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    I'm Annie.

    Tuesday
    Jul222014

    Chez Panisse in Berkeley 

    Happiness at Chez PanisseMy sandals broke on a long day of scouting with NatGeo photographer Catherine Karnow. No time to waste when we already had a packed day. The closest savior? A Walgreens. I trudged in, bought a $5 pair of flip-flops and continued working.

    The day went on and we were close to Berkeley, where Alice Waters' iconic restaurant Chez Panisse has held court for 43 years. She was the first to really pioneer farm-to-table eating. Catherine had photographed Alice years ago and had raved about the restaurant as one of her favorites.

    I have wanted to come to Chez Panisse ever since I first heard about it, which was probably when I was 12 years old, obsessed with reading any and all magazines. We decided to try our luck at getting in to eat on a busy Friday night.

    And I was so mad that I shuffled in wearing my $5 Walgreens flip-flops (later promptly tossed into the trash).

    Despite the footwear, we were lucky to get seated as walk-ins for the "cafe" upstairs, which just feels like a normal restaurant (albeit one with a gorgeous open kitchen and bustling, happy diners seated at rustic wooden tables). The "restaurant" downstairs has a prix-fixe tasting menu.

    Gem lettucesTo say it was exquisite perfection is not exaggerating - but it was so simple. Dessert? Blueberries and two apricots. The salad lettuces were crisp and earthy; the polenta, sweet corn and tomatoes sweet and salty. It is like you are being hugged by the state of California and everything that represents.

    Halibut appetizer PolentaBlueberries for dessertI always thought Chez Panisse was ridiculously expensive. But it's not! It is now one of my favorite restaurants in the world - I could happily eat there again and again. It is an absolute must if you're in the Bay Area (about a 20 minute drive from downtown San Francisco).

    Monday
    Jul212014

    Coming Up: The Hundred in Dallas 

    Many of you may know Lauren Knight, otherwise known as Aspiring Kennedy. She's an amazing lifestyle blogger living in London, but she's also amazing in REAL LIFE too! (Have you met "online peeps" that are not as...personable as their online personas might indicate? I have met a few!)

    Funny story.

    I was in London and my good friend Adrienne said, "Hey you should really check out Aspiring Kennedy. She has some great London tips."

    I trust Adrienne so I started clicking away and got lost in the world of Lauren's London, her trips across Europe and her baby Viola. I decided to look this chick up on Facebook.

    We had a friend in common that I happened to know very well. My husband, Andy.

    Maybe he could hook us up! Then I remembered that I had already met Lauren for a HOT SECOND at an event in Dallas years ago, introduced by Andy.

    I reached out. We met up in Notting Hill at Electric Diner. Insta-buds! 

    This is Lauren, not at Electric Diner, but at some other lovely London spot that I can't remember...there was coffee and almond croissants, so naturally we loved it.

    Breakfast in London - November 2013Lauren and three awesome other bloggers are hosting an event in Dallas (where I used to live) in August called The Hundred. If you love Good People and community like I do, and learning about entrepreneurship, blogging, content creation and more, you will fit right in. Even if you hate all those things, but like LIFE, I'm pretty sure you'll fit right in too.

    I will be speaking about travel, media, my work - and finding your passion in general! Plus, there will be hang time and time for Q&A.

    See you soon - I hope!

    Thursday
    Jul172014

    Brooking Brunching + Summer Nights in Central Park 

    Summer in Central ParkMy friend Katarina is an amazing woman - talented, smart, funny, kind. She recently sent some friends in the city, including me, an Excel spreadsheet with a calendar of things to do this summer. HOW COOL IS THAT?! The seasons fly by, faster than ever. How often do we say "Oh I want to do this" and then we never do. Not with Katarina at the helm.

    From her list, I invited ourselves to join her and her husband at Central Park for a free concert on the Great Lawn by the New York Philharmonic. We split picnic duties and brought blankets to the uber-crowded but super fun Friday night event. And at the end - surprise fireworks! Perfection.

    It was also glorious to spend an entire weekend at home. I went to two FABULOUS Brooklyn brunch spots - Rose Water in Park Slope and Cafe Luluc in Cobble Hill. Get there early-ish for both of them, like all popular brunch spots in New York, but you won't regret it.

    Sit in the back garden at Cafe Luluc and order these pancakes - sort of a caramelized, crunchy outer layer but yet still super soft with a pile of fresh fruit on top and maple syrup on the side. They are perfect. 

    Cafe Luluc outdoor gardenAnd here is the special sangria at Rose Water, which I actually didn't order but it was so pretty on our table.

    Tuesday
    Jul152014

    A Kiawah Island Fourth of July 

    I love the moments in travel that surprise you...or when your grumpy, tired attitude gains a little perspective. On our first night in Kiawah Island, 45 minutes south of Charleston, in South Carolina, it was storming. We headed out to The Ocean Course for drinks and to try and watch the sunset (a nightly ritual) but it was grey and rainy.

    "Let's just leave and head back to the condo," I said to Andy. (may or may not have been in an annoying tone)

    "Well, we're here. Let's give it a few minutes and wait it out," he responded.

    OK he's smart sometimes. We sat down for dinner and within thirty minutes, the most unbelievable double - double rainbow had formed. TWO double rainbows stretched across the sky. I have never seen anything like it in my entire life, and may not again.

    The Ocean Course on a non-stormy nighI love Kiawah. It's very golf club-y but the natural beauty is astounding. You can ride your bike for miles on a hard-packed beach. My extended family has visited for over 25 years but I've only discovered it in the last few years. We now make an annual trek down south.

    In the past, we've stayed at the gorgeous Sanctuary Hotel but this time we rented a condo a five-minute walk from the beach. We hit The Ocean Course almost every night for drinks at sunset and watched World Cup games at The Loggerhead Grill, where I think I ate the Butter Lettuce and Blue Crab salad five times.

    Butter Lettuce & Blue Crab Salad at The Loggerhead GrillThe one MUST on Kiawah is a bike. The bike trails are flat, shaded and so lovely. Plus riding on the beach of course!

    And we brought Rocco! He hated the ocean at first, but with some treat motivation, he was just fine.

    Andy and Rocco on the beachThe days continued to be tough, with swimming, bike riding, eating, and more drinks at The Ocean Course.

    Sunset at The Ocean CourseHappy Place

    the Ocean Course porch - just a LITTLE bit SouthernSo many families take their annual photos here Andy building a sand castleBefore you get to the main area of Kiawah, there's a shopping center called Freshfields Village. I used to love the grocery store there when it was a Newton Farms - now it is a Harris Teeter and it's AWFUL. Crowded, dirty and not a great selection of produce or food items. Aside from that, there are some nice spots to drop some dough on Lilly Pulitzer or cute sandals. 

    We were lucky that a good travel friend, Kim-Marie Evans of Luxury Travel Mom, has a house down there and was there too! She's hysterically funny and her kids are incredible. I hope I'm the kind of mother she is one day! Andy and I pretended like we were adopted into the Evans family and joined them at their club's annual Fourth of July party.

    Kim-Marie Evans and her son JJWe can't wait to see you again Kiawah!!

    Wednesday
    Jul092014

    My Dublin: The Fumbally 

    Oh how I love The Fumbally in Dublin. It's off the beaten track in a Dublin kind of way, which means a ten-minute walk out of the center. Dublin is small and so walkable that everything feels close.

    At first, you think "What a cool, casual coffee shop." The ceilings are high and it feels like an old warehouse turned hipster passion project.

    The FumballyBut then you see the sacks of organic grains, produce piled high, an enormous bowl of oranges, the communal tables, the delicious menu, and the happy cooks turning out truly fantastic food from the open kitchen near the register. There is no head chef - just people that can cook really, REALLY well.

    YumGreat cooks in the open kitchenThis sign! "All sorrows are less with bread." This is so true. I feel the gluten-free craze swinging back to carb-land already.

    All sorrows are less with breadAnd you notice the people - friends meeting, families with kids, people solo reading books and typing on thir computers. They had to have all been local Dubliners except for me.

    Avocado toast and a San Pellegrino for lunch? Yes, please.

    The Fumbally is open for breakfast and lunch.

    The Fumbally avocado toastSacks of grains