march in monterey

This past weekend, Scott and I took a little one night getaway to Monterey! We woke up early Saturday morning to hit the road and it was so worth it—we made it to Monterey before lunchtime and were able to spend the whole day and night exploring. We saw lots of gorgeous gardens and of course we ate and shopped on Cannery Row.IMG_9298One of the highlights was eating at The Fish Hopper. It is a waterfront (more like water-top…it’s literally on stilts over the water) restaurant right in the heart of Cannery Row and it was awesome! The food was delicious and the views from our table were spectacular. Even though it was a bit noisy for us, it was so special to have a fancy dinner together and watch the sunset over the Pacific right outside our window!IMG_4274IMG_6858Monterey is only about 2-ish hours from San Francisco, so the drive is really easy and doable. With that said, we knew we wanted to spend one night to really make the trip worth it. We stayed near the beach Saturday night and ate a delicious brunch Sunday morning at Wave Street Cafe. I’ve told Scott that we have to eat at this place every single time we come to Monterey in the future—it was that good! The french toast was the hit of the morning, though the eggs benedict was delicious too.IMG_5231We did a little more shopping and sightseeing on Sunday afternoon before heading back in the evening to San Francisco. It’s amazing how a little time away together out of the city makes us feel so renewed and upbeat! I’m already wondering when we can go back to beautiful Monterey…Scott and I agree June might be the perfect time, and I can’t wait!IMG_1459IMG_2908

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tulips in golden gate park

IMG_1342One thing I didn’t realize until I moved to San Francisco is that sunshine is really important to me. I can’t believe I had to move to a city covered in grey clouds and fog (during June and July, no less) to realize this, but I guess I just took it for granted living in Florida and Tennessee. So, when sunshine strikes in San Francisco, I try to take advantage!

This weekend, Scott and I popped over to the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in Golden Gate Park! We spent a lot of time indoors (seeing The Book of Mormon at the Orpheum and seeing Black Panther at our neighborhood movie theater) so the dose of Vitamin D was much needed.

The tulips were so vibrant and beautiful—I thought I’d share some photos here!IMG_1340

IMG_5070Golden Gate Park is one of those places that we always show to visitors when they’re in town. There is a main park entrance two blocks from my house! The park is full of so many different unique spots, including polo fields, an archery range, multiple gardens and windmills, several museums, a lake for canoeing, and several ponds. (Plus much more!) Golden Gate Park is actually larger than Central Park (fun fact) so naturally there’s always something to do.IMG_6616We are looking forward to many more Sundays to come in Golden Gate Park this spring!

thanksgiving in denver

Scott and I just returned from a wonderful Thanksgiving in Denver! It was bittersweet to be apart from my family in Atlanta, but it was special to spend the holiday with him for the first time and get to meet so many more of his family members and friends.

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Spending Thanksgiving Day together! 11/23/17

We flew from San Francisco to Denver extremely early on Wednesday morning (November 22), and much to my pleasant surprise, had no delays! We met up with Cindy (Scott’s brother’s mother-in-law) at the airport, and Eric and Dave picked the three of us up to head home.

The days that followed were full of lots of Rummikub, Bang, college football, and food! Lori and Dave hosted Thanksgiving at their house for a whopping 14 people—Scott + me, Lori + Dave, Kalley + Eric, Kalley’s mom Cindy, Cate + Justin, Erin + Cesar, Amy + Jim, and Scott’s BFF Jeff. (I’m exhausted just typing all that…I don’t know how Lori does it!)

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My favorite tree cutter!

On Black Friday, I got to participate in the 13-year-old Anderson tradition of going to a national forest to cut down a Christmas tree. Lori and Dave made a big pot of chili and bought permits for the whole group—there must have been 20 of us there to cut down trees and have lunch in Buffalo Creek! While I was hoping for some Colorado snowflakes this trip, it was actually in the 70s most of the time (warmer than San Francisco).

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Ready to cut down the Andersons’ tree! 11/24/17

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We didn’t stay this bundled up for long.

We did a little shopping on Saturday and I got to eat Chick-fil-A for the first time in 6 months. (I was more than a little bit excited.) We ate at an awesome restaurant on Saturday night called Hop Alley. It was so neat to have Scott’s whole family (and everyone’s partners) around the table. And Kalley’s mom joining us was a great addition—she is hilarious and a true extrovert after my own heart!

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The whole crew around the table at Hop Alley! 11/25/17

All in all, I feel so lucky to have a better half whose family is fun, easygoing, and kind to each other. They’re a joy to be around and I can’t wait to ring in the new year in Denver. But before that, we’re joining my family in Florida for Christmas!

my favorite year to date

One year ago today, Scott asked me to make our relationship official. We had spent more than six months getting to know each other—slowly at first, through text messages and Snapchats. The casual conversations soon turned to sporadic phone calls, and those soon turned much more routine. Eventually, we were talking every day. We would FaceTime, text, talk on the phone…whatever we could make work with a two-hour time difference and 2,300 miles between us. When the time finally came that Scott visited me in Nashville, it felt like we’d known each other forever!

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Though I didn’t know it at the time, all of those months building a friendship (following a serendipitous weekend spent hanging out in SF when we first met on my vacation) were laying a foundation for a love that I’d come to give thanks for every day.

Scott encourages me to be vulnerable. I share my biggest insecurities, fears, hopes, and dreams with him, and he meets me with empathy and understanding.

Scott makes me more vibrant. I feel empowered to be my truest, most bubbly self in his company. He laughs at my jokes and makes me laugh even harder at his.

Scott makes the sun’s rays shine brighter. He lightens up my darkest days and makes my sunny days even sunnier. He reminds me to practice gratitude and never stop seeking out adventures.

Scott brings joy to my life. He is always willing to drive to that nearby town, kiss in that photo booth, or sing that karaoke song. I savor my weekends with him.

Scott makes me a better person—I want to love harder and give more generously. He continually serves me in a way I never imagined anyone would, and he inspires me to do the same.

The magic I’ve found in falling in love has made the last year the best one of my life.

I usually pride myself on being good with words, but when I try to convey to Scott just how meaningful he is to me and how much I love him, I always come up short. My words just don’t seem to carry the weight that my heart feels for this man. However, I’m hoping to spend a really long time trying to find the words that will do him justice.

My Scotty—happy anniversary. I love you past the moon!

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gator gals (plus a seminole) in napa

I had my first Napa experience this past weekend, and it did not disappoint! My friend Jordan (from UF) and her sister Riley came out for a visit. They were staying with our friend Christina, who lives in Berkeley (just across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco). Another Gator, Natalie, came up from San Jose, and we all spent a fabulous day in Napa!

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We started the day at Darioush, which was basically a Persian castle. We explored the grounds and the tasting room but sadly didn’t make the cut for a walk-in tasting. No problem—we went on our merry way to Silver Oak!

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Silver Oak only makes Cabernet Sauvignon, so our flight of three was a whole lot of that. But they were delicious, and we enjoyed strolling around the vineyard (as you can see above)!

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By this point, it was lunchtime and we were HUNGRY! We headed to V. Sattui for a picnic lunch and bottle of rosé. A note to those visiting Napa—V. Sattui (on a weekend day) is CROWDED. They have a marketplace where you can buy fresh cheese, bread, deli meat, etc. as well as their wines—but being inside that marketplace made me feel like a toddler in the middle of Magic Kingdom. In June. Separated from my mom.

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Once we got out of the market, we were able to take advantage of the huge V. Sattui property and find some benches and a table to feast on our purchases. The grounds were honestly so gorgeous—full of vine-clad walls, fountains, and rose bushes!

Once we were stuffed full of charcuterie, we headed to Napa Valley Olive Oil for a tasting. This place was unlike the rest of Napa in that it was small, cluttered, and not immaculately kept. There was none of the flashy marble and elaborate gardens from the surrounding wineries to be found. But I liked it because of this—we were treated like family and we loved this little hole in the wall!

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Our last stop was at the Grgich Hills Estate. I was too full of wine, cheese, and chocolate to continue, so just Christina and Jordan did one final tasting here while Riley, Natalie and I read all about the winery’s history and sat in the garden outside. (We were tired!) Turns out, Mike Grgich is the oldest winemaker in Napa, at age 94!

After Grgich Hills, it was time to head back to Berkeley. I had to catch BART back to San Francisco, so I could meet Scott and friends for a concert! (It was a really ambitious and long—but fun!—day.)

Now that I’ve been to both Sonoma and Napa, I have to say—I think I’m team Sonoma. I tasted great wines in both areas, and Sonoma’s price tags were a lot more 25-year-old friendly. They also had a slightly more approachable, laid-back spirit whereas Napa felt pretty high end. Don’t get me wrong, Napa is beautiful and I’ll be back, but I just felt slightly more at home in Sonoma!

summer of love

I’ve been in San Francisco for nearly three weeks already! I started my job as a Recruiting Coordinator for a tech company on June 26 and the first two weeks have gone great. I even added my Florida Gators to the company alma mater wall already!

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For this first month and a half, I’ve been subleasing right near Haight – Ashbury. It’s been a blast to live close to good restaurants, supermarkets, and parks.

But, I needed to find something more long-term, and I finalized an apartment this week! I’ll be moving in with two girls in the Outer Richmond, super close to the beach and Golden Gate Park. It’s going to be quite a hike downtown for my commute, but luckily I will be super close to public transportation (and being just 8 blocks from Scott’s house will be really nice and convenient).

Speaking of Scott, we have loved our newfound ability to spend time together (instead of just FaceTiming) and we have already done some super fun things.

We’ve visited restaurants like Sakesan, Brenda’s, Barrel Head, and Sunset Reservoir. I also had the best cinnamon toast of my life at Trouble Coffee Company, an amazing milkshake at Calibur, and insanely delicious pastries at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.

A couple weekends ago, we went up to Sebastopol (in Sonoma County) with two of our friends, Eric and Kasey. They’re wine club members at Moondance Cellars and we had a great time visiting the winery with them. It was a gorgeous property and they even had horses!

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For the 4th of July, we drove down to Capitola (a cute little beach town in the Santa Cruz area). We left gray and dreary San Francisco only to arrive to gray and dreary Capitola—bummer! But luckily an hour or so later (after some shopping and walking around town), it was in the 70’s and brilliant sunshine. It was so hot, in fact, that I had to go buy a tank top because my light sweater was no longer comfortable!

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Capitola was super cute and family friendly. It reminded me a lot of the beaches along 30A back home. Scott and I will definitely be visiting this spot again in the future!

Looking forward, we’re visiting a restaurant this weekend (State Bird Provisions) that we’ve been wanting to try for a long time. We’re visiting Scott’s family in Denver the first week of August (and we’re seeing The Head and the Heart at Red Rocks). We also hope to venture north to a swimming hole, and go see Wonder Woman. (We saw The Big Sick last weekend and loved it!)

All in all I am loving San Francisco so far. I am still getting used to the weather and public transportation, but aside from that—California is being good to me!

i left my heart in san francisco

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The cat’s out of the bag—I’m moving to San Francisco in just a few weeks! Considering the fact that I visited the Golden State 7 times in the last 18 months, it’s probably no surprise that I’m making the leap.

There are so many exciting things about this move.

  1. It’s San Francisco.
  2. I’ll finally get to live in the same place as Scott.
  3. I’ll get to start a new job with new challenges and coworkers and projects.
  4. I’ll get to explore a part of the country I didn’t get to in my first 25 years living in the South.
  5. I’m going to get really, really good at dressing in layers.
  6. I’m going to eat so much good Chinese food. (And all kinds of food.)
  7. I’m fulfilling my goal for my 20s of living in different kinds of places and experiencing adventure!

I’ll be totally honest and say that there are a few scary parts about this move, too.

  1. I’m leaving behind a lot of wonderful friends and coworkers in Nashville.
  2. I’m moving ~2,500 miles from my family.
  3. I don’t have a job lined up yet, and it’s scary to leave behind a job without having a new one secured.
  4. The cost of living in San Francisco is high. You don’t have to tell me this—I’m aware!

Ultimately, I’m just so pumped to start this new chapter. Scott and I have been doing the long distance thing for about a year now, and while I love FaceTiming him at the end of each day, I’d much rather see his face in person! While eating Chinese food, wearing layers, and living in San Francisco.

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PS – I’m applying and interviewing for jobs now—if you work at a great company with an SF location, please give me a shout! Also, if you ever find yourself in the Bay area, you now have one more friend to call.

sights and scenes from the big apple

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This past weekend, I took a little gals’ trip to NYC. My friend Katherine (who lives in Chicago) and I stayed with our friend Molly down in the FiDi—right near Wall Street. We were just a couple blocks from the seaport, and I really enjoyed walking down and eating a croissant or bagel while looking out on the East River in the mornings.

unnamed (1)I landed super late on Friday night. On Saturday, we went to brunch at Dos Caminos before hitting up the Warby Barker event at 121 Greene Street. A little bar hopping later, we went home for pizza before heading out to watch the Oregon / UNC basketball game that night!

The next day, Sunday, we went for bagels and ate them down on the waterfront before heading to Times Square to see Puffs, an off-Broadway Harry Potter themed comedy. It was hilarious and I wished Scott had been there because he would have adored it.

That night, Molly and I walked to Tribeca to care for a couple precious pups. The apartment where Molly’s friend lived was amazing and had the best view of NYC (see photo at the top of this post).

On Monday, I had a day to myself. I had breakfast on the water, then went to see the 9/11 memorial, Oculus transportation hub and new One World tower. I walked to Soho from there and had lunch with my friend Keely from WP NYC!

My feet were getting quite tired (16 miles in 3 days will do that to you), so I headed back down to the FiDi for a pedicure and rest before I met up with my college friends Mark, Mara, and Kristin for dinner and drinks at Industry Kitchen. It was SO good to see them—the last time I saw them was a year ago and Mark and Mara’s wedding! I’ll be seeing Mark and Mara this summer when they road trip through California, and I’m super pumped about that.

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I woke up bright and early to go to the airport yesterday. A couple hours later, I landed back in Nashville and came straight to the office. All in all, it was great to spend some time in NYC! I don’t know when I’ll be back (I’ve got trips planned to San Francisco, San Diego and Denver over the next few months), but I was glad to get to be there this weekend!

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moss beach + santa cruz

Earlier this month, I visited Scott in San Francisco for a whirlwind long weekend trip. We spent time with friends (but mostly each other), hung out in Golden Gate park, and we took a super fun day trip, which I’m highlighting here!

We woke up early Saturday morning and went to Devil’s Teeth Baking Company for breakfast. The biscuits were insanely good, as was the cheese danish we split. (I may have eaten 70 percent of it, shh…) From there, we got on the road.

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Scott and I at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach, CA.

We drove down to Moss Beach, reaching Fitzgerald Marine Reserve right around low tide—perfect timing to check out the tidepools. We saw harbor seals just offshore, and in the tidepools we saw sea anemones, hermit crabs, etc.

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Tidepools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.

The forest on the hill behind the beach (shown in the top photo above) was equally as beautiful as the tidepools themselves. While much of the shoreline was closed off because it’s birthing season for the harbor seals, we really enjoyed the view from the top. (As you can see from the photos, it was quite chilly on this morning on Moss Beach!)

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Bundled up on Moss Beach! Look closely and you can see the harbor seals behind us.

From Moss Beach, we drove south on Highway 1 (my favorite) to Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is half hippie beach town, half college town. Scott has been a few times before and we had a great time poking around downtown in the shops, and then out at the amusement park on the beach.

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View from the top of the ferris wheel in Santa Cruz.

We shared a margarita before walking over to the boardwalk where we rode the ferris wheel, swings, and failed miserably at a milk bottle carnival game. I failed much more miserably than Scott, to be fair. Finally, we bowled a game (for our March date—blog post coming soon with more info on this) and shocked ourselves and each other with how good we were!

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On top of the world in Santa Cruz!

It was getting late—around 6 pm, and we needed to head back to San Francisco to go to a friend’s birthday party that night. So I convinced my man to get his best gal a coke and ice cream sundae from McDonald’s (#blessed) before we hit the road back north. Overall it was such a fun day, and we plan on having many more day trips like this to come!

a look back on 2016

As I read Facebook statuses and Instagram posts, I see tons of content talking about what a miserable year 2016 was. In politics, celebrity deaths, police brutality, global acts of terrorism, and Florida Gator football, I can agree – it was a rough year. But personally, I had one of the most wonderful years of my life. And the best part? It was completely unexpected.

I started off 2016 with a few goals, which I shared here. With the exception of writing a book (still working on that), I think I did a great job with seeing my goals through – particularly the travel, snail mail, and podcasts.

So, where did the year wind up? I’ll list some highlights:

  • February: I met (in February, in San Francisco) my wonderful boyfriend, Scott. As a matter of fact, I am in a terminal in St. Louis now writing this post, as I travel to visit him for New Year’s Eve! Our meeting was unlikely (he’s a Colorado guy living in California, I’m a Florida girl living in Tennessee) but I am so completely grateful that it happened.

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  • March & April: I visited New York City and Orlando to celebrate the bachelorette party and wedding for one of my dear friends, Mara! It was such an honor to be her bridesmaid, and it was such a joyous couple of months celebrating she and Mark.

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  • May & June: I took a couple of fantastic girls’ trips! My BFF of almost 20 years, Taylor, and I went to Savannah and Tybee Island, GA for a Cinco de Mayo getaway. In June, I rented the Bachelor mansion (pretty much) in Ft. Lauderdale with all my best Nashville gal pals. We had such a good time!

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  • September & October: Scott and I had some great visits! First he came to me in September, and I showed him the best of Music City. Then I went out to San Francisco in October, where he outdid me and took me on a getaway to Big Sur (one of my ultimate dream travel destinations)!

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  • November & December: Lots of family time toward the end of the year! I got to go to Atlanta for Thanksgiving, and Pensacola for Christmas. I also turned 25, which felt like an exciting milestone!

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I ended the year, as I mentioned, by heading back to California! I can’t think of any place I’d rather start my 2017 than with my boyfriend in the Bay Area. I’m so excited to see what lies ahead for 2017 – I kind of can’t believe it’s already here!