Sunday, June 29, 2008

Travel Essentials

I don't go on a ton of trips, but I could call myself a fairly seasoned traveler. I've picked up hints here and there. I watch and read things that tell me how to do it right and what to bring along.

On this last trip I discovered some travel essentials -- some things I've used for awhile and some things I've never used before but will from now on. Because you are so good to read my blog I want to pass this wisdom on to you by sharing 6 of my favorite travel tips.

#1 Bring a brightly colored suitcase. Mine is just like the one pictured, except mine is lime green. It's awesome. I got teased for it (mostly by my mom who asked me if I was going to the Emerald City) but I didn't care. I didn't have to attach a ribbon or sticker to set it apart. I didn't have to read tags to make sure it was mine. I could spot it on the conveyor belt from across the airport baggage claim and say, "Oh, there's mine." AND, I didn't have to worry about somebody mistaking it for their own. LOVE it. $40 TJ Maxx.

#2 Tide pens. I only brought one but should have brought a couple more because not only was it incredibly useful for me, it proved useful for everyone else as well. I recommend these over shout wipes. I brought both. I think the Tide pen works better AND you don't need to dispose of it when you're done treating the stain. You just put the cap on and stick it back in your bag.

#3 Ziploc Baggies. Bring a lot. Especially if you have a lot of beauty products that expand and explode at high altitudes. My toner, moisturizer and hair gel all benefited from the baggies they were in. Well, I guess my suitcase is what benefited.

#4 Extra rechargeable battery for your digital camera. I'm really glad I bought one. It was an extra fifty bucks, but even though I brought my battery charger, a charger won't help you when you're outside and your battery dies.

#5 These shoes. I bought these Nike Mary Janes for my trip because I knew I was going to do a lot of walking and I knew I had to look kind of nice for a lot of the venues I was visiting. I brought four pairs of shoes, but I wore these about 75% of the trip. They're cute, comfortable and durable. After one hot day in Paris, I changed into flip flops so my feet could breathe. But as soon as I walked out of the hotel and down the street I realized how remarkably comfortable my Nikes were and I regretted changing into flip flops immediately.

#6 Fold up hanging Mary Kay cosmetic case. I don't know who this little girl is, but this is the best picture I could find online. I couldn't even find it on Mary Kay's site, so you may have to find something similar rather than the real thing. I noticed my friend Maria's when we went to D.C. a few years ago and thought it was the greatest thing ever and so she got one for me for Christmas or my birthday or something and I always take it with me. It's so perfect. All four plastic compartments are washable and they are velcroed on so you can take them off if you want. It folds up into this perfect cube for your suitcase and then it has a hanger on it so you just hang it on the bathroom door in your hotel room. I LOVE it. Get one.

So there you go. If you have travel tips for me, I'm still collecting for future trips.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When reality sets back in...

I was really glad but kind of sad to wash Paris off of me when I hopped in the shower this morning. The jet lag hasn't affected me yet but I think it will this afternoon.

After more than a full day of buses, planes, flight delays and layovers, I rolled into the house half past midnight fully expecting to fall in bed and fall asleep but instead I stood silently in the middle of my room not sure what to do with myself. I heard a sleepy "Laura?" coming from Carri's room. I spoke with her briefly. We both agreed it seemed like I had been gone a very long time. She said she was glad I was home. I would have said “me too” but I couldn't, so I said I was really glad to see her -- much more truthful.

I'm not ready to be home. I want to be back in Europe. I didn't want to fall asleep last night because I knew falling asleep would officially mark the end of vacation. I would wake up in the morning and it would be like I had never been gone. But sadly, the spell broke before I climbed under the bedsheets. As soon as I watched the familiar image of my hand opening my closet door, normalcy set in and the alternate reality I had reveled in for the past two weeks began to close. This started a chain of mundane movements such as closing the blinds, opening my dresser drawers and plugging my cell phone in its charger. I debated saving my phone messages for the next day but decided to listen to them. Five messages from Grandma Durham. The first asking me to call her and the next four asking me why I haven't called her back. There were others from people that I could have sworn knew I was gone. Odd.

I would go on and on about all the places I went and the great people I was with, how much fun I had, and the friends I made, but I learned awhile ago that no one really cares or wants to hear about your trips to Europe. So I'm posting some pictures you're free to look at if you wish. They all have captions, but you need to scroll over the image if you want to read them. In a day or two I'll post a clip of the choir I was with rehearsing (the reason for the trip) in Gloucester Cathedral. I think they sang in a total of 10 or 11 venues. I was lucky to be invited along.

Here is a very brief clip of the choir singing an impromptu recital in Gloucester Cathedral.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Out of town

This is so you don't worry about me.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Smelly Memories

Last week I walked into the kitchen in my building. I was thrown back to about 8 years ago when I was living in Portland and doing temp work at the Information Technology Institute. I think it was the smell of coffee. It’s not like that’s the only time I’ve smelled coffee, but it was the combination of the coffee smell and the kitchen smell that just reminded me of working there.

There are other smells that always remind me of something in particular. And they have a powerful impact on me and my mood.

I remember driving in my car several years ago and turning on the air. The smell that came out of the vent brought back memories of my first trip to London and it made me really happy. I know this is kind of gross, but I think the smell reminded me of the tube stations there.

Strawberry Shortcake (the doll – not the dessert) reminds me of my bedroom in my family’s second house in Orem.

The smell of swamp coolers reminds me of summer and wanting to run through the sprinklers.

The smell of parking garages always makes me happy because it reminds me of being on vacation.

The smell of wassail reminds me of Christmas night when my family would go to Grandma Durham’s to visit her and any other relatives that were visiting her. She always had wassail simmering on the stove.

Elmer’s rubber cement reminds me of Sunrise Elementary.

Pot roast reminds me of being little and waking up from a nap on Sunday afternoons.

Brand new tennis balls remind me of my Grandpa Christensen.

Cellars remind me of my Great Grandma’s house in Payson. And being freaked out when she'd walk down there with me because I was afraid she'd fall and break a hip.

KFC reminds me of wanting to throw up.

Salty air reminds me of family vacations to San Diego.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Journal Gem #4

Monday, June 7, 2004
9:52 AM
Salt Lake City

So I never thought I'd really see HIM again. It was so random. I guess I COULD pick him out of a crowd after all.

Yesterday morning I went to my cousin Monica's ward because their baby was being blessed. Their ward is in Sugarhouse. Right after Sacrament Meeting, the second row stands up and guess who was there? Mr. No Show -- Ben, who stood me up 3 weeks ago. We made eye contact, but he looked away like he didn't even recognize me. My mom was explaining something to me, but I didn't hear a word she said because my eyes were fixed on Ben as I tried to figure out if that was really him. I pointed at him and said, "You know what, I think that's the guy who stood me up." Lisa said, "It is!" Because I was just thinking that he went to Alta." Josh asked, "Do you want me to go smack him?" I just said, "No, let's get out of here" as I gathered everyone up and led them out the back, putting my sunglasses on in the process.