What I read… And 56 days to go.

I was inspired by another blog to write this post.  Check out Coffee Sketches‘s post from Friday, September 17th:  “Real Books and Magazines”.  Note: this is a blog of “coffee sketches” by Wendy Sefcik of Broken Box Designs.  A great and quick read first thing in the morning.  Thanks Wendy. [She already knows I love it.]

So my purpose is to share what I read.  Well, actually my current “reads” because from time to time I switch things up.  Like now.

First and foremost, I have to say I want the real thing.  Absolutely.  Positively.  There is something about holding the book in your hand and turning those pages – physically turning the pages (for me anyway).  And reading a magazine around or in the pool is the way to go; taking my Blackberry in the pool to read an article would not be good.  Or an ebook for that matter (I miss turning the pages, “physically”). 

So, the latest and greatest to my repertoire is the magazine OUT.  I love it.  It’s different with a twist.  Literally, I start reading and cannot put it down.  The magazine definitely keeps it real.  Plus the writers “write” with a certain edge and I like it.  I definitely like to be amused and entertained as I read.  [Note: it is not my intention to offend anyone because I read this magazine].  It’s really simple:  I enjoy reading it, period.  Nothing more, nothing less.

I received my [partial] B&N order today.  Yippee!  I have to say the Culture Smart books (Tunisia and Rome) are the best investment yet — $8.95 for roughly 100 pages of GREAT travel information (and history too).  This is thanks to another blog I frequent transient travels [thanks!].

B&N also sent me another writing book.  On Writing Well by William Zinsser.  Several writing blogs that I frequent recommend the book — so, I got it.  Still waiting for 2 more travel books: Food Wine Rome and 24 Walks in Rome.  And a 3rd on pre-order with a release date of November 3rd; this one I am really excited about because is the final book in Nora Roberts wedding series.

When will I find the time to read all of these books…?!  Don’t worry I will.

In addition, to my new magazine and new books, I of course still have plenty of other selections to choose from.  Wait, I completely forgot to mention my ebooks, oh my!  Another time.  Plus a few articles from various magazines that “inspired” me for blog posts; these are works in-progress.  Oh, and I couldn’t resist the new Glamour; I liked the cover and the feature article topic (an idea for a future post)…  So, be on the look out for a lot of future posts, I just need to find time to complete writing them, type them, and post them.  If only, there was more time in the day!

Well, I am beat.  Lifting weights yesterday started it and cardio today finished me off.  Until tomorrow…

57 days to go…

I am so E-X-C-I-T-E-D!  Time is flying by.  November 17th is almost upon us!  And I head to Italy.  Bernie too.

It’s official.  Finally, US Airways upgraded B’s ticket to Italy.  To and from Italy on our 17+ hour flight (approximately) we will be sitting together, yay!  And thanks to B’s frequent flier miles and his Chairman’s status with US Airways we will be enjoying our very long flight in the comfort of first class.  You would think flying well over a million miles would constitute an immediate upgrade from coach to first class.  Ummm, no.  It most certainly did not.  He faithfully called them every week and requested the upgrade.  Keep in mind we booked the tickets on August 3rd.  And of course he always double-checks when he calls about other trips and tickets. 

Yay!  So E-X-C-I-T-E-D!

Still need to figure out “where” in Rome we are going to stay.  We want to keep it at $200 per night.  Still hoping for less because we are still on the search.  Any ideas?  We will be on the go constantly so, we only need the room to sleep in.  Minimum requirements:  clean, king size bed, free breakfast, and close to the action (or heart of the city).

My research is still a work in progress.  The ports:  Palermo, Tunis (Africa), Palma de Mallorca (Spain), Barcelona, Marseille, Savona, and Rome.  Plus after the cruise five days in Rome.  I am currently reading Rick Steve’s Rome 2010 and it providing phenomenal information pertinent to planning our days in Rome.  Remember B’s the travel agent and I’m the cruise director and tour guide.  However, I have discussed with Bernie that I want him to partake in deciding what excursions we take on the cruise – there are to many to choose from. 

I am currently waiting for my B&N order to arrive with the following four books:  Frommer’s 24 Great Walks In Rome, Food Wine Rome, Culture Smart! Italy: A Quick Guide to Customs and Etiquette, and Tunisia – Culture Smart!: A Quick Guide to Customs and Culture.

The main focus right now is the hotel room in Rome.  Bern is on a mission.  Geez, I thought I was on mission but, Bern, is determined to book a room with a killer location for under $200.  However, we need to remember euros and not dollars…

Ok, its late and I need to catch some zzz’s.  Until tomorrow then.  So E-X-C-I-T-E-D!

64 days to go…

Woohoo!  November 17th is almost here.  Wait, wow, time has really flown by.  I need to quit diddle-dallying around and complete my trip research.  Outline it and complete it.  I definitely need to put it into over-drive and get on it.  And then some.

Still need to contact Marie at Costa Cruises and ask her many questions…  1) price list for laundry and dry cleaning services 2) price of internet per day (nope, its not free) 3) excursions and (current) availability and 4) information about the gym and cardio equipment on the ship (there are pictures and virtual tours of the entire ship online and “NONE” of the gym).  Still need to do the run-through of all my bathroom products (travel size).  Definitely, need to ensure that I have enough of my girlie products.  And most importantly that I don’t run out during the trip — that would NOT be good…  Oh, that is very frightening just thinking about it.  Very.  HP:  press the clear button…deep breaths…inhale…hold…exhale…repeat. 

Much, much better….

Still need to book the hotel in Rome (3 possibilities).  List and map the day trips for the five days in Rome; review book.  Figure out which excursions we want to do (if any are left?).  Overall trip research for each port and history overview as well – to review on the plane and night before each port (for B and I to discuss).  After excursions are booked, prepare history overview of places visiting (on excursion). 

Goals:  Friday, September 16th, order remaining books from B&N.  Complete all reading by October 1st.  Don’t forget the italian phrase book.  By October 15th complete run-through of girlie products.  Bern to call AMEX regarding hotels, exchanging money, and excursions in Rome.

A little overwhelming.  Geez…  I didn’t realize taking a few days off, well weeks, really, of trip planning would make me feel so – behind?  Yes, behind.  Really, really behind.

Ok, well.  I have somewhat of an outline.  A rough, rough outline.  Now, time for some beauty rest.  Hopefully the (beauty) rest will conjure up a magical, wonderful and complete outline (by tomorrow evening).  Mental note:  need Marie’s telephone number from Bern.  Nite.

Weekend recap.

Pizza.  Boise State game.  Bern.  Computer.  Post. 
What a nice long weekend.  What?  Wait.  The weekend is over?  Where did it go?  My weekend was consumed by my computer, my blog and the blogging world.  Yes, it really was.  However, I did manage to do some fun things with Bern that didn’t involve my computer.  But, I of course spent time writing and reading at my other office…poolside at Bern’s.  Welcome to my pool side office…
I have decided that I am going to create a schedule for myself in regards to my blog — so that my free-time is not consumed.  The SITS girls state that I need to live my life and write about it later because, if I don’t enjoy it – I won’t have anything to write about.  But, first things first, my post for tonight!

On Saturday evening Bern and I went to the Yard House for dinner and saw the documentary The Tillman Story.  The movie is an absolute must see for everyone.  Before dinner we made a quick stop at the shoe department in Dillard’s.  And low and behold – a  shoe sale with racks and racks of 70% off shoes!  Oh yeah!  Bern headed over to see what cologne was on-sale and ended up getting a few new Polo shirts, on sale.  I purchased 3 pairs of shoes:  2 pairs of flats by Gianni Bini (my favorite shoe designer) and a killer pair of brown Jessica Simpsons’ [I meant to say Gianni Bini’s — don’t know what I was thinking…that is what happens when you are yelling for you team and typing your blog] (these were on sale $26.99).  I have to say the grey ballet flats are so cute – I LOVE them!  I think I might go back and get the same ones in black…  I will keep you posted.  The brown flats were the main purpose of going and then I see the sale racks and it was over…I just had to look – I just could not resist!  I even sent a text message to a shoe-aholic that I work with; she loves shoes and I just had to tell her.  It is important to note that flats in my closet are a new addition.  Simply put, at times I just need to wear flats because my feet hurt from the day before.  Plus, I must add that I am determined to have comfortable, cute, and sexy shoes for my trip this November.  Just because you wear flats doesn’t mean you can’t have sex appeal too.  Don’t you agree?

Sun Devils won!  I must say that I am looking forward to the fall season of sports.  The NBA and most importantly the Suns.  Bern has tickets so we go to every game.  College football – ASU and Boise State.  NFL.  Next weekend, my sister and brother-in-law have their annual NFL kick-off party.

Last night I saw my very first Rambo movie.  Yes, the action movie aficionado just saw her very first Rambo movie.  I loved it!  The ending dragged a bit but, just because I wanted to know how it ended and I thought Stallone’s hair was great.  By the way, his body is in better shape in The Expendables (check out my previous blog of the movie review).  As soon as the movie ended I told Bern I am ready for Rambo II.  I was serious.  I was ready to watch it at 11:43 p.m.  We had an honest to goodness debate about how late Blockbuster was open and if he or I were going to get it.  I was serious.  It is 11:43 p.m. and we were both in our pajama’s.  Blockbuster was not open until midnight.  I was wrong.  Next weekend, will be Rambo II.  I am looking forward to it.

I had Starbucks on Saturday and Sunday courtesy of Bern.  What a great boyfriend for picking up my Venti Mocha Lite Frappuccino (VMLF) for me on the way back from errands and getting my car washed — so sweet!  Today, we didn’t leave the house and I had a Double Shot from the fridge.  Not the same but, it gave me the JOLT I needed.

Our trip.  Bern and I were suppose to negotiate the excursions for our trip but, we didn’t.  Nope.  We never even got that far.  Well, we agreed on one.  We both agreed on spending Day 6 in Monaco.  Oh yeah!  We talked about Tunisia because I travel website Saturday during the blogging frenzy that wrote about it…so I have a plan and a book to purchase.  We are both excited about spending the day in Africa.  

Tomorrow evening I will be heading back to the gym.  Let my cardio regime resume.  Pam, my trainer, will definitely kick my butt and be glad to see me ready to rock-n-roll.  I love it!  AND the results.

I am hoping to round out the evening with a win from Boise State – keep your fingers crossed.  Go Broncos!  Also, I am not real sure about Virginia Tech’s new uniforms…a little different.  Just a little.

Broncos WIN!  YAY!  Go Broncos!

Let the countdown begin…

…80 days to go…

I am so excited for my upcoming trip. A long overdue vacation; the last “real” one was 4-1/2 years ago – on a Costa Cruise in the Caribbean. I know some of you are reading this and thinking “wait, how has Heather not been on vacation in the past 4-1/2 years?” Let me explain. Long weekends do not qualify as a vacation – my definition of a vacation requires that it be 5 days or longer. So, that means a quick trip to the beach or a flight back home doesn’t count. You have to physically be “away” from work and home, and it is crucial that it does not include contact with your office.

The trip begins on Wednesday, November 17th. It will take Bern and I roughly 17 hours to reach our destination. We leave Phoenix in the a.m., head to Philadelphia for our connecting flight, and then fly across a HUGE body of water, the Atlantic, and finally arrive. In Rome that is!

Ok, visualize this:

I jump up and down, while doing double-handed fist pumps, and loudly sing “I AM SO E-X-C-I-T-E-D”!

Yes, I really do this. Bern can attest to this. This has become a rather frequent occurrence – the more research I do, the more excited I get! OH YEAH! I know that I am more excited than Bern right now, however, it will become more “real” for him when our departure package arrives from Costa Cruises in about 45 days. He will be on my bandwagon one day soon… Oh yeah!

We are going on a 7-day cruise of the eastern Mediterranean Sea and following the cruise we are spending 5-days in Rome. Each day of the cruise we will be in a different port: Palermo, Tunis (Africa), Palma de Mallorca (Spain), Barcelona, Marseille, Savona, and Rome. It will be one “busy” cruise. We definitely will not be bored. And five whirlwind days in Rome…walking all-about… SO EXCITED! OH YEAH!

It was quite the process for us to finally discuss, plan, and book this trip. It has been a trip 5-years in the making. Delayed twice before for different reasons, however, NOW it is finally booked! Yes. After much and I mean “much” debate, Bern and I, finally agreed on a cruise itinerary. Or should I say negotiations…? Hmmm, I will explain in another blog post. We had some “restrictions” in regards to the dates of the trip due to my work schedule; I have to be at work from the 1st-5th of every month for billing. So, we had to work the dates around billing. We almost thought we had the cruise set and ready to book — until, we realized we forgot about Bern’s high school reunion in October. So, back to the drawing board we went. Well, we finally decided on November. Bern came up with “over” Thanksgiving. It would give me, well “us”, an additional two vacation days.

“I AM SO E-X-C-I-T-E-D”! Oh yeah!

Well, it is time for me to head to bed, work in the morning. Until tomorrow evening …this and that…

A vacation planning checklist, I think…?

Where, when, who, how much…? Obviously, not necessarily in this order…

In my mind, there are important steps to vacation planning and/or traveling. A good set of luggage (preferable a set of red Tumi monogrammed luggage, like mine). Travel-size bathroom products/containers (I have plenty of these). A passport. Good packing skills. The ability to leave on a moments notice, for those fun, last minute getaways.

You always need to be prepared. In my case, I might be just a tad bit obsessive in this area. You never know when a weekend out-of-town might “pop-up”.

If your trip is not solo then make sure you choose a good traveling companion, in my case Bernie, my boyfriend, or Mel, my sister. Yes, I said “Mel”, she knows me in and out, not as well as Bern, but, she is a close second. Be wise in this decision as your companion can “make” or “break” the trip. Discuss your budget and obviously this is dependent on the location and length of the trip. Pick a mutually fun or interesting place to go. Location, location, location. Compromise is key. Request time-off from work, in advance (if possible) and pray the time fits into your schedule as in my case.

My upcoming trip is set. I will be traveling to Europe on a 7-day cruise in the Mediterranean and 5 days in Rome; plus 2-days for traveling to and from. My traveling companion of course is Bern. The time off of work is approved and my two additional two days as well; we wanted to receive the Pope’s blessing on Sunday (before we leave). Our budget is on target. And we compromised, a lot.

Let the countdown begin – 81 days to go!  Now on to research for the trip…