Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez Valley.

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Details:

Urban Outfitters tank (past season, similar here), Loft skirt (on sale!), Fabrik bralette, Anthropologie earrings (past season, similar here), Stella & Dot wrap bracelet, Keani Manta cuff, Target flats, Free People clutch (past season, similar here), Raw Bronzing Studio organic spray tan


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Wine tasting in California is a thing. A beautiful, hot, wonderful thing, and I am so glad that I got to do *all the things* while Stevie and I were in Santa Barbara last month.

This stretch of CA is a bit drier than the Napa/Sonoma area, so the wines produced in this region are a bit more unique and rare. We had so much fun driving north from Santa Barbara (only about 45 minutes) to explore the Santa Ynez Valley, which has become must-visit wine country over the past 20 years. The town of Santa Ynez is like a chic old Western village, dotted with some of the most incredibly vibrant foliage I've ever seen. It really amazed us, since California has been in a severe drought and fighting wild fires all summer long. I am so struck by how plants thrive in such incredibly dry climate! Okay, major plant lady digression. Back to the wine.

We lingered the most here, at the Sunstone Vineyards & Winery, because we loved it so much. The wine was really delicious (our favorites - the Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Rose & Soleil Rouge!) While we were tasting we snacked on cheese, figs, bread and the most insanely delicious balsamic dressings and glazes that they have on-site. I so very badly wish that I would have brought home some of the Raspberry Balsamic (because it looks like I can't buy any online!) Ugh, I hate remorse. New lesson - buy everything when I get the urge. Stevie will love my new plan.

This winery is really beautiful, designed in the French style with an extra dose of massive cream-colored dusty stones. It just felt like the set of a movie where you would see Jesus wandering around and teaching his disciples. I think it was all that stone. The sun stone, no wait - the SON stone. Gosh I am really in the zone right now.

The other venture we took was into the town of Los Olivos, where there are tasting rooms side-by-side. You can try wines from all over the Santa Ynez Valley region, without having to drive all over. This is a great way to stay safe while tasting. Since we were driving I tried a few here but nothing nearly as good as what we experienced at Sunstone. We also heard really great things about the town of Solvang, which is designed like a Swedish village. I really wish we had made it over that way to much on some pastries at Mortensens Danish Bakery, but we just ran out of time. Next time!

P.S. - What we did on our trip to Santa Barbara and playing on the beach of the Pacific Ocean!

Steamboat Springs.

I remember breathing in the fear. Shivering goosebumps, nose wet running, drawing breath and ice down into my lungs. Pulsing with fear. Laced with exhilaration. Anticipation. And the frailest hope that I could maybe, maybe, make it down this insurmountable crest of earth called mountain. Scanning the directionless horizon, the crystalline range shifted into vivid focus as I realized that there were only two ways off this mountain: on my skis or in a body bag.

I remember this feeling it like I remember my own name.

That kind of fear. It's not something you forget.

Luckily, this trip hadn't the faintest whiff of such a purely vulnerable terror. Because I had already conquered the beast, the fear of heights and skiing, three years ago (remember this?),

Skiing in Steamboat Springs, Colorado this year was pure magic, basking in the sugary powered snow and shimmying down the slopes with a free tenacity that made me feel younger and older, all at once. Young and strong, but older and more relaxed in my truth. I wasn't afraid anymore. Instead, I was gripped with joy and gratitude. Getting older, getting a little better at life and, thank goodness, skiing - it's wayyy more fun than being young and chaotically stressed about everything. Like mountaintops. Instead, this vacation was just - SO MUCH FUN. Ever had the time of your life? For me, skiing down the slopes of an impetuous mountain, conquering the fear of swooping between the mythical Aspen trees, even face planting in the snow as I tumbled off the trail (that's what I get for trying to "get air") - I was having the time of my life.

I am so grateful for vacation. Vacation rocks. Vacation was invented by a genius.

Last week, Stevie and I joined his (our) family on a 5-day foray to ski and have quality family time. I was so relieved to strap on a pair of skis again - it had been a minute since my last ski trip. Getting pregnant and giving birth can hold up the skiing progression. I'm sure you're surprised to hear that :) My last ski trip was three years ago so I have been more than a little eager to get out on the snow. The challenge of this particular trip was the Everett factor. We decided to leave him at home with my parents. He obviously wasn't going to spend hours out on the slopes with us, and honestly, I was ready for a little mommy break. It was my first time leaving him for more than a night and it was really hard, but really wonderful. I missed him like crazy, but it was really healthy for me to focus a little more on myself and just have some good fun. I mean, this was not a trip for kids. Every evening when we came in from skiing, we all went straight to the hot tub with a mug of something dandy and we just sunk into the sensation of painful muscles and awesome memories. Painful in that good, sleepy, I-worked-for-this-pain kind of way.

In attempting to keep up with the boys (somewhat), my sis Lauren and I were wiped out! Those guys can obviously outski me but it was fun to challenge myself and experience a progression in my ability, even with the 3-year absence. We spent a lot of time on blue-black and black runs, which was awesomely exhausting, but my particular favorite were the tree runs. In between those snowy trees, there is a lot of hushed quiet.

Word on the street is that Steamboat Springs had a really warm, snow-less February. The very day we arrived, snow began dumping on the city and didn't stop until there was 25 inches of FRESH POWDER. You guys. That is what you call a gift from THE HEAVENS. That powdery, fluffy snow was incomparably sweet and literally made our trip the successful event that it was. Thankfully, we all skied to our hearts content and there were no injuries the whole week. Those mountaintop prayer sessions really work.

But even more than the skiing, I am so grateful for stealing a few days away with these beautiful souls whom I hold so dear. Even though we all live near each other, these days its just hard to connect and spend really quality time together. Having a lot of kids in our family, along with everyone's busy schedules, makes it challenging to have deep meaningful conversations all the time. I'm not making excuses, but it's just real life. My in-laws lead a large church and even though our entire family is involved in some capacity or another, that certainly makes everything a bit busier than it used to be. Sometimes you just want to hang out with your family. And last week, that's exactly what we did. We hung out, played on the slopes, cooked dinner together, and talked a lot - about our kids, about our dreams, politics, about movies, about the meaningful and meaningless. We threw around business ideas and dreamed about the future. It was so comforting, just watching my siblings-in-law and parents-in-law share stories and dreams and the heartfelt richness that they each carry. As I am getting older, I am increasingly more grateful for the bonds of family. I know I am a lucky girl, with all these siblings and nieces and nephews and parents.

Best trip ever. Thanks, Steamboat Springs, you were mighty good to us :)

Things To Do In New York City With A Baby.

Those wild grasses of New York City.

Those wild grasses of New York City.

I know I sound like a broken record, but guys, we had SO MUCH FUN on our family trip to New York last week!

It was a work trip for him, and a play trip for me, so I was the one spending most of the time shuffling around the city with my darling, almost 1-year old son. And even though I have lived in NYC before, and visited a million bajillion times, there is always something new to be discovered in this fetching, enticing, frantic city. And exploring it with my kiddo? Well, this opportunity was no exception. My eyes were opened to a whole new slew of opportunities and places to be discovered with a baby/toddler in tow. I wanted to share a few of my finds for all you adventuring mamas (and papas!) who want to tote their babes along while exploring the big city.

That happy boy.

That happy boy.

Making friends.

Making friends.

We packed a few balls to pull out and be played with at a moment's notice.

We packed a few balls to pull out and be played with at a moment's notice.

Babies love fountains. They just LOVE THEM.

Babies love fountains. They just LOVE THEM.

Everett roamed with daddy in his stroller, he crawled around Books of Wonder (don't judge, the kid REALLY needed to get out of his seat and it was an obvious play area for babies), and there he is on the subway, where he actually threw his ball in that woman's face. I practically melted into a puddle of sweat on the floor, I was so embarrassed.

Everett roamed with daddy in his stroller, he crawled around Books of Wonder (don't judge, the kid REALLY needed to get out of his seat and it was an obvious play area for babies), and there he is on the subway, where he actually threw his ball in that woman's face. I practically melted into a puddle of sweat on the floor, I was so embarrassed.

These two little dreamers.

These two little dreamers.

Baby and Kid-Friendly places in NYC:

Washington Square Park- For the gorgeous fountains, epic live music, and frolicking in the grasses. We might have eaten some stray dandelions, too.

Books of Wonder - Best bookstore ever! He was free to crawl on the carpet and play play play to his heart's content. This is a very special book store, and reminds you of the Shop Around the Corner from You've Got Mail. So sweet.

Picnic in Central Park - Because when you have an adventurous kiddo, picnics are the new way to lunch. We did this on several occasions, grabbing meals from Whole Foods and Shake Shack and enjoying them in the park. There are so many open field areas to lounge on the grass, too. It was a great place to pull out all the balls that Stevie made me pack for Everett, and we rolled them back and forth to each other. That child is getting pretty good at playing ball. It's really cute, but its even funnier how proud Stevie gets when Everett rolls the ball towards him. Oh boys.

FAO Schwartz - Talk about making a kid dream. My baby's eyes practically popped out of his head at all the wondrous toys, displays, animals, and joyful atmosphere. You don't have to be a big kid to enjoy - this place is even for babies! Heck, even for adults, we really love it there, too! I always want to over shop and Stevie is always like, "We can find it on Amazon later", and of course, we never do. Because this place is special and the toys in it are just rare, rare finds.

Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place in Battery City Park - Such an awesome place for a baby, because there are TONS of places to eat and you can sit inside or outside and stare at the ocean, the boats, Lady Liberty and Jersey City. Needless to say, my child was pretty quiet while we were all eating, because he had so much to look at and take in. Score.

Raining? It's no problem. There are so many places that you can stroll around with your baby that are so enjoyable and entertaining:

Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle - It's like a really nice mall. With really nice restaurants and bathrooms and coffee and pastries. These are mom necessities, right? Also, while you're there, make sure to check out Landmarc, which is known in the city for being an upscale, kid-friendly joint. Everett ate my entire grilled cheese there. Along with his own lunch.

The MoMa - This is New York's Museum of Modern Art and it is amazing. Luckily, it was located right around the corner from our hotel. I headed that way, then the rain stopped, so we didn't actually visit this time around. But any of the museums are really great for kids, including The Children's Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Met!

Have something to add to this list? We seems to find ourselves there at least 1-2 times a year and I would love to know of some more kid-friendly places! Because, you know, I plan on bringing this little one with me everywhere :) If you have more to share, please do! I'm sure other mamas would want to know, too!

Roaming in Rome. Part 3.

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Roaming in Rome. Part 3.
There are so many things we did, saw and ate in Rome that don't fit into any kind of category. I shared about how marvelous it was to bring my 10-month-old son to this eternal cityhow fascinating everything truly was, especially the second time around, and how ancient this place felt. However, to leave the narrative of this trip at that would be irresponsible of me, because there were so many moments I experienced between my eye and the camera lens that were striking, enriching, elaborate and exceedingly funny. These moments were like the delicious ingredients that so sweetly flavored the whole trip for me. The outlier experiences. Things like, watching my husband dance unabashedly with my son while we waited for our pizza to arrive at the table. Like watching the pigeons primp their filthy feathers atop the statues' heads in the Piazza Navona. The curious water fountains you can drink from throughout the city and the trying on of leather goods and the munching on bruchetta while wandering through the flower district. Watching horse races in the Borghese Park and the fiats line up in a rainbow of cute and the windows open up midday. All of these charming moments were treasures, painting the trip in a truly rosy shade of optimism for me. This is the stuff of life. The little moments that make the big impact. Delicious. Precious. Unsung heroes of traveling tales.

St. Peter's Basilica, in all it's pomp and glory.

St. Peter's Basilica, in all it's pomp and glory.

My Ergo men. Everett still in his pjs, because, well... he was on vacation too.

My Ergo men. Everett still in his pjs, because, well... he was on vacation too.

Have you ever seen a car evoke such fun?

Have you ever seen a car evoke such fun?

I love Italians.

I love Italians.

I think this horse show was a rather big deal. Too bad I didn't understand any of the commentary.

I think this horse show was a rather big deal. Too bad I didn't understand any of the commentary.

You can find these water fountains all over the city. People drink straight from them or fill up their water bottles. Even though Rick Steves said the water was okay to drink, I wasn't brave enough.

You can find these water fountains all over the city. People drink straight from them or fill up their water bottles. Even though Rick Steves said the water was okay to drink, I wasn't brave enough.

For this? I was brave enough.

For this? I was brave enough.

He's delicious.

He's delicious.

Rome is ubiquitous with churches like this. They are on every corner of every street, no exaggeration. And when you peek inside, each and every one of them are breathtaking.

Rome is ubiquitous with churches like this. They are on every corner of every street, no exaggeration. And when you peek inside, each and every one of them are breathtaking.

If you follow us on instagram, you might remember when  I posted about Everett finding his (loud!) voice  in this silent church. Oops.

If you follow us on instagram, you might remember when I posted about Everett finding his (loud!) voice in this silent church. Oops.

He's made everything about my life better. Except for the ever-present eye circles. But I'll take em.

He's made everything about my life better. Except for the ever-present eye circles. But I'll take em.

Flowers wrapped in paper, tied up with strings. Isn't that from the "Favorite Things" song?

Flowers wrapped in paper, tied up with strings. Isn't that from the "Favorite Things" song?

Some kind of decadent, lemony-orange-hybrid.

Some kind of decadent, lemony-orange-hybrid.

The view the Pope wakes up to. PERSPECTIVE.

The view the Pope wakes up to. PERSPECTIVE.

Stevie pointed out that all the statues showcase old guys as ripped. Then he paused for a moment, then said, "If I could make a statue of myself, I would want it to look ripped, too."

Stevie pointed out that all the statues showcase old guys as ripped. Then he paused for a moment, then said, "If I could make a statue of myself, I would want it to look ripped, too."

That's a wrap!

That's a wrap!

Thanks for letting me share. And thanks for following along on our first international family trip; it was certainly a special one! I hope there will be many many more to come.

But you know what? I learned on this trip that adventure doesn't have to be a plane flight away. Niether does inspiration or creativity. Yes, spending time with my family in Rome certainly made me feel adventurous and inspired, and I have come back to the States full of all kinds of ideas and plans(with little time to implement everything in my heart). But! Some of the most adventurous parts about this trip were experiencing the everyday moments as a new mom, experiencing all these new things through the eyes of my darling son. It doesn't take seeing the Vatican or drinking the foreign wine to feel extra special or adventurous. But watching Everett discover pizza? Taste gelato? And laugh at the birds preening themselves in the fountains? Well gosh. My heart just comes undone. These things were truly thrilling. Yes, the wine was good, don't get me wrong. IT WAS VERY GOOD. But nothing came close to how much fun it was to push Everett on the park swing, watch him sway to the dinnertime accordion music, and marvel at discovering his voice can echo in a cathedral. 

There are adventures around every corner. Even at home. Even where everything is "regular". We just have to shift our focus to look for those moments, pause and revel in them a bit, and celebrate! I'm learning how to do this. I'm not great at it. But being a parent makes you sloooow down, so these moments are a bit easier for me to grasp these days.

You don't have to travel to Rome to pause for a moment. You don't have to travel to Rome for adventure. All it takes is a bit of patience, stepping outside the normal routines of the day, and giving yourself the moment to drink in the deliciousness of life. May there be a bit of dolce vita for us all!

P.S. - See Roaming in Rome, Part 1 & Part 2.


Roaming in Rome. Part 1.

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Roaming in Rome. Part 1.
Rome. The place that took a bit more than a day to build. I've been here before, but without the extreme contrast between my darling young baby son and the Ancient Rome that is, well, Rome. This place is the epitome of old. It has the market cornered on "Been there, done that". Everything in this city is crumbling and peeling, yet these structures still stand tall, erect, towering over us little people with importance and, dare I say, omnipotence. Though this was once a public playground for pagan worship and then the centerpiece for the Catholic hammer, I am still fascinated by the mystery of how this city came to be what is it. The books tell me. The tours demonstrate. But the missing stories between the milestones are what continue to beg me. Stories that are long-forgotten, lost between the years of oppression and opulence, smuggled into the backs of books and shuffled into the darkest corners in the tombs of Catacomb. Or perhaps buried beneath the Vatican with the legion of lost Popes. The stories of Rome. The nitty-gritty. The real-life. The ones that I could potentially relate to - where are those?

doors of all kind
orange and pink
open window
all that ivy

Perhaps.
I will just have to tell the stories I do know. The ones that I've lived while I was here. The first time I came to Rome was magnificent; I was dumbfounded by the ludicrous Forum and the rightfully-named colossal Colosseum. I was seduced by the bread and wine and pasta, succumbed to debauchery by the smoky cappuccino and velvety gelato. I was undone by the leather bags, the silk ties, the supple scarves, all alluringly displayed in the teasing street-side windows. The stone sidewalks beckoned me down every windy way, the impossible maze mapped only by doorway after doorway of mysteriously, decadently draped florals. The lilting tone of the Italian accent punctuated each syllable, echoing down the colorful alleys. The women tap-tap-tapping down the street in impossibly high heels. The men chain-smoking in their finest suit, dark hair a bit undone. Brooding, hollering, smirking, escaping. That's what I love about these people. They are insanely chic by owning their just-a-bit-messy demeanor. The red lipstick and rumpled dress. The snakeskin leather shoes and sweat-stained shirt, yet still, there is an allure. The peacocks are out, strutting and laughing and leaving you feeling breathless. And impossibly, unfortunately American. We just don't have this kind of sex appeal. None of us do. It's through-and-through, an Italian thing.

Canova
spanish steps

Oh.
I'll leave it to them to be alluring. I will enjoy retelling my latest escapades in Rome, which were markedly different than the last. Instead of staying out late, I was up incredibly early. Up with the birds, awakened by the clamor of my energetic baby boy. He was ready to play, eat, and see the world. So we showed him. Up, espresso, maybe a bit of biscotti, and then out the door in a swirl of readiness. We had the privilege of meeting up with our dear-hearted pals Troy and Carrie, along with their sweetheart baby daughter and their incredible parents. The 8 of us stayed in a beautiful Airbnb just off the Piazza del Popolo, in the vicinity of the Spanish Steps. The first few days we were just getting our bearings, learning how to navigate our stroller and enormous mounds of gear through the narrow doorways and down the cobbled streets. It was a challenge, but one that we were more than prepared for. We were so excited to be alive, be abroad, traveling with our son and our friends and exploring a familiar, yet completely exotic place. What a dream. I was very aware, almost hyperly-so, that we were living the dream. At least, our dream. A lot of people scoffed at me before we left town, "You're taking your baby WHERE? Why?! Why not just go alone??"  Well, we didn't want to go alone. We wanted to bring our son into every adventure, along for every ride, even if that meant slowing us down, interrupting our sleep, stretching us and challenging us.

Borghese Park

Borghese.
We did Rome. We did so much that it won't possibly fit into one post, so I'll be posting all week long. One of my favorite places that we explored was the Borghese Gardens and Park, where I tried to hop the stone fence to retrieve some low-hanging lemons. I failed at my attempt.

we three
turrets
she fountain
walking and talking
those two loves
park collage
boats and things

Pantheon.
We took Everett into the Pantheon and threw him high into the air. He giggled incessantly and, thankfully, we didn't get the stare-down like when he made a ruckus in the churches. The last time we explored the Pantheon, we did the full, Rick Steves audio tour. This time, we just kind of stared in disbelief at the domed, mathematically pristine ceiling. And tried to explain the history to Everett. He just wanted to be thrown in the air. So then we mostly did that.

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Worth. It.
My son is only a baby, ten months old (!) but I still think these moments have impact. Greatly so. It was a pleasure to usher him along the way and begin his own adventurous, traveling journey. I want him to grow up understanding how different the world is, how the United States isn't the whole picture. How we live in a world that is vast and complex and varied and sad and happy and beautiful and disgusting and colorful and ancient and, oh, so many things. I want him to swallow all that he can, ingesting the best and brightest that our Earth and it's history has to offer. How else are we to change the world if we don't know it?

I digress.

More Italy pictures to come, all week long :)