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.

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

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

COVID-Friendly Holiday Presents on a Budget

COVID-Friendly Holiday Presents on a Budget

2020 has been a tough year for all of us. Record unemployment numbers and a volatile stock market have made finances hard for everyone. With the holidays coming up, you might be wondering how you will be able to show others around you that you care about them without breaking the bank.

Miniature Tate’s Chocolate Chip cookies are the perfect gift for your co-workers and neighbors this year. Not only are they delicious, but when bought in bulk, they come out to be $1 per bag on Amazon. In addition to being budget-friendly, these individually packaged goodies are also COVID-friendly. While baking is a lovely thing to do for your friends, I wouldn’t recommend it this year. Whether it’s a possible exposure to COVID or Salmonella in the eggs you use, you just don’t want to risk spreading illness through baking. So save yourself the hours of work in the kitchen and buy pre-packaged goodies this year.

Photo courtesy of Tate’s.

Whether you’re on a budget or not, these crispy cookies make a wonderful treat that I know your acquaintances will enjoy. I love them because they are already packaged in adorable green bags so all you need to add is a red ribbon and a hand-written note to share your appreciation for the recipient and you’re all set!

Last year I gave mini Tate’s cookies to my co-workers as well as my husband’s and they were a hit so I figured I’d do the same thing this year. It took me about 20 minutes to cut the ribbons and tie the bows on each bag and in total, I spent less than $30 to create 24 gifts.

For a full video on how I assemble these treats, check out my instagram page. I hope you love this budget and COVID-friendly idea and let me know what your friends think about it!

XO,

Brit

WFH Style

WFH Style

Working from home–or WFH as it has been coined, once a situation many dreamed of, now seems here to stay. As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, in-person meetings have been swapped for zoom meetings, and a new genre of clothing has emerged…Work From Home Style. Luckily, comfort is key in the WFH trend and pairing comfortable pieces with laidback sophisticated pieces will have you looking on point for your all of your virtual appointments.

Working from home is a major adjustment and while many of us thought it would be a temporary situation, we are now six months in. At this point, we just need to embrace our new normal and be thankful for the time we’re saving each day getting ready. Although working from home is more relaxed than your look needs to be in the office, there is still an unspoken dress code… or at least there should be. By mixing sophisticated pieces with casual loungewear, you can achieve a polished work-from-home look. From easy t-shirt dresses to work-appropriate leggings, I will show you five looks that will be great for Zoom calls and keep you comfortable for the whole day.

Brit’s Tips for Working from Home Comfortably:

  1. Comfort is key
  2. Mix easy pieces with a polished top or blazer
  3. Amplify your look with accessories from the waist up
  4. Save your skin and do a minimal version of your usual makeup
Heather Grey Juliette Collarless Blazer, Emerald Cut Earrings, White T-shirt, Black Sports Bra, Black Scalloped Leggings, Fluffy Black Slides
White Knotted Shirt Dress, Classic White Superga Platform Tennis Shoes, Sweet Sentiments Positivity Bracelets, Silver Hoop Earrings
Grey Luxe Lounge Set, Gold Hoop Earrings, Pashmina Wrap, Golden Goose Sneakers
Lap of Luxury Cream Knit Set, Fluffy Slide Slipper, Missoni Striped Headband, Nicola Bathie Golden Flower and Pearl Earrings, Karen Walker Philo Round Blue Light Glasses
Black Knotted Headband, Jennifer Zeuner Jewelry Margaux Extra-Small Hoop Earring, Black Belted Sweater Dress, Tkees Black Leather Slides

What have been your favorite WFH pieces the last few months? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

XO,

Brit

Back to Brunching

Back to Brunching

Depending on where you live, you might be able to go out to brunch this weekend! Here in Texas, restaurants started opening last week and this weekend, I am ready for brunch! I’ve already made reservations at Clark’s in Austin and I’m a little too excited about getting a frozen cosmo and oysters.

Since it has been more than two months since I last had brunch, I have already started planning my outfits for this weekend. From flowy dresses to pastel-colored shorts, I’m sharing my favorite outfit options for this weekend!

Pink Dress, Bucket Bag, Necklace, Bangle, Wedges
White Dress, Earrings, Clutch, Belt, Shoes
White Top, Pink Linen Shorts, Earrings, Pink Sunglasses, Fendi Bag, Bow Sandals

Are you brunching this weekend?! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the looks and how it is to get back into the swing of things!

XO,

Brit

Quarantine Meal Planning

Quarantine Meal Planning

Coronavirus and quarantine have totally changed the way I plan for meals. In the days before COVID-19, I considered grocery shopping to be one my favorite hobbies. Heading to Central Market, grabbing a glass of wine and leisurely strolling the aisles until I found something totally inspiring to make for dinner was part of my weekly routine.

I’m not sure why, but I hate having a lot of food in my refrigerator and until a month ago, I only used my freezer to freeze blueberries and bananas for my daily smoothie. Because of this, I would go to the grocery store three or four times a week and only buy exactly what I needed for the meals I was making. But now, going to the grocery store is no longer a thing of leisure, it is an essential task that needs to be taken seriously.

Before I make my trek to the store, I open up my favorite cookbooks and make a meal plan for the week. My biggest sources of culinary inspiration come from *Queen* Ina Garten, Alex Snodgrass of The Defined Dish and Tanya Zuckerbrot of F-Factor. All three of these women create the most incredible recipes that are accessible and easy to master at home. After deciding on which recipes to make, I take an inventory of my pantry, spice cabinet, refrigerator and freezer to make my grocery list. By making a detailed list for the store, you ensure that you will not only get everything you need for your meals, but you will also avoid spending too much time in the store, which in turn, keeps you and other shoppers much safer.

Monday: Oven “Fried” Chicken with a honey glaze, rice and an HEB salad kit.

Oven “Fried” Chicken with a honey glaze, rice and an HEB salad kit.
  • 1 lb. chicken tenders
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. corn starch + 1/3 cup cold water

To make the chicken tenders, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter completely and pour it on a sheet pan. Pound the chicken tenders with a mallet. Combine flour with cayenne pepper, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Dip chicken tenders first in the flour and coat on both sides, then dip into the eggs and finally in the panko bread crumbs. Set the chicken on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes on one side, flip the chicken and bake for another 10 minutes. To make the sauce, combine honey, soy sauce and minced garlic in a sauce pan over medium heat. Once the mixture starts boiling, stir in corn starch and water mixture to combine.. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken, serve with rice and salad.

Tuesday: Pederson’s uncured kielbasa sausage with mushrooms, onion, orange bell pepper and spinach, served over rice.

Sausage with Veggies and Rice.
  • 1 Pederson’s uncured, no sugar kielbasa sausage, thinly sliced and divided
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 package mushrooms
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 2-3 handfuls spinach

To make this dish, sautée the sliced and divided sausage in a deep pan with 2 tbs. olive oil for 5 minutes. Next, add onion and bell pepper, stir for another 3-5 minutes, then add mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Finally, add spinach and stir to combine and serve over rice.

Wednesday: Pan fried salmon served with F-Factor cauliflower fried rice.

Pan fried salmon served with F-Factor cauliflower fried rice.
  • 2 (4 oz.) salmon filets
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced

Pat salmon dry and coat with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, when oil is hot, but not smoking, add salmon–skin side up. Season skin with salt and pepper and cook for about six minutes. Flip over and add chicken stock and lemon juice. Serve over F-Factor Fried Rice and enjoy!

Thursday: The Defined Dish’s Cajun Chicken Pasta.

The Defined Dish’s Cajun Chicken Pasta

Friday: Roasted Halibut served with Ina Garten’s Rosemary potatoes and an HEB salad kit.

Halibut with Roasted Potatoes and salad.

The Defined Dish is an excellent resource for healthy and often Whole30 compliant meals that are also incredibly creative and easy to make. F-Factor recipes are all very healthy and light on calories. I love learning from Tanya about how to live a healthier lifestyle and as a registered dietician, her insights on portion recommendations and substitutes for cooking have been so helpful for me. I use Ina Garten’s recipes when I am looking to make a really classic meal and also when I am trying to make something for a special occasion.

I hope you enjoy the recipes this week! Leave me comment to let me know how they turn out for you and if you have any questions for me!

XO,

Brit