Thursday, December 26, 2013

How To: Pack for a Two-Week Excess

So this Saturday afternoon I will be catching a flight home for two weeks! And like any good procrastinator, I have waited until less than 24 hours before I leave for Madrid (where I will be flying from) to begin packing. Which is why it is now past 3am, and I am just now almost half-way done putting the things I'm taking into my suitcase.

Oh yeah, did I mention I'm getting up at 6am to do some yoga before I have to leave for work at 7:30? Hmm.. hashtag "questionable decisions part one." In a way, it's kind of all part of my plan though. I am taking the bus at 1 o'clock in the morning tomorrow night, and it's a six hour ride, so I figure if I don't sleep a lot tonight, then I will on the bus. And then Saturday I have about 16 and a half hours of traveling to do, so if I'm tired for all that, great, I'd love to sleep on the 11 1/2 hour flight I have from Madrid to Texas!

Update (added 26/12/2013): that was, of course, a horrible plan. The first half of the bus ride I barely slept due to discomfort and the large man snoring just in front of me. Also, because I was flying all day long, I wasn't mentally tired, and therefore slept for a total of maybe 20 minutes during the 15 hours I spent in planes. I did however arrive in SF at 22h, and by the time I got home, was so tired, that I slept perfectly through the night. 

Going all the way to California for two weeks is definitely going to be worth it, but man is it a long way to go for a period of time that is destined to fly by! And since I already have figured out which part of the state I will be in on each day, it makes it much easier to know what I need to bring with me.

For example: I will be spending an entire week in Stockton. This time will be heavy in appointments (teeth cleaning, haircut, lady doc appointment, dermatologist, and x-rays for the tailbone I most certainly broke back in early October -- yeah, can't wait to travel more on it, really) and family time. For this week, I don't need many clothes, and that's great.

Following that, I will spend about four or five days in Lake Tahoe, where I will attend Snow Globe music and art festival (SG) for New Year's and just have a generally awesome-but-frozen time. For this, I need lots of layers. Easy enough.

All-in-all, I don't need to take a whole lot of clothes. That said, I have decided to take the key things from my wardrobe that I usually always wear, and add a couple other items, since it is going to be Christmas, and I will be spending three days/nights at a music festival. For the two weeks that I will be in California, I have packed the following:

  • One "good dress" to wear for Christmas with my family
  • One dress for layering
  • One high-waisted skirt
  • One maxi skirt 
  • Two 3/4 length layering shirts
  • One 3/4 length top
  • Three basic tank tops
  • One "going out shirt"
  • One top
  • One t-shirt
  • One flannel 
  • Three sweaters 
  • One denim button-up
  • One pleather jacket
  • One festival craft jacket
  • One pair of super-stretch skinnys
  • One pair of skinnys
  • One pair of shorts
  • Three pairs of leggings
  • Five pairs of tights
  • One pair of yoga pants
  • Two sports bras
  • Four scarves
  • One swimsuit
  • Six pairs of underwear
  • Fourteen pairs of socks
  • A beanie
  • A pair of gloves
  • Ankle boots
  • Combat boots
  • Knee-length boots

And then some oils that I use to wash and moisturize my face, a toothbrush, my computer, Kindle, a Spanish activity book, coloring book, colored pencils, devotional book, and chargers for everything. As well as a bunch of typical Spanish Christmas cookies to give to my family. Oh, I guess one more sweater than I said above, if you include the one I am taking for my sister's Christmas gift. 

Now that I've actually gotten it all written out like that, it seems like quite a lot for just two weeks. And it would be far less, but at the festival it's going to be freezing and in the snow, and I will need a lot of layers. This is also why I have so many socks included, because I'll be wearing about three at one time. And also the reason for so many boots... because one pair I'll likely wear everyday, and the other two are to alternate and test out in the wet festival conditions (I could have wet feet the entire time, we'll see). 

I am allowed to have one checked bag of 50lbs/23kilos, a personal item carry-on and a carry-on bag. I'm only going to take a rolling backpack with me on the way, and then likely come back with more carry-on weight than I went with. I plan to bring back a lot of health food items that are expensive or unavailable here, and I'll want to have space for it all. :)

In order to get all this packed, I am using my preferred method..

#1 Roll the thinner items (tank tops, tops, skirts, etc) and then put then in the cracks of the suitcase on the bottom

#2 Pack stuff on top of it, and put all socks, underwear, tights and leggings together in those plastic zip bags that tend to come with a suitcase.

#3 Shove anything that might be remaining into the gaps and cracks. Which I'm pleased to say was unnecessary since I didn't try to pack in more than I should have.

And there you have it! A bag that could hold about 30 kilos of stuff, is allowed to hold 23, that appears to be holding 25, but really only holds 16.7 when placed upon the scale at the airport! (Clearly this sentence was added after this post was originally written before.)

Usually for a two week trip, I would just pack stuff into my backpack and hit it, but for this, going home and crossing countries, states, continents, and bodies of water, I decided to treat myself with a big suitcase loaded with a semi-excessive amount of stuff! How you pack your bags for travel depends entirely on what kind of trip you're taking. For this trip, where I'm traveling by car everywhere I go, I wasn't concerned about having a handicapped suitcase to lug around. But when I am traveling around Greece for 10 days in April, I will only have a backpack. 

Stay tuned for more travel posts, life posts, inspiration, and love, love, love! 

Happy holidays to everyone! Safest travels to you all, and infinite blessings, love & light!


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Jet Lagged

Well folks, I am officially in California! It is the first time in just under a year that I have been in the United States, and it feels dang good to be here! I arrived last night to SFO (San Francisco International Airport) after about 22 hours of travelling, came home (turning the travel total to about 23.5 hours), and then got one of the deepest night's sleeps I've had since I don't know when. 

All last night and today I thought I was pretty smart and had somehow hacked the "how to beat jet lag" dilemma. I arrived to the States so tired last night, since of the 22 hours I spent travelling before I arrived, I'd only slept about 20 shitty minuted on the second and much shorter flight. On the first flight, which was 11.5 hours, I didn't sleep at all. I felt so great on that flight, and had no desire to sleep. Probably due to excitement about coming home and the fact it was a mid-to-all-day flight for me... and my cool geometric shapes coloring book. That helped a lot too. :) I actually felt surprisingly fresh and fine until about 30 minutes into the second flight, then the restlessness set in. I was so tired by that point, since according to my internal clock it was about 5am and I still hadn't slept, and all I wanted to do was sleep, but I just couldn't. My tailbone (which I broke in a bike accident in the start of October) was hurting a little, I couldn't get comfortable, in spite of the fact the middle seat was empty, and I just was ready to arrive. But in the end it worked out quite nicely, because I arrived at night, so by the time I got home, it was a perfectly reasonable hour to go straight to bed for the night. 

Right now it is 5:00 for me (Spain time), but at my physical location (CA), it is actually only 20:00, and I can really feel it -- the jet lag.

I am so tired right now, that it really does feel like it's the middle of the night and I'm not sleeping. I don't know if I thought that by me going to bed at the "real" nighttime here last night I would somehow be on track, but I'm not. The nine hour time difference between my former home (CA) and my home (Spain) is really screwing with me right now. I feel incapable of doing anything, and lack the accompanying desire too. Even just typing this right now is proving to be too complicated and demanding for my "hi, I'm totally checked-out" mind.

While I'm home, I don't really want to adjust to California time, just because I'm only here for two weeks, and the last time when I went over to Spain, adjusting to the time change was such a nightmare. I am not in the mood to spend my first week back to work waking up at 3 o'clock in the morning, wide awake as can be, ready to begin the day, just to realize that it's a completely absurd hour. I am not devising any sort of sleep plan while I'm here, but am just going to ride the waves and see what happens. 

I think that the best thing I could do for myself would just be going to bed early each night, and then wake up early each morning. I actually really love this schedule anyways, but have been having a hard time living it since Spain's hours tend to be pushed back. We'll see what happens!

What tricks and tips do you lovely people have for aiding jet lag? Would love to hear from some of you!

This post was going to be about jet lag, and be full of funny, witty little things, but really, it's 5am to me right now, and that's just not going to happen. I keep mistyping most of my words and am pressing the backspace/delete keys more than I am letter keys. So yes, now I'm going to put myself to bed. I love the idea of going to bed at 20:00. It makes me feel more productive tomorrow already! 

Man am I happy to be home! And I am SO happy to be seeing some of you while I am! 

Love to everyone!

(And blessings and light..of course:)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

One Person Has the Power

After the first time I saw "The Secret," I went online to learn a little bit more. I subscribed to the website so I could receive emails from Rhonda Byrne with inspiration and bits of her wisdom, and the one I received this morning really got me thinking. The following is what The Secret Scrolls of today had to say:

Change in a country begins with one person. Each country reflects the inner peace or turmoil of its mass population, and so as one person changes they affect the rest of the population. One person has the power within them to bring massive change to their country through immense love and peace within themselves. But we cannot bring about peace and well-being to our country unless we have conquered that in our own life. Do you see? You cannot give what you do not have.

Each person's job is to bring utter harmony into their own life, and then they will become the greatest human gift for their country and the world.

Now, if you know me at all, you know how much I want to impact the world and make a positive difference in it. So when I read this, I really freaked out. The parts that I have put in bold are, to me, especially powerful and wonderfully honest.

Too many of us are brought up in a society and culture that makes us feel like we don't have the ability to change or affect anything around us, and that is such a load of bull. We aren't taught the real truth -- that we are unlimited, powerful, energy beings, whose every single thought and action has a ripple affect that stretches so far and so wide, that light speed and the milky way are put to shame. And we most certainly aren't taught that we can change everything around us, if we just start within and find the peace we all have hanging out inside of us.

If we can become at one with ourselves and the universe in an open and loving way, the entire universe would be altered! Imagine if every single person in the world practiced mindfulness a little bit more! Imagine if we all loved ourselves as we are and wanted to exploit and share ourselves without restraint or feeling insecure! Imagine if we could all just remember that we can come back to our perfect, magical center whenever we want, no matter what is happening around us! And imagine if we all tried to emit our own, positive energy into the atmosphere all the time! Wow, what a cool thing to play with and practice, right!?

That last bit there, about our only job being to come into a state of utter harmony in our own lives, is so great. Because really, we cannot affect everything and everyone around us, if we are not at the right place within. And man, once we align up, activate, and pump out the goodness, there is a real-life kind of magic that goes down.

"And then they will become the greatest human gift for their country and the world." 


Monday, December 16, 2013

He Who Speaks the Language of Love

I was talking and thinking about these ups and downs in life that we tend to face, and it is so amazing the direct correlation between certain factors and these beautiful, big waves of peace, joy, love, and abundance, and the harsh, nasty, crashing down that seems to often follow. The things that I have noticed are this:

When I am on the upswing, things are really great. I am the brightest beaming light of love and blessings that you've ever encountered, and I have nothing but beautiful thoughts and feelings coursing through me. And during these times, I am consistent in my yoga/meditation practice, eating healthy, not spending nights in front of the TV before bed, and therefore am more rested, and mostly, I am having a never-ending conversation with God.

Now, I don't know which happens first. I'm not sure if the unhealthy habits start to take over after a few weeks of being good, or if my mood shifts, and that causes me to then care less about the other stuff, which just takes me further down the rabbit hole of irritation and careless living and thinking. Either way, I have found it nearly impossible to maintain a positive mentality if I am not maintaining healthy habits. (Which could be a reflection of the deeply implanted ideas about food, the body, self-image, and all things of this matter that we in the first world are seemingly so prone to.) But I think I have pinned "getting enough sleep" as the culprit that starts it all. (I understand if right now you're thinking, "Well, DUH!") Once I get too tired one weekend, then enter the week as such, it's too hard to come back from it during the week, and the rest seems to follow up by falling apart.

But as much as I'd like to touch on this right now, it's not the point of this post. I will be writing one about the ups and downs, but for now I am on the upswing, and I have to take a moment to praise my awesome, amazing, wonderful, magical God!

I don't know who you pray to, or if you even pray at all (my goodness, I do hope you pray, even if it's to the void), so there's a good chance you're about to get highly offended, which is okay. But the God that I pray to and believe in is the God of the Universe, the King of the heavens and the earth, The One whose fingerprint is in everything around us, and the reason we are all connected. And my God is an Awesome God!

Pretty much every morning I dedicate time to spend with Him. (Again, when I am riding the waves, I am really good about spending at least 15-30 minutes with Him each morning. When I am the waves and we're crashing down, He seems to only get a brief moment, long enough for me to read the devotional, put the book down, and get on to the next "task" of the morning.) I read from Sarah Young's magical daily devotional book, Jesus Calling, talk to Him, pray to Him, and just let His presence shine down on me, filling me with His Love and Light. It is a time that always leaves me feeling lighter and brighter.

This morning's devotional is especially wonderful for me, and since I am such a freak about love, I wanted to share it with you all! :D

"I am speaking in the depths of your being. Be still, so that you can hear My voice. I speak in the language of Love; My words fill you with Life and Peace, Joy and hope. ... While you journey through this life in My Presence, My Glory brightens the world around you."

"I speak in the language of love." For someone who focuses so much on being, thinking, and living love, this is a really magnificent thing for me, and just gives me all the more reason to believe in and follow God. And, who doesn't want to be filled with "Life and Peace, Joy and hope"!? As it always seems to, the words I received today from this tiny book of wonder, were a beautiful match for exactly what my soul wanted and needed to receive.

I don't know if it's because I know I am going home this weekend and will see my friends and family for the first time in quite a while, but I am in such a state of bliss. I definitely feel like I am living in a pretty bright world, and that His light shines through me in mysterious ways I can't begin to sense or comprehend. All I do know, is I am trying to stay on the right path with my mind, body, and soul, and He seems to be the Source, the Key, the thing that really brings it all together and keeps it positive and possible.

I hope that if you don't believe in God, you'll perhaps give Him a try. I have seen the changes He makes in people's lives when they begin to believe, and it is beautiful. And if you can't or won't do that much, at least believe in yourself! It feels nice to have faith. Like a soft, fuzzy blanket fresh out of the dryer you can wrap around yourself and know it's all going to be okay.

I also hope the good vibes I am putting out find you on your journey, and carry you a little further than you might have been able to go on your own. We really need each other in these times of life, and I want you to know, I am here to absorb some of your suffering, and replace it with some love. :)

You are magic, don't you ever forget it!

Blessings to you and all of your own, and of course, Love & Light! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

ADD'd Out

Ok, I don't know what is going on here, but I have been finding so many good things through Facebook shares lately! I think that perhaps the winter weather has finally struck some parts of the world (although we here in Sevilla are completely clueless to it, thankfully), so many of my friends are spending more time on the internet than they were before, and it's causing this surge of shares to happen. Music articles, political articles, and just generally good stuff. (Good stuff to my mind.) So here, for the second time this week (or can I say the first time this week, since it's Sunday??) I will be putting up a post so I can close out some of the 17 tabs I currently have open. My gosh..I have a problem. Head in the stars.

  • 8tracks -- Currently I'm not listening to this mix, but I threw it on last night, and discovered it to be a real gem. It's a cozy winter mix, full of chilled out indie/electro/hip hop.. just listen to it and relax with some tea or something. Current status: paused
  • El video de la familia Real que no quieren que veamos en Espana (the video of the Real family they don't want us to see in Spain) -- still haven't started it, probably because for me it's almost like homework to have to watch/listen to it in Spanish, but I'll get to it. Maybe in the airport or on the plane while I am FLYING HOME TO CALI THIS SATURDAY!! WHOOP! Current status: waiting
  • The Truth About Your Chakras..... -- yes, this is still open from four or five days ago. Current status: waiting
  • Icelanders Overthrow Government and Rewrite Constitution After Banking Fraud-No Word from US Media -- I mean, come on people, do you still think it's not possible for us to overtake the government and fix the situation in the States?? DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON!?! The media is bought out and owned by those in power, and no, I'm not talking about the Talking Head of a President, I'm talking about those high power, money hungry, mind warped dudes and dudettes who are trying to minimize the world population and bring us all together in their New World Order. Why do you think they wouldn't share this info with us? They don't want us to realize how possible it is!!! Current status: AMPED AS F.
  • Charity:Water -- a nonprofit that works to bring clean drinking water to people all over the world. This is one of my passions, and something I plan to work in. I was looking at the site, and happened to notice they are hiring, so I'm looking at the jobs. Unfortunately, it's a NY based company, and living in NY isn't on my To-Do list. Current status: browsing, will be donating to them 
  • Nirvana's Tense, Brilliant Unplugged in New York, 20 Years Later -- really powerful stuff here. Nirvana (if you don't know this name, you are doing yourself a disservice and need to hop on YouTube immediately). It's got a review of the performance, and a couple of videos. RIP Kurt Cobain <3 Current status: closing it out!
  • Elian Gonzalez Grown Up, Leaves Cuba, Speaks About 'Uncle Fidel' -- the title says it all. Current status: started and not-yet-finished
    • Update: Just finished it, it's not anything about what you think. I't about a guy's experience at a protest.
  • Tom Coburn: Obamacare Exchanges 'Will Work and Work Well' -- no comment. Just look at this, it's not the support you think it is. Current status: IGNITED
  • Scientists Finally Show How Your Thoughts Can Cause Specific Molecular Changes to Your Genes -- it's about time! Now will you believe in the power of your thoughts??? Practice mindfulness! Current status: STOKED
  • Foods to Activate and Rehabilitate Your Pineal Gland -- ok, it really bothers me that "pineal" is underlined with that squiggly red line to tell me that it's not grammatically correct. HOW CAN YOU TELL ME THAT!? Anyways..this is important stuff. Your pineal gland needs some extra love and attention. Especially after all those years of drinking fluoridated water. So read this, eat this, and help yourself! Current status: supporting fully
  • Love and Sex -- an article talking about the spirituality of sex and how it should be a sacred thing, not because Jesus says so, but because of what having sex means and does. It binds your soul to another soul, that's pretty major. It should be saved for the special, the meaningful, the important. Love this! Current status: enamored 
  • The Power of Empathy -- an animated short helps explain what the difference between empathy and sympathy are. Provided by Dr. Brene Brown, who is magical. Current status: paused
  • Facebook -- a message is open, as I asked my new Roman friend to suggest me some good Italian artists. I am going to begin learning Italian, and figure music is a perfect way to start :)
  • YouTube -- per the recommendation of my new friend, I am listening to a full album on YouTube by Jovanotti. It's really great! Take a listen! Current status: listening
  • -- I'm considering beginning a masters while I am here that is all about different processes and ways to clean and sanitize water to make it drinkable and distributed to countries that lack clean water. As I said, this is my passion, and as such, it could be a good thing to study. 
  • Spirit Hoods -- I bought the grey wolf one on the Black Friday sale day, but I don't think it is really my spirit animal. I am looking at the jack rabbit now, because it seems to be a good fit for my spirit, but I'm feeling more inclined to the black wolf I think.. (Free shipping on orders over 50$ for right now)

And there we have it! Now, I am going to do some yoga, mediate, do my devotional and hang with God, make some Japanese curry, and then tonight, I am going to my first ever football game! Woo!

Blessings to you all, and to all, love and light!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Considering that I am now super serious about my blog and my writing (I even made a Facebook page -- click & like, please!), I thought it would be pretty fun to start a throwback Thursday series on the blog! I'll try to dig up some old photographs from my younger and wonder years, as well as touch back on old posts I've written over the years. I'm not sure if I can actually get away with saying that I have written posts over the years though, because while it's technically true, since I started the blog in October of 2011, I have only posted 141 times. Now 142. But, who's keeping track of all that stuff anyways, right?

So since this is the first ever #TBT for ADD Adventures, I think it only appropriate that I take us all back in time to the magical year of 2011. More specifically, to Sunday, October 23, 2011, or better known to all of us from this moment on as the birth of ADD Adventures!

It was a crazy time, it was a wild time, it was a weird time. I was less than two months away from finishing college, and had little-to-no idea what was going to happen next. I'm not really sure what it was that caused me to decide it was time to start a blog, but I think it probably had something to do with the fact that I knew in the depths of my heart that I would return abroad someday, and that a blog was a good way to diary it all, share it all, and let's be honest, make a little extra money. (Something that I am still hoping will happen, and waiting to experience.)

In my first post I wrote a general introduction of myself, and reading it now, I can just feel how young I was. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm still young (25 in February, please make donations to the Kickstarter fund I am considering setting up to help fund my life), but just reading that post from two years ago, I realize how much I've grown since then...

I am 22-years young, direction-less, and loving it! I use emoticons like it's my job, and love to write! I have been plagued with the need to travel and explore the world we live in, and cannot rest until I have done so.

I still remember that being my catchphrase back then -- young, direction-less, and loving it! And I really was! I was so young, I had noooo direction, nor could I have cared less! I loved the fact that my life was undetermined and unplanned, and relished in the excitement of not knowing what I would do next. I still do enjoy this quite a bit, although I have begun to think a bit about what I can start doing for myself now that will help me out when I'm a much older and less capable version of myself. I still use emoticons like it's my job, and I do still really enjoy writing. And I think the fact that I have since moved to Spain and decided to plan my life entirely around living all over the world are both pretty good indicators that I still have this deep desire to travel and explore. (And I now realize how dramatic it was to call it a "need to travel," as opposed to a deep-rooted longing and desire. A calling perhaps, but not so much a necessity. Or maybe. . .)

One of my favorite parts (aka parts I am especially embarrassed about) is where I describe myself as being,

Self-diagnosed with bipolar disorder, that can be attributed to my extreme ADD, and complete lack of ability to commit, make a decision and stick with it, and horrid habit of blurting out my ever-changing opinions, feelings, and ideas about anything at a given time, entirely based off of my current mood. 

I mean, my goodness! Not only does that run-on sentence make my toes curl, but it also makes me realize how "under the spell" I still was. I clearly was not yet of this super-positive and proactive mind that I now have, and therefore ran around thinking I had all sorts of psychiatric conditions and oddities that I could use to describe my natural weirdness. I have since fully accepted all my strangeness, and decided that it's more fun to embrace it and just be a bit of a freak. :)

However, I really love to look back at the final part of the post, in which I share where I was at in life at the time... 

My current situation is this: I am graduating in December as a marketing major, Spanish minor, and need to figure out my life! I am going to apply to go back to Spain as a teaching assistant, and refuse to believe that my future holds anything else. This blog is going to serve the purpose of tracking my life, and giving you the people an inside glance to the mind of someone who is ADD, and off their meds 8D

I don't just love it because I can see this was the after the first time I decided to take myself off the ADD medication I had been ingesting for about 13-14 years (something that was possibly the cause of me failing, quite horribly, the entire first round of my final semester exams, as well as some of the second, but more on that later), but because of this line here: "I am going to apply to go back to Spain as a teaching assistant, and refuse to believe that my future holds anything else."

Now, I don't know about you, but for me to be sitting and grooving in my bed in Sevilla, Spain, where I arrived 11 months and two days ago, writing this and seeing that, I am left with every centimeter of my skin fluttering like there are butterflies trapped inside me. All I can say is, "I FREAKIN' DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!" Estoy tan orgullosa ahora mismo (I am so proud right now)! I did it, I did it, I did it! I came back! I refused to accept that my path would flow any other way, and I made it happen! I am here! I am doing it!!

This is a powerful moment for me. To remember all the times people told me that, "it sounds like a great plan, it's just not very realistic," and doubted how I could and would make it happen, and to know that I actually have and am, wow. I feel like I can do anything now! 

If I could make this happen for myself, and be blessed with such success, I know that I am on the right track, and that whatever I want to do in life, I can! By going and flowing with God, there is absolutely no limit to the things this human life of mine will produce! I am so excited to continue this path -- trying new things, beginning new projects, exploring my passions and purposes, and blasting out my special breed of positivity and love into the atmosphere! What a wild ride it has been, and an even wilder one it will be! I hope you'll continue to join me, and hey, come on out and make it your reality too, whenever you want!

Please remember how capable and powerful you are. There is something you are here to do; and if you get a sense for it, run with it, sprint towards it, and give it all you've got, you will achieve and receive endlessly. As long as you follow your heart, let God be your guide, and pursue your passions, there can be nothing but goodness to come from it. You're magic!

Enjoy life!! There is no limit to what can be done while we're here!

Sending you sweet, sweet blessings, and abundant amounts of love & light on this beautiful day!

Shine on darlings!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Once Upon a Time in Copenhagen

This past weekend was a little something that we like to call a "puente" here in Spain. It is a glorious thing, a thing we love in any culture and school, and one that we in the English language refer to as a "long weekend." "Puente" literally translates as "bridge," so what we are saying on these weekends of 3-4 days is that we are going to make, or have, a bridge. I only teach Mondays through Thursdays, so I always have a three-day weekend, but to get a Monday off and have a four-day, wow, what a time!! (And so awesome for all the people who usually have to work Fridays but got to enjoy the extra-long-for-them holiday!) These are the perfect chances to hop on a plane a hit up another country, and this time I decided to make my bridge in.....

Copenhagen, Denmark!!

Copenhagen had been on my Hit-List since I studied abroad in Bilbao over three years ago. I think the draw initially came from hearing stories from people who had gone, as well as from the Dane that was in our study abroad group first semester. Stories I was told, and videos I was shown, during my days as The Party Girl, about how crazy and wild the parties there are. Especially since it is one of the world capitals, and the most progressive, innovative, and happy cities, it just made sense to hit it up at some point. 

Luckily for me, one of my friends from home has been studying there this semester, and when I saw that I could get a round-trip, direct flight from Malaga to Copenhagen for 135, I knew I was going to be there for the puente. Of course, when you see a ticket price like that, you should not think about the fact you will need to pay rent, and instead think about the fact that rent can wait a few more days, but that low price cannot, and will not. But me being the highly responsible young lady that I am, I waited because the money was to pay my rent, and a few days later when I actually booked the flight, it was 165. Not a bad price in reality, but you know, we all like to save some euros when we can. 

Before this trip, I hadn't been in a new country since Semana Santa (Easter week) the end of March, when I was in Berlin (Germany) and the Czech Republic, and I was itching to get out of the Spanish borders and see what another part of the world lives and looks like. I wasn't so excited about the cold weather I was sure to face, but figured that if I could survive 10 days in Germany and CZ with HIGHS of -7*C, I could handle whatever CPH was going to throw my way.  

I finished work at 21h on Thursday night, met my friend at the metro stop in the town I work in, and then he drove me to Malaga to the airport. It's about a two and a half hour drive from Sevilla, and he did me such a solid by taking me. There were no buses or trains that I could catch from Sevilla to Malaga between the hours I could have caught something, so I was going to try and bribe people on blablacar to wait for me a bit longer, try and hitch hike it to the airport, or probably an even scarier a car and learn how to drive a stick shift at night, alone, on the freeways, on the way to the airport. LOL. Needless to say, my friend is amazing and likely saved the lives of some cars.

So I made it to the airport at about midnight, and then had to sleep/wait/stretch until 5:00 so I could get my boarding pass from the desk. Since it was an international flight technically (CPH isn't part of the EU), I couldn't just walk through with my printed boarding pass. I killed the time with a little yoga, and a few deep-but-crummy hours of sleep in a giant window sill that was lined all the way with sleeping bags, luggage, and other people doing exactly the same as I was. And then, I went in, had some breakfast, and before I knew it, was boarding the plane. 

The flight was only three and a half hours long, and I'm pretty sure I slept for most of it. After watching the sunrise on one side of the plane and snapping some pictures, I wrapped my scarf around my head, and drifted off into a heavy sleep. Luckily the entire three-seat row next to the one I was in was completely empty, so the second the fasten seat belt light went off, I jumped across the aisle to claim victory on what would be my bed for the next few hours. (I actually was so serious and competitive about it that I had started to transfer my things over to the row while we were still taking off. I was not about to lose this chance to anyone! RAWR!)

 I love that this was the message on the seat in front of mine on the plane -- first good sign of the good trip to come :)
A woman looking out her window at the sunrise. On one side of the plane, the skies were lighting up with the first signs of the day's sun, and on the other, it was still completely black outside, with just the lights from the cities below to show signs of life. Quite a parallel beauty.

When I arrived in Copenhagen, my friend was waiting for me at the airport (quite a remarkable thing, because any of you that know this particular friend might expect that something wild and unexpected would happen the night before, leaving him unable to meet up with me and take me to his place), and we went to his place to drop my stuff off. By the time I got there, I was so wiped out. I hadn't been getting much sleep for the weeks leading into the trip, and I hadn't had a proper night's sleep leading into the trip. I had roughly two, three-hour naps, one in the airport on a marble window sill, the other on the plane. So as you can imagine, I was going into the trip with a mind that was all floppy, all over the place.

It would have been wise to use the day when I arrived to go and see stuff, considering that while it was cold, it was actually sunny, and I had arrived early enough that we could have had a full day of exploring. But I really wanted to do little other than relax, so we ended up just hanging out at his place, catching up, and chilling with some of his study abroad friends. 

That night we went to a dinner hosted by the econ department (his subject of study), and had a grand 'ol time. We played countless games of Foosball, drank countless beers, and surprisingly didn't eat countless plates of food, in spite of the fact it was a buffet with delicious traditional Danish foods. After the dinner, we went to a warehouse-style club that is run entirely by students, and held on Friday nights. We danced, we drank, we flirted, we all had a good time. A big group of international 20-to-30-somethings, just loving life and the surrealism of life abroad. 

The next day, I was treated to a homemade Roman pasta lunch, in which all the ingredients (pasta, cheek bacon, and parmigiano) actually had been brought over from Rome. Straight up, I felt like I was living in the "Eat" section of Eat, Pray, Love (a book that I read, and decided to immediately start re-reading), and I couldn't have been enjoying it more. I really want to go get fat in Rome now. Through the conversation and cultural exploration, I actually was envisioning chapters from the book -- things that Elizabeth Gilbert says, describes, and the way she talks about the Roman people -- it was so ironic and exact, and I loved it! I hadn't expected to go to Rome in Copenhagen, but that is just part of the joy of traveling -- you never know which cultures you will find in which places!

Later that day, my friend and I went on a little stroll through Copenhagen. Granted it was about 15 or 16h by the time we got started, so the sun had completely gone down, but we still went for a little walk. We went to this amazing indoor/outdoor market and ate some food, tried some other food, and just generally let out mouths hang down at how amazing everything looked, smelled, tasted, and appeared. I'm telling you, the only money that I spent in Copenhagen was on beer and food. I couldn't stop buying things to bring back and to eat! The quality is so good there, thankfully, since the prices are pretty high, and it all just seems so insanely fresh and healthy. I could see myself passing plenty of time in Copenhagen just eating my way through the city. 

After we had spent ample time in the markets gaping at everything around us, we walked through the city center and by some important looking buildings. Since it is Christmas time, the lights were all up, and all on, giving the city a dreamy feel, and a sense that there was nothing inside the Copenhagen borders other than happiness and joy, and nothing outside them at all worth experiencing. The city center was a thing of wonder! It's your typical city center, designed for the people to come and spend money, but with the feeling of that place, it was like walking through a fairy tale land. I'm not sure if it's because the countries up north are so clean and organized and just have that general North Pole feeling, but I really didn't believe I was on earth anymore. It felt like I had stepped into a storybook. And considering the symbol of the city is a heart, I felt even more like I'd stepped off the planet and into some dream world.

 Lights in the city center <3 Magical

So here's the thing about me as a tourist... sometimes, I kind of suck at it. A lot. For example, in Berlin and in Copenhagen, I just kind of walked around, looked at things, saw things that looked interesting, and took pictures of them. I'm not sure if it's because of the cold weather that I don't care too much to go exploring around and find out what exactly I'm seeing, but instead remain content with just having seen it; or if it's because I have seen so many amazing things by now, that just to see and appreciate its beauty and wonder is enough for me. But I really don't know what I saw in Copenhagen, other than things, places, and people. Specifics, proper nouns, are, for the most part, not there. 

The rest of the trip consisted of more going out, eating, and drinking, and very little sightseeing. I didn't see Christiania, the hippie neighborhood, and likely the only thing I should have been sure to see there, but it's okay. We slept most of the day away on Sunday, and when we woke up at 15:30, it was evident the sun hadn't even bothered to come out that day. The rain was falling hard, and that was an excuse enough for us to not leave the flat. We spent more friendly hours with his friends, listening to good music, having dinner, and sharing stories and experiences.

Overall, it was a really nice trip and I liked Copenhagen. I feel like I have a disconnect from it, considering I didn't really do too much other than live the life of a student who is studying abroad, but I did like it, and have good things to say about it. Here's a little wrap-up of my opinions and thoughts on the city:
  • As lovely as it is, I could never live there. Call me crazy, but I actually NEED more hours of sun than they can offer. I cannot handle going days, weeks, or months without seeing the sun. Of the four days I was there, two of them were sunless. That is too much for me. Also too much for me is the fact that the moon is out in full glow starting at about 15:30-16:00. I get sad when the nights start to begin around 18h, how could I possibly handle them starting two hours earlier!? So, as dreamlike as the place is, if it's not between late April and early November, you will not see me living there.
  • I am pretty sure there is a factory somewhere where they make their people. It does not seem natural to me, the life there. It seems like everyone is so nice and pleasant, but also, like they are maybe a little too tied up. Almost like they all fit into this mold, and then blow their minds out on the weekends to release everything they store up and keep in during the week. I'm not sure about it. I just know that I kept looking around me, and had a desire to scream, just to throw a little something different into the mix. I need to return and spend more time there so I can get to know the culture better, but from the outside, and coming from the south of Spain, life there seems a little too systematic. All the Danes I interacted with were incredibly nice and left me thinking, "wow, they were such a great person," so I really don't like thinking or writing these things, but I must be honest if I am to be a writer. And it's not really the people that I'm speaking of, but their culture. And I think that's just how it is in most countries over here that aren't Spain, France, Portugal, and Italy. The culture is a little more closed, most likely because of the weather. Really lovely, all of it, but there was something inside me while I was there that felt a little controlled, staged, and strange.
  • The city is kind of a mix of Berlin and Amsterdam. The architecture is very much like that in Berlin, with the green rooftops on the major buildings, and the brickwork everywhere; and there are lots of bridges, that give it an Amsterdam sense. My German roommate last night actually was saying that if he had to picture a smaller version of Berlin, by the sea, he'd assume it would be Copenhagen. (Very accurate I'd say, as I have been to both cities.) I loved the city, and no without a doubt I will return when I am a little bit older. 
  • AMAZING FOOD! And quality of everything in general. I essentially went to Copenhagen with two goals (aside from seeing my friend): to eat a hot dog from a street seller, and to eat as many pastries as I could. And while I definitely could have eaten way more pastries than I did, I did eat a hot dog from a street vendor in the city center (per the rec of someone I know), and it was delicious. I actually kind of regret not having a second right after. It was better than the ones in Chico. Without a doubt.
If you are planning on going to Copenhagen, I suggest that you rent a bike while you are there. Biking there is insanely easy to do. They have bike lanes that function like car lanes, and the city is designed for it. It's entirely up to you what time of year you want to go there, of course, but look into the average weather conditions during the time you plan to go (as you should do with any place you plan to travel). I am really pleased with the time of year I went. It was a real treat to be there during Christmas time to see the lights and have a slightly white Christmas experience. But I think that going during the summer would just be incredible, especially since they have the sea there! If you go and maximize the available sun hours during the fall/winter, then you can have successful, full days, and see the entire city. It's a small city, and everything you would likely go to see is in a concentrated area. The public transport runs like clockwork and at all hours, so you can easily hop around the city and move between neighborhoods. (Can you say AWESOME that the metro there runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!?!)

All-in-all, Copenhagen lived up to my expectations, and I know I will return one day in the future to really explore the city. I must say thank you to all the lovely people I met there, and to the city itself for being so innovative. It's the most modern and high-tech place I've ever been so far in my travels, and I was constantly in a state of being blown away by this or by that. Really an efficient and dreamy place. I would be happy to return!

 I don't even know what was under those pickles, but man was that a good hot dog!
 I feel like this picture is a pretty good way to depict Copenhagen on the weekends in the winter. LOL
View from my friend's flat of a really cool park they built

Up next for me is CALIFORNIA!!!! I leave a week from Saturday to go home for two weeks for the holidays, and I really couldn't be more excited! It will have been less than a year since I was there, and it only feels like a few months have actually passed since I left, but sure enough, it's almost Christmas, and it's almost time for me to return for a brief bit of time! I can't wait to see my grandma, sister, and all my friends and other family members! 

I hope you're all riding around on the magical waves of joy and love that we can seem to sense between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that you don't let the holiday stress get you down or keep you from focusing on the most important element of it all -- LOVE!

Blessings, Love & Light, Sweet Darlings <3

ADD'd Out

The time has come again for me to close out some of the 12 tabs I have open right now. I am horribly embarrassed to realize that I am pretty sure one of them is a tab that has been open since the last time I did a post like this...two or three weeks ago. But what can I say? Time flies when you're busy and trying to love every second, and I can only hold my gaze on a web article for so long. Especially when I see the little scroller on the side and realize how small it is, meaning that I have a loooong way to go till I reach the end. (It's not as exciting for me as watching the pages of a book turn as I get closer and closer to the final one, okay?) So here we have it, some of the links that I want to hang on to, without overcrowding my favorites folders...

So there we have it! The links of the week!

Have a stellar rest of your week, if you're in Spain, congratulations on making it through the short week, we're already almost to the weekend! Woo!

Infinite Blessings, Love & Light, Beauties!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

How To: Have Thanksgiving in Spain

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, hands down. The whole point of it is to be grateful, be happy, think positively, and be loving towards everyone around you, it´s great! Oh, yeah, and to eat...a, a whole lot, of, like, the most delicious foods...all combined...on one plate...and then doused in gravy. **dramatic pause to let all that sink in** Yeah, so there´s a whole lot more a loving, positive, foodie person like me could want all in a day!


This being the case, it should come as no surprise that I was determined to have a Thanksgiving dinner this year, since it is not just my favorite holiday, but my favorite meal of all time (Mexican food being my favorite type of food). Even if I'd never made the meal before, and would have to host it a couple days late, I knew it was something I wanted to do. This great American tradition is one that I fully support, even though the events that followed this meeting of Pilgrims and Indians were disgusting, to say the least. But, I will NOT get into politics in this post that will be full of yummy food talk and love! (Keep those comments and thoughts to yourself on this one!) So, back on to the turkey-talk. . .

Now, my family, I've gotta say, RULES at Thanksgiving. My dad barbecues the turkey every year, and in my humble opinion, it's the only way to do it. (And if we're with the other side of the family, they usually barbecue it. Either way, it's almost always a bbq'd bird for the Fedor's.) My grandma makes the most delicious stuffing (dressing as it´s called by some), and my uncles are the side-dish kings. Overall, my family has been blessed with the ability to eat and cook well. And praise be to the good God above that I have somehow inherited these abilities!

I was able to get five Sevillans to commit to the Thanksgiving dinner, a few a week in advance, and a couple a few nights before. Which, if you have ever been here, lived here, or are from here, you will recognize as a MAJOR accomplishment! As much as I love the relaxed atmosphere and attitude of the people down here in the sweet south, some things do require a bit of planning ahead, Thanksgiving dinner being one of them. (You kinda need to know how many you´ll be, so you know how big of a bird to buy..) One example: when I sent out a message in our intercambio group a week and a half in advance, one response was, "I´d like to say yes, but I can´t just yet. It´s a bit early to plan that far ahead." >face.palm< But, as things always do, the group was the perfect number for our space, and it was a beautiful blend.

We were my Spanish roommate, his twin brother (who is the roommate of one of my closest friends here, as well as my friend), said close friend/roommate of my roommate´s brother, and two of our other friends, as well as a Polish couple that was couchsurfing at our place last weekend, and my Now-a-Real-Turkey-Making-American-Woman self. Eight in all, three countries represented, and not one person who had experienced Thanksgiving before. Aside from my Already-Real-Turkey-Eating-American-Woman self, of course. We started the evening with wine and appetizers, which I had decided to keep quite simple since the real bang of Thanksgiving is the dinner. And then, we all served up our plates, sat down, and wrapped our international arms around each other, and said what we were grateful for.

I actually had tears in my eyes as we went around, and I heard the beautiful things that people had to say. Some of the things they said about me, I couldn't even believe. I was soaring around in the arms of love, so high above all the earth. And to hear so many people voicing their gratitude to be able to experience Thanksgiving, was great. Especially since the opinion was unanimously in support of the holiday and it´s positive, thankful ways.

One of the reasons why I longed to return to Europe all those years I was back in the States, was exactly this -- the blending of cultures and people, the unity between different people from completely different places, the sharing of culture and tradition, and the moments of pure love and bliss that you can have with perfect strangers you might only know for a weekend, or friends you've made that you would have never known existed had you not broken the mold and broken out. These are the moments that remind me why I´m here, and show me just how right I was to leave home.

The night was so wonderful. I feel so incredibly blessed that I was able to host and participate in such a uniquely authentic Thanksgiving. I was quite sad not to be with my family on the day, but really, I feel nothing but joy when I think about this year´s Thanksgiving. If I wasn´t with my family, it sure never felt like it.

Thank you Roberto, Migue, Alberto, Carlos, Dani, Tomasz, and Yasmin, for making my first Thanksgiving as cook and host such a memorable and special one. You will all hold a beautiful place in my heart for as long as I live, and I hope we spend many more together! I have so much love for you all!

I was a bit scared to host my first Thanksgiving, not because I didn´t think it would taste good, but because I had such high expectations of flavors in my mind from years of successfully delicious Thanksgiving meals over the years. Like I said, my family does food very well, and I was not sure I was going to be able to match up to what my family seems to do each year. In order to prepare myself for the buying and cooking, I spent a lot of time WhatsApp-ing my parents and an American woman I work with in the language school, as well as watching YouTube videos, and reading different things on Google. I made recipe lists and grocery lists, and checked them all far more than twice. In the end, the menu was as follows:

  • Appetizers -- delicious cheese, raspberry jam, figs, typical crunchy bread things from Sevilla, olives, fried peppers, beet and radish dip my roommate made

  • Turkey -- with a group of eight, I was thinking that a five or six kilo turkey would be perfect. But considering that I waited until the day before the dinner to buy it, and that buying a whole turkey isn´t so common in Spain in late November, I ended up with a turkey that weighed 6.64 kilos (roughly 14 pounds). I bought it on Friday in the market. Now, it should be said here, that we can judge just how much I love this holiday, on the fact that I hadn´t bought and cooked meat in well over a year, and yet there I was in the market (a real market, where there are knives slamming down on chopping boards everywhere around you to cut of meat, birds, fishes, and whatever else), window shopping for a whole turkey. But, I got over the instinct to cry, and just told myself it wasn´t that big of a deal, and it wasn´t. And through the guidance of my turkey-master-man-of-a-dad and YouTube, I decided to prepare it as so:
    • First, I had to pluck out feathers. **another dramatic pause to let that one sink in** Yeah, you read that right. Not only did I have to buy an entire 6.64 kilo turkey and then carry it home in a plastic bag with its legs poking out the top of it (mmmmHHHmmm..), I then had to remove the remaining little white feathers that were stuck in it. But again I said, no big deal, and decided that instead of freaking out like a little girl each time I pulled one from its skin, I would strike up a conversation with it. (Which I suggest doing if you are preparing/cooking meat anyways. It may be dead and in slabs, but its soul is still present in the universe, and would likely benefit, as would yours, from speaking sweetness to it.)

    • After I was sure there were no (or very, very few;) more little feathers, I took out the butter. And let me tell you, between the conversation and the sexiness of that butter-rub, all my guilty conscious that might have been, was no more. That bird was shown the L-O-V-E! And after the butter, came the garlic salt (which I made from a mix of garlic and sea salt), and pepper. 
    • I tied the legs together, and put it in the fridge to chill for the night and absorb all the goodness I´d just put into it.
    • Next day: Took it out and let it hit room temperature while I made the stuffing, stuffed it, shut it, and put it in the oven. I read online that a stuffed turkey takes about 15 minutes per pound, but my turkey was done in about three hours. I think that because our oven is so small and the turkey completely filled it, it would have been better to put it lower than I did. (I actually don't remember what temperature I used, but I will lower it for the next one.) 
    • Result: It was delicious! A little bit dry on the tops of the drumsticks and breasts, but it was really tasty and not overly-dry-all-over!
Looks just like my dad's birds!
  • Stuffing -- chopped up a bunch of loaves of bread (baguettes) and baked them in the oven till they were crispy. Melted one cube of butter and cooked chopped onion, mushroom, celery, and parsley to cook a bit. Then added some chicken broth to it, let it simmer, and then turned it off. After, I mixed in the bread crumbs I'd made the day before, and stuffed the turkey! I put the rest in a pan to cook in the oven after the bird was done.  (Grandma's recipe, minus cooked sausage)
    • Helpful hint: I had pre-chopped everything I knew I was going to be using and put it in containers. Chopping tends to take longer than most other things, and if you have to do a lot on the day of, it's nice to cut time where you can to decrease the stress factor. Also, it's nice to work on it a little bit over a few days period, so you aren't running around the kitchen as people are showing up (kinda impossible to avoid anyways, but hey, it helps)!

  • Gravy -- chicken broth, water, mushrooms, pepper, bay leaves, and all the drippings from the pan when the turkey was done. AKA turkey fat and grease in liquid form to be poured all over your meal... YUM

  • Baked cauliflower and carrots with garlic, sea salt, and olive oil
  • Puree of sweet potatoes that my roommate made (instead of having mashed potatoes)
  • Potatoes and green beans with garlic that my roommate made
  • Lots of wine
I had been planning on making a salad and grilling some asparagus, but in the end, we had more than enough food, so I didn't do anything else. And now that I've done this once, I am pretty sure that I am already mentally ready to do it again! Bring on the Thanksgivings of the future!!

Many blessings to all! I am off to Copenhagen this weekend to visit a good friend from home who is studying there! I cannot wait! I haven't been in a new country since the end of March!! 

Love & Light Darlings <3