A BIG Announcement!

Hello, lovely readers!

I have a big announcement for you all today.

Huge.

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Except it’s not a mistake!  via GIPHY

I’m here today to announce to you all that TO&E is MOVING!

I know, I know.  Jules, I just got this URLemorised! But it will be fine, I promise!

As TO&E has grown, and my interests have grown alongside it, the site truly needs a fresh start to reach its full potential.

And that new home will be here at my new site, For the Sake of Good Taste.

 

Thank you all for your loyal readership and I hope to see you at the new sitesite site!

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“Oh, here I go….”

Now I know all the motions, and the steps to every dance, and I count cards at the table;  I never bet on chance.  I leave nothing to the gods, I know all the odds, and even so…. Still here I go, oh, here I go….  —Here I GoIf/Then

It’s been so long, my lovelies!

One thing has remained—If/Then remains the soundtrack to my time abroad.

It’s been a rollercoaster, but the primary appeal remains.  I absolutely love Bath and the UK at large.

I’m working on a few pieces that will look at some more specific places and adventures, but, in the meantime, how about some highlights?

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I walk by Pulteney Bridge/Pulteney Weir at the River Avon on my way to class each day. Fun fact: This is the spot where Javert’s suicide is filmed in the most recent adaptation of Les Miserables!

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Another portion of my commute: the gorgeous Bath Abbey.

 

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I’ve seen some of the most remarkable scenes the world has to offer.  

 

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All of the Harry Potter!  Remember the scene where Voldemort creeps through the gate and kills Lily and James in a shock of green, Disney villian-esque light?  Welcome to Godric’s Hollow.  

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I’m sure it comes as no surprise that graveyards are one of my favourite settings (the stint in paranormal investigating may have given that away!).  This one is located in Steventon, where Jane Austen’s father held the local parish.  

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ALL the Jane Austen, really.  

And, of course…so many cute animals!!

Yeah, I may be living the dream.

Is there anything you’d specifically like to hear more about during my travels?  Comment below! 🙂

One and a Half Years of Blogging: How My Life Has Changed

Guest Post by Alyssa DeBella of The Wise Willow

A few years ago if you had asked me what I knew about blogging, the answer would have been simple: not much. At the time I was more wrapped up in finishing my high school studies and writing seemingly endless college application essays. Something that involved yet more writing was definitely not in my life plan. Yet, oftentimes I find myself wondering where my life would be without my blog. Arguably, maybe it wouldn’t be that different. But a part of me begs to differ.

Jumping into the world of blogging was like deciding to commit to taking a trip without having much of a real plan. Sure, I knew the general idea, but I was in no way prepared for what I was getting myself into. That being said, much like traveling it was the journey that had the greatest impact on my life today. I never knew that there was so much to learn about the blogging world, and I had yet to discover all of the skills that blogging would give me.

That summer day when I launched my blog seems like ages ago, though it has only been about a year and a half. I signed up for all of the social media platforms and began my journey. As the days passed and the time drew near for me to start my college journey, I found my following on Twitter start to grow. I was surprised by this because I had heard from every blogger that it feels as though nobody is reading for the first few months of your blogging career.

Like many things, however, I knew that trying to measure success quantitatively was not the best approach. Especially in the world of blogging, which is a very personal endeavor for many, it can be disheartening and even lead one to abandon their passion in light of feeling as though they weren’t making a difference. Though this was difficult, I made sure to not allow myself to focus on the numbers. Instead, I focused on community. I would scroll through Twitter and Instagram, and find people that I resonated with. I would read their posts, send them encouragement, and engage in lasting conversations. After a while, I started to recognize their name and their brand on all social media sites and felt a bond growing. A little while after that, I started to join Twitter chats and I found that sense of community blooming right before my eyes.

This is when I learned one of the most important lessons: finding happiness and fulfillment through celebrating the successes of others. There are so many wonderful people doing amazing things with their creative talents, and I love being a part of that! Every day when I scroll through Twitter, I love reading through and responding to Tweets that express a journey. I now have a community of people that I wouldn’t hesitate to call friends, who have shared in this experience with me.

Through building community and taking creative risks, I have learned more about myself. My blog is a journal of the past two years, and one in which there is a significant amount of change. From my first few months at college (that seem like forever ago!) to detailed accounts of my successes and challenges, I can see the progress of my own personal journey. My vegan experience, my health and college challenges, and my newfound joy for life. Blogging has taught me to open up to others and to share my experiences, and create a community of support. I have become more outgoing, more willing to take risks creatively and try new styles of writing or videos. I have met people from all over the world that have had similar experiences, or have wise words of wisdom to share about something that I am going through.

Blogging has changed my life for the better and is something that I know I will always have. It has taught me important lessons about my journey into adulthood and has proven to be a passion that I had forgotten that I had.

Totally agree, Alyssa!  Blogging is the best–especially the sense of community!

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Blogger Bio:

Alyssa is a second-year college student and part-time blogger who finds her inspiration in living simply and simply living. She’s passionate about her studies in religion and government, living a plant-based lifestyle, radiating positivity, and learning from the world.

“Once Every Day, Your Life Starts Again….”

“Here’s how it starts, and here’s how it ends;  two different hearts, maybe lovers or friends.  No one knows the ways the long road bends…. Once every day, your life starts again, no one can say just how or just when, somehow the world turns inside out and then…then, what if, what if, what if you wonder what if, what if?”  —What If?, If/Then

I seriously feel like I’ve started a whole new chapter of life now that I’m in the UK.  If/Then has been the soundtrack of my adventures thus far (plus it’s just amazing, so check it out).

That being said, there’s quite the lengthy blog post on the way to cover the magic that is Bath so far!  Don’t be too mad that it’s taking awhile;  you’ll have plenty TO&E to read soon enough!

In the meantime, be sure to check back tomorrow for a guest post from the lovely Alyssa DeBella of The Wise Willow!

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4 Ways to Add Flavor to Vegetarian Meals (Guest Post from My Little Box of Tricks)

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m thrilled to welcome Kristine from My Little Box of Tricks to TO&E to feature this wonderful guest post!  Be sure to check out her site, too! 🙂

When you think of ‘vegetarian’ food, what do you think of? Odds are tofu, soy products, rice and pasta come to mind – maybe a vegetable or two. For years, I thought that eating a vegetarian diet meant bland, texture-less food that would cost me a fortune. With a sister and fiancée who have vegetarian diets, I quickly learned that it didn’t need to be that way. Here are the ways that I add extra flavor to vegetarian meals.

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Wine

There’s a reason that nearly every chef on The Food Network has a stockpile of wine in his or her kitchen. Both red and white wine can add another layer of flavor and body to an otherwise run-of-the-mill dish. White wine goes great in butter/cheese sauces, risottos and simple pasta dishes. Red wine is typically better suited for heartier dishes like stews or tomato-based sauces.

Citrus

Have you ever cooked a meal that tasted pretty good, but left you feeling like something was missing? I’ve found that a lot of time that something “extra” is citrus. I’m a big fan of all types of citrus and have an especially weak spot for limes. I’ve been cooking for years and feel as though lemons, in particular, can add a welcome brightness to most dishes and cuisines. Limes on the other hand are more tart and lend themselves to different types of cuisine like Mexican and some types of Asian cuisines.

Spices

This may seem like a no-brainer, but even my vegetarian-for-three-years sister has difficulty combining spices. Spices alone can seem very intimidating, never mind when you combine multiple spices together. However, spices contain so much flavor in their condensed form that you’re doing yourself a disservice by turning a blind eye to them. Spices are especially fantastic for vegetarians for a few reasons: they are widely available, typically cost effective and add a lot of flavor. I understand that the spice aisle can be intimidating, especially when you’re first building your spice collection, here are a few I recommend starting out with: garlic powder, red pepper flakes, dried basil and bay leaves (in addition to your run-of-the-mill salt & pepper).

Cooking low & slow

Let me point out the obvious: cooking food at a low temperature for a long period of time (slow) is time consuming. As most of us are college students, we can be pretty short on spare time. However, if you’re seeking to thrill your taste buds with extra flavor, I highly recommend trying this method at least once. Cooking low and slow allows for the ingredients to develop deeper flavors and come together as a pretty spectacular final dish. However, this isn’t suited for every single meal, but does apply to many staples: risotto, pasta sauces, chili, soup, and stew, just to name a few.

These are the ways that I add flavor to the vegetarian meals I cook on the regular. I’d love to hear other ways that you add flavor to your meals (both vegetarian and not). Feel free to leave me your tip down in the comments or shoot me an email at mylittleboxoftricks@gmail.com!

Such great tips from Kristine!  I know I’ll be trying them out ASAP—my diet could use some more lime. 🙂  Be sure to check out her blog and social media to check out some more wonderful content!

 

“Crazy, but that’s how it goes….”

“Crazy, but that’s how it goes;  millions of people living as foes.   Maybe it’s not too late to learn how to love, and forget how to hate…. Mental wounds not healing; life’s a bitter shame.  I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train….” –Ozzy Osbourne, Crazy Train

I’ve been slacking a bit in blog-land lately—sorry, guys.

But I promise I have good reason.

Simply put, life has been CRAZY.

Prepping for abroad is hard work.  Not that I expected an easy time of it, but gosh.

Who needs sleep, anyway?

With my current state of insanity in mind, I’m super excited to have Kristine from My Little Box of Tricks around for a guest post later this week!  It’s going to be pretty great (I’ve seen it already, so I can tell you that much for certain! 🙂 )

Want to get to know her in the meantime?  Check out her blog (linked above) and….

Facebook,

Twitter,

Instagram,

Pinterest,

and Google+!

And, if you’re really sad about not hearing from me for a while, check out my Study Abroad Tumblr here.

Piece by Piece.

“And all I remember is your back walking towards the airport, leaving us all in your past.  I travelled fifteen hundred miles to see you, begged you to want me, but you didn’t want to.  But piece by piece he collected me up off the ground, where you abandoned things and piece by piece he filled the holes that you burned in me at six years old and, you, know, he never walks away, he never asks for money, he takes care of me, he loves me.  Piece by piece he restored my faith that a man could be kind and a father could stay….”  –Kelly Clarkson,  Piece by Piece

 I’ve hinted at it a few times now (some more obviously than others), but I recently had my name legally changed to my dad (and, subsequently, my family)’s last name.
…and, I changed my first name.
This has been met with a lot of questions, naturally.  What better place to explain than TO&E?
First, some context.  About 22 years ago, my mom was seeing her high school boyfriend again.  Suddenly, she was having a baby (but actually, it was a complete surprise when she suddenly had a seizure and went into labour [I was a complicated baby].  It’s more complicated than you’d think!).  Now, while she was in the ICU (I told you, complicated), the father named the baby—giving her his last name and a family first name.
That would be me.
Now, Mom never blatantly hated the name (to my knowledge), but I did. After this “father” disappeared, we launched into a years-long custody battle with his parents:  obviously, Mom was “keeping me away from them;”  it had nothing to do with the fact that I hated them as much as I did him.
 Fast forward just a bit, and I’m in kindergarten.  Now, my mom is dating a man named Chris.  I like Chris.  Eventually, the two of them get married.  But adoption is expensive and we have more important things to pay for—like my new baby sister.  So, I remain a Sebock unofficially.
 My grandfather—Dad’s dad—desperately wants to formally change my name:  adoption, the whole nine yards.  But being a minor complicates things, and issues like signing away parental rights on the biological side come into play.  Before we can try it out, Pop passes away.
Simultaneously, we have the first day of school each year.  Teachers, not knowing any better, call “Julia,” or worse, my full name.  I can’t say “it’s Jules quickly enough.”  Every time, I hear it in the “grandmother”‘s voice.  Every time, I feel a little more sick.
Finally, I get fed up.  Finally, I do the research.  Finally, I get it done.
So now I’m Juliette—still Jules, but no more first day of school sickness.  Now I’m a *real* member of the family, though I’d hardly been treated as anything less.  Now we feel like a legitimate family.
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Shout out to my former roommate for helping me make a “birth certificate” to surprise my Dad.  I’m told I topped all birthday presents for eternity!