Who’s the sheeple now?

I received a notification a couple of weeks back for having this WordPress account for 12 years. I had this WordPress account when I was 21 years old. I was in my last quarter of university figuring out what was next. Side note: I’ve been blogging for far longer. I started blogging since I was 16 years old. I had a Xanga because everyone in high school had a Xanga. When I was 17, I decided to switch to Livejournal because I preferred the interface. At 16 and 17, I wrote about school projects, exams, books I read (which everyone else in my class has read), hanging out with friends, etc. I was very cautious to not slip writing about high school crushes ;-). Then from my first year of college to senior year, I had a Blogspot. I wrote about personal finance — out of all things. All of them I wrote very intermittently.

Continue reading Who’s the sheeple now?

Top Posts of 2017

Here a round-up of the top posts from this year. It was interesting to see which posts had the most views but I also wanted to share my favorite posts for the year.

Most Views:

  1. About – Not really a post but it did get quite a lot of views.20170325_114721_zpscwjjwuc2
  2. I miss looking out of the window – A Weekly Photo Challenge featuring the Amalfi Coast.
  3. Pause: May I take a picture? – A Weekly Photo Challenge of a rooftop overlooking the Los Angeles skyline.
  4. Week 1 of the Travel Blogging Challenge – I did this weekly blogging challenge hosted by Winta from iWinta about different travel stories and through this blogging challenge I was suprised to learned I had a lot to share! As I have emphasized many times before, I am not a travel blogger. I just happened to have been to a lot of places without realizing it. It looks like Travel Tuesday will be a staple 2
  5. Experience Zion – Zion National Park is like no other. It’s like being on another planet.Zion

My Person favorites:

  1. Motivation Monday: Happiness Wins! – I came a across a prompt on my planner, “what’s my mantra” in the beginning of the year. This is a review of what changed — surprisingly (or maybe not) it did not change. I guess happiness is my root motivator.
  2. Week 17: Leaving books behind – I have this romantic idea in my head that if I leave my books around, someone would pick it up and it would change their life.
  3. Weekly Coffee Share: Joy List – There have been moments where my head is lost in a fog. This joy list I carry brings me back.
  4. Week 5: Bangkok, Naples, Los Angeles – This post is where I list my favorite world cities for food.dscf3131
  5. Things to put in a waffle maker: Cinnamon rolls – For me, this was just a fun twist on putting something different in a waffle maker.waffle cinammon roll

Mel in the Wild

These interviews are moving to Travel Tuesday. The more interviews I’ve done, the more I felt it would be a deserving spot for these interviews to take place on Tuesdays. Bloggers are from all over the world and from all walks of life. I love asking other people about their lives because I’d love to see their city, town, farm through THEIR lenses.

Meet Mel of  BRB Travel Blog where she documents her travels and uses it to fuel her wanderlust. Mel is from Montreal, Canada — a city I’d love to come visit some day.

From this interview I learned Canada only offers 2 weeks of paid time off just like America. I had no idea! In my opinion, it’s too little. But just like me, I too, am creative with my paid time off by framing it around work holidays to making those long weekends even longer.

Also she speaks French, Spanish, and English fluently — that’s another thing we (sort of) have in common. I’d say I’m more professionally proficient in French and actively learning Spanish. I am actively seeking opportunities to speak more of i.

Découvrez son interview ci-dessous!

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What’s your 9-to-5? (or 6-to-2 or 11-to-7)? You get thehttp://darlingmagazine.org/blog/ idea. No need to list your employer.):

I’m a production manager at a 3D animation studio. I’m currently working on an animated TV-show for NBCUniversal / Dreamworks. In the past, I worked in movies like Ballerina (Leap! in the USA). My day-to-day consists on managing 50+ artists and making sure we deliver the project on time as well as on budget; Client communication is also a key task in my daily activities. My favourite part of working in an animation studio is to be with very talented artists and to see all the beautiful things they draw, animate & light. I love to see the whole process coming to life everyday and see how we go from an idea on paper to an art sketch to character moving in 3D.

Location: Montreal, Canada

I’ve been living in Montreal for the past 13 years. I’m originally from Venezuela and I’ve lived in France when I was a kid.

What was your main drive behind your blog?

I like to share travel tips of what to do and where to eat and drink. In the past, I’ve found myself wondering “is there more to a city than what I just saw?”, “I’ve tried 2 crappy restaurants in this destination, I’m sure there must be a good one near by, but which one is it?”. In my blog, I thrive to answers those questions for future travellers who might find themselves in similar situations.

What topics does your blog cover?

This blog is for wannabe nomads, for those that want to explore the world but don’t want to quit their full-time job. The blog mainly focuses on exploring weekend getaways near Montreal and other world destinations as part of my yearly 2-week vacation.

Wow! In Canada you also get 2 weeks of paid time off per year? What are your thoughts on that? Personally, I am not a big fan. I’ve been creative with my time off by framing it around 3 or 4-day weekends.

I love to have paid time off to travel! It feels like all your hard work of that year gets compensated in these weeks of excitement and adventure. I do a mix of long weekends and weeks of vacations. Long-ish vacations are great because you can travel to the other side of the globe. For example, without my 2 weeks vacations, I wouldn’t have been able to go to Japan. Like you, I get creative with 3 or 4 day-weekends. I often tend to leave early on Fridays during a statutory holiday so we can go travel for 4 days in a row. For this year Canadian Thanksgivings, we went to one of Canada’s wine country, 7 hours away from Montreal. To enjoy the break to the fullest, I took Friday afternoon off and combined it with Monday off (the statutory holiday), I had plenty of time to enjoy the weekend.

Also, I do a few overtime hours here and there which get banked in exchange for days off. Most of the time, I use these hours for longer weekends or I add them towards a longer vacation.

For people who are visiting your blog for the first time, what posts and/or series should they read?

The blog is split between different destinations, so it will depend on what you are looking for. I would recommend following the series of post of Bulgaria by starting with the one from Plovdiv. The series takes you in depth through an uncommon destination.

What are the top things to do in Montreal?

20170715_194048126_iOSDifficult question! Montreal is a big city with multiple identities. There are lots of arts, great food and very nice areas to discover. My main suggestion would be to leave the main tourist spots like downtown and the old port and go visit some beautiful neighbourhoods where locals go.

The Mile-End, one of the world hipster headquarters, has cute artsy shops and the best bagels in town! Go to Montreal’s South-West boroughs, stop by the Atwater market, a public market where the aromas of fresh picked strawberries and cooking herbs will make you want to stop at every stand. Then, take a walk in the banks of the Lachine canal for an astonishing view of the city’s skyline. Just 3 blocks north, there is Notre-Dame street where you can stop at one of the best restaurants, bars or cafes. The uneven 2 floors buildings with red brick from the early 20th century make up the charm of this gentrified working-class neighbourhoods.

For a complete guide of things to do in Montreal, follow my series #BRBinMontreal, to discover Montreal like a local.

What are your short/ long-term goals?

In blogging, my short-term goals will be to finally understand what SEO is without having to roll my eyes because I keep procrastinating into diving-into the specifics.

As a continuum goal, I would love to improve my photography and writing skills.

DSP_4762How do you start your day?

I really dislike mornings! My work days start by my husband dragging me out of bed after 2 snoozes. I spend another 10min in bed by trying to open my eyes and checking the weather forecast. Then, I rush out of bed to shower and get dressed, eat breakfast and prepare our lunch boxes. I have a 45min minute commute split between metro a walking.

What is your favorite way to end the day?

My favourite way to end the day is by being lazy on the sofa watching a movie on Netflix while eating a square (or two) of dark chocolate.

You got a free plane ticket to go anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?

Can I have a ticket with multiple destinations?

I would like to go to a remote island in the Pacific. I’ve never been around that region and the tickets are quite expensive, so this will give me the option to go to a destination that would have been inaccessible otherwise.

Most valuable advice you’ve received (can applicable to life, career, family, etc):

My parents told me to always look after myself because I might not always have them around or have a safety net to help me.

You can never leave your home without…

A scarf. I took the habit of always having one in my purse while living in Canada because you never know when it’s going to get chilly. You can use it in winter and in summer. Also, when traveling, it can be useful to carry around if you want to visit a religious site that request you to cover your shoulders or head.

How do you find time to blog?

Blogging can be very time consuming. You don’t only write your post and tweak your pictures, you need to participate in blogging threads and do a lot of outreach. I do most of the outreach and blogging threads during the week usually after work. I can easily spend around 1h-2h per day which allows me to write full posts and edit my pictures during the weekend.

Want more from Mel? Find her on social media!

Interested in a blog interview? Let me know!

Week 21: Not Quite the End

Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

The Travel Challenge ends here but Travel Tuesday will still live on though. I have plenty of other posts I can fill on Tuesdays with such as:

  • Mocha’s Travelling PhotosDSC01220.JPG
  • More travel stories. Based on a lot of my posts I can certainly branch out.

New York City

  • Interview stories featuring other bloggers who work full-time jobs not related to blogging. It’s one of my favorite posts to put together because I get to interview different bloggers from all over the world. I’ve lived in Southern California for most of my life and I meet a lot of transplants who move to SoCal for greener pastures. I like to ask “how’s it like living in [fill in the blank]?” I get these perplexed look to why I am so curious. I’ve been posting these interviews on Mondays for Motivation Monday, but I think it is fitting Travel Tuesday.

During this Travel Blogging Challenge I was surprised to learn I’ve traveled more than I thought. It was nice to pull some old pictures from the vault and give them some life.

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”

I learned through this travel challenge…and even through my travelling to not rush and see every country in the world. When I was in my 20s, I thought I got to go to this place, this place, and this place. But then I thought, if I really went to the places I wanted to go in my 20s, what is there left for me to do?

I drafted overly ambitious itineraries where there would goign through multiple cities and countries over the course of 2 days each. Then I revised it to something more realistic and we’d go on vacation and I’d wish we spend a few days more per stop.

“Rest and be thankful.”

Through this challenge, I’ve been an aggressive champion of taking breaks from work — whether it is taking a 15 minute break after every 90 minutes of work, a few hours of mental health breaks, or a few days off for vacation because you deserve it. The younger generation vacation shames because they praise work martyrdom to impress the upper management. Last Friday was my recent hit of vacation-shaming by a younger co-worker when she found out I was going on a week-long vacation. She goes “wow that’s a long time you may not have access to your work e-mail when you’re away.” First of all, it’s just one week (I wish it was two weeks) and second, it’s likely I won’t have access to my e-mail.

This same co-worker is going to Seattle to visit a friend on Friday and asked if she could remote in for work. Sure technology is great to be more connected to your job, but at this point we’re going too far. I was in Seattle for VACATION in May and did not remote in for a single meeting because it’s my vacation. Please cut the work addiction and take your PTO. When people are taking their time off, please respect it and face the fact they’re likely NOT going to respond.

Read more posts from the Travel Blogging Challenge:

Week 1: Your Favorite Travel Photo of You and Intro
Week 2: Little Known Travel Tips
Week 3: Funny Travel Story
Week 4: Travel Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual Travel Activities and Photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: 5 Favorite Blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting travel stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in my backpack?
Week 12: Happy and Sad Travel Stories
Week 13: Unique Cultures Encountered 

Week 14: Top 3 Travel Destinations
Week 15: Travel Regrets
Week 16: Scary and Cool Travel Stories
Week 17: Things to Purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Travel Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)

Who else is doing the challenge?

The Self-Esteem Tag

I got a nod for the Self-Esteem Tag! Thank you, Rose Hunter!

Rose is a UK-based blogger, she shares her travels, practical travel tips, beauty tips, and takes really good pictures. One of my favorites pictures she took is of the bride and groom walking through a row of sparkler for their send-off. Another favorite of mine is the parade of rubber ducks floating down a river.

Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you & link to their blog
  • Answer the 10 questions
  • Nominate & tag as many people as you’d like

Answers

What is one facial or physical feature you like most about yourself?

My legs — they walk and run long distances.

What values are most important to you?

Compassion and having a heart of service.

What is one personality trait that you like most about yourself?

Creativity — but also I fear I would run out of it one day.

What is your definition of beautiful?

People who uplift each other. There is nothing uglier than a person who don’t cheer you on and wish you well.

What is the last thing you did that made you smile or laugh?

My dogs — they greet me when I open the door from work. They can be pretty silly too.

Cute dogs

When do you feel most attractive?

When I am at my barre class. I never took a dance class when I was a kid, so taking barre gets in touch of my inner dancer.

What are you passionate about?

I work in human services, I am passionate about helping people and serving my community.

Who is the most supportive figure in your life?

My husband

What are you most proud of about yourself?

Overall, just how far I’ve come.

Do you feel good about yourself today?

Yes. Today I took a day off. I spent it hiking with my dogs and went to brunch. I had these amazing tiramisu green tea pancakes! It’s been a while since I had a “mental health”** day off. With my reservoir of PTO, I should take a little bit more throughout the year.

**Note to self: I need to stop calling these “mental health” days and everyone else should too. It sounds too clinical, too prescriptive, and it implicates Americans get these days off when we are on the point of burning out. I don’t want to diminish the fact Americans are overworked, but we need a better name.

Tiramisu Green Tea Pancakes

I tag…:

Week 8: Five Favorite Travel Blogs

Week 8: Five Favorite blogs

Since it’s Travel Tuesday, I’ll share some of my favorite travel blogs. Most of them I read for years and they are some of the reasons that contribute to my wander-lust.

Wild Junket – I believe I’ve read and followed Nellie of Wild Junket since I lived in San Diego. If you are an adventures junkie when you go travel, then this is for you. She’s gone to quite exciting places such as Iraq, Tibet, and Central Asia. It’s wonderful to see how much this blog as grown and she’s married and has a child and still travels. I hope when we have kids, we can still just as adventurous.

Boot n All Travel Blog – When I was first planning my trip to Southeast Asia in my early 20s, I loved going to this blog for inspiration. It was refreshing to see photos and read that you did not need to be rich to have a rich travel experience. At the time I was surrounded by people who told me that you could not have a great time if you did not spend a lot of money in a 5-star hotel. Reading and seeing photos on the blog of people wearing backpacks, riding bicycles, sitting in public transit were my type of travelers.

Manger – Not quite a travel blog but I am obsessed with Mimi Thorisson of Manger. Reading her blog and following her on Instagram transports me to the countryside of Medoc, France. Taking this a little bit further, I have her first cookbook, A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse it’s a staple in my kitchen and used quite a bit of her recipes on several occasions.

 

20170731_203417If I can’t travel, at least I can make something and bring the French countryside to my 1950s American Ranch-style home.

Her Packing List – This is a wonderful resource on all about packing light and travelling far. Female travelers review their backpacks and share what’s in their backpack for their travels People ask me “how was I able to fit two weeks of stuff in my backpack?” and I credit this site.

An American in Rome – Her photos are beautiful! Just like me, she’s originally from California but now she’s living in Rome. We stayed in Rome for a couple of day and reading through her blog made us wished we stayed longer — heck, stay and explore Italy and never come back! In the meantime, the closest thing I can do is go to the Neapolitan pizza place down the street.

Read more posts from the Travel Blogging Challenge:

Week 1: Your Favorite Travel Photo of You and Intro
Week 2: Little Known Travel Tips
Week 3: Funny Travel Story
Week 4: Travel Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual Travel Activities and Photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling

Who else is doing the challenge?

Interested in participating in the Weekly Travel Blogging Challenge? Feel free to make your own today!

June Goals, May Reflections

Greetings, I just came back from my trip from the Oregon and Washington. It was a lot of fun to just get away from LA. It’s now June so that means it’s time to share some goals

But first let’s recap goals from May.
Continue reading June Goals, May Reflections

5 Things…to do to other than social media

I decided to make this week’s “5 Things” thematic and decided to gear it towards things I can do not related to social media. I was inspired by this post on Thrive Global.

I confess, times I’ve been burnt out from social media because there’s so many outlets nowadays. I do a bit of social media on my job and I do get sucked into the numbers games not only at work, but also in my personal social medias. I am not against social media at all for either personal or work life. It’s a wonderful tool to share information and build community within hobbies and industries. But once in a while having a break is the healthy thing to do. Having a list of things to “unsocial media” yourself is a checkpoint on what you can do instead of mindlessly going streams of social media feeds and focus on enjoying life. At the moment, instead of social media I should…
Continue reading 5 Things…to do to other than social media