Posts Tagged ‘experience’

365great Day 187: cooking

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , , ,

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365great challenge day 187: cookingPanda and I have been cooking a bit together* and I’ve really enjoyed it. Not only are we spending time together, getting a chance to chat and catch up, we’re producing results that we get to enjoy at the end. There’s something very rewarding about getting a product that is useful after all that effort. Then we get to sit down and eat together and spend even more time together! Oh, and of course cooking is nice because you can make things taste just how you want and you don’t have to leave a tip. 😉 You save time and money (usually) and you are more active too. We really should do it more often, but it’s so easy to slip into laziness and order out or just go out. That’s why I’m exploring options to make it easier for us, like this Hello Fresh meal that was pre-planned for us. I won’t delve into it too much since I’ll feature them another time, but suffice it to say that cooking at home can be a great experience.


*More like I’m doing the cooking and he’s doing the cleaning up, but hey we’re working together and that’s what matters.

365great Day 186: water pressure

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , ,

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365great challenge day 186: water pressureOne of the things I really enjoy is a nice hot shower with good water pressure. It’s so uncomfortable when the water sort of dribbles out and barely covers any area. Similarly, when I wash my hands I prefer a good stream of water to help create some super sudsy action when I use soap. At our current apartment, the water pressure can be weak and I’m really looking forward to moving in to the new condo partly for the stronger water pressure. I totally turned on the shower ever so briefly when I was visiting the model home once, just to make sure the water shot out instead of just falling down. On the UK trip, Panda and I stayed at hotels where the water pressure was awesome. I really enjoyed that and I can’t wait to have that at home! I mean, it’s like getting a gentle massage every time and that’s always great in my book.

UK Vacation Day 2 Recap

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Continuing from my UK Day 1 recap, here’s a look at what we did the second day of our UK trip. We did a lot of walking as we went from the Victoria region to Buckingham Palace, through Green and Hyde parks, into the Science and Natural History museums, and back to Victoria.

english breakfast buffet with hash browns, baked beans, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, and waffles

The day started off with breakfast at the hotel, where we encountered some traditional English items like baked beans and cooked mushrooms. Panda loved it!

roll mops au vinagre platter at hotel breakfast buffet

I also discovered some things I couldn’t quite figure out, like these “roll mops.”

tourist taking picture of buckingham palace guard

We then walked to Buckingham Palace, stopping along the way at a gift shop where Panda found tea towels for our moms.

view of gates to green park and tourists walking around outside buckingham palace

From Buckingham, we went over to Green Park, which was new to me.

red street running along buckingham palace lined with trees photo bombed by pedestrian walking by

As we crossed the street I wanted to get a shot of the thick trees lining the road and it totally got photo bombed.

stoplight with red person riding horse crossing light

Apparently there are a fair share of equestrians around here since they have their own crossing lights!

large tree in park with branches growing down creating cave space underneath

This is the second time I’ve seen a tree like this (the first time was at Hershey Gardens). I want one in my yard!

looking out from underneath tree branches nearly touching ground

I couldn’t resist going into the little tree cave for a moment. I mean, it already had an opening!

squirrel standing on hind legs looking far away

This adorable squirrel looked so forlorn when the squirrel it was chasing went through the fence. Why it didn’t just follow I don’t know.

bunch of pigeons and one squirrel eating on grass

Seems like the pigeons and squirrels get along quite well here.

crowd of pigeons eating in park by people's feet

Pigeons are always pecking, which makes me wonder if they’re ever not hungry…

two baby coons at edge of pond near nest in reeds

I found some cute baby coons nesting in the reeds. Aww!

ruffled pigeon standing at edge of pond with feathers everywhere

Haha! This ruffled up pigeon was cooling its feet in the pond.

black bird with neon greenish yellow feet walking into pond

Click on this pic and zoom in to see the freakin’ NEON feet of this bird.

brown and white duck with black accents swimming in pond

Now there’s an unusual duck with pretty black trim.

swan drinking water at edge of pond with kids standing nearby

There were a ton of swans around and it doesn’t look like I’m that close, but it felt like I could touch it!

kids chasing geese in park

Some of the kids enjoyed chasing the ducks, geese, and swans into the pond.

wooden and cloth lounge seats by willow tree in park

The park provided tons of chairs for anyone who wanted to relax. So nice.

pasta bake and salad with san pellegrino orange soda drink and black pepper and sea salt chips

After the park we went to the Science Museum, where I got a delicious pasta bake lunch.

zoomed in look at purple sapphire engagement ring under microscope

Next up was the Natural History Museum where we came across a microscope and decided to take a look at my ring up close.

red and white street sign with sticker grafitti

On our walk from the museums back towards the hotel, we came across signs that had been tagged with fun stickers.

ton of train tickets laid out on table as they are printed out

Before going to the room, we stopped at Victoria Station to pick up our train tickets for the duration of our trip. It printed out so many!!

bowl of wagamama ramen dish with pork, shrimp, wakame seaweed, fish cakes, and tea egg

For dinner it was Wagamama and I unknowingly went to the exact one I’d eaten at years ago.

365great Day 180: care packages

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , ,

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365great challenge day 180: care packagesOn my first day of work, Panda prepared a little care package baggie for me. I knew he had put in some snacks and tube of lotion in there, but I had no idea of the surprises ahead. So yesterday I got up and headed out first to Chick-fil-a to redeem a free breakfast offer. I got those little bite-size sandwiches (so cute) and sat back in the car. The next stop was Dunkin’ Donuts, where I was going to get my free iced tea. That one required a coupon ad thing so I went to pull it out to make sure I had it. That’s when I discovered that the pen holding together the ad and the insurance info had more items clipped in! Turns out he’d written me a sweet note about starting my new job and he put a $20 bill there for good measure (lunch money, you see). I was really happy and enjoyed the wonderful surprise. Hours later, as I was reaching in the baggie to pull something out, I discovered that there was more! This time I found an adorable little picture frame with a picture of us soon after getting engaged. 🙂 I made sure to put that on my desk. By the end of the day, I was ready to head out and go home. As I was cleaning up my bag and putting things away, I wondered what that paper was at the bottom of the bag. What I pulled out was two band-aids! Hehe, apparently Panda really wanted me to be prepared. I loved discovering more and more little thoughtful gestures each time; it certainly brightened my day. Care packages are such a great way to share meaningful, practical gifts.

Deep food coma

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The first few days we got back from the UK, I was doing pretty well with the getting up in the morning thing. I’d wake up around 5 or 6 and decide that it was too early, so I’d let myself slowly drift off again until about 7. By then my body couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to get up. Because of these earlier starts, I also got tired earlier in the day. In fact, as soon as we’d get back from dinner, I’d jokingly wrap up in my new sherpa throw and say, “Good night!”

curled up on couch with new super soft and comfy sherpa throw blanketNext thing I knew, Panda would be getting ready for bed and turning off the lights. For some reason that always woke me up, though I very easily slipped back into sleep. Then another hour or so later I’d wake up and force myself to get up to blog for the night. I am dedicated to my craft, after all! If the only thing I get right is that I post every time I tell myself I will, at least I will have that. Most recently I have a goal of one post a day in addition to my 365great post at the end of the day. I’ve been doing quite well and throwing in posts about random things, mixing in reviews and pictures and whatnot. I was not about to let some strange sleep schedule jeopardize that! 😛

But what I’ve learned is that jetlag + sherpa + dinner = major food coma/crash. I mean, 8 PM I’m sound asleep as if I’m 5 again. Actually, I’m not even sure I slept that early as a child. It’s just not my thing! So I’ve got to say, this sherpa and plush blanket is one magical thing to get me to fall asleep so well. I can’t get enough of it and I’m already thinking about getting more (much to Panda’s chagrin, lol). I’ve had to resist using it tonight for fear of falling asleep before either of my blog posts are up. Alas, work now keeps me busy in the day and I need to write posts at night! This will take some getting used to.

365great Day 176: sherpa throws

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , ,

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365great challenge day 176: sherpa throwsO.M.G. !! I think I have found heaven. Sooo basically it started when we were up in Scotland, wandering the streets of Edinburgh. There was a Woolen Mill store selling a variety of Scottish items, perfect for tourists like us. We stepped in to browse and see what we might want to buy. Near the door, I saw a pile of sherpa throws on sale. They were originally £40 and currently being offered at £20. It took one touch for me to want one. They’re sooo soft! But Panda was skeptical… did I really want to get that? I thought about it for a bit and decided I’d “think about it” and go back to the hotel to research what sort of price I could get them for. I mean, their bright red Scottish fabric pattern wasn’t really my style so maybe I could get something more neutral. Then today, there we were at Costco and what greets me just a few feet in but sherpa throws?!! One look and I knew I had to have them. They were $20 and solid colors. PLUS the non-sherpa side is plush so you really can’t lose, no matter which side you use. It’s so soft and warm! I love it and have been rolled up in it all night. I’m totally bringing this with me on future flights, since I always get soooo cold and this last time my stomach was aching the whole time. I have found my holy grail of blankets and I’m never letting go. In fact, I think I’ll stay in bed all day tomorrow… forget beating jetlag in time for my first day of work! (Ok just kidding there but I almost could.)

What I missed about the UK

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , ,

A few months ago, Panda and I made plans to go out on a UK trip for the summer and I could hardly wait! There are so many things there that I wanted to share with him. I studied abroad there back in 2006-2007 and I’ve only been back once since. We were hoping to try to go for the London Olympics last year, but that got a little crazy and we opted for a different trip instead. This year is still a great time to go though, since it’s the 50th anniversary of the University of York where I studied and while we’re at it, I figured we might as well find some fun Prince George memorabilia too. 😛

Here are a few things I’ve missed about living in the UK!

traditional british sunday roast with yorkshire pudding, roast beef and gravy, carrots, broccoli and cream, and potates

Sunday roast

~British food – There are a variety of things I loved eating, especially Yorkshire pudding. I also love how they put sweet corn in their tuna sandwiches. Yum!

small cobblestone side street in europe

Cobblestone streets

~Cobblestone streets – I don’t know what it is about cobblestone – perhaps because oftentimes it’s pedestrian traffic only and if cars do drive on them they tend to go slower… and the slower, quieter life is quite alluring.

quiet riverfront community in europe

Quiet living

~Quieter lifestyle – I like the more peaceful pace I find in European towns and I love how there is a lot more walking and generally a cleaner air quality.

row of houses in europe

Cute little towns

~Cute little towns – tying in many of the other things I mentioned, I enjoy the overall atmosphere and lifestyle you find in smaller towns. So adorable!

boxes of celebrations and quality street candies

Celebrations & Quality Street

~European candies – I love Celebrations and Quality Street the most, but there are also a bunch of other amazing delicious candies I treat myself to while there (like Crunchies!). I find European milk chocolate to be much creamier and oh so smooth.

mcvitie's original digestives cookies


~Digestives – When I first heard of these I thought they sounded like Pepto Bismol. Luckily, they are nothing of the sort and taste delicious! I guess you’re supposed to drink tea with them but I just eat them like cookies!

bags of sensations roasted chicken & thyme and thai sweet chilli chips and hula hoops potato rings

Sensations & Hula Hoops

~Sensations & Hula Hoops – The Brits seem to enjoy two extremes: heavily meat flavored stuff and sweet flavored salty stuff. I love the sweet and salty combo for sure and I sometimes like the meat taste. As for Hula Hoops, I can’t get enough of their super crisp texture.

Well, that rounds up the things I craved about life in the UK. Apparently it was pretty much all lifestyle and food. 🙂 What’s your favorite foreign good?

365great Day 173: sleek hair

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , ,

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365great challenge day 173: sleek hairOh it feels so good to have soft, smooth hair. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to deal with wind and I am not fond of having to detangle my hair once I get back indoors. I really enjoy the feeling of freshly washed and gently dried hair that has just the right volume and falls into place beautifully. That’s my favorite part about showering in the mornings, because I get to enjoy nice hair throughout the day. It feels wonderful to run my fingers through my hair and have them glide through easily. I also enjoy the slightly damp feeling of still-drying hair, which gives it a darker color and a more shiny look. Healthy hair is a lovely thing, though it’s interesting how as soon as the strand of hair leaves your head it becomes something rather gross (at least that’s how it is for me). But a nice head of hair can look great and often gives people a boost of confidence.

365great Day 171: vitality

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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365great challenge day 171: vitalityWhile traveling through the UK, Panda and I often found ourselves with a bit of a challenging task getting around. We’d only resort to taxis if there was no other way, so that meant a lot of walking to get from hotels to stations with our luggage. For the most part we did a good job, getting hotels very close to a station, but with Edinburgh we got a bit confused and accidentally booked a train ticket into Waverly Station, but a hotel near Haymarket. Upon arrival, we had a choice: walk the 1.2 miles or get train tickets for the next station over. At first I figured we’d just get tickets but Panda got ambitious and decided we should walk it. After all, we’re now pros at walking extensively throughout these cities – what’s another mile? And so we braved the fierce wind and chilly night to make it to our hotel. It feels invigorating to be able to do things like this and not have to worry about poor health or physical ailments or just plain weakness getting in the way. I treasure the health we have now and the strength and endurance our bodies are capable of. As we age, I’m sure we’ll be more and more spoiled by services like cab drives and bell hops. Until then, I love that we can do these things and not even be out of breath.  What a great feeling!

The forgotten city of York

laelene Posted in general blog, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , ,

When I told people I was studying abroad in York back in the day, they said, “Cool, New York!” *cringe* It was a common encounter with my American friends and one that baffled me – I mean, I just told you I’m studying abroad… which means out of the country. Somehow that didn’t click with them and as soon as they heard York, they automatically added the “new” part. It’s kind of like when they first try to spell my last name and even though I say “Q with no U,” their brains sort of filter out that fact and continue on with “Quin” as if I’d never said a thing.

People don’t seem to be aware of (or care) what New York was named after. In fact, many don’t even realize its namesake is over in the UK. I guess they’re just not curious about how New York (or New Jersey or New Hampshire for that matter) got its name. It’s kind of sad because York has gotten rather overshadowed by its far more famous counterpart. Granted, it’s nowhere near as large or populous, but it has a charm all its own. So today I’d like to share with you what the original city of York is like…

welcome to york large map in town

Welcome to York!

toffs green street in york with black fence on one side and red brick buildings ahead

Here you will find a picturesque town with many quiet streets.

clifford street in york with york dungeon entrance and lots of red buildings

The busier streets contain many attractions like the York Dungeon.

overlooking part of river ouse in york from street bridge

The River Ouse makes it way through the town and offers fun boat rides. Watch out for when it floods!

view of clifford's tower from side with staircase

One of the more distinct landmarks is Clifford’s Tower, high atop its own hill.

view of merry-go-round and york castle museum from clifford's tower

Clifford’s Tower offers great views of the town!

clock tower of all saints pavement parish in york

You’ll find very historical spots here and beautiful old architecture.

view of york minster from side

York Minster is a major attraction and the largest building around! Check out their evensong generally at 5.15pm.

mansion house at st. helen's square in york in plaza with flowers

There are some plazas where you’ll find beautiful flowers and space to sit.

university of york vistior welcome centre

Over to the southeast, you’ll find the University of York (where I spent my year abroad!).

view of university of york lake and department of mathematics building

The campus is quite nice and always improving!

standing outside browns bakery of heslington where they specialize in quality sandwiches

On the far end of campus is a teeny town called Heslington, where you’ll find this awesome deli/sandwich shop. Go try their food!

And that’s the York that I know and love. There is plenty more to see and do, which I will try to highlight another time, but you can see it’s got a character far different from the big city lights that people mistakenly envisioned (thinking NYC) when I said I was studying there. I’m happy that I got to share this place with Panda and I hope to continue coming back over the years.

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