Candle number 30

Goodbye 20’s, bring on 30!

Well folks, I’m turning the big 3-0 tomorrow. While some dread leaving their 20’s behind, I’m quite excited about turning 30. I’ve had a VERY eventful decade and I’m looking forward to starting a whole new, fun chapter of my life.


Couldn’t resist a good cat joke

My 20’s have been truly formative and satisfying for me, even though there were lots of ups and downs. Some of the highlights include:

  • Graduated from college
  • Started volunteering in animal rescue
  • Adopted two crazy kitties
  • Saw AC/DC live
  • Moved from New York to North Carolina
  • Stopped eating meat
  • Got married…and divorced
  • Lost my grandmother, but welcomed a niece
  • Found the beauty of yoga
  • Got my first tattoo, and then another a year later
  • Witnessed my beautiful sister get married
  • Lived alone for the first time ever
  • Went zip lining
  • Ran my first 5k, completed 3 more, and even placed 2nd in my age group once
  • Debuted my Black Canary alter ego
  • Saw much of the U.S. and took my first international trip
  • Started this blog
  • Lost some friends and gained others
  • Fell in love all over again
  • Hit the lowest point of my life and came back from it


What a list! These experiences brought out happiness, sadness, compassion, joy, despair, fear, exhilaration, disappointment, pride, motivation, hopelessness and pure bliss. The negative experiences were hard, but I think they helped to put life into perspective and allow me to appreciate the good times so much more. The last one brings out the most emotion for me, though. Any of my regular readers know that I’ve taken quite a bumpy ride on the mental health train this year. When I say the lowest point of my life, I mean rock bottom. It was a tough time, but things finally seem to be looking up now. I feel much stronger these days.


Turning 30 almost feels like a new awakening for me, like I can start some things over on a good, fresh note. My life has changed more than I could have imagined. What I thought was going to be a married, white picket fence life with kids and a dog has turned out to be the complete opposite, by choice. I’m healthier and more fit than I’ve ever been before, and I feel like I’ve finally grown into myself. Parts of my 20’s felt awkward and immature, but I have a new feeling of confidence, independence, self-awareness and maturity now. I’m slightly more extroverted than I was before. I enjoy crazy adventures and spontaneity, two things I was scared to death of before. Even though I enjoy planning some things, I’m happy and less stressed not knowing what the future has in store for me.


Now to get all philosophical, here are some things I’ve learned in the last ten years:

  • You’re never quite done figuring out what you really want to do with your life.
  • You’re also never done figuring out who your real friends are.
  • Relationships of any kind should always be a two-way street.
  • Surrounding yourself with people who you love and love you back is most important.
  • Compassion for people goes a long way in creating a more progressive world.
  • You have to do the things you’re most scared of doing to get further in your life.
  • It’s okay to quit doing something you don’t like if you’ve given it a fair chance.
  • Success in what you want exists, but you have to work really freakin’ hard for it.
  • Despite how much you love or care about someone else, never ignore your own needs.
  • Negative feelings, including pain, depression and grief, are temporary and will pass.
  • Never rely on someone else to make you happy, and always keep your independence.
  • Fight for and hold onto true love, regardless of how scary it is.
  • Confidence and strength are way more attractive than makeup and cleavage.
  • You’ll get a little freaked out when you get your first (and only, I might add) gray hair
  • Life is way too short to worry. All that really exists or matters is “what is.”
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Just do you. And be confident about it.
  • Life is sometimes messy and painful, but it’s also really awesome and worth living.


I feel blessed to have the life that I have and that is has so many great people in it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have BIG plans for the coming year and long-term goals that I can’t wait to share with you in this blog. I’m definitely not calling this birthday dirty or flirty…maybe sturdy? So, here’s to “sturdy” 30 and the next part of my story!


Cheers ~ Michelle



International Travels: A Photo Tour of London

I just spent a week in London with my boyfriend, Shane, and it was by far one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. I’ve always considered myself someone who enjoys suburban living, but London was one of those cities that made me think otherwise. Every neighborhood has its own charm and feel as you walk through it, the food is unbelievably good (a surprise for both of us), and there is just so much to do. Our days were packed full of sightseeing, eating, drinking and strolling around the city. We even managed to take a day trip to Windsor and Oxford. I took so many pictures that I felt a photo tour of our travels was more appropriate than trying to write a long post about everything we experienced. Enjoy!


Our first beer at the White Bear pub in Kennington


Ethiopian vegetarian plate at Zeret Kitchen in Camberwell


Nighttime view of London from our Airbnb in Camberwell


The British Museum, home to the Rosetta Stone


Buckingham Palace. The Queen wouldn’t let us in, so we had to stand outside



How dare they exploit America through sushi!


…the Obamarama presidential salmon at Itsu…it was really good…


The beautiful Westminster Abbey


View of Parliament and the Eye


Me with a Big Ben growing out of my head. And a much cooler lady with a selfie stick.


The BEST fish and chips from Fish Bone on Cleveland Street


We washed our fish down with some briny oysters from Wright Brothers Spitalfields



Street food: this is a bubble waffle from Nosteagia in Shoreditch. It’s what dreams are made of.


I either had one too many or not enough almond croissants on this trip. My favorite was from Caffe Nero. They also make the best Chai Latte I’ve ever had.


London Bridge, nowhere near falling down!


Part of the Tower of London


A sushi sandwich from Wasabi, what a concept! 


Mint chocolate chip and tiramisu gelato in a crispy cone from Scoop in South Kensington


The Victoria & Albert Museum, one of my favorite London destinations



A line of tourists wanting the same picture formed after I got mine taken. #trendsetter


A neat looking foliage-covered pub called The Churchill Arms



Tasty char-grilled veggie kebab with rice at Charcoal & Meze in Camberwell



Kensington Palace


Hyde Park, where dogs and children run free


Modern afternoon tea, complete with finger sandwiches, scones and miniature pastries!


A terrible picture of a mostly-eaten sourdough 4-cheese zucchini pizza at Franco Manca. I was too busy digging in to take a picture of the whole thing.


Windsor Castle; the second home of the Queen



Beautiful and historic Oxford



Montgomery cheese, celery root, carrot & leek pie with creamed potatoes and spinach from Quod in Oxford


Followed by sticky toffee pudding with banana ice cream and caramel sauce


Enjoying a final ale at the famous Olde Cheshire Cheese pub on Fleet Street


What are your favorite stops in London? Leave a comment!

Michelle, Take a Chill Pill

I’ve had no inspiration to write for the past two weeks. Life has been busy, but more than that, I haven’t even wanted to write, which I feel guilty about. I haven’t had the motivation to cook or bake anything worthy of a blog post. I went to Asheville this past weekend and had plans to write something about that, but I just didn’t feel like taking pictures of everything I did and ate. I’ve had little ideas pop into my head, but the idea of sitting down to write about them has held no interest for me. It’s been a weird feeling, to say the least.


I frequently put pressure on myself to always be “on” and productive, especially because I have this blog and want to post frequently, but sometimes that pressure is just unreasonable. As a result, I become bored with my life and frantically find ways to fill it with anything. My thought process is that if I’m not doing something, then I must not be doing anything useful. I often realize how short life is and how much I want to make a difference in the world and do something meaningful before I die (hello, ego). I’ll come up with all of these exciting things I want to do, but once laziness sets in those ideas seem to just fly out the window. It’s really frustrating, because reality doesn’t always match the plan for my life that I formulate in my head.


I was having a particularly cranky day on Monday and sulking over this fact. My boyfriend, Shane, graciously let me complain to him. He said something that stuck with me and made quite a lot of sense:

You’ve been really busy lately, so maybe your mind just wants to go on neutral for a while.

Hmm, neutral. I struggle to know what that word means for me, because my brain usually only has two modes: on or off, energetic or unmotivated, excited or depressed. I never really considered what my brain actually wanted, I just assumed I made all the decisions for it. But maybe it is trying to tell me something. Maybe I have to learn how to just “be” and accept the neutral mentality when it happens. In other words, I need to simmer down and take a chill pill; appreciate my life for what it is at this moment and not think of it in terms of great or terrible; stop trying to control every freakin’ thing all the time. My life can just be described as fine; it doesn’t have to be fireworks all the time.


I don’t think I have much of a point to this post, other than to put my words and current feelings out there. I do hope to get back to some more exciting posts soon, but until then, this brain is just going to cruise in neutral…


Georgia Peach Spiced Cookies

This recipe is an ode to my favorite spice shop in the world, Savory Spice Shop. I received a free sample of Georgia Peach Spice a while ago from the spice shop, and it’s been burning a hole in my spice drawer for some time now because I had no idea how to use it. I had good intentions of making an elaborate dessert with it, but clearly that didn’t happen…because, life. So rather than let it continue sitting in my spice drawer, I decided to use it to add a little extra kick to your average cookie.


Contrary to the title though, these cookies don’t have actual peaches in them. Georgia Peach Spice is made up of vanilla bean sugar, Saigon cinnamon, lemon peel, citric acid, cloves and allspice. So these are quite similar to fall/pumpkin spiced cookies, except they have the subtle tanginess of lemon in them. The point of this spice is to contain all of the typical flavors that go along with spiced peaches, minus the peaches. Therefore, you could certainly use this spice in a peach dessert, but you could also use it in several other sweet or savory dishes. Naturally I chose a sweet dish. Enjoy!



  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (I used white wheat)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Georgia Peach Spice*
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

*If you don’t have a spice shop that carries Georgia Peach Spice, you could make up a similar spice mixture of sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest, cloves and allspice. 



  1. Heat oven to 325°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, milk and vanilla until slightly whipped.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until combined. Dough may be a little crumbly, but it should be sticky enough to hold together.
  4. Using a melon baller or teaspoon, form dough into 1″ balls and place them on the baking sheets about 2″ apart.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely on sheets, then store in an airtight container. Makes about 24 cookies.




Western Travels: A Short Trip to Scottsdale

Last week I took a short trip to Arizona to visit my two sisters. One of my sisters lives in a little western town called Cave Creek, which is right above Scottsdale. Cave Creek has cacti galore, beautiful mountains and cute little shops, but not quite as much in the food department. Therefore, we ventured into Scottsdale to eat and found some awesome restaurants. Of course, I managed to stuff myself most days, as I do on any vacation!


On day one we went to a local pizza place called Pomo Pizzeria for lunch. This wasn’t just your average pizza joint, this was some serious authentic Italian-style pizza. The interior was modern and welcoming. There was a huge copper-steel oven in the open kitchen where all the magical pizza-cooking action takes place. They have a beautiful patio that would have been nice to sit out on, but unfortunately it was in the triple-digits that day (as is every day in Arizona in the summer), so we opted for a table inside.



I went with a classic margherita pizza and a glass of white wine. Can I just say how much I love a small pizza that I get to eat all by myself and don’t have to share with anyone else? The pizza was unreal…thin crust cooked to perfection, sweet and tangy tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella slices and fragrant basil leaves. If I could only eat one meal for the rest of my life, it might be really well-made margherita pizza, and this one certainly fell into that category.



The next day our other sister drove in from Las Vegas to spend a couple of days with us. So we took this rare opportunity to have a sisters’ night out for dinner and drinks, which is something we haven’t done in many years. We went to Local Bistro, a swanky, modern restaurant known for their unique drinks and local, seasonal ingredients. I ended up having three cocktails that night, which is one more than I usually have, but there were just too many delicious concoctions to choose from. I had been to Local Bistro the last time I was in Arizona and remembered how much I loved it, so I was happy to be able to enjoy it again.

Local Bistro.jpg

Excuse the blurriness, this was taken after those three cocktails…


We started with a shared appetizer of the calamari fritti, which came with spicy peppers, candied lemon slices and a chili aioli dipping sauce. I can appreciate when fried calamari are done right, as it’s not always an easy task. These calamari were lightly fried, tender and not greasy. The candied lemons were a tasty addition as well. We also shared some of their house made ciabatta bread. I started off with a blueberry lavender mojito, which was really refreshing and flavorful.



For my entree I had the pan roasted salmon, which came with pesto whipped potatoes, julienne vegetables and a lemon-caper beurre blanc. Good heavens, this was one tasty dish! The salmon was crispy on the outside and cooked to medium on the inside. The veggies were light, with a bit of crunch. But the star of the dish was the potatoes. Oh, the potatoes!  These were by far some of the most delicious and decadent potatoes I’d ever had, so full of garlic and herbs. And the accompanying sauce just brought everything together. I was actually angry that I couldn’t finish everything on my plate. But then my second cocktail, a tart rosemary cosmo, quickly turned my frown upside down.




Anyone who knows me and my sisters knows that a major sweet tooth runs in our family. So, naturally dessert was a given. We held back our gluttony though and decided to split a tiramisu. And it’s a good thing we did, because it was quite massive. Layers upon layers of ladyfingers, espresso and marscarpone topped with cinnamon just make you feel all happy inside. My happiness also increased with my very strong and sweet chocolate martini. It was quite a fun and delicious girls’ night out.


We love sweets so much that I couldn’t even get a picture of an untouched dessert.


On my last day in Arizona, we had a shopping day at Scottsdale Quarter, a modern outdoor shopping center with a large variety of stores and restaurants. I’ve been to the quarter twice, and both times I left wishing we had a shopping center like this in Charlotte. We stopped for lunch at True Food Kitchen, which is one of my absolute favorite restaurants. I ate here a couple of years ago and fell in love with it. Since then I’ve been wishing for a location to open in Charlotte, but my wish has not yet come true. While some may view TFK as “crunchy”, I love their use of healthy ingredients and selection of vegetarian dishes.


I’m not very subtle in my photography…

I started with a honey lemonade, which was SO refreshing on another 100° day. You could immediately tell upon drinking it that they used fresh lemons and wildflower honey to make it. It wasn’t overly sweet and definitely not artificial tasting, like some other lemonades. The honey gave it a really different and unique flavor.



For lunch I had the T.L.T., a fun take on a traditional B.L.T. that uses smoked tempeh strips instead of bacon. (For all you bacon lovers out there, sorry to disappoint you and feel free to bypass this section). The smoked tempeh against the fresh lettuce, tomato and avocado was a great combination. It was served on toasted multigrain bread with mayo and came with a side of sweet potato onion hash. Everything was so fresh and healthy that you actually feel good even if you stuff yourself, like I did.



One very loaded T.L.T.!


We decided to skip dessert at TFK in favor of a macaron shop we passed on the way to lunch that we promised to walk back to. Le Macaron is an adorable little french pastry shop specializing in, you guessed it, macarons. Remember how I said my sisters and I had a sweet tooth? Well, we practically ran into this place with our tongues hanging out.

Le Macaron.jpg


Upon walking in, you see a variety of macarons in different flavors and colors. I’m not going to lie, this was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life. How was I supposed to choose two out of over 15 flavors? Of course I could have bought more, but I wanted to have some willpower and savor the two flavors I decided on. Plus, macarons are not exactly cheap…I went with a basil white chocolate and a coconut creme macaron. My goodness, a good macaron is just divine: light, sweet, crispy and oh-so-decadent. I thought the infusion of basil was really unique and unlike anything I’d had in a macaron before. My sisters tried the salted caramel, lavender white chocolate and madagascar black vanilla flavors, and loved all of them as well.




You can clearly see where my priorities lie in the number of pictures I take of desserts.


They also had some beautiful gem-like chocolate truffles that were equally tempting


Early the next morning I headed back home to Charlotte. While I only spent a few days in Arizona, I managed to fill them with good eats and fun times with family. Now to find more macarons…😉