What to do in Sydney, Australia

sydney, australiaSome years back, two dear friends from Scotland decided to spend a year in Sydney and asked if I’d like to join. I had just graduated from college and wasn’t quite ready for my first adult job, so I decided to go along for the ride!! It was one of the best decisions of my life! Sydney is a fantastic city and I feel lucky to have called it my home–even for just a short while.

One of the most quintessential images of Sydney is the Opera House  (above). The Sydney Opera House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most well-known performing art centers around the world. More than seven million people come out to see the Opera House each year!

bondi beachDuring my time in Sydney I lived off Bondi Beach and spent my days serving at a restaurant on the promenade. Bondi Beach is a must see in Sydney. It is a popular city beach just outside of downtown and on the weekends you’ll find young professionals decked out in their designer sunnies. Evey other day of the week you’ll find sunburned tourists doing the “lobster walk” (dubbed after their sun-burned red skin) down the beach.

sydney, australiaThe beach is home to Bondi Icebergs–a swimming club that dates back to 1929 and the starting point of the Bondi to Coogee beach walk. It is a fantastic cliff walk that takes you from one beach to the other with beautiful ocean views along the way.

sydney, australiaOne of the best ways to see the harbour is to get on a boat. You can do an organized harbour tour or a cheaper option is to take the ferry to Manly beach.

sydney, australiaYou get to enjoy a pretty sweet beach (less crowded than Bondi) and can view incredible harbour views on the ride over.

sydney, australiaIf you make the trek all the way to Australia, you have to see a kangaroo! Although it is way cooler to see ‘roos in the wild, if your itinerary isn’t going to take you outside of the city, the next best option is the Taronga zoo!

6_sydneyAs a bonus you get to take cable cars to the entrance.

sydney, australiaThere is plenty more to see and do in Sydney, but this should be enough to get your planning started!

sydney, australiaG’night, Sydney!

xo, Jenny

5 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep in a Hotel

hotel door

I’m a pretty light sleeper. When I was working as a flight attendant, and even now when I travel for business, falling asleep is a huge struggle for me. My husband, on the other hand, can zonk out anywhere on a moments notice. It’s seriously enviable! Over the years I’ve learned a few things to help minimize sleepless nights in hotel rooms.

1. Use a Closet Hanger

Say what? Have you ever been in a hotel room where the curtains don’t quite shut all the way and a little sliver of light finds its way right into your eyes?! Grab a hanger or two from the closet and attach the clips to both of the curtains to keep them tightly closed.

2. Check the Hotel Alarm Clock

I have vivid memories of my hotel alarm clock going off at 2:30am set by the person who spent the previous night in my room. I now always check that the hotel alarm clock is not on before I go to bed. Learn from my mistake and do the same!

3. Set a Backup Alarm

Whether you request a wake-up call, use your cell phone, or set the hotel alarm clock, it’s always nice to have a backup alarm. I’ve tossed and turned in bed worrying about whether my alarm would go off for an early flight or meeting. Setting two alarms seems to put my mind at ease.

4. Turn on White Noise

Hotel hallways, elevators, thin walls, and adjoining rooms have the potential to make your room noisy. I like to have some white noise in the room to drown out anything that might wake me up in the middle of the night. I’ll usually turn on the room or bathroom fan and that does the trick. If those aren’t options, I have an app on my phone where I can listen to the ocean and drift off to sandy destinations.

5. Stay Off Your Electronics!!!!!

I’m guilty of pulling out my laptop or looking up things on my cell phone while I’m winding down in bed. Don’t do it! For whatever reason, those devices keep your mind alert and awake. Reading a book, magazine, or even a kindle are better options to get you sleeping quickly.

Hope this helps some of you light sleepers out there!

xo, Jenny

The BEST Travel Bag – Longchamp Le Pliage Tote

longchamp le pliage bag

Ode to Longchamp bag

I know what you’re thinking, it’s just a nylon tote. But trip after trip, I’m always bringing this trusty bag with me. Probably because it has Mary Poppins like qualities and holds pretty much everything I could ever want to take with me. It’s practical, durable, and is seemingly timeless as it remains in style year after year. Even Princess Kate has been spotted with one of these at the airport.

I had Mike snap a few pictures of me before a work trip so you could see the bag in action.

Longchamp Weekender Bag

I like the weekender (above) because it sits on my carry-on nicely and I don’t end up wrecking my shoulder if I’m running through the airport. The smaller sizes are also great because they can be folded to fit in your luggage without taking up much space.

Black longchamp le pliage tote with animal print jacket

I’ve owned one of these totes since college and I’m still using it. How many bags can you say that about? Although not necessarily a steal at a little over a hundred bucks it really is pretty reasonably priced considering how much use you’ll get out of it.

Traveling Chic in longchamp le pliage toteI love the black and brown color because it goes with everything, but there are a lot of cute colorful styles as well!

longchamp le pliage tote

Floridian Key Lime Pie

key lime pie

Here’s the thing. Ever since my parents moved to Florida, I’ve become somewhat of a key lime pie aficionado. According to my husband, my whole family is. So I’m a little ashamed of this recipe because there is no homemade crust involved. But that’s the beauty of it. It’s simple, easy, and good. And let’s be honest, who has time to make homemade crust anyway?

key lime pie

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice (Don’t even think of reaching for the regular limes at the store. It’s called Key Lime Pie for a reason!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Ready made crusts (9 inch crust or 6 mini crusts – I made minis this time)

You can usually find key limes or packaged key lime juice at your local grocery store. I’ve bought it off Amazon as well.

Lightly beat the 4 egg yolks (emphasis on lightly) and slowly add in the sweetened condensed milk. Keep stirring. Add in the lime juice and the vanilla next. Stir.

keylime3

When it’s all nice and mixed together, pour the batter into the crust.

key lime

Now it’s time for you to decide whether to bake the pies in the oven or let the acidity from the lime juice produce a natural cooking effect.

*Fun fact – lime was used way back when to prevent scurvy in sailors out at sea. Eventually someone realized that they could mix lime with eggs and milk and the citrus would somehow make the raw egg safe to eat.*

Okay, back to the recipe. If you don’t feel comfortable with the citrus cooking method, you can pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. If you decide to forego the oven all you need to do is refrigerate the pies for 4 hours before serving.

keylime5

If you want, you can garnish your pies with limes or a little reddi-wip on top.

key lime

All that’s left to do is turn on some Jimmy Buffet and transport yourself to Key West!

key west

 

What to Pack: Edinburgh, Scotland

rome-what-to-pack_edinburgh2Spring is an excellent time to visit Scotland as the weather should be sunny and mild. That said, it can still be a bit rainy. Here are a few things that I would bring for the two-week itinerary I posted here!

  1. A comfy anorak will help protect you from the wind and the rain!
  2. A lightweight, yet quality, camera that won’t weigh you down.
  3. An umbrella is always nice to have on hand so you don’t spend a fortune buying one in the tourist shops.
  4. A classy crossbody bag will keep your hands free.
  5. Bring a few sweaters for layering to stay warm in the morning and take off if the sun comes out.
  6. Bookmark your destinations with a guidebook on Scotland.
  7. Keep your passport protected in this cute “Adventure Awaits” cover.
  8. A reliable Longchamp tote will help carry all of your travel necessities.
  9. And last but not least, keep your feet dry with a pair of Hunter boots, or in Scotland, wellies. This style is the packable version, which will help open up space in your luggage.

What to do in Scotland – Itinerary

Scotland

I’ve been to Scotland twice. Once for a wedding and once for an amazing two-week trip around the isle. Planning a two-week, or even one week, trip is always a little daunting, so I put together an itinerary to help get your planning started! I consulted the advice of Emily, my sweet friend from Scotland, so rest assured that this itinerary has the stamp of approval from a true Scot.

Your 2 Week Drive through Scotland begins in Edinburgh.

edinburgh scotlandJust so you know, Edinburgh doesn’t rhyme with ‘Pittsburgh. It’s pronounced “Edinburrah.”

What to Do:

Where to Eat:  The Witchery (located at the base of the castle). This is a really fantastic restaurant with enormous amounts of ambiance. Be sure to make reservations far in advance.

Where to Stay: Balmoral Hotel (if this accommodation is not in your budget, just go for afternoon tea)

Next you’ll be heading north to St. Andrews.

St.-Andrews-Scotland
Famous for their golf course, but still a lovely town to visit even if you’re not a golfer.

Next stop is filled with whiskey and castles in the Aberdinshire region.

Scottish DistilleryThere are endless castles and whiskey distilleries to enjoy here and plenty of golf as well.

Where to Stay: Ballater or Aboyne are nice villages to find a room in.

Next up needs no introduction. A lake full of legend. The beautiful Loch Ness.

Loch-Ness

What to do:

Continue on to the Isle of Skye.

isle-of-skye

Where to Stay: The Three Chimneys restaurant. If you don’t stay here you should plan to go for dinner. Some of the best food in Scotland!

What to do:

It’s time to take the ferry from Armondale to Mallaig.

MallaigYou may recognize this bridge from Harry Potter, if you’re not distracted by one of the most picturesque drives in Scotland. Okay, time to make your way down to Glasgow.

boats

Stop in Glencoe. Here you can see the loch filmed in Skyfall.

  • Stop to Eat: Loch Fyne – a world-famous seafood restaurant (the BEST in Emily’s opinion)
  • Where to stay: Loughlohmen at the Cameron House hotel (near Glasgow)

GlasgowTake a spin through Glasgow. Although there are not as many tourist sites here, you can check out:

  • Charles Remy Macintosh’s tea rooms
  • Kelvingrove Museum

highland-cow

7 DARLING Spots for Afternoon Tea in London!

sketch Whenever I’m in London, I absolutely love to do afternoon tea. It is such a fun way to break up a day of sightseeing and shopping. How swanky is this pretty in pink tea room at Sketch?!

St. Ermin's TeaHere we are enjoying a spot of Tea at St. Ermin’s! This tea room is stylish, modern, and not at all stuffy!

Number-16A relaxed tea in your very own secret garden at Number Sixteen would be perfect this summer.

goring-hotelA visit to the Goring Hotel has been on my list for sometime. This tea room is fit for a Queen. Literally. This is where the Middleton Family stayed before Kate’s wedding day.

The-BerkeleyA fashion inspired tea at the Berkeley is perfect for a day filled with shopping. Designers from Burberry, Valentino, and Dior actually design the darling cakes and cookies and the menu is updated every six months to follow new fashion trends!

chesterfieldTea at Chesterfield Mayfair definitely won’t disappoint. They even have a Willy Wonka themed menu for the kiddos. How cute is this?

Bus-tourLast but not least, there is a bus tour around London serving afternoon tea! How fun does this look?!

Bus-tour-2Did I leave any of your favorite’s off the list? I’d love to hear.

Happy travels!

-Jenny

 

What to Pack: Rome, Italy

rome-what-to-pack

After going through pictures from yesterday’s ‘What to do in Rome’ Post I got a little wanderlust-y for a trip to Italy and nostalgia for my charming neighborhood in Trastevere set in. Alas, there is no Italian vacation in my near future. BUT if I was lucky enough to be packing for Italy, here’s what I’d put in my bag. And if you’re lucky enough to be going, I hope this provides a little inspiration along the way.

  1. A nice camera is a must in this city and a sturdy camera strap will make it ease to carry around all day.
  2. This adorable Ciao clutch makes an excellent conversation piece.
  3. These Italian flats may just be worth the splurge.
  4. This luggage is sleek and stylish and will stand the test of time.
  5. A passport cover will help protect your passport and keep you organized.
  6. A straw hat to keep cool in the sun and hide your flyaways!
  7. This darling romper is light, airy, and perfect for a long day of sightseeing.
  8. Over-sized sunglasses not only screen your eyes from the sun, but help you people watch inconspicuously.
  9. A comfortable pair of sneakers is imperative. This brand is a nice compromise between comfort and style and doesn’t scream TOURIST.
  10. Gucci handbag. If a designer bag is in your budget, you might as well go with an Italian brand!
  11. LBD. A little black dress will never be out of style and is perfect for an evening out on the town.
  12. These sandals have a wide heel making it easier to navigate the cobblestone streets.

What else would you pack? I’d love to hear!

Happy Travels!

-Jenny

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What to do in Rome, Italy

RomeThere are soooo many things to see and do in Rome! Some of the biggies are the Vatican, Colosseum, Sistine Chapel, and the Pantheon. Rome is a foodie heaven, so eat everything in sight–especially the gelato!

ColosseumTravel Tip: If you want to avoid lines at the Colosseum and Vatican museum, you can buy tickets ahead online (the lines can be awful!).

vaticanVatican City has a population of just over 800 making it the smallest independent state in the world. This city houses St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. You can see the Pope in a papal audience on Wednesdays. The Pope will even bless newlyweds in the audience, so don’t be surprised if you see a few women in their wedding dresses walking around.

Piazza NavonaIn the heart of Rome is Piazza Navona, a charming area where painters sell art and street performers sing opera! It’s beautiful! The restaurants are overpriced, but the ambiance is worth the splurge!

spanish-stepsThe evening is the best time to visit the Spanish Steps. This huge stairway has 138 steps and is the widest staircase in Europe, making it perfect for hanging out and people watching. Take your sweetheart and a bottle of wine to a spot on the steps. You are in for an evening of acoustic guitar, watching young couples flirt, and enjoying “il dolce far niente” or the sweetness of doing nothing.

Travel Tip: There is a McDonald’s near the base of the steps that has a public bathroom (which can be hard to find in Rome).

Cross the Tiber river into the Trastevere neighborhood for a delicious dinner. I lived with my boyfriend (now husband), Mike, in this charming area for a summer a few years ago.

trastevereThe Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) is the largest baroque fountain in the city. Legend has it that if you throw a coin into the fountain you will return to Rome someday. Be sure to have your back facing the fountain and throw it over your shoulder–it worked for me! Hopefully it works a second time and I’ll get back there soon!

Trevi FountainRome is a busy and much more in-your-face city than other tourist locations in Italy, so it may be a bit of a shock if you are coming from the slower pace of Tuscany or a seaside town. Just give it a little time and you’ll find yourself blown away by the culture, art, history, and food! There really is no other place like it. Rome will leave you singing if you let it!

When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine,
That’s a – more.
Bells will ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling
And you’ll sing “Vita bella.”
Hearts’ll play tippi-tippi-tay, tippi-tippi-tay

Have you been to Rome? What was the best thing you saw/did there? I’d love to hear!!

Ciao, Jenny

Homemade Hawaiian Acai Bowl

acai-bowlAcai bowls were our go-to breakfast on a recent trip to Hawaii. I don’t think Acai needs an introduction these days as it’s popping up on blogs and in restaurants all over the place. But let me tell you, it’s good! Really good!

I’m not going to pretend like this is a super healthy morning routine once you add in all the toppings. But we are talking about a super fruit here so we can at least pretend, right?! Here’s what you need to make enough for 2 eaters:

  • Acai (2 Sambazon packets – about 7 oz) *I found this brand at Whole Foods
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or coconut water)
  • 1 FROZEN banana *I didn’t freeze the banana on my first attempt and the acai mixture was too soft.
  • Toppings (banana, strawberries, blueberries, coconut flakes, granola, honey etc.)

Blend the acai, almond milk, and frozen banana together and pour into a bowl.

acai-bowlTime for the toppings!

acai-bowlAdd in what makes you happy.

acai-bowlI like granola, strawberries, blueberries, and a little honey!

acai-bowlAnd last but not least, enjoy!

xo

-Jenny