Local’s Guide to GA FL Weekend

October 29, 2015

uga barn

Every Halloween weekend, thousands of football fans descend on the Golden Isles for the anticipated brawl between the University of Georgia Bulldogs and University of Florida Gators.  This match-up has been going on since 1915 and has been hosted in Jacksonville, Florida since 1933.  Being in such close proximity to Jacksonville, many UGA fans, alums, and students congregate in St. Simons Island for the festivities.  UGA’s fall break coincides with this event causing a circus-like caravan of antsy co-eds sitting in traffic along Hwy 15 heading for the coast after classes starting on Wednesday.

I am a proud UGA alum, but football has never really been my thing.  I enjoy socializing and going to parties but if the bulldogs lose…it’s not gonna ruin my day (unlike some).  If you find yourself in this boat and want to brave the Golden Isles for a mini beach vacay- don’t worry- there is plenty to do in SSI for those not as concerned with the game’s outcome. Here’s my guide to GA/FL weekend in St. Simons Island!

Coffee

If you are gonna make it through this weekend, you’re gonna need a lot of coffee!  Morning, afternoon, or at night Wake Up Coffee in Redfern Village is my go-to.  Lots of yummy baked goods, fair trade coffee, teas, and unique gift items from around the world.  Two words: Beach Tote

wake up cold brew

Wake Up Coffee, Photo: Lucy Thompson


Staying near the Village?  Palm Coast Coffee is on the main drag with all your coffee favorites and yummy organic teas. Grab a cup and a seat on the porch…great for people watching.

Food

If you have ever been to SSI, then you know the majority of your vacay revolves around eating.  For you newbies- prepare to gorge.

Breakfast: Cafe Frederica, hands down has the best breakfast on the Island.  You can cure any hangover here or fuel up for a long day of shopping.  My go to is a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich with grapefruit.  Feeling sweet?  Go for the blueberry pancakes or the cinnamon roll (it’s the bomb). I’ve been hearing lots of great things about Del Sur Bakery that opened up shop in recent years so I’ll have to stop by sometime over the holidays.

cafe frederica cinnamon rolls

Cafe Frederica

Casual spots: Gnat’s Landing, Bubba Garcias, Southern Soul, and Indigo Coastal Shanty (Brunswick, GA).  Good for lunch or dinner, these island favorites serve up tasty items like the Fried Oysters (Gnat’s), Jerk Shrimp Taco Salad (Bubba’s), Pulled Pork (Southern Soul), and a pimento cheese burger (Indigo Coastal Shanty).

bubba garcias

Bubba Garcias

southern soul bbq

 

Fine dining: Regardless of the cuisine served, most SSI restaurants are accustomed the”Island Style” dress of visitors and locals alike.  Delaney’s Bistro & Bar is a must when in St. Simons. If you don’t make it this weekend, you’ll need to make another trip asap. Their entire menu is divine but if you plan on going out opt for the the tapas menu, featuring dishes like lamb pops (pictured above) and burger sliders. After dinner, skipping dessert is not an option.  Choices vary by season but are always delightful.  If they have the chocolate bourbon pecan pie it is an absolute must or the white chocolate cheesecake…both are killer.  Other high end spots I love are HalyardsTramici, and Coastal Kitchen.

delaneys bistro

Delaney’s Bistro

 

Game Time

Like I said before, watching the game is not of the utmost importance to me.  I tend to float from place to place visiting friends and family while the two teams duke it out. However, I do enjoy the snacks that go along with football. If I were there this year, I’d be ordering hot wings at Bubba Garcias with an ice cold beer. Maybe some boiled peanuts too.

If you’re watching the game at home, think ahead and order BBQ to go from Southern Soul. You can also stock up on gourmet goodies at the Sea Island Market.

Shopping – Prepare Your Wallet for Monster Sales

petite maison

Petite Maison

This weekend is usually host to a million sidewalk/tent sales because of the influx of visitors. Don’t be dissuaded by the crowds though, most of the sales are absolutely worth waiting in line for a dressing room.

The Tibi outlet is usually one of my first stops.  During GA/FL weekend they have a HUGE sale and stay open throughout the weekend making it convenient for visitors and locals to come shop.  The designer, Amy Smilovic, is a fellow UGA alum and grew up in St. Simons.  She was kind enough to bless us with the Tibi Outlet located in Redfern Village.  The prices are great and they often feature runway samples!

Wild Souls in Redfern Village is a new shop that has a great selection of affordable boho style apparel and accessories. I haven’t visited yet but you can shop their website. I snagged this LBD (below) recently and was perfect for my trip to the San Francisco last week.

st simons island shopping

Dress: Wild Souls // Boots: Two Friends

 

GoGo: stunning jewelry inspired by the coast

Nancy: designer duds, vintage home decor, and a delicious restaurant all in one.

Viola’s Market: one of my all time favorite shops with antiques, jewelry, and accessories. This is my go-to shop for gifts.

Two Friends: cute accessories! I always find the best shoes here.

Petite Maison always has the coolest up and coming artists featured as well as unique home decor and funky jewels

Beaches

Every now and then you and your wallet might get tired from all that shopping; if that happens then head to the beach. You’ll be hard pressed to avoid the craziness on the St. Simons Island beaches. If you’re wanting more peace and quiet on your beach walk, I’d head to Sea Island or Jekyll Island’s Boneyard Beach.

sea island georgia

Sea Island, Photo: Ryan Hines

 

 

Nightlife

Remember this is a busy weekend in St. Simons so if you don’t like being close to your neighbors, then you might think about skipping the late night scene. But if you’re brave…  For craft beer check out Bubbas Up (above Bubba Garcias). They usually have several Georgia offerings like Creature Comforts (Athens) and Wild Heaven (Atlanta) on tap and a good bottle/can list. Grab a seat on the porch for a view of Redfern and some stellar people watching. If you’re interested in live music check out Gnat’s Landing late night. Murphy’s Tavern is a cool dive bar in the Village that will be jam packed.

For a more mellow lounge, check out the Village Pub at the Village Inn.  This restored 1930s beach house turned B&B has a small bar with a beautiful patio, yummy snack mix and friendly bartenders.

Whether or not you care about football, this is a fun weekend to be in St. Simons Island!  Enjoy!

bubba garcias

Bubbas Up

 

Indy’s Chicest Boutique Hotel

October 12, 2015

Indianapolis is just an hour away from Bloomington making it a great weekend getaway destination. I was immediately drawn to The Alexander Hotel downtown because of their art collection throughout the hotel. The location is ideal; close to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium, Monument Circle, not to mention walking distance to my favorite brunch at Milktooth.

indys chicest boutique hotel: the alexander

indys chicest boutique hotel: the alexander hotel

 

indys chicest boutique hotel: the alexander hotel lobby

indys chicest boutique hotel: alexander hotel

This hotel is Instagram gold. Don’t you agree? I’ll be sharing more about the hotel art collection in my next post.

The rooms are bright and modern with pops of color here and there.  Beware – the local goodies in the mini bar area are dangerously good!

indys chicest boutique hotel: the alexander hotel

indys chicest boutique hotel: the alexander

 

indys chicest boutique hotel: the alexander hotel

 

Take time to lounge but don’t forget to explore this gorgeous city. The Cultural Trail, a walking and biking trail, is just outside the front door and the hotel comes equipped with bikes for guests to use at no extra charge. Cruise around downtown or head to one of the nearby attractions like the White River State Park or the Indianapolis Art Museum.

roy lichenstein at IMA

After a full day, head back to the hotel for cocktails at Plat 99.

indys chicest boutique hotel: cocktails at plat 99

Serving up Indiana beer on tap, wine and some crafty cocktails, this lounge is a popular spot for hotel guests and locals. Bonus – they give each table a bag truffle popcorn. Soak up some sun on the patio or get cozy on the sofas inside and watch the bartenders work their magic. If you’re in the mood for a light dinner or late night snack, check out their menu. The ultimate grilled cheese (local cappicola, goat cheese, arugula, sriracha aoli) is killer.

indys chicest boutique hotel: plat 99 at the alexander

 

If you’re in the mood for dinner, head downstairs to Cerulean. Their menu is always changing serving locally sourced produce and meats it is always a treat to see what they’ve come up with.

indys chicest boutique hotel: cerulean restaurant

Maple Leaf Farms Duck

Dessert is a must. Suck it up.

indys chicest boutique hotel: dessert at cerulean

Superb customer service, cozy rooms, one of a kind art, and fabulous on site dining and drinks, The Alexander has it all. I look forward to my next visit!

Want a free night’s stay at The Alexander? Enter the #ArtoftheSelfie contest on Instagram. To Enter: Follow The Alexander, @thealexanderhotel, post your best selfie, and tag it with #Artoftheselfie. A new winner is announced each month!

Indys chicest boutique hotel: the alexander hotel

#ArtoftheSelfie

The Alexander 

333 S Delaware St, Indianapolis, IN 46204

To learn more about The Alexander click here.

This post has been sponsored by The Alexander but the opinions are my own.

Brunch at Southport Grocery

October 5, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I spent the weekend with my sister Madeline in her Southport neighborhood. We didn’t have an agenda at all – just relax, window shop and eat (of course). We accomplished all of those things but with a longish drive ahead of me, we decided Sunday brunch was a must. Walking around Southport we came across this cute spot…

southport grocery chicago

 

emily hines

Southport Grocery and Cafe is a quaint local spot located in the hub of the Southport neighborhood near Wrigley Field. They serve up breakfast and lunch daily for hungry Chicagoans; this Sunday was particularly crowded in large part due to a Cubs game that afternoon.  We waited a few minutes for a table outside in the sunshine staring at the gorgeous Anthropologie window displays next door.

Starved, we started off with the “grown-up pop tart” and some coffee. How could we resist? This warm, doughy pastry was stuffed with local preserves, vanilla walnuts, marscapone cheese, then griddled to perfection.

grown up pop tart at southport grocery

They’re famous for their bread pudding pancakes but we decided savory entrees would be a good follow up to the pop tart starter. The Ham & Grits caught my eye with country ham and red-eye gravy and Mad went with their signature hash topped with a fried egg. Both were spot on.

southport grocery hash

 

After brunch we perused the aisles of preserves, dressings, and other goodies. They also have a cooler of prepared foods and I was happy to snatch the last club sandwich for my road trip home.

southport grocery preserves

 

southport2

southport grocery takeout

For a a leisurely brunch or superb take out for the office, Southport Grocery is just THE place.

 

Cafe Tola

September 22, 2015

cafe tola

After a long drive to Chicago, my sister and I decided to explore her Lakeview neighborhood. Once on Southport Avenue, I immediately noticed a white and hot pink glowing sign further down the street. As we grew closer, I saw EMPANADAS written across the front of the building screaming for us to come in.

cafe tola

cafe tola

During the day there is almost always a line for the “best empanadas in the city.” but we lucked out Friday night only having a couple of hungry people in front of us. Bright colors bombard you as soon as you cross the threshold  with vibrant Mexican art and bright soda cans lining the walls of the little empanada depot. Frida must be the shop muse because she is everywhere . We quickly ordered a couple of pork empanadas, one spicy for Madeline and one with garlic and onions for me. So good I forgot to take a photo, but you know what empanadas look like (little pockets of fried goodness).

cafe tola cafe tola

cafe tola

Two girls manned the counter, grill and fryer as Beyonce’s Drunk in love blared on the stereo. They were so friendly chatting with us about the different flavors and occasionally bursting into song. Most importantly they told us about Taco Fest that was happening over the weekend in the neighborood.  With fresh empanadas and iced coffee in hand we were ready for more shopping.

cafe tola

Truth be told, I went back on Sunday for their signature empanada (black bean, goat cheese, and plantains) for the road!

If you find yourself in the Lakeview area, maybe before or after a Cubs game, go check out Cafe Tola! Full espresso bar with donuts and empanadas made daily.

Cafe Tola – http://www.cafetola.net

@cafetola on instagram

 

 

Chairish Challenge: White to Bright

September 9, 2015

cherish challenge white to bright

 

Have you heard of Chairish? It’s an online emporium and design lovers paradise where you can buy and sell vintage furniture, decor, and other accessories. They recently invited me to participate in their accent chair design challenge to take a room from white to bright. 

There is nothing like coming home after a long day, making a cocktail, and getting cozy in a big chair in front of the fireplace so I wanted to create a cozy space to relax and recharge. I tend to gravitate towards white and neutral furniture making it easy to incorporate lots of bright colors with accessories so I chose this pearly white leather wing back chair for my accent chair.

In graduate school I spent several weeks taking a class on urban development and historic preservation in Turkey; while traveling around the country I fell in head over heels with the funky patterns and colors of their textiles. Both the turquoise rug and pink Kilim pouf ottoman are vintage Turkish pieces that I found perusing Chairish.com; their bright jewel tones help set the tone for this vignette. The clean lines of the Mid Century Modern bar cabinet and cocktail pitcher are so sleek and contrast the fluidity of the wingback chair and sconces well. In a restful corner like this, you can never have too many books. Chairish has a fully stocked vintage book section on their website you could look at for hours. Don’t forget a colorful throw!

I should mention that white furniture in my real life is close to impossible because I have two big black labs and a burly husband. What you see above is my inspiration for a nook in my office or sitting room one day… puppy and husband free of course.

Chairish is an incredible resource for finding authentic vintage pieces. I love thrifting and antiquing but sometimes you can’t find exactly what you need so if you have a piece from a specific era in mind check out their website because you may be able to find something near you and pick it up instead of having it shipped to you. It’s like having the best antique markets and dealers from around the country at your fingertips!

Click on the items below to shop my look!

// Wingback Chair //  Needlepoint Pillow // End Table // Sconces // Art // Kilm Pouf // Rug // Books // Sari throw // Cocktail Pitcher // Mid Century Bar Cabinet

Click here to see their entire collection of accent chairs.

*Please note this post was not sponsored by Chairish.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soaking Up Summer

September 2, 2015

College towns are best in the summer time… I love the activity of the school year, but I relish the quiet while the students are away. Plus, you can always get a parking space, waits at restaurants aren’t nearly as long, and you can enjoy the lake without hundreds of double decker pontoon boats scooting around.

School is back in session, but since it’s the last official weekend of summer and there are plenty of hot days ahead this September, I wanted to share a few of my fav summer spots in Bloomington with y’all.

Lake Monroe

soaking up summer: lake monroe

If I can’t be on a beach with my toes in the sand and surfing the salty waves a big blue lake will do. I got hooked on paddle boarding when we lived in Hawaii and love having this huge lake ten minutes from town. If you don’t have your own paddling gear check out IU Outdoor Adventure for rentals. They have a wide variety of gear and it’s extremely affordable. Don’t want to do the work? You can rent boats from Paynetown Recreation Area.

 

Bloomington Farmers Market

soaking up summer: bloomington farmers market

Ride down the B-Line (urban walking biking trail) and stop by Le Petite Cafe for a bite, croque madame and crepes are my favorite. Then meander through the farmers market to do some shopping (and maybe some more eating), and enjoy the people watching. The Farmers Market is open from April-November.

Cardinal Spirits

soaking up summer: cardinal spirits

soaking up summer: cardinal spirits

My favorite patio in town is Cardinal Spirits, hands down! It’s right on the B-Line making it really bike friendly and is the perfect place to soak up some sunshine and enjoy a cocktail. Bonus: On Tuesdays they create special tiki drinks and most nights you can enjoy delicious Mexican food from the La Poblana food truck.

Upland Brewing Co.

soaking up summer: upland brewing co

You can often find me here on Sunday afternoons eating pulled pork nachos and drinking beer. This Friday they’re hosting one of my favorite bluegrass musicians, Larry Keel, and a slew of other Americana bands for their annual fundraiser for Sycamore Land Trust. Can’t wait! BTW if you don’t have tickets yet their doing a giveaway on their instagram account now! 

larry keel

 

Feast

soaking up summer: feast bloomington

croque madame anyone?

My ideal Sunday is sleeping in, coffee, bike ride through Bryan Park to brunch at Feast on their patio. Lunch and dinner are equally delicious.

Charles Deam Wilderness

soaking up summer: Charles Deam Wilderness

When Ryan and I want to get away but don’t have time for a big trip, we head to the Charles Deem Wilderness Area. They have miles of trails to explore and plenty of camping spots. This area is seems to be less used than the state parks in the area so if you’re looking for solitude, this is the place. For an even more remote camping excursion, try paddling to one of the lakeside camping spots not accessible by trails. For maps and more info click here.

 

Hope y’all have a fun Labor Day Weekend!

 

Dream Cars

August 21, 2015

dream cars

No plans this weekend? Check out Dream Cars: Innovative Design and Visionary Ideas at the Indianapolis Museum of Art Museum. Midnight blue, hot rod red, sleek silver, all decked in chrome, these incredible concept cars show off automobile history starting in the 1930s up through the 2000s. READ MORE

IPA Day

August 6, 2015

Hail to the hops. It’s National IPA Day!

Never heard of it? ”

Founded in 2011, IPA Day is a universal movement created to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers and brewers worldwide, using social media as the common arena for connecting the conversation.

IPA Day is not the brainchild of a corporate marketing machine, nor is it meant to serve any particular beer brand. IPA Day is opportunity for all breweries, bloggers, businesses and consumers to connect and share their love of craft beer. It is an opportunity for the entire craft beer culture to combine forces and advocate craft beer through increased education and global awareness.” – The Beer Wench READ MORE

Curious Tuesday

July 26, 2015

After a beer filled weekend in Asheville, North Carolina I continued south to visit some friends and drink some fantastic southern beer in Athens, Georgia. Even in the middle of summer, there is always something happening in the Classic City.

creature comforts

via creature comforts

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Drinking in Louisville

July 12, 2015

There’s more to drinking in Louisville than juleps. On our recent trip to Louisville we spent the weekend catching up with some old friends and exploring the city one bar at a time.

Four Pegs, Louisville READ MORE

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