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Valentine’s Day Gifts

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, and what better way to express your affection than gifts from the heart? While grand gestures are wonderful, sometimes it’s the simple, thoughtful presents that leave a lasting impression. Here are three heartfelt and budget-friendly gift ideas that will surely make your Valentine’s Day special without breaking the bank.

Handwritten Love Letter

In the age of online everything, there’s something incredibly intimate about receiving a handwritten love letter. Take the time to put pen to paper and express your feelings in a heartfelt note. Share your favorite memories, the reasons you love your partner, or your hopes for the future.

A handwritten letter adds a personal touch that can’t be replicated by a text or email. Consider placing the letter in a decorative envelope or tying it with a ribbon for an extra romantic touch.

Customized Memory Jar

Create a personalized memory jar filled with cherished moments and shared experiences. Gather small pieces of paper and jot down memories, inside jokes, or reasons why you love your partner. Fold each note and place them in a decorative jar.

Your significant other can pull out a memory whenever they need a pick-me-up. It’s a sentimental gift that continually reminds both of you of the special moments you’ve shared. This gift not only reflects on your shared history but also looks forward to creating more beautiful memories together.

DIY Book

Gift your loved one a homemade coupon book filled with redeemable gestures. Include IOU’s for a homemade dinner, a movie night of their choice, or a relaxing massage. Personalize the coupons based on your partner’s preferences and the things they love.

This gift shows your commitment to spending quality time together. It also allows you to tailor the coupons to your partner’s tastes. It’s a meaningful and cost-effective way to offer your time and attention, making for a memorable Valentine’s Day.

Thoughtful and affordable gifts can be just as meaningful, if not more, than expensive ones. By putting in the effort to create something personal, you not only save money but also show your partner that your love is genuine and comes from the heart.

This Valentine’s Day, let your creativity and affection shine through these thoughtful, budget-friendly gift ideas.

For more inspiration or a travel idea for Valentine’s Day check out my travel website: KathyHusserTempe.net

 

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Family holidays kathyhusser Travel work

Weekend in New York

 

Looking for a holiday getaway or a quick trip in January?  A weekend in New York City might fill the bill as long as you dress warm!

Flights

To maximize our budget think about flying into a smaller neighboring airport such as Newark in New Jersey.  Even Long Island Airport in Islip is doable with the train station so close.  Planning your flight midweek or even on a Thursday will help with airfare and might be less crowded.

But even these days, my flights this year have all been full. Be prepared to have extra time checking in at TSA or think about signing up for Pre-Check or Clear to make security lines less of a hassle. (Some credit cards will also reimburse you for these and other services, so check with your card company.)

Sights of NYC

Be sure to secure your hotel or VRBO near a subway or train line. NYC’s mass transit system is one of the best in the United States.  Being within walking distance of Times Square, Central Park, and museums are the best “home bases” for your trip.

Plan your visits along the subway line so you don’t miss out on winter activities in New York. Ice skating at Rockefeller Center and the NYC Rockettes usually have audiences through January.  Don’t forget the standards such as The Metropolitan Museum or Museum of Modern Art for your art and history lovers. Lines might be long at MoMA, so check the website for hours and special events. At night with the Christmas lights is also a site to see and enjoy this time of year.

Food

 Dining options are everywhere in New York. From fast food pizza to fine dining, you will have your pick for any budget. If you’re only in NYC for the weekend, maybe one or two “nice” dinners at an Italian eatery. Then the next day, think about grabbing breakfast (some are still free) at your hotel or café to people watch. Asking the locals (at your activities) is one of the best ways to get reliable local restaurant and eatery recommendations.

Remember to be flexible with your travel companion and plans in general. You might want to think about extending a work trip to enjoy the sights.  More people than ever are traveling and patience is needed to navigate trips these days.

Just enjoy the memories, photos, and last-minute trip flying off to New York.  Travel is the best way to experience new places, people, and cultures…so enjoy!

For more travel inspiration check out: KathyHusserTempe.com

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careertips kathyhusser Travel work

My First Waymo Ride

 

Ever wonder what it’s like trying something totally new?  My first Waymo ride in a driverless car for work was wild and here’s why.

No Driver

Yep, the car got me from Point A to my home without a driver! The car maneuvered through traffic and “watched” for foot traffic (which can be challenging in Tempe near Arizona State University.) All six miles without a bump or hitch the entire drive. The car maintained the speed limit and was never “aggressive” like some people in vehicles can be.  Plus, all the stares from the other cars was hilarious since I was in the back seat!

Easy to Use

To locate a Waymo vehicle and have your ride arrive, install the Waymo app.  The app is similar to Uber or Lyft in that Waymo knows where you’re currently located and the address of where you want to go. Once paid, the app tells you how long the wait will be and your estimated time of arrival.

When Waymo arrives, driverless, you enter the code provided by the app to unlock the door and enjoy your ride. Easy to use for work or personal errands any time of day even during a late night.

The car takes over, and safely drives you to your final drop off spot. That’s it, except for that weird feeling of being out of control and anticipating traffic. The car’s multiple computer sensors detect obstacles and maps out other vehicles surrounding the car. The trip was uneventful and so convenient when you just “need a quick ride.”

Tempe, Arizona

I live in Tempe and Waymo, along with other companies, is piloting the driverless program here. The cars regularly “hang out” waiting to be called up in my neighborhood. I’m located next to Arizona State University, so I live in an urban hub with lots of activities, tourists, and students. Tempe is a perfect “testing ground” for this innovative technology that is being refined to go mainstream in time.

I think the main obstacle to overcome isn’t the technology or driverless ride, but rather people’s expectations. It’s difficult to change behaviors especially as something as emotional as driving and our love of cars.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 10 or 15 years and how this new industry is adapted.

For more living well, tips check out: KathyHusserTempe.com

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career Health kathyhusser Travel work

Health Retreats

Going on a health retreat by yourself can be a great way to take some time for yourself. You can focus on your physical and mental well-being. However, it’s important to do your research and choose a retreat that meets your specific needs and goals. Here are some things to look for when going on a health retreat solo.

The program

Make sure that the retreat offers a program that aligns with your goals. If you’re looking to lose weight, a retreat that focuses on yoga and meditation may not be the best fit. Also, if you’re looking to detox and cleanse your body, a retreat that focuses on clean eating is a better fit.

Location

The location of the retreat can have a big impact on your overall experience. If you’re looking for a peaceful and secluded retreat, consider a remote location. A location that is far from the hustle and bustle of daily life is a good match.  If you’re looking for a more active retreat, consider a location offering outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, or swimming.

The staff

The staff at the retreat can make or break your experience. Look for a program that has experienced and qualified staff who are dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. Read reviews and testimonials from past guests. These will give you an idea of the level of care and attention you can expect from the staff.

Accommodations

The accommodations at the retreat can affect your overall experience. Look for a retreat that offers comfortable and clean rooms that will help you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. Consider the type of space that best suits your needs, such as a private suite or a shared room.

Your Budget

Look for a program that fits your budget. Retreats can vary widely in price, so it’s important to find one that meets your financial needs. Keep in mind that a higher cost doesn’t always guarantee a better experience. Do your research…always!

Length of Your Stay

Look for a schedule that offers the length of stay that best fits your individual needs. Some retreats offer a day, a weekend, or a week-long program.  Consider the success (and joy) you’ve had on similar trips. You are the best judge to know your limits, so don’t push it.

Finally, look for a retreat that offers follow-up care, such as coaching or support groups. This is to help you maintain the progress you make during the retreat. Sustainable habits will last a lifetime and so will your memories.

Remember, taking care of yourself is a lifelong commitment. Your first health retreat can be an excellent step towards that goal.

For more living well, tips check out: KathyHusserTempe.com

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#kathyhusser Happiness Health kathyhusser library books Travel

Beach Reads 2023

As summer ramps up and vacation calls, it’s the perfect time to read a good book while lounging beachside. As a librarian, here a few “beach read” recommendations sure to please any reader.  Each title promises to transport you to different worlds and capture the heart of this summer season.

Strong Women

Dive into a story of love, self-discovery, and sandy shores with “The Summer of Lost and Found” by Mary Alice Monroe. The story is set in the enchanting coastal town of fictional Sullivan’s Island. This novel brings together the lives of three generations of women as they navigate their personal journeys.

With vivid descriptions of the beach and an exploration of family dynamics, this book is a perfect beach read. For those seeking an emotional and touching summer read about family, chose this story. 

Thriller

If you’re craving a suspenseful thriller, “The Woman in the Window” by A.J. Finn is sure to keep you riveted. Set in the bustling city of New York during a hot summer, this psychological thriller follows an agoraphobic woman. (She’s deathly afraid of going outside of her home.)

She believes she witnesses a disturbing event in her neighbor’s house. As secrets unravel and tensions rise, the story will keep you on the edge of your seat, turning the pages.

Hollywood Glitz

If you want a blend of romance, history, and exotic settings, “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” is for you.  By Taylor Jenkins Reid (author of Daisy Jones & the Six) this book is a must-read! A captivating novel taking readers on a journey through the glamorous and wild life of Evelyn Hugo a fictional movie star. With its rich character development and fascinating narrative, this book brings you into the world of Hollywood and forbidden love.

Self-Discovery

If you’re in the mood for a light-hearted and delightful summer read, “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman is an excellent choice. Meet Eleanor, a socially awkward woman with a strictly structured life. Join her on a heartwarming journey of self-discovery and unexpected connections.

This uplifting novel explores themes of loneliness, friendship, and the transformative power of compassion. This book makes a perfect companion for lazy days by the seaside.

No matter which book you choose for your summer adventures, find one that speaks to you. A book’s well-crafted story has the power to transport you to far-off places, stir your emotions, and leave lasting impressions.

So, grab your beach towel, slather on some sunscreen, and lose yourself in the pages of an enthralling summer read. Whether it’s a tale of romance, mystery, or self-discovery, these book recommendations are sure to boost your beachside bliss. Make your summer even more memorable and check out a book today from your local library!

Check out more summer reads from: KathyHusserTempe.com

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Health kathyhusser Travel

Travel Abroad

What brings you joy? What gets you up in the morning every day even when times are tough? Travel brings me joy, and here’s why it fills me with happiness every time, every trip.

New Experiences

As we get older you experience the highs and lows of life. As a wise soul once said, you can’t see the light without experiencing the darkness. You also find that one (or two) joys in life will fill you up, bring you light.  New experiences that bring me happiness, contentment, and joy involve traveling.

I don’t have to travel far.  Learning about historic waterfalls in my neighborhood was a fun and enjoyable bike ride. I just love learning and planning out my new experiences, which a good part of that involves seeing new places.

Solo travel

Recently, I’ve started enjoying my travels solo. Discovering new destinations on my own, has given me the freedom to see more and do more. I won’t let the lack of a travel partner hold me back. I plan the trip on my own, and have the flexibility to enjoy the location I want to see.

I’ve become a better navigator and risk taker, with solo travel too. Traveling gives me confidence to do even more in life. And now, I’m planning much longer trips in the future for summer and fall.

Photography

Traveling bring me joy afterwards with the photos and memories I bring home. I’ve become a better photographer through practice and a lot of trial and error. Enjoying the images from my trips, allows me to relive those joyful experiences.

Traveling feeds my photography hobby as well as and providing me great pleasure in discovering my next shot. Capturing landscapes during different seasons and my own flower garden photos to share, gives me another creative outlet.

Self-Reliance

Finally, planning and taking a trip on my own builds my self-reliance to do more and take more risks.  If you’re not growing, you’re not living. And I want to continue to grow, experience new countries and cultures and build new memories.

What will you be planning today?

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Travel for Work Can Be Fun

Traveling for work is fun.  It’s not the same as a vacation you plan, but there are many ways to enjoy and have fun while working hard.

Plan Ahead

Besides planning your work activities, be sure to plan the free time in between. Whether it’s trying a new place for lunch or walking a new park, plan for it. It’s tiring traveling, so planning even one activity that fits your work schedule will allow you to refocus. Exploring a new city is fun, so if work plans allow you, experience something new! Check out Expedia.com and country-specific or city tourism websites for recommendations and “must-see” sites.

Stay on Schedule

Whether it’s keeping to your workout routine or daily walk, be sure to stay on your normal schedule if possible.  This allows you the energy to handle time changes and jet lag, especially for overseas trips. If your job allows, plan a day before or after your work trip to allow your body clock to adjust.

Or you could also schedule more taxing meetings for later in the week, after your body readjusts to time differences. Bottom line, try and listen to your body and get rest when you’re able.

Extend your Stay

If work allows, extend your stay for leisure to explore a new city. On a work conference, leave early over the weekend, to get your bearings beforehand. Having a sense of the city before you need to navigate locations makes it easier when you’re on tight schedules. This is also a good time for your body to acclimate to the new time zone and readjust.

If you’re able to stay in the same accommodations as your work meetings, unpacking once is much simpler. Be sure to ask about hotel and airline points and take advantage of those perks and upgrades as well. It never hurts to ask. If you travel a lot for work, then your status will help you plan a leisure trip later more affordably.

Traveling for work is fun with the right attitude and planning! What trips are for planning this year?

For more travel inspiration check out my website: KathyHusserTempe.com

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Traveling for Work

With remote work popular these days and the latest airline mishaps in the news, traveling for work is more common. Here are simple tips to make work travel easy, fun, and something to look forward to every trip.

See the Sights

If you have a travel day before your work meetings, plan to see at least one city sight, something you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy either. A flower garden, city park, new shopping center, or art museum all will make your trip fun when you arrive.

Even planning a restful, calm evening in your hotel room with HBO is relaxing and allows you to destress. Plan to have at least one event on your “agenda” for yourself, and you’ll feel so much better!

Be Prepared

Allowing for extra travel delays is another simple way to make work travel easier. Make sure to always carry on your luggage. You will have to pack accordingly, to make a carry on last all week, but it’s worth it!  The time you save waiting for your bag, or not having your bag when you arrive is priceless.

Tip number two is always give yourself a day before your important work meeting, in case of flight delays. Airlines have become less reliable lately, so give yourself that extra time, just in case.

Save The Miles

If your company allows it, save those airline miles and hotel points. Using your frequent traveler programs for fun vacations throughout the year, makes traveling for work fun and more enjoyable.  Saving for a trip for Europe or Hawaii?

Using your banked miles will help not only the cost, but in some cases upgrade you. Enjoying a better seat on the plane or upgraded hotel room always makes vacation more enjoyable. Some credit cards also have travel insurance and other perks associated with their card for extra travel protection.

Finally, always have your passport, snacks, and your device chargers in case you are delayed in the airport. Be prepared for work and traveling takes confidence and the curiosity to enjoy your trips have fun too!  Safe travels!

For more travel tips and career advice check out my website: KathyHusserTempe.com

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Health Travel

Best Fall Hikes

As the leaves change and temperatures get cooler, what better way to celebrate than with a weekend fall hike. Here are the best areas for fall hikes to suit any experience level.  Give yourself a boost of autumn spirit and enjoy the great outdoors this autumn.

New England 

New England has such diverse landscape, starting in Maine (one of my “bucket list” vacations) and running the length of Connecticut. The four states in between are Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Every state offers up moderate to strenuous hikes near water or wilderness depending on your endurance.

An easy to moderate hike in Massachusetts loved by artists and nature lovers is Bish Bash Falls. Two miles to enjoy scenery and the biggest waterfall in the state! For a more challenging hike, Mount Mansfield in Vermont will give you breathtaking views near Lake Chaplain. The 6-mile roundtrip hike has been known to have the very best views in the state. With the elevation change be prepared with warmer clothes as you reach the summit and colder temperatures.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains have an abundance of wilderness trails mixed with amenities to make your fall excursion perfect for any age. Trails range from level walking paths to bike and board trails for all ages. There are also nature walks, to help you and your family identify plants and the surrounding wildlife easily. Finally, due to the elevation of the park, your hike can show you some of the best fall foliage near the East Cost of the United States.

Southwest Arizona

If you live in the southwestern region of the United States, you have many choices to experience the changing leaves. Enjoying the crisp fall weather is only a short drive away to northern Arizona. Sedona, Flagstaff and along the Mogollon Rim all have the advantage of being close the urban center of Phoenix. These towns offer some of the best nature walks with only a two-hour drive north.

Humphrey’s Peak Trail is considered an easy 4.5-mile hike reaching an elevation gain of about 3500 feet.  The highest point of the peak is 12,000 feet, so be aware of the elevation change and plan accordingly. Temperatures will also be much cooler when you reach the summit so for all hikes pack warm clothing and the appropriate amount of water and food.

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Travel

Fall Foliage

If you’re like me, I love the cooler weather that autumn brings. A quick weekend trip to refocus and rejuvenate is a healthy stress reliever too.  Finding the changing leaves and fall foliage are always a beautiful travel getaway, and you should plan now. Here are the best locations to see fall colors and the changing leaves near you. Be sure to enjoy those crisp, cool nights too!

Northeast United States

The most colorful spots to view the changing fall colors are listed on this map.  New England with its higher altitudes and much lower temperatures, compared to the rest of the United States, will bring out the reds, yellow and oranges in the hillside landscapes. Why do the leaves change? The chlorophyll breaks down in trees  due to the cooler weather. The green color in a leaf fades to make way for the bright autumn colors like orange, red, and yellow.

Be sure to plan your getaway between September 20th and October 11th for the very best viewing of colors changing near you.   Remember, the colors are at peak during early October and will vary by elevation and tree type. As you progress South, colors will be vibrant through mid-October.

State by State

A more comprehensive map by the Farmers’ Almanac encompasses all the states, for you to narrow down your travel plans. Even in my home state of Arizona, the leaves change in the Northern part of the state of Sedona and Flagstaff. These higher elevations are prime locations to view fall colors not seen on the desert floor of Phoenix.

National Parks

Our National Parks are also a terrific way to sneak in a fall break vacation with the kids and enjoy the changing seasons. 15 of the top locations for fall foliage are in National Parks.  Roads and amenities are still easily accessible for the most part, during the September and October timeframe. Take advantage of less crowded accommodations and campsites this autumn and make your trip to see Mother Nature in action!