Easter Basket Idea : Bugs!

I’m so excited about this post! It may leave some of you squirming in your seats, but this sort of themed gift with unexpected items makes me so happy.

If you’ve been following us for a little while, you know that the boys in my house are really into bugs (and any animal, really).  They like looking at them, holding them, talking, and reading about them. Our boys are 2 and 4, so I geared this basket theme for that age, but I do think this basket could easily be scaled up or down depending upon the books you choose.

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The basket above looks innocent enough, right? Look closer, and you’ll see the edible insects!

When I saw packs edible of insects at our local nature center, I was so excited to pick up a few boxes for the boys! And since Easter’s right around the corner, I realized that they would make perfect crazy treats for their baskets.

I love the idea of introducing them to edible insects at this age because they are adventurous eaters… they already think that they’re eating worms when they eat long pieces of pork in the fried rice from our local restaurant. (We’re either awesome or horrible parents.) Anyway, I’m hoping these edible insects will be well-received and lead to conversations about eating bugs and how people in different parts of the world eat bugs every day. And, it’ll also give me a good excuse to show them some of Sarah’s photos from the Thai markets!

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From there, I thought about ways that I could turn their baskets into a bug theme. We really like to keep our Easter baskets simple, and here’s the formula I use : a few treats, a couple of books, and one or two toys.

In our house, puppets are huge. Early on with Alex, I realized that it would be more fun to pick up and play with a stuffed puppet instead of just a stuffed animal, but with the same cuddle factor. So we have puppet animals of every sort, and our poor babysitter spends hours doing puppet shows for the boys at their request.

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Anyway, there are plenty of cute bug puppets out there. For this basket, I included a bee, a butterfly, and a praying mantis. The bee pairs perfectly with The Life and Times of the Honeybee book. And below, I put the butterfly with the Bugs Galore book.

The Bee book is full of scientific information that may go over the heads of some younger kids, but will be great as they grow. The Bugs Galore book is not scientific in any way – the illustrations aren’t representative of real bugs! But it has a nice rhyming rhythm and I like that it would get little kids excited about bugs and thinking about the variety of insects that are in the world.

The next book (When Green Becomes Tomatoes) isn’t bug-related, but I just loved it so much that I wanted to recommend it (and I can’t wait to start reading it with our guys). The book’s poems are titled by date, for example, there’s a July 10th (my birthday!) or an October 31st. There isn’t a poem for every date, just a selection of dates that takes you throughout the year from January to December. They are beautiful poems and perfect for reading to kids that will eventually be able to read them as they grow. I love reading poetry to the boys, so this is right up our alley. basket4

Now, I bet you’re wondering where you can get those edible insects…

As I said, I picked mine up locally, but I did a quick Amazon search and saw that you could get a combo pack that includes two of the boxes in my basket. I know what you’re thinking : how convenient! Yes, you’re welcome. Amazon also carries the ant and cricket pops.

And if you really want to get into the edible bug world, this website is amazing!  These pins would be a cute addition to the baskets. Chocolate covered scorpions, anyone?

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So, that’s our bug-themed basket! What do you think? Do you do themes for your baskets?

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Thailand : 30 day packing list

Happy Monday! Last night I slept in my bed for the first time since mid-January. Wow. What an amazing feeling. I love traveling, but who can beat snoozing in their own bed, hogged by their own huge dog? I didn’t think so. I wanted to republish this post today since I’ll be stuffing all this goodness into my own bag this evening. On Wednesday, I’m embarking on my first official travel guiding trip. Five first-time travelers (to Asia) will be in my hands – better wish us luck 😉

Katie here : Sarah’s in Thailand! What a lucky bum! But really, I’m so excited for her and can’t wait to hear about the adventures as she travels. During her first stint in Thailand, she kept a lengthy journal on her Tumblr account and it was amazing – all of our friends and family were anxious waiting for each new post. If you’re interested in that experience, those posts are still accessible – just scroll down to November 2011 through April 2012 in her archive. Today she’s checking in with a timely post on packing and staying calm when your luggage takes a different plane ;-). 

Once upon a time, packing was a completely daunting task. I remember I would call my friend Kandy and we would pack together, which really meant wandering around our respective rooms talking about random things and placing an item or two in a bag every twenty minutes or so. Fast forward ten years and packing is a breeze. I have an easy foolproof method that I stick to and my packing gets completed in no time. Today I wanted to share a sample packing list for spending one month in Thailand and how I go about packing in general.

When packing, I start by looking up the weather of my destination. If it’s a large country and I’ll be traveling about, its good to check multiple cities in case there are major changes in the elevation, landscape and climate. I also take note of the number of days I’ll be traveling as well as the general activities I’ll be partaking in. For instance, if I’m going to thailand for a week to visit beaches, I’ll obviously want to take beachwear and bathing suits and flipflops, but if I’m visiting to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary I’ll want to take clothes that I can easily move around in and get dirty. If I’m going to visit religious sites, I’ll be more conscious of dressing modestly. It’s also a good idea to research how the locals dress so as not to offend or disrespect anyone.


For this specific trip, I knew I would be in Thailand for a month and my main activities would be practicing yoga, relaxing on beaches, trekking in jungles and visiting the school where I used to teach English. With that in mind, I knew I would need a bunch of yoga outfits since they would instantly be drenched in sweat, a couple beachy outfits, some sturdy shoes for trekking and some modest, semi-professional clothes for my school visit. Taking climate into consideration, this time of year is the rainy season in Thailand so lightweight, quick dry clothing is essential. Also, the climate will stay in the mid-eighties to nineties in most areas, so breezy yet modest clothing is key. With all that in mind, I begin to craft a packing list, here’s what I came up with:

  • ID
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Passport
  • $$$ it is always good to take cash – USD specifically. You’ll find when you travel some that most problems can be solves with USD.
  • Business cards – you may meet new friends and you will want to give them someway to contact you eventually
  • Wallet, Purse, Tote or day backpack
  • Address and phone number of where you’ll be staying during the trip (this is important for the arrival card / arrival visa paperwork.
  • Passport photos – handy for visa on arrival (depending on your country of origin) and for obtaining any permits or special passes you may need for activities. Passport photos are also cheap and easy to obtain in most countries if you’d rather wait.
  • Headlamp + spare batteries
  • Camelbak and or drink bottle
  • Sneakers and or boots
  • Flip flops and or nice Sandals  and or Chacos
  • Towel and or sarong and or turkish towel
  • Toiletries – I brought: chapstick, hair ties, hair oil, face oil, hair brush, tweezers, nail clippers, q-tips, sunscreen, lotion, Aleve, bug spray, shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, razor
  • Jewelry – nothing flashy or expensive
  • Toasties aka fleece-lined leggings
  • Smartwool pullover
  • Scarf to cover shoulders and face
  • Sunglasses
  • Rain jacket
  • Bathing suit
  • Yoga pants
  • Elephant pants
  • Long skirt
  • Shorts
  • Undies + bras + socks
  • Tank tops
  • Loose t shirts
  • Modest dresses long + short
  • Dice for yahtzee
  • Deck of cards
  • Book / kindle
  • Thai language guide
  • Pen + notebook
  • Camera + film
  • Camera, batteries, charger, sd cards
  • Headphones
  • Phone / iPod + charger
  • Plug adapter – easily available at your destination, but it’s nice to have immediately
  • Keyboard? Ipad, laptop, etc (I often work from my iPhone with a bluetooth keyboard)
  • Sleeping sack / sleeping bag – Sleeping sacks protect you from bedbugs and I’m always cold in airports and on buses so I take a lightweight 50 degree sleeping bag with me.
  • Space blanket + matches + mini first aid – totally not necessary, I just imagine survival scenarios.
  • Snacks – nuts and or powerbars – absolutely essential and life saving.. never be hangry again!

Katie and I each wrote posts about our preferred carry-on contents. Take a look at those, but for international flights, also think about what makes you most comfortable and plan for the worst. Imagine you land in Bangkok at 1:30am only to realize your luggage didn’t make it to the final destination. Shit. Now you’re left to only what’s included in your carry-on bag for the next couple days. Did you bring an extra pair of undies? Toothbrush? A fresh outfit? This just happened to me! My bag was left in China, but luckily I kept calm (this has happened many times before) and didn’t worry about it. I had everything I needed with me and I knew my bag would eventually show up.

Always, always, pack for the first day or two of your vacation in your carryon. I learned this lesson early as my luggage was lost during my very first trip abroad. I had to spend four days in Jamaica wearing the same outfit, a white t-shirt and sweatpants capri leggings, I can picture them perfectly. I actually threw them away right when my luggage arrived, I was so sick of that outfit! Most of my trips are longer term and therefore lost luggage is really no big deal, but if you’re headed to Hawaii for a week for your honeymoon, you might be a little peeved that you didn’t get to wear the four sexy swimsuits you bought specifically for the trip so just think about the first day or two of your trip and shove those belongings into that carry on bag.

In my experience, lost luggage always resurfaces after a a day or four, but if it doesn’t and you have travelers insurance, you’ll be reimbursed for the contents of your bag and for the bag itself. I don’t do this, because I’m not the most organized person, but it’s a good idea to jot down a quick list of everything that is in your checked luggage that way you can easily put together an itemized list for your insurance company. I had to account for each item in my lost luggage at 1:30am in the baggage claim office at Bangkok. I was so tired and would have loved just pulling out a list of everything and its value. Thankfully my stuff showed up, but if it didn’t, my insurance company would have used that initial list to base their claim off of so make sure to take care when you’re filling out such paperwork.

A few tips for longer trips / backpacking adventures

  • Laundry service is cheap and convenient in most countries.
  • Take old clothes and donate them or throw them away along the way
  • Take old undies and socks and throw them out as you wear them. It’s a great way to thin out your wardrobe and you wont have to worry about laundry as much. Added bonus? Your bag will become lighter.
  • Visualize the items in your luggage that you absolutely must bring home, try to make that pile as small as possible just in case something happens – you may find amazing souvenirs to fill your bag or your ferry might be sinking and you can only float with one suitcase – kidding, but who knows?!

That’s all jet-setters! A quick and easy formula for packing your bags for that next big trip. I’ll be back in a few days with suggestions on how to adequately prepare to be immersed in a new culture, stay tuned!

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Teachable Moments : Letters

Living with kids, we’re realizing that there are teachable moments all around us! So we’re turning them into a blog series. Example number 1 : BUGS!

I guess it was about a year ago, when Alex was just turning three, that we started to pay more attention to letters. It began with singing the alphabet and spelling his name, and then we started to help him identify the letters all around him : pointing out letters that we saw on daily adventures, spelling words on packages and in store windows, and it’s snowballed from there.

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Early on, we realized that we could minimize a lot of letter confusion if we just stuck to one case, and for now our focus is on uppercase letters. They’re everywhere! 😉

And in this post I wanted to share a few of the fun ways that we’ve increased the letter play in our house.

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The Cinnamon Schoolbook Cookies from Trader Joes are awesome. They taste great, and the container contains all of the letters as well as a few numbers. I keep a container of these in the car and they become my go-to snack if we’re out longer than expected and caught with empty bellies. The main game with Alex is just passing him a few and asking him to identify the letters and numbers by name.

I was out of the letter U the day I was taking the first pic, so Luc’s name was spelled with an O with the top chomped off… and that brings me to another fun game – when we’re eating pretzels, Alex will take calculated bites to try to form letters! It’s pretty cute and pretty abstract, but I love the creativity, and I think it stems from eating letters in other foods.

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My mom found the alphabet noodles in the photo above, and she’ll send us a bag every so often (I haven’t found them in any of the stores around us in CO). Just like the cookies, they contain all of the letters and a few numbers. The kids love to eat these with just butter and salt – perfect for still being able to identify the letters when eating. And I find that when Alex has a whole bowl of these in front of him, he’s more likely to try to spell a word, which can’t happen when I’m just giving him one or two cookies at a time.

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As far as non-edible letter fun goes, we realized that the Bananagram tiles are perfect for play. They are plain and uppercase. Win win! I’m sure scrabble would work too.

And below, Alex is showing off his skills at our letterboard. We keep this hanging in the kitchen with a fun saying on it, but whenever I’m going to change the phrase, I bring it down to the counter with a pile of letters and let Alex play.

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At first he was really into matching up the same letters in a row, but then we advanced to copying basic words. I’ll write words he’s interested in on an index card, and then he’ll find the letters and spell it on the board. It’s perfect for keeping him occupied while I work on dinner!

And beyond these “tools”, we’re big fans of reading, pointing out letters in everyday life, and answer Alex’s every question about how this or that is spelled.

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My First Year With a Smart Phone

Slightly over a year ago, my best friend shoved her old iPhone into my hands and said something like, ‘It’s time! Please use this.’ And so my journey began. After a month of constantly charging the out battery and yet loving my new smarty pants life, I decided to man up, and shell out over half a grand for a new iPhone SE.
I grumbled as I walked into the Verizon store, muttered under my breath as I looked at overpriced cases and screens and felt utter remorse as I walked out poorer yet somehow more equipped. After a few purchases on Amazon to protect my pocket computer and several hours of downloading apps and playing around with all the new-to-me features, I fell in love completely. This cycle is somewhat familiar as usually I’m immediately repelled by something or someone only to fall head over heels the next week. It’s odd, yet consistent and therefore I prepared to enter the honeymoon phase.

As a way-late-to-the-game smart phone user, I wanted to share my observations and experiences of my transition. In the past, I was never a phone person. I’d lose my flip phone for days at a time or let my nephew chew on it, only to have his slobber seep in and make it disfunctional and still not really worry about it, but this is more than a phone, it’s a lifeline and its cord is now wrapped around my neck, let me explain to you just how tightly..

As a smart phone user, I fit in. I don’t receive sidelong glances or ‘OMG, you still rock a flip phone!?!’ Comments anymore. I can bring my phone out at work without feeling unprofessional and it’s no longer a topic of conversation amongst all my friends. I’m no longer Schu who has a flip phone. I’m simply Schu. 
Where do I begin? Let’s start with my number one love, my profession, photography. 

The camera is amazing. HDR capabilities and a front facing camera, holy shit, what a difference. This is both good and bad. I’ve stopped taking my DSLR everywhere, which is nice for my back and my woes about it being broken, lost or stolen, but obviously the images are not the same caliber. Even though the file sizes are quite different and the depth and detail is completely lost, smart phones take an amazing image and this fact shouldn’t be overlooked. The live view photo feature on newer iPhones is absolutely awesome. The moments before and after the shutter clicks warms my heart, make me laugh till I cry or cringe with embarrassment, all of which I’m  thankful to have on record. The best camera is the one you have with you, which makes this little camera great. 

My sense of direction has shifted. I used to know where I was at every second of the day. My sense of direction was killer since I’d have to memorize maps and directions, take a mental note of city layouts and be prepared to improvise if a road was closed or nonexistent. Most times I’m aware of my location because I’ve trained my brain to hover above the scene no matter if I’m walking, driving or riding public trans, but there are times now when I’m down right lazy about. I noticed this most recently when I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I drove a motorbike around the city for almost two weeks and yet I had to completely rely on my passenger to tell me exactly where to go. What’s even worse? The city is a perfect grid, not at all difficult to navigate and I had visited before when I was smartphone-less and got around just fine. Those two weeks presented me with the stark reality that I rely on my smartphone too much at times when I should be exercising my brain as well. 

I have a record of everything
. I take images and notes of just about everything I do, whether it’s pertaining to travel, conversations or random thoughts, it goes in my phone. I think this piggybacks off my last point, I’m relying on this phone instead of storing info in my brain – is this a good or a bad thing? 

All my media is on one device
– this efficiency is welcome. I’m no longer packing a GPS, iPod, camera, flip phone and tablet with me. I haven’t gotten lost in the past year, I’ve taken easily 10,000 images on my phone alone, I haven’t had to be tortured by the radio and I can post to Instagram any damn time of day and we all know that’s the main reason I upgraded to a smart phone. 

Group texting and airdrop save me time and help me deeper my connections.
Wow. Group texting alone is enough of a reason to have a smart phone. I used to spend so much time being absolutely frustrated trying to piece together group texts and half the time the subject matter was so unimportant (sorry boos) that it really wasn’t worth the effort. Now I create group chats and talk my friends’ ears off about nonsense without having to decode the responses. AirDrop is a luxury for a photographer, no longer am I feeling guilty about not sending that random person that picture or wasting hours (seriously) editing, organizing and emailing people candids after parties and nights out. 

There’s an app for that.
Uber, kindle, mobile banking, Etsy, WordPress, Waze, Airbnb, and the eight airline apps allow me to move through the world with ease. I haven’t been to the bank in months, I rarely have to stand in line at an airline counter for a paper boarding pass and I can blog while I fly. Sometimes I can’t fathom how I got anything done with my flip phone. 

Even though my life is markedly more efficient with a smart phone. 

I’m very self conscious whenever I’m using my phone while hanging out with family or friends.
I’m constantly apologizing and feeling quite bad about it, which I think is a symptom of using a phone without internet for nearly a decade longer than everyone else. No one else seems to notice or care when everyone is in the same room yet completely absorbed in their phone, but I sure do. I still think twice or ask permission before using it when I’m out at a restaurant or on the job, something that usually garnishes a strange look from my companions.


I forget how to deal with situations without the ease of internet,
for instance, I’m about to land in Adelaide, Australia and I had this moment of realization at the airport that I couldn’t call an Uber without data. Instead of waiting and using a taxi, I went ahead and enacted my travel plan so that I wouldn’t be without the internet.. is the convenience really worth $10 a day to me? Apparently. 
I’m constantly multitasking and checking in and connecting, for no reason. Yes, get your shit done, but at night when I should be reading or crafting or watching Netflix (which I haven’t done in MONTHS) I’m fucking around on my phone. I have no idea what I’m doing because it’s definitely nothing of substance. I’m probably flipping through my five emails and three instagrams and for what!? 

I need to put my phone physically out of reach or I pick it up.
Why? I’m not sure. It’s an awful habit and I hate myself for it. How did I become so absorbed in a screen after just one year that I managed to avoid my entire adult life? 

I was adamantly against smart phones in the past because I wanted a clear line between work and life. I wanted to have to walk into my home office and log on instead of being inundated with work nonsense at all hours, little did I know it wouldn’t be work that would disrupt and call to me, it’s social media and ‘connection’ and hours of redditing instead. Owning a smartphone is a powerful lesson in self control, which I seem to possess very little of. 
I’ve learned to set boundaries. I don’t answer work calls after hours if I know they’re not urgent. I’ve turned off all those tiny red notification bubbles so they don’t nag me and I’ve tried (and I fail every day) to open apps consciously not out of habit. 

I suppose overall, having a smartphone has made me more mindful of how mindless I have the potential to be. It takes a certain amount of strength and willpower to voluntarily disconnect. I felt superior in the past, as if I didn’t need a smart phone and I didn’t need to be connected and that was absolutely true. I got by perfectly fine, but that doesn’t change the fact that once I became connected, I jumped in headfirst and I’m still trying to come up for air. I’m completely addicted to this tiny internet machine that rewards me with comments, likes and validation even if I detest the whole notion. It’s only when I travel (without access to wifi) that I feel truly connected again. I’m forced to look around, notice, interact and trust myself instead of google. It’s magical and it’s something I’m working on every day wifi or no wifi. I’m curious to see how I’ll transition from a new addict to a seasoned user, I’ll update you in a year, but until then I urge you to become conscious of your use and how it helps or hinders your life and relationships.

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WIPS III

Happy Monday! … or should I use a question mark after that phrase? I’m never sure.

Today I wanted to summarize some of the projects that I’m working on at the moment.

It’s been about a year since I’ve done one of these posts, and looking back at that post made me realize that: 1. I would like to get better at doing these posts more regularly (I find it inspiring to see what people are working on and it’s nice to see some progress shots rather than just the polished and finished pieces), and 2. I have to get better at following-up on the projects that I share. For example, the hat from the last post turned out so good (I wear it all the time!), but the mittens are still in their unfinished state, which is sad because I know that once they’re done I’ll use them all of the time.

{Weaving}

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First up is the weaving! My dad gifted me this table/lap loom for Christmas, and I love it. I like the challenge of this art form – thinking about the “picture” I want to create, wether it’s mountains, abstract trees, or just a free-form burst of color. I’m also really happy to have a use for all of the odd bits of yarn that are left over from previous projects.

The other fun side-effect from learning this new craft is that now my eyes are open for examples of weaving everywhere! I’ve become obsessed with project updates from other weavers on Instagram. I fell in love with this huge weaving while shopping (and want to recreate something like it for one of our walls – imitation is the greatest form of flattery, right?).

And as you can see in the photo below, Amax has taken an interest in my new projects, so I’m excited to get him started with a little cardboard frame loom ASAP!

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{Knitting}

On the knitting needles, I’m working on a sweater for myself. It’s the Bohus inspired turtleneck from Vogue Knitting Winter 2015/2016. This is a top-down knit (you go back and add the turtleneck at the end). I’m really excited about it, and have been working on it so much over the past week, that I’ve made a lot of progress since the photo below was take. Now the body is nearly complete!
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Not shown in this post are the two sweaters that I’m knitting for the boys that are nearly complete, but have been completely ignored since I started my sweater. eek! I’m hoping to finish up theirs this week and then take them on our next winter camping trip for some photos – nothing like a good finished project photoshoot to inspire actually finishing the project.

{Sewing}

But don’t worry, the boys are getting plenty of DIY attention. I was also gifted a serger for Christmas, so I’ve started to experiment with sewing clothes from knitted and spandex fabrics. This was something that I was always nervous to do on my regular sewing machine, but funnily enough, I’ve since experimented and successfully sewed spandex on the regular machine! WIPS_march2017d

Above is a simple boatneck shirt that I made for Luc. This was my very first serger project, and I’m so happy with how it turned out – look at those seams!

After that project, I sewed a pair of spandex leggings for Alex. The leggings were a bit more complicated with their elastic waist and the more slippery fabric, but they’re passable!

In the process of just those two projects, I’ve learned so many new techniques, and just like the weaving, I’m now paying attention to clothes, patterns, and new-to-me sewing resources online. I have plans to sew a few simple things for myself, and (of course) I want to continue blogging about these projects, so when I do, I’ll share some of those resources, tips, and tricks in a future posts!

~

So, that’s what’s going on in this house, what about you? Do you have any fun projects going on? Any new skills that you’re learning?

And most importantly, what are you doing to calm your mind when you think the news can’t get any crazier, and then {BAM!} someone’s wires are tapped? Or crossed. Yes, the wires definitely got crossed somewhere along the way.

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Death – The Greatest Equalizer

The sun must rise and the sun must set, where there is life there must be death.

Death is our greatest teacher – the equalizer. On earth we are all the same, but we try to make ourselves feel different, death reminds us of our identical nature. It is difficult, but learning to appreciate the beauty that is brought about by the closing of a life instead of focusing on the darkness is important for healing and growth. What else can we do? When reality doesn’t align with our expectations of ‘how things should be’ is when the real work of deeper consciousness begins. When events still challenge us emotionally we know there’s much more work to be done. Because I’m feeling challenged this week, I’d like to pass on another challenge to you: how are you behaving? How are you carrying out your days? How are you fostering your relationships? Ask yourself these three questions and say the answers truthfully aloud. If you’re feeling uneasy about the answers, now is the time to alter your course, to clean up, to mend, because whether you acknowledge it or not, each sunrise brings us closer to our final sunset and while you may envision yours to be way off in the distance, someone you love may be preparing for the darkness.
Forgive me if you also follow our Instagram account @LiveSeasoned and you saw this already today. I find myself coming back to these thoughts and re-reading this paragraph each hour as a reminder so I figured I would also post it in this sphere. Go be your best self this weekend, cherish this gift of life.

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Sydney Coastal Walk


You’ve spent a few days in Sydney and you’re ready for adventure. The Coastal Walk is the best way to stay close to the city center while enjoying a bit of nature and getting some exercise in. If you go about completing the entire walk from Coogee to Bondi it’s about six km and will take you anywhere from two to three hours, but I recommend packing a little beach backpack, starting in the morning and seeing where your day takes you.  Along the way, there are plenty of opportunities for side quests. You can challenge yourself by scrambling over boulders, refresh yourself by taking a swim in various tidal pools and beaches and of course there are plenty of places to stop and eat and drink throughout your journey. 


Like most of our travel posts on Live Seasoned, we like to give you a general idea for your day or adventure, but leave the details up to you. For that reason, I’ll point out a few of my favorite places to take a dip and grab a bite to eat, but otherwise, the world is your oyster. Pack your bag, slather on some sunscreen and have one of the most beautiful walks of your life. The Coastal Walk is not to be missed. I trotted along this path five days in a row never tiring of the scenery. 



Before I ventured to the coast, I was under the impression that it would take up a full day, which it certainly can, but I didn’t realize you could hop on and off the walk, take a bus to one area and then walk or uber to another, the possibilities really are endless. On my final day in Sydney I decided to walk north from Coogee to Bondi and then turn around and walk all the way back. With ample rest and refresh time throughout it was quite an easy walk and the perfect final day on the eastern coast. This walk is suitable for young and old alike, beginners and uber fit altheletes, it’s really perfect for everyone.


What to pack:

  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottle 
  • Sunglasses
  • Sneakers (it can be done in sandals)
  • Camera
  • Turkish towel or sarong




Highlights:

Take a dip in the rock enclosed tidal pool near Coogee. After you cool off, scramble over sandstone boulders, sunbathe by the sea and brave the incoming tidal waves. 

Now it’s time to begin the walk, head north to Gordan’s Bay and enjoy the pristine views. 

Take a seat in the shade at Bundock Park for a little rest while you watch the surf lap along a collection of rocks, fondly referred to at Wedding Cake Point, way out in the ocean, don’t worry, you’ll see them. 

After a little refresh, it’s time to head further north towards Clovelly Beach. If the rough Sydney surf intimidates you, the Clovelly ocean pool is the perfect solution. Swim a few laps, drip dry on the sunbathing deck and then pop into Sea Salt cafe for a little snack. 

After a nibble, prepare yourself for Shark’s Point, a massive rock cliff that is sure to take your breath away. Sit and meditate here for a moment before walking on towards Clovelly Bowling and Recreation Club where you should certainly buy a drink to enjoy in the air conditioned event ballroom that overlooks the ocean. 

Once you’ve had a proper break and you’re all cooled down, walk through Waverly Cemetery towards Nelson’s Bay and Bronte Beach. Bronte baths is another nice seaside salt pool for swimming and lounging or you can head to Bronte Road, the street behind and parallel to the beach and park, for a lunch prepared with fresh ingredients. Over the course of the week, I ate at Jenny’s & Bronte Bela and both were yummy.

The next section of the walk, between Bronte and Tamarama is absolutely gorgeous so really take your time on the cliff and cave section and do some exploring.


 Round Mackenzies Point and  enjoy the final stretch to Bondi Beach. Bondi is a surfer’s paradise and you’ll likely see hundreds in the water at any one time. After strolling past the beautifully painted cement wall that separates the grass and sand at Bondi, stop at Lush Cafe to reward yourself with a snack and libations.

You could easily end the night here by watching a movie in the park or grabbing dinner at one of the dozens of restaurants on Campbell Parade, but if you’re up for it, you could also stroll back once you’re feeling refreshed.


If you decide to walk back, which you should because the sun hasn’t set yet, end your night at Coogee Pavilion. It’s an enormous restaurant with multiple bars and a ton of game and play areas for families downstairs and lots more ocean view seating upstairs for a calmer chill, outdoor garden type of vibe.

After dinner and drinks, you’ll probably have to crawl back to the car, but I know it was worth it.

Pack a bag, tie up those trainers and hop on the coastal walk and remember, jumping off the path occasionally makes the experience last longer and fuels you for that next flight of stairs so take my suggestions and nibble, drink, meditate, swim and play along the way. Enjoy!

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How To Make Your Hotel Room Feel Like Home


Growing up, we camped a lot. With so many tents and trailers around, it was really rare as a family of six to stay in a hotel room and even if we did, it was usually overcrowded, sterile and uncomfortable. I have a faint memory of the excitement of discovering the door inside the hotel room that could connect our family’s two rooms, but besides that I remember feeling uncomfortable in the new space, bored and quite hungry. What can I say, I’m a grazer. I like my snacks. Fast forward twenty years and I frequent hotel rooms and Airbnb’s often for work and play.
I realized that I’ve come a long way. I love exploring these new spaces and I can feel instantly at home almost anywhere I travel to. Maybe it’s because I’m lucky enough to find lovely spaces or maybe it’s a few simple necessities that transform any hostel or hotel into an instant oasis. Here’s a few of my favorite comforts that morph a hotel room into a home. You’ll notice that most have an element that elevates the vibe, atmosphere and energy of the space and after all isn’t that what makes a house a home?

  • Portable speaker – Music emphasizes whatever mood you’re trying to achieve. Want to relax? Wanna pregame or party? Want to block out your hotel neighbors who sound like they’re on their honeymoon or worse yet, like they’re preparing for a divorce? Perfect – blast those tunes. Adding tunes to the equation customizes each activity from your morning shower and bathroom routine to your midday yoga flow. Memories are also tightly tied to music therefor you truly have the power to burn your vacation into your memory by creating a special playlist for the occasion. Although I’ve used a half dozen portable speakers, I was recently gifted this beautiful bass powerhouse crafted by Bang & Olufsen and I could not recommend it enough.
  • Fuzzy throw blanket – Maybe this seems redundant to you. Obviously there are blankets in your hotel room, but there’s nothing like a cozy throw while you’re lounging on the balcony or curled up with a good book by the window. Usually hotel comforters are big, bulky, and (hopefully) full of down, which is nice for sleeping, but too much for a casual hang. Your fuzzy throw probably smells like home too, which helps if your missing your partner or kids. Bonus? When everyone is shivering under their scratchy airline blanket you’ll be snoozing away in your window seat and while you can’t hear your neighbors, they’re commenting on what a savvy traveler you are. Forget the stupid travel pillow and pack a throw instead.
  • Candles – It’s amazing how one flickering light can change the mood of a room. The soft glow and ambiance from a candle or two kicks overhead lighting’s ass any day. I always travel with a tea light if not something larger. If you have time to spare at your destination, shopping for a candle on day one makes for a fun mini mission. You’ll surely wander into a few inspiring shops and you’ll support a local maker with your candle purchase. I love, love, love this candle. It’s worth every penny and makes a beautiful gift.
  • Flowers – seems like a luxury, right? Actually, flowers are pretty inexpensive if you’re buying local blooms. It’s not like you need a dozen roses. While you’re out candle shopping, wander through a flower market or visit the farmer’s market and pick up a bouquet of in-season wild flowers. Each time you walk into your hotel room a smile is sure to spread across your face. *And while we appreciate this luxury on the road, we always make it a point of trying to buy local & seasonal flowers, or those that have the Rainforest Alliance certification.
  • Snacks – save yourself! Buy some snacks. Never be hangry again and please don’t settle for shitty vending machine chocolate. Treat yourself like the grown ass adult that you are. A simple stop at a local grocer, co-op or even a gas station is a mass improvement over the mini bar. My go to travel snacks usually include a bottle of keefir, hummus, crackers, fruit (something easy like a bunch of grapes, citrus or apples) and of course a nice chocolate bar. You really just need a few nibbles to tide you over when a snack attack comes on, it’s not like these are the groceries you’ll be living off of.
  • Tea – most hotel rooms will have an electric kettle or coffee pot in the room. Instead of drinking the plain Jane Lipton teas that are provided, pack a few of your own tea bags. I alway travel with tea and honestly it’s like a mini vacation with each cup. I’m instantly transported into a comfort zone and I can’t help but feel gratitude for taking such good care of myself. Apparently self care comes down to a cup of good tea for me. If you’re one of those people that needs coffee ASAP upon waking up, it’s not a bad idea to pack a little baggie of your own beans either. I skip this since I really enjoy trying out new coffee shops, but maybe a cup of your own Joe is what your travel mornings are missing?
  • Scents – weird one, huh? Not at all! Scents, like music, are strongly tied to memory and really we’re talking about aromatherapy here. You have the power to alter your mood and elevate your happiness with smells, so pack some! I highly recommend a paolo santo stick or incense, some invigorating eucalyptus oil for the shower, some soothing sandalwood oil for your bathrobe or pillow and even a little calming lavender satchel for your dresser drawer during the day and under your pillow at night. I know some folks who travel with essential oil diffusers and personally, I call them geniuses.


That’s that! Have I convinced you to pack a few more items in that backpack or suitcase? I mean seriously, imagine coming home after a long day of meetings or a chaotic trip through a local market and you walk through your hotel door greeted by a fresh bouquet of flowers. You immediately go about lighting a candle and burning some incense, pouring yourself a cup of tea, turning on your favorite album and curling up under your fuzzy blanket to reflect on your day. I think the only thing that could make the moment better is a piece of dark chocolate and thankfully you’ve thought of that too 🙂

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