Monthly Archives: August 2011

Back Bay Bachelorette

Turns out the best way to travel with a fascinator is to put it in a Target bag. (Another quill in the Target quiver…) And the best place for a bachelorette to wear one is Lolita’s Cocina + Tequila Bar. Located in the Back Bay, I would describe this place as Scarface meets Goth Chic. It also revealed a surprise of the trip… in Boston there is more Sangria than water.

Me, Haley, and Cass at Lolita's

The meal highlight for me though was dessert… sour apple cotton candy with watermelon Pop Rocks. Done.

I need more of this in my life...

We went back to the Back Bay on Saturday for a day of shopping and strolling on my new favorite street… Newbury Street. The sidewalks are generous, the outdoor patios are full, and the shops are a mix of stores you know and unique boutiques.

Newbury Street

My favorite shop of the day… Pinky Otto.  I initially was creeped out by the teddy bear heads on the mannequins, but inside, one-of-a-kind dresses in perfectly vintage patterns.

This is NOT Build-a-Bear

When we weren’t in the Back Bay, I felt like I was in a Ben Affleck or Mark Wahlberg movie. Haley + Brandon own an adorable condo in Southie… the location for movies like The Town, Mystic River, and The Fighter.

The Flower Shop in the Town

The last day we went Ivy League and headed down to Harvard Square. Cass an I played the part, but Haley is the real deal… she moved to Bawstin originally to get her masters at MIT.

THE Three at Upstairs on the Square

Counting the days until October 15, for us to be together again…

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Have Fascinator Will Travel

Warning: Haley Heard is NOT to read this post until 2:00pm EDT, August 19th, 2011

Some would say that I looked forward to the royal wedding. I won’t deny it. In fact, my HOK bestie, Abbey Roberson, and I had planned to travel to London for the big event. (We hadn’t traveled to London together since 2006, and were ready to show our favorite pub, the George, how much we had matured.) For some reason the Cambridges neglected to check my calendar when picking the big date. I had a commitment that I could not get out of… Abbey graciously agreed to fly to Atlanta so we could at least watch the big day together on TV.

Wills + Kate

Wills + Kate

Not being in London was not going to stop us from acting like we were there. The night before the big day we made fascinators for the occasion.

The Final Fascinator Product

Never did I imagine that I would be making a fascinator again, but tomorrow I head to Boston for Haley’s bachelorette. What better accessory to let people know she is the bride to be than a hand-crafted fascinator. Now for the dilemma… how in the ‘bleep’ am I supposed to travel with this thing? I can’t check it. I don’t know that I can put it in a bag at all. It will likely need to sit in my lap. If I was a proper Brit, I’m sure I’d have a hat box for just this reason.

Haley's Celebratory Headpiece

I will  lend my expert fascinator packing advice when I return. What can I say, I like to share practical travel tips…

Photo credit: Pic of Wills + Kate from The Sun

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Will Hula Hoop for Drinks

Since Danimal and I began dating, we have been to Birmingham numerous times… his loving and adorable grandparents, Gramma Jeanne + Papa John, live there. However, it was just two years ago, when I began traveling to Birmingham for work, that I began to really experience the city. When Herman (my main partner in crime in Alabama) and I were there in February, I experienced my new favorite SPG hotel property… Aloft. (SPG is one of my FAVORITE hotel families because they have the BEST rewards program.) We walked into the lobby and during check-in discovered that if we could hula hoop for five seconds you got a free drink at the bar. Thankfully, Herman did NOT photograph my performance, but I did get a free drink.

 

Aloft Birmingham Bar

 

How could I not? I’ve been training for this precise moment since 4th grade. During P.E., about once a six weeks, we had hula hoop wars as the activity. We each began with a hula hoop, and the goal was to be the last man standing. And there was no one better than Chris Sweet. Chris was one of the best “chicken scratchers”. (Chicken Scratch is essentially hula hooping at warp speed.) The video below is a great depiction of the hula hoop war contest. If you fast forward fifty-five seconds in, the “battle” really begins.

But, I digress… not only was the bar hip, the whole hotel was. The elevator was hypercolor, another throw back to fourth grade. Before arriving that night Herman and I also got to spend some time at the H Bar, a new jazz bar in Five Points. And as luck would have it, the Kelley O’Neal Band and Top Shelf were playing.  

the H Bar

If you find yourself in Birmingham, stay at Aloft, go eat at Pepper Place, and then head on over to Harlem Bar. Go ahead and start practicing your hula hooping now…

 

 

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What A Difference A Week Makes. Sort of…

It is hard to believe that a month ago, I was in the middle of the crazy speaking gig on the other side of the ocean. When I boarded the plane in Dubai to return, I was pretty confident I was leaving behind 110 degree weather (with the bonus of humidity), the dodging of poisonous snakes, and the exploring of beautiful nature reserves.

Me + The Snapping Turtle... do NOT pet!

Turns out last Tuesday, all of these elements returned in full force during a trip through the Tupelo Swamp of Montgomery, Alabama. This time instead of being covered for cultural purposes, I was in hip waders to navigate through the muddy swamps. Instead of looking out for black mambas, I was side-by-side with water moccasins. (I should mention that I HATE snakes… even more than condiments.) And, instead of a tropical rainforest, the Tupelo swamp was a gorgeous mix of trees and vegetation that grows in the Black Belt of Alabama.

We look as good as we smell.

Cypress Nature Park is a unique new park that we are working on that will turn this 247 acre swamp + nature preserve into a nature park for the City of Montgomery. The wildest part about it is that we are roughly half a mile from the heart of downtown. During this whole excursion my iPhone worked the entire time; yet, you feel like you are a world away.

In the heart of the swamp

You also have to challenge what you think of when you define park for yourself… we aren’t talking about ball fields and playgrounds. We are talking about an education center and preserved natural habitat with trails traversing it. Basically, gorgeous.

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swEATING Our Way Through Charleston

This past Friday I headed over to the Holy City to meet Danimal for a weekend of eating our way through Charleston. Charleston is one of my favorite US cities for its walkability, rich history, art galleries, and the way it honors the tradition of Southern food.

Marion Square's Saturday Market

I arrived MUCH later than expected thanks to what was described by *511 as ‘congestion’ in the middle of nowhere. But, sensing my need for food to avoid destroying people, we quickly departed for O-Ku. O-Ku is NOT southern food… its sushi. However, the atmosphere and patrons were quintessentially Southern. I would call the dress code of this place Sophisticated Fratty. Danger – Popped Collars Ahead.

Browsing the Jewelry

We got an early start Saturday morning at the farmer’s and art market in Marion Square. I suggest grabbing breakfast at the market and then taking time to explore the booths. We met an incredible carpenter + craftsman, Capers L. Cauthen of Landrum Tables. (I know… Most. Southern. Name. Ever.) I want this guy to make me a house full of furniture.

College of Charleston

Dan then went on a walk down memory lane through College of Charleston, before we headed over to Jestine’s Kitchen. (In Dan’s perfect world, we live in Charleston.) Now, Jestine’s Kitchen is a Charleston institution. Just getting a table is a production. You wait in a line outside that boasts fans + water stations to keep you comfortable. We made it in, ordered, and the goodness began to arrive. I have HIGH standards for fried okra, and this okra blew my mind. The combination of flavoring, crispness, and amount of breading were just to my liking.

Garden on Queen Street

After Jestine’s we walked over to Queen Street. Queen Street is my favorite in all of Charleston. It is a main drag, but has a more intimate feel because of the combination of galleries, restaurants, and residences. We wandered into a new-to-us gallery, Robert Lange Studios, and I fell in love. The artwork and artists are incredibly soulful.

Me: Dan, we need a bigger house so we can have more walls for this artwork.

Dan: (Eye Roll, followed by silence…)

Cocktails @ Husk

Dinner that evening consisted of drinks at Husk and dinner at 82 Queen. Husk is a fairly new restaurant to Charleston, and we went for drinks at their bar. The cocktails were inventive… combinations of sweet (like blackberries) and spice (like blackpepper) filled the menu. I had been to 82 Queen before and the grits were just as creamy as last time… that is a good thing.

Virginia's on King

Our progressive feast ended this morning with brunch at Virginia’s on King. I don’t really need to expand on this place. The picture of this okra says it all. My one bit of advice would be this, while the omelette had ideal fluffiness, stick with the traditional southern dishes. You’ll be glad you did when you are back home and fluffy omelettes fill the menus there as well.

The only thing I don’t recommend about this little mini-excursion is August. The heat + humidity were fierce, and for brief moments felt like I was back in Dubai. Otherwise, rinse + repeat… especially Husk.

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The Tatas Take West Palm

The last several posts have been about the glory of travel, but today’s is about basking in the glow of vacation. The Tatas (group nickname coined on our final Spring Break to Acapulco) are my wonderful girlfriends from college, and this time we took over the Four Seasons in Palm Beach. The occasion… to start our third decade off right. The trip was originally supposed to take place in Puerto Rick this past January, but queue freak snow storm in Texas that canceled 90% of the tatas flights. So, Take 2… June… West Palm Beach.

West Palm Beach

When looking to do absolutely nothing for yourself on vacation, run… don’t walk… to the nearest Four Seasons. And, most importantly, make sure Jason is working so he can bring you blackberry mojitos. All.After.Noon.

All in a days work...

The days consisted of making very important decisions such as what time to move from the beach to the pool and how often to flip. We have clearly matured since Acapulco though… all but one of us now wears double-digit SPF… high double-digit SPF.

We can even still do the sorority photo pose. Please note my general excitement about being on the back row of this photo.

The last night of our trip we ate at my favorite restaurant for all of 2011 so far, Buccan. It is in the adorable (and crazy fancy) portion of Palm Beach down the street from Saks, Neiman’s, and every other expensive store you have ever heard about. The menu changes weekly so I can’t make any recommendations there, but I will say they have an extensive wine list and the tea cocktail is a must order.

Four Seasons = Glorious

This trip made me wish that everyone could have a group of girlfriends like the tatas. You know… people who know so much about you that they could destroy you, but choose to love you instead. This trip also taught me that EVERYONE who has an iPhone needs to have the prank dial app. Talk about a game changer.

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