My Second Super Secret Birthday Trip of 2013 — Complete!

Hi friends,
So this past weekend myself and Chris, my mom, sister and her boyfriend, my uncle, aunt and cousin, all surprised my stepdad for his 50th birthday with a trip to Syracuse (his alma mater) for a basketball game.
It was a pretty amazing trip — if I do say so myself! And while I’m not totally convinced that Robert didn’t see much of the surprise coming, at the end of the day we all had an amazing time, so that’s really all that matters, right?

photo 1^^ Surprise! We’re kidnapping you and taking you to Syracuse!
At least he had already dressed for the part 😉

photo 2^^ We couldn’t take our pooch Ranger with us,
but he supported the cause.

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photo 6^^ Shenanigans will most definitely ensue when my mother is drinking!

photo 7^^ Awwwwwww!

photo 8^^ Auntie M and my cousin Nikki. Two amazing ladies.

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photo 12^^ I think Robert was excited about our awesome seats (thank you StubHub!)

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photo 14^^ The big 5-0!

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Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, we also won the game 😉

We visited Faegan’s Pub afterwards, which was fun, and we stayed at The Parkview Hotel, which was a seriously short cab ride to the Carrier Dome, and a very good price (plus free breakfast!).

Surprise birthday celebrations are pretty much the best.

Anyway, up and coming this week:

We’re off to Vermont the day after Christmas for some snowboarding, and we’ll be heading to Iceland in February, which I seriously cannot wait for.

‘Tis the season for dreams, wishes and plans, my friends!

Bis bald!

Life Recently: An Ode to My Husband on His 30th Birthday

Bear with me, friends, as I write a post that’s mushy and sentimental.

Two of my husband’s favorite things 😉

Today is Chris’s 30th birthday. To honor it, I thought I’d pull together a couple of photos from just the 10 months we’ve spent together since we got married this past New Year’s Eve. And can I just say — I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined that I could have so much fun with one person. You’re my best friend. My travel partner. My partner in crime. Here’s to all the memories we’ve made so far, and to the millions more to come.

^^ Grabbing pretzels from the street vendor near Central Park after our Dec. 31, 2012 nuptials at City Hall.
^^ Grabbing pretzels from the street vendor near Central Park after our Dec. 31, 2012 nuptials at City Hall.
^^ Celebrating Day 1 of being married with brunch from our hotel room at The Standard overlooking the Manhattan skyline.
^^ Celebrating Day 1 of being married with brunch from our hotel room at The Standard overlooking the Manhattan skyline.
^^ Winter in Central Park.
^^ Winter in Central Park.
^^ Of course I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the other two members of our little family -- Penelope the cat, and ...
^^ Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the other two members of our little family — Penelope the Cat, and …
^^ Nugget, the old man bunny
^^ Nugget, the Old Man Bunny
^^ We celebrated our first Valentines Day as a married couple in Tarrytown with the most delicious meal (and cutest company!) you could imagine.
^^ We celebrated our first Valentines Day as a married couple in Tarrytown with the most delicious meal (and cutest company!) you could imagine.
^^ On March 11 we welcomed into the world our nephew, Rory, born in Pennsylvania
^^ On March 11 we welcomed into the world our nephew, Rory, born in Pennsylvania
^^ Oh yeah. I turned 30 this year, too. We celebrated with a hike with friends at Breakneck Ridge ...
^^ Oh yeah. I turned 30 this year, too. We celebrated with a hike with friends at Breakneck Ridge …
^^ And a delicious meal, ending this insanely decadent dessert.
^^ And a delicious meal, ending with this insanely decadent dessert.
^^ On April 27 we celebrated our marriage for a second time, this time with some friends and family at a winery in upstate New York.
^^ On April 27 we celebrated our marriage for a second time, this time with some friends and family at a winery in upstate New York.
^^ And also with this Grooms' Cake, celebrating Chris accomplishing his '5-in-5' World Marathon goal, which he had just done, the weekend before, in London.
^^ And also with this Grooms’ Cake, celebrating Chris accomplishing his ‘5-in-5’ World Marathon goal, which he had just done, the weekend before, in London.
^^ We spent the most amazing two weeks with my in-laws, including our trip to London for Chris's marathon and the wedding party upstate.
^^ We spent the most amazing two weeks with my in-laws, including our trip to London for Chris’s marathon and the wedding party upstate.
^^ On June 1 we had our third wedding celebration, this time a backyard Aussie barbecue at my parents' house in Jersey. Food included these delicious mac 'n' cheese cups, among many, many other goodies!
^^ On June 1 we had our third wedding celebration, this time a backyard Aussie barbecue at my parents’ house in Jersey. Food included these delicious mac ‘n’ cheese cups, among many, many other goodies!
^^ In July we had a visit from Chris's sister Kate and her boyfriend Jimmy.
^^ In July we had a visit from Chris’s sister Kate and her boyfriend Jimmy.
^^ We went to Arizona and Charlotte over July 4th weekend ...
^^ We went to Arizona and Charlotte over July 4th weekend …
^^ And saw some pretty amazing stuff.
^^ And saw some pretty amazing stuff.
^^ We hosted Rory on his first visit to NYC, taking him to Central Park, Turtle Pond and, yes, to his very first NYC pub.
^^ We hosted Rory on his first visit to NYC, taking him to Central Park, Turtle Pond and, yes, to his very first NYC pub.
^^ We took a trip to Governor's Island over the summer to check out some artwork.
^^ We took a trip to Governor’s Island over the summer to check out some artwork.
^^ We celebrated Chris's birthday early in St. Augustine, Florida, with some friends and a two-day music festival.
^^ We celebrated Chris’s birthday early in St. Augustine, Florida, with some friends and a two-day music festival.
^^ At the end of last month and beginning of this one, I packed up my dress and wedding gear and loaded it onto a plane to Australia for our fourth, and we do believe final, wedding celebration.
^^ On Sept. 24,  I packed up my dress and wedding gear and loaded it onto a plane to Australia for our fourth, and we do believe final, wedding celebration.
^^ Oh, and we had our honeymoon at the Great Barrier Reef, too!
^^ Oh, and we had our honeymoon at the Great Barrier Reef, too!
^^ Last night, as Chris was officially 30 in Australia, we celebrated with wine, cupcakes and Indiana Jones.
^^ Last night, as Chris was officially 30 in Australia, we celebrated with wine, cupcakes and Indiana Jones.

And tonight, it’ll be the steak dinner that my husband always wants for his birthday meal. A man with simple needs. I like it 😉

Anyway, what I mean to say is — you’re kinda the best, Chris Connor. And I’m sure glad we found each other, because I’m not exactly sure what my life would look like without you, but I know for certain it wouldn’t be this colorful and fun.

Bis bald, friends!

A Birthday Trip for the Books: Part I

Hi friends,

So this past weekend we headed off to my old stomping grounds, St. Augustine, Florida, to take in the Gentleman of the Road Stopover Tour for Chris’s Super Secret 30th Birthday Trip. Two of our friends (who are currently dating, thanks to us 😉 ), came with us and surprised Chris on the plane. He had no idea they would be there. It was sort of amazing.

The entire package was booked through CID entertainment, including our hotel (The Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites St. Augustine North — which was fantastic), the 2-day festival tickets, two t-shirts, two posters and shuttle passes to and from the festival grounds until 3 in the morning. They made everything so simple for us, and I was SUPER impressed with them. If you’re ever thinking of booking a package through them, I’d highly recommend it!

Anyway, back to last Friday, our friends Jon and Rachel had surprised Chris on the plane, and we were off! We rented cars in Jacksonville and drove the 45 mins to St. Augustine. Friday we started with some delicious seafood at Mango Mango’s near the beach (try their famous Corn Cakes with Monterrey Jack … to die for!), then we hung out on the beach for a while (where I played touch football for my first time ever … yikes), and got some drinks at the Beachcomber Restaurant, which is right on the beach.

^^Cute little houses on the way to the beach
^^Cute little houses on the way to the beach

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^^We changed into our swimsuits in the public restroom across the street from Mano Mango’s. Classy people we are.

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^^View from the Beachcomber. Not too shabby.
^^View from the Beachcomber. Not too shabby.

After our early afternoon beach visit we headed to Publix to pick up drinks for Saturday’s boat trip (oh Publix, how I’ve missed you!), then went back to the hotels to shower and get ready to catch the shuttle to downtown for the festival. 

A word about St. Augustine’s downtown area. It’s gorgeous. So cute, and a lot of fun to explore. Every street you turn down has a different and interesting feel to it — art stores, cafes, bakeries, bars, it’s just really fun. This trip was not, however, a site-seeing trip, so I won’t be talking much about the downtown area other than to say that if you go to St. Augustine, you must visit it. The concert venue was in a park that was literally in the middle of the downtown, but it was late both Friday and Saturday when we got out, so we pretty much picked a bar both nights and hung out.

On Friday night Chris and I were excited to catch Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. And they definitely did not disappoint. Neither did the venue, actually …

^^Check out all the wrist tags we needed! Shuttle. Concert. Drinks. Boat. Check!
^^Check out all the wrist tags we needed! Shuttle. Concert. Drinks. Boat. Check!

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^^This last photo was actually from Saturday night's show when Mumford was playing and it was lightning in the background. But we'll get to that ...
^^This last photo was actually from Saturday night’s show when Mumford was playing and it was lightning in the background. But we’ll get to that …

After the show we did get to take in a little bit of the downtown area while waiting to meet up with our friends.

^^Chris with the Castillo de San Marcos fort in the background.
^^Chris with the Castillo de San Marcos fort in the background.
^^Chris thought he needed to take 150 packets of cheese from the pizza truck at the festival. Ask if those made it home with us ...
^^Chris thought he needed to take 150 packets of cheese from the pizza truck at the festival. Ask if those made it home with us …
^^ Chris and the oldest wooden school house in America.
^^ Chris and the oldest wooden school house in America.

Something else that was really fun was that the city put gigantic moustaches all around, in random places, in honor of the Gentlemen Tour. They pretty much cracked me up. I wanted to post some photos here, but since I’m out of photo space, I guess that’ll have to wait until I upgrade the site.

Okay friends. I’m off to upgrade this WordPress package of mine so I can hop back on here soon and finish up info from our St. Augustine trip before we head out to Australia this Tuesday!

Bis bald, everyone! Hope you all have fun weekend plans!

A 30th Birthday Celebration for the Books: Hiking in Breakneck Ridge

Breakneck Ridge, Cold Spring
Oh hey, Hudson River on a gorgeous, sunny day!

Hey friends!

So someone (ahem, me) just had a birthday, and it was a big one. That’s right, the big 3-0! So in honor of getting older, I decided to do something to make me feel younger–go on a 3-mile long, rock-climbing hike.

The place we picked was Breakneck Ridge in the Cold Spring area. It’s about 2.8 miles in total, and let me tell you — it is strenuous! 

Holy rock climbing!
Holy rock climbing!

I have some amazing friends who agreed to go on this hike with me!

Thanks for going along with my crazy idea, gang!
Thanks for going along with my crazy idea, gang!

We all packed some food (and my husband packed a 3 liter bag of boxed wine to carry the entire way … what a husband!) and drinks and sunscreen and took off for the day. I would say it took us about 4 1/2 hours to hike it, but that included about an hour stop for a picnic at the top.

A tasty assortment of goodies, including homemade baked cookies by a good friend from college and Trader Joe's brownies with a birthday candle from a former co-worker.
A tasty assortment of goodies, including homemade baked cookies by a good friend from college and Trader Joe’s brownies with a birthday candle from a former co-worker.
The 3-liter bag of wine that Chris took out of the box of wine he purchased, which he carried the entire duration of the hike. That's my man.
The 3-liter bag of wine that Chris took out of the box of wine he purchased, which he carried the entire duration of the hike. That’s my man.

There were many points of the hike that provided awesome and amazing overlooks of the Hudson, and it was the perfect day to hike—sunny and in the low 50s. Here’s a little bit of what we saw:

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We envisioned this point being somewhere near the end. It was not.

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And so, we all made it through, all the way to the end, and I was so proud of everyone…

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After the hike, before catching the train back to the city, we stopped at the Cold Spring Depot (which is walking distance to the train stop) for beers:

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And so that’s about it, my friends. I had such an amazing time. It felt nice to be outside, we had an amazing group with us and I’d recommend this hike for anyone who’s game for some awesome, strenuous rock climbing.

One other word of note: If you’re planning on catching the train from New York City to Breakneck Ridge, I’m told you can alert the conductor to the fact that you want to get off at Breakneck, and that sometimes they’ll stop there for you (otherwise there are only two stops directly at Breakneck a day). We thought we’d get off at Cold Spring and walk to the trail, but it turns out that’s about a 4+ mile walk. We were not game to do that before even starting the hike, so we had parts of our gang who were driving pick us up. Just something to think about.

Bis bald, friends! Off to London week after next! My lovely in-laws have purchased Les Miserables tickets for us for Friday night when we get there. I love London theater, and I’ve never seen Les Mis, so I’m really looking forward to this!