Category Archives: Travel

36 Hours in Charlottesville

The summer has surely flown by quickly! Life has been a little busy for me lately but I’m finally back to recap a few of my summer trips.

For all my DC/Virginia area readers – this Charlottesville trip is a perfect getaway for you and super easy to plan with my guide below. If you haven’t visited this gorgeous town full of scenic views and vineyards – I highly suggest you make it your next roadtrip.  I was lucky enough to be hosted twice this summer in Charlottesville – once for a girls weekend with my sister and a few weeks later over the 4th of July for a blogger trip (Heather joined me as well!).

{Sandals: Jack Rogers Lauren + Jack Rogers Lilliana (ON SALE) + Jack Rogers}

Where to Stay: Oakhurst Inn

This charming boutique Inn has modern guest rooms, luxury beauty products and the friendliest staff. The guest rooms are in historic Virginia homes and have a library on each floor – perfect for working remotely (hello, Wifi!) and conveniently stocked with San Pellegrino flavored sodas, waters and a Nespresso machine. The decor varies by room but each one is gorgeous with all white bathrooms.  You also receive freshly baked cookies and branded waters in your room as a part of turn down service each night. What could be better? You’ll feel right at home!

{Romper // Sandals // Purse // Necklace // Sunnies}

It is perfect for wedding groups, a romantic getaway, girls weekend, a UVA alumni weekend or even a solo trip full of relaxation. I stayed twice this summer and am looking forward to going back as soon as I can.

Where To Dine: Red Pump Kitchen & Oakhurst Cafe

{Skirt (similar) // Shirt // Belt (similar) // Sandals // Clutch (ON SALE!) c/o // Sunnies // Necklace // Bracelets }

On both occasions, I had the pleasure of dining at Red Pump Kitchen for dinner. Red Pump is located on the Historic Downtown Mall in Charlottesville and is a must if you’re in town. It is an open kitchen restaurant with a classic burning oven. We were lucky enough to be seated by their large front open windows on a perfect summer evening (not too hot yet!)However, there is also plenty booth & bar seating and an outdoor patio space too.

All of the dishes are made with local Virginian farm ingredients but influences by Mediterranean, Tuscan and Italian cuisines. There is also a full service bar, excellent cocktail menu and a charming wait staff. The attention to detail at Red Pump is impeccable – from the striped cloth napkins to the gorgeous water glasses and dishes. I’m pretty sure between both trips and all us girls, we tried just about everything on the dinner menu too. Some of my personal recommendations would be the Blueberry + Burratto Salad, Beet + Goat Cheese Salad and the Atlantic Grouper – delicious!

For brunch, we dined at Oakhurst Cafe located on the Inn’s property. It is a popular breakfast and brunch spot for hotel guests and locals alike. There is also a coffee and espresso bar for grab and go options.

It is every bit as charming as the Inn – with mix and match cappuccino cups and fresh juices. Everything here is also locally sourced – a very common trend in Charlottesville overall. I would recommend the Baked Local Farm Eggs or the Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal (it comes with avocado and beets!).

What To Do: Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards

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{Romper (ON SALE!) // Clutch (ON SALE!) // Hat // Sunnies // Bracelets // Earrings }

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Travel Guide: Tulum, Mexico

Phew! After over a month of non-stop travels – I’m finally here to give you the 411 on my new favorite vacation spot – TULUM!

{Top: UNDER $30! // Pants: ON SALE under $12!// Sandals: Jack Rogers // Purse: Tory Burch c/o Shopbop // Necklace: Kendra Scott // Bracelet: Kendra Scott

For those of you who have not heard of this gem before, it’s a Mayan beach town in Mexico located about 1.5 hours outside of Cancun facing the Caribbean Sea. It could not be more different than most Mexican tourist spots or more magical and quant. (Honestly, this NY Times video puts it best!)

I was lucky enough to escape there for a week earlier this month with 9 of my favorites at one of my best friend’s house, otherwise known as Casa Carolina (more on that later!)

{Bikini: TRIANGL  // Sunnies: Karen Walker c/o Shopbop}

What to Expect:

Tulum is uber eco-friendly and that means solar power and for me, leaving my blowdryer at home. Prepare to enjoy days with air-dryed salty hair, minimal make up and sunkissed skin. In other words, paradise! Tulum is also home to many yoga retreats, spas and bikini boot camp. Most restaurants and bars have free wifi and we were lucky to have it at our house too but it really is a time to disconnect (no matter how many instagrams I took, I swear I relaxed & it was nice to not have cell service for the majority of the beach days).

What to Pack:

Below is a sample of what I packed on this trip. My suitcase was full of bathing suits that I lived in, cover ups, shorts, breezy dresses & tops, rompers (I took this one & this too), flat sandals & espadrilles, sunnies and minimal jewels and beauty products. Also, bring a light sweater as it can get cooler in the evenings.

Most days my hair was pulled back in a bun and air dryed (I swear it was the longest I went without using a blowdryer in my life). While I wore wedges a few evenings, I would recommend bringing shoes that you can easily wipe off. After walking everyday, most of my sandals were very sandy and dusty.

If you plan to go to the ruins, be sure to pack tennis shoes and comfortable workout gear (more on that below).

Equally as important to note is to bring plenty of sunscreen (this Irish girl is still burned!), big hats and bug spray. I even bought bug itch cream because the mosquitos can get bad!

{Dress: UNDER $30! // Necklace: Kendra Scott // Clutch: Similar Here}

Where to Stay: Casa Carolina

Most hotels in Tulum are boutique in size, eco-friendly (read: no AC) and serve as a restaurant, bar, boutique, spa and more (all in one!). While there are many fabulous choices, the best has to be Casa Carolina.

{Cover Up: Lilly for Target // Scallop Bathing Suit: PINK // Hat: Similar Here // Sunnies: Karen Walker c/o ShopBop // Beach Bag: Similar Here}

The photos speak for themselves but this house was perfect for our group and belongs to my best friend’s family. The 6,000 square foot villa sits right on the beach with 5 bedrooms, a rooftop, pool, hammocks, beach chairs, its own beachside palayas, patio terrace and large open living spaces. Every bedroom also has an ocean view, balcony and en suite bathroom complete with luxurious tolietries. The house literally comes with anything you may need from adorable patterned beach towels to bottled water and laundry services.

Casa Carolina also comes with two amazing staff members, Paula and Eric, who live on-site in a casasita as well as security in the evenings. They do everything possible to make sure your stay is comfortable from cleaning, cooking, bartending, grocery shopping and even finding & cutting down the freshest coconuts to drink beachside. (I’m also told a few celebrities have vacationed at this gorgeous villa but my lips are sealed there!)

The photos don’t even begin to do the property justice – but check more out here and whether you’re going with family, friends, for a wedding or for leisure – this place comes highly recommended by yours truly. (Oh and morning coffees on the rooftop weren’t bad either.)

{Pants: ON SALE under $12! // Sweater: LOFT // Necklace: Kendra Scott //  Sandals: Jack Rogers}

How to Get Around:

Taxis! I swear there are more taxis at any given moment in Tulum than in New York City. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit – but I was caught saying that more than once during our trip. Seriously, every time we stepped outside the house – there was a taxi passing by, or offering a ride or waiting.

Most places you can just walk along the street, however, for longer distances and into pueblo – taxis are all over. Just makes sure you have plenty of cash and/or pesos for your trip. (Oh and addresses are arbitrary – so know your KM and landmarks.)

Where to Eat & Drink (in no particular order):

Mateo’s Mexican Grill – We went here on the first night, reserved a large table outside and I ate the best fish tacos of my life (yes, life). Perfect bar setting for a group too!

Papaya Playa Project – The Beach Club here holds Full Moon parties and the venue is unlike any other in Tulum. I will admit that us girls were too tired after a long day of travel to attend the party (which fell on the first night of our trip); however, the boys stayed out late and had a blast without us.

Posada Margherita – Tulum is home to many ex-Pats from Italy and thus, produces amazing Italian cuisine. This gem is located right on the beach and something out of a movie screen – beautiful tables, lights and delicious fresh pastas and seafood. We split numerous bottles of vino here and enjoyed dining under the beach stars.

El Tablano – I enjoyed lunch here and my favorite margarita of the trip. It’s located on the jungleside in Tulum and outdoors as well. The entire menu is on a large chalkboard. It’s on the pricier side for lunch but well worth it!

Don Cafeto – One evening went left the beach and went into “pueblo” (town). This spot was authenic no-frills Mexican cuisine – it gave us a taste of the area and its culture outside of trendier spots. If you venture into pueblo – be sure to stop at Don Cafeto and order their queso! Live music played while we dined and we shopped through the markets after dinner. Just around the corner is a Bug Mojito Bar so be on the lookout!

La Zebra – Located right on the beach – delicious cocktails and margs by the pitcher. The deck is the perfect spot for posting up all afternoon.

Juice Stands – Don’t underestimate the small stands on the side of the road – I had a fresh mango – papaya juice one morning and chai latte from a small juice stand along the jungle side so really take time to explore and taste your way through Tulum.

Canopia – We stopped here for fresh coconut water – yes, in large coconuts. If you don’t have coconuts at your disposal like we did at Casa Carolina, I would recommend stopping by for one here!

{Dress: UNDER $30! // Hat: Similar Here // Sunnies: Karen Walker c/o ShopBop // Sandals: Jack Rogers // Purse: Tory Burch c/o Shopbop // Necklace: Kendra Scott}

Zamas –  Colorful chairs and tables + drinks out of coconuts? Check! We actually did not have enough time to dine here but passed Zamas many times and it came highly recommended as it sits at the end of the road with a gorgeous view.

Gitano – This spot came highly recommended to me by my New York friends and was also delicious. There are pink neon lights, a disco ball, chandelier in the trees and quite possibly the best guacamole & pork tacos. Try for dinner or for cocktails.

Hartwood –  Hartwood is probably the most talked about restaurant in Tulum, most recommended and might I say;  for good reason! It is only opened for dinner, however, they now take reservations (on the day of).  People start to line up around 2pm to put their name in. We were lucky with our big group to get a later spot one evening as we stopped in while shopping to get on names on the list. The menu changes each day and they bring a chalkboard sign to you. Fresh cocktails, beautiful atmosphere and delicious food  – both the ribs and filete coronado were popular.

Where to Shop & Spa:

Explore! There are so many little spots in Tulum and all on the same main road. Below are a few of my favorites but don’t underestimate the small gems you might come across just by walking along the jungle side. (Side Note: the “jungle side” is much HOTTER than the beach without the lovely breeze so dress accordingly & use bug spray!)

{Dress: UNDER $30! // Hat: Similar Here // Sunnies: Karen Walker c/o ShopBop // Sandals: Jack Rogers // Purse: Tory Burch c/o Shopbop // Necklace: Kendra Scott // Bracelets: Kendra Scott & Kendra Scott}

Mr. Blackbird – Quant little shop on the main road with sand for floors, leather sandals and unique jewels.

Josa Tulum – local designer with gorgeous tunics, cover ups and dresses.

Coqui Coqui – Explore their luxurious spa, perfume shop and boutique. It’s gorgeous and us girls went home with new candles. Also, if you’re going to book a spa appointment, highly recommend you book a treatment here!

La Tente Rose – Mexican Wine, Beer, Water & Spirits – enough said.

What to See & Do:

Beaches – Most of my time was spent beach side with coconuts, my favorites, magazines and a whole lot of sunscreen! The waves were perfect most days for boogie boarding as well.

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{Bathing Suits: PINK + H&M + Lilly for Target // Headwrap: SO many here!}

Tulum Ruins – A few of us hiked around the ruins one super hot afternoon – they are close by but spoiler alert – you can’t climb them, but you will meet a lot of wandering iguanas along the way!

Cenotes – I opted to stay on the beach in lieu of snorkling around these but they come highly recommended and there are many spots nearby if you decide to be adventurous!

Long Walks + Yoga – If you’re into yoga, Tulum is your place! There are so many local spots to take classes and be fit on the beach. I also walked along the beach most evenings.

{Shorts: LOFT // Pom Pom Top: UNDER $12! // Sandals: Jack Rogers // Clutch: Similar Here // Necklace: Kendra Scott // Bracelets: Kendra Scott // Sunnies: Karen Walker c/o Shopbop}

& there you have it! Let me know if your travels ever take you to Tulum or if you’ve been before! I know I am counting down the days until I can go back.

Charleston Bachelorette Party Guide Part Two

If you’re reading today’s post, I hope you caught up on my Bachelorette “Welcome Bags” post (and hangover kits!) + Part One of my Charleston Bachelorette Party Guide. I’m back now with the long-awaited part two deets!

Saturday Evening: Roaring 20’s + Games + Dinner & Cocktails

After we finished up our blowouts at Tease on Saturday afternoon, we headed back to the house to get ready for dinner. We had bubbly, cocktails and played a few games – notably, “What’s in Your Purse” by WPD.

A common bachelorette weekend trend is everyone wears black (or a color) and the bride goes out in white. Well, I wanted to put a twist on this trend and have a theme that my sister would enjoy too.

The theme for the night was Roaring 20’s (fitting for Charleston!) – so think Great Gatsby-ish, flappers, headpieces and yes, we had long strings of pearls to wear out. The only rule was that you couldn’t wear white but everyone dolled up in dresses, sequins and all things 20s. We also wore flash tattoos on this evening and more stickers.

After drinks at the house, we headed to dinner at the delicious O-Ku Sushi in Downtown Charleston. My sister loves sushi and it was the perfect atmosphere for a large group of girls – delicious sushi items to split, crafted cocktails, gorgeous decor and beats!

O-Ku is also within walking distance to The Cocktail Club and other Charleston Bars. If you’re in the mood for a more “club scene” – Republic is also close. We headed to The Cocktail Club after dinner and took over a large portion of the bar. In warmer months, I love Cocktail Club’s deck too so be sure to check it out if you’re planning an outing in Charleston. (These Florida babes were a little too “cold” to step outside long.)

Sunday: Surprise Private Barre Class + Farewell Brunch

My sister’s last “date card” surprise was given to her as she woke up on Sunday morning. She thought we were just going to have a big brunch and everyone would head home, but we still had more fun in store for her.

To give you the background on this “surprise” (as not all brides might enjoy a workout on their bach weekend) – Megan had always told me how fun she thought a yoga class would be on a bach weekend (YEARS ago) and well, I never forgot that little comment. Flash forward 5 years and her and I have both become addicted to barre (seriously, we never miss it!) so I couldn’t imagine a weekend without it somehow included.

She woke up to another bag (Wifey bag sold here) full of goodies including Pointe Studio barre socks for her and all the girls, Emi Jay “See You at the Barre” tank, a new Lululemon sports bra, AND a tutu to wear to class (a la Target kids). (I also threw in the “husband is the new boyfriend” tee for her to wear post wedding).

My friend Margaret works for Pure Barre HQ so she put me in touch with the owners of the Charleston studio and we worked to put together a private class for our group on Sunday morning. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, everyone wore the “welcome bag” cocktail tees, patterned barre socks, hair ties and last night’s hangovers. After we LTB and tucked to our heart’s content, we enjoyed mimosas at the studio and headed to a much-needed southern brunch.

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Charleston Bachelorette Party Guide Part One

I’m back today with a full recap of my sister’s bachelorette weekend in Charleston, South Carolina. If you didn’t read my first post about the welcome bags + hangover kits, be sure to catch up here.

For all my fellow Maid of Honors and bridesmaids out there, I know that the idea of planning the bachelorette weekend for your favorite bride-to-be can often be a little overwhelming especially if you haven’t traveled to the city of choice before or have no event planning or organizational skills (or TIME) whatsoever. Luckily, I had been to Charleston more times than I can count and was so excited when my sister chose the destination.

However, for those of you that have not been to the Holy City or might be planning a bach of your own down there (or up for all my southern readers), I hope this guide helps you as I plan to share in two parts all the places we visited and links to all the goodies I incorporated throughout the weekend.

Friday: Arrivals + Check into House!

My number ONE recommendation for planning a Charleston weekend with a group of girls (we had 10 total) would be to rent a house. While groups often rent houses in Folly Beach or Sullivan’s Island – I opted to rent a house in Charleston proper since these babes (mostly FL & CA girls besides me) get enough of the beach already. The weather in March was also a little chilly to be poolside over the weekend. There are excellent finds on VRBO and Homeaway, however, I was connected with a friend at Rewined and we rented her home via AirBnb instead. It was the perfect little green bungalow just outside of downtown Charleston. The best part renting a house vs. one of the fabulous hotels in Charleston is that we all got to stay together over the weekend, bond over late night food, get ready together and it’s also the most affordable for such a large group on different sized budgets. (Here is the link to the house we rented!)

house

Friday Afternoon: Spa Day at The Spa at Belmond Charleston Place

Throughout the weekend, my sister received “date cards” (if you will a la The Bachelor) with various surprises revealed one by one. This worked for her because she was the type of bride that did not want to know a thing about the weekend (other than what to pack) and we kept all the planned outings and activities a secret. Believe me, if you know how close my sister and I are and how bad I am at secrets…this was very hard.

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After she opened up her bach welcome bag, we blindfolded her with her sash and let her open the first “date card”. Inside she found a giftcard to The Spa at Belmond Charleston Place from all her bridesmaids and girls attending the weekend. She had a massage booked and we dropped her off for a few hours of pampering while we ran around to the grocery store and other errands to get the house prepped for the evening. This spa afternoon served as a perfect way for the bride to “relax” into the weekend and of course, as a special treat too.

The Spa at Belmond Charleston is quite the establishment and comes highly recommended by the bride after her appointment and myself.

Friday Night: Southern Shrimp Boil + Lingerie Shower + Night Out

 With the help of one of my sister’s closest friends, Mallory, we decided to have the first night of the weekend be more casual and allow the girls to settle into the house over drinks and delicious food. We cooked up a paper-plate & fork Shrimp Boil (not quite as fancy as my DC one) complete with wine and bubbly.

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After dinner, I hosted a lingerie shower with dessert, games and yes, bubbly. The theme was “All You Need is Love…and Lingerie” so we had appropriate decor to match complete with napkins, coasters, Rewined candles and custom lingerie cookies. We hung up all her pretty new pieces on a tassel banner with pink clothes pins and made her guess who bought what.

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I bought Megan this “my little black dress” sleep shirt (it’s sold out online but I’ve still seen it in the stores) & this mini pink glitter crown headband (similar here). She proudly wore them both all weekend around the house (along with her sash) and during her lingerie shower to open gifts. I also had the tattoos & stickers below made for everyone to wear throughout the weekend. (Mine went home on the plane with me, whoops!) 

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tattoo1 stickers

If you’re looking for a fun, dance-on-the-bar, coyote-ugly type of spot for an evening out, shall I recommend Market Street Saloon. It is not my typical type of hangout or spot while in Charleston but perfect for bach affairs. We had a blast and it allowed for Megan to complete more than one of her “weekend dares” that we set aside for her (sorry, those will always remain secret).

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After we stopped at a bar around the corner and then to Giovanni’s Pizza, which is all within walking distance. I took the liberty of ordering the largest sized pizza (and slices) I have ever seen in my life. This place was on my bucket list for late-night food in Charleston and it should be on yours too!

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 Saturday Morning: Pajama Brunch

On Saturday morning, the majority of us woke up with slight Irish flus so I whipped up a homemade brunch for the group. We indulged in diamond donuts, “naughty” fruit skewers, cava mimosas and a few healthy items – to get our day started.

Today’s “date card” was a hand-written note from the groom who was sweet enough to “host” our brunch. He didn’t do the cooking but he made sure we had everything we needed to stay full. I also included a black and white canvas photo of my sister and her fiance from WPD that we gave her on this morning. (more…)

How-To: Bachelorette Welcome Bags + Hangover Kits

HELLO!

As you might of noticed, things on H&T have been a little quiet for the month of February so it’s good to be back!

The blogging break wasn’t intended but after spending all my time outside my day job consumed with other projects, events, speaking engagements, barre classes and most importantly, Maid of Honor duties for my sister’s wedding – I decided to take a much needed hiatus so I hope you’ll forgive my silence!

The good news is that I have a lot of exciting posts coming up for you. In case you were not following along on Instagram or Twitter – I just recently hosted and planned my sister’s bachelorette weekend in Charleston, South Carolina.

I plan to share in a series of posts all about the weekend with a full recap and how-to if you’re planning a bachelorette weekend of your own and especially one in Charleston!

First up, a closer look at the “Welcome to Charleston” bags I put together for all the bridesmaids and best babes that attended. These bags could be assembled to match any bachelorette weekend destination. They might also provide inspiration for wedding welcome bags too. I tried to keep in mind what the girls might need most over the weekend plus a few fun souvenirs to take home.

Below you will find links to everything I included in mine!

#1. The Bags

 I ordered 10 of these South Carolina Totes. They are reusable and great for the gym, groceries and as a tote, of course. (The banner seen below, I purchased here.)

#2. Custom Name Tags by Drafts & Crafts

I tied these on to each bag with gold ribbon from Wedding Paper Divas. I had them made with each’s girl’s name and then an extra one that read “The Bachelorette” for my sister.

#3. H&T Hangover Kits

  • Tempo Tonight – These all natural hangover pills are my newest go-to!  You take 2 pills before you have your first drink and two more once you get home. It works proactively against toxins and it’s safe to say that I got the girls hooked on them too after last weekend! Hangovers prevented. Do yourself and your body a favor and order a box now!
  • EOS lip balms – I don’t know about you but I always wake up with the driest lips.
  • Mini Bottle of Tums – for those next-day tummy aches.
  • Mini Nutella Packets – my sister’s favorite and who doesn’t like Nutella? Hungover or not.
  • Tic Tacs – to kill that morning breath.
  • Packets of Advil & Tylenol – pick your poison.

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