Thankful

Tis the season to remember what we’re thankful for, so I figured a quick list was in order!

  • Family near and far, almost all of whom I’ve been able to see at some time this year
  • Friends, oh friends, how wonderful you’ve been this year! From weddings to smaller celebrations to walks for water and coffee in the office, I’ve been so lucky to have such great friends. Moving across the country last year was a challenge, but my friends, new and old, constantly remind me that I have so much to be thankful for.
  • My future
  • A great year closing out that was full of new experiences (engagement, Miami, New York, the list goes on…)
  • Leo – he continually supports me in every decision I make which makes life wonderful
  • Travel and everything that comes¬†it, including the wonderful folks at Southwest who make travel a breeze, the strangers who have given us directions and recommendations…and I’m really thankful that I’m able to travel. I know it is a luxury that I work hard for, but I’m truly thankful for the opportunities I have to see the country. And next year – maybe another country. ūüôā
  • Coffee
  • Books
  • People who recommend books
  • The Library! Since I started volunteering at the Denver Public Library, I’ve been extra thankful for this public service. They let you take books home for weeks at a time — FOR FREE. Imagine that.
  • Eggs (don’t judge – I love the little suckers and feel that all good meals made full of love often have eggs in them)
  • Technology. Say what you want about how important it is to shut down and turn off once in a while (I agree), but technology provides me a job, let’s me FaceTime with my parents whenever I want and keep in touch with friends and family around the world. That’s a great thing.
  • Chocolate and/or ice cream. It stands with coffee as one of those things that makes everything better.
  • Christmas. I love everything good about it and happily turn a blind eye to much of the negative aspects of the holiday season. There is enough good to downplay the bad.
  • Flannel shirts (times 7 because that’s how many I bought at a pre-black friday sale. Oops.)
  • Monogrammed everything. For this I¬†blame the College Prepster and Cinco Powell. See, I won a customized monogrammed Cinco Powell bag on the College Prepster blog, and I’ve been getting tons of compliments and suddenly, I have a new obsession.
  • Writing, and more importantly, the time to do it in this month.
  • Lady Grey tea, a softer, more citrusy version of Earl Grey which has been in my cup almost as much as coffee this fall and into the winter.
  • Magazines – especially Town and Country, Smithsonian and Bon Appetit this month.

Like I said, I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Cheers to this year and the year ahead!

xoxo,

E

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It’s been a while…

But here we are amid the chillier weather and family feasts, happy and warm. I cannot be more thrilled with the incredible year that is coming to a close this month. Some very scary and exciting things are on the horizon – hi new job for me! and position for Leo! – but for this next month, I’m slowing down and being thankful.

Before starting my job with a new company, I took some time for myself and am so thankful for the opportunity to really slow down and enjoy the holidays with my family and friends.

We got started this weekend visiting Leo’s dad in Kansas City, an absolute favorite city in America kind of place. While only one picture came from the weekend, I had a wonderful time being welcomed into a family’s home with 27 other family members. That is reason alone to be gracious and thankful!

 

Other stops on our weekend included¬†Anton’s KC: a fascinating taproom, eatery and butcher shop. A+ service and a standout burger with fries. The Mac ‘N Cheese, while not the best I’ve ever had, was worth it for the table to share. Gouda makes for good mac ‘n cheese. If you go, make sure to check out the hydroponics system in the basement to see where your ¬†spices and fish are coming from.¬†Antons Logo

 

We also spent some time in Westport for beers and cocktails, including Harry’s and Buzzard Beach, with friends whose families live in KC. KCMO knows how to do a dive bar for sure! And of course, tons of football on the couch, some competitive rounds of Rummy and laughing with Leo and his family. A wonderful weekend for sure.

 

 

 

Grand Lake with Grand Views

Earlier this summer Leo and I took a quick one day trip into the mountains to meet with some friends from Chicago. The cabin we stayed in was perfect. A family cabin built by the family in the 1970s was the perfect backdrop for s’mores by the fire and watching the moon come up over the evergreens. Absolutely wonderful for a quick run out of the city.

After we got in, we grilled up burgers, hot dogs and corn while sipping on ice cold beers and laughing with old friends. A needed taste of something slower for sure. Until the next time I’m in the mountains, this is what’ll I’ll be thinking of.

Grand Lake
Pretty skies over a pretty, but ice cold lake
Grand Lake Town Sign
Side of the road sign scenery.
Driving out of Grand Lake
Driving out of Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Taking in the views on Grand Lake!

Travel: The Hotel of South Beach

We found The Hotel of South Beach for our long weekend in Miami and couldn’t have been happier. A boutique, art deco hotel one block off the ocean with a perfect rooftop pool? Perfect.

The rooms aren’t big – boutique art deco means small – but gorgeous, fully adequate and very Miami feeling. The rest of hotel was magical as well. Even more so, the service was mind-blowing. The guys at the desk, the bell hop, the valet, the other guys in the lobby — all went out of their way to take care of us.

Miami isn’t known for its service, but these guys were impeccable. I call them “guys” because they were literally all guys and joked with Leo about having the guts to wear a Cavaliers jersey in Heat-country, made sure I never lifted a bag on my own, held doors and shot the shit with Leo at every chance they had. Loved them.

This kind of service isn’t midwestern hospitality – it didn’t feel coached or like it was expected. It was almost an unspoken bond between Leo and the staff, which I didn’t need to be in on, but they all were. The team at the Hotel of South Beach treated us like royalty and their old friends at the same time. Perfection. The service alone would draw 5 stars from us, but add in the room, bathroom, pool and reserved chairs on the beach? Is more than 5 stars even possible?

Possibly the best part? Roof top pool overlooking the ocean that never had more than five people on the deck, a bar and cabanas for sipping cocktails and towels brought to you as needed. Of course, I forgot to take even mobile pictures of the pool or the hotel. Oh well, you get the gist.

This is living.

Lounging at the pool looking at the ocean. Utter peace with service as needed.
Lounging at the pool looking at the ocean. Utter peace with service as needed.
Apparently you aren't supposed to wear Cavs jerseys in Miami? Didn't slow Leo down.
Apparently you aren’t supposed to wear Cavs jerseys in Miami? Didn’t slow Leo down.

Travel: Sunrise on South Beach

Following dinner at the delicious Havana 1957, we headed to meet with a friend of Leo’s from high school and his girlfriend. We went to their apartment complex – equal to a resort in my eyes, with the views and the pools (yes, plural) of the nicest resorts – and partied late into the night. Meeting folks I can only describe as classic Miami – models (yes, really) and entrepreneurs – was a blast and relaxing on a patio overlooking the beautiful city and the water couldn’t be beat!

While we were leaving, our friends suggested heading back to the beach to enjoy the sunrise and breakfast back on the side of the island where our hotel was. We had a romantic morning goofing around on the beach, watching the sun come up, wading into the ocean and watching as the city slowly woke up before we’d even gone to bed!

This is South Beach Miami.

A quiet South Beach bright and early in the morning.
A quiet South Beach bright and early in the morning.
I'm not one to stay up all night, so I requested proof in the form of a photograph....
I’m not one to stay up all night, so I requested proof in the form of a photograph….
Which turned into a little photoshoot!
Which turned into a little photoshoot!
Leo managed to capture me at my best angle despite being up still at 7 am!
Leo managed to capture me at my best angle despite being up still at 7 am!
Trying to keep the purse dry, but hardly caring because the water was so warm.
Trying to keep the purse dry, but hardly caring because the water was so warm.
Love him and love Miami. Just lots of love.
Love him and love Miami. Just lots of love.
Cell phone in hand about to be a photographer.
Cell phone in hand about to be a photographer.
Watching the sun come up with the love of my life. Amazing.
Watching the sun come up with the love of my life. Amazing.
This sums up the whole trip - relaxing.
This sums up the whole trip – relaxing.

Travel: Havana 1957

While this place was on the beaten path of South Beach's popular Espanola Way, the flavors and impeccable service did not disappoint.
While this place was on the beaten path of South Beach’s popular Espanola Way, the flavors and impeccable service did not disappoint.

I dream of one day going to Cuba, but due to some, ahem, restrictions, it isn’t happening anytime soon. My May visit to Miami, almost a celebration of our engagement, only fueled that desire even more!

One of my favorite evenings of the trip started on Espanola Way on South Beach. The strip of restaurants has everything you can imagine, but we landed at Havana 1957 at the suggestion of our wonderful hotel staff. Our wish was for authentic Cuban cuisine without venturing too far from where we were staying.

They suggested reservations. We ignored, not wanting to commit without scoping the place first. But the enormous smile of the hostess and her warm welcome pulled us right into this open air Cuban restaurant. All the wait staff, dressed in white and red,  sauntered around the crowded, though not overly so, restaurant, bar and patio with a rhythm that my Anglo ancestry will never afford me. Bummer.

The staff humored me with the assumption that I spoke Spanish (my recently colored dark brown hair and hispanic fiance may have helped my case, but I think they were just being kind) and Juan Carlo, our waiter, charmed us completely. At his suggestion, we each ordered a standard Cuba Libre with a selected rum. With real Coke in a glass bottle poured over a tasty rum, I was sold before even eating dinner!

Alas, we were there to eat. I was craving seafood being so close to the ocean from land-locked Denver, but Leo wanted red meat. I ordered the Pescada a la Plancha, again at Juan Carlo’s suggestion, and was not disappointed. Fresh food with light flavors absolutely hit the spot on a hot evening on South Beach. The dish comes with a side salad, but I recommend swapping it for the black beans which are absolutely incredible.

Leo chose the Churrasco a la Cubana, a flank steak with grilled onions, white rice and black beans. It is amazing what the chef makes white rice and black beans taste like. Words would fail me, and disappoint the chef so I won’t try.

Anyways, the restaurant was a perfect dinner out, and we finished it with a walk up and down Espanola Way before heading out on the town for a Friday in South Beach.

Located right on the corner of Washington and Espanola Way, this is a perfect place for a romantic dinner with a uniquely Cuban flair.
Located right on the corner of Washington and Espanola Way, this is a perfect place for a romantic dinner with a uniquely Cuban flair.
At night, this lights up with all the restaurants and bustle of visitors to South Beach.
At night, this lights up with all the restaurants and bustle of visitors to South Beach.
Leo and I so happy after dinner and a walk along Espanola Way.
Leo and I so happy after dinner and a walk along Espanola Way.
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Travel: Miami on my Mind

We sat along this street and watched people for hours.
We sat along this street and watched people for hours.

Back in May, I had the chance to visit Miami with the love of my life for a luxurious three day weekend. What a treat!

I flew in to Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday night, Leo scooped me up and we stayed downtown (in the Brickell neighborhood).

Friday, I was on my own to explore the downtown area for a few hours, walk around the business district and explore a harbor on Biscayne Bay. I started the morning with my first shellac mani (amazing!) at a little french/spanish salon. Then, it was all wandering, saying hi to the creatures on the fire hydrants and dreaming about living on the ocean.

We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday on South Beach and it was an absolute dream! A few snapshots below, but highlights included a dinner at Havana 1957 (top ten meal and cocktail memories of my life, more to come on this one), afternoons on South Beach looking at beautiful, exotic people and fashion, and our amazing art deco boutique hotel — the Hotel of South Beach.

More pictures to come this week, but just going through these gives me butterflies. Miami is one of the most incredible places I’ve been, and hearing multiple different languages, trying different ethnic foods and lounging at the pool – doesn’t get much better! Throw in fresh mojitos and I’d call Miami a ten.

Miami Beach Patrol
Miami Beach Patrol
A quick walk along the beach before heading for the airport.
A quick walk along the beach before heading for the airport.

South Beach Walkway

Versace's house on South Beach.
Versace’s house on South Beach.
Walking around the business district (Brickell) admiring palm trees and beautiful people.
Walking around the business district (Brickell) admiring palm trees and beautiful people.
Oh the colors of Art Deco in South Beach!
Oh the colors of Art Deco in South Beach!
Awesome mural on the street. Feels like Miami, right?
Awesome mural on the street. Feels like Miami, right?
Hi little guy! Met along my walk in the neighborhood around Brickell.
Hi little guy! Met along my walk in the neighborhood around Brickell.
A marina in Miami - great for people watching and dreaming about living on the ocean.
A marina in Miami – great for people watching and dreaming about living on the ocean.
If I lived in Miami, this would be my view walking to work. A girl can dream.
If I lived in Miami, this would be my view walking to work. A girl can dream.
Link

10 Awesome Cultural Tours That Will Make You Feel Like A Local

10 Awesome Cultural Tours That Will Make You Feel Like A Local

“It‚Äôs not unheard of for visitors in a foreign country to spend so much time with other like-minded vacationers at top tourist destinations that they never uncover the more underground, local attractions.”

This article explores, “how can a culturally curious tourist find genuine local experiences in a world of sanitized tourist traps?”

Love it. Haven’t been to any of these places, but I wouldn’t mind it. Add these destinations to the honeymoon roster.¬†

Writing down priorities

Five days in the wide open space, relaxing with my family, getting in touch with what matters. I really couldn’t have experienced a better quick holiday.

Part of the process of grounding myself in priorities has been to write them down. New notebooks with pretty details always help that! Here’s to prioritizing what matters – all that I love and cherish. This especially includes my family who all too often fall to the back burner amongst other obligations.

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