Monday, February 8, 2016

Visit with Pop Pop

What a treat! Pop Pop came to visit. It was so nice to get to spend some one-on-one time with my dad. It was a really quick trip, but we tried to pack in as much fun as we could. Here are some highlights:

Making Pizza
I love how interested in food and cooking Zahara is. It is so fun to watch her knead the dough, taste test the sauce and spread on the toppings. 

Ice Skating
We headed to downtown Silver Spring to check out the farmer's market, the fantastic new library, and the outdoor skating rink. This was so much fun. Dan, dad, and Z took to the rink and had a blast. I've never seen this before, but the ice skating rink had a penguin that Zahara could lean on to help her stand and skate on her own. She still needed some help, but this tool made it much easier for her to glide around. Dad liked it too :)


Being Silly
We spent lots of time reading, playing, jumping, and showing off our new "magic trick." I have no idea where she got this from, but lately Zahara runs up to the arm chair, says, "Presenting Zahara and her magic trick," climbs up and then jumps off the chair. So weird. So funny.

It was a great visit and we can't wait to see you again, Pop Pop!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Things I Love: Skechers Snow Boots

As you know, we were hit with a huge snow storm (Snowzilla!). I had a terrible realization two days before the storm that I had no appropriate shoes to wear in the snow. All I had were sneakers or leather boots. Neither of which are good options for more than 2 feet of snow. So I turned to my best friend Amazon to find some good boots.

Dan and I signed up for a 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, and it really, really came in handy. I ordered these Skechers Performance Women's Go Walk City Winter Boots. It said they would arrive on Monday, which was just after the storm. Since it was Wednesday night when I ordered them, I couldn't realistically expect them to arrive any sooner than that.

But...the most amazing thing happened! I got a notice on Friday morning that my boots had arrived at the post office for sorting. The storm was scheduled to start around 1 pm, so I wanted to get my boots before then. My mail is not usually delivered until the end of the day, so I knew I couldn't wait for the postal truck to come to me.

I called the post office right away to ask if I could pick up my package before it went out for delivery. I was too late. It was already on the truck. So then I asked if they could tell me where the truck is and I'll go find it--on foot.

I'll let the story unfold through my Facebook posts:

At this point I've called the post office 2 more times and told them I'd come to them at 2:30 when the delivery trucks were scheduled to come back to the warehouse. Now, the depot is only a couple of blocks from me, but the snow had already started and remember, I don't have any snow boots. I was willing to go in my sneakers, but I didn't have very high hopes this was going to work out. And then...

That's right! I opened my front door and there they were! The USPS and Amazon Prime did it!! I got my boots just in time for the storm. And you know what? They are awesome! These boots are so comfortable and warm. I LOVE them!

All's well that ends well. #happyfeet #warmfeet #snowzilla

P.S. I have not been compensated for any part of this post. I just am really happy with how everything turned out and wanted to share it with you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Snowzilla 2016

Oh my gosh! We got SO MUCH SNOW!! Did you hear about Snowzilla? It was an enormous snow storm that hit the East Coast over the weekend. We had plenty of warning, so we were well-prepared. We had food, toilet paper, and warm clothes. All that we needed was the snow.

Snowzilla did not disappoint. In the days leading up to the storm, meteorologists were predicting up to 30 inches of snow. I worked from home on Friday, and Dan and Z came home around noon. Thank goodness, because the snow started soon after and didn't stop until Sunday morning!

All told, we got around 26 inches of snow! Though we had a good time playing in it on Saturday during the blizzard, Sunday was the best day. It stopped snowing and was pretty sunny, so we got to just enjoy the light, fluffy powder. 

Our neighborhood is the absolute best. We have so many kids around Zahara's age, and they all get along so well. A bunch of us trekked over to a hilly part of the 'hood to go sledding. It was really fun, and Zahara couldn't get enough, but as the snow was above my knees, it made it really hard to keep bringing her from the bottom of the hill back up to the top!

It was so much fun watching Z play in the snow. She loved it and did so much better than last year. This year she really could run and jump and throw snowballs. Hearing her giggle and shriek was all I needed. It was definitely a storm to remember!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Quick Trip to Philly

One of my favorite New Year's traditions is getting together with my college friend Dina; we've spent almost every New Year's together since 2004! True, some years we have had to be a bit creative with what "New Year's" really means, but we're generally within a week or so of the actual holiday. This year, we planned a quick girls' getaway to Philadelphia!

Dina is 32 weeks pregnant with her second child and was desperate for some relaxation. I understand the feeling completely. She's in New Jersey and I'm in DC, so Philly was the perfect solution. It's only around 2.5 hours from each of us. How have we not done this before?

I took the train up to meet Dina. This was such a treat. I sat in the quiet car with no one to entertain but myself! I read, I slept, I did nothing. It was amazing.

Alone in the quiet car!

Dina and I got a great deal at the Marriott in City Center. The hotel was really conveniently located to everything. It was nice to be able to walk everywhere we wanted to go. We each arrived around 11:30. As I was pulling up to the front of the hotel in my cab, I saw Dina standing outside waiting for me. I got out of the cab and ran up to her, giving her a big hug from behind. She turned around wasn't Dina!! Seriously! Thankfully the girl was really nice, but what a start to the trip.

Once I found the real Dina, we could start exploring. If you know me at all, you know that our first stop had to involve food. We wandered toward Rittenhouse Square and stumbled upon Capogiro gelataria. I've been here before and remembered how amazing the gelato was. I had to stop for a scoop. It was SO GOOD! I had chocolate peanut butter and banana flavors. Dina had dulce de leche. If you're in Philadelphia, I highly recommend stopping here.

After our pre-lunch snack, we headed for lunch at El Ray. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but I haven't had such flavorful Mexican food in a long time. If you're lucky enough to be there for brunch, don't miss the breakfast burrito.

We wandered around for a bit longer before our spa appointments. Dina had a prenatal massage and I got a manicure, pedicure, and hair cut. It was so indulgent. I felt like a new woman afterwards.

After a quick change of clothes, we headed to Tea Do for a pre-dinner drink. I am not very familiar with bubble tea, so I wasn't sure what to get. I asked the waitress what she drinks and ordered that: hot almond milk tea, 50% sugar, with tapioca pearls. I had no idea what to expect, but it was really, really good. 

Dinner at Morimoto did not disappoint. I had been there years ago with Dan and loved it. It is owned by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto (you know that show, right? I like the original, but Iron Chef America is pretty good too). I had the miso black cod with wasabi fried rice. Dina practically licked her 28-day aged steak off her plate. 

After a full day of eating and walking (and more eating!), we headed back to the hotel. Though it went way too quickly, this was exactly the trip I needed. It's always great getting to spend time with Dina. Next time I see her she'll be mom of two! Crazy!

See more New Year's celebrations with Dina:

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Caribbean Cruise Part 3: the Islands

As I mentioned here and here, Dan and I went on a kid-free cruise in October. It was absolutely amazing. One of the best parts of the cruise was the opportunity to explore the insanely gorgeous Caribbean waters in both St. Maarten and St. Kitts. 

The morning after our stop in Puerto Rico we landed in Philipsburg, St. Maarten. We took an all-day snorkeling and boating trip through Soualiga Tours. There were a few other couples on the small speedboat with us as we made our way around the island. We stopped in several locations throughout the day, including Pinel Island, Grand Case, and Tintemarre Island. We saw giant iguanas on white sandy beaches; floated in perfectly warm, clear water; ate lunch and drank pina coladas on the beach; snorkled with schools of needlefish; and saw turtles swimming next to our boat. I'd say it was a pretty good day.

I didn't think we would be able to top that experience, but the next day we went scuba diving in St. Maarten. I was so excited to be back underwater again. Neither Dan nor I are certified so we did a resort dive through Pro Divers. This was my fifth or sixth time diving, and Dan's second (see here for his first time). 

We had a great experience with Austen and his team. We dove in two separate locations, including over a natural hot water vent. We saw tons of great things including giant stingray. But the coolest things we saw were the Moray eels devouring a Lionfish that our guide had just speared. I had no idea that eels twist and turn their entire bodies into knots to break up their prey. Sadly, I didn't have an underwater camera, but here's a video that shows what it looks like.

This cruise was exactly what Dan and I needed. I came back feeling refreshed, relaxed, and excited to see my little girl. The best part is she had a fantastic time too, so no guilt! Win-win!

Read more about this cruise:
Eastern Caribbean Cruise, Part 1
Caribbean Cruise, Part 2: San Juan

Read about our other cruises here:
Baltic Cruise
Mediterranean Cruise 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Caribbean Cruise, Part 2: San Juan

As I first mentioned here, Dan and I went on a kid-free cruise to the Caribbean. It was amazing! Our first port of call was Puerto Rico--an island that neither Dan nor I have been to before. We only had a few hours in San Juan, but it was just enough taste to whet our appetite.

The view as we pulled into the harbor was fantastic. I loved seeing the fort, so strong and beautiful.

Dan made us a reservation at Marmalade, a very well-reviewed restaurant that books up a month in advance. We walked around Old Town before dinner, and though San Juan is beautiful, I can't even tell you how humid it was. It was really awful. Thankfully it rained while we were at the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, and it cleared up after that.

Did you know that the pina colada was invented in Puerto Rico? Obviously we had to test out the local fare. We did a quick taste test at two different bars, and the winner hands-down was the Parrot Club. It was delicious! What really set it over the edge was the toasted coconut and sprinkled cinnamon on top. It felt like a very grown-up version of the sweet drink.

Dinner was really fun. The chef came and talked to us for quite a long time, actually. He described the inspiration for his dishes, told us about his adventures living in Spain and England, explained that being a chef in a Michelin-star restaurant is a terrible experience (unless you're the executive chef), and gossiped about Anthony Bourdain. It was a very interesting conversation.

We headed back to the ship after dinner and got ready for our next adventures.

Read more about this cruise:
Eastern Caribbean Cruise, Part 1
Caribbean Cruise, Part 3: The Islands

Read about our other cruises here:
Baltic Cruise
Mediterranean Cruise 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Eastern Caribbean Cruise: Part 1

It's been a long time in the making, but Dan and I finally took an extended KID-FREE vacation! Sorry for yelling, but I am really, really excited about it! We dropped Zahara off with her wonderful, loving grandparents and headed to the Eastern Caribbean for a week.

We went on a seven-night cruise with Royal Caribbean International. We've cruised with them before and always have great experiences. This time was no exception. The Independence of the Seas was beautiful with a fun promenade featuring an English pub, a wine bar, a pizzeria, a coffeehouse, and more. I really loved the attention that was paid to each little detail: the weathered "wood" floors in the pub; the wine-stained corks in the wine bar; and the vintage car were fun examples.

One of the things we love the most about cruises is meeting new people. We've actually made some really good friends through our dinner table (see our adventures with Jeff and Steph here and here). We were pretty disappointed the first few nights when no one showed up at our dinner table. Thankfully, we were able to switch tables for the last half of the cruise and got paired with some fantastic ladies. They were a huge part of what made this trip so fun!

Lauren, Caroline, Kristina, and Lisa at dinner

It was like Dan and I somehow reverted to our fun, pre-kid self. Not that we're not fun now, but on the cruise we went clubbing until 4 a.m. one night! Can you believe that??

On the sea days we made the most of our new-found free time by lounging, drinking, eating, and working out. Pure bliss!

We even surfed on the FlowRider. It was so much fun! Dan, Kristina, and I all managed to stay up. Click here to see my surfing video.

I'll be back with highlights from our stops in Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, and Saint Kitts.

Read more about this cruise:
Caribbean Cruise, Part 2: San Juan
Caribbean Cruise, Part 3: The Islands

Read about our other cruises here:
Baltic Cruise
Mediterranean Cruise