Category Archives: Life

HELLO RAE MARIE

I have some exciting news. I have been building my own online boutique for the past several months, and here it is. Say hello to Rae Marie Boutique!
Rae Marie Boutique is the every day women’s go-to, inspired by independent women and adventurers alike who love to explore the world in style. I invite you all to shop my colorful collection of clothing, accessories, and home goods, all specially curated from some of the most inspirational and trend-setting brands around the world! [these products shown are just an ‘appetizer’, and some of my personal favorites for summer!]

USE PROMO CODE “WELCOME” AND RECEIVE 10% OFF OF YOUR FIRST ORDER! HAPPY SHOPPING!

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HEADED WEST

I have a feeling this summer is going to be the summer of road trips. I just returned from two back-to-back weekend road trips, and it’s surprising how inexpensive and accessible these kinds of trips can be. The first weekend was spent driving west with my sister from Colorado to California, and the second was heading south with a couple of girlfriends from Colorado to New Mexico. As long as you have good company, a full tank of gas, a backseat filled with snacks, a trendy/affordable Airbnb, and a wish list of places to see, it’ll be a successful roadie adventure. Here are my go-to recommendations if you happen to road trip this summer!

NEVADA
In N’ Out Burger
Old-fashioned burgers, french fries, and milkshakes. You can think of it as “fast food”, but the quality is everything the opposite of typical fast-food. A must if you need a bite on the road, or if you’ve simply never had In N’ Out before! You’ll thank me.
Seven Magic Mountains
Just imagine Candy Land in the middle of the desert. Just off of Highway 15, south of Las Vegas is Ugo Rondinone’s art installation of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders each scaling over 30 feet high. A beautiful burst of color after spending hours in the car. It’ll be worth the pullover.

CALIFORNIA
Balboa Island, Newport, CA
Tucked in the harbor of Newport Beach is the tiny community called Balboa Island. We spent the morning walking around the farmer’s market, exploring the quaint shops and restaurants, and watching the surfers from the pier. There is also a boardwalk and a ferry on the island which is more of a peninsula. It was a nice hidden gem away from the hustle & bustle of California weekenders.
Tabu Shabu, Costa Mesa, CA
O-M-G. Forget sushi and ramen and sashimi. Tabu Shabu is the new way to explore traditional Japanese cuisine. This style of fondue or “hot pot” allows you to cook thinly sliced meat and vegetables in your own pot of boiling broth (usually tonkatsu or miso), dipping into homemade ponzu and goma sauces, and accompanied by rice, ramen, or udon noodles. I have always loved Japanese cuisine, but I became quickly obsessed with shabu shabu! So much so, that I begged my sister and brother-in-law to go twice in the same weekend that I visited them. 2 times in 3 days. And I savored every frickin’ bite!
The Crack Shack, Costa Mesa, CA
If you like Chick Fil A, (or chicken sandwich in general), you’ll go nuts over The Crack Shack! Simply one of the tastiest chicken sandwiches and french fries I’ve had in years. I recommend The Firebird and Schmaltz fries. Great weekend treat for a casual lunch or dinner.
Fashion Island, Newport, CA
Explore Orange County’s premier shopping center at Fashion Island. My sister lives down the street from it and it was an endless promenade of shops and restaurants. Not to mention the largest Anthropologie I’ve ever been in! (I actually managed to get lost inside) It’s a great way to spend the afternoon if you need some retail therapy or quick eats.

NEW MEXICO
The Plaza, Santa Fe, NM
The Plaza is the heart of Santa Fe with its rich history, beautiful churches, authentic restaurants, and endless art galleries/jewelers. The soul of New Mexico is portrayed everywhere with beautiful turquoise jewelry, vibrant art, rich food, stucco/adobe inspired buildings, and cultured people. I couldn’t get enough of the squash-blossom necklaces, long horn skull heads, chili-infused cuisine, and colorful pottery.
Kakawa Chocolate House, Santa Fe, NM
Sadly I didn’t have the chance to visit Kakawa Chocolate House, but I can’t tell you how many blogs/websites mentioned this place when I was researching places to visit in Santa Fe. So it must be good. From what I gather, Kakawa specializes in handmade chocolates, chile chocolates, chocolate drinks, and chocolate elixirs. I heard it’s the perfect afternoon treat. And a sweet reason for me to go back to Santa Fe one day.
Paloma, Santa Fe, NM
Hands down, Paloma was the best dining experience we had during our weekend in New Mexico. This stunning kitchen & bar is intimate, vibrant, and offers an incredible menu. Mexican-inspired with an exotic twist. The staff is extremely welcoming and friendly, the service was flawless, and the food was simply outstanding. A beautiful representation of Santa Fe cuisine with a lovely atmosphere. Highly recommend for a great meal!
Meow Wolf, Santa Fe, NM
I don’t even know how to begin to describe Meow Wolf. In short, Santa Fe is not really known for it’s night-life, so the young and eager go to Meow Wolf for entertainment. A venue filled with unique and mind-blowing art installations that will push your mind beyond reality. Someone best described it as “part haunted house, part fun house, part acid trip”. I felt like I was in a 2-hour episode of Stranger Things. If you are ever in Santa Fe, you MUST go. It’s a beautifully overwhelming and fascinating experience.

Have fun road-tripping this summer! xx

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Paris, France

I’ve been a little unmotivated and down lately, mostly on account of my iPhone and Mac crashing in the same week. Yup. And even after I recovered both devices, I still wasn’t entirely motivated. Maybe it’s writers block or the sad reality that I don’t know how to be fully creative without the assistance of technology. But I read a quote this morning that said, “Ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.” Sometimes all you need is a little push or reminder or piece of encouragement. No more excuses. Which also means I’ll be flooding my blog with some overdue posts, including this one. My favorite place in the world. The place that makes me cry when I have to leave. PARIS!

This particular trip was my second time visiting Paris, this time with my fiancé. We were in the most romantic city in the world and I got to fall in love with him and Paris all over again. And every day was spent in the traditional Parisian way; sleeping in every morning, riding bikes along the River Seine, dining in a neighborhood bistro late at night, eating too much bread, nibbling on crepes underneath the Eiffel Tower, sipping Champagne, and endless strolls around the city. We couldn’t get enough of Paris’ timeless familiarity, effortless beauty, and iconic landmarks. But personally, I most enjoyed overindulging in what Paris is best known for: fashion and food. Parisians are synonomous with style, and Paris’ dining is iconic. I truly think I belong in Paris and may have been Parisian in my past life. I discovered some new gems on this trip that are now plenty of reasons to go back.  Here are my personal recommendations and highlights of Paris!

Astier
We dined at this cozy French bistro on our first night in Paris and made a double-date night out with our friends who were also visiting. They left it to me to pick the restaurant and I had remembered reading about Astier in a food blog. Astier is tucked away in the 11th district and approx. 30-40 minutes outside of central Paris by Metro (subway). When we walked up to the restaurant we discovered that they are also Michelin-rated! Talk about a happy accident. The interior is everything that you would expect and hope for in a French bistro; intimate, cozy, authentic, simple perfection, and the smell of butter, herbs, and meat wafting out of the kitchen. We took our sweet time enjoying delicate cocktails, fresh-made bread, intricate appetizers, and probably the best rib steak I have ever had in my life. Every bite was perfection.
L’As du Fallafel
Hidden in the “Pletzl” Jewish quarter of the Le Marais neighborhood is L’As du Fallafel – the best Mediterranean food I have ever had. My sister told me about L’As du Fallafel during her last trip to Paris, and she is my designated foodie guru. It is a tourist trap, but totally worth the wait if you need a break from French cuisine. The food is plentiful and perfectly affordable, with a great menu and incredibly friendly staff. I almost always finish a meal in one sitting, but their falafel sandwich is like a food challenge! There are two lines – one for to-go, and one to dine-in. The line may look overwhelming, but the staff is good at rotating each line in a timely manner. Trust me, it’s worth the wait!
Champs-Elysees
The Avenue des Champs-Elysees is the most famous avenue in the world for promenading in Paris. A stroll down Europe’s grandest boulevard will give you Paris at its most Parisian; intimate cafe’s for coffee sipping, colorful macarons in beautiful bakeries, wide sidewalks made for window shopping, luxury flagship stores, and instantly recognizable architectural icons. Built in the 17th Century but still holding its original chic and allure. A must-see when visiting Paris!
Le Grand Colbert 
On our last night in Paris, I wanted to indulge in one more night of classic French cuisine. My fiancé told me to find a restaurant, and I randomly thought of Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give, one of my favorite movies. She told Jack Nicholson of her favorite bistro in Paris with “the best roast chicken in the universe”. I Googled the restaurant which was conveniently 10 minutes away from our Airbnb, and an hour later, we were sitting in the stunning dining room that was known for hosting the lovely Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Keanu Reaves. And it was everything I had hoped for! We stuffed ourselves with wine, bread, escargot, steak & frites, and the infamous roast chicken. It was truly magical and the perfect way to end our trip in Paris. Classic French cuisine at it’s finest.
Latin Quarter
After dining at Astier on our first night, our friends introduced us to the Latin Quarter and its special Bohemian charm for some late night drinks. This vibrant, artsy and eclectic quarter is one of the oldest areas of Paris. During the middle ages, the Sorbonne University attracted scholars from all over Europe who learned and spoke Latin, which gave the quarter its name. This historic and academic quarter is a medieval maze of narrow streets, stone-paved alleyways, with a few quiet, hidden squares. We spent the night bar-hopping and exploring the enchanting quarter. Easily one of the liveliest nights I’ve had in Paris!

                                                     “Paris is always a good idea.” – Audrey Hepburn

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THE BIG EASY

I finally had a chance to go through my photos from New Orleans which are WAY overdue. The second the trip ended, I caught the flu which then transitioned to laryngitis. I’ve been germ-filled, lethargic, and apparently allergic to blogging for the past two weeks. But, I needed to revisit these photos. It was my “Bachelorette” weekend after all.

I’m doing this whole wedding thang a little backwards. I don’t have a wedding date yet but I felt that a weekend with my best girlies was in order. I’ve always wanted to visit NoLa and I hate Vegas. So I rounded up my Bride Tribe and we headed to The Big Easy! Now, I realize that these photos don’t show much proof of a girly, rowdy, Bachelorette weekend… and I shamefully only have one photo of us as a group. Sadly, photos of my friends were replaced by beautiful colonial buildings and enchanting street performers. But trust me, the weekend was filled with beignets, dancing, jazz, late night snack fest’s, endless Pringles, and a Chambong [A bong made for chugging Champagne. Yup, we did that. Numerous times.]

I loved New Orleans as much as I thought I would. A mysterious city surrounded by art, music, and culture. And I was pleasantly surprised with their love of ghosts, Vampires, tall slushy drinks, and fried chicken. I will definitely have to return one day. This time with more photos of the people who traveled with me.

xx

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beyond the bay

Spontaneous trips are the BEST, even the short ones. At the last minute, I decided to visit my twin sister in San Francisco because I essentially hadn’t seen her in 4 years [because according to my brother-in-law, one week is equivalent to one year in “twin-time”]. I also booked an impromtu trip to Cuba at the end of this month [more on that later…], and found out after that she would be home visiting while I was gone. Hence the unplanned visit to see her.

It’s truly incredible how much you can cram in to one quick weekend – especially when your hosts consider excess as a way of life! My fiance and I are still drained and completely sleep deprived from the trip, but my sister and brother-in-law made sure that not a minute was wasted. We must’ve roamed every neighborhood of San Francisco and eaten the best of every type of Cuisine [and now I have blisters on my feet and a food baby to show for it]. But I must say, the best part of the weekend [besides seeing my doppelgänger] was easily the food scene and beautiful scenery!

Here are the highlights [and my personal recommendations for visitors]:
1. Tony’s Pizza
Attention all pizza eaters – whether you favor New York style, Chicago style, Sicilian, Margherita, lots of cheese, no cheese, [which my brother-in-law loves and what I consider completely disgusting and unfathomable], there’s a good chance that Tony’s will have it. Who is Tony? Tony Gemignani is a 12-time world pizza champion! All of his ingredients are imported from Napoli, Italy and the pizzas are baked in 7 different regionally-specific ovens. They are located in the heart of Little Italy and truly an equal-opportunity pizzeria. Their menu has a variety of styles for all pizza-lovers, so everyone leaves happy! If you ever make it there, you MUST order the Spicy Grandma. Don’t ask, just order it. You’re welcome.
2. Chinatown
Just walk around. Take in the strange smells, the cultural souvenirs, and visit the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. Shop where the Asians shop. Eat what they eat. You can even buy a live chicken for only $15.00! And if you get a chance, grab some food at China Live. Best Xiao Long Bao EVER.
3. La Taqueria
If you’ve ever explored The Mission neighborhood, you will notice a sea of Mexican eateries. It’s hard to determine which one serves the best of the best, but let me make it easy for you. La Taqueria. And how do I know this? Because at night, my twin and brother-in-law become connoisseurs of Mexican food, particularly tacos and burritos. They also won the ‘Nation’s Best Burrito’ Award. NBD. Just order Carne Asada or Carnitas tacos. With guacamole, pico, and sour cream – The Works.
4. Muir Woods National Monument
If you need a quick escape from the city, head to Muir Woods. It’s only a 30-45 minute drive from San Francisco and perfect for a day trip! Muir Woods is an endless redwood forest, perfectly ideal for hiking or just a brisk nature walk. The forest is truly enchanting, with the tallest trees you’ve ever seen! And one of the best parts? NO BUGS! Except for banana-slugs…I didn’t see any, but my twin swears that they exist.
5. Sausalito, CA
We stopped in Sausalito after Muir Woods on our way back into the city. I wish we could have spent more time in this quaint little town. Located on the edge of the water, it has breathtaking views of San Francisco and beautiful sunsets. It would be the ultimate spot for riding bikes and exploring the rows of shops and restaurants [which we would have done, but it was too cold and we had a dinner reservation to get to].
6. Tosca Cafe
Oh my. Mi Amore. Tosca is easily one of the best Italian restaurants I have EVER experienced. Everything I tasted was purely housemade and exploding with flavor! I honestly don’t know how to describe it, so I’ll keep it short; make sure you eat some Foccacia bread, ask for some shaved Parmesan to nibble on, order the Black Bird cocktail, order seconds on the Bucatini, and save some to eat with the dry aged prime strip steak! You won’t regret it!
7. Pagan Idol
This has got to be one of the most hilarious and animated bars I have ever visited! You can’t tell by the name, but Pagan Idol is an island-inspired bar, complete with an erupting volcano and Tiki huts! [my fiance described it as a Spongebob episode] They serve beautifully creative cocktails with some of the most interesting garnishes I have ever seen; roasted marshmallows, Rock Candy, shaved nutmeg, etc. TONS of fun and visually stimulating!
8. Ferry Building Farmer’s Market
Located at the Ferry Building Marketplace, this is a MUST on the weekends. I’ve always loved Farmer’s Markets but San Francisco outdoes every one I have ever been to. There is an overwhelming variety of fresh food, local goods, gifts, souvenirs, etc. Come with an empty stomach though – you’ll want to eat everything in sight! I highly recommend the Porchetta sandwich and Nepalese food tent if you can find it!

I am living-proof that you can get your fill of San Francisco in just 2 1/2 days. Just be willing to give up your beauty sleep. And any diet you were consistently trying to maintain.

xx

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