Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Review of REI HitchHiker Pack

I recently (and finally) got the HitchHiker bag from REI. I thought it would be great to use for long weekend trips and/or as a carry-on. Plus, I love a good bag--especially one that's convertible! I reviewed it at REI's website, and thought it would be worth sharing here:

Originally submitted at REI

REI HitchHiker pack keeps the active rambler happy with plenty of space and loads of useful features for fun-filled adventures.


By PinkBird on 7/28/2008

4out of 5

Pros: Easy To Access Items, High Quality, Easy To Carry, Good Capacity

Cons: No bungee cord on outside, No Compression Straps, Main Zipper could be in a better place

Best Uses: Carry-On Personal Bag, Camping, Weekend Trips

Describe Yourself: Comfort-Oriented, Modern, Stylish, Practical

Primary use: Personal

I was really excited to get this bag...but when it arrived at my house I was a bit nervous. The straps seemed very stiff, and I thought this bag wouldn't fit right, as I am a 5'2" tall woman (I felt the hard/stiff straps digging into my upper back/below my neck). But once I got the bag packed and the straps adjusted, I love it. There are tons of pockets, and the fact that it expands is even better. I would like compression straps and maybe a bungee cord on the outside (I like to keep my hoodie or rainjacket on the outside of my bags and it's also nice to have someplace to strap dirty shoes that you don't want to pack), but can do without them.

Overall, though I've only used this bag once or twice since getting it 2 weeks ago, I really like it, especially for weekend getaways or as a carry on when flying. I'm sure too, once the semester starts I'll be using it daily for school, since there are so many pockets for all my art supplies.

(legalese) *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 rei.com.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Lamp to Write Letters By

OK, I know it's not a secret that I am into postal services (seriously). I recently finished this "stamp lamp." I'm really happy with how it came out--now I just need to do something about the lampshade. I do wish I had a before picture, as it was just a plain black lamp...and now it's awesome!

I just used lots of glue, some glossy modge-podge and sealed it all with some clear-coat spray. It's easy, but can be time consuming and messy.

Here are a few other things I've decoupaged with stamps:


Don't have time (or enough canceled stamps) to try this yourself? I have a few postage stamp frames in stock at the PinkBird Creations shop (and they are on sale!)


Monday, July 28, 2008

Exactly:

Man, last night's Sound Tribe Sector 9 show (with Umphrey's McGee opening) was just what I needed. The show was on fire...so, I got to shake it and dance and run around and just be. Today I'm regrouping and relaxing. Shows like these make me want to get back on tour! As far as the setlist, this is what I could piece together from the show and theLowDown (also, if you're into it, I only saw 2 tapers, and talked to one who said he has so much stuff to go through he won't get this show online for awhile...but I can be patient):

STS9, Pier 6 Pavillion, Baltimore, MD 27 July 2008
Aimlessly
Peaceblaster '68>'08
Ramone & Emiglio
EHM
Empires
New Soma
GLOgli>
Crystal Instrument
Shock Doctrine
Tooth
Rent

Umphrey's McGee

UM

STS9

STS9

STS9

Sunday, July 27, 2008

In the Moment...

Well, I have had a busy (and challenging) week. (Thank the Universe for art and my yoga class!) But, tonight I will be present for STS9 in Baltimore..."dance your cares away," as they say. I think that seeing live music really helps us to live in the present moment, to really pay attention. So, I'll be dancing like crazy, living in the moment. Until another moment, Aloha.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

PinkBird's Picture: Musical Celebration in Tagmout, Morocco (2)

The whole scene is forever etched in my mind: the magical musical celebration we were invited to attend in Tagmout, Morocco, a lush Berber village in the mountains. Being a guest for this private traditional Ahouach musical festival was probably both the most extraordinary and most humbling celebration I have ever been fortunate enough to attend. Berber village men wore beautiful royal blue ensembles, the smell of mint tea, Moroccan sweets, and cigarettes drifted through the heavy desert air, while the veiled women sitting upstairs watched the whole gala from above. Skinny cats lounged in the shade beneath the table where I sat tapping my feet to the rhythm of the drums. The music was hypnotizing. The aura was magical. The experience and the feeling live inside of me still.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Art is for Everyone...

One of my inspiring artist friends, Christine, has created a website of her artwork and mini-tutorials for a variety of art projects. She is a "Creative Guide" (art teacher) so the projects are aimed at all age levels, which makes it all even more awesome! Her brand new site is TheFireFlyJar.net, check it out, get inspired and start creating.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hotel Review: Loews Hotel, Philadelphia, PA

Well, our trip to Philadelphia over the 4th of July weekend was great...as promised, here's a review of our stay:

Loews Philadelphia Hotel

Overall our experience at the Loews Hotel was great. We usually like to stay at the Westin (which is fantastic) but I decided to give Priceline a chance and booked a room for only $95.

A few days before our arrival I called to verify our room and also to make sure that my Loews First number was listed on the reservation. The woman said it was and asked what "amenity" I would like (Loews First members get their choice of a variety of amenities upon arrival, like wine, beer, water and fruit, cookies and milk, etc). The woman also noted that I had booked via Priceline, but seemed as though this was a non-issue.

When we arrived, the small lobby was crowded--lots of families, children, and pets. I was then told that despite being a Loews First member I would not receive my choice of amenity (I had chosen beer and nuts) since I had booked via Priceline. That was disappointing, but didn't spoil our stay.

Also at check in we were asked if we would like turn down service and we said "yes." However, during our 2 night stay we got no turn down service at all. The housekeeping service was also a bit questionable, as one day we were out of our room all day--returning around 4 to a messy room. We left again and returned after midnight and our room had been made up, which was a relief, since I was worried that it wasn't going to be clean--something you shouldn't need to worry about at a "4-Star" hotel.

The hotel is located in the old PSFS building, which is very identifiable as you are walking around the city. The whole hotel has a "hip and modern" yet retro feel. Our room--on the 15th floor was near a fire-stairwell, so I think it may have been bigger than most rooms, it was quite spacious with high ceilings. The desk/dresser was scuffed and scratched, but that's no big deal to me. There was a refrigerator in the room--no minibar though.

At night the hotel's restaurant, Sole Food becomes a night club (at least it did the weekend we stayed there) so there were alot of people in the lobby that were dressed for "clubbin," and that had been drinking--I didn't have an issue with this, but perhaps people looking for "family friendly" may.

If you are planning a relaxing weekend, or a "grown up" hotel you may want to look elsewhere. Though this hotel has a grown-up vibe, they also allow kids to stay free, (not sure why, as they don't seem to have much "kid friendly" stuff to do, even the pool is an indoor lap pool). They are also very pet-friendly so there were children and pets all over.

The 33rd floor is like an open observatory for guests to enjoy the view (they have private functions there also). We were able to bring our drinks there and watch fireworks and take in the city view, which was lovely.

Another thing worth mentioning is that valet parking at Loews is about $38/day with unlimited 24 hour leaving/re-entry. There is a self-park lot across the street (on 12th Street) for about $18/day, but they do close, which means you may not be able to get your car when you want it, but check first. I also don't think--and could be wrong--that this is a Loews owned lot.

The Loews has a great location--we walked everywhere (though I find the Westin's location better). It's a good (long) walk to the Art Museum and also to Penn's Landing, and everything in between.

Date of Stay: July 2008
  • My ratings for this hotel are:
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

*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 tripadvisor.com

Friday, July 18, 2008

if you don't vote, you can't complain:

At DC's Green Apple Music Fest this year, the volunteers from HeadCount.org helped me transfer my voter registration from Hawaii to where I live now. It was so easy! I didn't have to search the web to find out how to do it, or call anyone or anything. They handed me a form, I filled it out and they turned it in for me. So, since they helped me out, I figured I'd give them a shout out and remind you to register to vote (if you aren't already--gasp!)

Register To Vote

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Something Wonderful to Look At...

My astounding friend Sylvie has a lovely site where you can view her amazing drawings...Why Yes, please do take a look. They are inspiring in their complex simplicity. Thanks for sharing your art, Sylvie. (I chose this piece to the right as a sample because I love the way the mountains look!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Creations:

I just added some cute, colorful new stuff to the PinkBird Creations shop. Who can resist one of a kind rainbow colored plastic animals!? I made pendants out of vintage stencils, they are awesome! (see the circus sea lion pendant below). Happy shopping!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hotel Review: InterContinental Harbor Court Hotel, Baltimore, MD

I realized the other day that I have 1 or 2 trips planned every month for the next 6 months. WooHoo!

So, I've decided to include reviews or trip reports (of the hotels, experiences, etc) on my blog. I have been writing reviews on TripAdvisor because I have used that site/reviews frequently, especially when planning our trip to the Galapagos. The thing about it was that I didn't find much information that really helped me plan that trip, so I was hoping to help other people.

Anyway, I went back and included my review of the Eugenia Hotel in Quito, Ecuador and will be adding some older reviews also, starting with this one of the InterContinental Harbor Court Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. We only stayed one night, as we decided to stay in town after an STS9 show last September. (Which I blogged about here).

InterContinental Harbor Court Baltimore

VERY VERY disappointing. If you are expecting 4 or 5 stars think again and book elsewhere. (The Hyatt Regency across the street is nice). Our room was dirty, paint was peeling, and the mini-bar area had water damage and mildew.

The flowers in the lobby were dead and the staff and service was just as lively. (Meaning, unfriendly and unhelpful).

A TV in the bathroom doesn't justify slacking in other amenities and aspects (like only paper cups for coffee/tea). Definitely not worth the price.

Date of Stay: September 2007
  • My ratings for this hotel are:
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Would I recommend this hotel to my best friend?
no way!
I recommend this hotel for:
Tourists
I do not recommend this hotel for:
Young singles, An amazing honeymoon, A romantic getaway, Great pool scene
I selected this hotel as a top choice for:
Concerts / Music festival, 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 tripadvisor.com

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Don't Judge a Book Without a Cover:

I meant to post this sooner but forgot....One of my favorite books, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is free right now on iTunes (until tomorrow, July 14th). (Or you can get it here: The Alchemist)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Be Here Now.

Over the last few weeks my Yoga practice has been intense. Last week my Yoga instructor lead me in meditation on a raisin. (Yes, just a little organic raisin, the only raisin exactly like that one, ever). It brought tears to my eyes, and I'm not embarrassed to admit it. Last night as I mediated, she read aloud a quote...a quote she didn't know I knew. A quote I read everyday. One that was given to me by a friend years ago--it hangs near my mirror in every place I have lived since. Once again, the synchronicity in (from) the Universe is telling me that I am where I am supposed to be. Pay attention. Be aware. I wish you these same sort of magical reassuring moments. (Both in waking life and in dreams, because really, what's the difference some days?)

Live Aloha,
Bekki



Friday, July 04, 2008

Veggie Philly Cheese Steak, Anyone?!

The first time we went to Philadelphia we found a vegan version of the famous Philly cheese steak sandwich...it was actually OK (I'll admit that even as a longtime vegetarian, I do sometimes think veggie/vegan versions or meat-stuff can be a bit strange). Anyway, we will be in one of our favorite East Coast cities this weekend...Philadelphia! Trip reviews and details to follow (perhaps in the form of "mobile blogs" from my phone).

Travel light and create a magical weekend!

P.S. Happy Independant Music Day (and 4th of July)!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Making Envelopes: A (sort of) Tutorial:

It's July already? Seriously....as they say, time flies when you're having fun...Anyway...
It's no secret that I love mail. So, when I saw this envelope template over at Etsy Labs I got really excited. Now there's an easy way to make envelopes out of almost anything you want!