Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Ended in a Cabin in Vermont

Some of my nearest and dearest and I decided to rent a cabin in Vermont to say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012.
We played games

Took walks around the frozen lake

Cooked up a storm

Ate green eggs and ham!

And cooked some more

And of course ate like we were kings

We tended the fire

We danced

And danced

Made wishes for the year ahead

Celebrated our friendships

And toasted the end of a wonderful year!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Home for the Holidays

Christmastime at home.  My mom always makes it so beautiful.
 A new tradition?  My dad cooked a goose on Christmas eve, and we had family friends over to share.  It tasted a lot better than it looked :)
 Mom showing off her Christmas cheer
 Every year, family friends come by on Christmas Eve to carol.  It has been so lovely over the years to watch their family change and grow.

 This was my lovely sister in law's first Christmas with us at home. 

My family

Monday, December 12, 2011

Exploring Ecuador

I spent the first week in December in Ecuador.  My colleague and I met with people in Quito and Guayaquil to scope out potential partners for a program, and then I stayed on a few extra days to be a tourist.  One of my favorite people and dearest friends, Kate, joined me from Bogota (where she is living) for the tourist part.  We started in Quito, but then jumped a bus to Banos, a small town situated right under an active volcano (and thus the home of hot thermal baths, lots of cool tours, and tons of spas!).  We spent a few days basking and enjoying the gorgeous little town, and then took the bus back to Quito to spend a day in the capital before heading back to our respective homes.  In the process of all of this, I absolutely fell in love with Ecuador, and it made me hungry to explore more of northern South America.  Here are a few of the photos from my time there:


Anyone for some drumsticks?

Banos city square

Steak, ceviche, and drinks for 2 for 12 dollars?  Yes please.

On the chiva (party bus) on the way to view the volcano.
Same picture, just showing what the lighting really looked like :)

View of Banos from the top of the mountain.

The 'quiet campfire' we were promised by the tour company.  aka party central.  complete with Ecuadorian clown.

Pulling taffy, Ecuador style

View from the bridge in Banos

Danger Zone!  Active volcano!

Wooden go cart race!

I love her face.  She was so delighted to have her picture taken.

Canelazo - Kate introduced me, I'm in love.  Like spiked hot cider, only better.  Warms you inside and out.

A lovely evening at a little book shop/cafe in Banos

Banos is famous for it hot baths - heated by the active volcano nearby.

Kate and I had facials and massages (totalling less that 40 dollars!) at a spa in Banos

Stunning views

we tried and tried to see the active part of the volcano, but the clouds were just no cooperating.  Behind us is the volcano.  Just use your imagination - there's lava jumping out back there!

Everything in the area is covered with a film of ash from the volcano.


Our bus ride from Quito was about 3.5 hours, and cost $3.50.  Ecuador has to be one of the cheapest places to travel I've ever been.

View of the Old City of Quito from our hostel.

Kate appreciating ceviche after we both had a near MTA (meal time agression) meltdown.  This ceviche shop opened especially for us and fed us even though they were closed.  They must have sensed that the whole world was in danger if we didn't eat immediately.

Lovely evening on the rooftop of our hostel in Quito

Quito by night

Friday, December 2, 2011

On the way to Ecuador!

Tomorrow, I'm hopping a plane back to South America.  We will be visiting Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador to meet with potential partners for future programs.

I'm especially excited for this trip - to be going back to Latin America, to be meeting with potential new partners, to be exercising my Spanish a little bit, and to be going to a new region.  I've never been to northern South America before, and it has been on my 'wish list' for almost as long as I can remember.

After the business is done, one of my favorite people ever, Kate, is going to be meeting me for a few days of adventure.  I cannot tell you how much I love exploring new places with my favorite people.  

Sometimes I wonder when life will stop feeling like an adventure... it certainly hasn't happened yet.
Wishing everyone a warm and love-filled beginning to December!

Friday, November 25, 2011


I got to go home to Idaho for Thanksgiving this year.
Here's me being:
  1. thankful that these folks are my family. (Please note Brian and Jenna in their cardboard form...)
2. thankful for having this lady be my life long BFF.
3. thankful for the priceless and precious time with my grandma.

So much to be grateful for.
Happy Thanksgiving.