Visiting Jekyll Island, Georgia [Roadtrip from Atlanta!] 

Beautiful trees surrounding a walking pathway in Jekyll Island

I can not tell you how excited I am to write this blog post. Our recent trip to Jekyll Island is the first trip since the pandemic started that truly feels like we explored a new area. I had forgotten how much I love that feeling! 

We had done a cabin and a beach house, but those trips were more about the area around our rental and less about exploring. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good secluded trip, especially when in a global pandemic. Still, it was nice to wander around the little wild piece of paradise that is Jekyll Island. The high sixties and low seventies temperatures in early May allowed this to be the perfect, uncrowded getaway… and it was only about a 5+ hour drive from Atlanta!

We really enjoyed our getaway. I am sharing the details of our mini adventure in case you are looking for inspiration for upcoming trips!

Man walks alone in the beach during a beautiful day without any clouds in the blue sky

Let’s start with where to stay in Jekyll Island.

We chose to stay at a VRBO property with walking access to the beach. Our place was modest, but it had everything we needed. Honestly, there’s so much to do outdoors that you can go this simple route and save money on accommodations. Everything is easy to access with a bike, so if you are bringing your bike or planning to rent bikes, you can consider a rental a little bit further from the beach. More on bikes further down!  

There are also some great hotel and resort options on the island, including options with fun pool areas if you plan to travel with kids (or you just love a good pool slide). Out of the list, The Jekyll Island Club Resort is the most iconic spot. This resort was formerly the exclusive Jekyll Island Club that hosted prominent families from the north back in the day and is now a luxury historic resort hotel. I would save staying at this spot for a special occasion or when you are ready to partake in all of the resort activities to truly make it worth it. What’s cool is that you can still visit the resort, even if you are not a guest. 

Where you stay can really dictate your vibe, so think about it: what do you want to get out of your trip to Jekyll Island? I don’t think there is a wrong answer!

Now, let’s talk about food.

Dinner plate with salmon on top of a white sauce pasta

Regardless of where you end up staying, I totally recommend you do drinks or dinner at The Wharf. At the moment of our visit, they were only taking reservations for guests of the Jekyll Island Club Resort (where the restaurant is located). Still, we got there early and just waited for a table outside. Waiting 1+ hour for a table out on the deck, a drink in hand, and a beautiful view ahead is not too shabby! The sunset views made it absolutely worth it and extra special, as it was our anniversary dinner (woo). 

Colorful sunset over Jekyll Island captured from The Wharf restaurant
sunset view from The Wharf

Not only was I feeling grateful to be able to celebrate another year of marriage, I was also extremely aware that we were outside in a beautiful setting, enjoying a delicious dinner and live music. I couldn’t even remember the last time we were in a similar scenario, and the blessing of the moment was not lost on me. 

Lunch plate ordered at Zachry's Riverhouse restaurant including: grilled shrimp, buttered potatoes and lima beans with bacon
lunch at Zachry’s Riverhouse… excellent!

I was expecting good seafood on this trip since you’re by the coast, but I hadn’t given much thought to what specific type of seafood was awaiting. Turns out, Georgia Wild Shrimp are pretty unique and quite delicious. We went to Zachry’s Riverhouse for lunch, and I FEASTED. They also have a nice outdoor seating area. Even though we were there for lunch, I can assume they have an excellent view of sunsets based on their location.

Two cups of margarita on the rocks from Tortuga Jacks, overlooking an ocean view

Another cool spot was Tortuga Jacks. In my opinion, their food was average, but the location and views make the spot worth it (Brian wants to make it clear that he really enjoyed the food). They are conveniently located along the bike path (as most places are), so we had some fun biking in and out. The spot reminded me of being in Rincón, Puerto Rico, with those low-key beach vibes (I was just missing the Kaplash empanadas, IYKYK). They also have a great bottomless mimosas deal on Sundays (only $8!).

Bikes are a must!

Empty road surrounded by tall, green trees and only one biker on the road, biking ahead

If you come to Jekyll Island and don’t bike, you will miss a big part of what makes this place so unique. The island is wrapped in bike trails, so you can basically get anywhere on a bike. I had missed biking SO much, especially biking as a casual mode of transportation and not a workout you are diligently tracking on your Apple watch.

We decided not to bring our own bikes because we did not feel too confident about our bike rack withstanding a 5 hours+ road trip and instead rented bikes for the weekend. This is a solid option, but I was not a big fan of the bikes we got (which seem to be the type that is widely available for rent across the island). Sure, they can get you from point A to point B, but I wanted to be more comfortable looping around the island, about a 25-mile ride. 

Jekyll Island’s rich history (pun intended)

To be honest, I had never heard of Jekyll Island until we saw Jekyll Island Brewing in Alpharetta (I still need to figure out the connection there). We were researching beaches to drive to from Atlanta, and Jekyll Island came up as one of the options. We really didn’t have much other knowledge to go off from.

One of the first things I heard about the island, as I set out to learn more about it before our arrival, was that it used to be the playground of the wealthy socialites from the north. When you arrive on the island, you also see a big sign that says “Jekyll Island, Established in 1947.” 

[ Side note: I found it a little amusing that our last trip before the pandemic was to The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, as Jekyll Island used to host some of the same family members. We also went to Newport, Rhode Island a while back, so it was interesting to patch up some of what we had learned in our previous trips with what we uncovered at Jekyll Island. Look at us, so bougie. ]

My ignorant self assumed that the Vanderbilts, Rockerfellers, J.P. Morgans, and those of the like, had found this empty island and saw in it an opportunity to set one of their retreat locations in the south. 

As we have come to learn, nothing is as simple as it initially sounds. During our trip, we learned that Jekyll Island was so much more before it did end up becoming a playground for the rich.

I totally recommend visiting the Mosaic Jekyll Island Museum. There, we learned of the critical pieces of history that are not usually shared when people talk about Jekyll Island. In the museum, you can learn about the first known habitants of the island way back before any European colonizers arrived at the shore or the illegal landing of the ship The Wanderer with 465 slaves from Africa, fifty years after the importation of slaves to the United States had been prohibited. We didn’t have time to visit the Wanderer Memory Trail, but it’s definitely on my list when we return. All this history got me thinking about the importance of getting to know more about your vacation spot and taking the time to go deeper than the basics that are sold to you when it comes to a destination. 

Another great learning experience was visiting Georgia Sea Turtle Center: Georgia’s only sea turtle education and rehabilitation facility. Their preservation efforts are so important, and their center does offer a lot of education opportunities. This is also an excellent stop for a visit with kids. It helps instill the importance of conservation and taking care of the planet we live on. Another fun activity for kids (or Brian) is the Jekyll Island Miniature Golf. We also enjoyed horseback riding in Driftwood Beach.

two women riding two different horses on the beach, the ocean to the left and the sand to the right.

With only four days on the island, we know we barely scratched the surface. Jekyll may seem like a small island, but there is surprisingly a lot to do. We also want to explore the other islands part of the Golden Isles and Cumberland Island (which I always call Cucumber Island by mistake)… all for a future visit!

Have you been to Jekyll Island or any of the islands off the coast of Georgia? Any recommendations for future visits? Let me know in the comments!

orange, pink and blue sunset at Jekyll Island

Is BarkBox Worth It? Honest Unpaid Review

“It’s the best day of the month!” – the moment we start singing this, Rico and Melo KNOW what’s up. They start wagging their tails and jumping with excitement because their BarkBox has arrived! A treat for both humans and pets, BarkBox consistently brings us joy every month.

Rico enjoying his “Puppy spice latte”
Melo getting ready to play with “Sweater Weather Heather”

How does BarkBox work?

It’s very straight-forward. When you sign up, you are able to customize your subscription based on your pup’s needs. You start by telling them your dog’s name and choosing your dog’s size (all BarkBox plans are the same price, regardless of the dog’s size). Then, you select what plan you want (the more months you commit too, the cheaper it is) and you can also let them know if your dog has any allergies. 

What comes in a BarBox?

Every month has a special theme and even though I realize that Rico and Melo don’t care about the fun details as much as they care about the “chew appeal”, it’s the little things that bring us humans entertainment. From a “Voulez Chew Croissant” toy in their “Frenchies in Paris” box to “Hamleg” pork dog treats on their “Shakespeare in the Dog Park” box, the team at BarkBox consistently deliver awesome boxes every month. 

Each box in our plan contains:

  • Two toys: Each toy is made by BarkBox’s toy designers, following the theme and offering something unique for your dog. Some toys are squeaky, others have other toys inside of them! It varies each month which keeps it interesting. I wouldn’t say Rico and Melo are ultimate toy destroyers but they know how to give them a good chew and yet, all of their BarkBox toys last a whiiiiile. If your dog is a true toy destroyer, I recommend you check out their Super Chewer option. 
  • Two bags of treats: The puns they use for naming these are always on point. More seriously though, all of the BarkBox treats are made in the USA and Canada from domestic and imported ingredients. In two years, there has not been a single treat Rico and Melo have not liked. 
  • One chewy treat: This one lasts only seconds after the box is opened. It is our tradition for “the best day of the month” that we split the chew between Rico and Melo right away. For both treats and chews, BarkBox seems to be able to accommodate allergies and/or dietary restrictions.  

How much is BarkBox? 

We currently pay $22 every month under the 12 month plan. This gets billed monthly. We do one box for two dogs which honestly is perfect for us. Like I said earlier, we split the “chewy edible” and then technically they each get a toy and a bag of treats. I think it’s very reasonable pricing if you were to buy each thing individually, especially when you consider the quality ingredients you get on the BarkBox vs. cheaper brands. 

Rico and Melo love BarkBox.

Sure, Rico and Melo love their BarkBox but as a marketer, I am also consistently amused and delighted by BarkBox’s creative efforts and attention to detail. When we moved from Hoboken to Atlanta and I contacted them to change our shipping address, they sent us a little note wishing Rico and Melo a happy move, including a list to popular dog parks and other resources in the area. They also get super creative about referrals and coupons. One time, they got cute little Valentine’s Day cards to send their puppy friends… including a BarkBox referral code, of course!

While we are on that subject 😉 … if you are interested in trying BarkBox, feel free to use Rico and Melo’s discount code via this link! (We will get a free box too!)

So, is BarkBox worth it? For us, it definitely is. Have you tried any service like this before? If so, let me know your thoughts.

Want to keep up with Rico and Melo? (Of course you do)

Follow Rico and Melo on Instagram! @Ricoandmelo

It’s Ok.

It’s been a very long time since I share my poetry here, but this one came to me recently and I think it’s a very important reminder for everyone in this world of constant hustle. Vulnerability and perseverance are wonderful, complicated things – hope you enjoy this little piece of mine.

Switzerland Cristina Nogueras Suiza

It’s OK.

It’s ok to fall down
to get up
to try again
to get it right
to try new things
to fall down
to get up
to rise above
to lead the trail
to stand out
to fall down
and fall down
and keep falling
then stand up
dust off
chin up
smile on
(or not)
but keep going.

-Cristina Nogueras (10.16.19)

Borrow Books Directly to Your Kindle! (For Free!)

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Growing up, I was that little girl who would come home with a Scholastic catalog marked all over with the books I wanted my parents to buy for me. When we had a reading assignment in elementary school, I had to control myself to not finish the book all at once and instead follow the class as we read it chapter by chapter, together. I just loved reading so much.

Fast forward just a *few* years and I admit I’ve had my ups and downs with reading. I’ve had moments when I didn’t read for months and it was not until I started reading frequently again that I realized how much I missed it. The past few months have been great from a reading standpoint, but with that, there has been a small problem rising: reading more means spending more. Don’t get me wrong, I want to support all the authors but I also have savings goals I want to hit. So, what are my options?

Amazon Kindle Unlimited is not for me. 

While I absolutely love my Kindle, their unlimited reading service is just not for me. I tried though! I cross-referenced my reading list with titles available on the service and very few were available, so it’s not worth it for me.

Meet Libby, your new BFF.

Libby

Free books you can borrow online and send directly to your Kindle? Sign me up! Libby is an app that connects with your local library and allows you to borrow books and audiobooks. Sure, there might be a hold on some of the books you want to read but hey, they are free and will be available to you eventually. 

I first learned about Libby recently, thanks to the wonderful Janssen from Everyday Reading and I was surprised that I had not heard about this before! I mean, I knew I could rent books for free at the library, but I thought I had to go back and forth every time and that seemed like a lot of effort for me. Plus, I really do enjoy reading on my Kindle so I didn’t want to deal with hard copies either.   

So, what do you have to do?

    1. Get a library card! I just did a google search based on where I lived and it was super easy. I did have to go in person to show proof of residence, but I didn’t mind it at all.
    2. Download the app and sign up using your library card.
    3. Search for books and start borrowing! 

The only downside of Libby is that there likely will be a waiting list on the most popular books, as the library has limited online licenses available. For example, I am currently on a 6-month wait for Where The Crawdads Sing, but was able to get Next Year in Havana right away. I don’t mind the wait as I always have such a long list of books to read, I am bound to find one from my list that is available right away. Since they give you estimates on when the book will be available, you can place multiple holds and plan ahead! I currently have 6 books on hold that have varying waiting times (anything from 2 weeks to 6 months). Honestly, it’s kind of exciting to plan it like that, but maybe that’s just me? Either way, I love that this is something I can use for free, so absolutely no complaints here.

Had you heard of Libby before? Was I just living under a rock? 

Also, I have no friends over at Good Reads so if you are into that, let’s be friends!

 

[Dinner] Sorellina’s Twist On Some Classics

Finally made it to Sorellina, a nice recently opened spot in Hoboken. Happy to report back that I was not disappointed! It was not too crowded, but then again, temperatures were below freezing so I would still recommend you check out Resy for a reservation, we had no issues.

We started off with some appetizers and if you know me, you know I can’t say “no” to burrata. In addition, we went for the roasted cauliflower and it was absolutely amazing. The charred onions and the breadcrumbs gave it the perfect crunch.

As for the main course, I went for the Cacio e Pepe Conchiglie. It’s not your average Cacio e Pepe as it has milk-braised pork and it features a different type of pasta. Still, I took a chance and it was very good. If you are craving Cacio e Pepe and are 100% set on it, order something else but if you appreciate what makes Cacio e Pepe amazing at the base and are open to exploring something different, go for it!

Brian went with the Bucatini Genovese and he was also very pleased although I must be honest and say he kept trying to eat off my plate. 🙂

Overall, I definitely want to go back and try different plates to keep tasting their unique flavors and fusions.

Have you been yet? Any recommendations?

January was a trial month: Welcome to Beaches & Brie!

Playa La Selva Puerto Rico - Beaches and Brie

After many months of tossing and turning, I am thrilled to announce that Peace, Love & Diet Coke is now Beaches & Brie. Peace, Love & Diet Coke will always have a special place in my heart but I’ve felt for a while now that I needed to change the name to help shape my journey and portray more of who I am.

When I started Peace, Love & Diet Coke back in 2013, I was in dire need of a creative outlet. Adjusting to the workforce was not easy and this blog gave me the opportunity to share what was on my mind, no guidelines or parameters needed. I’ve learned a lot about what I love along the way, all while nurturing a hunger for life and adventures (and food, duh).

Food and travel are two of my biggest passions, as made obvious by my Instagram feed and ongoing rants about how I want to travel the world. Beaches & Brie is both an invitation and a declaration. I want to continue to explore places and plates all over the world, or as close as my backyard. Check out the new look!

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I’m still me, nothing’s changing. I’m just excited to roll this new phase out and continue to share places and plates with you, with some other interesting nuggets along the way. Stay tuned for more to come.

January was just a trial month, 2016 begins now!

 

[Brunch] Bareburger Hoboken

It’s no surprise that I love food. Like, I really, really love food. A fun part of the process when I share things here is that I like to take the time to learn more about where I went or what I ate. Sometimes it’s just a simple Google search, but even that gets to be really fun.

I love Bareburger, not just because I love burgers in general, but they really do serve some really good quality stuff there. Last weekend, I did the unimaginable, I went to Bareburger and I did NOT eat a burger. I know, crazy. Instead, I opted for their brunch and boy, was it delicious.

My boyfriend went for the Hungry Bear, a plate with 3 eggs, french toast, Canadian bacon and sweet potato wedges. The sweet potato wedges were something in between regular sweet potato fries and home fries, perfect for brunch. I obviously had a few myself.

Although tempted by the sound of such a plate, I ordered an avocado toast with a sunny side up egg and a side of their quinoa hash. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this quinoa hash, was it going to be a mashed potato situation or more like regular quinoa? What did I get? Two delicious hash brown-like patties with quinoa and some other amazing things that made it the best companion to an otherwise quite simple (yet fresh) avocado toast.

Bottom line, there’s more to Bareburger than burgers. Those guys can nail a breakfast meal too. However, if it’s your first time going, definitely get a burger. It only makes sense.

Wordless Wednesday: Paris, Je t’aime

 

I can never get tired of admiring Paris.

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Photo by Cristina Nogueras, edited with Piclab

 

 

Looking for Alaska

I love reading things that move me. Wether it is an article that makes me angry, a poem that makes me smile or in this case, a book that makes me cry and smile at the same time. Looking for Alaska is not my first read from John Green, his book The Fault In Our Stars left me weeping a few months ago.

After finishing Looking for Alaska, I felt refreshed. Like if I had understood a little bit of what we all go through in life and how terrible things can happen but that doesn’t make life stop. There’s something refreshing about cold hard truths that can become positive thoughts, a sort of freedom from knowing life is not all sweet and perfect but that it’s ok.

Here are my amateur designs sharing my favorite quotes from the book.

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