Valentine’s Day: Keep It Simple

February 8, 2016

There is so much pressure to do something on Valentine’s Day. Like most holidays the blogosphere pushes countless gift guides, travel agendas, romantic date night ideas, and outfit inspiration to help us get ready. I usually participate with a gift guide of locally made goodies but this Valentine’s Day I’m keeping it simple. For me there will be copious amounts of chocolate consumed and likely some bubbly. Bottom line – treat yourself and spend time with people you care about.

But if you do need some ideas to celebrate the Valentine’s Day…

Send a card (in the mail).

valentines day rifle paper co
I don’t do this enough but I practically melt when I receive a real card. As usual, Rifle Paper Co. is the clear winner.

Get yourself some GOOD chocolate and share (maybe).


valentines day chocoalte

Favs: BluBoy Chocolate, Cacao Atlanta, Condor Chocolates

Drink a delicious beverage.

  valentines day beers


My go to drink this time of year: Imperial or Chocolate Stout.

If you like stouts check these out:

  • Oskar Blues Death by Coconut
  • Upland Brewing Carpet Burn Oyster Stout
  • Founders Big Luscious
  • Westbrook Mexican Cake

Give a little happy

Yes it’s a gift but it’s tiny

One of my favorite people I’ve met along this blog journey is Kim Austin of Austin Press in San Francisco. She creates beautiful and simple letterpress cards and wedding invitations (that’s how I learned of her work). She now creates lovely candles and perfumes made with essential oils. Click here to see more from my studio visit with Kim.


Eat a fantastic meal with people you love.

Either with your boo or your girls, just enjoy. 

valentines day at feast

The always incredible Feast

Thinking about…


Or just Netflix and chill.

valentines day roman holiday

On my Netflix watch list right now

  • Roman Holiday
  • Moonrise Kingdom

Happy Valentine’s Day xoxo


Favorite Trips of 2015

January 18, 2016

I still can’t believe 2015 has come and gone! One of my standing new year’s resolutions is to travel more and somewhere new; which I did a few times in 2015. Since this is the time of year we think about the year ahead and the trips we hope to take, I wanted to share a few of my travel highlights of 2015.

Charleston, South Carolina


favorite trips of 2015: charleston

This city isn’t new to me but with every visit I discover something new. There are countless restaurants and shops to visit, not to mention gorgeous architecture at every turn.

Eat & Drink: So many… a few favs from this trip – Leon’s Oyster Shop – fried oyster po boy; Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit – biscuits of the day, Xia Bao Biscuit – pancake, The Ordinary – more oysters, Butcher & Bee – everything. On my to do list: Edmunds Oast, Westbrook Brewing Co. (in nearby Mt. Pleasant), FIG

favorite trips of 2015: charleston

favorite trips of 2015: charleston

Shop: Mitchell Hill Gallery, Candy Shop Vintage, IBU Movement

Explore: The Battery, Unitarian Church Cemetery, Drayton Hall

Click here to read more about my Charleston trip.

Louisville, Kentucky

favorite trips of 2015: louisville

Louisville isn’t far from Bloomington making it a really easy getaway for me. We met some friends last summer and had a ball bar hopping exploring the burgeoning beer culture and thriving restaurant scene.

Sleep: 21c Hotel

Eat & Drink: The Garage – pizza; Proof on Main – brunch; Four Pegs – chicken & waffles; Sergio’s World of Beers – so much beer

Explore: Waterfront Park, Urban Bourbon Trail, Nulu

Click here to read about 21c Hotel.

Click here to read about bar hopping in Louisville.

Chicago, Illinois

favorite trips of 2015: chicago

Sleep: Since my sister lives there, I usually stay with her. However, I have my eyes on Chicago Athletic Association Hotel for my next trip.

Eat & Drink: There are way too many fabulous options to list but these are a few that I discovered on my last trek –  Southport Grocery & Cafe Tola

On my to eat list: Longman & Eagle & Lula Cafe

Explore: Chicago Architecture Boat Tour & Art Institute of Chicago

To do list: Frank Lloyd Wright Tour

Click here for more on Southport Grocery.

Click here for more on Cafe Tola.

Portland, Oregon

favorite trips of 2015: portland oregon

Sleep: Airbnb amazing selection of apartments and houses available in Portland.

Eat & Drink: So many breweries, visit as many as possible. We drank a lot of Deschutes when we lived in Hawaii so it was fun to revisit their beer. Cascade Brewing is a must; you can try anything on tap, three samples at a time. Lardo was a highlight as well. Inexpensive and delicious, make sure you get an order of dirty fries and beer. VooDoo Donuts because you have to… if you don’t want to wait in line at the original check out VooDoo 2!

Explore: Powell’s Books, Chinese Garden, Alberta Arts District, 23rd Avenue

Asheville, North Carolina

Favorite trips of 2015: asheville

So much beer. I’d been to Asheville before but it had been years since my last trip. I must confess I didn’t do as much city exploring as I would’ve liked (work trip) but I still had a blast.

Sleep: The Downtowner is a great budget friendly option. There are several cute cottages and apartments on Airbnb if you want to stay in a local neighborhood. I stayed in this classic bungalow about one mile from downtown.

Eat & Drink: Early Girl Eatery is southern comfort food at it’s finest and my for breakfast/lunch. There is always a wait but totally worth it. Other spots I love: Thirsty Monk – great Belgian beer selection; Curate – Spanish tapas, Farm Burger – burgers and beer.

Explore: The South Slope is home to many of the breweries in Asheville like Wicked Weed and Burial Brewing Co. Make sure to check out Oskar Blues and Sierra Nevada just outside of town.

Outdoors: Blue Ridge Parkway & Pisgah National Forest

Shaker Village, KY

favorite trips of 2015: shaker village


This was one of my favorite getaways of the year. The inn is quiet and comfortable with a full service restaurant downstairs serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are daily activities in the historic center but you can also explore solo on the extensive trail network throughout the property making it an ideal place to get away from it all.

favorite trips of 2015: shaker village

Click here for more about Shaker Village.

I have some fun trips in the works so make sure your subscribe! Where do you hope to go this year?


Holiday Planning: New Years Eve

December 23, 2015

new years eve ryan hines

Photo: Ryan Hines

Christmas may be in two days but I’m still trying to decide on New Years Eve plans… Currently craving all of these getaways!

New Years Eve at the Alexander Hotel

  • Overnight stay in an art-centric deluxe guest room
  • $50 credit in Plat 99
  • Prosecco and chocolate covered strawberries
  • Brunch for two in Market Table
  • Valet Parking
  • Late check out at 1pm

Click here for more details

21c Hotel Louisville New Years Eve Party

The red penguins are ready to party in Louisville! Four course dinner at Proof on Main, dance party in the hotel Atrium, and late check out in the morning? Yes please.

Click for more details

Shaker Village New Years Eve Package

Leave the holiday madness behind for a relaxing New Year’s evening at Shaker Village. Package includes overnight accommodations in The Inn, hot breakfast buffet at The Trustees’ Table, 10 percent off retail purchases in The Shops and complimentary village admission.

Click for details

New Years Eve at Jekyll Island Club Hotel

  • Accommodations for Three nights with King, Queen, or two Double Beds
  • Breakfast Buffet for two each morning in the Grand Dining Room
  • New Year’s Eve Dinner for two; your choice of early or late seating in the Grand Dining Room
  • Admission to After Dinner Party at the Morgan Center with DJ and Dancing with food stations.
  • Party favors and champagne toast at midnight
  • New Year’s Day upgraded Breakfast Buffet in the Grand Dining Room ~ features Collard Greens and Hoppin’ John, Crepes Station, Omelet Station, Eggs Benedict and more

Click here for full details

If you don’t feel like traveling for New Years, check out local restaurants for a special dinner menu. Here are a couple of Bloomington NYE dinners happening…

New Years Eve Dinner at Restaurant Tallent

One of my favorite restaurants in Bloomington is hosting their finale dinner on New Year’s Eve. 4 courses of made from scratch Italian fare.

Click for the full menu

Topo’s 403 New Years Eve

Three course Mediterranean dinner with live music.

Click for menu details

How will you ring in the new year?

Happy Holidays from Shaker Village

December 16, 2015

I can’t believe that Christmas is next week; where did fall go? I love the holiday season for many reasons: comfort food, festive decor, and spending time with friends and family. Deep in the hills of the Bluegrass State, I experienced all of these (and then some) on a recent visit to Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill with one of my dearest friends.

holidays at shaker village

The Shakers were the most well known communal society in the 19th century and in 1805 a group of Shakers came to central Kentucky and established a new community that they named Pleasant Hill. Although the Shakers are no longer here their legacy lives on in the expansive grounds, classic Federal-Style architecture, and simple pleasures like a sweet slice of lemon sugar pie.

Today, Shaker Village is a non profit organization dedicated to preserving the Shaker heritage by offering different experiences for visitors to enjoy. You can even stay overnight at the inn; more on that later. Even though the chill is in the air, it’s a beautiful time to visit the village and get into the holiday spirit.

shaker village holiday

After we checked in, we headed straight for the dining room to warm up and get ready for a busy afternoon. The dining rooms are flooded with sunlight with simple and comfortable table settings, and decorated with artwork inspired by the village.

I had to have the comfort combo, grilled cheese with bacon with a cup of tomato and celery soup, and Celia enjoyed one of the South’s famous casseroles, Hot Chicken Salad complete with a potato chip crust. We hadn’t seen each other in months so we took our time catching up and savoring every bite.

lunch at shaker village

pie at shaker village

**check out that flaky the crust 

After a bite to eat, make sure you enjoy some of the holiday fun happening in the village. Activities go on throughout the day so before you visit check out the Shaker Village event calendar to see what’s available.

Horse Drawn Carriage

If you arrive at the village during the day, travel around the grounds shaker style in a horse drawn carriage.

shaker village pleasant hill

shaker village kentucky

shaker village at pleasant hill

It couldn’t have been a better weekend to be outside enjoying the fresh air. The carriage ride was a great way to see more of the grounds and thanks to our guides, we learned more about the history of Pleasant Hill.

Please note these tours usually operate April-October check on availability prior to your visit.  1.800.734.5611

Get Illuminated

During the holidays, Shaker Village twinkles at night during Illuminated Evenings with extended hours for the gift shops, hayrides, holiday caroling, hot toddys and bonfires.

The Farm at Shaker Village

Hayrides at Shaker Village

candlelight tours at shaker village

illuminated evenings

holidays at shaker village

Conservation is important to Shaker Village and I was thrilled to learn that after the holidays, all of the Christmas trees will be planted on the property.

shaker village

Booze by a bonfire? Yes please. As the sun went down we sat right here by the fire sipping our cocktails while listening to joyous carols coming from the Meeting House next door. If you’re traveling with children, make sure you take a Jingle Bell Hayride or a long stroll through the grounds before or after dinner to see all of the beautiful decorations.

Shop Til You Drop

There are several gift shops in the village so get all of your holiday shopping done in one weekend! Handmade soaps, nesting boxes, beautiful scarves, books, and gourmet goodies abound. P.S. these shops stay open late during Illuminated Evenings

holiday shopping at shaker village

jams at shaker village

handmade brooms at shaker village

shopping shaker village

shaker village staircase

Shaker Village is the perfect place to get away, slow down, and enjoy the little things especially during the holiday season. Safe travels and happy holidays!

Check out these upcoming holiday events (click on each for more details)

Illuminated Evening, December 18th, 19th

Afternoon Tea, December 19th

Herbal Health Workshop, December 19th

Click here for their full holiday event calendar.

**Please note this post was sponsored by Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill but all opinions are my own.


Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill

3501 Lexington Rd, Harrodsburg, KY 40330

(800) 734-5611


Holiday Gift Guide

December 11, 2015



Christmas is 15 days away! If you’re a last minute shopper (like me) check out a few of my favorite finds to help you finish off your list.  READ MORE

A Visit to Muir Woods and Giving Tuesday

December 1, 2015

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. – John Muir

Muir was so right, at least I think so. I love the built environment, wandering through city streets, eating street food and photographing mansard roofs and fanlights. Escaping to the woods however is also oh so necessary for me.

With three major sale days after Thanksgiving (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday), Giving Tuesday was created to celebrate generosity and serve as a day of giving. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Muir Woods in northern California, a truly great gift that was given to the United States in 1908.


Muir Woods

Photo: Ryan Hines

I’d heard of John Muir but hadn’t studied his work prior to graduate school. I read My First Summer in the Sierras for the first time while taking a Wilderness Management class. It is a beautiful read; a little flowery at times but the emotion and passion Muir had for the wilderness is understood with each word. Many westward pilgrimages were imagined and embarked upon because of Muir and his powerful prose.

Back in the 1800s much of the Northern redwood forests were spared from logging due to their precarious location. In 1905, a wealthy congressman and his wife, William and Elizabeth Kent, purchased 611 acres of forest to be protected. In 1908, they donated the land to the federal government. After which Teddy Roosevelt declared it a National Monument, the first created from land donated by a private individual, and was named for renowned conservationist John Muir.

When the Golden Gate bridge was completed in 1937, visitors to the Muir Woods tripled and today it remains one of the most popular National Monuments in the US. Even with high visitor numbers, the majority of people seem to just walk to the gift shop and turn around. Keep going… Take one of the many loop trails and enjoy the quiet. You may even see a banana slug.

Muir Woods

Photo: Ryan Hines

With so much development today in technology and the built environment, it is extraordinary to have a wild sanctuary like this available for anyone to enjoy.

Giving Tuesday will come and go but in the spirit of the holiday season, I hope you’ll think about causes and organizations that are important to you and your community and give a little. Not everyone can donate millions of dollars, but we can all provide a little time and help make a difference.

Happy Holidays!

Links to organizations I love:

National Trust for Historic Preservation


Humane Society

Girls Inc

St. Simons Land Trust



Muir Woods National Monument






Haight Ashbury Revisited

November 23, 2015

No visit to San Francisco is complete without exploring Haight Ashbury.


haight ashbury


After the Gold Rush, wealthy San Franciscans made their home in the Upper Haight building ornate Victorian homes in the hills. The neighborhood went into decline during the Great Depression and continued through the World Wars. In the 1950s the California Division of Highways had planned to extend freeways across San Francisco destroying many neighborhoods including Haight Ashbury. Due to extreme opposition these plans were squashed which ultimately saved many of the cities’ historic neighborhoods.


haight ashbury victorians


The freeway scare had caused many residents to flee the Haight and with cheap rent and plenty of vacancies in the 1960s, the hippies moved in. Artists, musicians, activists and others from all over the country moved to this neighborhood looking for change. They in turn created their own counter culture that spurred social change. Some say the vibe of peace and love are gone but many of the neighborhood icons like Jerry Garcia’s house and Janis Joplin’s apartment are still standing. The architecture alone is reason enough to visit. Rows of victorians line the streets some brightly colored others piped with flourishes and scrolls as if they were sweet confections.


amoeba music


Besides architecture, check out Amoeba Records and peruse the high end vintage shops. Make sure you continue down Haight Street into the Lower Haight and check out Tornado for some tasty brews from all over California and beyond.


tornado san francisco


haight ashbury victorians


honey bear fnnch haight ashbury

Honey Bear by street artist fnnch


haight ashbury victorian

Goorin Hats Haight Ashbury

Goorin Brothers Hat Shop

haight ashbury


lower haight

haight ashbury


haight ashbury
Have you visited Haight Ashbury? What did you think?

Related articles:

Click here to read more about my first visit to the Haight Ashbury.

Click here to read about Tornado.

Saving Places article: Haight-Ashbury’s Hippie House

Street artist fnnch

Beer Heaven: Tornado

November 18, 2015

tornado san francisco

A few years ago on my first trip to San Francisco, my sister and I explored Haight Ashbury thoroughly. This time around Ryan and I really only had one place on our agenda to visit in the Lower Haight – Tornado. After a delicious brunch at Zazie, we meandered down Haight Street trying to walk off our french toast to make room for beer.

We managed.

tornado san francisco

Modern Times Fruitlands – Sour Cherry Gose


tornado san francisco


tornado san francisco

Russian River Damnation


If you like beer, this place is a must.  Russian River brews on tap are reason enough to come check out this place but the people watching in a place like this is top notch. Suits, students, townies, and vagabonds… all are welcome – just make sure get have cash (ATM in the back). Don’t forget to check out the bottle list too.

My only regret was not being hungry enough to get a sausage from the Rosamaunde Sausage Grill next door. Everyone around us hand one and they looked amazing.

Do you have a favorite beer bar in San Francisco? Lemme know in the comments!


Tornado: 547 Haight San Francisco, CA 94117

Click here for more

An Afternoon at Sutro Baths

November 16, 2015

Most of my travels are driven by food and drink but I do like giving my wallet a break and taking some time to enjoy the outdoors wherever I am. Before our west coast trip, I got a tip from an Instagram friend to visit the Sutro Bath ruins (thanks Caroline!). We lucked out with a sunny Saturday so we  decided to hit the Lands End trail and end at the ruins.

lands end hike

View from the top


The original baths were a feat of engineering and incredibly beautiful. I wish I could take a trip back in time to see this.

Taking cues from naturally occurring tidal pools on his property, self made millionaire Adolph Sutro constructed ocean pool aquarium among the rocks north of the Cliff House in 1894. Sutro then expanded his ocean front complex by constructing a massive public bathhouse that covered three acres…

A classic Greek portal opened to a massive glass enclosure containing seven swimming pools at various temperatures. There were slides, trapezes, springboards and a high dive. The power of the Pacific Ocean during high tide could fill the 1.7 million gallons of water required for all the pools in just one hour. The Baths could accommodate 10,000 people at one time and offered 20,000 bathing suits and 40,000 towels for rent.

Sutro Baths Exterior

Sutro Baths interior

Courtesy of Dennis O’Roarke


In addition to the bathhouse, the property featured a museum containing artifacts from all over the world, “natural history exhibits, galleries of sculptures, paintings, tapestries and artifacts from Mexico, China, Asia, and the Middle East, including the popular Egyptian mummies.”

After Sutro’s death in 1898, the property continued to be maintained by the Sutro family then was sold in the 1950s. Unable to keep up with costly repairs of the baths the mid-century owner closed the pools down for good and tried to keep the property going with an ice rink. There were talks of demolishing the property and building high rise ocean front community and in 1966 a mysterious fire destroyed Sutro Baths. Thankfully the housing proposal was abandoned and the property was absorbed by the Golden Gate Park Recreation area.


sutra baths ruins
lands end hike

lands end hike


lands hike

Ruins are all that remain of Sutro’s impressive public bathhouse but the beautiful ocean front area is preserved and remains available for all San Franciscans and visitors.
lands end hike
lands end hike

There is no entrance fee so it wasn’t surprising for the park and trails to be packed. Give your toes an icy dip in the ocean, soak up the view and salty breeze.

Golden Gate Bride

P.S. The Lands End hike leading to the Sutro ruins provides some beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge. If you’re looking for a quiet visit make sure to go during the week. For more information on access to the Sutro Baths click here.

Sources: The Cliffhouse Project

NPS: Golden Gate Park Recreation Area 

The Little Shamrock: San Francisco

November 9, 2015

I’m finally feel like I’m back in the swing of things after a much needed vacation to the West Coast. Ryan and I started our trip in San Francisco visiting some old friends we hadn’t seen in years. It went by way too fast, as good trips always do, but we had a blast just catching up and checking out some of their favorite bars and restaurants.

We’re notorious procrastinators so it wasn’t too surprising to anyone that we barely slept before our 5am flight because we were up all night packing and getting things ready for our gracious dog sitter. We landed in the early afternoon we headed straight to Arezmendi for a few slices of their daily pizza, then to their apartment for a quick nap. BTW – If you’ve never been to this employee owned bakery in the Inner Sunset – you must go! It is out of this world.

san francisco botanical gardens

The Botanical Gardens are the perfect escape in the middle of the city.

Still groggy from the trip we decided to explore Golden Gate Park and spent the afternoon meandering around the Botanical Gardens. Everything in the park closed around 5pm so we made our way to a neighborhood bar for a few beers and waited for our friends. Walking out of the park I saw signs for the Little Shamrock, a pub with a sign saying it was 120 years old… We had to go in.

the little shamrock

Prior to the trip I’d seen numerous Instagram posts from the National Trust for Historic Preservation about Prop J and legacy businesses and remembered The Little Shamrock was one of them. This prop was designed to create a list of legacy businesses, 30 years or older, that make San Francisco unique and to help these businesses combat the exorbitant rents that have hit this city due to the tech boom. Click here to read more about Prop J. Being a preservationist and small business supporter, this legislation was really exciting.

The Little Shamrock Bar San Francisco

The Little Shamrock was in fact little but full of charm. The place was a classic dive packed with regulars, but we managed to squeeze in at the beautiful bar that we were told is original to the space. The bar keep seemed to know everyone except us so he went out of his way to make us feel at home. There were backgammon tables, sofas, card tables, and a dart room, BYO darts though or Ryan and I would’ve been there all night. To my shock beers were also only $3 (cash only). It’s hard to find that kind of price anywhere let alone SF. We had a couple of rounds, chatted up some locals about the neighborhood, and then hit the road.

Our friends asked us what we did all afternoon and we let them know we found The Little Shamrock. They were proud we found it; it’s their fav neighborhood watering hole as well. I can see why.

So far I’ve hit The Little Shamrock and the Tonga Room (post coming soon) on the Legacy Bar and Restaurant List created by SF Heritage. If you’re in the bay area you should check out the full list and eat, drink, and shop local.

Click here for full list.

 I’m excited to report that Prop J did in fact pass on November 3. Hopefully San Francisco’s iconic businesses will be able to be around a while longer.

Theme by Blogmilk + Coded by Brandi Bernoskie