The Weekend [Thanksgiving Edition]

The Norris Family- Thanksgiving 2015
Well the first holiday of the holiday season has come and gone.  And I have to say, after 5 days off it’s gonna be really hard to go back to work.  Bright side?  We only have 3 weeks of school and then we’re out for Christmas break!  So yeah, I think I can handle that!
Alrighty so on to my Thanksgiving! It was good.  Really good.  It was weird because this was the first Thanksgiving that we weren’t surrounded by a ton of family.  It was just my mom, dad, brother and myself this year.  I thought it was going to be awful but it was surprisingly nice.  Laid back and easy and nice. 
Here were the highlights:
– A lovely 10 hour drive with my two fur babies.
-Football, football, and more football on while we got all the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner ready. (Ok lets be real my fabulous Mother made literally everything and it was delicious).
-Pie making!  The one thing I did contribute was the making of the Pecan Pie.  I made the pies last year and did such a good job on the pecan pie (easiest recipe ever, all you do is follow the exact recipe on the back of the Karo bottle).
– Using my fancy camera and the fireplace mantel to snap some family pictures (the family one at the beginning of the post and these as well.)

(My dad HATES taking pictures.  It’s a miracle we got him to pose for that top one!)
-Did the tiniest bit of Black Friday shopping.  I’m not usually one who likes to brave the crowds on Black Friday.  The crowds are just not worth it to me.  But mom asked me to come and by a new washing machine with her and then we shopped around a bit after that.  
-Lots of reading was done.  I finished up a whole book and it has become one of my all time favorites, it’s called The Storyteller and is by Jodi Picoult.  Stay tuned for a review on it later this week!
– Ate lots of leftovers!
– Went to the movies with my mom and brother.  We saw The Night Before.  It was funny and surprisingly sentimental!  There moments that required several eye rolls but for the most part it was very funny! 

-More shopping. I bought myself an extra special Christmas present that I cannot wait to show off!  I’m gonna keep it a secret for now but I cannot WAIT to show it off next week.  Yeah…I have to wait till next week, because that’s when it’ll come in the mail.  But don’t worry.  It’s a good one. 🙂
– Got to spend time with my best friend Ashley and her family.  I got to see my sweet niece Lacey who is 8 months old now!!  Where is time going!  Last time I saw her she was only 2 months and boy has she changed!  lol  I can’t wait to see her again at Christmas!
-More football and more leftovers. 
-Got to break out all my winter clothing.  It was freezing in El Paso.  Lets hope Houston gets the message!
– Another 10 hour drive back to H-town with the fur babies.  Thank goodness they travel well! 
Well there ya have it.  A pretty fabulous 5 day holiday weekend!  Now to make it through the next 3 weeks!  Which I know will just FLY BY!! 🙂  At least I hope it will……
I hope each and everyone of you had a fantastic Thanksgiving! 
Linking up with Biana!

What’s Ha-"Pinning" [Vol. 6- My Christmas List]

One of my favorite things as a child was making Christmas lists.  Who am I kidding, I think one of EVERYONE’S favorite things growing up was making Christmas lists.  I remember my brother and I used get the ads that came in the Sunday paper and take turns circling the things we wanted.  And I have to admit my parents were pretty amazing and we got just about everything on said lists.
As I’ve gotten older though, the lists have disappeared.  Until now.  I figured coming up with a list of things that I wouldn’t mind getting for Christmas would be helpful to those who would like to get me something and have no idea.  
I have to admit,  coming up with a list was kinda difficult.  Because I don’t really need any of this stuff.  It’s just a list of things that I wouldn’t mind having in my closet/wearing everyday.

[one] Hunter boots.   These are all over the blog world but to be honest, I need them!  I don’t know if you know this but it rains fairly often in Houston.  And when it does rain it RAINS.  Just the other day I was wearing my beloved Tori Burch flats and they were drenched by the end of the day.  And I just kept thinking…if I had rainboots (HUNTER RAIN) boots this rainy day would be so much better.  I would prefer the typical solid black pair.  I’ve found them here and here.

[two] A Columbia Fleece jacket.   I need something that can be thrown over just about anything on a cold/chilly day.  I’ve had my eye on the Columbia jacket for a year and just haven’t bought it.  So I decided to add it to my list!  I think I’d like either a dark grey or black!

[three] Kendra Scott earrings in grey. These too have been on my list for a while.  I finally got my hands on the Kendra Scott necklace I’ve been wanting thanks to Rocks Box.  But I’m still itching for the medium sized earrings in grey.

[four] Tarte undereye corrector.  In the last few months I’ve noticed I’ve developed dark circles under my eyes.  I’ve tried a couple of different brands that I’ve picked up at Target but I found that this brand does the best job.  My friend Ashtyn introduced it to me and I’ve been meaning to stop by an Ulta and pick it up and just haven’t.  So on the list it goes.

[five] Two toned Citizen watch.  Jenny is the one who introduced me to this watch a year ago.  I had a watch I was perfectly happy with that my brother got me for Christmas about 2 years ago.  Sadly though it finally broke.  So I have been watch less since July.  And right now Citizen watches are on sale at Macy’s!  I think this baby is at the top of my Christmas list! 🙂

[six] Herringbone Vest from J Crew (or something similar) THIS VEST.  I adore it.  It is the perfect winter vest if you ask me.  Recently a friend bought one just like the J Crew version off of amazon for half the price too.  I was in the J Crew Outlet last week though and tried it on.  It needs home in my closet.  Along with a red plaid shirt!

[seven] A Fit-Bit.  Do I need one? No.  Do I want one?  YES!  Mostly because I’m a huge fan of all the bands you can buy to go with one.  And to remind myself of just how “unfit” I actually am! lol

Well there ya go.  I would honestly be happy with just about anything.  As you get older its harder and harder to answer the question, “What do you want for Christmas.”  So hopefully this is helpful!

Linking up with Jenn and Jess for:

I’m heading home for Thanksgiving.  Wish me luck on my 10 hour drive! 🙂

Go Ahead Tours: A Review

At this time last year, I was frantically saving money for the biggest trip I’ve ever taken.

At this time last year, in just about 99% of my conversations I brought up the fact that I was going to Europe.

At this time last year,  I was reading review after review about Go Ahead Tours.

And now it’s time for me to write one of my own.  It’s been just over 1 year since we decided we wanted to go to Europe.  It took me that long to be able to gather all my thoughts and feelings about our trip. Thus why it took me so long to write out each part of our amazing trip.  But now is the time.

Go Ahead Tours is the tour company my friends and I decided to use for Epic European Adventure.  It is a part of the EF Cultural Travel family.  Go Ahead Tours is their “adult” travel company and EF is their student travel company.

Jenny and I decided we wanted to take a trip to Europe in September of last year (you can read that very first post here!).  And after about a week and half of interest research I finally stumbled on Go Ahead’s Grand Tour of Europe.  They had everything we were looking for:

Multiple countries/cities? check
Flights included? check
Hotels included? check
Entrance to some of the bigger attractions? check
Tour of each major city we went to? check
Flexible payment plan? check

After deciding that Go Ahead was going to be the tour company for us, we set a date to book!  That date was October 3rd.  Go Ahead asks for a $300 deposit for all of its tours and then you are able to make payments, set at your own pace and budget.  You just have to have the tour paid by the set date. In our case that date was May 8th(ish).  I have to say this was one of my favorite things about the company.

Alrighty, so I struggled a little with how to write this review and then I decided to just keep it simple. I’ve broken down each part of the tour and written a little blurb about our experience with each.  Please keep in mind that these are 100% my own opinions and thoughts!

The Go Ahead Team:  The customer service team was fantastic.  They were so helpful each and every time I called them (which was a lot).  They were so friendly and knowledgeable from the moment we decided to book until the moment we set foot back in the States.  They even let me extend the date my last payment was due by a week.  I was very impressed with their level of guest service ( and that’s coming from someone who worked for a company who was the highest possible standard when it comes to guest service).

The flights: Having flown across the pond one other time in my life, I knew this would not be my favorite part.  I love traveling and airports and everything but being cooped up on a plane for 10+ hours is just awful (unless of course you’re flying first class, which we did not).  But I was very happy with the flight plans the Go Ahead team found for us.  We had a nonstop flight from Houston to London on the way there and a single layover in Canada on the way back.  Not too shabby.  Everyone was super surprised when I told them we had a nonstop on the way there.  So well done Go Ahead!

The hotels: This is one area we were slightly nervous about.  We were given our hotel information 30 days before our trip and obviously I obsessed over the hotels (you can read my post on that here).  We had tons of questions about the hotels…are the rooms gonna be small? is the breakfast gonna be good? is it gonna be like we see on the website?  Now having been on the tour the hotels were pretty great.  The were super modern and had fantastic amenities, especially in the more northern countries. Once we started to head south there was definitely a change.  Less air conditioning the further south we got which we found funny.  Overall though we were very pleased with the hotels selected by the company.  They were much better than we were anticipating!

The guided tours: In each city we were given a guided tour of the city.  For the most part each tour guide was very knowledgeable and interesting.   Some were more entertaining than others but that is not Go Ahead tours fault.

The tour director:  Each tour comes with it’s very own tour director.  Since we were visiting so many countries we were blessed with a tour director who spoke 5 languages!! And boy did those come in handy. He was in charge of making our trip run seamlessly.  And thankfully he more or less accomplished that.  He made himself available to us day and night.  He helped us come up with day of itineraries in each of the cities we had free time in.  I was very glad we had done our own research before coming because I felt like it made it easier for our tour director to help us plan out our time.  He was especially helpful and needed once we started taking trains everywhere!  I’m now confidant that if I ever go to Europe sans a tour company I would be able to navigate the train stations because of John.  (Oh yeah that was his name! 🙂 )  He was extremely helpful and we were lucky to have him!

The excursions:  We went on 4 different excursions that cost between $50 and $100 extra, depending on what the excursion entailed. I enjoyed each of the excursions we went on and thought they really added to our overall experience.  Especially going to the Vatican and Versailles.  I would highly suggested looking into the excursions especially if this is your first time going to Europe.  I know that there were one or two excursions on our trip that our fellow group members said they could have skipped.

The group size:  We were very lucky on our tour.  Our group size was only about 20 so it was very manageable getting around every where.  Plus everyone in our group was so nice.  It took no time at all for us all to become fast friends.  At the end of the tour we all exchanged addresses, phone numbers and email addresses so we could all stay in touch.  There was always someone to talk to and hang out with which was nice as well.

The overall experience:  Overall I was very happy with my tour experience. That’s not to say that Go Ahead couldn’t improve on a few things.  Here are few areas I think could use some work:

-It would have been nice to have a better idea of travel times between places.  There were a few times that the travel between cities took longer than we anticipated so come major landmarks were missed.  For example in Paris, travel from the train station took much longer than we all thought it would.  And so we ended up missing going to the Louvre (you can read more about my mini sob fest because of that here!).

-There was one experience while we were in Germany that we all hated.  It was a river cruise of on the Rhine River.  On our itinerary it was described as river cruise packed with historical castles and gorgeous views.  It also said we would enjoy a wine/beer tasting while aboard.  The reality was an overcrowded boat that smelled terrible.  By the time we made it on board we could only sit below desk and so we had a terrible view of the 4 castles we actually saw.  And the “wine/beer tasting” was in reality a drink ticket for your choice of 2 different wines and 1 type of beer.  It was not what any of us were expecting and quite honestly could have been skipped all together.

Would I use them again?  ABSOLUTELY!! I would not hesitate to use them again.  In my opinion Go Ahead does a fantastic job of showing you the highlights of every major city you visit on their tours.  Yes, there were a few disappointing moments but all the other fantastic moments 100% outweighed the bad ones.  We were so happy with our choice.  And now I’m itching to take another trip. I’m actually already looking at another trip I want to take with them in the summer of 2017.  I can’t decide between a trip of just the UK or a trip around Eastern Europe!


I really hope this review helps.  I could not have had a better trip to Europe and that is in large part thanks to Go Ahead Tours!  If you have any questions at all please feel free to email me.  I love talking about my trip and would love to help in any way I can! 🙂

Linking up for:

Southern Crochet Cafe

My mornings go usually go one of two ways.  If it’s a weekday I get up between 5:45 and 6:00, then I shower, get ready, grab my coffee to go and am out the door for work.  If it’s a weekend I’m up and getting coffee immediately, then hoping back in bed to enjoy said coffee in the comfort of my bed.  Either way coffee is involved.  Actually, now that I think about it, coffee has been part of my daily routine for as long as I can remember.  I love the routine of drinking coffee in the morning, no matter where am I or what I’m doing.
So since I have this love of coffee and because I’ve been looking for ways to make my coffee drinking experiences more I was so excited when my friend Stephanie asked me if I wanted a few of her adorable coffee cozies.  
Meet Steph!  She and I go way back.  We first met at Texas State University as Campus Representatives for the Disney College Program.  We both are proud Texas State alumni and both worked in Guest Relations for Disney after graduation!
Stephanie is the owner and creator of the Southern Crochet Cafe.  She started her very own Etsy shop, as a little side business making crocheted coffee cozies in 2014.  And boy are they cute!  She specialized in Disney themed cozies, because of her passion for all things Disney.  But she is also able to make custom cozies.  
My cozies are Sleeping Beauty because Aurora is my favorite Disney Princess, Mickey Mouse because hello Mickey is the best, and Texas State because Go Bobcats!  
I absolutely LOVED the way Steph packaged the cozies.  Each one comes on it’s own little cardboard cut out and has personalized touch for each cozie. 
Thankfully I have the perfect mug to show off my cozies!  And I’m on the hunt for a to-go coffee mug that doesn’t have a handle so I can take these little babies to work with me!  The Mickey cozie came to work with me the other day and I got so many compliments on it! 
These cozies would make great gifts.  Especially with Christmas right around the corner.  And the best part is Stephanie is offering 20% off to all my readers!  All you have to do is visit her Etsy site here: Southern Crochet Cafe and type in the code Places20 when you checkout.  
She has also offered to giveaway 1 coffee cozie to two Places I Will Go readers!  Enter below!  Giveaway ends on the 10th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much for feeding my love of coffee Stephanie! 🙂

What’s Ha-"Pinning" [Vol. 5)

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Like any other basic girl, Pinterest has become my go-to for yummy recipes.  When I was on my health kick that is where I found all of my “healthy” recipes and when my parents came to visit over Spring Break last year and my Dad said he wanted to make a seafood stew, I looked to Pinterest for said recipes.  
So today for What’s Ha-“Pinning” I decided to share a few of the pins you can find on my Edible Eats board and one of my most recent favorite recipes! 🙂
That last one is a recipe that I made a few weeks ago (and again last night) and LOVED!!!  I loved it so much I decided to share it with you here.
So without further ado I give you:  Creamy Shrimp Pasta! 
What you’ll need:
1 lb shrimp  ( I used the pre-cooked and frozen shrimp. It took about 4 minutes to complete defrost in cold water.
Any type of pasta you want.  (I used linguine)
1 stick of butter
Cream cheese (I didn’t really have an exact amount.  I use about 1/4 of the package.  And then added more to taste)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!)
1-2 tablespoons of basil (I used dried)
1-2 tablespoons of dried (or fresh) parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of minced garlic

Here’s what you do:

1. Boil your pasta.  This always takes the longest so I start my pasta before I do anything else.
I also use this time to defrost my shrimp.  Again just throw them in a bowl of hot water and they will be defrosted in 4-5 minutes.

2. Melt the stick of butter in your cook pan.  I waited until my pasta was boiling to do this.

3. While the butter melts toss your herbs over your shrimp (after it had defrosted of course).  I put all my herbs in a small bowl and then spread it over the shrimp.

4.  Once your butter is melted, throw the shrimp into your pan. 

5.  Let the shrimp cook for a few minutes.  Then add your garlic and lemon juice.  I let those three things do their thing for a few minutes.  After that I threw in about 3/4 of the tomatoes.  I didn’t want the dish to take too tomatoey (not sure if that is a word).

6. After the tomatoes had time to meld with the shrimp I added the cream cheese a little at time over the whole pan.

7. After letting the cream cheese melt into the the sauce, throw in your pasta.

AND WA-LA!  You have a super tasty shrimp pasta! 🙂

You can add pretty much any vegetable you want to the dish.   Which is one of the things I like about it.  You could also substitute the shrimp for chicken and I’m sure it would be just as good.  I will say that the lemon juice is a MUST.  I made this last night and thought I had lemons but didn’t, and I could definitely tell the difference. I did something else different last night but I can’t tell what it was.  The dish came out a little darker than what you see in the pictures and while it still tasted okay, it tasted better the first time I made it.  So there’s that.

But it is still a very tasty dish, especially if you like shrimp and cream cheese.  Which lets be honest, everyone love cream cheese! 🙂

Have a great Wednesday!

Travel Tuesday: A Magical Bachelorette Weekend

Two weekends ago I went to Disney World!  
As I’m sure most of you know (and if you don’t I’m about to tell you) I used to work at Disney World.   I worked there for a total of 6 years.  It all started in the Spring of 2008, when I worked as a lifeguard at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Then in the summer of 2009 I worked there again, this time at Hollywood Studios.  And most recently I worked there full time from 2011-2014 in Guest Relations at Epcot.  
Now the summer of 2009 was one of the best summers of my life.  Not because of my job but because of my roommates!  It was that summer that I met 5 (well technically 4,  since Abby and I have been friends since 2008) of the best girlfriends I could ever have hoped for.  And the best part is, we are still friends 6 years later.
We all live in different cities and all have different lives but we’ve managed to all stay friends and I love it.  I love that we have all stayed friends.  We’ve had several reunions but sadly have yet to have all 6 of us be together.  It’s always been either 4 or 5 of us.  But I’m happy to say that that is about to change!
On December 5th we will all be together again!  Because one of us is getting married! Kelly is getting married and last weekend we all met at Disney World for a super fun bachelorette weekend! 
I could give tons of written details on the whole weekend, but I’m much more fond of pictures!  So here is our fabulous weekend in a few snap shots.  

One of my best friends just started a screen printing side business and she made these adorable shirts for us. I sent her my ideas and this was the final product!  We LOVED them and got so many compliments while we were in the parks!

We started our day a Magic Kingdom!  I was dying to get some pictures of all of us in our shirts!  And to snap some pictures of the Happiest Place on Earth with my fancy camera!  Cinderella’s Castle and the rest of the Disney parks make for some amazing pictures! 🙂

After strolling around Magic Kingdom for a little bit we made our way over to Epcot to enjoy the 20th Annual Food and Wine Festival.

Somebody got a little sleepy on the monorail over to Epcot!

If you’ve never been to the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot here are a few details:

1. It runs from the end of September until the beginning of November.

2. The World Showcase is the main location of the festival.  In between each country you will find a bunch of kiosks dedicated to cuisine from countries around the world.  South Africa, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, and Australia are just a few of the kiosks offered.

3.  Every year the festival gets bigger and better and a lot more crowded.  So if you do plan to trip to Epcot during the festival be prepared for a ton of people and lots of drinking.  Yes, one of the big draws is the many libations one can consume and it can get a little wild once the sun goes down.  Yes, even at a Disney park.  Trust me I know.

It does make for a very fun atmosphere for a bachelor/bachelorette party though! 🙂

We totally surprised Kelly with our friend Katie.  We have a habit of doing that to each other.  Surprises are fun!  We told Kelly that Katie couldn’t make it.  And then she jumped into our first photo at Epcot!  It was the best! 

Over all it was the best weekend ever!  We all loved getting to celebrate Kelly’s last big fling before her big day in December.  
For those who think Disney World is a lame place for a bachelorette party…think again!  We had a blast!  There was plenty of food and alcoholic beverages to go around and there was always something to do!  Especially with the festival going on.  Plus I got to see some of my best friends in the entire world.  It doesn’t get much better than that! 🙂
Side note, if you your looking for the best attractions, shows, and places to eat while in the Disney parks check out my posts on each of the four parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom)!  I wrote these while I worked in Guest Relations at Epcot so my advice is pretty solid! 🙂  I will say that the Hollywood Studios post is slightly dated.  Sadly one of the attractions I talk about being my favorite is no longer there.  Hollywood Studios is getting a major facelift.  In fact, the Sorcerers Hat was the main icon of the park for at least 10 years is gone.  In it’s place you get a fantastic vie of an exact replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.  Here is it:
See….so different! 
Sorry for the tangent there! Linking up for Travel Tuesday! 🙂