Saturday, May 12, 2018

Review: Abbey Court Hostel, Dublin

When booking my trip back to Dublin I decided that I did not want to stay in a hotel if I could help it. So when I went back, I looked into hostels to keep it budget friendly, but researched those hostels closely. So when I booked at Abbey Court it was not taken lightly or whimsically. Abbey Court has been chosen one of the top places to stay in Europe for years, so that's a good sign.

This hostel was worth it! I paid extra to get a women's only room with 6 beds instead of 15-20 beds, which I would always recommend. It was only about $9 more per night but it felt safer and quieter, and that's worth more.

The Hostel: The wall art out and inside is amazing. I searched the Abbey Court Hostel hashtag on Insta before booking, as well as a few others, just to see what it looked like. Abbey Court looked so beautiful and the umbrella ceiling was worth the stay. The views are colorful and make every step fun. The staff is kind, helpful and know how to help you in, from what I heard, at least 5 different languages. Upon walking in I was welcomed by every employee at the counter and even one from behind the doorway, which was nice, and got to check my bag in early (for a 3Euro fee). Breakfast was good and I liked that the kitchen area was open to guests all day to make and eat their own food. All of the employees were encouraging and tried to include their guests in all of the happenings. We did the Backpacker Bar Crawl (a post for another day) on the recommendation of one of the staff and had a blast and nobody fussed about us (quietly) getting back after 3am. Freedom!
Our door!
The Room: When I got to my room I was hoping that I would get a bottom bunk (nope). The beds were what you would expect- bunk beds that don't feel properly attached to the wall with mattresses made of fluff and something harder like fresh sawdust that were only about two inches thick but with a soft pillow to match. Every time I got on the ladder to the bed I felt like the whole thing was going to fall over. And getting down was tough because the ladder was so slim that you couldn't fit both legs at the same time while sitting on the bed to move down facing forward. No room. Sorry for the impending doom, Ellie!
The blanket was really warm, though, which was nice because it got really chilly out. Ear plugs don't seem to do much good- the walls are cardboard thin and every door slams. Every. Single. Door. It's all you hear, it seems. Plus, not the hostel's fault, but rude ass people WILL take their very loud and very personal cell phone conversations into the hallway on speakerphone at all hours of the night. Pro Tip- be prepared for that racket.
Best idea I could think up at 1am after 46 straight hours awake and still too noisy to sleep- Abbey Court, put some foam or something between the door and the lip of the frame to absorb some of that slamming. Good lord, so much slamming.
But it was really awesome to have extra showers and toilets on our floor- it's never a just in case time for extra stalls with 6 or more to a room, there's always a need!

The Area: What a great location! Seriously, you can hardly ask for a better spot on the River Liffey. It's closer to the O'Connell Bridge but sits between that and the Ha'Penny. The good thing about it is how close it is to Temple Bar area, which means markets and donut shops as well as bus stops and walking tours. The bad is that it's close to Temple Bar- which means drunks at 1am whistling for no reason over and over again, people breaking bottles and shouting. But hey, if you don't factor that into your decision while picking a hostel then that's your bad. I expected that- except for the whistle guy. Screw that guy.

Great people. The best possible location. Clean rooms. Not only would I recommend staying in a Hostel instead of a Hotel whilst in Dublin, I would recommend this specific spot with Abbey Court. I absolutely will be booking here again on my next return to my favorite city and I already am looking forward to whomever I will meet next.


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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Dublin- my heart is full.

Made some good friends in Dublin, the kind you can only find as a solo traveler!
I'll update more when I'm home but for now here is one of my favorite spots. 

Ha'Penny Bridge over the River Liffey. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Budget Friendly Packing Process

Hallo, Alles!

So, it may seem weird to you, but before I head off on a trip, if even just for a few days, I start packing well ahead of time! Like, WEEKS! Mentally I prepare what to pack long before I physically move anything. I love packing. I mean it! I. LOVE. PACKING!
I love this bag. I got it for free on Amazon as a product tester!

I look up packing tips all the time to see if any new Pinterest style ideas come up. Not really. It's just packing, after all. There are only so many ways to fold, roll or shove clothes into a bag.

For my upcoming trip to Europe I did it all on the cheap- discount flights, no extra baggage to incur any extra fees, no carry-on. It's just me and my backpack, almost already perfectly ready to go. So I have to be sure to pack well enough so that I don't feel like I'm missing anything when I get there, and need to remind myself that some things, if I need them, can be purchased there like extra socks or ear plugs.

I'm only going to Europe for a few days- 7 in total but the whole first day will be various states of traveling, and it's all budget friendly stuff or staying with friends- which is even better! (If only I could real quick make some trusting Dubliner friends for next time! Hit me up, Dubliners!)

A lot of the time when I said I was doing everything budget friendly to others I had to explain that it means more than just airfare. To some it just means tickets; to me it means tickets, bags, rooms, food, excursions, everything! So, in an effort to try to inspire small weekenders or budget friendly trips this summer I am putting to list my ideas to help rationalize your trip planning to save a few bucks!

1. Plan your packing! I used to be a chronic over packer- like what if we go to to a fancy dinner? What if the Queen comes to town? What if I meet the Pope? None of that happens. I rarely go out to a fancy dinner at my own home- why would I be nervous about packing for it in a new place? I would also over pack so far ahead of time that I wouldn't have clothes to wear to work and I would have to UNpack things just to get through the week(s) leading up to vacation!  Rationalize ahead of time what you can live with and without so then when you set out to pack it's easy and efficient.

2. Find a sturdy bag or suitcase. It sounds silly, like, no duh, BUT accidents happen. Rips happen. Overweight bags happen! You do NOT want to get caught up at the airport with a heavy bag and have to pay to check it because the price triples! Same goes for personal items- make sure it fits the qualifications set the the airport before packing so that there are no surprises. Qualifiers are on all of your airline website's FAQ. Spending an extra $100 of your hard saved cash before you even leave for vacation is a big bummer. And you HAVE to do it; otherwise you can throw it away or not go on your trip. Your choice. Plan ahead.

3. Pick your schedule. Do you know that you want to visit a specific place or two, or more? Check out my post about City Pass for an idea. For this trip I knew I wanted to revisit Guinness Storehouse and hit up a few places I didn't have time to see last time I was in Dublin, so I bought a 2-day City Pass Dublin card again, which though not to terribly cheap, at about $45 a day it's still better priced than if I were to pay out of pocket for each destination, plus free bus tickets and discounts. I'm digressing. Plan your trip out, if even loosely. If you know, like me, that you want to visit a place, check into it. Make sure it's open, that it's affordable, kid friendly, what have you. You owe it to yourself to do a few minutes of research so that day of you're not wandering around aimlessly because you planned to spend all day at a location that is not even open during your trip. Prepare a backup plan, as well, in case of closures, weather, tantrums- you get it.

4. Finally Packing! It's funny, when packing I always plan and plan and somehow think it will still take all day, so I set hours aside to do it- nope. It takes about ten minutes. Kind of a let down, that. I typically start with the most important stuff, if even to just toss it in the bag before I fully pack so that I don't forget it- like my passport, money, phone chargers (I need THREE different plugs this time! Three!) I also plan ahead for my toiletry bag- grab my SteriPod cover for my toothbrush (a Target find), band aids, some makeup, washcloth, baby wipes, aspirin- things I know I would use but won't want to buy while there because chances are I will need or want them before I remember to buy.
It's all there- jeans, 3 tees, 3 tanks, undies, socks, Polaroid camera, passport, money, toiletries, electronics and not pictured are treats for my Dutch Sister from another Mister

Note: Cutting out over packing is when you really get to know yourself, if you don't already. I'm going away for 7 days but I know myself well enough to know that even if I packed a pair of pants for every day, or a special outfit for every day, that I would just wear the same two pairs of pants- so I'm only packing one pair of pants (and wearing the other). I don't need 4 pairs of shoes or dresses for every whim (like I have at home). I have a few shirts and tanks, always extra socks and undies, PJ pants and that's about it. I'm much more into not paying for a carry-on suitcase than I'm into being a fashionista on this trip. Bare minimum. Less is less- less to pay for, less to carry, less weight on your back, less to clean up after, less chance of leaving something behind forever.

5. Double Checking Everything. Check in to your flights when applicable. Make sure your ride to the airport is still on board. Grab your book/gum/candy/snacks. Portable phone charger. Make sure that you either have access to your email for flight reservations or, like me, a folder in your phone's  photo album of screencaps of ALL of your trip information in case you need to present it at a moment's notice. After countless viewings of Friends, I refuse to be Rachel Green here, forgetting my passport and telling the lady at the ticket counter that it's on my nightstand at home then having to race home to get it. It's the first thing I pack and I keep it in an accessible (by me) pocket for easy grabbing until I pass security.

6. MOST IMPORTANTLY! Kiss the cats goodbye for an absurdly extended period of time to make up for time away. They love it.
Not pictured: Dave

So, that's that. Just a few tips on helping avoid over packing and baggage fees. Plus, this way there's no waiting around at the luggage carousal for sometimes two hours (it happened to me) waiting for your luggage to drop! I don't now about you, but until I actually see my bag rolling past I am in a state of panic that it's lost. No matter what. And, for some reason, it's always one of the LAST to fall! Once it was the very last bag and I was about ready to have a fit! So, it's really refreshing to avoid that.
Honestly, it's a liiiiiittle jam packed and could do with some repositioning.

Do you have any other tips? Let me know- I'm always down for learning something new!

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Reward Apps- Worth it? Yes! And not really...: Job Spotter and Frequent Flyer

Hey, all!

Money Making. I know everyone says they have an app for that. Remember that commercial? Travel savings/rewards and money back are on tons of apps. Be mindful that some say they pay in gift cards, some in air miles- seems really cool and all that but it's not always as described! Read below to check out my thoughts on a couple "money" style apps designed for travelers or just movers and shakers.

Job Spotter

So, while perusing one of those Penny Hoarder posts that are basically all surveys and shopping receipt apps, I stumbled upon Job Spotter.  It's powered by Indeed for job hunters and people hiring.
Looks like this. 

It's really easy to use and pays out in Amazon gift card codes*. I have had this app for years and love it. It's not a get rich quick kind of thing, just more of an if you're already out thing. It needs to be on a Smart Phone of some sort with location tracking on and a camera. That's all.
*NOTE: The app works internationally BUT I do NOT know if Amazon works internationally.

What you do:
Download the smartphone app- obviously.
When you see a Now Hiring sign at a business, ANY business, you take a photo of the sign up close and then a photo of the business name (be it on the door, a sign, an awning, etc) and submit. It takes literally seconds per. The big box stores and national chains like CVS or Burger King and places that say apply online are not worth much- each point in JS is worth one penny and those chains can be as low as 5 points- BUT the points go up to 150 per post on small businesses like local markets or antique shops or something. It all adds up.

Plus as an added incentive to the app, you can also verify other people's shots to see that yes, this IS a hiring sign and it is indeed at [Given store name]! Or sometimes it's not. You do have to be paying attention to these because it has a trust rating for you and the lower your rating, the lower points you get per pair. Each set goes up to 100% and is worth 10 points (so a 5 star trust rating is 5% per pair verified), but for each location YOU shoot, no matter what it's worth, you get a slew of verifications to tend to. So even if you only get 5 points on a photo you snapped you can still earn another 20 or 30 cents from the pile of verifications you get for taking that photo in the first place. It's like a reward incentive- the more you post, the more you get to verify. I didn't discover this part of the app until much later- like a year ago, honestly- but I tell you, it works!
I cashed out at Thanksgiving time and paid for half of my Christmas list. Then I cashed out NYE to have a zero balance for 2018. $35 free dollars in a month just from taking a few photos.

Though this app is FAR from a scam, people leave bad reviews because it doesn't "pay enough"! Those people are idiots. Not sorry. You get what you put in, like in most things, and if you are one of those people that need to be told to get off the couch and go outside then this app probably won't do it for you. I am out and about a lot, sometimes even just taking walks and will see a hiring sign. Or I take a walk around the mall just to see who's hiring. Around Christmas it's a gold mine! It also lets you retake photos after a few weeks. So if you know the Mexican place around the corner is ALWAYS hiring with their handwritten sign on the door, go ahead and snap it every couple of weeks. If it's anything like the one near me then the people that were hired a few weeks ago are already gone so it still helps. It runs through and will update itself accordingly. Literally-all you do is go for a walk and snap, snap, send. Cash Out. I choose to leave my rewards for an extended period of time, not cash out every week like some whiner did online then complained about only getting $2. But you do you, boo boo!

I usually get my reward emailed to me same or next day as I hit the redeem button. I don't think I've ever waited for more than a full 24 hours.

This app is a MUST if you wander around a lot or don't live in a farm town. Or even if you do! It's easy, potentially helps others and pays in legit Amazon codes. I use it as often as I can.

The Good: Easy money!
The Bad: Your husband or friends will pretend not to be annoyed that you stop at every other store at the mall to take photos. But hey, money is money!

Frequent Flyer

So, a long, long time ago (May 2016) on some sort of money saving post ad I saw an app presentation for the Frequent Flyer Travel Reward App. The app goal says you can collect free travel, collect air miles and more. Well, I have this app pinned in my back screen so that it tracks me as it says it's supposed to. It does track- and it doesn't. Every day or two it offers a survey that asks where  you were at this time and so on, and you just respond by tapping your responses. Most of the time it's counting when you're stopped at a red light and asks you if you visited such and such place at the corner of where the red light was. Or it's three blocks from where you actually were. So it's not TOO terribly intelligent for being programmed to track locations.

However, It has been a long time with this app and I have yet to receive the reward of my choice. The prizes open at sweepstakes entries that I'm not convinced anyone actually wins (200 points), all the way to my goal, a $25 Airbnb/hotel gift card (25,000 points). I had one accidental sweepstakes entry and one on purpose but in the rest of the time since 2016 I have yet to achieve anything- and that's AFTER visiting 6 new countries and various US road trips. I'm at 23,500 points and will hang on until I can reach 25,000 and claim my reward. Then it's gone. My phone says it drains the battery an extra 2%, so, bye Felicia!?
The Good: It promises rewards.
The Bad: It's been almost two years with it pinned to my background and still nothing. It's literally just a drain on my battery at this point.

Update 4/9/18: In the month that this post has been awaiting an update (of points and rewards) I have reached the goal of 25,000 points and am currently cashing in- I sent in my request for a $25 Marriott gift card code so that when Husband and I go on our road trip this summer we can save a few bucks on a hotel one night. A lot of work, it seems, just to save $25 on one night of hotel service, but, every little bit helps! That's pretty good savings.

Second Update 4/19/18: Still waiting. Usually when things say two weeks like this- where it's just delivering a code to your email- it takes a day or two. I've checked my spam and everything. I guess they actually mean two weeks worth of business days.

Neither of these apps will lead to many riches. But especially if you use Amazon a lot and can ship things directly to your brother's house in Florida for your nieces, at least ONE of these apps is worth it. Personally speaking.

What apps do you use to save a few bucks or earn a few back into your life? Tell me below! And let me know if you download either of these apps! I'm the only one I know who uses either besides talking my sister-in-law into getting it when we went to the mall over summer.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Travel App Reviews: Still Searching for that plane ticket deal?

Cause I sure am!
This is what true love looks like.

As I had mentioned back here, I am looking for a one-way ticket to Providence, Rhode Island, so that I can catch my Norwegian flight to Dublin. I was hoping to score some last minute deals but now it's 28 days away and I'm starting to get panicky because I'm not good at last minute stuff unless it's local or part of my job. I tend to be more prepared around this time! So even though the rest of my European trip is ready to go, I'm still not at my flight to leave America yet, so to speak!

Turns out TF Green (PVD) is not a huge airport and not all flights go there. It's seemingly a specialized airport and I'm kicking myself that I booked my Dublin flight leaving from here without knowing PVD's circumstances and knowing how flights are harder to come by at a decent price. (It's important to note that Boston, Chicago and New York were all excluded from going to Dublin on Norwegian) I figured a one-way flight wouldn't be too hard to come by, and it's not, it's just that unless I want to arrive at 7am for a 9pm flight to Dublin OR catch a flight that lands as my other ride is taking off then I need to keep shopping and expect to spend around $100- which is only a few dollars LESS than my flight to Dublin in the first place, which is annoying and anti-thrifty.

Again, alas. I have cleared my cookies and cache and am ready to research!

So, in order to run through all of these apps I download that all insist they're the ONLY place for go for the BEST cheap flights... I will be searching this specific flight from Detroit to Providence for one adult passenger on May 1 (one-way) and see how many of them are the same or better or worse. I know a started a short list a while ago but I want to expand and see what's better for me so that if you're looking up these apps, you can see what sounds best for you, too.
Since so many claim to be the best, let's give 'er a looksie:

Spirit: Doesn't fly to this airport. Sucky.
CheapOAir: Lowest cost $114.30 on American. Not so cheapo here but is usually ok.
NavigatoFly: $87 on American
Flight Search: $87 on American -pretty much exact same app as Navi only it's orange instead of blue. Uninstalling. 
Fareboom: Turns out the App is for car rentals only despite having an airplane as their logo. Unless you've already booked? Confusing but only showed me cars just now. Uninstalling. Checking their website: it's garbage. Just another site that pops up 45 different low fare windows. Waste of time.
SkyScanner: $88 cheapest BUT lands at 11:54 pm. Rats. Next cheapest if $95 but arrives 8 hours ahead of my flight and I can't possibly sit in one place for 8 hours just to get on a plane and sit in one place for another 8 hours.
Fareness: $95- cheapest price for the month. Not the best app, but they provide a calendar of rates.
Kiwi: $90.39 but leaves at 6:05AM. Shortest flight, though. For $96.58 I can cut that time in half still with a direct flight, if only my outbound to Dublin were at 2am next day... Seems better for hotel deals than flights.
Hopper: $100 Still my fave though. Just not here.
Jetradar: $88 on American and not stupidly early morning! One I can actually use!
Momondo: $95- same as everyone else. Seems better for international flights but I'm still not impressed with anything it shows me even in my pretend vacations. I don't understand why people love it.  It's the same as everything else, just with a better marketing team. Uninstalling.
LastMinuteFlights: $87. Not bad but for an app that claims it is the ONLY go-to for last minute flight deals it's running all of the same flights as everyone else. So this app is full of lies? I tried moving up the date to April 11th (at random) JUST to see if the actual more last minute idea is legit since a month out isn't last minute.  Nope, prices are $40 higher. I bet they're just banking on that last minute panic for most of their sales. Uninstalling.
CheapFlightsTickets: Nope. Seems to only be Europe to Asia type of flights. Detroit exists on their menu but I couldn't even pull up Boston. Uninstalling.
CheapTickets: The app just takes you to their website. Then the site tells you to download the app. $102 cheapest and not in a timely manner. Uninstalling.
EasyJet: Nope, not American. We don't exist here. Uninstalling after I play a minute longer. (IE doesn't even exist on the app, just Belfast UK)
Hipmunk: They won't let me create a google account without access to my Google Wallet. They want you to use it with your GW and pay for everything that way but even though my GW isn't even hooked up to anything or used, I don't need an app having any sort of access to my money or information like THAT. Uninstalling!! And SCARY!* Cute logo though. 
Jetcost: $46 if I go to Boston on Spirit but same old $88+ for PVD. I may keep this app. Even though it gave me the same results, I got them at least 50% faster than most of the others above.
Secret Travel: Not a flight deal app, per se. It's more of a deal package app, which is ok for later.
SkipLagged: $87

I have been thinking just fly to Boston and take a bus or train or whatever RomeToRio has to offer or something and using my Spirit miles could save time and money. I guess another set of research is due for Boston?
Boston as low as $48. I could take the train for $13 at 3:30pm and arrive well ahead of schedule for my outbound flight and the train drops me off right at the airport?? Well, shit. At least I worked through the apps I don't like. I think I freed up half of my phone storage!

Still so much to do for my flight over, but at least we ran through some of these "best apps ever for flight deals". The best ones I looked at today: Jetcost, Jetradar.

*You should never have to allow any wallet access to an app that you're not comfortable with, nor should they ask for it just to get started. I'm sure should you choose to use it it would be easy, but if you're not even interested in with Hipmunk has to offer- guess what, you already gave them FULL ACCESS to your Gogle Wallet and all subseqent banking information. So now that's out there in a way that seems less trustworthy than the apps you choose to use like Amazon. If you want to attach your GW or any credit cards to something it should be YOUR choice, not the app's. They're asking far too much and it's a big red flag.
I left a review of the app on their DL page and they responded to it saying that they don't ask for that information at all EVER and told me to email them why I think that they do. It was pretty condescending sounding, honestly. So I edited my review and gave explicit details of how I tried to create an account and was denied my account opening because I refused to allow permission to access my GW. No account was made. 
Does this not look like they're asking for permission to use my Google Wallet to you??

Are there apps that I missed? Websites that are better? Any tips? leave it all in my comments!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Whaley House- Haunted or Nah?

According to Wiki, "The Whaley House is an 1857 Greek Revival style residence, a California Historical Landmark, and museum located in Old Town, San Diego, California. In the 1960s, the Whaley House was designated as an official haunted house by the United States Commerce Department."

I call malarkey. Or at least a notion that maybe it USED to be haunted, but too much goings on has happened and the spirits left to finally be in peace. I imagine even ghost mothers don't want to hear your screaming and unattended children who leave sticky jam hand print all over their ancient walls when they are rumored to have their own ghost baby to take care of (RIP Thomas). I visited this house for the first time in April of 2004 with my Winterguard team during our trip to Winterguard Internationals ( WGI Hollaaaa) and it was more that we were talking about hauntings and looking for ghosts than actually feeling haunted or alert to our surroundings. In 2005 TIME magazine labeled the Whaley House as the most haunted house in America, even besting the Amityville house, the Whitney Detroit and the Sallie House which have all been proven multiple times. Me thinks TIME was promoting a business and a museum over actual proof. In 2014 I visited Ole Whaley again.

As an avid ghost hunter with an actual documentary short about Historic Fort Wayne Detroit with Metro Paranormal, I can tell you that the gut feelings you have in one place that's, to a sensitive person like me, proven itself to be with spirit like that- the Whaley House feels just like plain old house.  
I love all theatres. The older the better!

But this house is DOOOOPE! If you go thinking it's a cool museum with a fun and also horrid graveyard backstory of suicide and shame, it's really cool (and sad). As a historical landmark this house has seen it all. It was home to the Whaley family, of course, the Whaley General Store, a commercial theatre and a courthouse. The family lived there, then didn't, then did, then left, then came back, all lived in it together, preserved it as a museum and stayed a family home until 1953 when the last remaining family member, Corrinne Lillian, died. 

It opens with a pre-room leading into the courthouse. It's small but so interesting. Imagine having a courthouse in your home! So weird. The theatre was really cool, imagine all of the people who came there, too! In your house! As a theatre major, I was into it! However, as much as you'd like to think all old theatre spaces are haunted ala The Phantom- they're not. At least not in the afternoon time. What you think is a moving curtain from on stage is really just an air duct pushing out cool air. That's the only motion you'll be likely to see there. Sorry. Spoiler Alert? My favorite room besides the children's room with creepy dolls and fancy clothes about was the family sitting room. Here you see some of the art collection, the family piano and credenza for what looked to be their correspondence desk. It was difficult to get any good bedroom or kitchen photos due to the plastic walls and the amount of sunlight bouncing, but perhaps a third visit may be in order. It's all really neat to marvel at. The craftsmanship alone! I have shirts that I have owned for a year that have already fallen apart and these clothes are over a century old and still exist! The dolls and toys may not be as functional as they used to be but they're still there! (IS a doll functional??) Time has aged them but not destroyed. Things used to be made better...
I'm told it can still play.

The photos I did manage to take make it look almost normal, but to me there is almost nothing normal about a dolly that has been sitting on the same bed for 70 years or more with plastic windows surrounding it. However, it was all really cool. It's a glimpse into a different time, a different world. The admission is cheap at just $8 with Military, Child and Senior discounts available. It's also available on the list of locations for the Go! San Diego CityPass card mentioned in my previous post here.

If you're interested, you can check out their Website to plan a trip or just investigate for yourself from afar. It's fun to give yourself the chills, so why not stop here if you're in the San Diego area? It's definitely worth seeing for yourself. 

My verdict: Not haunted, just an old tale to get people in. But maybe my two times there were slow haunting days and the spirits just had things to do otherwise. Maybe they're like Hogwarts portraits, dipping into various spots around the grounds. Either way, it's a fun visit. 
If you say you're scared of ghosts and haunted houses then this is your perfect destination. If haunted at all I will say it's lightly ghosted, so you can still say you were in a haunted house but you are HIGHLY unlikely going to catch any cold spots or see any figures. 

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you toured the Whaley House and have a differing experience? Let me know below!

Be kind, everyone!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Craft Worthy of Travelers

Hi friends!

In my last post about crafting souvenirs I had mentioned that I wanted to try the map idea for photographs. And so I have. I've always been crazy about maps in school, I loved map days where I could just see what was close to which location and pretend I was actually leaving for something worthwhile. It's not nerdy. Maps are cool. And at least with this map it shows where I've been as well as where I have yet to go. So, it's hopeful!

This project got me thinking about a few things. It got me thinking about how much fun it would be for family photos and something to do with the kids (and how I wish I could find my family photos from my youth), and it got me thinking about my boss, who RVs all over the US with his wife and three boys. They probably have way more photos to cut into state shapes than I do. Hi, Yum Fam! You should do this project with the kiddos since you can fill more than a tri-state area to start. Plus, it makes a physical reminder- yes, we saw Charleston and here's a photo, but now we can remember which state it's in, kids.

What you'll need:

  • Maps
  • Scissors
  • Regular tape
  • Glue or double stick tape
  • Photographs or something alike for memory making

Well, I got pretty excited about this craft, which is sad considering I've only really been to about 7 states and have photos to show for it! (still on the fence- DO airports count? What if you purchased something whilst in one and paid their state sales tax? Yes? No? I never know. Alas...) I ordered two US maps from Ebay for $5 each- one for cutting each state out of and one for, well, mapping, and they're a little larger than I thought they'd be. Let's just say Texas is most of my face. Non-affiliated Amazon link above.

Finally a real use for a fancy box- of which I have many!

I had a lot of fun (psyche!) cutting out each state as best as I could. My scissor skills aside, though, I'm pumped to begin! I ordered a few prints from Shutterfly and off I went. Eventually. It's kind of a slow process if you need to wait for things like the US post office and actually traveling to other states to take photos in.....

Wedding Day in Detroit

It's easier to buy two maps than trying to trace each state shape in a shadow like I saw someone else try to do. Who has a projector to trace with anyhow? And why? Then I taped each state over the photos like so and got back to cutting. Some are much more difficult than others but I'm not too worried about every line being perfect. Your choice.
Pro Tip: Also I saw someone try to cut their map shapes out but then piece it together like a puzzle without a second map. Seems less fun and more work because with this map I can decorate the water or Canada or add more things or even just safely roll it up like a poster if I need to move it.

Some states!

Getting it on the wall was fun. Come to find out, our new house's walls are thinly plastered and we have a few cracks already, but for some reason, putting four thumbtacks into the library wall was NOT easy- get a stud finder, too, if you go the tack route! Chris and I needed a hammer because the thin ass wall was bending the cheap ass tacks! So I'm not sure if it was us over-exhausted or the dollar store products, but either way, four corners took seven tacks! But we got there! Perseverance, y'all! 

It really is the easiest thing if you have the space for it. Once that was hung I started to put up my states. I opted for double stick tape because it's easier and because I already had some. Some people enjoy waiting for glue to dry, but I'm not one of them. For a craft that will take me years to decades to complete I am incredibly impatient about it. 

Still waiting on a fiend to send over a WI photo but I've been there, too! Twice!

Once I get the rest of my library in order with the new book shelf I plan on spending time actually decorating the outside of the map so that it doesn't look so 3rd grade classroom. I'm not positive how yet, but it will get done. I can't decide between just fun stickers and color blocks to fill the space or adding more pictures and usable souvenirs like map pieces and looted goods. Or all of it. What do you think you would do to yours?

I haven't been to a lot of states, mostly just the same few on repeat- but that's what happens when your brother moves to Florida and your favorite band only comes as close as Chicago! I have a stop in Rhode Island before I head to Ireland in May and a trip already booked for a weekend in DC directly after that, so, those teeny tiny places will make it look .05% more filled in. 

I think this is a great craft idea for families on the go. I bet my neighbors would have done it when they used to pack up their gray minivan and head to cool places as a family if they'd thought of it (M-m-m-mammoth Cavesssss). Eric LOVED his maps and roadtrips. I hope to take in some weird views around towns like the biggest ball of yarn tour, a house of cheese, the Devil's Tree or haunted graveyards and use those photos to help tell the tales. World's best pie, mystery spots, things like that, too. America!

I'll definitely have to go to a few places again- Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee, because I don't have photos from my stops there. I look forward to that! Until then, this is my sad map. It's a cool idea and it will only get cooler the more I add to it, I think! 

Here's to crafting with your memories to make them last forever! Be kind to one another.

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