Category Archives: Travel

A Tropical Vacation with 2 Babies {FDR}

Franklyn D Resort Jamaica

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been like 5 million years since I wrote a blog post, I’m still alive! Things are going great, the boys are at such a fun age right now (15 months), holy crap how did that happen? They are legit almost toddlers now. I know, it’s so cliché but seriously, where does the time go? I’ve been busy with work and when I’m not working, I’m trying to spend every second soaking in time with the boys. The truth is, I just don’t have a lot of recipes to share with you these days. I still cook dinner most days of the week but as I cook I’m usually running back and forth between the counter and their high chairs, chopping veggies, throwing more food on their trays, getting their cups from the fridge, heating the pan up, forgetting about the pan, picking up all the food off the floor, getting more food for them, you get the point… My ability to be super creative or the time to photograph as I go just isn’t there at the moment. I’m going to try to post more often though, even if I don’t specifically have any food stuff to share.

Today, I figured I would write a detailed review on our recent stay in Jamaica because a bunch of friends with kids are interested in booking a trip for themselves and keep asking me about it and I have SO much to say, it’s probably better to do it here than to write an hour long Facebook post.

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We stayed at Franklyn D Resort in Runaway Bay Jamaica. This is the ultimate place to go if you’re looking to vacation with your kid(s). If you’re looking for the short of it and don’t want all of the details. JUST GO. Click on it, book it and GO. Seriously, if you think too much about the logistics of traveling that distance WITH the kiddos, you won’t do it, just don’t think about it and do it. FDR makes it possible. And not just possible, but enjoyable, fun, and wait for it…. RELAXING.

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Basically, we were in desperate need of some sun, relaxation & some time away. Getting away for that long without the kids wasn’t really an option and we actually kind of like spending time with them 🙂 so we figured there had to be an option where we could get all of these things AND bring the kids with us. How you wonder? How can you travel and stay in a hotel with two 15 month old babies who cry and need to be changed and nap twice a day and go to bed at 7pm? And still relax and enjoy yourselves?

This is how…

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At FDR, every single room automatically comes with a personal vacation nanny! Yes you read that right, you get an amazing, experienced, caring person that will love and care for your children while you read by the pool or go climb a waterfall, or enjoy a nice dinner out with your husband. They are all amazing women who have cared for children for many years and want to make your children happy and your vacation awesome. Our nanny Tamara has been working at FDR for over 15 years (if you book a trip, make sure you request her). They even cater to children with special needs as well.

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Wondering exactly how it works? Your nanny will meet with you when you arrive and you can go over your plans/needs/wants, schedules, allergies, etc…  She will arrive every morning at 9:00 and is done at 4:40. They get an hour lunch break from 12:30-1:30. If you would like her to stay late or come back later so you can go out to dinner, you pay her $7/hour for any time beyond that (although they’re amazing so you should definitely pay them more than that).  If you’re not at your room, they’ll come find you on the beach or in the restaurant. You can choose to have them take the kids that entire time, or you can pick and choose when you need them. Maybe you want to hang out on the beach with the kids but want an extra set of hands around if you need to go get something (like a drink) :).  During the time that they’re with the nanny, they will hang out in the kid’s club where they have tons of toys & activities or play at the beach or in the pool. For the older kids, they have activity schedules every day with fun events for all ages. If you need an additional nanny, you can request one for $25/day.

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I was worried that the boys would be so out of their element and the trip would be so rough that they were going to be super grumpy but they settled right in. They loved Tamara and all of the wonderful staff that so obviously care about the children. I’m not going to lie, the flights were not super fun as you spend the entire time trying to keep a squirmy child on your lap and not climbing on top of the people next to you. Next time we will get a direct flight and buy extra seats for them, it would be SO worth it!  The transfer from the airport is about an hour to an hour & a half. I didn’t mind it as the scenery was beautiful. They have a complimentary shuttle from the airport which was fine but they stop at a few other resorts on the way. We chose to pay $100 for a private transfer on the way back and it was great. No extra stops and they have car seats available. We lugged our 2 car seats all the way there and back (gate checking them) which was a little stressful so it’s nice to know this for next time.

We arrived after delayed flights at 11:30pm with 2 screaming babies. The staff were waiting for us when we arrived and quickly whisked us & our bags right to the room. They had 2 plates of dinner ready for us which we gobbled down ravenously the second we got the kids to bed.  We were about to go to bed when we realized that we were going to need to go find some milk to have for the kids in the morning but when we checked the kitchen, it was completely stocked with milk and Cheerios. Seriously. These people know kids.

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The beach was very nice and completely set up for the kids with plenty of shovels, buckets & sand toys.  It isn’t very big but you have access to the long beach next door at the Jewel Resort.  It’s perfect for the kids and completely acceptable for lounging on the beach for the day.

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They have a big waterslide which is a ton of fun for the older kids (and adults), we had a blast on it. There are also smaller slides at the pool for the younger kids along with a few shallow pools for splashing around. On Wednesday night they had a Jamaican beach BBQ with an impressive array of food & night entertainment which was a lot of fun.  It’s an all-inclusive resort so your room price includes all the food & drink you want. Your nanny is also your housekeeper so she will tidy up while the kids nap and keep the fridge stocked with whatever you request.

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The bar was pretty basic but they make a mean Dirty Banana and any other tropical drink or smoothie you might want. The only beer they had was Red Stripe but I was fine with that. I didn’t have high expectations for the food but I have to say that it was solid. Nothing incredible to write home about but very tasty, plenty of variety and lot’s of great authentic Jamaican food which is exactly what I want in a place like that. Breakfast is served as a buffet with an omelette station, oatmeal & cereal station, lots of fresh tropical fruit and plenty of sausage, bacon, pancakes, etc…

Every night they have a kids dinner starting at 5:30 where they serve up a bunch of kid-friendly meals while playing kids songs & movies. Usually people would feed their kids at this time and then their nanny would come back after so they the adults could enjoy a nice quiet dinner by themselves. There are 2 restaurants to choose from every night, they post the menus so you can make your decision. They alternate between Indian, French, Italian, American & Jamaican. You don’t come here for the food but we were very happy and satisfied with everything we had.

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The resort is not new by any means but it is very clean and well-maintained. The rooms are simple and a little dated but clean & comfortable. We weren’t looking to spend much time in the room so this didn’t really matter to us. We got a 2 bedroom suite so they could put the cribs in another room. I’m glad we did as it would have been extremely tight with 2 cribs in a single bedroom.  We had a nice patio with a view of the water and some adirondack chairs to sit & enjoy the breeze in the evening.

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SO, if you’re looking for a glitzy tropical vacation in a big fancy resort, you may want to look elsewhere. And in that case, you’ll probably want to leave the kids at home. But if you’re looking for a great vacation WITH your kids, in a place that feels comfortable and like home, FDR is the place.  It just boils down to the fact that they care. They care that you enjoy yourselves, they care that the kids are happy and entertained, and they care that you’ll want to come back year after year.  They made something that seemed like an unfeasible task totally possible.  I got some sun, read a few books by the pool, climbed a waterfall, got a massage, flew down the waterslide, played beach volleyball, participated in aqua aerobics and met some great really great people, all while getting to enjoy these 3 smiling faces of the people I love.

What are you waiting for? Go book your vacation people!

(Feel free to reach out if you have any questions that weren’t covered in this way too detailed review) 

 

Lake Champlain Trip

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Well, the party is over! The month of vacations is complete, its back to the old grind.  We had a fantastic week in Burlington VT with family and friends.  We’ve rented a house there for the past few years and it’s always a great time that I look forward to all year.

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The week is full of kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, walking & relaxing on the porch reading.  It’s the perfect vacation to decompress, relax and enjoy good company.

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We all had a great time but there is someone who definitely beat us all out on the fun-o-meter.  Mr. Oto Van Wigglesworth.  He is OBSESSED with swimming and having a house on the lake is his ultimate dream.  I’m pretty sure he goes to sleep every night dreaming of swimming and wakes up every morning thinking about when we’ll allow him to go back out.  Needless to say he was pretty exhausted by the time we came home.

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The greatest part about renting a house on vacation is the ability to cook your own meals and keep things a little healthier.  I didn’t remember to take pics of every meal but I snapped a few.  This night we had grilled chicken shawarma with tzatziki sauce along with a farro vegetable salad and a watermelon, blueberry & feta salad.

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My dad made some amazing fall-off-the-bone ribs one night and we served it with a mint cucumber salad, cole slaw & roasted potatoes.

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There were lots of Klondike bars consumed…

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And lots of sunsets enjoyed…

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OH, and I picked 5 pounds of blueberries, hopefully I can make something for you guys before I eat all of them 🙂

Hope you all had a fantastic week as well!

Our West Coast Journey Part II

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I’m BAAAACK!  Whew, that was quite a trip! A lot of traveling, a lot of walking, a lot of eating and a LOT of fun!  I’m super glad to be home again with our puppy and beautiful New England weather (let’s pretend that tornado didn’t touch down today), but the trip was fantastic!  I tried to capture most of the delicious food we enjoyed since I know you guys love that stuff as much as I do.  Hopefully if you have time to make it to any of these fantastic cities you can give some of these restaurants a try.

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We woke up in Cannon Beach Oregon on Tuesday to a foggy chilly day which was perfect because we were going to be getting in the car to drive to Portland anyways.  Before we left we stopped at Crepe Neptune for some breakfast.  I had a crepe with salmon, spinach, scallions, cream cheese & a mustard dill sauce.  It was SO GOOD! Totally hit the spot for something delicious but light.

After about an hour and a half in the car, we arrived in Portland as the rain subsided and the sun came out.  We checked into our hotel and took a walk to our first destination: lunch.

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I had scoped out the brunch menu at Tasty N Alder before we arrived and I knew that it was going to be right up our alley.  It was probably one of the best meals of the trip.  We started out with some Potatoes Bravas as a little flash back to our Spain trip.  We also shared a breakfast sandwich with a flaky buttermilk biscuit, house made sausage, egg & cheese.  Not pictured was a korean dish with sesame rice, pickled veggies, egg and super flavorful chicken (similar to a bi bim bop).  Everything was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and seasoned to perfection.

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We didn’t really have any agenda in Portland other than to eat and explore the different neighborhoods in the city.  After lunch we headed up to N. Mississippi Ave to walk around the shops.  We also had some smoothies from this fun smoothie truck where you get to blend your own smoothie on a bike-powered blender.  How Portland is that??  We spent the rest of the day walking, walking and more walking.

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For dinner I had made reservations at Olympic Provisions which was hidden in this weird industrial neighborhood but it was certainly worth the trip.  We started off with a cheese board, some home made pickled vegetables and a charcuterie platter including all of their amazing house cured meats.

After appetizers we got an evil idea.  We decided that since we were only in Portland one night, why not head somewhere else to enjoy our main dish?  We had heard a ton about the famous Thai restuarant Pok Pok so we decided to head on over to give it a try for ourselves.

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We arrived at 8:30 on a Tuesday night and they said the wait was going to be over 2 hours.  I was ready to walk away when they said, “unless you’d like to sit at the counter?”  UM YAH! Of course we’ll sit at the counter.  Who would wait over 2 hours when you could sit immediately?  SO, we sat down and got to work right away.

We had to try some of their famous Ike’s wings which did not disappoint, they were probably the best wings I’ve ever had. Ever.  Although we were hardly able to make a dent in them because we were so full, we ordered two main dishes: some ribs with two dipping sauces, sticky rice and vermicelli noodles with catfish, herbs and a sweet peanut sauce.  I had to be rolled out of there but it was worth the trip.

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On Wednesday we woke up super early and jumped on a plane to head to San Francisco.  We were blessed with 2 GORGEOUS days of weather!  We spent most of our time walking the city, up the hills and down the hills.  We walked almost 20 miles while we were there.  The only time we got in a cab was to go to and from the airport.

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We were pretty hungry for lunch by the time we settled in to our hotel so we found a place around the corner.  I had a tuna sandwich with avocado & tomato along with a strawberry green salad and some pickled veggies.

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For dinner we met a friend at Farmer Brown.  They are known for their southern soul food but I opted for something a little different and it was so good!  It was a special on the menu that night: ravioli stuffed with beef brisket and topped with a smoked tomato sauce. Yum.  It was pretty light for pasta, it was the perfect serving size.

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We woke up to a gorgeous sunny day on Thursday morning so we decided to enjoy the sunshine a little bit and walk a mile to a breakfast place that got great reviews on Yelp called MyMy.  It took forever to decide what I wanted but I settled on this omelette with asparagus, scallions, bacon & cheese topped with a grilled tomato.  Let’s just say it was worth the mile walk.

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Later, we decided to make our way down to the Ferry building to check out the Farmer’s Market and all the amazing food shops inside.  I was so jealous of the locals who work around there and get to visit that place for their lunch break every day.  There were SO many incredible options.

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We decided to take a nice seat outside on the water at the Hog Island Oyster Company that had been recommended to us by a few different people.  We shared a bowl of clam chowder and some mussels in a white wine mustard sauce.  OMG. Best clam chowder ever.  The beautiful day and view of the bay didn’t hurt either.

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This is a horrible photo but my dinner was equally as delicious.  We met some friends at a French Vietnamese restaurant called Le Colonial.  We started off with the brussel sprouts which were probably the best brussel sprouts I’ve ever had.  For my main meal I had a shrimp dish with mango, eggplant, veggies & a SUPER flavorful curry sauce. It was a fantastic night of food and even more fantastic company catching up with some friends who live in SF.

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What a great trip! Thanks to all of our fantastic family & friends for all of the suggestions and recommendations, I wish we had time to squeeze everything in.

Now its time to eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible and cross fit my butt off!

WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY (besides vacation):

Coming home to this face.

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He always gives us something fun to come back to.  He was more tired than I’ve ever seen him after playing with his buddies for over a week.  He could barely make it up the stairs but he crawled right into his crate and stayed there for the rest of the day. He’s just starting to get his normal energy back 🙂 Love this little dude!

 

 

 

Our West Coast Journey, Part I

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Hey Guys! Checking in to say hi and share some fun adventures from our trip to the West Coast.  We are currently in Portland and heading on to San Francisco soon so I’ll update you on that later.  We started the trip last Thursday by flying from Boston to Seattle, then taking a shuttle bus and a ferry which landed us on San Juan Island in Washington.  The picture above is the massive Mt. Baker in the distance.

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We stayed in the cutest little harbor on the island called Roche Harbor.  It basically feels like you’re in some sort of fairytale land or movie set.  There are hundreds of multi-million dollar yachts docked in the harbor with cute little shops along the pier along and a fantastic restaurant that was able to keep us coming back for more after 3 meals there.  We spent 2 days here and I think it was the perfect amount of time.  We were able to relax and walk around and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

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The weather was a little chilly (anywhere from 55-65) but the sun was warm and it didn’t stopping us from eating our meals outside on the deck.  I didn’t take pictures of it but I enjoyed a delicious Lamb Burger for lunch one day and a beet salad and pizza for dinner.

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We took a nice walk on Friday morning through the woods and a local sculpture garden trail.  The trees and landscape were beautiful to look at.

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We had some fun with some of the sculptures like this mirror on an easel.

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The real reason for us to make the trip out here was to join in on the wedding celebrations for my beautiful cousin and her new husband.  The wedding was gorgeous, the weather was perfect, the setting was beautiful and every detail was perfectly thought out.  You can see a pic above of the beautiful reception space.  I feel lucky to have such a great family that I’m close with, I wish that we all lived closer to each other but its great to have events like this to bring everyone together.

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After heading back from San Juan island we spent the night on Bainbridge Island off of Seattle and then took the ferry in on Sunday morning to rent a car and spend some time walking around the city.  Of course we had to make a stop at Pike Place to check out the produce and fun fish throwing.  I’m always so annoyed that I can’t go shopping at these markets and buy stuff to go cook at home, its like torture.  I settled for a honeydew bubble tea 🙂

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After Seattle we drove down the coast to Cannon Beach Oregon where I got to show Tom the famous “Goonies” rocks.  The beach was beautiful and we spent a lot of time walking around the cute little town and hanging out on the beach.

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For dinner the first night I had a delicious seafood stew with salmon, haddock, shrimp, clams, and crab. It hit the spot after a lot of heavy meals leading up to it.

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We found a fantastic spot to eat on the water and I ordered up the famous Crab Louie salad I was seeing on all of the local menus.  The crab was really fresh and it was great to get some fresh vegetables.

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We ended up at a fantastic restaurant the second night called The Irish Table.  Its this cute little place that takes over the space of a coffee shop at night and serves up some delicious food.  We started off with some mussels in a curry white wine garlic broth (holy yum).  I could dip their homemade whole wheat soda bread in that stuff ALL DAY LONG!

For a main dish I ordered the fresh fish over arugula & fingerling potatoes.  I have to admit that the fish was a little under seasoned but the amazing mussels totally made up for it.

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We finished up the day by grabbing some beach towels and watching the sun set on the beach.  This has been a fantastic trip, I can’t wait to share our adventures in Portland & San Francisco when we get back.  Hope all is well with you guys!

Ta ta for now!

 

 

 

 

WIAW #62: Chicago Edition

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Happy What I Ate Wednesday!  Today I’m bringing you a special edition of WIAW featuring all of our eats from our weekend trip to Chicago.  Tom & I made a bucket list a few years ago and “Eating in Chicago” was one of the items on the list.  We decided to take advantage of the 3 day weekend and take a trip to the windy city and hunt down some delicious eats.  Well, lets just say we didn’t have to hunt too far! This city is FULL of amazing restaurants, casual eateries, shopping, bars, architecture and beautiful scenery.  Ok, yes, it was cold. Everyone thought we were crazy for going during the winter but its cold in Boston so why not be cold in Chicago instead?  It made it that much better when we got all cozied up inside a nice restaurant.

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We landed in Chicago at 7:30 on Saturday morning so we decided not to waste any time and jump into a delicious breakfast.  Our first stop was at Wildberry Cafe.  WOW! Yum-o-yummo!  I had the Napa Valley Fig omelette with california figs, scallions, applewood bacon, aged havarti & olive oil alongside some hash browns.  Instead of toast I decided to splurge on a signature Berry Bliss Pancake which were pancakes stuffed with Maine blueberries, layered with wildberry mascarpone and topped with blackberries, strawberries, vanilla cream anglaise & blackberry coulis. I would definitely go back there, it was probably one of the best breakfast places I’ve ever been to.

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After breakfast we walked down through Millennium Park and visited Chicago Institute of Art.  It was the perfect place to cozy up inside as the snow started to fall.

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For lunch we were able to pull together a little impromptu reunion with some great old friends from High School who live in the city.  We went to a great restaurant called Quartino.  We shared a pizza, some calamari, dates wrapped in bacon & caprese salad.

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My favorite meal of the trip was dinner on Saturday night when we visited a restaurant called Balena.  It was the type of dinner where you can close your eyes and savor every single bite, all of the flavors were so complex and delicious.  We started off with beef tartare and arugula tossed in a black truffle vinaigrette along with burrata that was served with a marinated bean salad and pickled tomato vinaigrette.

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The cocktail I had was probably one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had.  It was a mixture of St. Germain, Russian Standard, Fragoli, Prosecco & Wild Strawberry.

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One dish that I forgot to take a photo of was the potato gnocchi with beef heart bolognese and pecorino romano.  The dish pictured above was a sausage pizza.  Sounds simple enough right?  There was nothing simple about it. I really don’t know how to explain it but it was seriously THE. BEST. pizza I’ve ever had.  Every single bite was exploding with unexpected flavors.  I would travel back to Chicago just to have another bite of that pizza. Oh wow.

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We planned to have brunch around 11:30 on Sunday so we decided to stop by The Protein Bar in the morning to pick up a smoothie to hold us over.  It was probably the only healthy item I consumed the entire weekend but it was delicious!  I’m hoping they open one of these up in Boston, it was fantastic!

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To pass some time we stopped by Eataly.  We’ve been to the one in New York and this one in Chicago was equally as fabulous.  Full of a mouth-watering array of meats, cheeses, breads and imported Italian foods.  We heard from a friend that they actually had to shut down for a little while because they were so busy after opening that they couldn’t keep up with the demand.  I’m glad it was back open and we were able to check it out, even if it was torture to see all that amazing fresh food and not being able to buy anything to cook at home.

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We met a friend at The Purple Pig for brunch on Sunday.  He told us to get there at 11 for when they opened at 11:30, we were sure glad that we did because a huge line formed and we were able to get a table right away.  We started off with a cheese platter and some duck prociutto.  Next we enjoyed some razor clams with lemon, herbs & olive oil.  We had to try the famous bone marrow and it didn’t disappoint.  My favorite dish I forgot to photograph, it was Pork Neck Bone Gravy with Ricotta.

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We did a little bar hopping to watch the game on Sunday.  It was sad that the Pats lost but it made it a little better that we got to watch it in some really great local hang outs.  One of our favorite bars was a place called Headquarters Beercade.  It’s a bar full of free arcade games, great beers and sweet bloody mary garnishes (is that not the most ridiculous garnish you’ve ever seen?)

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For dinner we visited the famous Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab.  I didn’t take many photos because I was wrapped up in how good everything was so you’ll just have to take my word for it.  The service & ambiance was outstanding and all of the food was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  We started off with some rock & stone crab and then we shared some chicken, a bone in filet and some potatoes and grilled tomatoes.  We were too stuffed for dessert but they brought us a delicious slice of Key Lime pie on the house.  Its things like this that can really make an experience.

After dinner we went to a few bars to watch the Sea Hawks game which was fun.  We ended up a late-night bar called Cheesies where they make all different types of grilled cheese sandwiches.  It was a really fun place and we saw a Ryan Gosling look-alike. It actually might have been him, I don’t know – it seriously looked EXACTLY like him.  Ryan – were you in Chicago this weekend? Eating a grilled cheese sandwich? I know you read my blog. Hello?? Ryan?….

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For breakfast on Monday we went to Yolk.  It was good but I think Wildberry was much better.  We walked around on N. Michigan Ave. to do some shopping until we worked up enough of an appetite to enjoy a Chicago style hot dog at Portillos.  I only had a bite of Tom’s since I wasn’t too hungry but it was pretty delicious.

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Overall it was a fantastic trip to the windy city, we’ll definitely be making a trip back some day.  It’s amazing what you can experience in 3 short days. Thank you to all of our amazing friends who dropped what they were doing and showed us around the city.

If you don’t hear from me for a few days, I’ll be at crossfit and slurping green smoothies… 🙂

Happy Eating!


 

 

 

 

 

A Florida Weekend…

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In case you were wondering where I’ve been, we’ve been busy enjoying an awesome mini vacation in Jacksonville Beach Florida 🙂  Some of our really close friends were getting married and we knew we wouldn’t want to miss it.  It was a fantastic weekend with great people!!

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As much as I’ve been loving the beautiful fall weather in New England, it was so nice to get a little taste of summer again.  Every day was sunny and beautiful, we spent lots of time strolling the beach and soaking in the sun.

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According to Tom’s fit bit we walked a total of 36 miles in the 4 days we were there.  THIRTY SIX.  How awesome is that?  We started every morning with a 3 mile walk to Starbucks and then proceeded to walk everywhere which was not only great exercise but probably a good idea considering the amount of alcohol that was consumed.

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Despite the alcohol consumption, it was actually a fairly healthy vacation.  We were smart about sharing smaller meals and getting lots of exercise.  I usually feel like diving into a pool full of vegetables when I come home from vacation but I actually feel pretty good!

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The wedding was stunning, the bride and groom were gorgeous and the day was perfect.  There was a massive downpour about 10 minutes before the beach ceremony and then a giant rainbow arched over the ceremony site and the sun came back out.  The reception was held at her grandfather’s car museum which was super cool.  The cars were amazing and it was such a unique place to have a wedding.  There was a lot of laughing, tears of joy, dancing and fun!

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I feel so lucky to have such a great group of friends, it was so nice to spend time with everyone this weekend along with making new friends. I also feel lucky to have such a great husband that I enjoy traveling with.  We’re so similar and enjoy doing the same things which makes for some fantastic trips! This will certainly be a weekend we will remember.

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I’ll be back this week with some recipes like this awesome chili!  Hope you all had a great weekend!

 

 

 

Our Trip To Europe

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Guess what?? Want to know a little secret?  We’ve been in Europe for the last week.  You had no idea did you?  I didn’t want to announce it before we left because I didn’t exactly want to broadcast the fact that our house would be vacant for over a week, but now I can and I have SO much to tell you!

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Our destination was Valencia Spain.  We were visiting some friends who live there and we were able to coordinate being there during this amazing festival they have every March called Las Fallas.  We had quite a dramatic trip there, we missed our connection in Zurich Switzerland and they weren’t able to fly us out until the next day so we ended up spending an unplanned day there.  It was a little frustrating at first but we ended up having a great time exploring the city.  Despite the fact that I didn’t have a jacket and froze my little A#*@SS off, we had fun walking through the gorgeous old streets.

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Everyone was SO nice, we had no idea where we were going and everyone we asked was so friendly and willing to help us.  Everyone spoke English as well which was very helpful. They speak a version of German that has Italian, French & Spanish influences which makes it pretty much impossible for tourists to learn the language so it seems that everyone also learns English.  We would love to come back here some time with a little more planning and time!

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For dinner, I wanted something that was a local favorite.  I always try to eat as the locals do when I’m traveling, you always get the best food that way.  When in Rome… right?  It also probably helps that I’ll eat pretty much anything.  This dish was shredded potato hash topped with local veal sausage and a sweet onion sauce.  It was massive so I wasn’t able to finish it but it was delicious!

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After another cancelled flight the next day, and a last-minute decision to fly to Madrid, then take the train for the last leg of the journey, we FINALLY arrived in Valencia last Friday.   They lost our suitcase of course, but we were just happy to be there.

We enjoyed all of the spectacular events of Las Fallas.  They build these massive monuments on almost every corner in the city which they call Fallas.  They are absolutely amazing and often have a social or political theme behind them.  The artists spend the entire year building them to be displayed only for these 4 days.

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The Falleras dress in traditional clothing and parade through the streets carrying flowers that they bring as an offering to the virgin.  Here you can see the virgin behind us with her dress made out of flowers:

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They have spectacular light shows throughout the city, this is the most impressive light show here:

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Every night they had the most amazing fireworks, I have never in my life seen anything like it.  Imagine 25 minutes of a 4th of July Fireworks Finale.  We were lucky enough to watch the last show from a friend’s roof deck.

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And the food? Oh the food! It was fantastic!  Can we say HAM?  Holy ham.  We were able to sneak some back with us so we’ll be savoring that for the next week or so and imagining we are back in the warm Valencian sun.

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We had fresh squeezed orange juice every morning with oranges grown on trees just down the road.

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The central mercado was an amazing building filled with vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, bread & cheese.  I felt like a little kid in a candy store.

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The friend’s we were staying with had a fantastic terrace on their roof with a big outdoor kitchen.  On a sunny Saturday afternoon we had a bunch of friends over and Carlos showed me all of the steps to make a perfect Paella.

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I probably won’t be able to recreate it but I’m going to get myself and pan and give it a try.  It was insanely delicious.  It made me feel so lucky that we had such great hosts to welcome us into their lives and show us the real culture of Spain.  I would so much rather be drinking a beer, making Paella and laughing with great people than running from one tourist site to another.

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There was so much to see in the city, we spent a LOT of time walking, I was glad I brought some comfortable shoes.  The streets were filled with people, music, and good times.

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So remember that beautiful artistic monument I showed you above?  On the last day of the festival, they light a string of firecrackers around it and watch it burn down.  It is amazing to watch.

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I couldn’t help but think that this would never happen here.  Can you imagine an American city allowing them to light statues on fire a few stories high only a few feet from buildings? It wouldn’t happen.  You would also be amazed at the amount of fireworks and firecrackers people have in the streets.  It’s a little startling when you first get there but by the 4th day you see a firecracker explode by your shoe and barely blink an eye.

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We went to this great little cocktail place that squeezes fresh juices and then makes these HUGE cocktails that you share with your friends.  It was a great place to go for some pre-dinner drinks.

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We spent the last day exploring the coast and the beautiful mediterranean.

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We had a fantastic picnic at the beach with fresh salad, ham, cheese & bread.  It was picture perfect.

Thank you to Mayte & Carlos for showing us an amazing time and to your family & friends for being so warm & welcoming and putting up with our horrible Spanish.  We will practice more for next time! Promise!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling to the Land of Lobster & Blueberries

Hope everyone had a great labor day weekend!  We just got back from an awesome trip to Camden Maine.  It’s amazing how just a 3 day weekend away can feel like a full vacation.  I feel relaxed and ready to dive into my (4 day 🙂 work week!

We arrived on Friday and took a little hike up the mountain where we were staying.

I wasn’t quite aware what I was in for when we set out for our “walk” with Oto but we ended up hiking this never-ending road to the summit.  It was one of those hikes where you think you’re nearing the end and then you round the corner and it just keeps going and going…

But the view at the top was gorgeous and we got a great workout in (which was needed when you see what we ate for dinner that night).

We went into Lincolnville for dinner at a little place called The Whale’s Tooth Pub.  It was right on the water and they had an entire specials board full of mouth-watering dishes.  Tom & I both ended up ordering specials.  Tom got a super spicy Jambalaya served over pasta:

I thought I was making a healthy decision by ordering the lobster crab quiche salad but this is what they put in front of me:

Well, it wasn’t what I was expecting but it was OUT OF THIS WORLD.  Buttery, cheesy goodness chock-full of lobster and crab.  Definitely a splurge meal but hey it’s vacation right?

We hiked up a mountain earlier and I frolicked with deer so I deserved it! (we may have had some blueberry pie for dessert too)

On Saturday, Tom & I spent the morning playing golf and then we met up with my brother & his girlfriend for lunch.

I had a delicious Maine shrimp & avocado salad.

And Tom had a clam strip sandwich.

Afterwards we headed into Camden to do some shopping and check out the windjammer festival.

The weather was absolutely perfect, the town was beyond cute and the festival was great.

While we were downtown, my brother looked up and noticed this mountain looking over the town and it seemed as though there were cars up there.  SO, we decided to go find this mountain.  And we did.  And we drove up.

And it was SO GORGEOUS!  Do you see that sky??? That is not photoshopped at all.  It was a crystal clear day with bright blue skies and a slight coolness to the air.

It was probably one of the best views of water I’ve ever seen.

After speaking with my parents today, I learned that I’ve been up this mountain before when I was little and it was in-fact the place where I became potty-trained.  I guess one day I decided that I was a big girl and ready to use the toilet.  I don’t remember that day but I’m sure I enjoyed the view just as much as I did this weekend.  There was a cool little tower that you could climb up and see a 360 degrees around.

Unfortunately Sunday was a little cold and rainy so we relaxed, had a nice breakfast, went bowling and then watched a movie and went out to dinner.  Overall the perfect 3 day weekend!!

 

WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY:

Dreaming of things to aspire to.

There were so many gorgeous beach houses along the coast of Maine, it made me dream of one day having our dream house right on the water.  We are obviously not too far away, our house is only 5 houses back from the water but I would love to have a view and some outdoor space to enjoy some day.

I don’t know if I would ever want so much money that I could have whatever I want.  Half of the fun of getting nice things is the anticipation leading up to it.  If you’ve wanted something forever, it makes it that much better when you finally get it and you really appreciate it.  If you can just buy anything, it doesn’t have the same value, you’ll just look to the next bigger better thing you can buy.

Until the day comes, I will continue to dream of our house by the ocean…It will happen some day, until then I’ll find happiness in my dreams.

 

 

 

Oto learns to swim…

Vacation continues to completely rock.  We had another gorgeous sunny day yesterday.  We started out the day by playing 3 hours of tennis.  We basically kept going until we could hear our skin sizzle and we ran out of water and only then we were finally able to tear ourselves away from the court.

After tennis we went out for more paddle boarding.  The water was a little calmer today which was nice.

We went out to an awesome dinner at Trattoria Delia in Burlington and had some delicious Italian food.  I’m not going to go into too much creamy delicious details since I’m sure it will increase the guilt I already have for eating such a rich meal but it was worth every bite. Guess we’ll just have to play 4 hours of tennis today to make up for it!

Unfortunately no recipes to share today so I’ll leave you with a video of Oto learning to swim yesterday:

 

More Vacation & Asian Grilled Pork

Another gorgeous day of vacation!

Can’t believe its only Monday and we still have a full week left of this, we’ve had so much fun already.  Tom & I have been out on our paddleboards a bunch, they are just so much fun.

It’s also a great workout trying to carry that huge board up & down hundreds of stairs down to the water.

We spent the morning playing golf & then we hung out in the water all afternoon.  We finally got Oto to go swimming & he is now completely obsessed with it.  He was so tired he could barely walk but kept dropping the ball at our feet, asking us to throw it into the water again.  I’m hoping to get a video of it tomorrow to post, he’s so frigging cute!

And the sunsets, OH the sunsets! SO gorgeous. I know they are a little boring but I can’t stop taking pictures of the sunsets.

This is Tom out paddle boarding at sunset last night:

The lighting was so cool last night. There was a storm & lightning off to our left and then the sun was setting on the right.

One of the best things about renting a house on vacation is that you can eat fresh home-cooked meals and rather than eating heavy restaurant meals every night.  We have a fancy dinner planned for Wednesday night which we’re looking forward to but for now we’re sticking to simple grilled dinners with fresh seasonal ingredients.

We made a delicious mixed grill tonight with some spicy sausage, tomato salad, grilled zucchini & Asian pork.

Everything was so fresh. So summer. SO delicious!

I’m posting the recipe for the Asian Grilled Pork. It’s an incredibly easy marinade and it always turns out awesome.  Just make sure you marinate them for a long time, let that flavor really soak in!

For all of you working this week, I’m sending happy calm vacation thoughts your way!

Enjoy!

Asian Grilled Pork

Allergy Soy
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Occasion Barbecue
Savory Asian grilled pork. Add to a mixed grill for something a little different.

Ingredients

  • 1lb sliced pork shoulder or boston butt
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup

Directions

1. Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Add pork and marinate for a minimum of 24 hours.
3. Grill until cooked through.