Image

A Lovely Farewell to Summer…

"When summer gathers up her robes of glory and like a dream, glides away" -Susan Whitman

The hazy days of summer are drawing to a close, but before a new routine gets underway, our family was able to squeeze in a final beach trip to Hilton Head Island.
We settled into The Westin for the weekend, which is beautiful and child-friendly boasting four pools and easy beach access.

Eloise and I enjoyed exploring the area during our morning walks, and of course she played hard – swimming and making new friends- until crashing for her afternoon nap.
The highlight of the trip was spending time with our Hilton Head cousins and reliving some childhood memories in Harbour Town where we saw the legendary Gregg Russell perform under the oak tree delighting children and parents just as I remembered (he's currently in his 41st season). Storm clouds rolled in the final afternoon of our stay but cleared off just in time for date night (thanks to our lovely niece for babysitting).


Before heading home, we let Eloise loose on the beach to expend some energy. At 23 months old, she is always in running mode (or flying as she calls it) and doesn't meet a stranger.
Goodbye, beach!

Advertisements
Image

Lovely Little May…

Does the calendar really say June 1? The last month was busy as we celebrated family birthdays, Mother’s Day, the end of Eloise’s first school year and turning 21 months old, a fun beach week, play dates with friends, and Memorial Day weekend to kick off summer. I’m grateful for all of the happy memories we made and excited for the sweet summer ahead!

Beach fun πŸ–:
{Special birthday date at our favorite spot, Chive Blossom}

{Mother’s Day tea β˜•οΈ}

{Celebrating Nonni’s birthday πŸŽ‚}
{Birthday dinner with the sweetest girlfriends at new favorite, 1801 Grille!} 


{Play dates and pool days with good friends πŸ‘­}

{21 months old!}

Memorial Day fun πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ:

Happy summer!

Image

A Lovely Little Lake…

“So lovely was the loneliness of a wild lake” -Edgar Allen Poe

The lovely Lake Oconee was our weekend destination and provided the most peaceful and relaxing setting. It was our first visit to the Ritz Reynolds Plantation, and we quickly embraced its elegant and rustic charm. A luxe lodge nestled on the water about an hour from Augusta, the property is strategically scattered with adirondack chairs, chimeneas, walking paths and twinkle lights to create a restful environment. 

After getting settled into our room, we headed to the lawn to catch the sunset and opening reception for the conference Jody was attending. Dinner on the patio followed where we looked up at the stars while snuggled under fleece blankets, and we ended the evening around the fire pit roasting s’mores.I hit the gym and spa Saturday morning while Jody conferenced, and then we met up to explore the Oconee Trail. By the time we made it back from our walk (six miles later), we were hungry and ready for a lakeside lunch. It was a treat to have an afternoon without any plans, so we meandered from deck chairs to playing ping pong in the “backyard” to a cozy spot in front of the roaring fire in the lobby to read.

​​In fact, cocktail hour lingered a little too long, and we rushed to get ready for dinner and Casino Night. The dealer might have gotten the best of us at the Black Jack table, but I always feel lucky to spend a weekend away with my guy.

Image

A Lovely Little New Year…

“Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and old lang syne?” – Auld Lang Syne, Robert Burns, 1778

Did you sing the classic song above when the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve? According to history, the tradition began in Scotland where people would gather and sing together bidding adieu to the past and ushering in the new year. 

Since our Little Lovely was so young last year Jody and I stayed in and had a quiet New Year’s Eve, barely making it to the ball drop. So this year we were excited to plan a fun little parents’ getaway to Charleston to ring in the New Year.

We feel lucky to live so close to a city  which is consistently listed as one of the best and beautiful in the country. Each time we visit the downtown corridor we notice more change and development. While we have our favorite go-to hotels and restaurants, this quick trip was the perfect chance to try something new.

Our first stop was checking into The Dewberry, the newly opened hotel on Marion Square located in the renovated and repurposed L. Mendel Rivers Federal Building. I must admit that I have probably driven by this building many times before and never noticed it. It’s been transformed into a stylish, mid-century modern showpiece with immaculate attention to detail. Marble was found to match the building’s marker and lighting and fixtures were chosen to accentuate the 1960s vibe while offering a modern twist.  Our room was well appointed with a nice view of Marion Square, and I was impressed with how quiet it was considering our location. 

Another interesting feature in the lobby is Garden and Gun Magazine’s first Field Shop offering a variety of curated, southern goods for purchase. The perfect spot to browse or grab a souvenir. After an early check-in, we set out for some shopping on King Street and took our time meandering through shops. We made our way to The Thoroughbred Club inside of The Charleston Place for an afternoon cocktail- it was National Champagne Day after all.  A little rest and then time to get ready for our New Year’s Eve dinner at Chez Nous, an intimate and authentic French restaurant nestled in a charming house so you feel as if you are a guest. Charleston’s restaurant scene is booming, and Chez Nous has been on our list for a while to try, however; they just recently began taking reservations. The New Year’s eve menu was Prix Fixe and included some decadent and classic dishes.   The night was still young, so we ventured to The Belmont, a chic watering hole creating innovative and classic cocktails on Upper King, for a drink before returning to our hotel that was hosting a party for guests.   A big band crooned standards as we danced and counted down to midnight, and as a surprising treat, Charleston local, Darius Rucker, took the microphone right before midnight to serenade the crowd.  

 A memorable night to be sure.  Wishing you a healthy and happy new year! 

img_6793-40

Image

A Lovely Fall Beach Weekend…

Tangled 

We return to hear the waves rolling onto the beach one after another connecting us like blood.

We were listening long before we came here, remembering wind spinning salt through  interrupted sunlight.

This is a place where dreams return like fish tangled in seaweed. 

Whatever sorrows come are folded into the sea, rinsed clean and kept- unbearable secrets.

-Marjory Heath Wentworth, SC Poet Laureate 

Fall at the beach is a special time. The crowds have disappeared, the weather is cool, but the sun is warm enough for long walks. After a busy few weeks, it was nice to slow down and relax at Litchfield Beach for the weekend.Waking up to this beautiful sunrise we bundled up Little Lovely and headed out for a brisk beach walk.    The wind was whipping so we moved inland to escape the chill.

Our plan for the morning was to visit Brookgreen Gardens, an expansive sculpture garden and natural preserve celebrating its 85th anniversary. Founded in 1931 by Archer and Anna Huntington Brookgreen has become a cultural center featuring the largest and most comprehensive collection of figurative sculpture in the country. The oppressive heat usually deters us from visiting during our summer beach week, but a lovely fall day was perfect for meandering through the grounds. Brookgreen will soon begin its Night of a Thousand Candles when the live oaks are strewn with twinkling lights and handlit candles shimmer nightly throughout the holiday season.    We also visited the zoo on site, and Eloise enjoyed seeing the animals from her cute stroller.   We were all ready for a rest and with renewed energy we played on the beach in the afternoon sun. Little Lovely is certainly a beach baby and had so much fun running around and picking up seashells.          Our day at the beach ended with a delicious dinner at local favorite, Frank’s Outback, which is especially cozy in the fall with fire pits and heaters providing warmth while you dine alfresco.  A relaxing weekend away – hope yours was too!

img_6793-39
 

Image

A Lovely First Family Trip to Disney…

“When you wish upon a star; makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires comes to you.” – Jiminy Cricket, Disney’s Pinocchio

The pixie dust of Disney is still in the air as we make our way home from the happiest place on Earth. Little Lovely and I were lucky to tag along with Jody to a conference in Walt Disney World this week. I don’t know who was more excited- Eloise or me- as a child, my family visited Disney annually and made so many wonderful memories together. 

In fact, we usually stayed at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, so it was an added treat that Jody’s meeting was held there.   

 I was a little nervous about the drive to Orlando as it would be the longest car trip yet for Eloise, but with the help of snacks and Peppa Pig we made it.{The clear iPad case straps to the back of the seat and is made by Mud Pie.}

After checking in, we explored the hotel grounds and grabbed dinner for Eloise by the pool since Jody and I were going out.           We had scheduled a sitter from Kids Nite Out to come to stay with Eloise in the room, and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the service and care. With baby in good hands, Jody and I enjoyed a night out at Il Mulino at the Swan Hotel and early celebration of our ninth wedding anniversary which was the following day.While Jody conferenced the next morning Little Lovely and I had reservations at The Cape May Cafe for Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast. Eloise feasted on Mickey waffles and only paused to meet Donald Duck, Goofy and of course Minnie.    Jody was able to break away and surprised us for a quick visit.To burn off some of the buffet Eloise and I strolled around the boardwalk and played on the lawn.   A quick change into our swimsuits, and we were ready to play in the pool, which is definitely a highlight of the Yacht and Beach Club. {Minnie Mouse glasses are a must! πŸ•Ά}   Eloise especially enjoyed digging in the sandy beach area and doing the “hot dog” dance during the Disney Jr. Pool Party. It was back to the room to nap before setting out for Epcot Center.

Currently, Epcot is hosting its International Wine and Food Festival and gourmet food kiosks are sprinkled throughout the World Showcase adding another fun element to the park. We enjoyed strolling leisurely through the different countries and taking in the sights and sounds.          

 Jody showed Eloise his German homeland, and she got her first Steiff bear from its charming toy shop featuring German made, classic toys. Norway was also a special spot since my family loved the former troll attraction there which now has a Frozen theme. We snapped a photo with the big troll and a few small ones might have hopped in our bag…In Italy, we had a brief break so Eloise could try her first Mickey Mouse ear ice cream – she’s a fan!    

Before moving on, we tossed three coins into the Trevi Fountain and explored the Spanish Steps.   We had an early dinner reservation in France at Chefs de France, an authentic brasserie serving traditional dishes. It was a fitting spot to dine on our anniversary since Jody and I were engaged in Paris more than nine years ago.  {Eloise says her meal was tres bien!}

I couldn’t have asked for a better anniversary with my two loves. And to cap off a fabulous day we discovered that we could watch the Epcot fireworks from our balcony! 

 A good night’s rest prepared us for our full day in Magic Kingdom. I called ahead to have room service for breakfast so we could hop on the first bus to the park.   

 
We arrived just as the gates opened and were immediately impressed with the holiday decor and music- Disney is definitely in the spirit already!      Our first stop was Chapeau on Main Street where we purchased Eloise’s first pair of mouse ears.We made our way to Cinderella’s Castle and tried our best to get a smile from Eloise.    Although she’s only 14 months old, Little Lovely was able to ride many of the attractions in Fantasy Land. Her favorites were Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo and It’s a Small World. I had booked three Fast Passes in advance, which was a big help in avoiding lines.      

  {Disney thinks of everything- a goodbye greeting with our names!}

  Luckily, the wait for The Teacups was fairly short, so we twirled around and got even luckier to meet Alice as we exited the ride. It was sweet seeing how much time she took with each child.{Eloise showing Alice her “white rabbit.”}  

A newer area of the park is dedicated to my favorite Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast, and features Gaston’s Tavern as well as the famous fountain where Belle sings her opening number.    We were getting to the part of the day I was dreading most, fitting in a nap. Thankfully, we found a shady spot to park the stroller (next to phone charging stations disguised in tree trunks- so clever). We all recharged and got up just in time to see the Country Bear Jamboree- Eloise loved the music! 

It was then time to use our last Fast Pass for Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. Cooling off with a smoothie we decided to head back to the castle for a show.  Our little princess was happy to get out of the stroller to stretch her legs, but she didn’t understand why she couldn’t go past the roped off area- I mean, she should live in a castle!   

 All day Eloise had been eyeing the large balloons, so we treated to one of her very own!    Such a magical day and only made better by a delicious dinner at the newly renovated Flying Fish on Disney’s Boardwalk.  

   On our way back to the hotel, we caught a magic show on the boardwalk.  

 Fireworks lit up the sky as we strolled home.This morning we said our goodbyes to Minnie and the gang at a final breakfast.It couldn’t have been a more perfect first family trip to Disney, and we are already planning our next visit!  Until next time!

img_6793-43

Image

A Lovely Little Labor Day…

Labor Day traditionally marks the end of the lazy days of summer, so our family headed for the coast to spend a final beach weekend soaking in the sun, sand, and surf. Luckily, Hurricane Hermine blew through before the weekend began and left behind some amazing, cooler weather and azure blue skies.

Usually we are in a rush to get to the beach, but this trip we took our time and stopped for lunch in Historic Georgetown.
A bit of a well-kept secret, this charming city is dripping with picturesque homes, quaint restaurants and shops as well as rich history. My mother has always been fond of Georgetown and was sure to include a stop on our family beach visits, so I’m very familiar with the iconic Rice Museum on Front Street, fresh vegetable plates at Thomas’s Cafe and eerie ghost tours explaining about the town’s notorious haunts.  We enjoyed the gorgeous weather with an outdoor lunch at Alfresco Georgetown Bistro, which was quite accommodating to Little Lovely, and then strolled along the waterfront.Our destination for the weekend was Debordieu where we joined a few other families- 6 babies and one on the way- for some beach fun.    Eloise had a ball splashing in the water and digging in the sand, and mommy and daddy enjoyed taking in the beautiful view from the porch while she napped.  It was wonderful watching all of the children play together and having some adult conversation too. Happy Labor Day! 

 

img_6793-43