Colour Palette: SunRoasted

Posted Leave a commentPosted in STYLE

I’ve always had a hard time centering in on anything – my inspiration, a set of colours for a project, a name for my style. I always have too many ideas, too many focuses.

Who would have thought that a weed could change that. Yes. A dried-up crispy weed I found on my hands and knees as I was manicuring trees for our second host family here in Australia.

I saw it and I felt like I needed it (so hippie, right?) and I carried it around with me practically all day gathering inspiration from it’s colours, until its fated end .

I pulled this amazing palette from it and appropriately named it:

Soon after its discovery, I took the sun-roasted weed to the beach with me in the afternoon. It’s normal to take a weed on a road trip and document it, right? 

It perfectly captures all the colours that have been swirling around in my head recently – it’s like when you have all of these thoughts and can’t put them into words until you hear a verse of a song and you’re like THATS IT. These are the colours. 

I’m using them as a big inspiration as I paint my very first mural. I’m so stoked! My biggest canvas yet.

I’ve been in love with colours for a long time – ever since I would skip recess in 4th grade to try out different color combinations of my Crayola markers on index cards. I still remember the moment I discovered pink and green. I became obsessed with the two paired together and that year for christmas, my mom found a pink and green striped shirt that I wore so much! But my love for colours has become more and more complex and it feels great to find something to focus on for a bit! 

I’ll be doing more of these (hint: the next one has to do with an old washing machine)!

I’ve been letting this palette influence my shopping and I have to let you in on a little secret – the light green colour, dubbed “celery” by the professionals is the colour of the season! I’m drooling just picturing celery-coloured corduroy pants that I’m sure don’t yet exist. So keep an eye out for the unexpected colour!

I hope you aren’t fooled by the mundane nature of things – mundane things can also be the most powerful. Makes me think of this reflection I penned in Prague. 

I hope you find your weed!

Later Alligators ~Ally

on resolutions…

Posted Leave a commentPosted in INSIDE OUR BRAINS

New Year’s Resolutions. You know. Those things you probably wrote on a piece of paper. Somewhere. Last year. And could probably bet that that paper is hopefully in recycling but honestly probably in a landfill somewhere. Do you even remember them?

You think, oh well it’s a nice ritual in mindfulness.

Well, guess what. I’ve cracked the code.

24 years into resolution making (okay, let’s make it 20 as my first years were much more focused on eating and peeing and maybe finger painting, oh a definitely drawing with a Sharpie on my parents’ snow white couch).

Let me tell you about last year…

I was pretty bummed about having to experience the clock striking twelve on a big stage instead of in the arms of my handsome boyfriend reliving the one new year’s eve we spent together in 2013…but nevertheless,

I chanted onstage in front of a big, dark audience and then got a champagne and confetti shower courtesy of the bar staff at the venue…he met me on-stage and we shared a close-enough-lipstick-everywhere 2018 kiss 🙂

Then we went to meet our friends at “Bar Coming Soon” to which I was very confused and kept waiting for the name of the bar to be messaged to me, but alas it was “Coming Soon” and just as we were leaving, calling it a night after a fulfilling dance party, I went to the bathroom and saw a huge vase of fresh flowers just sitting on the ground next to the toilet:

And I thought: “That must be the greatest thing of all time.” So there it was.

My resolution of 2018: More fresh flowers in bathrooms.

That was it. It was a peanut next to the elephant of resolutions I’d sat down to write on a mysterious disappearing paper all years before.

And it worked. I was buying clearance flowers from the grocery store in Prague and sticking them in old beer and soda bottles. Then I took a pottery class and made my own little vase for the bathroom! Now, here in Australia, I took his beer can, removed the label, hand-crushed it, picked some wildflowers and rosemary and stuck it in our little outhouse:

So here’s my resolution revelation:

A new year’s resolution should be something fun. Something simple that brings joy to your everyday life. We’re constantly morally aware of self-improvement so why do we need to pressure ourselves to self-improve on January 1st? Let’s pressure ourselves to do something more enjoyable, why don’t we?

Just 1 simple thing. Not 2. Seriously. Just 1. No need for analysis or forethought, though reflection is never bad. I’ve already got mine for next year and I’ll be starting to fulfill it a little early…

Paint more things in 2019.

I’ve been commissioned to paint a mural here in Australia by our current host and I am so in my element! I’ve always dreamed of painting a mural! Next up, I’ve got a big 3-D object on wheels to paint! Any guesses?

Later alligators and happy new year ~AL

The View from the Toilet, among other things…

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in EUROPE, INTERIORS, PHOTO ALBUMS

We’ve been staying in a shipping container with an outhouse for the last month! It feels good to have some time in one place and our host family is really amazing… I’ve decorated a bit for the holidays and in keeping with my new year’s resolution of 2018, here is the view from the toilet:

The view from the front porch:

The view from the “kitchen”:

The view from putting your chin on a side table:

The view from the window:

The view from “my bladder is about to explode”:

The view from outside looking in:

The view from putting your belly on the driveway:

The view from the outhouse at night:

The view from the river out back:

I don’t want to forget… going outside with a flashlight to pee at night…no wifi and barely any service…savouring access to the first full-length mirror in two months…being attacked by the resident rooster…christmas in summer.

Happy holidays from the beach to you!!!! Appreciate the time with your family if you get it – this will be my third Christmas overseas (I can’t believe I thought it would only be a year!) and it reminds me that this life is absolutely a huge trade-off. A big choice. 

Happy Holidays from Australia,

Ally

Odd Jobs in Aus

Posted Leave a commentPosted in AUSTRALIA, MONEY, TRAVEL TIPS

So what are we doing for work in Australia? After the unfortunate car incident, we’ve had to make money a lot quicker than planned. I was so nervous about pulling almost all of our money to buy a second car but with our lifestyle of doing Workaways here, there are no immediate expenses. I can live off of $50 for almost a week and take myself on a little excursion to a coffee shop if I want to. Crazy. My idea of finances has gone totally out the window – in a good, mind-opening way.

Okay, back to jobs. Everyone is always so curious about what we have done for work the past 3 years living continents away from America. Because everyone is so worried about money. Guess what? You figure it out…

To be honest, I had been scared of the “farm work” that everyone talked about in Australia. It is actually the most likely path for a backpacker looking to earn on a Working Holiday visa in Australia.

Now, I am really good at “nature-sucking-up” – this is my very own version of swallowing my tongue when it comes to sleeping/spending long periods of time outside. It’s not that I don’t enjoy and value the heck outta that time (sign me up for any camping trip), but I’m definitely not the most comfortable.

But, come to think of it, most things I’ve chosen to do in life (drop out of college, move to NYC alone, move to Prague alone, move to Australia with one backpack…) are not comfortable.

Anyways, I truly believe that I am not cut out for manual labor (insert an eye roll from Jim). BUT I knew that wouldn’t matter once we got to Aus. And then we lost most of our savings and work needed to be found. Fast.

Enter job #1: Fireweeding.

Literally bending down and pulling a bunch of cute little yellow flowers out of the ground. Repeatedly. For hours.

At our second Workaway, we were pulling these poisonous yellow flowers out of the ground, flower by flower, field by field. It’s all-day work. It was part of our Workaway duties, but when we found out you can get paid to pull these weeds for people, our lovely hosts rang a neighbor and we had our first job!!!

After our 5hrs of work at the Workaway, we’d walk up a huge hill to the neighbor’s property to pull his fireweeds and drive his old pickup truck for 4 to 5 hours. Ugh! It was quite the back-breaker but when you desperately need money, it isn’t as bad as it may seem 🙂 I was working on that whole think positively thing, so I took an opportunity to snap some photos and watercolour some words to put over them so I wouldn’t forget.

The best part about this fireweeding job was the discovery of lemonades – a fruit cross of an orange and lemon.

Our employer had lemonade trees and offered as many as we could carry. We carried a lot. 

After about 4 days of that, we were headed to our next Workaway. When we arrived, we told them the dreaded car story and our gracious hosts offered to take us over to an orchard nearby to inquire about some work. AMAZING!

Enter job #2: Farm work, orchard style

The next Monday, we were up before 6am to get ready for our first day on the farm. I was nervous. I really didn’t like the idea of heading to some place to get told to do some work for some amount of money. You would think I’d be used to all of the unknowns by now. It only took me a day’s work to find out that the dreaded farm work, in this case, is actually quite the opposite.

Picking, sorting and packing fresh plums and nectarines on a family run farm with a truly great family was not what I was expecting. I’m so glad. We’ve just finished up our three weeks there and have decided to stay with our current host family until Christmas at the begs and requests of their two boys. We’ve saved up enough money to do a bit of traveling and maybe we won’t even have to sleep in our car for a few nights of the holidays. Maybe 🙂

Yesterday, we had so many plums that we had to get creative…these maple-roasted plums were amazing over garlic butter pasta:

We have no idea what’s in store next, but that’s how we’ve gotten back on our feet in the lovely Australia. We’ve just decided on our plan for next year – and it involves a country that is, still, not America. 

I hope you realize that there are so many ways to live and support yourself and know that I’ve never once had a full-time job and it’s all good.

Later Alligators ~AL

P.S. Moving to Australia for a year as an American is SO easy and we’ve just found a country that is even easier! Stay tuned…

A Year Without an Address

Posted Leave a commentPosted in AUSTRALIA, PHOTO ALBUMS, WORLD TRAVELS

I like to shake things up. We’ve never lived without a permanent address, so why not challenge ourselves to doing it for a whole year! (yes, that is exactly how my brain works.

Pretty early on in the idea stage of Australia, we decided that our goal would be to remain “addressless” for an entire year.

We are two months in. We are constantly moving. Everyday is different. There are no plans. My preconceived notions of “stable finances” have gone out the window. 

It’s kind of like a 

P   E   R   P   E   T   U   A   L

The only true constant is our endless search for great CDs at “op shops” (Australian for “thrift stores”). Jim is especially good at combing every. single. cd. I’m still hoping for some Billy Joel to pop up!

Here is a day in the life. Just one. There won’t be another one like it. I love that.

We loaded the car up

and got on the road to find our ideal road trip weather: a slight drizzle.

We are in car #2 now. Neil the van is no more.

Meet Bud:

Our home is a station wagon.

We had a short drive to our next Workaway so we stopped off at some op shops and I insisted we stop at this free gallery of up-and-coming artists (my favorite kind of artist).

Followed by the most common thread of my entire existence abroad: “Maccas” (Australian for McDonald’s). I promise it’s waaaaay better than in America.

Next stop – this one was Jim’s idea – kill time at a mall. 

K-mart is my new favorite. It’s as close to Target as I can get here(and they have Target in Australia – it is NOT NEARLY the same. Tear.).

After a dinner of amazing pizza while being amazed at the fact that we hadn’t had pizza in a month, we got down to my least favorite part of this new life – finding a place to stop and sleep for the night. 

We don’t pay to sleep at campsites because money is tight and we’d rather spend it on anything else! We usually look for a parking lot that’s decently lit (this one was way-too-lit-all-night) and it’s a big bonus if there’s a public toilet nearby.

This spot was amazing, close to a bathroom and right by the sea! Basically the Hilton of sleeping in cars.

Everyone here is so health and environment conscious. We are loving it! Everywhere we park I can manage to find a running trail nearby and beets are such a common food here. It’s crazy! I’ll be sending out an update soon with a map of where we’ve been, a summary of what we’ve been doing, some photos I haven’t shared and what odd jobs we’ve worked. Sign up for my email list here if ya want in!!!

May you feel the joy of a carefree road trip today.

Later alligators ~AL

Eggs and Cars in Australia

Posted Leave a commentPosted in AUSTRALIA, WORLD TRAVELS

14 days ago we put all of our eggs in one basket. A big basket that looked really nice. And we made it even nicer excited to carry it around with all of our precious eggs. That basket didn’t just break. It is beyond repair and we’ve got egg yolks e v e r y w h e r e. 

We knew it would be a risk. Putting most of our mula into this new endeavor. But you have to take risks to get there. To the high up place where truly great things happen. Right? So we did it. Went for it full on. Not without research and caution and qualified help. But it was risk it or don’t do it at all.

So we bought a van. A van that we would fix up and turn into our dream home on wheels. We named him Neil. Neil Armstrong. We poured and poured into it. It felt so good. So exciting. Our first car. Our first home.

Now it is broken beyond affordable repair in a trailer park in a tiny town in Victoria, Australia. We are living in a broken down van in a trailer park. 

I’m sorry, WHAT?

The pretty sucky person that sold us this van could have totally ended everything. Our dream. Our Australian adventure. He took a lot. But after a lot of tears (on my part, duh) and creepy nights sitting on the side of the road with the hood popped in the middle of nowhere, we are going to keep moving. We are going to get out of this tiny town by scraping up everything we have, finding a cheap car and hoping it gets us to at least the next major city.

It’s not fun. And it’s not ideal. And it’s risky. But it’s what we want. To be free (we haven’t been this free since before Prague). And we can’t just let it go because of someone with really bad karma (I hope). So here we go. Goodbye Neil. If you’ve got any good vibes to send, leave them in the comments and we’ll happily soak them up!

If you feel like you can’t do what you want or need right now, just know that two weeks ago I never thought we could buy a car here, much less TWO. But if you just do it, it probably can be done, with some compromise of course. We won’t be leaving here in a van dreaming about how we’ll put a bed and kitchen inside. We will be happy to be back on the road. Working towards something better. Here’s hoping we’ll do just that.

 

Deep breaths. Stop crying Ally.

Later Alligators ~ Ally and Jim

The perfect morning.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

An I must have slept too long start.
Too long I thought because it was deep. sleep.
A breakfast plan rushed. Bad planning births excitement. anxious excitement.

Caramel intrudes into my mouth as I wonder
would a fruit filling have suited me better?
No remorse. A familiar wondering. Normal. 

A stroll.
Purposeless on purpose.

Boredom says hello.
Asks if it can come in.
I don’t remove the chain from the door.
But I open it.

I want to tell boredom to go awa-AH the library.
Free.
I go to read but I have to pee.
I have an expired membership. to the library
bathrooms. I don’t belong to this club anymore.

Out of order I see after
after. after I’ve trekked to the metro.

I am in that room.
I come there often. Pressure almost in my ears.
Frustration.
What did I do to be here
is written on all four walls.

But this time I keep the door open.
Walk out.
His former office is nearby. Bathroom. Free.
Pee.

I long for him.
Missing is good if you know when it will be found.

A morning of feet on the ground.
The mission a cosmetic I read about online.
My biggest splurge of the time.

Spend too much money with my contactless card.
With a mere touch is it really spent at all?

The bag closed with a sticker makes the price more worth it.
Fanciness.
According to the reviews I expertly scoured I will fall in love with it.

I can’t even care.
Worry about liking.
I am not allowed.
To walk into the room with doubt as a sound.

Later alligators ~Ally

P.S. If you’re curious about my inspiration/the behind the scenes of this poem, I posted a bit about it on Instagram today 🙂

THE PACT I MADE WITH MYSELF.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in EUROPE, Featured, INSIDE OUR BRAINS

In case you haven’t heard, we’re moving to Australia!!!

I’m currently sitting on my friend’s couch. I just slept on it. It is my last full day in Prague. My last load of laundry has air-dried (de they have driers in Australia?) and awaits being suffocated in a backpack. I feel ready.

Thinking back on my time in Prague, I remembered a little pact I made with myself over 2 years ago, on my very first night in Prague.

Now time travel with me….

It is my first night in Prague. I have just arrived, alone, hours before. I am alone in a flat. I have no Czech cash. I don’t even know the name for Czech currency. I do know how to say “how are you” in Czech but I’m told at the airport that no one says that here. I’ve quickly discovered that the places in my neighborhood do not take cards. I’m hungry but luckily I brought protein bars! SAVIOR. I eat a protein bar for dinner. I unpack my two suitcases. I pace around the flat and start to realize what I’ve done. You see, I only decided to move to Europe two weeks before. I knew that if i didn’t just do it I would give myself time to find excuses.

I started to panic just a little, thinking “what have I done?” I sat on my bed and said to myself:

“Ally you can do it for a year. You must stay for a year. You can do anything for a year. You made this decision. It’s done. You can make it a year.”

There was the pact I made with myself. 1 year in Prague. Deep breath.

It honestly took me another full day to go eat an actual meal. More protein bars. I found a grocery store, but even though Google told me they took credit cards, I was nervous so I only bought a banana and a big bottle of water. Day 2.

36 hours in, I met my temporary roommate for the month and some other fun people and I never EVER had to think about “fulfilling” that pact again. Not once. I am just now remembering it!

Now I’ve traveled alone to countries. Many countries. I know how to pull foreign cash from an ATM (LOL I really didn’t know that was a thing that didn’t cost you a crazy amount of money). Instead of moving to a country we’ve never seen, we’re moving to a continent we’ve never been to. This time it’s we. Jim and I. And I can’t wait to see what Australia has in store. We have no jobs and no concrete plans. We have a flight, a backpack each (I DIE) and 300 pounds of raw excitement. 

We plan to do a lot of documentation here because I already can’t wait to look back in 5, 10, 50 years and remember who I am today.

 

Dear future Ally and Jim,

You’re young and brave and you’re having so much fun and you have so many dreams and ideas and you’re about to make some more of them a reality. You are excited about touching down in Melbourne. You’re rich in energy and courage and poor in a lot of other things. You don’t let it stop you. You feel something big on the horizon.

 

Later alligators,

Ally

 

How we make money abroad.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in EUROPE, MONEY, TRAVEL TIPS

This is a pretty common question from people, usually people from my high school wondering how we got here from small town Texas 🙂 It’s not hard. I promise. You just have to do it. Stop talking about it. Buy the plane ticket. Get on the plane. Once you arrive, you figure it out. You have to and you do. Everyone has excuses. I had barely enough money to qualify for a Visa ($5,000 is a standard minimum), but I did it anyway.

Step 1: MOVE (+ visa research)

The move should be practically first on your to-do list. This may sound counter-intuitive, but with a foreign job people are looking to hire someone tomorrow, not once-you-buy-your-plane-ticket-and-pack-and-throw-a-goodbye-party. You need to be there and you need to have some kind of visa plan in action.

As far as visas go, just research it. We had to get the Australian visas before arriving and we had to get our Czech visas AFTER arriving. It all differs. We got our Australian Working Holiday visas all on our own before we went. It was easy. We couldn’t have gotten our Czech visas alone – the visa company we worked with did everything for/with us (paperwork, appointments) once we arrived!

Jim and I both found jobs easily in Prague. There are expat job pages everywhere! And we worked with a visa company to handle all of that complicated visa stuff. We got freelancer visas (“Zivnostensky list”) under the title of “English teacher” after we arrived – English teaching is probably one of the easiest ways to get your foot in the door of a non-English speaking country…

Step 2: Consider ESL and TEFL

TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language. You can get a TEFL certificate online or in-person. I recommend getting one in-person IN the foreign country you’ll live in. Then you can put it to use right away. That’s what I did and it was so easy! My school, The Language House TEFL*, had an in-house visa company and student housing for the month-long course so all I had to do was show up in Prague. I probably wouldn’t have moved abroad any other way.

Jim, on the other hand, didn’t ever get a certificate or anything TEFL related. It was his backup plan, but he found a tour guide job pretty quickly and never needed it!

Another great job opportunity for a native English speaker is proofreading. More about that below.

Step 3: Consider Online jobs and Search Expat Job Sites

Working from anywhere has major perks! I work online as an English teacher (you just have to have a bachelor’s degree to apply for this company. No teaching certificate required.) I have been teaching with VIPKID for almost 2 years – the money is good and the work is not difficult.

If you’re interested, sign up with my link or click here to find out more! I coach applicants through the interview process. Everyone I have coached through the interview process has gotten the job so far!

A lot of my American friends here got jobs through listings for expats too. Simple as that.

Step 4: Know about TransferWise!

Oh my gosh. If only I told you how much money I lost converting over to a new currency. Repeatedly. For almost 2 years. It’s horrible BUT now I’ve got it figured out. I cannot believe that this isn’t common knowledge. Reader, meet TransferWise. You’re welcome.

What is it?

TransferWise is an easy, cheap way to send money from one currency to another.

Example 1: My online job pays me in USD into my US bank account. To get that money into my Czech account, I send it with TransferWise. I get almost the exact current exchange rate! If you need to send money abroad, you can sign up with my link – they’ll waive your first conversion fee!

Example 2: You travel abroad and you’re visiting a friend. Transfer the money you want into their acct. They can pull it for you and you’ve got local currency without getting gipped at an exchange place.

TransferWise also has free “borderless accounts” (similar to a bank account). We just got one and within a day we had American, Australian and Euro “bank” details. They mailed us our own debit cards, too! We can transfer our money between almost any currency in the world at the current rate. 

I’m obsessed. That is all.

 

Now I know you really just want to know… what do Ally and Jim really DO in Prague?

JIM

Jim worked as a tour guide for his entire time in Prague. The pic above was taken on one of his bike tours!

Tour Guiding
You can become a tour guide in any country, believe it or not, and it has a great salary in the touristy season! Of course, you have to know something about the city and be willing to learn and research and then, well, you’re good to go. I know A LOT of Americans who are tour guides here in Prague.

PRO TIP: Spend a month in the city getting to know your way around. Contact tour companies about jobs a month before the tourist season in your country – they’re probably looking for extra help.

There are different kinds of tours too! Jim did bike tours by day and beer tours by night.

ALLY

I worked as an English teacher, proofreader and dancer while in Prague.

Teaching
I started out after the TEFL course teaching only private lessons – I would travel all over the city to meet kids, adults and families in their homes and offices to teach them English. It was cool to be able to get to know families personally and I taught the youngest female CEO in the Czech Republic!! But I got pretty tired of running around the city after one year, so I switched to online teaching with VIPKID part-time.

Proofreading
While I was teaching online, I was also proofreading. First for a law firm, then a local tech company. This was a pretty cool job. When the proofreading project ended, I went into online teaching full-time.

Dancing
It all started with a Facebook post about a burlesque audition. It was totally out of my comfort zone, but I figured I should at least try. I went. I got hired. I danced with a small, amazing group: The Brown Betties. I gained so much confidence as a woman. Then I got connected with Prague Burlesque through that small group. Went to an informal audition. Got hired. Did a weekly show at a beautiful theatre in Prague for 8 months. Got flown to Milan to dance. And I thought I’d never use my 8 years of dance training…

It is Unpredictable.

I never expected to be a dancer or proofreader. Jim never expected to be a tour guide. You can’t plan ahead to move abroad. You just have to do it. Worst case scenario, you aren’t able to get a visa/can’t find a job/don’t love the country and you fly back home. I had a bit of a rough start and made an impromptu pact with myself just a day after arriving. Then I stayed in Prague for over 2 years!!

Oh, and as for jobs in Australia, we have no plans and no clue. We’ve got a little bit of savings and a lot of excitement…

 Ask me anything 🙂

Ally

THE HAIRCUT INTERVIEW.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Featured, INSIDE OUR BRAINS

What is a haircut to him?

Meet Jim. The one formerly behind the lens and the text. Well a new adventure is creeping up (we’re moving to a continent we’ve never been to this September!!!) and I’ve decided this is a space I want to share… so say hello to OUR blog! A space for us to be creative, together and independently. Whatever we want. The goal is to not forget. To store memories. Now, back to our scheduled programming: Haircuts.

To her it’s a statement. A mental change manifesting physically. It is a silent message that isn’t to be understood, just recognized. It doesn’t have to be a HUGE statement or a HUGE change. The change could simply be: self-care. Confidence. That’s how I would describe my latest chop. But to Jim…

WHY DID YOU GET A HAIRCUT?

cuz I felt like it.

OKAY BUT WHY DID YOU REALLY GET A HAIRCUT?

because I wanted to have some different style.

HOW DID YOU FEEL AFTER “THE CUT”?

like a million bucks.

HOW HAS IT AFFECTED YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE?

it absolutely has not.

ARE THESE QUESTIONS ANNOYING?

yes.

Well that’s that folks. I really tried to pull more out of him, but I guess that’s the point I’m making here. I think that bird at the zoo had more to say 😉

I’d bet a gal would have some more to say…what say you?