Summer Stories

Hello! Going to start out by telling you this is a catch up post. I have to acknowledge I haven't written anything since April, it would be bizarre not to. Three months is a long time and a lot has happened since I "Prepped My Space for Spring". Jumping back in with a recipe or a tip for how to arrange your locally sourced eucalyptus would be ridiculous. To be totally honest, it feels like I blinked and now this year is half through. The last six months have absolutely blown by due in no small part to all of the travel we've been lucky enough to do. Be it for work or for pleasure, 2017 has involved more time away from home than not. Over the next few weeks I'm going to really commit and dive back into developing this space (I mean it this time baby, I swear). No surprise, as it's something I address regularly, but balancing work and everything that falls outside of it is an ongoing thing.

In the meantime, I want to share a few photos from our travels. I've posted quite a lot on Instagram but want to put together a small travel diary. Since January, we've hopped around to North Carolina, Baltimore, Virginia, London, Montreal, California, Upstate NY, and South Carolina (pics + recipes in a future post). Holding onto our hats because it looks like this year is not slowing down. I'm flying home to Michigan in just two weeks!

I hope you enjoy! 

North Carolina

We've packed our bags for NC twice this year. First in March for a show - Ian's in a band called Handsome Foxes (shameless plug, check 'em out!) and again in April to attend the loveliest farm wedding. In between we caught up with old friends, visited Duke Gardens, and drank our weight in coffee. 

Snapshot of my favorite Handsome Foxes flyerup at a Raleigh coffee shop.

Snapshot of my favorite Handsome Foxes flyerup at a Raleigh coffee shop.

If you're ever in the Chapel Hill area, Honeysuckle Tea House, is a must. Located on a tea farm about 15 min. outside of town it's a gorgeous retreat complete with a yurt, rows and rows of growing berries and tea, and hammocks to lounge around for hours in.

Set up for a beautiful wedding ceremony.

Set up for a beautiful wedding ceremony.

London

In March, I was lucky enough to spend an entire week in London. I didn't have much time for sightseeing (it was a work trip + by far the most professionally rewarding) but forced myself up around 6AM most mornings to walk around and catch a few glimpses of the city.

Rule of thumb: the day a woman cuts bangs she starts to grow them back out again.  This photo will serve as a great reminder to never cut bangs ever, ever, ever.

Rule of thumb: the day a woman cuts bangs she starts to grow them back out again.

This photo will serve as a great reminder to never cut bangs ever, ever, ever.

I know, I am the first person to take this photo.

I know, I am the first person to take this photo.

My lovely room complete with always open work computer.

My lovely room complete with always open work computer.

California

The state that makes me realize that I'm not getting enough Vitamin D, tacos, or athleisure in my life.

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Montreal

Last but not least, Ian surprised me with a trip to Montreal for my birthday! Four days were just enough time in this charming and quiet city. Our roomy and affordable apartment ($56/night, thanks again AirBnB) in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal district was walking distance from downtown. So, we kept things chill and spent the days wandering and stuffing ourselves full of croissants and fresh seafood.

airbnb decor was on point.

airbnb decor was on point.

The best coffee shop i've ever been to, Cafe olimpico, not just because that's their slogan.  Legitimately old school (only whole milk on tap!), amazing espresso, and nutella filled donuts? yes, please. Also, they show soccer all day long. So, if you're interested in dropping off your husband and spending a few hours shopping solo - this is the place for you.

The best coffee shop i've ever been to, Cafe olimpico, not just because that's their slogan.  Legitimately old school (only whole milk on tap!), amazing espresso, and nutella filled donuts? yes, please. Also, they show soccer all day long. So, if you're interested in dropping off your husband and spending a few hours shopping solo - this is the place for you.

Weekend Getaway, on a Budget

One of my absolute favorite rabbit holes to fall down is the great wide world of weekend getaway travel. I've spent countless hours scrolling through feeds of idyllic cottages surrounded by birch trees, beach side escapes, spa vacations in the mountains, and the ever popular "traipsing through a vineyard" posts. I've fantasized about picking up and just taking off for a weekend ร  la Vogue Magazine for as long as I can remember. Not a a care in the world, floppy hat and perfectly curated outfits in tow. Here's the thing though- floppy hats make me look like an absolute jerk. Perfectly curated outfits take me days to plan. (Have we discussed that I'm an over planner?). Also, let's just real talk for a second: the entire idea of picking up and "taking off for the weekend" is a huge function of privilege. If you live in a city the cost of renting a car, tolls, staying overnight, meals, and even the aforementioned winery tour fee all add up really quickly. Don't even get me started on boarding dogs.

A few weeks ago, instead of falling down yet another rabbit hole of jealousy coupled with "how can people afford this?!" thoughts, I decided to plan a weekend trip. Something special for Ian's birthday which would allow us to explore upstate New York but in a way that wouldn't break the bank.

  1. First, I chose a weekend that wasn't super popular. Ian's birthday, usually the first weekend of April, is still fairly chilly in New York so most people aren't raging to get out of the city.
  2. Found a hotel that wasn't on the beaten path. (The Hamptons are out of the question and also not the only place to go outside of NYC. Don't let Vogue and Harper's feed you lies.) I knew I wanted to stay on the water in the Hudson River Valley but the city of Hudson, NY can get quite pricey so, my search focused on the surrounding small towns.
  3. Found a nearby winery with an affordable tasting/entrance fee. We were driving, one stop for wine would be enough.
  4. Picked one meal to splurge. Husband's birthday dinner, naturally.
  5. Limited our adventure to one night. Why? Boarding the dogs for an entire weekend is incredibly expensive ($300!). Also, the absolute last thing I want to do after work on a Friday is drive for three hours. Kicking things off after a good night's sleep and leaving the work week completely behind felt far more luxurious. Saturday morning through early Sunday evening is the perfect amount of time to getaway and get back. 
The Stewart House in Athens, NY.

The Stewart House in Athens, NY.

I'm not sure if we got lucky or discovered a diamond in the rough, but last weekend felt like something out of a movie. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful or relaxing experience. The Stewart House is a small, intimate hotel located right on the Hudson River in the small town of Athens, NY. We pulled up after exploring a local winery and were greeted by the warmest, kindest staff. They truly went above and beyond. I'm not just saying that because they did a good job. I've never stayed anywhere where the manager insisted, several times, that we take our time checking out. "Seriously, ignore the check out time. Lounge, enjoy!". Believe me when I say we took full advantage, especially after we saw our room.

Every detail, every piece of furniture, even the paint accents make The Stewart House feel like stepping into an alternate universe where life is actually filtered through Instagram. I could write a book about how the decor is straight out of Design Sponge meets Vanity Fair mixed with Dwell fantasy but I'd rather just show you. Some photos from the weekend are below, I've been taking them in all week and already planning our return trip.

Our bedroom suite was an actual dream. A bathtub in the bedroom...

Our bedroom suite was an actual dream. A bathtub in the bedroom...

Directly below our room, just two flights down these copper patina and turquoise stairs, is The Stewart House restaurant. We celebrated Ian's birthday with steak, squash + sage ravioli, and the sweetest tiramisu with a birthday candle. I even took my (sixth... oops) glass of Prosecco back to the room with me after our waitress topped it off and insisted I couldn't just leave it! Woman after my own heart.

Also, I know- I can't take a straight photo to save my life. Stay with me people, slowly but surely my photography skills will improve. That's part of this whole "realistic approach to blogging thing", right? I think so...

Also, I know- I can't take a straight photo to save my life. Stay with me people, slowly but surely my photography skills will improve. That's part of this whole "realistic approach to blogging thing", right? I think so...

Bubbles before bed, that's how you know it's really vacation.

Bubbles before bed, that's how you know it's really vacation.

Breakfast nook on the second floor of the hotel. Fresh coffee, juice, cereal bar, delicious pastries to start off the morning. I thought I'd go out and explore but...

Breakfast nook on the second floor of the hotel. Fresh coffee, juice, cereal bar, delicious pastries to start off the morning. I thought I'd go out and explore but...

... spent the entire morning on Sunday reading + eating in that tub.

... spent the entire morning on Sunday reading + eating in that tub.

Most relaxed I've ever been. Ever.

Most relaxed I've ever been. Ever.

Happy husband.

Happy husband.

I'll wrap up this love poem to our weekend away by saying that it's totally plausible to take a break from the city without spending a fortune. (Also, floppy hats are overrated.) This post wasn't sponsored at all so a little planning and figuring out ways around what's dictated as the right approach by magazines and most travel blogs is the way to go. Figure out what you like, what you can afford, and make it work for you. In my case, it's eating coffee cake in a giant white tub on the banks of the Hudson River the same week as I wrote out a rent check. Huzzah!

Carolina Holiday

Happy New Year! We got back from our vacation to South and North Carolina late Monday night and spent today settling back into our space. I love coming home after a trip and making a day of unpacking. It's a good opportunity to savor the last bits of the journey, relive good memories, and evaluate how much I over packed. New Year's resolution #5: cut down on the number of beauty items I travel with. 2 moisturizers, 4 lip glosses, 2 highlighters, 5 lipsticks for a trip where I barely even touched my concealer. Reign it in, me. (Resolutions #1-4 in a future post.)

I've written before about counting down the days to these holiday trips. Traveling South is a total 180 from the insanity and hectic atmosphere of our New York life. I even enjoy the time spent in the car, just us and the dogs. Podcasts, conversation, and frequent stops to indulge in bad for us food.

This year felt more special than ever. The wedding was long behind us and we were able to fully relax and enjoy the quiet and calm of South Carolina. I woke up every morning and read on the front porch while Potato and Jack spun around like tops in the front yard. Ian slept in until noon almost everyday and woke up to grits and football. After nine glorious days we drove to welcome in 2017 with friends in North Carolina. I can honestly say I have never had a better time for New Year's Eve or been in a warmer or more welcoming home than that of our hosts. Not to mention, the epic amount of wine I drank. New goal: learn more about wine. Appreciate it on a deeper level.

More than anything else, over the last eleven days we did something we almost never do. Settled into relaxing. We said yes to all the sugar, carbs, fats, oils, and fried chicken. I wore sweatpants for days on end and did not put on makeup everyday. Ian did not check work email. Even the dogs hit refresh. They ran around, played, jumped and experienced space in a way they could never do in the city. We all totally disconnected. The result is coming back to New York with a completely clear mind.

I want to share some photos which didn't make it to social media. Looking through is making me nostalgic and it's only been a few days! I hope you enjoy them! Let me know how you celebrated your holiday break in the comments. I would love to learn about what you ate, where you traveled, your families! Resolutions and habit shifts in the days to come but for now, I want to savor the warmth and love of the last few weeks.

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Photos of a 100 year old oak which was uprooted during Hurricane Matthew. It's now being cut up and used for firewood.

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It is an understatement to say that we ate a lot this trip. I'm not one for diets but after the amount of BBQ, butter, sugar, and carbs consumed over this holiday I'm actually attempting a Whole30! Seriously, the food was amazing. We stuffed ourselves every single day to the absolute brim.

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My signature New Year's frittata made with leftovers from dinner the night before. I'll post the recipe for this very soon. So quick, easy, and always a crowd-pleaser!

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If you've been following along on this blog, you'll know I post a photo of this pecan tree every time we visit my in-laws. In my head it's something akin to our very own Giving Tree. It produces enough pecans that we head home with a bag full every visit. Less than a quarter of a pound of this treasure costs around $7 in NYC! So it's safe to say that straight off the tree pecans are my prized possession in the kitchen. I immediately stash them in the freezer and use sparingly as toppings and snacks. Gold people, they're actual gold in this city.

For maximum pecan harvest, Ian's younger brother was put into the tractor arm to hit the nuts off with a big stick!

Recipe for these sugar and cinnamon roasted pecans up soon!

All the treats and gorgeous scenery aside, the best part of the holidays is family. It's cliche and it's cheesy but the moments when you catch people reconnecting and really catching up are the ones which bring the most joy. Having a plate full of BBQ, mac + cheese, and coleslaw to shovel into your mouth while doing so is just the cherry on top.

Actually the cherry on top is discovering your husband looks really damn cute on a skateboard. Happy 2017, dear readers!