My life is about to be split between three cities. My car and most of my personal belongings are currently in Houston. My transfer (job/base) is now in Seattle beginning tomorrow. My significant other and our future apartment together (that has yet to be found) is settled in San Diego right this moment. I will be traveling as usual for work, since that’s what my job ultimately requires me to do. But between my usual scheduled trips for work, I will be an exhausted blurry figure pulling a large carry-on between So-Cal, the Northwest and the Dirty South.
I’m extremely excited and yet I have NO idea what I’m doing. So that naturally also makes me terrified of this entire situation. I have no real ties or connections in Seattle, so I am going to be flying in the day before my trips begin starting on Monday, staying in a hostel to save money, and beginning my trips the following day. The operation in the Northwest is very very different and I’ll be training on a brand new plane in the fleet in Utah as well this month. It’s almost like working for a completely different company. So that’s not stressful at all.
San Diego though. I visited last weekend and it’s probably more perfect than I ever recall it. Me and that guy walked the coastline from Pacific Beach to Mission Beach exchanging words, smiles and mutual awe of our potential surroundings. It was oddly overcast when I went so we laid on the bare sand threw the blanket over us to keep warm from the ocean breezes. Tacos are basically my favorite food, and all I hear is that they have the best ever and I can’t wait to eat them all. Or at least die a happy girl trying. It’s the beginning of a lifestyle I could definitely get accustomed to.
This. ALL OF THIS has been a long time coming. Leaving home yet again, but I’m kind of really hoping it’s for good this time. I’ve been just too scattered to sew things, make or complete any new videos or do any worthwhile updating on this little space of mine. Frankly I’m all out of sorrys – it’s just life and new adjustments! I went to Amsterdam at the end of May and turned 32 in June, but I just haven’t put the effort into sharing on any of my social media. I’ve made amends with myself that it’s probably going to be one of my last “fun” trips in a while. I’ve just been a little self absorbed with myself and all of the new changes I’m trying to gracefully accept and deal with.
I know this is boring, you guys. Promise to bore you more next time though. Enjoy your holiday weekends!
Konichiwa! Tokyo is definitely a great city to visit anytime of the year, but this time I had my heart set on visiting during the cherry blossom season. Unfortunately my friend and I were a week late for it AND it rained the first 2 days of our visit -_-
But no worries! We made the best of our trip and I scoured the drugstores and markets bringing some goodies back for my friends. I usually bring boxes of flavored Kit-Kats, but this time I decided it would be fun to try out a few Japanese beauty products instead!
Also on this visit, I got a chance to stuff my face at the Tsukiji fish market, which is THE largest wholesale fish market in the entire world!
That’s sweet egg on a stick with a radish-based sauce? Whatever it was, it was seriously bomb. If you are curious about the street foods in the market, you can see a few food porn pics on my IG account.
Just to let you know that in this video of course I’m all about THE FOODS; from touch-screen sushi to the fish market finds. But care to see my swanky capsule hotel and some clips around the big city? Check out my latest visit smashed into 3 minutes!
This is the story, er guide, of 2 college friends from Houston, TX that decided to take a 5-day trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai together. Read on for details of how we found inexpensive flight tickets, things to do, and helpful tips of how to get around.
Overall, Dubai is a very safe city. So many expats and travelers from all over come to Dubai for work and play alike. Language was never an issue for us; the majority of folks you’ll encounter will speak both Arabic and English. The city offers a varied cuisine, most especially in the area of Old Dubai. In the more contemporary areas they have an overwhelming amount of popular American joints that you already have at home, but there are also lots and lots of middle eastern food spots to try too.
Keep on the lookout for great flight deals. Scoring cheaper flights really helped with budgeting for a trip like this from the beginning. Theflightdeal.com offered a fare alert on Christmas Day last year to Abu Dhabi from DFW. I was able to book on Orbitz (my friend used Priceline) with a stopover in Frankfurt, Germany for $378 – roundtrip and all taxes included! At that price, I didn’t care if we had to sit with the cargo. But you have to be really fast on the draw because fares like that go insanely quick!
Just a note if you are traveling on Etihad airlines. I must say, they are awesome! The food in Economy was actually fantastic (no plasticware!), plugs/usb connections available at your seat, and the in-flight entertainment was great. If you are flying into Abu Dhabi first, Etihad offers a complimentary shuttle to Dubai if you reserve up to 24 hours before your flight. It’s a 75 minute ride on a clean bus with free bottled water, mints, and onboard entertainment. It takes you to the Etihad Travel mall, which is within an easy walking distance from the ‘Noor Bank’ Metro station. (More on the Metro later.)
If you do have time to visit Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed mosque is a MUST SEE. We planned most of our trip time to be spent in Dubai, but since we were flying into the capital of the UAE we dedicated our first morning to visit the ‘Grand Mosque’. Not only is it the most expensive, one of the world’s largest, and only one of two mosques in the entire UAE that is open to non-Muslims, it’s absolutely exquisite!
Visitors are welcome to take as many pictures as they’d like, but respectful dress and manner is strictly enforced. I tried to take a shot of my friend putting a little sass in her hips while holding her arms up in a ‘V’, but a guard kindly told us not to take any “action” pictures in front of the mosque. Also, ladies, make sure that you are dressed appropriately when you are on the grounds. A long dress or pants is recommended, and definitely a shirt that covers the “girls” and your shoulders well. Be sure to bring your own scarf with you to cover your head too if you’d like to wear your own clothes. If you aren’t completely compliant, it’s definitely okay. We didn’t bring our own scarves, so we were given an ‘abaya’ to wear; a loose robe or overgarment that covers the entire body with the exception of your face, hands, and feet. Just be ready to hand over your ID in exchange for it. Also know that you will be taking off your shoes when you walk the interior area, so sandals or easy flats are a good idea.
I would highly recommend starting your visit early to avoid the crowds and the heat. The mosque opens at 9am most days with the first free guided tour of the day beginning at 10am. Admission into the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is completely free!
People come from all over to be thrown around the sand in a jeep and pose with a camel. Do yourself and your travel buddies a favor and book a Desert Safari. We met folks from various parts of India, Russia, Australia, Germany and of course a few locals that were getting in on the experience too. Believe it or not, one of the easiest methods of booking a safari tour on the cheap is Groupon. The itinerary usually includes a meal, a crazy ride over the dunes, a camel ride, henna, an area to try on traditional clothing, and live belly dancing. There are several companies to choose from, so be sure to read the fine print and check Tripadvisor.com to do a little comparison shopping. The company we selected picked up and dropped us off at our hotel afterwards, so it definitely made transportation a non-issue for us. Although the weather in mid-March was rather mild, we chose a sunset tour to avoid the heat of the day and to take the best photos.
Got Camel milk? While you are in Dubai, why not treat yourself to a ‘Camelccino’ or ‘Camellatte’? At The Majlis Dubai cafe, located on the ground floor of Dubai Mall in the middle of the ‘souk’ (a bazaar or outdoor market) you can order a variety of coffees with the camel milk added. Camel milk is extremely high in iron, vitamin C and low lactose. Unlike the tang of goat milk, camel is extremely similar in taste to cow milk. It’s very mild and smooth with a slight aftertaste. Although we only tried the chocolate camel milkshake (which was absolutely delightful) and a cold glass of plain camel milk, they also offer camel milk muffins, ice cream, chocolates and more!
Also, lots of people pose and take pics with the camel statues in front of the cafe area, so be prepared to take a ask a stranger for a quick shot or get your selfie-stick ready. I brought a couple boxes of camel milk praline chocolates home as gifts for my close friends and my parents, which they really enjoyed!
Cross the Old Dubai creek by ‘abra’ + visit the souks! Abras are little wooden boats that ferry passengers from one side of the creek to the other, are incredibly frequent, and will only cost you 1 Dirham (approximately 27 cents)! It is a short ride 5 minute ride, but it’s really the most convenient and charming way take in the city’s history by floating between Deira and Bur Dubai.
Walking the souks are so much fun, but be aware of aggressive sellers everywhere trying to get you to see/buy their wares! Everything from belly-dancing costumes and pashminas in any color/design to Louis Vuitton knockoffs is available for sale, but don’t accept the first price you get. HAGGLE BEFORE YOU BUY ANYTHING!
Visit the only completed World Island of Lebanon. This cluster of artificial islands were developed to make an approximate map of the world, but the project hasn’t been touched much since 2006. My travel buddy found yet another deal on Groupon that lets you hang out on one of the islands! The $95 included boat transport to and from the mainland, an included meal, a select adult beverage, kayak rental, and a chance to kick back on the private island of Lebanon while looking back at the Dubai skyline. Honestly, it’s an experience that could be passed up since it’s just hanging out on a relatively sparse island amongst other nearby mounds of sand on the water, but I’d imagine the top-down helicopter view would be pretty interesting though. If nothing else it was an excuse to do some sunbathing and posing on a unique part of history.
The Burj Al Arab, the world’s “7-star hotel”, is a beautiful architectural feat standing on a man-made island and designed to look like a sail. This is also the 3rd tallest hotel in the world. The interior of the hotel has grand gold columns, unbelievable floor tiles, solid swarovski crystal door ways and other extravagant eye-fulls (see video for views inside). Unless you are a guest at or have a dining appointment at 1 of the 9 restaurants in the hotel, you aren’t even permitted on the premises. We booked an afternoon tea online at the Junsui restaurant several weeks prior. It consisted of 7 light courses, your choice of two teas and an amazing view for about $112 per person. Oh it’s expensive, but the experience is amaze! Not to mention the wifi connection is FLAWLESS.
If a visit inside the Burj Al Arab hotel doesn’t sound the least bit interesting to you budget-wise, be sure to get an almost equally incredible (and complimentary) view from Jumierah Beach.
How to get around and where to stay.
Limit your Taxi use. Honestly the first two days we relied on taxis to get everywhere, which got expensive rather quickly. Not to mention the traffic was terrible most of the time. It wasn’t until day three that we actually wised up and realized how extremely easy it was to just use the Metro. It is so much more efficient and the facilities were so clean! We usually paid for a daily pass from the automated kiosk so we could hop on and off of the train as much as we pleased for about 22 AED (approximately 6 USD). The kiosks accepted both Dirhams and credit/debit cards.
Just a quick note for the male travelers on the Metro. Watch for some signs that designate zones for women and children only. Sure, we saw plenty of men sitting/standing in these zones too, but an official randomly came on one of the stops and fined at least 10 guys 100 Dirham each (approximately 27 USD) for breaking the rule. They were all escorted off at that stop too. Just be sure to read all signs, well, everywhere! You can also be fined 100 dh for eating or drinking, and there is no gum-chewing allowed on the train either. Smoking is prohibited too of course (200 dh penalty).
If you choose to stay in the more contemporary areas of Dubai, I definitely recommend staying in a hotel close by a Metro station. We stayed at City Max hotel (Al Barsha) which couldn’t have been more perfect. For 4 nights my travel partner and I split a room with double beds about $180 each total for a place in walking distance from Emirates Mall, which is connected to a Metro station.
City Max hotel has free wifi in the rooms, they offered a sign-up sheet for (free) shuttle times to and from Jumeirah Beach, has a gym, and rooftop pool. The downstairs area included a small cafe, restaurant with buffet, small night club on one side, and a small sports bar on the other with the lobby area in the middle. A taxi was always available if we needed and an ATM is located near the entry. Not to mention the hotel staff were very accommodating!
Here’s a link to a downloadable Dubai metro route map to keep handy on your phone or other portable device.
Extra things recommended to bring with you:
A travel adapter with a USB and two outlet spaces. I ordered the OREI 3 in 1 UK travel adapter plug with USB and Surge Protection, type G (in the USA we use types A & B). City Max hotel did have at least one adaptable outlet available in the rooms already for our use, but it was great to have at our 1-night hotel stay in Abu Dhabi (which didn’t) and while waiting for the airport shuttle in the Etihad travel mall. Besides, trying to find an available plug in an airport can serve as a challenge since everyone needs to power-up their devices at the same time. We only needed to use a single plug to charge 3 different devices, thus avoiding being that typical charging station jerk taking up multiple outlets.
Speaking of recharging devices, I also purchased the Anker 2nd generation lipstick-sized portable battery charger for my iphone. Most of our time was spent outside of the hotel room, so it was super handy to have an option for back-up charge on the go. It charges up to 150% (or a total 1.5 times on a single charge).
The final addition to my packing was this pocket guidebook to Dubai. This small guidebook was an easy flip-through on the plane ride with details on Abu Dhabi as well. The included full-color pull-out map came in extra handy when we got a little turned around trying to locate some areas in Old Dubai. I mean, yah you could get the kindle version for like a $1 less, but you miss out on the map and it’s actually convenient to have at least one tool in your travel bag that doesn’t rely on a battery.
If I had another 5 days, this would definitely be on my list to do & see.
Lastly, 7 minutes of your life that you will never get back.
If you’re interested to see a bit more, here’s a collection of randoms and candids from our trip that I (lightly) edited for my youtube channel.
Welp, that’s about it! If you have any questions about my trip, please ask below. From now own, I intend to write more reviews after my travels to pass along any information that I have. Hope this helped!
I’m making it a point in 2015 to try to sew more for myself regardless of all the other things that get in the way. That means hand sewing or project planning on both work and fun travel days. Days at home mean quality time on my machine. No excuses.
It has been so tiring – but so fun!
If you follow me on Instagram (@diyraven) you’ve already seen a sneak peek of the box pleated skirt (Butterick #B5929) that I’m making out of one of the fabrics that I purchased on my last Japan visit. I’m almost finished, but I had to complete this kimono ASAP before my trip to Abu Dhabi/Dubai coming up this week after my 4-day work trip!
In the UAE it is required for ladies to dress modestly in public (covering shoulders to knees), but most long sleeves I own are for cold weather only. Dubai is going to be pretty blazing hot, so (at the last minute of course) I dug out this recently purchased Simplicity pattern from my collection. I bought 1.25yds of a light, silky polyester fabric and lace trim from JoAnn fabrics and got to work that evening on this kimono.
Even though I was a bit hesitant how the cropped version would look and although I had a couple confusing moments during the construction of this little garment, I’m so pleased with how it turned out! I’ll be able to cover up all my tanks and skimpy tees without being offensive NOR having a heat stroke. It also won’t hardly take up any space in my luggage.
That last statement is actually the most important because I really need the extra space to bring back new FABRIC!!
1. YES! Those are indeed (baby) dreadlocks – nearly 7 months in!
NO. That is NOT armpit hair. 2. Fabric I scored back in June from JoAnn fabrics via their small ethnic collection. They had me at hot pink + gold detailing. 3. I hate making bias tape, but I hate the look of stiff store-bought bias tape on beautiful fabric even more. The struggle is always worth it. 4. Business in the front. Party in the back. 5. As pointed out by a male friend via my Instagram upload of this photo, it totally looks like I’m pissing on the wall. Artsy polaroid attempt ruined.
As always, I intended to make this top in time for the appropriate season. Luckily (or not so luckily) Texas doesn’t really have seasons. So although other places in the United States are making their transition into Fall, we are still busy in the South either getting our tan on or dodging raindrops. Basically, this top is super perfect for the now. Big half-moon window in the back and all.
Allow me give more credit to the backside of this pattern – this. back. is. absolutely. SICK.
That detail alone makes the top for me.
Oh. This is McCalls pattern #6702, version A.
If you aren’t traveling a lot for work or in the middle of a major move, it should be a relatively quick sew? A few focused evenings and it should be knocked out. It’s labeled as Easy, so it definitely wasn’t terrible.
And yeah. Go ahead and scroll up to revisit the last pic again. It totally does look like I’m relieving myself on the wall, doesn’t it!??
1. Strolling along Waikiki Beach in Oahu, Hawaii (!!!!!) 2. Panoramic shot of Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in Oahu. 3. This is what you look like after you swim with a school of fish in Hanauma Bay. AMAZING. 4. Me in front of the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, which is one of the largest temples in Japan. Want a fun fact? We got here by accident. The cab driver dropped us here instead of our hotel….which is why I’m pictured at the temple entrance with my luggage. So frankly I still have yet to visit the grounds. Talk about lost in translation. 5. Apparently this is the best place to go for fresh Unagi (Eel) !! 6. Me in my latest handmade look on these Japanese streets! 7. Front + back look at Simplicity pattern #2222, version B. 8. Closer details of buttons, drawstring enclosure + pockets.
Since embarking on my third decade of existence, it seems like every birthday I get the recurrent itch to spend a few days as a clothing minimalist choosing to strictly live in only cute bikini tops + bottoms. This also means giving up real shoes, everyday life stresses and my usual concerted effort to avoid terrible tan lines and the overall process of natural skin-darkening in general. I think my back JUST finished peeling, and if I dropped trou right now I am totally the Coppertone girl doppleganger. I spent 3 full days in Hawaii tanning and catching sand between my toes (and other crevasses) for a living.
I am 31, and I have no regrets.
And I actually got in the water. Like, I didn’t just dance along the coastline and let those baby waves cover my shins this time. With some major coercing from the fellow pictured above I went rolling in the deep. Er, more like wading on a floater board that is. I’m so in love with the ocean, but it’s a beautiful force I’m deathly afraid of. It’s something about viewing the world as merely a head above water and all that is visible to you is endless sky stacked on a layer of endlessly unsettled water with no ounce of land cut in between because it’s mysteriously hiding somewhere far below your feet. Even the smallest wave becomes your own personal giant that can reel you far from the shore. The same shore where those people you recall who were your size now look a like a collection of ants on a sandy ledge.
Yep. That doesn’t sound unsettling at all.
But I didn’t come all the way to paradise to stop living. The next day we went snorkeling and even with a florescent life preserver I was terrified too. Did you know they have prescription goggles for blind folks like me??!! I was so impressed. All the while I wanted to breath through my nose, and I sincerely panicked when water seeped through my equipment a few times. But I did the whole little mermaid thing. Not to mention the romantic swimming hand-in-hand thing (he’s going to kill me for this, lol). These awful tan lines were not earned in vain I tell you.
Then onto Asia. This marks my 3rd time back to Japan. My Japanese tongue is still underwhelming. I told a hotel cleaning staff person ‘good evening’ at 8 in the morning. Oh well, I do try.
We spent two hurried and rainy nights at a hotel in Narita, which is the enclave nearest Tokyo airport. Japan is 19 hours ahead of Hawaii, so we lost a day and gained more jet lag. Determined not to be total bums, we managed to get a nice dinner out and some drinks in the city before his journey back to base in southern Japan and my 12-hour flight back to Houston.
I made this outfit in time for my birthday, so it would’ve been a total waste if I didn’t wear it out on the town. As with most shorter dress patterns, the skirt is always a bit TOO short for my taste. It’s my *ahem* backside. Other than that I think it turned out pretty awesome! I initially had other plans for this fabric, but this romper-style option from my pattern stash with racer-back detail AND pockets was too good to pass up. Not to mention a quicker project to sew overall.
Getting older is supposed to be terrible I think, but I couldn’t be happier about my 30s so far. Goals for next birthday definitely include going to another amazing beach, but not being as terrified of the water next time. So I guess the first step is learning how to swim beyond doggie-paddling and the deadman’s float in a regular pool.
And I’d also like to learn a little bit of French. Is that totally random?
I’ve tried, really. Like for the past few years I’ve beat myself up about not being super consistent with my sewing projects and new content for this site. But truth is….
1. I’ve got a job that requires mucho travel
2. When I am home I often just want to take off my bra, watch an episode of The New Girl, and just exist in one place on the bed.
3. Sometimes I just don’t feel motivated (ie. I don’t want to touch my sewing machine)
4. I told you all upfront – I am a LAZY perfectionist
5. I have 24 hrs in my day, but I’m very much convinced Beyoncé has at least 48
I have to come to grips with the fact that I’m not the long lost overseas member of the By Hand London sewing babe clan and frankly will never be. I do, however, sew really cool stuff sometimes. I’m also really bad about creating/following through with new DIY tutorials. I don’t know why I’m that way and other folks can seem to churn them out like it ain’t no thang, but I’m just tired of stressing out about it all.
Stressing out to the point that I really considered just shutting down my blog altogether.
I won’t though. (You can thank my mama for that)
I’m saying all this to get it off my chest. I’m saying all of this because I’m the type of young woman that always puts undo pressure on herself. I just want to be wonderful and on-top-of-it-all on everything I do – I always have. I partly feel like my job as a flight attendant is an awesome opportunity, yet a dead-end and several notches below my degree. And I just wanted something to supplement my creative talents (such as this blog) and I feel like it’s just another thing I’m failing to follow through with.
There. I said it.
But it needs to be said. And I’m saying all of this because maybe someone feels something similar. And no one says things or admits things like that. Not aloud they don’t.
And frankly, my job is just fine. And my degree is an accomplishment I’ll never forget. And at the end of the day, I just need to relax and give myself a break!
So. The blog goes on. But I have no idea when or how often I’ll be posting. You never know you guys. I could totally do it up Bey-style one of these days and drop 7 new DIY videos in one day when you’d least expect it.
And just know I may post about randomness not related to DIY stuff at all. Sometimes I just wanna say a few words about my hair, lol. I mean, it’s my little space that I pay a small yearly fee on the internet for.
And that’s just that. xo
P.S.– Unfortunately, I’m unable to disable the comments for this post on my blogging app. But please, do not write any comments on this entry. Just really wanted to put my thoughts out there. I appreciate it, thanks!
Totally not kidding here. I have used this quirky method numerous times while out shopping for fabric. I’d say this tip is actually another ode to architecture school; using everyday objects around you to get an idea of scale.
If you have ever looked at a photograph of someone that was really difficult to gauge their height or maybe couldn’t figure out how big a painting was in the picture, it helps to try to pinpoint another object in the photo that you are very familiar with the typical dimensions of. This could be a standard mailbox or a bike, for example. By comparing what you do know alongside what you don’t, you get a real idea of how large or small the object in question is. That is scale.
Here’s a fabric related example. Have you shopped online for fabric and ever often noticed how many online retailers will photograph their printed fabrics with a coin set on top of them? This too is used to give you an idea of the scale of a fabric pattern they’re trying to sell. Sure, it’s hard to tell the size of a polka-dot print fabric you can’t see in person, but you know exactly how big a quarter is. Knowing this, you can make a pretty good guess how large or small those dots are. Still, it’s always a smart idea to order a swatch of fabric reasons beyond pattern size.
Anyway, I really want to talk about the floor (floor tiles, specifically) and the idea of using existing things around you to aid in measurement.
I don’t know about you, but I never think to bring a tape measure with me to the fabric store. Most of us wouldn’t, right? But sometimes I grab a fabric bolt that doesn’t appear to have much left on it and I’d really like to know how much yardage is remaining before I stand in that insanely long line to the cutting table. Other times I will grab a cute fabric wrapped on a ridiculously long, unlabeled cardboard tube…..but how long IS it though?!?
I’ll help you out.
Most large chain craft stores like JoAnn Fabric, Hobby Lobby, and others, have the same generic white-speckled floor tiles which are measured at 1’x1′ (or 12″x12″). A single yard of fabric is 36″ (inches) in length, which equals 3 of these white tiles. I’ve simply rolled out the fabric bolt above the floor just to get an idea of the yardage I need for a project. You may think this is silly, but it has saved me on a number of occasions at these stores.
Watch and learn, kids.
Amazed yet? Probably not. But my sewing project tip #3 still awaits!