8 artists i’m loving lately

I have been on the lookout for a print or piece of art for a blank wall of our guest bedroom for almost a year now. My search has taken so long partially because I’m picky and want the piece to be perfect, and partially because I know it will be an investment and if I’m going to spend a good amount of money I want to LOVE it. On this quest to find my dream artwork, I have found some great artists, some of them small, some of them more well known. There are many more out there that I haven’t had the chance to see, but I wanted to share some of my recent favorites.

8 Artists I'm Loving Lately | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.comphoto via Brooke Chamblee

Melody Joy McMunn – Melody Joy Art is my current art crush. I am a sucker for a good abstract, especially when it involves blues, and she has so much beautiful work in that category. I have my eye on one of her pieces and a birthday coming up, so we’ll see how it turns out ;)

Morgan Rollinson – Morgan is a local artist in the Triangle. Though I’m sure she doesn’t remember me, I actually met Morgan briefly at the Southern Weddings gingerbread barn building competition when she was working for the company. I love her fun citrus and greenery paintings (locals, find her work at FINDS in Raleigh).

Rachael Bush – Rachael is another local Triangle artist (locals, you can find her at the Midtown Farmers Market in North Hills). Though I don’t know her personally, I went to middle school and college with her cousins. Her abstracts, florals, and beautiful calligraphy always get me heart-eyed.

Anna Vaughn – The third and final local Triangle artist in this post, Anna Vaughn dubs herself a Southern expressionist artist, and creates beautiful abstract landscapes (locals, find her work at ArtSpace in Raleigh until April 28th!). I love how she uses unexpected colors and brushstrokes to depict landscapes in different ways. And an interesting fact: she and Rachael Bush (above) are related!

Blakely Made – Moving a little further south to Charleston, we find Blakely Little of Blakely Made. I’m not sure how I found her, but have followed Blakely on Instagram for a long time. I love her fun take on sailboats, landscapes, and monochromatic scenes. The marshy landscapes and front porch railings in her paintings take me right to the Charleston shores where she paints.

Theresa Losa – Theresa Losa is a more well known artist than some of the women listed above, selling some of her artwork at Serena and Lily. While her pieces are definitely out of my budget, and not quite in my decorating scheme, her linear and abstract ski and swim paintings are so fun and so original!

Kim Collinson – Another wonderful abstract artist is Kim Collinson. I love her style and the way she layers the paint on her canvases. Her work is sold on One Kings Lane and Serena and Lily, and is again well out of my price range, but still so beautiful to admire.

EMYO – The last artist on the list is Emily of EMYO. Emily is an impressionist who creates gorgeous scenes and fun florals typically with more muted, but beautiful, colors. I love her boat and park scenes.

our favorite Trader Joe’s items

Trader Joe’s is a magical place.

Our Favorite Trader Joe's Items | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

There wasn’t a Trader Joe’s near our house growing up, but I took fiddling lessons in the same shopping center as one of their stores in high school. After my lessons, my dad and I would pick up a fun snack for the 35-minute car ride home. It wasn’t until I began grocery shopping on my own that I realized Trader Joe’s is great for so many more items than just car snacks (though it is a mecca for those too). Now, Will and I stop by our local TJ’s as part of our weekly grocery shopping trip to pick up some of our favorite Trader Joe’s items. Some of these items are only sold at Trader Joe’s, but for those that are sold elsewhere, we find that Trader Joe’s has the best price or our favorite version of the product.

  • Almond butter – we get the unsalted version and the only ingredient is almonds!
  • Apples – we love the bags of Honeycrisps or individual Pink Lady apples (sometimes called Cripps Pink)
  • Clementine cranberry sparkling water – the best sparkling water flavor they sell, in our opinion
  • Pound plus dark chocolate bars – I chop these to use in cookies instead of, or in addition to, chocolate chips. The chocolate is delicious and melts better than chocolate chips.
  • Raw nuts – typically almonds and pecans, but I love that they carry hard-to-find raw cashews and hazelnuts
  • Brussels sprouts on the stalk (when in season)
  • Flowers – they have great prices on cut flowers and plants!
  • “Just Mango Slices” – dried mangos without any additional sweeteners
  • Other dried fruits – we especially love the apricots
  • Peanut butter filled pretzels – these were one of my favorite post-run snacks when I was training for my marathon
  • Dried lentils – these make for a quick, filling dish!
  • Cheese isn’t a staple on our list, but we like to pick up cheese from Trader Joe’s when we host people for dinner or when we make a special dish. Trader Joe’s has a pretty good selection and their cheeses are often less expensive than they are at other stores.

What are your favorite Trader Joe’s items? What should we add to our list?

coconut cream pie

I have three favorite pies: chocolate chess pie, bourbon chocolate chip pecan pie, and coconut cream pie. Not just any coconut cream pie, but the kind with a flaky crust, golden toasted coconut, rich, pastry cream-like coconut filling, and the fluffiest homemade whipped cream. My love of coconut cream pie is not necessarily because of my southern background, as we never made them at home, but my location definitely enabled my exposure to and exuberance for the delicious pie.

This classic coconut cream pie has a perfectly flaky crust, rich, coconut pastry cream filling, fluffy homemade whipped cream, golden-toasted coconut, and a side of good 'ol nostalgia. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

This classic coconut cream pie has a perfectly flaky crust, rich, coconut pastry cream filling, fluffy homemade whipped cream, golden-toasted coconut, and a side of good 'ol nostalgia. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

This classic coconut cream pie has a perfectly flaky crust, rich, coconut pastry cream filling, fluffy homemade whipped cream, golden-toasted coconut, and a side of good 'ol nostalgia. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

After a particularly rough day during my freshman year of college, I called my mom to vent, talk, and probably cry. She worked about 30 minutes away, which was far enough that I didn’t see her very often, but close enough that she could come over if I needed her to. This arrangement was great for laundry, rides home, and on this particular day, pie. That day, when I was in a typical freshman slump, she dropped everything, picked me up from my dorm, and took me down the road to Foster’s Market where we each picked out a slice of pie to share with each other. There isn’t much that one-on-one time with mum and a slice of pie can’t fix.

This classic coconut cream pie has a perfectly flaky crust, rich, coconut pastry cream filling, fluffy homemade whipped cream, golden-toasted coconut, and a side of good 'ol nostalgia. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

This classic coconut cream pie has a perfectly flaky crust, rich, coconut pastry cream filling, fluffy homemade whipped cream, golden-toasted coconut, and a side of good 'ol nostalgia. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

This classic coconut cream pie has a perfectly flaky crust, rich, coconut pastry cream filling, fluffy homemade whipped cream, golden-toasted coconut, and a side of good 'ol nostalgia. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

We continued this tradition of going out for pie to catch up during the semester even after freshman year and deemed these outings our “pie dates.” After years of picking out pie from the cold chest at Foster’s coconut cream pie was always our favorite. To this day, years after graduation, we still go out on pie dates. We have added new pies and new restaurants to the mix, but when coconut cream pie is on the menu, you better believe it will be on our table.

This classic coconut cream pie has a perfectly flaky crust, rich, coconut pastry cream filling, fluffy homemade whipped cream, golden-toasted coconut, and a side of good 'ol nostalgia. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

This classic coconut cream pie has a perfectly flaky crust, rich, coconut pastry cream filling, fluffy homemade whipped cream, golden-toasted coconut, and a side of good 'ol nostalgia. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

I hadn’t had a great cream pie until those pie dates. Not everyone in my family likes coconut, so coconut-filled desserts were not something we tried very often at home, but because we had access to many great restaurants who serve a good southern cream pie, I still say that my southern location enabled my love for coconut cream pie.

This coconut cream pie is based heavily on my memories of my first Foster’s Market pie. With it’s buttery, flaky crust, thick coconut pastry cream filling, delicious homemade whipped cream topping, and a side of good ‘ol nostalgia, it is forever my favorite.

Coconut Cream Pie
Pie
3 cups half-and-half
¼ cup cornstarch, sifted
4 eggs
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
3 tablespoons butter
1 9-inch pie dough

Topping
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
coconut flakes/chips, toasted

Pie
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Press your pie crust against the sides and bottom of a pie dish. Fold a layer of the crust under at the top of the pie dish and pinch to create the edge of your pie crust. Cover the pie dough with aluminum foil or parchment paper and weight it down with dry beans or pie weights. Bake the pie crust 10-12 minutes, or until golden. Set aside to cool completely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine ½ cup of the half-and-half and the cornstarch. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix the remaining 2 ½ cups half-and-half, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Bring the mixture to a low boil, stirring every now and then until the sugar dissolves. Slowly pour 1 cup of the sugar mixture into the egg mixture while whisking. Whisking constantly, pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the sugar mixture. Continually whisking, cook over low heat until thick, about 5-8 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the butter until melted, then the coconut. Let the filling cool slightly before filling the pie crust.

After it has cooled a bit, pour the filling into the cooled pie shell and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Whipped Cream and Assembly
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the cream until loose peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and whip until stiff peaks form. When you are ready to serve the pie, top it with the whipped cream and toasted coconut.

This classic coconut cream pie has a perfectly flaky crust, rich, coconut pastry cream filling, fluffy homemade whipped cream, golden-toasted coconut, and a side of good 'ol nostalgia. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

lemon poppy seed coconut macaroons

Coconut is a divisive ingredient. I am obviously strongly on team coconut, but a few members of my family are vehemently opposed to the contentious ingredient appearing in any recipe. I get it, but I will forever continue to make coconut goodies for the good of the rest of us ;) Sometimes I can hide coconut in recipes (like granola or coconut cake), but coconut macaroons are all about showcasing the white flakes of goodness.

Lemon poppy seed coconut macaroons are crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and surprisingly simple to make!| Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Lemon poppy seed coconut macaroons are crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and surprisingly simple to make!| Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Coconut macaroons have the perfect balance of textures – crunchy on the outside, but moist and chewy on the inside. With only a few ingredients, they are so simple to make. This lemon poppy seed version is packed with fresh, zesty citrus flavor that combines with the coconut for a wonderful spring treat. As with most coconut macaroons, this lemon poppyseed version is Passover-friendly, for those of you celebrating! (more…)

april goals

Happy April! April is my favorite month of the year – the temperatures are finally warm, flowers and trees are blooming, and my birthday rounds out the month perfectly ;)

2018 april goals | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

After what seems like a longer winter than usual, I’m so excited to finally have some spring weather. Sometimes I don’t even realize it until spring arrives, but the warmer weather, longer days, and colorful blooming plants all really improve my mood. I just want to be outside all the time! I always feel like the start of spring and changing season is a great time to reevaluate and set new goals too. I’m excited for April, and for all it has in store (hopefully a lot of time outside!)!

March Goals
– Celebrate Will’s birthday! – Yay, 26!
Cut sugar for one week (I have gotten into a bad habit of wanting something sweet daily). – I did this the week before my marathon.
– Wake up early enough to enjoy a slow morning before work at least two days a week. “Slow morning” meaning I have at least 15 minutes of free time before/after getting ready for the day. – This was rough after daylight savings time hit, but definitely got better throughout the month! For the last two weeks I added “slow a.m.” to each day of my agenda, which was a great reminder and made it much easier to track. I loved these slow mornings and will definitely be adding this to my goals list again.
– Run a marathon!!! Eek! I’m so excited and so nervous about this one, but I have done my best to train for it over the past few months. – Yay, yay, yay! I did it! I ran a marathon! Of all of my goals, monthly, yearly, and long-term, this is one of the ones that I am most proud to accomplish!
– Enjoy our weekend in D.C. – Our weekend in D.C. was so wonderful and so much fun! I kicked it off with the marathon and we were able to spend time with lots of family and friends.
– Do core strengthening exercises at least twice a week. Because I have been focusing on running lately, I haven’t been very good at incorporating other exercises. I know core strengthening will help prevent injuries and improve my balance while running and while going about my days. – I didn’t do this before I ran my marathon on the 10th, but I’m considering it a success because I added 2-3 days of toning exercises a week after that, which was more than half the month.
– Post the rest of our Paris pictures. – See part I, part II, and part III!
– Do less Instagram scrolling. There are so many other things I could be doing, but I have gotten into the habit of checking Instagram whenever I am on the bus, walking home, or waiting for something (i.e. water to boil, bus to arrive, etc.). I know I could be more productive if I wasn’t directing my attention to the app. – I may have scrolled a bit less, but overall, I wouldn’t consider this one a success. Adding it to the list again this month.
– Print and frame photos from Paris. – Bonus, I hung two of them too!
– Get in bed by 11:00 pm four nights a week. I would love to add “get more sleep” to this list of goals, but I’m going to start small with the task of just getting in bed. If this is successful, maybe next month we can graduate to actually getting more sleep ;) – I accomplished getting in bed by 11 most nights a week, but definitely wasn’t near asleep. Since this went well, I’m hoping to do even better this month and actually get more sleep!

April Goals
– Continue to stick to a workout routine that makes me feel good with toning and running (maybe add biking back to this as the weather gets nicer!)
– Take weekly walks
– Plant herbs and veggies
– Finish our back patio area
– Celebrate my birthday! :)
– Get in bed by 10:45 p.m. and get to sleep by 11:15 p.m. (not just in bed) four nights a week
– Do less Instagram scrolling
– Do something or try somewhere new!

loving lately

I’m popping in for something I haven’t done in a while: a quick round up of things I have been loving lately. These are totally random, but have caught my eye lately so I thought I would share!

Loving Lately: Cadbury Mini Eggs | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

1. Ruffle sleeved floral dresses. Everytime I see a floral spring dress I think of the line in The Devil Wears Prada, “florals for spring? Groundbreaking.” While that sarcastic statement plays out in real life every year, I am a sucker for this beautiful floral shirtdress at LOFT, this navy ruffle sleeve floral dress from Draper James this year.

2. Athleta leggings. I have been on the hunt for a new pair of cropped or mesh panel leggings, and love so many of the pairs Athleta has out right now. This pair, this pair, and this pair are top cropped contenders, and this long pair and this 7/8 pair are making me want to change my mind about the length. The stripes are probably my favorite, which is absolutely no surprise to anyone who knows me.

3. Found/Tonight. I have been listening to this song Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt made together in support of March for Our Lives on repeat. Listening to this song with the speeches and images from the March for Our Lives is so moving.

4. Cadbury mini eggs. As you may have been able to tell, I am on a Cadbury mini egg kick. They are only out for a little longer, so us Cadbury mini-egg lovers have to get them while we can!

5. Lake pajamas. This long-short set in mini-stripes

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carrot cake banana bread

I love having a quick bread recipe up my sleeve to have on hand for visiting guests, bring as a hostess gift when we travel, or just have as a snack on special weeks. My go-to quick bread in the fall is pumpkin chocolate chip bread, but that doesn’t really work as well in the spring. This carrot cake banana bread is a cross between indulgent carrot cake (one of my favorites) and moist, delicious, familiar banana bread and is perfect for spring or this Easter weekend.

This healthier carrot cake banana bread is the perfect cross between indulgent carrot cake and moist, delicious familiar banana bread and makes a great spring breakfast or snack. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

This healthier carrot cake banana bread is the perfect cross between indulgent carrot cake and moist, delicious familiar banana bread and makes a great spring breakfast or snack. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

This healthier carrot cake banana bread is the perfect cross between indulgent carrot cake and moist, delicious familiar banana bread and makes a great spring breakfast or snack. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Growing up, my Mimi always made banana bread to have with weekend breakfasts. She brought them to our house when she visited and always had a fresh loaf ready when we arrived at her house. Throughout the morning as we were preparing breakfast, people would snack on the bread, slowly chipping away at it until we would inevitably have to pull out another loaf to actually serve with the meal. Her banana bread is the best, but I’m convinced she is the only one who can make it taste that good.

This healthier carrot cake banana bread is the perfect cross between indulgent carrot cake and moist, delicious familiar banana bread and makes a great spring breakfast or snack. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

This healthier carrot cake banana bread is the perfect cross between indulgent carrot cake and moist, delicious familiar banana bread and makes a great spring breakfast or snack. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

I wanted to have the familiarity of banana bread that everyone knows, but with a new spring twist. Combining it with carrot cake is the perfect way to achieve that!

This carrot cake banana bread is the best of both worlds. The carrots and bananas provide such great moisture and natural sweetness, making this healthier than the typical banana bread. More excused to eat half of the loaf in one sitting, right? Is that just me?

This healthier carrot cake banana bread is the perfect cross between indulgent carrot cake and moist, delicious familiar banana bread and makes a great spring breakfast or snack. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

This healthier carrot cake banana bread is the perfect cross between indulgent carrot cake and moist, delicious familiar banana bread and makes a great spring breakfast or snack. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

While it is good any way you slice it, for breakfast, snack, or dessert, my favorite way to have this carrot cake banana bread is to toast a thick piece. It crisps up slightly on the outside while the middle is still soft and warm – the perfect pairing to morning coffee or tea.

Head over to Lexi’s blog to find the recipe for this carrot cake banana bread. If you make this recipe, I’d love to see it! Make sure to tag me on Instagram (@hopehwoodhouse) so I can see your delicious creations!

This healthier carrot cake banana bread is the perfect cross between indulgent carrot cake and moist, delicious familiar banana bread and makes a great spring breakfast or snack. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

This healthier carrot cake banana bread is the perfect cross between indulgent carrot cake and moist, delicious familiar banana bread and makes a great spring breakfast or snack. | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

milk chocolate cadbury mini egg cookies

I am so excited to share these Cadbury mini egg cookies today!

Milk chocolate Cadbury Mini Egg cookies are the perfect spring treat! | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Milk chocolate Cadbury Mini Egg cookies are the perfect spring treat! | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

I recently learned that Cadbury mini eggs are not as revered by everyone as I think they should be. Some people (cough, Will) think they are gross and merely nostalgic, and when I brought them up in another crowd people thought I was talking about the Cadbury creme eggs and (gasp) had never heard of the far superior Cadbury mini eggs!!!! Can you believe it!? If you have never heard of this magical dream candy, consider this your revelation. All other Easter candy could fall by the wayside and, as long as Cadbury mini eggs still existed, I would be fine. Okay, maybe keep the Reese’s eggs too. (more…)

paris, part III

I’m back with the final installment of our Paris trip! In case you missed it, here is Paris: part I, with the Eiffel Tower and a few other main tourist attractions, and Paris: part II, with our art museum tours.

While our whole trip was wonderful, the experiences in this post are probably my favorites.

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

This was the early morning view from our apartment. Cue all of the heart eyes. See that tiny purple awning at the bottom of the street? That is the local patisserie – the only thing open this early in the morning. We popped down the road to pick up croissants a few mornings during our stay and it was such a fun treat :)

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

As I mentioned in the last post, January in Paris was filled with wind and rain. I had plans to run in the mornings before we got our day started, but with pitch-black skies, freezing cold temperatures, and pouring rain, the weather altered those plans most days. However, Will and I were able to get out and run two of the early mornings we were there and created one of my favorite experiences from the whole trip. Our apartment in the Latin Quarter was just over half a mile from the Seine River. We made our way to a green space lining the river, learning along the way that Parisians don’t do anything early, which meant we had the quiet streets, sidewalks, and river mostly to ourselves. From our area of the Seine, we could look down the river and see Notre Dame rising up from the small island in the middle of the river. The “City of Lights” has the same schedule as the rest of the Parisians – even the spotlights on Notre Dame were off at a very dark 7:30am. We ran along the quiet side of the river to the beautiful cathedral, passing only a few other morning runners once we got onto the island and circled the church. Can you imagine if that was your regular running route?! As we turned around to head home the bells began to ring, announcing the next hour to the sleepy city. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and one that we made sure to repeat the next day.

The poor quality photo above was taken on our phones after a run to Notre Dame, ending at our local patisserie where we picked up morning pastries for my family. In my mind, nothing gets better than that. No matter the quality of that photo, the memory that goes along with it is perfect.

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Later in the week we went back to Notre Dame to tour the inside of the building. We received great advice to find the free English tour and ended up with a great tour guide who knew the ins and outs of the cathedral, it’s history, and the religious meaning of each detail. If you are at all interested in Notre Dame, I definitely recommend the free tour!

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Two of my other favorite memories from the trip came from our day in Le Marais and from our trip to Marché d’Aligre. Le Marais is a wonderful area of Paris, away from most of the tourist attractions. One reason walking around this area was a highlight of the trip was because we got to explore true French shops and walk around the streets with no plans other than to take in the lovely Parisian architecture, tasty food, and authentic French culture. We felt like we were locals for a day. To kick off the day, we made our way to the famous Merci shop. I’m a sucker for a good coffee shop or café, and the aesthetics of Merci did not disappoint. Unfortunately, they were in the process of de-decorating for Christmas so the classic red car was on the street instead of in the courtyard. With a view like this though, I can’t complain.

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

We had heard about the great food scene in Le Marais, and after many recommendations, enjoyed a lunch of amazing falafel pitas from the famous L’as Du Falafel. I absolutely recommend this to everyone – our entire family loved this! Throughout the day we popped into chocolate shops, a French interior design store, and the cutest tearoom with the best hot chocolate on the trip (depending on which family member you ask ;)). After being on the go at busy tourist attractions for a few days, it was the perfect slow, relaxing day away from the crowds.

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

As evening approached, we traversed the arrondissement to pick up dinner supplies at Marché d’Aligre. While my parents picked up a rotisserie chicken and the potatoes that had been roasting in the rotisserie drippings (very common in the French markets), my sister and I searched for a few good cheeses for us to have for hors d’oeuvres. The sweet Frenchman at one of the larger cheese stands spoke very little English, which gave my sister and I a chance to use our years of French classes. It was a short interaction, but a fun one for all parties involved. Every time we walked into a store or a restaurant, we would try to speak to the vendors in French, but they would inevitably switch to English when they could tell we weren’t picking up as quickly as a native would. This cheese monger spoke so little English that we were excited to be able to speak his language, even if our French wasn’t perfect, and he was glad we could communicate with him in French. We didn’t know what kind of cheeses he had or what we should get, but we were able to work our way through the interaction and came away with some of the most delicious cheeses! It was such a brief moment in the trip, but one of the most authentic and fun ones. We brought our market goodies back to our Airbnb and grabbed a few fresh baguettes and some wine on the way home for another simple, but wonderful experience. Just relaxing together in our pajamas with French cheese, wine and baguettes was perfection. It doesn’t always take fancy restaurants and elaborate attractions to form the best memories, and that evening was the perfect proof of that.

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Lastly, while Sacre Coeur and Monmartre are extremely touristy, seeing all of the artists in the Monmartre Square is something I always love. We made our way through the crazy crowds and picked up two small sketches from a street artist, one of the Eiffel Tower and one of Notre Dame. I can’t wait to frame and display them as a reminder of the wonderful time we had and great memories we made.

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

We packed a lot of adventures and attractions into one week, but had such a great time along the way. Since there may be things I didn’t cover in these already lengthy posts, I’m listing everything we did below, in case you need recommendations for your next trip to the City of Lights.

Where we stayed:
The Latin Quarter (5th arrondissement) near the Pantheon. We stayed near a metro stop, purchased metro passes, and found it very easy to get everywhere we wanted to go.

Sites we saw:
Eiffel Tower (the line was hours long so we didn’t go up in it)
Arc de Triomphe (again, the line was very long so we didn’t go up in it)
Pantheon
Sacre Coeur
Monmartre (very touristy, but fun to see the street artists at work)
Notre Dame (the free tour here was great!)*
Musée Louvre
Musée L’Orangerie*
Jardin des Tuileries
Jardin du Luxembourg
Le Bon Marche*
Palais Royale
Pont Neuf
Le Marais and Saint Paul neighborhoods*

*denotes favorite sites

Favorite places we ate:
L’as Du Falafel
La Contrescarpe

Hot chocolate reviews:
– Angelina Patisserie – Sipping chocolate, very thick and extremely rich; my dad’s favorite
– Le Loir dans la Théière – Tearoom in Le Marais; the closest to regular hot chocolate (rather than sipping chocolate) we had the whole time; my favorite
– Carette – A café behind the Eiffel Tower; sipping chocolate so thick you need to order whipped cream to cut the richness of the chocolate flavor
– Bread and Roses – Sipping chocolate, thick, but addicting; my second favorite

Favorite memories/activities:
– Hearing the bells ring on an early morning run to Notre Dame
– Partnering with Lane and using our French to get food from French merchants in the market
– Enjoying a wine, cheese, jam, and fresh baguette course in our Airbnb apartment before dinners
– Eating fresh bread and croissants from the corner patisseries

healthy tomato soup

Can we talk about this weather? It is the oddest. Over the weekend the sun was out, the temperature was perfect, and we were walking around in short-sleeves. Tomorrow there is a wintery mix in the forecast. What is this craziness? Some of my northern friends may joke about this, but having lived in North Carolina my whole life I can safely say that I have never seen wintery weather this late in the season before. While I am more than ready for spring weather, the cold temperatures and nasty weather give me another excuse to keep making my favorite homemade tomato soup.

Healthy Tomato Soup | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Healthy Tomato Soup | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Tomato soup is my go-to cold weather recipe. There is something so warm and comforting about it. This version is so easy and makes enough for multiple dinners and lunches, which I always appreciate because it means less lunch prep for the rest of the week (yay!). Over the past few months, we have made a big batch of it on Sunday night and packed it in lunches or heated it up for nights when we both had late classes or work events. Because it is also quick to throw together, we try to keep all of the ingredients on hand for nights when we want to veer off the meal plan to save time.

Healthy Tomato Soup | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Healthy Tomato Soup | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

One of my favorite snow day meals is grilled cheese and tomato soup, and with so much more snow than usual this year, I feel like I have the combo down pat. I can throw together this soup in less than 30 minutes and let it simmer as I slowly cook the perfect grilled cheese to use for dipping. With a surprising protein-packed addition and no cream in sight, this soup is a healthy alternative to the typical creamy tomato soup, but still delicious enough to eat for multiple meals a week.

Healthy Tomato Soup | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Healthy Tomato Soup | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Find my recipe for this healthy tomato soup over on Lexi’s blog. If you make this recipe, make sure to tag me (@hopehwoodhouse) on Instagram – I’d love to see!

Healthy Tomato Soup | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

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