October 16, 2017

Becoming a Traveler

I LOVE to travel. I never really did as a kid. We traveled to visit family in Ohio and around the state of New Mexico for my swim meets. That was it.

But I think subconsciously I knew I would love to travel. When I was in my 8th grade technology class, we all had to research a career that we wanted to pursue. I wanted to complete my paper and research on being a flight attendant. I was stopped by my teacher and was told to pick a different career because there were "reach requirements" for flight attendants. I was too short to become a flight attendant. Looks like now in 2017 airlines have made it easier for us short folk to get a job. But back in 8th grade, not so much! For those of you wondering, I did my paper and research on another career: Interior Designer. Very laughable. I would really have to learn a lot to be good at that job...

Anyway, I was at work the other day and someone asked me “How did you get into travel?" My response was pretty simple “I just went.” Throughout this conversation, this person began to tell me about what a hard life they had and travel was not an option for them. I told her that everyone in life has "setbacks." But I told him I truly believe that you can steer your own life in the direction that is right for you.
My husband was really someone who has shaped me in so many ways, but especially in travel. I know people solo travel, but I started to travel when I met him and we love travelling together and hope to do that for a very long time. Kevin traveling with me has changed not only how I perceive life, but has also given me a much greater appreciation for everything that I learn and experience while traveling the world.

Over the past five years being married, I have had the opportunity to explore Calgary, Cinque Terre, Bahamas, MauiCancun and more! These are locations as a kid that I could have never dreamed of experiencing. Even places like Zion National Park which seemed so far away have been amazing to visit. 

One thing I do know from my travel experiences is that the world can be a beautiful place full of inspiration.

I hope our travel experiences help inspire you.

October 13, 2017

Fat Man's Loop and Where to Eat in Flagstaff Arizona

Where do I recommend staying when going to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park? Flagstaff. It is located in Northern Arizona with good hiking around the area. If you are travelling through Flagstaff, here are some places you should check out.

Where I Ate:
We only had happy hour here, and it was alright. The food was decent (try the Fish Tacos) but what is even better there is the vibe. They have a commitment to using local goods and they did a really great job designing the place. Makes you want to hang out there.

Fat Olives
I mean, after Fat Man's Loop we kept the name by going to Fat Olives. This was a great pizza place with good service. Looks like they also have a great happy hour! Always a bonus!

Hiking: Fat Man's Loop
2.5 miles loop | 1 hour | 700 feet | Easy | Trail #25
This was an easy, fun trail. You can get a nice view of Flagstaff in addition to hiking through forest and some pretty cool boulders.

The view from the top! Not bad at all!

Have you done any hikes in Flagstaff that are awesome?
Let me know!

October 9, 2017

Day Trip to The South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park

Imagine living in the Grand Canyon State and not ever visiting the Grand Canyon. That was me and I knew that had to change. When you visit, you truly realize why it is a must see destination. There is a lot to explore and I only had a day so I knew it was important to research and determine before you arrive what area(s) to explore.

We based ourselves out of Flagstaff for this trip, an easy 1.5 hour road trip away from the South Rim. After researching hikes, I knew I wanted to do the South Kaibab Trail and the Bright Angel Trail. I knew we couldn't do both...unless we could?

Who says you have to hike a full hike? We did short parts of both hikes and it was beautiful! As always water and good shoes are a must need for hiking. We were lucky enough to have perfect weather too!

Entering the Grand Canyon South Rim entrance, we were required to pay a fee of $30 or use your America The Beautiful pass (their annual pass).

Your first view of the Grand Canyon is just like you imagined: breathtaking and out of this world. The vastness and grandness of it all is pretty overwhelming. You can’t help but take a ton of photos hoping that one will capture the vastness of it all. But remember not to stand and drool too long, going down below the rim is beautiful too.

Our viewpoint we used was the Pipe Creek Vista. It is the main canyon between Kaibab and Bright Angel. I highly recommend it!
We parked at the South Rim Visitor Center and took the free shuttle to the start of the South Kaibab Trail. (Access to this trailhead is by shuttle only, no personal vehicles allowed). So let's talk about the hikes!

South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point
1.8 miles RT | 2 hours | 600 feet | Moderate

We hiked down to Ooh Aah Point, which was 1.8 miles round trip. That will land you 600 feet below the rim. The total walking time is about an hour total if you don’t linger, but what’s the point in that! It took us about 2 hours because we stopped frequently to take photos. If you are up to it, you can head farther down into the canyon to Cedar Ridge (3 miles total) or to Skeleton Point (6 miles total). Both require stamina and a lot of water!

After finishing the downhill portion of our hike to Ooh Ahh Point and grabbing some great shots, we headed back up the trail.

Bright Angel Trail
1.8 miles RT | 2 hours | 600 feet | Moderate

Then we went on to the Bright Angel Lodge where the Bright Angel Trail begins to the lower tunnel. It too is a longer trail (steep 12 miles total) It has more switchbacks than South Kaibab, but you may not notice given the tremendous views that this trail offers.

I can't wait to be back soon!
What is your favorite Grand Canyon Hike?

October 6, 2017

The Ultimate Guide of What to See in Rome, Italy

Well after the wallet fiasco, we were able to do Rome right!

Today we will go over everything else we did apart from Vatican City. We will save that for a separate post. After all, it is its own city! Photo dump time!

Now let's go over some amazing places we visited! We spent three days in Rome. We walked most everywhere we went. There is also a bus system if you need it.

It was designed in 118-125 AD. And to think of what we think is old in the US is in it's infancy in Europe! Looking at the Pantheon from the front in the piazza you will see 44 feet high columns. Some have slightly more pink in their color and those were replacements for a few that got plundered by popes. But otherwise it is beautifully preserved. To go in, you will see a bronze door that weighs 20 tons! Then you get to marvel at the interior which is just spectacular. (Free)

Trevi Fountain: 
There are tons of people here, but it's right across from the Pantheon so great to see. Legend has it that if you toss a coin into the fountain, you are guaranteed to return to Rome. Sweet! I just hope next time I visit I have a little less drama and excitement and some more money. (Free)

Villa Borghese: 
The Central Park of Rome was nice and close to our hotel and it made for a nice place to walk without any money. Regardless of your amount of wealth, it is a very beautiful, serene place to walk in the heart of Rome! (Free)

A must see! It is amazing to believe that it has survived almost 2,000 years! I would absolutely pay to go in, don't just look at the outside (but that is amazing too). Next to the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine. It is one of Rome's largest ancient triumphal arches. It celebrated Emperor Constantine's great victory and the battle that made Christianity the religion of Rome. I would recommend buying a Roma Pass to get you into this site and a couple others of your choosing. It will help with lines and costs! (Roma Pass)

Roman Forum and Palatine Hill: 
Many structures of the old center of Rome have crumbled to ruins, but it has a magically beautiful quality. It is built on a hill so you can see some amazing views! I could not take enough pictures while there! Unbelievable! (Roma Pass)

Musei Capitolini
We could go to another site with our Roma Pass and so this museum was just the ticket! It is a beautiful construction as most things in Rome are. I unfortunately did not get any good pictures. :-( (Roma Pass)

Castello Del Angelo
Named for angels standing on the roof. Which totally makes sense because it has the most amazing city views. We once again used our trusty Roma Pass. I would recommend this as a must see for the views. (Roma Pass)

Of course naturally you will stroll into so many piazzas. There are so many, not only in Rome, but Italy in general. So roam Rome (see what I did there?!) by wandering the many piazzas. (Free)

You should also stroll along the Tiber. The river meanders through Rome above as you can see, and it is beautiful. At a part, you can actually see the old city walls! (Free)

One thing we didn't get to was the Spanish Steps. This is one of the most popular staircases in the world. I love a good step workout, but we were unable to make it over there. (Free)

What is your favorite part of Rome?

September 29, 2017

Creating a Thoughtful Post

Consistent posting sometimes gets hard around here. There have been periods of some absence/inconsistencies of me on the blog recently. Sure I am busy, but during time where I take to create content I have lately found myself stopping. Especially in looking back at previous blog posts, I have realized I really only want to post when my post can be authentic and meaningful. I want it to be a post not just written to be written, but something that someone will connect with.

Sharing your story takes time to curate into a post to put on the internet. I don't just want to make noise just for the sake of making noise. Here are things I think about before jumping in to post that may either make me crazy or be the reason I do not post that often.
Am I sharing this for validation?
Not only when I am writing a post, but when sharing something about myself ,I always check in with myself and ask whether I am I sharing this for validation. I don't want to hold myself back from sharing my truth so that other people can be inspired or be packed with knowledge. On the other hand, sharing things for simple validation is self centered.

Do I want this out there?
Putting yourself on the internet is hard. Especially when there are other people in my life who did not sign up to put themselves out on the internet. My biggest personal rule when it comes to posting my life is that I will not share anything that I am not confident on or that can effect another's life without their permission. I did a whole post on knowing how personal to get on the blog. Just because this is my own personal boundary, it does not mean it has to be your own, but it helps me make a decision on what to post.

Am I sharing experiences or projecting my opinions?
I believe that we all are the experts in our own lives, but that is because we discover a lot of it ourselves. So when sharing content that falls under some version of an advice, I am very conscious of just sharing ideas, stories, and experiences, instead of leaning into just projecting my opinions and values onto others. Sure, I have opinions, but that is not why I created my blog.

Nobody said creating authentic content would be easy. 
But it is fun.

September 22, 2017

10 Recipes For Non-Cooks

When I first got married (and started this blog), I found myself as a new stay at home wife with a husband to feed. That meant I had to learn to cook. I remember having our first guests as I was learning and I was struck with a fear...what do I cook?!?

Here is a list of easy, but impressive recipes for someone to make who doesn't cook.
It is plain and simple and pleasing. Who doesn't love some good comfort food?

I think everyone should know how to make a good pasta dish.. Stuffed Shells are very popular and very easy! Lasagna is a good one too!
Not all my recipes are from scratch. I love using a box mix and adding to it to make the perfect brownies! Plus dessert is life...
Speaking of dessert, a good cookie can be bought, but I have never found store bought cookies that have ever ever EVER been better than homemade. Eating cookie dough and then enjoying warm cookies straight out of the oven are magical.

Semi homemade but totally good. My husband loves Chicken Pot Pie and I have to agree. Plus there are lots of veggies in there. That makes it healthy right?!
Of the common dips (Spinach, Bean, Guacamole, Salsa, and Queso), guacamole is the hardest one to find a good store bought version. And why even look, swear you will spend more time looking at the grocery store than it would take to make some amazing guac. Although if you want to make some good salsa that is super easy and yummy too.
A classic staple in the Southwest that will impress anyone. Authenticity and amazing taste are sure to win you all the accolades when you make this.

Thanksgiving Turkey
Way easier than you think. I promise! I love hosting Thanksgiving and knowing how to make the centerpiece dish of a major holiday is a pretty cool deal! Plus no other dish makes for better leftovers!

The easiest thing to grill and easy to make different every time with what you want to top them with. Who doesn't love a good burger?! 

Lastly, I have to throw some breakfast in on this list. After all, it is the most important meal of the day. What says classic Sunday morning more than blueberry pancakes? Nada.

What is your favorite easy recipe?

September 15, 2017

How to Build a Travel Wardrobe

So...travel wardrobes! No matter whether you are going on a weekend city trip or a three week holiday: your travel wardrobe should be 100% tailored to your style, be as versatile as possible (to save you valuable suitcase space) and give you something to wear for everything you might want to do during your trip. Essentially, the perfect travel wardrobe consists of all the same qualities as a great capsule wardrobe, just on a smaller scale and for a much more defined set of activities.

By no means am I a fashionista, but I am an every girl girl who feels like my packing methods are pretty strong! I have an easy method to put together a great travel wardrobe. Best thing about this method is it works for a long weekend or a long trip. The same plan for every type of trip!
The most important part of knowing what you need to pack is your itinerary and travel plans. What will you be doing all day during your trip? Sightseeing, lounging by the pool, going out to dinner? As a first step make a list of general planned activities. Put some of these activities into categories where you wear the same types of clothes. The list of activities will create your lifestyle during your trip. To make sure your travel wardrobe is optimally tailored to that lifestyle.

Next, you need to decide how many pieces you need to pack per item category. Write down ideas of what items could fill those needs. Choose some specific outfits and depending on what areas, have some items you can re-wear and write those in.

Planning your outfits ahead of time is a good idea for a couple of reasons. First, it will help you make sure your travel wardrobe is versatile enough and works for your destination. Secondly, it will save you time. Once you have finalized your packing list, flat lay some of your sample outfits to ensure it looks good. If you already have a set travel schedule, feel free to already allocate your outfits to specific dates. But remember those categories we talked about? Having an extra outfit for some categories are needed. You always have the option to change your plans and wear something completely different, but chances are, some days you will have better things to do than think about your outfit, so it's good to have a few go-to looks prepared.

Lastly, I recommend ensuring you have the best accessories, bags, and suitcases to travel with. It gives me the true feeling and excitement of knowing that everything is packed well and makes me feel more glamorous! Amara is a really great site to find great travel accessories. No matter where you find yourself, you want to look good!
Dress (from Marshalls)  //  Necklace // Ring (from Marshalls) // Shoes // Suitcase (c/o Amara)

Now if my husband would adapt my packing strategies, I wouldn't be waiting around for him...

How to you create/adapt your wardrobe for travel?
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