Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kinda Random...

As much as I have neglected my own blog in recent months, I have kept up on reading my favorite blogs every day. Recently, I was reading a post by Amanda over at oh my little dears about her day of small, random acts of kindness.  She and a friend taped a $2 dollar bill to the ground, wrote "A Treat For You" in chalk near by, and even sprinkled some star confetti for good measure.  Next, they sat back, waited, and watched.  The story of what happened next is pretty interesting, so check it out!

Read the post here

Her post inspired me to want to do something as well. I think I've decided that I'll start simple with buying a coffee for the next car in the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru this week and build from there. Have you ever done a random act of kindness? Did you stick around to see what happened?

Until next time, travel on...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hidden Gems

Do you ever stumble upon a place when you are traveling that leaves you feeling just so lucky to have found it?  Maybe it is the little restaurant with a crumbling edifice, but an awesome vintage interior, or the quirky museum of spoons in a small town that doesn't even charge an admission fee.  Sometimes there are special surprises to the adventures you take.  For me, the adventure of blogging has brought great hidden gems my way too!

Through blogging, I have gotten closer to in-person friends who live nearby and I have made new friends who live in Bloggy Land.  One such bloggy friend is the one and only, terrifically fabulous, Kenz!  Kenz writes a blog all about not being afraid to try your hand at DIY-work around your home. 

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We get to follow her adventures of smashing down weird half-walls, constructing a cozy reading nook under a staircase, and she even shares the oops moments too (the time she mistakenly taped herself into a completely sealed tent of spray paint fumes!).  She always makes sure to include lots of pictures so you can see the project unfolding.  These pictures from time to time have two of the most handsome studs I've ever seen captured in the shots.  These two boys each have their own personalities, but they do have at least one thing in common - they love Muddy Paw treats!

personalized easy DIY tree skirt and stockings - red white & burlap

Kenz has two awesome dogs named Indy and Buster.  Last year, she won a giveaway that earned her pups some of my very own treats from The Muddy Paw. Now, she is hosting a giveaway on her blog, Interiors By Kenz!  Go check out the giveaway post here, oh and ah over the cuteness that is her two fuzzy furballs, and read the rest of her fun blog!

Until next time, travel on...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Work In Progress - February Resolution

Lo and behold, February is here, which means it is time for me to make another monthly resolution.  First up though, let's take a quick look back at last month - using my phone less while driving.  

I had a chance to work on this every day and I admit, it was harder than I expected and I certainly slipped up a few times.  Even though I wasn't perfect, I was so much more conscious of being a safe driver and keeping my attention on the road.  It was really helpful to have this single goal to focus on for the month and overall, I feel pretty successful.  Hopefully, it can be a habit that will I keep improving on over time.

Next up, this month I want to make sure I am the most authentic me that I can be.  It has always been tough for me to not compare myself to others.  I notice the girl with the straighter, blonder hair and the cuter,more expensive clothes, the fellow commuter with the sleek, German import car, the classmate who earned a better grade, it goes on and on! But for 28 days, I'm going to embrace being me in all it's glory.  I guess it is sorta like being my own valentine this year (don't worry Mr. C - you're still my valentine too!).

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So, what does this mean? This means I will walk around my office sans-shoes.  I will sing Carrie Manolakos' cover of Creep by Radiohead terribly off key.  I will insist on hugging my dog even when he is in a spazzy mood.  I will eat chocolate way too early in the morning.  I will continue to "forget" to bring water to bed and take Mr. C's instead. I will pick off my nail polish just days after putting it on.

And I'm going to love every, single minute of it.  So there world, get ready for me!

What makes you, you?

Until next time, travel on...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sights and Bites #4

Looking for a fun weekend away, maybe with your family, gal pals, or significant other?  The city of Providence, Rhode Island is a great place to explore for a few days. The city offers shopping, culture, sports, and history.

When I visit Providence, I really enjoy staying right off of I-95 near the state capitol building.  If I'm going budget friendly, I tend to choose the Courtyard Marriott, but for more of a splurge, I love the Biltmore.  This historical icon of Providence has been in business for almost 100 years and after an interior remodel in '06, it is ready to take on another 100 years of visitors.  The Biltmore name glowing on the Providence skyline is one of the first things that comes to mind for me (and many others) when thinking of this city.

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Once you have settled on a place to stay, go explore the unique and varied shops on Thayer Street. You'll find cafes, specialty gift shops, hipster clothing stores, and other spots that fill up the blocks of this college-y part of town (college-y is a word right?).

Next up is finding a solid lunch to energize you all afternoon long and I recommend Geoff's. This tiny, chaotic sandwich shop is down the hill from Brown University and R.I. School of Design, placing it away from the heavy traffic of Thayer Street, but certainly not keeping away its customers.  This busy, no-frills shop is lined with chalkboards that list all of their different sandwich creations from top to bottom.  Geoff's exudes a little bit of "what are you looking at " attitude yet still boasts nice customer service. 

There are probably 50 different types of sandwiches available and they all are named anything but your typical "Ham and Cheese" or "Reuben on Rye."  The employees seem to love shouting out the funky name of your sandwich upon it's completion, getting particular joy from naughty names like the "frigid bitch" or the "sloppy ho".

If you want something more substantial, check out the Federal Hill area.  Atwells Ave is lined with tons of different sit down restaurants and some neat architecture.  There are also a few good bakeries that always catch my eye as I walk down the street with their big window displays of cakes and pastries.  Parking here can be a bit hard to find, but most restaurants offer valet parking to lessen to hassle for you. 

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During the summer and early fall months, I highly recommend ending your day with something called Waterfire.  The river that winds through the downtown area is dotted with giant, cauldron-like firebowls.  These get filled with split logs of wood and are lit at sundown.  People line the sidewalks, bridges, and grassy areas to relax and take in the beauty of the fire that seemingly floats on the river, the smell of wood as it crackles and pops, and the sound of the music played in the background. 

WaterFire Aerial (Photo by David Amadio)
via here

I love to bring a blanket, set it down on a grassy hill and get settled in for a relaxing evening.  To go with the blanket, I always pack some cheese, crackers, grapes, and wine to make the night a little more special.  High romance for for a zero dollar admission fee!

If Waterfire sounds a little too lovey-dovey for you, how about checking out the Paw Sox?  The Boston Red Sox's Minor League team plays in Pawtucket, RI, which is just a short drive away from Providence.  The tickets are reasonably priced and you can choose to sit either on the grass past the outfield or in the stadium seating.  Grab your baseball cap, some cracker jacks, and get ready for an American classic.

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If none of the above strikes your fancy, you can always just stick with good ol' shopping mall time.  The Providence Place Mall has great stores and restaurants, but beware, you do have to pay to park here in their garage.

There you have it - just of the few things that can keep you busy for a weekend away in Providence, Rhode Island.  Where do you love to go for a short getaway?

Until next time, travel on...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Resolving to Keep Calm and...

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about resolutions for 2013.  How can I be better, healthier, smarter, kinder, happier?  On January 1st, promising to improve something about myself for the entire year sounds so refreshing, yet it also seems like a simple way to set myself up for disappointment.  What if I find my goal to be a lot harder than expected, what if I hit road blocks along the way, or what if I just throw in the towel all together?

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This year, I have decided to make 12 mini-resolutions - one smaller goal that I can work towards each month.  This way, I can have little successes every 30 days or if need be, 12 chances to be better at staying on track with future months' goals. 

For January, I have decided that I need to use my iPhone less while I'm driving.  I call friends and family on my ride home from work, I use my phone as my GPS when I travel, and I admit, that if I get stuck in traffic or if I sit at a really long red light, I don't hesitate to check my emails or quickly scroll through facebook.  Problem is, I don't always put it right back down once traffic lets up or the light turns green.  So far, the hardest part of correcting this behavior is even being concious that I'm doing it.  I often don't really notice that I have grabbed my phone as it has gotten so instinctual to have my fingers flipping from app to app.

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Seeing a status update of what someone had for breakfast or deleting another junk email is not nearly as important as keeping myself and all the other drivers around me safe on the road.  So, here I am before you all here in the bloggy world, promising to be a less distracted driver.  Next month, I'll let you now how this works out as well as what is on the list for my February resolution.

Until next time, travel on...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Traveling? Forget the map, get the app...

Gone are the days of flipping and folding paper maps with your route highlighted in milky yellow ink.  Gone are the days of pouring over travel brochures before heading to a destination.  Nowadays, our phones have become our hub for restaurant reviews, road trip music mixes, traffic-defeating directions, and more.

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Before you take off on your next journey, here are some highly rated travel apps that I think are most worth the download. 

(I have not been compensated for these reviews, nor do I have any affiliations
with these companies, just honest thoughts from a frequent traveler!)

XE Currency Exchange
Heading to another country, perhaps even as close as Canada? Converting amounts to different currencies can cause a brain freeze faster than a Friendly's Double Thick Fribble.  Just enter in your default currency and add the others that you want to keep track off.  This app is reliable and will even keep rates saved on the phone for those times that you lose internet connection but still need to convert dollars to francs or yen or euros.

Google Translate
Ever try to beat the clock while you flip through an English-Spanish dictionary for the right way to express "Bathroom, STAT"and your toddler does the potty dance?  Not only can Google Translate assist with text translation, it can also take what you say out loud, then show and speak the translation back to you in the language of your choice.

One of the most hated parts of business travel for a lot people is dealing with expense reports.  Matching up crinkled, faded receipts to pages of credit card bills can be a hassle (and that is if you can actually find all of your receipts once you get home).  Expensify to the rescue!  Use your phone's camera to record all of your receipts and then the app will organize all of them into one PDF for you to submit upon your return to the office.  One note of caution - ask your finance department about this before you travel - some offices will still only accept original receipts.

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Tipping Bird
Picture this, your taxi is pulling up to your final destination or you are ready to pay your bill after a sit down meal.  Do you tip?  How much?  This is a tough question when you are traveling to places outside of the U.S. as some cultures actually find the practice of tipping to be quite rude.  The Tipping Bird app allows you to not only indicate what country you are in, but more specifically, what situation you are in (hair salon, bell hop, shoe shine?) so you will know how much is appropriate to leave.

After a day of surviving through hours of meetings in an ugly hotel conference room in a city that you aren't familiar with, the last thing you want to do is end up at the local, rundown Denny's where you can't even get a drink.  Use the HappyHoured app to look for local deals on drinks, apps, and more.  You can search for pubs that have food, wine bars, spots that feature mixed drinks, or your classic 2 for 1 cold brew.

Perhaps you took advantage of the previous app, went to a Happy Hour and then became a little too happy to drive yourself home.  TaxiMagic lets you type in where you need to be picked up, watch your taxi move on a map as it comes to find you, and finally allow you to pay for the ride instantly on your phone.

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What apps would you never leave home without?

Until next time, travel on...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Be A Hometown Tourist

Looking for something new to do this coming weekend?  Depending on where you are from, you may or may not be able to get away with this one, but I challenge you to be a tourist for a day in your town.  If you are like me, you probably have your favorite couple of restaurants that you tend to go to or a coffee place that you always grab a cup of joe from each morning, but have you really ever explored the area?

Imagine you were taking a trip somewhere far away, what you would plan on doing?  Would you look for cute shops to poke around in or maybe have a bite to eat at that "hole in the wall" restaurant only known by the most local of locals?  Would you stroll through a historical park or a spend an afternoon at a museum to take in some culture?

The town (or city, I suppose) that Mr. C and I lived in together for the past 3 years had parks, historical mansions, a river, restaurants, shops, cafes and more.  We really loved living there, but we probably missed out on plenty of gems by not looking around more closely in our time spent there.  We have just moved into our first true home together in a new town and a slightly new part of the state.  I'm really looking forward to becoming a local, but for now, we truly do feel like tourists in this new place as we search for the best pizza delivery place, maybe a mini golf spot, and perhaps even a small cafe that can become our perfect place for coffees and the Sunday paper.

Let me know what you find in your area by exploring like a tourist!

Until next time, travel on...