Friday, August 30, 2013

Learning More About Myself

A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook: "23 Signs You're Secretly An Introvert". I clicked on it and read it for fun...and I was a little surprised to find that I'm secretly an introvert. I knew I had some introvert tendencies, but I didn't think most of the 23 signs would apply.

I've always considered myself an extrovert. In high school I was shy but I tried new things and loved it. In college I was always surrounded by tons of friends, I tried out new clubs, I went to parties every weekend, talking to people was no big deal, and I was always meeting new people by simply walking up and starting a conversation. If you know me in real life, you'd probably assume I'm an extrovert.

But, like I said, most of the 23 signs of being an introvert applied.

I did have my suspicions. When I didn't get a job when we moved to Italy everyone kept (and keeps) asking, "Don't you get bored?" Nope. I really don't. I enjoy it. The truth is, I enjoy the time to myself and I find things to keep myself entertained or busy. Key word being: myself. I don't find things that would entertain anyone else, just me.

After I read the article, it was a "Oh, so that's why I do that" kind of moment. Like why I hate phone calls and why I communicate best in writing and why I feel so exhausted after being active for days in a row. After learning all this, I did a Google search to see what else I could find and I came across this: "Seven Things Extroverts Should Know About Introverts (and Vice Versa)" It's perfect for understanding the opposite personality type.

I'm still a little confused though. So I guess in the end, I'm just a "vert" as Sar would say (see her take on the topic).

My deployment buddies and amazing women I think you should follow and get to know.
Mr. & Mrs. Foster Airing My Dirty Laundry

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tips for Airport Security

Airport Security Tips

I'm not trying to brag, but I'm kind of a pro at getting through security really fast. I seriously impressed a security guard at the Amsterdam airport with my efficiency. I thought the following tips were common knowledge until I traveled with Mama and Will. Those two were like helpless baby ducks, but I had them in better shape after showing them the ropes. So here are some of my tips:

1) Put your jacket/sweater in your bag while you're waiting in line. This is one of the top things that slows the line down...people who struggle to take off their jackets. They feel the pressure to hurry up and get through the process, but they choke and get tangled in their sleeves compounding the pressure to hurry up. It's a vicious cycle.

2) Watch the people ahead of you. If they're taking off their shoes, start getting yours untied or unzipped so you can kick them off and toss them in a bin. I usually wear sneakers that I can easily slip them on and off without having to reach down.

3) This kind of falls under #1, but have your belt/jewelry/metallic pieces off and stowed in your purse or bag. I just don't wear any of the stuff to avoid the hassle. To me, it feels really awkward to take a belt off in public. I know I'm not actually undressing myself, it's just a belt. But it just feels like I'm getting naked. Am I the only one who feels that way?

4) Have your baggy of liquids/creams in your hand or have the pocket of your bag that it's in unzipped so you can just pop it out and into the bin. Remember that Amsterdam guard I impressed? He was rambling through his spiel about electronics, metals, and liquids and I had everything popped off and onto the belt before he was done. By the time he got to the liquids I was brandishing it with a flourish. After shooting me a quick impressed look, he responded by offering me my bin with a sweeping gesture and a cheesy grin.

5) This isn't tried and true for all airports, but usually once the security guard at the head of the line checks your ticket and ID, you're good until you get the gate. So stash it in your pocket or purse or wherever after they mark your ticket so that your hands are free to get yourself prepped for the actual security check.

If you forget all of the above, the basic thing to remember is to utilize that time you're standing in line. Take your outer layers/belts/metals off and put them in your bag, get your shoes loosened, have your hands free and ready to go, and you'll be set for a quick check.

...unless of course you get picked for a random pat down. Those are always fun.

Do you have any tips to add to my list? I'm always looking for ways to get through those checks faster.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Forgotten Hood River Pictures

I totally forgot I had pictures on my DSLR and found shots from Hood River. What!? I had to share them. Remember I talked about windsurfers and kite boarders? I have a lot better pictures for you.

Hood River
Hood River
Hood River
Hood River
Hood River

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lake Bled

The last time I was at Lake Bled was in the fall during the off season so it was a completely new experience to visit in the summer during tourist season.

It was ridiculously hot so we spent a majority of our time lying next to the lake, running in for a dip to cool off every once in a while. We found a closed off swimming area under the castle. So perfect!

Lake Bled
Lake Bled
You can kind of see the castle peeking out above us.

After we got a nap in and had enough of the sun, we had a little snack before heading home. If you ever visit Lake Bled, you have to try their famous kremšnita. It's a delicious cream cake that was created there in Bled. I promise you won't regret it.
Lake Bled

Monday, August 26, 2013

Writing Letters

In my spare time I like to check out Facebook groups for military wives/families/girlfriends. Some of the problems they post are silly and some are serious. One of the questions a lot of the new-to-the-military ladies ask are what to write to their men. Here are my ideas:

My number one tip for writing letters is don't force it. If you sit yourself down and try to force yourself to write a letter, it will come out forced. Wait until you're feeling especially sad or are especially missing him. You know that overwhelming depressing feeling that bubbles up sometimes or that moment that sneaks in that you just miss him so much you have to lie down and have a good cry? That's the perfect time to write your letter. Release that extra emotion by writing a heartfelt message to him. It doesn't matter how mushy or cliche the words sound. I had a lot of those emotional moments right before he left and at the start of the deployment so I had quite the stack of letters ready to go.

Another idea of what to write: your plans for when he gets back. But this might be a personal preference of my husband's. He loves planning our future trips to distract himself from his current location. He also loves talking and hearing about how we'll have days of cuddling on the couch watching all the movies he missed while he was gone and the tv shows we have to catch up on. However, I know some guys hate talking about that kind of stuff because it makes the homesickness worse for them.

Sometimes I simply take a selfie with my iphone, print it out, and send it with a simple "I love and miss you" written on it.

One of the pictures I printed and sent...nothing special, just an everyday me.
I carry a ready-to-go letter in my purse at all times so that when I pass by a post office or box I can send it off. My husband loves the constant stream of letters, it makes him feel loved...and he is.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ljubljanski Grad

Anna and I were told to check out the castle at sunset if possible. So we did! We took the little tourist train to the top and just explored the castle on our own. It was huge and so much fun! The views were absolutely gorgeous.

View from the train pickup
Ljubljana City Hall
city hall
view from Ljubljana Castle
view from the top

We had a delicious gourmet dinner in the courtyard. It was surprisingly inexpensive for what the meal was. We had bought tickets for the Movies Under the Stars show at our hostel. A theater is set up in the courtyard and a different movie is screened every night. I can't even explain how pretty it was with the castle all lit up at night. They show the movies in their original language so we got to watch Argo in English with Slovenian subtitles. Unfortunately the projector conked out 2/3rd of the way through the movie. It was my first time watching it so when I got back home to Italy I immediately downloaded it off iTunes so I could see the ending. Even with the technical difficulties, it was such an awesome experience.

Ljubljana Castle
entrance to the castle
Ljubljana Castle
Ljubljana Castle
Ljubljana Castle

Three excellent blogs I think are worth reading:
the random writings of Rachel Love and the Air Force Via Fontanelle

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ljubljana Tour

As I was waiting for Anna's train to get in, look what I spotted:

bike thief

I'm sure he was sawing his own bike lock off because he lost his key...but I like to think he was a ballsy bike thief blatantly stealing a bike in broad daylight.

Anyway, so did you know most major European cities have a free tour? I had no idea! Anna and I were all over that. I highly recommend it! It was a two and a half hour walking tour and I felt thoroughly educated. I learned a lot of about Ljubljana and Slovenia in general from the tour. After the tour, we walked around and explored on our own. Every night we had some wine and dinner along the river. It was so pretty and a little romantic. We kept joking that we had to get our romantic time in before we could lock our love on the bridge.

Ljubljana Free Tour
Prešeren Square
Ljubljana Free Tour
View from the Butchers' Bridge
Ljubljana Free Tour
Ljubljana Free Tour
The Dragon Bridge, legend has it if a virgin walks across the bridge the dragons' tails will wag.
Ljubljana Free Tour
Open air food market. Chefs from local restaurants come out every week to show off their food. No local food though, they want to show off their range outside of Slovenian food.
Ljubljana Free Tour
Ljubljana Cathedral or Cathedral of Saint Nicholas
Ljubljana Free Tour
Inside Ljubljana Cathedral or Cathedral of Saint Nicholas
Ljubljana Free Tour
Shoes on a one really knows why.
Ljubljana Free Tour
Ljubljana Free Tour
Our big tour group

Ljubljana Free Tour

The Little Mermaid
Max from The Little Mermaid!!!
puppet show
Pretty music, creepy puppet thing.
wine in Ljubljana
Perfect night of wine and conversation with this pretty lady.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My First Hostel Experience

I've written about my freshmen year roommate before (see here). Our motto was "What are we going to look back and remember? Studying or having a good time?"...actually that's a  lie, our motto was "Drink til he's hot". You get the idea of what our freshmen year was like. Oh don't you worry, we kept our craziness to the weekends. We were actually pretty good students.

Anyway...Anna was on a European adventure this summer and I was able to meet up with her in Slovenia for part of it. The last time I saw her was when we were 21 so we had a lot of catching up to do. As always, we had a ridiculously good time. We stayed at Hostel Tresor. It was my first hostel experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's almost like dorm living. But I could never stay in a hostel with Will, it's just not his style.

Hostel Tresor
Hostel Tresor

We stayed in a 10-person room. Four of the bunks had their own curtained off area. I felt bad for the guys who ended up in the bunk that was out in the open. The door to our room was accessible only by key card entry, same with the front door. It was a little noisy, but that's too be expected when you share a room with 9 other people. For my first experience, I have to say I was pleased. I had no idea what to expect and I walked away thinking, "Well that was fun!"

We didn't get to talk to everyone in our room since a lot of people were only there as a resting pit stop. But we did meet an American couple the first night, a guy from Belgium (I think? I can't remember), and an American expat currently living in Germany. The front desk staff were so helpful and had all kinds of awesome information for us.

Would I stay in a hostel again? Absolutely! But like I said, it's not Will's style so I'll have to do it with a friend.

Hostel Tresor
Čopova Ulica 38
1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


I love the way my landlord says Croatia. It's sounds like crow-ah-tzee-ah. And of course roll the "r". Slovenian's pronounce it that way too. I think it sounds fancy and so much better than the way Americans say it.

ANYWAY...when my friends picked me up from the airport, they invited me to come along with them to Zagreb on the trip they had been planning. Will and I had been to Zagreb before and I really enjoyed it so I made the spontaneous decision to join them. Why not? We went with another couple, but no one made me feel awkward about it. It was such a great relaxing time and it totally distracted me from the fact that I was horribly homesick.

We stayed at Hotel Dubrovnik right next to Ban Jelačić Square. My friends all stayed on the opposite part of the hotel from me. I'm not sure if that's where the double rooms are, but I had a single overlooking the square so I scored! The hotel staff weren't very friendly or helpful, but the price was reasonable and the hotel was clean and you really couldn't beat the location.

Ban Jelačić Square

We did some sightseeing and shopping. I didn't go out, but my friends did some gambling and dancing.

Cathedral of the Assumption
The view of Cathedral of the Assumption from Old Town
(click the image to enlarge)
Ban Jelačić Square
While checking out the stalls in the square, we ran into soldiers (I think) marching out after a demonstration

While shopping, we ran across this:

streets of Zagreb

It was so random! They were under a picture and a plaque for some guy, so maybe it was a part of that...or maybe someone just left them there? I don't know. We were so intrigued by this random shovel and broom.

I didn't take very many pictures since I'd seen all the same sights before. This trip was more about spending time with my friends rather than travel and sightseeing. It was a great weekend away and a great chance to catch up with them.

A Compass Rose

Monday, August 19, 2013

Things I Didn't Do in Portland

I had a huge wishlist of things I wanted to do while I was in Portland. I added things to the list. Somethings were to redo the classics like a walk through Mt Tabor, see as many friends and family as possible, and do some hikes. I also added things that have been on my Oregon bucket list for a very long time (try a Voodoo Doughnut, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Crater Lake). You've read about all my Pacific Northwest adventures, but here's a few things that I didn't get to do:

1) Salt & Straw

I'm an ice cream fanatic. I'm a slow eater...until it comes to ice cream, frozen yogurt, or gelato. My family used to get ice cream cones all the time when I was a kid. If we didn't eat it fast enough, Mama or Daddy would help us out to "avoid drips". So when I heard about Salt & Straw and their crazy ice cream flavors, I immediately added it to the list. I was actually at their storefront on 23rd, but the line was ridiculous.

2) Portland Farmers Market

Italy's weekly markets have given me an appreciation for farmers markets. I don't usually buy anything, but I love browsing the stalls and the overall atmosphere of the square. So when I read this article and saw that Portland's market was ranked, I knew I wanted to check it out. I heard it was huge and had all kinds of awesome things for sale.

3) Oneonta Gorge

I actually did this hike when I was in middle school, but I don't really remember it. Google it or search it on Pinterest. You'll see some absolutely gorgeous pictures. They'll speak for themselves.

4) Powells

When I tell people I love reading they usually nod and say, "Me too!". To really get my point across, I have to tell them that I used to get grounded from reading when I was growing up. That's how much I love reading. Sure, I got grounded from video games and tv...but the real ball buster was when Mama took away my books. So now that you understand how much I love books, you'll understand why I dream about spending the day at the downtown Powells store. It's one of my favorite things to do, but I just didn't have the time to spend hours drooling over all the books. I did get to visit the Hawthorne store, but I was rushed and had other things to get to that day.

5) Potato Champion

As far as food carts go, Portland is like Mecca. I got to go to the Food Cart Festival and eat some amazing cart food, but I didn't get to visit my favorite cart over on 12th & Hawthorne. I loved going there after a night of bar hopping and getting a large cone of fries with their pesto mayo dipping sauce. My mouth is literally watering just thinking about it. So good! I've always wanted to try their poutine too. Someday...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Recharged and Refreshed

This trip home really reminded me of all the amazing people I have in my life. I had a different friend or family member to hang out with every single day I was home. The people I didn't get a chance to spend quality time with completely understood that I was busy.

I have so many real and true friends back home and I guess I needed the reminder that they're still there. It's hard being isolated so far away from home. Trying to keep up long distance is near impossible...especially since everyone is grown up with grown up jobs and grown up lives. But it's so good to know that time and distance won't ruin my friendships.

I got to spend a lot of time with my family this time around and it was great! I place a high value on family so I was thrilled! I wish I had more time with them, but I'm grateful for the time we had.

I also love my in-laws. They have been so supportive throughout this deployment. At least once a month they check in with me and send me encouraging messages. Especially my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and grandmother-in-law. 

I feel like I'm incredibly blessed to have all these loving people in my life. My soul feels recharged and I feel much less lonely knowing they're in my life. It's a great feeling and I hope it lasts forever. I feel strong enough to conquer the rest of this deployment.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Dalles

A very good friend of mine moved out to The Dalles after graduating from college for a great job at Google. I got to drive out to have dinner with him and hang out in his town for awhile.

I stopped off in Hood River to walk the water front park they're building. It's going to be gorgeous when it's done! It might be hard to see in the picture, but there were tons of kite boarders and windsurfers on the water. I honestly have no clue how they kept from tangling up with each other or crashing. Windsurfing looks like fun! Kite boarding...too scary. You know what totally shamed me? Every single person coming out of the water was middle aged. Every. Single. One. If a middle aged couple can be so active and athletic, so can I! I don't know how or when or where, but I'm determined to try out windsurfing someday.

Hood River

We went to Clock Tower Ales for dinner. Holy crap amazing food and delicious beer! It was a great way to catch up with an old friend. Afterward, we went up to Sorosis Park to see the view. I know it's too far out of the city for my liking, but wow it's gorgeous out there with the river right there and all the old historical buildings in town.

The Dalles

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

This is my Wordless Wednesday post courtesy of the Pearl District in downtown Portland. It amuses me.

Portland street sign

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Weekend in Seattle

I had a day to rest between my road trip and a last minute trip up to Seattle. I had bounced back and forth on the idea of driving up to see my cousin and my friends up there. I made half-baked plans to go up, but after coming home exhausted from our Mama-Daughter road trip I decided not to go.

But I couldn't NOT go. Tracy is one of my best friends and Cody was one of my closest relatives growing up. So I got a discount through USAA on a car rental and drove up. In hindsight, I'm glad I made the trip up. I would have regretted it if I didn't.

West Seattle
Tracy and Me
happy couple
The next ones down the aisle!
Seattle water taxi
View of West Seattle from the water taxi

Seattle skyline
View of downtown Seattle from the water taxi
CenturyLink Field
CenturyLink Field! Go Hawks!
gum wall
Ew! Gum wall!
Seattle Great Wheel
Relaxing in the sun near the Seattle Great Wheel

Found Love. Now What?