Top 10 U.S. Cities I’ve Visited

1. Asheville, NC
I’ve visited Asheville probably eight or ten times by now. Every time I go, I love it even more. The whole city has a very laid-back, artsy vibe. According to my husband, I am the least laid-back person he knows, so maybe that’s why I like Asheville so much…something different. We even visited Asheville on our honeymoon. One of my favorite parts of our honeymoon was the carriage ride behind the Biltmore Estate.

Biltmore Estate in Asheville
Biltmore Estate in Asheville

2. Cooperstown, NY
I’m no baseball fan. In fact, I would probably consider it one of my least favorite sports to watch (behind soccer of course), although I do like watching a good live baseball game every once in a while. That little tidbit aside, I absolutely love Cooperstown. Cesar and I took Sophia the last time we were in New York and we enjoyed it a lot. Even though it is filled with tourists, it has that small town feel and everyone you come across is super nice and friendly. Even if you’re a non-baseball lover (like me), the Hall of Fame makes for a pretty interesting afternoon. We only spent a day there, so next time we go up, we are definitely planning to make the drive back to Cooperstown to check out what else it has to offer.

Downtown Cooperstown
Downtown Cooperstown

3. Gainesville, FL
How could Gainesville not be on this list? Hello…it’s the home of the Florida Gators! During football season on a Saturday, it is crazy. They say that The Swamp is one of the most difficult stadiums in the entire country for opposing teams to play, and for good reason. The Gators have some of the most loud and proud fans around. They can get a little obnoxious sometimes too, but, well, that’s besides the point. Really, though, Gator fan moment aside, Gainesville is a cool city. There’s a ton of things to do, restaurants to try, stores to shop at. There’s also a super cute little town right outside Gainesville called Micanopy that is fun to walk around. Cesar and I keep saying we need to go up one weekend just to explore, but haven’t done it yet. Maybe this year’s the year!

The best part of Gainesville, The Swamp!
The best part of Gainesville, The Swamp!

4. Jekyll Island, GA
Oh, Jekyll Island. The cutest, sleepiest little beach town you ever did see…and the only vacation destination I’ve ever gone to that leaves my butt hurting for the next week. Ok, that might have been an overshare…but really. I’ve been there numerous times since I was a kid and every time we go, we bring our bikes. Jekyll Island is only a few square miles, but man…by the end of a long weekend, we usually end up riding almost 50 miles. I should probably think about investing in a better bike seat before our next trip up. Jekyll Island is still very uncommercialized. The last time we went (over the summer), we were shocked to find a brand spankin’ new gas station with a (what!?) Dairy Queen attached. Also, riding along the beach, it looked as if Holiday Inn has purchased a big chunk of land on the beach and is working on building there.  From the looks of it, it is only going to be a two story hotel, which is a plus. I sure hope they don’t get too many more commercial businesses on the island though, because that’s a surefire way to ruin their reputation.

Jekyll Island sunset
Jekyll Island sunset

5. Las Vegas, NV
I don’t think you can visit Las Vegas and not have fun. There is literally something to do for everyone in your group. It has some really great restaurants and shopping.  And where else can you get a luxurious suite looking over the city for $150/night?  If you’re really trying to go cheap, I hear about deals all day every day for hotel room that cost less per night than a meal out. Take note though…when Cesar and I went, we got our hotel rooms for next to nothing, but while we were in Vegas…we spent probably double what we had planned!

Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas Strip

6. Nashville, TN
I love Nashville and not just because I’m a country music fan (although being a country music fan does make it even better). It has a fun downtown area with tons of shops, bars, and restaurants, and is home to the Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators (if you’re into that kind of stuff). The Grand Ole Opry and Gaylord Opryland Hotel are also in Nashville. We visited Nashville on our honeymoon and stayed at a pretty awesome hotel, the Hutton Hotel.

Downtown Nashville
Downtown Nashville

7. New Orleans, LA
A lot of people I know hate visiting New Orleans. They say it’s a dirty, dirty city. And I’d have to agree, it is pretty filthy. Walking around in flip flops…nope. Buuuut, in my book, that’s one of the only things it has going against it. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the US (as long as I don’t forget my close-toed shoes).  It is loaded with history and culture. It is not too expensive (at least compared to some of the other cities on my list), but has lots of wonderful hotels. And the food in N’awlins is some of the best in the country- you can’t really go wrong at any restaurant in town. There’s so much to do in New Orleans, I’ve been 3 times and still haven’t done everything on my list.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans
Bourbon Street, New Orleans

8. New York City, NY
I know the Big Apple is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is a loud, fast-paced city with a whole lot of hustle and bustle going on. It’s very easy to be overwhelmed. But I just love it. The shopping in NYC beats just about any other city in the country, and that’s the kind of stuff that matters. They also have great restaurants and you can find any type of food you can imagine. I’ve been in the summer and winter, and hands down, winter is a better time to visit.

Central Park, New York City
Central Park, New York City

9.San Francisco, CA
It’s been a few years since I went to San Francisco and I’ve been itching to go back and bring Cesar (he’s never been). It’s a very diverse city and that’s what makes it so fun. There’s lots of tourist spots to stop at- Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Ghirardelli Square (definitely don’t skip this one!)- which are all fun. But if you look past all those touristy places, there are some even cooler places to see, stores to shop at, and restaurants to eat at. One of the best meals of our trip was from a little shack on the water near Fisherman’s Wharf, where we ate a bowl of clam chowder from a bread bowl, sitting outside on wooden picnic benches

10. Savannah, GA

Yet another place from our honeymoon list. For us, it’s only a couple hours to Savannah, so it makes for a nice trip over a long weekend. Every time I’m there, we just slow down a little, which is a refreshing change from our normal busy lives. Savannah’s a great walking city. You can walk almost everywhere, and if not, you can jump on a trolley. It’s such a cute, old city that, surprisingly, hasn’t become too commercialized yet.

Well, there they are, in no certain order (except alphabetical). Nine of the 10 places I’ve listed, I’ve been to more than once (all but San Francisco), but can’t wait to go back to any of them. I do love traveling to new places, but sometimes, I guess you just have to stick with what you know!
All pictures are my own.

Top 10 Favorite iPhone Apps

For the longest time, I was Team Anti-iPhone and was adamant I’d never have one. Finally, a few years ago when we switched carriers, I was convinced to jump on the bandwagon and bought an iPhone 4. I thought I’d hate it but I’ve grown to love it and don’t think I’d switch back.

I have since gotten an iPhone 5S, which I love even more because the camera is much higher quality. I use my phone for everything: my watch, camera, alarm clock, to-do list, and calendar, just to name a few.

When it comes to apps, I’m the first to admit I’m a cheapskate. I hoard my App Store credits in case I need to use them on something, you know, really important someday. Therefore, most of my suggestions are free or close to it. If I do actually pay for an app, I definitely make sure it’s worth it!

I figured I’d put together a list of my favorite (and most used) apps on my iPhone, so here goes, in no certain order.

1. Instagram– This is pretty much a given. It has become super popular in the past couple years, and I think for good reason. I use it quite a bit for putting up pictures of my kids, so I like to keep mine on private. I love Instagram, but I’m not really on board with those who like to use #threepagesofhashtags on #everysinglepost, but you know, #whateverfloatsyourboat.

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2. Pinterest– I don’t use Pinterest all that often, but when I do, it’s usually for 4 hours straight when I should be doing something more productive, pinning things that I’ll never actually be able to make. But I do like the app and the newer updates make it super easy to use, which I love.

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3. Diptic– There are tons of collage making apps for Instagram, but Diptic is my favorite and the easiest I’ve found to use.

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4. Timehop– This is one of the newer apps I’ve downloaded, but one of my favorites! Timehop lets you connect your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, among others, and shows you your social media activity on this date in years past. It is really cool to see what my life was like on this date years ago, before I had a husband, kids, and responsibilities.

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5. Pocket– This is another wonderful app invention. I always have several articles open in my Safari at any given time waiting to be read. Nowadays, I save them to my Pocket instead of leaving them in Safari, so I can read them when I don’t have any internet service. It’s really easy to transfer them from Safari to Pocket, and when I can’t use my internet, I can still use my phone to read these articles. I so wish I had this throughout my two pregnancies when I spent hours upon hours in my OBGYN’s office (which had zero service as soon as you stepped through the door) looking for something to entertain me.

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6. Our To Do List– This might be my most utilized app on my phone. I searched high and low looking for a good app to make lists in. This is it. I even sprung for the paid version, so that should tell you something. Our To Do List is very simple, which is what I was looking for. The best function is the ability to create lists within lists, something I use a lot. I use this app for everything from a grocery to list to Christmas gift ideas to restaurants I want to try.

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7. Feedly– I follow a lot of blogs, but don’t like to clog up my email with newsletters. I used to use Google Reader, but when they (sadly) closed that down, I switched to Feedly. I actually love it more than Google Reader, even though it is set up very similar. I find Feedly much prettier to look at. I use it on both my iPad and phone and prefer it on my iPad, but use it on my phone on a pretty regular basis too.

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8. Target Cartwheel– I’m all about saving money and I spend lots of time and money at Target. This is my shopping dream come true! There are discounts on hundreds of things in Target. It is organized by category, so items are easy to find if you already know what you’re looking for. But if you’re like me and just browse and fill your cart with random things, you can scan an item’s barcode and check if any Cartwheels are available for it. It’s easy to use and I’ve saved $87 since I started using it six months ago. Yikes, I don’t even want to think about how much that means I’ve actually spent!

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9. Ibotta– This is another money-saving app. Ibotta takes a little more time and effort than Target Cartwheel. The basics: the app has lists of items in grocery stores, drugstores, restaurants, etc. that you can purchase. After buying an item on the list, you scan the barcode and take a picture of the receipt. You submit the claim and they deposit money (usually $.50-1.00) into your Ibotta account. After you earn a certain amount, you can redeem it for gift cards or cash through Paypal. Like I said, a little more work, but for things I was buying anyway, I’ve racked up $23.00 over the past couple months.

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10. Covet Fashion– This is a silly game, but an addicting one! You have a “bank account” to buy clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. They have several “events” going on at a time such as a wedding, night out on the town, and work function. You buy outfits for these events with money you earn for judging other peoples’ outfits. It’s pretty fun for a time killer (not that I really need many of those these days!).

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I would say those ten apps are my favorite and most used apps on my iPhone. A few honorable mentions are Facebook, Words with Friends, Urbanspoon, and Goodreads. I hope you’ve seen something on here that you haven’t heard of and now you love it too

Top 10 places I want to visit

I have a very strong desire to travel the world. I like to say I want to see all seven continents, but really…who am I kidding? Who the heck wants to go to Antarctica? Not me, considering I think Florida “winters” are pretty darn cold.

In no specific order, here are the top 10 places I can think of that I’d like to visit.

1. Cinque Terre, Italy
2. Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Photo from Yahoo! Travel
3. Santorini, Greece
Photo from Santorini.com
4. Tahiti
Photo from Tahiti Tourism
5. Oahu, Hawaii
6. Sitka, Alaska
Photo from City-Data
7. Isla Margarita, Venezuela
8. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Photo from Real Adventures
9. Venice, Italy
Photo from World Guides
10. Nevis Island
Photo from Nevis Naturally

Really, there are probably hundreds of places I could think of that I haven’t been to and would like to visit. These are just on top of my list. Due to lack of sufficient funds, though, it may be a little while before I will be able to visit most of these places.

That’s okay, I have it all planned out. Work for a few more years, win the lottery, then travel the world. Now, if only I wasn’t so cheap that I’d fork over the money for a lottery ticket. I guess I have to work on that…