Travel is our religion. We love it, it’s a precious and luxurious gift. Every journey enriches the soul, filling us with collections of beautiful stories, providing us with sense fulfilling inspiration, and enables us to become aware and appreciative of what makes us all unique and wonderfully diverse. That is why when we travel to places that have people who need help we like to give back. We try to provide others with a little something to aid in leaving a small positive footprint wherever we go, a gift of thanks in return for the gifts we are given in visiting a country. We were delighted to discover on our recent trip to Jamaica the organization Pack for a Purpose. Their mission is simple “…to positively impact communities around the world by assisting travelers who want to bring meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit”. And the action is even easier to support them, all you have to do is “use available space in your luggage to provide supplies to communities you visit”.
We packed a bunch of school supplies that we purchased at Amazon.com [pencils, wall charts, flashcards & games]. We then delivered them to the staff at Goldeneye Hotel & Resort upon our arrival. The goods were later collected by Jonathan Gosse – the Executive Director for - Oracabessa Foundation. Jonathan was so kind as to email us some pictures with where our supplies ended up, along with this note:
“Thanks for your generous donation through GoldenEye’s Pack for a Purpose programme. Just a quick note to let you know that I picked up the items and delivered them to Race Course Basic School which is about 1 mile east of GoldenEye. I’ve attached a couple photos to give you some idea where the items went. Thanks again!”
On your next trip I encourage you to do the same it is as simple as:
1. Check with Pack for a Purpose for the country you are visiting.
2. Purchase goodies that are required.
3. Pack them into your luggage.
4. Deliver them to your hotel / tour operator at your destination for delivery.
Some places you can actually go to the schools or organizations to deliver them in person. It feels good ‘giving back’.
I am currently obsessed with finding the perfect travel bag. During our trip to Hong Kong my favorite bag had a nasty run-in with a subway turnstile. That bag and I have traveled some miles together, but it is time to move on and get a new day bag, one to go with my recent issue of an American Passport after becoming a Naturalized American [Jan 28th 2014]. So here are my fave’s so far? I know some of my picks are pricey, but my last bag was with me for 10 years and served me well. I want it to be day-to-night and look ready to take me anywhere from street-food to fine dining. It needs to be able to fit: a water bottle; a camera; an emergency raincoat; a wallet; a few cosmetics & a map or compact guidebook / journal. Do you have any recommendations or suggestions?
Everything is frozen. Chicago has been transported to Chiberia today, this is the coldest weather I think I have ever experienced in my life. It is crazy at -26*C [-14*F] and then add in the windchill factor and you get -42*C [-45*F]. That is one of the lowest temperatures on record. In fact, it is so crazy cold that you can instantly turn boiling water into snow [see below].
Stay warm if you are in this ‘polar vortex‘. Biggest issue at our house whilst weathering the cold temperatures – we ran out of Letherbee Gin last night leaving us at Death’s Door! Somehow I think we will make it.
The year 2013 was an interesting year to say the least, but it was still very good to me. Here are some highlights from each month.
APRIL – I was laid-off from my ‘day-job’. Since then for $$$ I have been doing some consulting & working on a career transition. This month was a little off-color but it soon got brighter : ) A small speed-bump.
MAY – My first piece of travel writing was published in Lonny Magazine accompanied by my husbands lovely photographs. And we celebrated a milestone birthday for my Husband with a huge party at the house, with this birthday song being the highlight thanks to our friend John Kamys.
JUNE – My mum came to visit from Australia, and we did some side trips. Firstly, staying in a lake house in Michigan & then onto Kentucky, where we experienced this amazing farm dinner and made some new southern friends. It’s always great to spend time with family when they live so far away creating lasting memories.
JULY – Had a fantastic time at Art Camp – Camp Wandawega as cook for a dinner & lunch, along with creator of this project. And enjoyed a few days at Kinnikinnick Farm – glamping with our newly wed friends [they were the only wedding for 2013 - and it was a good one].
AUGUST – We enjoyed the completion of our garden created by this wonderful person, & fulfilled my addiction to five-minute pasta dishes. We also had a house filled with visitors: good friend from the UK & our nieces.
SEPTEMBER – We made a last-minute / spontaneous decision to explore Bogotá- Colombia, love the people & the food – go visit it’s fantastic.
OCTOBER – I moved my obsession with faster pasta to coddled eggs. It was a lovely month without travel, where we caught up on Spring cleaning & spending time with friends & hosting lots of dinner parties.
NOVEMBER – We took-off over Thanksgiving to explore Hong-Kong & Beijing, ticking the ‘The Great Wall of China’ off the ‘TO DO’ list. More details still to come .. it was an epic adventure.
DECEMBER – Spent a very snowy Christmas with family in Michigan with 5 holiday dinner parties. We endured an ice-storm, that left us without electricity for 2 days. Needless to say we returned very full from food & plenty of love getting a chance to catch-up with many of my Husband’s extended family.
Despite the job loss speed-bump, it really was a great year filled with family, friends & travel. I am thankful for the support of my husband during the last nine months, he has been a saint and super patient with me. Looking at 2014 there are already loads of adventures planned and new things on the horizon. I can’t wait.
We are super excited to be spending time outdoors this summer in our newly updated rooftop garden. Julie deLeon of Groundwork Design brought this beauty to life literally with her gorgeous live roof & container plantings. It started with our friend Joe Lambke, planning out the initial hardscaping, then with Jacob Shapiro & team from Sharchitecture doing the decking & wall removal. With some pinterest pieces I shared, Julie pulled it all together, throwing in a nod to our fave garden in NYC the highline. Collectively a brilliant collaboration. So who is bringing wine over? We are out-back waiting for you.
Dark Matter Coffee is a small-batch craft coffee roasters right here in our backyard [literally] in Chicago’s Ukrainian village. I was super excited to see their new packaging today – our favorite coffee just got more fabulous with a fresh new package to wrap it up in. We couldn’t be more proud to see this small business grow – they deserve it. Check out the roaster in action on Western in the ‘steam-punkesque’ express coffee-shop open during morning commuter hours, or pop around the corner [on Chicago Ave] to Star Lounge where it all started.