2014 In Review

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport|| 8 Comments

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 was a year of firsts: first job, first apartment, first time living by myself. This time last year I had just moved back in with my parents after graduating and thinking about how the upcoming year was wide open. I moved to Tallahassee in March and have loved every minute of it. I visited Samantha in Texas, we roadtripped to Orlando to hang out in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, and spent a few weekends in Jacksonville and St. Simons Island.

I'm still in the process of decorating my apartment, but after a few months of sleeping on a mattress on the floor, it's coming along nicely. I also hopped on the modern calligraphy bandwagon, and although I haven't been doing as much lately, it's one of my 2015 goals to start back up again. 

And now for a walk down memory lane: 




Blogging: A Look Back at 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 4 Comments

Monday, December 29, 2014


2014 was an exciting year on Stamp in My Passport. I splurged on a custom blog design from The Suitcase Designs and couldn't be more happier with it. I surpassed 500 followers on Bloglovin and made so many friends through hosting the Tourist in Your Hometown series (plus I learned of so many things to eat, see and do when traveling across the country.) I absolutely cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store for this blog! For now, here is a look at my favorite posts from this year.

Travel








Blogging






Etc.







Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 1 Comment

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Merry Christmas from Dixie and me! May your day be filled with laughter, joy, family, friends and (in your fur baby's case) lots of treats from the table. Enjoy!

Christmas Time is Here: A Playlist

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , , | 1 Comment

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The official countdown to Christmas has begun. The week is filled with driving around looking at Christmas lights, drinking warm drinks sitting next to a twinkling tree. There is an obscene amount of baking going on and the house will have a permanent smell of cinnamon for weeks to come. If, like me, you are enjoying these last few days before the holiday in the office, then the break room is filled with everyone's favorite snacks and Christmas cards are constantly being circulated through inter-office mail. 

Say what you will about the hyper-commercialism of the season, but still at the heart of the it is spending time with those who matter most. Whether you are in the office, driving, braving the crowded airport terminals or sitting by a fire, enjoy this Christmas mix in the background. It's full of all of my favorite classics, 90s hits and folksy tunes.


Friday Favorites: Datebooks

Friday, December 19, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 8 Comments

Friday, December 19, 2014

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

I am a pen and paper kind of girl when it comes to keeping to a schedule and to-do list. When I say "I'll pencil you in" I would like to actually do just that instead of type it into iCal. Call me crazy. My planner is used as an all-in-one and includes blog post ideas/schedule, appointments, travel dates, to-do lists, meal planning and grocery list. For me, keeping all of this in one central location is crucial instead of having lists, sticky notes (both  the paper and digital kind) scattered to and fro. I will admit though that I do additionally put important appointments and dates, the kind that require reminders, on my iCal. That way I can quickly scan through the notifications panel on my phone in the morning and have a quick snapshot of major events for that day.

What I look for in a planner/agenda: 

1. Month view and week view: I like to put what weekends I'll be out of town on the monthly view as well as longer events to get a quick overview of the weeks ahead. The weekly view then becomes my daily to-do list, etc. 

2. Medium-large size: For everything I try and write in my datebook, a pocket size won't make the cut unless I don't mind getting carpel tunnel from writing so small. 

3. 17-month academic length: Some habits never go away, but for some reason I still associate August with picking out a new planner rather than starting fresh on New Year's. Perhaps this will change as time goes on?

4. Finally, it should be pretty. It's always sitting out on my desk and almost always in sight, so might as well have something nice to look at. My favorite trends right now are gold foil, kraft paper and oxblood. I also love the Lilly Pulitzer artwork on the month divisions.

Book Review: The Goldfinch

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 6 Comments

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Goldfinch was all anyone was talking about this summer. After reading The Secret History several years ago, I knew that I would devour The Goldfinch the same way. The plot starts out quite slow, and it was a struggle to make it halfway through, but after that I couldn't put it down. The main character, Theo, is one of those people who just can't seem to catch a break. First he loses his mom in a tragic accident, then is forced to move in with his addiction-laden father and his girlfriend until a few years later, his father dies as well. Boris, one of Theo's only friends, is his source of joy and trouble.

Donna Tartt is a genius of weaving several storylines together and ultimately tying them up in a nice bow at the end. Theo's life takes him from an NYC prep school, to Vegas, back to New York and then abroad. The one interlacing feature is the painting, the goldfinch. It is Theo's last connection to his mother and he brings it with him everywhere for fear that he will lose her for good. But the criminal underworld of art theft is not for the feint of heart. 

More than a simple mystery-thriller, The Goldfinch is also an excellent character study. It centers around three groups of people in Theo's life who couldn't be more different from each other: the Barbours, a WASP upper east side family that briefly takes Theo in after his mother dies; Theo's father and his Vegas crowd full of gambling, drugs, and a lack of parental care; and finally Hobby and Pippa, who share a connection with Theo to the tragic afternoon Theo lost his mother and who ultimately take him in during his adult life.

What were your thoughts of the book?

Jasmine of A Pinch of Jasmine


Introduce yourself and tell us a little about your blog!
Hi, I'm Jasmine from A Pinch Of Jasmine. I'm a twenty-something lifestyle blogger who enjoys sharing how to enjoy life while tackling every obstacle of work and school. I'm a proud puppy momma to an almost two-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, Winston. Things I love? Anything floral, gold sparkle, food, yoga, Disney and, of course, my other half, my boyfriend. 


Do you love decorating for Christmas? What are you decking your tree with this year?
I love decorating for Christmas. This year, I'm focusing on gold for the Christmas tree. 


What is your idea of the perfect Sunday?
My idea of the perfect Sunday is: church, farmer's market and a movie.


I wish I knew how to ________ .
 I wish I knew how to: cook. I am slowly learning, but I am nowhere near being able to say, "Yes, I can cook." because I can't. Not yet.

Follow along: twitter | instagram | pinterest

Christina of Route Bliss


Introduce yourself and tell us a little about your blog!
I'm Christina, the girl behind the scenes at Route Bliss. I'm a 30-something single wannabe vagabond whose practicality and realist side keeps her planted in East Texas. By weekday I write lots of reports at my job as well as daydream frequently where I want to travel to next, ways to motivate myself to getting fit for health and happiness's sake, and experimenting in the kitchen to make my favorite not so healthy foods healthier. I also like to take lots of photos of pretty things, furry critters (aka canines and felines), and beautiful destinations.


Do you love decorating for Christmas? What are you decking your tree with this year?
Once the tree is up (my least favorite part since I have to unsmoosh branches from being in storage), I enjoy the rest of the process. My tree is travel themed this year with ornaments and other mementos I've converted into ornaments from destinations I've been to over the last several years.


What is your idea of the perfect Sunday?
Sleeping in, catching up on some reading or going for a run/hike on the trails at the local arboretum; reality is that doesn't happen often! 


I wish I knew how to ________ .
Craft-wise, knit or crochet. I lack the coordination :( Talent-wise, to wink. I kid you not, I cannot wink to save my life!

Follow along: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

What you should be reading: 

Coffee Talk

Saturday, December 13, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 3 Comments

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Warm sweaters, thick socks and scarves can only be made better when they are all in mixed-matched fair isle patterns. They make for perfect lounge wear that you aren't embarrassed to answer the door in. 

Chrismas decor can sometimes overwhelm small spaces. Find the compromise between bah humbug and SANTA, HE'S MY FAVORITE! with these holiday tips for decorating a small space.

Looking to create a centerpiece for your holiday table? Try recreating Laura's table setting.

I love book and I love London, so it's no surprise that I will love Natalie's "10 books to read if you love London."

This is the ultimate gift guide for the T Swift fan in your life (or for yourself, if you are said T Swift fan) complete with polaroids, long bobs, and red lips. 

I took a walk down memory lane while reading Jamie's post about her trip to Paris. Le sigh. I can't believe it's been almost three years since my semester abroad. That means I'm overdue for a return visit, right?

Traipsing around castle ruins is one of my favorite activities. Wales' largest castle has now been added to my list to visit.

Since Dixie is not a fan of sweaters or full costumes, perhaps she would wear a festive holiday collar?

What you may have missed this week:
Destinations to "Skip Christmas"
My new favorite resource for planning foodcations

But First, We Eat

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , , , | 6 Comments

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


I am a firm believer in the foodcation (as proven here and here). Before going on vacation, some ask friends, family, and Twitter what are the best places to stay, or see, or experience. I am more concerned about where the best places to eat are. Good weather and a full stomach are almost always going to ensure that your vacation is remembered as a good one. You can explore a city or a region through their local eateries. You see how people really live, work and play instead of being surrounded by other vacationers or passers-through.

We've all been there. Sitting in a car in a semi-deserted parking lot trying to decide where to eat. There's a group and some of you are on the verge of hanger. You must make a decision ASAP or you might not all be friends by the end of the night. At this point you are tempted to google the nearest Panera or Chipotle and call it a night, despite the fact that you vowed not to eat at places you have back home.

And this is where my new favorite foodcation planning tool comes into play. The Besty helps people all over the world find the best restaurants and food. You can create a profile and share your favorite restaurants, both local and from your travels, and also search based on location or food type depending on what you're in the mood for. The interface and feel of the website is much more streamlined than Yelp and Urbanspoon. The recommendation feature is also helpful. Have a foodie friend who never steers you wrong at dinner? Follow them on The Besty (or encourage them to join) so you can stay up-to-date with where they've been eating lately.

Want to keep up with my foodcations? Follow along here :) 

When you are traveling or looking to try a new restaurant in town, what is your go-to source of reviews and recommendations? 

Skipping Christmas

Monday, December 8, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 10 Comments

Monday, December 8, 2014

Did anyone else read Skipping Christmas by John Grisham? (You might also know it's movie counterpart, Christmas with the Kranks, but trust me, the book is much better.) While I would never go to the lengths that they did to avoid all of the holiday's traditions, buying a tree from the Boy Scouts' annual sale, sending cards, decorating the house and spending time with family and friends, sometimes we tend to get wrapped up in the material side of the holiday and end up more stressed out than if we had ignored it altogether. 

Sometimes it might be nice to get away on a Christmas vacation away from a relative's house so no one feels obligated to clean, cook dinner every night and the number of guests to bathroom ratio is much more manageable.
Photo via Stowe Mountain Lodge
If I were to skip Christmas, I would pack my bags and head to Stowe, Vermont to be guaranteed a white Christmas with no chance of wearing shorts while eating Christmas brunch, which is very likely in South Georgia or Florida. Stowe's Mount Mansfield is the highest peak in Vermont and is a draw for winter sports lovers. However, the charming town is also where the von Trapp family made their home after leaving Austria, which is much more appealing to me than a dozen feet of fresh powdered snow. 

I would stay at the Stowe Mountain Lodge, perfect for everyone in the family from the most avid skier to the spa connoisseur. It has ski-in/ski-out access, breathtaking mountain views, day spa, two restaurants and excursions to Montreal and guided Stowe tours of Stowe, in case you get bored on the mountain. 

If you were to "skip Christmas" where would you be off to?

_____________________________________________________________________________

I'm so excited to be co-hosting the Week's End link-up with Elizabeth of Oak & Oats! Every Monday, Elizabeth hosts a link up called Week's End! It is a place for you to link up your favorite post from the week and meet new bloggers. It's all about community and what we can all learn from each other! 

If you are wanting to join the co-host line up, you can sign up here and use code: WEEKSEND for 25% off any Oak + Oats packages.

Hi I'm Jess from Stamp in my Passport! A 20-something doxie lover who spends her time in search of the perfect latte. When I'm not downloading my favorite fonts, I am planning out my next great adventure.



RULES!!!!!
1. Link up ANY POST from last week!
2. Make sure it is a POST and not your BLOG URL. We love your blog but we want you to share a post.
3. Click on one, two, three, or more posts and LEAVE ENCOURAGING COMMENTS. The whole point of this is to find new blogs, make new friends, and all that good stuff! You MUST read the post right before yours and comment.

   
   

COFFEE TALK

Saturday, December 6, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | Be the first to comment!

Saturday, December 6, 2014


The countdown to Christmas has begun! Parades, tree lightings, wreath making and gift giving. Are you as excited as I am? Grab an extra-large coffee and enjoy all of the festivities.

Working on a gallery wall or want to dress up your office on a budget? Maiedae shared their favorite free download prints.

Amanda's travel playlist is the perfect background music for your next long-haul flight or road trip.

Give me all of the cozy, warm plaid.

Are you a fan on The September Issue? Then you will love BBC's 3-part documentary behind the scenes of Tatler. You can find episode one and two here.

Need to set the mood for your Christmas party? Here are two playlists from Lulu & Georgia and The Everygirl to keep your guests in the festive spirit.

Not quite ready to look like a sparkler in a head to toe sequined holiday dress? I am in love with this skirt, sweater, scarf combo that is the perfect compromise.

When you have had one too many turkeys or hams, try this panko crusted honey mustard salmon.


Friday Favorites: Stocking Stuffers

Friday, December 5, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , , , | 6 Comments

Friday, December 5, 2014


I've jumped on the bandwagon. I've taken my Christmas wish list off of it's Pinterest board and am sharing it as inspiration for all of you still on the hunt for the perfect gift for that friend who has more gold in her life than Versailles. Bonus? All items are under $35 so you can keep a little gold (or green) for yourself.

Cest la Vie Print - Rifle Paper Co. - $24
Bird Print Socks  - Anthropologie - $15 (For that friend who's life motto is "put a bird on it")
Bow Necklace - Etsy - $14
Gold Monogramed Mug - Anthropologie - $10
La Vie Boheme Phone Case - Society6 - $35
Colorblock Pouch - J Crew Factory - $24.50 on sale
Cord Taco 5-Pack - This is Ground - $29
Cold Cup Tumbler - Starbucks - $19.95

P.S. I won't tell if you won't if you decide to do a little online shopping for yourself as well. #treatyoself is still relevant in December.

Think Before You Post

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 7 Comments

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


In college, I took a class on "preparing for the real world." This included information on resumes, portfolios, selecting insurance and a retirement plan, etc. One piece of advice that was constantly reiterated is to be careful what you post on social media because your future employees will check your accounts during the job application process. This advice primarily applied to hiding photos from the weekend. 

Once you land a job, the same advice can still apply. What you post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. can negatively affect your employment. Cases like the woman who was fired because of an offensive tweet while flying to South Africa, or more recently the GOP aide who is resigning due to a Facebook post criticizing President Obama's daughters.

Both of these examples are from public relations or communications professionals and I have a hard time believing that they would advise a client or their company to make the same remarks. When working on someone else's communication strategy you tend to either overanalyze everything you say in your personal communication and are hypersensitive to how comments will be received by those around you, or you become too tired thinking three moves ahead and you let your guard down.

Although there is debate as to whether blanket bans on negative social media comments about workplace conditions being unconstitutional, it is a good rule of thumb to keep complaints about your boss, your company and your coworkers off of social media and to find a different means of addressing your concerns. Also refrain from posts about drug use (you would think this would be a given), poking fun at tragedies and racial slurs. 

Once it's on the Internet there is no taking it back. Use the same diligence keeping your social media profiles clean during your job hunt long after you have landed your job. 

Do you know of anyone who was fired due to something they posted on social media? Have any tips for thinking before you post?

30 Before 30: Cooking Class

Monday, November 24, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , , , | 6 Comments

Monday, November 24, 2014


I checked another item off of my 30 before 30 list this weekend. Taking a cooking class is now complete. And if I'm being honest, it is not going to be the last. If you live in Florida (or Atlanta) you can see if there is a Publix cooking school in your area. If so, I highly recommend attending one. They offer both demonstrations and hands-on classes, depending on whether you want to brush up on your knife skills or eat an entire plated meal complete with wine parings for each course.

I used proper knifes (that weren't bought wrapped in plastic), a mandolin and an emersion blender for the first time. As someone who gets giddy every time she walks into Bed, Bath and Beyond, I was having so much fun.

On the menu were holiday side dishes. If you are looking for the perfect (simple) recipe to bring to a holiday gathering, or if you are still finalizing the menu for your first year hosting Thanksgiving, here are my three favorite recipes of the night. Also on the menu were Creamy Garlic Turnip Mashed Potatoes and Crispy Rosemary Fennel.

The sides were heavy on the starch, butter, bacon fat and garlic. If you are looking to lighten up your meal, then pass these recipes over.

Creamy Three Cheese Truffle Macaroni

Serves 6

Ingredients 
2 tlbs. butter
2 large sweet onions, julienned
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1 tlbs. white truffle oil
5 tlbs. butter or bacon fat
5 tlbs. all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/2 tsp. ground annatto
1/8 tsp. turmeric
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Colby Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Havarti cheese, shredded
1 cup breadcrumbs

Method
Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large skillet, melt butter on medium high heat. Add onions and cook until caramelized to a dark golden color.

Cook macaroni in boiling water for about 10 minutes until tender but still firm. Drain well. Place in large bowl with caramelized onions and a drizzle of truffle oil; mix well and set aside. 

In a deep skillet, melt butter on medium heat. Add flour to make a roux and cook, stirring, to remove any lumps. Pour in milk and cook until mixture is thick and smooth. Season bechamel with salt, pepper, annatto, turmeric. Remove from heat, stir in Cheddar and Colby Jack cheese until melted.

Add pasta and transfer mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish; bake 10-20 minutes. Top with 1/2 cup havarti cheese and and breadcrumbs and bake for an additional 5 minutes until hot and bubbly.


Spaghetti Squash with Brown Butter and Sage

Serves 6

Ingredients
2 large spaghetti squash
1 ounce olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sage, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Coat squash with olive oil and place, cut side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes or until tender. Rest at room temperature until cool enough to handle. 

Scrape cooked squash with a fork out of its skin into a bowl and set aside. In a large saute pan, melt butter on medium-high until the color starts to change to  a slight brown. Add sage and toast for 10 seconds and then add squash. Toss until coated with butter, season with salt and pepper. 

Serve hot.


Zesty Orange Cranberry Relish

Serves 8

Ingredients
1 (8 ox) can mandarin oranges
12 ounce bag cranberries (fresh)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Method
Drain oranges and reserve juice. In a medium sauce pan, combine cranberries, sugar, water, and mandarin orange juice. Bring to a boil, add oranges and reduce to a simmer until cranberries pop and oranges break down. Remove from heat, cool and serve. 

All recipes written by the Publix Apron Test Kitchen

Coffee Talk

Saturday, November 22, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | Be the first to comment!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Happy weekend before Thanksgiving! Today I'm off to a holiday sides cooking class. Truffle three cheese macaroni is on the menu so it wasn't much of a question of whether or not I'll be there. Don't worry, if it's as good as I imagine it will be, I'll be sharing the recipe in time for you to impress your holiday guests.

I've always wanted a tulle skirt, but I've been waiting for the perfect occasion to buy one. 

Who says coral can only be worn during the spring and summer? I love the bright colored wool coat trend. Not that I'll ever have too many opportunities to wear a wool coat in Florida, but a girl can dream.

In middle school, I participated in an exchange program with a group of students in Colchester. It was so nice to reminisce a little through Samantha's post about her trip there.

Timing is everything when preparing a holiday meal. To tide your guests over when you underestimate the amount of time it takes to cook a turkey, give them these roasted grape and goat cheese crostini to keep the hanger at bay.

Speaking of the holidays...in case you need to make your dollars stretch a little bit farther, here are a few cost-saving tips for gift giving.

Red, green, and plaid all over. I love all of the holiday decor that Danielle shared.

A holiday gift guide for the girl on the go. Deep down in my heart, this is me. (As I type this post from my couch while watching Netflix.)

You've all seen that person. The one taking photos with their iPad. They're at weddings, graduations, concerts and elbowing you in front of the Mona Lisa. Here's 24 reasons you should never take a photo with an iPad. As if you needed more than one.

Image via

Budgeting and Cost Saving Tips for Holiday Gift Giving

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 5 Comments

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


It's the time of year that we get to put our love of shopping to good use by focusing on buying gifts for others. Although you won't find me in the crowds of Black Friday elbowing my way to get my hands on the must-have electronic of the year. If you aren't careful, your generosity can exceed your bank account if you aren't careful. Now is the perfect time to sit down and make your list and start hunting down deals.

1. Buy gifts for multiple people at the same store. If the majority of your holiday shopping is going to be online, save the extra shipping costs and shop for multiple people at each store. If places aren't offering free shipping, buying several items will likely push you over the free shipping threshold, which can save a lot over the course of your holiday shopping. 

2. Take advantage of Cyber Monday and other holiday sales. Once you've made a list of everyone you are getting gifts for and have an idea of what you would like to get them, sign up for those stores emails. First, you will get an extra 10-15% off your order for signing up, and this way you will be the first to know when their sales are going on.

3. Get crafty. Handmade gifts are more meaningful than store bought gifts. Bake their favorite dessert, knit a scarf to keep them warm during the all-too-common polar plunges, or paint canvases to decorate the walls of their new home. For some DIY holiday decor inspiration, check out these handmade ornaments and these ideas for non-crafters.

4. Make an effort to keep personal miscellaneous purchases to a minimum in November and December. When it comes to budgeting and saving money, it's time to take a long hard look at those small, but very significant purchases that add up at the end of the month. They take the form of dining out, splurges at Target and daily coffee runs. If you are already on a lean budget, these are the fat that can easily be trimmed for a time to make room for holiday cheer.

5. Ideally, set aside a little money each month of the year. It's too late to put this tip into practice, but keep it in mind for your New Year's Resolution. Setting aside 20-30 dollars each month can add up to $350 by the end of the year and can alleviate financial stress. The main focus of the holidays is spending time with friends and family and ultimately your presence at the gatherings and get togethers is more meaningful than a gift.

What are some of your budgeting tips this time of the year?

Christina from Route Bliss


Are you going home for the holidays or celebrating friendsgiving?

I live in the same town I grew up in, so I'll stay local with my immediate family; my brother currently works in retail, so we'll celebrate at some point that day if he does end up working!

What song/album is on repeat on your ipod?
Right now, T-Swift's "Shake it Off" ... I need happy/peppy make me smile beats right now!

Any places on your travel bucket list?
Oh geez, where isn't on my travel on my travel bucket list?!?! The UK, Iceland, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand are at the top of my international destinations on there; within North America, Yosemite National Park, Big Sur, the Oregon coastline, Olympic National Park, and the national parks in Alberta, Canada.

Follow along: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

What you should be reading: 


Friday Favorites: Christmas Cards

Friday, November 14, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 6 Comments

Friday, November 14, 2014

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
Christmas is one of the few times left in the year that everyone remembers how to stuff an envelope, address said envelope and seal it before walking to the end of the driveway to put their bundle of letters to be sent to friends and family near and far. 

Whether you put a photo of your family, your cat or opt for hand lettering, I hope this is a trend that doesn't die down anytime soon. It's the one time of the year that an email, a text, or an e-card simply won't do. 

7 Reasons I Prefer to Travel With Friends

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 13 Comments

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I've read a few posts about the joys of traveling alone. How you can learn so much about yourself and the world without the distraction of others. And although I am very much an introvert, the idea of spending a week on my own in a strange place eating dinner on my own or meeting people in the hostel common room does not sound appealing to me. Here's why:

1. Less chance of having to call Liam Neeson to come save you. Even though the girls in Taken traveled in a pair, the logic still stands with the buddy system.

2. You have someone to share the experience with.

3. Once the trip is over, you have someone who will enjoy reminiscing and telling the same stories over and over. Those who weren't there with you don't want to hear the same stories over and over. If they are polite, they will entertain them two or three times, but any more than that, expect eye rolls.

4. You have someone to watch your bags while you go to get food or go to the bathroom in the airport. Coffee lines and bathrooms were not made to navigate with multiple bags.

5. You don't have to constantly ask a stranger to take your photo or strain your arm trying to take a selfie. Although the art of mastering the selfie is a valuable skill these days.

6. If you are a group of four then you can fill an entire room at a hostel and don't have to share it with questionable backpackers.

7. You do not have to make all of the decisions on your own. And by decisions I mean where to eat.

The Season of Giving Thanks

Monday, November 10, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport|| 2 Comments

Monday, November 10, 2014


It's the time of the year when we take time to reflect back on the past months of the year and think about all of the things we are thankful for. So much has happened in the past ten months. I graduated college; I'm thankful for the education and my time at Harding, but not as thankful for the student loans that have become all to real and too common in my life. Harding was more than a place where I went to class and received an education and skills that I can put to use in the "real world." It was a place of growth and lifelong friendships. 

I landed my first real job and moved into my first apartment. After spending four years in college hearing about how the job market is basically nonexistent, finding a job in my chosen field was such a blessing.

I'm thankful friends and family. For texts, unlimited minutes, facetime and direct flights that make it simple to keep in touch.

What are you thankful for this year?

Coffee Talk

Saturday, November 8, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 1 Comment

Saturday, November 8, 2014


After living in a dorm for four years, it is ingrained in my head that candles are not allowed. But now that is not the case anymore and the fall scents are my favorite.

The easiest way to live abroad for a few years is on a student visa. Caity shares her reasons for deciding to study abroad.

Nachos are good. But s'mores apple nachos are even better. And in my mind much healthier. 

You can find Sara's trip to the quirky yet beautiful Isle of Wright here, here and here.

How to use a clipping mask to create custom photo layouts and cool text in Photoshop. 

Travel Light, Travel Smart

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , , , | 10 Comments

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who enjoy flying, and those who would rather be stuck in the middle seat on an 18 hour car ride. Some enjoy the challenge, or better yet naturally, can pack a weeks worth of clothes and cosmetics into a carry-on and purse. Others need an entire bag for their shoes alone.

Wherever you fall on this spectrum, you will more than likely find yourself on a plane at some point. Here is how to make the most of the experience.

1. Your carry-on bag choice is key. Other than a rolling suitcase for your clothes, choose a slightly large tote with lots of pockets on the inside and outside. You don't want to be that person digging for their phone, credit card or boarding pass.

2. Speaking of boarding passes...Most airlines have mobile apps that allow you to check in as well as store your boarding pass electronically. If you aren't checking a bag, this means that you can bypass the counter entirely and make a beeline for security upon arrival. 

3. No matter the temperature outside, bring a scarf. It can keep you warm, dress up the tshirt and jeans, as well as serve double duty as a blanket or pillow.

4. Slip on shoes are a must, unless you are bringing boots. In that case, wear them on the plane so you don't have to pack them. 

5. Stay hydrated. Drink a water bottle on your way to the airport and once you are on the other side of security you can fill it up at a water fountain and save yourself the $6 for a bottle.

6. For overnight flights, try to recreate your nighttime beauty routine as best as possible. Take your contacts out, remove your makeup and even grab a cup of tea before boarding. Convincing yourself that it's time to go to sleep will help you feel at least a little more alert once you land.

7. Don't want your multiple chargers and plugs tangled up in a heap at the bottom of your bag? Try these cable clips to keep everything in its place.

8. Preload videos on your laptop to watch. Or if you want to be productive, set up offline access to Google Drive so you can work seamlessly from the office, to the airport, to the plane.

9. And how about after you land? One of the downsides to flying is not having a car when you land. You can either take a taxi, coordinate with friends or family, or rent a car. To save money, consider reserving a car through RelayRides. Here is a list of airport rentals available at your next destination.

Do you have any tips or tricks that you swear by to make the airline travel process as seamless as possible?

Friendsgiving: Pumpkin Dump Cake

Monday, November 3, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , , | 2 Comments

Monday, November 3, 2014

Looking for a dessert to satisfy your craving for fall? How about one that is literally fool-proof? If you can open cans, dump them in a pan and then set a timer and remove said pan when said timer dings, then you can make this and impress friends and family at your holiday gatherings. Also, it is quite easy to make a half recipe if you have a craving, but don't want to eat it for two weeks.

This recipe has been going around for a while and with half a cup of butter it's no surprise that it is a crowd pleaser. 

Do you have a favorite or signature dish that you bring to Thanksgiving/friendsgiving/or get togethers?

Ingredients:

1 (29 oz) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 eggs
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 (12 fl oz) can evaporated milk
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 (18.5 oz) package spice cake mix
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup melted butter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, eggs, brown sugar, white sugar and milk. Stir in cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Pour into pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over the pumpkin filling. Sprinkle pecans over the cake mix. Drizzle melted butter over all.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool.





Coffee Talk

Saturday, November 1, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 6 Comments

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Photo via
Happy Saturday! And happy first day of November. Hopefully you're recovering from your sugar coma nicely this morning. My church is having their fall festival this afternoon and I couldn't be more excited because it actually feels like fall (see yesterday's semi-rant about how it's never cold enough for coats in Florida...) My hair loves the crisp, dry air and I am going to make use of my ever-growing scarf collection while I can. Who knows, maybe I will be eating Thanksgiving turkey in shorts and sandals. 

And now onto my favorite posts from this past week, curated just for you to enjoy during your morning reading: 

I can't get over how precious Sarah's sons "Where the Wild Things Are" costume is. It was one of my favorite books growing up and loved the film that came out a few years ago as well. 

Speaking of another children's book-turned-movie, Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day came out a few weeks ago. Since it is only a couple dozen pages long, I'm interested to see how much backstory is added to the movie to extend it to 2 hours.

Prague was on the short list for The Next Adventure, but it will be saved for another trip. Two of my favorite bloggers just recently visited there and for now I (and maybe you) will have to live vicariously through their posts. You can read Jamie from Gunters Abroad here and Samantha from Wandering Grad here.

I am a firm believer in the concept of Inbox Zero. Espeically at work, I love the few minutes at the end of the day sifting through my email, sorting through them, remembering things that have yet to be completed/replied to, and knowing that in the morning it won't seem as overwhelming. Kelsey from Pinegate Road shared her experience working to reach Inbox Zero.

The Great Christmas Exchange sign-ups are going on now! I absolutely loved participating last year. I sort of over-extended myself by participating in three Secret Santas and let's just say that I was best friends with the post office workers. This year I'm just going to focus on one and searching for the perfect gift. I can't wait :)

What you missed this week:
Evolution of a hair cut (aka the slow realization that I look best with shorter hair)
Do more of what makes you happy

Friday Favorites: Coats

Friday, October 31, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , , | 4 Comments

Friday, October 31, 2014


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I may be a Florida girl now, but that does not mean that I don't love a beautiful wool coat, especially when paired with a dress, tights and boots. I would trade in the mild weather year-round just to have use for the other half of my wardrobe that isn't shorts and tank tops. Perpetual summer is not all it is cracked up to be. I even told myself that once the high is 50, I'm breaking out the boots and the coats and scarves no matter what strange looks I get from others on the street. The first cold snap of the season is on its way this weekend and I am like a kid counting down until Christmas.

For those of you who don't live in the land of endless sunshine, would you trade your polar vortexes? And if so, perhaps you would be interested in a house swap for a few months?

Evolution of a haircut

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 6 Comments

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Years ago I had to accept the fact that I would never have Serena van der Woodsen hair, the long "I just rolled out of bed like this" hair. My hair is so thick that if I ever tried to grow my hair out too long I would start looking more like Cousin It that an "It Girl."

It all started with a semi-spontaneous trip to a new hair stylist and a photo of Zooey Deschenel to get bangs. Which then turned into "I'm in France for three months, don't speak enough French to navigate a successful haircut and TSA won't allow scissors in my carry-on" hair that was as close as I would get to Serena because I learned that no one in Europe straightens their hair (praise! because that saved me an extra 20 minutes every morning.) And then, in another semi-spontaneous trip to a second new hair stylist and a photo from Pinterest, I kept the bangs and ditched the length.

Now I have accepted the fact that I have a face for shoulder length hair. I'm writing this as a reminder to myself in six months when I have the grand idea to grow my hair out again. Future self, save yourself the frustration of the awkward hair length and split ends and embrace the long bob.


Do More of What Makes You Happy

Monday, October 27, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport|| 5 Comments

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday is sometimes viewed as the worst day of the week. You have come off the high of the weekend and Friday can't come soon enough. Let's stay positive this start of the week and think about the things that make up our happy list. Bonus points to those of you who veer off your typical Monday routine and make time to do a few of the things that you love and will put a smile on your face. 

1. Leisurely enjoying my morning coffee.

2. Weekends spent visiting old friends. 

3. Having my hair blown out.

4. Saturdays spent in my pajamas. 

5. When trying out a new recipe, not burning it.

6. Exploring a new place.

7. Morning walks on the beach.

8. Snuggling with Dixie.

9. Dessert and coffee.

10. Creating travel itineraries and dreaming up my next great adventure.

Book Club: The Gospel According to Coco Chanel

Thursday, October 23, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | Be the first to comment!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Three things come to mind when I would think of Chanel. First, Chanel No. 5, which some like to call the most iconic perfume, but I think is one of the worst scents I've come across. Second, quilted handbags with interlocking C's that are primarily sold as knock offs on the streets of NYC. Third, Rachel Zoe's obsession with collecting vintage Chanel jackets to add to her museum-like collection. 

But there is so much more to the woman who not only built one of the most well-known fashion labels, but revolutionized women's fashion. If it wasn't for Chanel, who knows how long we would have been forced to need assistance getting dressed in separate outfits for each outing? 

Karen Karbo's The Gospel According to Coco Chanel is part biography, part life lessons and two parts witty commentary about her own quest for a tweed Chanel jacket. If you are in the mood for a light read, especially one that can be read in short bursts sporadically, then this is the perfect book for you. There is so much from Chanel's business sense, work ethic and personality that would benefit you to incorporate into your life. But there are just as many of her characteristics that it is probably best to avoid as well. 

What I loved most about Chanel is that she saw fashion and style first and foremost as a way to make life and movement easier. She had a simple design aesthetic that, one, allowed women to breathe, and two, doubled their range of motion. She believed that impeccably constructed pieces that are perfectly tailored will always rise above the latest fads. I wholeheartedly agree.

In her time, ladies did not work, and if they wanted to have a side hobby, it was always bankrolled by a man. Starting out Chanel did require financial support of her man-of-the-hour, but once her business took off she quickly shrugged off the help of men and continued to grow her empire on her own dime. Another unfortunate aspect of the time is that women who worked were looked down upon. Even as the society ladies scrambled to get their hands on Chanel's pieces, she was always seen as simply a tailor and not one to be invited to parties and social events. Fashion designers were not celebrities as they are today. 

Finally, Chanel taught us that you do not have to fall into the same pattern of your past generations. Orphaned at a young age, Chanel did not have a happy childhood. So once she grew up, she decided that she was simply going to rewrite her past. She didn't like the region of France she came from, so she told people she grew up in. These embellishments (and in many cases, lies) are part of the reason that no one quite knows much about Chanel, which adds to her air of mystery. While I wouldn't suggest living in a delusion and creating a whole new life for yourself, you do not have to let your past define you. 

Have you read this book? What are your favorite bits and pieces of Chanelore, as Karen Kobo affectionately refers to it as?

Adventure is on the Horizon

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , , | 12 Comments

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


My passport is sitting, gathering dust in my safe. It's time that it is broken out again. Samantha and I are in the beginning stages of planning our next great adventure. I can't be more excited about it. It started as a Nordic adventure through the fjords of Finland, Norway and Sweden and then we decided that since we missed out on the Sound of Music tour when we were studying abroad, it needed to be bumped up to the top of the list. 

Salzburg than turned into a Germany and Austria trip through the alps. On the (tentative) agenda is Munich, Neuschwanstein, Garmisch, Salzburg and Vienna. I will simultaneously be Heidi, Julie Andrews and a Hapsburg waltzing around Vienna.

Next October cannot come soon enough. I have forgotten how much I missed planning elaborate vacations. The hardest part is narrowing down just where in the world I want to go. On the one hand, I want to throw a dart and go wherever it lands. But on the other hand, I have kept an ever-growing list of wanderlust that needs to be checked off.

And now the real fun begins.

First on my list: Pick the perfect hashtag for the trip. 

Second: Start learning German. Duolingo will be my new best friend.

Third: Refresh my memory on the dozens of wars of Austrian succession.

And now I need your help: Have you visited Bavaria, Salzburg or Vienna? What would you recommend to eat/see/do there?

Coffee Talk

Saturday, October 18, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 3 Comments

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Photo via

Happy weekend everyone! I'm at my parent's this weekend and the Christmas decoration buying has already begun. It's never too early to start in my opinion.

The Eiffel Tower now has a glass floor. I never climbed up the most famous piece of architecture in the city, but with this new addition might have been a selling feature to get me to wait in line before walking up the hundreds of stairs. 

Breakfast (and brunch and brinner) is my favorite meal. There is something about starting your morning off right that sets the tone for the rest of the day. Here are five ways to make the most of breakfast and make it healthier.

It is still very much in the preliminary planning stages, but Samantha and I are visiting Germany in October 2015 and Casey's travel guides were the first place I turned for inspiration and ideas.

Jillian's comparison of Luke Danes and her man (Luke Boyfriend) made me nostalgic for Stars Hollow all the while laughing hysterically. 

Eating better makes you feel better from the inside out. I am reminded of this most right after I have eaten half of a pizza on my own or a sleeve of Oreos. I want to join Taylor in eating a more plant-based and natural diet.

Thinking about freelancing as a travel writer? Find out how it has been working out for Monica. 

Looking for a calligraphy starter kit? Check out this one Jennifer tested.