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Road Tripping is For Lovers

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Is it, though? I mean really

Admittedly, my husband and I prefer the open road to the confines of a cramped flight, but we have been known to let our true colors shine right on through from time to time. 

We've argued over where to go, when to go, when to stop, where to stop, whether or not our GPS is correct (I swear I'm smarter than that woman. Spoiler alert: I'm not.), what music to listen to and the temperature at which air conditioning is necessary. 

That said, we love a good adventure. We'll be packing up to drive to Glacier National Park in Montana soon and I can't help but think back to our past trips together. While there's always a chance for disagreements on the road, we've truly enjoyed more hours talking, laughing, singing (me, mostly) and marveling at the sights than we've spent bickering. 

We've learned that we're both fairly opinionated (okay, we've actually known that for over 10 years) and that compromise is key. We pack snacks so I don't get hangry (shut up... it's a real thing) and we compile playlists from both of our music collections. I give fair warning well before I have to stop to use the restroom and he gets control of the GPS.

I've found that learning about one another is the best side effect of traveling as a couple. Road tripping, in particular, allows for a slower pace and more time to both listen and speak. We've chatted about things that would have never come up if we weren't traveling. It's as though the open road leads to a more open mind.

So, I say yes: road tripping is for lovers. It's for friends and family. It's for those who don't mind alternate routes and cheesy road-side attractions. It's for people who can navigate around the occasional disagreement. Best of all: it's an incredible opportunity for long chats, the sharing of ideas and a whole lot of laughter.

You can see more of our Montana road tripping adventures here and here.

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Anyone out there have a favorite road trip story to share? What about the open road makes your true colors come right on out and shine?


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Cover to Cover: Submerge Magazine

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If you've been living in (or visited) Sacramento over the past several years, you've probably come across Submerge Magazine. The magazine, which is printed on good old fashioned paper, is what I like to call an anti-glossy publication.

You know what I'm talking about, right? When you thoroughly enjoy an article and then reach for your cup of coffee to find newsprint stains on your hands? Yeah, it's that type of publication... and I love it. Submerge comes out every other week and covers everything happening in the Sacramento region -- from music and art to food and style.

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I had a chance to ask the founders, Jonathan and Melissa a few questions about the magazine and, lucky for us, they were super candid!

Let's dive right in, shall we?

Q) For those who are just being introduced to Submerge Magazine, how would you characterize the publication? What can people expect to find between the front and back covers?

A) Submerge is an arts and entertainment publication available for free every other week all over the Sacramento region. We feature interviews, previews and reviews based around the music, art, comedy, fashion and food happenings in our region. People can expect national coverage blended with regional coverage. So in any given issue you might find an interview with a touring band or comedian coming through town mixed with plenty of regional coverage, as well as restaurant reviews, an entertainment calendar and we also have regular columnists. As cliche as it sounds, there is a little     something for everyone in every issue of Submerge.

Q) How long have you been publishing Submerge Magazine? What prompted you to start a publication like this?

A) We are currently on issue #135 (that's crazy to think about!) so it's been over five years. We launched this bad boy in early 2008, just as the economy was hitting rock bottom. We didn't care much about that, because we knew we had a strong idea and a solid business plan. Being a free publication, we rely on advertising dollars and right away we got the attention of some of Sacramento's best bars, venues, restaurants, retailers, etc. and partnered with them. We owe so much to our advertisers! It's a beautiful partnership that we've built with all of them. What prompted us to start a publication like this was just taking a look at the Sacramento region and thinking, "Wow, there is SO much cool stuff happening here between the music scene, arts scene, restaurant and beer/cocktail scene, etc." and we knew we could provide some fresh,     hip coverage of all that. My business partner (and soon to be wife) Melissa had tons of experience in the publishing world, specifically in the design and editorial departments. I've always been a natural at marketing and sales, so our two skill-sets combined really made launching a business like this possible.

Q) What were you both doing for a living before you started the magazine? (Care to share any funny career/education stories that led you to where you are today?)

A) We both graduated from CSU, Chico. That's where we met. Years ago when we moved to Sacramento and started thinking about doing Submerge, we had part-time "regular" jobs to pay the bills. I worked at a local brewery for a while (RIP Sac Brew!), Melissa did graphic design work for a local print shop. Eventually the mag got so busy   that we both were able to drop the part-time gigs to focus solely on Submerge. We don't make a killing by any means, but we make enough to pay the bills, and we can do so by supporting and promoting the regions arts and entertainment scenes, so we're pretty happy with how things have worked out!

Q) What are your favorite elements of magazine publishing? Is there anything you've discovered over the years that surprised you about the industry?

A) I love that we are one of only a few remaining print publications in town. As we all get more and more connected and dependent on our digital devices, it's nice to know that we are giving people an option of something to physically hold onto and read over a cup of coffee, or a beer, or at a boutique in midtown, or while waiting for a bus or train, etc. We do have a website as well as a digital flip book version of every issue available online, we aren't dinosaurs over here, but giving people something to physically hold onto feels nice.

Q) The magazine focuses on the Sacramento region. What is it about Sacramento that inspires you to continue creating a free, local publication?

A) We are so proud to call Sacramento home and to be able to focus on some of the cooler things happening here. Melissa and I both grew up in really, really small towns, so I think that helps us appreciate all that the Sacramento region has to offer. There are amazingly talented musicians and artists here, as well as countless chefs, bartenders and restaurants to be proud of. We get some of the best comedians in the world touring through on a regular basis, and on top of all that, this region is just so extremely diverse. We absolutely love it here and can't imagine doing Submerge anywhere else!

Q) Submerge Magazine is pretty involved in the community and Sacramento's summer event season is coming up. Any cool collaborations or projects coming up that we should know about?

A) We're excited to be involved with Concerts in the Park, which happens every Friday evening in downtown Sacramento at Cesar Chavez Plaza and features free live music from many of the region's best acts. We're also stoked to be a big part of Launch Music/Art Festival again this year, we truly believe in the vision of the event's founders and we think that it is only going to grow each year and help to bring more attention to what Sacramento has to offer. On top of that, we've got some cool stuff in the works: some killer interviews and features scheduled for this summer, possibly partnering with a local photographer to produce Submerge video content, as well as continuing to grow our circulation and distribution. It's an exciting time for us here at Submerge!

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Be sure to check out the Submerge Magazine website for their latest edition + archives. If you want to follow the publication elsewhere, you can find them on Facebook and Twitter. Looking for newsprint-stained hands of your own? You can pick up the print version at just about every coffee shop, record store, boutique, salon, book store or hip restaurant in Midtown and Downtown Sacramento.

Happy reading! 

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My Mighty {fine} Life List

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So, here's the deal: I make lists regularly. I love ticking boxes and putting lines through items I've accomplished. For some reason, however, I found it difficult to finish my Mighty {fine} Life List. Created by the amazing Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl, the lists (and the movement that surrounds them) are meant to capture 100 things you'd like to do before you go.

The premise behind the popular life lists is pretty great. You simply list out your goals - both big and small - and act upon them. The lists can change as we grow, which is key. Maybe an opportunity comes up that you could have never imagined... put it on the list and cross it off! Maybe you decide one of your goals is no longer as important as you once thought... remove it!

I started my own list years ago - long before I started blogging - and just let it sit unfinished. Well, not anymore! I finally took the time to write it all out and get it ready for public consumption. I feel like putting this out to the universe (well, at least to you lovely people who read this blog!) will help motivate me to really seek out new experiences and make sure they come to fruition.

Without further ado, I'd like to present:

My Mighty {fine} Life List

(Note: Accomplished items are in bold.)

  1. Visit all 50 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
  2. Take photos of iconic bridges in all 50 states
  3. Really understand the settings on my digital camera
  4. Run (and finish) a marathon
  5. Visit all 59 National Parks in the US: Acadia, American Samoa, Arches, Badlands, Big Bend, Biscayne, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Carlsbad Caverns, Channel Islands, Congaree, Crater Lake, Cuyahoga Valley, Death Valley, Denali, Dry Tortugas, Everglades, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier, Glacier Bay, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Great Basin, Great Sand Dunes, Great Smokey Mountains, Guadalupe Mountains, Haleakala, Hawaii Volcanoes, Hot Springs, Isle Royale, Joshua Tree, Katmai, Kenai Fjords, Kings Canyon, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, Lassen Volcanic, Mammoth Cave, Mesa Verde, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Olympic, Petrified Forest, Pinnacles, Redwood, Rocky Mountain, Saguaro, Sequoia, Shenandoah, Theodore Roosevelt, Virgin Islands, Voyageurs, Wind Cave, Wrangell Saint Elias, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion
  6. Take singing lessons
  7. Get on stage and sing again (even if it’s just karaoke)
  8. Take snowboarding lessons
  9. Live in a state other than California
  10. Start practicing yoga
  11. Teach a class on any subject (or be a mentor)
  12. Meet the President of the United States (it doesn’t matter who it is at the time)
  13. Go to a concert and hang out with the band backstage
  14. Go ice fishing in Alaska
  15. Let go of the material things cluttering up my life
  16. Go snowshoeing
  17. Figure out what it takes to do voice-over work and do it
  18. Take an extended (months-long) trip to anywhere
  19. Go back to England to visit family and re-visit places important to my family history
  20. Write a book
  21. See a moose (in the wild)
  22. See a grizzly bear (also in the wild, preferably from far away!)
  23. Road trip through Canada
  24. Sing at a wedding
  25. Become a tour guide
  26. Create a photo book of all of my favorite bridges
  27. Make my health a priority
  28. Foster a puppy dog
  29. Hire a stylist to tell me – once and for all – what not to wear
  30. Join a book group
  31. Be an extra in a show/movie
  32. Attend a Beastie Boys concert (Keeping it on the list. You never know. RIP Adam Yauch)
  33. Go to a grown-up summer camp like this one
  34. Travel somewhere beautiful by train
  35. Spend an entire day reading a good book on a tropical beach (without feeling guilty…like I should be doing something)
  36. “Pay it forward” at the coffee shop by paying for a stranger’s morning fix
  37. Experience the Aurora Borealis
  38. Go back to D.C. to re-visit the monuments/museums/etc.
  39. Write an article/story for a large print publication
  40. Learn more about creating and editing beautiful videos
  41. Visit Greece
  42. Visit Croatia
  43. Go glamping in the Swiss Alps
  44. Create a road trip around the world's largest everything (see unfinished Pinterest board here). Take said road trip.
  45. Eat baklava in Turkey
  46. Spend a week in a rental house with my best friends in Cape Cod
  47. Own an Airstream (and maybe live out of it for a bit)
  48. Join a CSA
  49. Take a backpacking trip
  50. Start painting again
  51. Skinny dip
  52. Travel through the Amazon rain forest
  53. Attend an awards show (preferably the Grammys)
  54. Go to Australia
  55. Visit New York City
  56. Learn another language
  57. Take a European road trip
  58. Take a Northern California road trip to experience the super cool things I usually just drive right past
  59. Sleep in a tree house or lookout station
  60. Spend hours wandering the High Line
  61. Take a Chicago girls trip
  62. Remove all of the grass from our property and replace it with a more sustainable ground cover
  63. Go geoducking
  64. Cook through an entire cookbook
  65. Find a reason to go to Antarctica
  66. Be present when my nephews experience something incredible in nature
  67. Re-vamp my print shop business model to better showcase my photography work
  68. Star gaze in the middle of nowhere with my husband
  69. Tour the White House
  70. Take a soak in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
  71. Go hot air ballooning
  72. See Machu Picchu
  73. Change out all of the boring doorknobs in my house and replace them with beautiful ones
  74. Travel on a private plane
  75. Experience Germany’s Oktoberfest at least once
  76. Take a bicycle trip through Holland (tulip fields + windmills, please!)
  77. Attend Camp Mighty
  78. Cook lobster at home
  79. Take a road trip to see the fall colors
  80. Attend Sundance Film Festival
  81. Go sailing
  82. Be brave enough to cut my hair super short
  83. Take a helicopter ride
  84. Visit the San Juan Islands
  85. Go canoeing/kayaking somewhere beautiful
  86. Be an artist in residence in a national park (like this)
  87. Successfully grow fruit trees in our backyard
  88. Live outside of the U.S., at least for a short while
  89. Renew our wedding vows
  90. Travel to Easter Island
  91. Have dinner (and dessert, of course) with Nigella Lawson
  92. Visit Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore
  93. Learn to can fruits and vegetables
  94. Go hunting with my husband
  95. Visit the Bonneville Salt Flats during Speed Week
  96. Photograph a ghost town at sunset
  97. Make pasta from scratch
  98. Feel the mist from Niagara Falls on my face
  99. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  100. Take a photo trip to the Galápagos Islands

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Anyone else have a life list they want to share? Feel free to link up in the comment section. I'd love to see how your lists are shaping up!

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California Coast + Goethe + Happy Links

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{"As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live." // Johann Wolfgang von Goethe}

Happy Links:

  • I can't get enough of these wildflower photos from Annabelle Mintz. We have our own wildflowers blooming here in the Sacramento Valley and they're absolutely beautiful.
  • Meredith and Michael from Map & Menu blogged about their recent experience as puppy foster parents. I've always thought about fostering a dog, but I'm not sure I'd be able to give him/her up after the foster period ended! This post has me thinking, though...
  • I'm always looking for new music and Kinfolk Magazine's latest playlist post is just what I needed.

Wrap it Up:

  • It should be clear to you by now that I love my home state of California. Just in case, I thought I'd hammer that point home this week with a photo essay of some of my favorite spots.
  • The Tower Bridge in Sacramento finally made it into my "Build a Bridge" series this week. I see that bridge almost everyday and I thought it was high time I showed it a little blog love.

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I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

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Cover to Cover: Off Switch Magazine {+ an interview with Founder and Editor-in-Chief Katie Michels!}

It's not often I find myself walking hurriedly to the mailbox. We usually get our fair share of junk mail and bills. Sometimes we'll get nice cards from friends and family members. On Saturday, however, I was expecting a copy of Off Switch Magazine's fourth volume. So, I walked quickly, heel to toe, to the mailbox.And there it was...

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{All photos in this post are courtesy of Katie Michels.}

I had read online previews of back issues, but I had been dying to get a print copy in-hand so I could absorb all of the stories and interviews at my own pace, away from the screen. I found Off Switch Magazine several months ago through the powers of the internet and when I heard that the publication was using Kickstarter to help move forward with Volume 5, I didn't hesitate to contribute. I have a deep respect for those working in print publications. My papa was a newspaper man and I guess I've always viewed print as something special.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love the internet. I do. However, there is just something about physically turning paper pages midway through an article that gives me a feeling I simply cannot get from turning virtual pages.

After watching the video and pledging what I could, I reached out to Founder and Editor-in-Chief Katie Michels. I knew that I had to try to get a copy of the latest volume and feature it here on the blog. One special order of volume 4, multiple emails, some lovely photos shot by Katie, herself, and here we are!

Let me tell you: the magazine is beautiful. It's not only well-designed, but the content is also thoughtfully curated. Each issue is themed and offers everything from photo collections and book recommendations to interviews and creative non-fiction pieces. Volume 4 focuses on "Lessons Learned" and was a treat to read.

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From one couple's story detailing lessons learned from six weeks on the road to an interview with Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers, it was clear to me why so many others were supporting the Kickstarter campaign. While back issues aren't currently available for regular orders, several levels of contribution in the campaign will get you the entire collection and many include a copy of Volume 5!

Katie was kind enough to answer a few questions about herself, the publication and the Kickstarter campaign. I hope you enjoy her candid interview as much as I did!

1. How would you characterize Off Switch Magazine? What can people expect to find between the front and back covers?

We're relatable. Sure, we do our best to make things look good, but in the end our message — words, photos, and stories — is both human and honest. We want everyone who reads Off Switch to come out of the experience with a smile on their face and a stirring in their heart. A stirring that both inspires and motivates them to live passionately toward their dreams, big or small. At least, that's what we hope you'll find within our pages! If you like, you can simply enjoy the pretty pictures!

2. Tell us about your educational and professional background and how it prepared you for the challenges of the world of magazine publishing.

I am a twenty-three-year-old Midwesterner born and raised in a suburb west of Chicago, Illinois. I hold a bachelor's degree in graphic design, which beyond learning how to put together an editorial layout, didn't completely prepare me for running a quarterly magazine. School can be a great launching pad, but in the end observation and trial and error are the things that have taught me the most with regards to magazine publishing. I'm a strong believer in finding something you love and working hard to see it through. Trust your gut, know your limits and get ready to discover your capabilities!

3. What inspired you to launch Off Switch Magazine? Was it a single moment/incident or a collection of happenings that led you down this path?

Funnily enough, there was a single moment (or day, rather) where I decided to do this: my last day of college. While in school, I had taken a course in magazine layout/editorial design and fell in love with it. That passion for layouts and photos was the starting point. The hard part, I thought, was deciding what the yet-to-be-named magazine would be about. After tossing around idea after idea, I finally realized that the answer had been lying in front of me the whole time. I had kept a blog for the past couple years called Off Switch, a name that originated from a childhood phrase illustrating my inability to keep quiet. Over the years the term "living without an off switch" morphed from being about a chatterbox to living life fully and wholeheartedly. The blog chronicled my own pursuit of a life without an off switch, and now this magazine helps to chronicle not just my journey, but the journeys of my friends around the world. Looking back it's humorous to think I could have named the magazine anything but Off Switch.

4. You've launched a Kickstarter campaign for your next volume. Can you tell us what you hope to accomplish with a little help from readers and supporters?

With our Kickstarter campaign we will be able to give Off Switch Magazine a true shot at being a sustainable and profitable print magazine. Currently we print Off Switch in very small runs with an online-based printer, and have very little room to allow for markup, let alone be able to sell copies to boutiques at a wholesale price. Basically, funds generated through Kickstarter would help us to print the spring volume of Off Switch with a traditional printer at a higher overall price, but a much lower per copy price. As much as our dream is to be a quarterly print magazine, I am fully aware of the realities of life and money. I have plans in place should we not reach our goal. Let's just say things happen for a reason, and sometimes we have to adjust our plans and show a little patience. I'm open to whatever happens as long as I can keep working on Off Switch, whatever format that may be. Plus, it's a special thing knowing I've got the support of so many friends!

5. Tell us what we can look forward to in Volume 5. How will this volume inspire us to live life "without an off switch?"

Oh gosh! This volume is based on the super fun theme of "Come Celebrate." It's our second volume where we really adhere to a theme throughout, and that aspect very much makes each issue of Off Switch feel like complete and unique volumes in a growing series. Besides, who doesn't enjoy a good celebration every now and again? I have a feeling you will all LOVE volume five.

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I have a feeling she's right, don't you? If you'd like to learn more about Off Switch Magazine, please visit their website here. If you're as inspired as I am and would like to help, you can contribute to the Kickstarter campaign here (it wraps up on February 27, so hop to it)!

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