What to Wear: Active Vacation

I’ve already mentioned my affinity for minimal makeup while traveling – which tends to work when I go places that are either kid-focused (so who cares) or outdoors focused. We’re taking a trip later this year that will be part city – part outdoor mecca. Since we’ll have the kids, definitely not a lot of date nights planned, but there will be hiking, running, maybe some stand-up paddle boarding.  This is such a dream for me, because every time an Athleta catalog arrives I find myself wishing I could do more yoga on top of mountains. Nevermind that I can’t really do yoga, and there are no mountains in Texas. But here it is! An opportunity for me to have an Athleta vacation with kids! Of course, I’ll let you know how that really turns out once it happens, but for now, I can dream.

So here are my favorite clothes right now for an active vacation…you know, if you’re tired of black yoga pants and black tank tops…

Athleta Clothes

1. Uppercut Tank | 2. All About It Tropical Bralette | 3. Chain Print Chi Tank | 4. Palms Stellar Short | 5. Shirred Band Swim Short | 6. Palm Chaturanga Capri

– Stassja

PS – Athleta did not give me anything fun for writing these nice things – I just love their clothes. 🙂

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Runners High is Real: Half Marathon Bucket List

I’ve been running for a long time – ten years to be exact. I’ve run a few races, ranging from 5k to half marathon in length, and I’ve always enjoyed it. However, recently I’ve really become addicted to racing – not just running around my neighborhood for stress relief, but running amongst a group of other people who also like to run including free bananas at the finish. This has been encouraged by some friends of mine and a commitment I made to run 6 races this year. Although I sometimes go on my own, we’ve had success taking the kids to these races – especially where they allow strollers. One person pushes the double stroller and the other person runs – it works out really well and is a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

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But what about running while traveling? Before I had kids, this was something Mark and I did in every city. Wake up, put on the running clothes and just explore. Bring some cash for some coffee or lunch and eventually return to the hotel for a shower. In fact, when we get a weekend away, we always make this a part of our agenda as it’s sort of our “travel thing”. If you are traveling on your own or with friends, I highly suggest it – such a great way to get to know a place.

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With kids, things are a bit different. You value predictability and flexibility. So I haven’t done many races lately that require travel, but I’m definitely interested in getting back out there – either by myself, or with some great support to watch the kids while I (or Mark and I) run. I am sure there are tons of 5K / 10Ks but somehow the half marathon seems like the perfect distance to warrant a getaway…so here are a few half marathons I’d like to do in the future…

Walt Disney World Races – I’m not super picky here, but hoping I can catch the Princess Half next year – that will be a fun one and I can plan my family vacation around it.

Any of the half marathons in the wine country..this one in Napa looks nice.

The Philadelphia half marathon since last time I signed up I was too sick to run.

How about a Vancouver race – and it’s a Rock n Roll one which promises to be fun.

I’ve always wanted to see Jackson Hole – so why not run it?

The Flying Pirate Half Marathon in the Outer Banks because, um, pirates – and also – family vacation.

Another Ragnar Relay because my first one was seriously amazing (see evidence below).

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Anyone have recommendations for other races worth traveling for?

– Stassja

Weekly Wanderlust: London

One of the fun things about this site has been diving into all the old pictures from travels either before we were married, or before we had kids. I mean, these are legitimate digital pics – no DSLRs or smartphone cameras here! Does anyone still have a digital camera nowadays?

Anyway this week’s wanderlust post is less…nature oriented. Sometimes you just feel the need to be in a big city, with so many things to do. Maybe a musical, or a long walk around the city ending at the pub. It’s been a while since we’ve been to one of these, because, obviously they are less kid-friendly than say the beach or Disney World. But I think we’re close to visiting Europe again soon – it’s actually been many years since we’ve gone for vacation – last time was our honeymoon! So here’s to some culture, some landmarks, and some bloody fun.

Happy weekend everyone!

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P.S. If you want to see more of this girl’s amazing London wedding click here – I’m so so so sad I missed it – must go to London soon!! And now for some true photographs from people who have been there more recently than me!

London

Source: Here

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Source: Here

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Source: Here

– Stassja

Close to Home: Fun with Kids in Houston

Is anyone else feeling ready for winter to be over? We had a rainy weekend (which I know, is better than snow) and it made me feel a bit anxious to do something. It probably doesn’t help that we just came back from vacation (WDW, more on that later), but I found myself craving something fun to do. But alas, South Africa is not in the cards right now so I wanted to share our list of close to home activities that are on our agenda for the spring.

  • Houston Zoo – such an obvious one, and you would think it would get old, but it’s actually really peaceful (trick: get there when it opens like we do) and it’s a good two hours of entertainment, and you spend it outside. If you’re hungry for lunch, grab some food at the Giraffe House and eat on the patio with the giraffes. Food is decent…and did I mention the giraffes?

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  • Farm Fun – There are several in the greater Houston area but the one by us is Blessington Farms – we’ve done the pumpkin patch, strawberry picking, and just the “farm funland”. It is heaven for toddlers, especially little (and big) boys who like trucks. Oh and the giant slides are fun too.

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  • Hiking and/or Camping – Our favorite spot to overnight camp is Huntsville and we hope to make it there this season. We’ve taken Nolan before, but it was a few years ago. A few weekends ago we “practiced” in our backyard by setting up a tent and it was a resounding success with Nolan. I think Annelise may be another issue, but we’re willing to give it a go just to get away for a weekend. Even if we don’t make it camping, I forsee more backyard tent time & some hiking in Huntsville around the lake. We have to practice using the hiking backpack with Annelise for our upcoming trip to Bend Oregon (yay, more hiking!).
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Bayou Bend hiking – before we realized that gators. were. everywhere.

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Huntsville State Park in the winter. Perfect.

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Somerville State Park

  • No Label Brewery – Just because it’s not for your kids, doesn’t mean they can’t have fun. We went here after work on a Friday with a few other families and the kids played together with toys / soccer balls and we drank beer. We will definitely be doing this one again.
  • The Beach – you would think we go here more often, but we actually almost never go – which is sad, given how close it is. We’re going to try to do more of that this year.
  • And of course, parks, parks and more parks. Our kids current favorite is “the train park” – Katy Playstation Park, but really anything with a slide is acceptable.

houstonpost 058What are your favorite Houston things to do? Please share, always looking for ideas!

– Stassja

Weekly Wanderlust: Northern California

Someone suggested to me this week that we run the Nike women’s half marathon in San Francisco and ever since, all I can think about is that cool breeze off the rocky coast of Northern California. Mark and I took a trip here several years ago, and it is still one of our best trips – a four day weekend full of memories. We’ve talked about going to Big Sur with the kids when they get a bit older and we have this dreamy love of that area of the country that’s really unfulfilled in Texas.

So this is my weekly wanderlust…tall trees, rocky beaches, breezy weather (perfect for lightweight running jackets and ponytails)…oh to be there with that fresh air…

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Black Sand Beaches on the Lost Coast

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King Range Mountains (and more black sand) – That’s me in the distance!

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the redwoods!

Redwoods in Humboldt County

– Stassja

Weekly Wanderlust: St. Thomas

It’s getting closer to spring break, where so many of my coworkers and friends will travel to fun places with their kids. A pretty popular place this time of year is Mexico – which just made me think of the Caribbean and the amazing beaches. So I’ve been dreaming of St. Thomas a bit – and the beaches that were total perfection.

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stthomas 047All pictures taken by me while vacationing several years ago – which is why you know it’s so beautiful despite my photography skills! I’ve heard St. John is amazing as well…anyone else need a sunny break from winter weather?

– Stassja

72 Hours: New Orleans

For those of you who live in the south, you may know it’s Mardi Gras season. And Mardi Gras makes me think of New Orleans. New Orleans is a special place that manages to combine an old world feel, culture, and sin in such a graceful way. Anyone who’s lived within a 6 hour drive from New Orleans has probably been there, been to Bourbon street and seen that carefree, fun, and yes, dirty side of New Orleans. However, did you know there’s so much more? I won’t pretend to be an expert, but we did have a pretty awesome trip there a few years ago, and can’t wait to go back for a long weekend. Here’s your 72 hours itinerary for The Big Easy.

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Day 1: Watch Out New Orleans Here We Come!

If you’re driving, you probably think it’s closer than it is. And rush hour matters. So, here are a few ways to break up your trip – all of which involve eating and drinking, of course.

  • Stop for legitimate boudin somewhere in Louisiana (The Boudin Map).
  • Eat some dinner at Parrains in Baton Rouge for true cajun seafood.
  • Arrive at your hotel in New Orleans – we stayed at the W French Quarter this time, but we have also used Priceline to get deals on rooms with much success.
  • After freshening up a bit, head to SoBou in the hotel for an amazing craft cocktail.
  • If you’re up for some bar hopping, also try the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone.
  • If you’d rather try something else, the Haunted Tours are pretty fun – I recommend the French Quarter ghosts walking tour.
  • Head back to your hotel to pass out, because you have kids, and staying up past 1am is just not your thing anymore.
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Carousel Bar – Click for photo source

Day 2: Walk it Off

New Orleans is such a great walking city. We went in August, so definitely very hot (not that different from Houston), but we still loved to walk around and explore. There’s also pretty decent public transportation / bus service so you don’t need to take cabs everywhere if you’re willing to put in the effort to figure it out.

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  • When you stumble out of bed, head directly to Cafe du Monde at French Market for the well known beignets, coffee that looks (and tastes) like mud, and overall tourist experience. (Note: If you are willing to stand awkwardly inside, waiting on someone to get up, you’ll get a table faster.)
  • Walk around the French Quarter or head over to the Garden District for some shopping. Since New Orleans is really a nighttime place, this is also a good time to visit Harrahs (if gambling is your thing) or head just out of town to Visit a Plantation.
  • Head back to the room to take a nap / freshen up and prepare for your second night out in the Arts / Warehouse District
  • Start your evening with some wine at W.I.N.O. where they have wine on tap (yes, it’s true).
  • Walk down the street to Cochon for dinner – amazing food and fun atmosphere.

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Day 3: Music and Art

Much like Vegas, New Orleans, depending on your pace, can make you feel a bit pickled by Day 3. So start off your day with some exercise to get the blood flowing and get ready for a slower paced day of shopping the art galleries and live music.

  • Head out for a run (earlier is better if you’re there on the summer). We typically run down Canal Street to the Riverwalk and then just explore from there. Stay around the French Quarter area for some good people watching and easy navigation.
  • Now that you’re ready, go get your first meal of the day – maybe Mothers or if you want something simpler, there are tons of cafes and coffee shops in the French Quarter.
  • Plan to walk around on Royal street to check out the art galleries and fun shops. If you’re there in August, consider going on Dirty Linen Night (we did!) where everyone wears their white linens from the previous weekend and the shops stay open late. It was really nice and fun and was a different side of New Orleans than the neighboring Bourbon street.
  • Once it’s late into the evening, walk over to Frenchman Street. Frenchman Street is known for live music, so you can’t go wrong just picking a place and walking in. We chose d.b.a and stumbled upon some amazing jazz and good beer. It was fantastic.
  • Skipped dinner? Need a midnight snack? Need more soul food in your life? Try Praline Connection.
  • Hail a cab back to the hotel to get a few hours of sleep before heading home.

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Just remembering all these fun things makes me want to go back! Guess we’ll be planning a trip soon.

– Stassja