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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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!

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!

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!

i’ve got a crush

…and that crush is on the city of San Francisco.

I visited for about five days last week, and my goodness is that city my new favorite place!  I’d been once before, back in high school, but this trip was totally different.  Whereas previously my time had been spent taking in tourist attractions (you don’t have much say in itinerary when you’re on a high school church trip), this time was all about eating, drinking and wandering.  My kind of trip.

I arrived on Thursday morning, and immediately met my longtime friend Drew at Naked Lunch.  After a delicious lunch, he went back to work and I trekked to his place in the Marina.  (Here’s a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from his neighborhood…lovely!)

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I spent that afternoon doing a bit of work at his place, and exploring the area.  That night, we went out for dinner at a taqueria (giant burritos, goodness gracious) in the Mission and drinks at Magnolia in Dogpatch.  It was wonderful to meet lots of Drew’s friends, and this spot had great beer and atmosphere!

On Friday, while Drew worked from home in the morning, I went out shopping on Chestnut Street near his house.  I bought a few fabulous things, made a few friends around Drew’s neighborhood and even got a job offer to be a nanny!  That afternoon, we got in the car and drove to Mt. Tamalpais  to attempt to hike (emphasis on attempt).  It was too rainy and cold and windy and foggy…so we kept driving.  We had stopped off earlier at the Marin Headlands so I could see the view of the Golden Gate Bridge, which was beautiful.  We wound up heading to Muir Woods once the weather cleared, where we did a bit of walking and took in the beautiful redwoods.

That night, we went to a fun house party to celebrate Drew’s friend’s birthday.  While I was there, I found out that  the “Full House house” (aka one of the Painted Ladies) was just a few blocks away, so naturally I convinced someone to walk with me to check it out.  (Thanks, Scott!)

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The next day, Drew and I went to an event at Tank18 for wine and conversation with friends.  Conversation wound up being tough, as the venue was crazy loud, so Drew and I headed out.  We explored SoMa and eventually headed home to chill out and watch some Suits.  That night, Drew had longstanding plans for drinks, so I met up with one of his friends I’d met a couple nights earlier for a drink at La Urbana.  After that, we went with friends to dinner at Southpaw.

On Sunday, I woke up early and went to a solo breakfast at Home Plate in the Marina.  I wound up having to sit with another solo diner, named Thor…let me just tell you, he might have been the most shallow, insipid person I have ever met.  But the food was good!  I then walked down to the Philz Coffee truck on the water and enjoyed some quiet time looking at the boats.

That afternoon, Drew and I explored North Beach!  He showed me Coit Tower (awesome views of SF and crazy hills).  We then went over to Hayes Valley so I could check out the Warby Parker store.  We wound up spotting this awesome biergarten where we had a pint and pretzel, before hitting up Smitten for some ice cream.  Finally, we went to the Warby Parker store (just had to) before heading out.

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That night (my last night of the trip), Drew treated me to a meal at Trestle.  It was absolutely wonderful and a great way to end the trip before I flew out on Monday morning.

I wish I would’ve taken more photos while I was in the city, but I was caught up in enjoying every single moment.  Not a bad reason to miss out on photo ops!

All in all, I absolutely loved San Francisco.  I would move there tomorrow if I could, but alas, the cost of living is astronomical.  However, if anyone out there is reading this and thinking, “Man, I’d love to financially back a girl’s dream to live in the Bay Area for a while,” feel free to contact me!  😉

new year, same me

1935470_10154609999312715_9146527296301029446_nThis year, I have resolved to do more of what makes me happy.  I’m sharing my “resolutions” (though I hate calling them that because of the connotation so let’s just call them goals) here for accountability to myself, and in the hopes of perhaps inspiring you to set a few goals for yourself this calendar year.  It’s never too late to start doing more of what you love!

  1. Prioritize travel.
    • Travel has been a huge priority to me in the past, and I’m off to a good start with it for this year, too.  I’m headed to San Francisco next month and New York City in March!  I’ve also got a trip to Orlando on the agenda for a very special wedding I’m in during April.
  2. Spend more time outdoors.
    • I’m trying to be intentional about getting outdoors, and got off to a good start last week with a hike at Percy Priest Lake with Alli!  My (rough) goal is to seek out one outdoor activity a weekend, whether that be a long walk around my neighborhood, a hike or something more adventurous.
  3. Continue to send snail mail and be a good pen pal.
    • Mail brings me joy, period.  I love stamps and stationery and the post office and my mailman and everything about it.
  4. Read a lot of books.
  5. Listen to a lot of podcasts.
    • I adore podcasts!  I’ll be posting soon about some of my favorites.  They’re great for passing the time on a road trip and helping keep focused (I spent a lot of time in the car in 2015 so I can really vouch for this).
  6. Write a book.
    • I haven’t shared much about my desire to write a book here, but it’s on the 101 in 1001 list that I created about a year and a half ago.  I love to write and read, and this is the ultimate challenge for myself – to see if I can combine those passions into one creative project!

I have others goals, of course, that are practical and ongoing, like developing consistency in my exercise routine again, continuing to push toward long-term financial security, establishing clear career goals, etc.  However, the six goals above are the ones that bring me true joy and are for pleasure rather than practicality (like the goals I just mentioned).

What are your goals for this year?  I encourage you to write them down formally and share them with someone.  The act of doing so makes them real and is (in my opinion) the first step toward making them happen!

chasing waterfalls

IMG_2227One of my favorite things on a Sunday afternoon (or any afternoon, really) is to hit the road in search of adventure.  Specifically, since finding myself in Nashville, TN, I’ve been disobeying the words of TLC and chasing waterfalls.My roommate Alli isn’t the most outdoorsy girl, but I’m slowly changing that!  We went to Rock Island State Park a few weeks ago and it was a blast.  We hiked a few different trails, got caught in a storm (and, momentarily took shelter in a grotto before deciding to just go for it and stripping down to our bathing suits to play in the rain and river) and soaked in the beauty of Twin Falls.  Rock Island State Park is about an hour and forty-five minutes from Nashville, but the drive was a pleasant one through winding back roads and past simple country homes.

IMG_2354Two weekends ago, we ventured over to Burgess Falls (see picture above) near Cookeville, TN.  I was really excited about this one and met with disappointment when we arrived to learn that the path leading down to access the falls had been condemned just ten days earlier and deemed “unsafe” until renovated.  We were left taking in the view from a platform out away from the falls instead of down at their base, and I was pretty bummed out about it.  To make up for it, Alli and I decided to try nearby Cummins Falls.

IMG_2368I’d seen Cummins Falls on Instagram as a popular spot for swimming and heard warnings of how crowded it would be.  Man, were those warnings right!  While the hike itself was pleasant (through a river, it took me back to my days hiking the Narrows in Utah!), once we got to the awesome waterfalls, there were just people everywhere.

I’m not super big on crowds, especially when I’m doing outdoor activities like hiking and swimming.  Kind of hard to take in natural beauty when it’s covered up by pasty humans everywhere, haha.  However, Cummins Falls was still a good time – I swam all around (even up under the smaller falls) and jumped off the ledge.  I actually wished the ledge was higher!
IMG_2370All in all, there are still a ton of waterfalls I want to hike to around Tennessee, like Fall Creek Falls, Greeter Falls and O’zone Falls.  But these three were a great start, and a wonderful excuse to get out of the city and into the fresh air.  Of all three, Rock Island was definitely my favorite and the one I plan to take visitors to in the future!