Girls Weekend in Chicago

Some girlfriends and I thought it was about time we got a “mom’s weekend away”. Our husbands have been going to Vegas each Spring and backpacking in the Adirondacks each fall for about 3 years now, and so we thought it was our turn! So Chicago it was!

We flew out Thursday night and from Buffalo the flight is only about an hour. So we had most of Thursday night, Friday and all day Saturday. We left super early Sunday morning and got back around 9:30am, in time to spend the rest of the weekend with our little kiddos.

Thursday night we hit up a place called Three Dots and a Dash. Very cool! First, its really hard to find. We kept being told secret ways to enter, or “down an alley” all sounding kinda sketchy, but once we located it, (aka walked there by a local) we went down some stairs and into a dark underground restaurant. It was a tiki/Hawaiian type place, known for their drinks. The drink menu has strength warnings and even an average drink was pretty potent. The food was great too, we got a sample platter and a side of guacamole to share and it was more then enough for 4 girls. (The guac was amazing with chunks of pineapple!)

Friday morning we headed to Three Arts Club Cafe for brunch. Another amazing food choice!! The weather was cold and cloudy but this adorable little place had a window roof top and indoor fountain, so you really felt like you were outside. They don’t take reservations so we were told to get here early. We arrived around 10am and were sat almost immediately, but when we left around noon it was swamped with quite a wait time.  We shared some croissant pastries for the table, chocolate, almond and ham and cheese – all which were sooo good. Then they brought us some french fries and aioli sauce, compliments of the kitchen (could be the best fries ever!) Followed by our actual meal, we all ordered the same – Scrambled eggs with fresh farm eggs, crème frâiche, avocado, chives, and Texas Toast! Everything was perfect! Highly recommend this place!

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After brunch we took a 1:30pm Architecture Boat Tour down the Chicago River. There are a bunch of companies that offer this, but we chose Wendella Boats as it was located right near our hotel. It was $35.50 per person and had a bar on board, 75 minutes long. The tour was great, despite the weather being cold, our tour guide was super informational and entertaining! We were able to get some really great pictures and learned a ton about the city and even other random tidbits.

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After the boat tour we walked to Millennium Park to check out The Bean. It was very crowded (and did I mention cold) but we got our touristy pictures and moved on. The boat tour guide had filled us in on a little place called Cindy’s Roof Top Bar. He said it was a great spot to grab a drink and look out over the Bean, and he was right, the drinks were great and the outside balcony area overlooked Grant park for more exceptional views!

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On our way back to the hotel, we decided we were hungry for some Chicago style Pizza. I read about some less touristy places for this but, this one was on our way, so we stopped at Giordano’s. (Fact: The Deep Dish Pizza takes about 45-60 minutes to cook once you order it.) Since we didn’t have the time to wait, we ended up getting a flat crust pizza instead, which compared to Buffalo style pizza was still quite different. I was a bit disappointed we didn’t get to try the famous Chicago style, but after seeing it on other tables I was ok. It doesn’t look like Pizza at all to me. We did hear that people would call ahead and order their pizza and then walk into the restaurant and sit down to eat. A little tip for next time!

Our night out started with a quick trip up to The Signature Room Lounge in the John Hancock Building. With amazing views of the city from the 96th floor, you don’t have to pay $19 just to go up and look like you do at the SkyDeck Chicago. For less than $19 each we got a bottle of wine and shared. (Also the women’s bathroom has one of the best views around!) Dinner that evening was pushed back from 7 to 8pm since we filled up on pizza late in the day. We went to the Pump Room at Public Chicago. Food was phenomenal and atmosphere was perfect. We sat at our table and chatted and drank wine for hours! A perfect Mom night out!

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Day two started out with Breakfast at West Egg Cafe, just a short walk from our hotel, The Loews Downtown Chicago. Cute place, great breakfast and pretty fast! The rest of the day turned into a bit of a jumble as the weather was pretty shitty! It was pouring rain and about 40 degrees. We spent most of the day just shopping in and out of places to stay dry. A couple of us split up. Me and my Girlfriend Andrea spent the day on the Magnificent Mile, stopping into the Disney Store and Tiffany’s (dreaming). The other three found themselves in an area called Bucktown which had lots of unique boutique shops and restaurants. We met up at 4pm at Second City Comedy Club to catch an early Improv show! A must stop! Improv isn’t really my thing and I find it kinda odd, but once I got used to it, it was really funny. It was a pop culture show so it hit on a lot of things relevant to me and today!

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After the show we had an early dinner reservation at Sunda Chicago. We weren’t able to get a reservation here on our own, but the concierge at our hotel was able to hook us up. It had a great menu of unique drinks and Asian food. Its meant to be ordered family style so the table can share, but we had a lot of tastes and opinions to cater to and so it worked out better that we all ordered our own dishes and shared a couple things. The food was great and my blackberry cocktail was dynamite.

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On our way back to the hotel we stopped and got some Garrett Popcorn to bring home to our families. The Mix was the best, cheddar and caramel! Yummy! With early flights in the am we all checked out early and we were in bed by 10pm.

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It was such a fun getaway for a couple days. I wish the weather was better, I’d like to go when its warmer so we can enjoy walking the downtown area a little more. We had to take a lot of Uber rides to avoid the cold and elements, but even that was super easy and surprisingly not very expensive if you have to. We would have loved to check out Navy Pier and the beach areas or rent the city bikes but we just weren’t up for that this time around.  A reason to go back again I guess!

Disney World 2017

While in Florida this past February, we spent 2 days at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Ada is so obsessed with the Disney Princesses that I knew this would be a perfect trip for her right now. And since I’m still trying to get her familiar with the idea of travel, I want to make sure they are trips she is excited about. I know she probably won’t remember the details of the trip, most people recommend going when they are a little older, but I figured that since the family is in Tampa, its a perfect time to visit them and give her a little taste of Disney.

2 days is definitely not enough, but at the same time, it was plenty! There was obviously only so much we could do in 2 days, and being that she is still so young we wanted to make sure we hit up the things she was most excited about.

Our first (half) day there we didn’t have tickets to the parks, so we checked into the hotel and played at pool all afternoon.

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I then, neglected to make any dinner reservations for the first night, so we were left scrambling to find something. We thought about heading to Downtown Disney, but it just didn’t seem worth the hassle to pack everyone up and take the bus out. Instead we hopped the monorail and headed to the Polynesian Resort, where I wish we would have stayed. I remember staying there as a kid and so I wanted to show Dan, but we foolishly thought we could just walk up to a restaurant. Of course everything was booked. We were informed that the Kona Cafe had a first come, first serve bar seating area, and we somehow managed to nab three seats there.  After dinner we walked around, grabbed a famous Dole whip (the only place you can find them outside of Adventure Land in the Magic Kingdom), and we were able to catch the fireworks from the beach at the hotel. All things we just happened to stumble upon and probably couldn’t have planned any better.

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Chopstick fight at Kona Cafe inside Disney’s Polynesian

I booked this trip 30 days out, and apparently that was not nearly soon enough. When booking the “Magic your Way” tickets and staying on a Disney property, reservations for restaurants and fast passes open up 60-180 days out, so everything I really wanted to do like Cinderella’s Table or Chef Mickeys, etc. was completely booked up, we had to be a little flexible. The only character dining I could get our first day was lunch at Hollywood & Vine inside Hollywood studios, which changed our plans quite a bit. Hollywood Studios wasn’t exactly on my itinerary this time around, but it ended up working out for the best. There was a lot more in that park for younger kids then Epcot, which was my original plan. The only reason I wanted to do Epcot was for the Frozen ride, but instead in Hollywood Studios we started our day with the Frozen sing-a-long, which was a perfect alternative. She got to see her princesses in real life, and it even “snowed” white foamy bubbles at the end, which was super exciting for her!

Dinsey's Frozen Sing-a-long, Hollywood Studios

After the Frozen Sing-a-long, we did the Voyage of the Little Mermaid, this only had a short wait time and by the time it was over it was lunch time. That show was alright, she was excited to see Ariel live, but honestly in my opinion its time for Disney to update the theatrics, it seemed a little outdated, but to a 3 year old it was just fine!

Hollywood & Vine has the Disney Junior characters. So we saw Sophia the First, Doc McStuffins, Jake the Pirate and Handy Manny. They all make their way to your table at some point during your meal and it had a pretty decent buffet for lunch. She was just so excited the whole time!

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After lunch we debated trying to catch the Disney Junior Live! show, but decided that it was getting hot and we just saw half those characters so we headed back to the hotel for a nap. We did get to see Donald on our way out!

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That evening, we had Fast Passes to Enchanted Tales with Belle. So after we were all refreshed we made our way into the Magic Kingdom for our first glimpse at the Castle!

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5:00 was a perfect time to head into the park because I think everyone was at dinner so we didn’t have to fight crowds to get to Belle on time. We did it right away at the early side of our Fast Pass time slot, and this was probably the cutest thing we did our whole trip and made such an impression on Ada. Belle is her most favorite princess right now, so I think she was literally star struck. The whole attraction though was just perfect for her, it was with a small intimate group, so you could really take it all in, and I felt like she actually got some cute, quality time with Belle up close.

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After, we had some time and there was only a 20 minute wait at Ariels Grotto, so we waited a little bit for her to meet her second most favorite princess right now, Ariel.

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We did a quick-service dinner and then it was time to get ready for the fireworks. Grandpa had sent her a gift card in the mail before our trip so we let her pick out a light up toy to play with while waiting for the fireworks, and then we caught the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. So glad we got to see this since its coming to an end in May! She loved the fireworks despite thinking they were too loud!

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We went back to the hotel that night and somehow the girl was wired still, so we let her go run around in the splash pad until about 9:30, at which point we threw her in a warm tub to clean up and she passed out in about 30 seconds.

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The next morning we got up early and made it to the Magic Kingdom again right at 9am when the gates opened, it was great timing as the lines were not yet too long and once inside, the park felt pretty empty. We even got to see Minnie as she was walking out! Perfect timing! (Main Street doesn’t look empty below, but the rest of the park really was!)

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Our first stop was Fast Passes to meet Repunzel and Tiana. I’d read a lot about saving your fast passes until the afternoon, but there somehow was already a 50 minute wait and so I’m glad I didn’t take that advice and just got the Fast Pass for 9am. We were in and out in about 15 minutes and she was in her glory meeting both!

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I had called Disney on the phone before our trip  to help me find restaurant reservations after I was becoming frustrated at the the fact that everything was booked.  Someone actually managed to get us into Chef Mickeys at 10:30am, it wasn’t in my mind the most convenient time but I really wanted Ada to dine with Mickey and Minnie, so we took it. (I think someone worked some magic because we were guests of the Contemporary Hotel, which is where this restaurant is located.  I can’t confirm this, but I don’t know how else we would have been booked there, when everything said no availability).  This is why we got to the park so early though and what prompted me to book a fast pass, I wanted to get something in before 10:30 breakfast. It involved some back and forth, park hopping, which with the convenience of the monorail made this not the worst scenario. When we left the park the gates were mobbed!! Never try to enter the park around 10:00-10:30 it was crazy! When we came back into the park again after breakfast/lunch around 12:30 the gates were dead again!

Chef Mickeys at this time was also actually a blessing in disguise. Because it was the tail end of breakfast, as people cleared out, no new guests were coming in because they were getting ready to turn over for lunch. So because there were fewer and fewer people, the characters we’re actually starting to come around again.

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We spent the rest of that afternoon in the Magic Kingdom again, and it had gotten crazy busy and super hot! We had fast passes for the Monster’s Inc Laugh Factory, which was super cute and felt amazing inside because it was all air conditioned. We grabbed some ice cream en route to the Haunted Mansion and when we got there, the Fast Pass line was longer then the regular line and we almost skipped it. Luckily, we found a shady spot for about 15 minutes and when I went back the line was down again and so we did that. Ada loves scary things so she was super pumped for the Haunted Mansion. I think she got a little nervous once we were inside but quickly got excited again and she loved it!

When we came out the afternoon Parade was just starting so Ada took the best seat in the house and we watched that before heading out!

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Dad looks super mad because the Internet crashed on the East Coast that afternoon and he was trying to deal with that mess back at his office while fighting crowds and heat in Disney World = Not Happy! But Look at the smile on Ada, if only we all saw the world through a child’s eye!

She fell asleep in the stroller rental we had shortly after that, so once we got to the gates to leave I had to carry her all the way back to the hotel, that was suuuper fun! We had already checked out of our hotel, so we just grabbed a shady lounge chair by the pool and let her nap. I ran up to the hotel shops to get some souvenirs and then we let her run around the splash pad again for about a half hour before jumping in the car to drive “home” (Back to Tampa). We got in around 7pm and she talked Grandma’s ear off about everything we did!!

All in all it was a great way to add to our Florida trip! Next time we plan to stay at the Polynesian Resort and actually just take some time to enjoy the hotel and some of the things around that don’t even require park tickets. There is just so much to Disney World without having to pay hundreds of dollars to go to a park and since we have the family in Tampa and go down so much, its not one of those “once in a lifetime trips”, we can actually just do small bursts of Disney a little at a time, which I think is totally the way to do it!

Tampa, FL

I’m going to do our Florida trip in two parts. We headed south at the end of February, and visited family in Tampa and then did two days in Disney World, but since Disney warrants its own post I’ll do that part separate.

Tampa is amazing for kids and families. I never really did a good post on our trip last year down to visit, when we did the Tampa Zoo and the Florida Aquarium, but since we go to Tampa at least once or twice a year I’ll do that at some point! This time, we were there for a day and a half before Disney and then another day after. Dan’s brother lives there, so we visit a lot and plan to do so even more.

Our first day there this time around, we hit up Datz for breakfast which was amazing! The Monkey bread was to die for, I had chicken and waffles which was so filling for breakfast but super delicious. It was a fantastic place for kids, it was loud and energetic and they gave some fun little wax sticks for the kids which kept them occupied forever.

Afterwards we spent the afternoon at Treasure Island Beach in St. Petes. Ada really loved the beach, my favorite comment from her was “Mommy, I don’t understand how the beach is soo fun?” She just melts my heart with how much she loves and appreciates everything we do with her at this age. I have to remind myself that we don’t have to do over the top things, she is so impressed with the simple things.  The weather was perfect and we had sunshine and family time, so it was the best first day!

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We did two days in Disney afterwards, which I’ll recap later and then had another beach day in Clearwater after we got back. It was fun to break up the trip into two parts and that way we didn’t get burnt out of anything too fast, and I honestly feel like two days in Disney was enough! There’s obviosuly a lot we didn’t do, but to break it up with some beach time made it for a relaxing and fun trip for everyone.

After we got back into Tampa, we spent our last day in Clearwater at a little beach/bar restaurant area called Whiskey Joes.  We could see it from the road as we were driving into Clearwater, and both Dan and I looked at each other and said “I hope we’re going there!” (we were just following the fam). It was like a little private island getaway and on a Wednesday afternoon it was dead, so we basically had the beach and the bar to ourself. We enjoyed some fish tacos, beers, mango mojitos and sunshine! A perfect last day!

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We finished out the day with a stop at the park so the girls could run around in the sprinklers and enjoyed some beautiful views of Tampa Bay, then dinner in the cute little historic area of Ybor. Where we took a stroll through downtown and hit up the Tampa Bay Brewing Company for dinner. Complete with a super amazing Sunset sky!

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What are your favorite things to do in Tampa? We travel there a lot to visit and are always looking for more fun things to do to make our trips different! Suggestions welcome!

Adirondacks Vacation

Dan’s family takes a trip to the Adirondacks in upstate NY every year. They have been doing this for decades now. They stay at the same place and go the same week every year. While I would prefer to explore someplace new every year, I’ve learned to enjoy and embrace this great family tradition. Its always the week before labor day and right before back to school, so it’s a great way to end the crazy summer. In my profession of travel marketing for Niagara Falls, labor day also happens to be the last big, wild and crazy week of the summer tourist season too, so again its a great way to feel like I’ve wrapped up another great year!

This year, we went for 5 days. We don’t usually do a whole lot on this vacation, we have a beach, swing-set, and volleyball court all right at the cabins we stay at, so everything is right there. But the older Ada gets the more active I feel like we need to be, or maybe I just want to take advantage of doing something new on a vacation that we take every year. For Ada though, she is basically experiencing everything for the first time. Even if we did something before, she likely doesn’t remember yet.

This year we started the week out with a family kayaking trip. She loved the first 20 minutes of this, until we were way out in the middle of the lake and she decided that she was all done with this activity and wanted to go back to Grandma. Given that we were out in the middle of the lake, she wasn’t fond of the trip back and just wanted to get out. She did great though, and sat still for me until we got back. No major disasters, just a shorter trip next time. Attention spans are not great at 3!

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4th Lake, Old Forge, NY

We took her on an “easy” hike up Bald Mountain. We were off to a great start until she wanted to be carried. The way up she did half walking and half being carried. My favorite was Daddy carrying her while she sang every song under the sun! The ultimate lazy toddler. It was worth the hike up for the pictures alone. She did enjoy reaching the top (only because I had a bag of fruit loops for her to much on- and she drank everyone’s water- leaving those of us actually hiking pretty hot and thirsty- but you know, her needs come first!) I had to carry her ALL THE WAY back down by piggy back and she of course passed out on the car ride home. Being carried up and down a mountain is exhausting!img_0755img_4315img_0728

We took her out to dinner one night, where she was absolutely amazing. I really credit her great behavior in restaurants to the fact that we take her out frequently. We try not to eat out too much, but when we do, we like to bring her. And I really think she’s been brought up learning how to behave when out in public. I’m not saying she’s perfect every time, and she’s been known to unload every single sugar packet and sort them by color, (but who doesn’t do that?) I also try to make sure I have other “activities” stowed in my purse. Travel coloring books with crayons, sticker books, Little People. I sometimes even let her pick out a few small things that will fit in my purse, that way she is satisfied when we get there and I pull out the things she wanted and remembered packing. – After our dinner the views were just stunning so we had to go outside for a photo-op.img_0852img_0836img_0825

Our last day there was a little cool, but we still had fun! We made monster ice cream sundaes with all the other little cousins and took her on a boat ride, which she loved, despite it being pretty chilly. Ada even let us go out for grown-up night that evening with the other adult cousins (aka all the moms and dads) and she let the older kid cousins baby-sit her since Grandma had to leave vacation early this year. I was a little hesitant if she would even let us out the door, but she was awesome and we were able to have fun with the grown ups for little while. We made it back before bedtime and caught an amazing sunset!img_1026img_0639

All in all it was another great year in the mountains. We came back relaxed and ready to take on the fall. Next year we will have to find some new activities to do with her, but Its fun to just hang out with family, catch some sun and be a little active. Time off from work and time spent with family is something we all need to do once in awhile!

Where we ate in Oahu, Hawaii

This post was a looong time coming, I know the Hawaii trip was awhile ago and I’ve been meaning to write this post all summer, but I wanted to write about all the places we ate while on the island of Oahu. We seriously ate like kings all week and I’m pretty sure I would 100% recommend every meal we had to anyone looking to plan a trip there. With the exception of the one breakfast we had at Denny’s because we foolishly thought it would be cheaper – I mean it was cheaper than any of the other meals we had, but for Denny’s it was not cheap.

Let me start off by saying, if you want to eat out, budget a lot for food in Hawaii. Unfortunately there are no All-Inclusive deals in the US (at least that I have found yet) and while the food was out of this world everywhere we ate, it was not cheap, and we probably could have went on another vacation with the money we spent eating out. There are a lot of things I would do differently next time in order to save some money, but the food was so delicious that I actually don’t regret it one bit! (Don’t tell my husband that, he would disagree). He feels a little jaded towards Hawaii after we added up our expenses!

Our first night we got in late, around 7pm Hawaii time (1am est) so we were exhausted and just wanted to eat food and go to bed. Tropics Bar and Grill was located right on site at our hotel, and it was ocean front so we headed straight for that one. I got the Kalua Pork Nachos, which were so amazing I would have went back and had them every day (had it been an all-inclusive resort).

Our resort had a bunch of different restaurants right on site that all came highly recommended on Yelp and Trip Advisor, so we took advantage of those on several nights. Bali Steak and Seafood was one of our favorites, we ate there twice (despite it being one of the priciest places) it was indoor/outdoor  (mostly indoor) and if you time it right you can catch an awesome sunset (reservations recommended for sure). We went with seafood both times because we just can’t get fresh seafood at home like you can in Hawaii. We always opted for the most authentic Hawaiian fish we could, staying away from stuff like salmon that we can get at home. Ahi Poke, was delightful!

The last restaurant right on property that we really enjoyed was the Rainbow Lanai. We had breakfast there one morning because we read reviews about  an amazing breakfast buffet. That is no lie…. The buffet was out of this world with variety. It had a ton of very European style breakfast items on it and the fresh fruit displays were fantastic (It is Hawaii afterall). We mis-heard the hostess though when we asked how much the breakfast buffet was. We heard $13 (which I’m not sure why in our mind we thought it would actually be that cheap- I guess it was too early) What she actually said was $30. So you can imagine the surprise on our face when they dropped a bill for $72 (plus beverages- not included). Its lucky the buffet was so delicious and that they dropped the bill before we were done, once we saw the price we helped our self to third helpings. We also skipped lunch that day!

On every blog, review, and person I spoke to before going, the one place we were told to go was Duke’s Waikiki. I actually wish we went here more than once too. We went for breakfast on our very first morning and it was a perfect way to start off. It was beachfront, we were able to walk the beach all the way down from our hotel, get a lay of the land,  and we enjoyed a great breakfast buffet, so we were able to try a lot of Hawaiian food that we otherwise might not have spent money on. Dan raved the Banana pancakes! We also had mimosa’s with breakfast that were among the cheapest drinks we’d find all week. I wish we would have went back for dinner another night, the atmosphere was that great!

On my birthday, we went BIG! We started off taking a short walk inland to The Cream Pot. We were recommended to this place by friends that went a few years ago and if they hadn’t told us about it, we never would have found it. The restaurant is super small and absolutely adorable. The decor is so sweet and simple, almost like a charming little dollhouse. Its off the tourist path a little which I think is what makes this place so special. I had the strawberry souffle pancakes and Dan had Eggs Benedict, both were out of this world, and the price wasn’t too bad. cream-pot

For Dinner that evening, Dan had made surprise reservations for my 30th birthday to Nobu Waikiki.  After he told me where we were going I looked it up and come to learn this is where all the celebs go when in Honolulu, one of Obama’s favorite places (Yes!) I was so impressed with him for taking it upon himself to surprise me for my birthday with something so special. This meal could have been much more reasonable, but we were splurging and went with the Waikiki Chef’s Tasting. I couldn’t tell you one thing we ate, but it was all amazing! Basically for a lot of money you let the chef decide what you are going to eat and he pulls out all the stops for about 7 courses. You have to be a little adventurous because it’s all sushi, seafood, weird veggies and sauces, hot and cold dishes etc. I surprised myself by agreeing to do this, but fortunately, being that it was THE most expensive meal we have ever had, it was also the most delicious and amazing food we’ve ever eaten. If you are up for an expensive adventure, this one is fantastic!

The day we rented a car and drove to the North Shore, we made two stops for food. Both were things that were on everyone’s “Must Do” North Shore Hawaii list. We hit up Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck and Matsumoto Shave Ice.

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Both were delicious and well worth all the hype I’ve read online! One place I very easily would have overlooked on Trip Advisor was The Goofy Cafe & Dine. We were so glad we went, that we ended up eating here twice. It was a hole in the wall type place around the corner from our hotel. Just a short walk through the city. You have to go up to the second floor of what looks like a tiny (and kinda dumpy) outdoor shopping center. Once inside it’s a quaint, very beach-house type restaurant, rustic, exposed beams and an amazing super fresh and healthy food menu. Lots of salads, granola, acai bowls etc. I ordered the same thing both times we went because it was that good. We went for brunch one morning and I got a fresh salad with avocado, tomato, bean sprouts and fresh carrot ginger dressing. The second time we went for lunch right before we had to catch our shuttle to the airport and I got the same thing again.

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Lastly,  the one thing that is everywhere in Hawaii is the Acai Bowls. I hadn’t tried one and I had seen them on virtually every menu. So on our very last day, we went to Island Vintage Coffee in the Ala Moana Shopping Center. And I ordered one. It was so delicious I wished I had started every single day with one! I also came home trying to find someplace in Buffalo that makes them and no one makes them like they do in Hawaii!

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If we go again:

There are a lot of things I would do differently next time. I think because it was just the two of us, we were more comfortable with the idea of eating out. If Ada had been with us there is no way we could have gone out that much, I think we would have pushed our luck with good behavior in public. While it was really awesome to try a lot of local food and eat at some famous places, I think it would be worth it to spend a little more and make sure to get a hotel room with a fridge/microwave or small kitchenette. I think it would have saved us a ton to have found a little grocery store and made some meals in our room. Even simple things like oatmeal for breakfast or sandwiches for lunch could have saved us hundreds of dollars. Sampling local cuisine, in my opinion, is half the fun of traveling, so I would never rule it out entirely. Even when we stay at all-inclusive resorts we still like to get out a couple times and try some of the best local restaurants. Just be sure to do some research on the absolute best places to eat before you go, so when you do eat out you can hit up some of the best of the best!

And this is how we could afford to drink all week!! It actually did save us a lot of money!

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Oahu, Hawaii

One week in Oahu, HawaiiIt’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I have some fun news that I’ll share soon so check back for a big announcement! In the meantime I thought I’d share how our big Hawaii trip was!

It was a very looong trip (distance wise) New York is very far from Hawaii and if there is any reason why we wouldn’t go back, that would be it! It was also a looong time to be away from Ada, I decided I won’t do that again either! Aside from that we enjoyed our self very much, and it was great to just be a couple again, not be mom and dad or working all week. I think that was the point of this trip more then anything, we wanted to just have some time to our self, to reconnect, to be adventurous and to sleep! And mission accomplished!

I will say that I didn’t care for Honolulu quite as much as I thought. Waikiki is very touristy and its a big City, and to be honest, that’s exactly what it felt like, any old City USA.  The food was phenomenal though we did not have a bad meal, I’ll do a recap in another post of all our favorite places that we ate on Oahu.

I celebrated my 30th birthday while we were there. We kinda had a  big splurge day that day and did A LOT of expensive things. My hubby spoils me I guess. We started my birthday with a couples massage at our hotel. We stayed at The Hilton Hawaiian Village which was fabulous, and the Mandara Spa actually had really high ratings so we booked that. After our massages we took a snorkel catamaran tour, that again, was right at our hotel, and got to snorkel with the sea turtles. The catamaran was a little shorter then we like, I usually like to spend the whole afternoon out in the open water, but it was still fun and included two free cocktails.

Birthday dinner

Catamaran

We walked to dinner at Nobu-Waikiki and this is where we over-did it a bit. The restaurant came highly rated from some foodie friends that have dined there. Its also known for hosting a lot of celebs when they are in town. Instead of just ordering dinner, we decide to do the Waikiki chef’s tasting, which was a 7 course, (absolutely amazing) display of the chef’s favs. Would highly recommend this, but it came with a hefty price tag!

We took a day to drive  up to the North Shore, which was a lot of fun. We rented a car for only 2 days of our 8 day trip. Most of what we did was walkable from the hotel, but on the days we had the car we were able to really get out and explore which I’m glad we did. We visited Pupukea Park to check out the Banzai Pipeline, there isn’t much to do but watch the surfers since there is no way we were getting in that water. Then we road tripped back up the coast and hit up Waimea Bay, and the little surf town of Haleiwa. We of course tried the garlic shrimp plate at  Giovanni’s Aloha Shrimp and then tried the shave ice at Motsomoto, gotta get it with the ice cream for the best thing you’ll ever have. It was huge though and we probably could have shared one!

Shave Ice

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Day two with our rental car we headed to the small town of Lanikai and hiked the Lanikai Pillboxes. Everything we read said the trail was hard to find, and although it was weird that it was situated in the middle of a neighborhood, we didn’t really have any trouble finding it. The hike was a bit rugged, not difficult for anyone in good health, but there were some steep climbs and boulders to scale. It was a short hike and the view of the “moks” was amazing. You could also see Lanikai Beach from the trail, which was our second stop.  After getting our sweat on, we headed to the beach to relax. My husband has a hard time sitting still and relaxing when he knows we have more stops to make, so we didn’t stay long before we headed back out. We grabbed lunch at this small, hole in the wall place that had excellent Yelp reviews.  We both got a lunch plate. It really was amazing, and probably one of the cheaper meals we had while in Hawaii.

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The second part of the day was supposed to be an afternoon at Hanauma Bay, which out of everything I read before this trip was the ONE THING you HAVE TO do! But of course, we got there and it was closed!! We were able to still go into the park because its a state Nature preserve, but the beach access was closed off due to electricity problems on the beach. The day before it was closed because of jellyfish! What are the chances?!

Instead we did something that we weren’t sure we were going to have time to do.  We did the Byodo-In Temple which was beautiful and so peaceful. It was such a change in pace from Waikiki Beach, where its bustling with people. It was quiet, full of koi fish and black swans. We entered the temple where you have to take your shoes off and then rang the gong before we left. The temple sits in the middle of a giant cemetery with a gorgeous volcanic mountain backdrop. It was a photographers dream!

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On our last morning we decided that we wanted to hike Diamond Head before we left, but of course we didn’t have the car anymore. We found out that Diamond head was only about 3 miles from our hotel, so we put on our running shoes and ran! We ran the 3 miles to the crater, hiked about 1.5 miles up to the top at sunrise and then ran back. It was about 8 miles total and worth every second. The Diamond Head hike wasn’t exactly what I thought it was though.  It was like herding tourists up a mountain, there were so many people and tour groups, and the trail was a path with hand rails, hardly a rugged trail hike, there were also a TON of stairs at the very top, which burned a little after a 3 mile run! But in general totally worth the view at sunrise!

Diamond head

The rest of the trip we did a lot of beach time, we took a surf lesson. We sat at the pool and I feel like the trip revolved around where to eat next!   I wish we did more then one island, although we didn’t really have a lot of time to island hop. I think next time I would do a bit more authentic Hawaii in Kauai, Maui or the Big Island. Honolulu was such a big city it felt like we could have been anywhere. We also like the all-inclusive resorts a bit more because we can plan a little better how much we’re going to spend. We also tend to be big drinkers and the all-inclusive is the way to go for that! We can get beaches, palm trees and warm sunny weather without taking a 17 hour plane ride.

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We loved Hawaii, don’t get me wrong. We had a great time and I definitely want to go back again, but we’d do things a bit differently!

Our Family Trip to the Adirondacks

Just got home from our annual trip to the Adirondacks, It was my 7th year going with Dan’s family and I learn to enjoy it a bit more every year. This year was Ada’s first year, last year I was mega-pregnant! We all had a really great time, she was the perfect age to travel with this year, still young enough that we could relax, but not mobile enough that I had to follow her around. She was happy to just sit on my lap, nap in her stroller and had no problems sleeping, which is always my biggest fear when travelling. She also did great on the 4 hour car ride both there and back!

We took her on a hike, and she loved riding in the backpack with daddy.

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We tried to take her on a boat ride, but that lasted a hot second with the life vest. She did okay at first and then wanted nothing to do with it, so we had to leave her behind with Grandma while mommy and daddy went out.

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She of course loved the swings at the little playground we have right at our cabins, and was more then happy to hang out there all day if we let her!

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She was not too sure about the sand at all. In fact she ended up hating it, I don’t think she liked the feeling of the ground moving under her little feet.  I’m sure by next year she’ll be over that though!

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And of course with such a gorgeous background, I couldn’t resist doing a little photoshoot with my two loves.

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Happy Birthday Ada!!!

Last post on my Ada’s first birthday I promise!  I just simply cannot get over how fast this year went. We couldn’t be more blessed to have had Ada make us a real family and I feel like sometimes I can’t even remember life before she was part of it. I have loved so much watching this little girl grow and change right before my eyes. When we look back at some of the pictures and videos from the first few days she was home with us I can’t even believe it’s the same girl now. The amount of change that happens this first year is like nothing else. I hope not every year goes this fast but she has really shown me what life is all about. Not everyday is beautiful, and I certainly have moments where I feel like I miss the old life we had, but I couldn’t imagine ever not having her be part of me. She has made me feel like a bigger and better person. I’m a mom and that’s the most important role in my life now!

I struggled a lot this year with having to work full time and not being with Ada, especially early on when she was so tiny. And I struggle a lot now that she is a little older and more fun and interactive. This summer was hard when I knew she was splashing in pools, toddling through the sprinkler or playing outside in the sun while I was working. It wasn’t in our cards for me to stay home at this point in our life and I know it’s not going to get any easier, even though people say it does.

We both took the day off today and we took Ada to the zoo. It was so nice to spend the day together, we had so much fun and we look forward to celebrating many more special birthday’s with our little lady!  Happy Birthday to my one and only Ada Morgan!

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Our 2013 in Review

I know March is already almost over but I meant to do a nice post about our 2013 for the record book. Last year was filled with so much fun and excitement as well as some big life changes. As everyone jet sets into 2014, I wanted to take a minute to remember what an awesome year we had.

January-
The beginning of the year started out just like any other year! Drunk on New Years Eve followed by some fun nights out. Here is the picture we posted on Facebook wishing everyone a Happy New Year as well as my last crazy night out before we found out that life was about to change.

Happy 2013!
My last crazy night out

February- 
Technically we found out at the very end of January, but we told all our family on my 27th Birthday, February 3rd, that Baby Mags was expected in September/October. We also celebrated our last Valentine’s Day alone and began our kitchen renovation!

 

 

March-
In March we traveled to South Beach in Miami for a Half Marathon. I didn’t know when I signed up for this that I would be 8 weeks preggo, but we went down anyway with our friend Paul. Him and Dan completed the half with little to no training and I decided I would be better off to stick with the 5k since I was having very bad back pain at the beginning.

 

My shirt says Running for two, which is hard to read here!

April- 
In April we took our last vacation childless to La Romana, Dominican Republic. We went down with a few of my girlfriends from High School, and some guy friends of theirs who became our new friends too! We had an awesome trip, Dan came back 10 pounds lighter from some sort of stomach sickness and we took our announcement photos so we could make our big news “Facebook Official”

Our Facebook Post read: “Dan and I are excited to announce the new addition to our family! Baby Mags will be here in early October!”

May- 
In may we found out that our new little addition was a baby GIRL! We shared the news with a fun gender reveal party. I also went out and celebrated my sister’s soon to be marriage at her Bachelorette Party!

June- 
June I ran my last 5k race of the summer with my girlfriends. We did the Color Me Rad 5k. I celebrated my best friends baby shower, who had her little boy just 5 weeks before me, and I went full steam ahead with decorating the nursery once we knew we were having a baby girl!

 

July-
July was full of summer parties, hanging out with friends by the pool and my beautiful sister’s wedding day!

 

 
August
August we celebrated the soon to be arrival of Baby Ada with a beautiful shower hosted by our moms and sisters.
 
Me with a bunch of my girlfriends
All the babies that were to come
September
Of course the most exciting part of this whole year was welcoming little Ada Morgan into our life on September 22, 2013. She has changed our life in more ways then we ever could have imagined and cannot even remember what life was like before she was here!

 

 

 

October
I’ll be honest October was a blur, I don’t really even remember it happening this year. But we did host a baby Halloween at our house near the end of the month!

 

November – 
In November I donated my long hair to locks of Love, turns out babies pull hair, so I gave mine to a good cause. We also celebrated Ada’s first Thanksgiving, along with lots of Football parties with all the other babies born this year and lots of playtime and snuggles with my angel before my maternity leave was over at the end of the month.

 

 

December –  
To close out the year we had a photo shoot with Dan’s cousin while we went to go get our Christmas tree. We had lots of holiday parties which involved getting a baby sitter lots of times and celebrated Baby’s First Christmas!

 

 

 

 

And that’s what happened last year!! Its going to be a tough year to beat as so many wonderful things happened and we are so lucky to have such awesome friends and family to share all our adventures with. I look forward to watching this little beauty grow, but kinda wish time would slow down a bit, its amazing how fast a year goes now!
xoxo
-S

14 Weeks

We spent week 13 in the Dominican Republic on vacation, so I took my 14 week photos at the tail end of the week! I feel like the baby bump started to show up a little bit this week, I still think I just look chubby but everyone else says I look pregnant. Vacation was amazing, even being at an all-inclusive resort not being able to drink was made tolerable by 86 degree days, sunshine and the bright Caribbean! So I can’t complain. We also finally took some photos to make our big reveal on Facebook, I’ve been trying to put this off for as long as possible, but I think my mother will go crazy if I don’t give her permission to announce that she is going to be a grandma soon. So after my 14 week update I will share some of those photos that are going up this week too.

How far along? 14 weeks today
Total weight gain/loss:  I weighed in today 2 lbs heavier, I think vacation and the all you can eat buffet is to blame on this one though!
Maternity clothes?  Just my leggings which are really the only comfortable thing I can wear to work
Stretch marks?  Nope
Sleep: I don’t have a good update on this since our bed on vacation was the worlds most uncomfortable mattress and pillows and caused me to wake up every hour all week
Best moment this week: Being on vacation! Probably our last one child less!
Have you told family and friends:  Yes, everyone close to us knows, Facebook Official is coming soon
Miss Anything?  Wine (of course) Not drinking on vacation wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I do miss cheese… brie, feta, bleu, it was on a lot of food in the restaurants this week and I had to just pick other things.
Movement:  I feel pregnant. I don’t feel the baby yet, but I sometimes can feel hard spots in my tummy or feel like I can feel things shifting around. Weird.
Food cravings:  I really wanted yogurt, granola and fresh fruit something bad this morning which isn’t anything I ever really liked combined before.
Anything making you queasy or sick: No
Have you started to show yet: Depends on the time of day and what I ate on how big, but yes I think so.
Gender prediction: I am still so torn. I’m gonna stick with boy for now since that was my original guess, but I have no idea
Labor Signs: No
Belly Button in or out?  In
Wedding rings on or off?  On
Happy or Moody most of the time: Happy!

Looking forward to: Going to register for the big baby items next weekend! Finding out the gender May 9! (This will be my answer to this question every week until May 9!)

 

So this was our second idea, that we thought conveyed the message better!