My Favorite Things About Savannah, GA

  1. My mom lives there

    We just passed Mother’s Day, so this has to be a big one! If Savannah didn’t already have enough to offer, this makes it an easy choice for a favorite city. I missed posting on the actual Mom’s day (has it really been almost a month since the last post? Yikes, sorry about that!), but I spent Easter Weekend in Georgia with my mom... and at the community clubhouse eating all the shrimp cocktail at the brunch buffet.

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2. It’s green everywhere

Savannah is known for its lush garden squares and Spanish moss hanging from all the trees. It’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil brought to life; a little spooky and mysterious at night, but perfectly enchanting during the day. I haven’t taken a ghost tour yet, but it’s sure to be on the list someday.

Savannah GA

3. Food in all forms

Since my mom and stepdad started living down here, over ten years ago, the food scene seems to have evolved a bit. Of course, we can and do still find our favorites—southern fried chicken and mashed potatoes at the Pink House, classic sandwiches from Zunzi’s (though I miss the old food truck), or mini chocolate chip cookies from Byrd. This time, we added some new kids on the block. Grilled cheese with curried tomato soup served in a Warhol-esque Campbell’s can at Atlantic—they were playing Dark Side of the Moon to accompany Wizard of Oz on a projector screen. Very hip; very youthful! Aussie fare from Collin’s Quarters that took me back to two months earlier at Bondi Beach. And one of the tastiest vegan restaurants I’ve tried yet. In the middle of Georgia! Can you believe it?! I guess it’s not that surprising when you consider the fact that Savannah’s also home to SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design), one of the country’s best art schools, which brings me to #4…

4. The arts

It turns out, Savannah is not only a city for brunching, drinking, visiting my mom, and walking around fancy squares, though you could occupy quite a bit of your time with all of that. It also has a very fulfilling cultural scene and a continuous supply of youthful energy from incoming college students. Every year, there’s the huge Savannah Music Festival and the Savannah Book Festival featuring well-known artists and authors from all around. In day-to-day life, there is an impressive amount of museums, galleries, and artsy shops to keep you inspired and your creative well full.

5. Nature

Believe it or not, some of my wildest natural sightings have occurred while visiting my mom in Savannah. There’s usually an alligator or two sunning themselves along the banks of the ponds or the edges of golf courses. And there are often cute little turtles basking on the rocks nearby. I’ve seen a few owls up in the trees while out on my trail runs. One time, I even saw the biggest snake of my life sneaking around the outside of the house! My mom lives a bit outside of downtown, so I never know what to expect.

Can’t wait for the next visit back down here.

What To Do with Parents in LA

Hi! I’ve just freshly landed in Australia, but before we get to that, I better tell you about the time in February (too long ago now) when my mom and stepdad came to visit me in LA. It was kind of “cold” for visitors (ie. it was 60 degrees and I had to wear my ski jacket), but they were en route to Cabo, so I didn’t feel too bad. I almost went to Mexico with them, but the hotel they were staying at only had couple’s suites and that would have been a bit too much togetherness for us all. Instead, we had a few days in LA.

We were able to do a lot of the sightseeing stuff that I’d not gotten to yet. I showed them the worst of traffic—only once! They tried In-N-Out (overrated) and a few of LA’s other most fine and trendy eateries, like Sqirl, Republique, Manuela, and Donut Friend (not overrated).

I’m very into building itineraries, so I packed way too many activities into each day. We sprinted around Huntington Gardens, stopped by the Getty Villa, and ate in the Arts District all in one day, which are all in opposite directions if you didn’t know (hence the traffic).

Huntington Botanical Gardens
Getty Villa

I brought my mom to work (aka yoga and Zumba class in Monterey Park) and was wildly impressed that the Zumba teacher made up a special dance with costumes for Chinese New Year. To be a conscientious teacher like that!

24 Hour Fitness Zumba

We saw the Rose Bowl Stadium, which is kind of just there and you can’t go inside, so maybe strike that one off your list if it’s not football season and you aren’t staying in Pasadena.

Rose Bowl Stadium

We had a very Hollywood day when we took a celebrity van tour—so much fun and you must, must do this when you host visitors or are a visitor to the area, if not for the celebrity homes then for the views and for seeing parts of LA that you wouldn’t normally feel like driving to. Then we went to the Pantages Theatre to see Hello, Dolly! where everyone promptly fell asleep because I didn’t calculate our energy levels when planning the ultimate Los Angeles experience. Oh well.

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Overall, it was an amazing few days and I’m so happy they could make the time to stop here before their beach vacation. I love showing people around as well as finding new fun places for myself, so come visit whenever you can!

Scooters & Sea Lions

If your parents, like my dad, ever get tired of visiting you in the city where you live (and to be fair I cannot blame them for LA is a tiring place), a fun thing to do is to meet them in other places and have an adventure for the both of you. My dad attended a weeklong conference in San Diego for work at the end of last month, and, lucky for me, he decided to tack on a few extra days so that we could explore.

Last year, we spent my 30th birthday trip together at Mammoth Mountain, but this time we took a sunnier route… or we mostly intended to, but it’s actually been pretty dreary and cold down here in SoCal for the past month— it even snowed?!

No matter! We didn’t let the rain or grey skies ruin our plans to go out in the Gaslamp District. I put the cap on sober January when we found a trailer park themed bar, and I lost my favorite ring when I got too enthused about arcade basketball.

Trailer Park After Dark

By day, we rented Bird scooters for dad’s first time and took a pretty long ride (for scooter riders) up the coast to La Jolla. We got up close and personal with sea lions. They’re near enough that you can just about reach out and touch them, if you’re in the business of disturbing nature’s peace, so obviously it was the highlight of the trip, if not my entire life.

Sea lions in La Jolla
La Jolla

After we had scootered back down, we took our chances at spotting some whale migrations at the Cabrillo National Monument. Unfortunately, whales were not in the cards for us this trip, but we still saw some pretty nice views of the city.

Cabrillo National Monument

Whale sightings or not, it was an excellent opportunity to spend a weekend out of town and an easy way to get some dad time in. I’m glad we can always find new ways make the most of our time together! I hope you’re finding some joy in these late winter days, too.

America's Favorite Playground

Are you looking for a place where you can lose a lot of your money and where waitstaff will assume your uncle is your husband? Well, don't waste another minute, and get your not-too-fancy self down to Atlantic City.

Atlantic City boardwalk

It's important to see your faraway family members whenever you can, even if it's for a one-day meet up in a strange state, so when Uncle Rick and I learned that we would both be in New Jersey at the same time, we quickly made plans to spend time together. I let slip that I had never been to Atlantic City, so he insisted that we drive down together and check it out. I insisted that we should not, because it would be the 3rd of July with possibly scary levels of beach traffic. But eventually he won me over, mostly due to my curiosity and extremely open schedule. 

Atlantic City pier

And it was.. an experience! Some of the casinos were a little empty for a holiday week, but there was much gambling to be had and, of course, the beach. So we enjoyed a day of strolling and sightseeing while catching up. I can't say that gambling is a number one favorite activity of mine, but it was fun to do something new to check off the list.

Love New York

It's a rainy day at the beach, so I can finally tell you about all the bagels, ballgames, and ballpark-sized hot dogs I've been indulging in around the New York area. Since I'm partial to a life of leisure, I got to come home for an extended stay to visit my sister in her new Queens-Long Island apartment, my dad in Poughkeepsie, my mom in New Jersey, and many gracious friends along the way.

Fort Totten Park

The first half of the trip started and ended in NYC and was supported by a few train rides along the Hudson plus dad's financial contributions to us attending the Yankee game. 

Yankee stadium

And there was an epic quest for ice cream that, thankfully, ended with this:

Grand Slam Shake

I miss sweet cacti and air that doesn't feel so much like a sticky swamp, but nowhere else smells like summer to me quite like it does around here. I hope you're making time in this sunny season for your favorite people and places.

Happy Mother's Day

Moms! They're mostly the best, simply for growing you inside of them for almost a whole year and then usually taking it even further to always be there to answer your frantic string of phone calls when you need something, in spite of the times when you might have ignored all their text messages, phone calls, and voicemails when you didn't need anything. They are putting up with a lot every day!

Mine is the type who will spontaneously come to Delaware, Texas, or California whenever you ask her to, with about two weeks notice or less. She's often the "Why not?" when everyone else around me has said "No" and the "Get both!" when two items at the store are asking me to choose just one. She's a woman who made it so that I never wondered what, as a female, I would be able to do. Jobs, sports, solo travels, equal paychecks, using my voice to speak my mind-- there has never been a doubt that the whole world of possibility is open to me. 

We may not always see eye to eye on things like having health insurance or not needing a cosigner for a housing lease at age 30, but I love her and can't imagine a life without such a fierce lady to guide the way.

Barney's Beanery Bus

Guess what? It's gonna be...

Just kidding, y'all. It's already May. But I did go to see Justin Timberlake on April 30th and, if you are asking me, he missed the chance to turn himself on stage into a living meme.

Of course, the show was still rhythmic and smooth, and I got to dance to "Cry Me a River" next to my mom which was everything I'd hoped it would be and more.

My aunt and cousin flew down from Portland with a group of their family friends, and we spent a little gals' weekend exploring Pasadena. Pasadena is a good place to go if you like nice things and if you like pretending you live in a quaint small city where you can walk places instead of in one of the most sprawling urban metropolises in the world.

We went to Universal Studios on Saturday, which was how you would expect Universal Studios to be on a Saturday, but we really enjoyed ourselves. It turns out that long lines are a great time for catching up with friends and fam. One of the gift shop employees gave us speed passes for the Harry Potter castle ride which really sent our day at the park above and beyond. Thank you gift shop man! It was so nice to have a whole weekend to relax and reconnect with family and new friends.

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Showing Up for Love

I'm just beginning to work my way out of the choco-coma leftover from last week's festivities. Being a solo participant in the holiday is actually not that bad because your friends and family tend to take pity on you and send extra sweets and other good things. Whether as a single person or part of a couple, I've never been someone who hates Valentine's Day. Unless you're in elementary school with a mandated one-card-or-candy-per-classmate policy, you're really never forced to buy anything (get creative! make a craft! go on a picnic!), and it's just a day to tell the special people in your life that you love them. I've been calling it Pal-entine's Day for a long long while now.

This one was not my best February 14th because, when I showed up to the yoga studio to teach my nighttime class, I found that there was a huge pug-themed and pug-filled Valentine's basket waiting on the front desk. If you know me, you probably know that the axis of my life is spinning around those furry, wrinkly balls of joy, but, sadly, the basket included a card addressed to "Mummy" and, thus, was not for me. I was disheartened, but glad it was there to make someone else happy, and I could go on to do some yoga (and eat a lot of chocolate) with my own class.

Romantic valentine or none, I was still showing up in pink clothes with my heart earrings on, and I was still showing up for love-- love for my friends and family who take good care of me, love for life, and just the general idea of love as an energy that exists and propels us toward connecting with each other and being our best selves.

Here's a video if you ever need a little extra:

New Traditions

Actually, this should really be called "no traditions" since we are still figuring out all these new things and haven't developed a routine about it at all. Like I told you already, this was the only year that I didn't go home to see my family for Christmas. One reason was because I scored a remarkable yoga teaching job in Nicaragua, and the other was because Christmas for us has changed a bit over the past couple years.

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Growing up, my sister and I were lucky that our parents kept living near each other after they split up. We always spent the Eve with our dad's family and the Day at our mom's house, and everything was equal and easy-peasy as far as broken homes go. Then everybody got remarried and changed houses, our mom went to live in the Deep South (I guess I did too?), and my aunt and grandma stopped coming down for the holidays. Travel plans to see the whole family became a little more complicated for my sister and me. There was a little bit of a break that probably happens for us all as we age. Christmas wasn't as much "ours" anymore.

But we still wanted it! We're merry and young, and just trying to come up with a way to reconcile all these new schedules and locations. So, last weekend, Elayne and I came together in Boston to turn on Christmas lights, make Grandma's cinnamon rolls (pretty well, I might add!), and pop bottles to celebrate her passing the veterinary board exams. Space was held for yoga, brunch, pedicures, and all those things some sisters do when together. It was a relief to hang onto some traditions, even when the inevitable winds of change have been sweeping in around us.

Cinnamon rolls

Christmas at Casa Lucia

"Are you sad to be spending Christmas away from home?" Everyone has asked me since I found out I'd be spending December here. And yes, of course I'm a little sad! Of course I would rather be at home hanging out with my family! I love my family! My family is awesome! I miss them!

Christmas in Granada, Nicaragua

But you know, getting a job teaching one of your favorite things in a pretty cool place doesn't come around every month, so even when I found out that month was going to be enveloping December 25th, I had to say yes. It's my first time being away from home at this time of year, but it makes me happy to be in a country where the holidays are a pretty big deal. I still get to see lights, Christmas trees, and other decorations in the streets. Eloisa and Danilo have added some sweet little touches around the hotel, too.

I'd always rather be spending Christmas Eve and Day eating pierogi, watching A Christmas Story six times, and catching up with the loved ones I don't get to see very often, but the rest of the month hasn't been so bad. We're working by the pool and playing in the sun-- if it weren't for the ornaments, we might not have known it was winter at all!

Unique New York

I'm always proud to call New York my original home, and I can deliver some pretty haughty side-eyes when people assume I'm from Delaware or New Jersey. The Empire State was a wonderful area to sprout roots, learn, and grow. And now every visit leaves my heart feeling full and a little nostalgic.

Here are some photos from my recent visit to the Hudson Valley, including a yoga dad on his birthday and some meditative romps through the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. Enjoy!

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Live to Learn

Like I told you in the last post, I'm not the greatest of granddaughters, and before my recent trip to Buffalo, it had been quite a while since the last visit to upstate New York to see my grandma. This time, I took advantage of our stay together to convince her to share one of her most powerful areas of expertise: baking cinnamon rolls.

She has long been known throughout our family and her group of friends for her special touch with these tasty spiraled treats. My sister and I share antagonistic photos whenever one of us is lucky enough to get a full pan of her own in the mail. Despite my grandma's desires to spend the trip showing me around the Grand Island Golden Age center, she kindly agreed to spend a day in the kitchen walking me through all the mixing, rising, and rolling steps. And, even though the instructions have never been exact, the batch she guided me through came out pretty deliciously!

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As the people we love grow older and begin to downsize in their living spaces, it's usually inevitable that we'll end up inheriting some of their precious possessions. Even better than the invaluable antique jewelry and multi-generational family heirlooms are the pieces of knowledge we can pick up along the way. A few years ago, my grandma taught me how to crochet, and now I think of her anytime I'm working on a project. And I've only made a few pierogi on my own, but I'll never forget holidays spent making them in a flour-filled kitchen with my aunt and uncle. It's a reward on two levels: you get to spend a special time together learning the craft, and then end up with lifelong memories that spring up whenever you decide to attempt it on your own. While I might not have perfected the kneading and measuring processes yet, it makes my heart happy that my grandma had the time to pass her unrivaled ability along to me. Hopefully I'll get to carry it with me for a long, long while, even if I'd rather not know how much powdered sugar ends up in the glaze.

Disclaimer: I did also come away with more than a few vintage skirts from the guest room closet, so don't go thinking that this post is wholly immaterial.

Found in Ft. Worth

Nowadays, my family looks a lot different than the mom, dad, sister, and me stick figure drawings I used to sketch out back in grade school. As the years have gone by, it's expanded to include many new faces-- related and non-- who spread far and wide across the country and, occasionally, around the world. Regardless of how untraditional our clan looks today, it's pretty cool that a few weeks ago I was able to drive to North Texas for a mini-family reunion. Sometimes you end up where you never could have expected, and it seems to make the most sense of all.

Side note to Austinites who understandably think it would be silly to venture out of Austin to visit another Texan city: It seems like the Ft. Worth part of DFW might have some cool stuff, too! There were lots of breweries, music, and apartment complexes that look eerily similar to the ones here. Come for the professional sports teams, stay for the beer and tattoos.

Oh yeah, and happy 4th of July y'all!

Family Firsts

I'm very thankful that my mom was able to come visit last weekend. This was her fourth or fifth time in Austin, but we always manage to find different things to do, like trying new restaurants and checking out art. I'll be returning to many of those places as soon as possible (looking at you, Round Top!) It was nice to have a piece of home here for a few days.