Spring Break 2015: Gators and Sarasota (Day 3)

Last time on Spring Break 2015, we spent a full day enjoying Key West, snorkeling, eating key lime pie and conch, and camping out on a quasi-beach before a big day on the road as we get ready to head up to Orlando with a few stops in between.

Waking up in the tent felt pretty nice as I mentally prepared myself for a long car ride ahead. In fact, I have a bit of a hard time thinking of what adventures we had on this day, as we did spend most of it in the car.

Sunrise from the camground

Sunrise from the camground

BUT we did see some gators! It was exciting! I was told that, in Florida, you would see alligators chilling everywhere and, while that wasn’t quite true, I did see a LOT of them chilling on the side of the highway as we headed off towards Sarasota to meet one of Tim’s friends. We even stopped in a few small conservation parks to get a better view of gators (whizzing past them on the highway isn’t a great way to get acquainted…) and we got to see one big ol’ guy chilling in the marshes.

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And this GIANT bug that was about the size of my hand chilling there, too

Since we arrived in Sarasota before Tim’s friend was done with working on a project, we hit up Siesta Beach for some cloudy-day splashing about. (Of course, a cloudy day didn’t stop me from laboriously slathering on my SPF 90.) Siesta Beach is a super popular beach in Sarasota and they had some of the finest sand I’ve ever seen! It was like powdered sugar. Tim loved this, to the point where he was really struggling not to start eating the sand. For me, it was fun for all of 2 seconds until I was promptly covered in sand thanks to the power of my sunscreen, and I soon realized our car would be filled with sand. But the sand was powdery, the water felt great, and we enjoyed our short beach excursion before running back to the car to avoid an incoming thunderstorm. I’m sure the beach is stunning on sunny days but we enjoyed what would be our last contact with the sea for this trip.

Some of the seagulls that were chilling by our beach towels

Some of the seagulls that were chilling by our beach towels

In Sarasota, we had dinner at a Square 1 Burgers with Tim’s friend but otherwise, Monday was a very low-key day for us. While the long drive was admittedly a bit boring (I slept through a lot of it, to be honest), it was nice to relax with my friends and just talk about life (when I was awake). After all, we had a big day ahead of us!

We spent the rest of our evening driving to Orlando, where we were going to be staying in a hotel so that we could properly rest before and after a full day at Disney World. Disney’s All-Star Music Resort was great because — as a Disney resort — there was a complimentary shuttle going to and from the parks that we could take. We filled our hotel room with our things (to be sorted and discarded for the trip home later), enjoyed the showers, beds, and AC, and kicked back to watch some TV as we prepared for a magical day.


More on the magic bands in day 4!



Disney magic rising….


A little break before I finish my spring break recaps because I have a lot of Disney stuff to go through, still, and I’m not sure how to break it down to make it more manageable. (I’ve been working through it already!) But I hope you have enjoyed the recaps so far and are ready for some Disney magic!

Here’s Tiny Hamster at Disney World to tide you over until my post is ready!

Spring Break 2015: Key West (Day 2)

Last time on Spring Break 2015, we spent a day in Fort Lauderdale and then spent 4 hours driving to Key West. Upon arrival, we had a taste of night life and curled up on a beach to recuperate before another full day of fun.

I wish I could say that I awoke peacefully to the gentle warmth and glow of the sun, peeking over the sea as I slept with the smell of salt and sea in my hair.

Sunrise on the beach

Beach sunrise…

Sunrise on the beach with waves on the rocks

Breathe in the serenity… it doesn’t last

In reality, we had barely settled into our sleeping positions on the beach and in the car when I learned something the hard way:

Key West has feral chickens. I found out when, at 3 AM, I heard a rooster crowing its lungs out. And then no fewer than 2 roosters joined that one. There was a proud rooster, with a confident crow, and a very sad rooster with a depressingly dejected one. I wish I knew why 3 AM was when they decided to start crowing, because cartoons and movies have told me that roosters crow when the sun rises. Clearly, these roosters didn’t get that memo.



I was under the impression that these roosters belonged to one of the houses nearby, but when I woke up, I saw them wandering around. A cocky rooster strutting around and still crowing, a few hens, even some chicks! I was very excited to see those adorable chicks but I do with I was less cranky at this point in time. I can sleep through almost anything. I’ve fallen asleep standing up, I routinely sleep in any and all public transportation, I have even nodded off on the stairs. But there are 2 things that will keep me from falling asleep no matter how sleepy I am and that will wake me up no matter how deeply I’m sleeping: (1) Snoring and (2) ROOSTERS CROWING. I discovered the power of the rooster crow when I was in China over a decade ago and first successfully stayed up all night thanks to the roosters next door.

Chick next to chicken

Chick + chicken = almost forgiven BUT NOT REALLY

Let’s move on from the roosters, as we kept seeing them throughout the day (they’re everywhere). Just know that every time I saw them, I tried to give them the most menacing glare I could.

I did get to enjoy a really serene ocean sunrise when I was done staring down these roosters and their families. From there, we went to breakfast at Southernmost Beach Cafe. (Since this is Key West, “southernmost” was a recurring theme in the naming of local establishments.) I filled my belly with chicken and waffles because we already had two smoked salmon omelettes at the table.

Chicken and waffles with candied pecans and cayenne maple syrup

Chicken and waffles with candied pecans and cayenne maple syrup

Eggs benedict

More eggs benny!

We had a big day ahead of us in Key West! First, we set up at a proper campsite at Boyd’s Campground, which provided a nice spot for us to rest our heads next to the water.

View from our campsite

View from our campsite

Our tent and our rental hatchback

Our tent and our rental hatchback

We walked around for a bit, getting our bearings and seeing what this town looked like in daylight. (I was so surprised by how many people were sunburned that early in the day. Did these folks not know how the sun works by now?)

A romantic and somewhat unsettling statue

A romantic and somewhat unsettling statue

Pelican? at the docks

A friend we made while walking

Our biggest adventure was: snorkeling! I’ve never been snorkeling before and I was so excited because, I mean, I’ve been obsessed with The Little Mermaid for so long and with marine life in general for so long now. The idea of us being out there, swimming with the fishies LITERALLY was so exciting to me. The weather was perfect for a day out on the sea and the Floridays crew was so nice to us! They were friendly but not too friendly because they understand you’re out here to get to know the fish, not the captain of the boat. I felt really safe and at ease, even when I started feeling nauseous and watched half of the other passengers throw up over the side of the boat. (For those interested, going snorkeling with Floridays includes beverages. I just had myself a ginger ale because of my belly, but you could have something with more of an edge to it if you wanted, as well.)

View from the boat

The only photo I have is from our boat ride out to the reef…

Being my first time snorkeling, I had a bit of trouble with the breathing. (So much for those mermaid dreams.) I got water in my goggles and in my snorkel pretty often, and at one point, I had floated to a really shallow part of the reef. I was too scared to move for fear of kicking at the coral with my flippers, but the waves were really rough in that area to the point where I was worried the water itself would slam me into the reefs. But wow was it amazing. The fish weren’t afraid of me — even though I was covered in a lot of SPF 90 — and I saw so many different kinds of fish and coral out there. It was seriously one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had an it was easily the highlight of Key West for me and one of the high points of the entire trip. I wish I had photos to share but I will seriously cherish the memory of being as close to a mermaid as I will ever be. Also, I cannot recommend snorkeling in Key West enough, especially with Floridays.

Of course, since we were in Key West, I was told by friends that it was mandatory that I get key lime pie on a stick dipped in chocolate. So I did!

The classic - key lime pie, frozen, put on a stick, dipped in chocolate

The classic – key lime pie, frozen, put on a stick, dipped in chocolate

Since we had some time before sunset, we had dinner. Kind of. First, we stopped by The Conch Shack because, when in Key West and not eating key lime pie, you gotta try some conch.  Between the 4 of us, we split a conch sampler (conch fritters, conch ceviche, cracked conch, and fries) and a seafood sampler (conch fritters, fried fish, fried shrimp, and fries). This was literally a little shack with amazing fried seafood and — the highlight of this shack — misters that would spray a fine mist of cool water on you as you walked round to the seating area. Delicious food, refreshing mist… stop by here when you want to get some conch in Key West. As it turns out, we wanted to balance out our meal more, which is why we split our orders at The Conch Shack. We stopped by Hogfish Bar & Grill for a more traditional dining experience. (We didn’t have hogfish but yo, hogfish are terrifying looking.) I wanted to balance out all that fried goodness I had earlier, so I ordered a ceviche with the waitress’s promise that it had lots of veggies. We had okay food there, but we really just wanted to wait for sunset with ice water in a cool restaurant, to be totally honest. (It was open air, so there was no AC, but being out of the sun and in front of a fan really helped.)

Sign denoting Conch Shack

Food from Conch Shack


We rounded out the evening by going to Mallory Square for the Sunset Celebration. Talented street performers come out and put on some amazing shows while vendors provide food and handmade crafts. It was super cool in that it highlighted these local talents in this beautiful place. The performers themselves! I mean they should be on America’s Got Talent, they were incredible. I wish nothing but the best for them.

Man in top hap doing a hand stand on chairs

Not pictured: the 8 (!!!) chairs that were stacked below his hands/feet

It also didn’t hurt at all that Mallory Square is gorgeous at sunset. This is definitely another must-do Key West activity.

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The evening ended with us returning to our campsite — a proper one this time! — and settling down with cold drinks in front of a small bonfire we made. The bonfire was short-lived, as the gravel that comprised the artificial “beach” we camped on had a tendency to POP. A lot. It was pretty dangerous actually, but the fire felt nice because it was that toasty, cozy, dry heat and not the gross humidity that we had been dealing with since touchdown. We all bundled up in our tent (which got a little too warm because there wasn’t much airflow through it) and had a pretty good night’s sleep.


Spring Break 2015: Fort Lauderdale (Day 1)

Yelp had their annual spring break in Fort Lauderdale this year. Even though I have gone to Yelp’s Winter Break in Atlantic City, I never really give any thought to going to Yelp’s Spring Break because they’re usually pretty far and I don’t like thinking about the travel logistics. Even when my friend Annie tried her darnedest to convince me to go along with her and our friend Tim, as they were going to make a stop at the Bahamas, I was not too keen on risking vacation days while I was interviewing for new jobs. HOWEVER, the plan then changed to include dining at Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World and I was instantly sold. Fast-forward a few weeks later, and we were ready for spring break!

After I taught Ben the virtues of rolling and making things fit into a backpack for travel, we dragged ourselves up at 4 AM on Saturday morning to fly down to Fort Lauderdale. Things went pretty smoothly with long-term parking. Ben wouldn’t let me have a doughnut because we were still trying to keep our bodies beach-ready, but hangriness aside, it was smooth sailing.

It was our first time flying with a budget airline rather than the ones we had accrued miles with, but we were really pleasantly surprised because we were fortunate enough to get front-row seats. That translate to more leg room than we’ve ever had before, which was a wonderful treat for Ben, who, at 6’3″, ALWAYS finds his legs cramped on airplanes. Towards the end of our flight, we chatted a bit with a lovely and extraordinary lady who had visited so many places and accomplished so much but spoke of her life experiences like they were so ordinary. It was kind of fascinating listening to her talk about her past adventures and her upcoming reunion with her brother, and I think that chat really got me and Ben raring to have our own adventures in Florida.

Soooooooo much leg room. Ben is 6'3" so I mean....

Soooooooo much leg room. Ben is 6’3″ so I mean….

Tim and Annie picked us up from the airport and immediately took us for brunch at The Foxy Brown, which had been recommended to them by Blue, the Yelp BPB (Broward-Palm Beach) Community Manager. (Thanks Blue!) I stuffed myself silly and made sure to get my doughnut fix alongside a s’mores waffle and a few bites of the highly touted short rib Benedict.

S'mores waffle

S’moers waffle – Belgian waffle with marshmallow fluff, Nutella, and graham cracker crumble

Doughnut holes

Doughnut holes served with a dusting of powdered sugar and cereal milk for dunking! (Which was needed because these doughnut holes were, unfortunately, quite dry.)

Short rib Benedict + side of fruit

Short rib Benedict had this great braised short rib and a KILLER chimichurri Hollandaise sauce (get more of this on the side, trust me)

After brunch, it was off to my first Yelp activity of the weekend: a tour of the Funky Buddha Brewery. (Apologies for all the lens flare in these photos; my lens was a bit on the dirty side apparently!)

"We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams"

“We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams”

Brewing tanks named "Rylee", "Miles", "Tyler"

They named the brewing equipment after their kids!

Now I’m not really a big beer fan (or a drinker at all, to be quite honest), but I really like learning about anything and everything, so learning about their brewing processes was really cool. Funky Buddha also has a lot of super interesting flavors. I tasted a PB&J that really truly had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich aftertaste, complete with that toasted bread flavor. They were very generous with the samples (a little too generous for me, personally, as I really wasn’t going to drink more than a sip of each one — more for my friends!) but I learned a lot about the brewing methods and the equipment. I even got to smell hops at different stages of brewing, which was really cool. I may not be much of a beer drinker, but I do like chemistry and I’m always excited to learn something new.

Trying out the brews

Trying out the brews

Our new Yelp friends!

Our new Yelp friends in front of the super cute and educational infographic about the brewing process!

From there, we headed to the beach because well, spring break in Florida, right? Well, technically, we made a quick dollar store/drugstore stop because we needed a few things like flip flops, glowsticks, and sunscreen. I really appreciated that all of my friends were very diligent about SPF, although they were probably more attentive because they had been sunburned already and not because they are SPF fiends like myself. The beach itself was great. The ocean water was the perfect temperature, it was a beautiful day, I was with my friends, it was a good time.

Blue skies, blue seas, sandy beaches...

It had been a really long time since I last saw the beach… and it had snowed in DC about 2 weeks before taking this photo, so you can imagine how happy I was…

Until I got stung by a jellyfish. UGH WHY. I was just splashing around happily in the ocean when I felt a burning, stinging pain on the backside of my knee. (The armpit of the knee, if you will.) (The kneepit?) Ben, bless his heart, did not think too much of my yelling because he thought I had a leg cramp. It wasn’t until I went from yellling “OW!” to “SOMETHING GOT ME” that he came over to help me back to shore while my friends kept offering to pee on my leg. (Note: This does NOT work, please DO NOT go around peeing on your friends’ legs or on strangers’ legs. This is a crazy urban legend that exists solely to test your relationship with a person after he/she pees on you, I think. Especially because it will only make the pain worse.) We were so confused looking at the sting because, if anything, it looks like someone scratched me underwater. Some of us were wondering if maybe I got grazed by a fish with sharp fins? In any case, now I have an interesting scar on my left leg and a mild fear of things getting me in the water.

Back of knee with scar

Ouch. The scar is, in fact, still there and will start stinging every few weeks or so.

Well, that cut our beach visit a little short, so we headed back to the AirBnB to shower and check out before our final Yelp activity: a pirate party on a river cruise. I put together my simple Elizabeth Swann outfit and we were out the door without too much of a problem. The real issue came with finding parking, which was dang near impossible. We were SO scared that the boat would leave without us, but there was just no parking to be found. The farther we drove, the more we worried, but we saw people in pirate garb running towards the dock. We also had an emergency where Tim needed to go to the bathroom, and the stress was not helping. We parted ways with him as we tried to find parking and he tried to find a bathroom. At long last, we found parking about a mile away and then tried to run to the boat. As you may remember, I’m awful at running, so this didn’t go over great.  Luckily, we found out mid-run that they had postponed leaving so we were able to walk the rest of the way. Phew! (Note to self: Get fit enough to be able to run a mile.)


Funky Buddha draught

Funky Buddha makes an appearance with an awesomely-shaped draught

The crew - Annie, Tim, Ben, and myself

The crew – Annie, Tim, Ben, and myself

Pirate cruise group sun

Our new friends!

Our new friends!

While the snacks and drinks on the boat were, as Tim and Annie reported, not as amazing as they were on the earlier days of Yelp’s Spring Break, we still ate a decent amount of food, got some pretty sturdy tote bags from SlickDeals, and got to see a truly amazing view from the top of the boat. On the East Coast, we don’t get to see the sun set into the ocean very often, so this was a nice little treat for us.

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At the end of the evening, while other Yelpers were heading to an afterparty, we piled back into our rental car and started a long drive towards Key West. Along the way, I swear I saw more adult video stores and strip clubs along this road/highway that we were driving along than I had seen cumulatively in my entire life. Why do you need so many of those, Florida? It just seems like there were so many that they couldn’t possibly all be doing really well financially? Are people really unwilling to drive an extra 2 miles to get to one, you have to have them so close together also? It was weird.

One of my favorite things about this drive was how clear the stars were. I’ve never seen the stars like this, because I don’t think I’ve ever been this far south, this close to the equator before, so I was able to look out closer to the horizon and see the Big Dipper, brighter than I had ever seen those stars before. I spent a good portion of that car trip with my face pressed to the window, staring up at the stars. I can’t imagine living far from a city, but seeing the stars like that made me really wonder what life would be like if I could have a view like that every day, unmarred by light pollution.

The night wasn’t over after hours of driving to Key West. The AirBnB hosts had recommended an interesting bar called Garden of Eden, which is a “clothing optional” institution. As you climb the floors of this bar, clothing gets increasingly rare. Unfortunately for my friends, I was feeling really tired and cranky at this point and didn’t want to see any butts or nipples, so I passed on paying the all-too-necessary $5 cover charge for some free dancing elsewhere. Duval Street seemed to be lined with little else than bars and more bars, with one particularly cute place called Smallest Bar that lived up to its name. It was indeed the smallest bar I had ever seen.

"Garden of Eden - Clothing Optional Bar"

Maybe one day when I’m feeling more adventurous, I’ll venture in? (Probably not though, let’s be real.)

"Smallest Bar in Key West"

It’s basically a room and at the back is a bar. It was pretty cute though.

Night life on Duval Street

A lot of partygoers were out and about on Duval Street. It was kind of a hot mess.

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The plan for the end of the evening was just to crash on the beach. I felt really weird about this, especially in my tired/cranky state, so I opted to sleep in the car. (I definitely spend a lot of time sleeping in cars anyway, so this comes second-nature to me.) I learned some tricks for doing this overnight (pro tip: open two car windows about halfway, drape a towel over the door, and shut the door so that you can still have fresh air come in through the towels but no bugs or other random things blowing in through an open window!) and slept pretty well.

Until the wild roosters of Key West started crowing at 3 AM. But we’ll get to that on day 2.

Me cheesing in front of someone's scooter because it seemed like a good idea at the time

Not pictured: The owners of the scooter who were walking up behind me

Dîner en Blanc DC 2015

Dîner en Blanc began 27 years ago in Paris, when François Pasquier held a beautiful dinner party below the Eiffel Tower with his friends, all of them donning white from head to toe. Over time, more and more people were drawn in by these picture-perfect picnics and the elegant dinner party grew and grew. Today, DEB is an international organization, with these white parties being held in nearly 100 cities worldwide.

My view of setup

Last year was the first year DEB was held in DC. I didn’t attend through a few SNAFUs with coordinating with friends, and by the end of it, I didn’t really have much interest in attending. After all, you are paying $40 for the privilege of:

  • Hauling a table and chairs to a secret location, usually via the subway (imagine how difficult this is in Manhattan…)
  • Bringing your own food
  • Trying not to soil your all-white ensemble

Struggle bus on the metro escalator… Shout out to the Eastern Market crew

For $40 a person, I reasoned, you could easily treat yourself to a nice dinner out, food and furniture included! The whole thing seemed like kind of a bougie Instagram photo op, so when the opportunity came to attend this year, I was feeling pretty meh about it.

But, when one of my old co-workers, Kat, who has been the source of so much guidance to me over the past year, offered me a free ticket (one of the perks of her being a group leader for DEB)…
… who was I to say no?

Don’t get me wrong, the attendees — myself included — are fully aware that DEB is a pretentious Instagram photoshoot. And my experience was not without struggles that included:

  • Searching several stores for a white dress – NOT off-white, NOT cream, NO colored patterns, NO colored trims
    • After about a week of finding a lot of great off-white, colored-trimmed dresses, I borrowed a white dress from a dear friend

      Fun fact: My friend had this dress custom-made, based on the dress Blake Lively wears in an episode of Gossip Girl where there was a white party?

  • Assembling and carrying furniture in 90°F+ weather (after an unseasonally cool week)
    • … while worrying about getting my friend’s lovely white dress gross and sweaty
  • Cutting myself with a broken wineglass
    • Panicking to stop the bleeding so that I wouldn’t bleed on my (or anyone else’s!) white clothing
    • In other blood-related fears, I thought my female troubles decided to choose the least opportune moment to bother me (luckily, they didn’t)

Gotta admit, it was pretty gorgeous in the evening

At the end of the day, though, it was a lot of fun because I am a big fan of people coming together with common interests and goals, even if it is wearing white and having great photos to share on social media. That feeling of camaraderie sitting on the metro, holding a dolly with a table and chairs strapped to it, wearing all-white, and looking at tens of strangers doing the same thing was pretty great. And it was really hard to deny how aesthetically pleasing it all was, truly. People put a LOT of effort into looking amazing and having gorgeous table settings. I bet they would’ve put in this effort even if there wasn’t a free cruise to be won. (Seriously, though, there were some swanky prizes!)


How about we move onto a more interesting topic: OUR MENU. Kat is vegan and keeps her diet low-GI, plus she has recently found a lot of joy in cooking her own meals, so she found some excellent food blogger recipes for us to make. My photos are all kind of crap because of weird lighting and blood loss (okay I’m just a terrible photographer, especially when I’m cranky from carrying heavy things on an empty stomach) but visit the recipe links because our food was BEAUTIFUL. I just couldn’t do it justice on my phone.

Me, being a nerd, prepping our meal

  • Appetizer: Moroccan-inspired sweet potato salad (recipe) with a baguette
  • Entrée: Kale salad w/ avocado tahini dressing (recipe) with baked potato wedges and avocado aioli (recipe)
  • Dessert: Raw citrus cream cakes (recipe) and chocolate truffles 3 ways (recipe)
    • It was, unfortunately, too dark by the time we were able to enjoy dessert so I don’t have any actually decent photos of them. BUT, I worked really hard on presentation when I made them, so please believe me when I say they looked just like the photos on the blogs. They are very aesthetically-pleasing desserts.

The evening ended with dancing and folks cleaning up their gorgeous table displays. I sat on the metro with a few other folks donned in white. It was an exhausting day, but definitely a lot of fun.


Here’s some photos from Brightest Young Things, shot by Kate Warren, of moments I wasn’t able to capture:


This guy’s amazing wings!


This “DC” marquee lettering looked gorgeous at night



And here’s a great video recap by local events extraordinaire, Max Major:

There are countless other amazing ensembles that aren’t included here, so explore around yourself and see if it’s something you’d be interested in doing in the future!

Summer 2015 Favorites

I’m trying to ease my way back into my regular schedule… or at least posting at all… it’s obviously not going great. (As per usual, my roadblock in getting Florida posts up is the photo editing/uploading. LE SIGH.)

Before I even realized what was happening, July ended, and then August skipped by? Whoa. It’s been yet another crazy summer for me, so I thought I’d share a few things that have helped me through the chaos.


I first heard about this new Netflix Original Series at the beginning of June and was instantly interested. The trailer was super cool and I was immediately drawn in by the premise of these 8 people in 8 different cities who are emotionally and mentally connected.

This is maybe my new favorite show to push other people to watch. It is really unlike most other shows that I’ve seen. First of all, the characters are incredibly interesting. They’re so different from each other and have amazing depth to each and every one. You really feel very committed and invested in all 8 of them and their individual stories. But what is even more interesting is how the show links the characters together. Two characters on opposite sides of the world may be facing completely different circumstances, but they share a core dilemma and that brings them together. The show also deals with a lot of issues that more mainstream shows shy away from. The emotional stakes are really high, and even though the overarching story of the season doesn’t really kick off until episode 9 (it’s ridiculous, I know), I promise you it’s worth that slow burn.

PLUS the show is gorgeous. The cinematography is beautiful. You have this wanderlust from visiting Berlin and Mumbai and Nairobi and Iceland and Chicago and Mexico City and more. And it’s a really cool blend of different cinematic styles. You want a Bollywood dance sequence? Done. Excessive action sequence? Okay. Buddy cop? There’s a bit of that. Comedy? EDM? Done, done. Whatever you want, this show HAS IT. God, it’s such a good show. I’m tempted every day to rewatch the season.

New Phone Apps

When I downloaded these apps at the beginning of the summer, I had planned on doing a post about them but that’s one of many drafts that I started this summer and never got out. I think it was actually meant to be one of the monthly favorites, oops. (Let me know if this is one of the posts you still want me to publish?) Essentially, I decided to shake up some of most-used apps by switching to better-looking ones that had better features.

  • Sunrise Calendar: This is a really great-looking calendar app that has great external app integration (in fact, Sunrise is what led me to get Wunderlist) and a superb Android widget
  • Wunderlist: Even though I’ve been using the same to-do website/app for over 10 years, it was time to move on to one that better suited my needs. Wunderlist has a great user interface and features that I regularly use like repeating tasks, separate reminders and due dates, and more.
  • 1Weather: In the midst of switching apps, I decided I needed a better-looking weather app also and was led to 1Weather by the folks at Lifehacker. 1Weather is simple but looks so good and tells me everything I need and more without inundating my screen with meteorological data. Icons for Sunrise Calendar, Wunderlist, and 1Weather

Ant-Man Promo

Honestly, even if you have no interest in watching Ant-Man (which I would recommend you do watch, it was a fun movie), you should just watch this trailer. It’s 15 seconds of your life that you won’t want back, featuring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas. Enjoy.

Vanilla Milk Alternatives

This seems very specific, but basically I really liked vanilla-flavored soy and almond milks, and I feel like I would probably like other vanilla-flavored products as well? (I know I’ve seen cashew and coconut milk in the same section.) I don’t like milk very much at all, but I tried some vanilla soy creamer at the beginning of the summer and really loved it with:

  1. Twinings Earl Grey decaf tea, for a London Fog-style treat in the evening
  2. Javazen Original, cold-brewed, for a delicious iced coffee

Buying a big ol’ carton just to flavor tea or iced coffee seemed a bit silly, but so did repeatedly buying the tiny cartons of creamer. So, I now have a big ol’ carton and am able to drink it straight up or use it for…

Chia Pudding

Basically, I’ve been really curious about this “super food” trend for a while now because it seemed like the gelatinous form that chia seeds take on in puddings would be yummy. I bought a bag when it was on sale and it was the perfect time to use my new milk alternatives. This is a super winner in my book as a breakfast, dessert, snack, whatever. It feels healthy, it tastes great, it keeps me filled… what’s not to love? I am still working on the right ratio of seeds to milk, but I’ve been really enjoying chia pudding the past few weeks with my vanilla milk alternatives and chocolate soy milk, which I am really happy to be able to find as a lot of stores have stopped stocking the one I always get.


The IT Crowd

This is another show that is available on Netflix. I first heard about it on Tumblr from folks who were complaining that The Big Bang Theory was actually mocking the nerds rather than celebrating them through comedy, which I really can’t disagree with. Plus, Tumblr is a huge fan of Richard Ayoade, one of the stars of the show. His character, Moss, can be likened to Sheldon on BBT, except he’s a lot more clever and a lot funnier, to me. (I love Richard Ayoade.)

Even though I started the show a long while back, it wasn’t until this summer that I finished it, laughing aloud through most of the episodes. I highly recommend this as a lighthearted comedy about the workplace and how dumb the workplace can be. You get a fun dose of British humor while you’re at it, as well. (Also, about the struggles that IT people face when people don’t have their computers plugged in.)

Game of Thrones

OKAY INTERNET, YOU WIN. I finally watched Game of Thrones. After having most of the show spoiled rotten for me, I’ve decided to get some context on events like the Red Wedding and now I have it. I think I’m more interested in reading the books now, if anything, because I’m really drawn in by the world that George R. R. Martin has created, but I also really have to commend the cast for their portrayals of these characters and the crew for literally building this world. I love fantasy as a genre and obviously GoT is a great fantasy series. I am glad that this show is no longer a blind spot when it comes to nerdy and/or television trivia. Really excited for season 6, as the show has now caught up with (and in some cases, eclipsed) the book series. No one knows what’s coming next and a lot of storylines are building up to some exciting climaxes!

And that’s just a few of the things that have been keeping me sane and generally in good spirits this summer. Sometimes the summer seems so short, but then I realize I finished Game of Thrones 2 weeks ago and finished Sense8 2 months ago and it seems like such a long time…

I’m looking forward to a lot of fall favorites to come!

What kept you happy this summer?
Have you watched any of the shows I mentioned? Or should I watch something different?

{See also: Summer 2015 Recap}