A Very Southwestern Birthday Trip Recap

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Cactus patterns and an obsession with the American Southwest have been growing in popularity over the last several years, but I personally just didn't *get it* until I took a road-trip in late 2016 out that way. It's hard to not feel dwarfed and amazed while driving through Monument Valley, and I was hooked. I knew I had to get back to Utah and Arizona as fast as possible.

I finally returned (15 months feel like a long time when you've fallen in love with a landscape) in December of 2017 and made a point to see new sights and national parks. My partner and I packed up her giant Ram Rebel and smashed a lot of locations and activities into a mere 8-day tour. Instead of the regular end-of-year holiday festivities, we opted to spend Christmas Day in Arches National Park and my birthday in Zion National Park. Pretty good decisions all around. 

I wanted to make another recap video of this trip because I knew this would be a trip worth documenting with all of its stunning scenery and new experiences, so I hope you'll peep it below!

I've included some of my favorite snaps from the trip below as well. I wanted to upgrade to a new digital camera before our trip, and feel obligated to show off what I captured because the camera was a fairly big investment... I haven't used as it as much as I intended to when I purchased it, but I'd like to change that. So hopefully this blog will become a place to showcase any other fun photo romps I go on. 

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Locations Featured in the Video (In Order of Appearance):
Work and Class
Comrade Brewing Co.
Hudson Hill
High Country Healing
Clocktower Cabaret
Lucille's Creole Cafe
Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Bryce Canyon
Thunderbird Restaurant
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Thai Sapa Restaurant
Zion National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
Meteor Crater in Arizona
Petrified Forest National Park
Painted Desert

A Very New Orleans Holiday Recap

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Over Thanksgiving weekend, my family opted to do something a little non-traditional and head out of town for the holiday. Rather than my sister, Kelly, coming back to St. Louis from her current city of Baton Rouge, my mother, father and I headed down South to celebrate with her there. After a night in Baton Rouge catching up with Kelly over a stitched together Thanksgiving dinner and a bottle of rosé, we headed even further South to New Orleans.

We were incredibly lucky to have 65-degree weather days the entire weekend, with lots of street musicians to keep us company, a fabulous tour guide to keep us laughing and informed, and plenty of NOLA liquid hospitality to keep us feeling good. One night resulted in accidentally ending up onstage at a drag show, 4:30am diner hangs, and the hangover of the year. Nothing a little drunken brunch couldn't help, of course.

I really enjoyed making my Portland recap, so I continued the tradition with our Thanksgiving weekend. Thanks again for watching!

Locations Featured:
French Quarter: (0:00-:22) (:40-:44) (:53-1:00) (2:38-3:22) (3:41-3:50)
Jackson Square: (:23-:39) (2:38-3:40)
Garden District: (:45-:52)
Place d'Armes Hotel: (1:01-1:10)
Cafe du Monde: (1:11-1:21)
City Park: (1:22-1:35)
AllWays Lounge: (1:36-1:53)
Hi-Ho Lounge: (1:54-2:08)
Clover Grill: (2:16-2:28)
The Court of Two Sisters: (2:29-2:37)
Joey K's: (4:05-4:12)
Lit Pizza: (4:13-4:16)

 

On Getting Road Trip Ready: Nashville!

Let’s be real. I love my city, but sometimes it’s really great to just get the heck out of it for a few days at a time. I'm doing just that starting this afternoon! Road trips are one of the easiest ways to do that, and one of Saint Louis’ best qualities is that it’s situated in the middle of a good number of cities that make great weekend getaways. I’ve done Chicago, Kansas City, and Memphis, but the one that seems to be the most popular amongst my friends is the one I’ve never been to - Nashville! Or, "Nashvegas" as some of my pals lovingly call it. I’m long overdue for a road trip in general so it only makes sense that I’d hit the city I’ve never experienced. Because I'm road trip rusty, I thought I'd share a little bit about how I've been preparing for the journey! 

My first thought when planning a new trip usually revolves around Can My Car Handle This? If you know me in the real world, you'll know that I recently sold the car I'd been driving for 10 years. I was ready for a new decade-long relationship on wheels, and my little Mazda 3, Ozzy, is much better equipped to travel further than just across Saint Louis City. I spent some time with my dad this past weekend getting more acquainted with all of Ozzy's innards, levels, and tire air to make sure she's road trip-ready. Aside from low air in her spare tire, she's in the clear! 

The next big thing I always think about when it comes to travel is What The Hell Happens To My Wallet? Budgeting isn't always a perfect science, but because I've been traveling on my own more frequently, I'm able to better plan my spending. The first things I factor in are travel expenses, accommodation expenses, and food. Travel expenses aren't terrible when it comes to road tripping, especially if you've got a buddy to share gas purchases with. Accommodation expenses were originally going to be low or nonexistent as my partner has a close friend we had hoped to stay with, but alas! She is out of town. Luckily, Airbnb offers such a wide range of places to book, we were able to find a cute spot for a great price. This will be my first time staying at an Airbnb, but I have heard so many great stories about being able to stay with locals and learning about the city from a dweller. Check back for our experience at the "Nashville Nest!" Our host sounds so friendly and sweet. I can't wait to meet her!

Food is really where I run into trouble because I LIKE TO EAT. I also like to try local favorites and recommended spots, so sometimes I end up at hot spots that have menu prices reflecting their popularity. I would totally love to splurge, but I'm gonna try my best to be a good girl. Some joints I've been eyeballing as recommended to me by friends are (images above L-R):
1) Biscuit Love - A food truck success story with brunch eats and an emphasis on local.
2) Two Ten Jack - Japanese flair pub with ramen, sushi, and more with a lady chef!
3) The Pharmacy - A lovely outside biergarten space with local beef, and a soda fountain!
4) The Lipstick Lounge - A queer bar aimed at the ladies. Well, duh. 

And of course, you know I gotta budget in a little bit of shopping! I hit up ALIVE Magazine's Fashion Editor and big-time Nashville fan, Sarah Stallmann, for some ideas. She sent over a list she actually compiled just last month! From that list, I think I'll be checking out: 
1) Local Honey - Apparently merchandised impressively for easy shopping!
2) Hip Zipper - A wide range of eras with affordable prices? Yes, please!
3) Nashville Flea - A giant flea market? Sign me the heck up. I love a good hunt. 

Unlike my travels to New York Fashion Week, I don't fret too much about fashion choices when it comes to road trips. Ultimately, we're looking at 90 degree temperatures, so I'm focused on packing light summer clothes and staying comfortable. I have a feeling overalls might be going with me... perhaps my cowboy boots, too! 

Have you been to Nashville lately? Do you have any favorite spots to hit while there?

Day Two: NYFW'15 Adventures

My second day in New York City for New York Fashion Week was fun, busy, and full of beauty. Monday night, I had to crash at a different apartment than where I had left my belongings due to miscommunication and a lack of a key, so all of Tuesday morning was wasted trying to get my stuff back. I eventually (with permission), broke into the apartment my items were stranded in, collected them, and hoofed it back to NYFW fun. After a much-needed shower, I caught an Uber to Pier 59 Studios to see the stunning Michael Costello SS16 collection. 

I had my only celebrity sighting while at this runway. Paris Hilton walked right past me, and before I realized who she was, I thought, "Now that's a cute Wednesday Addams-inspired dress." I don't care about or for Paris Hilton at all, so when I figured out it was her, I laughed to myself. Apparently she and Costello are fairly close, and she texted him that morning to tell him she was flying in last minute for the show (according to one of the show's workers that Gina and I bumped into afterward). Costello's pieces were toned down significantly from his extravagant gowns in his SS15 collection, but I absolutely adored every piece. I have such a thing for capes and cape-shouldered dresses! The mustard yellow number was so stunning to see in person. The material floated beautifully as the model walked. Runway images courtesy of Bennet Cobliner

After the show, Gina and I hung out on the rooftop balcony at Pier 59. Either this area is new or I had no idea it existed last year. It's gorgeous and these strangely over-size lounge benches were perfect for some photographs. I'm pretty positive Gina is one of the most gorgeous women I've ever met, both inside and out. She was the sweetest this entire trip. I wouldn't have had so much fun if it weren't for her passion, kind spirit, and generosity. 

Gina invited me to attend a re-launching of a restaurant in the Gramercy Park area, and I couldn't say no because food, duh. It turns out that Darrow's Farm Fresh had more to offer than just bites to eat. The atmosphere is lovely, with large bistro-style windows that open during nice weather, and an array of freshly-pressed juices for you to savor. I tried the watermelon and coconut, and both were very refreshing. The cocktail menu also incorporates their juices, so I tried the "Darrow's Smash," which brought together the unlikely companions of rye whiskey, kale, pineapple, and basil for an incredibly tasty drink! Their sweet potato fries were more soft than crispy, and I loved them that way. Gina and I probably ate our weight in the avocado toast - crunchy crostinis with avocado, baby greens, pepitas, pickled onions, and local goat cheese. The quinoa and black bean burger was also delicious. We were visited at our table by Darrow's founder, Peter, and his personality was lively and welcoming. I always enjoy getting to know the owner of a spot I enjoy. If I connect with them, it makes me much more likely to return!

After dinner at Darrow's, I popped into a nearby Starbucks to rest my feet (even though I wore almost strictly flat shoes this trip, my tootsies were wailing), and spend just a last little bit of time with Gina. Soon I was in an Uber back home to Sarah's apartment, where we watched a bunch of silly YouTube videos and I finished an entire carton of Ben & Jerry's. See a food theme from this trip? Eat entire everythings. I'm a glutton. 

I'm off to try to run some errands while hobbling around. I got smacked down by a gnarly kidney infection yesterday, and am feeling better, but not 100%. If you've never had one, you're lucky. If you've had one, you understand the distinct and frustrating pain and fatigue that comes with it. In the past day alone I've finished two 64oz bottles of cranberry juice, so I'm hoping I'll recover quickly. Check back for my next post on NYFW, which will feature backstage access to the Raul Penaranda show, as well as peek at a NYC-based, woman-run luxury leather collection!

Day One: NYFW'15 Adventures

 Rain Dove's artist loft apartment, williamsburg 

Rain Dove's artist loft apartment, williamsburg 

 leather cuff and leather clutch made in stl by designer ryan moore

leather cuff and leather clutch made in stl by designer ryan moore

 Trying out brode electrolyte tablets with the lovely gina doost of what the doost?!

Trying out brode electrolyte tablets with the lovely gina doost of what the doost?!

 android chic with thync - a device that helps control your mood

android chic with thync - a device that helps control your mood

 after our thync sessions. i chose the de-stress option and gina chose the pump-up option!

after our thync sessions. i chose the de-stress option and gina chose the pump-up option!

 lifetherapy scents for all your moods. i went home with vacation!

lifetherapy scents for all your moods. i went home with vacation!

 Pizza, my darling!

Pizza, my darling!

Hi, lovelies! I'm back and recuperating from my now-annual trip to New York City for New York Fashion Week! I still feel like I could sleep for days, but I've got stuff to do. Like drink Vinho Verde and write this blog post! 

After a 4:30am rise on Monday, I landed in NYC at about 11:00am, and called an Uber. I arrived at the artist loft building that model Rain Dove lives in, and we caught up over ramen noodles and a movie. I then caught an Uber to meet my darling friend Gina Doost, publisher of What the Doost?!, for the very first time in person. She invited me to attend the TechStyle Lounge with her - "the ultimate retreat for perfectly primped, shamelessly chic fashionistas." At the Lounge, we sampled beers, cookies, upped our electrolyte game with Brode, altered our moods with Thync, checked out custom bra fittings with Peach, and much more. Gina seemed to know every single person in the Lounge, and it's so much fun having a knowledgable, friendly friend showing you the ropes! After the Lounge, we met my friend Sarah and headed off to LIC Bar for drinks and live music. Sarah and I were hungry so we ordered a pizza. We ate the whole. damn. thing. NYC will do that to you. I ended up staying the night with Sarah (mad shouts to her incredibly gracious roommates), and in the morning I learned how to break into an apartment (with permission) in order to retrieve my stranded belongings. That's a long story that I can tell y'all about in person sometime if you desire. 

This year, instead of going to as many shows as possible and running myself totally ragged, I opted to set a more easy pace for myself. I wanted to spend time with friends, enjoy the city, and not spend hundreds of dollars Ubering around like a mad person to make all the shows I was invited to. I still spent more money than I'd like to admit (okay, I spent all the money), but I had bunches of fun! Check back in a couple days for Day Two's recap!