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Runner’s High

May 14, 2012

I’ve never felt it.  Truthfully, the only time I like running is right before I go.  I always think, “maybe this will be the time!”  I hate running while I’m running, and I hate running after I run.  I hate focusing on my breathing and my stride.  I hate being sweaty and sore.  I hate running.

But, I LOVE running.  Why?  Because no matter what thoughts are going through my head, they disappear step by step.  I have had a LOT on my mind in the last month or so, and that’s really why I started running again.  Sure, I want (need) to get back into shape, especially now that I’m done with grad school.  I’ve really got nothing else to do when I get home at night anyways.  But its the freedom from my own mind that makes me love running.

That, and every time I head out the door, I think of this video.  It makes me love running that much more.



Long Overdue!

April 29, 2012

Well, I’m long overdue for a post about my trip to Ecuador – it was an amazing experience! Ecuador is a beautiful country with amazing people and a diverse landscape.  I’ll do a full run-down on the places we stayed and some of the things we did, but for now, I wanted to leave you a few pictures!


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Packing Success!

March 16, 2012

I have to say… the “rolling technique” tip from my earlier post was the winner for my packing!  I was able to fit the following into a 20-inch roll-aboard (for a 7 day trip):

  • 1 pair jeans (wearing a second pair on the plane)
  • 1 pair capris
  • 7 t-shirts
  • 3 tank tops
  • swim suit
  • 3 long sleeve shirts
  • toiletries – toothpaste/shampoo/conditioner/hair gel/sunscreen/bug stuff (all under 3 ounces!)
  • undergarments
  • socks
  • flip flops
  • 2 books
  • pajamas (shorts & t-shirt)
  • umbrella
  • collapsible shopping bag (I love to shop!)
  • winter hat & gloves
  • ankle brace(s) – I have HORRIBLE ankles, I never leave the country without my ankle braces in case I sprain one!
  • mini-first aid kit
  • 3 travel size kleenex packs
  • Tylenol PM – I never leave the country without this either – you never know when you’ll need a little help sleeping!

Like I wrote above, I’m counting a 2nd pair of jeans with the ones I’m wearing on the plane.  I’m also going to bring a fleece jacket with me on the plane – although it’s about 75 degrees here in Minneapolis, 80 degrees in Miami, and well over 85 degrees in the jungle, we will be high up in the Andes mountains for the majority of the trip, and it can get quite chilly at night (hence the hat & gloves!).

My “purse” for this trip is actually my new camera bag – the Lowepro Passport Sling.  I asked for this bag for Christmas after I lugged the tiny little camera bag that came with my Nikon D-SLR all over Kenya.  The bag itself was great for the camera… but nothing else!  My new Lowepro bag has an expandable area where I can actually carry my wallet/passport/snacks/reading materials.  What a novel concept!  I’ll report back on how it went with this bag when I get back!


Pre-Trip Planning

March 12, 2012

As I’m thinking about my upcoming trip, I’ve been thinking about my pre-trip rituals.  Although I travel pretty frequently, I get a little stressed out about my pre-trip ritual/planning every single time.  I mean, it shouldn’t be that hard – find passport, make a packing list, eat any perishable food, stop the mail. But I always feel like I’m forgetting something… does that happen to you?

Here are some tips/tricks I’ve been thinking about in the last few days while I get prepared to head to South America:

Pre-Trip Planning

  • Even if you are a regular traveler, it’s a good idea to know exactly what you can & can’t take with you in your carry-on and checked luggage.  I recommend bookmarking the TSA website and checking before every trip, since the prohibited items list can change frequently and without notice.  Did you know you CAN take disposable razors & cartridges with you in your carry-on?  I’m so glad I checked!  It would not have been a pretty moment in Miami if I hadn’t had a razor for a week (although a good hotel will have toiletry items available for guests either for free or a small fee).
  • I like to print out any itineraries (including flights & tours) and other trip documents and put them all together in a plastic sleeve and in the outside pocket of my suitcase.  This way I can always find my hotel’s address to emphatically point to when the cabby & I don’t speak the same language.  If you feel so inclined, include the address of the local embassy & any addresses for postcards to send too.
  • I make 2-3 copies of my passport – one to leave with a friend/family member, one to leave in my desk at work, and one to bring in my suitcase.  On recent trips, I’ve scanned my passport and emailed it to my web-based email (Hotmail, GMail, etc.) so I can access it if needed while I’m abroad.
  • I always make a point to check out currency exchange rates, but I rarely exchange any currency before I get to my destination – depending on your bank’s ATM fees, it is often cheaper to get cash that way than to get cash in advance or even use the currency exchange desk at the airport.

Stop the mail

Did you know you you can stop your mail online?  No need to go to the post office! Head over to the USPS website and submit the Hold Mail form.  This is an important part of leaving town – unless you have a great neighbor to take in your newspapers & mail, you’ll want to stop these services so any burglars that are scoping out easy targets don’t pick your house.  To that point, you might want to put a light or two on a timer so it looks like someone is home during evening hours – especially on longer trips.


My upcoming trip is a little tricky in the packing area.  I’m headed to Ecuador (with an extra day in Miami on the tail end), and the weather there is pretty varied (60’s & rainy in Quito, but 80+ & humid in the jungle!).  To add to that, we are aiming to do carry-on only for luggage because we have three flights each way (talk about a setup for lost luggage!).  To get some inspiration to make the carry-on work, I’ve found this slide show – “10 Days in a Carry-On” – by a flight attendant.  There are quite a few packing tips on Pinterest too (oh, Pinterest, I love thee!).  Seriously, Pinterest is the best thing that has happened to the internet since… the internet.  I love this infographic on how to pack just the essentials with pops of color & limited accessories.

This one shows you how to pack around a “core” of socks/undies (why haven’t I ever thought of this!?) and to wrap everything else around it.

I am always looking for packing tips (I never seem to pack the same way twice) – so please, send them my way!  I haven’t made my packing list yet for this trip, but I am looking forward to giving some of these tips a try.

Do you have any other pre-trip tips or rituals?  I probably am forgetting something (hopefully nothing too important – I always triple check for my camera and clean underwear!) – but as long as I have those and my passport, I figure I can buy whatever else is needed. 🙂

Photo Challenge: Day 27

February 27, 2012

This is “Something I ate today” – I ate one of these banana cupcakes after lunch.  I made them using what is supposedly the best banana cake recipe in the world (more on this later).


Photo Challenge: Days 24-26

February 26, 2012

This weekend was so stupid busy that right now is kind of the first chance I’ve had to sit down and read my e-mail, let alone put my photo-a-days up.  Grad school is a lot of work, yo.  Who knew?

The 24th was “In your bathroom cabinet.”  Nothing fancy here, just my awesome medicine cabinet which I’ve shared a picture of already (the outside, anyway).  It’s kind of embarassingly messy and disorganized.  Honestly, it’s probably the most disorganized thing in my apartment and here I am, putting it up on the internet for everyone to see.

The 25th was “green” and there was a lot to choose from that day.  Pittsburgh is surprisingly green in the winter.  I’m not sure what kind of tree this is but I really love the pattern on the bark and the subtle green tones.

The 26th is “Night” and this is a shot of the Wellington, a former hotel turned apartment building close to campus.  It’s a really beautiful building, especially that neat entryway with all the wrought iron and globe lights out front.

Photo Challenge: Day 23

February 23, 2012

Today’s photo is “your shoes.”  I am wearing black ballet flats from the Gap.  I am at Hillman Library where I should be working on my internship project or doing some reading but instead I am taking pictures of my feet.  Oh well.