Friday Round-up!

Tackling #21 from "25 in Year 25": Create an Instagram photo display.

Tackling #21 from “25 in Year 25″: Create an Instagram photo display.

Happy Friday!

I ordered Instagram prints through Prinstagram, and I love how they turned out. As someone who is allergic to DIY projects, it’s nice to have a pretty wall display to remind me of travels!

My next big trip will be in November. Thanks to that famous Priceline glitch, my friends and I are going to Milan, Budapest, Prague, Paris, and Tokyo for two weeks. I’m most excited about Tokyo since I’m a bit of a Japanophile and haven’t been back for a few years. Cat cafes are calling.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some more photos and content about my solo trip to Europe. I’ve posted about my first impressions in Berlin, visiting Keukenhof in Amsterdam, and ending things in Prague, but there’s definitely more to come. Some upcoming posts I’d love to do: a round-up on activities and favorite eats for each country, plus a comprehensive guide to packing for Europe. If there’s anything else you’d like to see, please let me know!

Here are some interesting reads around the web: Continue reading

Friday Round-up!


Striking a tree pose on a boat last weekend

Happy Friday!

Last weekend was chaotic in all the best ways. I flew back to Texas to celebrate the marriage of two close friends in Texas. (Weddings are twice as fun when you’re friends with both the bride and groom.) We spent an afternoon on a boat, where some of us did somersaults off the deck and I pretended to do yoga even though it was too wobbly.

This weekend will hopefully be relaxing and sprinkled with fun. I think “relaxing and sprinkled with fun” is my overall motto in life. This “transitioning to full-time job” thing, complete with 7 a.m. alarms, has been brutal, so catching up on sleep sounds amazing.

Here are some interesting reads (travel and non-travel related!) around the web:

The Power of Lonely, an interesting read on the benefits of solitude. (Related: my post on When Traveling Gets Lonely)

A funny comic: All The Skills I Wish I Had (yes to elbow fighting – on airplanes!)

Did anyone else watch Homestar Runner back in the day? It’s coming back!

These mountains in China look like Mars.

I’m watching a movie tonight that took 12 years to create.

BI plug: What to do if you forget someone’s name (because I’m always guilty of this)

My coworker shared the most adorable video of a kid and his pup. I teared up.

What are your plans this weekend? Any fun reads to share?

– Valerie

25 Goals in Year 25


How do you set goals for your day? Your year? Your life?

Quarter life is fast approaching, and I’m excited, anxious, and terrified all at once. 

25 means I can’t shrug off responsibility and get away with it. 25 means I need to be a functional, fiscally responsible adult. 25 means finding work/life balance. 25 means I can’t do ridiculous dance moves in public anymore – actually, I’ll never give that up.

25 means goal setting, and when it comes to goals I live by lists because I get overwhelmed easily and need to break down bigger goals into smaller, actionable ones. For example, big goals like “be a better friend” feel overly vague, but “visiting a friend in another city” is totally doable.

I alluded to my yearly habit of setting goals for my birthday. It’s something I look forward to because it gives me context and helps me chart my progress. This is how far I’ve come, and this is where I need to go. Though my travels may seem whimsical, I am not a spontaneous person by nature. I love to plan and find spontaneity within structure.

If you’ve never compiled one of these lists, I strongly encourage you to give it a shot. Think of areas where you want to improve and come up with a few goals that will move you forward in those areas. If your sleeping habits still resemble a college student’s, why not institute a weekday curfew for this year? If you’re bad about keeping in touch with friends, why not pledge to call one person every week?

If you don’t set the goal, it won’t get done. Completing 50% of it is better than not making any progress at all. 

Mine are a mix of career/skill development (freelance for a publication), purely recreational (make kimchi!), health (meditate), and relationship-focused (plan a weekend trip with my girlfriends). Without further ado, here are my 25 goals for 25 years:

Continue reading

The Hunt is Over!


Whenever I celebrate a birthday, I craft a list of goals I want to accomplish that year based on how old I’m turning. In case you’re wondering, yearly bucket lists are the way to go – they’re doable and keep me in check. Last year, I made 24 goals for 24 years. I’m less than a month away from turning 25, so I thought it would be fun to look back and see how I did.

Some of the goals were whimsical and easy, like flying a kite for the first time and sleeping under the stars. Others I failed miserably at, like sending handwritten birthday cards. Still, I somehow managed to complete a good amount, including giving up social media for a month (note to self: do this again in the near future!) and cooking five new recipes.

But the one I secretly cared most about was #17: Find a job that I’m passionate about.  Continue reading

A New York Summer: Behind-the-Scenes

It’s been quiet on the blog so I figured I’d do a more visual post on what’s happening in my neck of the woods. The past few weeks have been jam packed with visitors, goodbye parties, apartment hunting (arguably one of the worst parts about living in NYC), and of course, the job search. New York also really comes alive in the summer, with everything from festivals, exhibits, movies in the park, and free concerts, so it’s hard to stay indoors!

Here’s a glimpse into what I’ve been doing and what’s happening around the city!

Visiting New York Botanical Garden

My boyfriend and I took his sister here after touring Columbia University, and it was a nice reprieve from the rest of the city. We had visited the Brooklyn Botanical Garden for the famous cherry blossom festival, but the New York Botanical Garden has a different vibe. It’s located in the Bronx, which is a bit of a trek for us. It’s also huge and involves a lot of walking, so be prepared for that.

($13 for grounds-only admission, $20 for all-garden pass)

New York Botanical Garden

New York Botanical Garden

Continue reading

NY Day Trip: Storm King Art Center

Storm King Art Center

Storm King Art Center

NYC has so much to offer that it’s tempting for both locals and tourists to fixate on activities within the city itself. Between Broadway shows, dozens of museums and cronuts (which I still have not tasted–I know, I know!), there’s little reason to leave Manhattan, right?

As it turns out, there are several places, in other boroughs and upstate NY, worth venturing out for. Some of my most memorable moments (like getting stuck under a tree while whitewater tubing, but that’s a story for another time) have all centered on getting out of the city and enjoying the breadth of activities New York has to offer.

On that note, I’m excited to be launching a new series on the blog called “NY Day Trip,” where I’ll highlight all the fun and quirky things you can do outside of the city.

Summer is the best season for day and weekend trips, especially for those lucky enough to have summer Fridays (when many NYC offices close early on Fridays during the summer months). It’s common for New Yorkers to flock from the sweaty, gridlocked city and escape to the mountains and beaches. Continue reading

The Hive Blog Conference & Being Your Own Advocate

A map of business cards from The Hive Blog Conference in Copenhagen

A map of business cards — bloggers are from all over!

“I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.” – Maya Angelou

You know what’s scary, besides clowns, Furbies, and that monster from Pan’s Labyrinth? Giving someone your business card and saying ever so casually, “Hey, you should check out my blog.” In the same vein, so is asking someone out on a date. Both involve putting yourself out there and suggesting that you are worthy of the other person’s time.

Vouching for yourself is not always easy or comfortable, and it comes with the risk of alienating the very people you’re trying to impress. One of the biggest takeaways from attending The Hive, a European blog conference set in Copenhagen this year, was how to strike the delicate balance between aggressive, shameless self-promotion and being your own advocate. How do you root for yourself without being The Most Annoying Person in the World?  Continue reading