Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Weekly Travel Pic

Can you believe that August is pretty much here? Soon my roadways will be filled with school buses again…booo!

Today’s picture is from my time in London. I visited for a weekend when I was studying abroad in Norway. I loved that we were on the London Eye during sunset, the colors and the views of the river were wonderful. My friend captured this picture of me admiring the sights.  

Also, head on over to Hands On Pants Off and enter the $25 Target Gift Card Giveaway brought to you by me and other sponsors of Tia's site. Hurry and enter because it ends on 7/31 at midnight! Also, check out her bulldogs...they are equally as awesome as mine :D

Monday, July 28, 2014

Weekend Workout

How was everyone's weekend? Mine was pretty good - I signed up for Pure Barre classes and I intend to get my full moneys worth! Seems all Pure Barre studios have an introductory rate of $99 for 4 weeks of unlimited classes. So I went Saturday and Sunday...after my Sunday class I was REALLY feeling the soreness set in! I am fully expecting stronger abs by the end of the month! :P

I also continued to work on a Pinspiration project I have going on right now (I'll be posting a full post about it next month but I wanted to share a sneak peek because I am that excited about it!)

{Sneak Peek}

We also got a desk for our office! We were both starting to get fed-up with having the computer in the kitchen with all the wires exposed and whatnot. Now we have a wonderful, organized work space.

How was your weekend? Did you go anywhere? Buy anything? Do something new?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Extreme Travelers: Rockall World Record

Rockall is a remote granite rock painted white by seabirds, the only inhabitants of the rock located 286 miles west of Scotland in the Atlantic Ocean. But last week Nick Hancock set the world record of longest stay on Rockall by spending 43 days on the tiny rock. He ate army rations, read books, and talked to seabirds to his pass time. The rock has been described as “…desolate, despairing, and awful.”

Nick lived in a yellow RockPod as his shelter on the outcropping measuring 60 feet tall and 82 feet at its widest point. His initial plan was to stay on the rock for 60 days but that was not possible after a storm at the beginning of July caused four of his supply barrels to fall off.

During his stay on the rock he was able to raise $17,000 for the Help the Heroes charity. And when he surpassed the current world records (40 days for a solo stay and 42 days for a group) the Scotsman broke out a tiny bottle of champagne and celebrated alone. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Weekly Travel Pic

Today's picture was taken on the beautiful Hawai'i Island. If you didn't already know, the largest island in the chain of islands that make up the state of Hawai'i is named Hawai'i. The main seven islands are Hawai'i, Maui, Kauai, Oahu, Lanai, Moloka'I and Ni'Ihau.

We cant wait to be back there!

{Pololu Valley}

Where is one place you just LOVE and can't wait to visit again?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Overrated Travel Destinations

I found this article that was posted to Yahoo! Travel about overrated, boring top travel destinations. This is "Siena" and these are all her opinions

Bora Bora
More than one friend of mine calls this island “boring boring.” The reefs and water are absolutely spectacular, but how long can you stare at fish? There’s nothing else to do. The resorts are on their own private motus (islets), so there’s no nightlife, and guests aren't looking to socialize at all as they’re all on their honeymoons. I just felt sorry for the guys who had to paddle me around on a canoe for breakfast . And it’s expensive. If you want Polynesia, just go to Hawaii. If you want exotic, go all the way to Asia, where your money will go a whole lot further. Even though I have never been, I feel like we would be VERY bored if we went here. Like she said, what else is there to do but lay on a beach?!? Not my style. 

{Source: Thinkstock}
“The Las Vegas of the Middle East,” as Dubai is often called, is really a half-finished monument to wretched excess. Also, it’s hot. When I recently visited, there were also grim reminders everywhere of the economic crash in 2009: abandoned skyscraper skeletons with idle cranes on top, billboards advertising the Ferrari that would be thrown in along with the purchase of a luxury condo. Still, shopping remains the most popular sport (and international draw) here, but that’s another non-selling point for me. Yes, you can ski at the Mall of the Emirates. Know where else you can ski? Mountains. Enough said, I don't like Vegas so why would I want to go here?

Abu Dhabi
Billed as the cultural emirate, Abu Dhabi is supposed to offer a more enlightened alternative to glitzy Dubai. At least there’s no over-consumption hangover here, as the city is still filthy rich even after bailing out its flashy neighbor. And so the government has invested in the very best culture money can buy, shelling out for museum outposts and starchitect-designed buildings — the Performing Arts Centre by Zaha Hadid, the Louvre Abu Dhabi by Jean Nouvel, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi by Frank Gehry. But for all of that, there’s no “there” there.  Cities like New York and London are great because of their genuine culture, not the store-bought variety that seems to run rampant in Abu Dhabi. Eh, sounds like I would rather visit London...

I’ll probably get hate mail for this, but there’s something I find entirely too precious about the Emerald Isle. Castles and Guinness and fiddles are completely lost on me, and I don’t care about that mythical fun factor they call “craic,” however you pronounce that. I dislike Irish pubs in the U.S. Why would I want to go to the motherland? Disagree with her here, I think I would love Ireland and I think my husband would also like it. I'm not saying its a place we would visit multiple times but a good 5-7 days here would make a great vacation!

{Source: Thinkstock}
Roatán Island, Honduras
Yes, the diving is great. But it’s also great in nearby Belize and the largely undiscovered San Andres Islands off the coast of Nicaragua. And those places aren't crowded with cookie-cutter condo developments, mass-market resorts, drunken beach parties, and booze cruises. And while Roatán isn't the only place in the world with “dolphin experiences,” it’s the place where I got talked into doing one. I cringed through every awkward minute of my hour spent holding onto to the swimming animals’ fins and surfing on their snouts, but I got through it by reminding myself that it could have been worse — I could have been the dolphin. If thre is one thing we hate its booze cruises and cookie-cutter resorts that specialize is parties...Belize is on our list though.

TooDamnOrderly. Luxembourg is the most sensible place I've ever been. I hated it. I would like to visit every country in Europe, so maybe just drive through Luxembourg?

Have you ever been to any of these places? Do you agree with her?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Movies that Inspire Travel

My Life In Ruins came out in 2009 and its about an American woman who moved to Greece to change her life but she became a tour director for a company like Trafalgar. Her boss always gives her the shitty bus and crazy tourist. This movie is funny and SO true if you have ever been on a tour.

 The Way is about a father that heads to Europe to recover the body of his son that died walking the "El comino de Santiago". After arriving he decides to finish the walk his son started.


Le Week-End is a drama/comedy about a married British couple that travels back to Paris after visiting there many years ago for the honeymoon. The movie is funny sometimes and then very serious and a little sad at other times.

A Long Way Down is another drama/comedy about four people that find themselves on the same London rooftop on New Year's Eve ready to jump. They decide to make a pact not to jump until at least Valentine's Day. To help them relax and get away they head to the beautiful Spanish island of Mallorca!

Welcome to Sweden is about an American who moves to Sweden after falling in love with a Swedish woman. This show has only aired two episodes in the US and I need to catch up on them!

See past posts on movies that inspire travel

Have you seen any of these? Did you like them?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Weekly Travel Pic

When I was in Norway our professor invited a few of us to go golfing with him. Now, I don't golf but I knew the scenery would be beautiful so I went. I am glad I did, check out this picture I got of a storm coming in. 

{Tyrifjord Golfklubb, Norway, 2008}

Monday, July 14, 2014

Thats What I Like About Texas

I got the idea for this post because Shannon at Beginnings in Beyern found out her and her military husband will be moving to El Paso, TX. Since I’m from Texas and have lived here my whole life I thought I would post some things to do if you are visiting the state.

{A Texas Sunset}
Check out Texas state parks and national parks.

Things to Do in Austin
Six Street bar hop/people watch
Watch the bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge
Visit the Capital
Zilker Park
Live Music
Mt. Bonnell
Austin City Limits

Things to Do in San Antonio
The Alamo
River Walk
Amusement Park (Six Flags or Sea World)
Fiesta (Easter time)

{San Antonio Missions}
Check out my post about a stay-cation in San Antonio

Things to Do on the Gulf Coast
South Padre Island
Space Center Houston/Johnson Space Center
Sporting Event (Rockets, Astros, Texans, Dynamo)
Houston Rodeo (February)
Bluebell Ice Cream Creamery
Corpus Christi (USS Lexington, Texas Aquarium)

Check out my post about things to do in Houston.

Things to Do in Dallas (North Texas)
Texas State Fair (late September, early October)
Texas Rose Festival, Tyler (visit in October)
Sporting Event (Mavericks, Rangers, Cowboys)
Bluebonnet Trails, Ennis (visit in April)

{Texas wildflowers}
Things to Do in the Panhandle/West Texas
Palo Duro Canyon, Amarillo
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo
Marfa Lights, Marfa
Buddy Holly Museum, Lubbock
Big Bend National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park

{Cadillac Ranch, source}
Texas Hill Country/Central Texas (perfect for spring time flowers)
Fredericksburg (you have to have some of their peaches)
Gruene (home of the oldest dance hall in Texas)
Johnson City
New Braunfels (float the Comal River, visit Schlitterbahn and stop at Landa Park)
Painted Churches of Central Texas (Fayette County) 

{Painted Churches}

{Painted Churches Interiors}
Things you HAVE to Try
Buc-ee's, best road stop EVER
Texas BBQ
Bluebell Ice Cream
Whataburger (original in Corpus Christi)
{The Texas Longhorn}
Remember, Texas is a state of mind. What do you like about Texas?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Weekend in Chicago; Part 2

On Saturday we woke up early and headed to the Sears Tower to avoid the long wait. We were able to walk right in and make our way up to the 103 floor to the sky deck.

{view from the Sky Deck}

After the Sky Deck we walked to the theater district to take a picture of the Chicago Theater sign. And we had some breakfast at a cute little French cafe.

We didn't really know what to do with the rest of our time so we decided to take a cab to the Shedd Aquarium. It was about a $12 cab ride including tip and it was about an hour wait to get into the place! If we hadn't paid for the cab we probably would not have gone on it. I love seeing the whales and marine life but it is SO cruel to keep them locked up like this.

Our evening was pretty uneventful. Since we don't get cable at home, like I mentioned in my How to Save Money post, I spent my evening watching HGTV and only got about 3 hours of sleep before we needed to be up for the shuttle to the airport :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Weekend in Chicago; Part 1

How was everyone’s 4th of July weekend? Ours was busy yet full of naps and we had GREAT weather! We started the weekend with a 7am flight to Chicago; once we landed we took a shuttle to our hotel, checked in, and then headed out into the city. We walked to the Sears Tower (Willis Tower) but the wait for the sky deck was 2 hours! We said, “ain’t nobody got time for that!” So we walked to Buckingham Fountain. This whole area was blocked off in preparation for the Taste of Chicago (July 9 – 13) and reminded us of I am Legend … kind of creepy.

{Buckingham Fountain}

{are we on the set for I am Legend?}
 After the fountain we meandered through Millennium Park and took pictures with The Bean and then we made our way to Navy Pier. The pier was pretty packed, I’m sure in preparation for the nights festivities. So we walked along and stopped at a few places for food and drinks.

{The Bean}

{view from Navy Pier}
Once we were done at the pier we made our way back to the hotel and took a little nap. In the evening we headed out for some famous deep dish pizza at Gino’s East! It was delicious! I was even licking up the sauce off the plate!

{Gino's East deep dish pizza}
We headed back to Buckingham Fountain to watch the fireworks display and I have to say we were both majorly bummed by the show. There wasn’t any music, there wasn’t any HUGE display. It honestly looked like something someone would put on in their backyard (for us Texans at least). Way to keep the nickname Second City Chicago. 

{Chicago Fireworks}

{Houston Fireworks, source}

{Houston Fireworks, source}

{NYC Macy's Fireworks show, source}

{NYC Macy's Fireworks show, source}
What are some things that you have done when you've been to Chicago? 

Monday, July 7, 2014


It has been a while since I have done anything crafty. I have been wanting to make some cute labels for the baskets we have in the laundry room. Here is what I did:

1 - Bought wood plaques
2 - Drilled holes in plaques for ribbon
3 - Painted the plaques with chalkboard paint
4 - Used a smaller drill bit to push ribbon through the holes
5 - Found a font that I liked and copied it with chalk on the plaques

Friday, July 4, 2014

Cutting Costs to Save for Travel

I follow a lot of travelers on social media that just travel full time. Sometimes they write articles on how they are able to afford to do all that traveling without having a job. Thats all well and good but what about those of us that have a job, a house, a family (dogs, kids, whatever)? How are we supposed to travel if we can't just drop everything? Here are some things we do to save:

Every year since we have been married we have taken a vacation; some might even say a fancy-shmancy vacation. In 2010 we went to Key West, Florida; in 2011 we took our first trip to Hawaii Island and then went back in and visited Kauai in 2012. We skipped 2013 because we bought a new house and in 2014 we went on a mini tour of Europe and Chicago.

We don’t travel as much as I'd like to; we're constrained by distance (the US is a big place) and vacation time (on average Americans only get 13 vacation days a year... we get 15).  And we don’t travel as much as my ex-pat bloggers do (those luck ducks)! But I wanted to share a few things that we cut back on so we can save more money and in turn take a fantastic vacation every year.

1 - We use the United MileagePlus credit card with Chase to its fullest. We put everything on it, even the $4.00 convenience store purchases. All of our bills go on this card and we even used it when we bought our new car. Keep in mind that we pay this off at the end of each month, if you aren't paying it off you're actually paying them for your points.

We also just opened our first hotel rewards credit card and are planning on using those points for three free nights in Hawaii next year.
*there is a lot that goes into using these credit cards. Please make sure you read all the fine print. Email me if you want to discuss more.

2 - Speaking of a new car, we just traded our gas guzzling truck (everyone has one in Texas) in for a Toyota Prius V. Now instead of getting 13 mpg we're getting on average 50 mpg! I can see the savings in gas already!

3 - We don’t have cable. Yes, you read that right, we don’t have cable and we haven’t for about two years. We have an over the air antenna that lets us get all of our local channels for free. We do share a Netflix account with another family member.

4 - We just made the jump from AT&T to Ting for our cellular provider. We were paying $140 a month for our two iPhones and their data plans and now we're looking at paying about $80 a month and we still have our iPhones. Click here to make the switch and save $25!.

To save on the vacation itself, be smart, by a bundle from a travel agent (AAA has great deals) or rent a house instead of staying at a hotel. And if you are staying in a house cook your own meals. Pack your lunch for your outings and skip paying 4,00€ for a soda. We always pack our lunch when we're on vacation. Bring an empty, reusable water bottle with you and fill it up as you go instead of buying a new one every time. 

How do you save for travel? 

And Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Travel RoundUp

Happy July! Here are some fun travel excerpts I've found and wanted to pass along.

1 - Would you spend $130,000 for a seat on the Four Seasons plane? Your 24 day itinerary will include stops in Kona, Hawaii, Bora Bora, Sydney, Australia, Bali, Thailand, Mumbai, Istanbul and London.

2 - Have you seen people take their emotional support dogs or mini horses on a flight? This is a bit ridiculous. I have seen someone take their little toy dog on a flight with a service dog vest... it was not a service dog. They are just trying to avoid paying the pet fee.

3 - This happened in May but I forgot to post it in last months RoundUp, air traffic control had a near miss when two flights almost collided while traveling over Hawaii! A passenger describes his account of the situation.

4 - Maybe we shouldn't have participated in the touristy tradition of adding a lock onto the bridge (although we did it on a different bridge than the one that lost a section of the fence). As an engineer I wondered how these bridges were holding all the extra wight of these locks!

5 - Disney World isn't just for kids anymore, now the 21 and over crowd can participate in a Disney Bar Crawl

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