California 2017

We got home Friday from our trip to Northern California. We visited Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Napa, Bodega Bay, Sausalito, and San Francisco. Since this was our second full trip to the area, there were things we didn’t do this time that we did previously. At a later date, I’ll provide our recommendations for activities, lodging, and restaurants when planning your own trip. Today, I thought I’d share some of the highlights from our vacation.

For all of the Snoopy fans out there, the Charles MSchulz Museum is a must. This was our second visit, and Ryan enjoyed every second of it. The museum provides a better understanding of Charles and his techniques. The museum is like an art gallery in many ways, and it’s a wonderful place to appreciate Schulz’s talent. After visiting the museum, you must check out the ice rink and gift shop.

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Although we aren’t wine drinkers, we appreciate the beauty of Napa. On our last trip, we climbed aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train. The train is a great way to experience Napa in its entirety. We wanted a closer look this time, so we decided to visit Castello di Amorosa. You can tour the castle, enjoy the tasting room, learn about their process, and walk the beautifully landscaped grounds.

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I think one of my favorite activities this time was visiting the San Francisco Zoo. Not only is it a great way to get your steps in, but the zoo is beautiful. The grounds are very pretty, and they have a variety of animals. I don’t think you are ever too old to enjoy the wonders of the zoo.

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We decided to walk a portion of Golden Gate Bridge, something neither of us had done before. Although it was very windy, it was a great walk with spectacular views. Construction of the bridge started in 1933, and several men lost their lives building this suspension bridge. The only complaint I would have about visiting this famous landmark is the tourists on bikes. Many people ride across the bridge instead of walking it. Long rant short, these people need to learn how to ride a bike and stay in their lane. Rant over. Ryan captured some really beautiful photos, see below.

 

We had a great time, and I hope you enjoy the photos. Stay tuned for our recommendations and another room reveal!

Travel: Prep & Packing

Ryan and I will be going on vacation this month, and we can’t wait to get away. We both are much happier when we take the time to totally disconnect from our usual life. In the spirit of vacation, I thought I’d share some travel tips.

We plan our vacation destinations years in advance, and we focus on the details of each about twelve months before we actually go. For example, we already know we are going to Hawaii in October of 2018. So we will start planning that trip in October or November of this year. We probably take planning to the next level, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Ryan and I actually create an excel spreadsheet for each trip. A spreadsheet typically includes: meals, activities, estimated costs, apparel, lodging, and transportation. By doing this, we maximize our time and avoid a debate about where to eat. I’ve included a spreadsheet from a few years back as an example.

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By creating this spreadsheet, we also have an idea of how much to save for the trip. Some of you may be thinking this is crazy, and I’ve heard it before. I promise you this makes a world of difference. We do allow for flexibility though, because one night we may not be in the mood for pizza. We can always change it, and we can access the spreadsheet anytime with our Dropbox app.

We both are now pretty OCD about packing as well. I used to bring way too much stuff, but I’ve learned that I don’t really need much depending on the destination. We typically each bring a backpack and one larger bag that we share. Here are ten tips I hope help you the next time you travel.

  1. Each person should have a backpack that includes their identification, boarding pass, Ziploc bag of liquids, forms of entertainment, phone, and at least one outfit. The outfit is a lifesaver if your luggage is lost or delayed. If you bring a purse, throw it in the backpack.
  2. Pack a collapsible bag for souvenirs. We have this one from Tommy Bahama, and it works perfectly. By thinking ahead, you save yourself a headache later. TB bag
  3. Roll your clothes instead of folding them. I won’t roll a bulky sweater or jacket.
  4. I started using packing cubes this year, and I swear by them. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. I use the smallest one for undergarments and tanks. I use the medium size for my shirts. Since I have a set of three, I use the larger size for bottoms and dresses. You can get these on Amazon or at Container Store. travel
  5. Bring an extra pair of socks and underwear.
  6. Pack a large Ziploc bag for swimsuits.
  7. Weigh your bag before you leave the house to ensure you won’t have a problem at the airport.
  8. Ladies, I recommend using a toiletry bag that hangs on a door. You can purchase one just about anywhere, but I have a Vera Bradley one that I’ve been using for years. I also keep mine stocked with the basics, which makes packing easier and faster.
  9. You can purchase travel size straighteners and curlers. I typically skip the blow dryer.
  10. Print out a checklist of some sort to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything, and we recommend packing a few days prior to leaving.

 

I typically start filling our bag with my packing cubes. I then add smaller items (heating tools, hats, etc.) along the sides or in-between so that I don’t waste space. I place anything bulky on the top of my cubes, and I finish it off with shoes. I put the shoes in with bottoms facing up, because I don’t want those germs on my stuff. Any other items will be packed in the compartments of our luggage, like the side and front pockets.

So that’s how we get ready for a trip. Do you have a packing tip of your own? Share it below. Check back next Monday, because I’ll be revealing another room. Happy travels!

Hawaii

We are juggling renovations right now and trying to lock in a contractor for the big project. So I thought I’d take a moment to talk about my favorite place in the world, Hawaii!

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Why do I love Hawaii? I love the islands for their culture, lifestyle, and appreciation of beauty. I feel at one with the planet and myself when I’m in Hawaii. Life slows down and real things matter. I probably can’t explain the feeling, but I can share with you some of my favorite places and things in Maui.

  1. If you love whales like I do, you need to walk along the Kapalua Coastal Trail on Maui. It’s an easy walk and provides breathtaking views. It also happened to be a great spot for spotting whales when we went last year.

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  1. Breakfast is delicious, so I can’t choose one place. My two favorites are Koa’s in Lahaina & The Seahouse in the Napili area. Both have killer Loco Moco dishes and gorgeous views.
  2. There is a weekly craft show at The Westin Ocean Resort Villas, and it features a variety of talented local artists. I enjoy learning about the artists and admiring their work.
  3. It’s hard to choose a favorite beach. I will say my favorites tend to be along the Road to Hana & beyond.

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4. Although this one isn’t in Maui, I visit the island of Lanai when I’m in Maui. The Lanai Cat Santuary is probably my favorite place! It’s home to over 400 cats, and the volunteers/staff are amazing. I’ll stay as long as they will let me, and I hope they’ll hire me when I retire.

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5. While on Lanai, I also visit Mike Carroll’s art gallery. His artwork brings Hawaii home for me, literally. I have many of his paintings throughout the house.

6. Another favorite is Hawaiian shaved ice. Passion fruit, strawberry, mango, and coconut are just a few flavors. There’s nothing like enjoying a frozen treat while sitting on the beach.

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I can’t wait to share photos from our upcoming trip. Stay tuned. I’ll have lots to share soon.