So, I adopted some dogs. Stray dogs. From another country. Because that is totally normal, right? It’s like this. The man and I were on a vacation in Turks and Caicos, and my friend Sara was fostering 3 4 week old puppies on Pine Cay. It took me approximately 12 seconds to immediately fall head over heels and claim the black one for my own (then Bernie). My dude had a better handle on his emotions and waited an additional .2 seconds to claim the little brown one (then Josie), as his eyes glazed over with stupid puppy love. Each day of our vacation we played these guys and their brother Bruiser (now Harley). Come to find out, the puppies weren’t travel-able until they were 8 or so weeks old….So I had to bite the bullet and go back. To a beautiful island country to claim some puppies. Life is really hard, guys.
I mean. How could you not plotz over these cuties?!
Rizzo (the little brown girl) and Gizmo (fluffy black boy) made their cross continental journey from TCI to Alaska (on an adventure neither Sara or I will forget. Cab rides in NYC, pizza, peeing literally everywhere) and we just celebrated their 1st Gotcha Day on March 1st. No one told me having puppies was basically like adopting toddlers, and it was a little touch and go there for a bit. We lost a whole lot of teeth (where do they come from?!) and the house is officially rug free (So.Much.Pee.). I was also quite sure my life was going to become a very Charles Dickens-esque as I was no longer able to work, lost the house and we would be begging for more gruel on the street. But we all got our collective shit together, and the Idiot Twins learned how to shake last week.
So, what the hell is a potcake anyway? “The potcake dog is a mixed-breed dog type found on several Caribbean islands. Its name comes from the congealed peas and rice mixture that local residents traditionally eat, as the overcooked rice that cakes to the bottom of the pot would be fed to the dogs. Although appearance varies, potcakes generally have smooth coats, cocked ears, and long faces. A group of potcakes is known as a parliament.” Basically, they are really expensive stray dogs. But they were worth every penny and are basically the little loves of our lives. Even if I do refer to them as Adorable Assholes and have threatened to sell them to strangers in Eastern Europe.
There is a fantastic rescue operation in Turks called Potcake Place K-9 Rescue. You may have seen them mentioned in any number of articles about walking puppies in paradise on your vacation. And it’s true. Visitors are able to walk and chill with puppies while in Provo, which helps socialize and exercise these little cuties. They are always looking for donations and sadly the puppies never stop coming. There is a super easy donate button on their page. I just donated a portion of the proceeds of my Potcake Mom necklace sales to Potcake Place. These folks absolutely love these dogs and it shows.
Of course no one is surprised to hear that the cakes have their own Instagram page. Because, c’mon. Duh. Head over and give them a follow. I know I’m totally biased, but they are pretty adorable.
The husband and I just returned home from just under 3 weeks in Ireland. And it was awesome!
And back in September I took myself on an epic birthday trip for 2 weeks in England.
See? Also amazeballs.
So many of our friends and acquaintances are just baffled how we are able to travel so often. We aren’t doctors (C’mon now – I’m a crafter!) and neither of us inherited large sums from Great Auntie Puddy Pop. So how we do it? Who does our budget? How long do we have to save for each trip?
Really. There’s no big secret. We just spend differently than most people. It’s super easy to save pennies which turn into dollars….which you can later turn into Euros, Pounds, Pesos, Krona, you name it!
- Stop going out to eat so much. Food is one of the biggest places to save money. Really. Go out to eat on special occasions. Or when you need pho or you are going to die (the latter happens to me a lot). And when you do? Don’t go crazy. Do you really need an app and a dessert? Booze is way cheaper elsewhere. And soda in a restaurant? Please. Just set your money on fire with the candle on the table.
- Make a menu at home and stick to it. Buy only what is on the menu. And when you are menu planning, take stock of what you already have. If you need to buy 17 things for that 1 meal, you already shot yourself in the foot.
- Shop at Costco. Really. There are only 2 of us and we do 90% of our food shopping there. You probably don’t need the 4 gallon bucket of chili for 2 (Or maybe you do. I don’t know. I don’t judge.), but you can use the package of chicken breasts or the big bag of frozen peas. Buying the same thing at a regular grocery store costs more and you get less.
- Stop buying your lunch. Pack that shit. Take leftovers to work. We cook enough for dinner that we each get leftovers to take to work the next day. Let’s say you spend a conservative $8 a day for lunch….That’s $40 a week. And $2080 a year. That could be an around the world airline ticket. For realz.
- Don’t buy processed foods. They are more expensive than the ingredients to just make it yourself. And when you make it there aren’t all those preservatives and chemicals.
- Stop buying things you can make. Why pay $3.50 for a jar of strawberry jam when you can spend $10 on strawberries and sugar and make 10 jars of your own?
- Learn which stores are cheaper. Want super cheap yet huge quantity produce? Check your local Asian market. I bet you are surprised.
- Cut the cable. In this day and age where everything is streaming, do you really need those 400 channels when nothing is ever on them anyway?
- Slim down your wardrobe. It’s ok to wear the same thing more than once (even in a week!) and do you really need ALL those shoes? Invest in something you really love and wear it to death.
- Go to the movies on the cheap night. Instead of paying $40 for 2 tickets and some popcorn, go on the discount night. Many theaters only charge $4 or $5 for the same movie you would see for $15 on another night. Here, we go on Tuesdays. And one of the theaters (only $3.50 anyway) gives a huge popcorn discount with their rewards card (a bucket for $4)
- Stop buying books new. Now, I love books. And I kinda maybe hoard them…but no way am I buying them new. Shop the library book sale, your used book store or, *gasp* the library (That last one is free. Really.)
- Make your own coffee! Do I really need to explain this one? $4 a day at your local coffee joint equals $20 per work week, and $1040 a year. That’s a ticket to Amsterdam.
- Keep an eye on air deals. If you can be flexible with your dates and even your destination, you will get more bang for your buck. We have a list of 10 or so places we would like to go. If there’s a screaming deal, that’s where we are going!
- Cancel those subscriptions you are only “meh” about. If you aren’t reading those magazines, why get them? I had a stationery subscription for $18 a month, and while the cards were super cool, I realized I have somuch stationery already. And $18 a month for a year is a good deal ticket to Boston!
I am totally not saying that we scrimp and save every penny. No way. We go out. We buy beer in restaurants, we splurge on things. But it’s not an all the time thing. Since our day to day expenditure is well thought out and pretty minimal, there’s money in the account to buy that plane ticket to Europe when it has to be booked within 48 hours (this happened this summer). And of course not all of these things will work for you. But every little bit helps. And taking a step back and looking at where you spend, helps you to cut costs and save for super cool things.
So, where are we going next? Who knows! But we will be ready!
It has taken me a really (really) long time to process the photos from our trip to Peru. This one seemed to really take a lot out of us. There is a difference between vacation and travel, and travel can be tough. This is not to say that we didn’t have an amazing time – it’s just that it was a lot of work.
However, I have finally gone through the photos and it was so awesome to relive the trip one picture at a time.
More can be found in a flickr album here. It seems I shot a lot on my cell phone, but I definitely made better use of the hard body camera this trip vs. Japan. I win. Now give me a cookie.
It seems it has been forever since I’ve updated (actually, it has. Really.) and part of that delay is that the husband and I were off gallivanting again. This time we went to Peru! A new continent and country for both of us and it most certainly did not disappoint. We switched things up a bit by meeting my parents down there and was a fun dynamic. Why the family reunion? As it happens my dad was in South America in 1969 and has always talked about going back. In addition to that, our family hosting an exchange student from Lima my freshman year in high school and we wanted to be sure to see my Peruvian hermana too. It was fab to see her and her amazing family, and bonus: built in tour guides!
My favorite of the fruits were the little orange fruits (aguaymanto) and I even broke my “no chain restaurants in a foreign country” rule to have a McD’s ice cream sundae with these fruits as the topping. Love it!
A cemetery I could have spent days in – mausoleum style with ‘shadow box’ style markers.
Dad’s first anticuchos in over 40 years (and he’s been talking about them for just as long). They did not disappoint! In fact, my husband declared that we have anticuchos again before leaving the country lest he “pull a Larry” and crave them for 4 decades. And the girl in the back? That’s Ale – my Peruvian sister. She’s going to kill me for posting this.
We were able to take this photo for 1 sole (about 30 cents). This woman comes here every day to pose for photos but I’m pretty sure I’m one of the only ones to totally lose my shit over the adorableness of the baby llama.
The altitude in Cuzco was no joke. Mom and Galen had blue lips, and neither my dad nor I were feeling all that awesome. Asking the hotel front desk for oxygen in Spanish was a first for me.
It’s still pretty surreal to say that I saw this…this view of a place we have all seen photos of our entire lives. The only thing to ruin it were people and their stupid selfie sticks. Ugh.
Tipon archaeological complex. This was an agricultural testing ground for the Incas and it was pretty amazeballs.
I have yet to offlaod the rest of the photos from my camera. I seem to have brought some sort of bug home that I can’t quite shake and I’m not firing on all cylinders. But I hope to A) process the photos soon and B) feel better. Because feeling better is good.
The husband and I just returned home from an amazing trip to Okinawa, Japan where we visited friends and got the best tour we could have asked for. Hotel Tonino totally gets 5 stars from us. The food was amazing, the company was great, and I don’t think I offended anyone too badly, in addition to laughing more in 9 days than I have in years.
We checked out a cherry blossom festival which was pretty amazing. Not only did I see the largest spider I’ve ever seen outside of a pet shop (and I’m told it was only a baby…) but we were able to sample some super delish food (meat pockets are omg good) and I saw a baby goat wearing a pink dress, diaper and diamond bling necklace. I would say that all of that made my life ultimately complete, but the fun didn’t stop there.
There was of course tons of amazing sushi at our finger tips and I am proud to say that I tried some new things….the raw quail egg with sweet potato puree was a step outside of the comfort zone for me (you know how much I love quail eggs, so it had to happen). We also checked out the funky sea grapes, ice cream from a balloon (yeah, I totally ate that in public) and sampled the famous habu sake. The sake contains dead habu snakes and venom and was actually pretty tasty despite destroying my insides for 2 days afterwards. We checked out a snake show with these snakes (alive of course) which was insane – the demonstrator slapped a cobra. Twice. Wow.
There are of course more updates to follow as I have yet to process the photos from the actual camera….brewery tours, beach combing, glass making, ramen eating…..the fun didn’t stop!!
Upon returning home from our trip abroad I find I have a ton of things to do. I would say that might be a gross exaggeration, but it’s not too far off the mark. So what did I do today? I edited photos from our trip and uploaded them to the internet. I am continuing along the theme of “unnecessary at the moment” by posting this right now. Most of the photos from the camera are from our drive around the perimeter of the country and there are a lot (a lot) of sheep pictures….but the sheep made me really, really happy.
I think this looks like a George and Rhonda. What do you think?
I was very concerned how these rural folks got their mail as I couldn’t seem to find any mailboxes, or figure out if they would have rural delivery? A PO box? How far did they have to drive? You know I’m a mail nerd, so these things are kind of a big deal if I’m going to move into one of the amazing picturesque farms right at the base of a fabou waterfall…..This was the only rural mailbox we saw.
You can find some more of the photos offloaded from the camera in the Flickr set here.
Iceland is absolutely full of yarn. Even at the tiny mom and pop grocery stores and some of the gas stations. Seriously. That’s probably because there are also sheep everywhere (not necessarily in the gas stations, but almost literally right outside…). And this is good, quality, Lopi type yarn and I took every opportunity to fondle as much of it as I could while I was there. (And it was cheap!!!)
We stopped and checked out the Handknitting Association of Iceland (quite a few times actually, as my husband was obsessed with finding the perfect sweater) and I stumbled upon my first community knitting project. I had heard about places that do such a thing but was never able to be part. A basket by the door had a scarf in the round with all sorts of different yarns and patterns and a list of the knitters from over 20 different countries listed. And yes. I had to take part.
We did finally manage to find the husband a sweater, though he thought perhaps he needed another (but we decided his next epic sweater would come from Ireland or Scotland), and it was a double feel good purchase as it was handmade just for that shop. So awesome!
The husband and I just returned from a pretty amazing 9 days in Iceland. We packed as much into that time as possible and drove around the entire perimeter of the country as well as spent a few days in the capital city, Reykjavik. The drive was amazing and really drives home how immense the landscape is (even living in Alaska I was pretty blown away). We saw tons of sheep (they are everywhere! I mean, it. Everywhere!!) and I tried my hardest to name many of them…Millecent, Harold, Rupert, Miles, Dot, etc.
What people don’t tell you about Iceland is that most of the country smells like sulphur. I’m not saying it’s bad, but don’t expect your shower water to smell any better than a few eggs, and your silver just might turn colors. All of the thermal hot spots and sulphur fields which are constantly ‘oozing’ also give the air itself a nice “Iceland” smell. Food is also quite expensive and may or may not be worth the price. We did however fall head over heels for their hot dogs, which are cheap are run about 380 krona ($3 give or take). They are made from lamb and garnished with their version of ketchup and mustard as well as fresh and fried onions. We definitely bought these 2 at a time.
Waterfalls are everywhere (if you took a picture of each you would never be able to leave – and this is just traveling highway 1 around the island) and are amazing. We took a short hike to Svartifoss and were rewarding with a fabulous waterfall heading over some naturally occurring basalt columns. Though I was being a turd (we had a hard time working the travel/blood sugar/food thing out) it was well worth it.
One of the last stops on the Golden Circle tour (which includes a geysir and another huge multi-step waterfall) was a very cool site which most people miss: the rising edge of the North American plate. And by plate, I mean the moving tectonic plate which forms the crust of the entire globe. Wow. Mind blown. Despite a lot of wind and rain (I renamed it Windland) it was well worth it.
I have yet to process the photos taken from the actual legit camera, but will report with a link to my flickr page soon. It was a great trip and I am so glad we went (we will definitely be back!), but for now, it’s so great to be home.
And the view of Greenland on the way home wasn’t too bad either…