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Avec Amour : January 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

Save Money on Round Trip Flights by Booking One-Way's Instead

When I started traveling (I was 15 going to visit my boyfriend ;), a one-way flight was a HUGE cost. I could never figure out why it wasn't half of the cost of the flight. Now, with airlines like Southwest, Allegiant, and Frontier, it's more common to pick your times and pick your price.

However, when traveling on larger airlines, I always like to check the one-way to round trip ratio - JUST incase.

I'm in a wedding in Seattle in April, and going out early for the bachelorette party. I'll be flying April 10-20 and Matt will join me towards the end for the actual wedding. A few months ago when I looked, flights were around $250 round trip (GREAT for Seattle), but it was early out, so i waited.

Wrong. Move.

Round Trip Flights from Nashville to Seattle April 10-20
Checking in this week, flights were $405 MINIMUM for undesirable departure times or several layovers on the basics like Delta, American, United, etc. Woof. I know sometimes you don't get everything you want, but it seems awful to overpay for no convenience?!

After checking Frontier, and seeing almost a $75 price difference ($330, much better!) - $150 there, $180 back - I thought I would see my options of booking two one-ways on the larger airlines, or perhaps only one Frontier flight (they're kinda my least favorite. No water or anything!)


It takes an extra minute to search again, but it can be so worth it! Low and behold, there was major money to be saved.

TO SEATTLE - $130


FROM SEATTLE - $132
That takes me $404.05 flight down to $262.02.... Saving me $142.40. Essentially paying for all of mine and half of Matt's flight! I'll take it! Or as a couple, we saved almost $300 on our trip. That's quite a large chunk of money!

So next time you're booking travel - just for kicks - try it out. It might save you some money, it might not. But it's totally worth looking!

Have you ever booked two one-way flights instead of a round trip? Any tricks to saving money on airlines?

xo


PS - I always book directly through the airline! But Expedia is a great way to see most of your major airlines in one spot. Once you've found a good price, head to the airline's website to complete your booking. Prices are always the same, and if it's not, call the airline! They'll be happy to honor that price!

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Five on Friday

Here are 5 things that made my week awesome. I hope you enjoy!

1 - New Music


My friends Steph and Tim are this gorgeous couple - plus they're incredible musicians. They just released their first EP today called "Love is a Legend". Their band's name is Copperlily, and they're amazing! Check it out here.

2 - Pretty Modern Calligraphy


My friend Rachel has always had the best hand wring. She was my RA my freshman year, and she made us these beautiful coffee mugs with our names on them, which I still have! Now, she's honed her skills as an artist and started HoneyHoney Calligraphy - she does all sorts of invitations, lettering, stamps, etc. I ordered an address stamp from her, and I'm incredibly obsessed with it. She launched her website this week which is totally exciting! Check out her website and Etsy shop.




3 - Weather >.< App


I saw this mentioned online this week and have been cracking up ever since. I'm a self proclaimed cat lady (luckily I tricked Matt into marring me), and am not ashamed AT ALL. And things like this are just hilarious! Download it here right meow.

4 - Using up my Sweet Potatoes



Last week I made sweet potato bruschetta. Even though it sounds really weird, it was delicious! I actually might make it again this weekend. It was super satisfying and felt really decadent, even though it wasn't at all! Vegan, paleo, gluten free and awesome.

5 - Anchorman 2



I didn't plan on seeing this movie, but my friend Nick was in town and wanted to see it. It was pretty funny. The end scene with all of the news channels a la the original Anchorman was probably my favorite part. Anyone else see this and feel like you were in college agin? :)


I hope everyone had a wonderful week! Check out the link-up below! :)



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Friday, January 17, 2014

CSA Veggies: Sweet Potato Bruschetta

Even though I haven't picked up a CSA in over two weeks (it's over until springs... wahhhhh!) I still have a few sweet potatoes to spare :) However, I was stuck in a bit of a rut, making the same few things with them. Until tonight.

A not to secret is that i LOVE bread. Anything that involves bread, count me in. I'm the person who goes to Panera and PRAYS that they give me the baguette instead of the apple. It's a serious problem. I never buy it because i'll eat the entire loaf, but I love something that makes me think i'm eating bread. Cue bruschetta.

Who doesn't love bruschetta? It's SO GOOD! But instead of bread, i used sliced up sweet potatoes. I barely missed my beloved bread. Not to mention this is vegan, gluten free, paleo, and anything else you can be these days ;) It's also super filling! Great for an appetizer or in addition to a main course.



Sweet Potato Bruschetta

2 - Regular sweet potatoes, peeled
a little grape seed oil for the pan

1 - tbsp olive oil
2 - tomatoes, chopped
2 - green onions, chopped
handful of italian flat leaf parsley
1 - tsp salt
1 - tsp pepper
1 - tsp garlic
1/4 - tsp chili powder
couple dashes of cinnamon

1. Peel your sweet potatoes and then cut them in half, Slice each of the halves into 1/4inch slices.

2. Put a large pan on medium heat and add grape seed oil. Lay the slices of sweet potato in the pan and cover. Flip every 3-4 minutes until cooked through.



3. Chop onion, parsley, and tomato (to pico de gallo consistency), add spices and olive oil, stir and set aside. (Note: Try this, you may want to add a little more chili powder or cinnamon, just to go with the sweet potatoes. Or wait until you try just one slice and then add seasoning accordingly)


4. Once sweet potatoes are browned and cooked through, take off heat and top with tomato mix. Serve immediately, enjoy!



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Friday, January 10, 2014

How to Budget Travel Into Your Lifestyle: Part I

If there's one question I've been asked over and over, it's "how do you travel so much?" quickly followed by things like "It's so expensive" and "I wish I could do that"

Well guess what - YOU CAN! All it takes is deciding what is more important: a new shirt for $50 - or knowing that's 1/4 of your flight to Seattle.

via
Full disclosure on financials for this. I will give you an idea of my budget and how I made it work. It's about budgeting your essentials, and then deciding what's most important to you.

When I was 24 I was working at my first job, and after my raise, I was making $35,000/year. After taxes, this came to about $2700/month.


This is about what I was budgeting a month. Of course there's always the things you forget about, but I'm $100 under budget, and that's also what misc expenses are for. I also always budget extra into my 'gas' budget, for things like your registration, burnt out break lights, and oil changes.

My rent was rather low, but to make up for it, I was making double car payments ($300x2) so I could pay my car off early. Once that was done, I planned on taking that extra $300 a month to place towards student loans. Budgeting means taking care of responsibilities and debt first.

What you might notice is low is my "fun" budgets - $150 for eating out, for example. At approximately $15/meal with tax and tip, puts me at 10 outings a month (or 2 per week and a couple left over). This is more than enough to accommodate girls nights, coffee stops here and there, so-and-so's birthday, brunch on Saturdays with my roommate. There is absolutely no reason no eat out every night unless you don't have a kitchen. And even then, you can get a hot plate. It's one of the biggest money vacuums to a young budgeter - don't fall for the trap! Save your restaurant excursions for special occasions and being social. Skip the table for 1 or the close relationship with the local pizza delivery guy.

A small experiment - let's say every dinner costs $15 with tip. Every "quick, cheap" lunch costs $6, and every coffee you stop for is $3. If you do each of these things 3 days a week (very easy to do if you aren't paying attention!) you're looking at an average cost of $72 per week, or just under $300 per month. Check your eating out habits, and start saving to eat out when you're in Chicago instead.

Another thing that's low is my "others" category: mani/pedi's, movies, buying clothes. I would limit myself to 1 movies a month in the theater, and 1 mani/pedi every 2 months. A bottle of nail polish costs $8, and $35 saved is a 1/5 of a plane ticket.

Now clothes. Ohhhhh clothes. I'm a girl. I love them. But there are more important things in life! This doesn't mean I never buy any - it just means I play it right. I wait for sales, scope out TJ Maxx, and save my $50 budget from this month, so next month I have $100 to play with :) It's much more satisfying, and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.

Giving myself this budget allows me to fly 8-10 times a year, visiting friends and places all over the US. I'd also like to add that I took a few babysitting jobs a month - between 1-3 per months - and put that cash directly into a box labeled TRAVEL FUND. This is how I managed to visit Europe three years in a row. $50-100 per babysitting job, I was pulling in about $2k per year of unexpected cash. This could easily be done with a 1 day a week night job at a coffee shop, or doing retail floor sets. If you work one, 5 hours shift a week at $8/hr, you'll earn $2000 before taxes. Now where did you want to go again?

If you find yourself thinking you have no room in your budget, I'd challenge you to do this. Take your debit/credit card statement from last month and get a few colors of highlighters. Highlight anything like in spending (i.e., all coffee, or all take out/eat in food, all clothes shopping). You'll be shocked what you're spending! I did this with my coffee habit fresh out of college, and realized I was buying 1-2 coffees every single day - putting my bill at almost $200 a month! For that, I could have purchased a fancy espresso machine. I put myself on a budget of 2x a week, for more like $25 per month, and enjoyed my new extra $175 to buy myself a plane ticket.
via
Budgeting travel is all about taking all of your "extras" and deciding if they're worth it. Let's say you want to take a trip to New York with your girlfriends.
Flight: $200
3 days of meals: $150
Drinks+Coffee: $75
Broadway Show: $100
Hotel split 4 ways: $225pp
Weekend Metro Card: $25
Misc Spending: $50
Trip total: $800

Luxuries You Want:
iPhone 5s came out (you still have a 4s) = $200
Monthly Mani/Pedi $600/year (at $50 per session, including tip)
Never Packing Yourself a Lunch $1560/year (at $6/day, 5 days a week for 52 weeks)

Deciding if they're worth it?: 
Stick with your 4s for another 6 months, and your flight is paid for. $200 saved
Take cut your spa days to every 2 months instead, and pay for your hotel & drinks/coffee $300 saved
Decided to pack your lunch MWF every week, with leftovers, or batch cooked meals (very affordable) - even if you spend $50 extra on groceries a month, you'll have enough money to pay for your drinks, food, coffee, souvenirs, metro card, broadway show, and still have $275 extra to put towards your next trip. $650 saved

It's a matter of priorities. If new technology is on the top of your list, then go for the iPhone. If seeing old friends and new places ranks higher, stick with the ghetto phone as long as you can (I got an iPhone when the 4s came out - and I still have it), and enjoy texting slightly lesser quality photos to your friends stuck at home.

Do you have any budget tips or tricks? Where would you like to save up to go?
xo

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wanderlust Wednesday: Seattle, WA

Happy New Year to all! Now that you're one week in, do you still have a resolution? :)

I didn't really make any this year, but in the back of my mind I want to
- continually make  healthier choices
- travel more
- save more money
- finish fixing up this HOUSE

Hopefully I keep up with the first one... and the other three seem to happen easier for me ;)

Now to channel my second hope for my year, I've got a trip to Seattle happening this weekend. Long story short, but the original reasons for the trip are no longer existent, but my ticket was non refundable.... so Seattle, here I come!








This will be my second trip ever to Seattle, and I get to go again in April to assist Sharyn in getting MARRIED, and i'm so glad I can go twice in a short period of time! Because I freaking love it there.

Some places I'd highly recommend:

Using AirBNB.com - We stayed here and it was the best decision. It was about 7 blocks from Pikes Market and right by a major bus line. Not to mention we had a 2br condo for half the price of a 200 sq foot hotel room! Holler.

Portage Bay Cafe - Delicious brunch. They even have a 'toppings bar' full of fresh berries and other treats if you order french toast or pancakes.

Chocolati - Cute little coffee shop/chocolate shop in the Wallingford area.

Bauhaus Books and Coffee - Near downtown Seattle, good coffee, but awesome vibe. Has a wall full of books. I loved it.

Skillet Diner - Definitely not your mamas diner. The atmosphere was perfect and the food was divine. In the Ballard area.

Ferry to Bainbridge Island - it's really inexpensive and a nice 30 minute trip. Bainbridge Island is this cute small town with a bunch of wonderful shops and restaurants. We ate here and had ice cream here. Going there was one of my favorite nights of our trip!

Hiking Poo Poo Point - Besides it's funny name, Poo Poo Point is one of the best views i've ever seen - you can clearly see Mt. Reiner and it's beautiful. It's located in Issaquah, about 30 minutes from Seattle. The trail is moderate (a few steep points for this Florida girl, but nothing you can't handle!) Probably about a 3 hour round trip hike. On our way out, we stopped at the Issaquah Brewhouse, which is a Rogue brewery, which was a lot of fun. And well deserved after our hike!


This time, I know a few things we'll be doing:

Snowboarding at Crystal Mountain - Now let's review... I'm not very good. But it's fun! And I got my very own snowboard for Christmas from my wonderful husband :)

apparently she's a good one. i'll let ya know. via Forum

Dinner at Radiator Whisky for Traci's Birthday - this place looks AMAZING. Grilled Goat Cheese and Tomato Jam sandwich is looking like the winner... plus one of their signature cocktails, please.

Planning Sharyn's Bachlorette weekend in Victoria, BC! This i'm super excited about, because I've had BC on my list for a while now. From what I hear, it's amazing. So i'm pumped.

Drinking more coffee than I could imagine - which is fine with me, because I LOVE IT! I'd like to try here, here, and here (looks like fun!).

Have you been to Seattle? Any tips to offer? Also taking any tips from experienced visitors to Victoria, BC! xo


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Monday, January 6, 2014

2013: A Year in Travel


I find I'm at my best when I have a trip coming up. It's something i've been addicted to a long time, and have always been happiest spending my money on plane tickets! Here's a review of where I went in 2013

January

Fort Myers, FL/Sanibel Island, FL/Orlando, FL - visiting my family and seeing friends... always a good time. Not to mention - Matt's first trip to Disney (since he was 8... and he doesn't remember at all).

With my Prince Charming (cheesy... I knoooow)

Sky bar with Alicia!

Bunch Beach

Sanibel Lovers


Ford's Garage, Ft Myers, FL
March

Ogden, UT/Antelope Island, UT - I've never been to Utah, but I can safely say it's one of the most beautiful and unique places in the US. If given the chance, GO FOR IT!

view from our cabin - unreal, I know.

on location, Antelope Island. Filling in for the makeup artist :)





In and Out - haven't been here since high school! Luckily the milkshakes don't have meat :)


Chattanooga, TN - for a beautiful wedding of our friends Danielle and Josh! They were married at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Gardens with a reception on the 34th floor of a hotel.




April

St Louis to visit my friend Kim. A short 36 hour trip, but i'd never been before! We saw the arch, ate yummy food, and went on our 2nd Budweiser brewery tour... and also became Brewmasters.






BREWMASTER OLSON


Kentucky - Road trips. It's only like 45 minutes away... so why not take a trip up for some diner food?


May

Seattle: My first time. You can read more about it on Wednesday!





Bauhaus Books and Coffee



Hiking Poo Poo Point

June

Chattanooga for my niece, Avery, turning 1!

Also - Kitty's first road trip! He was a trooper... basically slept on my lap the whole time.

My sister and her adorable family
July 

NYC #1 - Gotta love a good excuse for a trip to NYC. My old Sanibel posse was there, including my friend Libby (who moved back to London less than a month later)... so I joined.

'ello new york.

CUP in Greenpoint - the sweetest staff in NYC

Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn Heights with Casey!
King Noodle in Bushwick - it's off the beaten path, but it is incredible.

brunching with the Sanibel crew!


August

Tulsa, OK - also my first time here.... lots of time with my girls to help Jess G get hitched!







 Chicago, IL - for maybe the 100th time.... but it never gets old. I love visiting Ash! ALSO this time was maybe the best time, because we got to see Jimmy Eat World!

At Bongo Room - one of my favorites!



JIMMY!
September

Atlanta, GA - I've been through atlanta millions of times, but this was the first time i stopped to appreciate it

Kylie's gorgeous wedding!



Matt's first stop at Ikea

Photo booth at West Egg Cafe - check out that first pic. We look good.
NYC #2: Thanks to our credit card miles for this entire trip... and for the sweet digs at the Conrad New York. Such a nice hotel! Our main purpose of visiting was the Lord Huron & Alt+J show in Central Park - which was awesome!

Conrad

Hotel Bar

Touristing

Matt's contemplating this as a tattoo

Sup, Jersey.

Got to hang with my cousin, NYC's newest resident.

A good crew at Sweet Chick BK

BK Heights has the best view of the city!


Lord Huron - and Alt+J was amazing!

Yes... we are still in September. It was a crazy month! And this last trip went into October

Orlando + Caribbean: We road tripped down with two other couples to Epcot Food and Wine Festival... and then ventured on our 7 day cruise (and met up with 2 other couples, for 5 couples total!) Our ports were: Cozumel, Belize City, Roatan, and Costa Maya.



Epcot Food and Wine Festival! This was actually the first day of the event.

Cultured.
CRUISIN!
Peace out, America!



Self-imposed 80's night. 

Roatan. The best.

November

Atlanta #2 - We liked it much more than we thought! So we took a lovers getaway here for a day and a half to do some eating, drinking, and Ikea-ing (to fill up our almost renovated house!)


He's fun :)

i LOVE the quote on the wall!
 Capella Ixtapa - aka, heaven on earth. This is where we spent Thanksgiving and celebrated our anniversary (it's also where we went our our honeymoon, so it's sentimental for me!) Read more about Capella here and here.







December
LA... for a few hours - We had an 18 hour layover leaving Mexico - so we got to see some wonderful friends!


Bozeman/Big Sky, Montana - it's a winter wonderland for sure. It was also a bit of an arctic tundra this time... with nothing ABOVE -20 degrees the entire week we were there. Brrrrrrrrr. At least it's pretty. We usually snowboard but I only mustered up the courage to go into the cold ONCE. :)

the Bozeman airport is the CUTEST


Layer 1 of 25


Matt's eyes + Flash = nonexistent 
Bismarck/Fargo, ND - after Big Sky, we road tripped back to North Dakota with Matt's family. I also got to see my long lost roommate, Ashlee!!!

It was a crazy/amazing/wonderful/adventurous year. I wouldn't do it any different.

We have a few things penciled in for 2014, but not a whole lot set in stone.... except the trip I'm going on Friday - stay tuned for details of that in Wednesday's post! :) I haven't been to Europe in about three years... and i'm itching to go back! I'd also like to explore some new cities in the US - DC, Portland, Maine (anywhere in Maine, really), Asheville.... my list always goes on and on.

Where are you going in 2014? What's your goal? Domestic, international... tell me tell me!

xo


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