All posts by thejonesofyourlife

About thejonesofyourlife

Osteopathic medical student, travel junkie, and vegetable enthusiast! I love hiking and being outdoors, meeting new people, baking and eating good food, and dancing in the kitchen with my fiancé.

Old Friends and Old Things

On my list of some of the best things in life have got to be the friends that you make at summer camp. I never went to summer camp as a kid but luckily my BFFL, Pete, convinced me to go as a counselor when we were in undergrad. It was life-changing – about on the same level as when my high school bestie, Stan, convinced me to grow out my visor bangs. Anyway, I could write a whole post, or twenty, about my time in South China, Maine at Friends Camp but for now I have just a few things to say about it:

First things first, I always have to give credit to Pete for convincing me to go and for putting up with my bullshit when we got there and I started having serious doubts about whether this was the best use of my summer. Some of my undergrad advisors had tried to encourage me to participate in biology research instead, they reasoned that it would be much more helpful to my career in the long run. When I got to Friends Camp it was humid and cold, my allergies were out of control, and it became clear just how many toilets I was going to be plunging that summer. Not to mention my now-BFFL and long-lost twin, Alicia, was a bit stand-offish when we first met. I started to feel guilty about not doing research and worried about how long the summer was going to feel. I believe the words “biggest mistake of my life” may or may not have slipped from my mouth when discussing this whole camp counselor gig with Pete. TO BE FAIR, I also believe that by this time I had no less than 57 mosquito bites on my body, had plunged no less than 3 toilets, and had also experienced putting the docks in the lake which was a muddy job full of giant spiders, and I was worn out. The campers weren’t even there yet! Listen, I was tired and frustrated and I said something I didn’t mean. But I said it. And you know what? Being a counselor at Friends Camp has actually been one of the best things I have ever done in my life. So let the record show that Peter B. Van Wyck was right and I was wrong. Just this once.

Second, Friends Camp taught me a lot about the kind of person I want to be. The kind of person who knows how to start a fire and make chores fun, who does weird but thoughtful things for their friends, who listens to children, who can bust out a friendship bracelet over lunch, who wears sunscreen and never runs out of fresh hugs. And who knows the sweet sweet relief of having 23 hours off a week, in a row, and has learned how to:

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Third, and what makes this topic relevant to this blog post at all, is that I have made some of the best friends, ever. We have seen each other at our worst and best and these people know how to work. They are the best kind of people to have on your side! One of the best parts is that these friends are now situated all over the world. This is the second time I’ve visited my friend Kat in Germany. We spent a lot of days off together at Friends Camp, offered a program on being the best spy, and she made me a collage cup that I still have and use every day to hold my make-up. She’s just the best. Chris and I stayed with her and her boyfriend, Nils, for a few days and had the best time. They are such incredible hosts!

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Kat and me

20140529-232102-84062139.jpg Kat and Nils, basically the best-looking couple of all time

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The elaborate breakfast they prepared for us. Nutella AND cheese AND homemade rhubarb preserves on one table. Heaven.
They really thought of everything and it makes Chris and I want to step up our game when it comes to hosting guests! They took us around Recklinghausen and we saw part of the old wall that used to surround the town, they drove us to Münster so we could see the city, they took us to 3 separate farms in search of fresh asparagus, and even showed us a coal mine where we ate a giant sausage in the cafeteria. Here are just a few pictures from our time with them:

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I don’t know why the sausage pictures got split up, but I like it.

After Germany, we took a quick trip to Amsterdam because I really really wanted to see the Keukenhof. Tulips are my fave and this place is a tulip mecca. I’ve been dreaming about going there for years and was so stoked that the time had finally come for me to be surrounded by so many fucking beautiful tulips! But it turns out that they experienced a very warm spring this year and the majority of the tulips were gone by the time we got there. BUMMER. I won’t lie to you, I straight up pouted about this. Then Chris gave me a pep talk, I ate some Dutch waffle cookies, and we still ended up having a pretty ok time.

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This field was supposed to be full of magnificent tulips for our viewing pleasure. Climate change is a real bastard.

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It really was a lovely park still. I even was asked to pose for a picture with another random tourist! That gem can be found on Chris’ Facebook page.

When we got back to central station after the park we weaved up and down the streets of Amsterdam and ended up walking more than 8 miles back the the apartment we rented. After a week of rain in Germany it was nice to walk without umbrellas for a change!

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We saw so many cats on our walk! It made me miss that ferocious beast, Crackers.

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Chris will beat me in chess every time

After our short stay in Amsterdam we were off to Rome!
We had a couple hiccups getting situated in the studio we were renting – it was located about 30 minutes outside of the city center by public transportation and our host said he would meet us at the bus stop so he could show us the way. As Chris puts it, he pulled a Rip Van Winkle on us and was nowhere to be found and completely unreachable by phone or email. We eventually found our way to the address and waited outside for around an hour before he answered the doorbell. By that point I was getting worried and was just so glad we didn’t have to figure out another place to stay at the last minute! Besides the initial trouble, we had a nice stay in the apartment and he even provided breakfast for us while we were there. It was my first time in Rome and I didn’t really know what to expect. The first day we checked out the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon along with about 70,000 other tourists. The place was packed! We took a bunch of pictures but I’ll only include a few because this post is getting pretty lengthy.

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Chris signing the guest book for us in the Pantheon

The next day we decided to tackle Vatican City. The line to get in the city was pretty long, but certainly not 3 hours like the “skip the line” tour guides would have you believe. I think we waited less than an hour. We downloaded podcasts of Rick Steves so we could have free audio tours of the sites we were visiting. He is awesome and it made sight-seeing so much more enjoyable – I learned a lot! We used his tours for the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum. I wish we would have been ready and had them for the Pantheon! Anyway, the Vatican Museums were packed full of people and as we got closer to the Sistine Chapel the river of people became more and more dense until we were all walking at a shuffling pace and I was literally being pushed by tourists behind me – believe me, if I could have walked faster I would have! Pushing was not the answer. It created this claustrophobic, stuffy, and maddening experience and I considered jumping ship more than once. I’m glad I couldn’t find an exit, though, because it really was amazing once I was standing under that famous ceiling. Photography is not allowed but I snuck a couple of crappy snapshots with my phone while listening to the audio guide just to stick it to the man.

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Here we are, happy to be leaving the Vatican Museums

After that we headed over to St. Peter’s square and stood in line for a while again to get into the Basilica. Also worth it! That place is amazing inside.

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Our last full day in Rome was my favorite. The Colosseum is ridiculous and really made me want to watch the movie Gladiator even though I’m not usually into those types of stories. My man Rick Steves told me a bunch of interesting info about this spot and pointed out things I wouldn’t have noticed on my own.

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Killing as a competitive sport and a bunch of virgins get the box seats. The entire stadium could be emptied in less than 15 minutes. The Romans were an eccentric bunch but they knew how to get shit done.

After the Colosseum we took a stroll over to the Roman Forum with Rick. This has been the highlight of my trip, I think. Some of the ruins that remain are so big! Standing there, you can really begin to imagine how huge and beautiful everything was. How did they do it?! It’s awe-inspiring. And it’s also so fucking old! SO OLD. Julius Caesar walked where I am walking, is this real life?!?! I absolutely loved it and would go back in a heart beat.

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The Roman Forum. The best.

We left Rome to spend a week with another osteopath in Milan. Post on that coming soon!

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Jason is cheating.

What a lovely week in Neuwied! The osteopath we shadowed this week also opened his home to us – turns out that in addition to being a badass osteopath who teaches his own biodynamics courses, he is also a scuba diver and scuba instructor, underwater photographer (you can check out some of his work at http://www.banzai-divers.com!), cancer survivor, and he plays a mean piano and can whip up a delicious meal in basically no time at all. He was an incredibly generous host and we were lucky to be connected with him. Plus he practices in a building that has incorporated into its own architecture a stone wall built in the 1300s that surrounds the small town of Altwied. Here are some photos I took around the place.

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Just a quick 5 minute walk up the hill takes you to the ruins of this old castle with gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside. This place is perfect.

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Here are Marcel and Femka, and I just caught Jason in the background.

A couple of nights this week Chris and I played cards with his two kids, Jason who is 11 and Femka who just turned 10. They speak about as much English as we do German so we taught them the easiest game we could think of to explain: War. I forgot how long that damn game can drag out! We took turns with the kids using a translating app on Chris’ phone. The first night, I laughed my ass off when Femka handed me the phone and rolled her eyes and the translation was: Jason is cheating. Marcel later told us that she is super competitive and was probably cheating too – hilarious! Kids are the best. So the next night we played I just had to take a screenshot when it happened again:

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Everyone had a good chuckle and when Jason read it he just smiled and shrugged his shoulders. We were multi-tasking and watching the finale of Germany’s version of The Voice for kids at the same time. Femka’s teacher’s daughter, Hannah, was a finalist and totally should have won!

On the afternoon of Femka’s birthday Chris and I took a boat up the Rhine to Braubach to see the Marksburg castle. It’s the oldest castle that has never been attacked or rebuilt or something like that in Germany. (All of these attractions have such specific claims to fame and I can never remember all of the “only”, “oldest”, “most-castle-like-on-a-hill-this-size-and-facing-the-south-east-with-7-entrances” modifiers. I do remember, however, that people have lived in it continuously for over 800 years and that is fucking cool.) Here we are on the boat:

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It was lunch time and we enjoyed some schnitzel on the way up the river. I also took the opportunity to try some grapefruit beer and it was quite refreshing! Acceptable for breakfast?!?!

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“You ate my fuckin schnitzel!” Can’t help but think about Tenacious D.

Even though it was raining we still had a great time and enjoyed the hike up to and the tour of the castle. Our tour group was made up of the two of us and around 20 college kids from a school in Michigan. Being around them made me feel a little old but honestly just pretty relieved that period of my life has passed. They were obnoxious and disrespectful to the tour guide and overall seemed ungrateful of the experience they were having. I know I likely behaved just like them when I was their age and it’s crazy how much insight and maturity you can develop within a decade. Anyway, here are some shots of the castle:

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View from the castle.

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Torture chamber: either you confess or we’ll torture you until you confess. Seems fair.

We are loving Germany so far and can’t wait to see more!

Birthday in Barcelona

Last week was incredible. Too much and just the right amount. We saw amazing things, met amazing people, and learned an awful lot about ourselves and what it means to be an osteopath.

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These two were the most generous, helpful, fun, and interesting hosts of all time. Christian and his wife, Asun, taught us so much about operating a successful practice, Spain, traveling the world, and life! We got some insight on HVLA techniques and body mechanics, the importance of visceral manipulation, and even a few cranial tricks. All of the work that was done to make this month-long international rotation possible has been totally worth it, thanks to our time with Christian and Asun. And we still have 4 more countries to visit!

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They even drove us to Sitges one afternoon! We enjoyed some beer and tapas by the beach and then walked around the old part of town for a bit.

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This picture was taken out of the balcony of the apartment we rented for the week. Right in the heart of the gothic quarter, smack dab in the middle of Las Ramblas and the cathedral of Barcelona, it was just a quick jog to the beach in the morning. It was our first time using airbnb.com and I definitely consider it a success! Our host was friendly and super helpful, the apartment was clean, spacious, and had a little kitchen so we could cook to save some money. It was a great deal for the price and the perfect home-away-from-home during our time in Spain.

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Here’s one of Chris walking down the stairs in the cathedral of Barcelona, which was his favorite. Mine was (and probably always will be) La Sagrada Familia. That place is out of control.

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Loved the labyrinth park! It wasn’t too crowded and there were plenty of tall beautiful trees so we didn’t feel it at all when it decided to rain a bit. We made it to the middle of the maze, but we saw the rest of it first 🙂 It was tricky!

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I made Chris pose for a picture in front of this yellow and green bush because he had his Packers shirt on and it just seemed so right. This was on our way down from “hiking” up Mont Jüic. I saw it on the map and that it was only about a mile and a half away from our apartment so we set out one afternoon. It was a warmer day and a steeper walk up than I realized and we were pretty worn out by the time we made it to the castle at the top. The view was worth it though and we’re always game for a little more exercise!

I loved having my birthday in Barcelona. I have a lot of feelings about getting older but overall I’m stoked on it. I’m coming dangerously close to deciding once and for all what I want to be when I grow up and I’ve found my person. I’ve realized just how far determination, a lot of hard fucking work, and a little faith can get you. I’m happy with my progress! Cheers to that.

Take off

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I think one of the most relaxing parts of any big trip can be the moment when you’re checked in at the airport and waiting for boarding time. By this point, all the plans are made, the bags are packed, last minute errands are taken care of, and it’s game time. You’ve probably packed everything you’ll need, but maybe not. There’s nothing to do but take a deep breath and wait. And also drink some wine.

This is going to be a big trip, it took boat loads of planning, and I’ve had a good deal of anxiety about packing the perfect bag. We bought new luggage at REI and I was pretty stoked on some of the features until I tried to pack everything I wanted inside- it’s smaller than it looks! I can tell you now that compression sacks are worth their weight in gold. I might change my tune once I unpack and assess how much ironing needs to be done, but they allowed me to fit an extra skirt and pair of workout clothes so I’m pretty darn happy. The bags have certainly forced both of us to pack light! That’s a lesson I can always use. People have done even more with even less – useful to remember in all sorts of situations.

I also indulged in a nice shoeshine at the airport. Fred took great care of my beat-up old Danskos and was a pleasure to talk to! Look him up next time you need your shoes shined at DIA.

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Love this style going on here? I had some tough choices to make when packing my small bag and fashion sacrifices were made. Who knows, maybe it will catch on?!

Spring cleaning. Spring Pie. Springtime in Barcelona.

Spring break 2014!!! I remember a time when spring break meant driving to Mexico with some awesome people, drinking beers on the beach, playing card games late into the night, and taking no less than two naps a day.  That was the life! I can’t even believe that the last time I was at that lovely little cabin on the beach was five years ago, holy smokes.

walking out the side door of the cabin.
walking out the side door of the cabin.

Now that I’m getting slightly more comfortable with the idea of growing up, spring break looks a little different. I actually wasn’t going to have a break at all until one of our fellowship directors worked with us to give us three days off. The last two months have been crazy busy and I am truly stoked about this five-day weekend.  I’ve let a couple of projects pile up around the Ketones household (Ketter + Jones – see what we did there, eh eh?) and money’s a bit tight (we’re trying to plan a wedding here, folks!) so the idea of staying close to home this week sounded A-OK to me.

Let me tell you what: no matter what happens the rest of this week, today was everything I wanted this break to be. It. Was. So. Good. Chris and I woke up weird early in the morning and headed to the gym so I could get my ass handed to me in the Total Conditioning group fitness class. The instructor is around 34 weeks pregnant and a beast – not one person in the class can keep up with her. I love it so hard. When we got home we decided to tackle the closets. I’ll spare you the most boring of details but there is something so pleasant about having your space clean and organized and getting rid of some of the excess. I also got rid of a boatload of clothes, as partly evidenced below:

but really, where did it all come from?
but really, where did it all come from?

I was inspired by an article I read in the de-clutter issue of Oprah’s magazine which I picked up while traveling to Florida last month. This article claims that you only need 33 items in your wardrobe… including accessories and shoes. I’m no miracle worker, but I did get pretty close! Having such a challenging goal in mind helped me be more ruthless about what I needed to get rid of.

We’re trying to brush up on some spanish before our upcoming OMT rotation in Barcelona and a classmate is letting us borrow some audio lessons by Pimsleur. At one point, we had the lessons turned up on the stereo, Chris was working on the guest room closet, I was working on my closet, and we were both working on giving someone directions to the movie theatre in spanish. A much different experience than spring break in Mexico, but it still made me pretty damn happy.

Chris’ parents are coming out for a visit pretty soon and they will probably be here during his dad’s birthday. I found out that he’s not a big fan of cake (what?!) but loves lemon meringue pie. I tackled this pie years ago with the help of my BFFL, but I always feel more confident with a recent practice pie under my belt. Lemon meringue can be kind of tricky and I want to put my best pie forward. Let’s be real, I want his parents to love me and a great pie can only help my case. Duh.

we are domestic goddesses.
we are domestic goddesses.

I used this Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe by Emeril and it turned out fucking fantastic. I replaced Lemoncello with more lemon juice and baked the meringue at 325 degrees since I don’t own a blow torch (major oversight there). I whole-heartedly suggest giving this pie a try!

thing of beauty.
now that i’ve taken a picture, i can proceed to eating all of the pie. jk i’ve got some family members who are looking forward to meeting it tomorrow 🙂 

To finish off the day, Chris made me breakfast for dinner and we worked on some more little projects with March Madness in the background.  Tomorrow I’m really looking forward to game night in Loveland, seeing the fam, and hanging out with my perfect nephew. And Crackers, obvi.  Grown-up spring breaks rule.

 

Best. Weekend. Ever.

The first post… dun dun DUN. I was contemplating what to post about and decided that I am certainly not above luring you in with sparkly things and pictures of an adorable baby.  I know, shameless.

A couple of weeks ago I had the best weekend ever. I spent a little quality time with some lovely friends I don’t often get to see, held my perfect baby nephew for the first time, and got engaged to the greatest guy. And also Crackers.

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Anna and Abbey with their combined masterpiece, Abbey’s birthday cake. I’m so glad she was born and sooo glad these girls like to bake.

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This moment was fucking magical.

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Baby Sawyer Alan Jones! Looking all smug in his swaddle.

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My first favorite part of holding Sawyer was witnessing Papa Bear Hank in all his glory. Hank has always been so laid back. He’s just the coolest. I guess I assumed that attitude would carry on into parenthood for him – false.  He criticized my carefully-thought-out-nephew-holding form. “Don’t rub his head like that. He’s not a pet,” he said. He hovered. I loved every minute of it. Isn’t it the best when your family can still completely surprise you?

My second favorite part was when Hank leaned down and planted a smooch on Sawyer’s head. Sawyer smiled in his sleep. My auntie heart melted.

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Look at this grump! He’s already earning his nickname: Baby Saw. This little baby is a badass.

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I’m engaged to this dreamboat! There was a walk and a sunset and crisp Colorado air and some birds and fountains. It was just right and it feels pretty great to have found my person. He’s just my flavor of weird and I’ve never felt happier and more like myself.

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When my gorgeous niece found out about the engagement, she made my dad take her to the store to get us these flowers and a card to congratulate us – our first engagement gift!

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And lastly, Crackers. Getting to spend some snuggle time in front of the fire with this crazy animal was the cherry on top of a perfect weekend.