Running Through Budapest

One of my favorite ways to explore a new city is by running. For the past couple years, I’ve tried to do at least one run while on vacation. I usually will just run a couple miles away from my hotel or place I’m staying and run back. Here in Budapest, I’ve been planning my morning runs by choosing to run to sites and historical landmarks. There are so many interesting things to see! Some days after my run, I’ll google different statues or buildings I’ve seen along the way to learn more about the importance of them.

Another perk of my morning exploration runs is that I beat the tourist crowd. For example, I ran to Heroes Square one morning and the only people that were there were a couple of security guards. I wasn’t sure if I was even supposed to be in the area – it was so quiet. I then visited the same place again on a weekend afternoon with my husband and as it should be, it was filled with tourists. It’s such a surreal experience to arrive at these historical sites that are completely empty in the morning, it has a very peaceful and even a little eerie feel.

A few things are different about running in Budapest than my little suburbia city. First, it’s COLD here! Coming from the Bay Area, California I’m used to very moderate weather. Never too hot or cold, it’s like Rhode Island on April 25th, all you need is a light jacket. Now that I’m in Budapest, I added a head scarf and running gloves to my wardrobe (I’ve actually already ditched both, I guess you could say I’m climatizing). I wear a long running tech-t and a half zip pullover, which I’ve fond to be a perfect combo. It keeps me plenty warm, but I also don’t overheat. I have to be a lot more aware of cars. It seems that most drivers aren’t even looking or aware of pedestrians. Also, depending on where I’m running, the run can feel a little choppy as I have to wait for the traffic lights and public transportation to pass.

Some of my favorite sites to run to so far have been along the Danube, the Citadella, Margaret Island and Fisherman’s Bastion. Here are just a few photos from my morning runs.

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Our First Week in Budapest

23 hours of travel later, we found ourselves in Hungary, ready to embark on a two month adventure of living abroad. My husband’s work brought us to Budapest. Although I was hesitant at first, we are now more than excited about the opportunity to live in another country for an extended period of time. Not sure how consistent I will be, but I hope to share some stories, photos and mishaps of our time in Hungary. Now, on to our first week!

In our first week in Budapest…

We got our dog settled.
Do dogs get jet lag? I am pretty sure that Posey sleeps most of the day anyway (dogs have the best life, don’t they?), so does it really make a difference to them if they are in a timezone halfway around the world? Posey woke us up in the middle of the night the first two nights with her barking (and apparently after talking with the general manager, she woke up a few other guests in the building as well, oops!) It took her the whole first week to feel safe in our new digs. The walls aren’t super thick, so she could hear people in the elevator, coming down the hall, pretty much everything. And let’s just say that her alert barking was on point. Thankfully, I can report that she’s settled down quite a bit since that first week.

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We scoped our neighborhood for dog parks and I quickly learned that Budapest is one gigantic dog park. It is the epitome of dog friendly. Dogs are allowed on the metro, in most cafes and restaurants and even in malls. I see people walking their dogs on the street off leash, these European dogs are so well mannered. I keep telling Posey that our goal by the end of our stay here is to have her behave like these Hungarian dogs that don’t even need a leash. Until she gets to that place, I’m thankful that almost every park in Budapest has a fenced off enclosed area for dogs.

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We were tourists.
My husband has been to Budapest many times for work. He has had many opportunities to explore this city. Even though he had been to many of the famous sites in Budapest, he humored me by playing tourist for the weekend. We were fortunate enough to have our own private tour guides, my husband’s coworker and his coworker’s wife. They both love history and were giddy to tell us all the rich stories of their city. As we were driving around, they pointed out different buildings and landmarks to us. First, they took us to Heroes Square, an amazing plaza with intricate and huge statues of Hungary’s important leaders. littlemissbossy-06569littlemissbossy-06607

The next place they took us to was the Citadella located on Gellert Hill with a spectacular view of the city. Our friend was hoping to take us their after sunset, but even though we arrived at dusk the scenery was still beautiful.

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We walked a ton!
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I guess this should have been a given since we are living in a major metropolitan area, but I definitely underestimated the amount of walking I would have to do each day. I’m really glad these $30 unbroken in outlet boots have been working out so well for me. The suburbia (aka lazy) girl in me definitely misses just jumping in the car and driving to the grocery store or Taco Bell drive thru, but using your own two feet as your main mode of transportation does give you a great sense of satisfaction and a valid excuse to eat another cheese croissant.

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Deck the Halls

Yes, it’s 2016, but I still want to talk about Christmas!

Even though I didn’t have this blog before Christmas, I still wanted to share the way I decorated my home, because I actually decorated and I loved the way it made our home feel more warm and cozy.

My husband and I moved into our home a little over a year ago. Since moving in, we bought the basic necessities such as a dining table, bed, couches etc. Even though we’ve been here for almost a year, the decor and design of our home is pretty sparse. I jokingly call it the big empty white box.

There’s many reasons why it’s taken so long to get around to adding some personality to our house. One major reason is our pup Posey. We got her in May and since then our lives have revolved around loving and training her to be well mannered dog. (SO. MUCH. WORK. but that’s a blog post for a different day). We rearranged our whole house to make it puppy friendly. She basically took over our dining area with boxes and baby gates blockading her from the rest of the house.

Thankfully through many prayers (and tears) Posey has earned access to our whole house, which means we were finally able to dismantle her fortress and put our dining table back where it is supposed to be! She’s so cute though, it was worth the wait!IMG_8905

Since then, we’ve been playing around with different furniture configurations, which  means we still don’t have anything on our wall. I want to wait until I find a configuration we like before I start pounding holes in the wall.

Also, I’ve realized that interior design isn’t easy. Often times I have to see furniture in my house before I decide I don’t like it. Let’s just say it’s not as easy to return furniture as it is to return a dog leash to Target.

And that leaves me with my big, empty, white box. The interior design struggle is real friends, which is why I was so happy to bring down our Christmas decorations from the attic. My Christmas decor is not vast by any means (I’ve made a vow to only buy Christmas decor after Christmas when it’s on sale), but there’s just something about Christmas that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

Our house has a very neutral color palette (see the big empty white box above). This year, I kept my Christmas decor relatively simple with a dash of glitter and sparkle. My inspiration this year was evergreens. I love the contrast of the green and brown against our white walls.

OUR TREE
One of my favorite pieces of our Christmas decor is our little tree. It’s not quite a Charlie Brown Christmas tree as it is quite full and very sparkly. My sister got this from her work a few years back. She graciously gave it to me (or I annoyingly asked her if I could have it, can’t really remember) last year for my husband and my first Christmas together. I reused my gold table runner from my wedding as a table skirt. The only thing I don’t like about the tree is that because the branches are so thick, we can’t hang regular ornaments off of it. A goal for next year is to find a way to display our Christmas ornaments.
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OUR STOCKINGS
We don’t have a fireplace, so finding a place to hang the stockings was a challenge. Last year I converted an old pallet board into a place where we could hang our stockings. This year we have more people in our household with my sister and her family living with us AND the stockings had to be in a place where puppies and babies couldn’t mess with them. One of the Bay Area storms brought down a big, beautiful branch. Add some 3M hooks and LED lights and you have a perfect place to hang our stockings! This year I bought initial ornaments from West Elm to personalize our stockings. I’d still like to add something else to them, we will see what I’m inspired by next year!

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OUR TABLESCAPE
On Christmas morning, I woke up at 6am, giddy and excited to make my table garland. My how things change as you get older. I had bought a few bunches of greens and from Whole Foods, googled “how to make a table garland” and voila! Garland made. It was so fun to create this tablescape, I almost didn’t want anyone to actually eat. Just admire the tablescape please, that should be more than enough to fill your stomachs. I used some twine and rosemary as a simple touch to finish off everyone’s place setting.

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OUR HOT CHOCOLATE AND COFFEE BAR
This was our first year hosting Christmas dinner for our family. I wanted to do something fun and special to make our first year of hosting unique. I decided on a hot chocolate/coffee bar! Complete with crushed peppermint candies, marshmallows and mini chocolate chips, it was delicious. To top it all off, one of my friends even made homemade whipped cream. The keurig worked perfectly for the coffee lovers and also made it easy to get hot water for the hot chocolate drinkers.

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It’s already January 9th and my Christmas stuff is still proudly displayed. Every day this past week, I thought to myself, “You need to take down the Christmas stuff.” And then, I answered myself with…

“Maybe next week.”

New Year’s Resolution: Start A Blog

2016 – the year Val starts a lifestyle blog.

I’ve started several blogs in my lifetime and most of them were short lived. There was that one that I thought I was a cool designer, and the one where I thought I was a heartfelt writer, the one where I needed an excuse to start a tumblr. My best one was a running blog that I kept up for almost a couple years. I just looked it up as I was typing this post and it almost made me want to start it up again.

This blog is going to be a lifestyle blog, aka the verbal vomit of anything I want to write about. A creative outlet that will feature topics such as running, my DIY-ness, how much I love Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supremes,  photography, random exploration adventures, the one time a year I cook, puppy mama tales, and tasty food finds, just to name a few. I’ve read that bloggers are supposed to find a niche. Well, rules were made to be broken.

I also would like this blog to be real. I am not perfect although I like to think that I am far too often. I’d like to share my struggles, shortcomings and maybe even a photo or two of of my messy life.

The image used for this post was taken on New Year’s day. I was out for my traditional New Year’s day run. The lighting was so beautiful. It reminded me that while I may wait for new years for a fresh start, God’s mercies are new every morning. I finished that run with renewed hope. I’m hopeful for this new year and also hopeful for this blog. Thanks for joining me on this blogging adventure friends, let’s go!