Friday, August 29, 2014

What I'm Into (August Edition)

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for quick list of things I'm digging lately.  

Bookwise- Ahem. I've been reading like a crazy person with no kids, I just haven't done a single review. Which I hate. I love writing reviews!! So I'll get on that, even if no one reads them, I absolutely love doing them. Because I'm cray.

I am currently reading The Secret Keeper. It's good enough, but I'm incredibly busy and important (i.e. I discovered Fraiser on Netflix US...) and it's not good enough for me to ignore everything else and read it. I'm not crazy about any of the characters so far, but I'm only two hundred pages in, which should be a lot, but the book is over six hundred pages long. Ugh. I hate to quit books and I hardly ever do...but I might quit this one. Probably not though.

Next on my nightstand is The Expats, and as soon as I can get a copy from the library, Secret Place, which I am UBER excited about, obviously, because Dublin Murder Squad is the Coolest. I'm starting a club.  DMSitC.

In August, I read Ocean at the End of the Lane (five stars, exquisite book), Night Film (three stars- five for the story until the end, three for the writing and that ending), Rosie Project (four stars- loved it, perfect light read- although it looks like he's going to make this a series and I'm not too confident about that idea...) and The Enemy because I don't care what anyone says, Jack Reacher is Too Cool for School and I heart his stories and this one was particularly good bc it was first person (my fave) and set in the olden days. No cell phones!!!

Screenwise- On vacay, I was too busy reading those books, and we stayed out late almost every night, so I barely rented any movies!! That sucks.  We did rent Bad Words, which I loved, because I love Jason Batemen and I particularly love Kathryn Hahn. Did y'all ever see Afternoon Delight? THAT was good.

I haven't been to the movies in forever (other than How to Train Your Dragon 2 with the kids, which was good, but since I'm the world's biggest fan of the first one, it didn't live up to my expectations) but I'm super excited for Guardians of the Galaxy and I'll go see the Giver if it ever opens here even though it got awful reviews because hello, it's the Giver.

EW just did the Fall Movie Preview and I could literally put up a list of a hundred movies that I want to see, but I won't bore you with that.

I've also started watching Doctor Who. I know, I know. I'm embarrassed for myself. Why do hipsters have to ruin everything?!?! But it's quite fun. Campy and ridiculous with just enough sappiness to keep me going. That being said, I am in love with David Tennant (the tenth doctor, starting in season two) which is why I wanted to watch the show.  BUT. But but but. I loved Nine SO FRICKING MUCH that I can barely stand the sight of Ten. So that was unexpected. But I just started season three and Rose is gone (I LOVED her in season one, but then when Ten showed up and she just FORGOT ALL ABOUT NINE AND COMPLETELY SHAT ALL OVER HIS MEMORY AND BECAME A BIMBO AND NOW I HATE HER FOREVER BECAUSE HOW DARE SHE FORGET NINE) and I think it's gonna go uphill from here. And I'm taping the latest season on BBC so when I'm done with all the Netflix ones, I'll be able to catch up with all the hipsters.  Sigh.

We're also almost done with Parks and Rec which breaks my heart to even say.  What will I do in a world with no Leslie Knope and Chris Traeger?!?!

Be miserable, that's what.

Earbudswise- same old, same old- Killers and Mumford and Lumineers. You'd think I'd be sick of it, but alas- I am not. I'm also rekindling my love affair with Of Monsters and Men and stalking the internet daily trying to find out if they're ever going to go on tour.

I've been listening to Elise Gets Crafty a lot while I piece and press quilts, I heart her so.  You think to yourself, when trying to decide if you wanna have a listen, I don't have a small business and I'm not that crafty, what on earth is this gonna do for me? But for some reason, it works. It's some good stuff, lemme tell ya. Any other good ones I should grab? I used to love This American Life, and I still do, but they're so long and that's just not what I'm after right now. I still do love The Longest Shortest Time, I should probably catch up on all of those. I just get sick of all the mom stuff sometimes, you know?

Internetswise- one of my favorite new blogs is Coffee&Crumbs, have you seen it? I, of course, found it from Elise, but they're a few different girls who write. It's always deep and meaningful so sometimes I have to skip it because I just don't feel like crying, but I like it.  A lot.

I also still really love Jenny Lawson. When she puts up the search terms that lead people to her blog? I laugh until I cry every SINGLE time. I'm crying just remembering some of the ones I read last night.

  • “I don’t know what i just did.  I just peed on my favorite adult cats.”  
  • “I just cut five inches off my hair. how do i get my hairs back?”
  • “Why shouldn’t some cats play cards?”
I mean, WHAT?! First of all, WHY are people searching for these things? And HOW does that lead these people to the blogess?!?!

And then this, the greatest piece of the internet I've seen in months. Thanks Angela, this MADE MY DAY. If you're slow like me, you have to read all the way thru to get it, but once you do...OH MY STARS.  It's good.

What are ya'll into this month?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Drive Thru Europe: Switzerland

I'm not gonna link to the house because it was a construction site with studs and no drywall, but we stayed in Schangnau which is sort of dead in the center of Switzerland? It was GORGEOUS right in and of itself, but it was a drive to get to the few things we wanted to do.

But honestly, we could have just sat there looking at the mountains from our driveway.

The drive from Venice was brutal. Lol, it sounds like all our drives were brutal, and they sort of were, but whatever, we were driving around Europe for three weeks. A little perspective makes it easier to swallow.

The main problem was this AWFUL tunnel, the Gotthard Road Tunnel, which is apparently the third longest tunnel in the world at a hair over ten miles, and is one lane each way.  Winning. I am not exaggerating when I say we waited for about three hours, and that seems to be pretty typical. So, if you are planning your own vacay...plan a way around this.

We got there late Friday night, August 8th, and woke up Saturday morning for our twelfth anniversary.  Whoa. Hard to believe, right? Let's just blow over how old that makes me feel.  We headed down to Interlaken, which, after seeing these amazing pics on Pinterest, was sort of a letdown. So on the way back we pulled over to go swimming in Lake Thun, which was whatever the opposite of a letdown is.

Totally amazeballs.  That's what Lake Thun was.

Also, freezing fucking cold, THAT'S what Lake Thun was. I mean, it's a glacial lake, unsure what I was expecting. I figured it would be cold, but ya'll!! When I hit the water, it was literally so cold my muscles all seized up. I thought I was going to die. I couldn't take a breath!!! So weird. But as soon as you got out, it was fine.

Fine enough to go back in!! TWO MORE TIMES!!! Nick and Ava jumped a ton, Daisy and Warren let daddy dunk them in, and Scott stayed in the shallow rocky pool type area behind all this.

Then my dad and Payton left :( Which sucked, not gonna lie. But we soothed our heartache with the only thing to rival the amazing breath taking ness of Salzburg- the Brienz Rothorn Bahn. It was a train ride straight up the side of a mountain (literally, STRAIGHT UP) to the tippy top, with views that I seriously can't even talk about.

I am slightly bummed that all my pictures of Switzerland basically look exactly the same. Mountains over green fields or mountains over glistening lakes. That's pretty much it. But it was just so stunning. So absolutely, unbelievably stunning.

After Switzerland, we hit up the Black Forest and Luxembourg City on the drive back to London. I only took a few pics, which I should be done with by tomorrow. Have I told you lately how AWESOME this trip was? I had to run some books back to the library this afternoon and she was asking me how it was and I was like, you know, it was truly one of the most amazing things I've ever done. It was just COOL ya'll.  Seriously.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Summer Drive Thru Europe: Venice

I am straight up plowing thru these pictures. Having a limit (although a loose one) has really REALLY made the entire process easier. Ten pages, most pages with a single picture? From seven hundred pictures? I had to be SUPER picky, and once I committed to a shot, I (pretty much) stuck with it. This is going to change my life ya'll, I can feel it.

Dramatic much?

 We stayed here, in what might have been the best apartment we've rented. It was just in a PERFECT location. Although honestly, anywhere in Venice would sort of be a perfect location.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I was devastated to be leaving Salzburg, and as a whole, I don't like big cites.  Aside from London, the Greatest City on Planet Earth.  Obvi.

But Venice? Venice was pure magic.

I mean, it's a city built on the water. Literally. And it's gorgeous. And the weather was gorgeous and the light was gorgeous and it was just an amazing three days.

One day we took the 'water bus' (favorite part of Venice!! You can buy a one two or three day pass, we bought the two and then kicked ourselves for not getting the three) out to the Lido to stick the kids in the Adriatic Sea, because why not?

I got lucky with those shots above and cloned out the two people that were in the way. It was actually as crowded as all get out. Now, being from Guam and Hawaii, this 'beach' isn't anything to write home about. That being said, if you've got kids and an extra afternoon, I highly recommend heading out.  It was what, forty minutes on the bus? Then a ten minute walk (for us, we have Slow Warren) down to the water. It's mega shallow and not that cold. You have to pay for the bathrooms and changing rooms though, so come prepared.

So. Much. Gelato. Just now realized I should have taken a shot of a store, with all the bins of colorful ice cream. :( That woulda been PERFECT next to Daisy covered in chocolate. Bummer. Better go back ;)

The city is just indescribable. I literally can't describe it. There aren't any roads, it's just all water. Hundreds of bridges. Gorgeous buildings. Loud smelly people. Five dollar diet cokes. There is a SMALL list of places I would go back to (because our time is so limited) and Venice surprisingly has made the cut. It was just AMAZING. I keep saying it to Nick, "Baby, I can't believe how AWESOME Venice was!!!"

It just was!!!

We headed over to one of the other islands, Burano, home to the most colorful houses probably in the entire world. Alls we did was eat and walk around (um, that's basically what we did for the entire three days, pizza and gelato, walk, pizza and gelato, walk) but it was definitely worth the trip.

Side note: kids' favorite part of Venice? The fountains in every square. No, not gorgeous decorative fountains with horses and men and all that, just plan ole drinking fountains. #weirdos

While we were on the way to Burano, we also stopped at Murano, home of the glass making.  We piled into a heater (seriously, we basically stood in an oven) for a free glass blowing tour and it was pretty spectacular. The guide was SUPER friendly and pretty much spoke straight to Scott for ten minutes.  You have to exit through the gift shop (full of thousands of dollars worth of glass) and at the end of the demo that bald guy in a red shirt made a joke about donating to his beer fund, but other than that it really was free.  And amazing.

Grampa Matt and Payton went off without the kids for an afternoon (LUCKY) and we rode around on the water bus. Just rode around aimlessly.  It was fabulous.

So. There you go. If you have any questions, PLEASE ask, Venice is one hundred percent worth your time and effort to get there. I have about a thousand more things to say, but I figure some of ya'll aren't actually planning a trip, so it would be boring. But I would LOVE to help you out if you are!!

Next up? The Swiss Alps. Oh man.  OH MAN.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer Drive Thru Europe: Salzburg

Ya'll.  I can't even begin to talk about Sazlburg without choking up. I mean, I've literally (LITERALLY) been watching Sound of Music since before I can remember. I know (and love) every SINGLE word. This was a dream come true, one hundred percent, an absolute dream come true. I planned the entire three week vacay pretty much just for these five nights.

Ava on our patio
We (of course) used HomeAway and rented this house for five nights. The drive from Berlin was pretty brutal so the first night we walked two doors down to this amazing hotel (if you're stupid and don't want to use HomeAway, I highly recommend this hotel just bc it's right there and the food and people were fab) for dinner and then watched Sound of Music for the hundredth time before calling it quits.

The next day (Friday, August 1) my dad and cousin Payton landed in Munich and drove out to meet us. We set off to start exploring Salzburg right away, mainly so we could feed the Team (good LORD they eat a lot) and I could start checking sights off my detailed itinerary ;)

We also took the funicular up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, which I cannot recommend enough. The views were absolutely STUNNING and obviously my pictures don't even come close to doing it any sort of justice. It was amazing.

As a side note, we also all purchased the Salzburg Pass (Salzburg card?) which I reccommend.  Apparently a lot of these type of tourist cards are a rip off, but Nick put in some serious research and it was worth it for us. We got unlimited free bus rides, free ride on the funicular, free ride on the cable car up to Untersbergbahn Mountain (which was terrifying but also SO FUCKING AMAZING and a DEFINITE must do!!!) and normal people would get to go to museums and stuff for free too. Worth it.

The one with me is a view from atop the Fortress.  So amazing. 

This is the fountain from the I Have Confidence scenes!!!

The Love Scenes Chapel- everyone always goes on about Sixteen Going on Seventeen, but I'm a bigger fan of Something Good. 

The Holy Grail- the Do Re Mi steps. I died. 

In case anyone needs to know, the fountain is just in the main square of town, the gazebo is slightly underwhelming and looks nothing like the movie and has been moved to Hellbrun Palace (also home of the trick fountains, which were pretty neat) and the steps are (at least for me, directionally challenged) sort of hard to find in the Mirabell Gardens. There's also a pretty rad playground in the Gardens with a fantastically humongous slide.

Saturday we climbed back into the car for the two hour trek to Krimml Falls, the highest waterfall in Europe.

It. Was. So. Worth. It.

There's not much I can say, except if you have the chance, you better fucking take it. It was a LONG hike (we do have an overweight and out of shape mama and FOUR little kids) but we did it. There's eleven 'stations' or whathaveyou where you stop and look, and we all make it to 9 and then Nick and my dad and Payton and Scott climbed the very last two. It was steep and hard, but worth it. Oh so worth it. And everyone climbed the whole way, we didn't carry a single kid. (Read: Warren. We didn't have to carry Warren. He is the WORST. But he made it!!!)

Sunday and Monday were more exploring in the city and riding the Untersburg car. Sigh. Salzburg is easily the most gorgeous place I've ever been. The mountains, the building, the friendly was just perfect. Absolutely perfect.  I would go back in a heartbeat.

On the right, the trick fountains. So much fun!!

Another view from the Fortress

Y'all, this is the view from the living room of that house. 

Everyone LOVES Payton ;) Another  fortress view. 

This is the only Book Worthy shot I got from the top of Untersburgh :( Which, incidentally, is what they used for the final scenes in the movie when they're hiking to Switzerland. Not Switzerland after all!! Anyway, we rode a cable car up, terrifying but apparently perfectly safe, and you can see the whole city all laid out and perfect, but there was so much clouds, the camera just couldn't focus on anything. Also? Being ABOVE the clouds is sort of freaky.

Next was Venice. Now, I was NOT happy about leaving Salzburg, so I sort of thought that Venice would be a bummer.

I was wrong ;)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer Drive Through Europe: Cologne and Berlin

So I took about three thousand photographs on our vacay. Which is technically only a thousand a week, so it's not THAT bad. Except it's more like 5750, but after I culled through and deleted all the eyes closed and mouths mid-word and duplicates...three thousand. "Three thousand DOLLARS!!!" Name that movie.

Anyway. That won't work with my yearly scrapbook, and I wanted more than the Ava (or Scott or Warren or Daisy) on Holiday cutesy books I do for the kids, so I (naturally) ripped this idea off of Ali Edwards (who's site is down right now while she rebrands or something, but I managed to find this link to show you the book from the Artifact Uprising site) and make a mostly photos book with just a few words scattered throughout. Except I'm gonna use the 11x8.25 book because small books? Eh. My goal (hear me laughing?) is to do no more than ten pages per destination, giving me a 70 page book (I am AWESOME at math- or at least my tens times table) which I think is pretty manageable. However, it's looking like it's going to be ten SPREADS per destination...which is a 140 page book. Not as manageable.

ANYWAY.  All that ranting and raving to say- here are the first 11 pages. And hey, they're pages, not spreads, so technically I am under the limit!! However, Austria...ain't no way. Austria could be a 140 page book all on its own.

I was going to buy Ali's diamond stamps here, but I wanted more custimaztion and I was terrified (yes, terrified, fonts terrify me) that I wouldn't be able to match the font, so I designed my own diamond to use. I just saved the diamond and the horizontal lines as a one layer on a white background (easier for me to see) and then type in whatever I want in a separate layer using this free quicksand font and turn the layers on and off depending on what I need. If anyone is interested, and if that makes any sense. As long as you turn off the white background, you can 'stamp' the document onto anything you want, really.

First, the nitty gritty, in case anyone is planning a trip any time in the near future:  We took the eurotunnel because Nick really seems to enjoy that thing, and we couldn't find a place on my beloved HomeAway so we used a similar site to find this place for Cologne.  That link is tricky because it's the entire apartment complex. Our apartment was fine, nothing special, but not nearly as nice as some of those photos. We only had one night so who cares.

We were within walking distance of the Cathedral and the river and the cute little downtown area. Cologne was cute and small and very nice, but again, we were there for one night- we just needed to break up the drive from London to Berlin.


We got to Berlin Sunday evening, and we had four nights in this fabulous apartment. FABULOUS.
Although we did have to take the subways everywhere. And they're not subways, they're above ground. I'm not gonna lie, I was unimpressed with Berlin. Other than London, I don't really like big cities. I thought it was very loud and kind of dirty. I loved all the WWII memorials and museums and everything to do with that time period. I've always been interested in it, so I've learned a lot, so it's interesting. I never really cared about the Berlin Wall, so I never learned about it, so that was all very confusing for me.

There was a great pizza place next door, and Prater, Berlin's oldest beer garden, was amazing, and of COURSE I loved the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, but other than

However, this little gem outside the city? WAS AMAZING. Tropical Islands, an indoor water park. Pools and slides and a playground and restaurants...perfection. Worth every penny. The baby area was FANTASTIC, and I'm pretty sure the ground over there was heated. Being from Guam and Hawaii, I could have stood it being a LITTLE warmer in there, but it plenty warm enough. (Side note: I just wrote that I could have standed it being a little warmer. STANDED. What is wrong with me?!?!)

We cram a lot into our holidays because we want to see EVERYTHING and let's face it, we probably won't be coming back to Europe ANYTIME soon. So they don't usually feel as vacation-y as I might like. But this day? This day was like a vacation from a movie. And a good one, not like a Chevy Chase one where everything goes wrong. Although Dub knocked his tooth out within (literally) the first ten minutes.

So there you go, our first five nights. Next up, I have to cull the pics down for Austria. It's gonna take a while because ya'll... Salzburg was literally- LITERALLY- a dream come true.