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Showing posts from December, 2019

My 9 Favorite Recipes from 2019

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Happy Monday everyone!  It's my final week of work for the year (slash decade) and I'm pumped!  It's been a hectic, roller-coaster of a year, so I'm excited to see what 2020 has to bring.

In my second post recapping the year (check out my favorite purchases here), I'm sharing my favorite recipes that I tried out.  I love to cook, and these ones took the cake!


Carrot Lox Time-intensive, but the taste and texture is SO close to smoked salmon for a fraction of the price and is vegan!
Skill level- intermediate
Prep time- 10 minutes
Cook time- 1.5 hours + 2 hours marinating


No Knead Bread Super easy method to cook bread, and it turns out delicious every time.
Skill level- a little more than beginner
Prep time- overnight
Cook time- 1 hour


Best Ever Veggie Burger I make this in huge batches and freeze them.  They are really delicious and better than any store-bought burger.  Even better if you top with this sauce!
Skill level- advanced
Prep time- 20 minutes
Cook time- 30 minutes (…

Highlights from Kobe

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It is officially the one year anniversary of my trip to Japan, so it's time to share the final post!  Kobe was our final day trip, and it was probably my favorite. Not only were we treated to perfect weather (a nice departure after the rainy day we had in Nara), but there was so much to see and do in the city. I loved it!  Here are some of my favorite things we did-

Herb Garden The very first thing we did after stepping off the train was to head to the Nunobiki Herb Garden.  I actually found out about this from a YouTube video, and it sounded like such a fun and unusual place to visit!  The trip started with a cable car to the top of the gardens (which gave us an amazing view of the city).  There was a gift shop and cafe at the top, and we got to explore different herbs through all of our senses.


We made our way down the pathway and saw different exhibits of plants and flowers.  There was a huge glass house that reminded me a lot of Phipps back home with rainforest plants and wate…

Highlights from Nara

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One of my favorite parts of being in Osaka was its close proximity with other fun cities, which made taking day trips really easy!  We decided to take two day trips, and our first one was to Nara.  This small town is just an easy hour train ride away, and we made sure to get there super early to explore all day long.


Unfortunately, this was one of the rainy days on our trips.  Most of the fun of the city is exploring the great outdoors in Nara Park, so for me this wasn't my favorite city that we visited.  But, there were still a lot of interesting things that we got to see and do!  Here are some highlights -

Bowing Deer
One of the major tourist attractions of Nara are the thousands of tame deer that roam around the park (and sometimes explore the city as well).  You'll see them everywhere, even in temples!  Vendors sell you cookies, and then the deer will approach you and bow to get a cookie.  It's crazy to see!  Sometimes the deer would get a bit aggressive and try to bit…

Favorite Purchases of 2019

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It's the end of the year, which makes it a great time to look back and reflect!  I'll be doing this in a few posts, but I'm starting out with my favorite purchases of 2019.

This was definitely a year of "quality over quantity" in terms of buying things.  I tend to spend more money on travel and try to cut back on other areas in my life, so when I do make a purchase I try to make it thoughtfully and carefully.  Here are the major purchases that I made!


Dog Canopy
Starting with a fun one here- we got a canopy for the car for Selma this year.  We decided to lease a new car after having issues with cars that we've actually bought.  In order to keep it clean so we aren't charged with fees if we decide to turn it back it, we wanted to get a cover to protect the fabric seats from Selma's muddy paws.  This ended up being a fantastic purchase, because Selma actually seems to enjoy car rides now, and we don't have to worry about cleaning her off after a wet…

Highlights from Osaka

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For our final major city of our whirlwind trip to Japan, we decided on Osaka (don't worry- there are two more day trips that we took so this isn't the last post!).  To me, this city felt the most familiar- it was a lot more laid back and lively than the other cities.  People were talking more in public, cars revved their engines on the roads, and you walked on the right side of the sidewalks instead of the left!  The city definitely had a more edgy and young feeling to it, and I really enjoyed it.  Here are some highlights!



Conrad Osaka Our final hotel was definitely the best- the location was ideal and seemed to be close to everything, the service was top notch, and we had a special lounge area for being Diamond Members which served a special breakfast and happy hour every day (saving us lots of money!).  The room was really beautiful too with a jaw-dropping view of the city.  The architecture and design of the building has also been showcased in magazines, and it's easy …

Two Days in Miyajima

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When Dan and I were planning our trip to Japan, he had the genius idea to rotate between big cities and smaller villages.  While I didn't think much of this at the time, I think that became a saving grace and best part of our trip.  When we were about to leave Tokyo, I was starting to feel worn out by the crowds, always catching trains, and exploring SO much while feeling like there was still so much we were missing.  Hakone was the perfect antidote to that, with a relaxing and reinvigorating stay.


Similarly, while Kyoto was incredible and we had so much fun, I was definitely looking forward to a more laid back and relaxing next portion of our trip, which came in the form of Miyajima.  A little island in Hiroshima Bay, this area topped most of the lists of most beautiful places to visit in Japan.  It definitely lived up to the hype!  Read on for what we did in our 3 days and 2 nights.

Ryokan I mentioned in other posts that all of our hotels were paid for using points, and because …