London Checklist: How I Create Itineraries for Trips

Hello again everyone! Today’s post is going to be a look into how I plan for trips, more specifically the planning for my family’s trip to London in December. I’m going to focus on how I make trip itineraries today, and then there will be posts in the future about packing for trips and airport tips!

If this post looks a little familiar, it’s because I originally posted this on November 2nd. For some reason I just didn’t love it, so I deleted it. Rereading it today I realized that even though I don’t “love” this post, it’s a good representation of the way that I plan and organize, and is something I want to share. I’m trying to be less fixated on making my posts “perfect” and just enjoy what I’m writing. Anyways, back to the planning!

To start off, I created a Google Doc that I shared with my family. We created a master list of places we wanted to go, regardless of hours, pricing, and availability.

Once we had our list complete, I organized every activity into categories, from museums to castles and shopping areas.

I then created a list of places that were next to each other so we could start making individual itineraries for each day. This allowed us to easily see which activities were within walking or driving distance of each other, and gave us a sense of what would be good pairings.

After this, I created a section at the top of the Google Doc with basic trip information, such as flight departure and arrival times, the dates of our trip, and our hotel information. This allows us to easily look back at and keep track of any important trip details. I also broke down each day into whether it was a full day, half day, or a travel day where we wouldn’t be able to do much of anything.

It was finally time to break down everything into the specific days. I divided the Google Doc into headers with each day of our trip, from Saturday 12/21 to Saturday 12/28. We then picked which activities we wanted to do on each day, referring to our categories and list of places that were near each other.

If there was an event where we needed to make an appointment, we marked it with a bright highlighter so it stood out, as well as if had an opening in a day.

I also added a bonus section to each day with extra activities to do if we finish early and end up having more time than expected.

Once this was all done, I printed out the final itinerary to have a copy of for the trip. Since this was done on a Google Doc, it’s super easy to go back and add or remove things if the schedule changes.

Hopefully this post gave you some insight and tips on how I make trip itineraries. I’ll see you all soon for another post!

i was…

I was an umbrella

I kept my owner dry

but I got soaked

I was an umbrella

I was folded up and put out of sight

out of mind

until someone needed me

I was an umbrella

I heard the whistles of the wind

I saw the clouds darken

and roar

I felt the rain beat against me

I was an umbrella

Day after day,

storm after storm

I was an umbrella

I kept my owner dry

It was my job in life

to serve others

but what about myself?

I was an umbrella

A few years ago I wrote this poem for a project. It seemed very superficial to me at the time writing about something as simple as an umbrella, but the poem turned out to be a lot deeper than i thought.

In a way, this poem represented how I thought of myself when I wrote this. I would always put others before myself, and it’s something I still do sometimes. This is one of the few pieces of writing I’ve done that I somewhat enjoy, and I thought I’d share it with you.

See you all soon for another post!

Dear Rick: A Sonnet

Hey everyone! For today’s post I thought I’d switch it up a little bit and post a sonnet I wrote. I haven’t mentioned it too much on here, but I love writing and especially poetry in particular. There is so much freedom in poetry, and it can be anything you want.

The sonnet I’m sharing today is called ‘Dear Rick’ and is based off of a crumpled note I found on the street. As you could probably guess, it was to someone named Rick. Sadly I don’t have a picture of the note, but I do remember it was written in bright blue ink and was pretty much said it was nice to meet you and I hope you enjoy this coat, which I’m guessing the note fell out of.

Dear Rick

dear rick, it was great meeting you last night

read the crumpled note written in blue ink

could be a fantasy, left to ignite

to inspire, desire, or make a heart sink.

maybe we will meet again sometime soon.

whisked into a dream like wizard of oz

having high tea with the hatter at noon,

running free, playing cards without a cause.

i hope this coat brings you the warmth you need.

as if a coat could tame the raging storm

of a heart that continually bleeds,

wanting none of the hurt that was the norm.

maybe this note was just what he needed

leaving it here for masses to read it.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and I’ll see you all soon for another one! I’ll definitely be posting more of my writing in the future for you guys in the future, as well as some more photography and lifestyle content.

Memories At The Met: mini picture dump + travel log

Hey everyone! For today’s post I have a mini travel log and a picture dump of my day at the Met in New York in December of 2017. I recently found these pictures on an old memory card and decided I wanted to share them. All of today’s pictures were taken on a Canon Rebel t5i. Hope you enjoy!

A few more pictures of the outside of the Met and the area surrounding it. I loved the architecture of the building across the museum, especially all of the balconies and arches.

Of course, I had to live out my Gossip Girl fantasy and take some pictures sitting on the steps of the Met.

Here are a few pictures of some of the exhibits inside. I really enjoyed all of the sculptures and statues in the museum in particular. I love painting and art in general, and it was really cool to see some of the most famous pieces of art up close in person.

That’s all for this mini travel log and picture dump. See you all soon for another post!

Getting the “perfect” Background: Garden Center Chic

Hey everyone! For today’s post I’m going to be doing another part in my getting the “perfect” background series. It’s been a while since I’ve shared a photoshoot, and this one is one of my favorites.

I personally love having photoshoots at different stores, especially ones that you wouldn’t conventionally think of as a good setting for pictures. It’s kind of like a challenge finding the best angles and backgrounds, and it usually leads to some great photos.

For today’s shoot, we decided to go to Lowe’s and At Home, since they both had big garden areas with lots of plants. All of today’s pictures were taken on a Canon Rebel t5i.

The first thing that we saw when we walked in were the carts, and of course my first instinct was to grab one for a picture. I loved the contrast of the bright orange cart with my cooler blue-ish and black outfit. If you’re somewhat like me and don’t know how to pose most times, grabbing a prop like this cart can be super helpful!

Although it was quite an unconventional idea, I decided to sit on the stacks of potting soil for a picture. These turned out to be my favorite pictures of the entire shoot, and I love how vibrant the colors turned out.

We then ventured inside of the store to the lamp and lightbulb aisle, since we thought the bright lights would provide an interesting background.

To avoid feeling awkward about taking so many photos, my friend and I pretended to be in search of furniture for our “studio”, which made the experience even more fun. Anytime someone passed by us we would stop taking photos and start pointing out the item we were by, saying “do you think this would fit in our studio?” and so on.

Another great background for photos in stores like these are the plant areas. The natural look and bright colors make the background pop and can liven up an otherwise simple picture. Since it’s approaching the holiday season all of the Christmas trees were out, and we attempted to take a few pictures in the middle of them.

That’s all for today’s post, I hope you enjoyed it. Be on the look out for a thrift haul post and some room renovation posts in the future, see you all soon!

Beauty in Beijing: The Summer Palace

Hey everyone and welcome back to my blog! For today’s post, I’m continuing my travel diary series from my trip to Beijing, China. We’re going to be focusing on one of my favorite places we went to, the Summer Palace.

The Summer Palace in Beijing is the largest and best preserved royal park in China, created during the Qing Dynasty. It spans 2.9 square kilometers, with 3/4 of this area being water.

The day we chose to go was perfect: it was sunny, but not too hot, and it was windy enough to create a nice breeze but not blow you away.

While waiting in line to get in we got handed our tickets, which were too aesthetically pleasing for me to not take a picture of.

When we walked in, I was astounded by the view. The architecture in China is so unique, and it was unlike something I had ever seen before. Even though it was crowded, I felt like I was the only person in the entire garden.

We walked past numerous artifacts and statues to the main green garden areas. It was magical, and I felt like I was in my own little secret garden.

Most of the big groups that were touring the palace had an object that they waved so their group could see where the leader was. It was so interesting to see all of the ribbons waving in the air throughout the garden.

All of the details in the archways were incredible. I can’t even imagine how much time and effort went into creating them. Everywhere I looked, there was a different illustration or carving in the walls.

I also loved these painted windows that displayed the water behind them. Each window had a different flower or plant painted on them and were different shapes, and I loved how cohesive yet unique they each were.

The walk to the water was amazing, but the actual water was breathtaking. This was by far my favorite part of the trip to summer palace, as well as my favorite part of my trip to Beijing. I wanted to stay and listen to the waves and the wind forever.

The last place we went in the palace was to the Jade Belt Bridge. The curve of the bridge is so unique and beautiful, and the nature surrounding the water was so serene.

If I could, I would have stayed at the Summer Palace all day. I absolutely loved it, and I hope to go back sometime soon in the future.

This concludes the second part of my Beijing travel diaries series, I hope you enjoyed it. More parts as well as more photography and lifestyle content are coming, see you all soon!

Opening Up: There Is No “Perfect”

For today’s post, I want to start being more open. I want to talk about issues that are real and personal to me, and how I deal with them every day. I want to be able to just talk about my day, detail a fun trip I took, or share a photoshoot that I am proud of.

Sometimes I go days without posting. It’s never that I don’t want to post or don’t have an idea of what to post, it’s the perfectionist in me. The person who absolutely can’t post or even begin to write something if they’re not completely and utterly satisfied with it. I can’t even begin to tell you how many things I’ve written, sometimes even posted, then deleted because it didn’t meet my standards.

Dealing with this extends to more in my life than just my writing. Everything I do has to be just so, whether it’s the wallpaper I’m attempting to put up in my room or a new page in my bullet journal. I literally rubbed the skin off of most of my fingers trying to smooth my wallpaper onto my wall perfectly, not stopping even after I realized I was starting to hurt my fingers. I become fixated on the idea of perfect, not thinking about anything but the end result. I feel immense pressure to make things “perfect”, even though the only person applying the pressure is myself.

I know that nothing can truly be “perfect”, and I accept that. However, there are just some days where I can’t do anything because nothing I do is up to my own insane standards. I end up in this cycle of starting, stopping, and putting away because I get overcome by this need for perfection. It leads to me being extremely indecisive in every action I take. I struggle to even choose what I want to have for breakfast some days, and when that happens I usually just forget the idea of food altogether.

My actions are not healthy, physically or mentally, and I’m doing my best to work to change them. I may not be completely “cured” of this, but I’m getting better. I am able to be conscious about my eating and drinking and choose to eat things that I genuinely want to, not just things that are accessible. I can be okay with something being a little messed up, with those tiny creases in the wallpaper or the imperfect lettering on my chalkboard wall.

It’s okay that I and everything in my life are not perfect. There is no perfect, and this is a fact I am working on internalizing every day of my life going forward. I am taking steps to become a better person in this respect, and even though I may have slip ups along the way I am becoming who I want to be.

When I get into that state, I try to go to my happy place. For me, that place varies between the horseback riding stables I regularly go to and a library. I envision myself there, think about what book I’m reading or what horse I’m riding and let myself fall completely into my imagination.

My cat, Katie, also helps me emotionally a lot. She is the most in tune cat I’ve ever met, and she always knows when I’m feeling upset. She comes and sits with me on the floor, on my bed, on my desk, or anywhere I am when I need her.

Another thing that has really worked for me when I feel more anxious is playing the game I Love Hue. It’s essentially a giant color organizing game, where you are given a grid with an assortment of colors that have been scrambled. Your goal is to put the colors back into rainbow order. This game is so relaxing to me, and it helps to have something to think about and actively do when I’m feeling anxious.

All of these methods help me to be able to calm down a little bit and think more rationally, and realize that okay is good enough. That’s why I named my website “zoesokay”, because I’m okay, not perfect. And that’s good enough.

Hopefully this post gave you some insight into how I deal with being a perfectionist, and maybe helped you into accepting that there is no “perfect”. This post is something I’m genuinely proud of, and I’m excited to keep making content I love on this website. I’ll see you all soon for another post.

Read With Me: November

Hey everyone and welcome back to my blog! For today’s post I’m going to talk about books I’ve been loving recently, as well as a few I have yet to read. Since it’s the start of November, this is going to serve as my reading “bucket list” for the month, where I can put what I’ve read in the past month and what I hope to read this month.

All of the photos of my books were taken on my iPhone 11 Pro Max. If you’re interested, I will post a review of the camera and compare the three lenses!

As of lately, I’ve been very into medical and scientific books. A few of my favorites right now are Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders. I loved how interesting all of the stories were, and the division of the book into common symptoms made it more interesting to read. There is also a Netflix series based on this book that I will hopefully be watching soon, and maybe reviewing on here!

Another two books that are more on the scientific side I really enjoy are Survival of the Sickest by Sharon Moalem and Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body Neil Shubin. Survival of the Sickest talks disease has shaped the evolution of species, and Your Inner Fish is essentially the history of human evolution. Both were very interesting and entertaining, and I didn’t feel like I was reading a scientific book. There is also a TV series for Your Inner Fish, which hopefully I can watch and maybe review soon. My copies of these books are definitely loved, and are a bit worn from reading and traveling with me.

A few books and other reading materials that I picked up that I’ve yet to read are Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, Under the Knife: A History of Surgery in 28 Remarkable Operations by Arnold van de Laar, and many more. I got a version of “Divine Comedy” that has both the English and the Italian translations, and I’m really excited to read both even though I don’t know a single word of Italian. I think the diction and syntax will be as beautiful as the words, and I also have the English translations handy right on the other side of the page!

Another book I’m excited to read is Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. I recently read Outliers for school and really enjoyed it, so I was eager to pick up this book.

That’s it for today’s post, I hope you enjoyed it. I’ll do another updated list in the future of what I’m reading, and I’ll include my reviews of some of the books I’ve yet to read that are on this list. See you all soon for another post!