small changes can lead to big differences.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The world is the backpacker's inn.

To know me is to know that I love to travel. You can take me anywhere. Driving to Indiana? Ok, I'll go. Going to Arkansas? Sign me up. Iceland? Greenland? Denmark? Tanzania? LET'S DO IT!

I haven't been to nearly enough places yet. When I was 20, I backpacked across Southeast Asia for two months, and when I was in high school, we went on a short trip to London and Paris. However, in about a week, I'll be taking a cross-country train ride to California to visit friends and family. In July, I'm backpacking across Central America for a month, so I'm making up for the last 3 years of light travel.

In celebration of my upcoming backpacking endeavors, I've decided to post my top 5 places in Asia! I went to sooo many places while I was there. However, there are a few that REALLY stick out from the trip, and I'd like to share with you my favorites!

5. Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Kanchanaburi is known for a few things - one of them being their Tiger Temple. I went twice while I was there. It was such an amazing experience! They have so many random animals walking around (wild hogs, horses, deer, water buffalo, ducks, everything!) and of course, tigers. The tigers weren't exactly walking around, haha. They were chained up and sedated (ah, tourist thailand. they'll do anything for a buck) and we were allowed to take as many photos of them for free. (it was 400 baht to get IN to the entire place - that's $12)

For more pictures of the Tiger Temple, visit my Picasa Album.

Some other things the Kanchanaburi Province is known for:

Bridge over the river Kwai

Disco Rafts - "Not so long ago, Kanchanburi Town had grown to be rather infamous for its Disco Rafts which used to sail down parts of the River Kwae all night long blaring out loud disco music." hahaha! I definitely missed the memo on this one while I was there! But really, I'm not surprised!!

4. Lop Buri

This town was amazingly scary. It is known for their "infestation of monkeys". YES, MONKEYS! I'm not a fan of little creatures who aren't at all intimidated by people (read: monkeys. Particularly these monkeys) so I was kiiiinda freaked out. But nevertheless it was a very hilarious experience, especially for those people watching me.
There was a particular temple where all the monkeys hung out, and you could purchase "treats" to feed the monkeys. We bought some, and we had to hide the treats and go inside the temple to feed them! (it was a small temple, and there were bars we could feed them through) Otherwise they would have swarmed us. A monkey also decided to jump onto my backpack and try to open it. TERRIFYING! I know, I'm a wuss!
But really, if you ever do end up going to thailand, TAKE THE TIME TO GO HERE! It's completely worth the train ride. It only takes a few hours (unless the train delays.. ours was delayed or broken or whatever for.. well.. I don't want to tell you. JUST GO!) I believe it's a little west of Bangkok. Honestly, though, it's incredibly easy to get anywhere from Bangkok and also ridiculously cheap.

Oh yea, this is how it happens.

For more pictures, visit my Lop Buri Photo album!

3. Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Compared to everywhere I've traveled in Asia, Cambodia is so...different! In many ways. It's a lot dustier + dirtier than Laos (sorry, Cambodia, but you know it's true!) It was a lot more unorganized in a way, and the architecture was very different. I loved it, though. I stayed at Okay Guesthouse (ask anybody, that's one of the best guesthouses in Phnom Penh!) and saw a lot of different areas. I sat in on a musical performance in the park, gazed over the river watching fisherman, went to several markets and malls, nonprofits and cafes. Oh yea! I also went to a few bars and hung out with the locals. That was fun too!
The people in Cambodia can be friendly, but you have to remember that if you're traveling alone (and are female), you have to be careful . I was stupid, I went places on my own a lot, I would be stubborn and walk back at night when I should've taken a tuk tuk, and I was overly friendly to everyone I met - included strange men that weirded me out very quickly! This stuff goes for anyone anywhere but this just happened to be when I learned these things! They really ARE friendly there, whereas in Bangkok they usually left me alone if I didn't want to talk. I'm sure everyone has a different experience, though. Anyway, definitely go to Phnom Penh if you get a chance. It's fun, there are a lot of things to do!

oh! Fun fact. That box in the photo with all the numbers - that's a "phone booth" aka, someone with a cell phone was sitting there.

2. Vang Vienne

To me, Vang Vienne is known for 2 things: Inter-tubing and Friends bars. I think that most others will say the same thing.
Backpackers go to Vang Vienne because of all the other backpackers who tell them about inter-tubing. All it is is paying maybe $5 (probably less) for a inner tube, getting driven up a hill, and floating down part of the Mekong River. There are various stops that you can float to where you can pay for a beer lao ($1 for a 40? 32 oz? regardless, it's a HUGE beer) and take advantage of the zip-lines and swings that are there for you to fly into the river from.
I had some epic fails on the zip line! The first time I did it well and made it all the way to the end and then i let go. The second and third times, I just lost my grip RIGHT away and landed on logs in the water! Painful but funny.

Epic Fail!

Same goes for the swings. The photos I have are of me doing it right - swinging far and then letting go. The other 2 times I tried though, I fell off right away. I NEED MORE UPPER-ARM STRENGTH!!! ha ha.

Hello, brown water!

It's so fun though! The cheapest fun evar. It was not so much fun for me by the end, though! I fell asleep on my tube! and my sunscreen wore off so when I woke up I WAS PINK! and by that time, I had lost my entire group, and didn't see them until 3 hours later! I had no shoes, pants (haha) or a key to my guesthouse! It was pretty lame, and I was in so much pain (not only from the sunburn but there is NO pavement around there so I could hardly walk since it was all gravel!) but I think by the next day I was in good spirits, and looking back I think it is hilarious! I feel bad for my travel buddy Kenton, though. He had to deal with my pain! ha ha.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention FRIENDS BARS!
All they are are raised benches/tables that you can pretty much lay on and relax. You can order food or drinks, and watch... yea, FRIENDS!

It was so chill! there are so any friends bars in Vang Vienne! I also watched Seinfeld too, and there were movie nights at some of them! Definitely needed after a day of epic fails and sunburn! ha ha.

1. Luang Prabang

Ok, it's time for NUMBER ONE!!!
Luang Prabang is one of the most amazing places I have ever been. When I originally booked my trip for Thailand, I don't even know if I had ever HEARD of Luang Prabang! (I didn't do much research before I left, because that's not fun! I like seeing where my feet take me. )
Where do I start!? Luang Prabang is GORGEOUS!

Since Laos was once owned by the French, you can see so much French Style in the architecture. (In Vientienne, the capitol, they even have a mini arc de triumph! it's a pretty bad replica though, even Laos apologizes for the lame-ness of it!)

There are so many notable things about Luang Prabang. Besides its beauty, their are plenty of night markets, delicious food, book stores and non-profits, pretty guesthouses, and even a bear/tiger rescue and waterfall park, called Kuang Si Falls.

Swinging into a pool of minty water at Kuang Si Falls!

adorable kiddies playing in the water!

more photos of Luang Prabang and the Waterfalls!

Everything is ridiculously cheap. I'm serious - you can probably get by on $20 a day, and that's including everything - lodging, transportation, food, activities.

There isn't much else to say except GO. GO NOW. Or... soon. Or sometime in your life. If you have any love for beauty, traveling, cultures, etc... Luang Prabang will at the very least inspire you. I know it inspired me! Even looking back on these photos and writing this has reminded me of how much I loved being there and how much I'd love to go back someday.

One last thing I want to say - You can go anywhere in the world (.. well almost anywhere!). Don't be afraid to get up and travel, see another country, even see another STATE. Just GO. You get one life (I think! We might be reincarnated but that's another entry in itself!) one chance to do these things. Do it for yourself. Change your life, have an experience that people will listen to in awe. IT IS POSSIBLE.

Maybe it's just me, but no full time job, no amount of money, stability, etc. will ever keep me from staying in one place. I don't believe that the sole purpose of life is to go to college, get a full time job, have a family and then just grow old. I was not born to give someone else life and sacrifice my entire life for them - that's not why I would have kids! So that they can do the same thing! We are given an entire WORLD to explore, millions of OPTIONS (especially in this day and age!) and so many opportunities that it's pretty overwhelming most of the time!

Money is money. Yes, it's expensive to travel, but you know what? Debt is debt! I would much rather my debt be from seeing the WORLD, meeting new PEOPLE and experiencing things that you can't experience staying in the city or the same state then from buying 10 pairs of $100 shoes!

If you ever need help PLANNING a trip or finding places to go or even advice on backpacking - ASK ME! I love to help other people out and I can set you up with friends/places to stay/ideas/tips/etc! Even if you want to talk about it, I am here! It is one of my number one passions to travel and help others get off their feet! So don't be afraid!

I hope that you got SOMETHING out of this post, if even just happiness from looking at such pretty pictures :):)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Check it out!

Juli over at posted a ton of new things last night from our amazing photo shoot on Friday!

ANNIE - Adorable Berry Striped Shirt


$27.00 - Size Medium-ish. SO CUTE!

MICHELLE - Zig Zag Quilted Purse Of Awesome-ness



VANESSA - 80s Wavy Clutch Purse For YOU


$15.00 - what a great deal! i LOVE these bags- especially for Spring time!!

Ok, over and out!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Front Page!

I am so excited! My stunning green and white Lady Baltimore Bag was featured on the front page of Etsy tonight!:)

hooray!!! such a great feeling! And it's so crazy - I literally just added that photo to the listing this afternoon!

Thursday, March 11, 2010




Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How Eco-Friendly Are You?

How eco-friendly are you? Do you recycle? Do you ride a bike, commute, or try to use reusable water bottles instead of plastic ones? How far do you take it, and why?

I'm curious to know some answers to these questions, especially the "how far do you take it, and why?" one. Over the past few years, I've observed a huge incline of green items. People everywhere are using reusable bags, buying organic food, cleaning products and even dog food. More and more people have discovered farmers' markets, food co-ops, and thrift stores. However, what motivated them (you?) to do so?

Upcycled Gift Tags - made from Monopoly Community Chest Cards by ikcdesign

A few years ago - in 2007 - I discovered the website . I thought it was a very funny website, and it brought an unknown cause to my attention - the enormous use plastic bags. For my entire life up to this point, I never even once considered that plastic bags were harmful to the environment. However, when I found this website, everything changed.
I bought two of the bags (one for me and one for my mom!) and started to bring them to the stores. Let me tell you.. EVERYONE looked at me like I was insane. "She brought her OWN bag?? What?" is what I think everyone was thinking! I swear - it felt like it was unHEARD of that someone brought their OWN bag to the store. (Keep in mind, I still lived in suburbia at this time [I was only 20] so thinking outside of the box is unknown to most people there) But yet I still did it. After about 6 months of this, I started to notice that a few major grocery stores started to sell their own reusable bags. I was thrilled! I couldn't believe that this idea of bringing your OWN bags to the store had finally caught on! Soon after this, everyone was selling their own reusable bags. It was amazing!

I caught on that being "green" was more of a fad when I noticed Target selling t-shirts that advertised that the wearer was eco-friendly. Ok, if it took ME as long as it did to bring my OWN bags to stores, there's no way that half of the American population has become eco-friendly overnight. (I have been obsessed with keeping the environment clean since I was like 2.) I mean.. this was the best fad EVER... how could I get annoyed at the fact that people were advocating recycling!? but still, it sort of felt like a lot of people were just being "green" because it was in style. Honestly, though, i never really got that worked up about it :p

In The City Bento Box Lunch Bag by uhreusable

Well, years have passed, and while the fad of being green has sort of died down, it seems as if retailers and corporations have caught on that they can make a lot of money by creating organic products. If it says 'Organic' or '100% whole wheat" it's prroooobably more expensive. Even organic fruit and veggies are more expensive. But I guess that's the price we pay for trying to take care of ourselves.

When it comes to the environment, what do YOU do to help it? I do plenty of things:
-I use a steel water-bottle for my water. I can fill it up using my Brita Water Pitcher, the water fountains at school, and tap water. I wash it every few days, and it cuts down on plastic, washing dishes, and I save so much money! I haven't bought a plastic bottle of water in weeks.
-I use my own bags (haha, duh!) which cut down on plastic, saves space in my apartment (not as many plastic bags hanging around!) and saves energy costs and money for everyone. It's more expensive and costly to recycle plastic bags than it is to just throw them away, which is why they are awful for the environment. Not to mention the hazards they cause to nature!
-This might be weird to you, but when I'm at school (or anywhere) I bring my own little bag of things for when I wash my hands. I have my own soap (in case the bathroom doesn't have any) and a small wash-cloth. I use the wash cloth to dry my hands because my school doesn't have air dryers - they only have paper towels, which can't be recycled and are all thrown away. By using my own wash cloth to dry my hands, I cut down on waste. It might seem minimal, but by doing this all semester, I probably save an entire roll of paper towels! (I freak out about my hands! I always have to wash them, and I don't really like hand sanitizer. It dries out my hands! I have very strange hands...)
-I recycle e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Even though Chicago is really behind on the whole "let everyone recycle from their homes" thing, they do have drop-off centers all over the city, and they do allow people to recycle a lot more than we think. We can recycle any plastics that have the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 and 7. This means your plastic containers, plastic cups for soda that you get at mcdonald's, hummus containers... they can all be recycled. I also recycle my batteries and pick up batteries that I see outside. Batteries contain very hazardous materials, and if they're leaked into the environment, it only means more trouble in the long run. Brita filters can also be recycled at select locations, such as Whole Foods. Check out to find out where you can recycle them.

Thank You Have a Nice Day Tote Bag by happyfamily

-Speaking of Preserve (if you clicked that link, you'll know what I'm talking about), I have used Preserve toothbrushes since 2007 as well. Preserve is awesome - you can send in your old tooth-brushes to them (they pay for shipping) and they mold the handle into useful things such as picnic tables for parks! It's a MUCH better alternative to the standard toothbrush handles, which never even decompose - they just sit in landfills forever. And the handles themselves are made out of recycled yogurt lids! It's a win-win situation :)
-I am trying to start bringing my OWN tupperware to restaurants! However, I haven't been going out to eat as much as I used to, so it hasn't been very proactive. But think of how much you can save by bringing your own takeout containers! Especially since so many places use styrofoam.. ugh! I hate styrofoam.

I won't lie - being this proactive for the environment takes a LOT of getting used to. We all have our habits, and don't feel guilty if you are having a hard time remembering to bring your reusable bags or your own tupperware to restaurants. It'll happen if you want it to! I would LOVE to hear what you do to help the environment, and if you have any tips! This is a huge passion of mine, and I love hearing what others are doing - it makes me feel less alone :P

Also, just to let you know, i'm working on my own line of reusable snack bags! I have a few made already and I've been testing them out. So far, so good! I'm using vintage and found fabrics - none of the fabric I use has been bought straight from the store, I try to use what has already been produced. Of course, I wash the fabric several times before using it in my projects!

Until next time,
marjie :]

*all items featured on this post were found by using the search "eco-friendly" on etsy!
**it should DEFINITELY be noted that in the middle of writing this, I got so motivated that I went out and picked up trash all around my apartment! People are so laaaazy!!! :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Finds! 3.5.10

It's Friday! Which means two things: I should've went to my math class today, and Friday begins with an "F". Let me elaborate....

First off, everyone deserves ONE day to NOT go to class, right? I'm not really one to miss, but today it's 40 degrees, I have a car, and I just had to go explore!

Second, Friday begins with an F! So does the word FINDS! So... FRIDAY FINDS! How many times has this been done before? Probably too many, but ah well!

This week I found some AMAZING shops. Chouettes, based in LA, makes absolutely gorgeous jewelry. I am in love with her color choices, the simplicity of some of her earrings, and of course the color mixtures that she uses in some of her items. So amazing! I will definitely be picking up some of her items in the near future.

Vintage Inspired Glass Ball Earrings with Bows- Mint Green

When I saw this item in the voter, I fell in love! It's made by Imaginationkids, who are based in Indiana. I love the shades of blue (I definitely love light blue) and the lovely design. I love nature as well, so it all comes together. I can see this on my desk in the future, or as home decor somewhere else.

Iceberg Stacking toy- Natural Wooden Toy

LOVE! These lemendrop earrings look delicious. I am not even a lemon drop kinda girl, but these look amazing! Made by Erika Price from the UK. Again, something I'm going to have to pick up sometime in the future. I never wore earrings before, but after finding all these items, I really want to start!!

Fun Lemon Yellow Dolly Mixtures Sterling Silver Earrings, Haiti Relief

Check out this super kawaii bow made by BlueberryShoes!! I am a HUGE fan of Kawaii things, bows, pink.. anything girly! (although you wouldn't know it by looking at me!) Check out the rest of her bows, too - everything is super cute and full of girly goodness!!

Pink Kawaii Hair Bow

Well, i hope you enjoyed these finds! Ok time to go out and make some guacamole!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Birthday Birthday BIRTHDAY!!!

No.. not MY birthday!!!

Today is Julis' - of Cordinated Cables and Individjuli - BIRTHDAY! ! She is also one of my real-life friends! Last night, we went out for sushi (courtesy of Groupon!)

Visit her shops for some amazing instrument cables or some fabulous vintage.

Cord Sweetness. 

Last night, I did some looking around Etsy. I bought two adorable prints from Rachel Loves Peace.

I cannot wait to get this! I already have frames!

I also did some looking on Etsy. I found some amazing items that I will have to be adding to my lifestyle very very soon....

This would be perfect for toting around the city in the summer, since I don't have a car and I carry way too much stuff around with me at any given time!
These are outstanding! I love that they screenprinted that adorable design. I have a vegetable bag already, but just one. I usually buy more than one type of vegetable when I'm at the store, so these would definitely come in handy.

Ok, I seriously cannot get enough of Yava Glass. They make drinking glasses out of old bottles. I actually already have a set of these Leninade glasses. They're so petite, so I don't use them often, but I still appreciate them and love bringing them out for special occasions! Trust me. These are a great investment! You might be the only one out of your friends with glasses full of communism! 
They also make all sorts of other glasses, too - Corona, Bawls, Red Stripe, etc! 

ok-- that's it for now! I hope you enjoy my finds, I know I do!! I hope to be doing this more often- it's always so fun!!