Christmas Celebrations 2018

IMG_2642Our favorite day of the year is over, but that doesn’t mean that our happiness high has ended. Today, I woke up feeling so blessed and grateful for this time of year that brings family and friends together.IMG_2643This year was the first Christmas I ever spent with out my mom, (due to her moving away) and Whit didn’t make it into town, so Christmas felt a little different this year. We had the chance to facetime Whit, Tyler, and the girls (See cute selfies below). And I’m currently counting down the days until I see my mom next weekend. I’ve learned that growing older means spending less time with family and friends, but it makes the time spent together that much more meaningful.

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SLJU9043If you know Derek and I, you know saying we love Christmas is an understatement. Since we were jet lagged, and confused this time last year, it felt like we hadn’t celebrated our favorite holiday in years. So of course, this year, we went all out… With our house decorations, gifts for each other, and my favorite of course- celebrations!IMG_2627

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On Saturday, I decided to act like the house wife I am totally not, and host an ugly sweater/ white elephant gift party at our house with our nearest and dearest friends. These people have became my family over the last decade, and if life were completely up to me, I’d spend a lot more time with them. (Even though I see a most of them at least every month 😉 ) They each mean so much to me, and I may or may not get emotional looking at this low quality/ self timer photo of all of us in our Christmas decorated living room.IMG_2528I woke up with my heart so full on Sunday morning, but the celebrations were just beginning. On Sunday night, we went over to Ryan and Amber’s to make gingerbread houses, drink wine, and play their new VR. We had way too much fun that I never took a picture of all of us, but please enjoy this one of Derek’s and my house that I was pretty proud of.IMG_2639Monday was Christmas Eve, and Derek worked during the day. I spent the day organizing our home, wrapping last minute presents, and snuggling Harvey while blasting my favorite Christmas songs. It was a great day alone to decompress after my busy month.

I don’t know what it is about Christmas time that makes me want to be the best “1950’s housewife” there ever was, but after cleaning my whole house, I decided to go to the grocery store and cook Christmas Eve dinner for Derek and I.

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IMG_2632.JPGThe rest of the night involved cuddling around our flickering fire, opening our Christmas pajamas from each other, driving around town looking at lights, watching one of our favorite movies, and having a slumber party on our living room floor. It was the perfect Christmas Eve night with just the two of us and Harvey. We’ve spent 9 Christmas’s with each other, but I think this year was the most magical one for us together.

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IMG_2633After sleeping in on Christmas morning, we woke up on our living room floor and opened our gifts that we bought for each other. Harvey opened his too, he was very happy to get a new frisbee. 😉

IMG_2668IMG_2669We then met Ali over at Grandma and Grandpa’s for Grandpa’s Christmas day omelets and more gifts. We missed Whit and mom, but we enjoyed our morning together. My relationship with my grandparents is something I’ve never taken for granted. In fact, my grandma and I were talking about how I’ve never spent a Christmas with out them!IMG_2671IMG_2670.JPG

IMG_2666After Grandma’s, Ali and us went over to Dad’s for MORE food and presents. (And to see Ms. Dixie of course- pictured below) I thought my heart, and my stomach couldn’t get any more full, but I was wrong. Derek and I came home to shower and get ready for the day before heading to the Durstelers’.IMG_2664.JPGIt was the first time since July that we’ve all been together. Jake and Hattie were in town and Axel had the day off from work. Ali even joined us. Like usual we had way too much fun, and surprise! We ate more food and opened more gifts.IMG_2646.JPGIMG_2645We also participated in our annual gingerbread house contest that Shara hosts every year and all laughed about how intense this thing is getting. We went all out!IMG_2656

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IMG_2657Derek and I ended up winning first place. I don’t know how we won the Halloween costume contest and the gingerbread house contest this year, but hey I am not complaining.. we must make a good team. 😉IMG_2644This year’s holiday season was filled with traditions, celebrations, and abundance amounts of love, just like most people always hope they will be. Through out the month, I was reminded daily why I love this time of year so much and how blessed Derek and I really are, especially with the people who surround us. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season and I hope your days ahead and very merry and bright.IMG_2641IMG_2640Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

 

 

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A Very Very Happy Holiday Season

IMG_2494I know I always start my posts by saying that I’ve been so busy lately, and am finally finding the time to sit down and write, but I I am not exaggerating this time. So much has happened since my last post that Thanksgiving feels like it was six months ago. Since I’m finally finding the time to write, I decided to to post a little life update. This whole year has been filled with “updates”, changes, and new beginnings. Every time someone has asked what’s new in my life, I never even know where to start because all year something has been new. It’s a very exciting, busy time in our life and I am just trying to soak it all in. So in good ol’  Wren fashion, here I am typing about the past few weeks, so that I can soak them in and capture them forever.

IMG_2418IMG_2255.PNGSince Thanksgiving (which wasn’t even a month ago) Jessica has moved out of our house back home, my mom moved out of state, Derek finished up his semester at school, I worked not one, not two, but twelve holiday parties, and two weddings. I also celebrated Christmas with my coworkers, planned our friend Christmas party, and have been catching up on my videos and blog posts (hence this post) I’ve also left town for the weekend- TWICE.

See..I told you…busy is an understatement of my life. Would you think I was insane if I told you I wouldn’t have it any other way?IMG_2416.JPGBetween all of the craziness, I’ve been focusing on slowing down and really enjoying the non crazy moments. Cuddling on my couch with Derek and Harvey by our fireplace, pulling taffy with my grandma and Ali, singing at the top of  my lungs at a concert with Alyssa, watching cheesy Christmas movies, admiring the lights around town, staying at work way too late with my work family; cleaning up from all of the parties, hot tubbing in the snow with our friends in Park City, and even just driving in my car listening to my favorite Christmas songs.IMG_2324IMG_2300Like I mentioned in my previous post, I didn’t have the chance to do any of these things last year in China, so I’ve taken full advantage of every small and big thing this holiday season. I’ve looked at this whole year with new eyes, and it’s made it so magical, but especially this December.IMG_2419.JPG Speaking of China..We came home a year ago yesterday, and my nostalgia hit hard. In case you are wondering, I did really good and got through my whole work day without tears 😉 Everyone around me says “already a year??” but It’s felt like so much longer to me. I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing our chapter of life over there, but I am thankful for the lessons it continues to teach me and how different I’ve looked at life since.

IMG_2425.JPGI’m going to post my Christmas decorations and Christmas week celebrations in a different post, but for now please enjoy these photos of my very busy, very eventful, very exhausting, and very very happy last few weeks.

Luna’s last sleepover with Harvey before her and mom moved away-My bedroom

IMG_2151.JPGCute Christmas decorations on Main Street with my love- Park CityIMG_2489

Fleetwood Mac concert with Alyssa-Las Vegas

(my old soul can die happy now, love you forever Stevie.) 

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A beautiful sunset in the middle of my crazy/ anxiety filled work week-My work

IMG_2484Christmas party with the greatest work family- My living roomIMG_2323One last breakfast date with the best roomie ever, Jess-Xetava CafeIMG_2299Pulling Taffy with Ali and Grandma- Grandma’s KitchenIMG_2495.JPGChristmas coordinated managers- My workIMG_2487Selfies with our China fam (yes we all live in UT, but met in China 😉 )- Park CityIMG_2421.JPGIMG_2422And as usual here’s a little reminder/life tip: Don’t take the small things, the important people, or the comfortable places for granted. Enjoy them while you have them, and appreciate them while you’re able to. And if you ever get the chance like I once did, look at the world through new eyes, like a child looks at Christmas, and life will become so magical.IMG_2492Wishing you all a a very loving, very magical, and a very very happy holiday!

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Festivities 2018

IMG_2082Just like Halloween, Derek and I weren’t home last year to celebrate Thanksgiving. So, like most holidays (especially the ones I used to take for granted) we celebrated all month long. I love thanksgiving and the month of November. It is such a great reminder of how much we have to be thankful for. I also love the excuse to spend time with loved ones, and of course, the excuse to stuff my face with yummy food all day.

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On Tuesday, Demi and Austin had frindsgiving at their house. We had so much fun spending time with them, seeing Auston and Kayden, and meeting all of their friends from Cedar. IMG_2084IMG_2047IMG_2076IMG_2075IMG_20451. I am thankful for friends who enjoy the holidays as much as we do.

IMG_2034We started Thanksgiving day with breakfast at grandma and grandpa’s. They had plans with their friends’ that afternoon and we were headed to Derek’s parents, so Ali and us went over early and started the day the right way- with family and A LOT of food. IMG_E20882. I am thankful for family members who are close in distance, and even closer in my heart. I’ll never take my close relationship with my grandparents for granted.

Mom moved away this last weekend, and Whit didn’t come to town this year, so we spent most of the holiday with Derek’s family. Grandpa Wade and Jake came to town, and it was the first big holiday in Michele and Randy’s new house. Like most days with The Durstelers, our day was filled with so much love and laughs, (and more food obviously!)  but we missed Axel since he had to work.

IMG_20673. I am thankful for in laws who double as best friends. I’ve almost had them in my life for a whole decade, and everyday I still wake up feeling lucky to share their last name.

IMG_2066After we ate dinner, Derek and I made our way to Dad’s where Josh and Ali spent Thanksgiving. We ate dessert with them and caught up with Dad, Jackie, Nikki, Sam, and some of their family members who were in town. By this time, we were exhausted and in a food coma, so we didn’t get a photo. Here’s a cute one from last week. 😉 IMG_20854. I am thankful for the holidays. To have an excuse to celebrate with loved ones, and catch up with the ones we don’t see often enough.

We went back to the Durstelers and ended the night playing board games. When we got home, we couldn’t help but get the Christmas stuff out and start decorating for our favorite time of the year.IMG_20395. I am thankful I married someone who gets just as excited about stockings and Christmas music as I do.

I fell asleep to the sound of Derek’s breathing, double puppy snuggles, and feeling so so grateful. Since Whit and the girls left the state for the holiday, we’ve been watching Benny all week. Harvey has had so much time spending time with his cousin, and Derek and I haven’t minded it at all. 😉

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6. I am thankful for my fur babies who fill such a huge place in my heart.

Today I woke up next to my boys, in a Christmas decorated home, feeling like the most blessed person in the world, and that is the exact reason I love Thanksgiving. My belly is still full, but my heart is even fuller. I’ll never take this life, or the little things that make it mine, for granted.IMG_E2089A few more things I am thankful for that I didn’t have this time last year (living in China)

  1. Good food! (especially potatoes)
  2. Our own home
  3. Puppy cuddles
  4. Our soft, BIG bed
  5. Time with friends and family

Onto the next adventure (the best time of the year!)

Wren

Sunny days in San Francisco

IMG_E1499Maybe you know me in person, or maybe you feel like you know me because you’ve been following this blog for so long. But no matter how you know me, you know that traveling is the one thing that I thrive for. I usually try to leave town at least once every few weeks, even if it’s just for a couple days, or in the next town over.IMG_1678These last couple of months have been crazy busy for us. Between wedding season, school, work, and handling personal matters, we haven’t had any time to leave town. When Derek and I started getting into our rut, our routine, our busy schedules, I knew I needed to go somewhere and I needed to do it soon. Back in August, I looked at the next possible weekend for both of us to leave town and it wasn’t until the first weekend in November. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel! (okay that’s dramatic, but that’s how traveling feels to me. 😉 )IMG_1806I instantly thought of San Francisco. We had been to San Francisco once before, but we only had 24 hours in that beautiful city. It was over 2 years ago, but if you want to read about our interesting/ crazy adventure there, here is the link: https://thestellarstories.com/2016/08/08/less-than-24-hours-in-san-francisco/IMG_1803Our experience was so much different this time for so many different reasons. Since Kenzie and Joe had moved there in the time that we were there last, we had a comfortable place to stay. And spending time with them was the highlight of our trip! It was so fun visiting their favorite restaurants and seeing how happy they are with their temporary lives in that charming city. Since Joe is in the coast guard, they are only there for another year- and i am already thinking of planning another trip back.IMG_1656IMG_1788IMG_1789We arrived to to Alameda (where Kenzie and Joe live) on Thursday and started our weekend of eating like kings and queens with Italian. Derek and I remember the food being delicious from our first visit, and this time it did not disappoint! We ate way too good all weekend long. -and probably gained 20 pounds.

(I am drooling.)

IMG_1800This was also the first time in a VERY long time that Derek and I traveled together alone. We’ve traveled all year, but every time we’ve left town it has been with our friends or our families. It was so fun to spend quality time together outside of our regular routines.img_1807.jpgOn Friday, we spent 15 hours alone together. We rode the ferry into the city, walked through China town and got really nostalgic. The little part in our Chinese hearts absolutely loved listening to the language, smelling the food, and walking through all of the stores that became so dear to our hearts just a year ago.IMG_1804.JPG

We even found our favorite desserts from China! (Drooling again)

IMG_E1591We also rented bikes, and rode 8 miles across the bridge and down the coast to a little beach town called Sausalito. Biking across the golden gate has always been on my bucket list, and crossing things off that list with Derek by my side is my most favorite thing in the world.IMG_1596.JPGIMG_1595.JPGIMG_1794

IMG_1808.JPGWe ended the day by going to a fancy Mexican place in Sausilito for dinner and drinks. I think that day was one of my favorite days that Derek and I have ever had together. It was perfect.

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(I told you we gained 20 pounds!)

IMG_1793To make the day even better, the weather was AMAZING. Last time we went to San Francisco, it was in July and it was windy, foggy, and freezing. This time in November, the skies were completely clear and it was sunny and warm the whole time we were there. We definitely packed too warm, but I am not complaining. I mean look at that bridge!! IMG_1672IMG_1802On Saturday, we went back into the city. This time with Kenzie and Joe, since they didn’t have to work. We walked around the shops at Fisherman’s Wharf, vistied Ghiradelli Square, and ate lunch at a yummy cafe.IMG_1791 We also witnessed one of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen. Between living in the desert, and visiting Hawaii, I have seen a lot of pretty sunsets, but I was so breath taken by this one. Maybe it’s because it was the last thing I expected in the city that is known for cloudy nights and foggy days. We were all amazed, so of course I had to capture it!IMG_1782IMG_1784IMG_1783IMG_1781We ate dinner at a burger joint, walked the streets and admired the architecture, and then ended the night with a scary movie at Kenzie and Joe’s. On a quick flight and a 2 hour drive, we made our way home the next day.IMG_1786IMG_1676IMG_1677

 

IMG_1679IMG_1785This sunny weekend away from home was such a nice little break. It was exactly what Derek and I needed, personally, and as a couple. I am constantly in awe of this world, but I am even more in awe that I get to see it with him.IMG_1799IMG_1738Video coming soon- once I find enough free time. 😉

 

Onto the next adventure, Wren

 

 

 

Spooktacular Celebrations

IMG_1358Last year on this day, I was sitting in our tiny apartment on the other side of the world, full of Chinese candy, exhausted from spending the holiday with all of our extremely sugar high students, and feeling grateful for where I was, but also wishing I was home celebrating with our friends and family.

IMG_1179IMG_1182This year,  I took advantage of everything I didn’t get the chance to do last year. First off was decorating our house. Filling our home with holiday decorations is one of my favorite things to do. And I was pretty happy with how it turned out this year. (Now onto Thanksgiving and Christmas! (The best 😉 )

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IMG_1470Next up was costumes. I decided that since we didn’t get the chance to go all out on our costumes last year, I would plan something extravagant and make up for it next (this) year. The second I watched the Grinch for the first time last Christmas season, I knew. To be honest, I had the idea for over 10 months, but didn’t put these outfits together until this time last week. (Procrastination at its finest) But man, was I proud. I mean, look at our Max!

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Out of all the costumes Derek and I have had, these ones were my favorite. It could be because we’re both Christmas lovers and prefer Christmas trees over haunted houses, but nonetheless, I loved them! They were so fun to put together. I think we might wear them for the rest of the year. 😉

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IMG_1464Since Derek and I both worked Halloween day and Derek worked Halloween night, we celebrated early.  Last Tuesday, we spent the night decorating Halloween cookies with our Dursteler clan. I love decorating things, but holy moly cookies are not EASY. I do not have the patience for those. Here is a pretty picture of Shara’s cookies since she didn’t make the family photo and her’s were good enough for both of us. 😉IMG_1472On Saturday, we attended the Boos and Brews Halloween event at my work with our friends Jess, Erik, and Ian. After decorating the space all week, and helping out with the finishing touches, it was fun to see it all come together.

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IMG_1475We had way too much fun and danced the night away.  Derek and I even won the couples’ costume contest! I promise It wasn’t rigged, since the attendees voted, but we were still surprised! We both never win ANYTHING.IMG_1468IMG_1469The best part about the whole night was that Derek’s parents were there the whole time, and their costumes were so great that we didn’t even recognize them until they were standing next to us in the contest! It was such a funny moment when we realized it was them. It will go down as one of my favorite Halloween memories and stories to tell. ( I am still sad we didn’t get a picture!) IMG_1467On Monday, we had a few friends over to carve pumpkins. Since we didn’t get to carve pumpkins last year, it was one of the top things on my October to do list. Even though I didn’t accomplish everything on my list, It was the perfect ending to our Halloween celebrations.IMG_1466IMG_1461IMG_1463

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like I mentioned before Derek worked 12 hours today and I worked 6, so nothing too exciting happened here, even though today was the actual holiday. I spent the afternoon cuddling Harvey (another thing I took advantage of this year). Jess and I ended up going to dinner and having game night at Ian and Erik’s. It didn’t feel like a holiday, but we still had a great night with good friends.IMG_1460The older I get, the more I realize that it’s not the actual celebrations or the things you do to celebrate a holiday, but the people you do them with that make the memories great ones.

I hope all of your spooky seasons were fun-filled, full of love, and spooktacular!

Onto the next adventure, Wren

Happiest Place with my Happy People

IMG_0199IMG_0201Our friend Garrett attends the US surf open every year since it always falls on the same weekend as his birthday. Due to poor planning, Derek and I haven’t been able to join his birthday celebrations the last 5 years of our friendship with him. So, when we got invited this year, we were stoked!IMG_0293IMG_0114We went down with a group of our best friends, met up with our friend Dallin, who recently moved down there, and had one of the most unforgettable weekends together. It was filled with sunny 80 degree days, sun burnt skin and salty hair, so many laughs and inside jokes, and like always, many many dance parties.IMG_E0212IMG_0427IMG_E0406IMG_E0202We stayed in an AirBNB and out of all the places I’ve stayed away from home, this one was one of my absolute favorites. It was the perfect amount of space for 10 of us, it was decorated the same way my “dream beach house” would be, and it even had a pool to keep us all entertained! It was perfect.IMG_0422IMG_0426IMG_0425

IMG_E0424Like I’ve mentioned before, Orange county, and especially Huntington Beach is one of my all time favorite places. It’s where my family took all of our vacations growing up, it’s the first place I ever stepped foot in an ocean, and it holds a lot of my favorite memories. -Even more now.img_0414-e1534723569288.jpgIMG_0420

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IMG_0417We even ran into our friend Sommer, that we met in China!IMG_0107

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39736386_1769834993069582_550780657509335040_nIMG_0402IMG_0421IMG_E0416I can’t wait to look back on these photos one day and think back to how crazy we once all were- running, skating, dancing down the streets of Huntington Beach, staying up way too late, laughing about how old we’re all getting, making fools of ourselves dancing in the clubs, creating the best memories together, and realizing that we’re truly living in the good ol’ days.IMG_E0415

IMG_E0198IMG_0403IMG_0423IMG_0194Visiting my happy place with my favorite people was the best ending to this perfect summer. I love each of these people with my whole heart, all for completely different reasons, and our weekend to Huntington Beach reminded me just how lucky I am to have them. We’re like one big dysfunctional, extremely happy family, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Onto the next adventure, Wren

Over a decade of Paramore, and my undying love for them

IMG_9757When I found out that Paramore was touring their 5th album this summer with Foster the People, I immediately signed up for the ticket list. I knew I was going to that concert before I even knew where I was attending it, or what date I as going on. MTTD5418URRC1554IMG_0316IMG_0317Luckily, the concert ended up being on the Monday that we were supposed to be returning home from Yellowstone. So, instead of driving all the way home from Idaho, we spent the night in Salt Lake City. We met up with Auston for lunch in Logan on our way, and caught up with Jess over coffee before the concert. Seeing them both made the day just THAT much better.IMG_9692IMG_9691This was my third time seeing Paramore, and like always, they did not disappoint. This concert made my happy, it made me nostalgic, it made me cry, and it made me dance. Like most concerts I attend, I was a little bit of an emotional wreck in a good way. Live music just does that to me, but I had my best friends by my side, who loved it (almost) as much as I did.

IMG_9758IMG_9756Paramore has been my number 1 band for as long as I can remember. Every single song, every single album, and every single concert I’ve attended means much more to me than music does to most people. Their music helped me through my middle school depression, I walked down the aisle to it on my wedding day, and it’s made me realize that it’s okay to not be happy all the time, but to smile anyways and get through whatever I’m going through.NHAG4435IMG_0318My love for Paramore, and especially Hayley Williams,  is to the point where they could make the crappiest music, or do the stupidest things, but I would still love it and support them. Her whole outlook on life inspires me on a daily basis, and it has for the last decade. I mean, look at her. She is an angel.IMG_0319AWUO4866Here’s to 11 years of loving the same band, here’s to best friends, here’s to screaming at the top of our lungs to live music that makes us both happy and sad. Here’s to the great times, the hard times, and all the times in between.

“Cry Hard, Dance Harder.”- Hayley Williams

 

Onto the next adventure, Wren