Why Travel? (Jess Edition)

Why Travel? (Jess Edition)

Solo trip to Paris


Where did I get the travel bug? I’m not completely sure, so let’s talk it through.

I love having a home and I loved my mountain I lived on when I was younger. I had no desire to leave that. My grandparents traveled a lot, but they were retired by that time. I went to the beach a lot as a child. Then, I turned 16 and things changed when I got my passport and took my first trip out of the country. This was a 2-week long river cruise with my grandparents from Vienna, Austria to Amsterdam, Netherlands

This trip changed my perspective. You know that there are other countries, cultures, and norms, but until you are immersed in them, you really have no idea. Seriously.

I did that for two weeks and then somehow I was lucky enough to go to Paris with my mom less than 6 months later! I was able to sort of use the little bit of french I knew. It was an adventure. My third trip to Europe was in 2005. I went to Munich, London and had a day in Austria with a class trip for about 2 weeks. I have also been to Cancun and Ocho Rios, but the places we went are made for Americans, so it wasn’t much of a cultural experience.

I think college and education shaped me into this more-adventurous version of myself, too. I was taught about many different religions and cultures, but also about history…modern and biblical. When everything comes together, and you add a husband that got the travel bug after the school trip, you really start to take yourself seriously and find a way to do it. I was okay with little trips around the state and surrounding states, but now it’s time to tackle more countries…in Europe!


Sunrise from the plane



I want to learn more and see more. I want to experience different cultures. I wanted to live outside my little Shenandoah Valley box and explore the world. There is so much to see and do, and so many people to meet. I believe that travel can change you. I’m ready to have experiences and meet the people that will change my perspective and change my life. My horizons have been broadened before, so let’s keep going! I will be a Woman of the World.

Give yourself the opportunity to have your life changed.

Travel and Adventure Show in D.C. 2013


Months ago I saw that the Travel and Adventure Show was coming to D.C. in March. Little did I know that I would really benefit from a short trip away for the weekend! We bought A Bizarre Evening with Andrew Zimmern tickets which included a 2-day pass to the show as well as a bizarre evening.

Rick Steves at Travel and Adventure Show 2013

Rick Steves at Travel and Adventure Show 2013

The Show has authors, travel experts, dancing stages, and many travel and destination booths. A convention center can be extremely overwhelming so we prioritized. We knew we wanted to see the Rick Steves and Andrew Zimmern presentations and randomly checked everything else out in between those two. Rick was so funny and had some very practical moves prior to his real presentation. He did a couple poses so you could get a good photo at the beginning and then actually listen to him speak. He LOVES Italy and so that is what he spoke about. You can see his passion for travel, passion for helping others travel, and passion for Italy. He’s a great speaker and it was awesome to see him in person.

Andrew Zimmern is a little different than he is on television. I think he had a hurried day, but he was very to the point and direct with everything he said, even answers to the audience’s questions. He makes it very clear that although his show is called “Bizarre Foods”, the foods aren’t bizarre to those who eat them. We actually got a sense that he didn’t like using that term. I was able to get up and ask a question which was “We know you for eating and liking bizarre foods, but what is your favorite food to come home to?” His answer was a chicken dish that his wife makes. Insert “Awwww” here.

Andrew Zimmern at Travel & Adventure Show in D.C. 2013 at Geoduck demostration

Andrew Zimmern at Travel & Adventure Show in D.C. 2013 at Geoduck demostration

The “Bizarre Evening with Andrew Zimmern” entailed him speaking of his travels while he was cooking ox hearts for us to try. Not only that, but other “strange” foods were waiting for us. It was an interesting evening to say the least. However, we did try jellyfish salad, blood sausage, and ox heart. Hated the jellyfish salad, but the rest was okay. Sean, of course, liked it all.

Can’t wait until next year! Now we know what to expect and hope you might consider going as well. If you are planning a trip, maybe a honeymoon, you should stop by and check out all the represented destinations!

Click here to go the the Travel and Adventure Show Website

Cupcake Tour of Washington DC – Georgetown

Cupcake Tour of Washington DC – Georgetown

Georgetown Cupcake Tour

We took at day-trip to Georgetown to get out of the area and do something a bit spontaneous. I was shocked that Sean wanted to go up there considering he’s in northern Virginia all the time now. ( I feel so sorry for him!) Anyway, of course he knows about my love of these small cakes and thought I would enjoy myself in Georgetown, where there are THREE cupcake shops pretty close together. I love this man!

We visited Baked and Wired, Georgetown Cupcake, and Spinkles. I always get the chocolate on chocolate cupcakes so I’m comparing apples to apples (so to speak!). And if you are in the area for a while, check out the Cupcake Tour of Alexandria, Virginia…it’s just over the bridge!

Baked and Wired

Chocolate Cupcake of Doom

This is a very tall cupcake that, I believe, is wrapped in parchment paper. It had a very rich and deep chocolate flavor but you can’t actually bite into it. It takes two bites to get from the top to the bottom of this cupcake. The frosting is a fudgy frosting but it’s still a little bit creamy, and that I appreciate! This place had the best cupcake names! Just had to throw that in there : )

Georgetown Cupcake

DC Cupcakes Tour

Georgetown Cupcakes are smaller than the other two, mainly because they are flat cupcakes. The price is a little lower for that too, so that’s nice I guess.


(Bottom middle)

This cupcake is very rich. Good, but rich. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t a milk chocolate buttercream. It’s a whipped chocolate frosting; I’m guessing it’s between a ganache and a buttercream. But it was a little much and I wasn’t sure I could finish it. The cake was nice and moist and very tasty but denser than I was expecting.

I overheard someone else saying that they preferred the milk chocolate, but there’s no chocolate on chocolate milk chocolate cupcake. There is a milk chocolate buttercream on a vanilla cake.


(Bottom right)

Much more balanced than the Chocolate2 cupcake. Just that little bit of ganache works very well. And who doesn’t love small sprinkles? I do. I would get this one over Chocolate2 any day. Second favorite of the just chocolate cupcakes.

Toasted Marshmallow Fudge *Specialty for January*

(Bottom left)

Amazing. Best cupcake overall. The marshmallow buttercream on top cut the richness of the chocolate cake and is just the perfect combination.


Sprinkles DC Cupcake Tour

Milk Chocolate

Also sized in a regular cupcake cup, this cake had a dome and therefore did not have as much frosting. I just barely fits in your mouth…rather, MY mouth. I really enjoyed the milk chocolate cream cheese frosting. But the cake was slightly, very slightly, drier than the others. I think it’s my favorite of the four just chocolate cupcakes.

Cupcake Tour of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Cupcake Tour of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Cupcake Tour

While in Philly I had planned to taste-test the different chocolate truffle places. There is a chocolate tour of Philly and I thought it silly to pay someone to take me around when I am perfectly capable of doing it myself. Well…that didn’t happen. I wasn’t in the mood for small chocolates. I wanted a cupcake. Then it snowballed. You see 6 wonderful looking chocolate cupcakes. I am going to rank them (they are not ranked in the photo), and recommend which you should not miss if you visit Philadelphia. Also, I don’t have the actual descriptions so these are all based on my tastes.

Number 1

10 Arts! This was an unexpected chocolatey surprise. For the 5 bite lunch at 10 Arts you get a cupcake that Pastry Chef Monica Glass decides to prepare that day. Lets just say we are VERY glad we went that day! It is a chocolate cupcake with chai frosting. But the frosting was more like a flavored whipped cream. It had a wonderful flavor and texture. The cake was perfectly moist and just amazing. I really don’t know what else to say except the server almost forgot Sean’s and he wasn’t going to say anything, so I did. And I think he loves me even more now 🙂

Number 2

Philly Cupcake. This was a tasty and moist devils food cupcake with an awesome creamy frosting. So good! The chocolate butterfly doesn’t hurt my vote either 🙂 It was just a really good cupcake that I would definitely recommend and I almost bought another on Monday, but they are not open Mondays…probably for the best! Their shop is super small and only takes cash. The cupcakes are display in old china cabinets. You tell them what you would like and they will grab it for you. Definitely don’t try to open the cabinet yourself, they seemed pretty strict about that!

Number 3

Naked Chocolate Cafe. This was the first cupcake I had while there. It was delicious and I knew that it was a good start to our getaway! It was a regular type chocolate cake with your typical buttercream frosting and small chocolate balls. It all went together so well but I did save some chocolate balls to eat later! Go into Naked Chocolate Cafe and I dare you to try and make a choice!

Number 4

Brown Betty Desserts. This cupcake was really good, it was just really dense. It was so much to try and eat myself (and that’s saying something!). The frosting is a fudge type frosting, so it’s really heavy as well. I would recommend eating this with a partner and getting a big glass of milk…each. It’s still good, just pace yourself.

Number 5

So, I don’t want one cupcake to be the last one and neither of these were bad, they just weren’t the best.

Flying Monkey. It was a good cake, but I loved the frosting. (I should mention here that I don’t know if there is a different in frosting or icing, so just go with it.) The frosting was creamy and tasty and I love the little chocolate shaving on top, I always eat those things separately!

Swiss Haus Bakery.I loved the frosting and the sprinkles. What a clever way to not get frosting everywhere! The cake was good, but I don’t know how true to the cake I can be…I ate it 2 days later. Bad! I know! It was slightly dry but still a good cake. However, this is a big one…they have a wonderful treat called a Devils Food Chocolate Mousse Slice Dipped in Ganache.

Where have you had the best cupcake, or even the best dessert, in the world?

If you are headed to Alexandria, Virginia or Washington D.C. check out the cupcake tour for those cities!