Coffee Talk

Saturday, August 30, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 3 Comments

Saturday, August 30, 2014

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I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the long weekend! As you are reading this, Samantha and I are on our way to Orlando (you can follow along with the adventure here).

I never tire of the preppy-meets-feminine touches of Mackenzie's apartment. Can't wait to see more updates as she settles in to her newest abode.

Breakfast lovers rejoice! Chickfila is debuting chicken and waffles on their breakfast menu! The downside is it is only in selection locations (Tallahassee not included, unfortunately...) Want to see if your area is lucky enough to enjoy the savory/sweet treat? Find out here.

In case you are having a rough week, here are photos of a baby squirrel falling asleep after having a meal. On a side note, I had never seen baby squirrels before, even though they ruled my campus and truly thought it was their home and we were just visiting.

You know you live in a grown-up apartment if... Love this list. I meet a few of the criteria (owning a desk, having a dedicated space to eat and actually hanging up art on the wall with nails and not thumbtacks.) What about you?

Great advice from Jackie on how to pair down your wardrobe. Don't let items you have like and rarely wear take up valuable real estate in your closet. You should be excited every time you pick out an outfit so only keep pieces that are truly special or are the most versatile basics that you can wear forever.

Oh, Nashville. You really one of my favorite cities. And quite possibly you will count me as one of your residents one day. I especially love seeing you though an Aussie's eyes. Thanks Sophie for sharing photos of your visit!

Also, through Tuesday all ad spots are 25% off with code TWENTYFIVE. Get yours before it's too late!

Book Club: If I Stay

Thursday, August 28, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 5 Comments

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I want to preface this review, by making it clear that this book is nothing like The Fault in Our Stars. Disregard any comparisons between the book/movie. It's not even close. And if you begin reading it expecting to uncover John-Green-words-of-wisdom then you are gong to be disappointed.

The book is based around the question posed to the main character, Mia, as she's on the brink of death "Does she want to continue to live, or go on?" Her parents and brother have just died in a car accident, so learning to live a life without them would be immensely difficult. However, she's on the edge of the rest of her life, has friends and family who don't want to learn to live a life without her. And Adam. I won't give any spoilers to how it ends in case you haven't read it yet. 

I think the book would have been much better as an extended short story or a novella. While reading it I kept feeling like the characters were running in circle, debating the same pros and cons to living/dying over and over again. The story is told through flashbacks that introduce you to the people who mean the most to Mia: her parents who are the punk to her classical, her much younger brother who breathes new life into the family, her grandparents, her best friend Kim who seems like more of a sidekick for most of the story until it's almost too late, and finally Adam, her soon-to-be-famous musician boyfriend whose life is moving in the complete opposite direction as hers. 

Music plays a key role in the lives of all of the characters. Mia stands out from her friends and family for her love of the cello, which is a stark contrast to the speaker-blaring cares-to-the-wind punk rock that is the center part of everyone else's life. Mia thinks that she can only perform alone, practice alone and develop the passion of hers alone. She looks to the others performing together, bonding over a common passion and spurring each other on to play better and is a little jealous. She thinks that she doesn't quite fit in. The turning point comes during a front porch jam session when her friends and family insist she join in and Mia finally realizes that her two worlds can coexist just fine and she is not an odd one out. 

All I will say about the end is that it is abrupt. There is not further explanation about everyone goes on with their life. Many questions are left unanswered; there is no epilogue. Overall I thought it was an interesting read, especially to make you think about whether or not you were put in the same situation, if that was a possibility, what would you choose to do?

Language Barriers When Traveling

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , , , , | 8 Comments

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Unfortunately, the assumption that Americans only speak English and expect everyone else to do the same sort of applied in my case when I studied abroad. I knew zero phrases of French before I stepped on the plane and was armed with my Rick Steves' phrase book that I was hoping would help me communicate just enough until my French lessons began. 

If you are visiting an area that speaks another language and are a picky eater, it is important to learn the names of foods that you like and don't like. Samantha and Emily hated fish with a passion. They made up a little reminder "poission = poison" so they knew to avoid it on menus.

You'll also find yourself doing a lot of pointing and gesturing. Because somehow these generic sign language moves transcend language and culture. Most of the time.

Also, in France, they start counting with their thumb on their fingers. So let's say you pass by a bakery (there is literally one on every corner so take your pick) and you want two almond croissants. You step up to the counter, butcher "deux croissant amande" so for good measure you hold up your second and third finger to emphasize that you want two. Well, it's your lucky day because you will most likely be given three (you should have held up your thumb and second finger...does that make sense?) Anyways, in this instance having three almond croissants instead of two is a great thing in my opinion.

Finally, while you may have a grand idea of visiting every country in Europe at one time, but be prepared for a language overload. After accidentally speaking French in Italy, and Italian in Switzerland, it might be easiest to try your hand at English and hope for the best.

We truly live in a global society. Whether you're travelling for fun, or working in a global company or organization, interacting with others who speak a different language is inevitable. Don't let a language barrier prohibit your information from reaching people across the world. Go a step beyond Google translate and instead opt for a translation service, such as Smartling, run by humans and not computers.

Have you had any language mishaps either while traveling or at work? How did you handle them?


The Jessa Olson Blog

Follow along: Bloglovin | Pinterest | Instagram

Meet Jessa (formally of Life of a Sports Wife). Similar to me, she spent some time in Arkansas. There is something about everyone around you shouting "Woo Pig Souie" that automatically gives you something in common. More than our shared time living in The Natural State, we are also baseball fans (her husband works for the minor league team) and I suppose I will forgive her for wearing Rangers attire. Jessa is also a runner and is constantly sharing tips for you to become a runner too. It's yet to work for me, but I always love the motivation! New to her corner of the internet? Get a crash course here

Blog Hop: Behind the Scenes of Stamp in My Passport

Monday, August 25, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 7 Comments

Monday, August 25, 2014

The lovely Caity of Where the Heart is and  Monica of The Travel Hack nominated to take part in this blog hop, and I rarely ever turn down a writing prompt handed to me. It's a chance to share a behind the scenes look at where the blogging magic happens. Although I don't have a cute fur baby like Monica to grace the my workspace, I'll go ahead and share it anyways. 

Q1. What am I currently working on/writing?

I'm not going to lie, this space has not bee one of my top priorities lately, but that is going to change. I've missed it. Between writing for work and for this space, sometimes it feels like I have used up my word limit for the day by the time I make it home. Am I the only one that feels this way? 

There are a few trips on the horizon to Orlando with Samantha (T-minus six days until your newsfeeds blow up with dozens of photos of me drinking butterbeer. Still working on a hashtag for the trip...any suggestions?) and then to the beach later in September after the crowds have calmed down, but before the madness that is Georgia-Florida weekend at St. Simons.

Q2. How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

This is a great question! The hilarious part is that I'm not quite sure what genre Stamp in my Passport falls into besides the general "lifestyle" category. I wouldn't say that this blog has gone though a slight identity crisis, but it has been an adjustment. The bank account doesn't want to keep up with all of the travels I want to take to have something to write about. To supplement that, I fill the space with snapshots of my life and my sometimes off-the-wall take on situations. 

Is it a travel blog? No. It's more of a stream-of-consciousness blog. Some people like it, some don't. I share what I love and what inspires me. And sometimes that is all over the place. But since this is first and foremost for me, I'm ok with that. And I hope you are, too. 

Q3. Why do I write what I do?

I touched on it in the previous answer, I write about what inspires me and is at the front of my mind. Time and time again, I am amazed that complete strangers from all over the world choose to read what I have to write. Thank you for that! 
Don't let the desk fool you, I mainly work from my couch or bed.

Q4. How does my writing process work?

I was tagged in this blog hop a while ago and focused on this question and described my writing process as "typing away in semi-coherent sentences." I keep a journal with me almost all of the time to jot down post ideas as they come to me. Sometimes I will flesh the ideas out, and sometimes I simply leave the topic to elaborate on once I sit down behind the computer when the pressure is on. Then I like to spend part of the weekend while watching Netflix to finalize which post ideas I want to include in the upcoming week. If I'm feeling really ambitious, I will also take photos to go along with them. If not, it's to the archives or Death to Stock Photo for me. Finally, either on the weekend or sometimes the night before I will put my fingers to the keyboard and type to my heart's content. And voila! I hit publish. And hope that people will read it. 

To continue on with the fun, I nominate: 

Sara of Bristol in My Pocket She's a Texan living in England. Feel free to join me in living vicariously through her posts.

Christina of Route Bliss I never tire of Christina's mix of posts on travel, photography and real life. 

Aubrey of Adventures in Aubreyland I think the reason that I love Aubrey's blog can be summed up in her page titles: Travel, My Cats and Where to Eat. These are three of my favorite things too.

Coffee Talk

Saturday, August 23, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 3 Comments

Saturday, August 23, 2014

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I have a sixth sense when it comes to scrolling through my Bloglovin feed to find posts about Paris. And I  read This week I'm living through Amanda from Rhymes and Ribbons' post.

I went though a phase where I wanted to Instagram every single meal I ate. Not in a "I want to show you how I can stick to a diet and eat like a rabbit" way, but more in a "I want to remember what dishes I enjoy at a particular restaurant" way.  In case I ever want to take up my food photography, I will be turning to this post from Emma of A Beautiful Mess. I love that she shows comparisons of the first food photos she took and recent ones. She's learned a lot over the years, and we can too!

I still haven't quite settled on a beauty routine and am still trying out different products to see what suits my skin best (which can vary from week to week unfortunately due to stress and diet.) Kasi from Birch Juice shared her morning skincare routine, which is three steps and completely doable for anyone. I hate when people have a 10 step routine because i know I would never take that much time/spend that much money on products.

I don't know about you, but traveling alone sounds like the worst kind of vacation to me, and not just for the "Taken" situations I envision happening. Amanda from Living in Another Language shares her reasons why traveling with someone (a significant other, best friend, family) is better than traveling alone. I couldn't agree more.

Looking for design inspiration for your apartment or a weekend project? Here are ten. 

Do you also sleep with one foot outside the covers? There might be a scientific reason for why this seemingly strange sleep habit helps us fall asleep faster.

In case you missed my previous post on my thoughts about T Swifts new video "Shake it Off." This is a turning point for all awkward dancers out there; perhaps there is hope for us yet.

Has T Swift Now Made Awkward Dancing Socially Acceptable?

Thursday, August 21, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 5 Comments

Thursday, August 21, 2014

If you have yet to watch T Swift's new music video "Shake it Off" then stop what you are doing and watch it. And then read this hilarious Buzzfeed article with 27 gifs of her awkward dance moves. If you need a Thursday pick-me-up to carry you on to the weekend, then this is it. I think this is going to be the song that will be blaring though rolled down windows until it gets too cool.

The question on everyone's (who lacks any sort of rhythm at all) mind is: Has T Swift now made awkward dancing socially acceptable? And now for my commentary:

1. Angry ribbon twirling is an olympic sport I could excel at. That and speed walking, but that is a different conversation for a different time.

2. Perhaps if you make awkward faces to go along with your crazy invented moves people will get the hint that you're just going to do you and they won't pass judgement. Perhaps they will laugh with you and not at you? The jury is still out on that one. 

3. When in doubt, do the Travolta like you just don't care.

4. Since when did crazy finger movements become a dance? Maybe that is something that would benefit from my years spent in band.

5. FYI to all you girls out there thinking you can "twerk"...Taylor's rendition is really what you look like as well. Hate to break it to you.

6. Is interpretive dance going to be making an appearance at proms across America?

So besides writing about travel, writing about pop culture ranks pretty high up there in my book. Entertainment Weekly is one of my favorite magazines and who can't resist the riveting newsworthiness of E! News? What do you think of a regular pop culture feature on Stamp in My Passport? Is it something you would be interested in? Because I'm simply here to give the people what they want :)

Coffee Talk on a Monday

Monday, August 18, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport|| 1 Comment

Monday, August 18, 2014

Happy Monday! I hope you all enjoyed your weekend and if school is starting back in your area (they are in mine) I hope your Monday morning commute didn't take extra long. This weekend I went to Jacksonville for a shopping weekend at St. Johns Town Center. It's the perfect set up: hotel, all my favorite stores as well as restaurants all within walking distance of each other. There's no real need to drive anywhere else. Saturday shopping days are made better when you can take a nap in between rounds one and two. 

Since Anjali took over on Saturday (if you missed her post on her favorite trips in Europe, you can find it here), I thought I would push coffee talk back until today, because I just couldn't wait to share some of these posts with you. 

I never tire of reading about other's trips to Paris, see Whitney's here. I love comparing what they ate, saw and did to my experiences. Sometimes they're quite similar and I can completely relate and others, I take note of for my next visit. 

The ladies behind The Everygirl outdid themselves with their office styling with PB Teen. Can I have all of the items, please?

Long bobs are now all the rage with the a-list stars. Sometimes I tire of wearing mine simply straight. Love these ideas to mix it up a little.

Danielle's collection of neutral clothing and accessories have now made it onto my list of must-haves. 

Bedside tables can be a challenge to keep pretty and not simply a catch all for all of the items you want to have close to you in bed so you never have to get up. I love Stephanie's styling, but I'm curious to know if her bedside tables always look this picture perfect on a daily basis?

Guest Post: Tips for Traveling in Europe

Saturday, August 16, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 2 Comments

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I'm excited to give you another peek into Anjali's travels. I still continue to have withdrawals from European traveling and this post helps me curb the craving of backpacking across "the continent" as it is referred to in all of my favorite British period dramas. 

Hellloooo readers of Stamp in my Passport! Anjali  here from over at From L&P to English Tea, and I'm so excited to be here today! Like you might have seen in the spotlight post that Jess posted recently, I love travelling, and have been incredibly blessed to have been able to go so many places. I've just returned home to New Zealand from England, where I was living for 2 years. During that time I was able to pop over into Europe a bit and do some travelling. I managed to get to Greece, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, and France, as well as popping over the border into Wales and up to Scotland. Because that's a lot of travel in a small space of time, I learnt some things very quickly. I thought today I'd share with you 4 travel tips for when you go traveling around Europe.

Story: My family and I went on holiday in the south of Portugal for a week March/April of last year. Travelling with my family meant I didn’t really have to deal with anything. I just had to pack, and then follow my dad to the right places. Easy peasy.

Tip: Don’t travel with Ryanair, if you can help it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cheap and the people are super friendly. But it was a bit stressful, to be honest, because they don’t assign you a seat. Once you get in the aircraft, it’s every man for himself (or every woman for herself…). There’s no guarantee that you’ll be sitting with the people you are travelling with, and although it’s mostly clean and you end up getting to your destination…it’s not as fun.

Story: My dad had to go to Sweden for a work thing (he’s a University lecturer), and so I tagged along. We spent a few days in Orebro, and then a day in Stockholm, which is a great city, by the way.

Tip: Most people in Europe, I’m discovering, speak at least a little English, so you can get away with not knowing any Swedish. But we found it was helpful to have friends around who knew the language and could do all the communicating for us. It was faster and easier. However, if you don’t know people where you’re going, knowing a few words is always helpful, and I think it’s polite and a good thing to do. The word I most used overseas is ‘thank you’ and ‘hello’, so I reckon try to learn at least those two.

Story: Again, my dad had to go for a conference, in The Netherlands, specifically Amsterdam, so I went too. This time was just a super short trip; we only stayed one night, but had two full days.

Tip: If you’re travelling on a budget, check out the Youth Hostels. We stayed in a Christian youth Hostel and it was really great. It was right in the heart of Amsterdam, so it was easy to get everywhere. You by no means have to be a youth to stay there, nor do you have to be a Christian to stay there, it’s just run by Christians and has things like optional Bible studies etc in the mornings. If you’re not a Christian, please don’t let that put you off. The people were super friendly and the food was great. Breakfast was included, and I also had the opportunity to go on a city walking tour with some of the other people staying in the hostel. Hostels are great because they draw in people from all over the world. I talked to people from Canada, from Cyprus, from Malaysia, to name a few, but I was one from the furthest away (surprise surprise). Hostels are cheap, but clean and friendly, and I recommend them.

Story: My friend was over from New Zealand for a few months, and ever since we were 16 and took Classics at school we have wanted to go to Greece. It seemed like the perfect time to do so, so we went to Athens for 5 nights.

Tip: Take a friend. This trip was the first time I had really gone overseas by myself, without a member of my family who knew what they were dong (not including the flight from NZ to UK). It was also the first country my friend had been too, other than NZ and the UK. Because I was a bit nervous about the travelling and going to the right places etc, I had planned everything and knew exactly where we should be and when. But I can’t stress enough how awesome it was to have Roz with me the whole way. Yes, I could have done it myself, but it wouldn’t have been as calm and smooth. Having someone with you when you’re travelling is not only great company, but it’s someone to talk things through if something goes wrong, to have your back in busy streets, and to know that if you really get stuck, you’ll be stuck together.

So there we have it. Four tings I have learnt from travelling around Europe. Most of them probably seem obvious, but I guess I didn’t really think about them until afterwards. If you have travelled around Europe before (or anywhere, really) I’m sure you’ll have tips of your own…and I know that there are so many more. But if you haven’t, I hope that maybe my travel experiences have a) taught you something, b) made you want to travel and c) made you realise it’s not that hard.

Thank you, Jess, for having me here today! It's been a blast!

Friday Favorites: Instagram Accounts

Friday, August 15, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport|| 6 Comments

Friday, August 15, 2014

It's no surprise that doxie lovers have to stick together. And although I am slightly biased thinking that Dixie is the cutest doxie, Kate and Trudy give her a run for their money. 

Photos of London, Paris, Viola and beautiful sweets take over Lauren's Instagram feed. If you aren't following her, but are ok with being slightly jealous of her life sometimes, then you must follow her. If not for the food recommendations alone.

I absolutely love my Ona bag that I amazingly won in a blog giveaway. I love their feed full of what fill's users bags to photographers doing their thing around the world.

Ashel is one of the most talented photographers I know. We could be at the same events all day, yet she manages to capture the little moments in a beautiful way without making a big deal about constantly snapping away. It's just in her nature.

Mackenzie is another one of my favorite people I know in real life that I also love to follow on Instagram. Her perspective on capturing life's little moments is beautiful and are always encouraging.

It's no surprise Paris in Four Months made my list. Whether in my favorite city or elsewhere around the world, my wanderlust is always satisfied over my lunch break.

If you haven't already fallen in love with Lauren's calligraphy prints, then you need to jump on that bandwagon asap. Her feed is full of pretty styled photos of her prints as well as snapshots of her life.

What are your favorite Instagram accounts? Leave your suggestions as well as your account for me to follow in the comments. You can follow me @jesskboyd (shameless plug).

12 Random Facts About Me (In Case You Were Wondering)

Thursday, August 14, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport|| 16 Comments

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I came across a "20 random facts about me" post the other day, and I thought it might be fun to do for all of the new faces around here. This prompt reminds me of the first days of school when you have to write your entire life's story as one of the first journal prompts you do. On a random tangent, do any of you remember the time that schools tried to make journaling part of ever class, including math? That was the worst. Who wants to write about their weekend spent with quadratic equations? Moving on...

1. I didn't like chocolate until a few years ago. It's true. For a while I lied and told people I was allergic so I didn't have to explain why I didn't like the taste. 

2. I'm an only child. Growing up I learned to entertain myself and enjoyed spending time alone, which I think is why I enjoy living on my own now. 

3. I've never been stung by a bee/wasp/flying insect. Who knows, I could be deathly allergic to the flying pests and not even know it. 

4. I'm allergic to mosquitos. Maxi skirts being in style were the best thing to happen to me to hide my bug-bite laden legs. 

5. Shark week is one of my favorite weeks out of the year. Although when I was swimming in the ocean Sunday afternoon, I refused to let anyone with me discuss sharks. Too close for comfort.

6. I think I'm funniest via text and Twitter when I have time to come up with witty responses. Please tell me I'm not alone in this. 

7. I moved to Florida because there is no state income tax and there are discounts to Disney World. 

8. I went to college in a small town in Arkansas. And high school friends for some reason kept thinking I was in Arizona? Both start with an A I guess.

9. Navy blue is my favorite color. After decking my freshman dorm room out in teal, I can't even stand to look at the color anymore.

10. I've only ever driven small cars, which contributed to my lack of parking skills because I've always been able to whip into any space of my choosing. 

11. When I was sick one day, I watched Pride and Prejudice on repeat for 8 hours (while sleeping on and off) because I was too weak to get out of bed and put a new movie in. 

12. I can almost quote The Princess Bride verbatim. Is it still cool to incorporate "as you wish" into wedding vows? Yes, no?

Maximize Your Time: Tips for Fall Organization

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 9 Comments

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August is the perfect time for a mid-year evaluation and cleaning out of your home. Typically, it's associated with the back to school season and new pencils, unopened packs of paper and a new backpack. For the rest of us, it's a good point to get back on track for the new year's resolution to be more organized. If, like the rest of America, you can't even remember what your new year's resolution was, why not take a fresh season to set new priorities. 

Tips for getting more organized for fall: 

Clean out your closet. If you live somewhere with four seasons, this is the perfect time to begin transitioning your summer wardrobe and replace it with fall attire. Besides changing for the seasons, make room for new purchases by taking a long hard look at what is currently taking up space. If you haven't worn it in a year, it's time to either take it to a consignment store, donate it, or toss it. There will also be the surprise items that you didn't even remember you had. When you come across these, take the time to make sure that you have outfits to wear it with, or else it will most likely sit there for another year until you finally decide to donate it.

Set mid-year goals. Although we are a little more than halfway through the year, fall is a great time to set goals. You've had fun for weekends on end throughout the summer and feel rejuvenated to take on the world again. But first, a road map perhaps?

Invest in the jumbo set of highlighters. Going along with the back to school theme, highlighters are a must, even outside of writing hundreds of flashcards. If you keep a written calendar/planner, create a color coded system (work, fun, bill payments, etc.) to keep up with activities. 

Create a defined workspace (and use it.) I could take my own advice on this one. Even though I have a desk with plenty of workspace and a comfy-ish chair, I sill bring my laptop to the couch or bed to work. I don't know if this is a habit from my college days when my bed was where I slept, ate, watched movies and studied, but it's a habit I would like to try and break. Take to Pinterest and recreate one of your favorite work areas.

Sponsor Spotlight: Anjali of From LP to English Tea

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 6 Comments

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I can't wait to introduce one of my lovely sponsors, Anjali
She's a New Zealander who moved to England, 
and then came back to New Zealand earlier this year.
Oh, and (possibly more importantly) she loves Harry Potter just as much as I do.
Stop by and say hello!

Follow along: Bloglovin | Facebook | Twitter

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your blog. What do you write about?
My name is Anjali, and I'm a New Zealander with a love of travel, books, photography, movies, all things arty farty, DIY and creative. My blog, From L&P to English Tea, is a mix of all these things, as well as my rather large obsession with Harry Potter, and also lists.

2. Your blog name is so unique! What is the story behind it?
'From L&P to English Tea' really started in 2010 when I discovered that my family were shipping out from New Zealand to England at the end of the year for a new job. I stayed behind to finish my Philosophy degree in 2011, and then in early 2012 I joined them. 'L&P', if you're unsure, is a New Zealand fizzy drink (soda/pop), and it's very Kiwi and very popular here. 'English Tea' is...well it's English Tea. It was only fitting that I joined the two together to create a (rhyming) blog name. Now that I've returned home to NZ after spending 2 fantastic years around Europe, I simply added 'and back again' to the bottom of my header, because let's face it, changing my entire blog name would get confusing for everyone.

3. New Zealand or England? Which would you rather live in?
Ooo! This is a tough one! When I was in England and people asked me if I missed home, of course I yes. I really did. But actually now that I'm home, I realise how awesome my time in the UK really was, and how much I miss it. It's funny how you don't know what you've got till it's gone, eh? So I think that NZ will always be home, and to be honest it's a lot easier living here, but I will definitely go back to England one day, perhaps to live. They both have pros and cons. For now, it's NZ...but in the future...who knows? :)

4. Which Hogwarts house would you be in and why?
LOVE this question. So I actually did a blog post a while back now about what Hogwarts house I would be in, but long post short, I was sorted in Gryffindor on Pottermore (the most legit sorting, of course), but then I lost my password and nothing was working and I got frustrated and just created a new account...where I was sorted in Hufflepuff. So from then on I've declared I'm starting a new house - Gryffinpuff Huffledor - for all those people out there who really are in the two houses at the same time.

5. Congratulations on having stamps in your passport for 16 countries! What has been your favorite trip?
Thank you! I've been incredibly blessed with opportunities to travel during my life, and I hope it doesn't stop here! There have been so many trips that I've loved, but a highlight was definitely Amsterdam last year in June. My dad had a work trip for a day conference, so I tagged along (which I did several times) and while we were only there for one night and two days, it was such a great time. I love all the boats and the canals, and the bicycles everywhere. The history was really amazing too, and the museums. It is a very, very cool place and I highly recommend a trip there, should you ever get the chance.

Louvre: The picture above is me in Paris last year. Before we left to come in early January, we had to make a trip to Paris (you can't be all the way over in England and not go to Paris, people!). It was the week before Christmas, and it was freezing, but it was so beautiful. The French do Christmas wonderfully. If you get a chance to go to Paris at Christmastime, do it. So worth it.

Amsterdam: The picture above is be outside the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The first day we were there we went and wandered around this huge museum, and it was really neat. If you've seen The Fault in our Stars, there's a scene where they are walking out of that entrance up there, and when I saw it in the movie I got all excited, as you would. :)

Coffee Talk

Saturday, August 9, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 10 Comments

Saturday, August 9, 2014

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Happy Saturday! School is almost back in session and I'm not searching for the best prices on textbooks, or trying to solve the tetris game that was fitting all of my clothes and things into my two-door car to make the 12 hour drive to Arkansas. And since the summer like weather continues until Thanksgiving (at least) in Florida, I will continue pretending that it is still summer until fall actually comes. 

What I wouldn't give to enjoy my morning coffee on a sailboat along with a good book and views of turquoise water for miles in all directions. What about you? Where do you enjoy your morning latte, or where would you love to enjoy it?

If you haven't browsed Anna With Love's photographs from Paris, then stop what you're doing and do it now. I'm having a hard time narrowing down my favorites to purchase.

Whitney just launched the Heart & Arrow shop! If you are searching for a to-do list that is also pretty, then she has just what you are looking for. It combines two of my favorite things, staying organized and paper products.

I love Kenzie's series on writing. As a PR major, I had a love/hate relationship with copy editing. The phrase "I could care less" drives me absolutely crazy. Do you not stop and actually think about what it means? The correct wording would be "I couldn't care less." Think about it.

On the same topic, the AP Stylebook has always been my go-to source for all questions grammar and spelling. But I'm starting to reconsider their judgement and standards. First, they deemed it acceptable to use the word 'over' in reference to countable objects (i.e. I have over 20 dollars to spend.) Now they have found the correct word for a group selfie, like the one taken by Hollywood's royalty at the Oscars. Can you guess what it is?

Do you find it a little daunting to put together an editorial calendar? These tips can help.

Some names for common objects need a little sprucing up, am I right? How about "water with corners" for ice or "sugar bagels" for doughnuts? For all of the Parks and Recreation fans out there, this will automatically remind you of Tom's terms for your favorite apps and zerts. Chicky chicky parm parm, anyone?

Posts from this week:
Fall's new political drama TV series
Plans for the end of summer
My must have items for an organized desk

Fall TV: Polotical Dramas in Time for Election Season

Thursday, August 7, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 6 Comments

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The fall network lineup is full of fake White House sets. Perhaps spurred by the success of Scandal and House of Cards, their are two new dramas entering the scene. It's time to brush up on your American Government and current affairs because they can't make all of these plots up, sometimes they're based on a mustard seed of truth. It's time to gear up for backstabbing and power plays on Capitol Hill. Are you ready?

State of Affairs (Begins Nov 17 on NBC)

Top CIA analyst Charleston Tucker assembles the President's Daily Briefing (PDB) while trying to get to the bottom of her fiancé's murder that will reveal itself as a shocking mystery.

Madam Secretary (CBS)

Elizabeth McCord (Leoni) is the newly appointed Secretary of State who drives international diplomacy, battles office politics and circumvents protocol as she negotiates global and domestic issues, both at the White House and at home.


I'm on the fence about watching the new season of Scandal. I was sucked in to the storyline of DC's finest fixer and her rag-tag team in the first season. I also have followed along with Shondra's fast-paced monologues on Grey's Anatomy for years. However, I have a serious issue with the way Olivia always returns to Fitz and doesn't believe that she can be successful or find love with anyone else. And Fitz is just whiney. Period. I will give it one last shot, but my hopes are not high.

House of Cards

The new season unfortunately doesn't start until 2015, but that doesn't mean you can't rewatch Frank Underwood's climb to the top from the very beginning. 

You can find the Fall TV lineup here. What shows are you looking forward to returning?

Joining the Masses Without a Summer Vacation

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 1 Comment

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I vaguely remember this one episode of The Bill Cosby Show (just go with me, this has a point I promise) and one of the children decided that college wasn't for them, came home in May, and in August when she finally told her parents that she wasn't returning to school they asked why she didn't tell them months before. And her reply? "Well, I didn't want to give up my summer break."

Thankfully I didn't try to pull a stunt like that. I don't think the outcome would have ended too well. I say all of that to say that this is the first time that I have not had a semblance of a "summer vacation." Obviously I know that everyone except teachers (who still try and say they don't have a summer break...) has to come to the point in their life that they sit in an office every day instead of poolside. 

But it wasn't all bad. There was the whole #jessdoestexas bit as well as trips home, to visit family, country drives to the local peach orchard for homemade ice cream and making a good dent in the list of restaurants I want to try in town.

Since I now live in one of the summer vacation destinations of the country, I've also learned the beauty of traveling in the off-season. On the horizon, the magical trip to Orlando, a weekend dedicated to shopping in Jacksonville. And no summer/fall would be complete without a visit to St. Simon's Island for my island time schedule of walks on the beach, time by the pool, naps, visiting all of the shops, dinner and a final beach stroll to walk off all of the shrimp I previously ate.

What is on your bucket list for the end of summer? If you don't have the time for a long vacation, my lovely sponsors have some wonderful travel posts that can help.

Christina of Route Bliss

Christina is no stranger to this blog. Her mix of photography tutorials, travel adventures and advice should make your daily read list asap. If you have ever thought about traveling alone as a single female, this post is a must read if you want to avoid a Taken situation (unless you have Liam Neeson on speed dial.) On top of all of that, she is a runner. And while I am by no means a runner, I can definitely hold my own in a speed walking race. But in all seriousness, if you want to get off the couch and get moving, then Christina has the perfect motivation and tips to make you race-ready in no time. And to go along with your new fitness lifestyle, why not fix grilled summer veggies

Follow along: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Sarah of Daydreams of Summertime

Sarah's Daydreams of Summertime is one of my new favorite reads. Originally from the Scottish highlands, she has traveled all over Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and now is settled back in Yorkshire. Jealous yet? I know I am. When she isn't living my dream of a life in the UK, she continues traveling to her heart's content. Her holiday photos from Dubrovnik and Croatia have me wanting to book the next flight out. Oh and did I mention that she is a lover of tea and a collector of cups? We're basically soul sisters.

Follow along: Bloglovin | Twitter | Instagram

Must Haves for an Organized Desk

Monday, August 4, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 5 Comments

Monday, August 4, 2014


It is back to school season and for the first time, I am not a part of it. There is something about the beginning of August that makes me instinctively want to stock up on notebooks, pens and pretty trinkets for my desk. I will clean out all of my drawers and perhaps, if I were much younger, break out the labeler and put my name on all of my supplies so there is no mistaking which glue stick is mine. 

But those days are over. If, like me, you are not quite ready to give up the back to school shopping just yet, here are a few grown-up items that will look lovely atop your desk and will help you get organized in time for a new season.

Coffee Talk

Saturday, August 2, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 6 Comments

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Photo via

Sarah never fails to share beautiful photos of France just about the time that I stop talking about my semester abroad every single day. Her photos of Eze in the South of France are no exception. I love the mix of Italian and Mediterranean influence on the French villages, the pastel buildings and even climbing stairs everywhere. 

And now let's hop across the channel to England and take a tour of the Kensington gardens with Sara (no h) a former Texan who is now living and studying in Bristol. Jealous? Yeah, me too.

How cute is Elizabeth's gold leaf necklace

Jess has some wonderful tips for beginner bloggers (and those of us who might need a reminder).

At a loss for what to write about in August? Kenzie has kindly put together another month of writing prompts. Pick and choose which ones interest you. And maybe save the rest for a rainy day when you have severe writer's block and just need to put fingers to keyboard and type. 

I just printed this print out to frame it. Despite my printing/typography class in college, I still had trouble asking which size I wanted at Office Depot. Now I'm off to find an 11x17 frame instead of 11x14. Is 11x17 even a standard frame size??

A lovely August desktop wallpaper from the talented ladies of Maiedae. 

To wrap this on how to fight like a real housewife from Katie, a girl after my own heart. Bonus points if you flip a table or are able to throw a prosthetic leg (doesn't even have to be yours) across the room.

What you may have missed this week: 

Blog Advice: Staying True to You

Friday, August 1, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 2 Comments

Friday, August 1, 2014

I've rarely (if ever) shared advice or thoughts on blogging. This is partly because I know that I am still figuring it all out, even after almost two years. But one thing that I do know, and if you read a lot of other advice posts, is that the most important thing to remember is to stay true to yourself. In your topics, writing style and design. The fastest way to burn out with blogging is to feel like you are being something you aren't on your corner of the Internet.

Staying true to yourself extends into the decision of whether or not to write sponsored content or accepting products. If you have been blogging for a while, you have probably received emails from companies, organizations or brands. These can range from writing about them or their new product, hosting a giveaway (sometimes for free) and receiving a product to write a review. The pros and cons of the last option have been debated by bloggers over and over. 

I wanted to focus on making the decision to write about a brand for free. The ones who have done their job (or have hired a pr firm who does their job right) will know exactly what you write about and what your niche is. They will address you by name in the email and will reference a recent post you wrote. This is a good sign. The others will send out a mass email to hundreds of bloggers hoping that a few of them will respond. If you are a food blogger who shares her favorite recipes, they will ask you to write about finance and budgeting.I've been contacted to review small business loans (I don't own a shop) and gift packages for men (I'm single).

The main things to consider are: 

1. Does the content fit with what you write about? Is it something that you would normally buy or look into in real life? 

2. Can you fit it seamlessly into any posts you have in the works? What you want (and ultimately what the brand wants) is coverage that doesn't sound like a used car salesman.

3. Do you want to be told what to write? If you are blogging solely as a hobby and are not looking to make any money off of it, then you have complete control over your content. It gets a little diecy if you want to blog part-time or full-time because then you may jump at every opportunity that presents itself to make money. 

The bottom line is to decide ahead of time how you want to handle requests to write content. If it is something you want to do, always consider it on a case by case basis and never feel pressured to tell someone that you don't think it is a good fit. You know yourself and your readers and the last thing you want to do to create a relationship with them is to constantly write  content.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section. I would love to hear how you handle these requests.