Category Archives: My Favs

Inspired by Instagram

Sunset on Baltimore - travel musings inspired by instagramInto the life of even the most afflicted travel junkie a little stuck-at-home time must come. To envy the people out there who’ve taken the plunge into a location-independent lifestyle is only natural.  In real life though, not many of us -especially we of the parenting variety– are able to do more that wax philosophical about living the wanderer’s life.  While we wait for our open ended ticket around the globe it’s fun to get inspired by Instagram. 

The first stop on any of my daydreaming junkets always begins with Skimbaco, both the account curated by founder and CEO Katja Presnal,  and the hashtag. Each Thursday afternoon I add #IGTravelThursday into mix along with a good cup of coffee {life is far too short for crappy coffee!} and my laptop. No matter where I am that day I can “travel” the globe, if only through WiFi.  Frankly, if I didn’t schedule this time I might never do anything but surf Instagram for travel inspiration.  Heck, the two hashtags alone have over 58,000 amazing photos of places I long to be.

Come “travel” with me through the lenses and adventures of some of the Instagram accounts that inspire me most.

@Pointsandtravel

Cacinda has an eye for capturing points of view that most might miss. I love traveling the world through her eyes. I imagine festooned members of gilded age aristocracy descending this winding staircase in Latvia. 

@elenasonnino

Elena travels with a passion for life that translates into every picture she posts. She truly lives life to the fullest and her Instagram stories welcome you to do the same. She’s currently readying herself to climb a volcano in Chile and I can’t wait to follow along!  

@cherylhowardblog

Cheryl is a Canadian expat living in Berlin who captures images with what is clearly a wandering spirit. This photo taken in Prague looks to me like F. Scott Fitzgerald should be driving Zelda around in that car.

 

Featuring #Prague on my Instagram account this week. Photo 1 – tourists being driven around in a classic car.

A photo posted by Cheryl Howard (@cherylhowardblog) on

@houseofanais

Reeta Laaksonen is one of my favorites! If ever I feel in need of a holiday in the English countryside, I stop by her Instagram page. Beyond the gardens and brick facades though, she takes you on picturesque journeys around Europe.   

 

Yet another glorious Autumn day in England 💗 A photo posted by Reeta Laaksonen (@houseofanais) on

@todestinationunknown

If ever I had an adventuring alter ego it would be Satu Vänskä-Westgarth. Camping on the snow back in Greenland? Yes, she’s done that!  Is it any wonder she’s an award winning blogger? Nope

 

It’s been busy days at the office at @50degreesnorth lately. Greetings from Greenland! #50degreesnorth

A photo posted by Satu Vänskä-Westgarth (@todestinationunknown) on

@whatboundries

What boundaries, indeed. Cheryl and Lisa have brought me face-to-face with lions, taken me to amazing libraries {my favorite places in all the world}, made me drool over amazing food, and best of all brought me back to one of my favorite cities in the world… New Orleans!

 

There’s just something special about #NewOrleans 🎷 A photo posted by What Boundaries (@whatboundaries) on

@acorkforkpassport

If ever an Instagram handle said it all, A Cork, Fork, Passport certainly does. What I love most about Julie’s grams is that they really convey the person behind the account. She jumps into life, tastes it, drinks it in, and explores in a way that is approachable and engaging.  From her photos alone it’s easy to tell that this is a person you’d love to travel with!

 

Come travel with us, get inspired by Instagram and dig deeper into the stories behind the “grams” from writers who are sharing their #IGTravelThursday stories.

California Dreamin’ – #IGTravelThursday

California is home, or was. Somehow after over a decade living on the East Coast, I still consider myself a Californian.  It isn’t that I don’t love where I live now, but more that California is a part of me.

That said, I don’t often find myself back home. When I do, I drink it, breath it, take it into me like I might never get back again. Whether it’s toes in the sand on my favorite beach, watching the sun rise out of the desert dunes, or losing myself in the forest, California always sparks the best day dreams – and some of the best Instagram travel stories too.

 

A photo posted by Lara D (@dipaolamomma) on

Nothing beats a California Sunset.  


On horseback, one of my favorite ways to explore anywhere!

 

A photo posted by Lara D (@dipaolamomma) on

And of course, what is better than a California wine to end any day? Doesn’t matter where you are!

 

A photo posted by Lara D (@dipaolamomma) on

The great thing about an Instagram Travel story, is it  stays with you no matter where you are – or how cold it is there!

 

I’ll just pretend I’m back here and ignore the snow outside. #sandiego A photo posted by Lara D (@dipaolamomma) on

Finding travel daydreams on Instagram is one of my favorite things to do. Reeta from House of Anais has taken me all over, from Finland to Slovenia, through lush green fields in England. And that’s just in her post for this week! 

Do you have a great Instagram travel story to share, or want to find more? Join the monthly Instagram travel-related linky hosted by Skimbaco Lifestyle, and click through all the Insta-Travel-Awesome below.

 


Baltimore Comic-Con: Where Real Nerds Keep Artists in the Spotlight

Baltimore Comic Con

Sure,  you know who Stan Lee is. You watch the Big Bang Theory (almost as religiously as I do) and can spot Stan’s cameo in every incarnation of a Marvel hero movie to hit the silver screen. Maybe you even know who Matt Murdock is.

If you also happen to know who Bill Everett was, then you’d have felt right at home at Baltimore Comic-Con.

Baltimore Comic-Con honors the heart of the comic book culture in a way that seems to be fading under the glare of the lights and mainstream media coverage at the larger “cons.” Which made it the perfect first con for our kids. 

Watching my nine year old in the ballroom of the Baltimore Convention Center as he sat mesmerized, listening to Joel Hodgson recount the materials he used to build Tom Servo (a Leggs egg and a gumball machine, by the way) was priceless. The kid loves MST3K. Um, who doesn’t?

 Upon walking into the lobby and seeing a group of cosplayers dressed in awesome Attack on Titan garb, my fifteen year old daughter squealed, “Yes! My people!Dr. Who Comic illustrator Kelly Yates Baltimore Comic ConTotal win.

For this parent of daughters, the prodigious amount of Girl Power on display at this convention was reason enough to go back next year. From a fierce female Thor and her pal Miss America, to Marguerite Bennett, author of several story-lines in the DC Universe including: Batgirl, Lobo and Lois Lane, to the budding talent of Kate Allen who creates, writes and illustrates her own comics and graphic novels, the level of estrogen-laden awesome was immense and powerful.

Of course there were the typical conference staples: baubles, gadgets, gear, merch, on-site appraisals, and a phenomenal cosplay costume contest. Truly something for everyone – even things you never knew you wanted, but suddenly had to have!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for an event where I can cozy up to Patrick Stewart (make it so – yes, please) or Benedict CumberDragon, but the community that begot huge conventions of Nerdom – like International Comic-Con San Diego (which was still relatively easy to get tickets to when I went back in back in ’94) – began at the roots.  With the art, the artists, the storytellers.

The expo hall was packed with artists from nearly every fandom you can name. Daughters one and two are major Whovians. You think you know Dr. Who…?  Not like they do! Getting to meet and enjoy a photo op with Kelley Yates was an epic moment.  Taking home one of his Dr. Who illustrations –signed– was their own personal nirvana. Maryland’s own Frank Cho (Mighty Avengers, Hulk – Marvel Comics) did an unbelievable demo in which he created a veritable masterpiece for the live audience.  Seeing the passion in the artists and getting a glimpse of how they bring a world to life illuminated my children with the reality of possibility…and that was the meat of the experience.  The rest was great, but garnish.

Meeting illustrators and creators of original graphic novels, artists who’ve expanded universes that began decades ago…to me, THIS is the living, breathing heart of any Comic-Con. Keep the marquee names on the red carpet, let Bruckheimer promote his next movie on the talk-show circuit. Keep the “cons” about the artists, the creative cosplay of die hard fans, the amazing and world-changing creativity of the true nerds. 

My advice?  Plan your trip.  Start designing your costume.  Save your pennies for must have merch, sure…but know who created the fantasy world you like to visit.  Follow the artists, and make a point to see them in action, in the flesh.  Next year – go to Baltimore Comic-Con!

Baltimore Comic Con Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom 

Authors: Lara DiPaola and Jamie Ratner

 

 

Diagon Alley!

It is no secret that I am a 40-something mud blood still waiting for my letter from Hogwarts. I remain convinced that a wolf ate the owl that was headed to my house, letter in beak. Further proving that I am no muggle, Universal Studios has finally announced the opening date for the NEW Diagon Alley at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter… July 8th, 2014

My Birthday!!!!

 

harry

How To Make Sangria

Ahhhh, Sangria! Few things say “Summer” to me like the harmonious marriage of fresh fruit and wine that make up the base of a sublime Sangria. One sip of a really good one and I’m back on the veranda of my flat in sunny Spain.

In the three years I spent living in a small, coastal town in southern Spain, I sampled many a Sangria. My extensive “research” led me to uncover the secret to making it. Grab something to write with and prepare for greatness.

The secret to making a sublime Spanish Sangria….

Keep it simple.

Down the street from my flat in Spain, there was a small Bodega, earthen floors and terracotta walls lined with huge oak barrels. Some held the region’s signature Porto Sherry, others “Vino”. In the summer months local Fishermen would gather at the end of their day as the proprietor cut up whatever fruit he had on hand, mixed it with the vino and poured it out into glasses of all sorts.  The cost, about twenty cents a glass. The conversations, priceless.

You see Sangria is anything but pretentious. You don’t need measuring instruments, formulas or a guide of any kind. All you need is; fruit, wine and good company.

Notice I didn’t say “good wine”. I’ll admit that I can be a bit of a wine snob. You’ll never catch me drinking wine that comes in a box. Until recently I’d even turn my nose up at a bottle with no cork. Family tradition isn’t the only reason we make our own wine. Making it, can be far more cost effective than buying wine I’d approve of. Unless we’re talking Sangria. I have only one rule for wine that makes it into my Sangria. It has to be drinkable.

For this post I picked up one of our favorite easy-to-drink wines; Carménère by GatoNegro of San Pedro Chile.

GatoNegroNotice that price tag? It’s rather like hitting the lotto. This wine is FAR better than the price would suggest. Wine Enthusiast even agrees with me on this one.

Next, choose your fruit. When I say “your” that is exactly what I mean. Choose in-season fruits you like. For this recipe I used strawberries, blueberries, grapes and apples. Let your taste be your guide.

Sangria with fruitChop your fruit up into bite-sized pieces. Some people like to macerate (the technical for this would be smooshing-up) their fruits. I do that with the grapes and blueberries so that they release their juices.

Cut sangria fruitThere are two camps when it comes to Sangria. Fizz and No Fizz. Some take this debate rather seriously. I, being the peacemaker that I am, make my Sangria both ways. If you’re a No Fizz-er, simply add your wine at this point and let it groove with the fruit for an hour or so in the fridge. If you’re game for giving Fizz ago, I have a “secret ingredient” that is sure to make your Sangria the star of the party.

Soda sangriaThis stuff is bottled BLISS! My family call it “Kid Sangria”. You can find it in the Hispanic isle of almost any grocery. I found this at Sprawl-Mart (aka, Walmart). Basically, it’s a carbonated, non-alcoholic Sangria soda. I add it to red and white Sangria’s alike, right before I serve.

Glass of sangria

My recipe for the above:

Spanish Sangria

1 medium green apple

1 cup white grapes

1 cup quartered strawberries

1/2 cup blueberries

1 bottle GatoNegro Carménère wine

1 single serve bottles of Sangria Señorial

Cut and macerate fruits. Place into a pitcher, add wine. Chill. Gently stir in Sangria Señorial just before serving. Serve over ice.

Here are some other great Sangria options from around the web (courtesy of my Pinterest board “Bar Wonderful‘)

White Peach Sangria

Apple Cider Sangria

Tropical Sangria (a non-traditional Sangria that includes rum… yum!)