{ MIAMI }

When Z and I were in the pre-moving phase of our transition to New York, we discussed many of the things we wanted to do and goals we wanted to achieve while we lived on the East Coast. We talked about the bucket list items to accomplish in the city as well as the cities outside of New York we had to visit. Miami was one of the first we ever discussed and it has been on our minds since we moved. After our first year in New York came and went, I knew I wanted to plan a surprise birthday trip to Miami for Zach’s 32nd birthday. While we both enjoy the fact that we are both planners, sometimes it prevents us from truly living in the moment. We oftentimes find ourselves in conversation about the future, post New York life, when do we want kids, what’s the next step for our careers, etc. Because I knew Miami was on the top of our lists for places to visit and, let’s be honest, it’s a city for silly, adult fun, it would be a perfect place to celebrate exactly where we are in life; fairly newlyweds, childless, and a will to see new places. I was determined to not only make the trip happen but to keep it a secret from Z for MONTHS. I have never kept a secret that long in my life and I still can’t believe I did it. I booked the trip in February and I didn’t tell him until we were at the airport on May 4!

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I spent the majority of my twenties working in the hospitality industry which means while I am an excellent resource for all things travel, I can be a bit of a hotel snob and will spend HOURS researching to find the perfect place at the right price. This was true of my Miami hotel research but I couldn’t be happier with my find. The Confidante Hotel, formerly a Thompson Hotel and now a Hyatt Unbound Collection hotel, was perfect for the intention of the trip. Steps from the beach, two pools, four bars on property, and easy access to South Beach and Downtown Miami. One of our favorite spots on the property was Nina’s House. Best known for their drinks with made to order fresh pressed juice cocktails and 2 for 1 happy hour. A perfect welcome to Miami!

During the time when Z had no idea we were going to Miami I was asking friends and acquaintances in the city (i.e. my hair dresser!) for recommendations on great restaurants and bars in Miami and Miami Beach. We hit up South Beach the first night in town, which honestly was like a mini-Las Vegas. Fun for a few drinks at an open-air, outdoor bar, but also a gamut of characters walking around that were fun to “observe”, to put it mildly. It was very different from what we envisioned which was classic beachfront restaurants, people dressed in their Miami-chic attire, and overall just a bit less seedy than what it was. This is not to say it wasn’t a great time it was just very different than our expectations! It was entertaining and more casual which ended up being nice to lay low and not feel like we needed to be super dressed up every time we went out. We’re always up for a little exploring, being in new places, and embracing the environment around us. Hence, why we love to travel. A few notable places in South Beach that we loved, some recommended by friends, some by Yelp: The Clevelander, the Naked Taco (for Cinco de Mayo!), and Havana 1957 for some authentic Cuban food.

Friday morning we were pumped to get our toes in the sand and swim in the ocean but the weather in Miami Beach had other plans. We got a solid hour in before a torrential downpour made its appearance and lasted for four hours. After we ran off departed the beach we enjoyed some Cinco de Mayo festivities in South Beach and then made it back to the hotel for some afternoon sunshine before the sunset.

Saturday was the PERFECT day. The day began with another surprise I coordinated for the weekend. One of my coworkers and her husband, Angie and Mike, became fast friends of ours when we first moved to New York. However, they snowbird to Florida every winter so we were only able to spend a couple months with them before the moved to Tampa for the fall/winter season. Angie and I have kept in touch while they have been away and when I mentioned we would be in Miami and that they should join us, they were all in. It was AWESOME. For people we have known less than a year to drive across the state of Florida to spend 24 hours with us was remarkable. Originally they were supposed to come for the whole weekend but last minute work commitments changed their plans. But the one day they were with us was wonderful! I mentioned to Z about an hour before they were set to arrive that “some other people are going to be joining us” and he was wracking his brain to figure out who was coming. He was equal parts surprised and touched that our new East Coast friends had made such an effort. Heart happy moment! We spent the day on the beach and swam in the ocean for HOURS!

Our last night in town we went into Downtown Miami to this restaurant I found called The River Yacht Club. I read about these restaurants that were right on the Miami River (which I had NO idea Miami even had a river!) where yachts of all different shapes and sizes can coast through and park to get off the boat and enjoy a meal. Some of these yachts are 100 ft. long and this river is NOT big by any means. We even saw one pull away from the restaurant after a group of diners had finished their meal and got back on their yacht. It is a whole new level of wealth we had never seen before! It made for a unique atmosphere for dinner. The River Yacht Club also had a dance floor and live band while you dined. Warm winds, fresh, organic ingredients, and the sunsetting while we ate made for a stellar last night in town.

After dinner we headed across the river to another spot I had heard lots of good things about called Seaspice. It was a bit overpriced for us for a meal but it was a perfect nightcap. They, too, had giant yachts parked alongside the restaurant, but instead of a dance floor and live music they had a long, large couch that encircled the bar area as well as a swing by the hostess stand which was one of my favorite parts of the restaurant. How could you leave without sitting on the swing?!

Angie & Mike. I said it in Miami but I will say it again here. It meant so much to have you join us for all the festivities! Your open hearts, appetite for adventure and trying new things, and generosity of your time and friendship are just a few of the reasons why we feel so grateful to have met you in New York and even more touched that we now have this trip to cement our friendship. We can’t wait for you to be back in the city for summer and for more good times ahead!

Z. Here’s to a new year in this great, big city. Being with you and observing the way you’ve embraced our new normal, growing your role at work, evolving your look (just a hair! 😉 ), and living each day with intention has been an exciting time in our married life. I am in awe of you and all you’ve accomplished. I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring for you or rather what you’ll bring to your 32nd year of life!

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{ From Eastern WA to East Manhattan }

The first quarter of the new year has proven to be so fast and furious that I have already failed on my new year’s resolution of updating this blog once a week! Welp, it’s never too late to redeem yourself so let me start from one of our first wonderful weeks of the new year.

Ryan & Tiffany have been dear friends of ours since the moment Zach & I met. Ryan was with Zach when he first came to San Diego and Ryan witnessed the inception of our relationship. Though Tiff was not with him on that trip, he had just proposed to her a month prior. 2011 was the start of so many beautiful beginnings to our respective relationships and to still be close friends in 2017 is a treasure. In those years, we each had our weddings, Ryan and Tiff have had a little baby girl, Eva, and obviously Z and I have moved our life to New York. Ryan and Tiff live in Eastern Washington and had one heck of a commute to get to us, not unlike Devin and his trip to visit a few months earlier. It was Ryan’s first time in New York and I think we showed it up right!

The Lion King & Top of the Rock. One of Ryan’s Christmas gifts to Tiff was tickets to a broadway show of her choosing. She had a long standing dream to see the The Lion King so it was a no brainer when it came to choosing the show. Zach, Ryan, and I had seen the show when we were very young so we were all excited to see it again, as the memories were great and we knew it would not disappoint!

After the show we weren’t quite ready to call it a night. We walked from Times Square to Rockefeller Center to have drinks at Top of the Rock, a bar on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center that overlooks the entire city. It was the first time for all of us, with the exception of Z who had been there for a work event. It. Is. Spectacular. There is an outdoor viewing deck that takes your breath away, and despite the freezing cold temps and wind, we stood out there for quite awhile. Ryan and Z met a guy who had an app on his phone that controlled the lights and color of the spire on top of the H&M tower. He literally pulled out his phone, asked the guys their favorite color, and then hit a button on his phone, and then they all watched the top of the tower change color. Whaaaat?! Tiff and I missed it while we were getting drinks inside at the bar, but still to this day Z regrets not asking that guy how/what/why/”can i get that app?!” of the color changing super powers.

9/11 Memorial & Museum. One of the activities that is unanimously at the top of all our visitors’ list is to see the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. While Z has done both already, I have never been to the museum. He mentioned that it is a several hour event as the museum is pretty massive with many exhibits we will want to spend a lot of time in. So we made a day of it! Our friends, Parv and Andy, who also went to college with Ryan, Tiff, and Z, had brunch at their house, and our friend Cort was in town from D.C. who joined us for the day as well.

Brunch was a perfect time to reminisce and catch up before the somber afternoon at the museum. It is so well put together. It’s full of incredible and astounding information about that day, the events leading up to it, and the aftermath. Honestly, you could go back for days and still not absorb everything. They offer an audio book via free app with Robert DeNiro as your guide narrating the exhibits within the museum. As a group, we all split up and walked the museum individually and met up several hours later at the end. It is brutal at times but so worth the visit. If ever you are in the city it should not be missed.

Anybody Hungry? One of my favorite things about this city is all the incredible food and drink that inhabit every neighborhood. There is a reason it is a pretigious culinary achievement to have a successful restaurant or bar in New York. Rent is high and there is great food everywhere. Choices are limitless and the expectations are high. Over the last year, Z and I have really honed in on some of our favorites which have become staples for us to take our visitors to. Uva, Fat Cat, and Gallo Nero, to name a few!

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One of our favorite culinary excursions was Serendipity. Ryan and Tiff had given us a gift certificate to the famous restaurant as a wedding gift (along with a DVD of the movie!) and Z and I still hadn’t used it. The sentimentalist in me was secretly saving it with the hope that Ryan and Tiff would visit and we’d get to use it altogether. I loved that it actually came together the way I imagined. It was a perfect way to end the trip on their last night in town.

Besides being a romantic and darling place, the menu is massive as are the portions of food. With the certificate covering most of the meal, we decided to go big!

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The frozen hot chocolate IS as good as it looks! It takes a team to drink it but thankfully I had a good partner-in-crime.

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Tiff & Ryan. I love that our friendship knows no span of time from when we see each other and that we always pick up as if we saw each other a few days ago. I love that our conversations can go from big belly laughs to serious discussions on life and love and back to playful banter. The hours fly by as there is never a dull moment. The cameos from Eva on FaceTime were the best and made us ache for her and miss her more! We are so grateful for your friendship and your commitment to seeing us in our new home. THANK YOU. It means so much especially when you’re far away from our comfort zone. No sooner you asked us about dates to visit, a flight itinerary was in our inbox days later. We miss you often and can’t wait for our next adventure! We love you, babes!

{ 2017: Bury & Carry List }

Happy 2017! I can’t believe we are already halfway through the first month of the new year. I was recently inspired after reading this article by Maria Shriver about what she wants to “carry” and “bury” in 2017. I have found the idea of resolutions to be daunting especially because it diminishes what you learned and maybe even mastered the previous year. It begs “what more can you do?” instead of also validating your successes. Furthermore it challenged me to really consider what I am proud of from 2016, what I want to continue through 2017, and what I can truly leave behind.

What I Want to Bury:

  • Self-Doubt. There is nothing that handicapped me more in 2016 than self-doubt. When I began the year I was a successful Business Development Director at the height of my career, newly married, and about to move to New York. I arrived with confidence that I would find a sparkly new job and conquer wifehood with ease. Unfortunately it didn’t work out at all how I planned. Months flew by, what felt like hundreds of job applications had been submitted, and I was alone a lot during the day until Z got home from work. The loneliness was a perfect incubus to cultivate a cloud of fear and doubt that I was not good enough. Who was I without a successful career? Why would a man as wonderful as my husband, meanwhile blossoming and thriving in his career, want a pathetic woman such as myself who couldn’t find her way in New York? Self-doubt consumed my every day. Eventually I realized it was me who was holding me back. I had complete control of realizing my happiness and as soon as I worked on what it was that made me truly happy, outside of a career woman and being Z’s wife, I was set free from my doubt. I was a lot more than just those two things. It was finding ways to energize and inspire me. I am not perfect and battling self-doubt will always be a dynamic of life but for the purpose of this list, I am committed to continuing to pursue my happy and diminish the doubt.
  • Us vs. Them. While I don’t really want to get into the political arena on this blog, I have to acknowledge my approach to interacting with friends, family, and strangers whose political opinions are different than my own. This past year was a tumultuous and distressing time for everyone regardless of the candidate you supported. As the President-Elect is being sworn into office as I type this I am a gamut of emotions. For the purpose of this bury list, I want to work on diminishing this idea of Us vs. Them. This mentality is what got us here, divided. It’s not the first time in our nation’s history but for those living it for the first time it is painful, a state of disbelief. I look back on 2016 and interactions with some of my friends and family who I considered to be them. They supported the candidate I did not. As frustrated as that made me, I am certain my support of the other candidate made them equally so. My regret is that I didn’t engage in an adult, open-minded conversation with them. Instead I steered clear, avoided it, and judged them. Us vs. Them. I could have listened, shared passions, seek understanding in a constructive way. We are never going to be a united nation until both sides really examine the other side. It will continue to be two teams. Of course I am not naive to believe I could have actually changed those friends or families’ minds but maybe we would have understood each other better and learned something. I also know there will always be two teams but I don’t believe it has to be as harshly divided and vicious as it stands right now. As I avoid my television today I am not doing so to perpetuate the #NotMyPresident or anything like it. I’m not happy about it, not by any means. But instead of opening my social media and perpetuating the drama, today I choose to establish how I will carry into the new year, this new regime, and how I can control my piece of the world and influence positivity. How can I help to bridge this large gap that I helped build along with the other millions of us? I will continue to be authentic and steadfast in my beliefs but will not use it to shut out the other side.
  • Living in Future Tense. Planning is a way of life in the Harris household. Neither one of us are fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants people and we are always looking ahead. That’s not to say making plans and being intentional about life are a bad thing but in our current circumstance it has hindered us. Our life in New York has always been temporary with the plan to move back to our West Coast home. At some point, however, it felt as if we were biding our time. And when I say we I mean mostly me. Anxiously planning and awaiting the opportunity to start planning our move home. Z has been a great reminder for me as I have had a harder time settling into our life. He reminds me and recommits that we want to make a life here. If we’re just watching the months tick by and counting the days until we get to go back to the West Coast we won’t really be giving our opportunity here a chance. We took a lot of trips back west last year, Seattle in particular, and we got used to seeing those friends and family every couple of months. It meant a whole year went by without an official honeymoon like we had originally planned. We sacrificed vacation days we could have used to travel the East Coast as we intended. While those trips were mostly for weddings and well worth the time and money spent we cannot do the same this year. We need to invest in our life in New York just as we set out to do. I want to miss this place when we leave it, not relish in the joy that we finally get to leave. I want to bury this living in the future and pump the breaks to live presently. Grounded in our New York life and cherishing this once in a lifetime experience. It will be gone before we know it.

What I Want to Carry:

  • Gratitude. We post about it on social media, we talk about its importance, but how often are we actually putting this into practice? I have learned and posed questions about ‘marriage’ this year and what does and doesn’t work for our marriage. One of the biggest things that we practiced this year which has become an integral part of our day to day is the act of being grateful. A simple ‘thank you’ goes such a long way. When Z has worked a long day and he comes home to a clean house, he acknowledges the work and says thank you. On date nights when we’ve just enjoyed an evening out, I share with Z how much I appreciate all his hard work to provide the ability to live in this amazing city and indulge in these experiences. Even something as simple as watching Sunday football together, he will thank me for creating our home and taking care of the things that make our life full. I may be overloading you with anecdotes but the point is I think we grossly underestimate how much our partners need to be appreciated and thanked. Out loud. Not carry it with us as an assumption that they “just know.” How good does it feel to hear that acknowledgment and gratefulness? Whether it’s a simple act or a grand gesture we all need and deserve affirmations for who we are and how we show up for each other.
  • Spin & Yoga. One of the best roses that came from the garden of thorns of being unemployed was discovering an active lifestyle. I tried countless fitness studios and different workouts until I found the classes and teachers that felt like home. Nothing clears my mind and makes me feel as good as leaving a class sweaty and strong. SoulCycle & mang’Oh yoga have changed me in mind, body, and spirit and I can’t imagine my day to day life without them.
  • The Lust to Wander. One of the most exciting parts of living on the East Coast is traveling to new places. It is remarkable how close these states are to one another and in a three-hour train ride you can cross over five states. Just thirty minutes north of Manhattan are forests and rivers that provide great relief from the concrete jungle. We dipped our toes into a few new places in 2016 and we’ve committed to seeing a handful of more cities and areas of New York this year. I can’t wait to see more of this beautiful coast.
  • Team Harris. I don’t particularly agree with people who say things don’t change all that much from being engaged to married. Maybe it’s because Z and I made such a drastic change to our life with a cross-country move. I still believe that the stakes are higher once you call someone your husband, not just your boyfriend. My life is no longer about just my wants and needs. I have to consider Z’s needs sometimes even before my own. What I’ve come to learn over the past year, a big lesson taught by my husband, is that when one of us is making decision they are ultimately our decisions. Z is better at change than I am. That’s just a fact in our marriage. He is level-headed and makes choices with carefully thought out logic (excel spreadsheets!) and I wear my heart on my sleeve and make choices with my gut based on the way something makes me feel. Whenever he presents a new idea, like moving apartments for example, he knows I am going to be resistant. “The market has changed, we can save money, we will experience a new neighborhood, etc.” It’s not my idea of a good time. I love our home in Murray Hill. I immediately classify it as his idea. He is doing this to me. Pushing me into this idea. But after I let the dust settle on my reaction, I always realize the same thing. It is the best decision for us. Z has seamlessly been able to change his thinking about what he wants into what’s best for us. True, it is his idea but my husband to date has never proposed something that has only been for his benefit or because he wants to do it. I am always a large factor in his consideration. We are always at the forefront of his decision making. It’s not easy to admit when you’re partner is right, especially when you want to be right. But I am happy to carry this ideology that Z seems to have adapted to so well and patiently waits for me to realize. It’s not about what I want or what he wants. It’s about what we want and what’s best for our life together. It doesn’t mean we will always agree or see the other person’s side but it’s about remembering that neither of us are ever selfishly making decisions. I want to carry this faith of partnership with me into this year and all the years ahead of us. Thanks for the lesson, babe. Even as much as I detest some of your new ideas, I am proud to be on Team Harris.

What do you want to carry and bury into this year?

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Top of the Rock – 1.12.17

{ From Connell to Manhattan }

Fall is serious business in the Harris household, particularly with Mr. Harris. Fall means football. In fact, we’ve discussed that perhaps the word “fall” is just short hand for “football.” The East Coast has presented challenges with its time zone as sometimes Z is staying up from 10:30pm -2:30am to watch his college team, the WSU Cougars, play on the West Coast. The NFL games don’t start until 1pm on Sunday which means at least he gets to sleep in and recover after his late night college football viewings.

Yes, you’re reading this correctly. Weekends at our house are dominated by football.

One of our favorite weekends this fall was when Zach’s best friend, Devin, flew from the very small town of Connell, WA to NYC for a live-action football weekend. Devin is a third generation Notre Dame football fan and when the schedule came out last spring and he saw that the Irish were playing Syracuse in New York he jumped at the chance to visit. Later, we discovered that the Seahawks would be in town the same weekend to play the Jets and thus our back-to-back football weekend at MetLife Stadium was born.

Notre Dame vs. Syracuse. Since MetLife Stadium is in East Rutherford, NJ it was quite an ordeal trying to figure out how to get there with public transit that wouldn’t take over an hour and where we wouldn’t have to take several bus transfers. Z figured out that on game days there is a bus that leaves from Port Authority (first come, first serve) that drops you in the parking lot of the stadium. And even better, it only took 20 minutes! Once we arrived we attempted to join a tailgate but there weren’t as many friendly fans as we predicted. Luckily MetLife has a few bars in the stadium and we found an Irish pub that worked perfectly.

 

It was without a doubt one of the strangest and high-scoring college games any of us have ever been too. There were at least three touchdowns within the first 2 minutes of the game! Notre Dame fans were everywhere and although Devin was skeptical based on their record the Irish pulled out the W! We had an absolute ball!

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Seahawks vs. Jets. It felt like Groundhog’s Day when we woke up for Sunday’s game but we were even more excited to repeat the day all over to see our Seahawks in our new city! I had never been to an away game before but let me tell you, the Hawks fan base rolls DEEP. The terminal at Port Authority had almost triple the amount of fans to the Jets fans which made the bus ride over so much fun. No surprise, however, that once we arrived to the stadium we were out numbered by Jets fans. The Jets fans are known for being a very passionate and loyal fan base so we were a bit timid to let the smack talk roll as freely as it did at the Notre Dame game. But that didn’t stop me from wearing my Richard Sherman jersey and hollering one “You Mad Bro?!” on the way into the stadium. I couldn’t help myself!

The game was close to begin with and then around the 2nd quarter the Hawks began to make the magic happen and pull ahead. A few interceptions, long passes to Doug Baldwin, and a few “3rd and Jimmy’s” later we secured the win. It was a blast to be joined by our friends, Andy and Parv Miller (who coordinated the tickets and game day – thank you!), Andy’s sister and her husband, Courtney and Bryan, and the boys’ friend, Shaun. We were a motley crew in the middle of the Jets fans but we were thankful that the very full Hawks fan area was only a section away.

Devin – Thank you for making the incredibly long journey for a short but very sweet visit to our new home! I know the Irish in NYC was the cherry on top of the visit but it meant the world to us to have you be one of the first visitors in our inaugural year in NYC. You and Zach are like brothers and it is SO much fun to be a part of your dynamic. You are such a good friend to both of us and we can’t wait for our next adventure together! We love you!

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{ September in Seattle }

I am almost caught up to present day on the blogs – woohoo! This post was particularly fun to put together as it included so many of my favorite people in one of my favorite places on earth. Zach and I had committed to a 10-day trip in the Northwest (for what felt like almost ALL of September!) and we packed A LOT into this trip. While it felt like we barely had a minute to spare, it was incredibly fulfilling to see so many people that mean so much to us and to squeeze us into their very busy schedules. My heart is full of gratitude for each and every moment.

Boats, Baseball, & BBQ. From the moment we landed on the West Coast we jumped right into a full and fun itinerary. We had a handful of people that also travelled great distances to meet us for our first weekend in town. Zach’s cousin, Autumn, flew in from San Jose, his Aunt Donna and Uncle Mark drove in from Ellensburg, some of our closest friends, Ryan and Tiffany made the trek across the state from Kennewick, and Z’s oldest friend Becca and her husband Leonard and their kiddos Laney Belle and Graham changed their entire weekend schedule to make it to Seattle to spend the weekend with us. We are grateful beyond words for each of you!

We kicked off the weekend with a family dinner to celebrate Autumn’s birthday at one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Serafina. It was so important and incredibly special to spend our first evening with our family. We hadn’t been altogether since we moved to NYC in February so the whole evening meant a lot to us. A smorgasbord of food, wine, and fun was had by all! So much fun that with the three hour time change, Zach and I realized we had actually been awake for a full 24 hours since we left New York. Totally WORTH IT.

The next day we coordinated an even bigger group of friends and family to attend the Mariners’ Game. All eighteen of us occupied the bleachers in Center Field for beers, hot dogs, and good ol’ fashioned Seattle baseball. The view from the cheap seats was actually perfect and the game turned out to be a great one! We were particularly jazzed that our friends, Erica and Jon, brought their two-year-old Finley for her first ever baseball game. Thank you for braving it so we could spend time with you, Rayments! So glad Fin ended up loving it (AKA distracted herself with her iPad and only stopped for dance party breaks with her Auntie Jojo) and that you two could enjoy the game, too!

Sunday! It’s now been a full 48-hours since we’ve been back and the fun bus was still full speed ahead! Most of the folks that joined us for the game met us in the morning at Zach’s parents’ boat, Big Gin, to spend the morning out on the water in the Puget Sound. It was supposed to rain and by some miracle it turned out to be an absolutely stunning day. Thank you Captain Chris and Dorothy for hosting such a fabulous morning!

We wrapped up boating and headed back to the condo to meet the Lundgren family and we all watched the Seahawks game. Sadly, the game didn’t end in our favor but the afternoon was still a blast with kiddos, pizza, beer, and belly laughs. There is never a dull moment with this group! It was also the first time Zach and I were meeting Becca and Leonard’s baby boy, Graham, who was born the month we moved to NYC. What a babe! We couldn’t get enough of him!

Graham’s big sister Laney and I had a bit of fun with all the lipsticks and glosses I hoard in my purse. Every time she put on a different color she insisted we take a selfie. How can you say no to this cutie pie?!

After the miserable end to the game, we rallied and headed to our dear friends, Augie and Laura’s house, for a BBQ. They offered to host a get-together at their home while we were in town and it was such an incredibly kind gesture. After a weekend of hosting I was happy Dorothy and Chris would be able to relax and that we could have an intimate evening with some of our best friends in their gorgeous home. Augie and Laura has just gotten married weeks before so it was so nice to be able to see them and spend quality time with them after their whirlwind wedding weekend. I WISH I would have taken photos of this evening but I didn’t take a single one. I’m chalking it up to the fact that I was so wrapped up in the moment I couldn’t be bothered to grab a camera. I was fully present. Instead of photos I am left with memories and moments of one of my absolute favorite nights from our trip. It was one of those evenings that reminds you what life is truly all about. Family, friends that feel like family, good food, and big laughs around the dinner table. We were so touched by the impeccable meal Augie and Laura prepared and the overall evening they put together. Augie and Laura – You two are the real deal. Your thoughtfulness in hosting such a beautiful evening touched us all that night. Can’t wait to come back and do it all over again! Thank you times a million!!

Friends, Colleagues, and Babies. The following week was a whirlwind. We visited our friends Heather and Brit and their precious toddler Jackson at their new home in Bryant Park, went out to dinner with some of my oldest college friends, Kelsey and Kyle, had lunch with Zach’s college buddies Lars and AJ, and we somehow found time during the day to visit with old colleagues from our former roles in Seattle. Zach’s grandmother, Thelma, was also kind enough to take the bus from Ellensburg to spend a few nights with us. Thank you to everyone who squeezed in time to see us. We loved the short but sweet hours you were able to share with us!

Weekend in Portland/Vancouver. Our last weekend in town we headed to Vancouver, WA for our friends, Mitch and Kylie’s wedding. Mitch is a friend of Zach’s from college and fraternity, so per usual, the wedding felt like a WSU college reunion. Most of our friends were staying at the same hotel so it felt like a 24/7 social affair. Zach and a few of his friends were in the wedding so on the day of the ladies headed to Portland for a workout at YAS Portland for spin and yoga followed by beers at 10 Barrel Brewing. By some twist of fate one of my mom’s best friends (and basically a second mom to me!) Helen was visiting her son Max in Portland the same weekend. They joined me for drinks before I went back to Vancouver for the wedding. So happy I got to see you both!

Kylie & Mitch’s Wedding. The big day was beautiful! The weather couldn’t have been better and it was such fun to see these two tie the knot with some of our closest friends. The bride made her appearance and she looked like a Marilyn Monroe look alike! Simply gorgeous, Kylie! The day was filled with food trucks, corn hole, good music, and a stunning Northwest sunset. And it should come as no surprise that as soon as the DJ started playing music we all tore up the dance floor.

It was a very bright and sunny day…had to include this blooper…!

We are so happy for you Mr. and Mrs. Angus! We hope the day was everything you hoped it would be and more and that you’re loving the first few months of newlywed-hood as much as we did!

Last Day with the Hawks. The day after the wedding we headed back to Seattle for my final day in town. Z had a few extra days left in Seattle for an annual corporate work retreat so before I headed back to New York we managed to squeeze a Seahawks home game into our schedule…despite my red eye flight home that evening. I know, we’re crazy right?! We are big Hawks fans and season ticket holders and it was our only opportunity to go this season so we jumped on it. It was an awesome game against the 49ers and we took home the W! It was a sad departure to leave a few minutes before the game ended with tearful goodbyes between some of our best friends (miss you already Malia, Jeff, Laura, and Augie!) that we share our season tickets with. So glad we got to have those last few hours with everyone at the CenturyLink!

Dearest Seattle. Thank you for spoiling us with your last days of your sunshine season. You continue to take our breath away and we miss your green backdrop and your beautiful waters terribly. The concrete jungle of NYC pales in comparison to your natural beauty. Thank you for housing some of our favorite people in the world. It always warms our heart to come home and find them thriving and growing their careers and families. Our hearts ache when we have to leave you and especially those people we love so much. We’re so grateful we got to spend as much time with you as we did this summer. See you in 2017!

 

{ Laura & Augie’s Wedding Weekend }

One of the most fun weekends of the summer was our first trip TOGETHER back to Seattle to celebrate Laura and Augie’s nuptials. Zach and I had each attended their bachelor and bachelorette parties and we couldn’t wait to be back in the PNW for the occasion.

Summer in Seattle is like no other place on earth. Zach’s parents have the most incredible view of the Puget Sound from their condo so day one of basking in the glow was the BEST!

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Rehearsal Dinner Luau. Laura and Augie hosted a luau-themed rehearsal dinner at their beautiful new home in North Seattle which also overlooks the Sound. It is a stunning property and Laura has made it a cozy yet elegant home. The evening was a reunion of sorts for all of Zach’s old Kappa Sigma college buddies as well as a reunion with our nearest and dearest friends in the Northwest. They went all out with Hawaiian attire, Hawaiian beer (and of course champs), as well as a food truck with Hawaiian food. We loved every moment! And true to form, the Seattle summer sunset did not disappoint.

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And of course I insisted on a cheesy photo shoot… 😉

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Wedding Day! The next day was a beautiful sun-shining day in Seattle! The boys went golfing while the girls worked out and brunched and at 3:30pm we all gathered at Laura’s parents’ house for the big day. Laura’s parents’ house is picture perfect – it belongs in a magazine! According to Laura, when her parents were building the house she had some major input into the design and layout as she knew she wanted to get married there one day. It was so special to see her and her family’s vision finally come to fruition.

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Augie’s sister, Jessica, was the officiant and it was a sentimental, intimate ceremony. Our most favorite part was when Jessica passed the rings through the congregation so everyone could touch the rings and bestow well wishes upon them for the happy couple. We had never seen that before and absolutely loved the sentiment. Laura was a stunning bride! She had done a last minute dress swap and boy was it worth it! You looked gorgeous, girl! (I may have cried a little!)

After the ceremony the catering crew flipped the outdoor lawn to create a seaside dinner. The guests went back to the house to enjoy appetizers and cocktails but Z and I were the most PUMPED for the oyster bar. We are missing Northwest oysters so much in NYC. The East Coast oysters are giant and lack flavor and we’ve just given up trying to find decent ones in New York. Needless to say, we hovered around the oyster bar for most of the cocktail hour.

The crew was also lookin’ mighty fine that day…

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The evening included the traditional wedding formalities of speeches, dinner, and toasts but every moment was inherently Laura and Augie. The sunset was spectacular and it definitely made us miss our Northwest home. We were so grateful to share a table with some of our closest friends and then bust a move on the dance floor all. night. long. True to tradition, Z and I were the first ones on the dance floor and worked it until the final song played. The night was a BLAST.

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Augie & Laura: We hope your day was everything you had planned it would be and so much more! It was an honor to be a part of it and share in your intentional, thoughtful, and gorgeous day. Your vows touched our hearts and we can’t wait for you to enjoy this newlywed season of life. It truly is the BEST. We love you and wish you a lifetime of adventures in love! 

{ Visit to SoCal }

In addition to being back in LA for Allie and Eric’s wedding we had several days to spend time with my family and friends. It is likely our only trip to SoCal this year and we cherished every minute of time we had there.

Jess & Newport Beach. My soul sister and best friend Jess lives in Orange County and we had to make a visit to see her darling beach bungalow apartment and show Zach Newport Beach and the Peninsula. Jess and I have spent a lot of time there over the years so it was a blast to reminisce and visit some old bars and restaurants we used to frequent. The visit was not without a stop at a real deal Mexican restaurant. The Mexican cuisine is SoCal has yet to be matched in any of the other cities I’ve lived in so I always make a point to eat a local spot when I’m home. And of course, we had to make a trip to the beach to put our toes in the sand and ocean. I miss it so much! Thank you for hosting us for the day, Jess! We loved seeing your digs!

Parents Night Out. My parents wanted to show me and Z their favorite new spot at the Hermosa Pier, Greenbelt, so we made it a night out and had dinner and drinks by the beach. Dinner was followed by one of our go-to’s that makes the BEST speciality cocktails, La Pamilla. Even though we had just seen my parents in NYC it felt so good to have the more quality time with them to pick up where we left off from their visit. Big laughs and strong cocktails!

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Family Friday. I am so lucky to have a family that will go above and beyond to make time to see us when we’re in town, even for the short window of time we had to spare. Grandparents, cousins, aunts, and the kiddos came out to spend the day in Manhattan Beach with us at the house. It was such a wonderful day with good eats, cold drinks, some neighborhood games of Horse, and quality catch-up time.

I insisted on getting a group shot of everyone. The first pic was the best version and the one below it is an example of what the other shots looked like haha. We were just missing Jords & Rick, Uncle Gary, Brooke & Clint, Greg & Nicole, and Jon & Voula!group-shot-nicegroup-shot-prep

One of the highlights of the day was that Papa drove my car, Pearl, from Glendora where he has been keeping it for me. Crazy stupid how much I miss that car! The subway is not nearly as enjoyable as driving your own car. It was so fun to see it again. It feels like I haven’t had my own car in years! Thanks for taking such good care of her, Papa 😉

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The kiddos eventually took off with their GG/my aunt and the adults made our way to a couple of local breweries in Torrance. Loved all the belly laughs and beer tastings with each of you!

So incredibly grateful for all the quality, albeit brief, time I had with all of my family and closest friends. I miss each of you everyday and Z and I can’t WAIT for our next visit! We’re missing California like crazy. Blessed to call such a wonderful place HOME.

Mom & Dad. Miss you everyday. Grateful this long distance life is only temporary and soon we will be back on the same coast! In the mean time, thank you for always being the most gracious and FUN hosts a daughter could ask for!

{ Allie & Eric’s Wedding }

Some MAJOR catching up on the blog today! I am going to try to get this blog up to date as we are already in the middle of fall and the blog is still in the middle of summer!

One of my absolute favorite weekends of the year was celebrating one of my oldest friends, Allie, her now hubby, Eric, and their beautiful wedding. Southern California is picturesque year round but this particular day in July was simply stunning. The sun was out, the coast had a cool breeze, and the bride was glowing!

The wedding was particularly special as it meant my high school best friends and I got to reunite, which only happens a couple times a year. We were able to be with the bride before the wedding for getting ready/bonding time and see her off before the ceremony. We met Allie at the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, one of the most beautiful resorts in the South Bay, and we enjoyed brunch and champagne while Allie got pampered. It was an emotional and precious time to share with her and for us as a group of close friends to share altogether.

One of my favorites moments was watching Allie, her mother, and her sisters take photos before Allie left for her first look with Eric. The Sevy women looked gorgeous and their close-knit bond glowed with pride for their big sister/daughter. So special!

After the family left the villa for photos, Kelly, Miranda, and Rachel and I enjoyed some classic female bonding, sharing the same mirror getting ready, doing each other’s hair, sipping lots of champagne, and reminiscing on the past 16 years of our friendship. So grateful for these women in my life! Eventually the husbands came to join the fun before we headed to the venue.

We arrived at the venue shortly before the ceremony and it took my breath away. Catalina View Gardens had the view of all views! A panoramic view of Palos Verdes, Catalina, and the Pacific Ocean was an idyllic backdrop for such an occasion. The ceremony itself was authentically Allie and Eric and told their love story of the past eight years. Neither the bride or groom could stop smiling and the happiness was contagious!

Allie was the most STUNNING bride! She was glowing from the inside out. In true Allie form, she was saying hello and giggling to all the guests the whole way down the aisle. Loved watching you soak in every moment, Al!

The reception did not disappoint. Every detail was perfectly executed and delivered the rustic elegance theme beuatifully. From the centerpieces to the lights to the music, every detail was intrinsically Allie and Eric. We danced the night away to classic rock, oldies, top 40, and everything in between. True to form in our group of friends, we were the first and last ones on the the dance floor.

And what wedding is complete without a photo shoot with your gorgeous friends…

Allie & Eric – Thank you for including us in your special day! We are so thrilled for you both and know that the next year as newlyweds will be one of the most memorable of your lives! We will cherish your special day with you always! We can’t wait for more good times together in all the years ahead! We love you!

{ The Novaks Take NYC! }

This summer has come and gone and I have so much catching up to do on the incredible summer we’ve had!

July kicked off in the BEST way with some of our very closest friends, Kyle and Kelsey Novak, visiting us for the Fourth of July! We did so many things while they were here from brunches to dinner dates, to playing in Central Park and Broadway shows, we did New York and we did it up right.

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Bocce Ball in Central Park. One of our favorite wedding gifts from our friends Jeff and Cathy was a bocce ball set from Crate & Barrel. We had yet to christen it and with the Novaks in town it was the perfect time to break it in.

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We split up the couples and played Z and Kels versus Kyle and Jojo. Despite that Z and Kels are cheaters strategic players and that Kyle and I did our best, the uneven ground of Central Park created a whole new level of challenge to the game. Z and Kels took the ‘W’ and we had an absolute blast! So many onlookers were trying to figure out what game we were playing, it was slightly entertaining. We kept thinking “do they not have bocce ball on the East Coast?”

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Sunset Cruise. When my parents were in town we took them on a boat cruise of the Statue of Liberty and the southern tip of the island. It truly is the perfect way to see Manhattan from the water so we knew it was a ‘must’ when the Novaks were in town. We decided to change it up and do the sunset cruise which could not have been more perfect. The July sunset proved to be the ultimate part of the cruise, reflecting on the city and Lady Liberty to the point where it took your breath away. Kelsey took some incredible snapshots that I’ve posted below. It was definitely one of everyone’s favorite parts of the trip. We hit the Brass Monkey afterwards for some rooftop cocktails to end the night!

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Fourth of July: Coney Island & The Beach Boys. We all checked off a major bucket list item with our holiday plans. We had found out months earlier that Coney Island has a summer concert series at the Ford Amphitheater on their boardwalk and that The Beach Boys would be playing on Fourth of July. It was a unanimous decision to go to the show. I mean, does it get more American than that?!

We decided to get to Coney Island a few hours earlier to jump on some of the rides and grab some dinner. Kelsey was a total sport despite her fear of some of the roller coasters (way to go, girl!) and we got to make it on two rides before the show.

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We played our Spotify and Pandora Beach Boys playlists leading up to the concert and we were shocked at how many of the songs we actually knew the words to. We were rocking out, dancing in the aisles, FaceTiming parents to sing along, and singing our hearts out all night long. It was hands down one of the best shows we’ve been to. If you ever have the chance to see them DO IT. Feel good, happy music, a crowd of all ages, and no shame in the dancing game amongst any concert-goers. The night was capped off with fireworks on the boardwalk. God bless America!

I should also mention that John Stamos was the guest drummer, guitarist, back-up singer and bass player. I mean Uncle Jesse is lookin’ pretty good. It’s like the man hasn’t aged. He only added to the epic-ness of the entire evening!

School of Rock Musical. Our last night came way too soon but we weren’t slowing down. Despite how tired we were from our day at Coney Island we decided to put on our date night finest and head to the Theater District to see School of Rock: The Musical. We picked it after seeing a performance from the Tony Awards and it also fell within our last minute ticket purchase budget. We went in with minimal expectations and we left blown away. The cast includes a number of pre-teens that are required to play musical instruments and they actually do! The talent and the energy was palpable and the theater nerd in me was especially excited to hear Andrew Lloyd Weber’s music composition in rock form. For those who don’t know he wrote the music for The Phantom of the Opera. We had such a ball and were so happy we decided to see it! Four sets of two thumbs up!

Kyle & Kelsey, thank you for being our first friends to make the cross-country trek to see us in our new home! You will always hold a special place in our hearts and this visit meant so much to us. If there’s one thing I can say about you two, is that you know it’s never going to be a bad time hangin’ with the Novaks. Thank you for sharing your energy and adventurous spirit with us and helping us check off some of our own NYC bucket list items off the list! We love you! Can’t wait for the next adventure!

{ America’s Cup }

Sunday Funday! This past weekend NYC hosted the America’s Cup on the Hudson River for the first time in 120 years. There were a ton of New Yorkers gathered at Brookfield Place to see the final races of the weekend. We found some standing real estate where the crowds were fewer and the views were bigger for the first few races.

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The Millers met up with us to catch the last half of the races where we braved the crowds at the main area where you could hear the announcers call out the race.

The front of Brookfield Place houses a marina where we GIANT sailboats and yachts can park. The passengers/owners of the two sailboats in the photo above were on their boats and likely had the best seat in the house. I also love that other photo of the crowds and their cell phones to capture a shot of the USA sailboat!

After the events wrapped up we headed to a local beer hall, Clinton Hall, which has a great outdoor patio with all sorts of games to play while you enjoy your brew. It is dog-friendly too so Homer Miller was able to hang and play. One of the games was a mismatched Jenga set with all different shapes and sizes of pieces. It made the game a lot more interesting…

I swear my husband can smell a ping pong table from a mile away and without pause he and Andy played round after round with a furry fan watching their entire game, who actually just wanted to be the ball boy…

Parv and I had our own lil tourney of GIANT Connect Four while Homer was the local celebrity of the patio. Every adult, child, and waiter wanted to meet him, pet him, and take him home with them. Can’t say I blame them!

On our way home we walked through Wall Street to see the infamous Bull. I didn’t realize one of the “things to do” when you see the Bull is to touch his (ahem) balls for good luck….hmmmm maybe next time? We thought taking a picture in front would suffice! (Lucky balls not pictured below)

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It was a full day in the sun and we enjoyed every minute! So lucky to have the Millers here who are up for just about anything. Glad to check this off the bucket list with you guys!

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And one last shot of the Brooklyn Bridge before we called it a day!