Take Me With You…

#thismomentisyours

Okay, it’s probably not reasonable to take me with you on your next adventure, but, now with the help of GPS-Guided travel articles you can almost take me with you, and that’s the next best thing, right?! Wondering how to make this possible? Read on…

#hilarystyle
I’m ready, lets go!

I recently discovered a new app, GPSmyCITY, that ties in beautifully with the reason I started this blog in the first place, my love of travel and the desire to share what I love with others. The GPSmyCity app provides offline access to travel related articles from 750 cities around the world, some of which were written by yours truly!

#swanstairs
My most recent Los Angeles discovery: The hidden staircases of Silver Lake

Like many people who travel, I do a lot of research before I go, the problem is gaining access to that research once I’m at my destination. The reality is that wifi isn’t always available, which means I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to pull up that great article, blog post, or map, when I need it most. However, even if I could, there’s the high cost of international data to consider. This is where the GPSmyCITY app comes in handy!

What is a GPS-guided travel article?

A GPS-Guided travel article is exactly what it sounds like: An article with GPS coordinates embedded directly into the text. The best part is that once you’ve downloaded the article you won’t need access to the internet to use it!  Download all the articles you’re interested in free of charge. Once you’ve decided on the article(s) that best work for your destination, you have the option to upgrade for a small fee f $1.99*, which will activate the GPS coordinates within the article along with an offline map.

#gpsmycityhilarystyle

Say goodbye to dragging along those heavy guide books, besides, they only offer information about the most well known spots anyway. When you bring along a GPSmyCity article, you’ll have everything you need to find all those hidden travel gems (for example, those hidden stairway walks in Los Angeles) right on your smart phone. Bonus: You’ve saved money and your aching back. How great is that!

Ready to try it Out?

Here are two easy ways you can access GPS-guided travel articles:

  • click on a link below for the article you are interested in (if you haven’t already downloaded the free GPSmyCity app, you will see a prompt to do so). After downloading the app, you will be directed to the article, where you can choose UPGRADE to get the GPS-guided version.
  • From the GPSmyCity app, you can browse by city to see which articles are available.

You can download any article for free or upgrade for offline GPS-guided use.

I’m really excited about the ability to share my articles with you in this new way, and hope you love it too. To introduce you to this new idea, I’m able to offer three of my articles free of charge for the first week. (expires March 12, 2017)

Some of my other articles, are also available on GPSmyCity! They offer details about my favorite museums, shopping spots, off the beaten path surprises, and delicious food finds. With GPSmyCity on your smart phone, you really can take me with you!

*Note: If you do upgrade one of my downloaded travel articles, I receive a small portion of the sale, which I’m hoping might contribute to maintaining this travel blog…


Pin for later:

#pinmehilarystyle

Mom Stuff: I’m Not A Soccer* Mom…

My kids don’t play organized sports and that’s okay! In fact I’ve always liked it that way, but more importantly they like it that way. Please don’t misunderstand I’m not anti team sports, and we did encourage the boys to try…

#soccercampIn fact after years of signing my older son up for the “right” team, getting up early on weekends, shlepping the little brother along, volunteering, preparing snack, washing the uniform, losing the uniform, returning the uniform and driving back and forth to soccer, baseball, basketball, and swim team I rejoiced when he finally asked to quit.

In truth he didn’t really have the drive necessary to succeed, but expected success, how was that going to work long term? I could see years of disappointment ahead and as a mom I could hardly bear it.

It wasn’t all bad and there were some nice moments along the way, but none of them made up for all the times I had to drag him all of us to practice knowing he wasn’t even really having fun. I used to pray for a rain out and we live in California –  where we’ve been experiencing a drought for the past 5 years.

Freedom

Once we’d liberated ourselves from the grueling team sport schedules, I worried about what would happen to our friendships after spending years being part of “the team.” What would happen now? Would it be okay? Turns out it would! Phew!

We slept in on weekends while our friends did the sports thing and then met up with them later… But, that all changed as soon as we moved. It’s hard to be the new kid when you’re not into team sports? How do you meet people?

Guess I’d Better Set That Alarm After All

#surfteam

Simon discovered surfing this past summer and joined his school’s surf team! How cool is that?! Watching him practice and seeing the look of joy on his face has finally opened me up to what it must feel like for other parents during their child’s sporting events. Instead of a field we meet at the beach, it’s the rash guard that’s lost and the wetsuit that needs a wash, but the little brother loves the beach and even though surf boards make carpooling difficult I’ll do the shlepping, because I love to see the look of happiness on my son’s face!

#surfpractice
Sunset Surf Team Practice
#carpoolwithsurfboard
Heading to sunrise surf practice

So maybe it’s not a Ball Sport as Simon calls them, but he’s found his passion, which sadly for me means no more sleeping in on weekends. Its back to those early mornings, afternoon practices, team events and competitions, only this time I won’t mind a bit!

So, I guess I’m joining the sports mom club after all… better late than never!

*Insert team sport here.

Thanksgiving Traditions

#mexicanesquite

It’s obviously no secret that I love to travel, but when I’m home I take comfort in my daily routines and rarely deviate from them. Throughout the year It’s a nice mix of the excitement of the new and the comfort of the known. For much the same reason I look forward to the holidays every year. We get that much needed break from the tedium of the school week and the joy of our annual holiday traditions!

Making a New Tradition

#mexicanesquite

Like most people many of our holiday traditions revolve around food, and some of the recipes go back generations! I can’t remember a new dish being added. Ever. Each of us has our favorite, mine was always the sweet potatoes. I admit the mini marshmallows baked on at the end were a big draw… However, I recently discovered a dish I love so much I’ve decided to break from routine and give it a shot at becoming a new holiday tradition! That is if I decide to share…

Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites)

Not only is this a delicious dish, it’s very easy to throw together! Add as much or as little of each ingredient to make this recipe truly your own.

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 ear of fresh corn per person (remove the kernels)
  • Salt
  • Chopped Cilantro (save some for garnish)
  • Mayonaise
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Cotija cheese crumbled (save some for garnish)
  • Lime juice
  • Chili powder
  • 2 cloves Garlic minced

Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over hight heat. Add the corn kernels, salt and toss them a few times before letting them char one side. Repeat this process on the other side and continue until all the kernels have reached the desired amount of charing. About 30 seconds before removing the kernels from the pan add the minced garlic and stir. Transfer the kernels to a large bowl.

Mix in the cilantro, both cheeses, the mayonnaise, lime juice and chili powder. Salt to taste and garnish with extra cilantro and cotija cheese crumbles. Many people also add chopped jalapeño or hot sauce as well. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

What’s Going To Happen Now?

#sunset

#sunsetIs this really happening? WTF? What’s going to happen now? These are just a few of the thoughts floating around in my head right now and I know I’m not alone.

When writing about my travels, new fashion finds, or just plain fun (Basically the inconsequential things) the words just pour out of me. I’m constantly running to my computer to put a new idea down before it disappears into the ether. However when it comes to the more serious topics like parenting, relationships, or most recently politics this isn’t the case. In these instances where the need to get my feelings across seems more important than ever I struggle to sort through the myriad of complicated thoughts and emotions running through my mind in the hopes of organizing them into what I hope will be the coherent articulate words that will convey my message.

Often, after a few failed attempts I hit the delete button and move on to something easier or more cheerful, something not so vulnerable, and I really wanted to do that this time as well…

Like many like-minded people, I am shocked by the outcome of our recent election, and I am struggling with the idea of an uncertain future, for our country as a whole, and though on a much smaller scale, more personally for my own family. At the same time I’m trying to remain calm and keep things real and normal for my children all while trying to convince myself that the little pep talk I keep giving myself isn’t a pipe dream and that things can still turn out okay.

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the beach lately, it’s a great place to gather my thoughts and of course view the sunset! Mother Nature puts on a different show every night, but the one certainty is that there will always be another one tomorrow. With so much uncertainty in our future this is a welcome and beautiful constant.

#sunset

 

Hotel Reviews! Hilarystyle!

HilaryStyle

When I think of travel many things come to mind, adventures, seeing new sights, trying new foods, and dedicated family time. I love all of those things so much, however there are a few things about travel that I don’t love… Though worth bitching about mentioning, there is nothing that would stop me from embarking on my next journey, let’s not carried away!

hotel-reivew Arriving in Dublin!

Having recently had the opportunity to stay in 12 different hotels over the course of 6 weeks I had a lot of time to think about the things I love and don’t love in hotel rooms. Before I tell you specifics I’ll admit upfront that I’m a bit of a hotel snob. However, I do try to be objective. Really!

A few of my not so favorite things:

  • Why are there never enough towels!? Enough said…
  • Data – in this age of instant satisfaction spotty data just won’t cut it…

View original post 823 more words

Mom Stuff: The Writing Is On The Wall! 

Writing on the wallSeriously, I mean the writing is literally on the wall! Elliot’s bedroom wall to be more exact! Giving the boys the freedom to choose how they wanted to decorate their new rooms, Elliot chose whiteboard wall paint as his main design element and I must admit I didn’t think it was all that exciting, after all its basically just another white wall, but it’s his room and it was his choice… Good choice Elliot! Turns out  writing on the walls is a fabulous stress reliever! “Why does an 8 year old need a stress reliever?”

TOO MUCH HOMEWORK!

Writing on the wall

That’s right, Too much homework!!! Three weeks into the new school year and we are doing our best to settle into a routine, but I must admit we are hitting a few road bumps. Balancing the need for play and down time with all the homework is becoming a real challenge in our home. I know I’m not alone here!!

Can I vent for a minute?

The Writing Is On The Wall

Earlier this week my third grader broke down in tears of despair after more than 90 minutes of studying (he wasn’t even done). This was more than heartbreaking, it was unacceptable! I keep thinking what are we doing wrong? Did we miss something? I thought he was right on track in school? What’s worse, is that if I’m privately thinking these things, what must be going through his 8 year old mind?

Recently I attended Back to School Night where we were told that family time, outdoor play and after school activities are paramount to a child’s success. That there is no proof of homework being academically beneficial and it’s more about building a routine, yet it still keeps coming, day after day, pages and pages of it… with no end in sight…… Why?

Knowing there will always be homework, my first priority is to help my little guy find ways to deal with the burdens and stress he feels after long days at school and what seems like a mountain of homework waiting for him. How do I do this? He’s only 8 so It’s not like he can jump on a spin bike, or pour a glass of wine, or any of the other more grown up activities I sometimes engage in when feeling overwhelmed? Okay, often engage in…

Art Graffiti Therapy?

The Writing Is On The Wall-As it turns out Elliot discovered a way all on his own, and it wasn’t an electronic device! The whiteboard wall in his room is more than just a good time! After throwing his pencil down in defeat after the marathon study session I found him tearfully drawing on the wall in his room. I decided to join him and pretty soon all of us were happily writing and drawing on the walls!

The writing is on the wall and I look forward to seeing a lot more of it!

#vision

The Writing Is On The Wall

 

Happy Anniversary Hilarystyle.me!

Today marks the One Year Anniversary of Hilarystyle.me, and I’m pretty excited about this milestone! You might be surprised to read that putting myself “out there” isn’t always easy and pushing the Publish button that first time, was not just a little bit nerve-wracking. Many things were going through my mind: would anyone be interested in this blog, care what I have to say, find my advice on travel, fashion, or fun useful? I pushed it anyway, faced my fears and… Wallah!

Here WE are one year later and apparently, the answer is a big YES! I am definitely proud of myself, but more importantly, I am grateful to all of you for following, reading, and commenting week after week!

Hilarystlyle.me by the numbers!

The #1 post on hilarystyle.me is:

Making a TsumTsum Birthday Party with well over 6,000 views!

Featured Image -- 1578

2 is the number of times I pressed PUBLISH before I was ready!

Whoops!

3 surprising things I learned in my first year of blogging:

  1. I love writing!
  2. Even after a year, pushing the “publish” button intimidates me a little bit.
  3. People are actually interested!

Top 10 posts

  1. Making a Tsum Tsum Birthday Party!
    Tsum Tsum
  2. Capitola by the Sea! A Girls Weekend!
  3. Traveling Hilarystyle!
    Edinburgh Castle
  4. Fashion Favorites: Walking in my Shoes… Travel Shoes That is!
    #Campersred
  5. Mom Stuff: Ripping Off the Bandage!
    #bandages
  6. Crazy Hair Day! Bad Hair Day! No Hair Day?
  7. New York! #837NYC!
    samsung Flagship-0845
  8. Mom Stuff! Part one: Whoops!whoops
  9. I. Am. A. Runner.
    #thefinishline
  10. Packing… What to Wear Over There!Packing

87 different countries have visited hilarystyle.me! 

#worldmap

Here are the top 10:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. Singapore
  5. Mexico
  6. Indonesia
  7. Malta
  8. Portugal
  9. Germany
  10. Philippines

Total posts: 110

I’ve written on average two posts about fashion, travel, parties, projects, mom stuff and fun each week!

Total followers: 736

That’s 736 awesome people like you who find what I have to say interesting week after week! Thank you!

Total unique visitors: 9,898

This amazing number is growing each and every day and I can hardly believe that my little idea, has grown so much in the past year!

Total Views: 29, 996

Based on these numbers, some of you like to come back again and again! I hope you’ll keep it up as I’m just wrapping up six amazing weeks of travel around Europe, and I’ve got lots of fun tips, photos and adventures to share with all of you!

THANK YOU!

Here is a sneak peak from my recent trip to Bruge!Bruges Canal

 

 

 

 

 

DIY: Union Jack Play Table! Part 1…

#diyunionjack

#diyunionjackAs I mentioned in a recent post, we’ll be moving to a new home in August, and I have been doing my best to sort through all the stuff we’ve accumulated over the years. I’ve been donating, recycling and trashing stuff for weeks! It feels great!

The boys have always shared a room (with almost no complaint), but our new home  will allow each of them to have their own room. Simon is really looking forward to personalizing his space, but Elliot is “letting” me help with his design. Because they’ve been sharing we are a little short on furniture, so I’ve salvaged our old and forgotten, (read: buried under a mountain of junk) play table and decided to repurpose it…

#DIYunionjack

Step 1: Choose A Design!

#hunterbootsChoosing a table top design was a no brainer! It’s no secret I’m an anglophile! A lover of Cadbury, Mini Cooper, English Breakfast Tea, Penhaligons, rainy days & wellies, and of course the Union Jack. It doesn’t hurt that my favorite color is red with blue coming in a close second! Lucky for me Elliot agrees!

Step 2: Gather Your Supplies!

DIY Union Jack Table

The Union Jack is a somewhat complicated design with multiple colors, so I chose to use chalk paint, which is versatile, requires almost no prep, and dries very quickly. I found a great drawing of the flag online which helped ensure that my flag would be “flying” correctly!

Supplies: Blue Dawn, chalk paint, chalk paint brushes, lintless shop towels, microfiber cloths or an old t-shirt, blue painters tape, paint stir sticks, razor blades, drop cloth, ruler, scissors, clear wax or polyurethane (your choice), kraft paper.

DIY Union Jack Table

Elliot already has quite a bit of blue furniture, so I used Napoleonic Blue, Emperor Silk Red, and Pure White for the flag and painted the legs and underskirt Aged Grey.

Step 3: Choose & Prepare your work area

Cover your work area and set up all your supplies. I chose my front porch for this project and not only did I have to contend with rain, wind and sun, but the bugs and dust were also quite troublesome. Chalk paint has little to no odor, so if you have the space you might consider painting your project indoors. I found that the paint works best if it’s not too hot or cold.

Step 4: Let’s Get To Work! 

Before you start painting it’s a good idea to give your table a quick wash with Blue Dawn and then rinse with water. Now you’re ready! I was so excited to get started on my design I chose to paint the flag first!

I taped off and painted one color at a time, the downside was that this created a few extra steps when it came to taping, but the upside was that I had been undecided about the color of the legs and underskirt, this gave me time to think about it. I applied three coats of paint with 30 minutes drying time between each layer and then left it to completely dry overnight. I repeated this process again for the white and the red.

Once the flag was complete it was covered with a protective layer of paper and the legs and skirt were painted with two coats of light grey.

 

Depending on the look you’re going for there are different brush options. A round brush will give you less control over your brush strokes and if you’re going for a more aged look this might be the one for you. I wanted a very uniform brush stroke and used a flat brush to achieve this look. Chalk paint is quite thick, but I found that first dipping my brush into water and then into the paint made it much easier to spread.

Don’t worry if the first coat of paint looks a bit streaky, it won’t look like that after your second coat and by the time my third coat dried the finish was smooth and even.

DIY Union Jack Table-Now that I’d finished painting it was time to remove the blue tape. It looked great! I used a small flat brush to touch up a few spots and again let them dry overnight.

#diyunionjack

Step 5: The finishing touch!

Your last step once you’ve finished painting is to apply a sealant. Initially I planned on using a wax sealer, but thankfully I decided to test the waxing technique on a little chair first. I discovered that the waxing technique is harder than it sounds and in order to achieve the finish I was after I needed just the right air temperature, amount of wax and applied pressure. Not to mention practice!

#diyunionjackI was worried my inexperience with waxing would destroy the design I had worked so hard to create. Not only that, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to put that much muscle into three more chairs and a table. Tim mentioned that spraying the table with polyurethane would be my best option, and after quite a bit of research I decided he was right! This would not only seal the paint, but also provide a more forgiving surface. It is a play table after all!

Tim was kind enough to assist me with this final step as he has some experience using this material and I was happy to accept! We picked an open area in the yard, away from the driveway or anything else that might catch some of the overspray. Before getting started we used a microfiber cloth to wipe away any dust and then applied the first coat of sealant. In total we applied three coats of sealant allowing two hours set time in between each coat.

#diyunionjack

Stay tuned for part two of this post, the chairs…

Mom Stuff: Ripping Off The Bandage!

#bandages

#rippingoffthebandageWe’re in the dark about so many things before becoming parents. One of them is how your heart literally breaks the first time your child suffers pain of any kind, and each and every time it happens thereafter. I will never forget the first shots, the first time they fell down, or the first time their feelings were hurt at school.

As far as physical injuries went it wasn’t long before my boys grew to hate bandages. While it soothed their initial pain, the fear of having them ripped off was too great.

#rippingoffthebandageI wasn’t ever sure how to handle it… How should I rip off the bandage? Slow or quick? Should I rip at the count of three, or fib and say I was counting to three, but rip at one? Maybe I should just do it a little bit at a time?

The Proverbial Bandage

As they’ve gotten older (and more coordinated) it’s become more about soothing emotional injury. In my opinion this is the much more difficult of the two… It’s even worse if you’re the cause. For example, giving your child bad or difficult news?

How do you deliver? Slow, or quick? All at once, or a little bit at a time? Is complete honesty the best policy?

1…2…3…RIPPPPP!

Recently, when I had to tell my boys 1, 2… WE’RE MOVING 3! I had the chance to find out.

Yep, see how I did that? Started out a little slow but then… riiiiip!

Wait! What?

After 8 years in the Bay Area we will be heading back to Southern California at the end of this summer.

While we are very excited about our new home and life in SoCal we are equally as heartbroken about leaving our NorCal family. We were so lucky 8 years ago when we landed in one of the best communities anywhere and leaving will be incredibly difficult. Friendships like these don’t just come and go and we know we’re in it for the long haul no matter where we call home!

Actually this wasn’t how we told the kids, this time…Oops! Yes, we tried that method previously and it didn’t go over well. Lesson learned. This time we included them in the decision making and house hunting process as much as we could and though it’s bittersweet they’re pretty excited about their close proximity to many of the fun things SoCal has to offer!

In the meantime we’ve got a lot of fun happening around our house between now and our upcoming move, which means many more posts about not only recent travels but future travels as well. we are looking forward to a six week journey around Europe to keep us very occupied! So exciting!

Hopefully I won’t need to rip off  any bandages in the near future but should the need arise… How should I do it? 1, 2, 3…

#rippingoffthebandage

Though not in anyway complete here are just a few photos representing some of the amazing memories we’ve created over the past 8 years.