Weekly Wishes 19

Monday, March 31, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 6 Comments

Monday, March 31, 2014

azaleas
Happy Monday! I hope you all enjoyed your weekend. Mine was filled with more unpacking and settling in, grocery shopping and laundry. Exciting, no? On a side note, I think I'm going to start calling this "bi-weekly wishes" because I typically check in every couple weeks. Especially when I didn't get around to doing what I said I wanted to. Working on online classes and reading didn't quite get completed. And that's ok.

To be added to last week's goals:

1. Take a walk in my neighborhood every night. If you are from the South, you know that whatever "spring" you are granted is short-lived and should be enjoyed while it lasts before the humidity sets in. I plan to take full advantage of the time between the non-existent seasons here.

2. Free up over 1GB of space on my phone to make room for the new iOS update. Tell me, is it worth it? Is it life changing? Because I don't want to take the time to make sure my photos are backed up on my computer before deleting them for minor bug fixes.

Also, can we talk about the fact that I finally figured out how to create transparent text in Photoshop? I think I'm the last one to the party, but thanks to Youtube, maybe I can just say that I'm fashionably late. Be prepared while I now overuse this element on all my photos. 

Have a wonderful week!

The Nectar Collective

Coffee Talk vol. 11

Saturday, March 29, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 13 Comments

Saturday, March 29, 2014

coffee and flowers

I hope you are enjoying your Saturday morning, whether you are a lay in bed until noon kind of person or a carpe diem/don't waste the sunshine person. Either way, as long as coffee is involved it is sure to be a winner.

And now for some good reads to go along with said coffee.

1. It's self tanner season for those of us who are pale. The girls at A Beautiful Mess rounded up the best self tanners for all skin shades. It's worth looking at if, like me, your apartment pool is now open (which happened to coincide with a freakish cold snap.)

2. Girls still at Harding, it's official, long shorts are coming back into style. If you are looking for "dress code appropriate" alternatives to Nike shorts, or want something a little dressier, then you don't want to miss this list of bermuda shorts.

3. I'm still laughing at these tips to grow your Instagram account. Anyone who tells me to take more pictures of books with coffee, is seen as a source of wisdom to me.

4. I don't want to drop too many hints just yet, but a Nordic adventure is happening on the horizon. And one of the must sees is the Abba museum in Stockholm. When in Rome, right? And I may be jumping the gun on this one, but I've already found a hostel for us to stay at there: City Backpackers Stockholm. Apparently they are the 5th best hostel in the world?

5. It's that time of the year for many...internship applicaiton/job application time. Mackenzie has some great tips on the process of getting all of your application materials together and taking the time to complete all of the applications.

What you missed this week:
Berry Banana Pancakes 
An Afternoon in Monet's Garden
My love for desserts


Cooks in the Kitchen: Berry Banana Pancakes

Friday, March 28, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 5 Comments

Friday, March 28, 2014

I'm excited to be linking up with Samantha today for Cooks in the Kitchen. As you are well aware of by now, breakfast foods are my absolute favorite. Eggs and toast are eaten at all hours of the day and pancakes are acceptable morning, noon and night.

So of course, when I found a recipe for classic buttermilk pancakes on The Everygirl, I knew that I had to test it out. I am a self-proclaimed box mix pancake girl. And proud of it. So I went out on a limb taking the time to really make the batter myself. 

While it didn't turn out perfect, I'm turning to those cooking experts out there reading this that might be able to solve the problem. My guess is, I didn't take the time to sift the flour before measuring it. Whatever the problem, the batter resembled buttermilk biscuits more than pancake batter.

Even though they were extremely dense, once I added berries and bananas to the top, all doubt in the recipe slipped my mind. I microwaved frozen mixed berries until they became soft and the juice became the syrup. You can also add the berries to maples syrup as you're heating it for added sweetness.

*I will admit that I did not read all the details and about how this month's ingredient is semi-sweet chocolate. oops. But since I'm not the biggest chocolate fan, well, that's fine by me.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, sifted before measuring
1 tsp. salt
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
Maple syrup or Berry Syrup (see recipe below), for serving
Fresh fruit (sliced bananas, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), for serving

Directions

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix egg, buttermilk, and butter. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk the batter to combine, until the flour is dampened and just a few lumps remain. Heat an ungreased griddle. Throw a few drops of cold water on the griddle--if they dash about briskly it's ready for use. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter quickly onto the griddle. When bubbles start to form and the edges begin to firm, use a spatula to flip the pancakes to the other side. Cook another minute or two longer, then remove. 

An Afternoon in Monet's Garden

Thursday, March 27, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 12 Comments

Thursday, March 27, 2014

For the majority of the country, spring is here to say (minus yesterday's freak cold snap). The azaleas are blooming, the pollen is in full force, which means my car will be completely yellow for the next few weeks. Also, my apartment complex's pool is officially open. If that doesn't say "spring is here," I don't know what does. Besides the miles-long waiting list to get a pedicure at my favorite spa. But that is neither here nor there. I said all that to say that the flowers awakening from their hibernation reminds me of that one half-hour I spent in Monet's garden in Giverny. Enjoy!

Towards the end of the semester, the group I was with decided we wanted to visit the beaches of Normandy before we left. So we planned a two-day drive north, stopping along the way at Monet's garden and Mont St. Michel.

To start this story off, I feel like I must admit that I am not an art fan. Yes, I enjoy looking at it, but it's not my favorite. I can't have conversations about how it makes me feel or the way the strokes give an air of melancholy. So the endless tours of museums in Paris was a little dull for me. That is, until I discovered the Impressionists. After visiting the Orangerie and the Orsay I fell in love with the muted palates and pretty subjects of Monet, Degas and Renoir. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned we were going to visit the scene that inspired Monet's water lily series.

And the visit, no matter how short, was delightful and breathtaking. I wanted to capture every inch of the space, so I viewed most of it through my camera, but I wouldn't have had it any other way.

To get from Paris to Monet's garden in Giverny, take the train from Saint Lazare station to Vernon and then take one of the shuttle buses to Giverny and the garden. Since my group had a very limited time (i.e. the time inbetween one train from Vernon and our next train on to Normandy) we had to rush through the tour of the garden and the house. Despite the rush, I was so glad that I was able to make the stop and see all of my favorite scenes in person.

*this post was originally a guest post of Oak & Oats

I might have a sweet tooth

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 1 Comment

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I prefer pies and Talenti gelato to a vegetable plate, especially after eating said veggies, because it's all about balance and moderation, right? I can wax poetically for hours about my favorite tarts and pastries. And let's face it, my time in France didn't help this habit. If nothing else, it made me more of a dessert snob. Rows and rows of beautiful eclairs, mille fuilles, napoleons and pain au chocolat were my motivation in French class because I didn't want to be that American simply pointing at the item they wanted to order. I wanted to know exactly what I was ordering and what to expect. In the beginning of my menu ordering days, I just closed my eyes, pointed at something I could afford and hoped for the best. And, honestly, it wasn't a half bad method of ordering, in case you ever end up in that situation.

Also, desserts just photograph much better than say, casseroles. And, for me, it's all about the presentation and my second favorite hobby, instagramming my every meal. 

Friday Favorites: Meals for One

Friday, March 21, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 3 Comments

Friday, March 21, 2014

Are you one of those people who doesn't read the number of servings at the bottom of a recipe until after you've made said dish, eaten two helpings and wonder just how long you would have to eat chicken cordon bleu casserole? Yeah, me neither. So for those of you who don't have an entire family to feed, don't like eating leftovers more than twice and don't have an unlimited grocery budget, these recipes and meals are for you.

On a side note, I've yet to figure out a dishwasher schedule for my limited number of dishes and so last night when I realized too late that I was out of plates and knives (and had already started the dishwasher), I ate out of a mixing bowl. Oops.

Photo Source: I Wore Yoga Pants
This is what I ate out of said mixing bowl and it was worth it. Plus I have just enough for lunch tomorrow. Letting the flavors marry and simmer together makes all the difference. So practice your patience and resist eating it all straight from the pan. 

Keep all the ingredients on hand and in ten minutes you can have however many you need. If you can layer ingredients on a pita, put it in the oven, set a timer and remove the pan from the oven, then I'm confident that you can master this one and impress friends and family with it. 
Photo Source: The Kitchn
Who can say no to a grilled cheese sandwich? I am now a firm believer in fontina grilled cheese. None of this cheddar, or heaven forbid, American business. These tips will help you perfect your crispy, melted sandwich goodness. Oh and if you haven't tried Campbell's tomato & sweet basil bisque, then you are missing out on the best tomato soup in a can.
Photo Source: The Everygirl
You can never go wrong with pancakes for both breakfast and dinner. And leave it to The Everygirl to come up with two new pancake recipes to mix things up a little. I don't know whether I'm more excited to try the cheddar & chive pancakes or the strawberry shortcakes. Yum! Plus, the recipe is for 1-2 servings. But if you want to make two servings for yourself, I won't tell anyone :)

Sponsor Spotlight: Sarah of Sky Envy

Thursday, March 20, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport|| 2 Comments

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I am exited to introduce Sarah and her blog's relaunch as Sky Envy (Previously Sarah's Suitcase.) I like to think of Sarah's blog as a trip around the world without having to leave my couch. Her stunning photos bring you into the heart of every city she visits and her posts make you feel like you are right there with her, wether it's a cruise around the Greek isles, or an extended layover in Moscow. 


What made you decide to start blogging?
I have been blogging on and off for a long time now. It started with Xanga, then Live Journal, Tumblr, WP.com, Blogger then more recently WP.org. It was more of a hobby and I wasn’t too serious about it, so I end up leaving/forgetting my old accounts then starting a new one. 
Where did the inspiration for the new site come from? 
I have been wanting for a change with my old blog. The new site look and feel is inspired by looking at some interior design photos. I was moving (again) into a new place and needed some inspiration then I realized I always end up having a clean, minimalist look and decided that’s what I want for the blog too.

What kind of content will you be writing? Is it another travel blog like Sarah's Suitcase?
I would say that it is an upgrade from my old blog. I wouldn’t consider it a typical travel blog. I don’t have reviews of hotels or have a lot of tips for travelers. Rather, it is more of a personal photo diary of my experiences and travels in the States and around the world. 
What lessons have you learned from blogging?
When I purchased a domain and hosting service, I knew that I need to be serious and be more consistent with blogging. What I didn’t know is that it’s a lot more work than I realized. From coming up with new post ideas, to editing photos, actually being on the field getting new content, scheduling it in between your busy life takes a lot of time and patience. I have a lot more respect to bloggers now, especially who have been doing it for a while.
I also learned that blogging is a platform where you can share whatever you want and there are people out there who are interested and take time to actually read your post and follow your life or what you intend to share.

What has been your most memorable trip? 
There are a lot of memorable ones but what I would never forget is when I went on a volunteer vacation in Peru for 2 months.  Aside from our volunteer assignments, I took Spanish lessons, traveled on weekends to different parts of Peru and met amazing people from around the world who are now my friends and shared a lot of memories with. It was definitely a different kind of trip and wished I stayed longer.

What is one foreign custom/cultural practice you wish was common in America?
A hard one to answer but as an observation from other culture/countries, I wish that people here in US are given more free time from work and that people actually use that time leisurely. Of course we can’t change the whole society but even when you have a down time at work, sometimes you feel guilty about not doing anything. I think it shouldn’t be the case and you should be entitled to just relax and not worry about it.

Also we are not given a lot of time to actually be off from work. Traveling around and talking to people, most Americans would cram 3-5 countries in one week because  that’s the only time they have but also Americans are now so used to “seeing more in less days”. To each their own, but I try to take longer time with my travels and just experience it and not be rushed to do things.

I think what I’m trying to say in general is that I wish people are given time and opportunity to live life more, experience the moment and when they do, they are actually doing it and not really living to work, and check off stuff in their to-do list. But that’s just me. 
Now that you are back in the U.S. are you settling down, or are there other adventures on your horizon? 
I do contractual jobs that actually make me travel and be in a city/town for 3 months or longer. I have been doing it for 4 years now, mostly in California, and still be surprised that I have been doing it that long. Part of why I want to continue doing this kind of job is that it allows me to take as much time of as I want and travel the rest of the world.  It gets tiring especially when its “moving time” but I don’t see myself settling down just yet. And when I do, I would still travel as much as I can.

What makes you content?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport|| 2 Comments

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Can you pinpoint a time or a memory or a time when you were blissfully and perfectly content? When the worries of the day, the lists, the goals, the agendas and the planning took a backseat or even dissipated completely? You lived in each and every moment, knowing that all of the stress will be there whether you put all of your energy into it or not.

Sometimes it's important to be present in the here and now, not analyzing the past or predicting the future. Maybe for you (and me) it's putting down the phone and actually listening to what the person across the table from you has to say. Trust me, your Pinterest feed will still be there a few hours later. Put away your day planner and all of its notes, reminders and checklists. 

Take a walk. Outside, not in a gym while catching up on last night's primetime lineup. 

Make something. Whether it's for your home or as a gift to a friend to tell them that you are thinking of them, having something tangible to show for your time and creative energy is wonderful. 

Have lunch alone. Maybe you are one of those people who is constantly surrounded by others and their demands on your time. If so, take an hour just for you. Get lunch or have your nails done and enjoy the quiet time to unwind.

Visit somewhere special. Maybe it's the town that your family always went to for the same week every summer. Or your first road trip on your own. Go somewhere that brings back the best of your memories.
_______________________________________________________________________

Mar of T.O. and Fro


I am a big city Toronto girl meant for a simple life surrounded by the ocean and mountains. As an environmental educator by day and my hockey-playing hubby's #1 fan by morning, noon and night, I write about life as a travel addict, animal lover, photography junkie and outdoor enthusiast. 

One item I can't travel without:
My camera! No matter where we go, from short road trips to tropical vacations, it is always strapped to my side along with my assortment of lenses. You never know when the perfect shot will present itself.

What you should be reading: 

Jamie of Gunters Abroad


Hey there! I’m Jamie and have recently relocated to England with my husband and my pets. My blog documents our travels, the thrilling ups and downs of expat life and of course, the yummy food of Europe. We love to share our travels and I hope you follow along on our adventures!

What is one item that you cannot travel without? 
Whether by train, plane or automobile, my must have is a good book! Flying makes me a little uneasy sometimes and a book soothes me for sure. My goal of reading 20 books this year is moving right along with all of the traveling we do!

What you should be reading: 

Tourist in Your Hometown recap

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 12 Comments

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I hope you have enjoyed reading the Tourist in Your Hometown series as much as I enjoyed organizing it. The whole idea was to learn to enjoy wherever it is you are currently living (or wherever you grew up) and realizing that you don't have to hop on a plane to find an adventure. I want to thank all of the bloggers who contributed to this series; know that I've taken all of your posts and now have my own travel guide whenever I'm in your area so I will never be bored.

The series may be over (for now), but as I explore and learn my way around my new home, I'll be sharing all the things to eat, see and do in Tallahassee.

In case you missed one of the posts, here is the collection. From the east coast to the west coast, from large cities to small towns, what makes your city special? 

Weekly Wishes 18

Monday, March 17, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 17 Comments

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thank you all so much for your tips on packing and moving. While I'm not quite moved in yet, there are only a few more car loads left. The best thing about not moving too far from home is that I really have a second closet to leave all of my out of season clothes in. And although I will be sleeping on just a mattress and box spring for several weeks, it could be worse. Like sleeping on an air mattress with a slow leak.

And for this week: 
1. Finish my SEO class. One of the things I have fallen in love with about Skillshare is that you can work on the lessons at your own pace and there is no time limit. The downside is I am so excited about classes, complete the first couple sections right away, and then never quite follow through. Hopefully that will change this week and I can move this class and project off my to-do list and start optimizing this site for search engines.

2. Read this month's book club pick, Gone Girl, and Divergent just in time for the premier on Friday. I read Gone Girl a couple of years ago on the drive from Searcy to Chicago and couldn't put the book down, so I'd imagine that it would be a page turner the second time as well.

P.S. all ad spots are 25% off this week with code TWENTYFIVE!

Friday Favorites: Interior Design Inspiration

Friday, March 14, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 17 Comments

Friday, March 14, 2014

So last night was the first night in my new apartment. And until the rest of my furniture comes in, I have a mattress, club chair, desk/dining table and a tv. I'm calling it the ultimate minimalist look. The guys who delivered my mattress almost didn't take the plastic off since I didn't have a headboard and frame. So until my apartment doesn't look like I'm squatting in a vacant property, here is a little of my design inspiration: lots of gallery walls, clean lines and pops of color.

The Everygirl
Paper City Magazine
Live Laugh Decorate
Design Sponge
Better Homes & Garden 
Chic Sprinkles
Bright Bazzar

A few words from Dixie + Sponsor Spotlight

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 6 Comments

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hi, I'm Dixie and I will be taking over the blog today. My main past time and duty is standing watch over the front door. From my perch on top of the couch I can survey my kingdom and intimidate anyone or anything that happens to walk by. I strike fear into the heart of mailmen, children on bikes and squirrels alike. Beware to anyone who tries to approach the front porch. However, if they are brave enough to enter the front door, I will hide behind the nearest person or cat to cower in fear. I may be a pint-sized guard dog and alarm system, but I have little practice following through with my empty threats. 

And when I'm not at my day job, I enjoy long naps and eating cookies. Dachshunds are a burrowing breed, so it's no surprise that I require multiple blankets in my kennel at all times so I can bury myself under them to the point that I am stuck and need assistance getting out. I am also a conissour of cookies. Lemon Oreos are my preferred choice, but I will settle for regualar vanilla Oreos, shortbread Girl Scout cookies or Pecan Sandies.

My one goal in life is to tree a squirrel. They taunt me and know that they can out climb me. One day though...I will catch them.

Christina of Route Bliss


Hello, I'm Christina of Route Bliss. While I've been blogging for over a decade now, Route Bliss itself has only been around since the Summer of 2013. RB (as I've dubbed it) is where I share my love of travel and photography as well as what I'm learning on my journey to healthier living (adapted recipes as well as running and fitness tips and grumblings!).

What is one item that you cannot travel without? 
There's really two I can't go anywhere without : my camera or my pillow. I've made the mistake of using hotel pillows and regretted it for days afterward ... and I have to be able to document everything :)

What you should be reading:

Kym of Travel Babbles


Travel Babbles is my creative outlet, my diary, my recipe book, my photo album, and my travel journal. It’s a collection of my favorite things, pieces of my heart, our hockey life, our loss, what inspires me, and the many things that make me smile.

What is one item that you cannot travel without? 
Besides my husband TJ - my dog Brutus! Crazy answer, I know, but we've actually turned down hockey contracts because my dog wouldn't be able to come with us or he'd have to be quarantined for a bit. Brutus provides such a source of comfort and friendship when I'm alone in a new city, and he forces me to get outside at least twice a day to explore. I've learned to live on very little (and out of only one suitcase!) so materialistic things aren't a necessity in my travels.

What You Should be Reading: 

Tourist in Your Hometown: Jenny of Wonderfully Complex

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 8 Comments

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I'm so excited to introduce Jenny of Wonderfully Complex
for one of the Southern installments of 
Tourist in Your Hometown. 

While at Harding,
I spend many Saturdays driving over to Memphis 
just for something else to do 
besides be in Arkansas.
My highlights: BBQ (le duh), Color Run, and BBQ nachos. 
Did I mention BBQ twice?

Hello friends, I’m Jenny and I blog over at Wonderfully Complex. It’s a lifestyle blog - so I write all about my adventures as a recent graduate, newlywed and young professional.

In June of 2013 my husband I moved to Memphis, Tenn., so he could attend dental school. Before that moment, you could count the number of times we’d traveled to Memphis {combined} on one hand, so this was a completely new city for us.

Now, eight months later, we’re still exploring and finding new and exciting things about our hometown. Every date is a new adventure, and I love the endless possibilities. Memphis has the Southern hospitality of a small town with all the amenities of a big city. It’s a city full of SOUL, which expresses itself in every dish served, song sung and game won.

So, assuming you’re a young, twenty-something like me, who’s more concerned with paying off college debt than planning a dream vacation, I’m going to share with you the bestest, cheapest day full of adventure in Memphis. So come give us a visit!

1. Start off the day with Gibson’s Donuts.
Honestly, this is still on our Memphis bucket list, but we’ve eaten very few breakfasts in Memphis, so you have to give us a break. I hear they have a maple bacon donut that’s out of this world. Yes, the donut actually has bacon on it.


2. Spend your morning at the Memphis Zoo.
{Really?? You’re recommending a zoo?? There’s one of them everywhere!} Yes, but did you know that I actually really don’t like zoos? And the fact that I’m recommending one actually means something? I got to feed a giraffe when I went. A giraffe french-kissed my hand, and it was awesome. This zoo also has all kinds of theme nights and special events. And, tickets are only $8 if you happen to know someone who is a member {we can hook you up}. Go say hi to the panda for me; he’s my favorite.


3. Eat lunch at Las Delicias.
And, yes, now I’m recommending a “typical” Mexican restaurant. But, this restaurant is not so typical. Their chips are homemade, and the best chips I’ve ever tasted - mmmm, warm out of the oven. You can actually buy some to-go if you want. I always follow up several baskets of chips and salsa with a yummy quesadilla. And, the best part is - you can eat plenty of food for under $7 a plate. Remember, we’re on a budget here.


4. Grab some dessert at Frost Bake Shop.
If you’re sweet tooth is long over the donut you had for breakfast like mine would be, then you definitely need to stop by Frost Bake Shop for an Elvis-inspired Cupcake or some Goeey Butter Cookies or some Mississippi Mud Cake - they’ll even warm it up and top it with vanilla bean icecream. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.


4. Spend the afternoon at Shelby Farms.
This is our go-to spot. We can go for a walk on their many trails, play some disc golf, hang out on the playground, have a picnic, ride horses, ride bikes, play paintball or laser tag, or just enjoy the outdoors. And, most of those activities are free. Yes, sweet free-dom.


5. Eat dinner at Central BBQ, Downtown.
You’ll need to head Downtown for your after-dinner entertainment, so having some legendary Memphis BBQ is a must. Our personal favorite {for our pocketbooks} is Central BBQ. We order a huge serving of BBQ nachos and split the goods. It’s plenty for both of us, and it is oh so yummy. {And it’s under $10! I told you I’ve got your back.}


6. End the night at FedExForum to cheer on the Grizz.
If professional basketball’s not your thing, you at least need to test it out here in Memphis - where we boast the #1 franchise in all of professional sports. We also have the best bang for your buck. So for $10 a ticket {yes, $10} you can see Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph GRIT and GRIND. And, if that’s not enough to convince you, the Grizz Grannies should do the trick. Yes, you read that right.

7. And if you’re still up for some more adventure…

At this point, it’s past our bedtime, but if you need some more adventure... Go walk down Beale Street and see for yourself what all the hype is about. Or, travel down to the Madison Hotel and experience the rooftop lounge with the best views of the Mississippi River {above}. Or, just do how we do and go home, go to bed, and save the next adventure for another day.