The Flower Fields // Carlsbad, CA

The Flower Fields have been blooming for over sixty years! They display a wide array of colors and beauty season after season: definitely worth a day trip.

“In joy or sadness flowers are our constant friends” -Okakura Kakuzo

IMG_1536 IMG_1605 IMG_1614 IMG_1613You can’t help but feel uplifted by all these vibrant colors

IMG_1603 IMG_1609Admission into the field is $12, but it is only open a couple weeks a a time in order to grow the new seasonal flowers.

My friends and I made a little day trip in Carlsbad: driving along to coast, eating some bomb fish tacos in the cute beach town 🙂

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Not much to say because I think the pictures speak for themselves ! nothing but California loving

My Trip To // Hong Kong and Zhongshan, China {part 1}

In spring of 2012, I raised funds to go on a 10 day mission trip to China with my high school.  China holds a special place in my heart, and I cherish this trip very much because I think it kind of pushed me in the right direction for my life path.

Our trip began in the city of Hong Kong where we walked some parts of the Victoria Peak trailIMG_0210 IMG_0212and Wong Tai Sin Temple

IMG_0187 IMG_0193I remember it was a cloudy, and chilly day. But I felt as if I were lifted into the clouds in such a tall city.

Then we ventured into the countryside, near the city of Zhongshan.  During these two days, we biked for miles through the country, stopping by local villages to converse with the people, with the help of our translators.  I remember how quickly me and my translator became friends, and how difficult it was to say goodbye.  This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget.  We got to see parts of China some people never will…China is SO green!

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nonstop rain the first day, which resulted in a obscure haze, but beautiful nonetheless.

We celebrated Easter in a small church in the country where my best friend and I (tried to) lead Sunday school worship for the children.

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fresh tofu

During this time we also visited a couple high schools, and ate the spinny table eight course meal almost every single day (dinner and lunch many of the times!) i remember I refused to eat Chinese food for about sixth months after this trip.  It was an interesting perspective to take on the East.

Next time: Beijing, The Great Wall, and Tiananmen Square!

 

How to Stay Fit on a Cruise (or any vacation)

Travel exhilarates the soul.  Being a stranger in a new place, we grasp towards our instinctive senses: the sights, the sounds, the smells, and the tastes.

“Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you what you are” -Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarian, 1825

Food feeds the soul.  One the best, and maybe one of the most important ways to learn about a culture is through their food; it tells everything about a culture’s identity, lifestyle, their community, and traditions.  And on a cruise (or any vacation for that matter) food is everywhere, and all the time.  9/10x guaranteed to be good, or great, or even fantastic-coming from either the 5-star dining on the ship, or the true Baklava from the stop in Greece.

With so much indulgence, it isn’t uncommon (in fact, probably more common than not) to come home with a little extra tummy peeking out of our favorite jeans.  Every cruise I’ve been on someone come back and complains about the 5, 10, even 15 pounds gained.  I have taught myself to stick to a couple guidelines to keep in shape while being able to enjoy myself-easy and effortless ways to stay fit on a cruise:

1. Take the Stairs

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Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

You’re probably thinking, “Effortless? What?”. I promise you, taking the stairs is a whole lot faster, easier, and definitely healthier than waiting for the elevator.  On every cruise I’ve been on, the elevator is a painstaking and awkward process; so many people trying to fit in such a small space that normally ends up stopping at every. single. floor.  A mere 3 could take up to 10 minutes verses maybe 1.5 min it will take to climb them.  It’s an mindless way to walk off the extra couple bites of cake, and when you do it constantly (which you will) every day, it could save you those 2-3lbs.

2. Abandon All Comfort

street food in Pamplona, Spain

Normally on the ship, they will offer dishes that are custom to the place they are docked, and also offer foods that custom to the guests…aka basic stuff you can get at home: french toast, chocolate chip cookie, pizza etc.  While it’ll probably be “gourmet” chocolate chip cookies, don’t waste your calories on the comfort dishes.  Expand you palate and take advantage of the local foods in port; it would be a sin not to!  Ice cream on the ship or real gelato in Venice?

3. Eat More Dessert

macaroons from a farmer's market in Nice, France

macaroons from a farmer’s market in Nice, France

I have a major sweet tooth; I would probably choose chocolate over dinner.  That being said, I tend to eat less of the main course, saving come calories, so I can splurge a little on dessert!

4. Excursions and Activities!

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walking though Venice, Italy

All cruises offer excursions in port, and many/most include some physical activity: biking through vineyards, swimming to the mud baths, or hiking the volcanos in Greece, walking through to sightsee in Florence, or running the trails in Barcelona.  While on the ship, take advantage of the free gym, the track, the pool, some even have ice rinks!  It isn’t hard to be active while having fun.

5. Family Dinners are Still Important

Beach picnic in Zakynthos, Greece

Beach picnic in Zakynthos, Greece

Many cultures eat family style: ordering multiple dishes to share among all of them.  Whether it is your actual family or not, eating family style allows you to try a taste of a variety of different dishes.  You’re not restricted to just one, nor obligated to finish the entire thing-and get to spend quality time with the people around you.

6. Do What You Want

Somewhere Deep in the Med

Didn’t make the daily run this morning? No big. Ultimately, it is your vacation; your time to take a load off and detach from the normal routine.  Listen to your body! Relax by the pool when you want to rest, take a walk around the top of the ship when the sun is setting, and stop eating when you are full.

Cruises are an amazing way to see the world, and wherever you go-let yourself be all there.  Live, Learn, Love Travel !

Much love,

Maddi

Beauty of the Florida Keys and Everglades

This past February I got to spend five days in the Florida Keys with my AP Bio class.  I was completely struck aback by how beautiful it is!

IMG_9866IMG_0075Possibly some of the best sunsets I have ever seen

IMG_9982 IMG_9983 IMG_9966 IMG_9961 IMG_9996We submerged ourselves into the wildlife, and found many unique creatures.

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A Cassiopeia, a jellyfish that lives in the hammocks of the Keys

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Mollusk

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The skin that was shed from a horseshoe crab

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these little crabs were my favorite

The pollution caused by humans left noticeable impact all over the once colorful corals of the Keys.  I was disappointed, and truly heartbroken to see the lifeless, muddy colors; there was still some life, but all stripped of their vibrance.

Because of this, I have tried to make it a point to be more eco-friendly, and conscious in caring for this wonderful earth we call home.  She is one of a kind literally, and it is truly our job to preserve her beauty and fruitfulness.

I was joyed to see The Everglades full of life!  Probably my favorite part of the trip, it is truly a wonder that I think is worth going out to see!  People mistake the everglades for a stagnant swamp, but in reality, it is a flowing ebb of all various kinds of life.

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The Everglades have also faced ecological stress, at one point almost losing all of the water supply.  Since then, people have worked together to reverse the damage, and preserve the beauty here.

The Florida Keys may be a little underrated; truly a gift of Mother Nature! If anything, the earth is something to be nurtured and respect, not stripped barren.  Be kind to your home, and live a life conscious of your actions on those around you.

Much love,

Maddi

Paleo Breakfast in less than 30 minutes

This morning I did a solid workout, and my mom and I prepared a super easy, Paleo breakfast. Inspired by Pinterest, did not turn out as picture perfect, but was yummy nonetheless.

Egg baked in half an avocado, and broiled grapefruit!

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For the Avocado Egg:

cut ripe avocados in half, and simply crack open an egg where the seed goes. I take out half of the yolk, and put in as much of the white as possible. Bake at 425° F for 20 minutes; we put ours in our little toaster oven.

For the Grapefruit:

Cut grapefruits in half, then we sliced around the edges and criss crossed to make it easier to spoon out later. Then smother about half a tablespoon of honey, sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Broil them for 5 minutes.

Quick, easy, and yummy!

Have a good Sunday 🙂

Maddi

San Francisco: Tourists and Transportation

San Francisco is my favorite major city in the U.S.  A wave of nostalgia hits me when I look back on my short weekend trip; it was my second time there, and I fell more in love with SF as I did the first time I came.  My mom and I went to tour University of San Francisco, and made a mini vacation out of it.  With the “madeline needs to learn how to be an adult” set in mind, my parents thought it would be good to learn what it would be like if I lived there this coming fall.  So, we determined that we would use taxis as little, if not at all as possible, and utilize the public transportation system.  Being able to travel around different countries, it didn’t seem that difficult of a task at first…yet I was quite mistaken.

Public transportation systems are great: cheap and get you where you need to go.  Not the cleanest, no, but logical especially if you’re a local in a city where cars are a bit of a nuisance, like SF.  Most are very reliable, yet, you can never really know what will happen, and when you have limited amount of time, a glitch in the system can upset someone’s day-my day.

The first night was easy. Once we landed, we swiped a round trip way ticket for the BART from SF airport to Union Square. The ride was about 25 minutes, and with waiting time maybe 30-40 total.  One of my favorite moments was actually coming up the stairs from the BART, mini roller suitcase in hand, and appearing right in the middle of Union Square.  The grand shopping mall, the lights at night, the people, I felt like a girl in a movie.  Actaully, the BART wasn’t difficult, but my sense of direction was.  Out hotel was just about an 8 minute walk up the street, yet we somehow ended up going up and around in a circle for 15 minutes until we found it.

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We did take a taxi to go to Ghiradelli’s…the chocolate was a first priority for me and my mom. We bought 3, 5lb bags of chocolate, and then some.

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The next day we toured SF ❤

good morning

good morning

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inside St. Ignatius

inside St. Ignatius

such a beautiful campus!

and then problems came. Doing what ever tourist wants, we wanted to take the bus from USF to Golden Gate Park.  My mom studied the buses and lines the night before, we went to Walgreens and bought the day pass for the bus ahead of time, we were set.   The bus took us about 15 minutes of the way, until it suddenly kicked everyone off right in front of the city capitol.  We, and hundreds of others, were unaware the Pro-Life annual protest and march would stop the whole city (this is not meant to be a political statement of my views whatsoever).  All the buses went out of service, and most of the streets around the city capitol were blocked off.

city capitol in middle of Pro-Choice protest

city capitol in middle of Pro-Choice protest

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My mom and i walked for a long long number of blocks (got some cool street pics), and ended up waiting for two hours for a taxi.  Traffic was stop-and-go everywhere, people were upset, I was a upset.  This tourist just wanted to see the bridge, which I did! and it was all worth it in the end…but ah. Looking back, it is pretty funny; for a local this was just as infuriating, but for a tourist like me it was kind of nerve-racking not knowing where we were or when/how we would get out/what direction to go.  Basically, it just reminded me how important it is to be prepared when traveling, and accept the fact that things many not always go as planned esp. with public transportation of any kind.

Needless to say, we took taxis for the rest of the trip. I still got to do everything i wanted, and all in all the trip was wonderful. ❤

ultimate tourist spots

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Pier 39 JUST for bread bowls & food

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passed by in a taxi ;)

from safe in a taxi 😉

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Union Square Mall-one of the most amazing places to shop I’ve ever been to in my life

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typical tourist pic

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For our last dinner in the city we went to a local Chinese Restaurant called R&D with it’s signature salted crab. SO GOOD. Recommended!

Touristing in SF is so fun, hopefully one day I can call this city my home.

be authentic & seek adventure

maddi