Travel tips from a bad traveler

Oh, hello! Yes: I am, in fact, still alive (and well)! And we just got back from our trip to Cape Cod.

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It was wonderful, but I’ve realized something over the past couple of years: we’re (the Raums: Jeff & I) not good travelers. Despite exhaustive planning (on my end) and good intentions (on both of our ends), we generally don’t know what the hell we’re doing when we vacation. It seems easy – relax. Do whatever you want. Eat all the delicious food. Swim. Repeat. But, for whatever reason, I always feel a bit…lost. And end up worn out and exhausted, instead of refreshed.

So, in interest of making myself a better traveler and helping those who may feel the same way (hopefully you don’t, but you never know), here are some tips that I’ve learned the hard way – a kind of “what not to do” travel guide.

1. Don’t overestimate how much you can eat.

This one is really as simple as this: for the love of god, remember you’re a human! Listen. As Jeff solemnly stated the other night while dining at the Lobster Pot – not as an insult – “You [I] can EAT.” He speaks the truth – I really CAN put it away. But I tend to plan my trips almost SOLELY based on food, and end up committing myself to eat more food than is humanly possible to consume in a day. And that’s without factoring in drinks, and we all know that liquid FILLS YOU UP. This ends up making me feel bloated and sluggish, which makes walking around less than pleasant. Definitely do some research and figure out your must-haves, but if you’re used to eating three meals a day and maybe one or two snacks (which is the case with me recently), remember that you’re going to feel like garbage if you attempt to eat literally NON-STOP every single day. Don’t feel bad if you can’t get to every single restaurant you’ve read about. You can always go back another time if you want.

2. Maybe eat a vegetable; DEFINITELY drink some (lots of) water.

On a related note, if you typically eat relatively healthfully in real life, your body’s going to be peeved if you attempt to eat nothing but butter, cheese, bread and ice cream on vacation. I’m all for indulging on vacation and would never dream of trying to follow any sort of healthy eating plan while traveling for pleasure, but maybe eat a salad here and there, or maybe a piece of broccoli. And DO NOT forget to drink water, especially if you’re drinking a lot (of alcohol). Dehydration will ruin a vacation faster than you can say “Ugh, why do I feel like a bucket of discarded fingernails and fish heads?” I tried to get ahead of this this time by buying some yogurt to keep in our mini-fridge and eat for breakfast, but mostly failed. Oh well…next time!

3. Don’t feel guilty about downtime.

I know that it’s easy to feel like you should fill every minute of vacation time with fun and out-of-the-norm experiences, but some of our favorite vacation memories have been watching garbage TV in our hotel room (we are who we are). If you’re constantly going going going, you’re GOING to end up completely exhausted by the third day of vacation. If your vacation is three days long, fine…but if you’re going somewhere for, say, a week, you’re going to need to relax at some point. Whether that’s lounging with a good book or sleeping through dinner and waking up at 10:30 PM to watch Craig Ferguson on the “American Channel” in Mexico while eating room service cheeseburgers (true story, and one of my most treasured memories), enjoy your downtime and don’t feel like you’re “wasting your vacation.” We spent more late evenings than not this past trip watching Shark Tank in bed, and frankly, it was glorious.

4. Don’t try to be a sun goddess if you’re not one.

I’m constantly torn between wanting to bask in the sun (the amount of sun exposure I get DRASTICALLY affects my mood and general disposition) and protect my poor, mid-thirties skin from sun exposure. And I DO slather on high-octane sunscreen before hitting the pool or beach (or anywhere else I’ll be getting more than a couple minutes of sun), I wear SPF on my face every single day without fail, and I try to remember to bring a few hats when I travel somewhere warm. But then I get there, and I forget just how BRUTAL the sun can be. I’ll lay on the beach or by the pool for 10 minutes and start thinking “Holy shit, the sun is ACTIVELY TRYING TO HURT ME!! This actually HURTS MY BODY!!” I don’t know how people lounge on the beach ALL DAY, but if I spend more than a few hours in the sun, I’m BEAT for the rest of the day – even if I’ve been in the shade.

5. Don’t force yourself (or your partner) to do things you don’t enjoy “for the gram.”

On a related note – don’t do things you don’t enjoy because it feels like you “should.” For example: Jeff and I aren’t really beach people. Jeff doesn’t like sitting in the sun, and doesn’t really enjoy the ocean (unless it’s SUPER CLEAR, bath-like, tropical water). I really don’t enjoy sand, and lugging everything onto and off of the beach just isn’t my idea of a good time (the juice is NOT worth the squeeze for me, generally). I can get into the beach for a while with a big group of friends, or if I’m at a resort or hotel with private beach access with chairs and umbrellas, but if it’s just me and Jeff and we’re schlepping all of our stuff to just sit there for a few hours and then drag a ton of sand into our car when we’re done, I’m not really into it – I’d rather hang by the pool or elsewhere and read or whatever else I’d being doing at the beach. This has been hard for me to admit to myself because I was a MAJOR beach baby growing up (but on Lake Erie, which is much more low key than the ocean), and people in Delaware are ALL ABOUT salt life. I’m definitely in the minority around here, but it’s just how it is. I like the beach ATMOSPHERE – I love an ocean view, and I’m all for a trip down south to wander the boardwalk or eat some seafood, but the beach itself just doesn’t do much for me. That said, I always feel pressure to do at least one “beach day” when vacationing somewhere beachy – we did it in Cape Cod, and we did it in Spain. While I can’t say I necessarily regret it, the beach experiences definitely weren’t my highlights of either trip (not counting the untouched beach we boated to in Spain – that sort of thing is a definite exception to this rule). In the future, I’ll definitely prioritize a hotel or rental with a sweet pool setup over beach access, because it’s what we prefer and that’s okay.

6. Don’t buy crap you don’t want just because you “need a souvenir.”

I mean, this is pretty obvious. I personally haven’t done this in years, but I definitely fell victim to the “souvenir trap” before I started traveling more regularly. Pretty much anywhere with any tourist population is going to have 15 million crappy souvenir stores…and I’m not going to lie, I have always and will always go into them and look around, because it’s fun. But the stuff in those stores is usually poorly made, overpriced, and garish looking, and it’s not something you’d ever buy anywhere else. If you want to bring something home, try going off the beaten path to a locally owned store selling things that are genuinely cool and unique – stuff you’ll actually use and/or display when you get home. We typically still buy some kind of ridiculous souvenir because our parents genuinely like those kinds of things (and our friends get a kick out of them), and I decided a while back that I was going to start collecting magnets when traveling (after noticing that I didn’t have enough magnets for my fridge, and the ones I did have were a random assortment of local advertisements and other ugly crap), but other than that I try to find more unique shops and support them instead if I feel like shopping.

7. Be good to your body.

I’ve kind of already covered this, but for me, this means exercise. I’ve never once successfully exercised while on vacation despite ALWAYS packing running shoes and a sports bra, but I honestly think it would make me feel better to go on a short run before starting my day. Not only would it make me feel slightly better about eating all the everything for the rest of the day, but it would provide some peaceful alone time and a chance to see a different side of our travel destination. I’m always a little worried I’ll inadvertently overdo it and end up sore, and have used it as an excuse to skip working out altogether, but a 1 mile run (or even a brisk walk or short hike) isn’t going to hurt me in reality. I’m committed to giving it a go on our next trip.

8. Research rainy day activities in advance (and be realistic about it!).

Almost every trip I’ve been on has included at least one rainy day, and I almost always end up stumped as to what to do. When we went to Savannah, it rained almost the whole time we were there. I knew it was going to in advance (I’m an obsessive weather checker), and I had researched a bunch of things to do, but the things I “decided on” were mostly things we definitely weren’t actually going to do: visit museums (we’re not museum people), travel out of town to do a brewery tour (we weren’t renting a car), shopping (I’m not going to drag Jeff around various shops all day, and I’m not realistically going to spend an entire afternoon on vacation shopping). It rained all day one of the days when we were in Cape Cod, and we ended up spending most of the day chilling in our hotel room reading, then driving to the next town to get Duff Goldman’s favorite lobster rolls. It was actually a pretty great day, and I’m glad we saved our mini-excursion for a day when walking wasn’t in the cards.

The last thing is less advice and more of a crowdsourcing attempt: how do you guys ward off spending guilt when you’re traveling? Is this just a me thing? These days I always budget for travel and even have a separate “Vacation” savings account, so I have plenty of money set aside to spend while traveling. It’s not like I’m using credit cards and going into debt, or spending money that was earmarked for something else, but I always feel cringe-y about the amount of money we spend on vacation. Is this just how I am as a result of being broke for so many years? The only way I can think of to prevent this is to only to all-inclusive resorts…don’t get me wrong, I love an all-inclusive vacation, but they’re pretty limiting and I definitely want to travel to places other than the Caribbean. Christ, that sounded gross…this is absolutely a “check your privilege” situation, but nonetheless – I guess it is what it is. Any tips would be much appreciated (or, y’know…feel free to tell me to kick rocks). Cape Cod recap to follow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plastic Paranoia

Being the neurotic and anxiety laden person I am, I’ve begun to really start thinking about the amount of plastic we’re exposed to on a daily basis, and the negative effects it has on our health. While I’ve come to accept that some plastic exposure is just going to happen (I’m not about to start eliminating every type of food or beverage in a plastic container), I figure I should at least do what I can to limit my family’s exposure to harmful plastics.

Although most decent quality plastic containers are now BPA-free, I’ve read lots of credible articles claiming that BPA-free plastic can still produce negative, potentially cancer-causing effects. With that in mind, I’ve decided to make some changes in my home:mwga-17-a17_2

I already don’t typically drink bottled water – I typically use filtered water from our fridge, or the water machine at work. But I’ve now swapped our plastic Nalgene sports water bottles with aluminum S’well bottles for both myself and Jeffrey (that one was a no-brainer – S’well bottles may be a bit heavier and a tiny bit less convenient than plastic bottles, but they keep water cold FOREVER).

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I’ll be replacing our mismatched plastic Tupperwear with a set of glass containers. This one hurts a bit, because they’ll take up more room…but it’s for the best, and I won’t have to deal with the ugly, stained, half-melted (I put them in the dishwasher knowing full-well I’m really not supposed to) mess of containers I currently have. This set comes with a good variety of sizes and gets high ratings on Amazon.

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No more plastic cups…I can’t get rid of ours (Jeff refuses to drink out of a real glass unless we’re having a dinner party or something), but I’ve stopped drinking out of the plastic cups we stole from the movie theater (yep) in favor of using a real glass (we have this set). I actually originally did this less for the health concerns and more because the plastic cups were starting to pick up a funky dishwasher detergent taste…yum.

So, it’s not much, and I could be doing a lot more, but these few changes make me feel a little better about what I’m putting into my body. If anyone has any other (realistic) ideas of ways to reduce plastic exposure, send ’em my way!

 

A Summer Getaway

I’ve been trying to plan our summer vacation(s), and I’m having a bit of trouble deciding where to go.

My original plan was to do a quick Jersey shore trip (probably a long weekend) in early summer, and then a longer trip for our 2nd wedding anniversary in late August. I was thinking Maine for our August trip – it’s beautiful, we’d have city (Portland) and beach (Kennebunkport or Boothbay) options, plus lobster rolls! But when I started planning, I found that it was next to impossible to find a rental or hotel in coastal Maine in late August that was both available and didn’t cost $500/night. I thought about switching the trips – Jersey in August and Maine in June – but Maine isn’t very warm in June.

So, I’ve pretty much scrapped the Maine idea. I’m trying to keep things on the budget-friendly side, so I’d like to go somewhere within driving distance (plus we love a road trip, and haven’t taken a real one in a while). I’ve considered a bunch of options (Hilton Head, the Outer Banks, etc.), but I keep coming back to New England – while southern beach towns are relatively similar to our beaches around here, New England has such a unique feel. Right now, I’m thinking Cape Cod in late June – it’ll be right before the main season so we’ll hopefully dodge the crowds a bit, but by the end of June it should be warm enough to swim. I’m thinking we’ll do Monday – Thursday in Provincetown, check out on Friday and take a quick detour to overnight in Boston, then head home Saturday. I’m waiting for Jeff’s approval, but I’m already dreaming of lobster rolls, clam chowdah, lazy afternoons on the beach, and evenings by the fire pit. (And maybe a drag show or two – when in Rome!)

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Provincetown sits at the very tip of the cape.

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Race Point Beach

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Retro Harbor Hotel on the bay

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Lobster rolls on the deck of The Canteen

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Biking through town

A Secret Tip to Make Time Fly

Or maybe not so secret…

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Get up and walk around! I know there’s tons of articles and studies discussing the importance of moving during the workday (especially if you work in an office), but I had always kind of brushed them off. Well, a few weeks ago I jumped on the FitBit train, and I’ve been getting up and walking at least 250 steps each hour since (I’m a slave to those goals).

Of course, it’s a healthy habit…but I’ve noticed that an entirely unintended side effect is that it makes my day pass so much faster. Whereas before it’d feel like hours for 5 minutes to go by, now I’m shocked when my FitBit buzzes and tells me to get up and move – it usually feels like I just made my last round a few minutes ago!

That’s it – just a quick, simple tip to make the day drag a bit less. Give it a try!

The 5 Most Formative Albums of my Youth

A Facebook post I saw recently made me think…what albums were the most formative for me? You know the ones: they come along at just the right time in your life and form your music taste and even part of your personality for the rest of your adulthood. There were three that came to me immediately and stuck out in my mind with no question, but I had to think a bit before determining the last two. These aren’t necessarily my favorite albums (although they’re all great, and a few of them definitely make my top 10 or even top 5 list), but what they did helped to cement my entire identity from the point I first heard them forward.

Here they are, the most influential albums of my young adulthood:

1. Good News for People Who Love Bad News by Modest Mouse

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I listened to this album on repeat when I was going through a bad breakup, so it signifies my newfound independence in my mind. Before this breakup, I struggled to find my own identity – I was more an extension of my (older, much more outgoing) longterm boyfriend. I did develop some of my own taste during that relationship – I had started to stray from my previous preference of singer/songwriters and jam bands to stranger, more indie bands that were just gaining popularity at the time – but mostly kept in the shadow of those around me. When we broke up, I temporarily moved in with my best friend and bought this album after Modest Mouse had been recommended to me by an ex co-worker (who I still keep in touch with today – thanks, Traina!). It sticks in my mind because it was such an emotionally raw time, but after I fell in love with this album and out of love with my ex (much, much later), there was no turning back. I was finally my own person, and I liked what I liked. I had always liked slightly different music than my peers (my taste was heavily influenced by my psychedelic music loving father), but from here on out I’d seek out the unusual and the unique, and was proud of it. Basically what I’m saying is, my tendency to be pretentious and obnoxious (and the fact that Jeff’s always referred to me as “hipster adjacent”) is Modest Mouse’s fault.

2. We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank by Modest Mouse

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Of course, when Modest Mouse came out with a new album less than a year after my aforementioned breakup, I bought it immediately (along with two other albums – more on that below). These three albums are the first that I specifically remember going to the music store and purchasing on my own as an adult (of course, I had purchased CDs before this in general – I was 22 when this came out in 2007 – but this is the first time I remember choosing completely on my own, as an adult, without any influence from friends or boyfriends). I remember listening to the samples on those big headphones they had in the music store (talk about a throwback) and racing home to wrestle the CDs out of that horrible plastic covering and listen to the whole albums on repeat. This was also one of the first albums I introduced to Jeff when we started dating, and the song “Florida” got him to open up to my music a little (which is saying a lot, because Jeff likes a total of about 4 bands).

3. Funeral by Arcade Fire

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This is probably tied for overall most influential album of my adulthood with Modest Mouse’s GNFPWLBD. This album was one of the three I purchased that aforementioned day, and it blew my damn mind (along with probably every other indie band loving human in America/Canada), and remains arguably my number one favorite album of all time to this very day. I don’t love what Arcade Fire’s become over the years – I’m not sure if they got too big (remember when they instituted a black tie rule for their concerts?) or if my tastes just slightly changed, but most of what they put out these days is just “meh” to me…but this album was a true masterpiece. The arrangements were so lush and dramatic without being over the top, the melodies were gorgeous, the lyrics were beautiful and authentic. I can’t think of anything wrong about this album. This is the album that caused me to start telling people my favorite genre of music was “indie” (which I feel conflicted about to this day – see this).

4: Wincing the Night Away by the Shins

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This was the third album I purchased on that day in 2007. I was already familiar with The Shins (mostly from the movie Garden State), but this was the first album I really fully dove into by them. Along with Funeral, this album helped cement my love for “indie” music, and got me to dive into Sub Pop (the record label that helped make a lot of early indie bands into mainstream names).

5: Our Love to Admire by Interpol

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By the time I started listening to Interpol, I had started hanging out with people who had similar interests and musical tastes to my own, and these friends introduced me to a lot of the music I listen to even now. Again, I was already vaguely familiar with Interpol, but this particular album kicked off my long-lived obsession with everything Post-Punk. Wrecking Ball off of this album remains one of my all-time favorite songs, and Miley Cyrus can’t take that away from me.

Honorable Mention: Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear

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This one just missed the list because it was a bit later when I got into it (I was already living in Delaware when it came out), but it helped to transform my musical taste into the form it is today. The previous albums introduced me to indie music, but it took me a few years to really nail down my true taste. I spent a lot of time convincing myself I enjoyed really out there music, when in reality I just liked it because it made me feel cool – I actually think a lot of that stuff is just noise and couldn’t be paid to listen to it these days. See: Neutral Milk Hotel and most Animal Collective (minus the song “My Girls,” which is a masterpiece). My taste continues to evolve and change to this day – I’m now almost exclusively into indie folk or whatever you’d call Dawes and Blitzen Trapper type stuff, but also go through periods of being obsessed with hip hop or even more poppy electronic stuff – but I feel like this album helped me really settle into myself, or at least came along during the time that was happening for me.

 

 

Waiting for Spring…

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I’m pushing HARD for spring around here – I’ve got the bright, flowery candles burning, I’ve got the relaxed, warm weather tunes pumping. I’ve brought the outside in, but I’m ready to take the inside (ME) out. Come on, sunshine & warm weather! We’re waiting for you!

Digging

Long time, no dig! Here’s what I’ve been into as of late:

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T3 Micro:

Up until recently, I hadn’t bought a new blow dryer in ages. We’re talking years. And I wondered why my hair would be all frizzed out 5 minutes after I finished drying it. So, earlier this month, I finally upgraded my 10 year old $20 Conair dryer to a T3 Featherweight. I happened to luck out and snag mine from an outlet sale for $85 (marked down from $250!!), but it was definitely an investment well made. I can actually blow my hair out and it’ll stay silky smooth without being touched with a flatiron. Speaking of which, I was gifted a compact flat iron for Christmas, also from T3 – I asked for it so I’d have something small to throw in my bag to use after the gym, but it’s so much nicer than my old flat iron I’ve been using it at home (thereby defeating the purpose of getting it in the first place – oh well).

Revlon One-Step Volumizer Brush:

Speaking of hair care, this brush was another game changer I received for Christmas this year. It’s a volumizing brush and dryer in one, and is great for when you need to get out the door quickly, and don’t have time for a full blowout. It leaves my hair bouncy and silky smooth, and takes a fraction of the time a full blowout and straightening/curling sesh would.

Function of Beauty:

What the hell, let’s keep going with the hair stuff. I switched over to Function of Beauty late last year, and I’ll probably never go back (don’t hold me to that). It’s personalized shampoo and conditioner for your exact hair – you take an extensive quiz and select what you want your products to do (add volume, mend split ends, etc.), and even select your scent (they use amazing smelling essential oils – I chose a eucalyptus mint blend) and color (you can also choose to go dye-free). It’s lasted forever (I’ve had it since September and still have half of each bottle left…although let’s be honest, I don’t wash my hair very often), looks chic, smells great, and my hair has never looked or felt better.

Nutpods:

Moving on to less hair-related things…my dear, precious Nutpods. If you follow The Good Food, you’ve heard me wax poetic on Nutpods countless times. I discovered this almond/coconut blend creamer during a dairy-free month in January, and haven’t looked back – it’s one of the only plant-based creamers I’ve found that’s almost as creamy as half & half (my previous creamer of choice), is totally unsweetened (even the vanilla flavor), and doesn’t leave any chalky residue. I’ve found a refrigerated version of these at Wegman’s, but I prefer the shelf-stable kind I buy on Amazon (it needs to be refrigerated after opening) – I don’t know why, because the ingredients are identical. It just tastes better to me.

Madewell Jeans:

I feel like I’ve finally found my jeans, and it’s glorious. I have a history of trying every bargain brand of jeans available and hating all of them – they’re always crazy uncomfortable, stretch out and end up sagging, and the knees wear out in literally one wear (I also discovered that may be because I should be buying tall, and had been buying standard fit, but that’s a story for another day). I finally bit the bullet and invested in some higher-quality jeans, and I will absolutely never go back. Every pair of Madewell jeans I’ve purchased fits like a glove, feels like butter, and holds up beautifully. I especially love the Roadtripper cut – they’re the softest jeans I’ve ever worn and the cut is perfect (and they’re a steal at only $75) – but it’s hard to go wrong.

Brandless:

Brandless is an online grocery store that sells un-branded items for $3 each. I was a bit skeptical at first, but I received my first box today, and the quality has been great so far. It does help to comparison shop a bit – $3 isn’t actually always cheaper than you’d find at a regular grocery store – but there are some great deals, and I got some of their wooden spoons and spatulas and they look great. I also love that their packaging is minimal and modern looking. Definitely grab some of the Jalapeno Lentil Crisps if you order!

Living With Less:

You may have noticed that most of the products I’ve listed here were either purchased late last year, or were gifted to me – I’ve been trying really hard to avoid buying things I don’t need since the beginning of the year, and I think I’ve been doing pretty well. There have been some setbacks – I’ve noticed that when I actually do need something and allow myself to buy it (like the blowdryer), it tends to open the floodgates and tempt me to start buying things I don’t need as much (I just bought myself a new running outfit I probably could’ve done without, as well as a pair of flip flops I justified by telling myself I needed “dressier flip flops” when we went outlet shopping for work clothes for Jeff), but for the most part I’ve cut way back on online shopping, so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself. I’m spending less, there’s less crap all over the house, and I’m finding other ways to occupy my time. It feels great.

 

 

Let’s catch up.

Hi friends! Let’s catch up, shall we?

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Reading:

A big, fat, nothing (literary, at least)…but I really want to get back into it! I read Jessi Klein’s memoir on the plane to & from Florida and really enjoyed it, which brought on a brief comedy book kick…but I’m starting to crave my thrillers again. I recently downloaded The Innocent Wife and was excited to dive in, but immediately forgot about it. I’ll get to it eventually!

Working:

On figuring out what my next career move will be. I’ve been feeling a bit bored at work recently…it’s nice to have some downtime, but I’m ready for a new challenge. There are a couple opportunities on the horizon, so fingers crossed!

Listening:

I’ve been in a huge music rut for the past…I don’t know, two years? I’m having the hardest time finding new music I enjoy, and I’m super bored with my old standbys. I’ve been leaning hard on musicals like a huge dork…Jeff & I recently saw Hamilton on Broadway which was the most incredible experience, and I’ve been very into the Spring Awakening soundtrack these days.

Wearing:

Jeans & sweaters, sweaters & jeans…and I’m so over it. I love me some sweaters, but I’m ready for the weather to warm up so I can pull my skirts and dresses out and put my puffer coat away. Get it together, spring!

Watching:

We just finished Wild Wild Country on Netflix, and it was wild (no pun intended, ha!). Highly recommended if you’re looking for something to make you say “WTF?!” It made us want to re-watch Making a Murderer. We’ve also been digging some newer comedies – A.P. Bio and Corporate are the first to come to mind.

Needing:

To get back on a normal schedule, desperately. A combination of Seasonal Affective Disorder and laziness has me waking up super late these days, and it’s bumming me out. I miss those quiet early morning hours, and productivity has gone out the window. I know it’ll be a lot easier once it starts warming up, but I’m looking forward to feeling human again.

Wishing:

For a home refresh. Jeff had some uncertainty going on with his career for a few months so we put any major purchases or projects on hold, but he’s accepted a great position with a new company (he starts tomorrow!) and I’m itching to get moving with some projects. I’m still loving our bedroom re-do that we finished this past fall, but our main bathroom needs work desperately, our porch needs major construction, and we’ve been dying for a new couch. I’m starting to feel the itch to move, but there’s really no reason to leave at the moment and I keep reminding myself to be patient and wait until the perfect house in the perfect location becomes available (plus, I’ll be heartbroken to leave our little house). In the meantime though, we need to make sure our current house is ready to put on the market…it’s go time.

Drinking:

Coffee, in higher quantities than normal. My usual cup a day habit has been creeping up to 2 or 3 cups on average. I do feel a little better about it since I cut dairy out of my coffee routine in favor of plant-based creamers, but I do still indulge in a real latte every now and then. I’ve also been drinking a lot of wine, and the occasional gin cocktail – Jeff’s been big into bourbon lately, so I’ve been trying to expand my booze horizons.

Writing:

The Good Food. As mundane as a lot of my daily posts are, it feels good to be writing regularly, and the straightforward format keeps writer’s block mostly at bay.

Eating:

I’m just gonna leave this here.

Wanting:

To run/walk outside, desperately. I haven’t stuck to my pledge to work out daily, partially due to laziness/SAD (such a vicious cycle, since exercise is a very effective antidepressant for me, but it’s so hard to get motivated when you’re already physically depressed) and partially due to some minor physical setbacks. This sounds like such a cop-out, but I was pushing myself a little harder than I probably should’ve with running and got terrible road burn on the balls of my feet, which led to huge gross layers of skin peeling off – sorry, I know that’s disgusting. If anyone has any recommendations on how to avoid this, PLEASE HELP. I’ve tried wearing two pairs of socks and it didn’t help at all. I’m pretty sure my shoes fit properly, and my stride is okay…my next step is to lubricate my feet, but it sounds uncomfortable and I’ve been putting it off. Anyway…I really do find it so much easier to keep up with consistent physical activity when I can just step out the door and go. I honestly do enjoy the gym some days, but some days I just don’t feel like getting in my car and driving somewhere (or changing clothes in the middle of the work day). I know we always get a mid-March snow storm, but winter really feels like it’s hanging on longer than normal this year and it’s killin’ me.

Dreaming:

Up our next adventure. Since our trip-heavy last year, the travel bug has bitten me, hard. I’m itching to get on a plane and go…pretty much anywhere. I’d love a trip to California (possibly San Diego, or maybe LA?), but I’d also be happy with somewhere a bit closer – maybe south Florida, or possibly the opposite direction to Maine or Vermont. I’d love to plan another international trip – Italy’s #1 on my list, and I’m always down for an all-inclusive, tropical getaway, but we’re in kind of an awkward place where we don’t know if or when I might get pregnant, so I don’t want to plan something big too far out and then have to cancel. We will see!

 

 

 

 

Universal Studios & Our Florida Escape

Oh, hey! I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit since I update The Good Food daily, but I miss having more personal chats! Let’s catch up, starting with our Wizarding World of Harry Potter Trip.

You guys…WE HAD THE BEST TIME. Universal Studios was great of course, but if I’m being honest, my favorite part of the trip was our hotel (which was a resort property) and the time we spent just hanging out.

Since our trip was so short (Friday evening through Sunday morning), we really didn’t think we’d have much time to spend doing anything other Universal Studios, let alone swim or hang out at the hotel. We somehow ended up making the best possible use of our time, though – starting immediately after we checked in to the hotel, at which point we headed directly to the bar, luggage and all, and ordered cocktails. We took our drinks to go and briefly explored the hotel, which included a bowling alley, several bars, multiple restaurants, two huge pools (one of which had a water slide, and I didn’t even see it until right before we left), a lazy river, a huge outdoor jacuzzi, and an arcade. We went up to our rooms to finish our drinks and change, and then headed out to explore City Walk and grab some dinner.

Saturday was (obviously) our Universal Studios Day, and since we were staying at a resort property, we were allowed to enter the park an hour early. Much to Jeff’s distress, we ended up losing about 15 minutes of that time due to a miscommunication about breakfast (he figured we’d eat at the park, whereas I refused to leave the resort on an empty stomach – typical me), but we still ended up easily beating the crowds. It was a chilly day in the low 60s, but coming from frigid Delaware, it felt pretty comfortable by comparison and we were both fine in t-shirts without jackets in the sun.

Upon entering the park we discovered that Jeff had accidentally bought Fast Passes in place of actual tickets – at Universal Studios, fast passes are extra (they actually cost the same amount as the ticket itself, so it’s a pretty steep add-on), but you literally get to skip the line (or rather, you get to walk past the line into a separate queue towards the entrance of the ride). The ticket taker told us we could either keep the fast passes and buy tickets from the ticket sales kiosk, or we could exchange them for actual tickets at the customer service desk. We originally intended to exchange them since this was an over $300 mistake, but the line for the service desk ended up being too long and we decided to suck it up and just buy tickets and keep the fast passes.

Welp…this ended up being the BEST DECISION EVER. Seriously. By the time the crowds arrived at the park, lines for some of the more popular rides were 3+ hours, but with our fast passes, we were on them within 10 minutes. We decided that from here on out, we’d be building fast passes into our budget any time we visit Universal Studios. Highly, highly recommended – especially if you only have one day. We ended up being able to enjoy every attraction we had interest in, with time left over.

The park was pretty much everything we imagined – both Harry Potter worlds were perfect, like walking right into the movies. The rides were great – much more intense than I had predicted, but very thrilling and full of incredible affects. My favorite rides were the virtual reality rides – the indoor ones where you’re strapped in and the drops and spins are simulated. We ate lunch at one of the Harry Potter restaurants (the food was fine, but the standout of the day was the hot butterbeer – I’m still dreaming about it), and ended up leaving the park completely exhausted an hour before close (I think the park closed at 8, so we left around 7).

According to my iPhone, we had walked over 10 miles over the course of the day, so our feet and legs were killing us…but we were determined to make the most of our trip, and rested in our hotel room only briefly before heading back out for dinner. Our original intention was to go back to City Walk for a sit-down meal, but we noticed that despite being pretty chilly, the pools were all open and there were quite a few people in each of them, so we decided to take a quick dip before eating. Well…one thing led to another, and we ended up at the pool bar, talking to some other guests. The pool cocktails came in souvenir plastic tumblers, and we found out that not only could you bring your drinks into the pools/lazy river, but there was a huge hot tub (we hadn’t discovered this yet). Obviously we couldn’t pass up a huge hot tub with cocktails on a chilly night, so we ended up spending several hours in the hot tub, and deciding to order room service for dinner. After retiring from the hot tub (several cocktails in and trying to avoid the hangover of a lifetime for our 6 AM flight), we went up to our room and Jeff ordered pizza while I ventured out into the hotel in search of additional junk food (which I found at the bowling alley snack bar in the form of soft pretzels and mozzarella sticks). We feasted in our room and immediately passed out.

As silly as it may sound, that evening was the most fun I can remember having on vacation in a long time – just being spontaneous and not feeling like we had to follow an itinerary, and relaxing and enjoying each others’ company and chatting with fellow resort-goers. I almost want our next trip to be to another theme park, just so we can stay at a resort property (haha). All in all, it was a trip for the books and I’m itching to plan our next getaway.

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And we’re off!

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View from our room (pardon the glare)

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City Walk at night

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