Posted by: sforshner | October 22, 2008

this week’s travel finds: the future of the travel blog

Today, Wednesday October 22, 2008, Karen at Europe a la Carte Blog will be hosting and moderating a live online discussion on “The Future of the Travel Blog.” It will take place at 20:00 British Summer Time, 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time and 12:00 Pacific Daylight Time. To find out what time near you, check out time and – a site that has been useful to me on so many occassions.

With an impressive lineup, the discussion should be lively and educational…

Click here to get a preview of their predictions!

Posted by: sforshner | October 21, 2008

travel gear tuesday: pretty & pink

In recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Sparkle Shelf encourages readers to buy PINK during the month of October. Listing some fabulous gear that contributes to the worthy cause, their featured travel item was this Sephora Brush Set:

[Courtesy of  Sparkle Shelf]

If you need a great starter/travel set of makeup brushes, purchasing this PINK set from Sephora for $15, with $1of each purchase donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The kit is equipped with five makeup brushes, including a blush brush, eyeshadow brush, a concealer brush, angled eyeliner brush, and what looks like a sponge-tipped brush. 

It looks perfect for Bare Escentuals addicts like me because it has room for so many brushes…

Posted by: sforshner | October 16, 2008

city girl

That will be me soon!

After our long weekend of apartment hunting, Mike and I have settled on an apartment in Inman Square. While I won’t go into too much detail until I have signed the lease, I will tell you about some of our culinary stops along our search. 

We arrived in Inman Square a bit early for our first apartment on Sunday, so we decided to kill some time by eating a late lunch. Enter City Girl Cafe on 204 Hampshire Street. We thought it was called City Grill at first – and frankly, I am glad because I am not sure Mike would have strolled in with such ease if he hadn’t read it that way. 

But, we both loved it. 

They had me with their decor – it should have been a sign that they would eventually be my new neighbor. 

I bought a similar mirror at a warehouse sale a while back in anticipation of hanging it up in our new place, so I had to take a picture. I also love the different door knobs on the rack above it. And the light switch covers below – are perfect.  

No I am not moving into the cafe, I just seriously loved how homey and welcoming it was. I was in an “about to take a new step in my life phase” and when in such phases, I become addicted to visualizing what said phase will really be like. I set up expectations, I think about it constantly, I make up scenarios, etc.

Anyways, onto the food… we split a delicious baguette:

Turkey & Prosciutto

with fontina cheese, tomatoes, romaine and aioli

The bread looks crusty, but it wasn’t the kind that hurts your gums because you have to bite so hard to break through to the meat – it was just crusty enough. 

On Monday our search continued. After a visit to the attic of a BYOF (F=fridge) three family house in Winter Hill and another attic a third floor one bedroom that was really taken care of, but had a huge master bedroom that only left room for a shoe box kitchen and a moderate living room, a lunch break with Lisa and Bryce was perfect timing. And hey, we were in the area. 

Cambridge Common on 1667 Massachusetts Ave was one of the few places open on that Columbus Day holiday. They had their brunch menu, which is what they always do on a Monday holiday, and it was pretty good. I got a quiche which came with a cup of clam chowder and a salad. Their beer selection is quite large as well – not taking advantage of that is something that I regretted for the entire day.

Remember when I said I’m not really a foodie? It’s worse than I thought – I am the biggest wannabe foodie ever. I always try to be adventurous and sample new things. However, my taste buds are just not as adventurous as me. My wannabe foodieness mostly backfires when I order something with a spice I don’t recognize or when I want to be agreeable in a large group. This time, it was simply a bad decision.  

I ordered a bloody mary. My friends Kim and Matt get them all the time and I have always wanted to order one out, I just never think of it at the right time. This time, when our waitress mentioned they had it on the menu, I instantly got a craving, which was made up because I obviously barely remembered what they taste like.  

This thing was out of control. Look at it compared to Mike’s IPA. It is a monster. I kind of liked my first sip because I was in denial. I tried to get another big sip in before trying my food. I shamelessly offered up sips to my friends. Finally, after flashbacks of my first experience with cocktail sauce as a kid, where I dunked an entire shrimp thinking it was marinara sauce and the taste of cocktail sauce flooded my mouth causing me to get sick, I gave up. 

It wasn’t even a bad bloody mary. According to Lisa and Bryce, who do actually like them and to Mike, who had had his first sip from that very glass, it was good and spicy. Unfortunately I tasted that thing in my mouth for the entire day. 

But at least our apartment search is over. 

Posted by: sforshner | October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty

I am interrupting my regularly scheduled travel link roundup because it is a very important day in the blogosphere – today is Blog Action Day. It is a day where thousands of bloggers around the world focus upon and highlight issues around one topic – poverty.

I have been thinking about this post for a while now. My Faith-Justice minor at Saint Joseph’s University allowed me to not only learn about the importance of social justice, it offered me the opportunity to experience how to make change – through education coupled with service in inner city Philadelphia and trips to Kentucky and West Virginia, where I helped build houses via Project Appalachia. I even spent time interning at‘s Action Without Borders, an organization that brings together college students and staff, serving as a virtual meeting place for students, campus staff and administrators, alumni, and community members who are making the world a better place through service, activism, advocacy, political engagement, and socially responsible work. Despite all that, I had a difficult time honing in on a topic that would resonate and be relevant to my blog.

So, I started my brainstorming, which nowadays equals google searching. I looked up various versions of “travel poverty” and a Blog Action Day Post on La Comunidad rose to the top almost every time – 88 Ways to Take Action Against Poverty Right Now

67. Travel to a poor country or area. Look for ways to make a difference on the ground there.

I don’t think you can ever really understand a situation unless you have seen it. I have blogged about my travels the rural areas of Kentucky and West Virginia before, so I thought I would start this post with some astonishing statistics that I gathered from UNICEF, another organization that had a big presence at my Jesuit University, and then highlight opportunities around the Globe that help make a difference…

Children and Poverty: Key Facts

  • In a $30 trillion global economy, 1.2 billion people- a quarter of the human race-are living in conditions of almost unimaginable suffering and want.
  • Between 600 million and 700 million children; representing about 40 per cent of all those in the developing world- are currently struggling to survive on less than $1 a day.
  • Easily preventable diseases (such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and measles) account for the deaths of nearly eleven million children under the age of 5 each year.  
  • Nearly one billion people in the world are illiterate.
  • Over 110 million children of school age are not in school.
  • Approximately 1.3 billion people lack safe water. 
  • Over half of the developing world’s population (2.6 billion people) are without access to adequate sanitation.
  • If the world were to invest an extra 30 cents out of every $100, all children would be healthy, well nourished and in primary school.
  • Studies in more than 30 countries indicate basic social services receive, on average, between 12 per cent and 14 per cent of total public spending. Two thirds of these countries spend more on debt servicing than on basic social services; several spend three to five times more on debt.

[Stats courtesy of World Summit For Social Development and Beyond: Copenhagen]

So now what? If you read my blog you are undoubtedly interested in travel, whether it is unique adventures outside your door or getting on a plane to a destination where you have never been. So here is something for everyone… 

Close to Home

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. To find projects near you, you can fill out your information here, and it will find them for you.

Volunteer Abroad

The Global Volunteer Network(GVN) offers volunteer service opportunities in community projects throughout the world. They currently provide volunteer programs through their partner organizations in 21 countries. The network continues to expand with new programs currently being researched and assessed. Their most recently added programs include Peru and Heal The Earth.  

Live Change Home & Abroad

Idealist is a project of Action Without Borders, a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 with offices in the United States and Argentina. Idealist is an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters, and take steps toward building a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives.

What else is out there?

Posted by: sforshner | October 14, 2008

travel gear tuesday: still going strong and pink

Despite the fact that it was a three day weekend, I have yet to really take in how packed it was. Between BlogHer Boston, which was amazing, and all the apartment hunting Mike and I did – I am still catching up.

So, this week’s travel gear post will be short and sweet. To continue to raise awareness for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month I am posting some more great, pink travel gear…Tamperseal Travel Blog is preparing for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer 3 day walk with their breast cancer ribbon TSA lock – which keeps your luggage safe as you travel and a portion of the proceeds benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation. They also carry the Find a Cure luggage tag. The bonded leather tag helps you spot your bags and provides ID security. A portion of the sale goes to help find a cure.

[Courtesy of Tamperseal Travel Blog]

Posted by: sforshner | October 10, 2008

it couldn’t have come any sooner…

I am gearing up for the long awaited, long weekend, which will be filled with learning so much more about social media at the BlogHer Reach out tour in Burlington, MA on Saturday, followed by a full day of apartment hunting on Sunday and then shifting Sunday Funday to Monday!

Can’t wait to meet new bloggers and meetup with Maris of The World of Mar and Susie of Everyone Loves a Boston Girl and We Are Not Martha tomorrow!

Happy Columbus Day!

Posted by: sforshner | October 9, 2008

portland dining

Our drive to Portland included a stop at the Kittery Outlets (I made out with a cute dress and work pants) so by the time we arrived – we were starving. Our first stop was Bull Feeney’s on Fore Street.

My hunger got the best of me when I didn’t even think to grab a picture of this amazing appetizer until I was half way done – lightly friend camembert cheese with blueberry sauce

And then I plowed through this amazing mix of sweet potato and regular fries with ketchup, curry and horseradish mayo dip…before I could get a full shot.

But, I was able to snag a photo of this wonderful dish in all its glory: BANGERS COLCANNON – Traditional Irish Sausages with Mashed Potatoes and Cabbage Cooked in Bacon and Onion Butter 

I will never eat mashed potatoes without bacon again, at least in the moment that is what I claimed.

This was my chicken wrap which had grapes in it (the major selling point for me). And my Wolaver Organic IPA, which was perfect…

Unfortunately I could only get through half of it because I had housed all the starters. 

Jump to Saturday night – we went out for sushi at Fuji. In the hotel, we used Bryce’s sly tactics, delicious cake and cool party hats to surprise Leigh for her birthday. When our waitress saw her hat, she also brought out a cheesecake for the occassion.

I also realized that I love Sapporo beer. Typically I am an ale drinker and the more hops the better, but I never know what to get when I am having sushi (which is something that is still fairly new to me, but I am getting more acquainted). This beer is perfect. It is light, but it is full bodied and it even tastes a bit fruity.

We were so stuffed by the time we left here that I don’t know how we made it through the rest of the night – but we did.

The next morning we found out what happens when five girls are cramped in one room and need to share one shower – by the time they get out for breakfast, they are famished.

For breakfast we went to Mims on Commercial Street.

It’s a cool place that is carved into the corner of a building and has a circular format. See this shot of the ceiling with the beams that jut out from the center? Mike, even though you weren’t there, I was tempted to ask you what you thought of this structure. 

Yeah I hate all of this delicious food – aside from the few bites of my raspberry muffin that I gave away because it was too good not to share. The best part is that the coffee was great. And based on my experience in Portsmouth on our last weekend getaway, the coffee kind of makes or breaks a place for me (sorry Friendly Toast!). 

And sorry Dominique – I didn’t really eat any seafood, aside from our sushi dinner, what’s wrong with me? I guess it didn’t necessarily occur to me to go out of my way to order it because I can always get great seafood in Boston.

I can’t believe I had never been to Portland before, but it was better late than never.

And I can’t forget to thank Lisa for reminding me of the names of some of the dishes we ate and the sushi restaurant!

Posted by: sforshner | October 8, 2008

this week’s travel finds: let’s save some money

After the debate last night and listening to financial horror stories on NPR this morning, I am stressed and depressed. So here is a short and sweet list of great finds for saving money on the road…

Caroline Costello of Independent Traveler listed her Top tips for cheap travel.

On Family Travel Logue Sheila Scarboroug has informed us How to find the best hotel deals.

Mary Jo Manzanares of Fly Away Cafe has a great list of Carnival of Travelers: The Money Saving Edition.

The Go Report has found A Digital Luggage Scale that Saves You Money – The Digital Luggage Scale.

Business Travel Logue has listed the Best Credit Cards for Travelers

On MatadorTripsMatt Scott laid out a Budget Guide to New York City.

Posted by: sforshner | October 7, 2008

travel gear tuesday: travel pink this month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and this week, I wanted to include some travel gear that helps raise awareness…

New Balance (my sneaker of choice because they support my wide feet and tendency to pronate) will donate 15% of the wholesale sales from their Lace Up for the Cure Collection to Susan G. Komen for the Cure wih a guaranteed minimum of $500,000 and a maximum of a $1 million. Included in this special pink collection are sneakers, apparel, accessories and other fabulous items. They also offer this LUFTC Flight Bag. You can get this New Balance flight bag online from New Balance for $39.99. It also looks great for the gym!

Posted by: sforshner | October 6, 2008

portland: permission to blog

On our usual weekend getaways, my friends and I try to get to a place where at least some of us have never been. After Providence and Portsmouth, we finally reached a destination that was new to me – Portland, Maine.

On Saturday, we took a stroll around Old Port…

Did you know that a portion of the Berlin Wall resides here? 










Sometimes when I go out with my non blogger friends, I get a lot of, “you can’t blog that!” after taking a photo. The truth is, I rarely ever post pictures of people anyway – it really never crosses my mind.

But, this weekend was different. I actually got some, “You can blog that one!’ So this time, I will.

From left to right…

Leigh, Kim, Me, Lisa and Bryce

Don’t I have beautiful friends?

Portland has a pretty decent night life. Though you would never know it from people’s reactions after asking us where we were from.

     “We’re not from around here, we’re actually from Boston, ” we answered.
     “Really? Then what the heck are you doing in Portland,” they replied, disturbed.

I’ll tell you what we did. We played games of mammoth proportions. 

The Oasis has giant jenga and… 

Connect four!

It was so fun. Portland wasn’t just seaside and bars for us, however it is getting pretty late. So – my lazy, picture heavy and very late weekend recap will have to spill over into Thursday, when I blog about all the awesome food we ate too…

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