Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Halloween has arrived! Today is the perfect day to eat lots of sweets, dress up in fun costumes, and give treats to adorable kids who ask. Halloween has never been one of my favorite holidays, but I always enjoy taking part in the festivities. I remember running from door to door trying to fill my pillow case full of goodies and begging my mom to let us go to one more street.

I also enjoy carving pumpkins. I prefer patterns over free hand, but I'm fine either way. That is until I saw some of the competition this year. My roommate Kevin drew a robot murderer (free-hand), and even included his victims beneath him, our friend Jeremiah carved Jack from A Nightmare Before Christmas, Robbie skillfully carved the San Jose Sharks logo, and our friend Brent actually carved a portrait of San Jose Sharks Captain, Joe Thornton!

Bravo, gentlemen. The detail is amazing.

Did you carve a pumpkin this year? What is your favorite memory of Halloween?
Friday, October 28, 2011

Have a Haunted Weekend!

Are you doing anything for Halloween this weekend? Robbie and I are going to a friend's costume party on Saturday and stocking up on candy for Monday. Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays, but I do enjoy seeing the costumes people create. I'm really hoping to see someone dressed up as a kissing booth; I just think it would be so funny.

Will you be dressing up this Halloween? What was your best costume? (Mine was the Octo-Mom)
(Photo: Home Trend Design)
Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Garden

Robbie and I have always talked about growing a garden at home. It is something I have wanted to do for years, but didn't have the space for. Our current place has more than enough space, so now that we are fully settled, we broke ground on our first garden.

For our maiden voyage, we planted flowers, tomatoes, and herbs. The herbs shot straight up and grew to be taller than me! The flowers blossomed early and were a beautiful addition to the overall landscape. The tomatoes have taken the longest to flower and ripen, but they have continued to produce well into October. It has been satisfying to see the fruits of our labor (literally!) and be able to incorporate them into our diet. I've found that there really is nothing better than biting into a fresh tomato picked right off the vine. Next year, we hope to grow corn!

Do you have a garden? Is it an urban garden? What are favorite things to grow?
(All photos taken by Sobrina from Quiet Like Horses)
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ali Cakes

I am lucky enough to say that my good friend Alison is a professional baker. She has a personal buttercream frosting recipe that melts in your mouth, and I am always amazed by the edible treats she creates.  Last weekend she created some beautiful cakes for our friend's wedding shower. How beautiful is that ruffled cake?!

Alison is the founder and owner of Alison LeClair Cakes, she specializes in fondant, and you can see  more of her work on her Facebook page, here. Make sure to stop by and check her out!
(Photos: Alison LeClair)
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Thing About Cheese

I love cheese. Last week I ate two slices of gouda from the fridge at work; I didn't think about sharing with anyone else, I just dove right in. I even talked my Content crew into throwing a New Year's (stinky) Cheese party last January. Yes, it was stinky and a little gross, but an experience we will never forget.

I love the aroma, although sometimes stinky, it is somehow comforting to me. It reminds me of rainy days in the winter, and outdoor barbecues in the summer. My friend Andrew (the opposite of a cheese-lover) is probably cringing with every sentence he reads. I would put it in salads, sandwiches, soups, you name it and I could include some flavor of cheese in any meal.

Do you have a favorite food staple? What is the craziest thing you have every put cheese in/on?
(Photos, clockwise from top left: Taken in France, Martha Stewart, taken in Napa, Martha Stewart)
Monday, October 24, 2011

Journey to the End of the Night

Recently, a friend told me about a street game called Journey to the End of the Night. It was created in 2006 by Ian Kizu-Blair, Sean Mahan and Sam Lavigne. Their goal was to design a game that puts players in the middle of a cinematic chase scene through a city at night. They were inspired by bike messenger alleycat races, urban exploration, capture the flag, parkour, and, of course, tag.

The object of the game is to reach specific check-points, and eventually the finish line, without being caught by a "chaser". If you are tagged before you can reach a safe zone, you then become a "chaser" yourself. The goal is to be the first to reach the finish line safely.

Today, they have had over 5,000 players worldwide and continue to assist people in organizing games within their own cities. The game is open to everyone and the creators began organizing the event in hopes that players would gain a better appreciation for the city they are playing in.

Have you ever participated in Journey to the End of the Night? If not, would you participate if it came to your city?
(Photos: one two three)
Friday, October 21, 2011

Have an Inspired Weekend!

Yesterday was a long, tiring day for me, and the lack of energy left me feeling uninspired. I had trouble writing, creating new material, or even looking at my favorite blogs. Usually, when I'm feeling this way, I'll peruse Pinterest or my favorite blogs to draw upon other's creativity. Some times, I just need a break. That is what happened to me yesterday. I needed time away from my computer so that when I did come back I had a fresh set of eyes.

My schedule is forcing me to continue this break (funny how it works out like that). This afternoon I'll be heading to Arizona for my best friend's sister's wedding. I'm thrilled about the trip not only because weddings are a blast, but also because it will be a full-blown ladies weekend (plus my friend Perry). I'm going to set aside my feelings of responsibility and not even think about my homework until I get back on Sunday (I wonder if Monday's post will be about stress :).

Where do you go for inspiration? Do you ever completely unplug?
(Photos courtesy of: Cannelle et Vanille and Martha Stewart)
Thursday, October 20, 2011

Harvest Issue 3.3

I am very excited to announce that Harvest Issue 3.3 for Content magazine has launched! There is a ton of hard work and energy that goes into publishing each issue of the magazine, and I am so proud to be a part of the process.

Be sure to click on the issue below and let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Guessing Game

Can you guess what the below picture is and where it is from?

First person to guess correctly wins! Good luck!

*Update: The correct answer is the Millennium Bean in Millennium Park in Chicago! Congrats to our winner, Autumn who was able to get her answer in first. Thanks to all who played!
Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Big Decisions

Have you ever thought reaching a milestone would somehow make life less complicated? I know it sounds a bit foolish, but I really thought getting my Bachelors Degree would somehow make life less complicated. As you might have guessed, this has not been the case. I don't want to act as though my life is overly-complicated, but there are still big decisions to be made. My life is full of fun things, but I worry that I am getting to the point where I may need to scale back one or two of them.

I started a Graduate Program in August and I have been struggling with whether or not it is a path I want to continue to pursue. Logically, it makes sense. It will only benefit me in the future, it is only three years when compared to the entirety of my life, and I really enjoy my in-class discussions. However, I have been struggling with the balance of my school work, work work, and creative outlets. I definitely cannot stop working, I like my job, and it's great experience. I can't imagine giving up my creative outlets (i.e. Content magazine and my blog) because they are what make me excited and they help me stay sane. This leaves me questioning the only commitment left: Grad school.

So, how do you come to a resolution on big decisions? Do you have a go-to process in place? I'd love to hear your insights.
Monday, October 17, 2011

Hello, Monday

Did Monday surprise anyone else out there? I feel like Friday just ended and I'm not completely sure where Saturday and Sunday went! Did you have a good weekend?

Robbie and I had the opportunity to have lunch with some good friends from out-of-town and catch up with my parents for a bit. Not to mention the Pumpkin Carving Dance Party! we went to on Friday. Robbie was able to show off his mad DJ skills (DJ Rob is now what he is appropriately being called) and I met some new friends from Norway, Germany, and Austria.

What did you do over the weekend? When was the last time you went to a dance party?
(Photo thanks to Emily Yan via Pinterest)
Friday, October 14, 2011

Travel Week Wrap Up

Now that you've seen some of the places I've travelled, I want to introduce you to a couple of unique travel stories and some helpful resources.

Life After Cubes (LAC)
Life After Cubes is the story of Sharon and Jason, a California couple who decided that they needed a change after spending five years in a cubicle. They bought a one-way ticket to Hong Kong and travelled for an entire year! I love their story because they turned their back on what society thought was best and pursued their passions. It's an inspiring story that will make you want to buy a one-way ticket as soon as you are done reading about their adventures.

You can read their full story and follow their blog here.

Two Wheels and One World
Two Wheels and One World is a blog dedicated to the journey of Nathan and Greg, two men traveling the world on motorcycles. These two are much more about how they travel to their destination, rather than the destination itself. It is such a unique perspective and they get to see so much more of a country, its landscape, and its people than individuals who travel by air or plane.

You can keep up with their adventures here.

Rick Steves
As I have mentioned earlier, I love Rick Steves (I even wrote him a love letter)! He has a great personality and continues to share his love of travel with the world. In addition to his awesome videos, his website boasts access for all of your travel needs. He sells great resources ranging from guidebooks to backpacks to rail passes. Based on experience, his guidebooks provide great information and insight. If you are unsure about a trip, stop by his website and explore information on various destinations; it'll give you a great idea of what to check out.

You can explore his website here and follow his current travel adventures here.
Travelzoo is the website where we bought an AMAZING package to Ireland. They have great deals throughout the week, but the real action happens when the Travelzoo Top 20 is released each Wednesday. Travelzooers have researched the 20 best deals around the web and provide their readers with access to the links. If you are feeling a bit uncomfortable with the idea of buying a travel package online, check out the website for a few weeks. This will give you a better idea of the types of deals they offer and which you would be most interested in. I completely recommend their services and plan on using them in the future. Check out this week's Top 20 here.

I hope you enjoyed Travel Week as much as I did! It was fun to revisit pictures, travel journals, and letters I sent family members. I hope you are able to set out on your own adventure soon. Happy Travels!

p.s. Did I miss anything? Is there something you would like to be sure to see the next time?
(Photos courtesy of LAC, Rick Steves, and TwoWheelsOneWorld)
Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ireland - 2011

Although Robbie and I went on some amazing U.S. Adventures in 2010, I was definitely feeling a craving for international travel. Lucky for me, Travelzoo was offering an AMAZING deal to visit Ireland in early spring (if you've never been to Travelzoo, I recommend heading over as soon as you're done here :). The package included two nights in Dublin, six nights at the Adare Manor, and a rental car. So, we convinced our roommates, Jesse and Sarah, to come with us and bought tickets to head to the land of green hills and grey skies!

We landed in Dublin in the early morning hours and were able to watch the sun come up. After we left the airport, we got in our rental car and that's when the chaos ensued (note the Irish drive on the right side of the vehicle and left side of the road)! Robbie was brave enough to go first and screamed alongside of us as we thought we were running into oncoming cars (as documented in the video below). Not to mention the fact that we couldn't find the reverse gear on the shifter and had to make sure we had enough space for full circles for the first 20 minutes.

Even though we had some car trouble at first, that didn't stop us from exploring the city. Dublin is a super cool city with lots of color on it's buildings, doors, and landscape. We walked all over the city that first day. It was fun to stumble upon unique neighborhoods, and find the major districts that Robbie had researched beforehand. The second day, we joined a free walking tour through a group called "New Europe". It was such a smart move. We saw so many sites and learned so much history, and it was all free! Bonus: the guides are usually stage actors who lead tours as a way to practice their performance skills. In other words, the storytelling is amazing.

After we left Dublin, we made west toward the west coast. We spent the next six nights in a small village called Adare. This would act as a home base for the remainder of our exploring. The west side of Ireland is much more "country". There are rolling green hills, tons of sheep, and cute towns and villages all along the way. One day, we drove to a place called the Dingle Pennisula. It is a coastal community with a quaint village, colorful boats, and tiny beaches. I really enjoyed Dingle, but was bummed because we happened to go on a Sunday, so many of the businesses were closed.

The next day, we went to the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs are 750-900 ft. high and drop off into the Atlantic Ocean. We all got a little rebellious and crossed over the boundary lines to get better views. I know what is coming when I say this, but there were a ton of other people doing it. Robbie and Jesse decided to go a little bit further and put their heads over the edge. I felt queasy at the thought of becoming a widow and urged them to get back. It was the ultimate trying experience for my fear of heights.

We also decided to drive to the second largest city in Ireland, Galway. Galway has small streets, lots of shopping, a river running through it, and buildings that were shorter than I expected. The architecture was really cool and the people seemed to be creative with the space they had. We found an interesting tattoo shop and Sarah joked about all of us getting matching Irish tattoos. On our way home from Galway, we stopped at a place called "The Burren". It is a barren landscape with beautiful rock formations. The rock was huge and made me feel small in comparison.

Our next big adventure included a trip around The Ring of Kerry, and it is just that: a ring around the county Kerry. Based on Rick Steves' guidebook, we drove the ring counter clockwise so that we wouldn't get caught behind tour buses and lots of traffic. It was a long day in the car, but there were beautiful stops to see and places to explore.

Overall, the trip was so much more than I was hoping for. The weather was much better than I expected it to be in March. It drizzled a bit at night, but we didn't get our first "Irish rain" until halfway through the trip. Most places were foggy from the evening into the late morning, otherwise it was sunny and beautiful. Although it was sunny, we found ourselves wearing jackets and scarves because the wind would cut right through our sweaters, and it was definitely a cold wind. Robbie and I were surprised by how good the food was, because we were expecting boring, bland Irish food. Luckily, that was not the case!

I appreciated this trip in more ways than one. I love being able to explore the world and see different cultures. This was an obvious benefit, but this trip held a much deeper meaning for me. I have been very fortunate in my travels, but once I started working in a corporate environment, I was worried that I would have to sacrifice these passions. I was afraid I wouldn't have the opportunity to see anymore of the world, and this helped me to see that I was wrong. This trip helped me understand that my job isn't holding me back from going on another adventure, and I am grateful for that.

  • Brie cheese is used in sandwiches and melts all over the place and it is delicious! 
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful nature of the country and its people. I never felt rushed, stressed, or out of place. Even the security team at the airport was friendly!
  • I loved eating dinner at local pubs, especially in smaller towns and villages. Its cozy and it really helped me to feel more like a local. 
  • Go on the Guinness Factory tour in Dublin. The tour can run about 15 euro, but is worth every penny if you are curious as to why Guinness has a different taste depending on the distance it needs to travel (or just want to know how beer is made). Plus, if you take the self-guided tour, you can enjoy a free pint while seeing the only 360 degree view from the highest point in all of Dublin. 
  • If your flight arrives in the early morning hours, do your best to stay awake and go on the New Dublin walking tour. It provides such great insight into the city's history. Bonus: knowing more about the city will help you decide where you want to spend your time and focus your energy. 
  • If you have a question, ask! We found the Irish people to be friendly and eager to help.

Have you been to Ireland? Would you walk out onto the cliffs to get a better view of the edge?
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

U.S. Adventures - 2010

2010 did not hold any international travel for Robbie and I. However, we did manage to go on some fun trips within the States. Our first stop, Chicago.

Ok, so we technically went to Chicago at the end of 2009, but I decided to include it in this post. Some of our best friends, Brent and Sarah, moved to Chicago in the summer of 2009 for Brent to attend graduate school. We hadn't seen them for a couple months and we were thrilled with the opportunity to get out there. We traveled with our friends Jon and Sarah (a different one; I have multiple Sarahs in my life). Our original flight was delayed by an hour, then two, then eight! We couldn't believe what we were hearing. We hopped in a cab, drove 60 miles north to the next airport and were able to get a flight out within a reasonable amount of time.

Once there, they showed us around their town, took us to a local park full of changing colors, and guided us on a tour of Chicago. We had so much fun! We walked all over the city, took the L train, and even caught a David Bazan concert in Lincoln Park. Bonus: we ate dinner at a delicious pizza place in the heart of Chicago called Pizzeria Due.

In January of 2010, my dad was still living on the island of Maui.  We went on an amazing ten day winter trip, which included snorkeling on my birthday! This is one of my favorite trips because I was starting a full-time internship the week after we got back. I was able to truly relax without worrying about work responsibilities.

During our trip, we watched the sunrise on the top of Haleakala, snorkeled with sea turtles, and drove around the entire island. Since my dad lived on the island for almost six years, I stopped doing the "touristy" activities years ago. If you can gain insight from a local, or someone who has family living there, I definitely recommend that. They know where to go for the best food at the best prices (i.e. the Big Wave Cafe in Kihei) and how to avoid large crowds. If you're headed to the island soon, I'd be more than happy to give you my recommendations, just let me know!

Half Moon Bay
In July, Robbie and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary in Half Moon Bay. Neither of us had ever been to Half Moon Bay (HMB), so we were excited to experience a new environment. One of my co-workers, Eliana, has family that owns a restaurant right in the middle of downtown called It's Italia!, and she recommended that we stay at the Half Moon Bay Inn. Both were perfect choices. We stayed there over the Fourth of July weekend and watched the local parade from our hotel room. The weather, the weekend, and the company was fabulous!

  • Visiting Chicago in Autumn was wonderful. The weather was cool, but not freezing and we were able to be right in the middle of seasons changing. I definitely recommend this time of year.
  • In Maui, watching the clouds pass over the ocean and above a volcano; the temperature was 81 degrees in January and I could smell the flowers in the air. It was quiet and peaceful, and it was one of the best birthdays I have ever had.
  • If you purchase an all day pass to public transportation, make sure to fully utilize it. We really enjoyed walking around the city, but we could have seen so much more if we utilized our passes more effectively.
  • If you are on Maui, be sure to check out Big Beach. It is located in South Maui, it never really gets too crowded, and the waves are perfect for either bobbing or body surfing.
  • Paia is another great little town to check out on Maui. It is on the Road to Hana, and be sure to check out Milagros Food Co. for some delicious fish tacos!
  • The Half Moon Bay Inn allows dogs to stay in the hotel as well, so feel free to bring your pup if you're up for it. 
What are your favorite U.S. cities? Is there a destination you are dying to get to?
Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Europe - 2009 Pt.2

France was stunning. The people were beautiful, the food was yummy, and it just felt wonderful. We hit up all the usual spots: the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees, and the Louvre. Robbie and I slept with our windows open and drove in the craziest taxi ride I've ever been in (and I've played chicken in a cab in Africa)! Bonus: we happened to be in Paris for the final stage of the Tour de France, so we waited for hours and were able to see the cyclists ride the loop on the Chaps-Elysees 14 times!

We disembarked from Paris on a small river cruise. It was a great contrast to the mega-cruise we had previously been on, although, there were probably only 8 of us under the age of 50. On more than one occasion, I sat on the roof deck, soaked up the sun, and watched the beautiful French countryside float by. It was peaceful.

We finished up our adventure in England. We were surprised to find that London had been experiencing quite a rainy summer, so the weather was cooler than expected. We learned that all museums are subsidized by the government and free to the public, so we made sure to hit these up first. We also learned that Britain had not yet converted to the Euro (they were still using the pound) as their official currency, so items were priced higher than the rest of the European Union, and even higher than the States. Robbie and I spent a morning exploring Piccadilly Circus, an afternoon reading in Hyde Park, and an evening in Notting Hill. Actually, our last night was spent at a small restaurant in Notting Hill, escaping the pouring rain and making friends with a waitress who was preparing to set out on her own travel adventure in Spain. It was the most "local" I felt and I hope I hold onto that feeling for as long as possible.

  • The best thing about Rome is that you can get lost in the city, yet still stumble upon beautiful landmarks. While Robbie and I wandered around, we found the Fountain di Trevi, ancient ruins, and the Parliamentary building.
  • Eating pastries in a sidewalk cafe in Paris, while a thunderstorm passed overhead, made me feel so sophisticated and fancy.
  • I love the history each city holds. There is always a back story and each place seems to have the most of something, or was the headquarters of an empire at some point in their history!
  • Florence is labeled as Firenzi on all train tickets in Italy. Be aware of this so that you are sure to board the correct train.
  • If a public restroom looks exceptionally nice, beware. You may have to pay to use it. I learned this the hard way in Croatia when the attendant wouldn't let me leave until Robbie ran to an ATM machine to pull out local currency.
  • If you want to rent bikes form Paris' awesome rental system, check out the advice Oh Happy Day provides here.
  • If you are traveling to multiple countries that do not have your native tongue as their primary language, end with a country that does. By the end of our trip, we were so excited to be able to not have to think of that aspect of communication and getting around.

During this trip, I really fell in love with travel and realized it is something I will be doing throughout my life. Seeing different cultures, experiencing such great food, and taking time to walk around and enjoy the beautiful surroundings was amazing. It stirred an appreciation in me that I continue to hold onto today.

What do you recommend to first-time international travelers? Is there a place you just wouldn't go? I'd love to hear!

Europe - 2009 Pt.1

In the summer of 2009, my husband’s family and I went to Europe for 6 weeks. We landed in Rome and didn’t look back. Here is where we went: Italy, Croatia, Italy (again), Spain, France, and England.

Rome was my first experience in Europe. I had never been to any European countries, so my imagination was the only frame of reference I had. Luckily, Rome far exceeded all of my expectations or imagination. Within 45 minutes of checking into our hotel, there was an amazing thunder storm that drenched the city. After that, the weather was beautiful. We would wander around all morning, grab lunch, take a snoozer, and then continue walking well into the evening. From Rome, we travelled by train to Florence. Florence (aka Firenzi) is a city that feels small because of the tall buildings and narrow streets. Next up, we took another train to Venice. Walking out of the Venetian train station made me feel like I was in a movie! The sun was glistening on the water and beautiful flowers were flowing out of resident's windows. Robbie and I splurged on a ridiculously expensive dinner to celebrate our anniversary and were the most lost we've ever been trying to navigate through their narrow passageways.

From Venice, we set out on a cruise ship and our first stop was Croatia. Since we only had one day in port, Robbie and I set out early. We walked around town a bit, ate some yummy pizza for lunch, and visited a unique little music store. We headed into the mountains for a hike and found a weird "zoo" fulled with guinea pigs, frogs, baby brown bears, and a wolf. It felt as though it was how zoos in the States would have been 50 years ago. It was very bizarre. Before we boarded the ship, we visited a farmer's market and bought some fresh flowers for our cabin. 

Our ship brought us back to Italy, which was great because we were able to visit a part of the country we couldn't get to the first time around. While in Naples, Robbie and I climbed Mt. Vesuvius and were able to see all of Naples. After our hike, we explored the city of Pompeii. Oh my goodness, my history geek come out in full swing in Pompeii. It was absolutely incredible! To see how people lived and then to image that they were completely covered by ash was unbelievable. I was intrigued and saddened at the same time. Next, we hit up the Vatican City with a guided tour. If you are going to visit the smallest country in the world, do it worth a tour guide. Trust me, it is worth it. After the Vatican, we landed in Pisa to see the leaning tower. Unfortunately, this is pretty much the only real attraction. You don't need more than a day because the small town is completely centered on the tower.

Spain was our final destination on our mega cruise. I have mixed feelings about Spain because it's culture and people are amazing, but it took all of my photos leading up to this point. That's right, after we left Barcelona we had all of our photos stolen and I was left completely heartbroken. But there is nothing that can be done about it now, so let's talk about the positive parts! In order to do Barcelona right, take a nap! You will need enough energy to last into the wee hours of the morning. Most clubs and restaurants don't really get going until midnight. Bonus: Robbie and I were there when Barcelona FC captured a major victory and we witnessed an impromptu victory parade as it went past our hotel room. After Barcelona, we spent a couple of days in Cadiz in the south of Spain. Robbie's brother had studied there for about a month a few years earlier, so he was able to show us around to some of his favorite spots.

Have you visited any of the above places? Any recommendations on what to bring?
Monday, October 10, 2011

Africa - 2008

In July 2008, Robbie and I travelled to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We have friends that work at an international school in Dar, so a group of us went and hosted their high school and elementary aged summer camps. Our trip lasted three weeks, so we were able to visit different parts of the city and go on a safari in between the camps. Added bonus: I experienced the Tanzanian health care system because Robbie broke his arm while we were there!
Being in Tanzania really made me feel small. It opened my eyes to just how big the world is and how many people are on this earth. The people were extremely friendly and warm and the landscape was immense. Since Tanzania is in the Southern Hemisphere we went during their winter, yet the weather could not be more perfect. As we exited the airport, I instantly felt like we had landed in Hawaii. There was a sweetness in the air, and a cool breeze waving through the trees. I can count the number of times I wore a sweater on one hand. 
The irony...
One of the three weeks of our trip was spent along the coast at a place called Bamba Beach, where we held the high school summer camp. I loved it because it showcased Dar es Salaam's raw beauty. The ocean's tides would change dramatically, the windows only had screens, and the plumbing was not anywhere near "western" standards!
This was my shower
  • Safari. Going on a safari is hard to describe because the feeling is surreal. The animals are amazing and the landscape is beautiful. I remember sitting on the roof of our jeep, watching the sunrise and thinking, "This is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I am discovering the world and this is exactly where I'm supposed to be".
  • The Indian Ocean. I love diving into a warm ocean and the Indian Ocean was just that. It was wonderful. Side note: there were hundreds of tiny jellyfish swimming among us, stinging our legs as we moved through them. It felt like razor burn.
  • Be smart while traveling. Don't let fear hinder you from experiencing the local culture, but don't completely ignore concerns either.
  • Respect cultural norms. While on our trip, I learned that a woman's bare legs and thighs in Tanzania are the equivalent of a woman's bare breasts in the States, so long skirts were a staple. Also, it is unusual for men to expose their legs by wearing shorts.  
  • If you barter the price of an item down, it is a courtesy to purchase it at that point. If you walk away, it is considered rude and disrespectful.  
  • Alcohol of any kind is looked at very differently than in the States. According to our hosts, drinking alcohol in Dar is for those that are lazy, and not contributing to society.
  • Try different kinds of food. This is a great way to experience a new culture and most of the time it is delicious! 
Outdoor food market
The Crew

Have you ever travelled to Africa? What were your favorite parts? Do you have any recommendations?
(All photos taken in Tanzania in 2008. Special thanks to Patty, Sarah K, and Sarah H!)

Travel Week!

I am excited to announce that this week's posts will be dedicated specifically to travel. Traveling is something that I am passionate about and would love to do more frequently.

As we go through this week, here are a few things to take note of:
  • There will be a "Favorites" section dedicated to my favorite spots, activities, or experiences in each destination. 
  • I will also be including tips specific to each destination. 
  • The United States of America will often be referred to as, "The States". 
  • All photos will be my own, unless otherwise noted. 

Also, here are some universal travel tips that I feel apply to almost every destination:
  • Flexibility is crucial. If you are not flexible, you will not enjoy your experience. When living out of a suitcase, or relying on government-run transportation, unexpected situations are bound to come up. Run with them so that you don't pull your hair out trying to stay on point with your itinerary. 
  • Bring more money than you think you will need, especially if you are heading to Europe. I always seem to underestimate the amount I will need and end up having to pull out extra funds while I'm there (and pay some hefty transaction fees). 
  • Be respectful of cultural differences, and be aware of your surroundings. 
  • Pack light. This really benefits you, since you will have to be lugging your stuff around.

The first post will be up in just a little bit, so I hope you make it back. Enjoy! 

(Photos taken in Ireland, 2011)
Friday, October 7, 2011

Happy Friday Everyone!


Since I have had class on Monday and Thursday nights I have gotten these two weekdays confused in my mind. For the last 4 weeks I have been switching them, and I even brought the wrong book to class because I was preparing for the wrong day! Monday is a tough day to mix up because I have to remind myself on Tuesday morning that it's not actually Friday, whereas when I mix up Thursday, it's such a happy surprise to know that I have the entire weekend ahead of me.

Since I was cooped up all last weekend, I am going to take some time for myself this weekend. Robbie and I are planning on going on a hike in Aptos and I'll be working on a theme week that will start here on Monday! I'm very excited about it, so you'll have to make sure you stop by.

Any fun plans this weekend? What is your favorite part of the weekend?
(Photo taken in Castle Rock Park, CA)
Thursday, October 6, 2011

Beer Gardens


Beer gardens are open-air areas where beer is served. Usually, food is available, but guests are also encouraged to pack their own meals and picnic at the tables with their fellow gardeners. I don't actually like beer, but I do like the arrangement and atmosphere of beer gardens. Who wouldn't enjoy hanging out with friends on a great summer afternoon, enjoying a nice beverage and meal? I know I would.

Have you been to a beer garden? What was your experience? Any recommendations of where to go and what to get?
Photos: one two three
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