Caravan Sonnet

1/19/19

The Long Winter Junk Journal: A Behind The Scenes Look

Happy Saturday friends! I am SO excited to share with y'all a couple of "behind the scenes" pictures of one of the junk journals I am finishing up for the December Caravan shop (which seems particularly fitting for this weekend snow storm we are supposed to get here in upstate New York!)

It's so fun to start sharing a few glimpses of some of the new items that will be available when the 
December Caravan shop re-opens (from the holiday break) this coming Wednesday!!

If you would like to see a video flip through of this junk journal in its "in-between" phase head on over to the @decembercaravanshop IG page by clicking HERE!! 

Happy Saturday friends! I hope that you have a wonderful weekend!

1/18/19

You are Not Alone

I shared this quote on instagram several years ago and y'all, I LOVE this quote. So often, for thousands of different reasons, we can feel alone and like this is the way our "stories" (whatever season that they are in) will always be. 

My dear friend Jen first shared this quote with me in the middle of my quest to find out the reasons why at a young age I had become unable to walk, was needing a feeding tube, and my entire system was crashing and failing. 

After traveling across the country and seeing more than 273 doctors I was finally correctly diagnosed with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease in March 2013. Three short months later I was also diagnosed with Cancer and then multiple other health issues. Those days were incredibly dark and discouraging and laying in bed (almost completely bedridden) had never felt so alone. I truly felt like it was the end of my story and that there was no hope or light for the future.

Almost 6 years later after that quote was originally shared I now fully understand how so many of you are feeling in a variety of situations. The days have often seemed darker than light in the middle of pain and illness. And my heart breaks for you in that season. These last couple of weeks I have been receiving nearly 4,000 emails about people struggling through chronic illness, Lyme, and other chronic pain situations. All feeling hopeless. I am trying to respond to each one, but please know that your story is important... your are NOT alone... and this is NOT the end of your story. 

If you are reading this today and feeling lost in the pain of your story, my hope and prayer is that you will feel specifically and tenderly encouraged today. Sending love friends... keep holding on... you are NOT alone...and this is NOT the end of your story.

1/17/19

10 Things to Do Before You Leave on Your Caribbean Cruise

Hello friends! Happy Thursday! Today I am so excited to share with y'all 10 things that you should definitely do before you leave on a Caribbean Cruise!

One of the questions that I receive on a weekly basis is for packing tips and suggestions along with vacation tips! These are great questions and realistic needs as you plan to leave on a trip and before I went on my first Caribbean Cruise back in 2014 I spent a ton of time researching these answers. Since that time five years ago I have been so blessed to go on 4 additional cruises (nearly one a year) and even a river cruise on the Rhine River (which was incredible!). I share that to say that along the way there has been lots of different learning curves and so I hope that this list of 10 things to do before you leave on your Caribbean Cruise will help you have a stress-free and fun-filled and memorable vacation!
1. Make a List, Check it Twice
I know that not everyone is a "list-maker" like I am (color-coded and everything for y'all that know me well! *smiles*) but lists for a Caribbean cruise are extremely helpful. If you are like me and over-the-moon excited for your trip, it can be easy to forget something important so I definitely recommend making a list and then checking it several times. Also- consider making a second list of items that you can't pack until the morning that you leave.

I love using fun notepads and paper to make my lists on and THIS ONE from Rifle Paper Co is one of my favorites! You can find it HERE!

Some additional posts to help you with your list making in this step: 
// 7 Things to Take With You While In Port //
// 10 Things People Forget to Bring on Their First Cruise // 
// Top 13 Must Pack Items for a Caribbean Cruise //
// 16 Unexpected Things to Bring on Every Cruise //
2. Pack Medicines, Over-The-Counter Meds, Vitamins, Supplements, Etc.
I shared this last year in my post, 10 Tips for Cruising With a Chronic Illness, but make sure that you pick up any medicines and over-the-counter meds you need a few days before your trip. 

If you are living with a serious or chronic illness this can take a lot of time to plan and prepare your medications and supplements. Honestly, it can take a bit of maneuvering (and even a lot of patience) to make sure that you have all of our meds before a trip. Try to give your doctors as much advance warning as you can that you will be going on a cruise and that you will need meds (and extra meds depending on your situation) for the duration of your cruise. 

I have said this before, but I can't encourage you enough to try to work on this as much of you can ahead of time as some medications can only be purchased with insurance at certain intervals so you will want to work this out with your doctor and insurance company. Also, check with the cruise line as many cruise lines require that your medications are in the original containers not just in random pill containers. 

Some additional posts to help you with this step: 
// 10 Tips for Cruising With a Chronic Illness //
3. Purchase Any Specific Caribbean Cruise Items You Need In Advance
Definitely make sure that you have clothes, shoes, and specific items that you need for the Caribbean purchased a couple of weeks before the cruise. Depending on the time of year that you are traveling and where you live, you will also want to make sure that you have plenty of "summer weather" items including suntan lotion, water shoes, sandals, etc. 

Looking for a list of "must pack items" for your Caribbean Cruise? Check out my post "13 Must Pack Items for Your Caribbean Cruise" which you can read by clicking HERE.

Don't forget to purchase an underwater camera that you can use for any water activities. Don't want to spend a ton of money on an underwater camera? Consider purchasing the Nikon COOLPIX S33 Waterproof Digital Camera to use! I purchased this for our Royal Caribbean Cruise in November and it was wonderful! You can see some pictures that I took with it in my post about our Reef Snorkeling and Sandbar Getaway Shore Excursion by clicking HERE!
4. Call Your Bank/Credit Card Companies to let them Know You are Traveling
Make sure to call your bank and credit card companies to let them know that you will be traveling out of the country to the Caribbean. Some people think that because it is just the Caribbean that you don't need to do this but it is definitely so much easier to make a phone call from home than to figure out when you are out at sea why your card was blocked during your cruise! 
5. Print off and Make Copies of All Your Documents and Passports
Make sure that you have paper copies of all of your documents and even a copy of your passport for your Caribbean Cruise. While I love the ease and convenience of having everything on my phone, I also understand it is wise to have a "hard copy" of everything that I need, including a copy of my passport in case something gets lost. Looking for a cute passport holder and something to hold your tickets/credit cards/etc in one? Checkout THIS ONE which comes in a variety of colors! 

Wondering what documents you should bring? Check out the post below for some helpful tips: 
6. Give an Emergency Contact All of Your Information
Make sure to let someone know the important information of the dates you are traveling, your flight numbers, hotel names, contact information, and the ship and room number that you will have. This is important in case anyone needs to get a hold of you while you are traveling or if you have an emergency on board. Just a heads up also that most cruise lines require an emergency contact (of someone not traveling with you) to be listed on their forms when you are checking in.
7. Arrange to Have Your Mail Held or A Neighbor to Pick it Up
Depending on how long your cruise is you will want to make sure that you have your mail held at the post office or that you make arrangements to have your neighbor pick it up. Just a heads up: stopping and holding mail at the post office can take a few days to "kick in" so you will want to give yourself at least 7 days to do this!
8. Organize Your Wallet
Take a few minutes to re-organize your wallet for your trip and remove anything that you won't need including department store cards, gas credit cards, etc. Put all of these together in an envelope and keep them in a safe and secure place for you to have once you return from your cruise. 

Looking for a purse organizer? Get this ONE. Y'all... I swore against these for the longest time and now I can't stop talking about (and gifting it) to everyone I know. They are FANTASTIC. There are tons of different color options and keep everything so organized. I also love that I can easily transfer it from bag to bag with everything in it! I started off just using them for trips and now I use it everyday! I LOVE this one and it is less than $16! Click HERE!
9. Deal with Your Phone 
You will want to make sure you understand the fees and roaming charges on your phone with your provider before you get on the ship. If you are wanting to use your phone, social media, etc. while you are in the Caribbean you will want to make sure to call your cell service provider and ask for a package for the countries that you are visiting. You will pay a ton less and be thankful when you get home. 
10. 10 More Things to Do the Day Before You Leave/the Day You Leave
(1) Take Pets to be Boarded
(2) Water house plants
(3) Mail Last-Minute Bills
(4) Clean Out Refrigerator
(5) Set timers for any lights for your Home
(6) Adjust the thermostat in Your Home
(7) Turn off water in your Home if there is a Danger of Frozen Pipes while you are Gone
(8) Double Check the Locks in Your Home
(9) Double Check to Make Sure you Have all Important Documents, Including Passport
(10) Fill out Luggage Tags and attach according to the cruise specification
Most of all- get ready to have a blast!! The Caribbean is beautiful and relaxing and I hope you have a wonderful cruise! If you are looking for additional travel tips for cruising (to the Caribbean or other areas of the word) you can find the following posts on my blog:

                                              //  7 Things to Take With You While In Port  //                                            
                                           // 10 Things People Forget to Bring on Their First Cruise //                                     
                                                  //  Top 13 Must Pack Items for a Caribbean Cruise  //                                           

I hope that this list of 10 Things to Do before you leave on your Caribbean Cruise have been helpful! Let me know if you have any questions!!

Miami in a Weekend: Where to Go and What to Eat


Taking on Miami in one weekend can seem like a gargantuan task. Visiting the most popular and well-known places is an easy solution, but you can end up spending hours trailing through lines or maneuvering through crowds just to do the one thing you sought out to do. Thankfully, Miami is an ever-growing city and there is plenty to do outside the expected all you need is a little city guidance.

Best Places to Eat 
Miami is famous for its Latin cuisine, but many tourists are quick to flock to the Cuban offerings in the different parts of the city's expansive neighborhoods. From Hialeah to Miami Beach, it is all too easy for visitors to choose one of the plethoras of Cuban restaurants and feel as though they've gotten all of what Miami has to offer, but this is entirely not the case.

Miami has an array of Latin cuisine options located throughout its neighborhoods. Some notable ones include:
     Sabor Venezolano: A Venezuelan restaurant tucked away in a strip mall in Doral—affectionately known by locals as Doralzuela—this place is as authentic as it gets. You can sample anything from full platter meals such as the national dish Pabellon or try a smattering of appetizers such as tequeños or empanadas.
     Divino Ceviche: Peruvian cuisine is seeing more and more interest from local tourism and that is all due to its rich history and abundance of fusion elements. Try the famed ceviche with a side of complimentary sweet potato chips or dive into the delicious world of Peruvian Chinese food.
     Madroño Restaurant: Another population making its impact on Miami cuisine is the Nicaraguans. Nicaraguan food is as diverse as it is tasty, so you can try anything from the street food favorite Vigoron to the hearty Churrasco.

Prices to Expect 
There is an assumption that all of Miami is expensive, but this is entirely not true. The fact of the matter is that the closer you get to Miami Beach, with all of its high-end offerings, the more expensive things are. Proximity to the beach is a highly-sought after commodity and there is a steep price to pay for it. Anything from hotels to drinks at a bar is going to be significantly more expensive the closer they are to the beach. If you are more flexible in your travel plans, consider staying further inland for more affordable accommodations.

Activities to Try 
Many of the popular tourist places in Miami are also some of the most overcrowded. To avoid the crowds and still have a great time, opt for these alternatives.

     Wynwood Farmer's Market: Located in the beautiful art district of Wynwood, the Wynwood Farmer's Market is a small, organic market that caters to local business as well as alternative, healthier food options. You can shop for produce and try handmade kombucha all while getting your steps in.
     Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science: This is a fairly new addition to the Miami hotspots, but it is quickly making an impact. The Museum is home to an aquarium as well as a laser lights show and multiple floors filled with scientific exploration.
     CityPlace Doral: Forego the Dolphin or Aventura Malls and their bustling crowds for this small up-and-comer. CityPlace offers a movie theater with a full bar, a variety of restaurants, and little boutiques to delight and surprise. CityPlace also has frequent activities from Ladies' Night to small concerts on its main rotunda. Visit the website to see what they are doing now.
This is only a small chunk of the things that there are to do in Miami. Take this one weekend as a reconnaissance mission, then come back to visit the places you've missed. Wherever you choose to go, Miami will surely deliver an experience to remember.
*contributed post*

1/15/19

December Lane Grand Opening

I am so excited to share that December Lane is officially open! This has been a project that has been close to my heart for about a year now and it is so exciting to see all of the work that has been happening behind the scenes come to pass! 

December Lane is a boutique collection of curated travel watercolor prints that has been inspired by a love of adventure and suspending beautiful moments in time. 

If you know me than you know that I have always loved watercolors. Watercolor or "watercolour" (as my British loving heart loves to say), "is a painting method in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-based solution". My great-grandmother was a beautiful artist and she inspired my love of painting and my incredible awe for this type of work. 

As a travel writer I am enthralled with the beauty of the world in which we live and love to share these photographs now recreated on my computer as fine art watercolor paintings and prints. 

There are only a select number of prints available for each listing to keep each print unique, specific, and precious and to keep a boutique quality. (If you are interested in bulk sales or have a special project please don't hesitate to contact me.) My hope that your time in the shop and the items you purchase inspire a love of adventure while suspending precious moments and memories in time.

In addition each purchase from the shop gives a portion of proceeds to creatively and purposefully help foster children and their families. If you know me than fostering and adoption is a big part of my heart. Something that many people don't know (or is lost in the "messiness" of my Lyme story) is that I was in the process of becoming a foster parent when my health & life shattered due to Lyme Disease and other health issues. Being a mama has always been a hearts desire of mine, and since I was a young teen I have always had a heart for the foster care system and adoption. One of the hardest parts about this journey has been putting this dream on hold and so to be at a point in this healing journey where I am now starting to be able to support in a small way this area has been so incredible! I can't wait to share with y'all some of the specific ways that December Lane will be helping these children!

I wanted to take a few minutes and answer a couple of frequently asked questions that I have been receiving since I announced last week about this new shop:

Will I still have my original Etsy Shop, December Caravan?
Absolutely yes! These two shops have different focuses and different purposes. December Caravan is a boutique that focuses on altered journals and books, while December Lane is a watercolor travel print shop. December Caravan is currently still on a holiday break and will re-open next Wednesday, January 23rd with lots of new goodies and items!

Did you take all of the original photographs?
Yes! Each print is from an original photograph that I took on my travels.

How Many Prints of Each Picture are there? Why is there a limited number?
There are only a select number of prints available for each listing to keep each print unique, specific, and precious. This allows the shop to hold a boutique quality that encourages creativity and uniqueness!

I am interested in a watercolor print that may not be listed in the shop. Can I contact you to see if you have a photograph from that area?
Yes! Please feel free to contact me as I am working to stock my shop fully from all of my travels! I will be happy to help if I can!

I see you help foster children. How specifically do you do this? I am a foster parent- can I contact you for a special request?
For those who are foster parents please feel free to contact the shop directly to obtain information on how you can receive a free print that you feel would be encouraging, supportive, and inspiring for your foster child to have while living with you and one that they can take with them if they move to a different location. After you contact the shop we will give you a special code to receive your photo for free.

With each purchase from the shop we give a portion of our proceeds to creatively and purposefully help foster children and their families in many ways. You can follow along on our instagram account for all of the latest updates!

Thank you so much friends for all of your excitement and support of this new shop! Head on over to the grand opening by clicking HERE or by clicking the link below! Thank you again!!

1/14/19

7 Beauty Products You Need to Get Your Hands On in 2019

In 2017, the beauty industry was reported to be worth over $445 billion. That easily makes it one of the biggest and most lucrative industries in the world. And it's no secret that women (and men! It is 2019 after all!) love makeup, experimenting with their looks and perfecting them.

In this article, we'll go over some of the must-have beauty products of 2019. Whether you're debuting some new products while on a vacation, or for everyday use, I've got your back.


1. Jaclyn Hill's Morphe Palette

Do you love yourself some beauty YouTubers? If so, you've probably already heard about Jaclyn Hill's palette. It contains 35 colors, which can help you make almost any kind of look you're going for. From every day looks to a smoky eye, this palette has you covered. And, the eyeshadows are all extremely high pigmented, meaning they've got some serious staying power.


2. Urban Decay's Primer Potion

This is an oldie, but it's definitely a goodie. Don't put your eyeshadow on (whether it's from Jaclyn Hill or not) without a primer. A primer helps the eyeshadow stick to your lid in a more even tone. Without a primer, your eyeshadow will start to crease during the day, and that's really not cute. With the primer, it'll stay even all day. Urban Decay's version is not only cruelty-free but also comes with a little wand to help you apply it to your lids evenly.


3. Olay Eyes Brightening Cream

This eye cream is some of the best on the market, especially for the price point. At only $30, it can help ensure that the bags under your eyes don't stay all day. It'll help reduce them so that you have a smoothe palette for your concealer, meaning you'll have bright and beautiful eyes until the end of your workday. Plus, you can buy it at your local drug store, and sometimes, even the grocery store. That means you can get your groceries and better skin at the same time.


4. Korean Beauty Products

Korean beauty products are all the rage, and that's because they're years ahead of their western counterparts. While some of the skincare processes can seem intense, you don't have to do all of them to see good results. In fact, you can pick and choose what's best for your skin and create your own skincare routine. Prices for K-Beauty items vary, with anything from $10 for something like Etude House, to much more pricey. But, that's the way almost every type of makeup and skin care goes anyway. Most stores nowadays have a K-Beauty section, where you can ask about which items would be best for you. Ulta, particularly, has a huge one. Or, you can browse Amazon and find some of the items you want to be delivered directly to your doorstep. These beauty products have been a must have for a while now, and they aren't going anywhere in 2019. They'll help you keep your face smooth and beautiful, allowing you to put your makeup on the perfect palette.


5. Beauty Blender/Makeup Sponge

Gone are the days of applying foundation with your hands. In fact, that's pretty frowned upon now. Instead, most people use a combination of brushes and makeup sponges to give a dewy and airbrushed finish. With a makeup sponge, you'll simply dab it across your face, blending in your foundation with your skin tone. When you're finished, it'll look like your makeup is so flawless that it was actually Photoshopped on your face. You can purchase brand name makeup sponges at most makeup stores. Or, you can go off-brand, which sometimes are just as good as the name brand item. BeautyBox Direct, for example, sells one for under $3. Not only is it durable and reusable, but it also has a handle, something most sponges don't. This allows you a more controlled application.


6. Magnetic Eyelashes

Tired of gluing eyelashes on? Tired of the glue getting everywhere? Tired of getting the glue in your eyes? If so, magnetic lashes will become your best friend in 2019. Ever since more and more women began wearing lashes on the daily, magnetic lashes have come onto the scene to help them with the task of application. Admittedly, magnetic lashes have a bit of a learning curve, like regular lashes. Some come with an applicator to make the process a little bit easier. But, it's kind of like riding a bike or learning to put in contact lenses. After you figure out how to do it, you won't want to go back.


7. Self-Setting Concealer

Make Up For Ever's Ultra Concealer means you can kiss baking or a using a setting powder goodbye. Instead, you'll just rub it into your skin (and using a makeup sponge is helpful!) and it'll look fantastic all day long. This is perfect for those who want to skip an extra step in the morning, and still look fabulous.


The Best Beauty Products of 2019

The year is young, so it's hard to tell what the best beauty products will end up being. But, as 2018 was epic for makeup lines and amazing YouTuber brand collabs, we can only expect for 2019 to raise the bar even higher. And, with more products becoming more accessible, you no longer have to spend a fortune to ensure your makeup is on point. If you're into makeup, you're likely into fashion, too. Click here to read my blog's section on how to stay stylish, especially while you're traveling.

*contributed post*

1/12/19

Launching Tuesday...

I am so excited to share with y'all something very exciting that is coming Tuesday! I am opening a second Etsy Shop, December Lane Company!

December Lane is a boutique collection of watercolor travel prints that are inspired by a love of adventure and suspending beautiful moments in time. December Lane also exists to help support children in the foster care system. 

This is something that I have been working on for nearly a year and I am SO excited to share more with y'all on Tuesday! 

In the meantime I hope you will follow along on Instagram (click HERE), and head over to the new Etsy shop (click HERE) to "favorite" it to stay in the know of everything! 

Happy Saturday friends! I hope that you have a wonderful day!!