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Avec Amour : February 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Not to rub it in....

But in 24 hours, i'll be on a plane to....

my favo(u)rite place.

Yay :) 

See you on the other side! 

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Traveling (not so) Light

Rolling my clothes. Practical outfits that i know i'll wear! Only 1 pairs of shoes. Bringing less scarves than days you're going for.
Ok, so I fail miserably at all of these. Especially the scarves part.
Hi, my name is Renee. and I'm a chronic over-packer.

This might be my favorite picture of all time. 
25 euros to pay for a checked bag? Or somehow transform my 16kg to a 10kg bag.
....enter, layeringoneverythingiowned. 
My bag weighed 6kg when we went through security. 25 euros, still in my pocket. Win.

But as a seasoned traveler (and consequently, seasoned over-packer), these are the things i absolutely positively cannot leave for a trip without.

- i comfortable travel clothes. my outfit of choice is usually a dress and tights... so i'm ready to go right away but i'm comfortable the whole flight/drive!

- iPod + cord + headphones(and adapter if necessary!!!). there is nothing worse than a layover filled with silence. and if i'm organized ahead of time, a good playlist ready to go.

- my camera + battery charger. i take back the layover comment - because there is nothing worse than a trip with no PICTURES! (at least for me).

- a pair of jeans/dresses that go from day to night. you never know how long you'll be out and about... so i usually plan on wearing the same outfit to breakfast that i'll wear home at 2am.

- a couple of cardigans. usually totally different colors and styles. they are one of the best ways to change up something you wore earlier in the trip or to make a day to night switch with a new addition or subtraction from your outfit.

- shoes i'll actually walk in. i don't think i've ever brought high heels on a trip unless they were for 1 specific function. a pair of flips, boots, and flats usually do the trick.

- purse essentials: chap stick, gum, body spray, and advil. because dry lips, stale breath, smelling like a train and headaches happen.

- my travel coffee cup. you can get coffee in it, or wash it out to put in water or anything else wherever you are. voila!

- an emergency $20.... because you never know :)

- i try my hardest to put a limit to my coats/scarves for a cold weather trip, and a limit to my bathing suits/cover ups on a warm trip. these are areas i almost always significantly overpack on.

- Sudoku, a magazine, a book, my bible, and plain paper or a journal. I understand it's only a flight, not a 6 month exile, but it's just how i roll. Even if it's a short plane ride, i feel prepared knowing i have all these modes of entertainment. But let's be honest - the person next to me is probably talking my ear off.

- a purse that holds the entire world in it. think Mary Poppins. oh! and must have a zip top that zips TOWARDS the front. nobody is stealing from me that easily!

- my student ID. say whatever you want, but i'm cheap, i still look the same and it doesn't have a date on it :)

- a separate bag for any kind of liquids. it is only a matter of time before your luck runs out and you have a major shampoo exposion, or all your expensive perfume trickles over all of your clothes, leaving an oil residue. just do the right thing, and get a toiletries bag.

I'd love to think that i'm perfectly practical, and strategic, but i'm not. The tips above are essentials. My goal for this trip is to be semi practical, so i can fit as much as i possibly can on my trip back. I'm telling myself that packing light will pay off in 10 days when i'm trying to fit an entire H&M into one suitcase... that's under 50lbs. I've backpacked and winged it and managed to survive....

Wish me luck and practicality on this packing adventure!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wanderlust Wednesday: Jersey

Ok ok - most of you think i'm talking about New Jersey. Don't get me wrong - i went to New Jersey a couple of months ago for the first time, and i had a blast (most likely to come in a W.W. post in the future!), and i'm the first one to tell you it's a lot more than blow outs and fist pumps... However - this Wednesday is reserved for somewhere i've never been but would love to go - the Isle of Jersey in the Channel Islands of the United Kingdom

Would you like to join me?

As i said before, i've never been to Jersey. In 2007 when i was studying abroad, i was on an Easy Jet plane (read: cheap flights within Europe) to Prague (once again - you'll eventually hear about Prague) reading the in-flight magazine, and i flipped through to the travel section, and there it was... a feature on Jersey.

Channel islands? I'd never considered. However, it was winter and it didn't seem very appealing to go to an island when there was no prospect of sun or beach roaming. 4 years later, i've Googled Jersey UK enough times to get a few interesting facts that keep me wanting to visit.

Technically, it's a "Crown Dependancy"... which means it's a part of the Commonwealth... protected by the UK... but not part of the UK? To be honest, the entire United Kingdom has me stumped between what is a country, region, and territory. But for an island of about 45 sq. miles, it has almost 100,000 people living on it, making it very densely populated. Jersians speak English, French, and Jerriais is regionally recognized as a language.

The main attraction is summer - i'd love to go for an entire summer and wander around the 45 square miles until i'd seen every corner. The summers are full of walking, seaside festivals, jazz shows, and parades. Visitors come to see the beautiful beaches as well as experience the mix of English and French culture that Jersey uniquely has to offer.

Most interesting to me, is that there is a Spring and a Fall event called Walking Week - where people sign up to walk acorss the land and see the full countryside and experience all the beauty Jersey has to offer.

It's interesting to think i would go to an island that didn't focus primarily on tanning... but i think Jersey is the perfect place to test out this theory of the non-shore Jersey. For now, i'll let you check out the details of this fabulous place, and you just let me know when you want to book your flight.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

bloggy blogs

As i've recently found out, at least 5 people read my blog. yay! So since i've got 4 or more people to entertain... i guess i'll keep writing.

I thought i'd give a shout out to the other blogs I enjoy. These are usually what you can find me reading in the evenings or on my lunch break.

The Album Project

The Album Project does daily recommendations for music, talks about new releases every tuesday, and reviews concerts. The link a placed above is reviewing the Jimmy Eat World show i went to a few weeks ago, and i agree whole heartedly with his review! I follow him on twitter (@thealbumproject) which makes it easy to keep up with new posts. If you're looking for good (in my opinion!) music and reviews, this is the place to get them,

Hyperbole and a Half

Allie is the author, and she writes true stories that have actually happened to her (although she admits, slightly dramatized for humor) and accompanies each story with pictures she's drawn on Paintbrush. The link above is to my favorite post about why she'll never be a real adult. I almost cried i was laughing so hard. My best friend Kim introduced me to this blog, and i am very thankful for this... so i figured i'd pass the love along :)

P.S. - I Made This

My new current obsession - do-it-yourself crafts! These are especially good, because Erica takes ideas and inspiration from current fashion and designers and makes simple ways to make the trends yourself. I have her book and follower her on Twitter (@psimadethis) and i've made a couple of pieces inspired by her. She's amazing and can probably make anything out of sharpies, felt, and hot glue.

Nuestie's News

My lovely roommate. She mixes it up between thought provoking Biblical topics, favorite things, and even awful first dates. Chances are, you'll relate to her. The best part about her blog is it's how i'll keep up with her in a few months when she leaves for Haiti for 2 years.

Ravenous Libby

My dear friend and foodie, Libby Andrews, covers all the food topics from Healthy Eating to the new delicious foods she tries when on vacation. Either way, the photos will make you hungry and want to go out immediately and buy some type of food you can't even announce.

So those are probably the ones i visit the most - check out a new blog this week, and see what these lovelies are up to! You might find something new to read.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The kick off: Wanderlust Wednesdays

Since i love to travel so much, i decided i'm going to attempt to make a weekly posting about places i've been or places i want to go. This might be as broad as a continent or country, or slightly more specific... like a city... or an intersection. I appreciate different places on different levels, and i truly desire to see the entire world. So i'll never run out of places to write about :)

The first Wanderlust Wednesday, i've chosen to select:
Flagpole Beach, Palm Beach, FL.

This is the first photo i ever took of the beach in 2004. Before the Hurricanes. Gorgeous, right? I grew up on the West Coast of Florida, and it's just completely different than the East Coast. It's possible that i could swim before i could walk, and still, every time i walk onto the sand, it makes me smile.

This beach especially holds fond memories. Something about being in college and living walking distance from the beach seems ideal and unrealistic - but the truth is, we had beach parties with food and drinks and a live band... and somehow, this wasn't a Mandy Moore movie. I'm pretty sure i spent equal amounts of time studying as i did socializing on this beach. I've surfed, played volleyball, seen sharks, taken pictures, had visitors, worshiped, laughed, cried, taken night excursions, been diving, played in hurricanes, met new friends, said goodbyes, celebrated, made memories, had adventures, had revelations and near death experiences (another days blog!) told secrets, and simply put... lived. It might not be anywhere spectacular in the broad scope of the world... but sometimes there's no place i'd rather be.

West Palm Beach in general is certainly one of my favorite places in the world, simply because of the memories scattered across it's streets, but this beach specifically holds a special place. But even if you have no emotional ties.... i highly recommend you stop by sometime and see if the waves have any stories to tell.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011


What makes you feel better? Everyone has their way to cope.

Some people go shopping (retail therapy), other people bake cookies (emotional eating).... 

and i buy plane tickets (trip therapy).

(the cover of my journal when i studied abroad)

I discovered Expedia and Orbitz when i was 15 - i had a boyfriend in college and wanted to visit - so it didn't take me long to start navigating my ways around travel sites. It was only the third time i'd been on an airplane.... but the first time it wasn't a required family trip. I felt the rush of going on a trip just because.

Since then i've lost track of the planes i've been on, road trips i've taken, and stamps in my passport; traveling has become a huge part of who i am. There's something about escaping the ever day and going somewhere new (or even somewhere old) to take a break from your current reality. Most of my trips wouldn't be qualified as "vacation", but more so as traveling, visiting, or simply put... holiday.

Over the past three years or so, i've realized that whenever i'm not feeling my best... i take a trip. This could be to Tampa, Tennessee, or Tasmania, but planning a trip completely changes my mood. Some of my favorite trips have been booked without much thought or planning. There are too many amazing places to see and amazing people to visit for me to stay in the same place all the time. 

Some people have the same wanderlust in their hearts. Others cannot understand this part of me that is physically unable to stay put for long. But i guess everyone has their form of therapy that i might not quite understand. There's a song called "The Wanderer" by Marc Broussard and one of the lyrics says "I'm a wanderer, i have no place or time..." and that is the best explanation i can give for myself.

My most recent therapy session involves my passport and a trip to the UK to visit friends and my favorite city. After a year and a half hiatus, i'm anxious to go back. However, i'm already trying to figure out the next trip? Maybe i have an addiction.

Until i find that a bubble bath or a new pair of shoes makes all my troubles melt away.... i'll continue to grow my stash of frequent flyer miles.

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These are a few of my favorite.....


If you've met me even once... chances are i've talked about some kind of music. I can safely say i've appreciated every kind of music, from screamo to classical, in some moment, song, or movement.

It's safe to say my screamo days are over (gotta love some old underOATH) and i'm not tuning into Gator Country 101.9 most of the time, but the rest all falls somewhere in the middle.

There is something about music that just gets me. Or maybe, i get about it. I'm not sure exactly what it is that draws me to certain songs.... but i just freaking love music. It is really really hard for me to narrow down "favorite" bands... this is something i feel will always evolve as time goes on, but i'd have to say these are the artists that i've decided have withstood the test of time, and are still listened to most days of my life. I'll try my best to narrow down albums and songs, too :)

Counting Crows

Part of it might be nostalgia (memories of turning up "Mr Jones" WAYYYY too loud with my dad), but this band was a favorite when i was 7... and they're still a favorite. August and Everything After is hands down one of my favorite albums of all time. That being said, i'd like to switch my answer to say Films About Ghosts is also amazing... which includes most of my favorite songs from August but also includes Colorblind and A Long December.... two songs i've always loved. I think it's pretty safe to say that Anna Begins might be my favorite of theirs.... pretty safe. Like i said, it's hard for me to play favorites. But Counting Crows are a legit band.... they've kind of got a song for any mood you might be in. Maybe that's why i love them so much :)
(Top Picks: Anna Begins, Mr Jones, Round Here, Mrs. Potter's Lullaby, A Long Decemeber, Colorblind, Holiday in Spain, Time and Time Again).


First of all - RIP Copeland... For there is nothing more upsetting than finding out a band you love is breaking up. I was lucky enough to see Copeland 3 or 4 times in the past 7 years, and i'm very thankful for that! I don't know if it's the minor, eerie tones, or what exactly it is, but i love Copeland. I still remember the first time i heard "California", and how i've physically been forced to listen to every Copeland album... because i was always afraid i wouldnt like it as much as the one before it. Boy was i wrong... they always brought a winner. Eat, Sleep, Repeat has probably been listened to the most, but it's a close call with Beneath the Medicine Tree. Both quality albums by an amazing band! (if you're itchin for some more Copeland... check out a band called States! 2 Copeland guys + a girl from Lydia = awesome)
(Top Picks: When Finally Set Free, California, Eat Sleep Repeat, The Last Time He Saw Dorie, She Changes Your Mind, Love Affair, You Have My Attention, The Grey Man, The Suitcase Song)

Jimmy Eat World

Probably safe to say that Jimmy Eat World is my favorite band. I've had a few so called favorite bands before... but i've loved Jimmy since my friend burned me a copy of Clarity when we were in 9th grade. That's 10 solid years ago. And i've listened to at least one of their albums most days since 9th grade. It makes me really sad to think that i've never seen Jimmy Eat World live... i've attempted to go to 4 shows - and never successfully made it to see them. It's a pretty big bummer. Futures is probably the album i've listened to the most, and "23" is my favorite song (not just from Jimmy - of all time). There's something about every single album that i love... they're a great band. Top Picks: 23, Ten, Praise Chorus, Cut, Kill, Work, Night Drive, Lucky Denver Mint, Goodnight Sky Harbour, Disintigration.

This doesn't even scratch the surface on my love for music... but it's a decent start :)