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

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. READ MORE

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.

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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.


illuminated evenings | em's on the road



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. READ MORE

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. READ MORE

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. READ MORE

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