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Avec Amour : March 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Gear for New Zealand

While we're not going on an all out backpacking adventure in New Zealand, we are doing some hiking and fun outdoors-y stuff! Including Tongariro Alpine Crossing, kayaking in Abel Tasman & exploring Waitomo Glowworm Caves! Here is some gear we're bringing to make the adventure go more smoothly.

Travel Tripod
Ok, so this might not be technical, but I'm really excited about it! My friend suggested the Joby GorillaPod Hybrid Gray... it looks so goofy but can be wrapped around anything! On our trip to Italy we were always hoping for a rock or something to set my camera on, but this will make me feel more confident my camera won't fall off a cliff :) And it really eliminates the need for a stranger to take a terrible photo, cutting off the top of Matt's head. Win-win.

The Right Layers
During the Alpine Crossing, they advise you two bring layers because the weather is much cooler at the top of the summit. It can drop 30 or 40 degrees in just a couple of hours! We're preparing with warm, insulating, and moisture wicking clothing, in light layers. Technical clothes (running shirts and snowboarding shells) are the best, as they weigh the least and work so well.

Travel Hammocks
These just looked too fun! This isn't the exact hammock we got, but it seems similar. It packs up into itself and take up pretty minimal space in our suitcase. I'm day dreaming about pulling over on the side of the road and posting up for an hour or so. Sounds awesome, right?

Collapsable Hiking Poles
Rocky terrain, clumsy people - enough said. We bought a set of 2, so we will use 1 each when needed. But they can stay tucked in a backpack when they aren't needed. These are the hiking poles we purchased.

This is some of the gear we're taking! Have any other suggestions for us to bring?

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Monday, March 23, 2015

This Week in Travel Vol.20

There are so many travel blogs & publications I read on a daily basis! Wanted to share some of my favorite links, articles, info graphics and tips from around the web this week.

a little throwback to 2011 - we hosted a murder mystery party. Hawaiian themed!
Special shout out to this girl, who turns 29 this week! She just so happens to be one of my best friends, and my birthday twin as well ;) We always had a blast making our birthday a big celebration, and it's always a little sad to celebrate without her! Happy birthday, E!  Love you!

I hope everyone got a little spring this week, I know some of you still had snow on the ground and that is a BUMMER. Hoping for warmer things this week :) I'm making my way through this bucket list as we get ready for NEW ZEALAND

Any last minute tips for me?

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Bucket List

The only good thing about winter, is knowing spring is right around the corner :) 
Nashville has been crazy town when it comes to weather, and after back to back snow and ice storms AFTER Groundhog Day, these last few days of sunshine and warmth are certainly appreciated! Right on time, Nashville. Life is a little bit better now that the time has changed, and with the first day of Spring on our doorstep, I'm quite the happy girl.

Here's my spring bucket list (in no particular order)
- Drink wine outside (time to bring white back into the rotation!)
- Bust out our kiddie pool & have friends over
- Hit up the farmer's market 
- Dine al fresco 
- Go for walks after work
- Fresh Flowers
- Enjoy weekend walks to 8th & Roast for coffee
- Use our front porch more
- Go to the beach
- Plant my garden
- Work on our "curb appeal" out front of the house

Here are 4 Spring Bucket Lists items you can Pin or post to Insta!

I hope everyone has a WONDERFUL first day of Spring! What's on your bucket list?

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WINNING WEDNESDAY: In flight kit (a giveaway!)

Today is the last giveaway I'll host for a while - but it's so cute I want to keep it for myself. I promise I won't :)

It's an in flight beauty sleep kit from Sephora. SO CUTE! With a 30 hour journey to New Zealand rapidly approaching, I'm thankful for my sleep mask and self-made carry on pouch. But this one will go to one lucky winner! 
This kit contains: 

- Contoured sleep mask 
- Ear buds 
- Footies 
- 3 x Hair ties 
- Luggage tag 
- Travel pouch

You can buy one here or you can win one by entering below! This contest is open until Friday at 6pm EST. GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*please note this giveaway is not affiliated with Sephora. I purchased this set for the purpose of giving it away. Any questions please email me at avecamourblog@gmail.com - Thanks!*

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Monday, March 16, 2015

This Week in Travel Vol.19

There are so many travel blogs & publications I read on a daily basis! Wanted to share some of my favorite links, articles, info graphics and tips from around the web this week.

Hello again! Apologies for the blogging hiatus - was in San Antonio (home of the Alamo!) for most of last week and ended up playing catch up for the rest of the week. Such is, I suppose.

San Antonio was so cute! We spent the majority of the time scouting for an upcoming photo shoot, but we were able to dine on the Riverwalk two nights and enjoy a couple of local coffee shops, which I'll share at a later time. I'd highly suggest it for a weekend getaway.

The paper chain has been created, and we're officially in the countdown mode to New Zealand! Starting to prepare our gear, think about what we're going to pack, and tie up loose ends. We're in the home stretch and I'm SO EXCITED!

In other amazing news, Spring Ahead has changed the game for me, and I feel like the days are 30 hours long. I LOVE IT! I really hope America changes its mind before fall and we never have to fall behind again. 4.30pm sunsets are just about the most depressing thing ever. What are you doing with your extra hour?

I hope everyone had a wonderful week, and is loving the switch to Spring!

PS - Now that the weather & post office have gone back to normal, all my Wednesday winners will have their goodies SOON! And I'll host one more giveaway since this week was a bust! Stay tuned :)


Friday, March 6, 2015

Is Everything Bigger in Texas?

That's what I've heard... but I've actually never been! (Unless you count long layover in the Dallas Airport... which I do not).

I'm headed to the San Antonio area for work next week. Only for 3 days, and it will be pretty jam packed with work... not a lot of free time. We'll be staying near the famous San Antonio Riverwalk, which also happens to be near the Alamo, so I'm sure I'll at least drive/walk past these sites. 

We're opting for hotel, after Airbnb for 2 wasn't as readily available for this trip. We are hoping for an Airbnb to work out for our longer trip (and larger group) in the area, as the "Hill Country" is absolutely gorgeous!

What I'm really interested in is FOOD. And COFFEE. Please share your knowledge on the subject. I've done some research, and the only city guide (not provided by the City or Lonely Planet) is this one from 2009. I'd love a more current point of view :) 

In search of: the world's best tex-mex, delicious coffee, farm-to-table vegetables, and of course, any local specialties in the least touristy way possible. Texas, what do you have for me?!

If we had more time (which hopefully we will on our next trip there in April), I'd love to rent bikes and try this trail. Looks like fun! I'd also love to be in town for one of the many farmer's markets. Since I've been researching farms in the area for work, all I've seen is beautiful carts of veggies I wish I was eating! Our farmer's markets are a few months from opening in Nashville, and it can't come soon enough for this herbivore (yes, I know biologically I am an omnivore. People love to correct me.)

Here's a few places I have my eye on (according to research & Yelp reviews). Please alert me if I'm making a tiny huge mistake.
Rosealla Coffee - Breakfast also sounds divine.
Local Coffee - Iced Coffee on tap!
Rosario's - I keep reading about it, so they must be doing tex-mex pretty well.
Green - good lookin' vegetarian menu... 

Have a great weekend, and please let me know if you have any suggestions! I'll let you know if everything is as big as they say.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

WINNING WEDNESDAY: Vapur Collapsible Water Bottle (a giveaway!)

Happy Wednesday! Let's win things, shall we?

One of my all time favorite things I've discovered is a Vapur water bottle. Funny story, I thought I invented it (in my head) - thinking of a water bottle that worked more like a Capri Sun, after being sick of carrying large Nalgene bottles in my purse. 
The Vapur rolls up so you can carry it with you at all times and fill up when needed! BUT, it opens, closes, and drinks like a normal water bottle. It's always with me when I travel, and kind of with me all the time. I love it. It looks crazy, but who cares - it's the best.
Rolls up to the size of a candy bar.
You can win one today! I'm giving away a red Vapur Element bottle 0.7L in size.

You can enter up to 8 times with the options below - good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

all images via 

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Translating Packing Lists Into Real Life

I shared my planned packing list list for Italy, but wanted to follow up and show how it panned out in real life. It's easy to say you're going to pack light, but it can be harder to actually do it! Honestly, packing light takes a little more planning on the front end, but makes your trip smoother, lighter, and generally more enjoyable (at least it does for me!) Here's what the contents of my backpack looked like!

The gold scarf at the top was swapped for a lighter weight black & white scarf.


It all fit in my 45L osprey backpack with room to spare! Here's how it looked out on the road :)

What I would have done differently:
- I brought 2 dresses but only ended up wearing 1. For fall/winter, I should have stuck to 1 dress as most days were a bit chilly (even with tights). Plus, I'd never worn the grey dress before. If you don't wear it in real life, you won't wear it on the road. Broke one of my own rules!
- I foolishly brought suede flats for my 2nd pair of shoes. With the rainy forecast, I don't know what I was thinking! These were in my backpack the entire time.
- 2 jackets. I wore both of them, but definitely could have streamlined down to 1 and chosen another medium weight top for layering options.

Overall, not too many regrets. And definitely not ones that were too terrible! But as per usual, you can usually pack less than you think you need :)

What I wouldn't change:
- My ankle boots. They were great for long days of walking, water resistant, and matched everything! 
- Layers. I got creative with my layering, putting my plaid shirt under my black dress OR the striped sweater, wore it over the black top, or by itself. Same with the mustard cardigan! Versatile as they come, and added color to otherwise plain outfits. 
- My black shirt from Vinnie Louise. It's heavy enough to be warm but billowy and breathable. With a belt it has great shape or can be layered under a sweater! I think I wore it on every train ride because it was so comfortable.
- 2 different scarves. These scarves were different colors, materials & weights. They instantly changed an outfit's look, PLUS it was nice to have different weights for weather changes.
- Low profile trainers. I found these on sale a few weeks before we left (for $30 at DSW) and I'm so glad I bought them. We hiked in Cinque Terre (so running shoes were necessary), but didn't use them again - these were half the weight and size of my Brooks running shoes, and saved me a ton of space.

Thinking about New Zealand next month, I'm trying to be smart with my packing! Here's what I know so far about our trip.
- Hiking at least 2 full days (one of those hikes will require cold weather gear)
- Driving (clothing that is comfortable in the car without being frumpy)
- The weather will be Spring-ish. Warm days, cool nights (maxi dresses, lightweight layers, thin scarf).

We'll also be sea kayaking, wine tasting, exploring cities, glaciers, and all sorts of crazy stuff. It's looking like my bag will be filled with a lot of athletic wear! Similarly to Italy, we will be bouncing around quite a bit - so i'll need easy mix & match items that pack well without wrinkling. Challenge excepted.

If anyone has been to New Zealand and has any tips on visiting in the late Summer/Early Fall, please let me know! I'm all ears!

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Monday, March 2, 2015

This Week in Travel Vol.18

There are so many travel blogs & publications I read on a daily basis! Wanted to share some of my favorite links, articles, info graphics and tips from around the web this week.

The Bahamas and warmer times.
Is anyone else getting Spring Fever? 

This week can be summed up with "dreaming of warmer weather". I'm headed to the San Antonio area for work next week - I'm praying for warmth! My pasty skin needs a little Vitamin D (even if I might only get it walking in and out of the hotel). 

In positive news, Daylight Savings is NEAR! The countdown is on for less than a week, and I think we're all ready for the longer evenings. At least I am! I don't know why we EVER fall behind... it's depressing.

A few links for the Spring State of Mind:

Hope everyone has a great week!