valentine’s day gift guide for the ladies!

yesterday, i highlighted my favorite valentine’s day gifts for the man on the move.  today, i’ve brought together my favorite finds for the jet-setting ladies in your life.  i love every single one of these items, especially that vintage travel poster of the french riviera (dreaming of beach scenes from blustery wintery dallas right now).  i’m also intrigued by the “lost in translation” book that compiles beautiful words from around the world that do not translate into a single word in english – what a wonderful reflection on the different global cultures and the language required to communicate their unique characteristics.  happy valentine’s day!

valentines-day-gift-guide-women

1. lost in translation, $14.99  2. marlo crossbody bag from j. crew in neon orange, $98  3. adventure print from blackstar press, $15 for 8×10, not including frame  4. cedar street passport holder from kate spade, $78  5. 1950s vintage French travel poster from poster romance, $366.30  6. b&o play h8 noise cancellation wireless over ear headphones, $499  7. the transport tote from madewell (monogrammable!), $168  8. jet set candle in “bali” scent from jonathan adler, $28  9. the 500 hidden secret of paris, $25

valentine’s day gift guide for the gents!

it’s that time of year again when love is in the air!  <3   if you’re looking for something nice for the man who loves to get out of town, then look no further.  see below for a few of my favorite gifts for the man on the go.  i especially love that gorgeous time traveler watch from steven alan that allows the wearer to follow two time zones.  perfect for the long distance romance, as well?  enjoy!

valentines-day-travel-giftguide-men

1. travel cocktail kit from stephen kenn, $295 2. zebra animalia tray by jonathan adler, $118  3. time traveler watch from steven alan (program in two time zones!), $385  4. must eat nyc book, $24.95  5. the gentleman’s manicure kit, $27  6. neighborhood european map coasters (pictured: berlin), $36  7. 8×8 seattle print from archie’s press (many, many more cities available on his etsy shop), $22

stay tuned for an upcoming post on favorite gifts for the jet-setting ladies in your life!

my jaunts: mississippi

with only 18,000 residents, clarksdale, mississippi is the blues capital of the world

with only 18,000 residents, clarksdale, mississippi is the blues capital of the world

mississippi was one of the most memorable places we visited during our road trip of the deep south.  i wasn’t expecting this, as mississippi had never held a particular interest to me. yet here we were, snaking our way south along the mississippi river from memphis to vicksburg, through oxford first, then south through the mighty delta, with stops in clarksdale and yazoo city, before stoping in vicksburg for the night.  each stop was different from the last, but they all had one thing in common: you can only find these places in mississippi.  they are like nowhere else; a visit will surprise you.

downtown yazoo city

downtown yazoo city

oxford

oxford is one of those places that you can’t make up.  home of ole miss and southern gentility, it is also the literary home of the south.  we arrived mid-morning after an hour and a half drive from memphis and immediately drove to big bad breakfast for some classic diner eats.  this restaurant is run by the same people who opened city grocery (among others), an oxford staple housed on the town square.  the coffee was excellent and the spicy bacon was even better.  i highly recommend.

big bad breakfast in oxford, mississippi

big bad breakfast in oxford, mississippi

next we drove to the town square, where we visited three book stores: square books, off square books, and square books, jr.  square books is the grandfather of all bookstores in town and sits on a street corner that allows its second-floor porch to wrap leisurely around the building.  inside, the store is crowded with shelves, with books tucked in every possible square inch of space (my favorite kind of book store).  the second floor has a section devoted to local writers, with an entire aisle devoted to faulkner, who modeled his fictional town of yoknapatawpha county on oxford (faulkner’s home, rowan oak, is just south of town and open to the public).  i picked up an american insurrection, a book about james meredith and his fight to be the first black student at ole miss; the book was written by william doyle and was described by the employee as the single most important book written about oxford (bold claim?).  i’ll keep you posted.  we also stopped off at square book’s lifestyle book store, off square books, and their children’s book store, square books, jr., where i purchased the first two books for my son (who was still only the size of a small orange inside of me).

square books in oxford, mississippi

square books in oxford, mississippi – a true literary delight

before heading out of town, we drove through ole miss, seeing the famous grove where chandeliers are hung for football tailgates and fans dress more like they are attending easter church rather than an SEC conference game.  we saw the statue of james meredith, which made me even more eager to read the book i puchased at square books.  the inscription reads “courage,” “perseverance,” “oppportunity,” and “knowledge.”  with that, we waved goodbye, and headed southwest to the delta.

the statue of james meredith walking onto the campus of ole miss

the statue of james meredith walking onto the campus of ole miss

the delta

there is a saying i’ve often heard, to “thank god for mississippi,” because it means there is always a state lower than yours (unless, of course, you live in mississippi) in any type of positive measurement (test scores, graduation rates, health care, etc.).  not a great reflection of this southern state, and surely one that has tarnished its reputation over the years.  as we drove south through the delta, i saw a surprising number of sturdy, nice looking houses, small yet pleasant and all similar looking.  it took me about a hundred miles before i realized they all looked similar due to being government housing.  the people of the delta live and die by the state of the river; one bad year and there’s no money for anyone.  knowing that, and the  frustrating history of its slave-owning plantations, i understood how the blues were created deep in the heart of this fertile ground.

driving south through the mississippi delta

driving south through the mississippi delta

i had read that the drive down route 61 through the delta was one of the most beautiful in the US.  it is selected as a “best of the road” drive in my atlas, and kate spade’s “places to go, people to see” noted it as one of the top 15 scenic routes. however, our drive from a scenic standpoint was slightly disappointing (perhaps overhyped?).  while the open road and low crops lining the road were pleasant, it was not the beautiful horizon i had hoped for; perhaps may was the wrong time of year to drive through and another month with larger crops would be more beautiful.  the draw is definitely the people and towns along the way.

clarksdale

i had read about clarksdale in 36 hours, so we decided to make a stop.  this is the most bizarre town i’ve ever visited – seemingly in the middle of nowhere, with no thriving commerce to speak of, but clarksdale still thrives; not on industry, but on blues.  it is here that blues guitarist robert johnson is rumored to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for the gift of blues.  a drive into the small town of just under 18,000 reveals a cobblestoned downtown that boasts the delta blues museum, several great restaurants, antiques stores, and cat head, a store filled with local artwork and hundreds of blues albums.  upon entering cat head, we were greeted by the sound of the longing blues, only to turn around and see that the shopkeeper was strumming his own guitar behind the counter – he later turned out, like most people in the south, to be a gifted storyteller, having a colorful story for every  album and photograph inside the store.

cat head delta blues and folk art in downtown clarksdale, mississippi

cat head delta blues and folk art in downtown clarksdale, mississippi

while most people (myself included) know that bbq rules the south’s stomach, i did not know about the importance of hot tamales.  and yes, i live in texas and eat my fair share of this husked delight, but i had no idea that tamales were such a part of the deep south (read more about hot tamales in the south here).  we stopped at hick’s, which was closed for dine-in, but the employee that day insisted we come in, as he directed us away from the drive-thru lane and unlocked the dining room.  if you’re ever passing through, do not pass up the mississippi hot tamale – they are smaller than the texas variety, so order several, and prepare yourself for some heat – these are no joke.

the back alleys of clarksdale, mississippi

the back alleys of clarksdale, mississippi

yazoo city and beyond

we briefly stopped in yazoo city as it is the hometown of my husband’s favorite writer, willie morris.  in his book, “north toward home” he tells his story of growing up in yazoo city and then leaving to become a writer in new york city.  what a change.  we didn’t get out of the car, but yazoo had a colorful and quaint downtown and seemingly a lot of churches (#biblebelt). we headed south again to vicksburg, a civil war town nestled on the banks of the mississippi, but at this point we were too tired to explore either the battle sites or the river.  should you find yourself in southern mississippi, another potential stop is biloxi, a town on the gulf with a shady strip of casinos, and the site of a husband and wife murder that is detailed in the book, mississippi mud, which i picked up at a book store in memphis.  what drama – it reads like fiction and tells the story of the true murders that killed vince sherry (a high-powered judge) and his wife, margaret, who was about to run for mayor.  without giving too much away, the story takes you through the biloxi goverment, hit men hired for murder, and multiple con men serving time in angola prison in louisiana; extremely difficult (and frightening) that this is non-fiction.

scenes from yazoo city

scenes from yazoo city

who should go: lovers of books, blues, and americana
what to read: the golden apples by eudora welty, an american insurrection by william doyle, north toward home by willie morris, mississippi mud by edward humes, practically anything by faulkner
what to listen to: muddy waters, sam cooke, ike turner

the famous grove at ole miss - this time, with no tailgaters

the famous grove at ole miss – this time, with no tailgaters

a southern jaunt: a road trip through the southern united states

southern-jaunt-2015

last spring, my husband and i traveled through the southern united states on a road trip.  4000 miles, nine states, and 17 cities later, we had seen a part of the country that we had never seen before.  the trip deserves multiple posts, but an overview is also in order.  starting in dallas we headed west to hot springs, arkansas, detoured in little rock for a quick trip to the clinton library, then headed north to memphis for several days.  in memphis, we visited the civil rights museum, which would unknowingly create a lens through which we viewed every city visited henceforth.  truly, truly a gem.  after learning about the roots of rock-n-roll and starting what would be a long study into southern bbq, we headed south into mississippi.

the civil rights museum in memphis, tennessee, at the site where mlk jr. was shot

the civil rights museum in memphis, tennessee, at the site where mlk jr. was shot

in one day, we paused briefly in oxford to visit the south’s literary capital and buy a few books at the fabulous square books store on the square, then headed southwest to clarksdale, the (probably official?) blues capital of the world. a brief description of this unbelievable town will not do it justice, so i will reserve my words for a later post.  snaking further south through the delta, we arrived in yazoo city, home of my husband’s favorite author, willie morris, before heading further south to vicksburg to stay the night.  if you have not previously visited mississippi, and also not visited the delta, it is a must.  if you don’t believe me, anthony bourdain has an episode on the delta that may just change your mind; it is very much like no where else.  it is here where i started reading eudora welty’s, the golden apples, a novel from 1949 about a fictional town in mississippi.  after visiting the civil rights museum in memphis, the book (and our travels) took on a new meaning: the south’s past is troubled and its future is somewhat complicated.  i went ahead and purchased a book about james meredith, ole miss’s first black student who risked his life for equal education, and wondered how that happened only 53 years ago.  who can tell what the next 50 years will hold?

a view of the square in oxford, mississippi as seen from the balcony of square books store

a view of the square in oxford, mississippi as seen from the balcony of square books store

venturing east the next morning, we stopped in tuscaloosa for (more) bbq before a brief stop for croissants and a visit to the oldest baseball stadium in america in birmingham, alabama.  we ended the day with family in atlanta, where the heaviness of the south was refreshingly lifted in the urban city and things seemed to return to normal for a couple of days.  driving into atlanta, we explored inman park (spoiler alert: loved), and lounged in the botanical gardens while reading more welty.

a quick jaunt to the inman park neighborhood of atlanta - very walkable and full of unique shops and restaurants

a quick jaunt to the inman park neighborhood of atlanta – very walkable and full of unique shops and restaurants

following several days of relaxation with family, we headed northeast to charleston, where the south reigned again.  charleston is a lovely city that almost seems fake (similar to the feeling i had when visiting georgetown, dc); it is filled with gorgeous colonial houses, cobblestone streets, and preppy boys donning sea green chino shorts with embroidered lobsters.  the food was amazing, as expected (bourdain’s been here, too), and we had an excellent tour guide in my husband’s lovely aunt.  the sea views were also quite refreshing – there is just nothing like the smell of salt water and the sound of crashing waves.

the picturesque college of charleston

the picturesque college of charleston

at this point, we were about halfway through our jaunt, so decided to head back.  turning westward, we also looked north and several hours later arrived in chapel hill, north carolina.  i do not even know where to begin with north carolina.  it is divine, and by far my favorite state of the trip.  lush, green, hilly, and clean (so clean!), still firmly rooted in the south, but with a bit of yankee sense.  we explored chapel hill, raleigh, and durham with the help of old friends, and then further explored winston-salem with even more friends.  what a fabulous place.  heading west from winston-salem, we entered the much-anticipated blue ridge parkway, the highway that snakes through the appalachian mountains.  this is an absolute must-visit for anyone who lives in the US (no excuses), and i do hope i can return some day for the fall foliage.  we ended our north carolina jaunt with a night in asheville, which is basically the next denver or austin (just wait) and also happened to feature the most amazing restaurant at which i’ve eaten in quite some time: curaté.  if you love spanish tapas, this place is the real deal.  much more on this gem later.

a quick break along the blue ridge parkway to take in the breathtaking views

a quick break along the blue ridge parkway to take in the breathtaking views

it is around this time that we began to tire of our nomadic life (shocker!). while i like to fancy myself an expert traveler, there really is no place like home.  we headed west through the gorgeous appalachians to nashville, where we spent several days exploring all of the hipster locales (i can’t wait to write about our adventures here) and ordering in food at night to rest our weary minds.  one last stop in fayetville and rogers, arkansas to see the absolutely stunning crystal bridges museum before we headed home.  this stop was a last minute decision and we almost nixed it due to our desire to head home,  but it was so close and i had heard such great things about the museum (founded by the walmart heiress, alice walton, from her personal collection), that we ultimately decided to add the extra night.  best decision of the trip.  this is a world class collection in a stunning building in the most unlikely place.  it is also free.  and did i mention stunning?  seriously, so very thrilled this level of art has been brought to middle america; everyone deserves access to the arts and this truly does not disappoint.  go!

inside the stunning crystal bridges museum in bentonville, arkansas

inside the stunning crystal bridges museum in bentonville, arkansas

after 15 days on the road, we headed back to dallas to our happy home.  what did i learn through my time in the south?  it’s complicated.  many places seem to still hold on to their storybook (for some) past, though those places are starting to see the futility of this choice.  while many places have since taken down the confederate flag, it still flies high in others.  the more urban areas have changed dramatically and offer truly exciting experiences with a diverse demographic.  nashville is no longer just for country lovers, and atlanta is much more than a cement-laden sprawling suburbia.  people are returning from the north to take advantage of more affordable costs of living and bringing with them new ideas and commerce that is changing the southern stereotypes.  i have a lot of hope for the south, and can’t wait to see what mississippi and north carolina are going to turn out in the next ten years.  but if you haven’t ever visited, do yourself a favor and plan some time soaking in the southern experience; it will definitely surprise you.

where are some of your favorite places in the south?

the gallery wall at the hatch show print shop, a local nashville institution

the gallery wall at the hatch show print shop, a local nashville institution

back in business

a parisian jaunt

a parisian jaunt

whoa boy.  not sure how this happened, but it has been seven months since my last jaunt post.  seven months!  i’ve missed writing so much, and after renewing my website for the next three years (we’re somewhat committed now), i felt like i may as well get my money’s worth out of it and write a few more posts.  let’s be honest, it’s my happy place.

as it turns out, some big things have been going on behind the scenes.  for starters, i’m expecting a baby boy in one month.  one month!  big news and the prep for said baby has taken up a significant amount of my free time (turns out you have to be prepared for another human to enter your life).  this is our first, so if any of you out there have any tips, they are all welcome.

quick shot in leuven, belgium after climbing the stairs to the library's bell tower.

quick shot in leuven, belgium after climbing the stairs to the library’s bell tower.

you’d think that would mean our travels would come to halt, but au contraire, mes amies.  in the time since i last wrote in march, my husband and i took a road trip across the american south, including arkansas, mississippi, alabama, georgia, south carolina, north carolina, and tennessee.  it was fantastic and i can’t wait to share my favorite spots with you.

one of many stops for the breath-taking views along the blue ridge parkway.

one of many stops for the breath-taking views along the blue ridge parkway.

then in july, we boarded a flight and headed to europe for one of the best vacations i’ve ever taken!  we visited friends in belgium, braved the unbelievably cold (and wet!) weather of amsterdam (one of my favorite cities now), partied at an amazing german wedding in stuttgart, and had an incredibly perfect week in paris.  i was not ready to come home to reality, but alas it happened.  such an unforgettable trip with so many new sites – much, much more to come on that.

the most delightful bar at the hotel du nord brasserie in paris.

the most delightful bar at the hotel du nord brasserie in paris.

finally, i’ve been traveling a lot for both work and family events – short trips to houston, san antonio, phoenix, tulsa, washington dc, and glen rose have made the summer a true delight.  fact: being pregnant does not mean travel ends (in fact, you actually get to skip a lot of lines during peak tourist season).  i’m finished with travel for the next few months, but excited to see what this new adventure in the form of an alien-like newborn has in store for me.  stay tuned for posts from the past seven months and hopefully some posts of the adventures of getting out and exploring with baby.

a piece of the berlin wall at the newseum in washington, dc.

a piece of the berlin wall at the newseum in washington, dc.

cheers!

my jaunts: 22 hours in new orleans

beats and jazz at maison on frenchman street

beats and jazz at maison on frenchman street

last week, i found myself in new orleans for exactly 22 hours.  per my flight itinerary, it was 23 hours, but that sneaky daylight savings time robbed me of an hour sometime during my two hours of “sleep” before i had to head to the airport.  i was in town for my sister-in-law’s bachelorette party, and fell in love all over again with the crazy city (city? does that even adequately describe the crazy hodgepodge that new orleans is?).  it has that vibe that i tried to explain a couple of months ago, that slaps you in the face the moment you leave the airport.  it’s poor but vibrant, seemingly down and up at the same time.

jazz, tourists, poverty. #neworleans

jazz, tourists, poverty. #neworleans

the 22 hours included a mix of typical new orleans events that may not be so normal elsewhere.  al fresco jazz brunch with morning bloodies and crawfish étouffée.  a second line wedding parade through the french quarter.  palm readings.

a second line wedding parade through the french quarter

a second line wedding parade through the french quarter

time for brunch and bloodies

time for brunch and bloodies

meeting adrian, an artist in the midst of his self-proclaimed mid-life crisis, with his enterprising dog who encourages his customers to “buy more art.”  watching hipsters practice a strange yet hypnotizing mix of yoga and acrobatics in jackson square.  enterprising break dancing and eclectic locals.

buy more art, people. specifically, from this guy.

buy more art, people. specifically, from this guy.

mesmerized by these guys at jackson square

mesmerized by these guys at jackson square

fried alligator and fried shrimp po’boys and abita beer.  creole mansions on esplanade avenue.  jazz on frenchman street, but most importantly the hybrid jazz/r&b/hip-hop that i fell in love with last summer at maison.  beads and cobblestones and lights and laughter.  but mainly, all that jazz.

the slick skillet serenaders

the slick skillet serenaders

french quarter still life

french quarter still life

twenty-two hours isn’t much, but it was enough to get under my skin a bit before returning to the real world.

bright day in the quarter

bright day in the quarter

the daily french quarter clean-up

the daily french quarter clean-up

travel tips: how to plan your best road trip

how-to-plan-a-road-trip

this time of year is my “busy season” at work, which doesn’t leave me much time (read: no time) to travel. but i have one busy season tradition that carries me through the long hours and weekends of work: the planning of the post-busy season trip.

last weekend, dallas had the most perfect weather, so my husband and i spread out the blankets in the backyard, played some music, and brought out my atlas to plan our spring road trip.  i’ve been dying to take a road trip across the southern US, and to finally visit some friends and family who live along the way.  planning road trips is one of my most favorite things to do, so i thought i would share some of my tips for planning fantastic road trips:

a perfect saturday: blanket, pug, atlas, and wanderlust

a perfect saturday: blanket, pug, atlas, and wanderlust

1. start with an atlas – looking at an atlas gives me ideas for scenic detours and sites to see that i may have missed.  kate spade’s travel book, places to go, people to see, mentioned that the drive from memphis, tn to vicksburg, ms is stunning, so we looked it up on the atlas.  guess what’s nearby?  yazoo city, home of willie morris, my husband’s favorite author.  note to self: detour to yazoo city on day three.  atlases will also list approximate driving times between cities, which comes in handy while planning number of days on the road.

2. stalk pinterest – set up a board for your road trip locations, and pin away as you research places to see.  map traveled to nashville recently, and i pinned most of the places they went to my tennessee board.  a friend at work recently gave me a magazine article on memphis, so i pinned the places that looked cool to me.  pinterest provides a great way to store ideas from all over the web in one place so you don’t forget.  if you’re looking for ideas on locations, check out my pinterest boards (organized by state and country) and also my road trip board for inspiration.

pinning by state has helped me plan the road trip - so many cool places i've pinned in the past that i had forgotten about!

pinning by state has helped me plan the road trip – so many cool places i’ve pinned in the past that i had forgotten about!

3. create a list on your phone – as you’re planning, you’ll hear suggestions from friends or through media that you’ll want to remember.  keeping a list on your phone will help you remember those tips since you can jot them down when someone suggests a place (that’s how i remembered kate spade’s recommendation for the memphis to vicksburg drive).

4. start reading! – i love themed reading.  i think this started when i read cannery road while visiting monterey, california – it brought so much life and history to the places i was seeing, that i was hooked.  if you’re looking for ideas on what to read during your travels, check out book lust to go by nancy pearl – she recommends books based on your travel destinations (genius).  for our road trip, i’m adding to my list john steinbeck’s travels with charley and william least heat-moon’s roads to quoz: an american mosey.

upcoming road trip reads

upcoming road trip reads

5. check out what the new york times has to say from 36 hours – i wrote an entire post on my love for 36 hours.  check it out and then read it before every trip you ever take (including short business trips).

6. plan your nights – book your hotels, b&b’s, stays with friends, etc. in advance.  start with your budget to understand how much to spend per night, and then see if you have any friends or family along the way that you can stay with (don’t forget to pack hostess gifts, if so).  some of my favorite bookings sites are airbnb and jetsetter.  don’t forget about any hotel points you may have saved up that could give you a free night (or two!) at a national chain.

the stops on our summer road trip - most excited for yazoo city, mississippi and the blue ridge parkway in appalachia

the stops on our summer road trip – most excited for yazoo city, mississippi and the blue ridge parkway in appalachia

7. leave room for improv – as an accountant, i like to plan down to the minute.  this can make for some stressful travel experiences.  one thing i’ve learned is to build in some time to improv, an extra day to go where i want, a half-day to explore a new part of the city, etc.  one time while driving to LA from dallas, we saw a sign on I-40 for the petrified forest.  excuse me?  detour!  we spent a couple of hours looking at the craziest petrified wood (how is this possible?!) before jumping back on the interstate and heading west.

stay tuned for future posts on best road trip apps, and how to pack your car for the best road trip.  for now, fill me in on any of your best tips for planning road trips – i’d love to hear them!

travel-themed valentine’s day gifts for the ladies in your life

travel-themed valentine's day gifts for women

1. leather travel collection from aspinal of london, from $325  2. rose gold eye mask, $38  3. mexico: the cookbook, phaidon, $49.95  4. ban.do iphone 5 charger, $30  5. imaginenations flower power globe, $450  6. kate spade’s places to go, people to see, $40

aaaaaand i’m back!  with more travel-themed valentine’s day gifts, this time for the ladies in your life (click here for monday’s gift guide for the guys).  go the route of jewelry and flowers if you must, but wouldn’t it be so much fun to give a sense of adventure instead? a few travel necessities caught my eye, including the luxurious leather travel set from aspinal of london (*swoon*), the rose gold eye mask from anthropologie (this is a must for red-eye flights, as i’ve mentioned before here), and the heart-covered ban.do phone charger for when you’re out on the go (if you hate hearts, there is also an adorable pink and gold version here).

to inspire you for more adventure, i highly recommend kate spade’s “places to go, people to see” and phaidon’s “mexico: the cookbook.” i received “places to go, people to see” for christmas, and cannot put it down – it has everything from city guides to the best hotel cocktails to what to buy locally in cities around the globe.  plus, the photography is amazing (i keep fighting the urge to rip out pages and frame them).  my mother-in-law received “mexico: the cookbook” from my sister-in-law after her recent jaunt to san miquel de allende, and holy tamale, this book is amazing.  filled with pages of recipes and photos of the most amazing food you ever did see, this book has me wanting to hop on a plane and head south asap.

finally, i couldn’t resist including another imaginenations product.  wendy gold is so talented and i want every single thing on her website, including this stunning painted globe.  she personalizes both globes and maps (including push-pin maps to track your travels), and i can’t think of a better way to get inspired for future adventures.

what are some of your favorite travel-related gifts?

travel-themed valentine’s day gifts for the guys in your life

travel-themed gifts for the guys in your life

1. where chefs eat, phaidon, $24.95  2. the everlane twill weekender, $95  3. big sur backpacker’s cologne by juniper ridge, $60  4. owen & fred hey handsome shaving kit bag, $68  5. imaginenations personalized world travels push pin map, $145  6. f-8 club member photo print by gi artlab, $84.99

whether you love it or hate it, valentine’s day is back.  i love valentine’s, and always have, even though i was rarely with a date when the day rolled around each year.  to celebrate this year, i’ve compiled two travel-themed gift guides for your loved ones, whether they be significant others, friends, or family.  first up: the guys.

i keep seeing the book, where chefs eat, all over the internet, and would love to flip through it.  it chronicles the best restaurants around the world, as chosen by chefs.  yes, please!  for the adventurers out there, i love these teensy “backpacking colognes” from juniper ridge that are   made from trail scents and will tuck away into tiny spaces.  if the big sur scent is anything like big sur itself, i am in.  throw in the quirky moose tourist print from gi artlab, and i’m already dreaming of hiking through the pacific northwest. of course most men could use an update to their travel gear, and the everlane weekender and owen & fred dopp kit will do just that (and if you haven’t checked out everlane yet, please do so – they are making great products responsibly).  finally, the wall travel map is from my favorite, imaginenations, which sells stunning maps and artistic globes (and delightful note cards that i received for christmas).  track past and future travels on pins, and start dreaming of faraway lands.

do you have any favorite travel-related gifts?  stay tuned for wednesday’s post for my favorite gifts for the girls.

my favorites: 8 stunning views

bixby bridge in big sur, california

bixby bridge in big sur, california

every year around this time, i start to get a bit of cabin fever.  it’s officially “busy season” for me at work, and i leave civilization for awhile and hibernate in conference rooms around the dallas metroplex.  inevitably, the travel itch comes along as i dream of warmer weather, exotic locations, and – due to lack of windows in the aforementioned conference rooms – a better view.

central california: farm to rail to sea.

central california: farm to rail to sea.

there’s no sense in fighting it, so i’ve compiled a few of my favorite views from my travels.  seeing these sights in person have produced gasps, “ah ha!” moments, a bewilderment at this crazy amazing place we call earth, and a larger-than-i’d-like-to-admit terrifying fear of heights.  enjoy the views, and please let me know some of your favorites that i’ve missed!

the view of cape town from table mountain

the view of cape town from table mountain

my husband and i traveled to south africa this past summer, and absolutely fell in love with the country.  read more about my trip to cape town (and table mountain!) here.

new york, as seen from brooklyn.

new york, my love, as seen from brooklyn. it doesn’t get better than this. period.

a year ago,during a work trip to new york, i fought the urge to stay in manhattan and crossed the river to brooklyn for the entire weekend, and was more than pleasantly surprised.  more brooklyn tidbits here.

santorini, aka my favorite place the whole entire world.

santorini, aka my favorite place the whole entire world.

ok, so santorini seems fake.  the photos that look fake?  they’re not.  the entire island looks exactly this perfect (at least, when it’s not erupting).  read more about santorini here.  spoiler alert: it will steal your heart.

barcelona, as seen from park guell

barcelona, as seen from park guell

barcelona is a city of color and life and art.  my best friend and i visited two years ago and it has stayed with me since.  if you only have a limited amount of time in europe, this is a must-see city.  you can read more about my favorites in barcelona here and here.

oregon pine trees, as seen from the window of our train, en route to seattle from los angeles

oregon pine trees, as seen from the window of our train, en route to seattle from los angeles

the amtrak from los angeles to seattle was so unique and reminiscent of bygone days that i keep dreaming of my next train trip.  read more about the adventure here.

the stunning mcway falls in big sur, california

the stunning mcway falls in big sur, california. this was one of my favorite vacations to date…must write about it soon!