Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Staying fit & healthy (ish) on holiday

If you would like to see all my travel posts, including recaps, tips & recommendations and packing guides, please visit my travel page.

When I'm on holiday, I don't want to completely disregard my healthy habits and feel like crap when I return.  However, I also don't want to miss out on any of the good food. Unfortunately, I'm not 18 anymore so eating all the food makes me gain all the weight. It also makes me feel sick after too many days of heavy food and dessert with no nutritional value. But I'm not willing to give up all that food, so what's a girl to do?


Now, as a runner, you'd think that it was easy to stay in shape while on holiday. Just bring your running shoes and something to wear, right? But even for someone who has travelled alone and moved to the other side of the world, that scares me. I get lost easily and I'd be afraid I'd get Taken or end up lost without being able to ask for help or use my trusty phone to get me out of the mess I'd gotten myself into.

I also generally don't make time for running when I'm on holiday. Now I didn't say I didn't have time, because we all know we have time we just have to make time - so there you go, I just don't make time for running when I'm on holiday. I'm too busy holidaying.



Before I went to Europe, I buckled down and watched what I ate and exercised like a mad person. I lost quite a bit of weight. I was really proud of myself, plus I fit into those damn jeans. I figured I would gain it all back with all that food. I also wouldn't care because hello, holiday.

But.. nope. The day after I got home, I weighed myself. 3lbs heavier. A couple of days later, after settling back into normal food and workouts, I was the same weight as before. I was definitely a bit softer and my jeans were a bit more fitted, but not bad.

When we went to Australia, we ate a lot and I gained quite a bit of weight. Like, way more than what I gained (or didn't) in Europe. I'm too embarrassed to admit how much but I will tell you it was a 2 digit number. It also took me forever to shift the weight.

So what was the difference between the 2 trips?

We walked.



Woah. Mind blowing, right? But seriously. In Australia, we drove everywhere, caught the train or the bus. Sydney and Melbourne are walkable cities, but in both cities we stayed with family outside of the city. You can't walk from my childhood home to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It would take you all day, but also you'd get run over or thrown into the back of a cop car. But we did a lot of sitting and laying around. We weren't really there for sightseeing though.

But Paris, Rome and Dublin? We walked (almost) everywhere. Except for getting to and from the airports, we walked to the majority of our destinations. No hop on hop off buses, no taxis, just a little bit of metro. We basically did 4 sightseeing tours - Versailles, where we biked 10 miles. Rome, 2 tours where we walked the entire time. Dublin, this was the only tour on wheels, and it was the Viking Splash Tour and it was pretty fun.

For everything else, we used mastercard. Wait, sorry. We walked everywhere else. I planned our itineraries and grouped things that were closer together. If I didn't plan, we might have gotten overwhelmed visiting Sacre Coeur because it was about 5 miles away from our hotel. But because I planned how we could walk there and things to see on the way, we barely noticed.



I totally believe that the best way to see a city is on foot. I know some cities aren't walkable, and sometimes it's midnight in a strange place and you don't feel like walking back to your hotel. I get that. But I know what I'm like, and if I am metro-ing to all the things I want to see, I'm going to hop off the metro, walk to the place, take a photo, hop right back on the metro. I know that is completely my fault and not the metro's fault, but I recognise my laziness and choose not to give myself that option.

I don't want to pretend we didn't use the metro at all in Europe, because we totally did (and it was super easy!). I had crazy allergies our last day in Paris and didn't feel like doing all the walking, so we did a mix of walking and metro. Overall though, I'd say the holiday was 80% walking and 20% other means of transport, which I'd say is pretty good.

As for sightseeing though, I have no desire to do a hop on hop off bus when I could walk everywhere myself. If things are far away - different story. But if it's somewhere like NYC, Rome or Paris? Everything is walkable! Or bikable.


So walk. That's my advice / experience. Walk everywhere and it'll all even out.

However, we all know abs are made in the kitchen and though I don't particularly care to have a six pack, I'm not delusional enough to think that walking everywhere means I can eat everything in sight.

I love good food when I travel... and by good food, I really mean bad for you food. Desserts especially. I wish I could say that every single meal was bad (and therefore awesome) but continuously eating bad food makes me feel lethargic and grumpy, not to mention the whole celiac thing.


But I'm not missing out on all the good food, so here is what I do:

- I try and have at least one good, healthy meal each day. Like eggs for breakfast, a salad for lunch, lean meat and veggies for dinner. But not all in one day otherwise that would be boring.
- Don't forget fruits and veggies - I normally forget that these exist on holiday. But I made sure to eat fruit with breakfast if there was an option, and veggies with lunch or dinner. It doesn't offset the bad stuff, but it means I eat less of the bad stuff, so basically, yeah it does. You can see there are berries in the above cake. Promise.
- I try and limit my snacks to two a day. I would say one a day but let's be real. This is me we are talking about. Some days I did one, but only because a main meal was just as decadent as a treat. Some days I did more than 2, but hey gelato is basically water. Or whatever.
- I made my eyes smaller than my stomach. If that even makes sense. I am the worst at getting way more food than I can actually eat. I also eat snacks or dessert even when I'm not hungry. So if there was a 'half' or smaller portion, I chose that. It might not have completely filled me up, but I knew I would be snacking on something sooner rather than later, so it evened out. My instinct is to get the biggest serving (like 4 scoops of gelato) but I tried to be sensible and just get 2 scoops... and then another 2 scoops a few hours later because hello I was in Rome.


I also tried to limit my gluten, which wouldn't be an issue for anyone else so it's not mentioned up there. A little or a lot, I'm still going to be sick either way, but there's no need to push it. There were (surprisingly) a lot of gluten free pizza and pasta options, plus I stuck with all the naturally gluten free stuff (like macarons) or just had little bites of KC's stuff.

I refuse to 'diet' on holiday. I know some people (including KC) don't want to ruin all their hard work or healthy habits, but I want to enjoy my holiday. I know there are a bazillion 'hotel workouts' and what not, but that's not for me.  I don't enjoy working out on holiday. I have before, definitely. If there is a hotel gym I'll jump on the treadmill. But I prefer not to.  However, with all that walking and the whole I'm not 18 anymore thing, my body gets super tight and sore (especially after biking around Versailles in skinny jeans) so yoga is a must for me. Nothing crazy, just a little bit in the morning and night.

I'm not gonna come back fitter than when I left just because I walked everywhere. It's not going to make me lose weight. But it does make me feel a bit better, thus helps me make better choices. But let's not get too crazy here, we're on holiday!

Linking up with Alyssa and Tracy!

alyssagoesbang

Do you do any kind of exercise when you're on holiday?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Top 10 books of 2015 (so far)

Oh, HI! I'M BACK! Did you miss me? I missed you all! Thank you so much to the lovely ladies who guest posted here, love you bunches. I am pretty sure I'm all caught up on my blog reading, I didn't do the whole arrive back and try to go back to work the next day like last time. Don't worry, I am going to inundate you all with photos and recaps and tips and all the things soon (though you might be sick of me if you've been following me on the gram), but first I'll just share this gem with you.



Versailles was seriously one of  the best parts of the trip. Absolutely loved it.

I can't believe we are halfway through 2015 - where is life going?! I have read a lot of good books this year (and okay some bad ones too!) and I wanted to share them just in case you haven't read them yet. The link up is for tomorrow but I wanted to have my cake and eat it too, aka Training for Tuesday is tomorrow.

So, Top Ten Mondays. These are just books I have read, not necessarily published this year.


1. Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson


It wouldn't be a list of books from Kristen if there wasn't some kind of regency romance on here. I loved this one because it was written for a modern audience and I think people would enjoy this even if regency is not their thing.

2. The Martian by Andy Weir

Why, yes I will recommend this book at every possible chance. If you can get a hold of the audiobook, even better - it helps to understand the sciencey and maths stuff. Love love love loved this book.

A photo posted by Kristen (@seeyouinaporridge) on

3. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I think this should be mandatory reading for everyone.

4The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I really enjoyed this book (duh, or it wouldn't be on this list) though it's probably my least favourite on the list - that sounds bad, but I just mean it didn't stay with me as long as the others or change my life. But I still loved it.
I take that back. I was getting it confused with another book that I enjoyed but didn't love. I HIGHLY recommend The Storied Life. So good.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I wish I had read this years ago. Seriously.


6. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I still randomly think about this book, and I read it in February. I don't know why, I just really enjoyed it.

7. The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley

Ah, this book. This book. So many feels. Such a hard topic to think about, let alone read about (or write about, kudos to you Sibley). I loved this book, even with all the tears it made me spill.

8. The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

Okay this list is about enjoyment not literary masterpieces, and I gobbled this book up like the fatty I am would gobble up cake. No shame in my Royal loving game. It's not technically about Kate Middleton, but details schmetails.



9. Still Alice by Lisa Genova

This wasn't an easy read for me because I like to live in my bubble and ignore things like this. I almost didn't want to read this book, but I got over myself and read it. I really, really loved it. It was so unbelievably heartbreaking and depressing. But I loved it. Which makes no sense, I know.

10. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

This might be my favourite book this year, tied with The Martian. Perhaps because with both of them, I went into it thinking 'well everyone else loved this but I doubt I will'. I also had no idea what The Sea of Tranquility was about before I started, but I absolutely loved it.


Linking up with The Broke and The Bookish.


http://www.brokeandbookish.com/

Don't forget Training for Tuesday is tomorrow!

alyssagoesbang

What's the best book you've read this year?

Friday, June 26, 2015

10 Ways to save on your wedding - Bestie Guest Post

Hey all! To end my little guest post series, I asked Megan to do another guest post and she thankfully obliged. This time she's going to share 10 ways that she saved on her wedding, and if you are getting married in the foreseeable future, perhaps these will help you. 

  
10 ways to save on your wedding

Hello again faithful See you in a Porridge readers! It’s ye’ old bestie here for another guest post while Kristen is off frolicking in Europe :)

So lets get right down to it! I recently came across my “Wedding Spreadsheet” on our laptop the other day and thought – “wow, we did well.” So I thought I would share some of my personal tips on how you can save some money and still have a magical day with your friends, family, and most importantly – you partner <3

FYI - This list is not in any specific order and I thought I would also add some fun photo’s and gifs because why not?!




 1.  Don’t have a long engagement. So I know most of the time this is unavoidable for many reasons, but I felt personally that the longer I had to plan the more money I would end up spending…. Also, a short engagement = less time you have to change your mind (and change your mind again, and again). Side note – I had roughly 12 weeks total from getting engaged to saying “I Do”.

10 ways to save on your wedding

2.  Figure out what your 3 MUST HAVES are and let those be the things you will splurge on no matter what. Have dreamed of a certain dress since you were a little girl? Do it. Or maybe you want to have a complete open bar? If it is a must have, do it.




3.  Try and find a venue that is already decorated/doesn’t need a lot of work.  The “small things” add up very quickly. Maybe there is an old historic home in your city that is already beautiful but a bit pricier that the old rustic barn that is empty. Keep in mind you may spend a fortune on decorations for the barn that you will be stuck with at the end of the night…

10 ways to save on your wedding


4.  Open Bar with Beer and wine only - NO LIQUOR. In my experience, an open bar with beer and wine is perfectly sufficient for a wedding.  Your guests are getting this wonderful free night of celebration on your tab and liquor is suuuper expensive and it never fails – there is always a handful of guests that take way to many shots and get messy…. And who wants to deal with that shit?



5.  Do your own flowers! This was both cheap and fun for me to do. So if you are even the least bit crafty – go for it!! You can get flowers quite cheap at your local costco or supermarket.  Remember Pinterest is your friend. Do a practice bouquet a few weeks before and if you have a wedding party – have them help! (side note – I did Kristen’s wedding flowers as well as my own J)

10 ways to save on your wedding



6.  Don’t get a DJ. My biggest nightmare was paying $500+ for a DJ and him/her not playing what I wanted to hear on my wedding day- and I just plain and simple didn’t have the money to fork out for a DJ… We (with the help of Kristen’s Hubby) downloaded our favorite songs and made an “arrival/dinner” playlist and a “Dance/Party” playlist. We then rented speakers, amp, mic etc. and paid a close friend 100 bucks to announce us into the party. All together cost us $140 for our “DJ”.
Note from Kristen: we did the same thing and if I do say so myself, our wedding was a blast.


7.  Do your own makeup. So I know this kind of a hard one, but just hear me out. There are SO many tips, blogs, youtube how-to’s that I feel with enough practice and the right tools, any lady could do it! Have a little faith in yourself and go for it!! My personal tip is go to your local Sephora or department store and buy the expensive super long wear foundation. I did – and I didn’t regret it. And lastly – practice, practice, practice!!!! Then practice one more time.



8. Skip the engagement photo session. Now again – if this (or any of these are on your Must Have list) please feel free to skip the advice. This was just something that personally was not important for me. My husband and I paid for our entire wedding (minus a couple of things our parents gifted us) and when we talked about engagement pictures we were both like “eh”. So that was easily omitted from the running tally of purchases.




9 Don’t worry about what anyone says or thinks about your wedding plans. Easier said than done. But taking opinions personally can really persuade decision making- thus you could end up spending money on things you didn’t initially plan on.  If you just can’t afford to have the photo booth or you only really have the money for Hors d'oeuvres vs a full dinner – who cares?! It’s your day and if they don’t like – well they can stay at home… sorry not sorry.




10.  Make sure the person you’re marrying is more important than the wedding itself. This kinda goes without saying, but if you're not happy deep down or have serious doubts about marriage…. Well you already know.  None of this is worth it if you aren’t happy at the end of it all. The wedding is the icing on the cake. I had so much fun planning and doing wedding stuff because I was just so gosh darn excited to marry my man!!! I know cheesy but true!


Well hope you enjoyed and maybe were able to take away at least one of these tips! Happy wedding planning!!!




Thursday, June 25, 2015

Guest Post by Nadine

Last but certainly not least, Nadine is guest posting for me today. Nadine is absolutely hilarious and shares tons of awesome stuff on her blog and always has the best looking food on Monday mornings when I'm trying to be 'good'. You definitely need to read her blog, if you aren't already!

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Hello there! I am Nadine and I blog over at Life by Nadine Lynn. I was honored when Kristen asked me to guest post while she gallivants all over Europe. (Totally jealous over here.) While Europe seems great and all, I am here to convince Kristen (and you!) that you need to come down south to visit some time! It's like venturing to another country, I promise. If you asked me fifteen years ago where I would be living, the last place I would have told you was Alabama. You see, I am from Pennsylvania. My dad got transferred a lot for work when we were younger, we moved to a few different places before we ended up in Atlanta, Georgia. I loved Atlanta! I got to experience living in several different areas around town. (Midtown, Buckhead, the 4th Ward District.) Then I fell in love with a boy from Bama and decided to move to Birmingham. Alabama is actually quite awesome. Let me show you!

1. Food Scene - Birmingham has become quite the foodie town! We have several five star chefs around the area and new restaurants are constantly popping up around town. I could go on, but let me just show you!
Alabama Food Scene
 

2. Get your drink on - Do you know what goes great with all of our food? Beer!!! We have several amazing breweries right here in Birmingham and surrounding cities. We also have some pretty cool cocktail bars as well!
Alabama Beer
Cahaba Brewing, Cheaha Brewing, Avondale Brewing, Good People, Back Forty Beer Company, and Trim Tab

3. Beaches, and lakes and mountains - oh my! - Did you know that Alabama has all the usual "vacation destinations" right here at home? Within a few minutes or hours from any point in the state you can be at a lake relaxing on a pontoon boat, hiking up the mountain or lying on the white sand beaches of the gulf coast (my favorite beach in the world.)

Alabama Views
Gulf Shores, Alabama, Oak Mountain State Park (we got married here!!) and Logan Martin Lake. 


4. Birmingham Attractions - Hit up all the touristy parts of town while you are here!
Catch a Baron's game at Regions Field, say hello to Vulcan at Vulcan Park, walk around the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, stroll through Railroad Park and sample food from the food trucks, and get your heart racing at the haunted Sloss Furnaces.
Birmingham Alabama Atrractions
5. Shop - We have lots of great shopping here in Birmingham!!! Whether you are looking for some new clothes, cool art or just something weird to remember your visit...you can find it here!
  birmingham shoppingDowntown Homewood, What's on 2nd, Riverchase Galleria, Shops at Grand Rivers (outlets) and The Summit. If you head on down to Alabama, give me a call! We can have a dance party in the light tunnel!

light-tunnel-300x225
 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Guest Post by Olya

Today I have fellow expat and travel-lover Olya from The Siberian American. She's always got the most detailed travel recommendations and she's one of my daily reads. If you don't follow her already, what are you waiting for?


Hey there, See You In a Porridge readers. My name is Olya, and I blog over at The Siberian American. When Kristen asked me to guest post for her while she’s in Europe, I knew I wanted to write a post about something we both love—books! This time of year, I love nothing more than to sit by the pool or hang out on the beach with a fun read. Here are some of my favorite summer reads:


Anything by Kate Morton:
I love being swept into Kate Morton’s stories. Written in a past-present format, her historical fictions are centered on a mystery that takes many twists and turns to unravel. My favorite book is The Secret Keeper, followed by The Forgotten Garden, but they have all been good.


Eight Hundred Grapes: A Novel by Laura Dave: 
Love, secrets, and lots of wine—what else would you want from a summer read? I read this book while on a California Road Trip, which was perfect timing. If you’re looking to read a book with your favorite glass of wine, Eight Hundred Grapes is a great choice.


You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane:
I love all of Mhairi McFarlane’s books, but You Had Me at Hello is my favorite. I love the story of Ben and Rachel, who were friends in university, but had not spoken in 10 years when they randomly bump into each other. The book was romantic, sweet, and funny. I can’t wait to pick up another Mhairi McFarlane book to read by the pool this summer!


The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams:  
As you can already tell, I am a sucker for a good historical fiction, especially if it is a past-present format (though in this case, “present” is 1964). Vivian Schuyler receives a suitcase in the mail that once belonged to Violet, a great-aunt she had no idea existed. As she begins to dig into Violet’s past, she discovers family secrets others are desperate to hide. Vivian was one of the best characters I have read in a long time! Her voice was just perfect-I loved how she was a headstrong, no nonsense girl. I also loved the progression of Violet’s story, especially the ending.


Anything by Diane Chamberlain:  
Diane Chamberlain’s books are perfect for a day off. I say a day off because once I start reading one of her books I have a hard time stopping. My favorite is The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes. It was a beautiful novel full of suspense and an interesting perspective on mother/daughter relationships.

I love book suggestions! What are your top summer reads this summer? 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Literary Ladies Summer Reading Challenge - Preliminary List & Link Up

Happy Sunday! Erm, I mean Fathers Day apparently. First off, Fathers Day is a different date at home, and second of all, I don't have a father so happy book club preliminary list and link up day! 

Here is my preliminary list - which very well might change.

1. A YA book (mandatory!) - The Maze Runner by James Dashner
2. Non US Author  (mandatory!) Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
3. A book that was recommended by a blogger  (mandatory!) Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta recommended by several bloggers.
4. A book that has been on your TBR list for a year or more - The Reader by Bernhard Schlink - bought this in April 2014 and still haven't read it, oops.
5. A book with a kickass female character - Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (I hope she's kickass)
6. A book that is or will be a movie (or TV show) - Paper Towns by John Green
7. A book written by a comedian or celebrity – or even a memoir if neither of those are your jam. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
8. A book with a one word title. Room by Emma Donoghue
9. A suspenseful book – a mystery, a thriller, a book about revenge! You by Caroline Kepnes
10. A book about Summer, with Summer in the title, or in any way related to Summer because this is a Summer challenge!  The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han.


I will also be reading Saint Anything for book club. Don't forget you can read that if you want to skip one of the other skippable categories!

If you would like to participate please link up over at Kari's blog because my link up isn't working - if you are not a blogger, or do not wish to do a post then please complete the fancy google forms document.

On the 21st of July & August we will be doing a 'check in' post where you can link up. You can also instagram each book you complete with the hashtag #literaryladies if you do not wish to link up. 


Our final post will be the 21st of September and will be a link up or google forms document if you are not a blogger. 


But seriously, happy fathers day to all the good fathers out there, and I hope you are able to spend it with your father or family. I also hope you join us for this challenge, don't forget there are prizes!


Grab button for Literary Ladies

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Guest Post by Tracy

Today I have asked Tracy from A Change of Pace to guest post, and again - if you aren't following her already you need to be! She's super sweet, badass runner & triathlete, and she's got the capsule wardrobe thing down. Seriously, check her out.
A Change of Pace

Hello, See You in a Porridge readers! I'm Tracy and I blog at A Change of Pace where I ramble about fitness, my obsession with my capsule wardrobe, and life as a teacher-turned-engineering-student. Kristen is one of the sweetest bloggers I know (and I can vouch that she is just as sweet in real life!) and I know she is having the time of her life right now! I'm honored she asked me to help keep you guys entertained while she's off on her dream European adventure!

I became a runner a little over 4 years ago. It's easy for me to define when I became a runner because prior to 4 years ago, I very solidly was not a runner, had never run for more than a couple minutes, and then one day I decided to become one. As I've gotten more into running and made friends with other runners, I've started noticing some of the things that make us runners just a little bit...different. Today I'm sharing some of the things we do that are weird, annoying, and sometimes straight up obnoxious - to ourselves and non-runners alike.


Plaster our cars with stickers. The very first thing I did (okay actually the second thing, the first thing I did was go get a massage) after my first big race, my first half marathon, was make a beeline to my local running store and get myself the 13.1 sticker I had been coveting since my first visit to the store. I've since added a 26.2 (top priority after finishing my first marathon, like I couldn't even make it to dinner before I scooped up one of those precious pieces of vinyl) and a swim-bike-run just for funsies. You should see what the parking lot looks like when I get together with running/triathlon friends! It's obnoxious, sure, but it's a way for me to commemorate some special achievements I never, ever in a billion years imagined I was capable of. I remember seeing those stickers popping up on cars when I became a runner (weird how becoming interested in something suddenly opens our eyes to stuff like that, no?). While I was training for my first half, seeing them, that feeling of wanting to be part of that club, that's what kept me going sometimes.


For the record, I'm also a big fan of 0.0 stickers and those who sport them. I can take a joke.

Speak to each other in various number/letter combinations. PRs/PBs, 5k, 10k what does it all mean?! Sometimes I stand around after races talking with my runner friends for hours, as you do, about the race we just ran, and I'm sure some parts sound like we're speaking in code. For runners, these codes are everything. We know distances like the back of our hands (and are quite adept at converting back and forth from miles to kilometers). There is nothing sweeter than catching up with a friend afterward and hearing them yell those two letters - "I PRed!". Even better yet, being the one yelling! They might not make sense to the people around us, but they're sacred to us.
As if just yelling about a PR weren't good enough, my recent marathon had a PR bell you could ring!
Bitch about the weather. Our weather apps on our phones are our BFFs when we're training, and we stalk that hourly forecast leading up to our run like it's our job. When the weather isn't what we want though? Potential disaster. We see rain in the forecast, we bitch. Too hot, bitch. Too cold, bitch. Windy? Bitch. Basically, if it isn't 60*, partly sunny, with a mild breeze, we're cursing the running gods.

Jog in place at stoplights. We know, it looks like we're following along with our own personal aerobics video, but we don't care. We're not trying to show off, it's just that if it's only going to be a few seconds before we can cross the street, we'd rather just keep our momentum going.

Order all the carbs. True story: in March, I traveled to DC for a runcation with Kristen and Alyssa. We went out to dinner the night before our half marathon and chose an Italian restaurant because pasta. We ordered a huge plate of bruschetta to share between the 3 of us, and we each ordered an overflowing fettuccine alfredo entree. Running + carbs forever.


Stand on the sidewalk staring intently at our wrists. Another scenario where we look stupid out in public. No, we're not reading the world's smallest print novel written on our arms...we're waiting for our GPS watches to sync up. It needs our unbroken stare to find the satellites. I don't know how it works, it's science.

Post Garmin pics on Instagram. You know, sometimes a run is just so good an magical that you feel this overwhelming need to share it with the internet ASAP. And sometimes it's so bad you need to share it so that the Internet can assure you it's not just you. Sometimes you have a perfectly mediocre, nothing special or out of the ordinary run but for some reason that needs to be shared too. Pics or it didn't happen?


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Guest Post by Erin

Today I have a guest post by Erin, who is basically me but opposite. What I mean by that is I'm obviously Australian and I live in America, and Erin is American living in Australia. Sure, she's from Texas and I'm living in Kentucky, but that's just splitting hairs, we're basically twins. I highly suggest you check out her blog if you haven't already!

TexErin-in-SydneyLand


Hi there.  I’m Erin, a Texas woman living in Sydney, Australia – hence, the clever blog name: TexErin-in-SydneyLand.  Kristen and I share a love of books, kitty cats, and swapping stories about living in a country that is not our own.  While Kristen is gallivanting around Europe, c’mon along on a little journey that includes facts, myths, stereotypes, and truths about Australia and Texas. 

(Warning: there will be NO pictures of kangaroos, koalas, or cowboys in this post.  Although without-a-doubt-they-are-cute, we are expanding our knowledge today.)

Brought to you by the good celebrities of Australia and Texas…..join me.


  • Australians say “g’day”; Texans say “howdy”.
  • Australia is the only country in the world that is also a continent; Texas is the only state in the US that was also its own country (from 1836-1845).


  • Australia’s population is 23.13 million; Texas population 26.96 million
  • According to land mass statistics, Australia is about 11 times the size of Texas.



  • 28% of people living in Australia were foreign born – largest populations United Kingdom, New Zealand, China, India, Philippines; 15% of people living in Texas are foreign born – largest populations Mexico, Central America, South America, Asia, Africa (countries not specified); you’ll get better fish & chips in Australia and much better Mexican food in Texas.
  • BUT – this statistic is pretty skewed because there are also an estimated 1.2-1.9 million illegal immigrants in Texas; Australia has approximately 58,000. 



  • After high school, if you go to get a Bachelor’s degree (or Master’s or Doctorate), Australia says you’re going to university or “uni”; Texas calls it going to college.  There are virtually no sports teams in Australia’s university system; Texas wouldn't know what to do with itself if there were no college football games.
  • Australia has Medicare, a publicly funded universal healthcare system plus private healthcare is also available; In Texas, 24% of residents are uninsured.  Taxpayers, Texans with insurance, and employers who offer healthcare end up paying extra to care for the uninsured.  Australians do not understand why Americans don’t have universal healthcare. 



  • In Australia, 61% report to be Christian while 22.3% report “no religion”; In Texas (depending on whose report you believe) anywhere from 83.3% - 93.7% report to be Christian.  Both have small populations of Buddhism, Hindu, Islam, and Judaism.  I've explained to Australians that where I grew up, I knew people to be Baptist, other Protestant, or Catholic.  I never met a person who admitted to be an atheist until I was in my late 20’s or early 30’s. 
  • The world’s largest cattle station is in Australia (Anna Creek) and is 30,028 square km (almost the same size as Belgium); The largest cattle ranch in the US is in Texas (King Ranch); it’s one/tenth of the size of Australia’s.  You can get great steaks in both Australia and Texas. 



  • The homicide rate in Australia is 1.2 per 100,000 people; In Texas, the homicide rate is 4.3 per 100,000.  You’re more likely to get murdered in Texas.
  • In Australia, it is estimated that there are 15 guns per every 100 persons; In the USA, there are 90 guns per every 100 persons; In Texas, there are approximately 51 million firearms (remember, the population of Texas is close to 27 million)…Texans like their guns. 



  • In Australia, it is not a given that there is a washer & dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator in an apartment or house that you rent; in Texas, I never rented a place without any of these appliances.
  • In Australia, it is not a given that an apartment or home is going to have air conditioning; In Texas, Houston has been called “the most air-conditioned city in the world”.   I’m from Houston.  I didn't do well in my first couple of dwellings without a/c.  I did not cope well at all.



  • Australians really aren't that fond of people calling them ma’am or sir; In Texas, it means that you weren't raised right if you don’t use these “terms of respect”.
  • Australians like to curse.  A lot.  It is even common to hear the big “see-you-next-Tuesday” bomb on a regular basis; In Texas, it is considered impolite to curse in most public settings; many men don’t curse around women; women can be looked down upon if they regularly use curse words.



  • Australians Mel Gibson (1985), Hugh Jackman (2008), and Chris Hemsworth (2014) have been named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive; so have Texans Patrick Swayze (1991) and Matthew McConaughey (2005).  Hot men?  Advantage Australia.

Behold the beauty of Hemsworth DNA.  No gif or meme needed, but it is XL so you can get a good look.  You're welcome.



  • According to annual Maxim’s Hot 100, three Texas born women have been listed #1 – Jennifer Garner (2002), Jessica Simpson (2004, 2008), and Eva Longoria (2005, 2006).  No Australian women have topped this list.  Also, Beyonce.  If I could look like any woman in the world, I would choose Beyonce.  Advantage Texas. 


Fun facts about Australia:

  • Former Prime Minister was once listed in the Guinness Record Book for “skulling” (chugging) 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds.
  •  In 1902, Australia was the 2nd country in the world that gave women the right to vote.
  • The current Aboriginal population is approximately 500,000 and have been in Australia for approximately 50,000 years.
  • Wombat poop is cube-shaped.
  • Australian mines (are large, lucrative industry) cover less land mass than Australian pubs.


Fun facts about Texas:

  •  Texas came from the Native American Hasinai people from the word “Tejas” meaning “friends” or “allies”.
  • The Texas Medical Center (Houston, TX) is the world’s largest medical complex with over 7 million patient visits per year. 
  •  75% of the world’s Snickers bars are made in Waco, Texas at the M&M/Mars factory.
  • The world’s largest rose garden is in Tyler, Texas with 38,000 rose bushes in over 500 different varieties.
  • Texans consume 109 million pounds of catfish per year.


If you’re still with me, thanks for sticking around, and I hope to see you soon at TexErin-in-SydneyLand!  And, a special thank you to Kristen xo  

Did you learn anything fun/new about Australia or Texas?