I love Lago di Como

May 6th 2014 06:06:42 pm

Lago di Como

We booked our three-night stay in Varenna on Lake Como as a planned vacation from our vacation… and it worked out exactly as planned. We had a wonderful, relaxing time!

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We had originally planned to go to Cinque Terre instead of Lake Como, but it turned out to be an Italian holiday weekend and all of the hotels there were already booked. Usually, Lake Como wouldn’t have great weather this time of year (which means hotels were available) but we lucked out and had two perfect days of sun and amazing views.

Varenna, Italy

Varenna was definitely one of my favorite stops of the whole trip. It was quiet, with no tourist crowds, which had gotten very exhausting in the bigger cities. We stayed at a wonderful, small hotel in a room with our own terrace with stunning views of the lake and mountains. Plus, we had my favorite meals of the trip there at Restaurant La Vista.

La Vista octopus salad

14107056093_eed9cff719_bIf you are ever in Lake Como, you must go to La Vista! The food was amazing (the octopus salad was my favorite) and the staff were so very nice and welcoming. It was fancy, but totally comfortable. It is also located basically IN the water of Lake Como and has spectacular views. We ate inside on our first night and then went back on our third night in Varenna and sat on their terrace. It was so beautiful and fun! They bring out blankets for you when it gets cold after the sun goes down so that you can stay and take your time enjoying dessert. So cute! Travis and I joke that La Vista is now my most favorite restaurant in the world… but it isn’t really a joke. I think it is the truth! We had such wonderful, romantic, three-hour dinners there — it was perfect.

Lake Como sunset

Hitting up so many amazing, but crowded tourist sites all over Italy was tiring, and we knew we wanted to relax in Varenna, but we couldn’t pass up hiking in the Alps and checking out the local castle, Castello di Vezio. It was a very small castle compared to many we visited, but you could tell that it was cared for well. There was a falconry at the castle and they let the birds out for us to see. I fell in love with a cute, white owl. There was also a reptile exhibit, a sculpture garden, and strange chalk ghosts that are made each year and then slowly deteriorate. Odd, but definitely a really unique and special place. We had fun exploring the grounds.

Castello di Vezio

We continued hiking to find a nearby waterfall. It was very impressive. So loud and fast! The water was very cold since it was coming down from the Alps. It acted as a type of air conditioner and cooled the surrounding area. I drank some of the water out of a spout that was set up — it was refreshing! Then, we hiked back to town and bought lunch at the local farmer’s market. For dinner we had simple pizza and gelato. Then we turned in early and enjoyed our hotel room balcony.

Varenna, Lake Como

On our second full day we took the water ferry to Bellagio across the lake. It is a bigger town. It was more crowded, with more shops and restaurants. I liked Varenna better, so after some gelato and a rest at a water side cafe, we headed back “home.” We decided spur of the moment to go back to La Vista for dinner… and I am so glad we did! Such a great night!

ferry to Bellagio

Our entire stay in Varenna was relaxing and magical. I had been cranky while we were traveling there, but the beautiful views turned my mood around as soon as we got off the train. I had a wonderful time. I doubt it will actually happen, but we are already talking about returning someday…

Castello di Vezio

Funny Side Note: We relied heavily on Rick Steves’ guidebooks and therefore ended up surrounded by other tourists who did the same. We joked that whenever we heard someone speaking English, they were talking about Rick Steves… well, in Varenna we actually ran into one of his tour groups!! He wasn’t leading it, but it was definitely his program. We overheard a few couples talking about it at dinner… they had all been on multiple Rick Steves tours! Biggest revelation: Rick Steves’ son doesn’t wear a money belt!! The tour participants really though that was wild. haha!

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We are still working on uploading and organizing our insane amount of photos. I plan to curate a much more manageable “highlight reel,” but for now you can view them all in my Europe 2014 Flickr Album. Travis and I took more than 2,000 photos EACH. Gah!

Read Travis’ posts about Varenna HERE and HERE.

2 Comments » Categories: Feeling Happy, love, Travel

Eiffel Tower – wow!

Apr 30th 2014 03:21:03 am

eiffeltower

We made it to Paris! Our final travel destination.

I’m still working on my blog posts about Florence, Lake Como, and Switzerland, but I just couldn’t wait to share these quick photos of the Eiffel Tower as seen from our hotel room.

It is so exciting to be here! (Even if we are a little exhausted from all the travel.)

1 Comment » Categories: Feeling Happy, Travel

one little word 2014

Jan 6th 2014 04:47:25 pm

optimism

My word for 2014 is optimism.

Officially defined as “hopefulness and confidence about the future,” I am going to define it even more generally… as in, everything will be ok. Trust that everything will be ok. Why think differently?

I will admit that I am an unrelenting, unapologetic optimist, especially when it comes to the wider world. But that doesn’t mean I am always feeling positive, especially when it comes to myself. I accomplished some big things in 2013 — I gave up coffee, completed a 101-day run streak, and ran my fastest ever marathon — measurable things that should make me feel good. And yet… I don’t think absolute/quantifiable goals are the key to my happiness and inner peace.

So… I refuse to make any resolutions for 2014. My resolution is to NOT hold myself to any absolutes. No numbers, no measuring, no specific goals. Just day-to-day optimism. Faith in myself and my ability to do what is right for me and my own happiness. That is a big step! We’ll see where it takes me…

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My past words:

2013: sweetness
2012: explore
2011: peace
2010: wonder
2009: busy
2008: hope

What is your one little word for 2014?

4 Comments » Categories: Feeling Happy

love + light + peace

Dec 25th 2013 08:09:43 am

christmas2013

Merry Christmas!!

Travis and I are in Brooklyn this year. We are missing our families, but we are very thankful that we get to spend so much fun time together. …and with Crusher, of course!

We’ve tried our best to have a NYC Christmas this year. We went to a Broadway play, saw the Rockefeller Christmas tree, bought our own real tree for our apartment, went shopping and to see Santa at Bloomingdales, and went to a joy and peace-filled Christmas Eve service last night. It has been a good, quiet season.

christmasjammies

We hope you have a wonderful holiday and beautiful end to 2013. Crusher hopes he doesn’t have to wear anymore Christmas jammies!

xoxo

No Comments » Categories: Christmas, Family, Feeling Happy, holidays, love

Brooklyn Marathon

Nov 18th 2013 02:14:46 pm

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ouch. I am very sore. And very happy.

How did I even end up running the Brooklyn Marathon yesterday?? A year ago, when NYC was cancelled, Travis and I made a mad dash to get signed up for an alternative race. NYCRuns had hoped to be able to allow more people in the 2012 Brooklyn Marathon. We signed up, but the plans to expand the field fell through. Bummer. Everyone who had signed up could transfer their entry to 2013. But even though I was registered for over a year, I wasn’t ever totally convinced that I would actually run it…

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The three marathons that secured our membership in Marathon Maniacs earlier this year were plenty for me. I didn’t NEED to train for another fall race. But I guess I was curious to see what I could do. To see if my personal best time at Philly a year ago was a one-time thing and/or if I could consistently run sub-5-hour marathons.

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I trained on my own. I mean, I am participating in the Winter Team in Training season (it is great!) but my long marathon training runs were done solo. I completed both a 19-mile and a 20-mile run completely on my own leading up to this race. I have never done that before. And even more incredible, my pacing was actually pretty good, at around 11-11:30/mile. Those runs, plus a few faster, shorter runs gave me confidence that I was actually ready to run a marathon. I didn’t really have an excuse not to…

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I was more nervous than I’d like to admit leading up to this race. Marathons are fun, but also RUNNING, EFFORT, PAIN! You can never predict exactly how the day is going to go. But I had my truly sweet and patient husband (who ran NYC two weeks ago) running it with me. And SO MANY supportive friends. I knew that whatever happened, it would be a good day.

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And it was. I completed my 9th marathon and it was my fastest yet at 4:46:01. Travis stuck by my side even when I got cranky. I listened to my favorite songs. Nine loops of the park didn’t even seem so bad. My fueling was smart & consistent (MilkyWay, 6 Gus, brownies, and gatorade). We took it easy on the six trips up the North hill, walking some. I was in pain for most of the race, but also felt strong. I concentrated and I fought for it.

It seems crazy to run for nearly five hours just to gain two little minutes… but it was worth it.

bkmarathonfinish

But the race, my time, those are not even the best parts. The most amazing part of the whole day was seeing so many friends in the park! So many. This race comes at the end of a long, strenuous fall race season. All of my friends have already trained and raced and coached and cheered at plenty of events. I didn’t expect anyone to spend their Sunday watching me (and all the other racers, of course) run in a circle around Prospect Park. But they did. Plus, did I mention that it rained?!

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THANK YOU: Suzy for bringing my treats and gatorade and being my personal pit crew, Pam for being there from the start and taking so many great photos, sweet Sarah Y. for pouring my gatorade, Joel and Amanda for surprising me with my baby, Crusher, on the sidelines, Jessica for keeping me pumped up and running those first two loops with us, Lisa for making me a sign and coming out after already coaching another race that morning, Matt for running a loop with us and not minding that I was totally brain dead, new marathon maniac, Meghan T., and all of our CHEERful friends, Emily C., Nate, JP (and Beau!), Dory, Amber, Cynthia, Kristen (and Mike!), Emily H., Judith and John, Kitty, Louis, Flegar, Sarah W., Sarah K., Josh, Tony, Shanna, and many more that I am probably forgetting. (Blame it on marathon brain.) You all MADE MY DAY and make me feel very fortunate. (And get this: The rest of our SCBkR crew was in Philly yesterday cheering on the racers there. Amazing.)

bkmarathonmedals

Running is just a hobby. But it is healthy. And challenging. And fun. And the friends I have made doing it are incredibly supportive and encouraging and silly and sweet and fun. Team in training + Brooklyn + the running community at large = so many good vibes.

I could blame it on the marathon endorphins, but I think it is true love. This South Central Brooklyn Runners community that we’ve all created is something special. Maybe even magic. I hope we can keep it going… forever.

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Watch a news report about the Brooklyn Marathon here. (You can see me & Travis run by for a second.) And view all of the photos (mine and my friends’) from the day here.

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Random personal note for future reference: Don’t put too much stuff in the side leg pockets of Lululemon crops. Not only is it unattractive, but it causes major bruises!

2 Comments » Categories: Brooklyn, Feeling Happy, Friends, running, Travis

10 year anniversary

Jul 3rd 2013 09:40:00 am

Ten years ago today, Travis and I were having a glorious, crazy, fun day jam-packed with photos and family and friends and cake. We were married on July 3rd, 2003. We were both 22. We had just graduated from college and we’d just bought a new car.

I have actually had people (friends!) tell me that our brains do not fully mature until after the age of 25, therefore choosing a mate before then is foolish… but choosing Travis was the surest and smartest decision I have ever made.

Ten years of marriage feels good. Nothing in life is perfect (don’t trust anyone who tells you otherwise) but right now, our relationship feels pretty darn close to it. I could tell you that it is all true love and soul mate magic. Or, I could tell you that it is daily, practical work and compromise. But the reality is that it is both. Love + commitment + kindness + work. It also doesn’t hurt that Travis is patient and steady and strong even when I am crazy.

I love you, Travis. Let’s keep it going for 50 more years!

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You can see more photos from our wedding here and here.

5 Comments » Categories: Feeling Happy, love, Travis, weddings

32 while 32

Feb 13th 2013 11:25:12 am

I love presents just as much as I did at my 8th birthday!

Sunday was my 32nd birthday. I had a little party because – hey – I love cake and balloons and friends! Complaining about age is lame, but 32 feels quite old. Like, I should probably be an adult by now… isn’t that one of the items on my to do list?

What now seems like a very long time ago, I made a list of 30 things that I wanted to accomplish before turning 30. I didn’t get all of the items completed, so I converted it to a 30 WHILE 30 list, then a 31 while 31 list. I still haven’t gotten all of the items checked off, so I am turning it into an ongoing project. I’ll carry the list over each year, crossing off the things I finish and adding new items to fill out the list to match my birthday number — this year, 32!

32 things to do while 32:

Visit the Museum of the City of New York.
Travel to Europe!
Eat the Moules Frites at Balthazar.
Create a new craft tutorial for Swap-bot.
Stop biting my nails. For good.
Redesign the Swap-bot homepage.
Get super-comfortable using our DSLR camera.
Be noticeably sweeter to my husband.
Run a marathon in 4:30.
Lose 15 pounds. (Isn’t this on everyone’s list?)
Make marinara sauce from scratch.
Visit the Bronx Zoo.
Make Crusher a super-cute Halloween costume.
Try to live in the moment.
Start taking a weekly yoga class. Changing this to: Cross train once a week.
Buy a brownstone! (A fantasy, but a girl can dream…)
Do all of my mending.
Make cupcakes with some sort of filling.
Reduce my internal negativity.
Call my brothers and sisters-in-law every week (or at least more frequently).
Read a novel. (Maybe this one?) Um… it is terrible that I haven’t done this…
Promote peace.
Get a unicorn face painting!
Run a sub-2-hour half marathon. (This may be impossible.)
Set up an online Swap-bot merch store.
Eat less candy.
Run a trail marathon.
Make a quilt.
Visit the New York Transit Museum.
Bake a loaf of bread from scratch.
Become an adult.
Embark on a grand adventure!

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Completed items:
This list could get really long!

Experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans! Had a great time with my brother Seth.
Learn to tell a really funny, family-friendly joke. Why did the fish get kicked out of school? ………because he was caught with sea WEED!
Figure out how to style my hair in loose waves/curls. I think this counts.
Visit The Cloisters. Went with mom & dad in June.
Run the San Diego Marathon. For the second time. Done!
Attend a taping of the Wendy Williams Show. Done and it was awesome.
Take an overnight trip with my husband that is not at a relative’s house.
Take my donation pile to the thrift store. Housing Works got a big pile!
Buy a really beautiful and practical dress. Thank you Rebecca Taylor!
Go to dinner at Al Di La.
Run the NYC marathon!
Watch every episode of Tosh.0.
Make blueberry pancakes.
Get the Florence + The Machine album on vinyl.
Watch Meet Me in St. Louis again.
Drive upstate to see the autumn foliage.
Visit all five boroughs in NYC (should happen during the marathon).
Get a new laptop. Love my Air!
Reduce the amount of time I spend on Facebook. Done, except for today.
Vote! Always.
Buy awesome, new, flattering jeans. These from J.Crew.
Force Travis to watch Star Trek: Generations with me. He loved it.

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You can check out my past lists here:

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What is on your list? What should I add to mine?

8 Comments » Categories: Birthday, Feeling Happy, Just for Fun, Projects, Thinking

one little word 2013

Jan 3rd 2013 12:33:06 pm

Each year I join in on a popular blog phenomenon and chose one little word to focus on throughout the new year. This year, I choose sweetness.

Sweetness sounds so cheesy and cutesy, but it is what came to mind as I thought about what I want for 2013. To me, it encompasses the ideas of kindness, acceptance, and enjoyment. I want to be sweet to others and I want to be sweet to myself. I want to be content and happy and calm and focus on the sweet things in life… no matter what 2013 has in store for me.

My past words:

2012: explore
2011: peace
2010: wonder
2008: hope

(Two of my favorite bloggers chose open and brave this year.)

What is your one little word for 2013?

7 Comments » Categories: Feeling Happy, Just for Fun, Projects, Thinking

have a wonderful holiday!

Dec 24th 2012 01:15:15 pm

Happy Christmas Eve!

The plan was to be in Kansas City right now… but holiday chaos acts in mysterious ways.

We were involuntarily bumped from our flight last night. So, we got ourselves back to our place for one more night in BK. We will be back at the airport later today. Not great, but Delta airlines was actually quite generous in their apology, so we are taking the Christmas delay in stride.

Chaos and all, I am excited to spend time with my family this week. I hope everyone has a magical night and a wonderful holiday!

1 Comment » Categories: Christmas, Crusher, Family, Feeling Happy, holidays, Travel

personal record

Oct 7th 2012 03:06:31 pm

In the year 2000, I ran the Drake Relays Half Marathon in 2:07:55. (That is 19-year-old me running the race above.)

Today, I ran the Staten Island Half Marathon exactly 6 minutes faster. A big PR, 12 years in the making!

Travis ran with me during the whole race and kept me on pace. (He PR’d last week in the Hamptons, so this was just a long run for him.) The weather was a perfect 50 degrees. I stayed focused and worked hard. I didn’t even bring my phone or water bottle! It was difficult, but overall it was less painful than I expected. I had some cramping in my diaphragm late in the race, but still managed to beat my original sub-2:10 goal. Thank you, Travis!

I am happy. In a complete reversal of my usual training assumptions, I think that my speed workouts this season have been much more beneficial than my distance workouts. I am grateful to my persistent Team in Training coaches for showing me that.

Surprisingly, I think Reach the Beach was the most beneficial. It gave me confidence and “permission” to run my hardest and see what I can do. Just for fun. Thank you Warriors and Coach Joel!

I still have work to do. A sub-2-hour half now seems like a possibility!

UPDATE: The race photos are in… and they aren’t half bad!

10 Comments » Categories: Feeling Happy, New York, running, Team In Training, Travis

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Hello.

I'm Rachel. I run websites and run marathons. I live in Brooklyn and write about art, crafts, design, food, fitness, fashion, my daily life, and New York City.

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