Wanderlust Wednesday: San Francisco

San Francisco, CA

May 2012

wanderlust wed - CopyPrior to hiking Half Dome, my family and I explored the AWESOME town of San Francisco. Hands down one of the most unique, exciting, neat cities I’ve seen. For this Wanderlust Wednesday, I thought I’d recap the adventures with a poem ūüėĬ†

*clears throat*

San Francisco is a wicked cool land.

Everything about it is so grand!

DSC_0049

From the colorful streetcars to the chaos of Lombard Street,

the adventures in the city can’t be beat.

DSC_0005 DSC_0008 DSC_0011 DSC_0019 IMAG1199

The moment I laid eyes on the Golden Gate bridge,

I was covered in goosebumps like when you open a fridge.

DSC_0048

The bridge was stunning day or night,

we even saw an aircraft carrier that was outta sight!

DSC_0136 DSC_0082 DSC_0090

Across the bridge was a marine mammals place,

I got to growl at an elephant seal with a funny face.

DSC_0053 DSC_0055

Fisherman’s Wharf was filled with fresh food and shops,

the mahi mahi made me lick my chops.

IMAG1209 IMG_20120526_120747

All in all, the memories we had were uncanny,

so get your fanny to San Franny!

DSC_0112

Advertisements

22 Goals for my 22nd Year

This past weekend, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting.

Reflecting, dreaming, questioning, pondering…

I turned 22 last Wednesday. I graduate from college this May. I have no idea what I want to do with my future.

Basically, everything has hit me like the odor of a freshly-opened tuna can.

Many of my friends seem to have their futures planned out: some are going to grad school, some are engaged, some are even having kids. Warp speed living.

And well….this pretty much sums up my current position…

A few weeks ago, I came across this post, and it’s helped me a lot during this weird stress coma I’ve been experiencing. It’s strangely comforting knowing I’m not the only 20-something who’s still trying to figure out their life.

God has a plan for my life and I just have to keep trusting Him. It won’t be¬†a straight, predictable timeline and at times,¬†it’ll seem illogical and I’ll feel like I’m moving away from my aspirations. But He sees the BIG picture.¬†Everything I’m going through now is shaping me and preparing me to be the person He created me to be; the person that will reach her destiny and honor Him in the process.

All of these reflections inspired me to set some goals for myself in this 22nd year on the globe.

In the future, I¬†want to look back on this year with joy and satisfaction… and no regrets!!

I’m posting these goals to hold myself accountable (and¬†to have an accessible copy¬†if I lose the piece of paper I wrote them on haha), so without further ado, here’s my ambitions for my 22nd year on the globe! ūüôā

22goals

  1. Travel A TON, explore, experience new cultures.
  2. Strengthen my relationship/prayer with God.
  3. Graduate with a Bachelor’s of science in Marine Biology.
  4. Continue weightlifting, gain more muscle.
  5. Find a job I’m passionate about.
  6. Stop picking at my food when I’m stressed.
  7. Work on my road rage: more patience, less cussing.
  8. Keep journaling my thoughts to decrease stress.
  9. Be flexible.
  10. Hike more.
  11. Stop being so hard on myself to be perfect.
  12. Be spontaneous.
  13. Stop judging or comparing myself to others.
  14. Get a tattoo.
  15. Take more pictures.
  16. Plant a tree.
  17. Take a spin class.
  18. Go horseback riding more often.
  19. Read for fun.
  20. Smile at myself in the mirror every day.
  21. Compete in an extreme obstacle course 5k race.
  22. Get a new pet….preferably a gecko or lizard.

I’ll bold out the items I accomplish and keep it updated. I can’t wait to see what adventures this year will hold.

The future may be scary, but that’s what makes it magical!! ūüėÄ

How do you combat stress about the future? Have you ever made a goals list for your birthday?

Wanderlust Wednesday: Mission Trip to Montego Bay

Montego Bay, Jamaica

March 2009

wanderlust wed - Copy

Today is my 22nd birthday! ūüėÄ Since I’m away from family and thanks to college¬†making all of my days mush together, it doesn’t really feel like my birthday, so I’m finding it hard to get peppy for it. Hopefully this travelicious post will get me into a more celebratory mood!

During my junior year of high school in 2009, I went on a trip with a group of fellow students to do mission work in Jamaica with GAIN International.

The experiences I had in that country allowed me to appreciate the things I take for granted every day as well as provide me an opportunity to learn more about myself and my faith.

Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 008 - Copy

~~~~

Upon landing, we took a bus (with a HILARIOUSLY FUN¬†driver)¬†out to our basic bunkroom/hotel, “Chatam Cottages”¬†and were greeted by a local preacher¬†who would be our tour guide and leader as well as¬†the¬†hotel cook:¬†an elderly Jamaican woman who cooked EVERY MEAL WE HAD THERE.¬†She was precious and her food was out of this world! ūüôā

Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 042

That afternoon, we explored the beach nearby (which was littered with drug addicts and heroin needles), went swimming and shared a fantastic dinner of local, fresh cuisine. A lot of us were shell-shocked and nervous for our safety, but trusted in God and our leaders.

Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 158 - Copy

We set out early the next morning and took a long bus ride into the mountains to get to the¬†preacher’s church for Sunday service. Hands down the friendliest, and most lively group of people I’ve ever met! The locals were dressed to the nines; their¬†rainbow colored clothes so immaculate, it was hard to find even a hint of a wrinkle. I later learned the majority of them only had two pairs of clothes: one for church and one for everything else. It was beautiful to see how they clearly put God as a priority in their lives.

Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 054 - Copy Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 057 - Copy Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 062 - Copy Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 077 - Copy

After service, we spent the rest of the afternoon doing construction and¬†painting on the church. Once finished, we went¬†walking with the pastor to other homes in the mountains to visit members of the church who were either sick or invalid. The homes were more like shacks–it was very heartbreaking to see such poverty in a place advertised on TV as a “vacation hotspot.” The church members we visited were so thankful for our company-it was almost as if we brought service to them! We¬†sang songs, told stories, and read verses.

2623_1121184031537_3088767_n 2669_1111502500687_3100419_n Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 095 - Copy

That night back at our hotel, we had to prepare for visiting elementary schools that had over 1700 children. Our leaders invited us to volunteer to be teachers in the classrooms. I knew this trip was a once in a lifetime experience, so I volunteered.

The next day at the school, something huge occurred in the first grade class. While showing my pictures to the kids, I came upon my favorite: an eight foot tall pile of snow with me standing inside its massive shadow. Before I showed them, I asked the children ‚ÄúHave any of you ever seen snow?‚ÄĚ Confused, they simply replied, ‚ÄúNo.‚Ä̬† NEVER SEEN SNOW?!?! WHAT?! I was freaking out! But as my perspective changed, I realized not many people get to ever leave¬†their country or what they know. The moment I revealed the picture, many of them scrambled out of their desks to see the white spectacle.

Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 129 - Copy Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 131 - Copy Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 135 - Copy Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 141 - Copy Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 151 - Copy

We made great friends with all of the children–they never stopped asking to have their picture taken! ūüôā

The next day, we visited orphanages. This was the hardest, saddest part of the trip for everyone. The head nurse informed us that the majority of the children there either had homeless, jobless, drug addict, or dead parents and that many of them would probably grow up mirroring the same unfortunate events.

2669_1111489900372_6859691_n tamara - Copy

My friends and I played with the kids outside, pushed them on swings, and helped the nurses feed them. While it was great to see the kids enjoying themselves. But every so often, we’d be hit by the sorrow of reality. One 3 or 4 year old¬†boy never left the gate by the road and kept saying, “Is that my dad? He’s supposed to be coming back soon!” Everyone definitely shed multiple tears saying goodbye; we wanted to kidnap all of the kids and hide them in our backpacks.

That night, we were somber at our hotel. We prayed a lot and our leaders encouraged us to bond and find the good in the day. So, my friends and I went back to our cabin, danced to crazy music, laughed until we cried, and had a photoshoot while eating crackers hahaha it was a great way to get our minds off the sorrow.

648_1121025987586_3066218_n

Our final day in Jamaica was a free day–so we got to spend all day at the main beach! Swimming, exploring the open air market, dodging women asking if we wanted our hair braided, haggling in the gift shops for fair prices, snorkeling–it was a magical day! Except for the fact that I got the worst sunburn in my life despite lubing up with SPF 10,000 multiple times ūüėõ My friends were nice enough to douse¬†me in Aloe that night haha

Jamaica Mission Trip 2009! 166 2623_1121164951060_3597665_n

Over the course of the trip, I learned about leadership and camaraderie, never judging people based on stereotypes, and never taking advantage of blessings. I captured a glimpse of an unknown side of Jamaica in a tiny classroom. Observing learning first hand, I realized that each human makes an impact with their life; whether it is through actions or words. Though I went there as a teacher/worker/missionary, I learned a lot about myself and I returned home a changed person.

Earthquake Cookies

Last week, I was feeling like a rebellious, adventurous lemur.

I wanted to go outside, explore, be crazy, and have fun! But, cold and rainy weather put a damper on my plans. ūüėõ

I HAD to channel my adventure into some avenue, so I decided to set out a quest to create a flourless cookie using the random stuff lurking in my pantry.

But I must warn you……whenever I try to create a recipe, it usually ends with fire alarms going off in the kitchen.

Let’s just say, I’m no Julia Child.

But once in a blue moon, a miracle happens.

DSC_0239

I present to you, the GREATEST thing I have ever EVER made: Earthquake Cookies.

The reason they’re called “Earthquake cookies” is because they are:

  1. earth-shatteringly delicious
  2. their flavor bursts with the intensity of lava ūüėÄ

DSC_0231

Earthquake Cookies

(gluten free)

Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • 1 cup almond butter (I use this brand)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tbsp. chocolate PB2¬†(or peanut flour)
  • pinch of salt

Icing:

  • 4 tbsp. chocolate PB2
  • 2 tbsp. water

DSC_0186

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350*F and coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2. Stir wet ingredients together, and add in dry until thoroughly mixed and no chunks.

stir_steps

3. Get about a spoonful of batter and roll into balls. This can vary depending on how big you want your cookies. I was able to make 12. There’ll be a teeny bit leftover if you make 12…more to eat with a spoon mwahaha!

DSC_0196 DSC_0198

4. Bake at 350* F for 8-10 minutes. Ovens will vary, so be sure to check them regularly. I wanted soft cookies, so I baked mine for 8 minutes. For crunchier cookies, keep them in a bit longer.

DSC_0200

5. Allow them to cool to room temperature.

6. While they’re cooling, you can make the icing if you’re feeling frisky. Simply mix 2 tbsp. of water with the 4 tbsp. of chocolate PB2 and stir until it becomes creamy. I was generous with the icing, so it only covered 3 of my cookies.

icing

7. All that’s left to do, ENJOY!!!!! ūüėÄ

These cookies are soft, buttery, and rich with¬†a nutty, fresh aroma reminiscent of gingersnaps! When you bite into them, you’re hit with a dark chocolate-like flavor from the PB2, but as you keep chewing, the almond butter shines through and creates a fantastic after-flavor! You’ll definitely have to elicit every fiber of your self control not to consume the whole plate.

DSC_0248 DSC_0257

Wanderlust Wednesday: The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef

Cairns, QLD, Australia

May 2010

wanderlust wed - CopyMany of you have probably read my other two Australia posts about Sydney and Ayers Rock, but now I felt I should write up a post about the first adventure my dad and I had in the land down under.

DSC_0002

Cairns is the most magical town I’ve ever been to. To most people, it appears to be a grungy beach town, but to me, it represents¬†the greatest experience OF MY LIFE. I know I say that a lot, but this time, I mean it wholeheartedly.

After a 3 hour flight to LA from Dallas, a 14 hour flight to Sydney, and another 3 hours to Cairns, my dad and I were WIPED. The incredible view filling our plane windows definitely refreshed our jetlagged spirits, though!

P1110357

We FINALLY arrived!!!! …although our luggage didn’t.

But lack of fresh undies didn’t hold us back from exploring the first afternoon!!

DSC_0014 DSC_0021

We walked along the Esplanade boardwalk, bought some Aussie themed swimsuits, and ate dinner at our hotel–first time ever having kangaroo. ALL I CAN SAY: BEST FOOD EVER. TRY IT. It’s like filet mignon but leaner! That night, we crashed hard and our luggage arrived while we slept. And in the morning, we had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel–best cantaloupe EVER.

While walking to¬†the pier¬†for our reef tour, we¬†heard weird sounds in the trees above our hotel….

DSC_0022

FRUIT BATS! Never in a million years did I think I’d wake up to fruit bats just hanging out among other native fauna. It was so neat!

After gawking at the beauty around us, it was time to head out for the pier to catch ourSunlover Reef Cruiseto head out  for the trip of a lifetime.

DSC_0031

The boat ride was about 1.5 hours–27 miles of pure blue water, random islands, and REEF.

DSC_0043 DSC_0042 DSC_0039

DSC_0070

First thing I did when we docked?

SNORKELED!!

My dad has ear trouble whenever he swims, so he couldn’t snorkel, but he was able to hang out in the wading cage, talk to our hilarious Swiss lifeguard,¬†and be in charge of the camera. Our lifeguard said it was the best weather they’d seen on the reef in AGES. And boy was it ever!

DSC_0061 DSC_0063 DSC_0068 DSC_0044 DSC_0076 DSC_0059 DSC_0046 DSC_0104

I couldn’t get over the fact¬†that the Great Barrier Reef was filling the¬†expanse of my goggles.¬†Big fish, small fish, bizarre fish with freaky colors, coral, anemones, starfish, sea cucumbers, and a trench/drop off the height of a large building–it was nothing less of spectacular.

After swimming in what felt like a masterpiece painting, they called us over for lunch. It was a beautiful spread of fresh seafood and chicken. Delicious! After lunch, my dad and I went on a glass bottom boat tour, so he could get some more glimpses of what lurked under the water. The views were fantastic! We even saw a turtle!!

DSC_0085 DSC_0088 DSC_0094

After the ride, the crew fed some of the fish at the surface while we watched in an underwater viewing space below deck of our boat. TONS of teeny fish and ginormous fish swam by; the flashes of color were phenomenal!

DSC_0109

Even though it felt like the trip lasted 2 seconds, it was time to head back to Cairns. I gotta admit, I was a little choked up seeing the dock station fade into the horizon.

DSC_0113

Pulling back into the harbor, my dad and I reveled in the amazing day we’d just had. It looked like rain, so we were thankful to be back safe and to have had a sunny reef tour. And, to top off the great day, my dad spotted a dolphin right and we saw him leap out of the water! Seeing that dolphin and feeling the breeze on my face made me feel so blessed to have had¬†such an amazing experience. It was the best thing to check off my bucket list, that’s for sure! ūüôā

DSC_0119