Happy FRI-YAY friends!
What are everyone's plans this weekend? The Midwest weather seems to be finally transitioning into that warmer spring weather and I'm hoping to be able to enjoy some of it! I'm taking the train into Chicagoland this afternoon to see my sis who I feel I haven't seen in ages! See you soon, sis!
I was discussing with J on a topic for the blog and I came up with something I have overlooked amongst the excursions roundup I did! One of our favorite activities to partake on while on vacation is snorkeling (obviously in warmer climates only!). We have been to some incredibly beautiful places where there are some amazing spots to go enjoy some great snorkel and I'd like to share a few with you all!
In the beginning of our adventures, we would rent snorkeling gear at the local shops on the beach or the umbrella crew. However, as we have advanced in our travels, I received a snorkel mask as a birthday present a few years back and Jason utilizes his late Grandfather's set - fins too! I have also acquired snorkel socks to help protect my feet from rocks or possible creatures I shouldn't come into contact with. Click here for my mask and here for my socks! It just made sense for us to purchase our own gear with the fee rentals and sanitary reasons. Another investment that we made was an underwater camera; click here for ours. We bought this when we were in the Cayman Islands. You could also purchase a waterproof phone case - see one that I linked under my "Favs"! Although the underwater camera doesn't provide amazing pictures, it definitely has provided some very unique pictures - see below!
Ultimately, I think that snorkeling is a great excursion that you can partake in in many places! We have gone in not-so-great weather even! Also, it is something that most beaches will offer if you don't have the gear with you! Pro Tip: Locals are great to chat with if you need ideas of where to go and what to look for.
Have a fabulous weekend!
Happy Tuesday, friends!
I am excited about this blog today! I wanted to share my favorite excursions we have gone on thus far. There are some wonderful places out there that we have visited that may not have gotten the full credit they deserve; so this blog's purpose is to help highlight in case some of these places are along the way of your own travels!
In alphabetical order...
What's your favorite place you have ever visited? Or maybe activity on a vacation? We try to snorkel everywhere we can! Stay tuned for a roundup of our favorite spots!
Have a great week!
Happy Thursday, friends!
I hope everyone's week is going well and they see the light at the end of the tunnel with Friday just a sleep away! I had a meeting south of where we live about 2 hours and it was snowing today... it made me dream of being on a beach! That being said, I know a TON of you are preparing for upcoming spring break getaways (jealous) and it gave me an idea of this blog post: what to pack in your bag for your up and coming trip! I've spoken a bit about how to pack a carry on (link here), but I'm going to really lay out my must-haves or tricks on my beach getaways.
Picture credit to Jason circa 2014!
1. The Dual-Purpose Personal Item
My top tip is to make sure your personal item can be used for taking things places when you actually get to your location! I like to pack everything that I would like to take to those places into the book bag already so it's ready to go with taking out just a couple things versus dumping everything out and repacking. I also like to make sure the personal item can withstand sand - isn't it the worst to find sand for weeeeekkkkss after vacation?
Linked one similar to mine here.
2. Water Proofing
When at the beach or by the pool, it's essential to protect your electronic devices from the elements. On the other hand, it's fun to have these knacks for taking videos or pictures under water! We love to use them when we go snorkeling.
Find similar option to ours here.
3. Beach Towel
I always have to bring my own towel to the beach! The hotels that they give out just aren't long enough to my preference. Pro tip: bring a couple plastic grocery bags to pack into luggage for trip home.
Love this option linked here!
4. Book(s) or Reading Material
Vacation is always my time to catch up on reading that I tend to slack on throughout the year. I love a good book and will take several with me on vacation if we are staying at a beach resort.I won't link any here, as book trends and tastes vary, but I will link a similar Nook here if you prefer a lighter way to travel with several reading options! (I bought mine at Target when they clearanced it out and they no longer sell it).
5. Water Bottle (Jug??)
This one is especially important if you are staying at an all-inclusive resort! If you aren't, it is pretty important if you plan on lounging on the beach or by the pool. They will not allow glass by either. Now being how I love buying mugs and water bottles, I have a plenty. However, I have linked a couple different options for a variety of needs.
For the drinker... 48 oz of goodness!- click here.
For the slow drinker... keep the drink cold! - click here.
For the person who spills everything... - click here.
Those in my opinion are the essentials! Few others would include: sunglasses, sunscreen, and a coverup. What didn't quite make the top 5 cut is a portable charger (enjoy the beach!!).
Curious what's in your guys' bags? Leave a comment below!
I wanted to write this article after we got back and of course, as life happens, I've been so busy trying to get back into routine (rather diving head first back into routine!!). So it has been a good 3-4 weeks since we have been back from Europe and I'm starting to get a good idea of what details everyone wants to know about from seeing you all! I thought I would make a 'round up' of these questions to help everyone else out! If there's anything I missed, just comment below and we can chat!
Q: What was your favorite place you went?
A: This is my #1 question I've been receiving and actually I get this a lot in general about all the places I've been! Guys... This. Is. Hard. My usual response is well it depends what you're looking for... Personally Stonehenge was probably my favorite of the trip. BUT that was because I've been dying to see it for a legitimate ten years. I remember studying it in class and my fascination with it was a bit obsessive. And let me tell you - it didn't disappoint! Our tour guide said that a lot of people when they get to the site they comment that it is a lot smaller than they imagined. In my humble opinion, those people didn't deserve to visit it! I think for them it was hard to visualize the actual work, skill, and knowledge that was put behind the whole concept of the site. Also, if you take a look at the picture of J (picture to the left - he is over 6 foot) next to the stone, you can see just how MASSIVE they are. But that's me. My advice: if you want to go see it, buy the inner circle pass, absolutely worth it!! But again, we went to 5 countries and each have their own flavor to offer!
Q: How do you afford to go to all these places?
A: First, (1) we save our money to go places because it's important to us - it's a hobby just like anything else. And (2) we maximize rewards points. Our flights over to Europe and back AND our hotels were all taken care of through points (Jason is a points guru FYI). READ THAT LINE AGAIN. There are so many things you are doing daily that you can be getting rewarded for. My biggest suggestion is if you're still swiping a debit card or paying cash for things, you should switch to a credit card. I know people get intimated by this or say they can't, but I'm here to tell you that I pay my credit card bill off at the end of the month with all the expenses I had in the month - gas, groceries, etc. It adds up! Happy to chat more about this if you'd like.
Q: What was that bone thing you went to?
A: Kutńa Hora! Google Prague and it's in the top suggestions of places to visit. This is actually the name of the town. The actual structure is called Sedlec Ossuary, which is a chapel decorated with human skeletons - yes real human skeletons. Some people love this - others it has turned off when I said human bones. This was my top priority for J and I to go to when in Prague. If you have chatted with me any, there were few things that I told Jason I HAD to go to. This was 1 of (maybe?) 3.
Q: Where did you stay?
A: Well, like I said above, we booked our trip on points. In Prague we stayed at a Marriott, I linked the specific one here. I really liked the location of this one. We were nearby some local restaurants such as Three Pigs (U Trí Prasátek) where you could get traditional cuisine - Pig Knee, yum! Also, there was a mall with a grocery mart right across the street that we grabbed a case of water, breakfast, snack food, and occasionally a sandwich from; we had a mini fridge in our room! Uber was cheap to get to the downtown areas that we wanted to go as well. Overall, I felt we were very central to what we were looking for in Prague.
In London, we stayed in a Hilton brand hotel, as well as in Dublin. London was a DoubleTree - click here for the exact one. This hotel was nice; they had a very nice breakfast selection and since we are Diamond for Hilton status, it was free. Again, nice location. I don't feel there was much to eat around us, but we never really tried. Great walking distance for everything! Don't Uber or Taxi here, take the Tube.
Ireland we also stayed in a Hilton brand, but it was Hilton Garden, click here. It was easy to find from the public bus shuttle from the airport, seemed like a newer hotel, and their breakfast was high above par. Location was very nice, right along the river. Dublin is a bit more spaced out so you will do some walking to visit some locations. For example, from the hotel to Guinness it was 2 miles to walk - but there are places along the way that help you get there.
Q: Where are you going next?
A: We do not have anything set in stone. The only reason we had this one booked so far ahead was because of the points booking. We know we want to go to Machu Picchu (Peru) before we get too far up there in age where our knees hurt too bad (HA!!). On our vacation, we did both say next vacation needs to be a butt in the sand, hand in the drink kind of vacation (relax). We are very much beach people at heart, but love a good historical adventure.
Other common questions were regarding food and if J proposed.. *LOL!* Y'all are funny. Also, yes, it was hard to get back into the routine of things. Jet lag was worse going over to Europe as we jumped ahead time; my sleep pattern was out of control. But coming back I found easier as we had a day flight (versus night flight over there) back and stayed up until (or lasted until, however you look at it) until about 8pm CST, which would have been about 2am there. We landed Saturday evening so slept fine into Sunday and I was awake by 4am CST on Monday so I jumped right into work early playing catch up. Of course then I came down with strep Monday night into Tuesday.... YAY!
Other things: suitcase packing. Yes, we did check luggage. J found that he could have gotten away with a carry-on. I, however, could not have. My sweaters/layers are too bulky and I would have froze. Mind you, we were gone for 2 weeks exactly. And we even went into Chicago a night earlier due to all that awful winter weather we were having! If you're looking for a really awesome hotel by Rosemont, click here. I was blown away by this hotel... Ask J, I don't get very impressed by many things. Think weekend getaway with this - nearby the outlets, obviously in Rosemont area for entertainment events, and there is a Dave and Buster's literally across the parking lot. Easy! Done.
I have a ton of other side-bar comments about places that are worth it or not worth it if anyone is interested or traveling to where we went and actually want my opinion on something - right or wrong, everyone is different! Tips such as London's restaurants shut down on Sundays sooo get your food early (unlike us!) or maybe to avoid the Shard if you don't need another 'city view'. I'm happy to assist where I can.
Have I covered the Europe trip enough? Anything you guys want to see that I haven't blogged about? Leave me a comment! Send me a message on Facebook or Instagram (thanks for all the love when I was out and about)! I love to hear from y'all.
Hello and happy Saturday to all! And happy February (finally).
We are currently in trek back to the US. This trip has flown by and I can’t believe it is already over. Our final stop was in Dublin, Ireland. We only had a short 2.5 days - more like 2 after our flight delay getting there. It was intended to be a “short” stay being that we knew this was a place we definitely would come back to later on!
Day 1: Explore Dublin
Day 2: Excursion (Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, & Cork)
We really wanted to have booked another excursion for Cliffs of Moher. However, being it is the off season and we only had a couple days, we read a lot about if there is even a slight mist going you won’t get the full effect or see the cliffs. There were a few others we wanted to go see too, such as Newgrange, but like I said short stay and we are coming back!
Thanks for following along! I have received numerous messages regarding our trip and I’m happy to help wherever you may need it. Go explore, friends!
We have arrived in Ireland! After a 3.5 hour delay, we made it to our final destination. This trip (holiday) is flying by! I’m reflecting on all the fun we had in London. I’ll keep this relatively short again - just a brief overview of our past few days there. Happy to answer any specific questions any of you may have!
Day 1: Arrived
We stayed in Westminster area so explored this area first! Westminister Abbey, Big Ben (under construction), Churchill War Rooms, The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Wellington Arch, Kensington Palace.
Day 2: London Exploration
St. Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe (original spot as well), Old Operating Museum, Southwark Cathedral, The London Bridge Experience & London Tombs, London Bridge, Monument, All Hallows by the Tower, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, The Shard
Day 3: More London
Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour, Windsor Castle
Day 4: Stonehenge, Oxford, Windsor Tour
Day 5: Paris Excursion
River Cruise, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Lourve Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral
Looking forward to our next adventure here in Dublin! Let me know if you have any suggestions! :)
”Hello from Prague”
Switching up from the string of Disney blog focuses, we have commenced on vacation! J and I are first in Prague emerging ourselves in their culture. I have to say that out of all the places we planned on going to this trip/vacation, the Czech Republic was the place I was most nervous about. I was not sure what entirely to anticipate regarding the language barrier. After just a day of being here, I felt very comfortable. It turns out English is very common; I’m not saying it is fluent, but we have found it is very widely understood and most people can understand it and speak it (pretty dang good too!). It is a blessing that they (most) do, truly. Here’s what our stay has looked like so far!
Day 1: Kutná Hora (Bone Church), Old Town Square
- highlights: Kutná Hora was my TOP priority here in Prague.
Day 2: Walking Free Tour, “Date Night”
- Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, St. Vitus Cathedral, Powder Tower
Day 3: Finish Sightseeing in Prague, Vltava River Cruise
Day 4: Dresden Germany Day Trip
Prague did NOT disappoint. Onto our next leg of the journey... London! Bye for now.
I started writing this blog back in June when I went down to Florida to visit my sister who was doing a summer internship at a university in Boca Raton. Naturally, I HAD to visit her and we planned out a long weekend for me to come down there. She literally had been down there for 2 weeks when I went to visit. LOL. Of course we planned out a trip to our favorite place - Disney World! Here we are in January and we took our annual girls/besties/sister trip back in November down to Disney (again)! I have had a few requests on
details around Disney World travel and things to see/do. I get referred to as crazy because I have been able to hit all the parks in a day. But I’m here to tell you, it’s not crazy if you have a plan! Now, I am by no means claiming to be a Disney expert or advisor. This blog will give you the tips and tricks that we have learned. Besides Kady and I going there 3 times now, my parents have taken us twice; both on a family vacations and I also went down there when one of my best friends did an internship at Disney World! So again, no expert - just learn from my mistakes and good fortunes!
Download the Disney World app. This will give you everything you need built in. It has a running list of your reservation (tickets, hotel, fastpasses, etc.), shows wait times of all the attractions in the parks, you can make lunch/dinner reservations, or you can even order food to pickup! At the end of the day, we like to look at the professional pics that we loaded to our magic bands which links into my account for the app as well.
I think one of the more important parts of going to Disney is deciding what is most important in the trip, making a tentative game plan, and packing accordingly. Now, Kady & I usually do not plan until the day before or even as we are entering the park and getting a feel for wait times. I truly think you first plan on what you HAVE to hit first - like those items that you would be devastated if you couldn't do it. For example, we knew we HAD to get the Seven Dwarfs ride that we haven't been able to hit in Magic Kingdom for the past 2 times we were there. From there you have to just plan on what you can hit next and then fill the space in-between with a show or low-wait ride.
Helpful hint: Disney offers accommodations for those individuals who cannot wait in line. See your guest services the first day and they will make the arrangements for you!
Top Items to Bring:
1. Rain Poncho(s) - it will most likely rain a little bit if you go to Disney World. The mistake most people make is one of two things. Either they leave when the rain should not stop your fun because it will soon pass or they don’t pack their own poncho and overpay at the souvenir shop for one that is marked up 10x.
2. Refillable Water Bottle -this is a must for us, especially depending on the time of year!
3. Snacks - not entirely important for me, but Kady brings some and I know most people don't know you can actually bring snacks in to avoid extra expenses for them and their families. Make sure they aren't melt-able snacks!
4. Bookbag (or fanny pack!) - I think this goes without being said, but.... The wait isn't long to get through this line to enter the park and they make all the rides easily accessible to take these on so do it!!
5. Rechargeable Battery - we always use Kady's that has an awesome battery life/use. Just this time we were able to charge up both of ours to over 50% for 3 days each (so 6 charges for those of you who can't math) and she only lost 1 bar on her battery out of 4. The brand is Blackweb and here's a link similar to hers (it was a gift).
6. Sunglasses - we don't use them because EARS but there were times that we were hurting (even in November!!). :)
Did I miss something? Have questions about something else? Leave me a comment below!
It's been a hot minute. Life seems to sneak up quickly - it's already 2019! Not entirely sure where 2018 went.. Hope everyone had a great time celebrating the holidays in whatever form that may be for you.
As many of you know, my sis and I are complete Disney fanatics! I have been asked so many details about Disney, what we do, what to pack, tips, tricks, etc. that I decided to do mini blog posts to try to cover without exhausting over one large post! ha. So naturally, my favorite first - food!! Kady and I focused heavily on food this past time (November) in Disney. We tried to capture some really insta-worthy pics - sometimes we forgot and just dove in ... whoops! :) Here is the final cut for my top ten must-haves at Disney World! (In no particular order...)
Although that concludes my top 10 choices, here are other notables!
Did something you love not make my list? Share below!
*Note: none of the above food items had tree nuts in them for those of you who have to watch that!
Happy Friday friends!
This blog will be a little dark for a TGIF or what I normally put out here. My grandmother passed away 2 weeks ago, as many of you already know. I received a sympathy card in the mail from one of my closest friends just this week. She wrote that she was sending the card 'late' because she personally feels it isn't the week of the passing // that week of the visitation or burial, but the weeks after that are the hardest. That it hurts your heart whenever you think of the future events that you will never get to share, but you have to hold onto the dear memories that you have made. That's why she sent the card. I'll be frank. I'm standing in my kitchen at lunchtime crying because it has been a week. It seems to be that way anymore. It's been quite a month and even August was kind of rough. There seems to be so many moving parts in my life right now that I have pushed this loss into the back of my mind. We all know that's a way to cope with grief, right? Push so much onto your plate that you forget anything else so you never have to deal with it.
That's how I decided to write this to put out there. I wanted to *pause*. I haven't been able to sleep lately so here I am 1:26am on Friday, September 21. I shot up in bed because I had this thought... I have had so many people send sympathy cards to me, personally, that I had to consult my mother on what proper etiquette was for thank yous, etc. It's different for me losing a family member at this age as the last time I lost a grandparent was back in high school, my freshman year. What was that? 12 years ago? So many of my friends, family, extended family, family friends and so on have reached out and sent their condolences that I wanted to say thank you - so that's where this thought just came into my mind: this is my written thank you to all of you and maybe this will help someone else with something going on in their lives as well.
I just had dinner with my parents tonight (yesterday?) and we were chatting about how the last week has been and so on, normal stuff. We got on the subject of grandma and I mentioned how accepting she was and that has made it easier for me, personally. My grandma has always been the toughest lady. A story Jason and I love to talk about is how one time we had taken her out to dinner, probably Main Street because she loved their Wednesday night chicken special. We brought her over to see our home, as we had just bought it There she sat in our living room, eyes bloodshot, nose running, the works, refusing to get up and out of our house - even though she was clearly allergic to something, probably our cat. To this day, almost 3 years later, it still makes us crack up. Or how about the fact that she lived a whole 2nd life practically making her way without my grandfather in the world with her? Or maybe how she practically raised my aunt, her oldest child, for a year while my grandpa was serving our country? Or that even in her final days she barely used medication because she didn't have pain (and I have no clue how not). I remember my grandma as one of the strongest female figures in my life and someone who accepted her passing to God. She was at peace with it. She was from the moment of her cancer diagnosis. I don't know many people like that and I'm not sure I will ever know someone else like that.
I would describe myself as someone relatively private. So sharing these things feels like I'm exposing myself, but that's what a letter is, right? I want you to know how much it means in the time of loss that so many people share stories of my loved one and how much they, too, loved her. How they loved seeing her at their store or restaurant, hearing about her family, how proud she was of her family, how much they loved her personality which was so candid, how she always knew the happenings in the town, and always had great stories to share. I think that is why, as my dear friend stated, it is so hard in the weeks after because you're left alone. You don't hear those things as frequently and, as time passes, other peoples' lives move on without your loved one and that, my friends, is the hard pill to swallow. That life could possibly move on
So thank you so very much for thinking of me and my family. I encourage you to still share stories of my Grandma with us and with other individuals who have suffered a loss of their loved one. By sharing that memory, you are giving them one more memory to store and one more second where the grievance doesn't feel so heavy. Thank you to everyone who has been so kind to do that in these past 2 weeks. I want to leave you with a poem that I was given when one of my grandfathers passed away. I think it is a good reminder to live by.
If only I knew the last time I kissed you…
Would be the last time I kissed you
Then I would have never stopped
If only I knew that the last time I hugged you…
Would be the last time I hugged you
Then I would have never let go
If only I knew that the last time you told me you loved me…
Would be the last time you told me you loved me
Then I would have memorized your voice and how you said it
If only I knew that the last time I looked at you…
Would be the last time I saw you look at me the way you did
Then I would have memorized you face and how you looked at the person you love
If only I knew that the last time I cuddle with you…
Would be the last time I cuddle with you
Then I would have never left your side
If only I knew that the last time I laid in bed with you…
Would be the last time I laid in bed with you
Then I would have laid there forever
If only I knew the last time I held you hand…
Would be the last time I held your hand
Then I would have never let go
If only I knew the last time I wrestled with you…
Would be the last time I wrestled with you
Then I would have never given up
If only I knew that I wouldn’t be with you forever…
I would have loved you better
I would have spent more time with you
I would have told you I loved you more
I would have hugged you more
I would have kissed you more often and more passionately
I would have tried harder
I would have never taken you for granite
I would have respected you more
I would have better proved to you that I love you more than anything
If only I knew…
An adventurous soul, a kind heart, and a sarcastic mouth. You never know which you will get.