Travel

A Mask A Day + NEW Fall Skincare Routine

Fall is coming and I could not be happier! There is just nothing like sweater weather, crunchy leaves, apple picking, football season, and of course pumpkin spice everything. With the leaves changing and the weather getting colder, as we change our closets from tanks to over-sized sweaters, did you know you should also be changing your skincare routine?!

While skincare routines should always include the staples (face wash, moisturizer, sunscreen, etc.), it isn’t necessarily bad or detrimental to switch up the regimen quite often, especially when seasons change or hormonal changes occur. For example, with the colder months, my face tends to become dry very easily, but in the warmer months, my face is much more oily and I am sweating so much more, so certainly using the same routine won’t be effective for both instances. Multiple dermatologists agree that changing products way too often won’t give you the chance to see results you may be looking for since average cell turnover is 28 days. If only clear skin appeared overnight!

So, as mentioned before, with Fall approaching, colder weather is approaching, and therefore my face is going to be drier than a desert :(. I decided to pick up seven different masks from Creme Shop and do a mask a day and see how my skin felt after each one. Basically, it felt as though I was going to the spa everyday, but the spa was my makeup room.

Before we get into the masks though, let’s compare our faces to a painting. The paint will go on smoother and the overall results of the painting will look so much better if you’re working on a clean, smooth canvas right? That is why it is so important to not rely on just makeup removers and masks. After reading this totally amazing review on some of the best facial cleansers out there, I picked up this CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser and I can honestly say I am obsessed. I have used it as my sole cleanser for this week’s experiment and I think it played a key role in my face feeling so soft and moisturized. I was wearing max coverage foundation and a full face of makeup, and this cleanser took it right off, without me going through an entire bottle of it. Can you say yes please?!

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Unlike harsher cleaners that exfoliate and really remove the skin’s protective barrier (this is why you should only exfoliate 1-2 times a week!), this cleanser actually helps to restore that protective barrier as well as keeps the skin’s natural moisture. My face feels so soft and looks nice and dewy immediately after washing. Since my skin is nourished and moisturized all day long, I’ve even noticed that my foundation stays on better throughout the day, and that’s without me using primer (when I go to work, I don’t wear much makeup, so I nix primer from my routine – I try to let my skin breathe during the week). I love love love this product and can’t wait to continue using it and keep you updated!

If you want to try it, here’s a $2.00 off coupon! You’re welcome! 😉

Dry skin and red spots be gone!

Now back to our painting…I mean mask experiment! All of these masks are from the Creme Shop. Aside from masks, they also have beauty products from beauty blenders to eyelashes, something I never knew before. I guess I will have to save that for another post though! If you’ve read my previous post on Korean skincare, you know I am a huge fan and avid lover of those products, a Creme shop mask being one of them. All of these masks are made in Korea and deliver just as well as the other ones in that post! I tried seven masks, check out my thoughts on each of them below.

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  • Drink Up, Skin

This one is infused with hyaluronic acid (a main ingredient in the CeraVe facial wash by the way!). This is what keeps the skin’s thirst quenched, keeping it smooth and dewy! I also love that it is non-irritating, so for those of you with sensitive skin, definitely give this one a try. The design was adorable, and after I took it off after a half hour or so, my face felt so soft and looked so moisturized. Bye bye flaky dry skin!

  • Slow Down, Skin

Another adorable “animated” mask! Who doesn’t love pandas, and who doesn’t love to fight aging skin early?! This one is infused with restorative bamboo extract and is rich in silica – which means it boosts structure and elasticity. I actually felt my face tingle slightly while using this one. My face did feel quite refreshed after using it.

  • Charcoal & Lemonade Mask

Alright so anything charcoal seems to be all of the rage in skincare, due to its ability to completely wipe away the impurities and dirt/oil on our faces. First off, I LOVED the smell of it as soon as I opened it up, definitely smelled like delicious lemonade (as I am literally drinking lemonade as we speak haha!). So this dual mask is designed to obviously be like a 2-for-1. As we know, charcoal lifts up toxins and dirt from  the pores on our faces. Lemons have antibacterial properties that can help heal, brighten the skin, and combat blackheads. This mask is also filled with hyarulonic acid, making it full of moisture. I loved how this mask made my face feel, my face felt so clean and soft and looked so dewy. When I woke up the next morning, my mother (who is on me about skin ALL. THE. TIME), complimented how great my skin looked! Oh ,you can also refrigerate this mask for a cooling effect and feeling.

  • The Kale Face Mask

Kale yasss! I can say I know a ton of ways to EAT kale, I didn’t know I could use it to help my face though! As we all know, kale is full of Vitamins, A, C, and K. It is a super food that helps our body, but it can also help with skin imbalances. It helps reduce bloat and puffiness, corrects redness, and can even help with dry patches/flakiness. This certainly helps with keeping skin toned and revitalized!

  • Pineapple Enzyme Infused Mask

I loooove pineapples, and now I love putting them on my face! I had no idea it had an enzyme (bromelain) that acts as an all natural exfoliator, breaking down the keratin protein in dead skin cells. This reveals a new layer of skin and helps get rid of discoloration, leaving you with bright and renewed skin. My face felt so soft after this one!

  • Witch Hazel Infused Mask

This one had some serious powers like a witch haha! I wanted to try this one because it said it combats acne and blackheads and helps minimize excess oil production. It also said it helps against sun damage – a must have since summer is over. Apparently, witch  hazel has a ton of healing properties such as reducing skin damage, inflammation, and swelling. the all-natural ingredient soothes troubled skin and balances the skin for an unblemished complexion. After I took this mask off, I felt like it wiped my blackheads away too, my face felt so smooth and looked so supple.

  • Coconut Oil Infused Mask

So we all know coconut oil is the cure for everything – did you know it even whitens teeth? That will have to be my next post ;). Sometimes after washing my face I will put coconut oil on my face because it makes it feel and look great. Coconut oil is also a great makeup remover if you didn’t know! So, since I already love coconut oil, I was super excited to try this one out – and I was not disappointed! It really felt the same as when I put coconut oil on my face, super moisturized, super smooth, and younger looking 😉

PS – for a cooling effect you can refrigerate their masks 🙂 I haven’t tried, but if you have, comment below!

If you’ve tried any, I’d love to hear which ones and what you thought of them!

Could not be happier with my skin ❤ !

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ESPANA

So my last post was April 3rd…I always tell myself I won’t allow any of these long hiatuses to occur, but here we are. A lot has gone on since April and between work and my personal life this took a back seat, but I am back – and what better way to come back with a nostalgic post about Spain?! Around this time two years ago I was travelling all over Spain, loving every second of it, even the historical heat wave we faced in Madrid (well, maybe not that part). Spain was absolutely beautiful with such an incredible culture and people, so I cannot wait to share these images and stories with you!File_003(2)


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  • Madrid

Our first stop was Madrid. Beautiful beautiful Madrid! I have never been to Spain before so I wasn’t too sure on what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. Throughout all my European adventures, I have never seen such detailed architecture before. The plazas were extremely large, much bigger than the ones I saw in Italy. The nightlife was unmatched – watch out NYC, they are the true city that never sleeps…well, aside from the whole siesta thing (yes it is real!). Literally everything shuts down during siesta time, I had extreme trouble finding even a convenience store to just grab a bottle of water!

I loved exploring everything Madrid had to offer, from the museums, to the parks, to the flamenco dancing, and of course the tapas and wine! They also have great trips available to places like Toledo (so sad we didn’t get to go!). I would definitely recomend renting a bike (we were able to do so at a gas station lol), see a flamenco show, and explore EVERYTHING. Don’t be afraid to get lost!

Oh and if you’re there in the summer be sure to order a the popular summer wine cocktail, tinto de verano. It literally translates to red wine of summer. Super light and refreshing 🙂

Let’s start with some of the sites you can’t miss!

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The Palacio Real de Madrid (The Royal Palace of Madrid) is just breathtaking. The size alone will leave you in awe! No pictures are allowed to be taken inside but surely what you see will be engraved in your memory. The rooms are so beautifully (and ornately) decorated and full of indulgence, you could only imagine a king living here! They have gardens surrounding the place, making it hard to believe this is right in the middle of Madrid! They also have an armory full with an incredible collection, some even say the best in Europe.

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Plaza Mayor is a typical plaza full of street vendors and little stores, but what makes it so unique are the murals painted on the Casa de la Panaderia (Bakery House). the building was constructed in 1619 and as assumed, has undergone many renovations. It was originally designed to house the Baker’s Guild, which was extremely powerful as they controlled grain prices. the original paintings on the walls were redone in 1992, so pretty recently! It is now home for the Madrid Tourist Information Center, so if you are looking to get any information, this is the place to stop by! Also, typical to touristy areas, I would stay away from the cafes in the plazas, you can find a much more authentic and reasonably priced place one off the beaten path.

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Statue of Felipe III in front of Plaza Mayor

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Plaza de la Villa – just a cute little square close to Plaza Mayor 🙂

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  • Marbella

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Down to Andalusia we go! Marbella was a great way to relax on beautiful beaches and drink some tropical dranks after a bunch of touristy things (and a TON of walking) in Madrid. There were a ton of British and Russians there when I was there, I am not sure if they like to vacation there or if they kind of took over. Nonetheless it was absolutely beautiful. From the little stone pathways, the winding tiny streets. It reminded me of Sorrento or Cinque Terre. They had the cutest boutiques, the most quaint little cafes. I would totally recommend just walking around and getting lost and see what you stumble upon. They have wonderful ocean front dining and clubs at night right on the beach. I have honestly never heard of it before coming here, I assume places like Ibiza overshadow it, but it seems pretty family friendly too as I saw a ton of families with young kids! We literally just ate, drank, and relaxed on the beach during our time here, we didn’t do much exploring at all.

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  • Granada

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Our final stop before heading back to Madrid to go home! And WOW, what a way to end a trip of a lifetime! Granada was just breathtaking, from the 1000 year old Alhambra and the views, to the wonderful markets and vendors, to the Turkish baths, to the modern shopping and dining, Granada has it all. I will certainly be adding more pictures as I unearth them from my computer, but the views I was able to capture from the Alhambra Palace are literally nothing like I have seen before. It was totally worth the trip to see and explore the grounds here. It truly felt like I was time warped to the past. This is another city with a ton of winding little alleys and streets that you should get lost in. It also had a very Arabic feel, with Arabic restaurants, vendors, etc. Completely different vibe and energy form Marbella and Madrid and anywhere I have been really. Loved every second of it.

Also, though there are no pictures here (we weren’t allowed to take them), of the first Turkish baths in Spain, I highly recommend going. After a long trip of travelling and walking around, see and learning and being apart of this awesome history was just incredible. The baths were beautiful and clean, and we got massages after!

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View from Alhambra Palace

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Food from restaurant that overlooked Alhambra – I want to say it was the Carmen Mirador de Aixa

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Amazing work being done by hand in the palace.

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Lions, Tigers, Bears – Oh My!

Lions, tigers, and bears oh my! I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to the Bronx Zoo – it had to have been at least over 10-15 years. I went back in September, and just never got around to looking at the pictures or writing about it for that matter. I love animals of all kinds and I truly wish I could be surrounded by them all day. I would love to live on a farm and have my horses and cows, etc. I know a zoo has a bit more diversity of animals, but hey if I could live with a zoo in my backyard, I certainly would.

The Bronx Zoo is this incredibly expansive space right smack in the city, it’s actually amazing to think that right in there in between the hustle and bustle of the Bronx, is one of the largest zoos in the nation. With a multitude of exhibits, animals, and displays, the Bronx Zoo should definitely be on a bucket list for all. It is also a great place for people of all ages, especially the kiddies! There is just so much to see and eat! Don’t worry, they have trolleys so you don’t need to walk around everywhere. However, I didn’t tell my BF that, so we had a nice looooong day of walking 😉 Luckily there was a lot of animals to see to keep him busy from thinking about the walking…for the most part haha!

Since exhibits are always changing and being added, be sure to visit The Bronx Zoo site and see what you can expect before you go! Below are some images from my visit!


 

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You can hear the lions roaring!

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This little peacock was on the loose haha!

Nashville Bachelorette!

Okay so in my previous post I mentioned planning my sister’s wedding and such. Well obviously with a wedding, comes a bachelorette party. I can honestly say at 23, I’ve never even been to a bachelorette let alone plan one! When my sister decided on Nashville, TN as her party destination, at first I was like ummmm what? I was sooo ready for Miami or Vegas! When I did some research, I was shocked to see it is basically the bachelorette capital of the US – and when I got there, I knew immediately why!

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Coming from NYC, the flight was not bad at all, about two hours. Also, I should note I flew Southwest and highly recommend it! Great, cheap flight with extremely friendly and accommodating staff.

When we landed, I absolutely fell in love. Like an airport that is clean, people that are friendly…say whaaa?! I was most definitely not in the city anymore! We claimed our baggage and waited for our Uber (another note: Uber is much cheaper down here – and the drivers are basically all super friendly musician transplants from allover!). Everything is so casual and laid-back here, so definitely whip out the flannel and boots and leave the body-con dresses and stilettos home!

Also, everything in Nashville is super close. We stayed near 12 South and 8 South in an Air BnB. If you haven’t tried Air BnB yet, you really must. Nothing like having a home to go back to at the end of the night. I also just feel you really get a better, more full experience. You can walk around and explore and really get to see the neighborhood.

The atmosphere (excluding Broadway) is so quaint yet has a touch of unique Southern flair. Their streets are lined with unique little shops and restaurants. Many of the walls have beautiful murals on them – don’t be shocked when you see people actually waiting in lines to take pictures in front of these murals.

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I could seriously go on and on about this place, so I’ll finally get to my checklist of Nashville must-dos and must-sees – bachelorette party or not!

  • Edley’s BBQ on 12th and Halcyon!
    • I had the brisket platter (when in the south!) with cornbread, mac n cheese, and baked beans. It was so delicious I ate every single morsel. The bar also serves up some great and more importantly, strong drinks. Definitely a must-stop for some laid-back dining and food.

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  • Wander down 12th Street
    • Really cute boutiques and unique shops:
      •  White’s Mercantile – home store + clothing store. Really cute things! A bit pricy though.
      • Serendipity – small boutique selling a bunch of Nashville items, similar to White’s but on a much smaller and more reasonable scale.
      • Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James. Okay the clothing line is stunning and appears to be amazing quality, so I wasn’t shocked that the sweaters cost upwards of $200. The items on display such as plates, books, linens, etc., all had that Southern touch and I absolutely loved it. I would call it the Southern Belle version of kate spade. HINT: The side of Draper James has two beautiful murals!
      • S’More Love! A vintage little blue truck that was whipping up the perfect specialty s’mores. They were also parked next to a flower truck. Seriously could this place get any cuter?!

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  •  MURALS
    • There is art everywhere in Nashville, you just have to find it 😉 Check out some of these murals you should definitely be on the hunt to find.

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  • Frothy Monkey
    • Coffee + wine bar….what?! They also serve breakfast through dinner! Great big porch where people hang out and sip there beverages (which vary at the times of the day, wink wink). Line was kind of long, so try to go off-hours!
  • Five Daughter’s Bakery
    • This place is a dream come true. From the decor to the actual donuts, everything was impeccable. With hanging lights and the cutest mural on the side of the building, this place is just one big invitation. First, upon rounding the corner, you can smell that heavenly smell of donuts. Then your mouth begins to water. They also have paleo, vegan, stuffed, the 100-layer (cronut), and regular donuts!
      • Here were my favorites 🙂
        • Huckleberry (still dreaming of this)
        • Apple Crumb
        • Vanilla

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  • Jeni’s Ice Cream
    • Literally mouth-watering ice cream. They have vegan kinds, gluten-free, but most importantly, INCREDIBLE flavors. The ice cream was so rich and thick and the flavor combos were so different yet paired perfectly. They are all about keeping it real and natural. You can also buy pints!
      • Some amazing flavors (I can attest to this as I basically sampled the whole line of flavors) include:
        • Brambleberry Crisp
        • Brown Butter Almond Butter
        • Churro
        • Goat Cheese with Red Cherries
        • Middle West Whiskey & Pecans
        • Sweet Potato Eclair

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  • Biscuit Love
    • I am still dreaming of the food from this place. Oh my God. No matter what time of day you go, I guarantee you will be online for about an hour. And let me tell you, it is so worth it. The food here was actually unbelievable. With huge portions and tastes that cannot be compared, you will leave with your belly full and your smile wide. Heads up you may also spot a few celebs!
      • We split:
        • Bonuts
        • Hummingbird Family Reserve
        • Egg Plate (eggs, grits, biscuit, sausage or bacon)

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  • The Sutler
    • Great drinks. Great atmosphere. Live karaoke – between good singers and the “had too much to drink and the vodka is telling me I’m a good singer” singers. The cheese dip was incredible and between the few of us, it was devoured in seconds. We did this on our first night as a way to ease ourselves into Nashville. They also have a lounge downstairs that plays 90’s throwbacks on Thursdays. #TBT y’all!

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  • The Gulch
    • Biscuit Love is in The Gulch. It’s a nice area with business building, industries, chain stores, and mom and pop shops. Definitely a lot going on but it is super clean and there is a lot to do, especially in regards to eating! Here we passed a few restaurants that seemed to be popular as well as went to the liquor store and got some coffee.

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  • St. Anejo
    • Brunch #yasssss. This is also in The Gulch. I have to say not a lot of these places take reservations, and the waits can be pretty long, but I promise they are worth it. I definitely recommend this place for a Saturday brunch. Endless chips + salsa, 2-for-1 drinks that you can mix and match (can’t go wrong with their sangria or mimosas!). The food here was also amazing. Seriously these places need to open up in the north!

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  • Miss Fit
    • Okay, so since we were here for a bachelorette, us girls decided to take dance lessons. This place offers exotic chair dancing, pole dancing, anything your exotic mind can imagine. We booked the exotic chair dancing. Since they do private parties, we booked ahead of time and got our own studio. The lights were dim, mirrors surrounded us, music was loud, it was honestly such a fun time. The instructor teaches you the dance, allows you to pick your music, and she will even take pictures of all of you afterwards! This was really a lot more fun than I expected to be. Release your inhibitions girlfriends! They also give everyone a complimentary champagne toast!

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  • Sprocket Rocket
    • Perhaps the most fun thing we did during the trip. Okay so this is basically a travelling bar, where about twenty people are sitting on bike seats and actually pedaling around downtown Nashville. There is a golf cart motor in there, but with so many people, you actually do need to do some work, which is actually a lot of fun and once your drinking you come to enjoy it. There is a bartender in the middle who takes pictures, and serves up drinks for the whole two hours. **NOTE: You bring your own liquor!** We had our group, a couple conveniently from NJ, and a group of people from Long Island celebrating a 50th. It. Was. Amazing. Our driver, who happened to be Ryan Culwell, blasts party music while we drink and pedal and sing at the top of our longs. It is really a site to see, people stop and try to give us high-fives, record us, etc. We get in on the fun too by yelling “paparazzi!” at them. There is also a drinking game called Red Light – at every red light we scream “Red Light!” and have to drink. We also encourage everyone to pedal when they start slacking off hahah. Seriously the best time, and you get to see a lot of the downtown area.
  • Pinewood Social
    • Drinks. Dinner. Bowling. Yes you read that correctly. This was a more upscale place, but again upscale in Nashville is like casual NYC. We had some drinks and dinner here as a prelude to our night on Broadway. I got the mac n cheese and a salad – it’s justified since I ate like complete garbage the entire time I was down here! The girls ordered hot chicken, burgers, etc. Everything was in huge portions and looked so so good! Since the wait was so long, we actually just found seats at the bar and were able to order dinner there. Definitely recommend!

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  • Broadway
    • The infamous downtown of Nashville. This place was a complete mob scene like PACKED like Times Square in NY. I assure you that no locals are hanging out here. But honestly, it was great. I normally can’t stand crowds, but the crowds here were so lively and fun, and it didn’t help the entire street is full of wonder. With neon lights EVERYWHERE and live music coming from every single bar (there were NO DJs), this was the place to be.
      • ACME Feed + Seed
        • Moonshine Slushies! Amazing drinks, go to the third floor rooftop part and drink and dance the night away! The first floor has live music, and the third floor was a bit younger with a DJ and more of today’s hits.
      • Tequila Cowboy
        • Place was packed, they played some strange crossover music but the crowd was dancing and it was fun to let loose and just go with it.
      • Paradise Park Trailer Resort
        • CHEESE FRIES. LIVE MUSIC. I really loved this place especially because the person who was singing sang my favorite song, “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton. I really just love how laid back everything is here. Nothing like going out in jeans and a t-shirt!
      • Other places we stopped in and had fun at or were recommended to see:
        • The Stillery – small little place off Broadway – they saw my sister’s veil and got us a round of shots in celebration! Yay!
        • Honky Tonk – line was LONG.
        • Printer’s Alley – we walked through and saw some bars, but I think they would be best to go to late late night like 2:30/3 AM

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Oh Nashville, I had such an amazing time. I absolutely cannot wait to go back. I either need to get proposed to or my friends need to because we need another reason to get back down there! Most definitely my new favorite city. People honestly are probably getting annoying with how much I talk and rave about it! If anyone has any questions about any of these places or want to know a bit more, please comment or reach out to me! I’d be happy to talk – especially about bachelorette planning!

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Apple of My Eye Apple Pie

So it feels like ages since I went apple picking, and I promised I would share just what I did with all of those apples. A few days after apple picking, I whipped up this recipe for everyone to enjoy – however, I’m just posting about it weeks later. It has been so hectic on my end – starting a new job, helping with my sister’s wedding & bachelorette party, it never ends!

This is a perfect dessert for Thanksgiving, especially if you’re having a more intimate, smaller gathering. A great alternative to apple pie – and you don’t have to worry about how big of a piece you take 😉


Ingredients:

  • 10 apples (this is only because I had sooo many)
  • 4 Tbsp. of butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Crumb Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup crushed graham crackers (this is optional)
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 6 Tbsp. butter (melted)
  • 1 roll of pre-made pie crust (optional if you don’t want to wrap the apple in dough)
  • Ice cream! Caramel sauce, whatever you’d like!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash apples and set aside.
  3. Prepare the crumble topping by combining flour, graham crackers (if used), oats, brown sugar, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and then melted butter until mixture is combined and crumbly. Set aside.
  4. Peel and chop 4 of the apples.
  5. Add these chopped apples, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and maple syrup to a large frying pan and cook over medium heat for about ten minutes (until the apples are softened and tender!). Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside.
  6. With the remaining 6 apples, cut the tops off and use a spoon to scoop out the insides. Be careful to not go all the way down/pierce the skin of the apple! Leave a perimeter within the apple as shown below. It should resemble an “apple bowl”.
  7. Fill your “apple bowl” with the filling from the sauce pan you just made. Fill about 3/4 of the way, or halfway if you’d like to be generous with the topping.
  8. Cut the rolled dough into strips and “mummify” or wrap the apples! It can be a bit tricky to have them stick to the apple so definitely press the dough strips into one another so they don’t unravel.
  9. Place the apples into a pie pan (I had to use two) because just in case of drippings, it doesn’t overflow as it potentially could on a flat baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  11. Serve warm and with your favorite ice cream! I recommend Ben & Jerry’s cinnamon one.

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Capri

Capri, easily one of the most beautiful and relaxing places Italy has to offer. Nestled in the cliffs in the Gulf of Naples, it literally looks as though a sculptor just carved a little town into the cliffs. It had such a rustic and quaint, yet vibrant and lively feel.

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Since we were already in Sorrento, we took a half hour boat ride to Capri. The boat ride was really short and pleasant as the waters weren’t rough. The morning started out cloudy, but by afternoon (and hours of climbing steps), my sister and I couldn’t wait to change our clothes and cool down.

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We arrived at Marina Grande, a bustling sea port lined with a few cafes and souvenir shops. This is where we first saw the infamous “handmade sandals” shop. For 99 euros, you have custom made sandals made for your feet and to your liking, right in front of you!  If you don’t buy the sandals, then I honestly would not spend too much time here as the actual city of Capri has much more to offer. Also, this is the place where you can get on the funicular, bus, taxi, or even chairlift to go up to the main square in Capri. This is also the spot where you can catch another boat to go on a boat tour around Capri (my sister and I did this later on in the day).

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When we first got there, my sister and I had the BEST sandwiches I’ve ever had in my entire life. Would you be shocked if I told you it was only comprised of a slice of tomato, a slice of mozz, some oil, and bread? The Italians have simply mastered the art of cooking simply yet deliciously.

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We sat on this very rocky beach for a bit and just took it all in. We still couldn’t really believe we here in Italy. It really felt like a dream (still does!).

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Before we trekked up almost three billion stairs and explored the city, we went on a boat tour around Capri. Capri is most famously known for their grottos, little caves where the water is amazingly clear and blue due to the reflection from the sun hitting the cave. There are various grottos, such as the blue grotto, the white grotto, and the green grotto. Sadly, the tides were too high in the caves when we got there so we couldn’t go in them. We did get close to them, and as you can see, the water was beautiful regardless!

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The boat tour allowed us to stop and swim for a bit, which was an experience in itself. How many people can say they spent their day swimming next to the grottos on the coast of Capri?!

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Obviously had to get some fishing in during the tour haha!

After we got back, we decided to explore this historic city. We also didn’t mind checking out the luxury shops like Dolce & Gabbana, Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, etc that line Via Camerelle. However, to get there, we had to do a TON of walking and a TON of stairs. Honestly, when I got home, I couldn’t even look at the stairmaster in the gym for weeks. It was truly all worth it. The views from such heights were incomparable.

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During our walk, we also came across these mini shrines or praying stations, if you will. It is said that these were set up for the elders who could not make the trek and journey to the actual church. These were set up so they can go to “church” basically outside of their home.

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SO many steps!

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But at least some were beautiful – almost too pretty to step on!

We finally reached the top! We reached Piazza Umberto I, or the Piazzetta, Capri’s most famous square. This is basically the heart of Capri, lined with cafes, newsstands, a tour kiosk, town hall…and most importantly, celebs. What was once a market for selling fish and vegetables, the piazza has become a top meeting place for locals and celebs. Don’t be shocked if your bumping arms with Clooney or photobomb a few paparazzi!

We walked on and stumbled across the Luna Hotel, where we most definitely were probably not allowed to be. We couldn’t resist the views though. Could you blame us? Although we were staying back in Capri, I would definitely recommend staying here simply for the views and ambiance (and of course I did some research on it 😉 ).

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Capri gave me the best food, the best workout, the best pictures. Seriously, this must be a stop in your travels to Italy.

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Double Stuffed, Cookie Dough Fried Oreos w/ Nutella

Yes. You read that title correctly. Luckily summer is over and it’s okay to indulge a bit (thank goodness for sweater season!). If you still want to reminisce on the summer feels, like carnivals and festivals, what other way to do so than fried oreos?! These are incredibly easy to make, and I must admit I make them more often than I should. I like to add cookie dough, because well cookie dough is everything and I personally believe it to be it’s own essential food group. And of course the Nutella drizzle just speaks for itself. Enjoy!


 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Oreo’s (I usually get the mega-stuffed, or whichever new flavor they have at the time)
  • 1 Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough roll
  • Aunt Jemima pancake mix (I use this because you just need to add water to the mix)
  • Vegetable oil (enough to fry the Oreo’s in)
  • Confection sugar
  • Nutella

Directions:

First, prepare the pancake mix in a medium sized bowl. If using Aunt Jemima, it is 2 cups dry mix and 1 1/2 cup water.

Begin to heat up the oil in a deep frying skillet, or a fryer if you have one.

Next, take your Oreo’s and twist the top off of each (gently, so the cream stays on one of the cookies). Take a heaping teaspoon of cookie dough and press onto the cream to flatten so it looks like it is just another disc of cream. Put the cookie that you just took off back on.

I recommend doing this to all of the cookies first, and then once that is done, begin dipping them into the pancake batter, as it is more efficient.

Once all the cookies are done and the oil is heated (you can test by flicking a few drops of water in it – you’ll hear it sizzle and see it bubble), begin to dip the cookies into the pancake batter. Using a spoon, gently place them into the oil.

As they begin to cook, line a plate with paper towels to absorb the oil for when you remove them.

You’ll notice the Oreo turning golden brown. If the oil isn’t high enough, simply use the spoon to turn the Oreo to fry the other side as well.

Once a nice, bronzed, golden brown color, remove the Oreo from the oil and let cool on the paper-towel lined plate. Continue doing this until all Oreos are done.

Once cooled, sprinkle confection sugar and drizzle Nutella all over those bad boys! This is where you can really go to town, use as much as your heart desires 🙂

 

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Sorrento

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Oh Sorrento, I absolutely adore you. Sorrento is definitely in my top five favorite cities of all time and I recommend if you ever go to Italy to make it a priority to spend a day/night here. With charming little alleyways lined with shops, incredible restaurants, and views like no other, it is also the limoncello capital of the world (all the more reason to visit!).

When I first arrived in Sorrento, I’ll never forget how breathtaking the views were, especially since it is like a city carved into and atop the cliffs. Overlooking the sea, our hotel room (see the video below) was like a dream.

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My sister and I immediately went to the beach and went swimming – the water was freezing since it was September, but we figured we were in Italy so we just had to do it. Later in the day we were able to rejoin our group and went to a local pizzeria where we were able to have a pizza demonstration and of course eat our body weights in pizza (when in Sorrento, right? 😉 ). Afterwards, my sister and I went strolling around, shopping at the boutiques and emptying our wallets. We strolled around Piazza Tasso, a square lined with little cafes.

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I think my favorite part was when we went to Limonoro, a candy/sweet shop that revolves around everything limoncello. I’m talking limoncello filled cookies, limoncello gummies, the list goes on. They offered us free samples of literally anything we wanted to try! I had these cookies, and honestly my taste buds have never been the same. I am seriously placing an order as soon as I finish writing this post.

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To end our stay in Sorrento, we had a feast with our Contiki group for those who wanted to participate, and the views were just breathtaking from the restaurant, Circolo dei Forestieri. The decor was beautiful, the food was unmatched. When I get married, I’d consider having destination wedding with the reception here – everything about it was above and beyond. After my meal, I was sitting there with my sister and this older gentleman came up and asked me dance! I’m normally very shy, ESPECIALLY dancing in front of other people to Italian songs doing Italian moves I have no idea how to do. I kept saying no, but that doesn’t work too well with Italians – especially the men haha! So he pulled me up and whisked me away for a solid two songs. I let him lead the way…and of course I had him dance with my sister as well. We go down we go down together, sisters are forever haha!

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Before we left for the night we stopped at a limoncello store I Giardini Di Cataldo, and stocked up on bottles on bottles on bottles of limoncello. It also made for the perfect favor. Good thing we didn’t drink too much of it since we had a boat ride to Capri the next morning.

Stay tuned for the lovely Capri!

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Pumpkin Spice Crumb Cake

It is officially the first day of Fall! I seriously could not be happier. Although I’ve been sipping on my pumpkin spice coffee since it’s seasonal debut early September, today makes my order much less embarrassing as it is now officially Fall. I just wish the weather would follow suit and stop being 80 degrees! I can’t wait for hoodies, chilly mornings and nights, football Sunday, leaves, bonfires, ugh I can go on and on. What better way to ring in the most amazing season with some delicious pumpkin spice crumb cake! Crumb cake is my guilty pleasure, and during the fall, everything must be pumpkin flavored, so viola – the pumpkin spice crumb cake was born.


Ingredients:

CAKE:

  • 2 cups floured (always spoon in the flour and level off with a butter knife, otherwise flour gets packed in and you get too much flour!)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick of butter, room temp.
  • 2 heaping cups of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 can of pumpkin (I’ve only seen 15 oz ones)
  • 1 cup milk (2%, whole, whichever you prefer)

CRUMB:

  • 1 stick COLD butter (will be easier to form crumbs)
  • 1 firmly packed cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.  Then beat the sugar and room temperature butter until combined.  Add eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin until batter is smooth. Add the dry ingredients in the bowl you set aside slowly, alternating with the milk.  Beat again until smooth and batter comes together. Pour the batter into your sprayed pan and even out with a spatula.

For the crumbs, combine all of the ingredients into one bowl.  This is where it gets fun! You can either get down and dirty and use your hands to combines everything, or you can use a fork or pastry cutter.  Since I like big crumbs, I always use my hands. Sprinkle your newly formed crumbs all over the poured cake batter.

Bake 45-50 minutes, until crumbs turn a light golden brown and a knife or toothpick comes out clean from the center.  You can serve it with some vanilla ice cream, or as I did, with a dollop of whipped cream.

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ROMA E POMPEII

img_4052Buongiorno a tutti! So, growing up Italian (well only half  😉 ), it has always been a life-long dream to visit the motherland. Since I was practically raised by my Nonna, the Italian culture and way of life has always been something that has resonated deeply with me, and something I have always cherished. I also believe that when my dad (an Irish/British gent) married my mom (a hot-headed Italian), the Italian culture just kind of took over. Although, she does give my dad’s side of the family some recognition by making corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty’s Day hahah.

ANYWAYS – I finally was able to make this dream a reality with my sister. We went on a Contiki tour (a travel agency catering to 18-35 year olds), which took us ALL over Italy, starting at Rome. Since I have over 4,000 images from this trip and notebooks of memories, I decided to break down the blog posts in sections, by cities.

Let’s talk about getting there first. I don’t know about you, but I always have the biggest anxiety before overseas trips. Irrational, I know. From all of my experience travelling overseas (okay 3 times), the planes have been equipped with WiFi, televisions, charger ports, the whole nine yards. Well, let me tell you, stepping onto that plane was like stepping into a time warp that transported me to 1492. I minds as well have just sailed with Columbus. The phone (shockingly equipped with one), still had a cord attached to it…I didn’t even know they made those anymore! And so, a panic attack ensued.

Luckily we made it safe and sound, we had our meals (best part of the flight to be honest), and landed in Rome bright and early. With all the stress from the flight, thanks to me, my sister and I were completely worn out. Once we got through customs, we went outside and were greeted by a line of taxis. We got into a “taxi”and were on our way to our hotel where we would meet with our Contiki group later that evening.

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The cab ride was great, the guy was super friendly, giving us recommendations, I was even speaking with him in Italian! Then…we got to our hotel and he wanted 200 euros…normally a 50 euro trip. He became a little angry and us being scared and in an area we knew NOTHING about (it didn’t help it was so early and no one was around), we had no choice but to give him the euros. I should note it was all of our euros we had initially exchanged to get us by the first few days of our trips. So we were robbed in Rome within the first twenty minutes of being there. At least now as I type this I can laugh, not cry.

I immediately started looking at flights home while my sister sobbed in the bathroom. Our parents were able to calm us down and things actually started looking up. We went to a little restaurant La Gattabuia, where we had a few aperitivo. Seriously the food in Italy had the power to turn our entire mood around. We ate until we were in a food coma and went straight to bed since we were off to Pompeii in the morning!

Pompeii was so historic and the Italians did an incredible job of preserving this history, but am even better job telling of the history. On a side note, I learned that Mt. Vesuvius erupted on my birthday, to which my dad said “explains a lot”. I learned so much about the culture there at the time, let’s just say it wasn’t too PG-13. They even had a prostitute row, I guess it was the OG Red Light District. The beds were made of stone, because they wanted everyone to do their business and then leave immediately and not get comfortable so the next person can come in. There’s also a really interesting background to puttanesca sauce. Puttanesca comes from the Italian word “puttana”, which basically means whore. Legend has it that at these brothels, the puttanas would make this “quick and easy” sauce and serve it to customers who were waiting their turn. All in all, Pompeii is an absolute tourist trap, I would just recommend going on a walking tour and leaving.

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Stay tuned for Sorrento – one of my most favorite places in the world!