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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Portland Is Still Beautiful

With so much crazy in the world, a lot of the news is being focused on my city of Portland, Oregon, making it look like a war zone and and city on fire. Believe it or not, this simply isn't true. Our people are passionate and willing to fight injustice. While the evenings are focused on protests and police/unwanted feds waging war against them with military-grade weapons, this is a small part of a bigger story. 

The news only shows you two blocks of our entire downtown area. Portland is vast, and these two blocks are small percentage of the area. Not only that, we have volunteers going through picking up trash and police debris to keep our city beautiful. During the day, you will see a complete different view of the city than you will from night time (and even several blocks away at night, you will see a different view). 

The park directly across from the Federal building is home to a place called Riot Ribs. These people are in the park 24/7, running a donation-only, volunteer food operation. They feed the homeless and the protesters, and they also supply homeless with things they need, like medical supplies and clothing. The police and feds have damaged their supplies and grills many times since this started, yet they've returned. One of their volunteers was shot with a rubber bullet and suffered broken ribs, yet they returned. The police went through and took many of their supplies, yet they returned. This is the spirit of the people of Portland. They don't give up in the face of hopelessness over doing what they think is right. 

This is one block away from the photos above.

If you've been following my Instagram, you'll have seen some of these photos already. It's day 60-something now of continuous nightly protests, and Portland isn't letting up. We've grown to include moms, dads, vets, and even grandparents. There were riots the first night, because that is inevitable, so many downtown businesses have plywood covering their windows. If you saw the protests in other cities, you know this is common. The difference here is that local artists saw this as a different opportunity: to create amazing murals that showcased words of hope, awesome city landscapes, beautiful art celebrating Black lives and also those we've lost. 

The city is back to business as usual, as much as possible with Covid, with people shopping and dining out, enjoying the sunshine, and exploring all these new pieces of art. Many restaurants are open for carry-on. Some have added outdoor dining. Our food trucks are open. 

We planned to walk around and grab brunch/early lunch at a food truck, but saw how far apart the tables at one of our favorite restaurants were spaced outside on the sidewalk, so we chose to support them. We kept our masks on when not eating or drinking. We sanitized our hands after touching the menu. The experience was awesome, especially with how nice the weather was. 

Many people who live here are complaining about how our city has been ruined. I have several things to say about that:
  • Go downtown and see it for yourself before you make these claims.
  • Realize that most of these places were shut down due to Covid and some still aren't allowed to reopen. 
  • Restaurants aren't going to look the same if you can't eat inside (a lot of our restaurants are very small, so take-out is their only option). 
  • Support those shops and restaurants that you love so much instead of complaining how they might have to close forever.
  • Realize that not every business is going to make it out of Covid. This is not the fault of protesters, since they don't start protesting until most of these businesses have closed for the night. 
  • Please stop trying to scare people away from the downtown area by repeating things you don't have proof of. Many of my friends have gone downtown (or work there) and have a very different experience than what the news is showing. Again, this is just two blocks of the entire area.
  • Know that volunteers have asked to remove graffiti (from courthouse and surrounding buildings) and the city has repeatedly told them no. This graffiti you see is not happening night after night, as the news wants you to believe. It is the same graffiti that is being added to and will eventually be painted over.

Black lives still matter. Listening to the people still matters. Police who decide to teargas unarmed people instead of having a dialogue are not good (at the very least). You can watch live feeds from independent reporters on Woke.net. These are the same feeds the police watch. Equality and representation is important. The people have the right to protest. If you want to learn more about the protests and the government, check out this long, but informative article.

I'm sorry if you don't agree with this, but I hope that it gives others some perspective on what our city actually looks like and that it's not dangerous or in ruins or full of roving gangs of looters. We had a lovely day out admiring all this fabulous new artwork, since there are many things we still can't do and all festivals & gatherings have been cancelled until the foreseeable future. If nothing else, it was a very affordable way to see the city and gave us some much needed exercise. 

I hope you will still consider visiting Portland when this is all over and it's safe to travel again. What do you think people are seeing about your city that aren't true?

Saturday, July 25, 2020

How To Pack Light For Your Next Getaway

With everything happening in the world right now, people are hoping to still get away, but one has to be safe when they do. Taking a weekend getaway or a short road trip can be fun, safe, affordable, and give you a bit of your sanity back. If you're traveling with family, cut down on things you need to take by packing light (which I do even when traveling alone, because I don't want to keep track of too much and I don't want to carry a heavy bag). 
When you fly to your destination, one of the easiest ways to save – time and money – is by traveling carry-on only. Road trips give you more flexibility, but you still have a finite amount of space. Use that extra space for your cooler and your kids or dog, if you have them. You don’t need much for a few days, which means you can pack quickly. I always have a packing list to help me keep the number of items down and also to make sure I don’t forget any of the essentials. I know when I get to my destination I can probably buy whatever I missed packing, since a weekend getaway isn’t going to take me that far from home, but right now, cutting down your contact with people is essential, so make sure you bring it all with you, including your Coronavirus safety kit. Here’s how to build your packing list:

Instead of even travel-size shampoo/conditioner, these samples can work for a weekend getaway
Normally, I take this 3oz hand cream, but these two sample packs are more than enough for 3 days
Save those samples
I know I’m not the only one that has a bag full of samples and trial-size health and beauty items. Every purchase I make from Sephora or other department store makeup counters comes with mini sizes of beauty products. I also sign up for many freebies online. When I travel, I go through and see what I can use and then pack it in my 3-1-1 or toiletry bag. I’m never going to use a full-size thing on a two-week trip, much less just a few days, so there’s no point bringing a whole container of anything, be it toothpaste, moisturizer or shampoo.

Pare down your beauty routine
Even with all your travel-size items, it's still smart to take less. If you have an extensive morning routine at home, see what you can just get away with. I don’t load up on the makeup normally, so I figure there’s no point in taking a bunch of unnecessary items that I’ll probably not use. I know when I wake up I’m going to do the bare minimum so I can hurry up and get on with my day. Four or five products are all I need: moisturizer, foundation, powder, blush or highlighter and mascara. (optional). See what things you can do without. If you are an eye makeup kinda girl, look for makeup palettes that have everything you need in a neat little package, so you don’t have to pack everything separately. My new favorite is the honey palette from Urban Decay.

Decant, decant, decant
Sometimes you can't find samples of your fave products, but you don't need to waste space by bringing even a large travel-size container. In this case, I say decant. Eric has a fantastic shave cream from Kiehl's, but it takes very little for each use, so I put some in a travel pot and kept the actual container at home. This makes it doubly perfect for traveling.

Pack multipurpose items
I love it when things do more than one thing. Cheek tint that is also a lip stain. Tinted moisturizer with SPF instead of sunscreen, moisturizer and foundation. A maxi skirt that can also be worn as a dress. A tablet for games, books, email and internet. All these things are perfect companions for your carry-on bag, because they take up less space.

Two people's clothing for a week in Vegas that all fit into a weekender bag.

Mix and match
As always, when you coordinate all your clothing, it’s super easy to pack in a carry-on. Two bottoms and three tops can mix and match to make SIX outfits. That’s way more than you’ll need for a long weekend. Don’t forget that what you wear in transit can also be rotated in as needed. And shoes! You should take two pair – max. Make sure they are both comfortable enough to walk in all day. I had a coworker who told me that she had 16 pairs of shoes she wanted to take with her to Mexico on a four day trip. Sixteen! I don’t even think that many shoes would fit in my carry-on and if they did, there would be no room for anything else, except maybe socks and underwear. Her trip was for a wedding, so aside from what she needed for the ceremony, she could have survived with a sun dress, a pair of shorts, her bathing suit and some flip flops. Learning to pack efficiently is important and can save you a ton.

That’s it. Think about what you truly need with you for three or four days and be realistic. Don’t play the “what if” game. Luckily, right now there aren't that many things that you can do spontaneously that you haven't planned for, like going to a club or a fancy dinner.  Sometimes it seems like it might be harder to pack for a short trip than a long one, but with some practice, it can be super simple. Just think, if you don’t bring something that you thought you could live without, by the time you miss it, you’ll probably already be back home.

Yup, that's my actual packing list!

On a normal trip, we take two bottoms, three tops, a pair of sandals/flip flops and a pair of walking shoes (my sandals are walking shoes, so sometimes I take a pair of ballet flats) each and our packable jackets. I throw in a travel dress to wear when I'm feeling lazy. All that and our toiletries fit into our rolling carry-on. 

Don't forget your electronics and their charging cables, plus a travel power strip for your hotel room (if you're staying in one), because they almost never have enough outlets. Then download a good road trip play list and a selection of podcasts and/or audio books and you're good to go!

What are some of your favorite ways to travel light?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

How To Pack Your Road Trip Cooler

I love a good road trip. I take all my own food to save money and know exactly what to pack in my cooler to have a good variety of meals and snacks. A few years ago I road tripped by myself to Las Vegas and did it all in one go. I stopped in order to get out and stretch my legs, make food, or to use the restroom. Instead of spending money on food I already had, I would make a sandwich or have a snack when I stopped, and had plenty of drinks on-hand to keep from getting dehydrated. 

the best foods for road trips

Here's my list of must-have foods for your cooler, especially now when things may or may not be open and we're all trying to stay safe by avoiding too many extra points of contact. I'm not above ordering take-out and enjoying at a park or in the car (not quite as appealing):

All the sandwich fixings:

  • Bread (think about bagels, dinner rolls, or tortillas as a secondary carb to traditional bread)
  • Mayo/Mustard
  • Deli meat (or other meat you enjoy, including chicken or tuna salad)
  • Lettuce
  • Cheese/cream cheese
  • Pickles/pickled veggies - add a big burst of flavor with pickle or pickled veggies like carrots and onions.
  • Peanut butter and jelly - Sometimes you just want something easy and tasty. You can also do peanut butter & banana, peanut butter & apples, or peanut butter & brie. Get creative!
Sandwiches are great road trip food. They are easy to assemble, and you can make them as simple or more involved, depending on how you feel or how much time you have. 

Hearty meal options:
Not everything needs to be a sandwich. Bring other things you like that travel well:
  • Baked or fried chicken
  • Pasta salad
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Pizza (or ham and cheese) Bombs - I've made these before for the plane, but they can totally go with you in the car + they're easy to eat whether you're moving or not.
  • Quinoa salad - You can customize this to your tastes to make it delicious for everyone. One of my vegan friends raved over it, and everyone else enjoyed it as well. 
  • Sushi salad - Get some fresh, bright healthy food in your belly with this deconstructed sushi. 


  • Chips - I love a good variety of chips when I travel. One of my favorites are the fake Cheetos from Trader Joe's.
  • Fruit - pre-cut anything you can ahead of time.
  • Veggies - see above.
  • Dips or salsas
  • Potato salad - I think potato salad goes with a ton of stuff, but at its best next to chicken.
  • Antipasto skewers - I made these for a party, but this is a great way to get a bunch of yummy things in a bite-size, easy-to-eat way, and they're perfect cold. You can make a bunch, put them in a food container and eat one or a bunch in one go. They're better the longer you let them marinate, too.
  • Granola bars - Buy a couple boxes or make your own. You know I always have some bars in my purse wherever I go, but I especially appreciate these on a road trip in between stops.
  • Nuts - These are great for protein and fun to snack on whether you're the driver or a passenger. 
  • Jerky - Also, an easy thing to eat and doesn't make a mess, plus protein! 
  • Sweets - Bring along a few of your preferred candies, or make banana bread, brownies, or cookies, otherwise you'll end up making quite a few stops. Believe me. My choices are always Red Vines (easy to eat and drive), chocolate chip banana bread slices, chocolate-covered peanuts, Reeses cups. I like these blackberry brownies, too. 

Drinks:Don't forget that you're going to get thirsty! I love having a selection of drinks, just like with everything else.
  • A good vacuum thermos to keep whatever you're drinking hot or cold.
  • Water (if you drink a ton of water, consider bringing along a couple gallons of distilled water, which can also work as part of your dog travel kit and/or your coronavirus safety kit 
  • Soda/carbonated water - Cans are easy to pack and take up all the empty spots in a cooler, too. If you aren't a soda person, LaCroix and Bubly are good non-sugary options, and still give you the carbonation you crave.
  • Other beverages you enjoy: ginger beer, juice boxes, wine (for when you get to your destination. Please don't drink and drive.)
  • Hydration packets - We always have a selection of packets that you can add to water to make it less boring, like lemonade, peach tea, or fruit punch. These can really save you from water fatigue.

Everything else:
You're going to need to eat on things and have other items handy for when you make your travel foods.
  • Plates - I usually bring enough reusable plates that can be used, washed, and reused to eliminate a bunch of waste. If this isn't for you, consider grabbing some compostable plates or recyclable plastic plates
  • Reusable utensils - If you've been following me for any amount of time, you know how much I push for responsible and eco-travel as much as possible. Instead of buying countless (and flimsy) sets of plastic utensils, get some that you can use over and over. My faves are these from HumanGear (everyone can have their own color). The back of a spoon can work as a spreader, but if you need a knife, bring a good one from home for bread and cutting things up. 
  • Reusable bags - You're always going to have some extra thing that you want to take with you and need to put in a container of some sort. As an alternative to regular one-use zip-top bags, I have started replacing things with Stasher bags. They're spendy, but well worth the money. There are a lot of alternatives though, if you're looking for something more affordable. They can be washed out and then used again, plus they are okay in the freezer, oven, and boiling water, so they are multipurpose.
  • Cups - I don't usually bring cups with me, because everything is normally in a can, bottle, or my thermos. If you are going with kids though, cups might be a real necessity. Keep them from spilling with these silicone sippy lids. (Also great for wine at the park or the beach.)
Throw some reusable grocery bags in the car for store runs and download a good food app, like Uber Eats or Caviar, to keep contact at a minimum if you aren't camping or don't want to make all your own meals at your vacation. I can completely relate to that. 

You're going to have garbage. Don't just let it roll around on the floor. Bring some plastic bags to keep your trash in until you can properly dispose of it. It's also helpful in case anyone gets motion sickness, because you can't always pull over on the side of the highway. I like to prep for everything, especially in a time when it's not possible to just pop into a store/restaurant to use their restroom.

What are your go-to takealongs when you road trip?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through any of them, I may be monetarily compensated, and I will be super grateful to you for helping me keep my blog running. Cheers!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

How Will Travel Change After Covid?

With Americans now leading the world in Covid cases, we've been banned from the EU and many other countries. As of today, 26 states have been told they should not travel at all, and there isn't one state in the US that meets the Harvard Global Health Institute's risk-assessment standards to be on track for containing Covid within their state. That said, leisure travel is being highly discouraged for the moment, so let's talk about what will happen after we get this virus under control and travel is safe again:

photo credit

It should come as no shock that people are going to travel differently when they can, as well as how they change the way they live. For me, I will probably travel the same amount as before, but will take more precautions. 

Get your own AirplanePockets

I have been moving toward more germ-free for the last few years and I know that I won't be going around the world being as unaware of people and germs as I have been in the past. I do try to keep some amount of distance and I carry wipes and hand sanitizer, but I know I don't use them as much as I should. That'll change. 

The Barrier Method makes such pretty masks.

I think you're going to see more people wearing masks throughout and after this, not just those from Asian countries. I'd love to see this normalized. I also think more people will give you space when in public, especially when in lines and on public transportation when there's room available to do so. I'm hoping there will be stricter cleaning procedures, including seeing people clean items they're touching or going to touch. 

I hope we can also be kinder to people we meet and interact with, because if this has taught us anything, it's that we're all human and we are all on this crazy world together, going through the same things, and you only have this one life.

If you're still looking to travel, maybe think about a road trip that's close to home, and don't forget to put together a coronavirus safety kit.

Will you travel or approach life differently after we are able to do so safely again? Whether you'll do more or less, let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Roadtripping With Your Dog

If I could, I'd take my dog everywhere. Unfortunately, she isn't welcome everywhere even though she's small and better behaved than most children. With more people hitting the road this summer than ever, because it's safer than air travel and being around a bunch of people, you have more options for bringing the dog with you on any trips.

When we travel, we usually leave her at home with my mom, but if we road trip it, chances are pretty good that she's going along for the ride. (See what I did there?) If your furry best friend likes to jump in the car and take a vacation (even a short one), here are some great tips to make it friendly and fun for them as well.

Keep cool
So, its pretty hot in the car and in the summer. Our car doesn't have that fancy dual a/c switch to control the front and the back separately (I have a Kia Rio, it's not THAT big), so to keep the dog cool while driving, we basically have on Max AC and point the vents all at the ceiling so the air gets to her and we freeze our faces off. Another great idea is a Kool Collar. It has a mesh side that goes against your dog's neck that simulates evaporation sweat - because dogs can't do that and wear fur coats all the time - by using ice or their fancy ice packs. We use it at home, we use it at the beach, we use it at the park. No panting. My dog loves it.

You can also invest in a cool mat, which can be put in their crate or bed. They are a bit slide-y, but they make a big difference in keeping your dog's body temperature down. We have a pressure-activated one, which means it doesn't need anything special, but I bet your dog might like it if you could pop it in the fridge or cooler for a bit before you start traveling (don't let it get too cold though). 


Just like you, dogs need to keep hydrated. If you don't have one of those non-spill bowls that are all the rage for travel times, stop for water breaks for everyone, but mostly for your pup, because they don't have thumbs for opening a water bottle. Rikka won't drink while we're moving, so I keep a collapsible silicone bowl in the car and a thermos of ice water. 

Yes, my dog has her own carrier bag, because she's old and gets tired easily.

Make pit stops 

Your dog also can't let you know they are dying for the potty. All that extra water has to go somewhere. Check out the rest areas along your way and plan to stop every few hours to let them do their business and stretch their legs. If you also have kids, you're probably doing this anyway. Then you won't be driving 19 hours straight and swear off road trips forever like that last time.

Comfy up the car

Make sure your dog feels comfy and safe in the car, especially if they get nervous like mine. We bring her bed so we can also bring it inside wherever we stay for the night. She also has her own car seat that allows her to see out the window, be contained and also take a nap.

       She likes the bed, but can't jump up or down, so we made her own little version on the floor when we left.

Make their crate awesome 

I'm not a crate person, but only because my dog spent much of her life in one her first three years and I was sad for her, so I gave her the choice. She spent less and less time in there, so we put it in the garage. If your dog loves their crate, or it's the best way to travel with them not climbing all over everyone and getting in the way, make sure it's comfortable enough to spend hours at a time in. Get them a cushion or blanket so it's soft and inviting.

Jerky's the best, no matter where you are 😁 

Bring home with you 

Just like I like to have a little bit of home with me, dogs feel comforted by something familiar. Bring along a fave blanket/pillow/bed and some toys and they'll be happier.

Stay on schedule

If you feed and walk your pup on a schedule, try to keep as close to that timetable as possible (even if you're giving extra walks and treats - because exercise makes you hungry). It'll keep them from getting confused and feel more normal even in a different place. 

Do some research 

Make sure you know where you can take your dog and where you can't. Find the number of a vet near where you'll be staying. Just in case. Look for dog parks and pet-friendly dining establishments. Many people bring their dogs to the Oregon beaches, so a lot of stores don't mind you shopping with a well-behaved pooch.

Plan ahead

Make sure you're prepared for all the things you're going to do or might happen while you're away from home. Here's a list of what to plan for:
  • bring an extra collar/leash, because you never know when one will get broken or lost.
  • their fave food is obvs to some. Don't take this as an opportunity to have them sample new cuisines. It'll just make them sick.
  • Invest in Doggles. We have a pair of Doggles sunglasses for Rikka to enjoy sitting out in the sun. If your pup likes to stick their head out the window, a pair of dog goggles are good for protecting their eyes from flying debris and might save you a trip to an unknown vet.
  • Going hiking or somewhere hot? Get your pup some shoes. Their paws are pretty sensitive, so you gotta protect them, just like your own feet. If you can't keep the back of your hand on the asphalt/sidewalk for 10 seconds comfortably, don't expect your dog to be able to walk without burning their feet.
  • Bring a life jacket. If your dog likes to jump in the water, make sure they're safe. There are a lot of great ones, including ones that have both a handle and a ring for a leash clip. 
  • Pack a carrier. My little one gets tired fairly easily, so when she starts to lag behind we scoop her up and carry her in a doggie sling (see above pic). She can rest and still be part of things. It's also good for when we head into some shops. 
  • Download some phone apps to find dog parks, rest stops & dog-friendly restaurants. I like iexit and dogfriendly.
  • Things happen. Look up your route along the way and find emergency vet addresses and numbers to have on hand just in case.
  • Don't forget meds/supplements if your dog normally takes them. You can always keep them in the cooler with your snacks and beverages.
  • Make sure your dog is up-to-date on their vaccinations and flea medication.
  • Bring along a first aid kit with items that will work for your dog (gauze, self-sticking wrap, a soft muzzle, etc), because you never know what might happen on a trip or how your dog will react.
Don't forget to bring along your Coronavirus safety kit when you travel to stay safe and healthy! 

How do you like to travel with your dog?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links and if you make a purchase through those links, I may be monetarily compensated. Big thanks in advance if you buy any goodies after clicking through, as this helps me keep this blog running.

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