Wanderlust! Planning Your Next Travel Adventure!

Wanderlust!  Planning Your Next Travel Adventure!

My father was definitely bitten by the wanderlust bug…he and my mom traveled extensively throughout their lives and broadened their view of the world and the eclectic mix of people in it!  While I may not be driven to travel to the extent that my parents did, I want the adventures I do go on to be as fun and meaningful as possible!!


Travel Planning Tips:

While it may sound a little starry-eyed and somewhat dreamy to grab a back pack and head out to roam the world with wild abandon, most of us only have a certain amount of time and money for traveling, so making a few key plans ahead of time is essential to making our travel dreams come true!  Lucky for me, my daughter-in-law, Whitney, has become very proficient in knowing how to plan vacations that allow for a good mix of touristy experiences combined with activities that follow the unbeaten path, so to speak!  Here are some of her travel tips to help make planning your next adventures a lot easier!

Wanderlust! Planning Your Next Travel Adventure!

“And then I realized…adventures are the best way to learn!”  The Traveler’s Chant

♦  Tech Savvy

While Whitney may claim that she isn’t the most tech savvy travel guide, (I have seen her work travel magic using her iPhone, however) she has found that a recent article in the New York Times, see it here, to be a helpful resource in suggesting Smartphone apps that will guide you around a new city.  There are some fun travel Instagram accounts to follow that showcase unusual places explore as well, @passionpassport and @kirstenalana are a couple of favorites!  Also, since finding good food is synonymous to a successful adventure for most people, Whitney suggests using the Yelp app as a main “go to” for finding great local eats for wherever you may find yourself…it does broad searches for highly recommended restaurants in any particular area you are visiting.  Whitney says there are great user reviews on this app and has rarely served her wrong.


Since Jake and Whitney have had to privilege of traveling extensively while he serves as a dentist for the Army, they’ll be the first to tell you that your travel ventures should include exploring all the hidden gems right where you live!

Bratwurst in Bamburg, Germany! www.mytributejournal.com

(Bratwurst in Bamburg, Germany)

Finding a good place to eat when you’re traveling can be a little tricky, but food reviews on a reliable phone app can lead you to some amazing local cuisine!  

♦  Travel Books

Since I have given Whitney and my son some as gifts, I can vouch for the fact that one of the first things they like to do when planning a trip is check out a good guidebook by a veteran traveler; some of their favorites are the various editions of Lonely Planet and the Rick Steves travel books.  These can be found on their respective websites or of course, Amazon.  Whitney says that once you’ve decided on your travel destination, a guidebook is integral in helping you get a quick overview of the area so you can decide on the things you’re really interested in doing while you’re there.  Once those decisions are made, you can do a more in-depth study and make reservations for lodging and activities for a less stressful travel experience.

Travel tips.

Rick Steves also has free downloads via iTunes of his self-guided tours that give detailed information on about any vacation spot you’d ever want to explore!

Neuschwanstein Castle in Gorgeous Germany! www.mytributejournal.com

(Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen, Germany)

Travel books about Germany will recommend that you visit the Neuschwanstein Castle, better known as the Cinderella Castle.  We read about the history of the castle beforehand, but were glad we went on a guided tour where we learned more about King Louis II, (Mad King Ludwig) who had the castle built!

♦  Websites

Because of its prolific collection of information, Whitney most often turns to Pinterest when planning a trip; she searches by location which proves to be a great source of first-hand experiences by bloggers and other ordinary travelers who often share unique things to do at your chosen vacation site that you might not find elsewhere.  Whitney has also found two reliable websites for reserving a place to stay when they travel.  Booking.com gives you a number of hotels in your designated vacation area with honest reviews.  After a few years of using this website, Whitney advises looking for places with customer ratings of 8 or higher.  Another valuable online resource for reliable room accommodations is AirBnB.  Whitney and Jake have grown to really love staying in the types of places offered by this reliable travel website.  It allows you a variety of rental options from homes to single rooms that often give you a unique flavor of the local charm of an area when you’re traveling.

Travel quote.

Whitney recommends AirBnB accommodations if you are traveling with a young family or big group, because of the availability of a variety of rental places that allow you the chance to enjoy a home-type setting with room to spread out, as well as space for fixing meals, then you don’t always have to go out to eat!

The Sound of Music bike tour, Salzburg, Austria! www.mytributejournal.com

(Sound of Music Bike Tour in Salzburg, Austria.)

Whitney was able to book tickets online for the amazing bike tour for the 50th anniversary celebration of “The Sound of Music” movie a few years ago.  By doing so, we avoided the risk of the event being sold out when we got there.

♦  Word Of Mouth (And Other Miscellaneous Travel Tips) 

Military life naturally lends itself to rubbing shoulders, so to speak, with other fellow travelers, so most often, Whitney has found that nothing beats word of mouth recommendations from those who have already experienced some fun adventures in the places she and Jake are wanting to visit!  While living in Europe, Whitney joined a Facebook group page of other families stationed in Germany that became a wonderful resource to rely on for fun travel ideas; it was also a great forum to be able to ask questions and get specific instructions on things they needed to do to prepare for any upcoming trips.  Depending on what your plans are, you’ll need a checklist to pack accordingly, ie. backpacks and camping gear for hiking and other outdoor activities, etc.  Knowing what kind of weather to expect also helps you know what clothes to take.  Having a current passport and knowing money exchange rates is essential for travel to foreign countries.  I’ve outlined that in more detail in a previous post here.

Confuscious travel quote.

Whitney can’t stress enough the benefit of doing a little research about the places you are going to visit beforehand.  She has found that a basic travel plan with room for flexibility is a must; doing this helps her appreciate the culture and history of travel destinations much more.  Often, it requires little more than hopping on Wikipedia to learn about the special places they’ll be touring.

Cooking class in Florenece, Italy!

(Walkabout Tuscany cooking class in Florence, Italy.)

Word of mouth proved to provide us with one of our most memorable experiences in Italy.  Whitney heard from some friends about an outdoor farmhouse cooking class overlooking the hills of Tuscany–it fulfilled every expectation and more!

  A Bird’s Eye View

Despite the fact that it’s hard sometimes to have some of our family members scattered about from New York City to Germany over the last several years, my husband and I have had the good fortune of being able to take advantage of having the best tour guides while visiting our children in their assorted adopted hometowns; there is nothing quite like a bird’s eye view of a special destination from someone who actually lives there and knows all the unique things to experience in these wonderful places.

Ernest Hemingway "Moveable Feast" quote.

Since Jake enjoys traveling as much as his grandfather did, it has been so much fun to see how he and Whitney collaborate to create lovely travel adventures…and now their sweet, little boy, Elliot, is all too happy to be able to join them. 

Tips For Planning Your Next Travel Adventure!

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us!”  Traveler’s Creed

I hope these tips help as you look forward to planning your summer adventures!

Wanderlust! Planning Your Next Adventure!

“Never stop exploring…you become a better person when you’re curious about the people and the world around you!  Life is an adventure!”  Jake Wilding 

What travel tips do you swear by when you go on vacation? 

–Safe travels!  Mary

The Cookbook Challenge! Healthyish!

The Cookbook Challenge!  Healthyish!

How can you not stop and browse a cookbook with this title…I mean seriously!!!  Aside from the clever, eye-catching title, this cookbook is full of fun, easy recipes that will restore your faith in the fact that healthy-ish can be really tasty too!

The Cookbook Challenge!

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces, just good food from fresh ingredients!”  Julia Child 

As the weather eases into summer, we naturally seem to be more active and are inclined to eat healthier as fresh produce is more available, but as the saying goes…people who love good food…are always the best people…and I believe that food should always be healthyish!

"Healthyish" cookbook.

“My main goal is to give you good, doable recipes that fit into your real lives.”  Lindsay Maitland Hunt

Lindsay Maitland Hunt is a recipe developer who has devoted her career to creating recipes for everyone from college students to busy families to seasoned home cooks.  In the introduction of her cookbook, it states that Healthyish, is for anyone on the move, working long hours and trying to live a bit more healthfully.  There are 131 satisfying recipes included, with straightforward instructions, using as few pots and pans as possible, and ingredients that won’t break the bank.  Not to mention, you can find the ingredients at your everyday grocery store.  That my friends…is my kind of cookbook!

Healthyish Recipes I Love!

This cookbook is quickly becoming one of my favorites for finding easy recipes for packing my lunch to eat on the run at work, as well as great meals for when you need to fix dinner quick; it’s one of those cookbooks that when you look at the recipes, you think to yourself, “Oh man, why didn’t I think of this?”  Such serious goodness!

Apple Slice “Cookies”

There are three different recipes for these yummy Apple Slice Cookies, but really, the sky’s the limit–so try creating your own concoction of this versatile snack!

Sliced Apple Cookies!

My favorite is: Yogurt Peanut Butter Granola Apple “Cookies”

1 small sweet apple (such as Fuji or Gala)

Yogurt (I like “Oui” yogurt by Yoplait)

Oui yogurt for apple "cookies"!

1/2 cup Peanut Butter Granola (There’s a recipe for this granola in the cookbook, but you could just use one you like the best, which is what I do.)

Cut apples horizontally into 6-8 thinish slices.

Poke the seeds out of the center of each apple.

Spread slices with yogurt, then top with granola.

I’ll often sprinkle on some chocolate chips too.

Old-School Pizzeria Salad

This is one of my most favorite recipes from this fun cookbook.  Like the author, it reminds me of the salads my family got with our pizzas when I was growing up.

Old-school Pizzeria Salad.

3/4 cup canned chickpeas (garbonzo beans) rinsed well

2/3 cup chopped giardiniera pickles or banana peppers

1/2 cup cubed Provolone cheese (I prefer it grated.)

1/2 cup sliced salami pieces (You could use pepperoni.)

2 Tbsp. Dried Oregano Italian Vinaigrette (Recipe below.)

Ground sea salt and black pepper to taste

2 cups baby arugula or any mixed greens

Mix all the salad ingredients together in a salad bowl.

You could also add sun-dried or fresh cherry tomatoes.

Fold in the arugula or mixed greens just prior to serving.

Homemade Dried Oregano Italian Vinaigrette

This salad dressing recipe adds a welcome tang to any simple salad!

1-1/3 cups olive oil

1 cup red wine vinegar

2 tsp. dried oregano

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Whisk together in bowl until ingredients are completely combined.

Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 1 month. 

Shake well before each use.

Mason Jar salads.

The author suggest that a great way to enjoy this salad at work or on a picnic lunch, is to layer the ingredients in a bottle, putting the arugula in very last. 

Healthyish! Recipes for real life!

One of the things I love about this cookbook is how the author suggests changing how you serve food to give it a fresh reboot that makes for the best festive eating!   (These veggie, cheese and meat skewers have become a favorite snack!) 

As stated in the introduction of this cookbook: “Healthyish works if you’re just getting started in the kitchen or if you’ve been at the stove for years, because the author has developed each recipe with the home cook in mind.”  All I know is that I can’t wait to try more recipes in the section titled: “Treats” –they all look amazing and pretty healthy to boot!

Eating healthy quote.

“A healthy outside starts from the inside!”  Robert Urich   

Here’s to happy, healthyish eating and a wonderful summer!

Any easy, “healthyish” recipes you love that you’d share with us?


Leather Chair Reading! Books That Challenge Your Heart!

Leather Chair Reading!  Books That Challenge Your Heart!

I think we all love books where we can get lost in the fictional journeys of wonderful love stories and happy endings…but sometimes it’s good to read books that create thought-provoking insights and challenge our core beliefs, our fears and our daily routines.

"Leather Chair Reading" Books that inspire you to live better. www.mytributejournal.com

“Challenge your fears… find your potential!”  Bishop T. D. Jakes

Small Great Things  by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things book.

This book hit close to home for me, since it is about a nurse on a maternity/NICU unit.  I’d actually seen some of my co-workers reading this book over the last few years and was intrigued, but once I found out it was about a nurse and her legal wranglings for something she wasn’t guilty of, I decided the subject matter seemed a little too real, so to speak, and that reading this book might invite bad karma!?  But then, as luck would have it, I mentored a nursing student one day who convinced me that the varied and fascinating layers of the plot line would make reading this book well worth my time…and boy, was she right!

The brief summary on inside the cover flap of the book is enough to leave you on the edge of your seat…and believe me, every nail-biting chapter leaves you deeply riveted to the story being told.  Small Great Things, takes on contemporary issues that are prevalent in society today, and as a nurse, I couldn’t help but ask myself how I would have handled things if faced with some of the same circumstances!

“Ruth Jackson was a maternity nurse with more than twenty years experience.  During one of her shifts, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’d been reassigned to another patient.  The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, an African American, to touch their child.  The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery.  Does she obey the orders or does she intervene?”

Leather Chair Reading! Books That Challenge Your Heart!

I love that each section of the book is named after a different stage of labor; a nod to the character’s profession…and the rebirth, of sorts, that each character goes through during the course of this complex, but incredible story! 

Jodi Picoult tackles a myriad of tough subject matters from privilege and prejudice to justice and compassion in this novel.  At the end of the book, she also outlines how she did extensive research with a cross-section of people and communities represented in this profound story that is based on true events about a woman in Flint, Michigan, who really faced many of the scenarios detailed in this book.  Although, a little uncomfortable to read about sometimes, the author doesn’t offer easy answers to some of the age-old conflicts and inner turmoil that many people, even in this day and age, are still trying to fully grasp and find the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we can all do small things in a great way!

Martin Luther King Jr. quote.

The author references this quote in her book, explaining that any good we do, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can have lasting repercussions.

A Shot Guide To A Long Life  by David B. Angus, MD

Leather Chair Reading! Books that Challenge Your Heart!

A Short Guide To A Long Life, may be  small in size, but contains simple and powerful guidelines on how to greatly improve the quality of life, at least as far as living more healthy is concerned…and in a literal sense, challenges habits we might have that keep us from living with optimal health.  I like that it is a handy guide of common sense practices that can help us develop new patterns of personal health care using mostly inexpensive and accessible tools that are based on the latest and most reliable research–you’ll find yourself referring to it often.  I especially like that the overall focus of this book is that we should all be better at taking charge of our health and wellbeing and that the code of conduct for physicians should be that of practicing preventative medicine!

“I want doctors to treat towards health…and not treat towards disease.”  Dr. David B. Agus

The book is cleverly divided into three concise and easy to understand sections…  1) What To Do  2) What To Avoid and 3) Doctor’s Orders –Dr. Agus believes as I do, that the more concise and doable healthy guidelines are, the more we’re apt to follow through with them.  Having worked in the healthcare profession for many years, I find this approach very refreshing!

"A Short Guide To A Long Life" by Dr. David B. Agus

Each chapter has memorable titles, (ie. “Get Naked”, “Get Off Your Butt More” and “Eat Real Food” to name just a few.) simple pencil drawings, and some questions your doctor should ask you so he can personalize your health care based on your physiology, genetics, value system and individual circumstances.  Dr. Agus also strongly suggests that…..

“If your physician treats you like a textbook patient…it just might be time to make a change!”      

I found the last chapter, Doctor’s Orders, which gives a decade by decade list of things you should routinely do to create a good health plan for yourself, especially helpful.  As with any recommendations found in this book, they are based on scientific research and follow the generally accepted guidelines in the medical community, but if you are experiencing symptoms or concerns that are not within the realm of “normal” for you–be sure to consult your personal physician as soon as possible.  I also love the Health Lists compiled at the end of the book–they are the ultimate “cheat sheet” that will help you remember key facts, rules and ideas, regardless of your age, for making healthy living a lifelong quest…including, Top 10 Actions to Reduce Your Risk for IllnessTop 10 Things to Help Educate Kids About Health and Wellness, Popular Weight Loss Myths, and Top 10 Most Useful Health and Medicine Websites.

Take care of your body quote.

This book will motivate you to take a good look at the overall health habits you have in place and what ones you might need to adjust to live even better.  It will also help you realize once and for all, to find a doctor who is invested in your health and who finds it not only his responsibility, but his privilege to help educate and care for your overall wellbeing…one who holds you accountable by asking all the hard questions. Helathcare cartoon.

I love the final bit of advice Dr. Agus gives…

“Don’t make living healthy too complicated…live your life, just try to live it better every day!”

Personal growth quote!

Have you read any good books lately that really touched your heart and helped you grow personally or challenged any bad health habits?

Here’s to happy hearts and healthy living! 

Love, Mary