Friday, November 15, 2013

Carry-on Essentials For International Travel

Here is a list of goodies that I always have in my carry-on when I travel out of the country. Yes, I do have this much stuff in one bag! Sure, Dan makes fun of me for bringing everything but the kitchen sink, but you know what? He always comes to me when he needs something. Yeah, that's right...who's the smart packer now!? You'll be so thankful for all these little necessitates, they make traveling that much easier and enjoyable. I promise that you'll use all of them! Ok here we go.
I love these! All of the KIND bars are healthy + tasty = A rare combination
2. Hat This is my attempt at being somewhat fashionable. I like bringing a hat or beanie for the plane because they're great for hiding your smooshed sleepy face or blocking the overhead lights.

3. Colored Pencils For doodling when you get bored. It's a fun way to pass the time.

4.Travel Umbrella Any compact umbrella will do the trick. They come in handy when it's raining at your destination. To save space, research the weather before you leave and pack it in your checked luggage if sunny skies are in your immediate future.
5.Michael Kors Chronograph Watch My all time favorite watch -- pretty and waterproof! Perfect for traveling  if you plan on leaving your phone at home and need a reliable watch to keep track of time.
6.Solar Calculator + Notebook Features 120 lined pages and a solar-powered calculator. *Now this isn't something that you'll need on the plane, but I use it daily to figure currency exchanges and our budget while out and about. So I thought it would be best to add it to the list.
7.Eos Smooth Sphere Lip salve Sweet Mint This lip salve is the best. I feels so good on your lips and has an amazing mentholated cooling sensation. Your lips will stays moisturized for hours.
8. Ear Plugs {for sleeping} I bring these EVERY WHERE! Dan is a loud snorer so I wear them nightly...but they're also great for when you need to sleep on the plane and cancel out all that noise.
9.Travel Toothbrush & Toothpaste Sometimes it's refreshing to brush your teeth mid-flight.  Remember to bring some water with you...don't use the bathroom sink water in the plane!
10.Dogeared St. Christopher Necklace The Patron St. of Travel. It reminds me to say my prayers for travel blessings and protection. I have a cool story about this...A long time ago I was in the Doctors office getting shots for a trip to Egypt. My Mother was worried about all the commotion in the Middle East and she didn't feel that I should go. Just as she was telling me this, a shiny object caught my eye on the floor of the waiting room. It was a necklace and on the back of it was inscribed, "A Guardian Angel is Watching Over You". We both took it as a sign that I should go. To this day I wear that necklace every time I travel. I even stuck it in my shoe when I walked down the aisle on our wedding day.
11.Stainless Hot or Cold Thermos I like to fill this up after the security check. It's also convenient for backpacking. You can have a hot or cold drink throughout the day.
12.Headphone Splitter This is the best goes to Dan on this one. We only have one iPad, so we plug the splitter in so we can both watch movies or listen to music without bothering our neighbors or taking turns. Genius.
13.Wallet Well this is an obvious'd be surprised how many times I've forgotten it. Now I write it down on my packing check list.
14.Gold Makeup Pouch. It's nice to have a makeup touch-up when you're feeling a little frumpy. All that stale plane air and cramped seating can take a toll on you. I like to bring the basics...face lotion and powder, lipstick and mascara. *Make sure that your liquid make-up sizes adhere to TSA regulations.
15. Anti-Bacterial Hand Sanitizer Bath & Bodyworks has a fabulous selection of mini hand sanitizers that smell soooo good. I get a few of them and stick one in my carry-on and the rest in my checked luggage.
16.  Travel Brush,Hairbands & Bobby Pins My hair gets crazy knotted on long this is one of my biggies.
17.Voltage Converter Ya need to get this! It's very important if you're traveling abroad and need to use electrical outlets. Get a pack that has a complete world set...that way you can research your outlet fitting before you go and take the one(s) you'll need.
18. Face & Hand Wipes I don't go anywhere without them! Life savers {especially if you're traveling with babes}!
19.Lavanila Fragrance {Small Roller} A mini roller of perfume or  a sample spray is a real treat to bring along. Make sure the it's small enough for TSA regulations.
20. Kai Moisturizer This stuff smells so wonderful! I get compliments on it every time I wear it. A small lotion is always a good idea to bring on the can get really dry on a long flight.
21.Chimes Ginger Chews Candy Ginger chews are good for settling stomachs and fighting off nausea while flying.
22. Small Note Pad Incase you need to jot down a quick note.
23.Glasses I'm blind without them.
24.Pen For filling out customs forms and other important stuff.
25.iPad & Earbuds I love, love, love the iPad! We can play games on it, read books, watch movies, listen to music and for a small fee most airlines will hook you up with Wi-Fi. It's beyond great and so useful when you're on the plane or exploring a new country. Dan and I took it with us to Europe and stopped at cafes and McDonalds when we needed directions or to book a hotel and buy tickets to museums so we didn't have to wait in line. It's also useful for storing pictures when your SD card fills up in your camera. *Remember to bring your charger and an adapter.
26. Ritter Chocolate I am addicted to these German chocolates. Dan and I tried a new one almost everyday when we were in Berlin. They have marvelous options like White chocolate with hazelnuts, cocoa mousse, butter biscuit, marzipan, praline,  peppermint, apricot brandy etc. They are all amazing. You can buy them here in the US too! I've seen them at Trader Joes and Ralphs.
27.BYRON & Brown Leather Passport Cover My cousin got me a pretty leather passport cover for Christmas when I was young...she loved traveling and has passed the bug onto me. I use it to keep my passport clean and safe from torn pages and folds. Remember to bring your Drivers License too! It's smart to bring an extra form of ID and photo copies of each {to put in your checked bags}.
28.Scarf Believe it or not, I find the a scarf to be one of the most versatile travel accessories. It's my take on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy {a towel is the most useful thing in the universe}. I use it as a cover-up when I sleep on the plane, a hand-towel when I can't find anything else, a blanket when I get cold, a head scarf to keep my hair back, a tie for my bag etc. the possibilities are endless.
29. Trident Tropical Twist or Orbit Gum It's nice to have fresh breath and it's also a good icebreaker for meeting new friends. "You want a piece?" "Oh sure thanks. Now let me tell you my life story." ;) I really like Tridents Tropical Twist. It tastes so good and I swear you can smell that wonderful gum from a mile away... everyone will want some.
30. Mighty Leaf Vanilla Bean Tea Because it's a beautiful thing to relax with your favorite cup of tea.
31.Journal I keep a travel journal and write about the things we've done/seen together. It's mostly little notes and bullet points of places or moments that I don't want to forget {the things we ate in Italy or the name of our funny tour guide or a recipe from Positano...}
I've had my camera for about 2 years now and I absolutely love it. I highly recommend it!
33.Levi's Waxed Canvas Backpack A midsized canvas backpack or shoulder purse is perfect for a carry-on. I can fit all these goodies in it and then roll it up when I need to put it in my backpacking backpack or suitcase. I would suggest bringing a smaller, more formal purse as well for days when you can leave your big items at the hotel.
*Not pictured --> I always wear a jacket on the plane and pack an extra outfit just incase our luggage gets lost! And when I travel with little people, I bring coloring books, small puzzles, easy/clean crafts and lots of snacks to keep them happy and occupied.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls

We made Vietnamese spring rolls the other day. I just love how healthy and flavorful they are. The crispy veggies are so refreshing. I do believe this is may favorite way to eat greens. I love dipping them in peanut or fish sauce.
2oz rice vermicelle noodles
8 rice wrappers
12 large shrimp
1 bag of sprouts
1 bunch of Thai basil
1 bunch of mint
1 bunch of green onions
1 cucumber
8 leaves of lettuce
*Peanut sauce for dipping! If you can't find it at your local store, you can make it from scratch.

Don't forget the lettuce! ^^^

 And a handy husband to help cut the veggies ;) ^^^

Rice Vermicelle {aka Bún Quế Lâm } ^^^

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

DIY Sharpie Mug {Breaking Bad}

We were OBSSESED with the Breaking Bad series. Dan was so sad when it ended, I thought I could cheer him up with a daily reminder of his favorite character Heisenberg. Now he feels like a bada$$ when he drinks his morning coffee.

Here's what you'll need:

-1 ceramic mug
-Sharpie (I also used a Sharpie paint pen)

You can draw anything you want! Pop that mug into the oven at 350F for 40 minutes and your Sharpie design will stay put!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Honeymoon Part 1: Barcelona, Spain

Dan and I LOVE traveling. Neither of us had ever been to Europe (besides a layover here and there), so we thought that our honeymoon would be the perfect opportunity to take time off of work and see the places that we were dreaming to see. Asking for a month off was a bit of a stretch, but luckily our jobs were flexible enough (and bosses gracious enough) to swing it. Once we got the a-ok, Dan and I began brainstorming for possible destinations. “Should we go to one place and stay for a few weeks or should we travel all over and only stay a few days in each spot? Hmmmmm…what to do?” We ended up doing a whirlwind trip, stopping in 10 different countries and 17 cities! We thought it would be best to see as much as we could with the time we had.

Our first half of the trip was a Mediterranean cruise that started in Barcelona, Spain and ended in Venice, Italy with 8 stops along the way. And for the second half of our honeymoon we bought a Eurail Pass and traveled in a huge loop that ended in Paris, France. It was the perfect trip -- a grand adventure with my hub. We loved every second of it, even the running around like chickens to catch trains and getting lost in Berlin and Istanbul! It was all magical.
-- Honeymoon Part 1 –
1 of 14
Our plane landed in Barcelona, Spain and we had 3 amazing days of exploring the city until we boarded the ship. We stayed in a beautiful hotel called AC Sants located near the SantsTrain Station and Plaza de España. The front desk was very helpful... they mapped-out all of the places we were hoping to see. It also helped that Dan is fluent in Spanish, God bless him and his bilingualism!

We took a walk down to the beach. It was fun to see the hustle and bustle of the Mediterranean cafe's and the colorful changing closets on the boardwalk. Dan jumped in the water and swam out to the furthest buoy {this is a habit of his}. The water was WARM and the beach was spectacular.

{Barcelona's fish sculpture, known as Peix in Catalan by Frank O. Gehry}

{Exploring La Boqueria was my favorite!}

{So many bright colors and tasty treats!}
There were tons of mini restaurants with bar seating in La Boqueria. We found a crowed counter at El Quim {crowded usually means good food right?} and we snagged two seats after a couple left. People were elbow to elbow, drinking wine and eating beautiful dishes like huevos fritos con llangueta y chipirones {Fried eggs with baby squid in ink sauce}.

It's always somewhat hard getting pictures of the two of us together when we travel {unless if you do the one-arm selfie}. Our tip is to ask someone who's holding a camera, chances are they're from out of town as well and they won't mind helping you out.  Offer to return the favor. "Can you please take our picture? We can take one of you too!"

{Gaudi's Casa Batlló and Casa Mila}

The gorgeous Sagrada Familia! Construction started in 1882 with Francisco de Paula del Villar and then with Gaudí until his death in 1926. Since then different architects have continued the work. They say it will take another 20 years to complete. Yikes! But what a magnificent sight it was!

{Feeling very small}

 {At Park Guell}

{Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia AKA Barcelona Cathedral}

{A lit door in the depths of the cathedral. What's inside!? }

I heard of this little gem -- Granja La Pallaresa on a travel show and knew we had to find it. They serve crispy churros  that you dip in thick hot chocolate! Gaaaa it was to die for. We got lost along the way and must have asked 15 people for directions. We finally found it amongst a menagerie of windy little streets in El Barri Gòtic.
Carrer de Petritxol 11, 08002 Barcelona, Spain (El Barri Gòtic)
 P.S. Danny looks so handsome ^^^^

{In our happy place} 

 {I dig this house. When can we move in?}

The McDonalds in Europe are super luxurious two-story mansions with plush chairs, chandeliers and real drinking glasses. They even had macarons! We had to try one. Why can't we have fancy McD's at home?

{Barcelona you are beautiful and amazing}

Check out Part 2 of our trip in Monte Carlo!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

German Puffed Pancakes {AKA Dutch Babies}

I love the weekends...we can sleep in as loooong as we want, wake up and make a glorious breakfast instead of the usual OJ chug and protein bar during the workweek. Today I got up before Dan and surprised him with German puffed pancakes. They are incredibly easy to make and so yummy. I like to eat mine with melted butter, squeezed lemon and powdered sugar. You can also top them with berries, whipped cream and or syrup, whatever you want! Long live the weekend!

Puffed Pancakes:
{Recipe yields one puffed pancake}
*They are really big. One pancake will serve one person.

½ cup milk
½ cup flour
Dash of salt
Dash of cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, salt, cinnamon, vanilla and sugar in a bowl.
Melt the butter in an 8-inch pie pan while the oven in preheating
Pour the batter into the melted butter pie pan.
Bake 10-12 minutes {or until edges have puffed-up a few inches and turned golden brown}.
Serve hot! Top with butter, lemon juice, powdered sugar, maple syrup, or fruit -- whatever your heart desires!