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9 of the Best Road Trip Snacks with Land of Pleasant Eating

Companies I Love, Food & Drink, On The Road By October 16, 2017 Tags: , , No Comments

As I was preparing to head out on #ourendlessroadtrip, one of the items top of mind for me was obviously road trip snacks! I came across this topic when I was having coffee with Anastasia of Land of Pleasant Eating and I figured I would get her take. Anastasia is a restaurant owner in Baltimore, but she also has an awesome food Instagram and blog in her free time (for all small business owners, yes, I laughed when I typed “free time”). She’s a huge supporter of all small and local businesses, so I knew I would be getting some good recommendations, but I’ll let her speak to it:

anastasia-keramidas-land-of-pleasant-eating

I don’t know what it is about long car rides that make my snacking go from 0 to 100 REAL QUICK – but I’ve perfected my snacking ability due to biannual 24-hour road trips with my family from Baltimore to Key West. Here are my favorite, useful and wholesome road tripping snacks! Some require slight refrigeration to last a long time, but most will be okay in room temperature for a couple days.

Blueberry Quinoa Bars, captured by Anastasia Keramidas, Land of Pleasant Eating

1.

Blueberry Quinoa Bars – Why: Quinoa has many benefits, for example it has twice as much fiber as most other grains, contains lysine, and it is one of the most protein rich foods you can eat! Also, these bars are delicious, nutritious, GF, dairy free AND travel well in slight refrigeration for up to 7 days!

Cherry-Granola-Land-of-Pleasant-Eating

2.

Orange Spiced Granola – Why: Granola is a staple for long car rides, so just dive right into this wholesome, no refined sugar, crunchy goodness! No snacking guilt here.

3.

Trader Joe’s Popcorn – Why: IT IS SO DELICIOUS. Also, popcorn is such a lightweight snack, full of tasty flavors that will satisfy your bored eating.

4.

Gunpowder Bison Snack Sticks – Why: Contains lean proteins, energizing B vitamins, Zinc and Iron! Trust me, this isn’t your average gas station jerky, this stuff is smokey, textured, local and farm raised in Maryland!

Also, Becky’s new favorite is Ayoba-Yo, which can be purchased at Whole Foods or Diamondback Brewing in Baltimore.

Land-of-Pleasant-Eating-Our-Endless-Adventure-Baltimore-20

5.

Unsalted Almonds with Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies. Why: Contain vitamin E, copper, magnesium, high-quality proteins and healthy unsaturated fatty acids! It’s a 2 ingredient trail mix because let’s be real, when you’re adventuring on the open road, there is no better time to embrace your childish roots! Fav Brands for almonds: Vitacost and Woodstock

Land-of-Pleasant-Eating-Our-Endless-Adventure-Baltimore-27

6.

Tangerines/Clementines. Why: Contains high amounts of calcium, Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous! They smell great & give you some vitamins for those long days when you’re feeling groggy and fatigued.

Photo from @madeinnature

7.

Dried Fruits – Why: Dried figs are my favorite – they contain high amounts of beta carotene, vitamin E, niacin, Iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium! Fav Brands Include: Nature’s All Foods, Equal Exchange, Made in Nature, and Woodstock.

Justins-Land-of-Pleasant-Eating-Our-Endless-Adventure-Baltimore

8.

Nut Butter & Fruit Slices! Why: Who doesn’t love peanut butter or almond butter with apple slices? Fav Brands Include: Wild Friends, Trader Joe’s, and Justin’s.

Health-Ade-Land-of-Pleasant-Eating-Our-Endless-Adventure-Baltimore-31

9.

We can’t forget the beverages:

  • Chameleon Cold Brew EspressoWhy: for those long hauls without a local coffee shop around
  • KombuchaWhy: Detoxification, Digestion, Energy! Helps to keep your digestive system happy (sitting down isn’t the BEST position for your gut) AND it gives you a little pep in your step (or wheels). Fav brands: Health-Ade, Baltimore Wild, or any local Kombucha in the areas you’re driving through!

Do you have any favorites road trip snacks we are missing?

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11 Reasons to go on a Summer Road Trip NOW

On The Road, Travel By September 2, 2017 Tags: , , 1 Comment

If you looked at your calendar today, you might have realized it is officially September, say what? If not, you may have seen the hoards of people claiming it to be the last weekend of summer on social media, but I’m here to tell you that they are all liars and then give you 11 reasons why you should go on a summer road trip now!

big-sur-summer-road-trip-adventure

1.

Because the Autumn equinox is not until September 22nd, so that gives you 21 more days of summer. Yes, I love leaves, hoodies, and pumpkin spice lattes as much as the next basic chick, but summer is not over yet. I repeat, it is still summer.

2.

I get that for many, school is starting up for them and/or their kids, which leads them to think summer is over, but last I checked, I don’t have kids, I am not a teacher, and I haven’t been in school for over 9 years (yikes). So that puts me into this little opportunity bubble of September, kid-free, budget-friendly travel. It’s cheaper, it’s quieter, what more can I say?  

point-reyes-trees-california-road-trip

3.

Well, that being said, you’re running out of time. I know, it is an emotional roller coaster over here, but put on your seatbelt. If you’re like me, you’re wondering where on earth August went… and July… wait, what about June? Shit. The days are flying by and you still haven’t taken that summer adventure you were dreaming about posting on Instagram about. If you were waiting for the right time, guess what? It’s right NOW. Literally, put down your cellular device, go grab a bag and throw some clothes in it!

4.

So what are you waiting for? Many of us are fortunate enough to have a car. If not, maybe a friend with a car who can be coerced into a spontaneous adventure? A relative that can be easily guilt-tripped? A guy you met on Tinder who “loves to travel”? At the very least, maybe you can go rent one. I believe in you. 

carmel-by-the-sea-vintage-car-road-trip

5.

And just like that, you’ve happened upon reason #4, roadtrips = freedom. The freedom to stop and go as you please. If you see something cool? Check it out. If you need to pee, stop. Want to stretch your legs? You might get the point by now, but yes, no one is stopping you. You are on your own schedule, unlike traveling via plane or train where you are being told where to be and when to be somewhere. We know how I feel about being told what to do (hint hint: I hate it).

6.

Speaking of, those methods of transportation can get pretty pricey, especially last minute on a holiday weekend. Lucky for you, CNN reports that gas prices are at a 7 year low. Even with a small car gas tanks, you can put in 12 gallons of gas at a current average price of $2.52 per gallon according to AAA. I’m not great at math, but the Washington Post tells me that the average car gets 23.6 miles per gallon and my iPhone calculator tells me that should get you 283.2 miles for only $30.24. Someone check my math, but shit, if you have a Prius, imagine the possibilities! 

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7.

Driving is also one of my favorite ways to discover a new area. You can get a quick feel for a place without wandering too aimlessly in a bad direction, then you can get out and bike, run, or walk around your fav spots. Or you can be a creeper like me and drive through all the gorgeous neighborhoods, pretending in another life you live there, so much more fun than an overcrowded tourist attraction. Just me? Oh okay, this just got weird.

8.

You can also set your own soundtrack. Music = key. It sets the tone and mood of the trip immediately. So much better than that crying baby on the plane or the dude snoring next to you on the train. I use Spotify to discover new songs and create my own playlists. I even made an #ourendlessroadtrip playlist for you to check out. It includes some of my fav road trip songs, from very literal interpretations (yes, Life is Highway is on there) to anything that just feels right to drive to. Any good ones I am missing? Let me know! 

9.

Besides music, food is clutch. No road trip is complete without snacks. In the car, you don’t have to buy an overpriced dry deli sandwich from the food court inside security or abide by any 3 oz checked bag rule. You can bring your own food and drinks, you can indulge in your gas station guilty snack pleasures, or you can find your new favorite roadside diner. You could even tailor an entire road trip around places to eat. You do you! I’ll have some of Land of Pleasant Living’s favorite road trip snacks hitting the blog soon, stay tuned!

10.

Road trips are the perfect example of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s or whoever-that-person-on-Instagram-who-posts-quotes-too-much claimed said “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” If you disagree, please refer to reason #4, you can stop wherever you want! For instance, if you see a 49 foot Paul Bunyon, you can stop. I suggest you do.

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11.

Then, once you get to said destination, you can make what you want of it. You can tow a camper like us! You can camp out of your car for all I care. Rent a treehouse on Airbnb. Splurge on a baller ass hotel room. Or just turn around and go home to sleep in your own bed. Day trips are better than no trips.

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And just like that, I’m at 11 reasons. I could go on all day about why you should go on a summer road trip right now, but Google tells me that odd number lists perform better than even numbers, so I’mma stop right here. You’re welcome. Hope to see you (or at least your Instagram stories) on the road.

Drive on,

Becky-Stavely-Our-Endless-Adventure

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Terra’s Kitchen on the Road & Giveaway

Companies I Love, Food & Drink, On The Road By August 14, 2017 Tags: , , , No Comments

Hello from Port Townsend, Washington! 3,777 miles, 12 states, 3 time zones and too many smores later, I was ready for some downtime in this adorable historic town. After a day of exploring the Victorian houses and maritime setting, I was pretty thrilled to see a Terra’s Kitchen vessel sitting on the doorstep of my Airbnb. Terra’s Kitchen is a healthy food delivery service with fresh, pre-chopped ingredients, based out of my hometown of Baltimore, but shipping to customers all over the US. Read on for your chance to win $75 in Terra’s Kitchen credit. 

Terra's Kitchen Baltimore Meal Delivery

Traveling is an amazing way to try new foods, but it can also be tough. I find that I am either absorbing myself into a new city, sometimes overindulging in restaurants or I am eating quick and easy meals on-the-go or at my campsite, which often is just hot dogs and baked beans. This can be delicious, but after 2 weeks, it can take a toll and at the very least, makes me crave some fresh veggies.

Terras-Kitchen-Meal-Delivery

Terra’s Kitchen is my fav new way to eat when I’m on the road. I was able to schedule a delivery to my Airbnb address, not having to worry about looking up recipes, finding a grocery store, or even chopping the ingredients. Not only that, the meals are all simple enough, that I could even cook it in my tiny Airbnb kitchen. All of this would have been taken away from my exploring and I still ended up with a delicious meal. Leaving me the time to simply enjoy the Buddha Bowl and share my memories on some postcards to home.

Terras-Kitchen-Buddha-Bowl-Meal-Delivery

Not only that, the Terra’s Kitchen’s folks filled up my vessel with a ton of easy grab-n-go items, like Revolution Food bento boxes, pre-made salads, fruit, cheese and crackers. We are all ready to hit the road down the coast now! I might even attempt to cook a Seared Tuna Poke Bowl in a Tipi on the coast of Oregon. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Terras-Kitchen-Meal-Delivery

Now for the fun giveaway part – the kind folks at Terra’s Kitchen and I want to share the food love with YOU. Enter below for your chance to win $75 in Terra’s Kitchen credit! You can also comment on my Facebook and Instagram posts for more chances to win. Winner will be randomly selected and announced on Friday, 8/18. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Made the odds be ever in your favor!

Becky-Stavely-Our-Endless-Adventure

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Celebrating #OurEndlessRoadTrip with Ice Cream Cake!

Companies I Love, Food & Drink By July 31, 2017 Tags: , , No Comments

Helloooo from the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. Stop #1 on a 10 week road trip across the United
States of America. Why Southwestern Pennsylvania? Because Chris and I got married here 4 years ago at
the Barn at Fallingwater. For architecture nerds, yes, it is on the property of THE Fallingwater,
designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. For my outdoorsy folks, it is a great destination for a weekend of hiking, biking, and white water rafting.

Fallingwater Frank Lloyd Wright With Love & Embers

Throwback to our wedding! Photo Credit: With Love & Embers

When the folks over at I Love Ice Cream Cakes asked if I wanted to celebrate the kickoff of
#ourendlessroadtrip with an ice cream cake, I couldn’t say no. Literally, I think Chris would be very, very
upset if I turned down ice cream, especially when in cake format. Or worse, disappointed in me.

Oreo I Love Ice Cream Cake
While we found ourselves coming across challenge after challenge to get Cleo the Camper on the road
(tour coming soon!), it was super easy to use the product locator to find the nearest ice cream
cake. We swung by Martin’s Food Market in Connellsville, PA and picked up an Oreo® Ice Cream Cake
on the way to our campsite at Yough Lake Campground. If you’re back home in the Baltimore area, you can
find these ice cream cakes at Safeway, Giant, Harris Teeter, Target and many others.

While I went for the Oreo® because I am a sucker for anything with that cookie involved, next
time I want to try out their new Carvel® Ice Cream Cookie Cake, a dream combo if I say so myself. You
can discover their other flavors, read party tips, or sign up to be a part of their Crunchie Club for coupons and other info.

Oreo Ice Cream Cake
We loved how our Oreo® Ice Cream Cake made it easy to celebrate big moments, like a 10 week
road trip, or the little ones, like #cleothecamper surviving her first flash flood (okay, maybe that wasn’t
so little). Don’t forget to head over to my Facebook page for the chance to win
vouchers for $50 worth of I Love Ice Cream Cakes. I wanna know, what would you celebrate?

Oreo Ice Cream Cake
*Sponsored by I Love Ice Cream Cakes. As always though, all thoughts are my own.*

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Cabot Creamery Keeps It Real + Your Chance To Win LOTS of Cheese

At Home, Companies I Love By July 10, 2017 Tags: , , 1 Comment

Cabot-Creamery-Cheese-Our-Endless-Adventure-4

One morning I received an email about attending a lunch in DC with Cabot Creamery and I knew I had somehow ended up on the right path. This may sound ridiculous, but if you know me, you know how much I love cheese. So much so, that in high school, I had a patch sewn on my mustard yellow Jansport backpack that had a drawing of a block of cheese and it simply said “CHEESE.” Probably purchased from Hot Topic. At the time, as an awkward high schooler who had not embraced her introvertedness yet, I thought this was the best authentic representation of myself. If I look at who I am still friends with from high school, I like to think this is how they knew they wanted to be friends with me. I wish I had a photo to share with you. 

Back to the matter at hand though, CHEESE. Yes, prior to this lunch, I had heard of and tasted Cabot Creamery. I knew they made some good cheese, but I really didn’t know to what extent. After many tastes, in sandwich form, biscuit form, in build-your-own-mac-n-cheeses form, I learned they have won almost every major award for taste including the “World’s Best Cheddar.” Yep, that is an award and they have won it. They have also won “Our Endless Adventure’s Favorite Cheese,” you might not have heard of these awards yet, but trust me, it’ll be a thing… just wait, you’ll see.

Did You Know?

Beyond that, one of the most interesting things I learned is that Cabot Creamery is actually a co-operative made of over 1,100 farm families in the New England and New York area. If you are not familiar with what a co-operative is, the US Small Business Administration defines it as “a business or organization owned by and operated for the benefit of those using its services. Profits and earnings generated by the cooperative are distributed among the members, also known as user-owners.” Basically, when you buy and eat cheese from Cabot Creamery, you are directly supporting the farm families that make your beloved cheese. They get paid to do what they love, you get to eat what you love. Win-win. I would love to go on an adventure to see some of these farms soon! 

Jenni Tilton-Flood of Flood Brothers Farm

I had the pleasure of meeting one of the Cabot Creamery farmers as well, Jenni Tilton-Flood of the Flood Brothers Farm. Jenni is the daughter of a John Deere salesman and while she followed her dream of adventuring out of her hometown, she had the urge to return home to farm, where she then fell in love with a local farmer’s son. I can’t make this adorable story up.

“I’m not just another corner of the earth, I’m where your food comes from.” – Jenni Tilton-Flood, Flood Brothers Farm.

Her family’s farm now makes delicious cheese and she captures little ordinary bits of her day that become extraordinary moments. You should totally follow her on Instagram for those. I love her cow photos. I also love that Jenni said there are farmers that literally know the name and history of every single cow on their farm off the top of their head, which is often hundreds of cows. That is some cow love.

“As any dairy cow would tell you if she could, she who is most productive is she who is most contented.” Photos Taken By Jenni Tilton-Flood

Your Turn For a Cabot Cheese Party

To me, the fact they are a co-operative also adds a certain level of legitimacy, these families are inspired to bring you the best product with the best taste that will carry on their legacy. They literally have a Legacy Collection. In fact, Cabot Creamery and I have teamed up to bring that collection to you! We are giving away one Cabot gift box, including:

  • 2- 6oz. Legacy Collection Alpine Cheddar
  • 2- 6oz. Legacy Collection Farmhouse Reserve Cheddar
  • 2- 6oz. Legacy Collection White Oak Cheddar
  • 1- 6oz. Legacy Collection NY Vintage
  • 1- 8oz. Seriously Sharp Cheddar
  • 1 Legacy Cheese Knife
  • 1 Legacy Wine opener
  • 1 Cabot Cookbook

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Enter to Win Today

Yep, that’s a lot of cheese. The best of their best, all of the cheddars that honor and celebrate Cabot’s cheesemaking legacy in the most mouthwatering way imaginable. Get ready to practice your cheeseboard skills and have a cheese party! I’d highly recommend some wine, charcuterie, and good friends to share it with. For the chance to win, use the widget below to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. You can even tag a cheese loving friend for another chance to win! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Each action is an additional entry for you. No purchase is necessary. You may enter through Sunday, July 16th. One winner will be chosen at random, announced, and notified on Monday, July 17th. Cabot Creamery will mail the prize directly to the winner. The winner can then do a little happy dance, keep all the cheese for themselves (I totally get it), or invite some friends over for a cheese party! Either way, I want to see some cheese photos on Instagram tagged #ourendlessadventure and #cabotcheese.  

 

Stay Cheesy,

Becky-Stavely-Our-Endless-Adventure

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Float Therapy Review | Are Sensory Deprivation Tanks For You?

City Adventures, Lifestyle, On The Road By May 31, 2017 Tags: , , , , , 1 Comment
Float-Therapy-Pure-Sweat-Studio-Nashville-Isolation-Tank

Image From Pure Sweat + Float Studio Website

I first heard about “floating” from some co-workers a couple years ago. During our conversation, there were a couple of people who had done it before and spoke highly of it. On the other hand, there were quite a few people who had never done it and thought it sounded weird. That quickly intrigued me, but I didn’t get around to trying it until this past week. Read on to hear what floating is, why you should do it, and my experience! I’ll let you know if I plan on trying it again.

What is Float Therapy?

Float therapy is when a you occupy a tank or pod that is designed for short term sensory deprivation. The tank of water is heated to body-temperature and filled with thousands of pounds epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) in order to make you completely buoyant. It is often combined with a light-less and sound-free atmosphere for an ultimate sensory-free experience.

These tanks were originally created in the 1950s by neuropsychologists, gaining popularity in the 1970s, and with a more mainstream resurgence recently. Float tanks are also known as Isolation Tanks or Sensory Deprivation Tanks. Although, the not so friendly thoughts around the words “isolation” and “deprivation” have led to a rebranding as “floating” or REST, which stands for “restricted environment stimulation technique.”

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Why Should You Float?

Sounds pretty crazy, huh? Perhaps, but it definitely caught my attention. These tanks can create a powerful environment to force the brain to take a break from endless thoughts and technology. I have heard that it can be comparable to (if not better than) meditation, yoga, and even drugs.

Float therapy has been connected with a number of benefits for the brain and body. It has been said that the sensory deprivation can slow brain waves until they reach the theta state, which is similar to the state attained during meditation.

With my, what some may call, “monkey brain” jumping around from idea to idea, topped off with a layer of anxiety, and occasional bout of insomnia for good measure, I am always ready to try new ways to slow down and enjoy life. Not to mention, many have seen spikes in creativity after sessions, perhaps from giving your brain some much needed time to reboot and refresh. I have even heard of creativity being compared to a deer, if you become very still and quiet, it is more likely to show its face. You officially have my attention, float therapy.

Potential Benefits from Float Therapy

  • Induce deep relaxation and alleviate anxiety
  • Reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels
  • Relieve pain on the back, joints, and sore muscles, manage chronic pain
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase hair and skin health
  • Alleviate insomnia

My Float Tank Experience

As I mentioned, it took me two years from first learning about floating to actually pull the trigger. A few things that held me back: the idea of getting in a small tank filled with water for a long period of time, discovering that my slightly possible claustrophobia is actually real after paying a good chunk of change, and the lack of options in the Baltimore area. But I often hear that all the fun is outside our comfort zones, so hey, I went for it.

I had some extra time when I was in Nashville and had come across Pure Sweat + Float Studio in an article. They just opened a few months ago and the photos looked quite nice, a lovely mix of boho and spa. Not too fancy, but reputable, so I made an appointment online. For first time floaters, it is $75, so at least it was a little less for my first experience.

As I was approaching the new location in Belle Meade (the super swanky, old money side of town), I passed 2 wine bars, 2 juice bars, a yoga studio, and a few high-end boutiques. I was on my way to try something new and while I like all of those things, I was quickly feeling out of place. Spoiler alert: I’m not very swanky or luxury-seeking. Also, hello to the very anxiety I was there to reduce.

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My worries were quickly put to ease though when I walked into Pure Sweat + Float Studio. It is a very welcoming serene environment and I was greeted by some friendly faces. I was taken back to one of the float rooms and had the full process explained to me. I was to pop in some earplugs and rinse off in the private shower prior to getting into the pod, which was about 5 feet wide, 8 feet long, and a few feet deep.

The state-of-the-art Evolution Float Pods at Pure Sweat + Float Studio offered some customizable settings based on my personal preferences. I had the option of keeping the lid open, dimming the lights, and playing some music, or I could lower the lid for a more sensory-free experience. I went for the latter. I figured if I was going to do it, I was going to fully do it. The lid intentionally does not fully close or latch, plus it has a bit of height even when closed, which eased my potential claustrophobia.

I don’t know what I expected, but with the amount of epsom salt, you truly float right up to the surface. It was really cool gravity-free feeling. They had a little floating plastic ring I could put my head in to ensure my face stayed above the surface, which made my neck ache at first as I adjusted my posture forced by my buoyancy, but that passed. I had a dry towel on hand just in case any water got close to my eyes and I quickly took myself through some meditations to help jump into relaxation.

For my first time, I think I was a little distracted by the experience to get into a deep meditative state that I know I can reach, but I can see the potential there and would love to try again now that I know the drill. At some point, with the heat, it felt a bit stuffy, but I easily cracked the lid without taking away from my relaxation. Despite it being very exploratory, I still found myself forgetting about my worries and to-do’s. I tried my best to not let my brain go down the road of all the reasons why I should open a float studio in Baltimore. Before I knew it, the 60 minutes was up, the lights were automatically easing back on and a relaxing voice recording was telling me to exit and rinse off. I left feeling very refreshed and seriously ready to sleep (even though I had to head to the airport to fly home and was greeted with a 2 hour delay, hello reality).

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First Timer Suggestions

  • Show up early for the paperwork and a walk through, ask for a rundown if they don’t readily explain the process to you.
  • Be prepared to shower on location before (to remove the oils) and after (to rinse off the salt), typically places have shampoo, conditioner and towels, but bring a brush.
  • Don’t shave the day of, especially if you have sensitive skin. It will burn.
  • Wear loose clothing and sandals/flip flops to easily hop in and out comfortably.

Overall, I would suggest going into the session with a low expectations. Don’t seek a life-changing experience your first time because like meditation and yoga, it takes time and practice to reach that. However, do give yourself the opportunity to rest and recover and see what benefits it can bring you personally! While I am not going to add this into my weekly routine, I think I will try it every few months to help press the reset button. Now to convince Pure Sweat + Float studio to open a Baltimore location!

Please note: I am not a doctor of any sort (surprise, surprise). If you want more medically proven information, I would recommend doing what we all do: google it. Also, this is not a sponsored post. As always, thoughts and opinions are all my own.

 

Float On,

Becky-Stavely-Our-Endless-Adventure

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DIY Instagram Wall | Travel Decor with Parabo Press

At Home, Lifestyle, Photography By May 12, 2017 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

Baltimore-Rowhome-New-House

Hello everyone! As some of you might know, Chris and I moved into a new house about two years ago. We were considering rehabbing a row home in Baltimore, but all of the row home shells were getting swiped up before they even hit the market. While frustrating, we took that as a good sign for the neighborhood and expanded our search to partial fixer-uppers and turn-key properties. Our realtor was great and was ready to jump on any home we found (shout out to Andrew with the SURE Sales Group!). We ended up finding a newly gutted and rehabbed home in our ideal area, complete with a historic tax credit, parking and a rooftop deck, all of the Baltimore must-haves for us. Andrew & I FaceTimed Chris through it while he was on a work trip in Nashville (I was not missing out on this beauty) and soon thereafter it was all ours. While I couldn’t live out my own Chip & Jojo Fixer Upper dream, with the house being recently rehabbed, all we needed to concentrate on was decor!

Now How to Decorate Our New Home?

If you haven’t noticed yet, I LOVE taking photos, especially while traveling. For me, it is tough to decide what to hang on our walls because I want to display and remember it all! I love gallery walls because you can hang many pieces in one area, but I was quickly finding I was running out of wall space… welcome to living in a row home. Then the idea came to me, an Instagram wall! 

Baltimore-Rowhome-House-Decor-Design

Our guest room, pre-Instagram wall, Sydney thinks it needs just a little more love.

Our guest room was one of the last spaces we decorated. It’s not that I don’t love hosting guests and making them feel comfortable, I just changed my plans with the space as we were trying to use our extra bedroom as a guest room/gym/storage/eventual office when there might be little Stavelys running around and we cannot have a dedicated office (not yet, y’all). City living at its finest. We ended up purchasing two twin beds and putting them in an L shape to give it a living room/loungey feel, while still accommodating 2 guests AND leaving enough space for Chris to jump around with P90X AND room for my bike on a trainer. Always inspired by always fabulous DesignSponge.

Since we went the direction of two twin beds, we had this extra pallet headboard that Chris had created for our last home. While he was ready to give it up, I really liked it and figured we could repurpose it into wall art. A quick chop chop with a circular saw and we had the perfect size to hang over the dresser in the guest room. I had seen a ton of ways to display your Instagram photos on Pinterest and a friend had recommended Parabo Press, so we were well on our way to have our own IRL Instagram feed.

How to Print Your Photos

Instagram-Wall-DIY-Square-Prints-Parabo-Press-2

The Parabo Press app is super user friendly.

Parabo-Press-Instagram-Wall-DIY

The prints get shipped with cardboard in a plastic sleeve to protect your prints from all that happens in transit.

It was my first time using Parabo Press and they could not have made it easier. You can use their app or their website to connect your Instagram feed and quickly choose the 25 prints you want. You can also upload from your camera roll, Dropbox, Google photos, or Facebook if you want different photos. Our guest room colors are slightly muted/vintage reds, whites, and blues, so I chose photos based on those colors.

The photos arrived in a package that protected the prints from bending and rain to ensure they looked their best. There were even some adorable surprise prints that could be used as “coupons” for Mother’s Day. I love a company that goes the extra mile.

How to Create the Instagram Wall

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Then I got to work on my IRL Instagram feed. I wanted them to be a grid format (like IG), so I measured out the space I had and how many 4″ prints I wanted going across and down, opting for 4 across and 5 down. I decided to use mini-clothespins from Michaels to hang the photos because I thought it looked cute and they easily give me the flexibility to swap out the prints whenever I want.

I used a ruler and marker to measure and mark where to glue the clothespins. I ended up doing 2″ between each print, which meant 6″ from clothespin to clothespin (both across and down). I left a little extra space on the bottom because typically I have a lamp and clock on the dresser and I didn’t want the prints to be completely blocked.

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Now two years later, it’s safe to say are ALMOST done decorating… but let’s be real, decorating your home is never done. I like to think it’s a constant work in progress as you find different ways to make a house feel like your home. Plus, I love bringing back art and printing photos like these from our travels so that we can constantly be reminded of our adventures together. Travel is great in the sense that you ultimately get 3 different experiences, from the anticipation and planning to the experiencing and exploring to the memories and taking what you learned into the rest of your life.

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Please note: Parabo Press did not sponsor or compensate me for this review and all opinions are 100% my own as always. But I totally recommend them AND they are offering my followers 25 free 4″ square prints with free shipping for one month, that means it’s totally FREE. Use code OURSQ before 6/12/2017 to start your own IRL Instagram feed!

Looking for more home inspiration? Check out my Pinterest board for our home!

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Meet Renee – Baltimore Blogger Shares How She Makes Travel a Priority

Baltimore, Destinations, Photography, Portraits, Travel By April 24, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , , No Comments

As many of us know, travel doesn’t just happen. It costs money and takes time, but it is so incredibly worth it. I recently met up with a friend and local blogger, Renee Beck, who seems to have perfected how to consciously make travel a priority in her life. I asked her to share how she plans travel to make the most of her trips, time, and money. I’ll also share some of her go-to travel resources and how she finds inspiration. I’ll leave you with some of Renee’s favorite travel spots, what destinations are next on her list, and what should be added to your travel bucket list. She also let me capture a few portraits of her at one of her favorite neighborhood coffee shops, Order & Chaos Coffee

Baltimore Travel Blog Portrait Photographer

Renee at Order & Chaos, Baltimore MD

Baltimore Blogger, PR Maven, and My Unofficial Life Coach

Renee and I met when I first interviewed for OrderUp, turns out we already followed each other on Instagram, so naturally our friendship budded from there. We often worked side by side, collaborating where our roles met on social media, launches, and other marketing strategies, all while eating Kinderhook cookies and encouraging each other on our workout plans. It’s all about balance, people.

She now works at Terra’s Kitchen, an amazing meal delivery service that makes eating healthy food easy and delicious. Beyond work, I feel like Renee is always going to the coolest events and destinations in Baltimore and beyond. When she isn’t sharing her travel adventures and fun around Baltimore, her Instagram account is often showing her husband’s hilarious notes and her cat’s silly antics. While Renee and I share a lot in common when it comes to traveling, it dawned on me at a dinner with our friends that our tactics are a little different than others and thought that might be good to share.

Renee and Steve in Arizona

6 Actual Ways to Make Travel a Priority

Despite what some may think it, travel doesn’t just happen seamlessly like it may appear on Instagram and it often requires planning, unless you are truly a go with the flow kind of person (spoiler alert: not me, not Renee). Planning trips can require attention to detail, lots of decision-making, and figuring out a budget – some things that a lot of people like to avoid doing. That being said, even though it costs money, Renee and I both agree that should never be a hindering factor as there are ways around that.

Renee didn’t travel much when she was growing up, but quickly got the travel bug in her early 20s. More recently, Renee was lucky enough to work at a job where she got to travel a lot domestically. (Shoutout to OrderUp!) We both had the benefit of unlimited PTO, which for Renee, “even though I didn’t actually take any more time than usual, it made travel feel more accessible.” Many of Renee’s friends also love to travel and after hearing about their adventures, she decided to stop seeing barriers to travel and started to say, “This is important to me. I’ll make it happen.” More tactically, here is some advice from Renee to help make travel a priority:

  • Create a separate savings account: Renee and her husband, Steve, have one account that they use only for travel. They agree on a certain amount to put in each month. It started very small — maybe $25-50/pp each month — but as they’ve made travel more of a priority, they have amped up their monthly savings significantly.
  • Use tax refunds for travel: Not everyone gets refunds or likes to, but Renee and Steve always designate any amount they get back directly to their travel savings.
  • Get a travel rewards credit card: Renee got the Southwest credit card for the 50K bonus points and had 136K by the end of her first year. She pays for EVERYTHING (including some bills) on the card. She recently switched to the Chase Sapphire to take advantage of another 50K sign up and double points in dining and travel. It takes control because it’s easy to lose track of your spending, so you do have to monitor yourself. Also, this is only recommended if you have strong credit.
  • Budget the rest of your life: Renee has kept a really, really detailed spreadsheet of her spending money since 2010. It sounds crazy, but she can look at it each month and note where she is spending too much and where she can cut back to put money toward the travel fund. Renee is not guessing where her money goes.
  • Keep an eye out: Renee subscribes to emails from sites like Travelzoo and occasionally checks out deals. You can go to Paris from Baltimore this spring/fall for $400 roundtrip!
  • Look for work travel opportunities: Renee has been able to take advantage of work travel; when her husband is sent to London for work, she joins (free flight and hotel for him) and they extend the trips after his work week. When she’s traveled for work domestically, they have done the same. She’s even had day trips to NYC on Amtrak and stopped over in Philly on the way to have dinner with a friend. As long as prices are the same, employers usually have no problem with you tacking on personal travel.
Renee Beck Baltimore Travel Blog Portraits

Renee at Order & Chaos, Baltimore MD

Go-To Travel Resources

Can you imagine planning a vacation or trip back before internet existed or even just 5-10 years ago before so many websites and apps existed? Lucky for us, that is no longer the case, but now it can sometimes feel like there is too much out there. Where do you start? For inspiration and planning, Renee would highly recommend the following:

  • TripAdvisor – Renee is a big fan of this site for reviews and traveler photos.
  • Hipmunk – Renee loves Hipmunk for flight searches; you can search by typical things like price and time, but also “agony.” She finds the user experience to be much more pleasant than other flight search sites.
  • Hotels.com or RocketMiles – Renee uses Hotels.com (for free nights) or RocketMiles (for Southwest points) when booking hotels and Airbnb when she wants to stay in a home.
  • Visit A City – Renee’s favorite planning site and app is Visit A City, which offers adjustable itineraries based on your pace, what you want to see, etc. It will help you figure out what’s closest and when things are closed. She has found this super helpful when traveling in Europe.
  • Instagram – Renee spends a lot of time searching Instagram before trips and follows people who are posting from where she is planning on going. She finds it’s one of the best ways to get local info, especially about food. There are also particular things that she always looks for when traveling, so she’ll use Instagram to seek those, like markets, food halls, and architecture. It’s even easier with Instagram’s new Collections feature!
Florence Italy Travel Blog

Renee’s Photos from Florence, Italy

Favorite Places You Should Add to Your Bucketlist

  • Florence – Hands down, Renee’s favorite place. The people are friendly, the city is walkable, and the food is amazing. She said it felt like every turn was another Instagram-worthy pic. Not to mention, the best pasta of her life and amazing wine for only $4/glass. Read more about her trip on her blog.
  • Barbados – A very, very different and a very, very close second. The beaches are white sand, the people are so warm, and the views are truly jaw-dropping. It’s also further south and east, so not as many Americans go there, which gave it a less touristy feel for them.
  • Boulder – Renee went to Boulder years ago for work and had only a few hours to check out Pearl Street, the downtown mall. It was so charming and she loved the juxtaposition of the mountains in the background. Renee is not an outdoorsy person, but she knew that her husband, Steve, would totally love it. When she was in Denver two years ago for another work trip that coincided with Steve’s birthday, she extended her time there and he flew out to join her. They spent a day in Denver and 3 days in Boulder and Renee fell IN LOVE. Learn more about their trip, split into Hiking & Running and Eating & Sleeping. (Remember, it’s all about balance!

What Destination is Next?

Renee and Steve just booked a week in Tulum, Mexico. A few friends have gone and she kept seeing pics on Instagram. It’s a smaller beach town south of Cancun that hasn’t become as developed as other areas of Riveria Maya. Also, those Hotels.com points are getting them a free night, they’re using Sapphire points to rent a car, and Southwest points are covering the flights!

Light City Festival Baltimore Maryland

Renee’s Photos from Light City 2017

Why Baltimore Should Be On Your Bucket List

Last but definitely not least, I wanted to hear Renee’s perspective about the city we both call home, Baltimore, and why she thinks you should make Baltimore a destination for your travels in 2017. I couldn’t agree more with Renee when she said so much is happening here in Baltimore! Here are a few of the top reasons that came to her mind:

  • The food scene is extraordinary; we have James Beard award-winning chefs and teams that are taking some really cool risks to make Baltimore a hot dining destination. Some of Renee’s favorites are Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen and La Cuchara (she fell in love with Basque food after visiting Spain).
  • There are so many charming neighborhoods, some of her favorites being Federal Hill, Fells Point, Hampden, and the up-and-coming Remington.
  • We also just wrapped up the second annual Light City, an amazing light installation show and conference, which is the first of its kind in the US. Mark your calendars for April 2018!
  • Since Renee is an architecture geek, she had to mention that Baltimore is known for its adaptive reuse projects and all of it’s historic buildings. She recommends checking out Silo Point, a former grain silo; the new Pendry Hotel, a historic recreation pier; and Bar Vasquez, once an operating train depot.
  • Plus, Baltimore is affordable! You’re not going to break the bank while having an awesome experience.
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Renee at Order & Chaos, Baltimore MD

A big thanks to Renee for taking some time to chat through her favorite spots, travel tips, and next adventures. You can follow along on her journey at @reneelbeck or on her blog. Hope you were able to take a few travel tips away from this post and it helps to inspire your next adventure!

 

Until Next Time,

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A Look Back on 2016 in Photos

Art, At Home, Baltimore, City Adventures, Destinations, Engagements, Food & Drink, Lifestyle, On The Road, Outdoor Adventures, Photography, Travel, Weddings By January 23, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

It may have taken me a little longer to put this post together for many reasons, but mainly because I got a little lost in reminiscing through it all. 2016 was a big year. It was filled with travels, decisions, friends, milestones, and lots of memories. I’ve heard that the only time to look back is to see how far you’ve come and before I fully kick it into 2017 (yes, I know it is already the 22nd of January), let’s take a look back on 2016 together.

austin1

The year kicked off with a trip to Austin, Texas – where I immediately felt at home with all of the delicious food and funky street art. Ironically, I took a picture of the weather sign while there was nearly 2 ft of snow falling at home in Maryland.

Niece

Despite the snowstorm threat, my brother and sister-in-law had their second child once it all calmed down. Needless to say, we all fell in love.

Nashville-5

I had the opportunity to join my husband in Nashville, which is basically his second home with work travels. I was cool with Nashville becoming my second home for a bit too.

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Especially with all of the cool murals and delicious food in East Nashville. My mouth is now watering for some Hot Chicken and biscuits.

Key-West

We headed to the southernmost city in the US to celebrate a good friend’s 30th birthday. Not much can compare to a friendship that has lasted for over 20 years. Something like that deserves a trip to Key West! Pineapple drinks for all. Even the roosters in the streets were ready to celebrate.

Puerto-Rico

We had the chance to go to Puerto Rico to visit our friend’s amazing home in Vieques with a quick stop in Old San Juan. I. Need. To. Go. Back. If you want in on the good times and laid back vibes, look up the Oreanda!

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2016 was the first year of Light City, a festival of light, music & innovation in Baltimore. From the light installations to the energy on the streets to the official Light City cocktail, it was a very special time for this city. I am honored to be involved with making 2017 bigger, bolder & brighter.

Denver1

Our endless adventure then took us to Denver, Colorado – the mile high city. The food, the music, the beer, everything, Denver rocks, especially the Red Rocks. (hey oh)

Chitown

A good friend recently moved to Chicago, Illinois and she gave us the best tour of all the best spots in just under 48 hours. Must return for more deep dish.

Savannah2

What better way to celebrate a friend getting married than to discover a new city together? Savannah was full of beautiful sights, ghosts, and coffee. Thanks for having us, Georgia!

Rehoboth

Then said friend had a perfectly intimate and loved filled wedding in Rehoboth Beach, which I had the honor of capturing. I can’t wait to capture more intimate weddings in 2017.

Loch-Fells

As the maid-of-honor AND engagement photographer, I was super excited when my good friend and her fiance had no issue taking an adventure into the woods of Loch Raven Reservoir and then to the piers of Fells Point. Can’t wait for June 2017!

torchystaco

When I visited Austin earlier in the year, I knew I had to come back. At the very least, for the tacos. Torchy’s Tacos does not mess around.

Austin

I also wanted some of my closest ladies to experience Austin with me. From kayaking to mural hunting to getting down on Rainey Street, a huge thanks to them and the city of Austin for making my 30th birthday one that I will not forget.

San-Diego

We couldn’t forget to celebrate Chris and his birthday. San Diego seemed like a good choice. While the sunshine, beers, and tacos were amazing, it was even more wonderful to catch up with high school and college friends. Thanks for living in paradise so we can visit often.

Baltimore

In between trips, there is always more to explore in Baltimore. 2016 was a big year for @thebmorecreatives. It feels like their event at the National Aquarium was ages ago. Chris and I also fully enjoyed heading back to our old ‘hood to enjoy the lights.

Madiera

As if 2016 didn’t have enough fun packed in, one of my dearest friends, who I have know since I was about… 6 months old, decided to get married on New Year’s Eve in Madeira, a tiny Portuguese island off the coast of Africa. We couldn’t say no.

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It was a truly a magical island and a magical night. I’d like to find other words to describe it, but magical is really nailing it.

Home

But at the end of every trip, there is nothing like snuggling up with my little family at our home in Baltimore. Not pictured: our spotted pup that I was cuddling.

Looking forward to 2017 and all that it will bring.

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Miracle on 34th Street | Hampden Neighborhood Guide

Art, Baltimore, City Adventures, Destinations, Food & Drink By December 5, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , 2 Comments

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You may have heard of the classic Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street, but have you ever been to THE Miracle on 34th Street? Every year, a crazy wonderful amount of homemade and store-bought holiday decorations light up a block of 34th Street in the neighborhood of Hampden, Baltimore. The lights go live the weekend after Thanksgiving and you should definitely take the time to check them out before New Years.

For those coming in from out of the neighborhood, as a past Hampden resident, I must insist that you do not try and drive through. For one, it is nearly impossible. You either end up spending too much time waiting in a long car line or the road might be closed. Also, you must explore the neighborhood! I wanted to pull together a few of my favorite spots to help guide visitors, but picking my favorite spots in Hampden is like picking a favorite child, so I brought in a few local Hampden lovers.

charmcitycookMeet Amy, also known as the @CharmCityCook. Amy is a consultant and blogger, who loves the weirdness of her neighborhood of Hampden.

 

louMeet Lou, who many have dubbed the unofficial mayor of Hampden. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to get a trike ride from him to the lights, synchronized to music of course.

 

alyshaMeet Alysha, who helps to share what’s happening around Baltimore through @DiscoverCharmCity. Alysha suggests that you take your time to look through all that Hampden has to offer.

 

 

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First Things First, Where Do I Park?

If you come earlier in the day, you will have better luck finding some street parking. Otherwise, there is plenty of metered parking along 36th street (fondly known as “The Avenue”) and some down Chestnut Avenue. For easiest parking, check out the parking information here

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‘Tis The Season for Giving, Check Out the Shops for Gifts

I highly recommend to come earlier in the day and do some of your holiday shopping. Amy suggests that your first stop be her favorite shop, Trohv, a home and gift shop. It is my personal favorite for finding the perfect gift for friends and family. Lou recommends checking out the painted crabshells from Razzo for a truly unique gift. Some other great shops to include (but are not limited to):

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My Food Market favorite, the Buffalo Pickles

Before the Hanger Hits, Find Some Dinner

All of that shopping would lead anyone to have quite an appetite and you are in luck, Hampden has many dining options. If Amy had her pick, you would find her at the bar of The Food Market, enjoying a delicious dinner and a martini. I would also recommend reservations if you are looking for a table.

If You Are Looking for a More Casual Dinner

  • Luigi’s Italian Deli is one of my personal favorites. While passing owners throughout the years, it remains a staple in Hampden. I love the Italian Cold Cut, but you will hear many rave about the Scooch or the Chub.
  • You will find one of the largest Royal Farms right on the Avenue. RoFo can be quite family friendly and affordable when you are exploring with kids, especially since there is seating and the fanciest Royal Farms ceiling you’ll ever see. (Update: It wasn’t named the best fast food fried chicken by Food & Wine for no reason.)
  • Lou recommends holding out for the Hot Dog Cart on 34th Street, sponsored by The Food Market and all proceeds go to the GreenMount School. All food and drinks served by the students. 

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Save Some Room for Dessert

Alysha and Lou advise that you grab a Hot Chocolate from the Charmery before walking down to the lights. Get ready for some huge handmade Marshmallows. 

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Save Water, Drink Beer

If you are looking for a local brew, head over to Waverly Brewing Company and Union Craft Brewing. Both within walking distance. Amy recommends the Foxy IPA or the Double Duckpin, her personal favorites from Union.

Wine Not?

If grapes are more your thing, head over to 13.5% Wine Bar. You won’t be disappointed by their wall of wine.

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It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Cocktails

If you are looking for a craft cocktail, you must find the Other Corner. It is essentially the back room of the Corner Charcuterie Bar, but with a different vibe that is away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Alysha likes it because it is dark and cozy with great music. If you’re Lou, you always end up at the back corner because “once that door closes, you could be anywhere in the world.”

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What’s New?

New businesses are constantly opening in the quirky neighborhood of Hampden. Try out some of these new spots:

  • Five & Dime Ale House – a new take on a classic neighborhood tavern 
  • Wicked Sisters – restaurant brought to you by the same wonderful people who created Papi’s Tacos, Alexander’s Tavern, and Huck’s 
  • Paulie Gee’s – a delicious pizza joint. Alysha recommends the back bar that has a nostalgic basement feel, complete with trophies.

Make a Night of it

Because after a few drinks, you wouldn’t want to miss a delicious brunch in the AM.

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Happy Holidays!

Becky-Stavely-Our-Endless-Adventure

 

 

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