How To See The Grand Canyon In One Day

I am blessed that my work allows me to travel to new places pretty regularly. Even though my travels are spent working, short and long trips, it still is nice to be able to travel to parts of the country for research, supplier meetings, press checks, trainings, trade shows, and etc. I work for a company that I absolutely love, on a business that is both exciting and unique at the same time; I’ve learned so much in my 2 years there, more than I have ever learned in any of my jobs previously. Every year in August, the company that I work for hosts a distribution show in Las Vegas for our customers and partners. This show is always a nightmare because there’s so much work leading up to it, and when we finally get there,we are working the event for one whole week! It gets to be very exhausting, albeit fun at the same time.

My team and I normally fly in on Sunday, so we are there ready to rock and roll early Monday morning, but as always, I like to fly in a little bit early (usually an early AM flight), so I can do some sightseeing. Last year I flew in early Sunday morning, and managed to do a little pool day at the hotel before meeting up with my colleagues that very night for dinner. This year, I decided to fly in on Saturday instead because I wanted to see the deserts outside of Las Vegas and to see the Grand Canyons. I managed to convince one of my coworkers to come with me, so we both flew in together on Saturday, and got on our little mini vacation to the Grand Canyons that weekend.. and here I am, about to tell you all about it.

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Before I left, I did some research on the topic to ensure I make the most out of my 1-day trip. I came across this blog post by Indiana Jo, and the author shared some really good tips on how to make the best out of your 1-day trip to the Canyons.  However, I didn’t manage to do everything on the list because I also wanted to squeeze in a trip to Hoover Dam on the way back to Las Vegas, and I also wanted to visit my dear friend, whom I’ve known since 2005, since she now lives in Vegas too. So, in retrospect, my 1-day Canyon trip was more like a half-a day trip instead, which meant I had to improvise and make my very own list of things to see and do while I was out there this year.

In N Out

It is not at all surprising (to me) that my very first item on the to-do list is to go find an In N Out Burger. It is essentially the Chick-Fil-A of the West, which means it is just a regular fast food joint that serves pretty good burgers instead of chicken sandwiches and shoe string fries versus waffle fries. Their menu selection is very small, but behold, there is such a thing as the secret menu. I am a pretty straightforward eater, and got something off their standard menu, but I did get a little add-on from the secret menu as well. I ended up getting a Double Double Animal Style with french fries. Yum! We got there at a pretty good timing (11 AM), right when they opened, and right before the lunch rush. Phew!

Scenic Drive | Overlook Stops

I’ll have to admit that one of the best things on the drive out to the South Rim (read below to see why I chose this Rim), is the scenic drive. I didn’t realize how gorgeous it was going to be until we started driving. If you love the desert, you will find it absolutely beautiful out there! The multiple elevation points make it even more breathtaking because you get to see valleys after valleys and mountains after mountains.. all made from sand and rocks!

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I was quite the speedy driver, which meant I’m always driving in the fast lane. With that, I missed some really pretty scenic points because I couldn’t get on the exit ramp soon enough since I was always zooming through. So, please slow down so you don’t miss these lookout points like I did. On the way back to Vegas though, we managed to stop by one lookout point near Lake Mead, and it was beautiful! Not as gorgeous as on the way out of Vegas but still really nice.

How do you know which rim to visit?

When you decide to go to the Grand Canyons, there are 4 different rims / sides to choose from. There’s the North & South Rim, and Grand Canyon East & West.

The best rim for Las Vegas visitors is the West rim because it is closer to get to (a 45 minute drive), and it is known for the skywalk bridge. I didn’t choose this rim because it doesn’t seem like it offers a lot of viewpoints, therefore I decided to skip it. I do wish to go visit this rim one day and try out the skywalk eventually with R, because I’ll admit, it does look pretty cool. From their website, it looks like you can do other things here as well such as go zip lining, visit the Hualapai settlement and much more.

I chose to visit the South rim which is further to get to because it is in Arizona (about a 3.5 hour drive from Vegas), because I wanted to get the true Grand Canyon experience. The South Rim is the popular rim because it is where most movies are filmed, photos are taken, because it offers more than a dozen viewpoints. The South Rim also offers several trails that you can hike to see more of the Canyons while you are there. I thought that initially we will have time to hike the Bright Angel Trail, but even though it was a shorter trail, we didn’t have time to do that as well. I hope to come back with R and Alden one day so we can see more of this beauty.

Where To Stay?

There are several options as to where you can stay when visiting the South Rim. After my hours of research, I found 4 places that you can choose from ranging from furthest to nearest.

  1. Flagstaff, AZ
  2. Williams, AZ
  3. Tusayan, AZ
  4. Grand Canyon National Park

We chose to stay in Williams, AZ because Flagstaff was too far by my definition, even though it is only 30 minutes further from Williams. If you want to save more on hotels, going furthest will help you get to a pretty inexpensive hotel that are not as quite shady. Williams is a cute town about 49 miles away from the park, and it is situated near the historic route 66 highway. Because we traveled there during monsoon season (yes, there’s such a thing), it was raining when we got there and it was really cold. We didn’t get to walk around the town square, even though they have cute little shops and restaurants / bars, because it was raining and because we were tired. After arriving, we stayed in the hotel for about 1.5 hours while I do school work and then we headed out to dinner at South Rim Beer & Wine Garage. We got back to our hotel early and went to bed at 8:30 PM which was perfect because it was right around my bedtime anyways, on Eastern time. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express; Standard hotel, nice clean rooms and friendly staff.

Grand Canyon Park 

My short experience at Grand Canyon Park was unbelievable. We woke up early at 3:30 AM to make time for the 1-hour drive, in time to catch day break. It was freezing that morning! When we got there, there were already people gathered up at Mather’s Point waiting to see the sun come out. As soon as I parked the car, we jumped out and quickly huddled, along with a few others. I heard nothing but shuffling feet, whispering and saw nothing but some light from the horizon peaking. As soon as the sun came out, we were literally gasping. What a sight to see! We were there for about 2 hours and eventually left at 7 AM. It was hard to leave but we felt very fulfilled. Hope R and I can come here again sometime next year. It was really inexpensive to visit the park. We only had to pay $25 for the entrance fee. More info here.

Hoover Dam 

Our last stop before heading back into the city was the Hoover Dam. We did not do the guided tour because by the time we got there it was close to lunch time and we were already getting tired. We spent only about 30 minutes at the dam. We didn’t have to pay for parking because we were there for a short while and we decided not to park in the covered garage, but instead opted for the open parking spaces; They are scattered evenly around the dam area which was nice. Hoover Dam was such a cool experience – If I get to visit again, I’d probably want to do the tour to learn more about the history and take the elevators down but if I asked R, he’d say, “Why don’t you just Google?” – He does have a point!

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I know that this is probably not the best way to see all there is to see out on the West coast but I had a very fulfilling trip. Even though I was exhausted, I felt refreshed and ready to rock and roll at the show after my short little trip. Sometimes, you just have to take that extra 10 minute, 1 hour or 1 day and go do something you don’t normally do. I swear it will do you so much good inside!

Hope you enjoyed this post!

xoxo

Things To Do In Amsterdam / Recap

Hey guys,

So, if you guys follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed that I went across the pond for a quick-ish trip to the Netherlands early June. If you didn’t know I was away, well now you do.

R had to go on a work trip in Europe the last week of May (his company is based in Austria), and he surprised me with a trip to Amsterdam for my 30th birthday. It was AWESOME! I did not want to come back and before I left the city, I found myself looking at neighborhoods in Amsterdam to live in, and schools we could send Alden to, and not to mention, complete step-by-steps on how to move there as an expatriate. I know, I know.. I’m extra.

Schiphol airport, amsterdam airport

Before visiting Amsterdam, I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into or what to expect really because even though it is a popular place, it wasn’t on my list of top places to visit. I have always seen pictures of Amsterdam but never really looked at them, but when I arrived there, I fell in love. I know I am using this “love” term very loosely when it comes to travel, but I am telling you that this time it is for real. My trip to Amsterdam was my first time ever in Europe. I’ve had a few layovers in Sweden, but I never got the chance to visit, so this trip was enlightening to me. So now,  I can finally say that I’ve been to Europe and as always I am thankful to R who always helps me check things off my bucket-list. Right babe? 😉

My post today is going to be about the beautiful and historical Amsterdam. What to do, what to see, what to eat and some other travel trips from a girl less-traveled, and that is me!

Historic Buildings & Architecture

Amsterdam is a historic city, so just understand that being there already is an experience in itself. This is coming from a girl who has never really lived in a place that has a lot of architectural history, so when it comes to traveling to places with a lot of what I’d like to call, “old-time charm”, it always catches me in a daze.

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First photo in Amsterdam taken by my friend from her hotel room balcony!
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I love the greens on the outer walls of this building.

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I moved to the US in 2005 and I moved from the buzzing city life to a life on the beach in Florida. From there, I moved to Atlanta but I never lived downtown because I couldn’t justify paying high rent for an apartment and also because I have always worked outside the city center. With that said, I am now used to seeing the usual American suburban towns or neighborhoods that are typically newer built and most of the time, the buildings are all cookie-cutter and look exactly the same; You can be in any part of the country and still find yourself in a standard shopping plaza, which will house your typical grocery store, an urgent care, a nail salon, a couple fast casual restaurants, and a UPS store. Sometimes, you may get lucky with a Starbucks or a cool Mexican restaurant with an outdoor seating area, but most of the time, everything looks typically the same. So, as I was saying, being in Amsterdam itself was a cool experience to me because it was just charming and aesthetically pleasing.

 

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When exploring the city, you’ll notice that the rowed buildings tilt forward, lean to the side or even have gaps in between. It is because these rows / buildings were built on wooden piles since Amsterdam is a city built on water, and naturally after  hundreds of years, they deteriorate. When I think about this, it brings me back to the episode on How I Met Your Mother, when Lilly and Marshall bought their first condo and realized that their building was tilted. They found out by accident when they placed a ball on the floor and realized that the ball kept rolling to the other side of the room because the floors were not even, which drove Marshall crazy! Can you guys imagine living in a house like that?

 

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Museums & Experiences

To get a glimpse into what these homes look and feel like on the inside, you can head on over to the Anne Frank House Museum. I am so glad that we took advantage of this and visited the museum – It was such a humbling experience. The tour itself did not take very long; I want to say it was about 30 – 45 minutes. We got a later reservation on a Friday night at 8 PM since R didn’t come in until late afternoon from Austria, while I arrived early that morning. It felt late when we left the hotel to go to the Anne Frank House but the long summer days definitely helped because day time was much longer. (Side note: It did get pretty cold at night, so make sure to wear / bring a jacket).

Just to give you a background on Anne Frank if you haven’t yet read her diary, she was one of the million Jews that were murdered during the Holocaust. Anne and her family lived behind a bookcase where her father used to work, in a place called the Secret Annex and during their hiding, Anne wrote in her diary almost daily for 2 years before they were found and brought to the concentration camps. I read her diary when I was younger and to be able to experience the crammed living quarters in which Anne lived in, was so humbling. I remember being there for only 30 – 45 minutes but I almost passed out due to claustrophobia; I cannot imagine what it would’ve been like to live there – My heart goes out to all the victims of the Holocaust.

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Entrance to the Secret Annex (Before they yelled at us for taking photos)
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My handsome

TIP: Buy your tickets in advance and and go for an early morning or a late evening time slot. We went to a late night one and it was less crowded but still there were many people and we got stuck in human-traffic in the house due to the volume and I thought I was going to pass out because.. claustrophobiaTickets

There are many other museums and experiences you can go to while in Amsterdam such as the Rijkmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum & the Heineken Experience, but we did not visit any of them because we’re not big fans of crowds. We actually tried to get tickets to visit the Van Gogh Museum but it was sold out for the weekend. See what happens when you fail to plan?

 

A photo under the arch at The Rijskmuseum
Babe, pics please
He was playing Young & Beautiful by Lana Del Rey
Me and my bestie!
The Pink House
It was National Best Friend Day

 

I AMSTERDAM sign

If you Google “Most photographed place in Amsterdam”, I am pretty sure you will come across the“I Amsterdam” sign, and visiting this is a no-brainer. It is free and it is located in front of the Rijksmuseum and near to the Heineken experience. It’s a pretty cool place just for a photo op but man, was it super packed! We got there sometime during noon and if I have to go back there again, I’ll probably opt to go in the morning or evening to stay away from the crowds. That way I can get more Insta-worthy shots.

 

The guy is checking us out
Some guy tried to get up here like R but they failed
R for .. ?

 

Rembrandtplein Square

Where to Stay?

I loved the Rembrandtplein area, which is also where we chose to stay while in Amsterdam. I didn’t think that we purposely planned to get a hotel outside of the Centraal area, but it was nice that we did because Amsterdam Centraal was a zoo (I told you we have an aversion to crowds). We stayed on Linnaeustraat, which was a streetcar away to the shopping and nightlife district in Rembrandt square and it could have not been more perfect place to stay in. From a location standpoint, I was able to travel from Schiphol airport by myself to our hotel, and by just one train. (Muiderpoort station). After I got off the train, I walked about 2 blocks down to Linnaeustraat street and the hotel was right there to my left. Our hotel also had easy access to the streetcars, which was definitely a plus as well.

 

The cleanest & neatest our room ever was
SO COZY
How do they know we like shoes?
The wall art in Feeya’s room

The Manor Amsterdam  – Read my review on TripAdvisor.

Where to shop?

I didn’t go crazy with shopping in Amsterdam but I did buy a few things. I felt like the H&M there was much better than the ones here in the States. Even their Zara was better too – Well, duh.. Europe. Another store that I loved exploring was Primark. I get it guys. Things are very affordable there, and they had literally anything and everything for everyone there! And, should I mention once again that they are cheap? I bought a cute skirt from there, a crop top, a sweater for Alden, and R got himself a backpack that he now uses for work. Of course, Ryan and I hit-up H&M too. I loved that their H&M store has a HOME section!! Wish I lived there!

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Strolling in Rembrandt Square in the rain

Night scene

I forgot to mention that one of my best friends from high school met up with us while we were there in Amsterdam and we had such a BLAST. Feeya made the trip even more better because of her craziness and positive energy. It was natural that the three of us, hit up a club in Amsterdam. This was of course, my idea. I love dancing! Even if I am no good at it. I do admit that I only like to go for a short time because I go to bed so early these days. The club we went to was Club Escape, and it was AWESOME. Awesome because, there is a legit light show in the main room, and indoor smoking is not allowed (Thank god! – There are smoking rooms provided indoors though for you smokers) – and like any big clubs, there are several rooms you can go to that play different types of music. For some reason, we ended up in the hip hop room and we soon found out that they LOVE to play throwback music. We thought it was a throwback night or something until we went to another club the next night and the playlist there was almost identical to the one in Escape. Hysterical. They were bumping to Ignition by R. Kelly. I thought I was back in the early 2000s.

Another thing that we did while we were there, was that we went to the Icebar. It was a-ok. I thought it was going to be a bar made from ice that people go to for fun (which it was) but it was more of an attraction versus an actual hang-out spot. Oh, and one last mention, the red light district! It was very surprising to see how clean the district was. There were so many people (sorry I keep bringing up crowds.. I hate crowds) and I didn’t feel creeped out at all!

 

Waiting for our “cruise” to start at the Ice Bar

 

Floating Flower Market – Bloemenmarkt

Also near Rembrandt square, you will find the famous Bloemenmarkt, which is a floating flower market. I really wanted to go see their tulip gardens outside the city center but we were not in season for it, therefore did not get to experience it. However, if you love flowers, you should definitely check out the floating market. They had all types of beautiful blooms there in varying colors and they were just so pretty! Did you know that Netherlands is one of the biggest countries that export seeds and flowers to other countries? I didn’t buy any because I was traveling, but sigh.. I wish I did!

 

Look at the roof! Oh, and R! =)
A girl & flowers
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Outside view of the Bloemenmarkt

 

Find a Windmill – De Gooyer

Another thing that was on our list was to find a windmill. There are not many of them scattered through the city but R was able to find one! The one that we went to is the De Gooyer windmill which is one of the oldest windmills in the Netherlands.

 

This is the photo for your computer desktop
R & Mush
We were here!

 

Ride A Bike 

I know that it is intimidating to ride a bike in Amsterdam but it is by far, the BEST way to get around over there. R and I made the mistake of not going on the bike the first couple of days we were there, but when we finally did, we got to see so much more! Even though the streetcar/ tram is convenient, there’s just more waiting on that versus just hopping on the bike and walking around to get to places. I felt like the bike there is way better than my bike here, and even though it isn’t a typical road bike, it felt effortless all around. Just beware of other bikers though; They’re pretty aggressive and they are not afraid to cuss you out! Also, don’t be afraid of getting hit by buses and trams or cars because technically, they have to stop for you. So, what are you waiting for? Get on that bike!

 

I swear my face looked like that the entire time, and R is screaming “Look at the road!”
Love you, mean it
Ryan likes this pic

 

TIP: Rent your bikes from your hotel. It was so easy to drop it off right then and there and not having to worry about traveling to a rental place to drop it off at the end of your long exhausting day. The bikes we rented came with locks too, which was convenient. You will be a pro at finding places to park your bike and if you are cycling in a shopping district, you’d come across the famous “No bike zone” stickers that they place in alleyways, etc. So fun!

 

Babe, I don’t think we can ride our bikes here
When you give me the GPS, we end up lost

 

Go To Local Parks

Because of our choice in mode of transportation above, we got to see so much more and do more things without feeling super exhausted. We were very lucky also that the weather was cooperating with us as well. On one of our afternoons there, we went to a local park not too far away from our hotel and it was the cutest sight! Over there, we saw many locals with families bring their kids out to play, there was an ice-cream man selling ice cream from his bike and in the gazebo, there was a group of older men and women who were dancing and enjoying a salsa & cha-cha session with their peers. It was a picturesque day!

 

There were no mosquitoes or bugs out here!
I love us
Clearly we love us too
Asian gang sign
Seriously, the cutest sight!

 

Coffee Shops

Of course I had to add this to the list. If you like to engage in recreational marijuana activities, there are obviously plenty of coffee shops to go to. I hated the smell but you kind of get used to the smell after a while. I walked in one coffee shop and I was very surprised to see that it is actually very clean and systematic. They also do not serve alcohol there; Just coffee and other beverages instead. It definitely was an interesting experience. Sorry, no pictures =) I’m disappointed I didn’t take photos of the coffee shops from the outside!

Rooftop Bars & Restaurants

As always, when visiting a new place, we always like to search for rooftop restaurants or bars because the view is always just so scenic from the top of a building. We went to a bar in Volkshotel, which I believe was a hotel R wanted to get us to stay in at first but had no availability, and it was so quirky and fun. This bar also had a spa in one of their top floor levels too; Super interesting! We were there in time to watch the sunset (9-ish PM), and it was all around just good feels. Loved it!

 

Locals galore
Sunset vibes
We fit in, therefore we should move here
Indoor portion of the rooftop bar
A little bubbly can’t hurt nobody

 

Eat, Eat, Eat

I could not explain how well fed I am while I was in the Netherlands. They have some really nice restaurants that are equally diverse. I remembered one of our best meals was actually had was on our last dinner there at an Indian restaurant. It was BEYOND amazing. Enjoy my food snaps as follows.

 

Tempo Doeloe Indonesian Restaurant – Anthony Bourdain has dined here before!
Two Asian girls looking for Asian food
This was actually Feeya’s lunch one day
Facetiming Alden & Mom

 

And, more food…

 

The best Indian food!
I love me some Shrimp Gambas
He spoils me with food
My homemade veggie gnocchi. So good!
R’s Fish

 

And more…

 

At Cafe Spargo by our hotel
They like their tuna with kechup

Italian

Salmon Capraccio

Coffee break
Open faced tuna sandwich

 

With all of that said…

There you have my full list of things that I recommend doing/seeing in Amsterdam; I am sure there are more than these things you can do over there, and perhaps we get to back to experience more things but for a short trip, we definitely had a pretty fulfilling vacation there. We enjoyed Amsterdam so much that we skipped our plan on the last day to visit Brussels, Belgium, and spent another day there instead. Even though it was an opportunity missed, I am sure there will be plenty of next times for us in the future.

This is the longest time I have spent writing and crafting a travel post so I hope you enjoyed it!!

Like my clogs?
R imitating my poses
Last night at the neighborhood Cafe. Their playlist that night was super right on!
We’re going to miss this place!

 

xoxo

On Cloud Williams

I have been meaning to share with you all some wedding updates as you may know that R & I are finally tying the knot (with an actual wedding) this October! We are less than 4 weeks away to one of the biggest days of our lives and we seriously cannot wait! Wedding planning has been pretty easy going at first but everything picked up in the last two months, so it definitely has been very hectic too.

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We chose to get married in October because we both wanted a fall wedding since the weather will be tolerable and nice here in Atlanta. October 12th seems to be the perfect date because we are getting married on a Friday (to cut costs since most venue are twice the price for Saturday weddings), and I think it works out really well because the 13th is my late-daddy’s birthday.

Initially, we wanted to have a destination wedding, but that didn’t pan out, so for the longest time we wanted to get married in Savannah, GA. However, the venues that we liked there were no longer doing weddings and it would’ve been too much to coordinate especially with getting our families there since they are coming from out-of-state, so we decided to get married here in Atlanta itself.

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We are having a very small wedding with about 75 guests only. Our ceremony will be outdoors in a beautiful garden and our reception will be indoors in a glass ball-room, which essentially is a ballroom with ceiling high windows that overlooks the lush gardens outside. Our venue is perfect because it is romantic, intimate, has an indoor-outdoor feel, and is strategically located. Our venue is doing most of the decor planning for us as well as catering, so that is a huge relief. They will also provide the servers, security, clean-up crew and a wedding coordinator so we don’t have to worry about that operational logistics day-off. We get to customize & personalize our decor with them (which I am so excited to see how it turns out), and we also have flexibility to do our welcome table decor and some other miscellaneous things that is not included in their services as well. Can’t wait for the big reveal.

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Just to give you an idea of a “theme” for our wedding, we don’t actually have one but if you need to know, the vision I have for this wedding is a glam romance affair. My colors are neutrals with ivory, white, blush pink & champagne. I wanted the soft colors because I think that you can never go wrong with those classics. I think that the variation in pinks that I have throughout the decor, attire, etc. will be nice because I didn’t want a matchy-matchy wedding; Having the variations will add some richness and character to the overall feel. I am hoping we nail this because I will be disappointed if they don’t.

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We will also have a very small wedding party with 3 groomsmen, 3 bridesmaids, 2 flower girls and Alden our ring-bearer. Let’s hope Alden naps the day of and doesn’t throw a tantrum in the processional. To read-up on my girls who will be standing with me, go to our website here.

Anyways, this is about how far I will share with you so far, but just know how much I can’t wait for this day! What do you all think of our engagement photos? They are captured by the most talented, Michael Yang and his site is here.

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October 12th can’t come sooner!

xoxo

 

 

Peep Toe Booties & Burgundy Tights

Hi Loves,

So, as I mentioned previously, Ryan buys all my shoes for me. Not just pay for them, but he chooses them for me too. He has such a great eye and his selections have been on point every single time. I am wearing these peep toe booties by Steve Madden (link here) that he bought from DSW. We LOVE DSW – Great place, great shoes & great value.

Continue reading “Peep Toe Booties & Burgundy Tights”

Black Mini & Long Soft Cardigan

Hi All,

Ok so my life has been super quiet all of a sudden now because R is back at work. Because of that I have been having these true stay at home mom experiences with Alden and it’s been interesting to say the least. I should really be putting all my laundry away but he is napping now and I haven’t blogged in a week so I needed to do it or I’ll get rusty on the keyboard.

Top knots & glasses all day

Yesterday Alden and I went out running errands again. On Monday we went to the Office of Vital Records to get his birth certificate done and yesterday I had to return something I purchased back at the mall because it was too small. We also went to Babies R Us to pick up a few more essentials for the house.

Obsessed with these stackable Alex & Ani bangles I have on

It was such a hot day yesterday so I just wore my black mini dress and paired it with a long soft cardigan. I didn’t have the time to do my hair so up it went in a top knot. I love wearing dresses like this and I should really invest in more because it is easy and fuss free.

Repeat offender of the dress and cardi but not a repeat in this combo. 😉

Hope you guys had a great week and an even greater weekend. I have one full week until I get back to work. Omg!! Panicking right now!!

Oops, my shoes are missing but I wore a pair of black sandals with this and just the diaper bag as my trusted purse.

Xoxo