Adios Winter!

A snowy driveway
A snowy driveway

Finally. It is FINALLY looking like winter is over and spring is arriving. I cannot tell you how much I dreaded this winter. Last winter was the longest coldest most depressing (literally) winter of my life. I dreaded this winter so much that I had a list in order to prepare myself for the long cold and dark months. I needed strategies to keep myself from falling down that dark hole I was in last year. (Although not being in the hospital or sick at home, was already a huge improvement.)

Shake it off, Belle
Shake it off, Belle

I planned to work out six days a week,  organize parties and get-togethers, go on many cold walks, indulge in extra Starbucks and I even booked our trip to the UK specifically so I had something exciting to look forward to and get me through the worst part of the year.

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However, winter this year wasn’t so bad. Maybe, it was the exaggerated version of winter I had built in my head or the fact that I stuck to my plan, but it didn’t suck. We had a very busy winter of traveling, partying, playdates, 5k’s and a lot more. The best part of this winter is that we had snow, real snow. Not that stick-to-the-grass-for-a-couple-of-hours crap we had the last couple of years, but real fluffy, able-to-build-snowmen, kind of snow.

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In fact, we got snow here, in New York and in Scotland. Apparently, the last couple of weeks of winter felt the need to make up for missed snow. While it was not as fun traveling, it was enjoyable at home. I even got to take a walk around the house during Luna’s nap one day. (Don’t worry, Husband was home.)

snow-covered Edinburgh as we left Scotland
snow-covered Edinburgh as we left Scotland
Central Park
Central Park
our neighborhood
our neighborhood

 

We also had ice, and a lot of it. Ice storms aren’t the best to play in, but there is something exciting about stalking up on groceries and hibernating in your house for a couple of days. I love an excuse to stay in my PJ’s and watch too much TV.

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the backyard
the backyard

The last few days have been warm and sunny. Yellow daffodils and green grass are sprouting all over the place. It’s raining. The animals are getting frisky, and while my allergies are starting to flare, I am so so so excited for warm weather!

Luna is loving the time she is getting to spend outside this week.
Luna is loving the time she is getting to spend outside this week.

Here’s to spring cleaning, afternoon walks, iced coffees, egg hunts, bright colors, sandals, sunglasses and fresh berries!

Cheers!

The Past Week

Today is the first day, The VERY First Day, that we have our house all to ourselves in about two months. It’s glorious. I have spent much of the day doing fantastic things like washing sheets, paying bills, cleaning counters and writing thank you cards, but it still feels like a small vacation. We LOVE having guests, we really do, but ooooooh is it nice when the house is quiet. And, let’s face it…it won’t be quiet for long.

We will probably have more friends visit soon and even more once Luna arrives, but until then here are some snippets from our friends and family the last week…

We had a late family Christmas with our family who came to visit from Pittsburgh and we ate and ate and ate and ate and ate and ate…

family dinner

After driving all day then stuffing my belly/baby I need to lie down… I love this photo someone caught of my big belly with Husband in the background.

34 weeks bump

We celebrated Zoey’s birthday at Sky High – Trampoline Park!

zoey and heidi

I couldn’t jump so I made my own fun by snapping photos of everyone else.

peterandparker

All the girl cousins in a group hug before we say goodbye.

grouphug

And, we just had to stop for ice cream when it was only 8 degrees outside.

ice cream

Until next time…

Cheers!

A Day in Gatlinburg

On New Year’s Day we were staying in a cabin with friends in Pigeon Forge, TN (where the Great Smoky Mountains are), and after sleeping very late (thanks New Year’s Eve!), eating a large breakfast and debating whether or not we even wanted to leave the cabin, we eventually decided to check out downtown Gatlinburg, which I have never explored.

day in gatlinburg

Downtown Gatlinburg is a very touristy cheesy small town full of souvenir shops, gimmicky shows and over the top attractions. So, basically, it was right up our ally. We started off the day in a little village that offered a ridiculous amount of free moonshine samples (“First legalized moonshine”). There was also crazy amounts of free jams, salsas, sauces, dips, pickled things and hot sauces. I stuffed my face while everyone else got tipsy.

free moonshine samples

Someone is enjoying their moonshine
Someone is enjoying their moonshine

sauce samples

You’d think that everyone would need a chaser for the moonshine more than anything, but turns out there’s one hot sauce that had everyone (well the boys mostly…girls were much tougher) begging for milk or more pretzels.

hot sauce

We ate lunch at Bubba Gumps (I know, I know…but God their seafood hush puppies are SO good), shopped, got more free samples, drank very hot coffee to warm us up and took photos all over town. It was really nice to just be on vacation with friends, which I think is a rare opportunity for most.

downtown the group new year's day the girls

Two of our favorite stops were the Jerky Shop and Doc’s Magic Shop. The Jerky Shop had deer, beef, boar, ostrich, alligator AND vegan jerky. Of course, the shop owner offered samples of his jerkys because that’s apparently the rule in Galtinburg. It works by the way, we each left with a bag of jerky. Doc’s Magic Shop doesn’t have free food, but they did offer free magic shows which we soaked up and ooh’d and aww’d over for far too long… and many of us left there with a bag of magic tricks as well.

jerky shop magic shop

Right as we decided it was time to go home (i.e. back to the cabin) we passed a whisky shop offering a big round of free whiskey samples. Once again, I had to sit out on the activity, but I made my own fun…

Worst cowboy faces ever!
Worst cowboy faces ever!

Everyone must have been feeling reeallllyyy good after their round of drinks because this photo session happened minutes later…

love

It was a really good first day of 2014!

gatlinburg

Cheers!

Happy 2014!

2014

I still have so many posts to share about our holiday vacation in Texas, but I can’t help but share our New Year’s Eve in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee first. We drove up yesterday to stay in a cabin with 13 friends and ring in the new year. I think this may be the best way to celebrate New Year’s…no need to dress super fancy, pay a huge cover charge or need to drive home. It’s especially nice since I’m about 8 months pregnant!

We made and brought way too much food and of course too many beverages, we watched Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and played a myriad of card/drinking/pool/random type games. At midnight we got distracted and had one of those “Oh crap, I think the ball dropped!” moments, so we “cheers”ed quickly, kissed our loves and ran out the door with sparklers!

glow sticks cheers soexcited woohoo

Our cabin is right at the top of the hill so we were lucky enough to catch all the fireworks being shot in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

cabin fireworks

The first few hours of 2014 were spent hot tubbing (not me…sadly), playing many more games and staying up way past our bedtimes.

hottub

It’s hard to believe that it’s already 2014 and next New Year’s we will be parents doing who knows what on New Year’s Eve! Now, it’s time to figure out my resolutions…(uh…drink more coffee once Luna arrives and do not become a super competitive Mom are topping the list right now) and start this year off right. However, we have 2 more days left in the mountains, so resolutions and what not are on hold!

Cheers!

Holiday Hangover

Anyone else still recovering from Christmas? I can’t even drink, but the amount of food I’ve consumed and excitement we’ve had has put me in a Christmas coma. It’s the 27th and I just now have a little bit of time and energy to edit some photos and write about how awesome my Christmas in Texas has been over the last week. We spend every other Christmas in Texas with my family, and this year is my nephew’s very first Christmas! Needless to say, it was full of adorableness.

annual parade
me and my nephew watching the parade together

It is also the first holiday season without my MawMaw, which means we have lost some of our family traditions, but at the same time we are creating some new ones that will soon become the traditions for our own kids. To really put a spin on things this year, my Bro-in-law had to work in Dallas on Christmas Eve and fly in Christmas morning to be with us. So our Christmas morning was slow to start, which turned out to be really nice and relaxing.

pawpaw

We ate breakfast, stay in our PJ’s, sipped our coffee and I taught Micah, the nephew, all about the very important tradition of watching Disney’s Annual Christmas Parade.

relaxing

Look at that adorable little Santa butt!
Look at that adorable little Santa butt!

My Mom makes seafood gumbo, potato salad, green salad, fruit salad and rolls every single year for Christmas dinner, and this year we all helped cooked and had everything ready before we even opened the gifts from Santa.

Gift opening was perfect. Even though Micah is too young to actually open his gifts or care about anything except the wads of ripped paper on the floor, it was really fun for us to give him gifts and take a billion photos.

first christmas

Besides, Micah’s gifts the rest of us seemed to have read each other’s minds when it comes to gift giving. My Mom and Dad each gave each other a new tablet, my Mom, sister and I all got new purses. My Mom searched literally all over the country to get me a BCBG coat that I have been dying to have, but couldn’t find anywhere.  AND, my sister, myself and my Mom all ended up making each other a very special gift from my Grandma.

ipad
dad opening his ipad

BCBG mom

My sister and I were super excited about making a framed picture of one of my Mom’s favorite quotes from my Grandma’s journal. Husband had the great idea to print it over a page copied from her journal, and with a little Photoshop it turned out beautiful.

to mom

After receiving the gift, my Mom disappeared for a minute and came back with two extra gifts for me and my sister. She said she had planned on saving them for my baby shower, but couldn’t wait any longer. Turns out that she found 2 poems in one of my Grandma’s spiral that no one has even seen yet. One was written for a daughter (probably for my Mother), and the other was written for a child (obviously a boy, and mostly likely written for my MawMaw’s 8 sons). My Mom had the poems printed and framed to go into our kids’ nurseries. It was the perfect gift, and it felt like a gift directly from my MawMaw.

All three framed quotes and poems.
All three framed quotes and poems.
The poem that will hang in Luna's room.
The poem that will hang in Luna’s room.

Perfect Christmas. Even the dogs has special treats.

belle leia

The rest of the day was spent stuffing our faces, having family stop by to visit and we even made time for some family exercising. (Luckily, it was relief day on Shaun T’s the Asylum).

relief

I hope each of you had an awesome Christmas, holiday, festivus, or whatever you celebrate. I hope to keep posting through the New Year, but with 2 baby showers, a drive back to TN, a New Year’s trip to the Mountains and a second family Christmas over the next week…who knows what will happen! Have a safe, wonderful and fun New Year, just in case I don’t see ya!

The last Christmas with just the two of us!
The last Christmas with just the two of us!

Cheers!

Opryland: A Country Christmas

opryland hotel

After walking through “Ice!” at Opryland we had to make our way over to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center to walk around and gawk at the 2 million Christmas lights hung around the 9 acres of indoor-gardens in the enormous resort.

country christmas

We met up with our friends Jay and Emily, or Jamily which is how I like to refer to them. The four of us spent the evening walking around, watching families take a million photos with numerous DreamWorks characters spread out around the resort, drooling over every restaurant, exploring the empty convention rooms and getting lost among the many gardens and observatories.

There's even a river boat ride that takes you through the hotel!
There’s even a river boat ride that takes you through the hotel!

three of us water fountain restaurant lights friends

This year marks the 30th anniversary of “A Country Christmas” at Opryland.

This tree is 48 feet tall!
This tree is 48 feet tall!

husband

Opryland does an incredible job turning their entire resort into a magical wonderland. Besides the indoor attractions, there are even more lights outside and a giant free nativity scene. Of course the Radio City Rockettes perform all season at the Grand Ole Opry and too many other performances to list are also happening throughout the holidays.

garden

If it wasn’t so outrageously expensive then we would make a night out of it, get a room and enjoy the lights from our balcony…maybe one day.

Hope you are all having a very Merry Christmas Eve! Xoxo

Cheers!

Ice at Opryland!

ice

Alright, alright, it’s that time of year. That super busy time when it’s so hard to get everything done, and right now I am lacking in the writing and sharing area. Tonight, though, I finally have some time to share a review of our trip to Ice at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville! The very nice people who work for Gaylord were kind enough to have come and check out their show that we just love so much.

frosty

Years ago, when we first lived in the Nashville area we went to “Ice!” every year. The Opryland Hotel always puts up an amazing exhibit of Christmas themed scenes all made of ice. This year’s theme is Frosty the Snowman (awesome…one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies). They used over 2 million pounds of ice to create the very colorful and very large scenes! It took over 40 talented artisans from Harbin, China to create the show. It’s very impressive.

Look at Frosty go!
Look at Frosty go!

The master ice carvers actually travel all the way to Tennessee to create their sculptures. They work in 12 hour shifts in the 9-degree freezers to get the job done! The sculptures are then set-up and put together in large rooms for all of us to tour, but these rooms are also kept at 9 degrees. The guests are provided with long hooded warm parkas, but I’d say it is still VERY necessary to dress warm. I had a gloves, close-toed shoes and a scarf and still felt chilly.

fire

The scenes from Frosty were just adorable. The characters were flawless and dialogue from the movie played as you walked from room to room. Even before entering the exhibit we were entertained. The que was lined with big screens TV to entertain us while waiting. We were then ushered into a large room that gave the played a short film on the history of “Ice!” and ended with “snow” falling on us.

que

wait room

snow!

Besides the cute characters and scenes there is also 4 large slides made of ice to enjoy, but beware: lines are long. There are also tons of opportunities for cute photos around all the ice scenes.

slides train

When Frosty’s story ends there is a bonus NYC room this year! Because we are cheesy and sentimental we were especially excited about this section. We are really missing New York this time of year, and all of its holiday glitter and fun. It was nice to walk around a fake New York made of ice. It had all the iconic Christmas in New York attractions…Rockefeller Center’s ice skating rink and giant tree, Broadway, Time Square, 5th Avenue and the Statue of Liberty.

nyc

Can you find Husband on the big screen in "time square"?
Can you find Husband on the big screen in “time square”?

broadway

The final room in “Ice!” is the traditional and always beautiful Nativity made of ice. This room uses all clear glass (no color) and is always the grand finale.

nativity

Afterwards, we defrosted and let our hands regain feeling in the guest shop right outside of “Ice!”. They sell a bazillion souvenirs, hot chocolate, kettle corn and what-not. This year, there was also a special Gingy room. Gingy is a character from Shrek and they had an entire gingerbread house set up where kids can get their photo taken with Gingy, buy a stuffed Gingy and pay to create an entire Gingerbread house. It looked like fun…maybe when Luna is here and a toddler we can actually try this part out!

gingy toy gingy

If you are interested in seeing Frosty and his friends all carved from ice then head over to Opryland by January 1st!  Check their site for prices and times here.

Cheers!