Settling in to Life in Australia

G’Day Mates! Kidding, I am pretty sure I can’t get away with saying that anytime soon. It is now exactly a month since I’ve been here in Australia and I am loving it so far! I know, total shocker right. The weather has been fantastic since I arrived, our house is a five minute drive from multiple beaches (hopefully getting a bike soon) and it’s been really nice for Stephen and I to reconnect and spend quality time together after being apart for 2.5 months. And I mean a LOT of quality time together, we barely know anyone around here…

Moving usually comes with its ups and downs and moving countries definitely is no different. Living in a different country puts you more out of your comfort zone because your norms are totally flipped around, sometimes literally flipped like driving on the other side of the car, AND the road. I am lucky to be in an English speaking country so it’s not as big of a transition as moving elsewhere in the world, but it still comes with plenty of new experiences. Today I am sharing some of what I’ve experienced in my first month of living down under. And since I prefer to end of a happy note- let’s begin with the not-so-easy stuff.

Shopping- Where do I go?

O how I miss you Amazon, Target and TJ Maxx- you have no idea! We do have a version of Target and TJ Maxx here but it is just not the same. You can’t compare to the amazingness that is our Target in the US or the absolute ecstasy that is Amazon Prime. I read Amazon is coming to Australia in 2018 so if that happens I may cry out of pure happiness. Shopping has been an adjustment for me for sure- I am having to relearn where to go for what I need. We are also living in a small coastal town, not very close to a major city, so when you’re trying to buy EVERYTHING for a house and don’t have many store options around (and you’re super picky) it can be frustrating. We’ve taken a few trips up to the Gold Coast which has 1000x the places to choose from. It’s come in handy when I can’t find what I am looking for around here, but it’s an hour away. For example, I looked everywhere for the perfect sectional couch- I had this idea in my mind for what I wanted but I could not find it. If we were going to shell out some decent cash for this piece of furniture I wanted it to be right. We ended up finding it, in the Gold Coast, and since they don’t deliver down here we have to make the trek all the way up even further to their warehouse in Brisbane to get it. Not convenient, but in the end it’ll be worth it. We actually pick it up tomorrow, AHHHHHH, so goodbye camping chairs finally. I realize this might be completely petty of me to be frustrated by shopping choices, but after living in Atlanta for so many years, with almost anything I could need/want easily accessible, it’s been an adjustment for sure!

Starting Completely from Scratch

Usually when you move your belongings might be unorganized in your new place for a while, but at least you HAVE stuff. You know, things to eat off of, places to sit, a bed. This past month we’d bought everything from appliances to plates, to a bed and clothes hangers- all the way down to the salt and pepper. I will say I feel extremely fortunate because of Stephen we are in a position where it hasn’t been a financial strain, but you’d be surprised how fast the home budget disappears. After all the shopping we’ve done the house still feels empty to me, and for someone who is extremely visual it’s not so easy. My surroundings really affect me- I am distracted by the blank walls, the empty rooms, and have ideas swirling around in my head constantly I can’t do anything about yet. If you saw my last apartment you know I like stuff around me, knick knacks and art makes me feel at home. But I am learning to be more patient and let them come together over time. I think the addition of the couch tomorrow will make a huge impact and let me settle down a bit. Also our shipment from the US containing artwork and more personal things for house arrived in Sydney by boat and should be coming to us next month- yay!

BEACH BEACH BEACH!

Some people are mountain people, some are city people, some are beach people. I’m probably a little combination, but coastal living is so ingrained in my being and who I am. Living near the ocean is something I’ve been wanting and dreaming of for as long as I can remember, and now it’s a reality. And not those beaches where it’s literally just sand and then condo, condo, condo- yea they’re nice sometimes but that’s not the environment I wanted (sorry Destin and PCB). Goodbye annoying spring breakers, frat guys and too many families crowding up the beach! No offense to the families but spring breakers and frat guys, get your shit together and act right.

Here in Australia and in particular our area, the beaches are private, expansive, clean, natural and peaceful. I’m usually at the beach a few times a week- either for a midday run/break from work or for a walk with Stephen when he comes from work. Last week after a busy day of errands we packed 2 beers, left the shoes at home and just sat on the beach for a drink, admiring the water and thinking how thankful we are to have this so close to home.

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination, and bring eternal joy to the soul.”
— Robert Wyland, marine life artist

Working 100% Remotely at Last

Back in Atlanta many mornings consisted of dreading the alarm, rushing around getting ready for the day, sitting in my car for 45 minutes, office for 8 hours, car for another 45 minutes, then cramming in errands and more work at home just to hopefully enjoy a little bit of down time before doing it all over again. Even though I was working remotely while traveling around Europe, when I returned it was back to the in-office grind on a regular basis. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted, I had taken strategic steps away from it but then circled back in order to make larger dents in my debt payoff. It was worth it, but I was so ready for the lifestyle change.

These days I am typically up by 6:30am for a coffee, then open my laptop to begin work around 7am. The morning is prime time to talk to my US clients because of the time difference so often I have a call or two first thing in the morning, then the day’s schedule is up to me. Despite the distractions of our empty house just waiting for a makeover I’ve found I am much more productive working outside of the office. No more people popping in for little things and interrupting my thought process- I feel I can actually FINISH things faster and be more efficient. Depending on my mood I’ll work from the dining table, my office or sit out on the front balcony like I am doing right now. I love having the freedom to work when and where I want, to take breaks when needed, and to be able to do errands during the day to places that are only open until 5pm. It feels great, and is definitely the type of lifestyle I have been after for a while now. My office, like much of the house, is still pretty sparse, but I have plans for a big collage inspiration wall and my prized Apple monitor should be arriving from the US next month.

New Beginnings and More to Come

The other day my mom cracked me up on the phone- she said “so what else is new besides, you know, your entire life”. Shes right, it’s literally like stepping into a new life (one that includes no dryer and me hanging all of our laundry on the clothes line outside, but that’s another story). I hope you’ve enjoyed a little look into this new life in Australia, and I can’t wait to share so much more! A few things I have planned coming up are a home tour, DIY projects around the house, a little closer look into relationships, and how you can ditch the “norms” of society and go after what you really want in life too.

Stay tuned, stay positive, and for God’s sake have a glass of wine, you deserve it.

For a more regular, behind the scenes look make sure to follow Sauvignon Blue on Instagram!

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A Peaceful Getaway in La Cala del Moral

I loved living in Barcelona, Spain for a month. The city is vibrant, active, eclectic and fun. There are things happening at all hours… I distinctly remember a group of people walking down my street at 5am drunk shouting songs while the sun was coming up. But I am not going to lie, after a few weeks I was ready for a little peaceful break from the busy activity of the city.  Before meeting Stephen in France I had a week break to go wherever I wanted, and after researching what would work logistically while still being affordable, I decided to stay in southern Spain, just outside of Málaga in a place called La Cala del Moral.

The picture below is the view from my bedroom, and is the reason why I chose this location. I knew I was going to be working a lot to get ready for taking a week off with my boyfriend, and what better way to buckle down and get to work than with this gorgeous view on top of the hill.

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After settling into my airbnb in La Cala del Moral I took a walk down to explore the beach. This was no ordinary beach, what I discovered were these beautiful cliffside walking paths that almost made you feel like you were on the edge of the world. Where all you could see at certain points was bright blue crystal clear ocean water.SauvignonBlue-Malaga-15 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-16 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-18 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-20 SauvignonBlue-Malaga-21

Something really unique about La Cala del Moral is this path that goes not only along the edge of the cliffs but through the land into tunnels. These tunnels used to be a railroad where the train would pass through the city. Now it’s a walking path where you can find people running, biking, or just strolling along with their friends and dogs. The tunnels take you from one beach to the other, with many opportunities to detour and enjoy those breathtaking ocean views.

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It was such a wonderful break from a busy city. I would work for hours at home enjoying the view, then take breaks to walk down to the water and take in some vitamin D. I will say staying on top of the hill overlooking the town did come with a price– the steep walk back home from the water! It was definitely a workout just getting home each day from the beach, but I welcomed the exercise to help me stay in shape.

During this week I made sure to also get into the main city of Málaga. Check back for the next post where I’ll share with you beautiful sights of Málaga, street art discoveries, and the best view in the city.

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Balancing Work y La Playa

The day after arriving in Barcelona it was time for me to get back to keeping up with work. I’ve been asked a lot by people I’ve met out here if I’m here for work or pleasure, and I always answer with both. Do I have to be in Spain for work? No. Am I on vacation? Not exactly. I’ve had to find a balance between wanting to explore the city all day and making myself stay put to get my work hours in. It definitely makes it easier that there is so much to do work wise and my travels depend on getting it done, but there are definitely those times where I look out the window from my apartment on a beautiful sunny day and just want to close my computer for the rest of the day and go to the beach.

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I found in the early mornings or later evenings (when the sun isn’t directly in my eyes and on my screen!) our little patio is the perfect spot to enjoy the amazing weather while still knocking out some projects on our apartment’s wifi. It’s definitely necessary to switch up your environment when you’re working from home. When you’re not surrounded by coworkers in a regular office environment sometimes the change of scenery helps stimulate your mind and you can get more accomplished.

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Another routine I have started while working remotely out here in Barcelona is my midday break. Usually I throw on a pair of sneakers for a run, but other times just a casual pair of sandals for a walk around the neighborhood. With the time difference between here and Atlanta, GA I can usually get back from my afternoon explorations by the time everyone else over there is just getting to work- perfect timing. This has helped me break up the day while still feeling like I’m taking in more and more of the city each day.  And with SO many beautiful places to still explore there is always more to see.
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Once the weekend came I was ready to treat it like a true weekend. Now I did still open my computer for a few hours of work here and there, mainly just to make up some time  from earlier in the week during my travels. On Saturday despite the cloudy skies I made my way down to Port Olímpic, right next to Barceloneta Beach. Thankfully once I got there after 2 metro rides the clouds had moved past the beach and I still was able to get a few hours of sun in.

On Sunday I went to Basílica Santa Maria del Mar, what a beautiful interior of a church. I have a thing for cathedrals, they always make it to my must-see list when visiting a city. The architecture, soaring ceilings, stained glass and attention to detail is so beautiful. From there I took a walk back down to… you guessed it… the beach. 🙂 I can’t help it, I am in love with the ocean and needed to take full advantage of now living so close to it. Although my neighborhood in Barcelona is not right near the water, a nice long walk or a quick metro ride gets me there in no time. After another full day enjoying the sun it was time to wind down, get some tapas and prepare to get back to work.

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Going Solo for New Years

Let’s face it… New Years Eve when you’re single is always a gamble. When you’re with someone it’s always exciting to figure out your plans for the big night. It doesn’t matter if you end up with a group of friends at a party or just cozying up on the couch because all that really matters is you’ll be sharing that midnight kiss and starting a new year together. Since I was 16 I spent almost every NYE that way (long term relationship kinda girl right here!), and it’s my favorite way to spend the holiday.

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Fast forward to this year and I found myself in a little dilemma. Not going to lie, I enjoy being single! The total freedom to do what I want when I want is great, and at times I feel almost too busy to handle a relationship lately. BUT unless you have a group of single friends, NYE can sometimes leave you feeling like the 3rd, 5th, 7th or even 11th wheel. So this year I found myself trying to figure out how I really wanted to spend the new year.

After debating between a few different options around town I somehow ended up browsing some rental units on Airbnb (best travel lodging website ever!). I came across this cute little oceanfront condo in Florida, not too far of a drive from ATL. AND for being oceanfront it was a great deal, so 30 minutes later I booked it. My NYE went from potential party time to packing my suitcase and cleaning my apartment but it was ALL worth it! Not to mention I totally dodged the post NYE hangover. I was going to be spending the first few days of 2016 relaxing, reflecting, cooking delicious food, and enjoying a few glasses of wine all with a full view of the ocean. Not too bad aye?

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Now as far as New Year resolutions I am not a big stickler. I enjoy writing some down, goals are ALWAYS a good thing to have in life! But I am also very aware life doesn’t stick to a year timetable… you have to go with the flow of know when to make things really happen and when to be patient. After arriving in Florida this afternoon I sat on my balcony overlooking the endless blue water and reflected on the happenings of 2015 and my visions for 2016. Check back for the next blog post of last year’s lows/highs and future goals!

Costa Rica, Aren’t You Pretty

On Thursday December 10th, I arrived at the San Jose Airport in Costa Rica to begin my Central American adventure with an amazing travel group for young adults called Under30Experiences. This was my first group trip with total strangers and I absolutely loved it! Others came with friends or significant others, but just like the other half of the group I was set on doing this completely solo. I think when you go alone to something like this you’re more likely to step outside your comfort zone a little and get to know others. Not only was I looking forward to experiencing an amazing new country, but also connecting with people from all different places and backgrounds.

We introduced ourselves outside the airport, packed up the van, and headed out to our first stop of the day- cocolocos and crocodiles!
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Something I liked about Costa Rica right away was all the little random shops on the side of the road, especially the ones serving coco locos ;-). I’m slightly addicted to coconut water already, so getting to drink right out of the coconut itself and get a little rum buzz while doing so was a great way to start the trip.

Coco locos in hand we walked just down the road to the Tarcoles Bridge to checkout some huge crocodiles and take in our first out-of-van views of the area.
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Next stop was Playa Hermosa, whose name literally means “Beautiful Beach”. The black sands of Playa Hermosa were so unique and almost made the ocean waves and sunsetting sky pop more than usual. To say we enjoyed a “pretty” sunset would be an understatement, it was absolutely gorgeous. SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-5 SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-7 SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-8 SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-9

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After watching the colors turn from bright blues to warm orange and pink we continued taking in the view over dinner at Bowie’s Point. Another benefit of traveling with Under30Experiences was all of our dinners were included in what we already paid for the trip! This made things even easier for all of us travelers, and I enjoyed my first taste of Costa Rica with a Pilsen beer and Tuna Poki. Perfectly ripe avocado pieces mixed with super fresh local tuna over rice, it’s making me hungry just thinking about that dinner!SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-12 SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-13

The group then packed back in our van and drove through Quepos towards Manuel Antonio to our home for the next few days. After settling into our rooms a few of us grabbed a bottle of wine and enjoyed a glass and conversation with our toes in the pool.

Next Up: Day 2 of hiking, monkeys, beaches and ladies night, stay tuned!

Costa Rican Countdown

Today marks my 7 day countdown until I’ll be exploring beautiful Costa Rica! People have been asking me, “who are you going with?” every time I bring up my trip, and they’re typically surprised when I say, “myself”. Although I do love a good solo vaca any day, I technically am not actually going totally alone… just with a group of total strangers.

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I’m excited to go on my first adventure with a group called Under30Experiences, a travel group for young adults & young professionals. One of my biggest roadblocks with international traveling is having someone to go with! Apparently not everyone is up for taking the time away for getaways like this. Being a single lady myself I’d prefer the safety and companionship of having someone with me for those farther away destinations. Under30Experiences makes this happen by pairing you with a group of people to share the experience with and connect with; plus they take care of most of the trip details to make everything easy and stress-free.

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After holding myself back from signing up for Bali or Iceland (the ones I REALLY wanted!) I decided to dip my toes in by signing up for the Starter Costa Rica trip. After all, this girl’s still on a budget and can’t go totally crazy here! I’ll be meeting up with people from all over the continent at the San Jose airport, where we’ll then head to Playa Hermosa, Manuel Antonio National Park and Quepos.

Our 5 days in Costa Rica will include ocean sunsets, hikes in the rainforest, iguanas, monkeys, local food, drinks with new friends and clear blue Pacific water. Plus I have a few extras in mind like zip lining and boat rides ;-).

Check back in to see photos from this solo/not solo adventure! 7 days and counting.

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Bare Feet & Rosé in Venice

First of all… thats not Venice, Italy. It’s Venice Beach, CA. I wish though!

Earlier this month I packed up my bags and headed to SoCal for a long weekend away. I have this habit of periodically browsing plane ticket prices and came across a deal I just could resist. $178 for roundtrip/nonstop ATL to LAX, how could I NOT jump on that?! I am fortunate enough to have some amazing friends to see out on the west coast, so I figured why not take myself away to my favorite part of the country. I packed up my very organized bag (benefits of working for a organizational travel accessories brand!) and headed out to those beautiful blue ocean waves.

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I started my trip out by heading to Venice Beach for the afternoon. After walking the pier I spent the rest of my time  enjoying the views, grabbing a little rosé love, and exploring the scenery. A perfect way to begin the trip!

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Laguna Lovin’ & Cali Goodbyes…. For Now

August 25, 2014– The last full day of my newly single lady trip out to the west coast and I wanted to make the most of it! I was spending the day with my aunt… okay technically she isn’t my aunt at all, but to keep it simple I’m going to go with that. Aunt, friend, whatever… she’s someone who’s known me since birth.

I had to also drop my rental car off that morning so she met me at the airport. I was so sad to give back my favorite travel companion for the past week. Our daily trips to In-N-Out, the drive up the coast through Long Beach to Santa Barbara, cruising along the California hills blasting music, and all the while pretending it was mine. It was the perfect ride for this trip, and I was sad to turn in the keys! I may or may not have done some research about purchasing one of these guys when I returned home, but that’s as far as that idea went… for now.

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After dropping off the car we headed to Laguna Beach for the day. Back in high school when the reality show Laguna Beach was on TV, I remember my mom commenting on who stupid all their annoying drama was (agreed), but she always liked watching the TV show intro. Apparently the beach clips reminded her of growing up and her regular trips with friends from Long Beach to Laguna. She would tell me how she recognized the location shots and how she loved going there all the time as a teenager. I was excited to visit this gorgeous place for the first time, but also to visit another city that is indirectly tied to my past.

We parked the car and decided to start the day by taking a long walk along the water, taking in the endless views along the way. I love the rocky coast of Laguna and all the surrounding foliage. It feels much more natural than other nearby beaches I’d been to over the past few days.

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SauvignonBlue-LagunaBeach-4After our oceanside stroll we stopped for some super fresh quac and cosmos, still with that beautiful beach view. Over the next hour we sipped cocktails and talked about life, relationships, and future goals. I love how the older you get the less age matters in personal relationships. There I was, sitting with someone who is the same age as my parents and whose son is also my age, relating to each other and sharing stories and feelings as friends more than anything else. There were lots of laughs, a few tears, but most of all we cherished that time spent together in such a beautiful place. Over the next few hours we moseyed around through the streets, stopped in art galleries and cute little crafty stores, and continued to enjoy the day.

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A few hours later we found ourselves at this beachfront restaurant right as the sun was setting. We decided to grab another drink and some dinner to watch the sun go down, making it the perfect ending to not only an incredible day, but I week I will never forget.

As I watched the sky and its reflection on the water change over time, I thought about the journey I went through that week and the time leading up to it. What began as kind an escape from the reality of a recent sudden break-up had turned into a little bit of self discovery, and got me so excited for all the new possibilities in front of me. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the negative/sad feelings when life throws you curve balls and doesn’t take the direction you planned. I’ve heard stories from some of my girlfriends about just crying for weeks, even months after a breakup, not being about to see the bright side or move on for a long time. I am very thankful to know things always get better… and a lot of the time turn out better than you could have ever planned yourself.  With the bad comes something awesome around the corner, and sometimes you have to create that awesome for yourself instead of waiting around for it.

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