Getting it Together on the Road: Savannah

The Southern US often gives me anxiety. Do you know it’s absolutely impossible in 2014 to find a coconut water in southern Virginia? That’s not the kind of place I want to call home. Savannah, however, is different.

I’ve been going to Savannah on a semi-regular basis since I was a little girl. One branch of my family had the wits to get out of the north so I have traveled to the Paris of the South for weddings, races, vacations and of course – time spent visiting my family. Savannah has all the charm of the south while still being a part of the 21st century.

Below are some of my highlights of Savannah.  If you ever need more suggestions, feel free to e-mail me, tweet me, send me a note via carrier pigeon.

Savannah actually has a great shopping scene. When I get married, I’m going to decorate my entire house with stuff from Paris Market. Paris Market is filled with finds from flea markets and estate sales from – you guessed it – Paris, as well as the rest of the world with different cities and countries being represented at any given time. Currently the store is filled with finds from Egypt and India.

paris market savannah | almost getting it together

Upstairs at Paris Market

paris market savannah | almost getting it together

Downstairs at Paris Market.

paris market savannah | almost getting it together

Dying for this to be what my house looks like.

Besides Paris Market, Broughton Street also has Anthropologie, Kate Spade and Marc by Marc Jacobs outposts, just to name a few. If you want to find something a little more local with a smaller price tag, stop by Red Clover, whose offerings channel Francesca’s Collections, albeit with an even smaller price tag.

Savannah has options for just about every appetite. Go for complete gluttony at Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House, where you wait in line for a lunch of meatloaf or fried chicken, plus over twenty different side dishes and desserts, all eaten family style. I’ve done it once, many years ago, which was enough.

If you want to have a cute and quirky brunch with your girlfriends, I suggest Soho South Cafe. They have all the American-bistro classics from salads to sandwiches to quiche, with mismatched tables to boot. If you have to wait for a table, their bar area is super cute, too.

soho south cafe savannah ga | almost getting it together

The bar at Soho South Cafe.

soho south cafe savannah ga | almost getting it together

House Mixed Salad at Soho South Cafe, complete with added chicken and avocado (of course).

I’m also obsessed with Your Pie, the Chipotle of the pizza world. Read more about my obsession with Your Pie.

If you’re still hungry, I also suggest getting the falafel at Zunzis or grabbing a coffee at Gallery Espresso, conveniently a block from Red Clover.

Obviously, being a beach babe, my seriously favorite thing to do in Savannah is go to Tybee Island. The drive is beautiful, the beach is clean, and there are a ton of cool shops and restaurants on Tybee.

tybee island savannah ga | almost getting it together

Beach is better.

There’s always a race going on in Savannah –  or go for a loop around Isle of Hope for some stunning views, old plantation houses and an abundance of Spanish moss. Frosythe Park is also a mile around, so you can do loops around there and it affords some great people-watching. On Saturdays there is a Farmers’ Market there as well.

The Bohemian Hotel has a cool roof-top bar. The crowd is kind of older, but if you’re a girl, that means someone will probably buy you a drink.

Bohemian Hotel Savannah Ga | almost getting it together

With my cousin Jaime at the Bohemian Hotel in Savannah. Champs on champs.

I’m also a fan of Abe’s on Lincoln, mainly because there are Lincoln Logs. It’s super dive-y but also super fun.

abe's on lincoln savannah ga | almost getting it together

Clearly not the most flattering photo of me ever, but I should have been an architect.

Chat with me:
What’s one of your favorite cities to visit? When you’re traveling, which do you love most – shop, eat, play or drink?

What I Ate Wednesday: Nicaraguan Eats [2]

I’m a terrible blogger. I never remember to photograph my food. I think it’s a muscle memory you have to train. Or it’s because I’m lackadaisical in most things I do. I wish I could be a more serious person. Did you know the Spanish word for “almost” is “Casi”? I think this blog name was meant to be.

I’m writing this at 6:30 a.m. since I woke up for a run and it’s pouring the rain. I wanted to share a few more of the things I ate while in Nicaragua. I still am having a little white rice PTSD – I saw a container in the fridge at work yesterday and almost had a panic attack, but other than that, I’m already ready to be back there, waking up early to surf, not waking up early to push back a run because I’m being a baby and don’t feel like running in the rain.

This isn’t a whole day of eats – just random things I photographed that you’ll probably see again if I ever bother to do a recap. (I will, I promise – getting serious over here).

Smoothie Bowl from Buddha’s Garden

buddhas garden san juan del sur | almost getting it together

Smoothie Bowl at Buddha’s Garden.

I was Skyping with my #WCW, Davida, last night and told her about the smoothie bowl I ate at the new raw foods cafe in San Juan Del Sur, Buddha’s Garden. Her reply? “Of course you would find the only raw foods bar in Nicaragua.” This smoothie bowl was made with a papaya base, then topped with mango, banana, watermelon, chia seeds and raw granola. I love how not-sweet the raw granola was. Do I now need a dehydrator? The answer is no.

Fish Taco from Bad Ass Eats

bad ass eats san juan del sur Nicaragua | almost getting it together

Fish taco from Bad Ass Eats.

You can’t go to a beach town without a fish taco, even if fish tacos aren’t really native to Nicaragua (still Mexican, but readily available at every beach stand and just about every place in town). This was super messy. It’s crazy windy in San Juan Del Sur (offshore winds from Lake Nicaragua, hence why the surfing is so good) and whatever creama sauce was on it was everywhere. Then I also felt the need to dump a random hot sauce on the counter into it. The tortilla was a  homemade corn tortilla and was so good. BUT – the fish tacos my dad and I made from “It’s All Good” still are the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. Is that blasphemy?

Lobster from Cloud Farm

lobster cloud farm |  almost getting it together

Lobster… with the dreaded white rice.

As I said before, my meals were included in my lodging. The next to last night included lobster. I don’t even know where you find lobsters in Nicaragua, aren’t they a cold water creature crustacean? It was delicious and was in some red veggie sauce. The green thing is some sort of squash (though I wish it were kabocha squash) and the thing that isn’t rice is mashed potatoes. I’m just not into mashed potatoes/white potatoes in general… They’re both just bland to me. I was kind of hungry after I ate this since it was a few slices of squash and one lobster tail so I ended up making a salad with a random cucumber and tomato I found with balsamic vinegar and this delicious smoked cheese.

Steak and Chicken Kebobs from El Colibri

el calibri san juan del sur Nicaragua | almost getting it together

Beef and chicken kebabs at El Colibri.

I had spoke with a few people who had visited San Juan Del Sur, including Abby from All Dolled Up, who told me about the sangria at local Mediterranean restaurant, El Colibri. We went on their second to last night – their lease was up and the owners of the building wanted to start their own restaurant there. Since Nicaragua’s only food to speak of is rice, beans and plantains, I felt zero guilt about eating a cuisine I could get at home. Everything looked amazing – they had Spanish meatballs, steak with vodka bacon sauce, gnocchi (how I miss you, gnocchi) – but I went with chicken and steak kabobs (I love all things grilled, especially grilled veggies) and they were nice enough to swap polenta (weird polenta craving) for the potatoes.

Although I love eating while traveling, I’m also a creature of habit and truly love making my own meals because I love cooking, so coming home is always a little bit of a relief for me – I no longer have to forage for food out in the world and instead can throw random stuff in a bowl and eat it. I’ve also been eating mustard on everything since I didn’t have mustard for a week and I’m currently OBSESSED.

I’m linking up with Jenn from Peas and Crayons for What I Ate Wednesday.


Chat with me: What food/condiment are you currently obsessed with? Do you like eating out/eating at home more? What’s the best thing you’ve ever ate traveling?

Superfood Smoothie Bowl

Did you ever notice how every food is now a “superfood”? Also most foods are now also detox foods. People need to slow their roll with putting food into categories.

Anyway, I know I owe you about a million two travel recaps along with a ton of other stuff I want to share, but I haven’t had the chance to create a recipe for a couple weeks and this takes a lot less brain effort to write then something I have to go fact-check.

Nicaragua was amazing. I’ll recap fully soon, I promise. Of course the first place I made my dad stop after he picked me up from the airport (at 11 p.m.) was the grocery store to buy spinach. I had been feeling pretty gross my whole trip and couldn’t wait to start eating super clean again.

I just felt like I ate so much when I really didn’t. I was just eating differently than normal (trying to eat for energy – surfing is hard work!) and I start to feel weird when I’m not eating a ton of veggies and protein. After Tuesday, I made the exec decision I was no longer going to eat white rice… I don’t love it, my body doesn’t love it, I might as well spend the calories somewhere else and eat something satisfying.

Sunday morning, I woke up pretty hungry from not eating anything substantial on Saturday (the Managua and Houston airports both lack healthy options and plane food is probably just injected with sodium). I also knew I needed vegetables stat. I had a smoothie bowl at this cool raw foods cafe in San Juan del Sur and decided to just Cassie-fy it. I was a little cold after breakfast but I suddenly had a ton of energy and felt like myself again. Oh, and did I mention it was delicious?

Superfood Smoothie Bowl

Superfood Smoothie Bowl | almost getting it together

Start your day the tropical way with a smoothie bowl.

What you’ll need:
Smoothie Bowl
2 huge handfuls spinach
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup ice
1/2 cup coconut water
1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/4 cup raw rolled oats
1/4 avocado

1/2 banana
1/4 cup blueberries
2 tbsp Purely Elizabeth Blueberry Hemp Granola
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1 tbsp shredded coconut

What to do:
Put all smoothie bowl ingredients into your Vitamix blender and blend until smooth. It should be a little thicker than a normal smoothie and not flow out of the container – you should have to use a spatula to get it all out.
Put smoothie into a bowl (duh). Add toppings and try not to get a brain freeze as you dig in (this is coming from experience).

Superfood Smoothie Bowl | almost getting it together

Look at that green goodness.

Superfood Smoothie Bowl | almost getting it together

Smoothie bowl is ready for its close-up.

Superfood Smoothie Bowl Nutrition Facts

Chat with me:
What do you eat when you need to get back on track? Are you as obsessed with vegetables as I am?

What I Ate Wednesday: Nicaraguan Eats

Incase you missed it, I’m currently at surf camp with Chicabrava in Nicaragua (as part of my “actually achieve something as a 25 year old plan“). As part of the camp, they provide all of your meals, which is super cool because I’m staying on a farm and 90% of the food they make is from the farm (there’s nothing like fresh eggs). I thought I would share a little bit of what I’m eating, but I’m a terrible blogger so I always forget to take photos.

Sorry for the crappy iPhone photos (per usual) and being totally unedited – WiFi here is a bad sitch.

Nicaraguan Breakfast: Plantains, Rice and Beans + Eggs

Nicaraguan breakfast plantains rice and beans eggs | almost getting it together

Also un-pictured was fresh fruit (watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple) and coffee.

I honestly hope I never see rice again after this week and it’s only the end of day 3, but I always forget how delicious plantains are. I ended up adding a little Wild Friends chocolate sunflower almond butter to the plantains for some healthy fats.

Nicaraguan Lunch: Huge Salad

Nicaraguan Lunch: Huge Salad | almost getting it together

These veggies and eggs all came from the farm.

This salad was a Godsend – I seriously always miss eating a ton of veggies when I’m traveling. The hardboiled eggs were so good because they were from the farm. Also look how crazy that avocado is. On the side I had a little rice with pesto sauce.

Nicaraguan Snacks: Pico de Gallo, Guacamole and Seviche


San Juan Del Sur Catamaran Snacks | almost getting it together

This seviche may have changed my life.

We took a super awesome catamaran tour that involved snacks – homemade pico de gallo, gauc and seviche. I literally will never have pico and seviche that delicious again in my life – mainly because that fish was probably swimming this morning. I would do bad things for that seviche recipe.

Also snacked on but unpictured have been a Quest bar, almonds, a Kind granola bar and a half (chocolate chip and maple pumpkin seed), a melted Kind bar and these Peter Rabbits Organics fruit and vegetable squeezes. Surfing seriously makes you hungry.

I also bought these protein bars from a local company, Grace and Honey. I have chocolate berry chia seed and they were AMAZING.

Nicaraguan dinner: Chicken Curry | almost getting it together

Curry in a hurry.

I seriously had been craving curry so this was amazing – lots of veggies and chicken. I of course also had some rice (ugh but whatever).

I’m linking up with Jen from Peas and Crayons for today’s post. Thanks for hosting!

Chat with me:
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week? What food are you so over right now?

Getting it Together Thursdays: Collect Moments, Not Things

What do you remember more – that amazing Spring Break trip you took with your girlfriends in college or the sweater you bought last week? If you’re anything like me, you don’t realize you own two-thirds of the things in your wardrobe, so it’s probably the trip.

I love to travel. I was bitten by the travel bug at an early age. I am very lucky and blessed that my family puts importance on spending time together doing things rather than buying things – while most people asked for a new MacBook for high school graduation, I schlepped my two-year old laptop to college and instead, asked for a trip to Europe. The laptop I eventually did have to purchase a week into school now lays forgotten and unused in my basement, but I still fondly remember visiting Versailles with my grandmother just about every day.

My friends often ask how I have money to travel so much – the simple answer is that I am really cautious about where my money goes: I pack my lunch everyday for work rather than buying it, I make my coffee instead of stopping at Starbucks for a latte every morning, I live at home (I know, this isn’t something to necessarily be proud of at 25, but I save so much money) and delete those sales e-mails. Think before you buy – do you really love it? If not, don’t buy it. That money could go to something more meaningful.

Maybe you don’t have the travel bug – you can still collect moments with your friends and family. Each birthday and holiday, I try to buy my friends and family something that requires us to spend time together. I bought my grandmother a spa package this Christmas, took Friend Emily (who seriously I have to have guest post about her Green Trekker) out to brunch and a mani/pedi for her birthday and bought tickets to a concert for Angela for all her hard work over the summer.

In college, I drove a beat-up Ford Taurus (because I was a terrible driver, it was purchased for me in perfect condition) and all I wanted was a new car. After a summer trip to Italy, my dad told me “I was going to buy you a new car this summer, but I decided the memories you would make in Italy would be worth more”. Think about that next time before you spend money – will you remember what you buy or will you remember that trip or event you are saving money for?

Chat with me:
Do you collect moments or things? (It’s okay to collect both :))

How to Roast the Perfect Kabocha Squash

Confession time: I had no idea what a kabocha squash was until I started reading HLB blogs. I probably had eaten one in a curry at some point and never realized it.

I forgot how much I loved winter squash until this past year. I’ve always been a fan of summer squash – but winter squash? They were shaped funny and how the hell are you supposed to cut one open? Then everywhere I looked there was a kabocha squash recipe – kabocha donuts, kabocha soup, kabocha pancakes, roasted kabocha. I couldn’t escape it so I had to find one to see what the buzz was about.

I finally found one little kabocha at Whole Foods in September. My first attempt at roasting it turned into me nearly slicing my hand off trying to cut it open – then drizzling it with agave and cinnamon. I started picking at it straight from the oven – and I was hooked.

Then, in true Pittsburgh form, kabocha was no where to be found. Angela and I even went to City Market in Columbus trying to find them from the farmers, but no luck. I even Googled “where to buy kabocha squash in Pittsburgh” – nothing.  If you know me, you know I don’t give up that easily.

Finally, after four or five different desperate Google searches, a Yelp review popped up of a Japanese market in Squirrel Hill. “Only place to find kabocha squash, or Japanese squash” some helpful Yelp-er told me. That person is a saint. If I knew where they lived, I would send them an Edible Arrangement*.

I didn’t go to this particular market right away. I was afraid of being disappointed. One day, my friend Jamie followed me to the mall, and I noticed an “Oriental Market” in the North Hills. I immediately turned and was the only white girl in there. No one knew what I was doing. I did, though. I headed straight to the produce section, and low and behold, sweet, sweet kabochas, I snagged two huges ones and gifted one to Angela since she had never experienced the delight it had to offer.

Then a few months passed (okay, maybe a month) and I didn’t head back out that way. I suddenly decided to stop by the Japanese market in the aforementioned Yelp review. They had one little kabocha. I asked the shopkeeper if he had more. “How many do you want?” I told him all that he had. He brought me out a box of four kabocha squashes.

how to roast kabocha squash pittsburgh | almost getting it together

Squash of my labor.

If there’s a run on kabocha squashes in Pittsburgh – I know why and I know who reads my blog in Pittsburgh and I’m going to be really pissed if I can’t find one. (Okay, I’ll help you out – the Korean market in Shadyside by the Laundromat also has them.)

Moral of the story: if you can’t find kabocha squash, head to an Asian grocer. They always come through.

How to Roast the Perfect Kabocha Squash

how to roast kabocha squash pittsburgh | almost getting it together

Roast kabocha squash.

What you’ll need:
Kabocha squash
Coconut oil, either melted or spray (don’t get on me, I don’t care, it’s from TJ’s and the only ingredient is coconut oil so I’m assuming it’s more or less totally natural)

What to do:
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Wash squash thoroughly because you can, and should, eat the skin.

Put squash in microwave on high for 3 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with coconut oil.
Cut squash in half and scoop out the strings and seeds.
Once squash is cleaned out, cut in strips or wedges (I prefer strips).

Line on baking sheet and spray lightly with coconut oil.
Sprinkle cinnamon on squash.

Bake for 40 minutes, turning halfway through. Don’t be lazy – it seriously makes a difference. Kabocha squash is the one place I don’t get lazy.

how to roast kabocha squash pittsburgh | almost getting it together

The stuff dreams are made of.

Chat with me:
What food do you love but you can’t find? Do you love kabocha squash? Has anyone ever sent you an Edible Arrangement? (I’ve never gotten one, if anyone would like to send me one please contact me for my info.)

*Edible Arrangements did not sponsor this post, but if they are reading this and would like to send me an Edible Arrangement to review, feel free.

Getting it Together on the Road – Preparing for Travel to a Third World Country

While you’re reading this, I’m probably getting my butt kicked by some waves in Nicaragua. The WiFi situation is not good (i.e., third world country Internet) so sorry for my laziness/lack of photos. Also now you know why I’m not commenting on your blog. I’ll be back soon, I promise!

Can I even say Third World country? Is that politically correct? I think it’s developing nation but whatever, I majored in fashion, not poly sci. This post isn’t about how to act in a Third World country – act like a normal, respectable human being and be compassionate, duh – but rather, how to prepare so you can have an awesome, stress free trip and maximize your time doing cool things, not dying of food poisoning or getting Tom Hanks-ed at the terminal when you don’t have a visa.

I recently joked to my father while packing for Nicaragua that I couldn’t remember at what point in my life that I traveled somewhere so unprepared that it caused me such post traumatic stress disorder that I grossly over-pack every time I leave the house, let alone the country.

In college, I studied abroad in Hong Kong for 6 months, which is clearly not a third world country – it’s much cleaner and more advanced technologically than the US in many places. I literally had no idea what to expect especially since I didn’t even know where it was on the map (nerd alert: coming from a girl who competed at the State Geography Bee numerous times). So what did I do? I thought about every country in Southeast Asia I would potentially visit while there and prepared accordingly.

  • Check what vaccines you need.
mekong river delta |almost getting it together

Me five years ago in the Mekong River Delta, not dying of malaria because I was prepared.

If bugs are bad where you are going (so, basically everywhere in Central/South America, Africa, or Asia), and you can get anti-malarial pills, do it. Something in them definitely helps keep bugs away. Also use a bug repellent with 40% DEET. I don’t care about the chemicals, I care about scratching myself to death in my sleep and how I look with shorts on.

Make sure you get booster shots. One polio shot in the US as a child is good, but in places where it hasn’t been eradicated, it’s probably a good idea to get it. Same with hepatitis A – you can get it from contaminated food/water, and last I checked, kidney transplants aren’t fun.

If you’re going to South America or Africa, you’ll need a yellow fever shot. You can also get a typhoid shot for Central/South America and Africa. Five years ago I was able to take pills for typhoid, but allegedly according to my doctor now it’s shot-only.

  • Find out if you need a visa.

This should be self-explanatory – see if you need a visa in any of the countries you are traveling in. If you’re a US citizen, it’s more likely you’ll need one than your foreign pals. Take visa photos (you can get them taken at any pharmacy) for any country where you get a visa upon-arrival.

Always make sure you have at least 1-2 completely blank pages in your passport as well as at least 6 months’ validation left. If you’re traveling and about to run out, you can stop by the American Embassy (you usually have to make an appointment) and get more pages added.

  • Pack snacks.

I know, I live in fear of being hungry. I pack snacks for the drive to work basically at this point in my life. You never know what the food options are going to be where you’re going – I kind of remember one Sunday in Italy where everything was closed, including the grocery store, and I was literally about to eat my arm I was so hungry. I only kind of remember because we finally found an open bar and a bottle of wine on an empty stomach with our new 80 year old friend Rocco really did me in.

I’m also a complete psychopath and pack oatmeal, nut butter packets, Kind bars, chia seeds and protein powder with me whenever I go anywhere. Then I know I at least have some nutrients in the form of fiber, protein and healthy fats. My family actually packed a suitcase full of American food for me every time they came to Hong Kong (then took back a suitcase full of crap I was over).

  • Get currency before you leave.

Third world countries are great at ripping you off with fees and awful exchange rates. Some countries I’ve visited, like Cambodia, take American money – but it has to be in PRISTINE condition because counterfeiting is rampant. If you give your bank enough notice, they can order any currency for you for free – you just pay the exchange rate.

Also – tell your bank you’re leaving or they’ll cut off your card.

  • Don’t flaunt your wealth.

Leave the good jewelry at home. I don’t care if you feel naked without your [insert jewelry here]. So do I, but I’d rather feel naked for a week or two rather than never see it again. There’s pickpockets everywhere, even in Pittsburgh, I’m sure, but you don’t want someone to cut off your wrist for your diamond tennis bracelet. Also it just makes you feel guilty. This tip is also especially good for Europe, especially Southern Europe. A gypsy once stole my grandmother’s wallet when we were in Barcelona (still hasn’t turned me off from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding).

Chat with me:
Have you ever traveled to a Third World country? How did you prepare? Would you ever want to visit one?