Life Recently: Late Summer Edition

Hi friends,

Summer certainly came and went in an instant, am I right? Mine was … ummm … interesting. There were a lot of things that happened with my family this summer that kept me busy, but along the way we still managed to have lots of NYC fun and, thanks to our plethora of weddings this fall, I was able to spend a lot of time with friends at multiple bachelorette parties and other fun events.

Here’s a bit of what’s been going on, according to my iPhone:

photo 13^^^ The gorgeous gardens at The Cloisters.

photo 12^^^ Drinks on The Refinery Hotel‘s rooftop.

photo 11^^^ Soaring high above New York City on our helicopter tour with HeliNY Tours.

photo 10^^^ Witnessing a stand-off between Penny and my friend’s cat Libbie, who Penny will be spending a lot of time with when Chris and I travel later this Fall. Hopefully they’ll eventually get on better than this photo suggests!

photo 9^^^ A little silly fun at a friend’s beautiful Red Maple Vineyard wedding over Labor Day weekend.

photo 8^^^ The amazing pink sky and white moon, as seen from my parents’ front yard. No filter needed, my friends. Amazing.

photo 7^^^ Taking a little stroll along the Hudson to The Boat Basin Cafe when a friend came for a visit.

photo 6^^^ We never got to walk the Brooklyn Bridge like we wanted to, but we did get to drive over it in a taxi ;)

photo 5^^^ Being a Broadway Baby with Lisa on our way to see This Is Our Youth.

photo 4^^^ For one of the bachelorette parties I attended this summer, we decorated our hotel room with Hawaiian-themed decor and wore tacky Hawaiian shirts, because this particular friend spent three years living there. We did a pretty dang good job, if I do say so myself!

photo 3^^^ While nightclubs certainly aren’t my thing on a regular basis, chillin’ with some old friends from high school for a couple nights at some were a lot of fun.

photo 2^^^ Atlantic City turned it on for us during one friend’s bachelorette. The weather was amazing, and we had a ton of fun.

photo 1^^^ Andddd … my little sister is engaged! ‘Nuff said ;)

And with that, I release you, summer 2014, into perpetuity. Here’s to fall. And amazing travel plans. And cooler weather. And tights and boots and sweaters and scarves. Here’s to new beginnings and saying goodbye (for now!) to friends and beloved places.

Sigh.

The Year 2013: A Review

Hi friends,

Well it’s that time of year again — the one where everyone takes a couple minutes to take stock of how the past 12 months have gone? This year has been a particularly important one for myself and Chris. It was our first year of married life. It was a year spent celebrating our marriage around the world with family and friends. It was a year that we made some pretty big decisions about our future (not yet shared here!), and one that had a lot of amazing traveling in it …

February
In February we took an amazing weekend trip to Tarrytown for our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple, where I had one of my absolute favorite meals of this entire year.

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March
In March I took a relaxing trip to visit my best friend in D.C., where we practiced wedding makeup for Chris and my upcoming wedding party in April.

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April
April was a holy-cow-of-a-month for us! First, I turned 30 (ah!), and we celebrated with a gorgeous hike up Breakneck Ridge with friends.

Thanks for going along with my crazy idea, gang!

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Holy rock climbing!

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Then Chris’s parents came for a visit, and we all took a trip to London so that Chris could run the 5th race in his World Marathon series.

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Geared up!

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We also celebrated our marriage at Magnanini Winery in upstate NY with friends and family in April, but I didn’t blog about that because I didn’t have photos for a long time. I have them now, though! Here are some of my faves.

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June
In June we celebrated our wedding in Jersey with some close friends and family. Here are some of my favorite shots from that party:

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July
In July we took a trip out to Charlotte, N.C. and Arizona to visit an old, old friend of mine.

^^Bloody Mary's in Charlotte on our pit stop to Phoenix.

^^Man and wilderness.

^^Cheers to you, Arizona!

^^Bye-bye Sedona. It's been real.

^^Canyon Breeze views.

^^Sedona hike--unbelievable.

^^Catching up with the person who is probably my oldest friend.

^^Shrimp tacos=heavenly.

August
In August I took another trip back down to D.C. for a “sprinkle” baby celebration …

^^The beginning stages of lemon bars. Can you say yum?!

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^^ Blueberry Crumble for the dessert bar.

^^We also made these to-die-for apple crumble bar with cinnamon. The sign in the back was a piece of corkboard that Lisa painted with chalkboard paint and strung some twine across. People wrote notes on little cards and placed them on the twin for Alison and her new baby boy.

and we visited what has now become our new favorite upstate winery — Warwick Valley Winery.

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Summer Happenings
I feel like I should take a moment to pay homage to all of the activities we took part in this summer that were right here in New York City, like seeing Shakespeare in the Park, hosting my nephew’s very first trip to NYC, riding bikes through the park, seeing the NY Philharmonic in the park (are you sensing a “park” theme?!), checking out the Met, going for a sail from Pier 25 on the west side and strolling around DUMBO, Brooklyn … to name a few.

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^^ I seriously forgot how many hills there are in Central Park. I had to take a break about 3/4 of the way through.

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^^Stolen from Istagram, thank you very much.

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^^ So -- what's the theme? Can ya tell? Hint: I'm wearing a red wig!

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^^ Freshman year JMU roommates -- go Dukes!

September
September was another busy month for us. First we took the ferry out to Governor’s Island to go exploring.

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^^ Carousel ahead!

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We also headed to St. Augustine, Florida for the Gentleman of the Road Mumford & Sons tour for Chris’s Super Secret 30th Birthday Trip … (also talked about here)

^^View from the Beachcomber. Not too shabby.

^^Chris with the Castillo de San Marcos fort in the background.

^^Check out all the wrist tags we needed! Shuttle. Concert. Drinks. Boat. Check!

^^This last photo was actually from Saturday night's show when Mumford was playing and it was lightning in the background. But we'll get to that ...

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October
We headed to Australia (also here) at the end of September and into October to celebrate our wedding with Chris’s side of the family, as well as to take a honeymoon trip to The Great Barrier Reef.

^^What bride gets to wear her wedding dress three times? This one, that's who!

^^ Mom and baby. Man I'll never stop loving it when I see these guys!

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^^ The Sydney Harbour's a real beaut - isn't she?

November
I headed to the suburbs of Philly in November to visit an old friend and her family, and we took a trip out to the Philadelphia Zoo while I was there …

^^ I was about to delete this photo of the Clown Fish because I had better ones, until I saw the Fish Photo Bomb.

^^ This little guy is a Red Panda, and she'll be making an appearance in my children's book very soon!

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^^ Rhino!

and we celebrated Thanksgiving in both Newburgh and New Jersey.

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December
This month we surprised my stepdad with a Super Secret weekend trip to Syracuse, his alma mater, for his 50th birthday.

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And we took a Christmas trip to Stowe, Vermont with some family

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And that about sums up 2013, friends! On the docket for 2014 so far is …

  • A trip to Saratoga Springs the first weekend in January to celebrate our one year anniversary. I’m particularly excited about the hotel where we’ll be staying — Saratoga Arms it’s gotten amazing reviews.
  • Iceland in February!
  • Denver in April with my sister and her boyfriend
  • A trip out to Cape Cod for a friend’s wedding (not to mention lots of other friends’ weddings scattered throughout the year!)
  • A potential 1.5-3 month trip in South America at the end of the year. Lots more on this to come.

Bis bald, friends! And may your new year be filled with fun travels, great friends and awesome experiences!

Link Love: Week of Nov. 18

Linkes_I_Love

Hi friends,

Hope everyone’s gearing up for an amazing Thanksgiving. This is most definitely my favorite time of year, and I’m finding it hard to stop myself from buying up all the thick tights, sparkly skirts and fun jewelry that I come across.

Of course, when I come across travel deals that I’d love to splurge on, it’s much easier for me to tuck that credit card back into my wallet and save up for some faraway destination ….

Speaking of which, here are five great deals I’ve seen across the web this week:

  1. 7-night land package to the Galapagos Islands, from $1,299 (Travelzoo)
  2. $60-worth of wine and food at Bahr Che in New York, $30 (TravelZoo)
  3. 2-night stay for two at the Banff Caribou Lodge & Spa, $219 (Living Social)
  4. 6-day trip to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day, including round-trip flights from Boston, Chicago, LA, NYC or DC, from $1,499 (Living Social)
  5. 1-night stay for two at the Mount Airy Casino Resort in The Paconos, PA, $99 (Groupon)

In the spirit of the celebratory season, I thought I’d also share a couple of the wedding photos my mother-in-law just sent us through from our party at the Algona Mount Panorama Estate in Bathurst, Australia.

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Bis bald, friends!

Photo via Flickr

Our Aussie Wedding Extravaganza!

Hi friends,

So we’re back home safe and sound (booo!), and things here have been a bit hectic since we landed. (You can thank our cat and her terrible lungs, which have now been fixed, thanks to the surgical team at the Animal Medical Hospital and our dwindling bank account!)

Anyway, I finally have some time to blog today, so I’ve upgraded to a better photo package which hopefully should keep me blogging for the next couple of years. Fingers crossed!

Back to our epic adventure, this trip really was separated into three parts:

  1. Our time spent in Bathurst with all of our amazing friends and family for our (fourth!) wedding celebration and the baptism of our niece/Goddaughter
  2. Our honeymoon at the Great Barrier Reef
  3. Our last weekend in Sydney before we left, which just so happened to coincide with the International Fleet Review where over 20 ships from around the world docked in Sydney Harbour. (Plus they had the largest fireworks show Australia has ever seen … and Prince Harry was there!)

As I like to do (to keep the trip lasting longer, and to stop your eyes from glazing over at one ginormous post), I’m going to break my blogging about this trip into the three sections accordingly.

So back to last Tuesday, we had boarded a Qantas flight to Australia …

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Warwick Valley Winery

Hi friends,

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Chris and I headed upstate to visit my sister’s new place, as well as to try out a new winery — the Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery. My aunt and uncle met us there (they actually only live a couple miles away), and it was such a great day. By now we’ve been to quite a few wineries in the upstate area, and I’d have to say this one was by far our favorite so far. It was pretty packed, but it’s not hard to see why. They had live music, there’s a cafe with really good food and the grounds are gorgeous. They even have an apple orchard where you can pick apples in the fall [or, you know, before the fall, if you're my family :)] and horses. When we went on Saturday they were setting up for a 6 p.m. wedding, and I can only imagine how gorgeous that would have been.

The tastings are $5, and you get 6 of their wines and you keep the glass.

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^^ Apple picking starts at the end of August!

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^^We fed some of our contraband apples to the horses.

^^We fed our contraband apples to the horses.

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^^Squirreling apples away in my pocket.

^^Squirreling apples away in my pocket.

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^^The food there was so good! You gotta try the pizza ...

^^The food there was so good! You gotta try the pizza …

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^^ Look at this adorable pair ;)

^^ Look at this adorable pair ;)

After spending the weekend away, Chris and I caught the train home from Beacon, which offers gorgeous views of the Hudson River and happens to have a cute little Farmers Market on Sundays …

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^^ Oh my goodness I love a good pickle!

^^ Oh my goodness I love a good pickle!

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And that was our weekend! I would highly, highly recommend a trip to Warwick Valley Winery if you’re in the area — you seriously won’t be disappointed!

Bis bald, friends!

London 2013 and Chris’s 5th World Marathon Complete!

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Oh hey there, London.

Hi friends!

Oh. My. Goodness. What a whirlwind! So Chris and I just said farewell to his parents who, luckily, we’ll be seeing again for our wedding celebration in Australia in just five months. This apartment always feels so sad and lonely when they leave.

While they were here we took a trip to London, Chris ran the marathon and we headed upstate for a little Magnanini Winery wedding celebration with my mom’s side of the family.

It was a fast and furious two weeks, to say the least!

And that’s why I’m a tad late on my London posting. Of course it’s nowhere near faded from memory yet, but I do like to get my thoughts down on the blog as soon as possible, so I don’t leave any details out.

So about that, it was late last Thursday when we left for our little journey ….

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Where the Weather Was Good…

A lovely fall day at a winery in Virginia.

Hey friends,

So back in New York City things are … not so good. I mean, for myself and Chris–we’re pretty lucky. We never lost power or internet, our apartment was never flooded and things have pretty much gone on as usual. However, less than a few miles away we know things are much, much different. My heart just pours out to everyone who has lost friends and loved ones, valued possessions or entire homes. It’s just so horrible. Climate change–it’s really something to think about, isn’t it?

Chris has been working from home this whole week since the power is out at his office, but they hope to return on Monday. The New York City marathon, as of right now, will still happen Sunday and word on the street is the power will back on for everyone in Manhattan by Saturday evening.

In an effort to starting returning all things to normal, I thought I’d go ahead and blog about last weekend, when we were having a blast at JMU homecoming in Virginia.

So here’s to happy, warm weather memories …

Last Friday Chris and I set off to La Guardia to pick up our rental car at around 6:30 in the morning. We had about a 6 hour drive ahead of us to Stanley, Virginia, and we were eager to get started. Since we couldn’t check in to our log cabin (which was ahhhhmazing, by the way! More on that later!), the plan was for all of us to meet up at a local winery I had found, Wisteria, which was about a 10 minute drive away from where we’d be staying.

Chris, my cousin Alyssa, her boyfriend Jesse and myself were the first to arrive at the winery, and it was exactly as I would have wanted it to be. Cute. Charming. Low-key. Tasty wine. The owners–a retired husband and wife–opened the winery a few years back. Their two dogs, chickens, roosters and flock of sheep live on the property (which you know I loved), as well.

After our wine tasting ($12 per person for a tasting of 12 wines and a glass…gotta love VA!), we all congregated on a bench outside with some purchased bottles to take in the scenery and chat:

After our cute little vineyard tour, we all hopped in our cars and headed off to the cabin. Of course I had seen the photos on the website, and I had verified (multiple times) that the cabin we were getting was the one in the photos, but still, you can never be sure.

But let me tell you, my friends, we were not disappointed:

Our beer-stocked fridge. We had food, too. Somewhere.

Our game room.

Our fire pit area, which Chris was obsessed with.

Cabin view from the fire pit.

The hot tub in the main bedroom.

The 8-person hot tub on the porch. Of course when we put 8 people in it, it overflowed just a bit. But you know, no big deal.

One view of our wrap-around porch.

The awesome grill, which we only used once.

The other side of our porch, with the adorable wooden rocking chairs and cute little Checkers table.

The dining room.

The kitchen in use!

The living room.

Living room from the top floor balcony. There were three floors to the house, and 5 bedrooms total.

The top floor living room.

One of the bedrooms on the top floor.

Saturday morning breakfast of bagels, eggs, bacon and mimosas.

Our time at the cabin was mostly spent eating (we all took turns cooking), drinking, watching football, playing games in the game room, building fires in the fire pit, chilling in the hot tub (although somehow we only managed to do that Friday night) and playing beer pong and cards. It was an amazing time.

And on Saturday, Chris, Alyssa, Jesse and I headed to the JMU campus to catch the JMU football game and tailgate a bit.

They say this statue of James Madison is built to his actual height. What a cute little shorty.

Me and Carla, my freshman year roommate.

Now I hadn’t been back to the stadium since my first year out of school, but I knew they had done some remodeling. It was actually pretty impressive (as was our defeat to Georgia State!):

Purple-ing Out!

After the game we went to the book store and took a quick walk around campus, then headed back to the cabin, where we ate delicious shrimp fajitas, made a fire, played beer pong and cards, and where my sister and her friend Jenna had made a birthday cookie cake for Chris, whose birthday was last week.

On Sunday we were all pretty eager to head back to our homes as early as possible, since we all knew the storm was brewin’. So that was about it–our Virginia weekend in a nutshell. It was really fun, and I’d recommend this cabin to anyone looking for a quiet little retreat in the woods.

A word of caution though: if you do stay here, beware that the firewood bundles are $5 per bundle to use. Don’t go ahead and use them all up on the first night assuming they are free. Like Chris did.

Bis bald, friends! And if you were in any way affected by the storm, we’re thinking and praying for you!

Virginia Tomorrow–Let’s Do This!

Hey guys,

So we’re off to Stanley, VA tomorrow, where we rented an awesome little cabin in the woods with some friends and family. It’s got a porch hot tub, a big ole’ grill, rocking chairs and a game room. I am seriously so excited! I miss Virginia in the fall. And we’ll be heading to the Wisteria Vineyard on Friday before the cabin, too.

Not to mention the fact that we’ll be headed to JMU on Saturday to tailgate and catch the game:

Just me and the Duke Dog. Chillin.

Anyway, more photos and info to come when we get back.

In the meantime, though, check out Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudekis riding the exact same bikes that Chris and I did through the Villa Borghese park in Rome.

And check out my story on The Daily Meal about being a vegetarian in Germany.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Happy July 4th Weekend!

I hope you guys all have fantastic plans for the holiday weekend! Over on our end, Chris’s mom arrived in last night from Australia, and we couldn’t be happier to be hosting her. This is her first summer in the city (although her third visit in total), let alone her first July 4th. As such, Chris and I felt it was only proper to give her a real America weekend, complete with family, friends, and tons of fun, of course. Here’s our list of activities.

Friday: We’ll be renting a car so we can take a leisurely drive along the Jersey Shore (we’ll be starting with Sandy Hook and making our way down Ocean Avenue to get closer to my parents house).

Saturday: There is an undisclosed activity being planned by my step-mom (hi, Judy!), and hopefully some time to just chillax at the house and hang out in the great outdoors.

Sunday: We’ll take that sweet little rental car and head to upstate New York to link up with my mom and step-dad for some winery visits (you know how we love them!). Depending on how much time we have we’ll try to hit two or three, but we’ll definitely start our trek with Brotherhood, America’s oldest winery. Then we’ll head over to the Gilded Otter Brewing Company in New Paltz for dinner, then home for a little outdoor s’mores action.

Monday: On the actual holiday, we’ll be hanging out at my mom’s and step-dad’s, cooking up some delicious barbecue with the fam. Hopefully at some point we’ll be able to find some fireworks somewhere as well. The city fireworks start at 9:20 p.m., but I don’t think we’ll be back in enough time to find a good spot to camp out.

Anyway, that’s us! Plenty ‘o pictures and deets to come. Bis bald, and hope ya’ll have a great one!

The Shawangunk Wine Trail

 

Head upstate for the best fall foliage ever—and some pretty great wine trails

About a billion years ago I said that I would blog about our recent trip to some wineries on the Shawangunk Wine Trail in upstate New York. If you take a gorgeous fall day, add a designated driver (thanks Steph!) and some cheese, you’d have the makings of a perfect Shawangunk Wine Trail day.

 

We made our first stop at Brotherhood Winery (which, by the way, happens to be the oldest winery in the country. This is because Brotherhood managed to stay open during prohibition to provide wine for the churches in the area. Ah, a loophole!).

It was the first time that I had actually been to Brotherhood, but I would definitely recommend it for future vineyard-goers.

Our next stop was Brimstone Hill Vineyard and Winery which, while, while pretty (and only $2 to taste!), was totally forgettable, nonetheless. I’d vote to skip this one if you’re in the area, since there are tons of other prettier ones to see.

After Brimstone we hit up Whitecliff, which has by far the most spectacular view. Although Chris and I had already been to Whitecliff over the summer, we knew it was worth a second visit.

After spending about an hour sipping the Whitecliff wine special, chowing down on some local cheese and taking in the views, Steph, Chris and I headed out to our last stop— Baldwin Vineyards, where we met up with my mom and stepdad, as well. Baldwin just happened to have their wine and dessert festival going on during our trip, so we paid a $15 fee to match up seven different wines with about four or five different homemade desserts.

And so lastly, after a long day of vineyard hopping, we stopped for dinner at a fabulous little brewery in New Paltz called The Gilded Otter, where I had my first taste of pumpkin beer (delicious).

And so the sun set on Chris’s birthday, and on our first attempt to take on multiple Shawangunk Wine Trail vineyards. All in all, very successful, if I do say so myself.

Bis bald, friends! I’m back in Brooklyn this weekend dog sitting, so I’ll be sure to report on any fun things I find.