Getting Back on Track

It’s been a while, huh? When I started this blog last year, my intent was to write weekly, but after our European home exchange, I dropped the ball and only wrote a few times between October 1 and the end of 2016. No, we didn’t go anywhere during those months (except a few short stays…

Saying Goodbye to Surrey

Today is bittersweet: we closed the sale of our first family home, the little yellow house on Surrey Road. The first house I ever bought. The house we brought Dexter into when he was just 7 weeks old. The house in which Justin proposed and where we slept on the night of our wedding. It…

Have Cats, Will Travel

Since August 1, 2016, our beautiful sweet furbabies Cosmo and Dexter have spent 50 nights at our home. The rest of the time they’ve been staying at Grandma and Grumpa’s house, sometimes with us but most of the time without. They get shuttled back and forth between our two houses so often that both places…

Staying Put by Moving Out

The last few weeks have been a little nuts. The presidential election took an unexpected turn; my parents were out of town leaving us in charge of their animals and house; I had to go to Dallas with a coworker for a conference; our small family company was hiring… again; we’ve AirBNB’d our house three…

#TBT That time we lost my brother in Venice

I’m sure there’s some writing advice out there that says not to give away the punchline in the title but alas. Rules were made to be broken, dammit! My brother and I had an incredible childhood, for which we both are eternally grateful; our parents worked hard to give us everything they didn’t have, to…

3600 Miles, 55 Hours & 3 Pets: From Florida to British Columbia

In 2005, my family spent six weeks living in Whistler, British Columbia. My dad and brother flew, but my mother and I drove an SUV full of everything we’d need including four suitcases, three computers (remote work, ftw!), three pets, and one litter box.

This is the story of Sherra and Ashley’s Cross Country Adventure.

Spoiler alert: things get REAL WEIRD in Colorado.

Who are the Schwartaus?

“English, Irish, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, German.” That was the mix of ethnicities that I could rattle off at a mile-a-minute whenever someone asked my heritage. “And possibly some Cherokee and Mexican.” We added that later after learning that my mom’s side of the family might have included Native Americans, and my dad’s relatives lived…

Bad Schwartau

In elementary school, I used to tell people that Schwartau was the shortened version of my real last name, the Ellis Island version given to my ancestors when they immigrated to America. My real last name was Schwartauburgerhifinfiner. My friends believed me, for years. But it’s not true.

#TBT: The Time My Dad Tricked Me Into Eating Squid

I’ve always been a less-than-adventurous eater; I ate PB&J sandwiches or peanut butter & crackers every day for lunch from Kindergarten through 5th grade. (Not kidding. Not even a little bit.) As an adult, I’ve definitely expanded my food horizons — mahi mahi tacos! bahn mi sandwiches! grilled octopus! — though my dad would still…

Janet and the Bikini

This post comes from my grandmother Mary Bell’s memoirs Squatter’s Rites: 101 Travel Stories for the Vicarious Traveler. She wrote them during the late 90s, her stories taking place as far back as the 40s. They were never published, but instead typewritten and saved in a 3-ring binder. As I go through her collection of travel…

Day About Town, Special Guest: Justin’s Mom!

When Justin’s mom, Rhonda, came to visit, we wanted to play tourists in our own town and show her around a bit, checking out some sites she may not have seen on previous visits. We used my Downtown Walking Tour as a starting point, skipping the places Rhonda had already seen or wouldn’t have interest in, and adding in a couple new spots we had yet to check out.