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Summer Cocktail Recipes: “Florida Mule” and “New World Gin & Tonic”

2015-07-09_0003As you know from my latest postone of my favorite parts of visiting St. Augustine was touring the local distillery.  I mean, free booze? An excuse to buy gin and vodka? Come on.  

Then, today, I got a follow-up email, containing recipes for St. Augustine Distillery’s two signature cocktails. It felt like Christmas. Or happy hour. Whatever. Either way, it was enough justification to break out the bottles and do a little taste-testing. For you, of course.

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Road Trippin: A St. Augustine Photo Essay

2015-07-07_0001As a teacher, I plan my entire school year around holidays. Myanmar for October break, Belize for winter vacation, Bali for Chinese New Year. I can’t help it; I’m an eternal wanderlust.

However, something was different at the end of this school year. The thought of traveling exhausted me, and I wanted nothing more than to spend time with family and friends in Florida. Plus, after a year of learning the IB curriculum and navigating my way through the Chinese culture, the only plans I wanted to make involved my parents’ pool and a lounge chair.

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10 Reasons I Miss Living in Colombia

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In about five weeks, I’ll venture back to China for what will be my sixth year abroad, and my fourth country to call home. I never planned to be gone this long, but now I have no plans of returning. It’s funny how things work out.

I like my home in Shanghai, and don’t often feel homesick, but from time to time, I’ll find myself missing the States. Or Korea. Or Colombia. Home has become something of a relative concept, so it’s hard to actually be “home-sick.”

Lately though, I have been thinking a lot about my two years in Bogota, and the wonderful memories associated with Colombia. So I made a list. Here are the top 10 things I miss most about this former “home” of mine:

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The Ultimate Jet Lag Cure: Oatmeal Pancakes (with recipe)

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Day three in Florida, and still surrounded by the heavy fog of jet lag. My head aches, my eyes are straining to stay open, and I’ve been up since 4am.

It’s been awhile since I’ve experienced this sensation, as I deliberately keep my vacations within a few hours of Shanghai time. Actually, the last time I had to make this 12-hour adjustment was when I moved to Shanghai last summer. And before that, when I moved back from Korea, in 2011. There’s a reason for this.

It’s said that it takes the body about one day per time zone to get over jet lag. This means that if you traveled from, say, New York to California, it would take you as much as three days to get on California’s schedule. If you traveled from, say, China to Florida, it could take up to 12 days. Twelve days, people! Now, I only predict it will take me half of this time (fingers crossed), but regardless, it’s not fun. Luckily, I have my family, the sun, and pancakes.

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10 Things to Pack when Moving to Asia: A Woman’s Guide

Image courtesy of  The Minimal Mama 

Prom tickets are for sale, yearbooks are circling the campus, and the students have traded their long pants and tennis shoes for jean shorts and sandals. It’s officially the end of the school year, and I’m counting down the days until I board a plane to Florida.

As a longterm expat, and international school teacher, I look forward to summer for so many reasons. Obviously it’s a chance to get in some much-needed friend time, family time, and pool time, but it’s also a chance to stock up on products that are hard to find (or just ridiculously expensive) on this side of the world. Continue reading

Finding an Apartment in Shanghai: What You Need to Know

IMG_7833I’ve lived in quite a few apartments over the years–thirteen to be exact. I’ve lived in studios, junior one-bedrooms, a house, even a sorority house.  I’ve rented places in Florida, Washington, D.C., Seoul, and Bogota. So I thought finding a place in Shanghai, especially after living here for a year (in school housing) would be no different. I was wrong.

Shanghai is a bustling city, with a population of 25 million. That’s right, I said 25 million. People come here from all over the world for business, as it’s a global financial center and a major transportation hub. Needless to say, hotels are always booked, and realtors make a pretty decent living. There’s some hefty competition for apartments, though, and they go fast. I learned this the hard way. In fact, I learned a lot of things over the last few weeks–about Shanghai, the housing market, and myself. But don’t worry, I’ll save the lessons on personal growth for a phone call with my mother.

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Exploring the Night Markets with Untour Shanghai

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Whenever I travel to a non-English-speaking country, I learn several words before arriving: hello, goodbye, thank you and delicious. To me, the last is the most important.

Food tells us a story—from the way it tastes to the people who prepare it. It’s a gateway to understanding a culture and its people. And when you tell someone you enjoy their cooking? Well, you’re not only making their day, but opening a window to a whole new world.

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My Top 10 Travel Experiences

People often ask me to name my favorite country, or my favorite vacation. But I can’t. I tell them that asking me to do this is like having me choose between ice cream and chocolate. I like both. I’m going to eat both. So instead of telling you about my top travel experience, I’m going to share my top ten thus far (while enjoying a bowl of ice cream topped with chocolate sauce).

#1: Hiking the Inca Trail 

 

IMG_7381I mean really, do I need to provide a caption or explanation for why this is number one? Look at this. And the picture doesn’t even do it justice. It was four days and three nights of hiking at high altitude, sleeping in tents, and seeing world wonders. It was challenging but oh-so-rewarding. I went through a company called Enigma and would highly recommend.

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Why Teaching Shakespeare at an International School is “Punny”

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Teaching Shakespeare is never easy. But teaching Shakespeare to a classroom of mostly English Language Learners? It’s not only difficult, but hilarious.

This morning I began reading Romeo & Juliet to my ninth graders. We had already gone over the history of Shakespeare’s life, the history of Elizabethan England, and what was considered popular entertainment at the time (think bear baiting, public executions and cockfights–and yes, “cockfights” evoked some serious laughter from the 14-year-old boys in the room.) Now it was time to discuss puns.

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The Prettiest Beach I Ever Did See: Hong Island

IMG_7329Look at this place. Seriously. The white sand, the limestone cliffs, the turquoise water, the perfect mix of shade and sun.

Years ago, I interviewed a man named Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, a professor and the director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University. I was writing an article on Tampa Bay’s best beaches, and wanted to know how the man known as “Dr. Beach” chose his ten top American beaches each year. He went into specifics about beach conditions, sand softness and color, the presence of wildlife, the views, water temperature, safety. He actually had a list of 50 criterion.

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