Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Six Flags Grape Adventure

This past weekend, a few of my fellow female engineer coworkers and I participated in a 5K at Six Flags Great Adventure. While planning, one of the girls learned that there was a food and wine festival being held the same weekend. We figured we'd make a day of it and booked the upgraded safari package, which included a safari tour and wine tasting as well as admission to the food festival as well as the theme park.
The 5K was a fun experience because we got to walk through the park whilst no one else was around and we even got to walk through some of the 'employee only' restricted areas and saw the leftover Fright Fest props as well as the upcoming holiday decor.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Adventure Weekend in CT

Happy Halloween!

This past weekend, I visited my friend H in Connecticut and we had ourselves a nice girls' weekend with loads of pink wine, delicious food, and some adrenaline rush-inducing activities. It was kind of random but loads of fun and I'm v. pleased with how the weekend turned out.
I didn't bring my camera up with me, since I was looking for a low-key weekend, but I wanted to do an iPhone photo dump. I like doing these not just because I enjoy documenting my life on this journal-like platform, but because I have a way to preserve the photos when I need to clean out my phone to make space.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

1 Week in Portugal: Day 7 (Lisbon)

Today's post will be about our final day (plus a few hours) in Lisbon. We decided we wanted to spend the rest of our cash so that day's mission was to do some sightseeing and also do some souvenir shopping.
After breakfast, we hopped right on the metro.

Monday, October 23, 2017

1 Week in Portugal: Day 6 (Lisbon)

For the last two days of our trip, we stayed in Lisbon and did a lot of walking. On this particular day, I think we hit 33,000 steps, or roughly 13 miles and you should also keep in mind that Lisbon is pretty hilly so we were getting the added workout of climbing cobbled sidewalks and sliding back down them.
We ended up exploring a bunch of churches in the morning and then a gorgeous garden in the afternoon. Oh, and we had the best and cheapest lunch ever.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

1 Week in Portugal: Day 5 (Sintra)

One day in Sintra just wasn't enough for us so we hopped back on the train and headed back to that magical town. The morning was a bit cloudy and crisp; it was the first day that we could feel a chill in the air. But I actually enjoyed the relief from the heat and the fog surrounding Sintra was great.
We hopped on the train around 9:30 and it was just as crowded as our previous ride.

Monday, October 16, 2017

1 Week in Portugal: Day 4 (Cascais)

Even though it was October, because Lisbon is so far south, it was still beach weather so we threw on our suits and headed to the quaint beach town of Cascais. It was a pretty short ride and the view along the way was great. We saw other small beach towns and the ocean looked blue and vast from the train.
This place reminded me a lot of our trip to the French Riviera with its pastel-colored buildings, tiled plazas, and palm trees lining the streets.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

1 Week in Portugal: Day 3 (Sintra)

Day 3 was an exciting one because we trekked out to the touristy town of Sintra to look at some castles. The train ride was just over half an hour and it was way crowded but we still managed to snag seats. I recommend taking a train that gets you into town around 9 so that you can get in right when the castles open (9:30) to avoid the bulkiest crowds. We used our viva viagem zapping cards; the rides on the trains that take you out of Lisbon are a bit more expensive.
We did have a bit of trouble finding the right bus stop and a taxi pulled up and asked us if we needed a ride. We negotiated to €15 and made our way to Pena Palace.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

1 Week in Portugal: Day 2 (Lisbon)

Our second day in Lisbon started with a bus ride. The bus line I wanted to use was taking forever to arrive so we walked over to a different nearby bus stop and of course as soon as we did that, the original bus showed up.
No matter though; the vibe of this trip was relaxation and we were in no rush.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

1 Week in Portugal: Day 1 (Lisbon)

A few years ago, my aunt requested that she accompany us on holiday in the year 2017 because she wanted to celebrate turning 60. Originally, she wanted to go to Machu Picchu, but I wasn't keen on going somewhere that strenuous with someone so much older and honestly, I was too lazy to train for the trip. So, I threw out the idea of going to Lisbon and she agreed.

Last week, we embarked on a weeklong vacation to the gorgeous country of Portugal. The trip started off on a bit of a sour note. We had booked a flight for Friday evening with a layover in Toronto and the initial leg of our trip was canceled and we were rebooked on a new flight on Saturday. After an aggressive phone call with the airline, we were able to be switched to a direct flight for Friday night so what started as an annoyance ended up being a blessing.
We arrived in Lisbon several hours earlier than anticipated, which was just the slightest bit annoying because that meant we had to stroll around with our luggage for a few hours before we could check into our Airbnb. However, as I'd encouraged everyone to pack light, it wasn't all bad. And besides, our surroundings were more than pleasant.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Weekend in Philly

Last weekend I went to Philly and all we did was eat delicious food. I did my best to document our meals, but I kept forgetting to take pictures because I'm a fatso and I was too excited and distracted by my own hunger and piggishness.
It was really hot, but beautiful.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hacklebarney State Park

A few weekends ago, we ventured out of our normal comfort zone and went to a new hiking spot. I was in the mood for apple cider donuts so I specifically tried to find a park near apple orchards. We ended up at Hacklebarney State Park.
This is basically just an iPhone photo dump. And there are a handful of extra photos from a few other spots in the Chester area.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

72 Hours in Montreal: Day 3 & Video Diary

I had booked an evening flight home so I basically had a full day to enjoy in Montreal before heading home. I took advantage of the fact that the sun had decided to make a reappearance and spent a lot of time outdoors.
I grabbed another croissant and orange breakfast at the hotel and then checked out, but not before leaving my bags with the staff to pick up before heading to the airport.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

72 Hours in Montreal: Day 2

My second day in Montreal was my only full day but it was the least productive thanks to the weather. It wasn't all bad though because I had an excuse to lounge around my hotel room and watch Canadian Netflix for two hours, which I found indulgent and amazing.
I grabbed a croissant and orange from my hotel for breakfast before heading out. It was actually a bit sunny in the morning so I biked around the neighborhoods surrounding my hotel for a bit before hopping on the metro.

Monday, August 28, 2017

72 Hours in Montreal: Day 1

My little jaunt to Montreal was both a whirlwind and super relaxed. Because I was on my own, I did whatever the hell I wanted. This meant that I pushed myself a bit too far physically when the sun was out (biking up Mont Royal in a defective Bixi bike) and then rewarded myself with leisurely lying around time when it started raining.
The flight was less than an hour, which was amazing, and getting through customs was a breeze.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Willow Oak Flower & Herb Farm

Last weekend, I went to a bridal shower for a friend who lives in DC. The shower was hosted at a beautiful little farm in Maryland called Willow Oak. It was a beautiful little property that was really well maintained and incredibly charming.
The weather was incredibly balmy but only compared to the climate we'd departed from. Apparently, it was actually really nice and we had just missed record breaking temperatures.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Farmers Market

The adorable little town I live in hosts a Farmers Market every Saturday from late Spring through early Autumn. My sister and I have stopped by here and there but now that we routinely pass by the market riding our bikes on our way to the dog park, we've been stopping by more often.

The last time we were there it was drizzly and ugly so we ran to a few booths and grabbed what we needed and then hightailed it out of there, getting soaked on the way home. But, this past weekend, the weather was beautiful so I brought my camera along to take some photos.
I'm constantly sharing trips and outings here but I think I want to maybe start highlighting some of the more day-to-day activities. Just because they're routine to me doesn't mean they're not interesting, right?

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

48 Hours in the Poconos: Day 2 & Video Diary

Our second morning started bright and early. We enjoyed some free hotel breakfast and then hopped in the car to drive northwest to another waterfall-filled hike.
The morning looked gorgeous but again, clouds started to take over by the afternoon.

Monday, June 05, 2017

48 Hours in the Poconos: Day 1

For the long weekend, we decided we wanted to spend a few days hiking with George Michael so we packed our overnighters and drove just a couple hours west to Pennsylvania. We loved the waterfall hikes we did last year so we looked for some more waterfall hikes for this year's trip.
The weather was a bit cloudy, but we didn't mind it because it wasn't blazing hot (which is something we struggled with last year).

Monday, May 22, 2017

Madison Mud: Intermediate Session

For our second session at Madison Mud, we learned how to make sexy vases, nesting bowls, and lidded vessels. They switched up the teacher schedule for this round so we had Anthony, who is an amazing potter and a great teacher.
It was just as fun as the first session. The only real difference was that we now had to start paying firing fees. It forced us to be a bit more selective about our pieces.

Monday, May 15, 2017

DIY Watermelon Painted Dress

I was inspired by the M.i.h. Jeans watermelon-printed clothes from a few seasons ago and I decided to turn a plain white dress into a fun printed dress.

Also, this is a nice DIY in general because you can use the same techniques to transform something kind of dull into something more fun. I used acrylic paint (no need to go out and buy fabric paint) with some mixing medium and water and let it dry completely and left it alone for a few days and then I heat set it in the dryer and it's been great. I love it and I have a list of clothes I'm thinking about decorating.
You'll need:
an item of clothing to decorate
cardboard or newsprint
acrylic paint

Thursday, May 04, 2017

96 Hours in the Keys: Day 4 & Video Diary

May the fourth be with you!

This is my last post for our Florida trip. On our final three-quarters day in Florida, we woke up bright and early so we could head downstairs to enjoy the spa for a few hours.
It was another gorgeous day.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

96 Hours in the Keys: Day 3

On our final full day, we had plans to drive up to Bahia Honda to do some more snorkeling. Unfortunately, the morning trip was canceled and the afternoon trip was going to get us back a bit too late. So, we took the opportunity to set up our pop up tent on the beach and relax and even out our tans.
We were up bright and early with the sun, which meant that our drive was disgustingly gorgeous.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

96 Hours in the Keys: Day 2

We were pretty stressed out on Saturday evening because the weather forecast said that it was going to be stormy and drizzly for our trip out to the Dry Tortugas. We checked in around 7AM (per the directions we received in an email) and asked about the weather. The nice gentleman at the desk said that the radar looked pretty clear and there might be a passing shower or two. This sounded much better than thunderstorms so we were really happy.
Luckily for us, the only rain we experienced was a light drizzle on the boat ride and when we arrived at the island it was gorgeous blue skies.

Monday, May 01, 2017

96 Hours in the Keys: Day 1

This trip to Florida was funded by my sister. She generously gifted me a snorkeling holiday for my 30th birthday so we decided to try and visit the Dry Tortugas again, since last year's trip was canceled by an impending storm.
We had a bit of PTSD associated with last year's weather so this year, we opted to visit just before the wet season but late enough in the spring that it was still really lovely and warm. Honestly, the last week in April is probably the ideal time to go. It's past the peak of spring break so you won't see too many rowdy children or hungover university students, the weather is pretty predictably awesome, and the pricing really isn't too steep.

Monday, April 17, 2017


When I was young, I think I had some nervous habits that most children do. I didn't like to step on the cracks of sidewalks, not because of the adage that I'd break my mother's back but just because it didn't feel right. When I walked on the checkered tiles in our school hallway, I had to make sure I stepped on as many black tiles with my left foot as I did with my right foot or else I felt 'uneven.' I distinctly remember in grammar school, I would go up to sharpen my pencil by the door and I would have to spin the crank an even number of times or I would feel 'off' for the rest of the day.
Some of my friends would describe having similar quirks but I always knew mine were a bit more severe. In the afternoons when my sister and I would lounge around on the couch watching television, she would bring the pillow from her bed so she could lie down. I couldn't bring my pillow because it didn't belong on the couch and I didn't like the idea of my bed being pillowless. If my left arm was itchy, I would scratch it and then also compulsively scratch my right arm because my body craved the symmetry. During dinner, when I'd put my chopsticks down to pick up my spoon, I had to make sure they were properly lined up or else my food didn't taste right.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Electric Biking

Happy April!

I love biking. You might know this already, but I've been tackling city bike shares whenever possible and it's a weekend activity that I've been enjoying immensely, especially since I got a little bike basket for my dog to sit in. Typically, I would just ride around my neighborhood but recently, my sister got a new bike and we started attempting longer rides. As it turns out, having a 25 pound pup sitting in a front bike basket kind of ruins your momentum when you're biking and makes it supremely difficult to bike if there is even the slightest hint of an incline.
So, back in December, I converted my regular beach cruiser into an electric bike. I bought a motorized wheel from Leed Bike, replaced my front wheel (which was super easy) and now I have a little bit of extra help when I'm riding with my dog and for any steep hills when I'm on my own.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Global Entry

I finally bit the bullet and got Global Entry. I had been putting it off forever because I was too lazy to go down to an approval center for the interview portion. However, I read that there would be reduced access to the program (starting February 2017). I don't know how true that statement is but I didn't want to risk it so my sister and I applied on January 31st and got our conditional approval about a week later.
It was a really painless process and only cost $100 for five years, which I think is a good deal. I think there are a few travel credit cards that will reimburse you for the cost. But honestly, $20 a year is barely worth blinking at.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Being Healthy

Since turning the big 3-0 in November, I've been focusing on trying to look and feel younger. I mean, I don't want to be one of those ladies that holds onto their youth in an inelegant way; I don't want to walk around wearing Forever 21 when I'm 45 thinking that I'm hot shit. However, I do want to look as fresh-faced as possible but more importantly, I want to feel youthful.

I despise working out because I don't find it enjoyable. I love hiking and snorkeling and biking and swimming, but these are not necessarily easily accessible activities on a day-to-day basis, especially considering the winters in the northeast are rather brutal and there's also the obvious point that there are no coral reefs around here. I did work out quite a bit in college and for a while after I graduated but when I started traveling for work and life got busier, I lost all motivation.
I've been feeling extra sluggish this past year and a little bit uncomfortable in my own body (which is what happens when your clothes are just a bit too tight). So when work announced that in 2017 we would be reimbursed for gym memberships (instead of a free membership to a gym local to our main office, which is what the previous program was) I decided that it was a sign. This was the motivator I needed to get my ass into gear and start a proper exercise regimen again. I found a gym within biking distance of my house and signed up in early January (to take advantage of the discounts and special offers) and I've been going regularly ever since.

Monday, February 20, 2017

72 Hours in New Mexico & West Texas: Video Diary

My final post for this New Mexico and West Texas trip is my video diary. I had a lot of fun putting this one together because the footage was better than usual, which I owe to the amazing weather and beautiful blue skies we were graced with.
This isn't necessarily a trip I would repeat, not because it wasn't wonderful but because I think I saw all that I needed to see from these towns. However, I love reliving the trip through video.

Friday, February 17, 2017

24 Hours in Texas: Marfa & El Paso

Monday morning we woke up really early, like 5AM early, because we had to. We were driving to Marfa for a tour which started at 11:00 but we were losing an hour due to a time zone change.
We took advantage of the kitchenette one last time and made some egg and sausage croissant sandwiches.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

48 Hours in New Mexico: Day 2 | White Sands

On Saturday morning, we woke up with the sun. Because of the time difference, it was easy to get up and get ready. Despite the previous evening's lightheadedness debacle, we were feeling pretty good.
Our original plans for breakfast were thwarted when we found out that the restaurant was closed on Sundays. However, it worked out because we ended up at a really delicious spot.

Monday, February 13, 2017

48 Hours in New Mexico: Day 1 | Santa Fe

This trip was the exact refreshment I needed. January was a pretty boring month and it was difficult to get back into work mode after a leisurely winter break. I was looking forward to warmer weather, endless sunshine, desert landscape, and getting back to nature.

It was a fantastic long weekend getaway and I highly recommend a visit to this region of the country. It's quiet, beautiful, and understated.
I left work midday on Friday so I could catch a train into the city and meet up with D. Then we hopped on the subway to we could grab the Airtran to JFK.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Madison Mud: Beginner's Session

Just before Thanksgiving, my sister and I signed up to do a pottery wheel class at Madison Mud. My coworker did the early fall session and loved it and brought in some of her pieces. The mugs she'd made were so gorgeous and she was raving about it so much that I decided that I had to give it a go too.

Mel, the owner and one of the teachers, is an amazing lady. She's really business-minded (she owns multiple businesses), she's a crazy talented potter, she's smart, she's funny, and she's really sweet.
The class is lots of fun and you really learn how to make usable, functional, beautiful pieces. I wanted to share some photos I took throughout the classes. Obviously I couldn't take as many photos as I wanted because 90% of the time I was soaked in clay, but I did as much as I could.

Monday, January 30, 2017

new destinations: New Mexico (and Texas)

My friend D and I always try to plan a little friends getaway every year. Last year we went to Arizona and had such a good time that we're tackling a bit more of the American southwest again this year. We're headed to Santa Fe for a few days and then spending a day in Texas and I'm pretty excited. It's going to be a pretty artsy trip (hello, Georgia O'Keeffe!) but I'm also really going to savor being in that amazing desert ecosystem again.
We leave this weekend and I'm super excited. The flights were a bit complicated - we got direct flights there but we have a layover coming back because we're flying out of a different airport - but we managed to score a pretty good deal ($270 each). We're renting a car and driving all over; we had a blast doing it last year so I can't see why we won't love it equally this time around.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Road Trip Checklist

I always thought I wasn't really a fan of road trips because I kind of hate driving (I was the youngest in my grade so I was the last to get my license and was basically chauffeured around for a long time). I actually really love sleeping in cars, which isn't great for road tripping because I think that part of the charm is noticing stuff along the drive, right?

As it turns out, I actually kind of like road trips. I suppose it depends on how you define it, but I qualify a road trip as any vacation that involves spending a decent amount of time in the car. So, that time my family drove up to Ithaca for a long weekend, I consider a road trip. That week in November that we drove around Iceland; that was a road trip. Last year in Arizona, that was definitely a road trip. Sure, some of those required flights that took us to our destination, but once we were there, we did quite a bit of driving so they qualify.
Since D and I are doing another road trippy holiday in a couple of weeks, I thought I would put together a few essentials that I like to have in the car, ways I like to prepare, and a few extras that make road trips more successful and more fun.

Monday, January 09, 2017

How To: Plan a Long Weekend Trip

For years, I was always super keen on taking long holidays. Basically, I always wanted to use 5 or 6 vacation days to spend at least a week abroad. In the past couple of years, however, I've really come to love weekend trips and exploring more of my own country. I read a NYTimes article about vacations boosting happiness and the results indicated that taking several shorter trips actually make people happier than a couple of longer trips.

Why? Because the best part of travel is apparently the planning and the anticipation, which is something I can wholeheartedly understand. I mean, I have a countdown app on my phone which I check daily to see how many days I have until my next trip. I make Pinterest boards to get inspiration for my trip. I collaborate with my co-travelers on Google Docs and we're constantly texting and emailing and chatting about the trip right until we actually depart. I pin cool spots on a travel map. I start an entry in my travel journal. I'm always eager when it come to planning my outfits and making my packing list. There's a flurry of activity prior to the trip, all of which just stoke the flames of excitement.
I still love my longer trips, don't get me wrong, but when there's a cheap flight or when I start to get a bit bored and itchy, it's super easy to run off for a few days.
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