How to Rock Valentine’s Day

Now, V-day doesn’t have to be all about person who’s on the receiving end of your batted eyelashes. However! If you are a traditionalist/romantic a few ideas to fill your days with more kisses than usual:
Tell them you’ll cook what ever they want in the kitchen and do what ever they want in the bedroom.
Or maybe combine the two (winkity wink!)
Eagerly and uncomplainingly attend an event of your partner’s choosing.
Yes, this includes movies starring The Rock, professional sports games, sports bars, hiking trips and video game marathons in his BFF’s basement.
Get a membership/subscription to something that’s meaningful to both of you.
It could be a season pass to the roller derby or the art theater, as long as it’s something you like to do together.
 
Recreate your first date, down to your outfit and what you ordered.
Ours was a late, weeknight drink at The Turf Club followed by pie at Perkins. Que Romantico, no?
 
Get a calender made featuring photos of all the fun stuff you’ve done in the past year.
Plan an escape.
It doesn’t have to be extravagant! It could be camping in your neighborhood park and zipping your sleeping bags together. Or having a dirty weekend at a sleazy hotel with bad florescent lighting. Getting out of the house is sexy.
Write your partner a letter about the day you met them
– what the weather was like, what was going on in the rest of your life, what your first impression of them was.
 
Get something meaningful engraved into something ridiculous
– a spork, a guitar pick, their cleats, the handle of a screwdriver. You get the idea.
Make customized fortune cookies.
I’ve done this in the past by microwaving fortune cookies for 30 seconds, pulling out the factory fortune with a tweezers and then stuffing my own inside.
What will you be doing with your special someone?

The Best Date Ever

(Natalie usually blogs at the chronically adorable Pony and Pink. She’s an art student, polyvore genius and champion dress-wearer. I think she’s the girlfriend you call when you want to scour that vintage boutique, and then eat finger sandwiches and catch the Beirut show – Sarah Von)

I don’t take myself out any more. Not on dates. I forget to buy myself pink carnations. I convince myself I’m too busy to go the movies alone.

I think this happens a lot. We make excuses. We work hard all day until all we want to do of an afternoon is drink a beer and fall onto the couch. And we rely on coupledom to propel us out into the world and rescue us from this behavioural rut. Rely on the people we date to, well, take us out on dates. Provide the romance. And I think there’s something wrong with this picture.

I am, as of now, going to take myself out for dates more often. And – naturally – dress up for the occasion.

So, in case you’re in need of a little romance, here are some ideas for solitary dates … and, because I am a self-confessed style fiend, some Polyvore outfits I’d love to wear during these fabulous solo expeditions.

Justify Full

Ride a carousel (or maybe a ferris wheel?) while eating a tub of Turtle Mountain Peanut Butter Zig Zag with a glittery plastic spoon. Wear the kind of dress that flutters when you walk – but maybe wear a petticoat underneath, unless it is your most heartfelt desire to re-enact The Seven Year Itch.
Insist on drinking everything through a pink straw, and call strangers “dollface”. If sugar floats your boat, eat a stick of fairy floss (candy floss, cotton candy … you know the drill) and take photographs of yourself with a half-eaten cloud of spun sugar and some very, very sticky lips.

Drive yourself to a lookout point in your city just as it’s getting dark. Watch all of the streetlights illuminate the landscape. Wear heart-shaped glasses and buy yourself fragrant flowers before you go, so the scent wafts through the car. Think about ten things that have made you happy today, and turn up the stereo. I hope it’s playing Iggy Pop or Bow Wow Wow. Your mileage may vary.

(Though, please, sweeties, lock your car doors. Just in case.)

Ride a gleaming bicycle to your nearest, geekiest museum – say, the Butterfly and Insect Museum in Honduras. Put streamers in your bicycle handlebars before you go and whistle as you ride! Take an audio tour of the museum – and don’t forget to buy a postcard in the gift shop. Send it to someone who shares your entomological passions!

What dates do you take yourself on?

Notes from the Road: Sandboarding and Whitewater Rafting

Say, what´s that a picture of?” is what you´re probably asking yourself right now, eh? Or maybe “Is Sarah still trying to impress us with all that talk of sand boarding?” Or probably “What happened to that guest poster La Bellette Rouge? When´s she coming back?”

 

Well, I´m going to go ahead and ignore those last two questions and pretend like you´re thinking about the first, mmmmkay? That photo is us, risking our necks to slide down The Biggest Sand Dune Ever.

 

Dudes. Not one iota of exaggeration: that dune was at least 20 stories tall.

 

In the event that you were concerned, I did not, in fact, die while sand boarding. Though according to that Nervous Nelly, The Lonely Planet, I could have. Here is a video that someone with exponentially better video editing skills than I possess put together that documents the sand boarding experience. (You might want to turn your speakers down or ignore the laid back hippie music. I´m pretty sure a Mountain Dew-esque, mid-90s guitar riff would be more appropriate)

 

So how does one not die while sand boarding in Peru? I can assure you success if you follow these simple instructions:

 

  1. While the dune buggy driver is driving sideways up giant dunes, scream your head off and white knuckle it on the roll bars
  2. Upon arrival at the dunes in question, reconsider your decision but allow your pride to convince you not to be That Girl who chickens out
  3. Rub an old candle on the bottom of a homemade snowboard
  4. As per the instructors directions, lay on your stomach, grab the bindings of snowboard, push yourself up onto your elbows and lock your arms in this position to funnel as much sand as possible into your cleavage
  5. Slide down a giant sand dune, not even screaming because you are too busy trying not to die
  6. When you reach the bottom, try not to act overwhelmed and respond nonchalantly when an Aussie snowboarder asks what you secret is to get going to fast.
  7. Lather, rinse and repeat eight more times.
And, friends? I would do it again. But maybe only once more.

 

As you read this, The Mister and I are headed for some whitewater rafting and then a nine hour bus ride to Cusco, where we’ll head up the Inca Trail. Apparently, Cusco itself is at such a high altitude, one might be inclined to get altitude sickness. Which one might then treat by drinking tea made from coco leaves.
Indeed. Here’s hoping I don’t develop a nasty coco tea habit that leads to bloody noses and visions of grandeur!Got the travel bug?  Check out my ebooks and podcasts on making long-term travel a reality!  Only $15 forpetessake!

Nice work if you can get it: Museum Girl

It seems to me that Fridays are a day largely devoted to doing as little as possible and maybe hating your job a tiny bit. That co-worker who steals your Lean Cuisine? Kind of want to shank them. This ridiculously small cubical? Totally over it.
Thus, it makes perfect sense to spend a bit of your Friday reading about fantastic and envy-inducing jobs that you could pursue instead of this one with the small cubical and the annoying colleague. This will be a weekly series, and I promise you some doozies. Opera singer! Handbag designer! Sled dog veterinarian!So without further ado, the first in our series: Nia M. – Museum Girl.


I met Nia when she was a wee fourteen years old, the younger sister of a friend of mine. She turned out to be significantly cooler than said friend and we spent much of high school engaging in shenanigans, deep in the woods of Palisade, Minnesota. These days, Nia rides her bike everywhere (even in the snow!), knows about everything that’s cool three weeks before you do and hangs out with bearded hotties.

So what’s the deal? What do you do?

I work at the Natural History Museum. I make science programs for the public and help to design exhibits.
Tell us about an average day in life of your job.
The average day: sit at the computer, email scientists, read some things about science, write event copy, talk to my colleagues about random things, drink coffee, sit around a big table “brainstorming” about…science.
How did you get into museum work?
Kind of by accident. I wrote a paper about habitat dioramas (those old school natural history museum displays) for a class I was taking on science and the humanities. In the course of my research I met the curator of the Bell Museum, and got interested in museum history and display techniques. After that I elbowed my way in as an unpaid intern, and eventually they offered me a job.
Do you have any special museum -related training?
Not really. That’s the thing about museums – there really isn’t an option for formal training, unless you want to be a curator. I studied comparative literature and the history of science, which I guess is good preparation for thinking about museum content and how to engage visitors.
Are there any drawbacks to working in at a museum?
I’ll never be a millionaire.
What are the highlights?
It’s a creative job, and it allows me to make use of my brain and my communications skills on a daily basis. Plus it’s fun to see your ideas come to life and to know that people appreciate what you do – and hopefully, they learn something too.
What are the misconceptions about this kind of work?
That museums are full of stuffy academics. There are a few stuffy academics, but its mostly alcoholic academics and misplaced artists.
What suggestions would you give to people interested in working in museums?
You have to be willing to work hard and contribute your creative energies without any real individual recognition, but as long as you’re okay with that, it’s a really fun job. It helps to have a genuine interest in the public good, whatever that might mean to you. And you have to like working with other people – it’s definitely not a good job for people who tend to work best on their own.

Any Museum lovers out there? Any queries for the lovely Nia?

How To Be The Best Thrifter Ever: Home Edition

How to find the best furniture and home goods in thrift stores

Sooo, you’re totally kicking ass with your super cute, unique, wicked cheap wardrobe purchased exclusively from the retailers of Goodwill and Salvation Army, right? Right. Now, how’s a girl going to work that thrifting magic on her home?

  • Know how to make simple repairs to furniture.
    This means that you can buy things that a lot of other people will pass up. Tighten the screws, reupholster the seats, repaint it, remove smudges or paint splatters, cover chips in wood, remove labels/stickers … it’s all pretty easy and you’ll feel wicked accomplished and smug when everyone coos over your $3 coffee table.
  • Keep a list of the measurements of the space you’re trying to fill.
    I don’t know about you, but I’m not great at remembering how big the space between my stove and counter is. $20 later I’ve just bought a table that’s 4 inches too wide. Lame.
  • Similarly, know what your car can hold.
    Or the number of a friend with a pickup truck. It’s a total downer to buy something at a yard sale only to discover you can’t close the trunk.
  • Repurpose!
    Because it bears repeating. A beautiful but rickety dining chair can become a bedside table, lovely old books can go on your wall, those sweet blue mason jars can hold your wooden spoons and that incomplete set of billiard balls would look great in a decorative bowl on your coffee table.
  • If you’re looking for even lower prices (and more adventure) try curb-surfing.
    Drive past apartment buildings at the end of the month, around college dorms as the school year ends or on large-item trash pick up day. You’ll have to be a bit more careful here – you don’t want to pick up anything infested with fleas/mold/yuckies … but you can’t beat a price of zero!
My most recently thrifted home scores include a 1950’s nine drawer dresser with starburst handles ($16!) and a giant Lucite clam shell for $3. What’s your best catch?