Throwback to August 2013:

Back in August 2013, the furthest I had ever ventured from Atlanta was to NYC. My husband and I had only been married a little over a year and we were prepping for our first trip to Europe. I was overwhelmed, excited, and stressed. I had no idea how hard I would fall for the continent or in what ways it would affect my future (and blog).

Enjoy this throwback and then share with me how travel has affected your lifestyle? Did one trip stand out more for you than any other?

We had a bit of a crazy weekend. Apparently planning trips abroad can keep you a bit busy.

I managed to move up our appointment to get a passport to this Friday which meant I needed to fill out the applications, find Justin's birth certificate (which he didn't actually have), and get everything else in order (and settled away) for that. (You have to go to the Vital Records office if you lose your birth certificate, and even then they will only give you a copy.)

Then I started the application process for Global Entry. For future reference, you need a passport number to apply. You can register and start the application, but you cannot complete it until you have a passport number. Who knew? (I thought I read on a blog that you didn't have to have your passport. They were wrong.)

Justin got his ipad setup for wifi and using his phone as a hot spot. (Not sure how this will help us when traveling, but it's nice to know anyway.)

Then there was the shopping. While most people don't wear flip flops in NYC, I did. Having done so, I got tons of junk in the bottom of it (think road debris and construction) causing the shoe to fail prematurely. I'm not willing to pay more than a few dollars for flip flops, so off to Kohl's we went after noticing a $7 shipping fee. (No, thank you.) We used the Kiosk when they didn't have my size in stock to get free shipping! Yay!!

We also bought a $4 (normally $40) ipad mini case on Amazon with free 2 day shipping. When we get it, I'll review the company so you can get the awesome deal too (assuming it is awesome).

So that was our weekend: a party, travel preparation, shopping, rain, and all!

To see other posts from that first trip abroad, check out these:

The Important Parts
As You Wish
5 C's for Group Travel
My Ideal Getaway
Recommendations For Planning A First Trip to Europe
Trip Plans

My Favorite Part of the Trip
The Best Moments From Our Travels
What I Missed From Home While I was in Europe
What I Missed From Europe When I Returned Home
Things I was Thankful to Get Back to When I Returned Home
Air France vs. Delta
Germany vs. USA
10 Travel Tips for Visiting Europe
How Not to Do the Louvre

Holiday Inn Paris Notre Dame
Hilton Molino Stucky (Venice, Italy)
Hotel Belvedere (Portovenere, Italy)
Intercity Hotel (Augsburg, Germany)
Sheraton CDG (Paris, France)

If you could go back in time and relive your first travel experience (abroad or otherwise) all over again, would you? Is there anything you would do differently? … the same?

Understanding Exposure Book Review

Buy here.

The view from the top of the deck was astounding…

Justin's mom and I were holding some seats at Bowen's Island Restaurant in Charleston waiting for him and his father to finish purchasing food for us to eat while we watched the sun set. Only, as it turns out, we should have arrived much earlier. The line to get into Bowen's Island Restaurant was out the door and down the winding deck ramp. We had already been waiting in line 30 minutes to even get into the door, let alone find a seat. This was not one of those restaurants where the waitstaff seats you; if you want a view of the sun setting over the river, you have to wait until a table opens up that is facing the river and sunset. And, of course, once a person gets those prime seats, why would they give them up before the sun has set? Clearly, prime seats are meant to be sat in and the view of the sun set meant to be enjoyed until the sun has fully sunken beneath the horizon and the moon and stars have come out to play.

Now, if there is one thing I can't stand, it is watching the sun set and being stuck to a single spot completely unable to move. ESPECIALLY when there is an umbrella obstructing my view. So sitting with my mother-in-law watching the sun set helping to hold seats until my husband and his father were done purchasing food was very nearly torture.

After ten minutes of sitting, watching the colorful sky disappear, I had had enough! With one swift movement I jumped off my stool, grabbed my camera and headed to the edge of the dock where there was no obstructed view commenting only to my mother-in-law that I would be "right back". Remembering what I had read only days before in Bryan Peterson's book Understanding Exposure, I played with my white balance for the first time. I set the white balance to shade, to flash, to daylight; which white balance would give me the gorgeous color I was seeing in the sky? What would bring out the contrast and capture my image the way I envisioned?

As it turns out, the image I captured with a different white balance than expected turned out to be one of my favorite sunset pictures ever! And Bryan Peterson's book Understanding Exposure has become a favorite.

Peterson provides a lot of insight on how best to use one's camera. He offers tips for both the burgeoning photographer as well as the professional. Whether you shoot for fun or for pay, you are sure to find some tips in his book that you had not considered before.

Follow along with Peterson's book and you will learn about exposure, aperture, shutter speed, light, special techniques, and flash. If you attempt the experiments he provides for bettering your images, you will gain insight into "the sky brothers", how to use your palm as a gray card, what the "who cares" aperture is and when to use it, and even how to capture the look of rain.

Even though I approached Peterson's book thinking I wouldn't learn anything new, I was glad to find I was sorely mistaken. I can't wait to try one of his many experiments and get even better with my camera!

With Christmas coming, I highly recommend getting your hands on Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure. Not only will you be able to brush up on skills you already have, but perhaps you will learn something new!

* I received this book for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Thanks for all the Fish!

Movies the husband takes me to with opening sequences that simply cannot be unseen.

While most of the world spends their day working, the US will spend its day eating.

And being thankful.

Here are a few things I am grateful for this year:

1. Good friends
2. Loving family.
3. Beautiful art.
4. Strong writing.
5. Delicious food. (You didn't think I'd skip this one, did you?)
6. Pretty clothing.
7. A computer that hasn't committed suicide.
8. Being married to a pretty terrific guy.
9. Sleep.
10. Blog readers. :)

With that being said, I'm going to spend time with my family and eat delicious food! So, so long and thanks for all of the fish! :)

What are you thankful for this year? Have you seen the movie (or read the book) Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy?

Linking up with Tamara Gerber
of Confessions of a Part Time Working Mom 

for #TopTenThursday

Moulin Rouge

People talking, laughing, waiters juggling champagne bottles and menus: this is what the Moulin Rouge dining room looks like to a foreigner before the show begins.

But let's back up a bit.

It's 2001 and the internet is still a free-for-all. There are no worries about what "stalker" might be on the end of the network trying to take advantage of you. Fake news networks don't really exist. And social media hasn't happened yet. In fact, Napster (a music sourcing network) has only recently been sued by Metallica, and music, so long as you don't share what you download, is still free to those who know what they are doing.

And my computer is filled to the brim!

So, my friend from up the street comes over and suggests I download a new song by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya, Pink called "Lady Marmalade". I've never heard of the song. I don't listen to the radio much and I don't follow movies. It's just not who I am. And frankly, I'm surprised she is as aware of pop culture as she is; not having a computer herself, how does she know all about pop culture?

That was my first introduction to Moulin Rouge: the movie, the pop music from the movie, and the awareness of the Parisian club altogether.

Of course, it was only time before I took art history and learned of the famed artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

discussion of a Toulouse-Lautrec painting

But still, this was the extent of my knowledge when I first saw the famed red windmill on my first jaunt to Paris in 2014.

So how did I find myself milling amongst the patrons, having my bags checked at the front door, and drinking champagne at a table with my husband whilst half clad women danced the can-can and performed acrobatics in front of us on a rainy January night in 2016?

Well, first I must admit that Montmartre, France is one of my favorite areas of the city. If you climb to the top of the hill, you get a magnificent view of the city from just outside the beautiful Sacré-Cœur (which I hear offers an even more beautiful view if you manage to climb to the top). What seems like tens of millions of shops cater to the tourists selling mini eiffel towers, glittery postcards, and a large assortment of junk that seems almost like it originated from a cheap mass-manufacturer in China (not that I've ever been to China to compare! 😮 ) And then, there is La Poutre, the restaurant where I first fell in love with raclette.

Honestly, the whole of Montmartre provides an incontinuity that I love. The people of Montmartre are laughing at tourists with their full restaurants and junk souvenirs, and yet the tourists flock in mass to Montmartre anyway. Because why not?

And beyond that, part of me wanted to experience the history and beauty of Montmartre that Toulouse-Lautrec found within the encaged walls of the Moulin Rouge. While there may be a million other (less-touristy) cabarets to be found in Montmartre, I felt there was only one that would satisfy and fulfill my desire to see history in the making, the world as it was to a beloved artist and history before cabaret and the infamous can-can was a thing.

The Moulin Rouge opened it's doors in 1889 in the Jardin de Paris, at the foot of the Montmartre hill. The idea behind Moulin Rouge as created by its owner Joseph Oller and his manager Charles Zidler, was to enable the wealthy to "slum it" in what they considered a fashionable district. The club was a place for people from all walks of life to mingle and be entertained. The first shows were circus-oriented and the performance only later began pushing boundaries and challenging status quo.

Preview of the show (NSFW)

Féerie, the show being performed the night Justin and I attended the Moulin Rouge, is a mixture of many different acts. As listed on their website, you have The Moulin Rouge Yesterday and Today, The Pirates, Au Cirque (circus theme), The Moulin from 1900 to… (including the cancan), and, of course, various "international acts" such as swimming with a snake, a roller skating act called "The Roller Pilar", and stunning acrobatics to take your breath away.

Now, let's talk about what you really came to know: Is this show safe for kids?

Let me put it to you straight: the majority of this show features topless women. I'd give it to you in percentages, but I just don't remember the percentage. Either way, it was high. In fact, high enough, that photography is not allowed in the theatre. There are signs on every table proclaiming this, and I would not be surprised to hear of someone getting kicked out of the auditorium for taking pictures. After all, this is meant to be a private show for a paying audience. And given the amount of hard work that goes into putting this show on, as a paying audience member, I recommend respecting these agile men and women for all that they do and are capable of. It is truly astounding. :)

The Moulin Rouge offers two nightly shows; one at 9PM and one at 11pm. If you come at 7pm, you can have dinner in the theatre, but, for this added benefit, you pay quite a bit extra. You also will get seated before anyone else that is attending the 9PM show, so for that it may be worth it to you to arrive early and have dinner. Your seating definitely depends on how soon you are in line, so arrive early for your ticket, no matter what show you attend.

When Justin and I arrived at the Moulin Rouge for our 9pm show, the dinner crowd was just finishing up and preparing for the show to begin. Wait staff was scurrying about attempting to meet everyone's needs and get the drinks served. A small glass of champagne was quite an extravagant expense for … what some might consider an extravagant night. Prices for the Moulin Rouge show can be had for approximately 100 Euros per person. If you add on a bottle of champagne, dinner, or even drinks during the show, I think you can see how expensive a night at the Moulin Rouge can be.

Our seating for the show was off to the left side of the stage on the very edge with only two rows from the front. We were able to see well-enough, but I could see how a center-view could be beneficial. (Sometimes it's hard to tell how extravagant the acrobatics are when you are viewing from off-center.)

image from

Overall, Justin and I had a great time at the Moulin Rouge. It's probably not something we will ever do again, but we are glad that we went once. It also probably didn't help matters that our French skills are sorely lacking, so we didn't always understand what was going on or being said. There isn't much speaking anyway, so for that you can count yourself lucky, if you don't speak French. The ticket takers, bag checkers, and wait staff do speak English though making it easier for a tourist to navigate this fantasmic "tourist trap", so don't worry about that.

If you do go, you will be amazed and amused for the full hour and a half performance. The beautiful costumes and dances will distract from the performer's nudity, and you will be transported to a world where anything is possible.

HOWEVER, if nudity makes you squeamish, you have young children that won't understand, and/or you are low on money, don't feel like you will be missing out if you don't see a show at the Moulin Rouge. Instead go to Cirque du Soleil in the US (never been but it seems similar?), or for a more traditional style cabaret (in Paris), check out Au Lapin Agile (25-30 Euros approx.), where French comedians and musicians jump on "stage" to share their unique work (great for those who speak French, not so much for those of us who don't).

Having read more about what Moulin Rouge is and is not, what are your thoughts? Would you go just to say you had been? Would you pass it up for something a little more decorous?

Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort

Destination: Myrtle Beach, SC
Date: August 2016
Hotel: Hilton
Brand: Hilton
Elite Status: diamond
# of travelers: 4
nights: 2

Making the Decision

In the midst of planning a return trip to France this past summer, my in-laws informed me that my husband's cousins would be making a trip down from their home up north to the delightful beach town of Myrtle Beach, SC. At about this same time, Hilton was running a promotion for their hotels; with my newly acquired Hilton status, I decided there was no better place for us to stay. Plus, the hotel was on the beach, and who doesn't like waking up to the sound of ocean waves?

There were a few kinks to my plan, however. Like the fact that my husband's cousins weren't actually staying in the Myrtle Beach area, proper. However by the time I came to this realization, our hotel had already been booked for nearly two months, and I decided not to bother looking for somewhere closer.

Getting There, Checking-In

I had to work the Friday before we were set to be in South Carolina, so we ended up driving late on Friday and not arriving to the hotel until midnight. Staff checked us in and informed us we had been upgraded to a room on a higher floor with a partial view of the ocean. They gave us two free waters, a parking pass, and coupons for us and Justin's parents to have free breakfast the next morning.

empty atrium/lobby


It took a few minutes for the elevator to come, so I took in the hotel lobby as we waited. The room was large and expansive with a gift shop and bakery/cafe just inside the huge atrium. There was plenty of seating for those waiting on friends or family (not that many people were taking advantage of it so late at night). The hotel actually seemed rather quiet and almost eerie given the lack of people out roaming the hotel so late at night. (Ever seen those empty dilapidated mall images? It kind of felt like that looks.) Clearly this was a lobby meant for the masses. And, as expected, in the morning, it didn't quite seem as eerie as it had just the night before.

Room, View

Our hotel room, aside from being dark, was a refreshing sight so late at night, when we arrived. Of course, I did my blogging duty of capturing images of the room before crawling into bed, but I didn't nearly feel as enthralled with my upgraded room with a partial ocean view until the next morning. As crazy as it sounds, it's difficult to see much ocean at midnight! We had to rely on the sound to reassure that the ocean was, in fact, there at all. (And even that was confused by the hotel AC unit!) One thing I did notice though was our balcony. For a moment, until I remembered I was tired, I almost wanted to sit out on the balcony all night and just listen to the waves. (Then I came to grips with reality!)

Even though the hotel room felt lavish and large, I was happy to note that the bathroom was also a decent size. The actual WC was rather small and would only allow for one person to get ready at a time, but just outside the WC was a closet, table, and mirror, perfect for a second person to get ready! (You just have to wait to brush your teeth!)

The hotel room came with a Keurig coffee machine, microwave, safe, fridge, and hair dryer. There were also soaps and shampoos for your convenience.

Buffet Breakfast

We awoke early Saturday morning to go down to the second floor and redeem our breakfast buffet coupons. It ended up being good that we awoke so early, because the restaurant was filled quickly with a line forming just as we were finishing. While I can't comment on the price, I can say that the buffet was filled to the brim with wonderful foods to choose from. We enjoyed choices of eggs, sausage, grits, bacon, yogurt, granola, cereal options, juices (orange and apple), coffee, and milk. Staff brought drink refills, but were mostly distracted cleaning tables, refilling the buffet, and seating guests. If you get the right waitress, however, they will offer to bring to-go cups which is a nice touch. :) We got one such waitress our first morning at the hotel.

Pool & Other Amenities

If you don't receive coupons for the free breakfast, you might consider visiting the small bakery/cafe in the hotel lobby. They serve your choice of Starbucks coffee, juices, a variety of pastries, and ice cream.There is also a second restaurant outside near the pool as well as a hotel bar.

Justin, his parents and I did visit the hotel pool bar before heading home on Sunday. The three of them enjoyed a plate of fried oysters while I ordered a frozen daiquiri. It was a nice place to relax and enjoy the sound of the ocean and watch the various pool goers. Even though I did not help with the food, I have it under good authority, that it was a tasty and enjoyable snack. :)

The Hilton Myrtle Beach offers two pools for guests, one which features soft sand and rocks at the bottom with a lovely waterfall and garden area. The second pool is more traditional and better for doing laps and kids splashing around.

And, of course, don't forget the ocean which is only a hop, jump, and skip away.

If you are always like me, forgetting your swim suit, or, by chance, in need of a sundress or a pool float, be sure to check out the two hotel gift shops that will provide you with the rare item you may have forgotten or not realized that you needed. They don't have everything, but, if you are need of something particular, they do offer quite a bit.This is a resort after all! :)

Check Out

When we went to check out of the hotel, I found myself shocked at the price the hotel was charging us. Was there a mistake? I pulled up my confirmation email to show to the front desk who informed that because we had received an upgrade, we were being charged for it. Luckily, without my complaining, she offered to take the extra charge off our hotel bill on the spot. Yes, they do have an upcharge if you request an upgrade through their website (as in when you check out), but the chain can and does also offer free upgrades. Be sure not to confuse the two, as I did. (I guess that's what happens when you book two months before your trip and promptly forget because you are busy planning a second trip that happens before the first trip!) Either way, Justin and I were appreciative of the hotel staff working with us and removing our charge. It wasn't something they had to do, but since they were so kind about our misunderstanding, I felt I ought to mention it in my review.

view from room

Overall Review
★★★ (average)

Honestly, I have no complaints about the Hilton Myrtle Beach. The hotel staff was kind and hospitable. Breakfast was decent. The room was big and the bedding was comfortable. And whether we received our room upgrade for cost or not, we definitely enjoyed having a partial ocean view with a balcony and outdoor seating. Even though the price was a bit high (in my opinion), this is a hotel I would not hesitate to return to in the future.

Your Turn

When you travel to the beach, do you typically seek out the resort-style hotel that offers plenty of amenities to keep you on property? Or are you more of a traditional hotel kind of person? Just a place to lay your head?

Would you consider leaving the hotel balcony doors open all night just so you could hear the sound of the ocean waves crashing up against the shore?

10 Vacation Planning Mini-Miracles

image from FreeRange photographer: Filo

In planning my trip for Hawaii, my focus has been on "little daily miracles" (Thanks Virginia Woolf!).

What do I mean by that?

Well, I'm looking for the little things that will take the trip from ho hum to … magnifico! :) Sometimes this is in something as small as a hotel where we will stay and sometimes it's in something much grander … like a helicopter ride at sunset. Planning a trip to Hawaii is complicated, so I've loved all of the little moments that seem to work out for my benefit, whether I've spent time planning for them … or not.

1. RT flights from Atlanta to Hawaii for $22.50 (and a bunch of Delta points). ✈️

When we signed up for the Delta credit card (for Justin), we never imagined we'd be using the points he received with the card for a flight to Hawaii! In fact, I had planned little mini-trips using the Delta points at 5 or 10,000 points a piece for trips to places like NYC and Chicago. In other words, my goal was to break up those 70,000 points and get a lot of "mileage" out of them.

Justin's goal? Go somewhere we never would have wanted to fork the money out to visit.

A miracle, if you will.

2. Then, because that wasn't awesome enough, Delta changed the first part of our itinerary having us fly into MSP instead of LAX and shortening our transfer time to less than an hour. ✈️

Less than an hour to change planes? 😮

For someone who has never had to change planes before, that amount of time was scary!

So Justin called Delta and explained that we weren't comfortable with our layover schedule. Since Delta had reduced our layover time to 45 minutes from 3 hours, was there anything they could do for us?

… And when you don't like what the initial customer service agent says, you talk to someone else. So that's what he did. (Dang was Justin mad at me for making him call! And even more angry when he had to stay on the phone even longer!)

End result? We're flying into LAX one day earlier and have a two hour layover! Which basically means we get one extra day in Hawaii! Yay!!!!

image from FreeRange; photographer: Geoffrey Whiteway

3. With an extra day in Hawaii (really, Maui), I booked the Kula Lodge for our first night, meaning we will be able to get just a little bit of extra sleep before seeing sunrise at the peak of the Haleakala National Park!

4. Just after Justin and I began making travel plans for Hawaii, the Visa Signature website began offering a $100 Visa gift card and BOGO nights at Hiltons, so I promptly booked the Grand Wailea. It came with free breakfast, a room upgrade, and … well the Visa Signature deal. In the end I think we're saving money?

The Grand Wailea is an expensive hotel, but it is very well-rated on TripAdvisor. So yay!

5. After deciding a ferry to Molokai would be happening (because whales. duh.), I opted to fly from Molokai island to Honolulu for the last part of our 9 day Hawaii trip. ✈️

Originally I had booked Hawaiian airlines, but upon further investigation, I realized we could fly via the small aircraft carrier Mokulele Airlines, a nine passenger plane where every passenger has an aisle seat and a window seat. :)

Then I realized we could fly this airline at sunset

I'd be lying if I said my day didn't get even better with that realization. :)

I had wanted to plan a helicopter tour, but flying with Mokulele airlines achieved multiple things – it kept costs down, meant I wouldn't miss sunset despite being in the air (these planes fly lower than larger, mainland aircraft), and saved time by giving me my overhead view of the islands without preventing me from doing other things on ground.

image from: FreeRange photographer: Jack Moreh

6. As I ticked off necessary planning, I really spent my time researching hotels.
I chose the Hyatt Regency Maui, because of the penguins, dolphins and other mammals we might see there. (Maybe it will save us money, because we will be too busy looking at all of the animals to go and do anything else?) 🐧 🐬

And Turtle Bay, because it saved us time as we travelled around the island Honolulu is on. 🐢

Finally, I picked The Royal Hawaiian because pink. If you are going to stay in Hawaii, you might as well stay at a hotel that looks Hawaiian, right? 💕

7. When I realized the Molokai ferry no longer ran (as of October 2016), I got busy planning my ferry trip to Lanai. And from Lanai we would fly out to Molokai. (And from there Honolulu.) ⛵️

Yes, we would be spending way too much time flying, but…

our hotel in Lanai is way cheaper than what I was looking at in Maui.

And two, we'll be getting to see 4 islands during our trip! Yeah baby! :)

(I couldn't give up my ferry ride! Must. see. whales. 🐋 )

image from FreeRange; photographer: Geoffrey Whiteway

8. Through planning this trip, I discovered VisitACity (not an ad) which has made a huge difference in my travel planning. Now I know approximate times and can fill up my itinerary according to that. When I make bookings and purchase tickets, I know that we can make it where we are going by the time we need to get there. So that gives me a bit of relief!

9. I'm also eternily grateful for Club1Hotels (also not an ad), which has saved me a minimum of $200 on this trip alone.

10. Go Visit Hawaii has been incredibly helpful in my trip planning. They have broken down everything from the cheapest places to rent a car, what to do if you find roaches in said-car(!!), what to see and do on each island, best restaurants to eat at, and so much more! I can never thank them enough for all of the help they provide! :)

While not every aspect of planning this trip has gone smoothly, I'm greatful for what has. Hopefully in a few months, I'll be able to update you all with positive results and the realization that every aspect of this trip, from planning to going has turned out even more wonderful than I could ever have imagined! :)

Tell me about how you experience "little daily miracles"? While planning a vacation and having things go right might be nice, I imagine that some experiences, like your favorite song playing on the radio or having a good hair day can take a so-so day and improve it by a lot! … Has anything in your life, recently, just fallen into place, as if it were meant to be?

Linking up with Tamara Gerber
of Confessions of a Part Time Working Mom

for #TopTenThursday

Wordless Wednesday

Brittany, France (July 2016)

I'm not in love with the editing I did on this image, but I figured I should start going through and editing my images from this summer. It has almost a haze to the image that I'm not sure how to fix. And does it have a green color cast?

Either way, the image was shot using a telephoto lens from a boat, so at least it's in focus? I guess I have that going for me. :)

Does anyone have any awesome photo editing tips? I'm in desperate need! :)

*Linked up with Travel Tuesday.

All The Broken Hearts in the World Still Beat

Photo credit: lakelandlocal via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

It is no surprise that the election from Tuesday November 8th caught a lot of people off guard, myself included. While today's post isn't technically a response to the election results, it kind of is.

I had Tuesday November 8th off; the people I babysit for decided to use their oldest son as a babysitter rather than me.

Ok. Whatever.

So, instead I started prepping some December blog posts. Then, as the election polls were being reviewed, I worked on completing my Hawaii hotel bookings. I wasn't worried. I mean I had full confidence that the American people would vote against prejudice and hate.

I have never been more wrong in my entire life. Clearly I live in a bubble.

While I'm not sure as of yet what to expect from Trump as president or even how I will handle (or help friends and family handle) whatever misfortunes he throws at us (hopefully none, but it's not looking good), as a way of coping, Justin and I, at the kindness of my boss, who offered us free tickets, decided to take a date night and attend the Ingrid Michaelson concert in Atlanta at the Tabernacle Theatre.

First, we stopped in at Leon's in downtown Decatur and had a fantastic meal.

Address 131 E Ponce de Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030
HoursMon: 5 pm – 1 am 
             Tues – Thurs: 11:30 am – 1 am
             Fri – Sat: 11:30 am – 2 am
             Sun: 11:30 am – 1 am
             (Kitchen closes one hour prior)

For our entree we ordered the grilled springer mountain chicken, toasted barley, miso, roasted local squash, pearl onion, kale, and cherry-mustard jus. Honestly, when I read that list on the menu, I had no idea what to expect, but yum! :) It was so, so delicious!

And because the restaurant offered it (and I had been wanting to try it), we also ordered beef poutine made up of brasstown beef (whatever that is), peppercorn gravy, cheese curds, frites, and a sunny side up farm egg. I had never tried real poutine before (and still haven't since we haven't been to Canada); however, this version was amazing! Far better than our experiment from July!

And because I can't resist delicious ice cream, our next stop was Butter and Cream.

Address416 Church St, Decatur, GA 30030
HoursSunday – Thursday: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
             Friday and Saturday: 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.

My favorite flavor of ice cream there is butterscotch (plain), but they didn't have it. Instead we got the butterscotch brownie which was equally as good! We got it in a waffle cone, taking it on the go, so that we wouldn't miss our MARTA train.

No judgement! We had to eat a bit before I took the picture! ;)
When we arrived to the Tabernacle half an hour early, a line was already forming. It was mostly millenial females and their significant others. Like I told Justin though, the concert would be free for us, so who cared what the demographic was? ;) We had two different types of tickets to choose from: general standing admission (the pit) and top level seated admission on the balcony. I like to pretend I'm rich, so we went with the balcony seating.

Address: 152 Luckie St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303

A few things to know about the Tabernacle and what is allowed:
• No outside food or drinks.
• No weapons of any kind.
• No cameras, GoPros, OR selfie sticks.
• No bags.
• Taking pictures with your phone is OK unless they tell you otherwise (probably based on celebrity and event).

For security, they split us into two lines – men and women. Then used a metal detector wand to determine if we were bringing anything forbidden into the theater. Seurity checked our IDs and gave us a wristband before we entered the theatre (just for those interested in drinking) as well as offereing an upgrade for VIP seating at a cost of $25 more (on top of whatever you paid for your tickets. Preferably you would have bought the cheap seats for this.) VIP seating had access to a full bar, side seating for the theatre, and "rooftop access" (whatever that is).

Overall, Justin and I found that this concert arena that would have cost us $35 for seats or $29 for general admission was a great place to spend our evening. Ingrid Michaelson provided a safe space for us to get past the election results in a somewhat neutral location. (Though it can be argued how neutral the location actually was since Michaelson definitely shared her position on the election results.)

Our seats were second row balcony!
Now … to the concert!

The opener was a band called AJR, a group of brothers who named their band after the first letter of their first names. Quirky, cute, unimaginative. Needless to say, I was unimpressed with the band. They were loud and seemed to be more interested in entertaining than actually singing. Whatever.

Finally, Ingrid Michaelson came on stage, nearly half an hour after AJR had retreated. She sang a bit, talked about the election, interacted with her audience, then entertained a bit more all while throwing a few songs into the mix and really making the whole concert experience fun. If you ever have the chance and know at least one song sung by her, I'd recommend going. She definitely makes her concerts more about experiences and entertainment than purely music.

Just as the concert was coming to an end, Michaelson informed the audience to give her a minute and she would be back for the encore. And just like that, a few minutes letter, she came back bigger and better than ever (and perhaps louder?) with her closer "Girls Chase Boys Chase Girls". It was fantastic and the audience was enthralled! Everyone (well, except me!) was singing along and a few were up out of their seats dancing.

At 10:30 pm, the concert had officially concluded and we were let out onto the fire exit steps where we got a beautiful view of the Skyview Atlanta Ferris Wheel. I don't think our night could have ended on a more pleasant note (aside from the one hour drive we had to make to return home).

Do I dare ask your feelings on the election? Were you as shocked and surprised as me … or was this something you were expecting? (Do I want to know?)

How do you get through difficult times? Would a night out on the town have distracted you and helped you disassociate yourself from your feelings? Or would it have led to more stress and anxiety?

Have you ever received free tickets to a concert performance, theatre production, or something else? What would a date night for you look like?

** Linking up to City Trippers and