Archive of ‘Travel’ category

paris, part III

I’m back with the final installment of our Paris trip! In case you missed it, here is Paris: part I, with the Eiffel Tower and a few other main tourist attractions, and Paris: part II, with our art museum tours.

While our whole trip was wonderful, the experiences in this post are probably my favorites.

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

This was the early morning view from our apartment. Cue all of the heart eyes. See that tiny purple awning at the bottom of the street? That is the local patisserie – the only thing open this early in the morning. We popped down the road to pick up croissants a few mornings during our stay and it was such a fun treat :)

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

As I mentioned in the last post, January in Paris was filled with wind and rain. I had plans to run in the mornings before we got our day started, but with pitch-black skies, freezing cold temperatures, and pouring rain, the weather altered those plans most days. However, Will and I were able to get out and run two of the early mornings we were there and created one of my favorite experiences from the whole trip. Our apartment in the Latin Quarter was just over half a mile from the Seine River. We made our way to a green space lining the river, learning along the way that Parisians don’t do anything early, which meant we had the quiet streets, sidewalks, and river mostly to ourselves. From our area of the Seine, we could look down the river and see Notre Dame rising up from the small island in the middle of the river. The “City of Lights” has the same schedule as the rest of the Parisians – even the spotlights on Notre Dame were off at a very dark 7:30am. We ran along the quiet side of the river to the beautiful cathedral, passing only a few other morning runners once we got onto the island and circled the church. Can you imagine if that was your regular running route?! As we turned around to head home the bells began to ring, announcing the next hour to the sleepy city. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and one that we made sure to repeat the next day.

The poor quality photo above was taken on our phones after a run to Notre Dame, ending at our local patisserie where we picked up morning pastries for my family. In my mind, nothing gets better than that. No matter the quality of that photo, the memory that goes along with it is perfect.

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Later in the week we went back to Notre Dame to tour the inside of the building. We received great advice to find the free English tour and ended up with a great tour guide who knew the ins and outs of the cathedral, it’s history, and the religious meaning of each detail. If you are at all interested in Notre Dame, I definitely recommend the free tour!

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Two of my other favorite memories from the trip came from our day in Le Marais and from our trip to Marché d’Aligre. Le Marais is a wonderful area of Paris, away from most of the tourist attractions. One reason walking around this area was a highlight of the trip was because we got to explore true French shops and walk around the streets with no plans other than to take in the lovely Parisian architecture, tasty food, and authentic French culture. We felt like we were locals for a day. To kick off the day, we made our way to the famous Merci shop. I’m a sucker for a good coffee shop or café, and the aesthetics of Merci did not disappoint. Unfortunately, they were in the process of de-decorating for Christmas so the classic red car was on the street instead of in the courtyard. With a view like this though, I can’t complain.

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

We had heard about the great food scene in Le Marais, and after many recommendations, enjoyed a lunch of amazing falafel pitas from the famous L’as Du Falafel. I absolutely recommend this to everyone – our entire family loved this! Throughout the day we popped into chocolate shops, a French interior design store, and the cutest tearoom with the best hot chocolate on the trip (depending on which family member you ask ;)). After being on the go at busy tourist attractions for a few days, it was the perfect slow, relaxing day away from the crowds.

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

As evening approached, we traversed the arrondissement to pick up dinner supplies at Marché d’Aligre. While my parents picked up a rotisserie chicken and the potatoes that had been roasting in the rotisserie drippings (very common in the French markets), my sister and I searched for a few good cheeses for us to have for hors d’oeuvres. The sweet Frenchman at one of the larger cheese stands spoke very little English, which gave my sister and I a chance to use our years of French classes. It was a short interaction, but a fun one for all parties involved. Every time we walked into a store or a restaurant, we would try to speak to the vendors in French, but they would inevitably switch to English when they could tell we weren’t picking up as quickly as a native would. This cheese monger spoke so little English that we were excited to be able to speak his language, even if our French wasn’t perfect, and he was glad we could communicate with him in French. We didn’t know what kind of cheeses he had or what we should get, but we were able to work our way through the interaction and came away with some of the most delicious cheeses! It was such a brief moment in the trip, but one of the most authentic and fun ones. We brought our market goodies back to our Airbnb and grabbed a few fresh baguettes and some wine on the way home for another simple, but wonderful experience. Just relaxing together in our pajamas with French cheese, wine and baguettes was perfection. It doesn’t always take fancy restaurants and elaborate attractions to form the best memories, and that evening was the perfect proof of that.

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Lastly, while Sacre Coeur and Monmartre are extremely touristy, seeing all of the artists in the Monmartre Square is something I always love. We made our way through the crazy crowds and picked up two small sketches from a street artist, one of the Eiffel Tower and one of Notre Dame. I can’t wait to frame and display them as a reminder of the wonderful time we had and great memories we made.

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

We packed a lot of adventures and attractions into one week, but had such a great time along the way. Since there may be things I didn’t cover in these already lengthy posts, I’m listing everything we did below, in case you need recommendations for your next trip to the City of Lights.

Where we stayed:
The Latin Quarter (5th arrondissement) near the Pantheon. We stayed near a metro stop, purchased metro passes, and found it very easy to get everywhere we wanted to go.

Sites we saw:
Eiffel Tower (the line was hours long so we didn’t go up in it)
Arc de Triomphe (again, the line was very long so we didn’t go up in it)
Pantheon
Sacre Coeur
Monmartre (very touristy, but fun to see the street artists at work)
Notre Dame (the free tour here was great!)*
Musée Louvre
Musée L’Orangerie*
Jardin des Tuileries
Jardin du Luxembourg
Le Bon Marche*
Palais Royale
Pont Neuf
Le Marais and Saint Paul neighborhoods*

*denotes favorite sites

Favorite places we ate:
L’as Du Falafel
La Contrescarpe

Hot chocolate reviews:
– Angelina Patisserie – Sipping chocolate, very thick and extremely rich; my dad’s favorite
– Le Loir dans la Théière – Tearoom in Le Marais; the closest to regular hot chocolate (rather than sipping chocolate) we had the whole time; my favorite
– Carette – A café behind the Eiffel Tower; sipping chocolate so thick you need to order whipped cream to cut the richness of the chocolate flavor
– Bread and Roses – Sipping chocolate, thick, but addicting; my second favorite

Favorite memories/activities:
– Hearing the bells ring on an early morning run to Notre Dame
– Partnering with Lane and using our French to get food from French merchants in the market
– Enjoying a wine, cheese, jam, and fresh baguette course in our Airbnb apartment before dinners
– Eating fresh bread and croissants from the corner patisseries

paris, part II: art museums

Welcome back to our week in Paris! In case you missed it, you can find our first day in Paris in this post. In this post, we’re taking a walk through our museum-filled day.

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

The weather throughout our trip was chilly, but not freezing, with patches of rain scattered about each day. This didn’t stop us from doing anything on our list, but we had to be a bit more strategic about our outerwear and our schedule. Our second day, the rainiest in the forecast, was our museum day. Don’t let these photos fool you, not five minutes after I took these pictures a giant swath of black clouds covered the sky and opened up on us, with 19 mph winds coming from all directions.

Because of all of the terrorist attacks Paris has had in the past few years, security was high and there were lots of police roaming the streets. This made us feel safe, but also meant that all of the lines for museums and churches were outside of the buildings in the elements. Although we arrived before the museum opened, we still waited in a long line in the very windy, very rainy weather to get into the famous glass pyramid. The Louvre is full of wonderful, famous, historic art, housed in an old palace. Unfortunately, there is so much to see that rather than it was overwhelming and very confusing to get through the maze of a palace, which wasn’t originally built to be a museum. While it is famous and highly acclaimed, it wasn’t our favorite attraction on the trip, and I wouldn’t recommend it to a novice museumgoer.

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

After a café lunch and a jaunt through Palais Royal, we walked to Angelina Patisserie for some hot chocolate. In true Parisian fashion, we drank our sipping chocolate while walking past the iconic green lounge chairs in the Jardins des Tuileries to Musée L’Orangerie. As I mentioned in my first post, one of our goals on the trip was to find the best hot chocolate. I’ll list our thoughts on all of the hot chocolate we tried in a later blog post, but the famous Angelina’s hot chocolate was highly recommended. The French don’t mess around with their chocolat chaud. Angelina’s hot chocolate was a thick, rich sipping chocolate, and was definitely a treat, but great for a winter walk across the park.

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

After our unfulfilling experience at the Louvre we were wary to try another museum. I’m so glad we stuck it out and went to Musée L’Orangerie. For such a small museum, it was beautifully organized and contained amazing art. The museum is known for housing Monet’s Water Lilies, but is also home to many works of art by Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, and more. The building was originally built to house orange trees in the winter, but was updated after World War I to exhibit art, with a room specifically designed by Monet himself for his Water Lilies panels. It was an amazing experience and we all agreed that we enjoyed it so much more than the Louvre.

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

We ended the day at an old restaurant that served typical French food, followed by a walk around a small, but bustling, square near our apartment, where we grabbed crepes and gelato to cap off a busy, but rewarding day. Throughout the trip, we learned that the French take their time at meals, and servers expect you to spend hours and hours at the table. This was new for our family, but really did make the meal more relaxing and more enjoyable, granted, we were on vacation, so I don’t know that this I would necessarily feel this way if we switched our meal structure during our regular weekday schedules, but it was something to contemplate. One of my favorite things to do during these hours around the table was discuss each of our favorite memories from the day. This was a great way to reflect on the day and look back on what other people enjoyed that I may not have previously thought about in depth and something I would love to continue on future trips.

Check back for the next (and last) post on our Paris trip!

paris, part I

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that at the very beginning of the year my family took a trip to Paris! We left the U.S. on New Year’s Eve (our flight attendants wore party hats and crowns and blew party horns at midnight over the Atlantic!) and spent the first week of the new year in the City of Lights. My siblings are both graduating from college this year so we knew their winter break would be one of the last times everyone had open schedules at the same time and wanted to take advantage of that with a big trip. Paris never disappoints! During our week-long trip, we searched for the best chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and croissant, hopped between tourist attractions and local shops, walked a ton, and enjoyed our little stint at Parisian life, complete with wine, cheese, and fresh baguettes.

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

We stayed in the Latin Quarter, close enough to the Pantheon that we were able to stroll past it on our walks between dinner and dessert and could even see the dome from our balcony. The 5e arrondissement was the perfect combination of bustling and quiet. A corner shop in the lively square was open late enough that we could still pick up groceries for breakfast the next morning after a late dinner, but the streets around us were always calm. While this area isn’t in the center of the city, the metro made it so easy to get around, and unlike in U.S. cities where you sometimes wait 10+ minutes for the next train, the Paris metro was never more than 2 minutes away. With a weeklong pass, we found that it was definitely the best way to traverse the city.

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Since this was Will’s first trip to Paris and Carter didn’t remember much of our last trip (he was in kindergarten!), we set out on our first full day in the city to see two of the main tourist attractions: the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. We arrived at the Eiffel Tower not long after it opened for people to start going up in it, but the line was already crazy long. We waited in line for 15 minutes, and after not moving more than a few feet, decided to forgo the ride to the top in exchange for other activities on our list. We wandered around the streets behind the Eiffel Tower and ended up at Carette for hot chocolate and pastries.

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

After our little café break, we hopped on the metro and popped over to St. Germain in search of the remnants of a Christmas market we were told would still be there. Though the Christmas market was closed for the season, it gave us a chance to tour the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, one of the oldest churches in Paris, and walk around the cute streets of a different neighborhood. While we were there we stumbled upon Le Bon Marche. The elaborate pink building reminds me of the Grand Budapest Hotel and the decor inside is so classic. We all loved Le Bon Marche, so much so that we came back before our trip was over!

Paris | www.passthecookies.com

The grandiose, fancy department store was such an unexpected adventure and reminded me a bit of Harrods in London. It had floors of fancy clothes, makeup and accessories, beautiful books, home items, and a giant gourmet grocery area, complete with ready-made food, a patisserie, charcuterie, and boulangerie. Since it was already pretty late and we weren’t going straight home, we ended up grabbing dinner in the prepared food area before heading to the Arc de Triomphe, our last stop of the day. Like the Eiffel Tower, we weren’t interested in waiting in the long line to go up to the top, but opted instead to see the detailed memorial arch and eternal flame from the ground. We walked down the famous Champs-Élysées just far enough to get macrons from Ladurée before heading back to our Airbnb.

While I won’t have individual posts for each day, day one was long and full. Check back for our museum day in the Paris, part II post!

girls’ mountain weekend

Before November gets away from us, I want to share one of the most fun parts of October, both this year and last year. In my post on my quick trip to NYC I touched on the drastic difference between the mountains and the city, which was especially noticeable after visiting them only nine days apart.

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

We started the weekend off with brunch at a quaint coffee shop “in town.” I always find it so funny that we “go into town” when we visit. That is such a novel concept for me – the girl who takes public transportation to work. After brunch, we took our time meandering along the winding Blue Ridge Parkway, taking in the beautiful leaves and the fog rolling between the mountains. We hopped off in one of the towns along the parkway and stopped at a corn maze, which has likely already changed over to be a Christmas tree supplier. The whole weekend was what I imagine to be the quintessential fall mountain weekend: slow breakfast, Blue Ridge Parkway drives with changing leaves, and a corn maze to top it off.

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Girls' Mountain Weekend | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

It was so special to be able to spend some girl time together before this lovely long-time friend had her baby (welcome, baby Fletcher!). It was such a fun, and much-needed relaxing trip in the midst of an otherwise busy time. In this time of daily texts, fawning over the new life that our friend is nurturing, and giving thanks for all we have, I am more grateful than ever for these lifelong friends of mine. These friends who have been and always will be there for me, who support me and encourage me, and who lift me up and pray for me when I need it most. We have memories together dating back to when we were toddlers, and needless to say, have gone through lots of life changes together, but this sweet season of encouragement through our life changes is one of the best ones.

new york through an iphone

I mentioned in my November goals post that October was a busy month, both for work and in my personal life. The two biggest, and most fun, parts of the month were the trips I took: a girls weekend in the NC mountains to visit a friend who is due with her first baby any day now, and to NYC for a work conference. Which the changing leaves and cooler temperatures, both were such amazing places to visit in October.

After visiting the mountains, New York was a stark, but fun change. The leaves in the city were changing colors and the weather was crisp and cool, especially on my last day. I have been to New York in October before, but this trip convinced me that October is the best time to visit the city. It was beautiful and just what you expect from New York in the fall.

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

While I came for a work conference, I stayed with one of my college suitemates and had so much fun seeing her favorite places and exploring the city on my own. I wish I could do it all over again. Since I was only there for a short period of time, I packed light and left my camera behind, so these iPhone pics are all I have from this trip. They aren’t the best quality, but they still show New York in it’s fall glory.

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

My flight didn’t leave until the afternoon the day after the conference, so I had the whole morning to wander and chose to do so on the upper west side. I decided to immerse myself in the New York way and grabbed a hot bagel from Absolute Bagels to eat on a park bench in Riverside Park, just one block away. I have been to NYC multiple times, and have spent time in Central Park, of course, and even Prospect Park, where my half marathon finished two years ago, but had never been to Riverside Park. It was amazing! The three-level park extends most of the way down the west side of Manhattan, sandwiched between the Hudson River and beautiful brownstones. There are bike paths that wind though the park and playgrounds every few blocks. I always find it amazing how great New York is about creating and maintaining green space. While I was eating breakfast I saw crews cleaning the paths, blowing the sand from the sandboxes out of the playground area, and picking up trash from the edges of the streets. The whole park was immaculate and peaceful, even though there were bustling streets just one and two blocks away.

NYC October 2017-7

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

After my bagel and UWS wanderings, I made my way to Columbia University, grabbed coffee, and explored campus until I had to head to the airport. Campus was very pretty, but not what I expected. The buildings seemed to all be in different styles of architecture and were on different planes. I’m sure if I had been able to stay a little longer and walk around more the design may have made more sense. Despite the confusing planes, it was cool to walk off of busy streets with tall buildings onto a typical college campus. It didn’t feel like it was in the middle of NYC at all.

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

It was fun to explore new places and return to some of the places we went last time (because you can’t have too many Levain Bakery cookies). By the end my trip, I felt like I could navigate the city by myself. With each trip, I see new places and enjoy the city even more. I don’t have plans to go back anytime soon, but looking at these photos makes me want to book a ticket.

NYC October 2017 | www.passthecookies.com

charlottesville and richmond

At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about this post. It is a reminder that our plans for this trip took a sharp turn soon after we arrived, but also a reminder of the great trip we made out of plans b, c, and d. Months ago, before any news of protests came out, we planned a weekend trip to Charlottesville and the surrounding areas. We asked our UVA friends for their recommendations and put together a list of things we wanted to do, see, and eat. The prices for hotels and Airbnbs in the downtown area were pricier than we were expecting, so we decided to stay in a small town a bit outside of Charlottesville. This ended up being the biggest blessing, as we couldn’t have predicted our drastic change in itinerary, or the necessity to stay out of the city during the crazy weekend of protests.

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

Our original plans for the weekend included a winery, a day exploring UVA and downtown Charlottesville, and maybe a tour of Monticello, if we had time. The winery was our first stop when we arrived on Friday afternoon, and where we learned that we should stay away from Charlottesville on Saturday because of the violence expected at the protests. At the time, our plans for Saturday revolved around spending the entire day in downtown Charlottesville. We quickly rearranged things and booked our Monticello tours for a day sooner than expected, hoping to still be able to pop into Charlottesville for dinner in the evening.

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

After the winery, we stopped for dinner in Charlottesville and had a short chance to walk around UVA, which neither of us had ever visited. The campus was beautiful in the dusk lighting, but all around town extra security guards in highlighter yellow vests were patrolling the streets, restaurants were closing early, and residents were clearing out. People were truly afraid of what was to come. As we headed back to our hotel outside of town, news stories started popping up about the rallies that had already begun by the Jefferson statue where we had just been standing alone, not even thirty minutes prior.

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

We got an early start on Saturday with 9:00 tour of Monticello, which turned out to be a great way to spend the morning. We stayed as long as possible, taking in all of the tours that were included in the admissions ticket, including the guided house and garden tours, and a self-guided tour of the cellars and graveyard. There were many other people who were in the same boat as we were – just trying to stay out of the city – so an early start allowed us to beat the crowds and soak in the cooler temperatures. The visitors’ center was a short walk from Jefferson’s house through the trails, and was flanked by a museum, a great gift shop, and a cute café. In hindsight, I’m glad we had so much time to spend at Monticello. There was so much you could learn about Jefferson and his prized home.

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

As we drove down the mountain from Monticello, we saw signs for a pick-your-own orchard. With nothing else to do, we followed the signs to rows and rows of apple trees, peach trees, and grape vines. A cute general store perched on the hill, welcoming us with apple cider doughnuts and cookies, hard apple cider, and peach soft serve ice cream. We grabbed a bag and walked up to the peach grove, where the peaches were ready for picking. From our spot on the top of the mountain, we could look down over Charlottesville in the valley below, a helicopter circling above the streets. The interactions we had at this farm were so genuine. Like at Monticello, most people at this pick-your-own place were trying to keep their families out of Charlottesville during the protests. We conversed with Hispanic families, Muslim families, and African American families, many who were camped out on the ground with umbrellas for shade with plans to stay on the mountaintop until things calmed down in the town below.

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville | www.passthecookies.com

After seeing the news as the day and evening went on, our plans shifted even further and we decided that it would be best just to skip Charlottesville altogether. Instead, we used the extra time to stop in Richmond on our way home for a coffee date and some bakery hopping. Growing up, we only lived about 2 hours from Richmond, and drove through all the time on our way to visit friends and family, but we never stopped along our road trip or made a destination of it. As crazy as it is, this trip was my first time in Richmond!

A Weekend in Charlottesville and Richmond | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville and Richmond | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville and Richmond | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville and Richmond | www.passthecookies.com

We researched the best (read: cutest) coffee shops on our way through Virginia, and took recommendations from the baristas on the best bakeries in town. I find that sometimes you can do all of the research you want, but the local recommendations are the way to go. They didn’t disappoint. After a lavender latte we met up with my sister, who was in town for a wedding, at Sub Rosa, a wood-fired bakery. I’m convinced Sub Rosa is the best bakery in Richmond, which is totally biased since it is the only one we visited, but it was that good! They had more than five types of croissants and every single thing we tried was amazing. I think we need to make this a regular pit stop on our DC road trips. If you are in the Richmond area – try it! Pictured here are the salami and cheese croissant, the chocolate blueberry croissant, the fig and manchego croissant, and the raspberry and goat cheese croissant. We split an almond croissant between the three of us to take home as well and it was the most amazing almond croissant I have had outside of France.

A Weekend in Charlottesville and Richmond | www.passthecookies.com

A Weekend in Charlottesville and Richmond | www.passthecookies.com

We came home from our weekend saddened by the events in the city we planned to visit, but happy for the chance to focus on good company and the new places we would not have otherwise discovered. I hope to go back to Charlottesville soon to enjoy all the city has to offer.

blacksburg girls weekend

A few weekends ago, my mom and I drove up to visit my sister in Blacksburg. Despite having three girls in the family for almost 23 years, we had never taken a trip with just the girls before this! What were we thinking?! The excitement leading up to the weekend and the absolutely wonderful time we had together confirmed that we were crazy for not taking the time to plan a girls weekend before, and that we will absolutely be doing girls weekends more regularly. According to my mom, this will be at least an annual tradition, but I think she is hoping for more than once a year ;).

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

Personalized gift boxes, my talented sister’s cute chalkboard wall designs, homemade chocolate hazelnut babka, and pizza dough proofing in the kitchen greeted us when we arrived. All three of us went into the weekend with big plans to move my sister from one room to another in her shared house, decorate her new space, and take some time to have fun and relax together. The chalkboard depicts our weekend filled with homemade pizza, moving, yoga, coffee shops, street festival exploration, a winery tour, and brunch.

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

We quickly popped champagne and got started catching up and talking about our grand decorating plans. The whole weekend we joked that other people wouldn’t find moving and rearranging rooms a relaxing vacation, but we were all so excited about it. We’re a strange bunch, but having the same idea of fun is one reason our girls weekend was so great.

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

We stayed up late moving furniture and chatting both nights, and spent the morning soaking in the glorious mountain weather (aka no humidity and mid-70 temperatures) while we walked around the cute community craft festival with tea lattes in our post-yoga clothes. Does it get any better than that? I really don’t think so.

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

The winery was only a blip in our weekend, as we arrived for the tasting soon before the venue was closing, but the location was beautiful and a great excuse for us to get fancy.

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

Blacksburg Girls Weekend | www.passthecookies.com

It was the perfect weekend with some of my favorite people. I’m already excited to start planning the next trip with just the girls :)

los angeles part II

Welcome to the second installment of my Los Angeles trip! If you missed the first, check it out here.

On Sunday, our last day of the trip, we drove out to Santa Monica and up the Pacific Coast Highway 1 to Malibu, where we stopped and walked down the cliffs to the Pacific Ocean. I have been to the Pacific Coast in both San Francisco and San Diego, but the water in Malibu was much more clear and blue than I remembered it being in either of the other California cities. We spent our day wandering around cute towns and driving along the PCH1 with the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other.

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

The blooms in Malibu were unbelievable! Wouldn’t you love to have this as your doorway?! (more…)

los angeles part I

Last month I spent a long weekend in Los Angeles with three of my childhood friends. We all grew up at church together and have kept in touch as we have gone to different colleges and moved to different cities. Three of us live in cities and towns across North Carolina and our fourth friend has lived in Los Angeles for about two years now. We have been trying to make plans to visit her since she moved to California, but with four different schedules to juggle, it wasn’t easy. After two years, the announcement of a baby on the way for one of our lovely NC ladies kicked all of our booties into high gear. Sometimes all you need is a nonnegotiable timeline to get things done. ;)

LA-4

LA-3

Our trip was a quick one (we took an early flight and arrived in LA on Friday early afternoon and took an early flight out of LA on Monday morning), and we really only had two and a half days to fit things into our trip, but we made it work! Two things surprised me about LA: it was very chilly, especially for June, and there was no public transportation! I have always heard about LA traffic and how terrible it is, but I didn’t realize that they don’t have a good public transportation system! Every other large city I have visited in the US has some kind of public transportation, and as someone who commutes by bus every day it was shocking to me that LA doesn’t!

LA-2

LA-1

The temperature didn’t get above the mid-70s, with the classic West Coast lack of humidity. The low humidity felt nice, but left us layering sweaters and jackets when it got windy or when the sun went down. As I type this, the temperature is 93 with a heat index of 103 in North Carolina, so it was very different from what we were used to and expecting. 75 in LA did not feel like 75 in NC. It was beautiful, but unexpected, and honestly, a little chilly.

LA-10

LA-9

We spent some time wandering around Echo Park and eating at delicious local restaurants, but also made sure to hit up Shake Shack and see some of the Hollywood stars on our first night. In the few days we had in the city, I feel like we got a great view of a lot of areas, as we drove around different neighborhoods and up and down the mountain to Griffith Observatory. There was a huge event going on at Griffith Observatory the weekend we were there, so we didn’t get a chance to see the view from there, but we saw a beautiful sunset from the top of another mountain one night and over the water from the Santa Monica Pier another night.

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

One of our favorite places (hence all of the photos) was The Last Bookstore. It is a book-lover’s paradise. All four of us were immediately enamored and spent over an hour looking around at all of the different sections. If you are in LA, whether you like reading or not, this is a great place to check out. There are thrifted books that people have sold to the store (I got two books for $4 each!), and new books that have just been released. The combination is so unique because you can get great deals on books you recognize, but also see all of the current raves. The bookstore’s second floor is more artistic than the downstairs section. Books create tunnels and windows, local artists studios line one wall, and you can find old books sorted by color (fillers for those perfectly styled bookshelves).

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Los Angeles | www.passthecookies.com

Next up, Santa Monica and Malibu!

weekend in philadelphia

Wedding season is in full force, both in our lives and in this time of the year. We have attended three weddings in three states in the past six weeks, and have wedding festivities of some sort almost every weekend from now until the next wedding in mid-June. With Will’s medical school schedule being so out of our control, it can sometimes be difficult to plan these trips far enough in advance to buy reasonably priced plane tickets. So far, the weddings have fallen perfectly in line with his weekends off (how that happened, we still aren’t sure, but are oh so thankful), so we have been able to make some epic, quick-turnaround road trips out of these last couple of weekends. We have driven through eight states, crossed time zones, and had an absolutely wonderful time visiting new places, catching up with friends and family and celebrating new marriages. One of the weddings we recently attended was in Philadelphia, a city I had never visited.

Weekend in Philadelphia | www.passthecookies.com

I joked with Will about the daffodils in the window boxes everywhere. They bloomed in North Carolina almost a month earlier, so it was funny to see them just popping up on our weekend in Philadelphia.

Weekend in Philadelphia | www.passthecookies.com

Weekend in Philadelphia | www.passthecookies.com

I don’t have photos from the wedding itself, but the ceremony took place in one of the oldest Presbyterian churches in Philadelphia, established in 1768. As we walked around the history nerd in me loved thinking about how much history took place in the city and all of the notable figures in American history who lived there. We also talked about National Treasure scenes the entire time. That was kind of historical, right? ;)

We spent the night in a small AirBnB in the adorable Queen Village neighborhood. The quiet residential streets surrounding the apartment were lined with cobblestone streets, brick sidewalks and row houses, cute colorful doors, and flower boxes just beginning to bloom. I would definitely recommend staying here if you want to experience the charm of the city while still being close to most of the attractions.

Weekend in Philadelphia | www.passthecookies.com

Weekend in Philadelphia | www.passthecookies.com

Weekend in Philadelphia | www.passthecookies.com

We drove up for the wedding, but were lucky to be able to visit some of our wonderful college friends who now live in Philadelphia on our quick trip. They led us around many notable areas of Philadelphia as we walked from Queen Village to Old City, City Center and Rittenhouse Square. Though we were in Philadelphia for less than 24 hours I feel like we saw so much, thanks to our wonderful tour guides!

Weekend in Philadelphia | www.passthecookies.com

Weekend in Philadelphia | www.passthecookies.com

Weekend in Philadelphia | www.passthecookies.com

Where we stayed:
AirBnB in Queen Village

Where we ate:
Drinks at 2nd Story Brewing Company
Brunch at The Little Lion

What we saw*:
Independence Hall
Liberty Bell
Independence National Historical Park and Independence Mall
Reading Terminal Market – Apparently this is the place to get doughnuts. We’re marking it for our next visit!
Museum of the American Revolution – This was right across from our brunch spot and had just opened two days before we arrived! We didn’t have time to look around, but I would love to see it next time we visit.
City Hall
Cute cobblestone streets – There were many areas with these. We walked down a few adorable alleys that our friends had been to before (see the pictures above).

*We didn’t have time to go into any of these, except Reading Terminal Market, since we were in a time crunch, but we passed them and peeked in on our mini walking tour.

1 2 3 4