30 July 2015

Happy end of July! If you're anything like me you've probably been spending the entire month inside trying to avoid the sun. Yes, I did dip in the pool a few times this month but let's face it, July in Texas is not ideal. This month I've been doing a ton of working and a ton of reading. I managed to book a few up and coming trips for the fall so stayed tuned for that! As for my monthly favorites, let's get right to it!


Spin Class | When I first moved back to Texas it was Spring, and I found myself running outside. However, May came and the torrential downpour that lasted for weeks on end prevented me from going outside to workout. When the sun finally showed itself again it was June and it was too hot to even sit outside let alone run. I stumbled across Revolution Studios on Instagram and I decided to give this spin studio a go. I had signed up for spin in college but it turned out to be a huge waste of money as I barely went. After my first class at Revolution about a month ago I was hooked. The instructors are SO motivating and the atmosphere is amazing. Yay for spin class!

Postagram | This nifty little app is a favorite of mine. As I am in a long distance relationship I try to send snail mail to Jon every couple of weeks, just as it's something nice and different to do. Postagram has made my life so much easier. Instead of going to the post office every time I want to send a card I can do everything right on my phone! This app lets you create a customized postcard, pop out picture included! It's a really neat app and I have to say I use it pretty frequently!

Bath & Body Works Candles | One of the best things about living in America is I can burn candles again. My candle collection is overflowing thanks to Bath & Body Works. Every time I step into this store there are at least 8 new candles on the selves I haven't tried. My favorites right now? Praline Pecan Cobbler and Amsterdam Tulips & Windmills (stereotypes smell good, okay?).

Smoothies | If you haven't noticed (and if you haven't I'll smack you across the head), it is hot outside. Like, ridiculously HOT. I'm taking 102F/39C hot. My favorite way to cool down at the moment is to grab a smoothie. I still haven't mastered the art of creating my own delicious smoothie at home (I'm not the most skilled person in the kitchen) so I have found myself frequenting Jamba Juice this month.

Snapchat | While I have been using Snapchat for years I've finally realized it is time to use it to it's fullest potential. I'm opening it up to YOU! Add me at sararosedavis to see what I get up to on the 'reg' (so hip, I know).


+ Now until the end of August use the code AGOLDENSUMMER to receive 15% off all ads purchased on Of Golden Roses!

+ When bae asks if you can dance, aka the best video I've come across this month by far. 

+ I'm so thrilled with the support the ss Great Britain is getting for its new attraction. If you don't know what the ss Great Britain is, it's an living history attraction that I had the pleasure of working for while living in Bristol. 

+ Shout out to Elle who has been posting some dream worthy travel posts this month! 

What are some of your favorites this month??

Happy Thursday!

2015 Reading Update | 3

27 July 2015

When I set my goal of reading 50 books in 2015 I thought there was no way. Yet as July comes to an end I am just finishing up my 31st book of the year and I am beyond excited. I can't even believe at how much I have accomplished! As always, you can keep up with what I'm reading on Goodreads but for now let's dive straight into the books I've been reading lately!

I had seen Rowling's Harvard commencement speech online some years ago, so I was pleased to see the speech had been published in print. Rowling's story is both emotional and inspiring. Her message to embrace life's failures can leave you feeling like you can do anything. The entire book can be read in less than 20 minutes, but proceeds go to charity so buy it and support a good cause!
Goodreads | Amazon

The Opposite of Loneliness is a compilation of both fictional and non-fictional essays written Mariana Keegan. Keegan was a promising young writer who died five days after her graduation from Yale. Her talent was unique because she wrote stories that people her age could relate to. I enjoyed both the range of each essay as well as the length Keegan's family and friends went through to preserve her legacy. This book will make you smile and cry, but most importantly it will make you realize how much you can accomplish no matter how young you are.
Goodreads | Amazon

PAPER TOWNS | John Green
I had originally read this book a couple of years ago, however with the movie being released this month I decided to reread it. John Green is an exceptional writer and his books are both unique and realistic. Paper Towns is my favorite of his books due to themes of getting lost and addressing the distorted perceptions you create of the people around you. If you're looking for the perfect summer read, I suggest buying this book and bringing it with you to the beach. It's a very light read.
Goodreads | Amazon

This book turned out to be something completely different than what I was expecting. On an ordinary day just like any other a woman notices something odd while commuting on the train into London. Her life suddenly becomes intertwined with an open investigation of two people she has never even met. I'll admit, the characters Hawkins created are some of the most dislikable characters I have ever been introduced to, but that is what makes this novel entertaining. There's no sugar-coating, no fluff. The characters are realistic and can relate to almost any reader on some level. Did I think this book lived up to its hype? No, but I did find it entertaining to read for the time being.
Goodreads | Amazon

On a recent trip to Dallas, Texas I downloaded Bossypants as my road trip entertainment. Having read Amy Poehler's Yes Please late last year I had high hopes for Tina Fey's book. Let me tell you, listening to Tina Fey tell her hilarious stories growing up had me cracking up the entire trip. Having watched Saturday Night Live from a very young age I was familiar with a lot of the skits she referred to as well as the people she mentioned. Do I think it was the most groundbreaking book I've ever read? No. But it was entertaining as hell and empowering for any woman who has been in the professional workforce.
Goodreads | Amazon

Until about a year ago I really hadn't read any Jane Austen other than Pride and Prejudice. However, after picking up Sense & Sensibility I have been loving reading all things Jane Austen. Northanger Abbey has become one of my favorite Austen novels by far. In typical Austen fashion the story follows a young woman looking for love and friendship. However, she has to overcome a few hilarious roadblocks in order to achieve both. The characters in Abbey were developed and relatable, and the plot was funny yet heartrenching. I particularly enjoyed reading all about Bath society, since I have the pleasure to say I am very familiar with Bath indeed.
Goodreads | Amazon

I originally read this novel as a 14 year old high school student with no appreciation for American literature. In anticipation for the release of Go Set A Watchman, I decided to reread To Kill A Mockingbird. I can honestly say I absolutely adore this book and appreciate it so much more now as an adult.
Goodreads | Amazon

I had heard so many good things about this book, yet I was weary of the idea of reading a World War II novel. My previous attempts in WWII fiction often resulted in me never finishing the novel, or setting it aside for months on end. However, the plot of All the Light We Cannot See fascinated me. The two main characters have so much depth that you can't help but be completely enchanted by their story. A blind French girl and an orphaned German boy are forced to grow up in a world where childhood no longer exists. At over 400 pages, I finished the book in less than three days. Possibly my favorite book of 2015 so far? I known bold statement.
Goodreads | Amazon

Where do I even begin? This highly anticipated "sequel" of To Kill A Mockingbird has been all anyone has been talking about for the last couple of weeks. I, like most everyone else who was a fan of Lee's first published novel, was excited beyond belief to read it. However, the further I got into GSAW the more I realized this book shouldn't have been presented as a sequel. In my opinion, it was in no condition to publish. Lee's writing is still exceptional however the plot lacks depth and contradicts TKAB entirely. I still don't know how I feel about it, but I do appreciate the fact that Go Set A Watchman does actually relate to a lot of issues we are facing in American society today.
Goodreads | Amazon

Happy Monday!

The Lost Pictures | Bristol

23 July 2015

During my short visit back to Bristol in February I found myself snapping away on a beautiful sunny morning. The Harbourside played an important role in my daily life when I was a resident of this busy city. I lived on the harbour, I walked along side it to work, and I would occasionally treat myself to a drink or two on one of the harbour's many overpriced cafes, restaurants, or bars. Standing on the harbour as a tourist rather than a resident was a strange feeling. I knew I had to take advantage it. 

It was Pancake Day (obviously a good day to remember) and although Elle and I couldn't find any pancakes in Bristol (don't worry, we found some in Bath) we stumbled across a few things that reminded me of why Bristol is generally awesome. From an interactive art instillation on Pero Bridge to a canal cruise on the Avon, Bristol is quite possibly the coolest city ever. Looking back on these pictures reminds me of how lucky I was to live in such a beautifully unique place. 

It would be a shame to let these pictures go to waste. I only recently stumbled across them. Although there are only a few, I thought anyone who has lived in Bristol, England would appreciate them as much as I do. 

Elle casually making an appearance on the blog as she does.

Check out some more awesome pictures of Bristol's Harbourside here.

Happy Thursday!

The Z Hotel Shoreditch | London

20 July 2015

Picking a hotel for my stay in London this summer was difficult to say the least. When I lived in England I would either stay with friends or stay somewhere touristy on the request of the guest who was visiting me at the time. However, this particular visit was different.  I wanted to avoid the tourist traps while simultaneously staying somewhere central and easy. Shoreditch quickly came to mind.

I had never been to London's hip neighborhood of Shoreditch and I was worried about getting ripped off on prices and/or quality. There were quite a few Shoreditch hotels that had been reviewed in the blogging world, but reviews varied drastically and I wasn't willing to pay that much.  Instead, I picked a reasonably priced hotel near Old Street Tube Station. 

The Z Hotel Shoredicth stood out to me for many reasons, but what set it apart from every other hotel in London was the affordable price and location. I had no difficultly finding it, and before we knew it we were opening the doors to a gorgeous modern room.

The Z Hotel Shoredicth had a lot to offer. The room was spacious yet presented creative ways to store our luggage. There was plenty of room under the bed for my bags and the walls had hooks and hangers for anything that needed hanging. The bathroom had shelves and hooks, and the shower was the perfect water pressure. The only thing I didn't like? At night the room could get a bit warm but we were in London during the summer, I'm just grateful there was air conditioning! Outside the room the halls were quiet and clean. In fact, the entire hotel was beyond tidy! But the best part about the stay? Each night the cafe downstairs offered complimentary wine and cheese. It was a brilliant concept that I can't rave about enough! 

The Z Hotel has locations in Victoria and Soho if you are looking for something more central, however our stay in Shoreditch proved to be both convenient and relaxing. 

The Best Things About Our Stay:
+ Free wine and cheese every evening in the cafe!
+ Clean, clean, clean!
+ Modern and open design. 
+ Easy access to the tube.
+ Some of the friendliest staff in a London hotel.
+ And of course, free WiFi!

For three nights in June the cost of my stay was 370 pounds, a bargain in my opinion for summer in London. 

Do I recommend this hotel?
Yes! If you are looking for something easy to get to and reasonably priced, the Z Hotel is perfect. In total I've stayed in seven London hotels. Although some are more luxurious I found the Z Hotel Shoredicth to be the most bang for your buck. It is luxury meets comfort. 

Website | Twitter | Tripadvisor 

*The Z Hotel offered me an upgraded room upon hearing of my review. However, all opinions are my own and I highly recommend this hotel to anyone looking for a reasonably priced hotel in an easy-access part of London. 

Good Eats | New Orleans

16 July 2015

The city of New Orleans was barely awake on a warm Saturday morning in May. My friend Kaitlyn and I slowly walked through sleepy Jackson Square discussing our full day ahead. From the Garden District to the French Quarter we had everything planned. How could we not? It was a beautiful day and New Orleans was full of possibilities. However, our stomachs were growling and a dilemma quickly arose. What the heck were we going to eat?

New Orleans is home to some of the best cuisines in the South. Louisiana cajun and creole is classic comfort food for me. The French Quarter is busting at the seems with original restaurants that offer world class dishes. Here is a list of what we ate on that warm Saturday in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Cafe Du Monde | Breakfast
Location | Jackson Square
Hours | Open 24 hours a day
What to eat | Beignets, a fried pastry topped with powdered sugar. It's the only thing on the menu!
Cafe du Monde is possibly one of the most famous eateries in New Orleans. Rightly so, everyone loves a good beignet! If you don't arrive before 8am expect to be standing in a long line. However it moves pretty quickly, or so it seemed, we arrived around 7:30am! A coffee and three beignets set me back about $5, so if you're looking for something classic and cheap I suggest stopping by!

Green Goddess | Lunch
Location | Exchange Place
Hours | 11:00am - 9:00pm Wednesday - Sunday
What to eat | Poached eggs, crawfish etoufee, and grits.
Green Goddess was a spot we stumbled upon while hangry. Tucked away on quite Exchange Place, the atmosphere is typical New Orleans. We sat outside in the May sun enjoying some classic home cooked creole while people watching whoever strolled down this lazy side street in the French Quarter. 

Chartres House | Dinner
Location | Chartres Street
Hours | 11:00am - 11:00pm 
What to eat | Fried bow tie pasta and spinach dip, followed by the classic shrimp platter. 
What to drink | Vodka pear lemonade 
Trying to pick a dinner place in New Orleans is nearly impossible. There are just too many options! When we finally decided Chartres Houses looked like a safe bet, we were pleased to find an open seating plan next to the French doors. We watched the activity of the French Quarter outside while sipping our Vodka Pear Lemonades, something that was highly recommended by our waiter and did not disappoint. Our appetizer was something I still dream about occasionally, and the fried shrimp was nothing short of perfect. 

What is your favorite comfort food?

Happy Thursday!

Four Days in London

13 July 2015

A few weeks back I hopped on a plane to England for the third time this year.  
With only four days free in my schedule, I managed to plan a short trip to London to relax, drink, but mainly see that English boyfriend of mine. 

So here's how it went: after a full day of work I raced over to the airport, parked my car, got a bus, checked my bag, and made it just in time to board my 9 hour flight. When I landed at Heathrow I met up with Jon (who had never even been to Heathrow I might add) and headed to our hotel in Shoredicth. It was an exhausting 24 hours to say the least. 

To be honest, I barely took any photos of my short trip back to the UK. It was a chance for Jon and I to see each other for the first time in four months so carrying my camera around really didn't cross my mind. I was having too much fun. I do have a couple of post about London coming your way within the next couple of weeks, but all in all I only have about 30 photos from the entire trip. 

Things I forgot about England:
1 | How much time you actually spend on the tube.
2 | A pint at 11am on a Thursday? No problem!
3 | English burgers > American burgers
4 | The sun doesn't go down until 10 - 11 pm. 
5 | Summer in England is still jeans and coat weather. 
6 | Anywhere in London on a Saturday is an absolute nightmare.
7 | Sitting in a pub for 3+ hours is perfectly acceptable. 
8 | You HAVE to watch where you are walking. Cobble stones are a real nightmare in heels.
9 | EVERYONE is going to say something weird when you hand them your Texas Driver's License such as "do you know Ronald Reagan?". 
10 | It is completely possible to have an amazing trip to a foreign country within a four day time period.

Happy Monday!

Two Years | A Blogiversary

09 July 2015

Of Golden Roses is officially two! How crazy is that? I remember writing my first post in the midst of a move, not really sure if blogging was going to be a thing I would actually stick to. Two years later and I can honestly say blogging is a huge part of who I am today.

So on this blogiversary I thought I'd share with you some of the most pivotal post from my past two years online (in chronological order).

The Awkward First Post
Hello Bristol!
The First Thoughts From Abroad
My Interview at BBC
My First German Christmas Market
Bristol Vibes
Touristy London
Climbing the Rigging of the ss Great Britain
 The Photo Hunt in London
Guinness Storehouse 
The London Eye at Sunset
Champagne in the Shard
Why I Blog & My 1 Year Blogiversary
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 
My First Exaptiversary
My Move Back Stateside
My Postgraduate Graduation 
Bristol In My Pocket is now Of Golden Roses
Why I Didn't 'Travel More'
2015 Reader Survey Results

Happy Thursday!

Party Like a Bad Mother Trucker | Dallas, Texas

06 July 2015

The best part about doing my undergraduate degree in the middle of nowhere Texas means I have friends all across the state. Whether it's Austin, San Antonio, Houston or Dallas, Texas Tech graduates are spread far a wide across Texas. I recently made the rather boring four hour drive from Houston to Dallas for a friends wedding. While I was only in Dallas for 24 hours, I was eager to see as many of my Dallasite friends as possible. 

Dallas is an interesting place to me. Not as big as Houston (Houstonians love to boast that fact), there are plenty of unique places to visit in Dallas' urban concrete jungle. One of my old college roommates met up with me in central Dallas for a day of eating and drinking before I headed to the wedding that night. You may remember Lauren from our adventures at Avebury and Stonehenge but that's beside the point. Knowing full well that I having a blogging agenda almost everywhere I go nowadays she decided to take me to the hip scene that is the Truck Yard. 

A restaurant, bar, and garden, the Truck Yard is a unique dining experience for locals and tourists alike. Located in Dallas' Uptown-Greenville neighborhood, the Truck Yard is an outdoor hang-out where the drinks are good and the food comes from your choice of the restaurant or three different food trucks. I decided to go with the southern classic burger and waffles. 

If you happen to be in the Dallas area, I highly suggest making an afternoon out of it. Check out the Truck Yard here

Happy Monday!