Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Everetts Go to Europe, Part 4 {Stratford & Scotland}

This is the last and final post about our trip!  Click here to see part 1, part 2, and part 3.  On Thursday Jonathan and I went to Stratford-Upon-Avon by ourselves, while Aimee stayed at home to get some work done. Stratford ended up being one of our favorite places to meander around, and I'm sure it was helped by the fact that I had the best sandwich of my life...crusty baguette stuffed with roasted chicken, soft brie cheese, and cranberry sauce..I'm still looking for a way to recreate it at home.  At the beginning of our time there we took a wrong turn and ended up far away from all the touristy things and more in the heart of Stratford itself. We stumbled upon this old cemetery and I loved it, there is something so sacred about graveyards.

At the side of the cemetery were about 90 graves from airmen during WWII who died in a battle around Stratford.  A majority of the airmen were Canadian so Canada sent Maple trees to the cemetery and they are now planted there in a ring of remembrance. I'm so glad we stumbled upon this little out of the way graveyard, if for this sight alone.
Shakespeare's grave and stained glass windows inside Holy Trinity Church where we took refuge from a rain shower, and listened to the local prayer service.
A Bible from the 1600s.

We spent much of our time strolling along the river Avon, and found this back entrance into the grounds of Holy Trinity Church.  It reminded me of the door in the wall that Eustace & Jill went through to get into Narnia :)

Holy Trinity Church
Shakespeare's daughter's house

Monday-Tuesday Jonathan and I took a 4 hour train ride through English and Scottish countryside to spend some time in Edinburgh, Scotland before we flew home to the states on Wednesday.  Of course I woke up with a cold on Monday morning and felt just awful by the time we arrived in Edinburgh.  We stopped for lunch at the Elephant House Cafe ,where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book, and I felt so bad that I didn't even take any pictures while we were there!  Jonathan took me back to our hotel where I promptly cried over the fact that I was sick while we were in Scotland. He wisely let me nap for a little while and then I was determined that we not waste our time so we set off to hike Arthur's Seat, which overlooks the city of Edinburgh.  At this point not only was I sick with a cold, but I was a little homesick as well. So we called it a night, picked up Subway on the way back to our hotel, then sat on the floor watching Mission Impossible while we ate before hitting the bed early.  Nothing like a little taste of home, even if it is Subway and cheesy Tom Cruise movies :)

On Tuesday morning we set out to explore and I sniffled and sneezed my way through the rest of Edinburgh :)
Us on top of Calton Hill, and the Observatory and National Monument(also known as Edinburgh's Disgrace because they didn't have enough money to finish it during the 1800s) pictured below

The above picture is one of my favorites from our time in Scotland, we were walking down Calton Hill and back into the city of Edinburgh.

Inside the grounds of Edinburgh Castle!

We spent a few hours touring the castle, browsed the shops up and down the Royal Mile, and ended with dinner in Princes Street Gardens before catching the train back home.  Where we spent a late night packing everything up before we left for the States in the morning!  We had a wonderful time traveling all over England and getting to experience Aimee's life, but when it's all said and done I am more than content to be back home in little ol' southwest VA :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Review: "Love & Cupcakes" and a Kindle Giveaway!!

 I received this book for free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review of the book. All opinions are my own.
About the Book:
Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie's bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat's best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself---her---is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat's senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

My Review:
Betsy St. Amant's new book, "All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes" is as light and fluffy as Kat's Raspberry Lemonade cupcakes.  This is a simple read that I was able to whip through in about a day.  If you're looking for a sweet little love story then this book fits the recipe.  Personally I found the book a little vanilla, with about as much creativity as a pre-packaged cupcake.  While the characters are likeable enough, it was the same-old story of best friends who fall in love and are too afraid to tell one another for fear it will mess everything up.  So instead, we spend the whole book listening to their insecurities as they over-analyze every word, look, and gesture from the other.  I just wanted to shake Lucas and tell him to man-up already and tell her how you feel!  It ends exactly how you would expect, with everything wrapped up as nice and neat as a white bakery box.
I tend to be pretty hard on books and it takes a lot to impress me so be sure to check out other reviews, here, from bloggers who loved the book!

Don't miss Betsy St. Amant's latest fiction release, All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes. A "sweet" tale of two best friends and the choices they make between dreams and a possible "sure thing," St. Amant's novel is sure to satisfy your romantic-fiction craving.
Betsy is celebrating with a fun Kindle giveaway and a Love & Cupcakes Facebook party! One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle
  • All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 18th. Winner will be announced at the "Love & Cupcakes" Author Chat Party on 9/18. Betsy will be hosting a "sweet" book chat, giving away prizes, and answering questions from readers. She will also share an exclusive sneak peek at her next book project!

So grab your copy of All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes and join Betsy on the evening of September 18th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Everetts Go to Europe, Part 3 {London's Calling!}

 Warning: Picture overload in this post!! I'm not sorry :)

We trained into London on Wednesday and Friday. It was cheaper to train in on 2 separate days than get a hotel for one night so that's what we did! Once we figured out the Underground system we had a blast running around London and sight-seeing, I think we managed to do just about everything on our list. And after 2 different attempts at 2 different museums we realized that we are simply not museum people....as Aimee said "you can see most of this stuff in America...or on Google." So enjoy our pics of all the things you can't find in America :)

 Jonathan won major points for agreeing to take this picture with me in the middle of King's Cross station. Ravenclaw and Gryffindor all the way! #booknerd1

 We visited Portobello Markets, which is a whole street of different shops, with a flea market feel to it

Sherlock Holmes museum at 221B Baker Street #booknerd2

 Supreme Court building

  This is one of my favorite pics from our time in London...the Elizabeth tower, Big Ben, London Eye, and double decker buses...doesn't get much more British than this!
 Westminster Abbey


 Me & Aimee Jane on the Millenium Bridge...you know, the one that the death eaters attacked in Harry Potter :) #booknerd3
 Shakespeare's Globe Theater
 They have these book benches scattered all over London!
 Enjoying some fresh donuts from a vendor while people watching by the Thames

 Buckingham Palace
 I had to include this picture because it cracks me up...that lady was so oblivious!

Next up: Stratford-Upon-Avon
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