Instagram Follows: Jill Wagner @JillMarjeanWagner

Greetings from India!  Ken and I are at a friend’s YOLO wedding in Rajasthan, four hours north of Delhi.  We are having a blast (more to come), but in the meantime, check out the below interview with one of my favorite accounts to follow on Insta- @JillMarjeanWagner .  Think awesome travel photos and engaging/hysterical comments/questions.  Definitely worth the follow!  Check out more on Jill below (including a bunch of things we have in common)… enjoy!

 

 

 

How did you decide to start your IG account? Is it mostly a product of your love of travel?

 

I always thought I was terrible at photography.  The only photo I had on Instagram was a selfie a student stole my phone to take that is captioned “Favorite Student.”  Then I was in Barcelona and took a picture that looked ok, so I posted it.  Then I just kept going.  I was traveling alone and having people like and comment on my pictures made me feel like they were sharing a little piece of the journey with me and I wanted that to continue. I’m not really a natural introvert so it helped me adjust to being alone so much.  Then I started getting addicted…

 

 

 

 

Your pictures are amazing. What do you shoot with? Any tips/tricks/secrets you can share with our readers?

 

 

I shoot with an iPhone 7 because I’m too intimidated to learn how to use a camera for real.  And I don’t want to carry it.  I’m not really in the position to give tips, but for me the most important things are finding the right lighting and taking 300 pictures of everything from a million angles so at least one looks good.  I use the edit app in Instagram.

 

 

I love how your posts are a combo of pretty pictures and thought-provoking questions (that your followers love responding to…) How did this come about? Are the comments mostly constructive or do you have to go through and delete some?

 

I’m actually more into writing the captions than taking photos.  I used to do surveys on Facebook every day and they got a pretty big response.  I don’t have time to be addicted to two social media platforms and I chose Instagram. I love hearing from people around the world and a lot of the responses are very funny. The weirdos really shine in the DMs, not the comments.  A lot of people seem to get confused and think that they logged into Tinder.

 

 

 

 

Last year, you posted from every state in the US. How did this project come about? Was it easier/harder than you expected?

 

There are three reasons that I did the 50 state challenge. The first is that I was very depressed and needed to funnel it into a creative outlet.  The second is that I realized after the 2016 election that I had been living in an urban, liberal bubble and I had no idea what was going on in the rest of the country. The third is that my tourist visa for the EU expired and people on my Instagram were saying, “We’ll miss your pictures!”  That irritated me, because there are a lot of cool things in the U.S. too and I wanted to capture that.

 

It wasn’t hard, but I did get tired and discouraged a few times.  Once in a while I would think, “You are doing this for no reason.”  But I didn’t really have anything better going on, so I kept going.

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite way to travel? Do you have a steady group of travel buddies?

 

I’m a pretty unstructured traveler. I kind of just show up places and see what’s there.  I travel alone probably 90 percent of the time. I don’t know anyone else with my flexibility level, so I usually travel alone.

 

 

 

 

 

You’re half-Mexican. I’m half-Mexican. We’re both blond. Everyone gets taken aback when I tell them I’m half-Mexican… you?

 

It’s a pretty good addition to any game of “Two Truths and a Lie.” My backstory is that my ancestors were Mormon polygamists on the lam. Polygamy was keeping Utah from becoming a state in the 1800s, so they started a colony in Chihuahua. Most of them left Mexico because of the Mexican Revolution, but my family liked it and came back when it was over. My dad actually grew up in Mexico City and became a U.S. citizen when he married my mother.  For the record, I don’t have two mothers and I’m not personally down with polygamy.  I don’t mind watching the reality shows once in a while though.

 


How do you find new followers/expand your presence?

 

There are a lot of different methods and I’m always trying to think of more.  I usually tag my photos with feature accounts for wherever I took the picture and I get features fairly often. I got a lot of followers when I was in Tarragona, Spain when I was first starting and most of them still follow me.  I also got a decent influx after I had a feature on the Southern Living Magazine account.  I stopped making political jokes after that.  There are travel Instagram groups where you can post your account to get followers and every Friday the Instagram Reddit page has something similar.  When I first started to grow, I engaged like a maniac.  I got banned twice for liking too many photos in an hour when I was on Spanish trains.  It’s all kind of a weird experiment.  I know way too much about Instagram for a non-teen.

 

 

Any fun travel plans in 2018? What’s on your travel bucket list?

 

I’m in Mexico right now getting a problem in my spine fixed, because doing it here is saving me a ton of money.  I don’t know how long that will take.  I will be in the States for a few months over the summer, so I might hit some more National Parks, and will then be in Europe this fall.  Then, I will probably go to Indonesia and Malaysia to visit friends.  Three things on my bucket list are the Northern Lights, Jerusalem and South Africa.  I also want to go to San Cristobal de las Casas here in Mexico.  My dad and I tried to go when we were road tripping a few years ago and protestors had shut down the highway.  I read a book about it in college and it’s always been a goal.

 

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Thanks so much, Jill. Your spontaneity, sense of adventure, and beautiful photographs are inspiring!

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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Sotte le Stelle

Last weekend, we went on a family adventure to Queens to visit the Queens Museum. As we decided we wanted to have dinner on the way back, I researched hip but kid-friendly restaurants for an early dinner. We landed on Sotte le Stelle, which had rave reviews on Eater as the #3 hot spot in Queens.  And… pizza.  The new restaurant was DELICIOUS.

 

The restaurant only has 30 seats and is super small and cute. All of the waiters and staff are Italian, and super nice and friendly.

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NYC Fall To Do List 2017

HERE I GO AGAIN….another list, another set of goals…..

 

1. Go to a new restaurant each month.

 

We are spoiled in NYC with access to the best food and restaurants in the world. And yet, Ken and I have the tendency to go to the same three (who am I kidding, ONE) restaurant. So I want to make more of an effort and take advantage of all the great food around us.

 

There are over 850,000 (Thanks, Alexis) restaurants in NYC! So many types, cuisines, atmospheres, and experiences to try.

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2017 Chicago Marathon Recap

This past weekend, I ran my 8th marathon in Chicago. It was a terrific day but not a great race (or even run). It was super hard out on the course and I walked away disappointed and upset. I went in hopeful after a good training season with high mileage, fast speed runs, and a strong mental set….but for whatever reason, Sunday wasn’t my day and I didn’t do well. Without making any excuses, one thing after another happened — I had a side ache from the get go (and still have it!), my Nike App was totally off (it said I ran 27.5 miles so therefore was off the whole time, making me super confused…), I lost my caffeine gum, the top of my water bottle with my nutrition in it fell off, I sweat uncontrollably (it was 77 degrees), yada yada yada….nothing went well. And so I started to derail mentally, and thought I should quit because each step was hard on my side and nothing felt great – …..all of that to say, it was my hardest marathon to date, both mentally and physically. I clocked in a 3:33, but know I can do much better.

 

The trip was quick — I left Saturday morning at 9, and came back Sunday night at 930. Quick turn around, but happy to make it short and the marathon the focus of the weekend. Before I left for Chicago, I did lots of legs up the wall to help relax my body…

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Marathon Packing- Chicago Here I Come!

Tomorrow, I leave for Chicago for my marathon weekend. This time, I am going totally solo and will fly, run, and stay COMPLETELY alone. I am not sure what I am more nervous about; the 26.2 miles on Sunday, or the fact that I will be alone for 36 hours (I am not good alone for long periods of time). I know I have a bajillion friends and family to call, and I am actually staying at a runner friend’s extra apartment (I met her when running the 2015 Paris Marathon and stayed with her at the Chicago 2015 Marathon — and yes, that is only after meeting her once while running… runners are AWESOME), BUT BUT BUT, who am I going to wake up in the middle of the night to tell them I am nervous????? MY BABERS WILL NOT BE THERE TO TELL ME TO GO BACK TO SLEEP AND NOT TO WORRY. ***GULP**** In any case, I am packed and ready to go on my adventure. And here is what I packed.

 

This is of me, two years ago, eating dinner before the marathon. I am planning on eating there AGAIN. So cute and good. I look tired, because heck, I was most likely tired. And I probably look even worse now. ALSO, please note my red nail polish. It is a belief of mine to always have my nails painted BRIGHT red before marathons (mind you, my nails are almost painted red year round, but especially right before marathons), because my sister, Courtney, told me that it is a good reminder to “run like fire.” And so red nails, it is.

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Utah- Via Ferrata Climbing

Ken and I went to Utah this past weekend for a belated 10th anniversary celebration. And what a weekend it was — can’t rave enough about the extraordinary experience we had during our stay. It was to date, one of my favorite vacations and involved everything I love: adventure, exercise, beautiful sunny weather, nature, great food, and relaxing. One of my favorite activities was a climb in the mesas of the Canyon Valley of Southern Utah. The type of climb we did is called a Via Ferrata which involves steel rods / climbing ladders, and a steel cable that you are connected to. So yeah, JV type of climbing, but so fun and scary nonetheless!

 

This activity involved a guide, and I told the guide that we were both in good shape (#humblebrag) and wanted the hardest via ferrata climb that they had…..so look at the mesa we climbed. OY.

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Crater Lake, Oregon

Last week, we jumped into the car and drove to Crater Lake. Although I had gone as a child, I didn’t remember my experience and the trip had been on my to-do-list for several years. This year, I was determined to make it happen, and despite the long car ride (Thanks Pups for being our driver), it was INCREDIBLE. A MUST SEE. A MUST GO TO. A MUST A MUST A MUST.

 

On our drive South, we stopped at Watson Falls, for a quick hike and lunch pit stop. Oregon always blows me away with its natural beauty and divine power. We were all mesmerized with the water, the green, and Mother Earth.

On our drive South, we stopped at Watson Falls, for a quick hike and lunch pit stop. Oregon always blows me away with its natural beauty and divine power. We were all mesmerized with the water, the green, and Mother Earth.

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Sonoma 2017

We returned Sunday night from our Third Annual Sonoma Trip with a small group of our Stanford friends. It continues to be a wonderful tradition and something we look forward to each summer. If you have never been to wine country in CA before, I highly suggest doing it– beautiful vineyard views, hot dry weather, delicious farm-to-table-food, and of course… amazing local wine. Can life be any better? Thank you to our wonderful friends and hosts, Kimmers and Joe. Enjoy the photos — I want to go back now!

 

On our friend's property (100 acres!), they have many different houses / cabins spread out. We took over a cabin close to the main house and it was oh so cute (and yes, all four of us Natoris slept in the same bed for three nights!)

The guest house we stayed at on our friend’s property. We took over a cabin close to the main house and it was oh so cute (and all four of us Natoris slept in the same bed for three nights!)

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1st Week of Summer 2017 in Oregon

It is hard to believe that ten days ago, I was in NYC….it feels like I’ve been gone for months! My life in Oregon is quite simple, but it is easy, wonderful, and I love it. Here are some pictures of the past week – Enjoy!

 

We do a lot of biking in Eugene. My parents actually don't drive anywhere, they SOLELY bike. So we have fun biking around the river, picking the kids up from camp, or just doing errands. In this photo, I am with my daughter and my littlest niece, Nadia.

We do a lot of biking in Eugene. My parents actually don’t drive anywhere. So we have fun biking around the river, picking the kids up from camp, or just doing errands. In this photo, I am with my daughter and my littlest niece, Nadia. (My helmet is from Sawako Furono Helmets)

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Park City, Utah

It feels like a million years ago that we were on vacation with our dear friends in Deer Valley / Park City, Utah. In reality, it was just a week ago (another trip to the West Coast this weekend for my sister’s wedding sure makes time confusing). Deer Valley was the perfect ending to a fabulous summer, filled with lots of activities and simple family fun with great friends. Here is a recap of our trip with recommendations.. Deer Valley is a PERFECT summer getaway (particularly at the end of the summer after Utah schools start up… everything was empty which was perfect!)

 

Utah

Utah

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Oregon Coast 2016

This past weekend, the kids, parents and I went to the Oregon Coast to escape the hot temperatures of Eugene (in the 100s) and surround ourselves in the beauty of the Oregon Coast. We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed nature, and family (minus Ken, who was in New York). Take a look at the pictures.

 

The Oregon Coast is always much colder than inland .... which makes sense, but this past weekend it was 30 degrees colder. 30!!!!

The Oregon Coast is always much colder than inland …. which makes sense, but this past weekend it was 30 degrees colder. 30!!!!

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To-Do-Spring Wish List NYC 2016

It seems like 2016 just started; and yet, school is about to end. I can’t believe I only have 6 weeks to squeeze in everything I want to do in Spring in NYC. Better start…..yesterday! Here is my list. (For last year’s list, go here).

 

1. Go see Hamilton (again).

 

Yowsers, I can't stop raving about it.

Yowsers, I can’t stop raving about it.

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9/11 Memorial & Museum

Last Friday, I had the opportunity (and privilege) of visiting and touring the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. To say I was blown away is a true understatement. It took my breath away and has preoccupied my mind since. Mind you, I did not live in NYC during the 9/11 attacks, nor did I know anyone who was directly affected.  As a result, I had never been overly emotional about it.  But visiting the museum changed everything.

 

Freedom Tower

The power of the tallest building in the United States, The Freedom Tower. An eerie view from the memorial looking up to the sky.

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Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Even with Thanksgiving behind us, there is no such thing as TOO much pie! Especially pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds. Located in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn (439 3rd Avenue), this pie shop was founded in 2010 by sisters and pie makers Melissa and Emily Elsen. And my oh my, do they know how to bake! So scrumptious and delicious. So many choices to choose form.

outside

Outside the pie shop with old school gothic lettering.

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Etsy Holiday Shop

I love Etsy.  And I love pop-up shops.  So while I was on a three hour day-date with my better half last weekend in SoHo (best three hours EVER), I couldn’t have been more excited to stumble across the ETSY HOLIDAY SHOP!

the sign

The sign outside of the store. This is what immediately got my attention.

For those of you unfamiliar with Etsy, it is a website that allows local artisans and merchants to sell handmade or vintage items to a broad community.  It is a great one-stop shop for anything homemade, and it is a terrific place to find unique gifts.  The holiday store does a great job of bringing that web concept to brick-and-mortar.  As described on the site, “Imagine a magical place where you can shop directly from the collections of guest curators, meet the artists and collectors of the marketplace in person, learn to make something with your own two hands, and enlist the help of a whole squad of Etsy experts for your gift list. It’s Etsy in real life!” So true, and so magical.  But unfortunately, the shop is closing this Saturday (December 8th)…. so go now!

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Orchids

There is nothing more beautiful than a fresh, crisp orchid in the house. Problem is, orchids from florists tend to be expensive – easily between $100 and $200. And if you are anything like me, no matter how well you try to care for the orchid, their life expectancy is a month, 6 weeks at best. So, if you live in New York, the flower district on West 28th street is the best deal in town! Not only are there beautiful fresh flowers for you to choose from (all event planners go to 28th street to get their flowers for events), but they sell the most affordable and beautiful orchids in the city! AND THEY DELIVER!

aisles of orchids

Rows upon rows of orchids in every color, size, and style.

Although most of the stores in the flower district deliver, it also makes for a fun early morning adventure to see all the colorful flowers, holiday plants, and New York Flavor.

my little buddy

My little buddy on our search for the perfect flowers and orchids.

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