travel:: Puerto Rican babymoon, part 2

Although we didn’t venture too far away from our hotel during this quick trip to Puerto Rico, I did enjoy being able to explore the Condado Beach area. On one morning walk, we crossed the bridge heading over to Old San Juan and found part of this old fort, which is now closed to the public. We also saw a cute little public beach right off the street, and it included an outdoor gym, which we thought was a playground – haha. Maybe I’d be more inclined to work out if I got to do it on the actual beach?

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Panoramic view from our balcony::
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23 weeks and a few days — loving our Stella & Dot beach tunic for an expanding belly this season!
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Before dinner one night, we headed into Old San Juan to wander the streets and see the historic part of the city. I’d heard about these blue cobblestone streets, and they were so pretty in person! From what I found online, they were cast from iron slag, which is the waste from iron smelting, and were brought over in the 1700s. There’s your historical fun fact for the day.
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Old San Juan is apparently known for its feral cat population, which we noticed as soon as we started walking the streets of the historic area. They are not at all phased by people walking past them as they lie on the sidewalks or in doorways. We joke about the neighborhood stray cat at home being a “street cat,” but these guys are serious. Coco would be terrified.
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No better way to bid ourselves adieu than with a final meal at Ola — and a giant breakfast buffet, at that. I would love to have my yogurt and granola served in those adorable, chilled glasses every morning. Craig, can you help me out with that? 
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We had the most wonderful visit to Puerto Rico, and I can’t recommend our hotel enough. Everyone we met was so friendly and hospitable, the food we had throughout our stay was delicious, and the views of the ocean were beautiful. It was the perfect way to unwind for a few days and enjoy each others’ company on our last real vacation as a couple before baby girl arrives this fall. Eeek!

travel:: Puerto Rican babymoon, part 1

We’re back from our babymoon/anniversary trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico and feeling rested and happy! We haven’t been on a trip by ourselves that pretty much only consisted of relaxing by the pool and being lazy since our honeymoon 6 years ago, and it was much-appreciated. I’d heard such great things about PR, and I can see why. The weather was perfect (cooler than Atlanta, if you can believe that), the locals are so incredibly friendly, and the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel was incredible — top notch service… probably the best we’ve ever received while traveling.

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The historic property just re-opened in December after a very large renovation, and every aspect of the hotel is really nicely done. The view of the ocean from the lobby and lounge area is so inviting, and the moment we arrived, we were handed glasses of champagne to enjoy while we waited on our room to be ready. (Don’t worry — I only had a little.)

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We ended up eating lunch at Ola, the casual onsite restaurant, every day. We tried something new each time; the fancy wood fired pizzas, Cuban sandwich, and brisket quesadilla were among our faves. And I loved their slate plates. 😉
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This was our view for 3 days. There didn’t appear to be a lot of open beach along the coast, and our hotel was situated right against the rocks. We had a beautiful, unobstructed view of the ocean crashing against the rocks from our beach chairs, as well as from the infinity pool. (Craig wouldn’t let me near the pool with my phone, so no photos…)
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Our oceanview room, while not directly facing the ocean, did still have a great view of the water — and about a 15′ balcony along one side. The other side of the room had a view of the harbor and bridge leading over to Old San Juan. I loved that all the windows in the room (and bathroom!) opened up… something I don’t think we’ve seen in most other hotels. 
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Dinner our first night was at a trendy oceanside restaurant, aptly named Oceano. We got a great seat on the deck right off the beach, and we loved our meal. I really enjoyed the grilled pineapple starter I had, and Craig’s pork and corn dish was one of our favorite meals of the trip. 
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We may or may not have then gone back to Ola at the hotel solely for the purpose of eating this amazing Chocolate Bread Pudding dessert (complete with coconut sorbet, salted caramel sauce, nuts, and caramel corn). And we went back again the next night, too. I’m a bad influence. 
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Stay tuned for the rest of our Puerto Rican babymoon!

vacay recap:: nashville

Last week, we took a few days off work and headed to Nashville for a mini vacation. Every time we’re up that way, we are usually visiting family and/or going to a football game, so we never get to do many of the “Nashville” things that so many others rave about. So we decided to take a long weekend trip to knock several things off our Nashville bucket list.  I took far too many photos (shocking!), so I’ll keep the words to a minimum and let you tag along via photos on our trip as “hometown tourists.”

On the itinerary:
1. Arrington Vineyards
2. Nashville Zoo
3. Country Music Hall of Fame
4. Dinner at Husk
5. Lunch at The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden
6. Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co.
7. TN Brew Works
8. Hot chicken!

Arrington Vineyards::
We made a pit stop at Arrington on a windy, overcast afternoon, and it was one of my favorite things we did all weekend. Because it was a Thursday, the vineyard was fairly empty, so we grabbed the “Picnic Tasting” (4 samples of our choice with wine crackers) and headed out to a picnic table with a beautiful hilltop view.  You can bring your own picnic or purchase cheese/crackers/sausage/chocolate truffles from them. We didn’t think ahead to bring our own snacks, so we bought a block of Gouda, some toast crackers, and a sampling of their specially-made truffles for an impromptu happy hour. It was absolutely lovely, and I can’t wait to go back!

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Nashville Zoo::
We both voted the Zoo as our favorite place that we visited, and I’ll have a post devoted to our animal friends coming soon.

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Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co.::
While I don’t consider this place quintessentially “Nashville” since it’s a newer company, we were excited to make our way over to their shop. We first tasted O & S chocolates and caramels at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival earlier this year, and I just had to find their shop to get some more of their goodies. I love their Bourbon Nib Brittle, and Duck Fat Caramels. Get on their website and order yo’self some. Or if you’re in Nashville, stop by their shop and you can take a tour of the factory!
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As usual, we ate our way around the city, including a home-cooked Mexican dinner with Craig’s family and a lunch out with his grandparents.

We had burgers and beers at The Pharmacy over in the East Nashville area. Such a fun little joint with lots of great outdoor seating, lots of burger and sausage options, and lots of beers on tap.
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Our favorite was dinner at Husk, which I wrote about here earlier this week.
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We got some of Nashville’s famous HOT chicken at Hattie B’s. We debated for a long time between Prince’s and HB’s, but this not as sketchy location won out, and I’m happy about that. The chicken was hot, but not on fire, the sides were OK, and the company we had at our picnic table was really nice. And while this choice is a bit more mainstream than Prince’s, I didn’t have to worry about our safety while I waited in line, which was a legitimate concern if we’d chosen the other option.

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And we got after-dinner cocktails at The Patterson House, which was quite fun. It’s definitely not a large group-type of place, but it’s perfect for a date night or outing with a couple of the girls. Lots of interesting options (Craig got the Bacon Old Fashion and I got the Champagne Cocktail), and the mixologists are really good at what they do.
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We had a little extra time one afternoon, so we made a quick stop by Centennial Park to walk around The Parthenon. I didn’t see the need to pay for us to go inside, but I later learned that it serves as the city of Nashville’s art museum, which is pretty neat. Nonetheless, it was fun to walk around the outside and gawk at the size of the columns on the full-scale replica of this Athens monument.
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Hatch Show Print::
This was particularly fun for me to visit, given my degree in Printmaking. Hatch Show was the big “competition” to Yee-Haw Industries, the letterpress company I interned with in Knoxville at the end of college. Hatch Show has been around for decades and as you can see in the photo below, they make allll sorts of letterpress signage. Their studio is in the Country Music Hall of Fame building and is open to the public. Nobody was working in the studio over the weekend, but I’d have loved to see the printmakers in action. I picked up a fun Tennessee-themed print to hang in our house. 🙂
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Country Music Hall of Fame::
I bet you can’t guess who wanted to go here? 🙂 Just kidding — it was pretty neat to learn more about the history of the genre and see all sorts of country music memorabilia, including costumes, guitars, records, and even giant cars once owned by Elvis and the likes. The museum is humongous, and I’m sure if you stopped to read every bit of signage on display, you could spend all day there. And how about that purple wolf jacket below? I know what Craig’s getting for his birthday this year…

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Tennessee Brew Works::
After we were finished up with all of the touristy items on our list, we met up with our friend Danielle for a beer tasting and some football watching at Tennessee Brew Works. We love trying out new breweries, and I really liked that at this one, you can sit down restaurant-style and order either a flight of different beers or just choose your favorite brew to sip on. The Georgia/South Carolina game ended up being delayed quite a bit due to weather, so we made our way over to M. Street Tavern for the remainder of the night. Such a fun way to end our touristy trip through Music City! 
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wonderful wedding weekend in the big easy:: part 1

Last weekend we traveled to the great city of New Orleans to celebrate my dear friend Meg and her love Jason at their wedding. As I probably mentioned in the post about Meg’s bachelorette trip, she was one of the very first friends I made at UGA, and we have made so many memories together. I had the pleasure of meeting Jason right after college when we visited Meg in Colorado Springs, where she’d taken a job. Jason worked with Meg, but lived in Boulder, so we convinced her that we should go up for the night to visit this guy she told us about… and the rest is history!

Meg is from New Orleans and we visited her hometown several times throughout college. It may sometimes get a bad rap, but I love it for the culture and beautiful architecture and great food and lively music. We stayed at the Bienville House Hotel in the French Quarter for the weekend, and we were able to walk almost everywhere we needed to go. The Bienville is a historic boutique hotel with one of the tiniest elevators I’ve ever been in, but it also has surprisingly large rooms. We had a view of the fire station across the street, so I felt quite safe. 🙂

Craig, our friend Karen, and I arrived Thursday afternoon and spent the evening wandering the streets of the Quarter, sampling the obligatory frozen daiquiris, and eating Mexican food with a funny little dancing waiter until we were able to meet up with a couple other college friends who live there.

Outside of the Bienville House::

The Bienville House Hotel::

Morning walk past Jackson Square::

Fried, sugary goodness and creamy hot chocolate at Cafe du Monde::

Meg’s Bridesmaids Luncheon at Antoine’s Restaurant — open since 1840:: 

The Rex Room — one of the most gorgeous rooms I’ve ever been in! The walls are lined with photos and memorabilia from the Rex crew, which I believe is the largest Mardi Gras crew. How perfect is this for a girly luncheon?

The bride and her Tri Delta ladies::

Meg and all of her bridesmaids::

Meg and her beautiful mom and sisters::

Rehearsal at the Academy of the Sacred Heart::

Rehearsal Dinner/Cocktail Party venue in the Quarter. The lighting in the courtyard was romantic, and the house itself was so beautiful. It was the perfect venue for all of Meg and Jason’s wedding party, family, and out-of-town guests to gather and celebrate before their big day!

UGA girls::

The couple of honor::

To be continued!