A trip to Texas Hill Country

Although I already reached my goal of taking 12 trips in 2016, I just can’t seem to stop travelling! Two weeks ago I packed my bags again and hopped on a plane (weirdly my first flight since March!) and flew out to visit my sister in the hill country of Texas.

Although I lived in Texas for six years and have visited frequently since leaving in 2008, I had only been to the small city of San Marcos once before, for a wedding many years ago. I was so excited to explore with a local and see what this place has to offer.

Brunch at The Root Cellar, San Marcos, Texas

Our first order of business, naturally, was brunch. Ally and her best friend Angelica took me to their favorite spot, where I scarfed down as much French toast as I could handle and then marveled at the $13 check. Definitely not in New York anymore!

Texas State University

A tour of Texas State University was necessary, and I have to say it was really fun being back on a college campus! Especially because classes just started THIS week, so there were very few people around as we explored, and the clearance section of the bookstore hadn’t been raided.

San Marcos, Texas

Seriously, San Marcos is just the cutest place – we kept coming back to the square for more food, coffee, shopping and ice cream.

Donuts from Shipley

As usual, this trip was all about the food for me. I demanded trips to Torchy’s for tacos and Shipley for donuts, much to the amusement of my sister and her friends, who eat these delicious treats on a regular basis.

San Marcos River

As you  may have noticed, it was overcast and rainy for my entire trip. A real bummer, since San Marcos is very much an outdoor town! I wanted to go tubing in the river but the weather never cooperated, so I settled for a walking tour on my last evening in town. I seriously felt like I was in a country song!

Greetings from San Marcos, Texas

San Marcos, you’ve won me over. Until next time!

P.S. You can read A’s take on my home on her blog today!

Catching up via Instagram: 11/1/2015

Annnnnd, we’re back.

I had planned to get at least one or two Africa posts up by now, but I’m still having trouble finding words for everything, and so that will continue to be pushed off. Soon, I promise! For now, some glimpses into life in New York City, both before and since my trip.

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Just after my most recent post, fall started and everyone busted out their best cool-weather outfits. Turns out mine and Kelli’s are pretty similar – right down to the hairstyle!

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Nothing better than bookending a day with a morning walk through  my favorite park, and a nighttime walk through the Financial District.

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A night at The Smith and a catch-up with my sweet friend Victoria ended with the discovery of a photobooth in the bathrooms (?!) and the realization that we are both terrible at photobooths.

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Community groups are in full swing, meaning I have a built-in excuse to hang out with friends on Saturday nights.

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The foliage has been gorgeous this season, and this one particular tree on my block was way ahead of the game.

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One of my favorite ways to kill an afternoon: Picking up a book at the Mid-Manhattan Library, walking across the street and reading it on the front patio of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (aka what most people think of when they picture the New York Public Library).

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My friend Misha sends a fantastic Halloween care package every year (she’s close with all three of us roommates!) and I had to laugh when I pulled out this Brooklyn Nine-Nine mug – I’d say the officers look right at home with Leslie Knope, which was a gift from Kelli earlier this year!

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Nothing beats walking across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, even if the temperatures are dipping and the walkway is packed with tourists.

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When I got back to the northern hemisphere, I was thrilled to see that the leaves hadn’t fallen yet. I immediately ditched my bags at home and went for a wander through Brooklyn (ending, of course, at my favorite coffee shop).

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My sweet little brother celebrated his 23rd birthday last week, causing my usual wander down memory lane. Look how cute we once were!

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Yes, more fall! I’m thrilled to report that my attempt to actually enjoy it this year has been mostly successful.

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Was I the only one OVERJOYED when Apple finally gave us a taco emoji?! Of course I couldn’t update my phone right away on the weak wifi in Swaziland, but you better believe it was one of the first things I did upon my return. And then: A celebration at Domo!

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Finally: Halloween. I didn’t plan a costume this year, instead choosing to partner with Emmie the Pinata. I’d say it worked out!

So how are all of you, friends?! Catch me up!

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Catching Up on Instagram: 10/4/15

Life has continued to be insane lately and shows no signs of slowing down until at least November. Between hosting visitors (most recently my person Jordan!) and rapidly transitioning from summer to fall (think a 30-degree temperature drop in less than a week), life in Brooklyn feels like a whirlwind and I’m just caught in the riptide. It’s been fun, though, especially with community groups kicking off this past week! Here’s a little peek…

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My cousin Kelly has friends in Brooklyn, which means I get the honor of seeing her face a couple times a year! Her most recent visit overlapped with my parents’ so we all enjoyed a dinner and night at the theatre.

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I had a pretty bad day a couple weeks ago, and after mentioning it to a couple girlfriends, five of them appeared at my door and magically turned my kitchen into a nacho bar (and then did my dishes!) because they are 100% the best.

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My friends are much more athletic than I am (not difficult to achieve, but they’re insanely fit and talented!) I recently ventured into Manhattan early on a Sunday to cheer on Kelli and Maria in a 10K, and I got to glimpse the sunrise on my walk to the train.

Last week I went on my first major shopping spree in a long time. I usually stick to a list of basics I’m looking for in any given season, but in addition to the unplanned splurges above, I picked up a sweater (my first clothing item from Anthropologie!) when out with my friend Abby.

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Finally, I spent Friday hiding from the pre-hurricane by ducking out of the crazy wind and rain and into Union Square Theatre to see 39 Steps, a comedic interpretation of the Hitchcock film. The perfect way to kick off a weekend that otherwise consisted of lying in bed for two days straight. Gotta rest up for the craziness to come!

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My favorite place for views in NYC: Top of the Rock

Y’all know how much I love a good observatory when I’m traveling. I saw Boston from the Prudential Tower and LA from the Getty, and tried to see NYC from One World Trade, though those efforts were foiled by fog.

Luckily, there is no shortage of places in NYC with views. My personal favorite is Top of the Rock, the three-story observatory at the peak of 30 Rockefeller Center. Rockefeller Center is hands-down my favorite part of the city for many reasons, including the fact that it’s a beacon for the best of the best in both journalism and comedy. The views – of the Empire State Building and Central Park especially – are just a bonus!

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I first visited Top of the Rock in 2008 as a wide-eyed teenager visiting the city. Most of that trip is a whirlwind in my memory, but I do remember pressing my nose against the glass, in awe of this city, while my mom hovered several feet from the edge and warned me not to fall. (Rest assured, mothers – the only open level is the top, and it only opens down to the floor below it.) Since moving here, I’ve itched to go back – but waited for a special occasion to justify the $30 price tag.

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Such an occasion presented itself in August in the form of my sister’s 19th birthday! As you know, she visited Brooklyn and we had the time of our lives, but we did venture into the city for a few special treats. I bought our tickets not knowing what she would think – and she loved it as much as I do! In fact, we stayed well over two hours so we could watch the sunset from arguably the very best spot.

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If you want to go: Tickets can be bought here in advance for $30, or purchased on arrival. There are several entrances to 30 Rock; you want the one on 50th Street. There’s a gift shop at the top. I highly recommend arriving about an hour before sunset to enjoy the best of all worlds – golden hour, sunset, and the twinkling lights. Have fun!

The Getty Museum

In all my trips to Los Angeles, the J. Paul Getty Museum never even crossed my radar. This time around, we only really ventured out there because it was a good middway point between Kathleen’s neighborhood, and where my aunt and uncle live. So we drove out to Brentwood on a Saturday, and can I just say – I was blown away. The architecture, the gardens, the views – I could have an entire day of fun here without even setting foot in the museum itself. The best part is that it’s free, aside from the $15 parking fee – completely worth it, especially if you carpool!

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The architecture couldn’t have been more stunning on a sunny summer day.

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The garden isn’t at its best this year, thanks to the infamous California drought, but I was impressed even by its design. I can’t wait to go back in the future to see it fully in bloom!

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The sweeping views of Los Angeles rival those at the Griffith Observatory (which I visited back in my pre-blogging days). It was a little smoggy so we couldn’t see out to the ocean, but it was still great to look out.

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As for the museum itself, we saw some pretty cool exhibits, including some ancient bedding that child Leigh Anne would have loved. For the most part, though, the best parts of the Getty were outside.

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Special thanks to this guy and his wife for always making time for their nieces.

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And thank YOU, Los Angeles, for yet another incredible visit. I assure you, I’ll always be back.