This week at The Cozy Blue Cottage, we said farewell to fall. The temps have been dropping steadily since late October and snow fell early this week.

There’s just something so magical about the snow. I’ve lived most of my life in the Northern part of the United States and snow is a regular occurrence for me. 

But that doesn’t diminish the delight of the first snowfall. As the white flakes coat the world in a blanket of sparkling silence, the cottage takes on  a new life.

First Snowfall at The Cozy Blue Cottage

Although some travelers may grow weary at the sight of snow, they can rest easy in the cottage. Snow somehow makes the cottage feel even cozier! 

This week, in celebration of the first accumulation of snow, I thought I’d share my recipe for spiced cider. Although it’s technically more of a fall-ish drink, it’s perfect for days inside, snuggled up in front of the fireplace.

Spiced Cider Keeps the Cold Weather at Bay

Slow Cooker Spiced Cider

Prep Time – 5 minutes        Cook Time – 1 hour         Servings – 16 cups

  • 1 Gallon Apple Cider
  • 3/4 Cup Orange Juice
  • 4 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 2 Teaspoons Whole Cloves
  • 1 Teaspoon Whole Allspice

Combine ingredients in slow cooker (or pot on the stove). Turn slow cooker on high heat for 1 hour. Strain out the Cinnamon Sticks, Allspice, and Cloves.

Serve and enjoy!


To travel is to willingly put yourself in a foreign place. Seems like only a crazy person would do this, right?

Personally, I can’t stand being in one place for too long; after a while, I start to get the itch to travel and explore again – a sort of craving for new adventures. As it turns out, I’m not making this travel addiction up! Psychologists have confirmed it.

However, I don’t always want to have the typical “tourist” type experience. Sometimes, I want to experience a place like its everyday inhabitants do.

That’s why I put together a list of 5 ways to like a local when you travel.

5 Ways to live like a local when you travel

  1. Start conversations with strangers: Talking to strangers in a foreign place can be intimidating, especially when there is a language barrier. However, when I travel, I often find myself talking to waiters and locals to see where the unlisted hidden treasures are. Sometimes you’ll stumble across a restaurant or shop tucked into a little hole in the wall. After all, Google doesn’t know everything
  2. Get off the beaten path: There are some tourist attractions that are worth a visit (looking at you, il Colosseo and  Musee du Louvre). But there are so many other great options no matter where you go. Try heading off the beaten path to see lesser-known sites; they might surprise you!It feels good to be lost in the right direction quote
  3. Dine like the locals: Nothing gives you more local flavor than dining like a local! As an AirBnB host, I keep my guidebook up to date so that visitors know what local spots to dine at during their stay. Take a leap and bypass the chain restaurants for local fare.
  4. Stay open to new experiences: Sometimes (who am I kidding – most of the time!) travel doesn’t go as planned. Stay open to whatever experiences happen throughout your travels. Maybe your outdoor tour got rained out, but that gives you an opportunity to explore other indoor attractions.Local Parisian Book Market
  5. Immerse yourself in local culture: When I travel, my goal is to immerse myself in the local culture. This gives you the full flavor of a place. I visit local markets, small artisan shops, and lesser known museums and attractions. It just makes the experience so much more authentic and less “staged”.


What do you think? Do you have any tips for living like a local when you travel? If so, let me know in the comments below!



I admit it: my drug of choice is travelling. It always has been.

My parents used to take us on road trips when we were younger. As we got older, we graduated to trips that required long flights. But to be honest, as long as we were going somewhere new, I didn’t really care how long it took to get there.

As a self-professed travel junkie, I take every chance that I can to get out and explore new places. I don’t like staying stagnant for too long and I start to get the travel itch after a few months of staying at home.

However, one new travel habit has developed over the past few years.

Instead of staying at corporate-run, chain hotels, I opt to stay in AirBnB properties whenever I can.

Why I choose an Airbnb Over a hotel

Sure – as an AirBnB Superhost, maybe I’m a little biased.

But there’s something just so much more authentic about staying in local dwellings.

As a teenager, I was fortunate enough to be able to experience a summer abroad in Paris, France. I was matched with a host family and it really helped me realize how much local flavor that I miss when I stay in a hotel. Each night, we would have a large family dinner that lasted for 3 to 4 hours.

Two years ago, I took my partner to Paris for the first time. We stayed in a locally owned property on the rez de chaussée (ground floor) of an apartment building. We had windows that opened to an interior courtyard and it truly felt like home.

Our Paris AirBnB Apartment
Our Paris AirBnB apartment had windows that opened to a interior courtyard.

It’s experiences like these that make me opt for AirBnB properties nearly every time I travel. I have to admit that sometimes it’s nice to be able to order room service at 1 am when you get late night munchies.

But immersing in the culture of a place and establishing a home away from home? That’s priceless to me. If I need those late night munchies, I’ll just stroll down to the corner grocery store. The few extra steps are worth it to me.

What do you think? Do you prefer to stay in hotels or in locally owned lodging?



One in 4 million

Out of 4 million listings worldwide (and 660,000 in the US alone), there’s no place quite like The Cozy Blue Cottage. In fact, The Cozy Blue Cottage joined the ranks of superhosted homes last month!

Cozy blue cottage is 1 in 4 million AirBnB Listings

I very rarely meet someone who hasn’t heard of (or used) AirBnB. But what made me join this group of hosts that regularly welcome strangers in to our homes? Great question!

At first, I Continue reading “One in 4 million”

5 Chilly Weather Activities to Plan for Your Fall Vacation

North Webster swells in population during the warmer summer months and the flow of visitors slows to a trickle as the cooler weather sets in around Mid-October. Although most people lament the end of summer, I live for these chilly fall days. I’ve lived in Northern Indiana for most of my life so the cold doesn’t phase me much anymore. Just because the temperatures are cooling off, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still plenty of activities to enjoy during your stay at The Cozy Blue Cottage. Here are 5 chilly weather activities to plan for your fall vacation.

5 Chilly Weather Activities to Plan for Your Fall Vacation

1) Take a hike through the fall colors. In October, the temperatures can get down to the 30s and 40s, which is tolerable if you’ve got enough layers on. So layer up, put on your long underwear and some cozy wool socks and hit the trails Continue reading “5 Chilly Weather Activities to Plan for Your Fall Vacation”