Everyone loves getting awards! There are a few that make their way around the blogging realm like digital chain letters. You get nominated, you have to write something, and then you nominate other lucky bloggers.

And…I’m a huge nerd who loves this kind of stuff!! Since had so much fun with my Liebster Award, I am honored to accept the Versatile Blogger Award from the super fabulous Anna at Slightly Astray. She writes about travel, life, love and food and I’m pretty sure we would be instant friends if we met in real life. Thanks, Anna!

So, the rules are that I have to tell you 7 random facts about myself and then I get to pass this on like happy herpes to other awesome bloggers.

1. My secret dream is to have a game item in World of Warcraft named after me.

Yep, I am a fantasy-loving gamer chick. About 10 years ago I used to fight with my then-boyfriend over how much he was playing this stupid little video game called World of Warcraft. He convinced me to make my own character just so I could try it.

Today, I have 6 level 90’s (7 if you count the horde toon I made during a temporary lapse in judgment). It’s one of the things I really miss while traveling, mostly because I have been playing with the same group of people for more than 6 years now and many of us are friends in real life as well.

2. I am both a first and a middle child.

When I was born I had a blissful 5 years as an only child and then they adopted this freaking adorable baby boy from India. I was enthralled and we became BFFs forever. (Many years later, I’m still closest with my little brother, although he has gotten considerably less cute. Haha jk, Caleb!)

Family Portrait

This is the most accurate family portrait we’ve ever taken…

Clearly this whole adoption thing was a hit. The parental units decided to give it another go, this time with a brother/sister duo, also from India, who were a few years older than me. There were a few more growing pains the 2nd time around, probably because these guys were old enough to talk back, but eventually we all gelled. And years later my little sister was born. She was an oops. (Don’t worry, she already knows.)

So even though I was first, I’m smack dab in the middle of a horde of kids. Lucky me, I get BOTH complexes!

3. Everyone thinks my younger sister and I are twins even though we’re 10 years apart.

Seriously, we get asked constantly if we’re twins. We’re not sure whether I should be flattered or she should be insulted. Probably both. For the record, we don’t think we actually look that much alike aside from the fact that we both have black hair. Hilarious, because she’s a natural blonde and mine is reddish, I think (see #4). We’ll concede that we both have the same terrible, horrible nose. In fact, if anyone knows of a plastic surgeon who will do ‘2 for the price of 1’ rhinoplasty, we’re in.

Ali Mandie Twins

I mean…okay, we KIND of look alike…

4. I don’t know my natural hair color.

I’m fairly sure my hair is some shade of reddish-blonde naturally, but it hasn’t been its natural color since I was in high school. I will change my look up completely on a whim. I’ve had blonde, red, brunette, black, and even blue hair. (For the record, brunettes have the most fun, not blondes.) If I was going to psychoanalyze myself I’d say that all of this was feeding my need for change before I discovered traveling.

Mandie Hair Colors

Here’s a collage of some of my hair colors. Okay, that green’s not real.

5. I bought my first horse when I was 10 – without permission.

A lot of kids come home with a stray kitten they found, or maybe even a puppy. Me? Nope, I go big or go home. My parents were slightly unprepared when I showed up with a big bay Quarter Horse and announced that he was mine. God love them, they went to Lowe’s, bought some electric fence, and strung it around the yard. (Pro tip: it’s best if you have a fence and a barn BEFORE you get the horse, but common sense has never been my strong suit.)

I rode for many years, and even managed an equestrian center & taught lessons before I got itchy feet. Once I started moving around a lot, I had to give up my horses, although my parents still have some to this day.

6. I can play weird, useless musical instruments.

Once, an old cowboy at a dude ranch in Montana gave me a harmonica. I sat around campfires and played ‘Home on the Range’ like it was my job. I can’t believe no one slapped me and threw the harmonica over a cliff.

In high school I played in a hand bell choir. Hand bells are something that no one appreciates until Christmas rolls around, but that was OUR TIME, baby. Oh, I rocked that Christmas music.

I could have graduated college early but instead I used my last semester to take courses like Costume Design, Creative Writing, and…Recorder. In case you don’t know, the recorder is a reed instrument typically played by 4th graders. If I ever meet you in real life I’ll play you a haunting rendition of ‘My Heart Will Go On.’

7. Travel is not my #1 passion.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to travel. I’ve just returned home from an epic European adventure and I can’t wait to get out into the world again.

But…my REAL passion is freedom. Having the freedom to travel; to live life on my own terms; to take the road less traveled and make every second count no matter where I am in the world.

That’s me, folks! So now…on to my nominees.

I nominate:

Amy from Creatrice Mondial

Sabina from Girl vs. Globe

Dave from Cook Sip Go

Greg from Travel Blue Book

Amy from The Unsettled Meliorist


Go write me some nonsensical random facts, friends!



Mandie is a writer, rebel & web design junkie. In her spare time she enjoys drinking wine, traveling & working on her perpetually unfinished novel. She was a nerd before it was cool.

Related Posts


  1. RealGunners    

    A bloody awesome life you’ve got there. Especially your hair adventures 😀 !
    I like that your #1 passion is freedom. Some people say, don’t be a slave to your job and go travel, but that kind of means you become a slave to traveling. Freedom to do whatever you want is much much better!

    1. Mandie    

      I agree! Traveling is amazing but I don’t know that I’d want to do it non-stop at this point!

  2. Amy Lynne Hayes    

    I LOVE that you bought a horse when you were 10 years old!! I grew up riding horses as well – started when I was about 8 years old. I can’t even imagine what the look on my parents face would have been if I stumbled home with one at that age lol. Thanks for the nomination, and make sure you maintain that freedom now that you’re back in the States! 🙂

  3. Anna    

    Love this!!! But I have a question now… how did you manage to purchase a horse when you were only 10?! LOL!!!
    And I LOVE that you have a half-Indian family!! I don’t know why, but cross-cultural adoption (is that the correct term?) stories give me the warm fuzzies. 🙂

    1. Mandie    

      Umm, I was a crazy little kid who saved all my allowance, birthday & Christmas money. I used to bug the neighbors to let me rake their lawns and stuff, too. Oh, and I used to direct these plays and cast all the neighborhood kids so that their parents would have to come buy tickets. I was a hustler. Lol

  4. Ryan Biddulph    

    Hi Mandie,

    I LOVE your family. Awesome shot, and what a fun experience it must have been, growing up with so much of the world, as your siblings. Awesomeness.

    Amen on 7. I love travel for sure and I’m elated to be typing these words from Savusauv, Fiji, but I always and still crave freedom more than anything.

    We’ll be here until late October. Then off to Bali for a month. Then back to NJ for Christmas, then off to, who knows where next? Maybe Central America as we have our eyes fixed there, but that’s the excitement of it all.

    Kelli and I are free to go where we want, when we want, and we always made being free our #1 passion, or goal, in life. Now we’re inspiring more folks to be free, to both take people with us (if they don’t mind living in Bali and Fiji for months through monetizing their blog), or, if they simply want to retire from the 9-5, to work from their home/paradise, more power to them. We’re here to inspire, as you have, wonderfully, I might add.

    Thanks Mandie for the fun post and thanks for your wonderful comments on my blog.

    I’ll tweet this in a bit. Enjoy your weekend.


    1. Mandie    

      Thanks Ryan!

      Growing up was a wild ride, and I’m grateful that I was exposed to other cultures at a young age. I think it helped fuel my wanderlust. 🙂

      You and Kelli have worked hard to create an amazing life for yourselves! It’s such an inspiration to see people embracing the belief that they can live any kind of life they dream of. We do NOT have to be stuck in someone else’s idea of what life should look like. The key to achieving freedom is inside our own minds.

      If I were single I would definitely move to Fiji or Bali and let you guys mentor me, but I have promised my special someone no more 5 month trips in the immediate future. So, next up, road trip across the US to see all the National Parks I’ve always dreamed of. Adventure is an attitude! 🙂

  5. Amy    

    Ha! I love your random facts! I’ve always loved your blog and this helps me confirm why – you really are a girl after my own heart! I, too, haven’t seen my real hair color for many, many years (although I think it might be half gray now…eek!), spent my childhood through college years making my parents dish out their life savings on horses, and play weird random instruments ( I bought a banjo last year on a whim. Why? Still no idea). Anyways, great list 🙂 Thanks again for the nomination!

    1. Mandie    

      I know, I’m pretty sure if we met we would definitely be friends. Also, we both like words that no one else knows (meliorist & eleutheromaniac) lol. You bought a banjo?? I’m so jealous – I’ve always wanted a banjo!!! Pretty sure my bf would kill me haha.

  6. Dale    

    Love your answer to number seven.

    Freedom is so important and crucial to everyone everywhere to have a happy life where they can make the changes they want to improve their happiness.

    1. Mandie    

      Thanks Dale! It’s true – freedom is the key!

  7. Kevin Duncan    

    Hi Mandie,

    My wife reads all the comments on my blog, and after you left me yours the other day she asked me: “Have you visited the traveling Mandie’s blog yet? She’s really interesting!”

    I had to admit I had not yet visited you yet, but that has now changed. Love your blog and, especially, your writing voice. Your personality comes through in your writing, and it makes for an — as my wife said — interesting read. 🙂

    Thank you for visiting Be A Better Blogger and leaving a comment. Your comment led me here to your wonderful blog and amazing story. Quitting the rat race… ah, I hope to do that one day, too.

    Hope you have a great weekend, Mandie!

    1. Mandie    

      Hey Kevin,

      Thanks for hopping over to my little corner of the internet. I’m so glad your wife (and you) found my blog interesting! It took me a few months of writing to find my voice but I feel comfortable with it now, so I think that allows my personality to shine a little more. And knowing that my mom is reading helps keep the cussing to a minimum. 😉

      Quitting the rat race is probably a better idea if you have a little more of a financial cushion than I did, but then again, you never know just how capable and determined you are until it’s sink or swim. I have no doubt that with your exceptional and inspirational blog, you will achieve any kind of freedom that you want in your life!

      I look forward to delving deeper into your archives, and I just signed up for your newsletter as well.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Hitch-Hikers Handbook    

    Wonderful and inspiring blog, Mandie! Thanks a lot for following us on Twitter! Travel safe and keep up your great work!!

  9. Shikha (whywasteannualleave)    

    FANTASTIC answers Mandie!! Can’t beleive you bought a horse at such a young age and love hearing about your adopted siblings from India (the country of my heritage) 🙂

    1. Mandie    

      Thanks for stopping by Shikha! Sometimes I forget that my family is anything out of the ordinary because to me they’re just…my family. I suppose it helped me to grow up not really noticing skin color, though, so I’m really lucky in that respect. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge