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I had one of those *pinch me, is this really my life?* moments this weekend while being treated to a luxurious getaway by Lark Hotels at their newest property in Newport, RI. I was so lucky to be invited with a group of awesome bloggers and creatives to stay in the newly opened Gilded Hotel, participate in some fun activities, and cruise around the historic ocean town to learn a bit more about the area.
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The hotel was an absolute feast of eye candy, designed by  Rachel Reider. The tagline of the hotel is ‘A Clever Twist on a Golden Age’ and the decor certainly lived up to the moniker. Jewel tone paint colors, ornate mirrors, lacquered surfaces, and gold accents gave the whole space the vibe of a funky, modern-day Great Gatsby party. A few of my favorite details — the graphic pink wallpaper in the hotel’s lounge, the whimsical garden courtyard, and the over-the-top design of the front desk and breakfast area.

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When we weren’t ogling over the crazy gorgeous decor of the space, the Lark Hotels team had us busy with tons of fun activities. We toured some of the Newport Mansions, and got to see some of the historic opulence of the Newport area that inspired the hotel’s design. We had manicures on the hotel veranda, private croquet lessons in the courtyard, and took an afternoon sail boat ride around the harbor to tour the local area. And after dinner both nights, we ended the evening in the hotel’s pool room which had a moody library vibe for champagne, cookies, and some games.

Gilded Hotel Newport 3It was a hard adjustment to come back to real-life on Monday after such a luxurious weekend (I am still dreaming of the tapas-style breakfasts served at the hotel!). I’m so happy I got to spend the time with such an amazing group of fun, inspiring women, and grateful to Lark Hotels for truly treating us like we lived in the Gilded age. If you’re looking for a fun spot to stay in Newport, or want to getaway with some girlfriends for a relaxing weekend, I can’t recommend the space enough. Now, we are we going to travel next to and do this again?!rarebrick_20150501_9258For more pictures of the weekend and the hotel, be sure to check out the hashtag #GildedGetaway on Instagram.

Please note: Lark Hotels hosted us for the weekend and gave us complimentary stays at their property. All opinions are my own. 

 

 

It was a pretty glorious long weekend, we packed our bags and headed south to Nashville with two of our friends for some fun. We stayed the Union Station Hotel (it’s an old train station!) and spent the long weekend exploring (aka eating our way through) the city. Researching our trip and sharing a guide to the interesting spots we find in a new city are almost as much fun for me as the actual vacation — so prepare for a very comprehensive recap below!

The very first thing in our to-do-list when we landed was to get some classic Southern food, and several folks had recommended Hattie B’s hot chicken (and the potato salad and pimento mac and cheese also came with praises!). I was actually in pain when we left — not because I felt sick from the food, but because I could-not-stop-eating it was so good. The mac and cheese a bit too saucy for me, but the chicken was awesome — I got the mild because I’m scaredy-cat, Mike got the hot and loved it. Another classic Southern recommendation was the famous Loveless Cafe. If you visit Nashville and aren’t from the area, know that it’s about a 25 minute cab ride outside the city, but SO worth it. I always get nervous that places like this are going to be overhyped but it wasn’t at all, it exceeded my expectations. They are famous for their biscuits and I thought they were delicious, but the star of the meal was the cheesy hash brown casserole. I’m delighted to let you know that my friend Colleen we were traveling with actually ordered the cookbook as we were eating brunch just so we could see the recipe, so they’ll definitely be recreated in the future. Nashville Trip Food We saved our more refined meal choices for dinner, including a stop at Husk Nashville. I had been to the Charleston location before, and loved that the design of the Nashville outpost was similarly in a retro-fitted antique home that was a nod to the city’s heritage. I ordered a roast chicken and it was delicious; the highlight was snagging a bit of my husband’s dessert — a rhubarb tart. We stumbled upon another great restaurant in Germantown per the recommendation of an awesome bartender (more on that later) called Butchertown Hall — it was a fun little surprise that we stumbled upon it and it ended up being so amazingly tasty — we shared carefully crafted cocktails and family-style feast of brisket and homemade sausages. The absolute highlight of the trip was eating at Rolf and Daughters though; I think the four of us said “oh my god” no fewer than 100 times in between bites at this spot. Every dish was phenomenal, the service was impeccable, and we had such a fun time in the lively space (which can sometimes be lacking in nicer-restaurants!). If you ever find yourself in Nashville, please eat here.Nashville Trip Food  2 We did supplement all of this massive meals with a few more casual spots, mostly just to give ourselves a break and digest. We spent one morning in East Nashville and had breakfast and cold brew coffee at Barista Parlor — this place was like a giant hipster playground and I loved it. They had breakfast sandwiches on biscuits and homemade pop tarts! Remember how I said this was one of our smaller meals? We also checked out The Pharmacy in the same neighborhood and enjoyed some burgers and drinks in their backyard beer garden. Nashville Trip Food  3_edited-1 What did you do besides eating you ask? We did visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, and saw Hatch Show Print – the famous music-poster print shop connected to the museum. We also wandered up and down Broadway and checked out some of the famous Honkey-Tonk music spots. There was some shopping too! Whites Mercantile was probably my favorite shop we visited, and I found some fun things in vintage shops. A few other stores I thought were gorgeous — Imogen and Willie and Fuselage. Oh and we stopped into lots of fun bars for cocktails too. Remember that bartender I mentioned earlier? There was a laid-back spot called 12 South Taproom in the eponymous neighborhood where we met the worlds most helpful bartender named Patrick who gave us great local tips, kept our beers full, and talked with us for the better part of an afternoon. Another great spot that I wish we had been able to spend more time at, but was closing early for a private event, was Pinewood Social. I’d seen tons of write-ups about this multi-functional space that’s part coffee shop, part bowing alley, bar, restaurant, and outdoor lounge and was excited to see it in person. The drinks and the decor were almost too much for this instagram-obsessed gal to handle. And then our favorite late night spot that we went to not once, but twice, was called Losers (next to a bar names Winners, can’t make this stuff up) — this dive bar had the coverband of all coverbands playing and we drank and danced until the wee hours of the morning. And with that, we headed back on a plane to Boston and I’m a dire need of a detox and diet, but it was so worth it and so much fun! Nashville Trip  3_edited-1

I have been a pretty bad blogger later and am quite behind on sharing projects, photos, and life updates! So I’m back in the game this week and catching up — and I’m so happy to finally be able to post some of the picture from our trip to Marfa, the last leg of our West Texas Adventure after a few days in Austin and a stay in Big Bend National Park. This was by far my favorite part of the trip, partly because there was so much anticipation in planning it. For those of you that haven’t heard about Marfa, let me explain a little bit about this  town: it’s a quirky little community in the middle of nowhere known for its  minimalist art, bohemian vibe, and eclectic food.

MARFAWhen we decided to add Marfa to our itinerary, I knew exactly where I wanted to stay: El Cosmico for some glamping! We stayed in a restored vintage lime green camper, complete with a cute little front porch, air conditioning (yay!) and amazing outdoor shower. The whole El Cosmico site is a feast for the eyes, I had so much fun taking pictures of all of the vintage trailers, teepees, and yurts that make up the complex. The communal spaces at the site were also a highlight, after the sun went down we joined other guests for cocktails in the hammock grove where a visiting band played live music under strung lights and the stars. I mean, does that sound magical or what?

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Another must-see that we tackled on our exploration of Marfa was checking out the art installation, Prada Marfa. Having admired Gray Malin’s photos of the site, I was so excited to see it in person — and it surpassed my expectations upon arriving.  I think one of the most interesting things about the site, is that it genuinely confuses people that don’t know the context and story of the installation. When we were standing across the highway from the store, a passerby in a pickup truck slowed down as he drove past it, and ended up turning around to get out of the car and take a look. He looked at my husband and I and said “well that’s something else, isn’t it?” — I think he was right, it really was something else!   MARFA 9MARFA 8

It turns out that we arrived in Marfa on a Tuesday, and most shops and restaurants close down mid-week as it’s a weekend-tourist destination. So while we didn’t get to hit up a few of the spots on my list (like Garza Marfa and Cast + Crew), we did enjoy a few of the local favorites. We stopped for lunch at Comida Futura (owned by the same folks that run Food Shark — made famous by Beyonce’s tumblr), and the food was amazing. I had the brisket plate with a baked bean and corn bread pudding and it was out of this world. For dinner we visited Jett’s Grill on the patio of the famous Hotel Paisano.
MARFA 10I kept saying as we left Marfa that it was such a magical place, I think I used the word magic approximately 8 times on the drive back to Austin — and frankly, the drive it self was also magical — we left super early in the morning and saw the sunrise over  West Texas as we drove out of town. The perfect end to a perfect trip!

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Part two of our West Texas adventure took us to Big Bend National Park. When planning this trip I took on most of the Austin leg, meticulously curating reservations at all of the must-visit restaurants. My husband on the other hand did the research for this part of our vacation — you know, things like ensuring we had the right supplies to survive in the desert. My contribution was rolling out of bed and into the car early one morning in Austin and waking up several hours later in the middle of nowhere — which was precisely our destination! Big Bend is one of the most remote National Parks — the nearest city (and city is a loose term) is 100 miles away. I was a little hesitant about this — I’m not much of an outdoorsy type — but I’m so glad we visited. The only way to describe the landscape is breathtaking, which sounds super cliché, but it really was just that. I was quite surprised by how different the terrain was as we moved through the park; parts looked like barren desert, other parts were rocky and mountainous, and we even moved through some swamp-like areas when we got close to the Rio Grande and Mexican border (at one point we could literally see just across the river into Mexico, which was pretty cool). We closed out our stay in Big Bend with a stop in Terlingua, a ghost town on the edge of the park, where we ate dinner at the Starlight Theater — an old-fashioned saloon! We put a little wild west in our West Texas adventure.

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I have been digging through the photos that I took on our West Texas vacation and can’t believe it’s been almost two weeks since we got back. Because I just can’t narrow it down, this recap is likely going to be a multi-part blog post — I need to share the detail of every.single.bite. I ate and lots of fun pictures too. First up: Austin! Austin, despite being about 100 degrees, was totally and completely awesome. We fell in love with the cute little house bars on Rainey Street, browsed through the vintage shops in the South Congress area, and tried many, many tacos to try and nail down a favorite (barbacoa tacos at Torchy’s were the winner!). A few more favorites from our Austin stay were…. IMG_3655.JPGElizabeth Street Cafe. When I was doing research for our trip, I happened upon Elizabeth Street Cafe through Mackenzie’s Austin recommendations and decided to check it out for ourselves! I love the super bright space with quirky little teapots and floral wallpaper, and the outside had a bright pink and turquoise paint scheme that was so cheery and cute. We had the pork belly buns and spicy pork meatball bahn mi — and I couldn’t pass up the macarons in the pastry case when we were leaving — they were delicious!DSC_0001IMG_3732.JPGDSC_0008 copy

Hillside Farmacy. I’d seen pictures of the Hillside Farmacy on Instagram and knew we had to go here. The striped awnings and bright green facade reminded me of our wedding color scheme, so I was sold even before we walked in. We ate here for brunch and I was prepared to go for eggs or pancakes, but then I saw a piping hot skillet of the mac and cheese walk by our table and I had to order some of my own. I am quite glad it did — it was super rich and delightfully tasty (and I washed it down with a wasabi bloody mary, yum!).

IMG_3695.JPGDSC_0016Barton Springs. This place was amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it! Given that the temperatures were creeping  up into the hundreds during out trip, a little respite from the heat was very welcome. It was part pool, part lake, one-hundred-percent refreshing once we jumped in.

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Josephine House. Our meal at Josephine House was phenomenal and the restaurant design was nothing but impeccable. We got there just as the light was fading and I didn’t get any pictures of the interior, but trust me when I say it was gorgeous — take a look at some of the gorgeous pictures on their website. The best part of the meal was dessert: a honey panna cotta with Texas figs and ginger-oat streusel — heavenly. It was just the treat we needed before heading off on the next leg of our trip! DSC_0021

 

A few weeks back  I was super lucky to be invited to a little ladies getaway adventure up in the Catskill Mountains, NY. The ever-talented Lauren of Lauren Wells Events schemed up the Creative Overnight as a way for a bunch of creative ladies — photographers, designers, writers, florists — to take a few days off and recharge over pool-time and cocktails and fun at the Graham and Co in Phoenicia (this hotel was to-die-for-cuteness). It was a total blast, we lounged by the pool (despite some grey weather!), made flower crowns at the direction of Krissy of Pollen Floral Design, and ended the night with several trips to the taco truck that visited our hotel along with a group viewing of a Wes Anderson movie. It was so nice to have the time to chat with lots of local creatives and meet a few new faces too — here’s hoping this becomes an annual event!

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I had a little weekend away visiting coastal Portsmouth, NH for bachelorette excursion to celebrate one of my best girlfriends. The weather was grey, but the rain held out for a boat cruise around the Portsmouth harbor. I packed a little boat-picnic with prosciutto-wrapped-melon, cheese and crackers, and some tasty grapes and marcona almonds (and of course we got some cocktails aboard!). The rest of the weekend was a success, we shopped around town and hit up the always adorable Gus & Ruby Letterpress, filled our bride-to-be up with margaritas and Mexican food, and then danced our toes off until the band packed it in for the night. It was a really fun weekend, and probably one of the nicest group of girls I’ve ever bachelorette’d with!  And now comes the hard part — recovering from the weekend! 20140804-200619-72379599.jpg20140804-200621-72381171.jpg20140804-200620-72380317.jpg20140804-200621-72381435.jpg

 

 

On Sunday I had an awesome opportunity to take over the Boston Harbor Cruises’ Instagram account as they sent me on a little adventure to Provincetown. We took the BHC Fast Ferry out of downtown Boston and spent the day in P-Town exploring. Most of our time was spent checking out the Commercial Street shopping area, ducking into cute nautical shops and restaurants. We had lobster rolls at The Canteen for lunch, drinks on the porch looking out over the water at The Red Inn, cocktails on the waterfront deck at Pepes, and enjoying a clambake at the Lobster Pot to end our night. All along the way I snapped pictures of the cute Cape Cod cottages and nautical details. Twelve hours of eating and drinking and instagramming is pretty much my ideal day — thanks to Boston Harbor Cruises for the awesome opportunity! 20140721-210959-76199845.jpg20140721-211002-76202831.jpg20140721-211001-76201372.jpg20140721-211000-76200616.jpg20140721-211002-76202100.jpg

 

 

 

 

This past weekend we headed out to Lake George for a wedding and decided to take the scenic route through Vermont on our way there. My husband recently sent me an article about the Vermont Cheese Trail, and since we were driving through part of the region on our trip we had to make a stop at one cheese maker that caught my eye — the Plymouth Cheese Company. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t the packaging and quaint location that made this one a high-priority visit. It was absolutely darling and the cheeses were majorly tasty.We devoured the Original Plymouth cheese this weekend with a cinnamon pear jam I got at the shop. You can even watch the cheese making process while you’re there — it’s one of the oldest artisan cheese makers in the country. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to pop in for a tasting and some treats for the road! 20140616-204007-74407858.jpg20140616-204008-74408801.jpg20140616-204010-74410376.jpg20140616-204009-74409616.jpg

 

I’m back with part II of our West Coast adventure. After we made our way through wine country, we took a drive down to Muir Woods National Park and hiked through the Redwoods (to be fair, it was more of a nature walk  — not a hike. There were grandmas whizzing by me in wheel chairs, but I like to pretend I was a tough outdoorsy chick who hiked!). It was a magical place; not only are you walking through these magnificent massive trees, but just a few minutes down the road is one of the most breathtaking beaches and coastal views I’ve ever seen.  Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSan Fran 5

After our ‘hike’ I earned a tasty dinner at Foreign Cinema — and swooned over the food and the restaurant interior. We spent our last day in the city exploring, including via boat where we circled around Alcatraz and underneath the Golden Gate bridge. Such a fun way to see the city! When our boat pulled back into the docks we saw a massive group of sea lions that just chill all day right at the edge of the pier —  I took about 400 pictures of them and was completely enamored — I mean, aren’t they the cutest? At the end of our trip we finished things off with a Giants game, because I like to finish all of my vacations with hot dogs and beers (and the lovely water views didn’t hurt!).

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