Monthly Archives: December 2015

There’s a New Mexico

by Joe
Homer Simpson once said while looking at a map of the US, Look Lisa, there’s a NEW Mexico! Well it isn’t new and it ain’t Mexico, but it truly is the Land of Enchantment. My wife and I just returned from an eleven day tour of the state and found it to be one of the most enchanting and geologically diverse states in the Union. The scenery is terrific, the food is fantastic, and the people are proud of their history and way of life. They are Native American, Hispanic and Wild West American all in one friendly, helpful, and gracious hosts.

We had considered going to New Mexico for several years because we had seen photographs and read info on their Balloon Fiesta held every year during the first couple of weeks in October. Which in itself is a great reason to stop in Albuquerque but by far is not the only draw that will float your boat (or balloon in this case). The more I planned for the trip the longer it became. We picked a great time of year as the temperatures are milder and more pleasant in the Fall. The north will see temps warm up in the day to the high 60s/low 70s with lows in the 40s. The south will still be very warm, typically high 80s during the day and the 60s in the evening. The sun shines everyday and the sky is so blue. Basically we spent five and a half days in the north and the same in the south. The half day was a transitional day as we drove from Santa Fe in the north to Las Cruces in the south which is about a five and a half hour drive. Continue reading

Holiday Baking

by Sunny

follow me on Twitter @Sunnylooksleaps

Don’t you just love to get back from a relaxing, rejuvenating vacation only to find that one of your major appliances in malfunctioning? Nothing kills that post vacation glow like an added home expense.   We ordered a new heating element for our oven that wouldn’t preheat, but unfortunately we got the wrong size.  There was no way we would get a new one in time for the holiday baking frenzy. Luckily, our stove top and broiler still worked. We also have a “babycakes” that helped us to be creative with our treats.  Here’s how we ended up with a house full of sweets even without a working oven!

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2015 Weekend Trips

by Wendy
Follow me on twitter @wendylooksleaps

December is flying by. As the new year approaches I love to think back over the previous 12 months and remember the fun times. Over the course of 2015, I was lucky to have many weekends of travel. We took about 8 trips to see Jack’s family and 5 trips to see mine, plus had a ball hosting family visiting us in DC. We introduced my sister and nephew to one of our favorite local escapes from the city. We had wonderful trips to Spain, France, Utah, New York City and Hilton Head, which are captured in the blog. I love reading over these old posts – this was part of the reason for starting a blog in the first place. There were a few more weekend trips I wanted to call out for their specialness. Continue reading

The Rockhouse Experience

by Sunny

follow me on Twitter @sunnylooksleaps

There are many different reasons to travel: business, pleasure, visiting, celebrating, exploring, and experiencing new cultures.  Now, we love to travel and love to sightsee.  We visit at least one new city a year and check off our list of “must-see” attractions just about everywhere we go.  Jimmy and I have raised a little travel trooper who at 6-years-old has walked Pike Place Market, the expanse of the National Mall, and Walt Disney World four times over.   More often than not, our travels are full of adventure from dawn to dusk.  Our most recent trip to Jamaica was anything but….and it was perfect.  Read on to find out how two sightseeing, schedule- packing travelers turned off their calendars, to-do lists, and devices to enjoy the peace and bliss of a truly relaxing vacation.

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Travel and Memory

by Jack
follow me on twitter @jacklhalsey

My dear aunt, a lifelong resident of Perth Amboy, New Jersey passed away earlier this summer. Instead of the traditional funeral, a memorial was organized at her favorite restaurant. Situated on the shank of a bluff overlooking the Raritan Bay, the large picture windows showcased the pastoral shore of Staten Island, just across the water. As the room filled with family and friends and I gazed out over the refurbished waterfront I was struck by the dramatic physical change to the town I had spent my early childhood in. Continue reading

My Favorite Reads of 2015

by Wendy
A couple of years ago, I realized I was spending a little too much time on CandyCrush and television reruns. So I set a goal of reading at least 12 books a year, kept a list and got back into a habit I didn’t realize how much I missed. As Sunny points out in her excellent post, books inspire trips and provide a window to unfamiliar lifestyles and cultures. When reviewing what I read over the past 12 months, I realized how many are translations or stories that take place in other countries. Reading is in itself a form of travel, and I have loved that aspect since I was a kid. Here are my top favorites from 2015. Not necessarily all published in 2015, but the best ones I happened to read. I haven’t written about books since school, so I’m out of practice. As a result everything below will be brief. Continue reading

Feeling at Home in Madrid

by Wendy
Follow me on twitter @wendylooksleaps

My husband Jack said I am a collector of cities. I love trying to find a connection to the energy and color and diverse daily scenes of cities I visit. Cities offer reinvention and reassurance. They spark imagination. You learn to share your living space with others, while you’re also challenged to showcase uniqueness. There is an art to living in a city.

Madrid is the city we’ve visited most often in Spain. It is magical to me. History and cutting-edge are side by side. The landmark plazas and modern restaurants. The seedy and the sophisticated. The architecture and museums. It can feel like New York City, a night owl’s haven, a refuge for the weird, a sense that there is always a new discovery no matter how many streets you wander. I’ve heard other visitors sound less enthusiastic, but I love Madrid and will always try to claim it as one of my cities. In my mind I pretend that I’m more than a tourist. Instead, Jack and I have a relationship with Madrid, we’re on familiar terms. There’s no real must-see must-do list. We keep the camera-crazy gaping to a minimum and instead, play it cool. Well we try. Here are some city scenes/observations from our recent stops at the beginning and end of our fall road trip. Continue reading

Welcoming Travelers at Home

by Wendy
follow me on twitter @wendylooksleaps

Jack and I lived in a one bedroom apartment in the heart of DC for about 10 years. Despite the limited space, we always enjoyed hosting family and friends from out of town. I think nearly 20 different guests crashed on our Ikea fold-out sofa in the living room – many during multiple visits over the years. I loved that apartment, but one of the best things about moving to a house is having a designated guest bedroom. Our rowhouse is not big, and everyone still shares a bathroom, but having a real bed and door that closes gives travelers a little more space during longer visits. My sisters April and Sunny and their families are our most frequent visitors, and I love that their kids consider our casa their home away from home. I’m still learning how to be a better hostess, but here is my strategy for making friends and family feel welcome. Continue reading