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The Best Frozen Appetizers From Trader Joe’s

The Best Frozen Appetizers From Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s is my all time favorite for mostly everything. It’s great because you can get pretty much everything you’ll need to host any sort of function from the frozen food aisle. You could be craving any cuisine – Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Indian, etc and they’ll have something for you. They have everything ranging from the child at heart, mac n cheese balls, mini pizzas, and pigs in a blanket to “fancy” apps like tempura shrimp and vegetable samosas. 

I love hosting and getting friends together, but I also love a good easy and affordable way to continue to do this. After a busy day, the last thing I want to do (most nights) is to spend an hour or two cooking. I was having a girls night so I went to my local Trader Joe’s and here are my favorite frozen appetizers from Trader Joe’s. 

Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip – $2.99

This creamy and cheesy dip is always a crowd pleaser with my friends. This is always one of the first appetizers to be finished because you can have so many things in the dip and it’s perfect. I’ll normally leave out pita chips, celery, and carrots with this dip. 

Pastry Bites with Feta Cheese & Caramelized Onions – $4.99

A puff pastry, melted cheese, AND caramelized onions — is there really anything more appetizing? Although these bites are one of the more pricey options but they’re sooo delicious. I also think about how much it would be for me to buy all the ingredients for these and then how long it would take to make them and hope they turn out instagrammable. These are two-biters so be ready with some cocktail napkins. 

Crabless “Crab” Cakes – $3.99

These cakes have all the textures and flavors of seafood-based cakes but they’re made with jackfruit. I’m not vegan or gluten free or any of those things but I’m always down to try a healthy option, and I did. Then these quickly became a go-to. I’ll cut these up on a platter with a few different sauces to dip in and you can’t even tell they’re not real crab cakes so your guests will think you’re extra fancy. 

Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower – $4.99

The outside of this has a nice crispy texture but once you get to the cauliflower it doesn’t hold and it’s softer. The flavor, however, is still there. The flavor is similar to kung pow chicken. It’s $4.99 which like the pastry bites I feel like is a lot but with this you get 1.5 pounds of food which is a lot for people to keep munching on and is healthy! 

Meatless Meatballs – $3.99

Again, I’m not a vegetarian but I do have a few friends who are so these are always my go-to protein when hosting so everyone can enjoy! They will fool any meat-loving person and they’re so easy to leave out. I leave them in a shallow bowl in a vodka or marinara sauce (I have heard even in BBQ sauce they’re good) with some toothpicks and boom done.

When I was doing some research for this post, I found a lot of delicious sounding frozen appetizers that are season. When the holidays come around, I’ll try them all and give you my favorites. 

Just some more reasons why Trader Joe’s is the best grocery store in the history of grocery stores. Have a favorite app that I missed? Let me know! I’m always down to try more! 

~ XOXO, Amanda


The Perfect Southern Maine Roadtrip

Southern Maine may be one of my favorite parts of New England. I visited Ogunquit, Maine before I moved to Boston and it may or may not have influenced my decision.  I fell in love with it’s small town coastal charm. But how could you not? I had a friend visit recently and we wanted to get out of the city – so I took her on a mini road trip up the coast of Maine so she too, could fall in love. Here’s a recap of our trip & why I think you should take a day trip too.

First Stop: Kennebunkport, Maine 

Kennebunk is one of the quaintest towns and the Bush family agree so much that they have a “compound” just around the corner. Kennebunk has ice cream shops on every corner and you can’t go wrong with any seafood spot. There’s beautiful hotels and everyone is so friendly. I recommend stopping at The Clam Shack and/or Allison’s to get lunch! 

As you’re leaving Kennebunkport, make sure you stop at “Maine Diner” for some of the best seafood soup you’ll ever get. It’s like clam chowder but with lobster claws. 

Second Stop: Ogunquit, Maine 

Ogunquit will always have my heart. I found it to be the cutest little town and one day when I grow up (haha!) my goal is to buy a house along Marginal Walkway! It’s a short walk along the coast that is a must to do on your southern Maine road trip. You also have to stop in Perkin’s Cove and walk around to grab a souvenir, can you say you’ve been to Maine if you don’t come back with something lobster and some blueberry jam? There are such cute boutiques and stores all around.

A great place to stop here is the “Front Door” which is a piano bar and is SO FUN if you’re here in the evening time. 

Third Stop: York, Maine

Just down the road from Ogunquit is York, where Nubble lighthouse is at. If you didn’t get ice cream in Kennebunk, then make sure to get some here! There’s also a huge salt water taffy place where you can watch it get made. York is a great place to walk around, sit on the beach, and just enjoy Maine.

Fourth Stop: Portland, Maine

Portland is a beer and foodie paradise. Most of these places are good to spend a day in (at the very least) but Portland you could spend a full weekend in. I don’t particularly (or at all) like beer but there are SO many breweries. Their lighthouse is also one of my favorite in Maine! 

Like every town in Maine – Portland is known for their lobster rolls. I had one at Portland lobster company, and I think I made a mistake …if I were to do the day over again, I would get one at Highroller. Not that Portland Lobster Co was bad, I just think it could have been better.  You also have to get fries from Duck Fat, which are some of the best fries I’ve ever had. Stop in one of their most popular breweries Bissell Brothers, Allagash, Austin Street, Shipyard Brewing Company, & Rising Tide Brewing Company (just to name a few). On your way out, don’t forget to stop by The Holy Donut for the ride home. 

Is there someplace I missed that I need to try in Southern Maine? Let me know!

~ XOXO, the Maine obsessed, Amanda


What are the Best Dog Food Delivery Services?

Dog’s health seems to be a growing topic of popularity these days and I’ve been very intrigued. Kibble or dry food is known to be filled with additives that aren’t healthy to our pups and I’ve always thought “one day” I’ll make Gatsby his own food. I read this statistic,  an “average life expectancy of 13.1 years of a dog who is fed high-quality, fresh, real food versus 10.4 years for a dog for a dog who is fed kibble.” And I swear right after I saw that I stumbled across pet food delivery services and thought I’d give those a try! 

I won’t lie, one of the main reasons I didn’t switch earlier was it’s more expensive, but then you really think about it and that’s like me saying an extra 3 years of Gatsby’s life has a price tag on it, and wow was I ready to switch immediately because he’s my everything. Here are the ones I’ve tried and my thoughts on them


I tried pet plate food delivery first and they deliver in two-week increments which were a lot, I live in an apartment and I would think my freezer was the typical size and it was FULL of the containers. They come frozen so you have to thaw them out before feeding your pup and use within 7 business days. I got Gatsby the “lamb” flavor because that’s the type of kibble he used. Gatsby will eat literally anything and isn’t picky but here are my personal thoughts on Pet Plate: 

The Good:

  • You could see the real food in it. 
  • It’s delivered right to your door, so no need to go out to pick up pet food. 
  • They have 4 flavors – lamb, chicken, beef, and turkey. 
  • You can skip/pause the meal service. 

The Bad: 

  • I kid you not over 75% of my freezer was full of food. 
  • They come in plastic containers which aren’t great for heating up and not environmentally friendly. 
  • If you feed your dog three times a day, this food is designed to be fed twice, so you can either divide it up yourself or skip the 3 meals. 

The Cost of Pet Plate: 

Every 2 weeks: 

14 meals per delivery
$72.95 / week


I tried nomnomnow next and they send you a week’s worth of food at a time which is a much more manageable amount of food to store in my opinion. They came fresh so you could pop them right into the fridge, they do recommend if you aren’t planning on using them within 7 days to put them into the freezer. 

The Good:

  • One bag is one meal so you simply open the bag and feed your pup.
  • You can also order probiotic to add to your pups food to help with normal digestion and immune support. 
  • They have 4 flavors – beef, pork, chicken, and turkey.
  • They make and ship out the food weekly. If you want less frequent deliveries then you can set those up too. 
  • You can skip weeks.
  • There were chunks of real food in it. 

The Bad:

  • Every meal is supposed to be based on your dog’s ideal weight and what they weigh now. I talked to my vet and she did the math, and she thought Gatsby needed a little more than what they offered (½ a bag more) so I go through the food quicker or have to supplement his food with something else. 
  • You only feed your dog twice a day with these, and if your dog is like Gatsby then he may miss having lunch! 
  • You can’t change the day it’s shipped out/delivered on. My food gets delivered on Friday and I recently took a long weekend and left Friday morning so my neighbor had to bring in the food. 

The Cost of NomNomNow varies on your delivery schedule: 

Every week:
14 meals per delivery
11 lbs of food
$71.31 / week

Every 2 weeks:
28 meals per delivery
22 lbs of food
$60.84 / week

Every 4 weeks:
56 meals per delivery
43 lbs of food
$55.59 / week

We ended up sticking with nom nom now and Gatsby still loves it! Want to try NomNomNow for your pup? Follow this link for 30% off your first nomnomnow order.

I didn’t try Farmer’s Dog because I actually loved Nom Nom Now so much, but I did have every intention to! Overall, we do love our pet meal delivery and do think it’s worth the extra cash. It is a little annoying if you’re taking your pup on vacation or if someone else is watching him while you’re gone. 

Want to learn more about pet food delivery and how bad kibble is? Watch Pet Fooled on Netflix! 

~XOXO, the dog mom, Amanda


My Nantucket Travel Guide

Nantucket has been on my radar since I moved to Boston, and it was only a matter of time until I crossed it off my bucket list. If you haven’t traveled to the quaint little island yet, it’s time you book a trip. You’ll find delicious food and drinks, shingled cottages, fine sanded beaches, and cobblestone streets.

Here is my Nantucket travel guide with where to stay, what to do, what to eat, & insider traveler tips! And we only spent 3 days on this quaint island so I’ll give you everywhere we went to and places we wanted to but didn’t make it to.

Grey Lady

Also known as “The Grey Lady” because it’s like the grey lady of the ocean because the island gets covered with a thick fog. People also refer the island as “ACK” because that’s the airport code for the airport. I will say it’s not a budget friendly island, especially in peak season. The island’s population in the offseason is 2,000 which can grow up to 55,000 in the summer months even though it’s less than 48 square miles. One of my favorite things about Nantucket is one side you have the beach and the other side of the harbor.

How to get on the Island

You can fly into “ACK” from nearly airport but I wouldn’t say that’s the easiest nor do you get the full experience. 

There’s a ferry from Hyannis with two companies operating out to the island – HyLine & Steamship Authority which both take about an hour. I’d recommend flying into Boston and then driving the hour to Hyannis and hopping on the ferry! You’ll get the full experience pulling right up into the beautiful Nantucket Boat Basin which will give you your first taste!

Where to Stay in Nantucket

We stayed at an AirB&B but i’ve long admired The Cottages at Boat Basin or The White Elephant. Both looked very cute and would give you the ideal “Nantucket” experience. We enjoyed our AirB&B a lot though and there were sooo many to choose from. I would recommend bringing some cash as some places are cash only so it’s nice not to run into any problems finding an ATM.

What to Eat in Nantucket


Island Kitchen – We sat outside at Island Kitchen and they have a lot of seating and can accomodate large groups. They did move on island time, so if you’re in a hurry this may not be the spot for you. I got the tofu scramble, but you can’t go wrong with the avocado toast, eggs benedict, breakfast burrito, or the animal (pictured) which is panko crusted eggs, bacon, sausage, with hollandaise on a brioche bun.

Lemon Press – While we didn’t eat there we did have their lavender lemonade which everytime I see on a menu I have to get. And we stopped in for drinks. I’ve heard this place though, if a great spot for breakfast.

Downyflake – These donuts are the perfect size and they weren’t too dry. They’re cash only ($1) and come in cinnamon sugar, chocolate frosted, coconut, and plain. We got a chocolate and coconut and they were both amazing.

The Handlebar Cafe – I thought this was the best iced coffee we had on the island. They have a cute little water bowl out in front for the pups and you have to walk around to their secret garden to drink your coffee.

Keepers Restaurant – We loved our breakfast here. 3 out of 4 of us got some version of the eggs benedict (fish cake bene & lil’ buddy bene) and both were delish! We got tried “the keeper” because how could you not?

Where we didn’t get to: Black Eyed Susan’s for the pancakes, ‘Sconset Market for the (specifically) blueberry muffins, Brant Point Grill for a bougie brunch with a legendary lobster bloody mary, or 45 Surfside which is known for their pastries.


Oath Pizza – this place has outdoor seating on the water with endless pizza options which makes for a very affordable meal with a view of the harbor.

Millie’s – is right on Madaket Beach so if you go for dinner make sure you walk down to the beach for sunset. But this place is off the beaten path so it was fun to see more of the island on our way. We got some apps and drinks and shared. We got the dip trio with guacamole, queso, & salsa and then a grilled shrimp quesadilla & a steak quesadilla which hit the spot. I also heard the mahi mahi tacos & salads were to die for. After grabbing a bite to eat make sure you head over to Millie’s Market for some hot sauce to take home because it was that good!

Provisions – I heard a lot of buzz around these sandwiches, so I did have high expectations that were 100% met. We all got different sandwiches so we could try them all because so many of them sounded delicious. My favorites were the thanksgiving sandwich (it’s exactly what it sounds like) and the turkey. This place is another place that is cash only.

Cru – This way by far our most expensive meal but we knew it would be. We all got the lobster rolls for dinner with oysters. We could all agree that the lobster rolls were 10/10. They have a chic/nautical interior & right on harbor so you can’t beat the views. We sat inside but they have an adorable little patio as well. We did call and make a reservation which I highly recommend.

Where we didn’t get to: Galley Beach which I was bummed about because who doesn’t love a restaurant/bar sitting right in the sand?! Lola 41 which is the only buzzy sushi spot on the island, and Club Car for the small italian bites and they have a cute little club car which turns into a piano bar at night.

Ice Cream

The Juice Bar – Notice how this is the only one listed? It’s because this ice cream shop is the best in the whole wide world. I’m not even kidding. I’d recommend going at an “off” time because there can get a line, even if there is one, it’s worth it.

Drinks & Cocktails

The Gazebo – This bar is in the middle of the little downtown strip & gets really popular at night. It’s a must for a mudslide & 888 vodka drink. We did see El Presidente there…heard he frequents the spot a lot.

Chicken Box – This bar has a stage with live music and can get a little rowdy. Your typical live music/bar scene for a fun night of drinks and dancing.

Straight Wharf – Right next to The Gazebo so it’s a great next spot to go get another drink and keep the night going.

What to do in Nantucket

Brandt Point lighthouse – This is the iconic lighthouse you see everywhere when you think of Nantucket. It was first built in 1746 and then automated in 1965. It’s a great photo op and if you take the ferry in, you’ll get some great views of it.

Cisco Brewery – Cisco is a fun place to spend the afternoon, we went to Cisco beach before we wanted to go because we thought that they were close..learn from us, it’s not within walking distance. But it’s a great place to grab a bite to eat, have a drink, & spend the afternoon. They do have other things than beer to drink, like cocktails and wine! There’s also food trucks to grab a bite and live music to enjoy the afternoon.

Whaling Museum –  This is a little museum in town to learn about the history of Nantucket. We didn’t get a chance to stop by but it

Rent Bikes or Mopeds – This is a fun way to get to a different part of the island and see more that you may not be staying around.

Explore the ‘Sconset Bluff Walk – This walk is beautiful walk with views of the ocean and beautiful big homes. You can walk past the cottages and it will lead you straight to Sankaty Head Lighthouse.

Go sailing or out on a boat. Why not be on the water every second you can get.

Head to the beach! We spend a day at both Surfside Beach & Cisco Beach and had a blast at both. Surfside was a little busier and had a restaurant and bathrooms. For majority of the time, we were the only ones at Cisco which was amazing.

Shop – Nantucket is FULL of shopping! If you want it you can get it there from your typical touristy shops and then other must – go to’s including For Now which is a pop-up so consumers can discover new brands and their motto is “find what you weren’t looking for” which I am obsessed with. There’s also a Beautycounter pop up so you can try all their products, if you do go – make sure if you buy anything to let them know you’re shopping with me! (Amanda Sobkowiak). There’s also Skinny Dip Nantucket and Levitate which both have good items to check out!

There’s no way you can cram everything into one trip, we sure didn’t. Trust me, you’ll be back. I know I will!

Until next time, Nantucket!

~ XOXO, Becky aka Amanda


The Cheeseboard to Bring to a 4th of July BBQ

I am a big holiday person, I take that back, I am a big celebrating person. I love celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, not to mention every holiday/season. And the 4th of July is no exception. I love everything patriotic, red, white, & blue, and anything that is obnoxious & screams “‘MERICA” but am I alone? I don’t think so! If you are looking for something to bring to your BBQ this 4th of July – try this cheese board!

Here is my guide & what you’ll need for the best patriotic cheese board. This assortment of cheese, dips, fruits, & crackers will be sure to wow any party. Everything can be prepared in advance and assembled the day of, making your life easy!

Easy Patriotic Appetizer for the 4th of July

This cheese board is perfect for a BBQ where you don’t want this to be the main food option or make people too full. For the presentation of this board, I left the cheese mostly alone, except the stars which I cut into thin slices and then used a star-shaped cookie cutter, and bought the meats already sliced. I also added some crackers and pretzels for dip and a change in the consistency.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3-4 different types of cheese
  • Some sort of meat
  • Crackers/pretzels
  • A variety of red/blue fruits
  • Hummus
I threw this together with brie, cheddar cheese shaped like stars, blue cheese, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, hummus, and salami. I also added pretzels and crackers for dipping and to go along with the items. It’s very low maintenance.

~ XOXO, the cheese lovin’ Amanda
Beautycounter Clay Mask

The Busy Girl’s Guide to Self Care

I’m the girl who doesn’t know how to relax, how to shut off, how to turn off. I can lay in bed listening to my rainforest pandora station (Yes, I know no one uses Pandora anymore) and my brain is still going. And yes, I know self-care is important. More important than we all know, probably. So I spent a week, consciously thinking about taking care of my self, my body, my skin, etc. And here’s what I did and how I felt at the end of it.

How to Indulge in Self Care

Monday: Day 1 – Learning to not dread Monday’s

Monday’s are always a lag for me. I dread them, not because I hate my job. Or hate my days – it’s so ingrained into my thoughts. “Ugh, Monday,” so today, I didn’t let myself go there. I didn’t let myself have a few extra minutes in bed after my alarm went off. I got right up because I was excited for the day (hey, mind over matter right?). Gatsby and I went to our typical morning park, with our typical crew – but instead of hating the cold – I let the brisk winter air wake me up.

After work, I normally have a quick dinner and go straight for the couch. Today, I decided I’d try a new recipe. This is something I would NEVER do on a Monday – because LOL who has time!!!

Tuesday: Day 2 – Taking a break from the day

Work for me is normally straight through lunch – not because my company doesn’t allow “lunch breaks” been there, never doing that again. But because I mentally think I’m that busy! Today, I took the hour out of my day to treat myself to lunch and sit there and eat it not in front of my computer screen.

Normally in the afternoon, because I’ve been there all day long – I feel drained and at max capacity but this day was different. It didn’t happen at 3 PM – it happened at 4:45 PM. And BAM! The workday was done.

Wednesday: Day 3 – Face mask & Chick Flicks

Beautycounter Clay Mask

I love a good face mask. And I love a good chick flick. After work tonight, I made my favorite dinner – which is currently the cauliflower gnocchi and turkey meatballs from TJ’s. Put my favorite Beautycounter Charcoal face mask on once dinner was done and popped in one of my FAVORITE chick flicks – The Devil Wears Prada.

I even poured myself a glass of wine, after all, it was #winewednesday and with that it was almost 9:30 (my bedtime these days) and I was off to bed, chuckling about everything Miranda says.

Thursday: Day 4 – Continuing to make time for your friends

wine flight in Boston, MA

If you’ve been following my life for a while now – you know that I have the best friends. And I am a firm believer that you’re nothing without your girls standing behind you.

We all have busy days – and our to-do lists are never-ending. But at the end of the day, you just have to prioritize your time. And you can always find time for the people in your life that you want.

So today, my girls and I did some wine tasting at City Winery in Boston! Wine flights? Yes, count us in!

Friday: Day 5 – #girlsnightin

As if I didn’t get enough of my girlfriends the night before, we decided to have a game night. Ordered pizza because #dieting & made some fun and very #instaworthy drinks. It may not be glamorous but it is fun! I can never say after a night (or two) with my friends, that I wish I didn’t do it. I wish I had been anti-social or went to bed.

Saturday: Day 6 – Coffee & Magazines

Please don’t tell me that I am the only one who drinks their coffee on the go. Whether that’s getting ready for the day, on the way to work, or while doing work. How often do you sit down and actually enjoy the cup of coffee? I sat on the couch, sipped my coffee (while it was warm!!!) & caught up on the copious amounts of magazines I always get sucked into buying.

Sunday: Day 7 – Move That Body

I got outside and worked out, especially I treated myself and did a workout class outside. I am always so much more inclined to workout in a class and since I’m a competitive person, I want to work out harder or faster than the person next to me. Breathing in the fresh air while getting endorphins from a great workout was everything I needed that morning.

Self-care is different to everyone. You have to find what works for you, and not forget about it. I always think I thrive on the busy life and the pressure I put on myself. But maybe I work best, am the best when I remember myself.

It also worked great when I did a little here and a little there instead of trying to cram in everything about self-care I can think of in one day or one night. I think self-care truly works when you focus on it every day, every week, month in and month out. If you’re anything like me, you’ll take care of everyone before yourself, and I’m sure you’ve heard something along the lines of, “how can you take care of others when yourself isn’t taken care of?” It’s true.

Focus on YOU

Now, I’m going to challenge you to try to incorporate just one thing of self-care for your life this month. And it doesn’t have to be something that worked for me, or that I did. Remember, this is about you. After, tell me what you did & how it went!

~ XOXO, the zen-ed out, Amanda


How To Get Over a Breakup

If you read my post about being broken hearted you’ll have an insight into how I felt, and I won’t lie, there are still sad, depressed, or heartbroken moments – whatever you wanna call it. And I’m human, it’s a daily choice not to stay there though. The image of the woman sitting in her robe, eating ice cream, with mascara running down her face – DON’T let that be you (for long) in a breakup.

Breakups are devastating, I’ve been there, I’ve watched my whole world fall apart in front of my eyes, and then watched them walk out the door. No matter what kind of break up you’ve been in they’re hard – one-sided, mutual, clean break, messy, long & dragged out, they are all traumatic. But! I’m alive, I didn’t die, the world went on, & you can too. Here’s how to get over a breakup:

Recognize that you have to grieve that person

I thought this was crazy, honestly. But it was so true – this person was dead. Yes, not literally. But in a sense. You’re going to cry, you’re going to be angry, you’re going to be in denial, you’re going to bargain with your head, and all of that is okay/normal. In a breakup, we’re not just losing the person, but we’re also losing our idea of the future we planned with that person, and maybe you’re losing their family, and you’ll probably lose a few mutual friends. Something that you have (or I had/have) to remind myself is that: you are worth it, you’re worth giving and receiving love, and you are enough.

Go through all the reasons why your life is better now

And yes, we all know there are reasons. You don’t have to deal with _____. You don’t have to be up all night with snoring, or their bad habits, or whatever it may be. You get to drive your life now, and there’s no one in the passenger seat to bring you down or take over the steering wheel. The most important aspect of this is that you need to go back to feeling not only good but confident, about yourself. He didn’t see the good in you, and that’s his loss. Welcome back, self.

Don’t go through every single detail of your relationship

Which can be so hard not to do especially if you didn’t want it to end or if you are confused as to why/how but you are only torturing yourself because focusing on the “what-if’s” doesn’t change this present moment. If someone is not willing to reciprocate our investment in them, we must take this as a blessing in disguise. And remember that we are not responsible for their actions/immature behavior.

No social media stalking

I was SO bad at this, and sure for the first few times I didn’t care, but then moments later – it would all hit me. Trust me, ignorance is 100% bliss. You won’t have to see that they’re out at a bar, out with someone new. Whatever it may be the case that they’re doing – CLOSE THE DOOR. And as hard as it is to come to terms, they don’t matter. What they do, doesn’t matter.

You have to make the choice to put one foot in front of the other

I focused on segments at a time, I couldn’t think about the future at all, because I’d go down a rabbit hole that I couldn’t get out of. My day was, wake up do my morning routine, get to work, do work, do my nightly routine. And do that every day. Nothing else.

Understand that it will come in waves

But let it happen. I literally thought I was bipolar, I was worried about myself. Because I would be totally fine, and the next moment, be hysterical. HYSTERICAL. But I think it’s because your brain is processing through every single thing and working through the harder times.

Rely on your support system

They were probably your support system before him, throughout this whole relationship, and they’ll be there through this. Most of us have all been through a hard breakup in our lives. We’re not alone in how we’re feeling and it’s important to work through it with people you love. **shout out to all my loves for answering my millions of sobbing calls at every hour of every day***

And most of all, don’t forget to breathe and always remember you will get through this.

~ XOXO, the stronger every day, Amanda


Your Guide to Cheese & Wine Pairing

Wine and cheese are two of life’s greatest pleasures and they just so happen to be two of my favorite things. Finding the perfect wine and cheese pairings is something I love to do, With every new cheese I try, I always think to myself, which wine would be perfect with it. Or vice versa. There’s so much to take into consideration with wine and cheese pairings, like texture, acidity, and tannin. I am a firm believer in that both are delicious on their own, but when paired perfectly, magic can happen. This leads us to the million dollar question:

Which Wines Pair Best With What Cheeses?

If I had my pick, I’d more often than not pick a red wine. I used to only drink Moscato in my early days which makes me cringe now. But my palette has been refined (THANK GOD) and now I can appreciate a nice rosé, or sauvignon blanc on a warm summer day.

Merlot & Garlic & Herb Cheeses

Merlot is a medium – full bodied red, typically with hints of plum, black cherry, and black tea. It pairs perfectly with the flavors from this spreadable cheese (like pictured). Since Merlot is a dry and fruity wine, blending it with this tangy flavorful cheese will give the wine the perfect combination of sweet and savory that we all know and love. The cheese will also help bright out the fruity flavors in the wine.

Sauvignon Blanc & Feta

This light bodied and dry wine gives off hints of citrus & grass which makes it perfect for feta’s soft and fresh taste. Since sauvignon blanc is light and feta is soft, neither flavor will over power each other. You’ll love how these both subtle yet complementary flavors go hand in hand perfectly.

Cabernet Franc & Brie

“Cab Franc” as everyone likes to call it, is a medium – dry wine  where you get flavors of raspberry, bramble, and sometimes even bell pepper.  Brie is soft and creamy, and one of my favorites. Brie is very creamy and buttery which compliments this wine’s savory flavors.

Crisp Dry Rosé & Goat

This light – medium bodied, and dry rosé often with splashes of raspberry and cherry and goat cheeses are very subtle in flavor, it needs a subtle wine so the flavor doesn’t get overwhelmed. Since you’re getting that crisp finish with this wine, the goat cheese will go along with the soft and ripe sip that the wine brings. Think of a perfect summer picnic with a rosé and goat cheese. I am also a big fan of sauvignon blanc with goat cheese if you aren’t a rosé fan.

Riesling & Blue

Riesling is often light and dry with subtle peach and other stone fruits in flavor. People oftentimes stray away from stinky cheese like blue when wine pairing, but these two are perfect. When you pair blue with a sweeter wine like the riesling, it will help balance out that “funk” and give you a more mellow and sweet taste with the cheese. These stinky cheeses give both a unique texture and flavor so don’t leave them out.

Pinot Noir & Comté

This pinot is a light – medium bodied wine with a dry taste, giving off earthy tones and ripe red fruits which pairs great with this cheese because it’s a nutty cheese with medium firmness. Comté can give off hazelnut and brown butter. Neither of these have a robust flavor which lets the flavors from each come out.

The Best Wine and Cheese Pairings

What I’ve learned is – don’t be afraid to experiment or get creative with your pairings! With wine and cheese pairings balance is the key. You want to be able to taste both the wine and cheese and let them compliment each other vs. one 100% being overpowering. If you want to learn more about how to build the perfect cheese board, read my blog post!

Did I leave out a good pairing that you love? Let me know!

~ XOXO, the wine lovin’, Amanda

Two girls at Disneyland in California

Tips for the Best Disneyland Experience

Let’s just start off by saying that Disneyland isn’t known as “Happiest Place on Earth” for no reason. I grew up with fantastic memories of Disneyland and while as I got older I didn’t go as much as I used to, it’s safe to say that every time I go I leave with a smile from ear to ear. Here’s how to make the most of your time at both Disneyland and California Adventure Park.

California Adventure & Disneyland

While Disneyland is known as the iconic park, I love them both equally. California Adventure park was my first upside down roller coaster and their rides are more geared towards adults. Disneyland has more rides and it covers a larger layout. Disneyland is comprised of Disneyland, California Adventure Park, Downtown Disney, and between the parks, they have 3 hotels. Between the two parks, there are 16 themed lands, over 90 rides, and over 90 places to dine. This goes without saying, but I would recommend spending more than one day here, especially for a first-time visit.

Balloons at Disneyland

Tips & Tricks for a Magical Trip to Disneyland

  • Buy Tickets in Advance. Whether that be online or at a third-party office, this way you’re not wasting the day at ticket booths and can jump straight into the park. I’d recommend getting a hopper pass this way you can jump between both parks and you don’t have to spend all day at a certain park.
  • Spend time at both parks. Disneyland which opened in 1955 is your typical Disney experience from It’s a Small World to Dumbo to Pirates of the Caribbean to every princess. While California Adventure is more related to the Disney-Pixar side of things like Frozen, Monsters Inc, Cars, Etc.
  • They don’t sell alcohol at Disneyland. I used to love going to Cove Bar and Ariel’s Grotto for drinks, watching the roller coaster, and having a few apps. They’ve now closed it and it’s now Lamplight Lounge ~ stay tuned on the verdict with that restaurant. 
  • Plan your Disney trip not during peak times. Disneyland is busy from locals to people visiting from every part of the world. It’s best to avoid going during “peak” times like summer, any spring breaks, or Christmas vacation to beat the crowds and long lines.
  • Don’t forget about the FastPass. You can get one free FastPass at a time. This way you can plan out the rides with the longest wait time and plan to go back later.
  • Stay at a Disneyland Hotel. This may seem over the top, but you can cut down on transportation time, have very easy access in and out of the parks, and can go drop off or rest (which you will want to do).
  • Use the Disneyland App. This will give you an interactive map of the park and let you better plan out your day. The app will give you estimated wait time for rides, let you know the estimated FastPass return time and where the characters that are out in the park are. I’d recommend bringing a portable charger for your phone, especially if you’re planning on using the app at all.
  • Make a plan. Since wait lines can get long, the park can get crowded, or who knows what else, make sure you have a plan on your “must-do’s” or “must-see’s” so those don’t get missed out on.
  • Don’t forget to buy your ears! This is a staple for everyone visiting the park, no matter the age. They will magically fit on everyone and make you feel like a little kid again.

Here’s you have it, the best time at both Disneyland & California Adventure! Now all you need is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust.

~ XOXO, the Disney Lovin’, Amanda

A picture of in n out food

What You Need to Know About the Secret Menu at In-N-Out

If you’ve visited Southern California or the west coast, chances are people have told you that In-N-Out is a must try. And I couldn’t agree more. It’s not hyped or overrated, it’s a necessity. In-N-Out is slowly but surely moving East & I can’t wait for the dream that one opens up in Boston (I can dream, right?).

In-n-out menu at the drive thru

The Normal In-N-Out Menu

They have their basics of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries, drinks, and milkshakes. Every burger comes with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, raw onions, their famous sauce and of course a toasted bun. Listed on their menu is a “double-double” which is your typical burger just with two patties, I thought it was a little self-explanatory, but you can never be too careful with the newbies. That’s the easy stuff, now we get to the good stuff.

In-N-Out Secret Menu

A Neapolitan milkshake at in n out

Maybe it’s not so secret to everyone anymore, it’s easily accessible online. But here’s an insider look at the menu.  

  • Animal Style: your delicious burger with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, extra spread, and grilled onions. FYI: You can have any burger made animal style.
  • Animal Style Fries: fries with cheese, spread, and grilled onions.
  • Double/Triple Meat: number of meat patties without any cheese.
  • Protein Style: instead of a bun, your burger is wrapped in lettuce. Any burger can be made this way.
  • X by Y: X = meat patties with Y = number of cheese slices. For example, you could say a 3 x 3 or a 4 x 3.
  • Flying Dutchman: two meat patties with two slices of cheese. Nothing else.
  • Grilled Cheese: buns with two slices of cheese, toasted of course.
  • Neopolitan Shake: your typical strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla shake for when you can’t decide which flavor to get. You can also pick and choose any combination of them.
  • Cheese Fries: fries that are loaded with cheese.
  • Root Beer Float: your classic root beer float. You get a root beer soda with vanilla ice cream.

My go to order? Protein style, animal style, with fries and a Neopolitan shake. I am drooling just thinking about it! Enjoy your meal at In-N-Out, as if I needed to actually tell you that.

Animal Style everything from the in n out secret menu

~ XOXO, the animal style lovin’, Amanda