A Weekend in St. Augustine.

That view. With all its softness and familiarity and yet -  it's never the same. The cerulean blue sky whispering to the teasing peach, melting into an ombre ocean. The steady mercury tide, measuring predictably in and out like the beat of my heart.

There is something about seeing the ocean after such a long time of not seeing the ocean. That view somehow washes me with calm, a reassurance that everything is just as it should be. There is no second-guessing by the sea. Only acceptance and an overwhelming sense of love.

The salted air and the birds of paradise and the glossy foliage - they just do my heart a whole lot of good. I find that a visit to the ocean costs a lot less than a counseling session (well, that's probably debatable if you're asking Stevie), but the outcome is often the same for me. It untangles all the wiry emotions that have bent their way around my brain, creating confusion and chaos and anxiety. But at the very first sighting of the sea, my lungs fill with deeper breath and something I've been holding on to for far too long is released, and I am always freed of it's tangles.

It's a very good thing we have, me and the ocean.

I come from a long line of ladies who love the ocean and consider a visit the same as therapy. My mom, my sisters - we all have a love for the tide, the shells, the humid breeze, even the messy matted hair. Chances are if you're reading this, at least half of you can relate. Nothing I've shared is profound or new or novel - it's simply true. God created wonders on this earth for us to seek out and enjoy exploring. Proverbs 22:5 says, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and it is the glory of kings to search out a matter." I like that verse so much. I love this place endlessly.

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We visited my sister and her amazing family a few weeks ago in St. Augustine. This little city holds so many special memories for me and Stevie because we honeymooned here (almost ten years ago!) We came down here once when we were dating early on, with a group of people, and it's where I realized I really loved him. Something about this place always makes me feel so much peace about where I'm at in life - I always get reassurance that I am doing exactly what I should be doing.

We did all the things on this trip - walked the downtown (favorite shops are Red Pineapple and Sea Glass), ate the best popsicles (the Hyppo Pop!) and did what most parents of a oodles of children do - eat at home. There are sooo many awesome restaurants in St. Augustine, but in this stage of life, we didn't dare try to take ours out to dinner with us :) My bro-in-law Brad took us out on his boat to a deserted island, where we had a lunch of barbeque sandwiches and mac n cheese. I'll be honest - I felt like quite the fish out of water. I've been on boats a lot before, but it made me realize that we aren't native boating types - the first moment Brad started driving the boat, both of my boys started howling and Everett literally threw his body on the ground of the boat shrieking. Me and Stevie just looked at each other like, "Ummm this is bad." Thankfully we got both of them to calm down, but it just made me feel like our family is so suburban. Haha oh well. We are.

We even had an overlap evening where my younger sister Rachel and her husband Chuck came in town, so all of my siblings and spouses were together. It was the first meal the six of us had together without my parents also being present and it was wonderful! We all felt so hilariously adult, having our adult chit chat about our lives.

Stevie and I escaped to the beach and played around with Everett at sunset. Daxton didn't love the March wind that was in all its glory, so we had to make our oceanside visits brief. But we savored every moment and of course I'm already making plans for a return visit. Is it just me, or do you always need just one more day when you go to the beach?

Thanks Kara and Brad, for letting us invade your space and sleep in your children's rooms and fill your house with our clutter and noise and snacks aplenty. Love you to the sea and back.

P.S. - Similar orange kimono here, jeans here, essential oil diffusing bracelets here, essential oil diffusing necklace here, sandals here.

My Sister's Beach Wedding, in Photos.

All photos by Sarah Massie of  Mint & Honey Photography

All photos by Sarah Massie of Mint & Honey Photography

Happy Thursday, friends!

I just saw a mess load of incredibly gorgeous photos from my sister's Nov. 1 beach nuptials and I wanted to share a few quick ones. With her permission, of course. They celebrated in a private ceremony with just a few friends and family around, right on the ocean in St. Augustine. You can read my weepy, big-sister-y letter to her here. I had personally never been to a beach wedding before. Well, I had never been to a beach wedding that hadn't been rained out :) But this one was fully of sunny skies and treasured memories for this sweet couple.

I'm wearing  this dress  from Free People :)

I'm wearing this dress from Free People :)

I love these dear family photos of the three of us, even though Everett's leg was still broken at the time. Many thanks to the crazy talented photographer Sarah Massie of Mint & Honey for capturing a few of our family, along with the bride and groom! If you would like to see more photos (you know, of the actual bride), you can check out her post on the Mint & Honey blog.

You know, I can't remember seeing a bride that wasn't stunning. My sis was absolutely no exception :)

Happening Lately.

These two. A little reunited party :)

Happening Lately.

Good morning! Happiest of Mondays, to you. My little family just got back in town from what I like to call "the dueling spring breaks" - Stevie was in Istanbul for a wedding this past weekend, so I hopped in the car and headed down to my sister's place in St. Augustine! I am still soooooo jealous that he got to take such an exotic trip without me, but we didn't think it would be a great situation to bring Everett all the way over to Turkey and then not have a babysitter for the wedding. Womp womp. So he spent the weekend batchin' it up and eating Turkish Delights with his buds from business school. I had a blast, playing with my sister and her kids, taking Everett to the pool FOR THE FIRST TIME, and of course enjoying the ocean and the grand town of St. Augustine. We sent each other the silliest photos - me holding Everett in various swim hats, he taking selfies outside of mosques. He's going to share about his whirlwind experience in Istanbul here on the blog later this week, but for now, a few photos of Spring Break with my little man.

Time at my sisters' place includes jogs to the beach, exotic flowers in bloom everywhere, 5 o'clock mojitos, and yes, I'm aware that this isn't real life. But it's real fun.

Top: Everett attacks my sunglasses. Middle: We might have given him his first hair trim. Ah! Bottom: He attacks my sunglasses again. I wizened up and bought a cheapo pair that he can gnaw on to his heart's desire :)

Other Life-ish Things:

*New Site Coming!

I am soooo excited about the work that the lovely Maiedae ladies are doing on my new site. I can't wait to show you! I got a sneak preview of it over the weekend and it's going to be RAD. Much cleaner design, simpler navigation, and more robust user interface. So that YOU can access recipes, travel guides, etc. much easier - woohoo! Yaay for growth! I'll keep you posted on the switchover :)

*Future Travels.

Our fam is gearing up for a handful of travel dates over the next several months. I am most excited about our May trip to Madrid and Rome! If any of you have advice for traveling abroad with a baby, I am all ears! I've been researching and compiling lots of info, and so far this and this have been super helpful. The last time Stevie and I Eurotripped, we did it totally hippie-style, with backpacks as our only luggage and an eternally long list of "must-sees" - I have a feeling this little adventure (with a BABY) will be quite different.

*This Week.

I've got another great "salad"-ish recipe, our experience at The Color Run, and of course, Stevie's Istanbul trip, coming at ya this week. So many fun things to share! Hope your Monday is magnificent!

A Sigh of Relief in St. Augustine.

A Sigh of Relief in St. Augustine.

Last week I took an impromptu road trip down to St. Augustine, Florida.

It was necessary for my soul.

It was one of those trips that I didn't realize how badly I needed. But with all this wet wintery weather and cabin fever, along with my current car-less situation, with a baby, IN THE SUBURBS, I was ripe for a bit of adventure and freedom. Haha, how adventurous is it when you're only going to your sister's place? But it was adventurous to me, because it was the first time I packed up my child and road tripped anywhere with him. Did I mention that I did all of this husband-less? I did all of this husbandless. It was quite the adventure, folks.

Let me just take a moment to tell you, GO HUG YOUR MOTHER TODAY.

Stevie had some back-to-back work trips, so we knew we would be apart for a week. A week is a long time, people! And it feels so much longer, now that we are blessed with a cutie little baby. I just feel like I really need his help and support, you know, all the time. Bathing the child and feeding the child and holding the child - he weighs 18.5 lbs. these days! But we did it. Me and Everett. We made it through the week daddy-less without too much fuss. In fact, Everett started crawling and grew in two teeth while we were down in Florida. And saw the ocean for the first time (I instagrammed that epic moment here). Talk about a trip!

We weren't alone though. Far from it. My darn-adorable little sister Rachel agreed to take to the road with me and Everett, and last minute, my dad jumped in the car with us, too. And my mom was already in Florida the previous week on her annual "girls trip" with all her friends from high school (I know, party animal, right??), so she met us at my sister's house, too! It became a huge, unplanned family affair. Babies and movies and laughter and wine. My Dad took us shopping, his three grown adult girls. The whole trip was so sweet. It's not often that we are all together anymore (I know, you're probably thinking, don't you live with your parents??) But I mean my entire family. We haven't all been together since Everett was born almost 8 months ago. And I mean, we still weren't, since Stevie wasn't with us, but it was still really good to have that family energy vibing once again. The storytelling. The eye rolling. The babies throwing food around the kitchen. Whatnot.

What did I do during this Swiss Family Robinson weekend? Sniffed that salty air. Jogged the mile to the beach (and back again!) Stood in awe at all the mossy-ness. Ate fish tacos (everyday!) Rolled around on the carpet, playing with my niece and nephew. Chased Everett around the house. Stared out the window at the rain (the weather wasn't really our friend there, either). It was really simple stuff. And it was kind of the best.

// My exercise buddy. My life buddy. Built-in BFF. God I love her. //

// All. That. Moss. //

// The ocean made him sneeze. And then made him laugh. And then made him sleepy. //

// My baby likes to hold hands. I'm already nervous about middle school. //

// LOVE MOMMY FOREVERRRRRR. //

// I bet you're thinking this photo looks fake. I know. If I didn't know her for myself, I would think this homegirl is some kind of fairy princess. But since I know her for myself, I KNOW SHE IS. //

// Tacos and a smoothie errrrrday. And now I shall move in. Into this establishment. //

// Why are cousins so stinkin' CUTE. Everett was obsessed with them. //

// Sigh. My kin-women. //

Need More Moss.

I am just so grateful for this trip. Though the weather betrayed me just a tad bit, my soul was refreshed just being in a different environment. Different, but comfortable, since it was in the joyful home of my sweet sister and her family. I am already planning another trek down there, to do a bit more culinary mining in the downtown. I love St. Augustine a lot (we honeymooned there for a few days, almost 8 years ago WHAAAAT), and it never gets old, exploring that rad historic little town.

// This is what it feels like to be practically choked with love. //

// SISTERS! My heart pretty much exploded on that beach. //

// I'll never let go, Jack. //

The Ghost of Beachy Past.

If you're interested, I have an arsenal of St. Augustine shenanigans from the past, like the time I was pregnant and cold and sad and St. Augustine cheered me up and the time I was threatened by a pelican. You read that right.

Quick Reminder - Don't forget to enter this giveaway this week! And get ready for another giveaway starting here tomorrow!

SPRING BREAK 2014: Orlando & St. Augustine

Spring Break.

The Sunshine. My nephew and his brand-new little sis. Relaxation. Faux cocktails. What do all these things have in common? Pure Heaven, that's what. I had the privilege to tag along on my husband's work trip last week. Well, actually, the conversation went more like this:

Him: I've got a week-long work conference in Orlando.

Me: Um, I'm gonna need to join you.

Him: Tickets might be kinda expensive to fly you down there...

ME: I AM GOING WITH YOU.

So yeah. There was no way I was gonna stick around this town to watch another TWO snow storms blow by (which totally happened). When instead I could take a vacation to the sun. And since it was suuuuuper close, we added onto our vaycay and spent the weekend in St. Augustine, where we got to celebrate my nephew Oliver turning four! I remember when he was a tiny little babe, and now he's big enough to run away from my photographing him. That boy. At least I can still outrun him (for now.)

Getting Real.

I don't think I really realized how hard this winter has been. But on the first day, when I stripped down to my bathing suit and felt the sun warm my pasty skin... I realized how challenging the dark, snowy New York winter has been. Maybe being pregnant and emotional has something to do with it. But this has been the toughest winter I've ever had. It's been a challenge to stay positive, encouraged and motivated, even though I've had the privilege of living in my dream city. Taking this little break down to warmer climate wasn't just for funsies - I realized it was really necessary to re-charge my mindset and let the warmth seep from my skin into my... well, soul? Sounds really silly, but I'm being for real.

It was the dreamiest week. I laid by the pool and SLEPT. And guzzled lemonade. And read baby books. And then when we headed to St. Augustine, I played with my sisters babies and died and went to Heaven.

// I lounged at the hotel during the week. Even made a little friend (lizard, top left). //

// We hit the arcade for my nephew's 4-year birthday celebration. Gotta be honest, we all REALLY enjoyed it. (See the adult in the top left, "Shooting bad guys"). //

// Don't freak out, it's fake beer. But it tasted soooo good. We enjoyed a date night at The Pub Orlando. If you visit (which you should!), get the Welsh Pretzel Au Jus Sandwich! //

// This kid. Seriously, he's so so perfect. //

// Had the best time bonding with this little sweetheart! I miss cuddling with her already. My big sis pretty much schooled me on babies all weekend long. Like, I CHANGED DIAPERS. And did all kinds of jiggling, wiggling, wrangling, cooing and baby-talk to soothe this little one when necessary. //

// There's nothing like the mossy terrain of the northern Florida coast. Dreamy. //

// So sad to leave. For so many reasons. //

The Maturity.

Instead of whining and complaining about leaving... I chose to just be grateful for a week of bliss. Hahahahaaaaaaa did you just believe that? Stevie definitely had to pep talk me about how I need to be grateful and focus on the positive. And not weep for my kin. So... yeah. Still working on that attitude.

Thank you Lord for creating a mossy, mighty land called Florida. And for Spring Break. And for sneaking away for a delight moment in the sun.