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Lovely Lavender Loaf with Lemon Glaze

If you love lavender as much as I do, this loaf cake is a dream come true. Lavender is my absolute favorite smell and surprisingly, this was my first time cooking with it! Essential lavender oil is known to be a relaxer and stress-reliever. Enjoying a piece of this loaf last night definitely helped me with both of those things!

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The loaf came out fluffy and moist and full of a delicious and delicately balanced flavor combination. It is perfect for any season and I will be sure to bake it again in the very near future. My mother said this was the best loaf cake she’s ever eaten and the rest of my family enjoyed it as well. By the time I woke up this morning (7 a.m.) there were only crumbs left in the pan…

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Classy Cookbook Logo

Lovely Lavender Loaf with Lemon Glaze

Prep Time: 15 Minutes    *    Cook Time: 45 Minutes    *    Total Time: 1 Hour

Let’s Get Started:

For The Loaf:

1 cup sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 ½ T lavender syrup
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk

For The Glaze:

¼ cup powdered sugar
5t fresh squeezed lemon juice

Let’s Get Cookin’:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. (You don’t really need a mixer for this recipe as long as you don’t mind putting your arm muscles to work!)

Add in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the lavender syrup.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

Alternate adding the milk and the flour mixture into the creamed mixture until fully incorporated.

Pour into a greased 4 x 8 loaf pan. Bake 45-50 minutes.

Stir together the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle on the warm loaf and let soak into a top coating.

Let’s Get Creative:

For this recipe, I believe that keeping it simple is best. The way the lavender mixes with the lemon glaze is so gentle and inviting that I would not recommend adding additional ingredients or flavors that could potentially ruin the magic of the loaf.

The next time I make this loaf, however, I will definitely be adding some real fresh lavender for garnish and perhaps a few pieces to bake within the loaf.

Stay Classy & ENJOY! xx

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Green Goddess Smoothie

Woohoo! You know it’s a good day when you’ve added a new section to your site. I am so excited to share my favorite homemade smoothie (and cocktail) recipes with you guys in the BRAND NEW Drinks section under The Classy Cook! The recipe below is a simple yet delicious smoothie staple that you’ll find yourself going back to again and again.

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Please note that many times my smoothies will include different protein powders in them – this is because I usually drink a smoothie or protein shake after working out because it helps with muscle recovery and hunger cravings. Adding protein to your smoothie or breakfast shake is a great addition to your breakfast or snack, but by no means is it essential! The smoothie below will taste just as yummy without the protein powder, no worries!

Classy Cookbook LogoGreen Goddess Smoothie

Prep Time: 4 Minutes   *   Cook Time: 1 Minute   *   Total Time: 5 Minutes

Let’s Get Started:

1 banana, frozen
1 cup of kale
1 kiwi
¼ cup organic coconut water
¼ cup non-fat plain yogurt
2 scoops of Greek Girl Beauty Protein
Shaved ice

Let’s Get Cookin’:

Blend banana, kale, kiwi, ¼ cup organic coconut water and yogurt. Pour over a small amount of shaved ice and enjoy!

Let’s Get Creative:

This smoothie is all about the green goodness! I didn’t have an avocado on-hand but it would be an awesome addition and will make the consistency more creamy.

Enjoy & Stay Classy! xx

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Brighten Your Monday With Good Earth Beauty + GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday! I’m hoping to help you kick off the week in an exciting way by hosting a giveaway for Good Earth Beauty Rose and Green Tea Face Moisturizer and Strawberry Apple and Banana Brightening Mask.

To enter the giveaway:

  1. You must be a U.S. resident!
  2. Make sure you are following this blog via WordPress or E-mail
  3. Comment on this post and share your favorite “Monday Motivation” quote!

One of mine is, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do,” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

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I’ve tried out the products myself and found them to work incredibly well. Most facial masks that I’ve tried in the past have been too sticky or annoying to put on and leave me feeling gross afterward instead of clean and bright. The Strawberry Apple and Banana Brightening Mask did none of those things, and instead did exactly what it was supposed to do.

It is made from French Clay, Kaolin Clay, Organic Dried Strawberry Powder, Organic Dried Apple Powder, Organic Dried Banana Powder and Vitamin C. Each ingredient serves its own purpose and the overall mask smells amazing. It comes in powder form and you just add a tablespoon of water to a tablespoon of powder to create the thin mask. I left it on for 10 minutes and removed gently with water and a towel and my skin felt so amazing – exfoliated, lifted and actually glowy. This is definitely a product that I am going to be implementing into my nightly beauty routine!

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After washing off the mask I used the Rose and Green Tea Moisturizer, which felt so light and kept my face hydrated for the rest of the night. It does not have a strong smell and is also made from just a few all-natural, organic, vegan and cruelty-free ingredients.

I hope you guys love these products as much as I do! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway using the above instructions! I’ll be selecting the winner by Friday end of day. xx

Stay Classy! xx

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Refreshing & Bright: Homemade Coconut Water Ice Pops With Fresh Fruit

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Happy FriYAY! Is it just me or have the past few weeks been crazy hot?! I’ve been craving something cold and refreshing every single day and knew I needed to create a healthy option that fit the above criteria… Which is why I am so excited to share this super easy (and healthy) recipe with you guys!

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For something that comes out looking so beautiful and delicious, these ice pops really take no time at all to make – just patience to wait a day for them to freeze properly. I used the fruits I had in my house and next time I’ll definitely be adding more. More fruit = more flavor, more color and more nutrients! If you’re looking for a simple summer treat that is refreshing, hydrating and totally natural you’re going to want to try the recipe below! xx

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Let’s Get Started:

1 cup organic coconut water (I used the one from Trader Joe’s below and loved it)
1 peach, peeled and sliced
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
2 strawberries, sliced
Fresh watermelon, cubed and sliced

Ice pop mold

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Let’s Get Cookin’:

Place fruit into the molds – use a toothpick to arrange the fruits the way you want them to look. Pour in coconut water and place the cover or Popsicle stick into the mixture. Freeze overnight.

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Let’s Get Creative:

Increasing the amount of various fruits in your pops will also increase their colors! I used what I had on hand, but virtually any fruit should work with these ice pops.

Stay Classy & Cool! xx

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Two Keys To A Successful Workout (Learned The Hard Way)

It has reached the point where every time I’m doing mountain climbers less than classy words slip out of my mouth and onto my old, overused yoga mat. It’s time for a new one, I know. This mat has been through a lot and it’s time to part ways. I’ve been reluctantly hunting for a new one – if anyone has brand suggestions I’d gladly look into them – but part of me is too attached and willing to forsake blisters for the comfort of my old mat.

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I’ve been able to solve the problem short-term by using my new super-comfy sport socks from No Nonsense while doing yoga and BBG on my mat. The socks have not only been a lifesaver at saving my poor feet from the harshness of my old mat but they’ve also helped me keep from slipping while exercising. I wore them the other day playing my first 18-hole round of golf– in 95*F Maryland heat mind you – and I can say that the only part of my body that wasn’t sore afterwards were my feet! The socks are cute, soft, cushioned and sweat-resistant – basically, they feel good, they look good and if you workout a lot you should definitely check them out! Comfort in your active wear is definitely of #1 importance in order to have a productive – and painless – workout!

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— Update: Since writing the original draft of this post, I finally purchased another mat. It’s purple, from Gaiam and looked way to comfortable to pass up. (This should be key 1.5 – replace workout equipment as needed… don’t go through unnecessarily painful workouts for no reason due to old equipment!) I’m sure you’ll see it in some future posts! My old mat (above) has been demoted to my outdoor mat and I’ve actually really loved working out under the sky and trees in my backyard this past week! —

Anyway! As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’ve been inundated with a heat wave for the past week and a half. There are some mornings where I wake up and find myself unable to scrounge up the energy to work out and then realize that I’m just too dehydrated. This brings me to my second key to a successful workout – and it’s nothing new! Staying hydrated 24/7 is so important. It impacts everything from your energy levels to your metabolism to your body’s oxygen intake to your mood… I’ve since made a point of keeping a water bottle with me on times! When my reusable water bottle is in the dish washer, I’ll alternate between the new SmartWater Sparkling – which is great for digestion – and Alkaline 8.8 Water.

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The latter is something that I’ve only recently heard of and tried out, but it is one of those trends that works SO well that I quickly became obsessed with it. Not only did it make me super hydrated but it also gave me a clean feeling in my gut – the only thing I can compare it to is the way I feel after a successful meditation, except the Alkaline PH actually negates the acidity in your body, whereas meditation negates the acid negativity in your mind! It gave me a heightened sense of clarity about what was in the food I was putting into my body and made me more conscious about staying hydrated. A combination of this, the comfiest workout socks ever (seriously, good socks really do make a difference in your workout) and my new mat have created some pretty fire workouts this past week!

Stay Classy & Healthy! xx

P.S. Shout out to everyone who has been e-mailing me wellness and lifestyle topics that they want me to cover in the next week! I appreciate the comments and will be sure to post ASAP:)

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Guilt-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s sometimes the simplest cravings that come up out of nowhere and won’t go away until you’ve satisfied them! The fun part is tricking those cravings into accepting the healthier version of what they’re really looking for. These Guilt-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies replace unhealthy ingredients with their better counterparts and still taste just as delicious!

 

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Let’s Get Started:

1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup room temperature organic virgin coconut oil (I love the one from Trader Joe’s!)
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Let’s Get Cookin’:

Preheat the oven to 375*F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the coconut oil, applesauce, brown sugar and granulated sugar until fully combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla on low speed. Gradually beat flour into the mixture.

Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

Drop rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes before eating.

Let’s Get Creative:

  • I didn’t have whole wheat flour handy, but you could totally swap it for regular flour for an even healthier recipe.
  • If you’re not into adding all of the sugar this recipe calls for, swap in half a banana instead of the granulated sugar called for above.
  • Swap chocolate chips for a chopped bar of dark chocolate with 65% cacao or higher
  • Desiccated coconut and chopped would be delicious in these as well.

Enjoy & Stay Classy! xx

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The Five Healthy Beach Treats You Need To Try Before The End of Summer

It’s so unfortunate that there are so many companies out there trying to sell snacks that are “healthy” and “good for you” through deceiving advertisements and marketing ploys. Always make sure to check the ingredient list at the back of the package – the fewer the ingredients, the better the snack is for you! – before trusting the blurbs on the front packaging. I’ve rounded up 5 of my favorite HEALTHY beach treats and post-workout snacks for this summer. They’re super yummy, CCG-certified good for you, and offer a whole lot of perks for REAL.

  1. Coco-Roons

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Guys, if you’ve never tasted a Coco-Roon, you really don’t know what you’re missing out on. These bite-size snacks are rolled raw and made with less ingredients than you can count on two hands. They’re Organic, Gluten Free, Vegan and Paleo and taste AMAZING. You can eat 3 Coco-Roons for under 100 calories and they’re surprisingly filling for their size. I tried the Mini Brownie and Mini Lemon Pie and the latter is definitely my favorite. You can buy them in over 3,000 locations worldwide and online at their website and they retail for $2.99/ 2 oz. bag or $7.99/ 6.2 oz. bag.

  1.   Royal Hawaiian Fruit Macadamia Crunches

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These yummy clusters were made to be brought to the beach. The ingredients are sustainably sourced from the Hawaiian islands and come in irresistible flavors such as Mango Pineapple, Kona Coffee Banana and Mauka Blueberry Pomegranate. They include NO artificial ingredients, are Non-GMO, Kosher, Gluten-Free and Wheat-Free. They’re rich in antioxidants, minerals, protein and fiber… and they’re also so yummy! You can buy them on the Royal Hawaiian Orchards website, and they retail for $26.95 for Six 4 oz. bags.

  1.    True North

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Keeping with the clusters trend, True North has got you covered in the nut category this summer. These little treats come with a lot of good-for-you perks. They have NO Trans Fat or Cholesterol, are Non-GMO, Non-Dairy and have NO artificial colors or preservatives. They are made with fewer than 10 ingredients and you can eat 5 for just over 100 calories. They’re super filling and delicious and come in a variety of flavors – I’m a bit partial to the Almond Pecan Crunch! You can buy them at grocery stores throughout the US including: BJ’s, CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Wegmans, Shop Rite and Safeway OR online here and they retail at $4.49 per bag.

  1.     Go Macro

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These bars have truly become my go-to. I always keep at least one in my purse, beach bag and backpack because I know they will satisfy my hunger and protein cravings, especially on days when I’ve worked out! They are made with only FOUR ingredients – meaning they’re super super natural and good for you – and have NO Trans Fat or Cholesterol, are Gluten Free, Vegan, Non-GMO, Sustainably Sourced, Macrobiotic and Soy-Free. When it comes to filling you up with healthy goodness, these bars are totally the winner. One bar is about 240 calories – but they’re the good kind of calories. They come in endless delicious flavors I can hardly tell you my favorite. You can find them on the GoMacro website and they retail for $2.89 for a single bar or $34.68 for a tray of 12.

5.      Pistachio Chewy Bites

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These delicious little bite-sized snacks are the perfect grab-and-go option for curbing hunger before meal time. They are full of nutrients and consist of just a few ingredients – but NO additives or preservatives! They’re also Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free, have NO Cholesterol or Trans-Fat, are GMO-Free and 100% Vegan… Basically, these little yummy treats are good for you and will make a great addition to your beach bag! You can purchase them at Wegmans, Shop Rite, Stop & Shop and Amazon.com, as well as their website and they retail for $1.99/2 Pack or $5.99/6 Pack or $12.50/16 Pack.

Stay Classy! xx

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Romagna Ready 2 Go – A Restaurant Review

Romagna Ready 2 Go – 182 Bleeker Street New York, NY 10012

When you hear that a secret Florentine garden recently opened as part of an authentic Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village, your first question should probably be how soon can I get there…

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After visiting the Italian region of Tuscany just a few weeks prior – yes, as soon as we get through the Budapest series Italy posts will be on their way! – I never thought I could taste Bolognese sauce and homemade pasta the same way again. The flavors of the food in the birthplace of tortellini and Bolognese sauce were so fresh and beautifully seasoned that I had since been wary of tasting Americanized Italian food.

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Fortunately, Romagna Ready 2 Go is located in the Village and owned and run by Italian chef Lorenzo Lorenzi – and he imports all of his meat and ingredients from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy where he was born, just a short train ride away from Bologna and Florence.

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I arrived at the restaurant with my wonderful plus one close to 6:30, to find it virtually empty of patrons. The restaurant/bar across the street had a line out the door made up of NYU students, who were somehow oblivious to the delicious menu awaiting them on the other side of the street. We were seated in the brand-new outdoor garden that Lorenzi put together himself. The idea of it is lovely, and it certainly does add a rustic feel to the atmosphere with tables made from old doors and the walls and trellis full of potted plants and flowers.

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What I found unfortunate was the abundance of fake plants and flowers and even an unnecessary wall half-covered in plastic turf. This is something that would rarely be found in authentic restaurants in Italy, and when it is present, only in those which are geared towards tourists. The décor shows that Romagna Ready 2 Go is still trying to figure out its customer base – with a stage for live music, BOGO wine nights and beer pong tournaments on the weekends despite a classy imported menu with ingredients shipped from the homeland – yet once it chooses who to cater to, it will be the go-to spot with a line out the door, without a doubt.

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That being said, the menu is simply divine and the prices are more than reasonable, especially considering the restaurant’s location and the fact that most ingredients are imported from Italy. I spoke with Lorenzi who said he was inspired by his upbringing in the Emilio-Romagna region of Italy. His extensive Piadina menu is a direct result of this, featuring 22 different sandwiches. I tried the Genoa, the flatbread with Pesto, Bufala Mozzarella and Prosciutto Crudo and the flavors immediately took me back to Tuscany. There is no doubt that the ingredients are fresh, the Prosciutto Crudo imported and the Bufala Mozzarella homemade in Lorenzi’s kitchen. Romagna Ready 2 Go puts as much meticulous effort and importance in the way their food is created as the best restaurants in Italy do.

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Next, we were served a cheese plate and a meat plate with glasses of Lambrusco wine, also typical of the region and incredibly balanced flavor. The cheese plate consisted of Burrata, Truffle Mozzarella and Chamomile-Infused Pecorino. Each cheese was delicious, fresh and served a top arugula and olives. My particular favorite was the Chamomile-Infused Pecorino, which had a hinted aftertaste of chamomile and was stand-out special. The meat plate was Prosciutto, Bresola and Porchetta. I had tried my first Porchetta a few weeks prior in Tivoli, Italy and had realized what I had been missing out on. The Porchetta on the meat plate was just as delicious, with a poignant and rich flavor of juicy pork.

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It is questionable how there was still room in our stomachs, but it was not long before the main courses came out. We tried the Seafood Gnocchi and Lasagna della Nonna. The gnocchi was handmade in the Romagna Ready 2 Go kitchen and you could taste the difference. It blended nicely with the creamy seafood sauce, featuring shrimps and scallops sent over from the Italian Emilio-Romagna coast. It was a heavy dish but the flavor was wonderful.

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The Lasagna della Nonna was one of the best lasagnas I have ever had. It was made with homemade and very finely sliced layers of square sheet pasta and the sauce included beef, pork and veal – most sauces only include the first two. The added veal and delicate pasta created the perfect tilted tower of lasagna topped with fresh grated cheese. The flavors melted together in my mouth, the way only authentic Italian cooking can encourage, and I began to ponder how the Village needs to discover this gem of a dish.

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The dessert menu was extensive as well. After some thought, I decided on the “Chocolate Salami” something I had never heard of, but Lorenzi had described the process of how it was made and it sounded right up my alley. It was made with a medley of chocolates and cookies, frozen and then sliced. It came served with strawberries and was absolutely worth it. The dessert really did look like salami, and the mixed colors could be allotted to the cookies in the ingredients. Washing it down with a cappuccino was the perfect way to end the meal.

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If you are in the NYC area, Romagna Ready 2 Go is certainly a must-try.

Stay Classy! xx

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Red White and Blueberry Pound Cake

I’ve always been drawn to getting cutesy and creative when it comes to baking for holidays – as you’ve seen with my Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Nest Cookies this past April. With the 4th of July holiday weekend finally here, I wanted to make something patriotic and different from the mainstream red white and blue sprinkle cookies and brownies. I’d baked banana bread the week prior and was reminded that desserts existed outside of what could be put on a pan in the oven (my flat in London was pretty restricting with its lack of kitchen utensils). I decided that by mixing blueberries and cherries into a pound cake I would be able to cut down on the artificial sweetness and instead enhance the patriotic colors and natural sweetness of the fruit. When you slice the cake open, you see that the red and blue colors have swirled together in the oven, just like the fireworks on the 4th of July.

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Let’s Get Started: (Makes 10+ servings)

½ cup butter
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh cherries
1 cup milk

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Let’s Get Cookin’:

Let butter and eggs stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. In a large bowl whisk flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until combined. Beat in eggs.

Stir blueberries and cherries into flour mixture by hand. Stir blueberry and cherry mixture into butter mixture, by hand. Slowly, stir in milk.

Bake in a greased 10-inch tube pan in a 325*F oven for 60-75 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

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Let’s Get Creative:

 Of course, any fresh fruit would go great in this recipe. Feel free to substitute fruit types! Just keep in mind that fruit will make the pound cake moist, and depending on the fruit you may need to reduce the amount of milk in the recipe.

If you’re into icing, I think a simple lemon icing would go great on top of this cake. I’ll be serving the cake this weekend warm, with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream – it doesn’t get more American than this! Xx

Stay Classy & Happy 4th of July! xx

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Prague, Czech Republic Day #2

It had never occurred to me that zoos in different parts of the world would hold varying animals. In the United States I had been to zoos in New York and Washington D.C. and the animals they housed did not differ too much. Only when I walked into the Prague Zoo did I realize how eclectic the animal collections were in zoos throughout the world – as well as how different the set up was too!

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The Prague Zoo is one of the top 10 zoos in the world. At this point in my study abroad experience, I knew there would only be a few more museums that I could muster the desire to go into. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely a museum person, but going to multiple exhibits every week can definitely be exhausting and draining – especially when there are so many cool things to explore outdoors!

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I was especially ecstatic to go to the Prague Zoo because it was home to a baby elephant who had just been born a few weeks prior and anyone who knows me knows how much I adore these trumpeting creatures.

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The weather managed to clear up by the time we reached the zoo, on the outskirts of the main city where we were staying, and we walked around looking for the elephants and giraffes. The elephant family was kept inside for some unknown reason, while another elephant roamed the grounds on its own. The baby elephant was so adorable, picking up sticks with its trunk and trying to talk to its parents. It was such perfect timing that we had been able to go see it as an infant.

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Later in the day I tried my first “goulash,” a traditional Czech dish full of meat and potatoes. It was absolutely delicious, but super heavy, especially when combined with another mug of beer. It was certainly a carb overload but it was worth it. Dinner was followed by a trdelnik – a typical Czech dessert food made from a cinnamon sugar-coated freshly made donut filled with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. So delicious!

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Later that night, with the possibility of missing our 7 a.m. bus to Budapest the next morning, Ben and I decided to make our last night in Prague a relaxed one and explored the bars in the Jewish Quarter of the city.

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It wasn’t long before we stumbled across “Anonymous Bar,” a venue inspired by the “Anonymous” organization and the book V for Vendetta. The vibe of the bar was especially cool because of the quirky antique furniture as well as the dark musty lighting, accented with portraits of the “Anonymous” mask in frames on the walls throughout the room.

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It reminded me of a 1920’s Gatsby party full of intellectuals and interesting characters drinking creatively mixed, lit on fire and plated cocktails. It was a really cool way to end our way-too-short few days in Prague.

Stay Classy! xx