Category Archives: Picture Pages

Iceland, Day 7

Last day! So sad. 969720_10200706584163488_1046122564_n
So when I last left you, we were at Lebowski Bar. Mood Music!

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We weren’t in Reykjavík on the weekend, but apparently the entire city turns into a rave and goes insane. We partied in Reykjavík on a Monday, and holy shit. The bar was packed and people were still tanked at midnight. Every time someone walked into the bar, the whole place would cheer and everyone would hug. “It’s a Viking thing,” some guy from New York told us, “It comes from centuries of drinking together in huts or something.”

This was midnight. The sidewalks were packed with smokers from the bars.

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The inside of Lebowski Bar was obviously bowling themed. For 5 króna, the bartender would spin that wheel and you’d get either a ton of shots or nothing.

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There was a great stage area in the back that looked like a 50′s diner, but the highlight was the bathrooms:

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These were the stall doors:

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This is the entrance to the men’s room:

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We finally stumbled home–still in the daylight–and fell asleep. In the morning, our driver from the first day drove us to The Blue Lagoon!

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa. The bright blue water is HOT and it feels incredible. There are boxes with silicone masks around the edge that you can slather all over yourself. There are places for massages, plus a water massage that feels phenomenal.

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(Click to enlarge!)

Aaaand they let you drink champagne in the water!

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This is literally the first time I’ve gone swimming in over a decade. The deepest water came up to my chin, but I could still float around. I forgot how much I like the water.

The Blue Lagoon is pretty touristy, but worth it. A popular thing to do is go there directly from the airport to ease in the jet lag, but we arrived in Iceland too early on the first day. However, the driver told us that we were lucky to be there when it wasn’t crowded.

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Usually a flight home from Europe totally sucks, but our flight was almost entirely empty! Justin and I each got our own row. I settled in and watched like 3 movies that I’ve been wanting to rent forever. Honeymoon!

FEATURED FOOD: Happy Marriage Cake! I didn’t eat it, but this was offered on the plane.

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ECSTATIC PICTURE OF JUSTIN OF THE DAY:

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Iceland, Day 6

Today could best be described as The Day We Ate Iceland. Mood Music!

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(The “blurred lines” are our stomach linings. In hindsight, I have no idea how we did this.)

First, I’ve mentioned the superiority of Iceland’s continental breakfasts many times, but this one was the best that we had.

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We left Rangá and headed back to Rekjavík. On the way, we stopped in a teeny, tiny town for some of their famous lobster. 300 grams of lobster, to be exact:

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We wanted to go to the haunted house next door, but they were closed. So instead, we stopped by a craft collective. I browsed through tons of wool sweaters, lava jewelry, gnome ornaments, gnome everything, but nothing spoke to me.

Then I spotted a small room in the back with a stack of afghans in the corner. I picked one up and immediately fell in love. I was in the middle of talking myself out of it based on the price, but then Justin appeared next to me, glanced down and said, “That looks like you.” That settled it.

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At the register, the woman told me that it was knitted by a 90 year-old lady in a nursing home! I told her to tell the lady that a couple on their honeymoon bought it, and they would treasure it for the rest of their lives together. Okay, I wasn’t that cheesy, but that’s how I felt. My Icelandic blanky is my favorite thing in the world.

(I did not eat it, but I love it so much that I could.)

When we got back to Reykjavík, Justin made us walk to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, aka “The Best Hot Dog in Town.” That’s right, the most famous restaurant in Iceland is a hot dog stand. Bill Clinton has been here!

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On our journey, I noticed blue footprints painted on the sidewalk and followed them to this:

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It looks cute, but we accidentally stumbled into the Portlandia of Iceland. The woman looked straight out of Reality Bites, nose-ring and all, and the dude had long blond dreadlocks and a resting bitchy face. They were not happy to see us, or anyone I think. This was a vegan cookie shop, which I didn’t realize until after I bought the cookie. Vegan food can be delicious, but this tasted like dirt. I threw it away after one bite.

For dinner, we went to a famous tapas restaurant! It was underground and so cozy!

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We could have eaten a ton of weird stuff, including whale, elk and puffin, but I mostly stuck with lamb and some bacon-wrapped dates.

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Final stop: oh my god.

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I knew I would love this place right away:

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We ended up staying here past midnight, so I’ll talk about it next time!

FEATURED FOOD: baked goat cheese with honey. Don’t tell Justin but this was maybe the best orgasm of my honeymoon. (At the very least, it was a tie.)

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ECSTATIC PICTURE OF JUSTIN OF THE DAY:

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Iceland, Day 5: Part 2

I’ve never been a big moody music fan (I like it, I just won’t pick it over fun stuff) but I recently started playing Sigur Rós while I write. The first time I gave them a serious listen, I started crying. It’s exactly what Iceland feels like. Exactly.
Mood Music!

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After our adventures at Skógar, we headed to Vík, a black sand beach!

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We pulled into a pretty remote parking lot to park, and guess who was right behind us?

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Needless to say, we fled soon after. Even though Reynisfjara Beach is just on the other side of that cliff in the first picture, we had to drive about 10 minutes to get there. Instead of black sand, we were greeted with smooth rocks!

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The closer you got to the water, the smaller the rocks became. I could make a million dollars selling bags of this at Pier One:

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The rocks were so weird to walk on! It was incredibly zen. The coolest part was when the tide came in. Instead of retreating back out to sea, the water would roll in and then immediately sink into the rocks, leaving a little foam outline as it vanished. I could have watched it forever.

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Reynisfjara is also home to a huge, gorgeous cave called Halsanefshellir and the famous Basalt columns.

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Here’s Justin standing in the cave for scale:

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Our stalker pulled up just as we were leaving. I think we lost him here, unless he’s hiding in my treehouse as I type this.

Our first stop of the day was supposed to be another waterfall, but it was raining very hard when we arrived. Justin was incredibly sad about it, so I said, “When we pass it on the way back, the sun will be out and there will be a rainbow.” AND GUESS WHAT.

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YAAAY!

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Seljalandsfoss is one of the most well-known waterfalls in Iceland because you can walk behind it!

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More magic moss!

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Here’s another rainbow. You had to climb up this insane pile of wet rocks to get back to the path. I was so relieved when I reached the top of this that I started laughing like Sloth from Goonies.

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Finally, we went to our hotel… but the adventures were not over! Hotel Rangá is awesome! It’s the only 4-star resort in Southern Iceland.

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The hotel felt like the Great Northern from Twin Peaks, which was appropriate considering how we met. There was even a backwards “Laura” on the rug in our room. Creepy!

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We think that the tour company told Rangá that we were on our honeymoon, because we were surprised with an upgraded suite!

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This was the view from our balcony. Every room has a balcony or a patio because when the Northern Lights happen, the hotel will give you a wake-up call.

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The game room was also stellar:

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We loved this puzzle so much that we bought a poster version of it in Rekjavík.

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FEATURED FOOD: We ate a 4-course dinner, sitting right next to the window, but the restaurant was really fancy and I didn’t want to be tacky by taking pictures. (This was like the only time I didn’t wear my awesome hat on the trip.) However, I am 99% positive that lamb was involved. I ate lamb almost every day. So here’s a picture of a dope lamb kabob that I ate a few days earlier.

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ECSTATIC PICTURE OF JUSTIN OF THE DAY:

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Iceland, Day 5: Part 1

Mood Music! Justin put this on a mixtape when we first started dating, and that’s how we discovered we both loved Iceland:

Today was so full of stuff that I’m splitting it in two.

We started the day at Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that blew up in 2010 and stranded a million people in Europe, including my ex-roomate Dan. This volcano is literally someone’s backyard.

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The people who live there did what anyone would do in that situation: they built a shack across the street and made a museum! There were tons of crafts made out of volcanic ash and lava, like candle holders and soap. This is where I got my second-favorite souvenir (it means “I don’t speak Icelandic”):

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This is also where we encountered our stalker for the first time. At first I was like, “Oh, that is the cutest van!!” but then we saw it everywhere and it was like a Japanese horror movie where the adorable child is actually a demon who swallows people whole:

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Up next, Skógar Folk Museum and the Communications Museum! We made friends:

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Skógar Folk Museum is full of amazing Icelandic art:

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There was also a taxidermy room, where we discovered us in a past life (the mouse in the background is Chauncey).

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The Communications Museum was incredible: old rescue vehicles, exhibition gear, and literally every piece of technology that has landed on that island. My AV Club President husband was in heaven:

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Next: TURF HOUSES! TURF HOUSES! HOBBIT HOUSES! OMG!

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Found my birth parents.

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Sure, these homes are covered in dirt, but they are fancy as hell on the inside!

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These homes were exactly my size. We came across one room with cots lining the walls. Your arm span is equal to your height, so here is proof that I fit in hobbit beds:

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Look at me. Just tickled to death.

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Justin was waaay out of his element, but my people and I did not run him out of town with pitchforks:

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There were at least 10 structures, and I fawned over every inch of them.

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There were even a couple two-story turf homes! Justin is literally 2/3 down the staircase here:

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On the same property was Skógafoss! Pictures never do these things justice, but just look at this son of a bitch:

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That guy in the red jacket on the bottom left? That is our Happy Camper Stalker, in the second of many sightings. At one point, only the three of us were left and when he walked past Justin, I thought my husband was going to get stabbed. Did I mention he looked exactly like Jen’s uncle Bob?

He stood in the same pose for a long time. No, like: a loooooong time.

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Anyway, this is the day we really got to experience all the green magic moss. Justin took about 6,000 pictures of it. I felt like I was in New Zealand or on another planet.

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Justin bought us rain jackets and rain pants for the trip, so we could go right up to the bottom of the waterfalls and stuff. Plus, it was a little drizzly all day, but with our outfits it didn’t matter.

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I mean, really: Spirit Animals? Past Lives? Twinsies?

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FEATURED FOOD: Cool American Doritos.

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ECSTATIC PICTURE OF JUSTIN OF THE (HALF) DAY:

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Iceland, Day 4

We could only pick up Top 40 radio stations in the car, so we heard the same 10 songs over and over. Fortunately, this was the week that “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines” dropped. Mood Music!

On day 4,we headed back south. The fog was crazy! This is what a typical town in Iceland looks like:

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And a typical rest stop? Look at this shit. We were walking to get lunch (and free wi-fi!) and I turned around and just started laughing.

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Even the tiniest things are cute. It’s hard to tell in the picture below, but that green traffic light has a happy face on it. Justin told me that while I was sleeping, he drove through a speed radar and it displayed his over-the-limit speed along with a frowny-face.

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This was a fun adventure day! All three stops were within an hour of our hotel, so we just did a nice little circle around the area. First stop, Kerið. This was a giant volcanic crater. Not much to do besides walk around it, but for Missouri and Indiana kids, it’s kinda neat.

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Up next? Motherfucking Gullfoss:

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In pictures, it’s not as pretty as it is in the spring or winter, but in person it’s completely overwhelming. Above is the top of the waterfall. Here is how far down it goes:

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The craziest part is that they let you walk on the slick, flat rocks at the very top. This is where I would’ve died if I had worn my adorable yellow boots.

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Our last stop was the Great Geysir, Strokkur. Not really picture-worthy, until the BOOM:

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Strokkur was home to a great lodge that looked like a 60′s Howard Johnson’s, btw. Finally, we headed back to our hotel, Grimsborgir. Look who we found along the way!

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Grimsborgir was an absolute delight. This guy had a towel draped over his forearm almost every time we saw him. He was so nice! (That’s an autographed picture of Bill Cosby behind him.)

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We didn’t just have our own room this night–we had our own little house!

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With Stephie-sized showers! Yay! There was a hot tub outside, but it was right in front of someone else’s window.

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This night was unforgettable because: Eurovision.

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Eurovision is like American Idol except it’s the Olympics. Each European country picks one singer to compete, and then the entire continent votes. We were eating dinner in the hotel’s restaurant when the Icelandic artist sang. The whole room dropped everything they were doing to watch. “It’s Iceland!”, our host said, so proud and happy.

Every song in the competition had been playing on Top 40 radio for a while. We had no idea what was going on at first, so this one was extra confusing. Make sure you wait for the dubstep to kick in:

(If you’ve never been to Europe, the way you felt watching that clip is basically how Europe feels.)

The voting phase was really fun because each country’s version of Ryan Seacrest took turns reading their country’s polling results in broken English. After so many adventures, it was nice to relax and watch some monumental TV. But don’t worry, we did it the American way–by building our own couch:

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FEATURED FOOD OF THE DAY: I didn’t eat anything that unique today, so here’s the paper I read while drinking some afternoon espressso:

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ECSTATIC PICTURE OF JUSTIN OF THE DAY:

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Iceland, Day 3

Mood Music!

On day three, we stuck to one area on the Snafellsnes Penninsula, here:

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Justin made us stop at one of the many, many lava fields along the way. I am too short to get a decent picture of this, but this field felt like it went on forever. It was overwhelming to think about how it must have looked and felt when it first appeared, as well as how old it was. Most of the lava fields are covered in moss today. If it was anywhere else in the world, I would have probably thought about all the death and destruction, but considering how empty Iceland is today, I guarantee it destroyed, at most, two or three huts.  It was so eerie and beautiful!

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Jusrin also planned a stop at Búðir. Apparently, he has always loved this church, so we stopped to take a closer look. I cannot stress enough how beautiful this place was. There were waterfalls dotted along all of the snow-covered mountains. There was an old graveyard out back. The church was surrounded by yet another lava field. And past the lava field, the ocean. Absolutely stunning. Like most places in Iceland, it was empty and we got to appreciate everything alone.

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He was heartbroken that the hotel next door was booked solid when he planned our honeymoon. But I like where we ended up, just down the road at Hellnar. The hotel was adorable, but the best part was just a short walk away: Badstofa sea cave!

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This cave is known for its incredible lighting, thanks to the hole in the top. There were seagulls everywhere. You have to climb over a beach full of pebbles and round rocks the size of basketballs.

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I think this is the day I started thanking Justin profusely for the ugly brown hiking boots that he bought me 12 hours before we left. I had bought these adorable yellow rain boots because I heard that I would need them for the waterfalls and stuff. That was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done. I basically would have died without those hiking boots.

It was impossible to not think you were in The Goonies while standing in that cave. Another thing that added to the childlike, magical vibe of it all? The winding dirt path down the hill and the little cottage that you encounter along the way:

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We saw people eating on the porch, so we knew that it was a restaurant of some sort. The inside was teeny, just two little tables, a counter and tons of traditional Icelandic art. A tiny old woman greeted us and we asked for a menu.

“Oh, I don’t have a menu,” she said in a thick accent. “I have waffles, [something], [something], and fish soup.”

Obviously, I ordered waffles and obviously weirdo Justin ordered fish soup. We also had coffee with real sugar and cream! I gave up all those creepy artificial sweeteners years ago, so I’ve been drinking black coffee for 4 years. I forgot how incredible the real stuff is. Oh, and my waffles had real butter. The best part? They were heart-shaped. Tell me this isn’t the perfect honeymoon picture right here:

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The old woman and the cottage really reminded me of the witch in Hansel and Gretel. Justin and I both whispered this to each other at the same time. Then as we were leaving, we passed two German tourists and heard them whisper, “[Something something] Hansel and Gretel.”

Then we hiked over to the sea cave. I think Justin was about to cry, he was so happy.

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Up next, Lóndrangar! Getting there was quite the journey. We started by climbing a giant hill to get to the
Þúfubjarg cliffs:

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Then we had to climb down this crazy-ass path:

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Here I am whimpering in the face of death:

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THEN we had to hike through this huge lava field along the cliffs. This was taken about halfway through; the hill we climbed down is in the distance. It took over an hour to hike all the way. It was so much fun! This is the day I discovered how much I love hiking.

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Finally, we reached Lóndrangar. These are volcanic plugs. The taller one is from the mid 1700s, the smaller one is from 1938. They’re so old that the volcanic crater that surrounded them has completely eroded.

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This was another time that I felt like I was in some sort of children’s movie, where the evil queen lives:

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I highly recommend hiking as a honeymoon activity. It’s such a great bonding experience!

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Finally, we ended the adventure by seeing a big rock sculpture (not pictured) in a gorgeous fishing village. (Though, it should be noted that basically every village in Iceland is a fishing village.)

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Oh! Longtime readers will love how we ended the day. At the Mall of America, we came across the As Seen on TV store. I told Justin about my old obsession with Kinoki foot pads. He thought it was hilarious so he bought some (what a romantic!), and this was the night that we tried them out! Yay!

I am thrilled to report that the infomercial does not lie. The pads started white and turned completely black and sludgy. (Justin took a picture, but it grosses even me out.) I also felt amazing the next day. Was this because of the detox pads or because honeymoon? I really want to try them again!

FEATURED FOOD: Heart-shaped waffles, duh!

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ECSTATIC PICTURE OF JUSTIN OF THE DAY:

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Iceland, Day 2

Mood Music!

For our second day, we took a Jeep tour of some of the best spots in Western Iceland. To get to our tour guide, we had to drive though a very long, very hot tunnel under the ocean. I did this once when I traveled from London to Paris, but it’s much creepier in a car.

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The other side was gorgeous, though!

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We were dropped off with our official guide at a random gas station. The Jeep was massive. I think I pulled at least three muscles climbing in and out of this thing all day:

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Our first stop was at the hot spring Deildartunguhver. Throughout our trip, we heard about the geothermal aspect of Iceland, but this is one of the few times we experienced it up close. Iceland basically powers their entire country on this stuff. You can bake bread just by sticking the dough in the ground. The steam smelled strongly of sulfur. This is our Viking tour guide:

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Because we went to Iceland during the end of the off season, there wasn’t as much green as you would normally see. However, in places like this and the waterfalls we visited in the south, the moss on the rocks was practically glowing.

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Up next, Hraunfossar. There’s not much to explain; it was just gorgeous. Look at that blue!

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The area included a hiking path. Justin brought 4 cameras to Iceland, 5 counting his phone, so I would often walk ahead of him while he snapped a million pictures. (This is why half of my pictures are of Justin taking pictures.) So I would often come across something amazing, then get to watch Justin turn the corner and react to it, too. When I got to these rapids, I just started laughing at how insane it looked. And when Justin saw them, he laughed too.

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Up next, a glacier! That’s right, a fucking glacier. It’s called Langjokull. I had no idea that we would be driving to–and on–this thing. We were introduced to the power of this Jeep right away when we started driving on roads deemed “impossible.”

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Like, look at this hill. Those other tire tracks are at least a foot deep. I would have trouble walking up this hill, let alone driving. We slid side-to-side like we were on a rollercoaster, but we made it! I can’t believe I didn’t puke. Then we drove up 15 more hills just like it.

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The glacier was 32•F–not cold at all! Here’s my husband on a glacier without a coat:

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There was a group of people camping and para-sailing on the glacier. They were gliding on the snow for what seemed like forever. In hindsight, I wish I had asked them if I could try, but that glacier was no place for an injury. The remoteness was terrifying. Anyway, this guy glided (glid? glode?) by our Jeep on the way out and asked if we wanted some coffee. When we said no, he smiled and just sailed away.

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There were a couple camps on the bottom of the glacier, and even a cottage. Also: sled dogs! I have finally seen sled dogs! They did not look friendly:

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So how does a car drive on ice? By taking some of the air out of the tires. More surface = more traction. Any time we had trouble, he jumped out to let out air and that did the trick. I wonder how people figured this out? When we got back to civilization, we had to stop to put the air back in.

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There are horses everywhere in Iceland. These guys were gorgeous! Our driver pulled over and said, “Would you like to make some friends?” They came over to us right away.

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Look at my handsome husband. Jeez.

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Our driver also moonlights as a camera man for the many films and commercials that are shot in Iceland. You’ve seen the Fjord below a million times, even if you don’t know it. Whenever you see a car weaving around a mountain road near the water in a commercial, it was probably filmed here.

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Finally, we went to Þingvellir! This might be my favorite stop of the whole trip. This is where the tectonic plates for two continents meet. See that giant crack in the earth?

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That’s Europe on the left, America on the right. At one point, Justin and the tour guide left to go find the bathroom, so I was left alone staring at this thing. I felt like I was on the edge of the earth, and I guess technically, I was.

The coolest part about Þingvellir National Park is that you get to walk in the gorge and, if you wander far enough, you can find places where they almost meet. The tour guide actually drove to the other end of the path so that Justin and I could have the whole place to ourselves. That’s right, our own personal tectonic crevice. We both got to stand on two continents at once!

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Oh, just before we went home, we passed this stream and the tour guide said it’s some of the clearest water in the world. All in all, an unforgettable day!

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FEATURED FOOD: Pepperoni Taco. I got it at the gas station.

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ECSTATIC PICTURE OF JUSTIN OF THE DAY:

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Iceland, Day 1

When I was 12, I joined Columbia House (for the first time). I chose my 11 free CDs, but couldn’t find anything else I wanted for my 12th. I browsed through the catalog, and I remember being fascinated by Björk’s Debut – her very weird name, her wild hair, her alien face. I’d like to think that album was the one that cost me a penny. From the first listen, I was in love. Thus began a two-decade love affair with Iceland.  (I faithfully bought every Björk album until the Dancer in the Dark soundtrack–I’ve already watched someone go blind in real life and have no desire to watch it onscreen.)

Mood Music!

When Justin and I first started dating, one of the first things we bonded over was the fact that we both had always wanted to go Iceland. So when he surprised me with this honeymoon, I was ecstatic for a million different reasons. Plus, after 18 months of wedding planning and saving up vacation days, it was well earned. I know that most women look back on their wedding day as the best day of their life, but I prefer to think about Iceland, and traveling around such a gorgeous, weird, fascinating place with my best friend, who was possibly even more excited than me.

There’s waaaaay too much to cover in one entry, so we’re going to do this one day at a time. Well, today you get a bonus day, too.

In order to get to Iceland, we had to fly out of Minneapolis… so we flew in the day prior. We had a whole morning to kill, so we went to Mall of America, which was right down the street from our hotel.

Mall of America is, in fact, very big… but for some reason, it didn’t feel as big as I thought it would. I think that’s because aside from the amusement park in the middle, it’s all very much like a normal mall. There were 4 stories, with several wings on each floor. There were at least 6 different Lids locations. It was pretty hilarious.

We spent 5 hours walking every inch, with a lunch break in the middle. I could write a whole entry about Mall of America, but I’ll sum it up with this picture of an Orange Julius and my favorite purchase:

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The flight to Iceland was only 6 hours. Flights from the US typically leave in the early evening, so you arrive at about 6 in the morning the next day. Iceland Air is wonderful! Also, they waste no time finding a place to land:

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Justin booked everything through a great travel agency called Nordic Visitor, and they sent a driver for us. He held up a sign with our name on it at the airport! We have fucking arrived, folks! He also had one of those cars that runs on trash. Whee!

Because it was our honeymoon and we were ballers, we got the biggest suite in the hotel. A two story room, with the only balcony! It was a great way to kick things off.

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This is where we got to experience our first Icelandic continental breakfast, which I’ve already established was legendary. The hotel restaurant was so cool! These numbers were made out of screws:

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Our waitress looked exactly like Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I was polite enough to not take a picture.

Soooo… Reykjavík. How the hell do I describe Reykjavík? It’s the largest city in Iceland… really, the only city, with 2/3 of the country. But it still feels small. Every building is unique and colorful. Businesses and homes are side by side. The people are so nice and so insanely happy! Everything is so clean, even when it is covered in grafitti. I wanted to stay there forever. I don’t know what else to say.

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Harpa, Iceland’s largest music venue:

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We only saw terrible skateboarders, but there were so many and they were so dedicated:

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A beautiful home (a fireplace in the front yard? Hi.) and their awesome garage:

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Vikings and gnomes were everywhere!

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My favorite spot was The Laundromat Cafe. It was kind of like Rooster in St. Louis… cool decor, crowded, so hip that it might be overrated but who cares? They had free wifi! Woo! Also, delicious food, incredibly nice people and the best hot chocolate of my life, or at least until I realized that everyone in Iceland rocks at making hot chocolate.

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Okay, so, Justin also made me go to the Icelandic Phallological Museum. That’s right, the Penis Museum. You guys, it was so fucking gross. The one guy working there looked exactly like you are imagining he would look. I just wanted to take a shower. Sure, there was hilarious paraphernalia like this:

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… but there were also preserved penises in jars. Like this sperm whale penis, which is taller than me:

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I came across one penis toward the exit of the museum, and I yelled to Justin, “Gross! This one is covered in hair!” Then I looked at the label and yep, it was human. That’s when I screamed, ran into the gift shop and refused to come back. That’s right, the worst part of my honeymoon was a male human penis.

Finally, we visited Hallgrímskirkja, which is the large church in the center of the city. This is where people get all of those famous shots of the colorful roofs. I could have stood up there forever. Reykjavík just makes me so happy!

(After the museum, the shape of this church was a little traumatic.)

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FEATURED FOOD: Hot chocolate! Whee!

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ECSTATIC PICTURE OF JUSTIN OF THE DAY:

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Björk on her home planet (she goes outside around the 2:00 mark):

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The Greatest Wedding of All Time

So … we got married! Honestly, I’m so overwhelmed with the trip to Iceland and all of the organization that comes with wedding gifts … not to mention a wicked sinus infection that I picked up somewhere … that the wedding feels almost like a fever dream or acid trip that I barely remember. Everyone warned me that it would go fast, that I would barely have time to dance or eat or talk to people, that I would have to make an effort to remember things. And wow, they weren’t kidding.

I’ve put together some things I DO remember very well, and in the fine tradition started with Kevin at Jen and Ron’s wedding almost a decade ago, I present:

Stephie’s Top 10 Memories of The Greatest Wedding of All Time

1. The Rehearsal

IMG_0380The wedding rehearsal was a hot mess. Our officiant Røb had stayed up all night practicing for the rehearsal, then took a nap and promptly slept through 99% of it. But I kept trying to remind myself of my theater/choir days: things would turn out okay.

Either way, it was the first time that I had seen my brother’s family, Erin, or Liz in a very long time. We had our very best friends and our entire extended families all in one room. Because Røb wasn’t there until the last 5 minutes, we had plenty of time to catch up with each other. And after a quick run-through, we got to get drunk and eat fried alligator. Yeesssss.

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2. When Justin Saw Me for the First Time

Pre-make-up.

Pre-make-up.

When you’ve worn your make-up the same way for at least a decade, it can be a shock to be made-up a different way. My hair? My hair that I worried about for so long? It turned out perfect. More beautiful than I ever imagined I could look. My dress? Fit like a glove, so comfortable and so adorable. My face, on the other hand, I hated. Looking back on pictures now, I think it looks okay, maybe even pretty, but I almost cried the first time I saw it. I kept asking my bridesmaids if they liked it, praying that they would demand that Kristin change it, but they all said it looked pretty. And when I came out in my dress, they all kind of melted and I almost cried. (P.S. I don’t have this in the list but I would like to mention that we were in a 4-room suite; BALLER.)

IMG_0476I was unsure all the way until the First Look pictures. We took them at this cute building across the street from ours that we’ve always wanted to buy. He stood around the corner from me, and Ben snapped a couple pictures of us holding hands, and then we turned to look at each other. Justin’s face immediately crumpled, his eyes filled with tears, and he softly whispered, “Oh, buddy!” Then I knew everything would be okay. P.S. Justin, in his red bow-tie and sneakers, looked 100% cute and 100% handsome as hell.

3. The Program

IMG_0485Old friends will appreciate this more than new, but Justin put the bridal party into a Brady Bunch picture, and he came up with that idea completely on his own. If that isn’t a sign that he’s the perfect man for me, I don’t know what is.

We listed the wedding party as “The Cast”, the parents and siblings (also parents) as “The Producers”, and made the events look like a TV Guide. Justin coined a new term, “Mom’voyage” to describe the Unity PBJ that we had our moms make, and that word makes me laugh so hard. I was also able to let everyone know that the wedding march music was a tribute to my dad. It was basically perfect.

4. The Wedding March

I first heard this instrumental version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Bold as Love” on a mix CD that Warren gave guests at his wedding. Honestly, the first time I heard it, years before I met Justin, I knew that I would walk down the aisle to this. And when I realized that my dad would not be there to walk with me, there was no talking me out of this idea, but thankfully everyone was game. See, my dad introduced me to Jimi Hendrix when I was in 6th grade. He introduced me to all of the greats. So, as I said in the program, “Since Jim can’t be here today, Stephanie will be escorted down the aisle by their two favorite dudes: [my brother] and Mr. Jimi Hendrix.”

I was determined to hit my mark at the prettiest part at 3:15 and have it fade out when I reached the end of the aisle, and I really thought it would be impossible to do. The rehearsal attempts were a disaster and I pretty much gave up. But then – it worked out perfectly! All the parents and bridesmaids made it down the aisle, the flower girls and ring bearer were hilariously adorable. I almost started walking, and something told me to wait. And then BOOM. I rounded the corner and hit my mark exactly. I had my brother next to me with his colorful medals. I had my “something blue” (and something important) pinned to my bouquet. I saw Steve, Ron and Peter on the ends of the aisles, beaming at me. And of course, my perfect husband at the end.

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5. Røb

JandS-283-XLNot going to lie, we were all worried about Røb after the rehearsal. But damn, he nailed it. It started with a song that I’m going to link to and man, I hope you can see this. (I’ll make a more accessible video eventually.) But from the accordion serenade to the side jokes (“The wedding ring, like the donut …”) to the perfect vows that made me burst into tears (“I Stephanie, take you Justin as you are, to be my companion and my best friend …”) to the very end (shouting “Let’s get drunk!” as we walked down the aisle) … it was flawless. We probably got more compliments about Røb than the actual marriage; it was that great. Plus, because his song was titled, “The Greatest Wedding of All Time,” that’s how people refer to our wedding now. Victory!

Note everyone cracking up in the background.

Note everyone cracking up in the background.

6. Brent’s Speech

945629_951203912806_586270824_nAll of the speeches were amazing and made me tear up (Jen gave a shoutout to Team Papoose), but Brent’s speech was astonishing. It’s probably too personal to print here, but it was hilarious, heartwarming, surprising and unforgettable. And it ended with, “May you have children of average height.”

 

 

 

7. Friends

Obviously, seeing everyone was a big deal, and so many people said things that touch my heart that I’ll remember forever. But some I’ll remember more than others. Like spending tons of time with Steve, Meredith and Janet at a wedding-themed TV Time the night before the wedding. Or when my dear friend Adam told me that he rearranged an entire family reunion (with his 6,000 in-laws) to be there. But especially when I snuck out for a cigarette and Tony handed me a phone … and my dear friend Tim, who has been wrongly imprisoned for over a year for a crime he didn’t commit, was on the other end. He had a phone smuggled into his cell just to call me. I never expected my favorite wedding memory to be me huddled behind Tony while sneaking a smoke and talking to a prison inmate, but marriage can surprise you.

Our gift bag for out-of-town guests.

Our gift bag for out-of-town guests.

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8. Dollar Dance

Most people keep the money for themselves, but Justin and I donated our money to charity. His bucket went to the MS Society and mine went to the Juvenille Diabetes Research Foundation. We collected over $200! But mostly, this is a favorite memory because I got to dance to all of my favorite dudes to the tune of “With A Little Help From My Friends”.

9. Photobooth

The set-up didn’t turn out exactly like we planned, but it was still great and everyone loved it so much. Here’s the full gallery. Designed and built by Justin, run by our friend Ann’s awesome business, Photomaton.

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Justin’s initial mockup. He sewed the curtains himself!


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10. Things Get A Little Pornographic

Again, God, I hope you guys can see this video. I think Sarah has it set to my “Friends of Friends” on Facebook. I’m going to ask her eventually for a file so I can YouTube this shit. But guys, Røb wanted to serenade me with my favorite song, and then he remembered that a million years ago I wrote this blog entry, and Justin thought it was the funniest idea he had ever heard of in his life, and that’s how I got serenaded with “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” on my wedding night by someone who is not my husband, and at one point by an entire room of my friends and family. Sarah’s video perfectly captures Jen and Ron’s laughter, Fritz and Jenny’s dancing, Røb’s flawless performance, and my simultaneous delight and mortification.

Up Next: The Honeymoon! Probably more lists. I am exhausted.

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Engagement Pictures! Hooray!

This was the best day, just wandering around our neighborhood with Ben (Benjamin Trevor Photography).

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Current Mood

            

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“A Man Like That. Where In The Hell Did You Meet A Man Like That?”

So once upon a time, a million years ago (okay, three and a half), I had an awesome birthday party where my friends and I watched The Room. Janet and Courtney, two of my Twin Peaks Club buddies, were in attendance. A few weeks later at TPC, Janet and Courtney were talking about the movie.

“What is that?” asked a tall, quiet guy sitting across the room from me.

I launched into a breathless, hyper description of The Room. Justin told me later that that’s when he started falling for me.

Months later, after we had talked more at TPC, TV Time and other Squid stuff, he organized a covert Room screening at Webster University. We went to a bar for drinks afterward, and he asked me on a date.

Exactly three years later, we went to the Tivoli to meet the writer/director/producer/star himself, Tommy Wiseau!


He brought along his co-star Greg Sestero, and they showed up an hour early to sign autographs. We would have been first in line, but we were like an hour early and left to go get Froyo. We were probably 15th.

Tommy and Greg were AMAZING. They spent at least 5 minutes with everyone who came. We weren’t sure we would be able to do this, but: Justin told them how we met, and we invited them to the wedding!


Greg (who was intimidatingly handsome) seemed genuinely touched and said, “You guys are going to have laughter for your whole lives together.”

And Tommy? Well, Tommy was beside himself, but I think he’s kind of always like that. He told us that he would invite us onstage for the Q&A. Justin and I figured that the whole process was such a whirlwind that he wouldn’t remember. He was still amazing, though. He kept taking things out of our hands to sign, including a DVD, a stuffed dog and the program Justin made for that original screening.


Tommy: Happy …
Justin: Wedding?
Tommy: Nah, that’s cheap.

He ended up writing, “To Justin and Stephanie, Happy life. Love Tommy. P.S. Be good to each other.”

The pug in the tuxedo was a brilliant thing to start selling at Room screenings. It even talks! Appropriately enough, our place in line was in front of the flower shop at the Tivoli.


Tommy was late to the screening because he wanted to spend time with everyone in line. But he finally showed up. Before the Q&A, he told everyone in tuxedos and red dresses to come up front. They played football with a plastic water bottle for prizes. (It makes sense, I promise.) All the people were lined up for questions, too. So we assumed that he forgot. And then:

“Oh, before we begin, I wanted to invite up a beautiful girl, a beautiful couple with a beautiful story. See, I am an actor, I remember things …”

I handed my camera to the guy behind me (after an hour in line, you make friends with people) and we went up front.

“This is a wonderful story; who would like to tell it?” Tommy asked, and I reached for the mic. (Justin told me later he was like OH THANK GOD.) “You have two minutes to tell us. Okay, go.”


So I told the audience the story that I just told you, and ended it with, “And now, because of The Room, we’re getting married!” The whole audience cheered really loud. I don’t remember much else because it’s hard to remember things when you’re on stage in front of hundreds of people. I just remember Tommy and Greg shaking our hands and saying, “Thank you.”


Tommy and Greg were pretty hysterical during the Q&A; if you ever have a chance to see them, do it. At the end, they said, “We will be back someday soon! Somebody already invited us!”

Justin and I decided that since we had that first conversation at TPC, we could technically do the same thing at Twin Peaks Fest. Then we joked that we should go to Comic Con and pull the same gag at every panel to see how many celebs we can meet.

But really, The Room is what brought us together, and because Tommy and Greg were so kind and genuinely happy for us, that night is something we’ll remember fondly forever.

AND we can’t wait to go to another screening in a few years to tell Tommy, “We are expecteeeng!”

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Happy Opening Ceremonies Day From Me ‘N Brent’s Tramp Stamps!

(The moment Brent lifted his shirt, twirled around and yelled, “TWI-IINS!” is probably the hardest I’ve laughed in my entire life.)

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Pleading the Fifth

Man, am I really down to one entry a month? Is that all I have in me? As I get more and more transparent on Facebook, more vulgar on Twitter, more challenged at work and busier at home, I’m finding it harder and harder to find the time, energy, or even reason to have this blog. But 8 years is too long of a commitment to simply stop (especially since it’s an extension of my legendary journal that I started almost TWENTY YEARS AGO OH MY GOD). At least once a year I go through a quiet phase, and maybe this is just that? No matter what, I’ll find a purpose to keeping this alive … even if it’s simply posting journal entries from 1994 so you can all laugh at me.

The running goal is going … so-so. We’re having a heat wave right now (over a week of 100°+ temperatures for the first time since 1988) and even though I run inside year-round, it drains my energy to just be alive in heat like this. However, I think I’ll be able to make it to 100 miles this month. If not, a month and a day. Also, the pain in my calf has finally gone away, so I can stop being one of those creeps who always stretch in public.

The heat is so bad, I was actually relieved to stay indoors and miss all the 4th of July action this year. Though, we did catch a major display from our window. Even though fireworks were banned throughout St. Louis, we could see about 8 simultaneous North City displays from our window. It looked like the end of Fight Club.

Ever since Justin took the citizens class at the Police Academy and learned that gangs have annual picnics, he’s been obsessed, so he was convinced all the fireworks belonged to competing gangs. I even caught him googling “gang fireworks” to prove me wrong. “I think it’s just one of those things that isn’t talked about very much,” he said sadly when the search came up empty.

Also: the Wienermobile! It was parked right in front of my building all day!

Tony’s wedding was incredibly beautiful and insanely fun. Liz and I left the guys at home so we could room together – the first time I’ve seen her in almost three years! Such a great time with all my old friends and Tony’s family – they’ve always treated the whole gang like we’re part of the clan.

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Top 5 Moments of Tony’s Wedding Weekend:

5. Amazing fight between some random couple at the hotel. Liz and I spent at least a half hour perched on a chair with our ears pressed to the air vent.

4. Liz requested Beastie Boys, and all our friends rushed the empty dance floor for “Intergalactic”. After that, the dance floor was packed for the rest of the night.

3. Real North Carolina moonshine! I only took one sip of each flavor. Others weren’t so smart. Others weren’t so lucky. Others were much, much more entertaining.


2. Tony, Liz and I did the Romy & Michelle dance.


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1. The highlight of the night was when Ty’s new girlfriend said, “The thing I love the most about Ty is that he doesn’t fart or take gross poops like other guys.” RECORD SCRATCH. We then spent 10 minutes recalling the best Ty farts (Ty has a PROBLEM) and laughing like this:

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I had never met Alicia before, but we had time to hang out and chat on Sunday morning. Tony’s wife (oh my god, Tony has a wife) has a PhD and is adorable, hilarious, sharp as hell and incredibly sweet. As much as we love Tony, we’re all still in shock.

I was going to see Frank that weekend, too, but then I learned my niece would be in town for one night only. She is speaking in complete sentences!! I have yet to hear her say my name, but she is a total chatterbox and a bundle of energy. 3 hours with her was more exhausting than binge-drinking with my high school buddies for 3 days in a row.

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Finally, since the last time I wrote, I’ve hung out with Ramona One twice. She was crashing at some 43 year-old’s house when he suddenly went crazy. It scared her enough that she went home to her parents and hasn’t done drugs in 4 weeks. I’m glad I waited that long to see her – by the time she got to me, she was the old Ramona. (She still turned into an asshole when we were drinking, but she always turns into an asshole at midnight when she’s drunk. She’s our little Cinderella.) I’m still cautious around her–for example, I hid all my prescriptions pills when she came over–but it was nice to have my old best friend back for a night or two.

She’s finally back with her husband and kid, though the 43 year-old is still writing stalker emails to her every day. At one point, he was writing to me, too–and was really pissed when I wouldn’t take his side. She forwards all the emails to me–half of them are threatening and the other half are like, “I MISS UR TOUCH.” It’s really sad when a 43 year-old uses phrases like “no DRAMA” and “snotty backtalker”. (I am the snotty backtalker.) It’s also really, really funny when a drug dealer tells you that he’s praying for you. Anyway. The other Ramona and I are on better terms, but as you can see, one is more than enough right nah.

Wedding stuff: collecting addresses and working with my friend Ben (not photographer Ben) on the Save the Dates! We’re also playing with art supplies and brainstorming centerpieces.

Just chugging along.

 

See you next month.

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You Talkin’ To Me?

Justin was playing with a fancy million-dollar camera and this happened:


And then I was playing with my free-with-purchase software and this happened:

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Freshers by Stephie

I doubt I’ll have time to write before we leave early tomorrow (unless Justin gets locked into another Nintento RBI Baseball vortex), so I wanted to leave at least a tiny new entry before I embark on my Amish Thanksgiving.

My co-workers and I sometimes get together after work to draw Free Crappy Portraits. The site sends you a picture, you draw some crap and send it back.

They sent our friend Doug a picture to draw. But, uh, Doug isn’t real? Doug is the fake Facebook twin brother of my friend Ben. Doug is a long story.

So here’s the free crappy portrait I drew for Doug.

(I almost drew the guy in the sheik costume laying in a pool of blood, with a thought bubble that said, “I’m dead because I’m racist”)

Sorry for the long break. I’m still recovering from my Felicity marathon and I love torturing Ron. Also, I’m still adjusting to life as a person with glasses. I got my first sexy librarian comment yesterday. Who the fuck says shit like that? Who cares? I love my glasses!

P.S. I forgot to tell you that at my new job, we have a Halloween Pet Parade. WHAT? YES:

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My Taylor Swift Moment

Well, Taylor Swift plus a temporary crick in my neck. That girl is like 5 inches shorter than Justin, whereas I am wearing 3 inch heels in that picture and still look ridiculous. She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts, etc. etc.

Photo by TV Time cohort and fellow Squid Ann Hubbard.

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The Tamis

Finally, the Napa Valley recap that tens–literally, tens!–of you have been waiting for!

My inspiration for my trip to Napa was the most fabulous wine drinker of them all, Ms. Tami Taylor of Friday Night Lights.

Tami is always drinking these massive glasses of white wine (which is never acknowledged on the show but certainly online), and if I ever have to be a wino, I want to be her.

As my own personal Sasha Fierce, I’m awarding all these wineries with Tami in mind. Hence, The Tamis.

Ready, y’all?

Best View (and nothing else): Artesa

Artesa was the first winery we stumbled across. It was gorgeous on the outside but pretty pretentious, cold and quiet on the inside. It looked like an art gallery, and not the kind where my friends have art shows. The fact that we had been on a plane since 6 in the morning may have had something to do with our disapproval.

Most Expensive Meal (and Mostly Worth It): The Culinary Institute

I had a $29 steak, and it was worth every penny! It was a beautiful place, too. But surprisingly, this wasn’t the best meal we had.

Most Personalized Tasting: Cakebread

We liked the tasting and tour at Cakebread because it was just us and our guide, surrounded by chilly barrels. I would recommend this tour on a very hot day.

Most Touristy: Robert Mondavi

Robert Mondavi is one of the few wineries that I actually recognized from the label … and I think everyone else in Napa felt the same way, since there were tons of tourists running around with cameras. The vibe was so touristy that we didn’t even stay for a tasting, though we did stay long enough to pose with the naked statue.

Most Likely Place To Get Sex-Murdered: Raymond

Raymond really tripped us up. On the outside, it was very traditional and family-oriented–in fact, there was a Father’s Day barbecue happening when we got there. But on the inside, there was this dark “Eyes Wide Shut” room covered in steel, crystal, and mannequins in lingerie hanging from the ceiling. We probably would have run out of there if our guide wasn’t the same girl from Cakebread.

Best Ivy (and Nothing Else): Grgich Hills

Very pretty, but very boring. Our guide knew someone else in our group and kind of ignored the rest of us. Also, we asked this old guy if he would take a picture of us, and he said “no”, forcing us to mock him for the rest of the trip.

Most Beautiful: Domaine Chandon

This was a sparkling wine winery on the most stunning property, surrounded by plants and art. This was personally my favorite winery. Unfortunately, this is also where the day’s wine started to kick in, and Serena and I decided to nap in the van for a half hour. It was so breezy and gorgeous that it was worth it, but sadly we missed a boyfriend/girlfriend fight. Bummer!

Best Tour: Rubicon

Possibly tied for my favorite was Rubicon, Francis Ford Coppala’s estate. Our guide Lewis was so awesome. He recommended a place for dinner and even called the owner to reserve a table for us. The gift shop was like wandering though Anthropologie. And the tour was amazing! Rubicon (which will soon return to its original name, Inglenook) has such a rich history–the fact that the Coppolas own it turned out to be one of the most boring parts of the story! Also, I like Rubicon because they make a Riesling–it’s my favorite wine and it rarely grows in Napa, which saved me from a lot of hangovers. Amazing place.

$125 stone cheeseboard that I wanted so bad.

Most Missouri-Like: V. Sattui

From the crowds to the barbecue to the shady trees to the long picnic benches, this place made us feel like we were back home at the wineries in Augusta. Plus, there was a packed Italian deli inside, which reminded us of The Hill. Loved it!

Most Money Spent in 15 Minutes: Baksheesh

Most of you know that I’m not much of a jewelry person. It looks decent enough on other girls, but personally I think most jewelry out there is ugly. HOWEVER, this place Baksheesh was recommended to us. We were in a hurry and only had 15 minutes or so to shop … and you guys, I was in heaven. Every necklace, every bag, every knick knack, and even every pair of earrings–Me! Earrings!–was gorgeous. I blew through that place like a tornado and spent so much that I got a free tote bag. Fair Trade jewelry, y’all. I’ve found my calling. I’m already saving money for a shopping spree at a similar shop here. I mean, I was so happy that I sprouted crows feet:

Oh, we stopped by an outlet mall the next day, and I found like 6 great tops at Banana Republic. Somehow, on a trip with 6 chicks, I was the most impressive shopper of the bunch? I blame the wine (and Tami Taylor).

Sweetest Ride: Bessie

She’s a stow and go!


Honorable Mention goes to this student driver vehicle:

Most Baller: Carpe Diem Wine Bar

Remember when I said Lewis got us a table here? Well, holy crap. All the food here was amazing. Jane and I  both ate an Ostrich Burger with Truffle Fries. We were all so stuffed by the end that we shared desert: a flambe chocolate banana concoction called the Happy Ending. Yes m’am. The co-owner Steve stopped by our table with free glasses of Innocent Bystander wine from Australia, and later Lewis stopped by to say hi, too!

And finally …

The Tami Taylor Award for Excellence: Domaine Carneros

We stopped by Domain Carneros on our first day, and we loved it so much that we made it our last winery visit, too. This is the place where we got the church giggles and laughed at everything from the “long creamy finish” to “semi-hard and semi-soft cheeses”. It went so far that Kendra asked our waiter Brandon to give us “equal amounts of head” when pouring our drinks. Immature? You betcha. But I have never laughed so hard in my entire life. We tortured our waiter Richard on the last day in a similar fashion. We loved that the patio had a gorgeous view, was quiet enough to sit and talk, and they had wine and cheese samplers for people who love red wine (Jane, Kendra and Jenny) and people who love sweet, sparkling whites (Ginger, Serena and me). Highly recommended; I get a little homesick just writing about it. Both of these visits were probably the most fun the six of us had in Napa.


And that’s it! I want to thank Kendra again for putting this together (and driving all weekend)! From beginning to end, it was such a fabulous time that I will never forget.

(P.S. If you’re my Facebook friend or friend-of-friend, you can see all my pictures there!)

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A Long, Creamy Finish*

How do I sum up Napa? It’s been so long since I’ve been on a legit vacation that I’m a little out of practice. And man, I forgot how great a vacation feels. I’m tan, relaxed, well fed, and happy after so much quality time with good friends. Honestly, I haven’t had such a great trip since my weekend trips all over Europe in 2001.

Oh and I’m debt free, at least as far as the trip is concerned–I saved up tons of money before I left so I could spend as much cash as I wanted without worrying about my budget or getting hit with a massive credit card bill later. It’s the only way I’ll travel.

I roomed with Jane and Ginger, who are both so easy going and hilarious. Kendra is of course a rock star (both for her planning/driving, and being awesome overall) and new-to-me friends Serena and Jenny were both sweet and so much fun. (Serena especially has the most infectious giggle I’ve ever heard.)

I ended up running 12 miles (though, the 7 miles on Father’s Day were mostly therapy), bringing my June total to 65 so far. I’m slacking tonight to go to the Botanical Gardens, but I’ll be back on track (or rather, treadmill) tomorrow. I thought I would return home with some extra fat, but I’m basically the same as when I left. I suffered through three–THREE!–charley horses one night, but a banana split the next day cleared that right up. SCIENCE!

We went to 9 wineries (10 if you count a return to our favorite), 2 incredible restaurants (the rest weren’t that notable), 2 awesome shopping joints, and we spent about an hour at various spots around the Golden Gate Bridge.

Oh! And I flew over the Grand Canyon! The last time that happened was in 1993 when my family took a little plane tour and I barfed through the entire thing.

I have to leave to go to the Gardens, but I think tomorrow or Friday I’ll give out some awards to the places we visited and share more specific memories and stories.

*We got non-stop church giggles during some of our tastings from all the innuendos. In fact, I’d say we were downright perverted, and this means a lot coming from me considering the fact that I lived with frat boys for five years.

 

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I Found A Boy

What a weird week. I can’t even.

Unrelated to the weirdness (or at least a separate strain), you would not believe the crazy-ass puppet show going on in my loft right now.

He’s shooting the final shots all this weekend and working his ass off to finish this by Sunday. I’m going to surprise him with Elvis Costello tickets cuz I love him SHHH DON’T TELL.

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