Traveling to Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat & Play

I just got back from my second visit to Tulum (about an hour south of Cancun) and now feel like I know enough to be dangerous and offer recommendations.
The view from the bar at Papaya Playa Project
If you're like me, before going to Tulum, you'd mostly only seen it via Instagram. Via Insta-lens, Tulum looks beautiful... and it is... but there are a few things to think through as you plan your trip. There's not a ton of infrastructure and not every hotel has things you traditionally expect, so you'll need to ask basic questions about accommodations (if they matter to you)... things like:
  • Is there potable water to drink?
  • Does this place have beach access?
  • Is there air conditioning in the rooms?
Where to Stay
The first time I visited, we stayed at this fantastic AirBNB in the Artia neighborhood mid-way between the town and the beach. Free bikes came with the rental - and passes to Papaya Playa Project Beach Club, so we just biked down to the beach. The small complex had a great little pool, a concierge who was so helpful in calling taxis and giving advice, and was close to groceries (which rocked for quick ATM access and restocking bottled water.) I would definitely recommend this condo for four people, provided you're sharing rooms. (The two bathrooms came in handy when one of our team got sick also.) The condo was three levels: kitchen/dining/living/balcony; then two bedrooms and two bathrooms on the next level, then a rooftop with hammock, wine fridge and plunge pool.)

Booking through AirBNB was seamless and we were met on-site by the concierge. You may see several similar condos in Artia. They all seem to be similar and I believe have the same management. We had a brief lockout issue and they solved it with an on-site manager, which is a nice option.
The AirBNB is designed gorgeously and great for four people.
The second time, we stayed at Posada Margherita which is known as one of the top restaurants on the beach. What's not known well is that they have a handful of little villas and rooms tucked around the quaint Italian slice of paradise in Mexico.
The view our first morning at Posada Margherita
Service was so nice, with coffee appearing promptly as we emerged in the morning and focaccia and cocktails on the beach in the afternoon. The on-site restaurant remains one of my favorites in the entire town: simple grilled fish and pasta with fresh ingredients on the brief menu are a welcome break after a couple of days living on tacos and ceviche. They have a nice wine list when you're ready for a break from tequila and mezcal. And, house dog Feliche becomes one of your favorite parts of the stay.

Side Note: Posada Margherita only accepts pesos, cash or Zelle to pre-pay for your reservation. Don't let this cause you stress. They are legit and that's pretty normal for Tulum businesses. 
Feliche, stealing my seat

Other options on the beach that I've seen in person and would recommend to check out for your stays: ZamasTata TulumPapaya Playa Project, Be TulumNomade, Ahau TulumCasa Malca, Azulik, and Jashita (stunning and lux, but not walkable to anything besides Chamico's)

Where to Eat on the Beach
The Holy Trinity of Food on Tulum Beach includes Hartwood, Arca and Posada Margherita, in my opinion. Arca and Hartwood only accept reservations 30 days out, so set a reminder. Posada Margherita is walk-ins only. These three are not cheap, and all only take cash or pesos. All are worth every peso and every bite.

Hartwood has a nightly hand-written menu based on what is fresh, local and available. Things do sell out, so there is a slight incentive to take an earlier reservation. But, you won't be disappointed. I don't have a lot of food photos because it was dark and candle-lit and I didn't want to disturb anyone with a flash. If it's on the menu, definitely order the pulpo, the beet, and the sweet potato. That, plus one of the grilled fish options.
Menu at Hartwood, August 2019
The cocktails looked fun, but our server steered us to a great bottle of Mexican rosé - yes, such a thing exists! Tulum introduced me to a little bit of the burgeoning Mexican wine talent and now I want to visit vineyards and taste more in the years to come.

We were celebrating a birthday and our server sent us an amazing honey cake, which I would recommend saving room for!

Arca was also a birthday celebration and stunned with beautiful design, creative and innovative food and wonderful service. '
Arca's gorgeous bar set in mangrove jungle
Memorable menu items at Arca remain the soft-shell crab taco and bone marrow - both of which I still think about nearly a year later! And the bar rocked everything from mezcal cocktails to grower Champagne.
Marrow and mezcal cocktails at Arca
It feels criminal that I don't have photos from the great food at Posada Margherita - after all, I've eaten dinner there three times and only been to Tulum twice. It starts with drinks and a complimentary basket of house-made focaccia. The caprese salad, shrimp pasta, and fresh grilled fish are the way to go (and some of the only options on the restaurant dinner menu.) If you're feeling more like pizza, you can pick that up at the street front - or sitting on the beach - during select hours (but, it's not offered during the dinner service in the restaurant.)
Since I don't have food photos from Posada Margherita, enjoy this gin-n-tonic photo
What I didn't know until I stayed there is that Posada Margherita also has a wonderful breakfast menu. We loved everything from the toast (fresh bread, toasted and served with Nutella, butter and jam,) fresh-squeezed juice and French toast... but my pick of them all is this gorgeous egg-in-the-hole dish. The ricotta! The avocado! The mushrooms! Swoon.
Egg in the hole at Posada Margherita
Beyond those three, there is still a ton of talent to check out:

  • There are juice shops and fresh fruit bowls at Matcha Mama and Raw Love at Ahau
  • Beachfront ceviche, guacamole, juices, coffees and cocktails at Papaya Playa Project (you can reserve beach palapas for a minimum tab of 1,000 pesos or about $50 per person between 10am and 5pm... which is an awesome way to spend the day because they also have a DJ and a pool.)
  • Tacos and beers on the beach at Taqueria Eufemia (note, if you feel like you are walking down a long, weird corridor and wondering if you're in the wrong place, you're about to emerge into the taqueria, keep going.)
  • In town, don't miss Taquería Honario which had my favorite lunchtime tacos - with live music. Just run the menu and order one of each to decide what your favorite is. For traditional al pastor tacos, visit Antojitos La Chiapaneca - just get there early, they do run out and when it's done it's done. I was forced to have the chicken taco and feel like I missed out! Make sure you walk around town, there are cute shops, fun bars to pop into and it's a nice anecdote to the beachfront Instagram vibes.
  • Tempura avocado tacos at Tata Talum - and then stay and hang at their pool and beach. Wonderfully welcoming. 
  • For breakfast tacos, my favorite ones are at Zamas Beach. I've ordered them twice and only want more. It's also fun for sunset (and probably any other time.)

Breakfast Tacos at Zamas
Where to Play
I've mostly done restaurants, but a couple of favorite bars have also emerged:

  • Mateo's is a great spot to sit down and chat up the bartenders. They took me on a bit of a mid-day mezcal tour when I mentioned to him that Tulum had made me a fan. 
  • MurMur has swing seats, great cocktails and fun bartenders. It's a great spot to go before or after Hartwood and Arca, which area also nearby. To be fair, the food is actually great here also, I've just never sat down for dinner (yet.)
  • Rosa Negra will draw your interest with their fiery celebrations -- and the drinks and atmosphere are magnetic and fun. I just would waive you off of the food there. But, hit up the bar, particularly after 9pm.

Is it terrible that I still haven't done cenotes or ruins? Part of me just loves the beach and food... part of me knows that the glut of tourism is bad for the environment and historic architecture... part of me is just... lazy on vacation? Let me know if there's one that I've missed that you'd recommend. There are also things like sound baths, yoga classes, full moon parties, a gym completely made out of the jungle and more. A couple things I've actually done and loved:

  • I had a private tarot card reading via a relationship therapist (that I found on Instagram.) She was great - so inviting about learning more. It's only the second time I'd ever had it done and she explained it to me along the way. She's also a relationship therapist, so you know, really these two skills go hand in hand. Highly recommend if you're interested in checking it out, or for a girls weekend activity. She just came to our villa. 
  • We took a taxi to Chamico's to spend a laid back day snorkeling Solimon Bay and eating ceviche. You can also rent campsites here. It is a nice getaway from the overproduced experiences on the beach... if that's your thing... and it's mine.

Now that I've been to Tulum, would I go back? Sure. I really do love it. Great food, chill atmosphere and stunning beaches. I'd pick it over Cancun any day. But, I also am ready to explore more of Mexico - especially Merida, Mexico City and Isla Holbox. So, we'll see what 2020 brings.

Got other faves? Advice? Hit me in the comments below.

Until next time, Mexico...


Five Days in Paris, December 2018

I found a flight to Paris for $508. I had to go. Obviously.
Paris bar dogs are my brand.
That's how I found myself landing at Charles de Gaulle in mid-December. My friend Jenna loves Paris too much to let me go alone. So, as soon as we dropped our luggage at the Renaissance Republique, we were off in search of delicious things at Holybelly. Normally, the line to get in Holybelly is prohibitively long. But, with the yellow vest protests in full effect, Saturday in the city was a lot more mellow. We got a table quickly and were being served coffee and pancakes minutes later.

Breakfast at Holybelly
I know that people will tell you to just power through. But, I'm a fan of the 3 hour mid day nap. Otherwise, I get miserable quickly.

After I woke up, we went off in search of pre-dinner drinks and landed at the iconic Willi's Wine Bar. Willi's was great, but mostly we were killing time before dinner at Juveniles Wine Bar. Juveniles ended up being my favorite meal of the trip. It was delicious, affordable and paired with a killer Beaujolis. I spent the next five days considering buying a wine suitcase to go back there and bring a case home with me.

Sea Bream over a sweet potato puree and sweet potato chips at Juveniles Wine Bar
More than any of my other Paris visits, I just wandered neighborhoods, worked from the WeWork in Marais and discovered new places to love. A sampling of favorites from this trip, follow:


  • Ellsworth (oysters from Omaha Beach paired with fried chicken)
  • Frenchie (I actually like Frenchie Bar a Vins best) 
  • Pierre Sang (insane tasting menu with bottles of wine pairing)
  • Le Pantruche (classic French bistro in Le Pigalle)


  • Moonshiners (speakeasy, accessed through a pizza joint)
  • The 46 Bar (classic cocktails in Republique)
  • Lavomatic (speakeasy, enter through a washing machine door in an actual laundry facility)
  • Bisou (no menu, just tell the bartender what you like)
Wine Bars: 

  • Freddy's Wine Bar (great wine, great cheese, awesome bartenders)
  • L'Avant Comptoir (don't miss the massive ball of butter on the bar - and the menu items hang from the ceiling)
  • Martin (recommended by the bartender at Bisou across the street)
  • Verjus Bar a Vins (tucked away in an adorable nook, with great wine)

    Wine and cheese at Freddy's

    Lunch Spots: 
    • Mokonuts (get a reservation for lunch or walk in for cookies, baked goods)
    • Mr. T in Le Marais (loved this spot for innovative comfort food in a cool atmosphere)
    The famous cookies at Mokonuts

    • La Super Marquette - cute Parisian gifts, home goods
    • Chatelles - customized flats (bows, monograms, poofs, tassels, etc.)
    • Jimmy Fairly - the Warby Parker of Paris... great specs and sunnies at affordable prices

    What I'm Reading in 2019: Full List and Favorites

    Last year, I was a reading machine. 100 books in 365 days. This year, I'm taking it down a notch. My goal is one new book per week. I figure some weeks I'll read more, some less.

    I'll keep a running list of all of my 2019 reads here, but make sure I tell you a bit more about my favorites. So, let's get started:

    Favorite Books of 2019:
    Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
    Every actress is going to want to play Daisy Jones. This character is wonderful, horrible, talented and tragic. I know that Reese Witherspoon has already optioned it, and even as I zipped through the book, I also can't help but anticipate how it will play out on screens. A stunning landscape of 1970's culture, particularly Hollywood and the music scene.

    Daisy Jones & The Six
    All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    I love reading books set in places that I'm traveling while I'm there. So, when I had two weeks planned in France for World Cup, I asked friends for recommendations about books set in France. Overwhelmingly, I heard: All the Light You Cannot See. I'm not usually big on books about war, and at times this was a tough read because of the brutality. But, ultimately it's the story of a German boy and a French girl caught up in the war and how their lives intersect across miles and years. I became so engrossed in it that when I got home, I basically stayed in and read until I finished it.
    All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

    The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
    I read this book in less than 24 hours. If anyone had told me the whole book is a novel told in poems, I probably would have passed. But, the main character, Xiomara sucks you in fast. I was invested. She's coming of age as a first generation American student. Grappling with family problems, religion, falling in love for the first time, and finding her passions. I got choked up. And inspired. [NOTE: This is a great read for the young adults/teens in your life also.]
    The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
    Love You Hard by Abby Maslin

    I basically spent 30 chapters choked up. Listen, I'm not one for emotional, heart-wrenching reads. I like escapism and things that make me smile. I picked up Love You Hard on the recommendation of a mutual friend of the author. I remember thinking as I started, this thing that happened to them is awful and how can I endure it through to the end. But, the way that Abby tells their story... God. It's not only a tribute to her husband. It's a reality check on the precarious moments of true love that we find in life. It's a goddamned evolution... marriage, friendship, family, rebuilding and getting knocked down again, and still getting back up. A must-read for anyone going through a traumatic brain injury with a loved one, but all caregivers (and non-caregivers will relate.) And, finally, it's such a love letter to Washington, DC. Not the one on your TV, but our beloved neighborhoods, friends, teams, and community. How this city pulled together made my heart happy.

    Love You Hard by Abby Maslin

    Notes From a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi
    Like most Washingtonians, I heard about Chef Onwuachi from his appearances on Top Chef and the controversial opening of Shaw Bijou. I had no expectations about this book and I don't know the Chef personally, so it was really eye-opening to find out the backstory of the restaurant opening. Even more so, I enjoyed getting to know the full life story... from New York City to Nigeria, Louisiana and eventually Washington, DC. I understand more what he was trying to do at Bijou and why it was destined to close (not due to the food.) And, I've certainly found myself at his Kith/Kin more often post-read. If you love food, biographies and/or black history, add this one to your list.
    Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi

    On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

    You'll be cheering for 16-year-old aspiring rapper, Bri throughout this book - but I also found myself rooting for her mom, her brother, her aunt and her grandma. On the Come Up is listed as young adult fiction, but it's about family and chasing your long shot dream. You may need Kleenex for the second half. (I definitely did not cry happy tears on a plane.)
    On the Come Up

    by Alexa Martin

    Intercepted is the kind of sweet, fun romance that you want to curl up in bed and finish in one day. Or pack in your beach reads bag. It's the story of a love triangle playing out behind the scenes on an NFL team. Alexa Martin was recommended to me by Jasmine Guillory when I was looking for other modern romances written by women of color. Stoked to say, I'm a fan and anxiously awaiting Martin's next book also.
    Intercepted by Alexa Martin

    Fumbled by Alexa Martin
    Ok, so read Intercepted first -- because Fumbled is kind of a sequel. But, make sure you get them both. You'll be as smitten with TK & Poppy as I was. And, this is the perfect summer read for the pool or beach. Heck, it's not even summer and I finished it in 24 hours. If Jasmine Guillory was my favorite romance author discovery of 2018, Alexa Martin is my favorite of 2019. (I'm now ready to pre-order Blitzed - the third in the series. No pressure, Alexa!)
    Fumbled by Alexa Martin

    Full List of Books I've Read in 2019

    1. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn - Amazing, courageous story about women spies in the French resistance in WW1
    2. Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller - Frances has been sent to report on a dilapidated mansions gardens and landscapes, but her most interesting find is a peephole into the bedroom below
    3. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo - Xiomara is a 15-year old first generation American living in Harlem and navigating family, religion and first loves.
    4. The Truths We Hold: An American Story by Kamala Harris - Loved getting to know this smart, charismatic presidential candidate... and learn how to properly pronounce her name. 
    5. The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir - Creepy, interesting, dark story about what happens behind the scenes of a religious reality show when the youngest daughter turns up pregnant.
    6. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward - Difficult, heartbreaking read about a family in rural Mississippi. 
    7. Tailspin by Sandra Brown - Sexy mystery about the chase for a lifesaving drug
    8. Intercepted by Alexa Martin - Such a cute, romantic story about a love triangle on an NFL franchise team (recommended by Jasmine Guillory, author of The Wedding Date and The Proposal)
    9. The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle - What would happen if you invited six people, dead or alive, to dinner... and they actually came?
    10. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Short, smart read about why it's important for both men and women to care about equality for women and girls
    11. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae - a memoir by one of my favorite actresses 
    12. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - a dystopian futuristic story about a quest to win a video game (that's based in 80's culture)
    13. G'morning, G'night. Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin Manuel Miranda - just adorable and sunshine filled "tweets" that give you a little love to start and close your day
    14. Roomies by Christina Lauren - Sexy, fun and kinda feminist romance about a subway musician and a wannabe writer colliding in New York City's Theater District
    15. Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman - near future dystopia, set in a Midwest zoo. The second half of the book moves at a breakneck pace. 
    16. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite - fun, fast read about a nurse covering up for her gorgeous, but deadly sister
    17. So Here's The Thing by Alyssa Mastromonaco - fun, fast read for aspiring lady bosses and politicos
    18. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante - Godfather, but starring girls? Epic family saga centering around two childhood frenemies in rural Italy. 
    19. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid - Almost Famous vibes as groupie turned star, Daisy Jones, takes on the 1970's LA rock scene
    20. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas - You'll be rooting for aspiring rapper, Bri, from page one. Along for the journey, you'll also cheer for her family and friends.
    21. Diary of an Oxygen Thief by Anonymous - Ugh, what a trash character written by a trash human. Why did I read this? At least it's only 150 pages.
    22. The Matchmaker's List by Sonya Lalli - Such a sweet, fun read. First-generation woman tells her Indian grandmother that she'll let her arrange a marriage for her if she's not hitched by 30. And she's 29 and counting...
    23. An American Duchess by Karen Harper - It was cool to get to know more about American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. She was basically married off for a title at 18, despite being in love with someone else. Over her life, she became a philanthropist and feminist, fighting for women and children in America and her adopted homelands of England and France. 
    24. Radical Candor by Kim Scott - A must-read for entrepreneurs, managers and even employees. Great advice for productive conversations and relationships, at work and beyond.
    25. Shortest Way Home by Pete Buttigieg - I'm reading the books (listening on audio so that I hear it in their own words) of the Democratic contenders for President. Loved Kamala Harris' book last year. This started a bit slow for me, but I'm enjoying hearing about his approach to government... and more so, learning to love the parts that are about being an empathetic leader.
    26.  The Hating Game by Sally Thorne - A smoking hot office romance novel about two office assistants competing for the same job at a publishing house.
    27. One Day in December by Josie Silver - Do you believe in love at first sight? This is a roller coaster of two people who see each other and are instantly smitten... and then it all goes awry for a decade. 
    28. Love You Hard by Abby Maslin - a love evolution that gutted me and inspired me
    29. Fumbled by Alexa Martin - three chapters in and I'm rooting for Poppy & TK
    30. Hate That U Give by Angie Thomas - tragic theme (young black men killed by police), love the heroine 
    31. Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi - really enjoyed getting to know the backstory of this chef based in DC 
    32. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren - such a fun romance about a maid-of-honor and best man who hate each other... and then, twist, end up taking the bride and groom's honeymoon trip together and falling in love. 
    33. The Chef by James Patterson and Max Dilallo - This books entire premise is ridiculous - a police detective who's a chef on the side... and trying to solve for a terrorist plot. I finished it because it's set in New Orleans, a city I love. But, it was just goofy. 
    34. Wine and War: The French, The Nazis and The Battle for France's Greatest Treasures by Donald Kladstrup: Fascinating historical read about the resistance in French wine country during World War Two.
    35. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: Gutting story of a German boy and a French girl during the span of World War Two. Great read for when you're traveling in France.
    So far, so good on my goal of 52 books in 52 weeks and a ratio of 50% authors of color. Leave me your recommendations in the comments or tweet me @tammy. 

    Here were my top 10 favorite novels of the 100+ books I read in 2018.


    Top Ten Novels I Read In 2018

    Well, I did it. 100 books in one year. There are so many stories I want to tell you about. Force you to sit down and immerse in. I'm going to start with my favorite novels that I read this year. I love fiction - romance, mystery and even better if there's a little history thrown in there.

    An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
    Something about this book was just so 2018. A thoroughly now and modern love triangle, set in Atlanta. Even though it was one of my early reads of the year (hat tip to President Obama who recommended it,) it haunted me and was my most recommended book of the year when people asked me what to read.

    An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
    Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
    I mindlessly added this to my library queue after seeing it nominated for best Young Adult book on Goodreads. As I started turning the pages, I started recognizing myself. This is a modern coming of age story -- and the phone is almost a third character in a love triangle. I intensely loved these characters and also felt that push and pull of technology-fueled text relationships. By the time I got to the end, I was wrecked. But, in the best way.

    Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

    The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah

    I can't remember how I discovered this one, but if you wrapped up romance, wine and history -- it'd be something that I'm predisposed to love. This book follows a somm student who returns to her family's vineyard to study white Burgundies, reconnects with an old flame and uncovers some a complicated World War Two era family mystery.

    The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah

    The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

    You know those books that you read and immediately start casting in your head? That's The Wedding Date. This meet-cute story has the best sexual chemistry of anything I read this year. And the author casually and real-ly tells the story of how complicated interracial relationships can get... and fast. Read this before it hits the big screen. (And her second book, The Proposal is also super fun.)

    The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

    Love and Ruin by Paula McLain
    I picked up Love and Ruin because I've got a twisted romantic thing for Hemingway. This book tells the story of how he met his third wife, but focusing on him (let's face it, he's an asshole even if he's fascinating) gets this book all wrong. It's the incredible true story of Martha Gellhorn, trailblazing war correspondent and author. She was the only woman on the beach for D-Day. Wild. She loves Hemingway, but she doesn't allow him to hinder her career or wreck her self-esteem -- and that, that is the real story of this dazzling romance.

    Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

    Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
    Growing up in Tampa, surrounded by Cubans and Cuban lore, I've always been fascinated by Havana. Last year, I visited Cuba and got to know it on a deeper level. Suffice to say, it's complicated. What an incredible place. Incredible people. This book is told from the point of view of a Miami-raised travel journalist who is set to visit Cuba for the first time, to covertly distribute her beloved grandmother's ashes. The story bounces back and forth between modern day and her grandmother's story during the revolution. As I found when I visited, the truth lies somewhere in between... and is always interesting. Read the book, and visit when you can.

    Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

    The Lido by Libby Page
    Even though The Lido was on my to-read list for most of the year, I kept pushing it off. After all, an intergenerational friendship between an 80-something woman and a 20-something woman sounded sweet... but I don't know, wasn't zooming to the top of my interests (after a decade in-house at AARP, maybe it felt a little too close to the work day.) But, this story is so much more than cloyingly sweet. It's the tale of a bad ass woman who survived the bombings of London in World War Two only to meet modern day gentrification slowly erasing the neighborhood she's known her whole life. That, plus friendship, love and an epic David and Goliath battle (via a Facebook page.)

    The Lido by Libby Page
    How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
    This book felt like the antidote to 2018. It's so adorable... it's unironically just lovely. You'll want to book a flight to England and immerse in a small town bookstore. Multiple tales weave through the story, centering on this bookshop just after it's beloved owner passes away. Read it when you need to smile and believe in love.

    How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

    Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
    My friend Paige recommended this novel, set in 1940's Barcelona. Having recently visited, I loved immersing back in the streets (and spent a lot of this book Googling places I want to wander on my next visits to Barcelona and Paris.) But, you quickly get sucked into this mystery where a tween boy seeks to unravel what happened to an elusive (and possibly dead) author.

    Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
    The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
    Four children sneak a visit to a fortune teller, who privately tells each the exact date they will die. If you knew, would you live your life differently? Would you even believe in what she told you?

    The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
    I'll have more lists for you in the coming days, but if you only read these ten books in one year, you'd be doing really well.

    Also of note, I really went out of my way this year to read books by women of color. While 35% of my total 100 books were written by authors of color, you'll note that more than half of my faves were... so, get outside of your comfort zone and try new authors who write authentically from their perspectives. I'll now read anything by these new faves: Tayari Jones, Jasmine Guillory, Erika Sanchez, Ann Mah, Samin Nosrat, Mary H.K Choi, Alyssa Cole, Jenny Han, and Helen Hoang.

    Here's a link to all 100 books I read in 2018 - and my strategies to consume so many!

    NOTE: Links take you to Amazon to buy (where I could potentially earn pennies via Amazon Associates,) but I encourage you to support your local bookstores and libraries. Almost all of the books I read this year were checked out from the DC Public Library. 


    100 Books in One Year: The Challenge and Full List

    I started 2018 needing an escape from the constant bad news coming from my phone and TV. I needed to immerse in something that took my mind offline. When I saw my friend Erin Ruberry give herself a goal of reading 100 books in 2018, I decided to join her. I figured I might make it to 50 - which was still a lot more than I'd read in recent years.
    Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton, read in Cheapside Cafe in Cincinnati
    The 100 books in a year challenge became more of a solace than I could have imagined. I'm a fast reader, but still, this is a lot. Here's how I tackled it:
    • Mornings: In the mornings before 8:30am, I put my phone away and read. At least one chapter - but that was usually enough to suck me into a few more.
    • Nighttime: Before bed - again, put the phone away and read at least once chapter. Plenty of times, I got sucked in and read longer. But many others, I got sleepy and rested well without the glow of a screen. Spoiler alert: I also slept better.
    • Print vs Audio: I love reading fiction in print book form... but non-fiction is less engaging to me. So, I decided early on - fiction would be paper, nonfiction would be audiobook. This allowed me to listen during travel, commutes, light tasks and errands - doubling my book intake per week.
    • Libraries, Amazon & Bookstores: This many books could also be very expensive, so I made the conscious decision to switch to the library. Almost all of these books were checked out for free from the DC Public Library. I go online, request a book and they email me when it's at my local library for pick up - or it downloads to their Libby audio app. A few came from Amazon. Still more from my beloved nearby bookstore, Politics and Prose.
    Here's the full list:

    100 Books in 2018
    Note: * starred books denote my favorite reads of the year
    1. What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
    2. The Stars in Our Eyes by Julie Klam
    3. Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
    4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
    5. Together We Rise: The Women's March
    6. Green by Sam Graham-Felsen
    7. Paris for One by JoJo Moyes
    8. Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker*
    9. Real Love by Sharon Salzberg*
    10. Swing Time by Zadie Smith
    11. The Power of Onlyness by Nilofer Merchant
    12. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
    13. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
    14. Hunger by Roxane Gay
    15. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
    16. Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
    17. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones*
    18. The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
    19. The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
    20. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
    21. Spinster by Kate Bolick
    22. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo
    23. Just the Funny Parts by Nell Scovell
    24. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory*
    25. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
    26. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin*
    27. Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel*
    28. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
    29. Unbelievable by Katy Tur*
    30. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
    31. Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer
    32. Surf Travel: The Complete Guide
    33. We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
    34. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
    35. Serving Pleasure by Alisha Rai
    36. Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat*
    37. Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole
    38. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
    39. Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber*
    40. A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
    41. Brotopia by Emily Chang
    42. Life and Death in the Sunshine State by Cutter Wood
    43. The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America by Tamara Winfrey Harris
    44. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
    45. Dear Madam President by Jennifer Palmieri*
    46. The World As it Is by Ben Rhodes
    47. The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah*
    48. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
    49. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón*
    50. Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li
    51. The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close
    52. Food Swings by Jessica Seinfeld
    53. Everything Trump Touches Dies by Rick Wilson*
    54. How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry*
    55. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton*
    56. No One Tells Your This by Glynnis MacNicol
    57. How Hard Can it Be? by Allison Pearson
    58. Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley
    59. The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer*
    60. Burn for Burn by Jenny Han
    61. Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer*
    62. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
    63. Evicted by Matthew Desmond
    64. I'll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable
    65. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
    66. The Intermission by Elyssa Friedland*
    67. The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
    68. When Life Gives You Lululemons by Liane Weisberger
    69. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez*
    70. The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea by Jack E. Davis
    71. Shug by Jenny Han
    72. We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    73. Educated by Tara Westover
    74. Love and Ruin by Paula McLain*
    75. Fire With Fire by Jenny Han
    76. Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger by Rebecca Traister*
    77. Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han
    78. The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson
    79. Pie Squared by Cathy Barrow
    80. The Lido by Libby Page*
    81. God Save Texas by Lawrence Wright
    82. I'm Not a Tractor! How Florida Farmworkers Took on the Fast Food Giants and Won by Susan L. Marquis
    83. Wine Folly: The Master Guide by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack
    84. The Power by Naomi Alderman
    85. Exit West by Moshin Hamid
    86. This Is Only Going to Hurt a Little by Busy Phillips* (highly rec audiobook version)
    87. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory*
    88. Becoming by Michelle Obama (highly rec audiobook version)
    89. Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi*
    90. Buttermilk Graffiti by Chef Edward Lee (currently reading)
    91. From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein*
    92. Florida by Lauren Groff
    93. We Fed An Island by Chef Jose Andres (highly rec audiobook version)
    94. L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making Paris My Home by David Lebovitz
    95. Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward (highly rec audiobook version)
    96. Loving Bravely by Alexandra H. Soloman, PhD
    97. Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan
    98. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
    99. The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes by Bryan Burrough
    100. Read by Strangers by Philip Dean Walker
    101. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Start Up by John Carreyou

    A few fun stats:
    • over 80% women authors
    • over 35% diverse authors
    • eight by former Obama White House staff members
    Learn more about my favorite top ten novels here or follow on Instagram for real time reads.

    Next year, I think I'm considering the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.

    Where to Eat, Drink & Stay in Cincinnati

    I refused to believe that all Cincinnati had to offer from a culinary perspective was Skyline Chili. Listen, I'm sure it's fine. But, this is a modern, emerging town, full of artists, advocates and designers. There has to be good food here. 

    So, I put out a call to my friends and the recommendations came rolling in. I'm going to share a few of the places I loved -- and also the spots that are next on my to-do list. Because 48 hours isn't enough to get to know this city. I'll be back.
    Alleyway art at 21C Museum Hotel in Cincinnati
    Where to Stay: 21C Museum Hotel
    Is it a hotel within a museum or a museum within a hotel? Who knows? But, 21C is a mash up of sweet - cool - fun. Creatively designed spaces abound in this hotel concept. While I stayed there, the exhibit was called The Future is Female and featured amazing women artists. 

    I was greeted by 21C's friendly staff and an upgraded room. They gave me a choice of a quieter interior room or a view of the city. (I choose city view and woke up to gorgeous sunrises.) The beds were comfortable, there were tons of outlets, fast wifi and great bathroom products. 
    Room at 21C Museum Hotel in Cincinnati
    If you're not staying at the hotel, you can still visit the exhibit, the gift store and Metropole, the  restaurant in the lobby.
    21C Museum Hotel is located at 609 Walnut Street.

    Where to Happy Hour: Kaze in Over-The-Rhine
    If the weather works, escape to the patio at Kaze Sushi Bar & Gastro Pub for happy hour. I had $5 rosé, spicy tuna rolls and yellowtail nigiri, all while meeting a fabulous group of women who have made Cincinnati home. There were actually three of them who had moved there from DC. 
    Kaze OTR is located at 1400 Vine Street.

    Happy hour with some amazing women in Cincinnati
    Where to Get Breakfast: Cheapside Cafe
    This spot is SO CUTE. Before I get to the food and coffee, can we talk about the design aesthetic? It's all weathered white wood and air plants. I wanted to immerse myself in there all day... but clients called. So, I ordered a perfect latte and an incredible breakfast sandwich that layered egg, bacon and pimento cheese. I know, dead. It was Instagram egg porn for days.
    Egg, bacon and pimiento cheese breakfast sandwich at Cheapside Cafe
    All that, plus a great outdoor patio for upcoming fall mornings. Don't. Miss. This. Spot.
    Cheapside Cafe is located at 326 East 8th Street.

    Where to Get To Go Lunch: Allez Bakery
    Allez Bakery is owned by family of DC's Nikki Rappaport, so I had to stop by. They have amazing breads and sandwiches. I grabbed two to-go to bring my client for lunch. We had the chicken salad and the jerk tofu (at the recommendation of the baker.) Both were delicious.
    Allez Bakery in Cincinnati
    If I was in Cincinnati just for fun, I'd say, pick up sandwiches from Allez and then go on a wander to see how many amazing works of street art you can find. It's a heck of a way to spend the day.
    Allez Bakery is located at 1208 Main Street.

    My To Do List Next Time:
    • Sundry & Vine for craft cocktails 
    • Venice on Vine for perfect pizza and supporting a great cause, job training and placement 
    • Salazar for seasonal farm-focused menu by Chef Jose Salazar
    • Ché for Argentinian grilled meats, salads and sides
    • Please for gorgeous plates and a neat back garden bar with craft cocktails
    • Sotto for Italian eats and wine in an underground, downtown hideaway
    • Boca for seasonal plates by Chef David Falk
    • Rooted Juicery for smoothies, bowls and other delicious, but healthy bites
    Got recs? Leave them in the comments!


    Best Places to Co-Work in Tampa Bay

    I was born and raised in Tampa, but I've lived in Washington, DC for nearly twenty years. When I'm in Tampa for an extended period of time, I'm constantly scoping out places to work. Coffee shops, bars, dedicated co-work spaces. Here's what I found on my last trip:

    Day One: Commerce Club at Oxford Exchange
    I love the design of Oxford Exchange, so this was tops on my list and the first place I went this week. But, guess what - there's no public wifi to work from Oxford Exchange. For that, you'll get sent upstairs to their paid ($15 day pass) co-working space, Commerce Club. The light and facilities are gorgeous, and you can order lunch from Oxford Exchange to be delivered to you. There are also several gorgeous conference room spaces to rent.

    The downside, from my perspective is that it was sooooo quiet. There were a handful of other people working from there, but no one spoke or looked up. I think that works for some people's brains, but mine needs a bit more external stimulation.

    Great spot to work from, particularly if you're downtown and want total silence.

    Day Two: Station House, St. Petersburg
    I immediately vibed with the Station House style when I walked in the door. In the entry, there is a coffee shop, several hang out locations and conference rooms - and fun music. For wifi access, I paid for the day pass ($20) and took a tour of the space. On the fourth and fifth floors, there are a lot of indoor and outdoor work spaces with a fun vibe. And people talked to each other.

    I also had an incredible katsu chicken sandwich for lunch at Ichicoro Ane which is located in the basement.  Everyone was incredibly friendly. If I was in St. Pete more often, I'd hang here. As it is, I'm usually more in Tampa, so I'm excited for their upcoming Hyde Park location.

    If you are a social-creative, you'll love this spot.

    Day Three: Blind Tiger SoHo
    At home in DC, I often choose coffee shops or hotel lobbies over co-working spots, so I decided to focus on these locations next. I had a coffee meeting with an old colleague at Blind Tiger Coffee on South Howard.

    It was the best cup of coffee I had while in the area. And, after my meeting I ended up staying for another hour working. Their wifi was solid and I didn't have to pay a day rate to hang. There were also other creatives working from there which lent a buzzy vibe that helps me get more done.

    Perfect low maintenance go-to spot when in South Tampa

    Day Four: Union Coffee at Armature Works 
    I was meeting a friend for lunch and arrived early, so I found a perch at Union Coffee & Tea Bar. I love Armature Works, so this was a great spot to hang for a bit. But, I think if I was to stay longer, I'd want to sit outside on a nice day or grab one of the comfy couches.

    Just avoid trying to co-work during the lunch rush or you'll end up fighting for tables with dozens of moms in yoga pants with giant strollers.

    It got so jammed that I jumped ship...

    Awesome lighting and work space - as long as you're not there during lunch or dinner rush.

    Day Four, Part Two: DI Coffee Shop
    My friend Grace told me her favorite spot to work was DI Coffee Shop on Davis Island, so I zipped over the bridge. It was pretty perfect for me - good coffee, snacks, tons of seating areas that work well for laptops, a good amount of people, but not mobbed.

    Of all of the coffee shops I visited on this trip, this is the one I could see myself working from most often.

    Chill vibes, large farmhouse work tables, interesting people and good tunes.

    It looks like I'll be back in Florida to do some work this fall. Let me know what spots I should check out next.


    Financial Resolutions: Tips, Tricks and People to Learn From

    I'm in a lot of Facebook and Google groups filled with smart, savvy, funny, successful lady friends. With the new year approaching, the conversation has turned to resolutions and goals. Financial goals keep surfacing -- making our businesses more profitable, paying down debt, saving for down payments and planning for retirement. Even setting a big goal like "travel to _____" can be a big finance plan to devise.
    Repeat. After, Me.
    So, what should we be doing differently? How can we encourage ourselves and each other to make the right choices? I asked that question to friends and followers and have been getting great advice, so I'll share the "best of" here. Tweet me @tammy or leave a comment below if you've got one to add to the list.

    Habit Hacks

    Smart Reads 
    • The Financial Diet comes out January 2nd -- just in time for resolution reinforcement. Lily Herman, one of my faves to follow on Twitter, recommended it. I'm also going to follow authors, Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage, on Twitter. I think surrounding myself with smart women in my newsfeed helps me up my game and holds me more accountable. [NOTE: Chelsea just gave me a heads up that an Audible version is coming soon. I'll update here when it's buyable!]
    • In 2017, on the advice of my business manager Sherrell Martin, I read Profit First. I think implementing this in 2018 will help my business become not just a revenue-generator, but also a profitable business for me personally. 
    • NPR has a great series called Your Money and Your Life
    Reduce Shopping & Impulse Buys
    • A friend of mine who's worked for financial clients for over a decade says, when you get a bonus or unexpected check, "use the rule of thirds - 1/3 to savings, 1/3 to pay off debt and 1/3 to do something fun." 
    • Read Ann Patchett's "My Year of No Shopping."
    • In 2017, I downsized my closet by over ten garbage bags of clothes. When I held each piece and thought about whether or not it brought me joy, I learned that what brings me joy are a great fitting pair of jeans, a baby soft t-shirt, a warm alpaca sweater. And, I'm not mad that they are almost all black or grey. I love it. But, sometimes, I need more -- for work, an event or just a trend I want to try. So, I use Rent the Runway Unlimited. I check clothes in and out like they are Netflix movies. Fancy dresses for weddings, savvy professional dresses for big meetings, expensive wool coats I can't afford and trendy fun dresses for going out. But, after one wear, I pop them back to RTR and move on. And, I don't miss them. If I did, I could check them back out again. Also, I think it's psychologically deprogramming me from that "buy" rush.
    Travel Hacks
    • Seeing the world - and my friends - is very important to me. But, travel can be expensive. The brilliant Nisha Chittal (who I met back when she ran social for Travel Channel), turned me on to Scott's Flight Deals. Whether you want to travel to Florida or Fiji, Scott emails you when prices drop, tells you the savings, and approximately how long the deal might be live. I've found it's a great way to plan for big trips -- and spur of the moment whims. I sprung for the paid version, which allows me to customize my departure airports (and cut down on email clutter for deals that don't appeal to me.)

    Invest Like a Lady

    • Look, women have different financial needs and life cycles than men. So, it only makes sense to financial plan for those things. Ellevest is a company that helps you do just that (and it's founded by the fabulous Sallie Krawcheck, former head of Morgan Stanley and Smith Barney.) One of the things that I'm overdue for is consolidating my 401(k)s from past jobs... and figuring out how to invest as a self-employed business owner... and potentially figuring out solutions for my team members to financially plan. I'm planning on starting out this with Ellevest in January.

    Podcasts to Play
    Folks to Follow 
    Groups for Good Decision Making


    The Definitive #DCChristmasChallenge Holiday To Do List

    Washington, DC is magical around the holidays. And, it's not just because the politicians tend to go home. There are so many incredibly creative and fun things to do!

    I had to make a list. The. List. The starting gun goes off December 1st (ok, November 30th at midnight) - see how many you can do!
    The Whobilation at Miracle on Seventh Street
    The Model Train Bar at Miracle on Seventh Street (look up!)
    How many do you think I'll make? You? Tweet me updates, recommendations and things I should add at @tammy. Tag your pics with #DCChristmasChallenge to play along.