Image from Duolingo 


I am not someone who naturally pics up on learning other languages. In school, I’d have to work my tail off to keep up because other languages don’t come easily to me. Over the years I’ve come to understand my strengths and weakness. I can memorize vocabulary words easily but stringing out sentences in the correct tenses requires more thought on my part. I can understand conversations and translate text in a language I’ve studied, but struggle with speaking and pronouncing words incorrectly.

That is why I love Duolingo. I’ve written about this app before, but I continue to sing it’s praises. This app allows you to practice the language of your choice in 5-10 minute lessons so there’s no excuse to not fit in practice. You work on your vocabulary, comprehension, listening, speaking, and conversation skills. It holds you accountable and encourages you to go back to practice on previous lessons when it thinks you may be rusty.

I have been a bit of a Francophile since childhood and I’m dying to improve my French skills. So one of my first challenges is to continue with the good Duolingo habit I’ve got going.

January Challenges

IMG_5989Last year I did a 365 project around cooking. It was fun, but I wanted to do something different this year. I wanted to focus on a number of things I want to achieve but do it in baby steps. These aren’t really goals they’re challenges. I plan on tackling five challenges each month. Sometimes I may repeat challenges if I don’t feel I did the challenge justice. Sometimes I may do something related to a previous month’s challenge even if I want to push myself further.  I may do challenges that are unrelated to other ones. We’ll see. I have ideas, but I’m allowing myself to be flexible. I’ll go into these specific challenges in more depth in other posts this month but they are:

1. Duolingo: Practice my French every day this month.

2. Read 4 Books: I have a challenge to read 50 books by the end of the year so I want to get into a good rhythm.

3. Eat Whole Food: The holidays are horrible for me. It’s sugar central! I want to get back to basics and detox in a healthy way.

4. Write Every Day: I used to write every day whether it was a blog post, working on an essay to submit for publications, or just journal/brainstorm.  I want to get back to that place.

5. Plan for 2018: I want to plan out what I want to work on and towards this year.


Wanderlust Wednesday: Travel Apps

Chez Micheal

Call me old fashioned but as a girl who grew up with a love of atlases I still love exploring a new location with nothing but a paper map and my wits, but even I will admit that technology makes traveling easier. There are some great apps that can help you plan your trip or come to your rescue while you’re there. Here are a few of my favorites.


Duolingo: If you are planning on traveling abroad this is a great way to learn a foreign language. I went to Montreal last fall and this was a great way to brush up on my high school French. The lessons are quick so if you only have five or ten minutes a day to practice you won’t feel overwhelmed. The app will also review previous lessons with you as you go to help with retention. (available on iOS and Android)


Guides by Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet is my go to for travel guides on cities and counties. In addition to my love of maps I also still buy physical travel books when I’m prepping for a trip to somewhere I’m visiting for the first time. Lugging a guide around while you’re on the go during your travels isn’t convenient and it certainly isn’t discreet if you’re trying not to fly your tourist flag. This app is the perfect supplement when you’re on the go to look up things to do, places to eat, etc. It also includes tools like a currency converter and phrase books. (available on iOS and Android)


Hopper: There are numerous apps for finding flight deals but I love how simple Hopper is. You can search a by destination and the calendar feature is color-coded to make it easy to see when you can get the best deal. If you’re flexible with your dates you can score some true deals.  (available on iOS and Android)

Do you have any favorite travel apps? Please mention them in the comments.