Snapshots // The beginning of summer

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

My stress levels have been down lately thanks to the magical weekend getaway. For the past two weekends I’ve been away, upstate in the Catskills, first at a place called Glen Brook with friends and family, and then again for the music festival Mountain Jam at Hunter Mountain. Both weekends were amazing—fun, relaxing, full of friends and family and good music and karaoke shenanigans. Here are some photos:

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Travel Diaries // Mini road trip to Mystic, Conn.

I love to travel, but unfortunately, I work. But since I tend to like money and not starving, it’s not so bad. But that’s why weekend trips, often spontaneous ones, are so important. My cousins recently invited me to tag along on their mini road trip to Mystic, Connecticut, and I was jazzed since I love pizza and Julia Roberts! I went with my cousins, my sister, and my brother-in-law, and we lucked out with a gorgeous spring day. Here are some photos.img_5615
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5 things I always wanted to do…

Welp, it’s that time of year again, when everything slows down and changes color, and the frivolity of summer fades away. Even though I totally keep myself in summer mode until exactly September 21st, there’s the thought that things are about to get colder and hence, more serious. So…I’m thinking about goals.

There’s some stuff I always wanted to do, like bucket list stuff that isn’t difficult, and I want to make sure I make these things a priority this year and next. Here’s my shortlist of fall goals and fun activities:

Take a ballet class

I’ve always wanted to do ballet, since my parents never put me in a class when I was a kid. I’ll forever be rubbing that in their faces. 😉 I want to take an extreme beginner’s class because I’m very uncoordinated, but I’m really looking forward to learning the basics.

Travel

My sisters and I are planning a trip to New Orleans for next spring, and I’m already so excited to visit somewhere I’ve never been. I also may head to Orlando, Florida this month to visit Universal Studios and see the newly-expanded Harry Potter park! I went five years ago when it opened, but I’m dying to go again.

Work abroad

Now that I’m working full time, I can make plans for the future and for my finances. But the best thing about my job is that I work remotely; so I can pretty much work anywhere. I’d love to be able to pick up and go somewhere for a few weeks, maybe (probably, hopefully) London, and work from there. I visited London three years ago and it’s my favorite place in the world, except for New York.

See the northern lights

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Last year I went to Alaska for four days in February with the hope of seeing the aurora borealis, but alas, no luck. We left Fairbanks literally hours before the lights appeared, and it was a major bummer. This time, my friend and I want to make sure we see them.

With more money to work with and bigger plans, we hope to visit either Iceland or Finland and stay in these weird hotel pods with skylights so we can be warm and fuzzy and still see something. (In Alaska, our plan was basically driving out to the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night and taking turns sleeping and turning the heat on in the car. Not our best plan.)

NaNoWriMo

My quarter-year resolution to write every day was only somewhat successful. With another NaNo quickly approaching, I’m going to try my hardest to do more research, write more short fiction to keep myself sharp, and be prepared to finish something on time. Wish me luck!

Happy September First!

photos link to sources

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Bookstore Hopping | Booksmith in San Francisco, CA

On my recent trip to SF, of course I wanted to visit a local indie bookstore. I had a couple in mind but didn’t get to visit either (they were too far north). Instead, I found one very serendipitously while I was exploring the Haight-Ashbury section of the city. It was called Booksmith and it was very, very cool.

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I always feel too conspicuous taking actual photos inside a busy store so I apologize for these rather blurry iPhone photos!
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What I loved about Booksmith was how quirky and also browser-friendly it was. Almost every single book on display came with a personalized, handwritten staff recommendation card, to the point where more little handwritten slips were visible hanging from the shelves than books! It’s not a bad thing, though. It’s a very good thing, because back covers, inside flaps and of course, the cover don’t always give you that in-depth why-you-should-actually-read-this kind of rec.

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I also loved the hand-drawn chalkboard titles for each section! They were so creative and beautifully rendered. For a bookstore in the heart of the Haight, it was also very kid-friendly. The Children’s Section was huge, but I only missed some good San Francisco/California/Haight-Ashbury history books. I would have loved to bring one home with me to learn more about this section of the city.

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I also loved the floors. They were a wreck, and beautiful.

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Deets: 1644 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117. Go check it out 😉

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Travel Tales of San Francisco

I just got back from my very first trip to California/the West Coast. My cousin and I went to San Francisco for a few days to visit a friend, and spent many, many hours walking up and down crazy hills, being totally amazed by the Victorian architecture, going on spooky Alcatraz tours, and in my case, completely biting it while biking across the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Francisco’s beauty frequently took my breath away, and I loved every minute of exploring this great American city. Here are some photo highlights of my trip.

Warning: many pretty photos ahead:

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view from the top of Lombard Street. My feet and legs took the brunt of the pain! 😉

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view from our awesome seafood dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf

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Alcatraz Island from Pier 44

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CHOCOLATE

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Snapchat selfie while hanging onto a cable car 😉

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Alcatraz cell—so tiny!

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view of San Francisco from Alcatraz Island—unbelievable.

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The Bay

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Janis Joplin’s house

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The Grateful Dead’s house

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view of SF from the Golden Gate Park observation deck

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Ocean Beach! First time in the Pacific OceanPhoto Jul 09, 1 40 28 PM IMG_3711 IMG_3728

Chinatown was beautiful. (Food was awesome, too!)

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<3

My favorite kinds of vacations are the ones that I get to do a mix of relaxation, exploration, sight-seeing, some museums/history stuff, and a lot of eating! We did a whole lot of touristy things this trip which I loved, but if and when I ever make it back to SF, I’d love to take more time to do the local things. For the first time, it was pretty perfect.

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"Never a briefcase in Paris and never an umbrella"

Those words are spoken by Audrey Hepburn in my favorite movie, Sabrina. I watched this movie when I was very young with my family, and it’s definitely one of my favorites. It came to mind because I’m beginning Edward Rutherfurd’s long epic novel about Paris…called Paris. It spans the history of the iconic City of Light, and I can’t wait to spend a thousand pages in Paris. (Yah, it’s long 🙂 )

18730321I’m bringing the book on the flight with me to San Francisco and if you’re reading this, I’m probably carrying this book onto the flight back! I’m so excited to read this book (and for my trip, of course). Just a quick scan at the table of contents shows that the book will chronicle the lives of the citizens and visitors of Paris throughout the centuries. It’s like historical fiction on steroids.

This is the first passage:

Paris. City of Love. City of Dreams. City of splendor. City of saints and scholars. City of gaiety. 

Sink of iniquity.

In two thousand years, Paris has seen it all.

Eek! Can’t wait to read more.

Bonus: some photos of when I visited Paris for two days when I studied abroad in college. One of the best feelings I’ve ever had was waking up in a Paris hotel room and hearing the sounds of the city first thing in the morning. Paris was a waking dream.

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Going to San Francisco…

Hey friends! I’m excited to share some travel news. This summer my cousin and I are going to San Francisco to visit a friend, and I’m getting so excited to visit California for the first time. Yep—first time on the West Coast. We already have a long list of places to see and things to do, but if you’ve been to SF or live there, let me know if you have any recommendations! We want an action-packed week. 🙂

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LOVE.

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Bookstore Hopping // Sherman's Books in Portland, ME

Exploring Portland last week, I remarked to my friends that I hadn’t found a bookstore yet. And then I looked up and saw one. It was kind of insane. The bookstore was called Sherman’s Books & Stationery, and it was lovely. Half of the items inside were of the “nautical souvenir” persuasion, but as a tourist, I appreciated it just the same. But the thing I loved best about this indie were their methods of categorizing their books. Take a look:

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The extensive and well-stocked Fiction stacks are titled with phrases like “Not True,” “Don’t Believe A Word,” and “Still Not True.” A quote from Harry Potter comes to mind: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” 😉

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Excellent idea: book shopping carts! Take it from someone who is tired of stacking heavy books on one arm while balancing a coffee cup in the other during long hours at a bookstore: these are necessary and should be placed in every serious bookstore.

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Described as “Maine’s Oldest Bookstore,” Sherman’s Books & Stationery boasted a whole section of “Maine Fiction,” which I loved. The best thing about visiting and buying from indie bookstores is the local flavor you won’t get from a Barnes & Noble. The only trouble was the new-book prices! I have a preference for buying secondhand, cheap books 🙂

Check out Sherman’s Books & Stationery’s website and Facebook page, and make sure to give them a visit if you’re ever passing through Portland, Maine!

Travel Diaries // Portland, Maine

I’m excited to share some photos of my recent trip to Portland with you all! The things I loved most about the trip was exploring Old Portland and visiting the Head Light Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth. I loved the combination of city and country and the energy Portland has. I’m a city girl at heart, but there’s a sense of rejuvenation that comes from being close to nature.

I also loved the beer 🙂 Portland’s craft beer is pretty awesome, and I tried as many different brews as I could! And of course, the delicious lobster. The Bite into Maine food truck was one of the highlights of our trip! We also went kayaking, which completely kicked my ass.

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Beeer! And lobster. I had such a great time with my friends exploring this new town. I wish I could travel for a living. Is there a place you instantly fell in love with when you visited? Is there a place you’ve always wanted to visit?

Off to Maine!

As of now, I am in my Jeep road trippin’ up to Maine for a few days! I’m so excited to take my first road trip and to spend a few days relaxing in such a beautiful state. It’s my dream to visit each state in the US, so I can officially cross Maine off my list! If I love it as much as I think I will, I’m sure I’ll visit again and again. Here’s to lobster and beer!

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And lighthouses. How gorgeous is that?