travel

Off to Another Beach Weekend!

blue crabs

I’m taking a summer Friday today (woohoo!) and heading back to Maryland. It’s going to be a sibling weekend, since Peter’s older brother, Paul, will be there, too, which only doubles the fun/ridiculousness. So I’m looking forward to more beach, sun, blue crabs, summery drinks–and maybe another slice or two of Smith Island cake.

And here are my fave links from the week:

Where’s your happy place?

The cool journalist’s travel kit (of course there’s booze in there!)

200 dance moves in 200 seconds

Lykke Li’s awesome cover of “Silver Springs” (I’m not a huge Fleetwood Mac fan, but I’m so loving this)

…and always remember: “Stressed” is “desserts” spelt backwards (I definitely needed that perspective this week!)

What are you up to, this weekend?

How Do You Pass the Time on Long Car/Bus Rides?

When it comes to physically getting from place to place, I don’t necessarily think the journey is just as important as the destination. I love spending weekends at my sister’s place. But since I don’t drive, it’s not easy to get there. I have to take a torturous six hour bus ride or five-hour train/bus trip.

I don’t mind the train. Amtrak is pretty comfy and I can work on my laptop when the WiFi is functioning. The bus is another story. I get carsick reading or typing, so the only thing I can do is plug into my iPhone. For six hours straight. I’ve found that listening to This American Life and audiobooks is the only thing that makes the trip doable.

I first started listening to This American Life when I needed to pass time in a similar fashion. A few years ago, I was working a freelance gig that involved lots of, um, mindless busy work. To motivate and entertain myself, I queued upВ TAL–and what a difference that made! I was flying through my assignments and TAL episodes. Within a week, I’d listened to a year’s worth.

TAL makes long trips go by just as quickly. I love how Ira Glass and his correspondents put a quirky spin on every topic they tackle. I’ve yet to come across an episode that isn’t fun, accessible and heartfelt. It’s reporting and storytelling at its best. Not everyone could make the Brazilian financial crisis so entertaining. (I loved that episode–and I usually glaze over/can’t understand anything that involves economics.) Or decide that in order to write the perfect break-up song, you’d have to get Phil Collins’ advice. Or make a story that you’d find in a small town paper (about a school maintenance man on a power trip, for example) way more compelling than any movie that’s been produced recently.

Audiobooks work just as well. Since I was one of the few people on earth who hadn’t read or watched The Help, I figured I might as well listen to it. The audiobook was very well done, with four women, including Octavia Spencer, narrating as the characters–and, at a 18 hours, it lasted several trips. Now, I’m finishing up The Lost City of Z, by David Grann, one of my favorite New Yorker writers. He attempts to retrace the footsteps of Percy Fawcett, a British explorer who went missing trying to find an ancient city in the Amazon.

How do you pass the time on long trips? Are you an audiobook or TAL fan, too?

(Photo via Swiss Miss)

Smith Island Cake

Red Velvet Smith Island Cake

I’d been wanting to have a slice of Smith Island cake since I first read about it in the NY Times about a year ago. Mal and Peter had recently moved to Maryland and I was seeking interesting things to do in the area. Not surprisingly, much of my research revolved around local food and drinks, and this cake intrigued me.

Smith Island cake is Maryland’s official state dessert. It’s constructed from six to 12 super-thin layers of cake and just as many layers of icing. The cake is “native” to tiny Smith Island, which measures just eight by 12 miles,В the only inhabited island in the Chesapeake. No one knows who created the confection–some say it was born from a torte recipe Welsh settlers brought to the island in the 1600s. But it’s beloved there and across Maryland’s eastern shore.

And after having a few slices this weekend, I can understand why.

We didn’t have time to go to Smith Island, so one of my sister’s co-workers recommended that we pick up the dessert from the Original Smith Island Cake Company, located in West Ocean City. We purchased two mini cakes: one red velvet, one original.

Smith Island Cakes

We had the red velvet cake as part of our breakfast on Sunday. (I mean, what else would you eat when you’re spending the day in a bikini?) I knew the cake would have many layers, but I was still amazed at just how thin they were. Mal and I ate our slices layer by layer; I thought the cake was really good, but wanted the frosting to have more of a cream cheese tang.

red velvet Smith Island cake

Later, after our day at the beach, we cut into the second cake, which was golden cake with chocolate frosting. That slice wowed me–the chocolate frosting was so rich andВ fudgy. Since myВ opportunitiesВ to have Smith Island cake are limited, we may get another one this weekend. We’re thinking of trying the strawberry shortcake…

original smith island cake

Off for a Chillaxin’ Weekend!

chillax

I’m super-excited to be heading to the Maryland shore this weekend. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been feeling a little fried and in need of some lazy beach time. And it’s been so freaking hot in NYC!В It’ll be a relief to cool off amid the waves. Plus, my best friend is joining us and giving me (a non-driver) a much-appreciated ride. She wants to tick off my entire Maryland bucket list, but I’m not so sure that’s going to happen in one weekend. рџ™‚

Here are some links I’m loving this week. Stay cool!

Grilled fruit cocktails? Yes, please!

The perfect summer cookout playlists

4 themed road trips from NYC

The world in superlatives

Cat nail art!

11 avocado sandwichesВ (I’ve been on an avocado kick and eating 1/day for weeks now!)

East Nashville’s food scene (I ate my way through that city on a weekend trip, a few years ago–and I can vouch for the paletas being the perfect summer treat!)

Ready for Some Relaxation (In a Few Days…)

heather and mal

I’m feeling a bit fried, so I’m looking forward to my upcoming weekend at the beach. The other day, I realized that’s probably one of the biggest reasons I love traveling, even if it’s just quick weekend trips: I can’t really unplug and relax unless I’m out of NYC.

I don’t think it’s bad to be wired that way. I actually love having my days full from the moment I wake up until my head hits the pillow at night. In the hours between, I’m generally doing things that make me happy and fulfilled: ballet; running; going to dinner, drinks or brunch with friends or family; writing this blog ;); editing photos from trips–even working, both at my full-time job and on freelance projects. (Hey, gotta make a living somehow!) But those activities (minus work) are also how I relax, even though they’re pretty active. I can’t just zone out in front of the TV. I feel like if I have free time, I should be doing one of the above activities–or mundane to-dos like grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry (the bane of my existence).

But sometimes (like now, after a hectic few weeks that included finishing some projects), I feel the need to really unwind and recharge. I’ve found that the best way to do so is by getting a change of scenery. Just being out of NYC is refreshing. When I’m on lying the beach or hiking or exploring a new city, it’s easy to shed the constraints of daily life. I’m not thinking about getting from place to place on time or adding items to my to-do list. And–probably most importantly–I’m less apt to check my phone every few minutes (when I have service, in the first place). I’m free to enjoy exactly what I’m doing, even if it’s just sitting on the sand and watching the waves.

…and after a few days of that, I’m reenergized and ready to get back to NYC.

What’s your surefire way to relax? Do you need to get out of town, too?

Travel Prints

The other day, I was going down the Etsy rabbit hole and came across these travel-themed prints from 3 Lambs Illustrations. I love the sentiment of the quotes–I’m definitely of this mindset, these days.

And, of course, I loved this one. (Non-New Yorkers, no worries–there are similar prints for London, Paris and Boston.)

Check out even more prints at 3 Lambs Graphics’ Etsy shop.

Off to the Beach!

fenwick island

I’m headed to Maryland tomorrow for another weekend at myВ summer share sister’s place. (Have to take advantage of her final weeks by the shore!) Our friend, V, is making the trip, too, and we’re thrilled that she’ll be beach bumming and crab eating with us. I’m also happy that the forecast is hot and cloudless–this week was so cold and rainy in NYC. At this point in the year, I fully expect to be wearing light dresses and sipping fruity cocktails, not schlepping around in a raincoat!

Here’s to a sunny and relaxing weekend! And to top it off, a few wanderlust links:

Gorgeous photos of Hawaii’s waves

Yum! Sandwiches from each state

What songs remind you of your travels? (One of mine is Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy”–in Spanish)

Pizza at Manco & Manco (formerly Mack & Manco) on the Jersey Shore–brings back memories of my childhood!

How are you spending this weekend?