a zero waste practice vacation.


At the end of February, we attempted to have a little 4 day getaway to Southern Utah, before Jonathan’s busy work season kicked in. Alas, we made it a whole 24 hours before making the 5.5 hour drive home, due to a toddler who simply WAS NOT HAVING the hotel stay (one night was enough for us, and our poor neighbors).

I was excited about the trip not only because I was looking forward to the uninterrupted family time, but also because I was really excited to implement all my new zero waste planning and knowledge into the trip. While I’m minimizing our waste really drastically in the home, being out and about is where I still struggle. So I had done a LOT of planning ahead to get ready for this trip. Leaving the house for any length of time with a toddler takes preparation, so a 12 hour round-trip drive, plus four nights in a hotel can require some effort. And you guys, I was prepared. I packed a zero waste kit for the trip that included reusable everything: containers, bamboo utensils wrapped in cloth napkins, coffee mug and water bottles, a paring knife and cutting board for fruit and a tiny bottle of Castile soap to wash things between uses, plus a few dish towels.


Our plan was to eliminate going out to eat the majority of the time, by packing our own, and hitting the local grocery store for provisions for the remainder of the trip. I brought a cooler down and we packed plenty of bulk-bin-purchased snacks and our lunch for the drive. We stopped at a cute little park to eat and let Hannah run off some pent up energy before resuming the journey. I prepacked bagel sandwiches and fruit and we ate and played.


I even brought a reusable grocery bag to haul home anything recyclable and a coffee can for anything we could compost! For the drive, I borrowed plenty of books from the library for Hannah to browse (she LOVES books) and brought the iPad for Curious George fixes. I borrowed a few audio books from the library for J and I to listen to, and I crocheted.

St. George is beautiful and a bit warmer than home, so the trip plans were to scope out parks, Zion National Park, go swimming, and just enjoy the sun. After a horrible night with a sad little munchkin, we decided to spend the second day at Zion National Park, driving around and hiking an easy trail, then head for home. 😦 It was a bummer, but I was glad to see a part of my state I’d not seen before, and I learned a few things for our next adventure – like that camping is really our best option for now. 😉



yellowstone pics, better late than never (?)

It’s been almost two months since our Yellowstone/Jackson Hole trip and I can’t believe I haven’t posted something about it! My new motto in life is “done is better than perfect” so I’m putting up this no-text (except this intro) post. We had a great time! Such a beautiful place. The pictures and lack of post don’t do it enough justice, but at least SOME justice. I can’t wait to go back!




IMG_1015 IMG_0997  IMG_1091 IMG_1074   IMG_1146  Continue reading “yellowstone pics, better late than never (?)”

i heart new york.

It is bizarre to think I was in New York just a bit over a week before Hurricane Sandy and the devastation in the east. Watching the news and seeing the flooding in the subway stations, boardwalk, and Battery Park, I was thinking.. I was just there. It somehow solidified the feeling that I left a part of myself there.

The big, pulsing city. Somehow being there, among the art and diversity and culture and the most well-off and the most down-trodden, I felt more American. There’s the symbol of the opportunity in this country mixed with the bleak reminder of the evils of terrorism and the corruption of capitalism. It’s all there: the ugliness and the hope.

And the art. I love being in a place you can see an original Warhol, a limited edition Prada bag, and the best street graffiti in one day {cuz I did}. It’s visual and inspirational overload for an artist’s soul like mine.

We did all the essential things. MoMA, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty. And the quirky things. Off-Broadway, Coney Island (we tried). But I suppose I felt less self-conscious of my tourist-ness than I usually do. Maybe because there’s no “right” way to be in a city that diverse? Or maybe because the city is important enough to warrant photo-documentation.

The city doesn’t need us. It doesn’t care we were there. Except maybe the homeless guy we bought some food for, we left no mark. It felt more like I was understanding rather than observing. It all sinks in and you feel a part of something.

Maybe that’s why the east coast weather these past few days seems surreal to me, all the way back in cozy, safe Utah. You can’t visit New York without feeling how the city has endured. It wears its scars like badges. The “survivor trees” at the Twin Towers 9-11 Memorial were sobering and poetic. In the entire block, a few trees were all to survive the destruction and they were nursed back to health, blocked off and protected as living monuments.

Battery Park was also recently flooded and suffered some damage. This is where we boarded the ferry to Liberty Island. The park is the new home of this sculpture, which was moved from the Twin Towers wreckage during reconstruction to keep it safe. No restoration was done to this statue, so scorch marks, dents and all, this piece of art had a really somber effect on me and I wondered about how it fared the storms.

My favorite part of the trip was wandering around Brooklyn. It’s got that you-know-it-when-you-feel-it soul. I sort of thought I would feel more of that during the trip but every neighborhood really had it’s own atmosphere and to me, Brooklyn felt like it could be home. There is art in its crumbliness.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is a must-do. You can see everything while still being fully part of it.

We tried to go to Coney Island, but it was closed for the season. I took photos from outside the gate because I love creepy signs. Abandoned amusement parks stuck in a previous time. It’s the perfect setting for a horror flick.. or a really offbeat and awesome wedding reception.

It’s strange, the things about a place that can stick with you the most. For me it was a general feeling of blending. Somehow we all fit in, and it’s hard to remember that in the suburbs. I’m probably meant to be a big city girl, but it will survive without me.

NYC instagram

I’m the worst blogger, and an even worse travel blogger. I have the best of intentions, but when I get back from a trip I generally am exhausted and behind at life (duh) and the last thing I want to do it edit photos and write a blog post. Isn’t that so sad? Vacations deserve documentation, after all. So, I promise I will get around to recapping some of the highlights from our NYC trip last week. It was a great time, and an amazing city.

For now I will post at least some of my favorite Instagram shots (sorry for those of you who already follow me or see them on Facebook).

We rolled into the city at 5:30am on the red eye, and took the world’s spendiest cab ride to Time Square. This was the least crowded we experienced the city the entire time.

We stayed in a hostel called the NY Budget Inn. It was located in a great area so it was well worth surrendering the frills (and hot water). Any legitimate hotel in the city would have cost 3 times more. We barely spent time in our tiny prison-cell room.

We took the subway all over because it was the most cost effective way to get around. I loved that every stop had different art and flavor. This stop had mosaic eyes all over – dozens of them, all different.

The view from the Empire State Building was breathtaking.

Central Park was one of my favorite things. There’s a large area paying tribute to John Lennon. Yoko Ono paid for the restoration of the area and for the cost of the tribute. It was beautiful.

This was one of the lakes in the park.

Pizza everywhere! I loved this vintage-looking signage.

We went to see Avenue Q, an off-Broadway show, that was totally hilarious. It was in a cool little theater called New World Theater that had the best mod art. I liked how this mural looked with my graphic umbrella.

We took the ferry to Liberty Island. So fun! I loved seeing Lady Liberty in person. It really is surreal.

A few of the city from Liberty Island.

The American Museum of Natural History was awesome. We had to skip so much because it’s easily an all-day event if you wanted to see it all. I loved the dinosaurs and the Universe exhibits the most. It made me realize how I need to brush up on my astronomy one of these days.

Brooklyn was my favorite neighborhoor, by far. So artsy, old and full of character. Great buildings. We wandered around all day.

Under the bridge.

We took the subway alllll  the way to Coney Island, only to find it was closed for the season. It made for creepier shots. What a kitschy place.

The MoMA in NYC was a bit disapointing, honestly. The Frida Kahlo pieces were all gone, and there’s a huge chunk of modern art I just don’t appreciate or understand. I was drawn to the really graphic and text pieces mostly, like this one.

Time Square in the daylight. This one actually gives a sense of the crowds everywhere. It was pretty insane as expected.

Fun vacay! And hubby was a trooper as always, for trecking the city and keeping us from getting too lost. Most of the time. Lookit those bags under my eyes! Successful, exhausting trip.

empire state of mind.

We are going to NYC next month!

A couple of years ago, I put the trip on my list of 30 things to do before I turn 30, and heading there when I’m 29 seems like a great (possibly) last trip to end my 20s.

..And not that the end of my 20s means the end of carefree life, but lately I’ve been feeling a little too old for my age. I want to make this trip fun and nonstop and exhausting just because I can. Could I use a relaxing vacation? Hell yes. But the next decades of life are for sleep. 😉

For this trip, we’re keeping it all about experiencing every bit of the city we can, scrimping on the amenities in favor of spending our vacation budget on the fun stuff. We’re flying in on a red eye, so we’ll be starting the trip out with immediate sleep deprivation. We’ll be staying in a hostel! ..Where we rent towels and share a bathroom with European college kids, Korean families and assorted hipsters.  And, we are backpacking it. Carry-on only, for a week, just in case we want to pick up and move locations on a whim, and so it’s just not about the hassle of stuff. Thus the following edited packing list {you know I can’t pass up a packing collage}.

On the agenda:

Empire State Building, ferry to the Statue of Liberty, art museums, Broadway show, Brooklyn, SoHo, rocks shows, vegan joints, divey bars, nice clubs, Times Square, Central Park.. what else do you recommend we try to fit in?

What are your favorite things about NYC?

Death Valley

In college I worked as a Researcher/Writer for the National Scenic Byways website. Basically I got to read and write about different places around the country I was too poor to visit. It was awesome. Death Valley Scenic Byway was my fav.

I wrote this little snippet back in 2004. That’s as in-depth as our intros may have been but I read about it for hours. I felt like I knew it well because I was so fascinated by the weirdness of it and vowed to make it there one day. Eight years later I finally planned a from-Vegas road trip to Death Valley, armed with my Holga. Here’s a bit about our day-trip.

My initial impression of the place – it goes on for what feels like forever. And because it’s just hills and valleys as far as you can see, impressive and shocking landscapes unfold along the drive as you wind around. The entire place, at least in January, is very sparse, baron, and other-worldly. But it’s washed in pastels, layered with bizarre textures, and so peaceful.

Artist’s Drive is a gorgeous geological loop. The minerals of the earth gave the place a watercolor effect – greens, pinks, blues, yellows.

My favorite place was Devil’s Golf Course. It’s beautiful and ugly at the same time. The mineral formations are hard enough you can stand on the thinnest, pointiest sections without even budging them. You could impale yourself if you fell down while walking through this. I imagine millions of people have tried to photograph this weird landscape only to be disappointed that the photos didn’t do the place any justice. It feels like you are on the edge of an uninhabited planet.

The Badwater salt flats area is the most bizarre to me because I saw people walking out miles in the distance through the flats. Just walking and surrounded by whiteness. It looks like the perfect location for alien abduction.

This crater was caused by hot air trapped under the earth. One day is just exploded. This would have been an awesome Holga candidate if I hadn’t left the lens cap on- doh! (:

Hoping my Holga pix turn out – I’ll be sure to post if they do!


So, we were in Vegas for a long weekend. The trip was DRAMZZ. I have stories. Some of them I will share. haha. Later. Hubby survived his 30th {happy birthday, babe!} and despite the fact that eleventy crazy things happened, we had tons of fun and we have some seriously hilarious memories. Vegas remains a place I can’t wait to leave. I’m glad it’s weird but I’m more glad I’m rarely there.

Soon I’ll be ready to talk about it. 😛

But now there are squirmier, happier, cuddlier, puppier things going on.

This is Paisley.

We just brought her home tonight and we are already smitten. So is her big sis, Sadie, although at first she was just confused.

They are already playing. And it is so adorable. (:

I’m already sleep-deprived so it’s going to be a long week! Welcome to the family, lil’ missy.

vegas, baby

Headed to Vegas on Thursday for a long weekend and hubby’s 30th birthday celebration! On the {packed} agenda – Cirque du Soleil show, Death Valley day trip, Swap Meet, dueling piano bar, the Arts Factory, Batiste’s Hole in the Wall Italian joint, a few hours at the gym, neon museum, aquarium … phew! … and homework crammed in there somewhere for me…

I am a believer in packing light despite the random assortment of sartorial needs {thus organizing ahead of time}. Here’s all that’s coming with me {sans personal items, cameras, and probably a bracelet or 12}:


Hawaiian vacation – Oahu

Finally getting the chance to blog about the last of our trip.

Sunday was the hubby’s birthday, and we left Maui in the afternoon. By the time we got to our hotel (the right hotel- there was a mixup with the shuttle service…), it was almost sunset. We stayed right on Waikiki Beach, which is eons different than our Maui experience!  It’s definitely beautiful, but more like a college spring break party. We hit the end of a happy hour nearby and watched the sunset and sipped birthday drinks.

We spent the rest of the day and night strolling the Waikiki Beach Walk, sipping fruity drinks, seeking out the most delicious-looking dessert to qualify as Jonathan’s late-night birthday cake, and sitting in the sand.

The next day we got up early and picked up a convertible (we weren’t going to rent a car but changed our mind when we saw how long all the tours were). We headed to Pearl Harbor first. I work for a defense contract and know lots of fine military folks and have family in the military. It’s impossible not to think of them and really appreciate what they’ve done for our country, when you visit Pearl Harbor.

After that we drove the North Shore and watched surfers, spent time on various beaches, found enormous slices of pizza for lunch, and drank the milk out of coconuts from a roadside stand. Yum!

Our final day in Hawaii was so fun, but so sad – it was going to be so hard to leave! We mainly spent beach time all day. I was determined to bring home a bit of a tan and we wanted to soak up all the sunshine we could before coming to back to dreary Utah. Jonathan did more snorkeling and I napped in the sun. We had some shave ice (yum!) and walked around picking up the last of the souveniers we wanted to bring back for family and friends.

So sad to leave, but hopefully we will go back one day! What an amazing place! Thanks for reading about our vacation. (: By the way – lots more photos here.

Hawaiian vacation – Maui

We’ve been back from Hawaii for a week and a half now, and I am only just getting around to posting. I wanted to spend some time and give a detailed account of our fantastic trip, giving it the attention it deserved. It was absolutely perfect. But unfortunately reality slapped me in the face when returning to (cold)  Utah, with a conference to plan at work, WAY too much homework to contend with, and on top of all of it I let the jetlag and backlog wear me down and I’ve been sick for the past few days. Bummer, dude. So thus why I am just getting around to posting today about a trip that was totally great. I would go back to Hawaii in a SECOND.

We spent time on Maui and Oahu, but I will focus on Maui for now since I’m limited on time! I will post about Oahu tomorrow, hopefully!

On Maui, we stayed at Hotel Wailea, a really charming place with seperate little bungalows (kind of – there were 4 to a unit). Ours must have had the best view of the ocean of all the units – it was absolutely gorgeous. We got in at night and didn’t realize what we would wake up to. Which was the sound of tropical birds and moody early-morning views of tropical foliage and ocean. Perfect.

All of our time in Hawaii was filled up because there is just so much to do and see. Luckily I actually scheduled us in some beach time or it may not have happened, and that would have been tragic. It was my favorite part. Day 1 we drove the Road to Hana. Everyone talks about this. It’s as gorgeous as they say. But what you don’t realize is it’s SO long. 15 miles or so doesn’t seem like much at all, but on a twisty, turny, narrow road, it is so, so long. We had a luau we’d pre-paid for scheduled at 5pm and we barely made it back in time and we didn’t even make the entire drive. But it was amazing, and filled with lava-sand beaches, waterfalls, moss-covered bridges, and charming shrimp shack establishments.

One thing that immediately made an impression on me is how nice everyone was in Hawaii. The cab drivers were not the Vegas-variety, our waitresses were not the jaded Utah variety. Everyone wanted to give you tips on where to go, what to see, and learn about you. You could absolutely show up with no plan and rely on the locals to plan your trip minute-by-minute. Every single person we met, without exception, was helpful and warm and genuinely happy to meet us. I am convinced, it is impossible to be in a bad mood on Maui, Hawaii!

The luau was brilliant! No good pictures of the dancing due to weird lighting but it was very fun. The Kalua pork was phenominal even though I had a hard time getting past seeing it whole and roasted first! And I could live on fresh pineapple! Hula dancing is so beautiful, and it can almost make me trance out like a Portishead show. I don’t own anything tropical and luau-ish, so I made due with a flower in my hair.

Day 2, we got up early and did some snorkleing! I’d never swam in the ocean and I was totally freaked out that I could paddle around and breathe while looking around with my eyes open! (As a forever-contacts wearer, swimming just isn’t that awesome normally!). We saw a few fish (nothing too notable, unfortunately, except the eel I saw!) We spent time on the beach and for the first time in my adult life, I wore a bikini in public, with nothing over it. This was kind of a big deal for me (enough so it was an item on my list of 30 things to do before I turn 30!- check!). The beach we went to in Maui was luxurious- we got chairs and umbrellas and towels with our hotel access card (perk!) and soaked up sun amongst the rich folks!

Ahead of time we purchased tickets on a whale-watching tour, reading that January was prime whale-watching season, so we spent our afternoon on a boat sipping mai tais and watching for the world’s most ah-inspiring creatures. And I don’t mean that the cliche way, I mean literally, everyone would say “ahhhhh!” ohhhh!” whenever a whale would so much as show its tail. We saw dozens of whales and the sunset was magical. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone traveling to Maui. This was the trip bargain – $30 for both of us for a 2 hour tour – just search the web for great deals.

Our final day in Maui, we spent more beach time before our afternoon flight back to Oahu for a few more days. That was Sunday, and Jonathan’s 29th birthday! Lucky boy, his first ever warm-weather birthday! It was so hard to leave knowing the next island would be equally lovely but more more city-like. We had no idea! I will give you all some Honolulu details shortly.