April 29, 2017

Old City, New Eyes (And An Almost-Fancy Outfit Idea)

“The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another…”: I think Proust is advocating for staycations? Feeling inspired, I set off to discover my familiar old city with new eyes. Specifically, those of a toddler and kindergartener.

Boston was my old stomping ground through my crazy 20s, and while I was quite familiar with the divey pubs and late night pizza spots, kid-friendly (ok, if we’re being honest, “daytime”) activities weren’t on my radar. And much like me, the city has changed – so much – over the last decade. I headed in to get the lay of the land before taking the kiddos, since the ‘Big Dig’ rearranged streets and exits almost on the daily for years. I didn’t need to worry, though, the new Greenway area is the perfect jumping off spot.

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April 14, 2017

An Easy Spring Outfit and An Everyday Adventure

I have a poster framed in our guest room that reads “I do believe it’s time for another adventure.” I crave exploring, travel and finding new places. I’m always amazed when I find out about an incredible new spot right here at home.

How did I not know about this epic location here in Portland? Gorgeous, right? It’s called Rocky Butte and it was the site of a little day adventure for me. Yes, a rainy day adventure, but fortunately the downpours held off while I looked around and snapped a few pictures and took a minute to myself to clear my head.

I want to be a laid-back person, a laid-back mom. I really do. I’m not overly emotional most of the time and I approach a lot of life in a pretty matter-of-fact way, but I’m a perfectionist and a serial do-er. Idle hands and all, I guess. I have a frantic need to check off that to-do list everyday.  And I have a bad habit of making myself feel guilty if I don’t get through that list. I mistakenly think because I enjoy my work or because I’m not going 100mph every second of the day that I don’t need to set aside time to myself. It’s so hard not to listen to those voices all the time, right?

But, on this morning, I ventured out, ignored those voices and that to-do list and just enjoyed a spectacular view of the city I love. Yes, I’ll bring Sienna here sometime, but this day was just for me…

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April 7, 2017

Packing For Cuba: What We Wore

 

If you follow me on IG (@shanachristine), you know that we recently returned from an amazing trip to Cuba.  I have so much more to say on that topic (hopefully next week??), but so many of you were asking for outfit / packing details that I wanted to crank this one out.

We visited Cuba at the end of March, which is technically considered their cold season, but…it was glorious.  Hot during the day, yet cool enough in the evenings to need a light jacket or sweater.  It did rain once, but blew in/out so quickly that the net result was wandering into the bar for one more mojito.  #twistmyarm

As I mentioned in the Kid’s Cuba Packing List article, we brought only carry-ons to avoid the long luggage line at the Havana airport.  Made extra tricky by the fact that one can’t easily run out for, say, forgotten sunscreen in Cuba.  Cuba is not a shopping destination (to put it mildly), so you’re more likely to do without rather than replace it.

A few things I learned:

  • In the off season, Cuba does get cool at night.  Especially when there’s a breeze.  (And when walking along the Malecon, there was always a breeze.)
  • Cubans have style.  It’s more of a Miami vibe than an East-Coast hipster vibe, but grown men do not seem to wear shorts at night, and the women dress sexy.
  • On that note….I thought, for a hot second, that Cuba might be conservatively dressed.  HELLS NO.  Even the Cuban TSA agents wore short, tight skirts with fishnet tights.  I am not making this up.  It was amazing.
  • Old Havana has lots of cobblestones.  I didn’t bother with heels once the entire trip.

Here’s what worked for me:

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By April 7, 2017 14 No tags Permalink
March 29, 2017

Kids’ Capsule Wardrobes For Spring Break

 

We just got back from an amazing trip to Cuba.  More (so much more) on that topic later.  For now, I wanted to share something quick and easy:  our packing strategy for the kids.

The Havana airport isn’t known for….expediency, and sitting around for potentially 3-4 hours(!!) waiting on luggage with our two little crazies (and no internet) is not the best way to begin any sort of vacation.  To put it mildly.  So we wanted to pack light, yet bring everything one could possibly need, since you can’t easily replace a forgotten item in Cuba.

The mission?  ONE carry-on for two boys to share, small enough for even the six year old to handle through busy airport connections, yet containing everything (including liquids like bugspray and sunscreen) that the two kiddos might need in Cuba.

Here’s what worked for us:

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By March 29, 2017 15 No tags Permalink
March 20, 2017

Naples, FL: What To Do (And Wear)

As Spring Break approaches I find myself a leetle regretful that I didn’t plan a warm weather trip for us this year. I mean, we’re so much closer to Hawaii here in Portland and we still haven’t been…next year maybe I can write a travel post on that trip! (Pinky, are you reading…)

We were fortunate enough to get to visit my parents in February in South Florida this year, though, for some sunshine. (You may have seen a few pics on my Instagram account @elletrain) The weather was in the low 80’s for at least half of our trip and it was lovely. We got a date night, I got some mama time and of course we had some trips to the beach while we were there. I did a little run-down here of some of our favorite activities and some suggestions on what to wear and pack if you’re planning a trip to the Sunshine State.

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By March 20, 2017 3 No tags Permalink
March 5, 2017

Hot Eats & Cool Shops in Portland, Maine

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 Portland Trading Company

A few weeks ago the hubs and I escaped for our first weekend away since kids. Hallelujah! We spent a day exploring Portland, Maine – or as I like to call it, Brooklyn North. There are some seriously cool shops and amazing restaurants packed into this little city, not to mention the quaint cobblestone side streets (incredibly slippery in winter, FYI) and stunning views of Casco Bay. I kept thinking how much the kids would love to visit even though we were supposed to be off-duty! It’s such a unique place. The wharfs in the old, still-working port are fascinating, and there’s a strong arts culture that has fun events year round. For older kids and adults, there’s an incredible music sceneLake Street Dive was in town that weekend for a sold-out show. I was admittedly surprised at how much the city has going on and wished we had more time to explore. Note – it’s not a definitive city guide, just our picks from shops and food we found when wandering around. Think mashed potato donuts (oh, yes), a gorgeous kid’s boutique, Scandinavian heaven and lots more. Let’s go!

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By March 5, 2017 16 No tags Permalink
February 13, 2017

Travel Notes: Skiing With Kids, Breckenridge

 

Gang, we had an amazing time at Breckenridge over the holidays.  This was our second time going – we took the kids for Spring Break last year, too – and while there are a ton of different ski resorts to choose from…..we really, really love Breck.

There’s something so intense about a ski vacation – not only is everything so expensive (ski passes on top of plane tickets on top of rental cars), but much of your fun depends on weather, and god forbid anyone gets sick.  Especially if you are traveling to the Colorado Rockies, where the altitude is no joke.

So Breck hits the sweet spot for us.  It has the right mix of world class skiing, comfy places to stay close to the slopes, an apres-ski scene that’s also pretty kid-friendly, a charming downtown, fun activities off-slope, and……(and this is probably the biggest one for us)…..a seriously unique ski school experience for the kids.  This ski school, to quote Raines, is ‘EPIC’.

Here are the highlights from our trip…..

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By February 13, 2017 7 No tags Permalink
December 10, 2016

Local Love: Santa’s Back At Frankford Hall

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Hey, Philly!  Know what’s back?  Santa at Frankford Hall.  Over the years, this has become one of our family’s most beloved traditions.  Frankford Hall does a Santa experience like no other:  there’s Santa (of course), the requisite Christmas Story-style slide, fake snow, lights, trees, holiday music (that frankly I wish was a little less kid-friendly)….and beer.  With pretzels.  And ping-pong and Jenga and brats and kraut and adult shakes that are totally worth my weekend dairy splurge.  (Think ‘Toasted Marshmallow’ that comes with an actual toasted marshmallow and a shot of Jack.)

There’s free hot chocolate for the kiddos, but if they prefer the impressive shakes (mine do), the staff is well practiced at differentiating between kid shakes and adult shakes, so…..yeah.  There’s that.

This holiday extravaganza happens over the next two weekends in December, Dec 10 – 11th from 10:30 – 3PM, and Dec 17-18th from 10:30 – 4PM.

We’ll be heading over at some point (either this weekend or next), but keep reading to see a few fun pics from last year…..

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By December 10, 2016 10 No tags Permalink
November 21, 2016

Jess’ Go-to Holiday Outfit: Velvet + Leather

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My favorite place to visit during the Holiday season here in Grand Rapids is the Downtown Market. If you live in West Michigan chances are you’ve already been (and love it) and if you’re just passing through, it’s definitely worth a visit. Home to an expansive 24 vendor market hall that’s packed with inspiring local vendors: artisan foods, wines, gift boutiques, bakeries, clothing and decorated to the tills during the Holiday Season, the Downtown Market never fails to get me into the Holiday spirit. It’s a great place to connect with friends over coffee or a glass of wine,  shop for Holiday gifts AND the perfect opportunity for me to break out my new favorite Holiday outfit.

In past years, my holiday outfits have centered around skirts or dresses (which I love), but since they were such dressy looks, and not very warm to boot, I usually only wore them once over the holiday season. This year’s outfit: a Blank NYC Vegan Pant, velvet cami and slouchy cardigan, is so much more versatile and functional, that I could almost wear them everyday!

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November 2, 2016

My Go-To Travel Uniform (What To Wear To The Airport…And Everyday)

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Happy November!!  I’m interrupting Cropped Flares week to talk travel.  Specifically, my very favorite Fall/Winter travel uniform.  This outfit is super comfortable, can be warm or cool depending on airport conditions (or the weather wherever you land), and is cute enough to be worn well past travel days.

In fact, when my mom was packing for her recent visit to Philly, I basically told her to pack this exact travel uniform:  jeans, fashion sneakers, cute tops, a leather jacket.  (Add a scarf, hat and mittens if it’s cold.)

Done.

Add a gorg travel bag and you’re set for a weekend getaway, or a quick trip home to visit family for Thanksgiving.

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By November 2, 2016 6 No tags Permalink