A Weekend With Family in NY

This past weekend I got to travel – by myself – to New York! My brother was in town from Berlin and somewhat last minute I decided to get on a plane to see him and my parents.

It was such a good decision – I hadn’t been home since Christmas and it was great to see my family and also get in some quality time.

The weekend started with a quick stop in the City to see  Jane. We were able to grab a quick lunch and catch up before I caught the train up to Albany with my brother.

Friday started off with a run around my old neighborhood. I saw cows and even caught my brother who was out for a bike ride!

That afternoon, we went to the Hyde, a nearby museum and old house. It was a GORGEOUS fall day in the area, but chilly.

And the museum was really cool – they had a Picasso exhibit going on, but you also get to see the interior of the house, which is preserved since the family lived there in the early 1900s.

Friday night, we went out to dinner in Saratoga Springs. I had an AMAZING grilled octopus dish.

Saturday, we decided to escape town and go for a hike in the Catskills. My brother, mom and I got in the car and after a kinda long car ride, got to the bottom of the trail at the mountain. After hiking up, we saw some amazing views.

The trees were all yellow and orange.

Then, we climbed up even further — you can see the house down below right where I took the picture above.

That night, we had tickets to the Albany Symphony Orchestra! It was a great performance at the beautiful Palace Theater downtown.

Unfortunately, that was the end of an amazing weekend. I hadn’t spent time with just my parents and brother in several (8? 10?) years, and it was just what I needed.

Questions for you:

  • When was the last time you traveled by plane?
  • Do you live near your parents? Siblings?

Visiting Annapolis with a Toddler

A few weeks ago, B, FW and I took our third vacation as a family of three. (The first was a weekend in Columbus when FW was 2 months old, the second was a trip to Atlanta/Cincy/Asheville when FW was 8 months old) After our time in New York seeing my family and friends, we hit the road for another car trip – this time, to Annapolis.

I had never been to the city before, and in our few days there, I really liked it. I would definitely visit again and recommend it if you are traveling with a baby/toddler. (Side note: Is FW really a toddler? It’s hard for me to believe, but at 14 months, he sure is close to being one if he isn’t already.)

Here are some ways to pass the time if you go:

Walk down Main Street and check out the water. View the boats, get a bite to eat, and take photos of the water. We did this each day we were there. With FW we watched the ducks in the water, “woofed” at the many dogs that were walking by, pointed at the many boats and read the historical markers along the way.

Tour the Naval Academy. Most of this tour was pretty toddler friendly – it was a lot of outdoors, walking (or strolling) around, and FW was able to walk or sit and be somewhat loud (he’s at the age where he likes babbling AND shrieking) while we got the scoop. The only parts that were difficult? The chapel and John Paul Jones tomb – both were not places that were built for running/shrieking babies. 

A highlight of the tour? The noon formation. All of the students (or midshipmen as they are called) line up and do roll call at noon before lunch and the band plays some music as well. FW and I enjoyed this part very much!

Take a walking tour. While this tour was a great way to get an understanding of the history of the area, it wasn’t FW’s favorite. In full disclosure, I wouldn’t necessarily call this a toddler-friendly activity, especially if you have a toddler who likes to walk, talk, run and touch every single thing. The constraints of the walking tour (walking when the guide was walking, not touching the historical exhibits, etc.) were a little too much for FW. The tour was also 2+ hours, something that most toddlers may have a hard time following.

Going out to eat. And by out I mean OUTSIDE. We lucked out with the weather while we were in town and got to enjoy a few meals outdoors. I find patios much more FW-friendly (we can get up, walk, be loud, etc.) and Annapolis had quite a few of those. My favorite restaurant while we were there was The Iron Rooster- we actually ended up going there twice – once for brunch and once for lunch – and they even had a kids menu and crayons for FW to color with.

Get ice cream. I made it a goal to get ice cream nightly, and FW enjoyed sharing cones and cups with us. He enjoyed my peanut butter ice cream and B’s chocolate.

Find a playground. Let’s face it – most of the activities we did weren’t made for FW. They were baby-friendly activities, but they weren’t necessarily things he would enjoy doing. So, we made sure that we did find some ways for him to have fun and one of the things we did was find a playground. The playground at the Annapolis Elementary School was perfect! It had kiddie swings, little slides and plenty of area for him to play and run around. We went there before dinner one night and he got so tired out he slept for the first part of our meal, which as any parent knows, is great!

Some questions for you:

  • Have you been on a vacation with a toddler recently? What activities do you recommend?
  • Have you been to Annapolis?

9 Reasons Why 2016 Was Pretty Great

ringing in the new year

ringing in the new year

2016 wasn’t that bad for us.

If you are anything like me and my friends, your Facebook feed has been full of reasons why 2016 was the worst year ever and people beyond ready to welcome in 2017. I even saw this trailer for a fake horror movie about the year:

And while not everything went as hoped in 2016, I can’t complain toooooo much. Why? Well, one big reason – FW. But 2016 was a pretty good year and when I was talking with B about how the year had gone, it was easy to come up with some reasons why. Here are 9 reasons*:
1. FW was born! FW was born in June of 2016, so the year can’t be considered all bad 😉

This was taken in the hospital when we were about to take him home!

This was taken in the hospital when we were about to take him home!

2. I had a healthy, relatively easy pregnancy. I was pregnant for about half of 2016 and I was able to remain active, walking and running, throughout – and I am so grateful of that!

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A wedding a week or so before FW was born
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A morning walk the week FW was born

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5k race at 39 weeks pregnant

And yes, I had the same pose in all the above photos. There’s not much you can do with your arm when your belly sticks out so much!

3. B got a new job! While his commute is a little worse, he is so much happier at his new gig and I’m so proud of him for all he is accomplishing.

4. The Indians were in the World Series! No, we didn’t win. BUT I did get to go to a game in the ALDS AND Game 7 of the World Series and it was great.

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5. The Cavs became NBA World Champions and B and I got to celebrate – both the night of them winning (we went out and partied with all the other Cavs fans to celebrate) and then the parade, the day before FW was born.20160619_230123(0)

6. Great travels. We kicked off the year with a trip to Mexico City (I can’t wait to go back with FW!), got in a trip to Boston for our 5 year anniversary and spent a weekend in Columbus after FW was born.

boston <3

boston ❤

Mexico City!!

Mexico City!!

Columbus!

Columbus!

7. Great friends. I felt so much love this year from so many great friends. I had a wonderful baby shower with so many of my great friends in Cleveland, had another great year part of Ladies Craft Beer Society (I love these ladies!), and even was visited by some other great friends – my BFF Jane came and visited before FW was born and Katie and Caitlin visited shortly afterwards.

Me and Cuoghi - she threw me the best shower!

Me and Cuoghi – she threw me the best shower!

some of the Ladies Craft Beer Society at my baby shower.

some of the Ladies Craft Beer Society at my baby shower.

Jane was excited to see me and touch the belly :)

Jane was excited to see me and touch the belly 🙂

girls night out with Katie and Caitlin!

girls night out with Katie and Caitlin!

8. I got to spend another year as a Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador. I’m so grateful to represent the Cleveland Marathon and even though I was just about 9 months pregnant, I’m so glad I got to be part of the group again and run the 5k/10k Challenge Series.

Cari and I before the race! We both did the 10k

Cari and I before the race! We both did the 10k

with my fellow ambassadors

with my fellow ambassadors

9. We got a new car! I didn’t realize a new car could excite me so much, but I LOVE our Subaru so much. We got it over the summer and I am loving using it this winter!

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I know many of us are looking forward to having 2016 behind us – and while I had a great year, I’m pretty excited to see what 2017 has in store for us! I have a feeling it’s going to be a pretty eventful year.

Questions for you:

  1. What’s something good that happened to you this year?
  2. What are you looking forward to in 2017?

*yes, there are 9 reasons. Not 10. Why? Because 9 is a pretty awesome number, because I’m recovering from a sinus infection and that’s all my brain could handle and because I’m joining with the Thinking Out Loud linkup where there are NO RULES except write what’s on your mind!)

Unas Días en la Ciudad de México – A few days in Mexico City (Parte Dos)

This is part two from my first post about our recent Mexico City vacation. I know I suggested that this would be done Tuesday, but between getting home late from the airport and starting to catch up on work – it didn’t happen! AND as you know, there was just too much info to include in one blog post! Part one: here—aquí.

Other trip highlights:

Walking everywhere (and a run!)

B and I stayed in La Zona la Condesa, a really cute neighborhood just a few miles from the main downtown and historic areas. Our neighborhood had a lot of coffee shops, mezcalerias and restaurants for us to choose from. AND plenty of large parques and green spaces where people were walking, running and just relaxing with their families and dogs. B and I walked everywhere the first few days before we figured out how easy their subway system is and the first full day alone I got 34,000+ steps (that’s without a run). Also, there are rental bikes everywhere (like in most cities) where you can rent a bike from one destination and drop it off at another for really cheap. I don’t ride a bike, but they have bike lanes and we saw plenty of people riding along the city streets.

love the parks!

love the parks!

walking around downtown

walking around downtown

walking around the old part of town

walking around the old part of town

beautiful architecture

beautiful architecture

love the way these houses look

love the way these houses look

B and I finally got out for a run through our neighborhood and the park areas on my birthday. We had been in town for nearly a week but the high altitude was still killing me – I was burnt after nearly 3.5 miles! Still, I enjoyed it – running in short sleeves and sunshine in January isn’t something I get to do often 🙂

during our run - downtown in the distance

during our run – downtown in the distance

Lucha Libre

I’m not going to lie – I was a little skeptical at first about going to see the luchadores. I’ve never been a boxing or wrestling or fighting fan – but when in Rome Mexico … the event was so much fun! People (especially kids) get all dressed up in the máscaras de luchadores (masks of their favorite fighters) and watch fight after fight after fight in a crowded arena. I didn’t quite understand what was going on in each fight, but I do know that it was quite the experience I won’t soon forget. (if you’re going to Mexico, you can buy tickets when you get there pretty easily. Or, if you want to buy them in advance, ticketmaster sells international tickets and you can buy them from the U.S.)

before the fight, vendors sell masks, snacks, shirts, etc.

before the fight, vendors sell masks, snacks, shirts, etc.

some of one of the fights

some of one of the fights

B (in his mask) and me at the fights

B (in his mask) and me at the fights

The old pyramids of Teotihuacan

This was one of the favorite things we did on our entire trip. B had arranged for a private tour of Teotihuacan, an old city with pyramids from before the Mayans and Aztecs arrived in Mexico.

teo2

The ruins are amazing. During the tour, we were able to see the old huge pyramids, some old paintings and other areas of the old city. We even climbed the Moon and Sun Pyramids, which was a lot of fun. I was a little nervous about being out of breath climbing all the stairs in such high altitude, but we made it and in not that bad shape. I guess the running helps 🙂 (if you’re going to Mexico – we used this tour service: ToursByLocals.com).

on the steps

on the steps

in front of the sun pyramid - we climbed to the top!

in front of the sun pyramid – we climbed to the top!

All in all it was an amazing trip. Mexico City is a great tourist destination and I would definitely recommend you add it to your travel bucket list. Here’s why:

  • B and I felt pretty safe the entire time (it’s like any major city – I’m sure there are worse parts, but we stuck to areas we felt safe in), and it was easy to get around in – we walked a ton and even took the Metro (they also have Uber if you’re taxi or train-averse). Just be smart and aware.
  • Once we were there, things were very affordable (even our nicest dinner out for my birthday at a nice restaurant was more affordable than a nice dinner out in Cleveland … and museum admission was all under $10).
  • It was not a huge tourist (at least tourists outside Mexico) destination. Which means that things weren’t tooooo crowded (Teotihuacan during the week was nearly empty – you can see from our photos we had no lines!) and you didn’t feel like you were an outsider invading their space (as you often feel in touristy areas); instead, you felt like you were sharing it. It was great to practice our Spanish, see the sites and go somewhere that wasn’t too touristy but still had a ton to do.
  • All of the above! The food, the museums, the churches, the history – unless you’re only looking for a place with tropical beaches (sorry, Mexico City is too far inland), Mexico City really does have it all.

Some questions for you:

  • Have you been to Mexico? Where?
  • What type of things do you look for when planning a vacation?
  • What’s next on your travel bucket list? Have I convinced you to add Mexico City?

Unas Días en la Ciudad de México (A few days in Mexico City)

I know I’ve been somewhat incommunicado the past few days, but if you follow me on Instagram (@koskim), you probably noticed that B and I are on a fabulous vacation to Mexico City.  It had been a year since we’d been abroad (see: trip to Asia posts), and the vacation was definitely needed. It was (semi) warm (60-70 degrees as opposed to the Cleveland winter), and we got to enjoy some great food, culture, lots of walking and practicing our Spanish.

Have you ever been to Mexico City? It was our first time, and there was SO much to do. I’d definitely recommend the city if you’re looking for a fun getaway. I didn’t know what to expect, but overall the city had much MORE than I expected – more walking-friendly and safe areas, more clean streets, more parks, more fun restaurants and really just had more to offer.

Some highlights from our trip – I’ve put this in two blog posts because there’s just too much to include in one. Pardon the Spanglish – Here’s Parte Uno:

All of the food

I’ll do a whole What I Ate Wednesday post on the food from our trip, but overall everything was tan rico. Neither B nor I got sick from the food (yay! Let’s just say that B got sick twice in Asia so I was hoping for the best but prepared for the not-so-good) and we enjoyed some great tacos al pastor and other tacos, seafood, guacamole (even with grasshoppers!), roasted cactus, tons of meat and cheese and even some fruit.

enchiladas

enchiladas

tacos al pastor - featuring this amazing meat

tacos al pastor – featuring this amazing meat on a stick

said tacos al pastor

said al pastor meat

flan imposible

flan imposible

torta! (great sandwiches)

torta! (great sandwiches)

Cooking class

Speaking of food, B surprised me with a Mexican cooking class for my birthday. It was increíble! We started out with a local market tour (and of course we got some stuff to take home with us, along with some fresh fruit, ice cream, cheese and coffee to enjoy during the tour), and ended up with a multi-course cooking experience at the instructors homes. If you’re ever in Mexico City and have a day to spare, I highly recommend the course. The instructors, Jorge and Beto, were perfecto – friendly, knowledgeable and welcoming us in their home. They shared with us some family recipes as well as some tips on what to do during the rest of our time in their city.

beautiful setup for course

beautiful setup for course

learning how to roll our tamales

learning how to roll our tamales

B and me at the table

B and me at the table

And of course – la comida. Also great. We made chalupas, guacamole (with roasted grasshoppers), tamales, salsas, tacos al pastor de pescado (fish tacos al pastor style) and even enjoyed some wine and a local mescal tasting. (if you’re going to Mexico, I highly recommend you book this class – Casa Jacaranda)

Museums, art and churches

Mexico City and the surrounding areas are known for their great culture – both history and art scene. We didn’t have enough time to take it all in sadly, but we did enjoy our visits to the Anthropology Museum, Frida Kahlo home and museum, National Palace and a few other museums and cathedrals in the old part of downtown and beyond.

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Diego Rivera mural

loved the Frida Kahlo museum.

loved the Frida Kahlo museum.

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So many old churches!

So many old churches!

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Stay tuned for Parte Dos (hopefully tomorrow) AND have a great week! I’m linking up with Erin for my weekend snapshot post, Katie for MIMM and as usual, the weekly wraps.

A few days in Newport

B and I just got back from a few days in Newport! After Christmas, B had planned a short trip for us to spend some time on a trip to Newport, Rhode Island. It was a perfect few days to relax, site-see, get in some good food (hooray for fresh seafood!) and a ton of walking.

Newport is a really really cute seaside town with some cute shops, historic spots and a lot to do within walking distance. B and I arrived on the 26th, parked our car, and didn’t get back in it until we left a few days later – it was so great to walk everywhere!

Some of the things we did in Newport included:

 

Going for a run. Of course. We got in a 5.5 mile run around the downtown and surrounding areas the first day when it was 50 degrees. We took in the Cliff Walk and some of the historic houses along the way.

running selfie

Tasting all the seafood and chowders possible. Rhode Island clam chowder has a clear broth – which I prefer – but of course I had to sample that and some oyster chowder. And crab. And this seafood stew with garlic bread.

seafood stew crab and oyster chowder

Taking in the oldest pub in the U.S. – the White Horse Tavern! We stopped there for drinks and snacks one afternoon.

white horse tavern

Enjoying the nautical scenery. Our hotel room had a deck that overlooked the water.

boat

view from hotel balcony

view from hotel balcony

And we checked out the Cliff Walk, which had great views of the ocean.

ocean-viewfromhotel

Viewing some amazing old mansions. In one day, we visited Marble House, The Breakers and Rosecliff. They were all incredible – huge, and some preserved so that we could get a sense of what they looked like in the 1900s. AND since it was the holiday season, the houses were decorated with amazing holiday décor. Marble House had a different decorated Christmas tree in nearly every room (and there were a lot of rooms!)!

breakers selfie marble house inside marble house melissa and breakers brian and the breakers rosecliff selfie

Walking around downtown, checking out local places to eat and of course grab coffee and tea.

walking around historic newport

It was a great trip – a wonderful way to spend a few days after the holidays with B and me before back to reality. It’s hard to believe that last year at this time we were in Hong Kong, just starting our Asian vacation!

Some questions for you:

  • Have you ever been to Newport?
  • How do you like your clam chowder – Manhattan style, New England or Rhode Island? (or do you not know the difference:))

WIAW #36 – A Few Days (and Meals) in New Orleans

Warning: This will be a slightly different-than-typical WIAW. How so? My typical WIAW posts involve me showing you a snapshot of a day in my life. It’s typically a work day and I share with you my breakfast (usually egg whites and some veggies), lunch and dinner. Today, instead, I bring you a few random meals from my past few days in New Orleans! I neglected to take photos of every single meal, but you can see here the photos of a few meals I enjoyed on my girls weekend and trip to the Big Easy (full post here)!

This was one of my dinners – blackened fish on top of a potato cake. It came served with a “corn salad” – I guess the few kernels on top count, right?

 

fish on potato cake

While in New Orleans, I of course had to have a cup of seafood gumbo and a po boy. So here you go – one day’s lunch:

crawfish po boy and gumbo

I didn’t get a picture of my meal at Shaya, but the food was amazing. So you can instead see Melgar and Alisa and their food – a chicken schnitzel sandwich and a falafel sandwich:

shaya food

Drinks at Shaya. Cheers to 17 years of friendship!drinks at shaya

Dessert one night – pecan pie, topped with ice cream AND a praline. Oh my goodness. So so sweet!pecan pie and wine

The combination platter at the Gumbo Shop. It was red beans and rice and jambalaya.

creole platter

Beignets and coffee at Cafe Du Monde. I went there three times on my visit!cafe dumond2

AND – not quite as pretty, but here was one of my airport meals. I settled with Au Bon Pain and got their southwest chicken salad and fruit cup. Ahh, airport food.

aubonpain airport

And that’s a wrap! Some things enjoyed in New Orleans that didn’t get photographed include a Hurricane a Hand Grenade and other super wayyy-too-sweet drinks that you can walk outside with, pralines, pecan brittle, a fattoush salad and more.

Some questions for you:

  • Have you been to New Orleans? What type of food did you enjoy?
  • When you travel by air, do you have a go-to restaurant/meal that you always have?
  • Do you have a favorite creole or cajun dish?