Friday, December 31, 2010

And We're Back

We had a fantastic Christmas back home in Arkansas, it just ended up being a few more days than planned since NY got 20" of snow and all of the airports closed! We were able to make it back late last night after our original flight back earlier in the week was cancelled. We got lucky and got stuck in Little Rock and not some connecting city. We also had all of our bags when we got home which was not the case for lots of people judging by the sea of luggage at the Newark airport last night!
Poor Rosie had to be boarded for a lot longer than I would have liked. She's completely exhausted and has slept non stop since she got home, fingers crossed that she won't get sick again like last time (I'm convinced she picked up the bug while she was boarded at Thanksgiving).

Here's a couple of pictures from the walk home after picking Rosie up. 
She sooo wants to play in the snow! Here are a couple more random images.
The tree at my mom's Christmas morning, yes that's like a ten foot tree. She actually thought John could just reach up and put the angel up when we first got there. I think she underestimated how tall it actually was :) 
John likes to play with sweet baby Austin, doesn't he look so cute! 
Clearly we had fun back home :) We got to see lots of family and friends but no matter how long the trip is it seems like we never fit everyone in. I just haven't quite figured out how to get the scheduling down, I'm definitely working on it though!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Cards

I meant to post this weeks ago but like every year I procrastinate with my Christmas cards. There have been plenty of years they ended up being "happy holiday" cards because I sent them after Christmas.

A few weeks ago I saw that Shutterfly was offering free cards if you posted on your blog and I thought that would be great to share with everyone but here it is the very last day for the deadline, sorry! I even had a card picked out that I really liked and then I got the exact same card in the mail today from someone else. Guess I'll be picking out a new one :(

I've never gotten cards from Shutterfly before but I'm really loving their styles, you can check them out herehere and here. This is the card I was looking at using but the other problem is that it requires lots of pictures and getting John to take one picture is hard enough!
I love getting Christmas cards every year and seeing the pictures of everyone and their sweet families. I also really love having a steel door that I can put all of the cards up on :)
I even found some really strong magnets that will hold up the cute metal Christmas tree this year :)

Onto another Christmas deal that you'll actually have time to use, free shipping day is this Friday. Tons of stores will offer free shipping with delivery in time for Christmas! I'm super excited that I'm being bailed out since I have also procrastinated with my Christmas shopping :) 

The halls are officially decked!

I put my Christmas tree up a week ago and immediately got it decorated. The rest of the apartment however didn't get touched until this past weekend. We had quite the eventful week last week and by eventful I mean a sick puppy dog and going through four rolls of paper towels in five days!!! I'll let you use your imagination :)

Thankfully Rosie is feeling much better and I spent the weekend washing everything in the apartment and then finishing the decorations. Somehow I managed to get splinters in one hand, cuts all over the other and my back is killing me, but everything is clean and decorated. Lets see how long that lasts!

 My attempt at making another wreath this year. I should really suck it up and buy a wreath form instead of bending wire hangers together because each year my wreath comes out more oval than circular :(

John definitely thinks I'm a crazy person since I sat on the floor for hours bending coat hangers and cutting up tree branches! I think there was even a "no, seriously WHAT are you doing?" 
 More creative use of the tree branches
This year's addition to the decorations. I love these because they're not so traditional and they weren't too expensive either, always a plus!

And of course I have to give credit to the man who made all of this awesome husband who carried our tree six blocks home (as you can see its not a small tree)!

Monday, December 6, 2010


Earlier in November John and I took a quick trip down to Orlando to visit his family. Now that we live in NYC we've realized that we really enjoy spending time in nature every chance we get so while we were in Orlando we definitely worked that into the trip.

We went to a state park that has a hot spring fed river. The water temperature stays in the 70's even in the winter and so the neighborhood manatees migrate to this river to stay warm. There was a boardwalk along the river with areas to take pictures, here's one of a mama manatee and her baby.
John and I wanted to make sure we really got our fill of nature on this trip so we decided to go November! Being that it was Florida it wasn't too cold but still, canoeing is a little scary when its cold and you're really scared of tipping over.
John's brother Justin and his wife Andrea went on the canoeing adventure with us. I should have known the brothers would do something crazy, they always do when the two of them get together. There was a wide path that the guide suggested we canoe on but of course John and Justin saw a tiny overgrown area that they wanted to canoe through. To me this looked like nothing but snake heaven and I am TERRIFIED of snakes! The whole time I was just looking for snakes or dead bodies (on a side note, I've watched way too much CSI: Miami!).
 Luckily we made it out of snake alley unscathed :) We saw more birds than anything else, I didn't even see a snake until we got back onto the main river. At that point the river was wide enough that we could keep a comfortable distance, which is good because it was a big snake!
Our non-nature part of the trip was going to Universal Studios to see the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter the next day. The theme park was just a small section of Universal so there wasn't a whole lot to see, but what they did have they did really well. There was Hogwarts which had the roller coaster ride in it and then Hogsmeade had all of the shops. Both were very impressive. Here's John drinking his butter beer (not beer at all, much more like syrup!) in front of the Hogwarts Express. 
It was a quick weekend trip so that was about all that we had time for but it was definitely lots of fun and we love getting to visit with family!  

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Au Revoir

This is the last Paris trip post, I promise :)

Our chateau portion of the trip was over and now it was time to make our way back to Paris. Along the way we drove through the Champagne region and saw some really beautiful vineyards.
John of course had to stop a couple of times to sample the grapes.
And stomp through someone's field to take pictures :)
It was around five o'clock when we got back to Paris and it was rainy and there was a lot of traffic. It got pretty stressful trying to find the hotel. When we eventually found the hotel John told me I should get out with the bags and stay at the hotel while he took the car back. I think I was driving him crazy with how nervous his driving was making me :)

That evening we had a lovely dinner and then the next morning we went to Notre Dame again but this time went inside. After that we had to leave for the airport to head back home. We had a really wonderful trip and I'll leave you with a couple of random pictures from walking around Paris and the link to the online album which has a few more pictures. You can click here.

Subway entrance
Bicycles for rent

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Chateaus

After our wonderful stay at Chateau de la Bourdaisiere John and I headed out on the road again to spend the day chateau hopping. 
Our first stop was Chateau de Nitray which was this quaint little chateau with a vineyard too. We were the only ones there and the owners were so nice. We ended up watching a 20 minute film on making wine barrels because we couldn't say no, did I mention the video was all in French! :)

After that we went to Cheverny which was of course beautiful and as expected had impeccable grounds. 
Cheverny still allows for hunting on its grounds and keeps it's own hounds which were clearly marked :)
Most of the chateaus had really long driveways leading up to the main houses and they were always lined with trees. It created such a dramatic approach!
At Cheverny they offered tours through the grounds including a boat tour of the canals. What I found really interesting was that the tour guide said when the canals were built they imported Cyprus trees from Florida and Louisiana :)
After spending way too much time at Cheverny we headed on to our last chateau for the day. I'm not sure this one can really be called a chateau since it was really more like Disneyland for adults :) It was enormous!
We didn't have much time to spend at Chambord since we were trying to make it to Dijon for the evening. We picked a couple of rooms to go through but we probably only spent an hour or so here and clearly you could stay much, much longer!

I'll leave you with one more picture of an incredibly long driveway.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our Very Own Chateau

For those of you who read my last post about spending the day at Chenonceau, I joked how could it get better than that, well here is how the day got better....
We drove up to this lovely little chateau where John had booked us a room for the evening. We actually got to stay the night in a castle!

I don't know if any of you remember Joe Millionaire but it was a reality tv show and it happened to be filmed here.
Le chateau de la Bourdaisiere, hard to pronounce but so lovely to look at :) There was even a little chapel on the grounds.
The chateau itself was beautiful but the gardens were unbelievable!
There was a really nice traditional garden and then when we stepped through this tiny little door we walked into the most amazing collection of dahlias. 
I was running around like a little kid! My mouth actually dropped open when I first stepped through the door :)
Our stay at the chateau got even better when we actually went to our room and saw that they had completely modernized bathrooms (on a side note, the bathrooms in France were probably my least favorite thing, especially the showers!).

The next morning we got up and had breakfast all by ourselves in a beautiful little room overlooking more of the chateau grounds and then headed out for more chateau hopping :)

PS - Please forgive the mess that the picture arrangement is. The format has changed and now I can't get them to all be formatted the same. It's driving me nuts!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Ok, back to reliving, I mean summing up our Paris trip :)

Half way through, on Wednesday, John and I rented a car and drove a couple hours south of Paris to Tours. It was a little bit of an adventure driving through Paris but really not too bad. Once we got on the highway it was super easy to navigate since France has amazing signs pointing to any landmark you might want to see. 

Chenonceau was on the top of my list for our trip so I was super excited. It just happened to be a beautiful day on our drive through the countryside to get to Chenonceau so that made it even better :)
We did the entire audio tour through the chateau which was fantastic. If I could have a dream house it would definitely look like this. The setting over the river was beautiful!
And of course it wouldn't be a chateau in France without an amazing garden. How could you not love the ivy covered cottage.
 As we were finishing up our tour we happened to see hot air balloons, I don't think the day could have gotten any better!
Oh wait, it did......more on that later :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Festivities

Before I get back to posting about the rest of our Paris trip I thought I'd take a moment to share a little of Halloween in NY :)
Halloween is THE holiday in NYC. Everyone gets dressed up and it lasts for days. This year people started partying on Thursday and the biggest party, the parade was on Sunday night. We didn't get a chance to see the parade last year so I really wanted to see it this year. As hard as we tried we never could get close enough to actually see anything. It was insanely crowded, at one point we were packed onto a street so closely I couldn't even raise my arms. Needless to say I didn't get any pictures :(

I can't really convey the level of crazy without pictures so I'm sharing some I found in an article online.
Also awesome, a little crazy
Way past crazy into INSANE!

These are just a few from the article. You can check out more pictures here and here but beware, they get way more crazy (ok maybe not MORE crazy than the last one but they're certainly close)!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Tuesday we went on an all day bicycle tour of Versailles. It was through Fat Tire Bike Tours and it was so much fun! I can't even remember the last time I was on a bicycle but I definitely picked it right back up which is a good thing because our first biking experience was riding through Paris to the train station. Once we all franticly got on the train with our bikes it was just a short ride to Versailles where our first stop was at this really fantastic market to pick up stuff for our picnic later in the day :)
After picking up goodies from the market we rode to the actual estate which is enormous. Most people only go to the main house and don't even see the grounds because they're so big which is a shame because it was pretty fantastic to bicycle around such a beautiful estate!
Marie Antoinette's house
After we rode around for a couple of hours we parked at the far end of the estate and had a picnic. Since we were in France we went for the traditional picnic foods, you know, cheese and bread and of course wine. We threw in a couple of fruits and nuts for good measure :)Here's the view from our spot on the grass. It was a little cloudy and grey but still a very nice view!After the picnic we did a little more biking and then we headed to the main house which is what everyone is familiar with when you say Versailles (the gigantic building in the background in the picture above).
The actual house was super crowded and had some really weird artwork displayed within the rooms.
Hall of Mirrors
We made a quick pass through most of the rooms in the house before heading out to check out the gardens.
That about sums up our day at Versailles. We had to take the bikes on the train again and then bicycle through Paris to get back to the tour office. The next day's itinerary included renting a car and driving several hours which was a much welcome treat after an entire day on a bicycle, I was just a tiny bit sore :)