Saturday, January 31, 2015

2015 -- week 1 of #projectlife -- new year, new you.

new year, new you. dumbest saying ever, right? why would you need a new you? you're amazing.

as i get older, i'm starting to move away from new year's resolutions; they're too much pressure and as a result, they get thrown out the window somewhere around march 14th. instead, i'm trying to be a better me. i'm trying to do more things that i love, taking new risks, trying new things, eating more, sleeping more, learning more.

last year was a pretty fantastic year; i feel really good about it. here's to a happy, healthy, fatty 2015!

Friday, January 30, 2015

2014 -- week 53 of #projectlife -- siem reap!!

i had two non-negotiables for southeast asia: elephants & angkor wat. elephants for obvious reasons, they're adorable, and angkor wat for history nerd reasons. plus, every guidebook we read and every person we spoke to said it was an absolute must see. and they weren't wrong. it was magnificent.

stay tuned for more pictures!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

2014 -- week 52 of #projectlife -- the thailand fund

shortly after moving to mexico city and moving in with rcg, we started a jar for loose change. i labeled it "thailand fund". it took us a couple years, and there wasn't nearly enough change in the jar to pay for much on this trip, maybe a day's worth of food, but having that jar sitting on the shelf staring at us was great motivation. it was a constant reminder of the goal we'd set for ourselves. 

as soon as we got home from our trip, we emptied the jar, deposited the money, and started fresh. australia, i'm coming for you.

Friday, January 23, 2015

2014 -- week 51 of #projectlife -- vietnam: the honeymoon begins!!

vietnam was not originally part of the honeymoon plan, but i am so so glad that it turned out to be such a huge part of our trip. we ended up spending 6 days and nights exploring this gorgeous, delicious country: visiting hanoi in the north, hoi an in the middle, and spending 12 hours in ho chi minh city to the south. each city was unique in its own way, but the coolest differences showed up in the food! in hanoi we ate pho and delicious street food, while hoi an specializes in bahn xeo, a fried pancake in rice paper, as well as other seafood delights, and ho chi minh city has the best bahn mi sandwiches! luckily each city was small enough that we could walk everywhere, so we were able to work off all of the treats we stuffed ourselves with! 

stay tuned for more photos and a quick guide to each city coming soon! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2014 -- week 50 of #projectlife -- the best way to pack

i think we’ve finally perfected our packing regime. 

normally, we pack very last minute; packing late at night or early in the morning, never with time to spare. and, for the most part, we’re pretty good at it, fitting everything into small duffels. but this trip required more planning — we would be on the road for three weeks. every item we wanted to bring had to be carefully considered so our packs wouldn’t be too heavy. 

the day before we had to pack, we sat down for half an hour and made a giant list that included every tiny item we wanted to bring with us. we even included the obvious things like our passport and underwear; in my opinion, the only two things you actually need to travel. we broke our list into sections: medicine, toiletries, paperwork, travel essentials, snacks, clothes, shoes, & miscellaneous. it was a long list. a really long list. the next day, however, as we put everything on the bed, the list didn’t seem so long. that’s because our clothing, which should have been the largest pile, was tiny — we planned to bring just three shirts, two pairs of pants, a pair of shorts, and three pairs of underwear. we had just enough stuff that we'd always have something clean to put on each morning, so long as we washed our clothes each night. and if we had a huge disaster, we could always buy something — our packs were light enough that that wouldn’t be a problem. we thought we were brilliant. thank god we were right: our packs stayed light and we had clean clothes to wear. and best of all, we have a list to use in the future for any other trips we might go on. 

ps. if you’re interested in traveling light like this, we highly recommend these brands for washable underwear, shirts, pants, & shorts: ex officio, icebreaker, mountain hardwear, columbia, outdoor research, patagonia. there are a million brands you can choose from, these are just our favorites. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

2014 -- week 49 of #projectlife -- happy birthday to rcg!

rcg's like me, not a fan of celebrating his birthday, although for different reasons, i think. but i just can't help myself, i love to celebrate his birth! i'm just so darn happy that he was born that i feel like it should be celebrated, even if it's a tiny gesture and not a flamboyant extravagant party. (although, someone's 35th is coming up soon...)

normally we do something tame and delicious, like marie callendars for chicken pot pie or oreos at midnight. but, this year, when he asked if he could skip town to go rock climbing instead, i knew that would be the best gift i could give him. so that's what he did for his birthday: climbing red rocks in nevada! of course, i couldn't let the day go by unmentioned, so i did send a surprise along with his friends: a giant rice krispy treat. it was so large that eight grown men couldn't finish it. (we ate it for a week afterwards; it was heaven on earth.)

i think it was a pretty good birthday.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014 -- week 48 of #projectlife -- happy 30th birthday to me!

as y'all know, i'm not a birthday person, but this year's birthday was pretty awesome. it started with a surprise dinner at a delicious restaurant in salt lake city, where the lovely people i was traveling with, people i'd known for a little less than a month, went around the table and told me all the reasons why they think i'm awesome. (that sounds super conceited. hold on -- let me explain.) 

when someone first suggested this as an activity, a kind of glorified compliments circle, i wasn't convinced. i thought this would be like the compliment circles i have with my students, no one would really take it seriously and everyone would jokingly say one nice statement (i really like your eye shadow, or some such nonsense) and the whole thing would be over lickety-split. but it wasn't like that at all. each person was so incredibly heartfelt, saying some of the nicest things anyone has ever said about or to me. it's like, in the short time they knew me, they looked into my soul and found all of my amazing. it was incredible. and i will forever be grateful for the things they said and the opportunity to meet such profoundly nice and kind people. 

and, as if that wasn't fabulous enough, my actual birthday was filled with family, trivial pursuit, which, by some miracle, rcg & i won, and a cherry pie filled chocolate cake. yeah, that's a thing. my mom, angel, made me a cherry pie, my favorite, and then baked it into a chocolate cake, my other favorite. it was spectacular. 

read more about our trip to jamestown and check out this recipe for pie cake

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

1607, birth of a nation: the jamestown settlement




jamestown, the first permanent english colony in the americas, was settled on the james river and founded in 1607. you can visit the site of the first colony itself, now nothing more than ruins and a museum, or you can visit the jamestown settlement, a living history museum with a recreation of the life of the early colonists. at the settlement you can explore replicas of the ships the colonists came to virginia on, the colonists' fort, and a powhatan village. the exhibits recreate the lives of the colonists and the native americans, highlighting their food, clothes, houses, weapons, and daily work. the museum, located in the same building you buy your entrance tickets, is not to be missed; it goes into great depth and detail about the colony, england, the impact of colonization, the origin of slavery in virginia, pocahantas and the powhatan people, and many other fascinating topics.  

to visit: open 9am-5pm, daily; $16.75 for the jamestown settlement or $21 for both the jamestown settlement & the yorktown victory center; find out more information here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 -- week 47 of #projectlife -- el tour de tucson!

i had this whole big list of things that i wanted to accomplish by the time i turned thirty. (it was supposed to be a thirty before thirty list, but it ended up being a little short; see the list to the right.) i had things on this list that were new adventures to try, self-improvement items, things to stretch my comfort zone, childhood dreams, and physical feats. sometimes they were difficult to achieve, and sometimes i didn't get to them at all, or was too nervous to try, much to my chagrin. but one thing i knew, without a doubt, that i would do everything in my power to complete was to compete in el tour de tucson.

the tour, as it's affectionately called in tucson, is a bike race that can be anywhere from 40 to 110 miles that skirts the perimeter of tucson. i choose the easiest option, 40 miles. pairing that with raising $1000 for special olympics. i did training rides, averaging in length from 12 to 20 miles each, and i bought the padded shorts. i felt good, ready. and then i went out of town for work, and all of that hard work went away. i was worried. i had raised all of this money ($1286!! thanks again to everyone who donated!) and didn't want to let my donors down. but i was committed. i even came back from in the middle of a work trip, for a mere 20 hours, just so i could ride. and instead of it being the huge disaster i imagined, it was quite the success! i bicycled my little heart out. i finished my 40 miles in a little under three hours, much faster than i thought i would. looking back now, it's possible that i could've ridden in one of the longer races, but i'm glad my first time was relatively easy; it didn't scare me off of the experience. in fact, just the opposite, it's got me excited about biking and looking for the next race to ride in!

Monday, January 12, 2015

salt lake city: the surrounding sights

skiiers will be familiar with little cottonwood canyon; it's home to snowbird and alta, two of the ultimate skiing experiences that utah has to offer. but it's also a nice scenic drive into the wasatch-cache national forest. if you visit during the winter months, make sure your car has four wheel drive, the road isn't plowed; just the way the locals like it. 

for a whole different scene, drive by great salt lake and turn south towards highway 199. while it's snowing in the mountains, it's all sunshine and pastures about an hour away.

and of course, be sure to check out these two delicious restaurants: lone star taqueria with their delicious fish tacos and pago, a delightful farm to table restaurant.   

Sunday, January 11, 2015

the wasatch mountains

if you're ever in the area of park city, utah, be sure to take some time for a short twenty minute drive to the wasatch mountains. the snow is fresh, the roads are winding, and the views are breathtaking. you may even see a few locals taking advantage of the unplowed roads to snowboard down!  

Saturday, January 10, 2015

who watches the watchmen?

i didn't think i'd be returning to zion national park so soon since we visited only a couple of months ago, but i'm so glad i did. we spent the morning driving the winding road through the park, taking in the post-dawn beauty of the rock formations. after a delicious breakfast at meme's cafe, we spent the afternoon with the horsemen of jacob's ranch, wrangling and riding horses on kolob terrace road by north creek. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

valley of fire, nevada

and finally, the third part of my freelance job took me out west; specifically, las vegas to salt lake city. the first stop on our road trip was the valley of fire state park.

after living in the desert for a couple of years, i've really come to appreciate the beauty of desolation. much like the sonoran desert, the land surrounding valley of fire is a flat, brown place, but as you drive into the park, your car is suddenly surrounded by giant sun-kissed boulders that seem to rise out of the earth. it's shocking to see them, they appear to be haphazardly thrown about as if giants had been playing a game and left their toys strewn all over the desert floor, and the color of them brings to mind an alien planet.

we missed sunrise by an hour or so, but i can only imagine that that's where the park got its name. because even in the harsh light of day, the entire valley of rocks and boulders truly did look like they'd been kissed by fire and set aglow.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

december #fmsphotoaday -- changes are afoot for 2015

and so ends my third year of photo a day.

i was still trying to decide whether i wanted to continue with this project during 2015 (see my reticence to do so here), when the creator, fat mum slim, decided it was time for a change. over the past three years, she's heard from a lot of people who felt bad about their inability to commit to a whole month of photos. they'll start the month with good intentions, but life gets in the way, and soon they've lost their place, forgotten to post, and feel overwhelmed by the thought of having to play catch up. so this year, she's still doing photo a day, just in a week by week format. each sunday, she'll post the following week's prompts, and then it's up to each person to decide whether they want to participate that week or not. as of right now, i've been participating, and i'm not sure whether i'll end up skipping any weeks or not, but at least the option is there. 

if you're interested in participating here are the prompts for week one and week two. in addition, you can sign up for her weekly emails with the prompts or you can download her app, little moments, and get the prompts through your phone. 


fruit // grass // pop! of color // free


 me // joy is... seeing your loved ones happy // weekends are for... running! // simple pleasures


decoration // closed door // red // skyline


much loved: the gear & the kittenz // drink // super... excited to be traveling to southeast asia // beautiful: airline food 

 sunshine // sign // something i'm happy about: the time to relax and enjoy our surroundings // food


this is interesting: hoi an is a melting pot of westerners, vietnamese, cham people, chinese, & japanese // tis the season to... party // tree // colorful


celebration // animal // i love: food // book


i need less of this: not really. but we are excited for the beach! // us // best bit of 2014: adventures with my boo