Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Back in Miami... again!!!

Posted By: Leah
A couple of months ago I went to Miami... again!  It was the third time in 6 months. This time the trip was for the conference that I had spent the previous two trips planning. When I started with my company a year ago, the two conferences like this were logistically already planned. I added the final touches, selected the food, entertainment, and on-site logistics. This conference in Miami was the first one I planned start to finish.

Get caught up on my site visit where I visited Miami for the first time and found the perfect site for the host hotel and conference and experienced Miami Beach for the first time. This post was about my much more relaxing trip. I really had a great time and enjoyed the city.

Back in Miami for the conference there was no time for relaxing, it was four 18+ hour days of work. Fortunately the hotel I selected was gorgeous, wonderful and accommodating to all of my on-site needs and requests. I cannot say enough good things about the property.

Gifts! Yes, I kind of expect personal notes at every hotel now. #spoiled

I arrived and spent the first six hours in my 'war room' aka the meeting room where all my conferences packages were delivered. This was my office and I put together the welcome gifts, name badges and folders. Around 6pm I knew this was my one chance to see the beach, so I ran out just before the sun went down and a storm moved in.

When I came back inside, I had a few final details, but was truly ready for the next day's opening reception and conference registration. What a relief. I ran into a couple co-workers in the lobby and we gathered together some conference attendees and went to an AMAZING dinner. 

The next day I had a little bit of time and ordered a latte. It was a DIY!  cute!

I don't get to take part in the welcome activities because I have to handle registration and make sure everything goes okay with the hotel and guest's check-in. But for those who went to play golf at the Doral, they saw Donal Trump! Here's his helecopter. 

The event went awesome! 

I had a dinner with salsa dancers and Cuban food... so much fun!

I had been busy the first few days of the conference and on the last day had a chance to watch the sun rise. Gorgeous!

Because I was busy all.the.time the chef brought me food to make sure I ate. 
This is salmon and caviar for breakfast!

As a gift for my hard work I received several spa treatments. I wasn't supposed to take a picture, but just had to show the pod! This lady scrubbed me down with a 'caribbean sugar scrub' then closed the pod and jets washed me off. It was like a shower, but in a tanning bed. Ok not the best description but it was pretty cool!

The last day was gorgeous! I mean seriously... check out the view from my room... amazing!

I had to run a quick errand before I left for the airport and took a couple quick pics in South Beach. 

Flights were canceled left and right due to snow on the east coast. I arrived and then was out of work (and Gav was out of school for a week!) due to snow. What a difference!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Me, On Being An Event Planner Part II... Inspiration Flashback

Posted By: Leah
Remember my post last year about how I became a global event planner? Thanks to Netflix, I remembered some more to that post that I left out!

I get asked sooo often about where I learned about corporate and social events, etiquette, style, etc. I mentioned that the movie Pretty Woman inspired me (no, not the hooker part, the fancy Beverly Hills Regency Beverly Wilsire part). This weekend I just happened to be re-watching some of my old favorite shows on Netflix and I found two more inspirations I wanted to share! I bet these will be flashbacks for you too.

The first is Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. That show is fabulous! (Fab 5!) The episodes were made in 2002 or something and they still hold up. From the decor to the fashion, it's truly a timeless show. And I'm SO PROUD of the Fab 5, they have each gone on to do amazing things. ANyhow, in watching the reruns I relived how fantastically hilarious show is, and I have learned so much!

When you're at a restaurant and are eating, how do you let the waiter know you are finished with your meal (other than making eye contact and giving him the 'get over here' face)? The official way to let the waiter know you're finished is to place your silverware in the 4 o'clock position. The resting position means you're still eating. Thanks Ted!

And another thing, that I remembered learning is how to style guy's hair. Back in 2002, I was 3 years away from being pregnant with Gav. But once he was born, I instinctively knew so much about boys, even how to style his hair. You work the product from the back to the front. Thanks Kyan!

Regarding event planning, what this show taught me is that it is all about the details. That the smallest things are what people notice. From how to engage people in conversation and remembering their name (just repeat their name as much as possible and it'll stick! Thanks Jai) to the importance of candles and truly PLANNING AHEAD. The Fab 5 were my mentors!

Another show that inspired me was off of the Style Network (is that even a channel still?) is Whose Wedding is it Anyway. There are several wedding planners on the show, but my absolute favorite was Mary Dann. I completely forgot about the show and Mary. I am so excited to have found it and watch the re-runs. A lot of the issues/problems/solutions, things that are common for events... are experienced on the show. Little things like how to handle running late to an appointment with a vendor, to huge things like a no show photographer... I see the way the issues were solved on the show and think omg this is how I knew what to do in that EXACT situation when it happened to me! And yes, this show was back from around 2003 as well. 

Example: How to handle when a wedding was taking place at a property directly next to MY event.  
(It all turned out perfectly, but I was nervous for a moment... AND the wedding left all their florals and I was able to incorporate them into my conference over the next few days. Bonus!)

What shows from way back have inspired you in your life or career or both? I am so grateful for Netflix and whoever chooses the programming. I haven't had cable for 5 months and have not missed it for a second! (Thanks BF who shares his Netflix acct with Gav and I!)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Need your help please! Warby Parker Glasses

Posted By: Leah
I don't know if you know this about me or not... but I wear glasses. From the months of February to May every year I wear glasses because without them I would itch my eyes out due to seasonal allergies North Carolina pollen.

I got my last glasses from Warby Parker. I love that site. They have designer glasses for $95 including lenses, shipping and 5 pairs to try at home. Don't get excited... this isn't a promo post, I genuinely need your help with picking out my next pair of glasses.

Current Glasses- Langston in Whiskey Tortoise Matte, by Warby Parker

I love my old glasses... I really do. But they are 2 years old. I think it's time for an update. Not necessarily even for work. I was some fun glasses for me. Cute glasses...

 I want some geeky chic, cool, nerdy, you know the style...

So here's what I ordered in my free 5 pair at-home trial from Warby Parker

1) Chamberlain in Whiskey Tortoise
2) Fitz in Whiskey Tortoise
3) Baxter in Pinot Noir
4) Linwood in Revolver Black
5) Seymour in Whiskey Tortoise

*Sorry for the weird faces! It's impossible for me not to make them in selfies.
Which pair of Warby Parker glasses look best on me?
1 - Chamberlain in Whiskey Tortoise
2 - Fitz in Whiskey Tortoise
3 - Baxter in Pinot Noir
4 - Linwood in Revolver Black
5 - Seymour in Whiskey Tortoise
6 - Keep your old ones!
Poll Maker

Oh wait... you aren't familiar with Warby Parker? Just like companies including TOMS, Warby Parker donates a pair (of glasses not shoes) each time a pair of glasses is ordered to someone in need. Warby Parker has boutique glasses styles and the highest quality frames and glair free lenses. They even offer a free 5 pair at-home try-on. They just call your eye dr. and make sure the prescription is less than a year old and you're set. Did I mention they are only $95? And if you don't like any from the at home try-on that's cool too. You don't pay until you order the actual glasses you want. It's awesome. You can keep sending them back and have all the at-home tryons you want with all the styles in colors. They make sunglasses too... and... wait for it.. they even sell a monocle.

Again, like I said... no referral or codes or me getting any kickback from Warby Parker. It's truly an awesome company and I have nothing but amazing things to say about them.

So back to the question at hand... which of the 5 glasses are your favorite? (or did you like my old ones and think I should stick with those??)

PS - Thanks to everybody who has already voted on Instagram (which has taken over blogging, duh). The results so far (according to Instagram only) are 3, 4, 5 and sticking with my current pair.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Back in Miami

Posted By: Leah

Apparently I'm on that "Miami every 3 months" lifestyle thanks to my job. I'm getting ready to fly back down there in 2 weeks, but had to post about my most recent trip from November before I go back!

This trip was a lot more relaxing than the last one. Catch up on my equally awesome, yet super busy trip to Miami a few more months back HERE. 
The afternoon started off with meetings for me. I flew to Miami and as soon as I arrived at the hotel, I met with members of their conference, banquet and A/V team to discuss the upcoming event I am planning.

The absolute BEST part of what I do (other than traveling and seeing cool places) is the tastings! Aside from becoming more acquainted with the conference staff, the main reason I flew back to Miami Beach prior to the conference was for this tasting. You know, to pick the items for the event's many meal functions. 

Tastings are awesome, because the chef prepares a ton of food and comes and tells you all about it. This one was especially rad because Cuban food is AMAZING and Miami has the best seafood and Latin-inspired food!

See that stuff at the top that looks like some sort of seafood salad? It's ceviche and my FAVORITE! I had it three times over the course of the weekend lol!

We had desserts and lots of goodness. I was STUFFED.

I had a few minutes to walk on the beach before the sun completely set that evening. After the sun set, the hotel had  a dinner on the same lawn where my opening reception will be. It was totally worth the trip to see this hotel in action. They do such a great job!

The next day I met with a local planner and we toured around the city in a chauffeured SUV (what!? YUP! We had a black lincoln navigator. It was seriously like I was a celebrity) . I pretty much knew the plans for my conference at the hotel, however it was SO helpful visiting the other sites around the city with a pro. 

We had lunch at a DELICIOUS place called Yuca. And of course... I had more ceviche. I spent some time on the trendy Lincoln Road. If you're ever in South Beach, this is where the most concentration of restaurants, shops, art galleries, etc. is. It's a closed off street about a block off the beach. 

Highlights of my tour with the local planner included visiting the super cool Mondrian hotel.

And the amazing views of South Beach from the top of Juvia restaurant

There's a super popular place to get stone crab, but it was Saturday night and that place was slammed. I went to Monty's instead and it was amazing! SO glad I finally got Stone Crab (and even more Ceviche).

Of course I had to make a stop on Ocean Drive... it is so busy and crazy all the time. I think it's pretty much just for tourists, but who knows. It's like a non-stop club that spills out into the street. It has the neon and the art deco Miami's known for. 

I had a little bit of down time on Sunday and got to hang out on south beach!
(Plus the rain held out, thank you sunshine!) 
This is a view from the beach of the hotel I chose for the conference. Picking out hotels is like picking out your wedding dress. You always wonder if it was the right choice, and know everyone will be looking and commenting. I feel so good about this property. It is just great. Not that I didn't love it when I chose it back in August, but this trip cemented my feelings and I am looking forward to my conference in February. I know they will take amazing care of my entire group. 

As soon as I started to relax, it was time for the next property! 
This one was in the true heart of South Beach. 

Yes, I could have stayed a 3rd night at the property where my conference will be held, but due to the busy time of year I was visiting, they could not comp my entire stay. Because my work was paying, I did the right thing and found a slightly less expensive hotel for my last night. I absolutely LOVED this hotel. No, not loved it more than my conference hotel. But this is a place where if I ever came back to South Beach on vacation, I would 100% go back. Yay for Orbitz and the great deal! 

What made this hotel different was the crowd was hipster young professionals, lots of people from Europe, and just a really hip, fun atmosphere with an AMAZING pool. They had beach butlers!!! Like, this dude who worked at the pool laid down my towel and made me a little pillow. Even brought sunscreen and magazines. On the beach, the butlers do the same thing, and make up the lounge chair with towels, bing you food & drinks and give you sunscreen (no I didn't have them apply it... but probably should have... just wait for the photos below...)

One of the highlights on this trip, was on Monday I had a chance to go back to a wildlife sanctuary in Miami. Unfortunately, we'll be going in a different direction for the off-site dinner during my conference, but I did get some more amazing photos and time with the super sweet animals while I was there! Also got to see the bird show with macaws and other gorgeous birds flying overhead. 

I tried to edit this one, because I got a BAD sunburn Sunday when I had a chance to hang out by the beach. The Miami sun is HOT even in November. I was sitting indian style for literally only 30 minutes and had a completely roasted leg (just 1 leg) hahah. 

Oh and I had a roasted chest. 

I can't wait to do a future event in Miami, because I truly think this is a special place. What attendees wouldn't love coming home with once in a lifetime photos like these?  I consider myself very lucky and fortunate that I had the opportunity to visit  and hold amazing animals two times during my Miami sites. 

 In a recent meeting, one of the top sales people in my company said something that I think is so true. He said "I've found that the harder I work, the luckier I am." I couldn't agree more! I have some AMAZING trips in store for 2014. I work my booty off for each conference, and feel blessed that this is the career path that I have chosen. Every job before this was a stepping stone to where I am now. I've always been at the right place at the right time in my life. 

Big things to come!  But first... next stop... back to Miami!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Not a sponsored post- The most amazing thing ever. All truths.

Posted By: Leah
If you're my IRL friend, or my FB friend or even IG friend you know there are some products I've been talking about non-stop... it's Norwex. Have you heard of it? I never had until a friend introduced me.

I feel like I've discovered something magic. It's revolutionary, it's safe, it's earth-friendly, and life changing. Honestly... I'm mad at everyone who knew about these for not telling me about it until now. Where have you been all my life Norwex cloths?

I only have two Norwex products currently… but seriously they have changed my life! The Envirocloth makes my house (especially my bathroom and kitchen) crazy clean, using only water. The Body cloth somehow cleans my face (and the rest of me) using only water… I know it’s crazy! Some kind of antibacterial silver microfiber magic is in these and is AMAZING!

The Norwex Envirocloth has these micro silver things that keeps it antibacterial, while the microfibers somehow clean... using just water. I know, it's too good to be true. But it's seriously true! Tonight I was packing for a trip this weekend for work and got an old suitcase out of the back of my closet to take that was GROSS. Like cat puke or who knows what on it. I barely dampened the Envirocloth with water and touched the top of the suitcase and it was CLEAN! I have no idea how it works... and only uses water. AMAZING! I have this icky like rust or something in my bathroom... this takes it right off when even clorox couldn't remove it. Impressive!

The Body Cloth, the other Norwex cloth I own is even better. It has the same microsilver antibacterial stuff and microfibers, and using ONLY WATER gets me clean. Like as in no soap. It even works on my face and I have crazy sensitive, dry skin. It's actually helped my skin be less-dry because I'm sure the fancy cleanser and exfoliating creams I use were drying it out worse. And for the rest of me... no soap needed! I can't explain it, but it works. This time of year I go through body scrub like a champ. My skin gets sooo dry. Not a problem with this cloth, I just smooth the damp cloth over my skin in the shower and it's totally exfoliated! But like I said, super safe and I use it on my face too!
(that's my super clean and not crazy dry skin for once in my life yay!)

How and where do you get these cloths, I know you are asking, right? Well... it's one of those at home parties. Like you have to have a rep to sell it to you because they are pretty exclusive cloths. Not expensive, it's just not a widely distributed product.

So because most of you don't hang out with me you know, like on the weekends and stuff, instead of holding an 'in home party' I'm holding an online party! It's next week, November 12th at 9pm EST ONLINE! If you're my IRL friend I've probably already invited you (check your FB event invites). If we are not FB friends but you're interested let me know! You can order through the website for my party  HERE. but if you want to take part and join the party for real, there will be specials, door prizes, etc. but only if you join my online party! Email me with your legit real facebook name and I'll add you!

*Disclaimer- I'm truly this excited about the Norwex products that I HAD to take it to the blog. I am receiving no compensation for this post. Only the hope that you will trust me when I say you are missing out if you don't have them in your life. They have a 60 day return policy, so there's seriously nothing to lose except a bunch of dirt, chemicals, and gross dry skin. Um it's a win-win with these. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Me: On Being an Event Planner

Posted By: Leah
You know how some people just know  what they want to be when they grow up? Like fireman or policeman or doctor (had to think of something not ending in 'man'). That's how it's always been for me. ..

I saw Pretty Woman when I was 8 yrs old. I ditched my dreams of being a stewardess (my first dream job, this was prior to the term 'flight attendant.') You know the part in Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts goes shopping then the mean ladies in the stores treat her like trash? Then everything is made right when the general manager of the hotel takes her shopping and shows her which fork to use... I wanted to be that guy. But not really... what I wanted was to help people know about the fancy shopping places. And send them to the best restaurants and help them with know which fork to use. I wanted to make things happen... I wanted to be the one to set all that up. I just didn't know what job that was. I knew it wasn't a fireman or doctor.

Here I am 25 years later as an event planner. I plan very high level VIP events in fancy cities in the US and in Europe. It's my dream job.

One of the most common things people ask me about my current job is what is it exactly that I do. So often at events I plan, attendees say "oh you do what my daughter wants to do."  I guess have pretty much every girl's dream job. So what is called exactly? What is it that I do?

I am a global event planner and work in marketing for a privately held company that has Fortune 500 clients. In the past six months, I've been to Florida three times (Clearwater, Orlando and Miami), as well as Budapest, Hungary. Today I was on the phone with venues in Paris, Las Vegas, Miami (again), and Phoenix. I plan conferences, dinners, activities, and fun once in a lifetime opportunities for clients and prospects of my company all around the world. I have a trip planned in the next week to Miami. I'm going to one of the fanciest golf courses in the US. People wine and dine me. They want me to select them for my events. It's pretty awesome. It's also A LOT of work with a lot of deadlines, decisions, and people who hold me accountable for each detail.

I've worked for hotels, caterers, convention and visitor's bureaus, a convention center, and prior to my current position; I spent 4 years planning logistics for events in a large healthcare system. I've worked on every side of the event process from venue, vendor, and most recently, a planner. I've worked for non-profits as well as in a corporate setting.

You know how I mentioned some people are born wanting to be a doctor, or policeman? I was born wanting to coordinate events. I have never worked in a position that did not support this goal. Every job I have has built my resume. Because of that, I have a bachelor's degree in it, as well as almost 12 years experience planning events. And I love it.

The next question I get a lot from other people is how do they get a job planning events, because lets be honest, everyone thinks they can do what I do. And to give an honest answer, yes I think anyone who has planned their own wedding, their child's birthday, heck... even planned their own vacation can do what I do, because that is all a part of it.

What has allowed me to work in this field since college breaks down to a few things that can truly help anyone, no matter what field you are in.

We'll call this section Leah's Career Advice: 

The first is networking. They say "It's all about who you know." And that is the absolute truth. I networked my way into three fantastic college internships (yup I did 3- I worked in a hotel, I did marketing, and had an internship in event planning). I networked my way into my first position post-college by attending a "Christmas in July' hospitality industry networking event at an area hotel. I ran into a girl in my major who introduced me to the hiring manager at the local convention and visitor's bureau and the rest is history.

The second is experience. For the jobs I've gotten that were NOT based on who I knew, it's my experience directly in the field that scored me the interview. I have never 'settled' for a position that is not in my field. This is important, as some people jump from job to job and are less worried about building their resume. If you want to be an event planner, only work in jobs that support that.

The third is organization. I will admit it, I'm a clutter loving person. I like to keep my desk with everything in plain sight aka messy. This, however, has nothing to do with how I organize events. I am a planner by nature. Because of this, I plan everything WAYYY in advance. Like as far ahead as humanly possible. I am absolutely not a last minute person. Also, I want to provide the people I work with as much detail as possible in as simple to understand terms as possible. I like making notebooks with tabs. I send emails with bullets and the bullets have bullets and then numbers and then a, b, c broken down under that. I make schedules planning things down to the minute. I think it stems from in high school and the recurring dream of not knowing which class to go to next. Or having the other dream where I skipped a class all year and not knowing. Because of this, I don't trust my own memory. I already know I'll forget something. I write everything down as if I wake up with amnesia and don't know what time to go to work. That's how I do it. And people love it. I give them confidence to do their job while I worry about the rest.

The fourth is personality/attitude/grace under fire. This is truly the one thing that separates the good planners out there from the not so good. Every property I work with since forever complements me on how easy I am to work with. At some point planners got the bad rap that they were these bossy task masters. In actuality, that is not necessary for a perfect event. We all have the same goal- to hold an epic event. As the saying goes "you get more flies with honey than vinegar." And as a 'southern belle' planner, that's truly my thing. I can get the best rates on everything by being honest, real, and open throughout the planning process. I don't play 'hard ball' or hold back information hoping to 'strong arm' into getting my way. I'm upfront and say what I need. If it doesn't happen, I handle it directly. I ask what CAN happen. And when things go wrong, I handle it, expect service recovery, and move on. It's just business. While nothing should be taken personally, there also is no need to be rude. ever.

The fifth is taste. This is another area where people say 'oh I could do this.' What planning comes down to is not your own personal taste... because believe me, I don't look like I stepped out of the pages of vogue. I know a lot about etiquette, but I'm not Miss Manners all the time. Nor do I need to be. What is important is I am a good judge of people and can determine other people's taste... meaning what they want. A great example is when I was recently in Miami. I was there on a site visit for my company to select a hotel, and some other activities for my work's upcoming conference. I know my company's clients, I know their demographic, what they would be comfortable with and it is my job to pick what is the best for the company. Not what I think is the best if I was going on my own vacay. My job is to put others first in all things. To ensure their expectations are exceeded and go about this in a seamless, professional, yet warm manor. I am the one they trust with their special requests, food allergies, if they need a room to breastfeed in... trust me, I handle it all. I am the biggest hotel snob ever, however sometimes the fancy brands we all know and love aren't always the best. It's an eye for detail, making sure there's no chipped paint, scuff marks, and the staff is very very happy. That's what makes a great property.

I hope this better explains what I do. Basically, it's a field that is crazy fun, crazy busy, and not everyone is cut out for. A lot of planners talk about the 'high' they feel during events. That all their hours, weeks, and months of preparation have paid off. It is compared to a 'runners high' or the euphoric feeling where you are so excited you can't sleep. I would say this is how you know this is the right field for you. Some people experience post-event stress. I (knock on wood) have never experienced this. But it is common for some planners to become either stressed out or in some cases depressed after an event. Have you heard of the 'post wedding bridal blues?' It's similar to that. I guess for planners who don't have 80 zillion things they are working on they can feel sad their event is over. Another thing I've seen first hand is planners take advantage of their situation. The drinks are free, the music is loud, so why not have fun? That gets the buzzer. The brake lights. You are getting paid to manage an event, not paid to party. It's amazing to me how many planners try to operate with hangovers. Trashy.

Wedding planning. I must mention that I, like 99% of the girls out there have wanted to be a wedding planner at some point. Remember the movie with J. Lo and she had that bridal emergency kit? I love that stuff! Weddings and social events are a blast! However these are hands down the most difficult to plan. Not because the vendors are any different to work with... social events have more emotions involved. Weddings have crazy mothers of the bride, aunts who think they are supposed to be the planner, lack of funds, last-minute emergencies, all sorts of drama. Plus they take place on the weekends! Great if you don't mind giving up your weekends, but not so great if you prefer more 'normal' hours. Social events are the same as weddings. Generally these take place on the weekends and unless a bossy-natured event planner gets involved, these can equal drama as well.

If you want to get involved in planning events, even if you don't have the degree and experience, there are tons of ways to start. The best is volunteering. If you are a member of a church, a PTA, have a local animal shelter, a library, anywhere... they would be thrilled for you to help. Organizations have all sorts of events from fundraising to volunteer appreciation events. By starting small, you can build your resume and gain experience. Even at your current job, I'm sure there's a holiday party you could get involved planning.

And you guys... stuff does go wrong. Vendors don't show up when they are supposed to. There is traffic. Your 'helpers' have family emergencies or just don't show up. Participants get lost, co-workers request your help on other projects. Your awesome ideas get shut down and you have to go with other people's less than stellar plans. It happens. You gotta roll with it and have backup plans to the backup plans. Let's face it, something will go wrong at every event. That's the one thing you can expect. What I love is thinking on my feet and handling the situation with ease. This is what makes me shine as a planner. A creative solution for a seemingly impossible situation.

What else? Are there any other questions you have about event planning you've always wondered but not known who to ask?

The last thing I will address is the downside. Every job has a downside. And everyone's downside is different. So what I think is the toughest part of being a planner is probably not necessarily what another planner would say. For me, I get lots of recognition. No matter what organization I've worked for, I have gotten mad props, or kudos, or whatever you want to call it for doing my job well. Awesome for me, except this puts me in the spotlight and reminds others that I have a job that they don't have. I have the type of job everyone thinks they could do (and probably could). Therefore I'm a target for people trying to elbow their way into my position. Some are upfront and clear with their intentions. Some are sneaky and take more of the dirty, throw you under the bus approach. Fortunately for me, these instances are not super common, but it does happen. It's a fabulous, glamorous looking job. Some days it is glamorous. Most of the time it's just a whole lot of work. Sometimes a year of planning for a 4 hour event. You have to put your pride aside and put others first. Above everything else, that's what makes a good planner great.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Weekend in Charleston, SC

Posted By: Leah
A few weeks back... you remember that weekend... the crazy unseasonably warm one? Gav and I took a weekend trip down to Charleston, SC to see my sister/Gav's aunt Sarah!

You remember Sarah from the wedding and other posts.

Gav had an early release day from school and I took the afternoon off of work and we hopped in the car and drove and drove and drove down south to Charleston, SC!

I've been to Charleston for day trips a few times in the past. But hadn't been there in about two years. Sarah is getting her master's degree at College of Charleston, and what a super fun city she lives in!

If you haven't been to Charleston, this is the 'downtown' area which is really just tons of really nice high-end stores, restaurants, galleries, etc. 

We brought Sarah's min-pin Rosie and stopped for gelato. They even let Rosie have some vanilla and she loved it!

We were pretty tired from the drive and turned in early. The next day we headed down with Rosie to Sullivan's Island to where they have a 'dog beach' aka they let dogs run free on the beach!

I didn't get any good pics of the hundreds (literally!) of dogs playing in the water and on the sand, but I got this great shot of Gav!

And I insisted we do the feet in the sand shot... it's just necessary. 

Sarah's roommate was dog sitting that weekend a french bulldog named Hank. He was hilarious. 

We went to the Charleston Farmer's Market downtown and then over to Battery Park to walk around. 

Something really historic happened there... and clearly Gav just liked climbing on everything. 

Here is the Cooper River Bridge! It's a crazy huge bridge connecting Charleston to Mt. Pleasant. 

Here's Gav and I by the water near Battery Park.

We went back downtown and found this cool store that has wooden blocks. Gav had a blast building with Sarah. 

We also found the Moon Pie General Store! It smelled sooo good in there! And who knew there's like 10 flavors of moon pies? PS if you're not from the south... a moon pie is sort of like 2 graham cracker cookies with marshmallows in the middle and dipped in chocolate... basically. 

Clearly we like to eat :) Sarah's bday was coming up in a couple weeks, so I took her out to a special birthday dinner at this super awesome pizza place called Monza. It was crazy good. 

I had spotted a cupcake shop earlier in the day and made sure we stopped by after dinner!

Brunch in Charleston is a must! Sarah and I got bottomless mimosas. I got shrimp and grits, she got eggs Benedict, and gav got pancakes of course!

Have you ever been to Charleston?

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