Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Travel :: Railay Beach, Thailand

Better late than never...I wanted to share the last bit of photos from our trip to Thailand. We spent the last three days at the beautiful Rayavadee Resort in Krabi. Accessed only by boat and situated on the stunning Phranang Peninsular on the edge of Krabi Marine National Park, the resort is nestled amidst pristine tropical gardens and coconut groves against a backdrop of breathtaking cliffs. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Well, Hello There!

Well hello there my friends! It has been too long, and I have missed you all and this little blog. I was struggling keeping up with it as is with my new job and the new house...but then add planning a wedding {across the country!} into the picture and needless to say I've been quite busy. However, as I've said before - this blog has been truly a happy place for me so I'm really going to make a conscientious effort to invest in more time for myself, creative pursuits, and this blog. So to catch up, I thought I'd share a little of what I have been up to as of late {via my Instagram account}.

My mom threw us the most beautiful and thoughtful engagement party a few weeks after we returned from Thailand. It was very emotional being surrounded by all of our best friends and family and was the first time that we really felt like, "Wow...we're actually getting married!" My mom saw this cake on my pinterest board and had our favorite grocery store create it for us. So perfect!

Visiting one of my absolutely favorite places in Indianapolis, The Cake Bake Shop. The owner is a genius and is as much of a Francophile as I am. I love stopping in to grab a croissant and pretend like I'm in Paris. If you're ever in Indianapolis I couldn't recommend this bakery enough, and please do try their high tea.

We got wallpaper installed in our downstairs guest room/my office and I have to say that I am obsessed! The wallpaper is Smokey Rose from Anthropologie. Any man that allows you to install floral wallpaper in your home is a keeper in my book :)

I just couldn't help myself from picking up these adorable cake plates and card from Bhldn. I just love buying little gifts for Ryan just because!

We went to Chicago for the weekend for Ryan's cousin's wedding and hdd time to head to the Trump Tower for cocktails. Talk about a view!

Memorial Day weekend my mom and I packed our bags and headed west to spend five days in Napa and Sonoma. It was absolutely magical!

During our wine country trip I fell head over heels for this beautifully designed and impeccably curated shop in Healdsburg. SHED features gourmet groceries {read: perfect place to stop before your vineyard picnic}, unique housewares, and a fantastic little cafe. If you're in the area you absolutely must visit!

I finally got rid of my mountain bike circa 1999 and upgraded to a sleek and comfortable hybrid bike. Finally, I can enjoy the fantastic bike trails that Indianapolis is known for!

While I actually haven't gone dress shopping {we JUST now picked a venue!} it has been fun to stop into a few bridal stores just to look. Pictured is a beautiful new bridal boutique that opened up a block from my childhood home in Oakwood called Louise Christine.

I've seriously been loving our back patio! Unfortunately it has been unseasonably rainy this summer, but whenever the sun peeks out I head out here with a glass of wine and a book.

Two weeks ago we headed up north to the lake house my family has visited for the last fifty years. It is on a pristine lake in Northern Wisconsin and feels like it has been untouched since the 1950's. The house doesn't have internet or cable {we like it that way!} so we spend our days swimming, fishing, kayaking, and of course eating cheese and drinking wine.

A lake tradition - a gourmet cookout at the cove. This year we enjoyed salmon burgers, roasted vegetable quinoa salad, and fire grilled potatoes. We drank wine that my mom and I picked up during our wine country trip and for dessert ate s'mores. It was perfect!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wedding Inspiration: Midsummer Night's Dream

Moonlit gardens, dark moody florals, whimsical details, dancing under the stars, ethereal tulle, a cake dripping with moss  -  A Midsummer Night's Dream is the perfect inspiration for a summer wedding.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wedding Inspiration :: Sofia Coppola's Marine Antoinette

We're officially in full-swing with wedding planning, and just like when it comes to decorating our house, I seem to find inspiration everywhere and anywhere. One source of inspiration that keeps coming into my mind is Sofia Coppola's beautiful "Marie Antoinette." With its pastel hues, decadent dessert tables, gorgeous light (a standard in all of Coppola's films), and magical scenes shot in the gardens of Versailles, I could easily see the film translating into a wedding!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Travel :: Koh Rok, Thailand

While staying at the Pimalai we decided to take a day trip through the hotel to the island of Koh Rok. The island is a natural marine park, meaning there is zero development allowed on or around the island. In fact, the only inhabitants of the island are a pack of roosters that we shared the beach with for the afternoon. The ombre waters were crystal clear, making for some of the best snorkeling I have ever experienced. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Travel :: Ko Lanta Sunsets

I had heard that Thailand boasted some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world, but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer magnificence we witnessed every night at 7PM. The Pimalai Resort & Spa was located on the western side of Ko Lanta, giving us a front row seat to watch the sky change colors over the Andaman Sea. Our favorite place for sunset viewing was our resort's beach beds. We'd order a fresh coconut or a Bellini, curl up together under our beach towels, and soak in nature's brilliance. The pictures don't even do it justice - it was pure bliss.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Travel :: Ko Lanta, Thailand

Next up on our trip was the relaxed island of Ko Lanta. I had heard from many that this was their favorite island in Thailand, and I can certainly understand why. Much of the island is a natural marine park, meaning in many areas it is still completely untouched. The island has what the Thai people call a "sabai sabai" vibe - reminding me in many ways of the laid-back island of Kauai. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Travel :: Koh Phangan, Thailand

Today I wanted to share with you photos from my happy place - Koh Phangan. This idyllic island is located in the Gulf of Thailand and can only be accessed by ferry or speedboat. Upon arrival into Koh Samui we were were greeted by our resort and after being given fresh water and lemongrass infused cold towels we were driven to the pier. A quick speedboat ride later we arrived to the beautiful Santhiya Koh Phangan.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Travel :: Elephant's World

After Erawan Falls we headed south to Elephant's World. As soon as we booked our trip to Thailand it became apparent that riding an elephant was a very unusual and popular experience that many people partake in while visiting Thailand. I was thrilled at the thought and started even looking into staying at an elephant camp. However, a small part of me started to wonder how ethical the elephant trekking camps that I had seen so many of my Facebook friends visit over the years actually were. After doing a significant amount of research I decided against riding an elephant. We were going to opt out of the experience all-together, but while booking our trip to Erawan Falls with BKK Tours they mentioned that we might also be interested in adding on a stop at Elephant's World.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Travel :: Hotel Muse, Bangkok

During our four nights in Bangkok we stayed at the Hotel Muse, a boutique hotel with a speakeasy meets Restoration Hardware vibe. While the location and service were great, what made this hotel special was really the details. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Travel :: Erawan Falls

On our last day in Bangkok we took a private day trip with BKK Tours to Kanchanaburi, about a three hour drive. Unfortunately earlier that morning I had woken up with a terrible flu, but I wasn't going to let that stop me from missing out on one of the days I was most looking forward to on our entire trip! Thankfully our car ride was amazing as we had a luxury van with leather seats that fully reclined. Plus there was a 30" flat screen, bedazzled ceiling and a strobe light in the back...it was pretty hilarious. Needless to say we kept the strobe light off as it didn't really encourage a peaceful rest :)

Our first stop was Erawan Falls, a beautiful national park that features seven different waterfalls you can hike to and swim in the pools below. The catch? The pools are filled with hundreds of fish that love nothing more than to nibble your toes and eat the dead skin off your feet. I had been anxious about it and thought perhaps I wouldn't even get in, but it was so hot by the time we got to the first swimming area I couldn't rip my hiking gear off fast enough! My technique to keep the fish away was kicking and flailing violently, and it worked like a charm.

The most fun part of visiting the falls was being able to ride down the falls like a water slide. We had a near catastrophic experience when Ryan got a little too excited and went down the wrong falls crashing into a big rock, but thankfully he is quite resilient and only ended up with a few bumps and bruises. All in all it was a wonderful experience and a perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Travel :: Exploring Bangkok

Well hello there! We're back from Thailand with some very exciting news - we're engaged!! So, needless to say, the trip was absolutely amazing. It was by far the most wonderful vacation we have every had and safe to say that I have never felt more relaxed and more happy. As usual I took way too many pictures, so I'll start by sharing a little about our first stop - Bangkok.

We arrived into Bangkok around 11PM and were absolutely exhausted from the trip. We were picked up at the airport by our hotel and whisked into downtown Bangkok in their BMW {it felt a little like we were in a James Bond movie!} Being that it was our first trip to Asia, driving into the bustling metropolis of Bangkok was quite thrilling. By the time we arrived to the Hotel Muse we had gotten our second {or probably, in all honesty, fifth} wind thanks to adrenaline so we decided to check into our room and head up to the rooftop bar for a cocktail. The feeling of arriving into a new place for the first time and not knowing what the next hour, day or week holds is absolutely thrilling - and as we stood seemingly above the city hand-in-hand we felt like the entire world was right at our fingertips.

The next morning we slept in and decided to visit the famous Blue Elephant for lunch, which came highly recommended by my best friend Brooke. We started with cocktails {because why not, we were on vacation!}, then appetizers, then went on to order green curry with river prawns and yellow curry with lump crab, which were both AMAZING. 

After a much larger meal than we had anticipated, and the jet lag starting to hit me, we decided to head back to the hotel to nap and swim. By that time our friends Scott and Sara who were traveling with us for the first half of the trip arrived to the hotel, so we met-up with them and headed out to dinner at Issaya Siamese Club. Voted one of Asia's top 50 restaurants, this Thai fusion restaurant is housed in a 100-year-old villa and feels like eating in an eccentric aristocrat's residence. I didn't bring my camera that night, but it felt too beautiful not to show you so I grabbed some photos off the restaurant's website. We ate the most delicious snapper and drank lemongrass cilantro mojitos which were unbelievably delicious. For dessert we had a jasmine panna cotta with jasmine ice cream and dragon fruit which four weeks later I am still dreaming about!

To finish the evening we went to the infamous Sky Bar, which was where several scenes of the Hangover Two were filmed. While undoubtedly touristy {and very crowded} the views were unbelievable and definitely not to be missed. Again, because I didn't bring my camera I grabbed a few photos from the website just to show you how breathtaking the views truly were.

The next day we booked a private tour of the city through BKK Tours which I could not recommend enough! It was about $70/person and was a full-day tour that included meals, transportation and admission into all sites we saw. But the biggest benefit for me was being able to relax and enjoy the day instead of dealing with the insanity that is Bangkok. We never got lost. We never argued with a taxi driver {though that did happen several other times}. We never had to decide what to do next or where to eat. For a Type A person like myself that always tries to have everything planned, it was absolutely amazing being able to hand over the reins and just enjoy.

Our tour guide, Air, picked us up at the hotel around 9AM. We hopped on the Skytrain and headed to the Chao Phraya River, where a private longtail boat was waiting for us. We rode down the river with about an hour detour through a canal which was absolutely fascinating.  It gave us the opportunity to see how real people live in Bangkok and allowed us to stop at a few off the beaten path markets and food stalls. Afterwards it was on to the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew {Emerald Buddha} and Wat Pho {Reclining Buddha}. We spent about three hours in total exploring these beautiful places and were able to learn about the history and significance thanks to our knowledgeable and incredibly sweet guide. 

NOTE: The Grand Palace asks that all visitors, as a sign of respect cover, their arms and legs. I thought, like the cathedrals of Europe, that a shawl would suffice to cover my arms - but you are not allowed to enter unless you are wearing actual sleeves. So if, like me, you choose to wear a tank top to try to stay cool in blisteringly hot Bangkok, you will be forced to rent a questionably clean and unquestionably unfashionable oversize shirt to wear over your clothes. I'd highly recommend wearing short-sleeves and either long pants or a maxi skirt to avoid being the fashion faux pas that I was all morning :)

By the time we had finished visiting the temples and palace we were famished. Air took us to one of her favorite local restaurants on the river, which to be honest we would have never chosen ourselves, but it was absolutely delicious! She ordered nearly a dozen different dishes for us to sample, plus plenty of Singha beers for the boys and coconuts for Sara and I. Feeling reinvigorated, we hopped on the back of a tuk tuk {SO FUN!} and went to our next stop - the beautiful flower market. While we didn't buy any flowers {we were only going to be in Bangkok for one more day}, we were able to purchase some spices for a great value; our most exciting find being a bag of saffron, the world's most expensive spice, for less than three USD.

By that point we were all quite tired so we decided to return to our hotel for an evening swim and to get ready for dinner. We chose to eat at Nahm, which was just voted the best restaurant in Asia and one of the world's 50 best restaurants. The ambiance was chic and our poolside table set the scene for an absolutely perfect meal. The food, led by chef David Thompson - the first chef to even be awarded a Michelin star for Thai cuisine, was sophisticated but approachable. We started with several canap├ęs, our favorite being the grilled mussels, then went onto share several entrees including scallops stir-fried with spring onions & chillies and coconut and turmeric curry of blue swimmer crab with calamansi lime {YUM!} The only dish that left us a bit perplexed was our coconut ash pudding with poached bananas, which just didn't please our American palates. 

Our last day in Bangkok we took a day trip to go waterfall trekking and visit an Elephant Rescue Sanctuary, but more on that later :)