3 Years of I Do

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Dear Ryan,

Three years ago we promised our lives to each other. We had only been dating a year and a half, yet we know that we wanted to share our future. They say marriage is one of the biggest risks you can take, but I had never been more sure of anything in my life. 

This past year has been one of major growth for our marriage. Having a baby together will do that.

Those same people that say marriage is a huge risk also say that you need to work on your marriage after a baby enters the picture. Once again, I disagree. 

Raising a baby together has only strengthened that promise we made to each other three years ago.

This past year you witnessed me at my very lowest points and decided to only love me more. The immense support you showed me during my pregnancy and as I transitioned into a mother made my love for you grow daily. I would have been so lost without you by my side, encouraging me, laughing with me, and learning with me.  You are the best father to Wyatt. There is no one else I’d want to (or could do) parenthood or life with. 

Although this has been a year of many ups and downs, our marriage has benefited by growing stronger and I’m so excited for what comes next. 

Thank you for all that you do every single day to make this marriage work. Thank you for waking up with me each morning and deciding to say “I do”, no matter what the future holds. 

Love you always,

Katie

Anniversary Trip to the Finger Lakes

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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.

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 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! 

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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!

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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!

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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.

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(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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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(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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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 Gew├╝rztraminer out on the sunny deck. Again, we had the place to ourselves. 

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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:

Wineries

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

One-Year Anniversary Gifts – Paper

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On June 2, my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Since I’ve decided to take the slow and easy approach to blogging this summer, I haven’t gotten around to recapping our Anniversary celebration in the Finger Lakes – that day shall come, but today I’m sharing our one-year wedding anniversary gifts!

Our way of celebrating was to take a long weekend to the Finger Lakes, aka wine country in NY. The trip was our main “gift” and way of honoring our anniversary and celebrating our love. However, we still wanted to commemorate with small gifts to each other as well. We decided that we will gift each other small anniversary gifts each year and following the traditional gift rules.

According to tradition, the first year wedding anniversary gift is to be made of paper. (You can view the traditional gifts for years 1-100 here).

We also gave each other a $50.00 budget max. 

I began thinking about what paper gift to give Ryan a few months ago. Tickets to an event? A nice framed photo of us? Restaurant gift certificate? I had already done the journal for our wedding. I wanted it to be heartfelt, sentimental, have meaning to both of us and also be of some use. Once I figured out the perfect gift, I simply couldn’t wait for Ryan to open it. It was going to be perfect for him. 

When it comes to opening gifts, Ryan has the patience of a 5-year old at Christmas. As we were packing up the car for our roadtrip he kept begging to open his gift now. He couldn’t wait.  Meanwhile I was anxious that my gift was not going to stand up next to his. He had told my best friend what he got me and she kept telling me it was “SO perfect!”. 

But wait we did. We opened our gifts on the eve of our anniversary, sitting on our deck overlooking the lake while sipping local wine. As soon as Ryan opened my gift he started laughing and said, “I can’t believe this! Open mine! Now!'”

If we need any other evidence that we are perfect for each other, the fact that our handmade paper gift were basically the same says it all. 

We both gifted each other artwork that incorporated the song lyrics of our first dance song, Michael Buble’s “Everything”.

Ryan contacted an Etsy shop and had this adorable print customized for me. The tree is made out of paper with the song lyrics printed on it. It was simply perfect! 

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For my gift to Ryan, I designed a large canvas with an excerpt of the song lyrics printed on it. We’ve been discussing a new gallery wall to go above our bed and I designed this with that wall in mind. 

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Great hearts love alike!!! 

What did you give for your first year anniversary? Do you follow the traditional rules?

xoxo Katie
 

 

Marriage is Like a Seesaw

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This coming Monday, Ryan and I will be celebrating our first wedding anniversary. To celebarte we’re taking a long weekend up in the beautiful Finger Lakes. This will be our second trip to the region this year and I can’t wait to relax by the water, drink wine, and reflect on this past year. And boy what a year. Somedays it feels like our wedding was just a month ago. Other days it feels like I’ve aged years since I was the anxious June bride.

One year ago I took one of the biggest risks of my life. I committed myself to my best friend and to love him unconditionally for the rest of my life.

No doubt love is a beautiful thing. Falling in love is the easy part. The part that is magical and makes your life feel like a fairy tale. Staying in love is a choice. Don’t hate me, but I don’t believe in soul mates or love at first sight. I think love is a decision, a constant piece of work and intent action. And sometimes it is hard.

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Of course I am no expert on marriage or love and these are simply my reflections on my relationship.

I love Ryan in a way I never knew I could love someone, and I’m amazed at how much our love can change in just one year. We have fun, we laugh, we smile, and we are certainly silly together. Yet, their are days when I can’t stand him. (as there are days when he can’t stand me either!) Some days he is just the man who leaves the dirty peanut butter knife in the sink and who scrubs the bathrooms spotlessly (never enough thank yous for that one!) There are days when I simply want to be alone. Those days when the idea of talking to anyone else or sharing the couch and bed with someone make me want to runaway. 

Then other days, and these days are far more plentiful, I wake up smiling, happy that I get to live another day as his wife. Beyond grateful that our joys are doubles because they are shared. He is my teammate, my conspirator, my built in best friend. We make each others heartaches endurable, we make fun times more fun, and we make the love we see in the movies seem trivial to what we have.

One of my favorite phrases to think is, “I’ll be right here”. No matter what, ever day, I’ll be right here. Always the number one priority. That is a promise I make. That is a choice I continue to make. 

Over the past year I’ve come to see love and marriage like a seesaw.

Ryan and I chose each other as partners on the seesaw on the playground, we were best friends and could think of anything more fun than sitting facing eachother on the playground, having a blast every day. We each took our designated seats, smiled at each other and thought, “This is going to be fun!” We were both excited for the joy and the thrill the seesaw would bring us as well as the fact that we got to have this fun together. 

Who doesn’t love the seesaw?  You have that butterfly feeling in your stomach as you’re flying up and down and sometimes you get that thrilling bounce, where you’re popped of the seat at the top, when you partner decides to make that day extra fun for you. It’s full of unexpecting surprises. The speed, height, and fun you will have lies in the hands of your partner. You have to trust him to do what is best for you, or simply be content with what he brings to the table. 

Like marriage, both partners have to put in equal work. The seesaw will go nowhere if neither or only one partner is doing all of the pushing. Even on days when you’re tired and just want to play alone, you still must put in the work to make the seesaw work efficiently. And even on those days, I bet you’ll be happy you chose the seesaw over a solo day on the swings. Once you see the smile of your partner as he soars to the top of the seesaw a day spent alone is unimaginable.

It isn’t always thrilling. It’s fa fact that while on a seesaw one partner will always be up while the other is down. Such is life. You can’t be equals 100% of the time. But just when one partner helps the other get up to the top, where the views are splendid and the work is easy that same partner will come down and help the other rise to the same bliss. You work together to acheive a mutual happiness. Giving love is always better than receiving love.   

Currently our seesaw is in pretty good shape, being only a year old and all. As it ages I understand that the highs and lows will only increase. But I truly believe the highs will always outshine the lows. There is nothing that fills my stomach with butterflies than the expectation and hopes of what the future holds for Ryan and me. Yes, marriage and love can be scary but jumping on the seesaw with Ryan is a choice I won’t regret. As my heart grows so does my choice to love him more and more. 

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xoxo Katie