Bringing the Tropics Home

Once your trip ends and you trade the lush, tropical paradise of Cozumel or mornings on your cruise ship balcony for a snowy city or a messy home, things can feel a little bit depressing. You’re back to the grind, you have a pile of dishes to do, and you’re craving that feeling of relaxation and calm, and sunshine in the Caribbean.

Though you can’t fully replicate the relaxation, and slowed-down pace of a cruise, you can bring some of that Caribbean goodness home. It’s amazing how much our surroundings can impact our mood, so why not spend a few hours bringing some of that tropical wonder back home. With just a few quick adjustments, you’ll be back on island time right in your very own home.

Surround Yourself with Plants and Lush Greenery 

I firmly believe that you can never have too many plants in your home, and most people definitely don’t have enough! In the winter time, plants and greenery bring so much life to my 700 square foot apartment, and in the summer, they really bring the outside in. I loved seeing all of the beautiful, tropical plants at the ports I visited in the Caribbean, and made it a point to set up my own after coming back home to a dreary, wintery city. More than anything else, they can really help your space feel lush, and more like a vacation spot.

Though certain tropical plants don’t thrive indoors or without proper sunlight, there are plenty of low maintenance plants that give you a tropical vibe without needing a tropical climate. Most palms are a great pick along with Snake Plants and Bromeliads. I have a few set up in each room, and alternate on sizes and heights to give them more depth. Think about spots like the bathroom or kitchen where you wouldn’t think of adding in plants, and tuck a few in there too! It’s nice to pick up an extra arrangement of tropical flowers from the grocery store here and there too for added Caribbean vibes.

Have Your Favorite Memories on Display

Remember when we talked about creatively displaying your vacation photos? Having a beautiful image from your cruise up will really help bring the tropics back home. Remember, you don’t have to be a photographer or an artist to take and display a beautiful, meaningful image. Other great options are larger scale palm or leaf prints that you can get for relatively cheap.

This doesn’t just limit you to your walls though! I love storing desk supplies like paperclips or thumbtacks in the sea shells I found while on my cruise. I try to find a vintage market or two while on trips, and always make it a point to bring back a little trinket I can display in my home. An old, refinished jewelry box from St. John or a some vintage plates snagged on a trip to the Dominican Republic will give your home a global look, and remind you of your time on your trip.

Sneak in a Surprising Detail 

You’ll notice that in hotels or on cruise ships, there’s often a surprising, quirky statement piece in each room. It could be an interesting vase or a chandelier made of sea glass, but it’s that little touch that makes the area feel special and different. So often with busy lives, we make our homes functional above anything else, but adding in something a bit different and bold can really give your home that extra touch. To give your home more of a Caribbean, tropical vibe, aim towards getting pieces that contain natural elements (shells, agate, driftwood, stone, etc.), and remember, just one accessory or fixture can really change up a space. The details don’t have to be large or expensive either. A new woven tray on your coffee table that was woven in the Caribbean or a jute rug in your bedroom can go a long way.

I found this flamingo sculpture (it doubles as a jewelry holder!) a few months after my cruise, and it reminded me of my travels right away. Sure, it’s a bit silly, but it’s a fun touch that people always love and comment on. It was under $30, and though it’s a small detail, it goes such a long way.

Remember Your Other Senses

Though the most obvious thing you think of when trying to bring a touch of the Caribbean to your own home is changing up what you see, remember your other senses, and the factor they can play in how you feel in your home.

For example, I always loved waking up on the ship, opening my balcony door, and immediately getting that scent of salty ocean air. To bring that feeling back home, I added in a few ocean-scented candles to my home. I also got an oil diffuser that really helps transform my apartment into a tropical oasis. There’s something pretty amazing about smelling grapefruit and tropical scents after walking into your place after a long day. Pour yourself a cold drink, and you’ll be feeling like you’re right back on a ship!

Another option is to pick up some of the music you heard while on your trip, and play it around your house while you’re cooking or reading. I find I tie certain music to specific trip memories so it’s always a good way to relax and reflect.

 

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

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A Visit to Roanoke

Last month we traveled with Curio Collection and Global Yodel to the beautiful, historic city of Roanoke, VA. We spent the weekend there hiking the Blue Ridge, taking in the local food scene, and generally just getting in a lot of relaxing. You can read my full Roanoke guide here, but I thought I’d round up a few of my favorite snaps from the trip as well!

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Los Angeles Recap

This post is a long time coming. To say I’m a fan of LA is a gross understatement. We loved every minute of our time there, and do really hope to live in California one day in the future. I think the city gets a bad rap sometimes, but we really found everyone to be warm and friendly, and it really is one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S.

We stayed in a few different neighborhoods during our trip (Santa Monica, Hollywood and Beverly Hills), and then ventured out to a few other areas during the day. We had some fantastic food in Echo Park and Koreatown, but I have to say, I just love being by the ocean in Santa Monica and Venice so much. On our last day there, we drove out to Malibu which is something I’ve always wanted to do. The Pacific Coast Highway is every bit as beautiful as I imagined, and we spent the afternoon on the pier having lunch and watching surfers. Perfection!

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EAT:
– Night + Market Song – This was my favorite meal in LA, and we stumbled upon it by accident a couple of hours before our flight home. Easily the best Thai food I’ve had outside of Thailand.
– Animal – We went for brunch, and it was just beyond fantastic. Really creative, fresh dishes. We heard reservations can get tough, but we arrived right when they opened, and had no issues.
– Ostrich Farm – It’s just beautiful and bright in here which I really love. Had a great sparkling rose and shared a snack. I wish we could have gone back for brunch.
– Pine & Crane – Inexpensive, and really delicious. We grabbed some dumplings, and chilled out here for a couple of hours.

DRINK: 
– The Black Cat – We stopped in here for a happy hour, and they made a really wonderful Aperol spritz (my favorite cocktail) so I was sold!
– Cafe Stella – Close to the Black Cat, Cafe Stella churns out some really well-made cocktails. The patio is tiny but really nice if you can snag a spot.
– The Frolic Room – This place is a little bizarre, but in the best way. It’s a no frills, old Hollywood type place that sells cheap beer, and hasn’t really changed in the past few decades.
– Good Times at Davey Wayne’s – This was such a cool spot with a great 70s vibe. It was such a great mix of people which I really loved.

SEE/DO:
– Griffith Observatory – Worth a visit every time. The views are just so perfect, and you can’t help but love LA when you’re up there.
– Malibu – Again, worth it to take the time to drive over, especially if you’re into the beach.
– The Getty – Admittedly, I didn’t get a chance to go this time around but I’m dying to visit next time around, and thought I’d include it.
– Venice Fishing Pier – I’m a sucker for all things ocean related, but this pier was my absolute favorite. The view of Venice from the end is to die for.

Final tip? We’ve always been told what a driving/car-centric city LA is. Save for renting a Zipcar to get to Malibu, we Ubered everywhere, and found it to be way cheaper and easier than renting a car. We talked to a few locals, and found that more and more people are opting for public transit/Uber.

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Girls Weekend in Norfolk

Earlier this year, Garden and Gun sent my sister and I a few hours south to Norfolk, Virginia to experience some of the food and art that the city is becoming more and more known for. I’d not been to Norfolk, but I jumped on the chance to see the city firsthand.

Though the city is relatively small (compared to D.C.!), I was impressed with the food, the sweet locals, and how much there was going on. In talking to those who live in the city, it seems like people are really exciting about the direction Norfolk is taking. There are lots of fun festivals, breweries, restaurants, and shops to be explored making for a fantastic girls weekend.

You can see my full guide on Garden and Gun Field Report, and I’ve also included a list of my Norfolk favorites are at the end of this post. Enjoy!

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TO EAT

Luna Maya – Owned by two sisters, we loved this place. Amazing Mexican food, good drinks, and it was absolutely packed with Norfolk locals.

Cure Coffeehouse and Brasserie – A great little breakfast spot. In the evenings they serve wine!

Handsome Biscuit – There was quite the line to get into this place, but it was easy to see why. The most delicious, gigantic biscuits out there.

Toast – Another one of my favorites in the city. All toast, all delicious.

Field Guide – We stopped in here for lunch and shared one of their bowls. Easy, inexpensive, and really filling!

TO DRINK

Mermaid Winery – This place has a cute little patio where you can sip your rose under the sun. I highly recommend it!

Coelacanth Brewing – Just down the street from Mermaid, this brewery was fantastic. Their flights are pretty big so it’s easy to just share one.

Press 626 – This was easily my favorite spot in Norfolk. Located in an old house, we sat on the front porch and watched a storm roll in. The wines were wonderful, and the staff was great about giving us recommendations.

TO EXPLORE

The Chrysler Museum – An unexpectedly large and impressive collection of art and artifacts.

The Botanical Gardens – I’m a sucker for gardens in general, but these were really beautiful and absolutely sprawling. I think we probably saw maybe 1/10th of what was there.

The NEON District – This area is home to Norfolk’s emerging art scene. There are galleries, public art, and my personal favorite, Glass Wheel Studio.

GENERAL TIPS

– The women at Visit Norfolk told me about F.R.E.D. (Free Ride Every Day), a free transportation service that takes you around the downtown area. Just call the service, and a driver will pick you up. Firstly, I couldn’t believe it was free, and secondly, why isn’t this everywhere?

– There is a hotel with a rooftop bar opening in downtown Norfolk sometime next year. The renderings looked really beautiful, and I’d love to stay there next time!

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On and Around the Farm

Back in January when we visited India, the first few days of the trip were spent around my family’s farm, about four hours south of Mumbai. My dad grew up on the farm ,and my mom is from a nearby town so it made for a really great, special part of the trip. The day before we left we toured the actual farm land, and got to see some of the crops (banana trees, coconut palms, mango trees) which was pretty crazy/amazing. These snaps are from around the farm, and the neighboring cities of Navsari and Bilimora (where my grandparents used to live!).

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