Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Review

Happy Monday (well as happy as a Monday could be)! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday; as you can tell I took the week off from blog world but I'm back today to review MY 2014 (it's crazy to think that it's almost over - time flies).
2014 was quite the travel year for us. We took a trip to Europe in April (my husband's first trip to Europe I might add) and in July we did a weekend in Chicago. I went to Lubbock, TX in early December and soon we'll be jetting across the Pacific to Hawaii!
{Top-Bottom, Left-Right: Amsterdam, Germany x 2, Lucern x 3, Paris x 2, Versilles}
Europe was amazing as always, I want to go again but during the Christmas season and hope to see some snow! And we could not have had better weather while in Chicago.
And of course our biggest something this year was the announcement of our little girl that is due in May. And as you may have read in my previous post, my pregnancy was rough (to put it mildly) at the beginning. I am very happy and thankful that she seems to be happy and healthy in her little home (for the next 21 weeks at least).
I wanted to take a belly pic every week but I was sick and now I'm always tired and these signs are a little time consuming...and weeks 13 and 14 were taken without make-up.
{Blake Lively, source and me during my time in the hospital for uncontrollable vomiting}
What are some amazing things you did in 2014? I hope 2015 is just as great!


Friday, December 19, 2014

Flying While Pregnant

Last weekend was my first experience flying while pregnant. My only real concern was that I would get sick during the flight. Now, I am not one to get motion sickness but with my severe morning sickness I was a little nervous. I brought all my "remedies" with me; my motion sickness wrist bands, preggie pops, RX prescription and mints. After all, I didn't want to end up like this passenger.
The only thing that I had to do that was different was ask for a pat down instead of walking through the metal detectors. TSA was professional and obviously I knew what I was asking them to do and what I was getting myself into. After my pat down in Houston a gentleman asked me why I was getting a pat down. I told him and he said he was just curious if they had found something in my bag or if it was a random check.
Luckily I had a short 1 1/2 hour flight to Lubbock, TX to watch my brother graduate from Texas Tech University. I love Tech during Christmas time and I was glad we got to visit in December (and I thought it was cool his graduation date was 12/13/14).


{now both are officially TTU alumni}

{this photo captures Lubbock perfectly}

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


So I dropped a pretty big bomb on Facebook Monday, I announced that we are expecting! That's right, I am pregnant. I still think its weird to say. I have debated on when to "let the world know" and if I wanted to post it on this blog or create another blog more focused on prgnancy and family. I'm still not sure what I'll do. But I will share a little with you now.
As Elizabeth Banks' character in What to Expect When You're Expecting says, "...pregnancy sucks. Making a human being is really hard." If you have or had an easy, no muss, no fuss prgnancy thank baby Jesus and your lucky stars! Back in week 9, after 4 weeks of hellish morning sickness, we had to take a trip to the ER because I knew I was on my way to dehydration. After our 5 hour stay there the doctor diagnosed me with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (which is what Duchess Catherine had). Word to the wise, don't Google that over lunch. The doctor suggested some modifications in my nausea meds and prenatal vitamins and things seemed to get a little better.
Being so sick made having the type of pregnancy I wanted impossible (and hard to get excited about). I wanted to be fit and keep up with my workouts. I wanted to drink healthy fruit smoothies instead of binging on carbs... But like I said, that all went out the window a week after I found out I had a human growing inside me. If I could keep anything down it was carbs (bread and potato chips and crackers).
After our trip to the ER, the following weekend we told my parents and then the weekend after that we told my husband's parents. Of course I wanted to include our dogs in the reveal so I bought them the cutest shirts.
{they aren't the best models}
Shortly after letting our parents know, around weeks 10-12, I was entering that awkward phase where none of my pants would really fit anymore because I had a little bump right where I needed to button my pants. After trying to just go up a size and not liking how that looked and felt I went ahead and bought some maternity clothes. I tried the cheaper ones at Target first and those were so ill fitting I didn't know what to do. I finally headed into a maternity store and asked for help - HUGE difference in the fit and quality of clothes, especially the jeans (which is what I need for work).
A week before Thanksgiving we found out we are expecting a little baby girl! We are so excited and it brings the pregnancy to a whole new level. We are going to have a daughter... whoa! It's crazy to think about.

{I have 7-8 pairs of these so it was only fitting I get her a pair too}
I am into my second trimester and almost to the half-way point. I have had my fair share of pregnancy symptoms like the morning sickness, fatigue, nose bleeds, peeing all the time, and pregnancy brain (leaving the full half gallon of milk out on the counter all day and putting clothes on inside out just to name a few). I did have my first pregnancy travel experience this past weekend and I'll share that with you coming up in the next few posts.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Disappointing Travel Destinations (according to Reddit users)

Have you ever been on vacation and said, "This is it? What a disappointment!" Well you may not be alone in that comment. Yahoo! Travel posted this article about disappointing travel destinations and I wanted to chime in and give my opinion as well.
Also, helpful tip - don’t go in with expectations for something to magical, amazing, and awe-inspiring. Go to have fun, see some cool things, and experience the culture. If you go to the UK just to see Stonehenge then yes, you may be disappointed but just make it PART of your trip and not the focus - the UK and London has so much more to offer!
1. Los Angeles: ‘The whole city is a lie’
LA was one of the biggest let-downs for holiday-makers. Travelers expecting Hollywood glitz and glamour were shocked to find what they called a run-down, dangerous and dirty urban sprawl. Many said it was concrete and “uninteresting,” believing there was little more to it than the tacky Hollywood Boulevard (with homeless people sleeping beside the Walk of Fame).

One of the biggest gripes was the fact that great distances make it impossible to walk around, and that the public transport is poor, making much of the city inaccessible to non-drivers.
Most cities in America are impossible to walk around - for some reason city planning did not plan for subways, trains or descent bus routes. The same can be said for my city of Houston; there is no train/tram/subway that will take you from the airport to the city center. Poor planning at its best!
2. The Pyramids: ‘Stayed 15 minutes’
Egypt tops many a bucket list, particularly for the world-famous Pyramids of Giza. But you may think twice after you read reams of horror stories of stolen belongings and garbage-strewn streets.
The wondrous pyramids themselves “can be seen from Pizza Hut,” and are so close to the city you cannot imagine them away from the noise and chaos, visitors said. Many said they were constantly harassed by locals trying to sell them things, and one said it was a “kick in the stomach” to find that the inside of the central chamber “looked like a cow shed.”

I have never been here so I cannot speak from experience but I did see Karl, from Idiot Abroad, visit here and all that is said above is true. In the episode he seen eating at a Pizza Hut and looking at the pyramids as trash blows by his view.
3. Stonehenge: ‘Very anticlimactic’
The ancient English monument is a major disappointment for tourists. It’s small, you can’t get very close to it, and it’s really not worth the rather long journey from London, many agreed.
An archaeology student pointed out that nearby Avebury Henge was much better — “bigger and you can walk right up to it.”
4. Paris: ‘Worst city on earth’
The French capital comes in for plenty of criticism from the naysayers, mainly thanks to the reported rudeness of the locals. While some said this was down to tourists’ failure to attempt the language, others called it a general air of superiority. 'I couldn’t order a f***ing coffee, in English or in French, without a disdainful look from any cafe employee,” became a familiar story.
Other accusations levelled at the city were that it was overpriced, dirty and “smelled of urine.”
{how can you be dissappointed when this is your view?!}
I think the above is 100% false! I had no problem in Paris and neither did my husband. When he was trying to buy some wine the old man running the shop was so excited to try his English on someone and even though they didn’t have what we were looking for he made some great suggestions.
And the city did not "smell of urine" at all! See the next city for that smell!
5. Venice: ‘A gigantic tourist trap’
While Rome and Naples also got votes, picturesque Venice was most frustrating for visitors. Many thought it was sad to see how it had declined because of tourists, making it impossible to find affordable food and drink in central areas.

{take a relaxing ride on a water taxi and enjoy the sights}

Others said it was crowded and full of scammers and worth a weekend visit at most.
Now talk about a city that smells of sewage! And I visited in the winter! This was the place that I took notice of pick-pockets. I think visiting some of the neighboring islands should be on your agenda and not just Venice.
6. Dubai: ‘Smoke and mirrors’
The UAE’s massive, expensive land of giant malls and skyscrapers hit the wrong note for many visitors. Tourists slammed it as “overpriced, superficial, fake and unfriendly.” with others left feeling empty at the lack of culture. Many hated the intense heat, coupled with scenery of “malls and slums.” while others objected to what they saw as a sexist culture.
The large buildings were “cool to see for about 45 seconds.”
For the "intense heat" that is something guest should be prepared for as you are visiting essentially a desert. Personally, I would only visit here if it was for work.
7. Jamaica: ‘I will never go back’
Jamaica came up frequently for being full of opportunists looking for “tips” for doing nothing. Even beauty spots like the Duns River were dismissed as no more than “tourist traps.”
Some found that local vendors were aggressive or hostile, and even said they felt physically threatened by people who were simply after their money.
8. Bali: ‘Every beach sucks’
Bali was a crushing disappointment to visitors from far away. One said the infrastructure was so bad they wanted to “run away and hide” so as not to contribute to the “degradation of culture.”
Others said Bali’s beaches were filthy, touristy and full of scammers; certainly not the paradise they had flown around the world to see.
Were you disappointed in any of these locations?


Friday, December 12, 2014

2014 Holiday Gift Ideas for Travelers

Good morning! I hope you are enjoying your Friday; I need mine to go by fast! I put together some gift ideas the traveler in your life; hopefully they don't already have everything.
I chose the items because I love them and basically have all of them. My travel map is hanging in our office and I just love looking at all the places we have been and where we want to go. I really love my Surface because I can hook my camera up to it with the USB port while we are traveling. The only thing I don't have is the emergency kit and that is because I always just make my own :)


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Weekly Travel Pic

Aloha! And Mele Kalikimaka! With our trip to Hawaii coming up in the near future it has me dreaming of all things Hawaii and it has me wanting to have a real Mele Kalikimaka. For those of you that are not familiar with the song or anything to do with Hawaii it means Merry Christmas. I would LOVE to spend Christmas there one year and I'm sure it will eventually happen :)
In our past visits we have always left the islands during the first few days in December so the decorations were out and I could at least pretend!
{Big Island, 2011}
{Kauai, 2012}


Monday, December 8, 2014

World’s Most Fabulous Christmas Trees

In keeping with the Christmas spirit, today I wanted to share with you a list of the World's most famous, fabulous Christmas trees! This list can originally been seen on the luckiest girl in the world's web site, Samantha Brown.
I have been lucky enough to see 2 of these Christmas trees, however, I have been to every tree location except Galeries Lafayette (that will have to happen on my next trip to Paris!) and Rio.

Rockefeller Center, New York City
One of the favorite Christmas trees for New Yorkers and visitors to the city for over seven decades (since 1933), the Rockefeller Center experience is unlike any other around the world. One of the best things about the tree is you don’t have to travel to see the live lighting ceremony. NBC usually broadcasts it live the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. The tree is normally a Norway spruce that stands 70 to 100 feet tall and is decorated with over 45,000 multicolored lights and a “Swarovski Star” that is almost 10 feet tall.
Galeries Lafayette, Paris, France
Every year the Galeries Lafayette puts up a truly monstrous Christmas tree. Some years they have breathtaking and intricate visual designs and other years they turn the whole idea of a traditional tree on its head. This year they are displaying their tree upside down in the inverted, hanging from the ceiling position. This will land them on the naughty list for sure.
National Christmas Tree, Washington D.C.
In a time-honored tradition that dates back to 1923 and President Calvin Coolidge, every year we light the National Christmas Tree which belongs to all of us. It’s a joy to visit the Ellipse in President’s Park and browse through the trees representing the 50 states. While the weather is usually hit or miss, seeing the tree set against the White House at night is a stunning spectacle.
Old Town Square, Prague, Czech Republic
The Old Town Square in the city of Prague is stunning on a normal day. When they light the tree, it transforms the area into a magical blaze of lights, color and music. Stroll around and enjoy the festive atmosphere with some hot wine and be sure to sample the amazing food offered throughout the market.
Trafalgar Square, London, England
An annual gift from the people of Oslo, Norway to the British people as a thank you for the support they received during WWII, the lovely Christmas tree stands as a tradition and symbol of the holiday spirit. The tree is a Norway spruce rising about 65-70 feet into the air and is decorated in Norwegian style with around 500 white lights. Come for the tree but stay for the Christmas carols, there are usually several groups performing on any given night.
Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Not to be outdone by anyone in the world, Rio de Janeiro unveiled what they say is the largest ever floating Christmas tree (but, it’s not really a tree) on the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake. The hugely popular and festive lighting ceremony included a huge fireworks display and live music.
St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City
In every year since 1982, the tradition of displaying a Christmas tree and nativity scene at Saint Peter’s Square has officially become part of the Christmas season at the Vatican. Various European countries and regions offer the tree as a donation to the Pope and it has become quite an honor to have your local tree on display in Vatican City. This year’s tree is a white fir from the Italian province of Fabrizia, Calabria. It has a twin trunks (joined together) which makes it very unique.

Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy
There are many Christmas trees to admire in the city of Rome. You can find a very tall and impressive tree in the Piazza Venezia that stands as high as some of the nearby buildings. However, my favorite tree in Rome can be found on the Spanish Steps overlooking the Piazza di Spagna. This perfectly styled tree can be enjoyed from locations all the way down Via Condotti.
{My trip to Italy in 2008, Spanish Steps}
Have you ever seen any of these beautiful trees? 

Friday, December 5, 2014

World's Most Visited Tourist Attractions

Travel & Leisure came out with a list of the top 50 tourist attractions in the world. I have posted the top 20 below for you to enjoy! I believe I have been to 17 out of the 50. Number 23 is in my home state of Texas (San Antonio's River Walk).

No. 1 Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
Annual Visitors: 91,250,000

No. 2 The Zócalo, Mexico City
Annual Visitors: 85,000,000

No. 3 Times Square, New York City
Annual Visitors: 50,000,000

No. 4/5 (tie) Central Park, New York City & Union Station, Washington, D.C.
Annual Visitors: 40,000,000

No. 6 Las Vegas Strip
Annual Visitors: 30,500,000

No. 7/8 (tie) Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo & Sensoji Temple, Tokyo
Annual Visitors: 30,000,000

No. 9 Niagara Falls, New York and Ontario
Annual Visitors: 22,000,000

No. 10 Grand Central Terminal, New York City
Annual Visitors: 21,600,000

No. 11 Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City
Annual Visitors: 20,000,000

No. 12 Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Orlando, FL
Annual Visitors: 18,588,000

No. 13 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston
Annual Visitors: 18,000,000

No. 14 Tokyo Disneyland
Annual Visitors: 17,214,000

No. 15 Disneyland Park, Anaheim, CA
Annual Visitors: 16,202,000

No. 16 Forbidden City, Beijing
Annual Visitors: 15,340,000

No. 17 Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco
Annual Visitors: 14,289,121

No. 18 Tokyo DisneySea
Annual Visitors: 14,084,000

No. 19 Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
Annual Visitors: 14,000,000

No. 20 Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Annual Visitors: 13,000,000

How many of these places have you been to?


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Weekly Travel Pic

This week's picture is a collage I made to once again share with you my Roman Holiday. In 2008 I was lucky enough to travel to Italy for Christmas and New Years with my best friend. Check out the links below to revisit (I apologize for the formatting, it was when I had just started my blog).

{Top-Bottom, Left-Right: Vatican, our Christmas stocking, Milan, Venice, Sorrento, Florence, Sorrento, Verona, Rome}
Italia Here We Come!!! (First day in Rome)
Northern Italy & Lugano, Switzerland (Milan, Lake Como, Verona)
The End of a Roman Holiday (New Years Eve in Rome!)

To see and participate in the link-up visit, Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes

Monday, December 1, 2014

Travel Size

Hello December! I hope all that celebrated Thanksgiving had a good one, we did. We had both sides of the family over and that made for a full house.
I have wanted to do this post for a while and I have just been lagging on taking the picture. Back in October I signed up to receive a monthly Birchbox. I received three before I cancelled my membership.
Birchbox is a super fun way to sample beauty products on cheap...OR, in my case, get fun new travel size products.
I don't know what it about travel sized items but I just LOVE their tinyness! Below is a picture of my first Birchbox. Items include: Shave Cream, Chapstick, Face Rejuvenator, BB Beauty Balm, some cheek tint and a fragrance sample. Fragrance samples are the best for traveling; usually you only need one for the whole trip and you can just toss it before you leave and you'll have a little bit more room in your TSA friendly liquids bag.

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