Putting in the work

I originally wanted to start by saying “sorry this blog is waaaaay late” but you know what?? Screw it. I really really like blogging months after an event, experience, or even season for that matter.

So here’s the beginning of our summer!

We started of with a much anticipated hike we’ve had been trying to time perfectly for the past 2 years. Yeah, I know right. But whyyy? Because of Mother Nature, of course!

Our patience was rewarded with beautiful Rhododendron “peak blooms” located atop Roan Mountain, a five mile ridgeline from Roan High Knob to Carver’s Gap along the Appalachian Trail.

They only bloom once a year and the sweet spot constantly changes so it’s kinda finicky to plan ahead. Lucky for us, we didn’t have much planned for June and we ended up hiking a few days before our 5-year wedding anniversary. Perfect!

I still remember what a gorgeous day it was but remember the vibrant blooms even more–the flame azaleas (orange flowers) were my favorite! I didn’t get much photos of the pink rhododendrons but they were pretty as well.

If you look closely below, you’ll see people hiking on the Appalachian trail just like we did.  Cool fact, on the left side is Tennessee and right side is North Carolina. 

I don’t know why it is but I love it when a trail gets tightly narrow AND when there’s flowers sprinkle along the pathway.

We even caught sight of a deer lazily grazing for a late breakfast. I was so still. And when I heard people behind me, I instinctively remember making a soft shush sound  and they immediately stopped and looked at where I had Hans pointed and enjoyed the view too.

There were also plenty of other wildflowers showing off like these yellow ones. I regret not taking a photo but I loved the tall grass swaying in the wind too. Continue reading “Putting in the work”

Charmed

This is kind of late but fitting because I’m sharing my birthday celebration from this past November as we are welcoming 2021.

Fitting because they are both worth celebrating. Me with a new year of life to look forward to. And cheers to hopefully a better and brighter year for all in 2021!

I knew my 30th rotation around the sun would be a memorable one indeed. But goshhhhh, I will never forget it or 2020.

I know a lot of bad happened and still continues, but with all the dark and sad days it made me appreciate all the good that much more.

Please excuse me while I try to focus on that good.

In no particular order:

My parents finally became grandparents to TWO beautiful babies.

And I became a proud proud auntie again and again!

Khang and I spent more quality time than I could’ve ever wished for and realized how lucky I am to call him mine. It only strengthen our marriage.

I fell deep in love with our home and back yard.

Spent loads of time bonding with my sweet nephews in Virginia.

Realized we wanted to start a family sooner than later.

Found out we will become an auntie and uncle to TWO more babies in Spring 2021!

More time spent in the great outdoors… King’s Mountain, Catawba Trails, Grayson Highlands, and Blue Ridge Parkway+.

Clocked in 140+ hours driving safely from Charlotte to MS for more family time.

Accepted a part-time teaching position as a clinical instructor at CPCC Dental Hygiene Program here in Charlotte. On my birthday at that. Hopefully that’s a good sign.

And lastly, all our loved ones are safe and healthy.

All this good. I’m rolling it up and taking its good vibes and energy with me into 2021 and my 31st year.

It was important to me to mark the end of my 30th year on a happy note, so Khang and I set our eyes on Charleston, SC. Finally.

It did not disappoint. So much history and charm bursting at every corner.

Here are a few photos from our basically 48 hour getaway.

Not pictured are the delicious shared meals and absolutely lovely alleyways we found along the way.

Also Khang being Khang found this wonderful audio tour that we used during our self-guided biking/walking tour.

Y’all it was such a beautiful day! I couldn’t believe our luck…truly believe we were charmed during our entire stay in Charleston.

Our tour started at the corner of Church and Cumberland Streets. Notice the “French Quarter” print!

Tower of St.Phillips Church

Our first alley in Charleston was Philadelphia Alley!

If I had known, I would’ve taken a photo of each alley we explored. I could write a separate blog about them alone. I only have photos of Philadelphia on Hans.

But I strongly encourage everyone to find these secretly tucked away alleys. I think we walked through at least 6-7.

My favorite was Stoll’s Alley. I took this quick snap with my phone. It was the narrowest alleyway.

Dock Street Theatre

Next up is Joe Riley Waterfront Park or The Pineapple Fountain. Why a pineapple?? Because it has historically served as a symbol of Southern hospitality.

I loved biking through this area so much! The grove of oak trees with hanging spanish moss during sunset was beautiful!

Of course, Rainbow Row was a highlight for me. I love colorful anything.

All that and more like the Historic Charleston City Market, Pink House, more alleyways, and The Battery all happened before noon, so we biked back to our cottage for an afternoon nap.

Y’all already know. It’s me.

We really enjoyed our cottage ( really a pool house) which was also located in an alleyway and within walking distance from King’s Street.

We even found the cutest neighborhood bakery around 1.5 blocks from our cottage.

After recharging we explored more alleyways and empty historic neighborhoods just really enjoyed and appreciated all the charm and architecture.

I forgot to mention this was all Day 2.

On Day 1 when we arrived, we ate a late lunch, perused up and down King’s Street, bought a few vinyls for my girl Phoebe (phonograph/record player), and drove out to see the gorgeous Angel Tree.

There was so much I didn’t capture with Hans but I hope you have an idea of just how lovely Charleston is enough to go yourself!

Please feel free to ask questions if you’re curious.

Of course we practiced social distancing and wore masks in public except when eating.

Speaking of eating, restaurants and dishes worth noting: The Seafood Plateau + raw oysters at The Darling Oyster, THE Ricotta Gnocchi Bolognese at Fig, Okonomiyaki with pork candy + Papaya Salad at Xiao Bao, everything at La Patisserie, and Vicious Biscuit.

Now I’m hungry.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year–I have loads to share from all our holiday festivities too especially DIYs. Soon!

Thank you for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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‘Tis the season to be thankful

Update: Our Christmas Card photo for 2020 at Crabtree Falls

 Khang and I went on a long-planned camping trip with friends towards the end of September. It was wonderful to say the least. I mention it because at that time in Virginia hints of fall were beginning to peek through.

Then in early October we snuck away for our Fourth Annual Fall Hike for Christmas card photos. Here are ones from previous years!

But honestly, our main goal was to experience the full effects of fall in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. And gosh, it did not disappoint. I’m sharing photos of that trip here.

Rewind to now and fall is in full swing in Charlotte! So it’s almost been 2 months of a glorious fall for us!

It feels like the loooooongest fall season of my life!

And it hit me…why don’t we do this every single year?? Because y’all, fall is and has always been my favorite season.

Growing up in MS only allowed maybe a full week  or two of fallish weather (or what I thought was a fall). Hah!

Excuse me while I secretly plot the same for next year (and every year thereafter).

I doubt Khang will even complain and dub it a genius idea.

I enjoy change and the change of a season is one of my favorite things about Mother Earth.

But with fall, it’s not only the change of the weather, air or trees that I love so much.

It’s the distinct reminder for all the good that has already taken place before the year comes to a close.

Unfortunately there was and continues to be a lot of bad in 2020.

And it throws me into a deeper appreciation for life and the people I love in it.

Tis’ the season to be thankful indeed.

So I thought it would be fun to include more photos than I’d usually share from this year’s annual fall hike.

As always, Khang’s patience with me while experimenting with Hans was much appreciated. I’m excited to send out our Christmas card this year. It turned out better than expected because we felt like idiots running back and forth. Well mostly just me.

I liked this spot so much that we came back  for a second round of photos after hiking Crabtree Falls.

Beautiful cascading waterfall! And a very enjoyable and slippery (from recent rainstorm) hike.


I almost broke my rule and thought about using two photos for our card with this one too but ultimately decided against it.

These were taken on our sunset hike to Hawksbill Outlook. GORGEOUS VIEWS!! I almost picked the last one for our card too.

Mainly landscape portraits of Grandfather Mountain. Like WOW! His majesty reminded me of The Grand Canyon. Like poetry.

Last photo taken with Hans and it’s of Khang overlooking the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Perhaps my favorite part of our entire trip that’s not pictured was driving with the sunroof open and taking in all the strikingly beautiful fall foliage with Khang next to me.

Le sigh. Until we meet again.

Thanks for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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Uncle and Auntie T-rex

Sometimes life can be a blur.

Though lately, this pandemic has slowed my life down significantly and produced very precise highlights in time. 

After the first three months of abiding to North Carolina’s “stay-at-home” mandate and pretty much leaving once a week to buy groceries down the street, Khang and I cautiously decided to visit our nephews near the DC area.

I remember hesitantly hugging both nephews and my sister/brother-in-law. It felt like a very unknown gesture that seemed so out of practice.

But we hopped right into it as “Uncle and Auntie T-rex” (major kudos to Khang for giving us such awesome monikers!) because with young and active little boys…you gotta keep up! 

This pandemic has heartbreakingly cost unmeasurable lives and still is affecting our world in ways I feel will not be fully understood or uncovered for decades to come.

Some days I feel like I am okay and other days, I have no words.

And y’all, I am not on the front lines or deemed “essential”. So I will not even begin to unjustly try to imagine what it’s been like for those from grocery store workers to healthcare providers or the sacrifices they have made and continue to do at this very second. 

The optimist in me always trying to push through has shown how the “gift of time” has been given to me and Khang. 

I kind of touched on this here during our first 10 days in.

To put it short, our week-long visit with our nephews really changed us

I do not know if they will remember it 10 or 20 years from now, but I know I will

I cannot recall when I realized I wanted to marry Khang. It just kind of happened over the course of time. 

But knowing for sure when we wanted to grow our family. Well that happened during this trip to DC. We realized we want to try sooner than later. 

Babies are cute, don’t get me wrong. 

But as they get older. Gosh it’s the best in my opinion! Their personalities shine through and you appreciate that they have their own little thoughts and opinions. And their avid enthusiasm to learn and soak up information is just the sweetest and most rewarding feeling because you played a tiny part in it. And when you don’t, you are the proudest ever because they learned it all on their own

I know being an aunt is nothing compared to being a mom. Not even close, but I accept I will not know until I become one. 

However, I will always remember that being an aunt, their Auntie T-rex, is when and how I first realized I was “ready” to be a Mom.

Here are a few photos from us at the Strawberry Patch, which we used to make homemade strawberry ice cream and mixed cocktails. Such delicious summer treats!

Just to be clear, “sooner” for us is still a few years out. But even so, we practice Natural Family Planning (NFP) and that has always put us in the mindset of “having a baby is a blessing” at any time. 

So actually what was the main point of this blog??

Khang and I are closer to growing our little family and well, I am just the happiest thinking about it all.

Thank you for reading and following along

with me,

Jules.

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Mr. Phamtastic

Khang,

You drive me absolutely crazy. And what’s funny is I drive you even crazier. You’re the only person I know who dislikes making a big deal out of their birthday, so naturally, I like to make up for it.

I know I tell you all the time, but here’s another time for the people in the back, you are the best husband.

Thank youuu for helping me with all my endless projects (and toughing out our disagreements that usually come along!), for immediately calling me out when I’m not being my best and keeping me grounded, for feeding me when I forget, so that the unlucky ones don’t feel my wrath (usually you!), and most of all, for inspiring me to live life like the greatest adventure it is.

I love you, Mr. Phamtastic.

Thank you for being so wonderfully you.

not just on your birthday, but everyday!

Truly yours,

Mrs. Phamtastic