Thursday, September 29, 2016

Seattle's Best: The Palladian Hotel

When my best friend turned 30, I knew I had to do something MAJOR. When we were roommates in Boise, we would always listen to Hall & Oates. No explanation necessary? Anyway, I moved to San Francisco and she moved to Seattle, and it was all very tragic. Until, of course, I saw that Hall & Oates were dusting off those lavender blazers for a tour. I bought two tickets immediately for their show in Seattle, and got to work on my big surprise.

I booked a room at the Palladian -- an uniquely beautiful hotel near Pike Place Market. I recently wrote about it over at Rue, waxing poetic about designer Nicole Hollis and her mission to bring the culture and history of Seattle to the hotel's design. For me, it's a perfect mashup of all things Seattle -- the lumber and seafaring industries, the recent tech boom, the abundance of nature alongside the cosmopolitan skyline. (Is this a love letter to the Emerald State?) You can read more about the exquisite design -- as well as some of the hotel's interesting amenities -- here.

Today, I wanted to spill the details about the big surprise. First, I nearly missed my flight. One TSA mishap could have derailed the entire mission. I was SO new to LA, I didn't realize what a mess LAX was... especially since I'm on the east side! #BurbankForever. But really, can you imagine? Missing a flight, and then having to tell my best friend, "Oh I was coming to visit you today, 2 concert tickets in hand, but I'm still in LA. The next flight is right about the time they'll be singing Maneater." But, the travel gods were on my side and I made it to Seattle. The Palladian's driver -- friendliest guy on earth -- collected me curbside and took me to the hotel. I audibly gasped when I walked in. The hotel felt like a rad Queen Anne apartment, like Ben Gibbard might be snoozing on a sofa nearby.

I checked into my beautiful room, was pleased as punch that our pillow had Richard from Friends on it, and logged about an hour of work. I then sent a text, telling my friend I was freaking out and needed her help. I received a frantic "what's up??" in return, and then told her I was lost and couldn't figure out directions. I sent her my location with a pin drop (thanks, technology!!) and proceeded to nervously giggle alone on my hotel bed, right next to Richard from Friends.

After letting her sort through the confusion, I invited her to happy hour at the Palladian's chic Pennyroyal bar (top picture), and relished in successfully pulling off the surprise of my life. Sure, her husband gets about 75% of the credit: telling her not to make plans that night, ensuring she had an overnight bag packed, and not spilling the beans when she kept saying "where are you taking me?!" (Funniest part? She thought perhaps he was taking her somewhere to hike or on some sort of fitness retreat, so she had a pair of athletic shoes tied to her bag.)

It was all magic. We should all plan surprises for our loved ones more often, because it made me feel like Oprah. Anyways, the hotel is gorgeous. Details below:

Images by Laure Joliet // Interior Design by Nicole Hollis // See more on #RueDaily.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Travel Diaries: Cabo and the BEST TRAVEL TIP You'll Ever Get

For those who don't know, my husband is an artist and works in the animation industry. It's a wonderful but challenging industry -- when a project first begins, he's able to be creative and do tons of artwork at a relaxed pace, but then a year or so passes... and BAM. Crunch time! In June, his schedule was starting to get stressful. He was working long hours and was really exhausted, but sadly... things were only starting to heat up. One of the producers suggested we book a vacation before 1. He moved into the office full-time and 2. His PTO stopped acquiring. "NO PROBLEM," we exclaimed. "We love to vacation!"

Our priorities? We just wanted to sit by a pool for a week, drink in hand, ocean in view. Tulum seemed like the obvious choice given our history, but the weather reports were implying we might fly all that way to sit in a monsoon. So I started researching other locales, and Cabo and Hawaii were neck and neck.

Now, I'm a frugal gal -- which is a blessing and a curse all at once. But I looked at the cost of flights to Hawaii and couldn't believe my little wallet. That + the cost of the resorts? It just had turned into a much more expensive thing than we were trying to do. We wanted to go somewhere nice, but we're saving for a house and $18 drinks are dumb. I found an amazing deal on tickets to Cabo, so I bought them without any clue where we'd be staying. 

A few days later, someone asked us about our upcoming trip. I expressed my frustration with finding a nice place to stay at a reasonable price. "Do you have a Costco membership?" ....You mean to buy toilet paper and Halloween candy in bulk? Yes... His eyes lit up. He proceeded to tell us about the amazing deals he'd scored at -- explaining that the hotels were always really nice, and Costco even arranged a ride to and from the airport. It sounded too good to be true, but with my little membership card in hand, I went to the site to investigate. 

Well guys, we basically got the trip of a lifetime for like... 1/3 of what I'd been researching. AND I HAD BEEN RESEARCHING INSTEAD OF SLEEPING FOR NIGHTS ON END. That's not an exaggeration on the price. It's the best thing in the world. If you knew about this already, WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME SOONER? If you didn't know, then OMG YOU'RE WELCOME. HAPPY TRAVELS.

We ended up staying at the Marquis Los Cabos, a beautiful, all-inclusive resort with tons of space. Every day, we did exactly what we set out to do: lay by the pool, drink in hand, ocean in view. I have to mention, the service at this hotel was wonderful: the staff was really friendly and attentive, they had a great activities program with things like beach volleyball and water aerobics (surprisingly fun), but no one pressured you if you felt like reading quietly. The rooms were comfortable. The food was great. It was the actual best. Oh, and how could I forget... they delivered coffee and pastries to your room every morning via a magical little cubby by your door, so as not to wake you. Hot coffee just magically was there every single morning, the moment I woke up. Again, all of this was for a fraction of the price of the non-inclusive hotels I'd been researching. 

As is typical, I took lots of photos, and then I took nearly 4 months to share them with you:

Oh, and did I mention it was all timed right around our one year wedding anniversary? LE SIGH. To a million more celebrations, some booked through Costco, some not. All my love to the best travel partner around: 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Cat Talk: The Litter Robot's STILL THE BEST

You may know (thanks, Instagram) that Tim and I took a RE-LAX-ING vacation to Mexico earlier this summer. It was so needed -- he's been working crazy hours and it was a chance for us to spend some time together before his schedule really got busy.

It was so wonderful to just sit in the sun with a margarita, and do nothing. The best kind of vacation! But, I deal with a pretty irritating travel anxiety. I love to go new places and explore, but I honestly have a really hard time leaving home. I am a little ball of stress from the moment I start packing and it only escalates from there. Usually, once I'm through TSA, things settle down. (Mimosas tend to help.) But, it's not just the travel/logistics part that makes me feel anxious.

Throughout a trip, I find myself worrying a few times a day. Sometimes, it's about the house -- is everything locked and safe? But usually, it's about the cats. THE CATS! I love them so much and I just honestly freak out about their well-being while we're gone.

We found an amazing house-sitter who made us feel really at ease. (It was our first vacation longer than a weekend since moving to LA.) But even with a someone who loves cats and gives them lots of attention and also is getting paid, I still felt guilty asking someone to really take care of them. Feeding is easy: you open the can of food and make sure they have fresh water. But the GUILT that plagues me when asking someone to deal with the litter box? TOUGH. Like, can you please come over, make sure my cats aren't dead, and pick up their poop? And then every time they poop, just, deal with it for me? 

So, remember how I told you all about the Litter Robot? (You can see the post here.) It's so easy to use and it doesn't get messy and the cats can just do their business and it handles the rest. So we showed the sitter how it works and even mentioned the sleep mode in case he was a light sleeper. We told him about the "full light"which indicates when you need to change the bag. It relieved some of the guilt, but... would it work??

WELL, we went on our trip, and we came home, and it was as if we had never. even. left. The cats looked up from their naps and were like, "oh... right, we vaguely remember you?" And the sitter was like "I will literally come take care of them any time at all," because it was such a breeze. And when I questioned the clean up portion, he was baffled I was even concerned. In his words, "I literally just changed the bag one time. It took like a second." 

OH MY GOSH I have cracked the code on my travel anxiety and I may as well plan a 3 week trip to Iceland. This new, sleek, quiet, clog-less Litter Robot is the answer to my prayers... no ifs, ands, or BUTTS about it.

Well, one butt. Technically two. Get it? It's a cat butt. Because this entire post was about a cat bathroom. I think I've still got this blogging thing DOWN. (If you're wondering why it's not a picture of the Robot itself, it's because I felt like it was really violating Leonard and Roxanne's rights by showing them in the loo.)

Anyways, if you have a cat, get the Litter Robot. It will change your life and you'll be free to go to Mexico and drink margaritas. 

DISCLAIMER: Litter Robot provided us with the Litter Robot III Open Air for review. We were previous owners of the Litter Robot and FULL BELIEVERS, so no joke, this post is 100% my beliefs without a hint of exaggeration. This product is the best.