ridge State Park which was the next left. We decided to just go for it, and this impromptu decision led to my favorite experience of the entire trip.

This is Jockey’s Ridge–the tallest natural sand dune system on the east coast (those black dots along the top are people!)

Sadly, pictures do not even begin to illustrate the wonder of seeing this natural landscape in person.

When we finally entered the park, I completely freaked out by how incredible. it was, and I even had a “double rainbow” moment, where I kept screaming “whoaaaa! whoa whoa whoaaaa!”, and then without warning I started sprinting to the top because I was afraid the sun would set before I got to see everything.

Unbeknownst to me, Michal managed to snap a few photos of my craziness.

Still running.

Double rainbow jump!

At the top of the sand dune there were hundreds of people flying kites. Everyone just seemed so happy and at peace.

I was quite moved.

Basically I decided that when I die, I want to find myself on a beautiful sand dune, and waiting for me at the top is everyone I’ve ever loved, and we all fly kites (tear).

After getting a little faklempt, I was cheered up again by watching all the kids boogie board down the side of the sand dune.

wild children + sand = high entertainment value

After a while the sky started to get darker so we just relaxed and watched the sun set.

One lone kite just didn’t want to leave…

And because I hate ending on a serious note, below is a pic of my favorite kite (as spotted at Jockey’s Ridge)…

I call it Rat-Bird.

September 4, 2010   No Comments

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

On the second to last day of our vacation, a small group of us decided to venture out a bit, so we took a road trip to Cape Hatteras National Seashore,

As you’ll observe in the above map, the seashore is a narrow barrier of islands off the coast of NC–often referred to as a “ribbon of sand” (an apt title once you’ve driven down its roads).

The drive was an additional two hours south of where we were staying, but in my opinion, completely worth it if you ever find yourself in the Outer Banks. Just be warned, if you visit the park in the next 18 months you might experience one minor setback….

The parks famous lighthouse is currently under construction (which none of us were aware of) so we were all pretty bummed when we arrived at the above scene. My friend Kristin has a great photo of us all making sad faces in front of the lighthouse, so I’ll have to try and get it from her so I can post it here.

After the lighthouse debacle we decided it was time to ease our pain with the beach (and beer).

Like our Corona advertisement?

The water was extremely warm, so we spent most of the time swimming. It’s sort of hard to tell, but Meredith is actually holding her Corona up in the above photo (she’s the one in the middle about to be swallowed by the monstrous wave), and I’m stupidly drinking another Corona while walking into the water. I’m not trying to glamorous (or condone) drinking while swimming in any way, but I try to document whats fun, and this was definitely fun.

After a few hours we decided to venture further south to explore some of the more isolated areas of the seashore, and in the process we got to cross over a fun bridge which takes you to Pea Island…

Below is a view from the bridge once we were standing on the other side.

The minute you cross over the bridge it sort of feels like you’re in a completely different state. It’s hard to convey in words, and it’s probably harder for you to notice in the pictures, but the area was just…different…almost like a desert.

We were all in awe of the landscape, so we spent quite a while just exploring the area and taking pictures.

It’s pretty rare when you get to enjoy a coastal landscape without anyone else around, and for me, that’s what makes the National Seashore so special. Having been born and raised in the Northeast, beaches have always just meant no parking and screaming children, so although the next statement might seem dramatic…I definitely have a new found respect for America’s coastlines.

And as an extension to this new found respect, I’m going to be writing out a check to the National Seashore this week, along with Jockey’s Ridge State Park (you’ll read about this in my next blog entry). Both of these state parks are completely free to the public, so I want to thank them by way of a friendly donation. I also would encourage you all to do the same–not for these parks, but for a state or national park that you’ve appreciated in the past.

If you can spare 10 dollars, you’re helping to ensure that the parks remain free for those who can’t.

Ok ok, I stole the above photo off the Cape Hatteras website, but it’s my attempt to tug on your heart strings, and get you to be proactive about donating to your favorite public park. How can you deny the above cuteness?

August 31, 2010   1 Comment

Adventurous Run in the Outer Banks

This morning I went on a 5 mile solo run which also doubled as a mini-exploration.

I know that for a lot of people it might seem crazy to want to run on vacation, but I wish I could truly convey in words how peaceful it can be to have those moments to yourself, where you’re just moving with the rhythm of your own breath, and how even with that constant movement, there is a quiet stillness to everything–even your mind.

And for me, when my mind is still, I’m better able to appreciate the present.

I started off my run on the main road thinking I would just run down the road for 25 minutes and then run back, but after noticing the below dirt road at around the 10 minute mark I knew it was time to take the path less traveled.

And the path less traveled led to this….

After sitting on the beach for about 10 minutes and admiring the type of scenery that makes a girl want to sing, “America The Beautiful,” I went back to the main road and continued on my run until I came upon the below sign.

An outdoor trail that promises nature?

Oh snap. When they said “nature” they meant NATURE MOTHA FUC*&!s.

I could barely get my hand to stop shaking when I took the above photo.

Luckily the trail offered some non-scary nature also….

After a while some storm clouds started rolling in, so I figured it was time to head back.


I’ll end this entry with one last photo…

Finally, nature gives BP the finger.

August 25, 2010   1 Comment

Corolla Beach meets THE GRILL

After driving over 12 hours in a car and partying at a wedding, yesterday was all about rest and relaxation at the beach.

The key to having fun at the beach is to make friends with the people who have cool beach toys…

Michal was extremely excited about getting to surf in North Carolina.

And as you’ll clearly observe in the below photo, he was VERY excited about getting to paddle board in the ocean.

Eli and I watched our boyfriends almost drown from a far, and bonded over being pale and having to wear a hat and sunglasses at the beach.

Below is our “pale is sexy” pose.

And who knew that the outer banks had an obscene amount of cacti everywhere.

After a long day in the sun we decided to do a potluck style dinner with our roommates.

We grilled all of the food.

Grilled lobster tails and scallops.

Grilled corn.

Grilled beef kabobs.

non-grilled Watermelon Feta Mint Salad (thank you Steph for introducing me to this incredible combo of ingredients)

Cucumber Dill Salad (thank you Karen–this was INCREDIBLE, and I need the recipe so I can post it up here)


Polenta

Red Snapper

Beer.

You know you’re hungry right now.

August 24, 2010   No Comments

Peter and Jeans Wedding

Yesterday two of our friends got married in North Carolina at the Whalehead Club which was just a short drive from the house we rented.

Meet Jean and Peter

The Whalhead Club

The Location

The wedding was really incredible, especially since they took a lot of the stuffy tradition out of the ceremony process, and instead turned it into a celebration of their relationship. You would think that logically all weddings would be a celebration of the couple, but I find that most are too focused on the traditions to take the time to add in personal touches, such as having the couples pet turtles at the reception….

They also each took an article of clothing from the other person which they loathed the most and agreed to burn it at the end of the ceremony (it was both funny and touching that the groom was willing to give up his favorite ratty t-shirt for the woman he loves).

Peter and Jean also did so many cool things which were not only creative and beautiful, but budget-friendly. Here were a few of my favorite things:

Fortune Cookie Programs (you had to open up the various flaps to read about the wedding)

Homemade tissue paper decorations

Pies! (rather than traditional wedding cake…and yes, they fed each other pie).

The party favors were re-usable bags with turtles on them (they also had a note inside the bag which read: “Turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, which can lead to their deaths. By choosing to use this eco-friendly turtle tote instead of plastic bags, you’ll help save a turtle! We have also made a donation to the Network For Endangered Sea Turtles, a non profit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of sea turtles.”)

The name tags were also turtle themed (on scratch-away rainbow paper)

Later on during the reception Michal and I turned our name tags into ninja turtles

They also used mason jars to serve lemonade and iced tea in

And you can’t have a North Carolina wedding without having peaches!

Since they just bought a house, they had their mail box at the reception, and people were able to write notes and put it inside.

Overall, the reception was a blast…

And of course having some friends there made the experience that much better.

Steph, Eli, and Kristin

Meredith (and some wind)

And having Michal there is always a plus, because he makes me laugh every 10 minutes.

Happy.

August 23, 2010   No Comments

Road Trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina!

Greetings from down south!

I know I’ve been a little remiss with updating my blog this past month, but I’ve embarked on a new adventure, and I’m ready to once again make your web browser slow with my picture-heavy entries.

At around 3am this morning Michal and I packed up the car and made the 12+ hour trek to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

I like how the above picture makes Michal and I look like the worst car packers ever, but I assure you there was some method to this madness (i.e. cooler full of food goes closest to me).

After some fun gridlock traffic in NYC, we moved on to the land of Snookie, and also the land of where rest stops have the most amazing international chain ever created….Cinnabon.

The above photo came out blurry, but the Cinnabon motto reads, “Life needs frosting.”

I don’t think life needs this much frosting though…

Michal polished off the whole row as I watched in horror, and he had a smile on his face the entire time.

My breakfast consisted of an overnight oats recipe I’ve been perfecting over the past few weeks…

behold Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal with Blueberries (it looks gross, but it tastes awesome).


Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal (overnight oats style)

  • 1/2 cup old fashion oats
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbs. peanut butter
  • 1/2 tbs. raw chocolate powder (I use Navitas brand)
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • One handful of blueberries
  • Sweetener to taste

The reason these are called overnight oats, is because there is no need to cook the oatmeal. You just combine all the ingredients in a glass or bowl the night before, mix them, and then let it sit overnight. In the morning you will have something that may not look so pretty, but it will taste like dessert.

After further stuffing ourselves with some Luna bars (which Michal just realized are made for woman), we crossed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

The bridge was built over the ocean, and runs for over 4 miles, so it’s a bit eerie when you drive over it. There are also a few tunnels along the bridge which run underwater, so this furthers the creepy factor.

Once we reached dry land we saw a lot of  this…..

And this….

and LOTS of this stuff…

If the car wasn’t moving so fast I could have captured all the billboards which make it seem as though all they sell down here are fireworks, cigarettes, and liquor.

One billboard promising the biggest selection of fresh grown fruit and vegetables spiked our curiosity, so we stopped, and they were NOT lying…

Holding my goods with pride even though I can barely carry it.

And as promised Powell’s had fireworks….

Who cares if the boxes of fireworks all read “Y2K Celebration,” I’m sure they work just fine…

After leaving Powell’s we did a straight shot to the Outer Banks, and another 2 hours later we arrived at home sweet home (or at least we get to pretend it’s our home for the next seven days). In total the trip took us about 12 hours, and we traveled over 550 miles!

If you ever want to go on a budget-friendly vacation, the Outer Banks is it! As long as you have a group of friends to go in on a house with, a dollar will take you very far down here. Nine of us went in on this house, and it’s awesome, especially since it’s close to the beach, and it still comes with it’s own pool.

The kitchen is really spacious, and our group of friends is going to be taking turns cooking dinner, so this will save everyone a lot of money throughout the week.

Is it weird that the room I was most excited about was the bathroom in our bedroom?

This bathroom was the size of my bedroom at home (picture does not do it justice).

In total we each paid $400 to have the house for the entire week (and we didn’t even fill up all the bedrooms, so you could reduce your costs by much more if you go in with more people). I’d say look for a smaller house, but if you’ve ever been to the Outer Banks, you know that houses with less than 6 bedrooms don’t exist here.

There is so much more I want to type, but I’m running on two hours of sleep, and we have a friends wedding tomorrow morning, so I’m off to bed.

I think with over 20 pictures in this entry, it’s safe to say the blog has officially been revived, so stay tuned.

August 22, 2010   No Comments

New Apartment: Bedroom Before and After Pictures

The adventure blog has sort of been on hiatus this past week, mostly because I’ve been in the process of moving into a new apartment in New Haven.

I also don’t have internet yet, so Michal and I have been at the mercy of neighborhood cafes with free WiFi.

Thank you Cafe Romeo.

I’m pretty excited about my new place, especially since after having lived in both Boston and New York City, it’s an odd feeling to suddenly have so much space (and so much money left over after paying rent!). It will also be nice to officially have my name on a lease with Michal, because living out of a duffel bag was beginning to get old.

Our friends Jesse and Paul will also be living with us, so I’m thrilled that the place will most likely always have people in it. Places always feel more like home when there are voices in the background.

Michal and I are tackling the apartment room by room, so on the agenda for our first weekend in the new place was the bedroom…and this meant the REAL agenda was PAINTING.

White walls sort of horrify me. I’m not sure why, but I’m beginning to think it’s genetic, because in my parents home there is not a single white wall to be found.

Luckily Michal was all for painting the bedroom whatever color I wanted, and since I already had the color picked out (Gentle Tide by Glidden), it was just a matter of dropping by Home Depot to pick it up.

If you’ve painted before, I don’t need to tell you it’s hard work. It took us three days to finish painting and touching up two rooms (we painted Michal’s office too). Because of the fumes we set up the bed in the living room, and lived there for the first few nights.

There was lots of take-out and beer consumed this weekend.

Once we finally finished painting we began moving in furniture.

If Michal looks tired in the above photo, it’s because we were both up at 6am, and in my sleepy state I was a bit indecisive, so I made him help me arrange the furniture in our room about 5 different ways until I finally decided on the set-up I liked.

Once we set the bedroom up the way we wanted, we ran to IKEA to buy some shelving. The shelving was SO cheap and made the room look much more finished.

The bedroom isn’t quite complete, but here are some before and after photos (before photos were taken when we first looked at the apartment).

BEFORE PICTURES:

AFTER PICTURES:

Don’t colored walls make rooms look so much more inviting?

Because the windows in the front of the room are so beautiful, I didn’t want to distract from that with a clunky headboard. I toyed around with a few ideas, but finally decided on installing a simple IKEA shelf directly behind the bed. For the brackets we used the plastic white ones that only cost one dollar at IKEA. From far away you can’t tell they aren’t wood. In total, our “headboard” cost us 7 dollars. It was definitely the cheapest solution to keeping the area between the windows simple/clean, while still giving us a place to store a book, water, or cell phone at night.

We also bought two large shelves from IKEA (7 dollars each). Since this wall is more of a focal point, we splurged and bought the nicer brackets (5 dollars each). So in total, we transformed this wall for 34 dollars.

We were lucky that no major furniture or bedding had to be bought. My only real splurge were the bamboo shades (Bed Beth & Beyond) which were $40 each, and totally worth every penny, because when the sun hits them they glow this beautiful honey color.

There are still a few spaces in the room that need to be worked on such as:

🙁 so bare

🙁 This house plant needs a buddy (preferably in the form of a mirror)

Not a great view from the bed.

I already have some creative and cheap ideas though, so maybe I’ll update you with photos once I complete the projects.

Someday in the future (way in the future) I’d like to purchase something like this, this, or this, but for now I’m just going to dream about that day, and until then I will focus on decorating my new IKEA shelves with fun knickknacks from my local Marshalls, Homegoods, and TJ Max….which did I mention are all less than 10 minutes away from my new place?

I guess some dreams do come true.


July 19, 2010   No Comments

Footbridge Beach and Perkins Cove

Today I’ll be in the woods of Old Lyme, CT helping out with Ninja Zombies, but before I go I wanted to recap a few more things from Maine, specifically my 4th of July, which of course started out with a patriotic bowl of oats…

Ingredients: locally grown strawberries and blueberries, peanut butter, greek yogurt, and oatmeal.

After I let this digest a bit, Michal and I decided to rent bikes for the remainder of our vacation so we could have the freedom to get around without having to deal with the 4th of July traffic.

First stop with our bikes was Footbridge Beach in Maine which is my favorite beach in the area.

Enjoying fresh cut watermelon on the beach is one of life’s cheap luxuries.

After a few hours of relaxing on the beach, we got back on our bikes and headed down to Perkin’s cove for lunch.

Michal was very excited when while we were on the Perkin’s Cove draw bridge, a sailor shouted up to him to press the button to raise it.


Michal brought his Canon camera on vacation, so while we were in Perkin’s cover he took  some really beautiful photos that I plan on framing.

We also discovered a really amazing cafe I had never been to. They make homemade lemonade from scratch, and they have the most amazing back porch where you can sit.

Around this time we started to burn out, so we got back on our bikes and headed back, and after a nap and an epic outdoor dinner with the neighbors, we got back on our bikes to make one last trip…

It just wouldn’t be the 4th of July without fireworks.

July 11, 2010   No Comments

Marginal Way and Barnacle Billy’s in Ogunquit, Maine

Saturday night Michal and I decided to go out to dinner for seafood, because when you’re in Maine, it’s just wrong to eat anything else, so we put on some non-scrubby clothes, and hit the town.

I know from this blog it seems as though I never wear make-up and am always in running shorts, but I assure you I am quite girly (note the pink top).

We decided that we would park in town and then walk along Marginal Way which takes you down into Perkins Cove.

Once we began the walk on marginal way, the views were incredible…

When we arrived in Perkins Cove, we ate at one of favorite restaurants, Barnacle Billy’s.

I’ve been eating here since I was a kid, and the food is always straight off the boat and delicious.

Before being seated, Michal enjoyed a cold beer in the lounge, and I sneaked a photo which captured his content state.

Is there anything better than enjoying your first cold beer on vacation?

When we finally sat down for dinner, I already knew what I wanted–Billy’s homemade Gazpacho Soup with JUMBO shrimp….

You can’t find shrimp any larger than this. They were so big that just 4 left me feeling full (and usually when I eat shrimp my stomach is a bottomless pit).

Michal had their stuffed shrimp dish which looked just as incredible.

But you want to know what the best part about dinner was?

The view.

July 8, 2010   No Comments

5k Race in Maine

This is my third time running this race, and ever since coming in second for the women’s division last year (it’s a small race), it’s become an on-going joke for me to talk a whole lotta game before the big day.

Coincidentally, Michal came in 2nd in the men’s division last year also, so the smack talk has just been non-stop between the two of us.

But somewhere in all those little quips…I was serious.

And so I trained the past two weeks, and I had this whole master plan laid out in my head, how two days before the race I would do one final 4 mile run on an up-hill course (my reasoning being that the 5k race would seem easy 48 hours after so much up-hill work). So Friday came, and after work I did just that. I ran an intense 4 mile up-hill course in blistering heat. Then I got home and rested a bit, because I was going to be driving to Maine later that night.

Then my mom, who was already up in Maine, called.

“Hey, did you know your little race is tomorrow morning? I just saw something about it on the TV.”

Yup, that’s right. I got the date wrong. So basically I would arrive in Maine at around 1am, and then have to wake up at around 8am to run a race, and on top of that I would only have around 12 hours of time to recover.

Want to see a picture of me before the race?

It’s probably hard to tell because this picture is pretty small, but I was literally falling asleep, and I didn’t even have the energy to warm up or stretch. I just sat on a rock and watched all the other people do cool pre-race stuff which totally psyched me out.

Luckily I had Michal there to lend his support (and talk a big game), so I at least I stayed a bit motivated.

A mile into the race  though I was pretty behind, so I started regretting my decision to run the race, but then I sort of told myself, “you are on vacation, so get over yourself, and get over the fact that you will have a slow time.” And just like that I got over it, and suddenly the race seemed fun again because I accepted the fact that I wouldn’t do well, and that I would be proud of myself just for finishing it.

And then mile two came, and I was so happy to have set myself free from the pressure of getting a good time, that I started to pass a lot of people who were burning out on the hills.

And then mile three came, and I started to pass even more people.

And then I finished…

and after the results were tallied up, I came in first in the women’s division 🙂

Pretty cool, right?

Although in all honesty, I was not the first female to cross the finish line. The first WOMAN, yes, but not the first female. A few girls under the age of 19 destroyed my time, so I was fortunate that there was a separate category for “under 19.”

I wish I could show you an actual picture of me accepting the prize, or a picture of my finish, but the camera died half way through the race (my mom didn’t realize that you need to turn the camera off when you’re not using it). By that point though, I didn’t even care about the camera. I was just thrilled to have had something that seemed horrible turn out to be something really fun.

As for Michal….

Let’s just say he got 2nd place again, but this year the men’s 2nd place time was slower than the women’s 1st place time….

I guess there can only be one winner in every relationship (ohhhhhhhh snap!)

July 3, 2010   No Comments