Travelon | The Best Travel Bag I’ve Ever Used

2014 July 22

 

I dare you to find a better Travel Purse!

This Travelon cross shoulder bucket bag anti theft is the best Travel Purse EVER! Doubles as a camera bag! *This black cross shoulder bucket style purse/bag was given to me to review from Travelon.com.

I wasn’t immediately in love with it. I like that it’s black (comes in other colors). But the overall look of the bag is a bit… um… Functional? Stick with me… it grew on me in a big way I think you’ll agree.

I LOVE cross shoulder bags.
Ask my friends.
They make fun of me.

I am rarely without my small cross over the shoulder purse. I wear it in the car WHILE DRIVING most of the time. Just easier that way—I’m lazy?  I will lose everything if I don’t ‘wear’ my purse.

Cross Shoulder Bucket Bag Doubles as Camera Bag

Relic Crossbody Bag--About $30 on Amazon

Relic Crossbody Bag–About $30 on Amazon

My regular little purse is WAY too small to carry my big girl Nikon camera. Lately dragging my camera on airplanes especially has become a chore. I hate to pack it in my luggage so it’s always in my larger carry-on tote.

But I stress it might be getting knocked around in a big bag like that.
Here’s a side shot of my ‘Daily’ crossbody purse. It’s VERY thin. And it doesn’t work for travel and DEFINITELY doesn’t work as a camera bag! —>

Travelon bucket Bag is Perfect for airport travel plus safety from theftI tested the black Travelon Bucket Bag out heavily in the past 4 months. I used it as my everyday bag as well as put it through the traces on several air travel trips. I became very fond of it. At first I thought the $60 price tag was a bit high. But it has held up impressively and is especially well suited for travel. It cleans up easily. I will have this bag for years and years.

{NOTE: The Anti-Theft details of the Travelon bag are below and another reason I’ll have this bag for a long time!}

The Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Bucket Bag isn’t necessarily meant to be a camera bag, but wow it’s the PERFECT size and shape for exactly that. Plus, two expandable side pockets hold water bottles. And THAT came in super handy on our recent family vacation to Spain where we walked 2 and 3 miles every day. The front outer pocket is the perfect size for a cell phone (even my huge HTC One Max fit fine).

 

One Big Negative For Me Though…

I refuse to own a wallet. So my purses HAVE to have built in credit card and money slots. The interior main compartment has credit card slots, but something about them didn’t work for me, they weren’t snug enough maybe? Every time I reached into the bag I would knock the cards out of their slots. WAY too big of a stress that I would somehow not realize I had bumbled the cards and lose one! I finally had to put the cards in the money pocket, which was fine but not ideal.

In general the whole bag is very comfortable to wear even when packed with all of my day’s travel gear. There is a stretchy metal key chain attachment, which I never used, but if you like that it’s there. And I LOVED the tiny built in light just inside the main compartment. For those darkly lit times when you can’t find something on the bottom of the bag!

The whole point of this Travel bag is the ANTI THEFT features.

  • Travelon.com's  Anti Theft Bag cross body bag is my favorite travel bag doubles as a camera case! Slash-proof locking main and front compartments
  • Cut-proof shoulder strap attaches to chair or post
  • RFID blocking card slots
  • Front slash pocket and zip rear pocket
  • 2 mesh expansion pockets hold water bottle & umbrella
  • Removable LED light

 

I can’t say I ‘tested’ the anti-theft features out. NO THANKS! But I DID travel to Europe and back and walked and walked and WALKED around with this bag and I still have it… So?

Travelon over shoulder bucket bag goodncrazy trip to SpainIt really is VERY sturdy. I highly recommend this bag as a travel bag or a camera bag (or both!). And it would make a great gift for the travel lover on your birthday/holiday list.

—Here I am walking in Toledo, Spain with my Travelon Cross Shoulder Bucket Bag. Talk about functional meets it’s match. Camera bag, travel bag, easy to wear over shoulder bag… all there. Exactly what I needed in Spain!

 

Cost: $60
Material:
  900 D. Polyester
Size:  14 x 10 x 4 inches
Strap Drop Length:  13 – 25
Disclosure: I received the Travelon Classic Bucket Bag at no charge to test and share my honest opinion. I wore it on 4 air travel trips, several road trips and all over the Charlotte area. Travelon had no idea how much I was in need of a camera bag doubling as a travel bag.

 

3 Best Summer Salads | Friends Will Be Thrilled!

2014 July 21

 

Lime Cilantro Avocado Shrimp—
Broccoli Salad—
Chinese Chicken Cabbage—

Are you looking for the best summer salads? Because…  I found them!
Choose your favorite style: Shrimp, Chicken or Vegetarian. When you show up to the local block party or Labor Day gathering… your salad will win. I promise.

*Lime Cilantro Avocado Shrimp Salad

 

lime cilantro avocado shrimp saladYou had me at Avocado! I LOVE avocado in anything, everything and simply plain right out of the shell with a spoon. I rarely use shrimp and I have no real idea how to cook it. Mainly I just eat it in restaurants? STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE cuz baby this salad is AHHMAZING.

DRESSING:

  • ½ Cup Red Onions Chopped Small
  • Cilantro: fresh or dried, 1 or 2 TBLSpoons fresh chopped or 1 Teaspoon dried and rubbed in the palm of your hand first
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

 

SALAD INGREDIENTS:

  • Pre-Cooked Shrimp, chopped loosely: About 15 Total

{HINT: I bought the smaller batch of cooked shrimp at Costco and ate the extra shrimp on the spot.}

  • 2 or 3 Medium Avocados, perfectly ripe… you know what I mean? Barely beginning to soften but not over soft so the chunks will keep their form in the salad.
  • 1 Cup of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Cup of Frozen Corn Kernels, thawed
  • 1 Jalapeño, de-seeded and chopped very small (I usually use half of the pepper cuz I’m a baby) Keep the seeds if you like it hot and kids won’t be eating this?

First mix the Dressing Ingredients in a small bowl and let sit while you prepare the Salad Ingredients. Chop the shrimp and vegetables and place in a pretty serving bowl. Then pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently. If you aren’t serving immediately (and WHY WOULDN’T YOU?!) refrigerate immediately.

lime cilantro avocado shrimp salad carissa rogers goodncrazy

 

*Broccoli Salad

Sweet and tangy dressing drizzled over raw broccoli combined with add ins of your choice make this a favorite at any summer gathering. Family dinner or BBQ with friends… consider making a double portion of this salad, you’ll need it!

INGREDIENTS:

2 or 3 large bunches of broccoli—more if you want a huge salad!

{HINT: BUY whole fresh broccoli with the longest stems you can find. JUST TRUST ME.}

MIX-IN OPTIONS: —amount to fit your salad

  • Craisins or Raisins—1/2 Cup or more or less
  • Sunflower Seeds or Salted Cashew Pieces—1/2 Cup or more or less
  • Chunks of Mozzarella or Shredded Cheddar—1 Cup or more or less
  • Onions: White, Purple or Scallions—1/4 Cup or more or less
  • Bacon Crumbles—toss in a handful!

DRESSING:

  • ½ Cup Vinegar (I use seasoned rice wine vinegar but white or cider will totally work)
  • 1 or 2 TBLSpoons of white sugar—depending on how sweet you want your salad, start with one and see if that works?
  • Start with ½ cup Mayonnaise (I NEVER use Miracle Whip.. GROSS.) I usually have to add more mayo once the salad is mixed up…

Cut your broccoli florets into bite sized ‘trees’. SAVING the large flower-less stalk. Take a sharp small knife and carefully slice away the tough outer skin of the stalk as well as slicing a bit off the bottom of the stalk. Then slice the inner ‘core’ of the broccoli stem. Taste one. It will surprise you. Crunchy texture and reminds me of a radish without the radish flavor. Throw the sliced core pieces into the salad bowl with the florets. People will ask if you added water chestnuts to the salad.

Add the optional mix-ins of choice. I use Craisins, sunflower seeds, sliced string cheese (I know, don’t judge—it’s yummy!) and chopped red onions. I don’t always use bacon but if I’ve got it I do!

In a small bowl whisk the dressing ingredients together. I adjust as I go along, if there is more broccoli (or if I’m not serving it within an hour) I make a bit more dressing. The broccoli will wilt a bit and soak up the dressing if you store it overnight first. Add more mayo before serving in that case.

 

 

*GoodNCrazy Chinese Chicken Cabbage Salad

GoodNCrazy Chinese Salad 2I make a complete double batch of this salad because my kids devour it in the most adorable eat-more-than-I-do way. But I only mix half of the toppings and dressing into half of the greens and store the salad separate from the leftover topping/dressing for the next day.

INGREDIENTS:

  • SALAD: Can buy bagged shredded cabbage and lettuce OR 1 whole napa cabbage, shredded; 1/2 head of lettuce (any type) shredded; 4-6 scallions (green onions), slice all of the white and 2/3rd of the green
  • Store-Bought Roasted Chicken: deboned and chopped bite size
  • TOPPING: 2 tablespoons butter; 1 package chicken ramen noodles (remove packet, set aside and crush noodles);1 small package sliced almonds, 1 container sesame seeds
  • DRESSING: 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar; 1/4 cup vegetable, canola, or olive oil; 2 tablespoons white sugar; 2 tablespoons soy sauce

Toss the salad ingredients together in a large bowl, and set aside. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the almonds, crushed ramen noodles, and sesame seeds, continue cooking and stirring for 2 minutes or until golden.

Remove toppings from heat and let cool.

In a separate bowl, add all the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined. Add the reserved Ramen packet to the dressing at this point whisk again.

Dress the salad with the dressing, half of the chicken and the toppings; toss and serve.
(Save the rest of the chicken for another meal.) OR, serve the toppings and dressing alongside the salad, allowing people to help themselves.

{NOTE: If salad is not served dressed, refrigerate leftover salad, chicken, toppings, and dressing in separate containers for up to 2 days.}

Optional ideas: I really like sautéing green and red peppers with red onions and then adding the chopped chicken to the pan and heat up. Add the chicken and pepper mixture to the salad already dressed with the toppings and dressing, or serve on the side. Peppers and onions like that make me happy for almost any meal, why not this one!

 

Do you make salads like these? If so what’s your favorite recipe? If not… which one are you gonna try now??

When a Long Trip becomes Too Long (& then a cancelled flight makes it better?)

2014 July 17

Saying Goodbye to Spain and Meeting Malala? WOW!

When we were first dreaming about taking the whole family to Spain, we thought it was going to be a 2 or 3 month long working trip for Dad and the family tagging along for the summer months.

When that fell through and we changed our dream to a shorter vacation type of family adventure, it seemed kind of a bummer to fly so far only to stay 5 or 6 days. We came up with a plan for 5 days in Madrid and 4 days in Barcelona. Plus we sneaked in a day trip from Madrid to Toledo.

On paper and in our checkbook it all seemed do-able and fine. In reality with 3 kids and a budget that was NOT unlimited we ended up feeling like we spent one day too long in Madrid and maybe one day too long in Barcelona as well. We knew by that point our whole years’ worth, maybe two years vacation budget had been spent.

#rogersinspain walking narrow streets of Toledo spain

We were tired in a general—10 Days out of our own world sense, and we were definitely tired of all the walking. Tired of the smokers on the sidewalks and I just wanted my own bed and my own food (and a Diet Mountain Dew)! I wanted so much more in the way of modern art tours but the kids were ready to shoot me if I asked to go inside another Gaudi building.

Walking. Walking. Walking.

#RogersinSpain walking walking walking

Her Face Says It All…

her face says it all

On our last day we woke to a flurry of emails and texts from United that our flight was *maybe delayed, they didn’t know how long. After waiting on hold and then talking to an airline rep we stayed on our original schedule and taxied to the Barcelona airport very early… with little in our bellies. Figuring we would eat breakfast after we checked in and passed through TSA.

Yeah. No.

The originating flight (out of Newark) was cancelled and therefore our flight was also cancelled.

Now what? Our already long trip becoming a day longer. The airline very nicely put us up at a hotel airport and told us to return the next day for hopefully the same early flight? Oh no. An ‘airport’ hotel in Spain sounded like it would be dreadful.

WRONG.
Wow how wrong.
Our little budget vacation ended on a luxurious 24 hour note!

The Barcelona Airport Hotel or BAH is totally worth booking your last night before flying out of the Barcelona Airport (El Prat)! Who Knew? Around 100 Euros per night including breakfast, 80 Euro without breakfast…

BAH barcelona airport hotel

Photo from the BAH website

After a free shuttle bus over to the hotel and a slightly long check in process (no room was available for us that early in the AM), we headed to the hotel restaurant and proceeded to devour—in the nicest possible way—the most amazing breakfast buffet I’ve had in a very long time. Maybe ever?

EGGS! Toast! Fruit, cereals, yogurt, fresh croissants, hot chocolate… it was heaven.
It was smoke-free.
It was air conditioned.
It was divine.

And the pool? Even better!

Our breakfasts till that point had consisted of quick bowls of cereal and day old croissants purchased at small grocery stores. But the Spanish grocery stores don’t sell any fruit or veggies. Those are at different little fruit stores and we never had time to stop at additional stores. Plus they were never air conditioned and I was slightly grossed out by the fruit and veggies sitting out like that not chilled. (I know, dumb American… but still. Weird.)

The hotel itself was very European and modern. Circular architecture and bright colors with sleek calming lines and furniture. I’m not kidding it had possibly the most beautiful –small— outdoor pool I’ve ever seen.

Using the hotel free shuttle we spent the afternoon back in the city and took a harbor cruise, something we didn’t feel we had time for before and even for 5 people it cost only a little over 50 Euros. We smiled and figured… oh well, take it as a sign that we were supposed to see more of the city after all. We relaxed on the 90 minute Mediterranean boat ride and enjoyed the views of the city from a different angle than is possible while walking around the city or on a tour bus. And later we met a couple sister missionaries walking along the pier on a day trip themselves, who totally recognized our slightly longer than normal shorts and asked us if we were Mormon. I got the feeling they were super happy to speak English with us.

Don’t we look exhausted and kind of cute on our last… LAST day in Spain?

Carissa Rogers on Golandrinas boat tour Barcelona

We took the subway and then the local train system back to the airport and used the free hotel shuttle again from the airport to hotel at that point. Finishing the afternoon calmly in the hotel’s gorgeous outdoor pool and then another amazing dinner buffet was enough to make us almost grateful(?) for our extra ‘forced’ day in Barcelona! How strange?

Because we were so close to the airport in the morning we had time to completely devour another insanely wonderful (included) breakfast before taking the shuttle over to the airport. Where we thankfully had no further delays or problems with our flights.

Here’s the Truly Crazy Part of our Extended Trip

While waiting for our flight from Newark back to home to Charlotte we soaked up a corner in the United Club, spread out, charged our electronics, snacked on crackers and Ghirardelli hot cocoa. The perks of having a dad who flies often for work is admittance to airport clubs!

Guess who walks by at one point?

GUESS? (You’ll never guess.)

I nearly fell out of my chair.

Malala Yousafzai and her Father.

Was that really her? I wondered while rubbing my eyes. Did I make it up?
I talked my 13 year old daughter into strolling around the club to see if we could find her, if it was really her. And YUP. On the other side of the room there she was, sitting with her father talking to people sitting near them.

I Was Dying!

We promptly went back to our seats and while I talked myself OUT of going to speak to them, my daughters and friends on Facebook admonished me. Why not? She speaks publically? She must get admirers who talk to her? Since last December when I read her book I’ve been slightly obsessed with her and her cause… GO TALK TO HER everyone said.

We finally did. (Took me 10 minutes to psyche myself up!) My main goal was for my 16 and 13 year old daughters to meet her and see her as a real person, a girl just like them fighting for the rights of OTHER girls just like them. I rehearsed what I would say.

Her father saw us walking towards them and he immediately stood up and accepted us very graciously. He shook our hands, asked my daughters how old and what grade they are in and Malala, demure, didn’t speak a lot but looked us all in the eye and you could see and feel her beauty and character.

malala Quote

WE MET MALALA on our way home from Spain!
It was like our own personal Malala Day
(PS. Her birthday was this past July 12th … now known as Malala Day. )

 
We were delayed by an extra day on a trip that was already too long only to really enjoy that last day in Barcelona probably more than the rest of the trip and then met a current Hero of mine!!

That… my friends is the ending to a perfect family adventure.

“They thought that bullets would silence us, but they failed. Instead, out of that silence came thousands of voices. My birthday wish this year is that we all raise our voices for those under oppression, to show our own power and that courage is stronger than their campaign of fear.” – Malala Yousafzai

 

Read all the #RogersInSpain posts… and MORE photos over on my Flickr stream.

Fireworks And Fireflies In South Carolina | Light Em If Ya Got Em!

2014 July 3
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2014 June 30
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2014 June 24
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2014 June 23
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Take 5 people to an amazing new city much less new continent and then explain… the cost of transportation, hotel & food for FIVE means we get to see the OUTside of a lot of pretty places.

Well THAT’s a bummer. How we made the most of our European Vacation #RogersInSpain

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2014 June 5

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2014 June 3
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2014 June 1
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2014 May 29
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2014 May 28
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2014 May 27
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