Exploring Asheville and The Blue Ridge Parkway

Toyota CamryDisclaimer: This post is sponsored by Toyota. Opinions are my own.

I recently was given the opportunity to take a brand new (as in only 6 miles on the odometer new) 2016 Toyota Camry on a road trip. I am a road warrior and don’t mind road tripping at all (I mean there’s so much more leg room in a car these days vs. an airplane, yeah?) so this was right up my alley. And because sometimes it’s fun to be a tourist in your own state I selected Asheville, North Carolina and The Blue Ridge Parkway as the destination in hopes to catch some of those gorgeous leaves turning a rainbow of colors. I’ve visited the area and cruised the Blue Ridge Parkway many times in the past, but there’s always something seemingly new and even more beautiful to see with each visit. This one was no exception.

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Girls Getaway – The Carolinas

Carolina Beach
Sometimes a girl just needs a getaway. Last month Susan and I decided to take a spontaneous carb filled mid week mini getaway to the Carolina coast. We had no specific destination in mind other than the coast. Spontaneity. It’s a good thing. Well unless we didn’t find a room then it wouldn’t have been a good thing as we would have been sleeping in the car (there are worse things). We started towards Wilmington where we stopped for lunch and something sweet. Well a whole lot of sweet.

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Frisco North Carolina – OBX

Frisco Woods OBX

Last month we packed up the bikes and traveled to Frisco North Carolina in The Outer Banks (OBX) to camp by the sea. Those of you who know me know I’m NOT a camper. I was only convinced to go camping because A. The campground was located at the ocean (specifically The Outer Banks which I adore), B. There would be a cabin with air conditioning and electricity. I would still be roughing it as the cabins didn’t have any running water, read NO bathroom, which I didn’t find out until after the reservations were made, ehem.

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Tudor United Sports Car Championship – VIR

Podium celebration

Back in May I had the opportunity to visit VIR (Virginia International Raceway) for the first time to see the Motorcycle Road Racing Series. It was an amazing experience and I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to return next weekend as VIRginia International Raceway Prepares for Season’s Biggest, Fastest Race Welcoming Back The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Aug. 21-23!

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Carnival Sunshine: Western Caribbean

Caribbean
I have to tell you cruising is one of our favorite family vacations! This is our second year taking a cruise as a family and it won’t be our last. Why do we all love it? It might be easier to tell you what we don’t like (which is simply that it took a long time to drive to Florida.) There are five people in our family and our kids range from 8 – 17 (how did that happen gah) read they have VERY different ideas of fun. On a Carnival cruise there is literally something for EVERYONE in our family to do to keep us entertained as well as more choices to eat and drink than you can shake a stick at available at all times of the day or night. 24/7 people. I haven’t even talked about the views and the destinations – which are amazing.

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The Florida Keys: Key West

Ibis Bay Resort

Earlier this summer I took a little (and by little I mean seriously amazing so much so I really didn’t want to come home) trip to The Florida Keys. This is part TWO of that amazing trip. The first two days of the trip were spent bouncing around the idealistic ISLAMORADA . We packed up ours bags and headed further South to Key West for the final 2 days of our trip. Key West was as vibrant and delicious as I imagined it would be. Trying to compare these two places would be like trying to compare apples to oranges. I adored them both. Clearly I didn’t want to come home.

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The Florida Keys: Islamorada


Mile Marker 88Marker 88

Over the summer I was invited by the Keys Tourism Board to tour the beautiful and oh so sunny Florida Keys. I know, it’s a tough job but someone has to do it. You can imagine that when the invitation arrived, it took me all of two seconds to say yes and thank you. Thank you very much. I had actually never visited the Florida Keys prior to this visit and I can honestly say that it was better and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I’m actually thinking that now would be a VERY good time to pack up and go for another visit. The people, the food, the restaurants, the hotels, the WATER, seriously I fell in love with the colors of ocean. So much so I bought a necklace off a gallery owner (true story) that reminded me of the water and my trip.

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Houston: This Ain’t My First Rodeo

boots
This usually surprises most people that don’t know me well, I’m a HUGE professional bull riding fan. It’s the truth. Okay fan really doesn’t describe how into it I am. I’m slightly obsessed. There I said it. I watch it just about every time it’s broadcast on television and I do my best to get to at least one live event every year. If you haven’t you really should. Good times people. Really good times. Not kidding. Whenever I get a chance to see bull riding I’m in. Period.

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Getaway to Vallarta-Nayarit Mexico

ElPueblo

Disclaimer: This blog post is brought to you by SocialMoms and Funjet Vacations blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

I don’t know about you but this time of year when the days are shorter, darker, colder and sweaters, scarves and boots are the norm vacation destinations are what I daydream and dream about. Since I am a beach girl through and through I gravitate towards vacation destinations like Mexico’s Vallarta-Nayarit.  With nearly 200 miles of coastline, authentic charm and a rich vibrant culture it’s no wonder Riviera Nayarit was named one of Frommers’ top destinations for 2014.  It’s a destination for pampering, stunning sunsets and incredible value that I can’t wait to experience firsthand with my family. There is literally something for every age to experience making it an optimal family friendly vacation destination that you can book for as little at $50 down!

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Get your Florence and Tuscany Italian Fix

You all know how much I LOVE Italy. Any time you mention the word I can not help but smile. I could talk about it (preferably in Italian) for hours on end. I spent my formative years living in Fruili. It’s my home away from home and where I feel incredibly connected. Once you’ve been to Italy you will understand. I try to return as much as possible, when I am away for too long I get twitchy. It’s best for all of us if I go at least once a year ; ) I think everyone should go at least once. You should get your ITALIAN FIX.  3 amazing women have put together a trip of a lifetime. 1 of which I have met in person, Leela who is an absolute peach and a very TALENTED photographer. Giulia, who I have not met in real life but I feel like I have known her for years. I was honored when she asked me to help look over the English version of her first cookbook (it’s awesome you should get it and her new one) and Bianca, my newest amica who I know I would get on with amazingly. Since she organized the trip I’m going to let her tell you all about it.

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Beverly Hills Darling

Beverly Hills dah-ling. Pinch me, I finally went there and I have to tell you it was as mah-vah-lous as I imagined (maybe even more so). Sus & I decided to tack a few days onto a work trip for a little vacay. We were hosted by the oh so fabulous Beverly Wilshire. Yes that one where Pretty Woman was filmed. We were greeted by Carrie our hostess who gave us a warm welcome and tour. If you love the movie like I do you’ll be happy to know that they have the movie running 24/7 in the spa. Who wouldn’t want a mani/pedi while sipping on a glass of champagne while watching Pretty Woman? I mean seriously.

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Mixing it Up at Mixed Y’all: Pembroke, VA

It’s been a little over a week since I’ve worked the hardest I have ever worked in my life. My LIFE. Earlier this year my crazy bff Susan & I decided that hosting our OWN food conference would be a good idea. How hard could it be right? *sideeye* We had put together numerous well regarded sponsor parties after all. We worked for months on end putting together every single detail. We planned, planned and planned some more. Spent umpteen hours on the phone as well as emailing everyone and their brothers. Finally on Friday November 30th, 100 attendees converged on a mountain top in Virginia to be entertained and learn at OUR conference MIXED. We were thrilled, shocked and humbled and pretty much felt like we birthed another child.

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Packing it in + Lo & Sons OG Bag


(Photo Credit Lo & Sons)

I travel – a lot. Honestly, I tend to pack a lot more than I really need. What can I say? I like to be prepared. Ask Susan. She constantly makes fun of me when we travel. She shows up with the smallest bag and has twice as much as I do in my 21″ pilot carry on. I am always amazed at her mad packing skills. So when I had the opportunity to review this gorgeous Lo & Sons O.G. (Overnight & Gym Bag) Women’s Lightweight Travel Bag I jumped at the chance to see if I could take everything I needed in one small overnight bag. I took a trip to Chicago this week. 3 days, 2 nights. I packed EVERYTHING I needed into my Lo & Sons O.G. Army Green Bag. Seriously.

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Going Bananas with DOLE at Disneyland

You do like bananas don’t you? I certainly do. It’s pretty much one of the most perfect portable snacks you can find. I’ve been eating them since before I can remember. Literally. They pretty much fueled my way through my sports years as well. Yep, you might be surprised to know that I played basketball and volleyball. #25 baby. I loved playing sports. What I didn’t love,  the energy drain and cramps during games. To work around that I would eat a banana at halftime and was good to go before long. Bananas are definitely nature’s original energy bar.

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CA Raisin Harvest Tour: Fresno, CA

A few weeks ago I headed to the left coast to visit loverly Fresno. I was greeted at the airport by a celebrity. I’m sure you’ve heard of him. He’s pretty famous. THE California Raisin! As I was walking up I could hear I heard it through the grapevine playing in my head. I have to admit I was a little star struck. He was definitely my most favorite airport greeting. Hands down. I bet you’re wondering why I was in Fresno and why the CA Raisin was greeting me? Because I’m a rock star of course (okay maybe only in my head) Really, I am one of several CA Raising Blogger Ambassadors and I’m tickled purple about it.

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Duff’s Cake Mix

Who doesn’t love cake? I LOVE cake. COULD eat it everyday. Sadly I’m  not one of those people who are blessed with a faboosh metabolism. Shaking my fist. So everyday turns into once in a while. I can bake a pretty tasty cake but the decorating part I leave to the experts. Like one of my bff’s Susan. She can decorate a cake on her head blindfolded and it would look spectacular. Or maybe you’ve heard of this guy named Duff. He’s pretty good at it too.

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Prince Edward Island: The Gentle Island


Point Prim Lighthouse PEI

Last week at the crack of dawn I boarded my first of three planes en route to Prince Edward Island (PEI) Canada. If you know me, you know I’m REALLY excited to make a trip if I wake up that early. Although I’ve traveled to many countries all over the world I had never visited Canada. I know eh? Did I mention I’m now fluent in French Canadian? Not true but fun to pretend. Even before landing, from the air you can see that Prince Edward Island is simply stunning. I was ready to see all that PEI had to offer and see I did.

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Feeling Lucky – Gettysburg, PA

I absolutely LOVE the entire process of cooking. I enjoy shopping for the perfect ingredients. I enjoy slicing, dicing, chopping, mincing, chiffonading – is that even a word?  It’s totally therapeutic and way cheaper than a therapist. What I also love is seeing and learning where my food comes from. Luckily I’m able to visit farms and meet farmers on a fairly regular basis thanks to my job. 

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The Sweetest Place On Earth: Hershey Park

My name is Paula and I am a choco-holic. But you already knew that didn’t you? It’s no secret. I have been. All. My.Life. My sweet tooth is wicked. I’m surprised it’s not rotten to be honest. So what’s a girl with a wicked sweet tooth to do? Go to Hershey Park of course. I decided after attending the always amazing conference retreat, Big Summer Potluck, that a trip to Hershey Park was in order. The family and I loaded up and drove all the way to PA. Note to self avoid driving through Washington DC at all costs. Hello traffic nightmare.

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Sipping in Seattle with Cameron Hughes Wines

Have I told you lately how much I love my job? I really do (well except for doing dishes  but hey we can’t have it all right). Part of my job includes traveling. Tough right? Last week we jetted off  to Seattle. Susan and I had big plans for the city, one of which included a swanky soiree we co-hosted Friday night. 

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