My Weekly Photo Challenge submission this week is of the freshest thing in my life, my new niece! I had a mini photo shoot with her yesterday, a full post will be soon to come but here is one of my favorites for now. She’s at the fresh age of 8 days old! Meet Dylan:
Now that it’s (technically) spring, I finally have some trips (blog material) scheduled and I’m feeling somewhat rejuvenated after spending this past week in the sun! It has been kind of a gloomy winter and although the temperature hasn’t stayed too high I’m feeling hopeful that we are nearing spring.
I had a great opportunity with Joe’s family to go back to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida this past week! I hadn’t visited Disney for over 10 years! Needless to say we had a really great time, and it’s just as magical as I remember.
We stayed right on Disney property at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, choosing a resort to stay at was a tough decision since each seems to have so much to offer. Since we are all adults, we really enjoyed Epcot the most and since this resort was just a short 5-7 minute walk from Epcot it was definitely an ideal location. It is also located on an actual boardwalk lined with restaurants, shops and nightlife.
We arrived on Monday afternoon and flew home first thing on Friday morning. In that short amount of time we packed in a LOT of activities.
Day 1: Magic Kingdom: We had a 1 park per day pass factored into our rate so it was a tough decision what to do when. We really only spent a few hours at Magic Kingdom since we didn’t check into our hotel until around 3 PM and we had dinner reservations in Downtown Disney. We didn’t really research the setup of Disney enough ahead of time and didn’t quite realize the distances between parks. I think we would have spent more time here if we realized how far our dinner reservations were. My favorite ride here is definitely Splash Mountain, and of course seeing Cinderella’s Castle is always nostalgic :).
After Magic Kingdom we spent the evening at Downtown Disney- this isn’t technically a park it’s just an area owned by Disney with the most nightlife, shops, restaurants, live music and some great food stands. We came here a couple of times throughout the week. We ate dinner at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe which was really delicious. It’s mostly chain restaurants in this area and this was really exceptionally good. I would recommend this and Fulton’s Crab House for a nice sit down dinner in Downtown Disney. Followed by a life changing ice cream sundae at Ghirardelli :)
Day 2: Disney’s Hollywood Studios – we spent our morning here and used our Fast Passes for all the right rides. I’m not a huge fan of crazy rides so I did sit out on Tower of Terror and Rock n’ RollerCoaster, but if you are a fan of roller coasters and wild rides these are supposedly the two best! We waited in a long line for the Toy Story interactive game ride, which I loved and we also had a fast pass for the Indiana Jones show. All of these are highly recommended! We also spent some time at our great hotel pool.
Day 3: Epcot – This was definitely my favorite day. It was less overwhelmingly crowded and I loved everything about it here. I am a crazy foodie so I obviously loved going from country to country and buying small portions of tasty foods and drinks. I particularly loved the french bakery in France, we kicked off our morning with croissants and quiche! I would recommend using your Fast Passes here to go on Soarin’ and Test Track, those are two of my favorite rides at Disney. I also made a HUGE mistake while at Epcot and went on the Mission Space ride in future world. I get motion sickness very easily so I didn’t recover from this for an entire day!! I should have known to get off once I saw the puke bags in front of our seats.
We made dinner reservations for Chefs de France in France and it was the best meal I ate all week (and that’s saying a lot) the service was beyond amazing, the warm french baguettes were heavenly, and my french onion soup was the best I ever had. I love the country France so much maybe I was just happy to be transported back there for a few hours.
The fireworks/light show at 9 PM every night in Epcot is also not to be missed. I could have easily spent 2 full days in Epcot. Also, I almost forgot to mention it was the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival! The topiaries were great, and also the food stands were my favorite part.
Day 4: Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Best decision we made: get a fast pass for the safari! Such a great ride, but a very, very unbearable line to wait in. The wildlife reserve they have is great, it’s the closest I’ll get to an African safari for a while I guess. There was also a baby gorilla born 3 weeks ago that we could see really well! I loved that. I also loved how they talked about the issues with poaching elephants for ivory, and encouraged everybody to not buy ivory under any circumstance. Everest is a really great roller coaster here as well, I’m not a huge roller coaster fan but I could handle this one. We waited in line for this one and it was definitely worth it.
We spent our last night on the Boardwalk. We ate a delicious meal at Trattoria al Forno. None of us didn’t love our meal. We also ate breakfast here almost every day since it was right outside of our hotel and it was really great! The bakery on the boardwalk has some great homemade treats and there was always a line for ice cream. The environment on the Boardwalk at night is really fun and lively, and such a pretty view.
I didn’t think I’d be going back to Disney until I had kids of my own, but it proved to me that it’s fun for all ages! Not an inexpensive trip, but they do offer more budget friendly hotel options which I was impressed by.
My sister lived in New York City for years. We visited her in Park Slope in Brooklyn more times than I can count. Whenever I think about our weekends in Brooklyn I think of the extra layer of fat I would come home carrying from literally devouring the most amazing $5 cupcakes (we had to try the best one on every block), gourmet dinners, morning lattes and bagels in between meals. NYC is truly a food capital and with a family full of foodies we didn’t stand a chance.
My sister moved from Brooklyn to quite the contrary, Cortlandt Manor. We loved the idea of a change of scenery and of course being a little bit closer to my big eyed nephew. The area is shockingly rural and woodsy, as if it’s plucked right out of Vermont. It’s a huge change and the main judgement factor is most definitely food… and I’m happy to say it did NOT disappoint.
Despite the cold we went on some serious adventures on Saturday. To start we visited Peekskill which is about a 4 minute drive from the house. We waited in line at the Peekskill Coffee House, Joe and I split a hot chocolate and a gluten-free crepe with banana and nutella. Although it was a little early to be cracked out on chocolate it was beyond delicious, the crepe was piping hot with a perfect distribution of heavenly filling. The restaurant scene looks great, but we decided to head about 30 minutes away for the scenic drive and a destination of Beacon.
We heard that Beacon had a big artist community and they are very well known for Dia: Beacon, a massive museum with collections from the 1960’s as well as new exhibitions. We didn’t have time to do the museum but it’s definitely on my list for next time.
Even without visiting the museum, the artist community is so obviously vibrant. The main road is lined with vintage shops, numerous art galleries, murals on the sides of buildings and delightful restaurants. We spent hours here and the light dusting of snow made it truly picturesque.
We ate lunch at Beacon Falls Cafe and their corn nugget appetizer was life changing. The service was great, everything was incredibly fresh and full of flavor.
Some of my other favorite stops included:
The Chocolate Studio, need I say more?:
The Hop: after visiting The Hop it would make sense to me going forward if every restaurant that thrives on craft beer and local flavor should also be half store. This way, all the beer you try is easy to find and purchase! We strolled in here by accident and left with some great local hard ciders, and a variety of beer. Too good to miss!
After the Barn: This store was so great. They design, build and sell custom wooden tables all shapes and sizes. The staff was friendly and helpful, and although the various size tables were a pretty penny it is obvious how much time and love has gone into their crafting. Along with tables the shelves were lined with old farming antiques and decor. I’m already dreaming of investing in a new table from After the Barn.
The entire area is scenic and full of history. There are beautiful churches and landmarks all along the road to stop. Cold Spring is nearby and boasts another bustling family owned community. The roads are windy and full of hills, but the scenery makes the possibility of carsickness so worth it.
I have been pretty quiet on here lately, the reason being I haven’t been too adventurous with all of this weather. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but New England has been absolutely pummeled with snow over the last 3 weeks. It has been our Monday routine now for 3… straight…. Mondays.
You could say I’m struggling. I have gotten to stay home from work twice due to our struggling public transportation system, but I think that just makes me crazier. I invested in a floor length down jacket, also referred to as a down dress or blanket by my co-workers and I also heavily rely on my knee-high Sorrel boots. I might look like an absolute lunatic, but if I’m warm it is 100% worth it.
So anyways, I went through some of my favorite warm weather shots from last year. Whether I was traveling, or visiting one of my favorite east coast destinations it makes me happy to remember that summer does in fact exist… and someday soon it will be here. Thinking:
Needless to say, I have had a VERY unproductive day. I went outside for about 10 minutes, baked raspberry thumbprint cookies, ate my body weight in calories and I have watched Blippi ten thousand times with my 20 month old nephew. Unproductive, but I definitely cannot complain about a day off work.
If you are from somewhere in New England I imagine that snow covered pictures of all kinds are filling up your social media feeds. If you are currently reading from somewhere sunny warm we probably should become friends :) haha no but here is a little peak of the snow we are currently buried beneath… woof.
I just bought my first zoom lens and I’m still experimenting with it, these are the best I could do so far with it.
I haven’t had any time this week to do any real posts, but I have been loving the Weekly Photo Challenges. I love looking through blogger’s lives, their insights and how they interpret each theme.
This week the challenge is to post a picture that expresses yourself. The only thing that comes to my mind when I hear this is fun. Looking through some of my travel photos, I have a lot of fun “in the moment” photos but I only have a handful that really crack me up.
I bought my first DSLR camera about a year ago, and I learned how to shoot manually at the end of the spring. I was in Europe for pretty much the whole month of July, so it was a perfect opportunity to experiment with what I learned and grow as a photographer. Ireland was the last stop of my trip, I met my boyfriend and 4 friends in Dublin to embark on a weeklong road trip down and up the coast to fly out of Shannon.
One of our favorite stops was Balleydehob, which I wrote all about in my past posts about Ireland. The night we got there, our house was right on what seemed like an endless cow pasture, we ran around the hills for hours like little kids. I did some jumping experiments with my camera, and we got some really funny pictures out of it. My favorite was when Joe just couldn’t get on the same count as anybody else, to me in this shot he is hilariously expressing himself (by accident):
I am excited to share my first weekly photo challenge, this week it should be a photo that displays serenity. I took this photo at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris this past July. I thought this was appropriate considering the recent tragic events that took place in Paris, and I wish them peace and serenity.
Writing about the last couple of days of our trip brings a little sting to my heart. I am currently curled up in blankets, mentally preparing for another stormy winter day tomorrow in Boston and dreaming about the lush green grass, cows and the perfect ending to a truly perfect trip.
After leaving Ballydehob we had one of our favorite drives. It was a long one, but we left Ballydehob drove through Kenmare and stopped a bunch of times throughout Killarney National Park. We ate some of the best ice cream we have ever had in Kenmare and got some great pictures throughout. If I could change one thing about the trip, I would have added a couple more days (of course) so we could really take our time and do the entire Ring of Kerry.
For the last two nights of our trip we rented a house in Ennistimon via AirBnB. This was great, the house was beautiful and the owners were great to work with, but next time I will definitely prefer to stay at bed and breakfasts. Renting an entire home is great when visiting anywhere else, but Ireland is a place that you don’t want to pass up a true B&B experience when you don’t have to. I would have also preferred to be closer to town, especially after getting a true taste of the music scene in Doolin.
The day we arrived at our house it was pretty late after a long drive so we relaxed a little bit and enjoyed the immediate area. Our house was about 30 minutes away from Doolin, I chose the location because it was halfway between Doolin and Shannon airport which we were flying out of on our last day. We were ready for the cliffs of Moher and Doolin visit the day before departure. We pre-decided that we wanted to do a boat tour of the cliffs before walking above them. I found out that between late May and mid July is when the puffin colonies come to the Cliffs of Moher area for nesting season, so the boat tour would be a great way to see them.
Our first mistake was going to the tourism office to get our tickets which was a ways up from the harbor. We were cutting it close so we ran in to buy our tickets for 20 Euro each. The woman at the tourism desk was helpful, but as soon as we left the building a local told us that we should have just waited until we got down the dock. The different boats compete for your business and basically give the tickets away for as low as 5 Euro. We had been VERY budget conscious the entire trip so this was very, very frustrating. When you visit, be sure to just head down the dock to get your tickets and avoid over spending. But at the end of the day, the boat tour was short – about an hour but really great. I got to see puffins flying around so I was really excited about that, and not to mention the stunning views of the cliffs:
After the boat tour we went up to the main entrance to walk around and see them from above. We spent HOURS here. As many pictures as you see, nothing compares to the real thing. We walked probably a couple of miles along the paths until we got to the cow pastures where we sat back and enjoyed the views:
After the cliffs we headed right over to Doolin for dinner and to enjoy the night. Doolin is pretty touristy now, and many true music followers (and may I say it, travel snobs) say it has sort of lost it’s magic as far as live music goes since word as gotten out, but I am not a travel snob so I really disagree with that. Whether it’s all foreigners or all locals, Doolin is a fantastic place to grab a pint and enjoy the groups of musicians that just happened to show up that night. In fact, one of the performers at Gus O’Connors Pub in Doolin had such an amazing voice it brought me to tears.
We spent a lot of time at Gus O’Connors. We had a delicious dinner, made some friends and got to enjoy the performers. I would definitely say we spent our last night in the right place. We were able to forget for a quick moment that we were leaving the following day.
I have visited Ireland twice and I can’t wait to get back for a third visit. I say this to everyone- the landscape, country and cities are great…but the people are truly what make Ireland what it is. Everybody wants to talk to you, and everybody truly cares about your happiness while visiting Ireland. Every bed and breakfast owner I have come across want nothing more than to make their home your home. If you have yet to go, put it close to the top of your list.
I hope everybody had a really great holiday season and a great start to the new year! This year my family did something a little untraditional to celebrate Christmas, we had our normal Christmas morning at home and then drove up to the North Conway area for a weekend getaway!
We rented two condos in Bartlett and had such a great time all together. Here are some of my favorite pictures I thought I would share with you. I didn’t take as many as I hoped, but I hope you still enjoy!
Ballydehob is a tiny village on the south west side of Ireland and a serious hidden gem we discovered before our trip. I have a family friend who moved there and has lived there for a few years. I got in touch with her before we went and we were able to stay with her for two nights! The property was unlike anything I have ever seen before. We ran through the fields like kids!
Ballydehob is a perfect place to stop through if you want to get close to the coast and do a little peninsula tour like we did. We used it as a starting point for a few different places to see. We stayed two nights and since the property we stayed on was so beautiful we spent some time relaxing there (really the only time all week), but we also used it as a starting point to do a loop to the end of the peninsula. We started in Ballydehob, made some stops and turned back around at Mizen Head:
1. Altar Wedge Tomb: This was a really easy pitstop on our way from Ballydehob towards Mizen Head, and it was really amazing. It was a really foggy day, but we could still see it along with the beautiful rocky coast! The pictures do it better justice I think (unless of course, you’re there!)
2. Crookhaven: This was one of my favorite stops for sure (maybe that’s because it included lunch) but it was SO beautiful here. It is a tiny summery village with little fishing boats and of course the friendliest of people. We sat by the window inside O’Sullivan’s Bar for a tasty lunch and a Guinness. Most of us got the tasty seafood chowder because in a location like this, how can you not? Highly recommended for a great pitstop!
2. Mizen Head: On our loop we stopped at the Mizen Head Visitor Center, unfortunately for us it was so foggy that particular day, we chose not to do the ten minute walk down to the edge because we couldn’t see anything! But everybody told us it’s one of the most spectacular views, especially on a clear day.
3. Beach Pitstop: We found a great little beach to take a break from driving at, it wasn’t particularly beach weather but it was a perfect day for skipping rocks and playing in the sand. I know I already posted with some of my favorite rock skipping pictures, but I just love to look at them!:
After our little tour we headed back to the house for a great home cooked meal and some relaxation. We really loved this southern coast and I am looking forward to getting back during my next visit.