Changing Leaves, Abandoned Houses & Mint Ice Cream๐Ÿจ๐Ÿ

Life, thrifting

The weather has been gorgeous in my hometown lately.๐Ÿ‚

This last Saturday, my husband Tim and I just hung out with really no plans and it was so fun! Sometimes, work gets so busy for him and I’m caught up in so much petsitting that we have to make time.

So, we went out into the country and took pictures of the changing leaves and just did some exploring. We even went to a Goodwill we had never been to before. If you know us, you know that’s rare.๐Ÿ˜‚ Most of the Goodwills in our area, we’ve been to, and we have them classified: this one has the best shoes, this one has the best furniture, this one has the most cool and random things, etc…

We stopped when we saw this old, historic looking house. Probably from the late 1800’s, early 1900’s, but it had so much charm. It had an old metal gate falling down all around it and the prettiest front porch. I love finding places like this.

We also went to Cruze Farm and got some ice cream! They have such unique flavors and all of them are made with fresh cow’s milk! I tried their new mint flavor and Tim tried “Brookie dough”, a brownie and cookie dough combination.

This weekend was so fun and much needed! It’s a good reminder to just slow down, stop and take in what’s around you. Cleaning can wait until tomorrow. Some obligations can too.

Make the most of today.

P.S. The skirt I’m wearing was a thrifted tennis skirt and I love it. Top was from Old Navy for $10 and hat was from Ross for less than $7. I’ve been really into mixing patterns lately. I haven’t been in the mood or had time to thrift lately, but I’m hoping sometime next month when things slow down, I’ll get the chance to!โค๏ธ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป

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Quebec City: My Takeaways

how to, Travel

When I said I was going to Quebec City, Canada, I had two kinds of reactions:

1. “Oh cool! Hope you have a great time!”

and

2. “Why?”

When people ask me why, it’s kind of annoying. Do I ask people why they prefer beach vacations over taking in historical sites and pushing the envelopes of preconceived notions on culture?

No.

Do I ask people why they prefer all inclusive luxury cruises where they can eat all the fried shrimp they want and get sunburned and wear a nasty Dramamine patch behind their ear that just comes off as soon as you get near any kind of water?

No.

Do I even ask people why they prefer vacations that are perfectly sheltered and involve getting their pictures taken with a mouse and a whole cast of other fictional characters, rather than exploring hundred year old streets?

No. No, I don’t. I live and let live. You all can keep your Disney, your Sandals vacations and your Royal Caribbean, I’m a different breed, I have to say. And this is not me being snooty or better than thou either. I happen to love Disney…when the occasion calls for it. But since I am 28 and not getting any younger, I choose to explore the world, get out of my comfort zone and see everything I haven’t already seen. Broaden my horizons.

Want to know how I picked Quebec City, Canada?๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ I kind of just did. I set my mind on a place and then I research the heck out of it.

Quebec is a primarily French speaking place, but I didn’t let that stop me. After being in Italy and doing fairly well at making myself understood, I decided to take a stab at this. Actually, I know more French than I knew Italian.๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ I took a brief class at the age of 12 that taught me how to count to 20, some basic colors and phrases and…really, we use more French in the English language than we give credit for. Bouquet. Culdesac. Boutique. If you start thinking about it, it will blow your mind!

Another thing people were apt to ask me once they knew I was going to Quebec was: “Oh! They speak French up there? They’ll be snobby, won’t they?”

Now, really, they speak French Canadian. And no, they were not snobby at all. The people in Quebec were very friendly and if they saw me butchering their language, they would switch to English, accommodating me. That doesn’t say rude or snobby to me. That says polite and accepting.

Believe me though, I tried. I always like to give an effort when in another country. I want to show them that I am trying to understand their language and culture.

So, if you’re worried about a language barrier and that is keeping you from visiting this beautiful city, DON’T. Everyone was so nice there!

Another thing you should know about Quebec is that it is very walking friendly. We used the bus some to get to faraway places like Montmorency Falls or the mall when Tim needed affordable shoes because he brought his that he walked 94 miles (and then some) in Italy and everafter ๐Ÿ˜‚, but otherwise, if you don’t have a handicap or aren’t against it, you will have no problem getting around this city. Most of what you will want to see is very close together and it is actually fun to see how much you end up walking around the city! One day we walked 10 miles.๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Quebec is also absolutely gorgeous in the fall. Everywhere we looked, we saw changing leaves!๐Ÿ You can’t beat it in October, right before it gets really cold for winter and after the heat from summer has faded away.

It’s a place full of history, French culture and food, fall activities and so much more! If you haven’t been, I encourage you to look into it! And if not Quebec, maybe there is somewhere else you have been wanting to go to! I say, DO IT.

Save up. Research. And then go do the thing. ๐ŸŒŽ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿปโœˆ๏ธ

Top 7 Places to Eat in Quebec City๐Ÿฅ

A List, Food, Travel

Now, I’m a millennial, soooo…wait, I don’t have to preface this or explain to you, people of the internet! These are my top favorite eateries we tried while in Quebec City for our fall anniversary/birthday trip. I base this list on the following criteria:

1. The food must be good and fairly affordable.

2. The food and atmosphere must be very hip and aesthetic. Willing to overlook affordability somewhat if the atmosphere is banging and the food is delicious, but will not compromise on taste.

That’s pretty much it, so without further ado, here we go!๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿง€๐Ÿ”

1. Paillard

Address: 1097 Rue Saint Jean

This place was just good. You walk in, and it’s packed. Always. Not only do they have freshly baked breads and pastries, including macaroons, but they serve breakfast in the morning and lunch/dinner type assortments the rest of the day. We went there on two separate occasions, once for breakfast, once for lunch. Pictured above is our breakfast, The Matin Special, I believe, for less than $8. It features a bacon, egg and hollandaise croissant, a cup of fruit and a coffee, however, you can change up the ingredients of your croissant to ham and boost your coffee, but this was perfect for us!

When we had lunch here, there were sandwiches and soups galore to choose from, plus bottled drinks. Think deli style. You pick your drink, or get a fountain one, and order at a counter. Your order number is then called out when your food is ready.

Definitely hit this place up while in Quebec, but make sure you come a little earlier than you want to eat because it stays busy!

2. Le Chic Shack

Address: 15 Fort Street

Oh, the burgers at this place.๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ” Absolutely phenomenal. It’s a little Americanized, but not obnoxiously so. They have ketchup available for us southerners, but they still offer up a Canadian specialty that cannot be missed: poutine. You also can’t miss the location of this place–it is literally right next to Chateau Frontenac!

Pictured above is the Le du Fort Burger, which is piled with Canadian bacon, honey mustard and pickles for a truly amazing combination I’m still drooling over! (I love honey mustard, why does it feel so wrong and nay, so right to place it on a burger?!) we also ordered a side of Classique Poutine. The order you see here is a small. Only order the regular if you are starving or have a table to share with because them portions be HUGE.

Le Chic Shack’s take on poutine is great–steak cut potatoes in a gravy sauce with cheese curds. You’re wanting some right now, aren’t you? Because while writing this, I am! ๐Ÿคค Also, try their handmade sodas made with real fruit purรฉe! They had delicious looking milkshakes, but alas, we were too full.

3. Bols Et Poke

Address: 545 Rue Saint Jean

I couldn’t make this list without listing at least one asian restaurant. I have to have something asian everywhere I go. In Venice, Italy, I found a place that served stir fry and you best believe I got some. ๐Ÿ˜‚

This place is refreshing, clean tasting and just tastes so good. I do not remember the name of what I got, but it was vegan and gluten free. It consisted of noodles in a peanut sauce, avocado, rice squares, cashews, kale and cucumbers and it was freaking amazing. Tim basically got these giant sushi rolls that he said were also good. Together, our food was about $29. Not terrible, not cheap, but not terrible. The food was so good though, I’m not complaining!

This place was also very chill with window seating where you could just watch the world go by.

*Bonus Asian Food Lover Tip: If you love Bubble or Boba Tea as much as I do, you can still get that fix while in Canada! I got a great matcha boba tea at a place called Sushi Togo. 636 Rue Saint Jean*

4. Simon Patisserie

Address: 471 Rue Saint Jean

See, now you’re seeing why that VRBO I mentioned in my previous Quebec post is so great! It is on Rue Saint Jean and literally a stone’s throw from most of these excellent restaurants!

This bakery is one that Tim and I would pass literally every day. The sweet little woman who worked there had the prettiest pastries, cupcakes, sugared things galore, displayed in her window. She was always very kind when we would stop in and try some of her desserts.

Pictured here are a few of her top sellers: little dense pastries full of almond paste or raspberry filling. She also sold cookies, croissants, eclairs—pretty much anything you could think of! If you need something sweet, stop here!

5. Cafe La Maison Smith

Address: 1141 Rue Saint Jean

This little coffee shop is a chain around Quebec with many you can find, but not so prevalent as Tim Horton’s, the coffee and doughnut chain that is equivalent to America’s Dunkin Doughnuts.

At this cafe, you will find all your caffeinated needs and macaroons, pies and more. ๐Ÿฅง

I got a chai here, one of my favorite drinks, along with a lemon macaroon. Scrumptious!

6. Luzz

810 Boulevard Honorรฉ-Mercier

This place has an excellent lunch or breakfast! The dining area is in a little greenhouse like space.

Tim got a Monte Cristo and I had just a simple croissant and one of the BEST green tea matcha lattes I’ve had in forever. We’re talking totally perfect, no need to sweeten this, perfectly foam arted latte.๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿป

I should have taken a picture, but I was too busy enjoying it, so you’ll have to trust me on this one. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

7. Au Petit Coin Breton

Address: 2600 Boulevard Laurier

If you’re looking for crepes, look no further! This place not only has them, but a very quaint, French tavern sort of atmosphere in which you can enjoy them. I enjoyed the strawberries and custard crepes, which were delicious! My husband opted for a more traditional breakfast which included toast, eggs and fruit.

This is also a place right in the heart of Old Quebec, so you can explore after eating!

Honorable mention goes to Le Bureau de Poste(296 Rue Saint Joseph) in Lower Quebec, the more modern section of the city. It is a restaurant where all meals are only $5.95(talk about cheap eats!) and it is inside an old post office! Really cool.

I hope you all loved this list! What are your favorite things to eat on vacation? And have you been to any of these places in Quebec City?

Top 7 Instagram Spots in Quebec City๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

A List, how to, Travel

Quebec City, Canada.๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

It is such a beautiful place, full of French style architecture, cobblestone streets and gorgeous buildings and views around every corner!

Also, Quebec is where I went on my most recent trip, surprise!

Since I got so many pictures on this trip, I thought I would share, in my opinion, the Top 7 Instagram Spots in Quebec City!

1. Gare du Palais

Address: 450 Rue de la Gare du Palais

This train station is, simply put, beautiful. Whether on the inside, outside or in the garden surrounding it, you are sure to find a photo opportunity worthy of gramming!๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป The lobby is open even to nonticket holders who aren’t taking the train, so explore to your heart’s content! There is even an adorable little cafe you can enjoy. Also, don’t forget to check out the ceilings inside!

2. J.A. Moisan

Address: 699 Rue Saint Jean

When you’re in Quebec and you’re staying in Quebec for an extended period of time, you’re going to need groceries, and what cooler place to get them than at the oldest grocery store in North America?

This old timey store has a general store feel to it with its dark polished woods, nice displays and not to mention, all the delicious jams, cheeses, breads and desserts you could ever want! Stop here not only for your staples, but snap a few pictures as well!

3. Fairmont Chateau Frontenac

Address: 1 Rue des Carrieres

If you walk through the walls that surround Old Quebec, you can’t miss this hotel! It is a 5 star hotel perched up on a hill in the historic section of Quebec and is, coincidentally, the most photographed hotel in the world!

You will see many people snapping pictures with this castle like hotel looming in the background, but I’ll share another location from which you can get the perfect view of it for your pictures!

4. Pierre Dugua De Mons Terrace

Address: Parc de Champs de Bataille Avenue

This is one of the most stunning pictures we got on this trip! This terrace is really part of a park, which has terrific views of Quebec and Chateau Frontenac, without all the tourists and buses crowding into your pictures!

We just managed to catch this before the sunset. A lot of people were taking pictures on the grassy knoll above this, but I thought this bench not only looked like a more natural place to sit, but it just drew me in and looked like a great location for a photo!

5. Rue du Petit Champlain

Address: 61 Rue du Petit Champlain

This is a street that is not short on views! To access it, you actually come through a square where a lot of the cruise ships dock and let off passengers, so depending on when you go, there may be tons of tourists, or none at all. Around a few corners, you will find these stairs, where you can capture many buildings and an atmosphere at once.

You will also see the Furnicular, or small train that goes sideways up the mountain, which is very cool, and several touristy shops and restaurants. When taking pictures at this location though, be courteous. Don’t block the middle of the stairs, step off to the side, like I did in this picture. You still get the view, but don’t cause an obnoxious traffic jam!

6. Montmorency Falls

Address: 5300 Boulevard Saint Anne

Now for this one, you will have to have a car or take the bus, but I can help you out! After a week, we pretty much nailed the Canadian transit system, so here goes! (Honestly, the bus is a better bet, but if you insist on going to the falls by car, there is a $12 parking fee.) I would get a 1 day RTC bus pass, which can be purchased at the pharmacy chain called Brunet for around $17.20.

Directions to the Falls:

1. Get on the 800 green bus going to Beauport.

2. Ride until the very end. Literally, the end. The bus should just stop, but push the button if needed to signal that you want to get off. You will know you are there when you see a gas station called Couche Tard. No, I’m not kidding. ๐Ÿ˜‚ After much curiosity, we looked it up and it means “night owl”, not someone who watches way too much Netflix.

3. You can cut through the woods, or walk until you pass a red schoolhouse on the left, and then you should see the way to the falls.

Montmorency is great because it is FREE!๐ŸŽ‰ It is also 100 feet taller than Niagara. You can get some great pictures from the viewing platforms or the suspension bridge that hangs right over the falls! For the brave souls, you can also stand at the bottom and get sprayed like we did. ๐Ÿ˜‚

7. Rue d’Aigullion OR Rue Richeliu

Now please don’t hate me, but I don’t have the exact address for these colorful houses because they were so close to the VRBO apartment we rented(more on that later!๐Ÿ˜‰), but I believe it was one of the above streets. It runs parallel with Rue Saint Jean, where we were staying, and we just happened to find them!

They were beautiful and pretty much anyone’s dream. At the time I had this picture taken, there was a dumpster, but with some careful body placement and photoshop, I was able to remove it!๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป

Honestly, you can’t go wrong with taking pictures anywhere in Quebec! It is a beautiful place and these were just a few of my favorites! If you come here, you have to stay in the Old Quebec area or mainly, Upper Quebec.(The town is split into two levels with many stairs you can take to get to either level.) It has such an amazing charm and not to mention, places to eat! Look for that list soon!๐Ÿ‘€

If you are a couple going on a romantic trip, I would highly recommend this loft we stayed in around Old Quebec! It was perfect for just my husband and I and had a bathroom, little kitchen and breakfast nook, and bed! All the essentials in a little studio floor plan and easy walking distance to everything!

Above are a few of my own pictures of the space! It was easily accessed, the host was excellent at communicating and not to mention, it is such a cute little place and honestly very Instagrammable itself!โค๏ธ

We loved exploring Quebec! If you haven’t gone, you should make it your next fall trip destination! If you have been, I want to know, what were some of your favorite sites and things to do around the city?

Feeling Fine in Graphic Tees

being thrifty, thrifting

Who doesn’t love an awesome, comfortable, graphic T-shirt?

Lately, I have scored some great ones at Ross Dress for Less!๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป I am extremely picky about the T-shirt’s I buy because I don’t want to end up looking like a billboard.๐Ÿ˜‚ A T-shirt has to speak to me on a personal level and I have to agree with it in order to wear it! This “Feeling Fine” shirt was also in my favorite color, so that was a no brainer!

I also got one that says “Original” and a few others that had references to Tokyo on them. If you don’t know this about me, Tokyo has been and is incredibly high on my bucket list! But then again, most of the world is!๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

I paired this shirt with some shorts I made myself, fishnet tights and boots for a cool fall look. I love layering shorts and skirts with tights this time of year!

What are your favorite ways to layer? And what are some of the coolest T-shirt’s you own?

5 Ways to Make Your Dreams a Reality

how to, Life

If only life were as easy as a Disney movie.๐ŸŽฅ๐Ÿฟ

Well, I take that back. A lot of Disney movies have one or both parents missing or dead and some pretty bad stuff can happen in them, but what I mean is…Disney movies are typically full of characters that are dreamers.

You all should know the plot and formula by now, if you’ve watched any amount of them. The main character has a dream to do something or be something and…they usually end up doing it. Sometimes, they might need a push or something or someone else in the plot pushes them forward, but the point is, they usually achieve whatever their “dream” is.

Now, it isn’t always easy, but I think in our culture today, we associate dreams as being easy. It’s easy to dream and fantasize…but not so easy to take action steps to get us to our dreams.

I’m not saying I’ve lived out every single one of my dreams, but I have gone to Italy, something I’d only dreamed about doing before. The other day, I was watching an Indiana Jones movie that was set in Venice for part of it and I couldn’t believe that I had actually been there! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

So, here are 5 practical tips for how you can take action steps and get closer to making your dreams a reality!

1. Don’t set so lofty a goal.

Dreams are big for a reason, but sometimes–we can dream too big. You should always aspire to something, but start small. For example, I would love to travel the entire world, but I instead made a more realistic goal: to go to Italy for 17 days. And you know what? I did it! Start with smaller goals and work up to your big ones! ๐Ÿ’ฏ

2. Always be working to better yourself and learn things.

No Instagram success was built overnight. No CEO of a Fortune 500 company sat down at that desk after just turning one measly application in. The truth is, it takes hard work.

If you aren’t getting better, you’re usually getting worse or just…staying average.

For example, I’ve wanted to get better at social media lately. This has resulted in me reading up on everything to do with the subject. I’ve also wanted to invest more in my Instagram photography, so I’ve been looking at cameras. Read all the books you can, research and study because nothing happens by accident or overnight.

3. Make a list of things you can do each day or each week.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but if I don’t make lists, I’m prone to forget things! It’s not natural to constantly be working on the same thing or to remember everything you’ve been mentally digesting, so make yourself lists. 5 Action Steps To Start My Own Blog. 5 Things to Do To Improve My Photography. 5 Ways to Save up for My Next Out of Country Trip.

When you write things down, you not only sort of will them into existence, but you make them more concrete. You hold yourself accountable. You make lists for the grocery store and that stuff is all gone by the end of the month! Why not invest in yourself and your personal skills and dreams by making a list to help you achieve those dreams?!

4. Stop looking sideways.

I REPEAT—with a bullhorn and with emphatic tone—–STOP LOOKING AT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE DOING!

Okay, you can. To an extent. But do not get sucked into the trap of comparison. Instead of saying, “I wish I had what she has.” or “She makes doing what I want to do look so easy!” say, “What can I learn from this person?”

I’m going to use Instagram as an example because it has been on my mind lately, but I used to look at other travel bloggers and hate myself. It wasn’t until I realized that these stylized images are just that—stylized. They are literally only a fraction of a second of those people’s days and lives!

Instead of comparing myself to that fraction of a second, I attacked my own battle plan. I looked at what I could do to change my own feed. How could it be better? How could I get better at taking pictures and telling a story? Think of positive things and positive things will come!

5. Never give up.

It’s easy to give up, but dreams aren’t achieved easily. Think how much better your dream will taste and be when you actually GET IT.

So, get out there.

Stop making excuses.

Stop looking at everyone else.

And focus on YOU.

The going will be tough and you will have naysayers. Put in your earplugs and blinders and get to it.

Jonesborough Storytelling Festival

Life, Travel

Jonesborough, Tennessee. It’s a historic little town that is only an hour and a half from Knoxville, and yet I’d never been there until the other day.

Jonesborough is actually the oldest town in Tennessee and also home to the international Storytelling Festival. We had the opportunity to go this year when we were gifted tickets by some sweet friends and we loved the experience!

When you come to the festival, you are given fabric patches, like the ones we’re wearing! They are a lot cooler than nametags!

Photos were prohibited in a lot of the tents where the actual storytelling was going on, but we took a lot of pictures of the town, which is so charming! When you’re walking around, you see a lot of churches, old squares and general stores–it’s easy to picture horses going up and down the streets once upon a time!

The old brick walls of Jonesborough are also peppered with old advertisements, my favorite!๐Ÿ˜ There’s just something about faded paint!

But enough about the actual town! The Storytelling Festival was great! Speakers from all over the world come to weave tales and share anecdotes; it’s a festival that is going on 46 years strong!

It was very cool getting to hear stories from so many different varieties of people. We all have stories to tell and it made me realize that we shouldn’t discount our stories. If we don’t share our stories and what we’ve learned in our lifetimes, our stories die with us.

This is a festival that anyone can enjoy! There are tents scattered around the city, which you can walk to and pick and choose which speakers you listen to!

We laughed, we cried. I didn’t expect to go through so many emotions at this festival, but I did! These speakers share things from their personal lives, using comedy and sometimes even tragedy, to drive their points home.

Storytelling is rooted in every single ancient civilization that has existed here on earth. It also has deep ties to the South, where stories are told as often as sweet tea is made or pecan pies or casseroles are pulled out of an oven.

If you haven’t heard of or been to the Jonesborough Storytelling Festival, you need to check it out! It is held every October and is so fun!