Park City, Utah 2012. One solid trip :)
PS: two good laughs in the videos below. Lee & Jeff's snowshoe race failure ....and Chris finally getting the van taxi out of the ice and snow covered driveway. (had to be there?)
There's nothing (nothing) to me like the outdoors to free my mind and allow balance to take over. (Maybe the mind freeing has something to do with the altitude? I kid. But seriously, the thin air does a doozy on my bod that first day.) While 10/11 housemates enjoyed the slopes for Saturday and Sunday, I kickstarted the trip with my own yoga in the bedroom overlooking the Canyons. And then I plopped myself down on the bed. Silence in this grand house in the mountains. I took it all in. Silence like that is a gift. And then off I went....to take some time in town with a side of people watching which allowed me to soar through a new book (details to come) with both a house brew, buffulo burger + coffee. Odd combo, I know. Evening set in, hot-tub action and the 30th birthday-ing celebrations continued for Lee. But not before some laugter-inducing drama with the taxi van. High West Distillery dinner with the gang. Of all the pretzels in all the world, this one takes the cake. Sunday didnt feel like Sunday out west. I ventured to Park City Yoga for an all levels hatha class and after those 75min I was even more alive. Even more...even paced. I had all intentions to indulge in the Stein Erikson's spa/water lounge that afternoon but I left PCYoga with such a light heart, I didnt think any more marginal relaxation would get me to a better place than I was in that instant. So I drove home, I dusted off the winter gear, and took a snow walk. A winding path led me to an edge where some snowshoe tracks had been made. Barrier jumped and in I sunk, knee deep in the powder. Immediatly, I was a small kid again, trudging through the dusty snow path, on an little adventure to...well, nowhere really. The aspen trees have eyes, you know. They do! Pizza and beers gave us sleepy eyes which lead to an early Monday morning where snowshoeing was the adventure at hand. I love how the world works, granting us with a guide full of energy and life (a Morman-man, nicest most pleasant soul in Utah I would bet.) 5 miles of trails, sceneic overlooks, and time together. "Today is a 2012 favorite!", I proclaimed mid hike. It certainly was. I love how solid a sandwich tastes after an exhaustive day in the wilderness. Mmmm, it hit the spot. You know what else hit the spot, Red Iguana. Confused and albiet a bit miffed about a drive back to Salt Lake City from our cozy abode....this restaurant hit it out of the park. Dare I say the best most authentic "dirty" mexican food I have ever had. Bourdain's name is written all over this place. The cucumber margarita was spot flipping on to boot. And then....then Tuesday, we vegged. We perused Main Street (oh hello, LAFco candles, you are my new favs) and enjoyed Back Door Deli sammies, which we've waited for all year long. Hot chocolate and double jumbo marshmellows. Country music and winding roads. Smart wool socks and curling up on the couch.
Park City, Utah 2012. One solid trip :)
PS: two good laughs in the videos below. Lee & Jeff's snowshoe race failure ....and Chris finally getting the van taxi out of the ice and snow covered driveway. (had to be there?)
Snowshoeing. What a day! Fresh powder. Great workout. Spectacular views. Nicest guide in the west.
"Happy Anniversary!" a random woman and her husband whispered and winked as we boarded our flight. (They must've overheard the gate agent ask us about the reason for our trip.) It was the first time we had heard the sentiment said outloud in acknowledgment of our 1yr... and for some reason, the stranger's words warmed my heart as if they were said by a dear friend. I've been awash with good feelings and memories of the year as my mind would wander to December 4th of last year. A proper post of reminiscence will certainly come about next weekend but this trip was an early celebration of our first year as Mr & Mrs. A time to completely relax and let go of the world for a bit (although we must admit it took us a good 48hrs to really get into that groove of calm where reading and the sound of waves in the background felt normal). A string of days that let us have moments of just-us-ness. It felt like a planet of our own those 4 full days. Settling into conversations about everything under the sun that went on for hours or popped up for a quick min in the middle of the day---ones that have seemed to evade us these past few months as our schedule---but now given their ample time to grow into life ideas and simple wonderment. To take the word "busy" out of the equation and just be....
to be kids again and run around in the waves at sunset...
to take a midday sail...and swim with some sea creatures!
to enjoy the day and evening strolls on the beach (and even few puffs of Lee's cigar;)
and to fall in love all over again :)
Wow. What a year it has been. With a very important wedding this upcoming weekend and our anniversary trip over Thanksgiving to round out November...it's safe to say, 2011 has been packed to the brim :)
This was more than a wedding...this was a *fete*. A three day affair in Paradise Valley, Arizona that had all attendees best friends by the end and wondering when we could all get together again. Talk about a chapter in our Fall Wedding Circuit novel...one full of highlights, sun, southwest fliar and (naturally, a whole lotta) love.
A Top Ten Rundown of the Downing-Fletcher Wedding:
10. The Welcome Box: First of all, this was massive. And contained more treats and goodies than one could ever ask for. Combine this with the hotel's free warm chocolate chip cookies upon arrival and bam, you have yourself one happy pair. The agenda and contents welcomed us to AZ with such Linds & Brian-ness about it....and we were thrilled to get to experience it all. Including the rattlesnake eggs;)
9. Hiking Camelback Mountain: One of the best hikes I've ever had, strenuous but fun with sweeping views of the Valley. Covered in red rock dust and so thankful I brought my Merrell hiking boots, Thursday's hike was a total success! Add this to the "great memories as husband and wife" book on the ledge;)
8. Lunch @ ASU: What a gorgeous campus! I now know why my sweet friend EJ took one visit to ASU our senior year in high school and never turned back;) Mill Street (the College Ave of ASU for my PSU readers) is dotted with bars galore, great shops and outdoor eateries. Did I mention it is always sunny in Tempe? Yeah. The good life.
7. The Welcome Party: Let's make it very clear that the Downings know how to throw a party. In the gorgeous (and sprawling!) patio underneath the stars, they welcomed out of town guests with a mexican feast and margaritas. Hugs + tequilla + toasting to the bride & groom = so happy.
6. Mountain Biking in Sedona: It was up & at'em for us on Friday morning! A 2hr drive north and we arrived in Red Rock County. As you drive up highway 17 to Sedona, its colorful rocks peak out along the horizon and just beg you to come for a visit. After trying out the more extreme mountain bike trails at first (and a few tears shed by yours truly), we opted for a still hard, yet much more leisurly route. Only then was I a happy camper. After 4 hours, we made our way back to Paradise Valley with two really, really essential pit stops: In & Out Burger(overrated IMO)....and the JCrew Outlet(never overrated IMO). Also enroute home, we experienced our first desert haboob, ha! Dust storms are a crazy weather phenom in the southwest, but have no fear, we survived :)
5. Late Night with Linds & Brian: From outdoor adventuring to a cocktail party? Sign. Us. UP. The bride and groom were glowing after a wonderful rehearsal and more cheers filled the presidential suite of the hotel. I think Lee's words to Bri were "dude, where's the Tiger? Mike Tyson hanging out?". Just one awesome party space. (photo on left does not it justice but I had to post one w the Pi Phi gals;)
4. The Ceremony: In the words of a fellow guest, Liz...the only thing more beautiful than the setting was the bride. With Camelback mountain as the backdrop, rose petal lined aisle and country music playing in the background....this set quite the romantic tone. Que the wedding chills. I was so loving every second of this ;)
(Ps: can we address for one moment my Cruella D'Ville brunette strip of hair? UGH. Blonde failure. Highlights appointment made for Wednesday.)
3. The Details: If you know my Linds, noone is surprised by the absolute attention to detail in every capacity for this wedding but boy did she surprise us with some fun additions! From the white parasols, desert flowers, NYC destination placecards, old-world card box, "Eat Drink & Be Married" napkins, courtesy basket note in the restroom(my fav little touch) and signature Nittany-tini cocktails, to the double flavor strawberry shortcake & triple chocolate cake flavors, photo booth, love-themed candy after dinne treats, and the "Whoopie! We're Married" whoppie pie parting favor...it's safe to say, she thought of everything;)
2. The Costume Change: Take one barbie doll bride, the perfect gown, hair and makeup of the stars and then throw in a costume change? I mean...Linds, you knocked this one out of the park. A DVF(I'm guessing this based on a quick search) lace ditty and her patent leather red Louboutins, she was a vision and more in her element than I have ever seen her be.
1. The Love: I'm not sure I have the words to verbalize how perfect of a match and love L & B have. Their personalities mirror their excitement for life and it goes without saying their adoration for each other is so precious to witness. During one of the last songs of the night, with her new hubby spinning her around, Linds closed her eyes and you could tell she never felt more alive or happy than any other moment of life. *sighsighsighgushgushgush* Love you Mr. & Mrs. Fletcher (!!!) Thank YOU for allowing us to share in the most special weekend of your lives...
PPS: On a seperate note, I convinced 3 other wedding guests (Liz, Maggie and Lind's cousin Chad) to venture to bikram yoga Scottsdale on Saturday afternoon pre-ceremony. One of the toughest, hottest classes Ive ever experienced. Congrats to the newbies who survived one killer 90min session. I wanted to leave class, too;)
I couldnt sleep on Friday night. Not a single good dose of shut eye. My excitement for Saturday was *almost* as high as a kid on Christmas Eve. Almost. A 6am wakeup call and I sprung out of bed and hit the road like 7am was no big deal(read: big deal)...but there were important people to see and to meet :) Getting to and from NYC can always be dramatic (either for the positive-no traffic, sunny day, a clear NJ Turnpike....or negative- traffic jam after immediately exiting the Lincoln Tunnel or a 3 car accident just 12miles from destination.) Both happened to me this weekend. But I digress. BABIES. After a quick stop at Murray's bagels before leaving the city(cardinal rule of mine for visiting a family with children: bring food in exchange for cuddles) and finally arriving to the Conshohocken....I swept up baby Leighton without even saying hi to Abby. It was clear I was here for snuggles with L and not girl chat ;) She has grown so much since just one month ago and as I bounced and made smiley faces at that darling little girl, I knew that I loved this Saturday already....
My brother and sister in law's house was the next stop on Babies & Burbs Tour. Justin opened the door holding his perfect little baby girl wearing the most soft little pink onsie. I couldnt wash my hands fast enough to give my new niece Elise a squeeze! We caught up over bagels and Jaina was in all her 2yr old glory, bouncing from one toy to the next. It's amazing how much she's changed and grown this year...and in just a few short weeks, she's going to revive her role as go-to flowergirl of the Markle family for Andrew & Irina's wedding, sparkly glitter shoes and all :)
2 hour car trip, 2 infants and a 2yr old all before noon? I needed more coffee.
The next stop for the rest of the day/night was to Carbs' house for a replicated version of our Carbs-Kernion afternoons of college days gone by. I think we talked for 13 hours straight yesterday and bounced from a picnic lunch (lunch = wine & cheese) at the Chaddsford Winery to Hickory Lane to dinner at A La Maison Bistro, a darling BYO on the Main Line. (Mmm mussels & steak frites for two, please.) And then best husband of the week award goes to Carbs' hubby Kit....for getting the chiminea fire going outback before we arrived home. Sweatpants + Ravenswood Cab + chilly fall night + clear sky dotted with stars = lovely, simply lovely.
Family + friends who are like family. My Philadelphia crew :)
And so it goes....another fall weekend down. Next up: sister's wedding in Chicago! MOH speech time Sunday commences in 3.....2....1 (go.)
Love is in the air! And it's safe to say I'm very content with so many of our friends and family getting married these days. I know the time will come when 5-6-7 weddings a year will be a thing of the past and Lee & I will long for the reason to get dressed up, enjoy a cocktail hour (or two) and dance the night away. These wedding weekends also take on such a distinct character, really embodying the essence of the couple in their choices made from start to finish. Effortless, relaxed, calm were the bride and groom to be this time around.... with a side of fall foliage and perfect autumn breeziness to accompany their movements as they became husband & wife.
Lee and I fell in love with the South Berkshires area and the Hudson River Valley as a whole this past weekend, indulging in little side trips to go along with the wedding events. After a long week at work, it's exhausting sometimes to get in the car, battle the west side highway traffic, and navigate to an area in the pitch dark and pouring rain....but when we woke up on Saturday morning in our tiny rustic room at the Old Inn on the Green, we were so happy for the respite from the hussle bussle....and so excited to share in the joy of two good friends becoming partners for life.
Our home for the weekend: The Old Inn on the Green. Quaint is an understatement. Fresh baked scones and muffins, homemade granola, warm apple cider, french pressed coffee, wood burning fireplace in our room, soft and cozy blankets...how great are B&B memories? :)
Pre-ceremony hike around Bennedict Pond after yoga with the bride.
Mr. & Mrs. Bryan Birsic!
The Wexford contingency of friends:) We clean up well.
Sunday rolled around just like that. A leisurely drive back to the city allowed us to partake in some traditional American fall things: scenic drive, apple cider donuts (*best welcome bag addtion ever), a pumpkin patch/apple stand (!!!)...
Milbrook Winery for stop #2: tasting room shot, almost time to be harvested grapes, a moment of smiles amoung many during our walking tour of the vineyards.
The discovery that we were "close" to one of the few micro-distilleries in the NY area led to stop #3: Hudson Valley Distillers. Bourbon tasting on a Sunday after a wedding? Oh why not;)
Same idea. Different couple! How unique an experience for two sisters to marry two best friends and share wedding celebrations just a year apart. It was home to Pittsburgh for me (Lee had his annual fishing trip and sadly had to miss out) to get the wedding hoopla rolling with a perfectly Kernion-style engagement party: tons of asian food from Lulu's Noodles, ladylocks from my Aunt Patty, "pop" and some adult beverages, and....an ice cream cake :)
The whole day could not have gone over any better and the happiness of Elizabeth & Brady is so evident to anyone that spends even a moment of time with them. Saying they are a perfect match is an understatement. They define it :)
PS: Before the festivities got under way, I was able to zip downtown (seriously, you can get anywhere in Pgh in 15min, it's amazing) and do a drop-in class at Bikram Yoga Pittsburgh(!!). I had heard through a friend that this studio strongly discourages drinking of water during class. I was up for the challenge and actually applaud studios who form their own identity within the constrictions of the 26-posture structure that is Bikram's style. Shannon the instructor was fantastic and the community of practioners is strong. I yearn for this in NYC, but I think there are just too many people that frequent a studio and not on any normal schedule that you just dont get to know individuals like you would in a smaller town. But I digress. Upon entering the room, I noticed it felt cold. Okay, maybe not cold....but breezy and the same temp as outside. The room slowly started to warm but in general (another quirk of the studio?) is that they may teach at a lower temp (perhaps closer to 100-105) where I'm used to 115-120. It made the no water thing an afterthought (wow am I actually normalizing to 120degree yoga? proud moment) and at no point was I waiting for the natural breaks in class to chug some H20. Perhaps it was just my body on that day, perhpas just the different environment. It was a welcomed change of pace :) And either way, BYPgh is doing an amazing service to the yogis in town by offering this form of yoga and being such a supportive group of instructors. And they have a resident juice maker who bottles their own green liquids for after class! HUGE WIN.
PPS: I cannot leave this weekend update without sharing the amazing cuteness of my friend Jax. She and her bf recently rented a home in my hometown and while they were out of town for the weekend she offered to let me pop by and snoop around to see the place. (And left me the most adorable note(!!) with a teapot and loose tea to sit and take in the summer sounds of a truly Pittsburgh warm late September night.) Having a lifelong friend take this next step in cultivating a first home with the one they love is so special to me. The personal touches to the house and the gorgeous patio and foliage in their backyard made me feel so proud of them....Big steps and life in the making.
PPSS: I love Pittsburgh. I loved being welcomed by Franco and George. I love that we had Sat night dinner at Eat 'N Park. I love that Giant Eagle goes ga-ga for the black & gold. I love the Strip District's sale of ridiculous Steelers paraphernalia. I love the yinzers walking the streets. I love everything about it. And I specifically love this t-shirt: Drink Up Yinz Bitches.
Need...to...slow...down. Everything is on super overdrive as I enter this September and the weekend proved just that.
To Chicago I went for Friday-Saturday-Sunday!
Mission: find sister a wedding dress was a total success. Dress #2 of the day won out in a landslide of votes (smiles, tears, hugs, "oh this is IT"s).
But not before an early morning Forrest Yoga class at the EBClub in River North, just around the corner from the sis' apartment. No trip is complete without a Kernion fam yoga sesh. (eye roll, I know)
A midday rain grouded us in Old Town for tea and chit chat. Wedding updates. Life updates. CardsbyAnne updates. Loud laughter. The ususal.
Rain continues? Mani-pedis!
A wonderful "meet the parents" dinner with a variety of family members at a darling trattoria, Topo Gigio. I'm a tough pasta critic, but apparently Chicago knows a thing or two about Italain food above and beyond Deep Dish Pizza.
The great Wexford diaspora has left many Pittsburgh friends all across the country, with our favorite sky-high-heel loving Jenny calling Chicago her new home. A friend who's blonde pig-tails matched my own when we met at age 7. The one who exudes happiness, spunk and fierce ambition. The stars aligned (4 of us hometown friends were in the Windy City for a variety of Labor Day funness) and in some way, it felt like we were all a little cheering section for Jenny, rallying her on as she beins this amazing new chapter of life in business school. Beers cheersed. The Chicago way.
And then, with what was the greatest discovery of the weekend, my flight back to NYC was 40min later that I had thought. WOOHOO! Brunch + Millenium Park outdoor cafe + some "tall ones." College story swapping. Mascara running down my face hilarity.
Home sweet NYC and an evening in with Lee :)
And today...my top 5 favorite day of the year: Labor Day & the US Open. Best friends and the men. Polos and dresses. Lilly & Ralph Lauren. Serena Williams(!). AMAZING seats (!!). Jerry Ferrara waving to me & Sar, post-Entrourage music and our wicked loud and woo-girl cheers directed his way(!!!).
Life is good.
I walked into my girlfriend Jackie's family beach house on Friday night and was immediately 18yrs old again. Isn't scent such an amazingly powerful sense? I couldnt believe how quickly my mind jolted back to the year us gals celebrated our graduation from high school. I walked up the stairs into the family room and there sat two of my dear friends, big smiles and hugs waiting for me. I kept giggling and pointing to things in the room, remembering this spot that once held us all on the cusp of our college years. What a great moment. So much love for you ladies.
Avalon, New Jersey. Boy, have you changed since the last time. Or switch that. We've changed. You got better (we all got better too I'd like to think!) And we realized that nightlife and things besides the ice cream shop existed along Dune Drive. This time we enjoyed happy hour at The Princeton ($20 for 9 drinks or something amazing like that), a Cafe Loren BYOWine dinner where we closed the place down, seafood bisque that I'll be dreaming about for days, a beer at Fred's Tavern(!!), and a visit to Avalon Freeze where JIMMIES are a topping (not sprinkles, and yes, we still need our daily ice cream fix.) It's safe to say, it was a successful wknd *down the shore*.
PS: On a totally seperate note, Saturday (keeping in blog theme that Saturdays really take the cake) my girlfriend Abby delivered her gorgeous daughter into the world. Receiving this news while taking in the morning sun and smelling the beachy breeze, I was moved to the point of tears. I don't often pray at the thought of something....but my goosebumpy arms sent a charge through me that gave way to a silent "welcome to the world prayer" for A's baby girl. The next generation of little ones. I cant even stand it(!!!). So happy for A & her husband and families.
Sarah: one part of a family of THREE with my husband Lee and sweet girl Morgan, simply wanting to chronicle the path I'm on and the path that will come to be. For now it's NYC urban mamaville where everyday is a new adventure! (Actually, just getting to the post office is an adventure.)
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