Eurotrip Part III: Dublin

dublinfotorDublin was the only city in the itinerary that was completely planned by B.  As such, the only thing planned was to tour the Guinness Storehouse.  Our return flight left the same day, so we didn’t have much time to explore but that’s all the more reason to come back!  With that said, the Irish Passport Control guy got a kick out of us coming to the country JUST for Guinness.  9sdljflksdUpon arrival we withdrew EUROS from the airport ATM.  Euros>Pound Sterlings…unless you’re British.  We took a €10 roundtrip bus to the city center and from the city center, walked to the Storehouse.  Having done this, I recommend you find the bus (I believe it was #23) to take you closer to the Storehouse, as the walk was about 30 minutes each way.IMG_9676After self-guiding our tour of the various levels of the Storehouse, we arrived at the topmost portion of the building – the Gravity Bar.  This is where you can enjoy your free glass of Guinness surrounded by views of the city (but mostly other people touring).  By this point, it is quite refreshing.IMG_9684For lunch, we ate on campus at the Brewer’s Dining Hall, a cafeteria style restaurant.  We both had Beef and Guinness Stew, served over mashed potatoes and of course, Guinness to drink.  For dessert, we had cheesecake (I think Bailey’s) and an Irish trifle!  I recommend it all!  2015-09-09 14.25.53We walked back (east on College St., I believe) towards the city center and shopped for souvenirs, then stopped in at a bar for more beers, of course.  We tried two local beers, one of which was Curim and I cannot remember the other.  I wish I could also remember the name of this pub!  Next stop, Roma!


  • Skip the lines and purchase tickets online.  Bonus, if you’re a student you can get a discount!

Eurotrip Part IIb: London


September 1, 2015 – 2nd trip to London4ksjdflskjd
On this day, B apparently had an all day medical simulation class at Epsom Hospital, so I decided to visit the Natural History Museum.  I wrote in my notebook, “just utterly disappointing.  A glorified science class.”  Did I miss something?  The T-Rex exhibit was absolutely NOT worth the long, hot line or the annoying kids stepping on my feet.  Not to mention the T-Rex was a crappy robot…I mean, I wasn’t expecting the real thing but something better, at least!  There were so many screaming children, which is just fine if you own one… but I do not and I didn’t think anything was super MUST SEE.  Then again, I did high-tail it out of there before I, myself, started screaming.5jslkdfjsdI did enjoy seeing the fossils and was trying to figure out how to get back to the lab area where the scientists were working!IMG_9533Next door was the Victoria & Albert Museum.  It was MUCH quieter, with far less children…so more like an actual museum.  I should’ve spent more time here, in actuality.  The facades of both buildings were masterpieces in themselves.  They would be nice to study or sketch, while people watching.

September 7, 2015 – 3rd trip to London
B had his surgery shelf exam in London.  We first went to Piccadilly Circus so B could go to Arcteryx.  He was like a kid in a candy story.IMG_96006jkdfksWhile he was testing, I went back to the Kensington area and walked east along Cromwell Road and found Hyde Park Corner and the gates that led to Buckingham Palace.  I decided to wait on B to go to Buckingham and strolled through Hyde Park instead.  It was gorgeous and peaceful, there were people literally playing with the squirrels and their dogs.  Very much like a scene out of a Disney movie.  Of course this day happened to be nice and sunny.  I wish I hadn’t have had to hurry through.  I tried to find the Diana Memorial Fountain and couldn’t.8F23018F-4539-4777-9F48-95E62921CA77E4115F31-5DB0-4726-B6E8-EAD14376E2EE868809D2-3477-4CAC-BE81-77C5ACCEA5F7There are numerous shops and restaurants along the way on Cromwell Rd., including Harrod’s.  Eventually, you’ll run into Kensington Gardens and The Albert Memorial/Royal Albert Hall.  It must’ve been nice to have someone so devoted to you as Victoria was to Albert.6E5A2A29-53E4-48F7-BC41-2CFF9EC7CD8BA32A5653-48A5-4370-9353-8D49BCEC84649C82A1FF-E975-4F42-BD2C-68E8656DDDC8I met back up with B and we went for lunch at Borough Market.  I believe it was a Tuesday and the market was pretty dead.  As a result, the stall with the wild boar sausages was not open, so we settled for venison burgers at a seafood stall.  It was nothing to write home about.  Afterwards, we went to the Southwark Tavern for drinks.  It was to our amazement that they had a beer named after Rooster Cogburn of True Grit…which was set in Fort Smith…literally, where B and I have lived and worked.  They were £5 a can and tasted like absolute shit – sounds about right!  Also notable was the fact that the bartender gave us cups of ice…for our beer?  I mean, we like ice…but for our beer??? No.315D5EF2-EA1E-4AD3-BF25-8501AB2ABD47Finally, we went to Buckingham Palace.  We were too late for the changing of the guards, so, just looking at the palace was rather anticlimactic.  So much so that I didn’t even know what I was looking at initially.  The Victoria Memorial was nice.  Well deserving of the lady named, the “Grandmother of Europe”.1E177FBF-263A-447C-8246-E7D34706EB1855ED8CB5-7D10-406E-8605-E6515ABEB1FC55775DD6-AF86-4E3C-947E-E4BDFCFFD4EFWe walked through The Mall and also went to the gift shop of the Guards Museum.  Went by the Churchill War rooms, found our way to 10 Downing Street and the Household Cavalry Museum.  At the end of the street (if you continue north and slightly west), you’ll find Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.  The gates to The Mall are nice to check out too.E1686D8E-32E7-48E9-B18A-3006610F8F3AC78961FB-1DA6-4E71-9E65-ACFE563463583BBA068D-94CA-4E4C-9F66-6AF38F18DC0F

Last trip to London
Of course we had to go back to Borough Market for those dang wild boar sausages.  I opted for something I’ve never had before – Ethiopian food!  I was not disappointed!  For £6, I got the large (I was so hungry, though) beef combo.  This included delicious, curry flavored meat, stewed butternut squash, cabbage/carrot side, rice, and spongy Ethiopian bread (not a fan of the bread).  IMG_0279We spent the rest of the day shopping for souvenirs around Oxford Circus/Regent St. and wrapping up our time in London.  We found that Primark is the best (and cheapest) place to get UK themed gifts.  I bought several Union Jack canvas totes for friends for about £1 and Harry Potter socks for my sisters.  It was very similar to an H&M…which was everywhere!  IMG_0288We had dinner at Chipotle because we thought it would be cheap.  It was not.  It was very expensive for fast food.  We paid about £30 for 2 burritos, chips & guac, and no drinks.  Currently, £30 is about $43…for fast food.  Yikes.  From there, we briefly walked down Baker St. and then headed to our last stop of the night.  King’s Cross Station!  I HAD to get a photo at Platform 9 3/4!

Eurotrip Part IIa: London

londonmapWe spent a lot of time going back and forth from Epsom to London, as it was only about a 30 minute train ride.  It’s been awhile since then and I couldn’t be more glad that I remembered to document what we did!

August 27, 2015 – My first trip to London.  
“Took the National Rail from Epsom to London Waterloo, then took the tube to London Bridge Station.”  I remember stepping into the main area of Waterloo Station and thinking, “wow, I feel like Harry Potter” at the Ministry of Magic.  Very overwhelming and fast paced, not the best place to rubberneck, like I was doing.5A6EF480-AAC5-4270-A816-0675D29495F61dflksdjfFrom London Bridge Station, we walked to London Bridge, stopped by the HMS Belfast, then made our way towards the iconic Tower Bridge.  From the Tower Bridge, you could see the Tower of London from across the way.  I don’t know why, but whenever I think of the Tower of London, I always think about poor Anne Boleyn, even though there were quite a few other famous people killed at the Tower (some of the other wives of King Henry VIII).B44E8E24-77D3-4C0E-B018-EF655509EB8BWe stopped at a little bar under the Tower Bridge which overlooked the river called The Vault.  B had a pint and I tried my first Pimm’s Cup.  LOVED IT.85C1D1CA-9887-4451-90A1-A8022425D36A0D3DC80C-6E5F-4D0D-8475-5FF524084019From the Thames, we walked to Borough Market.  “LOVE this place” was the first thing I wrote about it!  It was sensory overload-didn’t know where to start, couldn’t decide what to get…in a good way.  Items available at the Market ranged from prepared foods, charcuterie, cheese, fresh meat and seafood from local vendors, veggies, cider and honey mead (I approve), and desserts!  B and I ate a huge subpar lunch in Epsom prior to our trip, so we weren’t hungry; instead we got drinks at a stall called New Forest Cider.  B had medium dry cider and I tried the honey mead.  It was very medieval and delicious.  I also had fresh juice (apple + pomegranate), which you can find at multiple stalls.2kjdklfjdF43532B6-341E-457A-8496-491BE354CB9C2DDE8979-6F11-4B14-9061-2BD77293B6C8A24AA0AF-A9B3-4AC9-893D-79CA863C0E30Our next stop was back towards the River to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (because I love literature) and the Millennium Bridge (because Harry Potter).  I was waiting for a Death Eater to come find me, but that was a no-go.  Across the way was St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Unfortunately, I never made it there.  Sadface.C233C5A7-8589-4255-B79E-F89C20F13BD52897B146-3144-4E67-9EAC-6BE763A1BD12We had dinner at Gourmet Burger Kitchen.  It was very good, we both had blue cheese burgers – one with sauce and one with melted gorgonzola.  I think we preferred the melted sauce over straight melted gorgonzola.  We also had the sweet potato fries, which were very good.  They were served with a sauce that we liked very much.  I recall B saying that he thought “it tastes like something,” but he could never put his finger on it.  Now that I’m reviewing the menu, I see that it is BACONNAISE.  BACONNAISE.  I once spent something like 4 whole dollars on a tub of this stuff and hated it, yet somehow I manage to like it when it’s served with a gourmet burger and essentially, a $6 order of fries (£3.95).  Sigh.IMG_9426154295E2-B606-4599-85F1-E1622865CD5CAfter dinner, we took the tube to Piccadilly Circus – London’s teensier version of Time’s Square.  It started to rain, so we didn’t stay long.  There’s an overwhelming amount of shopping here – B was disappointed the Arcteryx store had not opened.  It was also very hard to get a decent photo amongst the hustle and bustle.F51A3E82-33C8-4F33-A2D9-50794E146F99F962B1B1-F2BA-4E85-AA41-AEF2651711E7The last stop of this trip was to the London Eye, Westminster Palace, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.  The London Aquarium was also nearby; I love that the building was so not obviously an aquarium!  The sun was setting and it all seemed rather surreal to be looking at Big Ben and the Parliament building.  Up til that point, I don’t I’ve ever seen anything that ornate.  The Abbey’s facade was undergoing construction, it was very disappointing and a result, underwhelming.  I think it was also closed at that point, though I had really wanted to see the old guys buried there!
*FUN FACT:  Anyone who isn’t a UK citizen cannot go up to Big Ben…big bummer more like!17212365-E535-49A7-AE0E-01F7B3F5F62A


  • For travel within London, we purchased a Day Travelcard at the rail station, which included trips on the National Rail and within certain zones within London.  We always tried to buy them during Off-peak hours (as in, not rush hour – I believe after 9:30am) as they were cheaper.  Plus, trying to get on/off the rail during rush hour is hellacious, especially, if you have luggage.  *Sometimes people are nice and will give you their Day Travelcard once they’re done using them.
  • Most of London’s top museums are free–so research and check them out!
  • Use to map out each destination within a city and calculate time/distance on your laptop or computer to make your trip more efficient.
  • London is very walkable and it’s sort of fun trying to figure out the Tube system, but bring comfy shoes.  I keep telling myself this and in lieu of comfy shoes, I go for the “cute” ones…always a bad idea. ALWAYS.
  • APPS
    • If you’re walking within London, use the app to get around- it’s offline [doesn’t use data] as long as you download the map for the region you need when you have wifi.  It’s also pretty detailed and allows you to pin drop locations and get directions to and fro.  I would have literally been lost without this app in Europe.
    • Citymapper app to help with the navigation on the Rail/Tube.  You can also view the time of the next train/bus/rail etc., in addition to calculating the easiest/fastest route from one destination to the other.  This app was extremely helpful when trying to figure out the best way to get from Epsom to London’s airports.  Mostly, we used it to get from place to place via the Tube.

Odds & Ends


fried pickles

hot and spicy fried chicken

Gus’s Fried Chicken – Little Rock, AR
Fried pickles. Fried chicken.
Hot & Spicy. Made-to-order.  Sign me up!


Visit Post Winery ,in Altus, for a delicious wine tasting.
Favorites included the Pinot Grigio, Cynthiana, & Strawberry Fields.

judge parker's court

Fort Smith National Historic Site.
Site of Judge Parker’s Courthouse & Hell on the Border jail.

IMG_6440bomb Blackberry margarita at Chuy’s in Little Rock

Eurotrip Part I: Epsom



Back in August/September, I crossed the pond to visit me boyfriend.  ‘Twas quite nice.  Cannot say I cared for the pound sterling as much as the natives, but it was still a wonderful experience.  I’ve never walked so much in my life!

Our base location was Epsom, in county Surrey.  It was apparently very posh.  Epsom is home of Epsom Downs, where the Derby is held.  I liked to run up the road leading to the Downs, as it reminded me of Game of Thrones!  Epsom also reminded me of everything that is typically English–cute little cottage houses, foxes, lush greenery…  it was like a Jane Austen novel!  Once, the Boyfriend and I ran around Epsom Common and I felt like one of those women in English novels that walked everywhere (Elizabeth Bennet, Tess Durbeyfield, and Jane Eyre come to mind).  My feet were in perpetual pain, but it was worth it because allowed me to appreciate the gorgeous surroundings and minute details of the homes, I may not have otherwise seen in a car.  Now I understand what Elizabeth Bennet means when she tells Darcy she’s “quite fond of walking.”


The landscape is SO breathtaking and SO GREEN.  It always surprised me to see roses and wild blackberries amongst all the green.  There is nothing like an English rose garden.


Horses were everywhere in Epsom, as can be expected.  I loved seeing them on the road along with the cars!  There is something comforting about the sound of their trot…




When the weather was cooperating, we liked to have picnics in the park!  With wine!  We used these Matador Pocket Blankets which can fit in your pocket.

Overall, Epsom was a quaint little town.  We mostly cooked or ate burgers when we went out.  Notable eats:  Pizza Express (I think about the Calabrese pizza A LOT) and Mackie’s of Scotland Traditional ice cream, OMG.

The Natural State

More from Arkansas, also known as the Natural State, in late Autumn or FALL.  It went too soon 😦

Ozark National Forest

me and brand waterfall

Waterfalls after a heavy rain period.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

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Locke Township, Crawford County

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White Rock Mountain

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Autumn in Arkansas & a Pumpkin Roll

It’s mid-October and the air is brisk, but the leaves have yet to fully change to those gorgeous red, orange, and yellow hues.  Nevertheless, the Boyfriend thought it would be fun to explore the outdoors.  These are shots from Fern, AR; Ozark National Forest.

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetArkansas flora
Purple Beautyberry & a mushroom
Beautyberries can be made into wine, jelly, and used for mosquito repellant.
I love it even more now.

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Of course with the onset of fall, one must consume pumpkin treats.  My bestie, A, has been making pumpkin rolls for years and I finally decided to try my hand at it.  It worked really well for me, surprisingly!  No cracks!!!  And it was delicious.  I deviated from her filling recipe somewhat, with the addition of whipped cream and orange zest (and reduction of sugar!).  I like to think the whipped cream lightens the filling and the orange zest brightens the flavor.  Love it.

pumpkinrollPumpkin Roll
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 heaping cup of canned pumpkin
1 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup AP flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup whipping or heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8oz package cream cheese, room temp
1 stick butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease & flour a 17.5 x 12.5 inch jelly roll pan — I used a 17 x 12 and it was fine.

Beat eggs, granulated sugar, pumpkin and lemon juice until smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Add this mixture to the wet ingredients until well combined.

Spread the batter in the jelly roll pan.  Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Bake 14 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then invert the cake onto a wire rack.

On a large tea towel, sprinkle some confectioner’s sugar, then transfer the warm cake to the towel.  Wrap the towel over the cake, and carefully roll the cake up in the towel and cool in the fridge for 45 minutes.

To make the filling, first whip the cream until you get stiff peaks.

In a separate bowl, beat together powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and orange zest.  Fold in whipped cream.

After 45 minutes, carefully unroll cake and spread filling on top of cake (the side with the pecans).

Re-roll cake and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Dust with powdered sugar prior to serving.