Hello Los Angeles

I welcomed November with open arms this year. While the summer months are usually my favorite time to frolic under the warm California sun, this year didn’t go quite as planned. Instead of lazy weekends on the beach, an extended trip to Montana, and weeks upon weeks of backyard kiddie pool bliss with The Tot… we moved. Yes, after six years of calling San Diego County home, we kissed spacious suburbia good-bye and headed to the big city two hours north.

I also have to mention our significant downsize. We went from living in a real house with a yard to calling a 900-something square foot apartment our home. We abstained from storage in favor of a simplified lifestyle. Less is best goes our new motto. The purging process took months due to busy schedules and lack of time (especially with The Tot in tow), but it was well worth the effort. In fact, I love the results so much, I can’t wait to do another round of purging.

view from la apartmentStanding on our balcony and looking up – Nature in Los Angeles!

When we were contemplating the move, we knew it would only work if our quality of life improved as a result. We spent hours talking about what we liked and didn’t like about suburbia and what we wanted city living to be. The results: we live in a walking friendly area, Ricardo takes the city bus to work nearly everyday, I enjoy daily walks to a nearby park and exploring neighborhoods with The Tot, our cars stay parked in their reserved spots somewhere in the building, and it’s only a 20 minute drive to LAX… a major international airport with flights to everywhere!

the groveOn a morning walk

Ricardo loves his new job and I still enjoy the virtual workspace lifestyle.

Now that the exhausting downsize is over, the SD house is rented, and I’m finally back from zigzagging across the USA for a project… I can finally exhale and explore our new city. Hello November and hello Los Angeles!

 If there are any Los Angeles locals out there, I’d love to hear about your favorite spots.

Traveling with a Toddler: The Double-Edged Sword

diego at bday party mexico

When in Mexico… The Little Squirt take his boundless energy to his first Mexican birthday party.

Our little baby has suddenly become a toddler. He hit the one year mark, but still very much felt like a baby. Then one day, about a month later, he woke up a toddler both in personality and spirit. He’s starting to walk (but still holding on), speaks in complete gibberish sentences (hey, he knows what he’s saying), and has an opinion about what he wants and where he wants to go (and it has to be now).

Needless to say, this stage makes traveling with a toddler a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s so fun to see the world through his expressive little lenses, but there are other times when I’m envious of those parents traveling with babies who are content to sit quietly in their arms. Ha.. been there, done that too (it was awesome!).

We recently returned from a trip to Mexico, visiting los abuelos, with the 14-month-old Little Squirt and learned a thing our two about traveling with a toddler. Here’s the low-down so you can maybe learn something from our experience.

They: Want to explore.

You: Want to savor your michelada (beer with a lemon, chile, salt, touch of Bloody Mary -type mix. It’s sooo good).

On the bright side: As the Little Squirt was toddling through the restaurant holding my finger for support, we struck up lots of conversations with strangers. Without him, we would have missed out on some great interactions. Besides, Little Squirt put smiles on lots of faces as he proudly held court in the restaurant – he smiled, flirted, and walked proudly (like hey, look at me, I can walk now!). Almost everyone enjoyed interacting with our 18 pounds of personality.

They: Don’t want to sit still on the airplane.

You: Would like to enjoy the inflight movie (hello, it’s Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio on the small screen).

On the bright side: You have a great excuse to move about the cabin and stretch your legs. We walked up and down the aisles. Over and over and over again. People smiled and thought it was cute. I even got a few “I feel you… been there, done that” looks. Nobody looked like they wanted to throw us in the looney bin.

They: Can’t help but play with danger wherever you are staying.

You: Can’t take your eye of them for a minute. So much for a relaxing trip.

On the bright side: It’s a change of scenery and you are traveling! It’s one of those things you just have to approach knowing full well no place outside your home is child proof. In fact, I still have to keep an eye on him at all times even when we’re home. That’s life with a Toddler. This stage will be over soon. Right?

bbq in mexico

Shhh… Little Squirt is sleeping. Carne Asada in Mexico, courtesy of the in-laws. Grilled veggies for my vegetarian mouth!

They: Have already fallen asleep for the night.

You: Haven’t had dinner.

On the bright side: That’s why food delivery, take-out, and picnics exist. Or, if you’re with the in-laws, they fire up the grill. Enjoy the evening of solitude away from home!

What are your experiences traveling with a toddler?

Help the World, Pack for a Purpose

These Cape Town children and they received the supplies from The Leading Hotels of the World conference, which took place in November of 2012. Conference participants were asked to “pack for a purpose” and brought over 704 pounds of supplies.

These Cape Town children and they received the supplies from The Leading Hotels of the World conference, which took place in November of 2012. Conference participants were asked to “pack for a purpose” and brought over 704 pounds of supplies.

Name: Rebecca Rothney

Name of non-profit organization: Pack for a Purpose

A short travel bio: At the age of 12, I accompanied my parents to the Bahamas for a snorkeling trip. After that, I never looked back, and in the span of the last fifty years I have had the enormous good fortune and opportunity to make travel a part of my life. I have been to Africa eight times visiting six different countries, to three countries in South America, to 16 countries in Europe, and I am not done yet.

pack for a purposeWhere is home base? Raleigh, North Carolina

How often do you travel? I travel whenever the opportunity presents itself and the frequent flyer miles have accumulated. After our trip this June, we will have traveled to Africa eight times since 2000.

Who are your travel partner(s)? I always travel with my husband, who is a great travel companion, wonderful photographer, and, as he likes to say, “a carry-on mule at the airport.”

What type of travel do you prefer (adventure, luxury, etc.)? For the last 14 years, my husband and I have been focused on travel involving natural places, because, being 63, we know that the environment is dramatically changing. Being older, I know that the ocean I snorkeled in at 14 is no longer available in many places to 14-year-olds today.

How many countries have you visited? 45 countries and all seven continents

What’s your most memorable travel experience? It was amazing to bring two stethoscopes to a clinic in Kenya that had none and to see the joy on a principal’s face when we brought rulers to a school in Botswana where there were no rulers. And, watching the blue light pulsing from the heart of icebergs in Antarctica was breathtaking and magical when my husband and I were married there. Watching two small lion cubs in the Masai Mara cross a stream for the first time to meet up with their mother was both heartwarming and hysterically funny. Having been fortunate enough to travel for most of my life, it is simply impossible to choose one experience.

Rebecca - Packed for a purpose!

Rebecca – Packed for a purpose! 3 people headed to Zambia with luggage.

What is Pack for a Purpose? Pack for a Purpose is a non-profit, based in Raleigh, NC, that makes it easy for global travelers to donate much needed supplies to the local communities they plan to visit. Pack for a Purpose provides online lists of requested items and more than 300 global collection points in over 45 countries, making it simple for travelers to make a difference on every trip. By simply adding a few medical supplies, school supplies or sports equipments in their luggage, these travelers have made a big impact.

Why did you start Pack for a Purpose? I believe that people want to help if they can find an effective and meaningful way to do so. I was also brought up with the expectation that you always bring a hostess gift to say thank you for someone’s hospitality. Taking these two ideas in hand, my amazing team of volunteers and I created the website so that travellers could easily make a big impact whenever they travel. The response has been rewarding.

Tell us about Pack for a Purpose lodgings: All Pack for a Purpose participants, whether lodgings or tour companies, are supporting projects that assist the local community. Each participant could support one project or several. We have high-end luxury accommodations, budget backpacking options and homestays on our website. With some participants, you can even buy supplies locally, depending on what they say on their needs list page.

You have a worldwide partner network. Are most companies / hotels fairly open to being a partner or does it take a lot of explaining? We have created the website so it is very easy for lodgings and tour companies to apply on their own, and this happens on a frequent basis. When we send an invitation to a potential new lodging or tour company found through research or other connections, they are usually very receptive to joining.

What supplies are most in-demand around the world? There is no accurate way to answer this because it really does depend on the project. One size does not fit all, so we work diligently with the local community project to make sure the current and exact needs are listed on the website. Sanitary napkins are a great need in many parts of the developing world as are simple medicines like aspirin and vitamins.

ready to be sealed

Headed to Zambia with supplies.

And, last question: What does your suitcase look like when you travel? Usually we travel with just a carry-on duffel because we use any checked luggage we have to take supplies with us. As three of us are going to Zambia in a few weeks, here is a photo of that luggage.

‘Feeling the Air’ of Italy in San Diego

The San Diego Italian Film Festival is featuring 'Feeling the air'

The San Diego Italian Film Festival is featuring ‘Feeling the air’

As much as we love to travel, we sometimes need a few weeks at home to do decompress and, unfortunately, take care of those loads and loads of laundry. A travel break gives us time to reenergize, feel grounded, and plan for the next adventure.

This is also when we bring the world home though international wines, culinary experiments, and watching foreign films.

We recently discovered the San Diego Italian Film Festival has a monthly Italian film series. Every few weeks they feature a different genre – fiction, documentary, shorts, new releases, or classics. Tomorrow they’re showing Sentire l’aira (Feeling the Air), a documentary about a teen who chooses to leave his comfortable home to become a shepherd.

We love watching movies that make you think, reflect, and view life from a different perspective. We think this film will deliver on all of these points.

If you’re in the San Diego area, we hope you’ll join us for a slice of Italy tomorrow (Thursday, May 16) at 7pm. The event is at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. The cost is $10 and you’ll have an opportunity to connect with the Italian community in San Diego.

Can’t make it tomorrow? Mark your calendar for the other film nights.

We’re excited to bring Italy home!


feel the air

Make it a date night with Italian wine and cheese.

Looking for amazing international cheeses in San Diego County. Check out Venissimo. We’ve been to their Del Mar location a few times to stock up for parties and enjoy the selection.

(Thanks to the San Diego Italian Film Festival for the invitation and delicious basket)

India Travel Update – Eating Parathas in New Delhi (with recipe)

Filed under Food, Travel + Wine

parathas indianPhoto: Sonya Stoa

Part of traveling is eating like the locals. We’re following Sonya’s jet set lifestyle as she travels through India. These delicious parathas are a popular breakfast dish in northern India.

If you aren’t traveling to India anytime soon, you can make them at home following this recipe from vegrecipesofindia.com (visit their website for photos of the step-by-step instructions):

paratha recipe

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