December 2017 Roundup

Can you believe we have already hit 2018? Happy New Year again friends! December flew by this year, on Christmas Eve my boyfriend said “can you believe Christmas is almost over?”, at the time I couldn’t and I still don’t believe it.

With the holidays comes less reading than usual. In December I read:

  • The Girl in The Tower – the sequel to The Bear and The Nightingale, a review is coming soon
  • Heir of Firethis was not one of my favorites in the Throne of Glass series but it wasn’t bad enough to keep me from not reading the rest.
  • Before She Ignitesthis was not my favorite. I do not think I’ll be reading the rest of the series and if I do it will be through the library
  • Victoria — have I told you I’m obsessed with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert? Anyway, not only did I re-watch season 1 (season 2 premieres soon in the US) but I also read the story based on the season by Daisy Goodwin. Review coming soon

The Girl in the Tower and Victoria were definitely my favorite books read in December. Katherine Arden really has a way with words and making everything so magical and I just love Queen Victoria and what she represented/represents.

A lot of traveling happened in December which is probably why it flew by and there wasn’t a lot of reading completed.

Not only did I go to Miami and Key West but we also went up to VT to sell Christmas trees. There is so much work that goes into that, I have such an appreciation for those businesses now that I’ve really seen them in action.

IMG_0131

IMG_0010.JPG

We also had three different Christmas parties all within a week of each other and starting the day I arrived back from Florida. I’m looking forward to some serious R&R this month where I can get some reading done and start out fresh.

Advertisements

6 hrs in Key West

Since I was in Miami, I begged my friend to go to Key West for the day. It wasn’t hard, she’s up for just about anything (lucky me). Once I set foot on Key West, I knew I had to come back. I could stay a few days there, go parasailing, lay out on the beach, go snorkeling, do a sunset cruise or maybe go on a dolphin cruise. There were so many activities out on the water that I wanted to run to a boat and get on.

IMG_20171214_170812_027.jpg

But since we were only there for about 6 hours, I didn’t have time to do any of the things that I mentioned above and still have time to do some of the land things on my list. Which is reason #1 why I want to go back.

IMG_0272 (2).JPG

Key West reminded me a lot of Cape Cod but with clearer and bluer water — above is me in the Gulf of Mexico, an ocean I hadn’t put my toes in before so I knew I had to do that here just to say I had!

IMG_0236

If you’re looking for some places to walk around and just hang out, try hitting up Mallory Square or Duval Street — while you’re at it, go to Kermit’s Key Lime Shop for some Key Lime pie. If you like Key Lime, this is the snack for you. For lunch, try stopping by Conche Republic Seafood or Waterfront Brewery which are scenically located right on the water and boat dock.

IMG_0259IMG_0242

Last but not least try Hemighway’s House — which has his “ancestor cats”, I love that the cats can go wherever they want but us humans can’t touch the bed. Don’t forget about the Southernmost point in the US! That has to be the first thing you do, don’t forget about it! Who knows when you will be able to say that you stood there again!

Overall, I can’t wait to go back to Key West and just relax for a weekend there. It’s definitely worth the 3+ hour drive (one-way) from Miami.

2017 Round Up of Adventures

Happy Holidays everyone! I felt like doing An Adventure Roundup Post before I take a 3 day hiatus from blogging.

I’m using that time to be with friends and family during the holiday season but I will be back soon!

2017 might have been one of our best yet! I don’t normally like odd years but this one was pretty great. A first full year back in New York but we/I travelled so much it didn’t even feel like we were there the whole time.

Before I get into the adventures, I just want to talk about some random ones which were all the weddings we had. 5 in total! Not only were they fun but I got to see states (Hi Indiana and Illinois) that I hadn’t seen before!

Below is a highlight of 2017 adventures (don’t worry, a book roundup is coming) and some of my favorite pictures to go along with each.

Outside of New York Adventures

Well there were a ton of these! Here’s the big reveal for this year, I am afraid of flying but traveled to 4 locations that required it. I think I’m finally over my fear!

Those 4 locations were: 2 trips to Florida (Miami/Key West and Orlando/St. Pete) and twice to Chicago.

Chicago was such an awesome city too, it might be my favorite City that I’ve visited. At the same time Miami was a little bit of paradise.

Let’s not forget my two other trips that didn’t require travel. One is the usual trip, to Cape Cod. The little quaint area has more to do than you might think. But I have to admit, my trip to Maine might have passed the Cape. I hadn’t been to Maine in years so it was nice to go someplace different in the middle of June and really see what the area has to offer without a lot of people.

The New York Adventures

Man, that was a lot of adventures outside of my home state, but let’s not forget about all the cool things there are to do in New York!

My favorite trip of the year was probably Watkins Glen and Seneca Lake. Mainly because it was the first time in awhile that my boyfriend and I were able to just travel somewhere by ourselves. It’s also the most affordable weekend away that you can probably do which is also nice.

We also did a lot of local things, like our hikes (including some 46ers!), musicals, walking around gardens, museums, and even some chowder. All in All I would say it was a good time.

As mentioned before this year was pretty great but I am so excited for next year……….

We have officially booked our tickets to London and Cornwall England. It’s always been a dream of mine to go so I am anxiously waiting and I cannot wait to tell you all about it (any tips are appreciated).

Don’t worry, I have some other trips planned but nothing definite so more to come!

Happy Holidays everyone! Enjoy the time with your friends and family, it’s an adventure in its own right ๐Ÿ˜Š

6 Days in Miami

Hi everyone! It’s been awhile since I had a post about an adventure!ย  I took November off so I could keep my wallet from hating me before I went to Florida. I’m so excited to finally tell you guys all about my trip to Miami. I had never been to Miami before so when my friend asked me to go with her I knew I had to say yes!

20171215_123914.jpg

The Weather:

In December, the weather isn’t as warm as you would think for Miami. People were definitely walking around in pants, scarves and jackets but for someone from the Northeast, it was the perfect weather. High 60s to high 70s all week, I could definitely get used to that.

Where to Stay:

IMG_0131

I loved Ocean Drive in South Beach. It was such a classic little street with a 1950s-70s feel. There were a bunch of different hotels to choose from too, I’m sure (especially in December) you could get a pretty good deal. Ocean Drive also has a bunch of restaurants as well as being right across the road from the beach. I loved that it was away from Miami City so it felt like you were in your own little paradise. Also — I had no idea that South Beach was basically it’s own little island. It was great!

The Attractions:

We spent three days at South Beach which was awesomeย  but we also did some other things, such as Key West and attractions around Miami City. Anyway, one of the things we did was get a Go City Miami Card which is not only affordable but also provided us with some transportation and sight seeing. One of things that the Go City card allows you to do, is get on a Hop on and Hop Off ($40) bus which was awesome because parking in Miami can be a bit expensive ($20 for 24hours). The Go City Card was $98 (thanks to Groupon) below is a list of attractions with what the price would have been without the Go City Card.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Attractions:

  • Vizcaya Museum and Gardens ($18)– so gorgeous and old! It reminded me of Downton Abbey.
  • Miami Science Museum ($22)– this might be one of my favorite Museums EVER. It had everything you could think of.
  • Art Museum ($16) — I think you could skip this UNLESS you really like art. I don’t really like and/or understand contemporary art so this really wasn’t anything for me.
  • Botanical Gardens (Free)– Google really made me think this was going to be a lot cooler than it was.
  • Holocaust Memorial (Free)– if you take the Hop on and Hop Off bus, you can see the Memorial from it, or you can go to the Botanical Gardens which is adjacent to this Memorial. One that is very well done.
  • Lincoln Mall (Free + Parking)– feeling like shopping? Maybe on a day that isn’t really for the beach? This is one of those places to go! Also within 2 blocks from the Botanical Gardens and Holocaust Memorial.
  • Key West Day Trip($75) — that will be it’s own post coming up in a few days ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Wynwood Walls (Free + Parking)– while I’m not a huge fan of art, Wynwood Walls was amazing. I really liked the different art that was shown there. I swear, I tried that whole instagram look but failed, I’m okay with that though :).

We saved $72.50 by doing the Miami (2 day) Go City Card

Where to Eat and Transportation:

Obviously there is Uber and taxis that you can take. You could also rent a car but remember you have to pay for parking everywhere you go. We found a garage that was $20 for 24hours or $1 an hour. It wasn’t terrible but if you’re looking to be a on a budget, I’d suggest not having a car, especially if you’re on Ocean Drive AND doing the hop on and hop off. We used the car a few days out of the week but not every day.

20171210_185650.jpg

We also tried not to eat out for every meal. We really only ate out for dinners, partly to keep on that budget. Places I would recommend are: The Leslie and Penguin Restaurant. Both were delicious and reasonably priced. Oh and for dessert try Mammamia Gelato it was delicious!

Those are my tips for Miami. It was so much fun and so relaxing, I read, I got a tan and I just enjoyed some R & R. I can’t wait to go back! IMG_20171215_084246_857.jpg

 

Wine Tasting in Seneca Lake

Our trip out to the Watkins Glen area also included a day and a half of wine and beer tasting around Seneca Lake. I had never been to Seneca, only Cayuga — my boyfriend hadn’t been to either so I decided it was about time. We both enjoy wine and beer, so I thought why not? Let’s get away for a weekend and stock up our wine table. Here’s a quick 101 on where to go, where to eat and where to stay.

Where to Stay

We wanted to do an affordable weekend so we did Airbnb. It’s not the only option though, there are hotels in Watkins Glen (the South portion of the lake), around the lake and in Waterloo (the north portion of the lake). There are some breweries and wineries that also host their own lodging. We hadn’t researched a lot in cases of places to stay because we knew right off the bat that we wanted to rent a space.

Where to Eat:

20171020_174422.jpg

We went to two places for meals (then just did snack things later on). We had lunch at Ginny Lee Cafe and dinner at Scale House. Both were really good and really affordable. I really loved Scale House’s beer, they had so many varieties and the tasting was really cheap. We got dinner that gave us enough for leftovers the next night. If you get to Scale House please get their Peanut Butter Beer and then thank me for it. It was delicious!

The Vineyards:

We went to a lot of different vineyards while we were there. What I love about wine tasting in the Fingerlakes is that it’s really affordable. The most expensive tasting was $5 a person but almost every place you go will give you some type of coupon — whether it be $2 off a bottle or free tasting if you buy some wine, there’s always a way to stay on a budget. Tastings were at least 5 samples while some wineries gave you more than that. While I might have spent more than I meant to. It just means I won’t be needing to buy wine around home any time soon. I’ll take that as a win. Here are some places we went.

  • Boundary Breaks Vineyard:ย IMG_20171020_184144_198.jpgThe first winery we went to and the first where we found a bottle we both like (I like sweet, he likes dry). It had a picturesque scene but other than that it was only okay. The place wasn’t as friendly as some of the others but it was still a good first place. Also- can we appreciate the saying on top of their door? Love it.
  • Wagner Wine and Beer: The cool thing about Wagner is that you can get wine or beer and it’s next to Ginny Lee’s Cafe. The bad news? The beer tasting was expensive for what you got and the beer was not as good as Scale House.
  • Penguin Bay Winery: I had to go here just because of the name. I then found out that it’s the sister winery of Swedish Hill (Cayuga Lake and in Saratoga). This was one of those places where the wine was delicious and you got a coupon when you did a tasting.
  • Lakewood Vineyards: One of the best views of Seneca Lake. Here you got a tasting for $3 plus $2 off a bottle of wine. You cannot beat that. We were lucky enough to get the outdoor bar for the tasting too. 20171021_121303.jpg
  • Rock Stream Vineyards: $5 a tasting, no coupon — but a lot of variety and the bartender was so nice and funny. You could also do a beer tasting there too if you weren’t feeling wine.
  • Glenora: 20171021_141211.jpgThe oldest winery on Seneca Lake. You can tell they know what their doing. They have a restaurant, hotel and during tastings you also get some food tastings. Which is perfect when you’re drinking. The tasting was $5 a tasting plus $2 off a bottle of wine. They also had port. I bought some, and drank it thinking about being Demelza from Poldark…it was a good day.
  • Damiani: Mostly reds, but good reds, wait did I just say that?
  • Standing Stone: Cute setup inside (but hot). Wine was pretty good and the view is fantastic.
  • Caywood Vineyards: $2 samples, I repeat $2 samples. It was so good too. I got two bottles there, but they also had some liquor/cherry type stuff that was amazing. I felt so sophisticated!
  • Lamoreaux: This was all Francis, I unfortunately can’t tell you guys anything about this except he bought a bottle so he must have enjoyed the wine.

The Resources:

Honestly, the easier way to find these places is just by driving, they are everywhere. Francis couldn’t believe how close they were to each other but they really are neighbors. Everyone is so nice and always trying to help you to know where to go next best on your style. I would definitely recommend picking up a map though, it will give you some more information. Information not just on wine but beer, cider, food and distilleries. Need even more info? Click here and enjoy!

 

Watkins Glen

Near the end of October we went on a little adventure. An adventure that didn’t include friends or weddings (no offense guys)! Anyways, this is part 1 of our weekend away. It started on a Saturday at Watkins Glen State Park. Watkins Glen is about 3 1/2 hours west of Albany, N.Y.. a hidden gem in my opinion and one I think a everyone should try to go see. Neither of us had been there before so this was a first for us. We got there around 10am and stayed until 12ish. Honestly go the earliest you can. When we came out of the trail, there were so many cars it was crazy especially since it was during off season. It’s definitely a magical place and would feel even more magical the less people are there. While we had people there when we went it was still easy to get pictures of everything. I think if we had shown up later it would have been worse. During peak season, the park is $8 a car, it’s open until dark and not only has the gorge and waterfalls but a pool and park. There are other parks near Watkins Glen that have waterfalls too in Ithaca and the Fingerlakes National Forest so there is definitely a lot to do!

We did both the Gorge Trail and Indian Ladder trail. The whole thing was probably about 3 miles round trip and took us a little over an hour. This being because I took more pictures than was probably necessary. I loved it though and my boyfriend found it cool too. The rock formations were just as interesting and gorgeous as the waterfalls. The (middle picture) railroad had history to it too and there are markings to explain each, how they were formed etc. If you’re ever in the area, definitely try to get here. You could definitely get lost in the beauty of this park, if we ever go back, I’ll pack a lunch and we can spend more time there just relaxing with the beauty of nature.

What to do in Chicago as a Non-Tourist

Second time in Chicago in a month! To think I had never been before and now can say I’ve gone twice is something I’m really happy about. Also — shout out to the fact that I hate flying and have already done it 3 times this year!

This time around, we weren’t able to do very touristy type things. We were only in Chicago (because of a wedding in Indiana) for about a day. So I tried to compile some things to do that we did with the locals — most of which is all about the food!

Revolution Brewery

This was one of the coolest things we did in Chicago. We had originally wanted to go to Goose Island Brewery but it was booked so we decided to go to Revolution Brewery instead. The actual brewery had a ton of beer on tap to try. You could get a small tasting, or a pint and even though there wasn’t any food there, you could bring your own. You can also do a free tour that comes with a free can of beer — the tour is roughly 40mins but it goes by really fast.

The Restaurants

We went to a bunch of restaurants this time around. Of course we went to Stan’s Donuts for a quick breakfast before we left for the airport. We even brought some donuts home with us because it was too good to pass up. We also went to the Bongo Room for breakfast and let me tell you, it was a huge breakfast. We both got omelettes and it came with everything you could probably think of — hash browns, omelettes and hash-browns, all which were pretty delicious.

If you get a chance, try some Molart (I didn’t try it) which is a disgusting staple of alcohol from Chicago.

Biking Through the City

IMG953989.jpg

You can also rent some bikes in Chicago through BlueCross and BlueSheild. These bikes can be found all over the city and are easy to rent (using a credit card or cash). You don’t have to bring the bikes back to the location where you rented either, it’s like Redbox. It’s really affordable too and a convenient way to get around and see the sites in a different way. You can use it for the 19 mile lake shore bike path in the city.