Inspiration, Travel

Rustic pathways.

This title could mean so many things. But today, it’s about a company pioneering travel and service projects with a focus on providing unique and real-world educational  experiences. (Think interviewing elders in Laos.) Also, they have Gap Year programs. How cool is that?

Blair and I both dream about traveling across the country on “educational vacations” with our son. We’d, of course, travel in something like this. But I think we should add a Rustic Pathways experience to the dream list. And so, today I created a new Pinterest board, “Future adventures with Owen“. You know, just in case.

Do you keep a list of future activities for yourself or your family? How often to you add/update it?

PS A family of 5 and a cat traveling the country in a Airstream



Friday daydreaming.

Friday daydreaming posts are back! And that makes me happy. Today’s daydream: spontaneous travel. Maybe it’s because every time I glance at FB, I see friends having fun abroad? Maybe because spring is finally here and I am craving a new adventure? It’s most likely because I’m a fairly new mother, and the idea of just picking up and going is a bit harder (not impossible) these days. We are home during the week more than we ever have been before. And we’re OK with that; we know it’s a season. But I miss spontaneous travel, even if it was just a late night drive to look at the stars. We used to do that from time to time because B liked to drive so much and well, because we used to have a fun, little car with no roof. Times change!

This weekend we are off for a planned weekend to Philadelphia. It will be great. We’re staying in the city for two nights with a friend flying in from LA. Even though we’ve been a bunch of times, it’s our friend’s first time. So we get to be tourists. We also get to try new restaurants. We’re excited to be going here. Then Sunday, it’s off to celebrate Easter at my parents’ home.


Have you had one? With or without?

We’re all looking forward to it. I hope you have a lovely weekend. May you enjoy a bit of spontaneity.



For fun, how to order a Philly cheesesteak. It’s a bit like this.


Guest Blog, Inspiration, Travel, Uncategorized

Berlin baby! – part 1

Hello there A&Hreaders, it’s guestblogger Tanja signing in on behalf of Karen as she’s swaddling and diapering and loving on her new little baby. Congrats is definitely the first order of business. CONGRATS!

So let’s jump in, shall we?  My summer has been 180% different than Karen’s. In lieu of nesting and settling in to a home and newborn, I packed my suitcase multiple times and traveled well and often this summer. First stop: Berlin!

I had heard for quite some time that Berlin was the new epicenter of all things creative. And as an artist, my curiosity could no longer be contained. It had to be seen! Luckily a good friend scheduled her wedding in Belgium this summer so I had more than one reason (not that an excuse is ever needed) to plunk down the cash and cross the pond.

One week is just enough time to fall in love with this city and swear to return again and again. Berlin is a “new” old city. If you know anything about world history, you will remember that until 1989, a giant wall divided Germany in to East and West after World War II. West being free and democratic, East being under Communist rule. Thankfully, in 1989 both sides were reunited in to one Germany. Berlin’s history is deep, rich, tragic and triumphant—for a broader understanding, read this.

It’s important to understand the east/west distinction when traveling to Berlin. While it is a unified city there is still a very different feel/vibe/look between the 2 sides. Because the east side is essentially only 15 years old, it’s very much in a phase of rebuilding and reinventing itself. Buildings once neglected, bullet-ridden or covered in graffiti, are re-imagined, renovated and redesigned. Some are brought back to their original pre-war beauty, others are completely modernized. Part of the raw beauty of Berlin is that one stands next to the other—a constant reminder of past and future and an assembly of what’s good about both. Revitalization requires creative vision, which perhaps is why the energy there is so appealing to artists. The potential is massive! And because of this, we spent the majority of our week exploring the east side—our appetites for history, art, shopping and of course food glorious food were satiated.

This post will focus on the sites and views. Next post: food and shopping! Viel spaß…

(L): Remains of the Berlin Wall (M): Communist era block housing (R): "Traby" graveyard, pretty much the only car available in Communist East Germany

(L): Remains of the Berlin Wall, visit the Mauer Museum and Checkpoint Charlie to understand the magnitude of what this meant to Germany. (M): Communist era block housing still seen throughout eastern Berlin. (R): “Trabi” graveyard, pretty much the only car available to East Germans prior to 1991. They are no longer manufactured and are now considered novelties.

(L): Fernsehturm in the middle of Berlin, worth a trip to the top for the view (M): Museum Island, where most of the city's museums are situated (R): Brandenburg Gate, a signature must-see which is best seen at night

(L): Fernsehturm in the middle of Berlin, worth a trip to the top for the 360 view (M): Museum Island, where five of the city’s museums are situated on the Spree River. (R): Brandenburg Gate, a signature must-see which is magnificent at night.

Schloss Charlottenburg, worth a leisurely afternoon stroll through the garden and of course afternoon coffee and cake!

Schloss Charlottenburg, built in 1699, is Prussian architecture at it’s best. It’s worth a leisurely afternoon stroll through the sprawling grounds. And of course, coffee and cake in their garden café!

Berlin's "Central Park", endless winding paths for walks or bike rides. You can rent a boat and idle away an afternoon or find your way in to the hidden biergarten and stay put.

The Tiergarten is Berlin’s “Central Park”. Endless winding paths for walks or bike rides. You can also rent a boat and idle away an afternoon or find your way in to the hidden biergarten and stay put. Or all of the above.

The Reichstag Building or parliament building with rooftop views that are breathtaking at sunset through the crystal dome. There is also phenomenal restaurant on the rooftop which is definitely worth the splurge.

The Reichstag Building or parliament building holds rooftop views that are breathtaking at sunset through the crystal dome. There is also a phenomenal restaurant “Käfer” on the rooftop which is definitely worth the splurge.

Special thanks to my traveling companions for use of some of their photos. Particularly Jenny B., she’s the real deal

Guest Blog, Travel

Guest blogger: Elizabeth.


Soon,  I’ll be away for a bit getting to know our newest family member, and so in the meantime, I wanted to make sure you had great content and interesting stories to entertain you! I’ve asked a couple of guest bloggers to come by for a week and share some of their expertise on subjects near and dear to their heart.

One of those bloggers will be Elizabeth! Not only is she a great friend, she is also kind of an amazing traveler. She spends a good chunk of her time making sure she’s traveling both near and far — including a stint living in Ghana. She’s just recently returned from her too-numerous-to-count trip to Bolivia. (The count is over 15!) And she’s going to plan on sharing some stories related to this last trip and travel. She also may have a fun baby post for you. I’ve asked her to answer just a few questions so we can get to know her a bit more. Enjoy!

1. How would describe your travel philosophy?
It’s all part of the adventure. The best part of being in Travel Mode is that I’m much better at taking things in stride. Unexpected “set backs” like lost luggage, bus breakdowns, etc. make for the most interesting experiences and stories. (I need to be better about applying that mentality to everyday life!)

2. When you travel what are the three things you can’t live without?
Passport. Sunblock. Baby wipes. Most other things can usually be scrounged up somewhere if absolutely needed.

3. What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
Completely unpack and put all my stuff away. It’s a slightly obsessive-compulsive ritual that helps me transition from traveling to home. Then I sleep for as long as real life will allow.

4. Is travel something that will always be important in your life?
Definitely. There are so many places to go! Also, my grandmother made it a goal to take each one of her grandchildren on an overseas trip while we were in our teens/twenties. It was life-changing, and I really hope to carry on the tradition with my nieces and nephews.

Thanks so much Elizabeth!
Daydream, Inspiration

Friday daydreaming.

I hope you had a lovely Fourth of July. We spent the day driving down to Jersey to spend what will most likely be the last weekend at my parents’ pool for a little while. Good news: We hardly hit any traffic! I hope that goes the same way for our drive home.

So, my daydream is a bit of a reality this Friday. And it looks like this:


May your weekend be filled with a little relaxation, good food (of course) and whatever else your heart may be craving. Enjoy!

Baby, Travel

Friday daydreaming.

With all the rain around these parts lately, I’m day dreaming of sun, sun and more sun. Did you have a baby moon before having your first child? Or before any child? I wanted to make sure we had one — just because I thought it was important to have dilerbate, uninterupted time with B before our life becomes a bit … different. I wanted to go here. (Hint: It’s in Italy.)


We didn’t go there. I still want to go there, and it’s especially on my mind today. One day I will. I dream of maybe going there and then heading onto Sicily with my dad for a family roots kind of trip. (My dad’s dad came to America from Sicily, and I’ve always thought it’d be fun to venture there and see what we find.)

My parents are coming up this weekend to see the new house. We also have our Boston baby shower. (NJ shower next weekend.) Should be a nice, but hopefully not too busy weekend. I hope the same for you!

PS We did go on a baby moon. And it was fantastic. It was just a little closer to home (Vermont). We love it there too. This was the view from where we stayed!

Design, Travel

Boarding Pass (from Prêt à Voyager).

I mentioned Prêt à Voyager in my launch post the other day. Anne, the author, an ex-pat living in Paris, has a series on her blog called Boarding Pass. (Great name.) It’s a pretty awesome, rather personal series on travel, and I enjoy reading pretty much every one. There’s definitely a design/creative focus to it, but don’t worry, if that’s not your cup of tea. There is something for everyone.

We met Anne when we were in Paris last November. We connected through this site. And booked a tour with her to get the lay of the land. It was a well spent handful of hours, and a great introduction to a new service-minded travel site.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Anne snapped this shot for us at Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Montmartre.

So, check out the latest Boarding Pass post highlighting graphic designer, Judith de Graaff.

And then, let me know what you think! Any travel-minded blogs you love to follow? Do tell.