Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How to Pack for Your First Diving Adventure

Hey guys! I'm crazy busy diving these days, so today's post is brought to you by the lovely Jess from Tripelio. Check out her author bio at the end for more info. Enjoy!

Image courtesy of Ilse Reijs and Jan-Noud Hutten under CC BY 2.0

Packing is often the most frustrating part of any trip, and when you're packing for something like a dive trip where you need to both remember a lot of gear and figure out how to fit everything into your bag, it can be a nightmare. But if you can get through this step and make it to your dive spot with everything you need, it could be the trip of a lifetime. There's no sense reinventing the wheel though. Why not follow others' tried-and-tested packing tips:

Make a List of Gear

Even if you're not the list-making type, you might find it useful to make a list of the clothing and gear that you plan to bring with you. Of course, you'll want to start with swimsuits, underwear, sunscreen and medications, but what else do you need? Rather than creating your own list, you can use other divers' packing lists such as the ones here or here as a template. Add or subtract items as needed to fit your own needs.

Remember that it may be cheaper and easier to rent your dive equipment when you get to your destination rather than paying expensive baggage fees and lugging things with you, but it may not be as comfortable as your own gear. If you have any gear that you're really attached to and want to bring with you, make sure it's on the list!

Pack the Essentials Into Your Carry-on Bag

On the off chance that your checked bag gets lost or delayed en route, make sure you have everything that you absolutely need for your diving adventures. Depending on where you go, you'll likely find that you can replace any of your missing gear or rent it from the company you're diving with. But it's a bit more difficult if you have a prescription dive mask or an expensive dive computer, and it can be upsetting to lose items of sentimental value like your dive log.

The last thing you want is to have to delay or skip dives because your luggage didn't arrive with you, so do your best to carry on anything essential, expensive or irreplaceable. When you're packing your checked bag though, make sure you meet airline and TSA restrictions. The last thing you want is for your dive knife to be confiscated because you accidentally stuffed it into the wrong bag!

Pack Smart

In terms of logistics, make sure you're placing your heavier items towards the bottom of your bag so that the center of balance is correct. Of course, it won't make your bag any lighter, but it will make it less awkward to carry and can make it feel a bit lighter. Roll your clothes so that they fit into every available space and don't wrinkle as easily, and pack them around fragile items like your scuba mask or camera. It's always a smart idea to throw at least one change of clothing into your carry-on bag just in case.

Don't Overpack

If the main activity you'll be engaging in is diving, you'll likely be spending most of your time in a swimsuit and probably don't need to pack all the shirts and shorts you own. Similarly, if you're going to be wearing mainly flip-flops or sandals, you don't need to pack a half dozen pairs of shoes. Do a little research to figure out what you might get up to when you're not diving and pack accordingly. Don't forget to leave a little space for souvenirs or gifts!

...But Don't Underpack

Although you may plan just to dive every day and go to sleep early, if you don't pack that going-out outfit, something will likely come up and you'll find yourself wishing you had it. You don't want to be that person who shows up at a fancy restaurant dressed in “travel clothes,” so make sure you've got at least one outfit that can be worn in a more formal situation. The more versatile, the better.

Organize Your Technology

When I travel, I like to bring my camera to document my journey, my phone in case of emergencies and my computer for dumping photos, keeping in touch with family and friends and watching Netflix on those nights in. If you just throw your cords in your bag though, you'll often find them somehow tangled in a giant knot when you reach your destination. Instead, coil your cords and use twist-ties to secure them.

And if you plan on watching Netflix while you're abroad or doing anything else that might be subject to geo-restrictions, you'll want to set up a VPN before you set out on your trip. Netflix and many other sites block their webpages from being viewed in foreign countries in case of possible copyright restrictions or governmental restrictions. If you use a VPN though, you can spoof your IP address and lead the site's servers to believe that you're still located back home.

Packing for your diving trip can be a headache, but if you plan well and get everything packed right, you'll soon be enjoying your adventure!

What's your dream dive spot? Are there any other packing tips you use when you take a diving trip? Tell us all about them below!

About the Author: My name is Jess Signet. My parents were travelers since before I was born. Even in the womb, I was able to travel all over the place! Boy, did things NOT change as I grew older! Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble I live in made me want to travel even further. Traveling is my drug and I’m addicted. (Please, no intervention!)
[Visit Jess over at her blog, Tripelio!]

Saturday, November 21, 2015

What To Do On Roatan: 1-Week Itinerary

Most travelers arrive on Roatan for a week. We only have a few airlines that run direct routes from hubs in the USA (Houston, Atlanta, Miami) and you can usually get the best deal by booking a week-long return ticket. The Canadian charters (Sunwing + Air Transat) have also started for the busy season and the Milan charters as well, and all the charters run on a one week schedule. A week is the perfect amount of time to explore Roatan!

(Only have one day? [Hi cruise shippers!] Check out my 1-Day Itinerary here!)
(Only have a few days? Check out my 3-Day Itinerary here!)

I think the best way to get to know Roatan in a week is to spend half of it underwater and half of it topside, so that's how I'll schedule this itinerary. I'm still not really sure what non-divers/non-snorkelers do here for an entire week since the reef is pretty much the main draw of this island... I guess they tan on the beach? Drink 400 monkey lalas? Read their Kindles? I don't know.

Here are a few insider tips to keep in mind for your week-long stay on Roatan:
  • we have a dry law (called ley seca in Spanish) in Honduras on Sundays from 5pm till Mondays at 6am. This means the bars and stores are not allowed to sell or serve you liquor. You might find some sneakily skirting the law, but be prepared for this. It's enforced sporadically. Technically it is a consumption law as well, so legally you cannot even drink previously purchased alcohol in your own room on a Sunday night. Yes, it's stupid, and no, we aren't happy about it either. (Those of us that live here tend to not even bother asking 'why?' anymore.)
  • at minimum please read over my guidelines for tipping on Roatan and using US dollars on Roatan, and if you have the time - my entire Roatan FAQ page is a good resource.
  • we have a rainy season that runs for a few months anytime between September and February. It can rain for an entire month straight or it can be interspersed with some sunny days. But please don't come here in rainy season and complain about the rain. (There's this thing called The Google that you should use when planning trips.) The end of November through January is usually the worst weather on the north side of the island, which sometimes gets slammed by northeastern storms. If you want to lay on the beach all day and tan for a week straight, book your trip from the end of March to August and you should be good.
  • check the cruise ship schedule for the week while you're here. Expect all attractions, West End and West Bay Beach to be completely overrun with hordes of cruise shippers while they're in port. Good days to go diving or get off the island!
  • if you're diving, make sure you leave at least 18-24 hours between your last dive and your flight. In this itinerary, I've scheduled all the diving at the beginning of the trip to avoid any issues with this.
So, what can you do with a week on Roatan? Let's see what a week half underwater and half above would look like:

Day One

Arrival day, so take it easy. If you're arriving on a flight from the States you're likely coming in during the late afternoon. Immigration lineups can take a while, the luggage for some reason takes forever getting off the plane (it's literally 60ft from the plane to the carousel, but again, we don't ask 'why' here), and almost all of the hotels are a 30+ minute drive from the airport, so don't expect that you'll be kicking back on the beach within an hour of landing. Pack mini bottles of booze and mix in your carry on and make yourself a cocktail while you wait!

Tip: if you can choose your seats on the plane, sit on the right side - you'll get an INCREDIBLE view while landing. Our landing strip is verrryyy close to the ocean!

If you're staying at a place with a kitchen, see if the driver can stop at Eldons (the American grocery store) for you to stock up before heading to your accommodation. Eldons is in the main town, Coxen Hole, and there aren't any hotels or resorts in this area so it's best to stop here on the way to avoid having to come back later.

Get settled in to your room and enjoy the view - hopefully you can see the ocean from where you are! Today is also the day to check into the dive shop and complete paperwork, get geared up, confirm your diving schedule, etc. Most shops need you to get set up from the day before so it isn't a crazy rush in the morning while they're trying to get ready for the first dive.

Day Two

Get underwater!!

For snorkelers: If you want to do shore snorkeling, you should book accommodation in West Bay. The reef is too far to swim out to in most other areas. Otherwise, you can arrange with locals to go out in their boats to some snorkeling spots. Keep in mind the vast majority of these guys are untrained with no emergency equipment on board. It's cheaper, but is that worth your safety? I usually recommend talking to a dive shop that will take snorkelers out on the dive boats and let them snorkel while the divers are down. You'll be on more of a schedule, but there will be a lot more variety in the sites and you'll be with trained professionals.

For certified divers: if you haven't been diving in the last year, you should take a refresher at your local dive shop before you come, or do one today at your chosen dive shop. If you've been diving within the last year and you are comfortable and capable of jumping on the fun diving boat, go for it!

For non-certified divers: the best thing you can do if you want to learn to dive is to complete the PADI e-Learning before you come on vacation (budget 12-15 hours for it). This teaches you all the academics that you learn in the PADI Open Water course, and you get all the exams out of the way too. That way, when you arrive here you can get straight in the water without having to spend your evenings reading and studying. If you complete the PADI e-Learning, you can expect your course to take about 2.5 full days in the water. If you want to cut that down even more, you can do your academics and confined water training with your local dive shop, and they'll give you what's called a 'referral' - basically the instructor there signing off that you've completed all your academics and confined water training, then you present your paperwork here and all you have to do is four open water dives (usually done in two mornings) and you're certified! I highly recommend this route so that you can get the most out of your vacation and not spend it studying. If you don't do anything before you arrive, you can expect your course to take 3-4 full days with most of your evenings filled with studying (though studying in a hammock by the ocean sure beats studying at a desk!)

For everyone: make a reservation!!!!!!!!! If you like to check out shops personally and make a decision once you get here, that's cool, but if they can't accommodate your wishes then you do not get to cause a scene, be rude or huffy, or leave a shitty TripAdvisor review about it. Also, make sure to follow all marine park rules (plus extras for snorkelers and divers) while out on the reef.

Day Three

Dive, dive, dive! Hit happy hour at Sundowners once the day is done and enjoy an ice-cold beer - I swear they taste better after a day underwater. This is also a fantastic place to watch the sunset.

Day Four

Enjoy the two morning dives and then reward yourself with an afternoon lazing around on the beach. Even out those wetsuit tan lines! Ask around at the dive shop or any bar/restaurant where the live music will be tonight. Chances are someone is playing somewhere and it's always fun to check out the live music here - we have some incredible talent on the island. My favorites are Scotty C, Branan Logan, Duane Forrest and Scott Haynes.

Day Five

Time to get topside. You've explored the bottom of Roatan, now explore the top! A full-day driving island tour is the best way to get to know the rock. You can schedule stops for snorkeling, lunch in a traditional Garifuna community, mangrove tours and more. Your driver can tell you island history and information along the way. Bring a camera, there are some amazing viewpoints to stop at on the road. You can expect a full-day tour in a private car to run about $80-120.

You can sleep in tomorrow, so if you're after nightlife, head to West End after 8pm and walk up and down the (only) road - head into anything that looks busy and is playing music that you like!

Day Six

After spending all day yesterday in a car, today is the day to get active again! Today is a great day for visiting one of Roatan's many zipline experiences. They are a lot of fun and have good safety records. Bring your GoPro and the guides will snap your next Facebook profile photo. After ziplining, bring the adrenaline down a bit with an easy trail hike at Carambola Gardens. You'll learn about the local flora and fauna while working off all those monkey lalas, and have some beautiful photo opportunities to boot.

If you're feeling a little more laid back, head out on the open ocean by booking a fishing charter. Deep sea fishing here can get you mahi mahi, barracuda, wahoo, snapper, grouper and more. I highly recommend Captain Enrick on the Wahoo Slayer for an amazing day of fishing - he also comes from one of the oldest and most respected families in West End so you can get a bit of authentic island history from him between bites.

Day Seven

Now that you know the island - get off of it! Your last full day on the island is a fantastic day to take a trip out to Cayos Cochinos on a comfortable and fully-equipped charter boat like Ruthless Roatan. If you follow my blog regularly, you've probably seen a couple posts about Cayos - I looooove it there. A day trip there usually involves breakfast on the boat, a 1.5 hour ride over to the islands, a stop for a local lunch on the inhabited island and time to enjoy the scenery and play with the kids, a couple snorkeling stops and fishing on the way back (did I mention it's all you can drink?)

For dinner on your last night, you have to visit Roatan Oasis! This is the #1 restaurant on Roatan and my personal favorite, so you might even see me there. It's closed on weekends and reservations are recommended. Their menu is always changing and is up-to-date on their Facebook page, so check that out.

Day Eight

Departure day - boo! Get some last minute Roatan souvenirs at the Rusty Fish or the Shawn Jackson Gallery. Enjoy your final coffee oceanside, and pack those bags. You'll need to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight time, so make sure you schedule your ride with plenty of time.

So there it is - a week on Roatan filled with fun, sun, sand and rum :) All suggestions and links are my genuine recommendations at the time of publishing.

Guys, make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ... there's lots of extras posted there that don't make it onto the blog. I also have Google+ if anyone even uses that? And I'm on Bloglovin', so you can follow me there too! Plus it makes me try to post more than once a month. So there's that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dutty Love, Drunk in Love or Delusional Love: Dating on the Island

One of the first things that readers ask me when they meet me in real life is: why don't you ever post about a boyfriend/dating/etc.?

Other than the fact that this part of my life is usually not very entertaining (you can read my girl Shannon's recent post if you want to see a somewhat similar rundown), it's something I've always been hesitant to put out there for the world to see. Since I started this site, I've seen many other bloggers include this part of their life online, and when it goes south there is an expectation in the blogosphere that this will be mentioned and explained to readers. It's heartbreaking enough to go through a breakup, but to have to diplomatically detail it on your website as well when all you really want to do is cry and punch that motherfucker in the face can't be very much fun. Readers, I love you guys - I'm so thankful that you check in here and enjoy what I post. But I don't know most of you, and I certainly don't owe the internet any explanations about my personal life. Creeeeeepy!

But apparently people want to know - and when I meet them they ask me things like:

What's the dating scene like?  [Small. Veryyyy small.]
Do the dive instructors date each other?  [Oh, yes. We're a rather incestuous bunch.]
Do you date islanders?  [Some people do, some people don't.]
Where do you go on dates?  [Usually the bar or a restaurant - options are limited!]
Do you have flings with the tourists?  [Me - no, others - yes.]
Do couples end up married here?  [Yep, and some end up divorced too.]

A lot of people come to Roatan running away from real life wherever they are from. They treat the island as their fantasyland and do things they would never consider doing at home. Roatan and the lifestyle here has a way of making you forget about regular things like, oh, you know, consequences for your actions. It's a weird place to date, because I think people get a really one-sided version of each other. The life we have here as expats is usually not the same or as multi-faceted as it is at home. Before living here, most of us didn't drink at a bar with our friends 6 nights a week. Most of us participated in hobbies and activities that we can't or don't pursue here. There are so many things about me that people here don't know - nobody here knows that I can play the drums, that I love camping, that my favorite craft beer is Juniper Ale, that I snowboard, or that I can speak Japanese. I can't do those things here, so they've just sort of faded into the background for now which is weird because they're still a part of what makes me, me. And everyone else here has these things too. It's strange to sit back and think about, especially when you meet someone here and miss out on all that background. I think this is one of the reasons that many people who get into relationships here end up breaking up once they leave. When you get home with someone in tow and find out that person is not exactly who you thought they were on Roatan, it can be really disconcerting.

There are three really common types of scenarios that I have seen over and over here during the last few years. If you want to know what a lot of the dating on the island is like, well, it's like this:

Dutty Love

Dutty is the Caribbean way of saying 'dirty', not in the sense of physically soiled way but in a rough and hot way. This mostly refers to expats who come here and date islanders. I feel like a lot of people look down on expats who date locals, but I think that's bullshit. Just like anywhere in the world, some of them are wonderful people and some of them are shitheads. What I will say is that if you're a tourist dating an islander and you don't live here full time, there is a 90% chance your dutty love boo is cheating on you when you aren't here. I see guys with girlfriends/wives all the time in the bar doing things they really shouldn't be doing. There is kind of a different attitude here towards cheating... I know people in Canada and America cheat too, of course, but for the most part they at least try to keep it under wraps. People here do it out in the open in front of everyone. You're expected to keep your mouth shut about it and stay out of other people's business. I do have several friends that live here in committed relationships with islanders and no one is cheating and they are very happy (yay!). I have other oblivious friends who have been physically chased down by irate island women who found out her husband had a gringa girlfriend on the side. All I can say is you really should do a thorough background check before proceeding in this department.

Drunk in Love

It's no secret that a lot of our activities on Roatan revolve around drinking. With limited entertainment options (it's not like we can go out and see a movie or go to a Foo Fighters concert) and alcohol being pretty much the only cheap thing on the island, we end up doing a lot of drinking here. They don't call it a drinking island with a diving problem for nothing! However, we've all been drunk and we all know that this can lead to situations that we wouldn't have gotten ourselves into while sober. The worst part? Like I said, this is a small island... if you've never experienced small town living where everyone knows everything about you and everyone else... well, this place will hit you like a ton of bricks. Yes, everyone saw what you did last night at El Boske, and they saw your walk of shame this morning from behind the gas station. And guess what? You're gonna have to see that girl again every time you go out, because there's only a few places to go here. Awkward city.

I've also seen couples who seem to do nothing but drink together. Do you guys not have anything to talk about when you're sober? Do you even KNOW each other sober? So weird.

Delusional Love

I think anyone who has been to a third world country has seen this one. Here's my public service announcement:

Dear gross old gringo men with Honduran girlfriends 50 years younger than you - newsflash, they aren't with you for your stellar personality or your hot body. You're not helping anyone here by teaching them to sell themselves for food, money or a place to stay. Also, ew.

Sorry, but someone had to say it.

Roatan is a fun, strange and insular little place, and being in a relationship here can be a minefield or an amazing playground to explore with someone. It's all about how you approach it and cultivate it. Don't be scared to make a connection but use your brain.

And as for me? A lady never tells...

Guys, make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ... there's lots of extras posted there that don't make it onto the blog. I also have Google+ if anyone even uses that? And I'm on Bloglovin', so you can follow me there too! Plus it makes me try to post more than once a month. So there's that.

Monday, November 16, 2015

What To Do On Roatan: 3-Day Itinerary

Three days is not a lot of time on Roatan, but you can still get to know the island! Most travelers come here for a week (many of the flight schedules to Roatan run on a weekly basis), but some independent travelers and those coming from close Central American and US cities do sometimes come for a long weekend.

(Only have one day [hi cruise shippers!]? Check out my 1-Day Itinerary here!)
(Have a whole week? Check out my Full Week Itinerary here!)

What can you do with three days on Roatan? Here's an idea of an itinerary to make the most out of it:

Day One

Get acclimatized and oriented with a private island tour by car. (Island tours by boat will not show you much of the island - the island is very narrow and long so it takes a long time to get anywhere by boat!) With a full day, you can go all the way from the western tip of the island to the east end. With a half day, you can do about half the island. Normally you can stop for snorkeling or suntanning on a beach, lunch at a local restaurant, mangrove tours, visiting the iguana farm and more. Your driver can also share history and information about the island, and you can ask all your burning questions so that you have the inside scoop for the rest of your trip.

Cost: anywhere from $50-75 for a half day to $80-120 for a full day, depending on the driver. Price is for the car, not per person.

Day Two

Time to see Roatan's most famous attraction: our beautiful coral reef!

For non-divers, you can do a 'try-dive' experience which takes a few hours and you'll get to do a real dive on the reef with an instructor. Other options are snorkeling, underwater scooters, or a glass bottom boat tour. Watersports like jetskis, standup paddleboards and kayaks are also readily available, although that doesn't let you see the amazing underwater world below.

For certified divers, sign up to do the two morning dives at the dive shop of your choice (if you have a limited time on the island, especially if it's in busy season, a reservation is a must!). Since you only have a couple days, you'll want to dive right in - so if it's been a year or more since your last dive, do your refresher course at your local dive shop before heading out on holiday so that you're prepared to jump right onto the fun diving boat. Watch your flight time out - you'll need 18-24 hours out of the water before flying.

Either way, spend the morning checking our our healthy reef and all the amazing creatures that live there. Make sure to follow all marine park rules (plus extras for snorkelers and divers) while out on the reef.

After you're done in the water, you've earned yourself a cocktail! Spend the afternoon beachside at Sundowners or chilling in the air conditioning with a burger at Dix Halfway Inn. Try Roatan's most famous drink - the Monkey Lala (check out the link, you might see someone familiar) - they are deceiving though, so stop after 3. Just trust me on that one. You could also do a little souvenir shopping during this time. Check out The Rusty Fish or the Shawn Jackson Gallery for gifts that are authentically Roatanean. (Insider tip: the trinkets at the touristy shops are all Guatemalan. Don't waste your money.)

If you like nightlife, your best bet is to walk the West End road from about 9pm onwards. Go into anything that looks busy and is playing music you like!

Day Three

It's your last day, but don't let that get you down. If the weather is nice, you can get your day going with a hike at Carambola Gardens to learn about the local flora and fauna, and get some incredible views along the way. Raining? No worries. Head over to Fresh Bakery and take a long, lazy morning with the best coffee and desserts on the island.

Get away from all the tourist traps by heading east. Parrot Tree Plantation or Big French Key are beautiful places to spend a day relaxing. I would avoid Big French Key on a cruise ship day though. Get completely off the island on a cruise ship day with a fishing trip (I highly recommend Captain Enrick on the Wahoo Slayer), or if you want to get even farther away, take a day trip to Cayos Cochinos on Ruthless Roatan. If you're a golfer, we have a reportedly tough championship Pete Dye course at Pristine Bay.

For dinner on your last night, you have to visit Roatan Oasis! This is the #1 restaurant on Roatan and my personal favorite. It's closed on weekends and reservations are recommended. Their menu is always changing and is up-to-date on their Facebook page, so check that out.

And there you have it! Three jam-packed fun days on the island.  All suggestions and links are my genuine recommendations (at the time of publishing).

Which of my suggested activities would you like to try?

Guys, make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ... there's lots of extras posted there that don't make it onto the blog. I also have Google+ if anyone even uses that? And I'm on Bloglovin', so you can follow me there too! Plus it makes me try to post more than once a month. So there's that. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Roatan Roundup: Month 39

What to say about 39 months on a tiny island in the Caribbean? A few things...

What's new?

This roundup almost didn't happen...because I almost left.

I made some admittedly bad financial decisions during the last high season that left me with exactly zero dollars to pay my rent last month. Straight up panic city. I only had a couple weeks to either get a large chunk of cash, or buy a plane ticket home and give up on the Roatan dream (hey, it's been three great years!). I don't want this to sound all 'oh, poor me' because it was most definitely my own fault, but it was pretty damn stressful and exacerbated by the absolute shitshow of trying to courier my updated credit card (mine had expired) from Canada to a friend in the States who was coming down here, so that I could at least buy food at the grocery store. Canada Post and USPS were on the receiving end of everything from yelling to tears. Here's some advice to help anyone else avoid this in the future: fuck the postal service. Use FedEx. Also, maybe don't live on an island without mail service.

Because I am the queen of the wildest highs and lows in this life, of course at the last second some things fell together and the rent got paid (with exactly $4 to spare!) and so I am still here. It was a bit of a shock as that's the closest I've ever been to being forced into leaving and I had all kinds of feelings about it. In the end I am glad it worked out and that I stayed - for a few reasons. More to come on that in a later post.

I've been diving like crazy lately and it's been AMAZING. It's still work, of course (as my divers tend to forget - they are on vacation, I am not!) but I'm much happier having the ocean for an office than a skyscraper. I love that I still squeal with excitement when I see my favorite fish (it's a queen triggerfish, for inquiring minds...) and I see turtles and morays that I recognize year after year. Under the surface is still the only place I really feel like I get any peace and quiet. So I've been spending as much time as possible there these days.

Let's get on with the roundup!

1. Gratuitous diving photo:

// photo by Scuba Kieran \\
Me and the cutest little nurse shark on the Roatan Banks (seamounts).

2. Posts from this month:

Well, I managed to squeak out a grand total of one - Why I Don't Want to Tell You About Diving the Seamounts. But I think this is a hugely important post and I really debated whether or not I should even write it. I've had a few dive shops on Roatan share it and I hope it continues to move through the diving circles. Even if people don't agree with me, if it gets them talking about it, then I've done my job!

3. Best thing I've found on the internet this month:

Am I the only one who finds stuff like this incredibly soothing? Yes? No? Well... just try it.

I swear, I've watched this bread rise about 560 times. This has lowered my stress level more than once in the past month.

Remember, you can see all my roundup posts by clicking here or on the 'roundup' label below!

Guys, make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ... there's lots of extras posted there that don't make it onto the blog. I also have Google+ if anyone even uses that? And I'm on Bloglovin', so you can follow me there too! Plus it makes me try to post more than once a month. So there's that.