Sunday, December 2, 2012

Home for the Holiday

This Thanksgiving, I really wanted to continue our new tradition of going away for the holiday. Since Brian's family lives close and I usually get to see my family at Christmas, it makes sense to spend the bonus time off of work off somewhere exploring. This year, Brian wanted to stay home and, as much as I hate to admit it, my plans of Bermuda were not very practical with my present work/school load. So we stayed put. Brian decided to make it a hybrid holiday and we did a little family time and getting away in our own city.

We spent two nights at the art deco hotel, Hotel Phillips in downtown Kansas City. The room was nice and they had cable, so I was happy just sitting on the couch watching some HGTV. It's certainly been awhile since I was able to just kick back and relax.
After a delicious breakfast at Room 39, Brian sent me off to spend the day at The Spa at Briarcliff Village. I had a massage, facial, manicure, pedicure and a soak in these three tubs (all different temperatures.) It was a pretty nice way to spend a day off of work and school.
After a relaxing day, we had dinner at Aixois Brasserie. I had a delicious beet salad, the filet of salmon and this amazing pot de creme au chocolate. Yum! I also had a French 75 (champagne, Beefeater gin, simple syrup, and lemon twist). Okay, two of those.
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and are moving into a lovely holiday season! My parents are coming from Maine to join us for Christmas, so more Kansas City adventures to come soon. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Passports with Purpose

Hello! I have missed you all so! (School is officially over for the semester in a couple of weeks, so I plan on catching up with you soon.) In the meantime, I wanted to share something cool with you that intersects my love for travel, winning prizes, and supporting clean water through Water.org.

This awesome group of bloggers is doing a campaign to raise money through an amazing online auction. For $10 you get one entry to win prizes that range from clothing to trips to gift cards. You can see the full list here. As you prepare for the holidays, this could be a great way to win something great for yourself or to giveaway to someone else while giving others the chance at a new life through access to water and sanitation. The prizes will be drawn in advance of December 25th, so you will even have time to shop in the chance you don't win a riverboat cruise for your sister-in-law. Can't wait to catch up with you soon!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Repairing Rockslides - Part III

Sorry for the delay, here are some general shots from the trip:

This is a 3D version of Yosemite. I am pointing out our work site for the week.
The infamous Half Dome - not a bad thing to gaze upon as you are working all day.
Our abode for the week. (Not pictured - lots of bear boxes to store food, toiletries and anything with a scent. By the end of sorting through things, most people ended up with everything in the box just to be on the safe side. No bear sightings were had.)
In review, the trip was great. I would highly recommend a trip through REI Adventures. It was nice to have someone sorting out all of the details, cooking our meals, hauling in water, and getting us a behind the scenes, non-touristy experience of Yosemite. I would imagine the same principles would apply to their other trips. Dreaming of a trip to Peru or Antarctica with them next. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Repairing Rockslides - Part II

A pictorial review of the work we did this week in Yosemite:

The aftermath of the rockslide; this used to be a trail through the forest.
Clockwise (from top left): my dad and me in front of the rubble, big pieces of granite, the big pieces of granite after I broke them up by hand (no power tools/equipment allowed back on the Federal trails), progress on the trail where we sanded over the granite gravel, wheelbarrows lined up ready for rocks/sand, my dad winching a giant boulder off the trail.
My "getting-things-done" face as I winch a tree from the ground. Grrr!
So, to recap, we shoveled lots of sand and rock, winched giant boulders from the trail, winched this tree growing in the middle of the trail, moved logs and brush off of the trail, hid pseudo-trails with camouflage to discourage off-trail camping, and blew up granite with shotgun shells and explosive boosters (not pictured, need to get that photo from my dad's camera). In all, it was a lot of work but I think we managed to get maybe a quarter of it done. The trail is supposed to open back up in mid-October. Thanks for checking in. Tomorrow I'll share some non-work photos!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Repairing Rockslides - Part I

So I survived five days of Yosemite, and being offline - the latter being a lot easier than the former! When we arrived to the park, we set up camp, met the other 17 volunteers, and attended our orientation. We learned that our project for the week was going to be helping to open a section of trail that had been decimated by a rock slide three years ago. The welcome wine and beer came out shortly after and we were off and running for the week. Due to a slower-than-death internet connection in Fresno, here's one photo to get things started, more to come tomorrow!

Me and my dad, Day 1, all ready to hike to the work site. (So this is where they steal photos for portrait studio backdrops!)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pre-Adventure in Fresno

If you ever have a few hours to kill in Fresno, CA, and you're hungry, look no further than the Hunan Restaurant. If it's possible, this is the most nondescript place from the outside - think alcove in a half-abandoned strip mall with only a rug on the ground with the name of the restaurant. (Thanks Yelp-ers!) When I walked in and looked confused, the host/waiter assured me that they were indeed open (I was the only one there, but it was a little after 5pm and my stomach was still on Central Time).

First up were freshly made wontons. While a little greasy, they were delicious.
Then came the peach prawns (sorry, they are slightly out of focus). Oh man, were these good! Crunchy and creamy with the slightest hint of peach. Worth going back for.
If you come at the right time of year, on the right day of the week, you can also check out this really cool sounding place, Forestiere Underground Gardens. Apparently some guy, who had mad skills as a subway digger, carved out acres and acres of earth from the 1920's-1940's to create a dream world of underground Mediterranean gardens. The website looked awesome and it was ranked as one of the top 5 things to do in Fresno, but alas it's not open on Tuesdays in September. If you are ever nearby, you should check it out and let me know what you thought of it.

Hope to see you back on the blog sometime this week - if the camp store really has the wi-fi it's rumored to have. Thanks for checking in and now I'm off to San Jose to collect my dad and we'll be off!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dallying in Dallas

Our first nephew was born nine weeks ago to Brian's middle brother, Andrew, and his wife, Sarah. With Labor Day being the first three-day weekend we've had in a while, we decided to drive down to meet Foster in person. We arrived in time to meet him before he fell asleep and then we all found a few things to do before we had a family-style dinner and headed off to bed.

First up was a delicious iced, lavender latte at The Pearl Cup. They promised it was "weirdly good" and they were right!
A couple of doors down, Sarah and I checked out Milk + Honey which she had described it as an affordable anthropologie - and she was spot on!
And finally we ducked next door o find the boys checking out the eclectic wares at We Are 1976. Isn't Foster just the cutest baby ever?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

MIA

Dear Reader,

I'm not dead, but school just started Monday with a week-long intensive. I'll be back online soon and look forward to wrapping up Vancouver and filling you in on things and upcoming adventures. Also, we are thisclose to the 400th Post Blog Winner Weekend Contest - just sayin'. Talk to you soon, hope you're doing well!

~Jenn

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vancouver Vittles

For my birthday dinner, I chose Ki (in the Shangri La Hotel). It was chic but laid-back and the food was delicious. We had spicy edamame (not pictured), the creamy miso chowder (which I ate too fast to take a photo, oops), the kiwi-tuna roll, the toro tower, the spicy avocado roll and the flour-less chocolate torte. Yum!
The next day we decided to check out South Granville, noted in guidebooks and websites for good shopping. I found a few ways to spend my birthday money and then we had lunch at Rangoli which was excellent - and saying a lot from someone who isn't the biggest Indian food fan ever. The restaurant is also a market and they sell many of their dishes as prepared, frozen meals. I had the black chickpea and onion cakes with vegetable rice pilaf (left) and Brian had the chickpeas in curry on a bed of marinated eggplant (right).
While little markets and shops abound in the Gastown neighborhood, where we stayed, none had the artistic beauty of the farmer's market in Old Faithful Shop.
Sunday nights bring out the jazz trios in Gastown. We opted for listening in on the musicians at the Pourhouse, along with some drinks and dinner. I had a yummy beet salad and Brian had the steel head trout with the most amazing gnocchi in brown butter.
That's about all the food news from our trip, outside of tonight. We're headed off to a long-table dinner at The Irish Heather where we will rub elbows with all the locals before we head back to the States tomorrow. All good things must come to an end, I guess, but I wish we could take this weather with us!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

By Land and Sea

The proprietors of the spheres gave us a hand-drawn map of a hike that they recommended. They said it would take us about two-three hours depending on whether we took the long way or not. We opted for the long way, and enjoyed the quiet woods which we had all to ourselves - minus a few birds, a couple of grazing horses and perhaps a hiding bear or two.
Old growth trees and moss abounded - this is just to give you some scale on things.
Being on an island, we had easy access to the water as well. We hooked up with Island Surf Company for a little stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP) around Qualicum Beach. It was easy until the tide started coming in and then, despite paddling like crazy, we just stayed in one place. I have one palm blister and a barnacle cut to the foot to show for our efforts.
After our hike (day 2) and SUPing (day 3), we headed back for the ferry to the mainland to start our Vancouver part of the adventure. (Queue the food pics to come.) On Vancouver Island we had pretty normal food, nothing to write home about, but if you're in the area sometime, we would recommend Lefty's, Shady Rest, and the ice cream stand along 19A. Thanks for checking in!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Middle Earth Nights

Sometimes, the harder it is to get somewhere, the more worth it it seems. We left our house yesterday at 2am (PST) and arrived to Qualicum Beach, B.C. around 5:30pm. As previewed previously, we checked into our sphere and had a cozy evening. I felt like an elf in a tree and Brian said he felt like a Hobbit - both in good ways, of course.

Our welcome snack basket (not pictured - a birthday banner on our sphere's door)
Albeit small, the sphere is packed with everything you need, from board games to coffee maker to head lamps. Overlooking a small pond, we were rocked to sleep in this giant swing. All day today I have felt myself swaying a little, involuntarily.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dressing for the Wevther


Wevther.com
I came across this site today as I was packing for Vancouver. Its simple, clean style caught my eye before I realized its function. Just type in any location and out comes wardrobe suggestions for men or women. Click on an item and you are redirected to purchase it online. In season, in style, and effortless, which, when it comes to packing, is just about perfect.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hipster(ish) Branson

This past weekend was spent eking out the last bits of summer at a family reunion before Year 2 of grad school commences. I took a short nap each day, the ultimate vacation activity in my world no matter how short. I looked for things to do that weren't Dixieland Stampede, Silver Dollar City or Duckboat Tours (which are all probably lovely, but not my first choices). Instead, we:

Went the the Copper Run Distillery for a whiskey, rum and moonshine tasting.
Visited Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery where we fed and learned about rainbow and brown trout.
Hiked around part of Table Rock Lake at the State Park. We took the paved route so it was stroller friendly, and caught up with some of Brian's West Coast family.
In all, it was a pretty action-packed 36 hours. I guess summer isn't exactly over, we still have our vacation coming up!, even if some of it will be spent reviewing marketing reports. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pitstops


I just stumbled across this cool website, that I wish I'd found sooner, and had to share it with you. It's called "On the Way" and tells you what is between your starting and end point - restaurants, historical sites, entertainment attractions, etc. I wish I had had this on my way up to Minnesota a couple of weeks ago. I just ran it for our trip to Branson this weekend for Brian's family reunion:

Featured Stops

While this list is not too exciting, consider we are driving through rural parts of Missouri, there are options to make out of the way stops and take alternate routes to where you are headed. I am sure wherever you are going next by car will provide much more interesting list items. Thanks for checking in and be on the lookout for my next blog post - "Finding Hipster Branson." I am totally up for suggestions if you have any!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Renegade Finds

Like I mentioned in my last post, I had a great day checking out the Renegade Craft Fair. There were so many great artists and booths, it was hard to pick out just a few things to buy. However, thanks to my budget and my small suitcase, it got a lot easier. Here is what followed me home, and a few mentions of places I will definitely shop online in the future!

I'm not sure what I liked more - that this artist was from Maine (right near where I grew up) or her designs, like this linen tea towel.
This ring was made using 3D printer technology, which is becoming all the rage according to the podcasts I've been listening to on NPR. I am not entirely sure I quite understand how it works. Either way, this ring is awesome, as is the rest of their jewelry which you should totally check out here.
I'm a bit obsessed with letterpress things anyway, but these coasters from Wishbone Letterpress were especially vibrant and pretty. Each set comes with six designs and were the perfect remedy to my sweating cold beverages on my desk at work.
As I am always on the hunt for ways to make my cubicle feel more like an Anthropologie store, this print from Little Things Studio was perfect.
Perused but not purchased (yet):
  • Lineposters.com -  these posters depict the public transit systems of your favorite cities; so cool
  • Son of a Sailor - delicate and beautiful jewelry, mixing elements like brass and painted enamel, great prices too
  • Virginia Kraljevic - this artist sold amazingly detailed, and whimsical, pen and ink drawings, so cute

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer in the City - Part 4

You know those days, where everything is just about perfect and you find yourself wondering how the day is lasting so long? I know they don't come around often enough, but Saturday was one of those days for me.

Breakfast doesn't get any better than New York bagels, chive cream cheese, capers, and freshly smoked salmon from Acme Smoked Fish. Yummy!
As Jessica was perusing Time Out New York for things to do, she mentioned that the Renegade Craft Fair was going on down the street that weekend. I was stoked, I've been wanting to go down to the one in Austin or up to Chicago for a couple of years. We walked over and did some shopping, screen printed t-shirts (pictured above), and visited Smorgasburg in the lot next door for drinks and snacks, it was hot out there! I found some great things and artists that I'll share in my next souvenir post.
We met up with Jessica's boyfriend, Brian, and headed to the Wythe Hotel rooftop bar for the view and a drink. It was beautiful and my Dark and Stormy was delicious!
After drinks, we headed to Roberta's for dinner. For those of you who know me, know that pizza is my favorite food group. This pizza joint, frequented by famous NYC foodies, is worth every minute you have to wait, seriously.
We finished off the day with handmade, craft cocktails by Brian with some of Jessica and Brian's friends on their rooftop deck. Yep, it was a pretty awesome day. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer in the City - Part 3

Jessica and I started the weekend right with dinner at Danji, a Korean tapas place with amazing (and spicy) cocktails. I had a Pink Diablo - watermelon-infused tequila, lime and jalapeno - and Jessica had a Spicy Ginger Margarita. For dinner I had the amazing spicy yellowtail sashimi and the mesclun salad. 
To offset the healthiness of dinner, we headed to Amy's Bread for some dessert. I got halfway through this coconut dream bar before I remembered to snap a photo.
After dinner we headed to this show which was based on a book and followed, Wicked-style, to fill in the story before Peter Pan. It was certainly an interesting play, without much music and many pop culture references that will have to be updated if people continue to perform it. The whole time we watched, I kept thinking about how many high schools will start adding this to their rotation. The show starred one of the main characters from Smash and was enjoyable to watch.
We left Broadway, grabbed the subway, and a slice of pizza, and headed back to Jessica and Brian's apartment. Thanks for stopping in!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer in the City - Part 2

The next two days of my trip were devoted primarily to a work-related conference for technology and social media but I did manage to work in a little fun, surprise-surprise.

After the first day of the conference, Jessica and I met up to fulfill number eight on my Travel Bucket List. I had failed to get pre-sale tickets to The Moth SLAM, a podcast that I love (it can be downloaded for free here), so I was a little worried we'd miss it, but the venue accepted more people than could move around comfortably and we were in! The theme for the evening was "Small World" and we heard from ten story-tellers selected at random. There were several hilarious ones, a couple of serious ones, and one that I couldn't follow at all. A very enjoyable way to spend $8 if you are ever in a town that has a show.
After the show, we headed to dinner at Extra Fancy, who refers to themselves as an "upscale clam shack." The light wasn't great, and I didn't have my camera, so sorry about the oddly colored shot of my Arctic char funnel cake, which was delicious. I also had a yummy three beet salad.
The end of the conference brought us each a four-pack sampler of cupcakes from Crumbs. They were so delicious that I had to eat them all at once, which was maybe not the best idea but worth it. After the conference I headed out of the financial building we'd been in all week to enjoy the city, more on that tomorrow!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summer in the City - Part 1

Since arriving into NYC on Wednesday, things have been a bit of a blur -- in a good way, of course. 
I got in at 7pm and took a cab straight to an event that my friend Jessica was throwing for work, the NY Tech Meetup, at the Gawker rooftop. We drank delicious craft cocktails, created under the mastery of Jessica's boyfriend, Brian, and heard two futuristic talks about technology and the world.
A war journalist, Danfung Dennis spoke about his new documentary film, Hell and Back Again, and his new company, Condition One, which is revolutionizing the way we will see video on mobile devices. Fascinating stuff.
Ray Kurzweil, one of the most prolific inventors/entrepreneurs/thinkers of our time, then shared his thoughts on the future. For those of you reading who are interested in more about how we will likely have nanobots in our blood, brains and bodies in the next 30 years, check out this summary of his presentation here. I had one of those "in the presence of greatness" moments listening to him speak, even if I only understood fifty percent of what was being said.
I thought the hanging focaccia was delicious. I unfortunately didn't capture photos of the lime daiquiri's or the gin and juice (complete with liquid nitrogen), but I did enjoy them both! Thanks for geeking out with me!