Posts Tagged With: hallmark channel home and family

Winter in Europe



“Oh, the weather outside is frightful.” These song lyrics are never more true than when you are in Europe during the winter. While the temperatures are chilling and snow covers most of the ground, there is also no better time to travel to this continent. The scenery of the different countries is beautiful and you’ll leave with tears in your eyes, wanting to stay. Here are your top tips for planning your trip for winter in Europe.

Where to Go:

  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Hungary

When to Go: 

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April

What to Pack:

  • Fleece Jacket
  • Insulated Coat
  • Warm Pants
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Wooly Socks
  • Winter Shoes
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Homemade Spanakopita

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This past weekend, I went to a Greek bake-sale in my hometown. Yum! I could have bought everything on the menu. One of the items I purchased was Spanakopita, which was devoured in no time. So, I decided to try to make some at home and wanted to share the recipe with you. Here is my homemade Spanakopita recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds spinach, washed and drained
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 to 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup  unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound filo pastry sheets

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large sauce pan. Add half of the spinach and saute until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Remove spinach and squeeze out excess liquid, then chop roughly. Repeat with remaining spinach, using 1 more tablespoon of oil. Pour off any liquid from the pan, and add remaining oil.
  2. Add scallions and saute until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach, parsley, salt and pepper to the scallions. Cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from to cool.
  3. Stir the feta and beaten egg to the cooled spinach mixture.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a baking sheet with the melted butter.
  5. Unroll the filo dough on a flat surface and keep it covered with waxed paper and a damp towel so it doesn’t dry out. Using a sharp knife, cut the filo into 3 by 11 inch strips, and recover with the towel. Use a pastry brush to brush a strip of filo with melted butter. Place a small spoonful of spinach filling 1 inch from the end of the pastry. Fold the end over the filling to form a triangle, then continue to fold up the strip in triangles, like folding up a flag. Continue with remaining strips of dough, placing filled triangles on the baking sheet and keeping them covered with a towel until ready to bake.
  6. Brush the triangles lightly with butter, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Enjoy!

 

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Giant’s Causeway – Northern Ireland

  
Known as one of the most beautiful sights in Northern Ireland, Giant’s Causeway is made up of more than 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, which are a result of volcanic activity. However, people believe the site was a bridge built for giants.

Legend has it that Finn MacCool was an Irish giant, who was challenged to a fight by Scottish giant, Benandonner. MacCool accepted the duel and built the causeway to travel the North Channel to meet Benandonner.

As for the rest for the story, there are different versions. One states that MacCool defeated Benandonner. Another says he disguised himself as a baby and hid once he saw how big Benandonner was. Benandonner went looking for MacCool, but when he saw the baby’s size, he ran thinking the real MacCool must be even larger than him and destroyed the causeway.

However the legend ends, we can all agree on one thing – Giant’s Causeway is absolutely breathtaking and a must-see.

Some little known facts about the location are:

  1. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland.
  2. In 1987, it became a national nature reserve by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.
  3. The column’s tops form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot to under the sea.

 

 

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What NOT to Do in Washington D.C.

  
When planning a trip, you probably focus on what to do while at your destination. However, it is just as important to know what NOT to do. 

Every now and then, I’ll take a look at various places and give you the insider’s scope on the do not’s, starting with Washington D.C.

  1. Don’t spend all your time on the mall. Venture into other areas of the city and go where the locals go for shopping, dining, etc.
  2. Don’t drive or take taxis. Instead, use D.C.’s metro and be sure to purchase a SmartTrip card if you are making multiple rides.
  3. Don’t be afraid to cross the Potomac River into Northern Virginia. Arlington National Cemetery is there, as well as, the Iwo Jima memorial and Mount Vernon.
  4. Don’t skip the Mall at night. At night, the monuments are lit, adding a powerful and historic feel to them. The monuments are open 24 hours and park rangers are on duty until 10pm.
  5. Don’t visit in the summer. This is one of the busiest and most crowded times, especially around the 4th of July.
  6. Don’t try to visit every museum in one trip. There just isn’t enough time. 
  7. Don’t dine at chain restaurants or tourist traps.
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Why I Travel

To travel – it’s a verb with a heavy definition. . What exactly does it mean “to travel?” Well, it means something different to everyone, so here is my definition.

Growing up, I remember watching Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown and her shows, Great Hotels and Passport to Europe. With every episode, I kept thinking “Samantha has the best job in the world and I wanted to grow up like her.” As I watched the shows, I quickly realized I had a passion for traveling.

The reason why I travel is simple-to see the world and gain experiences. There is so much learning to be had outside of your comfort zone. My travel philosophy is to travel as much as possible, while learning about the history of an area and the people who live there. It also includes being adventurous and making memories. This philosophy plays into my five step travel list.

For every trip I take, I must:

  1. Take tons of pictures. I always come home with about 1,000+ photos.
  2. Meet and talk with the locals. You’ll get the best information about where to eat, what to do, and learn more about the area from a person who lives there.
  3. Research the location’s history and plan out my must-sees. However, I am careful to not plan too much and allow time for adventures.
  4. Get lost—on purpose. Take a back road, walk down a different street, just get out and explore.
  5. Go back to that same destination. It might not be the next year, or the year after that, but sometime in my life, I will make the time to go back.

If you want to get out of your comfort zone and see the world, you must travel. It doesn’t have to be a three week excursion. It can be a day trip to a nearby city or even a stay-cation in your own town. Just travel!

Trust me-adventure is out there. You just have to make up your mind and go!

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Simply Carolina: Going to Carolina in My Mind

 

North Carolina-one of my favorite places in the world. Trust me, I could make you fall in love with everything Tarheel state related and here’s why:

1. We have the best of both worlds-beautiful mountains and beaches.
2. UNC v. Duke basketball rivalry is a can’t miss.
3. The Wright Brothers and the gift of aviation.
4. We have all four seasons.
5. BBQ–need I say more?
6. There is a city for all types of people.
7. There are TONS of places to have fun for a day-trip, such as Carowinds, The Biltmore Estate, and the Outer Banks.
8. We all know the wonderful taste of Cheerwine.
9. North Carolina is known as “The Hollywood of the East Coast.”
10. You can’t beat the music and musicians from the state. James Taylor, Scotty McCreery, Ben Folds….(the list goes on and on:) )

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Simply Carolina: Cheerwine Cupcakes

Happy Simply Carolina day! There is a special post planned for Wednesday, so I’m celebrating Simply Carolina two days early.

I love absolutely love this recipe and there is nothing more Southerner than a cup of ice cold Cheerwine.

Don’t know what Cheerwine is?  The beverage is a cherry soft-drink, founded in North Carolina. Trust me, it is a must-try! This soft-drink has multiple uses, including being made into quick and easy cupcakes!

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 12 ounces Cheerwine
  • 1/8 teaspoon cherry flavor
  • Maraschino cherries
Frosting: 
  • 4 cups Cheerwine
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2-3 cups of powdered confectioner sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line cupcake pans with liners and set aside
  2. Whisk together cake mix, Cheerwine, and cherry flavor. Pour into prepared pans and bake according to package instructions. Cool completely.
  3. In a saucepan, boil down the Cheerwine until it has reduced to 1/2 cup.
  4. In a mixer, cream butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar on medium speed. Slow speed to low and add Cheerwine reduction. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, adding additional sugar if needed.
  5. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and top with maraschino cherries.

Enjoy!

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Simply Carolina- Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

It’s recipe time for today’s Simply Carolina! This BBQ sauce is a classic in South Carolina and is often referred to as the “South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce.” Trust me, it’s a can’t miss.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to blend well.

Enjoy!

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My Travel To-Do List

We all have bucket lists. Lists of things we want to do before our last day on Earth. But, I don’t like calling them “bucket lists.” Sounds as if you are counting down the days. So, instead, lets call them “to-do lists.” My to-do lists consist of making memories, spending time with loved ones, and traveling. Here is my travel to-do list.

  • Visit all 7 continents
  • Visit all 50 states
  • Go on a Route 66 road-trip
  • Visit and hike Machu Picchu
  • Hike Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Camp under the Northern Lights
  • Visit Brazil during Carnival.
  • Dive through the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
  • Walk across the Trift Bridge in the Swiss Alps
  • Swim in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon
  • Kayak through Caddo Lake in Texas
  • Go on a hot-air balloon ride in Turkey
  • Go fly-fishing in Montana’s Glacier National Park
  • See the floating lanterns in Thailand
  • Watch the Changing of the Guards in London
  • See the Fairy Pools in Scotland
  • Tickle whales in Mexico
  • Walk the Great Wall of China
  • Helicopter over a volcano in Hawaii
  • Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

Dreaming a little big, aren’t I? That’s the fun of it- dream and LIVE big!

What is on your travel to-do list?

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The American West

Throughout the world, many places fascinate me with their history and picturesque views. One of these places is the American West. This area of the United States is full of road-trips, scenic views, and historical sites.

Take a look at my top seven places to visit in the American West. Trust me, it was hard to narrow it down to seven!

The Grand Canyon- National Park in Arizona

Hidden Lake- Glacier National Park in Montana 

Painted Hills- John Day Fossil Bed National Monument in Oregon 

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota  

Cathedral Lake- Yosemite National Park in California 

Bisti Badlands in New Mexico 

The Window- Big Bend National Park in Texas 

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