2017 in Review

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WOW! I can’t believe 2017 is coming to a close. It’s been a year of personal growth, adventure, travel, family moments, and so much more. I learned a lot, and have come up with some exciting ideas to take with me into 2018. I plan to jump even more outside of my comfort zone this upcoming year, and see where the wind blows.

I want to thank each and every one of you this past year for supporting me on this journey…for reading this blog, for joining one of my health + fitness Challenge Groups, for commenting on a Facebook post, direct messaging me on Instagram, watching my IG Stories, giving me all of your advice and feedback on outfit choices or motherhood woes or workouts…or just telling me that you are inspired by a post or that you can relate. It truly means SO much to me. I started this blog and my brand really as a creative outlet a few years ago, but it’s turned into an incredible community which I am so grateful for. So THANK YOU for your continued support, and I hope you continue to take the journey with me in 2018!

Below is a look back at some of my favorite memories and experiences of 2017:

 

Zack and I finally went on a “Paint Night” Date and we loved it

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I was obsessed with smoothie bowls:

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I learned a ton about gut health + drank lots of kombucha (I did a LIVE @ 9 Episode on this which you can find on my Facebook page, but I promise to create a blog post on this for 2018 so it’s in written form):

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Boys both fell in love with soccer just like their mama:

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Helped hundreds of Challengers get on track with their nutrition with these amazing portion control containers:

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Little sis got engaged and asked the entire fam to be in the wedding ūüôā :

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Zack and I had a week-long road trip together to Asheville (thanks Mom + Dad!):

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I was able to take the family on an all-expenses paid trip to Punta Cana with Beachbody as a reward trip for my work with the company. To say they had a blast would be an understatement:

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I developed a passion for nut butters lol ūüėČ

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Hubby and I did the Ultimate Reset Challenge Plant Based Cleanse program and we learned so much about our bodies, our eating habits, and made many tweaks and changes to our habits going forward (again, I owe you all a full synopsis of this experience in blog post form…coming at you in 2018!):

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Went to the Dave Matthews Concert with the fam:

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Spent many summer days at the NY Beaches + riding the rides at Coney Island:

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Took Nico on his first roller coaster ride at Hershey Park with the family:

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Celebrated our 10 Year NYC Anniversary:

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Went to Rhode Island with the hubs to watch one of my best friends walk down the aisle:

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Went to NOLA for my 3rd Beachbody Summit with my amazing team. We continue to grow, and I love training each new person how to become a #boss and build businesses that give them happier, healthier, more fulfilled lives:

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Completed multiple workout programs including Shift Shop, T25, Insanity Max 30, and 3 Week Yoga Retreat:

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Celebrated my sister’s Bachelorette Weekend in VA Beach rooftop style:

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Luca got his 1st haircut:

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Nico turned 4 and Luca turned 2 with a Construction themed Birthday Party:

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My challengers got amazing results with their fitness + nutrition:

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We went on family vacation to Cape May:

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and the OBX:

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Nico started his first year of “real” school through the NYC DOE and is loving Pre-K. Luca started a 2’s playschool co-op, and it was a bit of a transition at first, but he seems to be enjoying it now:

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We threw at Rainbow Sprinkle Themed Bridal Shower for my sister:

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My little sis and her high school sweetheart finally tied the knot after 13 years:

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Took the boys on their first-ever camping trip this fall with good friends:

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Had an epic Halloween dressing up like The Wizard of Oz characters:

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Did ALL the the holiday things to celebrate the season (and enjoyed my most favorite/stressful time of the year):

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Welp!!!!

That is a WRAP. Wow. What.a.year.

It’s been a good one full of fantastic memories. Thanks again for your continued support of popcorn and pandas. I appreciate you all SO much. More than you know.

I wish all of you an incredible New Year!!! I cannot wait to see what 2018 has in store.

XO,

Gina

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Fishkill Farms

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I look forward to the fall and harvest season every year. So yeah, maybe I’m basic and I like pumpkin spice lattes. At least I own it. But before my coffee drinking days growing up, I always loved the fall. The new school year was always exciting to me…starting fresh (with brand new school supplies…am I the only dork who was obsessed with school supply shopping? I craved it!), seeing my friends again or meeting new ones, football games, tailgates, parties, social events, soccer season…I loved all of it. And now as a mama, I look forward to the excitement on my little boys’ faces (or at least one of them this year…the other slept in the carrier the whole time) as they run toward the pumpkin field. Those big, bright eyes lighting up when I tell him he can pick one out for himself to bring home. His joy brings ME joy, and I love seeing him so happy and running free in the great outdoors.

We had a fantastic time upstate at Fishkill Farms where we not only got to pick out a pumpkin for each member of the family (and some extra exciting indoor white pumpkins for mama), but we also got to explore the apple orchards and run around from tree to tree looking for delicious fruit to take home and dream about what to make with them. Speaking of…stay tuned for an apple butter post in the near future! ūüėČ

It was a little hectic getting inside the farm with the traffic…definitely not rainbows and butterflies…more like milk and tears and stopping along the side of the road to nurse. But that’s life these days and as crazy as it may be, it was worth getting in there and seeing that little boy’s smile.

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What are your favorite fall traditions?

Yesterday, Nico and I did pumpkin painting for the first time which he thoroughly enjoyed. I am looking forward to doing some more fall and holiday themed art projects with him throughout the season.

Yesterday also kicked off Week 3 of the 21 Day Fix for me. Haven’t missed a day yet and going strong. Really loving being back in action, and this program is keeping my nutrition in check on a whole different level than ever before. ¬†I may even do another round when this is over!

Hope you are all having a great week!

XO,

Gina

Bright & Sunny {With Stella & Dot Part 2}

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This past weekend, our little family of three (almost four) decided to escape the city for a little fresh air in Upstate NY. We explored the town of Beacon and settled down at a nice little spot on the Hudson that we found on Airbnb in the town of Rosendale. It was a lot of fun to tour around some unfamiliar places, try new restaurants, window shop, and hike new trails. The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail was a perfect hike for a prego mama and a newly hiking toddler. Nice and flat! We had a gorgeous view of the trestle bridge right across from our place, and the town of Rosendale was only steps away. It was a lovely get-a-way and it was so nice to spend some time in the great outdoors.

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Dress: Old Navy / Sun Hat: Snagged on my trip to Mexico Рsimilar here / Shoes: Cynthia Vincent / Sunnies: Vintage / Watch: Michael Kors (now on sale) / Lip: Revlon Hydrangea / City Slim Clutch, Rebel Pendant & Ring, Bianca Earrings (can be worn multiple ways!), Wanderer Cuff, Pave Triangle Cuff, & Eden Bangle: All on loan from Stella & Dot

This is Part 2 of my Spring/Summer photo shoot with Stella & Dot. I have had my eye on this Rebel Pendant for almost a year now, and now there is also an amazing Rebel Ring to match. ¬†I am also in love with this City Slim Clutch in the metallic color. It’s super chic, and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

Shop the shoot here at my online trunk show, and keep in mind that today is the LAST day to guarantee shipping for Mother’s Day! The rest of this collection is fabulous, so you will definitely want to check it out. Trust me, mom will approve! Shoppers will be entered to win free jewelry and pieces¬†at 50% off.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and I hope you get a chance to get outside today and enjoy this sunshine!

XO,

Gina

Floral Fit & Flare

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I’m tiny, yet curvy (even more so now post baby), so the classic fit & flare has always been a favorite silhouette of mine. ¬†I found this Pim & Larkin floral beauty on sale via Piperlime, and I had to snag it for wedding season. ¬†Unfortunately, this one is sold out, but they have other gorgeous options as well. ¬†I¬†particularly love the two black and white striped fit & flare options you’ll see on this page.

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Dress: Pim & Larkin via Piperlime Рsold out, but love their other options here /  Shoes: Sole Society / Clutch: Express / Shades: ModCloth / Bracelet & Earrings Set: Gifted / Lip: Lancome Fuchsia Clutch (discontinued РWannabe is similar)

I apologize for falling off the world (wide web) these past few weeks. ¬†It’s just that it’s summer time, and I have been having way to much fun enjoying it rather than writing¬†about it. ¬†I’ve been taking photos along the way, but I’ve been too busy to bother with editing and uploading. ¬†Sorry, not sorry. These were taken back on our trip to Rock Hall, MD. ¬†We were on our way to the rehearsal dinner, and we passed a drive-through wildlife refuge. ¬†There was no question, we had to turn back around and take a peek. ¬†We saw a hawk, baby deer, a few more birds and a gorgeous landscape which turned out to be a beautiful back drop for a photo op as well.

This summer has been epic for road travel.  Who would have thought we could handle this many adventures as a family of three?  I have to say, Nico is taking these road trips like a champ and he seems to enjoy every new place we take him.  I have so much to share from the rest of Rock Hall, Cape May, and Rehoboth, and I promise I will give it my best effort, but I have to warn you we have the North Fork, Deep Creek Lake, and the OBX on the horizon!

Hope you all are enjoying your summer as much as I am.

XO,

Gina

Insta-Snaps from New Hampshire

We spent Memorial Day Weekend up in New Hampshire near the Wolfeboro area and Lake Winniepesaukee.  While it was rainy and cold a lot of the time, we did manage to get some sunshine and some great hikes in.  We stayed on Lower Beech Pond overlooking the water in a fantastic lake house with good friends.  We drank wine, cooked delicious meals together, played games, explored the town of Wolfeboro, and took in some stunning views.  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen a lot of these, but here are a few snaps from our trip.

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 Nico reading a story at the lake house with my bestie, Erin

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 Penny Candy Shop in Wolfeboro, NH

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 Yes, I think I will have some wine this vacation! Oops!

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Snuggling my baby at Camp Beech in Tuftonboro, NH

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¬†Taking a break for lunch on the Italian Trail on Mt. Shaw‚Ķthat one’s for you Pops!

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 My two happy guys!

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 Mountain Selfie on the top of Mt. Shaw

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 So proud of Nico on his 1st hike ever! He was a champ in his Beco Gemini Carrier.

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 Cairn aka Rock Tower

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 On the top of the White Ledge Loop Trail in the White Mountain National Forest

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 Standing on the top!

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 Continuing on the trail loop

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Such a stunning view!

Some other places we visited that aren’t photographed here:

1. El Centenario: Delicious Mexican fare РWe loved the fresh homemade chips and salsa, chile relleno, and chicken enchiladas they had to offer.  The staff was very friendly, and we would definitely go back here.

2.  Downtown Grille:  We came here for coffee and enjoyed their lattes so much, we came back again on the way to drop our friends off at the airport!  I enjoyed both the Blueberry Cobbler latte and the Milky Way. Yum!  If we go back, I would like to try their breakfast as well.

3. Sandy Martin Art Gallery: We had a lovely conversation with owner and artist, Sandy. ¬†She is an extremely talented artist in¬†multiple mediums¬†including oil paints, watercolors, photography, & more. ¬†She loves music and hosts parties within the gallery featuring¬†local musicians on the in-house piano and guitar. ¬†She also knows all the town gossip and Jimmy’s Fallon’s whereabouts when he comes to town. ¬†Definitely a nice stop in!

4. ¬†Sprout’s: Featuring lots of children’s toys, clothing, and gifts.

5. Details: Great little boutique stop for gifts and accessories.  Also have an adorable dress selection.  I walked away with a dainty little flower crown that I love!

6. ¬†Jake’s Seafood: Enjoyed steamers, haddock, chowder, and lots of other yummy seafood here! ¬†Outdoor seating is nice as well.

7. ¬†Castle in the Clouds: A beautiful stop with a beautiful view. ¬†It was rainy and we were hungry, so we didn’t end up doing the tour, but we did have some lunch (I had a lobster roll‚Ķdrool!) at the Carriage House.

We had such a great time on our trip, despite the inclement weather. ¬†I’m glad we were able to get two great days of hiking in, but I think next summer if we go back to New England, we will try for the 4th of July weekend again so it will be warm enough to jump in that lake!

Hope you are all having a great week!

XO,

Gina

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Lake House

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Happy Monday everyone! ¬†Just wanted to share some photos from our lake house that we stayed in at Branch Lake in Elsworth, Maine. ¬†The location could not be beat, and it was a dream come true. ¬†I took these on our first full day when we played on the lake all day. ¬†If you’ve never been to Maine, I would definitely suggest you check it out. ¬†Thanks to the Shaw family for opening up their cottage to us as the first renters ever!

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Hope you all had a great weekend!

The hubby went away with his brother for a guy’s weekend, so my sister-in-law came to visit me in Brooklyn. ¬†We did girly/mom things like prenatal massages, high tea, hung out with college girlfriends, dinner, and brunches. ¬†The massage was phenomenal and extremely relaxing. ¬†Just what the doctor ordered. ¬†We went to Massage Williamsburg¬†on recommendation, and it sure was a treat! ¬†Our delicious dinner was Korean BBQ at Dokebi, and we had brunch in my hood at Costello Plan. ¬†It was a lot of fun bumping both of our prego bellies together (me at 31.5 weeks and her at 29 weeks!), ¬†talking about baby things, catching up on life, and being girly. ¬†Looking forward to both my little one and my little nephew who will be arriving so closely together. ¬†It’s a really exciting time for the Notes Family!

XO,

Gina

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Maine via Instagram

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Red’s Eats – Best Lobster Roll in Maine

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And here you have it…amazing

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At the top of Mt. Battie in Camden

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Maine blueberries

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The cute little town of Camden

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We ate ice cream everywhere…

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Blueberry pancakes with fresh fruit and blueberry syrup thanks to the homeowners of the lake house we stayed at

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The view from our bedroom…breathtaking

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Pretty much ate blueberry everything…also the popovers here were fantastic!

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Me and my Munchkin at Jordan Pond

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Just chillin’ at Branch Lake

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A little Fourth of July manicure – Essie Forever Yummy and Set in Stone

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Gorgeous sunrise on the lake

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Happy Independence Day in Bar Harbor!

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Homemade blueberry pie from Gale…found her through a local inside tip!

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30 weeks pregnant smoochin’ my honey – this photo by Rai Pollard

Wow!! ¬†What a trip! ¬†Well, here is your first sneak peak into our Maine adventures! ¬†While I took many photos with my “real” camera on the trip, sometimes it is just easier to run around with your iPhone instead of lugging around the big heavy camera all the time. ¬†If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen some of these photos, but you may want to read on if you plan on visiting Maine. ¬†If you haven’t planned on it, you should still read on, and you may want to afterward!

We picked up our friends Erin and Rai from the airport in Boston on Tuesday morning and started our journey to Maine. ¬†Along the way to our lake house in Elsworth, we decided to take the longer scenic route through Camden, a town we had visited for a wedding a few years prior. ¬†I have to admit, another main reason for taking this route was for the amazing lobster rolls at Red’s Eats! ¬†We ate here last time we were in Maine, and it’s absolutely amazing. ¬†They pile on the lobster, add some drawn butter, throw it on toast, and it’s ready to chow down. ¬†Although, the lines here are typically and famously long, we have gotten lucky both times and have arrived with no line. ¬†The first was at closing time, and this time it was for opening. ¬†We arrived 30 minutes before opening and were the first group in line. ¬†Not 2 minutes after we arrived there was a ridiculous following behind us. ¬†Talk about perfect timing!

After Red’s Eats, we continued on to Camden, where we drove to the top of Mt. Battie, picked some Maine blueberries, walked along the water, and ate blueberry ice cream. ¬†It was the perfect little day time stop through on our trip.

We eventually made it to camp at the Branch Lake house, Shaw Cottage.  We met the owner there who gave us the grand tour, and we found out that we were actually the first people to ever rent the house!  He even left us blueberry pancake mix with blueberry syrup as a little welcoming gift.  How sweet was that?  We stocked the house with groceries for dinner and breakfast and played Cards Against Humanity while we cooked.  So fun!

The next morning, we hung out at the lake, took the motor boat and kayaks out for some fun, went swimming, and had a ball. ¬†That night, we gussied up and drove down to Bar Harbor (which surprisingly seemed closer than it did on the map) for dinner at Havana. ¬†It was an adorable little spot with fantastic seafood and Latin cuisine. ¬†And of course we got ice cream after at Mt. Desert Is. Ice Cream. ¬†Yum! ¬†After returning to Branch Lake, we did another one of my favorite Maine activities, which is looking at the stars. ¬†I don’t know whether it’s lack of pollution or being closer to the top of the globe, but the stars just look amazing in Maine. ¬†I could literally see the Milky Way Galaxy outline; it was unreal.

Day 3, we started off the morning bright and early (and I mean early) around 4:13am to watch the sunrise. ¬†I cannot wait to actually share these photos with you soon. ¬†Zack and Erin went kayaking to check out the morning sights and the sunrise from the water, and Rai and I stayed behind to capture the view from our floating dock. ¬†I don’t know if I have seen a sunrise so beautiful! ¬†It was picture perfect. ¬†Once the sun was fully up, we were actually still exhausted so we went back to sleep for a few hours before really starting our day.

Once we were fully up, we headed down to Acadia to check out some easy hiking trails. ¬†Unfortunately, we ended up “hiking” by a golf course and the side of the road for an hour instead of on a “real” trail. ¬†That was kind of a bummer, and it was super hot out, so we decided to then hit up Sand Beach quickly before lunch. ¬†Sand Beach was really beautiful and had gorgeous rocky cliffs on either side of it. ¬†The water was so cold, I don’t know how people were actually swimming in there, but it was at least refreshing to dip my toes in. ¬†After Sand Beach, we headed to Jordan Pond, which was a really great restaurant within the State Park. ¬†We treated ourselves to their famous popovers, lobster stew and sandwiches while taking in the views of the water and mountains around us.

That night, we headed into town at Bar Harbor for their Fourth of July fireworks show! ¬†We have seen fireworks in Manhattan for the past couple years, which are always fantastic…but there is something about sitting on a big lawn overlooking the water with the band playing patriotic tunes that just makes you feel good ‘ole American on the Fourth of July! ¬†We were all really impressed with the pyrotechnics, and we headed back to Elsworth that night with big smiles on our faces.

Our last full day in Maine was spent lazily enjoying the peaceful lake.  The early morning and the hustle and bustle of the previous day made us all exhausted, and we wanted nothing more than to relax and enjoy the serenity.  We kayaked, sunbathed, took multiple swimming dips in the lake, read books and magazines, and had long chats on the floating dock.  I think we each had a little nap that day as well.  We ended the day with a delicious tapas dinner at Cleonice in Elsworth, although I have to warn you, there is no AC there, which was pretty brutal!  Luckily, the food was good enough to make it worth withstanding the heat.

We definitely wish our trip to Maine could have lasted longer. ¬†We had a great time with great friends, and a trip back is definitely in our future! ¬†Stay tuned for the rest of my photos next week from the “real” cam.

Happy Friday ya’ll!

XO,

Gina

Phoenix From My Phone

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Mystery Castle

For one reason or another, it proved easier for me to take photos on my phone while in Phoenix.  This first photo is from my DSLR, but the rest were snapped from my iPhone.  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen some of these, but here is a little more description about our travels.

We arrived first to the Tempe area and stopped at the Mystery Castle. ¬†It is a house that was built out of recycled and found materials of the area. ¬†It was constructed in the 1930’s ¬†by a father for his daughter who didn’t want her “sand castle to wash away.” ¬†It was an interesting stop off with a cool backstory, and the house was unique with tons of art and crafts produced by the family, mostly the daughter.

We then headed to Mill Avenue, home of Arizona State University. ¬†We drove around the campus exploring, walked around the town to the different shops, and then stopped off for lunch at Caffe Boa, which was absolutely delicious. ¬†Being Cinco de Mayo, I expected it to be a little more crazy than it was considering ASU is supposedly ¬†the “#1 Party School in America,” but I think students were graduating and finishing up their finals…and it was also a Sunday.

We later arrived at our hotel, Hilton Tipatio Cliffs Resort, which was absolutely stunning. ¬†The views were gorgeous, and I couldn’t wait to jump in the fabulous pools. ¬†However, we were zonked, so we crashed for the night.

The next morning we woke up and decided to hike the short but steep climb, the North Mountain Trail, which was surprisingly connected right to our hotel (as well as at least three or more other trails).  It was pretty great, and we got some nice views of downtown Phoenix as well.  After the hike, we suited up and headed to the pool for the day.  A (virgin) pina colada, sunshine, swimming, and a good book was just my idea of vacation that day!

That night, we met up with some cousins of mine who moved to Phoenix about 10 years ago, and went to dinner at a great Mediterranean place called Fez.  It was so wonderful to catch up with them and share stories after not seeing each other for so many years.

We were also able to meet a family friend in Phoenix before we went on to our next destination, so we were happy to be able to make our rounds and see everyone we had planned on!  That about sums up our time in Phoenix until the end of the trip.  Stay tuned for my next post of Arizona adventures!

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Mill Avenue

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Room service on the balcony ūüôā

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View from the North Mountain Trail

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I did it!

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Chillin’…toes – Essie Avenue Maintain

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FYI…my bathing suit is my first maternity one from Target. ¬†The book I’m reading is Bringing up Bebe – an American mother discovers the wisdom of French parenting. ¬†I would definitely recommend this to all expecting mommies!

It’s supposed to be sunny and warm here today in NYC, but I’m still waiting for the clouds to part. ¬†Hubby returns from ATL tonight, and I am definitely looking forward to it!

Happy Thursday!

XO,

Gina

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Glamping

Glamping (verb) Going camping, but with glamour.

Ok so, we may not have embraced the “glamping” term the way the Real Housewives of Orange County would have…we actually got down and dirty camping with tents and sleeping bags. ¬†But who says you can’t enjoy nature without a little bit of style?

The hubby and I met up with our besties, Erin and Rai, this weekend for some fun in the outdoors and smores in the woods of Pennsylvania. ¬†Here are a few shots of me in my “glamping” gear.

Cargo Pants: H&M Рsimilar here / Top: Lady Foot Locker / Vest: Merona via Target (old) / Hat: John Deere / Sunglasses: Calvin Klein / Bracelets: Friendship bracelets from the boardwalk on Jacob Riis Park, Batman bracelet / Boots: Aldo / Earrings: Aldo

Photos by: Rai Pollard

#40 Go to a Rodeo

May 29, 2011

During my senior year of high school, my basketball team took a trip down to Disney World for a tournament.¬† There was a boys wrestling tournament and a boys basketball tournament also going on there at the same time we were there, and we all ended up staying at the All-Star Sports Resort during our stay.¬† Being the silly high school girls we were, of course we wanted to meet all the boys on our off time from the court.¬† One particular person I remember meeting on this trip was a boy from Texas.¬† I can’t remember his name, but my friends and I all thought he was a very sweet guy who portrayed the epitome of southern hospitality.¬† I had never been to Texas, but he told me that if I ever went I would HAVE to see a rodeo while I was there.¬† Well, I still haven’t made it to Texas, but I did get to see my first rodeo!¬† While on our honeymoon in Hawaii, Zack and I were able to check off yet another one of my bucket list items!¬† I know you are probably thinking “A rodeo?¬† In Hawaii?”¬† which is exactly what I thought at first too.¬† We met a local Hawaiian at a bar called Tahiti Nui the night before.¬† He was from the South Shore of Kauai, but he was up on the North Shore for the Waipa Rodeo.¬† At the time, we weren’t really sure if he was being serious, or if he was just “messing with the tourists,” but we decided to check it out since it wasn’t too far from where we were staying.¬† Turns out, he WAS being serious and you could smell the horses and cattle upon pulling into the Waipa Ranch.¬† We later found out that cowboy and ranch culture is a big part of the Hawaiian life.¬† More than a century ago, a man by the name of John Palmer Parker contracted Mexicans (called Paniolo by the Hawaiians) to come to Hawaii and teach the locals how to rope and ride a generation before their American counterparts in the “Wild West.”¬† The beef business boomed and the first ranch was born.¬† Since then, many other ranches have been born, and it still remains a part of culture today.¬† You have your surfers, and then you have your cowboys.¬† As strange as that sounds, it somehow works!¬† Upon our arrival, it was clear that we were among a crowd of locals who had gathered their families around to enjoy an entire day of rodeo.¬† Being that it was a small town rodeo, there were no huge grandstands; just one side of small bleachers, a ton of trucks pulled up, and lots of tailgating chairs to host the audience.¬† There was a grill to serve up some Kalua pig sandwiches and burgers and lots of kids running around. ¬† To be honest, I really wanted to see some bull riding, but it was a little too small town for those big bulls.¬† However, there was lots of calf roping and mugging which was really cool to watch since neither of us had seen that before.¬† We chose our favorite cowboys (and one kickass cowgirl!) and cheered them on as they took off chasing the calves.¬† I have to admit I did feel bad for the little calves.¬† Although they weren’t hurt, they didn’t look like they were having too much fun.¬† Overall, it was a good day and a good learning experience to see a different part of the Hawaiian culture.¬† It also segues into my next completed adventure, so stay tuned!