July 2015 Recap

When I posted my Out of Office notice I knew the month would go fast, but I never believed it would go THAT fast.

Airport Adventure

I had two amazing guest posts while I was gone. Jennifer and Emily!

networking conversation

I posted a peek into how I network (and have another networking post that I’m working on).

Pablo Neruda Graffiti Santiago, Chile

And recapped my trip in Part 1 and Part 2.

La Paz Bolivia

The ending of the month is consumed by Miss Aitkin, and next week I’ve got some fun plans in the cities that will be sure to hit the blog!

Chance Chat #30: Royal

As summer flies by my biggest volunteer week of the year is here! I will be acting as Director of the Miss Aitkin Scholarship Pageant for the first and last time this week. Back in the summer before my senior year of high school, I was a candidate. I didn’t end up as royalty, I don’t consider myself a failure. I’m not always Team Oprah, but today I am.

Chance Chat 30 Royal

These days entering a scholarship pageant, or anything with the word “pageant” in the title can be quite a chance. You’re putting yourself out there to stereotypes, and critisism. But those who have experience a pageant tend to have different feelings than the passive observers. This same stereotype vs experience can be true in other parts of life.

How sad to think that people are afraid to try something just because of what they assume people will assume about them. Take the chance, try something new. Even if you “fail” or don’t win the crown, you’re still taking a step towards greatness.

Have you ever failed at something only to realize the experience helped you in the long run?

Anyone else have a “secret” pageant in their background?

Week of “Nothing”

When I realized that I would be gone for almost two weeks for my South America trip, I decided to clear my schedule for the week following. Being unemployed I knew I would need to focus on applications, and following up on whatever emails came in that I wasn’t able to deal with while out of the country.

Lake LifeMy first few hours back in Minnesota included a phone interview, then the first full day I spent the morning at Social Media Breakfast, and then the weekend was blissfully sitting on the deck with my brother. The photo above was my view for Saturday and Sunday, much needed peace and quiet.

Johnny Cummings

Johnny loves pictures, so we had to snap one after I picked him up from work one day this week. And while I love that my bike is in the car, I wish I felt good enough to ride it! I was sick on my trip and finally went to the doctor on Wednesday. Turns out I needed a Z-pack, which I should have just bought in South America when I saw a million pharmacias.

Smack Shack Lobster RollThursday was a long day of interviews. Once the stress was over I celebrated with a Smack Shack lobster roll before heading back up north. Now I’m just debating whether or not to attend All Pints North tomorrow. I’ve been craving a Duluth trip, but not sure I want to go on a weekend and deal with crowds.

Have you ever cleared your schedule so you can see what happens?

Summer Crowds: join ’em or avoid ’em?


South America Adventure: Part 2


Day 4: Boat trip to Isla Del Sol. The intention was to take a boat to the island, and then take a 3 hour hike across the top and down to a different boat dock. After hiking up to take this picture and explore some of the Inca ruins, I realized there was no way I was hiking 3 hours with high altitude and without full breathing capacity due to the cold/allergies inhabiting my nose and throat.

Isla del SolSo I sat and enjoyed the view. Napped in the sun, attempted to chat with a nice Mexican girl that was touring for a few weeks by herself, talked to a nice couple from D.C. that were touring for 6 plus weeks. And just enjoyed a day of quiet. In the evening we took another bus back to La Paz, with another random boat crossing, although this time we were expecting it.

Day 5, 6, and 7: Fly back to Chile, bus to Vina del Mar / Valparaiso.  Confession, in our days there I never learned which area was which town, but thats the benefit of traveling with someone who has been living in the area for 4+ plus months!

Graffiti in Valparaiso ChileThe graffiti art is unlike anything I have every seen! I wish I could have seen someone in action creating the art, the above photo is my favorite piece for its style. If you open the photo in a new window and zoom in, you’ll see that the face is composed of dots and is so gorgeous.

We also took a tour of Pablo Neruda’s house unfortunately, they didn’t allow pictures so you’ll have to settle for more graffiti photos.

Valparaiso Chile GraffitiWhile there would be the occasional random words written on stupid stone, for the most part the graffiti was amazing. We stopped at a random bakery for empanadas, my philo dough with spinach and blue cheese was amazing! The chilean culture eats a large lunch about 3 pm, but we didn’t follow them. Each morning we had a large breakfast at our hotel, had something small for lunch, and then enjoyed dinner. It worked best for us, and we made sure to travel with granola bars just in case.

Graffiti Selfie Chile

I am so thankful that my aunt and cousin invited me to travel with them. I never would have toured South America by myself, and while I wasn’t healthy on 90% of this trip, I still enjoyed it immensely!

Have you traveled while sick before? What do you think of graffiti as art?

South America Adventure: Part 1

My cousin has been living in Valparaiso, Chile since February. In March her mom asked me if I wanted to go visit, and of course I said yes!! I bought my ticket and eagerly awaited the South American Adventure that I would never take on my own.

Santiago, Chile

Day 1: Fly out from MSP, change planes in Atlanta, Land in Santiago, Chile at 8:30 am. We immediately dropped our suitcases in the hotel and started touring the city. My favorite part of the day was climbing the Santa Lucia Hill, which I dubbed “urban hiking”. Imagine if there was a random hill and castle ruins off of Washington Avenue in Minneapolis…..This is basically what it was, and so great to get views of the city!

Pope Francis

Day 2: Plane ride to Bolivia. The Pope had arrived the day before (and was already on to other areas of the country) but there were billboards EVERYWHERE welcoming him. We spent some time wandering to find our hotel, but finally found it, and inhaled some lunch.

La Paz, Bolivia

…..There was a little misunderstanding at lunch. We really enjoyed the soup and salad buffet. And proceeded to get seconds on the soup….only for them to bring out the second course (the meat, potatoes, and veggies pictured middle right), Oops! We ate what we could and then went to find the Witches Market. (which featured dead llamas, which I did not photograph).

Day 3: Bus travel to Copacabana! We managed to be the only “gringos” on the bus, and at one point everyone exited the bus. We assumed they wanted to buy a snack, or go to the bathroom where we had briefly stopped. Little did we know EVERYONE had to exit the bus and take a ferry across some water.

Copacabana, Bolivia

We hiked to the top of a hill (Cerro Calvario) in Copacabana and enjoyed getting a full view of the city and bordering Lake Titicaca. It was this night that my lack of sleep and slightly sore throat escalated.

Day 4 was supposed to include a “death walk” but…..TO BE CONTINUED.

Are you constantly “on the go” on vacation? Do you do lots of research before a trip? Or just “go with the flow”?


Chance Chat #29: Focus or Distract

After two weeks of traveling I am ready to settle into normalcy again. But the list of things “to do” can get overwhelming.

Troubled Mind

Its easy to get dragged down by the overwhelming thoughts, but I’ve found that it is easier to block those. Do what you can with what you have. Don’t wish for 2 more hours, just use the hour you have as effectively as possible. I love a good social media break, but when I find myself going through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, over and over and over I know that I’m just wasting time and attempting to distract myself.

Are you able to focus when you have things to accomplish?

Or do you attempt to distract yourself?

Networking: The Conversation

I’m home!!! Or at least I should be. But in the interest of sleeping and not stressing I scheduled this post for today. Next week you’ll get a recap of my travel adventures in Chile and Bolivia. 

I like visiting with people, as long as I don’t need anything. Once I need something, I can’t articulate a thought to save my soul. Which is problematic when you’re job searching.

networking conversation

Getting to Know Someone:

  • Are you from the area originally? (much less awkward than “where do you live?”)
  • Do you have a big family?
  • What are you looking forward to this summer?

Company/Job Specific: 

  • How long have you been with the organization?
  • Did you plan on being in this role? Or did you evolve into it?
  • What’s your favorite aspect of the company/organization/job position?

Religion/Politics: Personally I try to avoid this area, but if it comes up… be respectful. You may think you know how a person feels, but you can be surprised. Recently I was with friends and they brought up a news story, I didn’t share my connection with the story. But I did tell them why I thought the authorities were fighting the wrong issue. Keep it respectful and you’ll be just fine.

If you find yourself stuck with nothing more to say: “It was so great to meet you, I need to go thank the organizer for their hard work on this event” or “I need to go to say hi to my friend over there” or “I need to grab a cup of coffee”.

What conversation topics do you gravitate towards?

Do you struggle with how to wrap up a conversation? (I know I do!)

Travel: This 27 Year-Old’s Answer to Getting Unstuck

Hey KLF readers!  I’m Emily and I blog over at More Than Just Dessert.  As luck would have it, Katie and I met through our blogs a couple years ago while I was in grad school over in the great state of Wisconsin.  As luck would double have it, we hit it off at a blogging conference.  And then fate took over when I coincidentally got a job as a nutrition professor in Minnesota to make us real-life friends!  For reals, Katie and I became fast friends, despite our NFL football team differences (where my proud cheese-heads at?!), and I can’t imagine my life without her.

Travel to Iowa Katie Looking Forward Emily More than just Dessert

(editor (Katie)’s note: I was unimpressed with the fields of Iowa, but turns out Des Moines is a really cool town).

One of the reasons I think Katie and I are such good friends, is because we are at similar points in different parts of our lives.  We are both fast-talkin’ single ladies in our late 20’s (holy shiz) with big aspirations and goals in our professional lives, fitness lives, and our personal lives.  Last year, I went through a major life change as I graduated from graduate school and moved to small-town Suburban Minnesota for my dream job as a nutrition professor.   The job was great, but I grew restless quickly, as to be expected.  I think we all have one hobby or passion that is our go-to for resetting our buttons. The one that makes us feel like “us” again, after we go through big changes.  The saving grace that got me out of my funk?  Travel.


Travel at 27 years old Europe

Being an unmarried 27 year old has some damn good perks, especially regarding travel.   In the past year, here are just a few of the places where I’ve traveled.  

  • Europe– I backpacked Europe for 12 days with college roommates. (see above)
  • Nashville- Long weekend trip with my sister

Travel for 27 years old: Nashville

  • Boston- For work, but awesome.
  • Utah, California Coast, and the Pacific Northwest – 3 Week Roadtrip with my sister to National Parks.

Travel for 27 years old Boston

Last week, I read this article from the Huffington Post → 6 Lessons Travel Teaches You That College Never Will.  Obvi, being a college professor, I’m all about the college.  But I couldn’t agree more about the lessons we learn when we travel.

Being a student for most of my life so far, I love learning.  Travel is an INSANELY easy way to learn about the world, hands on.  Even staying within the US, by traveling to a new park, city, or region, I guarantee you are going to run into someone very different than you or learn something you didn’t know before.  We learn through the new foods we eat, the people we meet, the trails we climb, the historical monuments we visit– it’s endless!  I know that I also have learned a lot about myself when traveling.  What scares me?  What excites me? What interests me? I can answer these questions best because of some of the travels I’ve taken.  Oh and the food.  THE FOOD!  Being a nutrition prof and food blogger, checking out the food scene in new cities is probably the most euphoric part of it all.

Travel for your Late 20s RoadTrip

Many people ask, but how do you afford it?  Easy, knowing that I want to travel gives me an incentive to save…and I usually over-save to make sure I have all my bases covered. It’s all about prioritizing what is important to you.  I use multiple sites for transportation…google flights, kayak.com, and the airfare watchdog email are my favorite.  I usually research fares for at least 3-4 days and use multiple searches to make sure I get the best deal.   Do your research and you will be able to find a mode of transportation you can afford…heck, when I was in grad school making about ⅓ of the money I make now, I still traveled just as much!   When considering lodging, I always keep the budget options in mind...to me, unless you are going to an all-inclusive resort, then lodging should be the least of your worries and expenses.  For me, I need a place to sleep and a shower, all I care is that it is CLEAN! I use hotels.com for most of my bookings…in fact, because I was a frequent booker with them during our road trip last month, I got a free night! So consider booking with one company if you will be booking frequently in a small amount of time.  If it’s just 2-3 nights here and there, then I would say find the cheapest possible, regardless of the sight.  If you like nature, CAMP!  Camping every few days on a long trip can save you money in the long run.

So what if I’ve never really “traveled” long and far before? Totally fine.  I think most of the joy from travel comes from going where YOU feel comfortable and where YOU will have a good time.  For travel newbies, I would recommend doing a trip within your comfort zone before doing trips that push your limits.  Maybe find a city or festival a few hours within driving range for a long weekend.  Start small and work your way up!  It’s easier on your budget that way!

Travel for 20 something

Phew.  So have you caught the travel bug yet?  I sure hope so.  Tell me the coolest place you’ve been to and where you want to go next!  Thanks again Katie for having me!

Chance Chat #28: Stop Waiting

If only I had posted this in June…back in March when I knew that my job would be done in April I made a goal of having a job by June 1. By early May I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I have submitted over 50 applications and had plenty of phone interviews, and a few second round interviews, but haven’t found the right position yet.

Stop Waiting, Fly!

I really hoped that I would need to negotiate my trip around my start date at a new company. But that didn’t happen. While I don’t regret the applications I have filled out, or the interview opportunities I’ve had. I do wish I could go back and be more relaxed about the inital application process. Once I get home and finish my Miss Aitkin Director obligations then I will really focus on flying against the wild winds.

Have you ever waited and worried about something only to realize that waiting and worrying wasn’t necessary?

Midwest is Best: Road Trip Suggestions

Hello Friends! I “should” be in Santiago, Chile right now if all went well with my travels. And today I’ve got Jennifer from Studio Kindred (formerly Apartment-Wife) giving some great Midwest Road Trip ideas, and I would love to have more to add to the list! Take it away Jennifer! 

My summer instagrams all seem to be hash-tagged MIDWESTISBEST.  I moved to the midwest (Chicago) for school in 2009, and I had every intention of returning somewhere with year-round warmth once I earned my degree.  A Wisconsinite made me change my mind, however, when he asked me to marry him.  We lived a year in Wisconsin, and then he accepted a job even farther north in Minneapolis.

Midwest is Best - Barn
I moved to the midwest for a guy (aren’t we told never to do that?), but I quickly fell in love with the seasons, endless lakes, and warm hospitality (hello Minnesota nice!) that comes with living here.  Couple my love for the area with a heart for exploring, and it’s easy to see how my calendar fills up with trips to wherever TripAdvisor, my mother-in-law, the local paper, or a good friend says I should go.

When Katie asked me to guest-blog, I thought Midwest road-trips would be a good topic because 1) I could share my favorite places and 2) I could learn where other people enjoy spending time (I wanna know where y’all like to venture!)

Midwest is Best BIKEMy top 5 picks (in no particular order) for hopping in the car and adventuring somewhere (within 5 hours of Minneapolis) include:

– Door County, WI : A charming peninsula filled with coffee shops, boutiques, and art galleries.  The area is famous for a handful of towns scattered among gorgeous hiking trails and farmland.

– Bayfield, WI : Have you heard of Wild Rice? It’s one of my favorite restaurants of all time, and it’s located on a cliff just outside the city proper. Head over for warm cup of soup after kayaking the Apostle Islands.
– Grand Marais, MN : Holy gorgeous. My husband and I took an impromptu trip here, and we were blown away by the gorgeous waterfalls flowing into Lake Superior.  The hiking provides rewarding views, and the town of Grand Marais is about as picturesque as it gets.
– Stillwater, MN : Stillwater brings to mind steamboats, vintage candy, and antique shopping on the Mississippi.  The town is only 45 minutes from Minneapolis, and so this is a regular trip for us.  Eat at the Dock Cafe.
– Madison, WI : Jon (the husband) is a Badger, and so we venture down to the University to visit friends and bike the city.  The campus has lots of quirky charm, and the capital has one of the best farmer’s markets I’ve ever been to.

Looking forward to hearing about Katie’s adventures/travels when she’s back on her blog :)

Where do you like to road trip to? Have any great places we need to visit?