A day spent with Kerra is always a fun one. Kerra is an amazing residential and commercial interior designer here in DC. We’ve been working together on shoots for years, and I absolutely love working on her projects. This home might be my favorite yet!
This time last year I traveled to the Chesapeake Bay area to shoot a story for Travel + Leisure about weekend getaways, and it’s finally out this month! Though I’d been to Annapolis a few times for work, I never did much exploring in the area beyond that. I loved getting a chance to see more of Annapolis and St. Michaels, especially the hugely important crabbing and oystering in the area. Thanks so much to the Inn at Perry Cabin (where Wedding Crashers was filmed!) for hosting us, and Hannah Walhout for writing the piece so beautifully.
I shot a ton for the story, and have a few of my favorite outtakes below! You can read the full story here.
This shoot was a long time coming! Bari of Honest Tea, and I had been working for months to make this shoot a reality. Over the course of a hot summer day in August, it all came together, and we got to shoot tons of social content for them. They had a lot of new product offerings alongside some of their tried and true favorites to work with, and honestly, it was one of the must fun shoots I’ve had all year. Thanks so much to the whole Honest team, especially Bari, and Olivia, who did an amazing job styling everything.
Earlier this summer, I got the chance to work with the incredibly talented (and women-owned!) CID Design Group. They are based down in Florida, but work on design jobs across the country, and were in the DC area for Alloy by Alta, a new luxury apartment building in College Park, MD. Over the course of two days, we photographed the property from top to bottom, and I’m so excited with how the photos turned out. Here are just a few favorites. Shout out to the CID team for being so wonderful to work with.
Arlington has always had a close place in my heart. When I first moved to the DC area, it was my first home, and I have so many good memories of my time there. I recently partnered with Hyatt Centric to photograph and explore the area surrounding their Arlington property, and loved revisiting an area that I used to call home.
Luckily, the hotel is just steps away from the Key Bridge making it easy to pop over to Georgetown or head deeper into Arlington. I've rounded up a few of my favorite snaps from the trip as well as some of my favorite spots in the area. I'd love for you to take a look!
Hyatt Centric - the Centric is the boutique version of the Hyatt brand, and I really loved it for the little details like the Drybar hairdryers in the rooms and cute lobby library.
Key Bridge Boathouse - I love boating on the Potomac, and the Key Bridge Boathouse makes it so easy. You can rent a paddle board, kayak, canoe, etc. Perfect for a summer day, and if you're in DC, you can actually get a season pass!
Georgetown - I walked to Georgetown over the bridge from the hotel, but with temperatures in the upper 90s, it was hot. If you're there on a nicer day, this walk is really beautiful. Aside from the obviously amazing shopping in Georgetown, the streets are so quaint, and the residential streets are lovely to walk through even if shopping isn't your thing.
The Marine Corps Memorial - Another easy walk, this memorial is so touching, and its a favorite that I don't get to often enough.
Bikeshare - Bikeshare is one of the easiest ways to get around in the area. I'm slightly biased because my husband promotes alternative & environmentally transportation for a living, but I personally love it.
Barley Mac - Their Garden Pizza with white sauce, yellow corn, broccolini, and roasted garlic is out of this world good. I know it sounds a bit non-traditional, but trust me - it's one of the best pizzas I've had in a long time.
Screwtop - I didn't make it there this trip, but Screwtop is one of my favorite places for a happy hour drink or two in Arlington. Their wine and cheese selection is amazing, and it's on a nice, quiet street in Clarendon.
Key Bridge Terrace - The Key Bridge Terrace is set up so it's a level above the street giving you a nice view of Rosslyn and Wilson Blvd., and it's the perfect spot for getting a snack or a drink outdoors.
Heavy Seas Alehouse - This is another spot right around the corner from the property that's perfect for a dinner or a good local beer.
Note: This post was sponsored by Hyatt Centric. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
I've been fortunate enough to shoot at China Chilcano on a few occasions, and it's one of my favorite restaurants to work in. With José Andrés at the helm, the restaurant pays homage to Peru's rich and diverse culture and cuisine, and executes it beautifully.
What can possibly be said about Paris that hasn’t been covered already? Forever one of my favorite cities, I never skip a chance to spend even just a few days there. I love the style, the food, the architecture, the lifestyle, everything. Two of our close friends are getting married in the UK later this year, and we’re planning on taking the train to Paris while we're there because, why not? I’ve had a few friends ask me about good places to eat and visit in the city in the past, and I thought I’d finally put together a post about all my favorite spots.
WHERE TO EAT
Cafes & Bakeries
Du Pain et Des Idees - If you go to one bakery while you’re in Paris, let it be this one. It's widely known to be one of, if not the best, bakery in the city. The pistachio escargot (basically a snail shaped pastry filled with pistachio paste and chocolate) is hands down, the best pastry I’ve had ever. Grab a few of those (one was not enough), and some fresh bread. From here, we grabbed some wine, cheese and meat from a nearby shop, and took the metro to the Eiffel Tower for a picnic. .
Le Hibou - I initially went to this cafe because I was hangry, and I liked the font they used (embarrassing). I haven’t had a full meal here, but they have an affordable little breakfast special (a set breakfast of OJ, a croissant and an espresso, if I recall), and it’s a great people-watching spot. The orange juice was freshly squeezed and to die for.
La Bossue - If you’re craving a brunch with lots of options, this is the place.
Boot Cafe - You’ve probably seen a photo of this cafe on Instagram. The place is tiny but the coffee is good, and it’s on a great, quiet street in the Marais.
Lunches & Dinners
L’Avant Comptoir - This is literally one of my favorite places on the planet. I don’t know what it is, but I feel at home here. L’Avant Comptoir is a tiny, super casual, standing room only wine and snack bar. The menu hangs from cards on the ceiling, and with just about everything priced between 4 and 10 euros, you’ll want to order several things. The foie gras with black cherries, ham croquettes, and the pot au chocolat are some of my favorites along with the communal bread and butter (truly the best better ever). We usually just let the bartender choose a wine for us, and they’ve never gone wrong.
Grazie - We happened upon this place walking around the Marais, and it was absolutely spectacular. Eating pizza in Paris isn’t really what I planned, but it’s fantastic here. The interior is really pretty, and they have an excellent lambrusco.
Septime - I haven’t yet gotten the chance to eat here yet, but it’s a must this time around. This place books up fast so make sure you reserve three weeks ahead. You can do the lunch tasting menu for a more affordable option.
Au Passage - This place is really relaxed and unfussy, but has some of the best service, food and organic wines that I’ve had in Paris. I love everything about it.
Le Compas - We ended up here once after another spot we were going to head to was closed, and I’m glad we did. They have a full menu, but we just had a couple of glasses of wine on the patio and people-watched which is easily my favorite thing to do in Paris.
Frenchie - A great place to share a couple of small plates and have some wine. Try to go during off hours.
Experimental Cocktail Club - If you’re tired of wine, this is a cool speakeasy-style bar with inventive cocktails.
Septime La Cave - Around the corner from the restaurant, La Cave is a wine bar that was formerly a shoe repair shop!
TO SEE & VISIT
Sézane - I’ve loved Sezane since their first collaboration with Madewell. I love everything about this line.
Faure Le Page - A historic line similar to Goyard. Paris is literally the only place to purchase their leather goods (they don’t have an e-commerce shop) so it’s worth a visit.
Chine Machine - An affordable vintage shop
E. Dehillerin - We went here because my husband is obsessed with cooking, and this is supposed to be one of the best kitchen supply stores in the city, but I ended up walking out with a bunch of great kitchen finds and props for food shoots.
I’ve stayed in a few different areas around Paris, and in a mix of hotels and apartments. That being said, I don't actually have a hotel in particular I'd recommend. By far, my personal favorite stay was a cozy Airbnb we rented with some friends in the Marais on our trip last year. The area is so perfect with narrow alleys, cute cafes, and the metro all in walking distance. I love the Marais, and I think Paris lends itself well to staying in an Airbnb vs. a hotel anyway. For the most part, the Airbnb's are super chic, and much cheaper than most hotels.
GOOD TO KNOW
- There are free drinking water fountains all throughout the city so bring a reusable water bottle. The water is safe to drink, and they even having sparkling water fountains!
- The metro is SO SO easy to use. It's big but don't get overwhelmed because it really could not be easier.
- Give yourself a lot of unplanned time. You're going to want to walk around, stop into cafes you pass by, and lay in the parks. Don't try to see everything.
- A lot of restaurants and shops are closed on Sundays so plan ahead.
I'm working on few posts about some of my favorite things we did while on our honeymoon in Thailand but I wanted to start off by sharing a really special spot that isn't something I'd normally expect to find in Bangkok. Aoon Pottery is a small and tranquil cafe and ceramics studio nestled just around the corner from some of the most bustling streets in Bangkok's Chinatown, and was one of my favorite spots we visited. We headed there just a few days before the Lunar New Year so it was especially busy with locals buying gifts and food from the markets nearby in preparation for the holiday.
The cafe is quiet and breezy, and to the back of it, they keep their kiln for firing pottery. Upstairs, there's an incredible studio space with lots of great pieces for sale. Upon learning we were interested in the ceramics, the owner of the shop led us upstairs, and allowed us to take our time looking through all of his work. Seeing his workspace and part of his creative process was so amazing, and though I wanted to buy everything, we stuck with one piece just to make sure things didn't get broken in our luggage.
We chatted with the owner for a bit who was kind enough to give us recommendations for the areas we were visiting next, and tell us a bit more about his work. If you're in the Chinatown area of Bangkok (or just in Bangkok in general), I'd highly recommend a visit. I can't imagine a better place to get a custom ceramic piece to take home with you. If you're okay with cafe hopping, just a 5-10 minute walk away is CHATA Coffee, one of my favorite cafes in the city.
Once your trip ends and you trade the lush, tropical paradise of Cozumel or mornings on your cruise ship balcony for a snowy city or a messy home, things can feel a little bit depressing. You’re back to the grind, you have a pile of dishes to do, and you’re craving that feeling of relaxation and calm, and sunshine in the Caribbean.
Though you can’t fully replicate the relaxation, and slowed-down pace of a cruise, you can bring some of that Caribbean goodness home. It’s amazing how much our surroundings can impact our mood, so why not spend a few hours bringing some of that tropical wonder back home. With just a few quick adjustments, you’ll be back on island time right in your very own home.
Surround Yourself with Plants and Lush Greenery
I firmly believe that you can never have too many plants in your home, and most people definitely don’t have enough! In the winter time, plants and greenery bring so much life to my 700 square foot apartment, and in the summer, they really bring the outside in. I loved seeing all of the beautiful, tropical plants at the ports I visited in the Caribbean, and made it a point to set up my own after coming back home to a dreary, wintery city. More than anything else, they can really help your space feel lush, and more like a vacation spot.
Though certain tropical plants don’t thrive indoors or without proper sunlight, there are plenty of low maintenance plants that give you a tropical vibe without needing a tropical climate. Most palms are a great pick along with Snake Plants and Bromeliads. I have a few set up in each room, and alternate on sizes and heights to give them more depth. Think about spots like the bathroom or kitchen where you wouldn’t think of adding in plants, and tuck a few in there too! It’s nice to pick up an extra arrangement of tropical flowers from the grocery store here and there too for added Caribbean vibes.
Have Your Favorite Memories on Display
Remember when we talked about creatively displaying your vacation photos? Having a beautiful image from your cruise up will really help bring the tropics back home. Remember, you don’t have to be a photographer or an artist to take and display a beautiful, meaningful image. Other great options are larger scale palm or leaf prints that you can get for relatively cheap.
This doesn’t just limit you to your walls though! I love storing desk supplies like paperclips or thumbtacks in the sea shells I found while on my cruise. I try to find a vintage market or two while on trips, and always make it a point to bring back a little trinket I can display in my home. An old, refinished jewelry box from St. John or a some vintage plates snagged on a trip to the Dominican Republic will give your home a global look, and remind you of your time on your trip.
Sneak in a Surprising Detail
You’ll notice that in hotels or on cruise ships, there’s often a surprising, quirky statement piece in each room. It could be an interesting vase or a chandelier made of sea glass, but it’s that little touch that makes the area feel special and different. So often with busy lives, we make our homes functional above anything else, but adding in something a bit different and bold can really give your home that extra touch. To give your home more of a Caribbean, tropical vibe, aim towards getting pieces that contain natural elements (shells, agate, driftwood, stone, etc.), and remember, just one accessory or fixture can really change up a space. The details don’t have to be large or expensive either. A new woven tray on your coffee table that was woven in the Caribbean or a jute rug in your bedroom can go a long way.
I found this flamingo sculpture (it doubles as a jewelry holder!) a few months after my cruise, and it reminded me of my travels right away. Sure, it’s a bit silly, but it’s a fun touch that people always love and comment on. It was under $30, and though it’s a small detail, it goes such a long way.
Remember Your Other Senses
Though the most obvious thing you think of when trying to bring a touch of the Caribbean to your own home is changing up what you see, remember your other senses, and the factor they can play in how you feel in your home.
For example, I always loved waking up on the ship, opening my balcony door, and immediately getting that scent of salty ocean air. To bring that feeling back home, I added in a few ocean-scented candles to my home. I also got an oil diffuser that really helps transform my apartment into a tropical oasis. There’s something pretty amazing about smelling grapefruit and tropical scents after walking into your place after a long day. Pour yourself a cold drink, and you’ll be feeling like you’re right back on a ship!
Another option is to pick up some of the music you heard while on your trip, and play it around your house while you’re cooking or reading. I find I tie certain music to specific trip memories so it’s always a good way to relax and reflect.
This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.
Firstly, I’ve got to admit that cooking a whole fish can be a daunting task for even a skilled home cook. Will there be more prep? Will it be flavorful enough? What about the bones? While the dish itself can look impressive, preparing a whole fish could not have been simpler.
Back in St. Thomas last year on our Carnival cruise, a local food vendor came by to chat with us during our stay on Coki Beach, and when we asked about a lunch menu, he recommended the catch of the day. 20 minutes later, we were presented with a beautiful, whole fried fish, a side of rice and peas, and stewed vegetables. One of my fondest memories from the trip was eating this delicious, fresh fish right on the beach, and thought it was time to replicate it.
We’ve seasoned the fish with several of the spices that make up jerk seasoning (cumin, cinnamon, etc.), but you could easily purchase a jerk seasoning mix if you want to make the process even more streamlined! We decided to serve our fish with veggies, rice and coleslaw but you can easily change that up depending on what you have on hand.
Ingredients (for fish):
- 2-3 lbs of any whole fish (tilapia, porgy, snapper, etc.)
- 2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger (or 1 inch piece freshly grated ginger)
- 1/2 habanero pepper, seeds removed (optional)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 lemon, sliced
- fresh thyme
- 1 large tomato
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 medium onion
Ingredients (for coleslaw):
- 1⁄2 of a small cabbage, sliced thinly
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1⁄2 of a mango or 1⁄4 of a pineapple, thinly sliced (optional)
- 1⁄2 of a red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1⁄2 habanero pepper, seeds removed (optional)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 1⁄2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Directions for fish:
- Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat, add oil to the pan until it is about 1⁄2 inch deep (oil should be about 350 degrees). Note: you won’t fully submerge the fish in oil. Instead, it will be flipped halfway through cooking.
- Rinse the fish under cold water, make sure to remove any remaining scales. Split the fish down the middle to create a cavity between the filets.
- Mix together the allspice, cinnamon, sugar, cumin, ginger, habanero pepper, garlic, black pepper, salt, and vegetable oil into a food processor and blend to combine.
- Use a brush to thoroughly coat the entire fish with the blended spice mixture inside and out.
- Place the flour on a plate and coat the outside of the fish in the flour.
- Stuff the inside of the fish with 5-6 lemon slices and a healthy portion of fresh thyme.
- Place the fish into the oil and cook on one side for roughly 7-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Flip the fish and continue cooking for an additional 7-10 minutes on the other side.
- Remove the fish from the pan and set onto paper towels to dry.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, red pepper and onions and saute for 2-3 minutes, just enough to get them to pick up the leftover spices from the pan.
- Serve the fish surrounded by the cooked vegetables, squeeze lemon over top if desired.
Directions for coleslaw:
- Combine the cabbage, carrot, mango, red bell pepper and habanero pepper (optional) into a large bowl.
- Whisk together the honey, vinegar, and salt and pour the mixture over the vegetables.
- Cover bowl and marinate for at least one hour in the refrigerator.
This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.