When this photo was taken I had no idea how much my life was going to change within the 365 days that made up 2016.
As 2016 comes to a close, as I often do, I’ve been thinking back on this year – all that has changed, all that has remained the same, where I’ve been, where I want to go, etc. This year though, has been more life altering than most and as I think back I get a little teary because 2016 has been a fairytale year for me that can never be duplicated.
2016 wasn’t messing around – it showed me its colors right off the bat on day 1.
Literally starting on January 1st. I was on a New Year’s trip to Seaside, Florida with two of my best girlfriends, Marcia and Taryn. It was rainy almost the entire trip which was fine with us because we hardly left our respective perches in front of the fireplace at the cozy cottage we were staying in. We relaxed, read, slept, journaled, made vision boards, ate our weight in guacamole, and talked about all of our goals for 2016. (I know, I know, very Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.)
When your NYE vacay house looks like this, you know you’re setting yourself up for a good year!
I can take you to the exact page in my journal where I wrote that I wanted to: a.) go on a mission trip this year and b.) spend a month living abroad which Taryn ingeniously titled an “adult internship.” All 3 of us were single at the time (FYI two of us are engaged now… there might be something to those vision boards!) so we also spent some time talking about the types of qualities we would be looking for if we were going to date someone. One of my must-haves was someone I could adventure with. Both Marcia and Taryn made a point of telling me that the next guy I dated needed to be a “grown ass man” aka mature and able to take care of himself – and maybe even take care of me sometimes. Fast forward to that very night at dinner at The Pearl in Rosemary Beach when a handsome acquaintance I hadn’t seen in 3 years called the restaurant from 600 miles away to pay for our dinner. Continue reading →
I’ve noticed something about my wardrobe recently… if it’s not olive green, I probably haven’t purchased it as of late. Seriously, it’s all I wear. It started before I went to Africa when I went verrrry literal when planning my safari outfit. haha I happen to think everyone looks good in the color too, so sue me.
I thought I would share some of my favorite looks here so you can see the many many ways I’ve styled some of the same pieces, as well as how versatile it is.
This piece was the gateway drug. I’d been looking for a cute jacket like this for years actually and I love the lightweight fabric and the drawstring waist which adds shape and makes the fit more flattering. It comes in two other colors and regular and tall sizing which always excites me. I’ve dressed it up and down as you’ll see below. I’m also really feeling this moto vest I found via www.octer.com (Look for links in the captions to shop.)
Casual paired with jeans and sneaks for our African game drive. Get the whole look here.
Just adding this pic because safari and bae and love and stuff.
I dressed the jacket up a little more with a white button up, a bold burgundy lip, and braided choker. Get the entire look here!
Accessorized with grey boots and handbag and my favorite jeans. Shop the look here.
I love this style of pant and for the longest I couldn’t find one that flattered me. I have hips and I thought this style looked best on girls that didn’t. However, I love the way these fit and I love them with literally any shoe – a pump, sandal, sneaker, etc. and they look great with a t-shirt, blazer, etc. I’ve spent a 24 hour travel day in them and I’ve also worn them to happy hour. What are you waiting for? You need them. (They also come in black.)
Dressed up a little bit – leopard heels (leopard is totally a neutral in my book of subtle fashion rules haha), a fitted top, and great bag made this great for wearing to work and then straight to cocktails. Winnnn! Shop the look here.
As casual as it gets with my beloved croc sandals. (I’m not joking, no I wasn’t paid to say that – I’m just owning my that comfort and not caring about the brand like a boss – and you would too if you felt how insanely comfortable these sandals are.) The denim jacket has also been worn 1,000 times as of late. Shop the look here.
Jumpsuit: Gosh I love a good jumpsuit. It’s an entire outfit in one piece. You don’t even have to think about it. Just throw on shoes of your choice – booties, pumps, heeled sandals, etc., and you look effortless and chic. So comfortable too. Keep in mind that I’m 5’8 1/2″ and this fits me great! I even rolled the legs a little bit for a slightly cropped look which you could also do if you’re shorter. What a cute fit, eh? I’ve also attached some of my other favorite jumpsuits here.
That classic over-the-shoulder… lol Shop the look here.
The booties, clutch, and beer my dreams are made of. Shop them here.
Aaaaand a full shot just so you can really see. Shop the look here.
There you have it – just a small snippet of my olive obsession. I also own a shirt dress, a tank, and a cowl neck sweater… and there are a pair of rag and bone booties that I have all the heart eye emojis for. Are you guys as obsessed with olive as me?
PS: Big thank you to Kelleigh Bannen for taking the majority of these pics.
This month’s playlist has so much poppy goodness. Multiple Ariana Grande and Gavin DeGraw tunes. Seriously so good. A John Legend song from the soundtrack of “Southside With You” is so beautiful and brings the romance. “Victory” brought to you by two geniuses, Pharrell and Kirk Franklin will have you swaying in your car. New finds include everything Walker Hayes (a local guy who I think could blow up!) – his honesty, individuality, and infectous beats and melodies make him stick out from your average Nashville country artist. Also, be sure to check out “This Head I Hold” by Electric Guest, this upbeat throwback tune will be an instant favorite.
As always, I need to know what you guys are listening to! Comment below!
Dubrovnik is a spot that’s made it’s way into my stream of consciousness over and over for several years now. I knew it was supposed to be cool and because of that I was excited to check it out – but I didn’t come close to realizing just how cool. I really think Dubrovnik (and Croatia in general – check out my post on stunning coastal Hvar here) is one of the most incredible, beautiful, and unique places I’ve ever traveled to. The pristine natural beauty of the mountains and water mixed with the perfectly preserved medieval old city was breathtaking. I loved the juxtaposition of the 13th century buildings mixed with ultra modern restaurants, hotels, and spas. The only downside was that I was on crutches, which halted some of the wandering I would have loved to have done. Dubrovnik is built on the side of a mountain and I dare you to find a city with more stairs… so beware if you have a stroller or need handicap access, but that’s a big part of what makes the city so cool and unique! Interesting fact: Game of Thrones is filmed here, so if you’re a fan you’ll recognize the landmarks.
The Food: Marco Polo (nice but casual) – This quaint restaurant is tucked into old town and offered us amazing hospitality and service on our first night there. Great local wine and cuisine in a cozy setting. Loved this spot.
Croatian Cheese + Wine is bae
Villa Dubrovnik (fancy) – This might have been my favorite meal of the trip. Not only was the food incredible – everything from single entrees to a tasting menu of all types of fresh seafood and native cuisine – but the views were magnificent and right on the water. We dined at sunset and our waiter was probably (deservedly) annoyed at how many photos/snapchats we were taking.
These Croatian dinner views can’t be beat!
Restoran Dubrovnik – Another incredible restaurant in the heart of old town. We dined upstairs where they have a retractable roof so you can take in all of the beautiful 13th century buildings. The staff here was beyond accommodating and I would love to transport this chic spot to Nashville and dine there on the regular.
Lady Pipi – Recommended to us by multiple people (including one of my favorite sources for travel suggestions Luna Guide to Travel – thanks Ash!) this casual spot is 100% patio and covered by grape vines complete with dangling bunches of grapes. (The restaurant is closed with any bad weather.) The food is cooked on an outdoor grill and apparently there is usually a long line, but we arrived for a late lunch and got seated right away. The food was beyond fresh and delicious. If we had had an opening in our schedule to go back, Whitney and I both would have sprinted back (Ok, I would have hobbled quickly…). My chicken salad (although that sounds boring it was. not.) was so fresh and delicious and Whitney said her tuna was the very best she’s ever had. Be sure to take notice of the highly inappropriate statue that sits out front… or not. haha
The Drinks: Nautika – Ok, where do I even begin? This place is something special – located right on the water and decorated like the cover of an Elle Decor. They brought my drink on a bed of rose petals and inside a birdcage and Whitney’s included a spritz of blood orange essence out of a vintage perfume bottle upon arrival prompting us to obnoxiously state things like, “from now on, if my drink doesn’t come in a birdcage, I won’t drink it!” We also noshed on beautiful fruit and homemade chocolate which is some of the best I’ve ever had. (Why doesn’t all chocolate come with orange peel and cranberries in it?!) We also enjoyed chatting with the general manager who was so knowledgable about the area and such a nice guy – a very Croatian way to be we found out.
And the award for most beautiful and light refreshing cocktail goes to…
If you follow me on Snapchat (@BrennaMader) you probably caught my video of Whitney repeatedly saying, “hmmm I think I need just a BIT more blood orange Chanel #5!” and then dramatically spritzing more into her cocktail. hahaha
Banje Beach – This day club is definitely quite the party experience, almost reminiscent of a Las Vegas pool. Rent a day bed right on the beach and get champagne and burgers delivered to you all day… because that’s what everyone does, right?! Great people watching – I have to say, the European motto on swimsuits is the smaller the better… and everyone looks amazing. #MoreEuroGoals I also took numerous dips in the Adriatic Sea to cool off and let me just say for the 900th time how amazing that water is.
Popping bottles on the Adriatic – I’d like to do that again!
Buza Bar – While this place is a pretty basic bar, they make up for it with their literal hanging off a cliffside ocean views. Getting a table is hard, but worth the elbowing. Don’t expect fancy drinks – your standard mixed drinks or cheap wine, but wow those views. Wow.
More stunning Croatian views – from literally off the side of a cliff.
The Fun: Villa Dubrovnik Spa – After having two full 24 hour days of travel, I went for a 2 hour spa treatment/massage and it did not disappoint. I was scrubbed, oiled, massaged, etc. into a state of deep relaxation.
Cable Car – For I think $8 the cable car will take you up to a stunning view of all of Dubrovnik and the water. Whitney and I had breakfast and read at Restaurant Panorama and every time i go back and look at my photos I’m in awe of this stunning place. A very unique view and experience.
Not your average breakfast view!
City Center Dance Party – Somehow Whitney and I accidentally wandered into a dance party in the streets walking home from dinner one night complete with lights, a dj, and an accordion player playing along to Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” We danced until we were sweaty in the mix of young and old (me using my crutches as a dramatic prop, of course!). So glad we happened upon that – you never know what you’re going to find in Durbovnik!
I recently returned home from a dream trip of 23 days abroad – Zambia, Africa, Hvar and Dubrovnik, Croatia, and Reims and Paris, France. I’m excited to start sharing some of my adventures and suggestions here.
The trip was conceptualized in January when I was writing down my new year’s resolutions. I wrote that I wanted to live abroad for a month and low and behold it pretty much happened! (There’s something to writing your goals down, I have to say.) I also wrote that I wanted to go on a mission trip – who would have thought that I would be combining both into such a grand adventure?! I started in Zambia on a mission trip with Every Orphan’s Hope (I’m working on a post about that trip, but it’s turning into a novel, so more to come on that later!) and my plan was to meet up with my friend Whitney of Blonde Atlas in Istanbul, Turkey. It was going to be a relatively short and cheap flight from Zambia and we had the most fab itinerary planned including luxury accommodations, turkish baths, etc. etc. etc. Everything was booked and paid for… and then attacks and an attempted coup happened… No refunds from any of our flights (grrrr) but we decided the risk wasn’t worth it so we hurriedly tried to make a plan B. Our second spot was already going to be Dubrovnik, so we decided to start in Hvar which is within ferrying distance to Dubrovnik. Located in the Dalmation Islands, Hvar is the epitome of relaxation, glamour, and pristine natural sights. We were also so pleased about how safe Croatia is, how nice the people there were (and gorgeous… I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many beautiful people!), not to mention that almost everyone there speaks perfect English, making everything extra easy. Oh, and once you’re there, Croatia is relatively inexpensive in general. Score -I always love ballin’ on a budget!
The Digs: Pharos Hvar Bayhill Hotel
This hotel is the perfect mix of reasonably priced while still being fashionable, young, and fun. The staff were so wonderful and helped us book all of our transfers to and from our ferry rides – even going out of their way to drive me extra distances and get me to the front of lines because I was on crutches. There is an included breakfast that puts any US continental breakfast I’ve ever seen to shame – made to order omelets, gourmet coffees, a huge spread of fruit, pastries, meats, cheeses, yogurt, granola, etc. Most rooms will also have a beautiful view of the water and it is within walking distance of almost anything you could want to do in Hvar. There is also air conditioning in the rooms which can be a luxury in Europe in the summer!
Enjoying a poolside cocktail at the great bar that’s at Pharos. Outfit details here!
I lugged this beauty all around Africa and Europe and it came home looking better than when I started. I love a great leather bag! She loved posing in the Pharos lobby. 😉 Get your own here!
The Food: DiVino Restaurant (fancy) – amazing food and great service with even better views. Truly one of the most beautiful views I have ever ever ever ever ever had at a restaurant. Watch the yachts sail in and out of the harbor and take in the castle at the top of the mountain… I love you Hvar.
San Marco Restaurant at the Palace Hvar (nice but more casual) – incredible Mediterranean cuisine very reminiscent of some of the most wonderful meals I’ve eaten in Italy, which is saying a lot. The patio here also has beautiful views of the ocean/harbor.
Street Markets/Ice Cream – Walking around the main square you’ll see no shortage of beautiful local produce and an assortment of ice cream shops. You can’t go wrong with any of them. I would be embarrassed to reveal to you just how many times Whitney and I had ice cream or gelato…
The Fun: Hvar Tours Half Day Wine Tour – As we were researching places we could go/things we could do, I must admit I was surprised to read that lots of Croatian wine and olive oil were highly rated. We decided our trip wouldn’t be complete without tasting some of it and I’m so glad we did! Whitney and I both thought the wine was so tasty while also being unique and interesting. The Croatians take so much pride in using only their own grapes and recreating ancient varieties. We so enjoyed this day that also included a beautiful drive over the mountain in the middle of the island. Our guide was so knowledgable and so much fun. Anyone who knows me knows that obviously I bought some of both because no international trip I’ve ever taken would be complete without numerous breakable, heavy, glass items figure out how to pack in my suitcase.
Hvar Tours Vis Day Tour – This was actually one of my favorite activities of the entire 23 days abroad. The water in Croatia is the most clean and beautiful water I have ever seen in my entire life. It’s aqua colored and you can see all the way to the bottom – even in the harbor where water is usually pretty disgusting. My enthusiasm for this day doesn’t lack – even with some of the day being rained out. What we got to see was so beautiful it outweighed any bad weather we experienced. I cannot recommend this tour enough. If When I go back to Hvar, I would actually consider doing boat tours multiple days – seeing as many of these beautiful little islands as possible is a must. The Culture:
As I stated above, Croatians could not be more friendly or accommodating. We chatted with so many nice and interesting people. This is also a place where you will feel completely safe which was a nice and unexpected feeling, especially given all of the travel warnings right now in Europe. Hvar is known as a party island for Europe’s glitterati and we were told about several events/parties/clubs that sounded fun (including a private island nearby!) but alas I was exhausted from Africa and Whitney was exhausted from her prior 13 days in Italy (#1stworldprobs) and we went to bed each night earlier than any Grandma on the island which goes to show that this island is also great for relaxation. Looking around I noticed a lot of young people in addition to families and older people. Hvar can offer anything you’re looking for – nightlife, family time, relaxation, outdoor activities, etc.
I’m so glad our itinerary worked out the way it did – it was nice to feel completely safe and this little Croatian island had big impact. This is a spot I’ll be looking forward to going back to.