a triumphant return to st. augustine

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As you might know, I lived in St. Augustine, Florida while doing my undergrad at Flagler College and have so many good memories of my time there. From swimming in ocean in the mornings before class and hanging out at all of the cute cafés to riding my bike around the cobblestone streets and appreciating all of the historic architecture (in addition to all of the typical college experiences, too, of course), there was always something to appreciate.

But, I didn’t go back to visit St. Augustine for a really long time after graduating because the end of senior year was a weird time for me and for awhile, I felt really negative connotations with the town that I loved so much before. I finally went back for the first time last summer, three years (!!!) after graduation with my friend Ryan, who I had studied with and was back in Florida visiting from New Jersey. He admitted that he kind of had some of the same weird feelings being back, which made me feel so much better about the whole thing.

While it was weird seeing all the ways things had changed and all the old places where I had so many memories, it was a good way to get over the bad vibes. Since then, I had visited one other time but it was at night and rainy and wasn’t the most exciting. But, this past weekend, my friend Holly and I planned a day trip that I felt helped me to reclaim my old city as my own.

Holly grew up in North Carolina and only moved to Florida recently. She’d been wanting to spend some time in St. Augustine and I’ve become a pretty enthusiastic tour guide, so I was excited for the day. What made it even better was that she recently bought the same exact car as me, so it was like being a passenger in my own vehicle on the way up. Haha.

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We started by getting donuts and driving up A1A along the beach to get there, which is one of my favorite drives. Sometimes when I had the time, I would take this route going back to school from my parents’ house in New Smyrna Beach in the evening. I always listened to Lana Del Rey on the drives for some reason (lol) and it was so magical. It’s an ocean view almost the entire way until you pass through some small, really Southern looking towns and then get into St. Augustine Beach.

Once we got into the beach side of town, we passed some of my old haunts like Café 11 (which had the best caprese sandwich and there were always dogs out on the patio), the beach outpost of Kookaburra Coffee, and the beach entry by the pier that was always my go-to.

Passing by the beach as we approached downtown, we passed the old office of the wedding planning company I worked for in school as well as the lighthouse and the touristy Alligator Farm, somewhere I’d never actually ended up visiting.

Crossing over the Bridge of Lions is always a kind of magical experience because you get the most amazing view of historic downtown as well as the portion of the St. John’s River that comes through town. Sometimes, you’ll get stopped if the drawbridge is up, but it’s fun because you can get out of the car and walk around. Didn’t happen to us today, but the view was perfect nonetheless.

So, we parked over on a street by my old dorm and walked up through campus so I could show her the amazing architecture and especially the courtyard which is one of my favorite places in town.

We walked around a little and stopped in this new self-serve tap room situation which reminded me of a scaled down version of a wine bar I love in Winter Park. We had some wine and pineapple cider, then walked uptown around where my former hairstylist’s salon is. I like the uptown area because it’s less touristy than much of downtown.

Our first stop was Juniper Market which is a super aesthetically pleasing coffee shop slash market slash art studio. It’s all white shiplap and there are tons of gorgeous paintings and paper goods created in house. There were some gorgeous postcards with painted magnolias and oranges that I’m very much coveting!

We went next door to Goldfinch, a boutique I loved exploring when I was in school. They have a really cute curated selection of chic, beachy bohemian dresses, bags, and jewelry. Next stop was the antique store across the street where I found a gorgeous pair of vintage earrings for $2! 😍

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Next, we walked over to one of my all-time favorite restaurants in the world, The Floridian. I absolutely adored their original location which was right next door to my communications building and was sad to hear that they had moved but I ended up really adoring the new location. They were able to really retain and maybe even enhance the cozy, homey, Southern vibe.

What I love about The Floridian is how it celebrates Florida heritage in a way that’s authentic. There’s no Mickey Mouses or tacky neon palm trees. Instead, there are beautiful wooden antiques, the most stunning alligator painting (it might be charcoal), and a creative, well thought out menu that sources locally.

I got my go-to order, the Fried Green Tomato hoagie with side salad and sweet tea. My friend got a Fried Green Tomato BLT (with bacon jam instead of actual bacon) and a Garden Gimlet which was this really great herby cocktail.

After our early dinner, we went over to Ice Plant which is one of my favorites that I never visited enough when I lived in town. It’s this great bar inside a 1920s ice factory that serves a vintage inspired menu. I got my go-to Moscow Mule and we sat there for quite awhile talking about fun potential future plans and making friends with one of the bartenders who was a fellow Flagler graduate. He was definitely the kind of person who made me proud to have graduated from Flagler because was so intelligent and thoughtful about the issues we were discussing.

I took a couple photos while we were having drinks and sort of love them because they have an interesting vibe and look like they could’ve been taken in the 1920s, particularly the one at the bottom of this post. It really feels like it tells a story.

After drinks, we went over to the beach. My friend is from North Carolina but once came to St. Augustine for spring break and, coincidentally, one of the spots that meant a lot of her was the same pier that holds a place in a lot of my own memories.

So, we went over there and walked on the beach. It was getting dark and misty and I was wearing wellies, so it weirdly felt like being on a beach in England or something!

Last stop was ice-cream because how else would we end the day? We picked some up and then made the drive back home. It was super misty at that point so all of the fluorescent signs along the beach made it feel like we were in a film noir. Ultimately, it was such an inspiring day and made me feel really excited for the rest of the year!

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healthy plane snacks for your upcoming holiday travel

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With the holidays right around the corner, I know a lot of you are heading to the airport for flights home and are probably anticipating a ton of sweets and amazing holiday food when you arrive. Flying can be really hard on your body in so many ways, so it’s important to eat healthy when you’re on the plane. Your skin is already getting dehydrated and your immune system is really vulnerable, so it’s best to be mindful of what you’re eating mid-flight.

Here are a couple of easy ideas for healthy plane snacks that are TSA friendly!

avocado on rice crisps
Pack a sealed container with seeded crackers (I love the brand Mary’s Gone Crackers) and sliced avocado as a super healthy, savory snack.

fab four smoothie
Kelly Leveque had the best idea for an easy drink to take with you on the road. Fill a shaker bottle with two tablespoons of chia seeds and a packet of collagen powder. Once you get through security at the airport, order an unsweetened iced green tea from Starbucks and mix it all together!

bare apple chips
I love these apple chips for a travel snack because they’re sweet and chewy and a little bit crunchy.

dang coconut chips
Another good sweet snack that comes in nice little portions. There are a variety of flavors, but I just like the classic toasted coconut.

fresh fruit
This one is so easy, plus the clean up is simple. My favorite fruits to take on planes are bananas, apples, pears, and grapes because they’re not at all messy and they’re super filling.

roasted chickpeas
This is one of my favorite snacks whether I’m traveling or at home and it has so much protein. I pour a can of drained chickpeas on a baking sheet and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes until they’re slightly crunchy. You can add all sorts of seasoning too! I like doing a simple salt and pepper or adding in a little paprika or Old Bay.

veggies + hummus
Fill up a little Tupperware container with sliced carrots and celery, maybe even some pita chips, and homemade hummus or you can pick up some at the airport if you forget!

popcorn
This is a wonderful plane snack because it feels indulgent, but it can be super easy. You can make a bag at home and bring it along but it’s probably easier to buy a bag in the terminal. I suggest Skinny Pop, Boom Chicka Pop, or Budda Bowl.

nut butter packets
Bring along some individual packets of peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower butter to eat by itself or spread onto fruit.

protein truffles
Make your own protein truffles to bring along as dessert. I recommend these, but there are so many variations to try out.

planning my trip to london + partnering with boden

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Happy Monday, everyone! If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’m partnering with Boden for the next three months to share their winter collections with you all. As a lover of British fashion, I’m a big fan of Boden and this collaboration actually comes at the perfect time since I’m currently planning a trip to London for the spring.

Since that’s the case, I thought it was only right that I order this London mug to celebrate! Tomorrow, I have a post scheduled to share the pieces I chose, courtesy of the Boden team, for this month but in the meantime, I wanted to share a little bit about how I’m planning my London trip.

I have a pretty long travel bucket list and a couple of locations that keep popping up in my mind over and over. With all of the hype around Harry & Meghan’s wedding this year, I got super excited about London again and decided that’d be where I go next! Since then, we’ve also added on a second location in Europe which will be really fun!

Okay, so you may already know that I’m a pretty obsessive planner so some of this might seem a little crazy to be doing so far out, but I swear it pays off!

travel planning tools

google maps
I’ve been using the ‘Your Maps’ feature, which is one of the best travel planning resources I’ve come across. You can basically pin all of the locations you’re interested in on your own custom map. One scenario where this is really helpful is for choosing restaurants. You pin every restaurant in the city that you’d like to visit, then when you’re out and about and get hungry, you check the map to see which is closest. You can also use the maps to help plan your itinerary.

google sheets
I use a multi-page Google sheet to organize our itinerary primarily because it’s accessible from all of my devices and for anyone I share it with. This just makes it easy to reference and edit the document whenever I need to. I plan a pretty tight itinerary because I like to have an idea of what I’m doing during the day, but I make sure to schedule time for spontaneity, which is kind of a funny concept but it works.

tripit app
This app is a great way to keep all of your important travel information organized. Right now, I only need the free version but will probably upgrade right before my trip. I’ve linked the app to my email so it stores my flight and hotel confirmations all in one place along with any ticket purchases. On the day of travel, the upgraded app will give you all sorts of updates from any flight changes to gate locations and even suggest when to leave your house based on airport traffic.

choosing where to stay

hotel versus airbnb
I debated between staying in a hotel or renting a flat through Airbnb or One Fine Stay. I’ve done both in the past and like them almost equally with hotels only coming out ahead by a little bit. After looking at the prices of flats in my desired area, I realized they were priced at or even sometimes above what a good hotel would cost, so I went with a hotel. In other cities, Airbnbs tend to be cheaper than hotels but that’s not the case in most areas of London, from my experience.

surrounding area
I wanted to be in a central area because this is my first trip to London, so I figured I’ll save the East End for another trip. I looked around Marylebone, Mayfair, Covent Garden, and so on, but really wanted to be in Mayfair, so that’s where I ended up booking. I’ll post more about the hotel in my post-trip blogs in the spring, but I’m excited about where we’re staying!

proximity to the tube
This is a big one no matter where I’m traveling. If there’s public transportation, I want to be as close as possible. The hotel we booked is like a three minute walk from the Tube and there’s a ton of cute things en route 😉

planning daily activities

planning for spontaneity
Like I mentioned above, I like to plan time for spontaneity. I make sure to have time in the schedule available to do things last minute I may not have thought of before and that time tends to be scheduled in the evening.

grouping by location
A great way to plan your itinerary is to group things by location, which is made super easy by using the custom map tool in Google Maps. I will typically pick a neighborhood or two for each day and schedule my itinerary around those locations. For instance, one day will start in Notting Hill, then flow through Kensington.

grouping by theme
A more unique, fun way to schedule that I considered was grouping by theme. For instance, I thought about doing themed days like history, royals, pretty things (art and cute cafes), and so on. For example, the history day would consist of visiting historical sites and even choosing restaurants with historical significance. I still think that’d be fun to do, but this trip will be scheduled by location.

what’s on my itinerary
I don’t wanna give too much away because it’ll all be covered in my posts after the trip, but one thing I’m really, really excited about is the fact that I’ll be there on my birthday and have already gotten tickets for the Harry Potter Studio tour that day and also plan on doing breakfast at Chiltern Firehouse.

packing + logistics

styling outfits ahead of time
It might seem weird to be planning my outfits six months in advance, but I swear it’s such a good idea because it gives you plenty of time to think of things you want/need that may not come to mind closer to the trip. I create little look books of the outfits I want to wear, then figure out what pieces I already have (the majority) and what things I need to buy before that time.

organizing practical items
I like to be organized really early on so that I don’t forget anything. A few months in advance, I like to get all of my travel related items together in one place. This includes my passport, converters, travel pouches, packing cubes, and so on. I round up all of these items and put them in a box labeled ‘travel’ so that I know where to find everything.

carry-on kit
I’ll talk about this in more detail later and include photos, but I like to start planning what I’ll take in my carry on so I have it ready to go. Typically I take a few beauty items like face mist and hand cream plus entertainment (books, podcasts), and some health items like snacks and a lifesaver kit with tea and vitamins.

Do you have any big trips coming up?

plant shopping at the heavy winter park

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Guys, I found the cutest new spot in Winter Park! For those who don't know, Winter Park is a beautiful little town in the vicinity of Orlando, Florida and it's one that I love to visit as often as possible now that I only live a short drive away. As you may have seen in my post from Monday, Winter Park has so many cute little restaurants and shops (i.e. the Rifle Paper Co. headquarters!) and I've found the newest one.

The Heavy is located inside an old seafood facility. I'm not going to lie, when you walk in you can even smell it a little! Haha. But, once you see what they've done to the place you'll totally forget about it. The entire warehouse is decorated with bohemian furniture and plants galore. It is primarily a plant store, but it doubles as a hangout and event space where they'll be hosting classes and restaurant pop-ups. 

When you pass through a non-descript curtain, you enter the 'patio therapy' section which is seriously gorgeous. It's just floor to ceiling plants, mainly succulents in beautiful little pottery. I loved exploring this space so much and can't wait to go back for an event!

cute places to eat in orlando // coffee talk

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Hello, hello! I'm loving these coffee talk posts I've started doing. They're a great way to share some of things on my mind that don't necessarily warrant a full post. Quick note, I saw quite a few new movies this month, so a lot of this post will be little movie reviews. 

But first! I wanted to share a few of the cutest places to eat in the Orlando/Winter Park area. Orlando is one of the most visited cities in the world, yet so many people only know the Disney side of it. You guys, there is so much more to Orlando than just the theme parks. I'll be sharing more recommendations in the future, but for now here are some spots to grab a meal: Prato, Briarpatch (my personal fave), Canvas, Plant Street Kitchen, Chroma, Ethos Vegan Kitchen, Craft + Common, and Deeply Coffee.

working with a life coach // I had the chance to work with a life and career coach earlier this month and it was so interesting. This is something I've wanted to do for awhile and finally had the chance. I took a behavioral assessment called the DiSC, then sat down to discuss my results with her. What's cool about this assessment is that it isn't for the purpose of changing your personality, but rather teaching you how to use your personality to its greatest potential. I highly recommend working with a coach like this if you ever have the chance.

college classes that matter // Emma recently posted about the college classes that helped her in real life, which was timely because I had been thinking about the topic just beforehand. I've always loved school, so it's hard for me to relate when people feel that any class is pointless, but I still thought it'd be helpful to share which classes really have helped me in "real life". For context, I'm an event planner but have also worked in PR for film and marketing for the beauty industry. I'd say that my top 5 most useful classes were Management Information Systems (basically Excel), Art History (having those creative references has been vital), New Venture Creation and Development, Business Law, and just basic English Composition classes. 

eating more vegetables // I've been seeing a lot of articles lately about how Americans don't early nearly enough vegetables. I'm pretty good at eating vegetables considering my family has been primarily plant-based for years now, but even I think I can still do better. So then, I stumbled upon this list of Mark Bitman's 101 Simple Salad ideas. This list is such a good resource that's helpful for really appreciating and learning about different vegetables and how you can pair them together to make easy, delicious, healthy meals. I actually have my own go-to, simple salad that I eat nearly everyday. It's butter lettuce, thinly sliced Granny Smith Apples, Organic Girl White Cheddar Dressing (it's way healthier than you'd think), a sliced hardboiled egg, and candied walnuts. To make the walnuts, you just heat up some maple syrup in a pan and toss walnuts in it then let it cool in a dish for a few minutes.

mission impossible: fallout // My dad and I went to see this earlier in the month and it was so, so, good. I love all things having to do with spies and thought the trailer for this film was absolutely incredible, so my expectations were high and they were definitely met. It's nonstop action and twists with beautiful fight choreography. I've read a lot recently about how Tom Cruise does all of his own stunts which made the movie even better. Also, I noticed that while it was violent, it wasn't at all gory and could actually be a good movie for younger audiences too.

eighth grade // I'd been dying to see this movie for awhile now and was so glad to see it playing in my nearby theater. I'm a big Bo Burnham fan and think it's fascinating he decided his directorial debut would be a film about what it's like to be a girl in 8th grade. I thought it was such a good portrayal of that age group, especially of today's generation. Even though I wasn't nearly as awkward of an 8th grader as Kayla (that's not to say I wasn't awkward, but it wasn't as bad as this specific portrayal), I thought both Burnham and actress Elsie Fisher did a great job with a realistic portrayal of an 8th grader's personality and quirks. There's this great scene when Kayla goes to a pool party hosted by the 'cool girl' and the entire scene just paints this picture of her terror as she enters a pool full of the 'cool kids'. But as an adult, the scene really shows the 'cool kids' for what they are, which is weird, freaky, goofy, non-threatening little thirteen year olds.

crazy rich asians // SO. GOOD. You all know by now how much I love Kevin Kwan's series of books. I had high expectations for the movie and I was impressed. We got to the theater early for the 8:30 showing but it was already sold out! We ended up going to the 10:20 pm showing and were surprised to see that even that late showing was packed to the brim. That makes me so, so, so happy. The movie was funny, beautiful, and just really cute. So happy to see that they're making the sequel China Rich Girlfriend, that the film is killing it at the box office, and that it's having such a huge, cultural impact! Definitely go see it if you haven't already.

skyfall // Finally got the chance to watch this one! I couldn't find anywhere to watch it for years, but it happened to be in stock at my library this week. This was a really good Bond film, for sure. Loved the locations and the story line. My mom even liked it and she's not super into this kind of movie. I have to say my favorite is still Spectre, but this is a close second.