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Long Weekend in Iceland

Recently, I feel like more and more people were going to Iceland. I had a layover there last year and just knew I wanted to go back. I saw there were cheap direct flights with WOW Air and decided to take a chance with a solo trip for Labor Day. I had such a good time!

IMG_8405View of Reykjavik

Though Iceland is expensive, their tourism is booming and so convenient for travelers. Upon arrival, I took a shuttle to The Blue Lagoon, which then took me to my guest house later. So convenient! Since my flight got in around 4am, it was nice to get a chance to relax in the geothermal pools. I even got a massage while floating in the water which was bliss!

IMG_8358The Blue Lagoon in the morning

After getting a shuttle to my Airbnb, I decided to do my own little tour of downtown Reyjavik. I tried an Icelandic hot dog, stopped by a local bakery, checked out the Tjornin Lake, and took in the view from the top of the Lutheran church.

IMG_8386The Icelandic Hot Dog, love the sweet mustard!

IMG_8413Pretty view of the lake

IMG_8412Pretty scenery of downtown

IMG_8384My cozy Airbnb room

After a long day, I decided to take an early night in my cozy room. The next morning, I got up early for my Golden Circle Tour with GeoIceland. It’s called the Golden Circle because of the golden grass that lines the route.

IMG_8428Crazy geyser that made me jump whenever it erupted

IMG_8422I really love this photo

IMG_8444Pretty rainbows and waterfalls

IMG_8467The countryside was beautiful

After the tour, I had myself a nice dinner (delicious lamb!) and participated in a pub crawl that night to meet other travelers. They even have a popular place called “American Bar” that turns into a club at night. I slept in the next morning and rested up for my horseback riding tour that afternoon.

IMG_8482Cloudy day horseback riding through the lava fields

IMG_8495Me with my horse Mani

IMG_8509Yummy sushi meal I treated myself to that night

With just a half day left, I decided to check out the free walking tour of the city to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I didn’t hurt that the tour guide was very attractive. I also got one last hot dog, because Iceland :)

IMG_8518Pretty view of the Lutheran church

Overall, I loved Iceland! I was afraid that going solo was going to be lonely, but I had such a good time traveling at my own pace. Plus, the weather as beautiful and not too cold.  I only wish I had one more day to head south and do a glacier hike. Maybe on my next layover!

Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce

I had a large amount of cherry tomatoes left over from making goodies for my book club last week. With some pasta on-hand as well, I decided to find a meal option where I could combine the two. I came across this recipe on Epicurious: Pasta with 15-min Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce and decided to give it a whirl.

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The recipe was really simple — make the pasta as directed, then heat the tomatoes in oil until they burst. The overall result was really delicious and the sauce coated the noodles perfectly. The only critique I have is that the sauce was a little oily for me, especially when I ate this for leftovers. Also, all those bursting cherries made a mess all over my kitchen. It took awhile to clean the oil off my counters and floor. Next time, I will use a cover for my skillet!

IMG_8291Some of the aftermath

Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac & Cheese

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I’ve been looking for a way to use up the spare whole wheat macaroni I had in my pantry. My mom had passed it along to me since she didn’t like it. I’m definitely more of a shell or penne girl myself. Luckily, I had this Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac & Cheese recipe pinned from awhile back. This was the perfect chance to try it out!

I really enjoyed the technique of straining the pasta over the spinach, allowing it to wilt. Less dishes to wash is always better for me! With wheat noodles and Greek yogurt instead of a creamy sauce — this makes for a healthier dish! I’m sure it would work with other vegetables added as well. I recommend adding another cup of spinach, two didn’t seem like enough to distribute evenly.

The only criticism I have is that the onion and garlic powder was too much for me. I don’t think I would add it next time. This dish is also great for leftovers, it lasted 3 meals for me and tasted great 3 days later!

Weekly Reading

IMG_8271The beginning of early morning triathlon workouts!

1. Some great career tips from Buzzfeed

2. This banana caramel smoothie looks delicious

3. A list of the best tater tots in LA

4. Why you should live with no regrets

5. A funny article about cargo shorts

Watching: Finally paid for Hulu and checking out Community — Almost done with season one and enjoying it!

Reading: Eleanor & Park — Not sure I enjoyed it as much as others, but it was an easy read. YA books aren’t what they used to be for me.

Listening: “You Don’t Own Me” by Grace — this has been stuck in my head since seeing Suicide Squad

Chocolate M&M Cake Mix Cookies

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You can’t deny these cookies are visually appealing. When I saw the colorful M&Ms, I knew I had to try these Chocolate M&M Cake Mix Cookies. Though, given that I am a peanut butter lover, I decided to do peanut butter M&Ms instead!

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The awesome thing about cake mix cookies is that they are just so darn easy to make. You just mix all the ingredients together and pop them in the oven (I used water instead of Hershey’s syrup). You don’t even need to use a standing mixer, I used a spatula :)

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Weekly Reading

IMG_8052Visiting the hippos at LA Zoo!

1. It’s crazy the objectification and scrutiny that women in Hollywood go through, it’s time for a change!

Visiting Malibu Wine Safaris

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I’ve been wanting to visiting Malibu Wine Safaris after I saw someone posting about it on Snapchat. I love animals and knew I HAD to meet the giraffe. Luckily, they had some openings over Memorial Day weekend and I was able to check it out!

The trucks that take you around the property

I took the Giraffe Tour ($95) which is a little over 90 mins and includes 6 tastings. They start out by taking you to see the animals. They have alpaca, zebras, horses, and the main attraction — Stanley the giraffe!

IMG_7896My sister feeding the alpaca

IMG_7904The zebra with big chompers!

IMG_7909Stanley the Giraffe!

After seeing the animals, they take you to two different locations on the property for tasting of 3 white wines, then 3 red wines. They also provide crackers and spreads to munch on. Along the way, you get to see the beautiful property and artwork the owner has displayed. My favorite part was just taking in the beautiful views!

IMG_7933Beautiful Views!

I absolutely loved the Malibu Wine Safari and hope to come back and try another tour sometime. It was a relaxing and beautiful way to spend a Sunday with my sister!

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Weekly Reading

IMG_8014A great birthday this week at Emo Night LA

1. Kinda funny – How millennials have discovered that going out sucks!

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodles

I randomly got a craving for cookies the other day and decided to give these Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodles a whirl. I was hesitant to try these since I’ve never baked with cream of tartar, but they were delicious. I couldn’t stop eating them!

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They were so light and fluffy, the perfect type of cookie with just enough chocolate chips. I honestly don’t have anything else to say about these, but they were amazing. I think I ate a majority of them and have no regrets.