Monday, November 10, 2014

3 Day Getaway: NYC & Brooklyn

For 4th of July we drove 10 hours to New York City, so that we could spend the long weekend with our BFFs. We spent most of our Friday, July 4,  walking around Ellis Island and visiting Lady Liberty for the first time. 



We had a delicious lunch at Liberty House Restaurant after exploring Ellis island. Every single thing there was amazing and the beautiful view of the city made it taste even better. We went back to the apartment in the afternoon for a nap and to catch up on some World Cup Games.That night we ventured to the Jersey City boardwalk to view the 4th of July fireworks from a distance, all the beauty without the chaos.

On Saturday morning we walked around Lower Manhattan before jumping on a ferry to Brooklyn. We walked a couple of blocks until we happened among Smorgasburg, at which we dutifully stuffed our faces. My favorite was Palenques Arepas de Toro. The meat was soft and savory and a perfect complement to the fluffy arepa. We walked around Wiliamsburg for a couple of hours walking off the calories we had just consumed, even stepped into a bar for a little while to watch another World Cup game.

I then had the brilliant idea to make our way back to Manhattan by bike using Citi Bike from the Williamsburg to Manhattan. None of us had been on a bike in more than 6 years and it took a little convincing to get everybody on a bike. What was supposed to be a 30 minute bike ride ended up taking more than 2 hours, particularly because Tomas was scared for his life so he would stop the bike every time a car was passing him. In the end I think everybody had fun and the highlight was definitively riding across the Brooklyn Bridge just as the sun was setting over the city.

The day was closed out with Pizza, beer and an intense Foosball tournament between friends. It was a great but short trip since we started the drive back to Cincinnati at around 10 am on Sunday morning. It sucks that the people that we love so much live so far away but we try to make the best of every visit.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Putting Up Some More Frames

Two years ago we visited Italy on our honeymoon during which in Piazza Navona, I fell in love with the work of this one artist. These six paintings are my favorite souvenir from the trip but I totally forgot I had them them so they sat collecting dust in the back of my closet.

Having breakfast one day, inspiration struck! The wall by the laundry door in the breakfast nook would be the perfect place to exhibit these pretty paintings. 6 paintings 4 to be placed horizontally, 2 vertically, now I had to figure out the best placement.

I decided on using a grid pattern for placing the frames in two neat rows. I cut out tissue paper in the shapes of the frames and used two strips of blue painters tape as a way of separating the frames. I used Command Picture Hanging Strips, instead of making tons of holes in the wall.

I placed the first frame and then freaked out! The wall looked like this for
more than four months until I ,mustered up the courage to finish.

Four months later and I had finally put all the frames up!

Finished product

Monday, November 3, 2014

3 Day Getaway: Riviera Maya

On May 26, Tomas and  celebrated our 2nd year anniversary with a short trip to Mexico!

A lot of research went into selecting what part of Mexico we would like to visit as well as selecting a resort once I narrowed down the city. Airfare ended up making the decision for me since flights to Cancun were about half the cost of flying to Cabo. In terms of the resort, I knew I wanted an adults only, all inclusive outside of the "party zone" which eliminated anything near Cancun. Our plan was to relax and refresh on this trip not party it up.

I expanded my search towards the Riviera Maya and ended up selecting Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Kian in Akumal, Mexico. Although the hotel was 90 minutes away from the airport, it had every single thing I wanted in a resort. Adults only, all inclusive with various themed restaurants and a hot tub in the room. We were free to visit all the other Grand Bahia Principe resorts by taking a free trolley between them, Since Sian Kian was a fairly quiet resort we ventures to some of the others to scope out the scene and can report that they are much livelier
We were greeted at the hotel lobby with a drink 

A week before leaving for Mexico, I contacted Guest Services to ask if it were possible to get a free room upgrade since we would be celebrating our anniversary and boy did they deliver!

We were upgraded to a ground level garden suite which they filled with balloons and chocolate. We even got a free bottle of tequila! The Garden suite had a big patio with a private hot tub as well as a small living room inside, which was one of our favorite things about the resort. Upgrading to a room with a hot tub is definitively worth it.


Our private Jacuzzi and patio

As soon as we arrived we booked both of the resorts specialty restaurants, Maiko and Alux through their new app. Dining at Alux was one of the highlights of the trip, the food was delicious and the service was incredible. We were greeted with some champagne in celebration of our anniversary and they even had a special cake for us at the end of our meal. They really took the time to make us feel special during our stay.

We spent most of the trip lounging around the pool, rather than at the beach. It was just easier to walk out of the hotel suite and into the pool than have to ride the trolley to the beach. When we did visit the beach, it was beautiful and by staying at Sian Kian we had beach side bar service so we could lounge on our beach chair and have an unlimited amount of alcohol delivered to us.


On the last day of our trip we booked a day long tour with Mayan Explorers. We selected The Mayan Experience tour which visits Chichen Itza, Ik Kil Cenote, Ek Balam and Valladolid. The tour included transportation between the sites, from our hotel and back, lunch and a guide.

It was a three hour drive from the hotel to Chichen Itza, the first stop of the day.


The second stop was Il Kil, a cenote right outside Chichen Itza. Swimming in a cenote was a must do for me and the experience did not disappoint. the water was cool and refreshing, which was awesome after walking around Chichen Itza in the hot sun  and we were lucky enough that we didn't have to share it with a zillion other tourists.

The third stop of the day was Ek Balam, one of the few Mayan archaeological site you can still climb.

It was long was up!
Stucco Jaguar Altar halfway up the ruin
View from the top of the Acropolis of  Ek Balam. Undiscovered ruins still live underneath the trees

The last part of the day was a quick stop at Valladolid where we bought some refreshments before starting the three hour ride back to the hotel.


Although we only spent 4 days in Mexico, I know we will defenitively be back and after the incredible service we received at GBP Sian Kian, I'm pretty sure we'll go back to the same incredible resort.

Friday, October 17, 2014

After the Wedding: How the Boas Are Growing Together

The Boas got married on May 26, 2012, 2.5 wonderful years ago in early morning ceremony followed by a brunch reception. We were 22 and had just barely finished our college degrees. Though I had read over and over on the internet how I should wait until we were at least 25 if I wanted to have a chance at a successful married, I thought our age was no biggie!

My parents got married at 20 (Married for 27yrs), my grandparents at 18 (Married for 56 years), so I felt like getting married at 22 was no big deal. We got married 2 days after finishing our last college final and moved from Puerto Rico to Cincinnati together to start our first out-of-college jobs. At that point we had been dating for 5 years, had done the long distance thing for a while, lived through his parents separation and through my godfather’s passing. I thought we were ready; we knew each other well and had seen each other through some tough situations.

We spent the first 6 months of our marriage semi-long distance. He was working in consulting at the time, so he would fly out on Monday morning and be back home in time for dinner on Thursday night. Every weekend was a celebration; we really cherished our time together.  We went from living together our last year in college to having only a couple days a week. It was the first time in years was we didn’t see each other every day and we both gained a lot of independence as a result. While I spent every night home alone reading through the library, Tomas discovered a interest in going out and making new friends. Even with this new found independence, I really glad that we got to experience all of our adults “firsts: together – our first paycheck, buying our first car, buying our first house, adopting our first dog etc. It brought us closer together and we definitively bonded over these shared experiences.

The day we bought our first car!

I always heard people say don’t get married in your 20’s because you change so much during that time and my argument always was that people change their whole lives not just in your 20’s. But looking back there is some wisdom in that statement.
Right after our first anniversary Mr. Boa found a position locally and for the first time in our married life we were both living under the same roof 24/7. With this new situation came the most adjustment, we had both adopted our own habits and practices in the year apart that we know had to learn to deal with. It was like learning to live together all over again but now after having experienced the "real world" by ourselves. Most issues were mostly silly mundane things like how we walked the dog (I keep him tight on the leash, they hubby gives it free reign) but others were slightly bigger issues.
Our Yorkie-Poo, Gnocchi as a baby (He's now 2 yrs old and lots bigger!)
We had only known each other in the context of being overachieving undergrad students and in that lies one of our challenges. Turns out being college students was shielding our true nature. I really am an introvert, just as I did in college; there is nothing I enjoy more than a weekend snuggled in with a good book and a House of Cards marathon. Tomas on the other hand I recently discovered is not an introvert! Although he never showed any interest in partying in college ( He just REALLY wanted good grades so he spent all his free time studying), he’s really into meeting new people in this city and going out to experience the what Cincinnati has to offer. How do you spend your time together when each other HATES what the others interests are?
I'm really NOT into beer but Mr. Boa loves dark craft beers. So for his 25th Bday, we visited North High Brewing in Columbus so he could brew his own! The talented Lil Boa (My lil siss/MOH) created the awesome label putting his face on a quarter. 25 Birthday - Quarter.. get it?
We've learned to explore more of our interests outside of our relationship and to be intentional about finding things for us to enjoy together, in the process of which we have found some new hobbies. We've really enjoy traveling (We’ll have visited 9 states and 12 countries by the end of this year!) and LOVE working on the house; we refinished a dining room table and painted every single room of the house when we moved in. Mr. Boa has discovered that buying tickets makes me commit to going to social events so rather than popping by a bar after work, he buys tickets to the tons of craft beer or festivals in the city. I also need some quiet time to be able to function, so we've agreed that one of the days in a weekend we get to stay home and do nothing J Obviously this is a tiny issue compared to some of the challenges we will face in the future, but it was a great example of how our personal discovery has affected our relationship.

In Chichen Itza this past May celebrating our 2 year anniversary

Looking back, I can see where people were coming from when they said to wait to get married but I’m soooo glad we didn't listen. Although we've experienced some growing pains as we discovered who we were in this “grown-up world”, we also experienced so much joy. The past 2 years have been filled with so much laughter and love, the memories we've created I will cherish always.. We've grown both as a couple and as individuals; we've acknowledge our soft spots and have worked to fortify our marriage. It makes me happy to know that neither of one takes our relationship for granted. We understand that it must be nurtured and fed and doing so makes us both extremely happy since we know we are building something that will last forever. I’m so thankful that I found my partner so early in life, we get the chance to experience so much of life at each other’s side and we got a few years head start on building our marriage. We are just barely starting our journey.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Project 52: Date Jar

We usually don't exchange gifts for Valentines Day because I'm not a big fan of the holiday. In the past we've used the day as an excuse to do something adventurous. We've gone horseback riding on the beach, boating and rock climbing. This year we are going skiing for the first time at Perfect North in Indiana, but when I saw the Date Jar craft on Pinterest I couldn't resist

I'm the ultimate homebody. Nothing says great Friday night to me than a couch, a warm blanket and Netflix. On weekends, all I want to do is veg out and snuggle on the couch with the hubs. However, I do know that too much indoor time makes Tomas go a little stir crazy so the Date Jar is the perfect way to motivate me to go out a try some new things.

I saw this idea on Pinterest and there are a hundred different ways of doing it but I'll give you a quick rundown of what did. I grabbed a box of the biggest popsicle sticks I could find, a HUGE mason jar and 4 colors of acrylic paint. I spent 2 hours using leftover foam sponges to paint 3 coats on each side of the popsticle sticks.

I decided on having 4 categories: Stay at Home (Green), Less than $50(Blue), Less than $100(Purple) and More than $100 & require planning (Grey). The plan is to pull out a popsicle stick once a week so that we can go on a different date every week for the next year.

Please ignore my awful handwriting

$- Stay at Home
Movie Marathon
Thai Food and Board Games
Start a Game Tournament
Play Just Dance
Play PS3 (Her choice)
Play PS3 (Her choice)
Bake cookies together
Watch an entire season of a TV show
Cook Together a 5 Course Meal
1000 piece puzzle
Bubble Bath & Wine
Italy Night: Wine, Pasta & Movie
France Night:Wine, Cheese & Movie
Mexican Night: Margaritas, Tacos and Movie.
Asian Night: Takeout, Sudoku & Movie

$$- Under 50
Dessert Only Date
Go Bowling
Got to Arcade
Go Mini Golfing
Happy Hour
Grab some coffee and take a hike
Trip to the Dog Park
See a Drive-In movie
Trip to the Zoo
Trip to a Musuem
Trip to the Aquarium
Trip to the Farmers Market
Play Laser Tag
Walmart Bingo
Go Geocaching

$$$- Under 100
Dinner & a Movie (Her choice)
Dinner & a Movie (His choice)
Got to a new Restaurant
Take on a House Project
Restaurant Hop.
Head to the casino
Take a Cooking Class
Take a Painting Class
Take a Pottery Class
Dinner at Melting Pot

$$$$ - Over 100+
Weekend getaway
Concert and dinner (his choice)
Concert and dinner (her choice)
Dinner and a Show
Tickets to a Sporting Event
Go to the Symphony
Couples Massage
Day Trip to a different city
Go Horseback Riding
Go to the Ballet

Finished product

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

House One Year Anniversary

This past weekend we celebrated the one year house anniversary. 365 days later and we're still in love with the house and every day take us one step closer to making it the home of our dreams. Things have been a bit slow in the home improvement side because of the cold weather, but we're hoping once it arms up a bit we can start working on some new project.

The front of the house has stayed EXACTLY the same for the past year. We have loads of plans for the front of the house come spring, but unfortunately it still too cold outside to do anything fun. I'm dreaming of big colorful hydrangeas and  a new fun color for the front door.

First Floor
Of the dozens of houses that we saw, we fell in love with this house because it was a blank slate. From the minute you walked in everything a blank canvas I could work on. 

Shortly after moving we painted all of the rooms in the house, all four colors we used can be seen as soon as you walk in the door.

~Home Office~
Here's the former living room/now office as it looked on move-in day.

We painted the walls a light mint green called Behr Frosted Jade, added some Ikea Jannette curtains and hacked some Ikea Expedit 2X4's into a DIY semi built in bookcase with a desk.

~Dining Room~
The dining room was just another room painted beige when we moved in.

The dining room was painted a tealish turquoise blue called Behr Lap Pool Blue, we added our refinished dining room table and bought some metal dining chairs and 2 Henriksdal (with Gobo white cover).

There's a tiny half bath on the first floor.

We painted the half bathroom the bright tealish turquoise Behr Lap Pool Blue and brought in a little of gray and purple through the towels.

The two-story staircase is illuminated by a big side window.

The downstairs & upstairs hallway and the staircase were painted in a light grey from Behr, French Silver. We swapped the old brass light fixture for a purple globe light fixture and added a colorful gallery wall to bring some color into this bland space.

We recently changed the curtains to INGERLISE in Lilac from Ikea ($24.99)

The curtain is exactly the same shade of purple as our beloved YHL globe light fixture.

~Family Room~
The family room is a great entertaining space, open to the kitchen and breakfast nook.

We painted the family room a dark gray, Behr's Dark Pewter. We bought some light gray couches, added some colorful cushions and a cute throw. For now, the coffee table is the only place to store our many board games.

~Breakfast Nook~
The breakfast nook is a very useful space right off the kitchen on the day we moved in.

The kitchen/nook were painted in Behr's French Silver and since we loved our large purple light fixture in the stairwell so much, we decided to switch out the breakfast nook light for a smaller version of the purple globe. The house is officially brass free, since this light fixture was the last thing we needed to switch out.

The kitchen had all white appliances and beige walls.

The walls were painted in Behr's French Silver. The microwave and refrigerator were upgraded to stainless steel and satin nickel hardware was added to all the cabinets.

Second Floor

~Hall Bathroom~

We painted the hall bathroom in Behr's Dark Pewter and added some teal towels and a couple of colorful bathroom accessories.

~Guest Bedroom~
The room started out with just the dark blue carpet as a stand out.

The room was painted in Frosted Jade by Behr and HomeGoods carried a bedding set that tied in together the mint green of the walls with the dark blue of the carpet.

No babies yet, but the smallest room in the house was designated the nursery.

We painted it a neutral light gray, French Silver by Behr, thinking that is could be personalized with colored accents whenever a baby moves in.

~Master Bedroom~
The master bedroom gave is a lot of space to play with.
Sorry for the mess. We were so excited after closing that we decided to buy an inflatable mattress and stay the night.
We painted the walls a tealish turquoise blue, Lap Pool Blue by Behr, and paired it with some gray bedding. Recently we painted 2 Ikea Lack dressers to use as bedside table and scored a pig mirror at HomeGoods for $40.

~Master Bathroom~

 The master bathroom was painted in Behr's French Silver with some gray/teal accessories added.