Friday, November 30, 2012

For the Christmas Home


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Bostonian Way

Two weeks ago, Patrick and I had a really fabulous trip to Boston. We are blessed with dear friends that live in Cambridge, so we knew we wanted to make a trip there together before their stint in the city  was over. The weather was beautiful, and we couldn't have asked for a more enjoyable experience (or more enjoyable friends to hit the city with!). They were gracious and kind, and devoted so much time to teaching us the ways of life in the Northeast. I couldn't have been more thankful for our time together - exploring and reconnecting. 

Here are some of our favorite memories from the weekend:


Beacon Hill and Cambridge

The beautiful faces we woke up to each morning

Cambridge and the Charles River

Beacon Hill Chocolates came highly recommended to us, and it was well worth the $3 bite-size chocolates. Trust me, it is worth the splurge.

The Holocaust Memorial

Samuel Adams Brewery


I couldn't post about Boston without giving you a list of some 'must-do' things around town. Our time there was short, so I know this list isn't exhaustive, but it is definitely worth your time if you venture up to the Northeast:

Caffe Vittoria - Coffee and gelato
Mike's Pastry Shop - Incredible cannoli in the North End
Holocaust Memorial - Incredibly sobering, but absolutely worth the visit
Clam chowder at Union Oyster House (America's oldest restuarant) - If you're lucky you can snag JFK's private booth!
Atomic Bean in Cambridge - We had breakfast sandwiches with mango and pineapple that were divine
Sibling Rivalry - Dueling chefs use the same ingredients, but have created separate menus
Sam Adams Brewery - best brewery tour I've ever been on. Funny, informative, and awesome samples
Harvard Square/Charles River


Happy traveling!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

3 Things to Know Before You Book Your Travel Plans


Traveling is something we all want to do, but the finances of it all can keep us from seeing the most beautiful places the world has to offer. When planning your next trip, think about these 3 things before you book. It might save you more money than you realize.

1. When thinking about where you want to go and what you want to do, its important to know your own travel style and expectations. Ask yourself these questions:
  • How comfortable do you want to be? A hostel might be a cheap option and put you in the middle of town, but a hotel might offer more peace and quiet as well as your own space. Both options are great, and will come down to your own style and expectations.
  • How cheap do you want to be? Prioritize your needs, and weigh out which items you'd be willing to spend more or less money on. If you're going to Italy, nice food might be a part of your trip, but it also might be the most expensive. But if you're going to Sri Lanka or Tunisia, you may opt for PB&Js each day, and decide to spend money on more tourist attractions or nice lodging. Regardless of your preference, it is important to decide how you want to allocate your money.
  • What is the goal of your trip? If your goal is to spend time with someone, consider booking less activities and leave room for more downtime together. If your goal is to experience a new culture, then you might be more open to the local food, staying in different types of establishments, or connecting with people from that area.

Knowing your own style and expectations will keep you from getting side-tracked throughout the trip planning process, and will ensure that each leg of your trip is exactly what you want it to be. And who knows, it might even save you some money!

2. Look at the cheapest times of the year to visit. Ireland might be cheapest in the winter, but 35 degree days might not be your first choice when booking a vacation. But checking year-round weather might help you find a specific month within the "cheap" range that has warmer/cooler temperatures. Dublin in April might offer you the same cost benefit as would January, but the weather might be 25 degrees warmer. Doing a little research can be easy, and save you 50% on the plane ticket price tag.

3. How to decide on a price (for everything). There are many things to consider when finding the best price, and I admit that some of them can be time-consuming. Here are a few takeaways that I've found to be the most beneficial in my travels that are relatively easy to manage:
  • Consider booking individual legs rather than round-trip flights. Sometimes individual legs offer you a cheaper price, but they also might allow you to see more than you might have seen if you had to travel back to your starting point. So check both options to be sure you're getting the most bang for your buck. *Also check local or smaller airlines as well. They might not be as comfortable, but the money they save you could be put towards somethings more memorable or worthwhile.
  • Book your plane tickets at least 6 weeks out for the best deal. Occasionally you can find cheap rates the week before an excursion, but the planning for and getting excited about your trip is part of the fun (even research agrees). Booking later might mean a spike in prices, fewer options, or unmet expectations. Also keep in mind that if a ticket goes on sale later, you can always buy the cheaper ticket and return your original one. *Places like kayak.com and orbitz.com both allow you to set alerts for when tickets go below a certain price. Using tools like this save time, and also help save you money.
  • Always ask for a deal. Find a way to emotionally connect with whoever you're working with, and be genuine about your excitement over the trip or seeing their city (because everyone takes pride in where they live). Letting the hotel concierge know that this is for your anniversary and you're hoping to do something special for your significant other might get you further than you realize. Being condescending or negative will not. If there isn't a deal that they can give you, ask for a price match. The worst they could say is no.

Although this is not an exhaustive list of everything you can do to maximize efficiency, cost and happiness when you travel, it'll at least point you in the right direction.

Let me know if you find tools or strategies that work for you that I might have missed. There is not enough ink in my computer to type out all that is available, but I am always hoping to learn and grow my own process. Happy travels!





Monday, November 19, 2012

Grateful






Today, I am grateful. 


So I am making a great and noble attempt at being more thankful each and every day. In an effort not to miss a moment of life's beauty.




Saturday, November 3, 2012

Let Hope In

This is a blog post by Taylor Bashta that has been encouraging me this week. Mull it over and let me know what you think.


"Let hope Arise and make the darkness hide. My Faith is dead I need a resurrection somehow".


This has been a very controversial line in "Like a Lion". David Crowder sang the line at Passion, but several other worship guys have asked if they could change the line from "my faith is dead" to my "my faith is cold". Daniel said yes of course, if they feel like that line is better for where they are playing, then that is what is most important.

But I've been thinking about this very thing lately. Hope. And Faith.

Hope has become Daniel's anthem. It is written on his guitar. It is written on his arm.

It's the cry of our heart that through his music Hope will spring up!

There is something that I am hoping for in my life right now.

And I honestly struggle with letting hope in, because I fear disappointment. I fear pain.

When I start to feel the little flutters of hope, I shut them down, preferring to think "It probably won't happen" because then I'll be surprised if it does. That feels safe. But is that right? Sometimes my faith does feel dead.
Let Hope arise and MAKE the darkness hide. I like that idea better!

I was running last week and praying about all of this. D and I are attempting to train for the Nashville half marathon- we shall see. But I've had a lot of time to think as I run.

My conversation with God went something like this-
"God how do I let hope come in? I'm so afraid of being sad, disappointed, hurt, etc.! But I want to hope! I don't want the enemy to have any place in my heart or mind or emotions- I want your hope. But I'm scared." -sounds like a little girl- but it's how I felt.

I felt like he said this. Taylor, 

all you are responsible for is letting yourself hope- let it grow inside of you! Let faith arise, don't be afraid. And if it doesn't happen when you think it should- let me take care of your heart. Leave it to me".

Are you hoping for something? Take the risk and dare to hope. Let that faith spring up.

If the worst happens- God will take care of our hearts.

But somehow I think through hope- miracles are coming!




Thursday, November 1, 2012

I splurged.

I'm sorry y'all. I had to do it. 

I caved.

After a mere 24 hours of having the West Elm catalog in my hand,

I ordered this



But it was an emergency. Trust me.

And I was in love. And couldn't be talked down from the cliff.

I tried to get help, I really tried. But Ginny, Katie and Susan had no support to offer. 

And they caved with me.



And down we fell. 

Giddy, with hearts full of puppies and flowers and wood-burning fireplaces. Tumbling into beautiful West Elm oblivion. 

For reference, I googled "downward spiral" and this is what came up:


And that's about how hard I fell...

Lindsay Lohan hard.

Minus the drugs
alcohol
and
psycho-crazyness that is Lindsay Lohan.


West Elm, you have my whole heart. And I do not want it back.

Sincerely,
Your most faithful buyer