Two Bits

We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same.  You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned.

Sarah Here :

Friyayyy! What the f*ck happened to my week?! I’ll share my Monday alone.. Sunday evening I had an awesome friend date in Philadelphia, I stayed up all night and then drove to the airport around 3:30 a.m. I boarded my flight an hour later, slightly peeved about my middle seat and life in general since it’s 5 a.m. and I haven’t slept yet. I passed out, waking up only when the woman next to me spilled her diet coke all over my leg, and then again when the plane landed. I switched my phone off airplane mode and immediately saw two dozen messages from my photography partner basically telling me *not* to fly to Houston and if I did to turn around and come home. WTF… FML… all the curses.

I got off the plane, headed down to grab my bag, called a couple of airlines and secured a flight home in a few hours. Now what? I had a few options, be grumpy as fuck or get over it. Aren’t these pretty much always the options when life doesn’t go as planned? We can get emotional and upset or we can choose to get over it. We can replay all the ways it was supposed to go or we can be at peace with what is.

I recognized how shitty my day could become if I played into the pity party that was forming at my mind’s door. In that moment I decided to experiment with a mindfulness exercise in awareness. I like to call it Flip The Script, because I’m not that creative and it really is as simple as that. Each time I noticed an inner complaint, grumpy reaction or just pissiness in general, I completely flipped the script. It helped me to be aware of the negative inner talk and then poke fun at it. It went something like this:

  • Identify the negative thought or complaint
  • Turn it into a positive
  • Take a breath and move on
  • Repeat x Repeat x Repeat

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Here are a couple of examples, the initial negative thoughts are in red – while the flipped script is green.

Thoughts as I walked into the food court : Great. Shitty airport food and it’s all lunch or dinner options except Starbucks. Yes! A free pass to eat pizza before 9 a.m.

Thoughts as a huge drop of sauce falls onto my only sweatshirt : Fuck. How will I stay warm and not look like a slob? I knew laying so far back in this chair and eating was a bad idea and yet I did it anyway. Hahaha I’m basically laying down and eating, what did I expect putting forth so little effort to eat a saucy pizza?

Thoughts as I walk through the Philadelphia airport : Wow. It’s 5 p.m. it’s been twelve hours since I’ve been here. I hate this place. I wish I was in RDU (my home airport of Raleigh Durham) I’m so much closer to my car and therefore freedom than I have been all day. You hate Philadelphia? Good thing you don’t live here anymore.

Thoughts as I turn on my car and see my gas light is on : Of course you’d do this to yourself. This is not the first or last time the gas light will come on. This is how you operate. You can get a kombucha when you stop for gas.

Thoughts as I pay $24 for parking at the airport : Cool. I just paid $24 to park here while I spent twelve hours in airports. Today was cool. I would have paid nearly $300 if I left Houston on schedule. At least the parking attendant was super nice. (He gave me Tootsie rolls!)

Thoughts as I sit in traffic on the way out of Philly : 5:30 p.m. could not have picked a better time to drive to D.C. than rush hour on a Monday. I didn’t choose this time to leave. I’ll make it to D.C. in time for sunset. I’ll eat dinner with a friend and meet her two new kittens.

After the traffic cleared and I made my way to D.C. I can’t recall anymore negative thoughts. Sure, they came back after I left D.C. and drove through the night home to North Carolina, but I went ahead and flipped the script every time. Why?

Each year, I read Buddha’s Brain, a book I’ve recommended dozens of times on this blog. I had just read a passage the night before that said, “even fleeting thoughts and feelings can leave lasting marks on your brain, much like a spring shower can leave little trails on a hillside.” When I landed in Houston and got the call to immediately come back east, my rational brain thought, ‘okay this is fine, I’m not going to die, I’m not going to make a bunch of money that I need either, but all in all I am okay and this is just one day in my life.’ Those initial thoughts were helpful in then recognizing that an hour later I had started to flip the script in a negative way and started feeding into the grumpiness after I had already told myself that everything was fine. Why was that? Probably because that’s the thought pattern my brain is used to. Something happened that wasn’t planned that I don’t like, I should be super grumpy about it. Not so.

Buddha’s Brain helped me to understand that how we focus our attention and how we intentionally direct the flow of energy and information through our neural circuits can directly alter the brain’s activity and its structure. Knowing how to harness awareness to promote well-being and positive change is the key to working with that scientific knowledge. If you’re aware of negative thought patterns, you have the power to try to change them every single day. 

Actively watching my negative thoughts and flipping the script might seem like a minute action, but these small exercises actually build up to larger changes as new neural structures are built. Neurons that fire together, wire together that’s why it’s imperative to be on your own side instead of adding to the misery. Whenever I’m being a grumpy see you next Tuesday, I seriously ask myself, ‘do I want the bitch muscles to flex or weaken?’ Each of us has a good and a bad side, try actively feeding the one you want to prosper and see what happens. Even if you can’t catch yourself with each negative thought, after you’ve had a rough day or something didn’t go as planned, try to seek out the positive or the benefits and say them to yourself. The best part about my Monday? I realized I LOVE my blue saucy sweatshirt turned inside out better than right side out, so yeah, I basically was granted a new favorite sweatshirt for that whole debacle. Worth it? Sure.

Happy Friday y’all!

 

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Sarah’s Favorite Wilderness Reads

It seems like Kate and her crew have been camping all year long. While I’m sure there’s not much time in her van to open up a good book, that’s all I do when I camp with Ca$h. Here are a few of my favorite woodsy wilderness reads for all your camping outtings this summer. I linked to the paperback versions, so pull out your headlamp and start flippin’ pages.

live seasoned outdoor reads

Mycophilia: Revalations from the Weird World of Mushrooms – This is the type of book where you read a few pages and then run into the next room to tell someone else all the cool things you just learned. Mycophilia is a beautifull written first person narrative of the fungi world. Author Eugenia Bone meets masters of the mushroom sphere as she discovers and researches all type of uses from scientific to culinary. If you have any interest in mushrooms, I highly recommend this informative read.

John Muir – any of his essays or journals – I actually recommend Muir’s writings as a way to fall asleep and here I’m recommending it as inspiration for your own nature journals and writings. Reading about Muir’s adventures will have you sitting in your cozy camp chair in admiration as he details his romps in the wilderness with nothing more than a heel of bread and an army blanket.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Made famous because of the movie, Wild, is a first person account of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail completely unprepared. These types of accounts encourage me to just do it. Stop the research and prep, go for it and see what happens. I enjoyed both the movie and the book – in that order too.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail – Bill Bryson’s account of the Appaliachian trail blends his witty walk in the woods with the history of the wilderness and suggestions for how we can conserve our wild lands. As someone who is itching to walk the AT, I love reading about others’ experiences with the trail.

Into the Wild – You probably know the story, but have you read the book? Into the Wild is one of those stories that has always stayed with me because I see so many similarities between myself and the main character, Chris McCandless. I also noticed the public’s split opinion, some feeling bad for Chris, while other’s did not and were almost angry with him because he was in the wilderness messing around. I find it interesting that any of us, even the most prepared, think that we’re capable of mastering mother nature. He did the best he could. RIP Chris.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values – This book. I need to come clean here.. by the time I finished this book, I absolutely hated it. I was treking at high altitude and ripping out pages and burning them when I was finished. I was so over it. Cut to today and I’ve realized many, many times that Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has had an enormous impact on how I view quality (a term that pops up at least 3,000 times in this book) and work. Believe it or not, I just ordered it again so I can read it with appreciation this time.

That’s that! My very favorite books to read outdoors. A perfect mix of inspiration and admiration lie within these pages. Don’t have any camping plans coming up? No problem, I’m in the habbit of turning off all my lights, opening the windows (to let the sounds of insects in) and reading by headlamp. At my little hut here in Chapel Hill, I feel like I’m in a tent in the middle of the woods 🙂

 

 

 

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Colorado Roadtrip : Pagosa to Ouray

You can find more of our Colorado adventures here, and if you like travel posts, we have a lot! We took this road trip in our *new* van (can’t wait to tell you more about it); this post gives you a little overview of what we pack in the van. And here are some of our basic tips for camping with kids.

Yesterday I shared a glimpse of our 36 hours in Great Sand Dunes, today I’m sharing from the rest of our trip as we visited Pagosa, Ouray, and the scenic highways in between!

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First up, the most breathtaking pit-stop that we made for a certain 4 y.o. that had to go. Look at those cliffs! This is somewhere east of Pagosa along US route 160. I stayed neared the van where Luc was sleeping while Alex and Calder took a short walk to stretch their legs. Can you see them in the first pic? They’re just little dots holding hands and being careful not to lose each other down the cliff.

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Colorado Roadtrip : Great Sand Dunes

You can find more of our Colorado adventures here, and if you like travel posts, we have a lot! We took this road trip in our *new* van (can’t wait to tell you more about it); this post gives you a little overview of what we pack in the van. And here are some of our basic tips for camping with kids.

Earlier this month, we went on a five-day road trip to south west Colorado. It’s a part of the state we haven’t explored, but had heard great things about. We set out excited to experience the beautiful San Juan mountain range. Let me spill the beans right now: this trip was awesome (I’m writing this about a week after the trip, and we’re still talking about it). We loved the scenery, the hot springs, and the towns we visited.

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This is going to be a two-post report. In this post I’m going to share photos and from the first bit of our trip that was spent in Great Sand Dunes National Park, and in the second post I’ll share photos from our visits to Pagosa Springs and Ouray.

We left after work on Tuesday and drove until we reached Great Sand Dunes (it was sometime after midnight). Rather than head straight to the park, we took the rocky and bUMpY 20 minute ride to Zapata Falls, camping there for the night. When we woke up in the morning, the view was breathtaking! From high on the hill, you could look down and see the sand dunes with the mountains in the background. Don’t you love waking up to a surprise like that? roadtrip2

We were so excited to get to the dunes that we had breakfast, stretched our legs, and then got back in the car and headed into the park. Sadly, we didn’t take the time to hike to the actual falls at Zapata Falls. That’ll have to wait for our next visit!

Campground

But, our timing was perfect, because we drove into the park, took a quick stop at the visitor’s center, and then took a drive through the unreserved campground and were able to snag a spot as someone was checking out! I definitely think timing was on our side, there seemed to be daily-turnover in the park midweek, but then as we were checking out Thursday morning, it seemed like everyone coming in had plans to stay through the weekend.
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The Dunes

After securing the spot, we drove straight over to the sand dunes. We knew we wanted to hike on them, and everyone warns that it’s best done either earlier in the morning or later in the evening – times when the sun isn’t shining as bright and the dunes are cooler.

As you can see in the photo above, we came early enough in the season so that the water (from snowmelt) was still flowing through the park. This creek dries up by late June, and I’m sure that would create a much different (hotter/dryer/dustier) visit. I’ll share a few more pics of our time near the water later in the post. First, we just crossed it on our way to the dunes.

And those dunes are spectacular. It’s such a mind-bending experience to see these large (largest in North America!) dunes at the base of the granite mountains. From some angles you could see the mountains, and from others you just saw sand and blue skies.

If you look closely in the photo below, you can see people hiking off in the distance, and it helps to give you some perspective of the size of the dunes. roadtrip5 roadtrip6 roadtrip7 roadtrip8

We set out on our walk not having high expectations for how far we’d get (that’s the best mindset you can have with two little guys in two)… but I secretly think that both Calder and I were hoping we’d make it to the top!

We were prepared with both a larger hiking pack to hold the big kid and the ergo to hold the smaller kid. There were times when the boys were in their packs and there were times when they were out, and step by step we made progress until we made it to the top!

It was hard work, guys. About 2 hours of hard work. Every step you took involved some sinking into the sand and sliding slightly backwards.  roadtrip9 roadtrip10 roadtrip11

As you can see in the photo above, we carried along cardboard in the hopes of sledding down the dunes. Many friends told us that this worked for them. It definitely didn’t work for us. I’m not sure what went wrong, but we had the most success just sitting on our bums and doing a slow slide down the steeper sides of the dunes.

Dune Shoes : And, as mentioned above, the dunes do get hot. I wore sneakers, while Alex and Calder both had slip-on summer shoes. I saw lots of other hikers with sandals and flipflops. Honestly, I’m not sure what kind of shoe is best. The boys had trouble with sand getting into their shoes, and so did I! I didn’t expect it with my sneakers, but sand was sneaking in through the mesh fabric of the shoes. It even got stuck between the layers of fabric, and for about a week, it would slowly weasel its way out as I wore the shoes. But the sandals and flipflops also seem like don’t offer enough protection from the hot sand. Who knows, you just have to pick your poison. roadtrip12

After our hike, we were worn out and starving, so we headed back to the campsite for an easy ramen and eggs lunch, and then naps (for everyone!).

The Water

Post naps, we headed back over to the dunes, and spent a couple of hours near the water. The boys had a great time play in the sand and wading in the water while C and I had a chance to relax and enjoy the view.

Can you spot the deer in the photo below?! roadtrip13 roadtrip14 roadtrip15

Then it was back to the campsite for marshmallows, stories, and an early bedtime.
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Etc.

Just a few additional observations and hearsay about Great Sand Dunes :

  • sledding down the dunes : As I mentioned, many people told us to pack cardboard for sledding. That didn’t work at all for us. Maybe it will for you? We also saw people sledding and “surfing” on boards rented in the park. They look like fun, but you have to want to carry them up the dunes.
  • mosquitoes : We had no trouble with mosquitoes, but have heard from others that they can be overwhelming in June.
  • hiking : In addition to the dunes, there are many other hiking trails. We didn’t venture out on any, but would love to on a future visit.
  • campground store : There’s a nice little campground store that carries a wide variety of items. We stopped in one night for ice and firewood and saw that they also carried ice cream and avocados. Great store!
  • shade tents : many families brought shade tents to the water area, and that looked like a great idea if you planned to stay all day (it seemed like many people treated it like a beach day).
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Two Bits

We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same.  You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned.

live seasoned koh lipe blue hour-1

Sarah Here :

Happy Friyay! I’ve been having a week. It started off inspiring and productive as I worked through the whole weekend. I researched and formulated some plans for my Tulum retreat, I meditated more than usual and I bought myself a new camera, which means I have to update this post. Then Monday came around and I heard news that Otto Warmbier had died. This event led me on a dark spiral that continued through the week and culminated in me watching dozens of videos of black men being shot and killed by police. I don’t necessarily think my behavior is healthy, but I do think exposure to evil is a helpful way for me personally to cultivate even more empathy, compassion and love.

I’m hoping that I’ll find a way to make a meaningful difference, but for now I’ll just talk about my experience and feelings about Otto’s death. I wrote this immediately after I heard the news, before I had my morning coffee, while completely wrapped up in emotion, and now I’m hearing my college professor telling me to ‘take a seat,’ after having just explained so much about my writing before presenting it. Sorry Professor Trayes!

Walking up the stairs to my tiny bungalow yesterday, I thought back to a week previous when I had caught my roommate’s cat stealing a baby bird from a nest. I was mortified, I happened to look out the window at the moment when her mouth closed around the small bird. So upset with the cat, I stomped outside with rubber gloves on, picked up the tiny, mostly unharmed, chirping bird and returned it to its nest. I felt immense sadness for this single baby bird. ‘How could the cat do that,’ I thought, even though I’ve seen dead bird carcasses lying around for the past year and I’m well aware of instinctual nature.

Cut to ten minutes later, I wander into my room for something and again, looking out the same window, I see the cat steal the same baby bird. This time death was imminent. My heart felt tiny and hard. WTF. What the fuck. My friend helped rationalize it, commenting on the natural cycle of life, the food chain, the minute importance of a single bird when there are surely humans dying at the same moment… Yeah, I understand all that and yet something about this moment, about seeing the cat steal the bird, saving the bird and then seeing it being stolen again, I just couldn’t handle it. Wasn’t it enough that I wanted the bird to live?

It took me a couple of days to realize that really what I wanted wasn’t so much for the bird to live, but for me to not see the bird die. This cat has been murdering songbirds and small mammals its whole life and I knew that, never once did I feel such crushing sadness, it was only because I saw the suffering. I saw the momma and poppa bird circling overhead, chirping, terrified and angry that they worked so hard only for their baby bird’s progress to be stopped in an instant. I saw them return to the nest excited and squawking when the baby was replaced, I heard the shrieks when the cat came back.. I was a witness.

So often I try to act as a witness. Observing the present moment, aware yet detached and allowing each tiny event to flow by.. but the baby bird stuck. I was no longer in the present, it made an impact. I know this because I could not stop thinking about it and yet I knew it was uncommon for me to be that upset by the death of a single bird.

So back to yesterday, I’m walking up the steps, past the exact spot where I tried to save the baby bird a week previous and in an instant I thought, ‘okay, I’m finally over the bird incident, I set my emotions aside, I understand why I was upset and I’ve come to terms with witnessing suffering and the fragility of life,’ and it was as that thought was finishing that I see a fresh songbird carcass laying on the top step.  I let out a loud laugh from the bottom of my belly; the timing was amazing. At the instant I declared I was, over it I was challenged to face it again. Reality is truly absurd. Believe it or not, I felt better and I laughed a few more times that day about the second dead bird. It’s as if my self declaration of passing the test was enough for the universe to hand me another challenge, to ask, ‘are you sure you’re okay with it?’ And the answer was yes.

Then something else happened.. Otto Warmbier, the young American who allegedly tried to steal the propaganda poster from North Korea died. He’s dead. An American kid who might have tried to steal a poster is dead. Is it idiotic to steal something from North Korea?  Especially something with the dictator’s face on it? Yeah, duh, of course. Did an immature 21-year-old brain think for a second that it wouldn’t be such a big deal? Yeah, I’m sure. Was it? The biggest.

Even though we don’t exactly know what happened, I suppose the fact that an American abroad could be arrested, detained and returned home on the verge of death, is what’s absolutely terrifying to me. I understand what a privileged position I hold. There are citizens in our home country who worry about being potentially killed during routine stops and arrests on American soil. I get that and I don’t mean to minimize it.

Maybe Otto’s death scared me so much because I travel a lot. I think about being locked up abroad and I think about my poor parents. I think about the work they put in and how I could serve them a lifetime of grief with one stupid move, but I always imagined bribery, bankruptcy and jail time, not labor camps, comas and death. If nothing else, I expected accountability from one government to another. I expected my super power of a country to come to my rescue to at least ensure I wasn’t withering away in whatever imaginary jail I found myself in if the punishment didn’t fit the crime.

As an American abroad, I actually pretend to be Canadian. Seriously. I never offer up where I’m from and I’m the first person to criticize our country in a world that is U.S.A.-crazed. I always try to emphasize that America is not what everyone sees in the movies. I don’t live in Hollywood and not everyone is rich and beautiful, has a good education or even a full belly of food where I live. It’s a hard concept for some people to grasp.

As an American girl abroad, I’ve had at least a dozen serious marriage proposals and hundreds if not thousands of conversations about our politics and presidents. Traveling during Bush, Obama and now Trump, has opened me up to a range of discussions and reactions from folks on five other continents. After rolling my eyes and shaking my head and basically crushing the idea of the American dream to whomever I’m talking to, my cynical side starts to melt away, I back pedal and I admit that America is alright. I remark on our freedom speech, fair elections and general permission to do whatever the fuck we want, including buy assault rifles.. hopefully my foreign counterparts detect my sarcasm on the last bit, but even if they don’t, America doesn’t sound too bad. Apparently most people think it sounds pretty great (No need to make it great again, we’re already there!) and at the end of each of my trips, when I finally land back on American soil, I too agree. It’s good to be home. It’s nice to know I have this amazing country to be apart of, a place where I’m mostly free to be me without persecution.

I suppose I always assumed that being an American abroad insulated me as well. That I would always be saved by my country. I think Otto’s death rocked me because it flipped the script of what I knew to be true. If you’re an American, America has your back. Everything will be fine. The world is watching, but just like the baby bird, it doesn’t matter who is watching.

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First Bikes for Kids

There’s no doubt about it, we are a biking family. Did you see our recent ride in Rocky Mountain National Park (that was my Mother’s Day treat, and I couldn’t have been happier!)?

Calder’s the intense guy you’ve passed in your car; the one riding up the steepest of mountains and making it look like it’s no effort at all. In my heyday, I biked all of Philly & Boston and was so proud when my car would sit unused for a week at a time.Thanks to the generosity of my mom, we were early adopters of the TAGA. When we moved to Boulder, C added an extra basket so that I could do all of my grocery shopping and errands via the bike. I have such fond memories of getting to know our new city by riding the bike paths with Alex! I would still bike everywhere if I could, but kids and living on the mountain make it a challenge. Continue reading

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Chive Blossom Fritters

It’s Pollinator Week, and we’re sharing pics of bees and one of their favorite early summer treats in our yard. Coincidence? Possibly.

Chive fritters, because it’s fair season, and just like pickles, cheese, and ice cream, even flowers can be fried. Classy? No. Maybe. Delicious? Definitely.

Our house came with large patches of chives that produce an overabundance of beautiful edible blossoms every spring. I love the chives, but they also drive me slightly crazy because I feel bad when I’m not making use of the bunch. One of the easiest things to do is sending Alex out to pick chive and dandelion blossoms for our salads. He loves the independence that comes with being sent to do a job like this. I’ve also experimented with chive-infused vinegar. Remember the dressing in our pollinator salad? These fritters are yet another good use for the blossoms. chive_fritters1

But as it often happens happens, when I’m outside picking the blossoms, the bees are buzzing. They’re gently collecting pollen as they move from one flower to the next, and it’s then that I’m reminded that it’s perfectly fine to take a handful or two and just let the rest be. {Look at that bee bum!}

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Tree Meditation

live seasoned tree meditation-1

Happy Mindful Monday 🙂 Any excuse to use alliteration? I’m there! I thought it would be cool to start things off on a positive note, something to bring awareness to your day and potentially the rest of the week. Mindfulness is simply awareness. I like to think of it as noticing the sensations in your mind, heart and body in the present moment. It’s basically watching without judgment. It’s tough. How well you watch yourself and your actions gives you control over them or at least a starting point in understanding them more fully.

Mindfulness can be practiced and honed in a many ways, but today I’ll share a single exercise for you to work with all week. Notice the trees. It sounds simple and it is, but how often do you do it? Do you have a favorite tree in your town? No?! Why not? I’m sure there is one that is more attractive to you than the rest, this week you should find it. I have favorite trees all over the place and I can’t tell you how many people have laughed at me when I pointed them out, but it’s true. Notice the trees and you’ll realize you too have favorites. If you live above the treeline or in an area without trees, you may notice any greenery: grasses, bushes, cacti, etc.

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Two Bits

We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same.  You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned.

Sarah Here :

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Happy Friday friends! I hope your week went well. Mine was off to a bit of a bummer because I hosted a dear friend all last week and then woke up alone on Monday morning. Who likes that? No one, that’s who. After a Monday morning pep talk, I cleared off my white board and made a plan for the week. As a self-employed person, this is pretty much my only strategy for keeping myself accountable and on track with the week’s or month’s tasks. It worked pretty well this time around.

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Top Five Travel Snacks

live seasoned travel snacks -2 graphic

A whole post dedicated to snacks. Silly? NOPE! I’ve done it before besides, I’m the grumpiest grump when I’m hungry, not only that, but I’m pretty much incapable of any sound thinking let alone making a decision so snacks are important. We need to talk about them. I conferred with my buddy Erin, who joined me in Thailand this past March, and we agreed on our favorite travel snacks. Erin showed up in Bangkok with a child’s daypack stuffed with snacks and teabags. I immediately gave her the props she deserved then we talked {snack} shop.

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