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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pumpkin Oatmeal

It's October, so I'm into the whole Autumn thing right now along with everyone else. Couples Costume? Check. Cinnamon flavored everything? Check. Crockpot Chili? Check.

New unnecessary Pumpkin recipe? Double check. 

I found this recipe for Slow Cooker Pumpkin Oatmeal online, and after reading "Add ingredients, combine, and turn on slow cooker." I was like, "I can do that!" The recipe is really delicious (after you add honey and a smidgen of butter or coconut oil) it has fiber from the oats and pumpkin, and I added quinoa and chia seeds, so my version is a million jillion times better than the one I found.

Here in Houston, it still doesn't feel like fall, and that's a major bummer. I need 65 degree days like a bum needs a bologna sandwich, and Texas just isn't cutting it. Which is why this pumpkin porridge, eaten inside my over-airconditioned apartment is a gift from the heavens.

Plus, Mr. Nolandia and I have gotta start eating our porridge...we're leaving for Ireland in just a few days! 

Anyway, here's in the ingredients, and a link to the recipe:

  1. 1 cup steel cut oats
  2. 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  3. 3 cups water
  4. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  5. 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  6. 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
  7. 1 tsp stevia (to taste), optional
  8. 1 pinch salt
  10.  I added:
  11. 1/4 cup chia seeds
  12. 1/3 cup quinoa
  13. 1 more cup of water ( and a little extra oats...I wanted to ref. and eat the next day too.)
Head on over to the Peanut Butter and Peppers Blog for the recipe and enjoy! 


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

From the Inside, Looking Out

I live in one of the largest cities in America. A hub of energy, finance, sales and new restaurants and shops. 

And yet, I yearn for another place. 

Don't get me wrong, Houston has its charms. Lots of vegetarian restaurants, infused drinks, swanky wine bars. Good art museums, art fairs and farmer's markets. But, to me, it feels like it is missing a soul. Or, maybe I'm just not tapped into it. 

In either case, when I'm trapped here too long, my heart starts to beat a little harder. There's a painful, trapped feeling that starts to swell in my chest. I bring up our photos of Amsterdam, Antwerp, Paris, Amalfi, Naples, Barcelona...all of our trips. All of the discoveries and stomachaches and squabbles and too many glasses of wine nights that we had. And I wonder why we even came back?

Which leads me right back into gratitude. For now, this city and our jobs here are what enable us to travel how we do. We have health, we have healthy fruits and vegetables to eat, we have a safe place to live, and we have each other and our memories of all of the adventures we've had. 

And there's so many more to come. (Ireland tomorrow! And Don't FORGET Starlight Symphonies of Oak and Glass the new book, is out in paperback and kindle on October 31st! Pre-Order on Kindle today for $2.99)

It's corny and sappy and overused, but that doesn't make gratitude unimportant. Thank your lucky stars for what you have, do it often...and soon, what you have will be enough. 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Surprise in the Mail

Raise your hand if you like mail. 
Me too. I love getting mail, even crap mail like bed, bath and beyond coupons. Can you imagine my excitement when my box full o' goodies arrived one Thursday afternoon a few weeks ago? Ecstatic. I was peeling apart the tape on the elevator, stupid smile on my face.

I had just received my first PopBasic box.

The concept of the company is really compelling. As a traveler and basic clothing aficionado, I was immediately hooked. Every month or thereabouts, they release a new clothing collection. There's always two to three items, and always under $100. It could be a shawl cardigan and a striped tee with a statement necklace, or a basic tee with a scarf and a leather clutch. 

The purpose is to build your wardrobe with high quality basics that can be mixed and matched and styled. For me, this was a great way to marry clothes with accessories for upcoming trips. 

When I opened the box, I found a knee-grazing slinky black dress, a gold bangle, and a golden key necklace. Along with the main goods, there was also a bright red lipstick and a purple/mauvey chubby eye pencil. Cloud 9 people. I'm a always a sucker for a black dress. 

They ship worldwide for free, and the micro-collections are well curated and high quality. The only drawback? I did say, micro-collection. Meaning that the clothes and accessories are such a good price because they are bought in bulk (I assume) one time, and when they're out, they're out. So, you'd need to sign up to figure out when the next drop is, in order not to miss it. (And I will fight you to the death for a small or xs!)

So, cool company, clothes get the nod for travel basics, and if you'd like to squeal like a newborn piglet when you get your box in the mail, check the following link. If you sign up, you get $15 to spend. You're welcome. 

xx and see you back here Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Packing for Europe

Need a perfect packing list for Europe? You're in luck because I've got my favorite tips + tricks for packing the perfect bag on Coast to Coast Central. 

So read on, take note, and start've got places to go!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Starlight Symphonies

How can I explain writing a book? It is the most wonderful, draining, humiliating, soul-baring thing one can do. It's you on a page. It's thoughts made real. It's other people reading your mind, and judging whether or not they like what they found there. Writing a book, a short story, or a novella is profoundly humbling. 

The most rewarding thing has nothing to do with sales, or rank, or any measurable success. For me, it is someone to write me an email, or comment on a post, or to call me or text me that they connected with my writing. That they hated a character, loved a character, felt their heartbreak or "kept coming back to" a certain line or paragraph. That's what writers do. They make us feel. Good books tell us we aren't alone and that we were never alone and that everyone else is just as joyful/broken/confused/conflicted as we are. 

I think Ernest Hemingway said it best, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down to a typewriter and bleed."

My latest work, a historical fiction novel set in 1820s Michigan, follows a few different characters on a rocky voyage from Detroit to Mackinac Island. It focuses on love, betrayal, murder, magic and the very real dangers of early American life. I am very proud of this work, and I'm oh-so-anxious wait for you to read it!

As a teaser, here's the blurb on the back of the book:

Starlight Symphonies of Oak and Glass
A swirling chaos settles over a ship becalmed... 

A stirring novel of history, of magic, of the mysteries of the northern lakes, and the spell they cast over those who know them.

An ordinary crossing from Detroit to Mackinac Island in a wild 19th century Michigan, turns desperate as the ship runs afoul of the weather. In turns the victim of a series of eerie calms and inexplicable storms, the schooner is a captive of the whims of the lake. 

The characters take turns telling the tale, each having their own story to reveal. The crushing obstacles of the voyage shine light on the past lives, loves, betrayals and misdeeds of all aboard. The brave company must find redemption, if they are ever to sail brightly toward their destiny. 

This latest work will be released at the end of October, but is available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle, by clicking here:
You can download the kindle app, for free, to any apple product, all smartphones, and of course, the kindle. You can also read write from your computer if you buy the digital book on Amazon. 

If you're holding out for the're in for a treat, because the jacket is beyond gorgeous. 

I can't wait to hear what you think, and am excited to share my story with you. 

As ever, xx

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Biking the Golden Gate Bridge

A few months back, Terrence and I had a grand adventure on the Golden Gate. One of us liked the experience more than the other. 
Check the full article on Coast to Coast Central for  details + why you should add this to your bucket list ASAP.

And check back Thursday for big news about the newest novel!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hey, I wrote that!

At the end of this month, Nolandia has some exciting news. 1. The New book will be out soon, and and secondly, we will be exploring Ireland. 

I get so much inspiration for my novels + short stories from the places we have visited and the cultures we have experienced. New perspectives on humanity, hearing stories and legends and places that set the imagination on fire. 
Recently, when we were up in Michigan, spending time in the forests and lakes, we found my books in the local bookstore. I can't tell you how much it meant to me to see my words travel so far from the little computer that they were originally typed on, and out in the world, filling someone else's imagination.

The new book, "Starlight Symphonies of Oak and Glass" is a tale of a ship becalmed on Lake Huron in the 1820s. Stories of early Michigan and early America always hold interest for me, and so I had a great time working on this book. I hope you get as much enjoyment from reading it as I got writing it. 

Anyway, until it is out, please enjoy sale prices on Shears of Fate: A Novella of Madness and Memory, and Wide, Wild, Everywhere: Short Stories for Wanderers. Both available in paperback and on kindle, and both at reduced prices in anticipation of the new book. 

Thank you, for continuing to read my words on the blog and in the books. Thank you for sharing my adventures. 


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Best Waffles in Belgium for C2C Central

Move over Belgian Waffles! The best waffles in the world are definitely from Belgium, but they're not their trademark variety. Instead, these yeasty hunks of sweetness are a completely different tantalizing animal. 

The memory of which has haunted me daily since our last visit. In fact my knees feel a little weak as I type this, and I may or may not be foaming at the mouth--rabid for a bite. 
Check the article on Coast to Coast Central, and prepare for the dark pit of despair you will fall into if   waffles are not readily available. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Goodbye Summer Sangria

Recently, Terrence and I went floating down the Guadalupe River with a group of friends. If you have  ever partaken of this glorious summer pastime, you know that the  main purpose is drinking, getting a tan and trying to find a way to contort your body so that you don't look fat in the tube. Usually, libation of choice is beer. And, I like beer. But, not that much. And not int the sun. And not for hours. And not when it makes me bloat (especially when my body is contorted into a strange shape).

So, I decided to make myself a jug of cool, white sangria with lots of fruit and flavor. I stumbled upon a recipe online, and realized I had struck liquid gold. I used peaches, pineapples, mangoes and blueberries. It turned out LOVELY. In fact, so lovely, that most of the people in my group were clamoring for "just a little bite of peach!" or "just one more sip! I promise!" If bringing sangria to a beer party was ever looked down upon, then it is no longer. Feel free to sip this fruity summer sweetness whenever you please. 

Gather together:
Sweet white wine. Cava, Prosecco, Moscato, Gewurtztraminer, or Riesling. (I used a semi-sweet Riesling)
Triple Sec
Lemon Juice
Cut fruit of your choice

Click the following to head on over to WineFolly to score the recipe. (Listed as the White Peach and Cava recipe on the website) It's LEGIT: Sangria Recipe

 See ya back here Thursday! xx

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lake Michigan Sunshine

If I had to imagine heaven, I think it would look a little like a Lake Michigan summer day. Just easy breezes and soft sunlight winking down, bathing all beach goers in warmth. 

The lake water is cold, but it is refreshing and almost, dare I say, purifying? It is not like other water, honestly. There is something sacred and beautiful about it, like, beautiful in that "gives me so many feelings" kind of way. 

Plus, it's a family thing. My Dad and stepmom, my furry dog sisters, and my incredibly handsome husband, all under one sun, staring out at the ships passing lazily on this inland sea. 
 Heavenly, right?


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Amalfi Nights

Lately we are missing the sultry sweetness of nights on the Amalfi Coast. It was only a little over a month ago that we were sipping sweet white wine to the hum of the incoming crashing waves of the sea. Something in those magic star-filled evenings, strolling the streets, lingering in the piazza over a kiss or the far off sound of music playing in someone's apartment, calling us like a siren's song. 

We miss those Amalfi nights, and breathe in the memories of their beauty and simplicity. 
We travel far and wide here in Nolandia, but there is no substitute for that Southern Italian Coast, our honeymoon-forever place. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

International Travel Tips for C2C Central

I don't have all the answers, but traveling abroad raises a lot of questions. Like, how much will the air on the plane affect my skin, hair, body, well-being? ( A LOT)
What are some things I can do to make things easier on my body? (Don't fret, I wrote a whole post on it.)

Rather than struggling through time changes, sleepy eyes and tired skin, take a peek at my tried and true tips and tricks to hit the jetway running, and make the most out of your troppo expensive European vacation. (Because ain't nobody can afford to waste time you could be chomping waffles or slugging champagne. Amirite?)
Take a peek at the article, and travel smarter. Keep your eyes peeled for the next articles in the series, *Tips and Tricks for International Fashion, and *Tips and Tricks for Eating, Getting Around and Generally Pretending to be Local. 

My husband and I travel a lot. It was one of the main reasons we were attracted to one another when we met, and the greatest binding force of our marriage still. The desire to explore the world, to see new cultures, to garner a fresh perspective on life and love and all of the beautiful smaller things that make up both of those things. To eat strange food and hear the gruff or melodious languages of a foreign place…these are the things that set our lives on fire. 

But, this wanderlust isn’t all roses and fairy dust. It’s a fair amount of tears, frustrations, break-outs, bad hair and nothing to wear to a swanky restaurant in Paris and not enough cash to buy something appropriate from a boutique. Travel can mean stomach bugs, and short tempers, missed trains and lost hotel reservations. 

It is with this in mind that I aim to give you my best tips for traveling internationally, over a few of these posts. Beginning with the first obstacle of the trip, that long, long, long international flight.

The long flight over the water can be torturous. If you are lucky enough to be an easy plane sleeper, then the international flight might not seem stressful, but it definitely still is for your body. The humidity on the plane is so low, that it will dry you right out: skin, hair, and sinuses. Germs are rampant on airplanes, and because of the somewhat stable pressure and environment, bacteria can live on surfaces like armrests for days. Which is one reason to always bring antibacterial wipes with you.  And if you can’t sleep at all on planes, like yours truly, then 10 hours of movies, or reading a book when you’re just so tired but can’t sleep can be pretty unbearable. 

First, to beat the skin dryness, bring a spray moisturizer I like this derma e hydrating mist for its carry-on approved size and for the easy application. The scent is pretty gender neutral too, so my husband doesn’t feel silly using it when his face is chapped. For lips,   Lush's Lip Service balm is perfect, apply liberally to keep your pout from puckering. To keep my sinuses hydrated, which might sound weird, but believe me, you’ll notice the difference mid and post flight, I bring a regular saline nasal spray from the drugstore. Adding a little bit of moisture to my body in the desert climate of the plane is hugely important to how I feel when we disembark. No one wants to get off the plane with nasty skin and chapped lips!

Next, for my hair, I always wash, condition,  and spritz with a protecting hair oil. Next, I braid it or twirl it into multiple topsy tails while it’s still wet. The key is locking in moisture so that your hair can handle the damage the plane is going to put it through. And, BONUS, when you arrive at your destination releasing the braids or topsy tails, and then finger combing them, will give you great, no-fuss, first day of your trip waves.

Speeding right along to a few other of my favorite flight tips that  have to do with snacks and clothing. Always bring warm socks, always dress in layers with a comfy zip-up sweatshirt or cashmere cardigan. Most importantly, for dress, is leggings. I cannot emphasize enough how much a quality, thick pair of  leggings improve your comfort, but also your circulation. It’s a little crazy, but wearing the tighter pants (while still being comfortable—don’t make yourself a sausage) will actually help prevent your body from swelling as much, working the same way as compression socks. 

Finally, food and entertainment. We never eat plane food. It is mostly constituted of chemicals, and it never tastes good, unless you’re in first class. So, when we are flying coach, we try to bring walnuts, almonds, dried fruit, and  soup bowls. When the flight attendants are circulating the cabin, we just ask for hot water, and voĆ­la, hot food, ready to eat. 

And if your brain is hungry for something besides music or your in-flight movies, bring an e-reader so that you have multiple books to choose from. Might I suggest Wide, Wild, Everywhere  , the perfect book, in my completely biased opinion, for travel. 

Being picky about what we put into our body and minds in the air, guarantees a healthier, more exciting trip after we reach our destination. By taking the time to bring along the right ingredients, you will exit the plane glowing, healthy and ready to take on whatever adventure waiting for you. 

Here's the original post:
Feed the gypsy soul...xx

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Style Lately

Lately I have been so inspired by MuchoMuchoBuenoBueno and their simple styles. I've always been a fan of basics for how easy they coordinate together for travels + adventures, and bringing it more easily into my every day style is wonderful. Sticking with a palette of black, white, grey and blue jeans not only always makes me feel like a fashion classic, it also leaves me less stressed about what to wear. 

Adding interesting shoes like Tieks,  or my Nisolo add a little punch to any ensemble. Likewise, a Bueno Necklace or any interesting gem makes whatever you're wearing pop. 
Anyway, summer is ending, and I find myself reaching gleefully for my jeans, and dreaming of layering for our upcoming trips to Ireland and Copenhagen. 

jeans// Anti-Blue

Ready for Autumn...'cuz Houston is too darn hot! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Paris from the Top of the Tour Eiffel

Ahh, amour. Can the world of Paris be more beautiful than when glimpsed from the top of the tower?

Climb along with me today to tippy-top, and see Paris through my eyes. 

Link to the C2C Central article: Paris from the Top