how we celebrated us.

We finalllyyyy received all of our Vietnamese wedding reception photos and (sorry, not sorry) I want to share some of the moments from one of the best days ever. ๐Ÿ’•

We decided to have our reception almost seven months after we got officially married because of a few personal reasons. It was a little unconventional, but it ended up being perfect for us.

 

Vietnamese Tea Ceremony

This ceremony took place at my parent’s house. There’s a lot of symbolism in these traditions that I’ve only grown to appreciate now as I’ve become older. I never imagined doing a traditional tea ceremony, but now I am so so happy we did.

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Gotta have that crispy, roasted pig. This was so good.

AKP-13

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The wedding party lining up outside my parent’s house before going in. This is the exchange of gifts that each symbolize something unique.
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My parents woke up at like 3-4 in the morning to cook all the yummy Vietnamese food for the guests after the ceremony was done. The pig was roasted elsewhere, but my mom and my aunt butchered it in front of everyone and it was amazing hahah.

 

Love is in the Details

Our decorators, florists, and photographers made everything so beautiful. Michael and I also got to create and print out the seating arrangements and made our own signature cocktails for our bartenders to serve!

 

The Girls & The Boys

Ya’ll are the best and we had such a good time with you all by our sides.

 

These just make us smile so damn much.

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My brother as our evening emcee was THE BEST THING EVER. He was SO much fun and realllyyyy set the vibe that night.

One of our favorite traditions of having a Vietnamese reception is that we have to visit every single table to just give them a little love, a cheers, and show that we appreciated these guests for celebrating with us. The only caveat is… the younger tables typically have a game of some type that leads to a gift.

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I had to find out which one was Michael’s butt! I actually got it!! He is in the dark blue suit to the right. ๐Ÿ˜Š
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My friend’s table here had a shot pyramid tower, with money between each shot. Michael’s face describes our feelings perfectly!
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Yes, I’m a little drunk, it’s okay LOL.
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Family cheers!
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Toasts at the cousins table. ๐Ÿ˜Š
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Itโ€™s already been several months since this all happened, but it is a lot of fun to look back and see all the candids and moments captured. All we wanted was to see people have a lot fun, less formality and scheduling, and have a lot of booze. I think we did pretty darn well. ๐Ÿ˜Š

 

This day could not have been possible without these incredible people and vendors. They were amazing and I can’t thank them enough. ๐Ÿ’•

Decorator: Dream Weddings
Photobooth: PicsbyPasha
Bouquets: Jo’s Flower Power
Emcees: My brother, Philip and my cousin, Phung
Makeup Artist: A family friend, Anh K Pham
Venue: The Pearl Restaurant & Lounge
Photographer
: Amber Kelley

 

trail of ten waterfalls.

If you visit or live in Oregon, you have most likely visited this magical place! And if you are from a totally different state, like how we are from Texas, this place will never cease to amaze you. What hike in Texas or Oklahoma, or even California would you ever get to see ten waterfalls?!

Anyway, here are some of the waterfalls we captured and I even attempted to label the names of them ๐Ÿ’™ :

 

Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
South Falls

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Standing behind the waterfall!!! I think this is South Falls…

 

Lower North Falls

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Just a pretty forest view.

 

Lower South Falls

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Double Falls

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This fallen tree is along the path and we wanted to climb it!
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One of the waterfalls in the back. ๐Ÿ’™

 

We are all naturally seekers of wonders. We travel far to see the majesty of old ruins, the venerable forms of the hoary mountains, great waterfalls, and galleries of art. And yet the world’s wonder is all around us; the wonder of setting suns, and evening stars, of the magic spring-time, the blossoming of the trees, the strange transformations of the moth… Albert Pike

dog mountain sunset hike.

*With Oregon now having a stay-at-home order, what better time than to be a little nostalgic for one of the more rewarding hikes we’ve done.

Dog Mountain trail. 7 miles. 2824 feet elevation gain. Kicked our butts.

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In spring of 2017, Michael and I were visiting Portland because he was visiting his new workplace and I was interviewing at OHSU. We talked to a stranger about local recommendations and they suggested this hike.

We didn’t read about.
We didn’t look it up.
We just… went and did it.

It ended up being one of the hardest hikes we’ve both ever been on. The elevation gain was so difficult. I’m almost thankful we didn’t know what to expect, because we wouln’t have done it otherwise. We even got cheers once we got to the top by the people that passed us because we told them we were struggling haha ๐Ÿ˜….

In May last summer, we decided to do it again to see the sunset at the top and to hike down at night. We can definitely report that the hike is still very difficult! However, the sunset made it so. worth. it. It was like we were seeing a live painting because the color changes were unreal. And we finally saw all of the wildflowers!! ๐Ÿ’›

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When we made it to the first clearing and saw this view!
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Michael waiting for me.
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It’s impossible to not stop a million times and take in this view… or to take a breather. ๐Ÿ˜…

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The last two at the top!! The two guys we met took this picture before they hiked back down. We got to enjoy this place with just us… and some double stuffed Oreos.

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Those bird sounds and wildflowers. ๐Ÿ˜

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We can officially say that we were so freaking exhausted after this hike.

As much as I would love and wish to go outdoors on my days off, it’s not a time to be selfish. What better time than to work on house projects and do some spring cleaning!

Take care, everyone. ๐Ÿ’›

Also, Feel

chance encounters.

How do you meet new people, and by chance, they will end up becoming meaningful relationships for the rest of your life? Especially when you aren’t relying on meeting others through school or work?

Well… we got so incredibly lucky with the people we have met here in Portland so far. Every time we think about the strangers that became more than that, it always blows our mind. We moved here without knowing a single soul in Oregon and we just feel grateful.

Michael and I met by a chance encounter when I stood behind him at a coffee shop. From that moment on, we’ve embraced keeping an open mind when it comes to meeting people.

Here are a few of our favorite stories that now have a special place in our hearts. ๐Ÿ’™

 

Our Landlord

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Homemade by our landlords.

In 2017, we were visiting Portland for the first time together. Michael already had a job lined up, so he was doing a site visit. I was interviewing to go back to school. We were looking all over downtown for a studio apartment and geez, it was expensive. We decided to stop looking one night and go to a dessert bar. There was such a huge wait, so we initially decided to get a dessert to-go. As we were being handed our to-go box, two seats opened up at the small bar. I immediately asked if we could snag those two bar seats! The restaurant got our dessert plated so we could enjoy it there.

As I was laughing and talking with Michael, my shoulder bumped the older man beside me. I turned to apologize and the man ended up laughing at me and asked what dessert we were having! We ended up talking to this couple for the next hour or so. We found out that they were both in the healthcare field and had a connection to the school I was applying for. They asked about our situation and story. It was so easy talking to them. At one point, I noticed them kind of give each other a silent look, the kind of look that showed they were communicating, but we had no idea what it was…

Turns out, the couple had two homes and they were wanting to rent out one of them, but they did not want to put it on the public market! They said they could sense that we were genuine people, so they offered us to come over right after my interview to see their place!!! We were FREAKING OUT. Of course we said yes.

We brought over two bottles of wine. And when we arrived, they had so many little appetizers. After chatting for awhile, we enjoyed homemade baked salmon, sautรฉed greens beans, and a side salad. It was soooo delicious and thoughtful of them. We got lost in so many conversations over 4-5 hours of being there.

A few days later, they negotiated a deal with us and umm.. it was a no brainer.

These wonderful humans have become a second family to us. Without their generosity and guidance, we wouldn’t be where we needed to be. We are forever grateful for this family for what they have given us.

 

Our Friends

This one is a strange one, too. We met all of these folks through Instagram via our mutual love for hiking, adventuring, and photography. I won’t make this too long, so here’s a few photos of our adventures together. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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Spent a weekend camping at Mount Hood.
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Waterfall chasin’.
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These ladies are so wonderful.
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Couple’s trip to the painted hills!
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A bunch of us celebrating Christmas. Truly a family away from home.

 

My Mom’s Childhood Friend

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My mom is on the right.

This is my mom’s childhood friend from the 70s-80s.

Let this sink in… they hadn’t seen each other in over forty years. By the miracle of social media, my uncle found her profile and forwarded it to my mom a few months ago. My mom discovered that her friend immigrated from Vietnam to Portland!!! I was living so close to her this whole time. Our family flew her out to Dallas for our wedding which was so amazing. Michael and I also ended up spending an afternoon with her a few weeks ago, and she showed us this picture of her and my mom.

Unbelievable, huh?

That is life, isnโ€™t it? Fate. Luck. Chance.

A long series of what-ifโ€™s that lead from one moment to the next, time never pausing for you to catch your breath, to make sense of the cards that have been handed to you. And all you can do is play your cards and hope for the best, because in the end, it all comes back to those three basics.

Fate. Luck. Chance.
Kelseyleigh Reber

sunrise at crater lake.

Crater Lake is known for its vibrant blues… but when you’re there at sunrise or sunset, the colors you get to see are unbelievably stunning. Seriously… on a clear summer day, take that road trip out there. It’s 100% worth it.

We had already planned to wake up early, but did not expect to witness the most magnificent sunrise. Seeing all of the soft shades of blue, pink, and orange painted across the sky was truly a sight to see.

We felt like we had the whole place to ourselves because no one was around us. This place is also very special to us because it was the last road trip we were able to take Layla on before she passed away.

Experiences like this always remind us to appreciate and love the little things in life. โค๏ธ

Look at those morning sunrise colors!! ๐Ÿ˜
This viewpoint was perfect. It felt like the lake wrapped all around you.
Sometimes you gotta hide behind a bush to get those ~*angles*~ of Wizard Island. Photography can be a pretty funny hobby.
Mount Thielsen in all of its glory in the early morning.

We also got to witness a pretty darn amazing sunset here, too.

 

Sunset at Crater Lake

Our little family at sunset. Miss you, sweet Lay.
The girls and the moon.

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls. John Muir

guilty pleasures.

What’s my guilty pleasure? The thing is, I never feel guilty about pleasures.
Tom Hiddleston

We were talking about what some of ours were the other day, and we figured we would share them here. Here’s a few of them. ๐Ÿ˜Š

 

a cozy campfire:

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Michael loves bringing life to a campsite by chopping up some wood and building us a cozy campfire. You bet there are s’mores when there’s a fire around! (That’s probably the most guilty part about it!)ย 

 

sweet treats:

Pecan Pie Bars
Vanilla bean ice cream on top of a warmed pecan pie bar??? Yes, please. It’s true… we are both guilty for having a major sweet tooth.

 

cuddling:

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This is from inside our home on a rainy day. We love love love being close to each other. Cuddling, wrestling, tickling, pranking, kissing, cooking, talking. Whatever it is, we just love being in each other’s company.

 

our backyard:

We got so incredibly lucky finding our current place. Our landlord is one of the most wonderful human beings ever. Favorite thing? Our bedroom opens directly into this upper level deck that has this view!! The guilty part? We prefer to stay home more than going out on most days.

 

building things:

Michael loves to build things! He removed the back seats out of our FJ cruiser and built a storage platform that has so much space AND can fit a full size mattress on top of it. There’s nothing like getting the bed set-up, opening the back window, and enjoying the view wherever we are. Also – check out the spice rack he made for me!! (I know, terrible photos. They’re from my Instagram stories haha.) It’s so nice that I can see them all now versus shuffling through them trying to find the right one.

 

pizza:ย 

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Need I say more?

 

cheese & charcuterie:

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Pretty much… adult lunchables. I am secretly a fan of The Bachelor series only because my classmates got me into it last year. Let’s be real, I think they easily had me at wine and meat and cheese. This spread above was just from last week when we had a girl’s night. My friend, Molly, had this all set-up when we got to her place after work!

 

Sometimes, you just gotta let yourself enjoy the little things in life. ๐Ÿ’›

pura vida y amor.

For our honeymoon, we traveled to the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica and it was absolutely magical. Here are some photos & memories:

 

Tamarindo, Costa Rica

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Being underwater is magical. We swam through so many schools of fish, saw hundreds of urchins, a few sharks, and so much more.
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His first time scuba diving!!
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We just sat at the front of the boat, it was incredible! Even a pod of dolphins swam along with us.
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S/O to our scuba diving instructor, Remo, for giving us motion sickness pills before our trip because it made this boat ride so much more enjoyable (compared to others who got sick!). Thanks TamaDive!

 

Cala Luna, Costa Rica

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Okay, so, I have to separately write about this one-of-a-kind stay. We slept in the “Getaway Suite” and we are STILL dreaming about this place!

๐Ÿ – When we arrived, a fresh fruit cocktail was presented to each of us as well as a warm, essential-oiled towel to wipe our travels away. They took our backpacks straight to our suite.

๐ŸŒด – Our place was surrounded by so many trees that it felt like we were in a jungle with the monkeys climbing around ooh-ooh and ah-ing.

๐Ÿ’ง – There was a huge walk-in shower with two rainwater shower heads.. need I say more?!

๐Ÿฅ‘ – The complimentary costa rican breakfast buffet was the best thing ever.

๐Ÿ˜Œ – We also got an outdoor couple’s massage that put us both in such a dreamy, meditative state.

๐Ÿน– Every night between 5-6:00pm, there was a free cocktail happy hour on their private beach access. Sunsets, sangria, and rum cocktails with fresh fruit? Heck yes!

Yeah… favorite place we ever stayed at without a doubt.

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Sunset cocktail happy hour at Cala Luna. GoPro set up made for quick photos!

Continue reading “pura vida y amor.”

happy 100th, grand canyon.

In the summer of 2017, I did my first solo road trip from Dallas, TX to Portland, OR. It included the Grand Canyon National Park.

I drove over over 3000 miles in twelve days. I slept in a tent for four days, stayed in a hostel, booked three different Airbnbs (I needed to shower), and slept in my car all of the other days. I’ve never traveled alone, so the idea of doing so for almost two weeks was slightly terrifying. But… it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and I had an absolute blast! I learned how to be resourceful, self-aware, flexible, and most importantly, I learned how to trust myself. I slept inย super sketchy areas, but I’m happy I did. Sometimes traveling isn’t always so glamorous, but it still can be a great experience. I know I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. ๐Ÿ’›

Michael also had to do his road trip alone because he left for Portland one month before I did, and his road trip was totally different from mine (our maps below!).

Here’s the route of most of the places I visited. โ˜บ๏ธ

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My general route!

And this is Michael’s general road trip route below.

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Michael’s map. ๐Ÿ’™

Continue reading “happy 100th, grand canyon.”

the ocean’s magic.

There is just something mysteriously magical about the ocean. Maybe it’s all of the brilliant shades of blues it can be, or maybe it’s the unpredictabilityย of its storms, or even all of the life that is teeming underneath the surface.ย Whatever it is, whenever we visit the coast, there’s a sense of awe that just takes over us.

Continue reading “the ocean’s magic.”

my favorite part.

Mac Miller | My Favorite Part

Lets cue this ~feel good song~ because we just got our wedding photos back!!

On April 20th, we had some of our closest friends and family around us, incredible weather, a beautiful four string quartet, lovely flowers done by A&L, & one badass, amazing photographer, Lily Hayes.

Here are a few of our favorite moments, our vows, and photos below. โ˜บ

Continue reading “my favorite part.”

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