Monday, October 2, 2017

Wisconsin

In July, Dan and I traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for my college friend's wedding.  I was looking forward to the trip for two reasons: one, I would reunite with a gaggle of my college girlfriends, and two, I'd get to visit Milwaukee for the first time!  I really haven't spent much time in Wisconsin at all, and I wanted to see what it was like.



We definitely splurged on our hotel for the trip, staying with the wedding hotel block at the historic Pfister Hotel.  I mean, it's the same place that the visiting MLB team was staying, so you know it's nice, right?  I just couldn't resist making it a special weekend for Dan and me, knowing it was a short weekend trip.  Our room was in the more modern wing, but I also visited my friend's room in the historic side.  Both are absolutely stunning and high end!


Room at the Pfister Hotel

The Pfister Hotel Lobby

The Pfister is definitely where I'd stay again if I could return to Milwaukee, especially if I could try their Sunday brunch.  We were able to walk to local restaurants and the wedding reception, and we felt like we were VIPs.  The hotel itself had fantastic bars and food, so it's a great home away from home!


Blackened Chicken Bacon Avocado Sandwich at Swingin' Door Exchange

Speaking of food, our group met up for dinner the night before the wedding and walked to the Swingin' Door Exchange.  It was super busy, which is a great sign!  We sat outside because it was easiest at the time for our big group, and the weather was gorgeous.  Everyone sampled the local Wisconsin beer, while I (very newly pregnant at the time!) focused on the food.  I chose the Blackened Chicken Bacon Avocado sandwich.  It was HUGE and delicious.  They had these special fried potato cakes that were incredible too.  Yum yum yum.

When it came time for the wedding reception, we were treated to a beautiful panoramic view at the top of Pier Wisconsin's Discovery World.  If Dan and I could get married again, we'd probably have a wedding at a library, observatory, zoo, or a science center like Discovery World!  We're nerds at heart, so we totally ate up the venue.





I felt so safe walking around the city of Milwaukee's downtown area.  It felt like a smaller version of Chicago in a way, super clean and just a very friendly city.  And the water was absolutely stunning.



Friendship goals, too.



The morning after the wedding, before everyone headed to the airport, my friends got together for one more meal: brunch at CafĂ© Benelux.  It was definitely slammed, so I recommend getting there well in advance of when you want weekend brunch!  But again, crowded spots usually result in delicious food.

We started with hand-dipped breakfast corndogs, service with a dijon maple syrup.  I mean, how brunch is that?  They were really tasty, too.  Definitely a fun way to start brunch out right.



For my main brunch, I had the Hodge Podge: melted cheddar, thick-cut bacon, sausage, fried eggs, potatoes, chorizo cream gravy, and pico de gallo.  OMG.  So much food and delicious flavor in one bowl.  We were also really impressed with how our server managed like six different checks and two little kids and a bunch of stuff.  They just knew what they were doing!  Definitely a great way to wrap up our quick trip to Wisconsin.



Have you ever been to Milwaukee?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Nashville Murals

Which came first, Instagram or cities creating way more murals than they used to have?  I'm not sure.  Nashville has definitely been stepping up its mural game.  My friend B and I like to do something fun when we get together, so a while back (truth: I think it was May or June) we had a delicious brunch at MarchĂ© Artisan Foods, then went driving around town to take photos with some of our fav murals.  

My advice is to choose your neighborhoods and have a plan in mind, so you can park and walk between murals easily.  We found free parking (at least long enough to snap a pic) pretty much everywhere for these.

Here's where we ended up!


East Nashville Mural
Side of the Joyner and Hogan building at 600 Main St




DCXV Industries Nashville Mural
Center 615 building (East Nashville)




Nathan Brown mural
Corner of Overton and Mansion St. (across from Barista Parlor in the Gulch)




 Ian Ross Mural
11th Ave South/Laurel Street (the Gulch)



Jason Woodside Mural
11th Ave. S/Laurel St. (the Gulch)



What Lifts You
302 11th Ave. S (the Gulch)



Draper James
2608 12th Avenue South (12South, side of the store)



I Believe in Nashville
2706 12th Avenue South (12South)
(Note: there's a bigger one at 1306 McGavock Pike at Marathon Music Works)



Nashville Script
2705 12th Ave S. on the side of Corner Music (12 South)



Green Pea Salon Flower Mural
2900 12th Ave S (12South)



Make Music Not War Mural
2900 12th Ave S across from flowers (12South)



I'm not the first or last to post about Nashville murals, but I will say we had a lot of fun being tourists in our own area.  It was funny to see certain murals' popularity, as there were times we had to queue up to take our turn for a photo!

There are SO MANY more we haven't visited, too!

One of my fav local bloggers, Kristin Luna, did an even  bigger mural post/adventure if you're interested.

Do you have a favorite Nashville mural?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Stitch Fix: 15th Fix

Disclosure:  I paid for my own Stitch Fix; all opinions are my own.  If you're interested in trying Stitch Fix, I'd love for you to use my referral link so I can get $25 towards my next Fix!


I'm back with another Stitch Fix recap!  And yes, it's September and I got this fix in June.  My bad, but I took a little blogging hiatus and never posted... but that's alright, because I know people love these regardless.

I always look forward to Stitch Fix boxes; my stylist really knows me at this point.  So it didn't surprise me when I loved everything in this box at first glance!  All of it was stuff I'd try on for myself in a store.

41Hawthorn Maybel Jersey Faux Wrap Dress

I was so pumped when I saw this dress!  I loved the black accents on it.  But once I got it on, the dress didn't have the movement or fabric in the skirt that I usually prefer, and the print wasn't my favorite once I had it on.  If the skirt had more volume, and the print was different, I'd have kept it.  RETURNED.


Luq Julliet Knit Top

I loved the softness of this top!  I didn't put it off-the-shoulder in this photo because I would have had to remove a plastic strap, but I plan to wear it both ways.  It's perfect for summer and I can put it on my shoulders in the office too.  The sleeves were too pretty.  KEPT.  (I still wear this one, but with a cami underneath because I wish the length was longer.  Also, it didn't wash well so it looks a bit worn, but again, I wear it still.)


Daniel Rainn Malaika Henley Blouse

I really loved the print on this shirt, but cap sleeves are the devil  I would have worn this under cardigans or jackets if it were truly sleeveless, but the cap sleeves had to go.  Loved the print!  RETURNED.


Papermoon Marisol Mixed Material Knit Top

Loved this shirt, and I wanted to keep it, but I realized that I don't wear navy much because almost all of my pants are jeans or black.  So I knew this wouldn't get a ton of wear, even though I loved both the fit and the mixed material.  RETURNED.



Liverpool Kolten Cropped Denim Jacket

Finally, I have my blue denim jacket!  I was a little uncertain about this one, because I wanted a jacket with silver or brass colored hardware, and this one has black hardware.  But this is just like the white denim jacket that I have, with great elastic stretch to it.  I knew that this was a keeper, and that the denim jacket hole in my closet was finally filled.  Great layering piece!  KEPT.  (This has proved to be a great travel jacket!)

Overall, I loved this fix.  It's clear that my stylist knows my preferences, and I seriously considered everything in the box.  Yay!  It's not cheap, but the delight of getting to try everything on and the convenience of having it come straight to me is worth it.  That's why I've now had fifteen Fixes since March 2015!


Past Stitch Fix Reviews
(all reviews, in reverse order)

Disclosure:  I paid for my own Stitch Fix; all opinions are my own.  If you're interested in trying Stitch Fix, I'd love for you to use my referral link so I can get $25 towards my next Fix!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Portland: Food

Every year, Dan and I try to take a week-long vacation as a couple.  For our 2017 trip, we decided to take a road trip through parts of Oregon and Washington!

Portland is a delicious foodie city!  While we were there, we definitely ate our fill.  A ton of places were walking distance (or a super quick Lyft) from our Airbnb in southeast Portland.  If you have a bad meal in Portland, you're doing it wrong.

Fifty Licks Ice Cream
Everyone talks about Salt & Straw (and their line is out the door), but another spot with a line out the door that we found was Fifty Licks.  Since it was in our Airbnb neighborhood, we ventured out for some scoops.  



I loved the smell of them making fresh waffle cones!  I got to see them making and shaping them as we waited in line.  There was limited seating, but we got our cones for walking since it was a bit crazy in there at the time.



As for the ice cream?  Buttery, fatty, deliciousness.  Just how ice cream is supposed to taste!  I'd highlight recommend it.



Cascade Brewing Barrel House
Just a quick (dark) pic from Cascade, because it's definitely worth mentioning.  Dan is a huge fan of good sour beers, so Cascade was a must-visit for us in Portland.  He liked the taproom, and they had a great selection.  While we didn't eat there, it's close to a lot of restaurants and serves its own food,  so you definitely should pop in for a visit.


We met up with my college buddy and his wife at one of their favorite Portland restaurants, Al-Amir.  Serving Lebanese and Mediterranean fare, I had no idea we were in for a family-style feast!  The food was fresh, aromatic, flavorful, and tasty.  It's unassuming from the outside, but once you're in you feel like family for sure.  Dan loves Lebanese food, especially lamb dishes.  We really enjoyed our meal at Al-Amir.


One of the spots walking distance from our Airbnb (and highly recommended by our hosts) was Screen Door.  YES YES YES.  This place is a must!  I'm a huge fan of breakfast foods and brunch, and this place was awesome.  It was jam-packed with people too, always a good sign.



The food came in huge portions.  It was decadent.  I could eat there every day for a week and not get through all the things I wanted to try.  Again, I'm a breakfast fanatic, and this menu was amazing.  I went with the vanilla bean brioche French toast.  I think Dan got the waffle with fried chicken.  I loved every bite, and I'd love to come back here.



Blue Star Donuts
Here's another one where we went with a local reco over the iconic reco.  We'd eaten Voodoo Doughnuts in Austin, so we figured we should try the place that locals told us was even better: Blue Star Donuts.  These are seriously good doughnuts, but you'd be hard-pressed to finish more than one in a sitting!  So much flavor and density!   If you like a cake donut and foodie flavors, this place is for you.



Our one mistake?  We had no idea the day we decided to get these donuts was National Donut Day.  So basically it was perfect for Instagram, not perfect for lines.  We chose one particular Blue Star donut shop based on it being the most residential, so our line wasn't so bad as others faced that day.



EastBurn was another spot walking distance from our Airbnb.  We headed over looking for dinner, and this place also had a great list for beer and whiskey.  I loved the super hipster cage chairs hanging on their stage as seating, but Dan and I weren't up for braving them.  I totally have a fear that I'll sit in one and it'll fall and hurt my pride... and I might not be able to eat without making a mess! LOL



We made the mistake of ordering a delicious appetizer, meaning my (tasty) gut bomb of a sandwich was entirely too much food for me to finish, but boy was it flavorful.  I think I got the brisket sandwich, but looking back I was too busy inhaling it to remember months back.  I'm pretty sure it was the brisket, because a Korean inspired sauce is always my jam!



Do you have a favorite spot in Portland for great food and drink?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Portland: Washington Park

Every year, Dan and I try to take a week-long vacation as a couple.  For our 2017 trip, we decided to take a road trip through parts of Oregon and Washington!

At the end of our vacation, Dan and I spent a couple of days in Portland.  I'll be honest, we were pretty worn out after a week of road-tripping, so we took it easy during our stay.  Portland is a great city.  While I think Seattle is more our style, we found that the food and beer in Portland is fantastic (follow-up post coming on that later), and we spent an entire day exploring one area: Washington Park.  We loved that once you get there, you can take shuttles around to different areas.  We hit up three of the big ones!

We love zoos, so we often try to visit AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums when we're traveling to different cities.  This zoo is one of our favorites in the U.S. now, mostly because we absolutely fell in love with their elephant exhibit!  It's also really reasonably priced even for adult tickets, so we were fans.




We seriously could not get over these two elephants, little sister and big brother, as she nudged him to play in the water.  They were so active and animated, and they seemed really happy.  The rest of the elephants entered the water after them too.




Also of note, the restaurant at the zoo entrance is actually really good.  It's not badly priced, and the food was yummy.  So if you're hungry and in the park, it's a safe bet to grab a bite there.


This garden is actually a public park!  You can visit it free of charge.  In 1917, a group of enthusiasts in Portland came up with the idea to have an American rose test garden, and now they are sent tons of roses from all over the world to "house" together here.  There are over 7,000 rose plants of approximately 550 varieties in the gardens.



I was just in love with the variety!  The sizes, the colors... the yellows were probably my favorite (it's my fav color after all!) but the huge roses with a zillion petals made my heart swoon.  Even Dan really enjoyed literally taking time to stop and smell the roses.




This garden involves a LOT of walking, y'all.  So just be prepared.  But it's got eight garden styles and some beautiful settings and zoos.  It's not a cheap price of entry for what you get to see, but if you're at the nearby rose garden it's an easy add-on to your Washington Park visit.  There's also some great views, since you climb a huge hill to get to everything.



Isn't the view stunning?  Mount Hood is there in the background, but being in the Japanese garden I kept thinking it could be Mount Fuji LOL.




Washington Park was probably our favorite place overall in Portland!


P.S.  We really loved our Airbnb (see it here).  It was a little basement efficiency unit for two people (no full kitchen, but we didn't need one!) with separate entrance and safe neighborhood for walking.  It was nice and cozy, and we loved the area and its restaurants.  Sign up for Airbnb here with my referral link for $40 off your first trip!
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