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Thursday, 23 March 2017

New York, New York

I finally made it to the city that never sleeps! I came on my own and although it would've been nice to see it with other people I still ended up having a great time.


I spent 5 days and 4 nights in New York which for me was enough time. On my own I tend to do a lot more sightseeing because I stop for quick-bites rather than sitting down for a meal and I don't tend to sleep late in the mornings. I think 5 days is enough time to see the main sights and it worked out perfectly then for me to go to Mardi Gras!


When I first got to NYC my jet lag was so awful; I was waking up at 3am and could not sleep at all. I eventually got up at 5.30 am because I was so bored and I just decided to make the most of it. I ended up heading to Times Square on a walk and it turned out the whole place was empty which was so strange because on all the photos I've seen of it it's always absolutely packed with people.

There was an art installation, 'We were strangers once too' and I felt I got to experience it all on my own which I loved. The idea is that the 33 different poles show bar codes representing the number of immigrants to NYC and when you stand in one particular spot they form a heart. I think it's brilliant and looked beautiful.


After a delicious breakfast and a healthy dose of caffeine (courtesy of my coffee and coffee-au-lait doughnut)...


...I headed to Grand Central Station. Again it was almost empty and I walked about soaking it all in. The roof is covered in astrological signs and there are some incredible chandeliers in there as well. I really enjoyed seeing a place I'd only ever experienced before on TV.



A little comparison for what the station looked like later on in the morning...


Perhaps jetlag isn't so awful after all.

After my mini sightseeing morning tour I relaxed for a while in the communal area of my hotel and had a look at the rooftop bar. I don't think I was missing out with all the fog!


It was like this every morning, dense fog and then a few short hours later...


Intense sunlight!

I took the sunway to Brooklyn bridge and walked to the halfway point taking in the incredible views. The skyline of the city is great to see and I would definitely recommend going for a walk here if you haven't already, I promise you wont regret it!


The Statue of Liberty was another must-see on my list. You can get the free ferry to Statten Island if you're not bothered about getting up close to the statue but I really wanted to see if so I headed to battery park to board the ferry to Liberty Island. Seeing the statue was great; I had tried to get Crown tickets but they had sold out months and months in advance so instead I went up to the pedestal. I'd recommend it, it was nice to make it more of a trip and the museum in the statue itself was really interesting.



The views on the ferry over and from Liberty Island were great so I had a lot of fun having a look at everything.


After the trip to Liberty Island I spent a few hours in the American Indian Museum and I would really recommend it. It was heartbreaking to read the accounts of people affected by colonisation and I think it's so important to remember their culture.

I also did a lot of general walking about and I saw some amazing street art:


I did go to central park as well but I didn't love if it I'm honest; I love being in the outdoors and it was all paths and dead grass - but maybe I was just unlucky with winter...

In terms of hotels:

I stayed in pod 39 hotel which I would recommend because it was the cheapest place I could find that wasn't a hostel but still has communal areas. I also stayed in Park Central which is right by Times Square and I'd recommend that as well. I actually preferred the pod rooms which are much lighter and modern but the location of Park Central was amazing. Genuinely minutes away from Times Sq.

And my final stop before I left?



To catch one last doughnut!

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Monday, 20 March 2017

What to wear at Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras was incredible. I did separate post on the parade and also the city but I thought it would be useful to do a short what to wear guide since I had no idea at all before I got there and I hate not knowing what to pack.


It was hot and varied between feeling quite sticky in the day and a bit chilly in the evening. Temperature wise it varied between 20- 37 degrees Celsius so come prepared. I ended up wearing patterned maxi skirts with vests, leggings with long tunic style tops and jeans with vests and a light cardigan on the colder days. In terms of Mardi Gras itself you can wear anything you'd like.

Other people were wearing things like:
Bodycon skirts with t-shirts,
Headdresses and masks,
Crazy facepaint/glitter
T-shirts and shorts
Essentially just go in whatever you like and you will 100% fit in.



Even the buildings are decorated as much as the people:




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DIY mothers day chocolate bark

These chocolate slabs are so easy and quick to make but look at how cute they are:

Thick dark chocolate slabs with a pinch of salt, edible gold dust, powdered blueberries, green tea powder topped with sugarcrafted ladybugs and bees. I made these as a gift for mothers day as I try to save money most of the time so I have more to travel with.

The green tea I really added for colour; I don't mind the flavour but I'm not crazy about it. The blueberry power is a different story, it tastes great and made the bark look really pretty.

If you'd like to make these, then melt 3 large 150-200g bars of chocolate. I wanted to make hotel chocolat-like thick slabs so I used a lot and recommend you do the same! My mum likes dark chocolate and so do I but if you have a sweeter tooth then absolutely change it up for the type you prefer.


Of course you have to test the chocolate first before melting it.


If you want to add a pinch of salt for a savoury hit do it at this stage. Then thickly spread the mixture onto a cling-filmed baking tray.


Time for decorating! I sprinkled gold dust over the chocolate with my hands and ended up with the most extreme skin highlight so if you use gold glitter then be careful haha. I just looked like a little glazed doughnut afterwards haha so use with caution!


The matcha powder and blueberry powder I gently sprinkled over the chocolate to get a mix of different colours.


Then it was time to introduce some woodland creatures...


...to their new home. Chocolate 'bark' needs some critters and I rehomed these ones I found from ebay. I think they were around 2.99 for 12 and definitely made a DIY gift look a lot nicer.


And that's it! So easy.
Wait until it's almost set to begin cutting. I didn't want to break this up with my hands and end up with the bees and ladybirds teetering on the edges of pieces so I outlined the slabs at this stage, just to make them easier to snap later on;


Once set, break it up and it's done.


I bought gift bags off ebay so I could make it look a little prettier.
Et voila! DIY mothers day bark!


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Saturday, 18 March 2017

New Orleans

After the craziness of Mardi Gras...


we still had some days left to explore New Orleans.

The day after the parade was so strange because it went from this ^^^ to this completely clean, empty space. You would never have guessed the parade had happened the night before from the look of all the streets, it was just so quiet. We decided that we wanted to spend some time sightseeing the city itself and seeing what it was like outside of the Mardi Gras bubble.
We started out sightseeing at St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square:


As you can see, the weather was overcast and muggy but it was still warm and pleasant to walk around in. I like a little bit of humidity because I'm not a fan of dry heat, but I know that I'm a bit of weirdo with that and most people are the opposite! If you are a humidity-hater, then don't worry because there are so many fun bars and shops you can go into to cool down. There's actually an absinthe bar round the corner from this church which I thought was quite a funny place to put it!



We ended up walking through the town down to the French Quarter...



We wanted to see the voo-doo shops, eat gumbo and listen to jazz and this quarter ticked all the boxes. The whole place is over-the-top, colourful and fun. We walked about drinking, gossiping and doing a little dream househunting where we found this absolute beauty:



It really does look french, doesn't it?

By this point we were a little tired from all the walking so caught a street car to save our feet from blisters. 


Before a little more sightseeing in the centre. New Orleans seems to just be bars, restaurants, cool shops or old buildings so there's a lot to do. I really loved the look of the Orpheum, it's so beautiful:


After a rest we headed to the garden district because we were recommended it so much by the locals. It's pretty, safe and full of shops and restaurants so we spent the afternoon walking around and trying to get a feel for the place. We also looked around the cemetery which I know sounds a little odd but it was full of tourists and tours looking at more of the voo-doo history side so it was interesting to have a look round. We also tried to find two perfect houses next to each other that we could live in if we were from a parallel universe and set our hearts on these:



With sharing this one as a close second ^^

We ended up sitting outside a bar, eating , drinking and relaxing in the district before heading back for a well deserved early night. We felt absolutely broken after the Mardi Gras experience, a little like after you've been camping or at a festival - that same absolutely tired to the bone experience. That nights sleep was an incredible reset button and the next day we headed out into the city bight and early to experience the famous Cafe du Monde for coffee and beignets. The coffee wasn't great but the beignets were delicious and since it's one of the 'must do' things in NOLA I think it is worth it for the experience. The main queue was massive but there's a little take out queue on the right that's much less busy so I'd recommend doing the same.




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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Exploring Washington DC

I stopped in Washington for a long weekend. I came to visit my friend rather than for sightseeing but I ended up really enjoying it. I was surprised there was so much to do and the architecture was just incredible. If you are planning a trip to the US definitely pop to Washington for a few days, I had such a great time exploring.


Since my friend lives here we ended up doing a lot of sightseeing and cramming the weekend full but if you have longer than a weekend then there are a million and one museums that you should check out...including the famous Hirshhorn. The queues to get inside were absolutely unreal so we just enjoyed the sculptures outside, including this embarrassed looking rock that I thought was so cute. It looks a bit sheepish doesn't it? Haha.



My friend has been living here for two years now and so is a seasoned tour giver haha. I was shown around all the famous monuments starting here...








...and finishing here.


I especially loved this quote:



We walked between all the monuments in one giant looop, and I mean giant, my friend's fitbit tracked that we walked 10 miles. No wonder I was tired afterwards! I was mad at myself for not wearing my steps tracker on the one day I did so much, typical! There's always competitions on them going on at work and I don't bother to enter. Isn't it typical that the one day I would've won it would be the day I don't wear my steps tracker haha.

To recover from all the walking we ate our weight in brunch in the city before heading to Georgetown. Georgetown was really pretty and full of beautiful buildings and restaurants. I also saw this weird little building with a door upstairs that looked a bit misplaced in the street haha. I didn't take that many photos here which is a bit of a shame but oh well, I will just have to go back again some other time.


Have you seen my posts on New York, New Orleans and Mardi Gras yet?

Until next time,

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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Ultimate Hangover-Cure Nachos

From my hangover to yours...


Cheesy nachos loaded with spicy beef, avocado salsa, cooling raita and hot tomato salsa...you can thank me later. Best served with a fizzy drink and an 'I don't want to do anything today' attitude.



I love the occasional night out but I feel so bloody awful the next day. The only thing that can help is food, and lots of it!
If you are suffering too then you need these nachos in your life. To make them you need to cook the beef mince with diced garlic and season with salt and pepper. Then add one teaspoon of paprika, one of cayenne pepper and two of cumin. Once it's cooked through place it to the side while you prep your dips. This is a good time to get the grill hot, ready for the cheesy topping coming soon...

First up: cooling raita.
Dice cucumber and coriander. Throw into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and two large tablespoons of natural yoghurt. Mix it together and it's done!


Next up; tangy tomato salsa.
Dice two/three large toms, a green chilli and half a red onion. Combine it and add a shot of lime or lemon juice- done!



For the spicy avocado salsa; Dice a red chilli, the other half of the red onion, a fistful of coriander and two avocados.



 Mash it up a bit and it's ready.




Now to assemble; Line a baking tray and load the spicy beef mine into the centre - leave about a two inch gap all the way around for the nachos. Cover with as much cheese as you want and put it under the grill for a few minutes under it's bubbling and golden.

Then lay out the nachos around the mince, start spooning on the dips and that's it! I prefer not to cook the nachos because I tend to find that they get a little soggy and I hate that but of course, do whatever you prefer. I know some people like to starve out hangovers but I just want to eat everything in sight so this is perfect.


 Until next time,

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