My other home for the Holidays – Georgia

The place that I run to when I need a break from the real world is a little southern wonderland tucked in the hilly lands on the outskirts of Atlanta. While I couldn’t spend everyday in Georgia where my parents live, it is my favorite place to vacation to when I really want to get away. I love waking up here and going to sleep here – a full rejuvenation happens a few times a year in these woody hills. 

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Spending Christmas here for the past – what is it four years now? No, three – is an absolute joy! I’m obsessed with the little black creatures that wake me up every morning and from long naps by the fireplace.

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Cooking with my dad is always a favorite – and this Christmas Day was no different. We made German Pancakes (thanks, Robin, for an amazing recipe that was a huge crowd pleaser) and thick cut bacon from the butcher on my dad’s new cast iron cookware, a gift from yours truly. And check out those egg-making skills from earlier in the week at home! The man has multiple pans to make eggs in whatever style desired. Over-medium for me, sunny-side up for him and basted for my grandma. Whatta champ. 

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The coffee consumed and the time spent shopping with my mom is also a favorite memory from this holiday. We go to stores and laugh, laugh, laugh, catch up on life and enjoy each other’s company. Then we run home and wrap everything! I didn’t shop for a single gift prior to landing in Georgia and I’ll be following that method of gift shopping from this day forward. It is way more fun and I get to spend time with my mama!

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Somehow I don’t have a single picture of my mom and I from Christmas…that’s going to have to fixed next year! But I’ll end this sunset on my last full day at home to remind of the place I’ll return to in a few months. 

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and cheers to the New Year!

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New traditions: Christmas Eve Party

Can’t help starting this post with the latest addition to the family, Ms. Maggie and her pretty Christmas bow. 

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My parents explained to my brother and I that the Newc family (dad’s family, see where I get my blog name from?) had a wonderful Christmas Eve party every year. Thinking back on my childhood, I remember getting all dressed up and going to grandparents in Wilmette on Christmas Eve and hobnobbing with my family and their friends. Mixing of memories or my true youthful Christmas Eves – not sure…

My grandfather owned a boat with a wonderful man that taught himself seven languages who I remember being fascinated by as a kid. My grandmother is a silhouette artist and the house was always full of her work and sailing antiques. We would change the ink in the barometer (maybe? Papa – correct me here!) and eat cheese and crackers and drink rootbeer – soda was a treat we didn’t have often at home. Haven’t thought of these things until my parent’s Christmas Eve party this year!

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There is something wonderfully relaxing about spending the day before Christmas with friends, new neighbors and old, and family, sharing in family food traditions and holiday cheer without the pressure of a format sit down dinner. Crowd favorites were baked brie with orange marmalade, homemade Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches, spiral ham and Waldorf salad. Cheesecake from the store and homemade brownies rounded out the evening and everyone left full, happy and in good spirits for the holiday ahead. 

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Now possibly the best part to all of this — Christmas Day had zero pressure. No rush to get ready for fancy dinner, no rush to do anything except reading the books left under the tree by Mr. Clause. This is the first year that I can remember that we didn’t have my dad’s famous lasagna on Christmas Day, but he made it the day after so all is forgiven. This might be my new favorite holiday tradition – a Christmas Eve party followed by a relaxing Christmas Day spent in pajamas. 

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We’ll wrap this with Mr. Calvin, the king dog in the house. What are your favorite traditions? How are they evolving as you grow up?

A very merry cat lady Christmas

It’s the second week of January and I’m procrastinating putting away the tree and decorations. So instead, I’m sharing my family’s Christmas pictures – starting with a cat-nip-fueled photosession with my favorite cat, Tibbles. Drug-induced haze before 9 a.m. on Christmas morning? Making my drug and alcohol therapist mom proud.

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I spy a cat in the presents. 

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I spy a cat running away from the scene of the crime. 

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I spy a high cat.

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This mouse will not survive.

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Yum. Mouse tail. 

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I spy a cat coming back for more.  

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And then this lady shows up ruining all the fun and stealing the mouse toy. You win some, you lose some, according to the cat. 

Mountain escape and the best of friends

I’m incredibly blessed to have the folks in these pictures as friends. A few old, but mostly new since moving to Colorado, these are just a few of the people that make this place home.

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We went up to Beaver Creek to stay in Tom’s family’s condo a few months ago and I just found these pictures on my camera, so I figured I’d share. Late but not lost! Lot’s of drinking, eating great food and playing games up in the mountains. So refreshing! 

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My favorite couple making breakfast for the crew. Cute in their robes, and what you can’t see is that most of the group was also in their robes. This is luxury. 

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The girls giggling – you’d be amazed how long it took just to get one semi-decent shot of us! Alcohol was obviously involved and can be blamed for any poor photos. 🙂 

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Even portraits on shirts needs a sip of the apple pie drink – the greatest cocktail I’ve ever had. 

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And then there’s there two – we all go way back and I love both of them like family!

Mani(cure) Monday: Essie’s Fiji – a timeless classic

A close friend of mine in Chicago, Olivia, wears Essie’s Fiji always. And I always think it looks amazing on her. Super classic, feminine and crisp. I finally found it while shopping (at Bed Bath & Beyond of all places) and made sure it came home with me.

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Light pink is usually a bit too demure for me, but there are times when you need a classic, whether its for work, weddings or just a pretty girly nail, Fiji wins.

Mani(cure) Monday: Metallic fall ombre

After seeing metallic ombre nails all over Pinterest, I knew I wanted to try but found myself lacking the colors. Due to a self-imposed nail polish purchasing ban, I had to improvise. I used OPIs Warm and Fozzie, Glitzerland and Kyoto Pearl with China Glaze I’m Not Lion over it. 

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I used Essie No Chips Ahead as the top coat, but have quickly decided this is not a good topcoat. Sure, it doesn’t chip, but I get bubbles in my nails whenever I use it! Learning toward OPI RapidDry Topcoat as my top pick. 

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I think it came out pretty solid, what about you? What’s your favorite must-try fall fashion trend?

Mani(cure) Monday: Halloween nails

As the leaves change and the air gets chillier, I’ve been thinking about Halloween costumes to no avail. Suppose I’ll just stick to holiday-themed manicures like this one!

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Oh fall nails, how I love thee. Also, Sunday football is the greatest time to do nail art because each coat can dry fully before the next. This stuff takes patience people, patience. And now to figure out my halloween costume…

What are you going to be for Halloween? 

{trip report} Day 5: Carmel by the Sea

This place could be known as the quaintest oceanside town in California. The fact that a two bedroom, one bath bungalow costs more than 2 million dollars will keep me dreaming. My mom and I enjoyed shopping, I fell in love with no fewer than a hundred things and happened to make a purchase. Birkenstock’s! After two, yes two, big tow injuries, I needed something more solid to keep my feet safe as we hoofed it around the coast. Here’s just a few quick snaps of foggy/sunny Carmel by the Sea.

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Hand-dipped candles anyone?

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Give me this half door and tilework and I’ll be a happy girl.

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Pretty sign! But my favorite thing in the town…

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This piece of art with a crankshaft and various magnifying pieces of glass. And a clutch plate (I think — Papa, correct me If I’m wrong) brought it together. We stayed in this shop called Paloma’s home furnishings for more than an hour chatting with the shop manager (owner, not sure?) and drooled over their beautiful copper top tables. 

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We capped off a long day being tourists in Monterey (recap coming soon) with some treats from this cute little coffee shop. A carmel steamer put me right to sleep. My favorite pictures from the entire trip will be up soon – fog rolling into the rocky shores!

{trip report} Day 4: Hearst Castle in San Simeon

Castle? Middle of nowhere? Overlooking the ocean? Animals everywhere? The most incredible indoor pool I’ve ever seen? The most incredible outdoor pool I’ve ever seen? This William Randolph Hearst guy was onto something. Have a look at just a few of the TONS of pictures from Hearst Castle.

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Outdoor bliss. This pool is super deep on one end and shallower on the other. Stunning. 

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And then the indoor pool, serene and quiet. I definitely got the sense some amazing mid-evening jaunts took place here many years ago. With an inlet off the side, this pools offers secluded private spaces or bright open arenas for swimming.

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My brother acting as photographer. These girls were thrilled he knew how to use their camera. 

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Just me, hanging out. Pretending I own this picture-perfect spot.

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The photo above is my mom looking at the colors on the steps. She remarked that this is her perfect palette and I can’t help but agree. The exterior of the castle is the exact colors that I dream about in my perfect escape.

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The colors in this pool house are breathtaking. So much so, that I came back and took more photos of it. Seriously, I need to figure how to build a dream house with a pool like this one. Simply amazing and inspirational, as is Hearst’s legacy felt throughout the castle and grounds.  

Huge thanks to my bosses who recommended the Hearst Castle to us! It is a must-visit in Central California when you’re driving up the coast. We stayed at The Morgan in San Simeon, named after Hearst’s architect Julia Morgan. The room was beautiful and featured a similar color scheme.