Friday, January 13, 2017

Bath, England through Jane Austen's Eyes

Dressing up in Regency era clothing such as Jane Austen may have worn

I have realized that I am slowly turning into a woman who could easily slip into a Jane Austen novel. Alas, I am not becoming one of those spirited, self-assured main characters in the tradition of Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. Instead, I am displaying all the old-fashion qualities of a mother worried about social graces and fine manners. At eleven years old, my daughter is on the brink of becoming a "young lady," and against her will, I signed her up for etiquette classes (a.k.a. "charm school").

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Walk on the Yorkshire Moors with the Brontë Sisters

Today is the perfect, lazy day for curling up with a good book. The weather is unusually cold... well, for Central Texas... just a tad below freezing. The sky is dark with clouds, and the trees have lost their leaves. It's the type of gloomy, Gothic setting I pictured  when reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë or Jane Eyre by her sister, Charlotte Brontë. A place inhabited by dark and brooding types.




Ever since I read those novels in high school and at university, I've always wondered what it was like to stroll along the Yorkshire moors. Growing up amid the metropolitan sprawl and suburban strip malls of flat-as-a-pancake Houston, it was difficult to picture myself inserted into such a foreign scene. So, when we decided to visit York, England last summer, I was seized with the notion of making a pilgrimage to  the Brontë Parsonage in the tiny village of Haworth and finally walking among the heather in the rolling moorlands. "It's just a 90-minute drive from York," I explained to my husband with pleading, puppy dog eyes." How could he resist?

Friday, December 30, 2016

Traveling Near and Far in 2016

2016 is what I'm calling "the New Normal." It's been two-and-a-half years since we returned to Texas from our three year expat assignment living in Malaysia. There's no doubt about it. Malaysia was a turning point in family travel for us. Before that, we fell into the "One Big Trip a Year" category, typically during the summer. Most holidays were spent visiting our families who live 3 hours away in Houston where both hubby and I grew up. With the overseas move, we were in a rush to squeeze in as much travel as possible while living on the other side of the world. It really helped that almost all our friends were in the same mode.

The "New Normal" is a mix of both styles. We still drive to Houston for Easter, Fourth of July (USA's Independence Day), Thanksgiving, Christmas and other weekends here and there. But, we managed to take three big family trips this year, too. On top of that, hubby spends a total of one month in Malaysia and one month in Hungary on business.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Favorite Photos from 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, I am reminded how much I rely on my photos to jog my memory about all that I've done throughout the year. If I didn't take photos, I swear that I would completely forget half of it. That's part of the reason why I blog... to remind myself of where I've been. There are a few images, however, that stand out in my mind either because I like the visual or because of the story behind it. Here are some of my favorites from the past year.

Monday, December 12, 2016

GPSmyCity Travel Article App review & giveaway

On my family’s trip to England this year, I tried a travel article app for the first time after winning one in a giveaway. It was free, so why not? After downloading GPSmyCity and getting a few clicks in, I was already won over. I would gladly pay for travel assistance like this in the palm of my hand. What exactly is GPSmyCity? It’s an app you can download onto your iOS device that delivers travel articles, city specific tours and GPS-guided navigation all in one place. (Android version will be launched in 2017.)





Ever since I discovered travel blogs, they have factored heavily into my trip planning. After reading them, I usually use a combination of different apps to pin info about where I wanted to visit, to map where they were all located relative to each other and to figure out directions to get from one place to the next. Once I started using GPSmyCity, I realized that I could finally do it all on one app without having to switch back and forth.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

ICE! Sculptures at Gaylord Hotels

A life-size nativity scene carved entirely out of ice


Every winter, I get a little jealous when people visiting colder climes start sharing photos of ice sculpture festivals and ice hotels. In Texas, Mother Nature does not keep the outdoors cold enough for us to enjoy such things. December weather is all over the place. Some Christmases, it's been warm enough to wear shorts. On another, more magical Christmas, snow flurries fell from the sky, causing my children to abandon their half-unwrapped gifts to run outside. When I heard about the Gaylord Texan Resort hotel's ICE! Winter Wonderland, I knew that it would be the perfect mini-getaway during our holiday school break. Gaylord Hotels has four locations around the USA, each with a different themed ICE! exhibit.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Fading Art of Map Reading

What's your favorite way to figure out directions to a place? Maps app? Google Maps? Waze?

I'm all for using my smartphone apps now, but I remember how fantastic I thought the portable Garmin GPS Navigator System was when I first bought it many, many years ago. Just plug in my destination, and it gave me turn-by-turn instructions in real time. Miraculous! It was a pain, though, whenever the suction cup gave way, and the entire thing tumbled onto the floor just out of reach on the passenger side. Luckily, I could haul it over to me by grabbing onto the power cord.
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