anniversary

Loews Hotel, Atlanta

For our five year anniversary, my husband and I decided to do a mini staycation at the Loews Hotel in  Atlanta. We were excited to experience all the hotel has to offer: prime location in the city, an incredible room service menu, a fabulous restaurant, a Starbucks in the lobby, and an amazing spa. We really struck gold with the Loews and had the most wonderful time. Everyone was so helpful and kind and really made sure that our anniversary was special and all of our needs were taken care of. Located in the heart of Midtown, the Loews Hotel is within walking distance to nightlife, amazing restaurants, attractions, and landmarks.
We checked in around 3pm, had some drinks at the lobby bar and then headed to our room. We stayed in the Grand Luxury King Suite which overlooks Midtown with beautiful corner views and floor to ceiling windows. There is a separate living room with dining table and a huge bathroom with a soaking tub. I cannot tell you how long it had been since I was able to relax in a bath without hearing kids crying and dogs barking. It was nothing short of amazing and so needed. When most parents have the luxury of getting away, even for a night, most want a nice king size bed, cozy sheets, great pillows and a relaxed environment. The Loews provided all of that and more for our anniversary and we really felt pampered throughout our entire stay.
After relaxing for a bit we headed down to Exhale Spa, located on the 7th floor of the hotel. This spa has a few locations around the Atlanta area however this was our first time visiting. We had a couples massage with two female therapists which were beyond excellent. I’m usually not a fan of massages because they always seem to hurt me more than relax me, but my masseuse Monica was amazing. She listened to my concerns and was really experienced in the art of therapeutic massage. If you are an Atlanta local, you need to request her for your next visit. When we were finished with the couples massage we headed into the dry steam room to further relax and clear our minds. It can be so hard to unwind after a long week of working, taking care of children, pets, households, etc, but I have realized these past few months that self-care needs to come before anything else. We can’t expect to take care of everyone else if we don’t put ourselves first. Parents need their time together (and alone) to really be the best version of themselves. Even escaping for just 24 hours helped me get centered and focused again. After our wonderful visit to Exhale, we got ready for our anniversary dinner at Saltwood, the hotel restaurant. Before heading down we were treated to an amazing charcuterie platter and bottle of champagne. The presentation was so beautiful that it was hard to eat, but I’m so glad we did because it was delicious. You can read my full, detailed review of our dinner experience here. It was one of the best meals we’ve ever eaten.
After getting a full, uninterrupted night of sleep, we woke feeling refreshed and energized. Sleeping in is something we never get to do and it was one of the aspects we were looking forward to the most. We visited the fitness center at Exhale Spa before heading back to our room to indulge in a beautiful hotel breakfast spread. From the Belgium waffles to the eggs benedict, every piece of our meal was to die for. Ordering a hotel breakfast is one thing we cannot stay away from when traveling. We were so impressed by how amazing everything looked and tasted.
Our experience at Loews truly made our anniversary memorable. Even if you don’t have an anniversary or special event to celebrate, I encourage you to take time and escape!  Where is your favorite escape?
Thank you to the Loews Hotel, Atlanta, for hosting us. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Celebrating FIVE Years

This Sunday, my husband and I celebrate our FIVE year wedding anniversary. I cannot believe we have already been married for five years because it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. Since our children are so young, it seems like life really started once they were born and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. I never knew I could feel so complete with the addition of my husband, and I’m sure glad he chose me to walk through life with. What a crazy ride it’s been!

When Jord approached me about featuring their beautiful wooden watches, I knew one would make the perfect anniversary gift for my husband since after all, the theme for five years is wood! They have so many beautiful styles for men and women but ultimately he chose the Ebony & Copper watch. My husband is obsessed with watches. He collects them like women collect shoes or handbags and his collection is pretty stunning. However, he didn’t have anything quite like the Jord watch. What makes their pieces so unique is the different twist on a classic accessory. They offer maple, rosewood, and bamboo woods (just to name a few) and pair them with sapphire crystal to achieve the ultimate modern timepiece.

The watches are splash proof and can handle normal activities like going to the gym, washing dishes, kids bathtime, etc. My husband loves that he can wear his work and also on a date night. The ebony wood matches just about everything in his wardrobe and this watch has quickly become his most worn. 

Jord is giving away a $75 shop credit and all you have to do is enter your name and email on their site. That’s it! Everyone who enters will receive a $20 discount code as well. The contest will close on September 11 at 11:59pm and the discount code is good until January 31, 2017, so you could get one of these beauties as a Christmas gift! These pieces make such a unique and creative give and I love the styles they offer for women too. Do you have any big Labor Day plans? The hubs and I are celebrating our anniversary with a staycation in town, complete with a couples massage and yummy dinner! I’m definitely looking forward to escaping for a little while and recharging. Hopefully, with the arrival of September, this means cooler temps are right around the corner!

f o u r y e a r s

Friday September 4 we celebrated our four year wedding anniversary. What a fun and wild ride it has been. We have definitely grown a lot and have experienced so much in this short time. The future looks good! I read this article about marriage and it is hilarious! We always go back to the Founders Hall in historic Roswell where we got married to take our annual picture. It’s so crazy that we now have 2 kids and they joined in the photo this year. We had lunch across the street at the Fickle Pickle which has the best sandwiches. (Side note, I recently was introduced to Snap Chat by a friend and have been obsessed with snap chatting my whole day. I know I’m super late to the party but it’s so much fun! You can follow along: chanel.m3)

For dinner we headed to JCT Kitchen down on the Westside. I had previously been there a few times but it was our first time together and it did not disappoint. Our waiter was amazing and the food was so delicious. The philosophy behind the restaurant is all farm to table to their menu changes daily and is always stamped at the top with the date. Our waiter gave us a menu to take home with us and even got it signed by the chef. Such a thoughtful touch and definitely something we will treasure! The chef sent out the incredible fried corn on the cobb with parmesan, chili and lime. It was hands down the best way I have ever had corn on the cobb. For entrees we each had the shrimp + grits (with asparagus tips, heirloom tomatoes, herbs and croutons) and split the mac + cheese with bacon and the garlic green beans. 

My favorite cocktail was Peak Time: Chattanooga Whiskey, GA Peach Shrub, King’s Ginger Liquor & Mint

We finished out the evening with some strawberry prosecco + homemade health bar ice cream scoops. It was a wonderful day and the food was a sneak peak into our anniversary trip next week to California! I’m a total foodie and we definitely eat our weight when we go on vacation. Let me know your “must” restaurants in the LA/Santa Monica/Malibu area! 

San Francisco Part 3

 Sunday we had an early start with our van picking us up at 7:45am for our Napa/Sonoma Valley Wine Tour & Muir Woods Visit. We booked this tour and the price included 3 winery tours (with wine!), transportation for the day, and a visit to Muir Woods National Park. For $95 each, it was a good price for being able to visit Wine Country and have a relaxing day different from the city. The drive into the Muir Woods was super windy and steep on these little roads and there were a few times I thought we were going to go over the edge. My husband just laughed at me and said I was being paranoid, but I really was scared. Once we got there I was able to breathe again and we walked around the forest and marveled at the amazing trees that seemed to reach the sky.
Our first stop was in Napa, at the Mayo Family Winery. This was a smaller winery and their wine samples were very generous. Out of all the wines we tasted that day, these were our favorites. Especially for me because I love champagne and their bubbly was so tasty. Here is a link to where you can purchase it, I know I will definitely be ordering some for the fall. Champagne and Fall go together right? This winery was also a more personal setting and our group were the only ones there.
After the winery in Napa we headed to old town Sonoma for lunch and ate at the Sunflower Cafe (which was mostly all organic food). We had purchased a bottle of champagne from the Mayo Winery and were allowed to drink it during lunch with no corking fee. The champagne was so refreshing and went great with our food. We started with the goat cheese filled piquillo peppers, followed by the wedge salad and smoked duck sandwich. Again, the food was amazing (we didn’t have a bad meal on our trip). We also stopped at a cute little market and got some chocolates and fudge for later.

In Sonoma we visited two wineries, Madonna Estate (they had the most amazing barrel room!) and Cline Cellars Winery. The drive in wine country was so beautiful, filled with acres and acres of grape vines everywhere. It was so peaceful and calming, plus the weather was amazing. Cline Cellars did not let us tour their facilities or barrel room and also had their sampling set up outdoors in the cool breeze. Their main house was laid out on a huge piece of property and had the most beautiful trees. We sat on the front porch in rocking chairs and enjoyed this special time together. I am not sure if I have mentioned it yet but this was our early anniversary trip! While we missed Henry tremendously, it was nice to have some time to ourselves and focus on each other.
{This photo was not taken by me, it is from their Flickr site)

On our way back to San Francisco, we drove through old town Sausalito which was so cute and charming. I definitely want to go back and spend a few days there on our next visit. All the little wine and coastal towns have so much character to them. We didn’t get back to our hotel until almost 8pm. This will sound very un-touristy, but we were so worn out from the day that we stayed in and ordered pizza and a cal-zone (which were very yummy). We took it easy, watched TV and crashed out early. Monday morning we woke up refreshed and ready (and sad) for our last day in SF. We took advantage by heading to China Town, Fisherman’s Wharf, and up to see the Painted Ladies (totally not near each other so we did a ton of walking again!) While we were at Fisherman’s Wharf we came across this super cool Antique Coin Operated Arcade with tons of vintage/classic games that were all fully functional. We had so much fun there playing Pacman and taking pictures in the photo booths. This another “must” on my SF to do list. You won’t find any games like this at your local mall.

We also hiked it up to Alamo Square Park to see the famous Painted Ladies! A staple in nearly every movie or TV show based in San Francisco (hello Ms. Doubtfire!). You would not believe all the people there just standing and taking pictures, marveling at their awesomeness. It makes me wonder if people actually live in those houses and how they feel to have people looking at their homes year round. So, I did some googling and people do live there, one was even on the market a year ago. Check it out here to see what the inside looks like.

When we took the bus back from Alamo Sq. our stop was literally right in front of the new Converse store. It was a sign. The displays and visuals in this store were incredible. I have never seen so many converse in my life. From the classics in every color, to the Dr. Seuss shoes, there was definitely converse eye candy everywhere. They even had a design center where you could customize every part of your shoe. I wish they would bring one of these stores to Atlanta because it really it a sight to see.

We wrapped up the day with some drinks at Hotel Adagio, followed by an incredible dinner at Fino, an Italian restaurant in the classic Andrews Hotel. This was probably some of the best Italian food we both have ever had. We started with the hand cut french fries tossed with fresh garlic, parsley, truffle oil and parmesan cheese. I think our taste buds had literally exploded. If I had to choose something to eat on a weekly basis for the rest of my life, these would be on the menu. I also had the Gnocchi and it was cooked to perfection. Cooking Gnocchi can be so hard because you have to keep a constant water temperature and the water can never drop below boiling. I highly recommend this place if you visit.

Well folks, that’s a wrap on our San Francisco anniversary trip! I hope you enjoyed the photos as much as I enjoyed living those moments. I am already dying to get back. I think about the weather the most. I think it has rained every day this month in Atlanta and the humidity is like a fleece blanket wrapping over you. A friend told me today that we have had as much rain as Seattle has this summer. Fall can’t come fast enough. xoxo.

 

San Francisco Part 2

Saturday was our biggest walking day of the trip, clocking in over 6 miles by foot and then also taking the trolly and cable cars. We started the morning out by hiking it to Little Skillet, a pop up food spot tucked away in a little ally in the China Basin district. They are known for their Chicken & Waffles and their Waffle Dog. Since we were there for breakfast, I got the Chicken & Waffles and hubby got the biscuits and gravy. Thinking about them makes my mouth water. The buttermilk-made-from-scratch-waffles are light and fluffy, with the chicken breaded lightly (no grease whatsoever) and topped with powdered sugar and hot sauce. Did I mention that Bon Appetit rated Little Skillet the best place in San Francisco for fried chicken? When no southern city is on the list, you know this shit is good.

After inhaling all those delicious calories we decided to walk to the Embarcadaro and up the waterfront.   We came upon an amazing, all organic out door market on the pier that was insane! So much great meat, produce, spices, herbs etc. There were probably 100 vendors all with the freshest ingredients. After seeing this we decided that if we were to ever relocate, San Francisco would be the place to do it. We browsed for a little bit before having lunch on the waterfront at Fog Harbor Fish House while overlooking the Sea Lions. They reminded me of big dogs and I was so tempted to go out there and pet them (not sure how well that would have gone over). Of course I had to get some oysters, and oysters I got. Baked with spinach, bacon and parmesan cheese. I seriously think I could have eaten 2 dozen of them. We also got steamed clams with roasted peppers, corn and chorizo butter (so good!) and Jan got the clam chowder in a bread bowl.

Today was the day I had been waiting for … it was ALCATRAZ day! I have wanted to go to Alcatraz ever since I saw “The Rock” like 15 years ago. I could not believe I was actually walking the grounds and prison where some of the most famous inmates had once lived. (Not to get into a history lesson here, but did you know that all the guards and staff lived on the island as well with their families? Children were raised on Alcatraz and even went to school there. So crazy). If you do one thing in San Francisco, make it this. We took a ferry over to the island and then after a very brief welcome by a tour guide, you are free to roam the prison/island at your own pace and then choose a ferry to get back on. You could stay on Alcatraz all day if you wanted to. There is even a free audio headphone tour that you can listen to (do it!) that tells all about the day to day lives of the prisoners, the 3 men that escaped and even when the prisoners took the guards hostage and the military had to come in (they point out where the grenades hit the floor during the stand off and the damage is still there). The audio tour was narrated by former inmates and guards from Alcatraz and it made it that much more real to hear them talk about this erie prison. A friend of mine had recommended taking the night tour but unfortunately they were sold out, and I even booked 3 weeks in advance. This tour definitely sells out fast. If we ever go back, I am definitely getting in on the night tour action.

After spending a few hours on the island and taking the ferry back, we decided to keep on trekking and hit up Tacolicious. We each loaded up on different tacos (my favorite was the House Made Chorizo and Potatoes), a tequila sampler and a classic margarita. You’ll notice in the picture below I am holding a menu, the front and back. Not for food, for tequila. Yes, their menu for tequila was that extensive. It felt so good sitting outside in the cool breeze (with no humidity) after walking so much. Even in sneakers, my feet were throbbing. We headed home relatively early since we had to be up early for our wine tour the next day! I still can’t believe this was only one day worth of activities. When we’re on vacation, we definitely like to fit in as much as possible. Last post of the trip coming soon 🙂

 

San Francisco Part 1

WOW. Did that trip go by fast or what? Like with everything you look forward to in life, the good parts always seem to go by the fastest. This trip has come and gone and we are back home, loving on our baby and returning to normal. For those of you who have not been to San Francisco, I HIGHLY recommend it. The food, weather, atmosphere, people and attractions were all perfect. It is a great location for couples and even for kids. We kept talking about how fun it would be to bring Henry with us the next time. SF is so kid friendly with all the parks and museums and you can walk everywhere! We did not rent a car and had no problem with the trolley’s, cable cars and pedi cabs. They can take you anywhere you need to go and since the weather is not hot or humid, walking is actually enjoyable even during the day.

 

 

Our flight was delayed nearly 2 hours which was super irritating and there was nothing to do at the airport except drink. And drink we did. 2 glasses of champagne and 2 double vodka/OJ’s and I was about three sheets to the wind. It’s sad that that is how little I can drink and still get drunk.

 

We finally made it to SF, got our bags, a cab and eagerly checked into our hotel. We stayed at the Kensington Park Hotel right at Union Square Park. It is an old, historic hotel with lots of charm and a theater on the 2nd floor that still puts on plays! Our room on the 10th floor was so charming, with a mixture of antique and modern pieces. Once we unpacked and relaxed for a moment, we headed out to Union Square Park to people watch and have some lunch. We did a TON of walking throughout the trip (one day even putting in over 6 miles!)
My husband and I are total foodies. We love trying new things and out of the box type meals. San Francisco was perfect for this. Our first night we had dinner at Straw, a very small, laid back restaurant with carnival inspired food and decoration. The place only had 8 tables and sat no more than 35 people. I am so glad I made reservations because the wait was 45 minutes (even for a Thursday!) We walked over a mile and a half to get there and got to see some of the city which was beautiful of course. Our server was the epitome of friendly and fun. We sat in an old tilt-a-whirl car from a carnival, read menus made of out actual old books, and munched on gold fish while we waited for our dinner. This was the best part … the food. Straw is known for “The Ringmaster” which is ground chuck, cheese, a fried egg, avocado and bacon all on a homemade glazed donut. Yes, you read that correctly. It was probably one of the best things I have ever eaten. Jan had The Satchemo which was cheesy grits, andouille sausage, prawns/green beans with cajun butter dipping sauce.
After dinner we headed in the direction of our hotel and came upon this delicious ice cream “shop” called Smitten. I use the word shop lightly because it is actually built out of a storage container. The ice cream is all organic and made with liquid nitrogen. I obviously got the salted caramel (my favorite ice cream flavor) and topped it with TCHO cocoa crispies. Thebomb.com! By the time we got back to the hotel it was midnight our time and we had been up for 19 hours straight. We hit the bed hard and SLEPT IN. We haven’t done that since Henry was born. Over 13 months and damn was it nice. We had 5 days of sleeping past 6am. I don’t think I’ll ask for anything else all year.
Friday morning we felt refreshed and ready to walk it out. We went about 2 miles to Sweet Maple through the Tenderloin and Japan Town. Sweet Maple is home of the Millionaires Bacon, which we saw a few weeks ago on the Discovery Channel. We love anything with bacon. If it has bacon, we will eat it. This bacon is so popular that people wait in line over an hour to get seated. Luckily for my husband’s stomach, I plan out everything and made a whole itinerary for our trip. Including getting here right when they opened so we would have zero wait time. It was perfect. The bacon is sliced extra thick in house and coated with brown & maple sugar, black pepper and red pepper flakes. The best bacon I have ever had. (I will say that a lot about most of the food on this trip). We also got french toast and an omelet which were incredible too but the bacon is all that I can remember.
One thing that we loved was that after every meal we were able to walk at least 2 miles and never felt run down by our extravagant meals. After breakfast we walked even more to Hudson Grace, an amazing little store that carries Sugarboo Designs. The store was charming and modern and had the best smelling candles on the planet. Seriously, the planet. The scents are all designed and created by the owner Gary and are not your run of the mill sweet smells that can be nauseating. These are grown up, sophisticated candles that have you imagining you are somewhere exotic. My favorite was the Coast Candle which smells like the San Francisco coast by the Golden Gate Bridge. Check them all out here.
We said our goodbyes at Hudson Grace and headed toward Haight Ashbury. Total hippy central. It reminded me of Little Five Points in Atlanta. We walked up and down the streets and into some shops, bought a few things to remember our trip and had a beer at Cha Cha Cha. You can’t go to SF without visiting Haight Ashbury, and I am glad I got to experience this classic part of town. Afterwards we lunched in the heart of Little Italy at Pantarei. We dined on pasta, pizza and prosecco at this classic restaurant where all the waiters and hosts are from Italy. This wasn’t like walking into Olive Garden with Jim Bob as your waiter. This was authentic y’all!
We got our second wind after lunch and headed over to Coit Tower to see the incredible views of the city and then walked down the windy stairs and streets back into town.
 
 Unfortunately the bay was really foggy so the pictures didn’t come out that great, but the views were still amazing. We ended the night with some southern cuisine at Hops & Hominy and the food rivaled some of the souths best. (Random fact, the owners are three guys from Ocala, Fl where my in laws live). Here we go again with the bacon … Bacon infused Bourbon with some Bacon Mac & Cheese … to die for. Seriously though, what is a meal without bacon? If you’re in the market for some San Francisco southern food, this tucked away restaurant is a must. You wouldn’t even know it’s there unless this sign was out on the sidewalk. I got the shrimp and grits and hubby got the buttermilk fried chicken. Finding off the grid food in new cities is a favorite of mine, because who wants to go out of town and eat at Applebees?
 

That’s all for now folks! I really can’t believe that this wasn’t even 2 full days worth. I still have Alcatraz, China Town, Fisherman’s Wharf, Napa Valley, Sonoma and everything in between to cover. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend planned! xo

Weekender Bags

With our San Francisco trip right around the corner, I have been in search of the perfect carry on bag for my laptop, books and other purse necessities. When I travel I hate taking multiple bags with me on the plane. A large one that can fit all my junk is the way to go. I always have the following in my purse: hand sanitizer, phone, make up bag, wallet, Wet Ones wipes, pen and paper, breath mints, baby wipes, a few diapers and baby snacks. Since this trip is an early anniversary trip for my husband and me, the last 3 items on that list won’t be needed. In place of them will be my camera, laptop, current book club read, phone and chargers. While I am nervous about flying and sad about leaving my baby, I am excited to spend some quality time with my hubby and explore a new city! Plus, it’s a reason to buy a new great bag. Below are some of my favorites and I would love to have all of them. Do you have any weekend bags that you love or recommend? I’d love to hear about them! 

2. Duex Lux Weekender Bag – $145
3. Mojito Weekender – $190
4. LeSportsac XL bag – $148

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