Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Blogs are New Places, too.

I thought it would be a good idea to share a couple blogs that are up and coming and helped to fuel my urge to write again. Funny thing is, they're both beauty blogs, completely distant from the adventure theme of my own blog. Needless to say, this connects very well with the "little old me" concept of this blog (do you like how I've said blog in every sentence so far?), as I'm a very simple-minded girl when it comes to fashion and beauty. Nonetheless, I will log this in as a new adventure for me ;)

The first blog is called Yummi Beauty, written by a close friend of mine, Jennifer De La Rosa. It's comforting, to say the least, having a friend testing and reviewing beauty products that I usually opt out of trying on my own. Her tested products range from makeup to hair needs, and vary in price as well.  An added plus to her blog: FOOD. If you're hungry, you probably should wait until you've had a bite to eat before you take a peek at her blog because she has tons of pictures of the food adventures she's been on!

The second blog is the beauty department, created by three wonderful ladies, one being Lauren Conrad, a trusted fashionista spotted on tv and anywhere else fashion is! I love how these three ladies join forces to tackle all the simple hair, makeup and beauty dos that many of us are usually hesitant to try. Tutorial videos are an added plus and I'm already inspired to try a few of their suggestions (I know how to correctly curl my hair while using the clamp!). Definitely a website to check out if you need the encouragement or ideas to try something new!

Anyways, stay tuned for my own adventures into the beauty world - I'm sure I'll have some new things to show you ;)


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Libraries are for the Rainy Days

My real spring break began when I came home from Cancun, so I planned on catching up with my family and friends. On Tuesday, I took the time out to visit my friend, Jen, in Bolingbrook. Although I wished the weather cooperated a little more, it was the perfect day to visit the new library in her area.

The Fountaindale Public Library is a new addition to the Bolingbrook area and stands an amazing three stories tall. For a reading enthusiast like me, seeing large and modern libraries such as this one remind me how the interest of reading is still alive for many people.  The best part of this library, though, is the first floor because it is dedicated solely to children. As an English teacher, I am constantly trying to find new ways to encourage students to read and to further their learning and answer their own questions through their own research.  The Fountaindale Public Library shows its support for the youth by displaying the young readers section right on their first floor.

 The entrance to the children's area

Reading areas fully equipped with over-sized bean bags! Encouraging a relaxing environment for children.

Need to take a break from reading? Why not keep your brain going by playing on one of eight game boards.

I loved the creative touch to the decorations on this level - lots of visuals not just at a child's eye level, but also below and above it.

Inspiration and encouragement doesn't just come from the books.

Not only does this library showcase a great selection of books, audio books and other media for children of all ages, it also does the same for adults and students on the next two levels.  Fully equipped with computer labs on the first and second floors (including touch screen monitors for the children's library), this library definitely gives readers tons of options to choose from when looking for something to peruse. One last great plus about this library, as well as for other new libraries popping up in suburban areas surrounding Chicago, is their self check out computers found near every exit on every floor.  This is a great addition to all library systems, as it gives library goers the option of independence and also gives the librarians more time to assist others in finding and learning more about books.

I was definitely inspired on my trip to the Fountaindale Public Library and wished I could own a library card for this area so I could try out the self check out - not to mention, their access to electronic reader book rentals!  I hope the City of Chicago can take a leaf out of the new libraries springing up in the area, though I doubt a move to a more modernized feel for our libraries will happen any time soon.  Needless to say, we'd have to add libraries to the long list of things to fix!

Till the next adventure!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When it's Cold, Look for Warmer Places

Greetings! Welcome to my new blog, The Adventures of Rowie. After taking a long hiatus from a more personal blog, I've decided to hone in on one of my many interests and share it with the blogging world: exploring. This blog will not only showcase places and faces from anywhere life takes me, but it will also challenge me to explore new places and experience new things. More on that later!

My most recent adventure seems to be the appropriate kick off to this blog: Cancun, Mexico. Though it's right below the U.S. of A., this was my first trip down south to the wonderful country. Throughout my week long visit, I found myself comparing Cancun to my travels in the Philippines, where my parents are originally from. The culture is so rich everywhere you go even though Cancun and many other states in the surrounding area rely on tourism as their number one industry.  The people were friendly and it was great seeing just how diverse the tourist population was - I sat next to a traveler from Australia during lunch at Chichen Itza who does some serious traveling on his off time (definitely a future goal for me, too!)!  Here are some highlights:

La Isla Mall and The Interactive Aquarium:
Because we stayed at the Westin Lagunamar, we had the luxury of having La Isla Mall right across the street from us. Because the main objective of this trip was to get away from the cold weather of Chicago and to relax in the sun and water, we weren't very motivated at first to travel far from our hotel. Needless to say, this mall had much of what we needed: good eats, a mixture of international fashion stores AND... (the clincher for me) a fantastic dolphin show! It's amazing how many places in Cancun let you swim with the dolphins, and La Isla Mall was no exception. Though we saw people getting lifted by the dolphins, I fought my urge to dish out the money and opted for the show instead. Definitely wasn't disappointed. The two dolphins in the show were so energetic and enthusiastic that you couldn't help but be awed for every moment of the 20 minute show. The best part (as seen in the picture) is when one of the trainers rides on the back of the two dolphins and then they launch him in the air, flipping, to reach the big red ball 20 feet high!  For $9, including time to look at their aquarium area (fully equipped with sharks, sting rays, crocs, turtles and more), this excursion was definitely worth it.

The Lagoon:
The hotel strip (Kukulcan Blvd) was set up like this: on the east you had the ocean and the hotels, then it's the main road, and then on the west there are malls/restaurants/docks and the lagoon. If you want to experience a breathtaking view of the sunset, you can see it almost every evening from the lagoon side. Most of the restaurants sit right on the lagoon so you can enjoy dinner outside in the calm of the evening.

Chichen Itza:
After lots of recommendations and research on things to do in Cancun, it seemed almost impossible to go through my first Mexico experience without taking a visit to the Mayan ruins, Chichen Itza. The history in this area is amazing, and I'm glad that many of the assumptions about the Mayan culture were debunked and clarified during the tour there. Though some of the human sacrifices sounded extreme, it seems as if (according to our tour guide) the Aztecs took the sacrifices to a higher level than the Mayans! One of our tour guides was also a pure Mayan descendant, so if you were thinking that the inhabitants totally disappeared hundreds of years ago, you would be wrong, like me. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to walk up the ruins, as they stopped doing this three years ago due to accidents and vandalism on the inside of the temples.

The Westin Lagunamar and the Beach:
The resort we stayed at was wonderful: everything from the one bedroom suite to the tiered set of infinity pools made our stay relaxing and enjoyable. Though the pool was large and fun to play in, I spent most of the time at the beach since it was only a few steps away. The water was refreshing after laying out in the sun and it had the added plus of ginormous waves! Usually I'm scared to play in large waves, but the water stayed shallow for a far distance, so you could safely get to an area where you could float in the ebb and flow of the ocean. Perfect!

Although my adventure to Cancun was miles away, I'm hoping I can find new places and adventures within my fabulous city of Chicago. Spring has continued to toy with our minds, but a true Chicagoan knows that we really only have two seasons: winter and summer. And summer is right around the corner! Stay tuned for some sunny adventures by me, Rowie ;)