Since I've spent most of New Year's Day playing board games and watching Miyazaki movies with Ricky (BEST DAY), I squeezed it some time for an update on how my list is looking so far:
9. visit another foreign country
I've been meaning to blog about our Portugal trip for FOR. EV. ER. I kept a travel journal (good choice, past self!), and took lots of pictures, so I figure that's good enough.
It was awesome to get back to the place where Ricky lived for two years while on a church mission. We went to his old apartments, visited some new cities, and spoke a lot of Portuguese. (Everyone was really impressed at how good Ricky's Portuguese is after being away for 7 years! The only word that stumped him was "olive," of all things. I could understand a lot but only spoke a couple complete sentences.)
We started in Lisbon...
...moved on to Sintra (my favorite mainland city)...
|Check out the hair action! The castle's up on a mountain/huge hill, so it was crazy windy.|
...trained over to Guimarães...
|When the cheapest umbrella you can find is zebra print, you rock that umbrella SO HARD.|
...moved on to Coimbra...
|Train. So cold. Why?!|
...stayed two days (and fought off illness in) Porto...
...ended with a flight to Madeira, a Portuguse island off the coast of Africa...
...and had to buy a 10€ suitcase from a loja chinesa (Chinese shop) in order to get all of our swag home. It broke literally as we pulled it off baggage claim back in the States.
52. buy one thing that's over 100 years old
My favorite souvenir from Portugal is a set of four tiles from the late 1800s. Portugal is famous for its tile decoration on all of the old architecture: museums, apartment buildings, train stations, cathedrals, everything. It's beautiful. Supposedly these are from "an old factory that closed down" (where they just sat untouched for 150 years, right?), but more likely they were pulled off an old building. I'm okay with supporting vandalism as long as they lie to me about it.
15. rent or own a house
We decided not to go the buying route, since we're still not sure Naples is where we want to be long term (does anyone else feel claustrophobic when they think about such a permanent commitment? it can't just be me), so we found a nice 3/2 + den to rent in the meantime. We love it! It's almost unbearable ugly from the outside, but the inside is a lot better...thankfully. I'm realizing right now that I haven't uploaded house pictures to my laptop yet, so here's a picture I pulled from a real estate website. Our yard looks way more gross than this now. But seriously, pink stucco?! Where is this, Miami? And what's with the one random tiny window on the side facing the street? Just imagine the inside looking much nicer. Maybe I'll come back and add inside pictures later.
Portugal again. This mall shop in Porto was having an awesome sale, so we sat through fittings and selections until 11 p.m. (that's when malls over there close, because they're cooler than ours). Ricky looks awesome in it. He's got like ten suits, but the fit on some of them is just a little off, so he was in need of a sharply cut addition to his wardrobe.
24. attend a book signing by an author I like
NEIL GAIMAN CAME TO MIAMI AND I MET HIM.
|Waiting for the reading to start. The event took place in a big Jewish temple. It was neat!|
|Beautiful copy of his new book! (It's awesome, by the way.) I preordered it so I could pick it up at the event.|
|Standing in line for the signing...I lucked out with a wristband color that was one of the first ones called up. I only waited about 30 minutes.|
|It looks like he's giving me an exasperated face here as I'm talking, but he was SO NICE. Seriously. This was right before he reached across the table to hold my hand.|
25. go to another performance of Les Miserables
Les Mis has been my favorite musical ever since I saw it on Broadway during a field trip in 8th grade. I had no idea what it was or what it was about, and I certainly wasn't expecting to cry buckets by the end, but cry buckets I did. I devoured the book in high school (followed by Hunchback of Notre Dame, which is a must-read for every human ever), and it's been my favorite everything* ever since.
*Besides movie. I thought the movie this past year was really good, but if that's the only Les Mis you've ever seen, you NEED to see a live performance. Put it on your bucket list right this second.
So when our community theater announced that Les Mis was the summer musical, I knew I HAD to do it. I wanted to be in the cast so badly, but auditions were during my finals week (curse you, graduate school!), and so I settled for volunteering on the crew. I ran the light board, which is basically a job you could train a semi-intelligent monkey to do, but it meant I got to watch the complete show about two dozen times over the course of the summer. SO GREAT.
Because I live in Richy McRichville, our community theater has a ton of money pumped into it every season. You wouldn't know it's not a professional theater at all in architecture, and even the volunteer cast blew me away. They did a great job!
While we're on the subject, I should plug my favorite Eponine of all time: Rosalind James. She was with the 25th Anniversary tour that Ricky and I saw last summer in West Palm Beach. She stole the show. I've never been a huge fan of Eponine--Javert's always been my favorite--but this actress really brought out the anger and frustration in Eponine and I LOVED IT. (As an added bonus, she's an African-American actress among a lead cast of white people. Representation matters.) I want Rosalind James to be Eponine forever.
27. write a letter to a Senator or Congressperson
I was very, very worried about our potential involvement in Syria earlier this year, so I wrote (electronic) letters to both Florida Senators and my Congressman. It was amusing, because all of them wrote (i.e., sent forms letters back) to let me know they would not be taking my side on the issue, even though I was writing to two Republicans and a Democrat. (Note that this is not an invitation to political debate, but to democratic involvement. I'm really glad I had this goal on my list!) No picture, but rest assured that all letters were articulate and well argued. ;)
54. volunteer at a soup kitchen/food bank
For a youth group activity last month, we went to help sort food and stuff holiday bags (filled with stuffing, potatoes, gravy, yams, etc.) for the local food bank. It was a blast. I wish I had taken pictures! The people that work there are so kind, and you can actually feel the goodness that they bring into the room. It was a privilege to be there working with them. I hope we can make trips there on a regular basis.
69. properly display Ricky's baseball collection
Ricky's been collecting baseballs since he was a kid, and we've added to the collection by buying a ball from every stadium we visit. We had been keeping them in a basket on the table, but I knew Ricky really wanted to have them on display all fancy-like...so I got him a display case for his birthday!
|Literally took this picture two seconds ago with the iPad. You're welcome.|
72. test drive a car
It was time for us to replace Ricky's BMW (that thing was sucking money like it was its dang job), so we finally bit the bullet and went to get a new car. Ricky commutes two hours every day (perks of working for the state? you don't get to choose which judicial district office you're assigned to), so we knew we wanted something that was going to have amazing gas mileage...
...so we got a Prius! 35,000 miles, 2010, dark gray, 51 mpg. We're so glad we went with the hybrid. We love it. Plus, environment and stuff! (Heidi, this may be relevant to your interests? :) )
73. ride a horse on a trail
Portugal, again. The top "Thing to Do" on the island of Madeira is go horseback riding through the mountains, so that's what we did! The couple who run the tour are amazing, and probably spoke the best English out of everyone we met over there. It was chilly and my horse was s l o w and it was great. Ricky and I had both only been on horses once before, years ago, so it was nice to have easy horses and a guide that made us feel so comfortable. Totally worth it.
|My horse only had two settings: "fall way far behind everyone else" and "trot fast to catch up and make Katie fear for her life."|
87. drive through Yellowstone
This has been something I've wanted to do my entire life, so when we got a chance to go out to Idaho for Labor Day weekend, I told Ricky we NEEDED to drive the four hours from his hometown to Yellowstone. Needed. The in-laws decided to come with, which made it even more fun. I have great in-laws.
|Buffalo chillin' on the side of the road.|
|Don't remember what this face was for...but look how cute he is!|
|Old Faithful, of course|
|Only had to wait like 15 minutes until it erupted! It goes every couple hours, so sometimes people wait around for a long time.|
|Straight off "Oregon Trail," am I right?|
|Pictures SERIOUSLY do not do this place justice!|
|Devil stairs. Hiss.|
|Awkward family photo, courtesy of Ricardo Jensen|
It's surprising how much of the park you can see in just a day. We washed down the trip with some middle-of-nowhere food and made it home around 1 in the morning. So worth it!
91. eat an entire meal with chopsticks
Don't laugh, you guys. I was tired of being the uncultured one still eating my various Asian foods with a fork, especially since my dad lived in Japan for two years and would probably eat everything with chopsticks if he could. So when my family went out to the nearby hibachi steakhouse over the holiday, I forced myself to use them for an entire meal, even though my hand usually gets tired and I wimp out. But you know what? Once you stop paying attention to it, it's no big thing at all. I was done with my food before I knew it. Go me!
96. go to a spa
Awesome Husband Ricky got me a gift certificate for a massage/facial last year on my birthday, and I realized 11 months later than I needed to use it within a few weeks before it expired. (Ricky also waited a year before using his Christmas gift from me. Schedules get crazy!) The massage I got was the bomb. I've never had one before, which means I literally have nothing to compare it to, but I thought it was great! The facial made me feel like my face was going to fall off, but my pores looked about 200% smaller afterwards, so I consider it a net gain. Thanks, spa people.
That's it, y'all. Everything I've done up to this point is documented. (As Jenny Lawson would say right now, you're welcome.) Hope everyone is having a fun first day of 2014!