Tag / travel

the key west run-down

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I didn’t take my camera along for this trip, so bear with me and my Instagram and phone pics!

We landed in Key West on a Friday afternoon. Aside from a crazy-rough landing (the runway there is SHORT so you come in fast/hard!), this was the easiest airport experience of my life. Both coming and going were less than fifteen-minute adventures…and you can’t beat hanging at the only airport beach bar in the country!

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The entire island of Key West is around 2 x 4 miles, so in a hot minute, we were at our hotel, Ocean Key Resort & Spa. We were between this and the Westin, and while I can’t speak for staying there, we were very happy with this choice. The staff was very efficient and friendly (they even ran out to track us down some super glue when an earring emergency happened right before maternity pictures!), the food was delicious, and everything from the room to the gym to the pool was very comfortable (and well-decorated — it was fun to take a little island inspiration back to the midwest!).

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We had to laugh at the shower set-up (apparently if you really want to put on a show for someone in the bedroom as you get clean, you sure can!). I was a little obsessed with the claw foot double sink in here…hmm…ideas for the house….

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And even if it was overcast when we first checked in, you couldn’t beat the blue water view from our balcony.

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We got right down to business, heading to nearby Sunset Pier for a mocktail/cocktail overlooking the water, (they make a pretty delicious burger, too!).

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And we wasted no time making our way to the hotel pool…where we ended up camping out for much of each day we were here. I was surprised at how little BEACH there is on this island, but that was okay — poolside drink service (with nearby restrooms) is much more my speed anyway. 😉

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Page isn’t much of a sweets guy, and I’m not all that big on ice cream, but we made REPEAT trips to Duetto Pizza & Gelato while we were here. There are tons of gelato spots around the island but this one stood head and shoulders above all the others recommended on Yelp. The slices were great…but the gelato was ah.maz.ing. Peanut butter for him and chocolate hazelnut for me…and we didn’t dare switch it up and try anything else. Don’t fix it if it’s not broken…and already epic.

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We were actively trying to NOT over-schedule ourselves, so aside from a massage appointment and a couple dinner reservations, our days were open for exploring and sun-soaking. Just walking to the local CVS for a couple items was an adventure…when the streets are lined with exhibits like this:

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There is some great boutique shopping along Duval Street…mixed in with just as many tourist junk stores (it’s ridiculous what people will buy!). They weren’t exactly serving up many maternity options, but Page found some cool stuff at the mens and womens’ boutique, Evolution, and I couldn’t resist some purchases at Naples Soap Company — you could smell the amazing scents from outside the store. I can’t wait to have a tub in the new house — I loaded up on their famous bath bombs in anticipation!

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Our favorite dinner was actually at our hotel’s Hot Tin Roof. We had a gorgeous sunset view on the deck, and we would have licked the plate the Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese arrived on, if appropriate.

You’ll have to forgive all the food focus but keep in mind this preggo spent her first trimester not eating and still thinks she should be making up for it. 😉 We had an amazing breakfast at La Creperie — I’m a crepe FANATIC, but even if you aren’t interested in that part of the menu, Page had an omelette that was to die for. I should mention at this point, we didn’t bother to rent a car, as all these shops and restaurants are easily within a mile’s walking distance. (Bonus…you can burn off a little of everything you indulge in!)

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Other highlights of the trip were taking out a boat on the perfect blue water one morning…

 

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…and taking a ferry to a nearby island for dinner at the Westin’s Latitudes restaurant for our final dinner, on our actual anniversary. The experience was fun and different — you don’t make a reservation for a specific time, they tell you when to be at the dock and you ride out with other people with the same reservation slot. (How appropriate — we left from Slip 29!)

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The restaurant was something out of a Pottery-Barn-goes-Island scene, and I fought the urge to ask every member of the wait staff about the paint colors they used. Definitely brought back some house inspiration from there as well!

Overall, we had a wonderfully relaxing time, and while I feel like we covered a good bit of it all, there were a couple things we didn’t do that I’d be interested to, another time. We didn’t visit the SouthernMost Point, as we heard the lines to get a photo are always very long, and we didn’t hit up any of the numerous museums (there are a surprising number of them, for such a small town!).

Oh, and I’d come back not pregnant and able to indulge in the wine tastings and beach cocktails. 🙂

book it!

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It’s been too many months (Hawaii over New Years 2013!) since we last traveled together and that was more than a regional overnight getaway. I’m so excited to start planning for a long weekend over our 7th anniversary in September in Key West.

We are staying here and I’m clearly too excited…already planning my shopping and packing lists! I’m thinking we will be more than ready for a little break from our tiny apartment digs by then. 😉

Anyone else planning fun summer (or later) vacations??

san francisco pride: the window displays

I just returned from a fantastic first trip to the city of San Francisco. The purpose was to attend a graphic design conference, which always puts me in a heightened state of awareness to the graphics around me, but during this visit in particular, to this city, during THIS historical week, there was no denying the images of pride bursting at every seam of this city.

I have more to share about my trip, but wanted to post these various store windows around the Union Square area. It’s amazing to see so many national retailers step up and give prime sales space to such an important issue. I only managed to snap photos of a handful, but these colorful window displays were EVERYWHERE. I couldn’t help but feel as I walked around that history is happening right now. These days will be the subject of the history books our children and children’s children read years from now. I’m so happy I could capture a tiny bit of it in some photos.

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This one stopped me in my tracks. The artwork drew me to this side of the street, but it was the words that really sucked me in. Well done, Levi’s.

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Some were a bit more subtle, like this simple hashtag decal on Lululemon’s storefront window.

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This San Francisco based bakery, Câko, specifically iced dozens of real cupcakes in the colors of the rainbow. (And hell yes this one is taken from inside…I was in line ordering!) 🙂

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Crate & Barrel’s windows were right in the middle of a construction zone, so it was tricky to stop and snap, but I was equally moved by their spin-off store, CB2’s display around the corner.

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There were so many more, and in such a bustling area, it was difficult to stop and get them all. But I did manage to get a quick shot of one of my faves at Macy’s, keeping it simple and to the point:

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The icing on the cake was leaving the city yesterday. Upon the news breaking, pockets of people throughout the airport burst into cheers and clapping. A friend put it beautifully: “Humanity just got a little more humane.”

Happy Thursday.

Mahalo, Hawaii.

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For the first time since our honeymoon more than five years ago, Page and I made the commitment to take a “bigger” trip this year. To maximize days off from work, we spread it out over the last few days of 2012 and the first few of 2013. We chose Hawaii because neither of us had been and the climate beckoned to us in the middle of a freezing and snowy Iowa winter (the timing couldn’t be more welcome, we lost power in a blizzard just days before leaving!). A good friend of ours who had been stationed on O’ahu for a couple of years was immensely helpful in helping us know which tourist traps to avoid, where the awesome “secret” beaches were, and gave a us a list of foods and activities to try while we were there. Like any good trip, it went by all too fast, but we still managed to cross many of our to-do items off our list! I could easily load way more pictures and stories into several posts, but I’ll try and keep it as brief (??) as possible….

Here’s a photo overload of our week in paradise:

  • Exploring beaches
  • Stand-up paddle boarding (Page excelled at this, there are few shots of me actually getting to a standing position!)
  • Dinner and drink dates around downtown Waikiki
  • NYE fireworks from our hotel “lanai” (Hawaii’s version of “balcony”)
  • Hiking to Manoha Falls waterfall
  • Checking out the crazy North Shore waves (we had hoped to watch some surfers but the tide was too wild)
  • Visiting the Pearl Harbor memorial
  • Using the one rainy day to accomplish some shopping!
  • Golfing (and riding along) the Arnold Palmer course at the North Shore Resort – while the weather literally went from sunny to dark skies and back to sunny every five minutes!
  • Anniversary dinner

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Home…

Waikiki12-12…after a fabulous week and best vacation ever on the island of O’ahu, we are back home in the freezing temps, the snow, and a lot of denial that we go back to work tomorrow! Can’t wait to share some pics from our trip, but for now, just wanted to say hello (Aloha!) and thanks (Mahalo!) for your patience waiting on responses and comment approvals the past few days…I tried to be as unplugged as possible!

Hope 2013 is treating everyone well!

Planning (and shopping!) for our five-year trip…

As I’ve mentioned before, Page and I love to travel whenever we can find room in the budget and on the calendar. Rather than buying anniversary gifts, we tend to celebrate with a get-away around that time of year. We spent our first anniversary in Vegas for a weekend, we took a shopping road trip full of hubby-planned surprises to Minneapolis for our second, we explored Savannah for our third year, and as for our fourth…well, we skipped a trip all together since we figured buying a house two weeks before our anniversary was more than plenty for that year!

So with a couple years behind us since our last excursion, and our five-year anniversary upon us, we decided to go for it and book tickets to somewhere neither of us had ever been…

 

…Helllllooooooo, Hawaii!

We are headed to the island of O’ahu (home to Honolulu for anyone like me who is Hawaii-geography-challenged) for a week the end of this year. We are beyond excited and lucky to have a good friend who has lived on O’ahu the past two years helping us hash out the details of what to do (and what not to bother with) so that we can see all of the amazing parts of the island and really get to experience the state. While we plan to get plenty of relaxing sun and cocktail time in, we didn’t want to go all the way to Hawaii just to sit at a resort and never leave. We are stoked to get out and DO things like hike the infamous Koko Head, tour Pearl Harbor, drive the coastal highways, and take tons of photos. We’ve talked about doing a Jeep tour, trying something out of our (well, MY) comfort zone like kayaking, and of course dining, dining, dining, on all of the delicious island cuisine.

The only thing that could come close to the fun of planning the trip…is shopping for it. 🙂 I love packing for trips, planning out outfits, and in the case of this extra-long trek, gearing up for the flight itself.

 

Knowing this trip was in the works, I’ve been on the lookout for a cool and versatile carry-on sized bag all summer. Since I’ll be carrying on my camera bag as my personal item, I wanted something that I could carry as my “purse on steroids” and have everything I need on-hand. I just ordered this Tory Burch bag and love that I can fit my typical purse items, magazines/books, and laptop/chargers in here, no problem!

Speaking of bringing my camera bag, I am in love with mine, which can hold my camera body, flash, 3-4 lenses and a few accessories. (The compartments are so smartly laid out, I would never have guessed so much could fit in this bag.) It’s also uber helpful that I can strap a lightweight tripod to the front so we’ll be able to get a couple shots with both of us in them! The whole reason I went with this bag is because I can strap it to my back and in a second, swing it around sideways and unzip my camera out when I’m ready to take a shot. But when I’m not shooting, the bag is very comfortable to wear and I sort of forget it’s even there. I will definitely take it on the day or two we try a hike and probably just carry my camera on its own in a tote when we’re shopping or eating out…but basically my goal is to see how many times Page can give me his “you’re SUCH a tourist” eye roll in one week. 🙂

More than once, I’ve been tempted to buy one of these in an airport before a long flight. I figured the eleven-hour leg from Denver to Honolulu is a good a time as any to try one out. Of course it had to be in a fun girly pattern. 🙂

There’s something about packing a never-worn outfit for a trip. I love pulling out a brand new piece (or a few!) when you’re living it up on vacation. Since there won’t be any warm climate clothing available in Iowa when we get ready to leave this winter, I figured I should take advantage of the summer sale racks now. I came across this bargain aqua/blue dress this week and have the perfect bright blue patent flip flops to put with it. It’s pretty zoomed-out in this photo, but up close, I really love the pattern. I already stashed it in my office closet so I’m not tempted to wear it before our trip!

I’m so looking forward to putting together some plans (and doing plenty of unplanned stuff once we get there) and of course writing all about it when we get back. Anyone been to O’ahu? Have any must-do items we should consider??

Christmas…Vegas-style.

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The holidays with my family were quite different this year. One brother had taken off for a ski trip to Colorado, and the other was bound for Tokyo. We decided to scrap the traditional exchange and my parents surprised us with tickets to Vegas!

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It had been two years since our last trip out, so we were more than looking forward to it. Plus, it didn't hurt that the temperature there was a balmy 60 degrees – a welcome change from single digit temps in Iowa!

We stayed at the Bellagio – next to the fountains, my favorite thing about this hotel is the atrium that is constantly changed out with new scenery depending on the seasons. Last time we visited it was fall, and there were gigantic pumpkins and a talking spooky tree displayed as we walked around. This time there was a ginormous Christmas tree, stars and frosted trees everywhere, reindeer made of almonds, and these white carnation polar bears – this one here is getting a touch-up. It was fun to hang on to the holidays just a few days longer as we came down each morning to this awesome scene.

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While the boys gambled during the daytime, I got some quality mama and daughter time doing what else…shopping. 🙂 We started out at Lucy, our first trip to a location TOGETHER. Total dork – I asked the girl to take our pic!

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We spent the rest of our time at Fashion Show Mall and the Forum Shops. I meant to get a pic of Mom and her Burberry purchase…but we ended up leaving in a hurry and I forgot all about it. The H&M store was opening that week….by far the biggest one I have ever seen! We were totally impressed with the store's entrance.

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Among the goodies were some Tory Burch steals and too many pairs of shoes thanks to a Nordstrom visit. 🙂 I seriously, SERIOUSLY have to be done with the shopping for a while now!

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This was the scene we came back to each night when our feet couldn't pound any more shopping pavement – the boys enjoying a drink and cigar. It was fun to catch up on the day and then go to dinner and a show. We got to see "O" for the first time and I was awed by the moving swimming pool stage – unreal. Page and I were both a little unnerved by the guy who set himself on fire for a good few minutes – our waiter later told us that show holds the world record for a person remaining ablaze. Crazy!

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We took an evening to see Old Vegas – my parents had been before and we wanted to see it for ourselves.We checked out the several block movie screen, but the real highlight for me was meeting Michael! Okay, yes obviously not the real deal, but the dude could moonwalk and seriously I was so blown away by the resemblance I got all jittery just standing next to him to take a picture! It solidified for me that had I ever met the real deal, I might just have turned into one of those crying fans I make fun of. I do love me some MJ.

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We spent our final night in Vegas seeing Beatles' LOVE at The Mirage. Hands down, my favorite, FAVORITE show of all time – better than anything I've seen on Broadway or any other Vegas show. The energy, the choreography, and of course the MUSIC make it worthy of a trip just to see this hour and a half spectacle. I've been fortunate to see it three times now and I am pretty sure I could see it every week and never tire of it.

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(entering the LOVE theatre…)

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All in all, a fabulous trip. As my mom has said, the stars all aligned with our time off from work and my brothers being out of town. Who knows when travel may get harder when everyone starts having kids, so now was the time to do this.

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(This picture is solely to show off my sequined purse…)

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Oh, and did I win any money during my time there? That's a big negative. I'm not a gambler. As my girl, Carrie, says, "I like my money right where I can see it….hanging in my closet". 🙂