Around the World in 37 Days

Okay, I know I’ve been absolutely terrible at this ‘blogger’ thing, especially since it’s been five months since my last post.  So with the acceptance that I’ve kind of dropped off the edge of the world and been absent from writing these little updates on my life, here I am with a new set of posts that I’ll hopefully be able to successfully finish writing. Some of you who aren’t the kind family and friends that read these posts may not know what I have been up to in the past five months, so here goes.

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As the spring hit Seattle, I was eager to finish up my third year at University of Washington, because summer meant more adventures – and this being my last true summer ‘vacation’ meant that I was absolutely set on making this one for the books. However, my home away from home, a little apartment that I shared with my two best friends, would not be there when I returned. With Emily graduating and leaving us for the beautiful San Diego, Julia and I both found new and exciting places to live for our last year as college students – a bit sad to close the book on our little home, but we absolutely couldn’t send Emily off without a proper celebration. A girls day spent getting mani pedi’s was such a treat and then we surprised her with a gathering of our best friends, because you can’t leave college without a graduation party!  Our night ended with a late night run to Dick’s Burgers (an absolute Seattle must-do), so you know that the night was a success.

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Just a day later, my mom was arriving from Sacramento to help me pack up my little Subaru to get back to California for the summer. The start of my summer was definitely just as crazy as the rest of my summer – my mom and I powered our way down I-5 & 13 hours later we pulled into the driveway to be greeted by my dad and of course, two very happy puppies. Less than a day later, I was on a 5 AM flight to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to partake in the festivities of my cousin Peter’s wedding to the absolutely wonderful Caroline. With the beautiful backdrop of the Museum of Natural History, we toasted to the happy couple whilst adorable photos of the two went up on the screen. My cousins and I sang, danced and celebrated the night away – one of the best little reunions we’ve had this far! With all of us getting older, and me being the one of the youngest, we’ve got a lot more weddings coming up soon, so more reunions to come! We’re a crazy family, but there’s no doubt that I love them.

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Soon after my arrival back to the West Coast, I was driving off to my first day of a summer internship with Food Literacy Center, a non-profit that aims at making food education a norm for children. I’ve always had an interest in the culinary world, hence my internship with this organization, but I never knew how much food education could change someone’s life. By the end of my short six week internship, I was choked up to see the light on a child’s face when they could identify the parts of a plant and hum in delight when they got to make guacamole or a sunflower butter sandwich. Of course there are numerous stories about my time with Food Literacy Center, but being that I’ve been terrible blogger for the past five months, I’ll start my posts with something that happened a bit more recently.

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Five weeks ago, I embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. Thirty-seven days that would take me from the San Francisco International Airport across the world – experiencing five different countries, five different currencies & meeting up with my friends that are dotted all over the world. So, this is where I’ll begin, where the stories and travel notes from my adventures will make there way onto this blog. It’s been less than three days since I actually touched back down onto American soil, and I’m excited more than ever to go back through my notes from these travels.  Here’s to a new and fresh start with this blog and hopefully some good tips for anyone looking for how to do a solo trip around the world or simply some adventures to embark on.

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Thank you all who take the time to read & I sure hope you enjoy the posts to come about these worldly adventures!

Weekend Trip: Napa Valley and Marin, California

When it comes to weekends, I’m either stressed to the max with papers or exams that are coming up. Those days are usually spent half procrastinating (because what kind of college student would I be if I didn’t procrastinate) and half actually getting my work done. Man alive, I was pumped when a long weekend came up at the end of midterms that let me get on a plane headed to California without a stitch of schoolwork in my bag. Sunshine was the only thing on my mind – well that and the fact that I’d probably return to Seattle with a bit of a sunburn. I landed after an hour delay on the runway and was welcomed by huge smiles on the faces of my mom and grandparents as they sneakily surprised me!

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A traffic-filled drive back through downtown Sacramento was accompanied by a phone interview for one of the summer internships I’ve applied for – crossing my fingers that summer plans will be full of excitement and adventure, because I’m too addicted to travel after my time in London. Finally home, the squealing duo of Ella and Lady (my two pups) attacked me and got me in the right mood for a fun weekend home. After an obligatory Mexican food dinner, I ran off for a fun evening of shenanigans with my Sacramento girls (Joce, Courtney and Cat) – nights with those girls end up in stitches of laughter and too many smiles that your cheeks hurt the next day.

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Valentine’s morning woke me up with some dogs barking, so I was off to go on a walk with my mom before we headed out for a Napa weekend. I don’t think there is anything better than a weekend spent in the place that brings you the most joy – Napa is just that for me. I’ve basically been raised up there … riding the ATV’s through the meadows and jumping on the trampoline until the sun goes down. Now that I’m a bit older, getting a few days up there a year is the best form of relaxation (and soon I’ll be able to enjoy Napa’s wine reputation – yay birthdays!)! The night couldn’t have worked out better… we headed down to Main Street to see if there was any wait at our favorite restaurant, Cook, and were delightfully surprised that they could fit us in for a quick dinner despite having a full night of reservations! Yippee!! That creamy parmesan polenta and brown butter brussel sprouts are perhaps some of the best bites I’ve had.

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I’ve got to say – waking up to a breathtaking view of Napa Valley and the sunshine already warming up your skin might just be the best way to start a day. The sunburn I was anticipating was already starting to form (thank you Seattle clouds). We grabbed a tasty veggie bagel at Model Bakery before we ventured into my mom’s hometown of Novato. The best pit stop was at the Marin French Cheese Company – brie and sweet pepper jam tasters paired with sunshine and the dogs being able to get out for a little walk. Is there anything better?

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On our way back home, we took the back roads through Lucas Valley and were absolutely stunned by the amount of twists and turns the road had. The two lane highway made it all worth it when we came across a random redwood forest that spanned the length of the road until we got onto 101. If there’s any reason to live on the West Coast, you’ve got to visit the Bay Area during those ‘winter’ months. Highs of 75 degrees Fahrenheit and endless sunshine – what is winter again? The 18 years I lived in California growing up has clearly affected me more than I thought – true winters will probably be the end of me if I ever end up on the East Coast.

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Being back in Sacramento for a short while before I boarded my plane back to my home away from home in Seattle lifted my spirits enough to get me through the next few weeks of research papers and finals. Only one month until birthday celebrations (yay, finally 21!) and spring break! I had a hard goodbye to my little valley town with the sun glowing a bright pink and orange on our way to the airport, but the amazing welcome back party that picked me up at the airport was enough to bring a smile back to my face. Thanks for the spirit lifting Tay, Julia and Emily – couldn’t be happier to have you as a part of my college family.

IMG_5914What spring adventures are you hoping for? How are you surviving your winter? Get talking in the comments below!

Until next time, catch me on instagram.

The Swing of Things

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New years bring about new resolutions, new ideas, new cities and schedules. Getting home from London meant a few weeks of getting over my travel exhaustion all while secretly planning the next trip – alright, maybe not so secret based on the amount of time I spent talking about it.  The thing with the new year is that all of the new things you begin to experience inherently mean change. I’ve never been that great with feeling comfortable in a changing area (just ask my parents, they’ve definitely experienced a few of my freak outs).  This year, I’m resolving to accept change like I did in the past year. Moving forward with the things that come my way and taking them thankfully. After 3 months of constant change and traveling, the three weeks I spent at home were warmly welcomed because they offered comfort and relaxation.  There’s really nothing better than some quiet family time to get you back on your feet.

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I’ve been back in Seattle for a week now & I’m struggling with the idea of getting back into the swing of things. The funny thing is, you really have no choice when it comes to ‘the swing of things’  – you’re either with it or you’re completely uncomfortable. This week has consisted of a lot of effort to get back to the level of comfort I felt in this beautiful and often rainy city just 7 months ago; there’s no doubt in my mind that the adventures I had in the last semester have changed me and I just have to learn how to re-adapt to my city.  There is definitely some anxiousness to come back into a life that continued on for the time you were gone, but also immense comfort that the people you know will always have your back when you’re feeling that way. With these lessons in mind, my sista (from another mista) and I journeyed the 12 hours up Interstate 5 to Seattle. Meg and I have been friends since before birth, so the long road trip was nothing but fun and a few wrong turns – whoopsie daisies!

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Ask anyone who has driven up or down the west coast – when you go south of Sacramento, Interstate 5 is not the most pleasant drive (thank you cattle farms). But when you drive north, the road is full of stunning mountain-scapes and endless trees.  Thankfully, Megan endured listening to the podcast Serial again while we drove, and I was quickly obsessed. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon for this podcast, it’s a must – definitely creepy, but so so addicting. We chased a huge fog bank all the way through Oregon until we stopped to fuel up on some Chipotle in Eugene.  Shortly after 6 PM, we pulled into my home away from home and began the effort of unloading all the boxes I felt were absolutely necessary to bring with me back up north.  A day full of driving had us exhausted, so the unpacking was left for the next few days as we took an early night.  I’ve got to say – after traveling around, I was amazed at the beauty of the Pacific Northwest & the entire West Coast in general.  Adventures in this area are definitely coming soon, because I can’t just stop all the fun of exploring, now can I?!

IMG_4906Walking back on the UW campus made me realize that there are very few sights that are greater than Mount Rainier showing itself early on a winter morning. I felt stunned into silence, even though I was rushing to my class (I might have forgotten just how big UW’s campus is). Regardless of the anxiety that sits in the back of my mind, I’m glad to be back with some of my dearest friends and catch up on all that I’ve missed out on. For the new year, I’ll be working on pursuing dreams of continued travel, education, and health. Soon, I’ll be back with some recipe ideas that will impress your friends and give your taste buds a burst of flavor, so keep an eye out!

What are your resolutions this year? What do you do to conquer anxiety and change? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below!

Until next time, catch me here on instagram or become a part of The Rambling Reed community on Facebook.

 

 

Thanksgiving: London Edition

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Thanksgiving. That day where there’s the smell of a turkey roasting and family gathers from near and far, might just be my favorite. There’s something about the festive beginning to the holiday season…maybe it’s all the delicious food around, but I like to think that it’s the knowledge that you get to see your family every few weeks in the upcoming months. This year, I’m not surrounded by my incredible family members in the gorgeous Napa Valley – because I’m away in London on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. While I’m not there to tell my family what I am thankful for this year, I thought I’d put it in writing.

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Every Thanksgiving I can remember starts with my dad and I up early and preparing the turkey to be put in the roaster while sipping on hot coffee or some tea. We usually spend a few nights up in St. Helena at our family home and have the chatter of family life going on all around us as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade blasts from the main room.  Sure I’m feeling a little homesick today, especially because I don’t get to be involved in the hub-bub of thanksgiving day, but this adventure I’ve been on for the last few months has been one I wouldn’t trade in for the world. Thanksgiving is all about recognizing what you’re thankful in life, because most of us don’t realize how good we have it until we’re forced to really think it through.

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While I’m not with my amazing siblings this year, I’m extremely thankful for the relationship that we have and knowing that we’ll be together in just two short weeks. Nothing compares to the love of family. And specifically with siblings, there’s no one else I’d rather bicker with and then later make up with a hug and an ATV ride through the vineyard. It’s pretty silly to be sitting here in the library with a grin as wide as the ocean thinking about my family, but what can I say – I love them pretty dang much.

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Not many people get the opportunity to move 5000 miles away to a new city in a new country and have the time of their lives. This adventure is everything and more I could have asked for. I’ve made friends I know will last a lifetime, memories that will never fade, and traveled to places I’ve only ever dreamed of. This may all sound cliché and cheesy, but I don’t know when else I can get away with putting my thankfulness in writing.  This little London family I’ve come to know will make it impossibly hard to leave my study abroad home, but I’m fortunate enough to know that I’ll be back to explore soon enough.

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Speaking of adventure, I’m so amazed by the places the last three months have taken me. I could not have made it to the other side of the world to continue adventuring without the help of the other study abroad friends I’ve made here. This experience has gotten me out of my shell and made me realize that the great big world really isn’t all that big and hard to get to. The knowledge that the globe is filled with incredible places waiting to be experienced is one of the most major things I’ve taken out of this time. So thank you to the girls and guys that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and travel with – you’ve really made me feel a little bit more at home in great big London and I hope we travel to see each other when we’re back home in the states as well.

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I came here completely alone, not knowing a single soul. It’s pretty amazing that I’ve had little to no homesickness and even crazier to think that in two short weeks, I’ll be reunited with my family. I know I talk about how much this adventure has truly meant to me a little too much, but I simply can’t recommend a study abroad experience enough. It’s changed the way that I view the world and view myself – knowing that I have what it takes to pack up and go exploring is some of the most liberating knowledge I gained from this. So, thank you Mom and Dad for giving me the experience of a lifetime – I’ll be forever grateful.

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Knowing that I return home to the states in a few weeks makes me realize how amazing California is. I’m so thankful for the friends that have stuck with me through my crazy years and for the home I’ve made in Seattle.  To my Sacramento friends, I can’t wait to see you shortly and thank you for always being there to cheer me up.  To my Seattle friends, I can’t help but quiver in excitement for the reunion that comes so soon! That city on the Sound is near and dear to my heart, and I really can’t wait to be back in January.

IMG_3433The sun is setting soon on this study abroad experience, but as you can see I’ve had the time of my life. I’m sad to think that I have to leave this incredible city – it’s comforting to know that when I come back, I’ll have a little group of friends to visit and make some new memories with. Happy Thanksgiving to you where ever you are in this crazy world – have a double serving of pumpkin pie for me!

What are you thankful for this year?

Love,

Laura Reed

 

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

IMG_6793Key limes. Lots and lots of them.  You see, I got this craving for key lime pie and didn’t exactly want to spend the hours waiting for pie crust to rest, so obviously I made it into ice cream.  Super simple ice cream that doesn’t require making a custard beforehand, because we have already established how little patience I have.  This is the most decadent, tart, and wonderful substitute for a slice of key lime pie. It may not be as good as the slice of heaven from Rick’s Dessert Diner in midtown Sacramento, but it’s close, and that’s just fine with me. 

IMG_6821My kitchen partner-in-crime trudged over to my house with electric ice cream maker in hand to aid in making this magnificent creation.  We zested each painfully small lime and then realized that juicing them gave us a measly drop of juice per half. By all means, feel free to use bottled key lime juice – I love Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key Lime Juice, if you want a short cut. This recipe already only takes about ten minutes of mixing the base before freezing, but the easier the better!  IMG_6717

This recipe reminds me of the long summer we get in California, spent walking around with my pups. Ladybug sat patiently and modeled as I took in yet another incredible sunset on the American River.   Night after night, it’s this incredible.  This summer has been so relaxing, being able to spend it with family and adventuring around the country.  I hope this recipe reminds you of something sweet and summery. If not, what reminds you of summer? What do you have left to cross of your summer bucket list? Let me know it the comments below! 

IMG_6789Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

1 ½ cup Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 ½ cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1 cup Key Lime Juice

2 T Lime Zest

Graham Crackers to garnish

Mix condensed milk, cream and lime juice together in medium sized bowl. Add zest and mix thoroughly.  (Note: you may need to double recipe if your freezer is larger than 4 Quarts).

Make sure paddle is sat in groove before placing top on canister. I always use a layer of plastic wrap to make sure no rock salt ruins the ice cream mixture in the process.  Layer ice and rock salt around canister and follow instructions on maker to freeze.  If you’re using a hand crank mixer, when the handle gets hard to turn, the mixture is frozen.  For the motorized freezers, make sure to listen to the motor so it does not overheat.  

Serve with a graham cracker for garnish & enjoy!