It’s almost Christmas! Happy Christmas Eve. As the year begins to a close I’m reminiscing on my favorite things and these are my two favorite recipes we make every Christmas that I always enjoy.
Before my grandmother passed away, she always baked Jan Hagel Cookies. I was curious of the origin of the cookies and I looked them on. They are Dutch holiday cookies that are essentially their version of Christmas sugar cookies. For a while we were using online recipes to make them, but they weren’t as good as my grandmother’s version and then we found her original recipe. I’m posting the recipe online so that you may try them, but also in case we misplace it again, we have it forever on the internet.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg yoke
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 cup of slivered almonds
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 egg white (slightly beaten)
- Mix butter, sugar and egg yoke together
- In a seperate bowl, add flour and cinnamon together and sift so they are mixed together
- Add all together and mix until throughly mixe
- Place wax paper on 2 cookie sheets
- Divide the dough in half onto the cookie sheets
- Place the palm of your hand onto the dough and flatten out to the end of the cookie sheets – the dough should be very thin.
- Spread egg white on top of the dough (this is what makes the slivered almonds stick to the dough)
- Place slivered almonds on top of the dough
- Bake at 300 degrees F for 1/2 hour
- Check to make sure cookies are crisp and fully baked. Add more time if necessary
- Once you pull them out of the oven, cut them right away. Jan Hagels are rectangular cookies.
- Let cool and then enjoy!
Another recipe that we always make are Molasses cookies. I love these cookies and I eat a lot of them that it’s probably really unhealthy. This recipe requires a lot of time so make sure you plan ahead because the dough needs to set for 3 hours until you can bake it.
- 9 oz. (2 cupes) all purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/4 tsp. groud ginger
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground clover
- 1/2 tsp. table salt
- 1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) unsaled butter, softened
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tbs. vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1 large egg
- Granulated sugar for rolling
- Remember you need to let the dough set for 3 hours before baking
- In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt
- In an electric mixer, beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy
- Add oil into the blender
- Scrape the bowl
- Add the egg and beat until blender
- Stir in the flour mixture until well combined
- Wrap the dough in plastic and chill until firm (around 3 hours)
- Heat oven 375 degrees F
- Lightly great baking sehats
- Measure the dough into tablespoon-size pieces and roll between your palms to form 1-inch balls
- Roll the balls in the granulate sugar to coat
- Place the balls on the baking sheet 2 inches apart
- Bake until center surface of the cookies is barely dry (9 to 10 minutes)
- Let them cool for 5 minutes
Hope you get to try these recipes out and if you do, please let me know if you enjoyed them!
I know traveling is really stressful. Especially traveling during the holidays. You’re stressed you won’t make your connections, you’re stressed because you’re flying with kids. You’re stressed because you’re going to see family who you don’t get along with, the list goes on and on.
We get it, as flight attendants, we have seen everything. I mean that, we have seen everything. We’ve also experienced everything. Yelling at us that you are going to get us fired, telling us we are stupid, telling me I’m fat. I’ve heard it all. So to reduce your stress and mine, here are 3 asks I have before you come to the airplane.
- Make sure you are seated together.
- Did you know if you purchase your tickets through a third party vendor like Expedia and Orbitz it is not the responsibility of the Airline to ensure you are seated together? If you read the fine print when you are purchasing it from Orbitz, it essentially says that Orbitz can’t guarantee that your seat preference will be fulfilled by the airline. This is because by the time Orbitz or Expedia sends your information to the airline, someone could’ve already purchased the seats that you had requested off the airlines website. This means you are not sitting together when you check in. This is not the airlines fault, not the Customer Service Agents fault and not the Flight Attendant’s fault.
- Be Nice
- You’ve gotten to the airport, you’re not seated together and you are annoyed. Yelling at the Customer Service Agent (the person at the counter) is not going to help you. I tell my friends this all the time, if you are nice to the CSA’s, they will be more willing to help you out.
- Be nice to your flight attendants. I know you think we are annoying when we ask you to raise your seat up and put away your tray table but its for good reason (I’m doing a post later about that). Please remember that while you are flying to visit your family and loved ones over the holidays, your flight attendants and pilots are away from theirs. We know this is part of the job, we understand that, but it makes it harder to away from our families when people are constantly yelling at us. I often think to myself “I’m missing Christmas with my family so this guy can yell at me over something that I have no control over.” It doesn’t really create Christmas spirit when you’re being mean does it?
- Download Apps and entertainment ahead of time.
- Please, for your sake and for ours, have all your entertainment gadgets and toys prepped ahead of time. Sometimes the WiFi is spotty, sometimes the in-flight movie tablets don’t work. Most airlines now provide a free movie streaming service as long as you download their app GoGo Entertainment. I suggest you download this app while you are still at home and have solid WiFi service. Additionally, Netflix now has downloading available for some of their movies. By having these already prepped and ready to go before you board the flight, you’ll be a lot happier and less stressed trying to download the last minute at the airport.
These are a few things I ask that you think about before you head to the airport. Friendly reminder to give yourself plenty of time to get through security (also not our fault if TSA is slow, that’s a whole separate organization). Any advice you have for your fellow travelers? Let me know!
2018 was a great year for films. We had movies with huge diverse casts that were not only successful but also got slated for sequels. We had crazy rollercoaster rides (I’m looking at you Avengers: Infinity War. I haven’t recovered from Infinity War.
My two favorite movies this year were Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians. I saw both of them multiple times in the movie theater and I didn’t even feel bad about spending that much money.
Not only were these really good movies, but they had some awesome soundtracks that were chosen to add an additional level to the movies.
Here are my four favorite soundtracks that were released in 2018. I have to say, disclaimer wise, I haven’t seen Fifty Shades Freed, it just has an awesome soundtrack. My favorite album that I’ve been waiting for is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I first saw the play in 2016 and knew that the music, written by Imogen Heap, was beautifully written and I waited 2 years for it to be released. This album is amazing and I have never been so excited for this album to be released than when it was released earlier this year.
What’s your favorite album that was released this year?
I hope by now you’ve already bought your tree and decorated it. My favorite part of Christmas is decorating the tree. I’ve gotten into this tradition that wherever I go, somewhere new, I buy an ornament from that place. The ornament either has the city written on it, or something related to the city. This reminds me of everywhere I go, and it always brings back memories of my trips.
Some of my favorite ornaments I bought when I was abroad and I hope that even when I move, I am able to keep them.
However, for those late people (because life gets in the way sometimes right?) here are some of my favorite travel related ornaments.
4. This one can be personalized!
Do you have any ornament traditions or is it just me? Probably just me.
So two years ago (I can’t believe it’s been two years already) I backpacked across Europe. This was the most terrifying and exhilarating thing I have ever done, except when I went skydiving, that was pretty awesome. Here are some of the most important things I took with me on trip.
- I spent a good 8 months researching the best backpack. I knew right away I wanted a front loader bag (as opposed to a traditional hiking backpack which is a top loader). I ended up purchases the Osprey Fairpoint 40 but in hindsight I wish I had purchased the Osprey Fairview 55. The reason I would make the switch is because there’s a detachable backpack on the Osprey and it would’ve made carrying my necessities a lot easier. I would’ve just been able to hook it up as one while I walked around and when I would fly, I could detach the backpack so it would make the backpack carry-on regulation. Instead I walked around with my backpack and a side purse which was fine, but was cumbersome. However, I love my backpack and it is a really well made backpack. I chose Osprey and purchased it through REI because Osprey has a great reputation and REI has a wonderful return policy.
- Tide Sink Packets – I left for Europe in September and was gone until December. These tide sink packets were a lifesaver. Sometimes I would make sure the hostel I booked had a washing machine, but this isn’t always the case and so I did a lot of my laundry in the hostel sink and would hang my clothes around my bed. This probably looked weird, but as soon as I introduced myself as an American I assumed everyone would forgive it.
- Towel – Packing a towel isn’t necessary as most hostels will provide towels for a small extra fee or the AirBnB will have one. For me, I wanted to bring my own towel. I decided to buy a microfiber fast drying towel. This towel is lightweight, takes up very little space and is indeed fast drying. I also liked having it because I would hang it up around my bed in the hostel and it created a little privacy for me. My sister’s have also used this towel for when they traveled and said it was so handy to have their own towel.
- Money Belt – I know a lot of people don’t use this, but I am a big believer of having a money belt. Especially because I was traveling by myself, I felt more secure knowing I was sleeping on my money and passport. I wore this everywhere I went, especially when I was in bus stations and train stations as these are some of the places that pickpocketes target. My advice is just be careful and research where you are going. When I went to Madrid, I was extra vigilant because I know many friends who have had their things stolen while they were there.
- PowerCube – So when I backpacked I only carried my camera and my iPhone and extra backup battery. I didn’t bring anything else with me, but I wanted to make sure all my electronics were fully charged every night. I purchased this PowerCube as it is a travel adapter and allows you to charge multiple things at once.
- Lock – I purchased this lock for my backpack when I checked it for my bus rides but it was also used for my locker in the hostel. While the hostel will have locks for rental, if you want to save a little money, purchase your own and bring it with you. This lock is approved by the TSA as well.
- Toiletry Bag – I bought this toiletry bag because I didn’t want my shampoo to explode and get all my clothes ruined. Additionally, I liked that it is small so it makes me be more efficient with what I packed. I also liked that it was clear so I could easily see my products and I didn’t have to dump it out every time to find something.
Are there any travel necesseties you think I missed? Let me know in the comments below.
Only 8 days till Christmas? That’s crazy! I’m already pretty much done with Christmas present shopping and I’ve finished wrapping all of them. I’m a really bad wrapper, I just can’t get the corners to fold down perfectly. My sister is really good at wrapping presents and making the perfect bow, it makes me slightly jealous she’s so good at it.
One thing I’m constantly asked as a flight attendant is “what is your favorite layover?” This is a hard question because it really depends on the time of year, my mood and the weather. However, there are 8 layovers that are some of my favorites no matter the time of year or the weather.
Here are my 8 favorite layovers (in no particular order).
- Juneau, Alaska
- I love Juneau. Alaska is a hidden gem that I always tell my friends and family to go and see at least once in their life. I know it seems so far away, especially from the East Coast, but definitely come check out this hidden gem.
- Maui, Hawaii
- Who doesn’t love a good weekend in Hawaii? I love Maui and as I have more layovers here, I fall in love even more with Hawaii. The island life helps me recharge and it actually feels like a vacation for me even if I’m only away for 24 hours.
- Portland, OR
- I love Portland layovers because stay three blocks away from Powells. Powells bookstore is a readers dream. I always have to tell myself I’m only allowed to spend $25 when I’m in Powells because I can spend way too much there. Powells is the largest independent bookstore on the West Coast that has both new and used books. If you ever go to Portland, this is a must place to stop at.
- Boston, MA
- I love Boston layovers because of the hotel. We stay in two different hotels and I like both of them. One of the hotels provides breakfast which I why I like that hotel. The other hotel is near Boston Commons which is central to most everything I like in Boston. If you’re ever there in the summer, go to a Boston Red Sox game because Fenway is an amazing baseball park you have to experience.
- Orlando, FL
- I didn’t start flying to Orlando until April of this year, but since then I’ve been there 8 times this year. I love the warmth of Orlando and that we are so close to Disney Springs. Whenever I layover here, I walk to Disney Springs and spend hours just perusing and window shopping. It’s a fun experience for someone who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money but wants to go out and enjoy the outside.
- New York, NY
- There is always so much to do and see in New York that even layover is different and fun. I have a few good friends who live in New York so if I go out there, I try to see them while also throwing in a show or two to see. The last time I was in New York I got tickets to see Late Night with Stephen Colbert. Download the 1iota app and you can get tickets to see shows for free (but often you have to plan ahead for this).
- Philadelphia, PA
- I love Philadelphia for the history. The first layover I had I went and toured Independence Hall and I literally geeked out over how much history was there. I tend to get really over emotional about history and I almost cried because I was so excited.
- Minneapolis, MN
- Minneapolis layovers have a special place in my heart because of all my college friends who still live there. I used to pick them up pretty regularly to see them but lately I’ve had to switch my schedule around and I haven’t made it out there are much as I would like. We stay right near the Mall of America so I always go shopping there whenever I get the chance because no sales tax is a thing I take advantage of.
What are some of your favorite places to vacation?
When I first started my job as a flight attendant I would pack my laptop with me wherever I went. I ended up realizing that I rarely needed it because I am able to do so much on my phone. My laptop also took up a lot of room in suitcase and made it heavier. If you stop and think about it, it is quite impressive how our cell phones have advanced so much that we carry a miniature laptop with us everywhere we go.
I pretty much do everything on my phone. When I backpacked across Europe, all I carried was my phone, so I’ve become pretty self-sufficient on it. I pay my bills, answer emails and even book most of my trips on my phone. I only use my laptop if I want to compare different prices of hotels, hostels etc.
I often tell people these are the best apps you need so I thought, why not write a blog post about it! I’m going to break down the apps by their category and their price.
- Maps.me is a great app to download if you are traveling somewhere where you won’t have data. You can download cities via WiFi and it’ll work on Airplane Mode to give you directions. I advise that you download the cities ahead of time before going to Europe as the WiFi may be spotty. (Free)
- Rome2Rio – This app allows you to put in the destination you are trying to get to and it’ll give you all the travel options on how to get there and the cost of it. (Free)
- GoEuro – This app is the same as Rome2Rio but I use both to compare prices and purchase the cheapest one. (Free)
- GateGuru – Run by Trip Advisor, this app will tell you security wait times, gate changes and other information all in one app. (Free)
- WhatsApp or Viber – These are messaging apps that allow you to message while abroad. Most people have iPhones now and you can message via WiFi, but for the few who have androids, this allows you to text them while you’re abroad all over WiFi. (Free or $1.00)
- Hopper (or Kayak) – This app allows you to enter a date and destination and it’ll notify you when the flight prices are the cheapest. (Free)
- XE Currency – This app is super helpful if you’re traveling abroad. The app allows you to add multiple different currencies so you can compare all the exchange rates. (Free)
- Google Trips – This app only works if you use gmail.com as your email for your travel. However if you do, this app is so helpful. It loads all your reservations and itineraries in the app so you don’t have to go hunting through your email inbox to try and find the information. If you don’t have gmail, I suggest you get one just for your travels because this app is really helpful if you are taking multiple flights, renting cars, booking tours etc. (free)
- Grab – This app is still being rolled out but for most major airports this should be available. If you’re in a rush, or don’t want to wait in line, you can order your food via this app and pick it up at any airport restaurant that participates. (Free)
Any apps you think are a must have for traveling? Let me know below!
I always look forward to new albums being dropped and discovering new music, but I tend to listen to the same music. I’m hoping to branch out a little more next year but here are some of my favorite artists who are dropping (or it is anticipated that they are releasing) an album in 2019.
- The Lion King Soundtrack
- Telekinesis – Eufflxion
- The 1975 – Notes on a Conditional Form
- Rocketman Soundtrack
- Meghan Trainer – Treat Myself
- Backstreet Boys – DNA
- Jessie J – I Love UK
- Lana Del Ray – Norman Fucking Rockwell
- Pedro the Lion – Phoenix
- Switchfoot – Native Tongue
Any albums being released in 2019 that you are excited for? Let me know!
As someone who’s job is hanging out in airports, I consider myself an expert when it comes to airports. Additionally, I’ve slept on a few airport floors (this was pre-flight attendant life) and I’ve gone through many different international airports. All of this makes me (in my opinion) fully knowledgeable on what makes a good airport. However I’m only ranking the airports I’ve been to, so this excludes all of Asian and South American’s airports. I’m basing my criteria on a few things:
- Food options
- Seating availability
- Charging availability
- Varity of shopping options
Delays, cancellations and other issues that may arise when traveling are not a factor in my decision as these are not the airports fault. My rankings are below and I explain why I gave each airport the ranking I did.
- Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
- This is by far the best international airport that I have experienced. I’ve flown through Amsterdam three times, once going through Europe and twice flying back to the United States. Each time, it has been such a breeze. Customs going into Amsterdam is easy and fast. Once you’re at the main terminal, the signage is easy to understand. Additionally, if you are like me and you’re not using cell data, they have free WiFi available and free computers to use (I believe there is a time limit on computer use). Lots of food options and duty free shopping as well. Give yourself extra time to get through security flying out of Amsterdam as they have an extra layer of screenings flying out of Amsterdam.
- London Heathrow
- London Heathrow’s airport is a experience. Especially if you fly out of British Airway’s terminal 5 this is an experience. I’ve flown out of Terminal 5 twice, once in 2016 and earlier this year. The terminal is a newer terminal for Heathrow and it shows. I forget I’m in an airport as the terminal is more of a shopping and food destination then a waiting area. If you forget any last minute gifts to bring home, never fear, you’ll be able to get them here and plenty more. Seating was not an issue, surprisingly, neither were finding charging outlets. If it wasn’t so expensive to fly out of, I would fly out of Heathrow more often.
- Dublin Airport
- The reason why I love the Dublin Airport is because you can now go through U.S. Customs while in Dublin. This makes traveling back to the U.S. so seamless and faster that this puts Dublin at #3 on the list for me. The airport itself is really nice and easy to navigate. The signage is good and the employees are friendly. If flying into Dublin Airport, there are various different ways to get into the city without needing to take an expensive taxi. There’s also plenty of shops and food options available in the airport.
- Portland (OR) International Airport
- I love, love, love Portland’s airport. The airport is relatively small, but has all the amenities you want in an airport. If you are flying out of the airport, I recommend you stop at the Elephant Deli before security and get something to eat there. Another reason why I love Portland’s airport is their food and prices are reasonable. The City of Portland passed legislation which prevented the airport from imposing exorbitant airport taxes and all the prices had to reflect the same price of everything you could purchase in the city. Thus, the food and other items you purchase in the airport aren’t ridiculously expensive.
- Denver Airport
- While I still think the Illuminati are headquartered in the Denver Airport, I’ve never actually found any evidence this might be the case. Regardless, I think the Denver airport is a really nice airport. The airport is actually really big, but the signage is really well done that it’s hard to get lost. They offer lots of great food options (hello Caribou coffee), but are a little lacking on the shopping options. However, they do have a direct train from the airport to downtown Denver which I think is an important amenity to highlight.
- Seattle-Tacoma Airport
- I have to disclaimer here, I am based in Seattle which means this is the airport I fly out of every time I go to work. However, I do think it’s a really great airport (when it’s not under construction like it is right now). The airport is pretty seamless and easy to navigate. The signage is clear and the airport has stepped up their food game in order to compete with other airports. Also I’m biased so I had to throw this airport in. Also there’s some great shopping there, you can go to the SubPop Records Store in the airport and get some really cool unique things from there.
- Minneapolis- St.Paul Airport
- I spent three years in Minneapolis/St. Paul so I’ve flown out of this airport quite a bit. Earlier this year I got stranded in the airport flying home from England and I ended up spending 6 hours hanging out. I know this airport pretty well now and I still think it’s one of the best airports I’ve been to. Actually bigger than it seems (I’ve run through the airport many times, I’m always winded by the time I get to the E gates from the A gates. They have some great food options and the ability to play games on iPads that are located at some of the restaurants. They also have two terminals so make sure you’re at the right terminal or meeting someone at the right terminal. My mom flew into one terminal and I flew into a different one and we spent a good twenty minutes trying to find each other before we realized we were at two different terminals (#rookiemistake). They also have a rail system that can take you into Minneapolis from the airport.
- D.C. Airport
- I like this airport a lot. For a major hub airport, it is seamless and pretty easy to navigate. It doesn’t feel overwhelming or too big. I think they have really good food options as well. Going through security is easy and pretty fast. I honestly thought it was a fluke how simple and easy the D.C. airport is. I would gladly fly out of D.C. more often. My only complaint is they don’t have as much seating available as I think they could.
- Salzburg Airport
- This is a really small airport which is why I liked it. It’s really easy to get to and from downtown Salzburg to the airport, it’s just a simple bus ride away. Salzburg is a really great city to visit, so if you get a chance I highly recommend it. The airport is small but it still has all the amenities that you want in an airport. The food is reasonably priced and there is plenty of seating. I ended up being at the airport for a few hours longer than anticipated because I thought it would take me longer to get to the airport than it actually did. I was able to kill plenty of time wandering through the few shops it had and it was easy to get through security.
- Chicago-O’Hare Airport
- I love this airport because during the holidays I have major Home Alone nostalgia walking through the airport. Also it’s a very big airport which means there are plenty of food and shopping options. Seating near the gates can be limited which is a drawback. Signage is pretty good and it’s easy to navigate. I enjoy walking through the airport as there is a lot just to take in and they always decorate it.
- Keflavik Airport
- Iceland’s Airport is a destination. With Icelandair making more of a splash in the U.S. I was excited to experience their airport. I know a lot of people don’t like the airport, but I’ve never had any issues. However, I do acknowledge that seating can be an issue in the airport if you have a long layover. All of Icelandair’s flights have a layover in the airport, and if you choose not to do the stopover, then you could be in the airport for significant periods of times. I was only in the airport two and half hours prior to my flight to England and thought the airport was fine and offered all the amenities that I would want in an airport.
Any airports you think I missed? Or you disagree with me?