Blue Skies and White Sandy Beaches

The rain and grey skies are already making me wish I was back in sunny Florida. Sissy and I made the 2-hour drive to beautiful St. Petersburg Beach on our trip to Florida and spent the day basking in the sun, drinking ridiculously delicious cocktails, gabbing about our futures and even found time to play with her new DSLR in between the bronzing.     

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The Magic of Harry Potter World

Okay, confession time. I’m a bit of a nerd. And by the title of this post you can probably guess that I love Harry Potter. Yes, I’m the girl who wishes magic was real. Judge away.

My sister and I checked off something on our bucket list last month and ventured to the sunny and muggy state of Florida to witness the majesty of Harry Potter World itself. I’ll let the pictures tell the story but let’s just say that you will feel it’s as magical as you think and butter beer really does taste as good as you imagined it would.

P.S. Sorry for the ridiculous number of photos. I just wanted to give you the full experience ;).

Three Broomsticks Pub and the entrance of Hogsmeade VillageArrived as soon as the doors opened!

Flirting with the conductor of Hogwarts Express. Obviously.

Forced on the Dragon Challenge roller coaster. If you plan to ride this, the red one is way more rad. It had the spins and almost vomited on the British man next to me. 

Inside Dumbledore’s Office

Only thing that would’ve made Butterbeer better would have been a shot of rum.

Obviously a Hufflepuff but a wannabe Ravenclaw.

Wine Tasting {Dobbes Family Estate and Sokol Blosser}

I know what you must be thinking. Amanda, might we have a drinking problem? Perhaps I should change the name of this blog to “Wine Romance” because let’s face it, vino has pretty much been the content filler for this blog all summer long. But fear not, I simply enjoy delicious wines, great company, gorgeous countryside views and road trips. Wine tasting just happens to mesh all my favorite things into one activity. So really, what else is a girl to do??

A few of my lovely girlfriends came down from Seattle to enjoy the wine country we Oregonians are always bragging about! Plus, my sissy surprised my papa for his birthday so she tagged along with us. It was one of those perfect days that made me fall in love with this state again and again.

For those of you who are actually interested in the wine (ha!) I’m going to do a post on all the wineries I’ve visited this summer with information on the tasting room, the wines, the ambiance, etc.for anyone who might be planning a trip out this fall!

Weekend Recap {Graduation in Arizona}

It was quite the nostalgic experience when my parents and I flew over to Arizona to attend my baby sister’s graduation. I have to say, telling people that it has been three years since I walked across the stage to receive my diploma from the University of Oregon was a hard reality to swallow. But the weekend reminded me of how far I’ve come since I switched my tassel from right to left. But it also made me realize that very little about my life has turned out the way I planned. And while Type A, control freak inside of me is sitting here tweaking out about it, I’m happy. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all strive for?

So to all the graduates out there this year…remember that this is just the beginning. The beginning of a life full of unplanned adventures, mistakes, challenges and lessons. It is also the beginning of a life you can create to be whatever you want it to be. Congrats baby sister!! I am so incredibly proud of you.

And what kind of post would this be without pictures? Here are a few photos from our weekend!

Celebrating a Milestone

I can hardly believe I am currently jetting off to celebrate my baby sister’s graduation. Since when was she even old enough to be out of her diaper? It is amazing how quickly the time has gone and even more amazing to see the woman she has grown up to be. I think you always think of your siblings as those bratty, pesky, tag-alongs. The ones who fart in your face when you’re trying to sleep, speak loudly at you when you are hungover, fight you for the last piece of pizza, steal your favorite shirt when you want to wear it, and pick up the phone constantly while you are talking to your crush. It is hard to think of them as a grown up: someone who is capable of talking to adults as a peer, be admired for their skills, or rising to the top of a corporate empire.  But alas they do grow up and they go on to blaze their unique trails of glory.

I am so proud of her accomplishments both on paper and in her personal development. She has grown up to be an incredibly strong-willed woman who gives 110% of herself to her passions. But perhaps more importantly, she is a kind, generous, loyal, free-spirited woman who is loved and admired by so many, including her big sister. I give her a lot of shit and most days I am too hard on her. But I do this because I believe she is more capable than she even knows. We all need someone to push us like that, right? Someone who pushes us to be the best version of ourselves? Well, that’s the story I’m sticking with!

So as we celebrate her achievements this week and send her off to take her first steps into the real world, I thought I would share a few things I wish I had known in my first year as a “big kid.”

  • Be good to your body. It won’t always be so easy to rebound after a bit of abuse.
  • Invest in a nice little black dress – one that you can wear on a date or a meeting with your boss.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Uniqueness is a gift, don’t waste it.
  • Success is defined by your own happiness. If you have achieved happiness in your life then you are a successful person.
  • SAVE! You’ll never have enough money and it’ll never feel like a good time. But I promise it’ll be worth it to start saving early. Seriously, do it now.
  • Do one thing every day for yourself.
  • Be spontaneous. One day, this luxury won’t be possible so take full advantage.
  • Spend time with your friends. Not just when you can fit it in. Make time for them. They are your salvation.
  • Keep reading. Just because you aren’t in school anymore doesn’t mean your education is over. The good stuff is just beginning. Now you get to read whatever you want!
  • Love yourself. It is the only way to make room for someone else to love you too.

Arizona

Oh, how much I wish I was back basking in the 80 degree weather. We didn’t do much more than lounge around in the sun, although I have a pathetic excuse of a tan to show for it. It must have been my paranoid attempts to not get sunburned. Okay, and we shopped. A lot. I made dinner one night for the kids – I turn into such a mama bear when I’m around my sister’s friends. And no one got food poisoning! See Mom, I’m getting better :). We dined at a few new spots (to me) like here and here. And went to some favorites like here. Twice. And we fit in a couple more things that have little pictures attach to it. See below. Thanks to my sissy and her bestie for hosting me. Next time I go to Arizona it’ll be the wee one’s graduation! Oh, how the time flies. I can’t believe I have a baby sister old enough to be done with college. I guess that means I must accept the fact that I may be becoming officially…old.

We went on a short hike. The dog got tired so we had to turn around. Okay, fine. It was me.

We dined at our traditional brunch spot. Yes, I have traditions in my little desert haven! I had the best eggs benedict. Ever. Al had french toast. Also the best. Ever.

And we put on our cute new dresses (me in a skirt) and went for a windy walk. I had one too many Marilyn moments including one incident where my hat flew into the street into oncoming traffic. Naturally, I yelled for my sister to go grab it.

We got cupcakes at this heavenly place. Try the cotton candy if you ever go. I’m not joking. It isn’t just for 5-year-olds.

Oh, and I took a ridiculous number of pictures of my little nephew. I’m not a little dog person but how can you not love this face?!!

Thanks again for having me sissy!!

I’m Back! A little tanner… a little voiceless…

Hi everyone! I’m back from the desert! I had a wonderfully relaxing and warm weekend with sissy. Unfortunately, my trip was plagued with a silly little sickness that has now taken my voice. I know, I know. Tragic. And for those of you who know me in real life you must be wondering just how I’m surviving without the ability to speak.  Well, let’s just say I’d rather be silent than sound like a pubescent boy whose voice cracks after every other word. I have a crazy week ahead of me including a trip to Alaska for the Iditarod so there is no time for sickness!! For now, here is a little preview of my date with sunshine. I hope we go out again soon…