Alyssa J Freitas

August 14, 2019

2019 Hershey Park Tips

I love roller coasters and it's a necessity to visit an amusement park every summer. This summer Joe and I went to Hershey Park and on the ride home we compiled a list of tips to get the most out of your visit.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Hershey Park tips for couples who love roller coasters

We were able to borrow a car from my parents (thanks Lady and Papa!) and stayed for 2 nights. To give you an idea of our amusement park style, we enjoy roller coasters and water rides, and prioritized getting to the front of each line as quickly as possible. We didn't see any shows or play any games.

Ready to jump in to it? Let's go.

Where to stay

The hotel prices were outlandish. We stayed on Thursday and Friday night and headed home after a full day in the park on Saturday. I used Hilton points to get the cost down and we stayed at Tru by Hilton in Hershey. It was a 5 minute drive to the park and is a newer hotel, which was nice. It's basic, but offers a free breakfast and parking. 

If you want to go all out, you can stay at Hotel Hershey. On the first night Joe and I got dinner at The Circular and it was incredible. The food was delicious, the service was amazing (they put your napkin on your lap for you!), and they thoughtfully gave us dessert to celebrate our engagement.  


Tickets to buy

We got a two day park pass and unlimited fast track for roller coasters. The two day park pass gives you a "preview" the night before your first full day visit where you can enter the park for free a few hours before closing. We headed over after our delicious meal and were able to park for free by showing that we had already purchased a parking pass for the next day. 

It's a good opportunity to get a lay of the land and try rides that don't have a long line. We did two coasters then called it a night in the park and headed over to Chocolate World. There's a wonderful ride about how chocolate is made and we liked doing that to round out our evening.

We found that the unlimited fast track (riding the same ride multiple times in one day, versus just once in a day) was not worth it since we were visiting for two days. If you can only go one day, get the unlimited, but otherwise you can save the extra charge and go with the standard fast track for coasters. 

Park schedule

Morning: Ideally you should be parked and walking over to the main gates a half hour before the park opens. Put your sunscreen on while you're waiting to get into the park. 

Print your tickets before hand and make a beeline to the water park. 

Get a locker (and if there's a line, keep walking because there are multiple locker areas in the water park) immediately and head to Breakers Edge water coaster because that line fills up fast. 

After that you can head to the other water rides and enjoy minimal wait times since most people don't head to the water park until later in the day when it's warmer.


Afternoon: Dry off and change, and leave everything behind in the locker except your wallet (that includes cell phones!). 

Redeem your fast track wristband in the water park area (lines are longer at the fast track station at the front gate) and then get lunch. We really enjoyed the smoke house and recommend the brisket!

Hit up the coasters. Our favorites were Storm Runner and Great Bear. If you have fast track, wait for a seat in the front row. It's worth the extra time. 

If you need a break/chill rides, check out the monorail and the kissing tower. 

We felt we'd seen enough the first day, mostly due to our fast track, that we left around dinner time. We ordered Chinese food and ate in our hotel room.


Day 2: On day 2 we had the same schedule, but left the park around 4:30. We went over to Chocolate World to get gifts for the family (couldn't buy them any sooner otherwise they would have melted!). 

When you're ready to check out, go to the back of Chocolate World near the food for a very short line versus the front of the store. 

Miscellaneous 

Water is expensive and there are not places to refill. And lines are long at most counter spots if you want to ask for complimentary water, so just be prepared to pay for bottled water. Work it into your vacation budget.

Ice cream portions are HUGE at Simply Chocolate!  

Paying for premium parking is not worth it.

There's a lot of available seating throughout the park, which was much appreciated. 

If you buy the meal tickets, the few restaurants that accept it get very crowded. We only ate lunch in the park each day. 

We had a great time and loved disconnecting for the weekend!

Have you ever visited Hershey Park or have plans to go? Any tips you would add?

-Alyssa J

August 7, 2019

Updated Minimalist Email Organization

Hi there, my name is Alyssa and I am obsessed with organizing. And when my possessions are already completely minimized and organized, I turn to the digital realm. Since starting my new job at Looker, I am using G-Suite for my primary job, for my side gigs (sales training and content chairing with Women in Sales), and for my personal use. I'm starting to get the hang of managing four emails through Gmail and today I wanted to provide an update to my previous post about Ultimate Minimalist Email Organization.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Learn how you can get your inbox in order, like a minimalist

Unsubscribing

I talked in my previous post about using a service called unroll.me to unsubscribe from and consolidate emails from various services. I've now stopped using it because I only get emails from a few retailers and find if I do want to make a purchase it's better for the information to come my way immediately than to wait for it in the daily rollup. 

Differentiating Multiple Accounts

When I'm on my phone I view all inboxes together in the Gmail app. I don't do much emailing from my phone - it's used more to alert me if anything urgent comes up. On my computer I have a different profile picture for each email address and I use different theme colors so I simply know which inbox I'm operating in at a given time. 

I've also changed my work email to "compact" view so I can maximize the number of emails I can view at a time. Click on the gear icon and then display density to change it. 

Labels are the New Folders 

This is the biggest change I've made to my email workflow, by far. I used to be the queen of folders and would file everything. And then I figured out how much time I was wasting and how there was a better way (in my defense, this better way is much easier in Gmail than with the service I was using with IBM). 

Instead of filing emails, I make a few key choices now:
  • If I can respond to something immediately, I take care of it and do it right then. And instead of filing the email, I archive it. This allows me to search for the email if I need to later (and who has a better search function than Google?) and clears out my inbox effectively. 
  • If it's a task that can't be taken care of immediately, I choose one of four labels.
Let's talk about labels, because this has made my life 100x easier. Labels are a way to see what actually needs to be taken care of in your inbox. The four labels I use are: Action Required, Monitor, Response Needed, and Save for Later. 

Action Required means there's something I need to do outside of just responding to the email. Monitor means there's no other action for me to take right now, but that I should follow up (also, starting to experiment with "snoozing" emails and setting reminders for these scenarios, but I don't have enough experience with that yet to comment). Response Needed means I need to reply to the email. Save for Later means I don't need to reply, but may want to reference the email at a future time. 

Emails can have multiple labels depending on their nature and I find it helpful to color coordinate so I can take a quick glance and see how much I'm dealing with. I also put an * in front of each label so they show up first on my list when adding to an incoming message. 

I got a lot of my inspiration from this video. Though it's more of a personal take, you can gather tips and it gives a pretty good illustration of how to do it yourself. 


Do you have any ways that you optimize your inbox? Always looking for ideas on how to make this inevitable part of our jobs better!

-Alyssa J

July 31, 2019

July 2019 Monthly Recap

Pretty sure this is the most eventful month of my life so far (the cover image is a taste of what is to come...). Get ready!!!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out the most eventful life of my life - moving, work trips, and a huge surprise are in store

I moved into Manhattan! On July 1 Mama, Papa, and I packed up the car and put my few possessions into the apartment.

I slept on a mattress on the floor and slowly built furniture throughout the month. Full apartment tour will be coming soon after decorations are in place. My goal will be by the end of next month, but we'll see what happens. Putting a place together is a challenge!

Here's the view from my stoop. Obsessed.

I wasn't in the city for very long because the first Wednesday we had a fire in the back yard with Carly and celebrated the start of summer.

July is the month of my favorite holiday: Independence Day. You can read a post about the history here. We went to the Montclair parade, per tradition, and spent the rest of the day at our family friends' house.

Joe and I went on our annual trip to Peter Luger's in Brooklyn. It was so so good.


I would go just for the apple strudel and schlog.

I took my first trip for Looker down to Charlotte for a TopGolf event and had a great time talking with clients and practicing my swing.

Last week I headed to Santa Cruz for new hire and sales training. I got my Looker headshot taken and spent time with new work friends.

Now, on to the big news you've been waiting for...Joe and I are engaged!!!! It was the perfect day. We had a picnic in Central Park, took a walk, and when we got to the water we spent some time together talking before he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Get ready for a bunch of photos because I can't pick favorites. And let's all appreciate that Joe and I wear coordinating outfits on a regular basis. All photos are by Joe's friend, Sean (check out his site!).

The very next day our families came into the city and helped Joe move into the apartment. Such a weekend filled with love and joy. John Adams is proud.

How was your July?!


-AJF
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July 24, 2019

Short Story: My Purpose

We are majorly changing things up today! I was talking with Joe recently about how we wrote fiction as kids and that I wish I had saved more of my writing (I should have taken the advice from this post about determining what to save and get rid of). Lo and behold, I discovered this short story I wrote in high school and thought it would be fun to share. Enjoy!


I was hot off the press. Thousands of us were being printed for the enjoyment of children and adults alike, but I didn’t know that at the time. I was stacked inside a box with identical books and was shut into darkness. After a long and bumpy trip, I heard the slicing of a razor blade through packing tape and the light came in. We were lifted and put onto a shelf so I could finally observe where I ended up.


The bookstore was made up of long rows of shelves carefully categorized. I saw a sign above me that read, “Children’s Fiction.” I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I knew that it was referring to me. It was a thrill to be picked up and flipped over so that the interested shopper could find out what I was about. My pages are filled with pictures and words about a land of wonder with personified animals and a curious little girl. Somehow, every passerby wanted a copy, and we were happy to oblige. Each was taken home by a reader for different purposes; a gift for cousin Matthew, a donation for the school library, a new bedtime story for little Annie...


I was chosen by a slender man with a calm smile and sad eyes. It was exciting to be carried to the front and packed into a paper bag. I knew I was going home. When we got home, I was placed on a small table in front of the fireplace. I was sure that I was being saved for that evening when the man could relax and enjoy me. For some reason, I was not opened that night, or the next, or the next.


I observed the habits of the man (whose name I later found out to be John). He would wake up at five fifty each morning, except on Sundays. He would fix himself breakfast in his night clothing while reading the day’s paper that was delivered every morning. I wanted so badly to be a newspaper that was read everyday. He then dressed himself, picked up his briefcase, and headed off for where ever he went. He would come home at six fifteen each evening and settle himself in front of the fire with papers that he would review and notebooks that he scrawled in. After, he would eat dinner, clean himself, and go to bed. 

On one glorious day, I was finally read. The man came barging into the house at the wrong time. He threw down his things and quickly went about loosening his tie and retrieving his special drink from his fancy cabinet. After flinging himself into his favorite chair, he stared into space for what seemed like days. Once he finally moved, his sad eyes rested on me. Slowly he picked me up and turned to the first page. My binding cracked and I felt important for the first time. 

John was a slow reader, but he did not stop until he had read me from cover to cover. He laughed while he read and I watched the joy on his face as he forgot whatever had hurt him. At the end, a tear slipped from his check and landed on my page. “How truly terrible it is to grow up and become an adult,” he whispered to himself. He laid me back on the table and went to bed.



In the years that followed, John developed a routine again. He brought a lady to the house to live with us who he called ‘wife.’ Soon there were children too. Whenever they felt sad, he would pick me up from my permanent home on the little table, and read me. They too would laugh, as he did on the first day when my binding broke. Many of my pages have been torn and taped back in. My cover is no longer shinny and new, but dull and old. This doesn’t matter now because I know that I am important and I know that I am loved.

-AJF
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All images were created by the art students of Lacordaire Academy

July 17, 2019

Best Quotes of Downton Abbey

I love Downton Abbey. So much. In fact, back in 2015 when I gave up television for a time, Downton Abbey was my only exception (so I suppose I didn't truly give it up, but anyway). What I love about the show is the wisdom and life lessons packed into every episode. In a previous post I went into detail about something Lady Sybil said: "No one hits the bull's eye with the first arrow," and today I thought it would be fun to share some more of my favorite quotes!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Check out the best quotes of Downton Abbey to learn some life lessons

"My dear, all life is a series of problems which we must try to solve, first one and then the next and the next, until at last we die" - Violet

I wrote more about moving on to the next problem (the Freitas Family motto) in another post

"Life's altered you, as it altered me. And what would be the point of living if we didn't let life change us" - Carson

Ugh, love this, especially because I am resistant to change more often than not. Because we can't see the future, it's easy to look at change as a scary or bad thing. However, as Carson says, the whole point of living is to grow and develop so I am trying to embrace it more.

"The presence of a stranger is our only guarantee of good behavior" -Violet

Isn't that the truth? Although I write about etiquette and preach about always keeping others in mind, I am no where near to perfect on that front! I snap at my family or allow myself to get carried away with my emotions when I'm with those I'm closest with. It's a good reminder to always behave well, and to have strangers around if you are ever going to deliver news and are not sure how the other person is going to react ;)

"I remember my mother telling me, that in the end, happiness is a matter of choice. Some people choose to be happy and others select a course that only leads to frustration and disappointment" - Mabel

When I hear this quote, the first thing that comes to mind is dating. I dated for six years before meeting Joe and I would often choose a course (read: guys) that lead to frustration and disappointment. A combination of not being right for each other, along with thinking that I could control the outcome, made for a tough time. 

I've realized that trying to manage and control every aspect of my life is what leads to frustration for me. You may have a different attribute that causes you trouble, so whatever it is, identify it and stop choosing it!

"If you must pay money, better to a doctor than an undertaker" - Mrs. Patmore

As someone who always complains about having to pay doctors, I need to bear this in mind...

"Real love means giving someone the power to hurt you" - Branson

I wrote a long post in 2017 about vulnerability (not solely related to romantic relationships!) and it's so freeing once you get the hang of it. Goes along with that relinquishing control thing from earlier...

There you have it, my top favorite quotes from Downton! I am so excited for the movie to come out in September. 

What favorite quotes do you live by?

-AJF
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