Tag Archives: Travel

Golden Gate Bridge Fashion Brenna Mader San Francisco FashionAs you know, I love to travel. In the moments spent anticipating a trip, I often envision myself traipsing through a certain destination in a certain outfit. I can’t help it – I want to look fab while I’m enjoying my vacay! haha I know I can’t be alone in this…

This past week I’ve been enjoying Sonoma, San Francisco, and a little bit of LA. I had never been to San Fran before and was so excited to check out some of the sights I’d heard so much about like the Golden Gate Bridge. Continue reading

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of being a guest on the Moll Anderson show. I’ve been a fan of Moll since I first moved to Nashville 7 years ago and she had a column in Nashville Lifestyles Magazine. Moll is girl-crush worthy – an all around power woman who is an Emmy Award winning tv/radio host, famed interior designer, author, and life-stylist. She asked me about some of my favorite topics – fitness and nutrition, pageants, body image, confidence, dating, and OBVIOUSLY Wanderlust and Glitter Dust! If you missed me live, you can check it out here!

All hail this hot #girlboss

IMG_8302Today just so happens to be my 27th birthday. 27thhhhhhhhhh-th-th-th. Whoa. When did I have time to live this much life!? Usually I’m not so reflective on my day of birth, but this year has me thinking a little bit more – I guess because I can’t believe I’ve arrived in my late 20’s. Had you asked me at age 17 (feels like minutes ago) what I would have thought I would be doing at age 27, my answer would have been completely different than what my reality is. And you know what? For the most part, I’m pretty pleased about that. I wanted to share 5 realizations I’ve had in the past 27 years that I solidly believe and abide by (including some pics from all those years!) and I think you should too! Here goes:

It's kind of crazy how much things change as you get older... and also how much they don't. :)

It’s kind of crazy how much things change as you get older… and also how much they don’t. πŸ™‚

1. Life’s too short to match your socks. This might sound funny – and plenty of friends have laughed at me when I shared this bit of wisdom, but think about how much of your life you’ve probably spent already teeeeeeeeeeeediously matching your socks. (I’m so bored just thinking about it. EW.) And for what?! No one even sees them. STOP MATCHING AND GET YOUR LIFE BACK. You’re welcome.

Less time matching socks... and more time for moments like these! :)

Less time matching socks… and more time for moments like these! πŸ™‚

2. Life’s too short to stay in a job you hate. Let me clarify – we all have to do things we don’t like or don’t want to do in life, (hello, like working at the Cheesecake Factory for 3 years. Those white uniforms. EW.) and sometimes those things can afford us the opportunity to pursue something we love, or provide building blocks to a better career. However, if you are spending 40 plus hours a week in a job you hate, doing something you don’t care about at all, it’s time to evaluate WHY?! A 40 hour work week equates to 2,080 hours a year – which is probably how you spend most of your time. Doing a job in a field you love or are passionate about makes life much more rich and satisfying. Not to mention the fact that you’ll be a better employee. People are motivated in their jobs by all sorts of things – passion, money, coworkers, environment, etc. Find out what drives and makes you happy and go for it!

Early beginnings as a makeup artist. I wish I could find some of the video footage of me pretending to be a red carpet tv host!

Early beginnings as a makeup artist. I wish I could find some of the video footage of me pretending to be a red carpet tv host!

I've always loved glamming up! :)

I’ve always loved glamming up! πŸ™‚

3. Life’s too short to stay in a dead end relationship. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that they know a relationship isn’t going to work out, but that they can’t end it… “Valentine’s Day is coming up…” “We have a trip planned…” There’s no such thing as the perfect relationship, and there are many ways to work on and improve existing relationships, but staying in a relationship that isn’t healthy doesn’t serve either person. Oh, and staying in the relationship longer doesn’t make breaking it off any easier. The longer you’re with the wrong person, the longer it will be until you find the right one. This principle also applies to friendships. Toxicity isn’t good for your health!

With one relationship that will never be dead end - cookies! Oh, and my sister. (Her birthday is tomorrow!)

One relationship that will never be dead end – cookies! Oh, and my sister. (Her birthday is tomorrow!)

4. Life’s too short to say you’ll do things someday. One of my favorite quotes says, “There is one simple thing wrong with you – you think you have plenty of time … If you don’t think your life is going to last forever, what are you waiting for? Why the hesitation to change? You don’t have time for this display, you fool. This, whatever you’re doing now, may be your last act on earth. It may very well be your last battle. There is no power which could guarantee that you are going to live one more minute.” That trip you’ve always wanted to go on? That hobby you’ve been wanting to take up? The apology you know you need to make? Think about your life thus far and how quickly it’s gone. Make it (whatever it is) happen!

Australia is the place that cultivated my intense love of travel. Can you see why!?

Australia is the place that cultivated my intense love of travel. Can you see why!?

5. Life’s too short to treat your body with anything other than the utmost respect. If y’all read this blog regularly, you know how much I love health and nutrition and how much it’s changed my life for the better. That’s not to say that I don’t indulge sometimes – because I definitely do, but keep in mind that your body has an expiration date. The way you’re treating your body now has a direct correlation to what your health will be down the road. All of us could change some habits for the better – stop and think about your future children and grandchildren. Most likely they’ll want you around for a long time. Think about how unhappy you’ll be and how much money you’ll have to spend if you get a preventable disease. Think about how much better you’ll feel and how much more agile you’ll be if you fuel your body with good nutrients and keep it strong with regular exercise. We only get one body – today is the day to start respecting that truth.

These are my own pink boxing gloves. I'm obsessed! Come take class with me here!

These are my own pink boxing gloves. I’m obsessed! Come take class with me here!

As I said earlier, I strongly believe in each of these principles (especially the sock matching one! πŸ™‚ ) and I try to live my life keeping in mind that we are not promised tomorrow. None of these concepts are revolutionary or groundbreaking, but at different times in my life each has resonated with me on a personal level. I’m not always 100% successful, but I attempt to live my life as someone who takes action now, instead of saying that I will someday. What are some things you’ve learned throughout the course of your life?

As mentioned in my post about Miami, a serendipitous run-in with a Nashville friend while there led to one of the most fun New Year’s I’ve ever had! Two of my best friends (that you’ve probably seen mentioned a million times if you read this blog on the regular…) Taryn and Claire, had arrived in Palm Beach and we were trying desperately to figure out what we wanted to do for New Year’s Eve. We decided that Miami would probably be too crazy and Palm Beach would probably be too boring, but the girls weren’t up for driving to Key West. As we sat looking at this gorgeous view, we remained unable to decide:
IMG_2123That’s when James and Bobby called us from Key West offering up the following arguments:

  • The drive to Key West is one of the top 10 most beautiful drives in the world.
  • Key West is heaven and if you don’t like heaven, you don’t love God.

    Needless to say, that’s all the convincing we needed. Within an hour we were packed and headed to get the rental car, which proved to be difficult given the amount of luggage we had all brought on the trip.

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    This sweet rental car boy gave us a great deal on a car and fudged how much gas was in the tank to our advantage! Score #1 of the trip! Look how giddy this spontaneous adventure was making me – so excited!

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    In order for him to drive us from the hotel to the rental car offices we had to stuff every last corner of the car… literally.

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    Yep…

    Claire offered to drive first and we determined that whoever was driving had to wear the appropriate eye wear.
    IMG_2129IMG_2133We encountered a few minor mishaps on the way down like getting yelled at by 3 different grown men. (Um chivalry is dead in Florida.) It also rained the entire way down which kind of puts a damper on the beautiful views. We also waited in line for 30 minutes (at least) to gas up the car only to realize just as we thought we edged close enough that the pump wouldn’t reach our car.

    So annoyed. I JUST WANNA GET TO KEY WEST!

    So annoyed. I JUST WANNA GET TO KEY WEST!

    Luckily, we arrived in one piece before dark and lugged every single piece of luggage across the streets of Key West for all to see. #ummmwe’removingin
    IMG_2149James and Bobby took us on a walking tour of part of Key West, took us to get the most amazing Cuban food (but isn’t all of it?), and stopped at one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever seen, Casa Marina, to have a cocktail on the beach.

    Stunning! Photo courtesy of casamarinaresort.com

    The walk to the beach hammocks at night… breathtaking! Photo courtesy of www.casamarinaresort.com

    Photo courtesy of www.tripadvisor.com

    Paling around with my pals on the hammock.

    Paling around with my pals on the hammock.

    We decided that our New Year’s Eve primping routine was changing from sparkles and high heels to something much more casual. We didn’t hate it!
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    Headed to the show!

    Headed to the show!

    Key West ended up being the PERFECT way to spend New Year’s Eve this year. Low key and laid back with great friends and great music! IMG_2369 IMG_2167Before heading out of town to check into the Breakers we all had brunch at one of Key West’s most infamous breakfast joints, Blue Heaven.

    Um yeah. This is tomato and avocado eggs benedict with a key lime hollandaise sauce on top. Whoa. Somehow I dragged a piece of hair through some of the sauce and was smelling it the entire drive back. I didn't hate it.

    Um yeah. This is tomato and avocado eggs benedict with a key lime hollandaise sauce on top. Whoa. Somehow I dragged a piece of hair through some of the sauce and was smelling it the entire drive back. I didn’t hate it.

    We also were visited by one of Key West’s most infamous during breakfast…

    These things roam the streets of Key West like stray cats!

    These things roam the streets of Key West like stray cats!

    Wouldn't have wanted to spend New Years with anyone else!

    Wouldn’t have wanted to spend New Years with anyone else!

    The last stop before leaving town was getting a fresh coconut water – if you know me well, you know how much this excited me. One of my favorite things!
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    Although we were in Key West less than 24 hours (crazy!), it was totally worth the trip! I wouldn’t mind making that a yearly New Years tradition and this time the sun shined on us all the way back to Palm Beach!
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    What’s the craziest thing y’all have ever done for New Years (or in Key West)?!

As an avid traveler, one of my intentions when I started this blog was to have a lot of it centered around some of the cool places I am fortunate enough/spend all my money to go to. Because so much of this year has been about Miss USA, I haven’t gone on as many trips as usual, but that’s all about to change! This past weekend I went to Chicago for the BlogHer Conference with my roommate/bestie/travel partner in crime, Taryn of Women Can Talk Sports.

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Listening to one of my FAVORITE bloggers, The Pioneer Woman speak on the success of her blog.

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#wanderlust #takingnotes

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I love a good queen!

We had a great time at the conference, learned a lot, were equal parts impressed and annoyed by Sheryl Sandberg’s live q&a session, yada yada yada… but let’s get real, WE WANTED TO HAVE SOME FUN IN THE WINDY CITY! Turns out, fun would be an understatement.

When I write my travel blogs, the focus will be on cool places where you the reader might want to go, but let me take a second to say that you the reader probably won’t get to stay in my friend Lauren’s penthouse… BUT that isn’t going to stop me from bragging about staying there/posting photos of it!!!!!! So jealous that she gets to live there!
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In addition to staying in a penthouse fit for a queen, I also woke up to this breakfast on Sunday morning. Southern hospitality in Chicago! Thanks LL, you’re the best!

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Clearly we couldn’t get enough of the view from her patio! #cornerunitwhatwhat

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One thing you should know up front is that when I desire to travel somewhere, a big part of that desire is based on whether or not I want to eat the indigenous cuisine… and because no one loves Guiliana and Bill more than Taryn and I, our first order of business was getting a reservation at their newly opened restaurant in Chicago, RPM Italian. Since G and I are basically besties from when I got to meet her for 30 seconds at Miss USA, this happened: (yeah yeah it was on twitter, I must’ve lost her phone number… πŸ˜‰ sorry/not sorry about all of this bragging!)
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As if that wasn’t a great enough start to our night, guess who happened to be at the restaurant? None other than Bill Rancic himself, who by the way was so incredibly nice and gracious, even though he was being stopped for photos nearly every 10 seconds. (I hardly even noticed how handsome he is.)

Yes that IS a crop top turtleneck. So what alright?

Yes that IS a crop top turtleneck. So what alright? Also, despite what this photo suggests, Bill and I are not giants, we were just standing on a step together. *Swoon

Oh… so you wanted to know more about the restaurant and less about my celebrity encounters? Ok, well it was just as fantastic as meeting them. So firstly, if you want to go to RPM, make a reservation ASAP because we made ours weeks in advance and weren’t able to get in until 10:30 PM. (It was Saturday night…) When we got there, it was PACKED and it was still PACKED when we left. (For good reason I might add, cool ambiance, great food, potential Rancic sightings, etc.)

Can you find anything on there that sounds appetizing? I thought so.

Can you find anything on there that sounds appetizing? I thought so.

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I know I’m going to enjoy a dinner when my compadres are down to share lots of dishes – and that’s exactly what we did! Take notes Matty Ride and Lauren Wedertz! haha

Obbbbbviously, we ordered everything that Giuliana told us to, plus a few extras. We ate it all. YUM.

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Truffle garlic bread and meatballs. So. Good. Although, you could put truffle oil on a piece of cardboard and I would probably declare it delightful. Meatballs aren’t something I would usually order, but Giuliana said so! Also, they were more than edible. I scarfed mine down and finished Taryn’s too…

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Shaved brussel sprout salad – for those who haven’t had one, it sounds kind or weird but it’s basically brussel sprouts, parmesan, avocado… what’s not to love?

Mama DiPandi's pasta and, you guessed it, truffled gnocchi. We had no trouble polishing these off.

Mama DiPandi’s pasta and, you guessed it, truffle gnocchi. We had no trouble polishing these off.

Dessert... okay, two desserts. A ball of chocolate/hazelnut ice cream heaven and some pot de creme salted caramel thing that was just ok.

Dessert… okay, two desserts. A ball of chocolate/hazelnut ice cream heaven and some pot de creme salted caramel thing that was just ok – but I don’t really like pudding-ey desserts… so if that’s your thing, you would probably love it.

Reaaaaal ladylike Miss Tennessee...

Reaaaaal ladylike Miss Tennessee…

We also went for a cocktail with some friends at a cool little spot called Epic. We went up 3 levels of restaurant to one of the best rooftop patios of all time. Great cocktails, friendly staff, and gorgeous outdoor decor of sheer curtains and vines crawling up exposed brick – all in the center of the gorgeous Chicago skyline.

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We even got to meet the owner who was kind enough to buy us a drink aka insurance that I will definitely be back next time I’m in Chicago! πŸ™‚

Kyle, Taryn, me, Lauren, and Jeff

Kyle, Taryn, me, Lauren, and Jeff

What would a trip to Chicago be without some shopping on Michigan Avenue and deep dish pizza? Tips: The Nordstrom Rack on the Magnificant Mile has great designer inventory (get there early or it gets picked over). I had heard that Giordano’s was the best deep dish, but our local friends told us to try Lou Malnati’s. (That’s another thing you should know: when traveling, I like to see the major landmarks, but what I really enjoy is going where the locals actually go.)
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“The Lou”

We also went to Millennium Park, took the obligatory picture (or 450 obligatory pictures) with “The Bean” and then walked along the waterfront.
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What a fabulous trip with excellent company! Thanks again to Lauren for showing us around and for showing us the best Southern hospitality in the Midwest! I already can’t wait to go back to Chicago!