Posted in family and home, Lifestyle, Motivation, Travel Log

Geneva: Who knew traveling and dining in the City could give us the best souvenir we could ever imagine?

Night or day, transportation and food in Geneva did not disappoint.
While it was easy, it was still COLD.
After all, we were in Geneva in the winter!

In preparing for my family’s trip to Geneva, one of the things I repeatedly came across was how expensive the city was. And really, the cost of food was a bit of a shock; however, it was worth it. Oh. So. Worth. It.

Perhaps to offset that, Geneva provides some of the most efficient and wide-spread public transportation I have ever experienced. Now don’t get me wrong, I live in a small town in Northern California where public transportation isn’t really a thing. But even with my relatively limited experiences with big-city transport (think San Francisco, Boston, Chicago), I was impressed.

As an added bonus, most hotels in Geneva, including ours, provided public transportation passes to their guests during the duration of your stay. This was especially important to us as we were technically staying outside of Geneva proper, in the smaller township of Meryn. Daily trips into the city only took us about 20 minutes, or perhaps a little longer if we were going outside the main area of the city.

The transportation system was entirely in French, however, the lines running in and out of the city on both the trams and buses were super easy to understand…and since I’m a bit of a Type A personality, Google Maps also kept us on track.

Once inside the main part of the City, the Jet D’Eau (or “Old Spouty”) really acted as a gauge for where we were. This fountain, located in Lake Leman, started out as a pressure release valve for the City’s water system. Now, it is a giant symbol of Geneva proper and can be seen throughout the entire city for the most part. We had fun trying to find it where ever we were and often used it to walk back to the tram station we used most often called “Bel Air.”

Jet D’Eau in the morning

One of our favorite thing to do as a family was to meet up with Jason after he was done with work to eat a meal at a cafe or restaurant. We would often pick a small eatery close to where-ever the kids and I had been that day and Jason would hop on the tram to meet us.

A word of caution, food is on a strict schedule in Geneva.

Fondue on our final night

Breakfast is typically open from 7am to about 9am

Lunch from 12pm to about 2:30pm

One of our favorite cafes had a
rabbit theme. How could you
resist taking photos?

Dinner starts at 6pm and goes until about 2am

These were not negotiable. So we learned rather quickly to time our meals to the schedule of the restaurants.

However, dining in Geneva was so much different than what my family typically experiences. Usually we eat a meal in 20 minutes to 45 minutes at a restaurant. In Geneva we were expected to be there at least an hour or two. I got the impression that we could have stayed for 3 hours and still have been fine. And we would always have to ask for the bill; once you were there to eat, you were there for the duration. My family really embraced this style of eating. In fact, now that we are home, the kids have asked for us to have a longer meal once a month so we can spend some time at the table “like Geneva” and just catch up with one another.

These two aspects of any city are essential to having a smooth and pleasant vacation and my family was more than pleasantly surprised by both. More importantly, these practical and necessary parts of our trip gave us one of the most valuable things we brought home. A genuine understanding of why slow family meals are important; a cultural insight that I am so glad we have brought home to our little family.

Posted in family and home, Lifestyle, Travel Log

Geneva: History Comes to Life with La Escalade

Here we are in front of Jet D’eau (or “Old Spouty” as we came to call him throughout the week). This truly is a symbol of Geneva. Throughout the week we used it to get our bearings and to remind us of what an amazing adventure we were on.

Sometimes an opportunity comes along you just cannot refuse. This happened to my family in December when my husband was asked to teach for a week in Geneva. We jumped on the opportunity to take the kids; even though this was definitely not a trip we had planned for at all. Geneva has never been on my radar as somewhere we would go independent of a larger trip to Switzerland. Finances were also a concern given the fact that we had done zero planning in advance for this trip-which was scheduled approximately 4 weeks before we left.

In fact, immediately I was faced with the choice: Do we do an in depth week in the city or do we tackle a more broader trip with the kids (and without my husband)? I knew nothing about Geneva, other than it housed the United Nations AND that it was the hub of Swiss banking. However, given time constraints and the fact that we did want to actually hang out with Jason after he was done teaching for the day, we opted to dig deep into the city of Geneva.

I am SO glad that we did!

First of all, every year Geneva celebrates in its Old Town the Fete De La Escalade, which commemorates the City’s victory over a Paris invasion in 1608. This festival just so happened to be the weekend we arrived. It involved patrols of the Old Town by soldiers in period clothing (a portion of Geneva that is filled with cobblestone and notably, St. Peter’s Cathedral), demonstrations of drums, sword fighting, mulled wine and sausages, a SECRET TUNNEL only opened one weekend a year, and ends with a giant bonfire at the base of St. Peters. Approximately 600 volunteers march through the city to ignite the fire and celebrate their continued independence.

Oh and let’s not forget the chocolate sculpted cauldrons with sculpted candy vegetables that you break open with a sword in celebration! We got in on the action ourselves by buying a small pot and breaking it open with Maizy’s Swiss Army Knife!

The City was full of Chocolate Shops selling these beauties! We opted to get our’s at the convenience store call Migros. It quickly became one of our favorite places to stop and get a snack.

I would say one of the highlights of the festival was the free access to the bell towers in St. Peter’s Cathedral. If you arrived after 2pm you were given access to all three. This involved what seemed like a never ending ascension into the towers by winding cobblestone and rock stairways. There were three separate towers: The original bell tower (which was complete with hand rung bells), the mechanical tower, and the watch tower.

We stopped for a photo during our never ending climb.

St. Peter’s Cathedral served as a lookout for invaders and was continuously manned until after the end of WW1. The bell in that tower was used to warn the city about fire and invasion up until that time.

What an experience we had being thrown into the heart of this truly Genevian celebration. Geneva is primarily a French speaking town; although we were able to communicate just fine with our limited French ability (think Google translate) because most people understood and spoke English as well. Regardless, our experience with the festival was truly magical. We felt like we got to see a glimpse into a side of the City not available any other time of the year.

Posted in family and home, HD Beauty, HD You, Lifestyle, Travel Log

Day Tripping: A Family Hike in Chico’s Seed Orchard

Who knew there was a Seed Orchard in Chico, California? Anyone? I certainly had no idea what a seed orchard was, much less that there was one in Chico, California. That is, until I scrolled across a video posted by @explorebuttecountyca this week:

As a lifelong Butte County resident I had never heard of this place. So, this Sunday, we took the opportunity to take the kids and explore this hidden gem. Turns out the Chico Seed Orchard is part of the Mendocino National Forest and is 209 acres designated to plant breeding, research and introduction for different plants all around the world. It is also a place to preserve two of our areas most common trees: Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Firs. There happen to be seed orchards all around the State! They have a secondary function of recreation-which was exactly why were were there.

First of all, this place is literally tucked away in South Chico behind an industrial area and between several homes. You park outside the chain link fence surrounding the area and walk in to the facility. They have a short hiking trial that meanders alongside Camache Creek. There are no shortage of picnic tables and benches to sit at, making for a great environment should you want to escape into the trees for a bit. The water was swift, cold and intense; probably because of the intense snow pack we have up in the Sierra’s right now.

The path is paved; however, the trees themselves are quite overgrown, making for a beautiful and peaceful walk. We encountered several groups while we were out there, mostly having a stroll and watching the water, just like us. While we encountered many different types of trees along the walk, it was difficult to ascertain their unique features because of the overgrowth. I found that aspect of the walk beautiful. Nature overtaking nature as if it were going to go back to its original form one way or another.

The kids’ favorite was the large bamboo growing right behind the Ranger’s station (which was a rather adorable main house and outbuilding). Of course we stopped and did our best tree poses in the bamboo, while Jason zenned out on a bench carved out of a log, while watching the water just roll on by.

Jason’s zen. The sounds of Camache Creek

It took us about an hour to walk the whole path and to check out some of the orchards that were clearly designated for tree production. We saw lizards, birds and squirrels everywhere and the place was so quiet. As we were leaving several groups had entered the park with food, clearly intending to spend a quiet Sunday with the trees.

More information on the Chico Seed Forest can be found HERE.

Posted in HD You, Lifestyle, Motivation, Self Care, Year of Self Love

Week 23: Change your space, change your perspective

In law school I would find myself spending an obnoxious amount of time, right around finals, cleaning my apartment. At the time I thought it was a classic avoidance technique…I will clean so I don’t need to focus on what really matters, my studies.

Today I think what was really going on was much different. You see, in law school, I would spend an entire semester cramming my head full of terminology, case law, statutes, common law and the like into my brain. My brain would be full by the end of the semester. No more penguins could fit on that iceberg come May.

In fact, towards the end of the semester I was known for forgetting the name to common household items (it was a spoon) AND for putting stamps on the wrong side of the envelope. Too many penguins on the iceberg resulted in good penguins jumping ship!

Anyway, what I really think was going on during these cleaning frenzies was that my mind needed a fresh perspective and by cleaning and reorganizing my living space, it was allowed to take a breather and have a fresh perspective, so that my brain could organize and focus.

That is what the year of self love challenge is focusing on this week. Take some time to rearrange your living space. It could be your bedroom, office or even the bathroom. Buy a new bedspread. Get out a different set of dishes.

What ever it is rearrange the living spaces in your life differently to allow that fresh perspective to sneak in. Your brain (and those penguins) will thank you for it.

Posted in HD You, Lifestyle, Motivation, Self Care, Uncategorized, Year of Self Love

Week 22: Try a new hairdo or a fresh look

3 inches off the bottom should do it! New hairdo completed; now it’s time to bring on summer!

I’m a firm believer that problems get solved with some fresh perspective. This is true when you are working too hard (just take a walk or run your ideas by someone else) or when you are in a rut (try something new and see how inspired you get).

That’s why I love this week’s challenge so much! In a year devoted to loving yourself as best you can, what better way is there to get a fresh perspective about yourself? Try a new hairstyle or makeup look.

For me that meant cutting a couple inches off the bottom to get ready for summer. My head feels so much lighter now that that dead weight is off. I’m ready to see where the next 6 months of the year takes me for sure.

This doesn’t have to be extreme. Maybe part your hair a different way or try a new style.

Go to a beauty counter and have them give you a new lip or eye option.

The possibilities are as minimal or as extreme as you want them.

Oh, and I also resurrected an old hairstyle this week as well. You have to put on a scrunchie with a high ponytail when you go to see New Kids on the Block!

NKOTB 4EVER!!!
Posted in Ballet, grit and glitter, HD Beauty, HD You, Lifestyle, Motivation, Self Care, Year of Self Love

Week 21: Get up and move!

Tutus on the Barre at Northern California School of Ballet, Oroville

Getting up in the morning and moving a bit has been one of the best things I have done for myself in a long time. It gets my body moving, helps to stretch me out and gets the blood flowing to my brain.

My movement is simple: 30 jumping jacks, 30 second plank and either burpees or kettle-bell swings. It takes me 5-10 minutes, but the effects on my mood are astounding. I am awake, rejuvenated and ready to take on the day.

This week, pick out your favorite exercise outfit and get moving in the morning. It doesn’t have to be long…but it totally can be if you want.

My favorite exercise outfit is my leotard and tights from ballet class! While I don’t wear that during my morning exercise routine, those 2 classes I spend at the barre are the favorite 90 minute blocks I have to myself all week. One day I will be wearing one of those tutus on the bar you see above. For now, I will settle for my black leo’ and my steady improvement in the realm of ballet.

Happy movement this week!

Posted in HD You, Lifestyle, Travel Log

Let’s Taco-bout San Diego: What a taco a day really looks like

Last week I spent 5 days in the Carlsbad/San Diego area for a work. Most of my days were spent in lecture; however, the lunches and evenings were free to explore. Luckily, I was with co-workers who were as committed as I to eating at least one taco a day (which turned into two taco meals a day on at least one occasion. No judgment here, right?)

A Taco a Day Makes for One Happy Traveler

Now let me be clear. This isn’t going to be a recitation of all the places I ate and what I thought of each delicious one. I literally didn’t find a taco in San Diego/Carlsbad that I didn’t love. The point was that I knew I wanted to experience my favorite food in a location known for it’s AMAZING Mexican cuisine. While I can get good Mexican in Northern CA, it is definitely different down South. For example, I literally watched the tortilla I ate being made in front of me on more than one occasion.

My favorite place by far was Salud, located in Barrio Logan in San Diego. Only 10 minutes away from the San Diego airport. This was the last taco shop we visited before leaving the area. The wait? Over an hour, but oh it was worth it! My al pastor taco was on the best tortilla I have ever eaten AND I also ordered Cerviche and promptly ignored my travel-mates for at least 10 minutes while I ate it (and no I didn’t share).

Also in Barrio Logan was a little coffee shop called Por Vida Cafe. The picture of me with Frida Kahla in the gallery was taken there. Horchata Cold Brew has never been on my radar. But now that I’ve tried it I can never go back. I’m putting this little art district barrio on my “must return” list because there was so much in this area I wanted to see; however the plane was calling.

Other highlights of the trip?

The Flower Fields

Carlsbad is home to this little gem of a location, wedged between Lego Land and the Outlets, that is a must see if you are in the area in Spring. There were so many people there living their best insta-life’s!!! So many photos were taken by me, my friends, and just about everyone there. And how could you resist? The fields of flowers were stunning and provided the perfect background. I’m not going to lie, I’m not sharing the most ridiculous photos here but, at one point, I was pretending to be a lion looking through a field of flowers. In addition to just being able to walk the grounds, you can also take a tractor ride AND get a strawberry dole whip. There is a wedding chapel, large lawn chairs, and tractors. Everything about this location screams, “Come and see me! Take your picture!” I was happy to indulge.

The Grass Skirt

We happened upon this Tiki Bar while looking for more Dole Whip. At first there was mass-confusion by our group on how to get in. We could see that there were people inside enjoying their fruity punch tropical drinks but none of the doors were open. We took to Google and I called the number hoping to be clued in. Simultaneously we heard the phone ringing in the neighboring Poke Bar AND saw another group of individuals disappear into the walk-in freezer.

That’s right, the Tiki Bar had a secret entrance using the neighboring Poke Bar’s walk-in!

I’m not exaggerating when I say I could have stayed at The Grass Skirt all night. The vibe, the drinks, and the mystique was right up my alley.

The Beaches

Need I say more?

Overall my work week was filled with plenty of after hours activities making my short trip to the Carlsbad/San Diego full to say the least. These were the highlights for me and this small taste of the area has left me hungry for more.

Posted in HD You, Lifestyle, Self Care, Travel Log, Year of Self Love

Week 16: Year of Self Love-A case for traveling alone

September 2018-somewhere over the mid-west as I traveled (SOLO) to New Orleans.

I remember distinctly the moment I realized that traveling solo is really a gift. My work had taken me to Anaheim for the week and I had flown down the day prior to get myself situated and well, go to Disneyland obviously; Anaheim is the City that was built by a mouse! My colleagues, to put it mildly, wanted nothing to do with it. I, on the other hand, had an annual pass and Disney well, Disney is my thing. So I decided to get out of my comfort zone and go solo.

I had read on several of the travel blogs that solo Disney is actually not that uncommon of an occurrence. I scoured the internet for tips and tricks, travel journals, anything that would make me feel like what I was about to do was normal. I brought a book (just in case it got awkward standing in line for an hour or so with no one to talk to), my phone, I had earbuds so I could listen to music. Basically I prepared to entertain myself in the event I couldn’t handle being alone.

The day came and I flew from Sacramento down to Orange County, I checked into the hotel and then off to the park I went. I had my purse of supplies and I remember calling my husband shortly after getting in the park because I was nervous about spending 12 hours by myself. We spent 10 minutes or so outlining my touring plan (if you don’t know that that is, send me a message, that’s a entirely different subject) and then, with a bit of trepidation, I set off on my own.

I didn’t need any of my packed-in distractions. Traveling solo allowed me to open my eyes and see what was around me.

Taking the opportunity to go to one of my favorite places in the world by myself let me experience it exactly as I wanted to. More importantly, it allowed me to slow down and just be an observer. My typical role in life is that of a planner. I joke (but it’s not actually a joke) about carrying a clipboard. I will tell people I have a clipboard that outlines my clipboard projects! Disney is no different. When we go, either as a family, or with friends, I tend to plan the day, know the course, and guide the group.

Late in the day on this first solo trip I remember standing in line for Pirates of the Caribbean. There was a Dad and his three boys in front of me. They were rambunctious and rowdy…typical end of day Disney behavior right? One of the boys was particularly worried about me; he must have been about seven. As we boarded the ride, he and his family got in the front row and I climbed in, by myself, in the row immediately behind. When he realized no one else was boarding with me, he turned around, and with wide-eyes asked me, “Are you alone?”

I smiled and said, “Of course. Hanging out with myself is one of my favorite things to do.”

Since then I haven’t shied at the opportunity to travel solo. Usually, these opportunities are tied to a work event or a conference I am attending. Not only do I get to slow down and really take in what is around me, traveling solo also pulls me out of my comfort zone and tests my ability to be social. I’ve made new friends in Ashland, New Orleans, and sometimes, just sometimes, I even chat up people on the plane.

Lastly, by freeing myself of distraction while traveling solo, I have found that I have been able to clear my head. Usually these opportunities come at a time where I am really wrestling with something. I have a decision to make and taking some time to be alone let’s me focus, think, and listen to the inner voice in my head that often gets drowned out by life. Without a doubt, taking an opportunity to be by myself for a little amount of time has always helped me make a decision.

So here comes the challenge, this week, start planning a solo trip. It doesn’t have to be big. Take a day trip to the city. Spend a night at a hotel and have a spa day. Find a weekend conference and book it. The possibilities are limitless but I promise you, so are the rewards.

Me riding Autotopia…all by myself.