A Note From the Road

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Hi all! We’re on the road just outside of Richmond, Virginia at the moment. We stopped in the DC area last night and are headed to Raleigh today. Taking our time, soaking it these gorgeous temps and sunshine, and singing way too loudly in the car, windows rolled all the way down. Zooey is loving it all.

Just popping in to let y’all know I’m over on Mamages today. I had a ton of fun doing this interview win Bri! Thanks for having me, lady!

Cheers, my friends, to Friday, Memorial Day weekend, and living fully alive. Have a beautiful one!

Moving Up

Hello fellow bloggers and readers!

I just wanted to let you all know that over the next few days, I will be switching Safaris and Sunsets over to a self-hosted domain, so hang in there with me over lack of posts this week. I apologize in advance, but please wish me luck in this exciting endeavor! I can’t wait to take advantage of all the perks of self-hosting. I hope to be back to regular blogging by the end of this week, but no promises!

Xo! Enjoy your Tuesday everyone!

Beach Day & Buried Treasure

Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day here in Connecticut. The sun was shining, there was a light breeze and the temperature was just right. We decided to take full advantage and adventure about 30 minutes south to the Connecticut shore along Long Island Sound. As a girl who loves her ocean and grew up boating in and around the Sound, the snowy winter had made me miss that salty air scent and warm sea breeze. Since reading a few months back about the neat legends of Charles Island and Captain Kidd’s 1699 buried treasure, I’ve been patiently waiting for the snow to melt and the thermometers to rise to spend a day down at Silver Sands State Park.

This place is definitely going to become one of our favorite and frequented spots. Since moving a bit farther south a few months back, the commute was perfect. There is no fee for parking or entrance to the beautiful state park, and I love how laid back and uncramped the atmosphere was. When the tide goes out, the sandbars in the sound are perfect for refreshing walks. We even ventured out all the way to Charles Island when the sandbar made its way to the water’s surface. {Warning though, I’ve read that if the sandbar is not completely above water, it can be dangerous to walk to the island}.

Despite some sunburn, we had a perfect little day. Since there is no concession stand {which I sort of enjoyed}, we stopped before in the picturesque Milford center at a great deli for sandwiches and fruit salad {a beach essential in my book}!

I captured some neat Instagram photos. {Follow me to check out more}.

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Rail Travel // Russia

English: Trans-Siberian railway at Nazivaevska...

Trans-Siberian railway at Nazivaevskaya, near Omsk, Siberia, Russia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Metal Truss Railroad Bridge (Kama Riv...

Metal Truss Railroad Bridge (Kama River, near Perm city). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have this vision in my head of traveling throughout Europe via railroad, stopping every morning in new cities, spending the days exploring every corner of these new places and the nights whipping through the countryside aboard a luxury railcar. There’s something dignifying and yet very down-to-earth about rail travel. Having lived in Bulgaria where traveling by rail was not presented to me as an appealing option, I never envisioned a country so similar in culture and history to be home to the what many classify as the world’s greatest railway journey. Traveling aboard the Golden Eagle Private Train on the Trans-Siberian Railway sends you some 6,000 miles, one-third of the way around the world through some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth. Now this is train travel better than I could ever imagine, and seems like nothing less than a fabulous way to see the vast land of Russia, the largest country in the world.

Map of the Trans-Siberian railway Quelle: selb...

Map of the Trans-Siberian railway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our Outdoor Garden

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When renting a home, finding your own outdoor space is pretty rare, so we were so happy to discover the private deck off of our new apartment. We’re so proud of the how we’ve transformed the area and made it our own space. We began completely plantless, but after finding an awesome deal for a variety of vegetable and flower seeds and a set of ten pots for $30 at a tag sale, our growing adventures began. A few weeks and a couple of additions later, we’ve managed to create a relaxing and appealing outdoor oasis that we absolutely love! Our latest purchase is a lemon tree. It has yet to produce any fruit, but {hopefully} that will come with time.

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Other than a beautiful array of many types of flowers, we are also growing cantelope, eggplant, lettuce, green beans, spinach, peppers, basil, cilantro, lemongrass, lemons.

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Our plants are still in the baby stages. One smart step slipped our minds when planting seeds: labeling the pots. Once they mature and we figure out what we’re growing, I’d love to get crafty and make labels like these using vintage forks.

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Another feature I love about our little garden is the variety of pot styles. We decided to use what we could find. Two of my favorites are these wood crates we found laying around H’s parent’s house. I love the rustic, natural look they give.

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Wish us luck on our growing adventures! And remember, we did all of that on a seven by ten foot deck, with room for a grill and patio set! Proof you don’t need to own a piece of land to grow an abundant garden.

Happy Father’s Day from a Daddy’s Girl

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to do an assignment on why I’m a “daddy’s girl.” It was definitely more challenging than I had originally thought. When I went to sit down and write, I discovered the reasons behind the special relationship a girl has with her father are enough to fill a book. Nevertheless, I did the best I could with the word limit I had so I hope you enjoy the article, Dad. For the past 23 years, you have put up with the three crazy girls in your life. We will all forever and always be so grateful for you and the amazing family you made us. I could not have pictured 23 years filled with more adventure, smiles and hugs than you have given me. Thanks for teaching me that life is short, so do what you love each day with the people you love.

Happy Father’s Day from your Daddy’s Girl

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Birthday Cake Martini

Happy Friday!

Tonight I’m going out to celebrate one of my greatest friend’s birthday, so it seemed perfect that I stumbled across this intriguing drink recipe earlier in the week from this awesome drink blog called Sips, Etc. Anyone who knows me well will tell you how much I love my birthday cake flavors {and scents}. If an ice cream shop offers birthday cake ice cream, out the door goes all the other options, and my apartment happens to be scattered with birthday cake scented candles. So birthday’s are always fun for me, mine or not, because usually, birthday cake is involved.

As soon as I saw the title of this drink, I could almost taste it. Birthday cake martini. Sounds amazing, right?

So if your plans this weekend happen to include celebrating a birthday, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients
Pinapple juice
Cranberry juice
Vanilla rum
Ice
Vanilla frosting
Colorful sprinkles

1. In a shaker, mix one part vanilla rum, two parts pineapple juice, two parts cranberry juice, and ice. Shake vigorously.

2. Strain into a glass rimmed with vanilla frosting and sprinkles. Festive and delicious!

happy celebrating!

Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole // An Original Take

Last night I found myself standing in the kitchen, iPad in hand, trying to decide what to cook for dinner. In the end, I reverted to my Recipes and Such board on Pinterest. A couple of scrolls later, I stumbled upon the wonderful food blog Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. The minute I saw this recipe and realized we had all the ingredients, I could almost smell the delicious scent coming from our kitchen about 30 minutes later.

Just a few tips before you begin cooking. Be sure you cook the rice before you reach the point in the instructions that calls for cooked rice. Same story for the broccoli. Although I did not take note of the words cooked broccoli {amateur mistake on my part} and ended up adding the broccoli raw, it still came out perfect. So maybe in the end, this was a mistake turned shortcut.

Instead of using three cups of rice, I ended up using a single cup of rice and two cups of farro, one of my new favorites grains. Although it required a bit more cooking and use of an extra pot and burner on the stove, it was worth it.

One more alteration. Before putting in the oven, I sprinkled a little bit of crushed croutons on top along with the cheese. A few more calories, but after eating this dish, I do not think you’ll care.

 

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Ingredients

4 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing pan
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt and a few cracks fresh black pepper
2 + 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded
3 cups cooked rice {or as I used, 1 cup cooked rice, 2 cups cooked farro}
2 -3 cups cooked broccoli florets
crushed croutons

Instructions

  1. Grease  a 9×13-inch casserole pan. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large saucepan melt the butter over low heat; add garlic and saute until fragrant. Whisk in flour and cook 3-4 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in milk, mustard and season with salt and pepper, bring to a simmer 4 minutes, whisking occasionally. Add 2 cups of cheddar cheese and parmesan; stir until  mostly melted; remove from heat.
  3. Stir in rice and broccoli florets, pour into casserole pan, sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese and crushed croutons over top. Bake 30 minutes until bubbly and lightly golden on top. Allow to set 5 minutes before serving.

enjoy!

 

Travel & Write // Write & Travel

My beautiful city of Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.

My beautiful city of Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.

Never {ever, ever} travel and not write.

I love this rule. It is one of the best travel lessons I have ever learned.

This little rule was founded on two different occasions. The first was my fourth grade class trip to Washington, D.C. My dad was a chaperone on this three day excursion and bought me a journal beautifully adorned with a nighttime photograph of the Kennedy Center. When I retured home, I wrote all about our fun little trip. The following year, when I was ten, we took a family vacation to the British Virgin Islands. My dad and uncle chartered a sailboat from island to island for a week. {If you are on the hunt for a great family vacation, this is definitely one}. While away, my mom encouraged my sister and I to take some time at the end of each day and write a journal entry. I still read both of these. It is rewarding to go back years later and discover what the highlights of my day were as a ten-year-old girl.

When I lived in Bulgaria for four months the spring semester of my junior year of college, I decided to start my very first blog. Granted this was only two years ago, but I am still shocked at the memories my blog brings back. Those were some of the best, most eye-opening four months of my life. I loved my little Bulgarian world, and I relish the feeling that my writing of those days has the power to bring back.

You don’t have to be a pro writer to keep a record of your travels. Even the simplest journal full of bullet lists and one-word scribbles from your excursions will give you something to glance back at. Check out my Bulgarian blog if you’re looking for a place to begin your travel writing: A Crossroads. I promise – you won’t regret following this little rule.

Trouble in Turkey

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As someone who has traveled to Turkey and fallen in love with everything about the people and the culture, it has been unbelievably difficult for me to grasp hold of the horrific events currently taking place in a country I once felt so at home in. The Turkey I remember was a place full of fun and welcoming people, with some of the richest history in all of the world. It was a place filled to the brim with the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever witnessed, and the food… well that’s a whole different story. My time spent in this country was short, yet it was some of the most culturally satisfying few days I’ve ever lived.

Wrapping my head around the vision of Istanbul’s protester-packed cobblestone streets is tough. I’d rather envision them the way I experienced them, filled with families out for weekend strolls, women decked out in colorful scarves, children laughing and the call to prayer filling the air. If you have access to this blog, I’m sure the news of Turkey’s protests have reached you. Yet, most people have probably just “heard it through the grapevine.” Rather than me explaining it word for word, I’ve included a few links for some of the best news stories I’ve found on the topic. I encourage you to check them out and let me know what you think about these events. In my opinion, this is another country facing civil unrest on a list that is far too long, but the reasons behind the anti-government demonstrations vary from nation to nation.

Of course, the Turkey that I remember in these photographs is still there. The 2013 protests will be written about in Turkey’s history books. I can only hope that the true Turkish culture has a chance to reemerge sooner rather than later.

Washington Post

Al-Jazeera

The Guardian

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