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Journal

Travel | Portland, Maine

Travel | Portland, Maine

Two years ago around this time, I was in Portland, Maine having the time of my life, enjoying the sea air and consuming more than my generally allotted three meals a day. As glutinous as it may sound, I longed to be hungry and thirsty again so I could continue to eat and drink my way through this charming town…it was pre-season, so the crowds weren’t an obstacle and it was a year before Bon Appétit would name it Restaurant City of the Year, so scoring reservations was easy. We wandered the streets like a local and definitely considered moving there for a few blissful moments, before we realized we could never handle the winters. We missed a few gems, such as Rose Foods, Tandem Coffee and Drifters Wife, which will certainly be on next time’s hit list. As you all think of summer and autumn vacation plans, consider this vibrant town with its outstanding food and beverage offerings on the waterfront. Here are all my faves, tried and tested by me, asterisks mean you should not pass it up. If I missed any of your must-dos/should eat, please leave a message in the comments...

Stay
The Press Hotel

Dine / Imbibe
The Portland Hunt & Alpine Club 
Lolita Vinoteca + Asador 
Eventide Oyster Co.*  
Bard Coffee
Speckled Ax 
The Holy Donut
Duckfat

Activities
Portland Museum of Art 
Allagash Brewing Company - free tour and beer* 
Portland Head Light + free museum 

Shop
Portland Food Co-op
Portland Flea for All
Judith 
Material Objects 
More & Co. (since moved to Yarmouth 20 min. away)

Extras
Obviously, eat all the lobster!
State of Maine Cheese Co. near Rockland* 
Long Grain in Camden* 

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21 Days Away

21 Days Away

A few years ago my hubs and I schemed, planned ahead, sold stuff (thanks Konmari) and rigorously saved, then took three weeks off to roam the South of France, Rome, Barcelona, Malta, the Amalfi Coast and a bit of Sicily. As things have changed with my Loyale responsibilities and his work schedule, trying to find a way to accomplish this again is tricky.

So in 2019 we’re thinking ahead and examining where we can find pockets of time...it appears late December to mid-January might be our one chance. I actually believe this a reality for a lot of people; Christmas and New Year’s holidays are generally guaranteed time off that we can all count on. So we’re grappling with the idea of breaking traditions and disappointing family, so we can see more of the world and have an adventure. Life is short; we like working and traveling, thus we don’t have a ton of options, but there’s some concern we’ll face a stigma, that perhaps our desires will be viewed as selfish...hard to say! So we’re going to examine it more into the new year and see how we feel...

I’ll have more to say about this topic as time goes by, but if you have any advice or feedback for me, I’d love to hear from you via DM on Instagram or comments below.

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Travel | Yosemite

Travel | Yosemite

“No temple made with human hands can compete with Yosemite,” John Muir once wrote. And I have to agree. I lived in California until I was 21 and have no idea how I managed to miss out on this heaven on earth National Park in my youth. I can’t emphasis how incredible and beautiful it is, most of the time I felt a rush of awe to my core as if my soul was being wiped clean. I know this sounds outrageous, it just really had an effect on me that I’ve never experienced. I climbed to the top of Vernal Falls, took in the scenic reservoir scapes of Hetch Hetchy and hiked Four Mile Trail admiring the fall palette of cinnamon, rust, citron and lime; there were fire scars, but it didn’t diminish the epic beauty of the place. Going in the off season gave the park an aura of peace that added to my wonder…Here are my thoughts, if you’re looking to plan a trip!

Stay

We stayed at the Evergreen Lodge, a delightful rustic-chic property that offers cabins of all sizes, plus a lovely heated pool and hot tub area with views. We adored this place, though it's about a 70 minute drive from key attractions and hikes. One day, we’ll consider staying at the posh Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly called Ahwahnee) or the more low key, Yosemite Valley Lodge because they’re near so much and that will save us hours of driving so we can focus on hiking. Honestly, the driving wasn’t bad, as the vistas were pretty, but in peak season, I can’t imagine what the traffic is like.

Dining

Restaurants in and outside the park are limited, but one bonus, most of the places have vegan and other very healthy offerings, which was a great surprise. We had a nice lunch at the Priest Station Cafe on the outskirts, before we made our way to Hetch Hetchy. After a 7 mile hike, we had a leisurely lunch at the Majestic Yosemite Dining Room; this turned out to be one of our favorite experiences. We were amazed by the intact vintage lodge interior, were seated in the sunny alcove with huge windows and they had a pretty impressive wine list. Also, for film trivia buffs, interiors of this hotel were adapted for The Shining; the designers incorporated the lobby, elevators and Great Lounge into sets for the Overlook Hotel. Finally, another reason we enjoyed staying at the Evergreen Lodge is because they have a tavern, restaurant and general store, all of which had pleasing options. After long days of driving and hiking, having a hearty, delicious meal before catching some z’s was essential.

Activities

  • Glacier Point and Four Mile Trail - it’s a long drive and there are major fire scars, but the summit is out of this world and the hike highlighted some of the park’s most gorgeous attractions.
  • Vernal and Nevada Falls hike - this was a rigorous, but wildly rewarding hike with beauty all around.
  • Tunnel View at sunset - it’s a very worthwhile stop. I learned that late afternoon is better for photo opps; it was true and I was happy we heeded this advice, as we got great pics.
  • Hetch Hetchy, the dam and hike to the Wapama Falls - a less popular stop, but not lacking in jaw dropping sights. It’s free to get in and way less crowded than more famous park attractions.
  • Teyana Lake and Tuolumne Meadows - stunning wide open spaces that take your breath away.
  • Mariposa Grove - bummed we missed this stop, we're planning on going next summer.

Tips

  • Visiting the area in the off season has a lot of benefits. First off, booking a room at an affordable rate is easy and great for budgets. Second, the fall colors are spectacular. Thirdly, there is no road traffic and the trails are relatively quiet.
  • My favorite resource for researching our trip was Earth Trekkers, this amazing family puts a ton of time into describing how to have the best Yosemite experience, loved it!
  • Bring snack bars for the hikes, we enjoyed munching on Epic and RX bars.
  • Wear real hiking shoes not just sneakers, it made the trekking so much more safe and comfortable.

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The World Around Us

The World Around Us

Getting away from it all and feeling microscopic helps put things in perspective, a reset some like to say. Yosemite is a good place for this. I’ll have more thoughts on this soon, but with a small beacon of hope on the horizon after the Election, this picture says a lot about appreciating the world around us - a new day, shimmering light, fresh air and above all, hope and wonder. Thank you to those that voted, no matter how small we feel, it's important to make our voices heard!

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All About Lisbon

All About Lisbon

Seven cinematic hillsides overlooking the Rio Tejo cradle Lisbon's postcard-perfect panorama of cobbled alleyways, ancient ruins and white-domed cathedrals – a captivating scene crafted over centuries with a killer culinary scene - sign me up!

I love doing preliminary research for a trip about a year in advance, so it gives me plenty of time to look into rentals, experiences and restaurants, then book well in advance...These are the guides I’m scoping out right now:

The Best Airbnbs in Lisbon - Time Out 

How Portugal Became the Greatest Place to Eat Right Now - Bon Appétit 

Where to Eat in Lisbon - This Way by Julie Pallesen 

A Local’s Guide to Lisbon: 10 Top Tips - The Guardian 

Six of the Best Lisbon Apartments to Rent - The Spaces

If you have any other must-do recos or general advice, I’d be thrilled if you’d leave a comment here...

Photo credits: Bon Appétit, Getty Images + Baixa House

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Travel | Sonoma + Glen Ellen

Travel | Sonoma + Glen Ellen

It was my first long weekend in Sonoma and I was thoroughly charmed...if you're looking for lovely weather, beautiful vistas, historic sites, fantastic food and quality wines, I highly recommend paying a visit to this part of the Northern California wine country.

Stay
El Pueblo Inn 
Gaige House 
The Jack London Lodge 

Dining
Glen Ellen Star 
Tortilleria Jalisco 
the girl & the fig 
El Molino Central 

Activities
Jack London Park 
Figone’s Olive Oil 
Sonoma Plaza 

Wine Tastings
Kivelstadt Cellars 
Gundlach Bundschu Winery 
Bedrock Wine Co. 
Scribe Winery 

Photo credit: Alanna Hale for Scribe Winery

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Travel | Uzès

Travel | Uzès

Dreaming of Provence...and let’s face it, some chilled rosé to take the edge of this week.

Check out CN Traveler's guide to this charming city as a starting point, if you're thinking of making your way to France anytime soon...it's a little dated, but we find that Provence doesn't change and have turnover as quickly as say SF or NYC.

Photo credit: CN Traveler

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Vacay Moments in Daily Life

Vacay Moments in Daily Life

Shoot you guys, I love vacation. I know that this is stating the obvious, it’s just I’ve been ridiculously lucky to have a lot of extra special downtime this summer and now I don’t feel like working as much. I can’t deny, it’s an uphill battle.

I’m all for the expression, ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,’ but let’s get real, doing what I love means I’m pretty much working ALL the time.

Unplugging and getting away from the everyday grind has been eye opening because I’ve realized I’m taking life too seriously. I need to incorporate little vacay moments on a weekly basis to mix things up.

I think for me this means doing things like going to a tiki bar, sitting at a sidewalk cafe, trying to make poke at home and kayaking in the Bay. Any suggestions? What does a vacation moment mid-week or month look like for you?

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Still Gone

Still Gone

Hi friends, the vacay mode got real...Hawaii was a dream, and now I'm finding my footing again in SF! Pat Conroy said, "Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey." I couldn't agree more - however the team and I will be back in turbo mode before you know it, stay tuned! xo

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