Desktop Organization

It had never once occurred to me to “organize” my desktop.

Sure, I purge every now and again, search, find, and lose – but never have I really organized this space that I use every day, all day long.  I just hadn’t put much thought into it.  Until I came across Iheartplanners, a blog dedicated to all sorts of organizational tips and tricks – and this post about desktop organization graphics.

Her blog got me all sorts of excited about how to maximize my own desktop space and viola, twenty minutes of Power Point later my desktop is as gorgeous as that desk calendar I’m still searching for.  Have you found an adorable, affordable, date neutral option?

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Feel free to use any of my desktop graphics, or make your own using the “Format Background” tool in Power Point.

Desktop Graphic, Purple:

Desktop Graphic - Purple

Desktop Graphic, Green:

Desktop Graphic - GreenDesktop Graphic, Gray:

Desktop Graphic - Gray

Other organization blogs I like include:

Dear Gentlemen, it’s too bad about this whole feminism thing

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I stumbled upon a sad little blog the other day full of angry little trolls huffing and puffing that white men had become the marginalized minority, discriminated against, marginalized, and silenced. Between the venomous lines of hate, I read quite loudly the longing these men shared to return to the “good old days” of masculine power and white privilege.

I couldn’t help but want to scream, “You chose this! You gave your power away; you squandered it with violence, war, greed, and tyranny.”

The problem is, gentlemen, that the men who came before you destroyed the status quo you loved so much; they proved that you are not to be trusted with power.

For centuries, we gave you a pretty good deal: at home your woman provided three hots and a cot (made up with linens hand-washed, starched, and embroidered with dainty flowers as symbols of our devotion) and the great privilege that comes with assumed male superiority, and all you had to do was foot the bill and not behave like neanderthals.  But, too many of your brothers and fathers took advantage of these Sevres handcuffs. You left bellies empty, black-eyed wives,  and wounded young bread winners on the battlefield of pointless wars, and so we got fed up.

We warned you with small actions like Abigail Adams’ letter where she urged our newly formed Congress:

“I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

But, you gentleman refused to listen. You refused to concede your complete rule over female education, bodies, finances, suffrage, and sexuality and so we warned you again, louder, refusing to be quieted until full rights of citizenship were granted.

But, still, you refused to recognize our inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You attempted to block our access to effective birth control, to reduce our income through unfair wages, and to pass insulting laws and laughable sentencing guidelines against sexual predators and domestic abusers. And so again, we expressed our displeasure, burned our bras, marched in the streets, and reminded you to keep the promises of our founding fathers. Instead, you patted us on the head and gave us Cosmopolitan Magazine and Roe vs. Wade, but you didn’t listen.

That’s okay. We don’t need you to listen. Because quietly, behind your backs, we decided to take matters into our own hands. We started to make things happen, one college degree, one Tupperware party, and one pink-collar promotion at a time.

We became doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and politicians – in spite of your tush pinching, bra snapping, subtle discrimination of low expectations.

We earned spots in your armed forces, even though sexual violence against our female troops was routinely used to humiliate, degrade, and marginalize those who tried.

We bought trucks, guns, groceries, houses, and tickets to NFL games – and you listened to our dollars, even when our words were silenced.

We shaved our legs, or not, on our own wims, and many of you started a little manscaping of your own.

And then one day, after ignoring our requests for millenia you looked around and realized that the laws of physics you’d enjoyed so much, had changed. White men no longer controlled the conversation simply by nature of less inky melatonin and the existence of your dangling participles. You’ve now arrived at the day where you have no choice but to listen to the women who surround you.

You report to us, appeal to us for leniency when you run stop signs, and pay $29 per month simply hoping one of us will decide not to swipe left on your selfies.

Oops! Sucks to be a late adopter then find out the price went up, doesn’t it?

Into Everyone’s Life A Little Motivation Will Fall

Six hours

I have six hours until I need to be on a flight to the UK, followed by three days “on”, a day to fly home, two days of laundry, groceries, and prep then four days in Chicago, five days in Rome, and one week home. Then it’s on to one week in New York, a long weekend in Louisville, a few days of baseball practice, birthday parties, and laundry, a week in Dusseldorf, a week at home … two weeks in Eastern Europe. Then, finally, I’ll get a nice long six week break before I start it all up again.

I’ll earn this year’s Gold Medallion status in just one quarter of work travel.  But, today, I just can’t seem to must two f*cks to give. 

I love my job. I love to travel. I love to pack, and head out on a great adventure.  But sometimes, I love to sit on my bed, with a nice glass of Pinot, and watch Keeping Up With Kardashians.  And, until July – there will be no time for such luxury.

So, right now, instead of going to get the mani-pedi I desperately need, or packing up my still empty suitcase, or tackling the laundry mountain that is threatening to swallow me whole, I am wallowing. I’m still in last night’s T-shirt, snuggled under the covers, too pre-emptively tired to even reach across the bed for the remote control, and Pinteresting packing ideas (as if that will magically fill my suitcase with clothes).

For those who’ve never experienced it, pre-emptive exhaustion is the practice of being exhausted not by what you’ve done, but by what you’re preparing to do. I haven’t yet flown for 15 hours straight, haggled to get a trunk full of sample merchandise through customs, and then been charming and “on” for four days of double-face-kisses and global sales dominance, before washing, rinsing, and repeating in another city, another W hotel. But, I know it’s coming, and right now, just the thought of it is more than I can handle – exacerbated by the fact that following her performance review, the world’s worst assistant quit, with no notice, and an inbox full of To Do’s.

Damn, I wish the liquor store opened before 11:30, it’s the perfect Pinot-and-Kardashians kind of morning.

I

One Day in Rome

The thing which never happens, has happened! On my upcoming trip to Italy I will have 24 full, unscheduled hours – all to myself.

No colleagues to entertain

No meetings to attend

No children to attend to

Just me, my map, and an ungodly amount of Frascati

I’ve visited Rome before, years ago, and after two weeks in Venice, Sienna, Cinque Terre, Bologna, and Florence I found it a sore disappointment: dirty, crowded, and overrun with tourists too lazy to do more than visit the big ten greatest hits.

But, Rome is the Eternal City for a reason. With a history that spans nearly 3,000 years Rome is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. Rome is commonly considered the birthplace of western civilization and was the capital city for the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.

So, yeah, I get that it is important … but so is Detroit; I don’t exactly want to visit every Christmas.

In fact, I’ve always kind of considered Rome the Italian city that tourists visit when they don’t really take their time to research the beauty that is Italy (hence the endless brigade of tourists marching nose-to-tail behind a flag wielding tour guide).

As for my interests, want amazing ruins, visit Turino, want breathtaking chapels – Venice, and don’t forget the art, culture, and food that is Florence!

However, I recognize that I’m sorta … well … wrong.  In 2011, Rome was the 18th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy (which is exactly the type of description that would keep me away). But, people love Rome. People eat, pray, and love their way to Rome and back year after year.

Rome is ruination and reinvention, thriving, bustling, sleepy, and special.  There is no denying that moment when you walk around a corner and come face to face with iconic ROME – the Trevi fountain, the Vatican, Hadrian’s Arch, or any of a thousand other spectacular glimpses into the astounding history of this eternal city.

So, I am putting on my rose colored glasses (they fit quite nicely after a catastrophically shitty trip to Bali, strep throat in Istanbul, and a July heat wave in Shanghai) and prepping for the next great adventure.

My itinerary for one day in Rome:

1. Skip the Caesar Shuffle and the Vatican, I’ve been there and done that. Instead I’ll start the day with a leisurely stroll and cappuccino in Trastevere.

2. Then, I’ll continue across the Tiber to the Parthenon, a visit to the daily markets of the Campo De’ Fiori, and a stroll through the Piazza Navona .

3. After a full day of wandering, I’ll end the afternoon with the Dolce Vita stroll (as coined by travel guru Rick Steves) starting with a glass of wine and snacks at the Piazza del Popolo then a saunter down the Via del Corso and up Via Condotti to the Spanish Steps to surround myself with smooching lovers and that feeling of being painfully alone … for just long enough to make a Skype call home to my family as they settle in to their day.

And, hopefully, this time Rome will leave me aching to return, understanding what those nose-to-tail tour group tourists have been raving about for years.

A Moron, a Jackass, and Sarah Palin Walk Into a Bar

Last week I found myself knee-deep in stupid wrapped around a premise of profound. I’m sure you’ve been there too, that moment when you’re talking with someone and a piece of verbal garbage so profoundly ridiculous comes out of their mouth it leaves you scrambling for the conversational escape hatch …

“Command, I’m going to need an immediate evacuation from this social exchange, I just realized I’m speaking with a mouth-breather.”

Fortunately, my particularly awkward social exchange took place via email so I opted for the only appropriate response in that situation: delete and move on, no reply necessary.

Typically, I consider it rude to argue with the idiotic, the ignorant, or the just plain crazy. They have enough to deal with. But then, when a teleprompter broke down at the much ridiculed Iowa Freedom Summit Sarah Palin unleashed a torrent of such verbal nonsense it left me contemplating the various schools of “stupid” one might belong to.

So, geek that I am, I create a Venn Diagram to make deciphering dumb a little easier.

Idiot Venn Diagram
By sharing this critical thoughtless taxonomy it is my hopes that you will be able to avoid that awkward moment of horror when you find yourself waist deep in dope without a shovel.

  • Dumb: Do not argue with these people it takes all of their processing power to string together a sentence and breathe at the same time. You won’t get anywhere and it’s a bit like wrestling with a toddler.
    • Appropriate Response When Encountering a Debating Dummy: Nod your head, thank them for sharing their opinion, then give them a lollipop and a smile – it’s cute of them to try.
  • Stupid: Stupid is the most evil of the idiot school in that stupid can often hide itself behind mean, snide, or cruel. In reality, cruel, mean, and snide are often just a camouflage for stupid, these people don’t have the intellectual horsepower or maturity to come up with a clever retort so they respond by going with an irrational hyperbolic retort. You can argue with this person, but they’ll leave red faced and huffing like an angry little Rumpelstiltskin. Stupids don’t respond well to having their delusional ego dinged.
    • Appropriate Response When Encountering Stupid: “I can see that you’ve got a lot of emotional capital invested in your opinion, thankfully most of us don’t share your perspective.
  • Ignorant: We all have a little ignorant in us. I’ve chosen to sit out the whole Capital Gains Tax debate. Due to the ubiquitous nature of partial ignorance this is the most potentially redeemable school of Idiot. With patience, Hooked on Phonics, and a heavy dose of NPR reprogramming this person might move on to live a full and productive life.
    • Appropriate Response to Ignorance: “When I read (xxx official, peer-reviewed, research and policy statements that an educated person would respect) it was stated quite clearly that (xxx issue to which said Ignoramus is not privy, most likely man-caused global warming) your opinion has fallen out of favor. Let me Google that for you.

You can thank me later, or share your own moments of intellectual horror.

30 Minute Laundry

Laundry isn’t exactly the sort of topic that gets everyone all up in a lather with excitement, but it’s something that must be done … into each life a little Tide will fall.

When I’m home for a good long stretch, Sunday laundry day is one of my favorite days of the week. And, by applying my professional know how to this seemingly endless task, I’ve figured out how to take a week’s worth of laundry for four into a 30 minute task (wash and dry time not included).

My Approach:

Step 1: Build Laundry Mountain

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On Sunday morning I start the washing machine loading up alternating batches of colors (I don’t sort jeans, towels, or laundry types just keep it simple – whites together and colors together). I alternate between white and colors so I don’t run out of hot water for other favorite Sunday tasks: bubble baths.

As each load finishes I dump it on my master bed. With loads of whites I leave the socks in the laundry basket and just pile the next load right on top of it, as the day goes on, my layer of socks gets bigger and bigger.

Then, I turn on the terrible reality television, do a little yoga, and move on with my day. Every time I pass the laundry room I status check and advance the ball. By 3:00 pm, I’m five Kardashian episodes down and the clothes for my family of four are washed and dried, and toppling over my bed.

Step 2: Quick Sort

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After the laundry is ready for processing I do a quick sort based very roughly on “type” rather than by person. All jeans in a pile, all kitchen towels in a pile, shirts, items for hanging up, etc. And still, all socks remain in the hamper.

By this point, I’m two minutes in and an overwhelming project has become quite bite-sized (though I still wish I could get my boys not to automatically throw every clirty* item into the laundry.

Step 3: Muscle Memory

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Next, I use the theory of muscle memory that makes repetitive task kind of pleasant, and fast. I fold all the towels at once, according to their final destination. This means display towels get folded once according to where they’re hung, closet towels together, tablecloths together, wash clothes together, etc. This enables me to get into a fast, thoughtless rhythm and gets the easiest task behind me.

Step 4: Jeans

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Towels finished, I’m in a solid flip, flip fold rhythm and it’s a perfect transition to jeans. I tackle them all at once and stack them by their final destination as I go. (I know some people hang, but not for 9 year old boys).

By the time all the jeans are folded I’m only ten minutes in; you’d be amazed how quickly the first steps go!

Step 5: Shirts

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Now comes the part I hate, and the reason the bad TV comes into play. Once I get to shirts I’ve moved just enough of laundry mountain that there’s a me-sized space between all the fluffy towels and crisp pillow cases and I reward myself with a little vegging time. I sit and mindlessly fold shirts, pajamas, and all the little pieces (by type, so I can use muscle memory to repeat the same motions again and again) and stack them according to where they’re going.

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As I fold shirts I place anything that needs to be hung-up together. Then, with all the shirts hung up I grab hangars (which I keep stored together) and place everything on hangars at once. Even items that need to be ironed eventually get hung, then just put away in a staging location until I finally get around to them.

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Step 6: Socks

With the lion’s share of the work done, and with my butt still planted on the bed, I tackle socks – again with the sort and conquer approach. I start by putting socks of a type together (black socks, white anklets, etc.) then divide piles further, and smaller until matches are obvious – rather than searching through the basket for a mate.

And, because my kids don’t particularly care, I don’t put too much effort into ensuring their socks are a perfect match. Close enough is good enough for my boys.

Typically, I’ll do one laundry session on Sunday, and a much smaller wash-and-fold of a few loads on Wednesday nights. All told, my routine consumes about an hour per week, and keeps my kids from presenting me with a no-sock fiasco on Thursday morning.

As for keeping my laundry room stocked and pretty, that one I’m still working on.

One Year in Review

The LaBelleValise blog is now one year old.  This blog started as a travel log on all the places work, life, and wanderlust takes me and over the past year the adventure has been better than I hoped.

Here are a few of the highlightswpid-20141203_115451.jpg

Cruising? A Supposedly Fun Thing I Thought I’d Never Do Again

When I read the late David Foster Wallace’s essay on cruising in Harper’s, Shipping Out, On the Nearly Lethal Comforts of a Luxury Cruise, I laughed with the deep understanding that comes from having been there, and felt all of that.

Yet, two months ago, there I was, planning a cruise with my family for Christmas.  Our lofty goals of a cruise through the Mediterranean were quickly tempered by the reality of traveling with two tweens through museums, UNESCO sites, and endless cathedrals.  Once reality struck it was decided that we’d start with a beginners cruise: a week in the Caribbean followed by a week of Disney magic (before they become too old to enjoy the Mouse).  Perhaps I should have lobotomized myself in anticipation.

As a mother, and frequent traveler, I have learned that the secret to traveling well with Royal Caribbean Deck Six Mapunruly travelers is planning coupled with flexibility.  When it comes to travel, I firmly believe nothing of value is gained by leaving your hard-earned vacation days to the fates. That said, after months of research I selected the Royal Caribbean, Independence of the Seas six night, seven day cruise to Grand Caymen, Jamaica, and Labadee Haiti. I booked two adjoining rooms (6575 and 6577 for those who know this ship). Our trip would be followed by five days in Orlando, Florida at the Universal Cabana Bay, and a night in Fort Lauderdale at the Marriott Pompano Beach (gotta use up those points), heading home on Christmas morning.

First important topic to tackle: dining. The Royal Caribbean group has decided to make understanding their dining program unnecessarily complicated and difficult, but I will not be deterred when there are bloggers who’ve come before me who’ve simplified the information that Royal Caribbean has not. In order to simplify things for those that follow … here’s what we found:

Independence of the Seas Main Dining RoomThe Independence of the Seas, offers a number of varied dining options:

The Main Dining Room (Breakfast lunch and dinner, Deck 3-5) The three-deck-high dining room (called Romeo and Juliet on Deck 3, Othello on Deck 4 and King Lear on Deck 5) is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Breakfast: features eggs Benedict, pancakes, granola, and omelets as well as a daily special such as chocolate-chip pancakes, a bacon and gruyere quiche (which was quite good), or almond-crusted French toast. Seating is available for individual parties or communal seating. You can order mimosas or bloody marys with minimal hassle since the breakfast crowd is mostly at the buffet.

Lunch Salad Bar

Lunch: the Independence offers Brasserie 30 (the Dining Room called by another name, but still smelling the same). Lunch features a menu/made-to order salad bar combo where guests pick their toppings, and a crew member mixes it together.  The salad bar also features a light antipasti selection. The set menu features traditional lunch entrees, pastas, soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts and a two course meal can be completed in 30 minutes.

Dinner: passengers can choose between two standard dining times (6 and 8:30 p.m.) or My Time Dining, where you can make a reservation to dine at different times each day. In selecting My Time dining you give up the cruise tradition of having the same waiter and set table mates each night and can sit by yourselves at tables of two, four, or more. With My Time dining gratuities are paid up front (if you’re one of those obstinate sorts who asks to have that removed so you can tip based on service, I saw the email that goes out to the entire service crew that you’ve requested that, so BEWARE).

The dinner menu features salads, soups, appetizers for starters, classic entrees, and desserts. Each night new entree, soup, and starter options are introduced and there are also “every night” selections including vegetarian pasta, broiled salmon, chicken breast, and a sirloin steak.

Review of the Main Dining Room: Faux-tastic … the dining room attempts to look elegant and sophisticated, but rolling trays of detritus are stacked up just feet from where you’re dining. The constant table turnover makes the room unpleasant and loud, and the service attempts to be five star, but with weird hangups (they squirt the ketchup for your fries for you rather than leaving the bottle or bringing a small ramekin of ketchup.  Why can’t I just have the damn ketchup bottle!?!)

Ordering a glass of wine (or God forbid, a cocktail) is an ordeal that requires a separate server, your SeaPass card*, and a hassle that becomes downright obnoxious by night four. Why do they make it such a hassle considering the servers are the same, they know your name and room number, and they’ve already seen your SeaPass card and therefor drink package half a dozen times by then! The food is fine, occasionally good, and I might have even had something that was great at least once. The dress code is weird; on formal night we were wedged between octogenarians in their tuxedos and ball gowns and a Danny DeVito look-alike in a T-shirt and shorts.

Independence of the Seas Windjammer Buffet

The Windjammer Café (open for breakfast lunch and dinner, Deck 11) is a traditional buffet that will ignite all of your “ick” sensors – think Food Court without the filter of price or quality.  People belly up to the bland servings of fake mashed potatoes, undercooked pancakes, and overcooked bacon and create Jenga-like towers of food that no human should ever consume.

I know that it is paid for in advance and therefore people want to “get their money’s worth”, but why does that have to happen all on one plate?  They aren’t kicking people out.  Fill your plate to a reasonable level, take a breath between bites, grease up your hips so that you can get in and out of your chair, and repeat.  No need to strain your wrist trying to wrangle that platter of bland, lukewarm fried chicken stacked over a cheeseburger, with a saddlebag of tater tots back to the table.

Jade: The buffet also has a section called “Jade” which cruise advertising attempts to feature as a separate restaurant, but it isn’t.  Jade is a row of about 12 “Asianish” options that represent Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Indian fare all grouped together. It is also rumored that Jade offers a special “Sushi night” on some ships, but I never saw or heard of this and the buffet is so gross, dirty, and crowded that I wouldn’t be eating any cruiseship-sushi anyway.

Windjammer Review: Ick, Yuck, and a pile of muck.  We ate here twice (lunch once and breakfast on the final day) because my kids wanted to gorge on cookies. I had bad coffee, a bowl of cold/bland miso soup, and salad. I didn’t want to go anywhere near the food, or the people throwing elbows to get to the food any more often than I had to.

Sorrento’s Pizza (Deck 5, on the Promenade) – Pizza by the slice, tirimisu, beers, and a daily sandwich/calzone option.  The pizza wasn’t bad, there were plenty of tables, and the lines were minimal.  Most afternoons we’d meander down to Sorrentos and graze on a slice. We did have a moment of awkward when my son ordered a tirimisu and the attendant got mad at him for trying to order liquor underage … so there’s that (I guess they soak the lady fingers in rum instead of rum flavoring).

Café Promenade (Deck 5, on the Promenade) – Sandwiches, cookies, pastries, specialty blended coffee drinks, and free drip coffee was served here all day.  The options weren’t bad, the line was never too long, and they make some “adult” coffee beverages that were quite good.  We enjoyed afternoon tea here most days.

Room service – available for free until midnight, the room service menu was somewhat limited (burgers, sandwiches, and pizza) but the kids enjoyed ordering cookies and hot chocolate every night, and a couple times I ordered nachos and a cheese plate while we prepared for dinner, because, hey – it’s all you can eat, and I paid for it.

Options for an Additional Charge:

  • Chops Grille Steakhouse – (6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. $25 surcharge, Deck 11) with a $35 per person charge. This was our best meal of the evening and is comparable to the quality we’d get at a steakhouse at home.  We booked before we left and ended up getting a discount on our drinks packages.
  • Giovanni’s Table Italian Restaurant – (6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. $25 surcharge, Deck 11) – We never ate here, something about it just seemed too similar to The Windjammer for my taste (though that may have just been weird personal interpretations, not based on actual fact). The menu includes: focaccia della casa –- a flat bread with potatoes, marinated artichokes, olives and pesto, and oven baked, almond crusted scallops with red bell pepper,
  • Johnny Rockets (Deck 12) – I found it annoying that we had to pay $5 per person to eat here, plus another $5 to order a shake – it should be either/or.  The food was fine, the ambiance was fine, but I left annoyed about the additional charge for shakes.
  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream – this place was a graveyard, the lights were never on, and it never appeared to be open.  Maybe it was, but I couldn’t tell.
  • Cupcake Cupboard, Independence of the Seas
    The Cupcake Cupboard – (Arrival day 2:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., sea days from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 pm, surcharges from $1.50 – $15.00, Deck 5) The Cupcake Cupboard is located on the promenade and offers gourmet cupcakes at $2.75, minis at $1.50, cake pops for $1.50 and giant birthday cakes at $24.95. The shop offers design classes priced at $22 for adults (11 years-up) and $15 for children (five years-10 years) with a maximum of 10 people students per class. It was cute, but we preferred the free treats at the Cafe.
  • Sprinkles Ice Cream Station: (Pool deck, with a line 15 deep at any given time, open from 11:00 – 6:00 daily) The ultimate in gross (see below for the image of the slop trough set below the machine, which slowly fills up throughout the day and attracts every manner of gross).

Highlights and low lights of the trip:

Sources:

  1. Cruise Critic Dining Review
  2. Taste of Hawaii Royal Caribbean Review

*SeaPass Card – the most obnoxious part of the cruise.  You receive the card when you arrive and it becomes your “credit card” throughout the trip, as well as your room key, and the card that gets you on the ship at each port.  The obnoxious thing about this card is that even if you buy the all inclusive unlimited drinks package, your card must be swiped for every drink you order, every bottle of water, and every cup of coffee – adding a few minutes of waiting to every transaction, followed by a receipt you have to sign.  Why not just give us a wristband and then use the SeaPass cards if an issue arises? Reason one out of 100 why I’ve decided I prefer the All Inclusive resort experience.

My 30 Day Adventure: Prologue

My 30 Day Adventure, as I’ve taken to calling it, has now ended, with an extra 10 pounds, three new passport stamps, and so many emails and unpacked bags awaiting me I wish I could start the trip again just to get away from it all!

That said, when I think back on where I have been for the past month, and all the wonderful experiences, it was more than worth it – and I still think someone should pinch me that the universe has decided that THIS is my life.

The past year has been an amazing whirl wind of travel, adventure, growth, love, and good fortune along with tears, loss, and stress.  Looking forward to 2015 I can’t wait to see what life has in store, but of course I’m also carrying just a bit of trepidation, as if happiness tempts fate.

Over the next few weeks I’ll try to get caught up sharing all about my adventure, from dipping in a hidden Jacuzzi in Utah’s Red Rock deserts to mixing up my airports and getting followed by the Mafia in southern Italy. But, for now a place holder to begin sharing my adventure from …

The Itinerary*:

Leg 1: Four days at the Red Mountain Resort, St. George, Utah

Plotting the German OffensiveLeg 2: Three days in Vienna (via Paris)

Leg 3: Two days in Germany – Berlin, Hannover, Stuttgart, and Mannheim

Leg 5: Four days in Amsterdam and Rotterdam

Leg 6: One quick day in Dublin

Leg 7: A Day in Milan

Leg 8: A Day in the South of Italy – Bari

Leg 9: An evening in the lovely Torino, Italy

Leg 10: A quick jaunt home, four hours, a shower, and a second suitcase to begin our family’s alternate Christmas.

Dreaming of a white Christmas!
Dreaming of a white Christmas!

Leg 11: Fort Lauderdale

Leg 12: The Cruise (The Review is posted, but the late David Foster Wallace said enough in his Harper’s Magazine Article: A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again)

Leg 13: Orlando, Universal Cabana Bay Resort, Epcot Center, and Disney World

Leg 14: Pompano Beach

And, on the final day, Christmas morning, 2015 – Home!

*Hotels that I particularly loved will get hyperlinked, further reviews to come.

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