Fitting Friends In

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Let me preface this with the obvious: ideally, friendship is not something you have to “fit in” to your schedule. However, life is funny, and inconvenient, and uncooperative sometimes and in those cases, friendship, just like anything else, can take some work.

I feel like this is especially the case as us twenty-somethings start to tackle adulthood head-on. Every time I talk to people lately, it seems we’re answering the question “How are you?” in the exact same way: “I’m busy.”

Busyness is certainly something to be acknowledged in our culture, but that’s probably a blog post for another day. Whether it should be this way or not, there’s no denying that our age group is consumed by the concept, the allure, and the stress of being constantly busy. I’ve done a lot of thinking on this lately, and I think it’s a combination of being physically busy, and never turning off. (That said, I’ve made a pact to do “switch-off Sundays,” during which I turn my phone off and take a bath and read a book, a sort of digital detox to start my week off right. It’s done wonders for my mental clarity.)

Anyways, I’m getting off subject.

The point is, we’re all inherently busy, and as twenty-somethings, I think we’re still smack-dab in the middle of the required learning curve for dealing with said busyness. That can take a toll, on ourselves, and on our friendships.

One solution?

Fit friendships in. 

It doesn’t sound natural to have to schedule in fun but, let’s be honest — between work meetings, workouts, church commitments, date nights, and family time, it can be easy to let something slip.

My pro tip: don’t let it be your friendships. 

Community is so important. Time with your best girls keeps us grounded, and offers important perspective we might not get from the people we see each and every day. And as much as I love my group texts, nothing replaces laughing together over some charcuterie and sav blanc.

Or FaceTime. Can I just give Apple a huge shout out for enabling us to stay in face-to-face contact so unbelievable easily? (Actually, I suppose that shout out really belongs to whomever invented the first video chat, and giving the kudos to Apple is akin to thanking Kleenex for creating facial tissue. Man, branding is a tricky business.)

Ramble about video chats aside, I really am so appreciative for them. Sometimes, it’s just not physically feasible to get together in person — for example, due to a certain Shining Twin living a few too many states away. And while that might not be the best example, considering her and I literally work opposite schedules, when we do get a time to connect via video, it’s the biggest blessing. And if that’s what it takes to fit friends in, then by all means, I’ll do it.

Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect at fitting friends in. I’m an ambivert by nature, so while I love, love, love socializing, there are certainly times when I’d prefer to block out the word in favor of curling up on the couch with some tea and Netflix.

But I always feel better after some solid friendship time. After all, spending time with loved ones is just as important as eating well, getting exercise, and sleeping enough.

So fit it in.

If anything, you’ll never be sorry for spending a little extra time with the people you love the most.

Travel Diary: A Surprise Denver Reunion

Here’s the thing about surprises: I’m not so great with them. When it comes to surprises for myself, you’d better hope it is actually that — a surprise. I don’t do so well when I know something’s coming, but can’t be told what it is. (And by “don’t do so well,” I mean that I will bug you incessantly and you will end up regretting everything.) I only like surprises if I am genuinely, completely caught off guard.

And when it comes to pulling off surprises of my own? Well, I like to talk a lot. Things sometimes slip out.

But when they’re important, they never do.

This past weekend, we pulled off one important, wonderful surprise for my best friend.

I headed to Colorado for a work trip, which Jen was well aware of. We’d already planned it out: I’d go to my event in the Springs, she’d pick me up at the airport afterwards, and we’d spend the weekend together doing all of the autumnal things.

Little did she know, we’d have someone else with us.

Our friend Makenzie — Jen’s best friend since high school, and my subsequently “good friend” 😉 — has been in Spain all summer. She and Jen hadn’t seen each other since January.

So, naturally, we had to get them back together.

Guys, I was shaking by the time Makenzie got to the Denver airport. I was so nervous that, for some reason or another, this wouldn’t work out. There were a lot of moving parts, after all: I’d fibbed to Jen and said I had a client dinner that would keep me from getting back to the Denver airport until 9:30 that night (in reality, I’d been sitting at the airport since my shuttle from the Springs got me there at six); Jen said she was heading to the airport before Makenzie’s flight even touched down; we’re all connected on Find My Friends so there was always the chance she’d look and catch on. I was fidgety and nervous and excited and anxious, all at once.

And then, we totally pulled it off:

Naturally, once it was discovered that we had an extra member of our little crew that weekend, our plans shifted a bit. A pumpkin patch first became brunch, then became s’mores, then became a fall festival in a trendy alleyway in downtown Denver. The barre class Jen and I planned on taking got pushed back a day and was also Makenzie’s first introduction to the workout. We discovered the glory of cinnamon-sugar donut bites, and the unfortunate irritation of bad service when you’re waiting for brunch and hungry. (In case you’re wondering – Jelly Cafe has amazing food, but don’t go when it’s busy.)

But most of all, we reunited.

And honestly, it wouldn’t have mattered what we did. We could have sat on the couch watching How I Met Your Mother all day, petting the dogs and eating pickled green beans and we would have been completely content. (Oh wait – we did do that…)

All that mattered is that we pulled it off.

And it was one of the best weekends we could have asked for.

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[Special shout out to Quinn, for knowing about it the entire time and not saying a word, and willingly giving up the entire ground floor of his house for the weekend.]

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Cheers until next time, Denver.

GNO (or in!) Like a Pro

Ladies, I think we can all agree that some of our best times are spent with our best girls. However, sometimes (or, all the time, if you’re notoriously indecisive, like myself), figuring out how to get some quality gal pal time in can be a bit tricky. There’s just so many options — which, oddly enough, tends to feel like there’s nothing to do at all!

So in the spirit of helping out all my other can’t-make-a-decision-to-save-our-lives readers, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite ways to GNO (or in!) like a total pro. No matter the budget, time, or preferences of your squad, any of these are guaranteed to be filled with lots of laughter and plenty of bonding.

Paint & Sip Classes

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These are all over Instagram these days, and with good reason! You don’t have to be Picasso or Monet to have a blast attempting to recreate whatever masterpiece you and your friends have chosen. Add in a few of your favorite sips, and you’re guaranteed to at least spend a lot of time laughing, even if your actual painting doesn’t turn out exactly like you thought it would. (My pro tip on this one – be careful with how much wine you drink if you want to have any hope of making something decent. My cornhole skills might get better the further into our cabin’s Labor Day block party we get… my painting skills… not so much.)

If you’re in the Phoenix area, I’d highly recommend Pinot’s Palette, in Gilbert!

Budget friendly alternative: Host a paint night yourself! Canvases and acrylics aren’t too expensive at your local craft store, and we all know that a bottle of wine at the store is the same price as one glass at a bar. You can find stencils and tutorials for just about any masterpiece online! Just be careful where you do the painting — outside might be best.

Movie Night 

There’s something about keeping it traditional – a chick flick, some popcorn, and your best gal pal. Now, movie theaters are stepping it up and allowing you to get the whole dinner-and-a-movie experience in one place. At the Studio Movie Grill, they’ve got an assortment of delicious dinner choices (personally, I recommend the flatbread) and table service during the latest films.

Budget friendly alternative: Turn on the Netflix, order a pizza, and pop some prossecco or sparkling cider to keep it festive! Netflix released some killer chick flicks over the summer. There’s nothing wrong — in fact, there’s everything right — with binge watching To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Kissing Booth, and Sierra Burgess is a Loser for the eighteenth time.

Dressed Up Dessert

I don’t know about you, but I love finding a good excuse to get dressed up, and I don’t have nearly enough reasons. But if you feel like splurging, it sure is fun to put on some heels and hit a swanky restaurant (personally, I’m a fan of the resort restaurants) for a glass of something bubbly and a decadent dessert. Indulge your sweet tooth and give your favorite dress some time out of the closet all at the same time.

Budget friendly alternative: Go in the complete opposite direction and make homemade ice cream sundaes in your PJs! It’s just like middle school — only, without the catty comments and awkward phases, thank goodness.

Wine & Cheese 

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This one’s a classic, and for a good reason. And, if you know me, this is my top recommendation for girls night basically every time, because I just can’t pass up a good charcuterie board. The best part is, there’s tons of places in town that offer their stellar cheese boards on special for happy hour! (Check out my post on the happiest hours in Phoenix for some of my top local recommendations.)

Budget friendly alternative: Make your own! Places like Trader Joes’ offer excellent cheese options, and addictive crackers to go with it, all at a wallet-friendly price. The best part of making your own cheese board, too, is getting to decide exactly what goes on it — which, for me, would just be Brie, Brie, and some more Brie.

Do It For The ‘Gram

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Who doesn’t love a good photoshoot? Instagram exhibits are all the rage these days, so grab your gals and head to something like the Art of Ice Cream Experience, where not only can you indulge in all the sweet treats you could possibly desire, but you’ll get some great candids out of it too, perfect for showing off what a great girls night you had to all of your followers! (Because, you know, that’s important these days… says the blogger.)

Budget friendly alternative: Insta-worthy museums can have a price tag, but a plain old wall and your iPhone certainly don’t! Grab some props, whether it’s cheap photobooth mustaches from the Dollar Spot, or your fave stuffed animal that we all know sits on your bed, and stage your own shoot! You’ll have just as many silly shots, and hardly spend a cent!

No matter where you go or what you do, though, the most important thing is that you’re spending some solid time with your best friends… cheers to that!

Travel Diary: Turnaround Trip to San Diego

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I preface this with the disclaimer that it wasn’t technically a turnaround trip. More like in one night and out the other. Still. There’s something off putting about getting off the plane in San Diego to an email reminding you to check in for your flight back to Phoenix.

But I digress.

I hopped on a plane this time around for a work event. My boss makes fun of me lately for always volunteering to travel for clients (or sometimes, for professional development). My response is always to laugh, because I’m perfectly aware that my constant volunteering fits perfectly into my millennial-working-in-PR stereotype.

However, I also know that work travel is exactly that – work travel. You’re there to do what you’re there to do, not to take advantage of the fact that you’re on a “free” trip.

That said, if that trip happens to take me to a place where I know people, then you can bet I’m going to try to squeeze in a little bit of time with them, when I’m off-duty. After all, you don’t work 24 hours a day.

This particular trip happened to fall on a Tuesday, and my friend Alexis happens to live in San Diego. The thing is, we used to do these things we called “Taylor Tuesdays.” Back in college, we worked the same student job, and we worked the same shift my junior year on Tuesday nights. That shift kept us on campus until 10 (or later, when someone came rushing in to return a camera right at the deadline, but that’s not the point). I had to be at my internship at 8 am the next morning, only a few minutes from school, but I was living a solid 45 minutes off campus. It seemed silly to drive all the way back just to sleep, so we started making Tuesdays our regular sleepover nights. Or, “Taylor Tuesday,” if you will. You know how I love the alliteration.

So, as soon as I found out I was heading her way, I called her up and asked if she would be interested in hosting another Taylor Tuesday. It was the perfect solution – I got to spend time with a friend I don’t see nearly enough, thanks to the inevitable way that life goes once you toss your caps in the air, and I saved on a hotel room. Win-win.

The rest of this story is pretty simple. Lex picked me up at the airport and we treated ourselves to dinner at the Bier Garden of Encinitas. We ate the best burgers (hers, normal… mine, salmon) with sides of waffle fries, accompanied by one of the most refreshing Moscow mules I’ve had in a long time, another throwback to our college days.

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The best part of dinner was that we sat outside. Man, I need to move to a place where that’s not off limits during the summer.

After dinner we wandered over to JoJo’s, a local ice cream place that may just take the (ice cream) cake for one of my favorite ice cream joints. Seriously – any place that you can get a malted cookie dough and mint cookies and creme combo is an A+ in my book.

We wrapped up the evening by watching Bachelor in Paradise, which is a testament to how hooked I’ve gotten on this ridiculous reality show.

It was a short visit, for sure, and I barely caught a glimpse of the ocean, but that’s not what I was there for. I was there to work, with a little side of play. And I’m so grateful for that. I’m grateful for friends who will take even the shortest amount of time whenever you can squeeze it in, because let’s be honest — it gets hard to keep in touch when life gets going. I’m grateful for a company that does good work with good clients and good people. So if this quick trip left me with anything, it was gratitude, and we can always use a reminds of the things we have to be grateful for.

Travel Diary: Denver for a Trip Around the Sun

I am sitting at the airport as I write this and, first off, I would like to acknowledge just how much I love the airport. It holds such a sense of adventure, such a promise of what’s to come. Plus, it’s a wonderful place to people watch.

But I digress, because that’s not really what this post is about.

I am on my way home from Denver, where I just spent a lovely three days with one of my favorite humans and her two cute pups. This is becoming a bit of a tradition. Every year at the 4th of July, I fly up to the Mile High City to see my best friend. Of course, this year, the Fourth fell on a Wednesday which was mildly inconvenient, so we just bumped our timeline up a little. Which actually worked out so well, because we also have a mutual love of Kenny Chesney, who happened to be playing in Denver this past weekend.

Naturally, we went.

This was my fourth time seeing Kenny, and Jen and mine’s second Kenny concert with one another, and it was just as fun as it’s ever been. I’m the product of Parrotheads, which probably means I was destined to be a part of the No Shoes Nation, but even without that prerequisite, there’s just something about a Kenny show.

I’ve always loved water, and always felt like, eventually, I’m destined to live beside it. Every Kenny Chesney concert simply confirms that prediction. There’s a feel to him — he’s a little bit country, a little bit rock, but he’s island through and through.

Plus, there’s the fact that Kenny was my first ever concert (I don’t count the Cheetah Girls in fourth grade), and you tend to have a bit of an attachment to whoever that was, right?

Besides, in my adult years — more specifically, since my junior year of college — it’s become a bit of a tradition to see him every tour, and if you know me, I’m a huge sucker for traditions.

I love knowing that you can always have something to look forward to. I love know that every summer, I’ll buy a plane ticket to Denver (granted, next summer may be an exception as we potentially shift our annual reunion overseas… but still, you get the picture.) I love knowing that Kenny Chesney will put me in a great mood and that I’ll be whisked off to the islands no matter where I am — whether it’s in the middle of the desert, at the edge of plains, or in the foggy bay.

But most of all, I love knowing that a friend will be there. I love knowing that I can call her up in the middle of the night because she’ll answer, and not just because she’ll be awake because of her crazy producer schedule. I love knowing that I can text her about the most mundane things and she’ll at least read it even if we’re both awful at replying. I love knowing how easily we can freak people out by accidentally saying the same thing at the same time. I love knowing that there’s a person I can always go to to remind me what’s important. I love the fact that we went from random Spanish project partners to coworkers to roommates to twins.

I mean, come on. We even unintentionally matched our outfits.

Now, to be honest, I didn’t start this post with the intention of making it a note of appreciation for my Shining Twin. But, I also started this blog on the floor of the Denver airport and I’m finishing it sitting upright at my desk, so I guess intentions can change with time, right? I always fall into a post-trip funk (anyone else with me on that? Coming home is great and I love what I come home to, but there’s still an element of sadness when a trip concludes). It’s heightened, when you just leave your best friend.

Anyways. Thanks, Denver, for another incredible trip, and here’s to the next one, in (pretty much) one trip around the sun.

The Sweetest Thing

Millennial friendship is such an anomaly, if you ask me. On one hand, we still very much have the “keeping up with the Jones’” competitive attitude of generations past – look at my new job, new fiancé, new baby, new dog (but no new house, as we are too busy buying avocado toast). On the other hand, we’re the generation throwing convention to the wind, and known for being excruciatingly supportive of it – oh, you want to quit your job to go drive around the US in an air stream trailer? TOTALLY, I’m so into your free spirit!

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Photo taken at the Art of Ice Cream Experience.

That said, millennial friendship can be hard to strike a balance… to find the sweet spot, if you will.

Friendship is a balance of giving deep life advice with an edge of realness, and advising that you buy plane tickets you can’t afford just in the name of life experiences.

It’s a sweet spot somewhere between chatting about work over wine and charcuterie, and diving into a ball pit a The Art of Ice Cream Experience for the sake of an Instagram.

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Photo taken at the Art of Ice Cream Experience.

It’s being real when it counts, and offering to take a million photos to get the “picture perfect” shot when it doesn’t.

It’s about showing up when you’re expected, and even when you’re not, while also respecting the inevitable boundaries of our always-on, career-driven millennial culture.

Friendship knows when to blindly support and when to offer a word of caution. That said, it’s also respecting where and when your opinion is warranted.

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Photo taken at the Art of Ice Cream Experience.

It’s a game of chance. It’s not easy, but relationships between humans inherently aren’t. It’s just as much about finding the sweet spot and recognizing our own humanity and humility, and that of others. It’s knowing that we are all going through life, which is full of twists and turns and mistakes and glorious moments, and knowing how much sweeter it is to do that with a few good friends by your side.

Travel Diary: City of Angels

Los Angeles is the city of angels, beautiful weather, an unfortunately blue baseball team… and traffic. I went this last weekend and was reminded that no matter how long I have to spend in the car getting from place to place, I’m always infinitely happier when I cross the state line.

What We Did

We were mostly there for a girls weekend. One of our friends had her 25th birthday party, another was home from Denver, another is starting law school soon, and a third is about to leave for Spain. It was just a good time for us to get together.

I also snuck in a short visit with my cousin while everyone else was sleeping Sunday morning. Her and I did the “quintessential LA hike” – aka Runyon Canyon. And let me tell you… the views were absolutely gorgeous. I get why people fall in love with this city.

Where We Ate

Jinky’s Cafe
This has become a bit of a staple for my LA trips, because who says no to table tots? They also call their avocado toast guacamole toast, and I completely respect that they make no attempt to hide what it truly is. It’s literally guacamole on toast, and it’s delicious.

Boomtown Brewery
This was the site of the birthday party, and it’s got a really chill vibe and a very Instagrammable wall (priorities). There’s also a food truck outside that serves up a variety of fries. We accidentally got ours with buffalo cauliflower instead of buffalo chicken, but let me tell ya – that’s the best order mess up we’ve ever had.

Wurstkuche
Apparently, this place is famous. I’m not the biggest sausage fan, but they had a vegan option, which was oddly delicious.

Pro tip: there can be a bit of a line, though, so get there early or be patient!

The Bellwether
Good food, odd concept. Everything comes out as it’s ready, which can be great for grazing, but for us just meant that 2 of us got our avocado toast before the others got their respective French toast and chilaquiles. That said, I’m looking forward to going back when I don’t have a 6 hour drive ahead of me – the cocktails looked delicious!

So, there you have it: a quick recap of my quick trip to the second best city in California 😉

Next trip across the state line will be to Disneyland – you already know that I can’t wait!