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Back and Blogging!

Hello Dear Bloggy Friends!

I have missed the blog world and am SO excited to get back to it!

We have had a very crazy month, but things are going well and I haven’t even lost my mind yet! 🙂

In between juggling work and other responsibilities, we have been trying to do some last minute activities before we move.  A few weekends ago we went to New Jersey to see the longest miniature train in the world.  It was….an experience. 🙂

It was literally 8 miles of tiny train tracks with tons of miniature villages.

It was insane. Not necessarily my personal passion, but it was an experience and definitely a memory.

After I finished my last day with the twinnies (I only cried a little…), I went home to Kentucky to take Mumsie to a doctor’s appointment in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

On our long trip, we stopped in Asheville, North Carolina.  Neither one of us had been to Asheville and we had a lovely little visit. We stayed in a little Bed and Breakfast, the Beaufort House Inn.

It was so gorgeous!

It was a beautiful inn! The rooms were delightful and the bathroom was even more spectacular.

Having never spent much time in Western North Carolina, I never realized the amazingness of the mountains! We stopped by The Grove Park Inn, which was also incredible.

Our little stop in Asheville was a perfect respite before enduring doctor’s appointments.  However, Mumsie was a total champ.  Chase and my dad came down as well–it was a family affair.

In an effort to literally and figuratively sweeten our experience, I outlined a cupcake tour of North Carolina.  We stopped by as many cupcakeries as possible on our trip–there was a tremendous amount of buttercream frosting consumed by yours truly.

Our first stop was Magpies in Knoxville, TN (on our road trip):

The frosting was quite delightful!

We also stopped by several cupcake shops in Asheville.

We had great hopes for the Cupcake Corner–they even had German Chocolate cupcakes:

However, the frosting was TERRIBLE.  It was the biggest disappointment EVER.

I returned from my  trip to Kentucky/North Carolina just a few days ago and feel a little bit of a  frosting/sugar overload!  I am actually trying a bit of a detox to help usher in a more strictly paleo period.  My stomach has been going a bit nuts and I am ready to feel 100% again.  It is funny because I know what makes me feel healthy–I just need to pursue it!  With Chase’s graduation festivities this week, it will be a bit of a struggle to remain strict paleo, but I am going to try my hardest! I will post details tomorrow!

What have YOU all been up to?! I cannot wait to catch up with everyone!

 

 

 

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New York Adventure

As we will soon be officially bidding the Northeast farewell in favor of the mid-Atlantic, we decided that one last trip to New Your City was necessary.   Mumsie came for a final visit to  our Bethlehem abode so we decided that it was the perfect time to take a jaunt into the city.  We were so excited because my dad, who has lately been gallivanting across the country for work, was able to meet us in Manhattan for the weekend.

We spent the weekend in the Grand Hyatt which was completely fabulous.

For NYC standards, the rooms were GIGANTIC.  And the fact that it was on top of Grand Central Station made it the most convenient location EVER.  We did not have to take a single cab all weekend.  Plus, since my dad has been basically living in Hyatt Hotels across America, he has “super duper special status” and we were able to hang out in the “Club Room.”

Basically this place was my favorite–free wifi, great views of the city, free drinks, tea, coffee and free food! It. Was. Awesome.  When my family was able to persuade me to actually leave the special room, we did some quality New York adventuring.

We brunched as Sarabeth’s where I got the most amazing spinach omelet:

(I did not eat the toast–but it made the plate look pretty–also, I totally forgot to take a picture until I was a few bites in–sorry!)

It was such a darling restaurant.

I have wanted to visit Sarabeth’s ever since I saw her delightful looking preserves in the carefully selected food stuffs of Williams-Sonoma

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We also visited one of my all-time favorite spots in NYC–The Plaza Hotel!

Did anyone else read Eloise as a kid?

My mom always used it as a lesson in “how NOT to act” since Eloise was basically a spoiled brat–however, I always dreamed of being able to LIVE in a hotel–and not just any hotel–The PLAZA!

We then went inside and pretended like we were celebrities!

Did y’all know that there is a luxury book publishing house INSIDE of The Plaza?  They sell these incredible (and pricey!) books on fashion and luxury living.  The people that work there were surprisingly unpretentious and actually urged us to explore (and TOUCH!) the books. Am I the only person that turn into a scared 8-year-old when I am in an expensive store? I suddenly feel like I am in severe danger of “you break it, you buy it” status.

After acting very civilized in the bookstore, we headed down to the lower level of the Plaza to Eloise Wonderland

They even have a TEA room for little girls to visit!

It was completely magical!

After Mumsie and I absorbed every adorable square inch, we all headed to Central Park.  Chase proceeded to make friends with a musician who let him try to play his crazy instrument.  Chase definitely needs to stick to doctoring…

We had some seriously amazing meals when we were in New York.  We decided that if we lived in New York there is no way you could go to the same restaurant twice because there are just too many delicious places.  While we were in the city, we ate at this guy’s restaurant:

Bobby Flay knows what he is doing!

The food at Mesa was insane!

From the pork

To the Chili Rellenos

To the insanely delicious side dishes (Roasted corn, Smoked Chile collard greens, Double-Baked Potato
with Horseradish, Green Onions
+ Creme Fraiche)

Um, yeah…it was all DELICIOUS!!! If you are visit NYC, you MUST go to Mesa!

We also discovered an amazing Mexican restaurant called Sinigual.

This place had the BEST guacamole I have ever had in my entire LIFE.  It was heavenly.

In addition to the amazing meals we had, Mumsie and I made sure to include some cupcake tasting (or frosting eating in my case).

We tried Baked By Melissa Cupcakes

Which only sells mini-cupcakes and when I say mini, I mean MINI.

(Magnolia Cupcake on the left, Melissa’s mini on the right).

I was not a fan of Melissa’s because for a frosting-only girl like myself, Melissa did not give me much to work with! My heart still belongs to Sprinkles–I mean they sell FROSTING shots!

This would be me with a heavenly shot of cinnamon cream cheese frosting–like I said before–who needs alcohol when you can have FROSTING shots and cupcake tastings?!

Aside from experiencing culinary and cupcake perfection, we also did several quintessentially NYC tourist activities:

We took the Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty ferry.  I, happily, did not get sea sick which was truly miraculous as I get nauseous in the bathroom.

It was amazing to see the statue up close.  We took the audio tour which was incredibly fascinating.  I totally recommend it!

Besides visiting the statue, we also spent an afternoon at the Met!

It was wonderful! We saw everything from stain-glassed windows  created by Louis Tiffany (as in the lamps and the son of the Tiffany Jeweler founder), Egyptian tombs and mummys (I love a good mummy) and tons of paintings.

 No trip to New York City would be complete without a bit of shopping.  Mumsie and I may have happened upon a TWO-STORY Lilly Pulitzer store on the Upper East side.  Pure heaven.

Lilly Perfection

Mumsie may have FORCED me to get this little gem…

I am thinking pink high heels–thoughts?

Basically it was a perfect trip from start to finish!

Have you visited NYC?  What are your favorite places in the city or where would you like to visit?

AWP 2012: Part I

Hello from Chicago! Even though this is my third time in Chicago, for the first time, I feel like I have gotten a really expansive glimpse of the city and it is SO fun! It really is a mini-New York City!

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Yesterday, I arrived at the Palmer House Hilton at 11am.

 

I  met my mom in our very spacious and modern room.

After getting settled, we headed over the the Chicago Hilton to pick up my registration and conference it up for a bit.  While the weather is a bit nippy, it was really fun to walk around the city! I have the WORST sense of direction and I did A-ok navigating, so that speaks volumes about the city.  We are very close to the Art Institute of Chicago and right on Lake Michigan, so it is a beautiful part of the city.

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On a whole, the city is very clean and safe! There are tons of shops and places to eat and many hotel options.  I love the Palmer House because it has so much history and the décor is truly amazing.

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Last night we adventured out to dinner at one of the delectable Italian restaurants. If you are a fan of Italian food, Chicago KNOWS how to make truly excellent fare.  When I am traveling, especially in a city with insanely delicious dining options, I tend to shift my eating to a more Primal style (as opposed to Paleo, Primal eating allows some full fat dairy).  As long as I eat dairy in moderation and not too frequently, my stomach tolerates it.  This is perfect for times, like last night, when I am in an incredibly amazing Italian restaurant and want a bit of fresh, local cheese.  While I may have to avoid gluten, a bit of good cheese now and then totally makes up for the loss.

We went to Rosebud–a little restaurant in the theater district.  Everything looked fresh and tasty and the staff went above and beyond to accommodate any and all dietary restrictions and preferences. Knowing that I could not eat gluten, they created the most delicious Grilled Chicken Parmesan with Asparagus.

It HIT the spot. Gosh, it was so yummy! And the asparagus was divine!

Today, I began the day with a 7 mile run in the Palmer House fitness center. This place was magical. They had a mini-fridge full of chilled towels for a post-run freshen up—AWESOME!

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By the time I finished my run, I had completely missed any and all breakfast opportunities, so we ended up eating a salad for brunch.  It may not be my normal breakfast food of choice, but it was delicious, no less.  Plus, with such a healthy lunch, it made me all the more excited for our big non-conferencs event: The Chicago Cupcake Taste-off.

 

In between conference events, Mumsie and I did what we do best—critique cupcakes.  While I have to avoid the cake, it does not mean I am not still a very excellent judge of frosting.  Whenever we get together, Mumsie and I have been expertly critiquing cupcakes for the past 5 years and consider ourselves quite experienced cake and frosting critics.

 

Today’s cupcake competition was between Sprinkles and Magnolia.  The competition was VERY steep.

 

Sprinkle’s cupcakes had AMAZING frosting—very smooth, and the texture of the cake was springy perfection.  They also allow you to buy frosting shots–um, YES PLEASE. (The cinnamon cream cheese is bananas–so stinking good!) My mom stated that it was the best white cake she had ever had.

 

Magnolia’s frosting was incredible—but just a smidgen too sugary sweet for me.  Don’t get me wrong, it was YUMMY—but the flavor nuances were just not quite up to Sprinkles’.  When we taste cupcakes, we do it like wine–we do not finish the cupcake.  It is kind of ridiculous. We take tiny bites and attempt to note all of the various aspects that make a good cupcake–the cupcake workers thought we were CRAZY, but we didn’t care!

 

Who needs wine tasting when you can gave cupcake FROSTING tastings?  In my book, few things in life are better than buttercream frosting. It is the simple things in life, right?

 

Mumsie and I also squeezed in a bit of shopping on Michigan Avenue—otherwise known as the Magnificent Mile. It has every single store in the world—Saks, Bloomies, Tiffany and Co., Cartier, you name it—Michigan Avenue has it!

 

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We meandered into Banana Republic and left with this beauty for me (it actually looks MUCH better and less poofy in person):

 

And this gem for Mumsie (actually hers is a different color combination–and even MORE adorable):

 

Also, we dropped into J Crew and  Mumsie  found a VERY amazing dress that she FORCED me to try on…We then proceeded to buy it toot-sweet. However, it will remain a secret until a later date–don’t worry, it is DARN cute!

Tonight, after a conference session, we decided to call it an early night. We grabbed dinner at the hotel restaurant, which was all about local food–so it was yummy and relaxed,  just what we both needed!

 

So far our trip has been amazing.  I am officially Chicago’s new best friend! 🙂

 

What is your favorite city?  What do you like to do in new cities?