28. Collect and record stories about my family from my grandparents
29. Break the habit of picking at the skin around my nails. Youch! It hurts!
30. Bungy jump from the world's tallest bungy jump from Bloukrans bridge in South Africa.
31. Have a “signature dish”—something that everyone will ask me to bring to a potluck. 32. Go ice fishing. 33. Get all of my amazing girlfriends across the nation together for an unforgettable weekend. 34. Spend a month in the woods with nothing but the pack on my back and whatever I can carry in it. 35. Use the phrase “the last time I was in Thailand” in a completely legitimate way. 36. Own my own company. 37. Learn how to clean and cook and entire fish. 38. Play with a baby elephant
41. Live in a foreigncountry 42. Play tennis at a 4.0 level (right now I'm a measly 2.75) 43. Learn the names of the constellations 44. Beat my Mom at Scrabble (never. going. to happen.) 45. Start a compost pile 46. Buy a gorgeous piece of stained glass 47. Learn how to be a good haggler 48. Wear a two-piece with ease again 49. Be an extra in a movie 50. Learn how to play chess
"The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that fits all cases." Carl Jung
Never forget that you are each your own wonderful person and you must live the best life for you. It's hard, but try to not to give into the social pressures of life. You are you and that is always more than enough.
Chris is away, as usual, at work Monday through Wednesday of this week and I miss him lots. He was working from home all last week and I think I got a little spoiled from being with him every day!
However, this little cutie arrived in my mailbox yesterday and brought a little piece of sunshine to my day: I've never heard of Boden before; maybe I'm a little late on the game for this brand? Boden is evidently sold at Anthropology. I think I might be a little in love with "my" new discovery!
Here a short list of the items that I am dying for (please be aware that I LOVE surprise presents and feel free to gift accordingly!):
Favourite Crew Neck Cardig (Perfect for dear Stephanie who once told me that she was planning on dressing in all leopard when she was in her 80's-- because come on, when you're 80 you can do whatever you want!)
Chris and I have lots of plans for this Valentine's weekend; nothing romantic but I know that we will have an amazing time together.
Tonight we are going to a concert. We're seeing a Texas classic, Robert Earl Keen. We got our tickets for only $10 each (publicly priced at $25 each) on Groupon**. I'm really excited to see Robert Ear Keen, drink Shiner beer, and do a little two-stepping (you didn't know that I knew how to dance the 2-step did you?). Saturday we are going to a beer festival which is perfect because Chris L-O-V-E-S beer. When we lived in Dallas he brewed his own delicious beers! Sunday we are going to a Chinese New Year festival in Chicago's Chinatown.
One of my best friends from high school, Maggie, is also in Chicago this weekend visiting lots of friends (she used to live here) and I'm pumped to see her!
Get excited, I'm planning on taking lots and lots of pictures this weekend!
I also wanted to share the easy-peazy veggie packed dinner I made last night! It is super cold here in Chicago, I was starving, and I did not want to go to the grocery store; so I took a survey of what we had in the kitchen and ended up with these ingredients:
2 Russet Potatoes
1 container of cherry tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
1 tupperware (I think about a cup and a half) of cooked chicken
Slice the zucchini long-ways into circles and then quarter, mince the garlic, and slice the scallions. I also pulled the chicken apart into bite sized pieces.
I "baked" the potatoes in the microwave for about 8 minutes followed my 10 minutes in the oven to make the skins a little crispy. At the same time I sautéed the garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, and chicken together with a dash of olive oil and sea salt. The last step was to cut open the potatoes and scoop on your warmed toppings! Don't forget to add the scallions (because I totally did!).
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with the ones you love!
** You are using Groupon, right? Each they send out an email with offers. They have coupons in almost 50 cities. Think $40 worth of dinner for only $20 at a great local restaurant. There are also local deals for shopping, spas, local bakery. The deal is only for that day so you buy the deal through the website with a credit or debit card and then are issued a printable coupon with the deal that you can use for about 6 months or so.
I would say I've chosen only about 5% of the deals I've been emailed but the ones that I have chosen were awesome-- including 50% the expensive photography class I had already decided to take!
There were a lot of reasons that I choose SMU for my college career but one of the main reasons was I have family history in Dallas. My parents were born and raised in Dallas, my Dad got his MBA from SMU, I was born in Dallas, and most of my extended family still lives in Dallas. I wanted to get away from North Carolina which felt suffocatingly small and to move far far away.
BUT then at the same time I was kind of a wuss and moved to a city where my Grandmother lived only 15 minutes away from my dorm. I loved living in the same city as my Grandmother, I saw her at least every two weeks for a meal, or a movie, or to take a walk. My Grandmother is 72 and still works, she does the New York Times crossword puzzle every day and even finishes the incredibly hard Sunday editions in pen! Not only is she super smart but she's hilarious.
This email chain between the two of us made me laugh out loud:
I'm leaving May 29th for a world wide adventure. After leaving Chicago I'll be heading to South Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and maybe even Mexico for a wedding.
That's 3 continents over 18 months my loves! Over 20 countries! And now the all important question becomes:
WHAT CLOTHES DO I PACK?
Well, actually that question is kind of easy: not a whole lot. I learned tremendous amounts while backpacking in Europe.
**CAUTION CAUTION** If you are the type who gets grossed out when thinking about wearing the same shirt for two days in a row or going a few days without taking a shower then you should leave this post THIS VERY INSTANT! Even if you need to blow-dry every day this not the place for you my friend.
Let me take you on a guided tour of my backpack in a whirlwind of a budget travel packing list!
I am in the school of thought that when packing for a worldwide backpacking trip less is more. You have to carry that load on your back every time you go to a new city. You will have to trek up stairs, wind through large crowds, and face some monster hills each travel day. When you have been struggling up a hill for 20 minutes you really start to hate that extra pair of shoes in your pack.
This is my backpack. It's a woman's pack from Mountain Hardware. I schlepted it across Europe so I have undoubtedly broken it in. In backpack talk it's 50 liters. This isn't a huge pack for such a long trip; I met some people in Europe who were traveling for 3 months with 90 liter backpacks that weighed 75 pounds! That's just ridiculous to me. I would much rather do without a hair dryer and straightening iron!
I really like my pack: it's comfortable, it expands easily, and it is very durable. The only downside to my pack is that it only opens from the top or a zipper on the side. If I had my choice I would have gotten a pack that zips open all around the front. But those packs didn't fit my body and so here I am with this pack! Finding a woman's pack with all of your wants that also fits can be tough. I can't urge someone strongly enough to choose the pack that feels the best!
That's my pack from behind (and my behind!). I hope that it doesn't look too ridiculous on my body. I think of it as my snail shell-- my little home while traveling!
Now on to my clothes. This is the part where all of your mouths drop and you say "but that's NOTHING." I am bringing shockingly few pieces of clothing:
2 pairs of pants
1 long sleeve shirt
1 short sleeve shirt
1 pair of leggings/long johns
5 pairs of socks
4 pairs of underwear
1 pair of shorts
1 t-shirt for sleeping
1 pair of hiking boots
1 pair of flip flops
and that's it my loves. I've found that I can live with the bare essentials and if need be I can always buy a simple dress or skirt along the way. When Chris and I get to conservative countries in the Middle East I will be making some adjustments and adding head scarves and floor length skirts to my wardrobe.
The key to packing so little is to focus on comfort, durability, and washability. You want to be able to wear the same clothes several times without them stretching, becoming wrinkled or getting nubbly after a million wears. Without a doubt on a low cost backpacking trip you will be washing your clothes in sinks and showers around the world. The pants that I will bring can be adjusted to multiple lengths and are super comfortable. They also both have draw-string waists. I found out a draw string was really important while I was in Europe because over 3 months I lost almost 20 pounds and 2 sizes!
This post has already gotten kind of long so next week I will let you know about the toiletries, medical supplies, and random other items I will be packing!
I'm sure I haven't told you everything so If you have any questions let me know!
Hello from a VERY snowy Chicago. It has been snowing for at least 9 hours here! I know it's not the snowpocalypse (I actually like snowmaggedon more) that DC is experiencing right now; but it's still a lot of snow!
(That's the lake in the background! What lake you ask? Lake Michigan!)
(And I couldn't resist taking a picture of these puppies playing in the snowy park)
Last night Chris and I took a little adventure to a Vietnamese neighborhood in Chicago (Argyle Street for those of you who live in Chicago) and had DEEEELICIOUS food!
Chris and I both ordered pho (pronounced fuh). Pho is beef soup with rice noodles, onions, and maybe some other magical tasty stuff; you can mix in lime, bean sprouts, jalapenos, and culantro (like cilantro but the leaves are longer). Chris ordered the extra large size and it was huge:
We took home a ton of leftovers! Tonight we might head out for dinner again since we don't have any groceries or maybe we will make our way the 6 blocks to the grocery store and cook.
I have exciting news! I now have almost all of the stuff I am taking on our trip. So tomorrow I am going to pack and take pictures of everything that will be going with me around the world to share with you!
And then just one beautiful picture from the weekend:
So... last night I think I had my first embarrassing moment on the internet. I had been randomly poking around the internet and after clicking link to link to link I showed up at a random blog. I honestly couldn't have told you how I got there but there I was nonetheless (is this suppose to be 1 word?). So, I ended up leaving a comment and adding the blog to my reader. Then I read this post later:
"two new blogs on the side.
goodbye dallas, hello world is a girl named meredith who must know marisa since they both live in chicago? i dunno. but she's taking an around the world trip with her boyfriend in may and you knooow how much i love travel books/blogs."
ohhh totally called out. So *sigh* here is where I fully announce myself as a stalker. So... I don't know Marisa but I saw a comment she wrote on another blog and then I saw your blogs and here I am!
I'm not really as creepy as that sounds!
And I am indeed taking a world-wide trip. Starting in Southern Africa, moving to the Middle East, then South East Asia and then finally India and Nepal. In May Chris, my boyfriend, and I will be taking our backpacks and heading to Johannesburg!
Now I must go email real people I know about this so I can confirm that I have real life friends too. haha
... I cry when I watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. every.single.time.
... I love coloring. Seriously, when I taught preschool I used to color with the kids all the time.
... I am a TERRIBLE clapper. My sorority sisters can verify the fact that finding the beat is just impossible for me.
... On a semi-regular basis I blast the soundtrack from The Sound Of Music and sing and dance along.
... When I cook alone I like to pretend that I am the host of a cooking show and day dream about writing a cookbook.
... I really want to have a birthday party with a bounce house and inflatable giant sock-um-bobbers.
... I could (okay fine, have) just eaten chips and guacamole for dinner.
... I have a total old-man nerd crush* on Rick Steves. Yes, Rick Steves the prolific guidebook writer and NPR host. (I can't believe I just admitted this one!)
... I love blowing bubbles in milk with a straw.
... My favorite N*SYNC member was Joey Fatone.
* Old man crushes are a special breed of crushes. He is obviously WAY too old for you but you would totally try to set your mom up with him**. For example: Stabler from Law and Order SVU, Craig Ferguson, and a certain unnamed friend of mine once said she thought Al Gore was hot (she actually said a young Al Gore was hot but she's never going to live it down).
** But only if your mom is single and goes for slightly younger men.
I had a great but very busy day today in Chicago. I don't have a car here and am way too broke to take cabs everywhere so I use public transportation. Chicago actually has a great public transportation system. I was a busy little bee running all over the city getting things done and rode 5 different busses and went on the L (that's what the subway is called here because it is ELevated) 3 times!
By far and away my favorite thing I did today was "developing" some of my digital photos in the lab portion of my weekly photography class at the Chicago Photography Center. I take a class one night a week for 3 hours where we talk about the theory behind taking great photographs. In the lab portion of our class we get 3 hours with a trained instructor who teaches us how to manipulate our photos in Adobe Lightroom. So far, Lightroom seems leaps and bounds better than Photoshop (which I have used an itsy bisty bit before) if all you want to do is edit pictures. If you want to airbrush out a possible double chin or some speckling that suspiciously looks like cellulite then Photoshop is the way to go; but since I am gorgeous and perfect looking in every photo I think I will stick with Lightroom.
After finishing my work on my class assignments I had some extra time so I worked on a few pictures from Italy. I love love love they way they turned out and want to now work on ALL of my Europe photos on Lightshop!
Here is today's work!
** ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I can't find them on my memory card. Seriously? I spent like 3 hours on these guys. So annoyed. Maybe it's just a PC to Mac problem? I can find some but not the beautiful ones I was so proud of. Instead, here are some pictures from France. I'll track those photos down and WILL post them!
My absolute favorite hostel sign EVER. It was definitely a worrisome moment In Paris when I saw that before checking in.
I have a special love for church candles. I'm not Catholic but I still love them. I think it's the idea that each of the candles represents the wishes and hopes of individuals. The warmth and the light coming off of them are amazing in person.
And who can resist a Parisian merry go round?
I hope your all having great and productive days without lost photos!
I'll admit it, my personal style is pretty plain. In the winter you are most likely to find me in jeans, a nice t-shirt, a sweater, and sneaker or flats. And in the summer I almost always am wearing a simple sundress and Jack Rogers or Bernardos. I have my share of fancy dresses and high heels but I seem to wear them only on special occasions. 4 inch heels don't really match my lifestyle. For example, Chris and I walked around Chicago for 3 or 4 hours on Saturday exploring and doing some shopping for our trip (woo! fancy! hiking socks!).
While my own fashion is a little basic I definitely do appreciate both high fashion and trend items. If I was living in NYC doing fashion PR I would totally rock high heels. BUT there are some trends that I just don't understand right now. Maybe one of my bffs from college Stephanie at Le Sigh of a Fashionista can help me out?
WTF? Yes, I do have to admit this is from American Apparel who seems to be known for basic t-shirts and some weird random crap. But really.... who would wear this and what do you wear it to? The only possible option I see for the lace onesie is for hooking (I'm just calling it how I see it.).
I really just don't understand this trend at all. I've seen bloggers all over the place trying this out and it just doesn't work for me. Am I miss something? Is this a new Ugg-esk trend where no one really thinks it's attractive but everyone is going wear them?
I know I could be opening myself up for all kinds of internet ridicule here. But, really... someone please explain!
After spending my college years and first years of being an adult (ack!) in Dallas I packed my things and backpacked through Europe alone for 3 months. I then headed to culinary school at Johnson & Wales. Finally before tackling a career and a morgage I'm seeing the world! Want to know more? Read away! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org !