Tag Archives: traveling

37 Things That Make Me Happy

While most of the world is focused on the royal wedding today, I’m quietly celebrating my 37th birthday. Rather than having a huge party, I’m keeping it low-key. Due to the fact that Ramadan has just started, parties are frowned upon, at least ones that include loud music and any alcohol. Despite the fact that it doesn’t really feel like my birthday, I am looking forward to spending the weekend in Puncak at a nature retreat and spa about an hour outside of Jakarta with Miriam and Michelle. The plan is to go for a walk, lounge by the pool, read, get massages, and eat yummy food. Sounds pretty good to me!

It’s pretty crazy to think that I’ve celebrated my birthday in a different country the past four years! This year it’s Indonesia, last year was Thailand, before that was Albania, and before that was China. Hopefully I’ll be in Indonesia for the next few! As per a tradition I started a couple of years ago (35 things and 36 things), I like to reflect on things that make me happy on my birthday. In random order, here are 37 things that make me happy.

  1. Country music…lately I’ve been listening to it, which is out of the ordinary for me, but I’m loving it!
  2. Taking my niece Randi and nephew Logan on dates
  3. Bagel sandwiches, toasted with garlic cream cheese, loads of veggies, white cheddar, and a touch of mustard…mmm
  4. Getting lost in a good book
  5. Completing my to-do list, especially when I didn’t think I would
  6. The look on their face when I give the perfect gift
  7. Mango sticky rice…I had a bunch last weekend in Thailand, and it did not disappoint!
  8. No-agenda days
  9. Ice-cold coconut water
  10. Traveling to new places and filling my passport with stamps and visas
  11. Revisiting favorite destinations, stopping by the spots I remember and finding new places to love
  12. Making people laugh
  13. Sunny Shanghai weekends…man, do I miss that place! (Lucky for me I’m visiting again next month!)
  14. Spending time with family and friends
  15. Solving a problem
  16. A clean, organized home or office
  17. Smoothie bowls…Alchemy in Ubud has the best ones, hands down!
  18. Getting to see my former students…last week in Thailand warmed my heart so much when I got to love on my little babes!
  19. A nice-smelling candle
  20. Go-Massages…or massages in general
  21. Feeling strong
  22. Green plants around my home
  23. Teaching others
  24. Nice, colorful pens
  25. Making a difference in the work I do
  26. Pavlova…can’t wait to eat this a bunch in NZ this summer!
  27. FaceTime dates
  28. Participating in the Slice of Life Challenge each year
  29. Iced sweet tea
  30. Watching a movie in the theatre with a big bag of hot, buttered popcorn
  31. My new home…I’ve made it my own oasis, and I love it!
  32. Photography…getting that perfect shot is the best!
  33. Saturday mornings, when I get to do whatever I want…sleep later than normal, FaceTime with friends, catch up on my shows, drink hot English Breakfast Tea, and make breakfast
  34. Comfy leggings to travel in are a must-have!
  35. Buying a new, quirky pair of glasses
  36. Reconnecting with a friend…getting to catch up with Josh last weekend did my soul some good 🙂
  37. Friends who become your family
IMG_5041

Last year at this time I was celebrating my 36th with Julie, Lauren, and Kyleigh in Bangkok. 🙂

Advertisements

A Reading Kinda Day #sol18

Today was a walk around, stop for a while to grab a bite to eat or drink, and read, read, read kind of day. It’s been a long time since I’ve truly gotten lost in a book and spent the majority of the day reading, and I’ve missed it! All too often, I’ll read in short spurts, distracted by technology or something else I have to do. Lately, my reading life has been in a slump, and while I’m always in the middle of a book or two, it’s taking me longer and longer to finish a book.

Today, as I read, I got swept up in the story. I found myself stopping for longer stretches, breaking out my book to read, tuning out the noise around me. And boy was there noise today! I heard cappuccino machines steaming, blenders whirring, spoons clinking, patrons gabbing, music blasting, fans spinning, motorbikes speeding, horns honking, drills drilling, and hawkers yelling. Somehow the noise took a backseat to the story, becoming the soft backdrop, rather than the main event.

I managed to read over half of my book, and I plan on reading more tonight before bed. Of course, reading is on my agenda tomorrow. Frankly, other than trying more delicious food, it’s the only thing on my agenda. By the way, I’m reading Turtles All The Way Down, John Green’s newest book.

Here are a few shots of my day, in between my reading sessions.

Little India #sol18

Craving a taste of Indian food, I headed toward Little India. The bright, in-your-face colors, vibrant aromas, exploding flavors, and make-you-wanna-dance songs drew me in.

After stopping for lunch, I hit the streets, following my whims. Pulled this way and that, distracted by the Indian music blasting from every other shop and the sights, colors, and smells grabbing for my attention, I meandered through the streets, in and out of shops.

The midday sun beat down on me, forcing me to retreat to the shade whenever possible. Passing a small shop, a man outside chopping coconuts caught my eye. As I stopped to watch him artfully maneuver his knife with quick, successive movements, I noticed the sign claiming “the best coconut milkshake in Malaysia” was sold there. Hot and dripping with sweat, I gave it a try. Watching the lady mix fresh coconut water, fresh coconut meat, ice, and vanilla ice cream together, I just knew it was going to be tasty. It was indeed! I was so busy drinking it, that I forgot to take a picture. Guess I’ll have to go back tomorrow to get a pic!

As I wandered through the streets, I happened upon some of Penang’s famous street art. The whimsical paintings mixed with real objects drew a small crowd of tourists all vying for their turn to snap a photo. I was no different.

As I sit here, alternating between writing this slice and sopping up my Paneer Butter Masala with naan, I am wondering what tomorrow’s adventures will bring. While there’s no plan, I know for sure it’ll include some delicious food!

Hawker Stalls #sol18

Walking into the open air food court, a myriad of smells hits you all at once. Clusters of people from all walks of life sit on stools, laughing, sharing a variety of food. Wandering through the stalls, you’re not quite sure what you should try. Japanese ramen? Thai curry? Indian naan and curry? Chinese stir fry? There’s something for everyone.

Unable to find decent Indian in Jakarta, I opt for a vegetarian Indian platter with a pile of basmati rice, three different curries, dum aloo (dry cooked potatoes), and the butteriest, flakiest naan I’ve ever tasted. Diving in with my hands, I quickly devour most of my plate. Delicious!

After tonight, I’m looking forward to my next hawker stall meal in Singapore! What will I try next?

Catching Up Is Fun #sol18

Social media has made the world smaller. Because of social media, I am able to keep up with people, no matter where they are. As we scatter around the world, we can continue to make connections with others.

I’m in Singapore for the IB Global Conference this weekend, and because of social media, I was able to connect with a high school friend I haven’t seen in nearly 20 years! She and her family now live in Singapore, so when I knew I was going to be in town, I looked her up and it just so happened that our schedules matched up.

Miranda and her son came down to my hotel, and we had dinner at Din Tai Fung before strolling down by the river to take in the city. It was so great to catch up with her. In high school, we were friends, but didn’t really hang out outside of school. Talking to her, we realized we are much more alike than we even knew. Our experiences in the past few years are very similar, and I found myself nodding along in agreement many times throughout the night. We are now looking forward to continuing our friendship, and hopefully she can come visit me in Jakarta!

The World Through My Eyes #sol18

Next week is Spring Break, and I’m really looking forward to my trips to Singapore and Penang, Malaysia! I’ll even get to add another country to the list…Singers will make #36! Since I have been thinking about my trip, I started reminiscing about my past travels, which prompted this poem. Rather than write about every country I’ve visited, I decided to limit to places I’ve been in the last two years. In no particular order, here’s my poem, a glimpse of the world through my eyes.

The World Through My Eyes

Indonesia is motorbikes, gado gado, macet, and the call to prayer.

Belgium is waffles, street art, and fruit beer.

Albania is colorfully-painted buildings, a perfect mix of old and new, and all the fresh fruit, veggies, and bread you can eat.

Montenegro is rocky beaches with crystal clear water, road trips, and weekend getaways with the girls.

Hong Kong is dim sum, the mid-levels, lots of hills, and like China, but better.

Mexico is beaches, pina coladas, and tourist traps.

Italy is stunning architecture, gelato, and literally the best homemade pasta of your life.

Canada is water taxis, clean and manicured, and friendly.

Senegal is bright colors, traffic, pushiness, and sand everywhere.

USA is home, comfort food, baseball, and familiarity.

Thailand is the land of smiles, tuktuks, mango sticky rice and kao soi, and three-showers-a-day hot.

The Netherlands is the most amazing cheese you will ever taste, bikes for days, and canals.

France is croissants and crepes, The Lourve, and walking two hours to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night.

Morocco is an assault on the senses, mint tea, and getting lost in the medina.

36 Things That Make Me Happy

Today is my birthday, and I am spending it in Thailand. Last year’s was in Albania, the year before that in China, and next year it’ll be in Indonesia (where I’ll spend the next few birthdays, I hope!). Tonight’s celebration will be low key, something I haven’t done in a while. I usually throw big birthday parties, typically with a theme that involves me and my guests dressing up in ridiculous outfits. Last year’s bash was a prom-themed pub crawl ending in a 90’s prom. It was pretty epic! But tonight, I’m going to dinner at one of my favorite local joints with a few close friends I’ve made in Thailand. It’s going to be perfect! This weekend, to celebrate my birthday and Lauren’s (on Sunday), we’ll stay in a posh hotel in downtown Bangkok for a staycation. The plan is to shop at Chatuchak Market on Saturday, grab drinks Saturday night, and get dressed up for a badass brunch on Sunday. Again…perfection! 🙂

I had so much fun making my list of 35 things last year that I thought I’d do it again! So, in honor of my 36th birthday, here’s my list of 36 things that make me happy (in no particular order).

  1. Quality time with friends and family
  2. Giving the *perfect* gift…the one that the recipient totally loves, but never knew they wanted
  3. Planning…currently I’m planning my month in the states this summer and my impending move to Indonesia
  4. Decorating my place…I’m so stoked about my new house in Indonesia that I keep scouring Pinterest for ideas, shopping online, dreaming about my new place, and wishing time would go faster so I can be there already! It’s gonna be amazing!
  5. Teaching…being back in the classroom during this season of my life has allowed me to reconnect with this passion
  6. Laughing
  7. Popcorn and M&M’s
  8. Sweet tea…I can’t wait to get some Chick-fil-A sweet tea this summer!
  9. Researching and trying out new restaurants…I’m such a foodie!
  10. Donuts, especially from Shipley’s in Texas
  11. Holding babies
  12. Mango sticky rice…Thailand has spoiled me!
  13. Reading! I have been able to reconnect with that part of me during this season, and I am so glad…I’ve really missed it.
  14. Cooking…not being able to (no kitchen here, sadly) has really shown me how much I love it and how much I miss it
  15. Smoothie bowls…tried it for the first time in Bali and man, I’m hooked!
  16. My writer’s notebook…I’m loving the one Michelle gave me for Christmas
  17. Apple products…I’m a Macbook Air, iPhone, and iPad user (I know, it’s a cult. I’m okay with that.)
  18. My family…I get to see them in 22 days!!! Ahhhhh!
  19. Music
  20. Starbucks tumblers and mugs…I own way too many, but they’re just so darn cute!
  21. Snocones…from JJ’s or Bahama Buck’s only
  22. Traveling! Filling up my passport is my biggest hobby. I love planning trips…the anticipation of an upcoming trip is what gets me through the tough parts of life. Other than my trip home and my move, my next big trip is Paris in October! Sooooo excited to get reacquainted with this lovely city that captured my heart (and stomach) last time around.
  23. Greek yogurt with blueberries and granola
  24. Fresh fruit, especially mango, pineapple, dragonfruit, berries (all kinds), and green grapes
  25. Finding the perfect travel accessories and bags that make traveling that much easier and fun
  26. Making lists 😉
  27. Sharing stories
  28. A good smelling candle
  29. Bath & Body Works hand soaps
  30. Going to the movies…so many good ones coming out this summer!!
  31. Biking…can’t wait to get back into it!
  32. Surprises
  33. Coming home to a clean house that I didn’t have to clean
  34. All my Thai faves…Pad Thai, Panaeng and yellow curries, Kao soi, Tom Yum, Som Tum (not too spicy!)
  35. Throwing parties
  36. Photographing things that inspire me, foods that taste (and look) delicious, people I love, places I love, and things that make me smile or laugh
IMG_2320

Last year’s 35th Birthday Bash…I miss these faces soooo much right now!