Wednesday, July 31, 2013

MB20GoosTour 2013

Last night we went on a little date (if you want to call it that) and we went to the see Matchbox 20 and the Goo Goo Dolls. I have wanted to see Matchbox 20 live since I was in middle school (I saw Rob Thomas live in 2009 but it wasn't the same, no MB20 songs) ! For one reason or another I was never able to make a show :( and then they show up in Houston with the Goo Goo Dolls?!?!? Count me in!

The show was in an amphitheater and it was HOT!!! I thought the concert was co-headlining but it was a Matchbox 20 show and Goo Goo Dolls were opening up for them. For bands that had their first hits in 1997 and 1998 they sounded AWESOME! They both were amazing and I got to hear all my favorite songs. It was really funny to see the older people jam out and even stranger to see the tweens and teens jam out...since they probably weren't even born when these songs came out.

If you are on a budget and don't want to pay for a ticket you can totally sit on the grass outside the theater and hear the music just fine. And I think we're going to do that for the next show we were thinking about going to.


Things We No Longer See on Airplanes

I can't believe another month has come and gone, 2013 is flying by. I recently heard on Science Fantastic that the reason why you think time moves slowly when you're young is because you haven’t lives as long so the time makes up more of your life. For example one year for an 8 year old is 1/8th of his/her life where as one year for a 40 year old its only 1/40th of that person's life. Thought it was interesting.

Now, on to the travel stuff; here is a list of things you use to be able to experience on a plane. Air travel seemed so much more glamorous back in the day. For the full list and pictures click here.

1. Sleeping Berths
In the late 1940s, the Boeing Stratocruiser was described as being “just like the magic carpet.” Besides a beautifully appointed ladies’ lounge and reclining springy club chairs, every seat in the main cabin (not just first class) could be adjusted and manipulated to form enough sleeping berths to accommodate each passenger.

2. Pong
In the early 1980s, Continental Airlines outfitted some of their DC-10s with what they called a “Pub” which included a walk-up wet bar and circular tables surrounded by swivel chairs and a two-player Pong game.

3. Champagne in Coach
In the 1970s, Southern Airways billed itself as “Route of the Aristocrats” because of its policy of offering first-class touches to every passenger.

4. Table-side Meat Carving
Pan Am’s 707 Clippers used to offer restaurant-quality meals served seatside by an on-board chef on their trans-Atlantic flights.

5. Pianos
From 1970 to about 1974, American Airlines featured a piano lounge in the rear of their 747s. The instrument in question was a Wurlitzer electric piano that required frequent repairs due to over-enthusiastic music lovers spilling their cocktails on the keys. 

6. Flight Attendants in Hot Pants

7. Fresh Cut Flower Arrangements
Pan Am’s 707 Clipper was advertised as being “vibration-free,” so they could have fresh flower arrangements on every tray.

8. In-Flight Fashion Shows

In 1965 Braniff International hired fashion designer Emilio Pucci to create a versatile and colorful quick-change uniform for the air hostesses. Flight attendants welcomed passengers aboard in one outfit, then changed to another for the meal service, and then stripped down to oh-so-sexy culottes for the “let me change into something more comfortable to help you relax” portion of the flight.

9. Peruvian Art
Braniff, the fashion-forward airline also hired New Mexico architect Alexander Girard to brighten up their fleet. Girard incorporated a monochromatic color scheme in which each plane was painted one color, from a palette that featured selections such as Metallic Purple and Lemon Yellow. 

10. A Window at the End of Each Row of Seats
In the olden days the standard seat pitch in economy class was 34 inches, but today the average is closer to 31 inches. Once an airline buys a craft, they’re free to configure the seats inside however they please, and these days that means “crowded.” Seats are revenue-generators, so over the years companies have added more rows inside their planes, which means that sometimes even when you’re assigned an official window seat, you might get just a sliver of glass at the back of your shoulder.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hotel Living

Good morning! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! We actually did some work on our new house this weekend - we waterproofed part of the fence. We're going to finish it next weekend.

We are about half way through our hotel stay and it hasn't been bad at all. We do get pretty bored on the weekends but we just kind of drive around and check things out in our new area. The hotel itself isn't that bad either. They have HBO and Showtime which is nice since we don't have that normally and they clean your room once a week. And the kitchenette has a full fridge and dishwasher which is SUPER nice! The rooms really do come with everything you need for an extended stay, from laundry basket to can opener, they got it for ya!

Weird stuff: 1) Calling the hotel "home" or "the house" 2) having to call the house we sold "the old house" I think I'll start calling it the Katy House since it was in Katy, TX 3) I feel like I have no clothes!

#CandlewoodSuites #IHGRewards #theSuiteLife #HotelLife

Friday, July 26, 2013

TripAdvisor's Top 25 US Destinations 2013

Here are TripAdvisor's top 25 US destinations for 2013: Check out more pictures, hotels and things to do here. The ones highlighted in purple are the places I have been and the ones highlighted in blue are the places I have lived. I still don't know why Houston makes it on these lists, I think its because a lot of people travel here for business since its like the mecca for oil companies.

1 - New York City, New York

2 - San Francisco, California

3 - Chicago, Illinois
4 - Las Vegas, Nevada

5 - Orlando, Florida
6 - Washington DC, District of Columbia
7 - Boston, Massachusetts
8 - Los Angeles, California
9 - Honolulu, Hawaii (Oahu)
10 - New Orleans, Louisiana
11 - Seattle, Washington
12 - Miami, Florida
13 - Sedona, Arizona
14 - Savannah, Georgia
15 - Charleston, South Carolina
16 - Napa, California
17 - San Antonio, Texas

18 - Lahaina, Hawaii (Maui)
19 - Portland, Oregon
20 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
21 - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
22 - Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (Hawaii, the Big Island)

23 - Palm Springs, California
24 - Naples, Florida
25 - Houston, Texas

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tourist Crime

Statistics show 7-10% of all visitors to Spain will be accosted by a street criminal and about one-third of these attacks will be successful.

After Barcelona Paris is a top spot for pickpockets followed by Rome. In Paris, the Louvre is a popular pickpocket spot and in Rome it's more likely to happen in places like the Sistine Chapel when you're looking up at the ceiling and at the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain. I have never been a victim of pickpocket theft yet (knock on wood). But while in Venice our tour guide did point out a few teams working together at the Bridge of Sighs.

The U.S. Embassy takes this crime seriously enough to have published a tips guide: Pickpockets in Paris: How to Avoid Becoming a Victim. Best advice I could give you - be aware of your surroundings and if you're a girl always have a hand on your purse and even your wrap your wrist around the handles if you can.

Other European Cities:

In South America:
 Rio de Janeiro
 Lima, Peru

United States:
 Mardi Gras, New Orleans
 Las Vegas

Read the full article here

Have you been a victim of tourist crime? 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Places to Visit While They Are Still Cheap

If you are looking for a nice place to relax and get some exploring done on the cheap then you're going to love this list. Below are some places that are inexpensive to stay (but might cost you a pretty penny to get there). Some of these places are still under the radar so visit before they become the next Saint Tropez or Monaco. See more reasons to visit in the original article here.

South Korea
Tasmania, Australia
Cambodia -
I can't wait to make it here! I am really hoping that we have enough MileagePlus points to get us there for free. I have been doing some looking on TripAdvisor and I am finding places to stay for $12 a night!
Sri Lanka
Turkey - I recently read that the Turkish people are not fond of Americans L I would still love to visit their beaches some day.
Gulf Coast - So glad a US destination made the list. When we have kids I want to take them on their first beach trip to Destin, FL the white sands look amazing. But knowing us we'll probably find a last minute deal to Hawaii and jump on it!
Croatia - Another dream location of mine and a possible back up if the Thailand/Cambodia trip doesn’t work out. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Evils of Renting a Car

When planning a vacation I always find that I can get everything into the budget…until I add in that rental car. Why do they cost so much! The only place I think you can get away without having a car is NYC and cities in Europe. Below are some tricky fees you might find on your bill - to read the full article click here.

1. There may be more fees when renting at an airport. Airport concession recovery charges and other fees can add 10% or more to the total cost of a car rental. This applies any time you rent from the company’s airport office – or one nearby that offers a shuttle to the airport.

2. Returning the car early could cost you. You’d think returning a rental car early would mean you’d pay less, right? If you’re getting a special weekly rate, returning the vehicle early may be extra costly, as some rental companies will cancel your discounted rate. Other companies will prorate fees for the days you didn't use, so you’ll pay a little less – but then some tack on a $10 to $15 early return fee to your bill.

3. Adding a second driver could cost more. Renting a car that both you and your spouse plan to drive could alter what rate the rental company offers you. A number of companies add a fee for a second driver, as well as charge extra for adding the second driver to the insurance waiver.
Ever since my husband and I got married he had to drive the rental cars because I was under 25, that’s right, you have to pay a whole lot more money if you're under 25 to drive (because of insurance purposes)  - or you might not be able to drive it at all depending on the company. Last year was the first year I was able to drive the car without having to pay a crazy amount of money. But we still opted for the one driver to save money.

4. The company will likely put a hold on your credit or debit card. While most major car rental companies require a credit card to get the rental process started, you may also be able to use your debit card to rent a car. Either way, there’s a good chance you’ll face an authorization hold on your card.

5. Small companies may offer big benefits. Renting a car from a large company may be more convenient, but small, local car rental companies frequently offer lower rates.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I made these one weekend because I had a MAJOR fail on another recipe and I had all this left over cream cheese. So I headed to Pinterest for some ideas and I found this - yummy! Although the name is misleading because it's not cheesecake and the only thing that makes it close to a sopapilla is the fact that it has cinnamon and sugar on it - regardless, it was good.

{I have question marks because I'm sure I nailed the taste but I don't think I nailed the look LOL}

Sopapilla Cheesecake

16 ounces cream cheese
2 cans Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup cinnamon & sugar mixture

1 - Using a 9 x 13 baking pan, unroll one package of Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough and line the bottom of the pan.
2 - Mix together the cream cheese, sugar and extract.
3 - Spread over the crescent rolls.
4 - Unroll the other can of crescent rolls and place on top of cream cheese mixture.
5 - Pour one stick of melted butter or margarine over the top and sprinkle with about 1/2 cup of the cinnamon & sugar mixture.
6 - Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Pillsbury Recipe here.

Good visuals and Pinterest link here

Monday, July 15, 2013

No Passport, No Problem

Have you ever just wanted to go somewhere tropical, like Fiji or The Bahamas, but you thought you couldn't because you didn't have a passport? Well think again! For those that don't want to get a passport or who want to travel someplace within the next 6 weeks (the time it could take to get your passport) here are some cool destinations. You can find the original article here

Puerto Rico
The Island of Puerto Rico (officially an unincorporated territory of the United States) has inexpensive airfare from Spirit, Southwest, and JetBlue makes Puerto Rico an economical option for East Coasters. 

One day the USA might welcome the island as the 51st state. But, right now, you can still explore its wonders without a U.S. passport.

United States Virgin IslandsThe U.S.V.I are made up of three main islands—St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John—plus a scattering of smaller isles, the U.S.V.I. see about 2.6 million visitors each year. Tourism and rum make up the majority of the islands' economy. 

Note: Travelers will need to have a passport to visit the neighboring British Virgin Islands.

Northern Mariana IslandsThese Micronesian islands has been governed by the United States since the Battle of Saipan in 1944. The islands rely heavily on tourism from their northern neighbors Japan and Korea as well as the United States. 

History buffs will find much to see in Saipan, that was once governed by Spain and Japan. While the Mariana Islands are relatively remote, several major hotel operators, including Hyatt, run four- and five-star properties on Saipan.

GuamGuam is a big tourist destination for Japanese and U.S. nationals. (Its second-largest source of income is the U.S. military, whose navy, coast guard, and air force bases make up about one-third of Guam's total land area.)

There is much to do on this lush island: the beaches are known for great snorkeling, and Guam's seas have a visibility up to 150 feet, great for divers. While flights to Guam don't come cheap, accommodations do; resorts in Tumon and nearby Tamuning average around $200 per night.

American SamoaThe unincorporated territory of American Samoa is a collection of five volcanic islands and two atolls between Fiji and the Cook Islands, truly off-the-beaten-path destination. 

Find coral-filled waters, craggy coastlines sculpted of lava, and untouched beaches whose only other sunbathers are the seabirds. American tourists can fly into Pago Pago via Hawaiian Airlines.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Suite Life

Well we have been in the hotel for a week now; 7 days down, 34 more days to go! And as of right now I say we have a pretty suite deal (see what I did there :P).

We are staying at a Candlewood Suites off the Beltway near Bush Intercontinental Airport. So far it has not been bad, you can hear the highway and the planes. But I really don't mind the planes, I love watching them take-off. I mean how AMAZING are they?!?!?

We have had a few dramatic instances happen; someone burned a hot pocket down our hall and the fire department showed up. And this morning as we were walking to our car we saw the top of a palm tree had fallen off! It brushed up against someone's car but didn't land on it.

#candlewoodsuits #ihg #travelmiamor #thesuitelife

Friday, July 12, 2013

How to Build a House

From time to time I have mentioned on the blog that we are moving…into a brand-spankin-new house! We are EXCITED! So I wanted to talk about the building process and how things work when you are building a house from the ground up. (Also my How to Sell a House post is my most popular post so I wanted to follow up and with the rest of our old house/new house adventure).

March 23rd - Signed contract for approved plan and lot - yippy!
April 10th - Meeting with designer (4hrs) - we got to meet with a designer for 4 hours to help us pick out our carpet, cabinets, tile, countertops, backsplash, and even grout colors. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted and we just used her to bounce ideas off and make sure everything meshed well together. And a FYI an hour of that was just paperwork so come prepared!
April 19th - We met with our construction manager. This took about an hour and we pretty much just went over where outlets were going to go, where we wanted the internet outlets to be, etc. We also had him move a wall and add a cubby hole under the stairs (sweet hiding place!). They also started bringing dirt in to level the lot this day.
April 27th - Pipe and framing for the foundation
May 13th - Pour foundation
May 22nd - Begin framing - it's starting to look like a real house!
May 29th - Still framing
June 6th - Roof and siding done! The 2nd story of our house is hardy plank and not brick.
June 14th - Finial inspection before sheetrock - here walked around with our construction manager and made sure all the outlets were correct and we went over all the change orders (cant double and triple check enough!). They also had the wall and some attic insulation installed at this point.
June 20th - Sheetrock! Hallelujah! Sheetrock is up but not taped or mudded.
June 29th - By now the sheetrock had been taped, mudded and textured.
July 4th - Cabinets installed
July 5th - Exterior brick has begun! Millwork also started today!
July 9th - They continue to work on the brick and they completed the fireplace today. They also started painting.

And that brings us to today! To date we haven’t had any major delays, just a few days here and few days there. We are having them redo the fireplace since we thought we were getting one type of stone and we got another. We have been told our closing will be the middle of next month.

Helpful Tips -
1 - Be nice to your construction manager and sales rep. We haven’t had a problem with ours, they are great. But I have heard some pretty bad stories out there.
2 - Make sure you are getting what you want/paying for. Don’t be afraid to ask where something is if you don’t see it. Or remind them about things a few times. While in the framing stage I would always remind them about things we had discussed previously because it hadn’t been done yet and I just wanted to keep reminding them until it was complete.
3 - Go out to your site numerous times a week. We go at least once on the weekends and twice during the week (we are lucky enough to be able to make it over our lunch break). And now that we are at the hotel and much closer to the new homeplace so we will be stopping my more often.
4 - It helps to pick up trash around your site. I have been out there twice to pick trash up. The framers and crew leave empty water bottles and soda cans all over your house and one might get stuck the wall somewhere and sugar water = bugs!

I feel that certain things the builder offers are about equal to what you can hire a contractor for and some things they really gouge you on. But in the end it's up to you - can you DIY to save money? If so go for it! We are not very good DIY-ers so we opt to hire people. We even have to have someone come paint for us we're that bad. But in our defense our walls have orange peel texture on them and that makes it harder to get a straight line. A lot of the walls I see in HGTV don’t seem to have texture - what do your walls look like? Also it depends on what you want when you move in - do you want projects to DIY or complete at a later date or do you want it 100% done and to not have to worry about anything else? We opt for the latter. 

Do you have any interesting stories about when you built a house?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

When Vacations Attack

In Kruger National Park in South Africa an angry elephant showed just how upset he was by shattering the window of a tourist's vehicle. Tourists are allowed to drive around the reserve without a safari guide. Guess they won't be getting their deposit back on the rental car.

{photo brought to you by me and Clip Art}

To see the real pictures and video click the link here.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Travel RoundUp

Sorry for not posting on Friday, we were busy moving into our hotel. Its great to have that house (and moving out) behind us! I hope all my American readers had a wonderful Independence Day. And my thoughts are with the victims of the plane crash at San Francisco airport, may the injured get well soon.

1 - I found this really cool website when I was wanted to compare the size of Texas to Australia. Check it out!

2 - Now might not be the best time to visit Egypt or the Pyramids of Giza. The US Embassy warns tourists to stay away.

3 - Debbie over at Buisson International did an awesome post on the inner workings on Wimbledon. I loved the post, check it out here.

4 - Looks like the tourism board in Paris is getting some guidelines in etiquette and mannersRestaurants, taxi drives and sales staff will be getting a booklet teaching them phrases in different languages along with cultural differences

5 - Airborne laser technology revealed some new temples in Cambodia! How cool is that?!?!

6 - A 9 year old girl passed through customs using her unicorn stuffed animals fake passport!

Thats all for this months round up! Have a good week!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Extreme Travelers: Home Free Adventure

In 2011, Lynne and Tim sold their house in central California, gave away the furniture, and stuffed all the stuff they wanted to keep into a storage unit. They said goodbye to their children and friends and now they live in rented apartments and houses all over Europe (for now).

They have no property taxes, roof repairs or home insurance, so all of their spendable income is used to fund their new way of life. They do have small suitcases, an appetite for new experiences, good computers, and the savvy and flexibility to make themselves at home in almost any situation.

They sail home for the holidays to visit family and friends; they also use this time to make doctor visits. In 2012 they lived in: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; the USA; at sea to Rome, Italy; Turkey; Paris; Florence, Italy; England; Ireland; Marrakech, Morocco; Barcelona, Spain; and then were at sea again bound for the USA.

2013: USA - @ sea to Venice, Italy - Lisbon, Portugal, Kenmare, Ireland - Paris - Berlin, Germany - London - Copenhagen, Denmark - @ sea to USA

{Blog}             {Facebook}                 {Twitter}

How many of you want to live this way some day? I know I do!

P.S. I also updated my Where I've Been page with a new map!

Monday, July 1, 2013

2nd Quarter Goal Progress

Welcome July - the whole area hit over 100 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend and a field close to our house even caught on fire!!! Hope everyone is staying cool indoors and keep your yard wet so it doesn't go down in flames! Here is my 2nd quarter 2013 Goals Updates!

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 - My views have gone WAY up and I am super excited about it!

·   Start my new series, Extreme Travelers (monthly post) Done - although it is getting hard to find new stories
·   Continue the Travel RoundUp series (monthly Post) Done
·   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. Done
·   Travel to one of these places this year: Chicago, Washington DC, or Niagara Falls Unfortunately there will be no travel this year since we are buying a new house - We were going to go to DC when my parents go but that is the same time a friend from overseas is coming to visit.
·   Use a Groupon Getaway --- (doubt this will happen)

·   Lose weight (isn't that on everyone's list?) I stopped WW in May because we were getting into the nitty gritty of moving every weekend and changing all of our mail to a PO Box. Any bill that I could get rid of was cancelled, including the gym L but I have stayed under 130 which I am happy about. And I have every intension of starting back up when things settle down and we're in the new house!     
·   Read more - Maybe I should just take this one down...I dont think its going to happen
·   Take our baby pup, Coco, to Galveston to see how she likes the water It's officially too hot to take the dogs out and Coco is now with Grandma and Grandpa in the hill country until we are in the new house

·   Save one entire paycheck! We need to save for a new house and our trip to Thailand! The only month we didn’t make this goal was when Lola got pneumonia L my poor baby

How are your goals for 2013 going? Traveled anywhere cool? Done anything different? 

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