Must Haves for Long Haul Flights

We are a little over a week from heading out to HAWAII (!!!) and I couldn't be more excited. I've already started working on my packing list (which is actually a spreadsheet...and includes things like who I want to buy souvenirs for and what sights I want to see). Is that really weird and type A?? I can't help it, I guess I was just born this way, because that's how I roll. 

Since Hawaii is a little bit of a trek (we've got a four hour flight and then a seven hour flight to get there), I thought as I was packing up some of my long trip essentials, I'd also share them here!  

1 & 2. Earplugs and a sleep mask - These long haul flights are the perfect opportunity to get a little bit of sleep if you can sleep on a plane. I personally can only sleep on a plane if I'm exhausted beyond belief. And even then a sleep mask works wonders, especially when people near you decide they really want to keep their window shades open and the sun is right in your eyeballs. Earplugs are a bonus. 

PRO TIP: I usually pick a window seat on the side I sleep on. I sleep mostly on my left side, so I usually pick the left side of the plane. Something about doing that helps to trick my body into feeling like it's time to sleep.

3. Comfortable headphones - If you don't want to use earplugs, comfortable headphones are so important. If you're wearing your headphones for more than an hour or two at a time, comfort is really important! I recently got these Beats headphones, that I love! I'm a big earbud person, but a lot of people also love to wear the over ear headphones too. 

4. Spotify Premium - I started using Spotify Premium when I was marathon training and needed access to hours of music that I could also access offline without purchasing 70 or 80 dollars of music from Apple. I love it for long haul flights because you can make a playlist of as many songs as you'd like and then you can make it available offline, meaning you won't have to use wifi or data to listen. This is awesome for flying or any other time when you might want to conserve data or battery life! 

5. Mophie Charging Case for iPhone - Speaking of conserving battery life, I don't travel without a Mophie Charging case for my iPhone! Previously I had the external universal mophie charger, which I'd use with my regular phone charger, but I've found the charging case to be the most convenient and easy to use when you're traveling. You don't need to carry anything extra, the charger is on your phone! You just flip a little switch when you're low and it starts charging right then and there. Such a lifesaver for a flight on a plane that doesn't have power! I have this one. I thought it would be super bulky and I would hate it, but once you get used to it, it's just fine! 

6. A zippered pouch - I think the key to staying organized when traveling is lots of compartments. There's not much I hate more than looking for something I need and having to dig through my entire cavernous carry on bag. I keep a smaller bag of some kind in my carry on with all of my in flight essentials (gum, dramamine, headphones, advil, lip balm, nyquil, etc) so that I can grab that and stick it in the seat back in front of me so I'm not digging through my carry on every time I need something. 

7. Compression socks - I'm very pro wearing socks when I fly. If it's a shorter flight, I might wear sandals, but for long flights, I always wear socks, specifically compression socks. Long flights are always FREEZING, so socks are very important. Compression socks are great because in addition to keeping your feet warm, they also help keep your feet and legs from swelling due to cabin pressure and lower the chance you might get a blood clot. 

8. Zabees Immune Support and Sleep powder I discovered this stuff on a trip earlier this Fall and fell in love with it! When you're traveling, your immune system can always benefit from a little bit of a boost and the melatonin and other things in the powder also help me relax enough to drift off to sleep. I highly recommend this stuff before a red eye flight! 

My last "must have" is a must have for ANY flight. It's TSA PreCheck. I signed up earlier this year and was mad I hadn't done it earlier, because it makes the process of getting through the airport SO MUCH SMOOTHER. You pay a one time fee and go to your local office to have them verify your identity and take your fingerprints and you get a known traveler ID that allows you to bypass the long TSA lines and go straight to the PreCheck line instead. I love it because I can keep my shoes and jacket on and I don't have to remove my laptop or liquids! I travel alone a lot and really prefer people not know I have an expensive laptop in my possession. 

A Girl's "Weekend" in Charleston, PT 1

A little over a week ago I returned from my very first trip to Charleston. It seems like almost everybody is going to Charleston these days and so instead of feeling all of the FOMO feels, I decided to make the trek myself to see what I might be missing out on. My friend Sarah (who is also a wedding photographer!) and I road-tripped together from Virginia. Surprisingly, the drive isn’t terrible and it’s well worth it, in my opinion, because it turns out, if your favorite things in life are food and cocktails, Charleston is the place for you!

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I have quite a bit to share from our short trip (I really love to pack it all in on a trip!) so I'll be sharing two separate Charleston posts. I only took my little film camera (a Canon AE-1, if you're interested) and my iPhone, so most of my photos are just phone photos! Don't judge too harshly, guys. 

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

Sarah and I live a couple hours apart, so we met in Richmond and drove into Charleston Sunday afternoon. After a few re-routes thanks to destruction from Hurricane Matthew, we finally made it to town in time for a late dinner!After consulting Yelp and comparing menus of a few places with good ratings, we chose to head over to Voodoo Tiki Bar in search of Cheeseburger egg rolls. 

I have to say, after the experience we had at Voodoo Tiki Bar, I will be a little skeptical of Yelp in the future. I was hoping for a chill bar where people go to have a bite and some cocktails. It ended up being a full on club atmosphere (we’re talking black light halloween party here, guys). It was a pretty interesting way to start the trip, considering I was basically wearing pajamas (leggings and a big comfy sweater) and had no makeup on…not even moisturizer! 

We had drinks and shared both Cheeseburger egg rolls and Shrimp po boy sliders. Both were pretty good, especially for a club-y type place. I don’t think there are many places like this where the food is actually really good! I imagine if you'd had a few drinks, it would taste even better! 

I also noted that they had several types of tequilas that seemed really cool (like a strawberry jalapeño infused variety) and I’m already regretting not having the pecan pie bourbon. All in all, I do think I would return if I was in the area for like, a bachelorette party, a birthday, or something else with a big group. I will definitely try to dress more appropriately next time, as well…HAHA.

The next morning we set out for the day to explore and eat. And eat and explore. We had no real set agenda, just mainly stuffing our faces as much as possible. Which is pretty much par for the course when you are on vacation with me. That and day-drinking. 


Our first stop was Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. It’s such a cute place, but it’s really tiny. So tiny that we actually passed it twice walking King Street before we made it in! We decided to share three biscuits (our main strategy here was to share smaller portions so we could eat as many things as possible since we were only in town for a couple days). We sampled ham, cinnamon, and buttermilk with pimento cheese. 

The biscuits were so good! I highly recommend trying a few different things because there were things I liked about each of them. The cinnamon had a sweetness to it that complimented the saltiness of the ham biscuit. And the pimento cheese? Well, it’s pimento cheese so you know it was amazing!

We also shared a homemade oreo cookie. I'm an oreo connoisseur, if you weren't aware, so I felt this was a necessary snack to try. The cookie was chocolate-y and shortbread-y and amazing! I could eat a whole sleeve of them if they were smaller, for sure. 

After browsing some of the shops on King Street, we took a break for a donut at Glazed Donuts. I chose a raspberry frosted donut that was delicious! Probably one of the best I’ve ever had! The raspberry icing really tasted of raspberry. I could tell that they used real berries to make it. The donut itself was a perfect yeast donut. Light, airy, and soft! I would rate this as an A+ donut. 

Following our donut tour, we went to a distillery tour at Charleston Distilling Co. Living in Virginia, there are a ton of wineries and breweries around and I’ve been on my fair share of tours of them. I’ve yet to go to a distillery though, so this was a neat experience! We learned about how they make rye whiskey, vodka, and gin (did you know gin is actually FLAVORED VODKA???) and sampled a few. 

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Next, we set out in search of the infamous Rainbow Row that’s pinterest and Instagram famous. I loved the pastel colored houses and the charming architecture in this area! The bright paint colors are just so happy I wish that they would catch on at home so at least when we’re in the depressing throes of winter we’d have something cheerful to look at! 

We also stopped by the pineapple fountain at Waterfront park, since it’s in walking distance from Rainbow Row. 

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

After walking around quite a bit, we stopped at Pearlz for a bite to eat and a glass of champagne. We shared some oysters on the half shell, pork rinds, and corn fritters. The oysters were good, but I was underwhelmed by the corn fritters and pork rinds. The corn fritters were pretty bland and the pork rinds tasted like they came from a bag. 

It could be I'm just spoiled by the amazing homemade pork rinds back in Richmond at the Roosevelt. I think Richmond is gonna be the next Charleston, guys. At least foodie wise!

A lot of people highly recommend Folly Beach, so we drove out to check it out around sunset. There were SO MANY SHELLS. And rocks! I’m imagining that’s because hurricane Matthew rolled through only a week prior. I can’t wait to see my film photos from Folly beach because it was just so pretty! 

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

35mm Kodak Portra 400 rated at 200

Instead of a full on dinner, we decided to go to two bars and have some snacks and drinks. Our first stop for the evening was the Gin Joint. The most unique thing about the Gin Joint is that you can order a drink based on two adjectives listed in their menu and the bartender will create something special for you! I chose fizzy and floral. I’d like to go back at some point and choose another combination…maybe tart and unusual? Or herbal and fruit?

We split a ricotta stuffed meatball and pretzels and then headed to the rooftop bar at Vendue hotel, where we met a couple who had just gotten married and were on their honeymoon and were treated to two rounds of salted pretzel shots (who knew that was a thing??) by the bartender. Totally made for a fun evening and a neat story to remember when looking back on the trip. We meant to eat something else, but being that it was late Monday night and lots of things were closed early, I ended my evening with Doritos from the hotel vending machine. (Typical Katie Nesbitt).

If you’re wondering where we stayed, we had a room at the Hampton Inn in Mount Pleasant, just over the bridge. I’m a Hilton Honors member (what, what!) and I earn points every time I stay, which during wedding season is pretty frequently. I had enough points for us to stay for three nights for FREE in Mount Pleasant, so it worked out really well for us to make that our home base. It wasn’t too far away that it felt like a hassle to go “home” and it was a lot cheaper than staying downtown. 

That concludes the first part of our trip! When I return with part two of our adventure, I'll be recapping the trip to Boone Hall Plantation (where the Notebook was filmed!) and several more food pit stops. We hit THIRTEEN places from Sunday night to Wednesday morning, so you’ll definitely want to stick around to hear about Tuesday/Wednesday! 

Ted's Bulletin in DC

I have this thing for Poptarts that is all my mom's fault. See, back when I was in elementary school, I was a little bit pickier about what I'd eat. I didn't really love sandwiches, so I usually just ate the meat and left the bread behind. Or just skipped the sandwich completely. If you know me as an adult, you probably can't imagine a Katie who doesn't love a sandwich. I mean, the people at Jimmy John's know my order by heart and start making it when they see my face! I guess my palate has matured, over time. HA!!! 

Anyway, in an effort to get me to eat my entire lunch every day, my mom started packing me pop tarts instead of sandwiches. THIS was something that eight year old me could totally get behind. And, this probably explains a LOT of my eating habits to this very day. My lunches back then were the nutritionally sound combo of: Poptart, Lays chips, Zebra Cake (or other Little Debbie Cake of my choice), applesauce, and a juice box of some kind. WHY CAN'T I EAT THIS LUNCH AS AN ADULT?? 

Back to Poptarts...(I promise, this is going somewhere!). Pop tarts are one of those foods that really remind me of being a kid. Last year I found a recipe for homemade pop tarts and I felt like my life was somehow changed. As an adult, I love eating slightly fancier versions of things that made me so happy on a daily basis as a kid, and a homemade poptart is equal parts comfortable and fancy-ish. It also just so happens that Ted's Bulletin in DC is pretty much famous for their homemade PopTarts! 

I work in DC so regularly that I have started to feel like I'm partly from there. I'm working there at least 12-15 weekends out of a year...this month alone, we'll have been there three weeks in a row! I knew we would have to stop at Ted's Bulletin eventually, and this Sunday we finally made it! 

If you love comfort food (and breakfast) as much as I do, you absolutely HAVE to go to Ted's Bulletin. They have so many classic diner items AND they have booze in their milkshakes. Or, at least some of them. I chose to try the Nutty Professor, a hazelnut milkshake. It was good, but next time I will go for the Bananas Foster. Can't go wrong with Bananas and rum in my book! 

Because we're those people that always get an appetizer, we got mini chicken and biscuits to start with. They are served with honey and mumbo sauce. If you don't know what mumbo sauce is, well, you are probably not from DC. See, I told you I was close enough to being partly from DC now..Mumbo sauce is my JAM. Mumbo sauce is essentially a sweet kind of ketchup-y sauce. It's got a tiny bit of Asian flair in there kind of reminds me of a sweet and sour sauce almost. Whatever it is, it's HEAVEN on anything fried, especially chicken!! We scarfed these biscuits down in no time flat.

For my main meal, I chose the Big Mark Breakfast with eggs over medium. I honestly wish I went for another option. It's not that I don't love eggs, bacon, and toast, because I DO. But I eat eggs and toast almost every day for breakfast at home, so it would have been nice to order something I can't make for myself so easily. Like a grilled cheese with mac and cheese and pork belly. I chose that meal because I really wanted a Ted's Tart (their homemade PopTart) but, I could have (and should have) just added it to another entree. My mistake. 

Let's talk about that PopTart. It was my favorite PopTart I've ever eaten! I chose the Strawberry one, because, classic. It was flaky, sweet, buttery, and melt in your mouth good. The jam was just the right amount of sweet, and it kind of crumbled apart at the crust the way I feel a Poptart should. You can buy the pop tarts from their counter, so you don't even have to eat here to get one. I suggest eating at Ted's, but just know you can get a pop tart fix on the fly if you need to. 

John had the Peanut Butter and Bacon burger, which I did not photograph, but I sampled. It was AMAZING!!!!! He definitely chose the better entree. I don't even love peanut butter that much (unless it is inside of a Reese's) but it worked SO well on the burger, especially with the sweet tomato jam. 

We left so stuffed that we had to walk around the block a few times before rolling ourselves into our cars to head 2.5 hours back home. It was so worth all the millions of calories we ate and I don't regret a single bite!! 

Have you been to Ted's Bulletin? What should I try next time?? 

Cake and Ice Cream Protein Pancakes

I LOVE pancakes. Carbs of any kind are my favorite, but hot, fluffy pancakes have a special place in my heart. My favorite kind growing up were my grandma's corn pancakes, which were basically regular pancakes with a can of sweet corn mixed into the batter. Topped with sweet, sticky syrup, they were the BEST treat and something I looked forward to when we got to stay overnight at her house. Even just eating regular pancakes with syrup brings back so many memories! The thing is, regular syrup (even organic, 100 percent maple syrup) has a ton of empty calories and carbs. Usually, those are my favorite kind of carbs, but sometimes you just have to prioritize! 

I bought a box of Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes mix at Target a while back on a total whim. Isn't that how most Target purchases start? Or is it just me? If you haven't tried this pancake mix and you care about eating a lot of protein and/or fitting your macros, you should go grab a box! They've got 14 grams of protein with just mix and water, OR you can add milk and/or eggs for even more protein. I choose to add milk to mine! 

Anyway, I have used the mix for regular (and blueberry) pancakes in the past and decided I wanted something sweeter this time. By themselves, the Kodiak Cakes are somewhat plain tasting, but with fruit or other toppings, they are perfect! I decided to add sprinkles to the mix on Sunday morning AND, I added a small scoop (about 56g worth) of Birthday Cake flavored Halo Top ice cream too! If you're not familiar with Halo Top, it's this delicious, high protein ice cream. It really DOES taste like ice cream but it has 6 g of protein a serving and is also low calorie and doesn't have freaky ingredients! Adding this ice cream to the pancakes in lieu of basically nutritionally devoid syrup means you're sweetening your cakes with something that's better for you.

Here's how I made them (it was REALLY simple...and quick!)

  • Make pancakes as directed on box (I added milk instead of water, a couple twists of my cinnamon sugar grinder from Trader Joe's, and a splash of vanilla)
  • Add sprinkles to your pancake batter (I used just a teaspoon)
  • Top with a scoop of your choice of Halo Top protein ice cream
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355 Calories
Protein: 24g // Carbs: 47g // Fat: 9g 

These pancakes totally seem like they would be super decadent and heavy in calories, but they've got less sugar and calories than regular pancakes with syrup do! Plus, they're so filling!! I had mine with a side of two scrambled eggs after the gym on Sunday. Too good ;)