From New York to Philly to Virginia & Back — a Trip East With My Little

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^^ The most amazing turnout — with the most amazing group of women — for the MS fundraiser in honor of my Mom.

Heya friends,

So we’re back from our monster trip east, and Lotte & I had an amazing time. We saw so much family and so many friends, we covered miles & miles & miles in the car together (one of these days I’ll have to actually sit down and see how many miles we really drove), Lotte saw her first monuments in D.C., she spent tons of quality time with her Philly cousins, she was the hit of the MS fundraiser my sister & I held in honor of Mom at Wine & Design in Warwick, she attended her great-grandma and great-aunt’s 95th birthday party … and oh-so-many more important and amazing things.

Before we actually had Lotte, we weren’t exactly sure how much traveling we’d do with her. Traveling with kids is hard and at times very stressful, and let’s be honest, it’s not like she’s making lasting memories here. But you know what … we are. And I’ve come to realize as Lotte grows and goes through babyhood that that is just as important. These trips we take with her are some of my fondest memories, and I will never forget them. (Neither, luckily, will she, since I take extensive notes to put in her baby travel diary — complete with pictures! — and of course she’ll always have this blog to refer to, as well.)

The point is – yes, traveling with kids can sometimes make you want to pull your hair out, but so far, I am never sorry for the trips we’ve done with Lotte, and I only hope that continues.

Here’s a look at what we got up to over the past 10 days in photos. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give another BIG shout-out to my husband for flying out and surprising us last Friday to be there for my Mom’s fundraiser, my Grandma’s 95th birthday party and, of course, to help on the flight back home with Lotte. Funny how four hands are so much better than two when it comes to flying with Littles 😉

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^^ All prepped and ready for our first solo flight as Mom & baby! In all seriousness, though, I know how lucky Chris & I got with Lotte. She’s a pretty solid, amazing little traveler, so things might be a tad different is she were more difficult …

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^^ We don’t have a dog at home, so Lotte’s only real interaction with them so far has been at my stepdad’s house with Ranger. Honestly I wasn’t sure how Ranger would react to Lotte at first — he can be a bit of a loose cannon — but especially in his older age, he tolerates her quite nicely, which is nice, because she is obsessed!

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^^ Quick pit stop at Aunt Steph’s & Uncle Brian’s on Saturday to pick them up on our way into Pennsylvania for Rory’s 4th birthday party.

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^^ These two together = major cuteness! Peyton, on the right, is actually three months younger than Lotte, but she’s almost the same size. It’s really only when she gets with other babies that I’m reminded of what a tiny nugget Lotte is!

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^^ Dad’s fancy omelette bar on Sunday morning.

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^^ Jude!

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^^ Rory seriously loves Lotte, and it’s pretty much the sweetest.

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^^ Cuddles with my babe on our first day in Arlington, Virginia, to visit Lisa. I think I honestly was just so relieved the car ride from Pennsylvania went well!

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^^ This bear was pretty amazing to use as a backdrop in many-a-Lotte photo!

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^^ Driving into D.C. to take in the sites — don’t let this innocent face fool you, she screamed the entire way in and the entire way out! Those two car rides — which must have amounted to about 20 minutes total — and the one back to Newark airport to head home were the only ones she fussed (or should I say threw a tantrum) for. I guess that was … lucky?!

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^^ Patriotic Baby.

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^^ In front of the Reflecting Pool … not impressed!

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^^ At the World War II Memorial … not impressed!

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^^ Heading to the Lincoln Memorial … not impressed!

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^^ At the Washington Monument … not impressed!

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^^ Visiting good ole’ Abe … not impressed!

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^^ I mean … you get it. Lotte was not impressed! But it was a gorgeous day, and I hadn’t been back to these places myself in many, many years, so overall it was a pretty fun day!

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^^ Tuckered out from all her touristing. Is there anything sweeter than a sleeping baby??

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^^ We were back in the car on Wednesday and back with Rory and Jude in no time (well, in about three hours, to be exact).

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^^ I particularly love this photo from our trip. I took this after I opened up the back door of the car after our ride from PA back to New York (our FOURTH long car ride, mind you), and Lotte was just chillin’ in her car seat, giving me the BIGGEST smile when she saw me. Oh Lotte … how I love you.

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^^ Deep conversations back at Aunt Stephie’s house.

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^^ When your husband surprises you and flies to New York for the weekend and you can breathe because you finally have full-time help again. Single parents … I have never had more respect for you than I do after this trip! Oh and Lisa also got into town this day, too, so it was almost more than my little heart could handle, all my lovies surrounding me 😉

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^^ Delicious crinkle cookies Lisa made for the MS fundraiser.

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^^ Making sangria for the party!

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^^ I seriously love this photo of Lisa, after we picked up balloons for the party.

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^^ Lotte was a tad grumps during the fundraiser — girlfriend deserved to be! — even when seeing her future boyfriend Miles again.

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^^ Between the paint & sip fundraiser and online donations, we raised more than $2,000 for MS research. Speechless. And oh-so thankful.

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^^ After the fundraiser it was on to my Grandma and Great-Aunt Vicki’s 95th birthday party, which my aunt did a fabulous job setting up.

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^^ Ugh these two cuties!!!! Can you imagine knowing — and liking! — someone for 95 years?!

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^^ Lotte frequently gets this look on her face when she’s around her Great-Grams. I can’t help but feel like she honestly understands what this woman means to our family, and to her.

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^^ Kisses after a little speech I made. I love my Aunt Vicki wasting no time before she downs her Prosecco!

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^^ Not pictured: Aunt Stephie cracking Lotte up by blowing into a party noisemaker. It. Was. Amazing.

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^^ As if that weren’t enough partying for you, everyone surprised me with an early birthday cake back at Steph’s house that night. Sigh. The love.

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^^ Headed to the airport on Sunday.

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^^ These two.

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^^ So many toys to keep her occupied, and all she wanted to do was play with the free airplane cracker packet. 

IMG_8113IMG_8122^^ Home. That makes six plane rides for this little 8-month-old.

And those were the highlights, my friends. Usually trips like these tend to feel like a whirlwind (I feel like I use that word a lot when describing my trips!), but this one actually didn’t. Sure it was busy and hectic and hard at times, but overall I felt really good about everything we did, and so happy about everyone we got to see. It was a trip I’d repeat over and over again, with my Little by my side.

Bis bald, friends! Till next time …

We’re Home From Our Trip Back East!

 

Well friends, Lotte & I are home from our epic trip back east, and while it will likely take me at least a couple of days to go through all my photos, here’s just the slightest of tastes of what we got up to:

1. Lotte attended her first birthday party — it was for my nephew Rory’s 4th.
2. We traveled in the car a lot! Trips included from NY to PA, from PA to VA, back from VA to PA and finally from PA back to NY … not to mention to and from Newark Airport ;).
3. Lotte took her first trip into D.C.! We visited quite a few sites with Lisa (see above photo), but I’ll have more on that later.
4. CHRIS SURPRISED ME AND FLEW BACK TO NEW YORK ON FRIDAY TO HELP ME OUT WITH LOTTE & ATTEND THE BELOW EVENTS!!! If that’s not an awesome husband, I just don’t know what is.
5. My sister and I hosted an MS fundraiser this past Saturday in honor of our Mom, and it was awesome. We raised over $2,000 in total, and I think it’s safe to say everyone had a great time and our Mom would have been (is) proud.
6. After the MS fundraiser we went to celebrate my Grandma and her twin’s 95th birthday … how utterly amazing is that?!

I’m sure there is more I’m forgetting, but hopefully going through all my photos will jog my memory. For now, check out my one photo from the sad cherry blossoms in D.C. (a recent frost killed them all!), and a pic of Lotte checking out our landing back in Denver. That girl loves herself an airplane landing ❤

Bis bald friends! And happy Spring!

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The Year 2014: A Review

Well, friends, it’s been quite the year! When I’m old and grey and looking back on my travels, this will certainly be one of my favorite years to reference. Here’s how our adventure-filled 365 days played out:

January
In January Chris and I headed upstate for a first anniversary trip to Saratoga Springs, which we promptly fell absolutely in love with.

 

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February
As the winter weather dragged itself out in NYC, Chris and I decided to spice things up a bit, so we packed up and headed over to Iceland (blogged about here, hereherehere and here — man I know how to drag out a trip, don’t I!). While there we saw the Northern lights (once in a lifetime experience), rented bicycles to ride around the city, tried out some local beers, relaxed at the Blue Lagoon and generally fell in love with Iceland’s gorgeous scenery.

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March
In March I headed down to Florida for a little girlfriend’s/birthday getaway in Jupiter and Marathon Key (the trip was about 10 days long, so it lasted from the end of March all the way through my birthday into the beginning of April.) In Florida we saw spectacular sunsets, amazing marine life and even took a kayak ride through the mangroves. It was a spectacular birthday, indeed.

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April
After deciding to pack up and move our little family to Denver, Colorado, Chris and I decided — maybe we should visit there and see how it actually is before doing so! So in April we flew out to the middle of the country with my sister and her then-boyfriend (now fiancée!) to check out Boulder, Breckenridge and Denver. What we found were really sweet people, tons of awesome breweries and amazing outdoor opportunities.

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May
In late April/early May I took the bus down to D.C. to visit a friend for her birthday, and we decided to rent some kayaks (which is kind of becoming our thing now) and take them out on the Potomac.

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June
In June Chris and I hopped in the car and took a day trip to Phoenicia and Otter Falls, places he visits every year when he and a bunch of his running friends run a relay race in the area. He had been wanting to get me up there to taste the amazing pancakes at Sweet Sue’s Restaurant (they don’t disappoint!) and see the waterfall at Otter Falls.

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July
In July I headed to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware with my immediate family and a ton of our extended family for some quality beach time (and a delicious seafood night — a time-honored family tradition).

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September
In September Chris and I were lucky enough to cash in on one of our awesome wedding presents and take a helicopter ride high above beautiful ole’ NYC

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We also participated in my family’s annual Penn State football tailgate weekend in Happy Valley, but this time with one very notable addition — our nephew, Rory 😉

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And then, at the end of the month, I was honored when the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau invited me out for a visit to their beautiful city (blogged about here, here and here). P.S. This trip included my first ever hot air balloon ride — amazing!

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October and November
Well, friends, October and November were the months to end all months for us. After about a year and a half of planning, Chris and I finally headed out on our four-week long adventure to South America, including Peru (blogged about here, here and here) , the Amazon, the Galapagos and Costa Rica. There’s not much more that I can say here about this part of the year that I haven’t already said in my other posts about them, but I’ll just say one more time — this was the trip of a lifetime, and we’re so grateful we were able to take the time to do it.

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December
And then, my friends, after all of that, Chris and I were lucky enough to hop back on a plane in December and fly off to spend the holiday season with Chris’s family in Australia.

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Miscellaneous
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple of other amazing things that happened this year, like taking part in wedding ceremonies and bachelorette parties for six of our friends, my baby sister getting engaged, checking a couple of big NYC things off our bucket lists (like this visit to the Cloisters and this one to the Met rooftop bar), and, of course, saying farewell to the city we love so dearly.

IMG_4223^^ Visiting the Met rooftop with my dad and stepmom for Father’s Day.

IMG_4466^^ Celebrating a cousin’s wedding in Brooklyn.

IMG_4472^^ We sure know how to party down. (And we had lots of practice with tons of weddings this year!)

Me_and_Lise2^^ Hosting a bestie who has long since moved from the city and came back for a visit.

Monkey_Bar10^^ Revisiting my absolutely favorite restaurant in Manhattan.

photo 2^^ Attending Rory’s first-ever baseball game. (Go Mets!)

photo 2^^ Checking out new and fun areas in Manhattan.

photo 3^^ Taking a gorgeous fall hike in beautiful areas to break in new hiking shoes.

RoryBabysit^^ Spending some time with my nephew = always a fabulous time.

Atlantic_City^^ Heading to Atlantic City (twice!) for friends’ bachelorette parties.

You’ve been a pretty stellar year — 2014. I’m sad to say goodbye, but excited to see what 2015 holds.

Bis bald, friends — and very merry and happy New Year!

Paddling in the Potomac

Morning friends! Exactly one week and one day ago (aka last Monday), I hopped on a Tripper bus out of the city headed to Arlington, Virginia (a suburb of the D.C. area).

Here’s a little tip from a bus rider know-it-all: If you’re on a bus (or in a car or any other form of automotive transportation) out of the city heading through the Holland Tunnel, be sure to sit on the right-hand side, because you’ll be privy to this beauty of a view:

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Anyway, as I mentioned in a post last week, when this particular friend and I get together, we generally do a whole lot of nothing. (Which is actually quite wonderful, as I’m sure most of you know.) I mean sure we eat and drink and chat and binge watch shoes (last week she introduced me to Revenge … why have I not been watching this all my life?), but there’s generally very little by way of activity, other than a walk here and there.

Last week, though, we got creative. On the heels of our very active trip to Marathon Key at the beginning of April, we were eager to try one activity in particular all over again in a new spot — kayaking.

So we headed into Old Town Alexandria (which is about the cutest little place you’ll ever go) and down to the Belle Haven Park and Marina, where we took a double-person kayak out on the Potomac River.

Let me tell you friends — it was something splendid, for sure.

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3In_Harbour^^ The water was pretty muddy after the torrential downpour we had the two days prior,
but it was still pretty splendid all the same.

4Kayak_View^^I have to admit that this kayak adventure was harder for me, for some reason,
and I may not have been a ton of help when it came to rowing. Thanks for taking the lead, Lisa!

5Log_Turtles^^ We saw so, so, so many turtles on this trip!

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8Mischief_View^^ We may have ventured off the beaten trail into a tiny little area secluded by trees.
So peaceful.

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So Lisa and I have pretty much decided this is our thing. Hopefully when she comes to visit me here in the city we’ll take some kayaks out on the Hudson as well. It’s always fun to have an activity to look forward to on a trip.

My time with Lisa was so fun, but it also went by so fast, and before I knew it I was back on a 2:30 bus on Saturday afternoon headed back to the city. After being dropped off near Penn Station around 7:30, I grabbed a ticket on the Long Island Railroad and headed back out, this time to meet up with Chris to spend the night in Long Island prior to his running the Long Island Marathon Sunday morning. My dad met us out there in the morning to watch, and we walked a grand total of 10 MILES around the course to catch Chris running at three different spots.

Oh, and Chris did pretty well, too 😉 I mean, he broke his own personal record with a race time of 2:49:26!

I could not be more proud of him.

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Bis bald, friends! Warmer weather is headed our way, and I hope everyone is getting excited for whatever plans you’ve concocted for the summer …

 

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!

A Sweat Treat in Northern Virginia

Hi friends,

While in Virginia this past week, my friend and I picked up chocolate chip cookies for the baby shower from the cutest little shop called the Bakeshop. It’s located in Clarendon in Northern Virginia, and they had ice cream sandwiches, cookies, cupcakes, lemon bars, French Macarons … you name it.

It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.

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Bis bald, friends! I’m going to go and dream about those delish looking cupcakes …

In Which I Become a Craft Blogger (From D.C.!)

Hi friends!

So no one needs to tell me that I am NOT a world-class crafter. However, I will say that over the past few years I’ve become more and more interested in the art of crafting. Particularly when it comes to giving gifts or throwing parties or asking for favors (like when I asked my sisters and Chris’s sisters and my BFF to be in my (never happened!) bridal party) — it’s always nice to add a little crafty touch. It just really shows how much you care.

Anyway, all of this is to say, this past week I was in D.C. with a friend to help her prepare for her sister’s “sprinkle”. (Here’s where I admit that, despite the fact that my journalism career has had me writing about parenting topics for the past 4+ years, I had never heard of that term!) Suffice it to say — Lisa doesn’t do anything halfway. So this “sprinkle”, if you will, was probably more effort (in the best of ways!) than most people would put in for a regular shower.

She’s one fabulous lady — I’m lucky to have such a fun-loving, caring, thoughtful friend in my life.

So back to the title of my post … ‘In Which I Become a Craft Blogger’. As I mentioned last week, I knew this trip wouldn’t involve much site-seeing (who needs that when you’ve got a best friend, a bottle of wine and tons of crafting to do!), so I thought I’d go ahead and share some details of the baby “sprinkle” here.

You know … just in case you’ve got one coming up and you’re looking for ideas 😉

^^The beginning stages of lemon bars for the dessert bar. Can you say yum?!
^^The beginning stages of lemon bars for the dessert bar. Can you say yum?!
^^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.
^^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 twine for Alison and her new baby boy.
^^ Chocolate & Vanilla Ice Box parfaits with graham cracker and whip cream.
^^ Chocolate & Vanilla Ice Box parfaits with graham cracker and whip cream.
^^ Blueberry Crumble for the dessert bar.
^^ Blueberry Crumble for the dessert bar.

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^^ We lined these cardboard boxes with white ribbon and stuck an adorable photo of Alison and her daughter on two sides. The photos were stickers from Shutterfly, and they said 'Thanks so much for coming!' Guests filled the boxes up with treats from the dessert bar as part of their parting gift.
^^ We lined these cardboard boxes with white ribbon and stuck an adorable photo of Alison and her daughter on two sides. The photos were stickers from Shutterfly, and they said ‘Thanks so much for coming!’ Guests filled the boxes up with treats from the dessert bar as part of their parting gift.
^^ The box set-up at the party looked like this. The CDs in front were made with songs all the guests had sent to Lisa ahead of time that reminded them of their childhood, along with a key tied to the back and a sentence or two about their memories of the song.
^^ The box set-up at the party looked like this. The CDs in front were made with songs all the guests had sent to Lisa ahead of time that reminded them of their childhood, along with a key tied to the back and a sentence or two about their memories of the song.

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^^ Honey Baked ham, spinach dip, fruit salad, pasta salad and Sister Schubert's rolls rounded out the desserts.
^^ Honey Baked ham, spinach dip, fruit salad, pasta salad and Sister Schubert’s rolls rounded out the desserts.

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^^ In lieu of gifts, each guest brought a onesie with a decoration that was indicative of something about themselves. Mine was the one with the bunny. We hung them on a string in the living room and Alison guessed whose was whose. She did a really good job!
^^ In lieu of gifts, each guest brought a onesie with a decoration that was indicative of something about themselves. Mine was the one with the bunny. We hung them on a string in the living room and Alison guessed whose was whose. She did a really good job!
^^ We also had cupcakes from Cake Love. Oh my!
^^ We also had cupcakes from Cake Love. Oh my!
^^ And of course, the star of the party -- Lisa's little niece, Abigail.
^^ And of course, the star of the party — Lisa’s little niece, Abigail.

So that was about it, friends! A good time was had by all, and now there’s not much left to do but wait for Baby Boy Grantham to make his debut!

Here’s what Chris and I have on our plates in the next few weeks, in terms of travel:

* A visit to my sister’s new apartment and a trip to Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery
* A day trip to the beach for Labor Day, as well as hopefully out to Governor’s Island to see the vintage carousels they have on display there right now
* Chris’s Super Secret 30th Birthday Trip (Shhhh–I’m SO EXCITED about this!)
* Australia for our fourth wedding (awahooo!!!) and our honeymoon at the Great Barrier Reef!

And that takes us through September and on into the fall, my friends. Can you even believe it’s already half-way through August!? Hope everyone’s making the most of these summer days before they fade away!

Bis bald!