Latest Obsession: Macramé

If you’re on Pinterest you’ve definitely seen them: woven wall art that looks like this and this and this, and this. It’s macrame, and I’m pretty much obsessed.

These tapestries can be pricy, so, being my super-frugal self, I looked into how they’re made, and decided to try to make my own. I learned a few simple knots from the video on this blog, and bought $10 of jute cord on amazon. I was on my way to macrame city.

My first experimental hanging was tiny, took forever, but ultimately didn’t look too bad! It now lives in the guest bathroom. I poked holes in some tiny shells I had collected and used them as beads to finish off the bottom:

My First Macrame

The second one was bigger, and went much faster:


I used driftwood for the top rod of both macrame’s, but you could use anything: hoops, dowels, curtain rods, sticks… anything that you can loop the cord around.

Using driftwood with macrame

The most difficult thing about macrame is deciding what stitch to start with.After that, it just seems to flow.  I love how the piece evolves as you create the design – it’s so much fun to see your creation take shape out of just pieces of string.

Knowing the basic macrame knots is like knowing how to pick up a paint brush – using it properly is a whole different animal. I need some more practice to find out exactly where this new hobby can go.

Macrame with square knots and half hitch knots

I was pumped to discover you can make hammocks, swings, plant hangers, shawls, table runners, and other table pieces of usable art. It will probably take a while, but by the end of the summer, I hope to have my own custom macrame hammock in the back yard. (:

Have you tried to macrame? What are you going to make next?

Road Trip Diet: My Top 10 Roadfoods

Recently, I hopped in the car for a longish solo drive to a meeting in Western MA. While not technically a road trip, the familiar wafts of gas station coffee reminded me how much I miss being on the road!

We all know what it’s like to pull long hours on the road…and how unhealthy roadside pit stops can quickly become.

After crisscrossing the country six times within 5 years (pre-smartphones!), and countless regional road trips, I’ve tested and refined my road trip menu enough that I think I can write a blog about it. And it might even be useful.

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I have to give a giant shoutout to fellow Bad Girl and Author Cameron Tuttle, for inspiring my early love of Road Trips with her book The Bad Girl’s Guide to the Open Road. Tuttle showed me the gore and glory of road tripping well before I could drive. (And I still carry a copy in my car!)

When you think of road trip food, you might think of a McDonald’s drive through, burgers, fries, Snickers, and lots of Red Bull. But stop right there: if you eat like that while sitting on your butt in the driver’s seat all day, you’ll get yourself in big trouble in no time.

Are there healthy-ish, low-cost alternatives to the traditional trans-fat-filled road trip staples? Of course there are! You just need to know where to find them.

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The key to a successful road trip diet is to balance fiber with protein, and limit sodium – Road Trip food can easily become full of simple carbs (white breads) and too many fatty, salty proteins, which is problematic if this is your diet for days on end. Add plenty of fiber, vitamins and liquids to the mix to avoid uncomfortable hours in the drivers seat.

Image result for menu image1. WATER
This is first on the list for good reason –  never set out on the open road without at least a days-supply of water for everyone in the car. Rural desert roads with no cell phone reception and 120+ degree unrelenting sun can do some serious damage if you were to break down without any water, hundreds of miles from the nearest town. Stop at a supermarket and grab a big case of large water bottles with sport tops – or a couple 2.5 gallon jugs – for under $4.

Drink water slowly and constantly to minimize your bathroom pitstops, and to stay hydrated – chugging a bunch of water all at once will cause it to run through you faster. Don’t try to avoid water – it’s easy to get dehydrated without realizing it when you’re sitting in a car for long stretches.



Sold at almost every gas station, rest stop, and bodega coast to coast. Usually found near the checkout counter. There’s no artificial additives, and packed with fiber and vitamins to keep you alert and feeling fresh. Save the bag and use as a trash can for your peels and cores.


They don’t need to be refrigerated and are easy to eat whole and raw while sitting at the wheel. Tack on a tub of hummus for dipping and this will hold you over for quite a while while adding fiber and vitamins. If you have a long late night drive and need to stay awake, try chomping on a loud crunchy carrot to keep yourself engaged.

In moderation, string cheese, or small cheese wheels, are a convenient source of protein and calcium, and can hold you over for hours. They’re sold at almost every convince store, gas station and rest stop – find it in the cooler area.

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I know what you’re thinking, but these are sold at gas stations and rest stops, near the string cheese and those pre-packaged sandwiches. They come 2 to a pack, pre-peeled, and you can have protein-packed eggs for breakfast, alongside a coffee and an apple. Much more nutritious than a gas station muffin.

Too much salt can make you swell while you’re sitting still in a car for hours or days-on-end. Your normal salt intake could become too much when on the road — when you’re not breathing hard, moving, talking or sweating, you need much less salt than you normally do. Opt for unsalted nuts to add some fiber and minerals to your diet and minimize the excess salt-swell.

Not slimjims, but real, authentic, locally made jerky. You can find this in rural areas where the cattle and buffalo roam (literally). It’s usually near the checkout counter. The real stuff is rarely pre-packaged, and can be costly and full of sodium, so eat sparingly. Sometimes you just need some meat and local jerky is a low fat, carb-free alternative to a greasy burger.

Gas station coffee is in a category all it’s own: If Starbucks is a poodle, Gas Station Coffee is a rottweiler. Stale .. cold .. scalding.. it doesn’t matter because it gets the job done and it’s your new best friend — and it rarely costs more than $1.50. Skip the sugar-filled energy drinks and opt for a bitter cup of black gasoline to keep you cruising and alert for the long-haul.

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Normally, I am anti-bread, but when it’s dinner time and the alternative is a greasy burger filled with mystery meat, reaching for a peanut butter sandwich will do just fine. At $2/ loaf + $3/jar at rest stops or super markets, you can’t beat the price. A jar of PB and a loaf of bread can last days.  Opt for whole wheat to add more fiber and long-lasting complex carbs to your system.

*PRO-TIP* slather peanut butter on a slice of bread and roll it around a half a banana for an easy driving snack. This is the PB+B ROAD TACO.

Image result for emergen-cThese little packets are sold at most gas stations, pharmacies and rest stops at the counter – near the gum and 5-hour energy shots. They run about 60¢ each, and will give you all the vitamins you need to stay in prime road tripping condition and keep your immune system in tip-top shape as you navigate shady motels, grimy gas stations and public bathrooms.




Looking for more road trip tips? Here are a few nuggets of wisdom from fellow road trippers:

With that, I’ll leave you with a selfie I took 10 years ago, driving into the sunset, on my first cross-country solo road trip.

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[Secretly Healthy] Creamy Cape Cod Clam Chowder

Growing up on Cape Cod meant that every restaurant in town had to serve their version of the creamy clammy chowder that we hold so near and dear to our hearts – even if all that creamy fatty goodness goes straight to our arteries.


Traditionally, New England Clam Chowder means a heavy, fatty, creamy, sentimental, and delicious appetizer, served in a white bowl with a side of oyster crackers. And while slurping spoonful after spoonful of the creamy goodness, a thought crosses your mind: “I wish this wasn’t full of fatty calories!”

Well, the chowder genie has finally granted your wish. After a chowder-filled weekend in Newport, I created this recipe is for a creamy, fat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and optionally vegan version of this ol’ New England staple. Now we can enjoy all the flavors and creaminess of this old favorite, without the extra artery-clogging saturated fat, and without sacrificing texture or taste.


What?! This can’t be true?!

But it is.


After whipping this up, I realized how easy it would be to make some minor adjustments, and create a dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free version. You can adjust this recipe to grant all or some of your dietary wishes. But the basics don’t change and will give you a perfectly creamy – and healthy!* – version of the real deal.

Cape Cod “Chowder”

Base Ingredients
2 C. Veggie or Chicken Stock
1 link Chouriço Sausage, chopped (optional for a fat free or vegan version – vegan sausage can be substituted)
1.5 Large potatoes, chopped into 1/4″-1/2″ pieces
2 Large Carrots, chopped into 1/4″ pieces
2 Stalks Celery, chopped into 1/4″ pieces
1 Med. Onion, chopped
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/4 tsp Celery Salt
2 Bay Leaves
1 tsp chopped hot pepper

Add later: 1 C. Chopped shrimp and/or clams (optional for a vegan version)

“Cream” Ingredients
1 tsp Miso paste
1.5 C. Almond Milk
1/2 Package of Silken Tofu
~10 small dried shrimp (omit for a vegan version)
1 Tbs Dried Chopped Seaweed
1 Tbs Arrowroot powder
1 Tbs All-Purpose Flour (use rice flour or oat flour if you’re going for a gluten-free version)

Simmer the sausage in the broth until cooked through. Add the potatoes, celery, onions, carrots, old bay, celery salt, hot pepper, black pepper, and bay leaves. Simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender.

While your basic ingredient are simmering, make the “cream” by blending all the “cream” ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Add the shrimp/clams, and the blended “cream” mixture to your simmering chowder base. Stir and heat until just simmering, then turn off the heat. You don’t want it to boil, but you want the flour to cook out.  The chowder should take on a rich, creamy texture once the flour and arrowroot work their magic.

Let it cool for a few minutes and serve along side your homemade crackers.


* Because I’m claiming this is a “healthy” recipe, I wanted to see for myself just how “healthy” it is. Turns out – it’s pretty healthy!

Here is the nutritional breakdown for the recipe as written above, without any of the noted substitutions or omissions (yes, it includes the chouriçe!). This is per serving, based on 5 servings per recipe.

Calories: 158
Carbs: 19g
Fat: 5g
Protein: 9g
Sodium: 213mg
Sugar: 3g

(Nutritional Data is from

No Crackers. No Problem.

I’ve had some bad luck making crackers… CRACKERS, of all things. Too soggy, too burnt, too spicy — you name it and I’ve screwed it up… in cracker-form.

BUT tonight, I broke the cracker-curse. I found a very forgiving & simple recipe for crisp and tasty – not to mention QUICK – crackers.

If you’re craving cheese and crackers but only have the former, no fear, the latter is easier than you think.  Just a few basic ingredients will give you crispy crackly, perfectly spiced crackers in just 20 minutes!

Thank you to the kind people at TheKitchn, for the cracker-crave-quenching recipe* I’m talking about. It seems the messier you roll them, the more “artisanal” they look, which is just an added bonus.

^ super artisinal crackers ^

I found they cooked faster than the recipe indicated: 9-10 minutes was just fine for mine, which were rolled out pretty thin (thinner dough = faster crackers!). My advice is to watch the oven (Great-British-Baking-Show-style) around the 7-8 minute mark, so you’re sure not to over bake them.

My favorite part of this recipe is that you can top it with whatever you like.  I topped mine with seams seeds, finishing salt, and caraway, to pair with a Chèvre cheese from the local goat farm we visited last weekend** — though you can easily customize these crackers to fit any cheese or dip you’re pairing them with.


**…the best part about local goat cheese is… being smothered by baby goats, while buying the cheese:



The Elusive Sky Juice Cocktail Recipe

If you’ve never been to the Bahamas, there’s a chance you’ve never heard of this drink.  Sky Juice – as it is locally known by the bahamians – is so good you might never reach for vodka soda ever again. (Or at least not until bikini season… lets’ be honest…) Even then, nothing goes better with a bikini than a refreshing coconut drink.

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Sky juice is also the signature dink for my wedding! And we need a recipe … the perfect recipe. I searched the Googles and mixed up a few contenders — not a single one came close to what we had at Goldie’s Conch House in Potter’s Cay. After more careful scientific research* Donald patched together a recipe that could probably pass for the real-deal.

Sky Juice only involves 3 ingredients: Coconut water, sweetened condensed milk, and gin. Unfortunately the coconut water up here in New England comes from a carton and not a freshly machete’d green coconut like in the Caribbean, but we’ll work with what we’ve got**.

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Donald’s winning recipe…

2 Parts Gin
1 Part Sweetened Condensed Milk
6 Parts Coconut Water

Shake it up, pour over over ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.  And that is how you reach beach-drink nirvana.

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*mess-making and booze-drinking.

**In case you’re totally in the dark about coconut water quality, like me, the nice people at Kitchn put together this blind Coconut Water blind taste test for us. I’m going to go for the whole foods brand, because it’s a good price for a 33.8oz of good coconut water.

Your secret WOW dish involves: Smoked Fish Stock

Normally I stay away from fish stocks unless I’m going all-in with a chowder or asian soup. Fish stock is sometimes [expectedly] fishy and thin, not adding too much oomph to the final dish. It needs to really get dressed up to stand up to the bold flavors that tend to find their way into my kitchen.

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But now, I’d like to introduce you to another completely serendipitous discovery, and new kitchen staple: Smoked Fish Stock.  I don’t even know if this is a thing, but together we will make it a thing.

Smoked fish stock is a subtle, versatile, and multi-dimensional explosion of flavor — this umami-packed stock barely needs anything added to it. And it’s not overly fishy.

However, this is my kitchen and of course I’ll be turning it into all kinds of unexpected delights.

Let’s begin…

  1. Brine your fishies for about 30 minutes. Use 2 quarts of water with 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup sugar.
  2. Smoke yo’ fish. We used salmon heads and sardines, because regular filets and steaks are boring.  Plus you want as much cartilage and bone as you can get out of these babies. Gut them first!FullSizeRender (4)
  3. Smoke it in your smoker for about 3 hours. We used apple wood chips in the smoker, and an old IPA for liquid. Smoke them until they look roughly like this:IMG_3917…YUMM!!
  4. Next, eat the meat off your fish, or save it for a fish chowder that you’ll make later with your bomb fish stock…or invite your neighbors over for a “BBQ” and watch them squirm as they try to be polite and eat your smokey fish parts.
  5. Throw the rest of the icky bits – bones, cartilage, skin,  heads, eyeballs, etc. – into your stock pot. Cover with water and simmer for 1-2 hours.
  6. Strain the broth, taking care to remove all the tiny bones. Toss the fish bits into your outdoor trash can and secure from prying wildlife.  Don’t throw away indoors, as the smell will seep deep into your walls.

You can save the broth by freezing it, or you can make soup right away. Donald and I made 2 kinds of soups using this broth:

Shark Matzo Ball Soup with tofu, seaweed and pineapple (for Easter/Passover):

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And Coconut Corn Chowder, with ginger, garlic, carrots, cabbage, onion, cilantro and tofu:

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Interested in the recipes for these soups? Tell me in the comments section, and maybe I’ll whip up a recipe post just for you!

Serious Ice Cream: Balsamic Feta Cheesecake Ice Cream

Sounds decadent, right?  It’s not as diet-busting as you’d think, which is a really solid bonus because bathing suit season is just around the corner.


Maybe this creation sounds a little suspicious too: feta and balsamic in my ice cream?  This isn’t a salad! … but trust me on this: feta and balsamic are much more delicious in an ice cream than on a salad.

This Balsamic Feta Cheesecake Ice cream uses my almond milk ice cream recipe as a base-recipe (slightly modified to fit the new ingredients).  I used low-fat cream cheese in the recipe to keep the saturated fat down.  To take the health-factor to the next level, you could also substitute low-fat sweetened condensed milk, fat-free feta, and fat-free graham crackers to shave off a few more calories – this recipe will stand up to these edits and taste just as ooeygooeygood.

But, c’mon people, this is ice cream – it’s not a health food.


Prepare yourself to change the way you think about ice cream. And now, the recipe:

Balsamic Feta Cheesecake Ice Cream

7oz Sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbs Butter
4 Egg Yolks
2 Tbs Arrowroot Power
1.5 C Almond Milk
8oz Low Fat Cream Cheese
1.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/4 C Crumbled feta cheese
2 Graham crackers, crumbled
1.5 Tbs Balsamic Glaze (such as this one, from trader joes)

Beat the cream cheese with vanilla extract and almond milk in a bowl until well blended. I used an electric beater to make sure it was very well combined. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, with a whisk, mix the egg yolks, arrowroot, and sweetened condensed milk together – beat until smooth. Add the butter and turn heat on medium. Whisk gently until the butter has just melted.

Immediately and slowly add a stream of Almond Milk  while whisking.

Continue to stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens – about 5-8 minutes. All of a sudden you’ll feel it start to thicken – keep stirring for another 2-3 minutes until the custard leaves trails as it falls off the whisk.  At this point, remove from heat and pour into a tupperware container.

Sprinkle with feta and graham crackers, and chill the custard over night.

The next day, churn in your ice cream maker. After churning, put back into the tupperware – drizzle with the balsamic glaze and marble the glaze into the ice cream with a spatula, being careful not to completely stir it in. Freeze until firm, then serve!


Balsamic Feta Cheesecake Ice Cream Nutrition Facts

I was curious how the calories/fats/sugars actually worked out, so I used this calculator from Spark Recipes to check it out. Here’s what I found:



Sprouting Sprouts from Seed

Here is a quick update on sprouting your own sprouts – it works! In about 3-4 days, the little sprout seeds grow into fresh sprouts – at a fraction of the cost of store-bought sprouts.


fullsizerender-41Plus you can decide what sort of sprouts you’re in the mood for – there are so many more options than regular alfalfa or bean sprouts. I picked up a bag of broccoli sprout seeds on amazon – and to start your sprout garden, all you need are these sprouts screens and a mason jar.

As I mentioned in my last post, broccoli sprouts are where it’s at – packed with healthy cancer-and-depression-fighting nutrients and a pungent radish-like spiciness.


Let’s get sprouting!

  1. Start with 2 tablespoons of seeds in a 32oz mason jar.
  2. I use 2-screens to keep the seeds from coming out. Put the screens over the opening and secure with the outer part of the mason jar lid.
  3. Soak the seeds in water overnight, 8-12 hours.
  4. In the morning, dump out the water, rinse with cold water, and place propped up in a clean colander.
  5. Rinse them 2x per day, for 3-4 days, until your sprouts are as big as you’d like.
  6. Keeping them draining properly is very important – you don’t want moisture to get stuck – fungus and mold can easily grow with your sprouts.
  7. For this reason, cleanliness is also very important. Make sure your mason jar, lid, and screens are all washed well before starting your sprouting.




It’s Science: 10 Tips for Longevity from Rhonda Patrick

screen-shot-2017-01-22-at-5-54-03-pmSince Donald and I got engaged (woooo!) things have have been a little crazy. We’ve been in the car a lot, visiting family every weekend, and so we listen to a lot of podcasts.

Today we heard from Rhonda Patrick on the Joe Rogan show – she’s a big proponent of gut microbiome research, which I find incredibly interesting. We learned a lot about Broccoli Sprouts, which was much more interesting than it sounds. (see below!)

After we got home from Maine, I dove into Rhonda’s website to see what other nuggets of life-improving science she had on there. Here are 10 share-worthy takeaways from Rhonda and other scientists, with links to the science behind it all:

  1. Broccoli Sprouts for super-high levels of sulforaphane: a compound that promotes anti-ageing, anti-cancer, alzheimers prevention and anti-depression. (Tip: heat deactivates the key enzyme, so if you cook these high-sulforaphane foods, sprinkle freshly ground mustard seeds after heating to add the key enzyme back in). Broccoli Sprouts Macro

2. Sauna reduce dementia and risk of alzheimers.

3. Time Restricted Eating for weight loss. Time Restricted Eating is when you eat all your meals within a 10-12 hour time-span.

4. Hot chili peppers for longer life, add chilis + ginger for lower cancer risk.


5. Caffeine to live longer with less inflammation.

6. Exercise as an anti-inflammatory, for longevity, and better executive function.

7. Cut the sugar to reduce inflammation and cancer risk, and increase longevity.

8. Limit animal protein to reduce cardiovascular disease and decrease mortality.

9. Magneium-rich foods, such as nuts, to lower cholesterol, and reduced risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes.

10. Foods high in Omega-3s to reduce risk of alzheimers.


I also ordered some broccoli sprouting seeds and sprout screens for mason jars to give these broccoli sprouts a try. If it works you’ll probably see a how-to spout tutorial in the next few weeks!

*UPDATE 2/3/17: Check out my sprout tutorial here.


Azores Part 4: What to wear in the Azores

If I had to summarize Azorean style in one word, it would be “practical”.  The locals  seemed to follow the practical-trend, probably because there is so much fun stuff to do, there just isn’t time to fuss over styles or trends.  Locals on Sao Miguel seemed very western in their styles – the clothing choices reminded me of what you might find in any small U.S. city. When packing for the Azores, your priority should really be packing right, and packing light.


Pack Right: Bringing practical clothing for all kinds of weather and activities is key to a comfortable trip, so think about what you’ll be doing each day and bring the right gear for your adventures, and for the weather while you’ll be there.

Pack Light: Keeping your luggage light is a good idea when traveling to the Azores. Flights between islands charge more if your luggage is heavy (though we didn’t travel between islands), and  when you’re driving around in your smart car, your suitcase need to fit in your tiny Smart Car trunk. Otherwise, you’ll be riding with it in your lap!

Before I get into building a smart-car-sized capsule wardrobe, here are my top 6 Azorean Fashion Tips:

  1. I’d describe the Ponta Delgata’s style as “Coastal Casual” – and away from the city, it’s a even more causal. Some nautical-inspired stripes, nature-inspired colors, and farm-inspired sensibility.


2. Have your bathing suit & towel with you at all times. You never know when you’ll stumble upon a hot spring, or a perfect black-sand beach, or a crater lake.  Bring an old bathing suit and towel – The iron oxide in the springs will stain your suit and your towel (and for this reason, some places wont let you use their towels in the hot springs).fullsizerender133

3. Always have comfortable sneakers or hiking boots when you’re out sightseeing. Winding trails crisscross the whole island, and lead to beautiful places off the main road. Many miraduoros also require light hiking, lots of steps, or crossing a muddy puddle. Sensible hiking sandals would also do the trick. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, and you’ll want shoes that wont give you blisters, and that have a good tread.

4. Always carry a light wind-proof jacket and a warm sweater. The weather changes dramatically on different parts of the island and as you move up and down in elevation. It can be chilly, rainy and/or windy at times, so keeping layers handy is a good idea.

5. The islands are relatively modest in style. You won’t see a lot of extra skin showing around here. Likely due to the sensible nature of life here. But when it’s hot, shorts or a dress would be fine.

6. Cobble stone roads and sidewalks in Ponta Delgata will completely wreck nice heels. Opt for chunky heels if you need the height.

For more details on what the locals wear in the Azores, check out this blog from What to Wear on Holiday.

The wardrobe set pictured above is very close to what I actually ended up bringing and wearing for 9 days on Sao Miguel Island in mid-October. The best part? It all easily fit into a carry-on bag, with lots of room to spare. Here is my packing list:

  • Two tank topsimg_2568
  • Basic white T-shirt
  • Striped sweater
  • Nice Cardigan
  • Gray zip-down sweatshirt
  • Wind Jacket
  • Hiking Capris
  • Black Skinny Pants
  • Dark Blue Skinny Jeans
  • Crocs Sandals*
  • Hiking Boots
  • Black Chelsea Boots
  • Sunglasses
  • Bathing Suit

After carefully editing my suitcase many, many times before we left for the Azores, I was shocked that I still did not use a lot of what I had packed. It served as a nice reminder that you’ll tend to just wear your favorite clothes, and the rest is just dead-weight that you chose to escort around the world. For more on packing right and light, check out this awesome blog by Travel Fashion Girl, with packing lists for cities all over the world.

A few things I packed and did not wear:

  • Sperry Topsidersimg_2264
  • Linen Dress
  • Two other t-shirts
  • Black long sleeve blouse
  • Gray Sweater
  • Green button-down shirt
  • Nice Blazer-Jacket

For our next trip, my goal is to pack even lighter and actually end up wearing everything I bring …. which means its time for Donald and I to plan our next adventure! Iceland? Ireland? Croatia? Peru? Stay tuned.

*You might laugh at my love of Crocs sandals**, but I promise they are the best $14 you will ever pay for sandals. They mold to your feet and have never given me blisters. They have a nice tread so I can hike in them, get them muddy and gross, and then wash them off in the sink with dish soap. They dry in minutes. They FLOAT when they fly overboard. They are virtually indestructible. And they pass as cute going-out sandals if you don’t look too closely.

**Crocs did NOT pay me to say these nice things about them.