Dear DiaryDress Up

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I put writing this post off for as long as I possibly could, likely because on some subconscious level 2017 seemed too difficult to sum up… but as I sit poolside in Palm Springs with a group of amazing, strong women, sipping lemonade made with lemons I *just* picked from the tree, I find myself flooded with the need to put it all down.

Better late than never right?

Though it had small, short-lived pockets of truly amazing, the past year overall certainly wasn’t my best. 365 days is a lot to sum up in a blog post, especially with most humans’ attention span being so short when it comes to digesting online content, but having been a writer my whole life, putting everything out there on “paper” feels like the best bookend to start a new chapter with newfound clarity. Last year I pushed myself to share the intimate details of an abusive relationship I was in, and it was amazing to see the support and connection it created – hopefully we can go into 2018 feeling just as connected!

So what made my 2017? I always read these wretchedly vague posts from bloggers this time of year that promise to be personal but shed little light on actual details. So I say bring on the TMI!

My 2017 was:

Over 3 months spent exploring California
6+ attempts to quit smoking (I think I’ve finally done it though!)
3 trips to New York
2 adventures in places I’ve never been before (NOLA + Havana)
Tried casual sex twice (spoiler alert: I AM TERRIBLE AT IT)
1 weekend spent in a tiny home on a vinyard
2 mended friendships
6 times deleting all of my online dating profiles (and just as many re-building them)
1 book pitch to a publisher
11 hair colour changes
1 new nephew (honorary nephew, but still!)
All the career success
5 heartbreaks.

But what about my #2017bestnine? I didn’t post it this year because honestly, it wasn’t correct! My biggest post of the year by a landslide was actually about my most recent breakup (for those of you who operate more visually, there was a rainbow and legs dressed up for a wedding involved). Though I still absolutely stand behind everything I said in that post about my frustration with men, dating, and lack of commitment, I realized that using one boy as the visual for that sentiment simply wasn’t fair – that relationship was wonderful up until the end, maybe one of my best ever, and though that boyfriend was the catalyst for the post, he certainly didn’t define the problem. I want to continue voicing my concerns about modern dating and trying to build a family on your own, but perhaps with a less “attack” direction on just one person (is this how Carrie Bradshaw felt sharing her dating stories?) In case you were wondering where that one went, now you know.

Keep reading if you want more

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If I’ve learned any one lesson this year, it’s that women can do whatever the hell they want. We are challenging society like never before, demanding that what we’ve come to accept as normal (aka #metoo) be acknowledged as what it really is: a total nightmare. With the momentum we’ve found coming together in 2017, I can’t wait to see what change is around the corner in 2018. No rain, no flowers, right?

2017 had a LOT of rain for me, so I’m making 2018 all about the bright, beautiful flowers. Personally I find the more I make my goals happen professionally, the more my personal goals seem to flee in the opposite direction (why is it that balance is always so difficult for women?) This year, everything personal takes precedent – what feeds my soul? What do I love? It means less parties, less material, and much more truth. I did a little survey on my page and all of you seemed to want more personal/dating stuff, so that starts here – get ready to get REALLY personal with me this year, likely in a lot of ways you didn’t see coming. I am preparing to take control of my life on the personal front in a BIG, terrifying way (guesses welcome) and I can’t wait to share the challenges and triumphs with you guys – I promise it will be unlike ANYTHING I’ve ever done before, and I hope you guys will be on board with the ups and downs.

Someone recently said to me “2018 is going to be your best year yet, because life is what you make it”, so let’s live up to that prediction – let’s make 2018 our wildest, best, most love-filled year YET!

Happy NYE everyone. See you on the other side.

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Dress UpI'll Follow You Anywhere

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So I already published the BIGGEST NOLA GUIDE EVER, but believe it or not, there are still a few more posts to come. One of the restaurants in my guide was so special that I figured it was owed an entire post of its own.

Pastel people, meet Brennan’s, one of the pinkest and prettiest places I’ve ever been! I noticed the cotton-candy pink exterior on our first walk through the French Quarter on day one, and without even glancing at the menu I knew we had to go in – it was love at first sight!

A few days later we returned for brunch and explored the space itself, a wonderful collection of whimsical rooms filled with my favourite shades of green, pink and peach. There were hand-painted oyster dishes on the walls, glass lined with drawings of tropical birds, gorgeous tiled tables and a courtyard complete with pink flowers and a turtle fountain! It seemed never ending as I explored room to room, and even the bath room was what dreams are made of.

In my star spangled romper and pink sunnies I couldn’t have felt more at home, and if you love pink, you’ll fit right in too!

Scroll down to shop the post

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I'll Follow You Anywhere

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It’s hard to truly understand New Orleans without having seen, heard, tasted and felt it yourself – it’s a truly sensory experience unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been. When our team member Kelsie went for Valentine’s Day last year (mini guide here) I’ll admit I was intrigued, but NOLA didn’t actually end up on my radar until my friend Tellie asked me to go down with her this past November. I had a rule for 2017 that I’d say yes to any adventure that came my way, so I bought the ticket and started making lists of things I wanted to see in the 7 days I was there.

Suffices to say I had no idea I’d end up with a list THIS big! Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever done a city guide this gigantic all at once (hence the delay in getting it published for you guys), but there was just SO MUCH GOOD! I mean for starters, the entire city is almost completely painted in pastel shades – it’s a #pastelhunting dream if I ever saw one! I’m surprised I didn’t lose my voice from all of the excited squealing I did walking around New Orleans. The first day we explored the Bywater neighbourhood, our favourite part of the city, I couldn’t go two steps without snapping another photo of the sweet colourful houses.

Even as someone who loves to write, I have a hard time summing up New Orleans on paper. The city is so ALIVE, with so much FLAVOUR in every sense of the word. Live jazz pours into the streets from every bar, and incredible musicians play loudly on the sidewalks outside too, creating a symphony of sound. The food is rich and hearty, and the cocktails are unparalleled. Best of all, the people are so darn friendly! Every Uber we took or beer we ordered at a bar came with an offer of advice, local spots to see and a friendly smile (if not a hug). Though it was never top of my list, I can’t wait to get back to this beautiful colourful city!

A few travel tips:

-If you’re vegetarian, plan ahead. This is NOT a lot of veg food and even less vegan so you’ll have to strategize your eating plans. I tried to include restaurants with options for everyone on my list but always check the menu first!

-Always pack a bathing suit. The weather can be super unpredictable, but when it’s hot you’ll want to take advantage of your hotel pool, or go visit The Country Club.

-I know it seems obvious, but be careful if you go out drinking! NOLA is home of the yummy fruity drinks that are secretly super strong. Beware of the “Hand Grenades” and “Hurricanes” specifically if you don’t want to miss a day of travel because you’re sick in bed (erm, not speaking from experience?)

-Though New Orleans is awesome for anyone, I especially recommend it for couples and lovers. Everywhere you go feels like the best date ever (like when I got roped into Swing Dancing classes at a dive bar) and the romance opportunities are endless. Move over Paris!

-If you’re international take out a bit of cash, as there are still a few places that don’t take credit cards (like the famous Café du Monde!)

Scroll down for the full guide!

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Food //

Bar Tonique
Bratz ya’ll
Pizza Delicious
Brennan’s
Bacchanal Wine Bar
NOLA Brewery
Mcclure’s BBQ
The Grill French Quarter

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Josephine Estelle
Cafe Beignet
Imperial Woodpecker Sno Balls
District Donuts
Sucre
Commander’s Palace
Carousel Bar
Drip Coffee
The Mellow Mushroom
Oak
Elizabeth’s
The Country Club

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French Truck Coffee
Sylvain
Congregation Coffee
Old Point Bar
Stein’s Deli
Poke Loa
Napoleon House
Magasin Cafe
Lilette

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Shops //

DNO
The Elizabeth Chronicles
West London BQT
Lionheart Prints
Freda
Folio and Flores
Peaches Records
Hemline
Lucy Rose
Tattoo a Go Go
Porter Lyons
Angelique Clothing

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Hotels //

International House Hotel
Hotel Mazarin

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Places //

Botanical Gardens
Lafayette Cemetery
Street Car
Longue Vue
City Park

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NOLA shopping guide:

Pink Carry-On Luggage
White Cowboy Boots
Cafe Dumonde Beignet Mix 28 oz
Cafe Du Monde Coffee and Chickory, 15 Ounce
June Christy – Gone For The Day/Fair And Warm
Crystal Louisiana’s Pure Hot Sauce

I'll Follow You Anywhere

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An eccentric melting pot of French, Spanish, African and Caribbean cultures, New Orleans is unlike any place in the world. It modestly boasts a one-of-a-kind blend of architecture, food and language, and definitely has a way of making an impression.

The French Quarter mostly caters to tourists, but this doesn’t mean that you should avoid it. Bourbon Street is literally always a party, and great for people watching and some casual car-free debauchery. At night you can take in a ghost tour, and with the city’s dark past, it’s a must whether you believe in spooky behaviour or not. When it comes to hearing authentic jazz (the genre was born here) it’s actually unavoidable. Talented street performers of all ages are known to casually bust out a full brass ensemble, and you’ll have no choice but to stop in your tracks and take it all in. Other notable areas outside the Quarter (and you really should explore outside the Quarter) are Frenchmen Street, Bywater and the Garden District, all accessible by foot or adorable wooden streetcars.

A city famous for it’s libations, there are a TONNE of cocktail options in The Big Easy. Also, don’t forget that New Orleans is a magical place where you can openly carry drinks wherever you go. You can even pop into a bar and ask for a beverage in a “go cup” and be on your way. As for the food, expect simple southern dishes and lots of seafood. Famous for gumbo, jambalaya and beignets (delicious little powdered doughnuts), the diverse historical roots of the city are heavily reflected in the cuisine.

The people of New Orleans celebrate funerals with a brass band parade, and I think that’s the perfect representation of the spirit of the Crescent City. No matter what you choose to do here, whether you want to stay in the Quarter and party, or venture out to Tremé and see the road less travelled, you will be absolutely surrounded by the one thing that New Orleans serves up like no other – Southern hospitality.

Scroll down to see the full list!

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Sips //

Cane & Table
Latitude 29
Bacchanal Wine (Pick a bottle of wine and some fresh cheese, and head out to the backyard party)
The Spotted Cat
Tiki Tolteca
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (The oldest operating bar in the US)
Apple Barrel
Compère Lapin
Three Muses

Snacks //

Atchafalaya (Truly incredible garden-fresh Bloody Marys)
Elizabeth’s
Killer Poboys
Stanley
El Libre
The Old Coffee Pot
Café Du Monde

Stay //

International House Hotel
The Old No. 77

For the next visit //

Green Goddess
Pizza Delicious
Kermit’s Tremé Mother in Law Lounge
The Country Club
Mimi’s In the Marigny
Algiers
Tremé