Mara Old City - EDITS-0044.jpg

meet Mara

Do you ever just need to get away and unplug for a little bit? Steven and I desperately needed time away. The combination of work (retail 4th quarter = me barely alive), life, and the holidays made for an exhausting concoction. Our first anniversary was December 31st - we went out to dinner to celebrate, but we really needed to do a weekend trip. Side note: we still haven't been on a honeymoon. We need to get on that!


We are extremely blessed in that Knoxville, our home, is close to some amazing cities. We can get to a lot in a day's drive - Nashville, Charlotte, Charleston, Atlanta, etc. We visit Nashville often, so we wanted to go somewhere a little more new and special. We love every visit we have in ATL, so we decided to book a spot and make a fun weekend of it. I'm SO glad we did. We both had the best time, at amazing food, and feel so refreshed. I asked y'all on Instagram if you'd want to see a recap of our trip, and you said yes! So I'm going to tell y'all everything we did, where we stayed, and what we ate in Atlanta. I'm also going to include the list of restaurant suggestions you all gave us - thank you!!!


Where We Stayed

Steven and I both wanted to stay somewhere we wouldn't normally and decided to splurge a little. I consider myself the travel deal queen and was able to find a great rate at the Ritz-Carlton downtown. I can't say enough good things about our stay here. The staff was amazing - they greeted us with champagne at check-in and took care of every detail we needed. We didn't speak with one staff member that wasn't friendly or helpful. The hotel has been completely renovated and it is gorgeous. Our room was stunning down to every detail. Some highlights of our room that I loved: the heated tiled floors in the bathroom, the bathroom mirror that had 360 studio lighting (my makeup has never looked better), the in-room Nespresso, and the views of Atlanta. We both agreed we are 100% going to stay here again in the future.


In our hotel package I found (I'm telling you, deal queen), we had breakfast both mornings at their restaurant, AG. Y'all....so worth it!!! On Sunday, they had a breakfast buffet that was out of this world. Any breakfast food you can think of was available, as well as a chef station for omelettes. This was NOT a normal hotel breakfast. The next morning, I ordered banana pudding french toast (I'm drooling now) and Steven ordered their breakfast sandwich. I can't tell you guys how amazing this food was - just trust me! What I'm saying is, if you stay at the Ritz in Atlanta, go to breakfast at AG. I'm sure that their dinner is equally as amazing.






Where We Ate

You all were amazing and sent SO MANY great recommendations our way!! I'll include a full list so you can use it, too. It was pouring rain the first night we were there, so we wanted to go somewhere we could walk around after. A few of you suggested Krog Street Market, so that's where we went! We ate at Superica for dinner and holy yum. This is a bold statement, but they had the best chips and salsa I've ever had! It's a fun Mexican restaurant with delicious margaritas and an awesome menu. Steven and I both ordered enchiladas, but everything looked so good. Definitely get their queso - to die for!! After, we walked around the market and Steven got a beer at the bar inside (they have sooo many beers on draft, it's nuts) and I got Jeni's ice cream. If you've never had Jeni's, please try it soon! It's so good.


The next day, we had breakfast at our hotel (which I'm not sure if I've made clear yet, but it was bomb) and then headed out. For lunch, we ended up at Ponce City Market and walked around and checked out the menus at all of the food options. We decided to try WH Stiles Fish Camp and it was delicious! We split a cup of lobster bisque and I got the crab cake, while Steven got the shrimp po boy. We are seafood lovers, and both agreed that it was very high quality and so good. Side note: their french fries were also so dang good.


For dinner, we made reservations at La Tavola (I definitely recommend making a reservation.) I use Open Table for almost all of my restaurant reservations and it's a great source for restaurants, too! I truly cannot say enough good things about this spot. It's located on Virginia Avenue in the cutest little area. The service was beyond and made the experience for us. Our server, Mary Katherine, was amazing. If you go, ask for her! She helped us through the menu and made suggestions based off of what we told her we normally liked and she was spot on with her suggestions. We ordered a bottle of wine based on her suggestion that paired perfectly with our meal. We split the caesar salad as an appetizer, I ordered the Tagliolini which was a mushroom ragu, and Steven ordered Cappellacci en Brodo which is difficult to describe but was incredible. For dessert, we ordered Boccone Dolce. If you're looking for delicious Italian food, incredible service, and a perfect spot for date night then this is the place for you!


For lunch the next day (our last day), we had to visit our favorite...Shake Shack! I feel so silly constantly suggesting Shake Shack, but y'all it really is our favorite. We can't get enough!




What We Did

Atlanta is full of activities for everyone in the family! We never ran out of things to do or see. I reallllly wanted to go the Georgia Aquarium - I'm a sucker for ocean creatures and think they are fascinating. I'm so glad that we went - it was beautiful and so cool to see animals like whale sharks, beluga whales, and manta rays up close. It's incredible! I definitely suggest choosing a week day to visit - we went on a Sunday and it was extremely crowded. I still loved it though! It's a must visit if you have kids.


We loved both trips to the open air markets on Krog Street and Ponce City. It was perfect for the weather (rain one day and freezing the next) because we could stay inside and still feel like we were exploring. The dining and shopping options are great and for you beer lovers, both markets have bars with insane taps and selection. Steven was a happy dude!


This is not exclusive to Atlanta, but we also went to TopGolf! I had never been, but we both wanted to do something fun after dinner and this seemed like the perfect idea. Y'all.....I LOVED IT! If you've never been, definitely go! I didn't think I'd be a fan, but I think I had more fun than Steven. They also had a great bar menu with cocktails and food.


Shopping. Enough Said. Atlanta has great shopping for every budget. I personally love going to Phipps Plaza (even though 99% of it is our of my price range), but Buckhead is definitely the spot for shopping if you're in the market for something special.


I'm so sad our trip is over, but I can't wait to get back to Atlanta soon to try more of y'alls recommendations and explore the city more!






Recommendations from all of you:

Mary Mac's Tea Room, La Tavola, Ecco, Sotto Sotto, Alma Cocina, Donetto, The Lawrence, Henry's, The Nook, Einstein's, South City Kitchen, O-Ku, Ra, Fox Brother's BBQ, Taverna, Superica, Kevin Rathbun


Do you all like these travel recaps? Talk soon!


xo

Mara

Hey friends! I thought it would be fun to start a new series on the blog today called "The Best of" where I will highlight the best things I've tried in that category. I would be happy to do anything y'all want to see! Skincare, kitchen tools, foundation, basic tees, etc.


Today, we're going to cover one of my favorite clothing categories: leggings. Can we all agree that leggings are a God-send? I love that I can dress them up (but mostly dress them down) and they provide maximum comfort at all times. There are several things I look for when I'm shopping for a pair of black leggings:

-Not see through!

-Comfortable

-Holds up after multiple washes and drying

-Preferably available in "short length" or cut where the leggings don't bunch at my ankles

-High waisted


So here you go, the best leggings I've tried, loved, and would recommend to you!





Zella Leggings (all styles are great, but these are my favorite and it's the pair I'm wearing the picture above)

I am a HUGE fan of the way lululemon leggings and bottoms feel, but not a huge fan of the price. Zella is the most comparable option I've found. People rave about these leggings - and for good reason! I own the cropped version (linked) that hits right at my ankles and also the traditional yoga version that's ultra high-waisted. You can't go wrong with any style, and you can normally find them on sale and at a lower price point from Nordstrom Rack.


Spanx Leather Leggings

Everyone and their mother loves these, and you can group me into that, too. I'm obsessed. They suck you in, look sleek, and are comfortable. What more could you want? These have a little bit of a higher price tag, but are worth it. Plus, you can normally find them on sale from several retailers!


C9 Basic Leggings (Great price!)

LOVE THESE! I have several pairs and they have never failed me. You can find them in different lengths, but I prefer the 7/8 version. Perfect if you need something basic and comfortable at an affordable price. You can always find these on sale!


Old Navy

Old Navy has seriously stepped up their Activewear game and there's always a great sale! I love these basic black ones, but do yourself a favor and make a trip to Old Navy so you can try on more. You'll see what I mean! I was seriously blown away after I went in a few weeks ago. I grabbed several pairs and styles and couldn't believe how good each pair was.


Aerie (the softest pair I own!)

I felt these in store and didn't even think twice before shuffling through the stack for a medium. I need an entire body suit made out of this material and that will be what I wear the rest of my life. Wish I was kidding. But I'm not. I wear these during workouts, as pajamas, and running errands. So good!


A few things before you go:

-I wear a medium in all of these, except for the Spanx - I wear a small. I definitely could wear the medium, but prefer how the small sucks me in and still is flattering.

-All of these you can find on sale - keep your eye out!


Do you own any of these? What leggings do you absolutely swear by?!


Let me know what "Best of" you want to see next!


xo

Mara


Hey friends! My hair has been quite the struggle the last few years. I was born with tight ringlet curls, that turned straight in the 1st grade, went back to being curly after puberty, and now I'm got wavy hair. Along that journey, my super thick hair started to thin out in college due to stress and life, and now I'm learning how to take better care of my mane with the right products. So today, I want to share my current routine for taking care of my hair and tell you about some products that have totally changed the game for me.


First, I've started using THIS scalp mask from Kristin Ess. She makes my favorite affordable products. You can find her full line at Target. If you haven't already tried anything from her line, you should!


Next, is the step that has changed the game for me. THIS shampoo and THIS conditioner (I talked about them in the things I'm loving post, too) have completely changed my hair for the better. After I cut about a foot off my hair - yep you read that right - I wanted to make sure I kept my hair as healthy as possible. I did a lot of research and ultimately chose to go with this combo. I wash my hair 1-2 times a week and every single time I do, I still can't believe how soft and healthy my hair feels! In the shower, I always brush through my hair with a wide tooth comb, like THIS one, to make sure that there isn't a ton of product build up and to get out every last tangle.


After I shower, I use THIS heat protection spray/leave in conditioner and THIS hair oil. I like using a heat protectant while my hair is still wet so that I can use a dryer and it doesn't leave a weird film on my hair.


I always brush out my hair with a Wet Brush because it is simply the best. I tend to always let my hair air dry, but if I decide to blow dry it, I add in THIS thickening cream to help add texture to my hair. I also like to use a ceramic brush like THIS to add volume to my roots and get that "blow out" affect. This is only if I'm not feeling lazy, lol.


Once my hair is dry, I section it out and will style. I like to use T3 heating tools (yes, they are worth the hype!) I use the straightener and the curling iron. I like to use both to achieve different types of curls. If I want more volume and something more "put together," I use the traditional iron. If I want more beachy waves and an undone look, I create waves with my flat iron.


After I style my hair, I normally run my fingers through my hair to loosen it up and undo any tight curls. If I need to, I'll give a light mist of hairspray. I've been using THIS Kristin Ess one lately and loving it. If I want to add some extra volume, I'll section out my hair and add a bit of THIS to the roots. Warning - a little goes a long way and if you don't hold it far enough away, it can make your hair feel crunchy. It takes some learning. But, it's cool because you can adjust the amount of volume you want by turning the nozzle.


During the summer, I also enjoy wearing my hair natural and not adding any heat. When I do, I use THIS wave spray that helps my natural curls come to life and makes them look extra beachy. I've tried every product you can think of for curls/waves and it's definitely my favorite.


Like I mentioned earlier, I only wash my hair 1-2 times a week. I find that it works better for my hair, keeps it healthier, and it's a lot less work. I have a few dry shampoos that I think work best. THIS one is my all time favorite, but it's definitely a splurge. I tend to buy the travel size and use it sparingly on days where my hair has extra oil. THIS one is my constant repurchase. It works so, so well and is my go to throughout the week for freshening things up and adding some life back to my hair. THIS one is a great affordable option. If you're a brunette like me, you can also get it in the "dark" spray version. I don't have any issues with any of these dry shampoos leaving residue or white streaks in my hair!


And that my friends, covers every single product I use! If there's something you want to know more about, shoot me a question and I'll be happy to answer. Let me know if you use any of these products and if you enjoy them.


I hope y'all have a great rest of your day!


xo

Mara

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