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travel | africa

Back in January, we bit the bullet and booked a trip to Africa. It’s been on our bucket list for some time and we realized that it was only going to get more difficult to take this kind of trip. We worked with a close friend’s mom from Adventure to Africa to put this once in a lifetime trip together.

Our adventure began with a quick three hour drive up to Baltimore on Friday morning to drop the pup off with her doting grandparents. Around 9pm that evening, we started the long 36 hour journey to Africa.

By Sunday afternoon, we finally arrived in the South African bush and made our way out to our lodge which was on the Timbavati Nature Reserve (connected without a fence to Kruger National Park). We decided to stay at Shindzela Tented Safari Camp for a few reasons. The “glamping” atmosphere seemed a little more doable to us (vs. straight camping) but we also didn’t want to go for the “full glam” experience of a 5-star resort in the middle of the bush. This was a happy medium and we loved it. It’s incredibly affordable which is another bonus. Some highlights include private cabins/tents that are cozy, clean, and warm. Additionally, the lodge is not fenced in and the animals can (and do!) roam right through the camp. We regularly spotted lion tracks just outside our door in the morning.

Each morning around 6am we would head out for the morning game drive which was so cozy and exciting. We’d make a quick stop in the bush for coffee or cocoa and then be on our way spotting animals again. In the evening, we’d head out around 3:30pm and do the same. The whole experience was literally WILD. It’s hard to put into words how magnificent it is to see these kinds of animals just basically LIVING in their natural habitat. We saw all of the Big Five with hours of being in Africa. A seriously unforgettable experience. A zillion more animal photos here.

After four nights in South Africa, we moved on to a nice, relaxing beach town in Mozambique. We stayed at Bahia Mar Club which we truly enjoyed (so cheap for Americans!). The scenery was stunning but the poverty is a shocking. There is definitely a “them vs. us” feel staying at a resort like this in a community that depends on tourism as it’s #1 industry. We were very conscious of that.

Overall it was an unforgettable trip and I’m so glad we were able to make it happen. If you can handle 2 days of travel on either end of your trip then put Africa at the top of your list!

 

 

saving dinnertime with hello fresh

I’ve tried other meal services like this in the past and wasn’t very impressed. There was so much packaging, it wasn’t very organized, and the recipes involved too many steps and didn’t end up being very delicious.

It’s been a couple years since I last tried it and I was intrigued by a newer company, Hello Fresh. Their meals looked delicious, healthy, and like something I would normally eat during the week. I also had a coupon for $40 off so I figured I would give it a try.

We’ve now been using Hello Fresh for three weeks and have really enjoyed it. We get our delivery on Saturday and we order 3 meals. We usually make a meal Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday and then either eat out or from the freezer on Thursday/Friday. This schedule has worked out really well for us and make the beginning of the week so easy. We just make a quick grocery store run for some breakfast and lunch staples.

So far we have loved 90% of the meals we’ve ordered. The ingredients are freshly packed, one box per meal, which makes organizing the ingredients so easy. Most meals take less than 45min to cook and they are recipes that I would definitely consider making again. Additionally, there is no waste which is usually my main complaint when making a complex recipe during the week. The portions are generous for two people.

I would definitely recommend giving it a try. I also have a coupon that will get you $40 off your first box which means you’ll only spend $20 on dinners for three nights! Use this code: U4P23G when you checkout.

travel | Santa Fe, NM

We took a quick little trip over President’s Day weekend to get together with friends in Santa Fe, NM. I’ve never really spent much time in the southwest and I was excited to spend some quality time with our couple friends from business school. We stayed at a family house and made some breakfasts and dinners at the house but I’ll share all the other foodie things and activities below.


maternity photos | julia + baby

I had such a blast taking these photos of Julia and her husband (and their little one on the way!). Julia lives below us in our little house in Cville and she is just the sweetest. I’ll be forever thankful that we got such amazing neighbors when we moved here and I’m thrilled to call Julia a dear friend.

Now, feast your eyes on all of this beauty!

monday musings | 122

Pippin Hill Vineyard
>> A whole bunch of smaller, lifestyle bloggers that I follow have recently closed their doors. Something about that has been making me feel uneasy because I, too, did the same thing around this time last year. I made the blog private and decided I didn’t want so much of my life to live on the internet. I also struggle with “the need to post” but then get frustrated when I feel like I can’t write a post because I’ve been silent for too long. Basically, I feel like the blog is stagnating and I don’t know which direction to go. I either need to invest more time (try to monetize, get ads/sponsorships, post more regularly) or I feel like I need to shut it down. I’m just not sure an in between option exists. What do you think??


>> We’ve been having some really solid weekends really soaking up the beautiful weather and taking advantage of all things fall. We made some trips out to the country to sample wine and cider as well as spending some quality time outside with the pup.

>> I scooped up a bunch of treasures during the Sephora VIB sale and decided to deem the whole order “totally acceptable because I will just have C put all these things in my stocking”. Done and done. Would you want to see a round up of what I got?

>> We have been getting much more strategic with Christmas shopping lately. We’ll be out somewhere and we’ll pick up a gift WAY in advance of the holiday and then soon enough, we have a whole bunch of loot stashed away in a closet saved up for Christmas gifts. It’s really ideal but can become tricky when you start forgetting what you’ve purchased. What is the BEST holiday gift you ever gave (or received!)?

>> I made my annual batch of party mix on Saturday and it made the whole house smell like heaven. I have already eaten my weight in the stuff but calories don’t count when you’re eating holiday food right?

>> I’m SO excited to head to Baltimore later this week for Thanksgiving with C’s family. It is always such a treat to kick back and spend some quality time with them. We also always see the friend group (and all the kiddos!) which is never boring. I’m already counting down the minutes. We’re also going to have some pictures taken with the pup!


monday musings | 121

>> We took advantage of the beautiful weather on Sunday to make a stop at Carter Mountain Orchard to pick up some apples, apple cider donuts, and hot apple cider. It’s so pretty up there and there were still changing leaves! I took home our bounty with plans to make apple butter in the crockpot. It’s really so easy. Here’s what I did:

Apple Butter (in the slow cooker)

  • Add chopped apples to slow cooker (you can leave the skins on) and add brown sugar (to your liking), cinnamon, clove, vanilla, pinch of salt, and some lemon juice. 
  • Cook on low for 8-12 hours depending on how many apples you have (you really can’t over cook – I did this overnight).
  • Blend apples with an immersion blender or traditional blender until very smooth. 
  • To make thicker, cook for another hour on low with the lid ajar. 
It came out so delicious!! No need to buy it ever again and you can flavor it however you like. It’s great on toast, waffles, oatmeal, ice cream, or even with a spoon!

>> Haven woke up with this horrible cough on Sunday that we thought might be kennel cough. After a trip to the vet though, she got a clean bill of health! She’ll be headed back in a few weeks for “the big operation”.

>> Pop over to my instagram if you want to see my new lavender highlights!

>> My first ThredUp bag was sold and I made $65! I already have another one on the way in now that I’m transitioning to a capsule wardrobe.

>> Speaking of capsule wardrobes, I’m really excited about this. I’ve always wanted to try it but felt like it was previously too complicated. Now that I work from home, I felt like this was the perfect time to simplify. My wardrobe for the next 3 months now consists of about 20 sweaters and tees, 5 pairs of pants, 5 pairs of shoes, and two jackets. Interested in seeing a full post on this? Let me know!

>> I’m really excited that after a brief hiatus in the kitchen, I’m back at it again and feeling re-inspried to get out my cookbooks and plan for the week. This weekend I made Jessica’s Turkey & White Bean enchiladas and they were SO delicious. Just as good as leftovers as well!

>> Along with cleaning out clothes, I have been seriously streamlining my makeup. I have a thing for hoarding lip products but I finally tossed a whole bunch that I don’t love or were past their prime. I had an old tube of Clinique’s Black Honey from SEVERAL years ago that had to go but I loved the color. As a replacement, I picked up a tube of W3LL People’s color balm in Fig and it is total perfection.

AM + PM Skincare Routine

It’s been a little while since I wrote an updated post on my skincare routine and I thought some of you might be curious. It’s taken some time to get the whole thing down (I have a compulsive problem with constantly trying new things) but I think I’m in a good spot right now.
A little background on my skin…I have combination skin that leans towards oily but lately has been dry. I definitely need to be stringent with my routine because at 27 I’m still suffering from acne. I attempted to go on Accutane but it was going to cost $800/month and that just seemed obscene. Instead, I’ve worked out a pretty good system incorporating some over the counter but yet extremely effective products.

MORNING

Cleanse // Lately I’ve been using this Acure creme cleanser because it’s formulated for dry skin (my skin is the most dry in the morning) plus it feels creamy and gentle. In the morning, I’m less concerned with “clean” skin. I  just want to refresh my face. If I’m showering, I’ll use this Acure brightening scrub which I really like and I’m on my second bottle which is really saying something for me. On a really lazy day (let’s be honest, most days…) I’ll just give my face a swipe with these Acure face wipes. Sensing a trend here…I’m loving Acure products for several reasons: natural, affordable, easy to find (Target!), effective, pretty packaging!
Tone // Because my skin is craving a little extra attention these days, I’ve been loving using a spray toner (vs. swiping with a cotton round). This green tea one from Poor & Pretty is just the ticket. The tea is very soothing while the witch hazel refreshes my skin and preps it for the day. I added a bit of jojoba oil to the mix (just shake before using) to add some extra moisture. 
Moisturize // I had been searching for a day time moisturizer non-stop for quite some time. I tried a lot of samples but couldn’t find something that fit the bill. I fell in LOVE with the Pai Rebalancing moisturizer but it was $60 and I just couldn’t justify it. I finally ordered a sample of this one from Paula’s Choice after hearing Ashley rave about it (it helped that we have a similar skin type). It was seriously love at first sight (swipe?). It’s super lightweight but still moisturizing without being greasy at all. The sheer tint prevents any white cast from the mineral sunscreen and does a great job evening out my skin. It’s amazing how it leaves a matte finish but doesn’t look flakey. To add a little extra hydration and coverage, I’ve actually been mixing in a bit of this Josie Maran tinted moisturizer as well which is normally too heavy for me on its own but mixed together, it’s perfection.




EVENING

Cleanse // I’m totally on the oil cleansing bandwagon. It removes any trace of makeup so easily and leaves my skin feeling so soft. I just finished up my bottle of the Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Vitamin B cleansing oil but though I absolutely loved it (amazing pineapple scent!) I just felt like I couldn’t justify the $42. I purchased my first bottle through a promo so I was able to get it for a little less. Maybe I’ll invest again down the road. Instead, I’ve just started using the new Burt’s Bees cleansing oil which I think is working just fine. It doesn’t leave a film, has a pleasant smell, and it’s effective. 
Treat // This is the big new step in my routine that is making such a difference. Though I’ve always used a toner, I wasn’t convinced it was doing anything. Instead, I recently added this liquid, leave-on exfoliant from Paula’s Choice to my nighttime routine and I’m seeing immediate results. My skin has been much clearer, more even, less bumpy, less red, and just generally awesome. This product is worth the hype. 
Moisturize // I’ve been really liking using oils to moisturize my skin at night. I feel like they hold up better while I’m sleeping and lately, my skin could benefit from a little extra moisture at night. I’m not too picky with oils though. Acure’s argan oil is great – simple, pure, and affordable. I’m also liking this neroli oil from Stark. It’s a bit more of a luxury item but I received it in a beauty deal box. I’m not sure I would repurchase mainly because I think there are plenty of great, less expensive options. Sometimes I will also apply a layer of Origins Drink Up Overnight mask which is awesome. For eye cream, I’m still loving the Elizabeth Dehn for OLO one. It’s expensive but lasts forever. Eye cream is one of those things that I can never tell a difference when I’m using but hopefully in 10 years I’ll be happy I did.

monday musings | 120

>> We’ve been traveling a lot of work lately which has been made exponentially more difficult with the dog. Luckily, we take her to a great place for camp during the day but if someone can’t pick her up by 5:30 then we have to make other arrangements. It’s been stressful and exhausting but it’s probably a good preview for years to come. I also got some great advice from a friend who said “you can make anything easier by throwing a little money at the problem”. Which is exactly what we did and it was so worth it.

>> I’m in serious clean out mode around clothes, makeup, etc. I sold a whole bunch of gently used makeup on Glambot and made a decent amount of money considering I would have just thrown it away. I’ve sent in two bags to thredUP but I’m still waiting to hear what the payout will be. I’m on a serious mission to own less but higher quality. Anyone know where to get HIGH quality long-sleeve t-shirts that won’t shrink?

>> I’ve been loving the gym that we joined shortly after moving here. It’s right next to C’s office which makes it super easy since we share a car. I’ve been particularly enjoying the Barre classes and after chatting with the Group Ex director, I decided I’d pursue becoming an instructor! Last weekend, I completed my Barre Certification and will start instructing classes at the gym soon!

>> I just got on Snapchat and I don’t really get it. I like the idea of having 24 hour “stories” but how do I remember to download them after each 24 hour period?? Please someone help me!

>> You may have guessed this already but the half marathon did not happen. Instead, I ran the 5k with my mother-in-law and had a blast. It was her first ever race and she ran the whole thing! I’m so proud of her and really enjoyed getting to share that experience. C, on the other hand, killed the half and now has his sights set on 26.2!

>> C and I picked up new iPhone’s this weekend and when I got home, I was testing out the new features and some things weren’t working. That’s when I realized they had set me up with an iPhone 6 not 6 s. They happily made the exchange in the store but without the phone in stock, they had to give me my old phone back in the meantime. #firstworldproblems

>> Haven is almost 5 months old now and she’s such a great puppy. She’s really doing well with her training and usually sleeps until about 6:30/7am. We hadn’t been letting her on the couch until all of a sudden she figured out how to get up and it was so cute, I couldn’t push her off. So Haven 1, Couch 0.

>> I normally don’t talk much about work around here but I did want to mention that I accepted a role on Teach For America’s national team which I’m thrilled about. I will continue working from home which is awesome and I’m really excited about staying with the organization.

{review} flyjoy bars

As I was stuffing one of these bars into my face, I realized I better hurry up and write about them (or at least photograph them) before they were gone! 
I love a good bar. I’m a big snacker and I must ALWAYS have a bar on me at all times. I’m pretty picking though about what types of bars I like. Nowadays, everything has so much sugar or other nasty stuff in it that it’s just not an enjoyable snack after you read the ingredients. I was really into KIND bars at one point but I feel like the quality of their product has gone down – they are usually ROCK HARD when I try to eat them…what’s up with that?!

Enter FLYJOY bars. These bars are made with ingredients I can pronounce like quinoa, chia, flax, cashews, almonds etc. They have a balanced amount protein and fiber while keep the sugar count in check. But on top of everything else, they are delicious. The very first one I tried was Cashew Cookie dough and it legitimately tasted like the best raw cookie dough you scoop from the bowl when you’re baking. I LOVE that they aren’t coated in chocolate because, like I said, there is always a bar living at the bottom of my bag and I hate pulling out a mushy, melted bar when I’m starving. 
If you are a perpetual bar hoarder, add FLYJOY bars to your stash. I find myself reaching for them over most other snack options when I’m on the go.
I was generously provided with these bars (thanks Madison!) to try for the first time. I was not otherwise compensated for this post and opinions are all my own. I was not encouraged to write a positive review.