Best devices for photography and videography?

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you may recall this amateur “music video” from my time in Iceland:

Videos taken May, 2018

I’m planning a European adventure with one of my best friends this September, but I don’t want to bring my bulky Canon Rebel – no matter how much I still love it. I have basic video editing skills via Camtasia and Vyond, and am hoping to take my videography and editing skills to the next level!

Which ‘smaller’ cameras or devices would you recommend for photography and videography alike? Which video editing software(s) would you recommend aside from Camtasia?

As always, thank you for your advice and for joining me on my journey. I *caved* and recently created a travel Instagram (because I do NOT want a ‘personal’ account again), which you may follow: @adventureinspades

West Side, Best Side!

If I were to tell you that I had the perfect holiday weekend, I’d be lying to you; seeing happy families – especially parents with their daughters or siblings playing together – hit my heart like a boxer punching their opponent. BUT it did make me smile when I was able to remove myself from my emotions, and I had a pretty great weekend with a dear friend and our pups!

On Saturday, I drove to Kalamazoo (on the west side of Michigan) to visit my friend Cass and their dog Meadow. I would visit them wherever they were located, but the west side of Michigan is quite beautiful and special in more ways than one. The four of us went to the dog park before Cass and I grabbed dinner and drinks at Taco Bob’s downtown.

Sunday was a lazy morning (at least it was by my standards!), and we headed for Saugatuck Dunes State Park for some hiking and beach time. Linley and Meadow enjoyed running through the woods and frolicking on Lake Michigan’s shoreline. As our dogs were smiling and living their best lives, we were too! Watching Linley jump in the waves and attempt to drag large branches out of the water and Meadow’s first time at the Great Lake put huge smiles on our faces. The little boy who kept coming back to pet Meadow and Linley while they were splooting in the sand also made our days! Feeling the sand between my toes, the sun kissing my face and the wind in my curls was the best combination of peaceful and whimsical.

Even though we all could’ve stayed on the beach for the entire day, it was time to explore the downtown area. Saugatuck is a charming beach town that screams quintessential Michigan: local cafés, boutiques and homemade ice cream galore. The best part of our downtown exploration was when the fire truck came by and Linley howled in unison (it was adorable!).

The last stop on our day trip with the fur babies was South Haven, because we had to see the lighthouse and have a little more time on the beach. We walked the pier, enjoyed time playing in the sand and grabbed some ice cream before returning to Kalamazoo.

The pups were tired, so Cass and I dropped them off and met our friend KayLee at One Well Brewery. The three of us used to work together in college, and I’ve been individually close with both of them even though they haven’t really hung out without me. We all relished in past work memories, exchanged profound conversation and shared several laughs! I love them both dearly and being around two of my favorite people meant the world to me. I hope us getting together helped KayLee and Cass feel better about hanging out more often (which I’m sure it did!).

Photos taken on Saturday, May 29 & Sunday, May 30

Memorial Day Memories

For those of us in the United States, Memorial Day weekend can mean a variety of things, even though its main purpose is to celebrate those we lost in service. I strongly disagree with the reasons why we enter into war, but I support those who defend our nation for the right reasons, and heavily reflect on my family members and friends who have served overseas.

With that being said, I’m not only reflecting on my loved ones who have served today; I’m also relishing in past memories with others who I’m not as close with anymore. For some reason, I’ve traveled somewhere on or around Memorial Day weekend in recent years and cannot stop wishing to be back in those places, with those individuals, during those exact moments in life.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (May 2018)

One of the happiest days of my life

Empire, Michigan (May 2020)

One of my favorite days last spring

I wish things were different with my loved ones. Maybe things will be better again or maybe they never will be, but either way I can cherish these memories and plan future adventures with friends.

I wish all of you a safe, healthy and fun-filled Memorial Day weekend!

Gorgeous Galápagos Beaches (May 2019)

My friends who love schedules and itineraries would strongly disagree with me, but I believe the best travel adventures are the ones that are unplanned and spontaneous!

When boarding our flight to Guayaquil two years ago, I never anticipated that our South American honeymoon would end in a trip to the Galápagos Islands. Our time in Ecuador was rocky to say the very least, and without getting into too much detail, I was in desperate need of alone time with my new husband. A four-day stay on San Cristóbal Island was exactly what I/we needed, and the ‘secret’ beaches we discovered were even more enticing.

Whether you’re planning a long-weekend or long-term vacation, try going without an itinerary; you won’t regret it 🙂

Continuation of Gratitude Journaling

Whenever someone says, “You know what would help? Journaling,” I cringe. Turning something I love (writing) into a chore, a “must-do,” is really difficult for me to overcome. It reminds me of high school: I loved reading until the teachers told me what I had to read, how to interpret the literature, and how many chapters to complete by the next session…

I digress. But my point is that journaling can feel daunting and forced if it becomes something you have to do as opposed to something you want to accomplish.

Gratitude journaling, however, feels different to me. I simply reflect on people or moments that brought me joy a few days per week, then I’m done. It reminds me to focus on the positive and feel gratitude toward the people and situations that truly matter.

1. My former and new teams

I started a new position at a different company last week, and I’ve been emotional about it on many levels. My former teammates put together a touching “see you later” video for me, and it moved me to tears. Even through screens miles apart, I grew very close with my team-turned-friends and will miss them very much (I already do!). The same day, I received a welcome kit, a box of chocolates and a gorgeous bouquet of springtime flowers from my current teammates. I was moved on many levels last week, and am incredibly grateful for the lifelong friendships from my Asheville team, and the newfound relationships to be established on my Chicago team.

2. Midweek dinner and drinks with one of my best friends

Jaclyn and I always know how to have a great time, even on a Wednesday! We tend to work very different schedules, and we’re good about making time for each other regardless. Detroit is the perfect midway point for both of us, so we grabbed dinner at the Basement Burger Bar in Greektown. The two of us had a lot to share with each other, which led to us enjoying some Long Island Iced Teas on Old Shillelagh’s patio (a staple of late-night adventures!). Jaclyn and I have lived far away from each other before, and have continued to remain close and make time for each other despite the distance. Who knew a random college roommate would turn into a lifelong friend 🙂

3. Saturday brunch with Dani in Ann Arbor

As much as I love Detroit, Ann Arbor is my go-to place in Michigan. Dani and I enjoyed a lovely meal at Café Zola, followed by some spicy cocktails at Vinology. We met in 2018 when we worked on the same team, and become even closer ever since. The two of us are planning some summer/fall vacations together – I’m very excited to travel with her soon!

4. Getting the best seat in the house at Cliff Bells jazz club

If you know me, you know how much I love going out to eat at funky places, and how much I love live music. Detroit is known for its history with motown and jazz, and Cliff Bells is the prime place to experience both. Juan and I have been to Bells somewhere between five and ten times since moving to the Detroit area, and were finally placed at the booth closest to the band. The Rodney Whitaker Quartet performed on Saturday night and let me tell you: THIS was the show to have the best seats for. I can’t wait to go back!

5. Kayaking with Aniya in Bay City

Yesterday was full of adventure when my Little Sister and I went kayaking on one of the windiest days. We had no idea the weather would be as extreme as it was, but we were able to share some laughs and still enjoyed ourselves through the struggle of getting back to shore. The owners and employees at Float Paddle Center in Bay City were beyond kind and truly cared about our wellbeing during the storm; they called me while we were out on the water and took great care of us while we were soaking wet, getting out of the kayak we were sitting in for nearly three hours. Aniya high-fived me afterward, I hugged her and we headed home with the heat cranked all the way up in my car.

Not to sound negative, but life sucks sometimes. I’ve been on a rollercoaster with people and situations that life has thrown me, but focusing on what’s going right will hopefully help me overcome what is going wrong 🙂

National Rescue Dog Day

…was yesterday and I wanted to thank Compass Dog Rescue of Michigan for bringing Linley and me together 🐶

Here are some of my favorite photos of the little guy!

Please contact me for more information on Compass Dog Rescue, or if you have any rescue-related questions 🙂

Another Outdoorsy Day

Last Saturday was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. As dramatic as that sounds, I mean it.

What could be better than spending over seven hours in one of your favorite cities with one of your favorite humans? Not much. And on top of that, my friend and I even brought our fur babies along.

Cass and I met at Gallup Park in Ann Arbor a little after 12:00pm, and took Meadow and Linley on a long walk. They were as happy as can be when they reunited (it’s been a couple months since the four of us spent time together) and continued to act excited on the trails. While Linley and Meadow sniffed around and took some potty breaks, Cass and I caught up on all things work and goal-related, and shared some profound words of encouragement.

After spending some time at Gallup Park, we ventured over to Zingerman’s Roadhouse for an outdoor lunch. Aside from some excitement from the pups, they were on their best behavior and the four of us enjoyed sitting outside as we chowed down on some delicious food! Once the wind made it too cold to tolerate, we returned to the car for some more hiking at the Nichols Arboretum.

During quarantine, I discovered the arboretum as a plan B birthday destination. I’ve been there several times now – with and without Linley – but there’s something special about this place that makes it feel brand new every time I’m there. We were hiking in and out of the deep woods for another couple of hours at minimum.

Cass and I both LOVE being on the water and wrapped up our day kayaking on the Huron River. Meadow had never been kayaking before, but she did a great job and I never would’ve guessed it was new for her (Linley, of course, was acting like he owned the river)! We barely made it back to the park for kayak rentals in time, but we loved how our spur of the moment decision paid off. After another two hours well-spent, we returned to shore, returned our kayaks and returned to our cars.

I was tearing up on the way home (as was Cass). We’re both going through a wide variety of changes and turbulence right now, and being able to support each other unconditionally and spend the day bs-ing was something we desperately needed. We always pick right back up where we left off, and we’re already looking forward to our next adventure 🙂

Photos taken on Saturday, May 8, 2021

P.S.: Ann Arbor is so good, that I took Linley kayaking at Argo Park this past weekend!

Weekend in Washington (Part III)

It breaks my heart to think that an entire month has passed since my Washington trip. I can’t believe how quickly time flies as you’re traveling, and also how fast it slips away once you return home.

My last day with Bethany was full of the great outdoors and my two favorite summertime staples: kayaking and hiking. We grabbed a dynamite breakfast at this cute little 50s diner – where we both ordered some waffles and chai – then headed toward the shoreline to hit the water.

I remember it being a bit windier and chillier than the other days, but being on the water was wonderful. The waves were just right, the sun was shining on our faces, and we even saw some sea lions! Our time together reminded me of other adventures we’ve shared, which I’ll cover in a separate post 🙂

The beautiful thing about Bethany’s and my friendship is that we always pick up right where we left off, no matter the distance or the time that’s elapsed. We were able to connect on such a deep level again in such a short amount of time, and had plenty of laughs along the way! Bethany even got splashed by a huge wave as we explored a tide pool right after this picture was taken…

The remainder of our day was spent eating great food on the water and walking through a beautiful park near Bethany’s place. Unfortunately, she had to move out of her home shortly after moving in due to water damage, but will luckily be back home soon. The park is near her home and it was the perfect way to wrap up our time together. The two of us shared past memories as we bird watched at the nature preserve. We even stoped to smell the flowers along the way ~

As always, our weekend flew by way too fast, but we’re already planning a spooky, fall trip together. Friends like Bethany are hard to come by, and I’m blessed to have her in my life and to call her a best friend ❤️

Weekend in Washington (Part II)

Once again, I’ve allowed too much time to pass between posting about my Seattle trip. I really need to carve out some time each week to write and reflect on my travels…

Friday, March 26: Downtown Kirkland

Kirkland, a college town near Seattle, is a must if you want that happy-medium of calmness and the hustle and bustle of downtown. Bethany, her dad and I had quite a hectic Thursday – filled with trying to find food and navigate through an unexpectedly busy crowd, and hiking several miles prior to – so we needed a relaxing afternoon and evening in a new place. Bethany hadn’t visited Kirkland yet, and we really wanted some leisurely walking, eating and drinking in town.

Whenever Bethany and I travel together, we are constantly reminded of our first adventure in Sweden (can’t you tell?!). Seeing the Swedish flag always makes us happy 🙂

After our obligatory selfie, we decided that Thai food was a must. It was a windy, cooler day and yellow curry was at the top of our list. We enjoyed some warm, yummy food and some iced Thai tea (our favorite!) by the water. The best part? All the dogs and ducks we were able to befriend!

The two of us chatted and talked about life. The previous day with her dad was more casual and laid back, but the two of us had to share some personal things with each other. We laughed, cried and hugged as we confided in one another. Our lives have always been strikingly parallel and intertwined somehow, which is one of many reasons I believe we were meant to meet in 2016.

Once we finished our food, conversation and gazing at the animals around us, we had to grab some warm tea and window shop. Our ginger chai lattes were worth the wait and we were able to check out some funky shops before dinner.

We weren’t ready for dinner just yet; the waterfront was far too enjoyable to leave. Bethany and I walked the pier and reminisced about our time along the Kalmar castle five years ago. The sea air instantly brought us back to when we first met, and we cherished the moment as best we could.

The two of us allowed the day to take us along for the ride, without any game plan. Luckily we were craving the same kind of food, so we decided to drive toward home and stop for sushi on the way. Not pictured: the best vegetarian sushi and green tea I’ve ever had. Bethany and I were able to sit outside next to a heater and continue laughing and sharing past memories. I really don’t know what I would do without Bethany, and where I would be without her friendship ❤️

Photos taken Friday, March 26, 2021