Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Snow: NYC Photo Roundup

Happy Tuesday! This is a snapshot of the view I had Friday before last while making my way into work on the first day of spring in NYC. As you can see, the week was a little gray and snowy, a stark comparison to the sunny week we spent in Mexico prior — but nonetheless magical. We wanted to share a few of our collective snaps from our quick week in the snowy city.

We stayed on the Lower East Side at the Ludlow Hotel again, which is an incredibly quick and easy commute into work on the F train. For context, "quick and easy" aren't typical words used to described any sort of commute in NYC.

As we explained from our last trip, our hotel is directly across the street from Katz's — the iconic NYC deli from When Harry Met Sally. It was the start of Daylight's Saving Time when we were in town, so the views of the neon-lit deli signs as the sun went down each night were pretty incredible:

...and we've lovingly coined one of our favorite recurring games to play when in the city as "curbside trash or treasure." I swear, only in NYC will you find legitimately good finds just left on the curb for the landfill:

There's also a bit of a different "etiquette" that took me a while to learn when living in Brooklyn — that things left on the street are pretty much fair game. I remember a few times when my roomie and I would leave perfectly good items outside our apartment complex that we'd otherwise would have donated, just to see how quickly they'd get picked up, ha. Without fail it would only be a few hours at most. Hey, sometimes you give and sometimes you get. While we didn't pick up any curbside gems this go round, that didn't stop us from spotting plenty of them, like the framed architectural print pictured above.

Speaking of gems, we had a chance to stop into a few of our choice shops and jewelry supply warehouses while in town:

And with that — we were headed back almost as quickly as we'd headed in. Thanks for stopping in to share a few snaps from our city visit. Until next time!

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Weekend Basics

Happy Monday! With spring weather almost here (yep, it's still dragging), we're starting to get back into the swing of chock-filled weekends. This weekend was no exception with the 10k, a little project planning and our youngest niece's first birthday all in the lineup.

Each spring we look forward to the Monument Avenue 10k. It's dubbed one of the friendliest races in America and the course happens to pass right through our neighborhood. This is a great thing since we love getting out to stand on the sidelines and watch everyone pass through — but it also land-locks us in for the majority of that Saturday. We enjoy watching the fast-paced runners breeze through in the first waves, followed by the crowds of participants dressed in costumes. This year we spotted everyone from Pac Man and the wolf to an incredible "skyline" of good old #RVA:

We got a chance to see lots of familiar faces passing through and were keeping a special lookout for family — there's our oldest niece, Caitlin with our sister-in-law Becky!

Stephanie was participating again this year, so we were also given the mission to look for "hot pink" right around the 9:45am mark. Before long, she passed on through and we caught a quick blurry glimpse:

I'm not sure if we've mentioned here on the blog that Stephanie has been apartment hunting and within the last month found an awesome place here in the fan. We'll have to share more details for another post, but ended up walking with Basil up to her place, which has a front porch and we kept a lookout with all her friends from a different location than normal this year.

Oh, and yes — we were drinking Bloody Mary's to help keep warm while watching the action. Later in the day once all the road barriers had been removed we were able to venture out to gather supplies for a few upcoming DIY projects. First on the list — copper pipes:

We'll look forward to sharing more from this project as it comes together, perhaps early next week.

In more family news, we celebrated our youngest niece, Chelsea's, first birthday this weekend:

Teller and Ben invited us over for a family celebration and we were (happily) tasked with bringing a birthday cake — which you know Mary loves a good challenge. Similar to the M&M cake Mary made last year for Benjamin's 4th birthday, she went with a number theme, making different shapes with cookie cutters and sprinkles:

We'll share more on the cake later this week and wanted to share a few pics from the party. Teller had the baby and house decked out with Pinterest style decorations all under the color combo of pink and turquoise. For Chelsea's gift, Mary made a little sequin butterfly stuffed toy. Teller's first word as a baby had been "butterfly" so we thought she might like it and while it kept her interest for a second, the most enticing part of the present was the gift bag and tissue paper:

Can you believe I was able to capture a shot with all four kids (almost) looking at the camera and smiling?

It's always incredible seeing how much they continue to grow — we all joked that if feels like just yesterday we were all there celebrating Virginia's first birthday. Heck, I seemed to have blinked and have an almost 23 year old daughter. We'll celebrate Stephanie's birthday next week.

We hope you had a wonderful weekend wherever you might be and good start to the week ahead. Thanks, as always, for taking the time to stop in and see what we've been up to lately.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Over on eHow: DIY Geometric Wooden Bookends

We recently shared an in-progress shot of a pair of bookends we'd been working to make and are excited to share the final, completed designs. Find the full tutorial in our latest project post over on eHow.

You might recognize the salvaged wood beam we used in this project as the same wood we used to make our holiday card holder this past winter. During the fall we'd stumbled across a few sections of these old beams that had been tossed in the alleyway and headed for the landfill, during one of our morning walks in the neighborhood. Not wanting to pass up such an amazing find, we scooped up 3 of the beams not knowing what we'd end up doing with them — all in the name of DIY. As we've said before, they just don't make 100 year old beams anymore and the weathered, reclaimed finish on these pieces is unbeatable.

The process for making these bookends is moderately simple if you have the wood shop tools — we made these two with the help of an adjustable workbench, circular saw, palm sander and a healthy sealer as a finish. I love how all the imperfections in the wood come through, like the old nail in one of the sliced facets:

We're so pleased with how they turned out that we've decided to test them as an offering in my Etsy shop to gauge interest. They just might pioneer a small offering of handcrafted goods among the regular vintage finds I collect for the shop.

Depending on the location and history of the wood used to make a pair of these, they could make a meaningful and customized gift idea for housewarmings, weddings, graduations or retirements. Head on over to eHow to find our full tutorial with step-by-step instructions for making a pair of your own geometric wooden bookends!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Vacation Photos from Sunny Cancun

Whew! We've just returned from two weeks of travel — the first week was a little vacation getaway before another quick work week in New York. Now that we're home, resting up and have had a chance to scour through the mess of collective camera and phone pics, we're looking forward to sharing a couple roundups from our latest trips here on the blog.

Every March, Tim and I travel down to Mexico for a little winter getaway (you may remember our vacation pics from last year) — today we're sharing some of our favorite vacation photos if you care to see...

This year we were able to take Brandon with us since JMU's Spring Break coincided with our travel plans. We took Stephanie to Mexico during her Sophomore year at college too, so were excited to get the same chance to spend time with Brandon together. And — spending time with Brandon is always a good reminder of just how tall 6'4" really is, ha!

If you follow us on Instagram and/or Facebook, you may recognize a few shots from our trip and know a little bit behind our transit woes getting down to Mexico. Long story short, we ended up stuck in the Philadelphia International Airport for an entire day, only to find out we'd need to spend the night in Philly for a direct to Cancun flight rebooking the following day. Womp Womp...

It did, however, give us the chance to get to know the Philidelphia Airport a little better. I think my favorite part was seeing all the fiddle leaf fig trees potted in sunny spots along the running walkways:

I was even pleasantly surprised to cross paths with this American Bison sculpture on display in the airport that I recognized from Etsy. I've seen it so many times online, and it was just as enchanting to look at up close and in person:

But who am I really kidding — it wasn't the ideal way we'd planned to spend the first two days of vacation:

The next morning, we woke up in cold, icy Philly, still wearing the same clothes and ready more than ever to wake up to the sunny view we'd been looking forward to:

After spending what felt like an eternity in transit, we finally arrived in Cancun, waking up the next day to this breathtakingly sunny view over the resort pools and ocean, which seemed to immediately wipe away any and all previous travel woes. It was then, we felt the stress of winter starting to just melt away...

The majority of our week was spent soaking in the sun by the resort pool and on the beach. We ate the tropical fruits and drank the tropical drinks — watermelon juice, coconut juice, green juice, piƱa colada, margaritas and Mexican beers.

Each day Tim and Brandon would play pool volleyball and beach volleyball later in the day. There was an infinity pool with lap lanes reserved for swimmers, which was like a dream come true for me. Growing up I swam competitively, so I always enjoy a chance to get some laps in when the opportunity presents itself. It's the first time I can say I was able to wake up and hit the lap lanes to the rising sun, sound of birds and crashing waves in the distance between breaths.

In general, it was a needed a break — just making that time to spend together with nothing pressing on our plates.

Midway through the week we ventured out from the resort, planning a day trip to one of our favorite spots in Mexico, Isla Mujeres. Isla is a small (under 5 miles long) island not far from the Cancun coast and quick ferry ride away — the name literally translates to "Island of Women." We toyed with the idea of spending our honeymoon on Isla, or even a long weekend getaway at some point — it's certainly an idea for the bucket list.

The ferry is about a 20 minute ride through the Caribbean Sea, which is as turquoise blue in person as it is in pictures. We got there early to catch the first ferry and loved watching all the local captains preparing their boats for tourist trips (probably booze cruises, ha!) in the Marina for the day ahead.

Because Isla Mujeres is such a small island, it can be covered rather quickly in a golf cart, which is a tourist favorite. We rented one for a couple hours and put Brandon in charge of the first leg: 

Gotta hand it to Brandon, he stopped carefully over each and every speed bump so poor Mary wouldn't fall out the back, ha!

Tim and I have made the trip to Isla several times and knew we'd want to make a stop at the southernmost tip of the island, Punta Sur. It's a cliff edge with incredible views, wildlife and Mayan history:

While we'd been here several times, we never knew there was a park with winding paths and caves just beyond the tip of Punta Sur. Brandon immediately saw the walkways along the Caribbean Sea and wanted to venture out, so we learned something new!

We found ourselves walking through "Cliff of the Dawn," the easternmost point in Mexico. It's supposedly the first part of the country to be touched by the rising sun each day and is filled with caves made of coral that the ocean waves crash and spray into.

When I caught Tim snapping photos of the ocean spray, I excited ran down to the ledge and asked for a portrait shot. Here's the resulting shot just after a giant wave came crashing onto the ledge, completely soaking my back and behind:

To wrap up our day trip we found a lunch spot on the beach and ordered a spread of shrimp, fish and chicken tacos to share, along with one of the most powerful margaritas I've ever had:

To close the week, we took Brandon to one of our favorite dinner spots in Cancun, Harry's, where we reminisced about the week and took photos to compare exactly which of the two got the tannest (I'm incapable of tanning so didn't come close to qualifying). We didn't tell Brandon about the giant spools of cotton candy that come at the end of every meal, so it was fun to watch his face when they brought it to the table.

As you can probably gather, we had a great time in Mexico, even though it took us a little longer to get down there than we'd originally hoped. Most of all, we enjoyed spending time with family and a change of scenery from our winter routine.

Until next time...

What about you? Do you have a favorite vacation spot or great tip for things to see and do while in Cancun?

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