Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vacation Discrimination

I'm officially coining the term "vacation discrimination". I have experienced it and it is real. It is when people judge you or hate on you for having cooler vacations than they have. Here's an example from yesterday:
Work announced some major cuts to our benefits that will hurt my already weakly padded wallet. I mentioned this to someone and got the response "you have had more international trips in the last year than anyone I know so I don't feel bad for you". Really??
Travel is a lifestyle choice. Some people spend a lot of money on fancy cars or clothes or designer purses. Some people go out for decadent meals. Others drink their money away at the local pub. A lot of people my age have children who cost a lot to clothe and feed. I don't have or do any of those things. I prioritize seeing new places and making memories that way. Why is it acceptable not only to judge that choice but to verbalize it to me?? Do I say, "Hey, nice khakis! Bet those cost you a pretty penny. Just for that, if you have to join the working poor, you won't get my sympathy!"? No, because the way we spend our money reflects our values and the ways we rejuvenate ourselves. Who says my values have to match yours?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hostel or Hostile?

I learned something very important this weekend. Hostel hopping would never have suited me. In fact, it made me quite cranky.

This weekend I hiked Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts with some friends that I normally train for triathlons with in the summer. At the summit, there is a lodge. Bascom lodge, to be exact. We had a bunk room reserved for Saturday night so we could hike up, sleep, then hike down. Somehow I missed the detail about all of us sleeping in one room in the first place, though I did come prepared with my handy travel sound machine. Apparently, when my friend made the reservation she was told that our group of 8 would have the room that could accommodate 10 booked just for us. When we arrived, though, we had two strangers in our room. This meant the sound machine was no longer an option. Additionally, in trying to be considerate of them, we went to bed on their schedule, which was way too early for this night owl.

Trying to get any sleep through the night turned out to be the biggest adventure of the weekend! Without the sound machine, I used my Ipod to listen to ocean waves but when the track ended each hour, it went right into Hawthorne Heights and woke me up. Every hour! There was also a baby (who brings a baby to a hikers lodge??) who cried in the middle of the night in the next room. Plus, with 10 women in bunk beds in one room, every toss and turn came with the requisite creaks, there were lots of bathroom visits through the night and we found out at least two ladies snore and one was rather chatty in her sleep.

Being the light sleeper that I am, this whole scenario did not bode well for me. When I got home last night, I legitimately passed out, face down, on the couch. An hour and a half later, when my phone rang, it was tragically difficult to even lift my head to find it to make it stop. Fast forward to Monday morning, where I now sit on my couch in a zombified state while I should be at work. I feel like I got hit by a bus. (Had to pause to yawn). I think I will go crawl back in bed now.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Blue Lagoon this weekend?

How magical does this sound??? A Midsummer Night Walk and Live Music on a Mountain and at the Blue Lagoon? An easy moutain hike, a campfire, live music and the amazing blue lagoon (which I will post pics of asap from a different computer). If you are even remotely considering a trip to Iceland....GO!! The landscape is just magnificent. It's such a unique place. It was green before being green was cool and the natives are all so proud of their country, which I adore. More to come on Iceland soon but I wanted to get this out in case you still need to make your weekend plans:) I will be hiking Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts this weekend so stay tuned.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Lovin'

Tuesday marked the official start of summer, thank goodness! Of course, in the Northeast, that means the lovely weather left town and was replaced with rain. Mother Nature knows we are sarcastic in New England so she likes to play little jokes on us like that.
The start of summer apparently inspired the Dirty Dancing page on Facebook, which in turn inspired me! They posted something about summer love/first love, asking readers about their experiences with it. If you think about it, there are a ton of movies that have this as a theme. The most obvious, from the title of this post, is Grease but for some reason I am also conjuring up Uncle Buck. So random!!
So did you ever have a summer love? A crush that only lasted as long as the warm temperatures?
Let me entice you to share with an embarrassing story about myself.......
When I was like 10 I went to Lake George, NY with my best friend and my family to visit an amazing amusement park they had there, The Great Escape, and to hit the beach. Me and my friend, clearly inspired by Dirty Dancing (only about 3 years old at that time) and the like, MADE UP boyfriends who we named Ricky and Richie. PS-they were supposed to be brothers. See the problem there? Ricky and Richie are both nicknames for the SAME NAME. Of course, being 10, we didn't think of things like that. I think it only occurred to me about a year ago as we laughed at the memory.
Ok, your turn!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Belated Quahog Day!

Although quahog day came and passed yesterday, this link provides information about other upcoming activities on Cape Cod this week. What's on the calendar: on Thursday you can compete to eat the most stuffed quahogs in 90 seconds or on Sunday you can attend Chowderfest at the Cape Cod Melody Tent.

Admittedly, I had never heard of quahog day until last week when the Cape Cod facebook page started teaching me how the Cape has an "official" quahog named "Doug" (get the pun here?) who predicts the weather at the beach for the summer. He is the Puxatawny (no idea how to spell that) Phil of mollusks!

It's just cute. Having just been "down the Cape" this past weekend, I really wish my timing had overlapped to see this self-proclaimed star-studded event. Community festivals and local traditions are some of the most fun activities to stumble upon, especially when they are as quirky as a quahog turned meteorologist:)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Girlfriend getaways.....do we have to go shopping?

 I kind of hated this article, to be honest. I struggled with whether or not to share it but, here goes....
Frommer's article on girlfriend getaways
What I love: I think traveling with girlfriends is a fabulous idea. My experience is that traveling with your partner/gf/bf/spouse can be romantic and enrich the relationship and is wonderful. It's also expensive for two people dipping into the same budget. While this kind of travel clearly has it's place, I really value my independence and am super lucky to have a spouse who understands and supports my need to have a life that is sometimes separate from him. I have lots of friends and hobbies, which only makes me a more interesting member of our partnership.
Going away with one girlfriend is fun and relaxing but once you make the group 3+, you have a posse. Female posses are nearly invincible. The fun grows exponentially if you pick the right travel buddies (more on this later this week). Girl troops cheer each other on to amp up the fun, calm each other down to smooth things over, and can share hair straighteners so you get to pack less:) Therefore, I love when I see articles on women traveling together. It's a solid idea.
What I don't love: Why do women have to get pegged into wanting spa trips and shopping excursions? And do all men really want to play golf? No. I like the parts of this article that highlight different interests-adventure, surfing, the beach, women's only trips. I don't love that those come after the trips that list cooking lessons. I'm sure this is just the feminist part of me flaring up. To be fair, the article does cover lots of different interests. Also, I'm sure these stereotypes are out there for a reason. I guess I just hope I never want to go on a trip with my girlfriends so I can buy a new purse.....
PS, I feel really guilty not loving something Frommer's-esque as they are my go-to travel guide. So, for the record, I <3 Frommers.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A weekend by the Sea

The weather on Cape Cod was amazing this weekend! After experiencing 4 days of rain on Magaluf beach in Mallorca, Spain a couple weeks ago, I was not encouraged Friday night when it started pouring on my first night in Dennisport. Me and my soon-to-be-married friend (from elementary school! hooray for deep roots!) sat in a quintessential seafood shack sipping clam chowder (yes, pronounced chowda in these parts) and munching some very yummy onion rings while it just dumped down rain. Thankfully, Saturday we woke to clear skies and moderate temps. Our very affordable hotel had a private beach that we chilled on all day and it was lovely.
Have you ever read the Bernstein Bears book "too much birthday"? That's kind of how I felt last night. Too much sun + too much fun and I was down for the count last night. It afforded me the opportunity to see the movie the Bucket List, though. Have you ever seen it? I super enjoyed it-great lessons on living your life to the fullest and seeing the world. It was a bit of a silly scene, though, as the bachelorette slept and I cried, watching the end of the movie in a hotel room.
I really think it should be June in Massachusetts at all times! The windows are open, the birds are chirping, there's not an ounce of humidity in the air, and we ate dinner on the deck.
I hope you all had as relaxing and glorious a weekend as I did!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just a minor setback...

Just a minor setback in the stress-less initiative, that is. Although I wrote about stressing less yesterday, it has actually been an unnamed resolution in my life for a few weeks. Therefore, it's actually less bad to have a set back today than it seems. It's not like I just came up with the plan to be less stressed yesterday and here I go, the next day, failing. I guess from the tone of this intro, though, that you can sense that failure. I'm kind of manic.

My pants are too tight today so I'm feeling a little less sassy. My hair is too flat. It's a stunning day outside and I'm locked at my desk, watching people in bathing suits at the water park through my window. Surely, it's just minutes until the ice cream man shows up to rub salt in my wound. Clients at work decided to burst forth with creative problems yesterday, spilling into today. I have to work a 12 hour day. I feel pretty guilty about eating Chinese food three days this week. Peking ravioli are kind of my new obsession.

Here's the good news: Last night I went to a comedy show and laughed until I cried. I particularly recommend a young comedian from Providence, Rhode Island named Daniel Martin. This weekend I am going to the Cape, aka Cape Cod, for a girl's weekend/mini bachelorette party for one of my best friends. That is something fabulous to look forward to. So, hopefully today's setback is just for the day. As my favorite leading lady, Scarlett O'Hara would say, "After all, tomorrow IS another day".

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stress-Less Initiative

I have to admit that part of holding on to my vacation glow is about not really committing back to my "real" life. Monday night was the first time there were no dirty dishes in the sink. I only partially cleaned the house over the weekend and there are still some areas that deserve attention. I have yet to find my work cell phone and I even forgot the keys to my desk on Monday, rendering me fairly useless much of the day.
This is all part of my new stress-less initiative. Why does the American culture make long work hours, high stress, and dissatisfaction with __________ (fill in the blank with anything from your body to your marriage) the norm? The expectation?
I'm becoming a rebel. I'm fighting "the man" on this one.
I am thinking of this vacation glow now as more of a lifestyle change. You know how when people go on a diet, they fail and fall back into old eating patterns? What works is when people learn about nutrition and find exercise they enjoy for something more than losing weight. That's how I feel about my stress-less policy. If I think of it as a temporary shift post vacation, it sets me up to lose it at some point and fall back into the rut of being stressed out too much of the time. However, if it's a lifestyle shift, it becomes a new way of life.
This is just day one of this rant, be forewarned:) And I found a very viable option for my next trip online today.....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Food for thought.....

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
- Lawrence J. Peter

Monday, June 13, 2011

Concert at Fenway Park

I didn't write much this weekend because I was at the lovely Fenway Park in Boston watching hometown boys New Kids on the Block rock it. It poured so hard on us that clothing in the car wasn't even an option. And the New Kids, along with the Backstreet Boys and an amazing guest appearance by Naughty By Nature, were sliding up and down the stage like it was a slip and slide. Incredible night!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tortilla Espanola

The Spanish Tortilla Is the Best of All Omelets - Fine Cooking Recipes, Techniques and Tips

I'm a super picky eater, which can be a hindrance when traveling. Tortilla Espanola was my go-to food in Spain. It's eggs, potato and onion that come looking like a slice of pie. It looks like the lovechild of an omelet and a quiche. I haven't tried this recipe yet but hope that by putting it up here, I will hang on to it and give it a go very soon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Magaluf Beach

As the thunderstorm warnings continue in my neck of the woods, I thought I would daydream a little about where I was last week: Magaluf Beach in Mallorca, Spain.

Molehill out of a Mountain

Remember this post showing a mountain of snow back in Januaryish? Here's an article in the local news 5 months later!! http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/features/x1166552870/Snow-pile-slowly-goes-from-mountain-to-molehill. It's still there!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Hulk joins the Interview

At work today we interviewed a potential new coworker. After, we all gathered in my office to weigh the pros and cons.  My coworkers commented on how I still look so relaxed so I said it was because I brought home a little souvenir and I pulled up a picture of a young man on the beach who called himself Hulk, flexing.  I kept him on the screen while we talked about the girl and every once in a while we would look over to him and ask "Hulk, what do you think?". It really lightened everyone's mood.....

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Guest Post! Is it sausage? Is it grits?

Sarah, author of the blog "I mean really happy" is a guest blogger today! Sarah is an amazing mother of three little ones (including twins!). She is a superwoman who makes her own granola, her kids clothes, and even a teepee for them. She and I met at BYU my freshman year and she has been amazingly non judgmental and loving over the last decade plus. I love her story about travel......enjoy!

 The thing that I like about travelling to new places is that it humbles me.  I usually think that I have life and people and stuff all figured out, but it's nice to know that this is not the case.  People are living lives quite unlike mine and they're happy and I'm happy and we're all good.  One experience that I had in a Jackson, Mississippi Wal-Mart made one of these differences very apparent.  I will write it in play form so you can act it out with your friends and family.

Me: (approaching Wal-Mart employee)  Excuse me, do you have tofu?

Wal-Mart Employee #1:  I'm sorry?

Me:  Do you carry tofu? 

1:  I'm sorry, is that a food?

Me:  (somewhat embarrassed)  Yes, it's made of soy, it's a vegetarian-type product.  It's white, and comes in a little white box with water surrounding it.

1:  Hmmm, I may have to call someone on this.

Me:  Okay, sorry.  It's usually in the refrigerator section.  [at this point I am beginning to realize that I am the problem- I mean, why didn't I just look near the produce instead of by the vast carnivorous stretch of turkey necks and pigs' feet?  I do not know]

1:  (gets on his walkie talkie- some confusion about the purpose of the call ensues)  Okay, Linda will be here in a minute, she's just in cereals.

Me:  Thank you

Linda:  Now, what is it that you all are looking for?

Me:  Tofu

1:  We have some vegetarian-type products in the frozen foods- sausage and such.

Me:  It's a vegetarian food- it's white and packed in water in a white plastic box.  It's refrigerated.

Linda:  Now, I know that you're telling me that it's a food, but what type of a food is it?  I mean, is it a sausage?  Is it a grits?

Wal-Mart Employee #2:  (sidling up)  What is it that you all are looking for?

Me:  Tofu?

#2:  Oh yes, we have tofu.  It's in the produce section.

Me:  (thanking #1 and Linda- but forgetting to say sir and ma'am)  Well, I don't know why I didn't look there first.

#2 was very helpful in the tofu search, and after some confusion between it and the won ton wrappers, Lucy and I were able to leave Wal-Mart with our vegetarian protein source in tow.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hold on to that Feeling!

Do you know what song that line is from? I will reveal the answer at the end of this post:)

In line with the vacation glow post from yesterday and how to hold on to it, we actually spent some time talking about this in one of my meetings at work today. Just being able to right that is pretty cool-that I work someplace that thinks that's a valuable commodity worth discussing as a group.

I thought I would share some of the ideas that popped up:
Each day, instead of writing a to-do list, write a "done" list to show what you were proud of doing that day.
Keep a gratitude journal. Write three things each day that you are grateful for. It helps you focus on the good stuff in your day instead of the bad. I did this for a while and found myself being grateful for landscapers planting tulips for me to look at. Kinda extreme Pollyanna but a great sentiment, nonetheless.
Keep a more stringent work schedule. 8 hours. Don't be proud of yourself for being stressed out. Don't buy into the culture that it's cool to work 12 hour days and be stressed out all the time.
Take local trips. Sightsee in the city nearest you!
Remember that work is just a job. Even if it's really important work. Save a little something for your life with your loved ones and your hobbies.
Focus on the ways your job is easy, not the ways your job is hard.

Not bad for a Monday and my first day back at work after a two week-first trip to mainland Europe-fantasy getaway, eh?

Oh, I almost forgot to post the answer the trivia question! It's from Don't Stop Believin'

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Back to Life, Back to Reality

I don't even like that song but I hope I got it stuck in your head. I believe we all have a song stuck in our heads at all times. For example, I had Karma Chameleon stuck in my head for the entire four years of high school. What's in your head right now?
So I'm back from my travels. Hubby thinks it's a little sick that on my first night back I revealed my plan for my next European adventure and how I would fund it. I already have two local trips planned this month and two more over the summer, plus Bermuda in September. That should keep me going for a little while.
For Europe, my to-do list is as follows: England, Ireland, and France. Not necessarily in that order because it kind of depends on who wants to join me, which will shape the theme of the trip. I also want to look into Amsterdam.
I say all of this to avoid the subject of the inevitable: I must return to work tomorrow. This is the point where I try to take all my vacationess and apply it to my real life. How can I best hang on to the relaxation? How long does your vacation glow usually last?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Where in the World Day 13

13 days away?! Oh my!
Today we are leaving the lovely island of Majorca and the beaches behind to fly to Madrid. We only have about 24 hours here so we have a lot to cram in!
Hot spots on the itinerary today include Las Descalzas Reales, Basilica de San Francisco El Grande, Palacio Real and Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Almudena, Plaza Mayor, Puerto del Sol and Cava Baja.
On Friday we will fly from Madrid to London to Boston!
Home again, home again, jiggedy jig.