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Avec Amour : March 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wanderlust Wednesday: South Lake Tahoe

This Wednesday, there is no passport necessary. We're just heading out west to South Lake Tahoe - one of the prettiest places i've ever been in my life.

This is real life.

Just to preface: i've only been to Tahoe once. It was in July. So i've never experienced it in its fullness.... going down the slopes.

However, i'd completely go back in the summer, because it is amazing. 50's at night, mid 70's and sunny during the day. Water warm enough to swim in and perfect places to bbq and play volleyball. But i really can't wait to come here in the winter and drop in on some perfect powder... and most likely breaking something in the process. (read: i like snowboarding. but i'm not very good at it!!) I like that Tahoe kind of has the best of both worlds.

Perk: Everything is up in the mountains. It is so beautiful. Looking off balconies of most of the cabins you can see ski lifts that are lacking snow, but the mountain tops still have perfectly dusted caps. But everything is tucked into beautiful wilderness! Non Perk: my ears pop a lot. oh well.

Balcony #1
Balcony #2

My best friend got married (the photo above is my two best friends. Kim, who got married, is in the middle) in Tahoe. Talk about the prettiest wedding i've ever been to. Here are a few tastes of what it was like....

Love it :)


the lighting was amazing!
After an all day storm... the perfect sunset.
There is something that completely blows my mind about being at a beach and in the water in the perfectly warm sunshine... and looking out... and seeing snow topped mountains. I guess that stems from being raised in florida and never being able to see anything on the other side of water. Because mexico is really far away :)

But typically Tahoe doesn't get much in way of storms... the mountains usually block the fronts. Well luckily for us, it rained and golf ball sized hailed all day long. Up until 5pm for a 6pm outdoor wedding. Luckily everything worked out, and it was beautiful, just cool enough, and the backdrop was brilliant. 

I took this with my phone. That's how vivid it was.
Like i said. Pretties place ever.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Birthday Sangria!

I turned 25. and survived :)

Sunday, my actual birthday, was the perfect day. However, i didn't really take any pictures. but here are a couple from Saturday.

Birthday girls by the pool on Saturday. Where i spent the majority of the weekend.

Pink Champagne in my Birthday Girl wine glass that Ang got me for my 24th, and pink champagne cupcakes to go with :)
The entire weekend was great. It consisted of numerous meals with friends and family, and spent most of my time at the pool. Oh, i forgot to mention i made red and white sangria? (i'll put my recipe down below). Amazing. Not to mention, after a long pool day, the boys pick up stuff for dinner and we enjoyed dinner and a movie at my house. Can every Sunday be like this?

So yeah, i am a pretty happy girl at 25 so far.

But onto the Sangria. I make up a different recipe every time. You can't really go wrong. But here is what i made this time.

Red Sangria:
  • 2 bottles of Sweet Red Table Wine
  • a little more than 1 liter of ginger ale
  • 2 oranges, cut in 1/8ths.
  • 1 lime, quartered.
  • 1 bag of frozen mix berry fruit (strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry)
White Sangria:
  • 1 bottle of Pino Grigio
  • less than 1 liter of ginger ale
  • 1 orange, cut in 1/8ths
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1/2 bag frozen peaches
  • 1/4 bag frozen mangos
  • 1/4 bag frozen blackberries

Cut the oranges, squeeze them in the pitcher, then put the entire fruit in there too. Same with the lime. Then add the frozen fruit, wine, and stir. Let sit for a few minutes and then add ginger ale. Stir well. Chill overnight for best result! The longer it sits, the more it all marinates together. But you can drink it right away if you can't help yourself :)

The reason i use frozen fruit is two fold; one is price. It's way cheaper when you're making a bunch. And two, the frozen fruit is very juicy when it melts. Where as a peach might not be as ripe as you'd like it to be, once these frozen pieces melt they are so yummy! And the just saturate the sangria so well.

If you want it to look a little prettier, you can take out the chunks of squeezed orange/lime and put in pretty thin slices of orange, lemon, and lime. This works great if you're doing a large punch bowl style.

If you're looking to go low cal you can swap out ginger ale for diet Sprite. If you want a bit more of a zing, you can add rum (either a Mango Malibu or just a Clear Captain), or go old school and buy orange liqueur. But in my opinion, you don't need it! this stuff tastes good just the way it is :)

Experiment! I love peaches and white grapes in white sangria, but i've been dying to try cherries in it. I also love citrus and berries in red, but really want to throw pomegranate in next time. My main conclusion is, you really cannot go wrong with wine and fruit.

And i'm open to anyone elses recipes - sangria is my favorite!!

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

All the Rage: Shellac

"i swear, the manicure last for 14 days"


you understand my eye roll when i first heard that.

Maybe for a normal person. One who doesn't bite their nails. I don't get a lot of manicures, because i hate my nails! But i finally did it - stopped biting for an entire month. and grew my nails out long enough to be shellacked.

Hello, Shellac.

They don't have all the colors yet, but they are well on their way. So far, it looks and felt like a normal manicure, but one where each coat was sealed with the UV lamp. I chose "Rock Royalty" - a pretty pretty purple (i love purple).

T- 14 days until i find out if this is all the hype is true!

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Saturday, March 19, 2011


I love birthdays. I don't know when exactly this birthday fasination started... But I love them. And i'm lucky, i get to share mine with one of my best friends! Which means we've gotten to make a big deal of our birthdays since we started celebrating together... when we were 19. Which is the only year i don't have a picture of us.
we turned 20
and 21

and 22

and 23....

And finally, 24 :)

I think we've gotten better looking over the years, don't you? : )
And nothing about that has changed - But this year, we turn (dun dun dunnnnnn!!!)

Whew. It's scary to say outloud. 

I like 24. It says I'm young, but old enough to be responsible And stuff... sometimes :)

Plus I just like the number 24... It's pretty. And even. And just my favorite. So I'm not really looking forward to leaving my beautiful 24 in the dust, trading it for ugly, not divisible by 2, odd, closer to 30 than 20, stupid 25.

And most annoyingly - there are no (that i can find - i'd love to be shown otherwise) songs about being 25.

But I guess God didn't design me to be 24 forever, unfortunately. So 1 week until d day.

24 brought a lot of great things with it though, and will be remembered a a great year. Here is a little of what this year had to offer.

A New Home:
I moved into riverwalk with my lovely roommate Ashlee. I just knew we were destined to live together. And i love her! And i love my purple wall :)

The year of the wedding:
I got to see a number of my great and one of my best friends get married. These girls allset the standard pretty high for looking perfect on your wedding day. I have to say, it was a fun summer of love, getting to travel around and see these girls get their happily ever after :)

Dossly! (now Ashley Swetnam) in Ohio

Jessie Vega (now LaTorre!) in Fort Myers

Brynn :) in Fort Myers, FL

Coffee obsessed:
The year I woke up thinking "I NEED coffee" - not for the caffeine, but forthe simple fact of having a warm beverge in my hands - and I owe it all to spending the majority of my life at the coffee bar. As much stress and semi heart attacks the coffee bar has provided over this past year, i have learned so much from the experience and when it comes down to it, i absolutely love it. The business side and the coffee drinking side.

Oh, and did i mention i got to hire all of my friends? :)

New and old travels:
Went to see friends a number of places. Some places I've been to, some I haven't...

Chicago (a couple of times)
South Lake Tahoe, CA / Reno, NV
I got to drive down most of the state of California, and end up in...
LA, CA :)
Atlantic City, NJ
Chattanooga, TN 
London, England.
Is it weird that i feel like it's not that many? I should probably mention that i went to Orlando and West Palm Beach a few times each, plus Fort Lauderdale, and Gainesville.  Ok, now i feel better :)

I saw a TON of concerts this year. a. ton.

Copeland - final show!!!
Neulore - House Show in WPB.

The Ataris - they were my favorite band when i was 15. I owed it to myself :)
Kings of Leon + the Black Keys. WPB, FL.

Phoenix, HOB, Orlando.
States. Revolution, Orlando.
My Boys - The Gallery!! In Orlando.
American Idol Live - we got free tickets :)
And last but not least... JIMMY EAT WORLD. The musical cherry on top of this year
And did i mention i got to have my first White Christmas?!?! :) :) :)
Christmas with my family in Tennessee :)
This post was most certainly for me more so than for you. Sometimes i need to be reminded that i still have adventures and do fun, exciting things, even though i'm not traveling the world or am in college. It's truly been a great year, and now i'm up for the challenge of making 25 as good as 24 :) I'm doing my best to invite 25 in with open arms.... and not cringe when someone asks me how old i am.

And for anyone who needs me on my birthday? I'll be by the pool with a sangria. Cheers!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wanderlust Wednesday: Hampton Court

As most of you know, i spent 10 days in the UK about a week ago. And my initial thought was to do this weeks post on none other than London itself, but i thought i'd save that for a rainy day. Because i could always write about London. This is slightly outside the London box, but not too far removed.

When I'm in London I want to squeeze every little moment out of this city while it's still in reach, but i always end up deciding it would be nice to see more of England and expand my horizons. I've been to a handful of other places on the country side (Bath, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Dover, Brighton, etc... Those are for another blog day) and this week I decided to escape the city for a few hours and travel to Hampton Court for the afternoon.

Castle parking?
Just 12 miles, aka 30 minutes on the train and a few ££s later, I was in picturesque Surrey, the county just outside of London. Technically, it is still in Greater London, in an area called Richmond Upon Thames, but you wouldn't dream that a city was anywhere around. As soon as I stepped off the train, there was the Thames river... With a royal palace on the other side.

This is the actual view from the train station. No joke.
Hampton Court Palace hasn't had royalty living there in almost 250 years, and was built by Henry VIII (but who knows which wife he lived with there) and massively expanded by William III to be a rival to Versailles palace in Paris. Hampton Court Palace is only one of two (the other being St James Place in Central London) palaces owned by Henry VIII that still exist.

The Palace
The palace grounds are full of trees, gardens, and lush lush grass. It's still very cold here, but they've planted purple and yellow flowers to beckon spring to arrive. The paths wander sound the entire property Until you arrive at a old fashioned maze - yes, a maze!! - made of beautiful, tall, perfectly manicured hedges, and passage ways that measure over .5 miles in distance. Say what you want, but that's awesome.

One of the walls in the small garden. Amazing.
What the maze looks like!
Gorgeous :)

The flowers are blooming... even though it was freezing.

No idea what these are, but they're pretty!
Secret Garden?
I actually was there on the perfect day - it was pretty cold (as it had been that entire week) for February, but it was extremely sunny and the entire property had a glow to it. The Gardens are vast and go all the way until the river, which is usually covered with regatta boats and people rowing crew. As it was lunch time, there were park benches everywhere, covered with people enjoying their lunch in the sun, trying their hardest not to feed all of the ducks and geese that line the river side.

I didn't go into the castle, because they are typically similar, and usually don't have much inside except history placards (but don't get me wrong - I love those), so I figured I'd save my money for something new.

The rest of my afternoon was spent wandering the high street and finding a cozy cafe run by two sisters from Poland. It was called Five at the Bridge... And was the fifth door on the street opposite the bridge that lead you to the palace gates. After two perfect cups of tea I was finally warm, and ready to venture back to the city.

I love these kinds of mugs... but they wouldnt sell one to me!
I'm set for the day!
Hampton court was perfect for a day trip... Beautiful and removed from the hustle and bustle of he city, but really cute and fast to get to.

Thanks Surrey :)

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