St. Augustine Fun

Happy Saturday!

I wanted to share a super quick recap of my trip to St. Augustine, Florida a couple of weeks ago.

We went to St. Augustine for my stepsister’s birthday. It was such a fun getaway and it was so nice to be able to spend some quality time with the ladies in my family.

St. Augustine may seem kind of random (and it kind of was 😁) but we wanted to avoid a big spring break crowd (Mid-March in Florida), and still enjoy some warmer temps. This location worked best for the group (we were flying in from three different cities) and it was such a blast.

St. Augustine is the oldest city in the US, founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, and it has some amazing architecture and buildings that have survived through the centuries.

The trip was super relaxing. We enjoyed amazing food, drinks, conversation and Publix Key Lime Pie (if ya know, then ya know). I am going to share a few pics below.

These are mainly iPhone photos since my camera died on Day 1 and I forgot the charger 😫.

St. Augustine Light House:

Beautiful old southern live oak trees:

I just love these southern oaks. They look so majestic and the sunlight filters through so beautifully. Plus they just remind me of warmer weather and sunny days πŸ€—.

Boardwalk on the way to the beach in Anastasia State Park:

^ you can see the lighthouse in the distance here!

It was a perfect beach day. I cannot overstate how welcome even a little bit of sunshine is in the depths of a long winter. After this trip I vowed to do another warm weather trip next year!

Had to get a pic with my sista – we were matching in stripes (not planned).

We walked around and explored the historic area of St. Augustine:

^ Group shot! We also enjoyed a wonderful sunset harbor cruise. The captain was personable and informative and we saw dolphins playing 😁 .

We had brunch at a cute Mexican place that reminded me of Tulum. I had chilaquiles and the food was all phenomenal! Definitely recommend a stop here if you ever visit.

More tree pics 🀣:

^ the view from our lunch spot.

On our last day, we visited a local distillery and did a tour. It was very cool (although that tour guides were somewhat bizarre- think SNL sketch within a Distillery). We learned that they source all of their ingredients, materials, and workforce locally. Their alcohol was pretty tasty too, and we got to sample four different drinks. For more information check out their website here: St. Augustine Distillery

We also visited a cute art gallery. One of my favorite souvenirs to get is a piece of artwork from the city I am visiting. This trip was no different and I purchased a beautiful print. I will share it once I get it framed.

All in all, this trip was amazing and so relaxing. It was nice to spend time with family and reconnect. Hope you enjoyed the pics, and if you’re looking for a cute, easy weekend trip, St. Augustine is a perfect option!

Powder Room Renovation

Hi all, and happy Sunday!

Our powder room renovation is finally complete and I wanted to share some pictures from the makeover!

First I need to give some background (and before photos!). Our house was built in 1937 and probably didn’t come with an original powder room (meaning it was added into the existing first floor layout at some point).

It is a very small room, probably smaller than my cube at work or a typical closet. It’s also a very odd shape which presented us with some design challenges.

The before: a lovely bright lilac color 🀣.

Ugh that flooring ^.

We had already ripped out the sink and toilet at this point. The sink was covered in various layers of paint from over the years, and the toilet was so large, you could barely sit down.

My Dad and Ruth helped us with the “demo.” The powder room butts up to a small entry way closet which we wanted to keep for some storage. We took out the walls of the closet (to make the bathroom bigger) and moved them inwards, took out all the trim, and removed all of that lovely laminate flooring.

We enlisted the services of a local contractor to help with rebuilding the walls, putting in new marble tile and hardwood flooring, new light fixtures, and bead-board amongst other things.

The project took much longer than anticipated due to long shipping times for certain items (the tile and toilet). We weren’t in a big hurry but this is definitely something we will keep in mind if we do any other home projects!

Now, time for some after pictures!

We are so happy with how the bathroom turned out. I especially love the tile which was a little bit hard to find. Our contractor also did an amazing job installing the hardwood and staining it to match our kitchen.

^In process pic- new hardwood floor!

We wanted to keep the overall aesthetic in line with the age of the house and therefore didn’t do anything too modern or trendy.

I had hoped to use wallpaper in the powder room, but I literally couldn’t decide which pattern to use! I ordered at least a dozen samples and couldn’t decide on any. When Ryan suggested we use the paint leftover from our guest room it seemed like an easy (and cheap) solution! I absolutely love the color and think it looks perfect and better than any of the wallpaper samples I received.

    • Some other details/ sources for anyone who is interested.
    • Bead-board/baseboard – purchased by our contractor in Amish country
    • Marble tile- 2 inch style, purchased online by our contractor
    • Light fixtures and mirror- Amazon (I know)
    • Paint- Sherwin William’s “Hinting Blue,” we had some leftover from our guest room
    • Faucet- purchased online at Vintage Tub & Bath
    • Sink & Toilet- Home Depot

    Some things to keep in mind if you are embarking on a home improvement project:

    I think a project of this size could be largely DIY if you are at all handy with “home stuff.” Since we were moving walls and installing new drywall and light fixtures in a different part of the drywall, we went with a contractor.

    Any home improvement project will take longer than you expect, for any number of reasons! Items may be on backorder, there may be scheduling conflicts, unforeseen structural issues may come up (hopefully not the case ever). Patience is key in all of this.

    You can get great deals for your home projects if you’re willing to do a little research! We got everything for a steal by planning ahead and having an idea of how we wanted the room to turn out. You can also use some materials you may already have on hand, like we did with the paint.

    Too many choices can hinder progress to meeting your end goal. Just stick with your gut intuition and move forward with your selections. I wasted so much time trying to force myself to like any of the wallpaper samples I had ordered, but it just didn’t end up working for me!

    We worked with a great contractor and couldn’t be happier with the results!

    2018 Recap (three months into 2019)

    Hi friends-

    I thought I’d do a 2018 recap as quickly as possible and also introduce myself to any new blog readers! Welcome πŸ˜„.

    2018 was such an amazing, wonderful, and crazy year. Ryan and I got married (!!!!) back in May ❀️, and closed on our house the week before our wedding (insane is an understatement and I would not recommend this course of action for the faint of heart πŸ˜‚).

    This somewhat absurd timing ended up working out perfectly for us since the previous owners needed to stay through July, allowing us a much needed few weeks to relax after planning for the big day.

    The wedding couldn’t have happened without our amazing family and friends. Everyone involved contributed so much, and I can’t thank them enough. I think about this day all the time and how wonderful it was.

    ^ It was 50 degrees and kind of windy during this picture, but we took our chances because it was torrentially pouring the entire day except for this brief window!

    We hired Kylie Bricker as our photographer and couldn’t have asked for better images to capture our day. Her work is incredible and I love that she carries a digital camera and shoots some images on film too.

    For our honeymoon we went to Thailand (!!). I am going to do a Thailand travel series with our reasoning and some details of our trip, but suffice it to say: Thailand was so incredible and a destination I would recommend to absolutely anyone (young, old, single, with a family, etc).

    Reason #1 is below.

    Reason #2

    Reason #3

    And one more:

    Don’t worry, I have hundreds more “reasons,” to share with you and I can’t wait to work on a Thailand/honeymoon post in the near future πŸ˜„.

    Back to reality. After our honeymoon we got to work on painting our house. We had to do very little “fixing up,” overall, but we did paint every single room in our entire house. This was a family affair and thank goodness we had help from all of our parents and family. I am going to do another blog post on our home improvements and decor because it totally deserves one!

    Below: This picture is right after we finished painting the living room. We used Sherwin Williams paints throughout our home and are really happy with how it all turned out.

    Here is a pic of the living room decorated for Christmas. This picture makes me feel so happy and warm 😁 especially in the middle of winter when it’s cold, gray and everything seems drab. These walls were green with beige trim 😬 before we painted.

    We’ve had that tree for 3 or 4 Christmas’ now and it’s held up great. It’s from Wayfair.

    Our new street in the morning light, covered in a blanket of snow. ^

    We’re finally feeling settled in our new home and loving it. We didn’t need to purchase much furniture (biggest purchase by far was the previously reviewed Crate&Barrel couch!) so it was pretty smooth sailing in that regard.

    Also, as mentioned, Ryan and I both got new jobs! He moved to a different company and I moved to a whole new line of business (we both work in financial services and met at work!). It’s been challenging for us both but ultimately the right decision. We’re both settling in nicely and have our work routines semi- figured out. Does anyone ever really have work totally nailed down? Maybe it’s just me who can never seem to figure it out…

    Anyways, that’s my quick 2018 recap! A lot of it revolved around planning, deadlines, big decisions and was extremely stressful at times. On the other hand, it was also a year filled with love, growth and incredible happiness I’ve never felt before.

    We’re enjoying a slow and wonderful start to 2019 and can’t wait to see where this year takes us!

    Thanks for following along.

    Molly

    Steamboat Springs

    Hi friends and TGIF!

    I wanted to share some pictures from our recent trip to Steamboat Springs, CO. Ryan and I went there for a week to go skiing and visit his family and it was amazing, per usual! This was our 3rd trip together, and Ryan has been going with his family for 15 years+ (his aunt and cousins live in CO).

    We had beautiful weather for almost our entire trip! It snowed 18 inches on the mountain while we there, so the ski conditions were absolutely amazing. We also got days full of beautiful sunshine 🌞.

    Aren’t these views incredible? I couldn’t believe the beautiful lighting and how blue the sky is!

    We enjoyed a beer outside on the balcony in the sunshine after a day of skiing.

    Steamboat is such a beautiful place and I am so grateful to have been introduced to it by Ryan and his family. It’s off the beaten path and it’s about a 3.5 hour drive from Denver, near the Wyoming border. Given its location it has a slightly more western and casual vibe than some of the other big resort towns in Colorado (and I hope it stays that way πŸ˜€).

    We skied the entire mountain, went snowshoeing, ate *amazing* food, and enjoyed hours of relaxation spent by the fire.

    The meals in Steamboat have always been so good (regardless of the fact that it’s a smallish ski town!). Some of our favorites:

    • Mambo Italiano (Italian, obviously 🀣)- Delicious pasta dishes.
    • Low Country Kitchen (Southern comfort food)- Amazing fried chicken and biscuits. Randomly the deviled eggs are also so good! Great cocktails as well.
    • BΓ©same (Tapas/ Latin American food- Spanish, Peruvian, Colombian, etc.)- incredible! This is a new place Ryan and I tried this past trip and everything we got was spectacular. Prawns, potatoes, duck confit, smoked peppers, fresh baked bread with adobo sauce, etc. Okay, now I’m drooling.

    Interior shot of BΓ©same- I’m a sucker for cafΓ© lights or whatever these string lights are called. I love the wide, worn floorboards too.

    • Freshies (casual breakfast and lunch spot with classic and/or healthy options) – I got a roasted butternut squash and quinoa bowl with kale, feta, and scrambled eggs for breakfast one morning- it was so filling and tasty.
    • Truffle Pig (fancy, finer dining at base of mountain)
    • Mahogany Ridge– incredible steaks and beer selection (local too)
    • Lots of little breweries and pubs around town.
    • Lots of good casual Mexican restaurants as well
  • We’ve also heard great things about Mazzola’s and Laundry but haven’t had a chance to check them out. There are a TON of other restaurants we want to try as well. Next time 😁.
  • This year, we went on another snowshoeing adventure at Buffalo Pass (located on a mountain near town). The pictures don’t do it justice but I’m gonna try my darnedest!
  • This trek was nothing short of breathtaking.

    It had snowed three feet or something crazy when we arrived (in addition to existing snowpack).

    ^ This trail sign is about 5 feet high to give you an idea of the height of the snowfall!

    As we got climbed more up the mountain, the views got more and more jaw dropping.

    ^ You can see tiny specks in the center here- those are snowmobiles. The only other humans we saw.

    ^ Our guide Katie leading the way. I love this photograph. She looks like she’s hiking into the clouds. Everything is so pristine and untouched and pure.

    I couldn’t believe my eyes! The scenery was just so beautiful. Needless to say I was lagging behind the group snapping tons of photos.

    ^ The lighting was gorgeous and dramatic. The clouds rolled in, enveloping us and then quickly dissipated, gliding over the ridges and rolling hills, off into the distance.

    It was an experience I’ll never forget. None of these pictures have any filters on them- the lighting and colors were just picture perfect. Our guide said it was one of the most spectacular hikes she had ever done!

    ^ A beautiful Aspen tree.

    It was actually so bright we wore sunglasses almost the whole time.

    I took probably close to 150 pictures! There are so many more beautiful images on my camera but I don’t want to exhaust my readers πŸ˜‚/ how many pictures of mountains does one need to see (#thelimitdoesnotexist). Also, I only really used my camera one or two days of the trip, but still feel like it was totally worth it to bring it.

    After snowshoeing we walked around town. We bought a cute Christmas ornament and mainly just window shopped.

    ^ View of the mountain from Lincoln Avenue- the Main Street in Steamboat.

    A lovely mural outside of Freshies restaurant. The colors are so bright and cheerful.

    This day was actually very low visibility at first and made for difficult skiing. Luckily Ryan is a great ski partner (and encourager) and the skies cleared up beautifully later on!

    ^ The storm clouds moving across the mountain.

    After the clouds cleared πŸ™‚:The weather can change quickly when you’re 10,000 feet up!

    Well, that about sums up our trip. Ryan and I had the best time and can’t wait to go back! We are planning to go in the summer and fall seasons at some point, and I have a feeling I’ll love Steamboat even more. I would love to explore the western United States more and hope I get a chance to do so!The natural world is so incredible and awe inspiring.

    I hope you enjoyed this post and the pictures- I know I enjoyed taking them.

    Do you you have a favorite vacation spot? Let me know in the comments below.

    Winter Fun

    Happy Thursday all!

    Hope your week (sans polar vortex) is going great. I wanted to share a fun outdoor winter activity with you all today.

    Ryan and I went snowshoeing in the Cleveland Metroparks this past weekend. My Dad and Ruth joined (we got it as a Christmas gift for them). It was so much fun, and proof that there are indeed things to do outside, in winter, in Cleveland.

    The weather was perfect- a light snow was falling, and there was very little wind. It was in the mid-twenties and once we were walking we quickly warmed up. We even had some sunshine later on in our walk.

    We started out at Chestnut Shelter in North Chagrin. The Cleveland Metroparks team had a nice fire going and greeted us as we arrived. Both of our guides (Matt and Zach) were so incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.

    The photo below shows Chestnut Shelter in North Chagrin. You can see the snowshoes lined up out front.

    ^ Group shot as we began to head out. The softly falling snow made everyone and everything very photogenic πŸ˜„. Also our guide was an excellent group photographer πŸ™‚.

    We hiked through the woods which was beautiful. It was very quiet and peaceful and felt great to breathe in the cold fresh air. We even crossed a babbling brook! Talk about picturesque. We only saw a sole runner on our whole trek. As we walked, the guides pointed out different species of trees and critters, and told us about the Metroparks conservation efforts.

    One of our guides, Matt. ^

    We also got a brief history of snowshoes which was actually very interesting (especially if you’re into American history at all).

    We eventually snowshoed to Squire’s Castle, a local Cleveland landmark. I hadn’t been here in at least 15 years, and I have to say, it looked so beautiful covered in snow.

    ^Squire’s Castle covered in snow (and enhanced via a Snapseed filter). The unfiltered version is below. What a beautiful sight!

    The inside of the castle (which has been abandoned for decades) was beautiful and a bit eerie. The snow drifts inside the thick brick and stone walls reminded me of something you might see in a forgotten corner of an ancient European city.

    After walking around the castle a little bit, we started our hike back.

    When we arrived back to the lodge, we had s’mores and hot chocolate and chatted with our guides. It was a wonderful way to spend a wintry afternoon.

    The Metroparks offers tons of programs throughout the year, and I couldn’t recommend this snowshoeing hike enough. You can view all of their programs by visiting their website which I will link below.

    Take a look – they have activities the whole family can enjoy! Do you have any suggestions for winter activities? Let me know!

    Plan your visit to the Cleveland Metroparks

    Healthy-ish Snack: Siggi’s + Pistachios

    Hi all- I hope you’re all staying warm! It has snowed about 18 inches here in the last few days and we relaxed inside pretty much all weekend long. The four degree temps this morning it all the harder to head back into work, but we made it!

    I wanted to share a snack idea that Ryan came up with. We have had this several times and it makes for a filling, yummy snack or healthy dessert option.

    It couldn’t be easier- here’s what you’ll need:

    • Siggi’s 4% Milkfat Vanilla Greek yogurt (or their lower fat vanilla)
    • Dash of Cinnamon
    • 2 tsps Honey
    • Handful of pistachios

    That’s it.

    Grab a handful of pistachios (and remove the shells, hopefully that’s obvious!). Use a rolling pin (or a Nalgene water bottle like me 🀣) to crush them in a plastic sandwich baggie. Then sprinkle them on top of the Siggi’s yogurt. Top with honey (I used raw honey but any kind will do!) and cinnamon. We always have Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon on hand and it is sooo yummy and flavorful.

    You can order some using this link:

    Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon

    There you have it! A satisfying snack that will fill you up and tastes delicious in just a couple of minutes.

    As a sidebar/ unsolicited plug for Siggi’s vanilla yogurt (and all of their yogurt in general): it is amazing! This particular yogurt has just six ingredients in it, 12 g of protein, and 8 grams of sugar. I will say, this yogurt is more expensive than other brands. This is because you are actually getting much more food when you buy this type of yogurt vs a Yoplait or Chobani (which have water or other oddities added to them to make them thicker).

    I had been eating Chobani Greek yogurt but it had 15 g of sugar per serving (although fewer calories). My doctor recommended staying under 30 g of sugar per day- hence why I mention this. Yoplait often has even more sugar than Chobani, or more additives.

    A lot times, if a yogurt (or food) is low in fat or calories, additives are used to make it taste more sugary or make it thicker. Even low sugar foods can be supplemented with fake crap, so I think your best bet is reading the ingredients. Sometimes getting something with a little more fat is actually healthier overall and can be more filling.

    I also honestly prefer the taste of Siggi’s to Chobani blended yogurts. It’s definitely less sweet but I like that (or have gotten used to it πŸ˜‚). We love the Siggi’s Coconut and Mixed Berries flavors as well. They also make lower fat versions with no additives as well.

    Fage yogurt is another healthy and delicious option but I prefer the taste of Siggi’s overall.

    Anyways- try this “recipe” out and let me know what you think! If you’re not a fan of pistachios you can substitute a tablespoon of natural peanut butter or chia seeds. The options are endless. Mix it all together and enjoy!

    Saint Laurent Copy Cat Sandals

    Happy Sunday friends! I wanted to hop on here quickly and just post about a little sandal steal/ dupe I found.

    I posted the below photo on my Instagram, asking if you could tell which pair was more. Well……the big reveal is below!! Did you guess right?

    The pair on the left are Saint Laurent and retail for $595.00. The pair on the right are Zara and retail for $45.00. They both look so similar and are both so classic looking! Honestly I can’t fathom spending $595 on sandals that I would probably wear out in a year or two, but if that’s more your speed, more power to ya! I linked both below.

    Saint Laurent Woven Leather Slide

    Zara Leather Crossover Sandals

    Review of the Zara leather sandals:

    I purchased the leather Zara sandals in Brown (they also come in several other beautiful colors, I love the yellow or red) in size 9 & 10- I never know what size to get since they don’t carry half sizes. I am going to stick with the size 9- they fit well and leather has a tendency to stretch, as do sandals of this style. I do have narrower feet, so I’d recommend trying on both pairs if you’re in between shoe sizes.

    They are simple, beautiful and exactly as pictured. I also like how they’re plain. I know that may not sound very *trendy* and they might not even look very trendy but that is a bonus to me. They are timeless looking! They also feel very comfortable and I have read a few other reviews that echo this sentiment. I haven’t walked around in them much because… February. But they felt great as I tried them on. Definitely happy with my purchase and keeping them! It’s hard to find leather sandals at a good price point, so for me, the Zara pair are a good deal.

    If you’re in the market for a classic leather sandal for spring or summer, I would recommend checking out either of these pairs. Okay, let’s face it, I can’t “recommend” spending $600 on a pair of skimpy sandals, but, I always want to provide options πŸ˜‚. Both are beautiful and classic in my opinion, regardless of the brand. Let me know if you have any questions or other good dupes in the comments below.

    Also, I realize this is not a photography blog post, but it’s something I thought was worth sharing. I don’t have a specific blog identity (lol is that a thing?) so I’m just going to keep posting what I think could be useful to all three of my regular readers πŸ˜‚. Enjoy!

    Have a great long weekend everyone.

    Molly