HELP Wayfaring Wanderer WIN the Trip of a Lifetime!

I am entered to win a giveaway with Sony Electronics along with 834 other contestants. 
This means that my odds of walking away with the $10,000 grand prize to take a journey of a lifetime aren't too bad. That is, if I can get your help! 

My virtual postcard entry for the Sony Reader™ $10K Getaway Giveaway must receive the most number of "LIKES" in order to WIN! Currently, I am standing at number #71 out of #843. 

To vote, you just click through to this link: and HIT the VOTE FOR THIS ENTRY button. You are not asked for an email or any other information, they only require that you fill-in a captcha. The voting process couldn't be easier! I promise, it will only take 1min & 30secs of your time to vote for my postcard. Pretty, please :D

You may vote for my entry once a day through 4/26/2011 at 12:00 p.m. (ET). 
Thank you for taking the time to do so, I appreciate it so very much! 


Rancho Bernardo Inn Resort & Spa | San Diego, California

Rancho Bernardo Inn - Collage | San Diego, CA

On the morning I set out to explore, a thick fog enshrouded the grounds. The faint mist present in the air clung to my camera and clothing as I slowly meandered around the gardens. So much for the sunny San Diego California weather I envisioned beforehand. I won't complain because the misty morning added a layer of mystic to my early morning stroll. The only other people stirring at this hour of the morning (7am) were resort employees. I took this time to thoroughly soak up the surroundings while waiting for breakfast to begin.

Fireplace @ Rancho Bernardo Inn | San Diego, CA

It was easy to get wrapped up in the old-world d├ęcor they used to adorn inside and out. The exposed wooden ceiling beams added a richness to the atmosphere, and the cozy nooks scattered throughout created very inviting micro-environments to kick back or have a chat. I'm not accustomed to staying at resorts with luxurious accommodations like those found at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. I'm used to camping out and sleeping in a tent, actually. A far cry from the elegant escape that this inn offers. What I learned while I was there was that this Rancho Bernardo resort was more than just a place to turn in at the end of the day. Instead of merely being a place to sleep, it was more of a destination!

Fountain @ Rancho Bernardo Inn | San Diego, CA

Not only do they offer deluxe guest rooms that are nicely decorated, they have a premier 27-hole golf course, a full-service spa, and various dining options with several on-site restaurants complete with a bar and coffee shop. They have everything you need and more at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, CA; it almost seems as though they are trying to keep you there. Had Sony not already planned out my activities for the day, I would have found it hard to leave!

Rancho Bernardo Inn Guest Suite | San Diego, CA

I only slept at the Rancho Bernardo Inn for a total of two nights. Even though I didn't get much sleeping done due to the jet lag, I still found the suite to be a nice place to unwind. The beds were extra cushy with super fluffy pillows, relaxing on the balcony was a special treat, and so was the super sized shower! I didn't have a whole lot of time to spend in my room, but it was comfy when I did have some downtime.

Patio @ Rancho Bernardo Inn | San Diego, CA

I felt very well-taken care of during my stay at the lodge. It was an incredibly beautiful resort with many different amenities to keep you occupied and satisfied no matter what you needed. Whether you are in the mood for a game of golf, a special spa treatment, posh accommodations, or a place to host an event or meeting, the Rancho Bernardo Inn Resort & Spa is a terrific place to stay for anyone looking for an upscale experience in San Diego, California. 

What did you think about the Rancho Bernardo after reading this post?
When you travel what accommodations do go for? Hotels? Hostels? 
Please share your thoughts!

Interested in finding out more about my trip to San Diego? 
Follow the links to find out more:

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Places To Eat Sweets in Boone, NC | Foodie Friday

During my trip to San Diego, CA for the Sony Foodie event, I connected with some lovely ladies who work with a website called Foodspotting. Upon visiting this website, I was instantly hooked because I love love love food photography and this place was filled with images of meals from people all over. Instead of using a review based website where you take the good with the negative, Foodspotting focuses solely on the things that people LOVE, not what they didn't like. It's not a review site in the traditional sense. If you ask me, it's better! Due to the fact that I am such a visually oriented person, this website appeals to me in ways that most of the other food review sites can't. There aren't enough people using it here in Boone, NC, but I'm aiming to change that, which is why I am sharing my new favorite website with you today. 

Beware! Foodspotting is highly addictive, and you may be shunned by embarrassed friends who don't understand why you feel the need to shoot photos of your food. Don't say I didn't warn you :D 

 A couple weeks ago, I had a nasty little sweet tooth that I had difficulty satisfying. It seemed like I wanted to try a new treat everyday. This made me realize that it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be to come up with new ideas when my sweet tooth decided to strike! While there are quite a few places that we frequent here in town when we have a craving, I also felt like mixing it up a bit in an effort to discover something new. After making my way to several different shops around town, I thought that it would be fun to compile a guide of all the sweet spots here in Boone, NC that I like to visit. The on-going guide can be followed through Foodspotting (click the title below for link), and I plan to continue adding places as I visit them. There are many other places to delight a demand for dessert, and I have goals to conquer those, too! However, for now, here's a short list:

 Truffles @ Espresso News

Espresso News Coffee Shop | 267 Howard St. Boone, NC
As far as I know, this is the only place in town where you can get homemade chocolate confections. I bypassed trying them on my first visit, but I couldn't stop thinking about them, so I had to go back for a taste. Espresso News is mainly known for their coffee, but the chocolate is noteworthy as well!

Caramel Frappe @ Higher Grounds Coffee Shop

Higher Grounds Coffee Shop | 201 New Market Center #10 Boone, NC
Located not too far from Downtown Boone, NC, this coffee shop is tucked away in a shopping center. You'd probably miss it if you didn't know this gem was hidden there. The Caramel Frappes are a pleasing pick-me-up. I also recommend trying the chocolate covered espresso beans, they are yummy!

 chocolate chip cookie @ Stick Boy Bread Company

Stick Boy Bread Company |  345 Hardin St. Boone, NC
This bakery has more than delicious chocolate chip cookies, they bake fresh bread daily, make cakes and other desserts, and serve coffee too! A great place to stop in and grab a treat. The cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing are ridiculously decadent and delicious, so be sure to get one of those, too!

Gelato from Scoops Cafe

Scoops Cafe | 450 New Market Boulevard Boone, NC

This is the only place in Boone, NC where you can get homemade Gelato. They have many flavors to choose from that are all great. They make it difficult to decide on which one to get! Many people might overlook this establishment because it's off the main strip, however, it's in the same shopping center as Higher Grounds. How about you visit both during the same trip?! We did :D

Frozen Custard

The Custard Depot | 228 Howard St. Boone, NC
In the heart of Downtown Boone, this shop dishes out scoop after scoop of the creamiest custard in all the land. Not that they have any competition, since they are the only place to get custard as far as I know. It's thick and creamy, and I love how they only make a couple flavors everyday, so you know it's super fresh. I'm always on the lookout for the flavor-of-the-day, they like to keep things interesting!

Where is your favorite place to get a sweet treat when a craving strikes?

View Places to Eat Sweets in Boone, NC in a larger map

Sony Cybershot WX9

All of the images in the blog post were taken with the Sony Cybershot WX9. It's an awesome new point and shot that takes HD videos and 3D still images! If you are interested in finding out more, please visit the recent review I posted here: "10 Reasons Why You Want to WIN a Sony WX9".

Foodie Friday is a new feature that I want to share on Wayfaring Wanderer every week. It won't always contain lists of places to eat, although it will always be food related! If you are interested in participating in FF, please let me know in the comments. I'd love for others to join in, too!

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10 Reasons Why You Want to WIN a Sony WX9 | Digital Camera Review

Sony Cybershot WX9

On the morning we received our cameras, a brief overview of the features were given and in no time we were all snap happy and testing out the various modes and settings. I was blown away by some of this models highlights because it offers some really neat capabilities. While I could go on and on about all of the wonderful features this point and shoot powerhouse carries, I will just share some of my favorites with you in list form.

{This post is part of a series outlining a recent trip I took to San Diego, California to take part in an event that Sony Electronics was hosting for food bloggers to test out the new Sony Cyber-shot WX9. To learn more about this trip, visit the links at the end of this post.

10 Reasons Why You Want to Win a Sony Cyber-shot WX9

Graham's | Tawny Porto
  • Defocus Mode: This ended up being one of my most favorite attributes of this camera because it mimics something that is—in most cases—only possible with a DSLR (depending on your lens and settings). The feature works in the same way as using a wide open aperture would to create a shallow depth of field (blurred background). However, because this can't be achieved with certain point and shoots because they lack the necessary controls, the Defocus feature gives you a similar effect without the need for manual settings. When using this mode, it will take two different photos, one in focus and one out of focus, it then merges the two together, leaving the main subject crisp and the background blurred. It produced some lovely results when I was taking pictures; I stayed in the Defocus mode more than any other during our day of shooting.

  • Full HD 1080/60i: Due to the fact that my Sony A700 does not have video functionality, I was happy to know that this p&s would have what my DSLR lacks. We have another method of shooting video that is also supposed to be in HD, but it is no where near the same quality of the WX9. When the camera switches over to movie mode, it looks crystal clear—the way it should. And the video quality doesn't disappoint either once you get it to the computer. The results are awesome! The only issue I have had is figuring out how to properly upload the HD version of my videos online. The HD video uploaded to Facebook, but not in Vimeo?!? Aside from that minor issue, I'm looking forward to adding more videos to my adventures! (See an HD video on FB)

Oceanside Beach Pano
  • iSweep Panorama mode: For those moments when you can't quite squeeze everything into one frame. This high resolution feature will stitch multiple images, in camera, to create a panoramic photograph. It's actually kind of fun to use this mode. Using a sweeping motion, and following the directional arrow on screen, you pan the landscape as steadily as you can without going too fast or slow. Using this mode had a slight learning curve, however, it was pretty easy once you got used to it. I especially like that you could do horizontal and vertical panoramic images. I can see a vertical pano coming in handy for a tall building or ginormous tree.
  • Soft Skin mode: Once the girls found out about this feature it became a running joke throughout the day. “Don't take a photo of me without the soft skin mode on!” I'll just go ahead and say that all of my fellow laydeh food bloggers didn't need to worry about enhancing their beauty any further, but using the feature did make a noticeable difference in the images it produced without looking fake. Somehow, the camera is able to recognize skin tones to reduce the appearance of blemishes and wrinkles in a matter of seconds! After using this feature, I zoomed in on some self-portraits I took using the SS mode and I had a hard time distinguishing where the effect was applied. It was like magic :D
3D Glasses
  • 3D Images: Now, unless you own your very own 3D TV, this option—at least, for most people—is a complete novelty. But I have to admit that it's WICKED COOL! The camera takes two images, one for the left eye and one for the right, to capture photographs in a way that you've never seen them before. That is, if you have access to a 3D TV. Although there is an option to take a 3D iSweep Multi-Angle Panoramic that will preview a tilting playback that simulates a 3D view. When previewing, you move the camera from side-to-side to see it in action; it was really freaky to see, but pretty neat. Later on, at the Sony Headquarters dinner, they had an enormous 3D TV set up, so that we could preview some of the 3D images taken earlier that day. The Buddah Hand Lemons were something that we got to see in 3D, talk about freaky! I'll keep my eye out for 3D picture frame developments since I don't see a new TV in my future :D
  • HDR (Backlight Correction): You know those photos that you can't quite get right at times, where one element in the frame is properly exposed while another is dark or blown out? This works in the same way that bracketing an image can achieve with a DSLR. Bracketing takes several images with different exposures, some overexposed, some underexposed, and—according to the camera's meter—one “properly” exposed image. With the HDR mode on the WX9, it does the same thing but you aren't required to do any post-processing, because it merges the files in-camera and the results can be seen instantly. This helps you capture high contrast shots where the entire scene is evenly exposed. It works as advertised, too. I could see a distinct difference between my shots and how using it brightened areas that were darker in the images I took in the program/auto mode.
In-Camera Guide | Sony WX9
  • In-Camera Guide: I was a little perplexed as to why the Instruction Manual wasn't really delivering with the instructional part until I realized that most of the information (beyond the basis) about how to use certain features were contained inside the camera, and could be accessed using the Menu controls. To me, this definitely seems like an advancement that more camera companies should think about adopting—maybe they do and I just don't know. Instead of making sure that I have a manual with me at all times, I can simply access help right when I need it. Although this might just be something that I enjoy because I like to read manuals when I get them with electronics?!? Be careful, it's easy to drain the battery looking through the index! (BTW, the WX9 comes with a rechargeable battery.)
  • Superior Auto Mode: In this mode, the camera automatically detects and selects the correct scene mode (out of 33 possible options), so that you aren't fumbling to pick one when you need to be quick! The camera takes up to six shots and combines them using the same technology for the HDR mode (as mentioned above). Layering the images is also a way of reducing noise to get cleaner images with a high dynamic range.
  • Smile Shutter Technology: This wasn't one of the features I tested while in San Diego, however, Cody and I tried it out last week to see how it worked. When using this setting, the camera automatically detects when a person smiles and snaps a photo all by itself. I was amazed! It even had varying degrees of sensitivity. You can select normal smile, BIG smile, or slight smile. How funny is that?!? We were total goofs when fooling around with this feature, but I can see how it can come in handy under certain circumstances with things like self-portraits and such.

    Palm of my Hand

  • Size: As I mentioned in a previous post, it's not always convenient to carry the heavy duty DSLR, which is where this pocket-sized point and shoot will come in handy. It fits in the palm of my hand, the “front” pocket of my jeans, and on top of that, it's light and ultra thin. (Dimensions: W x H x D: 3 3/4” x 2 1/4” x 25/32” / Weight: 4.9 oz)

  • Honorable Mention: Gourmet ModeThis setting is ideal for taking pictures of food. It brightens the colors slightly, and also switches to macro when you get up close to the plate. This was one of the main reasons why the foodie bloggers were in San Diego, to test out this particular mode. I used this a number of times and the results were exceptional. 

  • Model Highlights: 16.2 megapixels, 5x optical zoom, Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar® lens, 3.0" screen, Full HD 1080/60i video, "Exmor R" CMOS sensor, 10fps, background defocus, manual control, 3D Sweep Panorama

The eleven features I have outlined here only scratch the surface of what this point and shoot is capable of. The Sony Cyber-shot WX9 is an impressive piece of technology that I am pretty pleased to be in possession of. Ever since I've been back from San Diego, I haven't really touched my A700. Instead, I've been toting around my WX9 with me everywhere! Not to worry, though, it won't replace my pride and joy, but it is a whole heap of fun to play around with. I am thrilled to have added it to my camera collection (now, I just need to get my hands on an NEX!!). I can't thank the people at Sony enough for gifting this amazing camera to me.

You'll be pleased to know that the Sony folks have decided to share the love, and will be providing me with an additional Sony Cyber-shot WX9 to giveaway to one of my lucky readers! How awesome is that?!? I'll announced the conditions of the giveaway in an upcoming post. Be sure to connect with WW on Facebook or subscribe another way (see the sidebar --------> for more options), so that you get the details first!  Other prize packages will also be awarded, so there will be several chances to win great stuff :D

What is your experience with point and shoot cameras? Do you own one?
What do you think of the Sony WX9?
 Please share your thoughts!

Wanna see more?!? Images & Videos Taken w/ the Sony Cybershot WX9:

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New SONY Point & Shoot Camera | Cyber-shot WX9 [Preview]

If you took a moment to watch the embedded video (which I think you should), you would have been introduced to a truly amazing digital camera. It's not due to be released by Sony Electronics until later this month, however, I got my hot little hands on one early! 

It feels like it's been a long period of time since I've owned a compact point and shoot camera. A good indication of how far back I'm talking about will be easily understood once I reveal how many mega pixels it was. While I can't remember the exact model of the camera I had, I do recall that it was a measly 3 mega pixels compared to the massive amount of mpx's Sony's new point and shoot possesses. However, back then, that was considered a good size for a casual shooter.

Now, though, the same technology just doesn't cut the mustard! We want bigger and better. More mega pixels and features than we know what to do with, really. This is where our insatiable appetites for cutting edge technology forces companies to meet and exceed the demands we place on the market. The folks over at Sony Electronics are setting out to do just that, and are blowing us away in the process!

As a photographer who primarily shoots with a digital SLR (Sony A700), I am serious when it comes to gaining more control over my photographs, which is why I bypassed purchasing a newer point and shoot camera—to replace my puny 3 mpx— in favor of something that could deliver what I needed to grow and become a better photographer. A great deal of research went into the process of selecting my camera, which is extremely complicated in an over-saturated market. You can visit countless websites and read tons of reviews, and still be left scratching your head over which one to choose in the end. Although I'm completely confident that I made the right decision upon upgrading my equipment.

While I absolutely love my camera—for a while now—I have contemplated purchasing a compact camera that I could keep with me daily. Typically, I'm not one of those photographers who “never leaves home without her camera”. I mean, seriously, my DSLR and beefy lenses can get heavy (even if I'm only using my 50mm), and I don't always want to feel encumbered by my gear when I just want to go out for a few hours. But there are times when I wish that I had a camera with me to snap a quick shot of whatever catches my eye. That would be the only drawback of being a DSLR owner. Recently, I was given an opportunity to see how far point and shoot cameras have come since the last time I owned one, and boy was I impressed!

At the end of March, I was invited to San Diego, CA by someone from Sony Electronics to come and try out one of their new cameras due to release some time this month, the Sony Cybershot WX9. After reviewing the preview of this camera online, I was extremely excited to get my hands on one to see how it performed. Initially, I was under the impression that we would just be trying it out and giving them back at the end of the event, but I was super pleased to discover that they were giving them to us to keep! Imagine how happy a room full of bloggers (approx 11 of us) were when this tidbit of news was announced. Sony seriously spoiled us!

During the course of my stay in San Diego, CA, I familiarized myself with the new Sony camera and its features. There are quite a few of them that I came to love, and I want to share them with you in a post called “10 Reasons Why You Want to WIN a Sony WX9”. I could have went on and on about all the things I loved about this digital camera, however, I decided to highlight the features I enjoyed using the most. A sweet surprise will also be announced with the next blog post, so stay tuned for that exciting news! Be sure to connect with WW on Facebook or subscribe another way (see the sidebar --------> for more options), so that you get the details first! 

What is your experience with point and shoot cameras? Do you own one?
What do you think of the Sony WX9?
 Please share your thoughts!

Images & Videos Taken w/ the Sony Cybershot WX9:

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      Oceanside Farmer's Market & Picnic | Sony Foodie Blogger Event | San Diego, CA

      {This post is part of a series outlining a recent trip I took to San Diego, California to take part in an event that Sony Electronics was hosting for food bloggers to test out the new Sony Cyber-shot WX9. All images within this post were taken with the new WX9 that will be released sometime in April.}

      Oceaside Farmers Market Collage

      Before we began terrorizing vendors and their products, as if we were paparazzi looking to get paid, Chef Chris Ivens-Brown gave us a little insight into his philosophy and approach to cooking and preparing meals. He also shared additional information regarding his efforts to raise awareness to help consumers make more sustainable choices when selecting food, especially when it comes to seafood. It was refreshing to see a Chef, who's not just jumping on the slow food bandwagon, instead he's someone who is actually using his influence to make positive changes for a lasting impact. (I hope to share more about his efforts in a future post.)

      Unleashing a group of food bloggers who were freshly gifted with shiny new Sony cameras on the Oceanside Farmer's Market was an extremely interesting experience to be a part of. People perusing the vendor-filled streets had an inkling that something was special about what we were doing, although they weren't exactly sure what we were up to. One giveaway, was that we all had the same point and shoot cameras in hand accompanied by the same wild look in our eye as we set out to capture images.

      Farmer's Market Flowers

      Catching so much attention from onlookers required me to field quite a few comments and questions from curious customers and vendors about our association with Sony, which also lead to spilling the beans about the new Sony Cyber-shot WX9 and the cool features we were testing out. My enthusiasm for this handy camera was extremely apparent as I explained my favorite modes, although the point was not for us to become new sales people for Sony, we were supposed to just have fun and take pictures. However, keeping quiet about the camera would have been very difficult to do given the circumstances.

      We had about an hour to explore the market before we needed to meet back at the bus for the picnic lunch. I, of course, used that time to photograph a number of different things that caught my eye. The many flowers on display were my most favorite subject to capture, but I also enjoyed shooting the more unusual items discovered along the way, too. An interesting encounter that blew my mind were the Buddah Hand lemons, never have I seen a citrus fruit with tentacles before! They looked alien and super creepy.

      Buddah Hand Lemons

      The tastiest treat I sampled was the raw pickled garlic with cayenne pepper (pictured in the collage above). Luckily, a fellow blogger urged me to go back and try some before we left the market. I'm not one who typically likes raw garlic, but this combination was sooooooooo good. It only took me about 2 seconds to figure out that I needed to buy a jar to take home, especially since Cody enjoys eating raw garlic. I knew that he'd love this stuff. The jar is quickly dwindling!

      After spending some time walking around the market, it was time to be taken to our ocean side picnic. As I mentioned in the sneak peek posted earlier in the week, this was not your typical picnic! Instead of blankets in the grass as I envisioned, we would be dining beneath shaded tents overlooking the ocean.

      Table Triptych

      The food spread spanned two six foot tables that were covered with the most delicious looking food from end to end. Chef Chris Ivens-Brown thoroughly explained what each dish was before the bloggers began preparing their plates. There was barely any space left on my plate by the time I made it to the end of the table. It was too sad that I didn't leave any room for the cheese platter. It was a sacrifice that I chose to make, though. Besides, I was much more concerned about leaving room for dessert!

      Picnic Triptych

      Although leaving room proved to be a lot more difficult than I anticipated after I began enjoying my meal. I scarfed down the Smoked Turkey Club with applewood smoked bacon, garlic aioli, and a cage free boiled egg. And the Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Cake was also one of my favorite flavors along with the Cedar Wood Seared Wild Salmon. Truth be told, it was all delicious, and I wanted to eat more than I had room for!

      Lunch Plate of Yummy Goodness
      {Click on this image to see the food tags}

      At the end of the massive meal, I joked that it'd be awesome if I had a second stomach, so that I could keep going, but alas, I had to show some restraint. Although any little bit I did manage to exercise was pretty short-lived, because dessert was soon placed in front of my face. I heard the words Chocolate Molten Cookie come out of the chef's mouth, and I lost all control! Do you blame me?!? I didn't think so.

      Dessert Diptych

      Amazing food, great company, and the beach in the background all converged to create an experience I felt extremely lucky to have been a part of. The coordinators of this event, Chef Chris' team and the Sony Staff, did a wonderful job of making it a memorable afternoon. It was hard to believe that the day wasn't over yet, either. We still had dinner at Sony Headquarters to look forward to, which totally blew this lunch out of the water! If you love food as much as I do, you won't want to miss the upcoming post I have in store for our dinner!! (Follow WW on Facebook to receive updates about new posts, recently added photos, and a giveaway that I'll be announcing soon!)

      Which one of Chef Chris' dishes looked the most appetizing to you? Maybe you'd want to go light and sample the Grilled Vegetable Brushetta? Or, perhaps, you would skip the main course and go straight to dessert? If you share your thoughts, I may post a recipe or two!

      If you enjoyed this post, I encourage you to hit the “Like” button and share with others. Thank you :D

      Related Links:

        {VIDEO} Oceanside Picnic w/ Chef Chris Ivens-Brown | Sony Foodie Blogger Event | California

        This video was taken as Chef Chris Ivens-Brown explained the dishes we would be sampling for lunch during the Sony Foodie Blogger picnic in San Diego, CA. It stinks that my camera battery died right before he was done, but this still gives you a great run down of what's in store. You can see this in HD on Facebook.

        Want to see more?
         I'll be sharing the images from the Oceanside Farmer's Market and picnic this Sunday! Bring your appetite :D
         The details I have posted about the event so far can be found here:​4paGP