Valentine’s Day: You Rock!

I la la la love sending some of the most important girls in my life something sweet and cute every year.

It’s kinda like tradition for us.

This year is special because I officially gained THREE NEW SISTERS since last Valentine’s Day so they’ve been added to the mix.

I’ve been planning this day since September, but my original goal didn’t turn out the way I wanted.

So I was perusing the web and saw this cute idea from the Honest Company, which was perfect because I recently collected rocks as souvenirs from Patagonia for my girls to begin with anyways.

Don’t you love it when it works out perfectly?

It also gave me an excuse to use my totally cool new Embosser that my best friend, Michelle, got me for Christmas! Along with the pens and powder!

She’s the absolute best.

The pictures explain pretty well so I won’t go into details, but please comment below if you have questions 🙂

A little gold paint added a nice sparkly touch.

Always always wait to fully dry.

Too cool right?! Be careful not to burn yourself. 

The powder was “copper” but after heating it, it turned this lovely rose gold tint.

Wrapped and ready to mail-off.

With a little calligraphy message.

I can’t wait for my girls to get theirs. Some will arrive after Valentine’s Day, but hey, who says it should only be a celebrated for a day?

This post is super late, but I got busy with travel plans. Maybe an idea to keep in mind for next year? You can even start collecting rocks for a whole year and give them to your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day 2018. He or she will definitely feel like they “rock”!

One of my favorite days to browse on Facebook and Instagram is on Valentine’s Day because I love seeing all the sweet and precious gestures people do to show their appreciation and adoration for their loved ones.

But honestly, can we celebrate “Love Day” everyday please? I know I try to 🙂

Thanks for reading and following along,

with me


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Travelwithjules: Patagonia [Day Five] YAY!

I’ve put a lot of thought into this and I’m going to start with the end of [Day Five] and tell today’s story backwards because the highlight of our trip and my favorite moment took place at the start of this morning.

Trust me.

Here’s to hoping I don’t confuse y’all.

Remember how yesterday’s uphill hike was the most grueling and toughest of all? Well it was a breeze going down.

Khang and I even gave out a few double “Hola Hola!”

Our last hike ever in Patagonia was met with this beautiful view at Camp Central Torres’ lounge.

I rewarded myself with 2 cups of hot white strawberry chocolate. Best hot chocolate ever. And I’ve had a lot. I wrote down the brand and will be ordering some real soon.

Khang opted for a box of wine. Ha. Complete opposites, I know.

Khang shooting video on his GoPro. Can’t wait to see what he captured!

Suddenly remembered our first bus ride to Torres del Paine. It was two hours long and for the first 1.5 hours there wasn’t a mountain in sight.

Then I saw it. A mountain. I turned to Khang, smiled real big, and told him how I realized the reason I love mountains so much is because they make my heart leap.

Big leaps.

If I remember correctly, Khang was trying to convince me to take off my hat. My Ole Miss hat. Got a fun picture out of it.

Yes, you can pay a pretty penny to get up the hill to Camp Chileno by horse.

But what’s the fun in that?

Oh and it was not fun trying to dodge horse poo along the trail.

Imagine a variety of rocks settled randomly for miles and then a blanket of grass and shrubs laid over all the rocks.

That’s my best description of the terrain pictured below. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Okay so that’s one hike down. We also did another hike to Las Torres in the morning.

The reason why we tried to go to bed at 8 pm the night before is because we planned to wake up at 3:30 am to hike in order to catch the sunrise at Las Torres.

Call us insane, but it was insanely beautiful. You’ll see.

After our morning hike, we went straight to our tent and took a nap. It was about 9 am when we got back. Too exhausted to even take off our shoes. So anyone who passed by, all they saw were two sets of feet outside of our tent.

The next series of photos show Las Torres before sunrise, during sunrise, and after sunrise.

We were the second couple to get there. I found us a rock to sit on, took out a sleeping bag to keep warm, and we just waited for the sun.

Y’all, I’m not even going to try to describe it because I still haven’t found the right words.

Khang did a time lapse with his GoPro. I’ve watched it like 34657 times. I can’t wait for y’all to see it.

TA-DA! Sunrise at its peak on Las Torres.

Sigh. Those colors. Only at sunrise.

See how it’s losing color as time goes by? Most people only get color from the lake in their photos.

Last picture in front of Las Torres with our signature pose.

Yep, highlight of our Epic Patagonia Adventure.

Like I mentioned before, our highlight, but not my favorite moment.

My favorite moment happened about 10 minutes before we reached Las Torres.

The inclines were getting to me again. Khang helped me along the way with his usual self and even started humming “Eye of the Tiger” to motivate me, which triggered lots of giggles.

But what really pushed me through the last part of the hike was when Khang grabbed my hand, squeezed it, and said through his smile, “Just imagine. Now we can tell our children how we were crazy enough to wake up at 3:30 in the morning to catch the sunrise at Las Torres. It’s going to be a great story!”

And if that wasn’t enough to bring me to tears.

He continued to mention our rock climbing on the mountainsides in Switzerland, paragliding the Swiss skyline, driving a Vespa in Tuscany, Italy and so on…

I don’t know what it is, but since we got married, the slightest mention of our nonexistent children strikes a cord in me. A good one.

I’ve got a good husband. I’m so grateful for Khang and his willingness to explore new lands with different people, language, food….culture!

I don’t want to get political, but I also don’t want y’all to think we were completely oblivious to what was happening in the USA while were were traveling.

This is only about my personal experience. I understand everyone has a different story. This is mine.

We read about the Travel Ban on [Day Three]. I woke up from my nap, decided to buy Wifi for the first time, and saw the NPR article. My heart sank. I went to my room where there wasn’t any signal. I went to think.

I thought about a period of time when I would tense up when hearing a different language from my own: English or Vietnamese.

The reason because I was scared at something unknown to me. And I hated myself for that fear. For what? I was never harmed.

It was an unwanted awareness in myself and something I wanted to change in myself.

Traveling has helped me with that.

Now, I don’t feel threaten when I hear a different language or see someone different from me. In fact, I enjoy it when I’m able to figure out what ethnicity that person is or where they’re from.

It doesn’t pass me that I’m privileged to live in a safe environment. But it’ll be a sad day when I’m forced to a “bubble”.

I have yet to mention all the wonderful people Khang and I met during this trip alone. They traveled from France, Spain, Bolivia, Australia, Scotland, even the USA too…all different, but we were all together for one common reason: To explore.

Let me decide where I’m able to discover. And let me decide for myself how to live my life.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Okay, bare with me. One last thing.

[Day Five] is the last day to blog about Patagonia and today is also conveniently KHANG’S BIRTHDAYYY!!!!

You might’ve noticed how most of my FB and IG posts were of him. It was purposely done for his birthday week. Ha.

I’ll try not to get too mushy-gushy.

Mr. Pham, I would say to “never change because you’re perfect just the way you are”, but after almost 12 years, I’ve learned that you just get better with age. No one changes as gracefully as you. Life is wonderfully more adventurous, beautiful, and loving with you in it. So here’s to wishing you a long and healthy life. I love you big. Like real big.

I am also excited to launch the First Edition of Khangology!!! Perfect timing eh?! I’ve been working on this since we got married. Just tid-bits of Khang talking haha. I hope y’all enjoy it as much as I did “collecting” it.

–Khang retelling a conversation with one of our wedding videographers* Khang: OMG. I need to find Julie. This is her song. Avery: Go find her, man! I asked what was the song and he replied, “Back that ass up.” haha So true. It’s my song.

–Khang looking at the condensation on our bedroom window and saying, “The house is melting!”

–“I love parking in the back of the house. Because when I drive out, I feel like Batman driving out of The Bat Cave.”

–“Don’t fret baby, I’ll make an Excel spreadsheet that will solve all our problems.”

–During dinner at Torres Central after he drank all his boxed wine.*Khang: (In Vietnamese) “Em” so drunk that “em” can’t even butter my roll. Me: Yeah, so drunk that you’re calling yourself “em”.

–After watching a bad attack on League of Legends-LOL (computer game)* Khang: “WTF?!” Me: Calm down, it’s okay. Khang: (Dramatically) “You don’t understand this (LOL) life…then YOU don’t understand ME!” Me: Eye-roll.

That’s all for now folks.

Thanks for reading (a lot) and following along,

with me


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Travelwithjules: Patagonia [Day Four]

The next two days of hiking are often completed by people in ONE DAY.

That’s something I’m grateful for– being able to take our time. To have the option to wait 20 minutes for a cloud to pass or just stop to look around and take it all in.

I feel like many people rush through the “W-Trek” because of the time crunch to finish the entire route. [Pro] is you get to see more views. [Con] is are you really able to appreciate all the beauty around you?

I’m probably just jealous because we didn’t get to hike through French Valley

We had the best weather during these two last days, but with the toughest trails because of the insanely high incline.

From base to top is around 2,467 feet! I never wanted to quit, but I sure felt like taking an indefinite break. Ha.

In the picture below, you can see Camp Paine Grande, which is where we spent the night. You can imagine our view at breakfast.

Our last look before taking the ferry on Lake Pehoé again.

Views during our bus ride to Camp Torres Central.

After rearranging our things to condense what we needed into one backpack at Torres Central, we left our things there , and started our 3.5-mile hike to Camp Chileno.

Basically hiking uphill the entire time.

So this meant many many breaks.

Khang and I saw faces of fatigue on almost everyone hiking down while we hiked up. Remember that people usually hike from Torres Central to Las Torres in one day and we were doing it in two days.

I forgot to mention how Khang and I said “Hola!” to almost everyone we passed by on all five days that we were there.

Yep, we were that couple.

No matter the weather or how tired we were…if you were near us then we greeted you. Khang got fancy on me and started saying “Buenos Dias”, which means “Good morning”. We said those two phrases so much that he research on how to say “Good luck hiking today”… um yeah…I told him that was maybe trying too hard.

Talk about a valley! This was the flattest it got during the hike, which was also at the very end. My thighs were so relieved!

Camp Chileno was the only place where we camped and it was the perfect choice because it felt like we were camping in the trees.

The bathrooms weren’t very clean so we opted not to shower and went straight to bed after dinner.

I enjoyed dinner at Camp Chileno the most. We were served this deliciously fresh appetizer that I cannot forget about. You can bet to see it on “Cookingwithjules” in the near future.

It was hard because the sun doesn’t set till almost 10 pm in Patagonia. Awesome for hiking all day, but bad when you’re planning to wake up really really early the next day.

Us trying to map out our way for the hike to Las Torres. 

Thanks to Khang’s master planning–the highlight of our trip was on the last day of trekking to Las Torres.

And boy was it absolutely brilliant.

Oh gosh, I can’t wait to share with you guys. One more day. I promise it’ll be worth it.

Thanks for reading and following along,

with me


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Travelwithjules: Patagonia [Day Three]

The worst weather we had was on [Day Three].

Remember that crazy weather I mentioned yesterday?

“Cloudy, sun, rain, sun, sleet, rain, and sun–all in one day”

This was the day.

Hence very few photos.

We left Camp Grey and headed back to Camp Paine Grande (7 miles).

I forgot to mention yesterday about the areas where fires occurred along our hike from Camp PG to Camp Grey. We heard people talking about a fire in 2011, but didn’t really know the details.

“More than 16,000 hectares (nearly 40,000 acres) were destroyed by a fire that forced the closure of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park between December 29, 2011, and January 4, 2012, and caused permanent environmental damage in one of the most beautiful places in the world…on December 29, 2011, another Israeli citizen caused the second fire in one year when he tried to burn some toilet paper. The devastation, in this case, was far worse. So much so that volunteers from all over the world came to offer help, including Australian firefighters.”

Full article here.

Even after over 5 years, you can still see the devastation. This is probably why the park is very strict about their “fire policies”. All visitors also MUST have lodging reservations if they want to stay at the park overnight. You cannot freely camp along the trails.

And for good reason. Be responsible when you’re out there enjoying Mother Nature’s beauty y’all.

[Insert hiking photos of us in the rain, pushing against strong winds, and running in sleet]

We checked-in at Camp PG and dried off. I was ready for a nap, but the weather was sunny again so off we went on a 2-mile hike to a lookout at Lake Sköttsberg.

A closer look at Lake Pehoé.

When we made it to the lookout, a huge cloud was covering the mountain (still not sure of its name).

I asked Khang if we could wait a “little” to see if the clouds would move.

He was totally cool with it so we found a rock to sit on and waited for 2o minutes.

And what a difference 20 minutes make.

Now is the perfect time to praise Khang. He was so patient with me when I wanted to stop and take photographs. He didn’t once complain about me taking too long.

There was a moment when he even held his hat over the Nikon to keep it from getting wet so I could focus on focusing the camera!

Not only was he patient with me taking pictures.

He was just patient with me.

And I could not have been more surprised. Of course, he’s always been, but y’all I was so so slooooooow hiking up those inclines. It was really hard on me.

But his hand was always there to meet me when I struggled to get up on a rock,

or he was behind me lifting up my heavy backpack to take some weight off.

I feel like I really learned the meaning of “Love is patient” during this trip. If you’re searching for a “marriage retreat”, look no further.

Patagonia will not only test you, it will test and strengthen your marriage.

Okay, continuing on…

We headed back to Camp PG once we realized the clouds weren’t going to spoil us anymore.

[Insert running in the rain and realizing you have flurries on your eyelashes]

And there it was… waiting for us…a nice warm fireplace.

The final two days were my favorite. Can’t wait to share more tomorrow.

Thanks for reading and following along,

with me


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Travelwithjules: Patagonia [Day Two]

The morning of [Day Two] was cloudy with drizzling rain on-and-off.

But that didn’t stop us.

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Glacier Grey.

Pictures just don’t do justice.

Even at this distance, in person, it looked massive and majestic.

At this outlook, we saw a spot on a rock for a closer view of Glacier Grey and an iceberg.

The only things in our way were these huge rock formations that we had to climb up and down over.

First time seeing a glacier.

First time seeing a rainbow on top of a glacier.

Windyyy. . .

Rainyyy. . .

On top of these rock formations were stacks of rocks placed by other people. I guess it was a way of leaving their “mark”.

So we left ours too.

We decided to get closer to Glacier Grey so onward we went for about 4 miles to another outlook. The incline was around 1,315 feet.

I should mention my thighs were loving me during this entire trip.

The closest we got to Glacier Grey!

Perfect timing for a picnic lunch with a “glacier view”.

We headed back down to Camp Grey after lunch and getting our full of Glacier Grey.

I thought it would be boring backtracking on the same trail, but I was pleasantly surprised.

It was like a whole new trail.

I was so focused on getting to the top while hiking “up” that I didn’t really notice my surrounding.

So as we hiked “down”… it was an eye-opener.

The terrain was beautiful. So green. Kind of had that “Lord of the Rings” forest feel.

Filling up our bottle with water from one of many streams.

We purchased a brand-spanking new water micro-filter just for the trip.

Never used it. No need to. Purest of water.

Notice the haziness on top of the mountains from the cloudy weather.

View from the porch.

After a hot shower, we took a nice long nap.

View from top bunk.

I woke up and saw that the weather cleared up! 

The weather in Patagonia is extremely bipolar due to the high elevation and strong winds.

Real life example: Cloudy, sun, rain, sun, sleet, rain, and sun–all in one day.

This was the campsite area for Camp Grey! Just beautiful.

Notice the absence of “haziness” on top of the mountains compared to before. 

Timing is everything in Patagonia.

I hope y’all are enjoying our days so far.

Like I said yesterday, didn’t get too many pictures. Please feel free to ask questions if you’re wondering anything.

Thanks for reading and following along,

with me