February Goals: Spend Less, Live More

I wouldn’t consider myself a heavy spender. That being said, the last couple of months were way more expensive than my usual crazy, so I decided to take February to reevaluate my spending. This also came in the wake of 101 medical bills from October when pneumonia tried to kill me. Healthcare in America:

When I first got the idea to take a month off from unnecessary spending I wasn’t really sure what the outcome would be. I had to stay away from thrift stores because let’s be honest: #addicted, and I had to start making some changes to my routine. Here’s how this ish went down:

Think About Routine The Night Before

The LAST thing most people want to think about at night is the fact that they’re going back to work the next day. That being said, this actually can save quite a big of cash. Since I work in the middle of downtown Seattle there are a lot of temptations for food places that eat up your paycheck before it ever hits your back account. So, every night, while I’m cooking dinner (this has also helped to inspire my cooking haha) I pack a lunch. Just like good ‘ole K-12. It might seem childish, but it’s saving my adult monies so I can use them for adult things…like comicon tickets. Duh.

Start Caring About Other People More

One of the things I wanted to focus more on during this month was to start putting money toward other people. But I wanted this to be very intentional and targeted, not just passing out money on the street (although there is a time and place for that). For the past couple of years I’ve been following my friend Stella’s journey as she’s continued building her non-profit 22Stars. What they do in Uganda is absolutely incredible, and I’ve wanted to support them for so long…but I’ve never had finances to back that up. Well. I finally did it. I’m SO excited to now be a long-term education sponsor for a little Ugandan girl. I would HIGHLY suggest looking at the profiles of other children who still need sponsors. The fact that $20/month sends a child to school is just crazy.

Stop Going To Thrift Stores

Okay, so obviously I love thrifting and there’s no way that I’ll stop entirely going to thrift stores. But for the month of February I decided to be more intentional about going, and so far I haven’t gone at all. There’s a simple reason for this fact: I don’t need anything. And while it’s more of a hobby than anything else for me, I always want to be really concious about managing my habit so it doesn’t go down the road to crazy. I’m not trying to star in Hoarders.

Reminders Of What ACTUALLY Makes Me Happy

While spending money is sometimes necessary for making some magic happen, a lot of the most beautiful things in life are free…or, at least, I already have what I need to make them happen. For example:

  • Hot cups of tea
  • Knitting
  • Cuddling up under blankets
  • Painting
  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • Writing
  • Reading

All of these things make me super happy, but don’t actually cost me a whole lot of money (if any). When I’m stressed, bored, or just looking for something to do out I’ve turned to doing one of these things, rather than surfing Amazon for useless Pusheen stuffies that I just don’t need…or do I?

Spend More Time With People

People. Gross. Yeah, so I’m a pretty hardcore introvert, so there are like seven people I like in the whole world. But, you know what? I’m still human…which means that interacting with people is a necessary part of my existence. What have I done to remedy this? Well, first off I’m trying to be more intentional about spending time with people I really enjoy, and I’ve also been spending time interacting with my lovely followers in the Twitter-verse and through various online groups I’m part of. I also got a new pen-pal which is awesome x 1000. What have I learned from this? Spending time with people who make you happy makes spending money a whole lot less of a priority. Because people are awesome! In small and manageable doses.

Now, February is only half-way done so I’m hoping and praying that I’m actually able to stick to this scheme, but we’ll see. I have fallen off the “eating out” bandwagon once already, but generally it’s going super well and I feel better balanced. Have any of you ever done a spending freeze? Let me know how it went in the comments!

Unicorn Horns and Dinosaur Tales: Adventures in Edinburgh, Scotland

In the land of unicorns, I needed a miracle. Two days ago I flew into Scotland and it has been such a relaxing and rejeuvenating time here. The first time I came to Edinburgh everything was kind of a whirlwind, so this time I switched things up to give it one more chance; different travel situation, different hostel, different part of town. I’m so glad I did because everything has been amazing.
To start things off, my hostel literally looks like I’m staying in 221B Baker Street, which of course makes me very happy. The carpet is gloriously red pepper red with beautifullly intricate floral wallpaper and red velvet curtains to the sides of each room’s windows. Every time I go up or down stairs there’s just a sort of magic that happens as I walk up the original (stunningly beautiful) spiral staircases. This hostel was advertised as “not a party hostel”and I’m so happy I jumped on that boat asap. The reception closes at 10pm. The common room closes at 10pm. And pretty much all of the lights on our residental street are out by 10pm.

This means that getting a goodnight’s rest is a lot easier. Although I’ve been fighting jet-lag more this trip than I usually do. This morning was the first “normal night of sleep.” And that means I went to bed at  9pm and woke up at 3:30am. Solid.

But I do feel much better, today. When I first flew into Edinburgh I checked into my hostel and then pretty much immediately went to  bed for 10 hours. It was a riveting day. By the time I woke up, it was 10pm and the entire world had shut down, so I spent some time online, then went back to sleep.

Yesterday was much more eventful, and brings me back to my need for a miracle.

The morning that I left Dublin I found out that my phone had stopped charging, but after trying a different cord it finally started. Which left me with a problem. How was I supposed to charge my phone? The obvious answer was that I wasn’t going to be able to, since I couldn’t take the working cord with me. So when I got to Edinburgh I bought a new one, thinking my problems were solved. Why are problems never easily solved, while traveling?

The cord didn’t work.

And since my phone is not only a communicative device, but something I use for music and photos while traveling, I was pretty upset. So I just left it plugged in the wall while I pouted, praying for a miracle (aka PLEASE CHARGE!). After a couple of minutes I saw that the battery had raised 4%. But there wasn’t a charging symbol on the phone. Weird. I checked back a while later and it had gone up a couple more – cool! Relief washed over me, but when I checked back an hour later it had only gone up 1%. Yeah, 1.

The moral of this story is be more specific in what you wish for. I got my miracle, my phone is charging, but at  rate of 1- 5% per hour. Yep. This is real life. In context, my phone is almost 4 years old and so it was time for a new one, but I was hoping to make it through this trip before shelling out for one. The phone had other plans.

Other than the phone crisis of 2017, yesterday was a lovely day. Scotland has been completely sunny (if windy) since I’ve been here and it has been glorious. Snow is on the forecast, but I’m hoping it won’t be enough to delay my flight out to Copenhagen tomorrow.

Yesterday I continued a project I started in Dublin, where I meet someone for coffee/tea in every city I go to. This has proven (already!) to make this trip amazingly more enjoyable and I definitely plan on writing up a blog post on the amazing women I’ve met. I already feel so inspired by them and I know you will, too!

Pre my tea session I got terrifically lost trying to find a rather obvious statue of Sherlock Holmes. I’m not going to play coy here, I literally walked right past it. And while I can probably partially blame that on the jet-lag I think it’s also safe to say that I “saw but did not observe” my surroundings.

I did finally find the statue, after stopping in for a cup of tea at a literal hole in the wall coffee shop, and it was such a great feeling of accomplishment. If I had had mortime I would have loved to stop in at the Conan Doyle pub across the street, as well. I would also like to note how much I love that I can just order “a cup of tea” and everyone knows what I want, here. No fusions, no ice. Just a cup of tea (meaning black tea for those of you who are wondering what on earth I’m spouting on about).

Post my meeting with a lovely fellow traveller I stopped in at the National Museum of Scotland, which is just as impressive as it sounds. Good grief. I only had an hour and a half to go through, but I have a feeling I could have easily spent days in there and still have not fully seen the whole thing. My favorite parts that I did see, however, were the exhibits on the history of Scotland (which was basically just me fangirling over historical events that happen in Outlaner), the fashion exhibits (because I love clothes and I love stitchwork more than anything) and the natural history part of the museum, which was filled with animals that were stuffed and a t-rex skeleton that reminded me of Night at the Museum. Also it was absolutely free to visit, which is a trend that makes me extremely in love with Europe and extremely dissatified with American museums. I just don’t think people should have to pay an arm and a leg to learn about the history of their country, or art. End of rant.

I’m really lucky, this trip, because I’m staying on the other side of what’s called “The Meadows” (#creative) which is exactly what it sounds like, but is also the most serene thing ever. I love seeing miles of green every time I walk back to my hostel, and I love that there are acres of green between me and the tourist bustle of where I was staying last time. All in all I’ve very happy to be staying where I am.
Today I’m taking an adventure up to The Highlands of Scotland, which is probably going to melt my heart, I’ll be so in love with everything. They’re not for everyone, but I absolutely love bus tours around countries. With a good book and an insatiable curiousity for history, they’re one of my favorite things to do.

Have YOU been to Edinburgh (or Scotland)? I’d love to hear any fun stories or things you saw that made you love (or hate) the place. Comment below and share your story! (Like really, I wanna hear all about it.)

Tea Talk: Coming February 1st, 2017

tea-talk-2When I first started backpacking I noticed something: all the people I knew who solo backpacked, were men. I knew girls who had studied abroad, or visited friends and family internationally…but I didn’t know any women who had solo backpacked. Why?

Once I bought my plane ticket I started to get a better idea.

There was, and is, quite a double standard when it comes to men and women traveling. The world is filled with endless possibilities for men, but for women? It’s a place filled with unimaginable terrors.

Three years ago I decided to stop listening to doubters, and followed the almost unbearable tugging of my heart. I bought a plane ticket on my birthday and explored England, Ireland and Scotland. It was the trip of a lifetime.

I didn’t know it then, but there are others like me. Women who throw their belongings in a backpack and buy a plane ticket to anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes we feel hidden. Sometimes we feel invisible.

We are a community of travelers living, learning, loving around the world. We are breaking down stereotypes and perceptions, and building foundations for a better world.

Join me, starting this February, as I uncover the mystery that is the female solo backpacker. This should be good…

Coming February 1st, 2017.

(Pst! This post isn’t over, yet! If you have someone you think should be interviewed, or you’re a travel girl who would like to be considered, shoot me a message at morehouseemilee@gmail.com or comment in the section, below!.)

Why Tina Fey is Wrong – You Shouldn’t Have It All


The other day I was clothes shopping and spent close to a millennia in the store…but only 3 things. SHOCK. Despite what my American upbringing echoed in the back of my mind:

“You should have bought it all!”
“You’ll look better walking out with overflowing bags on your arms.”
“How do you call yourself an adult without being able to splurge on payday?”

I wasn’t “sad” that I had “only” found a few things – I was elated. Why? Because what I bought was what I really really wanted. It wasn’t because I was broke, it wasn’t because nothing else worked, it was because I only bought what I was really passionate about.

I know, crazy.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store. And while I was there I had to wonder: Why are American grocery stores the size of small villages? Have you ever been in a European grocery store? There’s like 8 aisles and one option of each thing (Yes, even in Paris). Why? Well for one thing, it’s because they don’t have to worry about organic – it’s all organic. The other is because life in general is more straight forward. You get what you need and then you move on with life.

And while we’re on the topic, have you guys seen that “Impulse Buy” Tina Fey commercial, if not watch it, below.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a BIG Tina Fey fan, but every time I see this commercial I think about how intense the culture of, “I can, therefore I will,” is in the U.S. Not saying it’s always a bad thing, just that it’s problematic, in that it creates this idea that all that is going to make you happy.

Clarification: I am no proponent of the kind of minimalism that Scandinavian countries advocate for. I know that works for some, and high-five to them, but that is NOT my aesthetic. I love having tons of art supplies, and bookcases overflowing with vintage/sketch books. But, something that I think has really stuck with me, from living in France, is that you don’t NEED to have every version and every color and every brand of something, in order to be happy. I mean, I basically lived out of two suitcases for A YEAR (and one of those suitcases was just art supplies) and I was perfectly functional.

During that year I had a lot (probably too much time) to think, and I was able to really analyze what was and wasn’t important/necessary in my life. Essentially, I learned what makes me happy. And, the emphasis here is what makes me happy (this is not a guide to making the world happy, again).

So, here’s what I learned and continue to implement in my day to day:

Languages are my passion:
I’ve always loved learning other languages (except Spanish, which for some reason I CANNOT pick up) and I love exploring the cultures that come with them. Studies show that learning/speaking other languages can actually make you happier for a multitude of reasons, including reducing stress, helping you feel more connected to other people and of course there’s the “chocolate cake high” that comes with learning new words. Regardless of what the motivation is, I love the idea that we can add so much value to our lives for (especially with online resources like Duolingo etc) little or no money.

“If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world.” –

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Art makes me whole:
While I was in France the two things I chose to spend my pitiful allowance on was postcards (another passion of mine!) and art supplies. Why? Because I literally start losing my mind if I can’t create art. Whether it’s painting or drawing (I learned in France, I actually can draw) I love having art as a meditative part of my life. Hop over to my Facebook page if you’d like to see what I’m currently up to, or you can check out my Pintrest board to see some of my drawing projects from France.

Learning new things enriches me:
Three words: Khan. Coursera. Skillshare. These are the trifecta of my learning (with perhaps some PBS worked in there) and I love taking classes, picking up new skills and learning about the world around me.

Khan Academy
was one of my favorite resources when I was in France, because it’s totally free and you can take classes on a million different subjects, including Pixar animation (also, because I’m a Trekkie – ha). I’ve taken ALL the history classes, and I regret none of the time spent. They also have science, art, coding, and math (gross – but if you’re into that kind of thing).

I also love Coursera, although now they’re starting to charge (but you can find hacks by Googling how to get the classes free). Coursera allows you to take academic classes from universities and professors all over the world, which I also think is amazing.

And lastly Skillshare is amazing for learning new creative things like drawing, photography and even cooking! I’ve learned so much from this resource, and the monthly subscription rate is about the same as Netflix/Hulu (but way more valuable, in my opinion).

Books are beautiful:
The Christmas before last I spent my day wandering Paris, and buying a bunch of classic literature. Why? Because for some reason, in Paris, the cheapest books to buy (we’re talking like 1 euro) are the classics in English. Needless to say, I’ve now read pretty much all of Jules Verne and Jane Austen. Books don’t have to be super expensive (especially if you’re finding them used) and yet they have the amazing ability to transport you all over the world and on a million different adventures. I’ve always been such a bookworm, but I think there was definitely a post college (or even during college) period of time when I forgot how much I loved them. I don’t have as much time now, because obviously I’m not a kid running free, but I do try to make sure to carve out 30min-1hour of reading time, each day. What am I reading right now? The Outlander series, and it’s making me want to go back to Scotland real bad.
WARNING: These books are mammoth.

I don’t need a million friends:
Okay, so let’s talk popularity contest. Why, oh why, do we have to feel like we need a million people who you’re “best friends” with? Unknown. But it’s a thing. And, as a proud introvert, it’s a lie I’m not buying into, anymore. I love me time, and I love alone time. It’s when my brain is settled and happy and free and I come up with my best ideas and creations. I do love the friends that I have, and I do love meeting new people, but not under the pretense that if I don’t have 12 friends I’m Snapchatting every night I’ll shrivel up and die like a raisin. Nope. I’ve had to fight hard for it, but creating that space, and bringing in only people in who understand that I need alone time has made me much happier than a thousand friends ever could.

My faith is really important to me:
My faith, like meditation or exercise, is something that keeps me whole. While I’m not sure that I would describe myself as specifically one denomination, Christianity is a really important part of my life, and one that inspires and strengthens me, daily. It’s not perfect, and neither am I, but it’s something that no one can buy, trade or take away and that makes it an invaluable treasure in my life.

What about you guys? Yeah, shoes are awesome, but what else makes you really glow with happiness? Comment below!

Meeting Mr. Holmes

San Fran Sherlock 2016 - 2

My San Francisco adventures with Sherlock Holmes started when I stumbled across a mysterious invitation. That’s not a line – it really happened. I was searching for geeky things to do in San Francisco, and link after link after link eventually landed me on a PDF (with no website attachment) that was an invitation for January 10th, 2016 – a luncheon to celebrate the birthday of one, Sherlock Holmes.

I, being the naturally curious person that I am, looked into the matter. And after searching around (or should I say, sniffing, since my favorite book IS The Hound Of The Baskervilles – *gafaw*) I found an email address for the organizer of the event. I didn’t think I should send any correspondence, but then I realized it was such a once in a lifetime opportunity, that I had to. So I did, and as I waited for a reply, I looked up other Sherlock Holmes related things to do in the city.

It turns out that San Francisco has quite an obsession with Sherlock. Perhaps it’s because Arthur Conan Doyle once visited the city, or perhaps it’s because the city has hosted so many events such as the premier of the Ian McKellen film, Mr. Holmes and the restored 1916 masterpiece, staring the iconic William Gillette (who, by the way, is responsible for most of the iconic Sherlock Holmes imagery we associate with him, to this day). Whatever the reason, the obsession is there.

The way I discovered this obsession wasn’t so difficult.

Right about the time that I walked into the San Francisco Public Library and was faced with an entire wall of 1st editions, manuscripts and other collectables by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I had an inkling. Another guess came when I was walking down the street and happened to walk by a bakery named, “Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.” I figured it must be good, since the line was stretching down the street. And as if fate needed to prove the point, when I walked back up the street I was met with a “SOLD OUT” sign. (Never worry, I woke up first thing the next morning and received a completely mouthwatering apple danish that was well worth the 20 minute wait to get.)

But back to the invitation!Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 11.38.36 AM

The invitation was from a Sherlock Holmes society chapter called The Scowrers and Molly Maguires of San Francisco and looked all the right types of mysterious and intriguing. Finally I got an email back that the woman in charge had asked that I could join the otherwise closed event (only 25 people were allowed in attendance and the RSVP cutoff date had been a week before I had emailed her). I waited for an update, and several hours after the first reply I got another one saying that someone had cancelled, and I would be welcome at the birthday celebration of Sherlock Holmes (who, in fact, turned 162 years old on January 6th – huzzah!).

I made my way to the event the next day and was welcomed by a room full of smiling elderly faces – I knew I had hit the jackpot. Why? Because, let’s be honest. The only people who wouldn’t be getting together to talk strictly about how hot Benedict Cumberbatch is, at a Sherlock Holmes meeting, would be the elderly. It was time for some real, down and geeky conversations. And I couldn’t wait.

Despite the fact that the next youngest person was twice my age, and the average of the room was three times, I found myself situated next to a man in green tweed pants who whispered to me, “Don’t be afraid to leave whenever you want. These old people talk for ages.” I appreciated that he excluded himself from said “old people.” I jumped right into conversations with those around me, and soon realized that the combined knowledge was astounding! My main conversationalist was a film professor at Berkley, and others sitting around me had been part of this society for 30+ years (it was originally founded in 1944, but none of the founders are still living, to my understanding).

One of my favorite parts, though, was when I was met by the woman who I had initially emailed. She was quick and fox like in her movements. You could tell that she was a woman in charge, and she knew it. Her glasses were perched perfectly on her nose, and her sweater draped just-so. The moment she saw me she said, “Oh! It’s so good to have a young person at one of these, again! Everybody keeps moving away and dying.” I appreciated the honestly, and tried not to burst out laughing.

After dinner, a series of canonical toasts, a lecture on the different cinematic versions of The Hounds Of The Baskervilles and a 30+ question quiz about the book, a ‘Happy Birthday, Sherlock’ cake (as well as a special presentation about all of the best of 2015 Sherlock Holmes related materials), I felt very validated in my decision to crash the party. I also learned that I have a lot in common with 70 year olds – such as a love for Dick Tracy and Abbott and Costello. I’m sure they all had some questions for how a 25 year old knew so much about entertainment two generations ahead of her (#homeschooled), but we had some great conversations, nonetheless.

Overall the weekend was lovely, and having spent an hour previous to the party, pouring over the library’s collection, I felt like I had truly experienced Sherlock Holmes on a whole new level. Naturally, I finished out the night by watching The Abominable Bride.

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P.s. Here’s a video about the restoration project that I think is awesome!

San Francisco: Fourth Time And Still Charming


I have been absolutely terrible about keeping up with blog posts since I’ve been traveling the past few weeks, but since writing is something that I do while I have alone time, and down time, it was harder to do while traveling with a couple of friends around the UK/Ireland.

Fast forward, though, and I’m not sitting in the cutest apartment EVER in San Francisco, CA.

I am absolutely in love with San Francisco. I love the city, I love the vibe, and I love all the crazy that makes it what it is. This is my fourth time here, and I’ve loved every time, for a lot of the reasons I love other cities around the world – each time I come here I have SUCH A GOOD TIME. And it’s always for completely different reasons.

This time I’m here for work, but since I have an extremely rewarding workplace, it doesn’t feel that way at all. Yes, we’ve been working hard, but I feel like I’m on vacation more because I’m not sitting around lazy (which is my least favorite kind of “enjoyment” ever).

I’m reading this book right now called, “Reality is broken” and it talks about how humans aren’t wired for “fun” in the way that we often think about it: ie. binge watching TV. What actually motivates us to be happy with out days/lives is “hard fun” or things we have to work at. That’s how I feel about my time in San Francisco. I love being able to work hard, love where I am and have a little apartment dedicated to my own time of reading, writing and sleeping off jet-lag (real talk).

This weekend I’ll have a little bit more free time, as well. I’m trying to come up with some great stops to visit (specifically geek oriented) but I’m really just grasping at the dark, since I have no idea. Here’s my list so far:

San Francisco Public Library: “First editions, foreign translations, criticism, periodical and biographical material relating to Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes are included among these 250 volumes.”

Artist in Residence, Rachel Dukes, hosted by the Cartoon Art Museum

Mr Holmes Bakehouse: French Bakery with an awesome name

Cable Car Museum

Lovejoy’s Tea Room: British tea done right

Haas-Lilienthal House museum tour

Borderland Books – Geek books and comics

Pacific Heights walking tour 

Great Fire/San Francisco fire tour

Big Bus Tour

Wells Fargo Museum 

What am I missing out on San Franciscans!? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

Also: Here are some of my favorite pics so far:

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Broken Hearts And New Beginnings


When I was a kid I had this idea for my life. I thought I would grow up, go to college, graduate, meet this perfect person who would change my life, fall in love and check that off my list of successes – next step, world domination. Needless to say, life didn’t happen that way.

It got messy. Relationships got messy. And I got my heart broken.

I remember sitting in my room and wondering what I had done to have brought this upon myself!? I felt tainted. I felt like I should never be accepted or loved again. I remember my heart feeling like it had been put through a shredder. I remember feeling so much shame and so much despair.

But I shouldn’t have.

Because human heartbreak is something we all experience. Whether it’s from people, circumstances or the realization that dreams we once had aren’t turning out the way we had hoped. It’s a fact of life – and it’s one that I don’t think is talked about, enough.

Heartbreak is something you can write books about, warn people about, lecture about and it will still happen. And it will still hurt just as much.

But the story doesn’t have to stop there.

Heartbreak isn’t the end. It’s merely an evolution and transformation of who we are, to who we will are meant to become.

When I went through my first particularly bad break-up I remember calling my mom, snot-nosed and weeping, and her saying, “Emilee. This does not define you.”

I’m pretty sure those were the best words she could have said. In all of her Scandinavian directness (*cue Elsa singing “Conceal, don’t feel.”*) she hit on a valid, logical and very poignant point.

At the moment I wanted her to weep with me. I wanted her to pity me. But now I realize the wisdom of those words. My current situation didn’t define me. What did, was what I did with it. And THAT is what the conversations about heartbreak should be about.

Fast forward two years. Life is a lot better.

I took my heartache and I bought a plane ticket. I wrote about the journey. I found a community and met people who changed my perspective on life. I got some tattoos. I lived in a different country. I joined Twitter. I wrote about my travels. I rediscovered my love for writing and story telling – and you know what?

I did meet a “perfect” person who changed my life. And I did learn, slowly but surely, how to fall in love with them – the only thing was, the person I learned to love was me.

It might sound like the corny line at the end of a Disney Channel original movie, but when I look back, I’m not sure that I would have changed the way things happened (except I might not have stopped myself from slashing the tires of my ex). Life had a way of pushing me in the right direction, and I’m happier on this path than I ever was before.

Heartbreak taught me to love myself. It taught me to push forward even when I felt like I was being sucked backward into a vortex of despair. I didn’t know it at the time, but those experiences were paving a way for me to find my own purpose and meaning.

It’s been a while since I took that first backpacking trip. I had no idea what I was doing as I stepped on an airplane, headed to the UK. All I knew was that I was worn out emotionally, and I needed to get away. And now, just a month after my two-year anniversary of that trip, I’m headed back in the same direction.

It’s amazing how much can change in such a short period of time. This time the plane ticket wasn’t bought because of heartache; it was bought out of love. I’m not traveling alone I’m traveling with two of my closest friends, and I know quite a bit more about what the travel experience will be like, having now lived in, and travelled frequently around Europe.

Life has changed. It has kept moving forward. And the dreams that I have now are so much bigger and deeper and so much stronger than they ever were before. Heartbreak is not tarnish; it’s a badge of honor. It means you risked. You dared to love, dared to dream and dared to ask life for more.

So risk. Risk your heart, risk your dreams, risk your expectations and then rise. Regardless of the outcome of your daring ventures, make the outcome excel you to new heights. Because heartbreak is merely a transformation. And, like a phoenix, your circumstances only prove that you now have the opportunity to soar.

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7 Days And Counting: UK/Ireland Backpacking Trip 2015


Quick updates seem to be the theme of my life, right now, but I want to catch all of you lovely people up with the chaotic beauty that my life is right now!

I absolutely CANNOT believe that it’s Christmas next week! When did that happen!?

Another thing that I can’t believe is that I’m going to be flying out to Europe next week. It’s absolute madness. With all of the chaos of changing jobs and holiday busy, I’ve basically just felt like this trip is an oncoming train that I’m about the get hit with. But that’s okay, I like the excitement.

Okay, so I haven’t really told you all very much about this trip (mainly because I haven’t really prepared AT ALL for the trip itself). I’ve been trying to book places to stay in my spare time, bugging friends in the UK/Ireland to help me book places and generally trying to piece together as many things as possible, in the meantime.

One of the best things I can think of, though, is going to be all of the spare time I’ll have for reading. It’s going to be insane. I have an 8 hour layover in Washington DC on my way to London, and then I get to spend Christmas night in Heathrow airport, waiting for my 6am bus because drumroll the ENTIRE city of London shuts down for Christmas and boxing day.

Honestly, there are a lot of things I love about Europe, but the country/city closures are not one of them. I love being able to go to the grocery store on Sundays, in Seattle. In fact, I think I purposely go shopping on Sundays, now, as some sort of completely ineffective way to rebel against “the man.”

I am really looking forward to the holiday, though. I can’t even believe that it’s coming up so quick! Here’s what our itinerary looks like, for now:

12/25-12/26: London

12/26-12/27: Edinburgh, Scotland (Be still my heart.)

12/27-1/1: Dublin, Ireland (I can’t even. I’m SO EXCITED!)

1/1-1/2: Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare!)

1/2 – 1/3: London

Overall, you can see where the majority of my heart/time will be (#IRISHTILIDIE), but I’m so excited to get to see some awesome new places along the way, as well!

Here are some of the suggestions we’ve had for our time in Edinburgh (feel free to add suggestions in the comments section, below!):

  • Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile
  • Holyrood Palace and Abbey, Royal Mile (with a walk up to the top of Arthur’s Seat for a great view)
  • The Grassmarket for food
  • The National Gallery
  • The National Portrait Gallery
  • Cramond Island (get the 41 bus from Prince’s St and ask the driver to let you know when to get off for Cramond Village. Make sure you check the tide times so that when the tide is out you can walk across the causeway to the island in the middle of the estuary. It’s amazing! Suggested lunch in the cafe in the harbour for Cullen Skink (fish broth) and homemade bread, Scottish food).

I did want to throw out an inquiry to the world of travel, though. I’m going to be in Dublin for quite some time and I’ve done most of the “tourist” things to do, so what are your suggestions!? What have I missed? Literary stops? Old libraries/bookshops? Geekery? Art? Let me know in the comments section, below!

Having this trip to look forward to has really helped me along with the transition of moving jobs and with getting settled in Seattle, in general. There’s something that really settles my mind about knowing that I have a plane ticket to the UK/Ireland. It hasn’t mattered, over the past months that I wasn’t going to be going back for months. What mattered was that I was going to be going back! And I couldn’t be more excited as I set off with two of my closest friends.


5 Ways Paris Changed How I American

It’s not grammatically correct – I know. Get over it.

Visiting any place will change the way you interact with the world, but living in a place changes you right down to the core. There are so many little differences I’ve noticed since I’ve been back from France – it’s crazy to think that it has already been more than four months since I’ve been back! What a crazy thought.

But, France is still with me in so many ways. No, I don’t have French speakers surrounding me, anymore, but I do have a lot of things that I’ve changed in my own day to day life, that weren’t even noticeable while I was living in France. Today I realized just how much my American has become French. It’s okay, though. I think these changes (for the most part) are making me a healthier happier person!
Here are a few examples:

  1. I eat dinner for lunch: If there’s one thing that the French are known for, it would be their food. Beyond this, I would say they’re known for their love of food. It’s not uncommon for Parisian businesses to be closed down for multiple hours, as workers wine and dine their lunch breaks away. As a young professional navigating the professional (very American) world, I wouldn’t say I’m quite to this point, but I definitely do pack lunches differently. When I was in France it was the first time that I had ever eaten anything more substantial than a sandwich for lunch. But lunch in France? It was a huge, gourmet (and quickly became favorite) meal of mine. And I’ve noticed the remnants of this practice in my day to day life even now. I pack meals, not yogurt and burritos, for lunch – and I’m starting to realize how much more satisfying my day is after having a substantial meal to look forward to, and to enjoy the energy from.
  2. I cross the street whenever I damn well please: Okay so this one I actually have to rework in my head every day, because I now live in a city where the police DO care if you jaywalk. In Paris I got so used to just walking across the street whenever I felt like it (as long as there wasn’t oncoming traffic, duh.) that I’m still trying to retrain myself to stick to the crosswalks and wait for lights to change. It isn’t easy.
  3. I CANNOT enjoy regular bread: It’s actually really sad to me that I can no longer enjoy non artisan bread. But I just can’t. Unfortunately, the U.S. doesn’t exactly accommodate my French taste buds with the penny prices that you can get bread for in France. Here in the U.S. they’re more than happy to charge you your first born child in order for you to enjoy the light fluffy goodness that bread should be. And now I’m sad to say (sorry to my budget), I don’t have any intention of ever going back.
  4. I can’t enjoy sweets/soda: WHY IS EVERYTHING SO SWEET IN THIS COUNTRY!? My salt levels were pretty off when I first got back, as well – but I definitely got over that one. Mmmmm salt. Sugar – not so much, I can barely sip off of a soda, it’s so high in sugar. Everything, in fact, seems to be dumped with piles and mounds of sugar and sweeteners. It’s a little more than I can take – but this is a pretty easy something to fix since I love fruit and vegetables more now, anyway.
  5. Old isn’t old, anymore: Last weekend I was driving past a field when I saw an old barn. It brought up a really interesting conversation/thought process when I called it ‘old’, though, because I realized that it was probably built within the last hundred years. In comparison to the thousand (and older!) year old structures I was used to seeing in Europe, it’s interesting how my thought process has changed as far as measuring the age of things around me. The U.S. is such a baby nation!What about you all!? Have you ever lived/travelled somewhere that changed your perspective on how you live your own day to day life? Comment below!Blog Signature

12 Signs You Were Definitely Homeschooled – Written By An Actual Homeschooler

12 Signs You Were Definitely Homeschooled
Photo credit: Emma Morem Photography

In light of the recent Relevant Magazine online article “12 Signs You Were Definitely Homeschooled,” which did nothing to relay what it’s like (AT ALL) to be actually homeschooled (seriously, guys – did a homeschooler even write that!?), I decided to write a list about ways to actually tell that someone was homeschooled (since, apparently it’s important). Oh, and this one (RELEVANT) is written BY someone who was actually homeschooled. So here they are, 12 REAL signs that you were homeschooled.

  1. You have some really crazy stories to tell: You had more experiences in your short little elementary life than a lot of people can say for their whole existence. Roadtrips, museums, concerts you name it – you’ve done it. You can connect with people from all kinds of walks of life because your experiences aren’t limited to the cookie cutter lifestyle the rest of the world was experiencing.
  1. You’re really gifted: Maybe you’re really smart, maybe you’re really artistic, maybe you’re really good at science or math or a musical instrument – whatever it is, you’re GOOD at it. You know why? Because you were allowed time to hone your skills and invest in becoming your best.
  1. You research a lot: Whether it’s reading up on things, experimenting with things or pushing life to the limit, you’ve really upped the notch when it comes to the way you view the world. You ask questions, you find answers – basically you’re your own Mythbusters show.
  1. You take more risks and chances: You naturally think outside the box. In fact, what even IS the box? You don’t know – you never learned that in school. Whether it’s traveling more, starting adult clubs and groups, starting your own business or writing and publishing a book – you know how to risk big and get things done.
  2.  You are more tolerant of people: You learned to be friends with people because they were human beings, not because they fit into a certain socioeconomic, racial or religious clique groups. Homeschooling was kinda lonely sometimes, and you learned to adapt by becoming friends with anyone who looked like they might be cool. Because let’s be real, if someone shared your interest, they were your new best friend. Done.
  1. You ask questions: There were no sniveling idiots to pound your questions into the ground growing up, and you’re not afraid to question why things are the way they are, now. Maybe they aren’t questions you scream from the mountaintops (although, maybe you do!) maybe they’re just questions that allow you to move push past what’s expected of you and ask one of the most powerful questions in the world: Why?
  1. You’re super tech savvy: And let’s be real, your friends know it. You’re the one who people call on the phone when they’re having computer problems and you might even have a tech related job, now. The reality of technology was a power that appeared to you a lot earlier than everyone else because technology meant bringing you closer to people and things that you were passionate about! Oh, and we’ll just keep all the hacking on the DL.
  1. You’re super close with your family: Or maybe you aren’t. Spending a lot of time with one’s family can have lasting effects on both sides of the spectrum. Maybe your family became your best friends, or maybe the exact opposite happened. Let’s face it. It’s okay (after 15 YEARS) to take some steps back and keep it casual. These people know a LOT about you, after having spent every day with you – they may just know too much.
  1. You’re self-motivated: There were no late assignments to be excused, waved or curves to be graded on. You either passed or you failed. And it really was all about YOU. You know how to make things happen, and it’s not so hard to push yourself toward goals, since you’ve been running this race, as its solo champion, for years.
  1. You crashed your friend’s proms and loved every minute: We all crashed our “normal” friends events. Whether it was prom, going to sports events or just hanging out in general. We weren’t stuck to barriers about who our dates were or who would be there. WE WERE THE PARTY. And it didn’t matter what we did – ‘cause it’s not like we were gonna ever see those people, again.
  1. Your fashion game is off the charts: Because amidst that (actually not as abundant as outsiders thought) free time, you had time to check up on what people in the fashion capitals were wearing. You were able to experiment with the latest trends from Milan and Paris, and you loved every minute. You spent hours pouring over fashion magazines, vintage movies and style blogs and you knew just how to start a trend, no matter where you were.
  1. You’re uniquely you: You are a homeschooler. That doesn’t mean you are a clone. Some of you wore denim skirts, some of you didn’t. Some of you lived at church, some of you worshiped in nature. Some of you had parents who made your clothes, others of you MADE YOUR OWN CLOTHES. You were allowed to form and become your very best self because there was no one to tell you that you couldn’t. Congratulations on being the very best version of Y-O-U. Take a bow.