Links, Lately

Greetings from Hartsfield-Jackson, ya’ll.

Yesterday, I joked about snow and today the jokes on me (& my delayed flight.) Oy vey.

Abbye and I are headed to St. Louis to see our girls Karen & Georgia – Murderino’s where you at? We are beyond excited! I’ve talked about my favorite podcasts before – My Favorite Murder being at the top of the list.

This weekend will be a good one (if we ever take off) and I’m looking forward to exploring a new city and seeing my first live podcast taping. If you have any St. Louis recos, please send them our way!

Here are the links for the week…

Spotify’s holiday ad campaign is too good.

Did you notice the cropped off elbow on the cover of TIME’s Person of Year issue – it was very much intentional.

Always happy to take advice from Bobbi Brown.

Grace’s Southern-inspired dinner party is a total dream!

I can’t stop listening to this cover of Taylor Swift’s I Did Something Bad.

Stay warm friends and have a great weekend!

Holidays in Atlanta

The temperature has finally dropped here in Atlanta. 🙌

| image via |

So much so that they’re calling for ‘snow’ tomorrow!

The cooler temps and Christmas lights in excess have put me in the mood to do all of the holiday things. Per my usual list-making tendencies, I’ve compiled a list of attractions to see and things to do before the holidays are over. If you’re an Atlanta local and know of any fun things I shouldn’t miss, please let me know in the comments!

Grab drinks at Miracle on Monroe (or the Buckhead location).

Walk through Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Garden Lights & Holiday Nights.

Drive over to Callaway Gardens for their Fantasy in Lights (you can never enjoy too many Christmas lights).

Catch a Christmas flick at Krog Street Market (& grab some popcorn to-go at Bar Mercado)

See a live nativity.

Attempt to ice skate at Ponce City Market’s Skate the Sky.

Wonder around Atlantic Station’s Christkindl Market in search of schnitzel.

Stop by Bella Cucina’s holiday pop-up at The Shops of Buckhead

Catch a showing of The Snow Queen at Serenbe.

Revisit Trap Wonderland (it was closed last time!) for some … people watching?

A Floral-Trimmed Christmas Tree

On today’s “episode” of tacky or tasteful. I’ve trimmed my Christmas tree with silk flowers.

Christmas Tree

Not a fan?

That’s okay…it had to grow on me too.

In years past, I donned a more traditional tree – the classic red with mercury glass ornaments were my go-to. This year, I felt like that look didn’t quite fit my current space. After perusing around the internet seeking inspiration, I came across this post by DesignLoveFest and my interest was piqued.

Christmas Tree

| tree & tree “skirt” | 

While this look is definitely unconventional, it’s fun, whimsical and temporary; so, don’t be intimidated! Not to mention, you won’t have to deal with broken ornaments or those pesky hooks and your silk stems can be repurposed throughout the year.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

It took a few rearrangements, multiple Facetimes with friends and two trips to Michael’s before I was happy with the result. But after a few days of letting it grow on me, I was in love with the installation. Whether you’re decorating your tree with faux flowers or a variety of ornaments, here are best tips for trimming your tree…

  • Coordinate the color scheme with the rest of your home so the tree feels like a natural extension to your aesthetic.
  • Always buy one more strand of lights than you think you will need.
  • Place large ornaments first, then fill in spots with smaller ones.
  • Weave lights up and down the side of each branch, as opposed to just stringing them around the outer branches. This makes the tree really glow.
  • Nestle some ornaments closer to the tree’s center “trunk” instead of just on the end of each branch. This will make your tree look fuller and give it depth.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

If you’re inspired to create your own floral-trimmed tree…

  • Choose flowers based on size and colors and don’t worry about the type. ie: No one will care that you have summer poppies on your tree in December. They’re red, festive and fit perfectly.
  • Arrange the flowers in their spots and leave for a day or so before you cut off any tags or shorten the stems. That way you can change your mind and rearrange or return stems for other better fitting options.
  • In fact, if you don’t want to cut the stems (in case you want to repurpose later), simply bend them in a spiral or wrap them around the branches.
  • Find silk flowers on sale (I purchased mine at Michael’s when they had all of their silk stems 60% off!) Ikea has affordable options too.
  • Save your prettiest, biggest flower for the topper.

 / / /

Christmas Tree

Note: My tree is 6 ½ feet tall and I used 31 stems. I separated some stems that had multiple flowers and used them to fill in gaps. To be more cost effective, I did not fully wrap the flowers around the whole tree and instead just kept the arrangement to one side as the other side wasn’t very visible.

Christmas Tree

Month In Review: November

I feel like I was just saying, “How is it already November.”

And look where we’re at!

This month in review is 4 days past due but here is a look at a few fun items that filled my calendar, plus a couple of my favorite purchases from November.

11.3 // Celebrated a sweet (& v. talented) friend’s birthday at one of the Westside’s newest restaurants Donetto.

11.10 // Celebrated our bride-to-be, Anna with a bachelorette weekend in Helen. Highlight of the trip was an all-day wine tour, Yonah Mountain was my personal fave!

11.12 // Decorated my apartment for the holidays and broke out my favorite holiday candles.

11.16 // Packed Thanksgiving groceries for needy families with my work family. Looking for an organization to give to this holiday season? Families First would love your support!

11.17 // Downloaded the kirakira+ app and now I can’t stop making my cocktails sparkle.

11.18 // Got to see three of my favorite women – Jenna Bush Hager, Barbara Bush and Emily Giffin – at the Sisters First book discussion at MJCCA.

11.19 // Spent Friendsgiving with some of my favorite people. I made my Mema’s cornbread dressing and it was a hit.

11.24 // Went home for Thanksgiving and got to spoil my mom for her birthday. Since she’s always traveling for work, I gifted her a Diptyque scented oval to pack in her suitcase and hang in her hotel closets.

11.27 // I hit up all of the sales on Cyber Monday. My favorite purchases being – Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser and Drybar’s The Tress Press Flatiron.

Here’s to December and all the fun holiday festivities to look forward to! 

Beauty Buys: Cyber Monday Edition

What’s the cure for a food coma?

Shopping all the sales.

Okay, so maybe shopping doesn’t cure those post-Thanksgiving woes but it’s definitely producing some endorphins on my end.

I haven’t posted my Beauty Buys in a while but being that it’s Cyber Monday, I thought it was the perfect time to stock up on some deals, specifically in the beauty department). So whether you’re purchasing gifts or treating yourself (more power to ya, girl!), these are 5 of my favorite beauty purchases of late…all of which are on sale:

1 // DryBar Buttercup Blow Dryer (20% off on DryBar.com – no code needed)

At risk of sounding totally dramatic – this blow dryer has changed my life. The technology housed within this tool is pure magic. Having very thick and wavy hair, a good blowout was only achievable at a salon. But ever since investing in the Buttercup, I’ve managed to semi-master blowouts at home. PS – I like to use the Full Pint Round Brush, too.

2 // NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer (20% off on NARS.com – TAKE20)

Full disclosure – I’ve had this concealer for exactly one week but love it already. I previously used a different color corrector that I loved for coverage but not texture (it was too dewey). This NARS concealer (I use shade: honey) offers full coverage, brightens your under eye and the matte formula gives you the smoothest application – truly a dream combo.

3 // Frida Kahlo Kabuki Brush (25% off on Amazon.com – FKGIVE25)

Every brush collection needs a kabuki brush! I’ve been using this fluffy Kabuki brush for my setting powder and love it. The fibers are super soft and the large brush head makes application quick and seamless. PS – This 4-piece double ended set and highlighter brush + cleaning pad duo are also on sale and would make the perfect gift for your girlfriend!

4 // Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser (20% off on Glossier.com – no code needed)

I was sucked in by the millennial pink packaging and good branding (+ I will try anything Emily Weiss touches) but quickly became addicted after trying Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser. The formula is super gentle and smells amazing. It removes even the most stubborn mascara bits and eyeliner and leaves my skin feeling moisturized and hydrated.

5 // Passion Fruit + Rose Enzymatic Exfoliant Mask (20% off on LittleBarnApothecary.com + free shipping – CYBERMONDAY17)

I’ve talked about LBA before (here & here) and have remained a total loyalist since being introduced to their brand a few years ago. I try to #shopsmall as much as I can and with their Westside store being dangerously close to my apartment, I’m always dropping in and picking up new products. Their masks are a constant in my skincare rotation so I’m excited to stock up. I may or may not have also added their Aloe + Rosewater Balance Mist and Aromatherapy Roller Ball to my cart too!

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Stay tuned for a comprehensive Gift Guide to help inspire your holiday shopping come December!

 

Cornbread Dressing at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us and I’m already feeling full.     

Thanksgiving

To kick off the week I’m sharing a family recipe for my favorite Thanksgiving side – cornbread dressing. 

Thanksgiving

My family’s Thanksgiving menu is extensive – lots of casseroles and carbs – and growing up we only ever had cornbread dressing, never stuffing. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in college that I even realized that dressing was more of a southern side and that most of America noshed on stuffing.

This recipe is passed down from my mema and even though I’ve been tempted to tweak it, I can’t fathom the thought of making it any differently than she did. So while the ingredients are bread-heavy, just know that you can work it off later. It’s so worth the calories. 😉

P.S. Dressing pairs perfectly with cranberry Moscow mules!

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

*Disclaimer: Every time I make this recipe, I usually Facetime my mom 20 times because she never gives me the exact measurements. “It just has to look/feel/taste right.” This last time I prepared it, I took notes so that I had the proper-ish measurements. But feel free to FaceTime Brenda if you need a second opinion. 😉

Mema Howell's Cornbread Dressing
Serves 20
a southern staple at Thanksgiving
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 50 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 50 min
Ingredients
  1. Cornbread (White Lily cornbread mix recommended)
  2. Milk (per your cornbread mix)
  3. 1 sleeve of saltine crackers
  4. 4 slices of white bread
  5. 4 boiled eggs
  6. 1-2 medium sweet onions, chopped & sautéed
  7. 6-7 cups of chicken broth
  8. Salt & pepper, to taste
  9. 2 tsp sage (optional, add to taste)
  10. 4 raw eggs (+ eggs for your cornbread)
Instructions
  1. Following the instructions on your corn bread mix, make cornbread in a large cast iron skillet or casserole dish. Be sure to oil your skillet or pan well, using Crisco or vegetable oil. (I do a recipe and a half of White Lily** using a 9-inch cast iron, plus a 6” x 9” casserole dish.)
  2. While cornbread is baking, boil your eggs. Peel, chop and set aside.
  3. Chop 1 ½ to 2 sweet onions and sauté until slightly translucent.
  4. Crumble and combine cornbread, white bread and saltine crackers in a large (4-quart) bowl.
  5. Add boiled eggs, onion and black pepper.
  6. Pour 4 cups of chicken broth to start and begin mixing. Continue adding chicken broth, ½ cup at a time until the consistency is gloopy and wet.
  7. Mix the dressing (sometimes it’s best to use your hands) well, making sure there are no big chunks of bread. The dressing will be clumpy but the cornbread and white bread should be soft and broken down.
  8. Add finely minced sage and taste.
  9. Add salt and pepper if needed.
  10. Once you’re happy with the taste and consistency, stir in 4 large raw eggs.
  11. Pour mixture into a well-oiled casserole dish and bake until golden brown at 375°F – for about 40-50 minutes.
  12. If dressing isn’t browning, bump oven up to 400°F for 5-10 minutes.
  13. Serve with giblet gravy and or cranberry sauce.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/
**White Lily Southern Buttermilk Cornbread

Happy feasting!

/ / / 

Keep scrolling for a little Friendsgiving inspo! Chaz and Caroline hosted our dinner again this year and it was perfect. Caroline, once again, outdid herself with the tablescape and decor. Thanks for having us, Bagwell’s!

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingThanksgiving

Links, Lately

Another week in the books!

| A good floral arrangement = an instant mood-booster. |

The days feel shorter and the weeks are feeling longer but we made it to the weekend, friends! I’m looking forward to getting a head start on Christmas shopping – something I say every year and never do – and celebrating Friendsgiving on Sunday. What are your plans?   

Here’s a few links to kick of your days of rest…

I live for the theories that Taylor Swift fans come up with surrounding her new album.

Did you catch all the ‘easter eggs’ in Grey’s 300th episode?

11 inspiring women who are changing the beauty game.

Feel Good Story of the Week: A widowed judge installs a pool so the neighborhood kids could have a place to play…and so he wouldn’t be so lonely. (I’m not crying, you’re crying.)

Raise your hand if you feel that Hopper (from Stranger Things) got gypped for People’s Sexiest Man Alive. (Though I do love Mr. Shelton.)  

Fascinating read – what it’s like to be the social media manger to Hollywood’s top celebs.

Have a great weekend!

Update II: 101 in 1001

It’s been a while since I revisited my 101 in 1001 list – 547 days to be exact. Seeing Jessica of Bows & Sequins post about starting her own list, I was motivated to check up on mine. I quickly realized I have a lot to accomplish between now and April 28th – a deadline extension appears to be in my near future.

Since my last progress report, I’ve only marked 13 things off. To name a few…

I went wine tasting in Sonoma (Napa was on the list, but it’s wine country either way). Instead of Helen, I Oktoberfest’d in Berlin (even better, right!?). I visited 4 new cities – San Francisco, Asheville, Berlin and Copenhagen. I earned a promotion at work and started a retirement fund (future me is happy, current me would rather have the extra spending money). I got a new (to-me) car and I don’t know how I ever drove without a backup camera. I voted in an election and even wrote a letter to my future daughter the same night (which I need to finish…). I managed to exceed my goal of 40 new restaurants (no surprise here) and made a dent in “concerts-with-dad”. I even learned how to sew – er, more like embroider.

I still have a lot left to do in the next 165 days.

I’m hoping to check off a few more things over Thanksgiving (ie: recipe compiling, learning to drive a stick, etc.). Who knows, maybe I’ll hit the lottery between now and April so I can squeeze in a trip to Italy and South Africa!

I’ll share another update first of the year. In the meantime, what have you marked off your list?

 

Pimento Cheese Cookies

Anyone else guilty of circling the food table at wedding showers?   pimento cheese cookies

*raises hand*

Why are finger foods so good? For as long as I can remember, the food served at wedding showers, baby showers, hell even Mary Kay parties (circa ’98) were little bites of pure bliss. They always felt guilt-free until you realized you just consumed 15 little weenies that had been cooking in grape jelly and bbq sauce for last 3 hours – albeit, everything felt guilt-free when you were 10.

pimento cheese cookies

All that to say, at a recent wedding shower I tasted a new-to-me nibble that was so delicious I immediately found the hostess to ask her for the recipe. Shout-out to Melissa (hostess with the literal mostess) because Anna’s fall shower was pure perfection and the menu was nothing but crowd-pleasers!

pimento cheese cookies

If you’re in need of a little appetizer inspo for Friendsgiving or just want to try something new for your next dinner party, these pimento cheese cookies* are the best combination of savory and sweet … and they pair perfectly with a glass of wine. Scroll down for the recipe! 

*Editor’s Note: I went a tad over board with the pepper jelly, which you will notice in the photos below. So I recommend sticking to the ½ teaspoon measurement – the jelly will melt and spread while baking. A little goes a long way here. 😉

pimento cheese cookies

pimento cheese cookies

pimento cheese cookies

pimento cheese cookies

Pimento Cheese Cookies
Yields 24
a southern staple in cookie form
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
2 hr 15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Prep Time
2 hr 15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
2 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup refrigerated pimento cheese
  3. ½ cup pecans, finely chopped
  4. ¼ cup butter, softened
  5. ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  6. 4 Tbsp. red pepper jelly
Instructions
  1. Beat together flour and pimento cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute, until well combined.
  2. Add chopped pecans, cayenne pepper and softened butter; beat until blended. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  4. Place dough on a well-floured surface and roll to ⅛-inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a 2-inch round cutter.
  5. Reroll the scraps and repeat.
  6. Arrange half of the rounds 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  7. Spoon ½ teaspoon of pepper jelly onto center of each round and top with the remaining rounds. Press the edges to seal.
  8. Bake at 400° F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to let them cool completely (about 30 minutes).
Notes
  1. Dough will need to be chilled for at least 2 hours before baking.
Gin & Jewels http://www.ginandjewels.com/

Month In Review: October

I say this every year, but how is it already November?

We only have 7 more Fridays between now and Christmas! Let the panic set in, people.

While October flew by, I’ve been wanting to mix things up a bit from my regular Friday posts (which admittingly have been lacking recently, apologies!) So in lieu of this week’s Links, Lately, I’m sharing a month in review – a look back at some fun times, good finds and exciting happenings from the past 31 days.

10.1 // Kicked off the October in Copenhagen & Berlin with my best friend and favorite travel buddy, Morgan.

10.8 // Showered our favorite couple – Anna & Brandon (a pre-celebration to Anna’s upcoming bachelorette weekend!) These wine glasses are my go-to wedding gift and they’re on sale right now.

10.10 // Got to see one of my closest friends launch her brand and new website – her art is ridiculously beautiful.

10.12 // Met Gray Malin at his book signing at Waiting on Martha Home (a must visit!).

10.17 // Started (& finished) a new podcast – Dirty John – it was so good.

10.20 // Took an unforgettable trip to New York with my dad to see Bruce on Broadway – which was incredible.

10.25 // Celebrated the launch of Frida Kahlo Beauty and the limited-edition collection of beautiful brushes (available exclusively on Amazon)!

10.26 // Rang in 28 with my best friends with dinner & drinks at Bar Mercadococktail reco: Tomato King.

10.31 // Participated in our annual work Halloween costume contest. While I was dressed as a bottle of champagne, Abbye’s Dwight costume was the office favorite.

/ / / 

Here’s to November and all the holiday madness that’s soon to ensue! Have a wonderful weekend, friends.

My Philosophy on Souvenirs

I may not have the healthiest of spending habits but I’m a damn good at shopping.

Anywhere, anytime – I will find always find something to buy.   

It’s not surprising that this habit has caused me to suffer from buyer’s remorse more times than I care to admit. I always let dumb purchases haunt me for days – ridiculous, I know. So in the spirit of self-improvement, I’ve been making a conscious effort to be less of an impulse buyer and more of a thoughtful shopper. But for whatever reason all logic goes out the window when I’m on vacation. I over spend, over purchase and usually come home with things I don’t need.  

Most of my frivolous purchases fall within one of three camps – food & beverage, beauty products and home décor. When prepping for my trip to Copenhagen and Berlin, I made a mental note of items that I knew I would want to bring back (based on the aforementioned categories) and promised myself I would have more self-control in hopes of avoiding that guilty feeling. 

I thought I would share my philosophy when it comes to souvenirs – what I look for, what I avoid and what I purchased during my recent travels…

It’s no secret I’m a self-proclaimed cocktail connoisseur – so shopping for bitters, liqueurs, tinctures are easy buys I never regret. Along with stocking up on my bar inventory, I love picking up local provisions (i.e.: meat, cheese and candy). Sure, they don’t last forever but when you have a memory tied to a bottle of wine (or even a block of cheese;) ) it feels that much more special when you enjoy it back home.

One of my favorite parts about traveling is trying beauty brands that aren’t accessible in the states. During our stay in Berlin, I stumbled across the perfumery – Frau Tonis Parfum. Their store was an absolute dream and I loved everything from the branding and bottle shape to the stories behind each fragrance. I’ve always loved how certain scents can instantly take you back to a specific memory. For me, this makes fragrances excellent souvenirs. My tiny bottle of parfüm is the sweetest addition to my vanity and takes me back to Berlin with just one spritz.   

Lastly is home décor – my biggest weakness. Plates, trays, candles, coffee table books are all items I love to collect and display throughout my space. I love the Danish aesthetic but wasn’t able to purchase any home pieces (my indecisiveness got the best of me). I did manage to find a few candles that I plan on burning well into fall. The vessels are pretty enough to upcycle, allowing them to always serve as a reminder of my time spent in Denmark.         

Things I don’t buy? The destination-themed knickknacks that you find in those cluttered souvenir shops. Your souvies don’t have to read the town’s name you visited to be sentimental. Just knowing the story behind each purchase is good enough for me. I also think you should never pressure yourself into buying something just because you’re on a trip. Sometimes the best souvenirs are the free matches from a lunch spot, a postcard from your bill at dinner or all of those photos on your camera roll (print and frame them, people!).

                                                                                                                               

I would love to know – do you have a strategy when it comes to purchasing souvenirs? What are items that you stay away from? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Pomegranate Morgue-rita

Cocktail crime scene ahead…

pomegranate margarita

I’ve unintentionally yet majorly slacked on Halloween content this year. Which is a shame, because it’s my favorite holiday. But I couldn’t let Tuesday come and go without sharing an on-theme libation. Scroll down for the recipe to this bloody-hued pomegranate margarita morgue-rita. 😉

pomegranate margarita

| recipe|

pomegranate margarita

pomegranate margarita

| cocktail shaker | black lava salt | coupes | strainer |

pomegranate margarita

pomegranate margarita

For more boos-y inspiration check out … this candy + beer pairing, a spiked pumpkin beer cocktail and this fun drinking game to pass the time between trick ‘r treaters.

Travel Diary: Berlin

Berlin, schönes Berlin!

Berlin

Berlin was incredible. It’s a huge city with a dark history and a rich culture.  Truthfully, it would take us more than 4 days to squeeze in all the sights. But we did our very best with the time we had. Here are our most memorable moments from our days spent in Germany’s capitol…warning: this post is long but things get pretty exciting on day 9. 😉

Scroll to the bottom for a full list of the restaurants, museums and sights we visited.

Berlin

Berlin


Berlin
Berlin

Day 5 // Arrives in Berlin…

12:01pm: Touches down in Berlin, bags made it too. Oh yay, they have Uber Taxi here!

12:15pm: Really excited to witness Morgan practice her German, her accent is so good. I have no idea what she’s saying but it sounds like perfect German to me.

12:16pm: Our driver doesn’t speak English, so Morgan whips out her German so perfectly that I’m just sitting back with the biggest smile on my face like, “That’s my best friend!”

12:17pm: Driver doesn’t understand her. But it’s okay. We think maybe she just mixed up her prepositions?

1:15pm: After a slight mix up with the key pick up, we make it to our Airbnb. So spacious and uniquely decorated.

Makes mental note to make more of an effort to pack lighter.

2:00pm: We uber to a biergarten because we must nourish ourselves before figuring out the public transportation.

2:15pm: It’s drizzling and Prater Garten is empty so we decide to find lunch instead.

2:30pm: We stumble upon the cutest street and decide on the little café, Engelberg. I’m really excited to try German food.

2:36pm: Berlin is much cheaper than CPH. Praise be! Morgan orders a wurst made of veal and a pretzel. I order Käsespätzle (basically German mac & cheese but a thousand times better).

3:24pm: After lunch, we continue to wander around, ending up in Mauerpark. Morgan and I both comment on the lack of upkeep. We’re not here to judge, but coming off of the high that is Copenhagen’s cleanliness, it was slightly shocking. 

Upon further research, I learned that Mauerpark translates to “Wall Park”, referring to its status as a former part of the Berlin Wall and its Death Strip.

3:45pm: We make our way back to Prater Graten for a round of biers and people watching. Loving Berlin and it’s only been a few hours.

7:00pm: After purchasing our Belin WelcomeCard (offers free transportation and discounts on attractions) from a train station, we make our make to the flat.

8:00pm: For dinner, we opt for take-out (more Shawarma) at a little spot appropriately named Happy Food.

 / / /

Berlin

BerlinBerlin

Berlin

Berlin

Day 6 // Bike tour history lesson…

8:00am: Waking up in Berlin and excited for our bike tour today.

10:00pm: Makes small talk with fellow vacationers in our bike tour group. The older couple with helmets, biking gloves and really intense windbreakers suddenly make me feel very unprepared and I begin to question my biking skills.

10:15am: Alex, our guide, asks if someone will volunteer to be the caboose and make sure everyone in our group stays together. Morgan volunteers, I’m relieved.

10:45am: Having the time of my life on this damn bike. Truly amazed by the amount of history Alex is dropping on us. He could totally be making everything up, but I don’t think he is.

Alex is originally from California, has a Canadian accent and has lived in Berlin for 9-ish years. He’s brilliant.

11:36am: Completely blown away that most of these beautiful buildings were destroyed in WWII, statues were sunk in the water and then buildings were rebuilt and statues extracted and replaced. Just thinking of the logistics stress me out.

To the history buffs rolling their eyes at me right now. Give me a break. I regret not paying attention in history class but I’m here now, ready to learn!

11:52am: Learns about the history of the currywurst.

Memorizes story in case it’s ever asked on Jeopardy.

12:10pm: We arrive to our lunch spot after biking through Tiergarten. Orders the Schnitzel. I love Schnitzel.

1:20pm: Back on the bike, a little tipsy and feeling unstoppable.

1:45pm: Having a hard time processing all of this German history. So dark, so heartbreaking, extremely fascinating.

Scolds myself again for not paying more attention in European history and makes mental note to sneak into a high school history class.

3:15pm: Tour is over. Morgan gets a free (giant bottle of) bier for being the caboose. We both confirm that Alex got cuter as the tour went on. We linger to ask him cool places the locals go, because we’re losers.

3:20pm: Onward to explore more of Berlin. Both of us had made notes on places to revisit after our bike tour. Topography of Terror being the first on our list.

6:45pm: Takes the tram back to our flat. Officially got the hang of Berlin’s public transit. Feeling like a local.

8:46pm: Dinner at Hirsch (recommended by Alex). Highly recommend, the bartender is super attractive and reminds me of Alex Karev from Grey’s. 😉

Makes mental note to eat all meals by candlelight when I get back home.

10:24pm: Back at our flat. Googles list of movies on WWII that I can watch asap. Falls asleep quick.

/ / / 


Berlin
Berlin
BerlinBerlin Berlin

Berlin

Day 7 // Oktoberfest bound…

10:00am: Today’s agenda – museums, bier, and more museums.

11:45am: It’s raining. I opt for rain coat, no umbrella. Morgan chooses cute outfit, umbrella, no raincoat. Let’s see how this plays out.

12:20pm: Brunch at a corner bakery. The bakery has birds inside. Just flying around and hanging out on the chandeliers. They’re cute.

12:22pm: Keeps hand over cappuccino after spotting bird shit on the chairs.  

12:45pm: Walks to Museum Island. It’s pouring at this point but Berlin is still beautiful.

1:30pm: After a bought of indecisiveness we end up at the Berlin Palace. It’s under construction but they have a temporary set up with exhibits.

2:15pm: Finds their rooftop restaurant. Pit stop for bier and cocktails! It’s still raining but the view is cool.

3:15pm: The exploring continues, we check our watches phones and decide to try and find this Oktoberfest we read about.

5:10pm: Takes the underground 30 minutes to the outskirts of the city. We begin our “short walk” towards Kurt-Schumacher-Damm.

5:12pm: We see a tree that has fallen on top of a car that was stopped at a red light. Notices that it is pretty windy.

5:28pm: Asks a woman if we’re headed towards Oktoberfest, she snickers and says yes.

5:40pm: Asks a man if we’re headed towards Oktoberfest, he asks, “you want to go to Oktoberfest right now?” We say, “yes.” He snickers and we keep walking.

5:48pm: We see a sign!

5:49pm: Where are all the people?

5:52pm: Oktoberfest is deserted.

Unbeknownst to us, we were in the middle of a major storm (dubbed Xavier) and so Oktoberfest was ‘closed’ for the day. All trams and buses were also shut down for the time being.

7:00pm: We make our way back to the city. Take a coffee and wifi break at Balzac to find our dinner spot.

7:47pm: We end up at Schnitzelei, make friends with the people next to us. Order a bottle of wine and a giant schnitzel.

9:58pm: Leave Schnitzelei full, happy, with wine-stained teeth.

10:30pm: Transit is back in service, delayed, but in service!

It comes to my realization that we actually didn’t end up at many museums today but covered a lot of ground. Berlin is sprawling. I can’t help but imagine what it was like pre-wall fall.

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Berlin

BerlinBerlin  Berlin Berlin

Day 8 // Learning to live like locals…

10:20am: Up and out, headed to the East Side Gallery.

11:01am: We ask a stranger to take our photo in front of a mural with a quote, hoping it doesn’t say something offensive that will make us look like insensitive assholes.

11:31am: Hanging out in Alexanderplatz. I’m determined to get an Oktoberfest Instagram so I order a bier before noon and don’t feel an ounce of guilt. Prost!

11:54am: Checking out the vendors, trying to resist the urge of purchasing fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar.

11:59am: Ends up with €50 euro worth of cheese and meat. This should surprise no one.

Morgan’s German comes in handy with this transaction but instead of asking how much the salami is. She asks, “what time is it?”

12:40am: Eats lunch at the oldest restaurant in Berlin – Zur Letzten Instanz. I’ll give you one guess on what I ordered. Rhymes with Blitzel.

3:22pm: We find ourselves at Hofbräu. People are in traditional German attire and I’m loving it.

5:54pm: Next on our list is a rooftop bar we read about – Klunderkranich.

Pretty sure a picture of Klunderkranich shows up next to the word eclectic in the dictionary.

6:06pm: It’s golden hour, I have a G&T in hand and we can see all of Berlin. Life is beautiful.

7:20pm: Our goal is to go to Brandenberg Gates for a “lights festival” but we keep getting on the wrong train. Just when we were feeling like locals, we get a reality check.

9:20pm: We end up back at Alexanderplatz for live music and our last helping of delicious German food.

11:00pm: Back to our flat to pack. Tomorrow we head home.

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Berlin

Day 9 // A little adventure for the last day…

6:00am: Barely awake but gathering all of our stuff because we have to head to the airport.

6:32am: We’re packed, walking out the door. Leave the apartment and building keys on the coffee table per instructions from our host. Her door and the building door lock automatically so we don’t have to lock up. (Any guesses on where this is going?)

6:34am: We make it downstairs, our taxi is almost here. I’m feeling good because our goal was to leave by 6:45am, so we’re a little ahead of schedule. Terrific!

6:35am: As I’m closing the door to the building, I ask Morgan if she needs anything before I shut the door. (This is pointless because the apartment door is locked anyway) but as those words come out of my mouth, I shut the door only to look up at Morgan to see her panicked expression.

6:36am: “I left my purse upstairs.” – Morgan

I’m thinking, well homegirl will have to mail it to you because we have to get to the airport.

“My passport is in my purse.” – Morgan 

6:37am: I want to cry but I don’t. I think Morgan wants to cry but she doesn’t.

6:38am: Our cab pulls up, we send him away because we have some stuff to figure out.

Quick background on our Airbnb host: We never met her in person, but she was very nice, hospitable via email and extremely thorough with her correspondence. So much so that she sent us an actual video of herself explaining how to unlock her apartment door (totally normal door, no explanation was necessary). She sent a lot of emails before we arrived, which is what led to the mix up at the beginning of our trip with the keys. So at this point, we knew a few things about our host:

  1. She was vacationing in Vancouver and was not returning to Berlin for a few more days.
  2. She left her spare key with her friend (our “emergency contact”), Nora, who we met at the beginning of the trip when she gave us her (only) set of keys.
  3. Her second “emergency contact,” Maggie was in Prague, but she gave us her number just in case.

6:45am: It’s raining, we are no longer half asleep and are fully awake. The only thing we know to do is go to the US Embassy and wait until they open. We call an Uber.

6:51am: Uber picks us up, we tell him we’re going to the US Embassy. He’s mutters that it’s too early for them to be open. We know that, sir.

6:55am: Morgan and I are talking about our game plan (or lack thereof) and our Uber driver goes, “You lost your passport!” He then turns into a superhero and begins to help us troubleshoot.

7:02am: Ali (our driver, we become quick friends) calls a locksmith and they say they can open both doors even though it’s not our apartment. Sounds like breaking and entering to us but gives us hope. We then learn that they will have to break both locks and we will have to pay to replace. So that solution is dead.

Our first flight is to Copenhagen, where we have a long layover before going to London. So if we can at least make the 2nd flight out of Berlin, we will still be able to make our connection. But if we don’t get the passport, Morgan’s vacation is extended since I think it takes a few days for the US Embassy to get you a new passport.

7:15am: Meanwhile, Morgan is trying to call our host and Nora. No dice.

7:18am: Morgan rereads all of our host’s emails…”Since Nora will be supplying her keys, please take note that there will be no spare key available.”

7:20am: I want to cry again.

7:28am: We decide to call Maggie, the 2nd emergency contact, just in case.

She answers!

She got back from Prague yesterday!

Her family is in town visiting.

We woke her up.

She has a set of spare keys.

7:32am: Ali makes a 3-point turn in the middle of the street and we head to pick up Maggie.

7:49am: Profusely apologizing to sleepy Maggie as Ali drives us back to the apartment.

8:17am: Passport recovered.

8:28am: Dropped Maggie back off at her apartment, profusely thanks her for saving our lives morning.

8:37am: Ali is driving like a bat out of hell.

8:40am: We arrive to the airport with 20 minutes to spare. 

If this were Hartsfield Jackson, it would have been impossible to check our bags, get through security and to our gate in time. But Tegal is miniature in comparison and we make it!

8:43am: Crisis averted. Casualties include Morgan’s dry shampoo and Oribe in the security line.  I need a bier.

Feeling thankful for Ali and his racecar driving skills. He was so helpful and went above and beyond his Uber Taxi-driving duties.

9:04am: Plane takes off. I’m craving Schnitzel.

< < fast forward > >

4:15pm: In line to board our flight in CPH. The guy two people in front of me looks familiar. I think I just saw him on a Jimmy Kimmel Mean Tweets video.

I may or may not have spent our 5-hour layover watching SNL clips and celebrity interviews on YouTube.

4:17pm: Googles:“Game Of Thrones cast.”

4:18pm: Shows Morgan and points to Jaime Lannister. Using her outside voice, she says, “That’s not Jaime Lannister.”

4:22pm: Upon further lurking, we confirm it is him. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the flesh.

4:48pm: Trip ends with a celeb sighting. I’m happy.

Four flights later (TXL > CPH > LHR > BOS > ATL) I’m back in Atlanta. Sunday blues going strong.

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Berlin

Where We Ate

Engelberg  

Pratergarten

Schleusenkrug

Leysieffer

Hirsch

Bäcker Weidmann

Humboldt Terrassen

Balzac Coffee

Schnitzelei (Mitte)

Zur Letzten Instanz

Hofbräu

Klunkerkranich

Berlin

Where We Explored

Mauerpark

Fat Tire Berlin Bike Tours

Tiergarten

Checkpoint Charlie

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Topography of Terrors

The Berlin Palace

Oktoberfest Berlin at Kurt-Schumacher-Damm

East Side Gallery

Alexanderplatz

Where We Stayed

Airbnb in Friedrichshain

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Hope you enjoyed these overly detailed travel recaps! Jetsetting with your best friend to far away countries is what your 20’s are for. Shout out to Morgie for being the best travel companion. Can’t wait for our next adventure!

Berlin

Travel Diary: Copenhagen

I’ve been stateside for over a week but I’m still missing that Copenhagen life …

Copenhagen_G&J

& the cooler temps.

& the food.

& all the beautiful people.              

If you follow along on Instagram, then you probably saw that I recently took a trip to Copenhagen and Berlin. While the trip was planned months ago, the destinations were picked rather randomly. My best friend and forever travel companion, Morgan, sent me a list of destinations with cheap tickets and we decided on Copenhagen. Adding a leg in Berlin for good measure. 😉

Neither of us really knew what to expect with either destination. But I don’t think there was ever a moment where we were not eating, drinking, or laughing hysterically. Copenhagen was an absolute dream and Berlin was a blast.

Copenhagen_G&J

I’ll be publishing my recap on Berlin later this week, but first wanted to share some snap shots from our time spent in Copenhagen, along with a day x day breakdown. Hope these photos inspire a little bit of wanderlust!

Scroll to the bottom for a full list of the restaurants, museums and sights we visited.

Copenhagen_G&J

Copenhagen_G&J Copenhagen_G&J

Day 1 // Arrives in København…

3:00pm: Deplanes at CPH and is immediately hit with a smell of something delicious (sausage, hotdogs?).

4:00pm: Meets host at our Airbnb. Morgan asks about cool neighborhoods we should check out. I inquire about those “hotdogs” we smelt at the airport.

After, trying to describe the food (“long pork links” – I use hand motions) and explaining that in America, we call them hotdogs. Søren, our sweet Danish host, confirms that they too, call them hotdogs (or pølse). I feel like a moron.

4:30pm: We settle in, unpack and freshen up. Ready to go explore and find a dinner spot.

6:00pm: We stumble upon Fleisch and are happily seated at the bar.

6:08pm: Our waiter looks like Olympian Tom Daly and the menu is meat focused. 5 stars.

8:15pm: Walks back to our apartment. Both of us are unsure of what time or day it is and fall asleep almost instantly.    

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Copenhagen_G&J

Copenhagen_G&J

Copenhagen_G&J

Copenhagen

Day 2 // Goes on a gastronomic journey…

9:00am: Wake up feeling like it’s Christmas morning! We’re eating at Geranium for lunch.

9:15am: Morgan and I apply eye masks. We decide to skip breakfast because we’re about to dine on 16 courses. Casual.

9:22am: I plug in my straightener. Zap! Straightener dies. Reality sets in that I’m just going to have bad hair for the rest of the trip. But I don’t care.

9:35am: Contemplating what one wears to a noon reservation at the 19th best restaurant in the world. Decides on all black.

10:00am: Leaves apartment, giving ourselves 2 hours to make our reservation – plenty of time. Right?

10:30am: Clearly, we’re new here because the nicest gentleman offers us help with buying our metro tickets after he sees us struggling. Did I mention, that everyone is extremely nice (and ridiculously good looking)?

10:45am: We make it on the train. The station, platform and train car are all spotless, this seems to be a trend here in CPH. I like it. 

11:15am: Gets off at Nordhavn. Begins our “short” stroll towards the restaurant.  

11:45am: This walk is absolutely beautiful but I hope we’re getting close because that 2-hour time frame is closing in.

11:58pm: Arrives at Geranium 2 minutes early. Do we pace outside the elevator? Do we touch up our wind-blown hair? Do we just go in? All of the above, in that order.

***Saving our Geranium experience for a separate blog post because it was magical.***  

3:00pm: We begrudgingly leave Geranium, I think we could have lingered all day just watching the kitchen do their thing. 

3:45pm: Back in the city center, we take a beer break at a pub. This is the first of many “øl/bier” breaks we take during our trip. Not mad about it.

5:00pm: Head towards Nyhavn because I need an Instagram of the canals.

I should note that there are random public restrooms all throughout the city. They are such a blessing, I can’t even begin to tell you. And they’re clean! Seriously – Copenhagen, what’s your deal? Why are your restrooms so clean and your streets so tidy! I love you.

8:00pm: We choose a small Shawarma spot for dinner. Still not used their currency and we’re spending Kroners like it’s monopoly money – cheap dinner FTW.

10:00pm: Back at the apartment. Are we lame for not staying out? No, we’re grandmothers mature adults who are jetlagged.

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Copenhagen_G&J

Copenhagen_G&J

Copenhagen_G&J

Copenhagen_G&J

Copenhagen_G&J

Copenhagen_G&J

Copenhagen_G&J

Copenhagen_G&J

Day 3 // A day of exploration…

10:00am: Stops by Joe & The Juice for breakfast – the millennial pink logo is too enticing.

10:22am: Morgan and I are both convinced they put ice cream in our smoothies.

Note to self: need to Google ingredients of vanille mælk.

11:00am: Double fisting an iced coffee and avocado smoothie, we board the train to Humlebæk.

We also purchased a Copenhagen Card (highly recommend) so we’re feeling pretty unstoppable.

12:00pm: Walking through the most beautiful “suburb.” Daydreams about raising a family in OTP Copenhagen.

12:25pm: Arrives at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Immediately feels more cultured.

12:40pm: You guys, Marina Abramović is a strange bird. Talented, provocative, intelligent but strange as hell.

1:43pm: Heads back into the city.

2:30pm: Takes the long route to Rosenborg Castle (aka I lead us toward the wrong direction, takes us about 5 minutes to realize).

2:46pm: Quick stroll through The Botanical Gardens.

3:08pm: Stops at the café outside of the castle for a quick snack (we forgot to eat lunch). Once again, my math isn’t quick enough to convert Kroners to USD. I spend roughly $11 on a bag of chips crisps and can of San Pellegrino. Oops. Copenhagen is expensive (maybe that’s why it’s so clean?).

3:30pm: Castle closes in 30 minutes so we run to the top floor to check out the oriental rugs, throne and impressive China collection and then jet down to the basement to see the crown jewels.

4:00pm: Wanders around the royal grounds contemplating our next move. Decides to head towards Strömma for a canal tour.

4:26pm: Pit stop for hot dogs pølse. They didn’t disappoint!

4:45pm: We pick up our tickets (free with the Copenhagen Card!). We’re told that there isn’t an open container law in Copenhagen. (We had noticed people openly drinking but it didn’t really occur to us that us tourists could partake in the fun!)

4:46pm: Purchases 4 Carlsberg beers for the ride. 😉

5:00pm: Canal tour is very informative until out tour guide is switched out and the new lady speaks in a soft whisper and doesn’t use the microphone to her advantage. Morgan begins mentally crafting the review she plans to leave on TripAdvisor. We have beer so all is well.

6:00pm: Tour is done, beers are gone. Public restrooms come to the rescue again.

6:45pm: Arrives at an inconspicuous bar, known for their craft cocktails. Couldn’t be happier.

7:02pm: We both develop a crush on the bartender.

8:00pm: Leaves perfect bar to find dinner.

8:15pm: Cute French bistro on the corner – yes, please!

9:20pm: Heads back towards the apartment but not before stopping for churros.

After all of the exploring from today, I’ve officially fallen in love with Copenhagen. The history, the architecture, the kind people, their suspiciously clean restrooms and (it goes without saying) their restaurant scene – this city has it all.

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Copenhagen_G&J

Copenhagen_G&J

Copenhagen_G&J Copenhagen_G&J

Day 4 // Our last full day…

11:28am: We got a late start but we’re well rested. Headed to Carlsberg Brewery.

11:44am: Embarks on a self-guided tour through the exhibit that oddly feels like a haunted house with weird lighting and questionable sound effects. 

12:20pm: Settles in at the bar for brunch and a beer tasting.

Around this time, we found out about the Las Vegas shootings. With it being 6am East Coast time, the news was just breaking. Morgan and I sat in silence for a long time, just refreshing our CNN app in pure disbelief. Our hearts were absolutely broken. There is such a sense of guilt being on vacation while so many are suffering back home. We tried not to let the tragedy affect our trip but there was definitely a lingering somberness over the next week.

3:35pm: We head back towards the city center to rent bikes, with no destination in mind.

3:40pm: Pit stop at Taffelbay for pastries and cappuccino.

3:55pm: The bikes are equipped with GPS (& have motors!?).

Makes mental note to bike more in Atlanta. I love the bike!

3:59pm: We head toward Copenhagen Contemporary on Paper Island, a place we saw while on our canal tour the day prior.

4:26pm: Arrives at CC, the museum is closed but there are these “wishing trees” littered with handwritten notes in all languages. I snap a few pics of my favorites and write my own wish.  

4:30pm: We walk over to the warehouse next door, Papirøen. It’s a giant food hall! I immediately spot a gin & tonic menu and order a strawberry + black pepper G&T with Mikkeller gin. #Bliss

5:46pm: Heading back into the city, it starts to rain. Still buzzing from the G&T and couldn’t be happier with our bike situation so the rain is a non-issue.

6:24pm: Duck into a wine bar for dinner. It’s cute, quaint and full of locals. We can tell because the 3-member staff knows everyone by name and is asking about their family. My heart goes pitter patter. Morgan and both develop a crush on our server. A man that talks wine? Swoon.

6:35pm: We order the “staff meal” which is a duck & risotto dish.

Every Monday, the chef cooks a hearty meal for the staff. Guests can order by the bowl for only a 100DKK (~$15 USD) and if you love it (& there is extra) you can ask for a second serving.  

10:30pm: We’re back at our apartment, packing our stuff. Tomorrow we head to Berlin!

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Day 5 // Berlin bound…

9:00am: Heads to the airport. Praying my luggage scale doesn’t fail me and my bag isn’t overweight.

11:10am: Plane takes off for Berlin and I quietly shed a few tears because I miss Copenhagen.

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Copenhagen_G&J

Where We Ate

Fleisch

Geranium

Victoria Pub

Joe and The Juice

The Garden Café ApS

Døp

Ruby

Mon Amour

Rajissimo

Jacobsen Brewhouse & Bar

Taffelbay

Papirøen Copenhagen Street Food

Ved Stranden 10 – Vinhandel & Bar

Copenhagen_G&J

Where We Explored

Fælledparken

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Rosenborg Castle

Strömma Canal Tours

Indre By (neighborhood)

Carlsberg Brewery

Paper Island

Where We Stayed

Airbnb in the Vesterbro neighborhood

 

 

 

Packing Like a Pro

Raise your hand if you’re an over packer.

over packer

*Raises two hands*

I prefer the phrase well-prepared but if I’m being honest, I’m just a product junkie who over packs. For most trips, I embrace it and fill my car up with all the things I don’t need. But when I’m flying, I try and consolidate. Fact: I have a real fear of having to lift my carry-on into an overhead bin and it falling on top of me. 

over packer

I never have a problem editing down my wardrobe but definitely have trouble downsizing my accessories (ie: toiletries, hair products, makeup, my Buttercup). Over the years, I’ve fine-tuned my packing list and relied on three “tricks” to help keep my well-preparedness in check:

over packer

  1. Always keep your favorite toiletries in stock.

Should I ever need to flee my apartment in a hurry, I find comfort in knowing that my toiletry case is always packed. I keep a supply of travel-size shampoo, skincare samples, contacts & solution, a mini electric toothbrush, etc. on hand, always. I have a designated drawer to collect extra items while also keeping the essentials stored in my toiletry bag for quick packing. When I return from a trip, I make a list of items to replenish and go ahead and stock up so I’ll be ready for my next getaway.                                              

  1. Knowing when to donate or keep those free samples.

Whether items are from a “gift with purchase” promo or cashed-in points at Sephora – I’m a sucker for miniature/travel-size anything (as discussed in Tuesday’s post). But it’s important to keep your stash stocked with only things you will actually use. I make a point to donate or give away samples and travel-sized items that I know I won’t use.    

  1. Pack, assess, edit.

Though I tend to over pack initially, I always go back and edit my suitcase and toiletry bag. Usually after weighing them and realizing I’ve exceeded the 50lb limit but that’s neither here nor there. Once I’ve packed everything I think I need, I reassess and remove items that I could probably live without. It’s hard to do at first, but you’ll pat yourself on the back later. I usually make it a game – remove 5 unnecessary items and I reward myself with a drink. 😉

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And because I love reading about/seeing what other people keep in their bags (read: I’m nosy!), I thought I would share some of my favorite travel-friendly beauty products that I’ve packed for my trip…

over packer

In the hair care category – I need all the help I can get to extend my blowout. So I a few dry shampoo options, good shampoo + conditioner, and duck clips are musts.

over packer

For skincare – I like to continue my at-home (pretty basic) routine while on the road. Face wash, toner, and makeup remover – I can’t go without. I especially love Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser – the bottle isn’t huge so it makes it perfect for travel but it lasts a long time. The formula is so gentle (yay for no burning eyes!) and passes the white towel test every time. Not pictured is the moisturizer stashed in my carry-on. 😉

over packer

I would love to know if you have any go-to products for travel or any tips and tricks for packing! Read up on my carry-on essentials in this post

| shop today’s post here | 

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over packer