Welcome to October, friends! Technically, it’s been October for a while, but this past weekend was the girls’ fall break from school, so it really feels like we’re in the midst of the season now! Over the past four days we’ve really laid it on thick with all the quintessential things. We managed to:
Finally attend the Fall Festival at Anderson Farms, out in Erie, Colorado
Hit up the girls’ favorite park — Paco Sanchez Park — for a Mom/daughter date with Lotte
Get in lots of outdoor time for scootering and bike riding
Pick up some supplies from the local library for a marathon afternoon of Halloween movie watching (and, while we were there, checked out Lotte’s kindergarten artwork on display!)
Have I mentioned we love fall?
Day 1: Anderson Farms Fall Festival
Thursday was Day 1 of the girls’ fall break, and we met up with my cousin and her three cuties at Anderson Farms for their fall festival. This placewas awesome, and I have a feeling that it’s a pretty good thing we went on a weekday (tickets are cheaper on weekdays, too!). I imagine weekends might be a madhouse. But we got lucky, and on a random Thursday there were no lines for things like duck races, hay rides, bouncy castles, corn mazes, barrel rides and so much more.
I HIGHLY recommend this place if you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids!
Day 2: Paco Sanchez Park
On Friday, Lotte and I stole away from the rest of the crew for a bit to visit a park that Chris had introduced the girls to, but that I had never been to before. According to their website, “the giant 1950s microphone-inspired tower heralds the horizon, but the built-in play value is what really makes this park honoring local radio DJ Paco Sanchez truly extraordinary.”
Well, no kidding … take a look at this place!
I love some good family time, of course, but it’s also awesome to get away with just one girl every so often.
One quick note: If you do come here, the playground is recommended for kids from five to 12, but of course it’ll be up to you decide if your kid is ready for the dexterity that all the play equipment requires.
Day 3: Boo at the Zoo!
On Saturday, we met up with one of Grace’s preschool friends to check out the Halloween decorations at the zoo. We didn’t actually spend a lot of time paying attention to the animals, but the kids had a great time together, and it was so lovely getting to know Judah’s parents a bit better, too.
I had done some research on Saratoga ahead of time, and last weekend in Vermont my cousin recommended a couple places to us as well. (She lives in Albany, which is a hop, skip and a jump away from Saratoga.)
I think I should preface this post by saying that we had a deluge of snow the day before we drove to Saratoga, and pretty much every place looks magical in a snowy winter wonderland … am I right? Even without the snow, though, I know I would have fallen in love with Saratoga. The downtown area was so charming (and of course it was still decorated for Christmas with twinkling white lights and red bows everywhere … that certainly didn’t hurt it), the people were so friendly and every place we went had really great food and drink.
Our first stop was a recommendation of my cousin’s — Ravenous, for their crepes and Pommes Frittes. They come with all different kinds of dipping sauces. We tried the Aioli, Cajun Spicy Mayo and Mango Chutney. Seriously delicious.
^^ My warm apple cider with orange wasn’t too shabby, either.
After stuffing our faces, we decided to check out the town for a bit before checking into our hotel.
^^ This hotel was closed for repairs, but I thought it was just so beautiful.
After our little introduction to the town we headed to the hotel.
So about the hotel. I feel like I should start by saying — it was perfectly lovely. Seriously, very lovely — charming even. I mean look at those cute horse wreathes that greet you at the front door! The building is kept locked at all times, and the friendly innkeeper lets you in when you arrive. There’s a warm fireplace and classic, historic decorations — everything about this place is cute and cozy and nice.
I just have a small but. The thing is — we paid a lot for our room. Like … a lot. (It was $300 after taxes, and that was the lowest priced King room available.) And for some reason I had convinced myself that I booked a room with a jacuzzi tub, and you know how when you think you’ve done something, and get your hopes all up for it — well I just really wanted that jacuzzi tub! And I mean, the room was fine, people. Honestly, it was quite nice. Perfectly pleasant. Very well looked after. I guess I was just … expecting more. What can I say. I’ve spent a lot of time in a lot of hotels up to this point in my life, and I’ve spent a wide range of money on those hotels. All I’m saying is … besides location (and the seriously scrumptious breakfast that’s included in the morning!), I’m just not quite sure this place was worth the price. That’s all.
But moving on! Despite the disappointment of not having a jacuzzi (!), we still had a whole night ahead of us. Our first night stop would be to The Wine Bar — another of my cousin’s recommendations. A huge plus of Saratoga Arms — all of our stops were within walking distance, even though it was about 0 degrees outside!
We sat by the fire and the white lights twinkled and our waitress was lovely. And we ordered the warm olive appetizer and Chris a Manhattan and me a glass of white wine. Then we both ordered another glass of wine — red this time– and here my friends is where I’ll share a little something with you. It was here at The Wine Bar in Saratoga Springs, New York, that I had — ready for it? — the best wine of my life. I mean … seriously! This friggin’ wine was so. amazingly. delicous. Even Chris was jealous. I had the waitress give me my menu back so I could write down exactly what it was, which was a Santa Julia Malbec from Argentina/Menoza. It also was organic, which I honestly think might have made a difference.
If you are in Saratoga and find yourself at The Wine Bar (which you should … thanks for the recommendation Alyssa!), you must, must, must try this wine! You’ll thank me later, I promise.
Anyway, after warming up with wine, we headed back out into the cold to our dinner reservations at Mouzon House. Here’s where I have to give Saratoga Arms another big shout out — about two days before we were meant to arrive I received a welcome email from them with parking instructions, town and weather information, as well as a list of local restaurants that they recommended, Mouzon House being one of them. They even called and made the reservation for us. (Am I being a hotel snob about this place? Probably. The more I write about it the more charming I feel like it was.)
Anyway, the Mouzon House. Another massive, humongous hit!
^^We were a tad early for our reservation, so we sat at the bar and ordered some drinks first. Our bartender told us she was also a realtor, and she had helped her friend purchase the restaurant. The building had formerly belonged to the Mouzon family, and the woman who they bought the house from was the first African American woman to graduate from the local community college. She said the fact that they wanted to keep the family name in the name of the restaurant was a big reason why she thinks they were given the deal in the first place. The majority of the house had been left as is — even the rooms upstairs were still in bedroom form. Oh, and there was a ghost. The ghost was a friendly ghost, Mrs. Bartender told us, but she didn’t even have to say that .. Chris and I have a feeling about these things, and we already knew.
^^ Somehow the restaurant knew it was our one year anniversary — I guess the hotel told them when they called?Anyway, they gave us our creme brûlée with a candle in it, and that was super cute.
For dinner I ordered the vegetarian jambalaya, and Chris had the steak. We also ordered the asparagus appetizer and another bottle of wine, and everything was to die for. Perhaps even more amazing, though, was the fact that the couple sitting directly across from us was celebrating their 56th wedding anniversary — and they could not have been cuter. At one point I looked over and the woman was fixing her husband’s shirt. When they left he helped her put her coat on.
If only Chris and I can get that lucky to be as in love as day one at our 56th anniversary.
So at this point in the evening, I had also wanted to check out the 9 Maple Ave. jazz bar, but unfortunately all the wine I had already consumed started to make me feel like the warm hotel was calling my name, so we called it a night.
The next morning we were up early though. Breakfast is served between 8 and 10 in the dining room, and it’s a sit down, order type of breakfast. I got the oatmeal (remember I wasn’t feeling well!), and Chris had the chef’s special mushroom omelet which, in his words, was “the best omelet I ever had in my life.”
Okay fine — so Saratoga Arms was quite lovely, I get it. It’s just that when you’re spending that much money, you might as well splurge an extra $50-$60 and get a room with a jacuzzi or a fireplace. That’s just my opinion. Noted for next time.
After breakfast we packed up and checked out, and headed back into the town to check out a couple of other stores we had seen the day before. We even ended up finding an old vintage New York City map for $6 — the best find!
I also wanted to check back on this house we had passed when trying to find the parking garage for the hotel. I mean … check this place out …
Our googling has yet to turn up what this place actually is. Is it someone’s home? Is it a business? Whatever it is, I envision this will be what my next home looks like. That’s reasonable … right?
And that, my friends, was Saratoga. It was the perfect little getaway for an anniversary weekend, and I cannot wait to get back there at some point to explore in warmer weather!
Bis bald, my friends! Only only month until Iceland — I simply cannot wait!
If you guys are anything like me, you’re akin to a kid in a candy store the second the calendar hits October 1. Who doesn’t love the crisp fall air, the changing leaves, an extra hour of sleep, carving pumpkins, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin pie, pumpkin … anything!?
Which is why I’m ecstatic that my sister dragged the family to The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at the Van Cortlandt Manor upstate. I cannot tell a lie — at first I was dubious. I didn’t actually believe that walking around and looking at some carved, lit pumpkins could be cool.
I can now admit that I was way wrong.
This exhibit features over 5,000 individually hand-carved pumpkins made into pretty much everything you can imagine.
Combine that with pumpkin and cider donuts and hot apple cider — which they also had — and you’ve pretty much got my perfect fall evening.
It’s hard to take photos of carved, lit pumpkins. In the dark. On your iPhone. But I gave it a whirl. Here’s some of what we saw last weekend ….
The exhibit runs for another two weeks — but good luck getting tickets, because they’re pretty much sold out. Next year, however, if you happen to be in the area during the time it’s running, I would highly recommend checking it out!
On the way back into the city early the following morning (to help my friend shop for a wedding dress … she found one!), I snapped this picture from the train:
Sheesh I love this time of year. I mean … come on now.
It’s also worth mentioning that on Sunday we watched Chris’s uncle run the New York City marathon (he came all the way from Australia to run) …. and he got a five-minute PR! Way to go, Matt!
Bis bald, friends! Hope everyone is making the most of these gorgeous fall days while we have ’em!
Chris and I just arrived back from our Valentine’s Day trip to Tarrytown, a quaint little town about 45 minutes north of the city, and I have to say–I loved everything about it. Since it’s winter it was obviously a bit freezing outside, and some of the stores in the town and some of the historical sites were closed for the winter months, but still, we managed to have an awesome time just the same.