Destination | Los Cabos, Mexico

Los Cabos, Mexico truly is an exquisite destination. Mexico has an interesting rep at the moment, but then again so do so many other countries at the present time. However, that doesn’t change any of the charm that this hot (pun intended) spot has to offer. From the stunning sapphire Sea of Cortez to the rock formations in the water which our Mexican boat guide referred to as “la bruja” and the tales of the Playa del Amor behind it there is so much natural beauty.

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What was interesting is you could clearly see the difference in the chic, luxury area that Los Cabos has created to attract tourist and then also the authentic Mexican side of town with cobble streets, tequila bars (um strawberry tequila anyone? or how about 100 year aged tequila?) street fair, and the likes of these vibes.

Of course a ton of water activities from boating, jet skiing, deep sea fishing and cruising around from the marina to the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. You’ll definitely see plenty of wild life including sea lions like Poncho below. He was a big fella, he and many other sea lions follow the boats in hope to either be thrown a fish or to steal your fish… So sneaky, yet so cute!

Los Cabos, Mexico

Fabulous food and drinks. Margaritas & Pina Coladas galore. But I would say the food highlight of my trip was corn cheesecake from a restaurant on the beach. It sounds so odd, but it was so delicious and so on point. I wish I still had more photos from this trip, but unfortunately most went down with the stolen iPhone.

Another cool point is this serves as a party destination as well as a relaxing destination. I can’t wait to be back on this beach lounging in my floppy hat and sun shades. Hasta luego Los Cabos!

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Wine of the World | Norton Grape | A Gem of Virginia

When I visited vineyards in Virginia a few months back I had never heard of the Norton grape… and to my surprise I loved it! This grape “roots” far back into Virginia’s history all the way back to Colonial times. It was named the “best red wine of all nations” at the Vienna (love Vienna!) World’s Fair of 1873, and has since received other notable recognitions.

There is debate as to whether this is a native American grape or if it is derived from the vitis vinifera grape, both of which are plausible- but whatever side of the fence you stand by, it’s still an outstanding choice. Missouri claims it as it’s state grape, but it’s also very popular in Virginia.. so what makes this grape so spectacular?

These dark- skinned small berries produce both a good color and tannin level. These age-worthy wines have rich, fruity aromas and flavors. One of my favorite tasting notes is that you can really taste the cherry notes in them, and hey with Valentine’s day right around the corner it’s the perfect wine to pair with red meat, duck, brie or Andre cheese or a wild mushroom flatbread … or if you’re single to get wine girl wasted with.. yep, I said it.

Another really fun thing to note is Riedel actually makes wine glasses specifically for Norton wines. Check out some of the of the options here, my favorite style is the Vinum or Vinum XL glass.

Two fabulous vineyards I loved in Virginia with Norton grapes are the Paradise Springs Winery and Bull Run Winery- both not too far from DC. Excuse my poor iPhone photography, apparently I was enjoying the company, scenery & good wine too much to care to document properly.

PARADISE SPRINGS WINERY

Paradise Springs Winery VA Norton

This was our first stop, the vineyards to the right of the winery are so pretty and the sunset just exemplified it perfectly. Being born & raised in Florida, I was obsessed with the trees showing the change of seasons with all the red leaves; so the outdoor seating was right up my alley. Walking inside, there is a huge barrel room on display and lots of warm lounge seating with nice vibes. The tasting was a great experience as well, and the employees were very knowledgeable about the wines, grapes & pairings. Overall this was a great winery! If I lived in DC or VA I would definitely frequent this place often and not leave empty handed. One thing I would say is to definitely bring your own food here! There were some food options, but not substantial enough to help you make it through a day of solid tastings. For more information about Paradise Springs Winery click here!

BULL RUN WINERY

Bull Run Winery VA Norton

This was out last stop, and equally great of an experience. You can hardly tell, but if you look closely at the middle picture there is outside seating with string lights- SO cute! This place would be perfect for a wedding or rehearsal dinner. This winery had great selections, and I especially loved the Viognier (as of 2011 named the signature grape of Virginia). Another one to add to the must try list is their Classic Blueberry dessert wine, it’s unique and so delicious. They also had a really cute selection of merchandise- I could have easily bought everything they had for sale. Another A+ stop for wine in Virginia. For more information about Bull Run Winery click here!

A twenty-something’s ode to 2014

Three weeks into 2014, and a few days out from my birthday here I am posting the “New Year” post; but not the typical one of course.

I had no intentions of making any resolutions for this year, because in my eyes- shouldn’t you try to be better all year? I feel like if there is something I need to do or change to be better… uh just do it.

So much content all over the maps about 2014, what you should be doing with your life, viewpoints on marriage divorce, success, and how you should live your life in your twenties. Don’t get me wrong I’m not an ignorant, hard-headed person I do read these things- sometimes I say “okay, good point” and others “wow, what a load of garbage.”

Articles, blog posts and statuses of this kind are in no type of shortage. Hey, I get it-  it’s only natural to reflect & wander about past moments, memories & milestones in your life; and I couldn’t help but do the same. I didn’t realize just how much had happened in the last year and how much I had grown & changed. I mean like really, all of that happened in 365 days? And so here is my ode from 2013 to 2014:

Love & alcohol. Two things people of all ages never seem to learn from their mistakes about.

Love. Is a wild ride. You just know when its right and you shouldn’t settle for anything less.

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Kindness. You can never regret showing kindness to someone. Sometimes the smallest kind gesture can change someone’s life.

Friends. A lot of TV series & movies have that token group of friends from all background, lifestyles & personality types and somehow they are the best of friends and venture through life’s mysteries together. I’ve realized this is exactly how my life is, and I’m SO thankful and incredibly blessed to have my friends. I seriously have the best friends in life, and I wouldn’t change any of their quirks. Days are short, choose wisely who you’ll spend your time with.

My life as a sitcom. There have been a myriad of times where I’ve thought man my life should be televised. I mean seriously, some of the things that happen to me, ONLY happen to me. I’ve had more than one person bug me to make a blog about the ridiculous and hilarious (not always initially but looking back absolutely) situations I find myself in. The good news is- my life is awesome, and I get to keep my dignity in only sharing those moments with my friends- not the world.

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Happiness. You are responsible for your own happiness. Nobody can create it for you or take it from you. If something is making you unhappy, change it and quickly. Sometimes that means saying goodbye to someone or changing cities, but in the end it will be worth it.

Staying on track. It’s amazing how when you do the things you are suppose to, life really is easier. At the moment it may feel okay to take the “not right” route, but the aftermath just isn’t worth it. And when you’re on track & headed in the right direction, you look back and think ‘wow, I’m so much better off and happier now’. Just do whats right, even if it’s harder right now.

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You are what you eat. Food fuels your body, and when you feed it garbage, you’re going to operate like garbage. Read nutrition labels, a lot of the ingredients in today’s food are downright awful and should not be consumed. Calories ain’t a thing baby, go for a walk or hit the gym; I promise consuming calories is better than consuming plastic.

Everything happens for a reason. Even when you can’t understand why something is happening or see anything good in it, just hold tight. Looking back I can think of countless examples of good things coming out of left field and can’t help but think about how the smallest detail literally affected my whole life- so bizarre.

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Travel. Do it now, because you never know when or if you’ll have the chance to later. Travel is the most freeing thing, it’s when I’m completely myself and feel so alive. I’ve learned more in life from traveling than I ever did in my extensive education (which I also value greatly).

In a nutshell, everyone wants to tell you how to live your life, especially when you’re in your twenties. But when it comes down to it, they’re preaching based on their own life experiences and mistakes; but I’d like to make my own, thank you very much. So here is my ode to 2014 and all the life experiences to be had- I’m ready for you.

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Wine | Loire Valley, France | Saumur Champigny

So it’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted. Between the holiday’s, the day job, and weekend trips the past oh say five weeks or so- it’s been hard to catch a break or even a breath. But all that doesn’t mean my wine exploration slows it’s roll. I visited the Winery at Bull Run and Paradise Springs Winery in Virginia last month (but that’s a whole other post), plus the holidays, plus the day-to-day activities; yeah you can say I’m still sipping here and there- only when appropriate of course.

So my latest wine obsession is Saumur Champigny. I’m not really sure what lead me to add this to my wine cart- but definitely a genius decision.

Saumur Champigny french wine

Saumur Champigny comes from the Loire Valley (or Val de Loire) so it’s more than just a simple read to understand the complexity of this one. The Loire Valley, France’s most diverse wine region, is home to several different appellations, each varying greatly. In general their wines note acidity, minerality & are moderate in alcohol making them great food pairing wines. But the Saumur Champigny specifically comes from Saumur, a premier sparkling wine region in the Loire, where limestone and the temperature play a key role in the terrior.

Saumur Champigny is a Cab Franc specifically produced around eight villages in Saumur with a warm microclimate. In riper vintages, cab franc will nose raspberries & pencil shavings, and in cooler vintages will be lighter in color and more vegetable like.  Chaptilization is permitted (to help compensate for under ripeness some years) and barrel aging is avoided, which probably explains why I like it so much.

Wine notes: Bright garnet color, complex, spicy yet sweet with notes of black fruit & raspberries and violet, rich, full bodied.

From the mouth of a young, wine-loving enthusiast: Super. Definitely worth throwing in your shopping cart this holiday season or for the weekend or for wine o’clock on a Tuesday after work.

Destination | Vienna, Austria

I’ve been holding out from posting or writing about this one for a while now… It’s hard to sum up this city in one blog post or even know where to begin. Everyone says the cliche “studying abroad is the best thing you’ll ever do” blah, blah type of thing; and I’ve never doubted that it was amazing, but it wasn’t until months afterwards that I realized studying abroad in Vienna literally was the best thing to ever happen to me.

The city itself is beautiful, it’s no surprise that it made #1 on the list for Best Cities For Young People (Read up on it here) and ranked #1 in Quality of Life by Bloomberg Business Week. There is so much beauty and culture everywhere, with so much to do and see it’s hard not to fall in love. Of course, I also know that the friends I made are what really solidified the good times and memories.

schonn brun

I really was amazed by this city from the start. My first night there felt like a dream, everything was so different than anything I had ever seen and I really didn’t even know what to expect. After 22 hours of painful traveling I was only there for an hour before my first adventure- a night out in Vienna with people I had never met before in my life, but who quickly became life long friends who I would never forget or or ever stop talking too.

sacher torte hotel

Cafes. I don’t even want to think about how much money I spent on melanges & cappuccinos while I was there, nor all the calories I gained from Sacher Torte’s and all the other things we ate when it was too cold to do anything else or when the weather was perfect and we would sit, eat, drink & chat for hours.

st chalres cathedral

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vienna symphany at schonn brunn

The art & culture was amazing. There was always something going on. I was lucky to be there for the Summer Night Concert by the Philharmonic at the SchonBrunn Palace. I almost missed it to study for an exam, but thank God I didn’t. The lights, music, and star-studded choreography was indescribable. Sitting at the top of a hill with friends drinking lemon beer and taking in everything- I wouldn’t have trade it for the world.

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There are so, so, SO many museums in Vienna. I literally would go on my days off from school and just get lost in one  absorbing things I’ve learned about in boring history classes that suddenly weren’t so boring or wandering through art museums and seeing in person famous paintings and sculptures that I never thought I would see in person like the Kiss by Gustav Klimt or the first ceramics done by Salvador Dali.

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My last night in Vienna was just as great as the first. Who would sleep on their last night in Vienna? Not this girl. After another night of mischief, the sun was creeping out and my flight back home was getting closer by the minute. We found a spot where we had passed through countless times over the six months of studying abroad- on the bridge over the Danube at Stephansplatz. We shut the lock and dropped the keys into the river. I’m glad we left a piece of us there, because I feel like I take Vienna with me everywhere I go.

Destination | Saint Simons & Jeckyll Island, Georgia

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day routine that sometimes you forget how much beauty surrounds you.  You don’t have to travel 2,000 miles away to find paradise or an adventure, it’s probably closer than you think. We took a last minute weekend trip to Saint Simons Island this weekend and it was exactly what I needed. It was the perfect getaway from ordinary and only three hours from Orlando. The only thing on my agenda was relaxing & some wine time with some gems that I’m lucky to call my friends.

Of course, I never travel without having a list of things to eat; and when in Georgia that was definitely pecan pie and anything with fresh sea food. Yumm we’ll say I ate well from an Oyster Po boy to pecan pie bar, blackened mahi with andouille cheddar grits to lobster & shrimp tacos, and of course fresh raw oysters…. yeah delicious.

On the boat, dolphin watching (possibly stalking) to the sunset I literally thought to myself this is too pretty to ruin- I don’t want to take photos, just mental photos. relishing in the moment, enjoying the peace, and thinking this is what people scour the earth for. Lucky for me my friends took pictures and then I took some the next day, because how could I not? 

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Serenity | Vienna is Calling

I havn’t posted in a while because the craziness that we call life has just been a whirlwind lately. So much going on, and the days seem to only be getting shorter. Trying to balance all the components of my life have been very difficult, not impossible, but requiring much more energy than normal.

So with all of that comes much needed quiet time and reflection. With everything going on I just havn’t felt quiet like myself lately, which is why I thought it was wierd that whenever I sat in my car I felt fine again. I would think about whatever just happened or what was going to happen next no matter how simple or complex it was- on the way to my next destination. I would think to myself, that was strange why did or didn’t I do this or that in that situation?

I couldn’t help but think “what the…” when I realized this odd comfort I had found. I then related it to another very comforting feeling for me. Vienna. Oh Vienna. The car ride reminded me of when I would come back home to Vienna after traveling. Something about getting back on the U-Bahn at a specific platform and the feeling of serenity it gave me.

So now connecting the dots… It’s not my car or the u-bahn that brought me piece of mind, but the activity involved. I’m always using my full energy thinking of what I’ll see next and where my next adventure lies. So it brought me serenity that I was on my way somewhere- even if it was just the gym or the grocery store; I was doing something that would get me one step closer to where I’m going on this journey.

The key to life is living, learning from your actions, and moving forward with grace, dignity & beauty. I’m so future focused and goal oriented that sometimes it’s hard for me to just “sit pretty”, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do to before you can move onto the next big thing.

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