Category Archives: Kuert Travels

Travels that SK and I have taken

The Selfies My Husband and I Take

*snap*

Another picture taken of my husband and I.

Not by the paparazzi of course, but by my own hands.

“Babe…you didn’t even smile”-Me

*snap* again…

“Haha! What are you doing here? You’re hilarious! I love you!”-Me

What my loving and definitely humorous husband is doing in these moments is more than showing me love.

By taking pictures with me, my husband is making memories with me.

We don’t just take selfies while sitting on the couch at home. We take them when we are doing life and creating memories we want to remember.

The other night we were standing outside the Denver airport awaiting our ride. I had my phone out and decided to snap a picture of us.

I captured the moment because we were both thinking of standing there together almost 5 years ago when I got to meet some of his family for the first time.

While we waited there in 2011 in the same spot, there was this bizarre swarm of flies everywhere. We wondered if we were in Africa or Colorado. Every time we find ourselves in that same spot we laugh about that memory.

The pictures are a way of remembering good times and continuing to build happy memories upon them. I take pictures of us because I want to remember the happy times.

I’m not just seizing a moment, I’m reliving other great memories and forming more for the many times I’ll reflect on that picture in the future.

Romans 12:8-9 “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

I want to hold tightly to what is good.

I want to make memories worth reflecting on.
My husband is honoring me with great love by taking pictures with me.

They become a living memory to view over and over again.
They will represent endless smiles for when the days are trying.
They’ll be warmth to my heart when we find ourselves in different locations and I miss him.

As I see his handsome face and often his goofy expressions, I’m reminded of why I said yes to marrying him.

I see the heart of an incredible man and the one who I’ll always stand with. I’m humbled by his love for me and I love being reminded of this.

This is why we take “selfies” and why we’ll keep on taking them. Even if the lighting is poor and I only get a goofy expression, they’re beautiful moments lived with the one I love.

By the way, I’ve been taking pictures like this for years before they were called “selfies” haha! 

Go take a selfie with your spouse. Tell him or her that it’s a love note that they won’t have to write or a nice dinner they don’t have to plan.

Oh and guys–give her a smile when she asks for one or at the very least put up a goofy expression ☺️

Selfies

From the Front Row of the Magnolia Market Silos Grand Opening

WELCOME to my behind the scenes “tour” of the new Magnolia Market and snapshots of my view from the front row of the grand opening and #silobration! 
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When I opened my email one morning in late August, I was ecstatic to see that Magnolia Market was having a big celebration for their new store opening! They were calling it #Silobration and I knew I wanted to go so I bought two tickets immediately.

My sweet husband was already scheduled to run in the Tulsa Run that weekend, so as much as he wanted to join me he couldn’t. As you can tell below, he’s a fan of the show. Chip inspires him to be his goofy self.

We entered Twitter contests every week with Stephen being inspired to wear a lampshade like Chip and us having date nights and dressing like the Gaines'

We entered Twitter contests every week with Stephen being inspired to wear a lampshade like Chip and us having date nights and dressing like the Gaines’

Though many wanted to come with me, a friend whom I hadn’t seen in 8 years named Tana got to join! She drove down from Fort Worth and picked me up at the airport on Thursday afternoon.

On the sunny day before the deluge

On the sunny day before the deluge

October has unofficially been “HGTV” month for me since our Madagascar House Hunters International episode aired for the 1st time early October. It was a dream to end the month here in Waco.

Magnolia Market officially opened that Thursday morning at 11am with a ribbon cutting ceremony. We joined not too long after around 3pm. The store wasn’t crazy busy and it was nice to take our time and look around at EVERY. LITTLE. THING.
I walked in and *sighed* at the beauty of it all! I would decorate with everything if I could.

Such an inviting entrance!

Such an inviting entrance!

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Magnolia

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I LOVE Joanna's jewelry!

I LOVE Joanna’s jewelry!

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Chip's Corner in Magnolia Market

Chip’s Corner in Magnolia Market

After purchasing a few small items and grabbing both Stephen and I shirts, we left the store area.

Outside it was clear and sunny skies so we seized the opportunity to take some pictures before the rain that was forecasted the next day.

Last minute landscape being done on Thursday

Last minute landscape being done on Thursday

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Do these silos make me look thin? ;-)

Do these silos make me look thin? ;-)

"You guys ready to see your Fixer Upper??"

“You guys ready to see your Fixer Upper??”

 

As we snapped pictures, I turned around and saw Chip Gaines standing right behind me. I had been taken pictures with him in the background and didn’t know!

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But then I intentionally took this one haha! I DID look around for one of my role models Joanna, but I was still excited to see Chip a couple of their sweet kiddos!

BECAUSE I had no intention of interrupting him and was now embarrassed I was snapping pics and he saw me doing that 🙈

Tana said,”Come on! Let’s go and say hi.” So off I went and began with,”Hi, sorry to interrupt, I just wanted to say,’Congratulations'”! He was so kind and gracious and thanked us and asked if we’d be coming back for the grand opening the following night. We told him that we would and he said he looked forward to connecting. Very down to earth and appreciative. I’d wished the lovely Joanna was with him.chipgaines

We explored Waco some more that day and tried our Ninfa’s Mexican restaurant for lunch and D’s Mediterranean Restaurant. Both were fairly good and I’d recommend them if you’re in the area. We also visited Common Grounds coffee while in the area. (UPDATE: Torchie’s Tacos and In and Out Burger are open less than half a mile away and on my second trip I ate there :) )

The next morning as we headed out to shop, (in the monsoon), we met Abner from Johnnyswim in our hotel lobby. He too was so kind and gracious and we all agreed we’d be praying for the rain to end or just be light for that evening. He was about to take a tour of the new market himself and a golf cart came for him…thankfully the rain lifted a bit.

We visited Harp Design Co. and I was shocked that Clint’s actual house was right on the property as the store! Their house might be my favorite “Fixer Upper” due to the nature of all that was done!

I bought a letter "K" for My Kuert Life of course!

I bought a letter “K” for My Kuert Life of course!

The rain and storms grew stronger throughout the afternoon and there was even a tornado watch so we hoped and prayed that the outdoor events that evening would still be on.

"Ya I know it's raining, but the sun is still shining high..."-Johnnyswim

“Ya I know it’s raining, but the sun is still shining high…”-Johnnyswim

As we left the hotel to walk to the silos, the rain was only slightly sprinkling!! Which was an answer to prayer AND we got a lift from a golf cart! Talk about feeling VIP!

Since we’d already been to the store, we entered the property through a short line skipping the long line into the market. Once we were inside the gates, we snapped a couple of pictures at night.

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The grain mill at night

The grain mill at night

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As we went for food, Johnnyswim was doing a sound check and announced they’d be back on in 5 minutes. We decided one of us should stay back before it got so crowded, so I stayed and held a spot on the front row. I was asked to sign a waiver for being on the front row and allowing the production company filming “Fixer Upper” to film me during the concert. I quickly text Tana to return informing her that we could eat anytime!

Lyric from Diamonds by Johnnyswim

Lyric from Diamonds by Johnnyswim

 

The mud we were standing in--at least I'm in rain boots!

The mud we were standing in–at least I’m in rain boots!

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Johnnyswim was incredible and it was neat to hear them while being so close and with the amplification of the silos behind them!

When Chip and Joanna were scheduled to hit the stage, only Joanna appeared. Chip hurt his back the day prior and was “doing some back stretches” as we were told.
Later, he came repelling down the side of one of the silos because of course how could he be expected to enter the stage like a normal person? It was cute to see Joanna’s reactions and laughter over her husband’s crazy.

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COMMITMENTS
The Gaines went on to thank everyone for coming and make some dedication commitments.

Chip made some serious remarks with interjected humor (of course–as would my husband). He started off with something about their first commitment was to their marriage and how when all of this began he was married to Joanna and promised the crowd that then it’s all over that he’ll still be married to her.  Then they made a second commitment to their 4 kiddos. He explained that they love invitations to come all over, but, “we are all in with this beautiful and business that God has blessed us with, we’re all in our marriage and we’re all in for these kiddos. So if you can just honor us with that in this season. We want to thank you for your support and you can trust us to be a good representation of each of you with this as we move forward…”

They celebrated the dedication of the new store by throwing Dr. Pepper bottles against the Silos!

They brought Clint Harp and Jimmy Don to the stage and thanked them for their support and partnership.

imageThen Joanna closed by thanking Chip for being such a supportive husband.
“I was happy just being comfortable in life. I could’ve literally had a job from 18-80 years old and been happy. One job. I was just one of those people who didn’t want to take a risk. And every now and then when I was feeling good, I’d write out some business ideas and write out some business plans. When we first got married, he (Chip) saw those and he said,”Jo, in a year I want one of these done”…he’s the one who pushed me with the wind at my back…it was our first year of marriage when Magnolia Market actually opened in 2003. Without that (motivation) I wouldn’t be who I am today. I’m very thankful for a man who can get behind his wife’s dreams.”

It was beautiful and ended on a high note with the Gaines joining Johnnyswim on stage to sing the Fixer Upper theme song, “Home”. I think it’s safe to say that Chip needs to stick with his day job! It was quite fun enjoying from the front row!

The concert closed with my favorite JimmySwim song, “Diamonds” which I periscoped for Stephen.

I said goodbye to the "little shop on Bosque" as I headed to the airport. All good things must come to an end.

I said goodbye to the “little shop on Bosque” as I headed to the airport. All good things must come to an end.

I know I’m far from alone in being a fan of the show and the Gaines family. I think everyone loves a good restoration story.

It’s why Clint Harp’s home is one of my favorites.
To see such a transformation from something that was once beautiful and has lost its beauty being restored to its original glory hits a special place in everyone’s heart.
We all want to know we have a second chance. An opportunity to turn around. A new coat of paint. And we can. This beautiful family has displayed this so well to the viewers across the world and I believe they’re inspiring hearts to what really can be in their own lives.

They might never life in Waco and have a Magnolia home of their owns, but they can be made new. 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Thanks Chip and Joanna and the wonderful staff at Magnolia Market and volunteers! You made a weekend I won’t forget and I WILL be back with Stephen soon!

Additional Links;

Joanna’s Testimony

 

Magnolia Market

Local Interview about the Silos Grand Opening and Joanna’s Tv Career before Fixer Upper– click here

 

Johnnyswim–Diamonds 

 

 

 

Madagascar House Hunters International

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For those who only want to know the air date for our episode of Madagascar House Hunters International, it’s October 5th at 9:30pm central time and then October 6th at 12:30am central time on HGTV ☺️

If you miss the live program, you can view it here after the air date.

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Filming a scene at the Nehemiah Project!

We love Madagascar…

We had a blast filming and working on this project!! Stephen has been connected to Madagascar from missions work in East Africa and we were excited to move here as a married couple. We wish you could see ALL of the country and ALL of our beautiful friends there, but this will be a fun episode with a glimpse into the uniqueness of this amazing island.

My 1st Time to Europe–Amsterdam

Stephen and I needed to do a layover in Europe on our way back to the States to break up the travel on my back. We usually fly from Nairobi to Amsterdam on KLM and it seemed like a reasonable place to stop. I have never left an airport in Europe, so this was my first time to technically be “in Europe”. I was excited! We have some friends there and found a great deal on a hotel, so we booked a night at Holiday Inn Express Schipol. Don’t think about this chain in America because it can’t even remotely begin to compare to how nice of a facility this place was, the luxury of the interior, the huge breakfast buffet, and the excellence of the staff. There are free shuttles to and from the airport and the drive is a maximum 10 minutes from the airport. We arrived at 6am and had to wait a few hours for a clean room as they had been fully booked the previous night. We enjoyed a long breakfast and enjoyed being back in a 1st World Country again, although I was a bit overwhelmed by the culture shock.
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This was the first sign I wasn’t in a 3rd world country anymore–#shareacoke
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Note to self: I won’t be naming my children Bertha :)

We were so hungry even after our breakfast because we had been traveling for a day and had taken a 4 hour nap. We decided to go into town and we ventured into this adorable cheese store and sampled TONS of cheese which filled us up :) Our favorites were a garlic and aged gouda.
Cheese Factory
Cheese Store

Then we met up with our friends who used to be our neighbors in Madagascar. They’re both from The Netherlands and are back home for some time right now, so it was a perfect chance to see them and get a tour of Amsterdam!
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They took us out to dinner at a nice Brazilian steakhouse and then on a boat tour of the city. It’s definitely worth an hour of your time to take a tour!
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Sometimes I can’t get SK to take a serious pic…this is 1 in a series of 3 that are similar ;)
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“NO Bicycles please! They will be removed”…but clearly not the case ;)

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We were grateful to get some quality rest and to spend time with these sweet friends! The picture on the left below are drawings their two kids made for us. They’re some of our favorite little people in the world!
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**If pictures appear sideways or upside down, this is due to a glitch in the mobile interface of this blog. If viewed in a desktop/laptop computer, the display should be fine. I’m working with the template to correct this problem!

Zanzibar

Vacation to Zanzibar, Tanzania

SK and I went to Zanzibar in mid-July. We had been in Kenya for a long time doing medical appointments and needed a few days getaway to clear our heads. Things were getting tense here with terrorist attacks, so we thought we’d get out of Kenya if we could find something affordable. Not to mention we’d been FREEZING for a couple of months, so all of Kenya’s tourist options nearby weren’t appealing. SK was talking to a friend who happens to live in Zanzibar and he told us to come over and see him. Zanzibar is an island off of the coast of Tanzania and just so happens to be where William and Kate went on their honeymoon! Stephen used to pastor a church in Dar Es Salaam so he would often take the ferry over to Zanzibar on his off days or take guests there. He has a few friends who live there so we decided to check airline prices. We went to a Kenya Airways ticket counter and for $200 less/person, you could fly at inconvenient times for $233/person. We snagged those tickets and flew out the same day! When we arrived, a monkey greeted us :)

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This is what a traditional Zanzibar door looks like. You can buy little doors to take home as decor in the market.

We spent time with some friends, shopped in historic StoneTown, watched sunsets, checked out a couple of beaches, and went snorkeling. Here’s a recap of our trip in pictures and links for your info.

These are the places that we went to eat and our suggestions;

On Saturday we ate at a place called, “6 Degrees South”, which we thought was so clever to use the latitude in their location. You can normally view the ocean from their patio seating, but because it was Ramadan, they had covered the open viewing area as most locals are fasting. Thankfully we were not and got to partake in some yummy meals a few times. There have affordable delicious food and we can recommend the Pilau, passion fruit juice, coconut water out of a coconut, and SK’s favorite–the coconut banana milkshake! We went back one more time before departing.

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What would normally be your view while dining;
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The next day we decided to eat food at this Ethiopian Restaurant
It’s located in Stone Town and an easy walk to the market. We just wouldn’t recommend the chicken. The taste was incredible, but nearly half of the meat was pure fat and you couldn’t chew it. This was my coffee escape…*sighs*

 

That evening we just ate at the forodhani where they cook in front of you. The chicken shawarmas were incredible!!! Also, we don’t eat gluten, but the Zanzibar Pizzas are quite an experience just to watch and nearly every stand makes them. If nothing else, grab a fresh fruit salad with your pick of fruit. BEWARE–there are a plethora of cats that will swarm your ankles for food!
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The following day we ate at the across from the food stands in Stone Town. Again because it was Ramadan, most places weren’t open during the day and the restaurants didn’t open until usually 7pm. EVERYTHING that I ate here was absolutely incredible! They had a deal where you could get 3 courses, a starter which I had an unforgettable ginger chicken salad, a main course, where I had Swahili Chicken Curry, and the a dessert which was some vanilla ice cream with fruit. I’m not joking when I say that it was one of the best meals that I have ever had! The ambiance is really neat too and on occasion they have live music. We sat inside on the floor on a low table top and cushions. It made for a really pleasant dinner with a local friend of SK’s.

Places we explored;

Because we were only there for 5 days, we spent time with friends and walked through Stone Town most of the time. Our beach explorations could’ve been better planned, so here’s what to learn from us!

On Monday per our friend’s recommendation we drove down to Fumba Beach Lodge. This was a gorgeous and refreshing place to spend some time. They offered us a day pass as they weren’t at full occupancy and just asked that we pay in lunch and drinks. The food wasn’t great, hence why it wasn’t listed in my food recommendations, but the hamburger I had wasn’t bad :) It’s about a 25 minute drive from Stone Town and a great getaway for the day if you want to sit near the pool. The beaches on this side of the island aren’t thick, so there’s not a lot of lying on the beach opportunities.

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On Tuesday we had planned to drive to the northern part of the island. We took a friend of SK’s with us, a local Tanzanian man and then we got pulled over by a cop. SK played dumb like he didn’t know Swahili, but inevitably we were singled out because of having a local with us and we had a long interruption to our day plans. We ended up turning around and heading back south after an hour’s drive because the cops would’ve kept stopping us and asking for bribes. So I quickly looked for signs to point to ANY type of beach view. I saw a sign for, “Sea Cliff”, so we went and checked it out! Saving grace for the day–we again got a day pass and enjoyed this lovely resort. The food here was absolutely terrible, but was “all-inclusive”, SO I drank 2 chocolate milks ;-) It was a bit more pricy at about $35/per person, but again if you love unlimited food and beverages, then it’s worth the price. We just wanted to soak up the beach and since we had free lodging, it wasn’t a bad deal. It’s called Sea Cliff for a reason as it sits on a large cliff overlooking the ocean, so again not much of a beach. There is a small area of sand and a few beach chairs. It’s quite expensive to lodge there and in my opinion, something up North or on the East Coast would be better worth for your money. UNLESS you love to see the sunset, because I’m sure it’s amazing!

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Lastly, on our last day we went snorkeling. We borrowed some equipment from a friend and off we went! Stephen had gone many times around Zanzibar in the past and it’s one of his favorite things to go do. After a close encounter with a barracuda in Dominican Republic 7 years ago, it’s not so much one of my favorite things.

Below are pictures of our time at the Fort and Stone Town. We loved our few days of getting away and enjoying warm weather–its warm year round, so if you’re ever in this part of the world and want a nice place to go–the Kuerts and the Royal William and Kate recommend it!

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