10.11.2017

Maple & Pine at The Quirk Hotel

One of my favorite things about living in the nation's capital is that there are so many places to visit within a half-day drive or less. Cities like Richmond, where I recently traveled for a girls getaway with my friends Jenn and Laura. I had yet to visit Virginia's capital in the 5+ years I've lived in DC, so when we got an invitation to come down and explore the city, we happily accepted.

Nearly everyone we asked recommended that we stop in The Quirk Hotel while in town. Not only to see its charming decor and have a drink at the Q Rooftop Bar, but for the restaurant it welcomes you with in the main lobby, Maple & Pine.



Maple & Pine boasts a bright and airy atmosphere, with an almost Mad Men era decor that Elle Woods would appreciate.



The designer of the space found a way to make even the pops of pink gender neutral; rich wood floors, black wrought iron finishes, and white marble tables with accented furniture fill the room.





Equally as impressive, the food does a good job of complimenting the atmosphere. A menu comprised of vibrant and colorful dishes that are both visually appealing and fulfilling.

We started our Saturday morning brunch with a round of mimosas and an off the menu dish, Cheddar Cheese Grits with a Poached Egg and Pork Belly. Surprisingly enough, this was my first time trying a poached egg. Not sure why it took me so long to try one, but I'm hooked. I can't stop eating Eggs Benedict ever since (but that's for another post, ha!).





For our entrees, Jenn and I couldn't make up our minds between the French Toast or the Virginia Ham and Gruyere Cheese Sandwich. So, we opted for both and to share. Both dishes were delicious, but the Gruyere sandwich was arguably my favorite of the two.



To round out our meal we were greeted with a trifecta of desserts: Vanilla Almond Cake with Macerated Blueberries and Lavender Ice Cream, Local Peaches Marinated in Grand Marnier with Peach Sorbet, and Chocolate Ganache with an Amaretto Cookie and Coffee Ice Cream. Bet you can't guess which one was my favorite, ha!







From the atmosphere to the decor, to the presentation and the taste, Maple & Pine fulfilled all of my expectations. I happily recommend a visit next time you're in town. And if a full meal doesn't quite fit into the schedule, The Quirk Hotel offers a fast service coffee and pastry stand near the entrance. The chocolate croissants looked heavenly, and I can definitely say the Chai Tea Latte was one of the best I've ever had.





If you're in town only for a night, grab a spot at the bar for pre-dinner cocktails or head up to the roof for after dinner fun. No matter what you're looking for, The Quirk Hotel offers many opportunities to fill your time during your visit to Richmond, Virginia! Enjoy, y'all!



Thank you to The Quirk Hotel and Maple & Pine for having us. A portion of our meal was comped. 
All photos and opinions are my own. 

10.05.2017

A Weekend in Richmond



Two weekends ago, myself and my traveler buddies Jenn and Laura, headed to Richmond, Virginia for a girls weekend. Jenn had been a few times before, but neither Laura or I had. I've been on several trips with these two, so we knew exactly what activities the three of us enjoy... eating and drinking, ha. I'll be honest, the weather was unseasonably warm and extremely humid, thus we didn't get to do quite as much exploring outside as we had hoped. But we still made the most of our trip! Scroll down to see what all we did.







We arrived to Richmond Friday evening and checked into our home for the weekend, the newly renovated Jefferson Hotel.



The Jefferson was exactly what dreams are made of. It reminds me of a hotel you'd see in the South, with lots of marble, stain glass windows, rich fabrics and rugs. It truly is stunning in person. Every single employee of the hotel was kind, courteous and helpful. We never felt lost or helpless. The rooms are also some of the largest standard rooms I've ever stayed in. At first we thought they had put us in a suite. Our room came complete with two double beds, a sitting area, walk-in closet with vanity area and a massive bathroom with tub and shower. It honestly felt like we were staying in someone's home, ha. The mirror in the bathroom even came with a built in TV. Probably the coolest thing I've seen in a hotel room as of late. I would take extra time getting ready each morning, just so I could enjoy the Today Show via the TV mirror!





But the one thing that set The Jefferson apart was their attention to detail. Everything from the personal products they offered in the bathroom, to the turn down service in the evening. Nothing beats walking into your hotel room after a long day of work + driving, to find the bed turned down, your slippers and bathrobe laid out on the bed, and a chocolate on your pillow. Truly magical.



After we checked in, we headed up to our room to freshen up. Upon our arrival they had set out a bottle of Pinot Noir and cheese tray for us. The perfect way to kickoff our weekend! [Note, my diet was totally out the window this weekend, ha!]



After freshening up we headed to dinner at the highly recommended Pasture. We shared some fried sweet pickles and pimento cheese (my favorite), and I enjoyed the beef with a grit cake for my entree. Dinner was delicious, but we opted to forgo after dinner cocktails for the wine back in our hotel room. That + Legally Blonde was on, so how could we top that?!



Saturday we woke up and took a few outfit photos before heading off to brunch at Maple & Pine. I'm going to do a full meal recap later next week, so stay tuned. We snapped countless photos at this adorable spot before grabbing a coffee on our way back to the hotel for a quick change.



Changed and feeling a lot cooler in our non-fall outfits, we headed to Carytown to explore a bit. The Jefferson Hotel offers a complimentary shuttle that took us straight there. We walked around for a bit, and stopped in Can Can Brasserie for some frites and cocktails. And also, air conditioning. Like I said it was hot. Later that afternoon the three of us headed to checkout the beer trail; a new-to-the-area attraction. We went to The Veil Brewing Co. and then Ardent Craft Ales. Both were the perfect outdoor venue for enjoying a local brew prior to dinner. That evening we met up with our friends Monica and Katie (they were in Richmond the same weekend too) for dinner at Stella's. Another highly recommended spot. The Greek cuisine of pasta, breads and fried cheeses, oysters and more, really hit the spot after a long day of walking around Richmond. We capped the night off at a local rooftop bar.

Sunday we opted for a slower day and to stick around the hotel.



We slept in, enjoyed some coffee and tea in the room, snapped a few more outfit photos (can never have enough), and got ready for brunch at the Jefferson.



The Jefferson's Sunday Brunch is a can't miss. As you walk down their grand staircase into the hotel's atrium, you notice dozens of fine dining tables surrounded by food buffet stations. But this isn't your ordinary buffet setup. There's a breakfast table, full of every kind of breakfast food you can think of. An omelet station and waffle station. Another area full of pastries and country ham. A table full of lunch type items, accompanied by an ice sculpture towering over a tray of seafood. I mean come on. If that wasn't enough, in the middle of the room towered high, was the dessert station. Every single dessert was hand crafted, from the pumpkin cheesecake to the pumpkin and cream cheese brownie bites. I had to try a bite of as many as I could, of course.



At this point we were all extremely full from our weekend, ha! So we packed up, snapped a few more photos and headed back to DC. We truly had the best time!

The three of us had a wonderful few days of exploring (and eating our way through) Richmond. I can't wait to go back when the weather is cooler. Would love to tour around some of the other neighborhoods and along the waterfront. No matter what type of trip you're looking for, Richmond is just a short drive from Washington, D.C. So it's the ideal location for a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Special thanks to The Jefferson Hotel for hosting our stay, and Visit Richmond for assisting with our trip activities. All photos and opinions are my own. Compensation was provided through accommodations and activities. 

9.28.2017

Food Diary for FASTer Way to Fat Loss

Photo Credit


A little more than a week stands between me and the end of my first round of FASTer Way to Fat Loss. For the past 6+ weeks I've been sticking to a meal + fitness routine. I explained why I started this program in this post, and gave y'all an almost half way through update in this one. The one question many of you have asked me is: what is your meal plan like?

I thought it'd be easiest to answer that question by sharing a breakdown of a typical week. I'm sharing my tips + some of my favorite brands below. And if you're interested, the next round starts October 9th!! You can sign up with my trainer Val, here. I'll be doing this next round too and would love to do it with some of y'all! Would be great motivation and encouragement :)

A few notes before we begin:
  • Typically the days are the same each week, food wise. Some weeks a juice cleanse or all day fast are added (which is 100% optional). But that's only about two days during the entire program. So, we'll just follow a typical week for this post's sake. 
  • Calories are tabulated through the My Fitness Pal app. During the Prep Week (first week of the round, so this program is technically 7 weeks) you'll learn more how to log your daily food and how many calories you should be consuming. For my case, 1620 is the total amount of calories I should consume each day.
  • Each day you break your FAST at around noon. You want to work your body down to an 8hr feeding window each day. The longer your body is in a FASTed state, the more calories you'll burn. You won't start out doing this your first week. You will gradually work towards this. Took me about two weeks into the program for my body to adapt. 
  • I highly recommend these wireless headphones for your workouts. I learned early on that a cord getting in the way was less than ideal. 
  • The last piece of advice is make sure you consult your doctor and/or dietitian. I am no expert. And after an entire juice cleanse debacle where I had to quit for health reasons, I learned the lesson that I should have consulted someone and did more research first. Same goes with any aspect of this (or any) program. Just do what is best for you, your body and your health. 




Monday and Tuesday
Low Carb + Sprints

On Mondays and Tuesdays I will typically do my workout before work. These days consist of sprint intervals, usually on an elliptical, bike or treadmill + some light abs. These workouts are designed to get your heart rate up, so you burn fat and sweat out the toxins. I'll drink anywhere from 32-50oz of water during and after my workout, till I break my FAST at noon. I'll have a 12oz black coffee anytime during the morning. Black coffee or herbal tea will not break your fast. You can also have creamer and sugar, just make sure it's under 50 calories and be sure to log it in your food diary. 

At around noon (or sometimes later if I'm not hungry yet) I'll have my protein shake. I prefer the taste of CalNaturale Svelte Organic Protein Shake. You can get them from Amazon and they come in many flavors. This one tastes just like a chocolate milkshake (I'm not lying)! 

Then around 2:00pm or so I'll have "lunch." Which is usually a cobb salad or honey roasted turkey with a low-carb wrap, lettuce and chipotle mayo. The Mission Carb Balance wrap is perfect for low carb days, as it's only 4 net carbs (carbs minus fiber). My favorite cobb salad is from Au Bon Pain; the Chicken Avocado Cobb with Avocado Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing. So, so tasty. Another option is low fat or light chicken salad. I LOVE the one from Territory Foods. It's very tasty and high cal, which helps get your calorie intake in for the day. This can be hard sometimes on low carb days.

Snacks on low carb days: cucumber and hummus, roasted almonds, hard boiled eggs, low carb protein bars, herbal tea, salami, prosciutto or low cal cheese. Yes, I still eat cheese and meat!! 

For dinner I have been eating a lot of shrimp, tilapia or salmon. I love blackened tilapia. I'll pair with brussels sprouts, roasted broccoli or a side salad. 

The main point of low carb day is to stay under 50 net carbs (carbs minus fiber). The more fiber you consume, the more carbs you can have. Just be very careful with this, ha. When using the My Fitness Pal app, it'll track all of this for you. So you can easily plan out your meals a week in advance. Make sure you also note that fruit, veggies and gluten free snacks STILL HAVE CARBS. Read your labels carefully and play around with the MFP app. 

Wednesday and Thursday
Regular Calorie + Strength Training

Yesssss, now we can have carbs! I usually do these workouts in the evenings after work, as they can take a little bit longer. Strength training days consist of lifting weights and abs. One day you'll focus on legs and back, the other day you'll focus on arms and abs. The beauty of this program is that you're given workouts for at home, at the gym or beginner level. So you don't have to be a pro or have a gym membership. I bought weights and a yoga mat from TJMaxx so I can do these workouts in my apartment. 

I'll sleep in these mornings to rest up, but continue consuming lots of water and coffee till I break my fast at noon. I'll usually break this with a Dannon Light & Fit Strawberry Greek Yogurt (only 80cals) + add a scoop of Kashi Berry Crunch (my absolute favorite). This makes it like granola in your yogurt. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, ha! 

For lunch I'll have either a salad from Sweetgreen, another Territory Foods meal, a turkey sandwich (yes I still eat bread and gluten) with an apple (cutting out the potato chips is key), or leftovers from dinner the night before. Sometimes if I have a big "breakfast," I'll opt for a smoothie from the Protein Bar or Jamba Juice.

Snacks for regular calorie day: Grab the Gold Bars (high protein and taste like peanut butter crunch), almonds, rX bars, fruit of any kind, protein bars, almonds, pretzel crisps and hummus, cheese, blue corn chips and salsa, avocados, etc. 

For dinner I'll either make gluten free pasta with ground turkey meat sauce (the quinoa and brown rice pasta from Trader Joe's is 100% my fave and tastes just like pasta. Corey even tried it and says it tastes no different), have another fish with veggies, chicken and sweet potato fries (love sweet potatoes!!), or another Territory Foods meal. 

The key for regular calorie day is balancing your macros (which again, you can do in the My Fitness Pal app). Macros are 50% carbs, 30% fat (mostly good fats like avocados), and 20% protein. Based on what you eat throughout the day, you want to hit these macros as close as you can. You don't want to eat too many carbs or too much fat. You can still have cheese, bread and wine!! Just make sure it's factored into your macros and you're still eating enough substantial food for your workouts. 

Fridays and Sundays
Low Calorie + Active Rest Day

On Fridays and Sundays you focus on low calorie and active rest. Meaning, you still focus on hitting your macros but you eat 25% less calories. So for me, I consume 1620 calories each day (or I try to). On low cal day, I focus on eating 1215 calories. I consume a lot of the similar foods I have on regular calorie day. And for the active rest you can either do a yoga class, light jog or run around your neighborhood or at the gym, a long stretch session, spend time in the sauna or just rest, ha. It's up to you!

Saturday
Strength Training Day Calories + Leg Day

Saturdays I'll be honest are the hardest workout. BUT I love that it falls on a Saturday. I'll take my time waking up, have some coffee and water, and hit the gym around 10:00am. There's usually no one in my apartment building's gym at this time. Leg Day focuses on a lot of speed intervals with lunges, leg exercises and high intensity abs. I crushed last week's!! It took me about 4 weeks to really do the workout and finish it entirely. So don't get discouraged in the beginning. 

The best part is, if you crush the workout you can enjoy 25% MORE CALORIES!! These are the days you'd consume that breakfast bagel, cupcakes or lots of bread, beer or wine, etc. Obviously still stick to your macros for the day, but you can consume more calories. Ideally you eat your "reward food" right after the workout. For me, that's definitely Chick-Fil-A, a blueberry bagel from Bethesda Bagels or game day food. It's perfect this day falls on a Saturday, because resisting game day snacks is next to near impossible, ha. 



Okay, so I know that's a TON of information. And I won't lie, I was super overwhelmed at first. But, you totally catch on quickly. Plus, that's why you start with a prep week. Gives you seven days to try out the program, ask questions and get into a routine. Which was super helpful to me and a large reason that I've stuck with this program. I have really good days, and some days I just can't stop snacking on the pumpkin crunch caramel corn at work. It happens. It's about balance. And for me, I have consistently worked out 4-5 days a week for the past five weeks. That's a HUGE win for me. 

If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to email me or comment below. Happy to help! And don't forget to signup to do the next round with me. I'm very excited to kick off my second round, and plan to focus on discovering more recipes and building up my strength in the gym.


9.21.2017

Packing List for Richmond

Richmond Packing List




This weekend I'm heading down to Richmond, Virginia for a fun girls weekend with Jenn and Laura. I've never been to Richmond, but it has been on my "must visit" list since moving to DC. It's only about a two hour drive from DC, so it makes for the perfect quick weekend getaway. We're leaving tomorrow afternoon and will be doing a media visit with Visit Richmond and the newly renovated Jefferson Hotel. I've heard nothing but great things about the Jefferson Hotel, and we've had tons of friends share their must do's in Richmond. We'll be visiting The Quirk Hotel's rooftop one evening and restaurant for brunch on Saturday, eating all the Southern food we can, maybe stopping by a brewery and shop around some of the stores in town. Anything you've done that we can't miss?

I started shopping for this trip a few weeks back when the weather started to feel like fall. I even switched my closet over last weekend thinking the cooler temps were here to stay. Well, I totally jinxed myself cause, at least for the next week or so, temps are well back into the mid 80's. Especially for this weekend. So I'm totally having to rethink the items I planned to take with me. Right now I'm trying to find the balance of dressing for fall and utilizing some of the new pieces I got, and being comfortable in the heat. Above are some of the items I'll definitely be packing. My focus will be on layers; pairing dresses with a denim jacket for the cooler mornings. Booties are still a go, as well as fall colored accessories.

Be sure to follow along on our trip via Instagram Stories. I'll be sharing all the behind the scenes + snippets from our visit, there. Hope y'all have a great weekend!

Special thanks to the Jefferson Hotel and Visit Richmond for sponsoring our trip.

9.15.2017

The Weekender, Vol. 10



Now that football season is in full swing, my weekends have and will be consisting of game day Saturdays and NFL Sundays. I'm not mad about it. Tomorrow is a HUGE game for Tennessee. We play the Florida Gators. Probably our most rivaled and hated SEC football team. All in good fun though (unless we lose, ha!). This season thus far has been twice the fun, as I've adopted a second team to cheer for. Corey's alma mater, Clemson Tigers. Thankfully I am not venturing away from my favored orange AND lucky that he's not a fan of another SEC team. It has been fun cheering for them.

To kickoff the season and get Corey excited for the National Champ's new season, I wanted to put a fun gift together for him. I call it his "football bucket." I found this metal Clemson ice bucket on Amazon, and then filled it with his favorite things. A new Smathers & Branson belt, his favorite drink of choice and Clemson tumbler to drink it in, and some odds and ends from Swoozies and Country Club Prep. I had so much fun putting this together. It's an idea y'all can use for any occasion or holiday. You don't have to go quite as pricey with the items either. Just find a base (box, bucket, bag, etc.) and add his/her favorite things. A simple way to dress up any present.

He (and I) will be using some of these items this weekend as Clemson takes on Louisville. College Game Day will be there, so I'm sure our morning tomorrow will consist of coffee, breakfast and lots of ESPN.

Hope y'all have some fun weekend plans ahead! Before you go, checkout 10 links I'm loving. Happy Friday, friends!

  • I love anything fall, food included. Checkout these delicious fall apple recipes from Carly.
  • Getting all the fall feels from Sole Society's new arrivals. So many beautiful colors and styles.
  • I'm already counting down the days till Chip and Joanna's new line launches at Target. You better believe I'll be first in line to shop all the pieces. 
  • How amazing are these leopard-print pants?! I love the navy and black combo.
  • Nordstrom is launching a new store. One that won't have a single article of clothing in it. Read more on their newest venture, here
  • These floral print flats are perfect for fall! The print is almost identical to these that I shared with y'all last month. 
  • For my DC friends, I'm super excited for the newest Kendra Scott location to open in Georgetown. The soft opening is Saturday, September 30th. They'll have sips, sweets, and a free gift with purchase. Hope to see y'all there!
  • Definitely purchasing this top for my trip home to Tennessee next month. It would be perfect to wear to the football game vs. South Carolina. 
  • Thinking I need to add this embellished bag to my closet for fall. Love a good pop of emerald green!
  • How fun are these sneakers?! I am on such a sneaker kick lately (pun intended, ha!).

9.13.2017

FASTer Way To Fat Loss, 2.5 Week Update

Photo Via




Two and a half weeks y'all. Technically three and a half if you count "prep week." But for two+ solid weeks I have been committed to the FASTer Way to Fat Loss program.

I explained why I started the program, here. And as promised, I wanted to update y'all throughout the process. There have been a lot of wins over the past two weeks and I'm really proud of the progress I've made thus far. Let's discuss some of these wins:

  • I've stuck with the program. I've tried so many trendy things in the past. They just haven't stuck. I'd start a program, then a few days later I'd stop. Why? Because they weren't programs I could adopt long-term. Programs like Whole30 were too difficult, lacked a focus on exercise and weren't something I could continue every day. Two weeks may not seem like a lot to some of y'all, but for me it's a HUGE win. 
  • I've attempted the workouts. I've only missed three workouts of the past 2.5 weeks. There have been some that have been easy, and others that I couldn't complete. But, I've attempted them. And that's a huge win considering I've worked out maybe a total of 5 times over the past few years. 
  • I'm lifting weights; something I've never done before. 
  • I'm feeling the results. They say you won't see results till about week 4 or 5. But I already feel them. My stomach is NOT bloated and pants that were tight before, are now loose. I also feel a lot more rested and positive. I haven't felt like I was in a slump, as tired, or in a mood. I hope to also see these results soon. 
  • I have made better choices. I walked past the pumpkin spice flavored products at the store. I ignored the pumpkin spice cookies, doughnuts and muffins at Trader Joe's. I haven't had a single latte or PSL thus far. I passed on the free doughnut at Church. I have drank far less alcohol. I've tried gluten free options, gluten/dairy substitutes and focused on hitting my macros each day (50% carbs, 30% fat, 20% protein). I'd say this is my BIGGEST win. I love food more than anything. I'm a huge foodie. Especially this time of year. So I'm proud of myself for learning to say NO and focusing on trying healthier options.

These are just some of the wins over the past two weeks. I also can say that I haven't given up wine. I haven't given up cheese. I haven't given up chocolate. The key is... moderation. Using these foods as rewards for completing my hard workout, and limiting them to certain days. That brings us into the challenging aspects thus far. Some of those include:

  • The shorter eating window. The FAST part of FASTer is all about intermittent fasting. Which I explained here. Basically you are trying to shorten your eating window to 8 hours total for the day, allowing your body to feed off the "fat" during the remaining 16 hours. The longer your body is in a fasted state, the more calories you'll burn. Hence the point of this program. 
  • Not a fan of gluten free. I am not gluten free, medically. Nor will I ever choose to go gluten free. If anything, trying the gluten free products has made me appreciate gluten that much more. And how special it is that I can have it and not get sick. Before, I was eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Carb overload. Now, I use gluten as a reward and eat it in moderation. While I've found some gluten free items or substitutes that I like, most I have found to not be my favorite. 
  • Not eating all the things. I love everything about fall. From the pumpkin spice lattes to the pumpkin muffins, most of my fall diet consists of everything pumpkin. This season, I'm focusing on finding the healthier versions of my favorite seasonal treats and in moderation. I still enjoy the wine. I still enjoy junk food. But only on certain days and limiting the quantity. 
  • The workouts. That's pretty self explanatory. Some of them are easy, while most are challenging for me. I haven't been in the gym in years, so it is taking awhile for my body to adjust. 
  • Finding the balance of things. While I do pretty well during the week, I have found the weekends to be tough. Especially now that football season is upon us. When you go to a bar to watch the game, it can be hard to find healthy options. Or when I've gone to a baseball game straight from work, it has been difficult to find something healthy for dinner. 
  • My body hates me at times. My body isn't used to working out this much, eating far less carbs, or all the... fiber. I've never had this much fiber in my diet, ever. But I hope my body will adjust after the first few weeks, haha. 
  • Eating enough. That may come as a surprise to some of y'all. My allotted calories per day is 1620. I haven't even come close to that. Because of the shorter eating window, I find myself not eating enough. And a lot of healthy food options are low-cal. Like lettuce, veggies, etc. So while I feel "full," I'm learning to create higher calorie meals. That way I'm giving back to my body, after working it to death, ha.

All of these are the wins and challenges I've faced so far the past 2.5 weeks. I'm excited to see how these change over the next 3.5 weeks of the program. 

Would y'all be interested in seeing a post about the meals I've been eating? As well as some of the products I've found that I really like? Let me know in the comments below.

And before you go, don't forget to enter the $500 Nordstrom giveaway I shared on the blog last week. Enter using the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

9.06.2017

Hamptons Trip Recap



Dress: ASOS (old) | Sunglasses: Karen Walker | Earrings: Kendra Scott (c/o)
Elephant Bracelet: Julie Vos | Lip Shade: Bobbie Brown - Rose Brown
Photos by Allie Provost

A few weeks ago I trained up to New York City with Jenn to meet up with our friends Dana and Allie. Both are former Washingtonian's now living in Manhattan. Jenn and I don't get to see Dana or Allie nearly enough, so earlier this summer we planned a fun weekend for us to get together at Allie's Hamptons house. Jenn and I had never been before, so it made for the perfect place to celebrate our final days of summer.

We got into East Hampton late Thursday evening and headed straight to dinner at the EMP Summer House. Which was a dream. Eleven Madison Park is one of the hardest restaurants to get a reservation at in the city. This summer it closed down for updates, so they moved their staff out to the Hamptons for a restaurant pop-up. The food was amazing. I had probably the best peach cobbler I've ever had in my life there!

Friday wasn't the best weather, so we headed out for some shopping and a visit to Wolffer Estate Vineyard.



I've been dying to visit this winery ever since stumbling upon them on Instagram. They're best known for their "summer in a bottle." We did a wine flight, shared a charcuterie board and snapped a few photos before the rain hit. We finished off the day at Topping Rose House for dinner (which was incredible... and my favorite meal of the trip).

Saturday we woke up to a gorgeous summer day, so we headed out to get some outfit photos in. Our first stop was Lunch for delicious lobster rolls (my first time ever!!). Can't believe I had never tried one before, but I'm so glad I saved my first one for this place.







Dress: Brooks Brothers (old) | Sunglasses: Karen Walker | Necklace: Bauble Bar
Elephant Bracelet: Julie Vos | Lip Shade: Bobbie Brown - Rose Brown
Photos by Allie Provost

Next we headed to Montauk to visit the Summer House and Lighthouse. We opted to not pay for the entry fee to visit the lighthouse, and instead walked around the ocean side path. I'm so glad that we did because it was the best photo-op. I even got to take in the ocean for a bit while we took turns taking outfit pics with Allie.



After a long, but of course fun, day touring around and snapping photos, we headed back to the house for a casual dinner of New York style pizza (my fave) and some wine. We then headed to the Wolffer Estate Wine Stand to catch the sunset and of course, enjoy some more wine.



On our last day in the Hamptons we enjoyed a delicious diner breakfast in Montauk and stopped by the Beach Club to snap a few more photos. We then headed back to the house to enjoy the rest of the day relaxing by the pool. It was so nice to catch a few rays before our long train rides back to DC.



It was the most fun weekend and I'm already counting down the days till I can go back. I love that blogging brought me so many amazing friends. Allie was such a gem for hosting us, and it was so great seeing her and Dana!! Till next time.




8.28.2017

Faster Way to Fat Loss, Week 1



The first step to fixing an issue is admitting you have a problem, right?

I'll admit, over the past few years I haven't really taken care of my body. Let me preface by saying that I'm referring to my overall health and physical well-being. Living in a fast-paced city where most evenings consist of happy hours, receptions or eating out, hasn't helped. Combined with the fact that I rarely workout. Unless you count the walks to the metro, ha. I'd eat and drink whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and as much as I wanted. In my early twenties I could do this with little to no affect on my weight or how I felt. Now that my "late twenties" are slowly creeping in, things are a lot different. A few glasses of wine results in a two day hangover, I've noticed some new-to-me health issues, yes I've gained weight, and I feel tired and bloated daily. I just can't keep up the cycle of eating and drinking whatever I want and not take into account what I'm consuming or how many calories I'm taking in.

Now, let me also say that I don't eat horribly or over-drink. I maybe have a few drinks a week, and during the week I eat pretty well for the most part. I just haven't been consuming the right foods, as well as consuming too much of certain foods. For example, I may have a small sandwich with bread and cheese for lunch and then have pasta for dinner. TOO many carbs, gluten and dairy. Not enough protein, healthy fats and veggies.

To combat this I attempted to do Whole30 this past March. I lasted 5 days. Why? Because it focused too much on what you couldn't have, rather than what you could. It also had little to no emphasis on working out. It's a mutual relationship... maintaining a healthy diet and workout regimen. There were so many things that you couldn't eat, that that's all I focused on. It also wasn't a long-term lifestyle that I could adopt once the 30 days were over. Thus, I stopped it.

Since then I reverted back to my old ways. Till enough was enough. I physically wasn't feeling my best, was constantly feeling tired and bloated, and just wasn't happy with the path I was heading down. So I decided to do something about it. After seeing how much success Katie, Brooke and Shelby had with the FASTer Way to Fat Loss program, I was extremely inspired and signed up!

Today I start the 6 week journey!!

Last week was a "prep" week, so you may have seen a few snippets about what I was doing over on Insta Stories. I'm proud to say that I followed the food regimen 100%!!! I love that you get a week to really get a good understanding of the program, try out the food regimen, attempt some of the workouts, and ask your coach a lot of questions. That way when you start on day 1 you're not wasting your first week trying to figure it all out. When you sign-up for the program you're given a coach or you can sign-up through the coaches themselves. Each week your coach devises a series of workouts that follow different levels of food intake. Some days are low-carb days, others are regular or low calorie days, training day calories or active rest days (no workouts). For six weeks your coach keeps track of your daily food intake and exercise. You have someone there to hold you accountable, and tell you exactly what to do. As a former competitive swimmer this was something I desperately needed. A "coach."

I'll go more into depth about FASTer Way to Fat Loss as the weeks go on. I mainly wanted to share this post for two reasons. First, I'm going to need lots of encouragement and for y'all to hold me accountable. From what I hear this is a hard program, but the results are well worth it. Second, to share my experience over the next 6 weeks. This isn't sponsored. I'm not getting paid to do this. This is simply me trying to get my life in check, get back into a healthier eating and workout routine, and shed some of the "happy hour weight" from the past few years.

So, here I go!! Let me know if you have any initial questions about the program. I hope to check-in each week with an update on how I'm doing. As well as post frequent updates on Instagram. Again, to help with accountability. Wish me luck!

8.11.2017

The Weekender, Vol. 9



Above are some of my new Kendra Scott goodies. Shop each piece below.

Monday was girls night, and also the Bachelorette finale. My best friend Ashton and I watch every season together, and have since moving to DC. We live for our Monday nights! I will say though, things were different this season. We mostly talked through each episode, as this was probably our least favorite season. Why? Well, if the finale is any indication, you know why. I was so excited when they chose Rachel, but I felt like the producers focused more on the male drama than on her journey to find love. I was really rooting for Eric and Peter, but in the end it seemed like Rachel went more for the sure thing because she wanted a ring. That's how it appeared, but we don't really know. As long as she's happy, in love and excited about her journey, that's all that matters. Now that this season is over, we can all get ready for the real star of the summer... Bachelor in Paradise. Yessssss!!!

Tuesday I hit up a launch party with my friends Bekah and Molly at Union Market. One of our Church friends just opened up a new startup work space over there, so we stopped by to congratulate him and chow down on some delicious Mexican cuisine.

Wednesday Corey and I grilled out on my apartment rooftop and continued our binge watching of Game of Thrones. Yes, we finally caved. Last weekend we made it through the entire first season, plus 3 episodes into the second. So far, I love it! Yes it can be a bit gory and yes, the nudity is a bit too much, but the overall plot has us hooked. I can't wait to dive more into the seasons!!

Thursday I began my vacation prep by getting a gel mani and pedi. I also began packing for my trips to Seaside, Florida and the Hamptons.

I'll be in Seaside Saturday through next Wednesday, and will also be celebrating my 27th birthday there with my family and Corey!!! Wednesday we fly back, I repack and train up to NYC on Thursday with Jenn to meet Dana and Allie for a weekend in the Hamptons. I am beyond excited to see those ladies. We haven't all been together since February's Fashion Week.

If you have any must see's for my trips to Seaside and/or the Hamptons, let me know in the comments below!

And before you go, here are some links + things I'm loving. Enjoy, and happy weekend!!

  • I've been on a real sneaker kick for fall lately, and have been eyeing these and these to add to my closet. Both are under $75!
  • If you're in the DC area, Restaurant Week is next week. I'm sad to miss this year's, so y'all dine out for me. 
  • Just added this Barbour jacket to my coat closet and know I'll be wearing it all fall and winter.
  • Netflix released the trailer for The Crown Season 2 yesterday. Anyone else a fan?!
  • A dupe on the pearl slides for summer. They're only $25!
  • I'm on the hunt for a good makeup primer. I've tried MAC and ITCosmetics. But haven't been in love with either. Any suggestions you've tried and work well?
  • After a lot of consideration, educating myself and reading this post from Shelby and this post from Katie, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for the FASTer Way to Fat Loss program. I'm not doing it to lose weight per say, but to refocus my eating habits and get back into a workout routine that works for me. After a failed Whole30 experience, I'm hoping this program fits my lifestyle and body, well. 
  • In a few weeks I'm heading down to Richmond with Laura and Jenn. We're doing a media visit with the Jefferson Hotel. So excited! Any hot spots we must try out when we're there? Hoping to snag tickets to the YSL fashion exhibit. 
  • Your feel good story for the week.
  • And just for fun, some of my favorite blogs to follow are Pink Champagne Problems, Lonestar Southern, Glitter and Gingham and Gal Meets Glam. These are the four I follow daily and y'all should too :)

7.21.2017

The Weekender, Vol. 8



Well would you look at this...

a second (and new) post in one week! Who am I?!

This has been a rather slow week for me outside of the office, so time was available to get in a brand new The Weekender post. For those of you new here, or probably because it has been awhile, The Weekender is exactly how it sounds. A way to recap the week + share a few links/things I'm loving.

Monday I kicked off the week with a long overdue girls night with Jenn. We hit up the free Beyonce dance class down in Yards Park. Let's just say I don't have a future in dance, but Jenn might. The Yards Park offers many free workout, dance, zumba, yoga, etc. classes almost every night in the summer. You can find a full line-up of classes + outdoor activities, here. After learning the moves to the song Flawless, Jenn and I took our appetite over to Osteria Morini for dinner. We shared some rose, a charcutterie board, and each got a pasta entree. By far some of the best Italian food I've had in DC. If you're in the Yards Park area, I also highly recommend checking out the rose garden at Whaley's, snagging some delicious steak tacos at Agua 301 and then finishing your evening with a scoop or two of ice cream from Ice Cream Jubilee.

Tuesday night I met Corey for some wine and appetizers at Joe's Seafood, which is conveniently halfway between both of our offices. As a side note, they have one of the best happy hours (2:30pm-6:30pm). Half priced drinks and oysters + a ton of yummy snack options for less than $6! We then headed to dinner at a brand new sushi restaurant near McPherson Square, Sushi Gakyu. Y'all, this place may be new, but the sushi is some of the best I've ever had. It's a small place right off New York Avenue. The sushi is amazing and very affordable. The perfect quick lunch or after work dinner spot.

Wednesday and Thursday turned out to be a lot calmer of evenings. Mostly running errands, getting laundry done, and catching up on the DVR. #adulting

Tonight I'm meeting Corey for a quick bite to eat and then we're heading to the Air & Space Museum to see Dunkirk in iMax. I am obsessed with wartime movies, and Corey is a huge history buff. So this movie has been at the top of our list. Many have deemed this to be the best movie of the year!

This weekend we're keeping it chill with some pool time + grilling out tomorrow. And then Church on Sunday, followed by celebrating my dear friend Ashton's birthday with a yummy Mexican dinner.

Hope y'all have had a great week and have equally as exciting plans for the weekend. Before you go, here are some links I'm loving this week:

  • A Southerner's Guide to Biscuits. Maybe this guide will motivate me to finally learn how to bake them.
  • I just snagged these loafer slides for fall on major sale!! They also come in black and pale pink
  • One of my favorite bloggers and brand recently opened her flagship store in Atlanta. The pictures are so dreamy. Will for sure be a must stop next time I'm down South.
  • I've been dying to get these statement earrings in coral. Anyone own them? Are they super heavy?
  • Y'all know I love Chick-fil-A. I'd eat it for every meal if I could. Now the beloved brand is taking on KFC and trying to win our family meal hearts over. TBD if the mac-and-cheese is any good.
  • My loafer slide loving heart has been eyeing this floral number for a week. Yet they have never had my size. At least that I've seen. Come on Loft, help a sister out!
  • The one pool accessory that has been getting a ton of use this summer.
  • Since it's summer, what's better than a tomato slice and some fresh pimento cheese?! Checkout the Southerner's Guide to Pimento Cheese.
  • Your feel good story for the day. 

And don't forget the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is open to everyone now! Public Access starts today, and here's what I've got my eye on:





7.18.2017

Mid-Year Summer Update



Man y'all, what a whirlwind the past six months have been! It's so hard to believe that this year is half way over. Don't even get me started on those "time to prepare your holiday content" emails, ha. 

2017 has been a stark contrast to last year, as evident with the amount of blogging I've been doing this year. Last year I felt like I finally fell into a good rhythm, was motivated to push out new content, was starting to take on bigger campaigns, and growing as a blogger. Then, errrrkkkk... pump the brakes.

Life became a whirlwind in January. Blogging was constantly put on the back burner, mostly due to work. There was this thing that happened last November called an election. I work in politics. You see where I'm going with this, right?! ha There was zero free time for blogging.

Fast forward a few months and I started the job search. I finally felt it was time to move on from my (at the time) current role. I started doing informational interviews, meeting with a recruiter (more on that below), and exploring my options off the Hill (more on this below). Aside from work and the job search, I started dating someone the beginning of May. All this combined, life just became one massive balancing act.

To fully catch y'all up, I thought it would be good to give y'all a little (okay, huge) life update on work, dating, summer travels + more. Scroll on for more of what I've been up to:

New(ish) Apartment

I know, I know. I've been promising an apartment tour of my new place for a LONG time. My apologies. I'd love to share one with y'all very soon. I've been putting some finishing touches on it and am pretty excited with how it turned out. Really the only thing I am waiting on is a new (and fake) fig leaf tree. Next paycheck. I tried the live plant thing for awhile, but between forgetting to water it and not realizing I needed to re-pot it before bringing into my home, the poor thing died after a month. Oops. 



Summer Travel

One thing I'm really excited about for this summer is all the traveling. Aside from Key West, last summer was unusually quiet, travel wise. 

To kickoff this season, Corey (my boyfriend) and I headed down to Charlottesville for a quick getaway. We both needed a break from DC and used the excuse of my new job to do so. We visited Pippin Hill Farm (which has been on my bucket list for years) and it was everything I had dreamed of and more. We also enjoyed a nice dinner downtown at The Whiskey Jar and did a beer tasting at Three Notch'd Brewing Company. Sunday we ate at the highly recommended Bodo's Bagels. I can attest that both bagels I had lived up to the hype, ha. We then toured around the University of Virginia's campus, and headed to Monticello to tour the home of President Thomas Jefferson. The views from his "home on the hill" were well worth the visit alone.






For the 4th of July I headed to the Jersey Shore with Corey and his friends. There were 3 couples who went and we had an absolute blast hanging by the pool, visiting Seaside Heights, cooking out and eating more food in four days than I care to admit, ha. 




As for the rest of the summer, I've got some really exciting trips in the works. Next month I'm heading to Seaside, Florida for my family vacation, as well as visiting Dana and Allie in the Hamptons with Jenn. For September I'm possibly taking a trip down to Wilmington, NC for Labor Day Weekend. We shall see. And then October will bring me down South to East Tennessee, twice hopefully. One for a Mountain Weekend with friends and then for the South Carolina vs. Tennessee game. And finally, a late September girls getaway is in the works for Laura, Jenn and I, down to Richmond

So.much.travel (and fun) ahead!!

Work

I sort of gave you a brief rundown in this post's intro, as well as shared the news on Instagram a few weeks ago. 


For a little over 5 years I worked for one of my Tennessee Senators on Capitol Hill. I absolutely loved working for my home state and was so honored (still am) to be apart of an amazing group of staffers, supporting one of the country's brightest minds. 

After lots of reflection (probably a years worth), prayer and discussion with my family and friends, I decided it was time to move on and grow professionally. I did a few informational interviews to see what my options were, and ultimately met with a recruiter. I cannot recommend doing this enough. My recruiter was incredible and helped me every step of the way. I'd love to do a separate post about my experience if y'all are interested? I really think it's a beneficial resource that many people don't realize is available to them, and most of the time is at no cost to you! 

I'm excited and happy to say that I joined the Political Affairs team at the US Chamber of Commerce! Politics and supporting businesses have long been passions of mine. Both working in politics during the day, and supporting businesses through blogging by night. It is truly a dream come true to combine these two passions. I've been settling in well, and really enjoying this new chapter of my career (and life).




Relationship

Let's be honest, you probably skipped everything aforementioned and scrolled straight down to this update. Don't lie, ha. 

I finally gave into the process of God's timing and deleted all dating apps, as well as halted constant attempts to speed up His timing, ha. I instead focused on the job search, work, and other activities. 

Then toward the end of April, out of the blue a mutual friend texted me saying she had someone she wanted me to meet. I replied that I'm always down to meet new people (lol), anddddddd here we are! Things are obviously still new, but I'm happy to say that well, I'm happy. Very happy. He makes me smile, laugh constantly, reminds me of Chip Gaines, goes to Church with me and treats me far better than I deserve. I'm excited to see where God grows this relationship.

Blogging & Social Media

You're also probably wondering what the future holds for me blogging and social media wise. Right now it's hard to predict. The motivation + content is definitely there. But I'm really enjoying just being present in life right now. It's something I didn't do the best job of last year, so it was one of my goals for this year. Less time online and more time being in the present.

I do want to start introducing some new content here and there, especially with all the fun travels I have coming up. I'm also sure that content will pick back up as summer winds down. Fall through the holidays always offers up the best post ideas. 



Balancing Act

Basically reiterating everything I've mentioned, my biggest struggle this year has been balancing it all. For the first time I've missed things. Forgot birthdays. Arrived late to an event because I had the time wrong. Taken several days to text people back. Went two weeks straight without posting on Instagram. It happens. At first I felt guilty, but now I have learned to change my mindset. IT HAPPENS, that's okay. I've never had to juggle so many different things at once. It really has been a learning curve, as weird as that is to say at my age. This happens for most people far before they're 26. I'm just a little delayed, so hopefully everyone will cut me some slack and understand :) 

Hopefully things will be back on track soon.

Summer Purchases

Now to leave y'all with something fun. Scroll through to shop some of my summer faves + items I've purchased recently. 



And don't forget the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale that's going on this week and next! Shop some of my must have pieces below: