Browse Author by Nadine


Back in May before I lost my job, I had a friend contact me with a super, super cheap airfare option for Madrid. When I say cheap, I mean $380 round trip flight from Chicago. Hard to pass up, right? The only deal was that I had to get from Minneapolis to Chicago, which is super cheap ($84RT) and easy on Southwest Airlines. This cheap airfare had one layover from Chicago, which was in Atlanta. Well if you’ve watched the news at all in the last two weeks, you saw that Irma was posing a real threat to the Florida/Georgia Line area. We were flying Delta, so when weather poses a threat they allow you to make alternative transportation. Since it appeared that Irma was heading straight for Atlanta (spoiler alert: Irma calmed down way before she hit Georgia), we decided to rebook, which gave us an extra layover.

On Tuesday morning I went from Minneapolis to Chicago. The next morning we flew from Chicago to Detroit, which was not fun. It was a small plane, with odd engine noises, turbulence, and not my favorite landing. From Detroit we had to catch a flight to Amsterdam, which ended up being delayed about an hour. The flight itself was great- smooth, lots of wine, and movie watching. However this hour delay caused us to almost miss our connection to Madrid. Imagine me sprinting through a foreign airport with a heavy backpack, in sandals, sweating, and with a bum foot that has been causing me pain for the last 2 months. After cutting the line in passport control, we made it on our flight with not a minute to spare.

Once we landed we still had to pick up our rental car, and drive the 3 hours to Zaragoza, which is an inland city halfway between Madrid and Barcelona. We were pretty tired at this point, but we made it, debatably in one piece. Our hotel was this cute little place right next to Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar. It had a humongous courtyard, and lots of cute little alleyways with shops, and cafes!


After we explored a little, we decided it was time to find something to eat. However this proved to be difficult, it was 4pm, in Spain, a country that embraces the dinner culture of eating at 10pm. Lots of the restaurants close around 4-5pm so that they can get ready for dinner. We found some sandwiches and decided to take them back to the room. The jet lag had finally kicked in, and we were both sleeping by 6pm. The early bed time allowed us to get up early the next morning and tour a little bit before we had to get on the road to Barcelona. Friday morning was cold and rainy, but we borrowed an umbrella and made the best of it!


We ventured to an indoor market with fresh seafood, meat, and fruits and veggies. While walking through the market, I noticed multiple patrons drinking wine, at 9am — I’m really starting to love the culture here in Spain! It was fun to watch the locals come to the market to buy all their fresh produce. While I was waiting in line to buy some fruit, two ladies in front of me had their large roller bags, and both left with full bags! When it was my turn to order I bought some grapes and figs, which rang in under $1!

These onions were the size of grapefruit!

After our fruit run we found a coffee shop with crepes, and gelato– calories don’t count on vacation, right? After breakfast we explored a bit more. Found an old roman theater transformed into an event space. After that we made our way back to the cathedral, but you couldn’t take pictures inside, so you’ll have to go to Zaragoza to see how beautiful it was! Lastly we walked across the river to see the city, and cathedral from another angle. I feel like some of these photos show just how cold we were. It’s odd to think that today I was freezing while wearing long sleeves and jeans, but in a few days I will be wearing a swim suit in Mallorca!

We left Zaragoza a little after noon, to set out on our journey to Barcelona. Renting a car was stressful at times, but also a really awesome way to see parts of Spain that I will probably never see again. Plus it was so nice to set our own travel schedule, and leave when we wanted to.

Favorite Parts of Zaragoza:

  • The market! I’m sure I will see a lot more fresh produce markets during my stay here in Spain, but I really loved how cheap and fresh the fruit was.
  • It’s a relatively inexpensive city. Our lodging (Hotel Pillar Plaza) was lovely and priced really well. Many food and drink were also priced very well, so you could indulge a little without feeling guilty.
  • The relaxed vibe of the city. A lot of the locals looked to be older, which leads me to believe that this may be a retirement destination.

Would I go there again?

  • Maybe? I liked the city, but I’m not sure if I would make it a main destination again.

Sometimes Life Really F*cking Sucks!

My life has been quite turbulent lately, which I am learning is pretty much just a fact of life. The only constant in life is that life is not constant– for someone who doesn’t deal with change well, and doesn’t accept that she doesn’t deal with change well, I am having a hard time accepting that life is uncontrollably turbulent.

Two years ago I wrote this post. At 25 years old I had not found my calling in life. I didn’t have what I would consider a career, nor was I close to finding a career. But that was okay because for the last two years I was one of those lucky people who enjoyed going to work. I liked my job, my coworkers, and I didn’t dread Mondays. For those that didn’t know, I worked for a college bookstore. My official title was textbook coordinator/buyer, but I wore many hats. And I loved it. I had a lot of autonomy, a lot of flexibility, and I got to make a lot of big decisions.

I’ve had some brutal jobs in the past, so finally having a job that I didn’t want to quit was a big deal. In fact, I was going to start a masters program this fall in creative writing (working at a college gives discounted tuition). For the first time ever I finally felt like I had a life plan, or at least a 5 year plan. And I had a plan that I was excited about. I do not write this blog because I am making money, or because I have a lot of readers (hey Missy, and Ben). I write this blog because I love writing. And the idea of getting to spend two years in a creative writing program was so thrilling for me.

Wellllllll life had another idea for me. Mid May I found out that my college bookstore was being bought out by Barnes and Noble, and I only had 4 weeks left of work. Life is so incredibly humbling sometimes. Losing my job was really tough, and I was in a pretty low place. But that uncontrollable turbulence of life kept up. Two weeks after losing my job, my grandma fell ill (she’s now on the mend). Let me tell you, I had no idea how hard caregiving was until I experienced it firsthand. I spent countless days and nights by my grandma’s side, helping with bathroom trips, showers, and anything else she needed. I love my grandma very much. I am an only grandchild and in a lot of ways she was like a second parent, but caregiving is so taxing. Some days it felt never ending. There were mornings when I would wake up and think “shit, this is my real life.”

I was jobless. I was stressed. I was anxious. I was exhausted. I felt like I was (am) just barely keeping my head above water. There was one day in particular where I was on the verge of what felt like a mental breakdown. I really didn’t think I could handle anything else thrown my way, but of course more was piled on. And I lived. I carried on. I kept breathing.

It’s really hard to have things happen in life that feel out of your control. And let’s not even start talking about the current state of Trump’s America, that’s a whole other level of hopelessness. The last 3 months have easily been the hardest 3 months of my entire life. Although I feel I need to stop here, and acknowledge that I am a white woman of privilege. If losing my job, and having one sick relative is what is causing my mental breakdown, I have a pretty good life. But I also don’t want to discount my (or anyone else’s) emotional well being. Because it’s really hard to wake up everyday and feel utterly hopeless. Somedays I wake up and think is life really meant to be this hard? Am I really suppose to feel this miserable all the time? And I know, I know, I am in charge of my own destiny, blah, blah. But somedays it really doesn’t feel like I am in charge of anything. Having a relative fall ill, losing a job that you loved, these are things you cannot control. And there are many other things in this world that we cannot control, so what do we do? How do we live? How do we prosper?

I wish I had these answers. If the last 3 months have taught me anything at all, I have learned that we just need to accept that life sucks! Life is really fucking hard sometimes. Finding a purpose or passion in life can be really difficult. But if we’re really lucky, sometimes we will feel moments of utter bliss. Moments so incredible that we will be reminded why we deal with the misery. I’ve also found that keeping a positive attitude in the face of adversity really makes all the difference. I may have lost a job I loved, but how wonderful is it that I was lucky enough to ever experience having a job that I didn’t completely hate?


Think of me.

An open letter to all the ignorant ass hats who misjudge individuals who are obese.

Please think of me the next time that you are judging an obese individual. The next time that you pass off this judgement as a concern for their health. If you knew me you would know that I go to the gym 4-5 days a week. You would know that I do a great mix of cardio and lifting. If you saw me in the gym, you would see me lifting heavy. You would see me working hard, sweating, and making good use of my time. I’m sorry that you saw me on the street and misjudged me as fat, lazy and out of shape. I wish you knew how much I love working out. But most of all, I wish you knew how hard I work.

If you knew me, you would know that I don’t have a desk job, that I am on my feet most days. You would know that I am active at my job, lifting and moving heavy things. You would know that I am overly aware of how much I move throughout the day. That I am constantly checking to see how many steps I’ve gotten in for the day.

If you knew me, you would know that I make drinking water a priority every single day.  You would also know that I don’t drink a drop of soda, juice or any other sugary drink. If you knew me, you would know how important healthy food is to me. You would see me eating fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins every. single. day. If you knew me you would probably come to me for advice on eating healthy, because you would know just how much time I have put into learning about health.

If you knew me, you would know that I have such an incredibly slow metabolism, that most of the time I feel powerless. You would know that I am trying my best. But that’s the point, you don’t know me. You don’t know how hard I work, so please stop making hurtful snap judgements. Everyone has a story, and everyone is living their life the way that they see fit. Who are you to judge that? Who are you to tell them that they are living wrongly? If someone loves their curves, let them. Did you know that stress can keep weight on the body? If someone loves their body, and doesn’t stress over their weight, this could actually help them drop pounds! Self acceptance is the answer of all answers.

So please, I’m begging you, think of me the next time you want to pass judgement. Think of me the next time you want to anonymously write a cruel comment on the internet, thinking that writing such a cruel comment will be motivation for someone to lose weight. It’s not motivating, it’s defeating. Please think of how hard I work the next time you want to pretend that a fat person deserves to be fat.

The next time that you think an obese individual is lesser than you, please reverse that thinking. Stop making assumptions. Stop equating fat with disgust. Just because losing weight or being thin comes easy to you, does not mean that it comes easy to others. Just because a certain diet worked well for you, does not mean that it will work for others. And please, please stop thinking that someone who is overweight needs to diet. Their health isn’t any of your concern. Is it so horrible to imagine someone embracing fat? To love being plus sized? The idea of health and fat are not mutually exclusive.

Now take a minute to imagine a world where men, and women can look however they want to look. Where little girls don’t have to grow up thinking that they need to starve themselves to be pretty. Imagine the amount of happiness you would feel knowing that you have worth beyond the scale? Now let’s stop imagining and start doing. The next time you want to pass a snap judgement on someone, stop. Catch yourself. Instead think of something positive about the person, or about yourself. The next time you want to make an assumption about someone, please, please, think of me.


Paleo Results

It’s been a month since I completed my paleo challenge. Not really a challenge (although it was challenging), more like a food cleanse. I took out a lot of foods that are known to cause allergies, weight gain, or general inflammation within the body. For 3 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas I took out grains, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, legumes, and dairy. On top of that I tried to incorporate foods that are known to help heal the gut, since I believe a lot of digestive problems stem from good or bad gut bacteria.

At the start of the cleanse I felt so positive about how I was going to feel afterwards. I envisioned myself having regular bowel movements, dropping a few pounds, and just overall feeling better than ever. Wellllllll that is pretty much opposite of what happened. I didn’t lose a single pound. Not one. Isn’t that crazy? How can someone eliminate all of those things and not drop a pound? Since I stopped the cleanse on Christmas, I proceeded to eat sooooo much sugar and junk (I know, that’s not healthy), but I didn’t gain a pound, and haven’t gained a pound since bringing all those foods back into my diet. Not gaining is great, but it’s just sooooo confusing.

On top of it, I ended up more constipated than I have been in a long, long time. Which shouldn’t have happened since my diet consisted largely of fruits, and vegetables. This leads me to believe that my body needs one of the nutrients that I eliminated. It took a few weeks of eating off the paleo diet to bring my body back to it’s normal baseline. And in case you are wondering what my baseline is, I have a bowel movement about 2-4 times a week, and it’s never easy (unless I’ve been out drinking). Which is not great, but wayyyyy better than when I was eating paleo.

So what’s next for me? Well, I have an appt with a Gastroenterologist at the end of February so I am hoping they have some suggestions, likely a colonoscopy. My other thoughts have been to get off my birth control… but I don’t want too! My periods were so rough (read: long, heavy, and gut wrenching painful cramps) prior to getting on birth control. Now I only have them once every two and a half months and they are much lighter. Although only having a period 5ish times a year is probably not healthy, and shows that I am really messing with my hormones. My other thought is still tied into thyroid. I have a lot of the symptoms of hypothyroid, however modern medicine tests don’t really do full paneled thyroid tests, so I would like to explore finding a thyroid doctor or an endocrinologist.  I will try to keep the blog up to date with where I am at in the journey, but for now I am going to continue to drink all the water, eat all the vegetables, and remain active. I’m also always working on self-acceptance, self-love, and body love, because I’m beyond exhausted with hating my body. I need to focus that energy into other areas of my life!




When I was 16 I was sitting in Spanish class and we had to watch a video about bullfighting. In this particular video they killed the bulls after the fights. Afterwards my teacher asked who thought killing the bull was unethical, and everyone raised their hand. Then he asked how many people were vegetarians, and no one could raise their hand. I went home that night and told my mom I was going to be a vegetarian. I had always been an animal lover, and never felt like killing animals for meat was a justified act. When I was 14 I found a PETA ad in a magazine and hung it in my locker. This is the ad:


For 9 and a half years I was a vegetarian. For the first 6 years I did not eat fish, but slowly my outlook started to shift, and I became a pescetarian. I made the decision to go vegetarian at 16 for ethical reasons. Health wasn’t a consideration for me at all. However after years, and years of struggling with constipation, I began to consider eating meat again. As much as I would like to say that vegetarians aren’t deficient on vitamins, I have come to learn that there are some vitamins and minerals that are just absorbed easier through meat. I also wanted to get soy out of my diet becasue for years I had been overly reliant on soy products. Oh, and I figured eating meat would make touring Europe a lot easier. So as a last ditch effort I decided to start eating meat again in the fall of 2015.

This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I know that sounds really dramatic, but for 9 years I identified as a vegetarian. It was more than a diet, it was a lifestyle. It was who I am, because even though I’m eating meat again, ethically I still find it to be so very wrong.

So did it change my health? Did it help my constipation? If you read this post, you already know the answer. I can honestly say that bringing meat back into my diet has made me feel no different. Actually I think it has had more of a negative effect than I expected. From fall of 2015 to now I have gained approximately 11 pounds. And the only variable that has changed in my life is the addition of meat. Also my skin got worse, it used to be clear and smooth, but as soon as I started eating meat it started looking rutty, and red.

Who knows if the meat itself was responsible for the weight gain. It could be because less things are off limits for me now. I do try to eat meats with low fat content but when going out to a restaurant, I will sometimes have a burger. It could also be the quality of meat. I try to eat locally farmed meat, but when eating out, that doesn’t always happen. So animals that have been injected with growth hormones, or antibiotics could definitely be playing a role in weight gain. If an animal has growth hormones injected to make it gain weight, I’m sure it could have the same effect on humans. Deep down I also think adrenaline could have something to do with it. When an animal is killed it is feeling a great deal of adrenaline, it’s pumping that stress hormone through it’s body, and that certainly can’t have a positive effect on our own systems.

All this said, I’m currently on a paleo diet, which is basically meat, meat meat. So why eat this way if I think meat is responsible for my weight gain? Well, as I explained in this post, I wanted to remove common food allergens from my diet to see if that was playing a role in my constipation. I’m going to give this a bit of time to try and work, but eventually I think I will shift back to a vegetarian diet. Or maybe an occasional vegetarian. I haven’t fully decided yet. But I will let you know as I go!



I’m in the midst (that’s putting it lightly, since it’s almost been a year) of recapping my trip to Europe, you can play catch up here. The first part of this post is lengthy travel troubles, feel free to scroll past to the pretty pictures!

In my last post I discussed that Paris was a complete shit show, and that’s still putting it mildly. The Budapest airport has got to be my least favorite airport of all the airports that I have ever been to. When you walk in there is no direction as to which counter you check-in at. In fact, you are not allowed to check-in until your flight is shown on a big leaderboard. And this leaderboard is not digital, it’s like the old fashion leaderboard where the letters and numbers flip when a change is made. When we first got to the airport we did not see our flight on the board, so we waited, and waited, and waited but every time the board changed our flight still wasn’t listed. It was inching closer, and closer to our boarding time, it became quite clear that our flight was delayed but no one actually communicated that. When all of the other flights leaving Budapest that evening had checked-in, there was a large group of us just waiting in haphazard lines for the airline company to check us in and tell us the gate we would be boarding. At this point at was around 9pm, and I was so over travel.

Finally check-in started, we were told that the flight was delayed by at least an hour. When we made our way to the gate we found that the gate was behind closed doors, with a sign that said– ‘once you leave this gate, you cannot come back in.’ Once boarding began we found that behind the doors was a large garage, and that is where we were boarding our flight. Well we’d actually be boarding out on the tarmac, but we scanned our tickets at this desolate desk out in an airport hangar. Bizarre, but at least we were finally boarding our flight!

Once we were in the air, the pilot came on the speaker, but it was all in French, and I couldn’t understand a single word that was said. Hopefully nothing important! We had some turbulence, which I hate, and get so nervous about. Did I mention I was just so over traveling? But then as we came in for landing I could see the lit up Eiffel Tower and I couldn’t help but smile. It almost felt surreal.

We landed and exited the plane out on the tarmac, then boarded buses to bring us to baggage claim. When we got into the airport I flipped on my wifi so that I could map how to get us to our hotel. It was then that I found out that we were at Charles de Gaulle aiport, when we were originally suppose to be landing at the southern airport, Orly. So that’s what the pilot must have been telling us!

Someone standing next to us said that there were free shuttles since we had to fly into the wrong airport. To find out more about this I talked to a customer service rep, who informed me that Orly airport closes at 12am, which is why we had to fly to Charles de Gaulle. She also told me that there were three shuttles outside, one that was going to Orly, one that was going North of the city, and one that was going into the city, which was the one she advised me to take. She advised that it would be best to shuttle into the center of the city, and just take a cab for less money since taking a cab from the airport would be at least $50+. When we got outside, we asked all the drivers which shuttle was going into the city, but they all denied that they were going into the city. By process of elimination we found the shuttle that we believed we needed to be on, except that the driver was super rude, and kept telling us it was not the right bus, that we should take a cab instead. After slight deliberation we decided to get on the shuttle anyway to see where it would take us.

At this point I was near a nervous breakdown. I was just so worried about where we were going to be dropped off. Both of our phones were dying, and I was having visions of being dropped off at a parking lot, and the driver refusing to bring us back to the airport, so we’d have to beg someone with a car to bring us home with them! Luckily this did not happen. The bus stopped, and the first thing we saw was a drugstore, but of course it was closed. And to top it off, it was raining. All we needed was wifi so that we could call an uber. We huddled underneath the yawning of the drugstore, loosely connected to their wifi with a phone battery at 7%. We called an uberpool, at the time we had no idea what that meant, but we did not care. When the driver pulled up he was dressed in a suit, and was driving a very nice car so automatically I am thinking ‘how much is this going to cost?’ Luckily uberpool just means sharing the car with others, which we didn’t have to do!

We got dropped off down the street from our hotel, so when we walked up to our hotel we found that it was closed and that the doors were locked. There was a buzzer to ring for service, so we kept ringing the damn buzzer, over, and over. I was baffled because I had no idea that hotels could close. No where on their website, or in my reservation confirmation email did it say that we needed to check-in by a certain time. It was still raining and at this point we were soaked, and locked out of our hotel. If I thought I was near a nervous breakdown before, I was wrong. This broke me. I was on my 12th day of travel, and nothing ever felt like it was going right.

We both remembered passing a Holiday Inn, so we walked down the block to look for a place to sleep for the night. The guy at the desk might be possibly be the nicest man we encountered the whole trip. We explained to him what happened and he let us use his phone to call the hotel, just in case we were missing something. He also let us charge our phones, and use their wifi. Maybe these gestures don’t seem that out of the ordinary, but at 1am, when you are in a soaked in a foreign country, locked out of your hotel, it was the grandest gesture anyone could have made. Once we realized we were not going to get into our original hotel we decided to rent a room at this Holiday Inn. Taking a shower, and climbing into that bed has never felt so good.

The next morning we checked out, and made our way back to the original hotel. When we explained what happened to the guy at the front desk he seemed baffled. He asked if we had rung the buzzer, to which we replied ‘for at least 10 minutes.’ He checked us in, and said he would call management. We didn’t spend much time in the room, because we wanted to start out adventure for the day. On our way out, the front desk manager explained to us that the night manager had fallen to sleep, and since it had gotten so late, he assumed we’re weren’t checking in. To comp us for our troubles he offered us a free breakfast, which hardly seemed fair, we insisted we wanted our Holiday Inn room paid for. He needed to talk with management, so we set out for the day.

Of course the first thing I wanted to see was the Eiffel Tower! On the way we stopped at Les Invalides which is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments all relating to the military history of France. Because we were traveling a few months after the Paris attacks there was a strong military presence all over the city, but especially at this establishment. We didn’t go inside, just walked the grounds, and continued on our way.



And after we left here, we walked a few more blocks and turned a corner and saw the Eiffel Tower. The feeling of seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time is indescribable. Much like when I was on the plane and saw the tower, all of the traveling stress that I had just experienced completely disintegrated the instant I saw the Eiffel Tower. I really didn’t think I was going to have such a strong reaction to this landmark. Prior to the trip I wasn’t that excited for Paris, it was never really on my top list of places I wanted to go. But standing there starring up at the Eiffel Tower was very surreal for me. Now get ready for a crazy amount of pictures, that will all look very similar.







Alright. Got that out of the way. I wish I could tell you that these are the only photos of the Eiffel tower, but that would be wrong. There will be more, just wait. There is a water taxi that you can buy a one day ticket for, and ride it around to all of the major sights, hopping on and off whenever. Since I am writing this post almost a year after my trip (god, I suck) I do not remember the price, but I know it was relatively affordable. Plus I love using boats as a mode of transportation!


We stopped at Notre Dame, which was beautiful. I’ve imagined seeing all of these places so many times, but when I actually saw them, it felt brand new. Does that make sense? Traveling is so surreal. We didn’t climb to the top because the lines were so crazy, but we did find a cafe with macaroons. And I found a street artist that I bought an oil painting from.





From here we hopped back on the boat taxi and went to the Louvre. Again, we didn’t go inside, partly because we were limited on time. But if I ever get back to Paris, this will be one of my first stops.






As you can see from the pictures it was already getting dark, so we decided to start heading back towards our hotel. It was New Year’s Eve, but we didn’t have much of a plan. We decided to grab some food and wine from the grocery store, warm up in our hotel, and then head back to the Eiffel Tower. I was getting so sick at this point, that I had considered staying in so that I could sleep. But who does that on New Year’s Eve, in Paris?


We had heard in past years that there were fireworks at midnight at the tower, but with the recent attacks there probably wouldn’t be. No fireworks was just fine with us, getting to be at the Eiffel Tower on New Year’s Eve is pretty much bucket list worthy. So here are a bunch more pictures of the Eiffel Tower, just now it’s dark. Feel free to skip past these. I really just couldn’t get enough!





We weren’t the only ones that decided to go to the tower at midnight, there were lots of people, and we made some friends who were American, in the military and stationed in Germany.  There was also lots of military men at the tower with their big riffles in hand. At midnight the tower lit up and a bit of a light show happened. I can’t believe I almost missed this experience because I wanted to sleep! Although I ended up being really sick after this, so sleeping probably would have been the better idea.

After midnight we went out for drinks, and I drank just enough to give me a killer hangover the next morning. It didn’t help that the hotel was still being pretty unaccommodating when it came to refunding us for the night we were locked out. Part of the problem was that we booked through Hotwire, so we needed to contact them. However Hotwire gives no refunds, ever. After this trip I can tell you that I will never be using Hotwire again. So after a lot of back and fourth, they finally refunded us the full amount. We also hadn’t secured our transportation to Amsterdam, so once we checked out of our hotel we had to decide which bus to take. It’s about an 8 hour bus ride. The bus leaving at 4pm was a lot more expensive than the overnight bus, so against my better judgement, we booked the overnight bus. You can add taking overnight buses to the list of things I will never be doing again. There is a train that goes between Paris, and Amsterdam. If you book far enough in advance, it’s not a bad price. I hope the next time I travel I will be able to afford trains!

We thought we would use the day to tour more of Paris, but I was hungover, sick, exhausted and cold. We did see a few more sights, starting with the Luxombourg Gardens, which I am sure are beautiful in the summer!


From here we went back to Notre Dame, which has a nice little park behind it, with benches to sit and enjoy the area. Since we had some time to kill, we sat for as long as we could handle the cold weather!



Once we were good and cold we ventured into a cafe to grab coffee and warm up. From here we saw the love lock bridge, which has since been taken down! I am really glad I got to see it when I did! It was a bridge that had a bazillion padlocks attached to it. The idea was that when you’re in love you buy a lock, write your name on it, lock it to the bridge, and throw away the key! It’s sad to think it’s gone, but hopefully the city will figure out a way to do something really cool with the locks!


After this I felt so wiped. Being sick while traveling is a cruel, cruel joke. Of course it was almost 4 o’clock, and I was kicking myself for not taking the earlier bus. We found a cafe to hide out at, eat dinner, charge our phones, and kill time. I know that killing time in Paris sounds ridiculous, but I was on day 13 of travel, beyond exhausted, sick, and freezing. Someday I will make it back to Paris and really explore the city!

We eventually made our way to the bus station, which was not enclosed, it was raining, and we were early so we found the nearest restaurant which just happened to be a McDonald’s. But a really fancy McDonald’s. I had a really legit salad made fresh upon order. We sat here for about an hour, waiting for the bus. However I don’t think they like people to sit there that long, because they played the same song, on repeat, for an hour. Torturous! The bus finally came, and we were finally off to Amsterdam, the last city on the 16 day European adventure!

Favorite Parts of Paris:

  • The Eiffel Tower, haha, could you tell? I think what I liked most about it is the connection to other people. It’s crazy to think about how many people and world leaders stood where I stood and saw the same tower.
  • How nice everyone was. I had previously heard that French people did not like American tourists, however I found that to be so opposite. We encountered nothing but nice people.
  • The vibe of the city. There is just something so magical about Paris. I can’t describe it, it’s just a feeling.
  • Crepes! Chocolate crepes!

Would I go there again?

  • Yes! Flights from Minneapolis to Paris are relatively cheap, so I’m really hoping to make a return to Paris, but for many more days this time!

A Month of Paleo

In the last 5 years I have lost 70 pounds, then slowly, over the last 3 years I have gained 40 of that back. Typing that is super depressing. And that weight gain is not for a lack of trying. My gym routine has never stopped. I am still going to the same awesome gym 5-6 times a week. I’ve also tried Weight Watchers (again), counting calories, counting macros, intuitive eating, etc. And while I was diligent with these approaches, I never found the same results. Or really any results.

I know how to lose weight, I’ve done it before. Losing weight was never easy, but it was never this impossible. However I’ve now gone into some uncharted territory, unintentional weight gain. And that may sound crazy. You might be thinking, yeah right, she is probably just eating junk food crap that she is not suppose to be eating. Nope.

Deep down I know something has shifted in my body that is hindering me from losing weight, and now even has me gaining weight. Awhile ago I posted about having severe, and chronic constipation. That has not gone away, despite trying everything known to man. If I had a dollar for every hour I’ve spent researching constipation, I’d have enough money to buy my own tropical island. Seriously.

Because of the constipation, and weight gain, I know that I have something internally that is not working properly. Whether it’s hormones, digestive issues, food allergies, or whatever else I have yet to come upon. I have been to a handful of doctors over the last 3 years, and most of them do not take me seriously. Why is it when you go into the doctor and say I am not pooping, and I am gaining weight, it’s not taken seriously? If I went into my doctor and said I have uncontrollable diarrhea and I’m unintentionally losing weight every month, that would be taken seriously.

In my most recent trip to the doctor she decided it was time to refer me to a Gastroenterologist to better diagnose me. My doctor said that likely they will start by putting me on an elimination diet to see if that helps any. My guess is that I will end up needing a colonoscopy.

In an effort to be proactive I decided to put myself on an elimination diet before my appt, just to help move things along. For the month of December (well, until Christmas) I have decided to follow a paleo diet, but really I am focusing on healing my gut. I’ve not been diagnosed with leaky gut, but it sure can’t hurt to be kind to my gut, can it? So the approach that I am taking is to remove foods that have a high rate of irritating people’s systems. This includes dairy, grains, legumes, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Sounds fun, right?chia-puddingThis is paleo approved chia seed pudding. Chia seeds  mixed with pumpkin and coconut milk. Topped with banana and cashews. Okay, so paleo isn’t all bad. I just gotta be creative, and search all the paleo hashtags on instagram!

In addition to excluding things from my diet, I am adding in foods that help to heal the gut. These include bone broths, coconut products, and fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.

I will be posting a few of my meals on instagram, just to show what I’m eating, and to show that paleo is easier than you think. I am not a chef, and I hate spending hours in the kitchen. I hate recipes with too many ingredients, so in order to do this for a month, I’ve been needing to keep everything simple!


Oh, America

Yesterday was a really hard day. I cried more than I ever thought I could about politics. Although electing the new president is far more than politics for me. It’s less about the man representing our country, and more about what is represented by so many people voting for him. Whether they voted for him because they liked him personally, or because they voted for the platform, I am just so disappointed in the American people.

What I thought I loved about this country was the ability to welcome people from all walks of life. But yesterday that love was smashed. Tightening borders and building a wall isn’t welcoming. Deporting children’s parents is volatile. I choose to live in a city that embraces diversity. In fact, my city just elected the first Somali American lawmaker, oh, and she is a female!

I interact with people of different skin colors every single day, and I wouldn’t and couldn’t have it any other way. I refuse to judge someone by their skin color, religion, gender, sexuality, background, or any other thing that makes them different from me.  And this past Tuesday, America elected a man that does just that. When I look at the polling maps, the majority of the places that voted for Donald are places with large white populations. How can they hate people with differences so much when they don’t even interact with them? It’s just obscene and disheartening.

Now more than ever it’s very sad to be a woman. Not just because an extremely qualified candidate wasn’t elected to be the first female leader, but more so because the man that was elected thinks of women as lesser than he. Donald has supporters who would like to repeal the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Did I go to sleep and wake up in 1919? I’m just so confused.

So to recap who America just elected as President, I have compiled some clips of things he has said, and done. Warning: this was hard enough for me to research, and write, so if you still don’t want to see Donald’s face, then I wouldn’t click on the links.

Half of America voted for a man who has no experience in politics. Would you hire a football player to perform open heart surgery? Probably not. You also probably wouldn’t hire a reality television star like Kim Kardashian to lead the military. Oh wait, yes, apparently, you would.

Half of America voted for a man who thinks grabbing women by the pussy without permission is an acceptable practice just becasue he is famous. This perpetuates rape culture on such an unacceptable level. He has proven on many occasions that he only views woman as objects, and worthy of respect only if they are a 10 on the beauty scale. I don’t have children yet, but I just wouldn’t know how to explain this to them.

Half of America voted for a man who thinks it’s okay to mock and make fun of disabled people.

Half of America voted for a man who was endorsed by the Klu Klux Klan. Let that sink in for a minute. The fact that the KKK is still an operating organization is repugnant.

Half of America voted for a man who believes the large majority of Mexican Americans are bad men hombres, rapists, bringing crime and drugs. Mexicans aren’t the ones I’m scared of being raped by; rich, powerful white men who grab women by the pussy and can still be world leaders pose a bigger threat to me. Oh wait, actually he probably wouldn’t touch me because I am not attractive enough.

Half of America voted for a man who believed John McCain, a war hero, was weak for being captured. I am extremely liberal, and even I respect John McCain more than Donald does. Should he really be running our military? Will he turn his back on POWs?

Half of America voted for a man who chose a running mate who believes the gay population should receive shock therapy.

Half of America voted for a man who wakes up in the middle of the night to cyber bully a Miss Universe contestant, oh, but don’t worry, his wife has pledged to stop cyber bullying…..

Half of America voted for a man who wants to defund a clinic that works so hard for women (and men). Planned Parenthood is near and dear to my heart, not because I have had an abortion (although I shouldn’t have to clarify that), but because they provided me with my yearly exams when I was too broke to go anywhere else. I don’t know what I would have done without this organization, and I plan to work hard to keep this place in business.

I could go on, and on but I’ve read and watched enough articles for today. I cannot listen to him any longer. I am really not sure how I am going to handle the next 4 years, but I plan on doing so with optimism, kindness, and empathy. I am not rooting for him to fail, after all, I do live here. I very much hope he succeeds and has a successful presidency. I just hope he does so without harming the many minority groups that I fear he will tear apart.

I cannot call him my president, because to me, he never will be. I’m sorry if that is unamerican, but everything he stands for is unamerican to me. I’m not pouting because my candidate didn’t win, I’ve not agreed with everything all of the past presidents have done, but I still stand by them. Bill Clinton was my president. George Bush was my president. Barack Obama was my president (can’t he just stay forever). But Donald Trump is not my president.

**I hope this doesn’t spark mean, or rude comments. I wrote this because I needed to. Writing is my therapy, and to move on with life, I needed to write this down. I have not used insults throughout this entire post, I have not called him crooked, or orange. I have used his name, and linked actual videos of him. I have not slung insults at his supporters, so please be kind when reading. If you unfollow, that’s okay.



I’m in the midst of recapping my trip to Europe, you can play catch up here.

I only have 3 more countries to recap, so if I try really hard, maybe, just maybe I can finish recapping all the trips before the year ends! It’s almost been a full year since I took the trip, so I’m reallllllly staying on top of this whole thing…..

In my last post I discussed traveling around Vienna, and I mentioned that getting train tickets to Budapest was super easy, and it was. We asked the lady working behind the desk for help, and she told us to just buy a general ticket, and that the train runs every hour, so you could chose your time. What she failed to mention was that you should reserve a seat. Since we didn’t know to do this we spent the 3 hour train ride to Budapest being bumped from seat to seat. None of the seats said if they had been reserved, so every stop we made, there was a chance of someone getting on, and kicking you out of their seat, which happened a lot. My travel partner and I did not sit together for most of the trip, but in the last 40 minutes we managed to get a spot next to each other, so we cracked open some wine and enjoyed the ride. Even though I felt the train was disorganized, taking a train was far superior to the bus. After going on this trip I have vowed to myself that I must make enough money in life so that I can always take a train over the bus.

We arrived in Budapest after dark but luckily we already had a hotel booked. We hopped from one train to the next; I found transportation in Budapest to be very easy to use. They had uber, and a great train system. The train was underground, so when we came up the stairs, the first thing we saw was the Liberty Bridge. libertybridge

During this time I was kinda reaching my travel threshold (like most of the trip), and all I wanted to do was shower. The hotel in Vienna just felt dirty to me, so I couldn’t bring myself to shower and use the bathroom. Our hotel in Budapest was lovely, and the shower rejuvenated me. We were spending three nights in Budapest, so we had no plans for the night, we weren’t in a hurry, so getting to just bum around for the night was exactly what I needed.

Across the street from our hotel was a place called Cafe Frei. I will never be able to put into words how much I loved Cafe Frei. They feature coffee drinks from all over the world, each page had a theme; Italian, Latino, French, etc. And probably the best part were the prices. The exchange rate in Hungary is fantastic, everything was so cheap. For a fancy cup of coffee, plus tiramisu, my total was around $4.


After leisurely drinking coffee, we decided to find a place to grab dinner. Once again I’m going to tell you that trying to decide where to eat when there are more than two of you is quite a challenge. We ended up at an Italian restaurant which was delicious, and affordable. I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt for ordering wine with dinner. After that we went to another pub for beer. While there we tried a tomato based Hungarian stew, and it was everything.  I quickly learned that Hungarian cuisine was my favorite of all the countries we had visited.

After having a few more beers we headed back to our hotel to crash for the night. I crashed, and I crashed hard. The next morning we went back to Cafe Frei for breakfast (yes, it really was that good), and then packed up to go to our Air B’n’B. We booked two nights in an apartment, and made sure that it had a washing machine so that I could do my laundry. We took a 10 minute uber ride to the apartment, and our driver was just the best. If I could have had him as my driver for my whole stay that would have been great.

Since we had nearly 3 days to spend in Budapest we didn’t feel the need to rush around. We were going to spend the day relaxing, and visiting the baths. Anyone who has ever been to Budapest will tell you that you must visit the thermal baths, and they weren’t wrong. We visited Szechenyi Bath, which is the largest medicinal bath in Europe. When you read medicinal bath, this means that the thermal water has minerals such as calcium and magnesium (and many others) that is suppose to be good for your joint health and general well being!

This couldn’t have come at a better time. Most of the trip I felt like a cold was coming on, my immune system just felt super low. I think this was just due to lack of sleep, lack of water, and traveling on planes, trains, and automobiles buses where germs are easily spread. But Budapest was such a healing place for me. Partly because we weren’t rushing around, and partly because we were able to spend time relaxing in the baths. It’s hard to explain what exactly the baths were, and I didn’t get any pictures because you leave your belongings in a locker. It was basically a big, warm pool, with a building surrounding it, so no one on the street can see in. I don’t remember exact pricing, but you pay for like an hour of time in the facility, and you can bop between the baths, and the sauna, which of course we did. I left feeling so rejuvenated.

On our walk home we stopped to watch ice skaters in the city park, Varosligeti Mujegpalya. This was also near Hosok Tere, which is a major landmark in Budapest.


After we walked home we searched for places to eat that were near us, and we ended up finding an Indian restaurant with fantastic reviews. Though a part of me hated not eating traditional Hungarian food, I will admit that the Indian restaurant was probably the best Indian I’ve ever had. After dinner we stopped to pick up some wine (yes, I had a drink every single day of this trip, judge all you want), and go back to crash. The bed in this apartment was probably the most uncomfortable thing I have ever slept on. I think the floor would have been better. On top of that, the apartment itself smelled like mildew. But remember how I said we booked this for the washing machine? Well Hungarian washing machines are terribly confusing, and I couldn’t figure out how in the hell this thing worked. There were no words, just icons, but icons that made no sense. I googled, and googled, and watched videos, and had no luck. Then I decided to do a trial run with towels instead of my own clothes which was a really good idea since they came out sopping wet. So I had no luck on the laundry front, but needed to wash my clothes, so I washed them all in the sink and hung them out to dry. The one positive thing they had were heated towel dryers, so I could speed up the drying time!

The next morning we set out to meet a fellow traveler, my friend’s friend who happened to be making a stop in Budapest on his way to Berlin. We met him at a cafe for lunch, and I had traditional Hungarian goulash, which was house made noodles, with a beef simmered in a tomato base smothered over the noodles. It was so, so good. I had a spiked coffee with my meal, and my total was still under $10. After lunch we decided to do a boat tour, because 1) I love boats. 2) Budapest is separated by water, technically one side is Buda, and the other side is Pest, so it made sense to see the city in this way. 3) For $13 you got a boat ride, with a guided tour, and a free drink. The only downfall was that you are sitting inside, so you couldn’t get the best pictures, but that was okay by me, because I learned so much about Budapest by listening to the tour.



As I mentioned, before they merged, the Danube river split Buda from Pest. Buda is the hilly side, that sits up on the hill. So in any photo that is pointing up, that’s Buda, but if it’s pointing down or on even ground, that is overlooking Pest. After the boat ride, we crossed the change bridge from Pest, to walk up to a scenic overlook in Buda.








Looking at these pictures still takes my breath away. It also really makes me want to travel back to Budapest. Prior to my trip the place people talked about the most was Budapest, everyone kept telling me how much I was going to love it. And I really did. However I can’t fully explain why. It’s just a feeling you get while there. Everyone should go at some point in their life!

To end the night we went to a ruin pub. One of the weirdest, saddest, but coolest parts about Budapest was the ruin pubs. You would be walking down a street and see a pristine, beautiful building, and right next to it would be a broken down, abandoned mansion. Years ago people started fixing these buildings up to be clubs, and bars. We went to the most well known place, Szimpla Kert. Of course my camera had died, so I have zero pictures, but it would have actually been super hard to adequately capture the experience. I linked a google image search of the place to give a better idea. We had dinner here, but there were so many rooms and places to go. There was a smoking room, a wine room, a beer bar, etc. Definitely a must see if you ever go!

The next day was our last day, but we didn’t fly out until like 9pm so we had most of the day to say goodbye to Budapest. We decided to walk over to the Parliament building, and I learned on my boat tour that it is the third largest Parliament building in the world.




After Parliament, we had our last Hungarian meal, and packed up. Yet again I am going to stress how cheap everything was. I had a stew, with a fancy coffee drink, followed by creme brulee, and my total was around ten dollars. And the quality of everything was always superb!


We got an uber to take us to the airport, which was super stressful. The airport was a long drive out of town. Our driver did not speak any English (not that he needed to, after all I was the foreigner), but he couldn’t understand where we were trying to go. I typed in airport to google maps, and where it brought us was an old, deserted airport. We stayed in the car, and tried to map it again. Thankfully we found the correct airport, and we were off on our next adventure, Paris. Which was a complete and utter shit show! Stay tuned!

Favorite Parts of Budapest:

  • Transportation was a breeze. Easy trains, loved having access to uber.
  • The food. I know I say that for every post, but Hungarian cuisine was definitely my favorite, especially since it was winter, a warm stew was just the best!
  • How inexpensive everything was, I never felt an ounce of guilt for buying anything. They also accept the euro or their own currency, forint. This was nice because we didn’t have to take out a bunch of forint, we could just use the euro we already had.
  • The scenery. Everything was so beautiful. And the preservation and creativity within the ruin pubs was so outstanding.
  • Cafe Frei, because it deserves it’s own bullet point.

Would I go there again?

  • Absolutely! I look at airfare to Budapest almost weekly. I would love to go in the fall or spring.

I Completed a Triathlon!

Remember when I posted about training for triathlon? And I talked about how much I really hated it? Wellll I did it! I have now completed that triathlon (instead of Nadine, I would now like to be referred to as Triathlete) and I feel so accomplished. You know that feeling you get when you set your mind to something and then you complete it? I had a similar feeling when I graduated college. I’m kind of a quitter at most things, so I don’t get this feeling all that often. Okay, I’m not so much a quitter, as I am a not-start-it-in-the-first-placer.

The triathlon is example number one. I had thought about doing it for the last five years, and this was the first year I signed up. And I didn’t quit, I completed it, in 2 hours and 17 minutes. Which may sound like a huge accomplishment, but it’s actually kind of slow in comparison to others. But I hate comparing myself to others, and I’m not competitive, so I am going to bask in the glory of completing a triathlon, and not worry about anything else.

So now let’s just do a quick rundown of the the 24 hours that was the triathlon:

Saturday Night:

9:00pm- Already laying in bed since I set my alarm for 5:00am to get to the race by 5:30. P.S. How did I not know that races required such an early check-in time? We had to get all situated from 5:30am-7:30am, race started at 8am, but they highly suggested being ther by 5:30am to avoid long lines.

11:00pm-Still wide awake. Tossing and turning, and thinking, if I fall asleep now, I will get 6 hours of sleep.

12:00am- Gave up on trying to sleep, flip on netflix and hope for the best.

12:58am- The last time I glanced at my clock, so I’m thinking I fell asleep around 1.

5:00am- alarm goes off, silently, and does not wake me up.

5:38am- I roll over in bed, wondering how much longer I can sleep–OH SHIT, I was already suppose to be at the race! I spring out of bed, and got ready at lightning speed, luckily I packed the night before. Talk about fucking adrenaline. I can’t tell you the last time I overslept.

6:00am- I wrestled my bike into the car, and off I went.

6:20am- I find a parking spot, and saunter my way through the park, and over to the race. I walk with another girl who felt exactly the way I did- I don’t care about my race time, I just want to finish.

6:40am- I drop off my bike in the transition area, and get in line to be painted on. They use a permanent marker to mark you with your race number, as well as your age, and wave number.

7:00am- Eat a Clif bar, and finish setting up my things in the transition  area. After you get out of the water, you run back to your transition area, and try to get dressed and on your bike as fast as possible. The very serious racers set up their socks in their tennis shoes so it makes for a shorter transition time.transition

7:45am- The national anthem is sung, and they give a brief welcome announcement.

8:00am- The horn is fired and the elite athletes begin! I was in wave 6 or 8 (I can’t remember anymore), which I am really thankful for because I had so many nerves, I wouldn’t have had the patience to wait any longer to get in the water!

8:12am- Run into the water, and begin to swim along with the crowd.

8:13am- Already feeling so overwhelmed, not because of the physical act of swimming but becasue of how many people are swimming around me. People warned me that swimming with others was challenging but I was not prepared. I didn’t even feel like I could properly swim because so many people were around me. I got kicked, grabbed, and splashed so many times. I swam with my head above water, so I got water splashed in my nose and mouth the whole time. It felt like we were filming a scene in the Titanic! The hardest part of the swimming was calming myself down so that I didn’t have a panic attack.

8:28am- My feet hit sand and I make my way out of the water. When you exit the water there are a ton of people standing there cheering for you. Most people run from the water to the transition area, so the cheering helps amp you up. I walked instead, because I was just trying to calm myself down!

8:29am- I reach my transition area, I take off my swim suit top (I wore my sports bra in the water, underneath my swim suit top), and throw on my gym shirt. Then I try to dry off my legs as much as possible so that I can get my long, stretchy gym pants on. I put them on over my swim suit bottoms, then I untied my bottoms and tried to slip them off. This was not easy, and I looked ridiculous, but I knew I didn’t want to ride and run with wet swim suit bottoms.

8:38am- I grab a handful of gummy bears (for energy), strap on my helmet, and set out out for the bike ride. This was the part of the race I was most looking forward to. I really enjoy biking, however I found out that biking for pleasure and biking in a race are two different things.


8:58am- I am already sick of being on my bike. There were more hills than I thought there would be, and I was getting passed left and right! My bike is not a road bike, it has big tires, so to build up any kind of speed I really had to work my legs. The only good part of getting passed was how many people cheer you on! A lot of people would pass me and give such sweet words of encouragement. “You’re doing so awesome, keep going!”

9:40am- My bike ride is over, and I’ve never been so happy to get off my damn bike! I station my bike back in the transition area, grab more gummy bears and set out for the run.

9:41am- Holy moly do my legs feel heavy. Leading up to the triathlon I had done a ton of practice transitioning between biking and running, but during the actual race my legs felt so heavy, and sore. I walked for most of the first mile. And I didn’t feel any sort of shame or embarrassment. Lots of the women were taking walk breaks! The rest of the time I did a mix of walking and running.

10:18am- I can see and hear the finish line, but it was still a ways out. I was walking, and a lady looked at me from the sidelines and said “you can do this, you can run to that finish line!” And that’s exactly what I did. I sprinted to the finish line with joy!

10:21am- I cross the finish line and a huge wave of accomplishment washes over me! The announcer says: “Congratulations Nadine, now you never have to run again–wait a minute, that’s not right, you should want to run again!” When you register for the race they ask what you want them to say at the finish line, and I listed ‘you never have to run again,’ and I really meant it.

10:22am- I find my friend, who finished long before I did. We make our way to the food stations, and then just sit in the grass, basking in the glory of finishing a race.

10:30am- I grab all my stuff and head home. This photo looks terrible; bad lighting, bad exposure, I look disheveled, but I don’t care, because I earned this picture!


11:00am- I get home and have no idea what to do with myself. I want to shower, but I also just want to sit down. I also want to celebrate, but know that I should stretch and foam roll so that I’m not deathly sore.

11:30am- I’ve showered, I’ve sat, and now I’m ready to meet my friends for brunch.  But how do I get there? I don’t want to drive since I know that I will be having a drink with breakfast, so I could uber, but I’m kinda cheap and would rather spend that money on a drink! But do I really want to bike, my legs are already sore? Well the thrifty side of me won out, and I decided to bike. It actually wasn’t bad. I live less than a mile from the place, and I just rode super slow. Since my race numbers were written on with permanent marker, I couldn’t fully scrub the off, so I spent the rest of the day looking like a weirdo with big black numbers on me!

12:30pm- Eating from a brunch buffet, washing it down with bottomless mimosas at Coup d’Etat in Uptown Minneapolis.

3:00pm- Lost count of how many mimosas I’ve had, but so blissfully happy and truly just enjoying the day. I’m not one to partake in Sunday funday, but just getting to hang out with friends, drink, and enjoy the sunlight without any sort of schedule felt so incredible.

3:30pm- Moved the Sunday funday to Muddy Waters and enjoyed more food, drink and company!

9:00pm- I finally biked home, and I am tucked into bed. I am exhausted, but so fulfilled.

And there you have it! My experience with a triathlon, probably more boozing than most people!

A lot of people ask me if I would do it again, and I really don’t know. Maybe? Training was awful, I just hate running. And I only half-assed trained, so I can’t imagine how much I would hate real training.

But I loved race day. The energy, the encouragement, the accomplishment. So at this time, I am not sold on signing up, although it’s nice to know I can complete the race with only minimal training. But if I lost more weight, I think it’d be interesting to see if I had any time differences, kinda compete against myself. Or if a friend wanted to sign up, then maybe I would. Who knows, maybe this time next year I will be writing a post on completing my second triathlon, or maybe I will be writing a post on how to train to complete a successful Sunday funday! Because that’s the training I’d like to do!