Recipe for a Perfect Friends’ Weekend Getaway!

Here’s the thing…

It is perfectly possible to have a great friends’ getaway weekend! I’m going to help you figure
out how in a minute. Sit tight and don’t fret friend!img_2822
BUT

img_2976And that’s a big ‘ol but… it is also perfectly easy to get it all wrong in the same breath! Ack!  I mean, I don’t mean to be a cynic, but the wrong mix and it could go up in flames *snaps finger* like that! Or there is always the boring as all get-out option…img_2996 img_3054 img_3048

Let’s start to find that middle ground then, shall we?? That perfect mix of fun, sassy, outgoing, chill that meshes the weekend into that perfect extended friend hangout!

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FIRST…

You can have a good, solid plan, but still keep it super chill! Sounds sort of like an oxymoron for sure.  A lot of people are afraid of structure because they think it will kill the chill vibes. While this can totally be true, if it’s done right, it works! Trust me, I am the epitome of “Type-A”, so chill is an art form that I’m so desperately trying to attain! I’ve been working and working to find that fine line that is good structure for everyone, yet doesn’t squelch fun right out of the room.

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You, too, men!
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But of course it always helps to have something for them too…

So, what sort of plan do you need to have in place you ask?? 

Here goes! And I promise it’s totally doable…

  • Make sure everyone is on the same page!

This can includes what type of trip everyone wants to have, if people are wanting to spend money or would rather be as frugal as possible {how many dollar signs they want to see on the restaurant reviews on Yelp (i.e. $ or $$$)}, if they want to wake up at the butt crack of dawn and go all day, or sleep in and relax,img_2827

**REMEMBER, it’s ok, also, to break away from the group sometimes if you want!

  • At least put a little thought into what activities, if any, you would like to do while there!

For example, when we went to Fredericksburg, we knew we wanted to go to at least one winery, and climb Enchanted Rock. Other than that, it was play it by ear. And everyone was great with that plan. img_2776 img_2796

  • Create a food plan before you head out!

A little structure goes a loooong way, y’all! We had 3 couples and  5 meals to be made. Each couple was in charge of planning and preparing for 1 meal. Then, the girls did the same for a meal and the men prepared one meal. We then just charged the food on one card, and split it three ways (Venmo has made life so easy for splitting costs!!). We went out to eat once. But remember, our plan for the weekend was super chill, yours might be different. Maybe you only eat twice at the house and eat a lot out…you, obviously, can adjust it to your trip!

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We took advantage of the fresh produce stands on the side of the highway!

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Where to Stay?

This is simple…

Just make sure you choose a place that is cohesive its your attitude towards the trip. For us, like I’ve been repeating, it was chill. So we found an incredible deal split three ways on a perfect ranch house with the traditional Texas flair, complete with livestock!

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And this country girl is not above hopping fencing to reach the animals!

img_3134img_3133 I feel like I’m constantly talking about AirBnB, but time after time, it never fails, we always find amazing places, like this  ranch house, to stay for incredible deals! If you have never used it, but want to try AirBnB for the first time, using this link will save you $35 on your first stay!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite Friend’s Get-Aways! What are some “musts” for you??

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GUEST POST: ROME

So, I have this super fab friend that is near and dear to my heart…

She is all things wonderful and just, well…gets me. She is my blonde sister who I love sharing awkward moments with…

She’s craaaaaaazy good at hair, lives in Colorado, but is Fayetteville funky fresh and I miss her so…

She is also an amazing adventurer, writer, friend, and…yep, blogger….

Claire and her husband, Gray, recently trekked all over Roma and she documented each city they traveled through.

If you want to read more of Claire’s blog, visit Undone 21 Blog!

 

RrrrRrRRrrrOMA. I learned to roll my r’s while in Rome and overused it a lot.

So we flew into and out of Rome, it was the first and last place we spent time in Italy. The day of our arrival was rough. Okay, it was terrible. The worst part of our trip no doubt. A combination of our phones not working, our cards not working, and being generally confused and lost led to 4 hours of wandering before we finally found our Airbnb. Thankfully our hosts were very gracious and patient with us! Our first place we stayed in was perfect- everything we needed in a great location. We were right next to the Tiber river and Campo de Fiori which turned out to be where we spent most of our evenings.

We loved walking over to Fiori for dinner and watching the street performers. One night we watched a clown for at least half an hour make fun of unsuspecting tourists. I loved how such a mixed group of nationalities could all laugh at stupid slapstick comedy! During the day this square turned into a huge market stocked with flowers, produce and handmade pastas.

The Colosseum was crazy. People used to have to fight giraffes.

Our favorite area was the neighborhood of Trastevere. Smaller streets and tons of cafe’s for cheaper prices than near the center of Rome. We ate a couple of times at a spot called Carlo Menta and I got “cacio e pepe” both times. Spaghetti with cheese and pepper. So simple, so delicious. It was here that we first saw how much a liter of wine really is. It’s a lot.

When we stayed in Rome for a second time at the end of our trip, we were so exhausted we barely left the airbnb but to see the Vatican. This second place in Rome that we stayed was by far the most modern apartment we had seen- so clean and everything was white and it was HUGE. We were soooo impressed with this place. Though the location wasn’t as ideal, it was the perfect place to rest and prepare for our flight home.

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GUEST POST: A Fijian Honeymoon

anaMy dear friend, Ana Craft, from Loving Clairefully was just married about a month ago and went on the adventure of a lifetime spending days on the Fijian islands being immersed in the local’s culture, eating what they eat, learning from them, and loving everything about the people from their big smiles to their daily activities and way of life.  I asked Ana to share about their first married adventure. I would also highly suggest you head over to her blog and follow her her life adventure! Food for the soul, y’all! a-fijian-honeymoon

As the island faded in the distance, the twin motors of our cabin cruiser whisked us through waters glowing of green turquoise.  Our destination was a reef off the shores of Qamea known to locals as Cabbage Patch.  We slipped on our gear and dropped into a world of vivid colored underwater wonder.  Schools of skipjack tuna darted by while we explored the coral and countless tropical fish.  We repeated the adventure throughout the day stopping at various snorkel sites before wrapping up with a beachside barbeque consisting of the morning’s catch (that we caught!).

It was just another perfect day of the seven spent on our honeymoon at Qamea Resort and Spa in Fiji.  The resort offered endless opportunities for adventure, exquisite cuisine, and non-stop smiles from one of the friendliest societies on Earth.  It was the perfect beginning to our married life!

Activities at the Qamea Resort and Spa:

Cooking classes – We learned how to make one of their signature dishes, the unique, crunch almond and English cabbage Qamea Sumi Salad. (Yum!)

Basket Weaving – One of the staff members, Bubba, taught us how to weave baskets out of coconut leaves, which was pretty hard to do. I had to have him help me most of the time.gopr2334 img_2204

Qamea Volleyball Game – Every night at 4:30pm there would be a game of volleyball. The staff team would play against the resort guests and things would get heated! Physically and emotionally, but everyone was still a friend in the end.img_2089

Afternoon Tea – The perfect time of the day to relax, have a cup of tea, and fresh made cake that you most likely would end up grabbing a second helping!

Massages at the Jungle Spa – When I say Jungle Spa I mean a literal spa in the Jungle. It was like walking into the perfect dream of deep relaxation while the sounds of the island hummed you to sleep.img_1872 img_1988

Waterfall Hike – We were able to explore the Bouma Heritage Park with an awesome guide named Edmond. Here we swam under two spectacular waterfalls and hiked through a lush green rainforest.

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Scuba Diving – This was the main reason a lot of the guests were at the resort! The scuba diving in Fiji is well known and they even offered beginner classes so you can get certified on the island. Brian and I were able to take a discover course and dived down to 40ft!

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Village Tour – We had an amazing opportunity to see first hand how the Fijians lived and observe their culture. They were hospitable and welcoming as they greeted us with songs and big smiles!

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Fun Fijian Phrases:

Vaka levu (Vaka-ley-vuh) means Plenty

Au Domoni Iko (ahh- ooh doh-mow-knee e-kow) means I Love You

Kerekere means Please

Ni Sa Yadra (knee- sar- yarn-dra) means Good Morning

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An Alabaman Bed and Breakfast: Smith-Byrd House

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When we were heading for the Smoky’s this summer, Joel and I wanted to go off the beaten path (even more so) and find a charming bed and breakfast for the night.  We had stayed in one before, actually by accident, and had the best experience! I’m going to be honest, I definitely was pretty skeptical about staying at these places with people I had never met and sharing a breakfast table with strangers. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

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I searched many places to stay in a rather large vicinity in Alabama and Smith-Bird House caught my eye.  This bed and breakfast was one of very few in the area, and the only one of it’s historical kind! It’s found in Prattville, Alabama just north of Montgomery and full of charm and welcome!

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My favorite thing about finding any new small busines is getting to know the people who run it. The home and bed and breakfast is owned by a couple, David and Beth Melling, and two of the most hospitable and kind people I’ve known. They care deeply for their business and every guest that knocks on their door, as well as, the beautiful town they live in.  They take such care in everything from the way they set up the dining room to the food they serve and the rooms they keep. We got to the bed and breakfast in the evening and decided to explore Prattville and grab dinner. When we returned Beth had tea and a variety of homemade cookies ready for us, which were delicious!

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The bedroom we stayed in was absolutely gorgeous, clean, and welcoming, everything we want when we travel and are tired from being in the car or plane all dayFullSizeRender 4

 

 

Beth is an amazing cook! She grew up in the Georgia/Alabama area .andknows how to make some mean southern dishes! However, she and David lived in Northern California for many years and has an incredible, refreshing spin to the traditionally heavy southern foods. We joined them and another guest for breakfast the next morning with a beautiful, warm spread on the table complete with juice, coffee, and more tea.

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Let’s talk about that tea for a second. Y’all, I take my tea seriously. And I’m not FullSizeRender 7talking Earl Grey out of the bag from your local grocer (which I totally don’t have anything against!), we’re talking gourmet combinations that make my nostrils swoon. Okay, maybe I take my tea a little too seriously. I know some of you are thinking about stopping reading. But if you are trying to imagine what flavors you hope you has, then this place if for you. Beth runs a very busy tea house offering basically every tea imaginable. So, enjoy!

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I don’t know about y’all, but fall makes me giddy, and we are so close to that crispy cool feeling. Well, if you live in Houston we are a little further away from that feeling, but I like to pretend.  Take a weekend trip and take a chance on one of these cozy, homey stays.  And if you’re anywhere in the vicinity of Smith-Byrd, you are one lucky human!

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Our Boston Trip Tips {+Secrets!}

Boston. When we got off the plane, I was asking myself why in the world we decided to come to Boston in the first place. I had surprised Joel for his birthday after crunching finances to make it work.  I like…sorry…love going to new places. It wasn’t necessarily on my list, but I thought it would still be fun. I had no idea how much I would end up falling in love with that city! It has so much to offer! I’m going to tell you exactly what we did, how we did it, and how to make it work on a tighter-than-tight budget!

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First of all, Boston is supposed to be one of the most expensive cities to travel to in the US. I beg to differ.  Like I said…tight budget, love to travel. If you are looking for a luxury trip to Boston, you have stumbled across the wrong blog, darling.  If you love traveling for the culture, cheap eats, and are only at your hotel for a bed, then you have arrived!

I am going to share the key points of our trip and how we managed it.

1.) Getting There FOR FREEEEEEE! Y’all. We are SOLD on the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card.  Two years ago we signed up for this credit card.  You have to stalk their website and wait for the sign-up bonus to go up to 50,000 points.  I don’t claim to be a credit card rewards expert (yet), but I have done my research, y’all! I will talk much more about credit cards and how to make them work for you in an upcoming blogpost! But for now, just know they pay you if you do it the right way! (Extra, extra! BOTH of us flew for FREE to both Boston AND New York City on just our sign-up bonus!!!!!!!!) HELLO!)

2.) Stay/Sleep I want to reiterate right now that we are not luxury travelers. We love culture, experiencing new places, and we are usually not there for chocolates on our pillows but to explore! That being said, we decide (for each individual trip specifically) what we will settle for stay-wise.  We know us, and we know what kind of trips we are taking when we plan them, and they differ from trip to trip. When we planned our trip to Bean Town (which, I found locals don’t like the traditional nickname),  we knew we literally just wanted a place that was warm, that would be semi-centrally located, and had a bed we could fit on.  We started looking around and realized quite a few hostels, have private rooms with full beds.  Yep, its like a dorm where you usually have to use the bathroom in the hallway with everyone else on the floor, but like I said, warm, location, bed! Again, if thats not you, turn around. Committed adventure travelers only. ; ) I found this GREAT place called 40 Berkeley in Boston’s Southend, which is a historic, clean, beautiful, quite place to stay with tons and tons of gorgeous brownstones! It was, also, only a few blocks away from the subway! Score! The room itself was not anything over the top, it was just what we wanted and the right price.

3.) Must Do’s/See’s We are the people that will seek out every high-entertainment, low-cost experience that will make out trip the best possible! And Boston is a gold-mine for these sort of activities.

Freedom Trail This is definitely a highlight for anyone that loves history!  However, I’d go as far as to say this is a highlight for ANYONE! First of all, The Freedom Trail takes you along every historical site in Boston.  It winds through miles of the historic city.  You can absolutely find a tour that will point out the places of interest. We are not these folks.  We want to have the freedom (see what I did there?) to stop off and check out anything and everything along the path! So, instead, we bought a little book chalk-full of great information that took us along the trail to everything we wanted to see, and if it didn’t happen to peak our interest, we moved on.  If we wanted to stop and eat clam chowder on the street, we did! To us, thats the the only way to go! But, the trail takes you all around to see every site possible.

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Fenway Park Personally, Joel and I love baseball! One of our travel goals is to see a game in every stadium in the US. However, I don’t care if you are a Yankee Fan through and through, or you’ve never seen a baseball. Fenway itself is a great story!  We went in early December, after the season had come to a close, so we went on a tour. Honestly, I’m glad we took the tour. Don’t worry, we’ll be back for a game. Boston is a place we’ll be back to several times!

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Sam Adams Tour Its free, and it includes plenty of sampling of their current selections! (Don’t forget to keep the receipt!)

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4.) Boston Eats We do a little bit of research before we go, scanning blogs and Pinterest looking for the well-known hole-in-the-wall treasures.  But we hold those plans extremely loosely.  Our favorite thing to do when it comes to restaurant hot-spots is hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth.  Ask the LOCALS! Duh! I mean who would really know??? So here is the list of places we went, most of which were recommended by, yep, Bostonians.

     Regina’s When we go anywhere new, or anywhere just out of town for that matter, Joel has to sniff out the best hamburger. But me, I have to seek out the finest slice of pizza.  Regina’s is in an adorable neighborhood.  You really can’t find an ugly neighborhood in Boston, though. We went for dinner, and the line did go out the door but was not terrible.

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    Doyle’s (Jamaica Plain)This place was amazing! It had a great Irish atmosphere.  The people working were extremely friendly.  Doyle’s was the first bar to carry Samuel Adams and still has one of the largest selection of Sam Adams beers around.  I had one called Brick Red. It was delicious, but I haven’t been able to find it anywhere else. So you know it’s selective!  **SECRET TIP**The Samuel Adams tour is great! And FREE!! But here’s the tip. Go take the tour first, then take your ticket from the tour to Doyle’s afterward.  If you order a drink in Sam Adam’s specially crafted glasses (which are pricey), you get to take it home for free! Woo! Another perk of talking to locals!

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      Bova’s (Little Italy) **Bova’s is another secrete tip in itself!** This was another exceptional discovering by talking to the locals! The Freedom Trail takes you straight through Little Italy. I could have spent a couple of days just hanging out there. It’s such a quaint, adorable part of Boston. We had to find ourselves a cannoli, of course.  Everything online will tell you that you should go Mike’s Pastry.  However, you’ll be waiting for a long while to get something that you can get right around the corner, with no wait , at Bova’s.  And they were delicious!

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    Mr. Bartley’s (Cambridge) Like I said before, Joel needs to find his perfect patty. So we went on the hunt and found Mr. Bartley’s while we were on our way to Harvard.  The burgers were more than worth the trip out to Cambridge.  The seating is a little cramped and communal, but to us it just added to the charm. Also important, they only take cash! Do yourself a favor, and don’t go to Boston without going to Cambridge. Gorgeous!

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**Just a little tip… Joel and I are straight-up foodies.  We like to eat as many different of the go-to eats as we can when we travel to have that extra cultural, local adventure.  Instead of having the traditional 3 meals/day, we will split meals wherever we go and move on to the next foodie-fave a little while later.

Boston is one of those places that makes every stranger feel like they belong there.  Remember this, also.  Bostonians have a rep for being harsh. EVERY person from Boston we came across was so incredibly kind and wanted to help.  Being from the south, we expect kindness to look a certain way…hospitable, chatty, engaging.  These people were sincere, went out of their way to make sure we had what we needed, and really cared, even with the little chattiness they offered. Love it.

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Boston really is a city that has everything for everyone. I’d totally recommend everyone go at least once…but, I’ll warn you, you’ll want to go back! I’d love to hear about your Boston trip! Let me know what your favorite places and eats were, or if you have tried these recommendations, then I’d love to hear your thoughts! If you have any questions, just comment! Happy traveling!