5 Things: Austin



In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the world to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Aimee Pruett of The Sleeper Car shows us the sights in Austin, Texas.

5 Things: Austin

Aimee Pruett of The Sleeper Car

I’ve lived in several cities, but Austin is the place that has always felt like home to me, which is why I’ve lived here for eight years. The laid-back culture, friendly people, and outdoor patios and pools just can’t be beat. In the summer, there are lots of places to cool down; and in the winter there are lots of places to warm up. Even as the city keeps growing, Austin strives to maintain its uniqueness, urging people to shop local and “Keep Austin Weird.” I love strolling around the city with my husband and dog, and seeing what fun things we can find to do!


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Hillside Farmacy, 1209 E 11th Street, (512) 628-0168
Fabi & Rosi, 509 Hearn Street, (512) 236-0642
Contigo, 2027 Anchor Lane, (512) 614-2260
East Side King, Various Locations, (512) 407-8166
Peached Tortilla, Various Locations, (512) 330-4439
Sno-Beach, 801 Barton Springs Road, 3402 Guadalupe Street
Gelateria Gemelli, 1009 East 6th Street, (512) 535-2170

There are a lot of fantastic dining options in Austin. For brunch or happy hour, I love heading to Hillside Farmacy over in East Austin. The interior is so instagram-worthy and their punch is delicious! Fabi & Rosi is a hidden gem of a restaurant just west of downtown serving European dishes with a modern twist. And Contigo is the perfect restaurant to dine at when you want to spend some time outdoors on a patio while eating delicious, fresh food. They even have their own garden to grow a lot of their own veggies!

If you’re looking for more budget-friendly options, I suggest heading to one of Austin’s many food trailers. I personally love East Side King (launched by Paul Qui of Top Chef fame!) and Peached Tortilla. Both of those also have physical restaurants now, but I prefer the trailer experience!

For dessert, in the summer it’s hard to go wrong with a snow cone from Sno-Beach. For gelato that tastes like you’re strolling the streets of Italy, I always head to Gelateria Gemelli for a couple of scoops and a cocktail!


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Oahu-bound (& Friday links)



Hooray! We’re leaving for a week in Hawaii tomorrow! This will be my first time to the island of Oahu, so any and all tips are welcome. We’re going to spend the better part of the week at a resort on the Western side of the island with family, and then rent a car to explore a bit and drive up to the North Shore, where we’re renting an apartment for our last three nights.

This beautiful photo was taken by Kira Stackhouse from a hike called the Kaiwa Ridge or “Pillbox” Trail trail on the eastern side of the island and makes me so excited to get there!

I have some fun posts lined up for next week but, in the meantime, some things of note from around the web…


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5 Things: Sydney


In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the world to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Naomi Chrisoulakis of Crème shows us the sights in Sydney, Australia.

5 Things: SYDNEY
Naomi Chrisoulakis of Crème

I’m just going to come right out with it: Sydney is the most beautiful city in the world. Sure, I’m biased—I was born and bred in Australia’s most populous area—but its breathtaking natural beauty, multicultural character, gorgeous weather and exuberant food scene makes visitors from all over fall in love, too. I’ve recently returned after almost three years in Los Angeles, and it’s been a joy to revisit old haunts and discover new favorites over the last few months. Because it’s a city of villages, I always encourage friends who come to town to get out of the ‘city’ bubble and make their way in and around the beautiful harbor and coastline, which is really the star of the Sydney show. These suggestions will have you doing exactly that.



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Summer Days & Swimming Holes



NPR’s All Things Considered just introduced a new series where they will be taking listeners to some of the best swimming holes in the country during the month of August. The first stop? That quarry in Dorset, Vermont, where Aron and I stopped on a memorable road trip, a few years back. The oldest quarry in the U.S.—from where marble was used for sites like the New York Public Library—made for an awesome summer swimming hole.

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We’ve been making a point to explore more of our local rivers this summer: Yesterday we spent the morning cooling off in Upper Lake Clementine—a reservoir on the North Fork of the American River. And a few weekends prior, we found our way to a spot under Foresthill Bridge at the confluence of the middle and north forks of the American River that was a municipal swimming pool around the turn of the last century.

Do you have any great swimming holes near where you live? Or a favorite memory spent at one on vacation? Share it in the comments. I’d love to hear about it!

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P.S. One of the most beautiful spots near here: Swimming in the Yuba River. Whitewater rafting on the American River. And more weekend pics on Instagram.

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Travel: Would you bring a photographer?


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Would you want to take a trip with a professional photographer if you could?

A year or so ago, I read about a travel company that curates trips and sends along a photographer to document it for you. El Camino Travel‘s idea is that you will have an “epic journey”—with a small group of fun people to someplace unique where you’ll meet inspiring local entrepreneurs—and you can put away your phone and your camera and rest assured that it will all be captured beautifully. “You focus on your journey. Let us document it.”

All Rights Reserved

All Rights Reserved

I’ve been seeing some of the images recently on Instagram, from a trip they took to Nicaragua, and they’re indeed magazine-worthy!

But what do you think?


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How to order food in other languages (& Friday Links)


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I think I’ve landed on the essential trick for ordering really delicious, interesting food (that you’ll actually like) when you’re traveling someplace you don’t speak the language.

While we were in Mexico, Aron did the majority of the talking. His Spanish is getting really good! But menus are tough for non-native speakers. They can be so specific—the cut of the meat, the preparation of the salad. So if you’re a fairly adventurous eater, you shouldn’t learn how to say what you like; you should learn to say what you don’t like. Then you can ask the server for recommendations. We would say: “qué me recomienda?” And then you could maybe add the translation for “no spicy” or “no innards” or “no fish”… whatever the case may be for you!

It’s so much more fun than just picking out the one thing you recognize on the menu. (Quesadilla, anyone?)

By the way, thank you for the great responses to the Mexico City travelogue I shared earlier this week. I really enjoy looking back at them and I’m glad that you all seem to enjoy them even if they’re on the long side! It really was such a cool place.


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High Summer


wpid33811-Vermont-Hither-Thither-01.jpgWe’ve reached that point in the summer when free weekends seem scarce and friends are packing up for vacations—and it all seems to be going by too fast. We’ve been trying to soak it up as best we can, with bike rides and trips to the American River. (Last weekend, we found this gorgeous swimming hole on the river that used to be used as a municipal pool!)

What do you have planned for August?

Here are a few posts from the archive that might come in handy for these last weeks of summer…

Tips for flying with a baby or toddler—for those with summer vacations still to-come.
A refreshing (no-cook) summer recipe.
Five Ideas for Summer Hats.
This book came highly recommended for reading on a beach.
And a favorite summer trip from the past—filled with blueberries, cheddar cheese, canoe trips, and quarries.

P.S. Sharing more of what we’re up to lately on Instagram. Follow along.

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San Francisco: Outer Sunset Guide



You’ve been to the Ferry Building, ridden a Cable Car, and walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, and you’re looking to spend a day getting to know San Francisco a little better: Head to Outer Sunset.

The Westernmost parts of San Francisco are often foggy and windswept, but on the day we visited last weekend, the sun was out! Either way, the Outer Sunset and its bordering beaches and parks are some of the most beautiful spots to spend a low-key day in the city.


Aron used to live in the Outer Sunset, and I confess I wasn’t always a fan when I’d come to stay with him and his roommates: that cold fog could really get you down if you let it. But now, as a visitor, I’m much more keen on appreciating that fresh ocean air.

It’s a quick drive from the Golden Gate if you’re on that side of town, and it’s a great place for families. Residents are friendly and welcoming—the laid-back surfer vibe is strong here; parking is relatively easy to come by; and kids will love riding the N Judah train—which runs the length of neighborhood and connects with other lines—straight out to the beach.

We were taking the Quinny Yezz stroller on a test spin and we loved using it here—it’s super-light, folds up easily, and is highly maneuverable—so it made getting around simple.

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Mexico City: Renting an apartment in la Condesa



When we decided to go to Mexico City this summer, we asked around for neighborhood recommendations. The majority suggested we seek something out in the particularly fashionable neighborhoods of Roma, Polanco, or Condesa. We considered hotels—there’s something so comforting about the convenience of a bell desk where you can ask questions and arrange taxis—but ultimately decided we’d rather have the space of an apartment. There were actually lots of appealing options on AirBnB, but we chose a large, light-filled apartment in La Condesa—a residential, somewhat hip neighborhood just 4 or 5 km south of the Zócalo—for our five nights, and we were thrilled when we arrived.


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Mexico City: Mercado La Merced (Market Tour)



Our day touring Mercado La Merced—one of the largest traditional markets in all of Latin America—requires a post of its own, apart from the travelogue.

Aron had discovered a culinary food tour group called “Eat Mexico” that would take our family on a private tour of the market (private because we had no idea how our kids would do and wanted some flexibility) and had made a reservation to meet someone at the Bellas Artes before a 4-hour walking tour.

We assumed we’d have to cut it shorter than that—one-year-old naps and preschooler-fatigue and whatnot—but it turned out to be a 6-hour tour! And still we just scratched the surface of all there was to see (and taste). I’m so glad we went with a guide because it’s intimidatingly large.


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Thinking About: A family gap year?



Many of you are likely familiar with blogger Courtney Adamo already—from her work on the expat-based parenting blog, Babyccino, or from her Instagram account that features “the most stylish” family in Britain, or from one of her many appearances around the web. I’ve found her travels with kids to be very inspirational—most notably it was she who led us to our apartment rental in Positano last summer.

So it was with great interest that I read the article Courtney wrote recently for The Telegraph‘s Lifestyle section: “We’re all going on a family gap year.” There, she describes her plan for her family of six (kids aged two to nine) to put jobs and traditional schooling on hold (in favor of check-ins and homeschooling) for a year of travel, and how it connects to a particular memory from her childhood:


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Wanderlust: Vietnam



Years ago, I wrote an imaginary, maybe-one-day itinerary for Vietnam as a guest post on Jennifer Cameron’s site, Luster. I’ve still yet to go to Vietnam, but it remains one of my favorite posts—perhaps because it still rings so true and perhaps because it took a lot of research. (And my packing list has changed remarkably little!) I asked Jennifer if I could update it, and republish it here. Maybe one day… Vietnam. Here’s what I wrote: 

I think it was a feature in Gourmet Magazine that first brought on my case of Vietnam wanderlust. The glossy spread featured steaming street food, colorful lanterns, enchanting bays, chaotic moped traffic, and talked of an exotic and fragrant place where a French colonial past had left a unique culinary mark. Having traveled to Southeast Asia for our honeymoon in Thailand, I can’t wait to go back—and a trip to Vietnam is top on my wish list.


We would start in Hanoi—sampling the café culture and wandering through narrow passageways, alternately touring Belle Époque French villas in the French Quarter and Buddhist complexes built on limestone cliffs (at the nearby Perfume Pagoda)—before detouring to see the greens of the rice paddies around Sapa, the ancient Cham tower-temples of My Son Sanctuary, and the limestone towers of Halong Bay (where we might board a traditional junk boat or find more quiet and get up-close by kayak).


In Hue, we’d rent bicycles and explore the fortified Imperial city, before heading south. Along the way, we’d take time to relax at one of the resorts along the 400-mile stretch from Hue to Nha Trang, and board boats to go diving in the clear life-filled waters around offshore archipelagos.

Hoi An

In Hoi An, perhaps after putting in an order at a custom tailor in the Old Quarter, we’d do our best to capture the faded colors of this trading port, preserved since the 15thcentury, as well as the vibrant ones at the riverside fish market.


It would be a dream to set up camp for a few days at the Con Dao Islands—at the luxurious Six Senses resort with a view of the turquoise South China sea—before finishing the trip in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), rich with history.

Saigon http://www.zvereff.com/insomniasia.html


Fantasy Packing list (Remember that this was made over four years ago, so the exact styles will likely be unavailable. I updated with similar finds):

1. Day tripper pant (similar pants) / 2. City Walk Fedora (similar Fedora) / 3. Sunglasses / 4. Iris Jacket (similar jacket) / 5. Essie Clambake / 6. Madewell Bike Bag (similar bike pouch) / 7. Salina Sandals (similar sandal)/ 8. Isabelle Dress  (similar dress) / 9. Scenic route shirtdress (similar dress) / 10. My kids (and a caftan from Two) / 11. Scarf (similar scarf) / 12. Theory colsten top (similar top) / 13. Swiss Army Bicycle / 14. Triwa watch (similar Triwa watch)

Have any of you traveled in Vietnam? How’d I do? 

P.S. All of our travelogues.

Images: 01 Banh mi | 02 Can Tho | 03 Dalat falls | 04 Six Senses | 05 Vietnamese coffee | 06 Hoi an | 07 Halong bay by Owen Franken | 08 Hue Market | 09 My Son Sanctuary | 10 Nam hai resort in Hoi An | 11 Phu Quoc | 12 Lemongrass pork skewers | 13 Saigon | 14 Sapa | 15 Sapa Highlands | 16 Hue | 17 Hue | 18 Vietnam stamps here and here | 19 Halong Bay Junk Cruise

Imagined itinerary and photo selection Ashley Muir Bruhn | Layout & Graphic Design by Jennifer Cameron of Luster. Visit her on Pinterest. 

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5 Things: Dublin



In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Emily Westbrooks of From China Village and Delightful Dublin guides us on a tour of Dublin’s best.

5 Things Dublin
Emily Westbrooks of From China Village and Delightful Dublin

After growing up in small town Maine, I met my Irish husband during my senior year in college only ten miles away from my house. We got married and I agreed to spend one year in Dublin before settling down in America for good. Seven years in, Dublin has stolen my heart and we’ve finally broken it to my family that we’ll be probably spending only summers in Maine from here on out!

The perfect way to sum up my adopted city is to say it’s a constant exercise in contradictions. In the same block, you’ll have a pub that’s been around since James Joyce was sipping pints, next to a new cafe serving up the local artisan roasted coffee with the best organic Irish milk. In each neighborhood, there are thousand-year-old tourists sights, standing alongside some of the coolest restaurants or hippest shops. While you feel like you’re in an urban, modern city, you’re constantly reminded of the history of the city, whether it’s the cobblestones you spy beneath the pavement or the chiseled stone covered in street art.


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Mexico City (& Friday Links)



Hudson’s last day of school was yesterday! I take photos (this year and last year) on his last day, and Skyler was so cute trying to get in on the action.

And we’re flying to Mexico City this weekend! There’s a direct flight out of Sacramento. I’ve been collecting some recommendations on Instagram, and my friend Miroslava sent me the most amazing list of places. But I’m always all ears!

We’re crossing our fingers for some clear skies, but it looks like we’ll be getting a bit wet. So any weather-related tips are equally welcome.

[Pictured: photo by Alanna Hale in the Garrett Leight Spectacle No. 5]

Here are some links that may be of interest this weekend…


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Balboa Island



Have you ever been to Balboa Island in Newport Beach? When I was growing up—in Long Beach, CA—we would frequently drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to go to dinner at the Spaghetti Factory and then get in the line for the auto ferry which would take 3 cars at a time across Newport Harbor to Balboa Peninsula.

My dad would tell me how he spent a summer in a rental on the 0.2-square-mile island and I would try to imagine him there while watching college students pedal around on their cruisers barefoot. We’d head straight to one of the two shops making frozen bananas and Balboa bars (vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and rolled in toppings of your choice) and try to eat them without getting the chocolate all over ourselves.


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5 Things: A Travel Guide to Western San Francisco


5Things_Western San Fran

In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Liz Stanley of the wonderful Say Yes shows us the sights in Western SF.

5 Things: Western San Francisco
Liz Stanley of Say Yes

I’m Liz Stanley of Say Yes, and I live with my husband and two kids on the western side of San Francisco, in a neighborhood called the Richmond District. We love it here because it’s safe, quiet, just across the street from Golden Gate Park, and close to some great elementary schools. It’s not considered hip—and it’s certainly foggier than other parts of the city—but we’ve managed to find a few secret gems in and around our ‘hood that I’m excited to share with you today!


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