Ready for the beach? (Giveaway!)

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In just ten days we will be headed to the beach for our annual family summer vacation! This is the best vacation every year and I am so so so excited to take Luna for the first time! I am one of those people who love making lists, it’s silly how much joy it brings me, but I made mine and Luna’s packing lists (yes, two separate lists) days ago. While I am a girl who loves adventure, I love to plan most adventures and I really like to be prepared. One item that is always on my beach list is a cute cover-up. Ladies, you get this, right?

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At the beach I am in my swimsuit 97% of the time, but much of that time I use a cover-up because a) I’m cold b) I’m riding a bike somewhere or c) I need to enter a store. Sure, I could throw on the trusty t-shirt and but why would I do that when adorable cover-ups like the ones from Lozasun exist???

the back

I have the Camille v-neck gold trim cover-up because I am sucker for all things white and gold. I’ve worn this cover-up to the city pool, a friend’s pool and a relative’s pool and I LOVE it. It is so chic, lightweight, sexy and easy. I found this handmade beautiful piece of work on where else, but Etsy. I lovely girl named Cindy out in LA makes these in many cool fabrics, but she also makes dresses, skirts and accessories!

love this gold trim!
love this gold trim!

AND, because she is not just talented, but also generous, she is hosting a giveaway here at Positively Panicked! One of you can very easily win her Valentina turquoise coral print cover-up (valued at $48) by simply following these steps:

1. Follow me on my blog or my Facebook.

2. Follow Lozasun on Facebook or her Etsy shop.

3. And comment below! Where are you planning to wear the cover-up? The beach? Your backyard? A tropical island getaway?

giveaway

*It’s a “one-size-fits-all” piece.

The winner will be chosen on Wednesday July 23rd! Best of luck!

Cheers!

The Beach

Guess who hasn’t been writing and has more excuses?! I’m afraid I can’t use pregnancy as an excuse this time…whatever, yes I can. I’m pregnant.

Actually, a good friend of mine has been staying with us all week so we have been super busy forcing her to do everything Nashville has to offer. While I have a moment tonight, before I pass out, I want to share some of the gorgeous photos from Hilton Head’s beach.

beach panorama copy

Several storms rolled in during our week in HHI which made for some awesome photos on the shore.

stormclouds raincloud copy fireclouds copy

The last morning  I got up at 5am to be sure to catch the sunrise, but my beautiful beach sunrise was rudely interrupted by another incoming storm.

sunrise copy sunclouds copy

Besides photos of the sky and sand we spent way too much time being ridiculous and immature. After our big annual family photo the young ones decided to hang around and take “vadering” and “Hadoukening” photos. I know, I know…this is like so 2 weeks ago. Who cares, it was fun!

vader zoeyvader copy stephpower copy hadouken copy

Don’t you want to hangout with us?

Cheers!

Sorry iPhone, But You Lose

I recently got a new phone, the Samsung Galaxy S4. Normally, I could care less what kind of phone anyone has and I certainly wouldn’t blog about my cell phone, but OMG this new phone is freakin’ AWESOME!

When my 2 year contract was up at Verizon, I was pretty excited to update my old iPhone 4. It’s been slowing down and doesn’t even get reception at our new house. I went in fully expecting to continue being a yuppy and collecting apple products. On a whim, I decided to look around a bit and began playing with the new Samsung Galaxys. I was immediately impressed with camera quality. I was also surprised that I could easily use the phone. (After using Apple products for so long, it’s often difficult to us PC’s or Androids.)

I began feeling guilty for flirting with another brand so I decided to talk to a rep about why I should NOT switch phones. I even googled all the reasons why moving from an iPhone to an Android would be terrible. The worst response I got was that I might miss the simplicity and ease of the iPhone.

After about an hour of debating, googling and testing phones I thought “what the hell, be a rebel” and purchased the Samsung. (Not without making sure I could return it if I decided I hated it.)

This new phone does all kinds of really cool tricks (hovering your finger to read text, waving your hand to answer calls, open multiple windows, blah blah blah), but the best feature is the camera!

You can do the craziest tricks with the different photo modes…like take multiple pics of a group of people, then select the best faces for each person! We had a really good time playing with the different modes during our recent vacation to Hilton Head.

We learned to take a photo using the both the lens on the front and back of the camera at the same time…

Sorry, the quality is poor. We were sitting in a restaurant.
Sorry, the quality is poor. We were sitting in a restaurant.

We used the “drama” mode to catch moving objects…

drama

Panorama…

View from our balcony
View from our balcony

There are lots of other modes and tricks, but our favorite to play with was by far the “animated photo”. You can actually select parts of the photo you want to move and parts that you want to freeze. It’s basically a super easy way to create your own gif, and be really silly.

Here are my favorites from the week…

silly noodle arm dancing

Baby jellyfish in a wine glass
Baby jellyfish in a wine glass

zoey winking

I LOVE this one
I LOVE this one

the waves

I still feel slightly guilty for abandoning the iPhone, but it just doesn’t satisfy me like it used to.

Cheers!

P.S. If the videos don’t work, try clicking on them. They’re worth watching!

A Bicycle Built For 12

One of the best activities to do while vacationing in Hilton Head is bike riding. Hilton Head Island is covered with bike paths. You can easily ride from one end of the island to the other without leaving a path (except to cross a few streets). Our family rents over a dozen bikes every year and we spend at least a portion of every day biking.

Every morning there is a handful of us who hop on our bikes at 7am, ride to Starbucks, get our fix and ride home with at least 3 copies of the New York Times. (We need multiple copies to keep the family from fighting.)

starbucks

The path to Starbucks involves crossing a few bridges that go over swamps, often full of turtles and the occasional alligator.

gator gator bike ride

Our long bike rides usually start on the beach. We swerve between kids digging holes and families lounging under umbrellas. We splash through the shallow water and get hot enough that we are beyond ecstatic to get off the beach and onto the bike trail.

beach copy beach ride copy me,steph,amy copy

The paths are all shaded by thick willowy trees covered in moss. They are so shaded that it acts as a shield from the sunshine and the rain.

bike with steph

Every year we take the same bike rides…some are short and sweet and others are long and miserable. It’s tradition to spend at least one day riding ten miles that go through mosquito-infested preserves and unshaded paths. We ride to the historical tabby house at the Baynard ruins, the mysterious shell ring at the Sea Pines Forest Reserve, Harbor town and South Beach.

While walking around the tabby house we saw a lizard scampering along the shells and Husband insisted that I catch it… While dating and getting to know each other Husband and I spent lots of time sharing stories from our childhoods…his in the hills of middle Tennessee, mine in the marshy flatlands of southeast Texas. I told him how I used to catch lizards, put them on my ears like earrings and then freak out my sister. He couldn’t believe this, so the first chance I got, I proved it to him. Now, anytime he sees a lizard he thinks it’s hysterical for me hang the poor little creature from my ear lobes.

lizard copy

The best part of our long bike rides is the end. We always finish our ride at Coligny Plaza where we get Italian ice and custard from Rita’s.

italian ice rita's

Taking bike rides every day is one of my favorite Hilton Head traditions. It also makes me feel a little less guilty about the junk we eat on vacation.

Cheers!

We are having a baby!!!

zimbickijr.

FINALLY, I get to tell everyone my super big secret that I never really kept. I suck at keeping any secrets so you can imagine how hard it has been for me to keep this a secret. We have told way more people than originally planned, but whatever, we’re just so excited! This is a huge reason why my blogs have been so sporadic lately. Every day, as I sit at my laptop, I just stare at the screen thinking “OMG, I’m pregnant!” and that’s it. Leaving this little detail out has made it very challenging to write about my daily life.

I am officially 10 weeks and a couple of days pregnant. Everything has gone really well, we have heard it’s heartbeat, seen its little hands and feet wiggle and we are so very excited.

I’ve been thinking of ways to “announce” the pregnancy for months now, and never came up with a super creative idea. We decided to take some photos at our recent Hilton Head vacation, and these are my favorites of the 5 thousand photos we took…

Husband's expression of "what the hell?" here is priceless
Husband’s expression of “what the hell?” here is priceless
I like this one because it looks so similar to our wedding invites
I like this one because it looks so similar to our wedding invites

due date

And of course, Zoey had to sneak into a couple
And of course, Zoey had to sneak into a couple
Awww, Husband is pregnant!
Awww, Husband is pregnant!

When I first found out I was pregnant we decided to tell our parent’s first. We had a big family dinner with my in-laws and I stood up to take a group picture of everyone. I set my camera on “record” and said “on the count of 3, say Hilarie is pregnant!” The idea was to record everyone’s reactions instead of snapping a photo, but I recently got a new phone and that video is now gone…woops.

We Facetime’d with my family in Texas and sent photos to my closest friends.

Sent to my sister, our babies will be just 11 months apart!
Sent to my sister, our babies will be just 11 months apart!
Sent to some friends to announce the baby.
Sent to some friends to announce the baby.

Belle is probably our biggest concern at the moment. This dog is so incredibly spoiled. She can’t even handle me holding someone else’s child for a minute. Here’s hoping she likes our kid more than she likes everyone else’s.

belle big sister

You have probably realized now that the baby is due February 17th, approximately, which also happens to be mine and Husband’s 9-year dating anniversary! I know it’s unlikely that the baby will be born on its actual due date, but the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

I could not be any happier right now, life is really good.

Cheers!

Family Photos

We are home from the beach, and I am finally ready to get back to writing. I honestly thought I’d continue working on vacation. I mean I was on “vacation” after all…I should have had nothing but free time. However, I forgot that our annual Hilton Head trips are meant to spend time with our family. We went on family bike rides, played family games, swam together, ate together, read together, cooked together, shopped together, watched movies together and rarely got on our laptops.

In fact, I failed to respond to almost anyone who texted, emailed, or called. Sorry about that. NOW, I’m back and boy do I have lots to share! The beach was AMAZING, Husband and I are going to Pittsburgh today, Chicago on Thursday, I have a new project in the works, and a special surprise blog planned! This is going to be one great week of blogging.

I’ll begin with Hilton Head. Every year we take a group photo during the Hilton Head trip. We typically take a cute normal group photo and then a couple of silly ridiculous photos. It’s just a fun family vaca tradition. I have now been to Hilton Head with my in-laws seven times, but while going through my photos I can only manage to find the group photo from 5 of these years.

2007
2007
2010
2010
2010
2010
2011
2011
Attempt at photo in the water 2011
Attempt at photo in the water 2011
2012, our first jumping photo
2012, our first jumping photo

This years photo may be the best looking photo yet…

2013
2013
The new "annual jump photo" 2013
The new “annual jump photo” 2013

Do any of you have annual family vacation full of fun and quirky traditions? I’d love to hear all about them!

Cheers!

Annual Family Vacation

Ahhhhhhhhh, huge sigh of relief, we made it.

Every single year our family (my in-laws) take an annual trip to Hilton Head, South Caroline for a week. This week is something all look forward to ALL year. It is the only vacation where I am allowed (i.e. don’t feel guilty) relaxing. We eat, read, swim, play games, watch movies and do nothing all week. It’s glorious. We have 16 people this year all in one enormous fabulous house right on the beach.

View from upstairs, looking at front door.
View from upstairs, looking at front door.
View from downstairs looking out back toward the beach.
View from downstairs looking out back toward the beach.
View from where I sit right now.
View from where I sit right now.

I am looking forward to soaking up the sun and sharing our Island adventures with you! Husband already managed to get hurt. As we were leaving at 5am this morning he slammed his finger in the door which made it immediately black and blue. Getting hurt before the vacation begins is an all time record for him.

Poor guy
Poor guy

Hopefully the rest of the trip will be less painful.

Cheers!

 

 

My Reality/Dream Home

I have BIG plans for Husband’s and my future. BIG plans that probably (most definitely) require both of us to have much better jobs (e.g. world famous director, world famous stay-at-home Mom/Dancing with the Stars cast member) a couple babies, an old house outside of the city, and a large front porch.

Anytime I plan anything, I plan BIG. The problem with most of my BIG plans is that I tend to set my sights very high, and become 100% certain that these plans will pan out perfectly. Sometimes, this is beneficial and productive…like the time I planned to turn my classroom into an wonderful blue ocean.

So stinkin’ cute! The first day of school the kids walked into a room full of bubbles and “Under the Sea” playing on the stereo.

Or that time I wanted a dinosaur themed house party…

NO ONE is allowed at our parties without a costume.

These plans worked. These ideas proved that my tendency to shoot for the stars is not always unreasonable. I stuck to my guns, and reaped the loud, colorful, and crazy outcomes.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case. More often, things do not go exactly how I imagined for so very long. After having my heart set on a plan for so long, it is incredibly disappointing to see it bomb. I always truly believe that I will meet my expectations. It’s a major shock when certain situations are not how I imagined. Just take a look into my imagination about 18 months ago…

May 2011: Husband and I officially decided to make the move to NYC. Besides picturing us on walks through Central Park, at Broadway shows every Friday night, and shopping down 5th Avenue, I also imagined our quaint and cozy NYC apartment. I knew our apartment would be small, but I also knew we could fix it up to suit our taste. This is what I saw in my mind:

Just a little elbow grease right?

After a few weeks of apartment hunting, reality set in, and I had to accept that we would not be living in my imaginary apartment. This is what our apartment actually looks like (well part of it)…it’s not terrible, but you can see how it’s quite a downgrade from my where my heart and mind had already taken residence.

Now, I’ve adjusted and grown to love like our tiny home, and I’ve switched gears to focus my entire domestic planning time on our brand new yet-to-be-discovered home. My imagination is always running wild, but with the aid of Pinterest it has gone completely insane with house planning ideas.

My dream house will have to have a large bathtub…for sure. Oh, and this one comes with a metal rack to hold a book and a glass of wine!
Hidden wine cellar in the kitchen floor
A library wouldn’t hurt either
I am no matter what, definitely going to turn a closet into a reading nook! This idea is pure genius!
Must have a large porch to fit this swing
And, the dream house is complete with the dream backyard.

Just the other day, while doing my weekly window-shopping trip to Anthroplogie, I found the perfect bedroom!

Look at the rolling skinny wooden table that rolls over top of the bed!!!! Can’t you imagine breakfast, a cup of coffee, and a great gossip magazine in the morning?
Love all the little details…the tin can table, the rope chandeliers, a tea set on the breakfast table, and the modern book shelf.

I am in love! The current plan is to purchase this entire set, move it into my freshly refurbished country home, and face the bed towards the large exterior French doors that open onto the beach. (A man-made beach, obviously, no beaches in Tennessee…gotta be realistic here.)

Anyone else pinning and planning their future dream homes??

Cheers!

Tranquility at Tiffany’s

Great news everybody! Husband and I get to stay in our apartment until next summer!!! After lots of looking, debating, and talking with our landlord, he finally told us to just stay until July. I think he is having a lot of trouble selling the apartment, and he’d prefer to have a tenant paying rent then have nothing at all. Yay us!

I cannot even begin to tell you what a relief it was to hear this news. Even though all of the hundreds of hours I spent trying to find a new home turned out to be in vain, I don’t care. I am just so thrilled to not have to pack and physically move…again.

All the talk of moving, got me and Husband seriously discussing our future: Where do we want to settle down? When should we buy a home? How long do we want to live in Manhattan? When do we want to have kids?

We never answered any of these questions, just thought and talked A LOT about them. We love NYC, but probably won’t raise kids here. We want kids, but I want them sooner than Husband. We don’t ever want to settle down, but it would be nice to have an actual home to care about, decorate, and fill with large comfy furniture. Thankfully, we’ve been given extra time to make these decisions.

On a related note, I just read Breakfast at Tiffany’s and I came across a great passage where Holly and Fred discuss her anxiety and her strategy for finding a home. Holly begins by trying to explain to Fred why she refuses to name her cat. She claims they are both independents; she doesn’t want to own anything until she finds the place where she belongs…I’ll let you read the rest…

“You know those days when you’ve got the mean reds?”

 “Same as the blues?”

 “No, No the blues are because you’re getting fat or maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re sad, that’s all. But the mean reds are horrible. You’re afraid and you sweat like hell, but you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Except something bad is going to happen, only you don’t know what it is. You’ve had that feeling?”

“Quite often. Some people call it angst.”

“All right. Angst. But what do you do about it?

“Well a drink helps.”

“I’ve tried that. I’ve tried aspirin too. Rusty thinks I should smoke marijuana, and I did for a while, but it only makes me giggle. What I’ve found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets. If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.”

I never knew I had so much in common with Miss Holly Golightly. She makes a very good point of deciding that she wants her home to feel like the one place that makes her feel safe and serene. Don’t we all want that? Is this even possible for someone who suffers panic attacks?

After reading this passage I thought hard about what my “Tiffany’s” is; what specific place brings me calmness and peacefulness…if any place does.

I suppose Sephora brings me lots of happiness. I love that I can walk into Sephora looking like I just rolled out of bed, and walk out looking like the paparazzi should be following me. The ladies working are so friendly, always giving away samples and applying new products to my skin. I can spend hours playing with all the make-up, bronzers, hair style-ers, nail polishes, and perfumes; I don’t think I’ve ever had a panic attack in Sephora. Although, my pulse does race when I hear the total at the register.

Starbucks is another place that immediately relaxes me. In fact, anytime I’m having a rough day I tend to find myself ordering a tall iced soy latte and making friendly conversation with a barista. I’m sure much of this has to do with my caffeine addiction, but there is also something very comforting about being in a Starbucks, like being home…(Although, it does feel less comfy and homey since they’ve all taken out my favorite big comfy chairs.) Sometimes, I sit in Starbucks with my laptop just to get some work done. I tend to focus and work harder there than when I’m home. Even while traveling the world, we ALWAYS stop at a Starbucks, if we come across one, for a little taste of home.

Another place is the beach. How original, right? I guess the beach just makes all of us feel peaceful and relaxed. I could sit in the sand and read, do cartwheels down the beach, or play in the waves forever and ever. If I lived on the beach I’d be warm and carefree, but probably never get anything of value done.

Gilmore Girls is something else that immediately takes the “mean reds” away. I know this TV show isn’t a location, but it saves me from numerous panic attacks. If I wake up in the middle of the night sweating and in a panic I just have to pop in an episode with Lorelei and Rory to make me forget what was driving me nuts in the first place. Their dramatic lives and quick wit keeps me distracted and happy.

Then there’s dancing. I’ve never been the best dancer, but I have danced for years. I’ve taken dance since I was a little girl, and I’ve taught for about 5 years now. When the right song comes on, and I’m able to move to it, it’s like I’m free. I’m free of worry, free of to-do lists, free of deadlines, I’m just there to dance, and it feels right. I guess dancing is my anti-panic.

Like Holly, I am not really sure what I am looking for or where I’ll eventually call home. Right now, the plan is to have a house that comes with a dancing barista who can do my make-up on my private beach while watching Gilmore Girls. Husband would have to be there too. It would not be home without Husband.

Until then, I’ll be constantly reminding myself how lucky and thankful we are to stay in our teeny Upper East Side apartment (which is walking distance from 5 Starbucks and a Sephora BTW) for another year. Thankful, thankful, thankful, I love you apartment!

Cheers!

The Perfect Vacation

Look who finally came back from Costa Rica!

Husband and I love traveling more than anything, and as I keep mentioning, we always travel to a new place so that we will one day reach our goal of traveling to every country in the world. These trips are so adventurous and fun, but are rarely relaxing. As much as we enjoy hopping around the globe, our favorite destination (yes, even more than Disney…well maybe….) is a place we visit every summer…Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Hilton Head is an actual vacation for us. Husband’s family has taken an annual summer trip to Hilton Head since the beginning of time. For the last 400 years (give or take a few) the entire extended family has rented one huge house together, and done basically the same exact things they do each summer. It’s a beautiful tradition.

 

This years annual group picture

 

Each Hilton Head morning I wake up early, not because I have to, but because I want to get up. I am so well rested and so excited to start the day. A few mornings I actually woke early enough to take a walk on the beach before dawn, watch the sunrise, and search for turtle tracks. I wasn’t lucky enough to find baby turtles making their way to the ocean, but it was still fun to walk around the nests in hopes of seeing them.

 

 

Then, by the time I return to the house the coffee fairy has made a fresh pot of coffee, just waiting for me. It’s magical. For breakfast I have the option of walking about two blocks to pick up fresh croissants from “The French Kiss” bakery with Grandma, or making myself some eggs and toast. I spend the next hour reading and drinking my coffee in the comfy living room, wrapped in cozy blanket, (I just love central air conditioning!) waiting for everyone else to get up.

Around 8:30am a group of us normally want Starbucks and we often take about a mile bike ride to the closest Starbucks together, because one coffee at 6am is certainly not enough.

By the time we get back with our coffees and 3 copies of the New York Times, the rest of the family is up and it’s time to hit the beach. Our beach routine goes like this: swim, see how long we can volley the ball to each other (I think the record was 42…we aren’t the most athletic family), get out and either build a giant sand castle or play a crazy Scandinavian game.

 

 

Our Finnish family/friend lady introduced us to a really fun game that is similar to bowling called Molkky, which we’ve played for years now. Last summer, while visiting other friends in Sweden we were taught to play another game called Kub, which is unlike any game I’ve ever played.

 

 

Lots of us are really competitive and these games become very intense. We scream, argue with each other, makeup team names, cheer for our teammates, attract a crowd of strangers, finish by saying “We can’t play this stupid game anymore!”, but always play again the next day.

After everyone is sunburnt and starving we head back to the house to cool off in the pool and make enormous sandwiches with potato bread for everyone. (Hilton Head is the one time of year where everyone forgets the healthy 100% whole grain bread, and indulges in the yellow soft potato bread.)

 

 

The afternoon is spent either going on a very long bike ride through the shady tree-lined sidewalks decorated with tons of Spanish moss, reading by the pool, or more swimming. Also, the coffee fairy shows up again each afternoon and makes large glasses of vanilla flavored iced coffee! It miraculously appears next to me as I sunbathe in a beach chair with a book in my hands. What could be better?

 

 

Each night we wash all the saltwater, sand, in chlorine off to pretty ourselves up for a nice dinner in town, or sometimes a homemade dinner at home. Once everyone is stuffed and maybe a little tipsy, we force the whole family to play games together.

 

 

Our favorite games are charades and Scattegories, and we introduced half the family to “murder” this year. These games are all played in a similar fashion to the games played on the beach, but no one takes the yelling or competition too seriously, just serious enough to loudly announce your score, jump up and down, and dub yourself the “Scattergories queen”.

And, the whole day ends so perfectly… each night I lay in my comfy large bed with the AC turned way low, the fan on high, and the cable TV on E! Coming from our hot loft, window-unit AC, non-cable Television, teeny-weeny apartment, I feel like I’m in the lap of luxury and fall asleep to the sound of the Kardashian’s planning their next family trip. Perfect.

 

 

The only downside to Hilton Head is that Husband and I are sad that it has to end. I’m on the way home now, typing away as my ears pop on the plane, and already looking forward to Hilton Head next year.

*I had every intention of keeping up the blog while on vacation, but it somehow kept slipping my mind. Damn coffee fairy, I blame her for distracting me. Hope you all had a great week!

Cheers!