Monday, July 24, 2017

Ahora 22: It's Fly Week!

The back to school displays are up and ready for shoppers looking for early savings and I still have summer on the brain because we're leaving for vacation this week. 

We don't have much to do, but perennial vacation tasks are left to the last minute by my procrastinating husband. No problem though...errand dates are fun. 

Here's what's happening ahora, now, in my corner of the world...

Listening to...

Camino Island by John Grisham. I joined Audible on Prime Day and this was the first book I picked. I have read other Grisham books and the plot of this one was intriguing. I'll start it this week. 

Do you have any recommendations for good audio books? The best one I ever listened to was The Boston Girl read by Linda Lavin. She was captivating; I could see every smile...every expression.  

Started reading...
Miracle Morning: by Hal Elrod "The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) I'm a morning person, so this seemed like a natural fit. 

I'm excited for the new Dan Brown book, Origin, to come out. I enjoy the Robert Langdon series and this one is set in Spain, so I'm sure that this one will be a fun quick read too. 

American Ninja Warrior. I am continually inspired by these athletes. I love hearing their stories and seeing how they find strength in this kind of physical challenge, like Jimmy Choi. 

A long summer means more down time, so I have had time for movies and I have seen a few good ones, like...



The Big Sick

Looking forward to...
  • Vacation! 
  • Spending time with my favorite new driver! I can't believe it, but my sixteen-year-old niece is a newly licensed driver...and she flew into town this week with one of her BFFs. I am thrilled for the opportunity to spend time with her and enjoy some fun girl time. 
  • A friend of ours is visiting us for two weeks in Spain this year. It will be fun to show her around our local favorites and maybe find a few new favorites as well.  
  • I will be traveling to northern New Mexico in September before my semester begins. Friends of mine recently bought a second home there, and since our husbands will be back to work by then, we decided to take some time and explore the area around their new home. I have never been to that part of the United States and I'm eager to explore Taos and the Four Corners region. 
  • The new school year! I can't wait to meet my new kids!

The hardest part...
Leaving our girl. She's in great hands with her "godparents" and her dog-BFF, but we'll miss her. 

What's happening ahora in your world? Any book or movie recommendations?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday 5: Market Musts When Air BnBing

When you want to live like a local, there's no better way to engage in a new community than by staying in a neighborhood through a house-sit or a home rental, like Air BnB. 

Whenever we visit a new city, one of the places we always visit is the market. I walk through, soaking in local fare, imagining what I would cook if I had a kitchen in my new temporary home. It's fun to plan imaginary menus and consider the dinner parties I would have with my fresh, locally sourced ingredients. 

When you're lucky enough to stay in a place with a kitchen, or even with a few kitchen comforts, it's fun to explore the local market and forage for what's fresh and perhaps, unique, to that city. 

Here are five items that we are sure to purchase when we're Air BnBing in a new city. 

In addition to the traditional food items we may buy, we always look for... 

1. Local beer and/or wine

2. Local or regional cheese

3. Fresh baked bread typical to that area

4. Local fish, fruit, and/or vegetable that we may not have ever tried or don't have at home

5. A local treat, like a pastry, chocolate, or candy that is unique to that area

How about you? Do you like to explore local markets or do you enjoy eating out for most meals? What items do you look for when you visit a local market while traveling?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wanderlust Wednesday: Wynwood Walls in Miami, Florida

Last weekend, I was in Miami for our end-of-the-school-year teacher party rave, and had the opportunity to explore the Wynwood Walls and I'm so glad I did. I love street art and this did not disappoint. 

The Wynwood Art District is considered one of the country's hippest neighborhoods because of its large open-air street art installation, the Wynwood Walls. In addition to the Walls, the once-manufacturing and warehouse district of Miami contains over 80,000 square feet of rotating art space, art galleries, boutiques, antique shops, bars and restaurants.

The Wynwood Walls were the brainchild of Miami-developer, Tony Goldman, who wanted to boost the area's pedestrian potential. Goldman worked to renovate and rehabilitate unused and neglected warehouses and factories and transform them into art complexes for the area's creatives. 

Since they opened, the Wynwood Walls have hosted over 50 artists representing 16 countries, evolving into a "Museum of the Streets." Wynwood Walls have been operated by the Wynwood Arts District Association since 2009. 

Every month, a city-sponsored Second Saturday Art Walk draws art lovers and tourists alike, and visitors to the iconic Art Basel Miami make their way to the Wynwood Art District to support emerging muralists and graffiti artists.

If you go, don't forget to look up and down and all around; there are messages everywhere. 

The Walls are located on 2520 NW 2nd Avenue, between Joey's Italian Cafe on 25th Street and the Latin-influenced tapas-style Wynwood Kitchen and Bar on 26th Street. This is a fun spot for a bite to eat and a drink before or after wandering among the Walls. 

Street parking in the Wynwood Art District is tight; download the Miami parking app for easier parking. You can set your stay and add time, if necessary. Bikes are available as well for meandering throughout the district. 

If you're in Miami, Wynwood Walls is a must-see and a perfect afternoon excursion away from the beach. Enjoy!

Wynwood Walls
2520 NW 2nd Avenue
Miami, FL 33127

Friday, May 19, 2017

Happy 5th Anniversary to Us!

Today is our anniversary...five years married, ten years together. We are blessed; it feels like yesterday. Time really does fly when you're having fun. 

And we are. 

Cheers to another year of love and adventure, of good health and lightness of heart. 

Cheers to our shared dreams and our shared path. 

Cheers to another year of wandering the world together and a lifetime of wonderful memories along the way. 

Happy Anniversary to us!


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Lovely Things: A Fifth Anniversary Gift Guide

May is our anniversary month, and this year marks our fifth year married and our tenth year together. We have gone traditional with anniversary gifts for the last four years, and I predict that whenever possible, we will continue that theme. It's a fun quest. 

I wish I could say that I am using affiliate links, but monetization is on my list of things to figure out, so these items are simply a result of my own search on Etsy and Lowe's.

Here are some ideas...

1. A wooden bathtub caddy

2. A wooden sign for the home. 

3. Wooden kitchen utensils

4.  Scrabble-tile wall art

5. A cedar chest for storing treasured favorites. 

And one for good measure...a wooden porch swing built for two

Which one would you pick? Share your favorite or something else. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wanderlust Wednesday: Paris Can Wait

I love a good travel film, especially when the landscape itself serves as a character in the film. 

When the trailer for Paris Can Wait crossed my social media feed, I knew this would be a must-see. 

See for yourself...

Directed by Eleanor Coppola, the film features Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin, and Arnaud Viard. 

It opens May 12th in major cities. 

What's your favorite travel inspired movie?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Pastéis de Belém: A Food Must in Lisbon, Portugal

There are destination experiences, like taking a gondola ride in Venice or exploring the market in Istanbul. 

For people who love food, there are destination food experiences, like street food in Bangkok or macarons in Paris. 

We are food people.

When my husband and I visited Lisbon, there were many foods we were told to try, but one topped our list; one that was not negotiable: the Pastél de Nata from Pastéis de Belémnext to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Belém.
Getting to Belém from central Lisbon is easy. You can take one of two trams (15 or 127) from Praça do Comércio or Praça da Figueira Square. They both stop directly in front of the area between the Monastery and the pastry shop. 

These small egg custard tartlets are considered by many to be among the best pastries in Europe.

According to the history of the monastery, the nuns used egg whites for starching their white habits, leaving a glut of egg yolks for cooking and baking. 

After the Liberal Revolution in 1820 closed many of the local convents and monasteries, the nuns began selling the custards to workers in a nearby sugar refinery, hoping to raise money for their own monastery. 

After the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos closed in 1834, the monks sold the recipe to the refinery owners, who opened a pastry shop in 1837 and began selling the Pastéis de Belém.The decedents of the refinery still own the closely guarded recipe today and reportedly, only three chefs outside the family know the recipe. Women still shape each pastry by hand and they sell about 20,000 tartlets every day. 

There are always two line outside the shop: one for table service and the other for takeaway tartlets. 

Your pastéis de nata are sold warm with packets of powdered sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle on top if you want. 

If you opt for takeaway, there's a Starbucks next door, but iced coffee lovers take note: if you want cream in your coffee, it's real cream and not half and half that we're used to here in the States. They do have a nice loft space upstairs though, where you can enjoy your pastéis and coffee. 

The lovely little egg custards are worth their wait in line. Bom provecho!

Do you have a destination food experience? Please share in the comments. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Conference Travel: My WITS17 Packing List and a GIVEAWAY

It's fly week for me as I join 500 women travel influencers, creators, and brands in Milwaukee for Wanderful's annual Women in Travel Summit. 

As someone who attended WITS'15 in Boston, I am excited for this event which has elements of personal and professional development, opportunities for collaboration, networking, and global sisterhood. 

I've started to think about packing and what will make my time in Milwaukee the most productive it can be. Here's what's going into my carry-on. 

My Bags
I am not checking luggage. Whenever it's possible, I carry-on and this year, I am bringing my Kelty Redwing 2500 Backpack. She's been traveling with me since 2010. This front-loading pack holds everything I need and fits comfortably in the overhead bin or under the airline seat. The waist and chest straps even the weight and make carrying it easier on my shoulders and hips. 

I'm also bringing my Samsonite Jordyn Laptop Tote, an attendee's gift from WITS'15.

I never travel anywhere without my packing cubes. These organizers are like individual dresser drawers for my clothes and they save me time and space. I also use a charger organizer to keep my charger cables tangle-free. 

  • My MacBook Pro. This travels everywhere with me. It allows me the flexibility to take notes and work on the road when I have down time before, after, or between sessions. 
  • My iPhone. I will be using this as my primary camera for tours and conference photos. 
  • A power strip. Outlets in hotel rooms and conference breakout rooms can be limited. By bringing a power strip, I can stay charged and help a friend. 
  • Earbuds for my flight and shared hotel rooms. 
  • My Jackery. This dual USB port charger was a game changer for me.

Other essentials
  • Business cards for networking
  • Ear plugs for shared hotel rooms
  • A notebook and pens for quick notes
  • A refillable water bottle and coffee mug
  • Quest Bars and/or portioned bags of almonds for snacks
  • Gum 
  • A scarf and a sweater for chilly breakout rooms
  • Rain gear: Because of this year's weather forecast, I am bringing my Eddie Bauer Insulated Trench. Thanks, Steph, for the recommendation. I have used this jacket since November and it keeps me warm and dry. 

When it comes to clothes, I pack light and functional. I choose a neutral color palette and plan around that. I make sure to pack comfortable shoes for offsite tours and a dressier outfit for evening networking and socials. 

Ready to win?


If you're a woman who loves to travel, Wanderful is for you. This community connects women around the world through meet-ups in over 22 cities, a thriving social media network, domestic and international travel, an influencer program, admission to special events around the world, a home sharing network, and discounts to the WITS conference. 

I am such a fan of this community that I am giving away 10 memberships to Wanderful, a $119 value. All you have to do to enter to win is leave a comment below about one gadget you never travel without. 

If you're not one of the 10 winners of this giveaway, you still can take advantage of a discounted membership with $15 off when you sign-up using the code LOVELYLIFE through May 1stClick here for more information.

Good luck!


*This post contains affiliate links, through which purchases help to support this blog.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Grown Up Grilled Cheese Ideas for #NationalGrilledCheeseDay

Few foods live up to comfort level status more than grilled cheese sandwiches. 

When I was growing up, grilled cheese and tomato soup was the lunch of champions and for us, it's a go-to Sunday night supper. 

Tip: Save yourself some money...check out the day-old stand at your grocery store. Who needs super-soft bread? You're cooking it anyway. 

Sometimes, the classic is best. But, if you want to take it up a notch, experiment with bread types and ingredients like these. 

1. Fig preserves and Fontina cheese.

2. Serrano ham with Manchego cheese.

3. Sliced apple, pulled pork, and sharp cheddar cheese.

4. Fat free refried beans (or black bean hummus), grilled chicken, salsa and jalapeño jack cheese. 

5. Mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry jelly, turkey, and American cheese.

6. Strawberries, turkey, and creamy goat cheese.

7. Mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, avocado and pesto.

8. Ham, pickles, Provolone cheese and mustard. 

9. Tuna salad with tomato and Swiss. 

10. Raspberry jam, prosciutto, and Gouda cheese.

Don't forget to mix up the bread...sourdough, rye, French, artisan, potato, white,'s all good. 

What's your favorite flavor combination?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Road Trip Essentials

Spring has sprung and that means it's time to start thinking about those summer road trips. 

Whether you're going to explore, visit family and friends, or spend time tooling around with no place in particular to be, it's a good idea to be prepared. 

The Señor and I love road trips. Clothes aside, here are some essentials that we're sure to pack and always keep in the car. 

1. Snacks and water 

For me, this is not negotiable. I eat every 3-4 hours, but my husband could eat once or twice a day. To keep away the hangry horrors, I pack snacks and then, I'm good to go; I'm a much happier co-pilot..and it's cheaper than stopping for convenience store snacks. If you pack a cooler, you have more snacking options, but it can be a space issue. 

2. Easy clean-up supplies

To keep the car relatively clean, I always pack a couple of plastic bags from the grocery store for trash and a packet of wet-wipes.

3. An electronic toll transponder
This is a time saver that is worth its weight in gold. States differ in their registration procedure, so if you're getting one for the first time, research before you go. We have one in each car. We also keep a few dollars in coins for parking meters, but the transponder is essential.

4. A road atlas

In the rare occasion that you have no cell service, a road atlas is good to have, and it makes it fun to pour over maps as you choose new paths to explore. 

5. A car emergency kit. 
We have AAA, so we're not overly concerned, but the triangle reflectors and jumper cables are nice to have. We also keep insurance information in the glove compartment. 

6. Downloaded podcasts, audio books, and/or a great playlist
When you and your drive partner have common interests, listening to a podcast serves as a great launchpad for later conversation. As an introvert, I appreciate the "quiet" time that allows me to recharge and simply enjoy sharing space with the one I love. 

7. A small notebook and pen. 
I use the notes feature on my phone for most things, but occasionally, paper and a pen comes in handy. We keep it in the glove compartment. 

8. Helpful apps
Everyone has their favorites, but here are the apps we use when we're out on the road: 

  • Yelp & Around Me
  • Hotel Tonight & Priceline
  • Gas Buddy
  • Groupon
9. Chargers
My car has USB chargers, but my husband's does not. As a result, we use dual USB chargers that go into the lighter port. For longer trips or working travel, we have a power inverter car charger, which will charge our laptops as well as USB charged devices. Our favorite mobile charger, though, is the Jackery, hands down. We each have one; it goes everywhere with us and we wouldn't trade it for anything. 

10. For good measure...
Outerwear of some sort is essential for me; whether it's a light sweater for chilly indoor air conditioning or a rain jacket for a pop-up shower, I make sure that I throw something in the car to keep me warm and dry. 

What are your road trip essentials? 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Travel Tips for Couples

It was a match made in heaven for my husband and me when we discovered that we were both blissfully afflicted with wanderlust. Our case is so severe that we need a fix at least once a week, even to travel to a new destination for our weekly Sunday afternoon coffee date.
Canoodling aside, travel is a big part of our lives, and we're hoping to travel full time as soon as possible. For some like us, the idea of traveling around the world with a partner 24/7 is bliss, but for others, cramped quarters and too much togetherness bring anxiety that could derail even a week's vacation. 

Here's how we do it. 

1. Obviously, shared interests are fabulous, but celebrate your differences. You're a beach girl. He's a mountain man. Or vice versa. No worries. Do some research and find locales that allow you to do both. Compromise.

2. Plan together. This is how you can be sure that both of you have the opportunity to have your needs and wants met. Discuss expectations about budget, activities and accommodations. Both of you will be emotionally invested and excited for all that awaits you. 

3. Travel light. No one wants to feel like a pack mule. Organize your stuff and then take out at least 10%. Don't pack for What if?. If you need it enough to carry it on your back for x hours or days, then keep it; otherwise keep pruning until you are happy and won't lament carrying your load...on your own...for the duration of the trip.

4. Don't sweat the small stuff. When you're together all the time, or at least when you're traveling together, your partner's habits may start to creep up on you when you're tired, frustrated, or hangry. Recognize that your frustration is really about you and your reaction; you control it. Is it worth it to alienate your partner? Doubtful. Don't take him or her into your world of crazy, because then, you'll have two problems. There's little that a snack, a nap, or a good belly laugh can't fix. And then kiss and make-up. 

5. Share the load. Are you driving? Offer to drive and give him or her a break to snooze, catch up on email or social media or to just look out the window. He or she will appreciate the break and your willingness to share the load.

6. Don't feel like you have to talk all the time. Share space and be confident in your quiet time to think, meditate, wonder at what you see and play with naughty thoughts to make your stay-over that much more fun.

7. Plan ahead. Pack a snack. Pack water. Pack tissues. Pack medicine for a pop-up headache. Pack antacids. It's better to be prepared. I eat every 3-4 hours, but my husband could eat once or twice a day. Know thyself, and I do, so I pack a protein bar. Then, I'm good to go and a much happier camper. 

8. Alone time is okay. Do you want to go for a run? An early morning dip in the pool? If one of you wants to do something in which the other simply has no interest, don't worry. Sometimes the time apart is the remedy for when you're getting on each other's nerves or it saves the other from resenting having to do something or go somewhere he or she really doesn't want to do or go. Plus, absence really does make the heart grow fonder. You can meet up later and share your experience. 

9. Don't be afraid to start small. Maybe a round-the-world trip is not your cup of tea. Start by playing tourist in your own town. Or travel to the closest biggest city. The first big date my husband and I had was to New York. We went for the day and it was magic. Central Park, the Met, tapas and can you go wrong?

10. Make it a date. Hold hands. Kiss. Take goofy photos. Picnic. Play. You love each other; make loving memories to hold dear when you're not able to travel as much. 

Whether it's a weekend getaway, a day trip to the city, an afternoon at the museum, traveling around the world, or even a Sunday afternoon coffee date, travel with the one you love is an amazing experience. You connect in a way that may go unchecked in the craziness of chaotic days. Take a chance and see the world. And be sure to kiss all along the way.