Friday, June 27, 2008

Thanks for Reading...

Hey PinkBird Blog Readers! Take 10% off at PinkBird Creations with code: SUMMERBLOG08

Thursday, June 26, 2008

...Like a Small Town

In December I was given an amazing Nikon F2 camera (they were only made from 1971-1980)...I hadn't tried it out until last weekend. Not entirely sure it would work, I loaded it up with some film and went on a photo adventure. Here are a few pictures I took....They are quaint, like a small town.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hotel Review: Eugenia Hotel, Quito Ecuador

Here is a copy of the hotel review I mentioned in my previous post...

“Simple, Friendly Hotel”

Eugenia Hotel, Quito Ecuador:

We stayed at this hotel twice, before and after a trip in the Galapagos. The price was great, and the hotel was simple and clean. The decor was all over the place--but they were trying, and it was nice (and a little tacky), somehow it reminded me of a European hotel.

The front desk staff was really nice and most spoke English. I felt they were also quite honest and even frank with us when we asked about places to eat or the area. One night when going just around the corner to eat (at Spaghetti's or Metro Cafe, I believe it was called) the front desk attendant told us that unless we were going in a large group, it may be best to take a cab. (If you've done your Quito research, you will find that most parts of Quito's New Town are not quite safe to walk alone at night). We ended up going in a group, and we were fine, and I felt safe. I felt quite safe at the hotel as well (The hotel has a front gate that locks, a security guard 24/7, and the hotel's front door was locked at night--when returning at night you had to ring the bell to get in).

When going out, the front desk would gladly hold your room key there so that you didn't have to bring it along--or risk losing it, which I thought was great.

We actually stayed in 2 different rooms, both on the 3rd floor. The first time we were there we had a simple room, bed, chair, large closet, TV (with cable, and some English stations). The shower was luke-warm and had a lot of pressure.
The next time we stayed there we were in another room, which was right next door to our previous room, but was nicer. It was bigger, with larger windows. The bathroom was also bigger, and warm, and was a shower only, no tub.

The noise from the street can be a bit much, I'm not sure they have rooms away from the street, but it could be worth asking for. Seriously.

The cafe/bar was nice, we ate breakfast (which was included for us) there, fruit, fresh juice, bread, etc. (We are vegetarians, so that it what we ate, others had eggs and meat). We were also able to get drinks/beer from the bar quite easily.

There was free internet also, though it was quite slow.

Overall, we enjoyed our stay.

Date of Stay: May 2008
Visit was for: Hobbies / interest / culture
Age group: 29
  • My ratings for this hotel are:
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Would I recommend this hotel to my best friend?

I recommend this hotel for:
Young singles, Older travelers, Tourists

I do not recommend this hotel for:
An amazing honeymoon, Great pool scene

I selected this hotel as a top choice for:
Museums / Cultural / Historical sites, Other

*I should add: These are my opinions, I am not a paid journalist nor do I receive any compensation from the company named above. This blog is merely a record of my opinions as I wonder and create in this world. This review was also published at

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Where's the Map?

I recently reviewed the hotel we stayed in while in Quito, Ecuador (the Eugenia Hotel) on TripAdvisor. Doing so got me thinking about the website itself...I actually used to not like travel review websites, as I found them biased, or that people were purposefully posting false information. But, while planning my last few trips, I found myself using TripAdvisor (and sites like it) more and more--usually I was landing on them from Google searches. Earlier this week I was looking at hotels in Philadelphia (since, though I love the Westin there, I was looking for something different), what was the first place I looked? Yup, Tripadvisor.

After all this internet searching and review reading I decided that perhaps my next getaway should be planned the way we planned trips in the "old days" by calling the hotel's 800 number or calling the hotel (or campground as the case may be) directly. (But, seriously, I'm not that old!)

I remember one roadtrip in 1998 me and 4 friends took a winterbreak roadtrip from Chicago to NYC then down the coast to Florida, over to New Orleans and back to Chicago...I definately didn't search online for hotels or reviews then. For our stay in New York City I used a borrowed travel guide and called a (dingy) hotel, (in *gasp* New Jersey--but we were 4 college kids with no money, so that had to do). We really knew nothing about the hotel until we got there. And, getting there was quite the adventure. No one had a GPS or google maps, we used a well-worn atlas to get around the east coast. It was fantastic.

Another time we drove from Columbia, Missouri to Atlanta, Georgia with the same old atlas and a vague destination (a campground outside Atlanta) ahead. We didn't plan our timing very well, and arrived there at about 3am, when the campground office was closed. So, there we slept, (for free!) in the car 3 feet from the office door. We awoke to the campground owner knocking on the window.

So, maybe the next trip I go on will be "old school," no TripAdvisor, no MapQuest, no Google. Just an atlas and a sense of adventure.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Can't Touch This...

While cruising around Milwaukee, before a Trey (Anastasio) show back in the summer of 2005 we spotted this awesome sign.

(P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom!)

Monday, June 16, 2008

How to Make Your Own Travel Journal (a Reposted Tutorial):

Sometimes I look at my Google stats to see what brings people to my blog....this tutorial on how to make your own travel journal, is one of the top searches, so, I'm unearthing it from the archives and reposting it:

From the Archive:

"Travel journals, what can’t you use them for? I am a big fan of little notebooks and have tried all kinds, spiral bound, waterproof, handmade, etc. I use them even when not traveling. When I am traveling I use my journal to jot down ideas or thoughts I don’t want to forget; I use it as a memory book or diary, sketch pad, address book, scrapbook, and photo album. They are perfect for slipping that beautiful postcard or bar napkin into. When you make new friends while traveling you can have them write their info into it and even show-off the pictures of your home, friends and family that you have tucked in there. Sometimes the best souvenirs or mementos I have from trips are the journals I kept. It’s amazing to go back years later and review your actual thoughts and feelings word for word rather than just through pictures.
I first made a journal like this one (which eventually morphed into a photo album) a few years ago when I was traveling from where I lived in Hawaii to Phish’s last shows in Coventry, Vermont. Since it was the last weekend my favorite band would be performing together, I wanted a special little book to carry with me to jot down any notes or feelings or new friends while I was there. I also brought my (now defunct) i-zone camera so this little journal was a perfect place for those little pictures (which, by the way, aren't in my picture on the right).
Now, why don’t you make one?
(This tutorial is adapted from a post I found on Craftster a few years ago).
Travel Journal:
You will need:
-thin cardboard (2 pieces large enough to be the front and back covers of your book)
-hole punch
-hair band/ponytail-holder/rubber band
-1 chopstick or kebab skewer
-sandpaper (optional)
-utility scissors, small saw, or steak knife
-glue (optional)
-any collage materials or paints you chose to use to decorate the book’s cover (optional)
First, determine how large you’d like your journal to be. For this project I’m making mine 5.5” by 4” (because that is the size of a ¼ sheet of computer printer paper which I will be using). Then, measure 2 pieces of your thin cardboard (it could be from a food/drink package, or even a thick envelope or folder. Here, I am using thick cardstock). Cut the 2 pieces to the same size and set aside.
Follow this same procedure to cut pieces of paper to the right/same size--these will be the books pages. I like to use a nice variety of paper since I never know what I’ll want to write or sketch on while traveling. I tend to use a lot of recycled papers. I use brown paper bags for different texture, construction paper, ruled paper, sketch pad paper, etc. As for other recycled papers, old photocopies are great (photocopies of pictures of your friends and family are cool to use because they are nice to look at if you’re missing them and you can show them off to the new friends you make while traveling).
Second, you will be punching holes into one end of the covers and papers. Holes should be centered and about 1” away from each other (not too close but not so far that the band that holds it all together stretches too much). You can choose to use a plain round hole punch or one of those fun novelty shaped hole punches, it doesn’t matter. Set these papers aside.
Third, take the chopstick and cut/break it in half. Usually my utility scissors won’t cut all the way through, but can sort of perforate the chopstick making it easy to smoothly crack in half by hand. You could also use a small hobby saw or even a steak knife. Once the stick is in 2 pieces you can smooth it down with sandpaper (or even paint it if you’d like). You will only be using one half for this project, so you can set the other half aside for the next journal you make.
Then, starting with the back cover, string the hair band (or rubber band, etc) through both holes. One end of the band will go into one hole while the other end goes through the other one. Now, slide the
chopstick through one of the loops and string the (hole-punched) paper onto the other loop. I think it’s best to do this a few sheets at a time, then slip the chopstick out and into the loop with the paper, and slide the other hair-band loop through the other hole. Continue this until all the paper is on both loops.
Now you can chose to decorate the cover of your journal before putting it onto the hairband loops, or you can add the cover and then decorate the book. You will put the cover on the same way you put the paper onto each loop. However, once you get the cover through both loops you will then slide the chopstick through both loops to secure the binding. And, there you have it!
You may want to add extra security to your journal with a few drops of glue near the chopstick and hairband on either side, and even a few drops spread on the spine of the book can help.
Some other ideas for this type of book:
-use ribbon, rope, or hemp to secure the binding rather than a ponytail holder.
-paint the chopstick, or use part of a pencil or twig instead
-paint the cover rather than collage
-seal your cover’s collage or paint job with Modge-Podge or a clear finishing
-glue an envelope into the front of back cover so that you have a place to store any papers or ticket stubs you’d like to keep from your travels
-buy a small set of watercolor paints (one of those cheap plastic sets for kids that usually have about 3 colors and a paintbrush that’s about 2” long) to paint any unforgettable moments. (You could also get a small pack of crayons).
-glue a small flat mirror (usually available at craft stores) and/or a nail file to the back cover of your journal, “just in case.” Your travel journal can become more of a “Swiss Army Journal.”
-reinforce the covers with clear contact paper
-if you come up with any other awesome ideas, please share them with me!
Take it light and Happy Travels,

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

How Was Your Weekend?

Happy Father's Day!!!
Yes, I know the weekend is not over yet...
but I have had quite a productive few days. Aside from trying to find a beer that I don't like and standing in line for an hour at BWI Airport (long story, and I didn't even board a plane!) I made a heap of fun new bracelets with ribbon, gemstones, sequins, and thread. I even added new items (supplies) to my PinkBird Etsy Shop. I also found time to make a few new (one of a kind) pieces for my PinkBird Creations store.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

PinkBird's Pointers (Volume V):

While talking with a friend recently, she mentioned that she enjoyed reading my travel tips, so I figured, why not post some more!? Here goes...
1. This is not so much a tip as a rant...I'm really sad that a number of airlines are now choosing to charge passengers for their first checked bag (and I thought charging for the second bag was crazy, yeah I know--the heavier the plane, the more fuel it uses, etc. etc) so I think, do whatever you can to carry on your luggage! I used to do this all the time, until the airlines started cracking down and then there's the whole "no liquids" thing. I doubt that charging people per bag will make airline ticket prices decrease, so head over to OneBag for great packing tips to get all your stuff into one bag, which hopefully you can carry on! (Edited to add: what if they gave you a discount for a light bag? Or only charged for the first bag if it was over a certain weight?)

2. I love carabiners (D-ring) and ball-chain key chains! i use them to secure the zippers my day pack or carry-on bags. Sometimes if I just throw all my stuff into my backpack the weight is off balance and the bag will begin to unzip, so I just clip the zippers together to avoid that. Plus, I figure that hopefully if someone is trying to sneak into my bag, I'd feel them fiddling with the ball-chain key chain or carabiner before they got too far. I also use them to hang random things that may not fit into my bag or that should not be in my bag--like muddy shoes, water bottles, jackets, etc. (Funny side note: an Australian women I met in Ecuador asked me about the carabiner on my bag, saying it's a good idea, then said that it "must be an American thing" because she'd never seen them before).

3. I always pack extra safety pins--in a variety of sizes. You just never know what things could break, rip, or just need to be held together. On a recent trip, one of the The Guy's backpack's zipper pulls was ripped off in transit (so sad) and a large safety pin helped.

4. I'm really not paranoid nor do I think people are all out to steal my stuff...but....Get a luggage lock for your bag--both regular and one with a stainless steel cable, (something like this). Seems simple enough, but these days with all the TSA stuff, a lot of people travel without locking their bags (as I do all the time, actually). But, if you're not sure about the security of a hotel or hostel, or are traveling with valuables that you want to leave in your room (or if you have to pay to rent the room's safe) lock them inside your bag. Sure, you could just use your luggage lock, but I like the added security of a small lock with steel cable that easily loops through zippers and the slats of a chair, table or other room fixture. No one can take your locked bag if it's securely tied down (of course, make sure it's not locked to something that can easily be removed!). Having a cable lock also helps for lockers too, since it's flexible. (Also, don't forget about bags that are slash-proof, with steel wire inside the fabric, or steel mesh backpack locks that cover your entire bag!)

5. I've said this before, but it's worth repeating....whether you're on a road trip, holiday, or international trip, please don't forget your sense of humor and kindness. Yes, gas prices are high, yes, immigration lines are long, yes, trains get delayed, but don't let it ruin your trip. While bearing in mind cultural differences, the Golden Rule may seem cliche but, "treating others as you'd like to be treated," can go along way while traveling.

For more PinkBird's Travel Pointers, click here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

PinkBird's Picture: Tokyo, Japan (Kokeshi Dolls)

While traveling in Japan I ended up buying quite a few of these lovely Kokeshi Dolls, both for myself and for friends. I took this picture in the Asakusa Market in Tokyo. The Asakusa Market is a large, often crowded market near the Sensoji Temple. It was excellent for people watching, and easy to get to on the subway. The Sensoji Temple was amazing and beautiful. I like this picture, as there's something interesting to me about the various reflections in the glass and the colors and variety of these wooden dolls.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

so, here's an idea....

I try to make a lot of my clothes, but, lets face it, some people make clothes better than I do...and I don't always have time to sit down and sew. So, I like to "enhance" the store bought clothes I do get to make them mine. This can be more than just embroidering a plain tank top, or ironing a decal or patch onto a skirt....

The other day I got this really cute sundress. But, before the tags were even off, I was stitching on sequins and embroidering some vines onto it. (Since, I felt like it needed some green in it). It only took a few minutes too. Now this dress is a one-of-a-kind! (Sorry, no finished product pictures yet!)