Thursday, January 31, 2013

for Sigve


In 2008 I was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad for 6 weeks in Norway. And although my time there was short it was a major life changing time for me and, I think, shaped me into the person I am today. I have one man to thank for this, my Norwegian professor Sigve. He came into my Engineering Economics class and gave a presentation on an opportunity for engineers to study International Marketing and Advertising for 6 weeks in Norway. He told us about the town and what there was to see and learn. At that moment I knew that this was something I had to do. As a result of this experience I made strong connections with people that will forever be my friends. He took some of us out to dinner, let us hang out at his house and took us golfing on a beautiful lake. 

I learned today that our professor has passed away. Everyone from our class was touch by all he taught us in and outside of the class room. To a good man, skål!

May you rest in peace

Sigve, Sevil, Jack

Kyle, Sigve, Scott, Ryan

our class

Norway

An Idiot Abroad


An Idiot Abroad is a British travel documentary show that follows Karl Pilkington around the world. Karl is a friend of comedian Ricky Gervais and An Idiot Abroad is a creation of Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The show is AMAZING! I love it! And right now it's in its 3rd season, which is only 3 episodes long :(

Season One: Seven Wonders of the World
The first season we followed Karl to seven wonders of the world; The Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, Petra in Jordan, Chichen Itza in Mexico, the Great Pyramids in Egypt, Christ the Redeemer in Barzil, and Machu Picchu in Peru. My favorite episode from this season was when he traveled to India and participated in their spring festival Holi. Everyone would throw colored powder and yell, "HAPPY HOLI!!!" (Similar to the color runs they have here in the states).


Season Two: The Bucket List
Season two Karl was to travel to places that were on other people bucket lists. He spent the night on a deserted island, traveled the Trans-Siberian Express, swam with sharks (they told him dolphins), went whale watching in Alaska on a fishing boat (versus the normal cruise), hung out with wild gorillas in Africa, traveled along Route 66 in the United States, and climbed Mount Fuji in Japan (the coolest one, what a site to see! And even Karl admits that. Here is where he created the Pilkington Pants!)

Season Three: The Short Way Round
In season three Ricky enlisted the help of his friend Warwick Davis, you may know Warwick from Harry Potter, Willow, and Gervais' Life's Too Short. Here the two traveled from Venice, Italy to China loosely following the same route that Marco Polo traveled. The thing I loved about this season was that Warwick was there to make sure Karl really experienced the travels and Karl fights him all the way, they both end up having a great time!

Tune into the Science channel to watch An Idiot Abroad here in the states. 

Do any of these place interest you? Let me know in a comment! 


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Under Bite: The Tail of Two Bulldogs

I would like to introduce y'all to the two 4-legged loves of my life, Lola and Coco. This is my new series, Under Bite: The Tail (or lack there of in their case) of Two Bulldogs.

This is Lola, she will be 4 years old this year and stole my heart 100% the day we got her. She is my baby and I will do ANYTHING for her (and I truly mean that!). She has a heart condition and went under the knife in 2012 but we figured out there was nothing that could be done. She is on meds and staying healthy! Because of her condition I really baby her, she is a spoiled princess and gets what she wants when she asks for it (ruff, ruff!). I don't think I will ever love a dog the way I love Lola, to quote Sweet Home Alabama here, "I gave away my heart a long time ago, my whole heart, and I never really got it back."


Coco is our wild card, she is an Old English Bulldog and therefore a little taller then Lola and not as stout. She is still very much a puppy and keeps us entertained by jumping on the furniture and on us. I call her my parkour dog because it seems like nothing gets in her way, she'll just jump over it!


So, these are my pups! I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I do!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Zip Cars


I have made it known that I love to plan trips. I like to see how much it would cost to go to say Chicago or Boston on a weekend. I'll look at flights, car rentals and hotels. Out of those 3 things the car rentals always make me go over budget (although, those two cities above have decent public transportation). Then I stumbled upon Zip Car.

Zip Car is a car rental company (just purchased by Avis) that allows you to rent the car by the hour (or the day if you need it). I really like the idea of this! That way, if you're in Chicago and want to take a lake side drive to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore renting a car for 5 hours and only paying maybe $40 versus the $70 a day (and having to pay for parking at your hotel (which can run well over $40 a night!)). I think this is great for companies that have employees that travel a lot or if you just travel a lot and need a car for a few hours and don’t want to pay for a cab or hotel parking. Looking at their maps they seem to have cars scattered all over cities.

Here are Zip Cars stats:

Over 30 models to choose from

Fees:
Occasional Driving
Application fee (one time)       $25
Yearly fee                                $60
Driving rates (start at)              $8/hr and $74/day

Extra Value
Application fee (one time)       $25
Yearly fee                                $600 ($50/month = 8hrs of prepaid driving per month)
Driving rates (start at)              $7.20/hr and $66.60/day

Cities Outside the US
British Columbia - Vancouver
Ontario - Toronto
Spain - Barcelona
United Kingdom -London, Bristol, Oxford, Maidstone, Cambridge

United States (37) See their list here.



*I did not recieve compensation from Zip Car for posting this blog. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Most Safe and Unsafe Airlines of 2012


Looks like the flying safety record is improving over the years (with all the technology it better be!). In 2012 flying was less deadly than any other years since 1945. And who better to publish the annual airline safety ranking then the JetAirliner Crash Data Evaluation Center.

The ratings take into account:
·      number of the hull losses (destroyed airplanes) they have suffered in the past 30 years
·      how they have fared more recently
·      how many flights they have flown without incident

Their results don’t take into consideration the cause of the hull losses, or whether the airline is at fault…so is it an accurate representation of safety? Maybe.

Here are the top 10 unsafe airlines in the world…you have been warned!

1 - China Airlines: 8 hull losses; 755 dead
2 - TAM Airlines: 6 hull losses; 336 dead
3 - Air India: 3 hull losses; 329 dead
4 - GOL Transportes Aéreos: 1 hull loss; 154 dead
5 - Korean Air: 9 hull losses; 687 dead
6 - Saudia: 4 hull losses; 310 dead
7 - Turkish Airlines: 6 hull losses, 188 dead
8 - Thai Airways International: 5 hull losses; 309 dead
9 - South African Airways: 1 hull loss; 159 dead
10 - SkyWest Airlines: 3 hull losses; 22 dead

And to make you feel better, here are the top 10 safest airlines:

1 - FinnAir
2 - Air New Zealand
3 - Cathay Pacific Airways
4 - Emirates
5 - Etihad Airways
6 - Eva Air
7 - Tap Portugal
8 - Hainan Airlines
9 - Virgin Australia
10 - British Airways

See the original article here.


Monday, January 21, 2013

25 Places to Take Your Kids


I saw this post on pinterest and then it took me to the article and I loved it! Especially since my husband and I talk about how we want to take our kids (when we have them) to the places they are learning about in school. Some of these I want to go to myself without kids! Also, some of these can be combined to make some awesome road trips with the family, like Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone! The ones in purple are the palaces I have been to.

1. Mount Rushmore National Memorial – South Dakota
2. Smithsonian – Washington DC
3. Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona
4. Appomattox, Virginia (the Appomattox Court House) – Virginia
5. Empire State Building – New York
6. Niagara Falls State Park – New York (maybe a pit stop in Canada too!)
7. The Freedom Trail – Massachusetts
8. The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York
9. Statue of Liberty – New York
10. The Golden Gate Bridge - California
11. Four Corners – Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico
12. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve - Alaska
13. Liberty Bell – Pennsylvania
14. Gettysburg – Pennsylvania
15. Hoover Dam – Nevada, Arizona
16. Kennedy Space Center – Florida
17. World Trade Center Site – New York
18. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – Washington DC
19. Newport Mansions – Rhode Island
20. Great Salt Lake – Utah
21. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Hawaii, Island of Hawaii (aka the Big Island)
22. Hollywood – California
23. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site – Georgia
24. Yellowstone – Wyoming
25. The Great Lakes – Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Indian, New York

Where are some places you've visited with your kids?


Friday, January 18, 2013

Pinspiration

Happy Friday y'all! Today I'm going to share with you one of my pinterest projects. I know a lot of people spend copious amounts of time on pinterest (I'm guilty!). And although I don't have enough time to do/try everything I pin I have been able to try a few and I want to share them with you!

The project I am going to share with you today is our bathroom basket storage. We live in a 1600 sq foot house and the space isn't organized in the best way (thanks crappy designer/architect!). For example, there is no linen closet for the master bed/bath. First we bought one of these things from Bed, Bath and Beyond. 
<-------
It didn't really work out, we had to put it on blocks to make it taller and our towels didn't fit in it either and it was really wobbly. It was like this for a while and then in 2011 my mother-in-law showed me pinterest...heaven!...I started pining things like crazy and then I saw someone had taken a basket and screwed the bottom to the wall to make some storage for their towels. Genius! So we went to Target and bought some baskets (laying them on the floor to find a pattern and sizes we liked before we bought). We also bought some washers to help anchor the baskets to the wall (I spray painted them brown). And after everything was said and done we ended up with this! Pinterest WIN!!!   


Hope you find pinterest just was inspiring! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

See it Before It's too Late


Good day all! I hope you are having an amazing Wednesday! Before I get to my actual blog post I wanted to share with you what I came home to last night...

burned through the 4x4 post too!
That’s right; my neighbor burned part of our fence down! Said they were burning trash! If this had been during our super hot summers here in Houston, TX it would have spread and no doubt burned our house down! All I could think of was this picture that I saw on Pinterest not too long ago.


Okay, enough venting back to the blog…

As this world ages and we (humans) spend more time on it, its natural wonders start to come to an end. I think it's really important that we get to see these things before it's too late. For example, Glacier National Park won't have any more glaciers in it by 2020! I feel like that’s something that needs to be seen before it's too late! I tried looking into visiting but the rental cars up there are expensive! But not to worry, the name of the park won't change since glaciers are responsible for carving the mountains. I would love to visit the park this year! I'll keep you posted if we do.

Another landmark that actually did disappear last week was a famous arch at Tennessee Beach in San Francisco. Robert Wills was lucky enough to catch the entire thing on camera. Read the full article and see more pictures here.

photo by Robert Wills
Something else that is disappearing in Boonville, CA is their language. That’s right, they have their own language called Boontling and its been around for about 150 years. After watching the video and hearing the jibber jabber they tell you that it all started because some ladies didn’t want another lady to know they were talking about her. And it just kind of caught on! They even taught it in school! Watch the video and hear Boontling here.




Saturday, January 12, 2013

Osprey Customer Care

We bought our hiking equipment for our trip to Hawaii back in July or August of 2012, when we got to Hawaii in November and hit the trail we realized that our Osprey Hydraform Reservoir was leaking! But we couldn't figure out from where. - We did clean it before we left but the leak was so slow we didn't see it.

After we got back and after all the hustle from the holidays had calmed down I emailed Osprey's customer service. I gave them all the information they asked for and then got an email saying, "Your new reservoir is being shipped" AWESOME!!! All I had to do was mail the old one back! I was really impressed with their customer service and this makes me a happy customer of theirs! If you would like to purchase one, click the link below!

 



Osprey 3 Liter Hydraform Reservoir - Clear (Google Affiliate Ad)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Travel RoundUp

Good morning all! Hope you are having a great week. Here is the monthly Travel RoundUp to start your day!

1 - In 2012, JetBlue continued their growth in the Caribbean and Latin America with Cartagena, Samaná and Grand Cayman. In the U.S., they added Dallas/Fort Worth and Providence with service to Charleston, Albuquerque and Philadelphia launching this year. – Via their Facebook page

2 - News from Iceland… this young woman is fighting to have the name her mother gave her recognized as her legal name. And I think her name and its meaning is beautiful! Here is the article. Although I do think people naming their kids Hashtag is ridiculous and should not be allowed.

Update 1/31/13: They let her use her birth name!

3 - The London Zoo is taking their annual census of all their critters. Check out the picture, so cute!


4 - Check out this cool way to get your ski on in Bavaria, Germany. They repurposed the sand from an old mining quarry to make the 360 feet high mound you can ski down. Check out more pics here.


5 - This is awful! I would hate to have my luggage treated like this let alone this! A musicians 1965 Gibson ES-335 was destroyed by luggage handlers at a Detroit airport. Read the whole article and see pictures here.

6 - This is what will happen if you get drunk on a plane… Passengers took matters into their own hands when this guy was getting too unruly.  





Monday, January 7, 2013

Movie Reviews



So over the winter break I was able to catch up on seeing a few movies that I have been wanting to see. I saw This is 40, Silver Lining Playbook, Skyfall and The Impossible. I thought all of them were pretty good and worth seeing when you have time…maybe not in the theater but definitely worth a watch. Here are my thoughts…

This is 40
I really liked the idea of bringing the two supporting characters back from Knocked Up. But this movie ran a little long. I thought it was pretty funny but 2hrs and 15min!!! COME ON!!! My biggest complaint about the movie (spoiler alert???) was that part of the story was that they were having financial problems and talking about selling their house. But while they were doing this they were driving a BMW and a Lexus…how about you sell the dang cars first?!?! That just didn't make any since to me.

Silver Lining Playbook
I really liked this movie! I thought it was cute and funny and I love Jennifer Lawrence! I like that if you get down to the bottom line, the movie is about how your soul mate should even you out and make you better, in this case, make you not so crazy.

Skyfall
I thought it was good and action packed (like all James Bond movies)! I loved all the places they filmed too, Turkey, China, Japan, UK and Scotland. I am interested to see what is in store for Bond next!

The Impossible
The amazing true story of one family’s survival of the 2004 tsunami that took 230,000 people’s lives in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and 11 other counties. I really hope the actors get an Oscar for this, it was an amazing movie!

What movies have you seen lately?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2013 Goals/To Do List


So it looks like some blogs (the financial ones I read at least) have yearly goals that they set for themselves, some personal, financial and blog related. So I will do the same I suppose and do a quarterly update.

As you may have noticed I have been making some posts that aren't really travel related lately and I am tagging them as 'non-travel' I am doing this let you know a little more about me, my hobbies and life. Some might be projects I am doing around the house; others might be about a movie I saw over the weekend…who knows!

The Blog List
  • Reach 250 page views a month (I know that’s not a lot compared to some of you bigger bloggers out there) Nov '12-279 views-4 posts; Dec'12-325 views-11 posts (clearly the more posts I make the more views I get).
  • Start my new series, Extreme Travelers (monthly post)
  • Continue the Travel RoundUp series (monthly Post)
  • Let you get to know me on a new Pinspiration post. This will be where I can show you some of the small projects I work on around the house from ideas that I get from Pinterest.
  • Travel to one of these places this year: Chicago, Washington DC, or Niagara Falls
  • Use a Groupon Getaway --- (doubt this will happen)
  • Invest in my blog. I found this other Blog – here – and he will help you design your blog to your taste and linking instead of using the templates they provide you.
Personal
  • Lose weight (isn't that on everyone's list?) Between my 2011 and 2012 doctor visits I gained 8 pounds! UGH! I am on some medication that could be causing some of it but I'm not 100% sure. But I already took action and started Weight Watchers on 12/8/12 and have already lost 5 pounds! Go me! I am also getting back into running again and I am going to try really hard to make it to 2 abs classes a week verses my current 1 class a week. Goal is to be between 123 -125.
  • Read more, I'm 26 years old and the only "real" books I have read have been the Twilight series (don’t judge). Books that I had to read for school would literally go in one ear and out the other and I probably didn't read the whole thing either. Like The Great Gatsby is about to come out as a movie and I had to read it in high school but I could honestly say I really don’t know what it's about :-/ SO…my dad bought a book for me for Christmas and my goal is to read that.
  • Travel to one of these places this year: Chicago, Washington DC, or Niagara Falls
  • Take our baby pup, Coco, to Galveston to see how she likes the water
  • Save one entire paycheck! We need to save for a new house and our trip to Thailand!

Here is my super cheese GOAL picture!







Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Celebs on Holiday


Over the holidays MANY celebs took super nice vacations. Pretty much what this list tells you is if you want to see celebrities go to Hawaii or St. Barts. And I think Buzzfeed is using the word "Celebrity" loosly…see pics here. I’ll admit, I had to google about half these “celebrities” mainly because they aren’t that famous.

My comments are in purple :D 

St. Barts – 9
1.       Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi in St. Barts – Love this power couple!
2.       Russell Simmons in St. Barts
3.       Rachel Zoe in St. Barts – why are you a celebrity?
4.       Lily Cole in St. Barts
5.       Olivia Palermo and Joannes Huebl in St. Barts – why are you "famous" again?
6.       P Diddy in St. Barts
7.       Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum in St. Barts – Ah, Step Up love…I knew they had real chemistry!
8.       Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts with their boys in St. Barts – such a cute Hollywood family
9.       Guy Fieri in St. Barts – ewwww! Don’t want to see him in a bathing suit

Hawaii – 8
1.       Ashlee Simpson in Oahu – I secretly LOVE her music! ...not a secret any more I suppose 
2.       Milla Jovovich in Maui
3.       Pam Anderson in Maui – is anybody interested in her anymore?
4.       Tom Arnold in Maui
5.       Jude Law in Maui
6.       Alex Morgan in Maui
7.       Jeremy Jackson in Maui – So I had to look this guy up…he was in Baywatch…maybe him and Pam where there together?
8.       Jessica Simpson and Eric Johnson in Oahu – Man, he sure did find a good person to attach himself too

Barbados – 4
1.       Rihanna in Barbados – isn’t she from there? Does that count as a vacationing spot for her?
2.       Jodie Marsh in Barbados – Another one from across the pond
3.       Jamie Laing in Barbados – I think he is in a British TV show?
4.       Simon Cowell with his ex-wife in Barbados

Miami – 4
1.       Tom Felton with girlfriend Jade Olivia in Miami
2.       Pauly Shore in Miami – another I don’t want to see in bathing suit
3.       Frank Langella in Miami
4.       Donny Deutsch in Miami an ad exec and TV personality? Never heard of him

Cabo – 2
1.       Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theorux in Cabo
2.       John Krasinski and Jimmy Kimmel in Cabo

California – 2
1.       Heidi Klum and family in Santa Monica, California
2.       Shia LaBeouf with new girlfriend Mia Goth in Ventura, CA

Other
1.       Leonardo DiCaprio on a yacht in Sydney, Australia – LUCKY
2.       Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn in Aspen – The only couple to do winter things over the winter holiday





Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Extreme Travelers: Mileage Runs


So I have found a few articles lately about some pretty crazy things people are doing in the name of frequent flier miles. So I am starting an Extreme Traveler series. We're starting with Howie Rappaport who does 2-3  mileage runs a year to keep his elite status with his preferred airline. Read the article here. What is a mileage run you ask? People taking CRAZY long trips on airplanes just to keep your elite status. Rappaport would be flying from New York to Dallas, Dallas to LA, and LA to Maui where he would have a 90 minute layover and then fly right back. GOOD GOD MAN, at least stay one night in paradise while you're there! And he does this sort of thing all the time!

Does it pay off? It depends on how you look at it I suppose, he travels for work also so the elite status is helpful for him when checking in and boarding the plane. He and his wife also like to travel all over the world and like to fly first class, in the new year they will be taking first class trips to Thailand (jealous), Poland and Bali – only paying the small fees you have to pay when booking with points.

Just to give you an idea I was looking into seeing how many points we would need to take our trip to Thailand in 2014 and to fly First/Business class there and back would be about 620,000 points and about $160 in taxes and fees. HOLY MOLY!!! That’s a lot of points! So now we are doing everything we can to get bonus points. That includes enrolling in the mileage shopping and dining programs and taking advantage of any bonus offers they are promoting. Side note, if you were looking to purchase without using your miles it would be $2,600 for economy and $15,700 for First/Business class.

I have never had elite status so I don’t know how the other half lives (if you are or have been and elite member chime in down in the comments). Currently I am just over 50% to getting my elite status but I don’t think I'll be traveling in the next 6 months and I'm sure some of those "status points" will be expired by then…boo. :(

Happy New Year!


Happy Travels!

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