Archive | Personal Favorites RSS feed for this section

Beijing – Off the “Restored” Path

25 Sep

Quick: When I say “China” what is the first thing that pops into your mind? No, I’m not talking about fried rice inside a little white to-go box (although that would be the second thing I would think about), The Great Wall of course! We had the amazing opportunity to come across a “Off the Beaten Path” tour group in Beijing that takes tourists to a less visited, not restored, (actually) peaceful part of the wall with some exciting hikes and steep “rock climbing”. I’m not gonna lie, I got to feel like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible…. sometimes!

The company (cause I know you are interested) is called Back Country Beijing and they offer a very exciting 2 day trip. The most common place on the wall to visit is called Badaling, and although its grandeur is breathtaking and true to history (there has been quite a bit of restoration to this part), it is jam-packed every single day of the year. Plus, you don’t get the exciting Tom Cruise-friendly ups and downs, literally.

To keep it short and simple, we drove to a small village at the base of the mountain, had lunch at a local Chinese Farmer’s house, then hiked up for about 2 hours to the Wall. Two of the guides set up camp and started on dinner, while the other took us around the distance of 3 Guard Watch Houses. We were back after a few hours, had dinner and camped out ON THE WALL!!

That’s the Stairway to Heaven behind us!! 🙂

We got up really early to watch the sun rise, had a hearty oatmeal and coffee, then off to a very famous point popularly known as “Stairway to Heaven”…. mostly because its to steep but if you feel off or missed a step…. I’m just sayin’.

Enjoying a beautiful sun rise, freezing my butt at the same time!

Advertisements

Internet Superlatives

24 Aug

In case your Friday is dragging along and you need a little pick-me-up to get you through to the weekend, here’s a little peek at some of my favorite websites and blogs. This is the stuff I look at almost everyday — the stuff that keeps me going when I’m bored and that provides me with new information, creative ideas, tasty recipes, and more than a few laughs. I’m really into baking, home design, crafts, a little bit of fashion, and some clever humor, so that’s the general theme you’ll find here. I’ve selected my top ten favorites in different categories, so take a look and see if any of them become your daily faves too!

Best Home Design Blog: Young House Love – by John and Sherry Petersik

Young House Love follows the Petersiks, John and Sherry (plus their adorable daughter Clara and their cute pooch Burger) through their adventures as they DIY (do-it-yourself) all sorts of crazy home design projects in Richmond, Virginia. What’s awesome is that they give you a whole bunch of information (with tons of pictures) about how you can do similar projects, and everything is on a budget! Seriously, take a look at their home tours (of their old and new houses) — you won’t believe the transformations they’ve accomplished with their own bare hands! If you fall in love with this family like I have, you can also follow their family blog, Young House Life.

A Before-And-After shot from Young House Love – Image via younghouselove.com

Best Celebrity Site: goop – by Gwyneth Paltrow

Through “goop” Gwyneth Paltrow shares incredible tips for travel, cooking, home design, fashion, hair, make-up, wellbeing, parenting, reading, and just about anything else you can think of. I’ve signed up to receive goop e-mail newsletters, and I’m always excited when I discover a new one in my inbox. It’s fun to hear from her perspective, and all of her suggestions are amazing. This is a bit high-brow, though, but I enjoy it even if I can’t afford to buy all of the stuff she recommends.

Best Laughs: Suri’s Burn Book – by Allie Hagan

This clever blog cracks me up every time. Allie Hagan, fictionally writing as Suri Cruise (daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), judges other celebrities in their children from a hilarious perspective. It’s all completely false, but Hagan’s adaptation of Suri as a lovable/hate-able combination of “mean girl” and “poor little rich girl” keeps me coming back for more everyday. If you loved the movie “Mean Girls” and your favorite section of People or UsWeekly is “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!” then this blog was made for you.

A new book by Allie Hagan based on her popular blog, “Suri’s Burn Book” – Image via surisburnbook.tumblr.com

Best Time-Waster: Sporcle

This quiz-site has more quizzes than you could ever imagine, in a variety of topics and difficulty levels. Poke around and see what you can find! Most of them are timed (for that competitive edge), and you can search by category for what you feel like doing. It’s a great way to learn some new facts! My personal favorite is the Harry Potter 200, where you have 18 minutes to name the top 200 Harry Potter characters who are mentioned by name the most times throughout the entire series. My top score on this is 161 — what’s yours??

Best Food Blog: Smitten Kitchen – by Deb Perelman

Do you like food? Great. Check out this site. In her teeny-tiny NYC kitchen, Deb Perelman creates the most delicious meals and treats you can imagine, complete with mouthwatering images that will have you drooling all afternoon. Some of her recipes that I’ve tried are Jalapeño Cheddar SconesRed Velvet CakeBoozy Baked French ToastStrawberries and Cream Biscuits, and Raspberry-Topped Lemon Muffins — everything turned out totally incredible!

Raspberry-Topped Lemon Muffins from Smitten Kitchen – Image via smittenkitchen.com

Best Sports Reading for Non-Sports People: Grantland – by Bill Simmons

My boyfriend introduced me to this site in the hopes that I might become an avid sports fan and watch football and basketball with him to his heart’s content. That didn’t happen, but I have to admit that I do enjoy some of the articles. Especially the Hollywood Prospectus section, because I’m a sucker for celebrity gossip and because Grantland writers have invented a Reality TV Fantasy League. This involved each of them “drafting” reality TV stars and getting points every week based on their team’s “performance” in that week’s episodes. “What’s that? Teresa from Real Housewives stole somebody’s husband? 250 points to you!” Oh yeah, and there’s some sports stuff here too, I think.

Best Fashion Blog: What I Wore – by Jessica Quirk

Jessica Quirk takes pictures of her outfits everyday and posts them to her personal style blog, What I Wore. It’s sweet and short, and I love her style! You can also find tips on how to put outfits together, how to DIY new trends, and where to purchase the cute stuff she’s wearing. Thanks to The Daisy Chain writer Flávia for introducing me to this site!

Cute outfit on Jessica Quirk – Image via whatiwore.tumblr.com

Best Shopping Site: ShopBop

I have a shopping problem, and when I’m bored, one of my favorite things to do is browse new trends online. ShopBop carries all my favorite designers in one convenient location, plus they have excellent customer service! Hide your credit cards, ladies… You won’t be able to resist!

Pants I’m loving from ShopBop – Image via shopbop.com

Best News Site: Google News

I love Google News because it pulls together articles from several different news sources and organizes them by categories so it is easy to read. You can also tailor it to your interests. For instance, if you have a serious girl-crush on Kate Middleton and are obsessed with her every move, you can set up Google News with a special Kate Middleton section that is consistently updating itself with the latest news on Kate Middleton. Is that weird? I hope not. I don’t know anybody who does that.

Best All-Around: MarthaStewart.com – by Martha Stewart

I love Martha Stewart. I really really do. I don’t even care that she went to prison for tax fraud… Really, I don’t. Her delicious recipes, beautiful home designs, creative craft projects, and brilliant organizational solutions more than make up for it. I subscribe to three (yes, THREE) daily e-mail newsletters from Martha: “Craft of the Day,” “Organizing Tip of the Day,” and, my personal favorite, “Dessert of the Day.” Seriously, Martha Stewart is my go-to for just about anything food or home related, and I could spend / have spent hours perusing her site. Enjoy!

Beautiful party décor idea by Martha Stewart – Image via marthastewart.com

What are some of your favorite sites and blogs??

Cheers,

Nicole

%d bloggers like this: