Adventures

New Orleans

Our recent anniversary trip to New Orleans was relaxing, fun, and, like most of my vacations, filled with great food.

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The jazz was upbeat and filled the streets.

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St. Louis Cathedral was lovely.

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I loved people watching and enjoying the sunny weather at Jackson Square one afternoon.

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I also loved the Cajun food. During one meal I actually had jambalaya, étouffée, red beans and rice, and gumbo all in one sitting. When in Rome.

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Confession: Although we stayed right on the corner of Bourbon Street, we only spent maybe a total of 20 minutes on the street itself. The city has so much more to offer. But during our short time on Bourbon Street we did see (among other oddities) a drunken 20-something guy dressed as Cookie Monster stumbling around after his buddies in the middle of the afternoon weeping because he lost his cell phone.

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Adventures

Providence, Rhode Island

Providence wasn’t really on our itinerary when my mother and I were recently in Rhode Island, but when our hotel near the beach turned out to be a flop, we diverted ourselves to downtown Providence for one lovely night.

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We grabbed the very last available reservation for that night at the beautiful Renaissance Hotel in downtown Providence and ate delicious seafood at Hemenway’s. We were a little disappointed that Providence’s famous WaterFire, which normally would have taken place the night we were there, was rescheduled due to Labor Day festivities, but downtown Providence still made for a great walk. There were also several wedding parties having photographs done that evening so we had fun scoping out the gorgeous dresses. Creeping on weddings is one of my favorite things.

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The Rhode Island State House was beautiful at night.

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This fountain in Burnside Park was a gift to the City of Providence from Italian Diplomat Signor Paul Bajnotti. It was commissioned as a memorial to Bajnotti’s wife Carrie Mathilde Brown, who was born in Providence.

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The next day we made a stop at Verde Vineyards about 20 minutes outside of Providence. I picked up a bottle of their Surveyor red wine to take home to my hubby.

Even when travel plans get disrupted a bit by a gross hotel room or impending bad weather, switching gears and changing plans can be even more fun!

 

In My House

My Summer Suitcase: 2016 Edition

Because we only get maybe two months of actual summer weather where I live, I don’t buy a lot of summery clothes. The items I do purchase need to be classic and versatile so I can use them again next summer as well as pack them for any warm weather vacations I might get to go on during the year.

Next week the hubby, toddler, and I will head on a beach vacation I have been daydreaming about all through the cold winter months. I will definitely be packing these items (or something similar to them) for this summer’s excursions.

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1. I bought this denim jacket last summer and I wear it constantly on my days off. It’s perfect for a chilly airplane or over-air-conditioned buildings. (Gap) 2. A low-maintenance skirt paired with a tee or tank is one of my favorite summer go-to outfits. This one is on sale for $12.99 so I will definitely be ordering it. (H&M) 3. Ankle pants are one of my favorite summer staples. I like to pair a fun pattern like these with a simple top in black or gray. (Ann Taylor Loft) 4. I am not a big fan of shorts, but a classic pair like these look polished and put-together. I ordered these in mint jacquard which is no longer available, but the navy are pretty, too. (Banana Republic) 5. A casual tee dress is a good staple to have. I grabbed in navy blue at Gap Outlet for $14. (Gap) 6. I bought a pair of shoes similar to these last summer and they have been some of my favorite shoes ever. This floral print is feminine and summery. (Ann Taylor Loft) 7. As always, I adore big sunglasses. Usually Oakley shades are a little too sporty for my liking, but this pair is a little more ladylike. (Oakley) 8. Linen tanks and tees are my favorite for summer. They are breathable, but look a little more polished than jersey. I pair them with everything from jeans to shorts to flouncy skirts. (J. Crew)

Adventures

One Last Vegas Post

My husband and I have each been to Las Vegas several times but never together. We had a lovely time celebrating our second anniversary. I already posted on Giada, Death Valley, and the Bellagio Conservatory, but here’s one last post to wrap up the trip.

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We dined to our hearts’ content.

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We enjoyed some pool time.

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We visited the Pawn Stars store.

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And when my husband wanted to play Black Jack and bet on college football, I did this…

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Solo concert-going isn’t too bad. I think it beats forcing your spouse to endure you belting out your favorite late-1980s country music while shedding tears and repeating “Wynonna and Naomi just. sound. so. good.”

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Then we saw the Cirque du Soleil performance of Ka at the MGM Grand. This one we went to together and it was amazing. I love traveling with my husband and can’t wait until the opportunity arises again!

Adventures

Exploring Death Valley (Coupons Included)

While my husband and I were celebrating our anniversary with a trip to Las Vegas, we rented a car and took the two-hour drive to Death Valley for some hiking.

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Death Valley is desolate and beautiful. On this October day it was around 90 degrees there.

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After spending a few hours exploring Zabriskie Point, Furnace Creek, Dante’s View, and the Sand Dunes, we were ready to voyage back to Las Vegas for a romantic dinner.

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Mother Nature had other plans. We saw the clouds building off in the distance.

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Those clouds were covering the desert ground with rain, flooding most of the highways back into Las Vegas. I began to get a little nervous. I began to have visions of foregoing my lovely hotel room on the Vegas Strip to stay at a sketchy hotel wherever we could find one. Or sleeping in the car.

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As usual, my husband was calm and collected. He promised we would make it back, and after detouring almost 200 miles out of the way, we arrived at our hotel with time to grab a late but very romantic dinner. P.S. I need new hiking shoes, and here’s a free shipping coupon for my favorite shoe shopping site.

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If I have to be stranded in a flooded desert, this is the guy I want by my side.

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We rented our car through Hertz. Click here for a coupon. If you’re planning your own trip to Las Vegas, click here for an Expedia deal on airfare/hotels or check out this coupon for hotel discounts. Thanks to imin.com for sponsoring this post. There are hundreds of fantastic coupons there.

Adventures

Bellagio Conservatory

When I am in Vegas, one thing I make sure to never miss is a walk through the Bellagio Conservatory.

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When my husband and I were there celebrating our anniversary, we walked through and the autumn display was beautiful.

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I loved the little bridge surrounded by chrysanthemums.

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The flowers smelled so fresh and lovely.

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I have visited the conservatory in several seasons but I have to say fall is my favorite.

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Until next time, Bellagio.

Food

Giada (Coupons Included)

I decided to act like a Food Network groupie while we were in Las Vegas on our anniversary adventure. We tried Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, which was good, but Giada at the new boutique hotel The Cromwell was absolutely fantastic.

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I have long been a fan of Giada De Laurentiis. I marvel at how she eats decadent Italian fare and remains a size 4. Turns out, Giada’s secret is even etched into the light fixtures at her charming restaurant: “I eat a little of everything and not too much of anything.”

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The dining room overlooks the Bellagio fountains. We were there for lunch, but I can only imagine the few after dark would be exquisite.

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We started with a cheese plate (Parmigiano-Reggiano with wild sage honey) and bresaola, a delicious dried and aged beef served in paper-thin slices. Then I had this amazing margherita pizza, which truly was the best I have had.

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How fun would mini margherita pizzas be on these little pans from Macy’s? Use this coupon code! If you need some gadgets from KitchenAid, they are offering free shipping over $75, too. After all, Christmas is coming.

My husband had the salmon cake benedict and it was delicious, too.

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And yes, I was the weirdo taking blog pictures in the restroom. The stack of hand towels that match the dinnerware was just so my cup of tea.

In honor of all things Food Network, here is a coupon for the Food Network Store good until the end of the year. You can find all kinds of great coupons and sign up for discounts at imin.com, gracious sponsors of this post. If you are making travel plans of your own, check out this coupon for discounted hotel rooms, too.

Adventures

10 Things I Learned Flying with a One-Year-Old

My husband and I took our first flight with our daughter when she was eight months old and flew again when she was just over a year old. We definitely intend to continue air travel with our precious little carry-on, but there are a few things we have learned.

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10: Gross things will happen so just get over it now. My daughter loved licking the plane window and found a raisin to eat off the floor. We hadn’t brought raisins.

9: Anyone who plays peek-a-boo with your child on the plane better be committed to continuing the game for the remainder of the flight. This should be announced with the safety instructions before take-off.

8: Every time you go through security, the class clown of the TSA agents will say: “OK, let’s put the baby on the conveyor belt and you can carry the stroller through the gate.” Be nice and chuckle every time.

7: Take a copy of birth certificate to be safe, but you probably won’t be asked to show it. You don’t want to be asked to discard your child in the security line garbage can along with pocket knives and shampoo bottles that exceed TSA size requirements.

6: Check in online before your flight and indicate that you will have a “child on lap” or you won’t be allowed to board with the child. Keep in mind, the term “child on lap” is used loosely as your child will really be anywhere but on your lap: The floor, your shoulders, the aisle, and under the seat in front of you.

5: Your child will poop as soon as the plane leaves the ground. It doesn’t matter if you changed him or her immediately before boarding the plane. There will be poop.

4: Most planes don’t have changing tables. This will necessitate you balancing your baby on the lid of the tiny plane toilet, desperately trying to remove a soiled diaper and replace it with a clean one without. touching. anything.

3: Take two things: A stroller and a diaper bag which doubles as your carry-on or purse. Make arrangements for everything else to be available at your destination. We rented a car seat from the rental car company and made sure to stay at a hotel that had portable cribs.

2: Try to get seated next to a grandma. We lucked out and did a couple of times and these dear women sent from God himself amused our daughter for the majority of the flights. I wish “grandma adjacent” was a request you could mark when booking your ticket, like “aisle seat” or “window seat.”

1: When it’s all said and done, the good times of the trip will outweigh the bad, and you’ll be ready to fly again a few months later.

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Adventures

Oregon: Hotel Rose, The Coast, and Multnomah Falls

While on our fabulous, fun and food-filled Portland adventure, our base camp was the quirky and cute Hotel Rose.

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Hotel Rose made us feel right at home. They are kid-friendly without seeming that way. They had a portable crib set up for us before we even arrived in our room, and the daily pineapple cupcakes available in the hotel lobby had me at hello.

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They also feature the most comfortable hotel room beds I have ever experienced. My daughter agrees.

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The hotel is right around the corner from several fantastic bars and restaurants. It is also within arm’s reach of the Portland Saturday Market, which features hundreds of booths showcasing art, music, and food.

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We took a little roadtrip to the coast so our girl could see the ocean for the first time.

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We visited the breathtaking Multnomah Falls.

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We spent some time on Sauvie Island, nestled between the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. My husband lived on this quaint little island for a while during optometry school. All in all, it was a relaxing family vacation and a delightfully fun place to visit.

Adventures

Portland, Oregon: Powell’s, Voodoo, and Falafel

We are back from Portland and my pants are definitely fitting a little tighter, but it was oh so worth it.

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We packed a lot into our few days there. It was my first visit but my husband lived in the Portland area while attending optometry school. It was fun having him show us around.

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I will post more on our trip to the coast, wine tasting, the Portland Children’s Museum, and eating our way through the city. For now, here are a few highlights.

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Powell’s Books was a must for me, of course. It is touted as the world’s largest book store. It is a good thing I was hungry again when we were there because I could have spent days on end perusing the shelves.

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Because we were traveling with a one-year-old, we were back in the hotel room by 8 p.m. every night and up bright and early. I took advantage of this on two of the mornings there and went for a jog downtown where we were staying.

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And, because I’m a total health nut, I only stopped at Voodoo Donuts one of those two mornings.

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Voodoo is a must when you’re in Portland and thanks to my daughter waking me up at 5:30 a.m. I didn’t even have to stand in line.

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Another must in Portland is visiting the food trucks. They do not disappoint.

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I opted for this falafel sandwich and it changed my life.

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And when it was time to walk off some of this delicious fare, the view of the beautiful Columbia River Gorge provided exactly what we needed.

Stay tuned for more on Portland!