Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Travel Capsule for Brass Blog

Check out my latest Travel Capsule post for Brass Clothing on their blog. Tips for packing, looking posh, assembling outfits and keeping your clothing fresh on the go. 


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wine Slush

You guys. If I was at home,  I would treat you to a romping post about traveling somewhere gorgeous. I would complain and whine and make snide comments and self-deprecate myself until you smiled. But, at the moment I am off, rollicking around the Southern Italian coast, drinking wine and eating pizza and smooching my husband and my sister, Maria. Right at this very moment I am probably drinking an Aperol Spritz at a nightclub in Naples and maybe getting murdered. Or at least mugged. Or I might be laying on the beach, looking out at the Tyrhennian, but instead of feeling blissful I am also looking at the size of my thighs and thinking about how much extra pizza has gathered in my hips. 

So as you can see, I am busy.

But, I do have a link to the easiest, most delicious little wine slushy. All you need is wine + frozen fruit and a blender, and cups, obviously. Unless you drink things out of your hands like an animal. In that case, skip the cups. 

You can find the recipe ---> <HERE> Layered Wine Slush Recipe

Chill out, drink a little. (Or A LOT)


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Word Collector, A Novel--Release Date and Teaser

Hey all, I am so excited to announce the upcoming publishing of my newest work: The Word Collector. 

It will be available for Pre-Order for Kindle on July 30 and available for purchase on August 5th in paperback and Kindle. 

To whet your appetite, and hopefully entice you to buy, please find the book blurb below. And next week, I will have the Prologue on the keep you salivating. Hopefully. That's the master plan anyway. 

The past has a habit of invading the present. For Petra, a linguist and self-proclaimed wordsmith, her own history  future have a way of blending and mixing, blinding her from the moment at hand. 

The past, though, is not a safe place for Petra. It is filled with terrors, with memories she buries beneath obsolete and archaic words.

Until the diary surfaces. A lost diary, discovered in a chest at the bottom of the lake. The book plunges Petra into the life of Nerissa Swifte, another woman that lived beyond the bounds of her own time, whose struggles and sorrows echo Petra’s own.
The more Petra reads about this woman of the past, the more she finds that her own history is revealed. 

But when all the painful memories are laid bare, where will Petra stand? Oblivious and tucked securely within the safety of her world of words…or will she use the truth of her history to propel her into an unknown future?
Magic and memories, pain and secrets all await her at the lake’s edge. And words,  glorious words—the greatest enchantments of all. 

from, The Word Collector, by Alexandria V. Nolan

Get ready to pre-order, bookworms!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Milano; Not just a delicious cookie

Ok, so Milan was totally rad. First of all, it was beautiful. I mean, devastatingly beautiful. I was made to believe that it was an ugly, industrial wasteland of car and clothing manufacturing--and, it wasn't. The wide streets and blend of neoclassical, modern and experimental architecture is a draw to the eye. Blended within these elements are sights like the Duomo, the Sforza castle and numerous small churches, all from different periods. Though the streets are made up of buildings from different schools of architecture and time periods, it all seems to...go together. With panache, even. 

We were blessed by the Gods in that the weekend we visited was a gelato festival, possibly the two most beautiful words ever combined in the English, or really, any, language. We ate probably the second best pizza ever, (the first is still in Naples!) at a place called, Piz, which is owned by the appropriately named "Pizza Man". Our other food hallelujah can be found at Carlo e Camilla in Segheria. A cool, laid-back industrial type space with incredible aperitivos and cocktails, where we also stayed for the tasting menu. The walls are bare, but glistening chandeliers twinkle overhead and everyone is seated family-style at long tables. This would probably encourage conversation and camaraderie, but our speaking-Italian is limited to,"Please", "Thank you" "I would like", "where is the bathroom?" and "How much?", and on a good day, "I am from Michigan, but now, I live in Texas."

My favorite of all though, was the Pinacoteca di Brera, a museum called, "The Italian Louvre". Mr. Nolandia especially liked the statues of the nearly-naked Napoleon, who is his hero and celebrity crush. There were a few too many religious paintings for my taste, a lot of suckling old-man looking baby Jesuses, and a lot of bloody martyr stigmata filled triptychs from old churches. I prefer the romantic scenes, pastoral scenes, nature...and really, who doesn't like a still life with apples and grapes and maybe a dead chicken in the corner? 

Anyway, Milan was tops. I'd go again. I'd stay a week. I'd stay a month. 


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Lago di Como

Lake Como. Let me start off by saying that it rained almost the entire time we visited. Also, it seemed...somehow less vibrant than Amalfi. Perhaps it is unfair to compare the two places, as they are wholly different, but...I mean, Amalfi Coast, you guys. This wasn't it.

There are several small villages, coastal-blink-and-you missed-it places along the lake, some with decent restaurants, others that are...not. Think, 80s love ballads (except the ones rejected by American radio) being played very loudly while you sit in a plastic chair and three Italians fight in the parking lot about the closeness of the cars and there's a lot of cheese on your food, which you never thought would be a problem until now when it's too much and your throat and stomach form an alliance against you and won't consume it. Maybe that is too specific of a situation, but...maybe not. 

Anyway, some highlights:
Villa Carlotta-- Tremezzo
Gorgeous villa named after some dead chick that didn't even have the best bedroom in the house. The gardens outside are lovely, with waterfalls and paths and lush greenery.
We spent our life savings here shipping wine back to the states. The barolos and barberas are top notch, the prices are fantastic and the cheese plate was worthy of a write home. 
This is like a...handmade and painted wood-goods shop? Think wooden trays and coasters and bowls all hand painted and ready to put on a table. We bought a coaster for the billion bottles of wine that we had just purchased, and also, strangely, a tray to "put our keys on" (this was a Terrence idea). 

Melzi-Bellagio This was kind of a mistake. When we visited this villa it was raining buckets, Terrence filmed me falling down a hill and there was no actual villa to go into, just gardens and very upsetting statues of babies riding dogs whose necks appeared to be broken. 

So, go. But really, I'd say day trip. Or, at least July or August weather.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bergamo Beauty

If pictures are worth a thousand words, then I've already given you 10,000. Bergamo is a small medieval town, (at least the Citta Alta, where we stayed) walled in and chock full of twisty-turns streets and pastry shops and mountains in the distance. 

Home of polenta, apparently, though my grandmother wouldn't approve of the way they prepare it here. Full of truffles and mushrooms and cheese and nary a red sauce in sight. We feasted though, and watched soccer with the locals and drank campari spritz and espressos and listened to the damn bell in the clocktower clang, clang, clang all damn day. 

There was an interesting historical map museum, with hilarious guesses at what lay beyond Europe, starfish-shaped continents with sea-monsters and what looked like naked ladies windsurfing in the oceans. Not very accurate outside of Europe, but charming, certainly. 
The interior of the  church in Bergamo is enough to give me back religion. Gorgeous ceiling painting and color and gilt and beauty everywhere. 

Beyond that, there is a sad ruin of a castle on the hill, and the funicular is actually kind of exciting and the local wine is spectacular. 

Bergamo-skimmed, just for you.

Final thoughts: go. There were not very many Americans there, if any, besides us, and though low-key, it was everything you'd want in a Northern Italian medieval city on a hilltop. Fine wines, polenta and all. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Switzerland, for a day

On our recent trip to Lake Como, we were bored. 

It was raining, and it had rained for two days, and I had brought a swimsuit for no reason.  My shoes were waterlogged from attempting to tour villas and walk through gardens. After visiting every indoor attraction around Lake Como, short of breaking into George Clooney’s villa, we were exasperated. Where was the sun? Where was my suntan? 

At the exorbitantly priced Bed and Breakfast Mr. Nolandia asked owner, yet again, what we could do that day. I think he had grown tired of us and our stupid questions too. There  just isn’t a whole lot to do in Lake Como when there is an unexpected monsoon season, after all, and he’d given the two of us every pamphlet on the desk. So, he suggested we drive to Switzerland. You know, no big deal, just drive to another country for the day. 

And so we did. A forty minute jaunt on a road took us straight from Sala Comacina on Lake Como to Lugano  in Switzerland. We were there inside an hour. And it was….exactly the same. Except that some people spoke German along with Italian and English. Lake Lugano was similar to Lake Como, the architecture was similar, the food was…exactly the same. The only thing that was different was the price of everything because Swiss Francs are stronger than Euros or dollars. 

But it was a different country, on a whim, in the middle of the day, and surely that was something. And it was drizzling here instead of outright raining, and though it was still cold, it was thrilling to think that in less than an hour we had entered a completely different place, while the people around me had only walked from their office to lunch. We decided to  stop to eat as well, hiking up to the top of a curving cobblestoned street, looking for a pasta place an Italian friend had recommended. We ate outside, as the rain had cleared and awkwardly eavesdropped on a Russian man tell stories about the Soviet occupation of Hungary in the early ‘90s to an Austrian woman, English being their shared language. 

Afterward we climbed higher, passing by a church that looked as though its only use was as a clock tower, and curving around the left, Lake Lugano sat below me, and all of the little houses and building were thrown around on the lush green of the landscape like so much confetti. 

And, that was it. It was time to drive back. But, of course, getting home couldn’t be as easy as getting there. The GPS would go out when our internet quit working, and we would get stuck on minuscule roads in a tiny car going the wrong way down streets that weren’t labeled at all. It should have been expected that we would drive around hairpin turns on the sides of mountains with no guardrails to hold my little car from tumbling down the Alps onto someone’s goat farm or some such thing. 

But, in the end, we made it back.  World travelers in a day. The rain had let up on Lake Como, and the sun peeked out. Instead of bored, the drive had strung me out a bit, and we both craved a little relaxation, which is what Lake Como is perfect for. We grabbed a bottle of Barolo from the last city we'd stayed in, brought it out on the balcony which was suddenly worth the extra euros, and pulled the cork. 

All at once, being bored on Lake Como was exactly what we wanted to be.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Milano-Bergamo-Como Packing List Kind-of

Does anybody like these types of photos? Not me. 

So, this is my packed bag. I really wish this post was going to be more interesting, news flash--it's not. People always want packing posts. "What do YOU wear? What should I WEAR? WHAT DO I BRING?" I mean, c'mon ladies.

I'll admit, I'm the kind of person who does search "packing list Milan", "packing list Portugal autumn" and I don't know why, because I find the packing list and I'm disappointed. Either it's written by a complete moron, sorry, or like, the biggest dork ever. 
They either give advice like bring white jeans, and this specific super-mega-awesome-boho-flowy top and heels! Because it's the fashion capital! Or, it's advice like, "bring your money belt, and pants that can zip off at the knee and become shorts and also a rain-resistant, fire resistant, pasta-resistant collared shirt that also can zip off into a wedding gown." It's bonkers, you guys.

So, what DID I bring to Northern Italy in May? Dresses, one shift dress (from Brass) --which, on my hourglass body looks borderline inappropriate-- a sundress, a cocktail dress, a midi skirt, a pencil skirt, and a bunch of t-shirts/ tank tops in black and white and a black sweater. That's really it. I like to keep my color options simple, so think:black, white, red (and a skirt that is black white and pink, because why not) and that's it. One pair of "dressy" sandals, and one pair of Tieks, all packed into my little wonder backpack and spinner carry-on that I discussed two weeks ago-in this post RIGHT HERE

But, here's the low down. If you see an Italy packing list for May-September, and it doesn't have at least three or four dresses on it, get the hell outta there. If someone tells you not to wear jeans, basically anywhere, GET OUT. If someone recommends pants that zip anywhere but up, FLEE. The best advice for packing for any trip is this: be simple. Think plain, well-cared-for tees and tanks, properly-fitting tailored garments that don't have to be expensive, and comfortable but stylish shoes. Like, Tieks, or Nisolo or, I mean, buy some when you get there. Italy and Spain are kind of known for leather goods and shoes, so when in Rome... or Milan, or Madrid, incidentally. 

Anyway, sorry, I'd much rather bitch than write a helpful post, but you knew that already. 
Go somewhere, buttheads. Travel, wear some cool clothes, whatever. 
See ya next week with some rad Italian pictures of probably buildings and wine and beautiful people that I'm not. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bathing in Barca

In Spanish-- and in most romance languages actually--they do not refer to going to the beach as going swimming, even if you are going to get in the water. Instead, they called it bathing. It can be a tad disconcerting  sometimes for  to someone ask if you are going to take a bath when at the beach, because, for Americans, this obviously has a different connotation. And, I have learned, it is because in the US,  we draw a pretty hard line between the two.

The beach in Barcelona is nothing spectacular. It’s a manmade affair, a remnant from their Olympics in the 90’s, but on a hot spring or summer day, no one is worried about where the beach came from, everyone is simply happy that it is there. 

On one particular day, I took the long walk from the Eixample, all the way across town, past the Gothic Quarter, and over to Barceloneta where the beach waits to be filled to brimming by locals and tourists alike. But, it is pretty simple to tell the difference between locals and tourists. 

The tourists are wearing tops.

Now, I wouldn’t normally consider myself a prude. In fact, I like to think of myself as a kind of travel hedonist. But when it comes to taking off my bikini top off, stone-cold sober, in the daytime, on a public beach…there’s just something about my mother’s disappointed face that stays my hand from untying those bikini strings. I think, in general, that most Americans have a little Puritan remnant lodged in their subconscious. Something that just says, what if someone takes a picture? What if my boss sees this? What if my mother sees this? And any ideas of public semi-nudity are shied away from. 

Not so the Spanish. And strangely, even on beautiful woman, there is something…non-sexual about it. Just women, fat, thin, old, young, all shapes, all sizes, all colors, topless and without a care. Sangria is served on the beach (because, of course it is) and strange men walk around offering coconut pieces and sketchy faux name-brand sunglasses. And no one seems to care at all that there are breasts, just, everywhere. In fact, as long as the women are European, I am totally cool with it too. Girl power! Making choices about your own body! Yay, Feminism! 

And it was here, in this setting, top securely tied, eyes on the blue waves, soaking up the Spanish sunshine, that I learned a little something. 

A group of four American girls laid their towels out near me. How did I know they were American? Because they were loud, obnoxious, and speaking English. Anyway, they started  whispering, then talking, with lots of gesturing and pointing, while I tried to ignore them. But after a few moments it was clear. They were discussing going topless themselves. 

These were college-aged girls, and so I felt sort of big-sister-y for them. Part of me thought, YES, embrace Spain! Do it! And the other, Puritan part, longed to slap their acrylic nails away from their bikini ties. No! Pictures will surface! Forget every career choice you’ve ever imagined!

In the end, I said nothing. Merely watched, fascinated, as one by one they untied their suit tops, and listened as they  giggled every two minutes or so, which didn’t help pull off the attitude of careless-not-giving-a-damn by any stretch of the imagination. 

I learned a little bit that day about my own American-ness. There is a reason we don’t call swimming, “bathing” and I think it is because bathing has a connotation of nudity, and our American sensibilities just feel…a little weird about that. So, at the beach, the only bathing I’ll be doing is sun-bathing, with my top firmly tied on, thank you very much. 'Merica. 

This article originally appeared in My City Magazine

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Viaggio a Milano

A week and a half in Italy. It's never long enough, is it? Whether it's one week, two weeks, three...we never drink enough wine or eat enough pizza. We never sleep enough or meander around the streets or sit in the piazzas long enough. But we try. 

This upcoming trip we are slated for Bergamo, Lake Como, and Milano. We will be meeting up with old friends, hopefully making new, tasting wine, gazing at lakes, walking, walking, walking and shoving gelato down our throats. (I'm going for a new record)

So, here's a completely incomplete list of things. Basically just a few items that I currently can't live without abroad. 

In addition to My favorite Backpack, this is the other half of my carry-on duo. I like the way it opens, the ease of the spin and how lightweight it is. It's hard side luggage, my preference, and it's international regulation size. 

Ok, yeah, it's makeup. Why am I including it on a traveling list? Because when I use the Boy Brow, it not only makes my face look awesome, it also means I don't need to wear a lot of other thick makeup. It brings out my eyes, is easy to apply and really does eliminate the need for a lot of other layers. 
And yo, if you want 20% off, you got it: 20% off at Glossier

Because I live in white cotton shirts. I have their scoop neck as well, and it will also be accompanying me. The organic cotton is grown in the USA and the shirts are made here too. The shirts are soft, breathable and I love how chic they look tucked into my skinnies. 

Nisolo is a bomb-ass company, base case. They work with Peruvian artisan shoe-makers and the shoes are high quality and well made. I have a few pairs, boots and other sandals and smoking shoes. But this sandal is super chic, has a tiny heel for a little lift, and are very comfortable. I'll be bringing my Tieks as well, of course, but these puppies are comfortable enough for trekking around the capital of fashion, and looking damn good in the early summer while I'm doing it. 

I'll be bringing a lot of other stuff, but these are the first, newest additions to the wardrobe that I can think of.  

Check out the companies I mentioned above and their products which I have a huge travel crush on at the moment, and tune in next week for more Italy and pizza related content. 


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Those American Thighs

This is going to be a weird post today. But it does have to do with travel (as promised) and it is something that has been on my mind lately, so, I had to write about it. 

Next week I will have a post prepared about packing, and outfits, and trip planning and Italy and gelato and pizza, but  this week I have something else very important to write about. 

It's probably the single most important part of my traveling experience. 

It' legs. (Flipping your fins you don't get too far, legs are required, for jumping', dancin', strolling along down the, what's that word again....STREET)

When we travel, Mr. Nolandia and I will take the metro in a pinch or a tram when we're in a hurry, but we are walking most of the time. We are walking an average distance of 12-15 miles each day of our trip. Sometimes more. Often times this is on cobblestone streets, or up medieval or Roman built stairs or sometimes, straight up a mountain amidst swearing and sweat.  If we aren't in good physical condition, then we are stuck on the motor coach tour with the rest of the quitters. 

We aren't ready for that. 
We will never be ready for that.

Whilst exploring, there is nothing worse than sore feet. Even if your legs can take the daily beating, feet are another story. And, excuse me, but I am not waltzing around Paris or Milan in trainers. Gross. I understand "tennies" are having a moment, but no. Just, no. So, as I've written before, I'm a HUGE fan of TIEKS flats, (though I do not think they need anymore advertising since they are basically worshipped in the blog/pinterest world) and have worn them religiously for every trip of the past two years. And to work. And to the grocery store. And always. 

If you've gotten this far, and you're still like, wait, LEGS? Is  that what we're talking about? The answer is yes. Because, you guys, it is important. To really explore a place, you have to walk it. You have to get the feel of the streets on the soles of your shoes, you have to figure out directions and look up at the buildings or lemon groves or crumbling classical columns surrounding you and feel your place there. Your feet should pound the boulevards(Do you really want to miss any Paris architecture?) and walk the bridges (there are seven connecting Buda and Pest!) and find your way through mysterious twists and turns of an old medieval city, (Barcelona's Gothic quarter is a maze of surprises, every turn, something unexpected and new) But you can't see these places from a bus, or a tram, or the metro, or even a bike. To be seen properly they must be walked. 

And if you want to be able to explore properly, and not for one day and then have swollen throbbing legs for the next three days, you have to stay in walking shape.When not traveling, we take a daily run up to Fit Athletic Club for cardio and weights, and then I spend a lot of miles walking and running with the pooch. I like to clock in about 5-6 miles a day. We take all of our vitamins and supplements, extra greens, etc. And a lot of that, honestly, is about being healthy for our next trip.

Traveling isn't all spas and pizza and chocolat chaud and waffles from a street vendor, though I've written blog posts about all of those things. But, I never would have found those vendors, that life-altering pizza, those Turkish baths or that creamy Parisian hot cocoa without a map and the stamina of good health. 

I'll close by saying that people always ask me how and why we travel so often. I travel because I am able, and fortunate and drive a very old and junky car.  But traveling takes a lot from your body. It makes a lot of demands on your muscles and your bones and your emotional health and sometimes, your sanity. It's stressful, and exhausting, but, obviously worth it. So, when I hit the gym, it's to make my body healthier for more enjoyable travel. When I choose clothing or shoes, its based on how well they will pack for travel. When I get a paycheck from a bookstore or from an editor, it goes toward a plane ticket. My legs might be a little bigger than I like, but they are strong, and ready to walk, scramble, hike, run, and dance around this world. 

Up where they walk, up where they won't see this B on a tourist bus. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Marinated Feta


Just let that word float around in your consciousness, recalling probably every good memory you've ever had in your life. Cheese is on pizza. It's all over macaroni. It's roasted-toasted on a grilled cheese sandwich. You can make it from goats or cows or sheep or almonds (but why?) and maybe from humans, (I don't know for sure, but I am assuming, but also, please don't.)

This year the Nolandians have been growing an herb/flower/vegetable/nonsense garden on the balcony. Basically, we got way too excited about the prospect of growing things, and so we bought pots and with no rhyme or reason, we are growing all the things. One of the things, ( or actually two, since we have two large pots full) that we are growing is basil. And while we are psyched that it is growing so well, we have like... a lot of basil. I never realized how much basil I don't eat until we started growing it. I like some on top of a pizza, or tossed into my spaghetti, or thrown in a salad. Hell, I'll throw leaves into my sun tea and then also make pesto for dinner. But, it just keeps growing. Continuously.

So I am always on a lookout now for more ways to use this basil. And recently, I found one. A simple, moron-proof recipe for marinated feta cheese. (Bet you were wondering when I was getting back to the cheese.)

Story time:
Marinated Feta
1 jar.
A whole hella-lotta olive oil. Don't be cheapy. Buy some decent stuff. Extra Virgin. And I like my olive oil like I like my men--from Italy. (excepting Mr. Nolandia of course. He gets a pass)
A chunk of feta. Like, a block of it. But make sure it isn't too crumbly. Mine was a little....crumbled.And it didn't bode well.
Herbs. +Now for herbs, I used as much basil as humanly possible, some peppermint and spearmint leaves, (because YOLO) and some sprigs of rosemary. I picked these herbs because I am growing them on my balcony and they were just languishing there, needing direction.

Fill jar halfway full of oil
Cut cheese into one inch cubes. Or whatever size. You're the boss.
Drop cheese cubes and herbs into jar
Cover with more oil
Let sit for at least a day.
Eat within two weeks. But make sure that the cheese and herbs always stay covered in oil, if not, bad things.

Anyway, I felt like f*cking Giada after I made this and you probably will too. The cheese is great on salads (yo, the oil is already there!) and it is PERFECT as an oil/herb/cheese pasta topper. You're welcome.

See ya back next week for another travel based post, because y'all, we are ESCAPING for the motherland!
( and by that, I mean, Italy.)


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

This Little Backpack of Mine

Let me preface by explaining that I had a lot of ideas for today's post, but none of them were any good. At least, I wasn't interested in any of them. And I have a hard time  writing about things I don't care about, which is why I would make a terrible rookie journalist. 

So instead, I have written about my book bag/backpack/small travel accessory. 

But, wait, wait, it's not just a backpack, it's a semi-magical traveling backpack of wishes come true. (Hyperbole? Moi? Non!)

It's true. We travel a lot, (See Here) and so I have gotten better and better at packing, finding the right bags and luggage, and keeping my outfit creation skills on point. We only ever carry on, (unless we are bringing wine back from Italy or Spain. Which, you guys, sometimes has to happen.) and so our bags and suitcases must fit the strictest of international size and weight regulations. GAH

So, let me introduce you to my go-to small, personal item bag. This is the accessory "purse" that I bring on board a flight with my small carry-on roller. 
It fits:
Quart size liquids bag
Make-up bag
Passport holder and boarding documents (tickets/passes pre-purchased for trip)
Purse (actual purse.)
Charger cords
Pens (for customs documents)
Quart Size Medical bag (ibuprofen, pepto, etc)
Snacks for plane
Some type of small stuffed animal. For good luck. and also because I'm a GIANT BABY
Basically, it fits all my stuff. 

It's important too that it is a backpack, because it is easier to run with down the terminals to catch flights and I'm not constantly having to re-attach it to my roller. Mr. Nolandia had a situation where his small carry on would just repeatedly fall off his roller, and every so many dozen yards we would stop for him to re-adjust it. No bueno when running to catch a flight. 
If we are traveling somewhere less savory then we simply flip it around to the front so no sneaky fingers bust into our packs. But, for the most part, this has been a non-issue.

Inside the pack there are numerous little pockets, as well as cubbies on the outside for stashing things. The zippers have actually garnered compliments at the airport, --"Those are some great looking zippers! Real high quality!"-- and really, they are. I never knew how much I appreciated a good zipper until I finally had one. 

I've had this bag for our last 3 international trips, but Mr. Nolandia became so jealous that he was awarded one this past Easter, which he used for our trip to Mexico, and we are both prepping to use for our upcoming adventure to Milan. 

So, the bookbag is from Everlane. (Does anyone else call it a book bag? I do. I actually hate the word backpack. yuckkk)
And though I bought both bags my little old self, with no freebies from them, I can offer you a discount on your first purchase. Just make sure you:
 1. use the same email to purchase that you signed up with
2. Sign up first thing after clicking this link. Or else no discount for you. 

Anyway, the bag is great and I love it. Every time I see it in the closet it reminds me of where I have been and the exciting places I have yet to go. Pretty cool. 

So maybe this should be a thing. Next week I will give you another one of my favorite tried-and-true travel accessories, and then you can either dash to the website and purchase it, or disappointedly shake your head at the computer screen and wag a finger at me with your disagreement. 

But, truly, the bag is awesome. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2016


So, this is Yelapa. It's a small fishing village which is  a very uncomfortable 45-55 minute boat ride from Puerto Vallarta. I wish I could tell you what lay within the jungles, behind the trees. I wish I could tell you about the beautiful waterfall that waits patiently for intrepid travelers to discover her. I even wish I could explain the joy and relaxation that come from sitting on reclined chair, just soaking in the sun and the endless turquoise and sapphire waters of the Pacific ocean as the waves lazily and rhythmically lap the white sand of the beach.

I wish I could. And it's not that words fail, and it's not that the undeniable marvelousness of the village is too wonderful to be described. But instead, I can't tell you about any of these things because I am a complete idiot who doesn't know how to read boat schedules. 

Allow me to explain. 

My husband and I woke up early one sunny morning in Puerto Vallarta and were asked by some friends to join them on a day trip to Yelapa. We looked over the existing plans for the day, namely, nothing besides a sunset cruise at 5pm, and we happily agreed. 

We rushed to the water taxi for the 10am departure. We took our seats and...then I threw my first fit. First of many. The water taxi, you understand, was pitched to me as a 30 minute adventure. But it is most certainly not. It is almost an hour. And as much as I love to explore, I do not, I repeat, I do not, like boats. Well, sailboats. And fishing boats, so long as they are a canoe or a row boat. But small motor boats? No, thank you. 

The scenery was beautiful, sure, but for approximately 5 minutes. And then it's simply the same scenery, for basically forever. But then finally, after multiple attempts from other holiday makers to ask the same questions, "Where y'all from? Where y'all staying? How many days you spending here?" (Blah, blah, no one really cares or remembers the answers to these questions), we made it to Yelapa. 

And it was gorgeous. I mean, unbelievably lovely. lush green jungle and terraced hills and dark, brooding mountains. Clear blue sky, white sparkling sand and water so blue and green and glittering that it looked like a screensaver on a computer. We were ready for our hike to the waterfall! We were told there was an old woman who made pie! PIE! Someone in a hushed voice said that this pie was the stuff of legends. Reverence immediately fell over the company of Americans assembled on the boat. Legendary pie, mystical jungle water falls AND this fairytale beach? It was almost too much. A holy moment, indeed. 

And then the captain, in heavily accented English, announced his customary spiel, recommending the bar over there that is owned by his son, and the parasailing over here that is ran by his nephew, and then...then he informs us that the boats return to Puerto Vallarta at...wait for it...Noon and four. 

That's it. Those are the only times. 

It was now 11:10am. Our already-paid-for, fancy, sunset cruise was at 5. We hadn't showered. Which meant, with travel time, that our only option was to literally get right back on the boat, and ride back. 

No waterfalls. No horseback riding. No soaking up the sun in a tiny fishing village. No PIE. 

So, as I said, I would love to sing you the songs of Yelapa. It would give me the greatest pleasure. But, I can't. Because I was only offered the most painful tease of Yelapa before I had to get back on the boat of discomfort and drift back toward Puerto Vallarta. 

Did I mention I hate boats?