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Lifestyle Travel

Turning 24 In Sonoma

I turned 24 on August 28.

Crazy, right?

Upon reflecting on this past year, a lot of growth and change has happened. Some of which was hard to deal with, but that’s life. I have felt really good lately and am excited to see what this year brings!

I knew I wanted to go to California to visit my brother and sister-in-law. I haven’t seen them since their wedding last October and was due for another trip! Every time I go to California, I fall more and more in love with it. There’s something about the mood it puts me in that is so satisfying. Wanting to utilize all the time possible during my 5 day trip, I tried to do and see as much as I could.

My read for the flight with Saturation II by Brockhampton on repeat

There were three things I had to do on this trip:

  1. Go wine tasting
  2. Get a tattoo
  3. Go hiking

I’m happy to report that I succeeded in these things and more!

 Day 1

I flew into Oakland, where my brother picked me up and we stopped to get some Thai food before driving into Sonoma. Prior to my flight I hadn’t slept in about 23 hours. Luckily, I can sleep on a plane with ease so I was able to get a few hours in. After settling in and being greeted with lots of kisses/jumping from my brother Dom, and sister-in-law, Jess’s, two lovely golden retrievers, it was time to make a plan for the night. Keeping it simple, we decided to go to one of their favorite spots, Rancho Maria. It’s a wine tasting room in the middle of Sonoma’s square (where a bunch of local shops and restaurants are located.) The wine maker, Sebastian, is super laid back and I got to pick some of the music for the room! A somewhat odd combination of Drake (of course), Missy Elliot, Cardi B, and Cozy Tapes 1 & 2 were played throughout the night. I would like to mention that I got Sebastian hip to Bodak Yellow. I even played it twice. Rancho Maria is known for their Zinfandel wines, and I must say it’s really good. After Rancho Maria, we hit up my *favorite* place, Whole Foods, to pick up items to BBQ with for dinner. Since I had spent a good portion of the day traveling, the night ended early for me as ya girl was tired!

Day 2

Waking up knowing I was in California was such an amazing feeling. Our second day consisted of exploring more of Sonoma and what this small town had to offer. We went back to the square, where we explored the multitude of shops. I stumbled upon one store, Love Sonoma, and knew my bank account would not be happy with me. It was the cutest, little store consisting of wall decor, prints, candles, books, clothes, and jewelry. A store like this was right up my alley! I picked up a few things that were local to Sonoma.

A visit to a local art gallery and another wine tasting room, Bennett Valley Cellars, took up the first part of the afternoon. Bennett Valley’s Tasting Room Manager, Liliana, was so sweet! I got to hear about her life in Italy before moving to the states. After a visit to the nail salon (#birthdaytings), the day continued with even more wine and shopping.

Once it came to dinnertime, I was excited to try out a place I found on Yelp, Taste of the Himalayas. From the reviews, the restaurant was pretty popular and a local favorite. The food was AMAZING and our waiter was super helpful in letting me know which dishes were vegan! We took home a bunch of leftovers because the food was so filling (we also did order 3 appetizers + entrees…so there’s that).

When I go back to visit, I’m definitely going here again!

Day 3

Sonoma is only about a 45 minute drive from San Francisco. I wanted to finally cross something off my bucket list and see the Golden Gate Bridge! We started the morning off, dogs in tow, trekking to the Marin Headlands area. The Headlands are on the peninsula that overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge and there are even a few trails to hike in the area. When we finally found a parking spot, I was in awe of the view! It was very foggy that morning and I couldn’t get the full view of the bridge, but was able to see a good portion of it. Due to one of the main trails being closed for maintenance, our hike was cut short, but nonetheless still a great time.

Needing some post-hiking food, fro-yo was obviously the best and healthiest choice (I was very hype about this.) We went to Pressed Juicery which is one of those places I’ve seen all over Instagram, and got one of their “freezes”— basically their version of fro-yo, but vegan.

After getting back into Sonoma, we chilled for a bit, and headed out to a winery (you already know that was gonna be in the plans for today). Dom and Jess are members of a handful of wineries in the area, and we decided to go to one of my favorites, Larson Family Winery. Last summer, I flew out to CA for Jess’ bridal shower and Larson was one the spots we went to. They have such a pretty outdoor area for tasting and a picnic-like setting. There’s even a bocce ball court that I low key dominated in during the bridal shower.

Day 4 (AKA 24TH BIRTHDAY LITUATION)

So I guess turning 24 means that I am now in my “mid-twenties.” This makes me feel old (ha). Waking up to birthday greetings from my people on the east coast was a nice way to start off the day. The embarrassing pictures of me posted mainly to Instagram and Snapchat from my closest friends kept me laughing and helped bring some of my nervousness down. I was excited yet nervous, because this year my gift to myself was a tattoo! My first one, in fact. I found a tattoo shop in Sonoma and talked to their owner about my idea a couple weeks prior to my trip. Dom and Jess kept me calm, as I filled out the paperwork and it set in that I was going to get tatted (so dramatic.) My tattoo was fairly simple. The latin phrase, deus ex machina, handwritten by me on the back of my arm. There’s a lot of meaning I attribute to this phrase, but to keep it short, it’s a reference to one of my favorite movies, Donnie Darko. Getting the tattoo done was definitely an experience. I kind of knew what to expect pain wise but still didn’t really know because I never had one done. I will say though, it was bearable. My brother joked that I kept making faces during the process (which took probably less than 5 minutes). Once I was bandaged up, we went to (you guessed it), more wineries!

Laughing through the pain

Fresh ink on the back of my right arm

The last winery I visited on this trip was to Schug Winery. Dom and Jess are friends with the Manager of Hospitality there, Harrison. When we told him it was my first time out here and my birthday, he gave us an impromptu tour of the winery! This isn’t normally done, so it was cool to get a behind the scenes look at everything. We took a tour of the land the winery owns, saw the almost catacomb like storage of all the barrels, and tasted some fancy wines! Shoutout to Harrison for gifting me a bottle of their Rouge de Noirs, a sparkling pinot noir (which was my favorite wine I tried there) and knowing who Brand New was.

A nice pano shot for ya

Leaving Schug, it was time to start getting ready for my birthday dinner! I didn’t want anything outrageous, simply dinner with Dom, Jess, and Jess’s parents. However, with it being me, I had to be extra and go all out on my outfit. While waiting on Jess’ parents to meet up with us, we stopped by SIGH., a new “bubbles only” bar. My younger brother, Jordan, who couldn’t make this trip sent funds via Venmo so he could buy me a birthday drink (so nice) and this was the perfect place to have one at. SIGH. only serves champagne, wine, and a few select beers. A crisp, open, yet small space that was full of mirrored quotes…the aesthetic of it all gave me LIFE!

My favorites

A glass of sparkling wine and champagne later, Jess’ parents joined us and we went to The Girl & The Fig. This restaurant was a last minute pick, and I didn’t have a chance to look over the menu. Unfortunately, there weren’t any vegan entrees, but our waiter worked it out with the chef and they made me a custom meal. It felt so nice being with my family out there and Jess’ parents not so casually mentioning how I should move to California!

Celebrated the start of year 24 in California! ✨??‍??? #birthdaybehavior

A post shared by Amira Taylor (@amirataylor) on

Day 5

After a very eventful few days in Sonoma, my time there soon came to an end. A flight leaving from Oakland the next day in the early afternoon, only left enough time to finish packing and hanging out with the pets. I’ve been plotting my next trip already (can never stay put for too long!) and will hopefully be heading out to L.A. and the Bay area right around Christmas time.

If there was any indication of how much fun I had, I went to Patient First the next day and found out I sprained my ankle. Whoo!

Lifestyle Music Travel

All Summer Sixteen

So there was this one time over the summer where I got the opportunity to see the love of my life, Drake, two days before my birthday. This would be my third seeing Drake but the excitement was still very real. One of my best friends, Jasmine, surprised me with tickets as a gift for our birthday (hers is 4 days before mine). When I found out, I was in California for Coachella, and told all the people I was working with,

 I’M GOING TO SEE DRAKE FOR MY BIRTHDAY!!!

 

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Lifestyle Playlists

Summer Is Over (And I Wanna Leave You Satisfied)

First, I’d like to thank Walk the Moon for inspiring this blog title. 

A week ago I turned 23 (#JordanYear). Weird. Thinking back to last year around this time, I’ve definitely made some strides in continuing this goal of being “something” in the music industry. I’ve definitely improved on taking care of myself in a time, in a place, where it can be hard to wake up every morning.

I also made eye contact with Drake at his Atlanta show on August 26th from the fifth row and realized life can’t be that bad.

As summer winds down, I wanted to reflect on some awesome moments that have happened these past few months. Majority of them are…concerts. What else would you expect? I’ve had the chance to see some of my favorite bands perform this summer and just haven’t had a chance to recap on them until NOW. I’ve also done some traveling and am convincing myself I need to move to California. The summer is always a weird time for me, but I am grateful for the people I’ve surrounded myself with that keep things fun and always give the best advice.

I’m excited for fall because everyone is touring, I’m going back to California, my brother gets married, JIMMY EAT WORLD IS RELEASING A NEW ALBUM, and it won’t be 90 degrees outside anymore!

It would only be fitting to mention some of the new music I’ve been listening to.

  • Frank Ocean- Blonde
    • The long awaited album is finally out. I listened to part of this on my flight from CA to VA and let me tell you…it was an experience.
  • Charlotte Day Wilson- CDW 
    • This EP is essential for listening to at night when you’re in your feels.
  • Travi$ Scott- Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight
    • La Flame is back & this album is gold.
  • Glass Animals- How To Be A Human Being
    • My favorite Oxford boys released their 2nd album that builds upon those eccentric jams I feel in love with on Zaba.
Snapchat chronicles from Jasmine & I's surprise birthday lituation

Snapchat chronicles from Jasmine & I’s surprise birthday lituation

Even though September just begun, a lot of music has already been released! Check out some of the tracks I’m listening to in the playlist below:

Posts on how Matty Healy is making me wear less black, everyone now knows who Twenty One Pilots is, and why Drake forever has my heart coming this week!

Lifestyle

That One Time…I Turned 22 and Saw J.Cole

Let’s take it back a few weeks shall we? One of my good friends, Jasmine’s, birthday is very close to mine. Hers is August 24th and mine is August 28th. Last year for my 21st and her 22nd birthday we had a joint celebration that was one of the best ways I’ve celebrated my birthday in my short span of existence. This year, we knew we wanted to go something together again. Ideas of going out to dinner, hanging with our close friends were thrown around but one idea struck and without hesitation we decided that’s what we wanted.

Earlier this year, J.Cole announced his Forest Hills Drive Tour with acts Big Sean, Jeremih, and YG on the lineup (for this leg of the tour at least). When I scrolled through the dates I saw Virginia on there (whoo!) but as I scrolled down further I saw two things: August 29th and Fayetteville, NC **HOMECOMING SHOW**

If you’re familiar with J.Cole he’s from Fayetteville, NC and the last date of the tour would be in none other than his hometown. Jasmine and I freaked out at this and needed to make this happen. Come mid-July and plans for our road trip to Fayettenam (as they call it) was finally pulling together. Joining the Jas and Amira celebration were Tiffany, Toby, Gabby, and Senayt!

On my actual birthday, I spent the morning with my dad as we went out to breakfast and then off to work. My office all went out to lunch together to celebrate myself and my co-workers birthday. After work, my friends Free and Justin surprised me with balloons, a cake, and an awesome vinyl record player. That evening the three of us and Jasmine went out to dinner and had an anti-climatic end to the night (ahaha).

 

The balloons attacked me.

The balloons attacked me.

 

 

 

The next morning Jasmine and I got picked up by Toby and Co to drive from VA to NC. We were staying at Tiffany’s place in NC and once we arrived we quickly changed and drove from Greenville to Fayetteville.

IMG_6197 (1)

Snaptchat chronicles via Jasmine.

Once we got into the venue and found our seats, the excitement started to kick in. Our seats were actually pretty good (thanks Tiffy) and YG graced the stage first. I love YG.

If you know me you know that I have this weird infatuation with him and support his musical career. In my opinion, his set was too short but I did have a fangirl moment when he performed his latest song, “Twist My Fingaz.” After YG was Jeremih. Yep. Tiffany serenaded me during the oldie but goodie, “Birthday Sex.” That’s all I’ll say about that. (girlllll you know i-i-i-i)

Big Sean brought the energy back into the show with a really solid performance. I truly loved his set from start to finish and it was so adorable seeing him live again. Then…the moment we were waiting for arrived…J. Cole came on stage.

Being the concert junkie I am, I love it when an act has a great set up to it. The visuals in J.Cole’s set were almost dreamlike. It was essentially the view of Cole’s childhood home but at an angle as if you were looking up at the sky. He performed all the tracks 2014 Forest Hills Drive and his notable hits. As an artist, I give Cole a lot of respect and hearing those tracks from FHD live just added to my appreciation of them event more.

WHEN WE THOUGHT HIS SET WAS ABOUT TO FINISH…

J.Cole start talking about how great it was to be in his hometown and how he had to do it big for this show. Literally on our way to the venue all of us were joking about how Drake was going to make an appearance at the show (mind you that Jasmine and I LOVE Drake). The shock on my face when Cole brought out Drake as a surprise guest was so overwhelming. DRAKE. CHAMPAGNE PAPI DRAKE. DRIZZY DRAKE. DRAKE CAME OUT AND PERFORMED AT THE HOMECOMING SHOW A DAY AFTER MY BIRTHDAY? My twin, Nicole, told me on my birthday that she hoped my Champagne Papi dreams would come true…little did we know THAT THEY ACTUALLY WOULD. I cried. I jumped up and down. I screamed. Jasmine cried. Jasmine screamed. We both sang almost every word but took breaks in between to come to terms that this was actually happening.

WHEN WE THOUGHT THAT WAS THE ONLY SURPRISE…

J. Cole brought out another surprise guest…JAY-Z. Yes. Hova himself. Let’s just take a minute to pause really quickly. THE Jay-Z?! I couldn’t fathom what was happening right before my eyes but Public Service Announcement dropped and I was amazed. Both Jasmine and Tiffany are huge Jay-Z fans and they took over a majority of the screaming and yelling when he was on. Whenever I think about those moments I’m still in shock that we were there. Such a genuine experience Cole was able to bring to his hometown and I’m glad I was able to be apart of a *legendary* show.

All in all the show was oh so great and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my birthday. I cried a few times due to the overwhelming joy that was felt (that I hadn’t felt in a long time). I’m so grateful to have spent a few hours of happiness with some of the people I enjoy most in life.

The crew.

The crew.

If you don’t believe me just watch: