27 September 2012

On True Friendship. {And a Winner!}

One weekend while I was in California, I headed up to San Jose to celebrate with one of my dearest friends before she packed up her life and headed off to Ukraine for two years to serve in the Peace Corps.  Quite coincidentally, Mckenzie and I met while studying abroad in South Africa in Spring 2009 and from the moment we bumped into each other we were basically BFFs forever.

I had studied abroad in South Africa previously in Spring 2008 and she had also in Fall 2008 {I was back in the States during Fall 2008}, so it was a second semester in Stellenbosch for both of us.  But, this time most of our American friends from our previous semesters had already gone back home and so the city was feeling quite empty for the both of us and it was also daunting to think about having to make new friends with a huge group of Americans all over again.  We ended up being exactly what the other one needed, since we were both used to South Africa {and both dating Afrikaans men!}, but felt a little bit foreign in a town that used to be swarming with people we had developed friendships with.  The moment I heard her rattling off Afrikaans curse words and belting out the lyrics to Stellenbosch's anthem in Afrikaans - well, let's just say that I knew we were meant to be.

And honestly... I don't know how I would have made it through that semester without her.  Jurgen was scrambling to finish his Master's dissertation which meant that I was often left on my own to entertain myself.  I didn't really know anyone outside of Jurgen and his friendship group and I was still trying to decide whether I wanted to jump in the deep end and re-locate to South Africa {semi-} permanently... which was a pretty huge decision that I went back and forth on constantly throughout that semester.  During this time Mckenzie was the one responsible for always convincing me to put down my book, throw on a little make-up, and get out of the house for the evening.  We went to shows together, chatted for hours over coffee, and even rented a car and took a girls trip to Cape Town one weekend.

Put quite simply she.is.awesome. and the kind of friend that every girl should have.

After her going away party had ended and all of her guests had left for the evening, the two of us were sitting on the couch reminiscing about our study abroad adventures and all that had changed in our lives since then.  With me planning an international wedding and her getting ready to head off to the Peace Corps for two years, it seemed like so much had changed... except at the same time it seemed like nothing had changed at all.  Even living continents apart and sometimes going months without speaking and years without seeing each other, we were sitting there chattering away like not even a day had passed since our last coffee date.

And I've decided that it is exactly that thing that is the number one indicator of true friendship.  No matter how much time passes without seeing one another and no matter what adventures life takes us on, on those few and far between occasions when you are able to see one another, it feels as though not even a day has passed.

So Mckenzie, thank you so much for your friendship and support over the past few years - it has meant more than you even know.  I'm so excited for this next adventure you are about to embark on and am quite positive that you will make a huge difference in the lives of all those you meet!  Miss you already and can't wait to start planning our eastern European reunion!

{Mckenzie recently started a blog to document her adventures and daily life in the Peace Corps!  Be sure to head on over and follow along on her journey here!}

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AND, a huge congratulations to Lesley of The Dream Tree on winning the Reader Appreciation giveaway!  I will be contacting via email today for your details!
Thanks so all much to all who entered!

25 September 2012

A Glimpse of our Engagement Party

Last weekend, Jurg and I celebrated our engagement with some Jo'burg friends at Mythos in the Design Quarter!  After having been apart for almost a full month since getting engaged, it was great being able to re-connect with Jurg and also spend some time catching up with lots of friends I haven't seen in way too long.

We spent the evening munching on tapas, toasting with champagne, and laughing over a few glasses of delicious South African red wine.  And of course, we couldn't have asked for better company.  Having moved to Jo'burg not knowing a single soul about two and a half years ago, Jurgen and I have really been blessed with all of the new friendships that have found their way into our lives.  It turned out to be a perfect evening.

Being the terrible blogger that I am, I completely forgot to take any photos of the party - and even worse, there isn't a single photo to be found of Jurg and I together! horriblefuturewifealert.  The photos above are courtesy of the lovely miss megs - thanks megan!

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I hope you're all having a wonderful beginning of the week!  I came down with a terrible case of food poisoning last night {I don't know if I'll ever be able to stomach paella again} and am starting to feel much better, but very, very sleep deprived this morning.  I can't wait for the work day to end so I can go home and crawl into bed.

Also, don't forget to enter the reader appreciation GIVEAWAY happening on my blog now.  A $30 REI gift card, Camelbak water bottle, and a couple packs of sports jelly beans are up for grabs, but the giveaway is ending tomorrow so you need to act quick!!!

New York and California re-caps to commence soon!

19 September 2012

{Reader Appreciation Giveaway!} $30 Gift Card to REI + More!

Hello everyone!
I landed safely back in Jo'burg late Friday evening and have been busy getting back into the swing of work and studies over the past few days.  Jurg and I also had our engagement party on Saturday evening, and it was so great getting to see my fiance again and being able celebrate with good friends!  Needless, to say life has been a bit of a whirlwind since getting back. 
New York was incredible and it was also great getting to see family and friends in California and being able to celebrate milestone birthdays with my mom and grandma!  I have loads of photos to share on here and am hoping to get back into a normal blogging routine as from next week.

Until then...

... I'm so excited to present you with an amazing GIVEAWAY on the blog today! 

It's the first giveaway I've ever hosted and I wanted to host it as a way of saying thank you to all of you who follow this little blog of mine day in and day out and leave comments that absolutely brighten my day :)

One reader will receive the following prizes:
-- A $30 gift card to REI --
-- A green Camelbak Water Bottle --
-- A couple packets of Sports Jelly Beans thrown in for good measure! --
Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: This giveaway will run until Wednesday the 26th of September and is open to international readers!

07 September 2012

{New York, NY}: We Need Your Advice!

On Monday my Mom and I are off to the Big Apple in an extended celebration of her 50th Birthday! 


This is going to be a first time visit for both of us, so for all of you New York bloggers and for those of you that have visited the city, we need your help with suggestions on things to see, eat, and explore.  I'm mostly in it for the food and shopping {so far I've heard Shake Shack is a must!} and my Mom is more interested in the sights.  I know that so far she's reserved tickets for Jimmy Fallon and Ground Zero, but aside from that we have an open plate.

What else do we absolutely need to do with our 3 days in the Big Apple to make our trip to New York complete!?  All suggestions are much appreciated :)

{We're staying in the Central Park Area - FYI}

Hope everyone has a wonderful Friday and relaxing weekend ahead!

Thank you in advance for tips and suggestions!

05 September 2012

Birthday Burgers at Smashburger

This past Monday was my Mom's actual birthday and she chose to celebrate with a family lunch at Smashburger.  It was my first time visiting the franchise, but it seems as though I may have been the last one to hop on the smashburger wagon since everyone I've spoken to in the states so far seems to already know all about it and love it.  The restaurant has a very fun vibe and burger options range from your traditional cheese, lettuce, and tomato, to more non-traditional options such as Fresh Mex, Avocado Club, and Mushroom Swiss.  You can also opt to build your own burger if you're feeling more on the creative side!

I must say that my first Smashburger experience definitely lived up to the hype.  The burgers were delicious, they offered a variety of different sides, and the prices were affordable.  On the off chance that you haven't heard of Smashburger yet {at this point I feel like I feel like I'm probably preaching to the choir}, they seem to have franchises spanning across the country so there's a good possibility that there's one not too far from your home.  See here for a list of store locations.

Lots of fun menu options!
I opted for the Fresh Mex with sweet potato fries and it was delicious!
Definitely missing my California tan!
My Mom decided on the Mushroom Swiss with onion rings

In other news, happy hump day everyone!  As I type this I'm sitting at my besties desk in San Diego and getting ready to make the three hour trek back up to Ventura County {just waiting out the traffic}.  Last night we enjoyed some of the most delicious sushi I've ever eaten and had fun catching up on all that's happened since December, including my engagement and her adventures in law school.  The rest of the today will be spent writing a paper {ugh} and then this evening my Mom, Robyn {my brother's fiancé}, one of my mom's close friends, and I are heading to the theatre in Thousand Oaks to watch Les Miserables.  Should make for a nice evening!

03 September 2012

{50th Birthday} + {Retirement Bash}

So I made it to California and have spent the past couple of days battling through jet lag {hello ten hour time difference} and soaking up the sunshine and warm weather!  I think it's been three years since I last enjoyed a California summer and I must say that they are just as wonderful as I remember.  

So far the itinerary has included Cheesecake Factory {delicious!}, walking my very favorite dog, and jogging along my old high school cross country route.  Pure bliss I tell ya.  Jo'burg has a lot of strong points, but unfortunately outdoor jogging definitely isn't one of them {sorry Jo'burg}.  Truth be told, the only thing missing from this whole scenario is Jurgen {miss you Jurg!}, but I guess someone has to stay behind and earn the dollar bills.  Le sigh.

On Saturday my parents hosted a joint 50th birthday party for my Mom and retirement party for my Dad in our backyard.  I think my Mom officially wins the party thrower extraordinaire award as she successfully planned the whole thing and organised live music,  cute table centre pieces, a dessert table, and a make-your-own-burger station.  I have some big shoes to fill, let me tell you.  Her dessert table {complete with a cupcake corner} was definitely pinterest worthy!

It was great getting to see with so many friends and family and my parents really enjoyed the afternoon and were touched by all of those who stopped by to celebrate with them.  My Mom keeps saying that it felt like her {It's a Wonderful Life} moment!

My brother with his future in-laws! {He's in the stripes and his fiance is wearing the sunglasses}
The birthday girl and one of her best friends! {My Mom's in the navy}
My Dad and all of his work friends. {He's the one with the facial hair, ha!}
Bestie reunion!
My Mom with all of her childhood friends

Thanks so much to all who are reading this and who came!  Hopefully we'll be seeing you all again sooner rather than later :)

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The rest of the week will be spent meeting up with friends, celebrating another milestone birthday, eating Mexican food, and trying to get in as much shopping as possible {Camarillo outlets, here I come}.  Then, this weekend we're heading up to the bay area to visit my brother at his university and next Monday my Mom and I are off to New York for a few days before I continue on home to South Africa.  It will be a busy, but incredible next couple of weeks!  I'll continue to pop in when I can :)

Oh yes, and Happy Labor Day!