Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Budapest is a city of Bridges. Seven of them to be exact. The bridges link the cities of Buda & Pest, making them one great big gobbledy of Budapest awesomeness. While there, we were trying to put a label on the city, a pastime we often indulge in when traveling. One of us always brings up the cities it reminds us of that we have been to before, piecing together the qualities of different places to explain our newest adventure.

Except with Budapest, this was really difficult. Like the two different cities that join together to give birth to this new, joined city, it is a place of contrasts. Buda, ancient and dazzling, a combination of eastern influence and western ideas jammed into the architecture of every building on the steep, hillside streets. And Pest, giving Paris a run for its money with carved facades and statuary to make you gasp. Packed with ruin pubs, cafes, restaurants and swanky art-deco details lurking inside nondescript buildings. 

Some of our favorite Casual Eats + Drinks:
Szimpla- Ruin Pub- I have no words. Like a flea market met a garage sale and an explosion. The coolest pub I've ever seen
2 Spaghi- Fresh Pasta Restaurant- Homemade authentic Italian pasta made by a recent immigrant to Hungary. Right on par with the pasta we've had in Italy. and WAY cheap. 
Star Kebab- Ok, this is just a kebab place and it looks kind of like...garbage? But it was AMAZING. We ate there like 3 times. And again, so CHEAP. 
Fruccola- Salads and Soups Mr. Nolandia and I are suckers for big healthy salads when we travel. After eating at fancy schmancy restaurants at night and too much wine -a lot of the time we wake up and say "I need salad. Now." And so we are fortunate enough to find the best places everywhere we explore. Fruccola is incredible. 

Stay tuned for next week's post with fancier dining options and wine tastings + Hotel recommendations. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Budapest: Parliament

The Parliament building in Budapest gets its own post. It is a building that is gorgeous, (obviously from the photos) but it is hard to put into words how much of the Danube it commands. Like the Queen of the river,she reigns silently, for her beauty speaks volumes. She is always present, and constantly beckoning the eye. There is so much beauty in Budapest, truly, that it is surprising that one building can stick out so completely. But it does. Nothing equals it in the whole of the city, and if pressed, I can think of no other castle or chateau or municipal structure that I have laid eyes on that can. It is that remarkable. 

I am ashamed to say that I did not even think of going in. Actually, the same is true for most of Budapest, and the sentiment will be echoed in the rest of my Budapest posts I am sure. Reason being, the soviet regime pretty much robbed the insides of the buildings in Budapest of their trappings, and so, they are a little bleak and sad on the inside. But, fortunately, the exteriors are still splendid and dazzling. Paris of the East, indeed.

Stay tuned for the rest of our Buda + Pest trip, which will have more of restaurants, bars, shopping streets, etc. But, c'mon, that Parliament building is very deserving of her own post.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015


What do we have here? Well, I'm tired of the rep book lovers have. Whenever I tell people I love to read, they invariably give me that, Isn't-that-quaint-encyclopedia brown-nanny drew-mousy little bitch- look. But readers and writers can be...dangerous. And sassy. And sexy. We read about things and imagine things in our minds that you don't see on television. KnowwhatImsayinnnn'? 

So...Y'all come and check out my newest design. It's going up on some tote bags and coffee mugs for all my bookworm bombshells, and two lucky people will win a mug or a tote--their choice with my next giveaway. But, if you can't wait, check these designs out here: 

The new book drops at the end of October (at the latest early November-but will be available for pre-sale on Kindle in mid-October.) Moonlight Melodies will be the second installment of the Starlight Symphonies series, but if you didn't read the first one, you won't be lost. Different characters, same setting, different story. 

BUT, you will appreciate the story line more if you read the first one, PLUS it's been reviewed really well and all of my book clubs have enjoyed it. So, do me a solid, and yourself a favor, and just freaking buy the first one. And then the second one. And probably all of my books.  Not because it's going to make me loads of money (which it 100% won't) but because I'm putting my sassy ass book reading heart into these books, and you'll like 'em. (My mom told me that they're great.)

Anyway, Giveaway details coming on IG, totes, mugs, pillow cases and prints on Society6 and READ MY BOOKS, BITCHES. 


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Banana Peach Muffins

In my time, I have been known as cooky-cook baker lady, and I think, it is a title well-deserved. This week's recipe, is hard proof. HARD PROOF. These homemade muffins are easy to make, really difficult to eff up, and dee-lightful. Moist, full of fruit and perfect for using up old bananas. And peaches.

Recently, Mr. Nolandia was a little put out with me. At one point in our marriage, I sent him off to work every day with breakfast, which usually included a banana ( the boy needs some fruit). But at some juncture, I started finding black uneaten bananas slowly decomposing in his car. Cue: disgusted face. I vowed that day, that I while I would still make his breakfast daily, I would send him off to work with nary another banana. That was, until he became piqued at me for not sending the bananas, and I had to reinitiate the banana sacrifice. 

Unfortunately, even when he does eat them every day, I generally end up with 2 or 3 every week that are too gross to actually consume raw. 

So, when life gives you overripe bananas, make some type of semi-unhealthy treat from them. AmIRite? 

The original recipe calls for just bananas, but I had some too-soft peaches as well, so into my bubbling cauldron they went. 

Banana Peach Cinnamon Muffins
makes ? I don't know. It depends on the size of your muffin pan. It made 8 regular muffins and 8 minis. I don't know how that translates to your cookware.
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups ripe mashed bananas (4 bananas)
1 pureed peach, pit removed. (the pureed peach stands in for some of the oil in the original recipe.)
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil (I used butter)
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1.  Preheat oven to 375ºF. 
  2. Use liners or coat muffin tin with cooking spray
  3. In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients, the flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. 
  4. In another large bowl, mix the mashed bananas with the egg until smooth. Add in the oil, brown sugar, applesauce, peaches and vanilla. 
  5. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until just blended. Don't overmix. Don't do it! I'm warning you!  
  6. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups, filling  almost full. 
  7. Bake until the muffins have risen and turned golden brown, 22-25 minutes, test it with a fork to see if it comes out clean.
  8.  Remove to a rack. Can be frozen up to 2 weeks. But, c'mon, ain't no way they're going to last that long! 

Sorry 'bout it. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

NOLA by Night

New Orleans at night. Romantic, wild, sketchy...all of the above and more. To really know New Orleans, you have to wander the streets at night. Karaoke spilling out of bars, and jazz drifting down the streets. Palm readers in Jackson Square, spooky haunted ghost tours. Tourists and locals threading down the sidewalks and boats gliding quietly over the water. 

There's a history here. A history of death: yellow jack, malaria, murder, slavery. But also a history of life. Life lived so large because death was always lurking around the corner in the muddy, mosquito-ridden bayou. But such a glamorous place. One can almost hear floor length dresses skimming the floor and the clink of champagne glasses to celebrate another day being alive. 

Pirates and debutantes, frontiermen and swindlers, prostitutes and proper society. All are, and have always been, right at home here. Is there any wonder the ghosts would want to come back to the Crescent City?

Our favorites:
The LaLaurie Mansion-- the most haunted house in America
GW FINS- Our favorite restaurant in NOLA

Enjoy and visit! xx
Next week: let's talk Budapest.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

NOLA by Day

New was so wonderful to be back. It all began for us 4 years ago in the Crescent City, and it was nice to revisit the city we fell in love in. The trip for us was a lot less about Bourbon Street, but instead a lot of antique shopping and art admiring on Royal St. We spent a lot more time ambling around, looking at the beauty of the buildings and taking (God forbid!) a carriage tour (so touristy!) We felt a little...older, and maybe a little less wild, but relaxing was what we needed. A little break from Houston, and a little culture and DELICIOUS food in the big easy. 

Our favorites from this trip:
Carriage Tours at the front of Jackson Square
Spicy Bloody Mary at Frank's-- we taste tested a bunch for you. You're welcome. 
Gallery Burguieres- The cutest artistic prints (a lot of animals, like, cute animals)

Check back next week for a post on Nola by Night...probably the best time to see New Orleans. 


Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Nolandia returns to New Orleans, the city where it all began. 

In 2011, we took our first real trip as a couple to the crescent city, and a few months later, we returned to Nawlins, and Mr. Nolandia proposed. Suffice it to say,we have a huge soft spot for the The Big Easy.

While New Orleans is definitely the place to get a very strong drink and casually walk down the street sipping on it, it is also a wonderfully complex place. Not just for raucous bachelor parties and too many sweet, rum-filled concoctions, but a city with depth and layers and so much history.  There's Ann Rice vampires and voodoo queens, beignets and gumbo. Po-boys and graveyards and ghosts and gambling. And it's beautiful. A city that has resurrected itself from disaster after disaster, too wild to be tamed, too strong to be broken.

Here's a few of our favorite spots:


That's it for now. See you next week with more restaurants + bars + things to do in The Big Easy, 


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Real Deal Gazpacho

I have a lot of fine qualities. Brag-able qualities. Skills, talents and aspects of my character that are tippy-top. But food photography is, unfortunately, not one of them. 

This photo doesn't show a correctly lit and mouthwateringly staged bowl of gazpacho...but that doesn't mean you shouldn't eat it. On the contrary, get your spoon ready, and plug the almost non-existent calories into your food diary of choice. Because this gazpacho is the bomddotcom.

First, let me start out by very proudly declaring that this recipe is not mine. It comes straight from España, from the cocina de mi amiga, Patricia. Or more correctly, from her mother's kitchen. 

We had tasted some really delicious Gazpacho Andaluz while on our recent jaunt to Spain, and when we returned I had ordered a Spanish brand online that I had liked on the train from Madrid to Barcelona. was really hard to find, and super expensive. I kept asking Patri if she could find it for me, and in the end she was like, "I don't know that brand, but I can give you the recipe. It's super easy." 

Now, my dumb American brain was like NO, IT WONT TASTE THE SAME. AND, GAZPACHO, THE WORD IS NOT ENGLISH SO IT WILL BE HARD TO MAKE. Then, she passed along the recipe, I face palmed, and made it in 2 minutes, all the while singing an Ode to Patricia. 

So, here it is.

Makes ~6 servings, ~150 calories each. 
5 tomatoes, cut in 4
1 peeled cucumber (if you leave the peel on it makes you gassy, FYI)
2 cloves garlic
1 bell pepper ( Patri said green, which I did, but my mom was all like, "Ah nah, I'm using red")
3 tbsp vinegar (I used balsamic)
1/2 -3/4 cup Olive oil. (Don't be cheap, use the good ish.)
Salt to taste, but Patri says (use like a lot)

Put in blender. Blend. Blend. More blending. 

For me, the crazy thing was that everything was raw. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, but it seemed...too easy? Anyway, literally 2 mins.

See you next week for some travel related goodness/mild soul searching. 

For shots of life in Barcelona, Follow Patri on Instagram: @patrilara 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Amsterdam + Delft + Den Haag

Near Centraal Station in Amsterdam


The Hague

The Hague

She's a dayyyyyy tripper. Mr. Nolandia and I struck out one fine morning to explore some other cities besides the great and mighty Amsterdam. We were especially geeked about Delft, because we wanted to get our hands on some unbelievably pricey hand-painted ceramics because we are, truthfully, two old women. 

The train from the Centraal Station in Amsterdam to Delft is about 45 minutes or so, and not too expensive. After we arrived in Delft, we asked a courteous Albert Heijn employee where we could find the Delft factory. Which was stupid. Dumb-dumb American tourists might call it that, but it is officially known as De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles, basically "Royal Delft Porcelain". Terrence found the video portion of the factory tour fascinating, but I just wanted to get my hands on some of that sweet, sweet porcelain. 

After that, although Delft is a sweet and sleepy little place there really wasn't a whole lot to do. We were hungry though, and we hit the jackpot. Just the loveliest little vegetarian restaurant with 100% the greatest brownies I have ever eaten in my entire life, and that is saying something you guys. 
The Living has a small buffet style set up where you dish your own food and they charge you by weight. The homemade chai is ridiculously delicious and again, THE BROWNIES.

The Hague
We hopped back on the train and headed to The Hague, or Den Haag, if you wanna get real about it. We were headed for The Mauritshuis, which is home to both Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Goldfinch by Fabritius. Our personal favorite in the collection is by Willem Van Haecht, and it's called Apelles Painting Campaspe

After a look around the city and a stop for a Belgian beer or two, (La Chuff, amirite?) and then we hopped back on the train back to old Amsterdam for a stroopwafel  and maybe some more appeltaart. 

xx see you next week for a recipe. (it's good. Like, REAL good.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Amsterdam Views + Bites

Oh, Amsterdam. The city always gets me. Whether it's warm appletaart with slagroom (WHIP CREAM!) from Winkel 43 or the best damn daily specials at Cafe De Prins, we had the best gastronomic time in the Dam.

This latest travel escapade was supposed to be a (very needed) break from the sweltering Houston heat, but...we arrived to Amsterdam in the middle of a freak heatwave. And...we had no air conditioner. Because guess what....NOWHERE has air-conditioning in Amsterdam. It never gets warm enough for it. Except when we come from Texas, of course.

But, if you want the best views in Amsterdam, I got you. And if you are dreaming of nibbles, I got you too.

Best Apple Pie in Amsterdam: Winkel 43
Cool Local Bar/Restaurant: Cafe De Prins
Super Touristy but Amazing Cheese Tasting: Reypenaer Cheese
Actual Best Salads EVER: Juice & Salad

Great People Watching: Intersection of Leliegracht & Prinsengracht over the canal
Hang Outs: The lawn in front of the Rijksmuseum & Vondelpark

See ya back next week for a peek at our day trip to Delft + The Hague


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

29 Years.

Yesterday was my 29th Birthday. I love birthdays, no matter how old I am. The birthday isn't less sweet because I get further from 18, or 21, or 5. To me, it's like a personal day of Thanksgiving.

 Not to be sappy, or overly dramatic, but, a day to reflect and celebrate a number of things.
The day I was born. All that I have learned so far. All the people I've loved. All the pets that I've cuddled and walked and given baths to. All the books I've read (and written!). The places I've traveled. The number of chocolate cakes with chocolate frosting I have consumed for my birthday over the years (answer: 29.)

A day to be grateful for all the pieces of my life that have remained constant, and all of the pieces that have changed.

Plus, cake.
And cake.
Cake, cake, cake.

Also...if you are reading this and really embarrassed that you forgot my big day--fear not!
You can make my whole week with just a snag of a copy of one of my books on Kindle and then reading it. And then maybe, like it and want more. Alexandria Nolan Full Works on

I leave you with my favorite birthday quote.
"There are 364 days when you might get un-birthday presents... and only one for birthday presents, you know." Lewis Carroll

PS-Amsterdam on the blog next week!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Shop the DAM

Ok, so Nolandia is busy. Moving...unfortunately just across town instead of across the Atlantic. I haven't fully processed the photos + my thoughts on our latest gallivant around the Netherlands, so in the meantime, I leave you with this achingly lovely shot of a canal and a few of my favorite places to shop in Amsterdam. Add them to your list, immediamente!

Amsterdam Shopping

See you back here next week! (With brand new travel posts to make you drool.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Current Adventure: Amsterdam

Returned, reunited, renewed, rejoicing. The Nolandians are back to their favorite European spot, the Netherlands. There will only be one post this week, but I wanted to include a few links to some of the places we are adventuring to, and events to catch when planning a trip to Holland and the rest of the Netherlands.

Start planning, buttheads.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Traveling + Relationships

Check my latest + greatest article on Coast to Coast Central about how traveling with a partner, romantic or otherwise, can change you as a person.
And also change the relationship.