Welcome to Our Home – Kitchen & Dining

It’s easily the most important room in the house and it’s historically the first room (and the hardest room and the one that changes the most) that we have set up every time we move…the Kitchen. I’ll say this much, when we accepted this house, the kitchen was easily the room that I was initially excited about. Not only is it spacious, with loads of counter space, it’s got a great center island, AND the cooktop/oven is gas! Yes, gas! I was so excited to be able to cook on gas again, although it’s been a little bit of a learning/reminding curve. 

The initial view into this half of the downstairs is the view of the three windows in the opposite walls. These provide some of the best natural light in the house and let us achieve that natural light all day (I do not care for overhead lighting as I’ve learned over the years). On the first wall we have our “command center” which as the calendar for appts and meal plans, the S was a wedding decoration, and any current photo or invitation to the clipboard. 

From there you open into the kitchen proper. I try to keep our island as clear and open as I can as we have the stools for seating for the boys or for friends. The stools are the Threshold Halifax Farmhouse Counter Stools from Target (linked HERE) and were mistakenly shipped to our old address…in Germany and ended up taking double the time to get to us (fail). Our dish rack tends to just live on the counter, though I try otherwise, unless we are baking or hosting (as we are normal people, not glamorous at all) and inevitably, things end up piled here despite my best efforts. Moving into the actual kitchen, we try to keep only the necessary kitchen gadgets on the counters, so the kitchen aid, toaster, cooking utensils, and recipe book tend to be the only regular things on the counter. The cabinets are topped with more memorabilia. We have a built-in pantry cabinet (which is SO NICE) that leads to the dining room. 

Across from the island and kitchen proper is our coffee station and deep freezer. We received the Ninja Coffee Maker (THIS one) as a gift a year ago and have absolutely loved it. I always make a rich coffee with the Ghirardelli chocolate syrup. We’ve also got our Almatrieb cowbell here to “ring for dinner” should the boys not hear us telling them. 

The dining room is the same as it always has been, with the addition of new seat covers (we got washable ones from Amazon to help save the chairs until the boys are out of the messiest of messy eating phase) and two small “café” style prints, the top from Rome, the bottom from Switzerland. Both large prints were taken in Fussen.  

There you have it, the next installation in the Welcome to Our Home: New York Edition. I hope you enjoyed seeing this little bit of our home. If you have any specific questions, please let me know in the comments below!

An Ode to 10 Years and a Toast to Many More

10 years. 120 Months. 3,650 Days. 87,600 Hours. I could go on, but you aren’t here to read about how I can use a calculator to accomplish basic multiplication. 10 years ago I walked out of my parents home to meet a guy. My first glimpse was actually not of the guy, but of his lifted white pick up truck, but I knew that he was special (and it wasn’t because of the truck). I’ve talked about most of this in prior mushy posts (I do these approximately twice a year), so I won’t repeat myself (but maybe you can read some of those posts HERE?), but I find myself reflecting on this bigger moment. 

To be together for 10 years in one of those weird accomplishments. Like we don’t consider it one, but it’s also a milestone that should be marked? A testament to your strength and ability to choose your partner, your marriage, your family, every single day. To grow and change together. To know that you’ve found something solid, something good, something lasting. To know that the person you’ve said forever to is good, is accepting. 

This isn’t our wedding anniversary, we’ve only been married for 7 of those 10 years, but in some ways, I feel that this anniversary is the more important of the two we celebrate. For if this date hadn’t happened 10 years ago, none of the rest would have happened. And I will forever be grateful for this day those years ago, for dinner at the restaurant, a moonlit stroll through a garden, and a night that never ended; the precursor to our fairytale. The beginning of forever, for we both new that night that we found something special. 

So, to my husband, my forever heart, to our life together, our marriage, and our happiness. This first decade together has been nothing short of magical and incredible; I cannot wait to see where the next few take us. 

Welcome to Our Home: The Sunroom

Introducing the surprise “bonus” room that we were able to work out in our New York home, the “Sunroom”. Much like a home library, I’ve always dreamed of having a sort of conservatory, indoor porch, sunroom set up in my forever home, so being able to style this room up in a similar manner has made me very happy. This room is set off the kitchen and dining room and was a kind of odd set up. It wasn’t quite deep enough to really use for a certain purpose, and since the floors are all laminate in this section of the house, I didn’t really want to turn any area in this home into a play area (just for the pure noise control factor). So, I took some of the items that we already had that didn’t have a final home (such as my reading chair, the rug, and the two cabinets) and fashioned a little seating area. 

So, let’s talk it through. The only new item I really needed to purchase was the bench against the wall, which is the Christopher Knight Home Mission Ottoman from, you guessed in, Target (linked HERE). It opens to a decent storage space, which currently holds all our candle stuff. I’ve topped with a knitted blanket and one of the pillows we purchase at Ikea when we moved to Germany. In the left corner we have my mug cabinet (of which I have cleared out my collection of quite drastically), and opposite is my husbands’ memorabilia cabinet. Then we’ve got my reading chair, which is one of the comfiest places to sit in our entire house, facing out the window so I can watch as the kids play in the backyard. This little spot also gives enough separation from the kids play area that I can both sit and enjoy my coffee or tea or conversation with friends, but also spin around and see what is going on in the play area. The chair is actually from Babies R Us, so I can’t link it for you unfortunately. The rug is from Ikea (linked HERE) and is still one of my favorite pieces. There are two smaller cabinets that serve as a table for the chair, and a storage spot for plants & outside shoes. 

On the walls we have three photographs from our time in Germany, all taken in the Fussen/Neuschwanstein area of Germany. The center being the overlook of Hohenschwangau and the lakes, the left being at Fussen Castle, and the right being a corner of Hohenschwangau Castle. 

This room serves as a second purpose though (because we are practical in this home), this room also serves as the drying room for hang dry clothes during laundry days. The dryer rack plops right on the rug and all the clothes are up on top. I can’t have you thinking our home is all glamorous all the time now, can I?

I know this was a bit of a shorter “Welcome to Our Home” post, but I sure you hope you liked seeing this little bonus area that I was so excited about. It’s the perfect morning or afternoon tea spot. 

Welcome to our Home: The Home Library (and Kids Space)

It is finally time to start talking about our new home! It’s been a long time coming (not really, hard to believe but we’ve only been in this house for 2 ½ months), but I think it’s finally time to start sharing. I think I’m going to do this in a couple different posts, sectioning out our downstairs into 5 or 6 posts. This is the only part of my house (and just home in general) that I do share as I am going to keep the bedrooms and office private. 

I figured I would start things off with what may be one of the most important spaces in our home (in only my opinion…my husband and kids beg to differ), our home library. While I couldn’t recreate my “wall of books” (HERE) from our last home, I was able to create a cozy little space and a full chunk of our downstairs just to the shelves. 

So, we’ve got a little corner nook set up in this home, just off the main living room. In the center is the boys school table where they do their schoolwork as needed. I liked that I could have a similar “library” set up as you would find at their school with a table in the center. The way the house is laid out and the other rooms are set up, I ended up preferring this to have my reading chair in the corner. 

Aside from the main shelves, which we will get to in the moment, I do have one end table that holds a variety of “coffee table” books that I reach for frequently, as well as my current month “TBR” stack of books. On the top of the shelves there is a wide variety of décor, the various castles we’ve visited on our travel, some important books (both childhood and adulthood), as well as a framed quote from Pride and Prejudice, my wedding dress, and a framed piece of quilled paper artwork. 

Now on to the shelves themselves. There is a total of 5 (though I would like to get one more at some point and I’m sure I’ll need more in the future), and they are the Threshold Carson bookshelves from Target (HERE) in Espresso Brown. They’ve held up through two to three moves now and we’ve been really pleased with them.

A note of my organization system, I organize by “category” and then author last name within that. So, we’ve got (from right to left): Classics, Non-Fiction, General Fiction, Collections, Poetry, Memoir/Self Help, Religious/Belief/Spiritual, Manga & Graphic Novels. The final bookcase on the far left is my unread books. The goal is to keep my unread books to only one bookcase, preferably even less than that at some point, but as I’m a mostly mood reader that can only go so far. 

I also split this chunk of our downstairs (which is an open floor plan) into both the Home Library as well as a kid’s space to play downstairs. As much as our boys love to play in their room (though not as much as we would maybe prefer) they inevitably bring toys downstairs and want to play near us. I wanted to have a spot for them to do that that was still “connected” to where we would be, but not right in our faces for noise purposes. This is also a Lego spot for them to have all their Legos to build and play as they want. 

They have a main table (which is our old coffee table), then a little cabinet in the corner which holds books and school supplies (in the drawer), and a little shelf system which holds some more books. In between the two is where the Lego’s get stored in little plastic containers. The name signs are 3D printed from an Etsy shop called (linked HERE). I thought it would be a nice, personalized touch, as well as help with name recognition and spelling. They can also hang art projects if they like on the walls. 

So, that’s the home library and kids’ section of the downstairs of our house, AS WELL AS the first look into our New York home. I hope you enjoyed this first peak, and I look forward to sharing more with you! If you have any specific questions, please let me know in the comments below. 

Small Business Shopping 2020

Here’s the deal, 2020 has flipped the tables on all of us. With that, I have made the decision to start talking about the big shopping holidays of the year, much earlier than I normally do. I’ve put my lights up around my windows, the decorations have started peaking around the house, and…the holiday shopping has begun. Now, I typically shop early anyways as we live in Europe right now (so if I want to order anything from the states I have to do so early), but also because my organization just…makes me do it ha-ha. 

I always advocate for shopping small, however 2020 has shown us just how important small business is and how fragile it can be. I think as we head into the shopping season there are several steps we can take to support small businesses and help take care of our own cities and towns. I can say that being an entrepreneur is an incredibly difficult undertaking and those who do it, are putting all of their heart and soul into their business. That business is one that is close to heart and is something that they believe in. We can support that spirit in many different ways. 

Before we get into all of that, I am going to touch on something that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a hot minute…Amazon. 

I’m not here to lecture about using Amazon, nor am I here to tell you to completely stop using them. I get the draw: items are usually cheaper on Amazon, shipping is faster (and if you have Prime it’s free), and overall, just hopping on to the app and using one click is just…easier. It also does have a area that advertises local, small business items that you can purchase. I GET IT. I have nothing against using Amazon in certain situations, when you need something in a pinch, or if you are quarantine and can’t leave your home, or if you are in a tighter financial budget. HOWEVER, I think for the vast majority of us, it should not be our first stop for our shopping needs. It’s no secret the sheer amount of wealth, the employment issues, and other issues that have come to light over the past couple of years. Amazon has quickly taken over across quite a few industries and we are seeing the effect that that is having. It may not seem like it (after all- you are still able to get what you need through Amazon), but our main streets lined with local business, those same entrepreneurs that are trying to survive are being taken out. 

When I shop (because I am not perfect and I do still go to Amazon for certain things), I try to treat Amazon as a true last-minute option. If I need something fast (like when I needed to order night lights for my child who decided at 2AM one night that he wanted to do night time potty training) or if I am trying to maybe cut a bit of the cost (again- night lights for a voltage that we won’t be using when we leave here). Otherwise I try to do a couple of different things: 

 1)Is there a local business that I can support with my purchase. This can be anything from your local grocery/center store OR a boutique that carries what you are looking for. I find that not only buying local supports the town and business owners, but also gives you a chance to get something cute and unique that only you or the person you are gifting will have. For us, I try to pick up things from small shops on our various travels as I know that those would be appreciated much more than something similar I can get off of Amazon. The purchase also comes with a story, which can be fun as well and shows an extra bit of thought put into the purchase.

2) I try to go directly to the company. ***This isn’t the best example as this isn’t a small business, but it applies to us this year so I’m trying to make it work.***This year the boys are getting mostly Lego sets for the holidays, so instead of buying off of Amazon, I am ordering for Lego directly. Sure it’s a bit more expensive or there may be a shipping cost involved (with Lego if you spend over a certain amount shipping is free and I know several other companies do this as well), but as a part of the loyalty program I get points for future purchases or discounts at the parks. I still get the same product, but I’ve supported the business directly and I’ve earned potential discounts in the future. 

Finally, a good alternative to Amazon in some ways can be Etsy. Etsy still charges per listing and takes a cut of the profits, BUT most of the companies on Etsy ARE small businesses and it’s a great way to find a personal alternative. I highly highly recommend Etsy and I have personally found quite a few gifts to purchase through them. Not to mention, there is an app that provides a lot of similar options to Amazons (one click shopping, shipping to several addresses, gift wrap options, etc). 

Now that I’m off my soap box for a minute, let’s talk about this years Small Business List. Most of these have not changed since the last time I spoke about supporting Small Business, BUT to be honest, I haven’t done much shopping beyond book shopping this year haha. So, please feel free to add your options in the comments for others as well. 

We are going to start with what I’ve spent the most amount of money on this year (second to travel actually)…books. (***Anyone surprise?***)

First things first, if you are wanting to purchase books as gifts this year, and they’ve already been published, go ahead an purchase them now. This is for a couple different reasons, the first being the independent book store/general book store industry is suffering. The second reason is that there are a couple of books coming out towards the end of this year that have massive print runs coming. This is going to put pressure on the printing houses and may cause delays or back orders of other print runs. So, buy early!

Second, if you are wanting to purchase books as gifts this year (or just purchase books in general), you’re purchasing options SHOULD be ordered as the following:

  1. Your local independent bookstore. This will be a massive boon to the booksellers and may make a difference in keeping a bookstore open. 
  2. Bookshop.Org OR your other favorite independent bookstore that you can purchase through online. Bookshop.org is a great option as it directly benefits bookstores across the board and allows you to purchase books from any independent bookstore online. In the past months you’ll have noticed on my mothly reading wrap ups, the links point back to their site. Beyond that, you can purchase online from quite a large amount of independent bookstores simply by going to their websites. Quite a few will ship worldwide as well. The Strand made headlines recently with its plea to the public about shopping the store and while we can debate the merits of that plea (there is a whole separate story on that), the plea remains across the board for many independent bookstores. If you don’t have a local one, check out some online. I’ve personally bookmarked both The Bookshelf in Georgia, Powells in Oregon, Shakespeare and Co in Paris, as well as some others.
  3. Chain Bookstores. Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Chapters (for those in Canada), Blackwells (for those in Europe, Hugendubel for my local Germany friends) and many others are great options for purchasing as well. These are specifically bookstores and your money will go back into the book industry (in a way) and thus allow them to continue to operate. All have online websites as well and good shipping turn around if you don’t want to shop in store. 

The next shopping option I am going to talk about is art/photography/home décor bits that go on your wall. I’ve discovered some new art and home décor options this year that I’ve really fallen in love with, and so I wanted to share. 

  1. KelsConversePhoto. Kelsey is an elopement photographer, but she also does travel photography and has shared purchasing options for some of her prints from travels. OR You could hire here to shoot some adventure photography- whatever you choose you will get some stunning images.
  2. Anne Street Studio. These are masterpieces. I actually have my eye on a piece or two of her work as they are truly magnificent pieces of art. Styled still life photographs she not only sells prints, but also offers cell phone cases. Also- give her a follow on Instagram (jamiebeckco) as she details out how she gets the shot and the meaning behind it, as well as life in France.

Finally, some other options for clothes/jewellry/mugs. I’ve shopped all three of these stores and have loved everything I’ve gotten and highly recommend them.

  1. Taylor Wolfe Shop. The best sweatshirts and shirts that you can find around. I’ve been following Taylor for a little while on Instagram (she’s hilarious- follow her) and finally purchased one of her “Social Distance Club” sweatshirts in the spring/summer. It’s the softest, comfiest thing I own and I am very much eye-ing a couple other shirts. 
  2. Rachel Allene. The mugs that will put a smile on your face every time you use them. If you know me, you know I’m a mug fanatic and I could probably buy every mug she makes – they hold the perfect amount of liquid AND have an inspirational or cheerful message attached. She also does clothes and notebooks.
  3. Mermaids and Dinosaurs. Custom jewelry that is all handmade just for you (or your gift recipient). I have several pieces of her jewelry and have thought about getting another piece or two. 

If you are looking for Jewish items, I would encourage you to check out peace.love.light or Shalom House Fine Judaica, OR Etsy for worldwide options. 

I could list so many other small businesses, so pay attention to my Instagram Stories as I’ll be sharing several small businesses throughout the coming weeks to purchase from. 

If you can’t purchase from small businesses for whatever reason, you can support in several other, no charge to you ways by commenting on their social media, tagging friends, sharing posts, saving posts, sending links to your friends/family. Anything to help get word of the business out to others will help. 

And now, almost 2000 words later we have reached the end. Maybe I should have split this into two posts, I’m not sure. If you want to share your own small business or one that you know of in the comments, please do! 

Out Of Office – July 2020

Good morning everyone! It is once again, time for our Summer Holiday. Much as I did last year, I will be taking two weeks off to enjoy some time with my family and explore some new places. I will be back posting more regular (and very exciting content I hope) the third week of July. While I won’t be posting blog posts during this time, I do still plan on being active over on Social Media, so be sure to follow me there (acuppacosy across all platforms). I hope that you have a wonderful start to July and Summer! 

A Little Life Chat

The second half of June has historically been a time of reflection for me. It is the halfway point of the year and a good time to sort of do a little check in and evaluate. So that’s what we are doing today. It’s a bit early, but I felt like it was just…right. That and I don’t have my next Castle’s post fully ready to post ha-ha.

Untitled Design 53

So, 2020. What a year so far, right?! We’ve faced a global pandemic and a global uprising/protest. We’ve seen communities, families, strangers all come together to accomplish some incredible things. I’ve learned some things about myself, about those that I am close to, and how to get uncomfortable. 2020 is going to be a year for the history books and I think we are going to see some real changes moving forward in regard to both the pandemic and the uprising. We aren’t going to go back to “normal” because that wasn’t working, but I do think the changes that we are starting to see, and initiate will lead to a better world. I don’t want to call anything a “new normal” because “normal” in any sense just doesn’t work for us anymore. It makes it sound like we are just striving to the average way of life, instead of always striving to do better, be better, make better changes.

For us as a family 2020 has been full of changes so far as well. We’ve seen our oldest go into his first session of preschool, to then do virtual schooling, our youngest has grown quite the little personality, and both have narrowed down their current interests quite a bit (dinosaurs, cars, Lego’s, and trains are the top). We’ve gone through a couple of work separations, work changes, and some disappointing news that I’m not sharing just yet ( I KNOW how annoying that is, but it’ll come).

It’s also ONLY June. We still have a full half a year to go in 2020.

Something else I kind of wanted to do was do a little check in on some of my resolutions that I shared. I want to see where I stand with them, while understanding that a lot of things have drastically changed from when I wrote those in late December.

So, my New Year’s Resolutions post can be found HERE

My first goal was to spend the first half of the year focusing on my website and SEO. I’ve been doing quite a bit of learning in this area, but haven’t yet gotten on Pinterest. When quarantine hit I thought it was going to be a great chance to really focus and hone in as, well…we couldn’t do anything else. But, as I quickly learned it was the complete opposite of that and trying to make drastic changes was not in my wheelhouse. I plan to refocus this goal to the second half of the year and have a good Pinterest thing going in the next 3 months or so.

My second overarching goal applied to the second half of this year (in regards to writing and publishing), so I still have time on that one!

My next group of goals was in regards to content. I wanted to make sure that what I was posting was what I felt 100% about and not to feel pressured to constantly be posting. I think that I’ve actually been really good at this, partly because of Covid-19, but also just because I’ve tried to be very intentional about posting. I love sharing and writing, but I also want to continue to enjoy that. I took a bit of time in February off, there were a couple weeks in March (or maybe April) where I only posted once a week, and that all just felt good. It keeps me feeling fresh and allows me a breather to re invigorate myself and my content.

The next group was in regards to reading, family time with my boys, travel, and quality time. I was doing better about reading a wider variety of books, but I’ve recently (like many others) been reminded that I can continue to do better in this area. I am pledging to myself to not only read a wider variety of genre’s and stories, but read a wider variety of authors. As for the family time with the boys, well we’ve been really forced into that, haven’t we? I will say in so many ways this has been so good for our family. We’ve really just gotten a chance to be together without the whole outside world distracting us. It’s been nice for the boys to have mommy and daddy home all the time, but it’s made our recent work separation all that much harder.

We all know what is going on with travel and the lack of it due to Covid-19. However, we recently just were informed that our restriction for travel within the country of Germany has been lifted so I am eagerly looking for some getaways within the country. We are also starting to hopefully be able to plan for some Fall or Winter trips. Keeping our fingers crossed.

My final goal was to do more date nights with my husband and well…that’s gone about the same way as the travel goal ha-ha. Hopefully though, now that our restrictions are being lifted more and more we can start doing those date nights again. I know that I am ready for some kid free time with my husband.

So, that’s my check in on 2020 so far. As we go into the second half of the year, I want to continue to listen, inform, and better educate myself on our community and world at large. I want to strive to be better and do better.

How is your 2020 so far?

Planning Big Trips

Untitled Design 5Today I am going to talking about something that we have done and will be doing in the next month and that is planning big trips. We have taken summer vacations for three years in a row now with our little family to all different destinations (Maine, Canada/New York, United Kingdom) and are planning a Christmas/Winter getaway over the next few years too. There is a definite difference in planning between planning these bigger travel events than with planning Weekend Getaways. Not only are these usually further distances away, but they are usually intended to be to see more and do more. I have talked about long weekends (HERE) so today, I’m going to talk just a little bit about how we plan our longer trips.

I’m going to be using our Summer Holiday as an example as I work through this post which you can read about in these posts: Calais and Dover, London, Edinburgh, Inverness, Bastogne, Luxembourg, and Heading Home.

The first step is determining where we want to go. This is actually one of the most overwhelming bits as there are a lot of travel options. We have a very large list of places we want to go while we are over here in Germany, and are adding more to that list every day, and we split that into two categories. These two categories are places that we want more than a day or two and places that we don’t need much time in. So, we knew that we wanted to have a decent amount of time to explore London and Scotland, and since those are neighboring countries and it made sense to take one longer trip to visit both, than two or three “shorter” trips. The same will be for our future trip to Italy. Italy is a country that we want to spend a longer amount of time in to see more to the country, rather than taking a few 4-day weekend trips to. If we can combine spots, we will combine spots, but more on that later.

So, we know where we want to go. The next step is deciding how to get there. Here in Europe there are a couple different options: driving, flying, or train. There are pros and cons to each option, and we tend to weigh kids, luggage, timeframe, and cost into our decision. Flying is something that we will probably be doing more in the winter months as it starts to snow, and the roads get a little more treacherous. Trains are something that we are having to hold off until the boys get a smidge older, Andrew is just a little bit too young to really understand. Driving usually seems to be a…”dull” and longer option (although we like it), but you also can control your timeline a little bit more as well as your luggage situation. The other benefit of driving or taking a train is the ability to add more stops to your itinerary which may change your mode of transportation.

Perfect Segway into our third step, which is mapping a route. This goes hand in hand in some ways with how to get there. This also happens to be one of my favorite parts of the planning process. There are two ways to do this, depending on what you prefer: electronically or physically. What you will want to do is map out your trip. We start with our main points. For our Summer Holiday we knew we wanted to go to London, Edinburgh and Inverness. Those were our main spots. We also leaned towards driving due to cost, ability to control our schedule a little more, and the ability to see a little more. So, we pulled out a map and started to look at different options. You are actually able to do this electronically on Google Maps (plan a trip) which we have done, but you can also do this on a physical map, which I prefer. Looking at a map we kind of eye balled our distances and eye balled what countries we would be traveling through or bordering up against in this travel. We knew that we would probably have to stay a night in Calais and potentially somewhere between Inverness and Dover and then again Calais and home. We also tried to look if there was anywhere that we wanted to stop on our route, which was how we managed to visit the American Cemetery at Luxembourg and the War Museum in Bastogne (also Dover, but that would have been too obvious not to miss). Look at your destinations and if you are driving or taking a plane is there anywhere on your route that you want to stop? How much time do you want to spend in this location? How feasible is this?

So, we know where we are going, how we are getting there, and what stops we want to make roundtrip, it’s time to find a place to stay. This is more my husband’s forte than mine and he typically handles all of our accommodation. I’ll give you an idea though from what we’ve talked about and the little bit that I have seen/tried to do. Depending on where we go we will either book a hotel or an Airbnb. We prefer Airbnb’s as we can typically get a little more bang for our book, a little more space to stretch out, and some version of a kitchen for us to put all of our snacks and such. The only time we really stay in hotels is in bigger cities where it just makes more sense (London and Berlin). We filter our searches on Airbnb based on location and just map where the locations are to where the things are that we want to see. We like to use Public Transportation as much as we can when we travel to new spots, so somewhere nearby either a station OR walking distance to what we want to see is perfect. I wish I had more to say on this one, but I really don’t. We just hunt through Airbnb, our Credit Card company, and then Trivago and sites like that.

Finally, the optional fifth step: planning activities while you are there. This is completely dependent on what kind of traveler you are. When it comes to big trips I have a little bit of an itinerary problem in that I like to have at least one or two ideas for each day. I don’t plan to the last minute, but I do like to have a bit of a plan going into these longer trips. For London, we had planned on one day of just walking London seeing all the sights, one day at The Tower, and one day at the Globe and any last-minute idea’s that we had. This allowed us to have a little structure, a list of things we wanted to do, but still have a little flexibility with the kids. At the very least I would suggest just looking into and maybe making a list of different things to do, you don’t have to come up with any schedules or anything like that, but at least an idea of what to do and when is best to do it ahead of time will be a help.

And that is it! That’s how we plan our longer trips. Do you have any tips for planning long holidays? Let me know down below 🙂

Morning Routine 2019

Morning’s are my golden time. The house is quiet, clean, and so tranquil. I use my mornings to soak in that quiet peace, warm my body and mind up to the day and prepare myself for another productive day. I find that if I have a good fresh start to my day, then my day goes much smoother than if I am feel a bit frazzled.

I’ve done a morning routine before, and while the basics are the same, there are some differences and I now have two very active children, one who is most definitely a morning bird (I get excited when he sleeps to 7:30am).

6AM
My alarm goes off at 6 AM every weekday morning and I try to sit up as soon as I turn it off. At some point I would like to put my phone (which also serves as my alarm clock) across the room so it gets me all the way up, but for now this is what works for me. Also, I find that if I sit up right after I shut my alarm off, I am more likely to actually get up and get on with my morning than if I stay laying down.

Once I’m up, I’ll go handle all my bathroom stuff, brush my teeth, wash off my face with some water and then I’ll change into my workout clothes.

6:15AM

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This is typically about the time that I will start my Yoga Flow. I do yoga almost everyday (weekends are always up in the air with what I do and don’t do) and I find that it is a key part of my morning routine. I feel better throughout the day, feel clearer, and it just really shakes off any feelings I have had from the day before or overnight. It is also the one time that my mind is completely clear and empty. It’s just my soul pushing my body and my breathe.

On occasion Andrew will wake up around 6:15-6:30AM. If this is the case, I’ll stop what I’m doing, grab him some water and then he will either join me and do some yoga (which is interesting) or he will play nearby with his toys. He’s fairly easygoing and quiet first thing in the morning, so I’m usually able to get a decent yoga flow done before he starts chatting and wanting me to get more involved with his play.

6:45-7:00AM

Yoga is usually anywhere from 20-50 minutes depending on what I do/how I am feeling and when the kids wake up. Once I’m done I’ll usually jump in for a quick shower and then get ready for the day.

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For me, getting ready usually takes a total of about an hour – from after I get out of the shower until I am ready to walk out of our room onto the next task. It entails hair, makeup, and getting dressed. I don’t do anything super fancy for day to day, but I still like to put myself together in some form. I’ve talked about it before, but when I feel good about myself and I feel like I’ve made an effort, then I am more likely to be productive throughout the day.

8:00AM

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This is usually the time that I am kind of pushing my limits of what I can do vs. when the kids will need me. This is also normally the time that I go back and forth about getting up even earlier so I can just get a few more minutes haha. I try and take the last bit of time before I need to do breakfast and get on with the day to do a little journaling. Once I finish yoga, I try to keep the playlist of music I use going throughout the rest of the morning- it keeps my head clear. Then once I sit down to do a little journal, I will let my mind come back and I will write out whatever I’m feeling, thinking, needing to get out. I try to just write until I can’t write anymore. I find that gives me a completely clear mind to truly start the day with.

8:30AM

Time for breakfast on the table, boys up and dressed, and get on with the day!

And that’s my morning routine! Not super exciting or different, but I find that it really sets me up for a successful day. If I had to pull one thing from my morning routine that I find really just is key, it would be Yoga. What is one thing from your morning that is key for you?

Hotel Living With Two Toddlers

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about something that I’ve referenced before, but felt deserved it’s own blog post and that is living in a hotel with two {very active} toddlers.

One of the things that we knew ahead of our move was that we were going to be in a hotel for quite some time. This wasn’t a breaker for us, just something that we tried to prepare for ahead of time as best we can. Knowledge is power and preparation is key for this type of situation. We weren’t really able to prepare the boys though and honestly we didn’t know what we were actually walking into with our room set up.

I’ll start by saying that we are lucky. At this point we actually have a little one bedroom/one bath apartment style set up, with separate living room and bedroom areas. This allows us to have our own “space” separate from everything else when we need a little breather (which does happen). I don’t want to trivialize what this has been like at this point, but I do feel like it is important to acknowledge that we have had a better option than some of the other families.

We have two very active, very loud little boys. They love to run, wrestle, and create as much noise as possible. We’ve never had a problem with this and have generally let them explore and create and play as they want to (realistically, within reason so no one gets hurt or anything). They thrive on being able to have the room to run in circles or sing a song or heck, even just play with their own toys.

We packed several of their toys in their luggage and have purchased a couple of items, but the vast majority of their toys are still in transit with the rest of our household goods and we wont get any of them until we get a house. So they get a little bored playing with the same games and toys (which I realize may make them sound incredibly spoiled which they are not, but boredom is a factor at times here).

I think the hardest thing for the boys has been that they can’t just play as they please. We are trying very hard to keep our noise level down as best we can (considering we are at the top floor of our little building) and while I know that at times kids will just kids and others will be understanding, I also want to be understanding towards them. I know that not everyone wants to hear the pitter patter (or elephant thuds) of feet across their ceiling during the day. When they will, I encourage the boys to sit and draw/color, read a book (sort of), or watch a movie/tv show that they like to watch. They do get to wander around and be active, just in a quieter way.

The biggest help has been getting out as much as we can. We try to leave the apartment 3-4 weekdays in the mornings, whether its just going to a café or shops or going to a play group, and then we are out and about on the weekends. I try to leave one day to have a cosy day at home just to break up all the out and about stuff and to give them a bit of a break. I find that by doing this, they aren’t as “hyped up” on the days that we are in the hotel apartment and are more likely to take it easy.

Our boys are quite resilient and aside from a few rough days here and there have been doing remarkably well, but it’s not all sunshine and daisies. They do fight (A LOT), we do run into issues of noise (although most of that is just us being extra aware that we share walls) and sleep and there have been a couple of moments that we have just needed a little 10 minute break. I’m not going to lie and say that I haven’t just wanted to scream at moments. It hasn’t been “easy”, but with everything that we are experiencing, the memories that we are making, and this opportunity that we’ve been given has made it all worthwhile.