A Weekend in Marco Island!

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Last weekend, Stevie and I took a little trip down to Marco Island, Florida! We wanted to celebrate our 12-year wedding anniversary (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) and also get a little babymoon in before this little one arrives in a few months. 5 months is always a sweet time to travel because it’s not too uncomfortable yet, so we planned a fast 2-night getaway so we could connect, read, eat and talk without our other two cuties pulling on our time.

IT WAS THE BEST.

We had never been to Marco Island. We had heard about it and had some flight points, so we picked the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort and just went for it. The resort is gorgeously situated on the water, has a seriously delicious buffet breakfast and a killer amazing spa. We weren’t expecting the food on the island to be so legendary, but it is basically all Italian and all INCREDIBLE. I’m not usually one for pasta and pizza on the beach because, I don’t know, I don’t want to feel carb-loaded when I’m in a bathing suit, but being pregnant has it’s perks. I’m always bloated! So we ate like we were in Italy! And it was magnificent. Really and truly.

EATS.
If you’re visiting, we ate a fancy, celebratory meal at Sale e Pepe (incredible fresh pasta and fish!) which was a quick walk from our hotel and has the most beautiful views of the ocean. The pizza and salad at DaVinci almost made us cry and of course we had to indulge in gelato at Dolce Mare where they also home make chocolate truffles. Get the caramel sea salt. More incredible pizza at Joeys and we also loved brunch in Naples at The Cafe on 5th where they had the best juices and crepes ahhhh. I’m drooling just typing all this.

We took lots of pictures, and these are all from my iPhone!

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^ The view from our hotel! So lush and tropical.

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^My 5 month baby bumps vs. Stevie’s (below)

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A lot of the buildings lining the beach were actually condos and not hotels. This is a place for snow birds and we were actually visiting in the off-season! It was truly tropical weather. Like HOT and humid. Most of the snow birds hang out down there Jan.-May.

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Old Navy Suit (sold out in yellow, still in stock in black top and bottom)

^One morning we decided to split up and do whatever we wanted! I crave alone time SO much and Stevie always wants to play golf, so that’s what we did! I ate breakfast alone (SUCH a luxury), laid on the beach and read, and then went to the spa for a pedicure. It was seriously the most indulgent morning I’ve had in years.

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^My tan is so fake you guys. I normally don’t lay out in the sun but since I was only out for about an hour on this particular morning I went for it and ended up spending most of that time in the ocean because it was just SO hot. But I really love getting an organic spray tan at RAW Bronzing Studio and that’s how I look and feel tan without actually baking for hours in the sun ;)

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^Just having a mermaid moment

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JCrew suit (past season, similar here) Target Hat, Target Sunglasses

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Target Dress, Target Sandals

^It was so dark by the time we went to our dinner at Sale E Pepe, but it really is worth visiting! It’s styled like an Italian art museum, with frescos painted on the walls and arched walkways and fountains. It’s really special.

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^That dinner view. I meannnnn.

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^It was so tropical! I couldn’t get over the bird songs and the lush flowers and exotic plants.

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^Downtown Naples! We didn’t get to spend a lot of time here, but we want to plan another trip to explore more because it was SO stunning. I mean, look at this pink building! Is this real life?!

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^Pistachio and Hazelnut gelato. Glory be.

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ASOS dress (sold out, similar here), Target Sandals

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This trip was truly a dream. We ate SO well, we read on the beach, we even went to the spa together and got massages one morning! Stevie hadn’t had a massage in 10 years, so you could say he was due for a de-stressing morning. He was so funny when he came out of the massage room - we met up in the little spa garden and drank cucumber water and he was like, “I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW GOOD THAT WAS.

I don’t feel bad about getting some pampering before entering into another season of sleepless nights and busy baby days. Feeling very grateful for the time we got together, to dream and talk and laugh and wonder about what the future of our family will be like with 3 kids! I am so so grateful to my parents for taking over and watching the big boys while we got away. This was an extra special trip, just getting Stevie all to myself for a few days of fun and relaxation. Hurray for beaches and babies!

What we did in Santa Barbara for the weekend!

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Oh my GOSH Santa Barbara is some kind of dream. I am so excited to share this post with you because I have been living on the memories from this beautiful trip since we returned. I hope this post is helpful if you are planning a trip out West! We were so stoked to visit this place that we had heard about for so long but failed to visit when we lived in California. On this trip, we were busy seeing friends, exploring this incredible stretch of California and eating & drinking a lotttttttt of good stuff :)

We flew into LA and headed up to Santa Barbara for the weekend, to attend our friends' wedding and also to celebrate our own 11-year anniversary. We explored the town but I wish we could have had even more time there - Santa Barbara is an absolutely decadent, luscious and exotic place. From the hand-painted Spanish tiles trimming the cobblestone streets to the volkswagon-sized succulents growing wild, I was on inspiration overload. So much intricate beauty and divine details spilling out of each vignette.

We stayed at the Santa Barbara Hilton Beachfront and had an awesome experience. The beach was steps away and the pool and gym were used by us on more than 1 occasion. As were the chips and guacamole that was available at the pool. And the breakfast was so good too! We kind of regret not going out to eat more in town, but the food at the hotel was outstanding and we were tired people so...

Things we LOVED that were recommended by locals:
- Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez Valley - One of my favorite memories! (separate post coming on this!)
- Coffee at Handlebar Roasters - we visited 3 times!
- Santa Barbara Historical Museum - it was honestly so stunning.
- Funk Zone (wine tasting rooms and art galleries) - My favorite was The Valley Project! The Sauvignon Blanc & Grenache were my favorites!

Restaurants Recommended that we didn't get a chance to visit!
- Barbareno
- Bouchon
- Lily's Taqueria
- Ice Cream at McConnells

We also ate at some food trucks (the names which I can't remember any more - #blogfail), but even though I could keep talking I figure I should just show you around so you can FEEL ME here. Santa Barbara was truly more than I could have imagined.

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We drank coffee at  Handlebar  everyday (perhaps multiple times...) and I was so excited to try oat milk in my cortado!! I know you're probably thinking that is the most California sounding order  ever , but it was seriously SO GOOD you guys. I've got to find a place to buy oat milk to have with my coffee at home! Also the scones were delish.

We drank coffee at Handlebar everyday (perhaps multiple times...) and I was so excited to try oat milk in my cortado!! I know you're probably thinking that is the most California sounding order ever, but it was seriously SO GOOD you guys. I've got to find a place to buy oat milk to have with my coffee at home! Also the scones were delish.

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There was some amazing shopping in this town, and Stevie is lucky that we were too busy juggling the wedding events, wine tasting and driving the coast in our rental convertible to take time to shop. I did manage to pick up an amazing pair of earrings in one of the boutiques in the Funk Zone which was my only souvenir of the trip!

There was some amazing shopping in this town, and Stevie is lucky that we were too busy juggling the wedding events, wine tasting and driving the coast in our rental convertible to take time to shop. I did manage to pick up an amazing pair of earrings in one of the boutiques in the Funk Zone which was my only souvenir of the trip!

A big wooden fancy carved door. I walked through it ;)

A big wooden fancy carved door. I walked through it ;)

Our rental!!! Since we drive extremely normal cars in real life, we were freaking out like school girls when we got our rental upgraded to this baby. I named her Crystal and she was the best. Also now I'm spoiled and I dream of luxury vehicles for my future life.

Our rental!!! Since we drive extremely normal cars in real life, we were freaking out like school girls when we got our rental upgraded to this baby. I named her Crystal and she was the best. Also now I'm spoiled and I dream of luxury vehicles for my future life.

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My feet are NOT this tan in real life. Thanks to my trusty gals at  Raw Bronzing Studio , I was feeling like my best self with this sun-kissed glow. Without actually having to bake in the sun ;)

My feet are NOT this tan in real life. Thanks to my trusty gals at Raw Bronzing Studio, I was feeling like my best self with this sun-kissed glow. Without actually having to bake in the sun ;)



Do you see what I mean about inspiration overload? Like, what do I look at first in this photo?! The trees, the colors, the lines, the sunlight - it's all so good and soulful and brilliant!!!

Do you see what I mean about inspiration overload? Like, what do I look at first in this photo?! The trees, the colors, the lines, the sunlight - it's all so good and soulful and brilliant!!!

Wedding guest style! I loved wearing  this gown  from  Rent the Runway  for our dear friends' wedding - I've really enjoyed using RTR this summer to find beautiful dresses for some special events like this one without actually having to buy formal attire. You can get  20% off your first time  if you try it out with code FIRST.

Wedding guest style! I loved wearing this gown from Rent the Runway for our dear friends' wedding - I've really enjoyed using RTR this summer to find beautiful dresses for some special events like this one without actually having to buy formal attire. You can get 20% off your first time if you try it out with code FIRST.



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The succulents grew like weeds. Like the most beautiful, stylish, Instagram-approved weeds.

The succulents grew like weeds. Like the most beautiful, stylish, Instagram-approved weeds.

These are stairs that I seriously wanted to take home with me. I am obsessed with spanish tile and although this style would majorly clash with my green bungalow-style home, I just know that somewhere in Heaven there is a home for me and it is, in fact, spanish architecture style and it has these stairs (I might have hugged them after this photo was taken.)

These are stairs that I seriously wanted to take home with me. I am obsessed with spanish tile and although this style would majorly clash with my green bungalow-style home, I just know that somewhere in Heaven there is a home for me and it is, in fact, spanish architecture style and it has these stairs (I might have hugged them after this photo was taken.)

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Like I said - the beach was calling and I had to GO.

Like I said - the beach was calling and I had to GO.

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This is a photo of me being pose-y because 1. I liked my dress, 2. I liked the plants and 3. We were without children so taking photos without coaxing them with snacks was a vaycay in itself. Although Stevie needed a lot of snacks on this trip so ??

This is a photo of me being pose-y because 1. I liked my dress, 2. I liked the plants and 3. We were without children so taking photos without coaxing them with snacks was a vaycay in itself. Although Stevie needed a lot of snacks on this trip so ??


Dress - 50% off with code SISTERS / Bag / Earrings - similar / Necklace


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I mean, this photo is stupid pretty. Can you see the boats in the distance? I can't handle this view. Like, I want to take everyone I know and love back to SB just for this view. The Earth is so beautiful I could cry.

I mean, this photo is stupid pretty. Can you see the boats in the distance? I can't handle this view. Like, I want to take everyone I know and love back to SB just for this view. The Earth is so beautiful I could cry.

We loved our time in this town and we really want to take another trip back! I think my boys would absolutely go nuts for the little park in downtown Santa Barbara we found. And also, I need more oat milk cortados because Georgia hasn't caught on yet. May the trip planning commence!


P.S. - Later this week I'm sharing some beachy dress photos and a review on some wineries in Santa Ynez Valley!

Our Do-Over Trip to Madrid, Spain!

Our Do-Over Trip to Madrid.

We made it! The first time I visited Madrid, things went horribly wrong. But Since Stevie had previously lived in Spain and LOVED Madrid, we decided to attempt a do-over. I am so glad we did! Madrid is an incredible city, ripe with sangria and paella and flamenco and oranges, thriving with edgy modernism in spite of it's anciently old history. I am so glad that we decided to take our son and explore this festive city together as a family of three. This was our first trip abroad with a baby, and whoa, we learned a few things along the way. But more on that later. First! Madrid!

We chose to stay in an airbnb in the Recoletos neighborhood, which is mostly a residential (non-touristy) area of town. This spot is close to the city's enormous Retiro Park (much like New York's Central Park), and we knew that would be a nice feature for Everett. We spent a lot of time walking around the park, truly mesmerized by its well-groomed, fanciful beauty. It reminded me of the Queen of Hearts' lawn in Alice in Wonderland, where they are all playing croquet and the hedges are all perfectly manicured. So pristine was this park. Though I had a hard time not staring at all the couples, um, coupling in the grass. I am always rudely reminded of what a modest American I am when I blush at Europeans' very public (let's be real graphic) displays of affection. But I got past it, and we had a lot of fun, lazily picnic-ing and wandering about, and also, SWINGING. Everett loved it, although the other little kiddos on the playground could definitely tell he wasn't Spanish like them. All that blonde hair, you know.

The park! And THOSE HEDGES.

Lunch! We watched a family play soccer while we tore into some baby food pouches.

I don't know how I am going to teach my son not to play with his food. Because I play with his food.

The park itself is huuuuuge. There is a darling little lake with people boating around, and there is a spot called the Crystal Palace - hello! That was clearly a must-see. Because when you go to Europe, you see as many castles as possible. Even if they're like, fake ones. This one was kind of a fake one. But it was still really really pretty, bending the sunlight that was streaming through all the crystallized panes. Pretty pretty.

Speaking of palaces, we spent Stevie's birthday touring the Royal Palace of Madrid! Oh what a delight. He liked the armory, while I preferred the King's residential wing of the castle. Although I must say, the Spanish are sorely under-jeweled. Their crown jewels were pathetic. AND. They don't even use them ceremonially. When someone is "crowned", they don't wear the crown at all. It just sits next to them while they take the photo. WHAT?! I mean. C'mon guys. Wear those baubles. Work that updo.

It made me realize that the queen of England is seriously, seriously endowed. I will never forget the rooms and rooms of crown jewels that she is in possession of. For real. KATE MIDDLETON IS SO LUCKY. Inheritance and whatnot.

The Royal Palace. Not too shabby. I mean, I'd take it.

Palace views of the city. And the country. And the mountains. I suddenly feel like such a peasant.

Birthday boy picking our his birthday baked good. I was like, GET ALL OF THEM.

 There are some strange statues in this city.

We wandered around and grabbed a very Spanish birthday dinner in the Plaza de San Miguel. Cheese plate! Wine! Crazy amounts of jamon and baguettes and olives! Everett was such a little champ, staying out much too late with us, sitting in the plaza and laughing and watching the sun go down and the stars come out. It was such a sweet time, the three of us, just being family, exploring the world together. It was exciting and very normal, all at once. Exciting, because everyone around us spoke emphatically in their native tongue, and normal, because we were just eating dinner, like we do everyday. It was such a strange and oddly humbling experience.

Mercado de San Miguel! Where one buys hip wine and overpriced cherries.

Fancy cheese. Of the Spanish varietals.

Oh, and in case you were worried that we weren't experiencing enough Spanish culture, we toasted to Stevie's birthday with hot chocolate churros. So yeah, the trip pretty much felt complete all in one moment. THE TASTE IN MY MOUTH WAS SINFUL AND HEAVENLY ALL AT ONCE. And if you want to be a drillionaire, you should open a hot chocolate churros food truck in the States. I will be the first in line. THE VERY FIRST.

Something that I've had on my bucket list for years is to see the infamous Velazquez Las Meninas painting in The Prado Museum. And we finally got to it! It's such a magnificent painting,some say one of the most important in the world. The meaning of the painting is disputed; there are dozens and dozens of theories about what the different subjects are doing and why - but I personally wanted to see this painting after learning about how it impacted Pablo Picasso. A few years ago, when we were in Barcelona, I saw his series of "Las Meninas"-inspired paintings, which he was compelled to create after being so taken with Velazquez's masterpiece. He created 58 paintings, in his own spectacular style, reinterpreting the original and skewing the sense of light, color, composition, angle and subject. It was fascinating, I remember thinking, "I have to see this crazy Las Meninas picture!" And now, I can say that I have. Picasso was no fool. The original painting was outstanding, so complex and intelligent and full of mystery. It was exhilarating to finally see the real picture, the one that inspired all the others. I felt like I was on a treasure hunt around the world, and a piece of the map came together for me on that day, in the Prado. I wish I could have lingered. But Everett discovered how his voice echoes in the museum and he reeeeeeally liked that... so we had to jet out of there as fast as lightning. I mean, he was loud.

Having a baby along for this particular adventure made me feel connected to people in a way that I never had. Even though I couldn't understand their words, I knew what their smiles, their gestures, and their warm words implied as they leaned down and spoke so sweetly to my son. Wherever we went, Everett somehow wormed his way into the hearts of everyone we met. I thought he was the apple of my own eye, but oh my! He left those little old Spanish women in a wake.

It made me realize that no matter what the vast differences might be between people, not only the language, but the culture, religion, politics, heck, the OCEAN that lies between the United States and Spain, the practice of adoring babies is truly universal. Young men, old women, children, couples, people of all heritages and walks of life - they approached us with warm eyes and excitable hearts. They wanted to speak to the baby, touch his hands (which made me cringe), and engage with his little presence and personality. They wanted to connect, and my little baby boy was the bridge. The olive branch. The conductor of electricity between us and them. It made me feel very human. Very human and very much a citizen of this vibrant world.

I feel insanely grateful that I had opportunity to experience this rich city just like this - as a wife and a mother, and a student of the world, exploring the Earth with my treasured ones.

And We're Off!

Off on an adventure!

I'm packed. Stevie's packed. Everett's packed. I really hope I'm not forgetting anything.

Today we leave for a 9-day family trip, exploring Madrid and Rome! The last time we were in Madrid, this is what happened. So needless to say, I don't remember a lot of the trip. But what I do remember... isn't great. So we are excited for a do-over! And the last time we were in Rome we toured hardcore, going underneath the Vatican and meandering through ancient Roman ruins. That trip was pretty epic, because we experienced 30 days of travel with just two backpacks and Rick Steves guiding us to and fro.

This time around, with Everett and his mammoth stroller and all the baby paraphernalia ON EARTH, we hope to take a more relaxed approach. Not necessarily touring and hitting tons of museums. Just wandering around, eating in cafes and taking in the deliciousness of the dolce vita. It feels very strange to have such a loose approach to this trip, but we figure if we set the bar pretty low, the trip will feel like a success if we just make it there without a major breakdown. And eat some gelato.

I am leaving my computer at home (gulp). I can't remember the last time I didn't travel with my laptop (it's been years), so I am excited and a little freaked about that. But I really want to detach and just experience this vacation with my family the old-fashioned way. I know I will have my hands full with my son, but I also don't want him to feel like second fiddle while mommy is blogging incessantly. So it's a big decision for me but I feel really good about it. However, my phone will be working and I will be posting to instagram like a crazy person, because, well, I'm a crazy person. So you can follow along our trip there, if you're into drooling over travel pics like I am. Also, I have a few posts ready to go, so there will be some content that I am excited to share even while I am away, so you can hang around the blog next week and there will be some fun recipes and recent travel posts to browse through :)

We are suuuuuper excited to celebrate two of our friends getting hitched in Rome, and anticipating what it will be like to travel abroad with our little baby... who is just shy of 10 months! Stevie's birthday is this weekend, too, so there is more than enough to clink our celebratory wine (or sangria!) glasses to!

For those of you who have been to Rome and Madrid before, do you have any suggestions on places or things to do/see/eat? Leave me a comment and let me know! And also - prayers for the 9+ hour flight with a baby pleeeeeease!

Love love love.

Happening Lately.

Happening Lately.

We knew the month of May would be a little crazy. But it usually is for everyone - travel, graduations, birthdays, it always seems like the busiest month of the year. This May is no exception.

We have just gotten back in town after a week-long "work trip" at the beach. Actually, Stevie really did work the entire time, but I got to explore a new locale with Everett and we had such a sweet time together. Everything was slower-paced, both because I had a baby in tow and because the pace of life at St. Simons Island is slooooow. And it was just the absolute best. It gave me permission to relax a bit and get used to having a baby completely on my own in a tiny crowded hotel space - and we made it! More than made it, we totally loved it. More about this lovely trip next week though. I have great pictures and some of my favorite discoveries to share :)

Shopping + Swings Date.

A baby of 9 months is a baby of FUN. I can't believe how full-circle things have become with my little son. In the beginning, the days were long and tiresome. Oh wait. That hasn't changed. But our sleep patterns have improved and I am adoring this season that we are in together. He is a bundle of fun, curious about the world and discovering new things all the time. He has a great compass for humor and he legitimately has me cracking up laughing 10 times a day. I can't imagine what toddler-hood is like, because he is already crawling everywhere and getting into trash cans, eating my shoes, dissembling my purse, the works. But his newest and most favorite discovery is the park swing -  HE LOVES SWINGING. It's a delight! We have started going to the swings everyday, even if its only for 15 minutes. The other fun thing we did this week was shop - he accompanied me in my dress-shopping endeavor to find something for a wedding next week - what a patient gentleman he was. I think we picked a good one. All in all, he is just becoming my little buddy who is along the ride for anything. It's been such a blast.

Everett Got a Passport.

So obviously I dressed him up in a bow tie for his photo. I can't wait to see it - we pick up with completed passport this week. Someone's getting ready for his first international flight! Are we nutso or what?!

Snazzy Atlanta Wedding Heyyyooo.

It's wedding season! We've had the privilege of attending quite a few over the past month, and we are headed to another next week! But this last wedding was a particularly special one, because it was in honor of Stevie's cousin, whom we love, and the celebration was like a family reunion. It didn't hurt that we partied on an Atlanta rooftop whilst enjoying the splendid view, delicious food, and dancing the night away. A baby-free night is a good one, especially when there's a bit of bubbly involved.

Travel!

Coming Up: Stevie's Birthday in MADRID, an international Flight WITH A BABY, and a Wedding in Rome! Ah!

I'm seriously not sure if I am ready for all of this, but I guess it doesn't matter... because these things are coming up! We leave next Friday for our 9-day trip abroad... if you think about it, pray we have an easy time traveling with our baby! I am compiling gear, packing and repacking, making lists, etc. and hoping that it will all come together seamlessly. I won't be blogging along the way, like I did on our last Eurotrip, because I know I will have my hands a lot fuller this time, figuratively and literally! I really want to soak in the experience and focus on my family. So I have some posts pre-written and ready to go during the time that we will be gone. If you'd like to follow along the Euro experience, I will probably be over-posting on my Instagram, and obviously I will do lots of follow-up posts about our travel once we return. I am a bit of a travel glutton... so there will be lots of sharing!

Happy Mothering.

It's Mother's Day this weekend! My first ever! I have no idea what's in store, but I imagine that I will actually get to sleep in... maybe? That would really be something. If you haven't gotten your mama something yet, I put together a little guide a few weeks back. Hopefully it's helpful? Otherwise, enjoy your weekend, all you incredibly hardworking moms!