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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Review: Arcopedico's Vegas Mary Jane Travel Shoes

It can be difficult to find a good pair of travel shoes, and I often end up buying a new pair (or two) of shoes for travel each year, because they don't last long enough to make it through more than a few trips with constant wear or they didn't look as good with things as I thought. Earlier this year I received pair of Arcopedico boots for review and they are awesome. I have worn them at home, for work, and almost every day of my trip to Edinburgh and London and my feet never hurt. So, when I was offered a pair called Vegas, I immediately said yes.

The Vegas is a slight wedge shoe with cute criss-cross elastic straps that allow you to slip them on and off (perfect for the airport and the rest of your trip), but keep them secure on your feet. If you like a Mary Jane shoe, then this is a fun twist for your shoe collection. 

As with the boots I received, these have excellent dual arch support, meaning you stand the way you should, taking pressure off your back and distributing your weight evenly. Your soles and the balls of your feet feel much better too. 

These shoes go with just about everything. As you can see from my next photos, I wore them with dress pants, jeans, and even my witch costume that I wore to a Halloween themed brunch. I've already gotten so many compliments on them, because they're super cute, which you can't say about most orthopedic shoes. I'll be wearing them a lot more.

One of my favorite features of these are the wide toe box, so you don't find your toes cramped, even at the end of the day. If you have wide feet like I do, this is hard to come by in shoes that aren't specifically wide-width.  The top is non-binding, giving you a feeling of being barefoot. I saw elsewhere that customers thought this shoe ran a bit small, but I wear a true 6.5 and the 37 fit me very well. 

Another favorite is the grip that you get on the bottom. There are so many shoes like this that have no traction at all, and I have slipped more than once and almost hurt myself. My boots held up even over wet cobblestones, and I have no doubt that these would be the same.

The backs of these go slightly up your ankle. On most shoes, this would automatically spell blisters for me, but the Vegas doesn't rub at all for me, so it looks nice and gives a little extra support in the back. I also found that my pants didn't get caught in it. If you have other shoes like this, then you'll know what I mean. 

I wore these with bare feet, but also with tights and they fit well both ways. If you wanted to keep your feet warmer, you could wear these with a nice trouser sock when it's colder out. I took my tights off so you could see the straps and how they would look with a summertime or spring look. Please ignore my ghostly skin, though I think it works with this costume. 

The Vegas has a nice flexibility, so your feet are able to move normally, instead of being cramped while walking all day. I don't know about you, but this can be a problem for me, and contributes to foot pain if you're walking all day. Nobody wants that on vacation.

I'm already excited to pack these for my Spring trip to New Orleans. In fact, I'll probably wear them on the plane, especially since they'll be great for running through the airport. They'll also help me navigate the broken and hilly sidewalks of the city.

If you're traveling at all this year, or have a traveler on your holiday gift list, this is a must-have shoe. Take a look at some of the other styles Arcopedico makes as well, because if this one doesn't call to you, others certainly might, and will keep your feet happy, even if they are the only shoe you take on vacation. The cost is certainly worth the comfort you get in return.

More details
Where to buy them: On Arcopedico's website and on sites like Amazon
Cost: $145
Colors they come in:  Black lined leather (shown) | Pewter lined leather
More info: Non-metal dual arch support, made in Portugal since 1966, non-removable polyurethane insole, lining contains the antimicrobial Sansmell™ deodorizing system for a fresher foot environment.

Learn more about Arcopedico by following them on social media: Facebook | Instagram 

Disclaimer: I was provided with the Vegas for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% mine. This post contains an affiliate link, and if you make a purchase through it, I'll be monetarily compensated (and eternally grateful). 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Your New England Halloween Vacation

Halloween is possibly my favorite day of the year. I love to decorate and dress up and it’s exciting when other people share my love of the day. This year we aren't throwing our usual party, but instead going to a Witching Hour fundraiser with witches, magic, a 20's vibe, and absinthe. (You can see pics if you follow me on Instagram.) Should be a good time, especially since I get to dress up. It's gonna be a pretty laid-back holiday, where everyone else does the work and I focus on having fun and planning my birthday party instead.

While I was thinking about the cool ways to spend Halloween in the future, I decided to check out what there was to do in New England, because when I think spooky, it conjures up witches and Stephen King, both of which hail from the Northeastern states. Did you know there are crazy amounts of things to do the whole month of October? It’s true! Whether you want to be scared witless or just learn the history behind this fun holiday.

Photos of Lake Compounce, Bristol
This photo of Lake Compounce is courtesy of TripAdvisor


The Haunted Graveyard at Lake Compounce is Southern New England’s largest Halloween attraction. It has evolved from Ernie and Carol Romegialli’s creative yard decorations 22 years ago. The decorations grew more elaborate and eventually outgrew their yard and they have been occupying a larger area ever since. Donations go towards their upkeep and diabetes research, which is pretty awesome if you ask me. They are open Friday through Sunday, October 4-27.

Witch’s Dungeon Halloween Classic Movies Museum - For just a $6 donation per person, you can visit the longest-running Halloween attraction in the country. Opened in 1966, you can view memorabilia from your favorite classic horror and sci-fi films and also watch them on the silver screen. Open Friday through Sunday until November 2.

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New Hampshire

Nightmare New England is 40 acres of non-stop scary-thrills, located in Litchfield, NH. Along the Merrimack River, the landscape plays its part in making the six themed areas even spookier. There’s so much to do in this “scream park” including zombie paintball, five haunted attractions, tarot card readings and even a restaurant. I wouldn’t expect normal fare, but this is a place that tries to scare you the moment you step out of your car. Nightmare New England wants to make Halloween a destination. Open selected days and weekends from September 19 - November 9.

Keene Pumpkin Festival - Laconia townsfolk plan all year to break the record for the most jack-o-lanterns in their downtown square. They have done it, too! 8 times! Enjoy food, fun and music during this one-night family-friendly celebration on October 19. The food and craft court sounds like a place I would be happy to lose myself in. Candy apples and handmade Halloween decorations are pretty high on my list of things that make me go “Yes please!”.

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Salem – Where better to celebrate Halloween than witch-central? All October long you’ll find themed festivities and attractions including a carnival, haunted house, spooky tours and more.  Every day of the month you’ll find something going on. This is my kind of town.  Where else can you hit the farmers’ market during the day and then see the Crucibal at night and get your palm read and shop witchcraft shop in between? There might be some places, but I doubt many. And there are even fewer places where you can visit the actual places where witch trials took place. This is definitely on my list of must-see places.

Six Flags New England Fright Fest is fun for the whole family, with daytime and nighttime activities to please everyone. During the day, families will be able to fill their bags on the trick or treat trail and then get up close and personal with creepy crawlies like snakes and lizards. Once the sun goes down, the scares come out with a haunted house and scare zones. All rides stay open during Fright Fest, but beware, you might find yourself sitting next to a ghoul. Fright fest runs on weekends from September 21-November 3.

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The Haunted Forest - A more family-friendly Halloween activity, the Haunted Forest takes visitors down a jack-o-lantern-lighted path to view a dozen different scenes presented by community theater performers. It’s just spooky enough for older ones and tame enough for little ones. The “performance” runs on various times October 24 - 26.

Looking for deals to get to and stay in the area? Check out these travel merchants:

  • Airbnb - For a great deal on an apartment/condo/house, browse what's available from private renters through Airbnb. I've used them to book my lodgings in London and Paris this fall and I feel like I'm going to be really happy, and not just because I save a bunch of money.
  • HomeAway - Not quite brave enough to deal directly with a homeowner? Then go bigger with HomeAway. They also have competitive pricing on private rentals and a really big selection anywhere you want to go.
  • Hotels.com - If you want someone to clean up after you and overall feel a bit pampered, then you might be interested in the rebate deal going on at Hotels.com. Earn up to $100 cash back on stays from 3 to 12 nights.
  • Expedia - Save big with a package deal where you bundle your airfare and lodging together. Using Expedia, you can save up to $525 when you book this way.
  • CheapOair - Save more over their lowest rates with promo code FALL15, which will knock an extra $15 off on hotel and airfare rates.
If New England doesn’t sound in the (tarot) cards for you this year, FareCompare has some ideas for trips to scare you. You can also look back at my post on trips to theme parks that have special celebrations as well as other places around the world you might want to visit (including the Paris catacombs, which I will be venturing into in November). 

What are your favorite fall/Halloween activities?

Thursday, October 24, 2019

What Do You Suggest...?

I have favorite products for my travels. You know I do. Of the review items I've chosen and those I've purchased or gotten as gifts, there are ones I come back to over and over again. Well, now I've made a whole page with said items, so you can easily find and shop them from Amazon. 

If you want to support me and this blog, this is a great way to do it. Even if you don't purchase one of the products on the page, but make another purchase through the links anyway, it still counts. I'll be adding to this page over time, but you'll be able to reach it by clicking on the Travel Items I ♥ link in the top bar.

Not seeing something you'd like to see? Drop a comment below or send me an email and let me know. I'll do my best to get them added.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Planning a Great Fall Staycation

I know there are a lot of fantastic budget-friendly vacation destinations for Fall, but sometimes that's just not in the cards. We don't always have the extra money to spend on a getaway, even though we desperately need/want one. It's times like these that I recommend a staycation, even if it just means you're a tourist in your city for a day. 

I love to see everything there is around me. Portland and the surrounding cities are so interesting and pretty, plus there's always something going on all year. I bet most of you have similar cities, even if you don't think so. A quick Google search will tell you differently. Here are some of my favorite activities:

Eric of the corn!

Visit a farm

This is one of my favorite ways to spend weekends during September and October when I'm not traveling. I love a corn maze and often hit up a local farm that has a pumpkin patch, maze, cider donuts and animals. I want to eat some fall foods, drink some cider, get lost in the corn. Sometimes we bring the dog to get some exercise and then pig out on whatever food they're serving. 

This last weekend we went to a farm we'd never been to before to take pictures, go on a hayride, and try their corn maze. It was the first maze we'd been to that didn't have some sort of signage, but it was 1 mile and we got lost and got our steps in, so I call that a win. Most farms have a lot of things to do for kids, so it's a relatively cheap way to spend the day and let them jump and run out all that extra energy.

Hint: If it's been raining, be prepared for mud. I always wear boots and bring a change of shoes for after trekking through the dirt/mud/puddles to head home in.

Head to a nearby city you haven't been to before

I'm a fan of just bundling up, packing a bag of snacks, and just driving off somewhere I've never been. Each new town has funky shops and restaurants and scenery. Spend the day exploring to feel like you're traveling and then go back home. It's a fairly cheap way to enjoy a day doing something different and being somewhere unfamiliar. If you bring a lunch, you can even forgo eating out, so you're basically just paying for gas.

Hit up a local festival

Most people only think about festivals during the summer, but when fall rolls around, there are entirely different festivals, like apple tasting, pumpkin carving, harvest fests and more. Look for a calendar on local events and find any of the festivals that sound cool and interesting and then make a plan to go to them. Just some of the things happening around here: Cider Fest, Giant Pumpkin Regatta (yep, people use huge, hollowed out pumpkins as boats), Howloween at the Oregon Zoo, Killer Pumpkin Festival featuring pumpkin beers, and The Spirit of Halloweentown. It's easy to pack a whole weekend with these things, and it's way cheaper than a trip.

Go wine tasting

If you live in an area that has a lot of wines, or even just one really good winery, plan a tour and then try all the wines on offer that sound delicious. If you do this, make sure you have a sober ride home. Also, lots of wineries have great restaurants on-site, so you can make a whole day of it, and make sure you have something in your stomach to keep you from getting way too drunk. Some places, like Portland, have winery tours where a bus will take you winery hopping over the course of a day. It also means you don't have to worry about having a DD. (If you don't like wine, check out some breweries or distilleries.)

Hole up in a hotel somewhere

Sure, you may not be able to afford a full-on vacation, but that doesn't mean you can't book yourself into a nice hotel for a couple night, order room service, do things in a part of town you don't hang out in often. Keep your eye out for hotel deals or call one you've always wanted to stay in and see if they'll cut you a deal.

Host a "destination" potluck 

Call some friends, choose a vacation destination, like Italy, and ask them all to bring a dish from that country. You may not be able to go there, but you can spend a little on decor and food to immerse you in that destination. Your friends who also can't afford to go on a vacation will probably be super grateful and excited. Make it easy on them and post a list of regional dishes they can bring if they don't want to research. Then pop a couple bottles of wine, play some games or create a slideshow of tourist spots to scroll through on your TV and really make it feel like you're there!

See the leaves turn
Right now, Portland is in peak season to see the changing leaves. Unleash your inner leaf-peeper and take a drive or just walk around a new neighborhood looking at the gorgeous colors. Make a point to take pictures and post them later on Facebook or Instagram to show everyone how pretty your city is dressed in reds, oranges, and yellows. Maybe you'll inspire other people to appreciate what's going on around them.

If you want more ideas on how to plan an awesome staycation, check out my Pinterest board

What's been your favorite staycation or staycation activity?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Hidden Gems In and Around Dallas

If you are thinking of taking a trip to Texas, then Dallas is a typical spot for people to choose. But knowing some of the best places to go, that are a little off the tourist-track, is a really good idea. The city itself is huge, and there are plenty of spaces and places on the outskirts of the city that have some hidden gems to offer. Even Texans can forget to visit some of these places, so they really do work for everyone. Here are some hidden gems to add to your list.


Winspear Opera House

The Winspear Opera House is a really stunning architectural building in Dallas, and it is quite surprising just how modern the building is. There are some reflective pools outside of it that make for a great place to take a photo, so perfect for any Instagrammers. If you want to add it to your list then it is a good idea to drop by during the day, or even wait until the evening to catch a show at night.  

Fort Worth Water Gardens

If you are visiting when there will be some good weather (which can happen quite a lot of the time in Texas), then a trip to the Fort Worth Water Gardens is a must. It includes some stunning water structures that really are breathtaking. It is like a hidden oasis, which is a great spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of a city.

Oak Pointe Park

Another thing to do on the outskirts of Dallas, that will help your love of the outdoors, is going out on the lake at Oak Pointe Park in Plano, Texas. The reserve is over 800 acres, and things like canoeing is a must, as well as swimming, or running and biking on the trails. At the end of the day, heading out to one of the Mexican restaurants in Plano is a must, so that you can refuel after a busy day outdoors. Plano has some great shopping and leisure sites, so don’t forget about this suburb which is less than twenty miles from Dallas.

Prairie Creek Waterfalls

Another part of Plano, just outside of Dallas, that is a must is the Prairie Creek Waterfalls. They are quite hidden, so if you don’t know about them, then you wouldn’t know that they were there. The waterfalls are so stunning, though, and it is a great place to spend an afternoon, as well as take some great photographs. 

Fort Worth Modern Art Museum

If you love some modern art and modern architecture, then the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum is a must. If you are normally someone who isn’t that fussed about museums, then this one shouldn’t be classed as a ‘typical’ museum. While Dallas does have some pretty great museums, this one is unlike any of the others. There are beautiful views from the museum too, so it really is a hidden gem that you need to make the most of. 

Dallas is a great city with so much to offer, whether you have a few days or a few weeks. It's is the perfect budget-friendly winter travel destination. For more ideas on what to do and how to save while you're there, check out this post.

Have you ever visited Texas?

Saturday, October 19, 2019

More Packable Halloween Costumes

Depending on where you live or travel to, Halloween can be all kinds of weather. It's easy to figure out warm weather costumes that you can pack, but harder for costumes that can be worn in cooler or straight-up cold weather. One year we went to Disneyland and the weather was really hot and I needed to change up my costume at the last second. It turned out fine, but it was stressful for a minute.

Though it can be challenging, when traveling somewhere hot, to find a costume that doesn't give you heat stroke. It can be just as difficult to find a costume that isn't too bulky and will keep you warm when the temps drop. We went to Paris in October a few years ago and had tickets to attend Disneyland Paris's Halloween party. This trip to Paris was totally different from our last visit where it was unseasonably warm in November. This time, there was a crazy cold snap and early October saw temps in the 20s. Ouch. Let's look at costumes that can be worn anytime and also when it's super cold, but that are still easy to pack.

One Walt Disney trip, Eric and I dressed as a couple on safari. Easy, because you can do long or short sleeves, shorts or pants.

Mild Weather

If you're lucky, the weather can be cool, but not too cool to warrant a jacket. That's kind of my favorite weather for Halloween, because you have a wider selection of costumes to choose from.

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Be a Lumberjack
I always travel with layers, whether I'm traveling in the summer or the winter. A plaid shirt makes a great layer, so why not toss one in your bag with a pair of suspenders and a knit cap. Just like that, you can be a lumberjack!

Toga, Toga, Toga
There are tons of different toga and toga-like costumes for both men and women. Make your own or buy one to be Caesar, Aphrodite, a frat partier, Socrates and more. Add a laurel and your favorite sandals and you're done.

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Yer a Wizard! (Or witch)
You basically just need a black outfit, a cape and a hat for this one. If you're a Harry Potter freak like me, you possibly have a Hogwarts sweater in your closet that you can put on with a black skirt or slacks, slip your wand in your pocket and you can be a wizard- (or witch-) in-training.

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Any Superhero
Always wanted to be Superman or Batman or Cat Woman? Now's your chance. When the weather is mild, you can go full-out or a little skimpy and not be uncomfortable. Of course, you can always be a superhero in disguise by wearing a part of your costume underneath your shirt, like Superman does. This is creative and also easier to pack.

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Burglar & Police Officer
It was so cold in France that I literally had on four layers of clothes, so I was basically wearing all black and you couldn't even tell I was dressed as a burglar. It was also raining, which didn't help matters. I rimmed my eyes with some serious black eyeliner and carried around a money bag. The effect was a bit ruined when I also had to bundle up in my coat and wear a scarf, but it was an easy outfit otherwise. Get your significant other to dress similarly or wear dark blue or black pants and a blue/black button-down shirt with a badge to be a cop.

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This isn't done nearly enough and can be really simple. All you need is a lab coat and some semi-dressy clothes underneath. Make a name badge for yourself (ex: Dr. Bob, Nurse Barb) and add a cheap stethoscope, so you can do your job, and voila! Change this up into a mad scientist outfit by adding crazy hair and some safety goggles.

Prom King/Queen
We always bring some dress-up clothes with us on vacation. At least, we usually do, because we tend to do a couple things where we need to look a bit nice. Even an LBD can work for this. Pair it with a Prom King or Queen and a crown and you're ready to party. You can bring a paper crown you've made, pick up a cheap one at a party store or, my personal favorite, stash this inflatable crown in your bag. They'll take up little room and if they get wrinkled, you can just blow them up.

Cold Weather

It's going to happen. You find that you're going somewhere that the weather is too cold to wear the traditional costume, but that leaves you free to be more creative with your choices.
Snow Bunny
Put that puffy coat and those furry boots you're wearing to good use. Adding an adorable hat and some ski goggles will really sell your outfit, especially if you've got a cup of hot chocolate in-hand.

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Mountain Climber
You can kind of wear everything for this costume, because you're climbing a mountain and it's freezing! This is when you'll want to break out that backpack again and put on a head lamp (you probably have one of these at home). Make yourself a cute little flag to make the peak and go conquer that mountain...and the cold weather.

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Polar Bear
So simple, it's ridiculous. White pants and a white coat, then add a pair of ears and paint your nose or wear this fun hat/scarf combo and run around going "Rawr!" The bulkier you are, the better, so don't be afraid if you have to put on some long johns underneath your clothes. 

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This one works well with a bunch of layers as well, because you're just going to cover up with layers of white fabric. I'd suggest white underlayers and a set of thermals under that, since a coat would ruin the effect. You can use toilet paper for this, but if you don't want to unravel or walk around with toilet paper on your shoe, think sheets that you've ripped into strips works really well. Just make sure you can get your pants off to use the restroom, or else you might hate this really quickly.
There's not much warmer than leather/pleather, so why not dig out your pants and jacket, a black sweater, some comfy boots and wrap a bandana around your head and go as a biker. You might be taking most of that on your trip anyway, so put it all together and get tough. This works for everybody and you can add more layers as needed, like a vest.

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Sherlock Holmes
If you've got a trench coat, you've got a costume. Sherlock Holmes is easily recognizable, especially with his trademark deer hunter cap and pipe. This works for men and women, you just have to wear some decently nice clothes underneath. Your significant other can wear a suit jacket and driving cap and be Watson.

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Get your camouflage on. You can most easily create the hunter look with a camouflage jumpsuit, but you can also do this by wearing dark colored clothing with a camouflage jacket and cap. Get all Duck Dynasty with a big beard and you'll also keep your face warm if it's that cold out. You could also go in a Harry Potter direction and be Dumbledore or Hagrid if you like the idea of a beard and many layers.

Are you traveling somewhere for Halloween? If so, do you plan on dressing up?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which may result in monetary compensation if you choose to shop through them. Also, thanks in advance if you do.
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