The Rocks by Peter Nichols: Book Review

I totally object to buying e-books and reading on a screen. I love having the physical copy in my hands, turning its pages, and seeing my progress. But books aren’t cheap, and you may wonder how I can afford to buy so many of them. Answer: I use thriftbooks.com and buy used! Rarely do I buy a newly released book for full price. That being said, it was different with The Rocks. When I read the synopsis, I knew I had to have it right away and couldn’t wait to buy it used a year or two from now. So did buying full price pay off?

This book was a hit for me. It’s set in a dreamy, exotic location (as if I didn’t want to go to Mallorca enough already this book further confirmed that desire). It’s packed with drama, and a lot of messed up stuff happens (which makes me enjoy a book that much more). It’s also very interesting because it starts at the end and works its way back, so the whole time you’re reading it you feel like you already know the ending…but boy is there a lot to discover. So yes, buying full price paid off!

 

Reflecting on Time With Jord Watches: My 1 Year Blogiversary

Quite often as I’m scrolling through the blogs I follow, I come across their anniversary posts. Reflections on the past year of their blogs-two, three, and even more years having passed since they first started. Then it dawned on me that I too have a blog and realized that it’s already turning a year old. So I’ve decided to join in on the tradition of posting a “blogiversary” post each year.

My blog all started a year ago when I decided I needed a creative outlet. I had recently moved to the west coast and started my big girl job in pharmacy, which is obviously highly scientific and structured. Then football season came around and I realized every Sunday for the NFL season (and even most Saturdays for college football) would have to be spent at home so Ollie could watch all the games. This gave me more free time and left me a little bored considering I don’t care to watch every single game if the Bears or Dolphins aren’t on. I spent more time reading, daydreaming about travel, and remembering the previous trips I’ve taken. I had an urge to write about it all, so I got on WordPress and started, without knowing how blogs work or what direction I was heading.

When I first considered writing a blogiversary post, I was hesitant. I felt like I hadn’t accomplished much or anything worth writing about. Some blogs and instagrams have thousands upon thousands of followers by the time they turn one. That definitely wasn’t the case for me; however, as I thought about it more, I realized I had accomplished a lot and that this first year was worth documenting and remembering even just for my sake-which is why I started my blog, for me and only me. If people want to follow along then that’s just a very welcome bonus.

So here are some things I’m proud of and some journeys I’ve been on this year:

  • I’ve stayed with it and still feel inspired every day
  • I put a lot of thought into my vision and target audience to try and post more consistent content
  • I renamed my blog to “The Daydreamer Next Door”
  • I reached out to a graphic designer to collaborate on a logo in the future
  • I started an Instagram page specifically related to my blog and to highlight travel
  • I invested in a nice camera to post high quality photos
  • I started playing around with making videos of my travels using said camera
  • I started reaching out to tourism boards for potential collaborations-no bites yet but good practice!
  • I took a promotion at work so I now have weekends off and more vacation time (making things happen with 1 week paid vacation and working every 2nd weekend was very challenging)

Last but not least, I started collaborating with Jord Watches which has been so fun and wouldn’t have been possible without my blog and social platforms. I’m so excited to be able to offer my readers a chance to win $75 off a gorgeous women’s watch or men’s watch. The contest goes until September 25 and just by entering you are guaranteed a $20 off voucher (all vouchers must be used by 1/31/17). I choose to get Frankie which is made with natural zebra wood and has a navy face-the perfect shade for me considering I so often find myself on the beach chilling by the ocean. It’s a unique watch-simple and neutral all while making a statement with the large face and pop of blue. It’s also been a cool watch to take on my travels because it matches so much of my wardrobe and quickly makes me feel more put together and accessorized. Thank you Jord Watches for making me feel like a more fashionable adult and for helping me keep track of the time that passes by always too quickly. I can’t believe my blog is already a year old. Instead of receiving presents on its birthday, it’s offering them haha! Click the link below to enter my contest! Much love to those who read along. And hey it’s football season again which means more time to write 😉

https://www.woodwatches.com/g/thedaydreamernextdoor

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This post was sponsored by Jord Wood Watches, but my opinions will always be my own.

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Joshua Tree National Park Photo Diary

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And California continues to impress.

Jasna and I decided to take the scenic route back to San Diego after attending Coachella, and it doesn’t get much better than road tripping through a national park with your bestie! We had both wanted to visit Joshua Tree for quite some time, and it did not disappoint.

Here’s how we spent a few hours exploring (but there is so much more to do if you have a longer amount of time): Our first stop was the Cholla Cactus garden. They were so unique and beautiful. We also had fun wandering around on the deserted street-hardly any cars came through this area. Then we made our way to the Oasis Visitor Center, which I’m very happy we did. Planning for the madness that is Coachella did not leave either of us with much time to plan our day in Joshua Tree. While at the visitor center, they showed us a couple must sees that we would have regretfully missed out on otherwise. We stopped at Skull Rock which blew us both away! I had to get a mature picture of me picking its nose. Then we continued the drive to Keys View. From here you can see Mexico, Palm Springs, the Salton Sea, snow covered mountains, and the San Andreas fault. I had to get the map out to try and figure out where exactly the fault line was, but it was so exhilarating being so close to it! The end of our drive was through tree-lined winding roads where we stopped for some last minute pictures.

I loved every minute we spent in Joshua Tree National Park- it’s the perfect combination of strange and stunning.

The 10 Lines From “Sex and World Peace” That Shocked Me The Most

I felt the inspiration to start working on this post because I just finished watching the Gloria Steinem documentary, “Gloria: In Her Own Words.” Then I started thinking about the interview that Emma Watson posted on her Facebook page not too long ago where she speaks with Gloria. It was in that interview that I was introduced to my current read “Sex and World Peace” by Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett. In short (and in my words), this book sets out to show that the way girls and women are treated in family systems on a small scale can affect and predict how violent (or peaceful) a country/cultural system will be on an international level. I made the interpretation that if boys are taught from a young age that a human (a female) is not worth as much as they are and doesn’t deserve the same rights/safety/respect/opportunities as they do, it can fuel violence and condone inequality in all aspects of life.  I highly recommend this book to anyone-feminist or not. It is very thought-provoking, and I wanted to share the parts of the book that were the most shocking to me. I hope this will inspire you to read it for the full effect and maybe get you thinking about issues you’ve never thought of before.

page 4: “Interestingly, more lives are lost through violence against women from sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, suicide, egregious maternal mortality, and other sex-linked causes than were lost during all the wars and civil strife of the twentieth century. From this perspective, the greatest security dilemma is, then, the systemic insecurity of women-half of the world’s population. Indeed, if we want to be technical about it, the systemic insecurity of women has resulted in a situation in which women are now no longer half of humanity, with a world sex ratio of 101.3 men per 100 women on the planet.”

page 18: “When we speak of microaggression against women, we must not overlook the fact that women may be as culpable as men.”

page 42: “Ironically, the United States insisted on quotas for women in both countries it invaded, Iraq and Afghanistan, so that now there is a significantly higher percentage of women in the legislatures of those two nations than in the United States itself.”

Ok, 2 sections from page 48 because I’m that taken aback: “…salary estimates of how much money would be required to buy the services of a full-time mother and housewife on the open market in 2009 in the United States ranged from $125,000 to more than $700,000. To exclude such a massive labor contribution toward the well-being of society from societal decision making is an invitation for economic and societal mayhem.”

“And so we find in the United States, the greatest risk factor for poverty in old age is to have ever been a mother–not a father, but a mother. That is because the Social Security system does not count any of a mother’s labor toward her Social Security check in old age.”

Interesting details of some experiments on page 52: “Research has shown that men process the voices of women in the same area of the brain that processes music and noise.”

page 60: “When a state, such a Yemen, allows an eight-year-old girl to be sold by her father into marriage with a man four decades older, that is one of the most profound betrayals of women a state can perpetrate.”

page 61: “The soberingly high maternal mortality rates among many African states should be seen as a call to arms by the rest of the world to help women through the vulnerable life stages of pregnancy and birth. It is a true devaluation of women’s lives for the state to be indifferent as to whether they live or die as a result of bringing forth the next generation of citizens.”

I want to include all of page 86 but I’ll just share this: “Given the multitude of degrading acts and demeaning innuendos constantly being made against girls and women, the rate of reinforcement for violence against women is extremely high, resulting in over-learned automatic violent behaviors.”

page 87: “When little girls are made to go hungry in order for little boys to have access to more food, the message is immediately sent that female children are of less value than male children and that little girls should not be given the same opportunities that are given to little boys.”

Here are some closing thoughts for those who think feminism means man shaming, from page 179: “Men are part of the problem, but they are also part of the solution. We are against violence, not men.” And page 200: “There is not a zero-sum game being played between men and women in which if women are elevated, then men are debased. We were meant to win together.”

The final chapters of the book offer top-down and bottom-up approaches to how we can make positive changes towards gender equality. Many people believe there are far more important issues going on these days than gender equality. However, protecting half the world’s population and thereby promoting world peace sounds like a pretty big deal to me.

 

Ireland Photo Diary

One year of marriage seemed like a good time to throw it back to our long weekend in Ireland where we got engaged! Endless amounts of Guinness, driving through the beautiful countryside, hanging out in cemeteries, kissing the Blarney Stone… I definitely miss exploring this country and can’t wait to get back. I won’t say more, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves 🙂

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Beginner’s Guide to Hiking San Diego

Once we made the move from Indiana to San Diego, I knew I wanted to get involved with all the hiking in the area. It was a little overwhelming trying to figure out where to hike first- there are many great options! So I’ve put together my top 3 picks for beginners-whether you are new to SoCal, spending time here on vacation, or just want to start hiking 🙂

  1. Torrey Pines State Reserve in La Jolla: I listed this first because it is the easiest of the 3 and requires the least amount of fitness. It is also right on the coast and gives you the beachy vibe you think of when you picture San Diego-crashing waves, sand, ocean views. Be prepared to pay for parking (about $15). Once you do, drive all the way up to the parking lots at the top. Otherwise you have to walk all the way up to the trail entrance, which will add on more time and distance with no views. One thing I like about this hike is there’s a variety of trails to choose from. You can make it a long hike and check out them all, or you can make it short and just do one or two. A con of this hike: narrow, crowded trails. Totally worth the views though, even on an overcast day!

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2. Cowles Mountain: Moving from the beach to the mountains. This trail is a bit more challenging but can still be done with little fitness preparation. I love this hike because the views at the top are breathtaking. You see lakes, the ocean, more mountains, downtown San Diego, and even Mexico. It is also relatively quick and easy despite being 95% uphill. It takes about 30 minutes to make it to the summit, and on this hike we always see old people (if they can do it we can do it!). There are different sides you can hike up, but I would recommend starting at the entrance at Navajo Road and Golfcrest Drive. This trail is a bit more windy and not as steep. You also get great views all the way which you don’t get if you hike up the other side. There is a cute cafe across the road if you need a quick coffee or acai bowl to energize you before embarking. Street parking is free in this residential area. Don’t forget to bring lots of water!

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3. Mount Woodson Trail to Potato Chip Rock: I would not recommend this hike without having a decent level of fitness. It takes about 4 hours, and is straight incline (think stepping up rocks made into natural stairs) for about an hour of it. You will definitely feel a sense of accomplishment once you make it to the top and will be rewarded by seeing the famous Potato Chip Rock. If you want a photo, the wait is usually at least 30 minutes unless you go at a really slow time. It’s totally worth it though to have the awesome picture, and it’s a huge adrenaline rush having to leap onto the rock. You want to start this hike around 6 or 7 AM (any later and you will be dealing with a really hot sun). Bring A LOT of water and some protein bars to eat at the top before making your way down. You do have to pay for parking (about $5) to get to the trail entrance.

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What other San Diego hikes are your favorite?

Lasting Impressions From My 1st Time in a 3rd World Country

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I think it’s pretty fair to say that most travelers go into a trip hoping to be changed by it in some way (i.e. want to have a life-changing experience). That’s how I’ve always felt before embarking into the unknown on all of my travels. Will this trip change me? What will I learn? What will I feel differently about when I return?

I wondered about these questions more than usual before heading to Nicaragua because I knew it would be a trip full of many “firsts.” Visiting has definitely left a lasting impression on me. Being in a third world country was a lot different from the way I am used to living, and it put me outside of my “comfort zone” physically, but I loved experiencing the daily life there. I want to share what “third world” looked like to my eyes:

  1. No heated water for showers.
  2. You can’t flush the toilet paper in most places because there really isn’t a plumbing system (you throw it away in the garbage can).
  3. Houses are kind of half built, meaning the walls may not be completely connected or closed off to the outside. They don’t keep much out as far as spiders and rats go.
  4. The language barrier was challenging. People from America expect everyone in the world to speak English. Not the case.
  5. Riding in a chicken bus squished between what seemed like way too many people to be riding on one bus, with little children maneuvering their way through the aisle to try to sell the white people stuff 😉
  6. You can experience SO much for SO little.
  7. Living simply.

Many of these things may come off as sounding like a negative experience, but it was just the opposite. Showering in an outdoor shower with cold water in the middle of a jungle with spiders on every wall actually felt amazing, exciting, and refreshing. Rats coming into our room during the night and eating through my bag was actually funny and made for a really great story (the rat wasn’t interested in us thank god!). Dealing with the language barrier was tough, but it left us feeling satisfied and proud of ourselves when we would succeed. It also made the experience more authentic. Riding in a chicken bus was not what I would call comfortable, but it got us from point A to point B on the cheap. It engaged all my senses–listening to the locals talk on the bus, looking at all the goodies the children were coming around with, seeing the sights pass by through the window, etc. Nicaragua was a very affordable country to visit, without lacking any beauty or activities you would find in a more expensive location. We did so much, ate so much, and drank so much without going broke.

I was also struck by how simply the people lived (but were happy). One local in particular has stuck with me–our surf instructor in Popoyo. He had lived there his whole life and got to spend every day surfing. Popoyo is such a gorgeous, untouched beach front town, and I couldn’t help but be in awe of the fact that he got to wake up to it every day and just surf. He was such a nice, sweet person and a really great (and patient) surf instructor. His life is so much simpler than mine, but I can’t say that’s a bad thing. I’m grateful to have grown up in America and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but just because someone lives in a third world country doesn’t mean they are worth less or have it bad. People have it good everywhere, and people have it bad everywhere. It doesn’t really matter if it’s in a developing country or a highly advanced country. Visiting Nicaragua gave me some perspective on that, which I think is really important and is a huge reason to travel.

Lastly, I would like to address one question that will always come up when you mention you are traveling to a third world country. When I told one friend I was going you could see the look of fear cross her face before she asked me if it was even safe to go. And I know my family was worried about me and less than pleased at my choice of country to visit over Christmas break. So did I ever feel unsafe? The answer is (for the most part) no. There was only one moment in the whole trip that I was a bit scared except it wasn’t your typical scary story. We were standing outside a hostel in San Juan waiting for our ride after purchasing our Sunday Funday tickets. It was broad daylight and there were loads of people around. I noticed a local man yelling a bit down the road (not sure at who), and before you know it he came running out of his house with a machete trying to chase after someone. The women in his house had to physically hold him back and yell at him to stop and come back inside. Nothing ended up happening and he never even looked in our direction, but it did make me feel a bit uneasy (most likely because I’m not used to people getting around carrying machetes, which was very common in Nicaragua). Besides watching that uncomfortable scene that many people I was with didn’t even notice, there were no points in time where I felt unsafe, and I obviously never went anywhere alone. I’m glad I didn’t let fear hold me back from visiting this amazing country.

My trip to Nicaragua will always be special to me–it was my first time in a third world country and also my first time backpacking. More on the backpacking aspect of the trip soon!