Life & Love Advice from My Grandma

Growing up, I only ever had one grandparent that I remember, my dad’s mom, Pat.  She is a interesting lady with a great story.  She’s also always given me the best and funniest advice.  For instance, almost every time I’ve seen her since turning 14, she has told me “when he goes for the zipper, get out of the car,” and who doesn’t need to learn that lesson?!  My grandparents had a very strong 51 year long marriage, so I figured she probably has a lot of great relationship and life advice.  Over my spring break I went to visit my grandma, who is turning 85 in a few months, and got to know her life story a little bit better.  Here are some of her stories and some of her best advice.


My grandma was born in Mauston, WI on May 13, 1933 into a lower class family who already had a son, and daughter.  A few years later, her mother gave birth to another son, and soon after that her parents split up.  She spent her summers working at the fair selling food from her grandparents’ food stand.  That is where she learned to speak what she calls “carnie talk”, which is the carnival workers’ version of pig latin.

Her mother gave piano lessons and played the piano at parties around the state.  Since she couldn’t afford a babysitter, she brought her kids with her to gigs.  My grandma credits her mother’s gigs to starting her love for music.  Although one of my favorite memories of my grandma is her singing along to Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl (even though grandma’s singing has always been more of a hum), her favorite musician is by far Elvis.  Her house features several portraits of the king of rock and roll, and she even owns one of his scarves from a concert she went to back in the day, sweat and all.  She always said she was going to clone him someday.

When she was 15, she met my grandpa, Richard, who was 18 at the time.  The next year the two were married.  She was kicked out of high school once the school administrators found out that she had been married.  The excuse was that married people had sex and they didn’t want her telling anyone about sex.  She says that the thing she regrets most is not finishing school.  She loves to read.  Her closet is like a library, if libraries were filled with 90% Danielle Steel books.  Her dream was to become a flight attendant.  However, since she couldn’t finish school that was impossible.

Instead, she was a house wife for quite some time.  She watched over the household while my grandpa stayed in an apartment in Madison during the week to do work at the capital.  Eventually she helped my grandpa and dad run their car restoration shop.  Her job in the office was essential to the business:

“I had to know where and when every single part was made, and I had to make sure everything was paid for.  I had a lot of fun there!  Your grandpa and dad were there everyday and some women from town that also worked in the office.  I used to take smoke breaks with the other ladies that worked there, but I never told your grandpa.  He definitely smelled it, but we never talked about it.”  

She did, however, find some way to fulfill her airborne dreams.  Both she and my grandpa got their pilots licenses.  She says, “I could land just perfect,” and she could go on for an hour about the Mooney airplane that she and my grandpa would take out flying on Sundays.

Before ever having kids, Mr. and Mrs. Braund were married for about 10 years.  She said that this allowed them to spend a lot of time as just husband and wife before adding kids into the mix.  She attributes much of their strong marriage to this.  “Don’t rush,” she says.  My grandparents had two children.  My aunt, Susan, and my father, also Richard, weren’t their only babies, though.  They also had several interesting pets.  They had a poodle named Suzie (who they actually decided to name my aunt after), three St. Bernards named Bourbon, Brandy and Sasha, two peacocks Pete and Perky, a macaw named Chandler (named after the shoe store they bought him in) and a cat named Venus (who my sister used to call Penis because she couldn’t pronounce her ‘v’s).  Now, she has a cat named Honey Girl, but St. Bernards are her true love.  They are right up there on her favorite-things list with Elvis and the Green Bay Packers.  (Note: She is the biggest Packer fan in the state of Wisconsin.  She has a book of every score of every game she has ever watched.  I dated a Bears fan in high school, and she still brings it up.)

Christianity has also played a huge role in my grandmas life.  Growing up she attended a Baptist church every Sunday as well as a Baptist school.  After marrying my grandfather, they went to the local Methodist church which is the same church were my parents were married, I was baptized and confirmed in.  She still goes as much as she can, which can be difficult at her age, but I remember she never missed a Sunday when I was growing up.  She always sat in the same pew and wore her Green Bay Packer broach.  Whenever my family went, we sat by her, and she would give me tootsie pops to eat while I scribbled on my church bulletin.  She attributes Jesus for getting her through her long life.  She says, “church has made me happy when times were bad, and you know, because of God, they were never that bad.”  She would always tell me when I was very young that every star in the sky is someone in heaven, so whenever I missed my grandpa to look up and there he was.  It was a beautiful way to think of our loved ones passing on and remembering that they are still looking over us.

My grandpa died in 2000 of an aneurysm and left my grandma a widow after 51 years of marriage.  However, before that they had an incredibly strong relationship.  She had several ideas when I asked her why she thought that their marriage was so successful.  Most simply, she said “we really loved each other.”  She also pointed out that they never fought over things that “didn’t matter” because “it was just a fight then, and it was never even important”.  My grandpa was a very serious and accomplished man.  He was a Brigadier General in the National Guard, ran a business and wrote a book.  However, she said that, unlike his colleagues and their wives, he was never embarrassed of her.  He always took her to work parties and car shows.  She says, “I loved going out to fancy parties with your grandpa because I got to dress up and wear my shoes.  It made me feel really special.  And he always danced with me even if he didn’t want to because he knew how much I loved to dance.”

Since the death of my grandpa almost two decades ago, she has had a few suitors, but she hasn’t really been all that interested.  “They come and knock on my door, but I pretend not to be home,” she says, (which may be the most I’ve ever related to my grandma).  She has had love in her life, and she says now that she has enough love from her kids and grandkids and that she doesn’t need anyone to “put their shoes under [her] bed”.

She does have a loooot of friends though.  Going out and about in my hometown with my grandma is like going out with a Kardashian.  Everyone stops you and wants to say hi, so I asked what she does to be such a good friend.  She says that she always cheers her friends up when they’ve had a bad day, she doesn’t gossip and she doesn’t care what others think.  “A lot of people didn’t really like [one of my friends], but I didn’t care.  I liked her, so who gives a shit?!” she says.  More people need to think like Pat.


“Dress up, it’ll make you feel special”

“Stay close to your family and call whenever you can” (this might’ve been a hint which I most definitely will be taking)

“Don’t rush.”

“Always pay for at least some of the meal when men take you out.  It’s only fair.  You can take care of your self, and you don’t need anyone else to feed you.”

“Don’t holler!  Most things aren’t worth fighting over.”

“Finish school and become whatever you want to be before settling down and getting married.”

“Don’t be jealous of people, be happy for them.”

“If you ever miss someone who has passed away, look up.”

And last but not least, something that is very important to my grandma… “it’s called ‘supper’, not ‘dinner'”

I hope that this post inspires you to get to know your grandparents a little better.  While writing this, I learned a lot about my grandma and got to spend a few quality hours with her.  I think that it also really made her day that I was so curious about her life and wanted her advice, so call up your grandma or grandpa and take them out to lunch.  You might learn something, and you’ll definitely have a great time.

– ♥ Alana

Here are some photos I took at my grandma’s that I think really capture what she is all about:


Grandma and her Mooney airplane

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Grandma is a little bit different than your typical “have you eaten” grandma.  Instead she offers me Oreos, but I’m not complainin’.
An old newspaper article showcasing my grandpa’s business building Duesenberg IIs.

Someday: My Travel Bucket List

I’ve been very fortunate in my childhood and early adulthood to have been given so many opportunities to see the world.  However, like most good things, that has just left me wanting more.  I constantly find myself dreaming of traveling to places far and wide.  Below is a list of my dream destinations as well as what I’ve found during my day dreaming travel research sessions.

Antelope Canyon – Page, AZ


A photographers dream, Antelope Canyon is a canyon located on Navajo land in AZ.  It was formed by the rushing of water through the stone.  By definition, slot canyons are much deeper than they are wide, making for stunning views and a humbling experience.

There are actually two canyons at Antelope Canyon, the lower canyon and upper canyon.  All of the sites I’ve looked at have recommended the Lower Antelope Canyon.  The underground canyon only allows groups of 10 people in at once with 15 minutes in between each group which leads to a much less crowded viewing experience.  Also, since the lower canyon is underground, it is much cooler in the Arizona heat.  Because of this, it is recommended to visit during late summer in the early morning to beat the crowds.

Nearby Antelope Canyon are several other beautiful natural sites such as Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, and Lone Rock Beach.  This area is also very camper friendly, making for an Instagram-worthy, adventurous getaway!

Cape Cod, MA


I’ve always loved the vibe of the east coast.  So of course, I would love to visit the most typical east coast destination: Cape Cod.

Of course, anytime you’re on the eastern seaboard, you must eat affordable, fresh, delicious lobster.  However, Cape Cod’s chamber of commerce also recommends a top rated pizza place, and I can never turn down a good pizza.

Not only is the cape a beautiful setting with amazing shops, food and beaches, but it is also rich with history.  This area was the original settlement of the Wampanoag Native Americans and nearby the landing place of the Pilgrims.  Of course, the museums in the area are a must-see.

If Cape Cod isn’t enough, it is only a short 1 hour drive from Boston, a beautiful 1 1/2 hour coastal drive to Provincetown, and a 2 hour ferry ride to Nantucket.

Barcelona, Spain


If I’m being completely honest, I first wanted to go to Barcelona as soon as the Cheetah Girls did, but the more I research it, the more I yearn to go.  My favorite thing to see in new places is hands down architecture, and Barcelona has some of the best such as the Sagrada Família.

However, even if architecture isn’t your thing, there is still plenty to see and do such as seeing the Flamenco Show and experiencing the native dance, food, music and wine all at one at the Palacio del Flamenco in the heart of the city.  Another fascinating attraction I’ve decided I must see are medieval villages just outside of the city.  These villages are pristinely preserved on the water and small-group tours by boat are available!

San Francisco and San Diego, CA


If you grew up in the 1990s or 2000s, you know it is impossible to see that photo and not hear “Every where you look…” and the rest of the Full House theme song play through your head instantly.

Actually, though, I’m not going to write much on San Fran/San Diego now because I will be posting an in depth blog post (or 2 or 3) during my trip there from June 2nd to the 10th!  Hopefully I’ll meet my Jesse Katsopolis while I’m there (swoon).

Seattle, WA


Another dream travel destination inspired by one of my favorite TV shows, Grey’s Anatomy.  Although there is no actual Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital to visit, Seattle does have so much to offer such as the birthplace of Starbucks, the famous Pike Place Market (pictured above) and the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) which looks like a smashed guitar from the outside and has everything you’d ever want to know about American culture on the inside.

The Chihuly Garden and Glass museum is sure to be stunning.  I was able to visit a Chihuly exhibit at the botanical gardens in Dallas, TX.  Dale Chihuly, the artist, is a Seattle native.  And if you aren’t able to see everything individually, you can always view it all from the sky in the Seattle Great Wheel or the Space Needle.

Of course, above all else, I must take a ride on the Washington State Ferries across Puget Sound in honor of Dr. McDreamy, may he rest in peace.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Ever since watching a video in high school Spanish, I’ve wanted to go to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival.  However, even if I don’t go during Carnival, my research tells me that the city is bound to be amazing.  The streets are lively and filled with the sounds of samba, funk and hip-hop, and the beaches are tropical and relaxing.

Plus, being in the southern hemisphere, Brazil’s summer months are opposite of ours, so Rio is the perfect winter destination to escape from the long Wisconsin winters.

London, England


London has always seemed like a very unique place to me.  It is full of regal history and urban culture all at once.  It is a hub of music, fashion and art culture, and it is the beginnings of American history.

I’ve always wanted to visit during the fall because something about walking around London in booties and a peacoat jacket seems super chic.

Of course, I want to see the typical sights: Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, a guard who cannot smile, etc.  However, some out-of-the-norm options really intrigue me as well, such as the Borough Market, which offers more than 100 market and street food options, and the Camden Vintage Market which brings together vintage clothing vendors as well as food and live music and DJS.



Who doesn’t want to see the most vivid Northern Lights dance around the sky?!

Reykjavik offers beautifully colorful architecture, creative people who supply the cities with countless art exhibits, and supposedly wild nightlife below the northern lights.

Only 40 minutes down the road is the stunning blue lagoon.  The vibrant blue hot springs is said to have spa-like affects on the skin, and BONUS, everything around the lagoon powered naturally by the geothermal seawater!



There are so many enchanting destinations in Thailand.  First, Chiang Rai is home to so much Thai culture.  The churches are built extremely intricately, and you can soak in the architecture all set in front of the beautiful Phi Pan Nam Mountains.  Just south of Chiang Rai is Chiang Mai which offers a greener setting than Chiang Rai.  Chiang Mai is known for being home to some of Thailand’s most beautiful temples, however those ancient architectural gems are mixed into the modern city that is Chiang Mai.  Scattered between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai is rainforest, sprinkled with gorgeous waterfalls and elephant sanctuaries!

Of course you can’t travel to Thailand without checking out Bangkok.  The city is known for its colorful street markets and wild nightlife.  For me, the most exciting part of it all is the delicious food readily available to those walking around and taking in the views.



Chile is an interesting country with a wide array of landscapes.  In the south, you will find snowy mountains perfect for skiing, and in the north there are volcanoes, lush greenery and desserts.  Almost half of the country is coastline!

One thing I for sure have to see before I die is Los Pinguinos Natural Monument which is located on Magdalena Island.  It is home to more than 120,000 Magellanic Penguins from September to March every year.

Valparaíso is a lesser known Chliean city located on the coastline in the middle of the country.  It is known for its brightly colored Mediterranean style houses that line green, rocky hillsides.  The city also has mazes on cobblestone alleyways that hold all kinds of cultural treasures.

Other noteworthy sites to see in Chile are the San Rafael Glacier, the Chilean Fjords, Santiago, and of course Easter Island!

Marrakesh, Morocco


The beautiful tile sided buildings and painted woodwork of Marrakesh bring color to the desert in Morocco.

There are street markets that twist through the city for miles, mosques that hum with prayer of the extremely faithful locals and the North African spices are sure to dazzle your tastebuds!

If all of that aren’t enough, once you venture from the heart of the city, you can ride camels through the desert and soak in the sun washed landscape.

I personally have always loved Moroccan style and colors.  I’ve always dreamed of having a Moroccan rug in my future home.



My family’s heritage is mostly German, so I’ve always wanted to visit.  Of course, ideally I’d love to go during Oktoberfest to enjoy a German brew and an authentic brat with sauerkraut.

I’ve also always found the holocaust to tragically interesting.  It would be a true experience to see the country in which it all started.

Also on my list to see someday…

  1. Singapore
  2. Egypt
  3. Toronto, Canada
  4. Bora Bora
  5. Australia
  6. Zanzibar
  7. Marfa, TX
  8. Switzerland
  9. Agra, India


All photos in this post are provided by Pexels

Push for Progress

Hello, everybody!

It is March 8th, International Women’s Day!

If you don’t know what Women’s Day is, you can find a complete history of the day here.  Today is a celebration of women around the world and, more importantly, a day to shed light on topics that affect over half of the world’s population: girls.

This year’s theme is Push for Progress.  Women around the world are pushing for gender equality when it comes to wages and education and simply pushing to feel safe in our work places, homes and on our streets.  You can become a part of the Push for Progress movement in about 15 seconds here.

I’ve always been a big believer in girl power.  I grew up surrounded by strong female role models.  (I was raised by a single mother who is a master sergeant in the Wisconsin National guard and has put in over 20 years of service.  I also have four older sisters and 9 aunts who I’ve always strived to be like.)  The thought that I was limited based on my gender never occurred to me.  I remember being shocked and frankly confused the first time I heard that women were not being compensated at the same level as men or that in some countries education was seen as a privilege that girls often do not enjoy.

However, as I’ve gotten older I have seen some of the downfalls of being a women in today’s society first hand.  For example, when I went to the doctor about my Endometriosis, I had to go to 5 doctors before I could find one that would even listen to me.  One doctor even sent me to counseling and told me that my pain was purely emotional without even touching me or doing a single test.  I pushed against the doctors that wouldn’t listen to me because I am a young girl until I found someone who would listen and treat me.  Of course this is nothing but a drop in the bucket compared to what other girls go through every single day.

I am proud to be female.  Women do great things every day.  Mothers (and fathers) and teachers across the globe raise the future citizens of our world to dream and achieve their goals no matter their gender, race, religion, social class or sexual identity.  Young women like Parkland High School student, Emma Gonzalez, are leading the way to end gun violence in our schools.  Women in Hollywood are getting bigger roles in popular movies, shifting the way we perceive women in the media.  Women all over the world are doing their parts to instill body positive thoughts in our youth.  Slowly but surely women are getting the chances to serve powerful roles in government, science, philanthropy and industry.

I hope you are inspired today to push against whatever is holding you back and strive to achieve your goals no matter your setbacks.  Also, I hope that today you are proud to be a woman.

– ♥ Alana

Lastly, here are some of my favorite quotes on the topic of International Women’s Day:

“I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” ―Malala Yousafzai

“Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” —G.D. Anderson

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.”―Bette Davis

“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” ―Gloria Steinem

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” —Audre Lorde

“I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story–I will.” —Amy Schumer

And here are some wise words from everyone’s favorite feminist, Leslie Knope:



Hey Everyone!

Welcome back!  I’ve missed writing so much, so I decided to restart my blog.  However, I had to make it over just a bit, so Alana Abroad is now All Things Alana!  All of the posts from Alana Abroad can now be found under the travel tab!

If you’re new to the blog, nice to meet you!  I’m Alana, a 20 year old third year college student at Winona State University in Minnesota.  I’m originally from small town Wisconsin and that is where my heart remains, although my brain is usually wandering around the world during long lectures.  I am majoring in Elementary Education and Middle School Math, and I hope to shape the lives of little ones someday soon.  Outside of school, my passions are for fashion, beauty, travel, family and friends and anywhere that I can express myself creatively!

Thank you for being apart of my journey!  You can expect a new post very soon!  Tell me a little bit about you and your passions!

– ♥ Alana


Sunsets in Santorini

DAY 22

On Friday, Ylenia headed back to Amsterdam because she had to work in the weekend and Lara, Shawn, Ivo and I got on a Ferry to Santorini! I’ve wanted to go to Santorini since I was (INSERT AGE HERE) and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants came out featuring Alexis Bledel’s character spending the summer with her Grandparents in Santorini. It’s always been at the top of my list, so to say I was excited was an understatement.


We arrived in the harbor at Santorini and it was a mad house. Several boats brought hundreds of tourists to the landing area and everyone was bustling around trying to get on busses that were so full they were turning people down to ride donkeys up the mountain to their destinations. Luckily, a van from our hotel was there to pick us up, but the traffic was jam packed on the narrow, windy, back-and-forth road up the cliffs.

Once we got to our hotel we ate lunch while waiting for our rooms to be prepared. We had some really good sunbaked tomato infused bread and olives, of course.

We then got settled into our rooms. Lara’s and my room had a great view of the Santorini bay and Santorini’s famous blue and white buildings stacked on top of one another up and down cliffs. The view was made even better with our beautiful terrace with an infinity pool and hot tub.


Lara and I enjoyed our pool along with the welcome wine and yogurt that they brought us for awhile before getting cleaned up and walking around.


In Oia, the village we stayed in, the main part of town is only walking streets lined with shops, some of which were extremely high end and pricey and some really cute and affordable. We got a bit of shopping done and ran into Shawn and Ivo who told us we would meet at 8 to go to dinner.

We had dinner at a restaurant named Catch which had a rooftop terrace in a prime location to watch the sunset! It was one of the most gorgeous sunsets I have ever seen and the food and wine were wonderful. I had a pasta with shrimp and wine in a tomato based sauce and a glass of a sparkling Moscato (probably my favorite wine of the whole trip).


We returned to the hotel and Lara and I enjoyed our hot tub and pool a bit more before heading to bed.

DAY 23

On Saturday we attempted a the 10 mile hike to Fira, the main city of Santorini. However, I had only brought sandals, so about 2 miles in, when the path turned to climbing unsteady rocks up the cliff, I said good luck to the crew and turned around meandering back to the hotel slowly and taking a million photos, of course.

Once Lara, Ivo and Shawn returned we had lunch at a Greek Tapas place that the concierge recommended. It was fabulous. All of the produce and other ingredients were local and the dishes were delicious.

After lunch, we did a bit more relaxing and met in the evening to take a walk all together. We went the opposite direction as Lara and I had gone the day before and saw some really nice handmade Greek jewelry and art galleries. We all had a drink at the hotel bar and us three ladies were gifted really beautiful little roses by the bartender.


DAY 24

Sunday was our last full day in Santorini so we made sure to make the most of it. After treating ourselves to cheesecake and chocolate cake for breakfast, we went our separate ways for walks. Lara and I grabbed our cameras and strolled down the coastline taking photos before everyone else on the island woke up and cluttered the view.

It then got very hot so we made our way back to our pool and relaxed awhile before going back out to shop. We had a great shopping trip this time! We turned down a few side roads which were much less crowded and found a really nice gelatoria as well as some much different shops and a really adorable book store.


The book store, Atlantis Books, is apparently known around the world (most likely by book worms–that doesn’t include myself), but the shop was so welcoming and had so much to offer, even a strict movie watcher and magazine-only reader like myself felt compelled to wander around and even purchase a few books. I bought Bad Feminist, a compilation of essays by Roxane Gay (that I actually had read about in Elle magazine), and a journal (more my style), and Lara bought two non-fiction books written about doctors in their residencies.

After our very successful shopping trip we met Shawn and Ivo at the hotel’s gourmet restaurant for dinner. This was a very different dining experience, and I’ve got to say, it was probably my least favorite since leaving the good ole US of A. The food was unpronounceable and featured things like “fish mousse”, “truffle foam” and some weird green (orange-leaf-frozen-yogurt-topping-esque) sac filled with melon juice and topped with tomato paste. Call me uncultured, but I was really missing Momma’s homemade mac’n’cheese and Taco Bell’s Cool Ranch Doritos Loco taco in that moment. I’m quite the picky eater, so the fact that I’ve had lamb and seafood several times in the passed week amazes me. Maybe I’ll get to mushroom-paste-level someday, but Sunday July 30th, 2017 was not that day.

DAY 25

Monday was the day we had to sadly say goodbye to my personal heaven, Santorini, and go back to the Netherlands. We had breakfast at the hotel and packed our bags. Then, we got in a van enroute to the tiny airport in Thira. We had just beat the Amsterdam-bound crowd and got checked in and our bags checked quite quickly. Then we had to exit the building to get in line for security. The security was extremely painless. We ended up with an hour to wait. We didn’t have to spend much time finding our gate, since there are only 6, so we relaxed on the terrace where you could watch the planes land and take off.

We boarded on time and quite smoothly, and enjoyed our painless 3 1/2 hour ride back to Amsterdam.

When we were finally back home to Delft, Ivo made me spaghetti one last time. Then I unpacked from Greece and repacked to go home. I cannot believe my journey is coming to an end. It has definitely been one I will never forget.



Heels + cobblestone = twisted ankles.  Good thing we had Ivo to hold us up.


Santorini is literally a desert in the middle of the sea.



Sun, Salt & Sweets in Crete


We landed in Crete (an island in Greece) on Saturday night and arrived at the hotel a bit later than we anticipated.  We had an hour and a half delay in Amsterdam (once we were already on the plane), a 3 and a half hour flight and spent about an hour waiting for our luggage before getting in the taxi for an hour long ride to our villa, but it was all so worth it.  Once we got to St. Nikolas Bay Resort, the owner himself showed us to our villa, where he had an array of fresh local fruits and desserts along with a bottle of champagne waiting for us.  We sat and ate for awhile and said goodnight quickly, all of us tired after a long day of travel.

DAY 18

On Sunday, we woke up and went to the breakfast buffet included in our stay, which was really good.  Then we headed back to our villa to enjoy our private pool.


We spent most of the day relaxing at the pool and the beach before heading into the nearest town, Aghios Nikolaos.  It was about 4 miles to the heart of town, up and down hill, and the route was mostly seaside with beautiful views of the coast, boats and Cretan architecture.


We did a little “shoppy-shoppy” in Ivo’s words, and had a drink while waiting for our reservation at the number one restaurant in town according to Foursquare.  The restaurant was authentic Greek food with a great atmosphere.  Most restaurants have only outdoor seating because of how ideal the weather is here, and there were a million beautiful lights making the patio area glow.  The food and local wine were so good.  I tried my first Gyro (btw, does anyone in the world know how to pronounce that properly?!) and I understand the hype.  Also, they brought us complimentary appetizers AND desserts without us ordering anything.  At first, we were confused but after looking around we realized they were doing that at every table.  To top it off, the bill was only $56!  That is a craft of red wine, a glass of white wine (for me because I’m picky), two table-sized bottles of water (one still, one sparkling), a large salad to share, five entrees, the complimentary appetizers and the complimentary desserts (shown below) for only $56!!  I’m still amazed.

After returning to the resort, we enjoyed some of the bartender’s “signature Greek drinks”, and hit the hay.


DAY 19

Monday was a verrrrry chill day.  I ended up sleeping until 1:30 (oops), so I missed breakfast and most of the morning activities, but once I woke up, Ivo, Lara, Ylenia and I went to the beach and swam around for awhile while Shawn was on a conference call.  Then, we all met for a late lunch/early dinner.  The eating habbits are so relaxed here.  At the resort, lunch is open from 11 to 7.  After eating, we relaxed some more and soaked in the beautiful views of Crete.


DAY 20

On Tuesday we rented a car with a driver for the morning and afternoon, so we ate breakfast early (by early I mean 9 o’clock) and then headed to the reception to meet our chauffeur for the day.  This was by the hottest day that we’ve spent here so far at 105 degrees with absolutely no breeze.

It was a long, windy car ride.

We first went to Lasithi Plateau (la-city plateau), which was about an hour drive through the mountains, providing some of the most beautiful views.  Once we got there I was a little confused.  I’d never seen Lasithi spelled out so I thought we were going to a big city in the mountains (blonde moment).  Instead it was more like a farmers plateau, but there was a really cool archeological site.

We arrived at what looked like just a giant parking lot with a lot of tour busses.  Shortly after the start of our walk in the same direction all of the tourists were going I realized we were about to climb a mountain. *Cue the constant stream of complaints about how hot it is and how I’m not wearing the right shoes for this*.

Once we got to the top of the mountain, we waited in line to buy our tickets and then we saw a staircase leading into a giant cave in the ground.  It was so cool.  Literally.  It was like the best air conditioning in the world, and the sight of it was so amazing.  Reportedly, it was the birthplace of Zeus.

After our super long hike, we had the best frozen yogurt I’ve ever tasted.  Greek yogurt is truly a special breed of yogurt, but nothing like the Greek yogurt you buy at the super market from Yoplait or something.  It doesn’t have the tang to it.  It is super smooth and often mixed with the best honey in the world, also from Greece.

Our minivan adventure then carried on to Kritsa, a village known for selling local handmade goods.  There were so many little shops with really cool silver and gold jewelry, beatiful handmade tapestries, leather sandals and blown glass vases as well as so many natural foods stores with herbs and other goods directly from Crete.


We then returned to the resort.  I took a nap, exhausted from CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN IN 105 DEGREE HEAT AND FLIP FLOPS (sorry, last little whine I had left in me).  I’ve also had a really weird headache since we got to Greece, which I think I figured out is because I haven’t had my daily Diet Coke.

Later in the evening we went to the resorts Greek restaurant and pigged out.  We got eight starters, bread, cocktails (the drink of the night was a passionfruit margarita, so yes please), wine and main courses of lamb, steak and goat meat.


DAY 20

Wednesday morning was another late one for me.  I was awoken by the maintenance crew drilling on the villa next to ours at 11:30.  Lara, Ylenia, Ivo and Shawn had all already been up for hours enjoying the pool and local breakfast foods.  I spent a few hours soaking up the sun, before we had lunch.


After lunch, Lara, Ylenia and Ivo went into town to explore a bit more.  Shawn and I stayed back.  I edited some photos for Alana Braund Photography, and we had a really nice chat.

DAY 21

It is our last day in Crete.  Lara and I woke up and went snorkeling!  It was my first time, so everything I saw was the coolest thing in the world (we saw an octopus, a lot of beautiful fish, a crab and an eel), but Lara said it wasn’t the best snorkeling experience she’s ever had.

We then relaxed by the pool for awhile to work on our tans as much as we can before we have to leave the island tomorrow morning.


To cap off our last night in Crete, we went for another dinner at the Greek restaurant in town that we went to on Sunday.  It was just as good the second time, and the walk there at sunset was beautiful.

Flying Solo

DAY 16

On Friday, I didn’t have to go into Nature’s Pride, but Shawn and Ivo had to work and Lara had to go to Rotterdam so for the first time on the trip it was up to me to make my own plans for the day. If you know me personally, you know that I’m a very anxious, cautious person and I don’t very often push myself out of my comfort zone. However, on Friday I did.


I decided to take a walk (after sleeping in until noon of course) and ended up at the tram station. I got on the tram towards Scheveningen (the beach on the North Sea in The Hauge) with no plans other than to see what happens. First I got off near the Delft city center and attempted to find a place to get my nails done (high maintenance, I know), but every place I found said they didn’t have openings for weeks. Crazy.

Then I decided I was hungry and was excited that I could pick whatever I wanted since I was alone. I got back on the tram with plans to get off whenever I saw somewhere I wanted to eat. I ended up picking McDonald’s (oops).

I didn’t realize that I was in the city center of The Hauge until I was leaving McDonald’s, so I did a little walking around and exploring. It was a really cool experience to be alone in a foreign city. I didn’t feel rushed or like I had to accommodate anyone I was with. I could walk into whatever shops I wanted, go down whatever street I wanted, take as long as I wanted and stop to take as many pictures as I wanted. It was a super effective way of soaking in the culture.
I returned home to Shawn and Ivo’s at around 6 and had locked myself out, so I called Ivo and he came home to let me in. While I was waiting I got to call and catch up with my Momma ❤️.


For dinner we had grilled cheeses with Champagne because, you know, Friday. Then it was a chill night of FaceTime and packing. I’m really proud of myself for getting over my fears and going out and taking public transportation in a foreign country with a foreign language without cellphone service and exploring, and I’m really glad I did it.

DAY 17

On Saturday, Shawn, Ivo and I packed up the trunk and went to pick up Lara and Ylenia on our way to Amsterdam. We had lunch at The Avocado Show, a new restaurant in the heart of the city that has become super popular with locals and tourists alike. The wait was over an hour and is usually longer. Since I’ve been in the Netherlands at least 6 people have talked about going to (or trying to go to) The Avocado Show and I had seen posts about it on social media even when I was back in Wisconsin, so I knew it was something I had to see.


It was definitely worth all of the hype. The basic concept is that everything on the menu contains Avocado. Most of it is vegetarian (there is only one meat option–chicken skewers which were 10/10) and there are a lot of vegan options as well. It is all very good for you, but not in a “I’m going to eat this because it’s good for me” way, more of a “I’m going to eat this because it tastes good and ooh yay it’s good for me too!” kind of way. To top it all off, every dish was a work of art. There were even edible fresh flowers to decorate the plates.

After we left The Avocado Show, we headed to the airport. Where to next? Stay tuned at to find out!

The Halfway Mark & Farewell Nature’s Pride

DAY 14

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I left Wisconsin!  I especially can’t believe that I only have one more day of interning at Nature’s Pride!  This internship has honestly been the opportunity of a lifetime.  By working with almost every department, I really got a good overview of the whole company and everything that goes into running a successful company, and this opportunity opened my eyes to what I want to do as a career.  Marketing has definitely been my favorite department to work with.  I get to use my creativity in a practical way in a business setting and I love that!

Writting this blog over the last few weeks, however, has made me think that I would enjoy a job in journalism as well though, so now I have to pick between journalism and marketing.  I must just be completely unsatisfied with knowing what I want to do and not being totally lost and confused.  Yay.

Another thing that I’ve had a lot of time to think about is whether or not I could see myself leaving the U.S. for good.  I think that if it weren’t for most of my loved ones living in Wisconsin and the fact that is somewhat difficult to travel back and forth between Europe and America, I would never come home.  But the people that I fill my life with are so soooo important to me, so I don’t think I could up and move across the ocean by myself quite yet.  Maybe after school or later in life.

Wednesday at Nature’s Pride, I finished my final project analysing the difference in the way that American produce companies (Dole Food Company, Whole Food’s Market and Trader Joe’s mainly) use social media to market their products versus how Nature’s Pride does.  At first, when I recieved the assignment, I thought, “it’s the internet.  It’s the same everywhere,” but it turns out I was wrong because I actually found very different trends especially between the Instagram accounts of American produce brands and those of European ones.  Basically, American brands try to interact with their consumers much more on social media while European brands tend to just use social medias to inform.  The paper is 8 pages long, so I hope Shawn, Fred, Adrielle and Jan Willem (the marketing director) are ready to be schooled on Instagram from the viewpoint of someone who’s on it 23 hours a day.  (The other one is for sleeping.) 😛

After work and my usual post-work nap, Ivo and Lara showed me what they like to do whenever Shawn is away: dinner at IKEA.  I was surprised to discover that IKEA has a full functioning cafeteria as well as a Target- or Sam’s Club-style food counter.  We had Swedish meat balls (so good) and the drinks were refillable!!  Finally.  That’s one of the things I miss most about the U.S. honestly (other than my family and friends of course).

DAY 15

On Thursday, I was in the warehouse for my last day at Nature’s Pride.  I first started with Mateusz, a young worker on the incoming side who’s English was rough, but he was very nice and a great teacher.  Mateusz showed me his job of counting the boxes on the incoming pallets and labeling them with barcodes.  Then I went to order picking with Jesse.  I got to drive the forklift-ish thing around, find the boxes that we needed to build the pallet for the customer, scan the products so their location was updated in the system, finish the pallet with plastic wrap and cardboard corners and take it to the outgoing side of the warehouse.

Profile pic material, am I right?!

After orderpicking, I went to the outgoing side with Mus, who showed me his very simple but verrrrry important job of checking the outgoing pallets to assure that the customers all got what they’d ordered.  Then, Mo, who works in the warehouse office, showed me how he coordinates everything that happens between Nature’s Pack, incoming, outgoing and the truck drivers so that everything goes smoothly and all customers are happy.

The warehouse was a super interesting.  Everything moves very fast paced, since the product is fresh and has a very short shelf life, and it is also very cold for that same reason.  Also, I was the only girl in the whole building, so that was interesting.  I think I was hit on more in my 3 hours at the warehouse than collectively in my entire life which was strange, but hey at least they were nice to me and didn’t care when I ran the forklift into the shelves and almost ran people over.

I FINALLY got to have lunch with Shawn… On my last day.  She’s a very busy woman.  Then we took off a little bit early to go do some shopping in Rotterdam.


I’m so spoiled.  I got THEE most stunning shoes in the whole world.  A few pairs of jeans, a few shirts and the most delicious perfume from a parfumerie that is run by a friend of Shawn’s.  I actually was there the first time I visited when I was 13 and I still have the empty bottle from that trip.


This style is suuuuuper European, and HELLO who can say no to comfortable glittery shoes with studs?!  Limited edition Valentinos.  *Heart eyes*.

After shopping, Ivo met us at a restaurant called 1 zero 8 (literally the house number for the building) and we had wine and tapas.  Then, we returned home and I took the longest shower ever (to wash the warehouse off of me).  I am SO looking forward to being able to sleep in past 6:30 for the first time this trip!


Hello everyone!

I just wanted to thank you all for being so nice and welcoming to me these last few weeks!  Thank you all for everything you’ve taught me!  Special thanks to everyone who took time out of their days to talk to me about their jobs, to Daisy for giving up your computer more than once so I could use the English version of Photoshop, to Daniella for ALL the bandaids, to Maya for answering my many questions and being so sweet and helpful, to everyone I had lunch with, to the marketing girls for showing me cool shoes and of course to Shawn, Fred and Adrielle for this amazing opportunity.  I learned so much in the past 11 work days than I could have in 11 weeks in a classroom.  I’ll always remember this experience!

*3 kisses*,




Spaghetti & Sustainablility

DAY 12 


At Nature’s Pride on Monday I was with the avocado and mango sourcing team.  avocados and mangos are NP’s two most popular products, making up about half of all sales among the 100 products that they offer.  The sourcing team I followed is responsible for acquiring the mangos and avocados from growers all over the world.  They must coordinate everyone’s growing seasons so that they get the highest quality product all year round.

The sourcing team also has to organize all of the stock and make sure that there is enough fruit to fill the orders that the sales team inputs into the system and not too much excess.  They also have to communicate with the warehouse and production when they need what orders by and all of the incoming shipments as well as talking to the ripening team and quality control department about the status of the fruit.

I also snuck back over to the marketing department (my fav) to talk to the girls over there and see if there was anything they needed help with.  They gave me an assignment to make a banner for a local festival advertising NP.  I made it on Photoshop, but it was unlike anything I’ve done since my yearbook days in high school.  Here is what I came up with…


After work, Ivo made his delicious spaghetti again!


Following dinner, Lara, Lisa and I went into Delft.  I’ve actually never seen the city center despite having visited the city 3 times.  We took the tram, which was cool to experience, and walked around for a while before finding the cutest gelatoria.  There were more flavors of gelato than I’ve ever seen in my life!  None of us could decide and we ended up with 8 flavors of ice cream between the 3 off us.  (Heart eyes).


We walked around a bit more and took some photos.  All of the shops close at around 5 on weekdays here so there wasn’t a lot to do, but there was a lot to see and the weather was beautiful.


DAY 13

At work on Tuesday, I toured the ripening rooms at Nature’s Pride in the morning.  Hirich, one of the lead ripeners, has been ripening avocados, mangos, kiwis and papayas at NP for 8 years, so he had a lot of information to share with me.  Ripening is a science and it took a lot of time and money to become one of the leading fruit ripening companies in the world, so there was also a lot of information he could not share because most companies still don’t have it quite figured out.

It was, however, still very interesting, I learned a lot about what happens in and out of the 50 ripening rooms including a lot of quality checks at several different points in the products.  I got to perform a few tests myself on the pressure and sugar levels of the fruits.  I also got to eat a lot of mango, kiwi and avocado, so of course that made for a great morning along with Hirich’s humor and useful life knowledge such as, “if there are two unpredictable things in life, they are women and fruit.”

I then met the Sustainable Business department, and they took me straight to lunch.  I got to ask them a lot of cultural questions which was awesome.  There are four people on the team.  Coon was born and raised in the Netherlands, has lived in Argentina (where he met his wife) and Washington D.C. and now lives in Spain and works mostly from home with monthly (ish) visits to the office in  Maasdijk.  Dani was born in Colombia, lived in Curaçao (a Dutch commonwealth) from 10-18 and moved to the Netherlands for college.  Stefanie has always lived in the Netherlands, and there is another team member who lives currently in South America working closely with the growers there on environmental efforts and improving their crop.  I really enjoyed my lunch with Coon, Stefanie and Dani because there were so many cultural perspectives, and Coon made sure to ask if I prefer East coast or West coast American rap: a very serious personal question that I am still pondering.  

Working with the Sustainable Business department was also very cool.  They gave me a presentation and generally talked about what they do, and they are all so passionate about their work.  They focus on social and environmental efforts here within the company and in the communities of NP’s growers all over the world.

Dani showed me some really interesting and powerful videos produced by the Conservation International Nature is Speaking Campaign.  The videos feature several very well known American celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson speaking as different aspects of nature (mother earth, the rainforest, water, ice, etc.), and the tagline at the end of each video reads “Nature doesn’t need people.  People need nature.”  I would highly, highly suggest taking a look at the videos.

Dani also showed me Nature’s Pride’s goals in terms of sustainability of the world wide community for the next 13 years which follow the 17 Sustainable Development Goals decided upon by the United Nations in 2015.  The most important one goal Nature’s Pride individually is “zero hunger” which highlights the fact that 40% of the worlds economy is powered by agriculture, which is most of what NP does.  The UN and Nature’s Pride believe that if we can improve our agriculture system including how we grow our food and the compensation to farmers and farm workers in underdeveloped parts of the world, we can greatly improve food security and the quality of nutrition everywhere.

The team then talked to me about the social projects that Nature’s Pride has done in the underdeveloped countries that their fruit comes from through the Nature’s Pride Foundation.  Nature’s Pride requires all of their growers to be fair trade certified by one of seven private organizations.  They then donate a fair for life premium of 7 cents per box back to the growers in ways that will benefit the employees on the farms and in the packhouses in places like Peru, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.  They have built schools and irrigation systems in Guatemala as well as providing improved training for the teachers there, built a water system and provided vaccines for the people that work for one of Nature’s Pride’s major importers in the Dominican Repulic and they are currently working on an intervention in Colombia to change the way of thinking about domestic violence there.

After work, Ivo, Lara and I got pizza and had a lazy night in complete with bad European reality TV.


City & Sea: A Weekend in Ireland

DAY 9 


On Friday, I left work early (around 12:45) for those exciting weekend plans I’ve been hinting about so much.  Ivo picked me up, and he, Lara and I met Shawn at the airport in Amsterdam.  We flew to Dublin at around 4 o’clock!  After the one hour flight and being unreasonably hassled by the Irish passport control, we got in a taxi (the driver was on the “wrong” side of the car.  So weird.) and headed to our hotel in the heart of the city, The Morgan.


We dropped our bags and went to dinner in search of fish and chips.  I’m not a huge fan of fried fish, so I got a burger which was okay, but Shawn, Lara and Ivo weren’t particularly impressed with their fish.  The atmosphere was cool, though.

After dinner, we started walking with plans of just taking a look at the city.  However, we ran into a guy promoting theatre tickets to a musical called Once.  The four of us decided it would be a cool experience and got really good seats!


We got into the theatre and went to the bar for some pre-show beers.  I tried an Irish cider called Orchard Thieves.  It was really good and perfectly sweet.

The show was pretty good.  It was about a vacuum cleaner repair man who writes songs on his guitar. He meets a girl who is a Czech immigrant and also writes songs on her piano.  Both are heartbroken over lost loves but end up falling for each other.  They then team up with other musicians to record a demo and the story ends kind of bizarrely.  However, despite an average and somewhat confusing storyline, the transitions, acting and Irish folk rock music were in my opinion phenomenal.  It is apparently based off of a movie from 2007 with the same title, so I want to check that out soon.

Before the show, the cast had a jam session on stage!

After the musical, we wandered around the city center a bit more and stopped for some ice cream before heading back to the hotel to bed.

DAY 10

The next morning, Lara and I woke up around 8ish.  We wanted to sleep in but also take full advantage of the short amount of time we had in Dublin.  We met Shawn and Ivo in the lobby and headed to one of the many, many Starbuckses in the area where we discussed the plan for the day.


We started out with sightseeing.  First to the Dublin Castle, then Grafton Street, Trinity College and their famous library.  Throughout our little walking tour, led by the “head duck” Ivo and his many maps, we passed through many cool streets and alleyways and a really beautiful park.  We also just happened to see an advertisement that said the world famous Riverdance which is originally from Dublin was back in town and jumped on the opportunity to buy tickets for that evening.

We had lunch at a really cute place called “The Pig’s Ear”.  There, we had some of the best  food I’ve had all trip and of course more beer–we’re in Ireland so it’s okay, duh.  I had Irish beef (which was basically fancy beef roast with gravy) and the best mashed potatoes in the whole world.  Then we shared cheesecake.

After lunch it was time for a “little nap-y” for Shawn and Ivo, so Lara and I hit the shops.  We found a super cool shop that was actually underground, where we both bought adorable world map necklaces.  We went into a few other souveniere shops and a super cool record store.


At 7:30 it was time for the Riverdance!  I didn’t really know what to expect other than fiddles and a bunch of people wearing green and tap dancing, but I was in for so much more than that.  It was honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my life.  I was thinking the whole time, “how the hell do they do that?!” and the music was incredible.  If you ever have a chance to go, I would highly recommend it.

Can we just all agree that this is a creepily good face in the hole?

We went to a pub for a beer, then we hit the hay to prepare to wake up wayyyy too early the next day.

DAY 11

Yesterday Lara and I woke up at about 6 to get ready and pack so we could be downstairs in the lobby at 7.  A tour guide, Jim, picked us up at the hotel at and we headed out of Dublin into the beautiful Irish countryside.  We stopped at a hotel on the Irish Sea to have breakfast.


One of my favorites from the trip.

We then continued on into the mountains, and stopped at the Glendalough Monastic City (click on the link to read more in depth about the history) which was founded in the 7th century and has ruins of 7 cathedrals and an extensive grave yard.  It is nestled in between the beautiful green mountains characteristic of Ireland and was an amazing setting for photos.


Our tour guide then dropped us at the airport.  We had a seamless time going through customs and security (other than a security officer joking with me that my camera and favorite sweater had acid residue on them and would have to be destroyed and the mini heart attack that ensued after).  We sat in our plane for about an hour before take off, but the 45 minute flight went without flaw.  When we landed, Ylenia, who works at the airport escorting VIPs and unaccompanied minors, surpised us at our gate!

When we got home, we had some of Shawnie’s famous tacos for dinner and relaxed for the rest of the evening!


I feel like I cannot do Dublin or the Irish countryside justice with my writing, and you know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words, so here are about 936,000 words for you in the form of pictures I took on our mini vacation to the land of beer, sheep and leprechauns…

The City…






Nature’s Pride EAT ME ready to eat avocados on the streets of Dublin!




…The Sea…


…The Cemetery…