Three Days in Georgetown, Malaysia

Our second stop of our #PickensinSEAsia adventure was in Georgetown, which is on the island of Penang in Malaysia. We heard about this destination first in our travel guide, but after doing a bit more research, it seemed like a good stop to build into our itinerary for a few reasons. Georgetown is well known for its culinary culture as well as its rich historical background.

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We arrived to Georgetown (about an hour and a half flight from Singapore), in the early afternoon on day one and after checking into our hotel, we set out to explore. There is one main road in Georgetown (Lebuh ) that has all of the main touristy religious destinations, so those were amongst our first stops.

We first went to Kapitan Keling Mosque, walked past Sri Mahamariamman temple (which was closed at the time), headed over to Kuan Yin Temple and lastly stopped at St. George’s Church. So in the span of a few hours and a few blocks we visited places of worship for Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Catholic faiths. I love that you can see all of these different sights and learn all about these different cultures so close together, it’s a pretty unique experience to say the least.

Afterwards we made our way out to the coast and soaked up the views for a while before touring Fort Cornwallis, which was actually really interesting to see with some of the vintage cannons, the unique shape and the history of the fort on the island. Next to the fort, there was a large field, The Esplanade, that happened to be featuring an exhibit of the United Buddy Bears while we were there. Although we didn’t take any pictures of the bears for who only knows what reason, they were all decorated by artists from different countries and positioned in such a way to be linked when joined to create a united circle. The bears apparently travel around the world for different exhibits and you can look up more on them here.

We wrapped up day one with a walk through Little India and a delicious diner there before calling it a night.

Day two kicked off with a visit to the Blue Mansion, aka Cheong Fatt Tze’s Mansion. If you have any interest in architecture or design at all, or if you enjoy history, or you’re just a fan of great storytelling, the Blue Mansion is worth the trip for the guided tour. We both really enjoyed the tour of the mansion for all of the aforementioned reasons. The interiors and architecture were something else. The colors, patterns, textures… talk about inspiration (I could do a whole post on this place… but I won’t)! The history and the way our guide shared the stories of how the mansion came to be were the icing on top.

After the Blue Mansion, we made our way over to the mint mansion… Okay they don’t call it that, but the colors of Penang and the Georgetown Heritage zone were really special. This second stop was at the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, which also had a really unique history and some great interior and architectural inspiration. We had a tour here as well and our guide was entertaining to say the least. I’d say it was another worthwhile tour here.

When were were finished touring these mansions we found our way to some fresh dragon fruit and pineapple from a hawker stand, and then found our way down to the Klan Jetties. The jetties are series’ of stilt houses that extend out over the water where people still live today. Though many are open to tourists, you should be mindful and considerate as you walk through that these are people’s homes. We walked through the Chew Jetty, one of the more popular Klan Jetties and it was definitely worth the stroll just to see the way some of the people live here. Really unlike anything you’d see back home.

We wandered and meandered through the streets making our way back to the hotel and seeing what else we could see along the way. For dinner we had local Peranakan style cuisine that was so tasty, and followed it up with good old fashioned American dessert at a little cafe we stumbled upon.

Day Three, we opted to find the hop on, hop off bus for Penang. This bus had two route plans, one for the Heritage zone, which we felt we had thoroughly explored and one for the beach route that leads you out to the jungle. We opted for the beach route and the jungle. One winding scenic ride, loads of bug spray and 2 huge bottles of water later, we were at the trailhead and on our way out to Monkey Beach! This trail route is heavily trafficked and very clear with the exception of one tree we had to scootch under. The scenery along the trail was really awe inspiring with the water off to our right following us around the edge of the island and the jungle to our right, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before and it was stunning.

We made it out to the beach and waded in the water, took in the sights and had some snacks. We didn’t see any monkeys on the beach as the name would imply, but we did see monkeys both on our way there and back-it was amazing! There was an option to hike further past Monkey Beach out to Lighthouse Point I believe it was called, and we thought we’d try it, but we got about halfway and the path was a bit trickier which we hadn’t anticipated with our footwear and clothing choices, so we turned back. What we saw on our hike was really incredible, and if we ever go back, I’d definitely make sure to dress appropriately and hike the jungle a bit more.

After climbing out of the jungle, we had a few more snacks and bought more water while we waited for the bus. Then we made our way around the rest of the beach route, enjoying the drive past many other sites on the island. Again, with more time we would have maybe included some additional stops, but we prioritized what we wanted to do and made it through our list. Everything that we did get to see/do in our short time here I would highly recommend to anyone heading this way. Penang and specifically Georgetown, were a great cultural experience all around.

For more on our travels through Southeast Asia, come back Monday–next stop is Kuala Lumpur! Be sure to also read up about our first stop Singapore and continue on with all of the destinations of our trip!

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Three Days in Singapore

I’ve finally been sifting through all of our many many pictures from #PickensinSEAsia so that I could share about our trip. I’m breaking it down by destination and hopefully you’ll enjoy the series. First up is Singapore!

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Three days in Singapore is simply not enough. We really had 2.5 days, but who’s counting. Click on any of the images to enlarge and I apologize in advance for the oversharing of details and imagery, I couldn’t help it!

So, First things first, we landed just after midnight local time which I’d highly recommend (or any late eve landing if you can swing it) so that you can just get to your hotel, go to bed and wake up on the time–it worked swimmingly for us!

Our first day there, we opted to go in search of the hop-on hop-off bus. We’ve found that these are great ways to get to all of the main city sites especially when you have limited time. Most of the key tourist stops will be on one of their routes and you will get earphones with info along the way. The tours are all operated under different companies and you just have to look up where the routes may cross your paths and how to purchase in advance so if it’s cash on the bus, you are prepared to pay.

Unfortunately, despite adjusting well to the time, we didn’t adjust well with our sense of direction. We ended up turning right when we should have turned left and walked through a section of Chinatown, which despite not being part of our plan for that morning, was really interesting and fun. There are walking tours for Chinatown and Little India in Singapore that you can look into, or you can just wander through these areas and explore depending on your travel style.

Once we got ourselves turned around and back on track, we did find the bus and made it over to one of our first sites for the trip: The Singapore Flyer. This high flying ferris wheel was really cool, I’m not a super huge fan of heights, but P loves these types of attractions, and despite the hazy day, we still could see for miles. They say on a clear day you can see all the way to Malaysia, and if we still weren’t oriented enough, this vantage point allowed us to really get our bearings in the city.

When we got our feet back on solid ground we opted to walk across the river and made our way to the Gardens at Marina Bay. This area is one that if we had more time, I’d love to have explored at night with the sculptural trees and bridgewalk all illuminated. It looks stunning in pictures and I’m sure it would have been beautiful to see live. That said, we opted to just walk around the area for a little while, take in the Cloud and Flower Domes and explore the pathways that lead around the garden. It was a great walk, and we were able to pick back up the bus afterwards to keep our day going.

Next up, The Botanical Gardens. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that I love flowers. LOVE. Any flower, any color, I just love them! So walking around the botanical gardens was a must for our trip. The gardens are so peaceful and they have a variety of of little gardens you can walk through. My favorites were the Orchid Garden (worth the fee-the botanical gardens in general are free of charge), the fragrance garden and our walk through the rainforest area.

Once we finished up here, we hopped back on the bus and stopped on Orchard Road, one of the big shopping districts in Singapore. Not really to do any shopping but our hotel and many restaurants were close enough to this stop that we just explored the area as we made our way back towards the Quays (pronounced ‘keys’–little ports along the river).

We had dinner in Clark Quay, sharing the famous Singapore Chili Crab, definitely a must try if you are okay with spicy foods, the flavor was really good, and even though it was extremely messy to eat, it was fun to share the experience and try the dish!

Day two we walked through the Quays a bit more, starting our morning in Clark Quay which is a bit quieter in the daylight than at night, but so beautiful to see with all of it’s pretty colors. We made our way back over to Orchard Road for brunch before finding the bus again (we opted for the 48 hour pass). We road around the city a bit and then transferred to a bus to go to Sentosa Island.

Sentosa Island has free shuttle/trolley transportation all around it, so we made our way to the Southernmost point of Continental Asia. Found a little spot on the beach and relaxed until the heat got to us. The palm trees were just as picturesque as you’d imagine they would be but we couldn’t stand the heat, so we made our way over to the center of the island to visit the Sentosa Merlion. I liked exploring this little part of the island. We got coffee, found a roaming peacock, saw the Merlion up close and then treated ourselves to popsicles before heading back to the bus stop.

From there we made our way back to the city center, hopped off the bus and just meandered. We made the iconic stop at Raffles Hotel and walked through the areas you are allowed if you aren’t a guest and it is stunning. If we win the lotto we will go back to Singapore and stay at the Raffles and have all the Singapore Slings and it will be fabulous. Until then, we will just enjoy the architecture.

We made our way through to the financial area, spotted a few more pretty little buildings and then found ourselves at the Singapore Merlion at sunset. It was the perfect place to see the really remarkable architecture that fills the Singapore skyline. Really a great way to end our last night in Singapore.

We walked along the river after sunset, got a little lost again and then found our way to Boat Quay for dinner where we had more delicious local foods before calling it a night.

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Day three, we took one last look around our area, behind Clark Quay and then called a cab and headed to the airport. We really enjoyed our time here, and although we made a list of all the things we would do if and when we ever come back, I think we filled our time really well and got to see everything we wanted to see.

Overall, Singapore felt like a really modern city, the food was great with a huge selection of cuisine you could get anything, the sites were beautiful and we really got our trip started on the right foot here!

Next stop in Southeast Asia: Georgetown on Penang Island, Malaysia! Check back tomorrow for all of the details.

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Summer Travels | Southeast Asia

Practically the biggest and most exciting personal thing we’ve been working on this summer is hammering out the details for a big summer trip! We are headed to Southeast Asia.

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After a lot of reading and research (primarily with this Lonely Planet Guidebook), scanning pictures, scouring reviews and chatting with people who have been there, we’ve landed on a plan.

In a little less than 2 weeks, we are heading out.. here’s a breakdown of what our trip will look like, once we arrive:

3 Days in Singapore

3 Days in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

3 Days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with a day trip to Cameron Highlands

7 Days in Bali, Indonesia with a day trip to Lombak

Then back to Singapore for a night before we fly home.

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It was so hard to narrow it down to these countries and then these specific locations. When we chose Southeast Asia, we wanted to cover the whole region and see everything, but with limited time away we decided that we would be better off limiting our stops and taking more time in fewer places. Quality over quantity. Slow and steady like our snail friend from our wanderlust reading nook.

If you’ve been to any of these places or areas and you have recommendations, send them our way! I can’t wait to go and experience this trip. It really will be the trip of a lifetime, except hopefully we will go back to the region again at some point to explore the countries and places we aren’t getting to this time around.

I can’t wait to share all the nitty gritty details and what I imagine will be all the stunning imagery once we return. And if you can’t wait to see some of our adventures, follow along with us on social media for updates as we go! (Links below.)

What trips have you been on or been planning this summer? Anything you have dreamed about for ages? Hopefully your summer has been filled with fun!

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Camping in PA

When P and I first started dating, I discovered he had never been camping before! I grew up camping and had always loved it, so the first Memorial Day weekend we were together, I planned a little camping trip for us up in Maine, and ever since he’s been hooked!

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Unfortunately with work and life and all the things, we haven’t made it camping in two years! The first years we were together, we went as often as we could and camped in Vermont, Connecticut, Texas and Louisiana in addition to the first trip in Maine.

This year for hubby’s birthday one of the only things he had on his list was to go camping. I really didn’t know if we were going to be able to get the same time off together, but not only did it work out, last minute we ended up with a fourth day off and were able to leave a day early!

We headed out to Raystown Lake in PA for the first night (the bonus night) and it was a beautiful spot to camp. The restrooms were a little less than desireable for a campground (no running water), but considering we were only there for 24 hours we didn’t really need much.

The scenery was gorgeous and Brantley even went into the lake with us and attempted swimming for the first time. He had so much fun splashing in the lake even though he kept at least his back feet firmly planted the whole time! It was great!

Our second stop was at Keystone State Park about an hour east of Pittsburgh. We chose this destination specifically for it’s proximity to Pittsburgh as we attended a pup night at PNC Park while we were on our trip.

The first night we set up camp and explored before dinner, and of course ended the night with a campfire and s’mores.

The second day we walked be all around the grounds over to the water and back up to our campsite. No swimming for him here, but still nice to see the water. We headed back to camp and made lunch before some rain rolled in… we ducked into the tent and played a card game, read a bit, and even snuck in a nap.

Then we headed into Pittsburgh and we had such a fun time with the pups in the Park! Brantley met 3 other wheatens, which he’s only ever met maybe one or two before ever and it was cute seeing them together. We (or at least I) didn’t really watch the game because there was too much going on with the dogs, but it was a really cute set-up and everyone had a good time. That said, we both agree that we will have to get back to this ballpark sans Brantley to actually enjoy the park and the game, but it was definitely a fun detour!

The third day, we slept in! I haven’t slept in in ages and I got over 8.5 hours of sleep (I’d like to have that again right about now)! We took B on another walk around the grounds, had breakfast and got cleaned up (the bathroom facilities here were great), and then slowly but surely started taking down camp.

We made lunch at the campsite, finished loading the car and were on the road home by 1pm. I had a serious hankering for ice cream and P knew that there was a creamery at Penn State which we were going to be driving within spitting distance of, so we added it as a detour and we were all happier for it–even Brantley!

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The only other stops we made on the way back were for gas and bathrooms, and we spent the car ride home reading through our travel guides to plan our next adventure (which I will share more on later). But all in all I’d say it was a great trip!

Always good to be home, but now the camping bug has most definitely bit us again, and although we likely won’t be able to go at all for the rest of this year, we are already thinking about next summer!

What is your favorite type of family vacation? Do you have any fond memories of family trips you took as a kid? Are there any great places to camp that we should put on our list for the future?

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The Done List

It has been well over a month since I last blogged and I have been missing this outlet as a way to express myself and share the happenings of life and work. I had been seeking inspiration and making a lot of lists until last night. On our way home from our weekend away, P and I were listening to “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, and she mentioned getting great blog ideas and wanting to save them away but needing to trust yourself to come up with new great ideas for posts all the time and to use them when you have them.

I don’t recall the exact quote but it was something like creativity grows more creativity, or inspiration in place of the word creativity… something like that. However she put it hit me and I was sitting there thinking, you know what, it’s time to log back on and get back to it. It’s been too long! (Check out her blog and book to get more inspo for your own happiness–I think when we finish the book I might start listening to her podcasts too.)

The other thing that had me feeling so inspired the other day was @EliseJoy‘s #100aysofelisepeptalksmake a DONE list.” I’m a list maker anyway so this one really struck me. It’s easy to think of all of the things you need to do, or that you want to do, or even to beat yourself up for the things that you haven’t done yet. But if you stop for a minute and really think about what you have finished and make that into a list, you will feel so much better. I’m paraphrasing what Elise said in her post here, but it resonated with me, like really really resonated. (Check out her blog for and jump over to her instagram links above for a lot more inspo.)

I spent the time away from the blog doing a lot of things, but one of the things that I think is pretty interesting is that I spent time email and talking to other bloggers (or following and reading other blogs) and telling them that I missed writing and I missed this outlet, yet I still couldn’t find the drive to get back here and get going. Sometimes you need a break, sometimes something that you love so much and that you really want to do, you just have to take some space from before you can really get back into it. I tried to come back a lot sooner with a post in late May after a shorter hiatus post One Room Challenge, but I wasn’t ready yet.

So anyway, I think I’m back… I think I’ve found my voice a little more, and I am feeling inspired. Some of the coming posts will be of the catching up variety but some of them will be all new and progress reports that you’ve not been getting. I hope your still here to read through it all and offer continued support.

My Done List since I’ve been gone:

  • Finished the living room, like it’s really really done.
  • Adjusted to hubby’s new work schedule
  • Committed to a fitness class 2x/week and have actually gone and loved it every week!
  • Finished knitting a baby blanket for my dear friend’s newest little one.
  • Spent some time with said friend and met the new baby.
  • Worked my ass off.
  • Taken on a few new clients and focussed on getting their plans done and materials specified.
  • Taken a dozen naps.
  • Spent some quality time with Brantley.
  • Spent some quality time with Pat.
  • Worked out our new budget.
  • Started a “no spending” challenge at home.
  • Went on our first camping trip in over two years.
  • Enjoyed a relaxing weekend at the shore.
  • Hosted my in-laws for a night.
  • Reorganized the linen closet.
  • Cleaned countless times and remade the mess.
  • Lived.

I could go on, but I think you get the point… making a done list is so rewarding. I feel like this ‘quiet time’ around the blog hasn’t been a huge waste or isn’t time lost. I feel like it has been time well spent on a few other things. Or, well a lot of other things by the looks of the list above.

I would challenge all of you to make a done list. It feels so good, I promise! Need a prompt, What have you done in the last month? Over the holiday weekend? I’m sure you have done a lot more than you are giving yourself credit for.

If you made it all the way through this picture-less post, thank you so much for reading! Feel free to comment below and let me know if you’ve taken a time-out in any areas of your life lately. I hope this post inspires you to get back on the horse!

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From Napa, With Love | A Travel Guide

It’s Monday again, but don’t fret! Instead of getting your typical gloomy case of the Mondays, start dreaming about the perfect weekend getaway in Napa.

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About a month ago, I was sitting in a tasting room learning how to properly drink wine. (Because apparently just pouring way more than the standard amount into your glass a couple times/week or more, is wrong.) I met one of my best friends from Seattle in the Napa Valley where we wined, wined, wined and dined, for 4 days… in short, we had a blast and I found my new happy place.

Here’s a little breakdown of how we spent our time while we were there and how we balanced out our days to round out an excellent trip to wine country. A travel guide for Napa if you will.

Day 1:

Food:

Breakfast at Pacific Blues in Yountville (a must) and dinner at Tarla Mediterranean in Napa for yummy risotto and a great gluten free selection.

Tastings:

We decided that before we went around acting like we knew what’s up with wine tasting we should take a class, so our first stop was a wine tasting course for beginners at Robert Mondavi, and it was a great first stop. Their grounds were beautiful, their wine was good and the class was just right to get us started.

Our second tasting was to Odette which had stunning architecture, beautiful landscapes and great service, with good wine to boot! We enjoyed the tasting and stayed just the right amount of time. I’m not typically a fan of white wines, but they had a delicious crisp and light Chardonnay that I will have to find locally or try to have shipped for any summer gatherings this year.

The last tasting for the day was at Chandon for some bubbles! Who doesn’t love a good glass of champagne to toast to the greatest weekend getaway ever?? Talk about a pretty landscape! We were fortunate enough to have gorgeous weather to sit outside and enjoy our cheese plate and bubbly while soaking up the sun!

Other:

After our first tasting, we went back to Yountville for mani’s and pedi’s and to soak up some much need girl time sans booze at Lavender Nail Salon, where the place was clean and the service was good. Yountville is a great little town either to stay in or to just stop into and walk the main street… it’s very charming and sure to please.

 

Day 2:

Food:

We started our morning with coffee and juice from the Oxbow Public Market before making the trek up to Calistoga for some spa-time. Post spa, we enjoyed brunch in Calistoga at Sam’s Social Club which was so good, very fresh food and fun interiors! For dinner we opted for Mexican and ended up at Don Perico’s in Napa which hit the spot as standard Mexican fare.

Tastings:

First we headed to Sterling where they have a gondola car that takes you up to the winery for the tastings. The wine was nothing special, but the views were incredible and the architecture was like a little slice of Santorini right in Napa.

Second we headed to Mumm for more champs. Again the bubbles, you can’t go wrong. Next to the parking lot there were rows of the mustard flowers that were so pretty! The service wasn’t great at Mumm, but supposedly they are known for that, and the bubbles were delicious (we took a bottle home with us) so I would recommend going anyway.

Third we headed to Artesa, which became one of our favorites of the trip. We started our tasting late and they closed, but let us finish our tasting and my new favorite wine is their Tempranillo… the stuff that dreams are made of. They had so many delicious red wines to taste that we really enjoyed, in addition to their prime location, which on a clear day you can see all the way to the San Francisco Bay from, and their beautiful architecture… it was a win all around.

Other:

We kicked off Saturday with a mud bath in Calistoga… it was something that sounded so luxurious and it was on my bucket list, so we fit it in the schedule. What I will say about that… it was interesting, I’ve not laughed so hard in such a long time and my skin has also never been so soft. Now it’s checked off the bucket list… if it’s on yours, try it, you might like it, but try for an early bird special (which we did) or a groupon or something, rather than splurging for the full priced package right off the bat… it’s expensive and it is a different experience, so be open minded.

 

Day 3:

Food:

We kicked off the day with coffee from the Napa Valley Coffee Roasters, which was delicious and then we made our way to the wine train.

The Napa Valley Wine Train had a lot of mixed reviews on the web, but it included lunch and we opted to add a wine tasting to it as well and just give it a try. I’m glad we did. The train itself was charmingly restored, and the ride was a good way to view a chunk of the valley to see if there were any additional wineries we should put on our list. It’s also a good way to orient yourself with the layout of Napa, so it would be fun to do in your first day or so there. The food was pretty good and the wine was okay (nothing special compared to what’s available in napa), but the experience overall was worth it.

For dinner, we booked the Farmstead tasting menu with wine pairings at Long Meadow Ranch. It was one of the best meals I’ve had ever, like seriously, the food was so simple, so pretty (the appetizer in the top right got asparagus soup poured over it which made the flowers float… talk about presentation) and beyond delicious… looking at the pictures is making my mouth water. If you like food as much or more than you like wine and you are in Napa, this is a must!

Tastings:

We had a red sampler on the wine train, as noted above, nothing to write home about and in hindsight, given the day we had planned it might have been worth just having one glass on the train and then skipping the tasting here.

We booked a tasting and tour at Jarvis the day before while we were waiting for the mud baths to start and if you are visiting Napa especially in their peak, book this one in advance. Their Willy Wonka-esque wine caves were very cool and the details they put into the design are worth seeing in person. We sampled 6 delicious wines and both brought home a few bottles… we had a good group on this tour and the tasting was fun in addition to being good wine.

The wines from our pairing dinner at Long Meadow Ranch were perfect. I’m really not kidding when I say this meal was in the top 5 of my life… it’s not your every day kind of thing but it was such a great treat. The wine was so good. The service, amazing. Everything about this last stop was perfect. I found out about LMR by purchasing a bottle at my local wine store in preparation for Napa (I was buying a lot of Napa wines leading up to the trip) so I didn’t buy any wine here, only because I knew I could get it back home.

Other:

A note about our Day 3 agenda… we tried to split up some of these bigger things and do one a day (the tasting course day one, mud baths day two, etc.) but we accidentally booked both the train and the tasting at LMR on the same day. Were we to do it over again, we would split the two up… that said, we still thoroughly enjoyed this day, so do what makes you happy if/when you go!

 

Day 4:

Food:

Jax White Mule Diner in Napa for breakfast and we literally had the place to ourselves. It was good enough but don’t drink the water. For dinner we went to Bounty Hunter BBQ and again, good enough but nothing to write home about, though the portions were huge, we shared a sampler plate and still took home leftovers.

Tastings:

First stop, Inglenook. Talk about good wine and a great experience. This place is like a chateau it is so pretty, down to the details. I loved the chandeliers and rugs especially… well and especially the wine! They were so slow (on that particular Monday morning) that we ended up getting a private tour of the wine caves and to see the back vineyards. Seriously worth the stop.

Second, we had a tasting scheduled for Brown, which was great. What a cool story of their estate and how they became wine makers after previously just selling their fruit. They make a lot of Zinfendale and for someone who isn’t a big zin fan, I have to say, their wines changed my tune. Their property is also stunning and great design details here as well… but I won’t give away their secrets, you will have to go do the tasting yourself! We got to meet David the wine-maker… this guy definitely has a lot of fun, and it was a fun experience for us!

Lastly, we went to Nichelini (right next to Brown, and we stopped just for that reason). Although we hadn’t heard of them or their wines, we both ended up joining their wine club. The wines were delicious and we tasted them all! We were pleasantly surprised by many of them here, hence the new wine club memberships, it was definitely a worthy stop.

 

Day 5:

Gluten Free, Vacation Eats, Brunch, Corned Beef Benedict, Eggs Benedict, Boon Fly Cafe, Napa Eats, Brunch in Napa, Breakfast in Napa

We loaded up the car, stopped for a delicious brunch (maybe the best we had all weekend) at Boon Fly Cafe in Napa, complete with fresh squeezed orange juice which we may or may not have added to a water bottle filled with Mumm champs… Just sayin. We walked around downtown Napa, went to a yarn shop and some art galleries and then headed back to SFO to fly to our respective homes.

 

Overall:

I can’t say enough positive things about this weekend. The trip was so needed and so wonderful. We made it happen and we soaked it up! Napa is definitely in my list of happy places. Especially Napa in Spring (so what if that is my only point of reference), there is enough going on but nothing is jam-packed and you can typically get into tastings without reservations (but do your research to see where reservations will make sense), the flowers are in bloom and everything just smells delicious. I can’t wait to plan another girls weekend with L, hopefully this time it won’t take us 8 years!

Where’s the last trip you took with your bestie? Your happy place? I need to start adding to my list of destinations! Where have you gone or are you planning to go that I need to make sure to get to? I hope you are taking some fun adventures, we will be continuing down the rabbit hole that is our living room for the One Room Challenge this week and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel… check back Thursday for the big reveal! (Or find me on Snapchat (@designbykrystle), I’ve been sharing lots of ORC living room progress in real time over there.)

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5 Years | The Butternut Farms B&B

Sunday marked 5 years with P, and that is something worth celebrating! A lot of people have speculated that you can’t or shouldn’t celebrate your dating anniversary once you are married, but I say the more time you dedicate to your partner and the more reasons you have to celebrate you should!! Of course quality time is key, so we decided to plan a little overnight away for just the two of us.

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It was so necessary to have time one on one together. We had a wonderful dinner at the Chelsea in Fairfield, CT., and then made our way up to the Butternut Farms Bed & Breakfast in Glastonbury. Oh my was it just the most charming place we have ever stayed!

Because life is so hectic we only got to stay for one night, but we are now determined to go back again when we can! We stayed in part of the barn which has been converted to a guest suite complete with a kitchen and loft bedroom. There is enough room in this space to even bring kids someday–who would get a kick out of the farm animals on the other side of the wall. Not to worry, when you are in the suite, you can’t hear a peep and the gardens surrounding the barn are filled with mature trees for privacy and seasonal blooms (which we hope to experience next time around), it really is a private space. I really love all of the original barn wood that has been incorporated throughout the home too–on the stairs, the moldings and trims, beams, and even left exposed in the corners of the main room. It made for a special touch.

The inn-keeper, Don, was as charming as ever, and so accommodating! He went out of his way to find a gluten free English muffin to accompany my breakfast for Sunday morning. The food was delicious on top of the whole charm of the space and it’s host, I don’t know that I’ve tasted eggs better than the ones we had that morning.

After breakfast we took a little tour of the main house, being built in 1720, still with much of the existing charm, it was quite the treat to see all of the fireplaces and wood work throughout the home. I didn’t get any images of the interior of the main house, but I tried to take a decent few of the guest suite in the barn… as you can tell I was quite taken with the space.

The farm animals were a fabulous extra benefit if you ask me. I’m sort of like a 5 year old when it comes to things like this, but I must’ve run back to the goats three times after we loaded up the car to pet them just one more time before actually heading out.

We slowly made our way home, first driving out to the ocean in Old Saybrook to soak up the scenery and have a seafood lunch. Also, as part of our wedding cake arrangement, Dee’s One Smart Cookie makes you a fresh cake on your anniversary, we hadn’t had time to get back up around the fall, so we ordered our cake for this special getaway and Dee delivered it to the B&B for us. We took it with us and got extra forks with our lunch, then parked up at the leaf dump and had some cake by the ocean to celebrate.

All in all, my heart is so full of love for P and our little life together. I cherish these special weekends that we get to spend in each others company, they are the perfect way to not just celebrate the time we have spent together, but really reconnect and dream about our future.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend too and would highly recommend the Butternut Farms B&B if you are ever in need of a place to stay in Connecticut. We really did love it and we really do plan to go back! What places have you been to that you were just enamored with? Any good b&b’s or vacation spots we need to add to our list? We are always looking for a good recommendation for a getaway!!

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Labor Day Weekend Recap [And a Recipe]

We spent Labor Day weekend with my in-laws at their new place down by the Jersey Shore and what a glorious, relaxing and restful weekend it was.

I had a hectic install Friday morning that I dragged P along to help with, and then we hit the road, exhausted and ready for a long weekend. We ordered pizza for dinner from a local pizza place that had a gluten-free crust made from scratch that was so delicious!

Saturday we went crabbing (caught 3 blue claw crabs!) and made up a little appetizer on the fly–3 crabs isn’t really enough meat for more than an appetizer for 4 people to share. Then Saturday night, we went over to Seaside, played mini golf, rode the sky-lift ride with great views of the coast and the boardwalk, enjoyed my favorite summertime treat (Kohr’s Brothers frozen custard–the only flavor worth getting is the vanilla-orange swirl), we even rode some of the rides!

Sunday, we drove around Beach Haven on Long Beach Island, walked around shopping, took in a few views of the coast, explored a trail with Brantley and enjoyed the sunny weather. That evening we drove out through the marshlands to West Creek for a dinner at sunset that, between the views and the food, did not disappoint.

Monday we took it easy in the morning, stopped at the local fish market and picked up some fresh ingredients for dinner and had a quick lunch of grilled burgers and hot dogs before we went over to the pool. The pool was beautiful and so refreshing, I was so relaxed that I even fell asleep at the pool! We capped off the weekend with a Kitchen Clambake courtesy of Ina Garten’s recipe, that was probably among the top 10 best home cooked meals I’ve ever had in my life!

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend!

Recipe: Spicy Cheesy Crab Balls

-Meat from 3 crabs (Boil fresh caught crabs with Oid Bay for 10 minutes and refrigerated until cool enough to handle, before meat is removed.)

-1/3 cup cheddar cheese

-Jalapeños (seeds removed)

-2 Corn Tortillas

Rough chop the jalapenos, corn tortillas and cheese and combine ingredients into a food process. Chop until all elements are well blended and a dough is created.

Using a tablespoon, scoop out the mixture and roll into balls. Heat vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet until it bubbles. Drop balls into oil and let them cook, rotate them so that all areas cook, keep them in for a good few minutes until they brown and then remove and place them onto a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Repeat until all of the crabby cheesy goodness has been cooked, insert toothpicks and serve. Make sure to eat one for yourself as you bring them out to the masses or else you might not get any of these tasty morsels!! Enjoy!

Monday Wishes

I am blogging today from my family’s home north of Seattle, and actually by the time this posts, we will be on our way to Montana to visit with my Grammy.

IMG_2967With that said, I thought this quote was the perfect reflection on vacationing and all the other things we dream about. We often spend time dreaming about the things we want to do with our lives; dreaming of far away places that we might seem too far out of reach; dreaming of projects that would make our house our dream home; dreaming about the perfect job.

Gloria Steinam is pointing out to us that really the dream is the first part of the plan. If we don’t start with the dream, we can’t create our reality. We need to dream about things that we want, things that seem so far out of reach that we long for them and then we need to make it our mission to find a way to achieve them.

What are you currently dreaming of?

Glamping | The Perfect Girls Getaway!

Glamping 3

When life is hectic and you are running around nonstop, sometimes all you need is a little getaway with your girls, and I’m telling you, let your men go camping, while you all go glamping.

Glamping is camping in a typically picturesque setting with real beds, mattresses and linens, charming decor, full standard bathrooms and then some of the charm of camping: campfires, s’mores, reclining in campfire chairs, etc., It’s basically all the beauty Mother Nature has to offer without interfering with your personal beauty routine.

I set up this little glamping photo shoot in the most scenic setting I know: on the same lake where P & I got married. I also included all the key ingredients to guarantee a fun girls getaway.

A cozy place to kick back, the tent provides a great shade structure to beat the heat during the day and a good place to gab and gossip while doing manis and pedis. After all, what’s a girls weekend without nail polish?

It’s important to have delicious treats, like these s’mores cupcakes, in case you and your friends aren’t the fire-starting types. They pair well with boozy camping concoctions. I like to pair the liquor of choice with something bubbly and all inclusive that adds some fizzy refreshment to the drink without having to measure and pour a laundry list of ingredients… after all, your bar cart is not included in the getaway, so keeping it simple is best. The easy margs I shared yesterday would be perfect!

Make sure you pack protein-filled snacks to keep your energy up through the days, and drink plenty of water! Adding citrus slices to your water makes it taste so much better — you might actually be able to choke the recommended eight glasses down. Prep is key to a successful camping menu. Plan out what you will be eating, stock your cooler with plenty of ice and pre-cut and mix everything before hand. I have pinned some good camping foods here for reference.

The last key ingredient to a successful glamping getaway is entertainment. You want to make sure you have things to do that are not related to your wireless devices, just in case you don’t have the best service out in the woods. Our favorite game to bring along is Cards Against Humanity, it makes for long hilarious nights. Corn hole, or just a good old-fashioned Frisbee are fun for the daylight hours, and there are plenty more ideas on my Pinterest board here.

Sources: Tent by Canvas Camp (which we will re-use as a shelter or awning when we go camping next), Quilt (gifted by my Mama), Pillows from Target (Blue Square, Blue Oblong, Coral Square similar, Coral Oblong), Weighted Table Cloths from Target (similar), Flower from Trader Joes — styled by yours truly, Mani/Pedi supplies from Target (Babe Blue, Mint Sorbet, Coral Reef) , S’mores cupcakes recipe made on the fly and will be blogged soon, travel tumblers & water pitcher from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Photography is all my own, please cite sources if you re-use any of these images! This post is not sponsored.