January 28, 2014

Family Adventure: Australia!

by Shelly

I’m alive, yes…I’m alive!  I fell off the face of the Earth there for a while.  After five years of blogging I seemed to have run out of steam this last year.  With work and daily life, I found blogging to be a chore for a while, that I wasn’t really sure was paying off in any way.  And to be honest, I was breaking down in more ways than one.  Stress can be a bitch like that and I am VERY affected when I’m overloaded unfortunately.  I probably need to meditate more or do yoga…something.  For now I’ll stick with drinking red wine to de-stress! haha!

So, here we are twenty-seven days into 2014! Happy New Year a bit late everyone.  The holidays were crazy busy, but our little family spent some great time together that was very needed.  And right after the holidays we took off on a major trip of a lifetime.  We went to Australia!  The hubs had to go for a work function and since he had done a semester abroad there some 20 years ago, he was aching to go back and show me the country he fell in love with.  It took some work to figure out the logistics, but we spent two fabulous weeks together.  We even brought our six year old along!  We didn’t want her to miss out on this possible once in a lifetime opportunity, so we worked out independent study with her school so she wouldn’t fall behind.

The first week we spent in Sydney where the Mr. had his work event. He was able to join us for a couple days of sightseeing, but then it was just Ellie and I tooling around the city and exploring.  It was tough mapping out Sydney alone with a kiddo, but we did it and really bonded in the process.

{view from the Sydney Tower}

{manly beach}

{sydney opera house}

Sydney is a beautiful, clean city.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it was a lot prettier than I had imagined it would be.  Litter is scarce, there is very little graffiti, the air is clean, the water is crystal clear and you can just tell that Australians are full of pride for their city.  Such a refreshing thing coming from dirty ol’ So Cal!  But word to the wise, it is EXPENSIVE! Eating out was our only option since we stayed in a hotel the first week and the meals really added up.  It’s something you just have to get over, which isn’t easy. But if you let it continue to bother you, it can really dampen your spirits.

Some highlights while were in Sydney:

*Ventuno Pizzeria Enoteca Birreria for the Sunday pizza and beer/wine special for $20. Legit, Italian pizza and a beautiful view!

*Sydney Aquarium and Wildlife World. Ellie loved it and so did we! So many animals, reptiles, fish, etc. that we had never heard of before.  We’re all big nature lovers, so this was a highlight for us all.

*Tumbalong Park…quite possible THE coolest children’s playground ever! Great climbing equipment, zipline, tire swing, huge slides and a little water play area.

*Ferry ride to Manly Beach for the great views and a very pretty beach.

*Bondi Beach…great beach, great shopping

*Sydney Tower for the fabulous views over the whole city!

After the hubs wrapped up his work obligations in Sydney, we headed to Brisbane to spend time on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.  Our first stop after we landed in Brisbane was the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, so Ellie could snuggle a koala and we could feed kangaroos. SUCH a cool experience!

{surfers’ paradise}

The last week we spent solely in Noosaheads, which is about an 1 3/4 hrs from Brisbane.  I cannot express enough how magical this part of Australia is. Nature everywhere!!  I’m a big bird watcher dork and this place was just filled with parrots, pelicans, and the like. I’ve never seen a place with so many different types! And then there were the lizards and flying foxes aka GIANT FREAKING BATS, the different types of jelly fish and the various sharks that roam the waters in the area (which luckily we never saw). We even caught glipses of koalas in the trees during one of our hikes and kangaroos just lounging on someones’ front lawn as we drove by. Awesome!!

{our kangaroo buddies we drove by one evening}

All in all it was probably the best family trip we’ve taken together. Australia is a country not to be missed! The 15 hour flight there is long, but it goes by quickly with meals, sleeping and after watching a few movies.

Some Queensland highlights (Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast):

*Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

*Burger Bar in Noosaville for the very unAmerican and very Australian version of the hamburger. Their chicken “burgers” are out of this world good too!

*Jojo in Noosa for cute dresses and accessories.

*Noosa National Park

*Nitrogenie in Noosa for the most AMAZING ice cream. Get the salted caramel popcorn.

*Golden Breed…rent a surfboard and get in the water! The surfing is great and the water is warm and clean.

*Spirit House Restaurant in nearby Yandina. Amazing Thai food and I thought I didn’t like Thai! Get the crispy fish and the coconut soup with salmon. TO DIE FOR!

I hope to blog on a more regular basis this year! Can’t make any promises, but I’m going to do my best. See you soon!

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November 14, 2013

In Flight

by Shelly

Last weekend was my fabulous hubbys’ big 4-0!  Since it’s been quite a while (four years to be exact) since we’ve taken a proper vaca, I decided to spoil my hardworking boy with a trip to Hawaii!  We’ve been to Maui and Oahu before, but we were looking for something a bit more laid back and the Big Island was definitely on our list of must sees.  So we decided to include our six year old Ellie and we headed to Kona for some much….MUCH…needed R and R.


We’ve done our fair share of airplane travel over the years and with the holidays coming up, I know many of you will be flying around the country to see loved ones.  So, I thought I would share some of the items that have made my time in the air much more comfortable.

1. First things first. Before I even leave the house for the airport I use a high level face sunscreen, since the suns’ rays are fierce up in an airplane! Then I lather with a fairly thick cream.  Yes, I know this is technically a night cream, but hear me out. That plane is DRY!! And my regular day cream just gets sucked up.  I don’t use a lot of this, just enough to be a bit more than usual. My face stays pretty well hydrated the whole trip!

2. Sleeping on a plane….SUCKS!!!! It’s loud, the seats are uncomfortable, you’ve got a stinky…large…snoring man sitting next to you. Whatever.  It’s not that easy. We use to take a sleeping pill which actually worked wonders, but I’ve started to back away from that since I don’t like being completely knocked out in case of an emergency or something.  So this trip I went all out and bought a few things to make sleeping more comfortable for us. The eye mask ended up being AWESOME and really helped to make me feel like I was in my own dark bedroom at home.

The neck pillow was one of the best ones I’ve ever used. The fabric was nice and soft and not too hot. And I also liked how you could adjust the air to get it just right to your own liking. Along with the travel blanket I was a happy camper. The blanket actually is LONG and covered me from neck to my toes.  There are two pockets at the bottom you can actually put your feet into as well. I was very cozy.

3. Since we live about 5 miles from the ocean I am use to more moisture than normal.  I really, really dry out in airplanes or anywhere with a lower humidity level actually!  This Moisturizing Face Spray is wonderful for mid-flight mists. My husband even likes it.  It has a nice subtle scent and it just refreshes you when you start to dry out and feel zapped of moisture.

4. This trip I brought my everyday water bottle. This bottle goes with my EVERYWHERE! No joke. I realized a few months ago I wasn’t drinking enough water and it keeps me away from sodas and other sugary or calorie full drinks. My daughter and I each brought our water bottles filled up to the airport and we made sure to drink it up before we reached the security check point.  We just dumped the last few drops out, so TSA wouldn’t give us any problems. Once we got through the check point, we filled them up at the water fountain.

5. I’m a clean freak. Borderline OCD at times….and I’m not ashamed of it. :)  Airplane germs gross me out beyond belief.  And after reading more about what types of germs are actually on a plane and where they are hiding, well I decided that I needed to cleanse my seating area as much as possible.  First thing I do when I get to my airplane is seat is whip out these bad boys and wipe EVERYTHING down! I unfold all our tray tables and wipe them down, I clean the arm rests and the seat belt bucket all over, I clean around the side of the plane where the window is and my little one likes to sit and I wipe down the outside of the seat pocket. It takes me about a minute or two. No biggie and I feel better about not picking up some nasty germ.

6. After being on a long flight sleeping with my mouth open (sexy I know) and eating lots of snacks and maybe a meal or two, my breath is probably not the freshest. I could always just pop some gum in my mouth, but that’s only a temporary fix. These little Crest Wisps are a lifesaver for being able to brush my scummy teeth, freshen my breath and not even have to even get out of my seat to do so.


So there you have it! My must have take alongs that make my flying experience a whole lot nicer. Do you have anything that you like to bring along? Please share, I love to get new ideas.


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October 9, 2012

Santa Cruz Getaway

by Shelly

Unlike most families we were not able to take a vacation over the summer. Work was crazy for both the hubs and I and we had obligations almost every weekend it seemed. Fortunately our daughter goes to a year round school and they had a mini break the first week of October. So we took the opportunity to unwind and unplug for a bit and headed to a friends’ beach house in Santa Cruz.

My husband spent many of his summers there as a child and he had been wanting to take me for years now.  I haven’t seen much of the California coast past Morro Bay, so I was excited for the adventure.

The little beach cottage we stayed at was a small block from this beach. Every morning and evening we would take the dog down for a stroll. Sooo relaxing and beautiful!  You can see the Santa Cruz boardwalk way in the distance to the right….

We stayed in the Seabright neighborhood of Santa Cruz which is home to many old beach cottages and Victorian styled homes. I couldn’t get over the HUGE hydrangea bushes in everyones’ yards! LOVE!

As we walked over this old train track bridge to enjoy the boardwalk one day, my husband reminded me that Lost Boys was filmed here!  I had totally forgotten and being a huge 80s dork and vampire enthusiast…I was pretty thrilled. :)

Do you remember this scene from the flick?

Classic 80s.

The boardwalk was touristy, but actually very retro cool.  And Ellie really enjoyed herself.

The treats weren’t so bad either!

It was a lovely getaway and I’m sure we’ll be back in the future.

Because you just can’t beat views like this…..

On our long drive back home, Ellie kept telling us how she wasn’t ready to go home and she wasn’t tired and she wanted to go surfing again…on and on and on.

Suddenly, it got quiet.

I looked back and died laughing when I saw this….

What was that about not being tired???

It was a good getaway. :)



March 17, 2010

Happy St. Pattys Day!

by Shelly

I love St. Patrick’s Day! Green happens to be one of my fav colors, I love Irish beer, Leprechauns are funny and Ireland is across the water from my fav country…Scotland! Hee hee! 

But seriously, every year the thought of corned beef and cabbage just makes me drool. I absolutely love it and it reminds me of my childhood. So of course I have a pot of corned beef brisket simmering away on the stove until this evening when it will just fall apart and be absolutely yummy! Also, this year I attempted Irish Soda Bread..we’ll see how that turns out this evening when we have some with dinner.

Ireland has a soft spot in my heart since it was part of our 1 year wedding anniversary trip back in 2005. I had never been across the pond before and well, being an anglophile…this was a problem! My husband lived in London for a short time on a study abroad right after college. So of course he felt it was his duty to show his girl where he had spent some time in his younger years and tell me all the funny stories of his time there.

I could go on and on about that memorable trip. It seriously was a life changer for me. We even took a very long train ride to Aberdeen, Scotland to see where my family is from and my family castle. Well, if you can call it a castle. But hey, how many people can say they have one of those in their fam right?!

The ferry ride over to Northern Ireland…of course we’re drinking beer!

From Scotland we took the ferry ride over to Northern Ireland…. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! Northern Ireland not the ferry ride.  We were told things were calm, safe and totally normal while we were there. Well, I guess so, but I will say that we got quite a few looks when we would walk back to our bed and breakfast every day which happened to be in the Catholic part of town.

We got a major history lesson taking a taxi ride tour of the murals around Belfast. By the end we were still not sure who was right, who was wrong…it all just seemed like a waste of time and energy fighting. 
From Belfast we took another longish train ride down to Dublin which was where we were going to end our trip, spend our actual anniversary night at, and fly home from. We were pretty much exhausted from our two week travels. By the time we got to Dublin all we could think of was….
Anyone who’s been to Dublin knows of the infamous Temple Bar area. It’s literally pub after pub after pub. We were told by our hotel that many people just do a pub crawl in the area when they visit. And of course, we thought, “yeah that’s a great idea..let’s do that!”. Famous last words.
First bar….we look sober and sweet.
Second bar…still looking relatively composed!
And this is where things start to look ugly! I think the beer is working!
This is the calm before the storm. I remember trying to compose myself as we had lunch. 
But obviously, it didn’t work! Smashed!
We had a great time in Ireland. It was beautiful and the people were very friendly. We would love to go back again and see the west coast and get out of the cities a bit. 
Happy St. Patty’s Day to you all! I’ll be raising my glass of green beer to you all later!