Christmas Time is Here…Again

Actually, it ‘was’ here again! Thats what I get for being so behind on my posts! But, this is one of my New Year’s resolutions…so fingers crossed I wont be behind forever!

Christmas this year was wonderful, as always. But, it was also a little busier and faster pace than normal.

Typically, for Christmas, traveling back home to the States, or even to Europe, is out of the question. So we opt for the second best…about a week posted up on a beach on the coast of Tanzania or Zanzibar.

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Sunset in Stonetown – Christmas 2016

This year, with Colton’s family settling into a new place, we spent Christmas with them.

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Ceremony at our friends wedding – Arusha, TZ

We did manage to squeeze in maybe 2 days at the beach, but not before driving to Arusha for a friends wedding.

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Reception at the wedding – full night of dancing and good times!

The wedding was two of our good friends from when we lived in Arusha. It was stunning. Nothing from the wedding was less than picturesque!

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The bride and groom leaving the ceremony 🙂

After a fabulous night of dancing and visiting with friends we headed to the coast. This was mostly to get away and have a mini vacay with just the two of us...no one else. This is somewhat of a rarity out here, but also much needed. One part of Colton’s job is that its always with him. So, even if he spends a 10hr day at the office or in fields, when he gets home there are always people calling or knocking on the door. Its never ending and absolutely draining.

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Everything about the wedding was perfect 🙂

So if we can get even just 2 days alone without interruption we are stoked! (and we don’t even have kids yet!)

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Colton and I on a special date night in Dar 🙂

The coast was great. We got a few days at the beach. A bit of rain. Some necessary shopping, and even a night out watching the new Star Wars in the cinema.

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Date night in Dar with a fabulous sunset!

We arrived at Colton’s parents house (about 9hrs drive from the coast) a few days before Christmas.

On Christmas eve we attended a midnight service. It was held in an old stable of a British dairy farm and was beautiful. Colton’s dad gave a brief message to the crowd before singing in Christmas morning with carols.

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The stables for the candlelight service – Christmas Eve

Christmas day was relaxing and refreshing just being with family. No obligations or itineraries. We exchanged gifts, ate delicious food, and watched fun tv shows.

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Christmas in Iringa – Tanzania

Because Colton’s company was sending some people down to our branch 2 days after Christmas, we had to leave early the day after Christmas. I know i’ve mentioned this drive in previous posts, but nothing like a 12 hour drive leaving at 4am to get you out of the holiday spirit! The relaxing was done.

Thankfully, New Years Eve was over a weekend and we were able to join some friends ‘camping’ at Lake Tanganyika. The only ‘camping’ thing about it was that we cooked our own food over a fire. The rest of it was luxury – even the shared bathrooms for the campsites!

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Lake Tanganyika 

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Old mission ruins on Lake Tanganyika

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Old mission ruins on Lake Tanganyika

The holiday season was quick but still full of great memories and cherished moments 🙂

“Its’ really just a interesting psychological phenomenon…”

Most families have favorite movies they quote over and over again. Eventually, these quotes gain a status within the family that can be used in any situation.

“Its’ really just a interesting psychological phenomenon…”

For my (husband’s) family, this is one of a few!

It might not sound very funny, but for anyone who has seen The God’s Must Be Crazy, you will appreciate this quote! We use this quote so frequently and has been found to come in handy in almost any situation! You will either love it or hate it. But, I say give it a try ;)

And for anyone who has spent a length of time in Africa you will really appreciate the humor in this movie!

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Learning how to roast our own coffee!

The month of October was well anticipated for the arrival of my husbands sister and her husband from the States. It had been over 5 years since she had last been ‘home’ – here in Tanzania.

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Explaining about importance of growing fruits – Rukwa Valley

The whole month was planned out from them traveling off the beaten path to our home (with the entire family), to lake Nyasa/Malawi for a mini family vacay with my husband (he had to work the remainder of their time in Africa), to exploring the winding streets of Stonetown and the white beaches of Zanzibar.

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mini family vacay – Matema, Lake Nyasa/Malawi, Tanzania

After they spent a few days with the whole family at our house, and a quick camping trip, we all traveled to the lake for a couple of nights as mini family vacay (as mentioned).

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Dust storm – Rukwa Valley

From there, my husband went back home and I continued with his family for the rest of the month.

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Rainy days couldn’t keep us from the beautiful ocean! – Kendwa, Zanzibar

We all missed having my husband with us but that didn’t keep us from a wonderful time traveling across the country!

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Waiting for the rain to stop – Kendwa, Zanzibar

More fun pics from our time with my husbands family!

Adventure Awaits…

From all my posts and social media accounts (ok, I really only have instagram and this blog…and facebook..but who really uses fb anymore?), Im sure it seems like our lives are always full of adventure. Although we do go through quite a bit of adventure living in a rural area of Africa, its not as abundant as my social media accounts make it appear. After all, who wants to see the boring stuff, like organizing movies, cleaning out closets, meal planning, trying to practice my Swahili, or just sitting scrolling through Pinterest?

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A typical un-eventful day at our house-working in the garden to harvest strawberries and spinach 🙂

Despite what my intro to this post says…this post is not going to show off the boring stuff. In fact, its just going to highlight a few ‘adventures’ we have gone on over a course of about 3 months.

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Sunset at Utengule Coffee Lodge – Mbeya, Tanzania

I’ve had to do quite a bit of traveling without my husband the past few months. That might sound ‘exciting’ or ‘adventurous’, but to be honest, it really wasn’t. haha. I had to travel to the main city of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, to renew my passport. You can’t mail it. I was able to spend a few days at the beach. But thats always a little boring without someone to share it with. The important thing is that I got my passport renewed and finally was able to update my horrible passport pic from highschool!

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I was lucky to have a bit of sunshine at the beach while in Dar!

I spent a few weeks with my husbands family while attending a language course. We visited a national game park where we stayed next to a Hippo pond. Hiked a mountain behind our house. Took a weekend away at a coffee lodge. Went to visit some fields with my husband. Checked out an old rainforest near by (that has since been cut down/burned by probably 90% – so its not a rainforest anymore). Harvested some coffee from our backyard and learned how to process and roast it.

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Hippos in Katavi National Park – Tanzania. No they aren’t dead! They are staying cool in the mud during the height of the dry season.

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Our ‘driveway’. 

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Children playing in a sand river – Rukwa Valley, Tanzania. During rainy season this sand river turns into a flashflood zone and swift moving river!

It was a busy 3 months. Lots of time away from each other. But also full of small adventures and quality time together 🙂

More pictures from our ‘adventures’!

Treat Yo Self!

Who doesn’t LOVE chocolate?! Ok, to be honest, I’ve actually met a few people who don’t like chocolate…can you imagine?! They are definitely missing out!

Usually eating chocolate or dessert is thought of as ‘unhealthy’ or ‘bad’. I’m here to disagree! 

I have always had a huge sweet tooth. Thankfully, throughout high school I played soccer and was very athletic, otherwise I would have blown up from all the junk food, chocolate ice cream, and anything else dessert-y that I ate!

Now that I don’t play soccer any more (and am quite a bit older), I have to be more conscious about what I eat. Don’t get me wrong! I still indulge in pastas, breads, desserts, etc. Just not 24/7 like I used to!

So, a few years ago I was browsing through Pinterest looking for a ‘healthy’ alternative for my sweet tooth. I came across this recipe that looked pretty good. I had all the ingredients (which is rare out here when it comes to ‘health’ ingredients), and thought I would give it a try.

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All the ingredients…so simple!

oh.my. goodness.

Im not one to brag about my baking skills (albeit, this recipe requires no baking), but when I took a bite of the finished product my mind was blown! You would never think that such few, simple ingredients could create some of the most decadent, luxurious truffles.

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Mixing the caramel sauce

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Chop the almonds

Click here for the original recipe! (Don’t let the title of the recipe scare you off!)

The only thing that really makes it ‘vegan’ is the non-dairy milk. But use whatever milk you want and it will still come out great! Almond milk, coconut milk (which I usually use), whole milk…etc.

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Add the (dark) cocoa powder and caramel sauce

The recipe calls for cocoa powder, but I prefer using Hersey’s Dark Powder for a richer flavor (also, I love dark chocolate!) I just use regular semi-sweet chocolate chips from Nestle (not vegan), but feel free to mix it up with white chocolate, Reese’s Peanut Butter Baking Chips, or whatever suits your taste bud needs!

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It gets a little messy but totally worth it!

I made a batch today and have a feeling they wont last too long!

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Cover in chocolate

 

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Sprinkle with a little sea salt before placing in freezer 

Once you take them our of the freezer indulge, let your mind be blown, and….

Treat Yo Self!

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Once they harden they are ready to eat!

Guten Tag, Berlin!

Berlin. A modern city with a historic memoir. Beautiful. Old. Full of life. An ancient city with a gripping, yet complicated history.

Our journey to Berlin was not disappointing.

Our flight actually flew into Frankfurt, Germany (our normal layover route on the way back to TZ). Immediately after getting off the plane we found the airport storage and stowed away some of our larger luggage we wouldn’t be needing while in Germany.  The train station attached to the airport was refreshingly easy to navigate (for newbies to traveling via rail in Europe!). We were so surprised how simple and hassle-free it was to buy a train ticket to Berlin. Maybe we’ve been in Africa too long!

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Waiting for our train: Frankfurt – Berlin

As excited as we were to take the 4hr train ride to Berlin and be able to watch the German country side unfold along side us….we slept for probably 90% of the ride. Jet lag was seriously kicking us this time! Being from the US, and now Africa, we were so amazed at how efficient the German train system runs. Even the small cafe in the train where we got a ham and cheese baguette and coffee made us so happy! Most people around us probably thought we were way too excited about ‘train coffee’ and baguettes. But we loved every bit of it.

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Jet lag was killer this time around!

In Berlin we stayed with some good friends of ours. They live in the middle of the city. The Berlin wall [used to] runs right below their apartment. The whole city is built with monuments, art installations, and historic stories from the Berlin Wall. There is nowhere in the city you can go without being reminded of what once kept families and loved ones apart for so many years.

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Berlin Wall memorial/art installation – Berlin, Germany

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Berlin Wall memorial/art installation – Berlin, Germany

Our friends suggested we take a bike tour around the city. Despite it raining a bit, we had a wonderful time! The tour was very informative and we were able to see so much we otherwise wouldn’t have been to with just a few days in the city.

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Fat Tire Tours – Berlin, Germany

For anyone possibly planning a trip to Berlin I highly recommend this tour with Fat Tire Tours!

 

 

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Fat Tire Tours, and my studly husband! Berlin, Germany

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Fat Tire Tours – Brandenburg Gate – Berlin, Germany

The tour ended at a biergarten for lunch. A mug of beer and pork schnitzel was a must and not disappointing!

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Stoked for German beer and bratwurst – getting in touch with his German roots!

Our friend met us after the bike tour and guided us downtown where we treated ourselves to a few chocolate stores. One of them being the Ritter Sport store. Some of our favorite chocolates.  You can create your own chocolates. Similar to a frozen yogurt store, you choose from a large variety of ingredients and they mix it together with the chocolate for you. We opted not to do this. Instead, we just bought a bunch of different flavors. The other chocolate store (I don’t remember the name) was more refined and sophisticated. They had a cafe upstairs serving decadent hot chocolate and a variety of chocolate desserts. So amazing.

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Chocolate

We had dinner at another biergarten with our friend, her husband and their baby girl. If we lived in Germany it would hard not to eat at a biergarten every day!

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A bit of rain wont stop us from enjoying German beer and pretzels at a biergarten!

The rest of our time in Berlin we spent visiting museums and eating more amazing food.

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Berlin

One of the things we loved about the city is how pedestrian friendly it is. From the apartment we were able to walk every where we wanted to go. The only time we took a taxi was to return to the train station.

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Berlin

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Jewish memorial – Berlin, Germany

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Berlin Wall – Berlin, Germany

Upon returning to Frankfurt, we stayed a night before our flight the next morning. We stayed at a hotel near the airport and again, had amazing food and drinks.

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Ishtar Gate – Pergamon Museum – Berlin, Germany

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Berlin

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Berlin

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Really enjoyed a nice hot coffee while wondering around Berlin!

The next day we said goodbye to Germany and began the long (and miserable) trip back to Tanzania.

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Frankfurt – Berlin Train station – Germany

We loved Germany and Berlin and already cant wait to plan another trip there in the future!

Enjoy more pictures from the trip 🙂

#Warrenittogether….

(Continued from ‘Travel Buddies…Pt.2)….

We grabbed some dinner at chick-fil-a before heading to my cousins house for the night. The next day my brother and his wife left to head back to Tulsa and the rest of us girls took a day trip to Waco to see the Fixer-Upper phenomenon of the Magnolia Market. We had some great food, coffee, and ice cream from the local shops in Waco.

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The Silos at Magnolia Market – Waco, TX

On the way back we stopped at the mall to do some shopping ( nothing says ‘Welcome back to the US’ than a trip to mall the first day). Mom was staying in Dallas for a business conference so we shopped for some new stylish business clothes.

That evening, my Aunt and Uncle took us all out to Mexican food where we met the rest of our cousins (who I haven’t seen since our wedding). It was so nice visiting with them and eating great Mexican food!

Funny side-story: In Tanzania, we are never ever ID’d for drinks. Although technically the drinking age here is 18, they never check ID. I don’t remember the last time I was ID’d for a drink. So we get to this Mexican restaurant and my cousins and sister all ordered these delicious slushy cocktails….I left my ID at my cousins house because it didn’t even cross my mind that I would need it for a drink! haha. I was able to sneak one sip of my cousins drink and it was soooo good! I was so bummed I couldn’t order one for myself! haha. Oh well. Welcome back to America.

The following day (after a generous breakfast of delicious bagels, cream cheese, fresh coffee and fruit) we said goodbye and went on our way. We dropped mom off at her conference and made a ‘quick’ stop at IKEA (because sadly we don’t have one in Oklahoma). After shopping our brains out we ate a quick lunch before hitting the road back to Tulsa.

Our grandparents live in Oklahoma City, which is between Dallas and Tulsa. We had dinner and a nice visit with them (they were coming to Tulsa the following week where we would spend more time with them). Arriving in Tulsa, we were greeted at the house by my Dad and older brother.

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My grandpa brought out ‘His favorite Pictures’ while we were there. 4 generations of Rose men (L-R: Grandpa, his father, his son – my dad, and grandson – my older brother)

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Family trip to Colorado with the cousins (L-R: me, my older brother, younger brother, twin cousins, and our grandpa)

My time in Tulsa was filled with local coffee shops, downtown art crawls, food trucks, visiting with my family, going to bridal showers, helping (as much as I could) with wedding preparations for my sister, and of course organizing and planning the bachelorette party with my two youngest sisters. Oh yea, and lots and lots of shopping. Too much shopping.

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Downtown Tulsa – will always love this place!

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Bridal shower for the Bride-to-Be! (L-R: Mom, Youngest sister, Bride and oldest of the younger sisters, second-youngest sister, me).

 

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Oh I forgot to mention my youngest sister works at the Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile as a Barista in Pawhuska, Ok. We met this sweet sister of mine after her shift and enjoyed amazing food, coffee, dessert, and shopping. Thanks for showing us around!

The stereotypical perspective most people have is that I would love all the shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy shopping, but don’t enjoy spending money. The fun of looking for new things to wear, decorate with, or give as gifts is taken away when its a necessary chore of buying things we cant get in Tanzania to bring back with us. This involves Costco trips, general toiletries supplies (razors, shampoo, face wash, moisturizers, favorite brands of toothpaste and other beauty products). Not to mention stocking up on ‘feminine products’ (if you know what I mean) to last the whole year or more. Trying to think ahead and buy Christmas and birthday presents for my husband when its only June. Do we need more batteries? What kind? Should we go ahead and update our already outdated iPhones because we wont be able to for at least another year? Should we buy more socks now even though what we have are still good…will they last through another year of hand washing, wringing and hanging in the harsh African sun? Do we have enough sunscreen to last another whole year of working/walking in the African sun and holiday trips to the beach?

Its a total mind – mess.

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The Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile in Pawhuska, OK. In love with that rug btw!

If you’ve seen me back home and think ‘all she does is shop the whole time’…you’re probably right, but don’t judge! Its not as leisurely, carefree and waste of money as you might think! haha. Of course there are definitely things we can live without. But there is a healthy difference of ‘living without’ and ‘missing out for no reason’.

So the truth is, when Im back in the States I really don’t enjoy shopping that much because it is so stressful and draining to think through everything. And what if we forget to buy something? We have to hope and cross our fingers that someone from the family will be coming to Tanzania at some point in time during the next year.

Alright, back to main part of my post. Tulsa was great. Family was great. I missed Colton the whole time. He arrived on the 25th of June, the day after his birthday. We were so thankful it worked out for his sister and brother-in-law to drive up from Houston, pick him up in Dallas, and drive up to Tulsa. They stayed for a couple of days before driving back to Houston. Colton stayed in Tulsa for the remainder of the trip. My younger brother’s birthday was on the 27th so we had a small birthday celebration at his farm to honor him and Colton.

The bachelorette party was the night before Colton arrived and was a big success.

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Bachelorette Party…on the way to dinner

The rest of the days were spent with the bride and groom-to-be (who is pretty awesome) and preparing for the Big Day.

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Sorry for the blurriness! My youngest sister hand painting the signs for the wedding. Beautiful work!

The wedding took place downtown Tulsa at a modern yet rustic venue. Perfect for my sister and her husband. The florists did a beautiful job with flowers, friends and family came from all over to help set and decorate, and the bride herself made the wedding and grooms cake. What kind of baker would she be if she didn’t make her own ‘FlouredRoses’ wedding cake?? Needless to say it was perfect.

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Stunning Bride

The bride, my younger sister, was absolutely stunning. Its always kind of weird to see your younger siblings getting married…I always remember them as little kids. Time goes by so fast. Especially when you’re not around to see it happen.

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The Bridal Party (L-R: Cousin, friend, mom, Bride, me, youngest sister, other youngest sister)

So there she was, my little sister all grown up, mature, elegant, beautiful, successful, and about to marry an amazing man. I couldn’t have been more proud of her! We all got ready in the back room. Photos were taken and music began. Holding back tears as I stood up front watching the bride be escorted by our father, who has always  been there for us, walking towards her future husband who will always be there for her in the days ahead, is pretty difficult!

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The bride reading her vows one last time before the big moment

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Hair and makeup prep morning of the wedding!

It was a beautiful ceremony and such a fun reception. So many friends and family came to celebrate the special union.

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Father-daughter dance

 

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The Bride and her groom – Mr.&Mrs. Warren

As the night went on and drew closer to the bride and groom departing for their honeymoon the emotion came over me. I stood there watching her dancing, laughing and loving her friends and husband I had to fight back tears, again (I’ve always been kind of emotional…but leave it to moving and living overseas to really bring out the emotions!). We were flying back to TZ before they would return from their honeymoon. Our entire trip was leading up to this moment. We pulled them aside, hugged, fought back tears, and said our congratulations and goodbyes. Shortly after we said goodbye they departed with a send off of sparklers and cheers.

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Saying goodbye to the bride, my sister, until next time.

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#warrenittogether

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Beautiful Bride’s Cake – by FlouredRoses (the bride)

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Appropriate 4th of July weekend send-off for the bride and groom!

After they left everyone who was still around pitched in to clean up and tear down what had been put up. Such an amazing crowd of friends and family. The younger crowd (being myself and Colton along with friends and cousins from our age range) went across the street to a sweet little ‘coffee shop by day, bar by night’. It was so fun hanging out with old friends, cousins, and new friends. It was a perfect end to a perfect wedding.

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Reception party fun! (L-R: Colton, younger brother, friends (husband&wife), brothers wife, friend)

The next day was full of visiting with out-of-town cousins and family. Catching up on old times, and new ones. Our grandpa treated the whole family to Hide-Away Pizza – an Oklahoma tradition and favorite.

We had one day left for last minute shopping and visiting  before the 4th of July.

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We were able to squeeze in a quick visit (like 15min) with my best friend from highschool and her gorgeous kids! She lives in Amsterdam with her husband and 2 girls and had just flown into to Tulsa the night before. So thankful it worked out to see each other even for such a short period. Haven’t seen this friend since our wedding 4 years ago!

The 4th was an all day event at my brother and his wife’s farm. Colton roasted a pig and everyone pitched in with different desserts, sides, and mains. The celebration was so much fun.

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I bought 4th of July shirts and matching sunnies for the hubs and me….I was so excited about it! haha

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Trying to teach Colton how to be a ‘Instagram husband’….haha! Not as easy as people make it seem! I have a feeling he just wasn’t meant to be an IG husband haha. Also he was in the middle of a serious game of Settler’s with those guys in the background….they all kept looking over and yelling at him! hahaha.

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Mom and my youngest sisters drove us early the next morning to the Dallas airport for our afternoon flight. The final round of goodbyes were said. We arrived pretty early for our flight but were able to find a nice place to post up. Drinks and snacks were had while we waited for the call that would take us to our next adventure…the land of Biergartens, pretzels, and lederhosen….Germany! 

I am always so amazed and overwhelmed by how blessed we are with family and friends. The blessing of being able to financially afford to both fly back for my sisters wedding, as well as other siblings wedding in the past. The blessing of not missing flights, protection and peace while traveling so much. The blessing of being able to say goodbye with a full heart knowing the love of family is always there.

Enjoy all the fun pics from the trip!

 

Travel Buddies…Pt.2

On the flight to Mbeya with my sisters we decided to just battle straight to our house after landing (instead of staying the night and resting before driving 6hrs), as Colton had to get back for work. We landed, picked up our car, and hit the road. 6hrs later and we made it to our house in the middle of nowhere, Africa. Dinner was made and ready for us when we arrived (so thankful!).

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Flying over Dar

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Mbeya

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Taking in the view of Mbeya before driving for 6hrs

The rest of that week was spent exploring the area with my sisters, going on hikes/walks, having ‘spa days’, and making fun recipes. Of course there was lots of good conversations and experiencing a little bit of our life here in Africa.

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Our home

We had a farewell party for one of our staff. The girls helped me make a cake for him on which we wrote ‘Asante Sana, Yuda!’ (thank you so much, Yuda!). He was speechless when we surprised him with it after dinner. Quite a special night for everyone.

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Afternoon walk

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Cooking breakfast for the crew

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Walks around our ‘neighborhood’

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Thanks to my sisters for helping me decorate my home with beautiful flowers!

Colton’s Dad came up for a few nights. The girls and I went back to the valley with him. Colton followed on his motorbike as he had some work there. He joined us that evening for dinner and left the next morning. The girls and I hung out at his dad’s house, explored the area a bit and spent some time by the pool. Colton’s parents were at the end stages of packing up their home to move. Very emotional time.

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Mkukwe – Mountain behind Colton’s parent’s house – Rukwa Valley

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Colton’s Dad explaining some of his work

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River hike with Colton – River behind Colton’s childhood home where he spent his time exploring the wilds of Africa

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Pool time

That evening Colton’s dad had his last honey-harvest and my sisters and I were able to join. This was an experience that doesn’t happen often and was so special the girls were able to experience it. When Colton and I were dating, I was able to join a honey-harvest with his Dad as well. It was so amazing. That was the last and only time I had been apart of the experience until this last trip with my sisters.

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Suiting up for the honey harvest

I was the designated (iphone) photographer for the harvest. We all got suited up and headed out with his team to harvest honey. We brought a small bowl of honeycomb back to the house to eat ourselves.

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My sisters with the Beekeeper King of East Africa – Colton’s Dad

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Honey honey honey

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Freshest honey ever!

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Literally the best honey in the world

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Succesfull honey harvest

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These girls were such champs! Battling the heat, sweat, and swarms of bee’s for a few hours was all worth it!

That evening we had a pizza party. Colton’s Dad made them in his pizza oven. Just as he brought in the last pizza his guard came to the door. I could tell from the tone in their voices that something kind of ‘bad’ was going on. He calmly said he had to go check on something real quick. I watched as he got his shotgun and walked out the house. I thought maybe there was a mamba or python somewhere. Meanwhile, my sisters and I continued to eat our pizza. After a few minutes he called for me to open the front door for him. He told me there was a leopard by his pig pen and the dogs were flipping out. The dogs were still puppies so the leopard was probably stalking them. He had to scare it away by the sound of his gun and asked me to let the girls know so they weren’t worried.

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Evening wine time

Colton’s dad returned and we finished our meal with a bit of fresh honey comb for dessert. Quite an exciting evening!

The next morning my sisters and I got up early to watch the sunrise by the pool. It was probably the best sunrise I’ve seen, and the last one I would ever see from that pool and Colton’s childhood home. Colton’s dad joined us for a bit before making us a nice breakfast of eggs, toast and honeycomb. We were driven back up the mountain to our house.

* These next series of photos are of the sunrise from the pool-overlooking the valley. No captions necessary.

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The rest of the week was hanging out, chilling by the fire, star-gazing in the freezing cold, early morning deep conversations with each of my sisters, and packing for our trip back to the States. We went to town one day and did some shopping in the market. The girls loved it and even got a few marriage proposals (not too uncommon out here!).

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Colton showing the girls some of his work

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Market shopping – where we buy our produce

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Market shopping

The day came for us to leave. Colton was joining us back in the States a few weeks later so goodbyes were said (somewhat tearfully …for me at least!). One of Colton’s friends was driving us girls to Mbeya for our flight to Dar. Goodbyes are never easy and always seem to be a bit emotional. So I said goodbye to the love of my life for whole month.

After a few hours at the airport, a quick lunch, and a short flight to Dar we made it to our (same) hotel safely. We walked next door for pizza that night. The following day I took the girls to the beach one last time. So nice and enjoyable (aside from a bit of rain). Pizza again for dinner (it is so good out here!).

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Last morning at the beach before flying HOME. Fresh coffee and homemade trail mix for breakfast. YUM!

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Indian Ocean swim before flying for a million hours

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Calm before the storm

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Hiding from the rain with fresh juice and cocktails!

The next morning we did all our last minute souvenir shopping. We had a nice lunch out and bought all the gifts and souvenirs we needed. Went back to the hotel to freshen up and change from our hot tropical clothes into our travel clothes (although it was still so hot and sweaty – there was no way around not being sweaty before our 24hr trip to the States). We made it to the airport with more than enough time.

We boarded our SwissAir flight and took off. This was my first time flying with SwissAir and it was so nice….very impressed! We were all in the middle isle, which, if I’m being honest, I was a bit bummed about at first (It’s always hard to sleep on a plane without a window to lean against…and this was an overnight flight). Surprisingly, our flight was not full. It was just the three of us in our 4-seat row. I was able to lay down and actually slept for the majority of the flight. So nice!

Our layover in Switzerland was only about 2hrs. It was early morning when we landed so shops and restaurants were still opening in the airport. We logged onto the free wifi so I could update Colton and my mom about our trip. Starbucks was one of the only ‘restaurants’ open at that hour. We grabbed some breakfast and coffee before our next 10hr flight.

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Switzerland (My only ever view of the Swiss Alps…barely noticeable but beautiful!)

From Switzerland we flew to Newark, NJ where we went through all our customs. Hopped on our last 3hr flight to Dallas (it was significantly cheaper to fly to Dallas than it was to fly to Tulsa). That last 3hr flight felt like the longest flight of the whole trip. We made it to Dallas and were met by my Mom, other sister, and our brother and his wife. Was so nice seeing everyone!

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My sisters in Rukwa Valley

I just need to make a shout out (in case it was evident from my post) that I couldn’t be more proud of my sisters! We pushed them hard and on minimal sleep most of the time and they were complete champs about everything. Not everyone can handle this kind of trip. My sisters (all of them) are so hardcore, tough, adventurous, easy-going, sweet, caring, beautiful and smart. It was such a proud time and honor for them to want to spend their time and money, travel half way across the world to a remote place in Africa (with limited hot water, showers, & comforts). 

Here are the rest of the pictures from the trip!