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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

International Travel Tips for C2C Central

I don't have all the answers, but traveling abroad raises a lot of questions. Like, how much will the air on the plane affect my skin, hair, body, well-being? ( A LOT)
What are some things I can do to make things easier on my body? (Don't fret, I wrote a whole post on it.)

Rather than struggling through time changes, sleepy eyes and tired skin, take a peek at my tried and true tips and tricks to hit the jetway running, and make the most out of your troppo expensive European vacation. (Because ain't nobody can afford to waste time you could be chomping waffles or slugging champagne. Amirite?)
Take a peek at the article, and travel smarter. Keep your eyes peeled for the next articles in the series, *Tips and Tricks for International Fashion, and *Tips and Tricks for Eating, Getting Around and Generally Pretending to be Local. 

My husband and I travel a lot. It was one of the main reasons we were attracted to one another when we met, and the greatest binding force of our marriage still. The desire to explore the world, to see new cultures, to garner a fresh perspective on life and love and all of the beautiful smaller things that make up both of those things. To eat strange food and hear the gruff or melodious languages of a foreign place…these are the things that set our lives on fire. 

But, this wanderlust isn’t all roses and fairy dust. It’s a fair amount of tears, frustrations, break-outs, bad hair and nothing to wear to a swanky restaurant in Paris and not enough cash to buy something appropriate from a boutique. Travel can mean stomach bugs, and short tempers, missed trains and lost hotel reservations. 

It is with this in mind that I aim to give you my best tips for traveling internationally, over a few of these posts. Beginning with the first obstacle of the trip, that long, long, long international flight.

The long flight over the water can be torturous. If you are lucky enough to be an easy plane sleeper, then the international flight might not seem stressful, but it definitely still is for your body. The humidity on the plane is so low, that it will dry you right out: skin, hair, and sinuses. Germs are rampant on airplanes, and because of the somewhat stable pressure and environment, bacteria can live on surfaces like armrests for days. Which is one reason to always bring antibacterial wipes with you.  And if you can’t sleep at all on planes, like yours truly, then 10 hours of movies, or reading a book when you’re just so tired but can’t sleep can be pretty unbearable. 

First, to beat the skin dryness, bring a spray moisturizer I like this derma e hydrating mist for its carry-on approved size and for the easy application. The scent is pretty gender neutral too, so my husband doesn’t feel silly using it when his face is chapped. For lips,   Lush's Lip Service balm is perfect, apply liberally to keep your pout from puckering. To keep my sinuses hydrated, which might sound weird, but believe me, you’ll notice the difference mid and post flight, I bring a regular saline nasal spray from the drugstore. Adding a little bit of moisture to my body in the desert climate of the plane is hugely important to how I feel when we disembark. No one wants to get off the plane with nasty skin and chapped lips!

Next, for my hair, I always wash, condition,  and spritz with a protecting hair oil. Next, I braid it or twirl it into multiple topsy tails while it’s still wet. The key is locking in moisture so that your hair can handle the damage the plane is going to put it through. And, BONUS, when you arrive at your destination releasing the braids or topsy tails, and then finger combing them, will give you great, no-fuss, first day of your trip waves.

Speeding right along to a few other of my favorite flight tips that  have to do with snacks and clothing. Always bring warm socks, always dress in layers with a comfy zip-up sweatshirt or cashmere cardigan. Most importantly, for dress, is leggings. I cannot emphasize enough how much a quality, thick pair of  leggings improve your comfort, but also your circulation. It’s a little crazy, but wearing the tighter pants (while still being comfortable—don’t make yourself a sausage) will actually help prevent your body from swelling as much, working the same way as compression socks. 

Finally, food and entertainment. We never eat plane food. It is mostly constituted of chemicals, and it never tastes good, unless you’re in first class. So, when we are flying coach, we try to bring walnuts, almonds, dried fruit, and  soup bowls. When the flight attendants are circulating the cabin, we just ask for hot water, and voíla, hot food, ready to eat. 

And if your brain is hungry for something besides music or your in-flight movies, bring an e-reader so that you have multiple books to choose from. Might I suggest Wide, Wild, Everywhere  , the perfect book, in my completely biased opinion, for travel. 

Being picky about what we put into our body and minds in the air, guarantees a healthier, more exciting trip after we reach our destination. By taking the time to bring along the right ingredients, you will exit the plane glowing, healthy and ready to take on whatever adventure waiting for you. 

Here's the original post:
Feed the gypsy soul...xx

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Style Lately

Lately I have been so inspired by MuchoMuchoBuenoBueno and their simple styles. I've always been a fan of basics for how easy they coordinate together for travels + adventures, and bringing it more easily into my every day style is wonderful. Sticking with a palette of black, white, grey and blue jeans not only always makes me feel like a fashion classic, it also leaves me less stressed about what to wear. 

Adding interesting shoes like Tieks,  or my Nisolo add a little punch to any ensemble. Likewise, a Bueno Necklace or any interesting gem makes whatever you're wearing pop. 
Anyway, summer is ending, and I find myself reaching gleefully for my jeans, and dreaming of layering for our upcoming trips to Ireland and Copenhagen. 

jeans// Anti-Blue

Ready for Autumn...'cuz Houston is too darn hot! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Paris from the Top of the Tour Eiffel

Ahh, amour. Can the world of Paris be more beautiful than when glimpsed from the top of the tower?

Climb along with me today to tippy-top, and see Paris through my eyes. 

Link to the C2C Central article: 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Recharge Smoothie

Today's recipe is inspired by the smoothie I throw together every day for breakfast. After my barre workout, after my run with the pooch, I toss some bananas, pineapple, mango and Amazing Grass Green Superfood into my Ninja blender and pulse away. I usually add some hemp and chia seeds in at the end and give it another good pulse. What I am left with is a sweet, thick, filling smoothie that is filled with fruit, vitamins, minerals and satiates me until lunch. We also love the Amazing Grass in the  travel packet for bringing on all of our travels abroad and domestic, to give us a little shot of healthy food in between all of our exploring. 

As per normal, I don't have an exact recipe, but there's a basic outline below. Having smoothies instead of eggs and tempeh sausage has really helped our digestion, and also made the move from vegetarian to mostly vegan much easier. (it helps when food is tasty!) 
Anyway, as promised, here is the recipe..and give me a shout on the Greetings from Nolandia Facebook Page to give me any other smoothie ideas. K, thankkkkksss.

My Favorite Green Smoothie 
2 bananas, ripe
1/3 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
1/3 cup fresh or frozen mango
1 scoop Amazing Grass Supergreens powder
1/2 cup Coconut Water
1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
1Tbsp Hemp (ready to eat from bag variety)

Pour into blender and pulse until smooth. Serve in fancy glasses for extra swank.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Naples, With New Eyes for C2C Central

Naples. In my mind, this city used to be one of the most dreadful, ugly, dirty, must-avoid cities in Europe. But no longer. 

How to account for this complete shift in perspective? A friendship with someone who lets me borrow her vision of the city, and the opportunity to fall in love with it. Catch the article on Coast to Coast Central: Why We Must All Become a Little Neapolitan

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Return to Northern Michigan

Tonight the Nolandians will climb onto a jet plane and glide on over to the land of my birth. We are visiting my family in Michigan, and in a sense, filling my soul back up, as too long away from the Great Lakes State leaves me hollow. 

Truth be told though, I have been living, in spirit, on those shores these past months anyway. My 4th book, which I am in the process of editing/reviewing/getting editor feedback on, is set on Lake Huron, and chronicles a voyage in the 1820s between Detroit and Mackinac Island. I am so excited for you, dearest reader, to see it for yourself. 

In the meantime, we are excited to drink cherry wine, ride our bikes, and spend time in the lakeside sunshine. If you've never been to Michigan in the summer (or late summer) then you are missing out. It is easily one of the most beautiful and brilliant places on Earth. If you haven't yet, check out my article on it for Coast to Coast Central (Lake Michigan Summers)

Also, to celebrate, my second book, set in a real, spooky, Traverse City mental asylum is discounted on Amazon in both the paperback and kindle formats. Give it a read and find yourself transported to Lake Michigan with me. 
Shears of Fate on Amazon

Au revoir, meet you back here Tuesday for an easy recipe, and lookout for my upcoming posts from this trip! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nolandia's Perfect Travel Shoe

We travel, a lot. {Nolandia Travels} So, shoes, for me, have become a thing. 

Which may be commonplace for some ladies, (and gents..including Mr. Nolandia who has a vast + varied shoe collection) but for me, I've always been a leather flip-flop and cheap flats kinda girl. High heels, as far as I'm concerned are for the birds, and when they are worn, it is for short periods of time before removing them. 

But anyways, we travel. And when we travel, we walk. Like, all the time. We love our trams in Amsterdam and we'll take the Paris metro in a pinch, but mostly, we like to be out walking around, really experiencing the city we are in. 
Which was always difficult for me, as I was forever getting blisters and buying the special blister-skin band-aids and my feet were achy and getting cramped after too many days of non-stop walking.

So, for our last trip to Paris, I broke down and bought a pair of Tieks. I had read all over the interwebz that they were "Omygawd so great for travel" and even though the price tag was less cute than the shoes, I figured... I needed them. Mr. Nolandia purchased them for me and called it a mother's day gift, and so we justified the expense. (Those animals act an awful lot like babies. And Terrence is a giant man-child.)

Anyway, I walked around Paris for 9 solid days in those shoes. From the Sacre Coeur to the Arc de Triomphe, and everywhere in between. We were walking fools. And seriously, my feet never hurt. Not once. I had ZERO blisters. Band-Aids? Not for me! They looked chic, and since I ordered in red they went with black and white and blue and grey... and basically all the colors I packed. I cannot begin to explain how happy I was to walk all over the place, with nothing but the happiest, prettiest little red shoes!

Anyway, I have since worn them all around Houston, to Germany, to Barcelona and in Italy. They are my magic travel shoes. 

Which is why, Terrence, (ever the genius) bought me another pair for my birthday, and in a wonderful coincidence of fate-- my mother in law and sister in law went in on a pair for me too. I am now the proud owner of 3 (count 'em,  3!) pairs of magic travel shoes. And not a moment too soon...because we have more travels coming around the corner.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lunch with a View

Up, up, up through the streets of Positano is a restaurant that we will be dreaming about for years to come. It's not a large place, and it doesn't require a suit and tie, or a cocktail dress. It looks like a lot of other restaurants on the Amalfi Coast, in fact.

The same smells, the same chairs, table linens and local wine. But if you thought it was the same, you would most definitely be wrong. It's worlds away from anything.

Sitting down at the table, Terrence, our friend Maria and I were immediately captivated by the view. The window makes a perfect frame for what appears to be a dazzling sea landscape with startling blue waves, bursting bougainvillea, and bright swathes of greenery. The streets below swirling in and out of each other toward this high mountain-top restaurant. Our conversation falls silent because... what words can you use? How can you verbalize a sight this beautiful, this unbelievable. Except to repeatedly say, "It looks like a painting" or "this can't be real!"

But, surprisingly our attention is tugged the food that arrives on our table. The most beautiful plate of homemade pasta that I've ever beheld--and the taste is even better. A dish so simple, that I've made a hundred times myself, but never to this standard of perfection. It truly is a dream world, up here, so much closer to the clouds. Terrence is silent, except for the noises his mouth is making as he eagerly crams as much food as possible into his face. The only remarks Maria and I hear are, "This is the best day of my life" and "I feel like a King!".

Overly dramatic? No way. This place is really that incredible. Which is probably why it is so hard to get to, and so tucked away, and so difficult to forget. A little slice of heaven on Earth.

Our kind of heaven and food. Sounds about right.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Paris On My Mind for C2C Central

Hey there! Hop on over to Coast to Coast Central for my musings on the city of love + light, Paris. I have put together some thoughts on how to truly fall in love with this metropolitan landscape, and trick yourself into believing you're a Parisian. Click the link, and start dreaming of a trip filled with macarons and sweet summer wine. 


Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Girl + The Sea

Being born + raised in the Great Lakes State, Michigan, I have always felt a keen connection to the water. There was never a week in the summer that I did not find myself at some lake or another, and all of my fondest childhood memories were spent at beaches, tumbling through the waves with my family. 

My Dad often likes to tell a story about a trip we took up to the east side of Michigan one faraway weekend in May. We were staying in those awful (wonderful) kitschy beach cabins that have probably been host to all sorts of terrible things. But, to a child, they were conveniently close to the beach, and there was a bed to sleep on, so I never really noticed the cabin itself. 

Anyway, the water was still terribly cold, which is normal for that time of year in Lake Huron. The other kids were are all gathered around the beach, staring sadly at the water, wishing to get in...but it had been declared too cold. 

For me? If there was water, I was going to immerse myself in it. Immediately.  I strut right up, pushing the cowardly lot to the side,  and jumped in without testing it. I swam around and kicked my legs and did little flips and splashed, jumping in the icy waves. I got out, and although I was looking a shade bluer than when I got in, the other kids decided to follow my lead. After testing it themselves, however, they promptly exited the water and didn't try again. 
We found out later that the water was in the 50F range. Which either makes me a badass, or my father terrible, (or both) 

In college, I would go to a small inland lake near my house and just sit in the sand sometimes, thinking about life. If it was night, I would sit and stare at the moon on the water. Many epiphanies happened there, with the waves lazily kissing the shore. 

And then, this water. This SEA water of the Tyrrhenian, pictured above. It is stunningly beautiful, and influences every part of life on the coast, making up the culture and attitude of those that call it home. And I admire it, and I bask in its beauty, but I must admit... that I would take any lake in Michigan over an ocean or sea any day of the week and twice on Sunday. 

The water has always been a kind of second home to me, but it has to be the gentle, friendly waters of Michigan. But I DEF didn't mind bathing in the Mediterranean in order to realize that. 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lake Michigan for C2C Central

Lake Michigan summers are the best summers, the waves, the sand, the cool night air around  the bonfire...perfection. 

Check my latest article on the Coast to Coast Central Site for a deeper look at what is, in my humble opinion, the best place to spend summer.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Walk to Ravello

When one stays in Amalfi, and is cramming pizza and pasta and all kinds of delicious things into one's face....then one must supplement by walking to Ravello.

Ravello is a glorious city high up in the hills above Amalfi/Atrani. You can take a bus (and probably throw up. The hairpin turns around those cliffs are insanity.) Or, you can walk. Every time I have been to Amalfi, with my mom or with Terrence, we have selected a day, woken up extra early in a futile attempt to beat the heat, and walked the 3km or whatever it is straight up the crumbling Roman steps. 

The pictures above should give you an impression of what this looks like. The steps go on forever, they change in height and width constantly, and are definitely not up to code. Last time, on our honeymoon, the prospect of gorgeous wide-sweeping views of the coast quickly turned into hatred and bickering as the stairs refused to end, our tempers ran short, and our legs began to shake with abandon. 
This time, we resolved to have a good attitude, and what a wonderful difference it made. 

We laughed, we stopped to smooch, we took water breaks and pointed out lovely sights to each other...and I think because we are both in better shape, that the climb was actually less difficult. (Though, there was still plenty of sweat and leg shaking). 
We got to Ravello, toured the villas, Terrence bought Princess Alex a cameo carved by a local artisan and then after some hazelnut gelato, we got to, (you guessed it!) climb back down. Which may have been worse than up, but still morale was high, and kisses were given aplenty. 

Honestly, it wasn't the most glamorous part, or the most relaxing, but it was my favorite part of our trip. A little teamwork, a little attitude adjustment and some exercise. Adrenaline is good for relationships.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Amalfi Life Lessons

We returned. Two years after our honeymoon, we returned to the Amalfi Coast to see it with new eyes. For me, it was the third time I had graced the coast, and I was startled to see just how "same" it was to the past trips. It sounds cliche, but truly, I was the one who was different. 

We were a little sad to see how much more touristic the coast had become, and especially our beloved Amalfi. It was still a beautiful, shining jewel on the Tyrrhenian Sea, but now it was a treasure that more people had found, which made it...less magic in a way. 

But, it still held enchantment. We played in the water, and sunned on the beaches. We drank limoncello, and savored our lemon gelato. We hiked up ancient Roman stairs and through forests that tourists never even think about. We ate cheese that was made the same day we tried it, from cute little goats that live peaceful lives. We watched Amalfi sunsets, Agerola sunsets, and walked home in the gloaming in Herculaneum.

This coast in Italy is so much more than the tourist shops and the sorbetto. It is more than perfect pizza and fresh catch seafood and local wine. It is LIFE. Everyone seems so...happy, and unhurried and content. It is a beautiful model for life in general, and I hope every person that reads these words finds that kind of harmony.

It is beautiful and elusive, but if you look in the right places, it's waiting. 


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Parking in Barca

Park Güell. Yet another of our Antoni Gaudi architectural stops in Barcelona. The Catalan architect worked on the project from 1900-1914...when he instead devoted himself to La Sagrada Familia, which, as we know, as of 2014, still has 12 YEARS before it is completed. 

The park began as a housing development for the wealthy, modeled after the English garden-city movement. The houses were to be all gathered together in El Carmel of the Gràcia area of Barcelona. But, unfortunately it was unsuccessful, so it has instead been converted into a lovely park with odd Gaudi-esque rock pillars and flowers speckled throughout the property. There's a guardhouse and a central atrium type building, but other than that the site is pretty much devoid of structures...which is bummer city. 

Why? Because I really thought it was a English Manor House style housing development. So, to arrive and find nothing but empty land and bare bones rock pillars that look like the sub-par sandcastles I make at the beach was disheartening. I hadn't done my homework, so I was picturing an entire park of Casa Battlos. Le sigh.

But, the weather was fine, the flowers were beautiful, and I saw something new and interesting. It made one wonder what it would have been like had the idea taken off. And what would La Sagrada Familia look like if Gaudi's attentions had been diverted into several places. 

So, it is definitely worth a visit... but I would advise using my friend Patri's advice instead. She is a Barcelona local, and she uses the park for running trail purposes. Which to my mind, would be the perfect way to experience them.