october giveaway winner announced + the liebster award!

Hello, friends! I hope you all had wonderful weekends and that you’re now ready to hit the ground running with the start of another week. I’m not a big fan of Halloween myself (I know, I know — unpopular opinion), but I know this is a big, exciting time for a lot of you who love the holiday. I, personally, will be over here quietly snacking on a chocolate bar and kinda sorta waiting for the whole celebration to be over so we can start gearing up for Thanksgiving and all the fun in December. I am who I am!

It’s time to announce the winner of the October giveaway! Can I get a drumroll, please? ….

Congratulations, ANDREA EDMAN! You’re the winner of a $25 gift card to Baublebar. Andrea, I’ll reach out via email with your gift card. I can’t wait to see what you decide to buy : ) As always, thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway! I can’t wait to see you (and, hopefully, all your friends) back here next month for the November contest.

Last week, my writer and blogger friend Alex (of Authentically Alex) nominated me for the Liebster Award. Thanks so much, Alex! You’re such an awesome cheerleader for my work and it feels so great to get a little nod for this blog.

So, what is the Liebster Award?

Originating in Germany in 2011, the Liebster Award 2017 is an online award that is given to bloggers by other bloggers. Liebster translates to sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. The Liebster Award recognizes new and upcoming bloggers that have the potential to grow and become successful influencers within the blogosphere.

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All nominees are asked to share ten facts about themselves, as well as the answers to a few interview questions, so here we go!

10 Facts About Me

  1. I met one of my favorite Instagram dog celebrities in the Delta terminal at JFK earlier this year, and I was actually fangirling. I got to take a picture with her, too, and I look at that picture whenever I’m having a bad day.
  2. My first concert was Natalie Merchant with my mom and her best friend.
  3. I make my bed every single day. No matter what. Even if it doesn’t happen until 4 in the afternoon.
  4. I’m not afraid of heights, but I am terrified of ladders.
  5. I went to college about two blocks from the White House, and while being in D.C. for four years kind of turned me off of politics for a long time, I’ve become a total news junkie again.
  6. Cotton candy is my favorite ice cream flavor.
  7. I can touch my tongue to the tip of my nose. It’s genetic. Thanks, Dad!
  8. I hate orange juice, but I love mimosas. Explain that one.
  9. When I was in third grade I wrote a “novel” called Carrie’s Ride Home about a girl who teachers her blind little sister how to ride horses. It had chapters and everything!
  10. I used to get serious anxiety about talking on the phone. I’ve come a long way, but I still get really nervous every time I have to call a source for a phone interview.

Short Interview

1. What is one place you haven’t been that is on the top of your bucket list?

Thailand! My husband and I are hoping to plan a trip to southeast Asia in the next year or two.

2. What is the most daring experience you’ve ever had? (For example: sky diving)

Two summer ago, I went parasailing with my family at the beach. Logically, I know parasailing is pretty safe, but it felt pretty daring in the moment : )

3. What is your biggest accomplishment?

If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you can probably guess this one! I would call the last year of my life my biggest accomplishment. Leaving my traditional 9-to-5 job was a big deal for this rule follower, and I’m really proud of how far I’ve come in the thirteen months since.

4. What’s your biggest fear?

I’ve always been really scared of large birds (turkeys, ostrichs, emus — even chickens!), and when I have nightmares, they’re usually about being in freefall or being chased.

5. What’s a hidden talent you have?

I’m a crazy fast typer.

6. What’s an activity, craft, or sport that you want to learn how to do?

I would love to get better at hand lettering. I have pretty good handwriting, so I think that if I took the time to learn and practice, it could be a great creative outlet.

My nominees:

Meghan — Home Body Soul

Angela — Mrs. K Fit

Brittney — Brittney Lynn

Krista — FoodWaterShoes

Kristina — Simply Kristina

Task for nominees:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog in your post.
  • Upload the award to your blog. It can be done as a blog or on the sidebar.
  • Answer the questions above.
  • Nominate five blogs who you believe deserve to receive the award.
  • Notify the nominated bloggers so that they can accept the award.

 

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Getting the Most Out of Small-Space Workouts with Meghan Meredith

Today, I am SO excited to welcome my friend Meghan Meredith to the blog for a guest post. We’ve been cooking up this collaboration for a while, and it’s fun to finally share it with you!

Meghan and I went to high school together but never had a chance to meet, and we reconnected recently through some mutual friends and our common experiences working as creatives and solopreneurs (have I mentioned lately how much I love this social media and blogging community? because I do). Meghan is a personal trainer, health coach, and lover of all things dreamy and beautiful. I’m so impressed by Meghan’s commitment to helping women live fuller lives (you can read more about that over on her site, Home Body Soul), and just as impressed these past few weeks with the hard work she’s put into her latest project, Whole Body Fitness.

Yesterday, Meghan launched a Kickstarter campaign for this self-guided fitness planner, and I’m thrilled to be part of the launch team for the project. I’ve had a sneak peek of the finished product as Meghan’s copyeditor, and let me tell you, friends — it’s super cool. As a fitness lover myself, I’m genuinely excited to get my hands on a copy. It’s also really special to be able to support Meghan’s big dream, which has been such an investment in time and sweat equity for her. You go, girl! Meghan will share more about the planner in her post below, but trust me when I tell you that it’s awesome. We’d both love it if you could pop on over to Kickstarter and check out all the details (in particular, Meghan’s video, which features her cute dog Nusu in a starring role!).

In the meantime, Meghan’s here today with some thoughts on how to get the most out of your workouts when you (like me, and so many other people I know!) live in a small apartment or cozy little house. I can’t wait to implement some of these ideas in my own routine!

One last thing before I turn it over to Meghan — don’t forget to enter the October giveaway! This month, I’m giving away a $25 gift card to Baublebar. All you have to do to enter to win is comment on my last post! The winner will be announced here on the blog on Monday 10/30, so get those entries in ASAP : )


When my husband and I moved to Los Angeles is 2015, we were shocked at the housing/rental market in this part of the country. Not only would we be spending more than twice the amount we spent in Atlanta for an apartment, but we’d also be sacrificing more than double the square footage of our previous home. We had to downsize from a 1200-square foot place in Atlanta to a roughly 600-square foot place in Los Angeles. Talk about a small space! 

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Today, I am here to offer you some ways you can stay fit and exercise in your home, even if it’s a mere 600 square feet. Living in a small space doesn’t mean you have to compromise for small results in your fitness regimen.

You may be asking, “Do people work out at home, anyway?!” In fact, many do — myself included! While I have access to a gym, sometimes it’s nice to stay home and get in that 30 minutes without having to brave the Los Angeles traffic one more time. 

My Three Tips for Big Results in a Small Space

Tip 1: Bodyweight Exercises

Our own bodyweight is one of the best pieces of “equipment” for getting into shape — and it doesn’t take up any extra space in your home or apartment (huge perk when living in a small space!). Any time you are moving your own weight up and down and all around, you are burning mega-calories, toning, and strengthening your body! People often think they aren’t getting a good enough workout if they aren’t using gym equipment, but I am here to tell you that your body is one of the most forgotten, yet BEST pieces of equipment you have with you at all times to strengthen and tone your body.

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Tip 2: Your furniture can serve multiple purposes.

If I am doing an at-home workout, I will often use my coffee table to do tricep dips or even incline push-ups. You can also use a chair to do side leg lifts, squats, plie squats, Bulgarian split squat lunges, and tricep dips — to name a few!

You might also consider swapping out your in-home office chair for a stability ball!

Tip 3: Space Saving Equipment

Living in tight spaces often means you have to be very discerning about what you buy, save, and how you store your belongings. Thankfully, there are plenty of space-efficient pieces of equipment that are easy to store.

  • Workout DVDs: There are SO many workout DVDs that require little to no equipment and can easily be done in the comfort of your own home. Any of Jillian Michaels’s DVDs are sure to kick your butt and give you the best sweat sesh you’ve had in a while!
  • Jumprope: Jumping rope isn’t just for elementary school kiddos! A jumprope is a serious fat-torching tool! Jumping rope as an adult can burn up to ten calories per minute, and it can also strengthen your glutes, calves, and arms.

Jump Rope

  • Yoga Mat: A yoga mat or non-slip fitness mat is a must-have for your at-home workout. Using a yoga mat will prevent you from sliding and falling while doing certain exercises. Plus, it’s much more comfortable to do floor exercises on a softer surface, which will buffer some of the noise of jumping around so you won’t disturb the neighbors! Roll up the mat and slide it next to your nightstand or under your bed for easy and quick storage.
  • Dumbbells: Dumbbells are a versatile piece of gym equipment that never get old. If you have the extra space, definitely invest in some free weights. Dumbbells are great for adding resistance to your routine to help you strengthen and tone more specific muscles groups. I love to order the HEX dumbbells from Amazon that come in a variety of weights. Amazon also has this set of neoprene dumbbells that are lighter and come with an organizing rack.

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  • Pull-Up/Chin-Up Bar/TRX Bands: Talk about a space-saving, efficient piece of at-home gym equipment. You can find pull-up/chin-up bars that hang from a doorway or mount directly to a wall. This piece of equipment takes up little space and allows for a multitude of upper body workouts. TRX bands are handy suspension training straps that can hang from a doorway, wall, or ceiling. While this piece of equipment is more costly, there are a plethora of workouts that you can do using this form of suspension training. TRX suspension training uses gravity as your resistance. Making an exercise easier or more difficult is as simple as adjusting your positioning and the straps. Check out the TRX website here.
  • Mini Stair Stepper: This little piece of equipment is so genius! You can get a low-impact cardio workout in the comfort of your own home without having to own a large piece of cardio equipment (such as a treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike). The lightweight and portable mini stepper will help you tone and strengthen your lower body all while burning calories, raising your heart rate, and protecting your joints from harsh impact. You can use it at your standing desk, in front of the TV during your television show, or in front of the stove while you cook. Extra perk: it’s small enough to store under your desk or bed.
  • Resistance Bands: Resistance bands are a great tool to help you tone, strengthen, stretch, and even rehab injuries! Check out the branded resistance bands on my Kickstarter page, which come in three different sizes and resistance levels. 

Resistance Band Duck Walk

My Favorite Space-Saving Exercises 

  • Burpees
  • Push-Ups

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Push-Up 2

  • Crunches
  • Planks

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  • Jump Squats
  • Jumping Alternating Lunges

About Whole Body Fitness

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Whole Body Fitness is the most unique and comprehensive fitness planner on the market! It truly is a one-of-a-kind product! Whole Body Fitness is a guide to stewarding your body well. It is a comprehensive six-month undated fitness and wellness planner. It offers daily guided workout routines that give you the flexibility to choose exercises that you enjoy and are suitable for your fitness level. It also allows you to get creative with your workouts and gives you ownership of your program and success through the professional guidance of a personal trainer and health coach.

I created this planner with the modern woman in mind, with a focus on flexibility, simplicity, and accessibility. When I started my personal training career in Los Angeles, I saw a great desire for women to work with a trainer. For most, scheduling and budget made this challenging. I knew I had to set out to create a product that made these services more accessible for every woman.

Here’s how it works…

Step 1: Review the workout for the day.

Step 2: Write down how you feel before the day’s workout.

Step 3: Head to the Exercise Appendix in the back of the planner to choose appropriate exercises for that day’s workout. There are images in the appendix of the planner and videos on the Web site to help you learn correct form.

Step 4: Track your progress by writing down what exercises you choose, as well as the weight used and the numbers of sets and reps you complete.

Step 5: Note how you feel after your workout. 

Step 6: Celebrate and be proud of yourself for showing up and doing good for your body!

There are also goal checkpoints to assist in tracking and measuring your progress.

Whole Body Fitness will help you create a consistent and motivating system that works. By using this tool, you will have more time to do what matters most!

Photos via Bree McCool Photography, Danika Payton Photography, and Rebekah Lemire

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october giveaway!

It’s super early on a Monday morning, but I don’t even mind because….

  1. It’s Matt’s birthday and even though it’s a workday for both of us, I get to celebrate him all. day. long.
  2. I SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT LAST NIGHT! Without taking any of my trusty over-the-counter sleep meds. And without any weird dreams. And without waking up once.
  3. It’s time for the October giveaway!

I got such a great response to the Baublebar giveaway back in August that I’ve decided to bring it back for October. One lucky winner will be getting a $25 gift card to this awesome online boutique. Here are a few of my favorite pieces available on the site right now:

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Carisma Semi-Precious Pendant Necklace
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Starfire Druzy Tassel Earrings
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Wishbone Choker
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Celene Bangle Bracelet Set
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Celestrial Drops

So many fun options for the holidays, right? I’m really excited to share a $25 gift card with one of you so you can treat yourself to one of these items — or anything else you love on the site! And while I hope you use this gift card to treat yourself, it might also be a big help toward a gift for someone you love this holiday season : )

All you have to do to enter to win this giveaway is COMMENT on this post! As always, I’d love to see you share this link with friends so that more people have a chance to win (and to check out the blog!). I run a giveaway every month, so you’ll have another shot at winning something fun very soon.

I’ll draw the winner randomly one week from today, Monday 10/30. The winner will be announced right here on the blog. Good luck!

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happy (early) birthday, matt!

Birthdays are a pretty big deal for me. Not so much my own lately, but everyone else’s. I love any excuse to celebrate something special on a random weekday, and birthdays always seem to be the best way to make that happen. Plus, they give me the chance to love on someone I care about a little extra and to take some time out of the normal routine to recognize (even in a small way) how important they are in my life.

Matt’s birthday is coming up on Monday, and I’m so excited about his birthday that I thought I’d get an extra jump on things and embarrass him just a tiny bit on the blog today. Plus, Monday is giveaway day (!!!!!), and he shouldn’t have to share the spotlight with the awesome October prize that I hope you’ll all enter to win : )

We’re not doing anything too crazy to celebrate — just a really special meal tomorrow and then whatever else he wants to do. Our big night taking a cooking class at a beautiful hotel in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge on the last evening of our big California trip was the major trick I had up my sleeve for this birthday, but we can still celebrate with some dedicated time together now that we’re back in Brooklyn.

Matt’s one of those cool cats who’s somehow managed to stay totally off the social media grid (though he does read this blog — hi, Matt!), so I don’t get to give him as many twenty-first century-style shoutouts as he deserves. (Also, we have a joke between the two of us in which Matt has been running a secret blog of his own for the past few years. HAH! Cracks me up every time.) Anyway, here goes:

Happy (almost!) birthday to my husband, my truest friend, and the one that’s become my partner in every adventure and mishap and victory. You teach me something new every day about how to take things in stride and look at things from a fresh perspective. You’re smart, driven, dependable, compassionate, patient beyond all reason, and you somehow manage to laugh at most of my jokes (which I know isn’t always easy). You’ve made our tiny little Brooklyn apartment feel like home and you’ve become an incredibly thoughtful and sensitive husband in this first year and a half. Thank you for supporting me in all the curveballs I’ve thrown you and for letting me clog up our DVR with all of my bad TV. Can’t wait to celebrate you this weekend and always! 

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If you have some birthday wishes of your own for this awesome guy, feel free to add them in the comments below!

And don’t forget to hurry back on Monday for the October giveaway : ) You KNOW it’s going to be good.

Happy weekend, friends! For some weekend reading, check out my guest post over on FoodWaterShoes, where I share some of my favorite Brooklyn spots.

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mill valley + more.

I’m back in New York and back in the swing of things (well, almost), and so happy to finally be taking the time to gather up the photos from the back end of our California trip and tell you more about what we did. I had every intention of sharing an update on our Mill Valley and Marin County adventures last week, but I was so busy enjoying the trip and keeping up with other work that it just didn’t happen. Sorry about that! Actually, though, I’m only kind of sorry, because it felt great to be a little extra intentional about staying in the moment and making good memories with Matt. Plus, now that I’m officially a few days removed from the trip, I can reflect on and appreciate it that much more.

I mentioned in the recap of our days in San Francisco and Monterey that we weren’t totally crazy about downtown SF and that we were craving the down time we hoped we would find once we left the city and got to Mill Valley, where we’d booked an Airbnb for ten days. If you haven’t heard of it (and I hadn’t before we planned this trip), Mill Valley is a great little town in Marin County, about 15 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Thanks to advice from my friend Angela who lives in the Bay Area, we chose Mill Valley as our home base for the bulk of our time in California because it seemed like it was accessible to a lot of the other places we wanted to check out while we were in the area. We also found this awesome Airbnb that was within walking distance of the actual town of Mill Valley — which has tons of bars and restaurants — and was at the base of some great walking trails. Seriously, everyone, if you ever decide to go to Mill Valley or Marin (and you’re going to want to after reading this post), I would highly, highly recommend this little bungalow. It was our first experience with Airbnb, but it was an excellent one. This place really made us feel at home!

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I could go on forever about all of the great things we did, so I’ll try to choose a few highlights : )

Hiking Muir Woods: One of the things on Matt’s bucket list (which I didn’t know until recently!) was to see California’s redwood trees — and we got to see plenty on this hike! We explored the tourist area around Muir Woods, then hiked about seven miles on a winding series of trails. Luckily, we ran into a former park ranger near what we thought was the end of the trail, and he told us about a beautiful summit just 100 yards ahead. The hike would have been really fun even without that inside scoop, but the amazing view was definitely the cherry on top. We finished our day with burgers and shakes at Super Duper in Mill Valley. After a full day of hiking, I probably could have had three shakes! We did some other hiking and explored other trails in the Mill Valley area, but Muir Woods was definitely the best.

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Stinson Beach: We specifically planned this as a non-beach trip, but you can’t go to California and spend all that time driving up and down the coast only to never park yourself on the sand for a while. One night, we packed up a beach bag, picked up a bottle of rosé (and a bag of marshmallows because, yum!), and drove to Stinson to read and watch the sun set over the ocean. As a lifelong East Coaster, I’m totally impressed by that west coast sun slowly dipping its way into the water. It’s magical!

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Dinner with friends in Menlo Park: Angela and I (and Matt, too!) went to high school together, but we somehow managed to spend four yours in the same building without realizing that we were meant to be friends! We reconnected recently thanks to blogging and social media (check out her blog here), and when Matt and I decided to plan a trip to Northern California, Angela was a huge help in putting everything together. Thanks to her husband Kendrick, Angie moved out to the Bay Area a little over five years ago, and we really couldn’t have organized this adventure without her. I was so. happy. that we were able to connect in person during our visit. Angela and Kendrick invited us to their home in Menlo Park for dinner, and we had the best night catching up and meeting their ten-month-old, Gio! It’s so rare as an adult to meet people who you so automatically connect with (at least, it is for me), and I definitely felt that last week with the Ribeiros. It was a highlight of our trip and we’re so grateful to count this family among our friends.

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Biking on Angel Island: We rented bikes in Tiburon and took the ferry to Angel Island, which is known to have some of the best views of the Bay Area. Matt and I love to bike, but we’re far from experts at it, and thanks to a combination of crummy rental bikes and unpaved roads, the biking portion of the trip wasn’t totally flawless — but the experience was totally worth the hiccups. Due to the horrible fires in wine country, the visibility wasn’t great, but we still got some amazing photos and loved taking in the whole San Francisco area from above.

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Pasta Class at Cavallo Point Lodge: I knew I wanted to plan something special for Matt while we were in California to help kick off the celebrations for his birthday (he turns 28 on October 23!), but I’m the furthest thing from a good liar, so I was taking a big risk when I booked a cooking class for us on the last night of our trip, knowing that I’d have to keep the secret for two whole weeks while we were living in such close quarters. Somehow, I managed to play it totally cool, and on our final morning, I told him when we woke up that he would need to be ready to go somewhere by 5:30 that night. Little did I know that the place where I booked the class — the Cavallo Point Lodge — happened to be one of the most beautiful places we visited the whole time! The Lodge is a hotel located in Sausalito with an incredible view of the Golden Gate Bridge and idyllic grounds. We got there early so I could surprise Matt in time to grab a drink and watch the sun set. After our drink, we went to our cooking class, which focused on filled pastas like ravioli and tortellini. We had so much fun! I wish I had more pictures, but we were so busy cooking (and then eating, duh), that I could barely grab my phone. This was seriously a night to remember, and if you live in the area or are planning to visit soon, I would definitely recommend stopping at Cavallo Point, even if it’s only for a drink.

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Outside of these highlights, I could go on and on about all of the sweet little coffee shops we visited and delicious meals we had, but then I’ll be totally gushing, so I’m going to have to stop.

Because of the wildfires raging in Napa and Sonoma, we (unfortunately) didn’t get to see wine country, and our thoughts go out to all of the families affected by the disaster. Given the newfound appreciation we have for Northern California after this trip, we feel sadder than ever knowing that so many good people and so much beautiful land was hit so hard by the flames.

That’s a wrap on California, friends. Thanks so much, as always, for following our journey!

 

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tips for traveling with your s.o.

Matt and I have always been pretty good travel buddies.

On one of our very first dates, we took a somewhat spontaneous road trip from Hershey, PA to Washington, DC. Four hours in the car together each way, still basically strangers, not even sure what kind of music the other person really liked listening to or what kind of car snacks would make them less annoyed by traffic. We managed to get through those trips with only minimal awkwardness, which was an early sign (to me, at least) that there could really be something to the relationship.

Since then, we’ve taken countless long drives together. I’m pretty comfortable as the navigator, while Matt’s great in the driver’s seat. Eight and a half years later, I know that he likes listening to country music (or, more recently, podcasts*) and that a purple Gatorade and Clif Bar is his ideal driving food and drink combo.

More recently, we’ve started taking longer trips together, too. It took four years for us to get on a plane together, but since then, we’ve had a chance to explore some amazing places, especially in the last year or two. I feel lucky that we’re pretty naturally compatible when it comes to travel, but we’re still always learning how to do better, and since the trip we’re on is the longest yet (you can read more about the first few stops here), we’ve definitely picked up a few more best practices over the last few days. Here are a few (Matt-approved) tips for traveling with your significant other that we hope will help minimize tension and maximize fun!

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  • Share luggage space. We haven’t always done this, but for our last two trips, we’ve been more flexible about maximizing our joint carry-on and checked bags by squeezing both of our stuff into the spots where it makes the most sense — even if it’s not “my” or “his” bag. Admittedly, I can be a little territorial, so this was hard for me to come around to, but it’s allowed us to save money on luggage fees and to pack more of what we want.
  • Don’t overbook yourself. We find that it’s best to leave as much flexibility in our travel schedule as possible. Typically, we start a vacation with a list of things we want to see and do, but we don’t usually have them scheduled ahead of time. This allows us to get a feel for the area and ease into travel mode for a day or two before we start sketching out a plan. Leaving some margin in your schedule also gives you a chance to have a little extra downtime. As much as we love seeing cool sights and trying great restaurants while we’re away, we also find that some of our favorite moments on vacation happen when we’re casually wandering around town or watching movies in the hotel. Those moments only happen when you build in some extra free time!
  • Over-communicate. Let’s be honest — I’m pretty much an over-communicator no matter where we are. BUT, a little extra communication is even more important when you and your S.O. have invested time and money into a vacation that’s meant to be special for both of you. Early on in this trip, for example, I had a feeling that Matt and I were maybe prioritizing different things as we started to plan our itinerary, and I could see that it might cause tension (at least on my end!). We talked about it right away so that we could avoid a bigger issue later on — and it worked!

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  • Understand what’s most important to your S.O. and let them take the lead on it! Friends, it’s taken me a long time to learn this one. One of Matt’s favorite things about travel is exploring great restaurants and trying new foods. I love a good meal as much as the next person, but it doesn’t make or break a vacation for me, and it’s not always where I’d choose to spend the biggest chunk of our travel budget. In the name of compromising, I’ve learned to let my husband research (read: obsess over) restaurants and make most of the decisions about where we eat. It really excites him! Since food isn’t as much of a “thing” for me, this is a place where I’ve learned to step back a bit, which gives him a chance to vacation the way he likes to — and I can speak up when it counts for me, too.
  • It’s OK to do your own thing. Matt and I live in a 700-square foot apartment in New York, so we’re not really phased by sharing small hotel rooms, but we’re also introverts, which means that if we don’t get a little quiet time for ourselves here and there, we aren’t exactly our best selves. We’ve learned over the years that it’s really important to grant each other the occasional hour of alone time when we’re traveling. Time to exercise or nap or take a quiet walk is super important, and we always come back together ready to enjoy our trip even more. It’s not the mark of a bad couple’s vacation to spend some time alone!

I’d love to hear your tips for traveling with your significant other! Leave them in the comments below.

**And if you’re a podcast fan like us, I have great news for you. My friend Brittney’s new podcast Day In the Life just launched TODAY! Check it out here on iTunes. It’s a super cool peek into the lives of some awesome people. You’re gonna love it! 

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san francisco + monterey.

Hi from Mill Valley, California, everyone! Yesterday, Matt and I checked into our Airbnb in this amazing little town about 15 miles north of San Francisco. We’re just a few hours into this leg of our trip and loving it already — but more on that next week! First, I want to share a little bit more about the first few days of our travels…

We landed in San Francisco late Saturday morning and got settled at our hotel (The Marker, which we liked a lot!). Since we’re city dwellers who do a lot of walking in our everyday lives at home, we tend to like exploring new places on foot whenever we can, so we threw on our sneakers and took to the streets! We’d heard a lot about the Mission District and all of the great places you can find to eat there, so we headed in that direction and stopped to have lunch at Gracias Madre. I’m not the biggest fan of Mexican food, but the menu looked pretty good, and I’ll never complain about chips and guac : ) Within a few minutes of being seated, we figured out that it was a vegan restaurant, which threw Matt for a bit of a loop, especially! The meal was delicious (can someone teach me to make sweet potato tacos with pumpkin seeds, please?) and I think it may have even opened up Matt’s mind to trying vegan dishes in the future. Maybe. From there, we walked to Mission Dolores Park, where we found a spot on the grass to people watch (or, if you’re me, dog watch) for a few hours.

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I wasn’t crazy about how we spent the rest of Saturday night (dinner was a serious flop for me — I don’t want to dish the bad stuff here!), but my body was (and, four days later, still is) on east coast time, so it felt pretty great to get back to the hotel and crash.

Sunday morning, we were up bright and early with a list of other things we wanted to check out in the city. We set out toward the water and spent most of the day walking along the bay and then straight up a very steep hill to the famous Lombard Street. For me, the best part of the day was the early morning! We walked to the Ferry Building, grabbed breakfast from Cowgirl Creamery, and sat by the waterfront looking at this view while we ate!

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Visiting Ghirardelli Square was another Sunday highlight. Matt and I split their original hot fudge sundae for lunch, and it was by far some of the richest chocolate I’ve ever tasted.

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Shoutout to the guy who most definitely had too much to drink before he walked past us sitting on this repurposed ski lift and insisted that the moment called for a photo. He has a good eye! These are seriously some of my new favorite pictures (well, maybe not the one with him in it).

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Monday was a big day for pictures, because we spent the whole morning driving down Highway One to our second hotel in Monterey, then the afternoon making a loop around Pebble Beach (I posted some of those photos here). My entire camera roll is pretty much photos of incredible blue water from the window of our rental car, plus some shots we took at the Pigeon Point Ligthouse. They’re all too pretty to delete!

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Monday night, we drove down to Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey for dinner. For my fellow Jersey shore folks, the Wharf was basically a miniature boardwalk, with a higher proportion of seafood restaurants and a lower proportion of T-shirt shops. I’ve never seen anything like it — every. single. restaurant was giving away free samples of New England clam chowder to everyone who walked by. I guess that’s what you have to do to keep up with the competition, right? The strategy worked on us because we were sold on the chowder at Crabby Jim’s and ended up sitting down there to eat.

Tuesday was our busiest day yet, and it was a big one for me because I finally got to see the sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. When I was really young, my grandmother visited the aquarium and brought me back tons of otter souvenirs — a book, a shirt, and a stuffed animal — and I became totally obsessed with them. It’s been a bucket list item for me to go visit the otters myself ever since. I’m not going to say that I teared up when I saw them up close for the first time, but I’m, not going to say that I didn’t, either. They’re such happy, interesting animals, and it was great learning more about what the aquarium is doing to keep them safe and rebuild their population.

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After I’d recovered from all of the otter excitement (just kidding— I still haven’t recovered), we drove back into Monterey and had lunch at The Poke Lab. I’ve been wanting to try poke for, well, forever, and it didn’t disappoint!

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We had a few more spots we wanted to see south of Monterey before heading north to Mill Valley, so we jumped back in the car and drove to Big Sur. So many more incredible photos through a car window added to my phone! Guys, California is seriously beautiful.

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To finish up the day, we went to Carmel-by-the-Sea, took a walk on the beach, and explored the area a bit. Every time it feels like there can’t possibly be another adorable California coastal town, we find one more! It’s unbelievable.

As you can probably tell, these first few days were really busy. We saw a lot, drove a lot, and (admittedly) ate a lot. We covered a ton of ground and hit pretty much everything that was on our wish list for the San Francisco and Monterey areas. But it was a little exhausting! To be perfectly honest, Matt and I weren’t totally crazy about San Francisco, so we were happy to move on to the more low-key Monterey — and we’re even happier now to be unwinding in Mill Valley. I’ve more or less stayed on my east coast schedule, because I’ve been waking up super early every morning to work (I’m still working my scheduled Bustle writing shifts, for example, from 6 to 12 PST twice a week). I’m really grateful that I have the flexibility to keep up with my work while also enjoying this quality time with Matt, but I’m also ready for some good sleep! Thanks to our cozy new digs, I’m feeling like I’ll definitely be able to make that happen over the next ten days. I can’t wait to share our Mill Valley adventures with you next week.

In the meantime, for more details on our travels, follow me on Instagram stories!

 

 

 

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