Flashback Friday Travels: Hawaii

Aloha, happy Friday! September will be here in a few weeks and I’m so excited because it is my favorite month of the year! In preparing for September, I was reminded of a trip I took to Hawaii in 2 years ago in September, actually it happened to be on my 25th birthday, and I wanted to share some of those photos with you. I had the opportunity to travel to Hawaii with one of my sisters, brother-in-law, and youngest niece, at the time, and it will forever be one of my most memorable experiences. Not only was it so special to have some rest, relaxation, and down time, but it was just breathtakingly beautiful! I had always wanted to go to Hawaii because I am a beach/ocean girl at heart, so I felt almost paralyzed by my excitement to finally be able to go. We went to The Big Island and spent about a week there just relaxing, snorkeling, hanging out at the beaches, eating giant avocados and papayas, going to the farmers market, and driving all over the island. My sister and brother-in-law had rented a house with an ocean view and, because it was off-season and the rates were so much lower, the house was way larger than we needed for 3 adults but still so fun to stay in a big house. There was no air conditioner system in the house so we just kept the windows and sliding doors open at night, and you could hear nothing but the ocean. It was so cool and relaxing to fall asleep and wake up to the sound of the ocean everyday! I would go back in a heartbeat and you should too if you want a trip for nothing but rest and relaxation.

The views from my bedroom every morning!

Geckos everywhere!

Lava stone beaches

 

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Washington D.C. Travel Guide #2: Things to See on Your Next Visit

A couple of weeks ago I got the chance to go back to Washington DC for the third time, with a couple of my sisters. We had such a good week, despite the weather being hot and humid, exploring the city, navigating DC transportation, eating good food, and seeing some amazing museums. I thought I would share some photos from the trip with you, in case you’re going soon and need some suggestions of things to see. Make sure to read until the end for my food recommendations!

National Museum of African American History and Culture

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This museum just opened in the last year and it is a very popular attraction. You can get tickets online the day before or you can stand in line each day and wait to see if they have tickets available. We waited in line for about an hour and were able to get in that afternoon. This museum was so worth the wait in line because of all the history inside. We went through about 4 floors of African American history that began in the 1400s and ended in current day. The entrance to this museum is free and you should plan to be there at least a few hours.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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The Holocaust Museum was incredible but it was also one of the most weighty “tours” that I’ve been through. We spent quite a bit of time at this museum the week we were there and it was evident by all the staff who worked there that this museum was sacred. The history of before, during, and after the holocaust was shocking, because I never realized how long the holocaust had been happening before if “officially” began. It was also very humbling to hear the taped stories from survivors and what their families went through. I can’t even imagine living during that time because no one could be trusted. There was a Hall of Remembrance, at the end of the exhibit, that had candles by every concentration camp and visitors were able to light one of the candles if they wanted. Visiting this museum made me want to learn even more about world history and the things that no one talks about. While there are exhibits specifically for children to go through, I almost wouldn’t recommend taking small children to this museum. Entrance is free and plan to also spend a few hours there.

Folger Shakespeare Library

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The night we got into the city, there was a screening of Antony and Cleopatra at the Folger Shakespeare Library and it was a taped, live performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company. We did have to purchase tickets to see this screening, but it was a fun performance to watch.

Smithsonian National Gallery of Art

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Free art museums! Yay! I’ve been to this museum before but it was nice to go back through and at a different pace. There are several art exhibits consistently on display and plan to spend a few hours there.

Other Smithsonian Museums we visited:

-National Air and Space Museum–We actually watched one of the premiering showtimes of Dunkirk in the IMAX at the museum. The movie was incredible and had such a different focus/tone from other World War 2 movies. It follows 3 different stories from land, sea, and air and over 3 different time spans. While there were loud noises and explosions, there was no blood or gore in this film. I highly recommend the movie!

-National Museum of Natural History–The Hope Diamond is housed in this museum.

-National Museum of American History–Julia Child’s kitchen is in this museum!

-National Zoological Park–go when it’s cooler and you have an entire day.

Library of Congress

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The architecture of this building is just amazing!! We didn’t stay there long but we mainly just walked around, looking up. Entrance is also free at the Library of Congress.

National Archives

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If you want to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other documents, go check out the National Archives! Entrance is free but you will have to stand in line to see the documents. And just take this little bit of advice, do not pull out a water bottle or drink from a water bottle while in the building. You will get yelled at. No, it wasn’t me but it was a loud and tense conversation to witness.

Jefferson Memorial

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United States Capitol

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Washington Monument and The Reflecting Pool on the National Mall

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Lincoln Memorial

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The White House

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Potomac River

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Pitango Gelato

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Pitango was SO good! There were many Boomarangs made here because of how happy/excited we were to be eating such yummy gelato! We kept seeing this place recommended online and decided to give it a try one night. You should definitely try their gelato next time you go to DC. The first photo is Sicilian Almond and Chocolate, the second is Mojito and Crema, and then the third is an Affogato of espresso and Vanilla. So good!!

Founding Farmers

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Founding Farmers is an absolute must place to visit if you’re in DC. The food is locally sourced, fresh, and the wait staff is knowledgeable of gluten free options. I’ve been here once before and really wanted to take my sisters to experience brunch. We ordered traditional breakfast food and it was just what we needed for a long day of exploring. I have had their coffee in the past, also, and it’s delicious!

Rise Bakery

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What do you do when you have 2 sisters with Celiac Disease, a completely gluten-free bakery in DC, and a bunch of Lyft coupons—um you go 3 of the 5 mornings that you’re in the city. Even though the bakery was half way across the city, I can’t even tell you how worth it it was to go as many times as we did. This bakery has gluten free everything–bagels, croissants, eclairs, bread, muffins, cake, cinnamon rolls, brownies, sandwiches, cold brew coffee, etc. If you have Celiac Disease, or eating gluten free is just a personal preference, you HAVE to visit Rise Bakery and eat one of everything. I wonder if they ship to Oklahoma?

I hope you are inspired to go visit DC and that I’ve given you plenty of things to see and eat while you’re there!

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Flashback Friday Travels: Portugal

Next week I am going to Washington DC again and I’m really looking forward to seeing some new things this time. Traveling always makes me reminisce about previous trips, especially international ones. Three years ago I went to Spain and Portugal with family and friends and I thought I would share some of those photos on the blog today. I took so many photos on that trip because we went so many places but I thought I would just highlight some of the photos from Portugal. I would definitely go back to Portugal if I had the chance, it is so beautiful and colorful! I hope you enjoy these!

Algarve

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Sintra

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Pena Palace Sintra

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Jeronimos Monastery Lisbon

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Lisbon

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Maine Travel Guide

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A couple of weeks ago I took a much-needed mini-vacay to Waterville, Maine to see one of my oldest and dearest friends, Steph, the author of Foodie Thinking. If you’re not subscribed to her blog, you need to. Go ahead and click on over there, subscribe, and then come back and read this blog post. Steph is one of a few friends that have been in my life for over 20 years, so times with her are very special and like being at home. We had a few relaxing days of exploring, driving, shopping, eating, taking pictures, and basking in the occasional sunshine. I also wanted to share photos with you, as well as sights we saw and restaurants we tried out, in case you’re ever in these areas and need recommendations.

Maine has gorgeous scenery and we took advantage of the days there were sunshine by taking some long hikes. There are so many trails throughout the state, so you should not have trouble finding one near you.

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The Holy Donut Portland, ME 

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If you’re ever in Portland, ME and have a craving for donuts, you HAVE to go visit this cafe. Not only do they have some amazing flavors of donuts but they also have gluten-free donuts! Can you tell by the photo above that we were happy girls? We ordered Toasted Coconut and Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and they were amazing. We also bought a few other flavors to eat on the rest of the weekend, but we ate them way too fast to even think about taking other photos. These donuts are made with King Arthur Flour, mashed Maine potatoes, and other wholesome, local ingredients. Click on the cafe title to be directed to their website.

Tandem Coffee Roasters Portland, ME

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Oh man, this coffee was so good! We both ordered lattes and it didn’t take me long to finish mine. This was definitely one of those coffee shops that knows what they’re doing.  The menu was simple but the quality of the coffee was superb! Check this cafe out if you’re ever in Portland. Click on the cafe title to be directed to their website.

Mi Sen Noodle Bar Portland, ME

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It was kind of rainy the day we drove to Portland so we decided to have a warm meal for lunch. What better food on a rainy day than Asian food! We were going to stop by another restaurant but when we walked past Mi Sen, we decided to stay and eat there. I ordered Pad Thai and Steph ordered one of their noodle soups and it was delicious! There are so many gluten-free options here as well. Click on the restaurant title to be directed to their website.

Cape Elizabeth, ME

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After visiting Portland, we drove to Cape Elizabeth. The weather was still chilly, foggy, and windy but it was still gorgeous! There’s something about seeing fog cover the vast amount of ocean that just amazes me. We could see the lighthouse signaling a boat coming in and after a while we also heard the boat sounding the horn that it was near the shore. To me, there was nothing more quintessential than Cape Elizabeth.

Breakwater Rockland, ME

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The next day we drove to Rockland, ME and walked on the Breakwater. It was so nice to be out in the sunshine and the light made the ocean even more stunning. There is nothing like sea salt air and I’ll never get tired of breathing it in every chance I get.

Bagel Cafe Camden, ME

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After going to breakwater, we drove to Camden in search of something to eat. We went to Bagel Cafe, had some yummy sandwiches, and I was super excited that they had Udi’s Gluten Free Bagels. I forgot to take a picture of my sandwich because I was too hungry (which I noticed is quite the habit of mine, haha) but I ordered a Lox Bagel. Click on the cafe title to be directed to their website.

Camden, ME

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Camden was also a really cool town and there were so many boats in the harbor. I think it would be really fun to live in a town like Camden.

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I was sad to have to leave at the end of the weekend, but I can’t wait to come back and visit again soon. The weekend I was in Maine was certainly a time of refreshing and I am so thankful for the time I spent with my friends.

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I also got to fly in a Cessna for the first time with Cape Air, which I will probably do again when I come back. The views of the coast and the ocean were nothing like I had ever seen before on a larger airline flight.

See you next year, Maine!

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Master Packing List for Carry-On Luggage

If anyone ever struggles to pack for a trip, especially in carry-on luggage, this post is just for you! Over the last several years, as I have started to travel more, I have developed a much easier mindset and basic packing system so that it’s not stressful when it comes to getting everything together. I have written a few blog posts about traveling and packing before, but I thought this one might be helpful to give you a guide if you need some help. 

This packing list is adaptable for any trip and special occasion items (i.e. Hiking boots, formal wear, rain gear, etc) can be added to fit with your trip occasion. The photo and link listed below is just your basic master packing list for any vacation, especially when traveling by plane. There have been so many times that I have brought random items that I justified bringing by saying “you never know when you might need this,” only to never have used it on the trip and have wasted packing space. I really like having this list so that I’m able to pack realistically and compactly and so I don’t have to check a bag when flying, because I’m always nervous about my things getting lost. I have family members who have had luggage lost on direct flights so I just prefer to pack in a carry-on. 

Feel free to save this list, print it, share it, and use it on your next adventure! Happy packing! 

Master Packing List

***Click here for my Master Packing List***

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