An Update & Living Abroad Ramblings

Right now I am typing this post with my right hand. My left hand is busy holding my laptop screen because the moment I let go, it turns white. A few weeks ago one of the connectors from my laptop screen to my computer started to fail…leaving me laptopless for the most part. This is why posts have not been regular or coming at all. Its not for lack of writing or photo taking- I swear!

The truth is, a few days ago I hit my one month of living abroad. Doing this was about having 6 months of doing something ‘different’ with my life, having an adventure, however after one month of living here, I’m finding it’s been actually quite ‘similar’ to previous moves I’ve done (minus the language and food changes of course). Beginnings are difficult-no matter where you are moving, no matter for how long. I’m still nervous about ‘what comes next’ and I’m still panicked over whether it was ‘the right move’. Moves are meant to teach us that there is no right or wrong move. That, really, there is no next. Theres just you, wondering how you went from tutoring your student through a simple english assignment to managing a full on 11 year old emotional break down.  This past month I have felt absolutely everything: excitement, wanderlust, paranoia, fear, resentment, creativity, dullness, gratefulness, expansion, loss, guilt, strength…the list goes on. And I’ve realized- I didn’t take this crazy 6 month job to do ‘something a little different’ for a while- I think I did it so I would know that I actually can feel all this, do all this, and make it on okay. I think I needed that so I could start something going forward…something big and beautiful and amazing and wonderful. I think I just needed to know that I could do it and feel it all.

I think a lot of us wonder those things,  could I do that, could I make it through that. And I think a lot of us are told we can and still sit in disbelief. You don’t really know until you know. 

I’ve got 5 months left and there are days I say that exasperated and there are days I say that excited. Either way, it’s true. I’m excited to see what month 2 brings. I have a feeling it’s going to fly by- I have a lot of travel planned and fun stuff coming up- all of which will probably be shared after I figure out my tech situation.

Next on my List

I have a big travel list of where I’d like to go in the works all the time. I took this 6 month part time job abroad to accomplish some of my restless wanderlusting goals and dedicate myself to my yoga practice. During the process of finalizing I had a lot of fear crop up in the way of finances- at 23 you’re supposed to be starting your career and looking towards the future. In one particular moment I remember having a meeting at the bank and the accounts person across from me saying “have you started saving for a down payment yet?” My response was “a down payment for what?” He wasn’t so impressed- “A house, of course. If you want to be in your own place by the time your 26 you’ll need to start saving now…big time.”

And here I am. Student loans in tow, not saving for down payment, spending all my money on yoga classes and tourist traps. I don’t know- the future will most definitely be financially interesting, but I’ve learned that no matter what, its always worked out for me financial wise. Always. I’ve always made it WORK. SO why can’t I make it work for what I really love? 

This list is my 6 month no financial fear travel calendar/ list. I will not ‘put a trip on hold’ because of money- there is always a way to make it work- you just have to work it. 2017 is my year baby!

JANUARY

Luxembourg:

IMG_5763.jpgluxlife.jpgSettling in Luxembourg has taken some time and I’ve tried to be as open book as possible with sharing all the ups and downs. And there have been many ups and downs! A few months ago, back in Canada, I honestly couldn’t have told you where Luxembourg was on a map. Now I’m living here. It still boggles my mind a bit. I’m so close to everything and the country is absolutely more beautiful than I ever could have dreamed of. Sitting on 3 different plateaus I never realized how beautiful a land formation could be with an old and historical city built upon it.

Trier, Germany:

From Luxembourg, Trier is only an hour train ride away and is Germany’s oldest city. Its an ancient Roman capital that was inhabited a thousand years even before the Romans came along. Its been described to me as the perfect historical day trip- which sounds perfect while I’m settling into Europe.

FEBRUARY

Paris, France:

I think hitting Paris in February is the perfect time- not only because its valentines but it’s also my Mama’s birthday. I think we should meet in Paris- how romantic!

monuments.jpg

-MARCH-SAVING MONTH-

APRIL

Amsterdam, Netherlands:

Meeting my parents in Amsterdam for a week of biking & yoga would be a perfect holiday! I get holidays in april & may so these trip will be longer and more thorough. Amsterdam seems like a good relaxing city- walking along canals and visiting museums.PLUS, the tulip festival is in April!!

stock-photo-beautiful-amsterdam-76796579.jpg

MAY

Greece-Anywhere & Everywhere:

May is my birthday month and I plan on making it a big one. I’d like to be in Greece for a week, island hopping, doing yoga and getting salt water cured. I’d love to get the history of Athens mixed with the relaxation of a good ol’ blue and white beach. 24 couldn’t start any better in my opinion.

EUROPEMEDITERRANEANGREECEZANTEDES_000952.jpg

-JUNE-SAVING MONTH-

JULY

This is my big one. My big dream. My most expensive. I’d like to finish these 6 months with a yoga retreat in Bali. Its all to be decided…to be dreamed of more…but its on my list and I can’t seem to get it out of my mind.

bali-must-see-temples-L.jpg

Those are all my MUSTS but I do have a list of optionals OF COURSE, depending on cost:

  • Rome, Italy
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Florence, Italy
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Provence, France
  • South Africa
  • Marrakech, Morocco
  • Croatia
  • Goa, India (but thats big dreamin’)

Where else shall I go and write about? What are some of your best travels?

signature

**Most of these inspiring images are not mine.

Columbia Road Flowers

**WARNING: excessive amounts of flower photos ahead!**

As a former garden centre worker of 3 years, I have a serious love for flowers and dirt. So when my mom mentioned that she wanted to go to the Columbia Road Flower Market on Sunday, I happily agreed. We woke up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning so we could be there early as she was told that it tends to get crazy later on in the day. We got on the tube at 7:30 and arrived at the market around 9am! It was already bustling and busy after only being open for about an hour. cfm_9cfm_1

Being from Canada, I’m not used to seeing flowers this time of year. Usually, its purely white snow and pine. Here in the UK however, theres flowers all year round!! Despite the cold, the flowers were absolutely beautiful. HUGE blossoms and so fresh. Christmas wasn’t missing from the flower market either. Christmas trees lined the paths before the market and over the bustle you could hear “2 for five pound poinsettias!” being shouted. Real mistletoe (which I had never seen before!) and gorgeous large sprigs of holly were also big hits. Even cactuses in Santa outfits! cfm_2cfm_4cfm_3

Some of my favourites were the iris’ and roses which were so vibrantly coloured it was hard to believe. I found myself wondering how beautiful it would be in the summer months-how the flowers must look then?  On our way to the flower market I even saw rainbow coloured roses and was in awe. Rainbow!cfm_7cfm_8cfm_5There were also plenty of succulents for the forgetful gardener. cfm_6

We didn’t end up buying any flowers but just looking at them filled my garden spirits…hopefully until spring!

cfm_11

Shortbread Cherry Christmas Cookies

My absolute favourite christmas cookies are cherry shortbreads. Its not christmas without having them at least once (or twice…or more than that). Truthfully, in the Howie house if the maraschino cherries even make it into a baked good then you know its going to be worth it (my mom and I eat them from the jar as a snack). These are all the ingredients you will need…making these cookies both simple & fairly cheap since its mostly baking stuff you might already have in your cupboard!img_5189

Ingredients: 


1 Cup Unsalted Butter

2 Cups Flour

1/2 Cup Icing Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla

Maraschino Cherries (as many as you’d like!)


Directions


  1. Put on some festive tunes- I played my Son of A Nutcracker playlist on Spotfy. I’m pretty proud of it.
  2. Cut up as many maraschino cherries as you would like your cookies to have! I used one jar…because i’d like to make more cookies later with the second jar.
  3. Cream together butter & sugar. Add flour, vanilla &  cherries. The mixture should be in a ball and quite wet- no crumbles!
  4. Lay out lots of flour to roll out your dough! Also, pre lay out some cling wrap or a tray. The cookies will have to be refrigerated before baking so you’ll need something to lay them on.
  5. Once all ready, put cookies in the fridge for about an hour. This is what makes the cookies more of a time investment. We could call them multi-tasking cookies instead… or go do your laundry for an hour cookies. Either way, you’ve got a free hour!
  6. Pop them in the oven at 365 for around 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, these aren’t really set your timer and walk away cookies. They burn quick

img_5191img_5190img_5188img_5205img_5204And thats all! These cookies just feel so cozy to me at christmas time but they could be made anytime. img_5219

Hope you enjoy & have a wonderful end of year! 

img_5170

signature

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour

One of the #1 Vermont bucket list experiences has to be touring the infamous Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, so when my best friends and I ended up in Vermont after a 5 hour road trip we knew exactly what our first stop would be. We woke up and tried to get to the factory fairly early in the day as it was Saturday and we assumed it would be busy. We assumed right! If you are planning on visiting the factory, go a bit earlier, as we were leaving in the afternoon it was really starting to get packed!

We arrived around 11:30 am excited to dive into one our favourite girls night snacks. Is there any slumber party, ladies night or girls getaway complete without ice cream? No! When you walk up to the front there are a bunch of fun picture spots that we took full advantage of. benjerr3benjerr1benjerr2

The tour was 4.00, which if you ask me, makes it a pretty inexpensive way to have fun. We bought our tickets and immediately joined the next tour group! The entrance room was popping with colour and information on the history and mission of the company. There was even a section with ice cream scoops through the years- for all you history lovers out there, they were pretty interesting. benandjer4benandjerrbenandjerr6benandjerr5

Starting the tour we were lead upstairs to a screening room where we watched a video on the history of the company. What I didn’t know was how much of an activist company Ben & Jerry’s is. Their commitment to their products, which remain completely fair trade certified (all ingredients!), and the farmers who provide the dairy to make their products was amazing. They ensure, from family dairy farms to coffee bean farms thousands of miles away, that the communities they are sourcing their ingredients from remain sustainable & ethical. Something I believe, more companies should do. Their social activism missions were just as compelling as their product sourcing. Ben & Jerry’s focuses in 3 main areas: Marriage Equality, Peace Building & Climate Justice. You can learn more about all the initiatives they are a part of here!benandjerr11

After the screening room we headed into the factory to see where everything got made. Here, there were no photos allowed however (ice cream spies, no photos for you!).

Then came the best moment- the samples! We got a scoop of strawberry cheesecake ice cream and I have to say, it was THE best scoop of ice cream i’ve ever had. We loved it so much that Jackie grabbed one of the extra left over scoops and we all shared.

benadnjerr10benandjerr8benandjerr7

Then the tour was over! We wandered around the gift shop for a while, admiring all the genius ice cream products such as an ice cream cozy (because hands get cold!). Walking outside we followed the signs to the Flavour Graveyard- a place where retired flavours have a peaceful resting place!

benandjerr12benandjerr14benandjerr15benandjerr13

It was a fun little area to walk around. I was surprised at how many flavours I wished they’d bring back!

The factory was a fun hour long activity. I definitely recommend everyone do it if you find yourself in Vermont!

Ben & jerry's-.png