Road Trip Car Packing Tips: All That Tetris Playing Paid Off

Before my last road trip, a friend looked at my Subaru Crosstrek and was like how do plan on fitting luggage for three people for two and a half weeks into that? Well, I got really good at using space when my daughter and I would travel in my Volkswagen Beetle, so this new car is practically a U-Haul in comparison, but it also just takes a big of planning.

My dad, daughter and I have been going on lengthy road trips for several years now, and in that time, I’ve become a PRO at getting everything into the car. Which, I personally consider impressive, because we’ve used a different vehicle on every trip.

There are rules. And they know them, and that’s how we are able to survive without me screaming my head off (which maybe I did once or twice in the early days of our trip to South Dakota).

Strategize Before You Leave
I have everyone bring everything down by the car and then I sit and play “Tetris” for a bit, trying to figure out the best way to get bags, suitcases, coolers into the car, and then that becomes my model for the rest of the trip. And by Day 2, my travel buddies know the order to bring me their belongings. Pink and Black suitcases need to go in first and the other suitcase goes in on the side. Then I load up the other items. Everything has its designated spot, and once that’s established, I can load the car in a matter of minutes every day that we head for a new destination.

Don’t Let People Put Their Own Stuff in the Car all Willy-Nilly
When I first started road tripping I thought it would be easier if everyone hoisted their own suitcases up into the car… I was absolutely wrong. 100%. Sure, it was nicer on my back not to be lifting so much, but heavy stuff was put on top of lighter/breakable souvenirs and after my new mug from St. Louis’s amazing City Museum broke two days after we left that town, well, I put a stop to that. I am the designated loader, and if my back is sore, I let one of them help, but I am VERY specific about where everything goes. (I think that’s the Virgo side of me coming out!) They may roll their eyes, but the last two trips everyone’s belongings made it home unscathed.

Leave Room for More
Don’t fill your car so tightly that you have no wiggle room for anything extra. Inevitably there will be souvenirs or the sweatshirts you had to buy because it was freezing or something along those lines. Make sure your clearly laid out plan has space for more things.

Make Everyone Responsible for Their Own Personal Items
This is harder when the kids are really little, but if you are traveling with kids are six or seven, its time to make sure they leave the hotel/motel/campsite with whatever they came with. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a final scan of the rooms, but it does mean that when you get ready to leave one destination to head to the next, they know to look for their phone chargers and to grab bathing suits out of the bathrooms. This is a huge time saver in the mornings.

Have Everyone Carry Something to the Car
Even if your little ones only carry their stuffed animal and blanket, that’s a start. Being the sherpa for everyone’s stuff is exhausting, and means a million trips back and forth. If you can save one or two trips, or avoid getting those deep marks in your arms from carrying 15 bags at one time, its a blessing.

Make Sure Things You Need While Driving Are Easily Accessible
If the backseat is full with people, you may not have room for all their devices and snacks to be right next to them at all times, but make sure when you load your trunk space that items they may need while you’re driving are reachable. There’s nothing worse than a tween whose iPad charger is packed in the depths of the trunk. Or a freezing kid who can’t reach their hoodie. Even if you have to make a stop to get things out of the trunk, if these frequently used items are on the top, it will save you from looking like a crazy person on the side of the highway with all of your luggage strewn about.

So what should you pack and what shouldn’t you pack? That’s a whole other blog post.

What’s your best road trip tip? Tell me, I’d love to hear from you.

How Major Surgery and a Tough Breakup Led to the Best Year of My Life

A year ago today I was lying on an operating table, having an actual panic attack as four capable medical professionals were struggling to find a vein for an IV. I couldn’t catch my breath and was sobbing uncontrollably and my kind surgeon, who I’d grown friendly with during the pre-op process, offered to call my boyfriend, and that only made me cry more. I explained we weren’t together any more, and she said, “who breaks up with their boyfriend a week before major surgery?” Which weirdly made me laugh. Because, who in their right mind would? It was just a ridiculous thing to do. I puffed out a few breaths saying it wasn’t really my plan. Then the nice orderly said, “Girl, let me tell you about the sucky girl who broke my heart,” which distracted me, calmed me down enough for them to find a vein and move along with the surgery as planned.

As I’ve talked about before, the surgery was to remove a giant, grapefruit sized teratoma cyst from inside of me (some may refer to this as eating your twin in the womb… but it’s more like absorbing some cells… or so I like to tell myself). This cyst, Agatha (as my daughter dubbed it) had really been cramping my style, growing and making me generally miserable for ages. I was so relieved she was gone. 

But I wasn’t prepared for the loneliness that happened during my recovery. It was a perfect storm: My friends came to help the first few days, but then had to return to their own lives; my daughter was away with her father on a vacation so I didn’t have her little smiling face; and I didn’t have my boyfriend of a few years who I’d grown rather attached to. For the first time in a while, I was truly alone (aside from the cats, who aren’t great conversationalists). And I didn’t even have my “twin” with me. All of this unfolded right before my birthday, which is always a hard time for me, because I’m not a super big fan of birthdays to begin with. 

So I wallowed. I was suddenly sad about the fact that I couldn’t have more kids… which was insane because I had made the choice not to have more long before my surgery. As a 44-year-old single mom with an already tight budget and a teenager, the idea of finding myself with a newborn wasn’t something I wanted. But I still felt like I lost something. 

Recuperating with my cat

And I felt myself complaining to my friends about everything. I was miserable that I was overweight. I was resentful of the fact I couldn’t exercise. I hated that I was suddenly single when I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with someone. I was angry about being broke all the time. I was convinced I was just going to be a sad cat lady. I was real emotional about the fact that my daughter was turning 13 and that meant she needed me less. I was upset that my stitches weren’t healing as quickly as they were supposed to. It was a TIME. 

But I decided I needed to get out of my own way. I bought this candle from Haus of Hoodoo, because her candles had been praised by a friend. And while the money one was tempting, I chose the uncrossing one because it claimed to help me with the negativity. And it did. I tried to “listen” to what it was telling me, and I could feel the candle telling me to let go of the anger at my ex. Laugh if you want. Be skeptical if you want. But I did what it was guiding me towards. And it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. What a feeling! That one action only led to me shedding more of the negativity in my life.

I went to my doctor and he told me to start exercising (Yes, i’m sure he tells everyone that) because he said the endorphins would help my mood. So I went to a gym that I thought was way out of my price range, and it wasn’t! That felt like a huge victory. And the endorphins did help, or maybe it was the cathartic process of throwing heavy medicine balls at the ground. And I finally just started running again.

Then I started meditating daily. I sucked at it. One article I read told me to say hello to the passing thoughts and tell them that you’ll deal with them later, a tip which helped me so much. When I would finish meditating I would have such a clear purpose of what I was supposed to do next. It was kind of crazy how much my mind was buzzing at the opportunities in front of me. It really helped me prioritize what was truly important.

And I started doing all these things I was interested that I had put on the backburner because I was in a relationship. Not that my ex ever told me not to do anything (I wouldn’t have listened anyway), but because I was busy doing things with him, having a kid and a full time job and social obligations, etc. When I had gotten divorced, my daughter was little and needed all of my attention, but now as a teen she had her own life and a phone and Facetime. Suddenly, I had this free time at night. And I decided to make the most of it. I signed up for a ton of free/cheap classes on the internet, at the gym, wherever I could. Anything I had wanted to do for years and years I just figured I’d start giving them a try. I muddled a little on the guitar (I’m still barely playing a chord, but whatever!), I took classes in herbalism, web design, German and Reiki healing (message me if you need some distance healing!).

Hiking in the winter in Maine wearing my elf hat

And every day I kept up the meditating and focusing my life on positive intentions and goals. I started making so many lists and plans. It all gave me the much needed distraction from the loneliness, and then things just improved in my life, or maybe my perception of them improved. 

I drive 80-100 miles a day and had a dicey few rides in my Beetle, and my dad helped me buy a new safer car. My mom and aunt helped me take a trip to Austria, which was amazing because much as I love to travel my budget had never allowed me to go to Europe. I’ve felt creatively inspired in ways that I haven’t in years. I’ve done yoga on the beach in Miami, I’ve snorkeled in the Gulf of Mexico, I rode in a blimp!

My daughter and I just after our amazing blimp ride

And of course bad stuff has happened, I’ve had stupid headaches and other annoying health issues to contend with, I had a fender bender, I’ve dealt with money stuff and dating debacles, but all of that hasn’t stopped me from having my best year ever. I’ve just dealt with issues as they come up and tried to not complain too much. 

I stopped trying so hard to date, and that’s freed me up for my art, crafts and friends. I have said yes to going out more and doing things I’d ordinarily say no to. I have hiked, walked, climbed things and even tackled a silly inflatable obstacle course with my kid on a day I felt awful, and did it with a big old smile on my face. I dyed my hair pink, even though people questioned it. I started oversharing my life in this blog. 

I was so comfortable and complacent in my pre-surgery life. I thought I was happy and I did fun things, and my life was good and I’m lucky and grateful for everyone. But this year I’ve just really felt the joy and positivity radiating out of me. And now I finally feel like a new version of me. A happy, pink-haired, optimistic (most of the time) woman who loves to try new things and explore the world. I’ve got adventures planned for months ahead, some small, some bigger, and I just can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. Life is really a journey, and I’m finally enjoying every minute. 

Running Really Slowly… Again

My relationship with running has been weird. I, like Peter Sagal in the fantastic book The Incomplete Book of Running, started after I got divorced as a way to get fit and spend more time outside. Unlike Peter, I never was fast and my “running” was more of what I liked to call a slog, or a slow jog. My half marathon times were around three hours, and my only full marathon took more than six to complete because I fell apart, vomited around mile 15 and never truly recovered. 

That being said, I sort of loved it. I also hated it sometimes, but those things go together, right? I loved the time outside. The fresh air. I even loved doing work on the treadmill to boost my speed so I could get closer to my 10-minute mile goal. Heck, an 11-minute mile would have been good. I logged all my steps and followed my training plans to the letter. I did one full marathon, a bunch of half marathons, half a dozen triathlons, three Tough Mudders and a whole host of other smaller races—with and without mud or electrocution involved. 

I was always moving at a pace slower than some people walk. When I was training for my marathon, some young men took the time to yell out the encouraging words, “you’re slow as shit” as they drove by me on mile 17. I just waved and kept running. I did a marathon relay with my dad, where the emergency ambulance and sweep team trailed me the entire way (they were all so nice). I finished dead last behind a woman who was seven months pregnant, but none of that ever really bothered me. 

That is until I started getting sick. Long story short: Over a few years, I got missed diagnosed with a variety of lady problems, ulcers, gluten intolerance and a whole host of other weird things, until last year when they found a giant teratoma cyst growing inside of me and removed it. Huzzah, I finally felt human again. 

But back when I first started feeling crappy all the time, I was slowly pounding out laps at the crack of dawn while other eager fitness friends lapped me. I overheard one of the coaches laugh and loudly whisper, “is she still finishing her mile warm-up?” As I plodded away around the track I could hear some pitying giggles. 

That one moment took all the joy I’d ever experienced while running out of my sails. I didn’t quit then, either: I finished my laps and workout, happily doing the short sprints (which I like to think I’m better at) and jogging up steps, but that moment haunted my mind for a long time. Every time I went to put on sneakers, I thought, what’s the point? I felt physically awful most of the time anyway; why was I torturing myself? After a neck injury, that attitude overflowed into all the other types of exercise I used to love, too.

Flash forward a few years, and I’ve gained back any weight I lost during my “running” days (and probably then some), but I’m finally not sick and throwing up all the time! For the last 8 months or so I’ve been happily rediscovering my love of working out. Because of my weight, I was told not to run. Instead, I’ve been throwing things at the walls,lifting things and walking on the elliptical. Then I read Peter Sagal’s book and I really, really missed running. And then I got a personal note from him (thanks to my amazing friend Micki) and it made me even more motivated.

This note from Peter Sagal is on my inspiration/motivation wall!

So, I got some new running shoes, redownloaded the Couch to 5K app (which I highly recommend) and did some short bursts of “slogging” at the gym. It feels like I’m reliving day 1 over and over again, and might be for a while. I want to be happy and know I’m not going to injure myself before I move on, but even running for a minute at a time brings a smile to my face. I hum the mantra I adopted long ago after a brief meeting with running and walking aficionado Jeff Galloway. I told him I was slow, and he chastised me, saying that was nothing but a four letter word. So if you see me jogging and talking to myself, I’m muttering, “slow is a four letter word.” 

While I may never be ready to do another marathon, or half, or hell, even a 5K, I’ve finally been able to make peace with the voice  in my brain asking, “is she still finishing that mile?” The answer is yes. Yes, I am. It may take 15-20 minutes depending on the day, my feet and the hills, but I am out there running (or walking) a mile or two. And I am really, really happy about it. 

Find Your Park: Cape Henry Memorial

When you think of National Parks or National Monuments you probably think of Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty or the Lincoln Memorial, and while those are awesome, there are tons of other smaller sites maintained by the National Park Service that all help either preserve some of the most scenic and natural spots in in the USA, or document a historical moment in time. Sometimes, if you get lucky, you’ll find one that does both.

Cape Henry Lighthouses

The Cape Henry Memorial and Lighthouse, is one of those unique spots. It is nestled along the Chesapeake Bay and marked by its two lighthouses (the old one that visitors can climb, and the newer one that is still in use and run by the Coast Guard). Its got views for days and also marks two major moments in American history.

My dad and daughter at the Cape Henry Memorial cross, built to commemorate the Englishmen landing here before settling in Jamestown.

It is the landing spot of the first settlers for the Jamestown colony. Yup. This is where those Englishmen landed in 1607, before they headed for their newfound home.

Statue of French Admiral Comte de Grasse (and me!)

And if you were there on September 5, 1781, you’d have had a perfect vantage point for the infamous Battle of the Capes. A famed battle of the Revolutionary War where French Admiral Comte deGrasse was able to defeat Admiral Graves, cutting off British troops from getting to Yorktown. And yes, I was singing from Hamilton the entire time I was walking around.

They tell you about the 191 steps, but not the steps leading UP to the lighthouse.

There is also the Cape Henry Lighthouse. I love a lighthouse and will trek to them all over the place, and this one, is pretty remarkable. The original lighthouse, was built in 1792 and was the first one built by the United States of America. While that’s not old compared to landmarks you can find in Europe, there is something really impressive about climbing the 191 stairs to the top and thinking that this tiny structure is over 200 years old, especially when you read that it was damaged during the Civil War.

The spiral stairs up to the top

Because of concerns about its structural integrity, they built a new working lighthouse in 1881 and left this one as a monument, but nearly a century and a half later it is still standing and in good condition. The little skinny ladder at the top gave me some pause, but its worth it for the view.

I was nervous going back down this ladder, but my kid loved it.

One of the coolest parts of visiting this park is that it sits on an active military base. I might have panicked that Waze took me in the wrong direction as I arrived at Fort Story and saw the gates for the US Navy, but the staff was very nice.

My daughter found this little cubby hole just her size.

Currently, for security reasons, you park your car in a lot just inside the gates, then go through a security checkpoint, you’ll have to leave your big bags and anything of that ilk in the car. Make sure if you are driving you don’t have alcohol or anything questionable in your vehicle when you arrive. Then they have a nice shuttle, with a quick audio tour that gets you acclimated. There are some clear rules about where you can and can’t walk on the property (i.e., don’t go down on the beach unless you want to be detained for committing a federal crime, which I’m guessing you probably aren’t all that interested in doing). You also have to have a valid ID for anyone over 16, which you leave at the front (don’t forget to take it back when you return to the gate. I kept having to repeat this in my head, I was worried I’d leave without it!)

You can see the new working lighthouse from the top of the old lighthouse.

It’s a small park, for sure. I’d allot an hour or two for a visit at most (including the time it takes to get through security), but well worth a stop if you are already visiting other Revolutionary War sites (like Yorktown, which is on the other side of the nearby Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel) or want to add a bit of history or lighthouse climbing to your trip to Virginia Beach.

Questions? Comments? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

Pink Hair, Don’t Care

After quite a bit of thought (we’re talking years) I decided to dye my hair pink this winter. And frankly, I’ve never felt more me. The color choice wasn’t super well-received by some friends and family and that made me mildly concerned about how it would be perceived while traveling. Turns out, I didn’t really need to worry. In fact, it was a conversation starter. 

Me outside of Franzensburg Castle in Schloss Laxenburg

Arriving in Austria, no one glared at me or looked horrified and the minute we walked into the hotel in Vienna the woman with bright colored hair of her own was thrilled by my pink tresses and it made a bonding moment. I was on that trip with my aunt, and slightly worried about meeting her work colleagues in the cat show judging circuit because of my hair, but two of them had their own hair tinted in hues of pinks and purples. While I was sitting alone having a beer outside of a castle in Laxenburg, a woman approached and asked if she could sit at the table with me. Or at least I think that’s what she asked, there was a lot of German and pointing, but I knew enough words to get the gist. My limited German and her limited English meant our convo wasn’t deeper than asking exchanging pleasantries and where we were from, but she did point at my hair and say “rosa” and smile. Knowing my colors from my German lessons (thanks duolingo), I knew she was complimenting my pink hair. Danke, nice lady. 

At the Wynwood Walls in Miami

I also had a press trip to Miami right after that and figured that the residents of the vibrant and modern city of Miami wouldn’t bat an eye at my pink locks, and I was right. I got nervous as a security guard at the airport took extra time with my passport, but it was only because my hair was quite different and then he told me that the pink hair was “fire,” which the young people I know assure me is a good thing. 

On our road trip through some more conservative Southern states this summer, the only people that mentioned my hair were those that liked it and had questions about how to get the look themselves. Even an adorable witch at faux Hogwarts at Universal asked me which potion I used to get my hair to look this way. I assured her it wasn’t available at the Weasley joke shop. 

On the fairy trail in Millburn, NJ

Walking in the woods on a fairy trail in NJ, a young kid saw me approaching and told his mother I looked like a fairy. I leaned into that and told him that there were a lot more, he just had to keep his eyes open. The mom smiled, told me she loved my hair and they went off to find more fairies. 

For all my worrying, the pink hair actually seems to make me more approachable. People come talk to me about either my hair, or to ask for directions or for me to take their picture, or even occasionally a picture of me. I’ve had some great conversations at bars when I’m alone and it seems to make people feel instantly more comfortable with me, and some people have told me they talked to me because they think I seem fun. Approachable and fun are definitely character traits I am proud to have, so I’m glad that the hair brings that to the surface. If you see me out traveling, come say hello. You can’t miss me, I’ll be the one with the pink hair! 

Alone in the Tunnel of Love

Despite the goofy face in the pic, I’m pretty happy about it. I love love. I love being in love. And I have a lot of love to give. But if the past year of dating has taught me anything, it’s that the road to true love is paved with married men and guys who don’t get me. 

I’ve been divorced for about a decade, and I’ve found dating to be truly frustrating and mind-bending. You might meet a weirdo on Tinder (as you’d likely expect), or he might be a nice, normal person hoping to meet someone new too. Like a strange unicorn. Then again, I’ve gotten some truly bizarre sexual requests from men (they involved having to look things up on the internet or relying on my Howard Stern listening) that I never even met on “nicer” sites like OK Cupid or Match.

I meet wonderful men who live far away, turn out to be married, or both. I’ve met men who seem really nice, but then turn controlling or crazy. I’ve tried all the apps, and the “good” ones aren’t any better than the others. And it’s exhausting. The hours it takes to create profiles that no one reads (but if you don’t have one, forget it), the thoughtful texts you send that someone will just reply with a dick pick or a “hey” is uninspiring. I just don’t have the energy for it. I’ll spend hours or weeks chatting with someone who seems normal, then I meet them and they aren’t. Or even worse, they vanish into thin air, presumably meeting someone less complicated than I am. 

And I am complicated. I have a kid, a full-time job, a long commute, a bunch of friends who I like to spend time with and a host of weird and time consuming hobbies. My free time is very limited, so I like to make the most of it.

My nights are usually filled with hours of texting and getting to know yet another new person who will inevitably be like, “you don’t like cake? I think that’s a dealbreaker.” Or more often, “you have an issue with me having a wife?” Yeah. I do. 

But lately I’ve been trying hard to focus on much more productive things, like self care and learning new skills. Meditation is great. I may still be lonely sometimes and wish I had someone to have a few beers with (see also, @angellovesbeer), but I’d honestly rather drink alone than deal with the craziness of online dating.

Instead, I’ve been focusing on what I want in life and figuring out how to travel more. I’m sorry to disappoint my friends who love hearing my admittedly amusing horror stories, but I won’t miss having to Google the underground sex acts a guy asks me for in his first DM. 

I know there are good guys out there, and I know I’m great and deserve someone great. I’ve heard all that. But I’m tired of looking. If he’s out there, he can find me. I’ll be happily traveling the world, snuggling my cats, expanding my horizons or hanging out in a brewery in the meantime. Oh, and if you’re him and looking for me, make sure your passport is up-to-date. 

Traveling Leads to New Beer!

While on a solo road trip to the West Coast back in 2014, I decided to stop and visit some breweries. I’d only recently branched out from the likes of Blue Moon and Sam Adams seasonal beers into the world of craft beer, and was excited to see what was out there.

I stopped on a whim for a night in the adorable town of Eugene, Oregon. In all of my traveling, I’ve never had the overpowering sense that I belonged somewhere like I did in Eugene. I still consider moving there when I retire, and definitely want to go back again for a visit. This college town has a hip feel to it and I was glad I’d stopped after spending the day snowshoeing at Crater Lake. I didn’t explore much that night, but in the morning I got up early, strapped on my running shoes and ran Pre’s trail. It is a path behind the University of Oregon, that once was a well-worn training grounds for famed Olympian Steve Prefontaine.

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I’m a terrible runner. I love it. But I’m slow. And I stop to walk a lot. And I’ve got injuries out the wazoo. Currently, I’m not even allowed to run, but am stuck on strictly walking for a bit. But that day, I ran my fastest mile (just under 10 mins!). And then a solid 5K (at least for me of just over 30 mins) I got soaked in a quick rain shower during which I had an epiphany that it didn’t really matter how fast I ran as long as I was moving.

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Naturally, I followed this feat of athletism by devouring the world’s best waffles at Off the Waffle. They were Liege waffles, they made me a gluten free one (on the staff recommendation) that was covered in savory items and it was probably one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

Then after wandering some shops, talking to some locals, I knew it was almost time to head out to Portland. But I had checked my recommendation list from friends and saw that Ninkasi Brewing was there and decided to have a “liquid lunch.” I mean, that waffle was gigantic enough for three meals and I housed it down in one sitting, and practically licked the plate in the process.

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I went over to do a tasting, and the staff couldn’t have been nicer. They gave me a random selection of the offerings they had on tap. I was told to drink my way  from left to right, and happily sampled my way across, following their rules but skipping the Oatis, and going to the Tricerahops.

Why? Besides the fact that triceratops’ are my favorite dinosaur? I took one look at that heavy stout and thought, nope, not for me.

The gentleman serving the beer saw my “rogue” drinking pattern and asked why I’d skipped the Oatis. I told him I didn’t like stouts. He asked me which kinds of stouts I’d had and I sheepishly admitted Guinness. He told me this was a different experience entirely.

I was tired, and stuffed with waffle and had a long drive ahead of me and could have shrugged and ignored him, but I liked this place. The staff was super-friendly, there was a food truck outside, and he seemed so positive I might like this, that I gave it a try. And then I downed the entire thing.

“That was AMAZING. Whoa!” Was my response once I’d finished my tasting glass. I wanted more, and was tempted to order a full pint. When he said, “Oh, if you like that, I’ve got something you really have to try.”

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Then he went over to the tap and poured one of my all-time favorite beers: a Vanilla Oatis. I’ve had Vanilla Oatmeal Stouts since this day (quite a few actually), and they’ve all been tasty, but nothing can ever compare to my memory of this 4 oz. taste of heaven. I looked up at him in a daze. I happily smiled, bought a keychain (which I still use to this day) and walked out. I was hit hard as I was walking out by how boozy my beers had been. I hadn’t quite learned that much about ABV’s at that point.

I sat in my car chugging water, and then went for another brisk walk, before heading out on the rest of my drive. And while I visited a bunch of other breweries around Oregon and Northern California on that trip, and even happily ordered any oatmeal stouts I saw on the menu, my mind kept drifting back to Ninkasi and their perfect Vanilla Oatis.

Beer Is Love, indeed.

Previously published on my old blog Life is Brewtiful

Perfect Vacation Photos? No Way

All those famous Instagram girls have boyfriends contorting themselves into crazy poses to take impossibly perfect pictures, but I’ve got a teenager who happily lays on the ground to take goofy pics that are far from perfect and often not super flattering angles, and I wouldn’t trade places for the world. My travel pics may never look like they came out of  a magazine but they are filled with fun memories of the places I’ve seen, and years from now that’s what’s more important. Sure I’d have loved a pic without the stairs and without putting my stomach front and center, but my photos are real life. It was 90+ degrees, we climbed a lighthouse. I wanted a pic of my dress and the lighthouse and I got exactly what I asked for. Plus, I got to laugh a lot  at my daughter sprawled on the ground in the blistering heat. So if you travel and your pics don’t look majestic, don’t sweat it. Your photos are snapshots of your life and meant for you and your family to enjoy! And to me the idea of setting up perfect poses and taking 100 pics sounds exhausting and like I wouldn’t actually enjoy my precious travel time. I don’t need that in my life, I’d rather spend that time exploring and enjoying the ride.