Tag Archives: summer

I Left My Heart In NYC

Over a month has passed since we returned from a week in NYC for my BIL’s wedding to his beautiful bride, Anuja. This post has been hanging over my head and I forced myself to hit “Publish” and not let the draft sit another day. I haven’t posted it sooner because I wanted to have the time to sit and reflect and cover all the amazing things we did during our travels. The trip was the perfect mix of sightseeing and helping with wedding prep. We wanted to build in a couple extra days for playing tourist, but at the same time wanted to help with all the minor details of coordinating not one, not two, but three special ceremonies ~ one on Friday & two on Sunday}

We flew Virgin America and were extremely pleased with this fairly new carrier. They call themselves “a breath of fresh airline” and I completely agree. Their safety video is THE best and I encourage you to check it out.


After taking a red eye and landing at Kennedy a little before 8am, we were a little tired, but relied on the energy of Manhattan to wake us up and carry us through the day.


{Waiting to check into The Conrad}

Elliott and I joined Anuja and one of her other bridesmaids, Jocelyn, to run errands around town and pick up her wedding dress. It was fun to get a sneak peek at the bride in her gown…


{Hailing a taxi to get the dress home!}

On Thursday morning we walked over to the 9/11 Memorial which was very close to our hotel. I hadn’t been to Ground Zero since July ’02.


{So many emotions, memories, prayers & tears spilling over.}

We then continued our walk to The Brooklyn Bridge and made our way across on foot. This was on our Summer ’14 Bucket List.


Later that evening we enjoyed Prosecco & Ice Pops at sunset…


{Blueberry & Peach w/ St. Germaine liqueur}

The popsicle slowly melts into the prosecco ~ heaven!


{With this as the backdrop!}

Friday morning Rodney and Anuja were married “in the church” by a Catholic priest at a sweet, old parish in Harlem. This was a quick ceremony with just immediate family.


After that, we immediately headed back down to head across the river to the venue for the rehearsal.


{Ferry to Jersey City}


{Limo ride to the rehearsal dinner}

On Saturday, we were up early, grabbed a little Dunkin’ Donuts coffee to wake us up and took the subway up to Central Park.



We strolled through the green, peacefulness of Central Park and then did a little shopping at FAO Schwartz before having lunch down in Rockefeller Center’s Summer Garden & Bar.

Later this evening we attended a dinner hosted by Anuja’s family and prepared for the big day to follow. There were dozens of kids there and Elliott & Holden immediately hit it off with all of them. They literally ditched us at all the events and hung out with their “new cousins”. It made this mama heart happy to see them all get along SO well and add to their group of “cousins-in-law”.

We made Saturday night an early one as we had to be up bright and early and dressed in our gorgeous Indian clothing for the Baraat and Hindu ceremony.





{Photo Credit: Razel Duque}

Later that afternoon was the traditional Catholic ceremony.





{Photo Credit: Greg Steele}


{Photo Credit: Wonder Tiff from Facebook}

The day after the wedding, we planned to relax a little, yet take in a few more sights before taking off the next day. We spent some time wandering around Soho and finished the day joining lots and lots of cousins for dinner, a stroll through Times Square and the M&M World and finally a swim in the hotel pool.

The next morning we were up bright and early to catch our ride back to Kennedy. It was a bittersweet departure from the city that never sleeps…

We had a fantastic time. It’s so hard to capture the magnificence of it all in a little blog post. There are so many more pictures, but I will stop here.

I’ve spent several weeks in NYC over the years and I have to say, it certainly holds a piece of my heart. There is just something about it that makes you appreciate where you come from, yet begs for you to return. The kids LOVED it and we can’t wait to go back and do the things we weren’t able to cross off the list.

But we were there for one reason and that was to celebrate Mr. & Mrs. Rodney Aspiras.

Welcome to the family, Anuja! We couldn’t be more thrilled to have you.


Blue Ribbon Day ~ An Afternoon at the OC Fair

Yesterday we ventured down I-5 and headed to the OC Fair. My friend Angela is well schooled in this fair and assured me it was bigger and better than our more local Ventura County fair that is also currently going on. She had gathered some budget friendly information for our trip, too.

1. Bring $5 worth of school supplies {with receipt} for entrance into the fair. Entrance also included one FREE ride. It’s a win/win.

2. Read & Ride Program {kids ages 5-11} ~ Read two books, fill out a form, turn it in and receive 3 FREE rides.

The kids obviously wanted to IMMEDIATELY hit the death traps…..I mean rides, but we encouraged {OK….MADE} them check out some animal exhibits and the area where the biggest produce is awarded and displayed ~ AKA lemons and avocados on steroids!

The girls then made leather cuffs and bookmarks. This was perfect for Elliott and she can never find anything personalized with her name. I thought this was a nice fair souvenir for only $5.

The mamas figured it’d be better to go on a couple rides BEFORE eating lunch. Holden was turned down for a ride that he desperately wanted to go on due to his height and a kind young man and his girlfriend handed over their 2 tickets so that he could enjoy 2 other attractions as they had purchased a bracelet for “daily unlimited death trap usage”!!

As you can imagine, pin pointing a lunch item can be difficult at the fair. I talked Holden out of a $13 smoked turkey leg and redirected him to a $6 piece of cheese pizza! I had spotted a place that sold sourdough garlic bread which you could order gussied up in many different fashions….I chose the buffalo chicken version and was NOT disappointed. They also had a Nutella/bacon option which I’m sure received high marks, but I went with savory and was glad I did.

After lunch the kiddos explored some sketchy fun houses and we eventually embraced redneckness by making our way to the Turkey Stampede. It actually was tons of fun and now I think the kids will be questioning what we put on the table this Thanksgiving. Immediately after that, we crossed over to the Pig Races and secured a seat in the shade. Holden was chosen as one of four pig coaches for the finals and his choice, Bob, was the grand champion! He was so cute getting the crowd pumped up and rooting for “his” pig which was #6 and wore a blue bib.

We then took our blue ribbon winner and the rest of our crew for their long awaited sweet treat for the day…soft frozen lemonade, shaved ice, deep fried Oreos and Dippin’ Dots. Believe it or not I passed up my sweet treat for an ice cold water and Diet Coke! I’d never been so thirsty in all my life. Calories saved, I guess…….

We closed our day with a bird’s eye view of the fair on the sky ride. I praise the Lord that they have enough sense to require an adult to go on this because there is NO way I’d let Holden ride with his friends. I winced the whole time watching the three 9-year old girlies in the chair in front of us, yelling at them, “Please sit back! Don’t lean forward!” Longest 8-10 minutes of my life!!

BUT, we had a great day and the kids loved it. It had been 6 years since they had been to the fair! We went to the San Benito County Fair in the summer of ’08 before we moved back to So Cal. Holden was just 18 months and Elliott barely over 3 years old!

Here are some iPhone memories…..



















Despite my newfound old lady fear of heights, I think we need to make the county fairs a permanent fixture on our summer bucket lists from here on out.

Missing the San Diego County Fair {or the Del Mar Fair for us locals} and the memories made there over the years…..

Summer So Far…

Hi Friends!

Summer’s in full-swing and we’re trying to keep busy, stay cool and check those items off our Summer ’14 Bucket List.

Since school got out 3 weeks ago, here’s a little of what we’ve been up to…


{Updated our chalkboard for Summer}


{Elliott’s dance recital ~ she performed two numbers this time…hip hop/jazz & lyrical}


{Daddy was out of town and Holden was at a birthday party, so it was just Gramma and me in the audience cheering for our little dancer}


{Early morning swim and donuts by the pool}


{A day at Magic Mountain…Ninja made this mama woozy!!!}


{My Dad, Popsi, came to visit and the kids HAD to introduce him to MOD Pizza}


{A visit to the Ronald Reagan Library}


{Sunday Brunch at Grand Central Market in Downtown LA}


{Carnitas Burrito from Roast To Go}


{Bacon, Egg & Cheese [added avo] from Eggslut}


{Almond Macadamia Iced Latte from G&B Coffee}


{Cherry Picking at Villa del Sol}


We thoroughly enjoyed our maiden voyage to GCM. Jay and I couldn’t decide between Mexican food or a breakfast egg sandwich, so we split. Both were incredible! Jay waited in line for about 40 minutes at Eggslut, but it was well worth it.

This was our first time cherry picking, too. We tried to go a couple summers ago, but waited until too late in the season. This orchard is only about 45-60 minutes from us so it made for a nice little afternoon outing. However, it was HOT and we decided to stop at the local Sonic for happy hour since Popsi had never been. We sat in our air conditioned car and sipped on blended root beer floats and cherry & watermelon slushies. I then proceeded to bake a cherry cobbler for dessert that night. Of course I did.

I just returned from 4 days in Chicago and Detroit to celebrate the upcoming wedding of my BIL, Rodney and his fiancé, Anuja. There was a traditional Grashanti {Hindu ceremony} on Friday and a beautiful joint bridal shower {Anuja’s sister is getting married in August!} on Sunday. I’ll write about that tomorrow. The trip was absolutely perfect and made me even MORE excited for their big day which is coming up in a couple short weeks!


Hope your summer has been happy so far!


Summer Bucket List ~ Twenty14

I literally threw this together in a matter of minutes. It’s usually well thought out, but you know…

Our list looks a little different this year as we will be traveling to The Big Apple for a week next month. Looking forward to sharing the bustling city that never sleeps with the kiddos. They are in for a surprise!

1. Donuts by the pool ~ Nothing better than an early morning swim and some sugar to fuel it.



2. Ventura County Fair {rolling over from 2012}


3. Concerts in The Park ~ Eagles cover band August 2nd!

4. Shave It with friends

5. Picnic in Central Park



6. Visit The Statue of Liberty

7. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge



8. Summer Movie ~ most likely going to be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles {smiling through clenched teeth}

9. Thrifty Ice Cream



10. Mommy & Daddy do Whole30 for the month of August

11. Rose Bowl Flea Market



12. Grand Central Market in Downtown LA


So, there you have it.

This is one “To-Do” list that isn’t daunting.

What are YOUR plans for the summer? I’d love to hear….


{View our previous summer lists: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 }

Summer-In-A-Jar ~ EOY Teacher Treats

We have 19 school days left until summer.

In my head that’s almost 4 weeks.

Which is a long time.

BUT, I’m learning that lots of folks will be sunscreening up, heading to the beach/pool/lake/etc. way sooner than we will, so I’m popping in real quick and sharing this little teacher gift that I’ve been working on.

Inspired by this summer-in-a-jar, but with a Flip Flop Follies twist.

I found a couple 67 ounce, clamp lid glass jars at Ross for $3.99 each and filled them with all things summer…


Hand sanitizer ~ B&BW

Hello Sunshine! nail file ~ B&BW

Sunnies ~ Dollar Tree

1.69 fl. oz. body butter {part of a multi-pack} ~ Ross

1.3 oz. travel candle ~ B&BW

$10 Subway card {part of a multi-pack} ~ Ralphs

TRUE Lemon Raspberry Lemonade {pack of ten}  ~ Ralphs

Nail polish ~ Target

Travel size sunscreen ~ Target

Clay mask ~ Walmart

ChapStick ~ Target

Razors ~ Dollar Tree

I just layered it all in the jar and topped it off with some sunshiny yellow paper shreds.


Add a little personalized gift tag and you’re done!

I love this idea and hope you do, too.

How many days left until YOU’RE off the hook packing school lunches??


A Letter To Summer

Yesterday I printed off several of these cute summer letter templates from Thirty Handmade Days.

It was a HOT one and we spent the morning at the pool for an early play date. When we got home and after we’d had some lunch, the kids sat down for a little quiet time and completed these sweet notes to pop in the mail before we head out to the {right coast}!


When they were all done and each box contained darling little drawings and cute elementary handwriting, I thought about sitting down and completing one myself! Instead, I decided to do mine in blog form and write my letter to SUMMER!

Dear Summer,

Here’s a little of what we’ve been up to since you arrived…


{GoPro-ing at the pool}


Finishing 6 week long projects that should NOT take 6 weeks…


{full reveal to come ~ stay tuned}

Catching the latest at the box office…


{we did not see 2 movies in one day…Holden just really loves this shirt! 😉 }


{Despicable Me 2 on opening day}

What I love best about you so far, Summer, is…


{quiet afternoons with a good book}


{concerts in the park}

My favorite memories with you to this point are…


{going on an adventure with this little pirate}



{getting a sitter and hanging out with this guy}

We’re almost halfway through with you, Summer….why must you go so fast?

The next two weeks will be spent creating new adventures and making new memories in a whole different spot on the map.

You’ve been good to us so far, but I know there’s lots more in store. You’re really good at inviting us to enjoy your warm, sunny days and your starry, chirping cricket-filled nights!

Thank you for always delivering…


Love your forever friend,

Amy xoxo

Summer ’13 {Sand} Bucket List

For the past few years I’ve drawn up a Summer To-do List. Last year we were not very successful at crossing off our items, but we DID have a fantastic summer!

This year I tried to make the events a little simpler so we can {check} away….because we all know a to-do list immediately becomes less daunting when you see check marks all over the place and know you’re making progress.

So, without further ado, here is our Twenty-Thirteen Summer Bucket List:

1. Rita’s for dessert. I hear it’s ah-mazing! Line-out-the-door-and-around-the-corner ah-mazing.

Thinking about ordering Iced Coffee or Mint Oreo Cream Ice….


2. Pizza at the pool. This rolls over every year and I don’t know why because it’s such a fun and easy one….going to do our best to check this one off once and for all this year!

3. Send Happy Mail and surprise someone special

4. Visit our OC friends for the weekend

5. See Despicable Me 2 on opening day ~ July 3rd


6. Baked S’mores!!



7. Bike to Starbucks/donut shop on the weekend

8. Dine at Cracker Barrel and rock on the porch 🙂

9. Visit Hobby Lobby {first timer}

10. Early morning walk on the beach

11. VBS


12. Sign Holden up for Taekwondo

13. Attend a couple concerts in the park


A few of these we/I will have to accomplish when we are on the east coast later this month. Fun. Fun.

You can view previous summers’ to-do’s here: 2010, 2011 & 2012.

Gotta go. We have some summer livin’ to do!


Hello, Summer ’13!

We’ve been welcoming Summer the last several days doing some of our favorite things with our favorite people at our favorite places.


Giving hugs and signing yearbooks…


Enjoying a 2nd Grade ice cream sundae bar…


Pool plunging…




{Jay trying out his new GoPro camera}

Remembering a great school year with sweet teachers and teacher’s assistants…




Playing Legos in the driveway…


…and drawing “ninjas” just because…


Rehearsing and recital-ing….






…and celebrating our hard working “man-of-the-house”, Daddy…


….with fancy Umami burgers and a maiden {Sprinkles} voyage at The Grove….


{the Red Velvet is to-die-for!}


Judging by the first 5 days of our summer vacay, it looks like it’s going to be an exciting one!

What are YOU doing in your school-free months?

2012 Summer To-Do List

For the past two summers we have drafted up a to-do list to keep us busy during the short 8 weeks off before school starts again. It’s a treat to have new things to look forward to and check them off as we experience them.

Here is a peek at the 2010 list and the 2011 list.

This summer we plan to…

1. Visit the Skirball Center

{Noah’s Ark Exhibit}

2. Order pizza delivery for dinner at the pool

{this one is rolling over from last year’s list}

3. Coconut Pancakes in pajamas with friends

4. Dive-in Movie at the Aquatics Center

5. Art/craft project once-a-week

6. OC Beach Day

7. Ventura County Fair

8. Cherry Picking in the Leona Valley

9. Summer Blessing Bags

10. Random Acts of Kindness at 7-11

{treating a few unsuspecting customers to some Slurpees}

11. Minor League Baseball Game

12. 1st Annual {Back To School Eve} Family Dinner

{as inspired by Erin over at Bringing Up Burns}


We look forward to squeezing all these activities in along with our usual summer favorites ~ concerts in the park, lazy pool days, homemade ice cream, early morning park visits and trips to Golden Spoon. This year is bittersweet as Holden will be starting his elementary career as a big kindergartner. No more casual weekday play dates and lounging in pajamas on non-school days!

With that said, we will enjoy every last minute with these littles before the homework, spelling tests and sight words resume.

What are YOUR plans for Summer 2012?