New Year, Semi-Resolution

I usually believe in resolutions. I enjoy the feeling of a clean slate and the opportunity to right your wrongs. Feng your shui. Purge your closet, your basement, your life. In fact, I still have the "draft" saved in my gmail account that I started last January where I started to document 3 goals I wanted to accomplish each month because I thought that was more attainable than setting goals for the whole year. January read, "transition Ronan to his crib, make it to yoga at least once a week, find 20-30 minutes for myself every day and finish a book." All of these are highlighted in yellow because I had a good momentum in the beginning, as most do. However, there is only one goal highlighted in yellow during February and I can tell you it WASN'T "launch my blog and post once a week." Launched, yes - Posted once a week, no. Not even close. As I type this, I notice I haven't posted since December 11th and as disappointing as it can feel, it's just my reality right now and that realization of where I am in this moment is the driving force behind my semi resolution for 2019.

Instead of picking a bunch of areas to improve on, I really have more of a broad goal that applies to so many facets of my life. I would just like to try and appreciate each day for exactly what it is. I've always been a person who thrives on looking forward to things, anticipating the future and imagining what could be. Plus, as parents, I feel like we get stuck in the calendar. We're always looking so far forward to find our next moment of happiness (a glass of wine when they finally sleep), relief from life (our next vacation) or anticipation of the next big milestone (in our current case, fear of climbing out of the crib). But this year, I hope to think smaller. Focus on this very day, this hour, this minute, this second. Find optimism and joy in the routine and the mundane. Since becoming a Mother, I find that I am wound very tightly all the time. I lash out at my husband when I'm stressed, rub my temples, curse under my breath and feel short on patience, all more than I should. I lose my cool when I trip over a toy on the floor (why are there ALWAYS things on the floor? Just sayin') and get anxious over the the inevitable mess. I raise my voice when he gives his food to the dog or tries to scale the gates. I don't like even typing these things out but I'd be lying if I said they didn't happen and I think most Mom's can identify. But as trying as it can be to balance it all, I know that this is it and there's no time to waste on negativity.

It may feel like nothing is changing every time you turn down the covers at night but it is, however slow it may be. My son is now 17 months old in what feels like the blink of an eye and he is flourishing. He will be in school before I know it and I will look back on the best days when we were home together, him eating breakfast in his pajamas and me, eating his cold leftovers an hour later. It may not be glamorous and it certainly isn't easy. I may not create blog content as often as I'd like or make it to the yoga studio as much as I used to. But I am where I should be RIGHT NOW and it's perfect for exactly what it is. It's exhausting to dwell on the missed shots so I would like to find gratitude in all of the plays in between - the assists, the passes down court and the occasional slam dunk. Our life is beautiful on the good, bad and in-between days so here's a semi-resolution to simply just remember that, all year long.

How do you feel about resolutions this year? 
Do you set goals and intentions? I'd love to hear :) 

Easy Weeknight Dinners with Meez Meals

So many things have changed since we became parents - Almost all of them for the better but let's be honest, your normal routine kind of falls by the wayside once a baby arrives and this includes any semblance of healthy eating. Before becoming a Mom, I considered myself a pretty healthy eater - I regularly ate salads, quinoa, breakfast smoothies, protein, heart-healthy fats, you name it. I have a  sweet tooth but I exercised regularly and did a decent job of staying on track.

But, NOW - Now, everything has changed. It's the typical Mom situation, where I basically finish my son's leftovers at home (typically chicken tender bites or mac and cheese - so cliche, right?!) and end up snacking on anything that's quick because if I'm lacking in anything, it's time. Unfortunately, dinners usually aren't that much better. By the time my husband and/or I get home, it's a rush to make dinner for all of us, play with Ronan and get his bedtime routine done on time. I've come to enjoy cooking from scratch but it takes time to find the recipe we want to make, make a trip to the store and then stand in the kitchen chopping veggies - this is NOT reality, guys...especially with a 16 month old running around and full time job. 

So, we keep the fridge and freezer stocked with things that are easy to make: Pasta with sausage, burgers, chicken tenders, sweet potato fries, etc. These things aren't necessarily "unhealthy" but our dinners certainly aren't as nice as it used to be when we had the time to spend cooking an extensive, homemade meal and furthermore, actually sit down to enjoy it. 

This is precisely why I was SUPER excited to partner up with Meez Meals!

Do you guys know about them? I know there are so many different meal services, it can be hard to keep track but this one is nice because it's a little smaller than the others (they deliver to 9 different states), has awesome weekly menus and really DOES make it that quick and easy to cook. It is definitely my favorite service BY FAR because Meez Meals delivers everything you need to make delicious dinners from scratch which means the onions are diced, the spices are measured and all you have to do is put it all together, which is the fun part.

Here's a few reasons why I love it so far:

  • Personal delivery: A messenger brings an eco-friendly cooler to your door at the time you choose
  • There's NO subscriptions! You just get the meals you choose, whenever you want them!
  • You can set your ingredient preferences: Gluten-free, vegan, allergies - They will cater to it all.
  • No Surprises: You can check out the cooking instructions and nutritional information before you order, so you get meals just right for your family. They even include tips to lighten up recipes and rate the meals from easy to more complicated.
  • Low cost per serving: The larger the meals, the lower the cost per serving. It's value that’s family-and-entertaining-friendly.

So far, we have tried two meals and LOVED them both! Both of them were full of flavor and each unique which was nice because we got to experience tastes and combinations we wouldn't have otherwise. To give you an idea of what the recipe and instructions are like, here's what came with both of our meals:

Sweet Potato, Kale & Rice Bowl with Peanut Sauce

This was probably my favorite out of the two because I love all types of "bowls." Any rice/noodle/veggie/meat/sauce combo is great in my book and the ingredients in this one are perfect for cozy Winter nights, plus it's jam packed of healthy ingredients. I could've eaten the peanut butter sauce with a spoon and this was my first time trying tofu. I don't think it had much of a taste but it added nice texture to the bowl. Plus, I enjoy sweet potato everything (hello waffle fries!) And P.S. It even got my picky toddler to try a vegetable - I'll take it! 

Pecan Maple Salmon

This meal was EQUALLY delicious! If you asked my husband, he would confirm how many times I brought up the maple flavor and pecan topping while we were eating. I've never eaten salmon with such a rich flavor and now I feel like I never want to have it any other way, Plus, it had been a while since we roasted brussel sprouts, and MAN, I forgot how good they are. It was SO nice that the brussels were already cut up and ready to be seasoned/cooked. This meal took LESS than 20 minutes to get on the table and we felt really good when we were done - Nothing processed, just simple, healthy and homemade. 

We have two more months of meals coming up and I'm already getting antsy to try them! I always look at the weekly menu and I want to try EVERYTHING! Oh, and I've saved the best part for last...

50% off YOUR first order: Use code Kait50p at checkout

I hope you will try it and love it as much as I do. I think the best part is you don't feel any pressure if you want to try it - You don't have to remember to cancel the next week and you won't get any annoying emails about your subscription. You can just order as often (or not) as you want to. 

I will continue to share our meals on Instagram so make sure to follow me there! If you try it, let me know what you think!


24 hours in San Fran

One morning in May when my husband and I woke up, the first words out of his mouth were: "I booked us flights to San Francisco last night. I got a really good deal so we're just going for 1 night in September." 

- - -

First reaction) Thrilled. Second Reaction) Wait, what?! Third Reaction) Small detail...What about our son?

My husband has done this multiple times before. Let it be known, he does NOT spend money on frivolous items, basically ever, but when he comes across a cheap flight or vacation, he does not hesitate. In years past, we've gone to New York for the day around Christmastime (doing every touristy thing imagine in under 12 hours!) and he also booked our trip to Ireland without much discussion, deciding the price was too good to pass up and it was a don't miss opportunity. We both share a passion for traveling so when he decides to book a trip on a whim, there are no complaints.

Luckily, in this case, my amazing parents were willing to take Ro from Sat-Sun so we could enjoy a quick weekend getaway in wine country and by the bay. In addition to his last minute booking skills, Mike is also an expert trip planner with the great ability to narrow down the most important things to see, no matter how short a visit and in doing so, the teacher in him definitely comes out. He made a google doc of all the things we could do both days, down to the minute and plan b's in case something didn't work out.

Wine Tasting in Napa Valley

Quick background story: We were planning to catch the bus for our Napa Valley tour almost immediately after arriving in San Fran but our flight from Chicago was delayed about an hour and a half Saturday morning so we missed the shuttle that takes you to the wineries. We debated just skipping it and falling back on our plan b for the day but decided it was worth it to get there since we would make it for most of the tour, so we raced to jump in an Uber. A 4 hour plane ride, hour and a half car ride (and 100 something dollars later), we were finally at the Robert Mondavi Winery - Guess new-ish parents will do anything for a kid-free day filled with wine. P.S., we hadn't eaten anything (or had any water) since 8am and it was now 2:00 when we arrived, with wine being handed to us left and right, so I was sure we were going to be down for the count, but surprisingly, we handled it like champs and it felt so good to finally be there.

Robert Mondavi was a great experience and the perfect introduction to Napa because it felt very classic. The winery was established in 1966 with a vision to create Napa Valley wines that would stand in the company in the company of the world's finest. The vineyard (actually located in Oakville, CA) is known for production of some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the world which we can vouch for being completely accurate. I'm more of a Pinot Noir gal but we both loved their cab and enjoyed learning about their vineyards, the (very long and intense!) fermentation process and feeling like wine snobs for a day instead of just sticking to our usual Trader Joes/Aldi purchases ;) There are so many details you don't think about, like how long the wine ages in wood barrels (years!) and how a REALLY good wine has a REALLY good cork (not the synthetic kind that breaks when you use a corkscrew - too often that's the kind we end up with at home, lol). 

One of my favorite things that we learned that day? Once all of the juice has been squeezed from the grapes in their vats, the skins are still left over and it is literally someones job to get in a wet suit, dive into the tank and flush out all of the skins. Why didn't someone tell me it was ACTUALLY possible to swim in a vat of wine?! 🍷 Mental note: Switch careers.

After our Mondavi tour, we finally got to jump on the shuttle with the rest of our tour to head to what was actually my favorite stop of the day, the Oakville Grocery. The store was founded in 1881 and is the oldest continually operating grocery store in California and not only was it the absolute CUTEST shop but I ordered one of the best sandwiches of my life, true story. That's saying a lot because I've eaten more sandwiches in my life than anyone you probably know but it was a turkey pesto combo on rosemary focaccia and not to mention, I hadn't eaten in 8-ish hours so it tasted particularly amazing. We loved walking around the store, looking at all of their delicious goodies and products from local artisans and foodies including everything from cookies to jams and specialty cheeses. I could have sat there all day, ordering coffee and munching on their tasty snacks. I love tiny places like this with history and I will definitely have to bring my Mom back one day!

Once we had something to eat, we got our second wind and we felt ready to take on the second winery, Liana Estates. This place was the complete opposite of Mondavi, as it was established in 2016 so it was fairly new, off the beaten path and much trendier with a rustic wood finishes, a bocce pit out front and cupcake pairings on the menu. They specialize in different white varieties and even though I much prefer reds, I enjoyed quite a few of the white tastings because they were unique. we did the "Bay Breeze" tasting and I fell in love with their sparkling brut - I would've gladly taken that pour on repeat and also enjoyed the Orange Muscat. Our tasting host was so engaging and knowledgeable, giving us the rundown on how the winery started and what made each wine so different. She was a pleasure to talk to and really rounded out the experience for us.

The tour overall was so much fun and we owe part of that to the tour company themselves, as our driver and guide for the day was exceptional. She's actually from the suburbs of Chicago and spent many Summers in Lake Geneva so we had a lot to talk about which made the long drive back to San Francisco fly by. She also went out of her way to drive us up to a lookout point so we could get out and take pictures of the sun setting over the Golden Gate Bridge. She kept commenting on how it was extraordinarily beautiful that afternoon and how lucky we were to be seeing everything lit up in this way. It really was the perfect storm of everything coming together at just the right time. There's really nowhere to park up there since it's so packed with tourists so we literally ran along the coast while she was circling, snapped our photos and ran alongside the tour bus to meet up with her and hop back on. Wine + photo taking, this was my ideal day, guys!

Muir Woods Tour

Sunday, we got up early, enjoyed multiple rounds of our hotel's continental breakfast (literally the reason we CHOSE the place...who doesn't love a free meal?) and headed out for Muir Woods. I was very excited about this part of our weekend because I had visited the redwoods with the Family during our California trip when I was 9-ish years old so it was great to be able to come back and appreciate it in a mature way this time around. Before we started our main journey, the tour drove through downtown San Fran and then dropped us off at another perfect photo taking spot near the Golden Gate Bridge. The sun was shining and the waves were crashing and it was all just right.

After a few snapshots near the Full House bridge (you're all thinking it, right?) we were on our way to the woods. The main attraction of Muir Woods are the coastal redwood (Sequoia) trees which are known for their height, and are related to the giant sequoia of the Sierra Nevada. While redwoods can grow to nearly 380 feet, the tallest tree in the Muir Woods is 258 feet and they are SO SO beautiful, especially when you are standing directly underneath the towering trunks, looking up at their seemingly never ending branches. 

Our tour guide dropped us off at the entrance to the monument and from there, we had 2 hours to explore on our own. We ended up choosing the longest path because we wanted to see everything we could and every step was more gorgeous and better smelling than the last. That's the thing about the outdoors - You couldn't bottle up the smell if you tried and there's nothing like it. We were in awe of the sequoia's, especially knowing how long most of them had been planted there and unchanged, despite mother nature's storms.

We learned a lot of background about the monument which was really interesting. In the early 20th century, William Kent, a rising California politician his wife purchased 611 acres of land from the Tamalpais Land and Water Company for $45,000 with the goal of protecting the redwoods and the mountain above them. In 1908, Theodore Roosevelt declared this land a National Monument, the first to be created from land donated by a private individual. The original suggested name of the monument was the Kent Monument but Kent insisted the monument be named after naturalist John Muir, whose environmental campaigns helped to establish the National Park systemIn 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was completed and park attendance tripled, reaching over 180,000. Today, the park sees up to 6,000 visitors PER! DAY!

After Muir Woods, our tour guide dropped us off in Sausalito for lunch and exploring. Unfortunately, we had an early evening flight to catch so we couldn't spend as much time here as we wanted but we made the most of it by grabbing lunch at an adorable deli and eating by the water before taking the ferry back to San Francisco. I loved looking at all the houseboats - Can you imagine? Such a different way of living from those of us in the Midwest. We also passed by SO MANY places to eat, shop and grab coffee in Sausalito which gave me a bit of FOMO but we will have to come back and just dedicate an entire day or weekend to sight seeing in this area. The ferry back to town was just as beautiful as every other minute of the day. We rode right by Alcatraz and had a great view of the skyline the whole way. It was the perfect ending to a spontaneous, San Fran weekend.

Quick Link Guide of a few things we loved on our visit!

Napa Valley Tour: Great Pacific Tour Company
Redwood Tour: Extranomical Tours
Saturday Dinner: 54 Mint  - This place was so cute and located right behind our hotel! We were EXHAUSTED by dinner time on Saturday so this was the perfect place because it was a quiet little Italian joint and we just sat at the bar and enjoyed some delicious pasta and sparkling water.
Sunday Lunch: Venice Gourmet Delicatessen & Pizzeria: Family-owned and operated Mediterranean-style marketplace established in 1969. Great for a quick bite and again, one of the most delicious sandwiches I've ever had (I went with the Sausalito Turkey).

- - -

How do you feel about quick weekend trips? As parents of a toddler, I think it's the easiest way to fit in some time by yourselves because it's long enough that we feel refreshed but short enough that we don't miss him too much (and he doesn't drive the Grandparents completely insane!) I look forward to our next one, whatever it may be...

Have any recommendations? Let me know!


How I (Try to) Balance Work and Motherhood

"I would say the hardest part about being a mother who works from home is that you are expected and feel the pressure to fulfill two roles to the fullest: a full-time employee and a mother (thinking of a SAHM). Finding the balance is hard and just because you have the option to do both things from the same place doesn’t magically help you create more hours in the day." Source

I remember going to classes in college that were a part of my "Gender & Women's Studies" minor, discussing and writing about feminism and thinking ahead to when I would eventually become a Mom. I always knew I would battle an internal struggle, feeling torn between having my job (or at least some sort of work I was passionate about), and being fully dedicated to raising children at home because that's what my Mom did and I loved every second of her being with me.

The thing is, I've always wanted to "have it all" in many different respects: See the world but be a homebody. Practice a healthy lifestyle but indulge in ice cream. Have close access to a downtown area yet live a small town lifestyle. Live near my Family but move to the mountains one day. For me, it just seems like there's a constant push and pull to try everything and BE everything. Now that I have been a Mom for a year and then some, I still struggle with these things but over time I think we've found a healthy balance of it "all."

A Little Bit of Background...

I've never shared much about my job much on the blog (Sisters Marie OR here) because I've always felt they were separate entities but I have worked there for 9 years now so it really is a significant part of my life and a big reason I'm allowed to lead both of the "lives" I want. I am the Director of Marketing at Katherine Frank Creative, a Family-owned boutique design agency who specializes in custom trade show displays, temporary and permanent installs and signage/graphics. We are a team of just under 20 so it's a small (but mighty) force and over the years, my co-workers have become a second Family to me. It sounds strange to say but the owners moonlight as a third set of parents in a way and they are two of the people I most admire. I have also made some lifelong best friends, one in particular who is my "call at 3am with anything" person and I know will grow old alongside me, while we quote OC episodes well into our 70's 😂

2 of my longtime co-workers and our babies, all born within a year of each other

When I started here as an intern, I never expected to be here almost 10 years later but I'm of the mindset that a lot of things happen for a reason. The company is very supportive of a work-life balance and generously agreed to letting me work from home a few days a week after Ro was born. As my maternity leave came to an end, I was having a very hard time with the thought of leaving him and missing all of the milestone moments as he grew up so I am very thankful they trusted and respected me enough to create a new schedule that would benefit us both.

Our Weekly Routine

I work two full days in the office and three part-time days at home. While there are days where it would definitely be easier to be one place over the other, this is working for us right now in this stage of our lives. My parents take care of Ro when I'm in the office and we are endlessly appreciative of everything they do for us. He feels so comfortable at their house and I feel equally safe knowing he is in the best hands. Daycare was never a consideration for us - It's a personal decision and it was mostly based on the fact that I wanted Ro to be taken care of by someone close to us. He is making memories with his Grandparents, which is a blessing and a privilege.

My 3 work from home days are a luxury but certainly are not easy. Even though I'm working half-days, there are a lot of moments where deadlines come into play so I am juggling graphic design files and keeping Ronan from climbing on our toilet at the same time. When he was a newborn, it was much easier to schedule conference calls and work on our loft computer because he wasn't mobile and slept - a lot. Now, these things require some extra prep, whether it's loading up a few Daniel Tiger's from our DVR (this is survival, my friends), or crossing fingers that he's either napping or eating lunch in his high chair at this time, which is basically the only 2 ways he is contained and quiet. 

It can be very stressful - some days, I just count the minutes he goes to bed and I can turn my brain off for a little while. He is extremely inquisitive and busy, more-so than I expected him to be at this age so a lot of my energy goes towards trying to keep him out of trouble (aka from opening the gate to the basement, pulling things down from the counter, trying to climb in the oven --> Yes, SERIOUSLY!) all while answering emails, finishing up marketing blast designs and trying to find a moment to eat/breathe.

On the OTHER hand, I am very grateful of the part-time schedule at home because it still allows us to have some special time together which we make the most of. This Summer, we were at the park almost every day and on extra warm days, we enjoyed the water table on our deck or hit up a local splash pad. Now that it's getting cooler, we spend a lot of time at the library (checking out/returning books) and playing in their kids area, as well as enjoying morning music class with Tiny Toes and becoming official members of the Dupage Children's Museum which by the way, is going to be super helpful on freezing Winter days when going outside isn't an option and we're feeling cooped up in the house.

Now that you know a bit more about our weekly schedule, I wanted to share a few tips that I find helpful when it comes to balancing working from home and watching a baby/toddler:

Wake Up Earlier

I know, I know, we're already beyond tired so the thought of getting up early can seem repulsive but sometimes, it makes all the difference. If I wake up an hour or two before Ro gets up, I'm amazed at how much work I can get done in so little time without interruptions. Sometimes, I will have sent an entire morning's worth of emails before my co-workers even get in the office and it makes me feel ahead of the game. Not to mention, some quiet time to yourself in the morning isn't bad at all, especially because you can sip your coffee and eat something in peace! 

Make the MOST of Nap Time

Naps are a work from home Mom's dream! Ro is still napping twice a day (usually) and both of them happen on a pretty regular schedule so I know exactly when they will happen and can plan out the most important things on my to-do list around these moments of quiet. Whether you have a kid who sleeps for 40 minutes (like mine sometimes does!) or 3 hours, learn how to utilize every minute of this time to finish assignments that require your complete focus and concentration. Most days, I don't even shower until 8:30 or 9pm, when I've gotten my work done and my son is asleep and I have time to breathe. It's not ideal (after all, pillow air dried hair isn't always pretty) but it just comes down to a matter of prioritizing. 

Expect Chaos

It's just inevitable that you will run into unexpected interruptions or sh*t show moments while trying to work and take care of a tiny human being at the same time. For example, there have been a few conference calls scheduled when Ro has a sudden diaper blowout or decides now is the perfect time to learn to crawl on top of our toilet and try to touch the light switches. These moments my friends are what the mute button is for! I try to spare my co-workers and/or clients as much background noise as possible so by muting until it's my turn to speak. This way, I can be actively listening and keep it professional at the same time. I just try to be prepared for anything to happen and have solutions for said situations that can be useful in a pinch.

Keep the Kid(s) Entertained 

      Easier said than done, right? I know. Ro is only 14 months old so he isn't quite ready to entertain himself just yet but I have found that if I dedicate a little time to getting him started with something, he may continue playing after I walk away, even if it's for 10 or 15 minutes. I consider those blocks of time to be good progress in his independent play and sometimes, it's just the amount of time I need to answer emails. In addition to his bin of toys in our Family room (which is where I'm often stationed with my laptop), we keep a box of books readily available, which I rotate regularly, a few Montessori activities (shape sorters, stackers) and as much as it pains my pre-parent self, we have a lot of his favorite shows DVR'd because he really enjoys them and they can often buy us an extra few minutes. 

Even though most days I'm exhausted and falling asleep with a book on my face in bed, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. My son is only going to be little for so long and I love that we get to spend this time together. It's also nice to have something that is my own, a job where the work is interesting, the people are great and the balance is respected. 

Mom's: What is your Family/Work balance like? 
Whether you are a full-time SAHM, career woman or both, how do you manage each role? 
I'd love to hear from you guys!


Life Lately: Easing into Fall

The first days of Fall are hard to beat. The air feels crisp but it's warm in the sun and everything smells so fresh, especially up north. Summer in Lake Geneva will always be the time when I feel most alive but there's a sense of calm when the leaves start to change and you can smell the wood burning of a neighbor's fire. Our recent Family weekend at the lake was the perfect kick off to the new season...

We ordered breakfast from the tiny convenience store down the street and ate it outside on the patio in sweatshirts and blankets. We walked around the neighborhood under the most amazing blue sky with not a single cloud. My parents hosted our first ever "Fall Fest," (in place of our usual 4th of July event), complete with cherry & apple brats, Oktoberfest beers, golf cart rides and pumpkin decorating. We put on our pajamas at 6 o'clock one night and snacked on leftovers and poured champagne. Ro and I spent a warm afternoon at the park followed by a snack at my favorite coffee shop. Mike and I checked out an open house down the street and fell in love, as we do almost every time we look. FYI - we're not actually hoping to move, it's just something we've come to love doing on weekends - It's great for gathering ideas and it's fun to imagine different scenarios that could play out in the future. We ate until our pants no longer fit...everything from my Mom's DIY nacho bar to the taffy apple salad was quintessential Fall and we didn't want to miss any part of it. 


If we're being totally honest, I spent most of this weekend in sweatshirts, overalls and leggings but I did manage to spend one day looking like a real human by putting on a swipe of bright lipstick and taking this new denim skirt for a ride, which btw, I now want to wear on a daily basis. I usually have trouble finding skirts that are just the right length - Either they're too short for going out in public or too long for being 31 years old but this one is high-rise and still fits just right. It's got frayed edges and I love pairing it with long sleeves or sweaters & booties so I will be doing that as much as possible in the next few weeks while I can still get away with bare legs. On another note, I'm not into all of the Fall trends (not too keen on the wide leg denim just yet), but I AM happy that belt bags (aka, fanny packs!) are having a moment because they're actually so much fun. I love this leather one from J. Jill - like, it might be the cutest one I've seen but I own the iPhone 8+ which is massive and unfortunately, doesn't fit in the bag so if I'm wearing this, I usually stick my phone in my back pocket or the diaper bag. 

Since my style was this weekend was mostly cozy chic, I reached for this open front cardi quite a bit. It's textured and runs fairly long so it's awesome for pairing with leggings on cold mornings and I've been wearing it daily for early walks with Ro and the dog but it was also a nice addition to this skirt/blouse combo.

We have so many fun things coming up, I can't wait to recap it all including a mini trip to San Fran (baby free!), the pumpkin farm, dinner with good friends and planning Ro's first trick or treat outing!

How are you enjoying the first week(s) of Fall? 


A Coloradical Weekend

We recently got home from a long weekend in Colorado and to say we’re still thinking about it often would be an understatement. We may or may not be over here researching home prices on Zillow (far fetched, but fun nevertheless) and reminiscing about our favorite parts via our shared photo albums. The reason for the trip revolved around my cousin getting married in Golden but CO has always been on our visit list so we were excited to extend the trip a bit, especially since my immediate (and extended) Family was coming with. 

My Family (8 of us) stayed in an adorable Air B&B which was one of the MOST fun parts of the trip. The house was a perfect setup because we all had our own rooms and there were multiple common areas where we would gather throughout the day including a sitting area with a fireplace, the kitchen island, downstairs game area and outdoor patio, which was my personal favorite. The white lights turned on at dusk so we would make a frozen pizza and enjoy a late night snack while discussing/recapping the days. 

It was the first time we left Ro for any extended length of time and because of this, the months leading up to our trip definitely stressed me out. I changed my mind 100x about this, debating whether he should come with or not but as hard was it was to leave him, there were so many reasons why it was better for him to stay home in the loving care of his Grandparents, because there were so many parts of this trip that weren't toddler friendly. I missed him terribly but I MUST admit, after the first FaceTime where I got to see how much fun he was having, I was able to relax a little and from there, the rest of our responsibility-free time felt very rewarding. It was a great reminder of how important it is have time together, not spent discussing sleep schedules or diaper changes and just acting like ships passing in the night. For a few days, we weren’t Mom and Dad...just best friends on an adventure, hiking in the mountains and dancing at the wedding and it felt felt deserved.

Speaking of those mountains, our Friday spent at Rocky Mountain National Park was one of the best days we have ever spent together and just happens to be #1 on the list of my favorite things we did on our trip...

  1. Hiking the Rocky Mountains
bear lake

My husband did a lot of research and narrowed down the best things to see in the limited amount of time we had. He planned a down-to-the minute- itinerary for the weekend and first on the list was hiking Rocky Mountain National Park, which was one of our bucket list items. Since we were staying in Golden, I was a little discouraged by the fact that we would be in the car for a total of 3 hours this day (getting there and back) but there wasn't going to be another opportunity to do this for a while so even though we were tired from getting in late the night before, we woke early, made pb sandwiches for the car and hit the road.

The drive from Golden to Estes Park was beautiful, making the distance seem so short. We parked at the visitors center and from there, took a shuttle to the trail head at the park, at which time you have multiple different options for trails, depending on what you're hoping to see. We were debating between Emerald Lake and Mills like, seeming like we couldn't go wrong with either one, but we were running on a time clock due to evening activities so we chose the shorter path to Emerald Lake. But don't let that fool you - shorter does NOT mean it feels short because so much of it was up and down, nor does it seem less difficult because even though we consider ourselves to be semi-in shape, it was a challenge and required multiple granola/water/sit breaks. The altitude was hard to adjust to but stopping along the way helped us catch our breath. One of the best parts of this path is that on the way to your final destination, you get to pass three other GORGEOUS alpine lakes including Bear Lake, Nymph Lake and Dream Lake, all which offer great views of the rocky peaks including Flattop Mountain, Hallett Peak and Glacier Gorge.

nymph lake

I am not exaggerating when I say that about approx. 7 minutes into our hike, my husband turned to me and said, "I think this is one the best things I've ever done." We were both completely taken aback by the unspoiled beauty surrounding us, each step and view being better than the last. I couldn't get over how wonderful the trees looked, stacked to the sky in the mountains, making for a gorgeous green and blue backdrop. The air smelled and FELT so clean and there were few clouds in the sky.

emerald lake

emerald lake

Emerald was absolutely breathtaking and worth every step it took to get there - Once we arrived, we climbed to the highest point of the mountain and sat down for a while in silence, trying to let it sink in. It was a surreal experience, the kind that makes you appreciate everything you have. Though this was an amazing moment, my husband and I both agree that Dream Lake (the one prior to reaching Emerald) was our favorite. We crossed a wooden bridge to reach its clearing and once we came upon it, our mouths were hanging open. I have never seen trees like this - Again with the trees, I know! But I was truly stunned and so happy in this moment.

Not to mention, it felt so good to spend this time alone with Mike. As parents of a one year old, our time together is dedicated to him 95% of our awake hours, so to be this secluded, in a quiet, serene place with just each other to talk to, was a break we were both in need of...We were able to feel like our pre-baby selves for a bit.

We can't wait to come back the this park. We actually tried to devise a plan to hike it again on the last day we were in Colorado but there just wasn't enough time, so until we meet again...

dream lake

2. Seeing a Concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheater

Other than the wedding, this is the Family activity we were all looking most forward to. Luckily there was a fun show happening on the day we were in town (1964 - a Beatles Tribute) which was something we could all enjoy so we bought tickets pretty far in advance. I think I speak for all of us when I say it was even better than we imagined. As soon as Mike and I walked in the door from hiking Friday, it was time to leave for the Amphitheater so we changed faster than I ever have before in my life, I did my makeup in the car and we grabbed sausages and drinks at the venue (both of which were actually pretty good!).

We wanted to be there a few hours before the show started so we could watch the sun go down, because while the music is a bonus, the best part is the gorgeous red rock formations that line each side, complete with mountain views in the distance. The place gets prettier as the night goes on because the uplighting highlights the rocks and makes the entire space feel like it's glowing. The whole evening was just wonderful - The band sounded SO good and I like that it's not just another tribute band - They actually perform AS the Beatles, offering the experience you would have gotten when the real band performed more than 50 years ago. *Fun fact - The Red Rocks Theater is one of just TWO places left standing in the US where the real Beatles actually performed. Cool, right?

Side note: Prior to even planning our trip here, I had read about Red Rocks Yoga and thought, could there possibly be ANY better place to practice? Downward dog on the rocks during sun up? This is a must for future trips and now that I've been there, it has moved even higher up in the ranks so I look forward to crossing that one off someday.

red rocks theater

3. Spending the Day in Breckenridge

Our (very well-thought-out and color coded 😂) itinerary had a few different options for our last day in Colorado and waking up still tired from the AMAZING wedding the night before, we were unsure of what route we wanted to go. Everyone had different things they wanted to see so we decided to split up and half of the Family went to Golden State Park for a Hike (see some of Lisa's pictures here, so beautiful!) while the rest of us made the drive to Breckenridge, per the recommendation from some of our Family who lives in the state. I am SO glad we went because it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip. Though the town is known for its ski resort and alpine activities, we had such a fun time exploring Main Street, looking at all of the colorfully painted buildings from the 1880's, checking out the shops and eating our way through town. By the way, our drive TO Breckenridge was awesome in and of itself! It is amazing views the entire way from Golden and it made me think how much more I would appreciate road trips if all of them at home were this good. 

drive to breckenridge

It was 90 degrees when we left Golden that morning so we all arrived in tank tops and shorts. As soon as we pulled into town, we noticed everyone in long pants, hoodies and some even in winter coats. We had driven about 50 minutes and in that time, the temperature had dropped about 30 degrees! We didn't really think about this possibility ahead of time (Guess we forgot where we were!) but this was the perfect excuse to buy our trip souvenirs, "Breck" hoodies! By the way, that's actually how everyone refers to the town - At first, we thought it was more of a joke, mocking it in many of our conversations but the more places we went, the more realized that it's a real thing and it made us laugh. 

Breckenridge is about 10,000 feet above sea level and I would say this is the part of the weekend where I noticed the altitude change the most. All 4 of us experienced difficulties at point or another on this day, even just walking down the street. You don't realize how much it can affect you but it's quite a change of pace from us coming from flat Illinois so we just took sit breaks whenever we needed to. Sit and eat breaks I should say... we had lunch on the patio at the Kenosha Steakhouse which was delicious. It was sunny when we sat down but actually rained multiple times during our lunch, which was a frequent occurrence in general throughout the weekend. It's funny how we were questioning running inside while everyone else just continued eating their meals and having  their conversation...they are used to it, no doubt. 

We all enjoyed being able to try local craft beers everywhere we went (there are SO many choices) and one of my favorite parts about the town was how many coffee shops there were...MY PERSONAL HEAVEN! Every 5 feet or so, there was another opportunity for a coffee, pastry, ice cream or lunch. Yes, I can definitely see myself here ;) 

Other Details:
  • My cousin's wedding was held at Mount Vernon Canyon Club in Golden which was one of the coolest venues I've ever seen. The ceremony was held on the outdoor terrace which was covered in white lights and overlooked the mountains, so when it was time for the sun to go down, it felt pretty magical. Mike and I made sure to steal a few beers (and kisses!) out there during the night. They served Voodoo Donuts which are some of the best we've ever tasted and kept the party going all night thanks to the guests and wedding party members who traveled all the way from Germany - Those guys know how to rage for sure. Congrats again Amy & Tobi! 💓

voodoo donuts
  • Mike, my Dad and I ventured to Boulder on Saturday morning for lunch and a little exploring. We checked out Chautauqua Park first which seemed like the ideal way to start a weekend morning - There were so many young 20 and 30-somethings (many presumably hailing from CU Boulder) getting ready to hike with their friends/dogs which I would do every Saturday if I lived there. Imagine that and then heading into the downtown area where there is literally an opportunity to drink, eat and shop at the cutest places every 2 feet - That is everything I live for in a weekend. We grabbed lunch here and sampled some of the delicious local brews, walked up and down the promenade area and grabbed iced lattes for the road home.
 our coffee stop!

chautauqua park trails

  • And just ONE last shoutout to our house because I think I miss that the most. I'm sure any house would have provided us with great memories, it was just being able to wake up and have breakfast together, go on our adventures and meet up in the evening to tell stories until it got late and we realized we had to get up and do it all over again the next day. Doesn't get better than that!

Thank you for checking out my recap!
We are counting the days until we can return.

Have you been to Colorado? What were your favorite spots to visit? 
I will add them to our list for next time!

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