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Friday, September 26, 2014

Five Favourites

Exploring the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchberg, TN

Fave photo: It's not a particularly good photo but it makes me laugh. This was taken at the Jack Daniels Distillery right after we finished our sampling tour :)

Fave moment: Hands down the best moment this week was going on a date with my husband to The Melting Pot in downtown Nashville. Like the true gluttons we are, we ordered two bottles of wine, a cheese fondue course, and a chocolate fondue course for dessert. I was forbidden asked very nicely not to bring my camera out so you'll just have to take my word for it that the food, service, atmosphere... everything... was amazing! If you find yourself in Nashville anytime soon, you should definitely check out The Melting Pot!

Fave snack: See above ^Who needs snacks when you ate enough fondue to last a week!

Fave recent blog post: When It Rains, It Pours  a post about big career changes and handling it all with grace from one of my favourite writers.

Fave recent purchase: Allow me to please nerd out on photography talk for a moment: I've had my heart set on buying a new camera lens for a while now. Last Christmas my friend Dave let me borrow two of his prime lenses, a 35 mm 1.8 and 50 mm 1.8, and I fell in love with the 35 mm. I shoot with a Nikon D3200 which has a cropped frame sensor  read more about that here  so the 35 mm lens is a better option for me. It captures images that are very true to what your eye naturally sees and I love the shallow depth of field. This lens was the sweetest anniversary present and I've been practising every day since I've received it!

Love the crisp clarity of the 35 mm 1.8 Nikkor lens

Shallow depth of field from 35 mm 1.8 lens

Linking up with Lauren Elizabeth & Style Elixir.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

How to Choose the Perfect Travel Purse

I think all of us ladies can agree that when we’re packing for a trip, whether it’s sightseeing in the city or backpacking abroad, it’s important to choose a travel purse that’s secure yet versatile. Unless you don’t mind paying extra checked luggage fees or carting around 50 pounds on your back, space is limited and you don’t have the luxury of bringing several different types of bags to match various outfits.

Travel purses are unique because they need to be way more functional, secure, and durable than our everyday bags. The sleek clutch that’s your go-to for bar hopping or the gorgeous camel tote that you love for running errands? Yup, you guessed it – they’re not going to cut it on the road (especially when you’re travelling in developing countries or visiting busy and touristy areas).

My travel style has evolved over the past year and now I’m a strong advocate for a capsule wardrobe. This means that I plan out what to pack in advance and choose remixable pieces so that I can maximize my total number of outfits (my rule is that each item must coordinate with at least two other pieces). When I packed for Central America I opted for a neutral palette of black, white, and tan and chose to accessorize with complementary pops of colour in the accessories. 

Now that I’ve got more than a few international trips under my belt, I want to share four of my tried and true tips to help you choose the perfect travel purse:

How to Choose the Perfect Travel Purse via


Though it may sound obvious, I’m going to list my most important tip first – a good travel purse needs to have a zipper at the top! It’s much too easy to reach inside a tote bag unnoticed as compared to unzipping a purse. Choosing a purse with at least one solid zipper helps to deter pick-pocketers and keeps your valuables safe.  


I tend to gravitate towards crossbody purses in general but they’re particularly essential when you’re travelling. The liberty of being hands-free is so important when sightseeing, especially if you’re like me and love taking photos. Crossbody purses make it much harder for thieves to swipe and run (like that time my bag was stolen at the beach). Pacsafe even makes slash-proof straps that offer the ultimate peace of mind for those who are concerned about safety. 


Travel is messy. Liquids spill, food crumbles, and sometimes there’s just no avoiding it – your bag is going to sit on the floor. A perfect travel purse is one that’s durable and easy to clean. Nylon, microfiber, and leather are popular options with the latter being my favourite due to its versatility. I personally stay away from canvas as I find it easy to stain and discolour.

Purses for travel with crossbody straps
My sister and I with our purses in Belize 
Exploring Nashville, TN
Exploring downtown Nashville with a purse that's sturdy enough to carry my DSLR camera
How to Choose the Perfect Travel Purse
Taking a break from the heat in Music City

I think it’s crucial to organize your travel purse so that everything has a place and you’re not fumbling around in front of vendors when trying to pay for something. Call me paranoid but the indecision of pulling your purse inside out to search for that elusive item is a signal to snatchers that you’re vulnerable and flustered. It’s so much easier to organize your purse when you have multiple compartments and pockets. Bonus points, of course, if the compartments have zippers!

In my opinion, a perfect travel purse has all of the characteristics above, is versatile enough to go from day-to-night, and comes in a complementary colour to suit the majority of your travel capsule wardrobe. I've picked a few options below if you have an upcoming trip or happen to have your eye on a new bag that will transition perfectly into your travel style.

What are your must-haves when choosing a purse for travel and your day-to-day life?

Which purse should I pack for travel?

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Country Roads & Travel Planning

The perfect transition piece - the chambray shirt from

Travel Style from

Casual travel style /

Madewell chambray shirt / Everlane tshirt / Old Navy linen shorts / Sperry shoes

Sunday was one of those days that can only be described as good for the soul. 

I stayed in bed until 10.30, ate a simple breakfast, and knew that I wanted to get outside and do something that afternoon. My time in the US is winding down so I’m trying to make the most of the days that I have left by living like I’m travelling, even if I don’t have the money to go far.  

As you may have noticed from the header of my blog, I love wine. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my love of whiskey though, particularly Maker’s Mark and Jack Daniels. Turns out both of these distilleries are within driving distance of where we are in Tennessee. Unfortunately the timing didn’t work out because sampling tours aren’t available on Sundays and obviously samples at a distillery are a must.

My husband and I decided to push the tour to this upcoming weekend and combine it with a little getaway that we’re splurging on to celebrate our second anniversary. We’re taking a couple days off to explore the local food and music scene in downtown Nashville, and since historic Lynchburg isn’t too far away, Jack Daniels it is!

Anyway, that still left us with the issue of what to do on our Sunday afternoon. We decided to take advantage of the beautifully pleasant temperatures (fall has finally arrived! It’s a blessed 75F [24C] around these parts) to visit Dunbar Cave and some local lakes. With the sunroof open, blue skies above, camera in hand, snacks, and a picnic blanket thrown in the back seat, we took off exploring. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Puerto Viejo: My Favourite Town in Central America

Si senorita, this boat will take you straight to the buses in Moin. Then the driver will show you the minibus to go directo to Puerto Viejo and you get there at 3.30. Solamente 40 dolares,” the hostel owner assured me.

“Okay, so boat to the bus stop, then directo right to Puerto Viejo?” I asked.

Si senorita,” he confirmed.

By this time I’d learned that directo does not mean 'direct bus' in Central America (if you’re looking for a bus that doesn’t stop along the way to your destination, you should be asking for an express which are quite hard to come by). Regardless, it was the best option, and because of my timing, the only option to get from the island of Tortuguero to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. At least I wouldn’t have to deal with taxis and transfers doing this by myself, I thought.

The next morning I woke up at eight, grabbed a quick breakfast, and set out on a three and a half hour boat ride down the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. I’d spent the day before exploring Tortuguero National Park but, to be honest, there isn’t much more to see on the island and I was ready to move on. 

Waterfront homes in Costa Rica
Homes on the water in Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Puerto Viejo: My Favourite Town in Central America

The beautiful canals of Tortuguero, Costa Rica
The beautiful canals connecting Tortuguero to mainland Costa Rica
The shuttle boat was surprisingly comfortable and I was so relieved to sit back, relax, and catch a little nap, especially after the disastrous ferry experiences I’d had earlier in Central America. Maybe this day of travel will go smoothly after all, I thought.

Yeah right. 

The confusion began once the ride ended. I felt a sense of panic rise within me as we pulled up to the dock and there weren’t any buses waiting. A handful of eager taxi drivers approached the boat and started hauling out bags. If I’ve learned anything throughout my travels it’s that nothing is for free. Call me cheap but I didn’t want to pay any “expected tips” so when random men started grabbing my pack I immediately snatched it back and waited for the boat driver to direct me to where I was supposed to go. 

Apparently there must’ve been some miscommunication because the driver had no idea what minibus I was talking about and, feeling anxious in the moment, my brain wasn’t pulling the Spanish vocabulary that I’d learned in Guatemala fast enough for me to communicate properly.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Morning Confess Sesh

I confess to being neurotic about how much I hate ticking clocks especially when I’m trying to fall asleep. Now thinking about it, it’s probably also the reason I don’t wear a watch unless I have to (like when I’m backpacking). Repetitive sounds like that (pens clicking, fingers tapping, flies buzzing) drive me absolutely nuts.

I confess to being that traveller who's terrible about clearing out my food from communal hostel fridges before I check out. Sorry cleaning staff! I only ever remember when I'm sitting on a boat or bus and well on my way...

I confess to hating when blog posts are center aligned and when bloggers refuse to follow basic rules of grammar and punctuation. What is it with the aversion to capitals at the beginning of your sentences? Also, if you can’t distinguish between its/it’s, your/you’re, and they’re/their/there, hire me because I can help.

I confess to being a total diva about how my cereal is poured. When the milk-to-cereal ratio is off I just don’t even want to eat it. Sidenote: have you ever tried chocolate milk with frosted flakes? My eating habits resemble that of a 10 year old boy so obviously I love it. 

I confess that I miss going out for brunch and day drinking with my friends! I mean, I guess that’s not much of a confession because obviously who doesn’t like day drinking, but I’m trying to keep on a tight budget and launch my freelance career so now I just drink at home going out is kept to a minimum. 

I confess that I’m totally guilty of loving the convenience of a DVR now that we have the luxury of cable. (As part of our effort of saving up for travel, my husband and I cancelled our TV service for 2013.) The convenience of recording and fast forwarding through shows was the perfect way of watching the VMAs and Emmys  you zoom through all the boring shit and only tune in for the performances and winners (or disasters, because we all know they're equally as entertaining).

I confess that apparently I’m one of the lucky ones who’s not allergic to poison ivy. I know this because my husband is super outdoorsy and always coming home with PI one way or another. Turns out he’s been secretly experimenting with rubbing my back and arms against fresh spots on his body where he just got hives from PI (#notcreepyatall). Weeks later, he confessed his “experiment”  to see whether I’m immune because he says I was too paranoid about him giving me PI. Turns out I don’t have anything to worry about. Clearly I’m married to a keeper #winning 

You know the drill  confessions are way more fun when other people are sharing too! What do you confess? Tell me in the comments!

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Friday, September 05, 2014

Five Favourites

Benjamin the Billygoat

Fave photo: This photo makes me laugh every time I look at it. Or should I say them? You know exactly what I'm talking about and I know you're snickering too. Everybody meet my neighbour, Benjamin the Billygoat. Benjamin is in rut right now aka mating season aka he's ripe and smells terrible.

Fave book: I've been a reading fiend over the past couple of weeks! Girlboss, If I Stay, and Attachments were all good (actually, that's not true - Girlboss was disappointing and definitely could have benefited from my editing services). My favourite recent read was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, an unlikely romantic story set in England that I wasn't able to put down until I finished it at three in the morning.

Fave snack: Carrots + hummus + garlic = love.

Fave recent blog post: I read a post from The Style Dunce about reconciling that some opinions don't matter and it really struck a chord with me. Katie has a lot of spark and snark and her article ignited some of that within me too, which is what prompted me to finally publish my post about Southern Culture Shock. Take a scroll through The Style Dunce - that girl doesn't mince words and I love her for it!

Fave recent purchase: Due to a lengthy immigration process, we've been trying to stay as frugal as possible but do you know how hard it is to not buy anything? I couldn't resist picking up this nail polish for only $1.50 when I was passing through Wal Mart last week. Despite such a cheap price, it's awesome! Excellent coverage and durability plus I love this lavender hue. 

Sinful Colors: Spitfire
New nail polish next to my favourite purchase from last month
What are some of your favourite moments from the week?

Linking up with Style Elixir & Lauren Elizabeth.

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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself...

I’m listening to a wicked Jay Z playlist, it’s the beginning of a new season, and I’ve gained a bunch of new followers (hello!) so I figured it was about time for me to reintroduce myself. Everyone is getting back into the swing of things but because I’m always late to the party this post is going up at the end of the week instead of the beginning. Anyone else feel like they’ve been playing catch up since the start of September?

I’ve been blogging for the past year and a half and though I’ve been nominated for Liebster awards before, the timing never really worked out (Liebsters are peer-nominated awards for small bloggers where part of accepting the award is answering questions about yourself). This week, however, I stumbled across Alyssa’s blog and decided that her fun questions came at just the right time. 

For those who enjoy a little TMI, keep reading to learn more about the girl behind the blog...

1. What's the best/most interesting thing that's happened to you since you started blogging? 
Connecting with people around the world has been one of the best things about blogging. However, the most interesting thing that’s happened to me since I discovered blogs has been learning about alternative lifestyles. There are so many different careers and ways to make money that I never thought about because I was stuck inside the 9-5 mold. When I discovered blogs and all the different facets of blogging, I knew there was more for me out there. Blogging encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and pursue my passions.

2. What was the hardest post to write? 
The posts that are the hardest for me to write always take me the longest. I write in pieces as phrases spill out of me, drawing out the post for weeks at a time. I doubt myself. I edit, edit, and edit again. Two posts immediately come to mind as the hardest ones I’ve ever written. Last week I talked about Southern Culture Shock and almost exactly a year ago I published An Ode to Quitting when I left my corporate job.

3. Do your friends and family know about your blog? Do they read it? 
Yes they do, and for better or worse they stick with me. My parents are my biggest fans and it actually got to the point where almost every conversation started with, “So I read on your blog…” Let’s be honest, there’s no better way to stifle my creativity than knowing my mom and dad are combing through every post (and tweet, and instagram) that I publish. Now we agree that they can read it but not comment on it. It's a happy medium for us. (Does anyone else struggle with blogging when they know their friends/family are reading?)

4. Are you where you thought you would be today five years ago?
I am absolutely no where close to where I thought I’d be five years ago. Read more about my Plan B (and C… and D…) here.  

5. What is one thing you hope happens, either in your life or the world, in the next five years? 
There are many things that I hope will happen. On a global level, let’s be idealistic and say peace in the Middle East. On a personal level, let’s be realistic and say financial independence/sustainability through self-employment.

6. What is currently keeping you up at night? 
Nothing keeps me up at night as long as I’ve got white noise in the background. One of my superhero talents is the ability to fall asleep in 30 seconds.

7. What's the most daring thing you've done this year? 
I know I’ve already talked about this to death so please forgive me if you’re tired of hearing about it. The most daring thing I’ve done this year was choosing to continue backpacking solo through Central America after my husband decided to end the trip early. I rescued turtles in El Salvador, tried (and failed) at paddle boarding, went through an awesome ziplining and aerial course in Costa Rica, and found peace after being robbed in Panama. 

8. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? 
This is definitely something that’s changed over the years. When I was younger I easily identified as an extrovert. When I turned 23, I started needing more and more time to myself to recharge after social events. Long story short, at 27 I’d say I’m now an introvert.

9. What is your most prized (material) possession? 
A few things come to mind but based on how much I’ve come to rely on it, I’d say my laptop is my most prized material possession. Seriously, what would I do without this thing! [Edit: I just looked down at my hand and can't believe I didn't mention my wedding and engagement rings. I'd be devastated if I lost these!]

10. Share a YouTube video that always makes you laugh. 
I don’t really watch YouTube videos but I did stumble across this gif yesterday that made me laugh out loud. 

GIF: Road rage
That's one way to silence road rage
11. Are there any words that you try to live by? 
I love quotes! In fact, I decided to finally start my blog because of this quote by Mark Twain. Two of my favourite motivational quotes are below and you can find more by following my pinterest board.

Self-employment motivational quote

Motivational quote via

Interested in more getting-to-know-Danielle trivia? Check out 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Me. 

Now I’d love to learn more about you! Leave me a comment with the answer to one or any of the questions above and let's chat :)

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