Miami Travel Guide

Miami Travel Guide

Known for its stunning Art Deco architecture, sunny beaches and impossibly fun vibe, it was an easy choice for us to make Miami our first trip of the year. After spending a long weekend with my husband and pup in the beachside haven and scouring the city from South Beach to Little Havana, I’m sharing my travel guide for Miami with all of you.

I hadn’t been to Miami in more than a decade and the lure of 80 degree weather in January was just too enticing to pass up on. Because of recent COVID outbreaks around the country, we were a bit hesitant to actually go on our trip, but we were able to get flights on Southwest for next to nothing and got a great deal on our hotel room.

When looking for a hotel in Miami, it’s important to know which part of town you want to be in. If you’re interested in South Beach, I’d recommend the Faena or the Miami Beach Edition. When we booked our original trip, we found a deal on the Betsy Hotel and jumped on it. Although the Betsy photographs well and has a wonderful staff, I would not recommend staying here. The building is dated and the crowd that hangs out around the hotel is rough to put it lightly. We were very uncomfortable the one night we did stay there because the room smelled, we could hear noise from the street outside all night and the room just did not feel clean. The Betsy claims to have beach access, but it is not done through the hotel, it is done through a third party and you have beach access with a lot of other people.

After one night at the Betsy, we quickly switched over to the Four Seasons Miami which is located in the heart of Brickell, the city’s financial center. Although we had to give up the beach, we were so thrilled with our move. The Four Seasons Miami offers impeccable service, a stunning pool, an outdoor area that worked so well for our dog and clean and comfortable rooms (although a bit dated.) If you’re looking for a Four Seasons property on the beach, I’d highly recommend the Four Seasons Surfside. Unfortunately, this gorgeous hotel was a bit out of our price range and further away from most of the things we wanted to do so we decided to stay at the Four Seasons Miami. Another bay-side gem is the Biltmore Coral Gables. When we would go to Miami when I was younger, I would always tell my parents that if I lived in Miami, I would live in Coral Gables and I stand by that today.

If you’re looking to party, South Beach and Miami Beach will be perfect for you. From buzzy clubs and restaurants to partying on the beach, you’ll be happiest here. Brickell also offers a pretty cool night life scene with great restaurants and hotspots like Komodo. Keep in mind that Miami is currently observing an 11 p.m. curfew, but clubs are still open.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed vibe, Bal Harbour/Surfside and Coral Gables/Coconut Grove will be the place for you. Bal Harbour and Surfside offer beach access, luxury shopping, fine dining and several celeb sightings while Coral Gables and Coconut Grove are a bit more laid back and not on the beach.

For fabulous shopping, museums and excellent dining, look no further than the Miami Design District. From public art installations to the famed Institute of Contemporary Art, you will leave this creative neighborhood feeling inspired and ready to take on the rest of Miami. If you’re looking for a bit of history or you have a cigar lover in your group, Little Havana should be on your list. Walking through this neighborhood just minutes from downtown, you feel as if you have been transported to 1965.

We LOVED the food scene in Miami, so much so that I actually ranked our meals from the trip and wrote a full review on them. We originally had reservations at Makoto, but had to cancel them because it would have taken us too long to get up there. If you’re staying in the Bal Harbour/Surfside area, definitely make reservations there one night.

Casa Tua, Mandolin and La Mar are not to be missed if you’re in Miami and if you’re looking for a classic Cuban sandwich while in town, look no further than Sanguich de Miami in the heart of Little Havana.

Houston Hobby Airport at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, January 24th.

COVID Travel Update

As most of you know, my husband and I have felt comfortable traveling to a few places during the pandemic. Everywhere we went, we felt safe because of small crowds, extra precautions people and places were observing and especially because all of our flights were not full. Well those days are over.

All four of the Southwest flights we were on for this trip were completely packed. Miami was packed. Although everyone wore face masks, I did not feel safe in many situations during this trip. Although I am very thankful we were able to go on this trip, had we known about the massive crowds we would encounter on the trip, we would have definitely reconsidered. I wish airlines would do their part and go back to keeping middle seats reserved for flights, it’s not responsible to have that many people in a confined space during a pandemic.

Miami Restaurant Rankings by Brit

Miami Restaurant Rankings by Brit

When we were planning our trip to Miami, I had high expectations for the weather and beaches, but wasn’t thinking much about the food. After living in Houston for six years, I became quite spoiled by the *highly* underrated food scene and am usually disappointed by the food in other cities when I travel now. But I was not disappointed by the Miami food scene at all, in fact, I was quite blown away.

To share my culinary adventures with all of you, I’m ranking the seven restaurants we ate at during our trip. We barely scratched the surface when it comes to Miami dining so this is in no way a ranking of all Miami restaurants, only the ones we ate at during our three-and-a-half-day stay.

  1. Casa Tua

Our best meal in Miami was at Casa Tua. The vibe was unlike anything we’ve ever experienced and the food was excellent. We ordered a fish carpaccio, octopus (the best dish we had on our entire trip), the Mushroom Fettuccine (which they are apparently known for), the Red Snapper and finished off our meal with the Italian Casa Tua Doughnuts.

The Red Snapper with the Mushroom Fettuccine

No matter where you are seated for dinner at Casa Tua, you will have the most enjoyable time. Each dining area is unique and oozes sophisticated European charm. COVID guidelines were well respected here and we will definitely be back.

2. Mandolin

A very close second for our dining experience in Miami is Mandolin. This mediterranean bistro is a true gem and should not be missed when visiting Miami. Set in the lush gardens behind Miami’s famed design district, the striking blues and whites that make up this restaurant make you feel like you’ve been transported to Greece.

For lunch, we ordered the Cheese Saganaki, the Ali Nazak, Greek Salad, the octopus and French Fries with Greek Yogurt. We ate every bite and wish we could have tried more, but we were so full. In addition to the lovely setting and insanely good food, the service was excellent and the restaurant felt clean and respectful of COVID guidelines.

3. La Mar

We also loved La Mar. This hip Peruvian restaurant is located in the Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key. The food was outstanding and we had the sweetest waiter. We ordered the Roll Anticuchero, the octopus, the Arroz con Mariscos and the whole fish which was de-boned, cut up and fried into small bites.

I will say that there were a couple of things that led to La Mar not being my top restaurant of the trip. First of all, I did not feel safe in regards to COVID. This place was packed and restaurant workers were constantly asking patrons to put their masks on, which was unnerving. I do think the restaurant could restrict the number of reservations they take or limit the number of people who are just standing around to alleviate this issue. Secondly, the restaurant terrace is overlooking the bay, which is lovely, but people were smoking on the pathway right beneath the tables which was awful. Third, because the restaurant sits at the base of the hotel, many people use the two entrances on the restaurant’s terrace to get into the hotel so that means random people are walking by your table all night.

4. Edge at The Four Seasons

We ate at the Edge at the Four Seasons twice during our stay. Once for breakfast and once for lunch and we really enjoyed both meals. I noticed the adherence to COVID guidelines the most here compared to any of the other restaurants we ate at. The tables were well spaced and very clean, patrons and workers were required to wear masks (when not at their table) and the food was great.

For breakfast we had coffees, the baker’s basket–a butter croissant, a chocolate croissant and a croissant filled with cream cheese and jam, and the Honey Nut Granola Parfait. For lunch one day we shared a burger and fries by the pool and it was amazing.

5. Sanguich de Miami

Of course we had to go to Little Havana when we were in Miami! After a little cigar shopping, we popped into Sanguich de Miami for Cuban Sandwiches. This sandwich shop is really a hidden gem in Little Havana. All of the sandwiches are made on fresh Cuban bread and are made with high-quality meats.

Cuban Sandwich

Sanguich de Miami was also really good about COVID guidelines and the restaurant felt very clean and safe. There is usually a line so if you’re looking to save time or avoid the crowds, you can order ahead online seamlessly.

6. Mignonette

Mignonette… I’m still replaying this experience in my head because I had high hopes for it, but I don’t find myself wanting to go back. The food we had was good, but there were a few things that threw the experience off for me.

Located in the up-and-coming Edgewater neighborhood, Mignonette is housed in what was once a gas station. They did a fabulous job transforming this place, but upon entering, I smelled something very muggy and musty and that’s not great when you’re about to eat seafood. We also sat at the front of the restaurant which has a large window so all of the oncoming headlights were a bit much for me. Another thing that detracted from the experience was that the waiter originally helping us left unexpectedly during dinner and we were not helped again for quite some time by another staff member. I also ordered sparkling water several times that never came. All of this is to say that our dinner at Mignonette was good, but I don’t think we will be back.

7. LT Steak & Seafood

LT Steak & Seafood, the main restaurant at the Betsy Hotel on South Beach was our least favorite of the trip. Since we stayed at the Betsy our first night in Miami, we had lunch there when we arrived–a burger and the Spicy Crispy Rock Shrimp roll– and then breakfast the next morning where we had oatmeal and the Betsy Breakfast. Although the service could not have been better, the food left quite a bit to be desired. With so many other options in the area, I regret having had two meals here.

Miami Packing List

Miami Packing List

Miami here we come! When I think of Miami, color is the first thing that comes to mind so I’m packing my bags to the brim with my favorite summer clothes and counting down the seconds until I’m on the beach.

I think one of the keys to an easy weekend trip is to not check any luggage. But that is a lot easier said than done. I always travel with my Away Bigger Carry-on because it gives me plenty of room to fit a complete weekend wardrobe. I’m also bringing my favorite beach bag as my smaller carry-on so I don’t waste any space in my suitcase. I bought my Naghedi bag last summer as a beach bag, but I ended up wearing it around town all the time. It is great because it is water resistant, the sand flakes right off of it and it looks so sharp.

To keep your packing concise, I recommend planning your activities and outfits in advance, packing outfits in a similar color palate so you only have to bring one pair of going out shoes and one evening bag. Since we’re going to Miami, I’m packing colorful outfits that work well with neutral accessories. For this trip I’m bringing my favorite Bottega dupe from Amazon and the Castañer lace-up wedges. These shoes seamlessly transition from day to night and are the perfect accent to all of the clothes I packed.

What are your favorite things to do in Miami?! Leave me a comment and let me know!

XO,

Brit

J.Crew Sale Takes an Additional 60 Percent Off of Year-Round Styles

J.Crew Sale Takes an Additional 60 Percent Off of Year-Round Styles

J.crew is offering an additional 60 percent off of year-round styles today with the code EPIC. From winter coats to bikinis, you can now get your favorite styles for pennies on the dollar.

Blue and White Cover-up, White Halter Dress with Rainbow Stitching, Pink Knotted Headband, Pink Turtleneck, Floral Embroidery Sweater, Leopard Hair Tie, Blue Coat, Leopard Cover-up, Blue and White Striped Waffle Pajamas, Camo Jacket, Leopard Coat

What are you loving from the J.Crew sale? Leave me a comment and let me know! Happy Shopping!

XO,

Brit

Bridgerton Style in 2021

Bridgerton Style in 2021

Bridgerton might be the best thing that happened to television in 2020. The Regency period drama directed by the great Shonda Rhimes has brought intrigue, nostalgia and glamour to an otherwise bleak time. I have now watched it three times and since I can’t hop over to the Modiste for a new dress, I’ve scoured the internet to bring Regency glam to 2021.

Empire silhouettes are the hallmark of Regency style clothing. As evidenced by the clothing in Bridgerton, many of the ladies at the time favored pastel colors and delicate, flowy fabrics. In addition to the empire style, corsets were used during this period to shrink waistlines and accentuate the female figure.

Since the show aired on Christmas Day, “Regencycore” has been trending as the latest fashion phenomenon. Luckily, many designers have already added Regency-inspired designs to their collections. From Empire waistlines to bow embellishments and pretty pastels, you too, will be able to look like you’re heading out to promenade along the Thames.

What did you think of Bridgerton? Will you be rocking the Regencycore style?! Leave me a comment and let me know!

XO,

Brit

Will You be My Valentine?

Will You be My Valentine?

Valentine’s Day is less than one month away! I wouldn’t say Valentine’s Day is my absolute favorite holiday, but I do love it because I love all things pink! Today I’m sharing my favorite items for love day that can work as gifts for yourself or your loved ones.

I hope you all have a happy and perfectly pink Valentine’s Day this year! What are your plans for the special day?! Leave me a comment and let me know!

XO,

Brit

Snow Day in Austin

Snow Day in Austin

Snow has come to Austin! When I checked the weather the other day and saw snow on the report for this weekend, I thought it might be a light dusting, but we have had actual snowfall all day. It is beautiful and we have had the best day as a family playing in it (Charlie for the first time ever!)

Growing up in Utah, I loved skiing, but a whole winter of snow and cold temperatures was never really my thing. Now that I know I’ll be back in 65 degree temperatures by Thursday, one day of snow actually seems pretty nice. To stay warm, I broke out all of my winter clothes that I normally pack for trips to Montana and Utah, and my husband has been cooking his bolognese all day.

Grey Pom Hat, Sunglasses, Black Jacket, Black Scarf, Black Leggings, Smartwool Socks, Sorel Boots, Grey Gloves

One thing I’ve learned about surviving cold weather is that it’s more important to be warm than cute… something I wish I would have grasped in middle school. A few years ago I finally broke down and bought the Sorel boots with rubber soles and fur tops. I always thought they were the most atrocious boots, but they have saved my life and mood in the cold! I used to try to wear my Ugg boots everywhere, but once they are wet, you get SO cold!! These boots may not be the cutest, but they keep you warm and dry all day. Underneath my boots, I always wear Smartwool socks, they are the best and wool is a great insulator.

No matter the season, you’ll find me in my Lululemon Align leggings. They work for a yoga class in the summer and for skiing in winter, and especially well for lounging around the house all day. I’m so sad that my Burberry jacket isn’t made anymore because it is one of my all time favorite pieces. It works for several climates because of the liner that is easily removable and it is water-resistant with a stylish hood.

To accessorize my winter look, I threw on my favorite Zara scarf, fluffy hat, Gucci dupe sunglasses and cozy cashmere gloves. I will say that cashmere gloves are not the most practical option in the snow and they are dry clean only, but they are SO soft and feel like blankets on my hands so I love wearing them.

Our first snow day as a family of three!

Of course on a day like this, you have to cook something that will warm your soul so my husband made his bolognese. Several years ago when we were in Napa after hitting a few vineyards on a freezing day, we had lunch in Yountville at Bottega and we had the best bolognese we’ve ever had. After that lunch, Will studied the bolognese and the ingredients they used and obsessively watched Frank Prisinzano cooking videos to create the perfect bolognese.

Will says that contrary to public opinion, bolognese is a meat-based sauce, not a tomato-based sauce. Much like Frankie P, Will does not consider this a recipe, but rather a method so it’s not like the other step-by-step recipes I’ve shared with you all before.

Will whipping up his delicious bolognese!

Will’s Bolognese Method

Ingredients:

¼ lb. Pork

¼ lb. Ground Beef

¼ lb. Lamb

4 Carrots

4 Stalks of Celery

1 Yellow Onion

A few pinches of salt

Pepper to taste

Olive Oil

Whole Milk

White Wine 

Chicken Broth

1 can Tomato Paste

1 Bay Leaf

Parmesan Cheese

To Make: 

  • Heat olive oil in a deep pan and add salt and pepper. Add all three meats to the olive oil and sauté until brown. 
  • Roughly chop vegetables and add them to a food processor. Pulse until blended. Add vegetable mixture to the browned beef.
  • Add white wine to the beef and vegetables and cook until there is no moisture. 
  • Add tomato paste and combine.
  • Add milk and broth to the mixture and turn heat to low. 
  • Add bay leaf and let mixture simmer for at least 30 minutes but could be several hours if you want.
  • Serve over pasta of your choice and top with freshly grated parmesan.
  • Enjoy!!
Voila! Will’s perfect Bolognese!

I hope you all love this bolognese “method” as much as we do and that you are all staying warm tonight! Happy Sunday friends, I hope you have a great week ahead of you!

XO,

Brit

Hitting Reset for 2021

Hitting Reset for 2021

Happy New Year, friends! Although not much has changed this week from what happened in 2020, I am excited for the fresh start that a new year brings. Rather than lumping unrealistic expectations on myself and calling them “resolutions,” I have decided to do a modest reset as I begin the new year.

In many ways, I still can’t believe 2020 is over. It feels like it was the longest year of my life and the shortest at the same time. At the beginning of last year I never would have predicted what was to come. After years of working toward my goal of getting an MBA, I had finally started my program and I really thought I had life figured out. I had a great job, was getting my MBA part-time, had amazing friends, a wonderful husband and a supportive family.

By March my world had completely flipped…my husband and I moved to Austin for his job and as we were unpacking the boxes in our new home, the coronavirus pandemic shut down the world as we knew it. Without a job and confined to my home for quarantine, I decided to start this blog.

The Austin Motel in April 2020.

While 2020 was an incredible year in so many ways, it was also pretty tough. Because of the mental toll moving, leaving my job and friends took on me, I fell into some bad habits that I would like to break in 2021. To start 2021 off differently than 2020, I decided to give my life a metaphorical and literal reset. For the first two weeks of the year, I’m focusing on not drinking, not getting a spray tan, eating well and walking every day. I’m also de-cluttering my life by cleaning out closets and my digital spaces.

I’m not one to throw definitive blanket statements on anything so I don’t want to say that I’m done drinking forever, but throughout this past year I’ve realized I really don’t like who I am or how I feel when I am drinking so for now, I’m taking it out of my life. That might be two weeks, two months or indefinitely…I’m not sure.

It’s very Marie Kondo, but I’m also cleansing phone contacts, unfollowing people who do not bring me joy and deleting apps I don’t use to create a more positive mental space for 2021.

I am hopeful that by making these small changes I will become a better version of myself in 2021 and that the world can become a better place too. There has been a lot of hurt and hardship over the past year, but I really believe that our darkest moments lead us to brighter days than we ever could have imagined.

What are your hopes and goals for 2021?!

XO,

Brit

Golden Turmeric Curry

Golden Turmeric Curry

Feeling under the weather after the holidays? We have been too. The non-stop drinking, over-eating and little-to-no sleep left me feeling pretty bad when we got home from our Christmas and New Years celebrations. This week I’ve been focusing on cooking foods that are not only healthy but that will also help kick this cold I’ve gotten and what could be better to do that than turmeric?

Known for its golden hue, turmeric is an antioxidant, a natural anti-inflammatory and is believed to negate the progression of cancers and brain diseases. To receive the benefits of this super spice, I decided to make a turmeric-infused curry tonight. In addition to the turmeric, I threw in a ton of veggies and other spices that will hopefully have me feeling back to normal by morning.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken tenders (pounded and diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 4 tbsp. yellow curry paste
  • 1 can of coconut milk (13.5 oz.)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • Basmati rice for serving

To Make:

  • Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for five minutes. Stir and make sure the onions do not burn.
  • Add the diced chicken to the onions and cook for another five minutes. Make sure the chicken is cooked through.
  • Add the garlic, turmeric, ginger, coriander and cook for one minute.
  • Add the curry paste, coconut milk and carrots to the mixture and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and cook for another five minutes.
  • Add the spinach and stir until wilted and remove from heat.
  • Serve the curry over basmati rice and top with cilantro.
  • Enjoy!
  • Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for five minutes. Stir and make sure the onions do not burn.
  • Add the diced chicken to the onions and cook for another five minutes. Make sure the chicken is cooked through.
  • Add the garlic, turmeric, ginger, coriander and cook for one minute.
  • Add the curry paste, coconut milk and carrots to the mixture and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and cook for another five minutes.
  • Add the spinach and stir until wilted and remove from heat.
  • Serve the curry over basmati rice and top with cilantro.
  • Enjoy!

In addition to it being healthy and delicious, I love making curry because I only have to use ONE pan! It makes the cooking a breeze and the clean-up even easier! I hope you love this golden curry and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it. Happy cooking!

XO,

Brit

New Years Eve Looks

New Years Eve Looks

2020 is coming to an end in just two days. Can you even believe it?! In addition to being rid of what has been the toughest year for many of us, we will finally get a chance to celebrate a new year beginning. Whether you’re celebrating at home, going to dinner or getting together with a few friends, I am sharing some beautiful outfit options for you to wear during this festive time.

This year my husband and I will be celebrating New Years Eve with Champagne and shucking oysters on the beach. We are in the northern part of Florida so the days are sunny and beautiful with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. I’ll be wearing an outfit much like the one below…a chic sweater, my favorite Levi’s and some slippers that are easy to slip on and off when I’m walking in the sand. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but lately, I’ve been needing to carry a big bag with me to hold everything I need from masks to wipes and toys for my dog and this tan Ampersand Apostrophe tote is perfect for me!

If you’re going out for the night, I’ve chosen one look based on what I wore last year and a new one based on a shining golden star.

Last year we had the most wonderful dinner in New Orleans with friends for New Years Eve. I wore a Retrofête dress with black heels and absolutely loved my look. I think if I did it again, I would have added green earrings to add a little color to my look.

I ABSOLUTELY love this look and would definitely be wearing it if we were going out this year. I normally wear darker colors on NYE, but something about the golden starriness of this look makes me happy and hopeful for a new year. Of course I had to pair it with the starry night clutch, because what else would you wear with a starry look?

Star Tiara, Silk Sleeping Mask, Feather Pajamas, Star Blowers, Black Mule Heels

Because of COVID, I’m guessing that most of us will be staying in on NYE night. But staying in doesn’t mean you can’t dress up! I am totally obsessed with this party at home look and will probably be wearing it myself on NYE. Let me just start with the shoes…run, don’t walk to get these! They are Sam Edelman and currently on sale at Nordstrom. I bought myself a pair and are SO happy with them. They look like the very trendy Amina Muaddi heels but for a fraction of the price. Whether you’re wearing them with feather pajamas and sipping champagne on your couch or pairing them with leather leggings and going out to dinner, these shoes are stunning!

I also highly recommend getting yourself a pair of Sleeper feather pajamas. They are so fun and luxurious that I know you will love them. I save mine for special occasions like my birthday or Christmas, but they are also quite perfect for NYE at home. Throw on a starry tiara, a sleeping mask and some festive blowers and you will no doubt be the best dressed at home.

I hope you all love these looks and have a safe, happy and healthy NYE and an even better 2021!!

XO,

Brit