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Saturday, June 30, 2018

My Portland Coffee Tour - Part 15

Can you believe July is almost here? I can't! The year is halfway over and it feels like it just started. At least some things don't change, like the neverending supply of coffee in the Portland area. My Portland coffee tour has been on a roll for over a year and there are still so many shops to visit!

This month I chose one close to home and two further away in more touristy parts of the city.

Carina's Bakery

Beaverton is becoming a bit of an up-and-coming city. Just 8 miles outside of downtown, we've got food cart pods and boutique shops and some lovely restaurants and cafes. Carina's just opened not too long ago and is touted as a coffee house and bakery with a Scandinavian twist. They also only employ disabled persons, most of which are legally blind and who need guide dogs. The baked goods all look scrumptious and are a bit more because they are vegan (you would never know!). Their main counter doubles as a kennel for the guide dogs, which I was highly in favor of, because dogs!

I've had some hit or misses with ordering dirty Chai lattes ($4.75), but the employee knew exactly what I wanted and made it PERFECTLY. I also ordered a lingonberry coffee cake ($3.95) to go with my coffee and you, honestly, would never know it was vegan. So good!

The inside of Carina' and is bright and airy, with a well thought-out menu full of something everyone will like. I had a lovely chat with the employees and was able to enjoy my selections without being bothered. While this isn't the cheapest cafe you could visit, the food and drinks are spectacular and I applaud a company that helps to employ those who wouldn't have a fair chance elsewhere. Definitely worth the extra money you spend there, especially with the healthier options and vegan items.

Seven Virtues Coffee Roasters

During my last Geek Girl Brunch, I was talking to a new friend about coffee and she told me Seven Virtues was her favorite shop in Portland. Welp, I had to try it out. You can't even be disappointed just walking into this place. It's GORGEOUS! Look at that wall and booth and motivational saying. I want my house to be as cool as this coffee house. 

Look how clean and modern it looks! I did a bit of research on their food, because I always need to know if I should hit up one shop before another so I can get breakfast before I get cranky. I knew that they had breakfast sandwiches and they also did a happy hour on them, so I got $1 off mine for getting there at a certain time.

I wasn't exactly sure what to order, as they didn't have a real coffee menu on the wall, so I asked for a recommendation. The barista immediately said I should get a cortado ($4), so that's what I got, and then I ordered an egg and cheese bagelwich ($5.25). Look at that beautiful coffee and sandwich! Both were super delicious and I was so grateful for being steered toward this shop. It was quiet, in a great neighborhood and the employees were all very, very nice. A winner, for sure! 

Dapper and Wise

Sometimes I pick a place to go and then do a quick Google Maps search to see what else is around it and choose based on proximity and reviews. I was so glad I picked Dapper & Wise, and not only because it was so cozy and made me feel fancy eating in there. I mean, all that warm wood is phenomenal.

There's no lack of seating here, and I was lucky to find a seat near the window and an employee came over and slid the whole thing open, so it was like I was inside and outside at the same time. I loved it!

I, again, went for a special on this visit. I ordered the Vanilla Rose Latte ($5) and then a banana chocolate muffin ($3.75). If you ever wonder what a rose tastes like, I can definitively tell you that it tastes exactly like it smells. Luckily, it was light, so it didn't overpower the vanilla and coffee flavor, but it was sort of like summer morning in a cup. I wouldn't not order it again. The muffin was moist and sweet, though not too sweet, and you could tell it had been freshly made. I couldn't finish the whole thing and took the rest home to eat later. Nothing at this shop was disappointing at all, and I'll happily return.

So, those are my shops for this month. I had no losers in two months, which is unusual. Note to self: Always ask people where they go. Do you have a favorite coffee shop from your travels?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What's In My Carry-On?

Let's talk personal items. And by personal items, I mean the smaller size carry-on allotted to you by most airlines. The one that fits under the seat. You all know that when I travel alone, I generally stuff all my belongings into the smallest bag possible, just so I don't have to hoist anything into the overhead, but when we travel as a couple, we take a larger carry-on and a personal-sized item for under the seat.

What's in my carry-on bag? I'll tell you!


I hardly go anywhere without my laptop, because I work wherever I am. And if I don't take it - rarely - I bring along a portable keyboard to use with my tablet or phone. My laptop is large, so I always try to find a bag that fits it well, but still has functionality as a main carry-on as well. You'll have to take your laptop out of your bag at security, unless you have precheck, so make sure you have it somewhere easily accessible.

iPad mini 

This is my all time favorite multitasker. I can check emails, I can play games, I can read a book, I can blog, I can listen to podcasts, I can watch videos, I can easily look up directions and make notes. It does everything your computer can do, but in a convenient handheld size.

A scarf/wrap

Sometimes the plane is hot. Sometimes it's freezing. You never know. I have a wrap I love that can a also be used as a scarf or a blanket. That means it's multipurpose and can be used on almost any trip at anytime. I wrap it around my purse when we go anywhere in case it's chilly inside.

A cardigan

Layering when you travel is a must. Usually I just wear my cardigan over a t-shirt when I travel on the plane. It's the same reason I take a wrap. You never know what the weather's going to be. You might have a freak cold snap. A cardigan is never a bad idea. The worst thing that'll happen is that you won't have to wear it.


O.M.G. You can't live without snacks! Okay, I can't live without snacks. I always have a few things ready to pull out of my bag in case I get hungry, or we have a longer than expected layover or we end up trapped in the Tarmac for forever. You can barely get any substantial snacks on the plane, unless you give them money.

And if you don't eat them in transit, now you have extra snacks to spare on your actual trip! Toss them in your day bag and eat in the car or while waiting in line or in between meals to save some bucks.

Battery backup

If you want to stay connected or play games or use apps, your battery probably won't last all day. I keep a battery backup with me at all times. The one I have - and actually we have two - allows me to charge two things at once, or charge my phone two and a half times before it needs to be plugged in. It's a lifesaver when you're on-the-go all day.


At the very least you should keep your liquids bag in your small carry-on for easy access to them when going through TSA (unless you have precheck). I just like to have things with me in case something happens and I need them during the flight. It also makes it less likely for spills.

Charging cords

Bring at least the most important ones you want on use on the plane, or you'll be sad...or digging in your other bag for it in between flights. Ask me how I know.

Refillable thermos/water bottle 

I'm perfectly happy to buy a bottle of water at the airport, bacause I don't like to wait for the drinks cart to come down the plane aisle. What I hate is buying a bunch of bottled waters at my destination. We generally get a gallon or two at the store and then fill the bottle each morning with a good chunk of ice, that way we save money on drinks when we're not at a restaurant.


You never know when you're going to need to fill something out, play an impromptu game of sudoku or scribble down instructions. I always have at least one, usually two. 

Obviously I also have my money, credit cards, passport and confirmation papers with me, because necessary. After years of packing light and paying attention to what works and what doesn't, I know exactly what works and what doesn't and what I've used over and over again.

So, tell me, what do you have in your carry-on?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and I will receive compensation if you make a purchase after clicking on those links.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Review: ONboard Underseat Duffel from Lewis N Clark

More and more airlines are raising their prices on baggage fees, and several of them are adding charges to carry-on luggage that only fits in the overhead. For those of you like to travel light and save money, then getting an underseat bag that works for you is going to be key. Lewis N Clark has designed a range of bags for you, the ONboard line is classic and perfect for the frugal traveler as well.

 I was able to view the ONboard collection when at the Travel Goods Show and I knew then that you guys were going to think it was as awesome as I do. I was especially loving the Underseat Duffle, because of its profile and how handy all the pockets are to get to all your things even with it under the seat. It's also manageable to carry, even for a smaller person.  You can carry it with the handles or the included removable, adjustable shoulder strap .

Eric's going to Vegas with friends next month, so I've been pulling together all the things he needs to go for a week, to do minimal laundry with the insanely hot weather. I packed him 5 shirts, 3 pair of shorts, 4 pair of underwear, flip flops and swim trunks. I also packed his toiletry bag with the necessities, pulled together some snacks for show and added other things I knew he would need. This bag had a place for everything and room for souvenirs on the way home.

Despite its size, the main compartment is largeenough for a weekor moreworth of clothing.   

I like the flat bottom of the bag, because it gives the duffel structure, which many duffels lack. It's perfect for shoes and I packed the flip flops first (you could easily fit smaller flops in the side slip pockets that run the length of the bag, or you can use that for smaller items like socks, underwear or your jewelry bag. After adding underwear to one side, I had a good chunk of the bag open for everything else.

OnceI rolled all the clothing, they easily fit into that space, with room for more. 

Our small toiletry bag fit on top of the underwear to make my layers level with each other. As you can see, it's not full yet. 

I added snacks, because the flight is short, but also because it's nice to just have snacks in general when you travel. 

The outside of the bag has a pass-through strap on one side and two large zipper pockets on the other. The outer most pocket has slip pockets for small electronics or toiletries or snacks. Whatever you want to use it for.

The inner pocket is larger than the other and has no organization, but it's big enough for a 10" tablet. This is where I would keep my tablet and some games. You may want to pack a magazine or a notebook in there, however you like to travel.

Even the top of the bag is useful and forward-thinking. Easily accessible when in flight, but also a low profile so it doesn't catch on anything, I think this little zipper pocket is ingenious. 

It's a fantastic hold-all for when you pass through security and need to empty your pockets. It can easily hold your keys, wallet, change and whatever else you walk around with. It's also large enough to just toss your phone in during your flight. 

Of course, you may want to put your phone in the front pocket of the bag. This is perfect for all the things you want to have right at your fingertips, plus has a handy RFID-blocking zipper pocket big enough to hold credit cards and your passport (or several). It has two slip pockets for organization, and when you sip this up, there's even a pocket on the outside. 

Initially, I wasn't quite sure what this little pocket was for, because I'd totally use it for lip balm, but the plastic ring with an elastic band clued me in to it being more useful than that (for most other people). You can clip your keys to this, and use it for other quick-access items like a mini flashlight or flash drive if you're working.

An no bag is complete without a place for a water bottle, is it? Well, the ONboard Underseat Duffel doesn't disappoint there either. The back of the bag has an awesome zip out bottle holder, so you can have it when you need it, and then zip it away when you don't. I love that. 

So, whether you're using this bag as a personal item size or a main carry-on, it has plenty of room for everything you need for a weekend trip, a week trip, or even longer. It's the perfect companion for a business traveler as well. With its classic look, it can go from plane to a business meeting and then to your hotel room. When not traveling, it can double as a gym bag, too. 

Additional details:
Where can I buy it? The Lewis N Clark website
How much is it? $69.99
more specs: Neoprene handle wrap, 16" x 9" x 8.5", 840D ballistic nylon

Like what Lewis N Clark is doing? Get social: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Disclaimer: I was provided with the ONboard Underseat Duffel for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Cheaper Philadelphia with Go Cards

You guys know that I'll be traveling to Philly in October. Our original plan was to go there strictly for Chester Hill's Harry Potter Festival, but now Warner Bros is cracking down on unauthorized festivals and conventions, so that won't be taking place now. That just means we have two more days of sightseeing, and we can do it cheaper with Philadelphia Pass from Smarter Destinations.
You can save up to 45% on 1-, 2-, 3-, or 5-day trips with your Go Card. The more things you do, the more you save, plus you skip ticket lines and can go straight in. We've used Go Cards on other trips, including California, Las Vegas and Washington, DC. Each time we've saved a bundle and been able to do a lot more than we expected.

Here's how we plan to spend 5 days in Philly with our Go Card this Fall:

photo courtesy of SmartDestinations

Big Bus Philadelphia

This hop-on, hop-off bus has been fun everywhere we've done it. You basically get an awesome fact-filled tour and a perfect vantage point from which to take pictures and see all the city's best landmarks. Each stop allows you to get off and hop back on at will, so you can customize your own tour. 

In the past, we've made a complete loop on the bus, then stayed on to enjoy the activities that sound the most fun to us. It saves a lot of walking and transportation fees, and you get the history on the places you're going to visit.

photo courtesy of SmartDestinations

Eastern State Penitentiary 

This abandoned prison is now an official historical landmark. When at its height, it was the "home" of the infamous Al Capone, among others. The prison takes you through the history of the building and it's prisoners through a self-guided audio tour. It's said that it's haunted by those who perished there and I'm excited to wander the castle-like building.

photo courtesy of SmartDestinations

One Liberty Observation Deck

You can learn a lot about a place by seeing its skyline and viewing it from above. This deck is located 57 floors up and includes free tours. There are exhibits and a 360-degree view, and maps showing you historical buildings that you may have already visited or plan to on your trip. 

photo courtesy of SmartDestinations

Independence Tour

There's nothing like taking a city walking tour to really see the background of a city. Qualified historians take you to historical locations, like Ben Franklin's homes and Independence Hall. Neither Eric or I have ever been to Philly, so we're interested to learn more about it and see some of our country's most notable destinations.

photo courtesy of SmartDestinations

Grim Philly Twilight Tours

I don't know why, but I'm super interested in the haunted histories of places, whether that be a building, and underground tunnel system, or a whole city. I want to hear about all the creepy stories that have been told about Philadelphia while I see where they were said to happen.

photo courtesy of SmartDestinations

Longwood Gardens

I'm a sucker for a botanical garden and Longwood Gardens features over 1,000 acres of plants and flowers. The conservatory was built in 1921, here are two lakes, fountains, a treehouse, topiaries and more. I'm going to get all my steps in on this day, since there are several hour's worth of things to see.

photo courtesy of SmartDestinations

National Liberty Museum

Who doesn't want to actually see the Liberty Bell and the big crack in it? It's a piece of our nation's history and it's a must when visiting Philadelphia. 

photo courtesy of SmartDestinations

Mutter Museum

I've been hoping to visit this museum for, literally, decades. The Mutter Museum is full of medical oddities and is truly one-of-a-kind. If, like me, you're fascinated by all things medical, odd or not, then you'll want to put this on your list as well. From spinal surgery innovations to Civil War medicine to cross-sections of Albert Einstein's brain, if you're hoping to find it, it's here.

I'm sure this isn't a complete list of things we'll be doing in the city, but they are the ones on the top of my list. The Philadelphia Pass features 37 unique attractions and allows you to do the things in the city that interest you most. If you have children, then perhaps including a trip to The Philadelphia Zoo, the hands-on Independence Seaport Museum and the Adventure Aquarium is in order. 

No matter how you choose to spend your time, your visit is sure to be budget-friendly, educational and fun. Purchase your Philadelphia Pass now, or save up to 55% off all attraction passes.

What do you want to see most on a trip to Philly?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

My Favorite Apps for Saving Money

I'm all about saving a ton of money, but even a few pennies is still better than not saving anything. Those pennies add up pretty quickly. I do the majority of my shopping online, with the exception of groceries and trips to Target, so I have amassed a collection of apps that help me save money on my travel and everyday purchases, so I can travel more or even just do a little more on my next trip. Read on for my favorite money-saving apps.

photo credit

Not all apps are to use on your phone. I've got several that I use on my computer that are extensions of Chrome and which automatically activates when I go to a site that is a featured merchant of that site.


This is my #1 money-saving app. There are so many merchants that work with them to save you money. While you can always go to the Ebates page before you make any purchase, it's a lot easier to add the Chrome extension to your browser, so the cash back button pops up when you go to any website that is a member of the system. It's so easy. Ebates is basically a huge affiliate site and they share half their commission from merchants with you. That commission can be anywhere from 1% to 50%. 

Every day there is one or more merchant that offers you double cash back through Ebates, and there are often double cash back events throughout the year, where tons of stores participate. Not only that, but the extension lets you know what coupon codes are available and can automatically apply them at checkout.

Sign up for free now + get $10 added to your account upon completion of your first purchase. You also get a cash bonus when any of your friends sign up using your link.


This is another cash back app that can be used as a Chrome extension. I also have it on my phone and use the website, because you can earn Swagbucks (SB) for every purchase you can make from participating merchants, taking surveys, playing games and more. Your extension works just like Ebates's above and pops up at the same time if both companies feature the merchant (it can be a bit annoying for everything to pop up while you're trying to read the site, but it's worth it to save the money). 

SB can be exchanged for gift cards for everything from restaurants, Amazon and even Paypal, which is the same as cash. Sign up for free now and get $3 as a bonus for being my referral. Get $3 for every friend you refer + 10% of their earnings for a lifetime. That's free monies!


Honey is one of those sleeper apps that you never heard of and then wonder why nobody told you about it. It hangs out on your Chrome bar until you're ready to check out, then if there's a working coupon code or the ability to earn cash back, the app pops up, tries all those coupons (if you click on the button) and hopefully one of them works. 

It's not as intuitive as Ebates or Swagbucks and can add a few minutes to your checkout while it manually tries all those coupons  that may or may not work. You can also see what cash back it offers, so you can decide if you want to use it or the other cash back apps instead. 

Sign up free at JoinHoney and start accruing HoneyGold. Once you reach 1,000 gold, you can trade it in for a $10 gift card, like from Amazon (my personal favorite) or Sephora. Any friend you get to sign up with your referral link will earn you $5 after their first qualifying purchase. 

Groupon/Living Social

I'm sure you're already using these Daily Deal sites. I have both apps on my phone so I can search for cool stuff on-the-go. I've often purchased deals while on vacation and can show them my purchase on my phone when I use it. It's also nice to not have extra paper floating around, especially when you're on vacation. Saves time and paper.

Groupon owns Living Social, but they have two different sites that often have completely different listings. With Groupon, you can save up to 90% off activities, services, products and even travel. I subscribe to my home city, but then about 3 months before I travel, I subscribe to my destination city as well, because most have a expiration date 90 days after purchase. I've saved hundreds of dollars on restaurant and activities while traveling and my trips have been extra awesome and budget-y. Woot!

Sign up for Groupon for free and then receive a $10 credit anytime you refer a friend and they make their first qualifying purchase. You may even get your deal for free by sharing your purchase with friends and then purchasing through that link as well.

Sign up for LivingSocial for free. While they don't have a traditional referral program anymore, you can share your deal purchase, and if 3 people purchase through your share link, you get yours for free (not all purchases are eligible, but it's still fun to do stuff with friends, even at a discount).


You may already be using RetailMeNot, but do you know that they have a Genie extension for your browser that can net you cash back? Or that you can get the app on your phone and get deals out in the real world? You can! RetailMeNot uses the power of people to create the most extensive list of coupon codes on the internet. Ebates, Swagbucks or Honey can't find you a coupon code? Check RetailMeNot!

Out and about at your favorite store and wish you had a coupon? Open your app, look up the store (or it'll automatically find it with your phone's location) and pull up any in-store coupons that you can use at checkout.

Sign up for free! Sorry, it doesn't matter who you refer, you get nothing but the satisfaction that you helped someone else save money.


So, sometimes I don't need to spend a ton on a rental car, because I don't need to drive that many places, that's when Uber and Lyft come in handy, like when I go to Vegas for the Travel Goods Show. I use the monorail to get to the convention center and back to my timeshare, but sometimes I want to go somewhere off the Strip, or get to/from the airport. Uber can really save me a lot in taxi fees, time by not using public transit, and my feet by not having to walk a long way.

Sign up for Uber for free and get free rides by referring friends. Use my link or use this code on the app: ubershereentravels.

Sign up for Lyft for free and get a free $5 ride credit. If you're on the app: use code SHEREEN148653 for your free credit. Refer friend and get $10 in ride credit for yourself.


As much as I love renting a car, sometimes it's just too crazy expensive. I've been looking for a car for 5 days in Los Angeles, so my friend and I can do some sightseeing and make it to Universal on our own schedule. I've checked Turo before, which is a car share service, sort of like Airbnb for vehicles. I found a great car to rent from a person who had awesome reviews and they were willing to drop the car off at the airport too. 

Even with that $50 delivery fee, I paid just $160 for 5 days. Compare that to $340 for using any traditional rental car service and I think you won't care too much that the car you've chosen is not brand new either. Since I won't be doing long journeys, driving less than 200 miles to go from LAX to Anaheim to Universal back to Anaheim to downtown LA and to LAX to go home, I don't need anything that's brand new and pristine. Definitely worth saving $180. That's so much Harry Potter merch I can buy now!

Sign up for Turo for free (they will ask for your driver license info to do a quick background check on your driving record) and get a $25 credit, + refer a friend and you both get a $25 credit once they travel with Turo.

Obviously, these are not the only apps I use to save money, but these are the ones I use the most or, in the case of Turo, looking forward to use a lot more than I currently do. 

Do you have a favorite app that saves you lots of money? (Or even just a little bit of money.) Share it in the comments so we can all save!

Disclosure: This post features affiliate links. Thanks for using them!
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