February 24, 2015

A String of Snow Days

Last week I had an unexpected little vacation when school closed due to snow and extreme cold. I've been dreading the fact that spring break seems so far away which made spending last week cozied in my pajamas even better.

Pretending spring has sprung by brightening my apartment with bouquets of tulips has helped too...

I managed to pull myself away from my warm bed long enough to visit a new to me place downtown. Confetti is a trendy boutique specializing in all things cards and party fare. What started as a temporary pop-up shop has turned into a full grown storefront.

You locals pop in for unique gifts, cards, and party favors for your next celebration and you won't be disappointed!

I'm a total paper fiend and my stationary collection frequently outgrows its current basket. This place will happily fuel my obsession and I don't mind it a bit.

February 15, 2015

Oh Hey, I Moved!

Oh hey there!

Whether you find Valentine's Day to be cheesy or not I hope that you've been spending the weekend with someone you love!

We don't make a huge deal about it, but my Valentine always makes me feel special. On Friday he surprised me by hand delivering flowers to me at school. My kids were all oooh and ahhhh and I was grinning from ear to ear.

Friday night he took me out to an Italian restaurant that I've been dying to try in the Oregon District, Roost Modern Italian. This place gets rave reviews just about everywhere you look.

We started with some truffle fries which were good but we both agreed we fancy some kind of dip when eating fries.

For the mains he ordered the swordfish and I ordered the asiago crusted chicken on a bed of spaghetti with pesto.

Both meals were good and we cleaned our plates, but then the meal had to face "the mom test". I compare food in restaurants to my mom's cooking. I don't say it lightly when I say she's the best cook I know.

The food at Roost was good but it just doesn't pass the mom test. I know that my mom could've easily made that meal for way less money and it taste just as good or even better. Fine dining should match the price tag at the end of the meal. C'est la Vie! I'm glad we got to try it and though it wasn't our favorite, we had a nice evening together topped off with some Cold Stone ice cream.

Now you're probably wondering about that title...

Yep. I moved! When I've lived away from home in the past I've always had a roommate so this is a new adventure for me. Living on my own is something I've wanted for awhile now and the time has come.

The apartment is still a work in progress and I have piles everywhere so I'll show you the only thing I've managed to make look nice so far. I love the built in shelving!

This is my current situation since I have no living room furniture at the moment...but I'll get there!

I'm much closer to work now which I love and I am so excited about this next chapter in my life.

January 20, 2015

Travel on a Teacher's Salary

Last Summer when I traveled to Europe I became instantly smitten with world travel. Having a career in education causes some people to write off experiences like travel simply due to cost and seeing it as a luxury. But if there is one thing I realized by taking the plunge it is that you can make travel affordable no matter your budget.

You might not be jet setting to different countries every month or staying in pampering 5 star hotels on a teacher's salary but getting yourself to different destinations is not impossible.
biking in The Netherlands
playing tourist at the Louvre
There are plenty of travel blogs out there that talk about how to budget and save for an international trip. Some take aways that have proven to be helpful to me are:

  • Get rid of unnecessary expenses-  sampling pastries and breads from a sidewalk cafe in Paris or binge watching OITNB on Netflix? Italian espresso in Florence or daily Starbucks stops on the way to your 9-5? Priorities people. Cut out the excess spending. 
I choose Florence!
  • Research, research research!- when you set a travel goal research is your best friend. I love first hand accounts from travelers who have been there, done that. I scour the internet for blog posts and youtube videos to get ideas of what I'd like to see and do. It's also important to research the cities you're traveling to for site seeing deals. For example, in Paris the monument pass will save you money and time (hello no waiting in line at the Louvre!). A lot of museums in Europe also have free admission days.
I went to the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence on free admission day to see David
  • Get over the fact that airfare is expensive- I had no idea before traveling to Europe how expensive airfare is. My round trip ticket was $1500 and that was a steal because my tour company booked it. Just know when you're saving up that whether it takes you 3 months or a year to be able to afford the plane ticket, it's worth it. My favorite booking site is momondo.
  • Move money- I know there exist things such as travel accounts and things like that but I went simple. When I decided I was taking my trip I set a goal departure date and figured up how much money I would need to save by then. For me personally I knew that I couldn't just cut costs and expect to book my trip without actually seeing the money I had saved. I started moving money into my savings account that I specifically labeled as travel money. I added up what I could afford to miss from my paycheck and had that amount moved to my savings through automatic withdraw every pay period. By not even hitting my checking account that money was out of sight, out of mind and my savings quickly added up.
  • Apply for a grant or alternate funding- If you are a teacher then check out this list of travel grants and opportunities for educators. There is something available for elementary teachers all the way through higher ed. I've been looking into quite a few options from this list.
So, where do you wanna go?!

Here are some of my 2015 and beyond travel goals:
  • Thailand
  • Indonesia
  • Peru
  • Australia
  • Spain
  • South Africa
  • Stateside: Colorado, Maine, New York, California
Click on the travel or europe label links below to read more about my travel destinations in Europe!


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