it’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween

It occurred to me that I haven’t posted since my race, which was 3 weeks ago. I’ve wanted to, but quite honestly, I have just been tired. Like down to the bones tired. By the time I’m finished with everything I need to do during the day, the couch has been calling me….and I’ve been answering. Things have been busy around here, and nothing has been making me happier in the evenings than cracking open a window so the fall night air comes in, burning a pumpkin spice candle (has a more heavenly scent ever existed?), cozying up under a blanket with my honey, and the occasional beer. (pumpkin ale, duh.) So that’s what I’ve been doing. But now that all our new routines are firmly set in place, the kids are happy with their new schools (a process that took a little bit of time and a lot of wine) and all seems right in the world, I thought I’d start up this little thing again. So here I am. I think that there’s something about fall that kind of rejuvenates me. While most people are complaining about the end of summer and the start of colder weather, I’m doing a little happy dance. Fall is and always has been my favorite time of year; I love everything about it. I love that the weather is cool enough that it’s refreshing, yet warm enough that you can spend hours outside. I love that everything under the sun comes in a yummy pumpkin flavor. (seriously, everything) I love putting on a sweater for the first time in what seems like forever; it always feels like the most cozy sweater ever. I love going on hayrides and going apple/pumpkin/pretty much anything-picking. And one of the best things about fall: apple cider donuts. Droooooool………. At the beginning of September, I started doing inventory of all our Halloween decorations, and every day would ask my husband “Is it too early to put this stuff out?” Well, this weekend I stopped asking and started decorating. In my opinion, we need a TON more stuff, but my husband thinks it’s enough. (shocker.) Well, I think we all know who will win that battle. Here’s just a few little snapshots of what I’ve been doing around the house:

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And that’s just the beginning. That creepy guy bust on my entryway table is my favorite Halloween thing ever. It was a Home Goods find and I’m slightly obsessed with him. Last year, he stayed out until almost December; it breaks my heart when it’s time for him to be stored away. One of my new finds this year was the caged crow-he’s motion-sensitive and makes noise/flaps his wings/eyes light up when you walk by him. I can pretty much guarantee that we’ll be quite sick of that thing pretty soon. In the meantime, I’m pretty sure I need to pick up some more (faux) bloody gauze and skulls, and I’m in the process of spider-webbing a few things. Ahh, I just love this time of year. Now please excuse me while I go have something pumpkin-flavored.

One last hurrah at the beach

Since I last posted, my family and I have taken two mini-vacations to the beach. My husband has declared that he is officially “beached out.” (For me, there is no such thing. What a weirdo.) Our trips were filled with family, friends, long beach days, swims in the ocean, outdoor dining, and some serious lack of sleep. While that last part I could do without, the trips were really quite wonderful. Our most recent trip was to a place called Stone Harbor, which is about 30 minutes (and a world) away from Atlantic City. It was my first time being there, and I can say that I’m a huge fan. It is such a charming and chic town. We obvoiusly went for the beach, but I really fell in love with the downtown. The flower and tree-lined streets are filled with great boutiques, cafes, bakeries and bookstores, and the people are as friendly as can be. Truly, a quite picturesque and lovely place. Here’s a look at our time there:

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It’s a good thing that that I didn’t have my wallet when I stumbled upon a few of these places. Zoe and I spent some time browsing around a boutique called Skirt (how cute is that?), and it really was a practice in self-restraint. That was followed by finding some delicious mararons (thankfully by then I was reunited with my wallet) and treats for all (my son is covered in his.) I hope to visit this charming town again soon.

Until then, I plan on enjoying the rest of our summer at home. We’ll spend lots of time at the pool and our backyard, go the movies and the park and enjoy NOT packing our suitcases again.  I love going away, but I love coming home just as much. But man, the laundry sucks.

A day fit for a princess

Yesterday, my baby girl turned four. She’s growing up so fast right before my eyes, and it’s both amazing and bittersweet to see. I long for the days when I could cradle her in my arms for hours, yet I marvel at the things she’s learning to do and at her growing independence. We were at the park the other day, and she mastered a piece of playground equipment that in the past, she always needed help with. She turned to me and said “I don’t need you anymore, mommy!!” I told her how wonderful that was, and then turned away and cried a little bit. Watching your children grow up is so amazing, yet at every step you long for them to stop growing.  It’s quite a mixed bag.

This was the first year that my daughter was pretty specific about the kind of birthday she wanted. In the past, I could decorate with whatever I thought was cute and buy her some sweet gifts, and no matter what they were, she would be happy as can be. However, this year, she was clear. She wanted princesses for her birthday. And a tea party. And princess balloons, and princess streamers, and princess cups and plates, and well, you get the idea. It’s really funny just how  much a girly-girl she’s become, and it’s not like these are things I really introduced or pushed onto her. Since my children were newborns, I went about dressing them/decorating their room/buying toys in a rather unisex way. I didn’t go crazy on pink or blue with anything, and bought things that could be enjoyed by either a girl or a boy. Yet despite all of those things, my little girl is crazy about all things girly-princesses, dolls, anything pink/purple/sparkly, ballet, and dresses. And my little boy is all about cars, trucks, dinosaurs, superheroes, and anything that has a motor. It just happened naturally.  So yesterday, along with my parents, we had a lovely tea party at a place called Alice’s Tea Cup in NYC’s upper east side. It is a charming little place with a sort of Alice in Wonderland theme. (my favorite Disney movie) It was absolutely adorable and everyone loved it. It was my first time sampling different types of tea; I’m more of a coffee gal, but this was delicious. There were also yummy little sandwiches and scones, and a little birthday cupcake for Zoe. Tea was followed by dinner, cake and presents at our house with family. It truly was a day fit for a princess.

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The day truly was a success as Zoe told me it was her “most amazing birthday ever!!” I can’t wait to see what this coming year will bring for my amazing little princess.

Check out Alice’s Tea Cup here: http://alicesteacup.com/

favorite things

I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July!! I find that the Fourth has a way of unifying people like not many other things do. It’s like everyone forgets their differences and remembers what they have in common: being an American. For one day, people remember all the wonderful things they share-all the freedoms, luxuries and opportunities. Even my douchey neighbors manage to smile and say hello. (Tomorrow it will be business as usual, I’m sure, and they’ll be back to complaining about everyone.) It’s a great day filled with family, friends and patriotism. I wish I could say that my kids enjoyed the fireworks, but they spent the entire time on my lap (not a pleasant thing when it’s 90 degrees and muggy as all get out) and crying about wanting to go home. Sigh. Maybe next year. I said that last year, too.

Besides having a wonderful Fourth of July, there were just a few little special things going on that I wanted to share. Just a few favorite things that have made me smile. And here they are:

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A new candle always makes me happy. And this is one of my favorites-Voluspa Crisp Champagne. It smells like luxury. That’s the best way I can explain it. I dare you not to want to drink champagne while burning this.

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Paper chevron straws. I love little details like this. These little straws make a glass of water seem just a little more special. And my kids love picking one out. So fun. I got mine at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/InTheClear.

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My monogrammed clutch. It came in the most beautifully wrapped box. So beautiful, in fact, that my daughter was convinced it had to be for her. Who else could get such a pretty box? I don’t have a middle name, so the monogram is a little smaller than I’d like, but I’m still so happy with it. And a white leather clutch goes with everything. I got it here: http://www.markandgraham.com

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On Friday night, I told the kids we could have a picnic/movie night in the living room. So we ordered a pizza, put down a blanket, watched The Incredibles and ate. It was so much fun and the kids loved it. We’ll be doing that again, for sure.

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Working out with Zoe. As I mentioned previously, our sitter moved away. We are still in the process of finding another one (had to fire one before she even started; long story), so I can’t get to the gym. So I’ve been working out at at home. It’s not always possible, but when it is, my daughter likes to join me. It’s hard to focus, because it’s so cute and funny. She has so much fun-until we get to the planks. She says, “this is too hard, mommy.” We’ll have to work on that. (Did you notice what Zoe is using for weights? Barbie dolls. Atta girl.)

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend!

A lady will always feel dressed a la mode, in frillies she finds in Portobello Road

Hi! So today, my beautiful cousin Mia is a guest blogger. She is honestly one of the most creative people I have ever met and my go-to person for cool music/art/pretty much anything. Mia recently got married and moved to London with her amazingly sweet husband and we all miss her dearly. But I jumped at the thought of having her do some blogging on here so I get to take a look at what her life is like over there. I have no doubt that you will love her, just as I do…..

Hello! Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mia and I am the cousin (in-law) of the beautiful author of this blog. I currently live in North London with my Brit husband. While this is a beautiful city and I’m enjoying settling into married life, I miss my family and friends immensely. It’s been a lot harder dealing with the gap of sea that separates myself and everything that is familiar to me. But, Alison has been kind enough to let me post bits and pieces of my life to share with you as it makes me feel so much closer to home. Nice to meet you…and enjoy!

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Now, let’s get into what this post is really about. Portobello Road.  I am a huge fan of flea markets, second hand shops, thrift stores, etc.  Basically, I love rummaging through junk.  Portobello Road is a two mile long street market that cuts through the neighborhood of Notting Hill in West London. For a first timer, this market can seem very overwhelming as it is major sensory overload. The moment you enter the market, you are suddenly surrounded by a mix of locals and tourists. The scent of crepes waft around as you’ll find crepe stands every two feet. The feeling of extreme excitement occurs (at least for me it does) when presented with an endless sight of street stalls selling everything and anything under the sun. Not only are there stalls set up, there are numerous antique shops, clothing and shoe stores, cafes, and pubs to enjoy whilst making your way down the market. On this particular day, my brother and sister in-law were in town from Wales. As the sun was out in full force (a very, very rare occurence in this part of the world) and we all fancied something low key and outdoors, we decided Portobello Road was the place to go.  Here are some tidbits from our lovely day…

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I always pass by this shop on my way to Portobello Road and I always have to stop and admire the beautiful jewels on display.

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Look for future posts from my amazing cousin from across the pond.

Father’s day at the shore

The Jersey shore holds a very special place in my heart. My fondest childhood memories involve spending summers there with my family. I have vivid memories of my grandfather teaching me how to jump over waves. Of my brother and I being so excited to go to the waterslide park (in Long Beach Island) that we could barely stand it. Of warm cinnamon donuts from our favorite bakery for breakfast. Of spending a full day at the beach, going back to the house for a barbecue, and then going back to the beach to fly kites. Of nightly walks to go get ice cream. Of walks on the boardwalk. To me, the Jersey Shore is not all about booze and fist-pumping. To me, the Jersey Shore is all about family. So when it came time to plan out what we should do for Father’s Day, spending some time down the shore (that’s Jersey speak for the beach) just seemed right. It’s still early in the season, so the water isn’t exactly warm enough for swimming (at least not for my little ones), but it’s perfect for a day on the Boardwalk. The day called for going on rides, getting ice cream/funnel cakes/any other crappy yet delicious food, followed by a dinner on the bay at sunset.

So after making dad and the kids breakfast and giving dad his gifts and cards, we packed up and headed south. Lucky for us, we are only about an hour from the beach. My parents came along with us too, which made the kids so giddy I thought they would pop. We got off to a rocky start with both kids crying and having to be taken off a ride right before it started, but after much-needed ice cream cones, they both perked up and we had a great day. Here’s how it went:

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We truly had a wonderful day-one that was really special. The true sign of a great day? No one wanted to go home.

I have to say, I am a very, very blessed woman. I was blessed with a wonderful father. One who I thought of as a Superman of sorts. Growing up, there was nothing he didn’t know. Nothing he couldn’t fix or figure out. Nothing he couldn’t do. He had everything but a red cape. And now, I am blessed enough to have married a man who is a wonderful father to our children. I have no doubt that they will look at their dad the way that I looked at mine. Like a superhero. Because after all, isn’t that what fathers really are?

signs of summer

There’s just something in the air when summer is near. The days are longer, the weather is warm, and people are just…..happy. It’s a pretty glorious time. And there some things that happen every year that let you know that days at the beach, outdoor barbecues and endless warm nights are right around the corner. Things like graduation (my daughter just had hers from preschool), pool openings, hopscotch with sidewalk chalk, that beautiful light just before sunset, flowers and having drinks outside on a balmy night are just a few telltale signs of better days to come. Here’s just a little of what has made me happy about the thought of summer:

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Preschool diploma. She’s kind of a big deal.

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Long days at the pool.

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There’s nothing like the last light of the day.

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This is the summer my daughter will become obsessed with hopscotch.

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Each year, mid-June, these beautiful flowers bloom. I have no idea what I planted (I kind of threw a bunch of crap in some soil and crossed my fingers), but I look forward to it every year.

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Ahhhhhhhh……. This needs no description.

Have a wonderful weekend and I hope you take advantage of as many early summer moments as you can.