Three Days in Georgetown, Malaysia

Our second stop of our #PickensinSEAsia adventure was in Georgetown, which is on the island of Penang in Malaysia. We heard about this destination first in our travel guide, but after doing a bit more research, it seemed like a good stop to build into our itinerary for a few reasons. Georgetown is well known for its culinary culture as well as its rich historical background.

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We arrived to Georgetown (about an hour and a half flight from Singapore), in the early afternoon on day one and after checking into our hotel, we set out to explore. There is one main road in Georgetown (Lebuh ) that has all of the main touristy religious destinations, so those were amongst our first stops.

We first went to Kapitan Keling Mosque, walked past Sri Mahamariamman temple (which was closed at the time), headed over to Kuan Yin Temple and lastly stopped at St. George’s Church. So in the span of a few hours and a few blocks we visited places of worship for Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Catholic faiths. I love that you can see all of these different sights and learn all about these different cultures so close together, it’s a pretty unique experience to say the least.

Afterwards we made our way out to the coast and soaked up the views for a while before touring Fort Cornwallis, which was actually really interesting to see with some of the vintage cannons, the unique shape and the history of the fort on the island. Next to the fort, there was a large field, The Esplanade, that happened to be featuring an exhibit of the United Buddy Bears while we were there. Although we didn’t take any pictures of the bears for who only knows what reason, they were all decorated by artists from different countries and positioned in such a way to be linked when joined to create a united circle. The bears apparently travel around the world for different exhibits and you can look up more on them here.

We wrapped up day one with a walk through Little India and a delicious diner there before calling it a night.

Day two kicked off with a visit to the Blue Mansion, aka Cheong Fatt Tze’s Mansion. If you have any interest in architecture or design at all, or if you enjoy history, or you’re just a fan of great storytelling, the Blue Mansion is worth the trip for the guided tour. We both really enjoyed the tour of the mansion for all of the aforementioned reasons. The interiors and architecture were something else. The colors, patterns, textures… talk about inspiration (I could do a whole post on this place… but I won’t)! The history and the way our guide shared the stories of how the mansion came to be were the icing on top.

After the Blue Mansion, we made our way over to the mint mansion… Okay they don’t call it that, but the colors of Penang and the Georgetown Heritage zone were really special. This second stop was at the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, which also had a really unique history and some great interior and architectural inspiration. We had a tour here as well and our guide was entertaining to say the least. I’d say it was another worthwhile tour here.

When were were finished touring these mansions we found our way to some fresh dragon fruit and pineapple from a hawker stand, and then found our way down to the Klan Jetties. The jetties are series’ of stilt houses that extend out over the water where people still live today. Though many are open to tourists, you should be mindful and considerate as you walk through that these are people’s homes. We walked through the Chew Jetty, one of the more popular Klan Jetties and it was definitely worth the stroll just to see the way some of the people live here. Really unlike anything you’d see back home.

We wandered and meandered through the streets making our way back to the hotel and seeing what else we could see along the way. For dinner we had local Peranakan style cuisine that was so tasty, and followed it up with good old fashioned American dessert at a little cafe we stumbled upon.

Day Three, we opted to find the hop on, hop off bus for Penang. This bus had two route plans, one for the Heritage zone, which we felt we had thoroughly explored and one for the beach route that leads you out to the jungle. We opted for the beach route and the jungle. One winding scenic ride, loads of bug spray and 2 huge bottles of water later, we were at the trailhead and on our way out to Monkey Beach! This trail route is heavily trafficked and very clear with the exception of one tree we had to scootch under. The scenery along the trail was really awe inspiring with the water off to our right following us around the edge of the island and the jungle to our right, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before and it was stunning.

We made it out to the beach and waded in the water, took in the sights and had some snacks. We didn’t see any monkeys on the beach as the name would imply, but we did see monkeys both on our way there and back-it was amazing! There was an option to hike further past Monkey Beach out to Lighthouse Point I believe it was called, and we thought we’d try it, but we got about halfway and the path was a bit trickier which we hadn’t anticipated with our footwear and clothing choices, so we turned back. What we saw on our hike was really incredible, and if we ever go back, I’d definitely make sure to dress appropriately and hike the jungle a bit more.

After climbing out of the jungle, we had a few more snacks and bought more water while we waited for the bus. Then we made our way around the rest of the beach route, enjoying the drive past many other sites on the island. Again, with more time we would have maybe included some additional stops, but we prioritized what we wanted to do and made it through our list. Everything that we did get to see/do in our short time here I would highly recommend to anyone heading this way. Penang and specifically Georgetown, were a great cultural experience all around.

For more on our travels through Southeast Asia, come back Monday–next stop is Kuala Lumpur! Be sure to also read up about our first stop Singapore and continue on with all of the destinations of our trip!

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Glamping | The Perfect Girls Getaway!

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When life is hectic and you are running around nonstop, sometimes all you need is a little getaway with your girls, and I’m telling you, let your men go camping, while you all go glamping.

Glamping is camping in a typically picturesque setting with real beds, mattresses and linens, charming decor, full standard bathrooms and then some of the charm of camping: campfires, s’mores, reclining in campfire chairs, etc., It’s basically all the beauty Mother Nature has to offer without interfering with your personal beauty routine.

I set up this little glamping photo shoot in the most scenic setting I know: on the same lake where P & I got married. I also included all the key ingredients to guarantee a fun girls getaway.

A cozy place to kick back, the tent provides a great shade structure to beat the heat during the day and a good place to gab and gossip while doing manis and pedis. After all, what’s a girls weekend without nail polish?

It’s important to have delicious treats, like these s’mores cupcakes, in case you and your friends aren’t the fire-starting types. They pair well with boozy camping concoctions. I like to pair the liquor of choice with something bubbly and all inclusive that adds some fizzy refreshment to the drink without having to measure and pour a laundry list of ingredients… after all, your bar cart is not included in the getaway, so keeping it simple is best. The easy margs I shared yesterday would be perfect!

Make sure you pack protein-filled snacks to keep your energy up through the days, and drink plenty of water! Adding citrus slices to your water makes it taste so much better — you might actually be able to choke the recommended eight glasses down. Prep is key to a successful camping menu. Plan out what you will be eating, stock your cooler with plenty of ice and pre-cut and mix everything before hand. I have pinned some good camping foods here for reference.

The last key ingredient to a successful glamping getaway is entertainment. You want to make sure you have things to do that are not related to your wireless devices, just in case you don’t have the best service out in the woods. Our favorite game to bring along is Cards Against Humanity, it makes for long hilarious nights. Corn hole, or just a good old-fashioned Frisbee are fun for the daylight hours, and there are plenty more ideas on my Pinterest board here.

Sources: Tent by Canvas Camp (which we will re-use as a shelter or awning when we go camping next), Quilt (gifted by my Mama), Pillows from Target (Blue Square, Blue Oblong, Coral Square similar, Coral Oblong), Weighted Table Cloths from Target (similar), Flower from Trader Joes — styled by yours truly, Mani/Pedi supplies from Target (Babe Blue, Mint Sorbet, Coral Reef) , S’mores cupcakes recipe made on the fly and will be blogged soon, travel tumblers & water pitcher from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Photography is all my own, please cite sources if you re-use any of these images! This post is not sponsored.

Greener Landscaping

Not as in the grass is always greener, but as in finding a more sustainable landscaping option for your home.

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First, I want to discuss the benefits of landscaping in general. When you have a nice front yard, it maximizes your curb appeal, it can make your home stand out as one that is better taken care of overall. Good landscape makes for good first impressions on potential home buyers when you’re on the market, which increases your home’s value. It can also increase the way you think about your home, making you feel happier and more content with where you come home to everyday.

That said, why not look into a more sustainable option that requires less upkeep and less maintenance overall so that you can have your beautiful landscaping and have the time to enjoy it too? Help a mother out, Mother Nature that is, and help yourself in the process.

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? So, how do we achieve a greener landscape? It all starts with the planning.

Limit the lawn. It’s okay to have a grassy area, but this grassy area uses a lot of water, mowing (more energy and air pollution) and overall just more maintenance to keep it look nice and fresh. So think about ways to decrease the amount of land your grass is covering. Start with healthy soil. Healthy soil makes for healthier plants. Remember when I mentioned starting to compost yesterday? Composting makes for incredibly healthy soil. Add beds around the perimeter. You can put anything in these beds, make a rock garden, make a garden filled with flowers, veggies, etc., the more beds the better. Look for native plants. Native plants are those that are native to your region, the are more likely to thrive in your area with limited support by you. Avoid invasive species. Invasive plant species will require more care, and they aren’t likely to thrive in your area without a lot of help, so it is best to leave them off the list. Find plants that thrive in your regional and micro-climate. Do you get a lot of shade in your yard? Cater to shade lovers. A lot of sun, look for sun lovers. Group plants according to maintenance needs. If there are plants that require more water, instead of running around the yard with the hose, you can go directly to where the water is needed and reduce the water you are using. Avoid high-maintenance plants. High maintenance is high maintenance, and even if you are an avid gardener and you can keep these high maintenance plants feeling lush and looking good, they are going to require more energy, more resources, more everything, so remember in green landscaping, less maintenance is more. Build in walkways. Adding a pathway of gravel or paver stones, cuts down on lawn coverage while guiding the eye through the space, and guiding guests through the area as well.

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Now that we know what to plan for and what to include or exclude, we want to make sure it looks good. After all, to really reap the benefits of a beautifully and sustainably landscaped property, you want to make sure that it looks as nice as it functions.

Incorporate different heights. Look for native trees, shrubs and tall grasses that are taller and can act as a nice backdrop for the rest of the plantings. You can also look into building or buying taller planters or terracing out areas with native stones or pavers to make a tiered planting area. Look at the texture. From a visual perspective, you want to make sure there is interest in what is there and visual texture is huge in creating something that is overall appealing to the eye. Try to incorporate different tall grasses mixed with different leafy plants, flowering plants, succulents and mosses, to keep the texture interesting. In addition to the texture of the plantings, you can add texture by incorporating boulders, sculptures or other features. The more variety you are able to incorporate, the better. Add Color. You can add color in vegetation and flowers that will bloom at different times, or look into adding something like a copper rain chain or colorful and whimsical garden globes. Incorporate patio areas and decks. Create a space to enjoy your newly landscaped space by incorporating a centrally located patio area where you can make an outdoor dining space and/or a place to just relax. You can consider adding a fire pit or a water feature to pull your chairs up around; make a zone for grilling and entertaining outside so you are ready to host at the drop of a hat. Add designated walkways. This is another textural element, but using gravel, pavers or decking will allow rain water to seep through and eliminate pooling or irrigation issues, while again limiting the amount of grassy space, and you can fill the gaps with moss or ground cover that is pretty, adds a soft element, and feels good on bare feet.

Now that you know what to consider, it’s the perfect time of year to get started! You’ll be ready for summer entertaining in no time, you will have less maintenance to worry about year round, and what’s best, your conscience will be clear knowing that your landscaping is greener. If you live in a state that frequently has droughts, also look into tax-rebate programs that you may be able to benefit from by converting to less or no grass.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. For more green landscaping inspiration, check out my Houzz ideabook, and follow us on Houzz so you don’t miss any updates!

10 Ways To Celebrate Earth Day

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Happy Earth Day! As this day stems from Arbor Day, I know many people try and plant trees or donate to causes that do the dirty work for them. If you are interested in planting a tree, check with your local town or county to see what public places are acceptable to be planting in. The last thing you want is for your goodwill to go to waste when you get in trouble for digging in the wrong places.

Trees have incredible benefits. Most prominently, they filter our air for us, providing us with the fresh air we breathe. They offer shade, some offer fruit, but more than that, they increase our happiness. Trees can increase the value of your neighborhood and some even believe that they reduce crime.

If you are unable to plant a tree today in honor of Mother Nature, there is still plenty you can do today (and everyday) that will have a positive effect.IMG_0514

Here is a list of 10 things you can do, try and check a few off your list this week, and see if there are some that you can squeeze into your day-to-day life as well.

  1. Start a compost bin. It will make great soil for planting in your garden while cutting down on waste.
  2. Shop the farmer’s markets. Keep it local and fresh by stocking up on produce from the local farmer’s market, this can also reduce toxins if they aren’t using pesticides when growing as well.
  3. Stop using produce bags. Yes the basket and cart are dirty, but likely so is the way the produce got to the produce department and you are going to wash it before you eat it anyway. And while you’re at the grocery store…
  4. Spend the money on re-usable shopping bags. Do yourself a favor, and make a habit to always keep two in your car. You can also create a habit of getting the old bags back into your car by putting them on top of your purse once they are unloaded or put them on a hook by the door, or even just looping them over the door-knob. These are some foolproof ways to make sure you always have them. Use them for more than just groceries, use them for clothing, the drug store, etc., there is no limit to where they can go, just more limiting of paper and plastic bags being used.
  5. Switch to cloth hand towels in the bathroom and kitchen. I know some people find this to be a dirtier, more germ-infested way, however, if you consider using one to dry your clean hands on in each room that can be re-used multiple times a day over the course of a few days as opposed to one disposable towel that is used once and tossed. Also for clean dishes, dry them with a fresh kitchen towel, this as well as the hand-towels can be washed and re-used over and over again, and save a lot of paper. There are times when a paper towel still might be preferable, and in that case, or in the case of toilet paper, recycle the inner cardboard tube instead of throwing it away.
  6. Group your errands by location. Throughout the week there are things that need to get done. Try making a list of what you need and grouping things that are located in the same neighborhood on the same day to reduce driving back and forth to all the places everyday.
  7. Go to the car wash. Using a car wash (do your research to find a reputable one in your neighborhood) ensures that the waste water is not running off into the general waterways.
  8. Transition your cleaning supplies over to an eco-friendly variety. There are plenty of green cleaners available at the store, but there are also some you can make using general household items.
  9. Replace your light bulbs. Start the process of keeping CFLs or something more efficient on hand and when your current bulbs burn out, replace them with the more efficient variety.
  10. When you aren’t using something, turn it off and unplug it. Try not to let the auto off settings do the work for you because things will stay on so much longer than necessary. So when you are finished making your coffee for the day, turn off the pot; done fixing your hair, turn off the blow dryer, flat iron, etc., turn them off and put them away; finished watching TV, turn it off. Most small household appliances have an sensor in them to automatically turn them off after a period of inactivity, but it would save so much if we just flipped the switch ourselves when we were done.

There is a list for you of simple tasks and tips that you can start implementing today! What else are you doing to be more ‘green’ or how are you celebrating this Earth day? I’m curious to know what I’m missing out on, so leave your comments on what else can be done.

I hope you are enjoying this series! I have some prettier posts planned for the rest of the week on how you can be more green in your design process to round off this mini-series. If you’ve made it through these wordier posts, I appreciate it, and if you are starting to implement some of the things we’ve been discussing, I know that the earth is thankful too.

Winter Neutrals

This season I have made a point to get out more. We have hiked, walked and wandered quite a bit, and through it all we have taken some pictures. I took one of the scenes from our hike a few weeks back and put in some Farrow & Ball paint colors that create a lovely neutral color scheme that could be implemented in your home or wardrobe year round!

Winter Neutrals Color Scheme

Are you a fan of these winter neutrals? The inset colors from left to right are: Blackened, Skylight, Plummett and Mahogany. Soon spring will be upon us, and we can bring some brighter colors into the schemes.

Finding Inspiration

I wanted to share some of my greatest sources of inspiration. These points of interest are ones I can count on to provide me with new inspiration for everything from the details to the full space.

For me it all starts with nature and fashion.

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Nature. Taking a walk, hike or drive is a sure-fire way for me to get back to the root of it. For me, Mother Nature always does it best. There are so many wonderful colors combinations, beautiful natural patterns and great textures in the wilderness that it really is worth getting outside and letting them influence you.

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Fashion. I won’t ever claim to be a fashionista, but I do love to follow what is current and in-style in the fashion world. I love the fashion weeks and seeing what the designers have planned for the following season. If you want to talk about colors, patterns and textures, this is a great area to look! Fashion definitely has a direct correlation to interiors.

Where do you go to seek inspiration? I can’t wait to peruse more fashion week photos over the weekend!

Making the Most of Winter {Take a Hike!}

As I mentioned yesterday, getting outside is a surefire way to kick the winter blues. As long as you make sure you are bundled up, you might be cold, but you shouldn’t freeze! Break out those layers and get outside!

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The second activity to make the most of winter is to take a hike! Seriously! The winter air is crisp and refreshing and the foliage has all dropped, making for great conditions for soaking up the views without overheating.

P & I opted to take Brantley with us on our hike. A lot of trails, parks and beaches that aren’t pet friendly will allow dogs off season, so it’s the perfect time to get your pup’s energy out too!

We searched and found a trail up near the George Washington Bridge that was stated to have incredible views of the city. However, the day that we opted to hike it was insanely overcast with freezing rain. But it was all planned out so we made it happen, and even though I think we really were chilled to the bone when we hopped back in the car, we felt great! We got to check out a new trail, run down Brantley’s energy and really had a good time.

This is an activity that is completely family friendly, though I would recommend going on a day when it isn’t freezing raining. I think this could be really fun in the winter whether it is clear or snowing.

Are you an outdoorsy person? What is your favorite time of year to hike? I dare you to try it this winter and see what you think! If we could make the most of a hike in freezing rain, you can at least put it on your list 🙂