Hi y’all! It has been a hot minute since I did a life lately post—almost a year, in fact. These have always been a good way to update you with the happenings in my life, and I will try to bring them back on a more regular cadence. Today’s life lately post is a little round-up of some recent trips I’ve been on over the last few months that I didn’t write full-length posts on for one reason or another.
When we started the year, I don’t think I realized how busy the first half of the year would be for me. Starting in April, I had a whirlwind travel schedule—from Charlottesville, to Puerto Rico, to Chicago, to Austin, to Scottsdale, to Ocean City, to Wilmington, and most recently, to Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. I had so much fun, don’t get me wrong, but it was quite exhausting at times, and my wallet was definitely feeling it, too. I’m excited that the second half of my year will be a lot lighter on travel, leaving more time, and money, in my life for things here at home.
In terms of work, while things are still busy, they have calmed down from the end of last year, which has also freed up more of my mental space for other things—it’s been really nice. We are still working from home, but are planning to return to the office three days a week after Labor Day. It’s hard to believe it’s been over two years now since the pandemic began and we were sent home “for a couple of weeks.” Much like it was an adjustment to start working from home, I am sure it will be an adjustment to going back to the office. For one, I am going to need to refresh my work wardrobe—over the past couple of years, I’ve mostly invested in athleisure or clothes I can wear on the weekends or on vacation. For another, I’m sure the earlier wake up call won’t be easy. But, I do think it will be nice to see coworkers in person more often and feel like I am more out and about in the world.
But enough chit chat—here’s a look at my life lately:
MY COUSIN’S WEDDING IN CHICAGO —
Back in April, my family spent a long weekend in Chicago for my cousin’s wedding! If you’re looking for Chicago recommendations, I recommend reading my trip recap from 2019. I usually don’t write recap posts from trips I’ve taken for weddings since so much of the weekend is focused around wedding-related activities and not super relevant to a wider audience—which is why I thought this would be a better fit for this life lately column.
We flew in on Thursday morning and stayed in River North. When we arrived to the hotel, it was lunchtime and we were hungry. Bub City was a block away from our hotel, and it was one of my favorite spots the last time I was in town. They’ve got the best country music playlist going and with the most unpretentious, approachable vibes. My family ate lunch and was enjoying some margaritas, when my aunt, uncle, and cousins joined us. About half an hour later, more family came by, and we had the best impromptu happy hour. As much as I love to plan, it’s sometimes those spontaneous things that stick out in your mind as the best memories.
My family is the classic big Catholic family, and there are too many of us to invite to a rehearsal dinner—if you had to invite all the family, it would basically be the size of the wedding! As such, over the years, my cousins and I have developed a fun tradition of always having an event while the real rehearsal dinner is going on. For this trip, my cousin organized our event at Barstool River North and then we met up with everyone who had been at the real rehearsal at the hotel bar.
On the wedding day, a bunch of my family all ended up at Lou Malnati’s for lunch, which was great—you can’t go to Chicago and not get deep dish! The wedding itself was gorgeous, and I am so happy that my cousin found a wonderful match. Jennifer and I stayed out and shut the bar down at the after party with a bunch of cousins and just had the best time. Needless to say, the day after was a somewhat slow day, but we did manage to make it down to Navy Pier and over to Millennium Park to see The Bean.
iHEARTRADIO COUNTRY FESTIVAL IN AUSTIN, TEXAS —
The weekend following my cousin’s wedding, I went on a work trip to iHeartRadio Country in Austin, Texas. I am really lucky that my job has given me so many wonderful opportunities to travel and attend amazing events over the years. If you’ve been following along with me for a while, you know that I love country music, so this was a dream assignment for me. My role on-site at this events is to host our influencer and/or reporter guests and ensure they have an awesome experience. With our influencers, I also help them capture content and then approve it before they post it to their channels. It’s been so fun to develop and execute our influencer strategy over the past few years as this is an area of marketing I am so passionate about (clearly!) and it’s an area of my job that all the knowledge I’ve learned “on the job” at A Touch of Teal has greatly helped with. It’s really cool how life works out sometimes.
The concert was on a Saturday, so I flew into Austin on Friday afternoon with my colleague from our social team who was also staffing the event. We had Friday night off duty, so we made a fun night of it. I’ve followed El Arroyo on Instagram for years to see their world-famous signs, so when we decided we couldn’t go to Austin and not get Tex Mex, it was the obvious location to check out. I really enjoyed our meal here—they had an amazing patio and delicious food and margaritas. They also have a little gift shop in the restaurant where you can get merch with their signs—I picked up a hilarious pack of magnets. (I noticed their merch was also all over the airport if you can’t make it while you’re in town!) After dinner, we headed over to Rainey Street and hung out at Unbarlievable. This was a bar Jennifer and I checked out when we visited ATX back in 2019 and it’s such a fun place because they have a slide! (We definitely got some Boomerangs!)
Most of my work was done before the concert, which was great as it meant I could really enjoy the lineup—everyone was fantastic, but the two performers that stood out the most to me were Maren Morris, who is one of my favorite artists, and Carrie Underwood, because no one, and I mean no one, puts on a show like she does. (A week after I returned from Austin, tickets to her next tour went on sale and I’m so excited to see her in DC early next year!) This was my first time at an iHeartRadio concert, but it’s a great format as each artist has about a 20-25 minute set and they tend to play all their hit songs. I’d highly recommend it if you ever get the chance to go!
KRISTYN & COREY’S WEDDING IN WILMINGTON —
The first weekend of June was a great one as I went down to Wilmington, North Carolina to celebrate the wedding of two of my dear friends—Kristyn and Corey! Kristyn and I met through blogging back in 2014 and have had so many amazing times together ever since; and I met Corey through Kristyn, about five years ago when they started dating. (You may remember I recently went to Kristyn’s bachelorette in Scottsdale!)
I was honored to be a bridesmaid in the wedding, and because of my role, I had booked a flight out on Thursday night after work given the rehearsal and rehearsal luncheon were scheduled for Friday morning. The afternoon I was supposed to fly out, a classic DC summer thunderstorm rolled through—so while my flight was on the later side, it caused a huge backup at the airport. The storm’s lightning caused a ground stop, which meant planes couldn’t take off or land. Eventually, that started to lead to delays and things just snowballed from there. When I arrived to the airport, my flight was on time, but then they started doing that thing where they delayed my flight by 30 minutes at a time, so I knew things were not looking good. However, I was trying to stay optimistic because we did have a plane at our gate. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have a flight crew to fly it, so after five hours of sitting in the terminal, our flight was cancelled. Luckily, I was able to just head back home for the night, versus being stuck in another city, and I was able to get on the first flight out the next morning.
When I arrived at the Wilmington airport, I changed into my rehearsal outfit in the bathroom and took an Uber directly over to the venue. Luckily, I basically walked in right as the rehearsal was starting, so my flight delay didn’t cause that much havoc at all! After the rehearsal, Corey’s mom threw a beautiful luncheon at The Pilot House right on the water. Other than scooping out all the One Tree Hill filming locations, I haven’t spent much time in Wilmington—it’s such a gorgeous town with lots of good food and I’d love to be able to go back when I really have time to explore soon.
Later that evening, there was a welcome party for all guests who were in town and wanted to attend, hosted by Corey’s aunt and uncle. Y’all, this was one of the most fun parties I’ve ever been to! They had a beautiful backyard with a tent set up, a fun band, and a food truck—we were having an amazing time, and then a huge storm rolled through, and that’s when the real party started. We were all huddled under the tent together while it poured, but the band kept playing and the drinks kept flowing. Talk about memorable! This is a party we’ll be reminiscing about for years to come.
The wedding itself was gorgeous—held at the Brooklyn Arts Center right downtown. Kristyn surprised Corey with the Clemson Tiger at the reception, which was a huge hit, and provided a late night snack of McDonald’s burgers + fries, which was truly a dream.
A SATURDAY SPENT AT NATS PARK —
A few weeks ago, my cousin Kara Marie was celebrating her birthday and we all went to a Nats game! This was my first time going to a Nats game since before the pandemic and it was so much fun.
A block away from Nats Park is an outdoor bar called The Bullpen, which has become an institution over the years—a lot of people head their before the game to have a few drinks, and some people even stay there throughout the game. So that’s where we started our afternoon a few outs before the first pitch. On the bar menu were some of the best vodka lemonades I’ve ever had—Jennifer, Lindsey, and I had a few rounds of those and they were definitely very strong, hah!
We were lucky enough to go to the sellout game where they were retiring Ryan Zimmerman’s jersey and so they were giving out Zimmerman koozies at the bar. The Nats ended up losing to the Phillies, but it was still a winning afternoon in my book.
WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO THE REST OF THIS SUMMER —
Last week, my family went to Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, for the week and that was the last trip I had on the books for a while. As I mentioned before, I am really looking forward to enjoying the dog days of summer right here at home. I really thrive on routine, and all that travel made it harder for me to stick to healthy eating, working out, and consistent sleep schedule, which definitely has ripple effects in other areas of my life.
While I have some fun things on the calendar to look forward to—like my friend Emma coming to DC for a weekend or celebrating my friend Jackie’s birthday at L’ardente, I want to make sure I keep some of my schedule open for the fun stuff that tends to pop up last minute in the summer. I think fall is going to be super busy at work again, so I am just trying to enjoy a slightly slower pace of life now while I can.
I RESIGNED MY APARTMENT LEASE (!)
I wanted end with some news that makes me very happy—I resigned my apartment lease! When my new lease starts in October, it will be year three of living in this Clarendon apartment, the longest place I will have lived by myself. (I lived in my first Arlington apartment for a year, and then lived in Dupont for two years. I moved into the apartment I am in now back in September 2020.) This fall also marks five years of living alone, and it’s just crazy how time flies.
Of all the apartments I’ve lived in, this one is by far my favorite, so I am really grateful that my building didn’t raise my rent too much (and they didn’t raise it at all last year). I’m also feeling really lucky that I don’t have to move—because we all know moving is the worst and is a lot of money, time, and mental toll.