2016: New Mindset, Travel Plans

Well hello there!I took a nice little break from this blog over the New Year and I feel like a lot has changed in my state of mind since I last logged in here. I’ve been really focusing on being a more positive person and not letting self-doubt hold me back. It’s something I’ve struggled with my entire life, but have only recently discovered how much I’ve let it consume me. It takes a ton of effort some days to avoid it, but other days I feel light and free and it makes me crave every day to be like that.

How does this apply to travel? I’ve found that sometimes I want to travel as an escape from reality. Everyone needs that so often, but it’s not good to do it to the point where you can’t be happy at home. I was almost to that point and that scares me! Lately I’m finding all kinds of things I’m excited for right here at home – marking my calendar to make sure no travel plans get in the way! That’s a new one for me! :)

All that said, we do have some travel plans in the works this year, of course!

  • I’m headed to DC in a few weeks for a mom and daughter trip! We’re going to see my friend perform at the Kennedy Center, which is super exciting. We’re hoping to catch the cherry blossoms bloomed for some bucket list photo ops!
  • Trae and I would like to do another National Parks road trip over the National Park Service anniversary again (last year we did a big Southwest tour). This will be the 100th Anniversary of the NPS so I’m sure it will be hella crowded, but it’s all about the experience! We’ve been mostly talking about doing Yellowstone, which would also get us close to Grand Teton Nat’l Park and Shoshone Nat’l Forest.
  • I just found out the other day that the playhouse where my mom performs in the pit orchestra is doing Mamma Mia this fall so a trip to Tennessee may definitely have to happen!!
  • Lastly, I’m thinking about a winter Iceland trip for Trae and me! We do really well together on nature-centered adventures and Iceland would be an amazingly different experience – and getting to see the Northern Lights! So maybe at the end of this year or beginning of 2017?! It would be exciting!

Do you have any travel plans this year? I have a couple different friends going to Hawaii, a couple of friends going to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, my sister, mom, and step-dad are going to England (so bummed I can’t make that trip!!). Seems like a year for big adventures!

From the Beach to the Desert to the Conrete Jungle

Another year down and we were able to mark some new places off our Bucket List! Here’s a look back at where 2015 took us!

S T .  L O U I S

We started the year with our annual trip to St. Louis for Schlafly’s Cabin Fever beer festival. It was our 8th year to go and…I think we may retire this trip for awhile starting in 2016. It’s always great fun, but I think we may give some other festivals a try!

C A R L T O N  L A N D I N G

In February I spent two days in Carlton Landing assisting with a photoshoot for Southern Living magazine! There was snow and ice on the ground, but you will never know it in the summer-styled interior photos (this shoot hasn’t been published yet)!

4 0 5  B R E W I N G  C O .  L A U N C H

At the beginning of March my husband and his business partner, Jonathan, officially released their first beer from their brewing company! Though this didn’t involve travel, it’s a huge part of our lives and has been in the works for years.

 S A N  D I E G O

In March we were fortunate to go to San Diego on a trip Trae had earned through his now-previous job. We were put up in a super nice hotel in Coronado, got to walk on the beach, visit a fave brewery, and tour the USS Midway.

L O S  A N G E L E S

We piggybacked the San Diego work trip with our own three day getaway to Los Angeles! Since this was my first time to LaLa Land I wanted to hit up some touristy movie stuff. We did a tour of the WB lot, went to the Griffith Observatory at sunset, visited iconic LA landmarks, and I even photographed a ballerina. I cannot wait to go back!


In April I assisted with another Southern Living photoshoot – this time in Arkansas. This was my first time to visit the college town of Fayetteville, and I got the full experience because we were photographing the Kappa Kappa Gamma house!

H O S T I N G  T R A V E L E R S !

My Mom and Grandma came to visit at the end of April! It was so great to have them here while I had so much going on because they could tag along! Mom even filled in to play bells with us one morning! Their arrival happened when Trae was in the thick of his unknown illness (we found out he has Crohn’s Disease) and I was reminded just how nice it is to have your Mom around when things are tough.


I photographed a gorgeous wedding in Austin the first weekend of May. My good friend Melissa lives there so she shot with me and we got to spend some time together (I also photographed her daughter in ballet attire. Squeal!)

K A N S A S  C I T Y

My sister and I decided to take a weekend trip together in July to Kansas City. We had a good time exploring the local scene and spending some quality sister time together.


My Aunt Bärli came to visit in August so I drove down to Durant to spend the day with my fam. Bärli made Sacher Torte for dessert and I got to pick out my quilt from Grandma!

N E W  M E X I C O  /  C O L O R A D O  /  A R I Z O N A

The Great Southwestern Road Trip! This trip was Trae’s idea and it will go down as one of our most favorite moments in our marriage. After months of Trae being sick, launching his brewery, quitting his full-time job to run the brewery and manage his health, we decided we needed some time away together. We took two weeks to road trip (and built in some chill time) National Parks and other awesomeness in the Southwest. Check out the blog post if you missed it!

C A R L T O N  L A N D I N G

I seem to be averaging two visits a year to Carlton Landing now! :) In October I drove down again to photograph a client and one of the rental homes. Turned out to be one of my favorite shoots to date!


Trae had a beer event to attend in Tulsa one weekend in October so I went with him to be his sidekick. We spontaneously decided to stay the next day to bum around Tulsa since we never stay there long enough to do so! We lucked out with a food truck festival happening that day and I drank a pina colada out of a pineapple :)

B E A V E R S  B E N D

For the second year in a row we rented a cabin at Beavers Bend over Halloween weekend! #HungoverHiking.

N E W  Y O R K  C I T Y

Once again my sister and I went on a getaway together! This time to NYC. This trip was made possible by ridiculously cheap airfares from Spirit airlines. Holy cow, guys. Check them out. I’m still finishing posts from this trip, but we walked The High Line & ate at the Chelsea Market, went to the top of 30 Rock, pretended to be Kathleen Kelly, and had some wonderful time with family. I also got to meet and film a video with one of my favorite ballerinas! 

We were going to finish the year in New Mexico, returning to the Angelfire ski slopes for the New Year’s Eve Torch Run, but a combination of blizzards, ice, tornadoes, and flooding kept us from attempting the drive. Gotta love that Oklahoma weather!


That wraps up our Travel Year in Review for 2015! We feel so fortunate for the experiences and for Trae’s health getting back on track. Cheers to experiences, love, and good health in 2016!

Follow along:  Jana’s Instagram | Trae’s Instagram

Family Dinner in the Bronx

One of my favorite things about going to New York City is that we have family to visit with! I really think that is the big reason I’ve always loved the city so much. The comfort of family can make the giant city feel like home.

My Uncle David moved from Manhattan to the Bronx awhile back. I had never been that far north until last year when Nan, Trae, and I came up to visit last May! There are some ridiculously amazing homes along the Hudson and the whole vibe is much slower paced, which Trae really loved.

David hosted us (my cousin Sarah, myself, my cousin Nan, my aunt Bärli, and my sister Katy) for dinner one night when Katy and I were visiting last month. Upon arrival we were greeted with delicious cocktails, crackers, and cheese!

For our meal we did a mashup of Bärli’s chicken enchilada’s and local Chinese takeout. Katy had never had cold noodles – a Chinese dish invented in New York City in the 70s. You may think Mexican and Chinese dishes don’t mix, but it totally worked as a two course meal. So fun!It feels so special to have family together since we don’t all live nearby. I am reminded of this when I’m chatting with others about their holiday plans and how they’ll pop over to this aunt’s house and then that aunt’s house and then end the day at their grandmother’s. For us it’s always a one day event at someone’s house because it will involve travel for most parties. At first it bums me out that we can’t see more family at the holidays, but then I think about how lucky we are to have family spread out across the country and that we get to experience unique and special things with them because of that.

Onto dessert…Nan made a scrumptious berry crumble to be paired with your drink of choice. I opted for another one of David’s cocktails. Sarah was extremely excited about this part of the meal!We all gathered on the couch and watched clips from our favorite musicals and ballets through Google Chrome set up on David’s TV. We could each pull up YouTube on our phones, search clips we wanted to share, and then send it to the TV to play. We watched a lot of West Side Story and Romeo & Juliet. Pretty much my idea of a perfect evening!Also, I love this apartment. David and Jane worked with a decorator to help with furniture choices and placement. The whole place flows so comfortably and I love the touch of the bright blue wall.

How do you spend your holidays? At home with family? Traveling? I’d love to hear in the comments!

See more of this New York City trip!

Rockefeller Christmas Tree Arrival

Chelsea Market + The High Line

Top of the Rock

You’ve Got Mail Filming Locations!

P.S. The next morning we went to Underwest Donuts located inside a car wash! It was crazy good. 47th & the West Side Highway. Add that to your NYC list!

Rockefeller Christmas Tree Arrival!

This 78-foot spruce may not look as magical as it will on December 2nd, but it was pretty neat to be at Rockefeller Center the day the chosen Christmas tree arrived! As if there wasn’t enough buzz happening at 30 Rock that day, we happened upon a crowd, a limo, and a camera crew outside the 49th Street entrance. We asked people on the street if they knew what was going on and no one had an answer. We decided to wait 10 minutes in case someone really cool was about to walk out. It’s funny how these situations can suck you in! But our short wait paid off and we got a celebrity sighting!Hoda Kotb! Dressed as a limo driver.

It was a very calm scenario and she stopped to wave at the people on the street. You can see what they were filming here (it’s really sweet).

I think what I’ve learned in my visits to Rockefeller Center is that this is a great place to run into a famous face. If you’re into that sort of adventure while visiting NYC, just wander around the building a few times and you’re bound to spot someone!

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Chelsea Market + The High Line

Three weeks ago was the first time I had ever been to the Chelsea Market in New York City! My sister and I had been running around the city all day, making our way down to fill our bellies with local food. By the time we got there my feet were k-i-l-l-i-n-g me, so we kind of quickly passed everything looking for a place to sit down. It was the kind of exhaustion where you’re hungry but you can’t even think about what you want until you have a minute to rest! We found a little table by a gelato place (convenient) and rested for a bit. Eventually I got up and got us some pot pies (chicken for me, veggie for Katy).

Because we were so exhausted I didn’t bother to take time for photos, other than the one of the twinkle lights. How cute is that?! We did go into some shops (Artists & Fleas was on our planning Pinterest board. OMG I wanted all the jewelry!) but once I looked at my watch I realized we were about 10 minutes from running out of daylight for walking The High Line (#photographerproblems). We headed up immediately and watched the city start to glow.  The High Line is an old railroad track that has been converted into a public park! We had to stop about every 50 feet to take pictures – whether it was a cool building, a dreamy apartment, or a cool view of the city.

This was Katy’s third time to walk The High Line, so she was busy looking at the surrounding buildings while I was focused on the design of the walkway. It was nice because we both noticed different things and were constantly saying to each other “Oh! Look at this!”. Oh hey there, Empire State building! :)

I think next time we’ll start at The High Line entrance at 30th Street and work our way down, stopping at the market for a snack, and then end at Gansevoort Street, where we can get off and go to the Whitney Museum! Also, we should not do some much walking prior :)

More from this trip to NYC:

Top of the Rock

You’ve Got Mail Filming Locations

Top of the Rock

Every time someone asks me what they should see or do in New York City, I always recommend Top of the Rock!

Top of the Rock is named so because it is on the rooftop of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (NBC headquarters). While this has become a huge tourist attraction, I don’t think it should be avoided! If you love vantage points, this is such a great one. Unlike seeing the city from the top of the Empire State building, the view from Top of the Rock puts the Empire State as the center focal point!

On the south side of the rooftop is the view of the Empire State building and downtown. You can even see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. On the north side of the rooftop is a stunning view of Central Park that I’m kind of obsessed with. I love seeing the scale of the perfect rectangle smack in the middle of all the concrete and stone buildings. (next time: helicopter tour??!!)I had always wanted to come up here to see the park from above during the fall season! Unfortunately the day we did this the weather & lighting wasn’t the best to allow the fall leaves to really pop, but it was still much more lush than the time I went in January (below)! It can be hard to time attraction visits when you’re sightseeing, but if you can get to the rooftop right when it opens at 8am or be there as the sun sets, you will have an extra special experience! During the trip in January we luckily timed ourselves there at sunset so we got to watch the whole city light up!

What is your favorite tourist attraction in NYC? Or favorite attraction in general?

See more New York City travels:

You’ve Got Mail filming locations

Visiting Central Park in the Fall

Ghostbusters filming locations

Levain Bakery, Central Park, DUMBO

Trae’s First Trip to NYC

You’ve Got Mail Filming Locations!

“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would buy you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” – NY152

Ahhh, You’ve Got Mail. One of my all-time favorite movies. It has romance. It has humor. It has New York in all seasons. It has Tom Hanks!

In all the times I’ve visited New York City I’ve never done a You’ve Got Mail filming locations tour! What?! But I’m glad I waited until our visit last week because a) it was fall (the best season) and b) I got to do it with my sister, who is not a repeat movie watcher with the exception of this film. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy this tour!

I T  I S  K A T H L E E N  K E L L Y

Cafe Lalo is where ShopGirl and NY152 plan to meet for the first time, until Joe Fox discovers that ShopGirl is Kathleen Kelly, the woman he’s putting out of business! screen cap via

But he goes in anyway and pretends he’s just bumped into her.

screen cap via

The cafe is just as charming as it appears in the film! I actually went to dinner here with a ballet friend the evening these photos were taken, but I knew my sister would kill me if she didn’t get to go, so we started our day with breakfast here the following morning!

Cafe Lalo is located at 201 West 83rd Street.

H E L L O ,  N E W  J E R S E Y !

Early in the movie we learn that Joe has a boat that he keeps docked on the Hudson River. His brother and aunt (who are mere children) come to visit one morning and frown upon a boat ride. They attend a street fair instead and eventually wander into Kathleen’s bookstore.gif via

Joe Fox’s boat dock is located at the 79th Street Boat Basin.

S H O P  G I R L

The Shop Around the Corner location is a great example of movie magic. Apart from the curve of the window, the space currently has zero charm. When we arrived here my sister asked why we had stopped because she didn’t recognize the location at all!

screen cap via

I feel like I’ve read that the shop interiors were filmed on a soundstage, but I also remember reading that this was a cheese shop at the time, so it was cleared out and staged for the movie. I guess it could be a combination of both, seeing as how even in the shot above they would have had to dress the inside.

The Shop Around the Corner exterior is located at 106 West 69th Street (69th & Columbus).

H A P P Y  T H A N K S G I V I N G  B A C K

We can all feel Kathleen’s mortification when she’s so preoccupied with avoiding Joe in the grocery store that she doesn’t realize she’s gone through a “cash only” lane at checkout. To Kathleen’s embarrassment and disapproval, Joe comes to the rescue by charming the cashier into running Kathleen’s credit card.

screen cap viascreen cap via

Zabar’s is located at 2245 Broadway (at 80th Street).

I  H O P E  Y O U R  M A N G O ‘ S  R I P E

I love the montage early in the movie where we learn Kathleen and Joe live in the same neighborhood and frequent the same establishments, often moments apart from each other. I particularly love the shot here at Verdi Square.

This is also the same spot later in the movie where they sit on a bench together and Kathleen says “Wow, I keep on bumping into you”. To which Joe replies, “Hey, you want to bump into me on, say, Saturday around lunchtime? Over there?”

Verdi Square is located at 72nd Street where Broadway and Amsterdam intersect.

H E  C O U L D  B E  T H A T  G U Y  R I G H T  T H E R E

The day Kathleen finally goes to meet her mister perfect NY152, she first has lunch with Joe at Gray’s Papaya. screen cap viaMy cousin, Nan, took me here a few years ago since it’s a classic UWS establishment. We got ourselves Recession Specials and stood at the same spot Joe and Kathleen stood in the movie – though I did not realize this at the time! Also, these hot dogs are delicious and you should definitely try them when in NY!

Gray’s Papaya is located at 72nd Street & Broadway.

K A T H L E E N ‘ S  A P A R T M E N T

I feel like Kathleen’s brownstone is another character in the movie! It says so much about her style. It’s so charming I could burst!

screen cap via

screen cap via

It appears that the cute gold intercom was just a movie prop and the front doors are slightly different, but damn, it’s so, so charming, right? I’m ready to move in!

Kathleen Kelly’s brownstone is located at 328 West 89th Street, between West End and Riverside.

I  W A N T E D  I T  T O  B E  Y O U

“There’s a place in Riverside Park where the path curves and there’s garden. Brinkley and I will be waiting.”

If you haven’t had enough charm yet, keep heading west on Kathleen’s street and you’ll end up at Riverside Park. Walk north to 91st Street where, indeed, the path curves and there’s a garden! I highly recommend taking a walk over here even if you don’t care about this movie. It’s so beautiful!

The final meeting spot is the 91st Street Garden in Riverside Park.


Buying your ticket to New York yet? :) There are more locations in the area (everything is walkable distance on the Upper West Side!) but these were the ones we wanted to see the most. Other locations to see are Barney Greengrass, Starbucks, the Fox Books building, the faked entrance to Joe’s apartment, the outdoor restaurant, and H&H Bagel (RIP). This BuzzFeed article has a great overview map of the locations.

I want to know – what’s your favorite scene or line from You’ve Got Mail?! Leave a comment :)

See more of our Movie Location tours here.