Travel Essentials

Packing for a journey I am soon to take got me thinking about what my travel essentials are. It is very easy for one to take hopping on a plane for granted, but for me each time I get on a plane it is exciting and new. The following are some of my travel essentials.

1. A small journal or notebook.

I like to write things down in the evenings when I am somewhere away from home. A small notebook that fits into your bag is perfect for this. My favorite notebook, and the one I will be bringing on this trip, is the classic Moleskine notebook.

2. A good book.

When traveling anywhere there are always moments to kick back for a moment and a good book is perfect for that. Picking books that have to do with your travel destination is always nice, if you’re reading on the way or while there. Classics or books you know you can read again and again are great for trips. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is one of those for me.

3. Converse

Wherever I go I always know I can count on my trusty converse. Any pair of sneakers that you know you can use are great!

4. IPod

Whether you listen to music on a plane, in the car, or just hanging out it’s always great to have a soundtrack to your travels.

5. Patagonia down sweater

It’s always great to be prepared for whatever weather that may come at you and a Patagonia down sweater does just that for you. Patagonia’s are sometimes referred to as “patagucci’s” due to their expensive price, but in the long run it is definitely worth the price.

6. A small bag

Though it is not always possible, I always strive to fit into a small carry on luggage. If possible, this makes traveling much easier and less stressful.

What are some of your travel essentials?

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Here I am, travel ready!

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Rainy Days

After what seems like a long time without rain, it finally came pouring down on us yesterday. Rain comes and with it permission to stay indoors and do nothing. As much as I love going outdoors, rainy days are some of the best days for me. Outside it smells of wet sidewalks, and wood smoke from neighboring fire places. Lying in bed listening to the sound of raindrops on the roof got me thinking about my favorite things to do on a rainy day. The following is my recipe for a delightful rainy day.

1. Watch a good film

One of my favorite films to watch on rainy days is the 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. The tragic rain scenes involving Marianne make for a cozy and emotional watch. The English scenery allows me to imagine that I am in rainy England, instead of Southern California. Watch a movie that let’s your imagination explore rainy streets in another place.

2. A cup of tea or hot cocoa

I particularly enjoy a cup of english breakfast tea with a dash of milk and sugar (to go with my english movie), or a nice cup of hot cocoa.

3. A cozy blanket to wrap in

Nothing says rainy day like getting cocooned in a warm blanket.

4. Soup and bread

All soups definitely work for a rainy day but my personal favorites include split pea, New England clam chowder, and potato leek soup. And of course, this cozy meal isn’t complete without a nice piece of bread.

5. Knitting

As a girl with an English grandmother I am often caught knitting on the couch and a rainy day is the perfect excuse to knit something cozy. Rainy days are great days to tackle projects such as knitting.

February 25

Like every day of the year it is someone’s birthday today. But this day stands out among the others for me, because it is my dad’s birthday. Instead of purely writing about him like I did for my brother in my last article (there’s a lot of February birthdays in my family) I thought I’d change it up for you and share with you about a few others who’s birthday it is as well.

Our first birthday is George Harrison, a member of the legendary Beatles. He was born on February 25, 1943 in Liverpool, England. He is most well known for his part as lead guitarist in the Beatles. George first auditioned for what was then called the Quarrymen at the age of fourteen, but was deemed too young by John Lennon. A year later, at the age of fifteen, George was admitted into the band. George Harrison’s contribution to the world was great, through his music and work. Though he is no longer with us George Harrison will not be forgotten and his music will continue to fill the ears of many.

James and Oliver Phelps were born on February 25, 1986. Many would recognize these boys as  Fred and George Weasley from Harry Potter. Though they had no acting experience, the then fourteen year old identical twins went to an open audition for the parts of the Weasley Twins in Harry Potter and went on to bring these beloved boys to life.

Sean Astin was born on February 25, 1971. He is an American actor, director, voice artist, and producer. Astin is best known to me, and many others, as Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

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Most importantly, today, February 25, is my dad, Stan’s, birthday. My dad is excellent at cooking breakfast, playing music, and spending time with my family. He is a happy, talented, loving and caring person. He is always there for us, and is the best dad I could ever ask for. Thank you for always making me so proud to be your daughter. I love you so much. Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Adam!

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Today, February 21st, is my big brother, Adam’s birthday. Being three years younger then him, I have known him my whole life. Adam and I have always been not only brother and sister, but friends as well. He has influenced me in so many ways; my strong will and stubbornness I give him some credit for, as well as some of my creativity. In our house there was always something going on; games, movie making, music recording. One of my fondest memories (thus far) is making one of our movies titled “Murder at Mom’s”, a forty five minute action film in which my brother, my friend, and myself played all the many characters. This movie began when, on a very rainy day, we decided to film a “fight scene” in the rain. From there the movie had a life of its own.

As a musician, my brother is always filling the house with music. He is either playing the music himself, or blasting it on high volume for all the house to hear. Adams music taste is that of a baby boomer (though he is much younger) and because of this mine has some similar elements to it. He, along with my parents, have exposed me to great artists such as Bruce Springstein, U2, Paul Simon and of course the ever so loved Beatles. All this makes for a very joyful house.

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Having my brother away at college has had it’s hard moments of missing him, but he keeps in contact so often that the distance doesn’t always seem so far. Happy Birthday Adam! I love you so much. xoxo your sister, Violet

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A not so Little Woman

As a young girl my favorite book was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, a novel originally published in two installments in 1868 and 1869. It is a story of four sisters; Meg, the eldest of the sisters who was described as beautiful with a calming presence, Jo, the second eldest and most wild of the sisters who I could not help but love, Beth, who is sweet and giving, and finally the youngest, Amy, who longs to see more of her elder sisters world. Jo is the writer of the bunch and writes plays which the four sister perform to keep busy. In this story we watch these sisters grow up, and even marry. Despite having grown up a bit myself, this story is still definitely one of my favorites and I often find myself cozily re-reading it on many a grey day.

Louisa May Alcott is the author of this semi-biographical work. While the book is fiction, it was loosely based on Louisa and her three sisters, with her self as the model for Jo. She was raised by transcendentalist parents and grew up around some well-known intellectuals such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. She was a feminist and abolitionist. Louisa May Alcott wrote many words the world enjoys today. 

Two years ago I was able to visit Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in Concord Massachusetts. She wrote and set Little Women there, so it was very interesting to physically see the story come alive. The house was set up very much like how it would have been in the Alcott’s day. It was cozy, and had many nooks and cranny’s that I could imagine Louisa and her sisters enjoying.

When I visited the Alcott’s Orchard house it looked a lot like the picture above. I hope to visit it again in other seasons for I imagine it would be very beautiful.

J’adore crêpes

My Valentine’s day consisted of friends, laughter and crêpes. When my friends suggested that we take advantage of our day off and get some crêpes I was all game. Having never been to Pacific Crepes I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised.

The atmosphere of the restaurant was very nice and cozy. I ordered a desert crepe with chocolate and raspberries, raspberries being my favorite fruit. The crepe was beautiful with powdered sugar on top and fresh whipped cream on the side, and better yet, it tasted amazing. The berries were perfectly ripe and not too mushy and the crepe itself was satisfying and delicious. One of my friends got a Nutella crepe with strawberries and blueberries, and the other got a lemon twist crepe which they both praised, saying were very good. These crepes were tasty and filling.

My delicious chocolate raspberry crepe.

My delicious chocolate raspberry crepe.

Since a young age I have enjoyed the sweet simplicity of creeps. Below is a picture of my brother and myself with chocolate crepes as kids.

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Crepes vary from sweet to savory with many options. Sweet crepes are often made with wheat flour, while savory crepes are mostly made of non-wheat flours such as buckwheat. If only crepes were as available to us as they are to the french; they are Paris’s number one street food.

Sweet crepes can have chocolate, honey, lemon, caramel, and many more toppings on them with many varieties of fruits on them; what would you put on your crepe?

Put a ring on it

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Rings, like many other pieces of jewelry, can hold sentiment with them. Above is my collection of rings to date. Many of these I received for my birthday so they carry the memory of turning another year older. Thinking about the sentimental value of my rings got me thinking; what are the stories behind others rings? With this thought in mind, I asked a few of my friends if I could take a picture of their rings and have them tell me something about them. The following are these stories. 

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This ring belongs to a girl named Olivia. She shared a few words about it that I’d like to share with you here. “My grandmother bought this for me when we went to Carmel for my grandfathers funeral. I choose this one because he was in the merchant marines and if you hold it one way it looks like waves, and if you turn it the other way it looks like m’s. My grandfathers name was Marshall.” 

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Next I asked a girl named Mae who also shared a few words with me about her ring. “A close family friend gave me this ring 3 years ago. It has to do with my heritage- it’s a Claddagh ring. The hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty to the Irish crown. If it’s facing towards you it means that your heart belongs to someone but if it’s facing out it means that your heart belongs to Ireland.” 

Do you have any rings that hold stories?