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Quotes and Coffee

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Painted Skies of Montenegro

 I am a dreamer, both in darkness and in light

With eyes wide open, my own story I write

To live vivid and bold like the skies above me

Soar as profoundly as the mountains that surround me

And immerse in the beauty of nature’s endless treasures

Every day without measure


Travel Destination: Kotor, Montenegro


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IMG_6984I don’t think I’ve truthfully encountered scenery like that of Kotor, Montenegro. It was like an over sized canvas stretched across the sky and someone hand-painted every detail. We spent the entire day just exploring the city limits. Each and every inch was breathtaking and if you’re up for a climb, you’ll get quite the view from the top of Kotor’s Castle.

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Exploring the French Riviera

It’s amazing what you can discover over a glass of iced coffee while sitting in a cafe in the French Riviera.

For those of you who don’t know, I grew up spending my summer in the 1000 Islands. Every year I remember French Festival weekend. My parents would get up early and sneak out while my brother and I were still sleeping to bring home fresh pastries for breakfast. I had always hoped to make it to France someday for an authentic experience.

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Villefranche-sur-Mer

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Villefranche-sur-Mer

 

The first stop on our Mediterranean cruise was France! We anchored in Villefranche-sur-Mer which is a day of gorgeous adventure in itself. Jessica and I climbed way too many stairs while huffing and puffing our way to a Pâtisserie where I ordered my favorite French pastry, a napoleon. Then we snuck into a cute little coffee shop where I sat sipping an iced coffee while chatting with the locals. This is where we learned the inside scoop of making the most of our day.

It turns out the train station is just a 5 minute walk from where we anchored. Our coffee shop tour guide told us there were 3 must see places only a train ride away: Monaco, Nice and Antibes. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time for all 3, but we were able to hop on the train to Monaco and then Nice for about 10 Euro.

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Monaco

Monaco

Monaco

Everything about the French Riviera was breathtaking. The architecture was beyond gorgeous and so were the views. The Villefranche-sur-Mer town itself was incredibly charming and well worth the leg workout the 9 miles of stairs and hills gave us.

For this stop in particular I recommend doing your own thing instead of an excursion only because you can do so much more for relatively cheap. I believe the excursion we were looking at was $70 for a bus to take us to Nice and Cannes. The train route was pretty easy to understand and allows you to do more for less.

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Royal Caribbean Cruise Recap

I am back on land from an AMAZING 12 day Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas. We set sail out of Barcelona and took an overnight flight with United. They had USB ports to charge your phone and TV’s at each seat so I watched quite a few movies to help pass the time.

Jessica and I got incredibly lucky by having our airline rows to ourselves, so we were able to lay down and get a few hours of sleep. I didn’t end up buying a sleep mask, but I’ll tell ya if I take a long flight again, I would absolutely get one.

We arrived in Barcelona at around 7:55am. At the airport we dropped our luggage off with Bags & Go. I’m not going to lie, we were very very nervous about leaving our bags with them, but they had great reviews. They take your luggage directly to the cruise ship so we weren’t going to see it again for another 10 or so hours. Since we had the whole day to explore Barcelona though we didn’t want to have to roll our luggage along everywhere.

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BARCELONA

For about 6 Euros we hopped on the Aerobus from the airport for a 20 minute ride to city center. From there we walked over 10 miles, sipped some fresh squeezed orange juice in a local cafe and eyed the amazing architecture of things like the Sagrada Família Basilica and Casa Mila. Around 4pm we made our way to the cruise port. The check in process was so easy and very organized. It took less than 10 minutes to get onto the boat and into our cabin where we were still crossing our fingers our baggage would follow. 

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Barcelona 2This was my 3rd Royal Caribbean Cruise and again, I really enjoyed it. Our captain was awesome at keeping us informed and even participating in nightly events to meet guests. With activities such as beach volleyball, rock climbing, a comedy show, movies, cake decorating, dance lessons and more, there was never a dull moment.

The first night on the ship is the only night we ate in the dining room. Every other meal we ate at the Windjammer which is a buffet. The dining room food was great, but it was just nice to be able to eat whenever we wanted and not have to make a reservation. It was also nice not to have to choose off a menu. Options at the Windjammer ranged from an omelet station to a crepe bar and a sandwich station to make your own pasta. We did NOT go hungry. Oh, and did I mention the self-serve ice cream station at the pool? That was a daily stop for me.

Jessica and I enjoyed ourselves so much, we were already looking for our next cruise before we even got off the ship. And for those of you wondering, our luggage made it to our cabin safe and sound!

Are you thinking of taking a cruise? Where do you want to go? What questions do you have? Comment below!

And stay tuned next week for a recap of our first stop. Can you guess where? 

Nice

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Surviving Long Nights and Red Eye Flights

The countdown has begun. Jessica and I booked our annual girls trip months in advance and it’s crazy to think there’s less than one week left until we’re sailing the Mediterranean! She’s way more worldly than I am, so although I’m a tad bit anxious to travel into the unfamiliar, I’m beyond excited for the experience.

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My checklist is slowly shrinking, but my carry on is filling up. With an 8 hour overnight flight to Barcelona, I want to make sure I have everything I need to make it through. My longest direct flight was about 6 hours from New York to California and even though it wasn’t too bad watching the in flight movies, I certainly could’ve prepared a little better. So, this time I did my research and I’ve detailed all the goodies in my carry on.

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Refillable Water Bottle

It’s important to stay hydrated during travel and I think having a water bottle on hand may help remind me to drink up. I’m going to fill it up at the airport before I board and top it off during in flight beverage service.

Kindle and Notebook

I’m bringing one for a little inspiration and the other to hopefully spill more of my novel out between the covers of my journal. I figured the plane is really the perfect place to write. There really isn’t room for many distractions.

Netflix

My last flight to Myrtle Beach, I was on a Heartland addiction and I figured out that you can actually download some shows from Netflix to watch offline. You will have to download them prior to takeoff though as you do need internet access to do so.

Portable Charger

Another really important tool I have on hand is a portable phone charger. Not all airlines have outlets, so I want to be prepared. Watching Netflix may help pass the time, but it will also drains my battery.

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Pashmina

I read somewhere online to make sure I pack a Pashmina. This wasn’t even on my radar, but I think it’s genius. Not only can the pashmina be used as a blanket if I get chilly, but I can also twist it and place around my neck for a pillow. On top of that, I also watched some YouTube videos of ways to wear them while on the ship. I bought 2 of them off Amazon and am ready to put them to use.

Snacks

I pretty much eat every 2 hours, so 8 hours on a plane with no food would make this girl hangry. That’s why I plan on packing some granola bars, a banana, crackers and nut packets for when my stomach starts growling.

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Beauty Products

Lots of travel bloggers have talked about how important it is to stick with your nighttime routine while on an overnight flight. I don’t want my skin to freak out, so I packed a few of my nighttime items. Along with my toothpaste and toothbrush, I have my face wash, face mask and lavender face mist for when it’s time to sleep.

I also have eye mask on my list, but haven’t actually bought one yet. What do you guys think? Should I or shouldn’t I?

Have you ever flown on a red eye? What are your favorite carry on must haves? 

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more travel tips and recaps!

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3 Ways to Combat Dry Skin

Apparently winter decided it wasn’t ready to leave yet as it’s April 16 and snowing in Nashville today. With the cold weather that has been creeping back in comes dry skin. So today I thought I’d talk a little bit about 3 of my favorite ways to lock in moisture until the real southern spring weather arrives.


 

Brown Sugar Lip Scrub

The wind has been no joke here in Nashville. Adding that into the cold weather and my lips are not happy. Every now and then they need a little pampering so I exfoliate and revive them with a homemade sugar scrub.

It’s fast and easy and can either be done during your morning routine or prior to bedtime. I don’t usually make a lot at a time. Just enough for a one time use, but you certainly can make more to store in a container.

Here’s what you’ll need: 
1 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 TBSP Brown Sugar
1-2 Drops of Vanilla

In a small container mix all 3 ingredients together until all liquid is absorbed. Then with your finger or q-tip, scoop out a dime sized amount and brush in a circular motion across your lips for about 30 seconds. Leave on for another minute or so and then rinse off.

Do this about once a week to keep your chapped lips under control!


Coconut Oil Body Butter

My friend Devin introduced me to homemade body butter last winter. She said it was pretty easy to make and she was right. It’s just 3 ingredients!

1 Cup Shea Butter
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
30 Drops Essential Oils - I’ve used both lemon and cucumber melon

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To mix all ingredients I used my KitchenAid Mixer. Add shea butter first and mix on medium speed until fluffy. Then, add coconut oil and mix until well blended. Some blogs melt their coconut oil first. I just make sure it’s room temperature.

Once mixture is fluffy and well blended, continue to mix on low speed while adding drops of your essential oil until lightly fragrant.

That’s it! So easy! 

I store my body butter in a tightly seeled mason jar and use daily.


Honey Face Mask

The easiest moisturizing face mask you ever did see!

All you need is:
1 TBSP honey
2-3 drops of fresh lemon juice

Mix 1 TBSP of honey in a small dish with lemon juice. I usually do about 2-3 drops of lemon. Add drops of lemon in slowly because once you add too much, it’s hard to get it back to a consistency that won’t run off your face. Once mixture is well combined, smooth over face and leave on about 10-15 minutes. Rinse with luke warm water.

For sensative skin, leave out the lemon. It can sting a little.

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Hanging with Dolly at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort!

I got to spend some time at Dolly’s DreamMore Resort in Pigeon Forge, TN and I absolutely loved it! How cute are those bunk beds in the hotel room? I couldn’t resist. From the moment I pulled in, the customer service was amazing.

The concierge took my bags from the car and had them to my room in maybe 10 minutes. After that I took a little self-guided tour around the resort. It has its own spa, an indoor and outdoor pool, game room, fitness center and dining that offers both a breakfast and dinner buffet.

My favorite part was the grab and go cafe that served up Starbucks!

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If you have little ones in tow, this is such as awesome place to be. With nightly bedtime stories and s’mores making by the fire pit, they will have a blast!

The resort also has free trolley rides to Dollywood and Splash Country which is right next door!

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If you prefer to do a little more adulting, the resort is only a few miles away from the Rocky Top Wine Trail. There are 5 wineries within 12 miles of each other with about 70, yes you read that right, 70 wines to try!

From the resort, it only took me about 10 minutes to get to Gatlinburg. Walking their downtown area is one of my favorite things to do when I visit.

If you make it there you have to try out Anakeesta! I wasn’t able to this trip, but it looks so cool with a sky lift over the mountains, zip lines, canopy walks and a mountain village.

How cool is it that we have our own vacation destination tucked right in the mountains of east Tennessee?

This week’s motivation quotes come from Dolly herself.  These were on the wall in the hallway on the way to my room and I just loved them!

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Walking in Memphis

Sometimes all it takes to get a little inspiration is walking the same paths as “The King.” I’ve always wanted to go to Memphis. It took me awhile, but I finally got there! We stopped on our way to Little Rock and then decided to stay the night in Memphis on the way home.

We stayed at Hotel Napolean, which I highly recommend. The room was so nice and walking distance from Beale Street. Valet made it easy to get in and out and they even had free coffee and cappuccinos in the lobby!

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We stopped by Graceland on the way to Little Rock. We didn’t have enough time to tour, but they have so much there to see. If you’re an Elvis fan, definitely check it out. Sadly, Sam and I found out they closed the Heartbreak Hotel. They built a brand new one across the street called, The Guest House.

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I can’t really explain how amazing it was to finally get to Sun Records. To hear the stories of Elvis, Johnny Cash and more was kind of what I needed. It was a simple reminder what happens when ordinary people with dreams don’t give up.

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Of course during our night stay we hit up Beale Street! All Sam wanted after his weekend of running was barbeque and blues. O’Sullivans had this super cool outdoor area that I would love to go back to in the summer time. They also have Wet Willies in Memphis, which of course made me nostalgic for Charlotte so Sam and I couldn’t leave without stopping there for a frozen drink.

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Good music, good food, good drinks and even better company. It was a great trip and I definitely can’t wait to go back!

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Sparkling Lavender Lemonade Recipe

Sam knows how much I’m all about trying unique restaurants when we go somewhere new. The day before he ran the Little Rock marathon we had lunch at a cute cafe called The Root. I ordered a sparkling lavender lemonade and when I got home I was determined to figure out how to make it.

I did a little research and then ventured down to the Savory Spice Shop in Franklin to pick up some lavender. My replica recipe was pretty spot on so I’m sharing if you’re looking for a fun new drink idea. I can picture me making many of these for sunny summer days while writing by the pool.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice (juice from about 1 and 1/2 lemons)
  • 1-2 tsp of lavender
  • 3/4 cup carbonated water (I used my soda stream, but I think club soda would work well too)

Directions

  • In a small sauce pan over medium heat bring 1/4 cup water, honey and lavender to a boil.
  • Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Add lemon juice to mixture and stir.
  • Pour mixture through stainer into a glass over ice and then add 3/4 cup carbonated water.
  • Stir and sip!

*If you want a stronger lavender taste, let the boiled mixture cool for a longer period of time, 1-2 hours. 

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