Monday, December 16, 2013

'Tis the Season

kelley123: via
Image via

'Tis the season to be jolly! I love this time of year. It is a time filled with wonderful music, laughter, good food, friends, family, and holiday parties. It is a time of year where churches are filled with people singing and rejoicing. I'm not one for picking favorites, because I have a hard time narrowing it down, but this is by far my favorite time of year. 

Not only is it a fun and exciting time of year, but it's also a time to reflect and be thankful for all of our blessings. I can't help but walk around with a smile on my face, as I think about this time of year when we celebrate the birth of a tiny baby who changed the world forever. I feel that those of us who are in the holiday spirit should spread our good cheer to everyone around us, so put on your best holiday smiles this season! 

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Countdown is On!

As I mentioned in my last post, Adam and I are gearing up for another trip. And I'll be honest...some days I get so excited when I start thinking about it, that I think I'm going to burst!

As some of you know, Adam and I made a pact when we got married to travel as much as we could. We've sacrificed things like a new dishwasher, remodeling a bathroom, etc. to save money so we can go, go, go! It has been great! In the time we've been married, aside from little trips here and there, we've also been to Denver, Puerto Vallarta, Italy, and Ireland. And we've just booked our next trip...FRANCE!

Our "big" trips to Italy and Ireland, were with family. We went with my family to Italy and Adam's family to Ireland. Well, this's just us. I am so excited that Adam and I will be sharing this adventure with each other. We have rented a car, booked our hotels, and are in the process of planning what sights we will see.

Of course Paris is on the list, along with a few small towns in the Loire Valley and the Burgundy regions. I'm looking forward to wonderful food, beautiful sights, and lots and lots of wine.

Because we still have a bit of a wait before we hop on that plane, I've been following Carin's blog, Paris in Four Months. Carin is a photographer from Stockholm, living in Paris. Her photography is absolutely stunning and makes me crave Paris like never before!

On top of wonderful photography, she also likes to eat...which is a major plus. She has great restaurant recommendations and writes about the best places to go and foods to eat.

Here are a few of my favorite photographs that she has featured on her blog recently:
Autumn in Jardin des Tuileries, photo by Carin Olsson of Paris in Four Months
Walking around the Marais

Midnight in Paris
L'Éclair de Génie
Parisian Flower Shop, photo by Carin Olsson (Paris in Four Months)

I could go on posting forever, but I'll stop there. I highly recommend you check out Carin's blog! And, if you've been to France recently, let me know what you loved! We're still working on our itinerary and would love to hear about your favorite places to visit, eat, drink, sleep, and shop!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lust List

For some reason, the fall season always makes me want to shop! I love fall clothes, shoes, colors, and more. This fall, we're in savings mode. Adam and I are gearing up for our next trip (hint: we're going to be enjoying a lot of wine and cheese...) and so instead of shopping, we're tucking money away for our vacation.

That said, I still like to "window shop". Here are a few items on my lust list:


I've been on a bracelet kick for months now. I just feel like adding a bracelet next to my watch dresses everything up a little bit! Here are two of my favorites:


Chunky Knit Sweaters

Loving this new trend of chunky knit sweaters! And I'm dying to add a few to my collection. Here are some of my favorites!

From: (Vince)

Finally, I am a jacket fanatic. I have a closet full of great winter coats, but I'm always looking to expand my collections. Here the one I'm lusting after now!


I'll be honest, I could go on FOREVER with my lust list...but we'll stick with this for now! Happy Shopping to all of you who will be partaking in the Black Friday festivities. I'll be enjoying time with family!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Meatless Monday! Spicy Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas

By now, you've all heard about the Meatless Mondays craze that's going around. I'm not sure we're jumping on board for good, but I thought I'd try my hand at a few meatless dinners over the next several weeks. And, while I'm at it...I'll try and plan them for Mondays!

This week was our first go at Meatless Monday. We are big eaters at our house...and we love all types of food, so I was a little hesitant about going meatless, even once a week. But this recipe was a hit!

I found the recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Designer Bags and Dirty Diapers. I tweaked the recipe a little and it was a hit!

There was a fair amount of prep. work, maybe 30 minutes total, and then I just popped my baking dish into the oven and waited!

Here my version of the receipe:

Spicy Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas


  • 12 small corn or flour tortillas (I used flour)
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ouce can of whole kernel corn 
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
  • 1 28-ounce can red enchilada sauce, such as Las Palmas
  • 1/2 cup grated manchego cheese + more for topping (or sub another Mexican cheese, such as Cojita or Pepper Jack) (I used a mix of Manchego and Mexican Quesadilla Cheese)
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Topping Options: cilantro, guacamole (homemade), lettuce 


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and position a baking rack in the middle of the oven.
  • Combine black beans, green chilies, sour cream, cumin, chili powder and 1/2 cup manchego cheese in a mixing bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.
  • Warm 3/4 of the enchilada sauce in a large shallow pan over low-medium heat.
  • Pour enough enchilada sauce to also lightly coat the bottom of a 9×13 dish. Swirl to coat and set aside.
  • Using your hands or tongs, carefully dip the tortillas in the warmed sauce until both sides are well coated. Transfer the tortilla to the baking dish, scoop in 2 Tbsp of the black bean filling and roll up. Place seam side down and continue until the pan is filled – should be about 8 enchiladas.
  • Top enchiladas with remaining sauce and use spoon to make sure all parts of the tortillas are evenly coated. Top with a bit more cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until slightly golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.
  • Serve with toppings such as avocado, guacamole, sour cream, green onion, cilantro or lettuce.
  • Will keep in the fridge for a couple days. Reheat in oven

Before adding the cheese

With cheese, just before going in the oven.

Dinner is served!
NOTE: I topped ours with lettuce, cilantro and homemade guacamole. Next time, I think I would add salsa and some of my favorite hot sauce, Cholula

TIP: I would recommend spraying your baking dish with a light coat of Pam. Our tortillas were sticking to the bottom just a bit.

This was a great Meatless Monday option! Adam and I both loved it and we will definitely repeat it sometime soon!

Have you tried Meatless Monday? What are some of your favorite meatless meals?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Fusilli with Chicken Sausage and Thyme

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this recipe adapted and blogged by Liz from Sequins & Stripes. I was intrigued, mostly because I while I'm a fan of Pumpkin Pie, I wasn't sure about how pumpkin would be in a pasta dish.

There were a few ingredients in Liz's version that I didn't love for a savory dish (cinnamon, nutmeg, and sage) so I decided to substitute a few things I do like (thyme, rosemary, and red pepper flakes)!

Pumpkin Fusilli with Chicken Sausage and Thyme

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pound mild Italian chicken sausage
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
1/2 teaspoon rosemary, dried
1 cup dry white wine {I used my new French favorite, only $10 a bottle}
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon thyme, dried
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound fusilli pasta, cooked to al dente {we used whole wheat pasta}
Romano or Parmigiano, for grating


Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate. Clean the skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.

Add bay leaf, rosemary, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. {I would recommend using a whisk for this part, it helps to incorporate the pumpkin without splashing the wine and stock} Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in milk. Season the sauce with the thyme and red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.

Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese.

Total time: 25 minutes     Servings: 4

The Review:

It was great! The sauce was creamy and hearty and the chicken sausage was a great addition. I was happy that the pumpkin wasn't too sweet, in fact, I almost couldn't even tell that it was pumpkin. This was a great way to make a creamy pasta sauce without actually using any cream!

In the future, I might try it without milk and maybe substitute a little goat cheese for some extra flavor! Adam and I each enjoyed a nice sized dinner portion and then had enough left over to save for three lunches (one for Adam and two for me)!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hiatus and New Favorite Things

Wow! Talk about a serious hiatus. I can't believe that it's been two months since I've posted. This has definitely been the busy season for me at work...and I feel as though I've just looked up to notice that it's October...well, actually it is pretty much November.

The fall season is flying by and though I've enjoyed a few pumpkin spice lattes, I don't think I've really stopped to bask in all that is fall. Fall is one of my favorite season. I love the weather, the smells, the holidays and everything else that goes with fall (aside from the cold that my husband shared with me this week).

As you might have noticed, I've added quite a few blogs to my "These are a Few of My Favorite Things" list. And let me tell you, they are truly a few of my favorite things! Today I want to spotlight a few of the new blogs on my list and tell you a little about each one!

Atlantic-Pacific is a great fashion blog. The photography is excellent, and of course the outfits are amazing. I love that at the end of each post, the author lists all of the components of each "look" right down to the lipstick color. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen a lipstick or nail polish color on a blog or in a magazine and been so disappointed because the color and brand weren't listed!

Carolina Charm is one of my new go-to blogs for party planning, recipes, and decorating tips. Christina, a fellow Carolina girl, shares great information on decorating, and easy recipes. And, she and her husband are expecting their first little one. I'm excited to follow her blog through such an exciting time. I feel like she'll have great tips and ideas for those of us who haven't quite jumped on the baby band wagon!

Designer Bags and Dirty Diapers is another one of my favorites! Natalie is a stay at home mom with a son, and a sweet baby on the way. She writes about fashion, home decor, and shares her favorites recipes. Her blog is down to earth and very fun! And...she occasionally has blog sales, which always feature some fun and very stylish items. I'm dying to try out a blog sale!

Paris in Four Months is an absolutely stunning blog. The author, a photographer, takes beautiful pictures of her travels. She is a fashion photographer, but seems to have a flair for photographing food and the streets of Paris. Adam and I are planning to head to France in February, so I like to check in on Carin's blog every few days to see what else I'm going to have to add to Paris to-do list!

Last, but not least, I want to introduce you to Sequins & Stripes. Liz is a fashion blogger living in Chicago. She has a classic style with a fun and funky twist. She's just gotten engaged and I can't wait to hear more about her wedding plans! She also posts some great recipes from time to time! I'll be blogging about one soon!

These are just a few of my NEW Favorite Things. You'll have to check them out!

Thursday, August 15, 2013


It was a long three days, but I did it!

Going into this experience, I was a total skeptic. Now, I'm sure this is where you're thinking I'm going to tell you that the detox was just life-changing...well, it wasn't. It wasn't a bad experience, and it wasn't an amazing was just an experience.

I am glad that I gave it a try. As you know, as a skeptic, I did this because I wanted to be able to give an educated opinion on detoxes in general. So, here are my thoughts and opinions about my experience.

I think this particular detox was a great detox for beginners. It was pretty easy, fairly short, and my favorite...pretty darn natural. (Aside from the fact that I don't typically blend my food.)

All of the ingredients and components in this detox were things that were easy to find, and most of them were things I already purchase regularly. That said, I also believe that it might be why this detox didn't seem "life-changing" to me.


  • I feel thinner. I don't feel bloated in the slightest bit.
  • My hands and feet, which sometimes swell in the heat or later in the day have not done so, which I'm sure is something we can attribute to the lack of sodium in my diet over the past few days. Let's be honest, this girl loves her salt shaker.
  • So far, I am eating smaller meals, but more frequently...which is a good healthy habit!
  • Slept like a log...

  • For three days I was hungry a few times throughout the day and not able to snack when I wanted. (just a pet peeve more than an actual con...)
  • Had to drink one pretty weird drink at lunch for three days. (again...more pet peeve...)
  • I lacked energy and could not work out when I wanted to (this is a normal side effect of detoxing...and just another pet peeve)
I do feel like this detox is a great time for a sort of fresh start. This summer I've been living it up...and it's time to get back to the real world! Here are a few habits I'd like to form post-detox.

Make it a Habit:
  • I kicked the caffeine during the detox. It's amazing that after three days of headaches...I'm feeling good! I'd like to keep it that way, so no more caffeine!
  • Small meals more often. 
  • Drink more water!!!
  • Start the day off with a cup of green tea with lemon. It's a yummy combination and a good little daily detox drink!
  • Only eat when I'm hungry.
  • Detox baths...not so much for the detox, but for the relaxation!

Here are a few habits I want to kick...or at least improve after a crazy fun summer:
  • Drink less
  • Think a little more carefully before I eat that bowl of ice cream, chocolate cookie, milkshake, etc....
  • Get back on a regular workout routine.
All in all, the detox wasn't so bad. I'm glad I gave it a shot and I would do it again if a situation like mine presented itself: aka....if I spent another summer eating and drinking like it's going out of style!

Now, I'm back on the wagon and it's time to buckle down and get back in shape!

Detox: Day 3

Last Day!!! This is what I kept telling myself throughout the day!

6:20 am: I was able to sleep in a little bit because I made all of my Day 3 drinks the night before. I woke up feeling kind of achy. I don't know if that had to do with the detox or the fact that I did not move at all throughout the night...yes, I slept that well!

6:45 am: Drink my detox tea and my breakfast drink while getting ready for work. Feeling less achy now and more normal!

7:50 am: I'm out the door!

10:20 am: I'm getting kind of hungry. I've been drinking lots of water...but that doesn't really do much for the hunger. But, I need to wait on my lunch drink a little longer.

11:40 am: I vow to drink half of my lunch drink in the next hour while I work and then I am "allowed" to take a break and get out of the office for a bit.

The last Green Monster...
1:30 pm: Back at the office from my little outing. Starting on the second half of the Green monster. I don't know if it's that I'm getting used to the Green Monster or if I just blended it a little better...either way, it's a little easier to tackle on Day 3! (or maybe it's like the little engine that could...I only have a few more hours, "I think I can, I think I can...")

2:15 pm: Finished with the second half of the Green Monster!!!!!! Slight...very slight...caffeine headache, but it is MUCH better than it was on Days 1 and 2.

4:45 pm: Snack drink time! (2 drinks down...then this one...and ONE MORE!!!!)

5:45 pm: Running errands, which includes a trip to the grocery store. This is a task that I DO NOT recommend while detoxing. I've managed to stay away, but really had to go to the store today to pick up a few things I'll need for the rest of the week. This was difficult, because everything looked amazing...I mean everything.

6:30 pm: Home, groceries unloaded, laundry started. I'm feeling like I have more energy that I did on Days 1 and 2. Now, I'm not feeling up for a long run or anything, but I have enough energy to vacuum the living room, master bedroom, and the dining room. I painted a coat of paint on the mailbox post. And, had enough energy to do a little extra straightening up to get ready for my guests coming in on Friday!

7:30 pm: Tired...maybe I pushed it a little too hard! Make my dinner drink and settle down to finish Harry Potter.

Last drink, pre-blend...
9:10 pm: Detox bath. Not as eventful as Day 2...thank goodness! I noticed that I didn't sweat as much during this detox bath. I'm not sure if it is because our house was a little cool because of the rain, or because I'm all detoxed out!

9:45 pm: I'm tucked in bed reading Lucky Magazine and drooling over new fall clothes and boots! (And watching a little Food Network). I'm not as tired as I have been the past few days.

10:15 pm: Sleeping...


Over the next few days, I'll be compiling a list of my impressions of the detox, things I'd like to keep in my regimen, and new habits I'm going to try and form post-detox...stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Detox: Day 2 and the Palmetto Bug Incident

Detox Day 2 started out well!

6:00 am:  I woke up and felt refreshed. And I'm not sure if it was the detox bath or what, but I slept very, very well! Took my shower and got ready for work.

7:00 am: Made my drinks while drinking my detox green tea.

7:20 am: Drank my breakfast drink. I pretty much enjoyed this one. The flax seed has a stronger taste than I would like, but it's not bad. Pretty easy to finish!

8:00 am: At work and settled in. I spent most of the morning trying to drink lots of water. I read that drinking a lot of water is key when doing a detox.

11:45 am: I'm starting to get hungry and I remember how long it took me to drink the "Green Monster" on Day 1, so I decide to get started.

12:15 pm: I'm a little over a fourth of the way through my drink...and it's time to take a break. I leave the office, and go shoe shopping. Two pairs of shoes later...I'm feeling like I can for sure conquer the Green monster.

1:00 pm: Back at the office, and finish the Green Monster by 1:45. It was a struggle, but I followed most of my sips with water, which helped. Again, it's not the taste that is bad, it's the texture. It's just funky...kind of like trying to drink grits.....yeah, weird!

4:00 pm: I have a pretty stellar caffeine headache, but I'm not letting it stop me. I'm starting to get hungry, but decide to wait until about 4:45 to drink my snack drink.

4:45 pm: Snack drink. This is just the breakfast drink again...and's growing on me. It's not amazing and I don't think I would choose to have it all the time, but occasionally it would be a pretty good

5:40 pm: Leave work, run a couple of errands...aka...wander around the Loft to check out their new merchandise. I'm starting to get fall clothes fever...

6:25 pm: Home. I paint another coat of primer on the mailbox post, water the plants, and sort of straighten up the house. I put my new shoes in the closet :-)

7:00 pm: I decide to make my Day 3 drinks. I figure this way, I can't really lose my motivation, because I would HATE to waste all of the fruits and veggies that go into these drinks. I make my breakfast drink, lunch drink and snack drink for Wednesday...I can see the finish line!

The ingredients for the breakfast drink in the blender...pre-blend

Post blend- yeah, the color isn't appetizing, but the taste isn't bad.
Adam would not be able to handle the bananas in the breakfast and snack drinks. But to be honest, they are one of the ingredients that I can really taste in the drinks and that's been kind of helpful because I really enjoy bananas! It definitely makes those drinks easier to tolerate.

The Green Monster, post blend...

My little soldiers all lined up and ready to go!
7:30 pm: I finished preparing all of my Day 3 drinks...I'll make the final drink at home, after work. I made my dinner drink and filled a LARGE tervis tumbler with ice water and then sat down to watch Harry Potter. Yes, I started another one...why not? I'm on kind of an HP kick...and it's been nice. They are enjoyable and easy to watch. Have I mentioned that the hubs is out of town? Yeah...he is, hence the weird errands and endless Harry Potter movies. If I cannot cook and enjoy a nice glass of wine...I must stay distracted!

9:00 pm: After a great night of sleep after Day 1, I decided I wanted to go to bed a little earlier. So at 9:00 I start filling the tub for my detox bath. Here is where the saga begins...

DISCLAIMER: I live in the South. Palmetto Bugs, aka big ass flying roaches, are kind of regular occurrence here. Do not judge me...a Palmetto Bug in the house is not a regular occurrence, but sometimes it happens. If you've never encountered a roach in your house...tell me your secrets...

So, I fill the tub. The lavender smells amazing and I'm starting to actually feel relaxed before even setting foot in the tub. I get in the tub, take a deep breath...I'm about to really relax...and then I see it...

WHAT....THE...HECK...I'm in the tub...trying to relax...what do I do...

Well, you can't just let him hang I jump out of the tub and proceed to chase the roach around the house...Yes, I'm in the buff...and yes, I'm dripping with water...but that roach has to die. 

Minutes later, the roach is dead and I'm back in the detox bath. I try to relax but to no avail...

10:10ish pm: I'm in the bed, at least 30 minutes later than I had hoped. I'm feeling good, but tired. Everything I've read about detoxes says that you'll really not have much energy during the detox. I completely believe that...because chasing that roach really took it out of me!

So far the detox has been kind of an easy and dare I say, gentle (I believe those of you who have done a detox probably know what I mean by this), detox. Aside from the fact that I love food and am missing it...I could probably do this again...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sneak Peek: Weekend Project

Amid the detox madness, I decided that I needed some projects to keep myself distracted so I don't think about food...

Our mailbox is just plain terrible. It is old, rusty and has large enough holes in the top, that when it rains, our mail gets wet....don't worry...I will post a picture...

To top off that fabulouness...the post is plastic, it is kind of crooked, and the numbers have all fallen off.. The top finial (if you can even call it that) is discolored...and the mailbox itself is not really even black anymore...

SO...this weekend...we're updating it!

New post

New post with a coat of primer

Get excited! Look for more photos of this weekend's project!

Detox: Day 1

Before you decide to stop reading my blog because all of the sudden I'm one of those foodies turned health nuts who has jumped on the Detox should know that I am a skeptic...and I'm still on the fence...AND foodies don't turn into health nuts...

You could say that this all started almost a year ago when I decided to finally go into my gym (where I have been a member for almost three years) and take them up on that whole "free consultation with a trainer" deal they offered me when I signed up. I won't go into the gory details, but it did not go well. The training session itself was that point, I was totally hooked...then came the consultation. During the consultation the asshole trainer I was talking with (not the trainer who did my workout) was rude, snide, and just plain mean. So...I left.

Since then, I've been trying to be more well-rounded in my workouts. I've been doing Body Pump, running, and doing the elliptical. Yeah, it's not well-rounded...

Fast-forward to just a few weeks ago...I learned that my new cute neighbor does training and wellness coaching as a sort of hobby/side job. SIDENOTE: Our new neighbors a great. They are young and friendly! (This makes them different from everyone else who lives on our street) We are really enjoying having them around! Back on track...I decided to talk with her a little bit about what I'm looking for (toned arms and abs, and slightly more trim legs and buns, yeah, I know...buns).

My meeting with her was GREAT! I told her I didn't really need a trainer, but I needed a fitness plan to help me figure out what to do when I go to the gym to get the results I'm looking for. She put together a fitness plan for me, along with some healthy, protein-rich recipes (good for building muscles!), and told me she recommended a detox.

So, here we are. I don't know how I feel about them. I'm not sure they work, but I'm also not sure that they don't. I didn't want to do something that required purchasing boxes upon boxes of supplements. And I didn't want to do something that didn't feel healthy. One of the options she sent over was the Dr. Oz 3-Day Detox (you can Google it...)

It's a lot of fruit and vegetables, a couple of weird things like coconut oil and ground flax seed. But it's mainly things you've heard of....pineapple, kale, raspberries, blueberries, almond butter, almond milk, etc. For three days, you drink 4 smoothie-like drinks a day that you make from ingredients like the ones listed above. Throughout the day you take a multivitamin (I take this already), a probiotic (that's the good stuff in yogurt!), and an Omega-3 (found in fish).

As you can tell by the title of this post, I decided to give it a shot and I wanted to blog about it and give you some "real girl" feed back. So here is Day 1.

6:00 am: I woke up, showered, and drank my detox drink, a cup of green tea with a tsp. of stevia and a slice of lemon. It was great...I love green tea and drink it on the regular.

7:00 am: After I got ready for work, I made my breakfast drink and then made my lunch and snack drinks to take with me to work. The breakfast drink was pretty good. It tasted kind of like blended up fruit with a little cereal mixed in (flax seed).

10:45ish am: I'm starting to feel hungry...but this is normal for me.

12:15 pm: I grab my lunch drink from the fridge and head out of the office to run errands. This drink is not as tasty as the first...and the texture is a little odd (blame it on the celery).

The Green Monster as I have decided to start calling it...
1:45 pm: I've been back at the office for at least half an hour...and I have just now finished the lunch drink. It is filling, has a weird texture, and the taste is just not my favorite.

4:45 pm: Starting to feel a little hungry, so I figure this is the perfect time for my snack drink. I definitely have a headache...but I'm positive it's from lack of caffeine. I normally drink one large cup of coffee a day that probably equals about two of the "cups" that are measured out on a pot of coffee. It's not a lot...but I can for sure tell that I haven't had any caffeine.

6:00 pm: Home from work, run a couple of errands, work on a little project for the weekend (sneak peek is coming...).

7:30 pm: I'm hungry and really lacking tons of energy. I make my dinner drink and lounge on the sofa watching the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (love the movies, the books, everything about Harry Potter...)
A smidge depressing, because you know this girl likes to eat...

9:00 pm: I clean up the kitchen and prepare my detox bath.

9:30 pm: I am sitting in the tub, literally sweating...I have no idea if it's because I'm warm, the detox bath is actually working and I'm like sweating out toxins, or if I'm just nervous from sitting still with nothing to do for 30 minutes...

9:45 pm: I'm all ready for bed. I crawl in, relax, and my body feels physically tired.

10:15ish pm: I'm fast asleep.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ireland 2013: Part 7

This last blog is going to cover all of our time in Dublin. We were there for two and a half days and I think it was plenty of time to see all of the major sights. The first thing we did upon arriving in Dublin, was to find and check into our hotel. We stayed at Number 31 and it was fabulous. It was for sure the most expensive hotel we stayed in throughout our entire trip. But it was a fantastic way to end our trip. The hotel itself is two buildings that are connected with a beautiful courtyard garden. The weather was nice enough in Dublin that they kept the doors between the buildings open so you could wander back and forth.

When we arrived, we were immediately offered tea or coffee and given a plate of delicious cookies to enjoy while we relaxed and they got our rooms ready for us. The decor was modern, but lush and cozy and extremely inviting. To be honest, it was hard to be convinced to leave the comfy sunken living room with the warm coffee to go to our rooms, but once we saw our rooms it was a different story!

Each room was absolutely stunning with warm colors, like eggplant, mustard, and dark green, velvet drapes and delicious knit throws. It was the perfect way to end our trip!

The foyer of the building in the hotel that housed all of the guest rooms. 

Beautiful chandelier. I'm sad that I didn't get more pictures of our beautiful
accommodations. You should check out their website...linked above!
We spent our first day wandering through St. Stephens Green and shopping on Grafton Street. Thanks to a co-worker of mine, Adam and I discovered our favorite store, Dubarry. We liked it so much that we ended up going there three times...and two of those visits were successful, if you know what I mean. I was able to walk away with a coat that I'm pretty sure I'll wear for the rest of my life...and Adam tells me that I WILL wear it for the rest of my life because that's how long it's going to take to get our money's worth! That said, I actually can't wait for winter...because I'm ready to break it out!

While in Dublin, we ate a lot of great food and saw a lot of great sights. We visiting the Book of Kells at Trinity College. The campus was beautiful and the library even more stunning.

Trinity College

Trinity College
We wandered in and out of churches as we wandered around the city. We were even able to hear a small orchestra practicing for a concert in one of the churches. It was a magical experience.

A trip to Ireland would not be complete with out a good Pub Crawl. So one night we participated in a Literary Pub Crawl that was not only informative, but also highly entertaining...not to mention, we got to enjoy a few drinks along the way!

We toured the Guinness Brewery and had a Guinness in their rooftop bar. The views of the city were magnificent...but we had to fight for a seat!

Sporting my new coat...yes, it was that cold!
As some of you might know, Adam is a HUGE fan of Jameson Irish we toured their distillery as well. Though the facility is much smaller than the Guinness Brewery, and despite the fact that I don't like whiskey...I thought this tour was great. We learned all about the process of making whiskey and learned about the differences between Scottish, Irish, and American Whiskeys. It was all very interesting and worth the wait!
Outside the Jameson Distillery.

Adam was trying to figure out a way to get this home...Jameson Chandelier!

Statue in St. Stephens Green

Another view of the beautiful St. Stephens Green

I really enjoyed walking through St. Stephens Green. It is a beautiful park filled with wonderful gardens and a pond that is home to ducks, geese, and swans. The weather warmed up later in the day when we were in Dublin and St. Stephens Green was packed with people soaking up the gorgeous sunny weather. If we had had more time, I could envision the perfect little picnic!

We were also able to enjoy a little market on our last full day in Dublin. They had wonderful cheese and vegetables and all types of cuisine. I enjoyed one of my all time favorite food stand staples, a Nutella crepe! It was warm and gooey and wonderful!

Olives at the market.

Fresh cheese...I wish we had markets like this at home!

A beautiful swan strutting his stuff for us in St. Stephens Green.
On our last night, we all went to Mass together in one of the beautiful churches sprinkled throughout Dublin. Afterwards, we celebrated our great trip coming to a close at SHEEHAN'S! This was very exciting...because hey, we could be related! We all walked away with full stomachs...and t-shirts!

Sheehan's was pretty popular!

Though we enjoyed the Guinness, we had to
revert back to our Italian favorite, Peroni!

Think this would fit in our suitcase???

After a great dinner, we walked back to our hotel through St. Stephens Green and saw a family of swans. These cute little babies were the best way to end our last evening in Dublin. I'll be honest, I took like 10 pictures of them! They were so cute!

All in all, our trip was perfect! We saw tons of sights, ate wonderful food, and enjoyed great company. And Adam and I have certainly been bitten by the travel bug...Where will we go next?!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ireland 2013: Part 6

Part 6 of our journey through Ireland was the start of wrapping up our tour of the countryside before landing for a few days in Dublin. We set out early that morning heading for the Cliffs of Moher. As I'm sure you have discovered by now, much of the sightseeing in Ireland is landscape related. This was probably the largest difference we found between this trip, and our trip to Italy last year.

Everything was absolutely stunning, and as green (if not greener) as it appears in all of the pictures. The sky was that bright and blue. It was beautiful and the Cliffs of Moher did not disappoint. We arrived mid-day at the Cliffs and found that the weather, though beautiful, was extremely windy and VERY cold! We bundled up and started our trek!

View from the road on the way to the cliffs.

Our first view of the Cliffs.

More cliffs

This picture sort of shows how windy things were. But to put it in perspective...
there were a few times when I thought it might pick me up and throw me over!
The Cliffs were quite a sight, and like most of the other sights we'd seen over the past few days (Skellig Michael...) there were very few safety precautions, aside from the typically "don't be stupid" speech. Though it is wonderful to see nature without ugly metal railings...the combination of the height, with the wind made me a little nervous. I did a pretty good job of steering clear of the edge!

A beautiful view of the cliffs and the blue water!

Cows...because they are EVERYWHERE.
We had a great tour of the Cliffs and then headed into the Visitor's Center for a nice hot lunch. Adam and I both got big bowls of Guinness Stew and it did not disappoint. I think I'll have to try my hand at making Guinness Stew this fall! It is exactly what it sounds like, a hearty beef stew made with Guinness, onions, carrots, and potatoes. It was perfect after freezing by the cliffs. After our lunch, we got back in the car and headed to Galway, our last stop before Dublin!

Galway was definitely the largest city we visited before Dublin. It had lots of shopping, great restaurants and a neat little river running through the city with the most beautiful swans floating along. Adam and I had a wonderful dinner date here before meeting up with the rest of the family at a pub! This was for sure our wildest night out...not that it was wild per se...but we had a great time! But you'll probably be able to tell from the pictures!

Musicians in the shopping area in Galway.

One of the many friendly swans, he did a great job posing for my picture!

Sampling a few brews at the pub!

Our very eager bartender.

Our two drivers for the trip (they were finished with the driving for the day, don't worry)
And as you can tell from the looks on their faces, they are having a good time!

Alli's friend. I can't remember where he said he was from...but he was friendly!
We had a great night out in Galway...and luckily the only thing on the agenda for the next day was to make our way to Dublin. That was good news because everyone needed a little more rest after our big night out!

Stay tuned for Dublin!