Friendship

What I’m Into: July 2016 Edition

In July, I jumped full-swing into my new job, planned and cooked what felt like 1,000 meals that are Whole30 compliant (today is day 28!!!!), and drove all over the Carolinas trying to visit friends before summer ends. I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share this post.

What I’m Reading:

When my stress level is high (and when I have long solo drives and access to audiobooks) I escape into reading, and this month I read 12 books. I’ll mention all of the titles, but won’t go into much detail or this will get crazy-long.

All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher. Quirky family drama about the eccentric Rockwell women. Funny and heartwarming. 3.75 Stars

Who Do You Love? By Jennifer Weiner. I like some of Jennifer Weiner’s books, but this one was a bit of a slog to me. Rachel Blum and Andy Landis meet when they are eight years old. Then they spend the next 30 years falling in and out of each other’s lives. 2 Stars.

No One Knows by J.T. Ellison. This thriller starts on the day that Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead, five years after he disappeared. But things may not be what they seem. Fast-paced summer read. 3 Stars

Furiously Happy: a Funny Book about Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson. Jenny Lawson writes comic essays about serious things. In this book, she tackles elements of life with mental illness. Her sense of humor is irreverent and isn’t for everyone, but some of the serious moments were really poignant. 3 Stars.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda. Another summer thriller about two girls who disappear from the same small town 10 years apart. The story is told backwards over a 15 day period. At first I thought this was gimmicky, but in the end I liked it. 3.5 Stars.

Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi. Lakshmi writes (very well) about her life in India, as an immigrant in America, as a model in Europe, as the wife of Salman Rushdie, and as a judge on Top Chef. In each part of her life, food plays an important role. I actually loved this, especially for Lakshmi’s honesty, even when it portrayed her unflatteringly. The food writing was great and her experiences were fascinating. 4 Stars.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. Sweet story about a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl living in Seattle, Washington just as America enters WWII. Henry’s father hates the Japanese and forbids Henry to have anything to do with them, but Henry forms a strong bond with Keiko, the only other non-white person at his school. When she and her family are rounded up and moved to an internment camp, Henry vows to bring her home. 4.5 Stars.

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes. Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder, writes about the year she challenged herself to say yes to all the things that scared her and embrace the opportunities that came her way. She writes just like Olivia Pope and Annaleise Keating speak, so that’s fun, especially on audio. 3.5 Stars.

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood. This was great. 104-year-old Ona Vitkus is alone in the world until an 11-year-old boy scout is sent to help her out. Ona tells him about her life and he shares his encyclopedic knowledge of world records. One day, the boy stops showing up. In his place is his father, Quinn, there to fulfill his son’s obligation. Together, Ona and Quinn teach each other above love and regret. 5 Stars.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. Twenty-two year old Tess moves to New York City and becomes a waiter at a prestigious restaurant. She is exposed to the intoxicating world of the restaurant business as well as some of its darker character. So much cocaine. So many dysfunctional relationships. I wasn’t connected to the character but there was great atmosphere in the restaurant and food writing parts. 3 Stars.

Rising Strong by Brene’ Brown. The follow-up to Daring Greatly, this book explores the process of how we get up again once we’ve fallen on our faces and why vulnerability is still the way forward. Not necessarily a fun book, but an important one. 4 Stars.

Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I loved this multi-generational story of three Indian women (and the other people whose lives intersect with theirs) whose stories of running from the mothers who can’t understand them, reveals how little we often know about what’s really going on in the lives of others. 4 Stars.

Currently Reading: Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal and A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Gamache #2) by Louise Penny. Follow me on Goodreads for more of what I’m reading.

What I’m Watching:

I binge-watched Season 2 of Jane the Virgin when it hit Netflix. I love this show so much. But I have no idea if I’m team Michael or team Rafael. It changes constantly.

What I’m Eating:

Jonathan and I are on day 28 of Whole30 which is no grains, no dairy, no sugars, no soy, no artificial flavors, additives, or preservatives. The good part of this is detoxing from 3 weeks of pasta and pizza and gelato (and many previous months of not eating as well as we could). The hard part is that it takes a lot of work and planning to eat three Whole30 compliant meals every day and it has more or less killed our social life because it is very hard to eat out or eat at a friend’s house. You have to read the label on everything you eat and it matters what oils things are cooked in, etc. We are beyond ready to be done. At this point I would say I will continue to eat this way more or less when cooking at home, but I don’t think I’ll ever do Whole30 again. It’s like living life in black and white.

I did find some really delicious new recipes though. My favorite has been this pan-seared mahi-mahi over coconut cauliflower rice with fresh mango salsa. Recipe here. Follow me on Pinterest for more of what I’m eating.

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What I’ve Been Up To:

Right after returning from our trip, I took the 4th of July weekend to fly down to Louisiana and visit my family, specifically my sister Anni who was about to leave to study abroad in Australia for the semester.

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We spent a significant amount of our time reading in her bed. Seesters.

The next weekend, Jonathan and I drove to Raleigh to visit my best friend from college, Christina, and her husband Andy who recently bought their first house. We also got to see our friends Nathaniel and Jerusha while we were there. We stayed with Andy and Christina overnight on Friday and while we were there, our mutual friend Asharae (who lived with Christina and me during college) went into labor in Charlotte. Asharae and her husband Tim had chosen not to find out their baby’s gender before the birth, so Christina and I were eagerly awaiting the news. The minute we heard they’d had a healthy baby boy, we raced out to buy tiny baby boy clothes for him.

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The next day, Jonathan and I were able to go to Charlotte to visit Asharae and Tim in the hospital and to meet tiny Beckett Elijah. My heart is so full for these sweet friends.

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Sweet Little Family

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Ecstatic Auntie and Uncle!

The following weekend I got to help throw a baby shower for Kelly, another dear friend of mine here in Columbia expecting a son in September. I Pinterest-ed a recipe for cake pops which turned out mostly well except that the candy melts I used for the coating kept turning out too thick, so the coating wouldn’t go on smoothly.

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How cute is Kelly?! And also that alligator towel.

I also got to spend an afternoon at the zoo with my friend Kristen and her boy, Callum. My favorite part was the gorillas who, like me, were totally over it.

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I took a solo overnight trip to Wilmington, NC where I got to see one of my best friends from home in Louisiana who lives in a charming house there with her handsome firefighter husband, their massive dog Grizz, and their new Dalmatian puppy, Koda. She is one of those friends that I can reconnect with immediately, even if it’s been months since we’ve talked. We tried to go to the beach, but it was too crowded, so instead we bopped around town and looked for secondhand bargains.

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Last week, Jonathan’s parents came to visit for a few days. It’s been near 100 degrees here every day all summer, so we are limited on how much activity we can do, but we enjoyed playing board games and talking.

This past weekend while Jonathan was working at the baseball park I took another short solo trip up to Stanfield, NC, the town outside of Charlotte where Asharae, Tim, and baby Beckett live.

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Beckett has epic hair.

My new job involves me finding host families for our international students, arranging their transportation and move-in, organizing a week-long orientation, and teaching ESL class once school begins on August 18th. Since my students start arriving this weekend, I know the month of August will be a crazy one, which is why I’ve made it a priority to see my friends over the past few weeks, even if it means traveling every weekend.

I’m still working on telling all of our travel adventures. Parts 1 and 2 are up already, but look for Part 3 about our time in Rome in the next few days!

What have you been into?

 

 

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What I’m Into: April 2016 Edition

And… somehow it’s May. I have one month of tutoring/subbing left in the school year and Jonathan finished his first year of grad school yesterday. It is incomprehensible to me that we’ve been back from Korea for 8 1/2 months and that Jonathan is now 1/3 of the way through his program. This is somewhat terrifying since it means we are only two years away from having to figure out what to do next. Again. (!)

As always, I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into this month.

What I’m Reading:

Still Life by Louise Penny. I’ve been hearing about Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series for a while now and I finally picked up the first one. These books were recommended to me based on my enjoyment of mystery writers like Kate Atkinson whose mysteries are less about suspenseful procedures and more about character development. I enjoyed this first book, but I did find it to be a little slow for a mystery. I’ve heard that Penny really hits her stride with these by book 4 or so, and I plan to continue them at some point. I loved the setting in a rural town in Quebec. My reading this month had a bit of a French theme and it was fun to have that element in this book as well.
Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman. I mostly enjoyed this book, but I admit to some skepticism about the author’s generalizations about what “the French”  or “French parents” do. I was also amused that the “wisdom of French parenting” was mostly things that seem like complete common sense to me –how do French parents get their babies to sleep through the night at such an early age? They use the revolutionary “pause” technique, otherwise known as waiting five minutes to see if the baby is just waking up between sleep cycles and will fall back asleep on its own or if it actually needs something. It’s comical to me that this is a method because it seems so obvious to me, but I know there are parents who feel that letting a baby cry, even for as short a time as 5 minutes, is cruel. I did especially appreciate the parts about how French parents cultivate an appreciation for a wide variety of foods and don’t have picky eaters. If I ever have kids, we are not doing the separate kid’s meals of chicken nuggets and boxed mac and cheese every night. The thing I appreciated most about this book was the examination of how French parents (or at least the ones the author observed) value continuing to develop as adults after they’ve had kids instead of letting their kids take over everything in their lives.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. My book club read this book for our April meeting and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s a World War II book that manages to be completely different from any other WWII book I’ve ever read (which is saying a lot). It tells the story of two sisters living in occupied France. Vianne fights for the survival of herself and her young daughter while her husband is held prisoner and a surprisingly kind  German soldier moves into her home. She is forced to question her own loyalties and the line between playing nice to protect her daughter and standing up for what’s right. Meanwhile, her impulsive sister Isabelle is willing to risk everything to feel like she is doing something valuable for the war effort. She becomes involved with the resistance in bold and dangerous ways. Isabelle thinks Vianne is passive and Vianne thinks Isabelle is reckless and irresponsible, but each of them is fighting in the only way they know how.
 
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors, but this is my first experience reading her nonfiction. This book recounts her family’s year-long experiment in eating locally during which they grew most of their own food on their farm and committed to purchasing things they couldn’t provide for themselves from local farmers in their community. One of the coolest parts of this book is that it’s a family collaboration with sidebars written by Kingsolver’s scientist husband, and menus and recipes provided by Kingsolver’s 19-year-old daughter Camille. Kingsolver doesn’t expect everyone to be able to make the radical change to subsistence farming, but she encourages small changes that add up to a big difference for the environment and for local economies.
The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. I’d had a hold on this one from the library for several months and my turn finally came. It was worth the wait. Tom Sherbourne has returned from four years on the Western Front to take a position as a lighthouse keeper on a remote island off the coast of Western Australia. He brings his young, vivacious wife Isabel out to the island with him where they live an isolated existence where their only company is a supply boat that comes from the mainland once a season. Isabel’s greatest dream is to be a mother, but her body seems unable to cooperate. After two miscarriages and one stillbirth, she has given up hope, when a boat carrying a dead man and a living infant washes up on the shore. Isabel sees this as a gift from God and insists that the mother must be dead as well and that they should keep the baby, against Tom’s better judgment. The couple raises Lucy as their own for several years until they return to the mainland and discover that their child’s real mother is very much alive and devastated by the loss of her daughter. Tom and Isabel must decide what is right and whose happiness carries the most weight.
Currently Reading: How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway, Landline by Rainbow Rowell, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales from a Happy Life Without Kids by Jen Kirkman, The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
Follow me on Goodreads for more of what I’m reading.

What I’m Watching:

This month I finished watching How to Get Away with Murder, which Jonathan has grown disenchanted with, but I am still interested in. I also discovered that there was a new season of Call the Midwife on Netflix which I didn’t even know existed. I LOVE that show, so that’s been a fun discovery. Another British show I’m enjoying is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries which is about a lady detective solving mysteries in the 1920’s. I think it’s set in Australia? I’m not totally sure because the characters have different accents. Either way, it’s fun!

What I’m Eating:

I am attempting to eat very healthy in preparation for our trip next month (see Exciting News 2 below).

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To get myself excited about eating really healthy, I have to look for new and intriguing recipes to try. A current favorite in our house is these turkey meatballs over zucchini noodles (zoodles!). Plus the colors are just gorgeous.

I also made this crockpot Korean beef for a friend’s baby shower this past weekend. It was a vintage travel themed shower with foods from around the world. This was super simple and a big hit!

Follow me on Pinterest for more recipes!

On the Internets:

Loved this post from Sarah Bessey on resurrection.
My friend, Briana, has been hitting it out of the park with her posts at Off the Page:
My friend Meredith’s piece over at You Are Here Stories anticipating the birth of her (now newly arrived!) daughter.
I also really enjoyed this hilarious song from Flight of the Conchords called “Woo a Lady.” It’s not a new song, I just had never heard it before. The sound quality on this video isn’t great, but if you use headphones you should be able to catch the lyrics, which are hysterical.

What I’m Writing:

Nothing except for articles for Modernize, which are backlogged so not many have been published. I did share this piece on de-cluttering using the Kon Mari Method  and this piece on Modern Style 101.

What I’ve Been Up To:

Working. All the time. When you have five different jobs, there is always something to do. Most recently, Jonathan and I got jobs working at the new minor league baseball stadium in town. We work as club level and suite servers for the people who are fancy enough to rent out suites, though last week I ended up working in a beer booth pouring beers and working the cash register. It was extremely busy, but I made great tips, so I’m not mad. Although my uniform of a polo shirt tucked into khakis with a belt does make me look like a chubby zoo keeper.
We spent most of our April weekends in Charlotte for one reason or another. At the beginning of the month we took a last-minute Friday night drive up to meet up with friends from college who we hadn’t seen for years. They were in Charlotte for an event and it was great to catch up with them and meet their adorable kids.
The next weekend we went back to Charlotte to spend time with our good friends, Brandon and Christy. We ate ridiculous amounts of cheese while listening to live music, and did some shopping at the outlet mall. We also stayed up way too late playing board games and waiting for the boys to stop playing FIFA so we could go to sleep.
The following weekend was meant to be relaxing, but Jonathan ended up having a weird eye-related emergency that we spend most of Sunday sorting out, so it didn’t go quite as planned. (He’s recovering nicely, by the way).
This past weekend was a long-awaited reunion with my college roommates as well as a baby shower for one of the roomies, my dear friend Asharae. It was so wonderful to see everyone and to get to shower Ash and her husband with love and support as we anticipate their sweet baby. Sure, we talked and laughed nonstop for 3 days and it was exhausting and my voice is still all scratchy, but it was totally worth it!
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I’ve also finally started running again which I’m really enjoying. I’m up to about seven miles and was considering a half marathon in June, but have decided to hold off on race training – there is so much going on in the month of May that it’s hard to make the time commitment. I will still be running though! I absolutely love running through the neighborhoods around my house, even though we’re basically having summer weather already (80’s – 90’s).

Exciting News:

I’m being offered a job that I actually really want. I haven’t signed a contract yet, so I don’t want to share all of the details yet, but it’s probably the first job I’ve ever gotten that I’m genuinely excited about.It involves working with international students and seems like a perfect fit for me. It’s a part time job (4.5 hrs/day) but it will be consistent and that will be good.

Exciting News 2:

After much deliberation about whether or not we could make this work, we have taken the plunge and booked a trip to Europe in June. (Well, more accurately, to Italy and Paris with some brief stops in Istanbul and Athens). This trip is something I’ve been dreaming about literally since I was a child and something Jonathan and I have talked about doing together since before we were married. I can hardly believe it’s actually happening and I get all weepy with joy when I talk about it.
How did April treat you? What have you been into lately?

Fifty-two Weeks of Adventure #50: Christmas Feast

In spite of the 70 degree weather we’ve experienced here in Columbia this week, Christmas is only two weeks away. Since this is the first Christmas we’ve spent in the US in 3 years, we’ve been trying to make the most of Christmas festivities.

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The Dunn House is ready for Christmas.

We've got our stockings up and everything!

We’ve got our stockings up and everything!

On Saturday night we drove to our friends Asharae and Tim’s home outside of Charlotte. Asharae was one of my college roommates and she and her husband are fantastically talented wedding photographers and videographers and all around terrifically creative and incredibly sweet people. We take it as a clear act of grace that we now live a mere 2 hr drive from them.

Asharae and Tim hosted a Christmas party for their friends which included Brandon and Christy, who live in Charlotte and have visited a few times this fall , and also a whole slew of new acquaintances.

This party was so festive. There were Christmas decorations and holiday beverages and party foods and Christmas movies and cookies to decorate. Brandon wore a pair of excellent green velour shorts with jingle bells on them that I think we sadly failed to get proper photo documentation of.

Check out that gorgeous centerpiece!

Check out that gorgeous centerpiece!

Concentrating on the decorations.

Concentrating on the decorations.

Queen Frostine. Get it?

Queen Frostine. Get it?

Moments like these are the ones that make me so glad to be back in the US sharing these moments with people who are dear to us. I miss the excitement and glamor of life abroad, but there is something sacred and special about sharing these moments with the people we love. 12360250_10100345764262652_9103981593181293596_n

Tomorrow Jonathan’s family is coming to stay with us for a few days and next week we will head down to Louisiana to spend Christmas with my family. It’s hard to believe that there are only two adventures left in this year that has been so very full.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure about my grown up birthday celebration at the zoo, you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure #49: A Real Adult Birthday

This past Friday was my 28th birthday. Naturally, I wanted what any mature nearly 30-year-old would want for her birthday. To go to the zoo and have a sleepover with my best friend.

I woke up before Jonathan did to tutor on Friday morning, but he had decorated the kitchen the night before so I’d be greeted by birthday magicalness when I woke up. It was a good way to start the day.

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I received some lovely and thoughtful gifts from my parents, in-laws, and the hubby. My favorite gifts was probably the Marc Jacobs lipstick and roller ball of Viktor and Rolfe Flowerbomb perfume that Jonathan gave me. These are both such luxurious, splurge items that I kind of just want to use them and not look at them. I put them on on Friday and went around feeling fancy and sophisticated.

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And then I noticed that I had dried toothpaste in my hair from spitting during my morning toothbrushing. You win some, you lose some.

On Saturday my best friend from college, Christina, and her new husband, Andy, came to visit from Raleigh. This was the first time I’ve seen them since their wedding in September and the first time I’ve really hung out with them together because they met and got engaged while we were in Korea and got married a few weeks after we got back.

Christina is maybe even more obsessed with zoos than I am so she was as excited as I was to visit a new one. I have to say, the Riverbanks Zoo here in Columbia is a pretty good one. I mean, they have your standard animals, but they also have a lot of strange species I’d never seen before.

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Columbia has a a lot of locally owned restaurants we want to try, but we typically eat at home so we haven’t had a chance to try as many of them as we would like. For my birthday dinner we went to Mr. Friendly’s New Southern Food, which sounds like a cheap plate lunch restaurant but is in fact a nice place with some of the yummiest food I’ve had in a long time. I had some sort of catfish topped with crawfish in a cream sauce with vegetables and I don’t even know what else. It was seriously delicious but for some reason I failed to take any pictures. Actually, the only pictures we took together were in the Lorikeet cage at the zoo.

From Mr. Friendly’s we went to Kaminsky’s which is a dessert cafe that serves the most massive and amazing desserts you’ve ever seen. I had the giantest piece of coconut cream cake that was basically the size of 3 -4 normal pieces of cake. It was amazing.

After dessert we waddled home and played one of my favorite board games, Nuns on the Run. If you are a big board game person, you should check out this game. It’s very fun and also has a hilarious premise.

One of the unique things about living in Korea is that they count age differently than the rest of the world. When a baby is born it is automatically 1 year old, so everyone is already considered 1 year older than they actually are. On top of that, people don’t get older on their birthdays. Instead, everyone gets older together on January 1st. This means that everyone born in the same year is always the same age. Between these two things, I spent most of the last year telling people I was 29 because that was my Korean age, so when I turned 28 this week I actually felt like I was getting younger.

Thanks to everyone who sent sweet birthday wishes my way and made me feel so loved.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure about Thanksgiving and teaching Grandma about TMI, you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure #46: Sparkletown and Friendsgiving

One of the coolest things about ending up in Columbia, SC is how close it is to so many of our friends who for a variety of random reasons live in the Carolinas. Three of my five college roommates live North or South Carolina, my best friend from high school lives in Wilmington, NC , Jonathan’s best friend growing up lives in Charlotte, NC, and my best lifelong friend lives in Spartanburg, SC, about 1 1/2 hours from us. It’s crazy.

This past weekend I went to visit my friend Leigh in Spartanburg, otherwise known as Sparkletown. Leigh works at her alma mater, Wofford College, which is probably the nicest part of Spartanburg. To be fair, Columbia isn’t all that much to look at either, so it’s not like I had a lot to compare it to, but Spartanburg is the quintessential small town in the South.

It was an exquisitely beautiful fall day, something we appreciate more than ever after it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, and we chose to take advantage of the great outdoors with a stroll through Glendale Mills, an abandoned mill site that now houses projects for  the Wofford environmental sciences  program. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place and I really enjoyed doing something a little out of the ordinary.

In the afternoon we went to RJ Rockers Brewery, a cool microbrewery where I had beer that tasted like s’mores. Delicious.

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The next day I headed back to Columbia just in time for Friendsgiving, a Thanksgiving dinner for the people in Jonathan’s program (and me! And a couple other significant others). We had turkey and stuffing and all of the best side dishes plus sweet breads and pies. It was a lot of fun. Plus yummy. It reminded me of the last two Thanksgiving dinners we had while in Korea when we crowded close to 20 people into our friend MJ’s 300 sq ft apartment and feasted on amazingly close approximations of our favorite holiday foods. Even though we’ll get to have Thanksgiving with family this year, I’m glad we had a Friendsgiving too. It’s starting to feel like a tradition.

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If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure which includes a photo tour of our new place, you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure # 39: My Best Friend’s Wedding

Last week I had the absolute privilege of being the Matron of Honor in my best friend’s wedding. My sweet Christina lived with me through all four years of college, stood in my wedding,  moved to Raleigh at the same time we did, and later flew all the way to South Korea to visit us. After my family, she is the person I love most in the world.

Reverse roles - Christina as Maid of Honor and me as the bride

Reverse roles – Christina as Maid of Honor and me as the bride.

One of my most favorite pictures of the two of us.

One of my most favorite pictures of the two of us from when we ran the Disneyworld Marathon in 2012.

Christina is one of those girls who has it all – beauty, brains, humor, kindness, and a love for adventure – and yet for some inexplicable reason she was still single after many of our friends were married. This was hard sometimes, but Christina was always gracious about it. So when she met Andy last summer and it quickly became clear that this was a serious thing I couldn’t have been happier for her. Well, I would have been a little happier if this huge life event (meeting the ONE and getting engaged) hadn’t happened while I was on the other side of the world, but that’s just my selfishness talking.

See what I mean? You can totes tell they want to be together forever.

Right after Christina and Andy got engaged. The love is real, people.

The weeks and days before the wedding were stressful, like many weddings are, with more than their fair share of double-booked venues, botched dress alterations, and a million little details that seemed like they would never come together, but the stress of this wedding was compounded by the fact that Christina’s dad was very sick throughout the whole process. He passed away just two months before the wedding and she had to accept the unthinkable – that her dad wouldn’t be there to walk her down the aisle. So. Many. Feelings.

I left Columbia on Wednesday to head to Raleigh for the beginning of the wedding festivities. On Wednesday night we had a little bachelorette party with  mostly local friends which included copious amounts of fondu and the most classic of all bachelorette activities – mini golf.

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Thursday was rehearsal day and the first half of the day was absolute chaos. In an effort to be helpful I made several trips to the airport, to the craft store, and to pick up food and drinks to make sure the bride-to-be remembered to eat. One of the most fun things about this wedding was that the other women in the wedding party were also some of my best friends, so it was roommate reunion all over again.

Rehearsing. PS- Isn't this church fabulous?

Rehearsing. PS- Isn’t this church fabulous?

Rehearsal dinner with so many fabulous people!

Rehearsal dinner with so many fabulous people!

Aside from the weather (which was pouring down rain all day for several days)  everything from the rehearsal on Thursday night onward flowed like a dream and suddenly it was late Friday afternoon and we were zipping her into her dress and adjusting her veil and holding our bouquets and walking down the aisle to stand at the front of the church as Christina and Andy became a family.

Garter time.

Garter time.

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Isn’t she the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? Also, the matching robes were a bridesmaid’s gift. Adorbs.

Christina's sister, Lori, sister-in-law, Anna, and niece/flower girl, June. Does that tutu just kill you?

Christina’s sister, Lori, sister-in-law, Anna, and niece/flower girl, June. Does that tutu just kill you?

I cry at all weddings. Weddings of people I know and weddings of strangers and weddings of characters in movies. There is something about that moment when the bride steps onto the aisle and she is radiant and gloriously happy and the groom’s eyes (and everyone else’s) are locked on her like he never in his wildest dreams imagined someone so beautiful would choose him forever. It’s magical. But this wedding – this moment when the doors opened and my best friend in the world stepped onto that aisle holding onto her brother’s arm, with her train and her veil trailing behind her, I couldn’t even breathe.

You guys. I ugly-cried.

I tried so hard to get it under control, but of course that just meant my face was all red and contorted doing that thing where you try to smile through it, but your whole face is twitching and your nose is running from the effort. I was a hot mess. Thankfully, nobody was looking at me (except Jonathan who confirmed that I was indeed ugly-crying) because everyone was so mesmerized by Christina’s bridal beauty.

And then, in the blink of an eye, the ceremony was over and she was Mrs. Proctor and we all headed out to the most exquisite reception I had ever seen.

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The Cotton Room in downtown Durham, in case you were wondering.

As the Matron of Honor, I got to give a toast at the reception. This was my first experience writing a toast and I found it to be more difficult than I expected. Striking that perfect balance between being light and fun for people who aren’t as close to the bride as you are while also saying things that are meaningful to your friend and the relationship you have with her is tricky. Add to this the fact that my devotion to Christina borders on the creepy and you can imagine how tough of an assignment this was. But after much deliberation (and much vetoing of my ideas by Jonathan) I found a way to say how much I love her, how beautiful and holy marriage is, and how very happy I am for the two of them.

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And then, we danced. And by we, I mostly mean me. I danced like a fool (because I am an epically bad dancer) for hours. And it was glorious.

At the end of the night, I hugged my sweet friend and kissed her cheek and then we all sent her off in a shower of sparklers to their honeymoon in Tahiti (dreamy, right?)

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Week 39 was an epic adventure. We’ve got 13 weeks left and I don’t know that anything will top this, but I’m willing to try!

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure checking out the farmer’s market and the Greek Festival you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure # 36: Hiking in Charlotte

This past weekend was our first real weekend in Columbia. So naturally, we left town. 🙂

Some of our best friends live in Charlotte which is only 1.5 hours form Columbia. Since it was Labor Day Weekend and there was no work or school on Monday we headed to Charlotte on Sunday afternoon after attending our first church service in Columbia. (It was an Anglican church, so that was new, but more on that later).

After arriving in Charlotte we joined our friends and the four of us piled into the car and headed to Crowders Mountain, the closest hiking spot in the area. It was a 45 min – 1 hr drive to the trail head.

The trail was gentler than most of the Korean hikes we’re used to, which was fortunate since the Dunn clan isn’t in peak physical condition these days. After about an hour we made it to the top and enjoyed the view. While it was a much smaller mountain with a lower elevation than the ones around Daegu (a measly 1,624 ft), the air was much clearer which made for a better view.

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We loved being able to hop in the car and see our friends who we’ve missed so much over the past two years. We also loved getting to do some hiking which was one of our favorite activities in Korea.

After hiking we went back to Brandon and Christy’s house where we had dinner together with Bill and Jordan, a couple they’ve become close to while we’ve been gone but who we’d never met before. (Spoiler: They were totally great). After dinner we played a pretty intense game of Funglish (I’m still convinced the boys were totally cheating) that went on into the wee hours of the night, mainly because we girls were so infuriated that the boys kept getting the easiest cards and we refused to admit defeat.

We didn’t get home til 2 AM which felt wild and crazy for someone like me who is normally in bed by 10 if not before, but it was well worth it. We deeply missed sharing life with our friends while we were gone and we want to take full advantage of being so close to them now.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure about my epic roommate reunion you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.