March 29, 2016

What's in my Suitcase: Costa Rica Edition


This is the first trip that I can safely say that I nailed it on the packing front. I used all but ONE THING in my suitcase. I packed 3 dresses and only wore 2 (one was the swimsuit cover up below.) Now that I'm clearly an expert, I'm sharing the must haves. (There are affiliate links in this post if you decide to click around.)


What's in my Suitcase: Costa Rica Edition

1. Comfortable swimsuit. The one shown above is now sold out, but here's the other one I was looking at. I might still go back and buy them. I am a big fan of the one piece because I'm fairly conservative when it comes to skin shown, plus I'm so pale and burn in seconds. Plus, when I'm playing in the ocean, the last thing I want to worry about is my top coming off. You're welcome fellow beach mates.

2. Cheap sunglasses. I break every nice pair of sunglasses that I buy, so cheap wins now. Faded Days is a website with so many awesome colors and styles and they are affordable. We also bought a few of these ones because they are polarized and have a few different sizes. I don't think you can ever have enough neon wayfarers... so, jump on board.

3. A Polaroid Camera. I have this one which I love and we sent everyone home with lots of souvenirs photos. I recently got to play around with this one and I love it too - you can do a photo strip (4 photos at one time) or regular, plus it has 3 different color settings and the photos print out on stickers.

4. A good beach hat. Something like this super floppy one or more of a fedora style. A hat is a must for me to help me block the sun.

5. Insect Repellant. I don't know if you've read about the Zika virus, but Costa Rica is on the list. The Pacific coast is more of a desert environment, so I don't think we saw more than 2-3 mosquitos the whole time, but it's better safe than sorry. Plus, I didn't see bug spray in any of the little stores we stopped into.

6. Flip flops. I feel like this is a given.

7. A beach bag. You have to carry all essentials to the beach - including drinks, magazines, snacks and sunscreen. This is also your excuse to have a brightly colored bag. I didn't buy a new one, but I have kept this colorful one on my wishlist... I might need to own it for summer time. Or if you like the one above, you can find it here.

8. Good books. I didn't read quite as much as I thought I would, but I finished two books while there (including the plane rides.)

9. A comfortable beach dress/cover-up. I cannot say enough good things about this one. I wore it almost every day - don't worry, we had laundry where we stayed. It was loose, comfortable and perfect for beach to restaurant.

10. Floaties. No, this is not a necessity, but it definitely made our trip more entertaining. I'm obsessed with my new flamingo friend. I found out that Target sells these now too and they have food objects, other animals, so many options. You can see more pictures of them in action in my first recap.

11. A giant beach towel. I like having bright colored ones that are easy to spot. Here is a flamingo towel if that's your thing (it's definitely my thing.) I love the ban.do towels and accessories too.

12. SUNSCREEN. This is the most important thing for everyone. Sun Bum and Bare Republic are my favorite brands, but just buy some and use it.

All this talk of beach things make me want to fly far away right now. Summer is approaching and I can't wait!!! Tell me - what am I missing for a beach trip?

March 23, 2016

Video Recap of Iceland


My goal is finishing projects that I have already started. We went to Iceland last May and I had all the video clips from the trip in a folder on my desktop - I finally put them all together. It's amazing looking back on these clips. Iceland was the most beautiful place we have ever visited - the landscapes change so rapidly and are like nothing we have around home.



I'll leave you with a few more photos. Also, if you're interested in more of our Iceland trip, check out these posts:

Top 3 from IcelandReykjanes PeninsulaGolden Circle DriveSouthwest Coast of IcelandNorth Iceland Part 1 and Part 2Christmas Garden PitstopVikOur Road Trip Detour and the Wild, Wild East Coast







It just makes me so happy looking at these pictures and remembering the beauty of that drive. What is the greatest drive you've ever made?

March 22, 2016

3 Goals for Spring


The beginning of Spring feels a little like New Year's for me. Everything is fresh and new. All the hours you've spent binge watching Netflix have been fantastic, but I'm ready for some outdoor fun.

I'm still in the process of getting my mind back together after some travels, the flu and then an unexpected trip home last weekend for a funeral. If I've learned anything the last few weeks, it's that being healthy has to be at the top of my priorities and that life can be painfully short, so you must take advantage of every day and live it.

1. Get Outside. I want to try some new hiking trails, explore parts of the city I haven't seen yet, and just enjoy being outside. Growing up in Minnesota, I barely knew what spring was. It would warm up and then snow weekly until May. That isn't true in Jersey, things get gradually warmer, the flowers bloom and it's absolutely wonderful. I'm determined to make the most out of it this year.

2. Clean. It's the season of spring cleaning, which I love and hate at the same time. There are certain chores I could do without, but I love decluttering. We just dropped off three huge bags of clothes and I'm ready to dive into some of our "junk" drawers and other places. I need a little more organization when it comes to work stuff too so I'm focused on that.

3. Finish Up. I'm embarrassed at how many things I haven't finished over the last few months. I have videos to put together (still from Iceland), photo books from the last two years, candles to make, blog posts to finish writing, Spanish classes to make progress on. I'm focusing on the things I've already started so I can clear them off the list. With more daylight in the evenings now, it's a little easier to sit down and work on stuff without the TV on. I will conquer the pile of stuff.

So what about you? Do you have any spring goals? Have you already cleaned?

March 17, 2016

#forthekids

Growing up in the Como Park neighborhood of Saint Paul was a gift I will forever be grateful to my parents for. I'm reminded of this any time I walk into Target and run into at least 5 people. I'm reminded whenever I drive through the streets that I grew up riding my bike on or rocking my awesome rollerblades. I was definitely reminded when we shopped for our first house - it just had to be in Como Park.

But sadly, I'm reminded most when the neighborhood loses someone. The outpouring of love and support is just unbelievable.

Last Saturday night, an accident took the life of a 27 year old named George Paitich. He wasn't just a neighbor. Our families have spent the last 20 years celebrating holidays together, going to hockey tournaments, hanging out at booyas, meat raffles, graduation parties and Sunday morning brunches. They are family to us.

Tomorrow morning, I'm heading back to my old neighborhood to hug my parents and my brother and his family. It's been hard to wrap my head around this all week, but people have been sharing some pretty wonderful things about George. As I've been reading all the comments from people about George, I'm reminded of these words.

I wanna do something that matters
Say something different
Something that sets the whole world on its ear
I wanna do something better
With the time I've been given
And I wanna try
To touch a few hearts in this life
Leave nothing less
Than something that says "I was here"

George made a difference in this world. He made a difference with the kids he taught and worked with, his friends, his family. He made a difference with his coworkers and neighbors. George believed in education and fixing the inequalities in our current system. He was so passionate about it. He shared his wins and his frustrations publicly and he didn't back down in his beliefs.

#forthekids

I hope he knew how much of an impact he had on the people around him. It seems incredibly unfair that a person like George can be gone at such a young age, but the best thing I can do is be a better person because I knew him. Everything he did for the kids he taught and the future generations and he used the hashtag below on everything he shared.
george_paitich

That hashtag is being shared on posts all over Facebook, signs around the city of St. Paul and there will even be a news story about George on Fox9 this week. So many people were impacted by this one life.

We all have a responsibility to be good people to those around us. You never know who you will make an impact on. George made an impact on so many people and this world is a better place because of him. Think about that this weekend and maybe go out and do something #forthekids

Life is short. Make sure to hug a little longer and love a little louder today.

http://www.willwerscheid.com/obituaries-2/425-george-w-paitich

March 9, 2016

The House on the Mountain: Costa Rica Memories

I wrote an entire post yesterday about squad goals and I referenced floating Flamingos. It's time to introduce to our 4 adopted flamingo friends and the inspiration behind our trip's hashtag - #gringoswithflamingos 

We had a group of 8. A hotel would have been expensive even before adding in meals out, so renting a house seemed like the perfect option. A friend of ours did the research and we ended up with a beautiful 4 bedroom, 5 bathroom house outside of Playa Potrero. 

We had beautiful views from atop our hill that definitely shined most at sunset. We were able to cook our own food for most meals and lounge in our flamingos in the pool. It saved us a fortune and was the most beautiful house. Plus, we had a couple that lived on site and we got to hang out with their pup during our pool days. There was a TV, but we only turned it on to watch the Grammy's. 

The flamingos can be found here and there are drink floats available as an add-on. We spent hours in them and we each brought ours home to be reunited in the future.




The dog that lived at the house was named Kappi - I'm guessing at the spelling. He was so sweet. Dogs are everywhere in Costa Rica. They run free and do whatever they want. Kappi was no different. He got used to us pretty quickly. He would take his walk down the road in the morning and come back by the time we were cooking breakfast. It was so nice for all of us dog owners to have a dog with us while we were there.



Also, my husband can successfully manage an epic photobomb.  The showstoppers were really the sunrises and sunsets. The sky did magical things. The quiet moments watching the light come and go - those were some of my favorites. Daylight in Costa Rica is consistent - sun up at 6 AM and sun down at 6 PM. You get used to it real quickly, but you don't ever tire of these colors.







If you are thinking about renting a house in Costa Rica, I'd be happy to give you the information for the company that we used. I would recommend this option so much. We had an absolute blast.

Mr. & Mrs. O

March 8, 2016

Finding Your Sweatpant Squad

I read this article about #squadgoals recently and it reminded me of this draft that I started over a year ago. I decided to return to it and rewrite it. The original post was the beginnings of a journey to start saying "yes" to everything and really put myself out there. I'm happy to say that I have an ending of sorts to that journey now.


Packing up your belongings and moving to a new place is stressful and frustrating, but once you get settled, things seem back to normal. At least for a little while. Eventually, you'll reach for your phone to call a friend to get happy hour and you'll realize that you live many states away and that happy hour will have to be via FaceTime.

My situation was a little less lonely than some, because I'm married, so I have a built in best friend with me in my new city. We spent weekends exploring New York City and the surrounding areas and for the first year, all seemed right. We had our close friends back home and we spoke to them as often as we could. People were planning visits and sending care packages.

Eventually, it starts to sink in. In order to make this feel like home, I needed a friend that I could call for a Tuesday night happy hour. That isn't as easy as it seems. I don't have an office filled with young professionals that want a new BFF. I don't have any acquaintances that are new to the area and looking for friends.

Instead, I have 2 dogs, a husband that isn't afraid to ask random neighbors for their phone number and a "yes" attitude. Also, patience.

The most frustrating thing is waiting. Adult friends don't happen overnight. You have to say hi to someone a few times, then comes the small talk, and then you can take the plunge and ask them to hang out. It's like dating all over again.

Now we've been here for 2 1/2 years and I'm happy to say that we have some awesome local friends.

We were able to hang out with a group of friends on Saturday. We had beers in the afternoon and then went home and ate pizza. I laughed so much that day. It seems so simple when reading it back, but I remember looking around the table a few times that day and feeling so grateful. Each time a new friend would arrive and we'd pull up a chair, it made me smile so big.

That evening, we had finished a few pizzas, popped a bottle of champagne and were beginning to debate the musical abilities of Justin Bieber - I realized that I had figured out what my "squad goals" are. Everyone is different. Mine are simple - pizza, sweat pants, pop culture debates and every couple of months - vacations with floating flamingos, 1000 piece puzzles or matching velour leggings.

While I think the word "squad" is a bit obnoxious, it is awesome knowing that I have some of the best squads in the world.

We have an amazing group of friends in Minnesota that we get to meet up with in some of the coolest places around the country (and now we've gone international as well.) These have been our best friends for years.

We also have friends here now that we can meet up with to try new restaurants, eat pizza in our sweat pants and discuss Bieber's latest single - even if it's a Tuesday.

Happy Tuesday everyone. Hug a friend today.

In related news, I saw the Bumble released a BFF section of their dating app. I'm so intrigued by this... please let me know if you've checked it out.

March 2, 2016

Currently...

I can hardly believe that two months have already gone by this year. March is usually a month that brings warmer weather, but we've had glimpses of that in February already. I'm just excited about the world starting to look a little less dead. Snow usually fixes that, but since our one blizzard - there hasn't been much. Enough about weather, here is what's happening currently.


Determined to get to the ski hill this weekend. It has been so warm this winter (most days) that we haven't had a chance to bust out our winter sports equipment. It has to happen at least once.

Reading Fates and Furies.

Watching Mighty Ducks movies. I love watching them at least once a year because nostalgia.

Practicing Spanish. After visiting Costa Rica, I realized how much I want to be able to speak at least a little Spanish. It's one of the 10 most used languages in the world - it can't hurt.

Cleaning out everything. Spring cleaning time is my favorite. The book, Spark Joy, came in the January PopSugar box and I'm reading it while continuing my tidying journey. We finished all clothes last night.

Eating Strawberries and Gouda cheese.

Happy that I finally got to hang out with Samantha. We had drinks and some food. We laughed and chatted. We didn't take a single photo, but we were too busy having fun.

Excited to use our new coffee maker. Our Keurig died on Sunday. It's a good thing because I hated using those K-cups - I love the earth. It was fine when it was just me drinking coffee, but that was a few years ago. Now, Justin & I both enjoy a cup or two in the morning. We have a shiny new coffee maker that makes full pots of coffee and I'm so excited to fire it up in the morning.

Behind on organizing videos and photos. I'm excited to share my Costa Rica photos, but I just haven't sat down and gone through them all yet.


Missing these party people. I spent a quarter of my last month with them. We will be reunited when two of them get married this summer and I can't wait.

Needing any recommendations on New Orleans. We are heading there for a weekend of fun with our super awesome friend, Katie. None of us have been there before. We usually do a ski weekend - last year was Lake Placid, NY and the year before was Smuggler's Notch, VT - but we are trying something new this year.

Hope a bunch of you made it to the polls today for Super Tuesday. Jersey doesn't play along until way later in the game, but I'm watching tonight to see what happens.

Also, because everyone seems to love these posts, I'm linking up with all kinds of people - click around. AnneKristin and Christy