What To Know Before Traveling To Cuba

Cuba has been a curiosity for most of my life.  It has been a restricted country for over half a century, who wouldn’t be curious?  It wasn’t until 2015 that US citizens got the okay to travel there and I have been trying to find my way in ever since.  At the end of January, I finally checked it off my list, and what a beautiful country it was.  Beautiful and yet, still curious.  Beneath all of what we are still learning of its history and politics is a deeper Cuba, with beautiful scenery and vibrant people, that I would love to return to. Prior to traveling, I did read up on travel sites and blogs to get an idea of what was in store for me, but I have to report that since travel from the US has been somewhat new, there’s a lot of outdated information that was out […]

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A Whirlwind 72 Hours in Finland

Norway, Denmark, and Sweden were all incredible countries with a lot to offer.  We decided to add one more country to top our Scandinavia trip off, and we were glad we did.  Finland was pretty amazing, and as draining as our whirlwind trip was, we felt we topped it all of on a high note.  With a limited amount of time there; we tried to cram as much as we could in a short time, but ended it on an amazing experience at one of the greatest Finnish traditions, the sauna. We were lucky enough to find a night cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki through Viking Line Cruises.  We set sail on the Gabriella Cruise ship, and got a private room (with private bathroom) for $104 total!  Our private room had 4 beds, so if you travel there with multiple people it is a steal.  Even with the 3 of […]

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A Tale of Two Hostels

During our trip to Scandinavia, my family and I were lucky enough to stay in a couple different types of lodgings and get different experiences in all the cities.  As we were planning the trip, we tried to find places close by the things we wanted to see or in an area we wanted to experience.  We also tried to keep in mind that food would be expensive and having an available kitchen may alleviate that expense.  We looked at a couple different places, and found we chose based on different things. In Oslo, we actually stayed in someone’s condo through AirBnB.  Here’s condo on the Oslo fjord was in a busy area, just by the Opera House.  Arctic Cabins in Vestvatn gave us a different experience where we were out in nature and removed from city lights to see the Aurora Borealis.  When it came to larger cities like Copenhagen and […]

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Products That Came in Handy in Scandinavia

With every trip, I think we all tend to hone down our pack list and really start to make sense of the travel essentials.  We picked up a couple new things on this trip that did make life a little easier on the road.  Because my family was traveling to a couple places in 4 different countries, it made for an interesting range of activities, terrain, and even weather.  To top that all off, we were also making it a point to pack as light as possible, being mindful of how much baggage we would have to travel around with.  This was our way to make it easier to make trains, airports, and transfers quick and painless. My husband and I both carried a backpack and a personal item.  We made sure that the backpack would fit the carry-on dimensions, so we wouldn’t have to check anything.  Evie carried her own […]

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Vacation Planning 101

If you haven’t guessed already from my Instagram account, I am in taking a little fall trip out to Scandinavia.  We will be in 4 different countries: Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.  The trip is mostly for my family (my husband, daughter, and I), but my parents will be joining us to Norway as they had never been before.  We are traveling by plane, car, train, and cruise boat to 6 different cities, so planning took some time and coordination. I have been talking to some friends about it recently who have been pretty shocked to hear the deals that we’ve found and the tips to travel when organizing for this vacation.  We’ve tried to do the bulk of the prep work early on, so I don’t remember all of details, but I can share with you what I thought were key things to my planning. FINDING A LOCATION So we knew […]

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5 of my Favorite Stops En Route to Yosemite

Last weekend, we were fortunate enough to get another yearly tradition squeezed into our busy month, a trip to Yosemite.  I know I’ve been spending so much time camping in October, but this trip was different.  After two weekends of backpacking, and as the park was going to have the first winter storm of the season, I was happy to glamp it up with a yurt.  Yurts are canvas structures; imagine a round cabin but instead of walls like we would normally see on cabins, its wrapped in canvas. Not only are we generally excited to spend a weekend in a yurt, but we are able to spend it at one of my favorite National Parks.  It still seems a little unreal that I am so close to it now, about 3-4 hours away.  A short drive from the hustle and bustle of the city is the amazing views and fresh air of […]

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My Struggle with Interior Design Sustainability

There’s something bothering me about my profession, and I don’t think I was able to really put it into words until I started considering what made some projects more difficult for me and what I would be looking for in my own space.  As an interior designer, my job is to outfit your home with a new look and an overall aesthetic.  I promote purchasing goods, making shopping lists for clients to create that look.  At this point in my own life, I struggle with purchasing things for my own home, however pretty it may be.  I actually purge regularly, removing things from my space and identify more with creating spacial efficiency.  This idea is almost the opposite of what is provided by some interior designers and how people identify what interior designers do. Photo of that one time I came dressed to match LA’s Pacific Design Center. I started considering […]

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Eating Around the Bay: 8 Places We Love to Show Off

August ended up being a pretty busy month for having visitors around.  Maybe it’s just a natural reaction to the fall season when we all need to get that one last vacation in.  Having just gone on vacation last month, and having some travel plans coming up, it’s nice to take some time to just stay home.  Luckily for us, staying around the Bay always feels like a pseudo vacation when we have company. I think in the matter of one month we had about 8 visitors!  Some have never been here, some used to live here, and some haven’t been here to visit in a couple years.  Whichever the case, I was glad to have all of them around to catch up with. Whenever a visitor comes around, we try to take them out to some of our favorite places to eat or drink, so I wanted to share […]

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5 Reasons to Celebrate the National Park Centennial

Can you believe that the National Parks turned 100 this year?  How crazy amazing that we even have these places of such unspoiled America to enjoy?  So, I know what you are thinking… “oh boy, Jamie, another post about National Parks?”  My answer is YES!  Since it is officially National Parks Week in America, I need to share some major things about the parks that you may or may not know. Balancing at Yosemite National Park at 3 years old. Celebrate the National Park’s Birthday with FREE ENTRANCE! Evie’s hike to the waterfalls at Olympic National Park. August 25th-28th is actually FREE for anyone who wants to go.  There’s actually a couple of free days for the NPS throughout the year but this weekend is special for the 2016 Centennial.  The fee waiver includes entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession […]

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Raising Kids to be Socially Conscious

Evie was about 1 year and 9 months when she first saw Black Lives Matter run through downtown Seattle on Black Friday. She was with us in a hotel lobby when we first saw news of the Baton Rouge shooting at 4 years old. It all seems like a little much for a little person to understand, but can you get in front of it all for them?  How can I as a parent keep open lines of communication for her to ask me about it without giving her more than what her little mind can take? There are many reasons that my husband and I support the Black Lives Matter movement.  This is NOT saying we don’t care about ‘All Lives…’ or even ‘Blue Lives…’, but that we understand there is a systemic injustice in the world and right now that has been around for a long time and it’s […]

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