Pies: Pie Zine Now on Sale!

December 14, 2014

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My Pie Zine is now on sale

For the final phase of my ‪#‎muriels50pies‬ project, I collected illustrations, anecdotes, essays, poems + recipes from ladies around the country and compiled them into a zine. It even includes a new pie chart from writer Ann Friedman! The cover design is by the wonderful Sunny Eckerle from White Elk.

The zine shop is now live with the first 50 limited-edition zines. All proceeds go to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. You can buy it here! 

Travel: Pre-Travel Checklist

December 5, 2014

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Whether you’re taking advantage of your last hours of vacation time or visiting family, these pre-travel tips will help you get ready for your trip and avoid those last minute freak outs.

Currently, our economy is all about sharing and I’m a big fan of Airbnb when traveling and even Instacart and Uber when I’m at home. RelayRides gives you the chance to rent someone’s car when you’re traveling, a great option without having to deal with those sleazy rental companies or relying on friends. They now offer airport car rentals as well. I’ll tell you about the worst experience we had with a car rental company some other time, it involves a blizzard and stolen money. It was a doozy.

Anyways! We are big fans of pre-travel checklists. After we decide on a destination and book our plane tickets, we put our list together and start researching. When you’re abroad, the last thing you want to do is spend time trying to find adequate lodging, transportation or other time-consuming tasks.  Here are five things to keep in mind after you’ve booked your plane tickets.

1 | Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months and you have enough pages. Back in 2010, I forgot to look at it and I realized I didn’t have enough pages about 2 months before we left for Norway. While it worked out okay that time, just make sure you’re all squared away right after you book your plane tickets. Of course, double-check that you don’t need any visas before visiting the country. Sometimes they can be acquired at the airport, but other times, they must acquired before you leave. Visa HQ can help you with that.

2 | Lodging

After we make our tentative itinerary and we know what cities we want to go to, we look into lodging. Our number one choice is always Airbnb since we get access to a kitchen and that’s an instant money saver. Also, I love checking out grocery stores in other countries! If that doesn’t work out, I check out Hotwire and Agoda for cheap accommodations. If we want to experience something specific like a ryokan in Japan, then we go to specialized websites for that. We book our lodging about 2 months after we book our plane tickets. Print out the confirmations + contact info and put them in a folder to take with you.

3 | Transportation

Atlanta is infamous for its traffic. I hate driving for the most part, unless it’s a road trip. Most of the time when we travel, we rely on public transportation. Look into city passes, tourism boards and tourists discounts to save money on transportation. If we must drive, then we check out local rental companies when abroad or if we are traveling domestic, we use RelayRides. It’s easy to use and it works similarly to Airbnb. You’re renting a car from a car owner instead of a company. All you do is find the car you want, rent it, wait for confirmation and pick it up. Then, drop it off at the end of the trip. Same as a rental company, but without all of the hassle.

4 | Activities 

The first thing I do when we decide where to go is buy my copy of Lonely Planet. I love using their books as a complement to my internet research. I also find the forums at Lonely Planet and Frommer’s incredibly useful. People post their past trip itineraries, you get to ask questions to people who have traveled there and sometimes, you even find a cool secret spot or two at the destination.

5 | Money

Before you leave, find out if your destination is credit card-friendly. Countries like Japan and the Netherlands are cash-driven countries for the most part. We normally consult our banks to find out their currency exchange rate before we leave. Sometimes we get a better deal if we order the money from our bank and just take it with us. Also, remember to let your bank know about your travel plans. Here’s another tip: When abroad, always use ATMs to withdraw money. They usually have a better exchange rate than kiosks and you can get as much as you want with no minimums and a lower transaction fee. 

Thanks to RelayRides for the opportunity and reaching out! Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and download their easy-to-use iPhone app.

What’s on your pre-travel checklist? Any other tips?

Travel: Where do you want to go in 2015?

November 10, 2014

2014 was an awesome year for travel. We went to Hawai’i, Nashville, Chicago, Amsterdam and Iceland. I was able to fit in a weekend in NYC with my ladies and I have a trip to San Francisco scheduled for December with my mom. 2015 is not going to be as travel-oriented, but we are still hoping to get out of ATL a few times throughout the year. I’ll know more once Alex graduates from his programming bootcamp in March. Inspired by Stephanie’s Twenty-Something Travel post, here are the places I hope to go in 2015.

Seattle

Seattle has been on my mind for a while now. We tried to head west earlier this year, but time and money didn’t allow for it. We are planning to head over there sometime in the spring to explore for a long weekend.

Likelihood: Definite

Peru

Machu Picchu Peru photo tour ron rosenstock

The land of llamas and Machu Picchu! I’ve been planning a trip to Peru with one of my friends for a few months now. We are hoping to head over there sometime in the late spring/early summer with our dudes and do the hike to Machu Picchu, among other things. For once, we are trying to stay away from the Top 5 most expensive countries in the world (We did Norway, Japan and Iceland back to back, EEK) and save some money by traveling to South America. There might be a stop in Panama for Alex to visit the motherland on the way there.

Likelihood: Definite

Denmark

Norwegian Air and WOW air are killing it lately with their amazing European fares to Scandinavia. Seriously, $400RT?! YES PLEASE. Ever since I went to Norway, I’ve been in love with the whole area. I want to ride a bike around Copenhagen and explore. We also have a friend that has family there, so that would be a great way to save on accommodation.

Likelihood: Good

Turkey

Those Cappadocia pictures are everywhere these days. Christine went to Turkey this past summer and I’ve been building a Pinterest board about it ever since. I had plans to visit one of my friends over there, but I’m not sure if it’s still happening. It may or may not. But once we get settled with other life things next year, we are definitely heading over there. I need that sunrise air balloon ride!

Likelihood: Slim

Where do you want to go in 2015? Any dream destinations?

Pies: Apple Cider Apple Pie

November 3, 2014

Scoutmob asked me to come up with an ALL LOCAL pie for their blog. I went to the Farmer’s Market near my house a few weeks ago and picked all of the ingredients, including an unrelated snack or two of course. So, I wrote up my first pie recipe from scratch! I present to you, pie #34: Apple Cider Apple Pie with an asiago cheese crust. YUM. You can read more about it here.

Download the recipe here. Happy baking!

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Travel: A weekend in Chicago

October 17, 2014

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Before we left for Europe, I was navigating airfares as usual (can’t stop! won’t stop!) and I found some killer fares to Chicago. I jumped on them since I’ve been aching to visit my BFF Emily for a while and we hadn’t gone back since February 2013. This is our last hurrah together for a while, as Alex starts school soon (eek!), but I might have a solo trip or two up my sleeve. We’ll see if things pan out. ANYWAYS, the fall season (my favorite time of the year!) is in full swing here in ATL and of course, in Chicago. We took advantage of the lovely weather in the windy city to walk around, eat everything in sight and go apple picking in the ‘burbs. We’ve already been there before so we didn’t do any touristy things this time around. It was the best weekend. Coming up next, more Amsterdam and Iceland posts with a few pie-related things in between!

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Lewis was such a cuddle bug

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Awesome decor at Beercade — loved this Charlie’s Angels wall over one of the bars.

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A visit to the All Seasons Apple Orchards

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My favorite lady. She climbed a tree while we there!

My favorite lady. She climbed a tree while we there!

These guys are my rocks. Seriously.

These guys are my rocks. Seriously.

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Apple picking!

Apple picking!

Giordano's Chicago Style Pizza -- YUM

Giordano’s Chicago Style Pizza — YUM

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One last pie slice — apple cider pie — from Bang Bang Pie Shop

DO //

  • All Seasons Orchards for apple picking, pumpkin patch and apple cider donuts
  • Beercade  for free pinball games, good selection of beer and some badass decor

EAT //

  • Yolk for brunch
  • Four Belly for Asian fusion food and delicious ramen
  • Kuma’s Corner (W Belmont Ave) for metal music and giant burgers
  • Giordano’s for deep dish pizza and chill atmosphere
  • Bang Bang Pie Shop for a slice of pie with a cup of joe

DRINK //

  • Hopleaf Bar (awesome beer selection, try the beer mussels!)

These pictures were taken in October 2014

Travel: A beer tour in Amsterdam

September 20, 2014

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Oh Amsterdam, how I loved you. After a series of hilarious unfortunate events, like almost taking the wrong train into the city centre, losing my 72-hour tram pass 2 hours after I bought it and our tram taking forever to arrive no matter where we were, we actually got settled into our AirBNB. For a minute. We promptly ran out the door as our beer tour was starting soon. We booked our beer tour with Urban Adventures, which promised to be a small group walking tour with lots of beer history. We thought it would be the perfect way to beat the jet lag and get a quick glimpse of the city on our first day. When we arrived to the meeting place, the tour had already left! All because of our tram being late (again!). I quickly turned on my roaming (ARGH) and called our tour guide, Sean. He was really understanding and told us that they were only a few blocks away. He met us on the sidewalk in front of the pub after giving us directions. PHEW.

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Sean was super knowledgeable about the local beer scene, something that made Alex very happy. The beer scene in the city is often overlooked since it has to compete with big companies like Heineken. There are some great places around to drink good craft brews that won’t break the bank. We have a pretty exciting beer scene in Atlanta right now with microbreweries popping up everywhere. We have a couple within walking distance of our home! So, we are always looking into new beers and breweries. [If you’re interested, our pal Drew has blog where he reviews beers brewed in Atlanta and elsewhere. It’s really great.]

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Our group consisted of an older couple from Australia and one man traveling on its own. It was a fun group despite the age differences. As previously stated on their site, this is definitely not a bar hop, but you do drink a lot. The tour includes a full pint of beer, of your choice, at each bar. We stopped at three bars and at the last one, we were offered a plate of meat and cheeses. We made the rookie mistake of not eating beforehand, that was fun!

Our first stop was Cafe Belgique. It’s the cutest bar. It’s a small pub, one of the smallest in Amsterdam actually! They have 8 beers on draft, mostly from Belgium. The decor is a bit quirky, yet stylized. Alex and I got a glass of La Chouffe and it was awesome. So crisp and smooth. Luckily, we can find it in the States!

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The next place we stopped by was a brew pub called Bierfabriek, where their specialty is chicken. They also serve other tapas and vegetarian options. The place was set up family style with giant wooden tables and benches. We sat up at the bar and everyone ate peanuts while we waited.

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We ended our tour around 10 p.m. when the rest of the folks left. At this point, Sean took us to one last bar before he left for the night. We really enjoyed talking to him about his adventures in Colorado, Atlanta and everything in between. It didn’t feel touristy at all being on this tour, which I appreciated immensely. I feel like it’s a good way to experience the local scene while sharing some stories and getting to know people over brews.

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And of course, we ended our first night with a waffle covered with dulce de leche. So good! Thanks Urban Adventures for the fantastic tour!

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Have you ever done a beer tour? What did you like about it?

We did not receive compensation for the tour, all opinions are our own as usual. These pictures were taken in August 2014.

Travel: Arashiyama, Pt. 2

September 14, 2014

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We just came back from Iceland and Amsterdam so I will doing a few posts about it in the coming weeks. Well, whenever I finish unpacking and uploading my photos. But, as promised, part deux of our day in Arashiyama. You can find part one of our day here.

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After we visited the monkeys at the park, we wandered into town to see the rest of the temples and the famous bamboo forest. But first, we had to stop for some sticky buns.

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We walked into the grounds of Tenryuji Temple, but most of the temple was under construction. This is the only photo I was able to take, sadly. It looks so majestic from the outside, so make sure to stop by. It’s one of Kyoto’s five great zen temples and the largest one in Arashiyama.

temple After we left the temple a bit disappointed, we tried to figure out how to get to the bamboo forest. The city is easily walkable (and if you want, easy to ride your bike rental around) but for some unknown reason, we had such a hard time finding the bamboo forest. It’s almost like we were walking around it forever, but never quite finding it. There weren’t any signs pointing toward it and the map we had kept stirring us the wrong way. But after 45 minutes of aimlessly walking around, we finally found it! And of course, as usual, it was right under our noses.

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Let’s just say it was worth it, as the forest is unlike anything we’ve seen before. What really stuck with me though was the soft noise of the bamboo moving back and forth, rubbing against its next door neighbor, ever so gently. It was such a peaceful sound. I almost forgot that I was surrounded by rowdy tourists and random kids running around.

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bamboo3 After walking along the bamboo forest path for a while, we headed back to the bus stop to grab a bus to the Golden Pavilion. The buses in this area come often and are easy to ride. The drivers were super helpful when it came to transfers and figuring out what bus to get on. As soon as we jumped on the bus though, it started raining. We got soaked as we entered the temple grounds, but luckily we had our ponchos with us. The Golden Pavilion or Kinkaku-ji Temple is a replica of the original temple that, you guessed it, burned down in 1950. After surviving a war where all of the buildings but the Pavilion were burned down, a monk with alleged schizophrenia burned it down and was later caught and imprisoned. The gold leaf exterior has a special purpose as it repels negative thoughts and feelings toward death. You can’t go inside, but you can walk around the gorgeous gardens after catching a glimpse of the gold temple.

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Eek, so soaked from the rain!

Eek, so soaked from the rain!

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And that was it for our day trip to Arashiyama. It was one of my favorite stops of our trip. I may or may not have to do with the monkeys :).

In case you missed it, here’s part 1 of our day in Arashiyama. These pictures were taken on October 2013.