The Making Of Harry Potter: A Witch’s Tale

The REAL Hogwarts

Slytherin pride doesn’t start to describe my slight obsession with Harry Potter. I’ve been known to make people take the Pottermore test when I first meet them to find out whether we’re compatible, and I try to visit something new that’s focused on Harry Potter every time I come to London.

The funny thing is, I grew up conservatively so I actually wasn’t allowed to read/watch anything to do with Harry Potter. I really didn’t know a whole lot about it until I reached my twenties, and then the floodgates were released. But I’m not mad. In my family that just wasn’t a part of how we were raised, and we had lots of other experiences and books and movies that we watched that other families didn’t. The best thing about coming to love Harry Potter later in life is that I have a fresh passion for it. One that sometimes leaves me acting like the nine year old who just read The Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time.

Yesterday was one of such slightly obsessive days when I got to live out an absolute dream: walking on the set of the Harry Potter movies.

I was really excited that I bought a joint pass to the Warner Bros Studio because that meant I didn’t have to worry about bussing from/back to London/the studio. And let me tell you, it is not close. It’s about a 45 minute ride. As in, we watched an entire Harry Potter movie there and back on the bus. The great part of this, though, was that I paid about $100 for transportation to and from the location plus a five hour long experience. Not bad considering that Universal Studios in California is $150 and there are two rides and absolutely NO props or costumes.

The tour started out in the great hall of Harry Potter where you could find some of the most notable Harry Potter costumes, and a collection of house robes. It was pretty amazing to be standing there on the same cobblestones that the actors had filmed.

Of course, I had to celebrate my Hogwarts house (#SlytherinPride) during this whole process. I only wish that I had been able to bring my robes. Yes I have robes. But there’s no way that packing that beauty would have been worth the wrinkles. I did, however, bring my wand that I had custom made a few years back. It’s been with me to Universal CA, so I felt like it was necessary to continue the tradition by bringing it with me to London.

Looking back, I have a feeling I would’ve spent twice as long in the exhibits if I hadn’t been severely jet-lagged but I still had such a great time at all of the photo ops and learning about the process of filming. One of my favorite memories is standing in Dumbledore’s study. I had never noticed that all of the paintings on the walls in there are of the school’s faculty…with their eyes closed. It’s little details like this that really make the Harry Potter series, and the franchise as a whole, breathtaking.

Getting to step aboard the Hogwart’s Express was pretty amazing as well. I don’t know how they fit an entire train in the building, but let that be a bit of an indication of how huge this place was. If you ever plan a trip out here I would definitely say give yourself a solid 4 hours to explore. And also to shop. Honestly the store at this location was so incredibly huge and had merchandise I’ve never seen anywhere else. Of course I bought a little bit of swag…or a lot. You’ll never know because I’m the only one who sees my credit card statements. The point is, if you’re going to go somewhere magical…make sure you come back with something worth talking about.

10 Confessions From A Travel Blogger

If you hate planes this is the post for you. Or, rather, flying. I love planes. Travel in general is usually a bit of a whirlwind, but it can look a lot more glamourous that it actually is. So, to give you a peek behind the curtain I’ve decided to tell you ten of my most deadly secrets:

  1. I don’t like flying
    TBH I’m pretty indifferent when it comes to flying, but I definitely don’t like it. I’m terrified of planes crashing while I’m on them and turbulence scares the shit out of me (sorry for the swearing, mom). But you know…it’s a small price to pay when it comes to having experiences of a lifetime and I have to weigh my fear against my longing to see more of the world.
  2. I eat McDonalds and Starbucks when I travel
    Stop your little judgy-judge self. I definitely do like supporting small businesses but something I’ve noticed about those places is that hey often don’t have wi-fi and are cramped for space. Which if I’m trying to write makes life a little difficult. I also have a lot of food allergies and so sometimes I just want something predictable and easy to choose from. Fun fact: I’ve tried McDonalds in +10 countries and the menus are ALL different! 
  3. I actually really like most hostels
    I know at some point I’m supposed to outgrow hostels, but I really like being around other people who share my love of travel. That being said, I would NEVER stay in a hostel in the U.S. because the culture is completely different, but when I’m traveling around the globe they give me some great opportunities to meet new people and have new experiences. 
  4. Sometimes solo travel gets really lonely
    Even though I’m a class 5 introvert I still get really lonely sometimes when I’m traveling. Most of the time I’m great, and I definitely prefer to travel solo but there are definitely days that are rougher than others. Usually to fix this phase I plug into my Facebook group of girls who travel, try to schedule meetups with my friends or join a walking tour. 
  5. I walk miles and miles and miles
    Something that you don’t really get to see is just how much I walk when I’m traveling. I mean miles and miles and hours and hours. I’ve always loved walking, but I also love the gems that I can find when I’m walking around a city. That being said, I never walk alone late at night and try to stay in mostly populated areas so that I’m safe. 
  6. My favorite thing to do is go clothing shopping
    This is kind of the worst because I’m a backpacker which means that I have basically no room for clothes when I travel…and yet somehow I’m always buying clothes. Usually I’ll just choose a few amazing pieces because of space restrictions, but absolutely love walking through shops when I’m traveling.
  7. I love old churches
    Churches are my happy place. I was raised very religious, and while I don’t hold the exact belief system of religion that I was brought up with churches always bring me peace and anchor me. In Europe it’s also beautiful because these places of worship have been around for so many centuries and the craftmanship is just jaw-dropping. Not defending the history of the church, but there will always be a part of me deeply tied to it.
  8. I make a lot of dumb mistakes and have to laugh them off
    So this morning I tried to get on a train and could not for the life of me figure out how to put the ticket in the machine. No this is not my first time in the U.K. Yes, I have ridden public transportation here before. But for some reason when it came time to slide my ticket in, I went completely blank. The  lady standing in line behind me basically cheerleadered me on until I figured it out but it was a great example of one of those times that I do something really stupid and have to just laugh it off. When you’re traveling around to different cultures and countries this is going to probably happen a lot. One of the most useful travel tools you can develop is humor. 
  9. I have social anxiety
    Let me tell you what happens when I get around a group of people: my mind, body, and soul start shutting down. Throughout traveling I’ve been able to acknowledge this and develop some strategic ways to make traveling work for me even though I hate being around people…especially unfamiliar people. For instance, I’ve invested in noise canceling headphones. I take breaks throughout the day to go back to my hostel/Airbnb. Not optional, I force myself to take breaks. I bring books with me. I plan like nobody’s business so I don’t get overwhelmed when I leave my home base. There is no right way to travel. Customizing your experience so that it makes you happy is the only thing you need to worry about. 
  10. I go to bed really early, and wake up really early when I travel
    You might think that the party life is what traveling is all about, but unless I’m in Copenhagen, this is just not how I travel. Referencing back to my previous point, being around a ton of people is really exhausting for me, so waking up really early (like 6am or 7am) and taking a walk around a city can be a really refreshing way to start my day. In order to do this, though, I have to go to bed pret-ty early which means no late night partying for me…unless I’m in Copenhagen.
  11. BONUS: Jet lag is from the devil
    You may have heard of those people who jet-lag barely affects. I am not one of them. That’s why I’m finishing writing this post at 4am and why the hostel workers were like “Do you have to be up for a flight?” Nope. I’m just terrible at getting my body to cooperate. It usually takes me about three days to get over jet-lag so I usually don’t plan a whole lot of interactive activities during those days. Why? Because I’m not a saint when I’m tired. And now you know.

London: A Writer’s Paradise

The first time I came to London I hated it. Like really hated it. The busy backwards streets, the millions of people, the high prices…it was all too much for my little introvert mind. And don’t even get me started on the Tube. At the time, the thought of commuting underground absolutely terrified me.

A lot has changed in the last five years. I’ve visited London more and it has started to feel more like my city. I started to feel more comfortable wandering beyond the tourist spots early in the morning. I learned to look both ways when I cross a street…just in case. And obviously after living in Paris taking an underground metro is second nature to me, now. It’s comical, when I think back, that this year I decided that London was going to be where I spent my birthday. My birthday is a really important day of the year, and I’m pretty particular about how I spend it. I’ve been in London less than 24 hours and I already know I made the right decision…but it’s still laughable.

I bought this plane ticket back in March when a lot of things were uncertain for me. I didn’t know where I was going to live, work or what direction I was headed. I didn’t even have my cat, which is a tragedy to think about. When I saw the non-stop tickets from Seattle to London I knew I needed to jump on the opportunity, but I also knew that with such an unknown future I didn’t know if I’d even be able to get the time off from whatever job I was working six months down that road. So naturally I bought a ticket.

And now I’m sitting in a café in London. Different job, different living situation, different life. The lesson to learn here is that when you make travel a priority you might be surprised how the universe moves to make it happen.

There’s another reason I decided to take this trip, beyond the fact that it’s my birthday on Wednesday and that’s because I wanted to really dive into a writing state of mind. What better place than London? While I’m here my #1 priority is to immerse myself in writing. That could mean learning about writers, sitting here writing while I’m severely jet-lagged or meeting up with other writers while I’m here. Also just having more experiences to write about. I want it all. And I need it.

The last couple years have been pretty intense and amidst those times my writing has dropped off in a lot of ways, which is tragic since all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was a kid was to write. So here I am in one of the greatest cities in the world, soaking up as much knowledge as I can and typing away on my little blog. Let’s see what adventures we can have.

P.s. Tomorrow I’m going to Harry Potter Land…aka Warner Bros Studios London!

Of Many, One: National Women’s Equality Day

Wake up at 7am. Feed the cat. Make some tea and breakfast. Pick out some clothes. Try not to wake him up. Brush my teeth. Lint roll all of my black clothes. White cat. Pack my backpack. Make sure I have my badge. Forget my phone. Put lavender in the diffuser. Run to the bus. Make the bus. Realize I forgot my phone.

This is what this morning looked like. It wasn’t glamourous or even noteworthy and in a lot of cases it would be considered a fail. But I’m learning the steps to a new dance. In the last two months I’ve become a cat mom, moved myself into my first apartment, and started a new (dream) job. It’s been crazy. Usually one of those things would be enough to upset a daily routine, but I’ve been juggling them all while having to realize that I’m only one person.

Sometimes I make it to yoga, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I forget to change the kitty because I’m trying to remember to get groceries. Unfortunately one of the big things that’s been pushed to the back burner is my writing, which you’ve probably noticed from the complete lack of posts going up on this blog. It’s been a crazy couple of months and I just haven’t had the time or energy to type in between moving couches, giving flea treatments, and trying to spend time with people who are close to me.

But this is our life as modern-day women, isn’t it? We jump from one crazy thing to another, balancing each while smiling in a pair of taupe chunk-heeled pumps. In celebration of National Women’s Equality Day I decided to take a few minutes today to do something that take my life as a modern day business women and gives it spice: my community.

I feel so incredibly honored to have a supportive gent who has moved far more furniture than anyone should and my friends who have given me advice about how to take care of my cat, given me advice on how to ask for a decent salary (it’s really hard ladies, but you’re worth it!), and pushed me to keep creating even though I have a case of the crazies. Community is what it takes to thrive. And another community that’s been an inspiration in the midst of the chaos has been the one at R. Riveter.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
Me with the Corbin backpack from R. Riveter. Use code RREMILEEM for 15% off your order 🙂

Let me tell you, these women are absolute powerhouses and embody the idea that although we’re from different backgrounds and different geographical locations we are stronger together. We can make a difference by taking our skills and our strengths and building, instead of breaking. I’m so honored to have been a part of a community of women so committed to change. One of the most beautifully impactful ways being Marketplace which is a  collection that donates proceeds directly to an award for other military spouse owned businesses.

We can make a difference. We just have to remember that when things get tough, it’s the village that raises us up to our potential.

 

7 Share-Worthy Things To Inspire Your Friday

Welcome to Friday, one of my personal favorite days of the week, even though I know the general consensus is that Fridays are the devil. I’ve decided to start compiling some wonderful things that inspire me throughout the week so that I can share them with you beautiful people. This might be a book I’m reading, or a pair of shoes I’m obsessing over, or a new airline I tried out, or a coffee shop that I stumbled upon, or someone inspirational. It really can be anything. So hold onto your butts. It’s time to be inspired.

1. Avelynn by Marissa Campbell

It probably surprises absolutely no one that I’m starting off with a book, since I’m absolutely obsessed with books. I’m just now starting this book and I’m super excited to see where it goes. I found out about it because I saw it in a social media post from another geek girl on social media. I’ll be sure to post whether or not it’s a must-read!

2. Class Pass

As part of my “Don’t become a couch potato” initiative, I’ve started a workout schedule that allows me to veg over geek stuff while maintaining my healthy. This has meant saying hello to a couple of things. First off, I’ve started using online workouts at home, with Beachbody On Demand. I’ve also signed up for this awesome program that’s basically like Movie Pass, called (creatively) Class Pass. Basically you pay a set amount each month and you get points which you can use to attend classes at a ton of different workout places. This means you don’t have to pay $150/month on a gym membership to one place that has limited class options. Instead, you can pay as little as $35/month.

3. Jasmine Stacey Collection

I just learned about this amazing lingerie line that’s tailored to women who need just a little boost of confidence due to medical procedures. I love how the founder is from this community herself and that she’s filling a void for women to feel sexy and beautiful, no matter what life has thrown at them. I love the empowerment, and I love the vision behind this movement.

4. Badass Herstory

So this is a social/art project I just found out about that is about getting in touch with yourself through artistic expression, which is like my favorite thing ever. Basically this is all headed by the artist and craftivist Badass Crosstitch who is awesome in her own right. The challenge is this: Create a 12 x 12 square of fabric that tells who you are. It can be cross-stitched, but it can also be made out of anything. The idea is to then send all these pieces in to create on giant art installment. I love the idea of small pieces becoming one giant art installment and I will definitely be sending in my own little 12 x 12 square. Find out more HERE

5. Stitch Gawd 

This girl got ME to start cross-stitching. I’ve done pretty much every other type of stitching there is, but I always avoided cross-stitch before. I’d love to say I didn’t know why I never wanted to start doing it, but I know exactly why: it was boring. In my mind, cross-stitch was that boring thing you see in a diarrhea brown frame that says “Bless this home.” But THIS. This. Was. Different. I love the idea of combining hip-hop and cross-stitch and I’m currently working on combining my love of gaming with cross-stitch. Absolutely obsessed.

6. The Corbin backpack 

This past month I got to test out the newest backpack from R. Riveter, The Corbin, and I kinda sorta really loved it. This beautiful backpack is made by military spouses in the USA and is absolutely stunning. The straps are super silky, and the stitching feels like it’s going to last a million years. The backpack comes in all black, and brown and black (which is the one I tested). Check out more details by clicking HERE.

7. Since You’re Not Racist

This podcast is hosted by one of my lovely friends and is a great discussion of racial topics that most people wouldn’t approach because…well, they’re not racist. Tune in and check out the banter!

What’s inspiring you today? Let me know in the comments! 

Small Business Saturday | The PNW Dream

Corinna and I have known each other since we were super young. As a fellow child artist, I was always (in the best way) a little jealous of her mad talent for illustration. As an adult, I am more than happy to support it. Yesterday was the grand opening of Corinna’s new shop/clothing line The PNW Dream, a children’s clothing brand that has a the beauty of Pacific Northwest nature, sprinkled with everything I love about European children’s clothing: timelessness, and magic. Here’s a little more about this beautiful online shop:

Maybe I should introduce myself to begin with, my name is Corinna Ren. Mother, freelance artist, maker and lover of the earth we live on. Yesterday I launched a business called The PNW Dream, with another wonderful momma named Desiree. This business has been a dream really, and it has been in the works for a very long time. The PNW Dream currently sells handmade kids clothes, but we are planning to quickly expand to older and adult sizes as well as some other PNW themed goods… but we hope our company will also do more than that.


Let’s talk about the PNW brands

The PNW brands are popping up all over. As much as that might mean a lot of competition, I’m loving it and find it really beautiful. There is a clear and strong culture emerging from a generation of people who grew up during one of the greatest transitions in history to the Information Age.

What makes our generation stand apart is that we were there pre daily-tech to this time now, where everyone has a smart phone and is constantly trying to maintain an online presence etc. etc. We grew up being kicked outside to entertain ourselves. We grew up hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest beaches and forests.

I don’t think we realized it when we were small, just how much all of those experiences would mean to us. Especially since we got to enjoy them without the distraction of what our friends from school were also doing at the same time. We weren’t constantly being fed updates and checking for approvals on our own updates and posts. We had the incredible privilege of spending our childhood present.

The same way Nintendo has massively succeeded in appealing to our nostalgia with their Pokémon Go and other crazy re-releases… these PNW brands appeal to a cultural bond we all share, the one of our upbringing in this beautiful landscape.


Why that means something

The fact that so many PNW brands are popping up, and not only that, but are gaining traction and finding success, means that there is an identity ingrained in the people who buy these products. That’s our generation, we have discovered how much we identify with the PNW.

What’s really important to realize is that the generation following us is the first one growing up knowing nothing else from smartphones and constant information overload.

We don’t even know yet what the full effects will mean although we are starting to find out. Are these kids experiencing the outdoors? Are these kids grasping the beauty that they live in? Are their parents sharing that beauty with them?


Our brand

So, many people these days are creating brands, starting business, advertising on Facebook, fighting for an instagram following, and we don’t want to add to the noise.

While garnering support and making sales will be important to the success of our business. We also have goals and aspire to uphold values that will help raise a generation of kids who also get to experience and love the world we live in, distraction free and immersed in the depth and wonder of nature.

We want to create a brand that resounds with the people who buy our products, but we also want to spark an interest and love for the outdoors in the generation that follows.


Building a culture

Culture is essential to the upbringing of a developing mind. It builds identity and stability. How cool is it that many PNW brands are contributing to building a strong culture of people who enjoy the outdoors, and who share that love with their kids?

That’s what we want to be a part of, that’s what we want to give towards. We feel so privileged that as we take photos and showcase our products, we get to hit the trails, find the waterfalls, let our kids throw rocks and get their feet wet in order to do that.

Who knows how far we will go, but we are excited to give it a go. No matter what, we are just glad to be adding to a culture that I hope will hold tight. A culture that I hope will be a powerful and defiant movement against the destructive and draining social media obsession.

If our vision resonates with you, there are so many ways you can support us! Follow us on Instagram, like us on Facebook, spread our brand, or shop at our store! If you have ideas you’d like to share or just want to send us a hello, feel free to email us at shop@thepnwdream.com.

You can also find my design brand at www.rogueren.com

Tea Talk 12: Paige Pilar | American Expat In Italy

Paige and I are part of the same travel group on Facebook. It’s a pretty awesome community of bad-ass babes who travel the world and support each other while padding their passports. Paige is a new resident to Italy, and has some seriously gorgeous photos over on her Instagram. Without further adieu, here’s Paige!

What started your passion for travel?

My passion for traveling began when I was younger, I always said I wanted to have a job where I can travel the world; because I knew there was more this world had to offer and then what I saw on a daily basis. When me and my husband moved to Italy a year ago, I just told myself that I was going to take advantage of this opportunity to see as much of Europe and the world as possible. So far I’ve seen 10 countries since last November.

What’s one travel tip you think the world should know?

One travel tip that I think the world should know is to wake up early. I think this is a good tip because so many people think they have so much time to do and see everything which isn’t true. I like getting up early when visiting another country because I want to try their breakfast foods if they have them and walk around a bit to feel like a local. Also Europeans start early as well so I personally like to get in before the crowd gets out of hand. Getting up early is also a must because a lot of places close between 2pm-5pm in Europe, this including restaurants and gas stations depending on where you’re visiting.

What’s your favorite cultural habit you’ve picked up?

My favorite cultural habit that I’ve picked up would have to come from living in Italy. I always like pasta and wine but I eat it literally every time I go out now. I don’t have the desire to make pasta at home because I feel like Italy is known for pasta and amazing lasagna. So I eat out a lot which a lot of Italians do, they are very big on food. I also love wine tasting and going to winery’s and learning the history of it, which I wasn’t that interested in back when I was living in the states.

What would you suggest for other women who are thinking about traveling?

I would suggest to other women thinking about traveling, to be cautious and aware of your surroundings. I personally have never traveled alone but even if you go with someone this suggestion still applies, because everyone doesn’t have the best intentions. Example I and my friend went to Burano, Italy and we got some food but she had to take cash out. Now I waited at the restaurant while she went to the ATM and this man took a photo of her, she was a little freaked out because of course that’s not normal, but that just goes to show you that you never know who is watching you and their intentions.

What’s one failure that you learned a lot from, when it comes to travel?

One failure that I learned a lot from traveling is not taking out enough money to do everything I would have liked. I have been on some trips where I just didn’t save enough or didn’t prioritize my money right. I would recommend if you are traveling on a budget to look up prices of every place you may want to visit in that country, and covert the money into your currency so you know in advance how much to bring.

What’s one fear that you overcame, while traveling?

One of my fears that I have over came while traveling would have to be over thinking if a terrorist attack would happen while I’m in a country or not. I use to be so scared of traveling because you hear all these stories and stuff on the news. But I overcame that fear because I started to have the mindset that life is too short to let a “what If” thought determine if I was going to travel or not.

What is your favorite way to travel (ex. plane, train, automobile) and why?

My favorite way to travel depends on what’s cheaper and what’s the driving distance. Usually for me a plane is cheaper then driving because Italy gas prices are ridiculous and Europeans are more impatient drivers than Americans. I do like driving but the traffic is horrible in Italy so I think that’s where my preference came from. When I’m in the states I usually drive from state to states because it’s less traffic and I get to my destination in a timely fashion.

What is one piece of advice that you wish you could give your past self?

One piece of advice I wish I could give my past self would have to be “not to wait”. I feel like life is so short and waits for nobody and if you want to travel then do it, “what’s the hold up?” Time waits on nobody and we only have one life so why not live it to our fullest with no regrets. I use to get caught up in hanging with my friends but if I knew what I know now, I would have travelled a lot sooner instead of clubbing or shopping.

What is one place at the top of your bucket list that you’d like to visit?

One place at the top of my bucket list would have to be Thailand. Thailand is so gorgeous and plus I’ve always wanted to go to Asia. Also I love Thai food which is one of my favorites so it’s only right to visit. I will be making that dream come true next summer with my husband, we plan to take two weeks off to travel Thailand, Philippians, and Malaysia. I am pretty thrilled about that particular trip because it will be the longest one we have ever taken.

Let’s talk about your current trip! What was your inspiration for your adventure?

My current trip was to Burano which is in Italy it’s about an hour away from Venice. The inspiration for this trip was vibrant colors, I love pastel colors, colors alone especially bright colors just make me so happy and makes me think of a carefree spirit. I had been trying to go to Burano for the longest, but the weather was never right or something would come up, so I was excited to actually make that a day trip. It was one of my favorite trips and I didn’t even do a lot but just admired Burano’s beauty.

What has been the best/toughest part of your most recent trip?

The best part of my Burano trip was the weather being perfect and the beautiful colored buildings. Also on the way to Burano you have to stop at Murano which is known for hand making glass so that detour made the trip amazing as well. In Murano they show you how the glass is made and have all these little stores filled of so many unique glass sculptures, chandeliers, watches, and more. The toughest part of my trip was having to wait in line for the ferry to get from Murano to Burano because the crowd was crazy packed. The line took about an hour because the ferries are only so big, so next time maybe getting down there earlier will help prevent that.

What’s one thing you’ve learned from your most recent trip?

One thing I learned from my most recent trip is to not take offense to the locals that might stare a lot, because a heads up they will… and that to understand we all have different ways we was brought up, so what we may think is rude may be normal to other cultures. Another thing that I learned about myself during this recent trip was that I didn’t know how much I admired architect and colors as much as I do. Also that I love meeting new people and talking to them and getting to know their background and culture.

For anyone who would like to keep up on my travels I post on Instagram : @SunkissPilar and Facebook as well under Paige Pilar Henderson.

Tea Talk is a monthly series featuring extraordinary women who travel around the world! If you know someone who should be featured, or would like to be featured yourself, shoot me an email at morehouseemilee@gmail.com 

Staying Grounded When Chaos Hits

I definitely don’t live a standard life. And the thing about being a risk taker is that sometimes things fall short. And other times, everything falls short at the same time. Which is pretty much what happened last week. Let’s just say a lot of things crashed and burned. But that’s life, isn’t it? One minute everything is one way, and in an instant shit changes.

Since it seems like a lot of people in my life are experiencing chaos hitting the fan, I thought I would share some of my go-to techniques for staying grounded when life isn’t playing nice. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Gardening

I’ve loved gardening since I was born. No joke. I think my love of gardening came from my Irish/English grandpa who always had a massive garden and would teach me how to take care of each plant and honor the earth it was planted in. Being around plants soothes me. At the moment I’ve created a bit of a garden with some vegetables, roses, herbs and the most beautiful hydrangea ever. When I’m feeling super stressed out I go and sit out on my porch and just take in the reminder that growth will still happen, no matter what life feels like at the moment. Related image

2. Reading

I own more books than is probably healthy, and I try really hard to manage my addiction to buying them. This one I blame on my mom, since I grew up with an entire library to choose from. I love the wisdom and dependability of books. They’re still going to be there waiting for you to learn, or love, or let you leap into a fire pit to save an entire world. Who cares how your day way? There are adventures to be had. Right now I’m reading these books:
The First American
How We Got to Now
The Name of the WindImage result for hermione book gif

3. Meditation/Prayer

If you’ve followed along on this blog for a while, you know that I’m a Christian and my faith is a really important way for me to bring balance to my life and worldview. When things get hectic and chaotic I take time to step back. I turn off my electronics and meditate to recenter. I think this is a really important part of being human, whether you’re connecting religion to it or not. Because when we find peace in ourselves, the outside world has a way of falling together, as well. Image result for meditation gif

4. Art/Cooking

I’m an artist and I do art. A lot. Whether it’s knitting, crochet, painting, cross-stitch (my latest craze), sewing, or making a recipe from scratch, creating with my hands brings me back to my center and calms me. I’ve always been like this, and I think it’s the same for a lot of people in my family. We’re makers. It’s in our DNA. We couldn’t stop even if we wanted to. Image result for cook little mermaid gif

5. Standing on my bed and lip syncing to Miley Cyrus

Ha. Ha. You thought these were all going to be adult and normal. Gotcha! I’m a huge Miley Cyrus fan (judge me if you must, you scoundrel) and I’ve found that her album Bangerz is just about the perfect lip syncing music to get that “F U” attitude off your heart. Be thou warned, that these are explicit lyrics. But, ya know, sometimes you need so yell a few swear words to get your mind back on track. The point is, have fun. You’ll be amazed how much of a difference it makes.

What do you do to re-center yourself? I’d love to hear about it! 

The Sunshine Blogger Award

A while back I got nominated for a blog award and I’ve been so busy with work that I never got a chance to react to it. So, first off, I’m so sorry for the delay but a huge thank you to Jordyn at Living on the Upbeat!

As you all know, I kind of fell into blogging as a way for me to handle all the crazy that is solo travel, and it’s been a crazy four years as I’ve met people around the world and through the internet who have inspired me to do better, live better, and open my mind to new ideas.

Here are the questions Jordyn had for me:

My answers:

1) If you could travel back in time, what time period would you visit? Probably the late 1800s-early 1900s because I’m obsessed with that time period and the clothing.

2) What is your favorite animal? Giraffe

3) Are you a morning person or a night person? I think I’m naturally a night person, but because of work I’ve had to adapt to being a morning person.

4) Who do you look up to? Any woman who has taken a little and made a lot from it.

5) If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Reading people’s minds

6) Coffee, tea, or neither? Definitely a tea person.

7) What is the most interesting place you have visited? Interesting? Hmmm probably Morocco. I would love to go back!

8) Something on your bucket list? Buy a house.

9) What are some small things that make your day better? I love being able to be in my own space. I’m a true introvert, and being in my room/house/garden make me feel so much more alive.

10) Dream car? Don’t know, don’t care.

11) Who’s your go-to band/artist when you can’t decide what to listen to? Classical music.

My Nominations:

  1. Samantha Deubel Photography
  2. Joy Filled Wander
  3. Traveling The World Solo
  4. Celeste Noche
  5. The Wandering Ginger
  6. The Bearded Genderqueer
  7. Camino Casamel
  8. Life of Fairy Tales
  9. Mikayla Jane Travels
  10. Madison McGhee 

Questions:

1) Favorite summer activity? 

2) Favorite book of all time? 

3) What is your biggest goal for the year? 

4) Do you have any pets?

5) What are your hobbies? 

6) Favorite holiday? 

7) Best vacation you’ve had? 

8) Favorite quote? 

9) How many languages do you speak? 

10) What’s a nonprofit you support/love?

The Rules:

1) Thank blogger(s) who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
2) Answer the 10 questions the blogger asked you.
3) Nominate 10 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
4) List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Three Crazy Trips I’m Planning For 2018

I’ve been pretty silent about my trips this year. I think it has to do with a little bit of burn-out surrounding the whole “travel blogger” thing. I started backpacking because I loved seeing the world and because I’m a writer who starts to lose their sanity if they aren’t writing every day—never to get attention. After traveling, and living abroad, I kind of hit a wall as far as what my motivation for travel was. Was it to get followers? Likes? Pad my portfolio?

There isn’t anything wrong with any of these things, but I needed to take a step back from the spotlight (if you will) and rediscover why I want to travel. The answer I came up with is that I want and need to travel for my own artistic inspiration and spiritual certainty.

As far as art goes, discovering the classic works of art has always been one of my number one goals with travel. I’m in love with the works of Van Gogh, Renoir, Gauguin and Monet. I also love seeing new illustrative styles and sculptures. As a writer, I’m also always looking to discover the literary backgrounds of the places I travel to. I’ve visited the hometowns of Shakespeare, Beatrix Potter, Ernest Hemingway, and Charles Dickens just to name a few. I hope to see more.

All that being said, I’ve thought long and hard about the three trips I’ll be taking this year. These are where I’ve decided. FUN FACT: None of them are on the list of “Must Visit Spots for Millenials in 2018”. I didn’t choose them because of anything like that. I picked them because they speak to my heart.

1. Quebec City, Canada

When I was nine years old I went on a road trip with my family that lasted about a month. During the road trip I had my ninth birthday and we crossed over into Quebec, Canada. For those of you who don’t know, Quebec is the French speaking portion of Canada and from the moment I heard people speaking I was in love. Obviously now I know that French-Canadian and French are very different, but as a kid I had no idea. The minute I got back to Seattle I asked my mom to enroll me in French lessons, and I’ve been studying the language ever since. I absolutely adore it. Rather than Montreal, where I went last time, I’ve decided to stay in Quebec City. I’m super excited for this adventure, and for being able to see the Chatêau Frontenac! Cities with castles are just better.

2. London, England/Paris, France

For my birthday this year I’m planning on returning to the UK. The focus of this trip will probably be literary, since I’ve seen a lot of the main attractions. I may also try to stay in a beautiful spot by the water for my birthday. This trip will likely extend to Paris, as well, since I’ve always wanted to take the train across the channel and it’s been on my bucket list.

I think one of my favorite things about revisiting spots is that you get familiar with the cities and therefore you’re willing to take more risks. You feel comfortable enough to go into random pubs on the street, or to wander off the map a little. Funny enough, I really didn’t like London the first time I went…or really even the second time. But now that I’ve been there a few times it’s starting to grow on me.

3. Arcata, California

This is my least planned out trip because it will probably fall late in the year, but I’m planning on visiting some family in northern California, and exploring the Redwood Forest! I’ve wanted to head down there for a while, but I just haven’t been able to make it for various reasons. I’m super excited to go spend some time enjoying nature and seeing one of the natural wonders of the world.

BONUS: I’m also probably going to be taking a weekend trip to Vancouver, BC but stay tuned for more details!