Tag Archives: Travel

No Regrets

Etretat, France

Etretat, France

When I was in my early 20s, having just graduated from college, I took out a bank loan so I could travel Europe for the summer. The first two-weeks of the trip was through my college, studying International Business. When that ended most of my classmates went home (what?!), but I traveled for another two weeks with my sister, who came over to join me. She and I got ourselves around Germany, Italy, a bit of Switzerland, and France, all by the grace of luck, the camaraderie of fellow travelers and our trusty Let’s Go: Europe guidebook. This was (way) before cellphones or the internet as we know it. I remember getting off the train in bustling Florence and heading to the nearest payphone to find a room for the night.

Me and my sister in Finale Ligure, Italy

Me and my sister in Finale Ligure, Italy

After my sister Cindy went home, I spent another month traveling by myself around France, since that was the only foreign language I spoke. It was exhilarating, scary, freeing and sometimes lonely. It gave me a sense of self-reliance and confidence that was previously unmatched. I would call my mom and dad from a French payphone every Sunday evening and tell them where I was and where I was heading. It’s hard to imagine in this day and age.

Doing this trip and specifically traveling on my own, made a huge and lasting impact on my life. I didn’t know, what I didn’t know and went into the whole endeavor with the blissful ignorance of a 20 year-old. Thank goodness for that. This was one of those experiences that helped shaped my life, perspective and self-worth. A hearty thanks to my parents for believing in me and letting me go.

Ahhh, Venice

Ahhh, Venice

It took me two years to pay off the loan, but I never regretted it even once. Since then, traveling has been a delicious itch in my life. I still get incredibly excited about going places. Now, it’s often with my family and I love the new perspective of going with our daughter. I get a real kick out of watching her explore the world. And it’s a thinly veiled attempt to make a traveler out of her.

I’m curious how other people got the travel bug? If you’ve got a bit of wanderlust, how did it start?

x Laura

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Summer Style in Amsterdam

One of the best parts about traveling is getting a glimpse of the local culture and appreciating a city for its own personality. We spent four days in Amsterdam and oh my, I’m in love with another city. Not only is the city downright captivating, but the people are really very nice. We managed to avoid getting run over by bikes, scooters and trams, which is harder than it sounds — they are zooming from all directions. I’m glad the Dutch have figured out their traffic patterns. There seems to be a method to their madness.

In the morning, I’d grab a cup of coffee, sit out on the front stoop of our hotel and watch the bikers heading to work. It’s a parade of chic women in dresses and skirts with one hand on the bike and the other fiddling with a phone, coffee, bag, etc. The most popular look for summer is a short, white dress with lacy cutouts. I must have seen handful of variations every day, which was a smart way to handle the heatwave and still look very breezy and put together. This photo of Annabelle Fleur (who’s based in California) has captured the European look perfectly.

Annabelle Fleur of VivaLuxury.blogspot.com

Sandals ranged from the on-trend Birkenstock Arizona to spare sandals with metallic accents, like these from Vince Camuto. I was completely at home and happy in my new-ish Sofft ‘Breeze’ gladiator sandals in black. I comfortably walked miles in them and they were stylish enough for this chic city. White sneakers are definitely in, but not the clunky athletic kind, more of a paired-down sleek style (like above). The Amsterdamers infuse sensuality into all of their outfits with either short hemlines, bare backs with interesting straps, sheer tops over cute bras, or low-cut tops. It’s not at all tarty, just confidently sexy.

We also made stops in Berlin and Reykjavik, cities which had their own personalities and style. I’ll need to do a separate post for them. I’ve come to believe that there is no one-style-that-fits-all. What is perfectly stylish in one place, doesn’t feel quite right in another. The fashion industry may say, ‘this is in or that is in’, but each city puts their own spin on what is current. It’s fun to try and guess where people are from based on their style alone and makes waiting in line at the airport a bit more tolerable.

Hope your summer is going well!

x Laura

Just Read: The Teenage Brain + 10 more

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a book recap and it’s long overdue. I try to ping-pong back and forth between fiction and non-fiction, just to break up my intake. The year started off impressively with All The Light We Cannot See and you can add me to the long list of people who loved this book. If you haven’t read it yet, you can believe the hype.

Scanning the list of books below, you might gather that my non-fiction reading has been hijacked by parenting topics. Maybe this is what happens when one’s child is leaving the cozy nest of elementary school and about to enter the wilds of middle school. It’s my first time, so don’t laugh too hard.

books read in 2015

2015 Books

Since we’re traveling to Amsterdam, Berlin and Iceland this summer, I added Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and Iceland: Land of the Sagas by David Roberts & Jon Krakauer to my reading list. After finishing Anne Frank, I passed it along to our daughter to read and will be very interested in her thoughts on it. She knows how the story ends already — I felt like I need to tell her that from the get-go.

Quick Reviews:

  1. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathon Tropper. (Darkly funny, dysfunctional family, death + divorce, made into a movie)
  2. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer. (WWII historical fiction, told through two characters, a German soldier and a blind French girl)
  3. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. (foster care system, a flower whisperer and the chance to heal old wounds)
  4. The Teenage Brain by Frances Jensen (what kids do during these years has a lasting impact on their brains, i.e. alcohol, drugs, technology habits and sports concussions)
  5. The Myth of the Spoiled Child by Alfie Kohn. (Are modern parenting practices really making a generation of spoiled kids? The evidence says NO.)
  6. Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller. (Great book for setting boundaries around digital creep. Excellent reminder and strategies for carving out time for renewal. Spiritual/Religious but not overly so.)
  7. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. (Powerful and incredibly well-written.)
  8. The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato. (Armchair travel to Venice with semi-interesting love story + historic intrigue)
  9. Iceland: Land of the Sagas by David Roberts. (A younger John Krakauer supplies the photography for this book. Part history, part travelogue. Just so-so)
  10. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. (10 years on this book seems very relevant to today’s news. Perfect for music lovers. A slow burn.)
  11. The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous and Smart with Money by Ron Lieber. (Excellent book with thoughtful ideas on how to help kids navigate money, responsibility and sense of self in the broader world.)

My favorites of all of these was All the Light We Cannot See, The Opposite of Spoiled, and Sabbath. The rest were plain good, except for The Glassblower of Murano. That one just didn’t do it for me at all.

Lastly, if you have any recommendations (books, sights, restaurants) for Amsterdam, Berlin, and/or Iceland, please let me know! I would love to hear them.

x Laura

5 Random Things: Nov. 7

It feels like the calm before the storm of the holiday season. The next two weeks will be a good time to put fall projects to bed, snip the last of withering plants from the garden, and to get my ducks in a row for family visits, end-of-year school programs and holiday parties.

To make sure we’re taking care of ourselves, my husband and I have challenged each other with a sticker chart (exactly like the ones we do for our kiddo) for working out. It’s amazing how much we enjoy getting a sticker for each workout. Just having it visible in the kitchen and being accountable to each other has made for good, friendly competition. Just trying to stay motivated!

In no particular category or order, here are 5 Random Things from this week:

  1. Heading out over the next months? Here are 11 Things You Should Never Delay Before Your Trip.
  2. With friends coming over it’s time to spruce up the place with 8 Ways to Decorate a Center Table, using things we already have, which I love.
  3. Fascinating video on how the wolves in Yellowstone have changed the flow of rivers, in a good way. Why Mother Nature usually knows best.
  4. How one woman became President of this online fashion darling, only 10 years out of university. And she’s killing it.
  5. Not happy with your black leggings? Me neither. Here are the 10 Best Black Leggings that take you from couch to cocktails.

Happy Friday!
x Laura

Nothing New – Day 24

Light jacket  and layers for cooler temps

Light jacket and layers for cooler temps

Wearing: Tulle 3/4 jacket / Anthropologie chambray tunic top (similar) / Levi’s Curve ID jeans / Miss Sixty lace-up boots / Anthropologie infinity scarf (similar) / Anne Klein bracelet watch / Francesca’s drop earrings (similar)

We dipped down in temperature and a moody, coastal-type mixture of rain, clouds and damp has settled in for the day. You never really know which end is up here weather-wise, so it’s nice to head out in layers. Underneath the hip-length jacket is a chambray tunic top, layered with a beaded infinity scarf. I think I’d like to travel in this kind of outfit too, layering and un-layering as needed. The lace-up boots are very comfortable and I could wear these all day, the only downside being it would take longer at airport security. Worth it? Heck yeah. Comfort = happy mama.

One trick that I learned this year was to layer a necklace or two underneath a scarf. That way when you take your scarf off, you still have on a great accessory.

x Laura

p.s. Is anybody else loving Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show? He makes my day. And the Roots as your house band? That is cool.

I like to see people laugh who are normally serious. — Jimmy Fallon