Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Where I've Been Lately - Phoenix and New Orleans

It's been a week, so I think it's probably about time for a life update. You know those weeks when everything flies by and you don't really know what day it is? That's how it's been for me, actually pretty much the past two weeks have just flown by. So many good times have been happened in the past week, I can't wait to tell everyone about them! I visited family, drove across the country, ran a half marathon, ate delicious food, and listened to amazing music! This blog is partially dedicated to my travel experiences, so here are my most recent adventures around the country (honestly). 

Phoenix, AZ

A little over a week ago, my family and I all met in Phoenix, AZ at my grandma's house. Although the trip was a little sad, we all had great times sharing memories about my grandpa. My family lives all over the United States (North Dakota, Colorado, California, Nevada, etc.) so it's always nice when we are all able to get together.

New Orleans, LA

A few months ago my mom, sister, and I all agreed to run a half marathon together. When we saw the Rock N' Roll Marathon was going to NOLA (where my sister lives) we decided that was the perfect place. Zach and I decided to make it a road trip since he had never been there 13 hours later...we arrived in the Big Easy.

We drove. The trip was 13 hours long. I know we sound crazy, but I honestly think the best trips are the ones that take the longest to get to. We drove down basically all of the southern states. North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

We ate...everything. Let's be real, half the reason anyone goes to New Orleans is for the food. Especially if you're a foodie like me. Here were some of my favorites from the weekend.

Baked P&J Oysters (don't mistake for PB&J...) at L√ľke on St. Charles.

Beignets from Cafe du Monde at Jackson Square. This is a MUST. 

Oyster and portobello sliders from District Donuts on Magazine Street. You also have to try the donuts (obviously). The beignet is amazing!

Enjoyed a delicious meal at Elizabeth's in the Bywater. 

We listened to great music.

Bacchanal Wine in the Bywater. My absolute favorite place we visited. It's a wine bar with a beautiful courtyard and jazz-type bands every night. We went on Sunday and had an amazing cheese plate and clams and mussels! 

Blue Nile on Frenchmen Street. Great place to listen to local musicians. This girl was soulful!

I've never jammed more than at this moment. This is a brass band on Frenchmen Street. Photo is a little blurry, but I thought it was the best portrayal of New Orleans. If you don't jam out to a band while you're there, you didn't fully experience the city. 

We half marathoned.

My sister, mom, and I at the Rock N' Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans!

Has anyone been to New Orleans or wanted to visit? What are your favorite spots? 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Travel Tips for a Nervous Traveler 1.0 - Perfect Packing List

* This will be my first installment of the "Travel Tips for a Nervous Traveler" series - stay tuned for more!

If you know me, you know how much I hate packing. I love traveling, but dread whenever I have to pack for a trip. There have definitely been times where I've been tempted to hire a professional packer (does that even exist?). In the end, I usually end up overpacking, throwing things in last minute that I might need, and I always end up forgetting something important. 

I know there are a lot of people that stress about packing for trips because they don't know what to pack, how the weather will be (I don't always trust the weather apps), will you need something formal, or will you exercise? Anyway, there's a million factors to play in to packing for a trip. So I've put together a simple list of my staples for any trip.

  • Your favorite pair of jeans/pants
  • Plain comfy tee
  • 1-2 dressier shirts (I usually go for a button down and blouse)
  • One pair of boots (that go with everything)
  • Flats or oxfords
  • Running shoes (when I bring them, I'm more inclined to actually run)
  • Nike running shorts - I usually sleep in them, but useful to have if I decide to run
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste (Currently using Tom's toothpaste)
  • Face wash - Received this in my recent Ipsy bag and love it
  • Contacts/Glasses
  • Makeup - I'm not a huge makeup person, but I don't go anywhere without mascara or chapstick (right now I am loving Benefit's mascara "They're Real")
  • Phone and charger - this is a given, but you don't know how many times I forget my charger!
  • A good book - I just finished Amy Poehler's "Yes Please"
  • Headphones 
  • Paper and pen for doodling - I think on the airplane is the best time to jot down things, I'm always so productive!
  • Snack - I always bring trail mix or something to hold me over and the airport is so expensive!
  • Purse and wallet (don't forget your ID!)
  • Plane ticket!

I'm sorry this post is coming out kind of late, I had a crisis yesterday with my laptop charger. But I'm currently in Phoenix, Arizona at my grandma's house for the weekend. I can say, this list definitely helped me (also, maybe because I wrote a blog about it too). Does anyone have any packing essentials for traveling? 

P.S. I would also love some fun places to see while I'm in Phoenix! Leave a comment if you have recommendations. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

First Juicing Experience

Before moving to Raleigh, my dad gave me a juicer that my parents weren't really using at home. Sidenote: my dad loves buying new appliances for the kitchen, so I probably have any and all kitchen gadgets one would need. Honestly, I was a little intimidated by "juicing" because of all the negative things I've heard (cost, mess, etc.) so I hadn't actually used it until recently.

Over the weekend, Zach and I broke out the juicer for the first time and I absolutely loved it. Our first juice we made was a green juice, so this time we tried an orange juice that I thought would be good to bring to work in the mornings. It was much easier than I expected and such a quick and easy clean up!

Carrot Pineapple Ginger Orange Juice - Makes enough for 2 people

What you'll need:

  • Juicer
  • 4 navel oranges
  • 3/4 pineapple
  • 4 large carrots
  • 1-1.5 large pieces of ginger (depending on how much you like ginger)
  • Lots of luvvv 

Step 1: Collect all ingredients for juice. Peel orange, chop pineapple in small pieces and cut off the skin of the pineapple. 

Step 2: Put ginger into the juicer first so that the rest of the ingredients will help juice the remainder of the ginger pieces stuck in the juicer. *TIP: If you have this same juicer, make sure you hold the top down...otherwise you'll have a ginger-filled kitchen in about 4 seconds...we learned this the hard way.

Step 3: Put the rest of the ingredients in the juicer (pineapple, orange, and carrots).

Step 4: Store in an air tight container (I used a medium sized mason jar) and enjoy!

Has anyone else tried juicing? What are some of your favorite types of juices?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

5 Step Flourless PB&J Cookies

Do you ever have that craving after dinner when you want something sweet? But, wait...who ate the last piece of dark chocolate? Then, you contemplate running to the grocery store to grab a pint of Ben & Jerry's Phish Food. Yes, we have all had these cravings. Before you go and grab your keys to run to the store, I have something you might want to try first. Five step flourless peanut butter and jelly cookies.

I came upon this recipe on multiple blogs, but ended up using one of my favorite baking blogs, Joy of Baking, for the recipe. I chose it because it was short and there was only four necessary ingredients (that I actually already had in my kitchen). 

What you'll need:
  • All Natural (Chunky or Smooth) Peanut Butter 
  • Brown and white sugars
  • Baking soda
  • Egg
  • Jelly (optional, but highly recommended)
See, I told you this would be easy! 

1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking sheet with butter.

2. Mix together 1 cup of peanut butter with 1 cup sugars (1/2 cup brown, 1/2 cup white). Mix for about 2 minutes until combined.

3. Add 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 egg to mixture. Mix for another 2 minutes.

4. Roll the cookies into walnut sized balls and place on baking sheet, then using a fork, flatten the cookies. If making PB&J version, use a spoon to create a small crater in the middle of the cookie and add a tiny spoonful of jelly.

5. Bake cookies for about 10 minutes, or until brown.

6. Let cool and enjoy! 

Do you have any simple dessert recipes?