Long Weekend Getaway to Cancun, Mexico

By Natalie Anne ❤

My close friends and I have decided to indulge in a yearly adult Spring Break excursion to celebrate the coming of Spring. Last year was LA and this year was Cancun, Mexico- a destination I put on the table since I have been dying to travel to Mexico and see the Mayan ruins.

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We are all young working professionals who are on tightish budgets and wanted to get the most bang for our buck. We ended up booking a great deal for a resort through a Cyber Monday deal back in November. We got a food & drink all-inclusive, three night/four day stay at the Flamingo Cancun Resort. The resort was right on the beach and in the heart of the hotel zone. The Expedia deal also included airfare to and from Dulles in DC plus the 3-night stay for around $700 a person (there were six of us in two double bedrooms). The reviews of the hotel seemed mediocre at best, but I was just so excited to go, I didn’t really care about the hotel that much.

When we got there however, the Flamingo exceeded my expectations, especially for our cheap deal. It had multiple pools, bars, and lounging areas, plus the staff was incredibly attentive and sweet. The hotel had spa music lightly playing in the background at the pool in the center of the hotel courtyard and the entire area was kept spotless and smelled tropical and clean. The breakfast had a nice spread with an omelette bar and Mexican-inspired cuisine, but did get a bit redundant by the fourth morning we were there. The bartenders were more than happy to give you any kind of drink you wanted and were very generous on the tequila shots, which we definitely were not complaining about!

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The beach that the hotel sat on was also quiet and serene and shaded lightly by palm trees closer to the hotel. The resort had chairs and umbrellas set up on the beach for us to use, free of charge. One outside pool even offered a picturesque view of the ocean with a bar right beside it.

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We knew we wanted to do excursions, and we booked them directly through the hotel once we arrived. We arranged both of them through our hotel for $135 per person after a bit of haggling. Highly recommended is the Chichen Itza tour through Viaja Way, that included a stop at the magical Cenote Hubiku for a quick swim, buffet lunch, and a small tequila museum/tasting, along with a brief pause in Valladolid, a historical city in Yucatan with a beautiful cathedral. Our informative tour guide was bilingual in both English and Spanish and gave a great overview of Mayan history and culture. Although the 2.5 hour bus ride was a bit daunting, it was fun traveling outside of the tourist Cancun bubble and getting into Mexico to see the ruins and explore the area a bit more.

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Our second excursion to Isla Mujeres was canceled due to the windy weather but instead we booked one at the last minute to go to a beautiful private beach (through Maroma Adventures) in Playa del Carmen where we went snorkeling and were served chips and beans and salsa while being serenaded by two Mexican musicians beside the stunning Maroma beach.

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Overall, our trip was relaxing and Cancun was even more beautiful than I imagined. I only wish we had stayed longer to spend even more time lounging on the beach and enjoying the free drinks!

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Restaurant Matylda in Prague

We were starving by the time we got off our train coming from Wroclaw, Poland and finally arriving in the much-anticipated destination of Prague. It was quite a tumultuous train trip that almost resulted in us being stranded in the Czech countryside. Luckily enough, we made it to Prague, and we all needed to stuff our faces with food and libations.

Restaurant Matylda was our savior. A strawberry daquiri was exactly what I needed and the food was impeccable. It’s interior transports you back in time with stone fireplaces and a rustic feel. We were hungry for anything and ended up ordering the Spaghetti alla Carbonara con Spinaci, Pork Robs with Honey Marinade, and a Quattro Formaggi pizza.

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We couldn’t skimp on dessert so we indulged in the Creme Brulee and Baked Banana with Whipped Cream and Chocolate Sauce.

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Asian Fusion Chicken Curry Noodles

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By Natalie Anne ❤

This is probably the tastiest dish I have ever made, and I want to eat it over and over and over again.So you should make it and love it too.

I used the following ingredients from my Japan and Thailand Try the World boxes:

Akagi Soba Noodles, Massaman Red Curry Paste, Umami Ponzu Soy Sauce, Nori Seaweed Sheets

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The recipe was adapted from Table for Two (serves 3-4):

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey (I like it a little sweet!)
  • 1 tablespoon of (dark) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger

Dish Ingredients:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken strips cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • chopped cilantro
  • 2 Seaweed sheets

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  1. Boil the Soba noodles in lightly salted water for 5-6 minutes (I used the 9.5 OZ package of noodles) and drain.
  2. Mix the following sauce ingredients all together in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a pan over medium heat add 3 cloves of minced garlic, chopped red onion, and a tablespoon of coconut oil. (Optional additions: carrots and mushrooms)
  4. After simmering for 5 minutes, I scrambled in an egg to the mixture for two minutes and then added the chopped chicken. Cook until the chicken is completely cooked through.
  5. Add the sauce mixture over everything, stir well and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Toss the Soba noodles and shredded seaweed with everything.
  7. Top with cilantro leaves (maybe even bean sprouts and/or peanuts) and enjoy!

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Japanese Matcha Shortbread Cookies

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By Natalie Anne ❤

I’ve been so obsessed with my Thailand Box from Try the World that I accidentally neglected my Japan Box, which has so much to offer. So yesterday during a lazy Sunday, I decided to get out my Japan Box and make a recipe. I saw one for these Matcha Shortbread Cookies and knew I had found my answer. My mother gave me a Totoro rolling pin for Christmas I had been dying to use so this was the perfect recipe!I cut the recipe in half, since I was low on butter and didn’t need want to tempt myself with 24 cookies in my apartment.

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I followed the recipe, with one small twist of using half brown sugar/half white sugar for the sugar portion of the recipe. Other than that, I followed the same ingredients and directions from TTW’s recipe and they turned out so cute and delicious:

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups flour, plus more for rolling
  • 2 Tbsp. matcha green tea powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar

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DIRECTIONS

1. Combine the flour, matcha, and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, beat the butter until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Gently stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

2. Place a piece of parchment paper on a work surface and dust with flour. Roll the cookie dough to ¼-inch thick. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 325°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut out cookie rounds using a cookie-cutter and transfer to the baking sheets. Gather, roll, and cut out the scraps once more. Chill until firm, about 10 minutes.

4. Bake until a knife inserted into the middle of a cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and serve. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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Our 7 Favorite Picnic Spots in Paris

By Natalie Anne ❤

I know there are sooo many blog posts and recommendations of what to do, see, and experience in Paris. As there should be. Paris is one of the most magical places in the world and in my opinion, is certainly not overrated. Myles and I studied abroad in Paris together one summer and it transformed our lives one Pom’Pote at a time.

One of our favorite parts of living in Paris briefly, was finding the perfect Parisian spots to seek peace and feast on pastries and picnic food. So here we will invite you to discover our favorite spots in Paris to seek solace while munching on croissants and macaroons:

1. Parc de Buttes Chaumont

Myles and I lived in the 19th arrondisement right beside the Ourcq metro stop. It is perhaps not the most well-known area, but it offers some great Patisseries and one of our favorite parks in the world. The Parc de Buttes Chaumont has an incredible view of the city, a beautiful lake, and multiple pathways and trails winding throughout. It is hilly and has a beautiful bank by the river to pull out a blanket, lie down in the grass, and indulge in Parisian bliss.

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2. Le Petit Palais

In the middle of Le Petit Palais is Le Jardin du Petit Palais, a cafe, inside a beautiful, open atrium. This oasis has floors with beautiful mosaic tiling and there are large marble columns and little tables and chairs set up. It is incredibly decadent and idyllic, plus the art collection inside the Petit Palais is one of my favorites in the world, and surprisingly enough, there never seems to be an overwhelming crowd.

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3. Square du Vert Galant on the Île de la Cité

While the Notre Dame de Paris is one of the most beautiful and well-known cathedrals in the world, the island that it sits on is just as special. The Île de la Cité is an island on the Seine right in the middle of Paris. The Square du Vert-Galant is a miniature park area right on the tip of the island underneath Pont Neuf (the oldest bridge in Paris). It provides a perfect hangout area for locals and tourists alike to sit on the river and marvel at the architecture as boats pass you by. Luckily enough, it is also right beside a port where you can hop on a boat for an hour trip up and down the Seine (Vedettes du Pont-Neuf).

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4. Jardin des Tuileries

Located right beside the Louvre and running along the Seine in the heart of Paris, Tuileries is a centrally-located gem that is home to the Musee De L’Orangerie, multiple fountains, and rows of trees with benches. It offers a slower pace than the city streets while still offering beautiful scenery. There is also a Ferris wheel and fun amusement park for those still seeking a little thrill.

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5. The Grassy Lawn beside the Eiffel Tower

Just because this may be one of the more obvious places to go, does not make it any less special. Who doesn’t want an awe-inspiring picture of themselves lounging in front of the Eiffel Tower and relishing in its splendid beauty? Perhaps not one of the more peaceful locations, the grassy lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower is still a popular spot to lie in the grass with a baguette and some brie.

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6. Sacré-Coeur

Another popular location, the Sacré-Coeur is a dramatically stunning cathedral situated on the hill in Montmartre and offering one of the most famous view of the City of Love.

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7. Jardin des Plantes

The Jardin des Plantes is not the most popular destination for tourists, which makes it ideal for peace and an undiscovered treasure. Its Alice in Wonderland-like pathways, hedges, and trees create an enchanting experience that feels almost secretive. This botanical garden is home to the Museum of Natural History and houses a small yet delightful zoo.

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Here is a map to every place listed

Blue Apron.

By Natalie Anne ❤

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I love to cook. I am inspired by discovering new recipes and flavors. But, sometimes, it can be daunting to have to go to the grocery store and collect a bunch of different ingredients. Sometimes you’re not sure which is the freshest or the most delicious or the easiest on your wallet. This is where a subscription to Blue Apron can come in handy. They send you a box of fresh, local ingredients once a week for three meals that feeds two people (with plenty of leftovers). They are prearranged menus that focus on  balanced and healthful recipes.

Every box comes with a step-by-step instruction packet with pictures for preparing and cooking your food. Plus, you can always change up the recipes to make it your own if you choose. Blue Apron sends you the exact amount of items and ingredients you need: spices, proteins, milk, eggs, the list goes on and on. The only things not included are salt, pepper, and olive oil (pretty easy to handle those on your own).

My favorite part about Blue Apron is that you can sign up for whatever weeks you desire. You can have a subscription and receive a box every week or whenever you feel ready for one. You can browse through the menus online and click which weeks you wanna cook with Blue Apron and it’s that easy.

The recipes have broadened my cooking abilities with new flavors and it has been fun using ingredients I would have felt too intimidated to pick up in a grocery store.

The menu for my first week with Blue Apron was:

Trinidadian Chicken Curry and Coconut Grits with a side of Collard Greens

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My Favorite 🙂

 

Pretzel Burgers with a Hoppy Cheddar Sauce and Sweet Potato Rounds:

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and Acorn Squash Risotto with Crispy Sage and Radicchio Salad

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