Sunday, January 30, 2011

Trip Planning

I know I've been talking about traveling a lot lately, but it's because I've got the bug.

Camp Nou, Barcelona, 2008
One of my best friends is hoping to study abroad in Argentina this fall, and I've politely invited myself along for the ride. I've mentioned that I don't count the day I spent in Cartagena, Colombia as enough time in South America, so clearly I have to go back. After spending the beginning of this week with two lovely women from Sao Paolo, Brazil, my suspicions were confirmed. South America is for me.

Cartegena, Colombia, 2008

Valencia, Spain, 2008. Tequila "tasting"

So I know when I want to go. I know where I want to go. Now I have to figure out what to do while I am there. Do I only stay in Argentina? Do I try to explore as much of South America as I can? Do I partake in wine tastings and clubs knowing full well that renders me damn near useless the next day? But those are some of my favorite things to do! I started doing some basic searches on TripAdvisor, and I already found horseback riding that I want to do. And traditional Argentinian cooking class paired with a wine tasting. And a vineyard tour. I know I'll want to spend at least a day exploring the historical sites in the city. I know I'll want to travel away from Buenos Aires and see the sites within driving distance.

Valencia, Spain, 2008. Day of the Euro Cup Championship game.

HamFam European Vacation 2007

 So have you ever planned a big trip? I've done several -- as a family we toured Hong Kong & China for 2 weeks (with grandparents), Spain (Madrid, Sevilla, Toledo, Granada, & Tarifa) & Portugal (Lisbon) for 2 weeks, Italy (Rome, Florence, Pisa, Siena, Cinque Terre, Venice) for 10 days, and what I like to call the HamFam European Vacation in which we went Prague, Kutna Hora, Cesky Kromlov, Salzburg, Munich, Fussen, Venice, and then we hopped on a cruise ship to continue our trip to Athens, Mykonos, and Piraeus, Greece and Split, Croatia. My mom is obviously a badass trip planner. I never had to do anything but show up with my bags packed. Not so much this time.

HELP! Where do I start? Any suggestions? Where should I go? 

I can't WAIT to get outta the country again. Clearly, I'm good luck!

PS - Rach... no pressure, but I really wanna come visit you in Argentina! Anyone else wanna come?

Spain wins the Eurocup!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Beachy Weeky

Guess where I am?

Yep, at home with the puppers & the parents.

We farmer's marketed this morning for asparagus and cabbage and fresh oranges, we're Costco-ing this afternoon, and we're having (homecooked, delicious) dinner tonight. And we'll probably hook up the Netflix instant and watch the first episode of the Pillars of the Earth mini-series because my mama's reading the book.

with a group from church. And by reading, I mean I purchased and have carried the book around with me for the last 2 weeks. Maybe I'll actually get some reading and highlighting done while I'm here. Although I'm nervous if I whip out that bad boy, someone will start asking questions. Gram is here, she's known to do that.

Tomorrow I go home and my seemingly endless 2 months of traveling are over. Wanna know what I have to say about that?

Talk to the hand, because that's a total lie! Not sure where I'm going yet, but I have 2 tickets burning a giant hole in my pocket. I've got the travel bug big time.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Things I Love Thursday

The view from "my" office (for the next 2 days)

My pink luggage

Happy Hour at Gordon Biersch with my favorite bartender

My most favorite cruise vacation
This man

Making Shutterfly photobooks
Hanging with these ladies

And these

Monday, January 24, 2011


I don't know if you've noticed (or really, if you care) but I have been doing a LOT of traveling recently! It started with my Christmas trip to Disney, which ended at my parents house in south Florida. Shortly thereafter I found myself in Minneapolis, and I'm currently en route back to South Florida for a work conference that I turned into an extended trip and mini-vacation. Woohoo!

I've posted before about my best tips for preparing to leave for a trip, but never about what I actually bring along. I consider myself a pretty savvy traveler, so I thought I'd share some of my tips here!

1. Bring a camera (and keep it in your carryon!) You never know what will arise that you will want to remember forever!
2. Pack your 3oz or less items in a baggie, and put those in the front zipper pocket in your suitcase. I always travel with mine in the same place, and honestly, I usually leave everything in there post-trip too. For those of you who are traveling weekly or monthly, this may help eliminate forgetfulness!
3. I have toiletry bag that I use when I nanny overnight, and it has turned into a permanent fixture in my bathroom. I have a 2nd tube of toothpaste, deodorant, and face wash that I leave in that bag all the time - that way I can just grab that bag and go without worrying if I am forgetting something!
4. If space allows, bring 2 books. I know when I'm flying, I can blow through a book in the duration of a plane ride, leaving nothing to do during other downtimes. Having 2 books means a little heavier luggage, yes, but also less boredom.
5. Pack an extra pair of underwear. This seems stupid and like a waste, but seriously... you never know what is going to happen. Also, same goes for socks.
6. Wear your biggest shoes on the airplane. Even if they aren't the most comfortable shoes. You aren't walking or on your feet too much at the airport and it will save potentially tons of space in your luggage! I wore rainboots on a plane to/from Minneapolis just because otherwise they wouldn't have made the journey with me :)
7. If you are traveling carry-on only, grab the things you are going to want in-flight and hold them in your arms as your board the plane. I'm talking book, computer, cell phone. Then you can stow all of your bags in the overhead bin and save room under the seat in front of you for your feet. They can always use the extra space!
8. When you get to the gate for your flight, ask the gate agent if there is any opportunity for a complimentary first-class upgrade. Sometimes there is, sometimes there's not, but you'll never know until you ask!
9. Make nice with the person next to you or people around you. I'm not saying you should be that annoying person that chats the entire plane ride, but smile, say hello, make small talk while the plane is boarding. But if homegirl next to you has her headphones in, for the love of all things holy, leave her alone. Small talk can wait for the flight home.
10. Don't panic if you realize you don't have everything. You can always run to a CVS or a Walgreens and get anything you may have forgotten at home!

I hope these are helpful. I am not nearly as seasoned a traveler as others, but I think I've done my fair share and wanted to spread the knowledge!

Happy flying to all of you, I'll be sitting in the middle seat at the front of the plane looking like I'm about to puke. Don't worry, I won't.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dumb Dog

This is my sister's dog, Bailey.

One year ago, my dear family embarked on the roadtrip of a lifetime - Atlanta to Springfield, IL to Des Moines, IA to Minneapolis, MN to Mora, MN to Rochester, MN to Atlanta, GA over the course of 10 days. Did I mention this was in December? Like, the winter? In the midwest? DRIVING through the midwest?

Did I also mention that on top of 4 people, we also brought along 2 dogs? We did.

That picture was taken outside my aunt & uncle's house where we stayed on our last leg of our journey. Originally we were only going to stay from 7pm-7am, but we got up the next morning and our family thought we were staying the whole day. So we did. C'est la vie. We played in the snow and sledded and built snowmen and snow angels and fires and s'mores and did every stereotypical winter snowday thing you are supposed to do that is totally lame when you actually get snow every day for 3 months straight. But we did it all, and I'm 100% positive we all had a BLAST. Plus, my aunt & uncle & cousins are major dog people, so our dogs were right at home. Literally.

Their dog had a toy that they affectionately referred to as "Ellie." It was a stuffed elephant that I think used to belong to one of my cousins. As we all must learn at some point, dogs > kids, so Maggie got to keep the elephant. Sucks. The dog toted that elephant EVERYWHERE with her. "Maggie! Go get ellie!" "Maggie, come inside and play with ellie!" "Maggie, where's your ellie?"

Then Bailey showed up. And straight up STOLE ELLIE right from under Maggie's little nose. My mom made Bailey give ellie back, but as soon as they got back to Florida, my mom instantly started scouring the $1 bins for replacement ellies. And now, Bailey carries ellie with him wherever he goes.

When you come home, not only does Bailey greet you at the door, but ellie does too. And when you go to the grocery store, not only do the two dogs come along, but ellie too. And when you snuggle up on the couch with wine and a pup, you also get to snuggle up with a wet, chewed, ripped up elephant.

Maybe they're good luck? For the sake of all kids out there with toys being stolen by pets, I hope so.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I'm quite the country music buff. I love country music. It's simple, direct, to the point, and somehow you can always relate to whatever the artist is singing about. I work in an office that I share with another girl. We're roommates, if you will, and we're roommates that like to jam out. We started with showtunes on Pandora, but when you are actually working 40+ hours a week, the glory of Pandora runs out real quick. Then we switched to Christmas songs. Now I'm on a country kick.

Voices by Chris Young is one of my current favorite songs. I have no idea why. I just like it. The gist of the song is that he hears "voices" telling him how to live his life positively. One line in the song just really pisses me off because I think it's SO UNTRUE.

"My dad saying quit that team and you'll be a quitter for the rest of your life."

Really? REALLY? False false false. Quitting is acceptable. Making a habit of quitting is not okay. But if you really put in 100% effort and you still want to quit? Go for it. I've quit. I quit volleyball my sophomore year of college because it was a waste of my time. I talked to the coach about not playing in a tournament and he said he forgot about me. How do you forget about the girl who is sitting next to you all day being supportive and cheering on her team? How do you forget about the girl who's parents drove from Atlanta to Auburn to see their 20 year old daughter play volleyball, and who brought team snacks? Yeah, see ya. I didn't feel bad about quitting that.

Not me, but close.
So no, Chris Young, quitting a team doesn't make you a quitter for the rest of your life. Get your shit together.
But Mama tells him to say a prayer every time he lays down at night, and grandma says if you find the one, you better treat her right. I agree with all of that. Totally agree.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Issues, Part 1

So I touched on it when I posted about my irrational, freakish fear of flying. I considered taking time on my flight to Minneapolis to count the number of times I have flown, but I really decided that would get boring because I couldn't remember all of them. Instead I decided to document the number of times I have flown since I turned 18.

34 separate flights that I can think of. 4 of those were across the Atlantic Ocean. I think it's safe to say I've flown 100 times, easily. I still remember the first flight I felt scared on. I was traveling for the first time with a significant other, and we were going to visit his home for the first time. That's enough to scare anyone in the first place. Not me, I was pumped. Then, we got on the airplane, I panicked, and nothing has been the same.

I know I'm not alone in my irrational, ridiculous fear, and as of yet, it hasn't deterred me from flying. I mean, I'm on a plane AS I'M WRITING THIS and I'll get on another one to go home, and then the next week I fly again for work, and I have two more free RT tickets to use this year plus whatever else I decide to do. But man, I HATE the nerves that go along with flying for me.

How do you calm yourself down in situations where you feel totally out of your element and out of control? I distract myself (uhh, why do you think I'm writing a novel about my irrational fear of flying while in flight?), and I sit there and think to myself, "You are better than this. You are not scared, because there is nothing to be scared of. Just because you aren't in control does not mean that the person who is in control is a complete idiot. So snap out of it. You are a better person than this. You have more faith than this. You are not a scaredy cat when it comes to anything. Stop being scared now." And so on. By the time I've finished with my positive personal pep rally, we're usually approximately 40,000 feet in the air and all is well in the world.

It's fine, we all have weird issues. What are yours?

PS - I think next time I travel I'm taking a floo network. Or maybe I'll just disapparate. Harry Potter knows whats up.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cold to Colder

I'm leaving this in Atlanta:

For this in Minnesota:

All to see:

We sure are going to miss:
the other 2!

Have an excellent MLK, Jr weekend, my friends! Here's to hoping I don't die mid-air. It's my biggest, most irrational fear. It involves the fact that I'm not in control, which I have serious issues with. If the pilot would just let me sit next to him....and probably push all the buttons too, just to be careful. Hey Delta, are you listening? I'll ditch Airtran if you'll let me sit co-pilot!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

*tap tap tap* is this thing on?

I'm jumping on my soapbox for a quick minute, mainly because I've been holed up in my house for the last 48 hours with no one to talk to and nothing to do except watch TV, watch really terrible movies that I DVR-ed (3 Men and a Baby, really Katie?) and think about things.

So, what was I thinking about? First and foremost, I thought about how I am going to get this homeboy I met on Friday night to stop calling me and offering to make me homemade ____ (insert whatever food here). So far the offers have been for soup, Mexican, and tacos. Gentlemen, when a woman declines your offer to bring over soup when she is sick, she isn't interested, so you should take a hint.

Then, I started watching Twilight: New Moon  (another stellar DVR pick), and I started thinking about all the anti-Twilight and anti-Harry Potter fans that are out there. So many people complain that it isn't real life, or it's setting false expectations for young girls. So what does Gossip Girl do? Or The Time Traveler's Wife?  or any of Nicholas Sparks' books? Because I'm pretty freaking sure that in real life, no self respecting, popular, too-cool-for-school 17 year old boy would go out with the preacher's daughter.

So then why all the hate on Twilight and Harry Potter? What's the matter with allowing kids (and adults) to let their imaginations run wild? I wonder how many teachers have received essays and books written with plots very similar to those books. But so what? The creative wheels are spinning, and isn't that the point?

So to all the haters...step your uncreative, realistic minds to the left. Wizards and vampires are here to stay.

Monday, January 10, 2011

snow day meal

All weekend the news predicted ridiculous amounts of snow and closures across Atlanta. A lot of times when they predict these kinds of things, nothing ends up happening. Well, not today.

I woke up to this:

Work was cancelled, MARTA buses stopped running, and the entire city basically shut down. Being the incredibly responsible employee that I am, I went to the office on Saturday morning to grab my computer in anticipation for the bad weather, so I was able to work for a better part of today. However, I ate like crap. I had conference calls around lunch time, and I made a pretty big breakfast, so I knew I wanted a yummy dinner. Only problem was, I haven't really gone to the grocery store in approximately...a long time. So while I had most of what I needed, I didn't have everything.

Someone asked me what my favorite thing to do outside was. Wanna know? Going back inside. So trekking 12 feet to Kroger was out of the question. I dug into the depths of my refrigerator and created what I think turned out pretty dang awesome.

I defrosted some chicken wings. I mixed up some honey, some soy sauce, some fresh squeezed OJ and a little bit of garlic. I put the chicken wings in the sauce, added more honey, more soy sauce, more OJ. It wasn't saucy enough before! I stuck the wings on a pan and put it in the oven at 475 for a little less than an hour. They turned out awesome! I made some rice pilaf to go with it and bam - dinner. No fresh veggies with dinner, but I also drank a carrot/celery/orange/lime juice earlier today, so I figured I was okay without veggies for dinner.

FYI, celery juiced = EW. Too bad I bought 2 giant stalks, and good thing my mom sent me 20 pounds of oranges.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Making the Most of Your Google Reader

So, I've had quite a few people ask me how in the world I followed all these blogs and connect with people. How do I remember where I went, and how do I keep up with them?

Let me introduce you to my best friend, the Google Reader. Just like with Gmail tricks, I'll take you on a little Reader tutorial complete with pictures so you can fall in love, too.

1. In Gmail, click at the top right of the screen on the link that says Reader. I circled it in red. I also left my ESPN Bowl Mania page open because I'd like it to be noted that I am currently in 4th place. I'm beating most of my friends and I love it.

2. This is what my  Google Reader looks like. If you haven't set yours up, then under the big Home page on the right, there won't be anything except suggestions from Google. On this homepage, you'll be able to see most recent posts, how many new posts there are, and find posts that you have starred or shared. You can also see on the left-hand column names of people you follow and things they have shared.

3. To start adding blogs and RSS feeds to your Reader, click on the top-left "Add A Subscription" button, and copy/paste the link to the blog or RSS feed into the field. Click Add, and voila. If you scroll down a little further in the column on the left, you'll see the name of the feed. You may want to change it, or you can leave it the same. Up to you.

4. As you follow more and more blogs, you'll find, or at least I found, that it was easiest to sort them into folders. My folders are Atlanta, Design, Entertainment, Foodies, Friends, Mommy Blogs, Money, Crafts, and Wedding.

5. To add a subscription to a folder, you'll see downward pointing arrow to the right of the blog title. Click that, and at the bottom of that list you should notice an option for "New Folder."

6. Type in the preferred name for the new folder. After adding so many blogs recently, my folders could use a bit of a makeover. Then, voila. After you've made all the new folders you want, you'll be able to just drag and drop the blog names into the correct folder. That way, if you only want to look at wedding blogs at a certain time, you can just let the entries pile up unread and browse all at once.

The world is your oyster with Google Reader! It's a great way to keep track of the blogs you follow, star important tips or tricks you want to remember, and share blogs you read with friends. So hop to it, young grasshoppers! I hope your blog-reading days are immensely simplified!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It's the Little Things

  • An email that says, "Anyone attending the staff meeting (and I hope that is everyone) is welcome to wear jeans and more casual clothing this Friday.  You can still attend the staff meeting if dressed in normal business casual attire, however don't wear jeans if not at the staff meeting!" I LIVE FOR THIS DAY, and this is the first time it's happened since I started. What do you think they'd say if I also rocked the cowboy boots? Too much? Ok.
  • A phone call from my gram to tell me that Princess-to-be Katherine Elizabeth Middleton sounds an awful lot like Kathryn Elizabeth insertmylastnamehere and that she did a double-take when she heard that on the news because she thought maybe, just maybe, I was keeping this giant secret from her. Grams, I wish.
  • Cooking pita pizzas (1with cheese, 1 with pepperoni) and not being able to stop thinking about them until you meet again.
  • Realizing that the person you thought was "a friend of a friend" is really "a friend"
  • Having someone tell you, "You are so lucky to have such awesome friends."
  • When Itunes is on random play and the best song ever comes on and you can turn it up really loud and sing along because your officemate is traveling. Just me? Oh well, it's the truth. *NSYNC for life.
  • Realizing that I don't have ANY plans after work.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Magazine Mania

I am a magazine-a-holic. I love them. I love reading them, ripping pages out of them, getting ideas from them, and I love that they fill my snail mailbox with something other than my American Express bill. I have a whole notebook of recipes that I've clipped, and another notebook of "inspiration" clippings, ranging from gorgeous engagement rings to a really great haircut to workout tips.

All of that being said, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to tell ya'll about a GREAT deal on 4 magazines - Taste of Home, Get Shape, Men's Fitness, and Every Day with Rachel Ray. A dear friend sent me an email with a link here, where you can choose a subscription to any of those magazines for $3.99! I love it!

I can't wait to see what Rachel Ray has in store for me over the next year... what are you going to get?
I am not a coffee person. I remember my sophomore year of college, my roommate & I decided it would be really smart of us to split a bottle of diet pills. Let me just tell you, I have never seen 4am more times than when I was taking those pills. However, it should be noted that they were the best hangover cures I've ever seen. Instant energy, for the win!

I'm a water drinker - always have been. But my new office has this really fancy cappucino machine that makes lattes & cappucinos (duh) & decaf coffee's and something called kaffe...and all I've been able to use it for is hot milk to put into my Swiss Miss. I felt so lame.

Not anymore. I was complaining to my very European boss today about how I felt left out of the coffee world and I wanted to find something in that damn machine that I liked. I tried all of them this week and BLECH! So what does he do? He puts hot chocolate in the cup, hits the latte button, and VOILA.

Heaven on earth is born. Photobucket

It tastes like caffeinated hot chocolate, and I even used the fat free/sugar free Swiss Miss.

I'll never be sleepy at work again consdering that is all I have had to drink and I'm jittery and have gotten approximately 7 hours worth of work done in the last 30 minutes.

Cappucino machine, I officially love you.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Top 10 Thursday -- Sup 2011?

December was awesome, hands down.

2. Work Christmas party with one of my best friends!
4. Outback & Harry Potter with the boys.
5. Soup night.
6. 2 free plane tickets!
7. Christmas at the beach
8. My roommate getting engaged! (technically I found out in 2011, but it happened in 2010!)
9. LT Christmas Party

2010 went out with a bang -- hopefully 2011 will keep kicking it. I love the new year and everything it brings with it. December, as Hilary Duff would say, you're so yesterday. I'm jammin' with January!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What Time Is It?

I'm going to blog this week about stuff I like. I may keep blogging about that beyond this week, but for now...
I need this in my life. I'm obsessed with the Michael Kors version, but really - it's out of my price range. I wear a watch every single day, and it is inevitably going to get scratched up and sticky and really, there's no reason for me to drop a couple hundo for that.

But Fossil? Fossil has stuck with me through thick & thin, so when I stumbled across this bad boy I knew I had to have it. I got my first Fossil watch for my Confirmation when I was 16. Random present, I know, but I loved it and have bought the same watch again!

The best part? I have post-Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Another Hot Tip!

Ya'll know how I feel about nail polish. It's a growing obsession.

So what do you think I did when I found out that Zoya nailpolishes were FREE today and all I had to pay was shipping? Um, duh. I got 3. (Because that's the max you can get, FYI.)

So here's the deal: You have to go & like Zoya on Facebook. I guess you don't have to, and you really know how I feel about liking things on Facebook, but I feel like you're kind of cheating if you don't do it. You can always hide them after you do it!

Then, you go to their website and cross your fingers that it will load for you. Then you pick your three colors you want to buy. Then you put them in your cart, enter all your shipping information, and the most important part: enter code FB2011. That will change all your polishes from $7 to free! Then you're all set - just sit back and wait for your pretty nail polishes to come in the mail for a whopping $2.33 a piece. Nothing gets me more excited than a good deal.

What colors did you buy? I bought Dea, Uli & Tiffany. I didn't even think to look for a Katie -- if I had, I hope it was a really pretty, summery dark pink! What would the color with your name be?