Road Trip Travel Essentials / Michigan Monday


Nothing says “summer” like a good road trip, and they are definitely one of my favorite seasonal pastimes. It’s not quite summer yet (even though the few 80 degree weekends we’ve already have almost have me fooled) but it’s definitely time to start planning. NP and I are hitting the road in a few weeks to visit our grandparents in the Mitten, so I thought I’d share a few of my road trip essentials today!

organizationOrganization is paramount when you’re on a long haul trip. There’s nothing worse than having to fish your phone out from between the seat and the door when it slips off your lap at 70mph on the highway, so it’s important to have easy access and give everything its own place. I have one of these helpful little friends to help me keep tabs on my phone and easily be able to see my GPS map. It’s also great to utilize any nooks and crannies your car has in order to stash things you need easy access to – your wallet for a gas station stop, or Kleenex and meds you might need along the way.


For a long time, I didn’t have a phone charger that worked reliably. I finally got one recently ($5 at Target checkout, holla!) but I would instead use my juice pack. I have a Jackery External Battery and it’s compact, portable, and holds two full charges. It does take awhile to recharge, though, so I plug it in overnight next to my door so I remember to grab it on my way out!


Of course, you have to have the basics: plenty of snacks! I always keep my car stocked with boxed water, snacks, and the saving grace of my last marathon drive to Michigan – Surge! I also make sure to start the trip off right and make a Shakeology shake as I’m leaving the house so I have energy and nutrients for the drive. My snack bag is always stocked with trail mix and snack size chocolate bars when my sweet tooth kicks in, but almonds, carrots, apples and peanut butter are always along for the ride as well.


No matter what, I am always freezing cold. (Unless I’m parked next to a pool in a bikini with a fruity drink in my hand, anyway.) I’ve taken to always having a blanket with me – if I’m working from an office, if I’m at a friend’s house, I just like to be prepared. For road trips, that means my trusty Snuggie gets taken along. (I can even wear it if I’m cold while driving…… not that I ever have.)


Over the last year I’ve really been getting into apps more and more – some of my favorite travel ones are GasBuddy, which will tell you where the cheapest gas in your area is, and Along the Way, which shows you fun attractions on your route. As far as GPS, I much prefer Google Maps over Waze or Apple Maps. Apparently Waze is much improved since being bought by Google, and I do love the collaborative nature of it (the accident notifications were great,) but I used it twice on long-distance trips and both times it took me a significant distance out of my way, so I just stick to straight Google Maps now. Don’t leave home without a great plan (I’m partial to this “Ultimate” road trip of my home state) and of course, you have to have the perfect playlist!

What are your must-haves for travel? Any road trip essentials that might make our drive feel that much shorter?

Heaven is whenever we can get together… / Record Store Day 2015

It’s the most wonderful musical time of the year: Record Store Day! I’ve been lucky enough to sit in on town hall planning meetings and post-mortems in the past, so this is an event very dear to me. I went to my first Record Store Day back in 2009 at Vertigo Music in Grand Rapids, MI, and I’ve been going ever since. If you’re unfamiliar with the what and why of RSD, here’s some background:

Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1400 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally.

Last year’s releases didn’t slay me, and I was only able to find one on my list (The Muppet Movie OST!) but this year there was a slew of fantastic releases that I just wanted to get my grubby little hands on – including two rereleases from The Hold Steady, my true loves. (Plus this year I actually have a record player, so, you know, excuse to Buy All the Vinyl!)

As crazy as last year’s RSD in Charlottesville was (when I got elbowed by someone I worked with and walked around with a black eye for a week over a Dave Matthews Band set), nothing could have prepared me for the craziness in Nashville. Though I walked away unscathed, people camped out overnight at Grimey’s and Third Man Records. I work right next to Third Man, and when I left last night around midnight, there was a little tent city that had popped up. I made the decision early not to try my luck in those lines at all and instead just hope for the best and head out to the smaller stores. Even they had some pretty long lines. In the end after a lot of undue stress and 30-40 minute waits in line from the time we made it to the front doors of the stores, I got almost everything I was looking for (just missing that twenty one pilots Ohio-shaped record). Because of work, I’ll miss out on most of the bigger festivities – most of the record stores here bring out food trucks and book major bands and make it a day-long affair, but I’ll be missing out on that this year. Here’s a look at what is considered a “short” Record Store Day line in Nashville plus my haul!

Store 1: only about 15 people in front of me... still took a solid 31 minutes to reach the releases

Store 1: only about 15 people in front of me… still took a solid 31 minutes to reach the releases

Store 2: a line of roughly 20 people in front of us ballooned to a line at least 50 trailing us by the time the doors opened

Store 2: a line of roughly 20 people in front of us ballooned to a line at least 50 trailing us by the time the doors opened

It seems like we stood on these steps forever knowing that the releases we wanted were just beyond those doors

It seems like we stood on these steps forever knowing that the releases we wanted were just beyond those doors

Heaven is whenever we can get together, lock your bedroom doors, and listen to your records.

Heaven is whenever we can get together, lock your bedroom doors, and listen to your records.

Some of the festivities included a sidewalk sale

Some of the festivities included a sidewalk sale

My full haul!

My full haul!

Are you a vinyl collector? Have you ever gone out for RSD? Let me know in the comments!

Springtime Friday Faves!


It’s been awhile since I’ve done a “favourites” post, even though they are some of my favorites to read (and write!) This time, though, I found it surprisingly difficult – it seems like I was in a rut for a few months not really trying new things or venturing out very much. There are a couple new things I’m loving, so let’s check them out!

shark-tankShark Tank: Shark Tank you guys, I didn’t know! I accidentally got into this show during the ice storm when I was staying with Sixx and his roommates, who all watch it. Since then, I’ve spent my weekends binge watching it since I now work from home, and these episodes are on demand. (And maybe I’ve been watching the old seasons online too.) It’s cool to see all of the products and ideas people come up with, and I’ve maybe bought into a few of the ideas and businesses that have been featured…


The Trews: Pedal Steel introduced me to this band a few months ago, and I’ve been digging them a lot lately. This Canadian band has a great alternative rock feel that reminds me of the greatest generation and even though Spotify just took down my favorite album of theirs, everything else is great so head over to Spotify to check them out!

This Is Where I Leave You: to be honest, the jury is still out on this movie for me. There were parts of it that I absolutely loved, but the ending left me absolutely infuriated. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it, because I still think it’s worth the watch (especially if you love Jason Bateman or ensemble cast family dramadies), but I think I need to check it out again before I make a final call on it.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer: I really like to layer my SPF in the summer, and living in Nashville, summer comes a bit earlier. I’ve been using this under my beloved Urban Decay Naked Foundation and I love the little bit of extra coverage it gives vs. a primer with SPF – plus it’s super hydrating, matches my skin tone really well, and I can even use it on its own on a lazy makeup day.

Tennessee Brew Works Wit Wine: it’s no secret that I love beer. It’s also probably common knowledge that I work at a winery. We recently got in a new brew from TBW – a wit beer aged in cabernet wine barrels. It has almost a wheat-y taste, and is a perfect nightcap. (Of course I drank through the keg we had in, so it will be awhile before I can get this beauty back on my lips.)

Trello: I know I know, I did a whole post about my love for this cute little app, but it bears repetition. Using it for shopping trips is the newest gamechanger: I can make a list for grocery shopping as well as clothing chopping and check things off as I find them.

Brunette Ambition: Lea Michele is one of my favorite celebs, so I can’t believe I held out for almost a year before ordering her book. It came on a Saturday and during my lunch hour I tore through the chapter on Glee (of course.) The recipes look like food I actually could make, and this book reads more like a lifestyle blog. She should really get on starting one – I’m sure she definitely has time to blog while she’s on the set of Scream Queens ;)

What have you been loving this spring season?

tune tuesday: 90’s alternative dream


This week I wanted to share one of my all-star Spotify playlists for Tune Tuesday. It’s no secret that I wish that life was still the 90’s and I refuse to let it go, most of my favorite bands are still 90’s relics (most of them are still out touring… if they aren’t dead, that is.) Grunge and alternative bands from that era were so influential and innovative, and it’s my favorite era/genre combo of all time. Probably given the choice between listening only to The Hold Steady or 90’s alt, I would by far pick the heavy angst and jangle pop of guys like Doug Hopkins and Justin Currie (sorry Craig.)



“Roll to Me” by Del Amitri is definitely that song that everyone knows, but no one knows they know it. It has been my karaoke go-to for years, and every time it starts up in the bar, everyone goes nuts and sings along. (Which is great, because I’m a terrible singer.) You’ve been down so hard, you can hardly see. When the engine’s stalled & it won’t stop raining, it’s the right time to roll to me.


It’s not a habit, it’s cool, I feel alive. This one by K’s Choice is a song that I don’t think I did hear in the 90’s. It was on a “forgotten songs” playlist and it quickly became a song I would blare in my car and sing over, and over, and over again.


Jane’s Addiction’s “Jane Says” epitomizes the great writing of the 90’s for me. The music in it sounds happy and upbeat, but when you listen to the lyrics, they’re really about a girl in a pretty bad situation. I love that contrast between what it sounds like is going on for the listener and what is actually being talked about in the song. I’ve never been in love, I don’t know what it is, I only know if someone wants me.


You know it’s all I think about, I write your name, drive past your house. Your boyfriend’s over, I watch the lights go out. Gin Blossoms are one of my top five favorite bands of all time, and I think New Miserable Experience is one of the most perfect pop masterpieces of the decade. “Found Out About You” is one of the best songs on the record, and I also love the footprint it left in Empire Records (one of the most perfect pop music movies ever.)

Stream the playlist directly through the widget above, or click here to open and subscribe in Spotify! What’s your favorite jam from the 90’s?

March Recap & April Goals

RABBIT! What does that even mean? I didn’t know it was a thing until I went to college and people were shouting it out their dorm room windows. It’s still confusing to me. Anyway, on to the recap!

March Recap

  • Work out four times per week how about “work out precisely 0 times during the entire month?” I achieved that!
  • Blog three times per week nope, but definitely getting back there!
  • Make an extra $1,000 beyond my day job check. Since my “primary job” changed early in the month, I’m not sure of the exact amount yet, but it was over $1,000!
  • Track all spending the day it is spent and input into budget calling this a soft pass, because I did manage to input spending at least once a week
  • Finish & launch new blog layout clearly no, but I did a lot of good prep work for it
  • Read two books
  • Sell car
  • Make 5 year plan and vision board and I did it in Trello!
  • Do yoga five times per week see above re: working out.

This was a rebuilding month, and a month where I went out and Did Things. I rang it in by being stuck in DC and working from the airport, trying to fly home after a very quick trip back to Michigan…


Then I toasted to new beginnings and said goodbye to a friend as she moved off to LA to live the dream.

Of course I went off to Charlottesville to see Fleetwood (and eat at my favorite burger place with my best friend):


We also said #GoodbyeGlee with unlimited pasta and breadstix, Slushies, and lots of tears.

But that brought a happy hello from my favorite Michigan summer sign, Bell’s Oberon (I might have made a trip to Kentucky with a friend to buy some. That makes me feel like a bootlegger. Am I a bootlegger? Is this illegal? It’s too delicious to care.)


Looking forward at April, I’m ready for some spring energy and color to come back to my life!

April Goals

  • Go to karaoke (ya, I know, but I love it)
  • Save & earmark $500 for when mama llama comes to visit next month
  • Set up direct debit on my student loans (again) and car payment
  • Check one thing off my Nashville bucket list
  • Actually launch new blog layout
  • Actually sell car
  • Clean out closet & do a massive purge
  • Work out three times per week

And that’s it. I think it’s important (and I definitely learned in March) that I’m still being too overambitious with a lot of things because my middle name is clearly Overextend. NP and I signed up for a Flying Pig race, though, so I definitely need to get on working out otherwise the hills of Cincinnati are going to get the best of me! Mama Llama is coming in May, so I really want to have enough saved to treat her to some fun and go on a shopping trip. Plus she really wants to head to the Smokies for a weekend, so I need to sock away enough cash to stock up on my favorite wines. Now that I think about it, maybe I should up that $500… :)

What’s on your priority list for April?