Scenes From Staycation

Today is pretty much the most depressing day ever because it’s back to work after a really, REALLY awesome week off. It’s been so fun relaxing, sleeping, spending time outside, and celebrating with friends, family, and each other. I want to share our (mostly) staycation with you guys today, so here’s the day by day rundown of our week:

Friday night
We stayed in and made blackberry mojitos and fish tacos to enjoy while finishing season 3 of The Walking Dead. Does anyone own season 4 that we could borrow?

Blackberry Mojito

Saturday
After hitting up the Waltham Farmer’s Market in the morning, we ventured up to Gloucester where the engagement happened.

Engagement in Gloucester

After we got home from our day trip and dinner, my parents stopped in for hugs and a glass of champagne while we relayed the story.

Engagement: Parents

We drank the champagne on our front porch, which Tim’s parents decorated while we were away for the day. So thoughtful! This picture doesn’t really do it justice because it was hard to capture the porch in one shot, but you get the idea.

Engagement: Porch

Sunday
On Sunday we slept in and then called and texted what felt like a bajillion people. I also got my nails done before planning an impromptu celebratory BBQ at our apartment with some of our favorite friends.

Engagement BBQ: Friends

Engagement BBQ: Friends

Engagement BBQ: Me and Ashley

Engagement BBQ: Me and TimEngagement BBQ: Me and TimEngagement BBQ: Lexa and LaylaEngagement BBQ: Girls

I just realized that we didn’t get a single picture of any of the men who came to celebrate. Oh well!

Monday

On Monday, Tim and I were finally able to get a beach day in. We headed back up to Gloucester and spent several hours relaxing at Wingaersheak Beach.

Staycation 2014: Wingaersheak Beach

On the way home, we stopped at the jeweler to square some things away with my ring. We spent the rest of the night cleaning up from the BBQ the day before, and then I went to bed early since I was teaching class the next morning.

Tuesday

Tuesday morning was an early gym day for me. I taught an outdoor Tabata stations bootcamp workout on the basketball court, and then I stuck around to do a strength workout since I hadn’t exercised Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

Staycation: Bootcamp

After the gym, Tim and I packed up the car and headed first to work to pick up our CSA produce and then to a nearby lake to get our first kayak of the season in. It was a beautiful day, and we just floated around while enjoying the water. We also had a picnic lunch, Tim did some fishing, and I did some sunbathing.

Staycation: Kayaking

Wednesday

Unfortunately, I woke up on Wednesday not feeling so hot. My throat hurt, my head felt cloudy, and I felt stuffed up. I was seriously annoyed because who gets a head cold in July? I made it through the entire winter without being too sick and then I felt all stuffed up on vacation? Gah. Anyways, I slept for 12 hours from 10pm Tuesday night to Wednesday morning. On Wednesday we didn’t do anything outside since it was so humid. Instead, I got another strength workout in with a cardio finisher to try to sweat out the stuffiness. The rest of the day I spent inside getting some things done around the apartment and shopping at the mall for some new shorts. Tim and I also went out to dinner at night to try to beat some of the heat. We enjoyed a bunch of different small plates at Temple in Cambridge before calling it a night.

Staycation: Temple Bar

Thursday

I woke up Thursday feeling better. I was still stuffy, but without the head pressure and sore throat, so we packed up the car and headed down the Cape for the next three days. I wasn’t going to let a little cold ruin the rest of our time off!

4th of July 2014: Cape

We got to my uncle’s Cape house around noon, ate lunch, and then met my parents and Uncle Chris at the beach. We stayed at the beach for about three hours before stopping by our favorite Cape Cod bar, The Summer Shanty, for a few drinks.

July 4th 2014: Summer Shanty

July 4th 2014: Summer Shanty

July 4th 2014 Summer Shanty

We spent the rest of the night just hanging out, grabbing a bite to eat, and having some more drinks.

Friday

The weather on Friday wasn’t as horrible down the Cape as it was everywhere else in Massachusetts, but it still was no beach day. Tim and I woke up and went for a three-mile run to start our 4th of July. It was still humid, so we appreciated when it rained a bit on us during our run!

July 4th 2014: Running

4th of July 2014: Post Run

When we got back, my aunt, uncle, cousin, and grandfather arrived. We spent all day just hanging out together at the house, eating, drinking, and playing cornhole.

4th of July 2014: Breakfast

4th of July 2014: Cape

4th of July 2014: Cape

4th of July 2014: Cape

4th of July 2014: Cape

4th of July 2014: Chickpea Salad

4th of July 2014: Cape Meal

After dinner, Tim and I were on the porch when all of a sudden everyone came out with a big cake singing what they thought was the wedding song but was really the graduation song. It was hilarious! My uncle made Tim put on a big fourth of July hat with a little tux pinned to it, and he made me put on a light up fourth of July crown that he attached a little veil to. Then they made us cut the cake and take one thousand pictures.

4th of July 2014: Cake

July 4th 2014: Cake July 4th 2014: Cake

As you can see, Tim smashed the cake in my face, and I told him that it better have been the first and last time he did that! The rest of the night included games, strawberry prosecco floats, and more relaxation.

4th of July 2014: Strawberry prosecco floats

Saturday

When we woke up on Saturday morning, the weather still wasn’t so hot, so I did the Baby, You’re A Firework workout that I posted last week. Once the sun popped out, Tim and I packed up our things and said good-bye to my family.

July 4th 2014: cape

We then headed to the opposite side of the Cape to visit with our friends Jeff, Jill, Cate, Joe, and Nicole for the afternoon. I was happy to squeeze in another couple of hours at the beach and see baby Hannah.

July 4th 2014: Falmouth

We left the Cape around 6:30 to go to Katrina’s parents house (halfway home for us) where she was throwing Geoff a surprise 30th birthday party. We wrapped up the night with more fun friends and some night swimming. Geoff was surprised and happy, and I was happy we could be there for his day.

Staycation: Geoffs 30th

Sunday

Cue Sunday blues. A lot of the day was spent catching up from our week off, but I was able to sneak off to the pool to meet Slesh for a couple last hours of sunshine and last minute wedding talk. I cannot believe her big day is in less than a week!

Staycation: Pool with Slesh

And that’s that! Do I have to be back in the office today?

–Let’s chat–
What’s been going on with you in the past week? How did you spend your 4th of July? How are you enjoying summer?
Do you have any time off to look forward to?

Slesh’s Bridal Shower

At the end of April, I helped throw my best friend’s bridal shower.

Slesh's Bridal Shower

On the Friday before the shower, I drove with Slesh to her parents’ house in Connecticut. Her sister, niece, and our friend Erica met us there. Her parents were very gracious and had a delicious spread of food waiting for us when we arrived. I had a lot of fun just hanging out while drinking wine and catching up with Slesh’s family. It was exactly the kind of low-key night I needed and was craving.

In the morning, we woke up bright and early to get ready and set up for Slesh’s special day. The shower was held at a venue called Tashua Knolls. The room we had the shower in was very pretty, bright, and open, and Slesh’s mom and sister did a wonderful job with all the venue details.

Slesh's Bridal Shower

Aren’t the colors and flowers so pretty? Slesh’s sister put these centerpieces together herself!

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Flowers

The shower wasn’t a surprise, but we had Will walk Slesh in anyways.

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Slesh and Will

As everyone began to arrive, guests mingled while helping themselves to mimosas from the mimosa fountain.

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Mimosa Fountain

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Mimosa Fountain

Slesh's Bridal Shower

Slesh's Bridal Shower

Slesh's Bridal Shower

Since we weren’t playing any shower games, the bridal party decided to set up a few different things around the room for people to look at and fill out instead. Aside from the larger frames below, each table had a picture of Slesh and Will and a picture of Slesh from her younger years.

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Frames

People got a kick out of looking at pictures like these!

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Baby Slesh

Slesh's Bridal Shower

We also set up a recipe box for guests to drop their favorite recipes in. On the back of the shower invitations, we included this text: “Caitlin and Will are ready to say ‘I do.’ They’ve got love, but they need to eat too! Enclosed is a card to fill out your favorite recipe.” I love this idea, and now Slesh and Will can have a solid recipe collection for the future.

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Recipe Box

Next to the recipes was a spot for guests to display their own wedding albums so that we could enjoy viewing the different styles across generations! I unfortunately didn’t snap a picture of this table, but some of the old school pictures were really cool to see.

Next was the “Meet the Maids” table. I asked each member of the bridal party to do  a little write-up of how long they’ve known Slesh, where they met, and what their favorite memories together are. I then framed the write-ups in these pretty teal shadow frames and included a  picture of each of us as well.

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Meet the Maids

It took me forever to decide on just one picture, but here’s a close-up of the one I ended up choosing. That’s Slesh and me from junior year of college!

me and slesh

Finally, the last “station” we set up was one where guests could write some words of wisdom and fun date night ideas for Slesh and Will to read through after the shower was over.

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Words of Wisdom

After about 45 minutes of catching up, everyone was ready to eat. We served brunch, but I think the real highlight was the make your own sundae table for dessert!

Slesh's Bridal Shower

Slesh's Bridal Shower

Slesh's Bridal Shower

Slesh was nervous for gift opening, but she did a great job! We had a really effective assembly line too: Ashley was in charge of bringing the presents over, Mary helped Slesh open them, I carried and lifted all the boxes to another spot to get them out of the way, and Erica was on trash and paper plate bouquet duty.

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Gifts

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Gifts

Slesh's Bridal Shower

I prayed the whole time I wouldn’t drop a gift. Success!

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Gifts

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Gifts

The bridal party gave Slesh a wine themed gift. We chipped in to buy Slesh and Will the crystal wine glasses that were on their registry, but we also found a cute basket that matched Slesh’s wedding colors so we could fill the basket with other fun wine things as well.

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Gift

We included chocolates, cocktail napkins, a framed copy of the shower invitation, and four bottles of wine. We labeled each of the bottles of wine with a “first.” We used “to drink before your honeymoon,” “to drink on your first Valentine’s Day as a married couple,” “to drink the first night in your first home,” and “to drink after your first fight as a married couple.” We attached little poems to each of them too.

Slesh's Bridal Shower

Slesh's Bridal Shower

Slesh's Bridal Shower

Finally, we also included one final poem that announced what we are planning to do for the bachelorette party this coming weekend (wine tour in New York!), and we made Slesh read it out loud.

Slesh's Bridal Shower

After the gifts, we made Slesh hold up her bouquet of bows. She better save that for the rehearsal dinner when we practice walking down the aisle!

 

Slesh's Bridal Shower

We also took advantage of the sun that came out for a few outdoor photo ops:

Slesh's Bridal Shower

Slesh's Bridal Shower

Slesh's Bridal Shower

On the way out, everyone took home two favors: white chocolate M&Ms in a candy tin and homemade pepper sticks made from Slesh’s grandmother’s recipe. Yum to both!

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Favors

The day was a big success and a wonderful way to start the countdown to the BIG DAY which is coming up so soon. But first, the bachelorette party! We’ll be heading to NYC this coming weekend. I can’t wait!

Slesh's Bridal Shower: Bridal Party

–Let’s chat–
Have you ever been involved with hosting and/or planning a bridal shower before? What unique touches did you incorporate into it? Did you play any games? Any cute theme gift ideas you can share? Does anyone have any fun bachelorette games or ideas you can suggest for this weekend?

I would love to hear what you guys have done before!

Chicago Adventures

At the beginning of April, I went on a work trip to Minneapolis. The best part about that work trip was that I got to tack on personal travel to Chicago for a girls weekend with my gym friends, Jen (the one who lives in Canada) and Ashley.

Here’s my weekend recap, which you may have already read about weeks ago in Jen’s recap posts here and here. Also, a lot of picture credit for the photos in this post go to both Jen and Ashley. My phone was uncooperative at many points during the weekend, so I made them send me pictures I could steal and use for F&F. Thanks ladies!

Chicago Adventures

I landed around 3pm on Friday and found Jen at the Starbucks at the “base of the Y” at my terminal. Get it? We decided to meet at the base of the Y in the airport because in real life we met in the basement of the Y. Yup, we’re cool. I was so excited to see Jen after not seeing her since her wedding that we had several elevator and train and even walking mishaps on the way to the hotel, but it didn’t even matter because the street smelled like brownie sundaes and we were all yayy and chatty and reunited. Don’t ask.

Once we found Ashley (who had already taken care of check in and the most important job of buying SNACKS), we walked down Michigan Ave to the Signature Room in the John Hancock building to start our weekend off right. By that I mean ordering pink cocktails with a view.

Chicago: Signature Room

Chicago Signature Room

Chicago: Signature Room Ashley and Me

For dinner we went to a Mexican restaurant called Mercadito, where I had one of the most delicious margaritas I’ve ever had in my life.

Chicago: Mercadito Margaritas

We were psyched to snag patio seating, even if limited to only 90 minutes. We ordered chips and guac (duh) and three different kinds of tacos to share. They didn’t disappoint.

Chicago: Mercadito TacosI think the best part of the weekend was just hanging out, relaxing, and talking over good food!

Chicago Margaritas at Mercadito

After dinner, we continued on to a piano bar called The Redhead. This place made me think of my friend Bridget because she’s a ginger.

Chicago: The Readhead

We were hoping for a slightly different scene (aka more dancing, less old people), but we hung out for a bit while sipping really strong (too strong) martinis. Then we laughed about being old women drinking martinis at a piano bar. Shoot. Finally, our last stop was back at our hotel bar. This place had every possible chair, sofa, loveseat, and ottoman combination you can think of, all set up in different places, so naturally we had a little fun with that.

On Saturday we woke up and grabbed bagels before going on our bike tour! Since we were doing the Bikes, Bites, and Brews tour, we probably didn’t need to carb up before carb loading all day, but what fun is vacation without extra carbs?

Chicago: Bobby's Bike Hike
Backing up for a minute: when Jen and Ashley said they wanted to do a bike tour, I was REALLY nervous. Like really, really nervous. I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was fifteen years old, and I was honestly having a bit of anxiety about navigating through the streets of Chicago. I gave myself a pep talk though, and made myself follow my own advice about getting out of my comfort zone. This is silly to admit, but to prepare I went over to Slesh’s apartment and had her watch me ride her bike in the parking lot down the street. Yup. It was like I was a six-year-old child learning to ride a two-wheeler for the first time. I guess you can only ask your best friend for help with something like that.

Text

But just for the record, the saying really is true. It’s like… riding a bike. You don’t forget how. Our lesson lasted about five minutes, and I was fine, but I’m glad I did that to ease my nerves before gracefully cycling through city streets.

Here are some scenes from our bike adventures:

Chicago: Bike Tour

Jen got to wear the reflective vest because she volunteered to be safety patrol and bring up the rear of our tour! She’s so responsible.

Chicago Bike Tour

Our tour had three scheduled food stops along the way. The first was at Gino’s East for deep dish pizza. Deep dish pizza with corn bread crust, might I add.

Chicago Bike Tour: Ginos East

The second was for dessert at an awesome cupcakery called Swirlz. The cupcakes were to die for.

Chicago Swirlz Cupcakes

And the third food stop was for a Chicago style hot dog at a place called Murphy’s Red Hots. No ketchup, lots of toppings.

Chicago: Hot Dogs at Murphys

Aside from the food, we stopped a couple of times along the way for some photo ops. I do wish the tour guide gave us a little more background on Chicago history or fun facts about the neighborhoods as we biked through, but I think the other tours are better suited for that!

Chicago Bike Tour2

The end of the tour included two stops for beers. The first was in the Wrigley Field area. I was so excited for this part because my Yiayia grew up in Chicago and was always a fan of the Cubs!

Chicago: Wrigley Field

Chicago Wrigley Field

The first bar stop was at Murphy’s Bleachers, where I tried the Three Floyd’s Gumballhead. Wheat beer + citrus = yes.

Chicago: Murphys Bleachers

The second beer stop was at a restaurant called RJ Grunts. This place apparently invented the salad bar? I wish we could have stayed longer there, and I also wish we got more than just an itty bitty pour of beer.

Chicago: RJ Grunts
Finally, our last stop of the bike tour was along the water. Pretty views!

Chicago along the water

After our bike tour, we headed back to our hotel to drink prosecco, eat snacks, and jam out relax, clean up, and get changed for the night.

Chicago: Snacking

For dinner we ate at Gene and Georgetti, a really old school steakhouse that Ashley’s family has connections with. We continued our day of eating with big salads, (huge) steaks, asparagus, and a bottle of red wine.

Chicago: Gene and Georgetti

Chicago: Gene and Georgetti's

After dinner, we continued on for more wine at a more modern steakhouse and bar, Chicago Cut. Loved the vibe here, and we could browse the menu on an iPad. Fancy shmancy.

Chicago DrinksFinally, we finished our night at a Second City comedy show (no pictures!). Since all three of us are trying to save money, we opted to go to the hour long post show for free at 1am after the main showtime, but I really really wish we had just splurged on tickets to the real thing because we were laughing so hard.

The next morning we woke up and headed to a place called Rockit for brunch. Mimosas were a must, and I ordered a California omelette (WHY are omelettes with guacamole the best?) and one of the best side fruit salads I’ve ordered. A side fruit salad is solid in my book when it has more than just honeydew melon in it. Amiright?

Chicago: Rockit

We only had a couple of hours left to walk around the city before we had to catch our flights, so we did a little tourist action at Millenium Park and at the bean.

Chicago: Millenium Park

Chicago: The BeanChicago: The Bean

Chicago: Touring

We did a little more walking around and finished our day at Ghirardelli’s for some chocolate in beverage form.

Chicago: Ghirardellis

It was such an awesome weekend, but as expected, it FLEW by. I felt like the second we got there it was time to leave! I was really sad to have to part ways with the girls on Sunday (especially my sad hug goodbye with Jen in the airport), but after being away from Tim and home for a whole week, I was happy to be home. I love traveling and getting away, but there’s just nothing like that feeling of landing back in Beantown.

–Let’s chat–
Have you ever been to Chicago? What’s your favorite part of the city, restaurant, or thing to do? When’s the last time you rode a bike? Also, when can I go back to Chicago?!

I think I could live there!