A Few Bottles of Old Wineyard

Just all the wine! Since we have been in New Zealand, three and a half weeks now, Sean and I have consumed an outrageous amount of wine. And how couldn’t we? New Zealand wines have been our “go-to” for a couple of years now. Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs have been our favorite, but since arriving we have gotten the chance to try varietals and wine from regions that are not normally imported into the US. With ten major wine regions in this small country, Sean and I are determined to taste our way through them all. Continue reading A Few Bottles of Old Wineyard

My Journeys Through Middle-Earth

*NOTE: This post was originally published over at screenfellows.com, an entertainment review website where I am a staff writer.  Given its relevance to our upcoming trip to New Zealand and the wedding itself, I thought it appropriate to re-post it here with some minor alterations.  Feel free to click over to The Fellowship of the Screen to read more of my writing as well as the rest of our talented staff.  In the coming months more details about the wedding and our preparations for the big move will be posted right here.  Stay tuned! Continue reading My Journeys Through Middle-Earth

An Unexpected Proposal

“Will you marry me?” Those four little words made me the happiest person alive. On September 8th, 2014 I became officially engaged to the love of my life Sean Knight. Since we had our year-long honeymoon trip to New Zealand already planned out with a timeline, I knew it was inevitable. It was just a matter of when. I had made it clear to Sean that I wanted him to ask me. I don’t know why, but I had always had the fantasy of being proposed to, instead of the one proposing. There was a time, probably because we talked so casually about our honeymoon, that I thought we would just agree on being engaged instead of going the traditional “asking” route. But knowing Sean is a old-fashioned romantic, that wouldn’t do.

I knew there was something fishy going on weeks prior to the engagement. He and our best friend, Jeanette, would be whispering, or I’d see him messaging a large group of people at once on Facebook, or exit out of a screen on his computer as I passed by, or he’d be oddly secretive when I’d ask what he is doing. I started trying to figure it out ahead of time. I am a person who loves surprises, but I’m also extremely nosy. I thought he might propose at a Birthday party he was planning for himself later this month (which he later informed me is actually our engagement party), but not at his Birthday dinner at Girl and the Goat.

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We had just enjoyed a 15-course meal with some of our best girlfriends, when a couple weird things started happening. When our server got our dessert order, Sean didn’t order a dessert drink or another bottle of wine. If you know Sean, you know that’s odd. Also the whole atmosphere at the table seemed different.  The girls were unusually quiet, and there was excitement/nervousness in the air. Then Sean whispered, “Come here,” and he pulled me onto his chair then got down on one knee. I was dumbstruck.

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The tears poured immediately. All of a sudden everything else around us blurred away. All of my focus was entirely on Sean. I forgot that the girls were there. I forgot where I was. I was trying so hard to concentrate on Sean and what he was saying because I didn’t want to forget a word. That proved to be difficult owing to the amount of wine I drank, and because I was having trouble hearing him over my violent and loud sobs. Sean was so composed that he didn’t look nervous at all. After his beautiful speech, he pulled out a small wooden box and popped the question. I was so excited to finally say, “Yes!” He then opened the box and told me that this was his High School ring that was a placeholder until my engagement ring came in. Also in the box was a small picture of a silver ring with Elvish inscriptions on it. Underneath the picture there was a quote: “I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone.”

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As all my nerdy friends know, that is a quote from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring when Arwen (an elf) tells Aragorn (a mortal man) that she is giving up her immortality to be bound to him. After he explained that the ring is being handmade in Israel and should arrive in a couple weeks, champagne and dessert came to the table! I was so exhausted, I could barely eat dessert. It was an amazing evening, and I’m so glad Jeanette, Callie, Megan, and Danielle we there to share it with us.

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Now the exciting stuff is starting to happen. We are already into full-blown wedding planning mode. Well, Sean is anyway. We’ll be posting more developments into the preparation of both our wedding and our one-year working holiday in New Zealand. Then, when we get to New Zealand, we’ll be here posting stories, photos, and videos of the trip of a lifetime with the love of my life.

Be sure to check out our Honeyfund. Considering we are moving to New Zealand for a year, we don’t need a traditional gift registry. We, instead, ask our friends and family to contribute to our Honeymoon. The link is http://www.honeyfund.com/wedding/seanandelliot2015, and there are links to each activity we have planned.

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I cannot tell you how happy it makes me knowing I am going to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. I am delighted to be joining his family, and his, mine.

I love you all,

Elliot

There and Back Again: A Marriage in Adventure

It all started with a text.

“I want to move to New Zealand”

Truth be told, that was a text 14 years in the making.  Ever since I first saw The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring back in 2001 I thought to myself, “I want to live THERE.”  New Zealand became a bit of an obsession for us both once we started dating.  I showed Elliot the LOTR films early in our relationship and though his initial reaction was less than enthused (“I have to sit through two more of these?”), in time he came to love them almost as much as I did.  And with that came a mutual craving to travel the land that provided such a stunning backdrop to the greatest fantasy ever brought to the silver screen.

When Elliot and I began talking about the idea of marriage there was no question of where our honeymoon would be spent, but the thought of moving to New Zealand for a year is a more recent development.  Chicago has been our home for almost a decade (I’ve been here for 9, Elliot for 6) and though we love this incredible city it hasn’t come without its challenges (and brutal sanity testing winters).  We have both been hungering for more and with my 30th birthday fast approaching the idea of travel has been in the forefront of our minds.  I was fortunate as a child to grow up in a military family and have the opportunity to travel the world.  Elliot hasn’t had such luck as he grew up in St. Louis and besides a couple forays into Canada, hasn’t left the country. We have been together for over 5 and a half years and the idea of starting a new chapter in our life once we are married is an intriguing one. And so about a month and a half ago, after a particularly grueling week of work while preparing to leave the city for an acting gig for the better part of July/August, I sent Elliot the text – “I want to move to New Zealand.” And I had a plan.

The New Zealand government provides an amazing opportunity to 18-30 year old travelers by offering a Working Holiday Visa which allows the visitor to travel the country for a full year while being able to work for accommodation, food, and pay.  There is a large backpacking network in New Zealand that the government fully endorses. The work opportunities vary from hospitality to sales with numerous vineyard, fruit picking, and seasonal labor jobs available throughout the country.  You can even volunteer to work a few hours a day in the various hostels throughout the land in exchange for free housing.    http://www.backpackerboard.co.nz/ is just one of many websites offering travel advice and job listings for the New Zealand backpacker.  My plan was simple – for the next year we would save up our money and after we were married in the early fall of 2015 we would leave for New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa and spend the next year of our life on an adventure.  As soon as I laid out the plan Elliot was on board.  This is an experience that has the potential to define us for the rest of our lives.  A year away from friends, family, comfort, and home.  A year with just the two of us in a country that holds a special place in our minds and hearts. Visit this website for more information on the NZ Working Holiday Visa – http://www.newzealand.com/us/article/working-holiday-scheme-in-new-zealand/

And so friends, family, and the casual web-surfer, we are announcing here today that in roughly one year’s time we are going to start on the adventure of a lifetime.  Though we want this working trip to be spontaneous and full of surprises, our basic plan is to start in the North Island and work our way down to the South Island before looping back around to come home. There is a whole host of places we would like to see and an entire bucket list of activities to partake in before our year abroad is finished.  We have set up a Honeyfund for our trip and are asking that in lieu of traditional engagement/wedding gifts that people “donate” to the trip.  On the Honeyfund website you will find various gifts to buy which we have broken down into categories – “Essentials” (which includes things like airfare, bus passes, travel insurance etc.) and “Activities” (which includes all bucket list activities we are hoping to complete during our stay). Each activity has a link to a website where you can find more information.  The primary purpose of this blog will be to document the trip in detail, so it is our promise that if you do buy us something on the Honeyfund website you will always get a special mention on the blog and there will be pictures galore posted right here.

In the coming weeks lots of decisions will be made about the official wedding date, reception etc.  All of that information will be posted here on the blog with both Elliot and I making posts when appropriate (and yes there will be many Lord of the Rings references).  It’s going to be a wild ride and I hope you all swing by the blog from time to time to check up on our progress and share in our adventure.  Our lives are about to change forever.

Sean