My Top Travel Items

(This post may contain affiliate links. For details read the Disclosures Page)

Hello! And it is off to Iceland we go! Today we are off on what turned out to be our Babymoon. We booked the trip prior to knowing our little guy was on his way; but what better way to celebrate his impending arrival but with another international trip? As I’m packed and we are off, I figured why not put together a list of my favorite travel items?!

First, my top packing tip: the rolling method! I’m able to fit so much more in my suitcase, which is a lifesaver to this over packer. Now I know over packing isn’t the best tip, but you’d never guess how much I fit in that suitcase with the rolling method.  Also, in this case, my overpacking may be helpful since the weather calls for layers. The rolling method is life changing. Try it!

Now for my Top Travel Items:

  1. Reading material: Lately traveling is the only time I’m able to enjoy a good read. Whether you are killing time on the plane, in the airport, enjoying a cafe or a beachside retreat; a book is a must. I guess I’m old school because I still prefer an actual book to my kindle. My latest read was We Were The Lucky Ones …you can pick it up here:

2. DSLR Camera: While I am no professional photographer by any stretch of the imagination, I still love to play around with my Canon EOS. I enjoy playing around with it and I get better shots than using my phone. Here is the one I use.

3. A Tripod: A tripod is key for any solo traveler wanting to get themselves in a few shots. Set that timer mode and go! It also helps eliminate the shake or blur from photos. Again no professional over here but I find it useful. I use a lightweight, adjustable, easy to pack one like this one.

4. Shoe bags: Have you ever used shoe bags in your suitcase? The husband introduced me to these and I’m never going back. For trips that involve sand, mud, rain or snow, I can zip up my shoes in a separate compartment, pack on top of everything else and keep the muck from getting all over my clothes. I’m all in on these. Plus since I’ve already saved room in my suitcase with the rolling method; these truly add no more bulk at all. We use ones similar to these.

5. Make up: This lipstick. While I don’t normally wear a ton of make up while traveling, a good lip color does wonders. It just makes me feel more put together even when I’m totally not. Even if this is all I manage to swipe on in the morning, I still look awake and ready to explore.  Find it here!

6. Facial Moisturizer. Planes, travel, different water and diets all dry out my skin. When I’m traveling I need an intense moisturizer. My favorite is Kiehls. Nothing keeps my face from drying out quite like it. I have no doubt it will hold up to the wind, rain and potential snow we will see in Iceland. Grab it here:

7. Blanket Scarf: A cozy wrap is a must-pack for me. I freeze on airplanes and miss the days of blankets for all! This also comes in handy if the weather in your destination is cooler than expected; or if the Airbnb is lacking in blankets. A good neutral can be paired with many an outfit. Always keeping those layers in mind 😉

 

What are your top travel items? I’ve got more; just ask! 

 

Wedding Planning Tips

(This post may contain affiliate links. For details read the Disclosures Page)

On a park bench in Bruges, Belgium, my life forever changed. My now husband shocked the heck out of me with a beautiful, simple proposal. There I was thinking he was trying to tell me how much he enjoyed traveling. But at that moment, what he was really getting at was, “Will you marry me”?

The next year was consumed with wedding planning. Wedding planning can be fun but overwhelming at the same time and then not so fun at all. With blogs on blogs of tips, Pinterest and Pinterest perfect weddings, how do you decide on anything? How will you make it reflective of the two of you? Below are some of my favorite unique tips we discovered during our planning process.

(Pin me for later!)

1) Go with your gut. What are you naturally drawn to? Trust it. When you find it, stop looking. Questioning and comparing your decision over and over again will be the thief of the joy you initially found in that decision. If you love it and think its beautiful then go with it!

2) Weddings can be as expensive as you make them. Look for deals and decide where you want to splurge and where you want to save. After looking at wedding bands for my husband in multiple brick and mortar jewelry stores and balking at the costs for a simple, thick, gold classic band; I turned somewhere else. The internet! Blue Nile has so much information on their website on how and what to buy. I felt I knew what I was purchasing and saving some money at the same time. Turns out the husband also turned to Blue Nile for my wedding gift; we are repeat customers!

3) Invite Suites: who knew paper could be so expensive or the options so endless?! In order to save here and have a more personalized experience, I found a friend who was starting her calligraphy business. She had created an invitation suite for someone else and it looked great. I paid her a fee for the digital file and design and then researched local printing companies. Another option is to use Etsy! The same concept; have a suite designed for you and use a local printer. Just click here to head over to Etsy and search the many options for invite suites.

4) One of the most important things to us for our wedding day was that we enjoy it! I know that I am too detail oriented and too much of a planner to allow myself to relax on the actual day; which is why I needed someone to step into my shoes and take charge of the overall management. We didn’t want a family member or a friend essentially working all day and not enjoying themselves; so a wedding day coordinator was a must for us. Look around your area; there are many different packages available that can fit your budget. We used Rosetree Events in Minneapolis and I cannot say enough good things. I didn’t worry about a thing and was able to enjoy every moment. Truly one of the best decisions we made.

5) Make it fun! Yes there are a lot of moving parts and not everything during planning is “fun” but it can be! For example, we wanted donuts instead of cake for dessert. So on the weekends we would go on donut hunts… test out different shops and do a little tasting on our own. Or as a couple we never had a song… so to pick out the first dance song we made appetizers and cocktails and listened to lists and lists of songs. An evening of food, drinks, and music… what could be better?

Hopefully, these tips help your planning.

What is your favorite wedding planning tip? What did you do to make your day reflective of you?

Back to Blogging 2018

Hello friends! It’s been some time since words hit this white space. A lot has changed. You won’t find any more comedy about bad dates. Though you can re-read and reminisce here. And here.

Instead, you may find the joys, laughs, and lessons of marriage.

Because this happened:

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You will still find delectable bites and drinks; perhaps an occasional recipe or two. The love of food doesn’t fade.

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In about five months you may also catch tips and tricks for the new mom or mom to be.

Because this also happened:

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What does remain unwavering is the love of travel and joy of writing. With trips to Paris, Amsterdam, Bruges, and the Philippines; we’ve got a lot to catch up on!

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Ready to join me again? Or for the very first time? 🙂

Nutmeg’s Spreads: My New Favorite Snack that Gives Back

Farmers markets are my jam. I could spend every weekend perusing each vendor. I want to learn about the products, those new cookies and that bundle of flowers.

When the season is right, I stock up on ALL the tomatoes I can get my hands on. I’m always walking out with two or more bundles of flowers. At the Minneapolis Farmers Market you just cannot get me away from the pork egg rolls, omg yum!

But the last time I went to the Linden Hills farmers market; I may have just found my new go to every day snack. Like I need a new jar of this already. I’ve licked that thing clean.

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Have you had Nutmeg’s Spreads yet!? If not, introduce your life to the best peanut, almond and cashew butter. Not only is this my favorite almond butter, but every time you’re eating this delectable snack, you’re giving back! Nutmeg’s exists to provide financial resources to nonprofits in Kenya. So every time you’re snacking.. you are actually spreading the love.

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During the time I spent sampling each; I met multiple repeat customers. They either told me or I overheard; we just cannot keep this in our fridge. Our kids/we/me keep eating it!

So its delicious and you’re spreading the love. What more could you want? Well an added bonus is that Billy and Megan, the owners are so welcoming and informative. They’re mission driven and full of jokes. The company reflects them and is named after them, Megan (Meg) and Billy (he’s the nut ;)).

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This weekend you can find them Saturday at the Northeast Farmers Market and Sunday back at Linden Hills. Stop by, say hi and try those spreads!

How to Staycation: AC Hotel Bloomington

Growing up I moved ten times before high school. Ten! When your family moves that much it is inevitable that you will live or spend significant time in hotels. I look forward to hotel stays, heck I even crave going to a hotel just to relax. It feels like coming home.

These days I am most certainly not moving around as much but I still enjoy a good staycation. In fact after last weekend I’m pretty sure Staycations will happen for me more often. I’m getting them on the calendar 🙂

There is no better place than the AC Hotel Bloomington Mall of America to kick off your staycation tradition or to book for your next trip to the Twin Cities. With its proximity to the Mall of America, a shopping weekend could not be easier. It was the perfect excuse for me to pop in to the new Zara and do a little wardrobe updating.

From the minute you walk in the lounge, the entrance is enticing. The signature scent embraces you. All of the natural lighting makes the lounge a comfortable space to hang out, relax or to get some work done. The modern clean lines remind you of Europe yet the art is local and gives you that Minnesota feel at the same time.

 

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After all that tiresome wardrobe updating at the MOA, nothing could be more refreshing than one or two of the hotel’s signature cocktails.

AC Hotel Bar

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Cocktails require accompaniments and the AC’s tapas style lounge menu will absolutely do!

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After an evening of signature cocktails and tapas, getting out of that heavenly king sized bed was not on the top of my to do list. I could have stayed cozy in there all morning!

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But alas I had to… a European breakfast was calling my name! I mean they even have a machine fresh cutting prosciutto for you each morning. How do I get one of these in my house?!

 

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I was also pretty impressed with the help yourself breakfast drink selections. Iced coffee and soy milk, yes please!

Now if this doesn’t look like the perfect little breakfast plate.. 🙂

AC Hotel Breakfast

Signature scents, cocktails, tapas and beds you don’t want to get out of.. what more could you want in your staycation?

Thank you AC Hotel Bloomington MOA; I had a wonderful stay!

(Disclaimer: A complimentary stay was provided in partnership with this post)

Pho me. Stat.

It was a snowy night…

A combination of the heat pump not working… slash in the midst of repairs…

A wanderlust filled heart…

An ache for vacations past…. And a craving for those little plastic chairs and tables we so delicately perched over… slurping our broth and noodles.. allowing drops to fling this way and that.

Not a care in the world for where those drops ended up.  Just a need to demolish this concoction. The salty, spicy and flagrant bowl of warmth.

I also had free beef soup bones in need of using…

SO I MADE HOMEMADE PHO!!

Php Toppings

I LOOSELY based it off of this recipe:

I excluded what I did not have and let the broth simmer for over 9 hours…

Now it will never compare to those mornings in Hanoi we spent hunched over our bowls.. But this will do. This will more than do!

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What is your favorite Pho recipe?

Joys of Fall….

Remember those blanks in the calendar I once professed my love and excitement for?

Well those blanks somehow dwindled…. were too few cherished evenings.  In their place have been the joys of fall.

Joys of fall…. something I don’t normally say.

I mean.. I know what comes after fall in Minnesota. What those tumbling leaves mean. Those fire red leaves, flashing at me to book my beach vacation now!

Fall to me means winter is coming….

But this year something is different. I’m taking in all the fall activities without that grain of salt or nagging feeling of “I know you’re coming snow….”

Like Fall Funday, which friend Kbail plans every year.  This year a tour of breweries and “hop off the light rail spots.”

Like Bang Brewery.

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At Bang Brewery you can apparently find men posing in the door way…. who wouldn’t want to go there 🙂

Joking.

Like all the plaid you can wear required.

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Post Fall Funday, do you know what is required?

Um… Bacon.

Did you know all the things you can do with bacon? Or the types or meals you can add bacon to? (psst even vegan bacon :))

Like this Praline Bacon from Heyday!!

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When fall comes around, I’m over here throwing bacon in and on everything… like salads, pastas and my brussel sprouts. For other ways to use bacon, check out this article

Do you have a favorite fall ingredient?

AND Are you out there enjoying all Fall has to offer? If not, get to it!

Snow is coming…. shhhhh 🙂

A Little Sip n Flow

Alright, one cool weekend and everyone is all “Where’s my comfy sweater and PSL latte?”

I’m over here soaking up the sun and the mornings where I can still take the dog out in barely there layers…. 🙂

I’m not yet ready for fall and am not one who invites it in so soon.

I’m the one praying for 70 degree October days and keeping my boots and sweaters at bay…. (for as long as I can!)

I will wear open toe booties until the first snow falls..

So…

Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy the rest of summer!

1) Yoga at the brewery! How could you beat a morning flow session and a cool environment to get your sweat sesh on?

2) Slow Saturday mornings and brunch at home..

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3) Sipping my iced coffee with Almond Breeze Almond Coconut milk… I’m a true “iced-coffeer”, you know the kind that prefers iced to hot coffee, so when Blue Diamond sent this to sample, I was all about my iced lattes! (I will drink iced even when it snows!) Call me crazy 🙂

Have you tried their Almond Breeze Almond Coconut milk?

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4) Summer BLT Salads, because, tomato season, hello!IMG_3535

5) Cherishing those lingering cabin days..

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So while some may be wishing for fall, you can find me in the city, sipping my iced almond coconut milk latte, begging summer to stay and participating in a little yoga flow 🙂

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk

Pizza “Farmin”

Have you been to a pizza farm?

If not, you are missing out.

Rolling fields, green pastures, farm to table ingredients (quite literally), scenic dining, traipsing through fields. All the many experiences of a pizza farm.

And did I mention… Pizza.

Apparently these places have been around for quite some time. A hidden gem and secret to many. Until quite recently most people I knew had never heard of one.  There were a handful of people I talked to, who had any clue what I was referring to.

Thankfully, the secret has been exposed. The crowds are headed out of the city and onto the farm.

Checking out a pizza farm has been on my list for quite some time. I just needed the perfect excuse.  And D’s birthday pizza farm wish was exactly what it took to get me there. One only turns 29 once, and if a pizza farm is what she wants, well of course that is what she is going to get!

Off we went to check out A to Z Produce and Bakery.

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I think I’ll require D to do all my table settings from now on 🙂

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Look appealing? You should check it out 🙂

Patio Obsession

As soon as I can take the dog outside, minus a coat, my patio obsession begins. This obsession is real, I’ve talked about it before, here.

When do they open? How early do they open? How many are within walking distance?

How can I decorate my patio? Where can I find that perfect outdoor rug? One with color and pattern and all the feel of spring.

I’ve been pinning patio inspiration for months. Just waiting for those sales to spring up!

I have finally acquired almost all of my new patio pieces. A side table or so may still be on their way… But an almost complete and perfect patio sits waiting to  greet our Minnesota summer.

Not much can add to my perfect patio, except the perfect snack! A simple cheese plate, enhanced by Blue Diamond Nut Thins. Have you tried these guys ? I had not previously, and they are delish! The perfect accompaniment to a wedge of double cream brie 😉

I can’t lie, I even had them for breakfast the other morning…..

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Side note: Bets on whether or not I ate that entire wedge by myself…?

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Nut Thins.