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Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Letters #22

Happy Friday and Happy Almost February! 

Korea has been celebrating the Lunar New Year (similar to Chinese New Year), and Matt and I were lucky to have two days off from work, so we took advantage and headed over to Japan. 

I just wanted to write a little update and wish you guys a Happy Weekend! 

Dear GRE, Again- you've managed to take over my week. I can see this is going to be a trend for the the next 6 months. Boo- I just wish I could see a little improvement in my Math...

Dear Sochi Winter Olympics, I am so excited for you. I am ready to get my Olympics on! 

Dear Lunar New Years, Thanks for giving us a couple of days off. I am sure we are loving Japan. And I can't wait to eat these lovely treats my director gave us. 

Happy Weekend Everyone. I can't wait to share our Japan trip with you guys. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What's in Your Carry-On?

Tomorrow Matt and I will be getting on a plane to Japan!!!! Yay! I'm excited, can you tell? 

The one downside to traveling is the packing. I can't stand packing. You would think that after all the moving around I have done in the past few years I would be used to it, but I'm not. I still really don't like it. But I do have a few things that I always like to travel with. 

I thought I would share what goes into my carry-on. Maybe this list will help you, or maybe just give you a little more insight into my travel life. 

For Japan, we are not checking any luggage since our trip is a pretty quick, so this carry on list is a little longer than if we had checked our luggage. 

Matt and I both have our travel day packs that we will keep our clothes and such, and then we will be using our 'personal' item bags as well. 

I've divided this list into categories that should help you with organization. 

Camera and camera charger 
SD cards (we bring a few with use just in case something happens) 
Kindle and charger 
Phone and charger 
Tripod and Remote

Personal and Entertainment
Babushka (my blanket- it goes with me on every trip I take) 
Skip Bo (the game is small enough that it doesn't take a lot of room up, and it provides a little entertainment for us at the airport, in our hotel room, etc.) 
Ear Plugs 
Make- up* (I usually carry on at least enough for a good touch up after flights, and then check the rest of it in my regular luggage) 
Cardigan or Sweater, Socks, and Scarf - I like to have these on all flights just in case it's cold 
*If I have the room I'll throw in a paperback book and/or a magazine just in case my Kindle dies 
*On long flights I bring my own pillow 

Chapstick (at least two) 
Shampoo/ Conditioner (usually would be checked)
Bath Wash (usually would be checked) 
Face Wash 
Face Wipes
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Face and Body Lotion 
Antibacterial Wipes and Gel 
Contact Case, Solution, and Extra Pair of Contacts 
Tampons (You know... just in case) 
*As most of these are liquids, these go into the quarter size bag for security. This might seem like a lot of toiletries to bring on a carry-on, but I believe in being as comfortable as possible. I like to brush my teeth during long flights and after flights. I like to wash my face, and I like to make sure I have plenty of stuff to wipe the areas of my seat down. 

Cold Medicine 
Pepto Bismol 
Allergy Pills
Daily Meds
*Again, most of this is just in case. I just bring enough to last for the trip and it all fits in a nice small bag. 

Small Notebook (for budget keeping, emergency contact info, and keeping notes while on the trip) 
Hard copy of tickets and any rental or reservation confirmations 
Passports and ARC cards 
Travel Book if necessary 
Cash (depending on the trip length depends on the amount of cash I have on hand) 

Well, I pack a little of whatever is easy. This all depends on the length of the flight, and I always account for the time it will take me to get from the airport to my next meal. :) I hate to be without a little snack. I go for things like trail mix, fruit snacks, goldfish, granola bars, etc. 
I also always get a water right after security. I get at least 1 liter. 

And that's the basic list. I know that seems like a lot, but it really isn't! It's all about the size of the items you  bring, not the quantity.  Sometimes I carry more, sometimes less. It all depends on the trip I am making.  All of the items listed above fit perfectly in my personal item bag that way my 'carry on' larger bag is free for my clothes or whatever else I need to carry on my flight. 

I really hope this helps when you go to pack your carry on for your next flight! 
Wish me luck in Japan! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Powerscourt: Travel Tuesday

Last week, I shared the little town of Enniskerry, Ireland with you guys and I mentioned Powerscourt Estate

Today I want to share a few pictures from Powerscourt Estate. During Thanksgiving break of 2009, my friend and I headed over to Dublin for the holiday weekend. During our trip, we decided to visit Powerscourt Estate. Powerscourt was where the 2002 version of The Count of Monte Cristo, one of my favorite books and movie, was filmed, so of course we needed to go. 

Powerscourt is only about 30 minutes outside of Dublin, and it's really easy to get to. We took a city bus to Enniskerry and then walked the rest of the way. 


Powerscourt is filled with about 800 years of history, going back all the way to the 13th century. The land that Powerscourt stands on today was once the place of medieval castle owned by the Le Power Family, which is where the name 'Powerscourt' comes from. In 1603, Richard Wingfield was granted the castle by Queen Elizabeth as a reward for his military achievements. The Wingfield family remained at the estate for 350 years. 

In 1730, the 1st Viscount Powerscourt commissioned Richard Castle to build Powerscourt House- a 68 room mansion. This was completed in 1741. In 1974, a fire destroyed the roof and all of the principal rooms. The estate was restored and reopened in 1996. (Source)

There is tons to do at Powerscourt. There are the gardens, ballroom & garden rooms, Powerscourt Waterfall, Garden Pavilion, and more. We took a tour through the gardens and that alone took a couple of hours. 

Here are some pictures from the day. 

 {If you've seen The Count of Monte Cristo, this should look familiar to you.} 

{One of my favorite parts of the tour was the Pet Cemetery. Some of the grave markers were pretty intense.} 

Although the estate isn't open on the inside, it's still worth a trip. We went in the Fall and it was beautiful, so I can't imagine how wonderful it will be in the spring. 

Hours- 9:30am- 5:30pm 
Gardens Entrance Fee*: Adults 6.50, Students: 6.00, Children 3.50, Children under 5 Free! 
Family Tickets (2 adults and up to 3 children) 18.00 Euro 
Waterfall Entrance Fees: Adults 5.50, Student: 5.00, Children 3.50, Children under 5 Free! 

*Reflective of the Winter Rates 
(For more info go to the website!) 

{Linking up with Bonnie

Monday, January 27, 2014

Favorite Things: January

The last few weeks I have come across a few wonderful things that I really want to share with you guys. Some things that I think will brighten your day. And let's be honest, on Mondays, who doesn't need a little brightness to their day? 

So, without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things. 

The Civil Wars 

I know I talked about them last year, but I recently purchased their newer album and I completely love it. Here is a video of one of my favorite songs from the album. 

The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down by Andrew McCarthy 

About six months ago, my dad recommended this book to me. I bought it right away, but it took me about 5 months to get around to reading it. And I really enjoyed it. This book is all about Andrew McCarthy finding his way home and being able to settle with his family. Andrew was a member of the 'Brat Pack' and started in movies such as Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo's Fire. The book takes you to the Amazon, Patagonia, Costa Rica, Killmanjaro, and a couple other wonderful places. For a good review of the book click here. I really did love this book. 

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed 

This was another recommendation from my dad, and again I took a long time getting around to reading it. I bought it at the airport in San Francisco right before my flight to Korea, and still I didn't start reading this book until a few weeks ago. I'm about about 3/4 done with the book and to be honest I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love it, and I think you should read it, but it's hard for me to read. Similar to McCarthy's book, this book is all about finding yourself and 'coming home'. At times the things she shares are heartbreaking and frustrating, but it's completely honest. And that's why I've stuck through the book, and recommend it to you.  

Honey and Lace 

In love! This on-line store has the most amazing maxi and pencil skirts. I can't wait to order a few for the spring season. Since I don't really wear pants all that often, I like to get a few new skirts every once in a while, and this season I think I'm going to go with Honey and Lace


Pen and Paint -Etsy Shop 


Seriously, how beautiful! I encourage all of you to hit up her shop and order something. I know I will be pretty darn soon. 

Rifle Paper Co. {Shop link here}

I was searching around the other day and came across a wonderful paper company. Rifle Paper Co. has an amazing selection of cards, stationary, prints, and calendars. 

And there you go- a few of my favorite things. What do you think? 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pay It Forward

Last night, I was flipping through Facebook when I came across a post from an old friend from my BYU Hawaii days. 

Here is what the post said: 

To start this year in a loving way, I'm participating in a pay-it-forward initiative: the first 5 people who comment on this status with "I'm in" will receive a surprise from me at some point during this calendar year - anything from a book or a ticket to something homegrown or handmade, a postcard, absolutely any surprise. There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something I believe would suit you and make you happy.
These 5 people must make the same offer in their FB status. Copy this text to your profile (don't share) so we can form a web of connection and kindness.
Let's do more loving things for each other in 2014, without any reason other than to make people smile and show that we think of each other. Here's to a more enjoyable, more friendly and love-filled year.


How completely wonderful is this?!? This is exactly the positivity that I need in my life right now. I added my comment to her post, and I copied and pasted on my Facebook page. And then I thought why stop there? 

I want to bring this project over to the blogging world. I encourage all of you to join in this Pay-It-Forward initiative. 

If you want to participate, here's what you do: 

The same rules as above will apply for the blogging world. {I've changed a few of the words around for those that want to post it on your own blog!} 

To start this year in a loving way, I'm participating in a pay-it-forward initiative: the first 5 people who comment on this post with "I'm in" will receive a surprise from me at some point during this calendar year - anything from a book or a ticket to something homegrown or handmade, a postcard, absolutely any surprise. There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something I believe would suit you and make you happy.
These 5 people must make the same offer in a blog post of their own. Copy this text to your post and let the giving begin.
Let's do more loving things for each other in 2014, without any reason other than to make people smile and show that we think of each other. Here's to a more enjoyable, more friendly and love-filled year.

Your Pay-It-Forward acts can be any size you want. The whole point is to give back to others- there is no price tag. Don't let budget stop you from participating! It's the thought that counts with this. I hope you guys are with me on this. I think this could be an amazing thing if we work together and use our blogging connections to get this initiative out! 

*Note: For Our Lives Are An Open Blog, this is open to both international and domestic readers! Don't let your address stand in the way of leaving me lovely comments. :) 

Happy Weekend! 

If you want to share your participation through Twitter (@afahey14) or Instagram (afahey14) make sure to tag me and use #payitforward 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Letters #21

Happy Friday Y'all. TGIF, am I right? 

I need to start my letter my first addressing you guys. So, Dear Readers, I am sorry I have been neglecting my blog in the last few weeks. It first started as a combination of writer's block and just a lack of wanting to write. For the first time since really starting this blog, I have not wanted to write. I would try to think of ideas and just be stuck, or I would go to write and just find myself lacking the drive. Then last Monday when I got the news of the death of my cousin, I just didn't want to do anything. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to go home. I definitely didn't want to write. This week it got worse. My goal for this next week is to be a bit better about writing. I think I will focus on writing 3 posts a week and work myself up. I got a little burnt out trying for 5-6 in the past. Again, I'm sorry for not being consistent. 


Dear Eli, Abuela, Sophia, Grandma Fahey, Nana Earl, and Nana Drake, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! January is full of birthdays in our family. Our nephew, Eli, celebrated his first birthday on the 9th, and our niece, Sophia, celebrated her 9th on the 21st. Happy Birthday everyone! We really wish we could be there celebrating with each and everyone of y'all. 

 {Eli with his Red Ryder Wagon we got him for his birthday} 

 {Sophia got an American Girl doll for Christmas, so we got her some PJs for her doll} 

{Even though we are far away from our family we still like to make sure we give everyone some birthday love. For both Eli and Sophia we made an Instagram video singing Happy Birthday.} 

Dear GRE, You are for sure killing me. (This is probably part of the reason I haven't been writing as much lately.) Matt and I will be taking this test in June, and we have a lot to study before then. I've been studying at work, at home, on the bus... study study study! 

Dear Japan, I am so excited this trip is so close! I can't believe we will be in a different country this time next week! 

Happy Friday. Have a great weekend. 

Love, Alex 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Enniskerry, Ireland: Travel Tuesday

Happy Tuesday everyone! Today, I'm going to share a little town in Ireland with you. 

I visited Enniskerry back in 2009 when I was on my way to Powerscourt Estate (which I'll share with you next week). Enniskerry is a small little village about 15 miles outside of Dublin. Before coming to Ireland, I had no idea that Enniskerry existed. My friend and I just happened upon it because we were going to the big estate in the area. 

Like many places in the United Kingdom, this village or town center was absolutely perfect. 

If you are planning on traveling to Powerscourt, which I think you should, you will most likely pass through Enniskerry. The Dublin city buses drop you off in the town center, and then you walk up to the estate. On our walk, we were greeted with these beautiful views. 

While I love living in Korea, there is nothing as beautiful to me than a small little village and some green UK countryside. Nothing really compares for me. 

{Linking up with Bonnie

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Letters #20

This letter is going to be a little different. It's not really a letter. 

This week has sucked. This week made me doubt our decision to move to Korea. To be far away from family. When we made the decision to move to Korea, we knew we would miss things. We knew birthdays would pass, weddings would take place, and babies could be born without us being able to be there for these occasions. We thought we knew what we were giving up, but I guess we didn't really completely understand. 

 Early Monday morning, I was awoken by Matt telling me my mom needed to Skype because something had happened. It's the thing that you never want to happen. It's the news that you never want to get. And yet, it happened. Sunday evening, or our Monday morning, my cousin passed away. 

Greyce was 26 and fought a battle against Cystic Fibrosis every day of her life. 

Cystic fibrosis is "an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that- clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food." {Source}

Greyce and I became cousins when we were ten and my mom married Greyce's uncle- now my Barry Dad. I still remember the first time we met- I was so excited to be gaining a cousin that was my own age! We ate ice cream in the carport of our Nana and Papa's old house and talked and talked. This was also the first time I heard of CF and what it meant to live with the disease. With Greyce's bowl of ice cream she also had a handful of pills to take. During our ice cream, she patiently explained CF and what it meant in her life. Greyce was an amazing woman, and I'm so thankful to have had her in my life for the last 15 or so years. 

See the thing about living in Korea is it's not actually that easy to get back to the states. There's all this tax info that I don't quite understand. There's the fact that it takes about 20 hours to get back to Georgia.  There's the fact that tickets are about $1600 on a good day. Or that I don't have vacation days like I did in Hawaii. As much as I wanted to fly home right away and be with family to give comfort and to be comforted- it was not possible. And that's what makes me so mad about our decision. I love Korea, but does it have to be so far away? I love traveling and adventuring, but does it have to take me away from family? Was this the best decision for us? Is Korea worth it? These questions are what I am struggling to get through. This week I've been struggling with loving Korea. Struggling with being an expat. Struggling with accepting that Greyce is gone. I know without a doubt that Greyce is in a wonderful place, and I know that she is feeling better. That she is healthy and can take a deep breathe and she can be free of hospitals and doctors and medicine and whatever else she's lived with. But I also know I am sad and her family back in the states is sad. 

Dear Greyce, I miss you. I am sad you have left, but so happy you are in a place of comfort and love. We love you! Aloha 'oe- Until we meet again. 

For those that are interested in learning more about CF or how you can help click here

If you are interested to donating to the CF Foundation- here is the info:

CF Foundation 
In Memory of Greyce Leake
2302 Parklake Dr., NE
Atlanta, GA 30345 

You can also make donations on-line

{I've debated on whether to share this or not, but as most of my readers are family and/or friends I wanted to explain how I'm really feeling. I feel it would be dishonest to not mention bad days here in Korea.} 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

2014 Travel Plans

For us, 2014 is exciting because we have lots of travel plans in the works. Here are a few places we are planning on visiting. Now, we might not get to all of these, but we plan on hitting up most of these. Some months we have some options to where we could go, but it depends on which destination is the cheapest! 

Alex and Matt's 2014 Travel Plans 

Kyoto, Japan 


Osaka, Japan 


Boseong Tea Fields- Korea


Cherry Blossom Festival- Korea 


Jeju Island- Korea


Taipei, Taiwan 










Tokyo, Japan 


We also have a lot of day trips planned, but for now I think our list is pretty good. What do you think? 

What are your travel plans?