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Hello, Friday

10 May 2012

Dear self, why did you procrastinate your massive work presentation until today?  This creates a lot of unnecessary anxiety, and makes you want to drink lots of coffee.  While we're on that topic, why did you drink that Mega Mochaccino this morning?  Do you all of a sudden not understand cause and effect?  Welcome to Jitter-land, population one.

Dear Sydney, I will be sad to leave you in 22 days.  {Holy crap, 22 days!}  However, I'm super excited about our Big Adventure, which is kind of outweighing the sadness at this stage.  But let's keep in touch, eh?

Dear bloggers, I'm running into tons of you lately that are no-reply@blogger.com.  If you haven't received any email responses to your comments, you should really check your settings.  I give instructions here.

Dear husband, I love your guts.  You sent me the sweetest E-mail this week while I was traveling...and it totally made me smile from ear to ear.  You sure know how to make a girl feel special.  And to top it off, you made homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that might be the most delicious cookies I've ever tasted.  {You obviously know the true way to my heart!}

Sadly, all that remains of said cookies

Dear readers, man have I been enjoying our interactions lately.  I've met so many new bloggers in the past couple of weeks, and I'm loving every one of you!  The more blogs I discover, the less time I have to read each one every day...so please forgive me for that.  If I'm being too much of a stranger, call me out via twitter and I'll be sure to pop by your blog!

Cheers to the weekend!
Any fun plans?


Linking up with Ashley for Friday's Letters.


P.S. Remember to link up next Thursday
for Flaunt Your Cause.  Click for details.

ANZAC Day

April 25th was ANZAC Day,
a National holiday in Australia and New Zealand,
to commemorate the fallen soldiers,
who died in Gallipoli, Turkey in 1915.

There are several traditions for ANZAC Day,
the first of which is to make anzac biscuits,
just as the wives sent their solider husbands so long ago.

So to fully partake in the Aussie traditions,
my friend Steph and I made some bikkies in the morning.

Anzac Biscuits
Dry:
1 cup flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup whole oats
3/4 cup brown sugar

Wet:
125g butter
2 Tbps water
2 Tbps golden syrup
1 tps baking soda

They turned out delicious!
Buttery, coconuty, chewy deliciousness.

The second ANZAC tradition stems from the games
the soldiers played in the trenches.
They would gamble on heads or tails,
and flip 3 coins simultaneously.

The game is called two-up,
and it's only played once a year on ANZAC day.
The bars that are attached to RSL (Returned Servicemen League) clubs
host the two-up,
and foolish folks like ourselves go to gamble and drink!


There's no house money in two-up,
so you just place bets (of any amount $5+) with a person nearby.
If you're betting heads, you hold the money.

Pandemonium near the betting ring
the girl holding the wooden thing is the "spinner" for this round...she flips the coins
a guy who's $5 I won
as the night wore on...at a different bar...clearly people were indulging in some beverages

more betting fierceness


In conclusion,
if ANZAC Day and USA's Veteran's Day had to compete,
in a head-to-head matchup,
the score {in my opinion} would be:
ANZAC Day 340,803,023 -- Veteran's Day 2
This holiday was so much fun!
And at the same time, there is certainly an aspect of remembrance,
and a desire to honor the fallen soldiers.
It's the perfect blend of commemoration & celebration.
It's kind of like the really fun, happy-go-lucky person who dies,
and everyone at the funeral has no choice but to tell jokes,
and remember the good times,
because that's what their friend would have wanted.


Happy ANZAC Day, friends!
{better late than never, right.}

Laugh Factory

09 May 2012

Humor is very important to me.
It's one of the best ways to connect with another person.
If we have the same sense of humor, there's a very good chance we'll be friends.

I love witty humor.
I love raunchy humor.
I love the-more-dirty-and-over-the-top-the-better humor.

So I thought I'd share some things that make me laugh,
and you can decide if we pass the 'friend test.'

In no particular order...

The Honey Badger video
Anything Chris Rock


Some e-cards

{via}
The Hangover
Sour Shoes from The Howard Stern show
Kenny Powers

{via}
funny internet photos



There are also certain bloggers that I find hilarious.
And if I think your blog is funny?
I will stalk you until you agree to become my internet bff.
With that being said, let me introduce you to my internet bff friend, Michelle.
Not only is her blog ridiculously funny,
she has a super hot boyfriend that I drool over.
Oh, and she's pretty good looking herself.


When Emily asked me for a write-up on my blog,
I had to take a few moments to ponder.
What can I say?
I'm not married, I'm not a pet owner, nor am I with child.
I can't share a special recipe, unless it involves opening a microwave door,
nor can I teach you a crafty DIY project, unless you'd like it to look like that of a 5 year old's work.
Oh, and I'm not Mormon.

So what could I possibly have to blog about??
Here are some things you may come across:

1. My Korean father, whom I lovingly refer to as "Fasha," and his new Korean wife whom I not-so-lovingly call "Princess Sophia," often make an appearance after their many Asian happenings.

2. My loving man, who is known as V Dizzle, The Dizz, or V (depending on my mood that day) will often grace blog posts with our San Diego adventures.
(He's not bad on the eyes, either.)

3. You'll probably hear more about running than you'd ever care to.
But promise, once this marathon is over (in less than 6 weeks!) you'll never have to hear it again. Trust me, I'm sick of it too.

4. And sometimes (usually once a month) my alter ego, Crazy Connie, will grace you with her presence.

You get a little piece of it all.
It's truly a win-win here. 

{Michelle's best "asian" look}

Though I'm still fairly new with this whole blogosphere thing,
I've come to meet some really great people, including Emily
(Cue the tears and Awww's).
And I can't wait to meet more of you soon!

XOXO

BLOG

Tuesday Travel Diaries: Turkey

08 May 2012

Today's TTD is awesome.
Want to know why?
Because it features my real-life friends, Jon & Jen.
Jon and Jen are great friends of ours in Los Angeles,
and they are also well seasoned travelers.

I know you'll enjoy reading about their trip!



The basics: where, when, & how long?
 Turkey for 13 nights:

5 nights Istanbul
1 night Canakkale
2 nights Kusadasi
1 night Pamukkale
1 night Konya
2 nights Cappadocia
1 night Ankara

What route did you take?  And how much was the flight?
 We flew from LAX to IST on Turkish Airlines.  The non-stop flight was 13.5 hours.  The tickets were a steal, $550 each (including taxes + fees). 

Who did you travel with? 
 My well-traveled husband.
Goreme rocks and fairy chimneys, Cappadocia

Tell us where you stayed.
 We stayed at 7 different hotels throughout Western Turkey.  My favorite was KoruMar Hotel in Kusadasi.  The hotel was in an outstanding location that overlooked the Aegean.  The view from our room was breathtaking.


Did you encounter anything unexpected?
 Since most hotels in the States only offer non-smoking rooms, I did not remember to inform the hotel reception that we wanted a non-smoking room.  Our room not only smelled like smoke but the ceiling and room vents were covered in soot.  Around 3 AM my husband woke up vomiting from the strong smell and had to sleep in the bathtub for the remainder of the night.  We could not change rooms because the non-smoking rooms were occupied.

Tell us about the food.
 Turkish cuisine is very tasty. Dining in Turkey is affordable, you can get a full meal and drink for about $7. 

Tea is an importation part of Turkish culture, it is offered after every meal and in any social situation.  The offering of tea is considered to be a sign of friendship and hospitality.

Were there any must see’s?
 There is so much to see and do in Turkey.  Here are a few of my favorite experiences:

City of Ephesus, Ephesus. Famous for its temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the world.




Hot Air Balloon Flight in Cappadocia. Cappadocia is known around the world as one of the best places to fly with hot air balloons.



Pamukkale hot springs, Pamukkale



Ozkonak Underground City, Cappadocia.   The top four floors are open for public exploration.



House of Virgin Mary prayer wall, Ephesus


Bosphorus Cruise, Istanbul


Do you have any regrets? 
Nope. 
  
Would you go back? 
Absolutely, I would love to explore the Aegean Region or take a Mediterranean cruise.
  
Anything else you'd like to share about the trip?
 Turkey is underrated.  It is friendly, beautiful, culturally rich and a good value.  Rick Steves says it best, "Those who haven't been to Turkey wonder why anyone would choose to go there. Those who've been dream of returning."

-----------------------------------------

Jen--when you guys are ready to return to Turkey, count us in :)
The trip looks amazing!
Thanks so much for sharing.

Readers--please leave Jen some comment love.  She's a non-blogger, so there's no link to follow.

Why You Don't Have to be Rich to Travel

07 May 2012

I've been busy planning our "Big Adventure,"
aka our seven weeks of travel before returning to the US.
I haven't really said much about it here,
partially because I wasn't sure how interesting it would be to read,
but more importantly because I thought it would give the wrong perception.

You see, a few status updates on my personal FB account have mentioned our upcoming travel.
And, in return, I got tons of comments about how J & I are traveling fools,
and I felt that the underlying message was something along the lines of "gee, it must be nice."
Maybe I'm being a bit sensitive, but I think some of our friends are searching for the money tree in our backyard.

{via}

Well, I'm here to tell you, you don't have to be rich to travel.
{you do need some discretionary income and advanced planning}


Let me explain how non-rich folks, like J and I do it.

Costa Rica -- February 2010:
{This was for our destination wedding.}
Flights: We had two free flights through credit cards points (approx $600 value)
Accommodation: 5 nights in a little beachside bungalow for $350
Meals & misc: another $350

I'm not including the costs of our wedding or honeymoon here,
(although I'm happy to do a separate post about our budget wedding if requested,)
so for 5 nights it totaled about $700, which we had over a year and a half to save for.

©Comfort Studio Photography
Europe -- August/September 2010:
{I was selected to work an overseas conference.}
Flights: My flight was paid by my work.  We used all the money we got from our wedding to pay for J's flights (approx $1,100)
Accommodation: 5 nights paid by my company, then we found budget apartment rentals for our nights in London & Paris.  $550 for 5 nights.
Meals & misc: another $600(ish)

Because we turned a work trip into a vacation as well, we really saved on costs.
Total cost was $2,250, but we only had to save for $1,150 worth because we used our wedding money.
We booked hotels & tours a little at a time, over a 4 month period, so we paid under $300 per month.


The Big Adventure -- June/July 2012
So here's the deal, ever since the idea of Australia came about, J and I promised each other that we'd travel for a couple of months before returning to the US.  We decided that we simply couldn't be on this  side of the world, without seeing a fair bit of it.

And we're sticking to it!
Even though I don't have a job lined up in the US,
and things are ridiculously busy with J's work right now,
we're doing it.


Here's our itinerary:
5 days in Hamilton Island, Australia (Great Barrier Reef)
1 week in Bali
2 weeks in Vietnam
3 days in Taiwan
5 days in Okinawa, Japan (visiting my bestie)
2 weeks in New Zealand (north & south island)


How on Earth are we paying for it?
Well, remember that we've been thinking about it for over 1.5 years.
Our total budget is $10,000.


1.) We're "homeless" during this travel time--i.e. we aren't paying rent anywhere.
2.) My work contract includes a contract completion bonus, which (post taxes) will be about $2,000.
3.) It's required by Aussie law that my employer contribute 10% of my salary into a retirement fund.  We'll cash this out when we go, pay the tax penalties, and get about $4,000.
4.) Our Aussie tax return from 2011 was $1,800.
5.) When we move out of our apartment, we'll get our security deposit returned ($2,000.)

So there you have it--our ~$10,000 in travel money.
We've also saved money during the past year, because some of the items I mentioned won't be paid until after we've started traveling.  So in order to have money to get everything booked, we are using money out of our savings and reimbursing ourselves when the bonuses, security deposit, and retirement money come through.

So as I said, you don't have to be rich to travel.
{so long as you plan ahead & have some discretionary income}


My biggest learning in all of our travels, is to start paying a little at a time, at least six months in advance.  It can make a big sum of money seem much more manageable!

What's your budget travel tip?


P.S. If you're new here,
from Across the Pond,
or the vlog link-up,
or the #ff blog hop,
please say "hello" 
and tell me a little about you!

Spiritual Sunday

06 May 2012

"A strong determination to be happy will help you.
Do not wait for circumstances to change,
thinking falsely that in them lies the trouble.

Do not make unhappiness a chronic habit,
thereby affecting yourself and your associates.
It is blessedness for yourself and others if you are happy.

If you possess happiness you possess everything;
to be happy is to be in tune with God.
That power to be happy comes through meditation."

-Paramahansa Yogananda
"The Law of Success"
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