Saturday, March 30, 2013

First Quarter Goal Update


Can you believe that March is over?!?! Where has all the time gone? Remember when you were in elementary school and it seemed like it took FOREVER for summer break or any holiday. And now as an adult it just seems like time flies! Here is my quarterly 2013 Goals Update for ya!

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). Done
    • Jan - 513 views
    • Feb - 584 views
    • Mar - 494 views (3/30/13)
·   Start my new series, Extreme Travelers (monthly post) 3 down 9 to go
·   Continue the Travel RoundUp series (monthly Post) 3 down 9 to go
·   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. 3 down 9 to go - How do y'all like this addition? I also added UnderBite where I post pictures of my bulldogs once a month.
·   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. Done - How do you like the new layout?

Personal

{Tracking my weight!}

·   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. I took action and started Weight Watchers on 12/8/12, goal is to be between 123 -125. So far I am down 14 lbs and counting! I plan to stay on WW for 6 months I think and then just keep the habits on my own. We'll see. I seem to be at a standstill between 128-130 lbs which has always been my plateau so I am interested to see if WW can help me get over it.  (p.s. when I think about food now I think about how many points it has!)


{Weight Watchers!!!}

·   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. Haven't started yet and don’t see me doing this for a while…that part of our belongings is already packed up for our impending move.
·   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 We'll do this when it warms up just a bit more
·   Save one entire paycheck! We need to save for a new house and our trip to Thailand! Still keeping this up too!

How are your 2013 goals going?


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Quick Beach Getaways


We have had a few cold bites around here the past few days. First we almost hit a record high last week and now we're almost hitting record lows…wft Mother Nature!!! With these cold fronts moving through it definitely makes me think of the beach and Hawaii (and how their temperatures only fluctuate 10 degrees year around). So here are some quick beach destinations, enjoy!

Sint Maarten/St. Martin
Direct flight: American Airlines, New York (JFK) to St. Maarten (SXM) — 4 hours, 20 minutes.
Minutes from airport to beach: 10. Your plane will fly right over the clear turquoise waters and white sands of glistening Maho Beach.

Eleuthera, Bahamas
Direct flight: United Airlines, from Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) to North Eleuthera Airport (ELH) — 70 minutes.
Minutes from airport to beach: 15 or less, and the beaches between the airport and nearby Gregory Town are pristine.


{Eleuthera in the Bahamas. (Photo trishhartmann  Flickr)}
Providenciales (Provo), Turks & Caicos
Direct flight: Delta Airlines, Atlanta (ATL) to Provo (PLS)—3 hours, 5 minutes.
Minutes from airport to beach: 15 to Grace Bay.

Puerto Rico
Direct flight: JetBlue, from Washington DC (DCA) to San Juan (SJU)—3 hours, 45 minutes.
Minutes from airport to beach: 10, if you run.

{Isla Verde, Puerto Rico. (Photo cogito ergo imago - Flickr)}

Big Island, Hawaii
We love The Big Island for its geographically diverse and unspoiled land. The Kona-Kohala (western) side of the island is the sunny and contains some of the state’s top beaches: Hapuna and Mauna Kea (we stayed at Hapuna and loved it!). 
Sample direct flight: Alaska Airlines, Seattle (SEA) to Kona (KOA)—6 hours, 25 minutes.
Minutes from airport to beach: 20 or less to Kona’s coves, but the northern beaches are more impressive, about a 30-minute drive.

{Our trip in 2011}

Bermuda
Direct flight: United Airlines, Newark (EWR) to Hamilton (BDA)—2 hours, 10 minutes.
Minutes from airport to beach: 30, if you start with the best—Horseshoe Bay Beach and Elbow Beach.

Grand Cayman
Direct flight: Cayman Airlines, Miami (MIA) to Grand Cayman (GCM)—1 hour, 20 minutes.
Minutes from airport to beach: 15-20, to Seven Mile Beach.
Stay: The Ritz-Carlton sprawls across either side of the road that runs parallel to Seven Mile Beach, with the Residential Suites and swimming pool on the Caribbean side. A few hundred yards inland are the lobby, golf course, guest rooms, and Blue restaurant, overseen by Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin fame.

Dominican Republic
Direct flight: JetBlue, New York (JFK) to Samana (AZS)—under four hours.
Minutes from airport to beach: 25 minutes to the sandy crescent at Las Terrenas; more to the hidden, rustic beaches.

Barbados
Direct flight: American Airlines, New York (JFK) to Bridgetown (BGI)—4 hours, 45 minutes.
Minutes from airport to beach: 15 minutes to Crane’s Beach; 30 or more to the so-called Gold Coast western strands.

Oahu, Hawaii
Direct flight: American Airlines, from Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL)—6 hours.
Minutes from airport to beach: 25-40 to Waikiki, traffic depending. If you have to jump in the Pacific before then (or do some paddle boarding in the designated, jetty-protected lanes), Ala Moana Beach Park is on the way.



Monday, March 25, 2013

10 Ways to Cut Travel Costs


Here are a few tips to help you save when booking your next vacation.

1. Save when the flight is oversold
If you have a flexible travel itinerary this could save you (make you, depending on how you look at it) money. Airlines always overbook flights because there is a good chance someone is going to miss their flight. But in the event that everyone is present and ready to board the airline is going to offer some sweet credits and vouchers for someone that is willing to take a later flight. They could even put you first class on a later flight...SWEET!

2. Talk to the airline
Talking to airlines has gotten me nowhere in the past. The only time I can see this helping you out is if you have multiple destinations and those can get tricky to book online. Plus if you book over the phone there is usually a nice $25 fee associated with it. 

3. Book airfare and hotels
When we have done our trips to Hawaii we have booked air, hotel and car together in a package and it has saved us money no doubt! When looking at just hotel and car you'll pay that same amount if you also book air. Talk to your travel agent before booking a trip.

4. Fly out of a smaller airport
Eh, I have tried this before when I was studying abroad and in the end I don’t think it really saved us money. We flew out of the smaller airport in Oslo and flew into the smaller airport in London and we had to take a train to London and a little longer bus ride to the airport in Oslo. With the cost of the flight and the extra costs from the train and bus I think it would have been a wash. So this one greatly depends on your starting and stopping locations.

5. Choose the days you fly wisely
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are going to be the best days to fly when it comes to saving you money. Since we don’t have kids yet we tend to fly in and out in the middle of the week because that is when there is less travel. On the weekends you get the families leaving for vacations and business people flying back home and then on Mondays you get the business people flying to their work destinations.

6. Time matters
Those 6am flights and the red eyes are going to save you some money and if your down for catching some z's on the plane why not book?!?

7. Book well in advance
We seem to book our trips about 7 - 8 months in advance. And I'll be honest, if the airline allowed me to book over a year in advance I probably would! Since we do book so far in advance we always get travelers insurance to protect us if something happens (illness, natural disaster, family emergency, etc.)

8. Coupon Codes
I personally have never used a coupon code for an airline but I do watch out for sales! I get emails from United, Southwest and American. 

9. Airport Parking
Luckily for us we are able to get uncovered long term parking for about $4 a day and all we have to do is hop on one of their buses and have them drive us to the terminal doors. If this is something that you are thinking about doing make sure you give yourself plenty of time to catch the bus and let it pick up a few more travelers and get to the terminal.

10. Special fares
I remember looking online when I was in college for student airfare and for some reason or another i never booked anything with them. Probably didn't go to the airport I needed or the times weren't right for my schedule. 


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Travel Size = Fun Size


One of my favorite things to do before a trip is get all my travel sized toiletries ready. Depending on where we are going and for how long depends on what I take. Bust most of the time I do the wasteful thing and buy the $1 fun sized bottle of shampoo and then toss the bottle before packing to return home. I do this mainly to save room (typically we'll leave with 2 toiletries bags in our carry on and arrive back home with only one). The only thing I will keep are things like my heat tamer spray…and it usually leaks. Here is a picture of my travel sized stuff.  

Jen over at iHeart Organizing recently went on a family vacation and posted how she preps and packs her travel sized items. She is so organized and makes even this look pretty and amazing! Clearly I need to take a few pointers from her since hers look amazing and awesome and mine look like a hot mess!



 {Source}


Do you love the tininess of travel sized stuff? How do you pack your toiletries? 



Monday, March 18, 2013

Under Bite: The Tail of Two Bulldogs

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and celebrated St. Patrick's Day if you're into those shenanigans. We decided since it was her birthday and we need to socialize her more that we would take the pups to a Bulldog Meet Up. There was about 15 bulldogs there and about 5 gallons worth of slobber! Coco loved it but it was a bit too much for my dear Lola. Here are some pictures from the weekend

 {Happy Birthday Loco Coco!}

 {Houston English Bulldog Meet Up}

 {Sleeping on the chair isn't enough, she has to sleep in her bed on top of the chair = Princess}

{Silly Max}


 Also, you know the saying "If you don't like the weather in (insert state here) then wait a few hours." Well I'm sure this happens everywhere from time to time but how about this dramatic change!!! From basically 90 degree F to 70 degree F in a matter of 6 days! Thank you Texas!




Saturday, March 16, 2013

Can the Airlines Make You Money?!?!


Do you love to travel so much that you invest with the airlines and other travel companies? Well if you invested with the airlines in the last quarter of 2012 you made a good bet! Most airlines are reporting positive gains for the first quarter of 2013. Arca Airline Index is up 23%, Spirit is up 37%, Alaska up 35%, Delta up 34% and United is up 29%. United suffered some during their merger but it seems they have been working hard to build a good rapport with customers again because their on-time rates are above 80% for the first time in ten years!

To see the full article from thestreet.com click here.

I also wanted to share this email I got the other day from TripAdvisor! I was so happy to see it because I truly enjoy talking to people about travel and give tips and ideas!




Friday, March 15, 2013

Pinspiration

This months Pinsiration is something that is/was quite easy but I still got the idea from Pinterest. As I have said before in my 'non-travel' posts, we live in smaller home (considering our location in Houston, TX where everything is bigger) therefore we have a smaller kitchen with not a lot of counter space. And then I saw these little colored jems (picture on the left) and thought, "what a perfect way to get that clunky knife block off the counter and give us more space!" So I decided to buy them and was running the idea by my husband when he said, "They have something like that at IKEA." So we went to IKEA and sure enough they did...and we bought 2. I love them and will totally keep them or get more for our new house.


I also found this idea to use them as a place to keep toy cars off the floor. But unfortunate they will only work if the cars are metal and I think most are plastic now-a-days.

Happy Pinning!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Surprising Spring Break Vacations

Now that it seems all the students and teachers are enjoying their spring breaks (some are next week) I thought it would be appropriate to throw out some unique ideas for future spring breaks!

Todos Santos, Mexico - North of the popular Cabo, Todos Santos offers some of the best waves in the Baja region. Nothing says spring break like catching some waves in the morning and then spend your afternoon popping in and out of art galleries and boutiques. And don't forget to try the sea food!

Charleston, South Carolina - If you are looking for some southern charm during your spring break look no further then Charleston! With some beautiful beaches and tasty sea food whats not to love?! Don't forget to do a sunset sail while you're there too!

Big Island, Hawaii - I think based on my previous posts on this blog you can tell that I am in love with the Big Island of Hawaii. And there is no doubt that I would love to take a family vacation here in the future (once we have children that is). You can hike the volcano and see Lava, go snorkeling with honu (sea turtles) in some of the clearest water in the world. And if you're lucky, see a humpback whale!

 {Waipio Valley, Hawaii 2011}
 {Honu, Hawaii 2011}
 {Thurston Lava Tube, Hawaii 2011}


Amelia Island, Florida - Located north of Jacksonville, Amelia Island offers everything you could want in a spring break but with out the huge crowds.

Scottsdale, Arizona - If you are an outdoor person Scottsdale might be the place for you! Here they have Camelback Mountain, with an elevation of 2,707 ft and the summit at 1,200 ft you will have amazing views of the city below. You can also take some time to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Austin, TX - I think Austin would appeal to many people, they have great food, entertainment, and 6th Street. But for someone who lived an hour away from the capitol city it wouldn't be on my list for spring break. But with SXSW getting more and more popular this city would make the perfect destination for people wanting to see some celebs, listen to some music and check out some new movies.

Amsterdam - Museums, restaurants, avant-garde design shops and cutting edge architecture what wouldn't be to love?! Amsterdam seems like a fun and lively city and I cant wait to go some day...and when I do I want to stay in a floating house!

London - London has had such a year! With the Olympics and Queens Diamond Jubilee it seemed like last year was a non stop celebration! There is so much culture see, make sure to take part in some historical sights along with the upcoming East End.

{On the London Eye, June 2008}

{Big Ben, June 2008}

Barcelona - Barcelona is the capital of the northern province Catalonia. They even have their own language, Catalan. The city offers two mountains, a first class beach and shopping that could contend with New York City. And don't forget to check out the Modernista architecture while you are there. 

Link to my weekend in London.

Link to our week on the Big Island.

Original Yahoo! article here.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Travel RoundUp


1 - The world's tallest hotel is open for business! The 72 story JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai is ready to take your reservations!

 {Source}

2 - This is a personal one for me; my great grandparent's house was serving as the Museum of Costumes in Dumfries, Scotland and unfortunately it has closed :( 


3 - I found this really cool Travel Center where you can find all the baggage regulations for each airline, travel portals, rental cars, embassies lists, travel advisories, etc. Its a really good website to have access to.

4 - Next time you want to document your flight you better make sure to ask permission! This blogger was kicked off his flight for taking a picture of his seat!

5 - Check out this awesome parade! All of these amazing floats are made from flowers!

6 - Germany now has its own tropical oasis! … In the form of a theme park, check it out!

{Source}{Image by Sean Gallup/Getty Images}



Monday, March 4, 2013

Spring Break Destinations


Can you believe its March!!! Where does the time go? What does March mean for all those students and teachers?!?! SPRING BREAK!!!! Below are the top Spring Break Destinations according to Yahoo! When I was in grade school and high school I never really did anything for spring break. I was a pretty good kid in high school and didn't go out and party or drink so the whole, “party on the beach” wasn't really my thing. In 2008 I was able to go on my first spring break vacation, a cruise to Cozumel and Progresso where we got to see Chichen Itza, one of the modern seven wonders of the world.

{Chichen Itza}

Lake Havasu, Ariz.
CancĂșn, Mexico
Nassau, Bahamas
Miami Beach, Fla.
South Padre Island, Texas
Venice Beach, Calif.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Daytona Beach, Fla.
San Juan, P.R.

Original Yahoo! article found here.

I think that when my future kids are old enough we’ll take them on a super fun spring break to Hawaii!

Where are some places you have gone to for spring break?


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Extreme Travelers: Path of the Ancient Humans


Paul Salopek is a 50-year-old journalist that has a long path ahead of him. Paul decided to take the long path of the ancient humans from Africa all the way to Tierra del Fuego, the southern tip of Chile. The route is 21,000 miles!!! Paul began his journey on January 10, 2013. And since then he has not left Africa yet.  You can see his status on his website and check out his twitter. He last updated his twitter on March 1, 2013 with the hashtag #Ethiopia. This path/journey is going to take Paul 7 years! All I can say is good luck and travel well my friend!


Original Yahoo! article found here


Friday, March 1, 2013

ugh, as if!!!

So I don't listen to Justin Bieber nor do I understand what young girls see in him...but I suppose people once said that about me and my feelings for the Backstreet Boys...whatever. But I saw this latest picture of Justin and all I could think about was that line from Clueless, "So okay, I don't want to be a traitor to my generation and all but I don't get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair - ew - and cover it up with a backwards cap and like, we're expected to swoon? I don't think so."
...
and then I made this...



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