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!

what in the world have i been doing?

Whoa, where did the last many, many months go?  What have I been doing?  How has my blog gone so utterly untouched?

Here’s a little glimpse at what I’ve been up to, in no particular order:

  • Watching Hallmark Christmas movies since November 1
  • Starting and re-starting the fifth Harry Potter book for four months and counting
  • Walking the aisles of Target and buying things I don’t need
  • Looking at pictures of dogs, kids, and dogs with kids on Instagram
  • Reading travel blogs and planning dream trips to places like Iceland and Amsterdam
  • Talking to my (super, absurdly) long-distance boyfriend into the wee hours of the night
  • Getting addicted to Westworld, live texting each episode and exchanging theories with said boyfriend
  • Seeing how long I can go without doing laundry until I run out of undies
  • Watching old (and current) episodes of Survivor and wishing I was a contestant
  • Thinking about chopping my hair off (but not actually chopping my hair off)
  • Listening to Christmas music and anxiously awaiting the month of December
  • Drinking Diet Coke

So there you have it—it’s a thrilling life I lead.  I’m going to try to get back into the groove of blogging in the coming weeks, but alas, my late-night phone calls, Survivor marathons and trips to Target may continue to take precedence.  (I’m just being honest.)

giving rides to strangers

I was sitting at my computer, thinking about a few different blog posts I could write, when I saw this post just sitting in my drafts…a couple of years old, but MAN how did I ever not share this?  So here we are.  I wrote this post back in December 2014, and I’m sharing it now.

Before I go into this story, let me begin with a preface: I am alive and well!

I woke up on Saturday morning at 5:30 am to drive to Macon, GA to pick up my car from the Honda dealership where it was being repaired.  This ordeal is a story in itself, and one that I won’t go into in this post.  I spent four hours driving to Macon only to swap cars and turn around to head back to Gainesville.

When I pulled off the highway into Gainesville after eight hours of solo driving, I decided to stop at the mall and get a pedicure.

Flash forward to an hour later.  My toes were polished, my heels were soft and I was relaxing as I sat under the lamp letting them dry, when a woman came and sat next to me.  My best visual for her is Cynthia Rose from Pitch Perfect (but about 10 years older).

So this woman starts making small talk with me, and eventually asks what part of town I live in.  She seems friendly enough, so I tell her that I live near the UF campus.  After I tell her, she asks, “Can I hitch with you?”

It took me about 45 seconds of dumbfounded silence to realize that she was asking me for a ride.

She went on to explain that it had taken her three hours to get to the mall by bus and that she just really wanted to get home.  Weary, I explained that I had to stop somewhere else before I headed home.  “That doesn’t matter,” she said.  “It’ll still be faster than by bus!  I can’t even hardly find my way out of this mall!”

So reluctantly, in an effort to do a good deed (and an inability to say no when she put me on the spot), I said yes, that I’d give her a ride.

We leave the nail salon, and are walking to my car, when she began shouting at a mall cop.  “Look at you, you little peanut head!  I see you!”  I picked up my pace; she followed suit.  “Do you know him?”  I ask nervously with a giggle.  “No, but did you see his little head in that helmet?!” she exclaimed.  Oh man.  Ohhhhh man.

We get to my car, and I put the windows down.  At this point, I’m just thinking, “Crap. I hope this woman doesn’t rob me.  Or hustle me.”  So I figure that if I have my windows down, I can at least get some attention should she try anything.

So I begin the drive to her home, and as we drive she tells me of her jilted ex-lover who’s been texting and calling a lot.  “He needs to step off or else,” she said.  I giggle nervously (a theme for this entire saga).  “I got a new girlfriend, and she’s real jealous,” she tells me.  “She doesn’t like me talking to anybody else.”

My mind is swirling with scenarios of her new girlfriend and ex-lover both awaiting my arrival.  She continues telling stories as I drive aggressively and hastily, trying to make every possible light and get this good deed done as quickly as possible.  I would recount more of the stories, but I don’t actually remember them.  I think I blacked out in anxiety.  “This is our turn,” she tells me.  We were almost there.

About five minutes later, we pulled up to the house.  I keep my hand on the gearshift, ready to throw it in reverse as soon as she’s out of the car.  “THANK YOU LADY!” she shouts as she walks away from the car.  “YOU’RE WELCOME!” I shouted back, as I sped away and thanked God for sparing me from harm in that stupid decision I had just made.

did we just become best friends?

Last week, I tweeted at a friend, who was shocked that I had previously never made an Amazon purchase.  (I have no defense or explanation—I know it’s weird.)

I had bought a gift for someone on Amazon, and I tweeted:
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Amazon wasted no time in replying, and this is where things got good.  I responded to their Twitter olive branch with what else?  A Step Brothers gif.
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Now, I kind of expected Amazon to “like” my tweet and move on, but what ensued was far, far better.
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The Amazon customer service team matched not only my enthusiasm for the greatest film of our generation, but responded with incredible speed.  I had fallen in love with a company’s customer service Twitter account.
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“Surely they’ll stop responding soon,” I thought to myself.  “This is too good to be true.”  Testing them, I brought up one of the most iconic events known to man: the Catalina Wine Mixer.

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They spoke my language.  These were my people.  I didn’t know the end was near for this interaction, though.  I thought our friendship and tweets were unending.  I was wrong.  My last tweet went unanswered.  It was as follows.
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Ok, so perhaps I should have known that a tweet referencing “Boats ‘N Hoes” would go unanswered, but I figured, why not go out with a bang?

Moral of the story: Amazon’s customer service team is awesome, and I’m a really huge fan of Step Brothers.
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a year in nashville

IMG_2967I can’t believe that I’ve lived in Nashville for a year already!  Part of me feels like I moved here yesterday, and the other part of me can’t remember living anywhere else.  I thought it might be fun to recap some of my favorite things I have done in Music City in the last year!

At the top of my list, of course, is music.  The scene in Nashville has been one of the coolest things to get to be a part of, whether it was seeing intimate secret shows (like Noah Gundersen and Matthew Perryman Jones) or shows at the Ryman (like Of Monsters and Men, George Ezra and Ben Rector). I took in country shows (like Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line and Kenny Chesney) and Live on the Green shows (like Colony House, Cold War Kids, Elle King and Ben Folds).

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George Ezra played an amazing show at the Ryman back in October 2015.

There were tons more: The Shadowboxers at the Bluebird Cafe, Kaleo at Marathon Music Works, Ryan Bingham at Exit/In, Kodaline at 3rd and Lindsley…if I tried to name them all here, it would be absurd.  I’m not saying all of this to brag—after all, I paid good money for at least half of those shows!  But compared to Pensacola or Gainesville, FL…the number of artists whose tour schedules include my home base is off the charts, and for that, I’m thankful.

Another one of my favorite things about Nashville has been the proximity to other cities!  I’ve loved being able to drive to Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, and of course Florida.  Travel is one of my favorite things on the planet, so the opportunity to explore nearby cities has been a great one.  (I am shocked to report that I think my favorite nearby city is Cincinnati!  I never imagined myself liking that place, but it was top-notch.)

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A big group of friends went to Fall Creek Falls for Memorial Day this year.

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I shot some hoops inside the world’s largest abandoned treehouse earlier this year.

Getting to explore the areas immediately in and around Nashville has been incredible, too.  I’ve trespassed and explored the world’s biggest abandoned treehouse, hiked to numerous waterfalls like Rock Island, Burgess Falls, Cummins Falls and Fall Creek Falls, gotten in touch with nature at Lake Radnor and Narrows of the Harpeth, and more.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m an adventure lover so I’m excited to keep finding new, beautiful places in my city.

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My lovely coworker from NYC, Molly, was my most recent visitor—earlier this month!

Another one of the best parts about living in Nashville has been the number of friends who have come to visit!  I pride myself on being an excellent tour guide—on finding the perfect blend between outdoor adventures, classic Nashville must do’s, shopping, amazing food and of course, going out.  It’s always a blast to have an excuse to hit up the honky tonks or eat a few scoops of Jeni’s ice cream!

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January 2016—the magical snowstorm!

I can’t write about my year in Nashville and not include a note about the snow, because it was one of my very favorite things!  Growing up in Florida, I never got the chance to wake up, look outside, and see a winter wonderland.  I’d seen snow a couple times through the years on vacations, but I was beyond thrilled to finally get to live in a place where it snows!  The best part is that it’s just a few times a year, so it’s super manageable, but I still get all the wintery fun.  I am ready for more snow this winter!

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We went to Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn and Florida…but Nashville brought us all together!

Last but most certainly not least, I’ve been so thankful to make such a quality group of girlfriends here in Nashville.  I could count on one hand the number of acquaintances I knew in this city when I moved here, and it has been fantastic to be able to find such quality, beautiful, hilarious friends to call mine!  We recently got back from a beach trip down to Ft. Lauderdale (in fact, we left for that trip on my one-year job anniversary) and it really blew my mind to think that I didn’t even know any of these people a year ago!

That sentiment reminds me of a quote that has always encouraged me: “It is astonishing how short a time it can take for very wonderful things to happen.”  I have this on my desk at work, and hold it super close to my heart.  Although the last year has had definite highs and lows, I look back on it as a whole fondly and with so much gratitude.

I have no idea how long I’ll live in Nashville, or where I’ll go next, but I know one thing for sure: I love Music City!