In the summertime…

Just sharing some pics from a nice weekend. We spent time with my mom (birthday celebrations) and her sister (my Aunt Jeannie) who was visiting.

I also grabbed some flowers at Trader Joe’s:

And picked some from our yard ☺️

My mom + Maggie = πŸ₯°πŸ₯°πŸ₯°

Mini photo shoot by Ryan πŸ˜„

We also visited the cultural gardens (sneak peak below) which I blogged about here.

^ Maggie chewing eating a stick per usual.

Her gnashing little teeth 🦷🀣.

Enjoying a Lake Erie sunset πŸŒ….

Dinner and delicious drinks at the Fairmount!

Such a fun weekend! Thanks to Ryan for capturing some great pics of the three of us and Happy Birthday to my wonderful Mom! It’s been a great summer so far.

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!

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

    Welcome to “On Hillbrook Lane”

    Hello and welcome to my very first blog post! My name is Molly and I have talked about starting a blog for at least five years, and with the New Year upon us, I have finally made good on my promise. I have wanted to start a blog as a way to showcase my adventures around the world, and locally here in Cleveland, Ohio. One of my favorite hobbies is photography and I want to use this blog to post pictures of places, people, and experiences that make me happy. I hope they make you happy too! To let you know a little bit more about me, I will try to do a semi-regular “about me,” bit. Here are ten facts about me to get started:

    1. I live in Lakewood, Ohio- a suburb just west of Cleveland in Northeast Ohio. I love Lakewood and Cleveland in general. My fiancee and I live in an apartment just across the street from a gorgeous park that overlooks Lake Erie, and I have to say I feel spoiled most of the time.
    2. I love to travel. This past year, my travels have taken me to some amazing destinations: Mexico, Morocco, Nantucket, Naples, NYC, and beyond. It all culminated in a trip to London and Paris where I got engaged to my amazing boyfriend under the Eiffel Tower. Yes, it still feels like a dream writing this sentence.
    3. I have one sister and two step-sisters. I am close to all three and love them all dearly. My sister Jennie lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband. This has been a blessing and a curse (haha). A curse because they are far away (relatively), but also a blessing because their living in NYC has allowed me to visit numerous times. There is always something new to see and do in New York and I love visiting the two of them.
    4. I am close with my entire (modern) family. I go for hikes and walks with Mom regularly and she is truly one of best friends. My parents divorced when I was very young, and I was lucky enough to gain another family when my Dad remarried my stepmom (who is one of eleven siblings!). My parents and stepmom all get along quite well which makes it easy to enjoy everyone’s company.
    5. I met my fiance at work. I had been working at my company (a local bank) for 3 years when Ryan started in my department. I was tasked with training him and the rest is history.
    6. I got engaged this past October under the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower. If it sounds like a fairytale, then you’re getting the right idea! I never imagined in my life something like that would happen to me, with the best person I know. I feel so happy and lucky to have a partner in my life like Ryan.
    7. I love to cook (and eat). I try to cook at home as much as possible. Not only is it cheaper and usually healthier, to me, it often tastes better than going out to a fancy restaurant. Food pics will be on the way!
    8. I love photography. That is the whole reason I decided to start a blog. Note: me loving photography and actually being a talented photographer are two different things! I am working on learning and consider myself a novice. I just bought my first camera and am still learning the ropes, but have always had an eye for certain “shots.”
    9. I love being outside in any degree. This includes walking, sitting, eating, drinking, etc. You get the idea. Something about being outside is refreshing and makes me reconnect to whomever I am with. My fiance (Ryan from here-on out) and I love to go for walks in almost any kind of weather (yesterday it was 12 degrees out and it was still a lovely time!).
    10. I am obsessed with streaming television. I can (and do) easily watch several hours of Netflix each night. Currently, I am loving the Crown. The cinematography and costumes are spectacular and I love the history that is worked into the show.

    Thats all for now! I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little bit, and I can’t wait to see where this blog goes. Follow me on instagram (on my newly created account OnHillbrookLane) to see a slice of life!

    More to come-

    Cheers,

    Molly