Monday, July 27, 2015

Weekly Goals 006

Here's another installment of my weekly goals. 
A way to hold myself accountable for my goals by sharing them with you. 

Last Week's Goals:

Work on Keith's onesie. I've been unable to work on the onesie because I need my mother's help. & she's actually recovering for surgery on her eye (>.<). I've been taking care of her & the onesie is definitely not a priority. (If you could keep her in your prayers, we'd appreciate it. She is having surgery on her other eye in a couple of months.)

Work on Europe scrapbook. I think I need to somewhat accept that the photos for this scrapbook will be edited at the same time the photos will go onto this blog. 

Eat healthier. Towards the beginning of the week I was doing okay. (I still had leftover pizza from Sunday night that I had for breakfast Monday morning.) Towards the end of the week I was doing a lot better! Making sure I was drinking a lot of water, eating more produce and not eating very much junk food. 

This Week's Goals:

Cook at least 2 new recipes. Because I am vegan, I get a lot questions about what exactly I eat. I eat a lot of simple meals. Quinoa, vegetables & beans are my staples. I don't really breakout of my comfort zone and try new create new recipes. This week I want to try at least 2 of the recipes in the many cookbooks I have that I hardly use. This Pad Thai recipe looks really good, too. 

Do you have any goals for this week? I'd love to hear them! I hope you have a productive positive week!

- Christina

Friday, July 24, 2015

Tips to Find the Perfect Airbnb

A few weeks ago, my dear friend Andrea, asked me if I had any tips to navigate & I do! Airbnb is a website/app that provides listings of home, apartments (& even boats!) to use as a vacation rental. We used Airbnb for the majority of our 3 month Europe trip & it proved to be VERY easy. Sometimes we would book our accommodations with only 2 days notice (or even the same day. Mistakes happen!). That is to say Airbnb is a great resource, but you need to know how to navigate it to find the best listings. Here are my tips:

Book where the sights are. Determine what exactly you are doing while visiting a city. Is there a specific museum that you know you want to visit? Knowing the city center or where the tourist attractions are will be very helpful. Figure out what part of the city you'll be in the most. More affordable listings can be found outside of the city center, but if you have to pay for transportation daily, it can add up. (But sometimes it won't be too bad. Getting a metro card for 3 or 7 days can be affordable.) So while searching for listings, use the map feature on Airbnb. (Even consider using Google Maps "street view" so you can see the neighborhood.) Another thing to consider is finding a listing near a metro stop.

Select the days. Always filter which days you want to stay because it'll list rentals that are not available on your specific days, if you don't. It's pretty irritating to find a great listing and realize it's not even available when you need it. 

Entire place or private room.  When filtering your search you can choose to book an entire place or just a private room. Entire places are so affordable. Sometimes when booking Airbnb vs. hostels, an Airbnb listing could be the same price. So instead of sleeping on a bunk bed, we could have a whole apartment to ourselves. When we knew that we'd only be in a city for one night we'd sometimes just get a private room. Save money where you can.

Select your price range. We always tried to book accommodations that were around $100 a night. Split between 3 people, it was very affordable. So feel free to adjust the price range to what you feel is best.

Use the "More Filters" feature. Depending on what country you are going to visit, making sure having certain accommodations can be important to you. For some places having a washer (& dryer, but they weren't very common on our trip) was important. But there would be cities where we wouldn't need a washer, so it wasn't important. For us having wifi/internet was important but it's not offered on all Airbnb listings, so be sure to select exactly what you want. 

Read reviews and leave reviews. It may be a given, but read the reviews of the listings. But more importantly leave reviews! Not only is it helpful for the hosts to have reviews, but the hosts can review you as a guest. So when you book your next listing, the next host can determine if they want to accommodate you.

Make wish lists! Are there multiple listings you're interest in? You can create you own wish lists! (This feature is fun even when you're not traveling.) I typically make a wish list for a specific city.

Airbnb really does make traveling so much easier but finding the best accommodation can take some practice. Have you used Airbnb before? If you'd like to use Airbnb for your next vacation, click here to sign up for an account. If you sign up through that link, you will get a $25 credit when you book! I'll get a $25 credit, too. So it's a win win! If you could travel today, where would you go?

- Christina

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

VLOG: Madrid, Spain

Madrid! I loved you so! Unfortunately, this is my last post about Madrid. 
I hope you enjoy this little vlog & follow us along as we explore. 

- Christina

Monday, July 20, 2015

Weekly Goals 005

Here's another installment of my weekly goals. 
A way to hold myself accountable for my goals by sharing them with you. 

Last Week's Goals:

Work on Keith's onesie. You are probably tired of hearing about this onesie. Still not done. The dog beach (pictured above is Autumn) was calling my name last week. The weather was so great that the beach was always a great idea. 

Work on Europe scrapbook. Once again, the beach. >.<

Apply for more jobs. This I actually worked on. I even had an interview last week! So hopefully things continue in the right direction. Fingers crossed!   

This Week's Goals:

Work on previous not completed goals (above). 

Eat healthier. Last week was the week leading up to my birthday (it was this past Saturday), so I indulged A LOT. Exhibit A & B. I was pretty much Homer Simpson with the amount of donuts I was consuming. This week, my goals is to eat more produce and less junk!

Do you have any goals for this week? I'd love to hear them! I hope you have a productive positive week!

- Christina

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Vegan Guide to Madrid, Spain

There are a TON of vegan options in Madrid. I was so surprised and very happy with a full tummy. Most of these listings are within walking distance from the Plaza del Sol (the area in Madrid where we were staying).
Feel free to use this post as a guide for a vegan Madrid adventure. To find even more vegan options in Madrid, here are some tips!
RayƩn Vegano has my heart. I fell in love with this restaurant immediately. We went there twice for brunch. (They were open on Easter Sunday!) Isn't it the cutest? & the food? Really great. What makes me love it more is how intimate this restaurant is. The kitchen is small & you can see it from the front of house. It's like you're in someone's home with a very friendly staff that treats you like family. And all of the little details of the restaurant made me feel like home. They take pride in their baked goods so I suggest having the avocado toast. The bread is made from scratch and is extra delicious!
La Pizzateca was a pleasant surprise. I was not expecting to find a vegan option on the menu. It's a cheeseless pizza FULL of vegetables. The make the pizza whole or by the slice. They have many slice options that are available to see in the deli case. You choose your slices and they bake them while you wait. (The vegan pizza does not come by the slice, but that didn't bother me. :)) There seemed to be a decent amount of vegetarian options as well, but it's an omnivore restaurant. Also, they have a special that if you add on a beer it's only one euro. Do it! You're on vacation! ;) 
Our first night in Madrid we went to Al Natural, a vegan restaurant near the Plaza del Sol. We weren't too fond of the price point but we needed something to eat. I got vegan paella! Paella is a very popular Spanish dish comprised of rice, vegetables and some type of meat (usually seafood or chicken). So mine was just without meat. Rice and veggies sound somewhat boring but paella spice is very flavorful.  

Tierra Burrito Bar provides a simple meal. Very similar to Chipotle, you can build your own burrito. The rice and beans are vegan. These burritos are HUGE and filling so perfect for a day of exploring. (& isn't the interior very cute?)

It's always a great time when I can find a completely vegan grocery store. Planeta Vegano is the perfect spot to find some vegan goodies. Unfortunately while in Madrid, we didn't have a kitchen or fridge, so I couldn't indulge as much as I liked. But it was a perfect place to by Clif Bars in bulk, so that was helpful for the rest of the trip!  

There were many times on this trip where we needed to eat cheap. Falafel is where I turned. City Kabab had tremendous service and prices. & the food is great, too! When I ordered, I would always have to reiterate that I didn't want any "sauce" or "salsa." Typically (as a non Spanish speaker), you would equate "salsa" with the tomato sauce you'd dip your tortilla chips in but salsa actually means any type of sauce. It could be tzatziki, mustard or any type of dressing. So when ordering in Spain, say "sin salsa." "Sin" meaning without. "Without sauce."  
Viva Chapata is omnivore but vegan friendly. This was a delicious but messy pizza. I shouldn't have eaten it with my hands but it was so flavorful. See that knife on the right? I should have used it. The pizza was served with vegan cheese, so it was nice to get my cheese fix.
La Biotika serves as a market and a macrobiotic restaurant (they're located right next door!). We tried to go to the restaurant for lunch but they weren't open at the time. So check their hours! We ended up going back for dinner and had a 3 course macrobiotic meal. You can really feel the difference in your digestion when you have a macrobiotic meal. And when you're traveling, keeping your digestion on track is key.

A vegan does not go hungry in Madrid. There are SO many options. Madrid is a hidden vegan gem in Spain. What looked good to you? Feel free to click around the blog for more vegan options in Europe! (LondonDublinCardiffParisBilbao) & if you want to see what we did in Madrid (other than eat ;)) click here.

- Christina

Monday, July 13, 2015

Weekly Goals 004

As I reflect on my goals for this month, I realized I had some pretty lofty goals. (001, 002, 003) & I have only accomplished 2 out of the 5 goals. 

I still need to finish sewing Keith's onesie. I still need to print my photos from Europe & scrapbook them. I still need to find a job. 

I did read more this week. I read The Happiness Project but most of this week I've been reading Laika Magazine. Laika Magazine is an absolutely beautiful vegan lifestyle magazine. I. LOVE. IT. SO. MUCH. It has gorgeous photography and very fascinating articles. Please click over to their website to check them out. You can purchase previously published issues, which I think is cool!

So this week, I want to focus on the goals that I still haven't accomplished this month. I know it's likely that I will still not accomplish them by the end of this week, but at least I'll chip away at them. 

This Week's Goals:

Work on Keith's onesie.

Work on Europe scrapbook.

Apply for more jobs.

Do you have any goals this week? Have any goals that have been on your todo list for a long time?
I hope you have a very productive week!

- Christina

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Guide to Madrid, Spain

For a city that is so large and is the capital of Spain, Madrid has a lot of plant life. I greatly enjoyed Madrid's parks. There are many & they are huge. We started by going to the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid. Can you believe that royalty had so much land and plant life? With more than 2,000 different species of plants, there is a ton to see!
Please remember to respect the plants. ;) I'm all about respecting the plants, it just sounds funny.
My favorite spot of the botanical garden is the greenhouse full of succulents and cacti. 
Near the botanical garden, you can find the Palacio de Cristal, the Crystal Palace. This breathtaking palace is in the middle Madrid's "Central Park," Parque del Retiro
Wouldn't it be fun to have a party in there?
& in the midst of the botanical garden and one of the largest parks in Madrid, is one of Europe's most famous museum, The Prado. Give yourself a whole day for a trip to explore this grand museum of European art. Do not bring a backpack unless you want to get a locker. & get there before or when it opens! The line gets long!

We went to two more parks while in Madrid. The Temple of Debod is an Egyptian monument that was dismantled and placed in Madrid. It's free to enter and check out (& be careful! The admission times change seasonally!) It wasn't my cup of tea. But the temple is in the middle of another Madrid park. There's a lot of visual stimulation while there. You can see acrobats practicing between the trees, people playing instruments and sunbathers. We just sat in the sun and soaked up the culture. I definitely suggest it!
One more park. ;) Casa de Campo has a gigantic lake in the middle & a walking/biking trail surrounding. There are also more hiking trails surrounding the area. If you're in the mood to be at a park restaurant or paddle on a boat, those activities are available to you. This is the largest park in Madrid, so I'm sure there's more to find that I didn't see!
Madrid also offers a city bus tour that we enjoyed. You can get a 2 day ticket for only 4 additional euros. I suggest doing that, so you can use the bus to get around even if you're not touring,
The Royal Palace of Madrid.
Sammy, the laundromat dog. ;)
Sangria in the Plaza de Santa Ana. 
I absolutely love Madrid & hope to return. Have you been to Madrid? What did you do? Would you visit Madrid?

Want to more of Madrid? Feel free to read my vegan guide to Madrid or watch my Madrid vlog!

- Christina