Wordless Wednesday #30

Boston (April 2016)

Don't you just love how I take you all over the world for Wordless Wednesday? Last week it was New York City in the summer; the week before: North Carolina, in the fall; and now? Boston in the spring.

In April 2016, my husband and I went up to Boston with my in-laws to see my husband's great uncle. We'd been up to Boston dozens of times before, but this was the first time I was able to plan and actually see sights. We all went for a walk down the Freedom Trail, completely by accident. It just so happened that we were trying to get from point A to point B and the Freedom Trail was the easiest way to get their (assuming we didn't take public transportation). This walk was one of the best things I have ever done in Boston. Not only did I get to stare up at the city's architecture in amazement (how clean it is!), but I also got the chance to learn about Boston's culture and history. We took a water taxi across the river to our hotel, then on to Little Italy where we found amazing food, daydreamed in the park, and discovered history when we sought out Mother Goose's gravesite. More or less, for someone who had never truly explored Boston before (despite having gone up multiple times), this was the defining trip. This trip was the trip where I fell in love with Boston. Granted Boston and I still have a bit of courting to do before we get engaged or plan the wedding, but I certainly wouldn't be opposed to a return trip there for a delicious slice of their Boston Cream Pie.

Has that ever happened to you? You visit a place, don't fall in love, vow to never return… Then, you return. And return and return and return. And the place grows on you. Ever had that happen?

Live Blogging: 4 Trips, 5 Months 11/14/17

When I took my new job in August, I had no idea how exhausting it would be to have four fewer hours to get work done in a day. Ack. And so here I am blogging ahead on the weekend… Can't I have a Sunday afternoon nap?

Anyway, backstory, for those of you new to this series: In August I began a new job that provided me with a lot of vacation time for the rest of the year but very minimal vacation time for next year. In an effort to make the most of it, I'm planning four trips in five months (now, two) with updates weekly on how the planning process is going.

With trip #1 out of the way, I am left with:

Trip #2 – New York City, Trip #3 – New Orleans, and Trip #4 – ?!?!

Here's what I accomplished this week…

Trip #2

Luckily, thanks to TripIt, I realized that I was not just one night short on hotels for NYC but two. So what to do? 

* I had a coupon for SPG: Buy one get one for 40% off, but I don't have status with SPG. 
* Then there was an offer for Marriott: stay 9 nights, get status. 
* I already have status with Hilton, which I'm losing this year, but I knew staying with them would get me free breakfast and potential upgrades. Only problem – I wasn't actually interested in any of the hotels they have in NYC. :-/
* And then there was IHG which was offering 3,000 points to stay for two nights in NYC and 28,000 points for staying with 3 different brands within their chain before December. Despite rarely getting upgrades and free breakfasts, I knew their Intercontinental branded hotels are some of the best. We were using one free night for the Intercontinental Times Square, so maybe it would be worthwhile to also try the Intercontinental Barclay?
* Finally, there is Hyatt, where I could book a $900+ room for 30,000 points. Heated bathroom floors and a tv display inside the bathroom mirror for the win?
* We won't even talk about boutique hotels with their rooftop views, and large tubs.

Long story short, I booked the Barclay. It was better to have a quick decision without much thought and guarantee we would have somewhere to sleep than to spend hours navigating the pros and cons of each. Because there are a lot of pros and cons to each. And it gets overwhelming… Especially when you consider how big NYC is.

I still have one hotel to book unless we decide to do as my husband suggested and sleep in the airport our first night there. (That doesn't sound too fun to me.)

Because we are leaving on Thursday night, this weekend (the weekend in which I'm blogging ahead), we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off. We had a party on Saturday night, and we are currently making sure to clean everything, get more of our travel plans in place, charge our batteries, pack, make sure we are ready to handle Thanksgiving and Christmas when we get back, do all of our laundry for the week, etc, etc… 

To put it lightly, I am stressed.

Of course, NYC is the easy, fun trip. The idea is that we will do what we want, when we want to do it, and not worry. New Orleans is the one that I'm really worried about…

Trip #3

About all I've done this week to prepare for New Orleans is (re)book a hotel in dollars rather than points. It's a good thing too, though, because apparently when I booked the hotel with Chase points, the transaction didn't go through. It is highly probable that had I not tried to cancel and rebook I would have found myself in New Orleans without a place to sleep!

Anyway, I have so much more to do in preparation for this trip! Right now I have a thrown together Visit A City itinerary, but it's what they suggest rather than things I've picked out. Plus, the itinerary is for three full days when we will only be there for two and a half days. Argh. I hope that's enough time. (My husband really disliked New Orleans last time he visited; can you tell?)

Trip #4

I set up Hopper to keep me updated for flights to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I am so late planning for this trip that I am probably going to end up paying crazy rates. Of course, the alternative is just staying home for the holidays.

I guess the good news is that we are ticking off our holiday chores. We have a gift for my in-laws, a gift for my parents, the beginnings of a gift for multiple friends, and my mom's birthday present… Only a few more gifts to buy this year. Like 10? Maybe. Which, now that I write it out, sounds and feels like a lot, but hey! At least I've started? And it's not even Thanksgiving yet!


I am beyond grateful for the life I lead. I realize I am crazy lucky to be able to travel as much as I've been able to in the past few months. I know that I should count my blessings. Not everyone has a reliable job, family and friends to spend the holidays with, good food on the table, and a place to call home.

But sometimes.

all of my blessings stress me out.

Isn't that normal?

Wishing all of my readers a wonderful, joy-filled week. May your blessings … not stress you out. ;) And thanks again for reading and commenting. It means more to me than you know. :)

P.S. I may not post next week since my husband and I will be out of town from Thursday through Tuesday and then again next Thursday to Monday with Thanksgiving in between. If not, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving (for those of you celebrating) and/or a wonderful week. <3.

Live Blogging: 4 Trips, 5 Months 11/7/17

Backstory, for those of you new to this series: In August I began a new job that provided me with a lot of vacation time for the rest of the year but very minimal vacation time for next year. In an effort to make the most of it, I'm planning four trips in five months (now, two) with updates weekly on how the planning process is going.

With trip #1 out of the way, I am left with:

Trip #2 – New York City, Trip #3 – New Orleans, and Trip #4 – ?!?!

Here's what I accomplished this week…

Trip #2

Entertainment –

I keep following Billy Joel on Stubhub to see if ticket prices will go down closer to the event, but they just aren't. It's so irritating. The good news, though, is that by checking sites like TicketMaster and StubHub, I was alerted to an event in my hometown that I was interested in seeing. We got tickets the day before the event and saw La La Land with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. It ended up being fun, but not quite worth the money, in my opinion.

Hotels –

In other news, I'm currently trying to decide whether or not to book the Park Hyatt with 30,000 points. It's an $800 room (can be upwards of $1,000) with heated bathroom floors, a tv inside the bathroom mirror, and turn down service. In other words, it is an extravagant hotel. And for 30,000 points, a very good value. I typically would get a max value of $400 in a hotel room for that many points. The problem I'm running into is that I don't know if a heated bathroom floor is worth the experience. Why not use my 30,000 points for less value at a hotel I actually want to visit?

I was checking out the French Quarters Guest Apartments near Times Square and they look nice. While I'm not too big into Times Square, given that most of our activities will be in Manhattan, it seems like a good location. Plus, the hotel is very boutique-like. I love how each room is styled in a unique way, and they serve croissants as part of their continental breakfast. I mean – I can get a good breakfast on the cheap in Chinatown in NYC ($5 or less), but there is something about waking up to breakfast at your hotel and not having to worry about finding it. Plus, there is no shortage of good food in NYC, anyway. So, should I?

I considered booking both, but the French Quarters costs more than the Millennium Hotel (Hilton brand) that I booked back in September. And, if I wanted to change dates, the Millenium Hotel has gone up in price by more than $100! So maybe I keep that room and just pick one of the others. I can always come back to NYC. It's not like I will eventually run out of things to do there! (Decisions, decisions.)

Food –

One of the things I most interested in exploring in NYC is the food. I recently learned of rainbow bagels with glitter on them served with cream cheese that has sprinkles inside. I'm not really a fan of NYC bagels, but Instagram fads? Reasons to take my camera for a stroll? ABSOLUTELY.

Also, brioche ice cream sandwiches. I mean – who would have thought?

I tried to find some other food fads to try, specifically something more savory, but nothing has come to mind. Maybe dim sum? It's not really a current food fad, but I've never had it. Or the Chinese-style hot pot?

Shopping –

In searching for food fads, I did discover that I could check out C.O. Bigelow, a pharmacy with products from all over the world. Definitely intriguing. And maybe I'll get the chance to finally explore B&H, a used camera store.

My husband and I will be exploring NYC just before Thanksgiving, so we are trying to figure out where to go and what to bring back to our families for the big feast. Surely there is something Italian, German, French, Chinese, etc… that Georgia doesn't have. I mean, Georgia doesn't have much in the way of unique foods, anyway. Maybe babka?

Trip #3

For my New Orleans trip, I've actually gotten quite a bit more accomplished since last week. Two more hotels booked and a few restaurants added to my list.

Hotels –

First up, Hotel Monteleone with the carousel bar, a must-visit while we are in New Orleans. 

Then, The Pontchartrain, in the Garden District. It just looked pretty.

I momentarily considered the Loew's hotel, but ultimately decided against it. *shrugs*

Food –

Obviously, Cafe du Monde is on the short list, but I watched an Emeril Lagasse youtube video on New Orleans and he recommends both one of his flagship restaurants (Meril) and a po-boy favorite, Domilise's Po-Boys. Does anybody that reads my blog have opinions on these?

Finally, Trip #4

We discovered we have car insurance due in December as well as an expensive credit card fee. (Is the card worth keeping a second year? We need to determine that.) Anyway, the point is: we keep cutting back on how much of a trip we should take in December. Should we drive? Will the roads be bad? But I want to see a beach. Y'know. The usual.

But hey! Despite how much time I've spent on Google Flights lately, I still am quite proud of the decisions I have made! Forward moving (and still blogging) for the win!

(We also snuck another leaf-peeping trip in this past weekend as we went in search of Christmas gifts and pretty fall colors. Who doesn't love this time of year? Also, yay for getting Christmas shopping done early!)

Anyway, enough of me. Let's talk about you. How's life? What's up? Are you counting down the days to Thanksgiving? Fighting personal battles as you get through NaNo? Eating lots of apples and leaf-peeping? Getting your Christmas shopping done early?

3-in-1 USB

You know how you can't go anywhere without your backup phone charger? I recently received another must-have phone accessory: a 3-in-1 USB to review.

What is it? It's basically a thumb drive that will plug into your cell phone, tablet, AND computer.

How does it work? There is a small button in the center that you can use to push out either the USB portion or the micro-USB portion. If you are plugging the drive into your phone or tablet, you will need to download the i-USB-Storer app with which you will use to upload your images to the 3-in-1. Depending on what size phone you have, how many images you've taken, and how big your drive is, this could take a while … or not long at all. When I uploaded more than 25gb onto my 60gb flash drive, it took about an hour, which is significantly less time than it took to try and upload my files to DropBox via my phone and internet connection! (Can you imagine being on vacation, running out of room on your phone, and having to wait for multiple hours for your files to upload so that you can take more?!?!)

After you are done uploading, you can use the USB port to plug your drive into your laptop. You click on your drive and bam! All of your files are magically there. From that point on, you can move files, delete files, etc… It's all up to you!

Of course, images aren't the only thing the 3-in-1 is capable of handling. Think docs, audio, and video.

And it's so easy!

Granted, I had no idea what it was when I got it, but now I don't know how I ever lived without it!

What are some of your favorite phone accessories? Are there any you can't imagine living without?

* I received a 3-in-1 USB in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

IWSG #10

At the beginning of every month, as part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, I take a look at my successes (not just in writing), share the ways I hope to improve in the next month, answer the IWSG question of the month, and provide inspiration (if I have any).

October Goals
Finish planning for Boston road trip (October)
Work on travel plans for NYC in November
Plan for New Orleans road trip
Decide and work on travel plans for Christmas trip
Talk to dent guy about getting my car fixed
Get safety recall problem fixed.
Apply for Hilton credit card.

Other Successes –

✓ replaced my broken camera lens.

November Goals –
• Get car dents fixed.
• finish planning for NYC
• finish planning for New Orleans
• figure out December travel

IWSG Question: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

I've never participated in NaNo, but I have participated in April A-Z. I feel like these projects are very similar. Both are heavy with writing and both have to be finished within a month. The biggest difference, I think, is that one can be completed over the several months prior (April A-Z) while the other is more about how much you accomplish during one particular month. Given how badly I'm sucking at blogging recently, I can't even imagine taking on a writing project that should be completed during the month. It's much easier for me to think and plan and put together everything (pictures, writing) a few months in advance to be published during a particular month than it would be for me to come up with a plan and not start working on it until November with the goal of being done by the end of the month. Throw Thanksgiving in there and AHHH! You NaNo guys and gals have my utmost respect. <3.

Your Turn

Are you participating in NaNo this month? Have you ever taken on a monthly writing challenge and been successful (whatever that means to you) with it? What advice would you give to someone who is challenging themselves to complete something over the course of the month?

Click here to learn more and
link up with IWSG!