$1.35, what can that buy you?

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

In July of this year a story broke that a convert cave in France can cost you $1.35. Yup, you heard that right. $1.35 for a home. We are all faced with steep rent rates, and this is the dream. The biggest trend now is that young couples are renovating abandoned troglodyte homes in the French countryside. (From my understanding this is just occurring in France, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening anywhere else.)  The $1.35 home is an 11th-century structured home that is nestled into the side of a mountain in the Loire Valley. How cool does this sound? Honestly, I am about ready to drop everything and tackle one of these converted cave homes!

Of course there is always a cost with a dream. Finance was a main requirement with involved with huge renovations, which were required to make the cave not only livable but also structurally sound. The article states that there are 10 different banks for a 25,000 euro loan, but they all rejected the owners. You’ll have to read the article to find out how the couple got enough money for the killer renovations.

All in all, this awesome couple not only have a place to live but also a source of income in the home-cave! After purchasing the cave for 1 euro and spending a total of 35,000 euros on renovations, they deliberately built a separate one-bedroom section of the house that they now list on Airbnb for 50 euros a night. Check out the cave’s Facebook page, too.

take a deep breath

& relax

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Finally, Jess and Jackie made it safe to DC. After many interactions with the airlines they arrived safely. Every time Jess comes to DC something happens with her flight, it’s either delayed due to weather or trying to locate the aircraft or sometimes a mechanical issue but without skipping a beat Jess always makes it. Yesterday, was no different–she received a call 5 hours before take off saying her first flight was delayed, which then would make her late for her connection. After spending 45 minutes on the phone with the airline everything was taken care of.

I want to give you a few tips and ticks in the case of your flight being delayed (or cancelled). After hearing the news you might have some extra time at the airport. Of course, there many totally unpredictable circumstances that are totally out of your control. But there are some things that you can do to help the situation.

1. Be early- Just be early. It’s better to be early than late especially when flying is involved.

2. Know your rights- It could be a massive storm or maybe your flight is overbooked and you’ve been left at the airport. In cases such as these, it is vital that you know your rights. Armed with this knowledge, you should be able to claim what you deserve and hopefully find a solution to your problem with a few aces up your sleeve: from getting refunded for all your food and drinks expenses to getting a hotel or some alternative transportation.

3. Always buy the insurance- This one is a no-brainer, but it’s also something you don’t think you’ll need until you do. Travel insurance is a guarantee that whatever trouble you might encounter it will be easier to solve. This ‘extra’ cost will prove a worthwhile investment if the unexpected happens. However, it’s a common holidaymaker mistake to not get insurance that covers every possible need or problem you might have.

4. Don’t check a bag

5. Get on the phone immediately– If the flight has already taken off without you or you know you won’t make it to the gate on time, get on the phone with the airline immediately. They should reschedule you on the next flight at no cost if the connection time was unreasonably brief. Ask for compensation, such as a flight voucher, if you feel you’ve missed your connecting flight through no fault of your own.

6. Explore the airport- Entertain yourself- This one is my favorite because more than likely you have something with you to  kill time, book (or an e-book reader, with lots of titles in its memory), your laptop or a tablet loaded with films the options are endless. When in doubt you can always create a music video like this guy did.

As we’ve learned from many situations short airport connections can be a blessing, but only if you actually make your flight. Remember when it comes to tight connections, every second counts. Knowing your rights really help you to rebook your flight. Good luck and happy flying.

a guide to hosting guests

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

After moving to DC, I expected to get a million visitors. I like guests! I like getting to be a tourist in my own city and of course I like hosting friends. This past January, Matt made the move to DC, too and since, our apartment has been a revolving door that never seems to stop. I complied a list to help you get through every last guest who’s on vacation. After many visitors Matt and I have gotten used to having our apartment be a breeding ground for travelers. Check out my handy guide to staying sane while hosting because no one wants a cranky host.

1. Get off the beaten tourist path

2. Go out on the cheap 

3. Cook at home

4. Get your visitors to hit all the tourist things you don’t want to do

5.Allocate space for your guests’ luggage, most apartments in the city are cramped as it is when you add your friends luggage to the mix things start to get cluttered. Offer a closet for them to put their items or a corner off to the side, it will help the flow of traffic in your apartment

6. Fill them in on the basics, ie, show them how to work the metro, download a transportation app on their phone, give them your Uber referral code

7. Have a SmartTrip card for them that they can load money onto

8. Communicate the duration of their visit

Some of these items might sounds a little COD, but to ensure that both you and your guests have fun I would stick by these guidelines. Remember, they are coming to visit you but also to explore the city you don’t need to feel obligated to do everything with them. Be sure to show your visitors your favorite places that are both on and off the tourism paths.

cooperstown

Let’s talk ball. This past weekend, the opportunity to go to Cooperstown was in our hands and we gladly jumped on that train. Thanks to our friend, Patrick (HSO!) the three of us set out on the journey to Upstate New York last weekend. And as you guessed it, our first stop was Cooperstown. Sure, I love baseball but there is no comparison when it comes to how much Matt loves baseball. Take a peek at the guest blog below from Matt. Matt recaps his visit to the holy land: Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. If you haven’t been and even if you have, he writes it in a fashion that you are enjoying his pilgrimage alongside of us that weekend.

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

my pilgrimage to the baseball mecca

guest blog presented by: Matthew D. Shalbrack
You can find Matt on Twitter: @hamsterjockey; insta: hamsterjockey, make sure you follow him!

As a diehard baseball fan, I had never made the pilgrimage to Cooperstown, New York to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and IMG_0400Museum. I’d actually never even been to New York before. How sacrilegious is that? With so much history, tradition and baseball in one place, how had a fan, like myself, never set foot on such sacred grounds?

Well, that all changed the second weekend in June as Kendal Ann, Patrick and I had planned to go up to Upstate New York for a long weekend and made a pit stop in Cooperstown to check out the Baseball Hall of Fame. Let’s just say that I was mesmerized by how much baseball tradition is enshrined within the walls of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

After parking the car and wandering down Main Street, taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of baseball heaven, we finally made it to the coveted Baseball Hall of Fame. The Baseball Hall of Fame is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year and we picked a great weekend to visit. Not only was the ‘Iron Man’ Cal Ripken, Jr. there himself (we unfortunately did not see Cal) for various events throughout the weekend, the Baseball Hall of Fame actually was opening a brand new Babe Ruth exhibit on the day we went. Talk about great timing.

Once inside, we picked up a map and started to decipher where to go and what to see first. After opting to start on the third floor and work our way down, we entered the “Sacred Ground” exhibit. This exhibit featured quite a bit of information about the ballparks, past and present, themselves. It also featured a ton of new and old memorabilia, such as the Rally Monkey, which is a plush monkey that made appearances in late-inning situations for the 2002 Anaheim Angels’ World Series-winning team.

The exhibit changes from ballparks to players, highlighting individual records that each player has accomplished. Records such as Ripen, Jr.’s consecutive games played streak and the most games played in a career (Pete Rose; 3,562) are records that may (will) never be broken. Finally, upon exiting this exhibit, they have replicas of each ring that the World Series champion receives. It was interesting seeing how gaudy the rings have gotten over the years; it really is all about the bling.

After seeing some great exhibits on the second floor, we headed back to the first floor and walked into a shrine filled with the greatest people to ever be a part of the game of baseball. The bronze busts of each National Baseball Hall of Fame member fill the oak walls from top to bottom. There are 306 total people lining these walls, enshrined in this temple of baseball holiness forever. It was a beautiful sight to witness, one that I never will forget. On the back wall, the original class of Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson, is singled out and makes known the start of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Finally, the other neat exhibit on the first floor is a small one and somewhat hidden. It features all kinds of memorabilia from baseball films. Being the movie buff that I am, especially with a soft spot for baseball-related movies, I got a kick out of this exhibit. There’s even a list that gives all the names of the baseball movies, which was quite informational – I mean, did you know there are three Sandlot movies? I knew of two, but not the third. There was even a great black and white photo of my brilliant Twitter avatar, (if you don’t follow me, you probably should @hamsterjockey) Rick ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn, made famous in the Major League films.

Overall, my first trip to Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was a definite success. It was so much history packed into one visit though, but that just means I will have to go back. I highly recommend that if you have not been there, visit as soon as you can. If you have visited there, I highly suggest that you go back.

upstate

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Let me give you a little geography lesson about New York, and all of you New Yokers out there can correct me if I am wrong. Upstate New York is a region of the U.S. state of New York north of the core of the New York metropolitan area. There is no clear or official boundary between Upstate New York and Downstate New York, and other names exist for regions north of New York City — either as part of, or distinct from, the Upstate region. Basically from the image you see (yes, which is an image of the THEORETICAL 2012 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RESULTS BY UPSTATE/DOWNSTATE) the red indicates UPSTATE and the Blue is DOWNSTATE– also known as “The City”.

Over the weekend, I had my first Vineyard experience and it was nothing less than great! New York was a great place to experience world-class wines which paired beautifully with picture-perfect countryside, smiles and relaxation. Finger Lakes Wine Country is home to almost 100 wineries, breweries and distilleries centered around three main lakes: Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga.

From the vineyards we checked out, my suggestion is if you are ever in the area try these few on for size: American and Lucas.

I cannot wait for another trip to Upstate New York. It was the perfect get away from the city weekend.

donuts

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

So, it is a little late but recognition is always worth it. In lieu of the recent Donut Day, I needed to share so vital information. My college town bakery was just named BEST donut in Minnesota! Yes, you read that right. Bloedows was named the best donuts in Minnesota! What an honor.

Thanks for the LaCrosse Tribune you can read a little more about Bloedow’s and their tradiation. But if you don’t want to click on the link, don’t worry the story is copy and pasted below.

Bloedow Bakery is Winona’s hometown bakery since 1924 featuring their own, very special, original recipes. Step in the door and step back in time to smell the warm, sweet smells of fresh baked donuts, breads and sweets. Step into a time when lives were more relaxed and food was made with pride. Ask any native Winonan and you will find Bloedow’s is a stop not to miss!

The History
In 1924 Ernest Bloedow had a dream to start his own bakery in Winona, MN. Located at 601 Sanborn Street, Ernest and his wife, Mary, started their little bakery which soon became a family affair. In 1925 the bakery moved to the corner of Broadway and Laird into a former saloon, complete with a hitching post outside! The bakery soon became known as Bloedow’s Little Bake Shop on Broadway. There it flourished and was passed down through the family.

By 1941, Ernest and Mary’s daughter, Mildred, and her husband, Julius Gernes, assisted in the bakery operations and eventually purchased the bakery. In 1984, Mildred and Julius’ son, Ernest, and his wife Darlene, took over the Bloedow tradition with its now famous recipes.

On January 1, 2005, the bakery was sold to Hugh and Mary Polus, the first owners outside of the Bloedow family. A baker at Bloedow bakery since the age of 15, Hugh was mentored by Ernie and Darlene for almost 20 years to continue the Bloedow tradition. While some customers may have been skeptical of the change, they were soon relieved to know that nothing would be changed with the Bloedow’s recipes. The Polus’ are both native Winonans and grew up on Bloedow’s treats.

Original Recipes
Many of the Bloedow donuts, rolls, and breads you see in the cases each day are still made with the recipes used on the bakery’s first day of business. Other specialties have been added during the 80+ years of tradition.

The David and Goliath Story…Bakery Style
In December 2005, Winona residents taste-tested and the result was national news.  Less than two years after entering the Winona market, the international doughnut colossus, Krispy Kreme, pulled its products from the store shelves, ceding the territory to locally owned Bloedow Bakery. While their exit started out quietly, a local newspaper ran a story which was quickly picked up by the Associated Press and run all over the country.

Our Customers
All agree, once you’ve had a Bloedow’s donut you will go back for more. Many Bloedow’s fans agree that the first and last stop when coming to Winona is Bloedow Bakery and one donut is not enough. What Bloedow’s fans won’t agree on is which donut is the best. There are just too many “bests” to choose from. Bloedow’s fans are so devoted, they have created a group on Facebook dedicated to sharing Bloedow’s stories and voted Bloedow Bakery the Best Donut Shop in MN in March 2012 WCCO Best of poll.

Our Promise
The employees of Bloedow’s promise to continue the tradition of Bloedow’s by providing high quality baked goods like no others.

Bloedow Bakery was an awesome place to visit on a Sunday morning when most of the town was still sleeping. I can only imagine what press Bloedow’s has received since they’ve been voted best donut. Kudos to them for making the tradition last and a dream come true. Now, only if they delivered then I could get this hankering for a Maple Long John out of my system.

come fly with me

let’s fly away

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Rather than Georgia, I’ve got New Orleans on my mind. In a few hours, I’m getting on that jet plane and my next stop is New Orleans, LA. After a long over due trip and a long over due celebration, I am finally off to discover the land of beignets, blues, and bourbon street. I’m going into New Orelans rather blindly, I know a few facts about the city and it’s history but nothing beyond what the average person knows. But, I have heard many stories from when my friends made the trip down to Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras.

What I do know

History:

While it’s true that most of the original buildings, built under French control (1718 – 1763) burned down, the Spanish never really populated New Orleans with colonists. The Spanish government inherited the French speaking citizens, and they rebuilt the city after the two major fires, which occurred under Spanish rule. The French didn’t suddenly become more Spanish influenced, as the French always far out-numbered the Spanish in New Orleans.

Food:

The foods is incredible and it’s home of jambalaya, creole and beignets. Beignets have been a staple of Creole cuisine, and is the basis for one of the city’s most popular dives: Cafe du Monde. The delicacies were even named the Louisiana state doughnut.

Tourism:

Cemeteries are awesome, The French Quarter is a must see and Bourbon Street is where you can find a party. Apparently you can always find hidden gems like Rob Zomie’s bar. Marie Laveau, the queen of Voodoo, is resting in a cemetery. 

 

I can’t wait to experience this historic city!

milwaukee

pride

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Maybe I write about state pride a little too often, but I don’t want y’all to forget about my roots. Thanks to a friend who sent me the link to an article titled, “10 Milwaukee Stereotypes That Are Completely Accurate: If you like to get festive, love bowling and think brats are the best food ever, chances are you live in Milwaukee.” I couldn’t help, but to share this article with all of you. Plus with a Tina Fey gif starting us out in the article (which you will see below), you really can’t go wrong reading the rest of that article.

Obviously, here’s number one and the teaser:

1. Milwaukeeans Are Prouder Of Their City Than Your Mom On Graduation Day

Milwaukee Stereotypes

Sure, I am not from “Milwaukee”, but I am from a small town outside of Milwaukee, which is pretty much “close enough”. I am proud to be from a place that is so genuine and laid back that there are actually considerate people who still live here that won’t hesitate to tell you their city’s best brunch location or give you directions when you’re lost. Milwaukeeans exemplify that Midwest charm everyone hears about.

Wisconsin is something you carry around with you. Even after living in DC for almost three years, I still have my Wisconsin accent, and I am sure that will never go away. I might be living in the city, but I’m from a small town. Now, if you are from Wisconsin or better yet, Milwaukee this article will really hit home to you!

playing dress up

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

It’s that time again. Matt and I always seem to have visitors and house guests. Since April, our house has been a turn style of people. This week, we are back in the saddle once again and we find ourselves playing dress up. I like playing dress up especially when it’s to be a tour guide.  When most people visit DC their time is often spent on the National Mall, but there’s much more to the city than that. As a resident of the area,  I can tell you there are lots of other interesting places to explore than the Mall. So here are some suggestions of interesting places besides the National Mall to take your out-of-town visitors.

1. Waterfront- If you are heading down to Nationals Park or going to Bluejacket, the Waterfront is an awesome area to take your guests. While you are down there you might as well take them to the Titanic Memorial.

2. Roosevelt Island– This is a hidden gem in the city. Often, I don’t take people here, but when I do they are always thankful.

3. The Roofdeck of the Kennedy Center– This one is prime. Now that the Old Post Office Pavilion is closed and the Washington Monument isn’t open (yet) this is one of the best view’s in the city next to the P.O.V Lounge.

4. A Capitol tour– Sure, I am a nerd and yes, this is my favorite place but I think everyone needs to go here at least once.

5. Old Town Alexandria– Woah, calm down  I know this isn’t “in the District” but it’s a great place and really screams East Coast mixed with Southern hospitality. King Street is a major road in Alexandria and it will lead you to explore the historic Old Town Alexandria. 

6. Eastern Market– It doesn’t matter if you like art, food, or music there is something for everyone at Eastern Market.

Go out and explore. Next time you have guests in town, I hope you take them “off the beaten path” and do some local things rather than making their stay totally tourist.

staycation

in DC

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Fortunately, DC is one of the best cities to live in for a staycation. There is absolutely no reason to ever be bored living in DC. Thanks to our founding father’s DC is a mini vacation that’s right in my backyard. Sometimes living in the city you forget what all there is to do and explore.

This week has been a the perfect staycation in the District including the National Cathedral, The National Buildings Museum, National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden and the National Archives. Having the opportunity to see all of these sites is truly amazing. I am lucky to have so much history right at my fingertips. I can’t wait to see what the rest of tourist week has in-store for me!

Go out and be a tourist this weekend, and enjoy one of the many FREE things to do in the District. It is nice to get away for just a little while, even if it is just around the corner!