Search Results : aunt cc

Jul 272015
 

Over the weekend Fabio and I made the 6 hour drive up to Otis, Massachusetts (again!) to celebrate my aunt CC and uncle Steve’s low-key family wedding!

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It was such a fun weekend, and I am once again experiencing the depression that settles in on the Monday after a fun wedding weekend. Sigh.

Anyway, here’s my recap!

Thursday

Fabio and I drove up to Otis on Thursday night after dropping Jack off with our friends Jojo and Jadd who graciously offered to watch him for us over the weekend. It was a long drive and we didn’t wind up leaving until around 8:00 pm (Fabio got held up at work) so we didn’t arrive until 2:00 am. Ugh.

Luckily Fabio is great at driving long distances late at night, so I always try my best to stay awake with him and be a good co-pilot. This of course meant we needed Starbucks at midnight, just to make sure we didn’t get too sleepy during the drive. I have to say midnight Starbucks is a weird experience!

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Eventually we arrived safe and sound and fell immediately into bed.

Friday

Friday morning began with a delicious breakfast cooked by Steve – an egg scramble with broccoli, tomatoes from the garden, chicken and cheese. Plus half a protein English muffin on the side. Yum!

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For most of the day I hung around the house and tried to help get everything ready for the wedding, but CC and Steve didn’t need much help so eventually they sent me off to enjoy the lake!

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Fabio joined me and took some photos as I swam out to the swim platform and did a cannon ball into the chilly water.

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It was a beautiful day and quite hot in the sun, so the cold water felt great!

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Back at the house everything was coming together nicely. Doesn’t the place look great?

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The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent with good food, plenty of wine, and lots of family time! Steve’s family arrived around 4:00, and my mom, stepdad, and uncle David arrived around 7:00.

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We played lots of horseshoes and just sat around enjoying the beautiful summer evening.

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CC had purchased sweatshirts for everyone as wedding favors since it gets chilly at night. How cute is her display?! ( I helped set it up!)

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We moved inside once the evening got too chilly, and stayed up way too late talking to one another and laughing. It was such a fun night!

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Saturday

Saturday was wedding day! Our morning began with an excellent breakfast tag-teamed by my uncle David and stepdad: perfectly poached eggs on top of homemade potato hash. Plus French toast and bacon for whoever wanted some (me, duh). As usual, they knocked it out of the park!

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The rest of my day was spent at the lake with CC and my mom! The three of us love the sun so it was really nice to soak up some rays and catch up with them! While we were at the lake the boys went golfing, so it was like a mini bachelorette/bachelor day for the bride and groom. 🙂

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When we got back to the house we enjoyed tons of delicious snacks and got ourselves ready for the wedding!

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Steve’s brother Brian got permission from the state of Massachusetts to serve as a temporary officiant, so he was the one to actually marry CC and Steve. Since it was only family in attendance, it was really nice to have him perform the ceremony.

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The vows were short and sweet, and a few minutes later CC and Steve were married! You may kiss the bride!!

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Woohoo!!

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The happy couple. 🙂

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Doesn’t CC look fabulous? I loved her dress and shoes.

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Here I am with CC, my uncle David, and my mom!

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It was really nice to have my mom there for everything – this was her first time visiting Otis and I’m so glad she was able to make the trip up. It was so much fun spending time with her!
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Of course I was happy to have this handsome guy by my side too!

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After many champagne toasts to the newlyweds, we headed inside for dinner!

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For our meal we each enjoyed a perfectly cooked steak and a giant lobster!

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Everything tasted delicious, and we all enjoyed cake, brownies, and ice cream for dessert. Oh, yes.

The rest of the evening was spent drinking more wine and champagne and dancing the night away.

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There may have even been some 3:00 am badminton playing, but I obviously didn’t get any pictures of that epic adventure. Needless to say our skills had decreased with our alcohol consumption. 😉

Congratulations again, Steve and CC! I wish you two a lifetime of love and laughter. <3

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Sunday

We spent the whole day Sunday in the car driving back from Otis, and picked up Jack at around 7:00 pm. Our meal planning and grocery shopping didn’t happen, so now I’m going to regret it all week. Sigh.

Question of the day: What do you do during long car rides to entertain yourself?

We listened to a ton of podcasts!

 Posted by on July 27, 2015
May 052015
 

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but my aunt CC (my mom’s sister) is a huge fitness fanatic, and used to teach all types of classes from spinning to bootcamps.

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Since I’ve been taking a ton of fitness classes with ClassPass lately, I’ve been paying a little more attention to the instructors and now have a greater appreciation for my aunt’s former teaching days. Part of me thinks teaching a fitness class would be the coolest thing ever (extra income, free classes, inspiring people, etc.) but the other part of me thinks it would be terrifying (I get nervous about public speaking, so I can’t imagine what it would be like to lead a class by myself).

Since I was pondering all this, I decided to ask my aunt CC a few questions about her teaching days, and wanted to share her responses here on the blog. Here we go!

From CC: 

First I’d like to say how honored I am to be interviewed on CET!  I’ve been an avid fan from the very beginning! It’s my absolute favorite web site ever!!! (Then again, I’m also a little biased.) 🙂

Q: When did you decide to start teaching fitness classes, and what pushed you from just participating in the classes to wanting to teach them yourself?

A: That is a great question! I actually have no idea; everything just kind of evolved. I used to work out a lot, but somehow life got in the way and my fitness had fallen by the wayside. I was overweight and generally unhappy. At the time I worked at a company that had a great discount at a local gym. Everyone talked about the spin classes, especially this one particular class. One morning I got up “early” for one of these awesome spin classes, and was completely hooked.  I had never had so much fun, and I couldn’t wait to do it again. We had a very strong community at that gym, and all became very good friends. We were a great team that pushed each other to do more, get stronger, be healthier. It was very empowering, and that love for fitness has stayed with me ever since. So that was it for me, although now I laugh that I used to consider a 7:30 am spin class “early”!

Fitness and exercise is all about the enjoyment – if you don’t like what you’re doing, you won’t stay with it. At first I started by taking just two spin classes a week, and then I started taking the 5:45 am and 7:30 classes back to back, and the night classes too. For me, it was all about building and getting stronger. You can always do a little more, even if it’s small.  You can always push yourself to be a little stronger every day.

After about a year of taking the spin classes, I figured the next step outside of my comfort zone was to get a hold of that microphone and do it myself. I was absolutely terrified!

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Q: Did you know right away you wanted to teach spin?

A: Nope. I was the biggest scardy cat in the room when I first started taking those classes. It just evolved from a need to push myself and get out of my comfort zone.

Q: How did you start teaching other classes, like bootcamps?

A: After a little while, it seemed like teaching spin was too easy. I felt the need to challenge myself and do more – boot camp / muscle conditioning was a whole ‘nother animal, and I had to figure it out.

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CC and my Uncle Steve!

Q: What was your favorite type of class to teach?

A: I still think spin is my favorite; you can truly let go and let the music drive you. There’s nothing like the energy from an awesome spin class. That being said, the level of accomplishment you feel after teaching a thoroughly exhausting boot camp is fantastic too – leave ‘em so tired they can’t even move!

Q: What was the training/certification process like for becoming a fitness instructor?

A: My spin certification through Johnny G was fairly simple; there’s only so much you can do on a bike that doesn’t go anywhere! (I think in 2002 it was about $200, and took a couple of hours on a Saturday.)  It involved a written test and then you had to lead the class for one song. I’m sure the process has changed a lot now; there is a much stronger focus on safety and technique.

Certification for group exercise is a significantly richer investment both financially and in time. My ACE certification required A LOT of study and a full weekend accreditation process, including a written and performance-based test. It was HARD! I had to learn about nutrition, kinesiology, myology and osteology for the testing process.

AFAA  is also a reputable, well-known organization for certification.

Regardless of the organization, be prepared to study and learn a lot of things you would never consider part of the group exercise space.

I’d also recommend that if you do get certified to conduct any group exercise class, you should re-certify or take additional courses every year or so. It’s important to keep your skills sharp and to learn new tricks. It’s amazing how fast you can burn out, and that’s the worst – for you and your class.

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Q: How much extra income did you make through this experience (roughly), and do you think it was worth the cost of certification?

A: The extra income you can expect varies considerably based upon your location (I taught in Boston, DC and San Francisco – very different markets and different rates – anywhere from $75/class to $150), and the exclusivity of the gym (more prestigious gym = higher pay). When I lived in San Francisco I was teaching 7 classes a week and working full time. It was a lot to handle (probably too much), but I under-estimated the cost of living in California and was so fortunate to have a secondary source of income to help. 

The cost of certification varies based upon the level of your certification and your location. My spin certification (again, through Johnny G) was minuscule compared to the income it generated. Certification for group exercise is a much better investment in both finance and time. 

Q: Did you prefer teaching at small boutique studios, or larger gyms?

A: I did teach at something of a “boutique” gym in California, and also larger gym chains. For me it was all about the location and how well it fit into my life. I’d teach anywhere!  I loved it!!

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Q: What tips do you have for someone who is considering becoming a fitness instructor?

A: Go for it!  You have absolutely nothing to lose! You will learn so much and push yourself so far beyond what you think you can do! NOTHING beats that feeling! Regardless of how many classes you end up teaching, it’s worth it!

Also remember to be patient; class schedules are set and you can’t expect to get a prime class right away (or any set class for that matter). You usually have to wait around on the sub list for a while before a permanent class opens up. Jump at every opportunity to sub; get your name out there and start to build your following. In the beginning it usually means picking classes on holidays or at the last minute without a lot of notice. I always kept a spare set of workout clothes and a playlist ready to go at all times; you just never knew when that call would come in to pick up a class. 

As with most things, the more you do it the easier it gets. Practice teaching when no one is around. Go into an empty spin studio and do a practice class. Go through your song list, see how well the sprints work, the jumps, the counts, and your breathing. Practice makes perfect.

Have faith, stay positive, and be confident – YOU CAN DO IT!!! Most importantly though, have fun! Don’t stress, smile and love every second of it. 🙂

I don’t know about you guys, but this sort of makes me want to go be a fitness instructor like…right now. Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions, CC! Love you!

Question of the day: Would you ever want to be a fitness instructor? Why or why not?

 Posted by on May 5, 2015
Dec 152017
 

Hey there! It’s time for another wedding recap, this time with some photos from cocktail hour! If you missed any of my past recaps, you can find those here.

As usual, here are some vendor notes for the photos in this post:

  • Dessert: Peace of Cake (the prettiest and most delicious desserts!!)
  • Florist: Monteray Farms (Amy Wilkins was truly amazing to work with. If you have an Eastern Shore wedding, I would totally recommend her!)
  • Photography: Lauren Nievod (I’ve already raved about her a ton of times – 100% recommend)
  • Venue: Wye River Conference Center (amazing Eastern Shore/riverfront hotel with beautiful grounds. Can only be booked by groups, meaning our guests took up the whole thing)

And now, let’s dive right in!

As soon as our wedding ceremony ended, we walked up the pathway to the patio and grassy area where cocktail hour would be held!

In this area, we also had a couple of tables with our guest book and boxes for cards, and the staff at the Wye River Conference Center hung our cool wooden photo frame that my MoH/best friend Bianca made us for our engagement party the year before!

Before we got started with cocktail hour, we took some beautiful family portraits. We had the photo lists planned out ahead of time and we had told all of our family to be ready for pictures immediately following the ceremony, which made everything go a lot faster.

Here’s Fabio’s family…

And my dad, stepmom, and sister!

And then we got some with my mom, stepdad, stepsister, and her boyfriend!

We had a few other iterations of these – some with just the parents, some with my grandparents, etc. – but after about 20 minutes we had wrapped up pictures and could enjoy our cocktail hour!

At this point my mom and Aunt CC went with me into the house to tie my dress up into its bustle (which was a lot more complicated than we had hoped), but before long we were back outside with everyone enjoying the party.

This space was so beautiful for cocktail hour – there was a nice patio with tables and chairs but a lot more room out on the grass. It was so beautiful!

Our guests seemed to really enjoy the passed hors d’ouvres too – sadly I didn’t get to try any!

I loved seeing people use our photo frame too!

Meanwhile, our photographers took some beautiful pictures of all our wedding reception details. Our florist Amy Wilkins brought these amazing rustic doors for us to use for the escort cards – I just love how they turned out!

And here’s the reception space – we worked with the wedding coordinator at the Wye River Conference Center and the florist to come up with this design. We used a mix of round tables and rectangular ones and had a whole mix of flowers for the centerpieces. We were going for sort of a garden theme, but I didn’t want anything too matchy-matchy. I love how it all turned out!

This super long rectangular table seated most of the bridal party and their dates, and it was really nice for me to have everyone together!

And Fabio and I got to enjoy a beautiful sweetheart table!

And check out this AMAZING dessert display – our florist Amy provided all the different tiered structures, our cute little dessert bites are from Peace of Cake, and the Wye River Conference Center people helped set everything up. I could NOT be more pleased with how it all turned out!!

Also since Fabio is allergic to shellfish but we wanted to include crabs in our wedding since we were on the Eastern Shore, we included some adorable crab sugar cookies on the dessert display!

So cute, right? We also had a bunch of to-go cardboard boxes for our guests so people could take these treats back to their rooms after the wedding. 🙂

I mean, I clearly love treats, so this was the perfect dessert option for me. 🙂

And then we had a small vanilla buttercream cake to cut!

I think everything came out so beautifully!

As the sun started to set, Fabio and I snuck away for a few husband and wife portraits. I love how these came out too!

My hubby!

After that, it was time to party! Next recap will be the reception!

Question of the day: Cake at weddings or other treats?

 Posted by on December 15, 2017
Dec 082017
 

Hello there! As I mentioned last week, I’m trying to get all my wedding recap posts up before the end of the year, which means I need to keep chugging along! If you missed any of my last recaps, you can find them here.

And, as usual, here are my vendor notes:

  • Florist: Monteray Farms (Amy Wilkins was truly amazing to work with – wait until you see what she did for our dessert table and escort cards! If you have an Eastern Shore wedding, I would totally recommend her!)
  • Photography: Lauren Nievod (I’ve already raved about her a ton of times – 100% recommend)
  • Venue: Wye River Conference Center (amazing Eastern Shore/riverfront hotel with beautiful grounds. Can only be booked by groups, meaning our guests took up the whole thing)

And now, it’s time for the ceremony!

When I saw the ceremony space decorated for the first time, I think my jaw dropped. It was everything I had envisioned and more.

We chose to get married in the Cherry Grove of the Wye River Conference Center, which is a beautiful garden area with two big cherry trees (they looked almost like weeping willows) on both sides. This was perfect because it provided shade for our guests on an early summer day.

Amy Wilkins from Monteray Farms totally knocked it out of the park when it came to our flowers – I’m not much of a flower person so I didn’t know the names of the flowers I wanted, but she took my inspiration pictures from Pinterest and ran with it. In the end, I was so, so pleased with how everything came out.

I borrowed the white shepherds’ hooks from my friend Megan, and to save money, the mason jars used in the ceremony were repurposed as part of the centerpieces in the reception as well. My amazing stepdad built the awesome arch (trellis? what is this called?) that you see below, and now it’s residing at my mom’s house when you enter their garden!

The flowers surrounding the arch are probably my favorite part of the whole thing. How beautiful are these?!

Here’s a close-up of the mason jar flowers, as well as a peek at our program! (FYI – I bought my program fan design – as well as the table numbers and escort cards – from this Etsy store and had everything printed at Kinkos. My amazing family helped assemble the fans with popsicle sticks the weekend before the wedding.)

Originally we were planning to have our DJ take care of the music for the ceremony, but as a wedding gift, my stepsister Maggie sprung for a violinist. YES! This was something I didn’t budget for initially but decided I really wanted once it got closer to the big day. She is so sweet for doing this!

Instead of having her play traditional classic wedding music, we wanted to go a little more modern. Here are the songs we I chose, which I thought came out perfectly.

  • Prelude music (general classical)
  • Mothers/Grandmothers: Meditation from Thais
  • Bridesmaids/Bridal Party (including Junior bridesmaid and flower girl): I’m Yours
  • Bride: Can’t Help Falling in Love
  • Recessional: Marry You

While all these photos were being taken, the bridal party was gathered in the library room of the house, and I think we were all feeling pretty jittery and nervous. Specifically, I was thinking about the long walk through the grass and hoping I wouldn’t trip. I was wearing sandals under my dress so I wasn’t worried about tripping in heels, but all the same it was a long way to walk with lots of eyeballs on me. I was happy that my dad would be there so I could hold his arm just in case. 🙂

Eventually it was time to line up and start walking down the aisle. My grandparents and the moms went first (escorted by some of Fabio’s cousins and close family friends).

I love this one of my mom and stepdad. 🙂

My Grandma and Fabio’s cousin, Fabio Andres. (My Grandma thought it was crazy that with Fabio’s dad, we had three Fabios at the wedding!)

And then the boys made their way down!

Our two close family friends Lee and Dan are both priests, so they both officiated our wedding. It was so nice to have people close to us helping us tie the knot!

Then it was time for the ladies! I know I said it in my last recap, but I just love how their dresses turned out. They look like princesses!

At the end of the line were my maids of honor, junior bridesmaid (with Jack!) and flower girl.

Jack totally stole the show, and we could hear everyone laughing as my sister walked him down the aisle.

I also have to say how beautiful/adorable my sister looked this day. She’s growing up so fast! <3

P.S. – I heard that our photographer got on the ground to take this shot. She’s the best!

And here’s the flower girl! 🙂

I think she was mesmerized by Jack walking in front of her. 🙂

During all of this, my dad and I were waiting in the smaller garden up by the library. It was surreal watching everyone I loved so much walk down in front of me, and eventually only my dad and I were left.

I remember feeling worried about not knowing when it would be our turn to walk down the aisle – our cue was supposed to be when the violinist switched songs, but it was a bit hard to hear her from so far away. There were also a bunch of cows mooing near where we were, which made us laugh and broke up the nerves a bit. Finally we heard the music change, and then it was our turn!

My whole life I have been SUCH a Daddy’s girl – probably because we spent a lot of time just the two of us when I was growing up. I was so happy to have him there by my side on this important day.

I’m glad the photographer remembered to get a picture of Fabio’s face as came down the aisle – I was busy smiling at our guests and totally forgot to look until I was almost all the way down!

At this point Sofia, our flower girl, realized she had forgotten to throw down her rose petals, so she did it really quickly before we got to the end of the aisle. It made everyone laugh!

Then it was time for my dad to give me away!

There was an awkward moment when Fabio and my dad weren’t sure if they were supposed to shake hands or what. Everyone laughed!

Then Sofia threw some more flower petals (lol) and then the ceremony began!

I love these photos that the photographer got – she really captured the beauty of everything. You can really see the blue and green dresses here!

And Jack!

Fabio and I both love personalized, unique ceremonies, so we did our best to add our own touch to everything. First, we had some special vows to honor our parents. This was important to me because I wanted to make sure my stepdad and stepmom felt included.

We also had Fabio’s aunt Clara read a poem (that she wrote!) in Spanish, and my Aunt CC also gave a reading.

Then our family friend/priest, Dan, gave the most beautiful and personal homily that included special anecdotes about our relationship. Since he knows us pretty well, he was able to speak to us as a couple on a personal level, which was so, so nice.

He also had a trick up his sleeve – he asked everyone to bow their heads and say a prayer, and then he asked the moms to read their prayers aloud. Little did I know they both had beautiful prayers written out for us!

Then he handed us the mike and told us to say what we had been praying – um, what? Truthfully, I had been thinking about how happy I was and how I liked that I could hear some cows mooing, and I thought about a few other “to-dos” I had to take care of once the ceremony was over. Not much real “praying.”

But Fabio and I both were able to pull together something meaningful to say, and I think we got out of this situation pretty well. In the end, I’m glad Dan included this little surprise for us. 🙂

He also kept tying everything back to baseball and “home plate” during his homily (since Fabio is such a huge baseball fan) and at the end, he pulled out this amazing home plate that he had made for us! So, so sweet!

After that, we exchanged rings, prayed, and then we were married!

You may kiss the bride!

And with that, we were married!

Clearly I was happy. 🙂

Then we all headed back up the aisle for cocktail hour.

And we started out our new life as Mr. & Mrs.!

Question of the day: Do you get emotional at weddings?

I usually do, but I didn’t get too emotional during ours. I was more emotional before the first look!

 Posted by on December 8, 2017
Dec 052017
 

Hello, hello! How is your week going so far? As I mentioned on Thursday, Fabio and I had a really, really fun weekend in New York City. Like, really fun. I have a lot to share with you guys, so I’m splitting my weekend recap into two posts! Here’s part one…

Thursday

On Thursday morning, I headed up to New York City via Amtrak, and once I arrived, I spent a few hours working remotely from Aunt CC and Uncle Steve’s apartment on the Upper West Side. Fabio arrived around 4 p.m., and since he hadn’t eaten lunch he said he wanted to head out for a pizza “snack.” (One slice of NYC pizza is a snack to him, even though they are big slices!) I teased him because he had literally been in NYC for less than an hour and was already devouring pizza. Of course.

Then it was time to get ready for the Ad Council Awards Gala! For those who aren’t familiar with the Ad Council, it’s an organization that makes public service announcements (PSAs) for a variety of good causes. I’ve worked with them to make a type 2 diabetes prevention PSA, which is how I got invited to their annual awards dinner. It’s black tie and kind of a big deal – 1,500 people were there and there was even a Saturday Night Live skit about the dinner a few weeks ago.

I was lucky enough to have Fabio join me for the event, especially since tickets at the normal rate cost $3,000. Wow!

When we arrived, we spent the first hour or so at a cocktail hour hosted by Google!

I was excited to see our Type 2 Diabetes Prevention campaign on some signage throughout the room. 🙂

Very cool!

While we were getting drinks, we wound up meeting a woman from Twitter, who actually works with one of Fabio’s fraternity brothers! It was great meeting her and networking a bit, and funny how the world is so small and you run into people with shared connections everywhere.

Once we took our seats, I got to meet some of the people who I’ve worked with for the last year or so on our PSA. It was nice meeting them in person after so many email exchanges and conference calls!

Then the presentations began, and I have to admit I totally drank the Ad Council Koolaid. Ad Council’s slogan is “Together for Good” and they’re all about making a difference in the world. Through the presentations, they honored the CEO of Unilever – who apparently has done a lot of great work with corporate social responsibility and helping those in need – and then showcased a few of their PSA campaigns.

Here’s a sampling of the types of people we heard from: A woman who survived the Pulse nightclub shooting and talked about survivors’ guilt; a young woman who was in the foster care system until age 14 when she was finally adopted, who then started her own nonprofit to make welcome kits for newly adopted kids; and a woman who had trouble feeding her family, and when she got back on her feet she started volunteering at a food bank. That’s not even all of the presentations, but it gives you a sense of the kinds of stories we heard.

I was especially impressed with the CEO of Ad Council, Lisa Sherman, who talked about how we were all there to make a difference in the world and if we work together, we can create change. Yep – totally drank the Koolaid here.

After the dinner, it was time for the after-party, which was sponsored by Facebook! There was a really fun band with a trumpet player, and then a really fantastic DJ who played every song I would have requested to hear. Fabio and I made some friends on the dance floor, and I wound up dancing with a really flamboyant new friend. 😉 As one does.

At the end of the night, the DJ closed out the dance floor by playing All I Want for Christmas Is You, and for some reason, everyone stormed the stage and started singing into the (thankfully turned off) microphones. Somehow I wound up right next to the Ad Council CEO Lisa Sherman during this, and totally fan-girled out about being next to her.

Once the dancing was over, I saw her by the coat check and told her how inspired I was by her speech. I think we were both a bit tipsy – open bars will do that – but I thought we had a nice little conversation. What a fun night! 🙂

Friday

The next day, Fabio and I headed out for a fun NYC adventure! (With an itinerary suggested by Uncle Steve, of course.)

First up, we hopped on the subway and got out at Hudson Yards, a brand new station in Manhattan where they’re building a ton of new skyscrapers. The station was really beautiful and featured lots of awe-inspiring mosaics on the ceilings. I can’t even imagine how long it took someone to put all those little tiles up there.

Then we walked over to the Highline where we were able to get a great view of Hudson Yards. All of these buildings are built on top of where they store the subway trains, and each one had tons of people working on them. There were lots of cranes and little elevator things moving all around!

It will be so interesting to see what this area turns into once they’re done with the construction.

Then we continued walking along the Highline and took in the cool sites of the city. 🙂

It was a beautiful day for a walk, and we didn’t feel too chilly as long as we stayed in the sunshine.

Eventually Fabio’s best friend Hayden met up with us, and we wandered around Chelsea market.

We popped into a bunch of stores, including a pop-up Etsy store with a bunch of different vendors. I wound up buying myself a pair of really pretty earrings and could have easily left with a bunch of other gifts. Everything was so nice!

Eventually we got hungry for lunch and stopped for some delicious tacos.

Yummmm.

Plus some mini donuts to share for dessert!

After Chelsea Market, the three of us headed to The Standard beer garden for some mid-afternoon drinks and a few games of ping pong for the boys.

After sitting around and chatting for a while, the boys headed back to Hayden’s apartment and I met up with my best friend Bianca for a girls’ night out!

She came into the city from Port Authority, so we met up at the nearby Heartland Brewery for some beers and sandwiches.

After dinner, we walked around a bit until we found another cute bar (can’t remember the name!) and we spent a few more hours catching up. Having girl time with my best friend was so, so nice, and it made me wish we still lived close to each other.

I was back at Aunt CC and Uncle Steve’s place by around 12:30 and instantly fell asleep. I was exhausted! Fabio came home quite a bit later (he and Hayden stayed out at the bars until 4 a.m….) and then we both were happy we were able to sleep in a bit on Saturday. 🙂

Part two coming later this week!

Questions of the day: How often do you get one-on-one time with your best friend? Have you heard of the Ad Council?

 Posted by on December 5, 2017
Nov 272017
 

Hi there! For my American friends, I hope you had a nice and relaxing Thanksgiving! Ours was one of the best yet, mostly because we got to spend so much time with family. I have a ton of pictures to share, so I’ll try to keep things short when it comes to my descriptions! Here we go…

Wednesday

I took the day off from work on Wednesday so I could get busy in the kitchen! Some of you may have seen from my Instagram stories, but I had a whole bunch of recipes I had to make on Wednesday. Fabio was working remotely, so we had a fun day at home together! I started cooking around 10 a.m., and didn’t finish until around 4. Phew!

First up, I made apple crisp from my favorite Cook’s Illustrated cookbook. Fabio’s sister Diane is trying to limit dairy consumption right now, so I used vegan butter in this recipe to make it dairy-free.

After lots of peeling and coring and apple-cooking, it was done!

Then I made Bon Appetit’s best macaroni and cheese after hearing about it on their Foodcast podcast.

It required lots and lots of cheese shredding. 🙂

Eventually it was done and was looking gooooood. I tasted some of the cheese sauce – it was totally a winner. Definitely make this one!

Then I made Tina’s tater tot breakfast casserole to enjoy while watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade (one of my favorite things to do on Thanksgiving!). I added some sausage to the recipe for a bit more protein.

Done!

After finishing each recipe, I would take a break to clean this dishes. This was a pain in the butt, but it kept our kitchen from turning into a big mess!

And last but not least, I made some roasted carrots with honey and herbs from my new Southern Living Christmas 2017 cookbook that Aunt CC got me.

I made a couple of tweaks to make sure this one was dairy-free for Diane too.

And with that, I was done. Phew!

After that I had a tiny bit of work to do, and then got myself ready to head out for the long weekend ahead. We packed up the car and drove over to my dad’s house, where we enjoyed a nice dinner with my dad and sister.

After dinner, Fabio and I met up with some of my high school friends at Butler’s Orchard, a farm that a couple friends of ours own.

Sadly our friend Ben who owns the farm was out of town on his honeymoon, but we got to know his brother and catch up with a bunch of my high school friends instead. One of my best friends, Hana, was also there, and it was so great catching up with her!

We even played a bunch of games of flip cup, and Fabio wound up winning it for our team in a one-on-one tie-breaker! Go Fabio!

We also enjoyed some apple cider donuts…

…which we toasted over the fire to warm up. 🙂 Who needs marshmallows?

Ha!

Thursday

We woke up at my dad’s house on Thanksgiving morning, and I immediately headed downstairs to watch the parade with my sister!

I don’t know if it’s just because it’s tradition or what, but I really enjoy watching the parade on Thanksgiving.

While we watched, we enjoyed coffee, mimosas, and the tater tot casserole I brought! It came out delicious – yumm.

Eventually it was time for us to head out since we would be eating our Thanksgiving meal at Fabio’s sister Diane’s house outside of Baltimore. When we arrived, we instantly became obsessed with this little turkey!

Our nephew Michael is three months old, and we could not get enough of him. He’s so smiley and happy with the sweetest disposition – we were obsessed.

At around 4:00, Alex’s (who is my brother-in-law/Diane’s husband) family arrived and it was time to eat!

Alex’s family is a lot of fun and so welcoming, and I wish we got to see them more than just on Thanksgiving! We went around the table saying what we were each thankful for, and pretty much everyone mentioned baby Michael. 🙂 It was such a special Thanksgiving!

Later that evening we played a few board games and continued playing with baby Michael.

We also kept the alcohol flowing which made all of us wake up with a headache, but it was worth it for such a fun night with family! 😉

Friday

On Friday, Fabio’s family joined us at my mom and stepdad’s house for another Thanksgiving feast! My mom and stepdad were enamored with Michael right from the beginning.

Don’t get any ideas mom – Fabio and I still have a few years of traveling in us before we’re ready for this stage. 😉

Either way, it was really fun to share Michael’s cuteness with my family as well.

Once we sat down to eat, we ate the best Thanksgiving meal yet. I ate a lot of good food this weekend, but nothing beats my mom’s cooking. Ahh it was so good! We also dug into this bottle of wine we got as a wedding present for our first Thanksgiving!

Saturday

On Saturday we headed over to my grandparents’ house!

It was a beautiful day with relatively warm temperatures. We tried to do Christmassy things, but it sure didn’t feel much like Christmas!

While my dad, grandpa, and Fabio went out to play golf, my sister, grandma, and I painted some Christmas ornaments and decorated wreaths.

It was a lot of fun, and I was so happy I got to spend some time with my grandparents over the long weekend. We stayed for dinner and then drove back home.

Sunday

Sunday was spent mostly relaxing – which now seems like it was very necessary after thinking back about all we did over the last few days – but in the afternoon we cleaned up the house and put away our fall decorations to make room for Christmas ones.

We still need to get our tree, which we’ll probably do next week.

So there you have it – a recap of our fun Thanksgiving holiday!

Question of the day: How far do you travel far for Thanksgiving?

 Posted by on November 27, 2017
Nov 162017
 

Hi friends! Happy “Friday Eve” to you! 🙂 I had some random fun things I wanted to share with you all today, so I thought I’d list them out here in a Favorite Things style. Feel free to leave a comment below with some of the things you’re loving lately!

Favorite Happy Hour

Last week, the kind folks from the new 13|U luxury apartment building in D.C. invited me to bring some friends along to their grand opening. They were hosting a rooftop cocktail reception in conjunction with The Smith, a delicious restaurant that will be opening in Spring 2018 on the first floor of the building. (I’ve actually been to The Smith in NYC, and it’s fantastic!) Also, how crazy is it that The Smith will be in the building?

After work, Fabio and I joined our friends Jason, Courtney, and Kevin for a somewhat drizzly happy hour on the roof of the building. Though the weather wasn’t great, the building had some amazingly strong heat lamps for us to stand next to. It was worth it for this view!

I enjoyed one of the signature drinks – a fun bourbon concoction – and ate all the passed hors d’ouvres. 🙂 Everything tasted fantastic!

I think Fabio ate at least 6 of those little mushroom tacos shown above. Ha!

As for the building itself, it was incredible! As soon as we walked in the door I realized why it was called a “luxury” apartment building. Wow.

Check out the bathroom stall on the rooftop. High ceilings, marble everywhere, you get the idea.

All in all it was a really fun night, and I have to thank The Smith and JBG Smith for hosting us!

Favorite Read

If any of you have checked out my Books Page (which, oops, definitely needs to be updated), then you may know that Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth and World Without End are two of my most favorite books EVER. When Anne mentioned to me that the latest book in this “series” (they’re not really a series, but take place in the same setting at different time periods), Column of Fire, was available, I immediately purchased a copy on Amazon. (Note: I almost always read from my Kindle, but I decided this one was worth buying.)

I just started the book on Sunday, and I’m already through a good chunk of it! It’s so good – I can’t put it down!

Favorite Browse

My mom, Aunt CC, and I all love cookbooks, and we are all especially fond of the Southern Living Christmas collection cookbooks. So imagine my surprise when I received a package in the mail earlier this week with the 2017 book!

It turns out Aunt CC had mailed a copy to both my mom and me, and I’m SO looking forward to going through it. I’m planning to curl up with it on Sunday and flag some recipes that I’ll want to make during the holidays, and I’m way too excited about it. Thanks, CC!!

Favorite Upcoming “Race”

On Saturday morning, Fabio, Jack, and I will all be running the third annual VIDA-Thrive 5K Run/Walk at East Potomac Park. VIDA is donating 100 percent of race proceeds to Thrive DC – a local non-profit organization committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the DC area. VIDA kindly invited me to attend (and gave both Fabio and me a free bib!), and I was thrilled to learn that there will be special heats and prizes for dogs, as well as treats and a doggie station. Yes! It’s been a long time since we’ve run a 5K (though not that long since Jack and I have run 3 miles), so we’ll see how we do! We definitely aren’t planning to race it – especially since Jack will be with us and I’m sure a few other pups will be there – but I’m really excited about it! Registration is available here. I hope to see some of you out there!

Favorite Mix-It-Up Workouts

You guys have probably noticed that I’m all about the bootcamps lately – with a few spin classes, runs, and yoga classes here and there – but this week I mixed it up with two different workouts!

First, my work was holding a free Zumba class at the Sport & Health gym in our building.

I’ve taken a Zumba class before but it’s been years, and it was really fun! I still don’t think it’s that great of a workout for me – I worked up a sweat but just barely – but it was a lot of fun. I do love to dance, so I’ll have to incorporate this more often!

This week I also took a pilates reformer class with my friend Kathleen at District Pilates! They invited us both in to try it out, which was super nice of them.

Again, I had taken a reformer class before but not in years, and I really liked it! I found it pretty difficult since it’s so different from the workouts I usually do and worked a totally different set of muscles, but I could definitely see it as being a good workout to throw in now an again. It’s always good to switch things up!

The class itself was really good too, and I liked the instructor a lot. I would definitely go back!

Favorite Recent Purchases

When we were in downtown Frederick this past weekend, I picked up a few cute items from Relish Decor. (Also, I was OBSESSED with everything in that entire store!! I want to go back around the holidays to pick up some gifts for people!)

First, I got this adorable spoon rest for the stove.

Isn’t that so cute?!

And I also picked up this adorable black lab mug, which I’m now keeping at work! It’s perfect! 🙂

And there you have it – a few items that have been making me smile lately!

I hope you have a great Thursday!

Question of the day: What’s one thing that made you smile this week?

 Posted by on November 16, 2017
Nov 102017
 

Hi friends! I’m back today with another wedding recap – this time with some photos of our morning getting ready! If you missed any of my past wedding weekend recaps, you can find them all here. When we last left off, I had just had a fun morning doing yoga, going on a boat ride, and enjoying breakfast with our guests. After that, it was time to get ready for the big day!

Before we get started with today’s post, I want to share some notes about the vendors we used who helped make this special day possible, and whose work you’ll see in the photos below:

  • Makeup: Kristen Sepulveda (Kristen is a family friend, and she did a fabulous job!)
  • Hair: Up Dos for I Dos (Very professional and I loved the work they did! Some of the best up-dos I’ve ever seen!)
  • Photography: Lauren Nievod (I’ve already raved about her a ton of times – 100% recommend)
  • Venue: Wye River Conference Center (amazing Eastern Shore/riverfront hotel with beautiful grounds. Can only be booked by groups, meaning our guests took up the whole thing)

And now, let’s jump right in!

The venue where we got married has two main houses: the River House, which is where the rehearsal dinner and yoga/breakfast took place, and the Houghton House, which is where the ceremony and reception took place. Houghton House is also where the beautiful bridal suite was located!

On the morning of my wedding, all 10 of my bridesmaids – plus my sister, niece, my mom, Fabio’s mom, Aunt CC, and my Grandma – joined us in the bridal suite to start getting ready at 10 a.m.

My bridesmaids did a great job of setting up the room with cute decorations, mimosas, and a killer playlist. That’s what bridesmaids are for, right?!

We had a pretty detailed schedule for makeup since some people wanted airbrush/lashes and some didn’t, and after about half an hour of me constantly checking the schedule, my bridesmaids took it from me and said they’d take care of making sure everyone was in the right order. They’re the best, and allowed me to relax and enjoy this special moment!

P.S. I love how my hair turned out – you can see the back of it in this photo below!

My makeup turned out great too – all thanks to our talented makeup artist, Kristen!

Spending these hours with my closest girlfriends and family members was so much fun – it was a great way to think about the day ahead and just enjoy this time. Plus, how cute does everyone look in these matching PJ sets I got them? (The moms/my aunt/my grandma got robe versions, and I even got kid-sized versions for my flower girl and the junior bridesmaid!)

My Maid of Honor Bianca was never far from my side, and she made sure to hydrate me with Pedialyte to make sure I was feeling my best. After enjoying some late-night drinks the night before, I definitely appreciated this! 😉

It was really fun having my family in the room too – my mom, Aunt CC, and my grandma all got to enjoy this time together, which I thought was really special.

Our little fam! (Also, can you tell which of these pics are iPhone pics versus the professional ones? Ha!)

My sister – who was a very important junior bridesmaid 🙂 – was also never far from my side while we were getting ready. I think the wedding wound up being a bigger deal for us than either of us expected, and I was so touched by how close she stayed to me throughout the whole weekend. Even though we are so far apart in age and didn’t spend much time growing up together in the same house, she’s still my sister and so special to me!

Jack was with us in the bridal suite too – at least until one of the groomsmen came up to take him down to the room where the boys were getting ready. 🙂

While I finished getting my hair and makeup done, our photographer took some detailed shots with our invitations, save the dates, and jewelry. They came out so pretty!

This ring was my “something borrowed” and “something blue” – it’s the ring my dad gave my mom on the day I was born. I thought it added a nice sentimental touch!

Once I was done getting ready, all of us ladies got together for some group pictures!

We even stepped outside onto the balcony – but only once the photographer confirmed none of the boys were around to see us. 🙂

 

Then it was time for me to open up the gift that Fabio had given me and read his card. It’s so funny because as I was reading his card, I realized we wrote almost the exact same thing to each other. I guess that’s how you know it’s meant to be!

The gift itself was a pair of the most beautiful diamond stud earrings, which I’ve worn almost every day since the wedding. They’re gorgeous!

All the ladies gathered around to check them out. 🙂

Meanwhile, Fabio and the groomsmen were down in the library room getting ready themselves! Fabio helped Jack put on his cute tie. (Jack was the ring-bearer!)

This picture – LOL!!

Then Fabio opened up his card and gift from me, with Jack’s help (obviously).

I wound up getting him a refurbished Rolex watch, with a note reminding him not to be late! 🙂

He was a huge fan of the watch, and proudly shows it off to anyone who will look at it. 🙂

Then he spent some time getting ready with his groomsmen and drinking a nice bottle of whiskey he bought for them!

While all of that was happening downstairs, I slipped into my dress and had my mom and Aunt CC help me with all the buttons on the back.

It took a bit of time with all those buttons, but they got the job done. What would I do without them?!

Then I took a couple of pictures with my friends, and put my veil on.

My grandma helped arrange it perfectly over my shoulders for some pictures.

Then I grabbed my bouquet, and before I knew it was time to head downstairs to meet up with Fabio for the first look!

It was at this moment that I first started to feel emotional – I felt all the love and support of my friends and my family upstairs, and I felt like I was leaving that little caccoon to start a new journey. I know that when my dad walked me down the aisle and “gave me away” that was really the moment I should have felt like I was being given away, but saying goodbye to my mom as she stayed upstairs and I walked on by myself to Fabio felt like a pretty big moment too. I was ready for this – of course – but it did leave me feeling pretty emotional.

And for the rest, you’ll have to wait for my next recap! 🙂

Question of the day: How emotional do you get at weddings?

 Posted by on November 10, 2017
Sep 292017
 

On Wednesday this week, I celebrated my 28th birthday! It was a really perfect day, and it started off with an awesome sweat session with Anne and her friend Kath at SweatBox!

I’d heard about SweatBox a few months ago from someone else who had tried it out, and I was immediately intrigued! Then when a PR rep emailed me last week about trying a class, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. Sign me up! It didn’t hurt that I’d be trying the class on my birthday either. 🙂

SweatBox is located on U Street in the same building as the VIDA gym (you can even use VIDA’s showers!). The format of the class is very unique – the space is split up into different “boxes,” each of which has its own spin bike, weights, and TRX.

You are able to complete the whole workout without ever leaving your box, which is great because you don’t waste time moving from one station to another or swapping out equipment. You also wear heart rate monitors for the workout and get to see your stats on the screen, which is always a big motivator for me.

We wound up completing a whole bunch of different circuits that incorporated sprints on the bike, jumping lunges, chest presses, bicep curls, burpees, and more. It was definitely a full body workout! I really liked the music too.

I really enjoyed SweatBox and thought it was a perfect way to kick off my birthday. 🙂

The rest of my morning was fairly uneventful (I had my free Starbucks coffee and enjoyed some cottage cheese + blueberries at my desk) and then around 11 a.m. my phone rang. The receptionist told me she had some Georgetown cupcakes for me at the front desk, which naturally sent me scurrying from my seat to retrieve them. It turns out they were from Fabio!! I have the best husband. 🙂

I waited until after lunch time to open them up, at which point I enjoyed a chocolate one with vanilla cream cheese frosting and set aside a chocolate peanut butter one to take home.

I put the rest of the cupcakes on the shared countertop in my office so the rest of my team could enjoy them, and they were gone in minutes. They were a huge hit!

A little while later my phone rang again, and this time it was flowers!

These were from my amazing best friend, Bianca! They are so beautiful and the lilies smell especially great. Everyone who walks past my desk comments on them!

Then – and I think I got a bit annoying at this point – my phone rang a third time, this time with an edible arrangement from my dad! I think the receptionist was ready to kill me. 🙂

I shared these with my team too, so even people who missed out on the cupcakes were able to enjoy some sugary birthday treats.

At the end of the day, my coworkers surprised me with a card and a gift certificate to SweetGreen! They know me so well. 🙂

I had such a great day at work, and everyone kept coming over to wish me a happy birthday and comment on all my goodies. 🙂 I know I’m incredibly lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life!

When I got home, I had a package from Aunt CC and Uncle Steve! Inside was a gift certificate to Lululemon and a beautiful Kate Spade necklace. Woohoo! Thank you, CC and Steve!

Then after walking Jack, Fabio poured me a glass of wine and we sat on the couch chatting for a while before it was time for a birthday celebration dinner.

I knew Fabio had made reservations somewhere but didn’t know where we were headed. When it was time to leave, we hopped in the car and headed to…Filomena! I’d only been to Filomena once a very long time ago, and even then I’d only been for happy hour and hadn’t had a chance to enjoy their famous handmade pasta. Fabio and I both love Italian food, so it was a perfect choice! Good thing he made a reservation too – it was packed! But we had a nice little table for two to ourselves.

We started our meal with some bread and a bottle of wine, and then placed our orders before it was time for me to open my card. It had glitter and puppies on the front, so obviously he picked a good one. 🙂

Inside there were two tickets to see the Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center in November! I always love “experience” gifts, and I was really excited about this one. I can’t wait!!

Soon our appetizer of fried mozzarella arrived…

…and then my entree came! I got one of the specials which was a kind of pasta/sweet Italian sausage roll-up, and it was SO good!

Everything was delicious (so fresh! so flavorful!) but there was so. much. food.

We both wound up with leftovers and I was too full to even order any birthday dessert. That’s how you KNOW I was full!

Before we left, our waiter brought over some amaro and sambuca to enjoy, along with some coffee beans for flavor (as if a bottle of wine wasn’t enough! Plus since Fabio drove I drank my fair share for sure. Oof!).

Fabio and I had such a wonderful evening talking, laughing, and enjoying the delicious food and drinks. What a perfect birthday dinner!

We even grabbed a photo with some of the Halloween decor on our way out. 🙂

When we got home I spent some time tinkering around downstairs, and just when I was about to head upstairs Fabio pulled out the cupcake that I had brought home from work earlier with a lit candle on top. He then proceeded to sing happy birthday to me in the kitchen. 🙂

I don’t know how, but he seriously caught me off guard with this – I feel like one minute I was talking to him about something and the next he had already sneakily gotten the candle and lighter from the drawer, opened the fridge, put the candle on the cupcake, and lit it. Maybe the wine had something to do with how surprised I was by this?

Either way, it was super cute and spontaneous, and I love that he thought to do this. (Even though both of us were too full to eat the cupcake – we wound up putting it back in the fridge! Ha!).

Overall it was the absolute perfect birthday, and I wouldn’t have asked for anything different. It was very clear to me that I have so many wonderful people in my life, and I went to bed feeling so thankful for all of them. <3

Question of the day: Experience gifts or regular gifts?

 Posted by on September 29, 2017
Sep 262017
 

Fabio and I got home from New York at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, meaning there wasn’t much time for me to sit at the computer and get a blog post together. That was ok though because we had one of the most memorable weekends in a long time!

A while back, I planned a weekend trip with my high school besties–Bianca, Hana, and Sam–to see Bianca’s new(ish) apartment in New Jersey. Bianca got an apartment with her boyfriend Pasqualle (aka, Sqalls!) a while back, and she was looking forward to having us come up for a visit.

She had told us she had a great view of the city, and she wasn’t kidding! This was the view we saw when we woke up in their apartment on Saturday morning (after having driven up after work on Friday):

So amazing, right?

When we woke up, Bianca immediately got to work making us scrambled eggs, bacon, turkey sausage, and toasted English muffins. What a great hostess! Meanwhile, I sipped hot coffee with pumpkin spice creamer and took in the views. The city is so pretty!

At around this point, Fabio and I realized we were looking right across at the Upper West Side, which is where Aunt CC and Uncle Steve live. We were pretty sure they were in Otis for the weekend since they spent most of their weekends up there, but we sent them a quick text letting them know we were waving across the river toward their apartment.

Imagine our surprise when we got a text back from them saying they were in the city waving back! (CC sent me this picture, which made me LOL.)

When we got these texts we were right in the middle of figuring out our plans for the day, and we thought we’d head to downtown NYC to a newish area called Seaport for their Oktoberfest celebration. We asked CC and Steve if they wanted to join us, and they said yes!! Woohoo!!

As soon as breakfast was over, we got ourselves cleaned up and headed out for a fun day! Here I am with my hubby right outside of Bianca and Squalls’ apartment. Do you think they get tired of this view?

To get into the city, we took the ferry across which was perfect since it was such a nice day.

From there we hopped on the subway, and we met up with Hana as soon as we got off. High school besties reunited!

The Seaport area was really cute with lots of fun-looking restaurants and bars lining a cobblestone street. Apparently this is a relatively new area in the city and was all redone recently. It was adorable!

After walking around for a little while, we arrived at Pier 15 for Oktoberfest! It was pretty crowded, but since we had gotten there relatively early we were able to snag an area right by the water. It was a gorgeous day to be on the water!

And after we were there for about 15 minutes, CC and Steve got there!! Woohoo!! I have the best aunt and uncle. 🙂

We then proceeded to spend the next couple hours chatting, drinking beer, eating pretzels, and enjoying the sunshine and beautiful scenery. It was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time – so many of my favorite people were in one place!

Me & Bianca! Ha!!

The boys <3

And our whole group!

Overall we just had such a fun time, and I was especially grateful that CC and Steve came to hang out with us. 🙂

We decided to forgo the whole ferry –> subway situation on the way home in favor of a $75 uber. Hey, it was worth it when split between 5 people!!

When we arrived back at Bianca and Squalls’ place, we got ready for a fun evening! This weekend also served as a housewarming of sorts for Bianca and Squalls, and we got to meet a bunch of their friends!

Sam and I were beer pong partners, and I’m happy to report we won every game all night! Wooo! Power team!

We even beat Fabio and his best friend Hayden who came in from the city with Hana. They are famously good at beer pong, so it was pretty satisfying to beat them. Twice. 🙂

After that, we headed out to the bars in Jersey City and Hoboken for a little!

It was just SUCH a fun day with so many people I love. That day will definitely be one I remember and look back on for years to come!

Sadly Fabio and I had to leave on Sunday morning, but before we drove back home we got to see a lot of his family at his cousin’s baby shower in Long Island. We hadn’t seen most of them since the wedding, so it was a lot of fun catching up with everyone. And of course, I loved seeing my niece Sofia! 🙂

We got stuck in #allthetraffic on the way back home and didn’t make it back until pretty late, but, as I said, it was SO worth it! 🙂

Question of the day: What do you like to eat on road trips?

Fabio and I got Chick-Fil-A on our way up to New York, and it was SO good!

 Posted by on September 26, 2017