Exploring the National AIDS Memorial

While I was visiting San Francisco, I took a walk through Golden Gate Park and as chance would have it I found the National AIDS Memorial. It was a life changing happenstance that opened my eyes to not only the 1980’s AIDS epidemic in America (most notably San Francisco), but also around the world.  It was established in 1996 to serve as a place of remembrance and healing.  The grove is for those who have been both directly and indirectly touched by AIDS.  I was immediately drawn to the substantial stone engraved “National AIDS Memorial.”  So, I let my curiosity take over and I followed the winding path down to the Circle of Friends.

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The Circle of Friends is a granite circle located at the bottom of the descending path with the inscription of over 2,200 names. These are the people who have lost their battle with AIDS and their memory lives on here at the grove.  There are flowers which have been delicately placed in the middle of the circle.  It is a solemn, yet beautiful place to meditate.  I sat for a while on a nearby bench and my heart was happy that there was this peaceful place to reflect on the lives lost.  It is rarely crowded here and one can often find him or herself alone to ponder and reflect.

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There are a plethora of trees and plants which envelope the grove creating a sense of privacy. Take a moment to listen to the waterfall and escape for a bit.  Run your hands along the inscriptions and quietly read the names; try to think of their lives.  Read the messages of support and courage on engraved stones.  Stroll through the rhododendrons and among the redwoods.  The grove has ten acres of landscaped beauty to walk through, so take your time.  Thanks to the tireless work of many volunteers, the grove is well-maintained and aesthetically-pleasing.  Many of the quotes on the stones are so profound, such as this one, “They question each other.  The young, the golden-hearted of the world that they were robbed of in their quiet paradise.”

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I commend San Francisco for creating an inviting, peaceful, and sacred place to honor their memory.  After 2017, names can no longer be added to the Circle of Friends due to a lack of space; however, there is room for forty more names (visit their website for details.) More information regarding The National AIDS Memorial Grove and the Circle of Friends can be found on their website.  It is also free of charge to visit the memorial.  Simply go to gain a deeper appreciation of the struggles of both the victims and their families and friends.  Use the opportunity to teach your children or friends more about it!  Take a flower and have a peaceful visit.

422044_4822338002325_1728347302_nThank you reading this post.  I hope you enjoyed it and look for subsequent posts that I’ll share in the near future regarding this topic.  If you know someone who has lost his or her battle with AIDS, please feel free to share the story in the comments.  If you want to share your memories of the San Francisco 1980’s AIDS epidemic, I would love to hear about it!  Share anything you wish!  The National AIDS Memorial Grove is always seeking volunteers if you live in the San Francisco area and are interested.  They also are always accepting stories about loved ones whose names are engraved at The Circle of Friends so we learn more about their lives.

XOXO,

Victoria

10 Pippa Middleton Fashion Steals

She is sporty, classy, and fashionable. She’s the younger sister of Kate Middleton and her style is just as fashion-forward as the Duchess.  Pippa wears a variety of classic pieces that can be worn again and again.  Her style is elegant, yet comfortable, which is why she sparks fashion trends around the globe.  I personally love her style, because she often wears figure flattering dresses and flats or wedges.  Many brands she enjoys are quite affordable such as Zara, H&M, and TopShop.  I have included a list of ten items that are like those (some are the same brand) worn by Pippa Middleton.  The pieces can be worn alone or mix and match with other pieces that I have listed!  Add some of this posh Londoner’s style to your wardrobe at a more affordable price.

  1. Pippa wore these Castañer espadrilles on her recent Australia honeymoon.

    Castañer ‘Carina’ Black Canvas Wedge Espadrilles ($90)

  2. She often wears light wash denim during the summer months.

    Levi’s 710 ‘Mirror Pond’ Skinny Jeans ($45)

  3. Both sisters love wrap dresses and red!

    Michael Kors Short Sleeve Maxi Wrap Dress ($125)

  4. The sisters have both sported coral ankle length pants.

    Old Navy Pixie Ankle ‘Coral Tropics’ Pants ($25)

  5. Pippa adores her skinny white jeans!

    Two by Vince Camuto White Skinny Jeans ($69)

  6. She often wears a denim jacket with summer dresses.

    Levi’s Boyfriend Trucker ‘Sunshine Indigo’ Jacket ($69)

  7. She loves a simple white lacey dress.

    Eliza J Bell Sleeve Fit & Flare Dress ($158)

  8. She often wears nude wedges with her summer outfits.

    Jessica Simpson ‘Sampson’ Wedge Pumps ($69)

  9. She has been spotted many times with her Modalu handbag.

    Modalu ‘Pippa’ Large Grab Tan Purse ($220)

  10. She pairs her red flats with a red handbag. So chic!

    Audrey Brooke Winny Ballet Flats ($49)

Let me know what you think of Pippa Middleton’s fashion!  What pieces are a must for you during the summer?  Comment, like and/or subscribe if you enjoyed reading this post.

XOXO,

 

Victoria

The San Francisco Vacation Survival Guide

When I travelled to San Francisco for the first time I packed elegant dresses, high heels, and cumbersome jewelry. You’re probably amused by this if you’re a San Fran native or have already vacationed there.  Half-way into day one of my trip I was hurting, uncomfortable, and freezing cold.  My cluelessness of northern California weather finally took a toll and made my vacation wholly unpleasant.  So, let my experience be a teacher and do not pack as if you are going to a cocktail party.  While I was there I ended up at Old Navy, Niketown, and Walgreens to remedy my poor packing choices.  I spent money on a fleece jacket, jeans, sneakers, and Advil.  This money would have been better spent enjoying my vacation.  Fear not, I’m here to help you tackle San Francisco’s “hills that kill” and cool weather.  I’ll spare you the pain and agony I went through with this list of top ten items to conquer your California vacay.

1.  Bring along a lightweight jacket or coat.

Patagonia ‘Torrentshell’ Women’s Jacket ($129)

Patagonia Coat

2.  Wear lightweight and comfy sneakers on days with lots of walking.

New Balance ‘Fresh Foam Cruz’ Sneakers ($80)

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3.  Pack a pair of stylish jeans to pair with any top.

AG Adriano Goldschmied ‘The Middi Ankle’ Iconic Skinny Jeans ($198)

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4.  A comfy and trendy scarf is essential.

Kate Spade ‘Souk’ Tassel Scarf ($108)

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5.  Pain relief is always in fashion.

Advil Liqui-Gels ($4.50)

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6.  Pack a light sweater/sweatshirt for cool mornings and nights.

Topshop Embroidered Flower Sweatshirt ($55)

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7.  Use a purse that is backpack style or crossover.

Madewell ‘Transport’ Leather Rucksack ($178)

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8.  Wear a warm hat or beanie to keep out the wind.

Canada Goose Slouchy Basketweave Beanie ($95)

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9.  Pack black leggings for versatility and comfort.

Spanx ‘Essential’ Very Black Leggings ($98)

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10.  Let flats be your dressy shoes.

Børn ‘Kharen’ Wraparound Lace Flats ($64)

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Thank you all so much for reading my guide. I truly hope it was helpful for you.  San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind destination with beautiful and unique neighborhoods.  What would you pack for San Francisco? What are your favorite comfy fashion brands? Comment below!

 

XOXO,

 

Victoria

Top 10 Restaurants in Charleston, S.C.

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Hello lovelies! This is a list of my favorite top ten restaurants in Charleston.  I have eaten at each one and thoroughly enjoyed them!  I hope on your next trip to South Carolina’s low country you will try a few.  I’ve listed several breakfast/brunch places so you can enjoy a good meal before walking the pretty streets; admiring the architecture; and playing at Folly Beach.  There are several exquisite dinner restaurants listed as well, so you can retire from your long day of sightseeing with a delicious meal and exotic cocktail.

 Husk- ($$$) 76 Queen St.

  • Vegetarian options
  • Bruch available (Friday & Saturday)
  • Centrally located
  • Beautiful atmosphere & setting
  • Shrimp & grits was delicious!
  • Located inside a restored Victorian-era home

FIG- ($$$$) 232 Meeting St.

  • Excellent appetizers (esp. ricotta gnocchi)
  • Gluten-free options
  • Delicious dessert (try the panna cotta!)
  • Full bar
  • Exceptional dinner (try the fish stew)
  • Helpful staff

Queen Street Grocery & Café– ($$) 133 Queen St.

  • Reasonable prices
  • Sidewalk seating
  • Excellent breakfast crepes (try the Archdale)
  • Delicious hot breakfast sandwiches
  • Lots of healthy lunch options
  • Tasty smoothies!
  • Open everyday!

Poogan’s Porch– ($$$) 72 Queen St

  • Delectable brunch options
  • Delicious appetizers (try the pimento cheese fritters)
  • Incredible wine & champagne list!
  • Variety of dinners (try the crab cakes)
  • Locally grown and sourced food
  • Featured in Saveur magazine

Grill 225– ($$$$) 225 East Bay St.

  • Award winning steakhouse
  • Excellent filet mignon
  • Plethora of wines & champagne
  • Delicious desserts (try the chocolate mousse cake)
  • Delectable seafood
  • Gluten-free options
  • Helpful & friendly staff

Hominy Grill– ($$) 207 Rutledge St.

  • Open Daily (Brunch on weekends)
  • Reasonably priced
  • Delicious omelettes
  • Tasty breakfast (try the “Charleston Nasty”)
  • Soups and sandwiches
  • Delectable catfish dishes
  • Wholesome vegetable plates
  • Full Bar

Breizh Pan Crepes– ($) 39 George St.

  • Authentic French crepes
  • Sweet & savory crepes (try the La Phare)
  • Variety of omelettes
  • Affordable!
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Check out their French grocery goods!

Circa 1886- ($$$$) 149 Wentworth St. (At Wentworth Mansion)\

  • Vegetarian & vegan friendly
  • Gluten-free options
  • Romantic atmosphere
  • Upscale wines & champagnes
  • Craft beer & unique cocktails
  • Tasty appetizers (try the blue crab salad)
  • Remarkable entrees (try the sea bass)
  • Delectable desserts (try the peach crisp soufflé)

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit– ($) 476 King St.

  • All items $4 or less
  • Grab & go lunches
  • Featured in Food & Wine, Saveur

 

 

I hope some of these sparked your interest! Be sure to subscribe, follow, and comment if you enjoyed this post! What are your favorite Charleston restaurants?

XOXO,

Victoria

Exploring San Francisco’s Union Square

When I began planning my second trip to San Francisco I wanted to be near several neighborhoods, exceptional restaurants, and shopping.  I booked my trip through Expedia and got a great deal on a luxury hotel a half-block from Union Square in the Financial District.  Union Square is in walking distance to Chinatown and North Beach.  I recommend using the Bart station or cable cars to access other parts of the city or to avoid infamous hills.  Union Square is also a convenient area, because it’s near pharmacies and clothing shops should you need to make a quick purchase.  So, without further ado, here are my favorite places in the Union Square area.

I stayed at the Taj Campton Place.  Check travel sites for great deals on this hotel (I used Expedia).

  • 5 Star Hotelarchitecture-downtown-apartment-building-building
  • Blissfully comfortable bedding
  • 2 Star Michelin restaurant & bistro (delicious breakfast!)
  • Black Jaguar house car (ride in style!)
  • Roomy bathrooms
  • Free Wi-Fi

Café Madeleine has delicious coffee and pastries. I personally enjoyed the spinach and goat cheese quiche for a quick lunch.

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  • Fresh fruit
  • Delicious salads and paninis
  • Sidewalk seating
  • Variety of biscotti
  • Flavorful pastas
  • Plethora of cakes

 

Union Square is home to both affordable and high-end fashion shops.  Plus, the Macy’s is five stories tall!

  • Some of my favorite shops with reasonable prices:macys-05
    • Zara
    • Banana Republic
    • Ann Taylor LOFT
    • Kurt Geiger Shoes
    • Niketown
  • My favorite high-end shops:
    • Nordstrom (clearance section is fairly affordable)
    • Barneys
    • Saks Fifth Avenue
    • Ted Baker
    • Marc Jacobs

After a day of shopping and touring Union Square, I suggest having dinner at Hops & Hominy located on Tillman Place (a pedestrian alley off Grant Ave). Excellent Southern dishes and that’s coming from a Georgia girl.  Try the mac & cheese with bacon!

  • 21 American micro-brews on tap0c3df1a1300ae13c5f1a6c317695be05
  • Organic
  • Excellent fried chicken (free range)
  • Seafood options
  • Great variety of wines
  • Open Table winner, Diner’s Choice 2016

 

Another equally delicious restaurant is Scala’s Bistro on Powell St.  It’s mainly Italian cuisine with plenty of seafood options.  They also serve breakfast and lunch; I loved their poached eggs and corned beef hash.  It’s a bit pricey; however, you’re sure to enjoy it!

  • Excellent pizzas & pastasscalassf
  • Extensive wine list (over 60!)
  • Brunch menu
  • Lightfare menu
  • Helpful staff
  • Located inside the Sir Francis Drake hotel

 

 

If you enjoyed learning about San Francisco’s Union Square, then head over to my post about San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district.

XOXO,

Victoria

 

Top Shops to visit in Haight Ashbury

My mother is a child of the 60’s and hippie wannabe who introduced me to San Francisco’s groovy Haight Ashbury district.  It was home to both Janis Joplin and The Grateful Dead.  I visit the Haight every time I go to San Francisco to experience 1970’s nostalgia.  So pack your bell bottoms and put a flower in your hair.  This is a list of the top shops you must visit in this trippy neighborhood.

37327474_d4a28259_640.jpgThe Love of Ganesha ($)- 1573 Haight St.

If you want to take a mini-vacation to India without leaving home, then I suggest visiting this shop.  The staff are helpful and friendly, plus they have a spectacular meditation room!  There are a plethora of crystals, incenses, and Eastern-influenced items. Enjoy the fresh complimentary cucumber infused water!

tibetan-gift-corner.jpgTibetan Gift Corner ($$)- 1584 Haight St.

This shop is covered from top to bottom in Tibetan and Buddhism influenced items.  They have a large selection of silver jewelry, colorful cotton clothing, and small leather goods.  I purchased a pair of wooden faux gauge earrings here that I adore!  Lots of unique gift ideas at reasonable prices.

10295562_10202030110780317_8856143264481359858_oPiedmont Boutique ($$)- 1452 Haight St.

Known for its famous fishnet stocking clad legs; this shop is sure to be an entertaining visit.  They have a vast array of colorful items such as wigs, eye masks, and funky jewelry.  So whether you’re going to a costume party or dance club, this is one stop shopping for your outlandish fashion needs.  It’s also at the corner of the 1960’s hippie movement, Haight and Ashbury, so stop and take a picture!

sf-haight-00.jpgJohn Fluevog Shoes ($$$$)-1697 Haight St.

This shop has the  best selection of vintage inspired shoes, plus they are comfortable!  Many of the shoes have a unique heel and/or color pattern. I’m in love with the cute pumps, boots (especially those with button details) , and oxfords.  It is somewhat pricey; however, they are quality designer shoes.  Take a moment to admire the floral motif out front!

Heldover-Haight-Ashbury-vintage-retro-San-Francisco-shoppingHeld Over ($$)- 1543 Haight St.

This is my favorite vintage clothing shop in Haight Ashbury.  It has an exceptional selection of clothes, plus they are divided by each era!  You can shop styles ranging from the 1940s to 1990s.  Many of the clothes are made in the USA or Europe.  There is also a unique selection of authentic German dirndl dresses.

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Ambiance ($$$)- 1458 Haight St.

This shop has a beautiful selection of trendy and contemporary fashions.  They carry name brands such as BCBG, Joe’s Jeans, and Free People.  If you go upstairs there is a great selection of shoes as well.  I especially love the Fluff brand pin-up girl accessories.  They carry both affordable and high-end merchandise. Great variety and helpful staff make this shop a must see!

 

XOXO,

Victoria