Personal: My Weekly Goals

January 27, 2015

Illustration by Becky Murphy

Illustration via Becky Murphy

Hello! It’s been a while. January has been kicking my ass in the worst way. I feel like I’m constantly playing catch up and never quite finishing my to-do list. Work hasn’t been favorable as of late, but I’m trying to make the best of it and do what I can to stay on top of it. I’ve also not written as much as I set out to in the new year, and, well, that’s okay. I finally started understanding this whole “be kind to yourself” thing people keep talking about. It’s so important! Since this is the last week of January (and hopefully things will start looking up in February), I’ve decided to make a couple of weekly goals (Inspired by The Nectar Collective!). It’s a slow week so I’m hoping to catch up on the remainder of my to-do list and start February from scratch. Wish me luck!

One cool thing did happen today though! SaportaReport interviewed me about my PIE zine and my pie challenge. Check it out! Also, I booked tickets to Seattle! So I get to check off one of my 2015 destinations.

MY GOALS FOR THIS WEEK

  1. Clean my closet. This one has been on my to-do list since January 1. I even have the clothes divided into piles! I’m hoping to donate/sell everything by Thursday.
  2. Make one post about Iceland. I finally went through all of my Iceland pictures over the Christmas break. Look for a post on Reykjavik later this week!
  3. Finish my two website projects. I have two ongoing freelance website projects right now and I’m so close to being finished. Hoping to knock those out by the end of the week as well.
  4. Go to yoga once. I made a monthly goal to take a yoga class once a week during January. I failed so hard! So maybe I can at least make it during the last week of the month.

P.S. The image above is Becky Murphy’s amazing work. I have one of her prints over my desk and I love it.

What are you looking forward to this week? Are you wishing for snow too?

Pies: An Essay on Smoking Pies

January 7, 2015

Late last year, Everyday Genius published my essay, “Smoking a Pie and Other Pie Challenges.” It includes a few thoughts on my 50-pie challenge, a little wisdom from an 89-year-old friend and how to smoke a pie. I even included the recipe for my Black Cherry Habanero pie! It’s a good one! Read it here.

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Black Cherry Habanero Pie 24/50

 

 

Travel: San Francisco via iPhone

January 6, 2015

Happy New Year! I wanted to start the year off with a few photos from my San Francisco trip over Christmas break. We had sunny weather, perfect temperatures (hello 60’s!) and not a lot of tourists. Amazing, right? My mom and I just wandered around the city, people watched and ate everything in sight. We stayed near Chinatown at the Hotel Triton. The staff was so friendly! They had hot apple cider available at all times. Definitely a plus!

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Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

 

Chinatown

Chinatown

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Street art around the city – My favorite thing about traveling

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Castro District + sunflowers

 

Architecture

These pictures were taken on December 2014.

 

Pies: Pie Zine Now on Sale!

December 14, 2014

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For the final phase of my ‪#‎muriels50pies‬ project, I collected illustrations, anecdotes, essays, poems + recipes from ladies around the country and compiled them into a zine. It even includes a new pie chart from writer Ann Friedman! The cover design is by the wonderful Sunny Eckerle from White Elk.

The zine shop is now live with the first 50 limited-edition zines. All proceeds go to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. SOLD OUT! Over $500 raised!!

I have a few second-edition copies left for purchase. You can buy it here!

Travel: Pre-Travel Checklist

December 5, 2014

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Whether you’re taking advantage of your last hours of vacation time or visiting family, these pre-travel tips will help you get ready for your trip and avoid those last minute freak outs.

Currently, our economy is all about sharing and I’m a big fan of Airbnb when traveling and even Instacart and Uber when I’m at home. RelayRides gives you the chance to rent someone’s car when you’re traveling, a great option without having to deal with those sleazy rental companies or relying on friends. They now offer airport car rentals as well. I’ll tell you about the worst experience we had with a car rental company some other time, it involves a blizzard and stolen money. It was a doozy.

Anyways! We are big fans of pre-travel checklists. After we decide on a destination and book our plane tickets, we put our list together and start researching. When you’re abroad, the last thing you want to do is spend time trying to find adequate lodging, transportation or other time-consuming tasks.  Here are five things to keep in mind after you’ve booked your plane tickets.

1 | Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months and you have enough pages. Back in 2010, I forgot to look at it and I realized I didn’t have enough pages about 2 months before we left for Norway. While it worked out okay that time, just make sure you’re all squared away right after you book your plane tickets. Of course, double-check that you don’t need any visas before visiting the country. Sometimes they can be acquired at the airport, but other times, they must acquired before you leave. Visa HQ can help you with that.

2 | Lodging

After we make our tentative itinerary and we know what cities we want to go to, we look into lodging. Our number one choice is always Airbnb since we get access to a kitchen and that’s an instant money saver. Also, I love checking out grocery stores in other countries! If that doesn’t work out, I check out Hotwire and Agoda for cheap accommodations. If we want to experience something specific like a ryokan in Japan, then we go to specialized websites for that. We book our lodging about 2 months after we book our plane tickets. Print out the confirmations + contact info and put them in a folder to take with you.

3 | Transportation

Atlanta is infamous for its traffic. I hate driving for the most part, unless it’s a road trip. Most of the time when we travel, we rely on public transportation. Look into city passes, tourism boards and tourists discounts to save money on transportation. If we must drive, then we check out local rental companies when abroad or if we are traveling domestic, we use RelayRides. It’s easy to use and it works similarly to Airbnb. You’re renting a car from a car owner instead of a company. All you do is find the car you want, rent it, wait for confirmation and pick it up. Then, drop it off at the end of the trip. Same as a rental company, but without all of the hassle.

4 | Activities 

The first thing I do when we decide where to go is buy my copy of Lonely Planet. I love using their books as a complement to my internet research. I also find the forums at Lonely Planet and Frommer’s incredibly useful. People post their past trip itineraries, you get to ask questions to people who have traveled there and sometimes, you even find a cool secret spot or two at the destination.

5 | Money

Before you leave, find out if your destination is credit card-friendly. Countries like Japan and the Netherlands are cash-driven countries for the most part. We normally consult our banks to find out their currency exchange rate before we leave. Sometimes we get a better deal if we order the money from our bank and just take it with us. Also, remember to let your bank know about your travel plans. Here’s another tip: When abroad, always use ATMs to withdraw money. They usually have a better exchange rate than kiosks and you can get as much as you want with no minimums and a lower transaction fee. 

Thanks to RelayRides for the opportunity and reaching out! Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and download their easy-to-use iPhone app.

What’s on your pre-travel checklist? Any other tips?

Travel: Where do you want to go in 2015?

November 10, 2014

2014 was an awesome year for travel. We went to Hawai’i, Nashville, Chicago, Amsterdam and Iceland. I was able to fit in a weekend in NYC with my ladies and I have a trip to San Francisco scheduled for December with my mom. 2015 is not going to be as travel-oriented, but we are still hoping to get out of ATL a few times throughout the year. I’ll know more once Alex graduates from his programming bootcamp in March. Inspired by Stephanie’s Twenty-Something Travel post, here are the places I hope to go in 2015.

Seattle

Seattle has been on my mind for a while now. We tried to head west earlier this year, but time and money didn’t allow for it. We are planning to head over there sometime in the spring to explore for a long weekend.

Likelihood: Definite

Peru

Machu Picchu Peru photo tour ron rosenstock

The land of llamas and Machu Picchu! I’ve been planning a trip to Peru with one of my friends for a few months now. We are hoping to head over there sometime in the late spring/early summer with our dudes and do the hike to Machu Picchu, among other things. For once, we are trying to stay away from the Top 5 most expensive countries in the world (We did Norway, Japan and Iceland back to back, EEK) and save some money by traveling to South America. There might be a stop in Panama for Alex to visit the motherland on the way there.

Likelihood: Definite

Denmark

Norwegian Air and WOW air are killing it lately with their amazing European fares to Scandinavia. Seriously, $400RT?! YES PLEASE. Ever since I went to Norway, I’ve been in love with the whole area. I want to ride a bike around Copenhagen and explore. We also have a friend that has family there, so that would be a great way to save on accommodation.

Likelihood: Good

Turkey

Those Cappadocia pictures are everywhere these days. Christine went to Turkey this past summer and I’ve been building a Pinterest board about it ever since. I had plans to visit one of my friends over there, but I’m not sure if it’s still happening. It may or may not. But once we get settled with other life things next year, we are definitely heading over there. I need that sunrise air balloon ride!

Likelihood: Slim

Where do you want to go in 2015? Any dream destinations?

Pies: Apple Cider Apple Pie

November 3, 2014

Scoutmob asked me to come up with an ALL LOCAL pie for their blog. I went to the Farmer’s Market near my house a few weeks ago and picked all of the ingredients, including an unrelated snack or two of course. So, I wrote up my first pie recipe from scratch! I present to you, pie #34: Apple Cider Apple Pie with an asiago cheese crust. YUM. You can read more about it here.

Download the recipe here. Happy baking!

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Travel: A weekend in Chicago

October 17, 2014

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Before we left for Europe, I was navigating airfares as usual (can’t stop! won’t stop!) and I found some killer fares to Chicago. I jumped on them since I’ve been aching to visit my BFF Emily for a while and we hadn’t gone back since February 2013. This is our last hurrah together for a while, as Alex starts school soon (eek!), but I might have a solo trip or two up my sleeve. We’ll see if things pan out. ANYWAYS, the fall season (my favorite time of the year!) is in full swing here in ATL and of course, in Chicago. We took advantage of the lovely weather in the windy city to walk around, eat everything in sight and go apple picking in the ‘burbs. We’ve already been there before so we didn’t do any touristy things this time around. It was the best weekend. Coming up next, more Amsterdam and Iceland posts with a few pie-related things in between!

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Lewis was such a cuddle bug

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Awesome decor at Beercade — loved this Charlie’s Angels wall over one of the bars.

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A visit to the All Seasons Apple Orchards

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My favorite lady. She climbed a tree while we there!

My favorite lady. She climbed a tree while we there!

These guys are my rocks. Seriously.

These guys are my rocks. Seriously.

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Apple picking!

Apple picking!

Giordano's Chicago Style Pizza -- YUM

Giordano’s Chicago Style Pizza — YUM

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One last pie slice — apple cider pie — from Bang Bang Pie Shop

DO //

  • All Seasons Orchards for apple picking, pumpkin patch and apple cider donuts
  • Beercade  for free pinball games, good selection of beer and some badass decor

EAT //

  • Yolk for brunch
  • Four Belly for Asian fusion food and delicious ramen
  • Kuma’s Corner (W Belmont Ave) for metal music and giant burgers
  • Giordano’s for deep dish pizza and chill atmosphere
  • Bang Bang Pie Shop for a slice of pie with a cup of joe

DRINK //

  • Hopleaf Bar (awesome beer selection, try the beer mussels!)

These pictures were taken in October 2014