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road trip RECAP

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I consider myself an expert Yelper, not because of the reviews I leave (truthfully, I don't post many) but because of my ability to weed through the BS and find the best possible restaurants in any location. To be honest, I'd be more uncomfortable without Yelp while traveling than my map app. I'm not sure what that says about me/my priorities, but oh well that's life. 

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On my road trip, I found tons of amazing restaurants, workout studios, and activities, courtesy of Yelp and a few particularly helpful travel blogs. I thought I'd share a little road trip recap here, because Charleston is my favorite, Richmond is surprisingly awesome, and St. Augustine was on the Bachelorette this season so now EVERYONE will be going there. You're welcome for the travel forecast. 

RICHMOND

Hot Yoga Barre- This actually might be my favorite workout studio to date. It's a gorgeous space, with brick abound and string lights scattered about. Their merchandise wall is lined with S'well bottles (as if I needed another reason to fall in love), and their staff is incredibly friendly. I was running a little behind, and they were extremely patient with me, which definitely isn't always the case. The class itself was SO wonderful- hot and sweaty, with an invigorating combination of true yoga, true barre, and cardio intervals. After two days sitting in a car, HYB was the perfect choice. If I end up going to William and Mary for grad school (which is a super real possibility btw), I'll be making the drive into Richmond often just for this studio! 

Ellwood Thompson's- The selection at this healthy, local grocery store was more expansive than Yelp let on. They had a wide variety of vegan snacks, paleo jerky for Paul, dairy-free ice cream (I ALWAYS check to see if a grocery store carries solid vegan ice creams, even when I can't buy them), and drool-worthy bakery items. Everything a girl could ask for, right? I was a little disappointed by the juice bar- fairly boring smoothies and subpar taste. BUT... still an amazing grocery store. And they have ginger shots! 

CHARLESTON (AKA I have an eating problem) 

Edmund's Oast- Coolest brunch place in Charleston. They have 41 beers on draft, and they make many of their own beers in-house, so if you like a brew with brunch, you'll be beyond pleased. But for those who don't like beer (=me), the food will more than make up for any alcohol envy. Our table's favorites were the pickled shrimp (just trust me), the cornbread with honey butter, and, for a lighter option, the summer fruits. 

 
 

 Mira Winery Tasting Room- Mira's wine tasting  was easily the best I've ever experienced- hefty pours, great explanations of the wines, and true quality from start to finish. Sorry Arrington, but I'm a Mira convert. Their RosΓ© of Syrah is top notch (even the men on the trip loved it), and their Chardonnay is wonderfully oaky. Don't even get me started on their actual Syrah... 

The Ordinary- This trendy seafood restaurant was one of my favorites in Charleston. I only wish I'd had one less cocktail at Prohibition so I could have taken a good picture! Their shellfish tower was a great choice for a party of four, but we equally enjoyed the snapper ceviche and the buratta with grilled peaches and cherry tomatoes. Would 100% come back, probably just for the shellfish, though- I don't think I could afford much more on my student budget. 

Bakehouse Charleston- Their lattes doe. I got a couple while I was in town, but my favorite was probably the cinnamon bun, with s'mores coming in a close second. They offer non-dairy milk as an option, which was awesome for my lactose-sensitive tummy. My family is also very snobby when it comes to key lime pie, but the slice we got from Bakehouse exceeded expectations. The crust was thick, and the pie itself had the perfect level of tartness. I wish Tampa had a place like this! 

Shopping on King Street- I love to shop. So it's not a surprise that I spent the majority of my non-eating time walking around and exploring the amazing shops in Charleston. I got to create my own charm bracelet at Moon & Lola, an adorable store that has a vibe similar to that of ban.do. I got to sample different flavors of honey, from whipped cinnamon to lavender, at Savannah Bee Company. And best of all, I got to smell countless candles and pick my perfect scent at the candle library at Candlefish. Next time I come to Charleston, I'm totally taking a candle making lesson! 

Huriyali Gardens- Finally, a juice bar. I found this place on my last day, and while it's in the sketchiest neighborhood ever, it's worth the drive. I got the green bowl, which was super filling and delicious. But I couldn't stop myself from sipping my mom's choco-brew smoothie, which had cold brew, cacao, chocolate, banana, and dates. NOMZ. Only other downside- long wait times. So don't come here if you're in a hurry! 

John Rutledge House Inn- Where we stayed while in Charleston, and where I will probably stay every time I come back. The location was very centralized, and the staff was almost alarmingly competent. We were treated like individuals, and every person we came into contact with went out of their way to make our stay better. Plus, the rooms were gorgeous, and they were dog friendly, which I needed for little Milo! 

Hall's Chophouse- I have never had a better dinner experience than the one I had at Hall's. The owners greet you at the door with hugs and smiles, and they treat you like royalty, from start to finish. We got complimentary champagne, because it was my parents' anniversary. Plus, the steaks.... and the lobster mac and cheese......... They even sent me a postcard in the mail, hand-written, thanking me for coming by. If you have a special occasion to celebrate in Charleston, CELEBRATE IT HERE. 

Other places I'd recommend... 
Poogan's Porch (quality Southern food), Bin 152 (amazing wine selection, perfect for a snack/drink before dinner), The Darling (amazing oysters, fun cocktails, great atmosphere), Carmella's (dessert bar from heaven), The Grocery (small plates, slightly healthier/more vegetarian-friendly than other places), Prohibition (swing dancing lessons with a 20's style ambiance and great food/cocktails), The Gin Joint (AMAZING cocktails, fantastic place to go post-dinner) 

ST. AUGUSTINE

Whetstone Chocolates- Cool chocolate shop in St. Augustine that also serves as an activity- they do tours of their factory! We didn't have time to do a tour, but I loved walking around the gift shop. Paul surprised me with a selection of truffles and a sign that says "Actually, chocolate does taste as good as skinny feels." It is displayed prominently in our kitchen! 

Likit- The fact that Dole Whip exists in St. Augustine says enough. This dairy-free soft serve is basically impossible to find, so you can best believe I freaked out when I saw it. And it didn't disappoint, because duh, it's Dole Whip.  

The Kookaburra- Super cute coffee shop with Australian flair. We fell in love with their Aussie Pies, and the Honey Badger coffee drink blew my mind. Of course, I like my coffee sweet, so don't go for their flavored beverages if you prefer yours black. They also offer dairy-free milk! 

The Floridian- Our first dinner in Florida as Florida residents obviously had to be at The Floridian. We loved their healthy dinner options- even their drinks were on the healthy side! I got the Southern Belle Salad, and I would probably get it weekly if I lived by this restaurant. Can't beat shrimp, sweet potatoes, peaches, and pecans!  

Other things to see:
Castillo de San Marcos (don't bother going inside, it's $$ and the outside is just as cool),  Basilica Cathedral (super old Catholic church, amazing architecture and stained glass), Anastasia Island (because it's my name and also because it's beautiful), Flagler College (gorgeous college campus) 

moving SUCKS. here's why

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Me, before move #1 (May 2015): OMG I'M SO EXCITED L.A. WILL BE EVERYTHING I'VE EVER WANTED!!! LITERALLY NOTHING COULD GO WRONG!!! 

Me, before move #2 (September 2015): I just can't wait to move back to Nashville and start my new job and move into my new condo! Seriously, bury me in Twelve Twelve, because I'm never leaving!!! 

Me, before move #3 (June 2016): Well... here goes nothing. 

It's no secret at this point- I'm sick of moving. I thrive on routine, and when I'm forced to change everything and live out of a suitcase, I get thrown majorly out of whack. Plus, there's the whole omg-what-if-I-made-the-wrong-choice anxiety that graces me with its presence at least once a day. In case any of y'all are about to move, whether you're changing cities or changing states, here are some issues to prepare for, along with some coping strategies that might help: 

Issue #1- Does Publix have a rewards program? 
In other words, most of my money recently has been spent on alcohol and food. I have a stress eating problem, okay??? Plus, living on the road for two weeks meant limited access to green smoothie breakfasts and homemade vegan dinners. Thank God for yoga pants.
How to cope: Yelp. While on the road, I used Yelp to find healthy restaurants and juice bars so I could confirm that at least one meal a day would be healthy. I also used Yelp to find workout studios, which gave me an excuse to get my sweat on and afford myself some personal time.  

One of my fave workout stops along the way- hot yoga barre in Richmond! 

One of my fave workout stops along the way- hot yoga barre in Richmond! 

Issue #2- Why is everyone so ANNOYING?
If I don't consistently make time for myself, I will inevitably become a raging bitch to everyone around me. My family, friends, and the people at Brighthouse can attest to this fact. Sorry guys. 
How to cope: Good communication and a lot of apologizing. Contrary to popular belief, being a bitch doesn't make you a bitch. As long as I recognized that I was acting out of line, I was able to maintain my relationships through apologies and good deeds. But pro tip, while I'm at it? Make time for yourself so you don't have to get to the apology stage. I recommend exercise, because happy people don't kill their husbands duhhh. 

Issue #3- The nostalgia is real. 
I miss Nashville... a lot. It was my home for almost five years, and I hate how out-of-place I've felt since leaving. I worry that I'll never find a home base like it again. Plus, I really miss my cowboy boots. 
How to cope: A lil dose of reality. When I first moved to Nashville, I hated it. Even after five years there, I still hated the winters and the traffic and the lack of ocean access. The grass ALWAYS looks greener, no matter where you move, and I've found that making a list with a place's downsides can really help when you're feeling nostalgic. This same strategy works when coping with a break-up. Just sayin. 

Issue #4- I'm lonely af. 
Even though I moved here with Paul and live by family, I've still found it difficult to be in a place without pre-established female friendships. I've dabbled in the world of Bumble BFF, but it can feel like Tinder sometimes which is awk. And is there really any way to make friends at the gym or the grocery store without seeming like a lesbian? 
How to cope: Get outside. I'm an introvert, and even I get sick of being by myself after a while. I've learned to really appreciate a nice walk outside or a quick jaunt to the mall. Surrounding yourself with people, even when you're not hanging out with them, can be super helpful for curing loneliness. 

Issue #5- Seriously though... what if I shouldn't have moved? 
This will inevitably come up as you adjust to a new location. Maybe you'll hit really bad traffic and miss the days where knew where the eff you were going. Or maybe you'll just find yourself missing your favorite restaurant/juice bar/fitness studio. It's natural to feel nostalgic and it's natural to wonder if you made the wrong choice. But unless you're legitimately miserable (ie. depressed 7/7 days a week), you might want to try sticking it out. As I mentioned before, it's helpful to write down the things you didn't like about your past home, but it's even more helpful to write down things you love about your new home. Basically, pro-con lists are the secret to life. 

 
 

There you have it, folks! Hopefully you'll learn from my moving mistakes. And if not... at least pick some good wine for your drunken pathetic nights alone. I recommend Slow Press Chardonnay. 

i'm moving to FLORIDA!!!

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So I'm officially moving to Florida... in less than a week!!!! 

Though this will be my third move in a year, I'm feeling surprisingly calm about it. Florida is my home- it's the place I feel most comfortable, even after five years in Nashville. I'm ready to move back to my happy place, especially because I'll be moving with a pretty special someone to a city that is fairly new to me: Tampa. I'll be starting classes at the University of Tampa to prepare me for graduate school, and I'm hoping to volunteer at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay to help me get experience dealing with mental health. Soooooo excited to be busy again! 

 
 
 
 

I'm also pretty pumped to Floridify (yup just made that up) this blog a bit in the upcoming weeks and months. It will be exciting to share my experiences in a brand new city, and I hope that I'll be able to provide fresh and fun lifestyle content to my readers. Think: apartment tours, city recommendations, travel tips, etc. And of course, I'll be focusing on how to stay balanced and healthy despite a massive amount of upheaval/change. Not to curse myself, but I'm quite positive that it's possible :) 

Anyways, that's the update- stay tuned for some road trip posts, because in T-minus four days, I'll be hitting the highways! 

the DRY HOUSE

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When I first started applying to jobs in Nashville, after living in LA for the summer, I was offered an interview at a company called Peridot.  The job ended up being HORRIBLE, like door-to-door sales horrible, but I had an amazing experience before the interview that completely made up for it. I got my hair done at The Dry House in Green Hills, and it was sheer perfection. Here's why. 

 
 

Coming from LA, I wasn't expecting to find another great blowout bar. There's a reason Drybar is so famous- they do a great job with blowouts, and I always left feeling polished and professional. However, there's one thing missing from Drybar that The Dry House has in spades- Southern charm. When I walked in, I was welcomed like a long-lost friend. And when I told them I wanted to feature them on my blog, they were incredibly gracious and excited about the opportunity, which was nice to see as a fledgeling blogger. Just based on walk-in appeal, The Dry House was already blowing Drybar out of the water. 

 
 

After taking my before picture with this super-fancy selfie light (yes such a thing exists and it's amazing), I began the actual blow-out process with my stylist, Katy Minton. If you end up going to The Dry House after reading this review, book your appointment with her because she's the best. She's incredibly sweet and talkative without being annoying- by the end of my appointment, I felt like we were best friends. Plus, she did an AMAZING job with my hair. I walked in feeling disgusting and left feeling beautiful and empowered, which was more than I could ask for! She also really seemed to care about my hair, which sometimes doesn't happen at blowout bars, especially those that charge extra for using hot tools (Babe Beauty Bar, I'm looking at you).

You can see how great my blowout was from my before and after pictures, but what really sets The Dry House apart is their ambiance and attitude. You will feel special and cared for at this salon, and beyond that, your hair will look more polished than you've ever seen it. So book your appointment HERE, and for more details, check out their stats below! 

Name: The Dry House
Location: Green Hills, on Crestmoor
Services: blowouts, styling, braids, makeup application
Price: $40 + tip for blowouts
Parking: free, in the small lot in front
Other: book your appointment with Katy for a truly great experience! 

finding PEACE in the mountains

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Not too long ago, I surprised my boyfriend with a trip to the Smokies. He's a huge nature person, as am I, so we were excited to get out of Nashville for a weekend and experience what the outside world has to offer. 

 
 

The drive to and fro is approximately three and a half hours, which can easily turn into four if you like to stop as much as I do. I have a really hard time sitting still, as well as an irrational fear of running out of food- this means lots of stops at gas stations, mini marts, and fast food restaurants. Hey, at least we didn't go hungry! 

We decided to stay in an Airbnb, which we LOVED. The one we found was super cheap, close to the mountains, and very cozy/cute if you're looking for an authentic cabin-in-the-woods experience. Our host was extremely hospitable and helped us navigate our surroundings like pros. We even got discounted massages at the end of our stay! 

Here's a little run through of our weekend, as well as some input on what I would recommend if you're planning a trip to the Smokies! 

Day One

HIKE: Hiking in the Smokies is the best, even in the winter. We found a really random path for our first hike, but there are infinite possibilities within the park. Just drive until you find something! We ended up climbing up a hill off the beaten path to see the top of a very tiny waterfall. Being that it was early and we were both ravenous, the climb could have gone better. But oh well, it was fun! 

 
 

GRANDMOTHER'S KITCHEN: I highly recommend this spot for breakfast if you're looking for a place where all the locals go. I enjoyed a delicious omelet, but the star of the meal was the chicken fried steak with biscuits and gravy. It is truly not for the faint of heart. Note: this restaurant is cash only! 

 
 

CADES COVE LOOP ROAD: This is where we had an up close and personal encounter with deer. And when I say close, I mean within feet- I was RIGHT THERE. It was a true dream come true, and I strongly believe that it was the most magical moment of my life. The drive itself was really scenic, especially as we were going along the river. You get great views of the mountains as well!

PICNIC: We happened upon the most amazing picnic spot on the river as we were driving. I don't want to reveal its exact location, because I want to keep it a secret! But there are plenty of beautiful spots along the river to eat, and I couldn't recommend the picnic plan enough. We got some food from the general store, crossed the river (I got soaked in the process- Paul did not), and parked our butts on a beautiful rock. It was heavenly. 

 
 

GATLINBURG: Gatlinburg is more touristy than I can put into words. I don't think either of us were expecting what we found when we pulled in. However, they have a great spot for mini golf, and I happened to love the Old Smokey Moonshine Distillery, where they offered free moonshine tastings. I got a cool shirt out of the experience, as well as some apple pie moonshine, which we enjoyed that night with our takeout Mellow Mushroom pizza. Note to travelers: don't plan a fancy dinner out after your day in the Smokies. Trust me- you'll want to relax! 

Day Two

Honestly, this day was pretty boring, and the place we went to for breakfast was meh. All I will say is that I highly recommend getting in touch with your creative side while you're in the mountains. I was able to write for the first time in months, which gave me the inspiration to get back into blogging. And we both read all morning sitting on our porch and gazing out at the mountains. It was as heavenly as it sounds- that is, if you like to read. 

It's safe to say that this was one of the better vacations of my life. I can't wait to go back in the summer! :)