honeymoon in jamaica

Happy 2017, friends! I can’t believe it’s in full swing already.

I’m beyond excited for more travels to come this year, but first things first. I want to finish recapping one of my 2016 favorites – the honeymoon in Jamaica!

If you haven’t read Part I, you can do so here. I rave about the ah-mazing resort we stayed at, Couples Swept Away (CSA) in Negril, Jamaica. I share details on the food, our accommodations, and the first of our activities, including snorkeling! I also share some killer snaps we took with our new favorite travel toy, the GoPro HERO5 Black.

honeymoon in jamaica

Maybe you’re new around here (Welcome!), and didn’t know this girl was a wife. You can catch up with E & I’s “story” here and my first post after the wedding here.

Ok, but back to JAMAICA. In addition to all the good stuff in Part I, sharing a bit more below.

{Water Sports}

A huge reason we loved CSA so much is because everyone on the staff was so incredible. From the talented chefs, to the water sports crew, to our scuba instructors, we honestly couldn’t have met kinder, life loving souls.

Another huge perk?? A whole bunch of water sports and lessons were included.

honeymoon in jamaica

I never thought I’d be able to windsurf. While we were by no means experts, we totally did it. Eric better than me I should mention.

We got a lesson in hobbie cat sailing, Eric kayaked, and we got to stand-up paddle board too. You know you’re in paradise when you’re paddle boarding and see giant starfish below.

honeymoon in jamaica

honeymoon in jamaica

{Glass Bottom Boat Tour}

This was such a fun way to learn more about the coral reefs and see more of the coast. One guide asked us to name a couple big starfish we saw side by side below and no one else piped up. So I gladly said Beyonce and Jay-Z. He dived in, gently grabbed Bey, and let me hold her before returning her home.

honeymoon in jamaica

{Nighttime Entertainment}

So many options! From live steel drums, dances into the night, to beach bonfires – they had so much to offer in the evening. Our favorite by far was the Aura Lounge, where famous piano player Ultimate Chocolate, and singer Miguel, had the whole crowd up in roars of laughter and sing-a-longs!

We chatted with so many awesome couples around this piano, and seeing Ulti and Miguel all up in their element was a pure honor.

honeymoon in jamaica

{Cliff Jumping at Rick’s Cafe}

Rick’s Cafe is apparently one of the top 10 most famous bars in the world, and is known to have the second most beautiful sunset! You can also cliff jump, get drinks, and listen to live music – how could we not go? CSA had a shuttle to take us.

honeymoon in jamaica

honeymoon in jamaica

honeymoon in jamaica

As soon as we arrived, we grabbed some rum cocktails and were glued to the people jumping off the 30 foot cliff.  E decided to give it a go and totally rocked it!*

honeymoon in jamaica

*Confession: I didn’t catch it on camera the first time, so he actually really did rock it because he went twice. And it’s unfortunately a low quality photo. Love you, E. 🙂

{Scuba Diving}

Probably our favorite – getting scuba certified! A beginner’s class and swimming around shore is free at CSA. You can then choose to go with the crew on a real dive for $50. It’s a perfect way to test it out.

E and I thankfully learned we were pretty natural underwater! We fell in love with it, choosing to count the first dive and cost towards our certification. It just took one additional hour of class and a dive the next morning…then we had unlimited dives for the rest of the trip!

honeymoon in jamaica

honeymoon in jamaica

People had mentioned not to do our certification while we were on our trip, but I disagree! Doing your training dives is waayyy better in the sea vs. a pool/lake, let me tell ya. It’s also tons of fun, especially when you’re working with a killer crew like CSA’s.

Need more of a reason? In Jamaica, the cost to get certified was about $450 cheaper than in Chicago. If a scuba certification is something you’re interested in, my advice would be to scope out options at home and your destination! My other advice is to go visit the incredible people of Jamaica and do it at CSA. 🙂

honeymoon in jamaica

honeymoon in jamaica

WHEW. Thanks for hanging in there with me, friends! We were able to check so many adventures off our bucket list, I hope this inspires you to take a tropical vacay in 2017, or just go tackle something you’ve been dying to do!

Days By Day

date ideas

When we all have lots going on in our schedules, it can be tricky to not get stuck doing the same thing. When your finally notbusy, being tired makes it hard to break from the usual too!

With this in mind, I crafted a list of twenty-five date ideas that Eric and I either love doing, or have on our list. Hoping this generates some inspiration for your upcoming plans – whether it’s time with your S.O. or some gal pals!

  1. Tour de Noms, a twist on going out to dinner – pick three new restaurants and try a dish at each for courses of a meal!
  2. Search for a class on Groupon you can take together.
  3. Try out a new recipe. // Eric and I love doing this Sunday nights for dinner. Make extras and you have a couple lunches for the week!
  4. People watch and create backstories. // Airports or parks make the perfect setting.
  5. Hammock outside on a nice day, while reading or jamming to some tunes. // Eric has an Eno perfect for this.                                          date ideas
  6. Attend a comedy show. // The Second City is our favorite here in Chicago.
  7. Redbox + Pizza night –  an easy hit that you can change up by making your own pie!
  8. Exercise together – this can range from a racquetball competition to just taking a really long walk with no destination.
  9. Take a local brewery tour.
  10. Go on a photo booth hunt and collect all the strips you can – Photobooth.net is a good resource!
  11. Wake up early for a Farmer’s Market and grab a fresh breakfast.
  12. Try a new coffee shop – no technology, just books, caffeine, and conversation.
  13. Visit a thrift store or garage sale.
  14. Attend a themed party. // You can see Eric and I got really crafty for Becca’s  Harry Potter Halloween event…                             date ideas
  15. BRUNCH. // A repeatedly tested and true favorite that I had to include.
  16. Volunteer together. // I’m trying to find an animal shelter Eric and I can go help out at.
  17. Check out a local fair or amusement park. // One of my favorite things about a Chicago summer?? All the street fests.
  18. Search for a free concert, play, or sporting event in your area.
  19. Get hooked on a weekly reality show and make brackets to guess the winner. // We probably have too many…Survivor, The Amazing Race, and I may or may not have gotten Eric hooked on The Bachelor drama.
  20. Picnic on the lake…or ocean, or at an overlook, or in a park. Don’t forget seasonal drinks!                                                                            date ideas
  21. Go out to a dueling piano bar. // Eric had a favorite back in Austin – Pete’s!
  22. Double, even triple, dates for trivia night at a local bar.
  23. Rent a couple of kayaks or paddle boards and get on the water.
  24. Taco Tuesday. // So many taco places around town have delicious specials for this night.
  25. Fondue night at home – create your own with assortment with cheese, chocolate, and all sorts of dip-worthy snacks.

Have some date ideas I should add to the list?? Share ’em in the comments, friends!

Days By Day

favorite travel apps

It’s no secret that traveling is one of my favorite hobbies – and to that point, I have a slew of  my favorite travel apps that actually can make planning trips a whole lot easier!

From visits home to Texas, to backpacking western Europe, these five apps have proven to be incredibly helpful. Sharing in hopes that they can make things a little more convenient for any travel plans you have in the works!

Airbnb // Eric and I love using Airbnb when we travel. It’s an instant way to dive into the culture and local spaces of the place we’re visiting.

If you’re not familiar, Airbnb let’s people across the world put their homes, apartment, or even one of their rooms up for rent as a place for travelers to stay. The accommodations range in uniqueness, interaction with host, and amount of guests that can be accommodated.

We used Airbnb throughout Europe last summer, even twice during our week in Paris! Our first spot had the most beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower, and the second was in the cute little neighborhood of Montmartre. Our host in this second space treated us to some much needed Mexican food at the taco shop he owned. His grandmother’s salsa recipe from Guadalajara served as the main inspiration behind it all.

favorite travel apps

favorite travel apps

Find Friends // Now this one is more just for fun. On iPhones you can share your location with family, friends, and vice versa. Find Friends pulls in the locations of those who have shared their location with you and drops it on a big map.

Last summer, when friends were traveling across the globe, it was so cool to see where everyone was. It’s also just a good way to make sure people you’re with get home safe once you split up.

Skyscanner // This app gauges prices for flights to a certain destination, in a specific time frame. You can enter in airports and dates, and it will list prices for flights available in order from cheapest to most expensive. There are filters for flight times, airlines, cost, etc. to help narrow your search.

I never solely go off Skyscanner, because it doesn’t incorporate any deals or sales on the market for the airlines shown. Instead, it serves as a great starting point to feel things out and decide what the next bit of research should be.

Hopper // I love Hopper. It’s like a friend that checks on flight prices every day so you don’t have to.

Hopper shows you a calendar with color coded days, letting you know when flights are the most expensive. You can then select dates you’re interested in flying on, the respective destinations, and Hopper will set up an alert.

favorite travel apps

These alerts pop up every couple days letting you know the lowest flight prices currently available for your trip, and the direction to purchase now or hang tight since lower prices are predicted. Eric and I have definitely been able to snag some great deals thanks to Hopper’s notifications!

Viber // Viber is a must for any traveler wanting to keep in touch with loved ones back home. Eric and I had our phones in airplane mode for the whole month we were in Europe. This app lets you call, video call, and text for free when connected to wifi abroad.

We used Viber to video call our families from Dublin on the first night in Europe and the night we got engaged in Paris. We texted them daily. Viber has come in handy with friends being abroad too. Basically, this app can help bring peace of mind and means no one has to stop talking just because they’re across the globe!

favorite travel apps

Man, all this travel talk has me wanting to dash off to plan a couple getaways for next year. Any favorite travel apps of your own I’m missing on this list?? Share ’em in the comments, friends!

Days By Day

anniversary chicago

Last week marked Eric and I’s one year in Chicago. That is crazy to me.

We had dreamed of doing a big move to a new city after college. One that would challenge us, grow us, and let us adventure together, with new experiences and people.

I can without a doubt say our move to this city has done that for us. It has been the best decision we could have made.

Now don’t get me wrong, we definitely miss Texas, and of course, our family and friends. Also, very much miss real queso, breakfast tacos, and margs.

In the end though, we had grown up in Texas our whole lives, and we knew it would always be there for us to go back to. Which we will one day!

There has just been nothing comparable to taking a leap of faith, moving off on our own – where we’d know almost no one – and making something out of it. Something that was ours.

All this being said, I couldn’t help but reflect on a few favorite memories from this last year in the Midwest. We’ve been pretty darn lucky to do life here with a group of amazing humans. Sharing some of the shenanigans below!

Memorial Day Trolley // What’s the best way to show your visiting BFFs around town? Gather good drinks, jams, and friends for a night of sightseeing via light up trolley.

anniversary chicago

Beach Volleyball // Playing volleyball not only lets me pretend I’m a cool athlete, it also offers a killer view of downtown. Same with runs along the lake. I love getting to enjoy the ah-mazing weather and pretend I’m on vacation, all while staring at the skyscrapers.

anniversary chicago

Michigan & Wisconsin Getaways // E & I love to travel. A big motivation to moving was all the new places we’d have the chance to visit. In January, we headed to a cabin with friends in Charlevoix, MI – so much snow. In July, Eric and I took a weekend trip to Madison, WI – so much cheese. Both so fun.

michigan getaway

F O O D // Just like all of it. I’ve consumed more Thai in this last year than in my whole life – so many good options. Basically every sushi place is BYOB. I’ve got my favorite neighborhood pizza place. Did someone say brunch? Always down to add a place to my long list of faves.

windy city eats

Go Cubs Go // It is impossible not to get caught up in the Cubs fandom up here. We love going to the games and eating foot long hot dogs and chanting along like we’ve been around the whole time. But seriously, it’s fun being a Cubs fan, and last season we got to see them go far.

anniversary chicago

St.Patty’s Day // Did you know St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday here? Not legally I guess, but basically. The day is famous in the city for turning the river green.

anniversary chicago

Sailing // We always see boats on Lake Michigan and think to ourselves we’ve really got to find a friend with a boat. We haven’t yet – but we have a friend with a friend with a boat. That led to spending a lovely day on the water to watch some intense sailing races.

anniversary chicago

Living with Bex // Honestly you guys, without Becca this last year would have been a struggle. Her, E, and I became three peas in a pod and took on the city together. Forever thankful for this friendship. Tip for moving to a new city where you know almost zero people: find a really awesome girl friend who will make you do bur-pees, but also suggest you frequent the corner 7/11 for pints of ice cream. Here’s us being ridiculous, per usual.

anniversary chicago

Seriously, what a first year. Praising God for all these blessings. Through the good times, and in the tough, He’s taking care of us.

Cheers to us Chicago – bring it on year 2!

Days By Day

birthday

It’s always the worst when blogging has to take a back seat, but these last few weeks have just been one busy pow wow and I’ve wanted to be 100% present in all of it. From work picking up with new opportunities, to best friends visiting, to planning wedding festivities – right up to birthday celebrations around town for my favorite human – it’s been crazy and wonderful.

That being said, I want to get back in the swing of things, and figured what better day than today – when I get to celebrate this handsome future husband of mine being born. Happy Birthday, love! This photo is one Feather & Twine took during our engagement session and it nearly kills me. Those looks and that smile – I’m a lucky lady!

birthday

We declared this weekend one of birthday shenanigans and romped around Chi for new adventures, starting with brunch of course. Saturday morning Eric and I ventured to Pomp & Circumstance. I’d been wanting to check this place out forever and had heard their Bloody Mary was on point.

This trendy Old Town spot did not disappoint. Eric and I shared the chilaquiles and Pomp croissant breakfast sandwich. Oh, and the drinks were indeed delicious! We left perfectly happy and ventured into the streets right outside to check out the Old Town Art Fair.

birthday

birthday

birthday

Post-brunch and fair, we dropped by Macy’s to get Eric a much needed new pair of everyday shoes and then made our way to the Chicago Blues Fest. Fun fact – it’s the largest free blues festival in the world! It takes place in Grant park, so the city gets to serve as the most perfect backdrop.

Only challenge to navigate? It was somehow 93 degrees so we were making bee lines for a spot in the shade. That didn’t hold us back though, this fest was a ton of fun.

birthday

birthday

birthday

Sunday brought another cool opportunity. Friends were going sailing on Lake Michigan to watch The America’s Cup, which was being held on fresh water for the first time right here in ChiTown! This weekend long event consisted of different sailing races among countries to determine qualifiers for the final event in Bermuda one year from now.

birthday

birthday

birthday

IMG_8808

It was so awesome to see the city from a whole new perspective – the beautiful blue waters we’re usually looking out to! The cup was really cool. I’m still not sure of all the technology  behind it, but those big racing sailboats for each country get enough wind underneath that it actually looks like they are flying just above the water.

Needless to say, we had a great weekend checking new things off our list and celebrating Eric! He is truly the best, kindest, most loving, brilliant, funny, and wonderful human, and deserves every bit of it and more.

E, I love you a whole bunch! I have loved celebrating the last four birthdays with you, and I hope this next year is the best yet. Cheers to you, love.

birthday

Well, friends, hope it’s a fantastic week! Tonight we’re off to eat tapas and sangria with our Chicago pals to spoil this guy some more, and in a few days I make my way back to the Lonestar State. Wahoo!

Days By Day