Vacation Time!


We are headed to North Topsail, North Carolina for a week long beach vacation. My entire family is sharing a house on the beach (Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister-in-law, Pop-Pop, Ryan, and myself)!

I’ve been counting down to this vacation since the winter. Although I’m not looking forward to the 9+ hour drive while 33-34 weeks pregnant, I can’t wait to arrive, kick up my legs, and do nothing but sit on the beach and read, eat, and sleep all week.

This week will be a great time to celebrate Ryan being officially done with school and exams forever. It will also be our last vacation as a childless couple, our family’s version of a “Babymoon”. I can’t wait to just hang and relax with some of my favorite people all week. 

As I’m typing this I have yet to pack. Oh, and we’re also bringing the car seat and the hospital bag “just in case”. Yep, we’re crazy worriers. But bringing it is mostly insurance that we WON’T need it, right?!

I’ll be taking the week off blogging but you can always catch up with my on Instagram!



Weekend Getaway in Luray, VA


For Christmas this year, I gifted Ryan a weekend away in the Shenandoah Valley. A pleasant 3.5 hour drive to Luray provided us with a getaway from everyday life and a chance to rest, relax, and reflect before he starts his last semester of school and before we must battle another winter.

I booked this awesome cabin through AirBnB. I mean check at this view from the house! We could never get enough of this view of the Shenandoah Valley and River.

However, when I think of cabin, I think of rustic, small and cold. This was more of a house, complete with a huge fireplace, lots of cozy places to take in the view, Netflix, wifi, and Apple Tv. It was the perfect house to cozy up for the weekend, with little plans other than to relax, read, cook, and watch some movies. 

We grabbed a delicious lunch at Gathering Grounds in the sleepy little valley town of Luray before driving up 2,200 ft to our home for the weekend. Ryan got to work making a fire and we changed into PJ’s and hibernated for the rest of the evening. The house had three huge bay windows overlooking the view that allowed us to enjoy the scenery despite the chilly temps. I made my favorite Martha’s Stewart Mac and Cheese. Comfort food at it’s best. 

I loved walking out on the deck at night and gazing up at the stars. It felt like we were in them, so close and so bright.

Our host said that watching the sunrise was the best element of the house. So each morning I set my alarm and wearily crawled out of bed expecting to see a breathtaking view. Yet each morning it was the same. We were greeted with a sky full of dark clouds and nothing else. So back to bed we went.

On Sunday morning we decided to venture out and tour one of the local Caverns. I’ll be recapping that experience next week!

After our caverns tour we hit up a small pub with a great happy hour before retreating back to the house for another night in front of the fire.

On Monday we slept in and leisurely spent the morning sipping coffee and reading before our noon check out time.

After another great lunch at Gathering Grounds, We took Sky Line drive home in the Shenandoah National Park where we drove along the tips of the Blue Ridge mountains and were able to take in amazing views from all directions.


A “Beautiful” Weekend in NYC

This past weekend my mom, our friend Delmy, and myself spent the weekend in NYC to see Beautiful, The Carole King Musical

It was a weekend to remember with beautiful autumn weather and an inspiring show. 

We stayed in Delmy’s childhood home on the lower east side with her family and it was so fun to see the city through a native New Yorker’s eyes. Every other time I visit NY I go back to Jersey or PA at night, so this was my first actually spending the whole weekend in the city.

We kicked off the weekend shopping in SOHO, window shopping and people watching. We enjoyed a quick lunch at the new Maman, a cute French inspired cafe. 

After shopping a bit we headed up to Central Park and enjoyed the gorgeous weather.

We then grabbed a drink at the Boathouse. It was crowded with everyone enjoying the warmer than usual temps, but well worth it.

We then had an early pre show dinner at Isabella’s before hopping in a cab down to the theatre district. While sitting in heavy traffic on 5th Ave we glanced over and saw Geraldo Rivera sitting in traffic next to us in his Bently.

We snapped a few pictures and when the cab driver got a hint at our excitement he tooted his horn and Geraldo looked over at us. Oh heeeyyy!

Once we arrived at the Stephen Sondheim theatre we grabbed some pre show drinks across the street and then took the obligatory group shot under the marquee.

So let me tell you a little bit about Beautiful, The Carole King Musical. We’ve been looking forward to this since we got our tickets this summer. It’s a musical about the life of composer and lyricist and singer. Carole King music filled my childhood. I listen to Tapestry almost weekly. My mom’s favorite song of all time is, “You’ve Got a Friend” she has sung it during any friend or family sentimental moment for as long as I can remember. If I had to pick 5 albums to make up the soundtrack of my life, Tapestry would be in the top 3. 

Seeing this show together was very special.

It was truly amazing. The music and the history of Carole King jumped off the stage and I was entranced. Jessie Mueller, who played Carole King, was awe-inspiring.

I feel repetitive here. But truly, she was out of this world. she took on the role of King perfectly but also added her own style of singing. Can you imagine how hard it must be to play a living legend? She does it effortlessly and I’m so happy I was able to see this show while she was still the star. 

Everytime she played the opening chords to “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” tears fell down my face. Most of the show I had a tightness stuck in my throat, there was so much emotion. I’ll never forget all three of us holding hands and crying during “You’ve Got A Friend”. 

There are few places that I’m as happy as I am while watching live theatre. Especially musicals.

We excited the show feeling high and full of energy. While waiting around outside sharing the happiness with strangers, we spotted Michael Bolton exiting the theatre! Weekend of random celebrity spottings. (We also heard that Martha Stewart was at the show but did not see her)

Like true fans we waited by the stage door for 45 minutes hoping to meet Jessie Mueller. At first there were around 50 other people waiting with us. As time went by the crowd of 50 dwindled down to 15, then 10 and then there were only the three of us and three others. A misfit band of groupies.

Yet, we waited. The male lead who played Gerry Goffin came out and we got his autograph and picture. When it was 11:45 we decided we best get on home. Jessie Mueller was probably down there carving pumpkins with Martha Stewart…oh well we tried.

After a good night’s sleep we got up and enjoyed a filling brunch at Cafe Petisco (great french toast) and walked around. Sunday was a brisk and windy day yet we decided to take a Circle Line cruise around the island. It’s a great way to see Manhattan. 

Circle Line does a variety of tours on nice large boats with good history and up to date information. I’ve done other NYC cruise tours before but highly recommend the Circle Line company.

The cruise was nice until it started to get cloudier and colder. By the end I could barely feel my fingertips. Here is Delmy re enacting coming to America…bundled up like an anxious yet excited immigrant.

New York, there’s just something about you. Until we meet again.


Jamaica Part 2, a day in the life

Take me back!

Earlier this week I shared Part 1 of our Jamaican vacation recap. Today I’m going to be sharing the last of our photos. My entire family spent a week at Secrets Saint James in Montego Bay

A week later, I still feel energized from the trip. I think these vacations should be mandatory every 6 months. What do you think?

Our family always takes a yearly summer vacation, usually to a beach house in North Carolina. My brother and his wife live in North Carolina, and sadly we usually only see each other twice a year, once on our beach vacation and once at Christmas. 

Our vacations are true family vacations. Every one, including Pop-Pop, camp out on the beach for the entire day. We catch up on the past year, tell nostalgic stories, swim and play on the beach, read and take naps, and enjoy a few beach drinks. In the evening we all pitch in to cook dinner and end the night with board games and drinks and laughter. 

Our 89-year-old Pop-Pop wanted to do a big trip with everyone before he got a little too old to fly. After some research we chose Jamaica, an easy flight for him, and booked our trip in the dark of winter. 

We were a little nervous that Pop-Pop would miss the routine and familiarity of a beach house. He’s legally blind and was very nervous about not knowing the grounds of the resort, not knowing what he will eat, or if we will all be off doing our separate things.

After a few days, and after a couple of beach vodka tonics, Pop-Pop was sitting in the pool and exclaiming that this place was “beautiful” and he would love to come back. We were doing all the same things we’d do on a beach vacation, but in a much prettier environment with absolutely no worries. No need to run out to the grocery store for the third time that week. No need to cook or clean up. Pop-Pop didn’t have to make his own morning bloody mary or “flimosa” (what he calls mimosas). 

It was a great family vacation. I’ll walk you through a basic day in my life in Jamaica. Please don’t hate me. Trust me, by the end, it will be hard for you not to book a vacation to Jamaica. 

8:00 a.m.: Wake up with the bright sun shining through our window. Roll over in bed to peer out the window and see the Caribbean Sea

8:30 a.m.: Have a buffet breakfast with the family. Mimosa, coffee, all you can eat omelettes, french toast, or sausages, or whatever your heart desires. I usually stuck to the fresh fruit, yummy croissants, and a variety of cheese. 

9:30 a.m.: Get lathered up in sunscreen and hit the beach. Our family would secure a group of lounge chairs on the beach as our “home base”. 

9:40 a.m.: Hop in the sea to cool off. Admire the clear turquoise water. Check out the fish, one day we saw a sting ray and another day a barracuda!

10: a.m.: Secure a beach drink, I liked the Bob Marley, a frozen layered drink in the Jamaican Flag colors. First layer a strawberry daiquiri, second layer mango daiquiri, top layer a green mango daiquiri.

10:00 – 11:00 a.m. Read and talk on the beach

11:00 a.m.: Hop in the pool to cool off. With another drink of course

11:30 a.m. Take out a kayak or a sail boat, see the resort from the Sea. 

12:30 p.m. Grab lunch at the all you can eat buffet, a seaside restaurant, or a veggie burger at the grill. My favorite was the Jerk Chicken cart. 

1:30 p.m. Head back to the beach for an after lunch nap

2:00 p.m. Hit up the swim up bar, spend the afternoon in the pool, lounging on a raft, chatting and sipping cool drinks. The only way to beat the heat.

4:00 p.m. Head up to the room to shower and take a quick power nap before dinner

6:00 p.m. Meet up in Pop-Pop’s room for a before dinner drink. Walk outside and enjoy the heavenly sunset. 





7:00 p.m. Choose a restaurant to eat. You can choose between Asian, Italian, Mexican, French, Seafood, or Jamaican. 


7:15 – 9:00 p.m.: Have a very leisurely dinner with 3 courses. Service is slow, but hey, you’re on Jamaican time! 


9:30 p.m.: Walk Pop-Pop back to his room. He was falling asleep at dessert and needs his beauty rest.

9:45 p.m. Check out the evening entertainment. One night we watched a guest dance off competition. (think tipsy newlywed men shaking their booties. Hilarity ensued).

Another night we were entertained by a local band with bamboo dancers and a fire breather. Cheesy yes. But also fun.

Another night they recruited volunteers for a newlywed game. Eric and Ryan both wanted us girls to play. Thank goodness our French dinner went late and we missed the sign up time. Questions included, “Who in her family would you wish to just disappear” and “where is the craziest place that you’ve had sex”. Thank goodness we escaped those questions in front of our mom and dad!

Another night we hit up a beach party, where we learned a new line dance on the beach and did some amazing people watching. 

10:30 p.m. We enjoyed joining the sing a long at the Piano Bar. Just don’t request Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”. 


11:30 p.m. After enjoying some cocktails outside, get ready to head into the cheesily named “club” Desires. Us kids enjoyed a night dancing to a good mix of 90’s music and current hip hop. #turneddownforwhat became our to go phrase for the rest of the week. Another night we were entertained by karaoke night.

If the night doesn’t lead you to “Desires” enjoy a romantic night-cap overlooking the sea or take a late night dip in the pool. 

12:30 p.m. Promptly fall asleep, ready to do it all again the next day!

On our last day we made sure to really soak up every minute. We lingered on the beach for as long as possible and then captured our last sunset and minutes of daylight seaside before enjoying a seafood dinner. 





jam89jam96 jam97 jam98

 I’d highly recommend Secrets Saint James to any traveler looking to book either a romantic vacation or a family trip. 

We returned home exhausted but with a refreshed perspective and with a desire to find ways to relax more at home and bring the Jamaican lifestyle into our everyday lives as much as possible. A good reminder before Ryan starts his jam-packed final year of law school. 

xoxo Katie

Jamaica Baby!


Hi, guess what! I’m in Jamaica!

As you read this I should be laying on the beach reading a book and sipping a rum runner while celebrating and relaxing with my family. 

I’m taking this week to unplug and unwind, storing my phone away in the resort safe.

I’ll be back in touch next week!


xoxo Katie



Anniversary Trip to the Finger Lakes

Back in the beginning of June, Ryan and I took a long weekend to the Finger Lakes in NY to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We explored the back country roads, went swimming, did a boat ride, and went to 13 wineries and breweries. Yes, 13! 

You know when you visit a place and it just feels like home? That’s what our trips to the Finger Lakes feel like. It’s peaceful, relaxing, and laid back. Everyone we meet is so welcoming and treats you like family. We love exploring the small old-fashioned feeling towns and of course trying all the different types of wine. One of my favorite things is the fact that it is never crowded. You go to a winery and there are usually only a few other couples there. There’s no traffic and no wait at restaurants. It feels like a private secret escape!

This was our second time visiting the Finger Lakes region (the wine country of New York that is named after the many long and narrow lakes that spread out across the environment like fingers.) There are hundreds of wineries spread across the region, making it the Napa Valley of the East Coast. They are known for their Rieslings and ice wines. 

Last summer we stayed at a bed and breakfast on Canandaigua Lake  that was also a wildlife refuge. We hiked the gorge at Watkins Glen and did the wine trails on Keuka and Canadaigua Lake.

This year we rented a lovely little waterfront cottage on a little Waneta Lake, which is perfectly located between two of the larger lakes, Keuka and Seneca. 

We left eastern PA early Saturday morning and arrived in Hammondsport, NY at lunchtime. We went straight to our favorite place to eat on Keuka Lake – Bully Hill VineyardsThey have a beautiful covered patio overlooking the lake and awesome food. Their wine tastings are also really fun! This is Ryan’s favorite winery.

 After lunch and a wine tasting, we drove down the road to the next winery on our itinerary: Dr. Konstantin FrankHands down the best wine we’ve tasted in the region. Also the best tasting experience. Unlike most vineyards, their tasting is free and they are very knowledgable about the wines and the wine making process. We have nicknamed it Dr. Frankensteins. Beautiful view too! 

Next we hit Ravines Wine Cellars, which was a small yet nice winery.

We wrapped up our afternoon at McGregor Vineyard. This Scottish themed winery was the nicest wine tasting experience we have ever had. They led us into a private room where we got our own cozy table. Instead of speeding us through the tasting, they left us alone after pouring each of our wine selections. We were also treated to a lovely spread of cheese, fruit and bread. We loved it here so much that we stayed and enjoyed a glass of wine and more cheese. This is truly a hidden gem off of Keuka Lake!

After a pleasant experience at McGregor’s we made our way to our cottage. Just a short 8 minute drive later and we arrived. We found this lovely studio cottage on AirBnB for a great deal. The owners live next door and supplied us with a filling breakfast each morning as well as the use of their dock and kayaks. It was perfect. Just look how cute!

After settling in we sat by the water for a bit and enjoyed some wine on our porch. I had the perfect getaway read, “Happy to Be Alive, Because” written by fellow blogger Chelsea at The Girl Who Loved to Write.


(headband by Chelsea as well! Buy your own at Pretty Lovely Littles)

That evening we enjoyed cocktails and appetizers at Snug Harbor and then dinner at Union Block in downtown Hammondsport (voted one of America’s coolest small towns!) After dinner we headed back home to crack open a bottle of wine from McGregor’s. 

Sunday we were greeted with breakfast waiting for us on our front porch. 

After breakfast and a few cups of coffee we took the kayaks out on the lake. Remember when I said the area is so peaceful? Well we had the ENTIRE lake to ourselves. It was so beautiful. We kayaked around for a bit and just spent some time floating out in the middle of the lake. 

Afterwards we showered and headed out to Seneca Lake for the day. First we hit up Glenora Wine Cellars where we did a tasting and purchased a bottle of champagne to drink later that night. We then had lunch down in Watkins Glen at Seneca Harbor StationIt was a little too touristy for my tastes with bland overpriced food, but the view was very nice. We choose to eat there because we had 2 p.m. tickets for a local boat cruise up the lake. 

We were one of 6 passengers on boat tour. It was a short one hour cruise and it was nice to see the biggest Finger Lake (Seneca Lake) from the water. 

(looking at Hector Falls from the water)

After the boat tour we got in a car and got ready to hit the east side of Seneca Lake and do some damage on the wine trail. But first we stopped for some photos at Hector Falls.

We then hit the following wineries:

Atwater Vineyards: Very  good wine, good views, good prices but a little silly about their rules. Unlike every other winery we have been to, they insisted that we couldn’t buy a bottle on site, open it and only drink one glass out of it. They said it was NY state law that we had to finish the whole bottle. That was not the case at any other winery. 

We finished up the afternoon at Wagner Vineyards and Brewerya large winery and brewery with excellent views of the lake. It was a much more relaxed/party environment. Ryan really enjoyed their beer tasting and brought home a make your own six-pack while I scored two bottles of wine. 

As we started the 30 minute trek back to our cottage we decided to forgo our previously scheduled evening plans. We had brought some fancier clothes and planned on a nicer dinner out to celebrate our first anniversary. Instead we decided to make a pit stop at a local grocery store and pick up some appetizers and have dinner out on our dock while we watched the sunset. 

Best decision ever.

We had an amazing night with the best view. We stayed out and chatted under the stars into the night and then headed back to the cottage. 

Monday morning, being our actual anniversary day we had dessert for breakfast! Yes, we froze the top layer of our wedding cake and saved it for this occasion. 

The pink champagne cake still tasted really good! We were dorks and fed each other cake and made our wishes for our second year of marriage. 

After soaking in the last views of our lake. Yes it has now become “our” lake, we packed up and checked out of the cottage and headed back over to the eastern side of Seneca Lake for a day of more wine tasting. 


We hit up:

 Chateau LaFayette Reneau: Excellent wine, a little pricier. Nice customer service and a beautiful location. We had the place to ourselves.

Leidenfrost Vineyards: A German themed winery with a relaxed environment complete with a winery dog!!! We enjoyed a bottle of a good spicy Gewürztraminer out on the sunny deck. Again, we had the place to ourselves. 

Hazlelitt 1852 VineyardsNext we popped into the fun Hazletlitt compound. This place was huge, with a big outdoor concert venue as well. This was the only place we had to wait for a tasting all weekend, not bad though. It has a fun Jimmy Buffett like environment. Cheaper prices for what I’d call “boat wine” or “porch sippin wine”. We picked up some champagne and some “travel” bottles of red. 

At this point we were starving so when we drove past a little farmers market that advertised Cheese Tastings we had to stop. We got to taste over 50 different kinds of cheeses. So , so, so good!

Red Newt This winery and cafe are a little off the beaten path, but so worth it! The wine is a bit pricier, but you can tell. (I swear I’m not a wine snob!). They had some of the best reds. After doing  a tasting we had lunch on their lovely patio. Let me tell you, BEST GRILLED CHEESE I EVER HAD. I could eat it for the rest of my life. 

Two Goats Brewing After lunch we popped into this little brewery. They don’t do tastings but they sell their own beer as well as other varieties. Ryan enjoyed one of their lagers and I enjoyed a hard cider. Fun place!

Finger Lakes Distilling Oddly, we finished our Finger Lakes weekend off at a distillery. Ryan and I (but mostly Ryan) tasted some vodka and whiskey. It was interesting to hear their process and look around the distilling company. 

It was a perfect weekend and on the drive home we started to dream about coming back sometime in fall to see the foliage and be there for the harvest. Truly a romantic escape that is on the cheaper side. I’ve always been dubbed as a beach girl and I’m surprised at how much I have fallen in love with the lakes and the mountains and the serene environment. 

Before our trips I researched for hours regarding which wineries and towns to visit and where to eat and stay. There are literally hundreds of wineries and you only have so much time.

Here is a summary listing of where we went and what we did:


Keuka Lake:

Bully Hill Vineyards (western side)

Dr. Konstantin Frank (western side)

Ravines Wine Cellars (eastern side)

McGregor Vineyard (eastern side)

Seneca Lake:

Glenora Wine Cellars (western side)

Atwater Vineyards (eastern side)

Chateau LaFayette Reneau (eastern side)

Wagner Vineyards and Brewery (eastern side)

Leidenfrost Vineyards (eastern side)

Hazlelitt 1852 Vineyards (eastern side)

Red Newt (eastern side)

Two Goats Brewing (eastern side)

Finger Lakes Distilling (eastern side)

Where We Ate:

Bully Hill Vineyards (Hammondsport, Keuka Lake)

Snug Harbor (Hammondsport, Keuka Lake)

Union Block Italian Bistro (Hammondsport, Keuka Lake)

 Seneca Harbor Station (Watkins Glen, Seneca Lake)

Red Newt (Hector, Seneca Lake)

xoxo Katie

Top 10 Attractions in Annapolis, MD


Annapolis, MD, the sailing capital of the world, is one of my favorite cities and top five east destinations. I lived here for 4 years in my twenties and go back to visit a couple of times a year. Maryland’s State Capital is full of history, charm, and beautiful waterfront views.

Situated on the Chesapeake Bay and at the mouth of the Severn River, Annapolis is a mecca for waterfront activities. It is also ideally located 25 miles south of Baltimore and 30 miles North of Washington DC. It’s a walkable small city with an eclectic mix of traditional seafood restaurants (crab cakes anyone?!) and new fusion eateries. Nautical prep your thing? Then you’ll love all the shops and boutiques. Love history? The historic district is a goldmine of colonial architecture, historical buildings, and history tour.  Annapolis is a perfect fit for both young people and families. There’s enough of a night life to satisfy the younger crowd and accommodating activities for those with kids or older family members.

I pulled together a list of my top ten favorite attractions in Annapolis:


(please note this is for the historic downtown area – there is much more to do outside the historic area and in the surrounding region. All of these spots are in walking distance from each other)

1. Tour the State House

maryland state house

The Maryland State house (1779) is the oldest state house that has been in continuous use and was the site of many important events during the Revolutionary War including George Washington’s resignation as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from the army, and the ratification of the Treaty of Paris.

2. Mexican Cafe

mexican cafe annapolis md

I know, odd that a Mexican Restaurant is my number 2 but believe me, go! Low key, budget friendly, great vegetarian options, and the best margaritas you will ever have.

3. Pusser’s

pussers annapolis md

Come for their famous Painkiller’s – the perfect water front drink. Stay for the Caribbean food, nautical history and the laid back atmosphere. The only true “dock bar” in town.

4. Go on a Guided Historic Tour

photo courtesy of Annapolis Tours

The best way to learn all the fun facts about this old town is to take a guided walking tour. Various ones are offered, including ghost tours!

5. Joss Sushi

joss sushi

The best sushi in town. Charming atmosphere and great service.

6. Tour the Naval Academy

navy academy chapel

Very interesting for even non military buffs! Highlights include the USNA Chapel and John Paul Jones gravesite.

7. Chart House

annapolis water view

Yes, it’s a chain, but the views from this location are fabulous. Yes, the food is pricey, but the best seats are in the cozy bar with wall to wall windows. Stop in for an appetizer and a cocktail. Located across the waterfront in Eastport, it’s a nice walk across the bridge.

8. Red Red Wine Bar

Great selection of wine and beer, delectable cocktails, talented bar tenders and a chic setting.

9. Harry Brownes

A classy art deco themed restaurant and bar. Great Sunday brunch!

10. See Annapolis by water! Take a boat tour!

Annapolis boat ride

You are in the sailing capital of the world – get out on the water!

Have you been? What are your favorites?

If you have any questions, just comment below!

xoxo Katie