Wednesday, November 18, 2015


The tragedies in Paris and all over the world have pulled on our heartstrings here in Nolandia. Tears shed, grief still pouring, questions lingering. Why, why, why. But, it is Paris that we are talking about. Resilient, elegant, shining Paris. The city we have planned all year to spend our Christmas in. 

So, we will not be ruled by fear or cowed by terror. Instead, we embrace Paris and hold it close, remembering all of the beauty and strength and grace that it has ever shown us. 

I give you, my favorite Paris quotes:

"I've seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, 
whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again, I thought. 
You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.”
-Ernest Hemingway

"You know, I sometimes think, how is anyone ever gonna come up with a book, or a painting, or a symphony, or a sculpture that can compete with a great city. You can’t. Because you look around and every street, every boulevard, is its own special art form and when you think that in the cold, violent, meaningless universe that Paris exists, these lights. I mean come on, there’s nothing happening on Jupiter or Neptune, but from way out in space you can see these lights, the cafés, people drinking and singing. For all we know, Paris is the hottest spot in the universe. "                       -Owen Wilson Midnight in Paris
"America is my country and Paris is my hometown." -Gertrude Stein

And finally,
Paris is always a good idea.-Audrey Hepburn

xx travelbugs and armchair explorers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Adventure Continues...

Writing a book is like going home. For me, anyway. Because my books are all set in Michigan, it is a cathartic way to walk the trails and see the sights of my youth. The Michigan that made me. But also the Michigan I could only dream about. I loved my state history class in high school, and was enraptured by the tales of Native American legends. Stories that tried to give meaning to landmarks and places that I visited and wondered about myself. 

Moonlight Melodies of Copper & Pine is the second installment of my Starlight Symphonies trilogy. It tells the story of people living on Mackinac Island in 19th century Michigan. The backdrop is Michigan statehood, Native American disenfranchisement and prejudice, and the magic of an island that seems to exist somehow...a little separately from the rest of the world. If you have ever visited Mackinac, you know that it's true. And if you haven't visited, get on it. Seriously, what are you doing with your life?

The Kindle version is available on Pre-order RIGHT NOW and the paperback version will drop on the 14th. (The same day as the Kindle version will sync right to your device if you pre-order) 

I wil leave you with my favorite paragraph from the book, and hopefully it will tickle your imagination so much that you will pre-order. (here's hoping!)

There is a barrier that exists between the living and the dead. A hard line that cannot be stepped over. What is a ghost, but a collection of memories wrapped in smoke and dressed in shade? What is death but a window into another room, a balcony that overlooks the happenings of a present and future that is closed to the dead? 
(excerpted from Moonlight Melodies of Copper & Pine, Alexandria Nolan, copyright protected)

Pre-Order by clicking this link: Moonlight Melodies PRE-ORDER

See you next week for updates + fashion related posts

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Everyone Come See How Good I Look

Ok, so I recently found this company--Brass Clothing-- and I think it's safe to say I'm obsessed. I have purchased 4 of their basic dresses (for not so basic bitches) and every one of them has been a smash hit. And not only with me, but with Mr. Nolandia. 

As I've discussed before, I need high-quality, packable, coordinate-able, easy to wear and care for clothing. And this is it. The jackpot. 

I would easily say that the best part is that they pay for your tailoring to ensure that your dress fits perfectly. And their customer service is a dream. Even answering questions like, "Will this dress look good on me?" And taking it seriously. 

Anyway, if you sign up with your e-mail on their website they'll shoot you  a $10 coupon. This post isn't sponsored or anything, I just really, really, dig these dresses and thought you ladies might as well. 

In conclusion: 
  • Dresses fit like a dream--and if they don't, you can have them tailored on Brass' dime
  • Perfect for suitcase folding and travel ready
  • I look amazing in the above photo
  • They have an interesting business model  that you can read about on their website
  • Did you notice how good I look?
  • The dresses are that perfect mix of sexy/classy/I no longer shop in the junior section
  • Me + Brass Dresses= Hot.

Anyway, just paying the good style forward. Check it out:


Monday, November 2, 2015

Moonlight Melodies of Copper & Pine PRE-ORDER!

Today, for you, I have not only a link to the Kindle pre-order, but also an excerpt from the book. Check it out, and get excited! It's coming!


She had heard the story of her birth so many times, that she almost felt like it was one of her own memories. The tale held a truth about her, an essential part of her being that sounded wonderful when woven out in her mother's singsong words, but didn't cling quite properly to her after the story was done. And so she had always begged for it to be recounted again and again, hoping to recapture something of the enchantment that trilled through her mother’s voice. 

Coralie Marguerite Ravensdale Delacroix was born two months too early. Her father, Jean-Luc, was away on a fishing boat with one of his river men, unusual for Jean, as he preferred the steady strength of the land. But as soon as the paddle of the canoe had grazed the water of the straits, his wife, Cora, had felt the stirring in her belly. She had called for Waseya, the half French-Menominee woman who had been her nurse and teacher when she was a child. The pains came too suddenly, too violently, all the joy of birth hushed in the rushed moments. The babe slipped out quickly, too quickly, an eerie silence greeting what should have been a chaotic and noisy birth. She did not breathe, did not stir, her pine-green eyes frozen in death that had never seen life. 
Waseya had chanted and beat her chest, she had cursed the manitou and wailed that he had cheated his daughter, Coralie's mother Cora, out of one babe already, and that he could not keep the spirit of this new one for himself. She had kicked the doctor out, then she had built up the fire, and cut into her own flesh. This was not tribal magic nor any kind of native tradition. It was a much older enchantment, as old as the earth and older than the sky. Finally, she stuck an arrowhead into the fire and marked her wrinkled cheek with it. She had then marked Cora faintly behind the ear, and the baby's arm with the searing flint. All three women connected by fire and blood and flesh. The manitou spirit had been pleased by the offering, for all of the women contained the power of the island within them, and they had offered a fitting sacrifice. 

Coralie had lived, but was marked forever. Not only by the arrow burned into her arm, but her sandy blonde curls had turned black. And as she grew older, one of her eyes had frozen into a cold, empty blue, while the other was as green as the Mackinac pine. As green as her father's.
And though her name might have been Coralie for her mother, and Marguerite after her grandmother, after that night the manitou knew her only as Raven. 

The bird that straddles both worlds, the living and the dead. 
--excerpted from Moonlight Melodies of Copper & Pine, Alexandria Nolan, 2015copyright protected. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Moonlight Melodies Book GIVEAWAY

Ahhh! The newest book is coming soon! The latest estimate is early November. It's the second book in the Starlight Symphonies series  but you didn't need to read the first book for this one to make sense. Set about 20 years later on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan, the plot centers around Native American injustice and relations, tribal lore, old murders, new murders, tribal rebellion, passion, sacrifice and redemption. It is told from multiple points of view, so the experience of the characters lives on the island can be understood in a fuller sense. From the sweeping beauty of pine boughs and sunlight, to the ugly scenes of revenge and death, I like to think it's a fanciful, but in some ways very real experience of life long ago.

Anyway, you guys, I'm excited about it.

 To celebrate, I am doing a little giveaway on my Instagram. I'm going to be giving away:
 3 Copies of the book
And some specialty authentic Michigan treats--to get you in the Michigan mood!

All you have to do is follow me: @AlexandriaNolandia and Like + tag 3 friends on any of my Giveaway specific photos. You have until October 31-when 8 winners will be announced!

I will be posting up a sneak peek of the Book Blurb next week and releasing a passage or two to whet your appetites for all things historical/romantical/magical--and stay tuned for the book pre-order. It will be available for a special PRE-ORDER only Kindle price before the book drops--don't miss it!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Budapest: On the Town

Looking at the pictures above, it is easy to see how Budapest is a very likely scene for romance. It's unbelievably gorgeous and has just enough Eastern Influence to feel a little exotic to an American. It's clean, the people are by and large, friendly, and MY GOD LOOK AT THAT ARCHITECTURE. 

That being said, we had a wonderful time at the restaurants and wine tastings and night time strolls through the city. There was a lot of hand-holding and smooching, and A LOT of walking through public spaces and seeing the locals drinking. They drank on the church steps and in the park, through plazas and on benches and basically looked to be having a wonderful night every night. Groups of friends getting together and drinking a bottle of wine near the fountain, or really, anywhere. There was an aspect of community and spending time outside on the streets that trumps anything else I'd seen in Europe. The locals were out en force, and seemed to be making the most of the newly (1991) reclaimed city, spending time in the streets, unafraid and jubilant. It was heady, and definitely smile-inducing. A real joie de vivre, for certain. 

Favorite Night-Out on the Town Events & Places:
Costes Restaurant- Michelin Starred. 'Nuff Said.
Parisi 6- we ate here twice. It was just this small, lovely little place with attentive staff and wonderful food. The paprikash was everything I ever wanted.
Zeller Bistro- Family owned, delicious restaurant with a lot of homemade wines. The father of the two owners has a farm up near Lake Balaton and that is where all their recipes + much of their produce and wine hails from. 
Danube Wine Cruise Yes, this is everything you hoped for. 7 wines, 1.5 hours of cruising down the Danube and seeing the sunset and the twinkle of the night lights winking on. The food cruise is supposed to be sub-par, but you can never go wrong with wine. 

So, go. Budapest is exquisite and gorgeous and romantic and inexpensive and lovely. And right now, there are VERY few Americans there. 


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