Cincinatti, Ohio – The Buckeye State!

A great long weekend, spent with the best of friends!

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“There are friendships imprinted in our hearts that will never be diminished by time and distance.”Dodinsky

I am headed to Cincinnati Ohio, the state best known for the Buckeyes! You know.. the little chocolate peanut butter balls/treats.. everyone loves them!

As you grow up, friendships grow apart. Sometimes the bond, but sometimes physically. In this case, my reason to head to Cincinnati was to visit one of my best friends, Zack. Zack and I were once upon a time roommates for a short while, and then I became close friends with his longest childhood friend Nick. During the time the Zack and I lived together, my sister would stay with me for long weekends, so it was just natural the four of us became close friends, quickly. My friend Zack lives just outside of Cincinnati in a town called Hamilton!!

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time to fly

Our trip was booked Saturday, June 2, returning home Wednesday, June 6th. I was able to find affordable flights on my trust go-to travel site, www.expedia.com Our flights were booked with American Airlines. My sister and I departed from Albany together. This was my first flight with American Airlines. On our last trip out to Cincinnati, we flew Delta. So, I had a pretty good idea that this trip would be taken on very small planes. As some of you know, you really can’t get any great flights out of Alb. But, flights were quick and both landed sooner than expected!

*all distances measured at each destination will be taken from the airport. Travel times vary on method and traffic

We have arrived at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport

As soon as the four of us reunited we were ready to head to a Starbucks, ASAP and begin our few fun-filled days together. Three of us had spent a chunk of the day traveling and we were ready to eat! We headed to a local Mexican restaurant El Mariachi Mexican Restaurante & Cantina. This place was amazing! The decor inside was beautiful, but what was even better- our HUGE pitcher of blue margarita! We all wanted to drink and celebrate, so of course, I had to suggest it! This margarita pitcher, no scratch that, pitcher TOWER of margarita was ooh-so-yummy tequila goodness. I think we honestly got about 15 glasses out of this bad boy. The food was Mexican-perfection, and came out within 10 minutes! And the guac at this restaurant absolutely deserves recognition. I take pride in my guac, but this was so creamy and full of love and straight goodness. Good corny photo op’s here too.

If you’re ever staying in the Cincinnati/ Hamilton area, check out this place:

El Mariachi Mexican Restaurante & Cantina
787 NW Washington Blvd, Hamilton, OH 45013
(513) 892-6300
Casual Attire

 

 

bloomington, indiana (2 hours, 35 mins – 134 mi)

If you’re staying in the Cincinnati, Ohio area and you have the time, a great day trip to make is to head out to Bloomington Indiana. It’s about 2.5 hours from the Cincinnati area. We traveled out to this unique town to meet Nick’s aunt, Candace- one of the most generous and hospitable people I have ever met. We met her at a popular cafe in town called The Runcible Spoon- the cutest little place that looked like it was from a storybook. The weather was perfect and we all sat outside to enjoy our pitchers of mimosas & bellinis and brunch. I think we might have a thing for ordering pitchers… I ordered the Veggie Bennie. Two eggs benedict (my absolute favorite egg prep.) served over an English muffin, with cheese, spinach, and tomatoes. The Runcible Spoon makes their hollandaise sauce home-made daily! Beyond delicious, and soaking up the beautiful weather with beautiful people made for an awesome dining experience.

The Runcible Spoon Restaurant
412 E 6th St, Bloomington, IN 47408
(812) 334-3997
Casual Attire

 

 

Bloomington is the home of Indiana University

Just a walk up the road we ventured into Indiana State University. Talk about historical! I kept referring to this place as Hogwarts. It was almost comparable to a classic medieval/ gothic castle, in some spots! My new friend Candace toured us through what we assumed was the entire university – but in reality was only about 10%! Indiana State University is 435 acres! The campus is naturally beautiful and is home to plenty of great photo op”s for tourists. If you plan to visit Indiana University-

Indiana University Visitor Information Center
900 E. 7th St, Bloomington, IN 47405
(812) 856-4648 

 

 

Upland Brewing Co.

After sight-seeing through one of the cutest towns, we stopped for dinner at a local popular spot called Upland Brewing Co. For all of my Albany friends, this place had a similar setting to Druthers. They had amazing outside seating, but however, after the long day, we skipped the half hour wait and headed right inside. That same night, the brewery had a wedding reception in place! This brewery is huge! We all shared a creamy spinach and artichoke dip, served with pita bread and chips to start, and after being in the Indiana heat all day, I was chuggin’ nothing else but good ol’ H20. For dinner, I had the fish (salmon) tacos, from the appetizer menu. They were amazing and so fresh! Everyone enjoyed their dinners before heading out of town, and I picked up some shirts for the hubby and me.

Upland Brewing Co.
350 W 11th St, Bloomington, IN 47404
(812) 336-2337
Casual Attire

 

 

the indiana state fruit is… a Huckleberry!

 

 

King’s Island: Largest Amusement & Waterpark in the Midwest (37 mins – 36 mi)

I’m such a roller coaster junkie! I was so excited that this amusement park was so close to Zack’s apartment in Hamilton. King’s Island is such a nice amusement park and is so clean. It is very comparable to a Six Flags, but I would choose to come here over there any day! Zack was able to score us discounted tickets through his job that also included admission to Soak City (Water Park.) You can find discounted tickets to King’s Island, by clicking this link: click here for discounted tickets! However, if you plan to come to King’s Island more than once during your stay in Ohio, it may be more beneficial for you to purchase a season pass! The Gold Pass is the best value. You get admittance to the park, of course, free parking and all of the special events such as the WinterFest or Halloween Haunt. You can find all season-pass options here, by clicking this linkclick here for season passes! We also decided to add a Fast Pass for the day, which was $60. Completely worth it, especially since we were only at the park for one visit. We got to ride at least 10 more attraction rides then we would have without.

The Park had average amusement park fare: we opted to get lunch at Subway. They do have restaurants, beer, fast-food and also a meal-plan you can prepay for.

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Some of my favorite rides at King’s Island were:

  • Banshee
  • Diamondback
  • The Vortex

King’s Island
6300 King’s Island Dr, Mason Ohio 45034
(513)754-5700
http://www.visitkingsisland.com

Basil 1791 (50 min – 44 mi)

After a long and hot day at King’s Island, we walked across the street from Zack’s apartment to Basil for some sushi! The vibe of the restaurant was soft and calming, yet a great place for friends to gather. The sushi was enormous and I ordered way more than I could finish! I’m glad we came here to end the day!

Basil 1791
241 High Street, Hamilton Ohio 45011
(513)883-1019
Casual Attire

(*additional locations in Wooster, Green, and downtown Canton.)

 

Cincinnati/ Hamilton & surrounding areas.

I always enjoy my trip out to Ohio, because there is so much to do. There are numerous shopping malls which are all fairly new, plenty of restaurants & museums. If you are in the city of Cincinnati, visiting the city waterfront is a great opportunity for pictures and plenty of things to do for couples, friends, and families. Every time I told someone I was soon heading to Ohio, the constant response I got was “um, why?” or “for what?” Even if you are not in town to visit friends and family,  but are coming for a work trip or anything else, there is plenty to do and see!

 

Popular shopping malls in the Cincinnati area:

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The Christmas Farm Inn & Spa/ Jackson, NH

“We celebrate the simple pleasures of life everyday: friends, family, fun, love, adventure, inspiration, and well-being.”

type: traditional inn, restaurant- seasonal new england cuisine
address: 3 blitzen way, jackson nh 03846
ring-a-ding: 603-383-4313
price: stays start at $99 (I searched in April) restaurant- $25+ pp
attire: I dressed casual & warm! dressed up in nice sweaters and statement earrings for dinner

I don’t think that I could let my fingertips wait any longer to type this blog for everyone! I’m still so beyond exciting for this and reflecting on the celebration of my 25th birthday.

Winter Wonderland Get-A-Way

My husband surprised me for my 25th birthday to a weekend away in the most adorable little village of Jackson, New Hampshire. He booked a stay for us at the beautiful and unique, Christmas Farm Inn & Spa. This place is a little gem, tucked away in the White Mountain National Forest Region.

The Christmas Tree Farm Inn & Spa was first built in 1778. Once a jail, church, and farm-house in one, the history of the Inn, is definitely very special and unique. The Christmas Farm was passed to different families throughout time, one of the most meaningful, (who is unnamed) when a man purchased the farm for his daughter, and gave it to her as a Christmas present and she gave the place it’s famous name!  Christmas Farm. After her plan to turn the property into a working farm failed, she sold the farm to Doris and Dick Welch, who renamed it The Christmas Farm Inn. For the next coming decades, the farm saw a few more owners ahead. The current owners have owned the property for the last 18 years.

From our house in Colonie, the trip was just under 5 hours.

Let me tell you, I’m not a fan of long road trips. I’m not sure how I admired this place for so long, but never researched actually how far away this location was!

The drive was filled with beyond beautiful sites and landscapes

Shortly after we escaped the daily hustle of the Captial Region, we were soon in farm-town. I’m still a kid at heart, and I still get so ecstatic when I see farm animals outside! “Look babe!! A horsey!” My husband never looks but just says “Yup.” LOL. As we made our way across the New York/ Vermont border, we were engulfed in the snowy-picture-perfect views of mountains and valleys.

These views are nothing short of breath-taking, and really encapture the true meaning of a winter wonderland. My husband was such a nice guy and drove us out there the entire way. A weekend away for the two of us was long overdue, and we were headed to one of the most romantic get-a-ways on the entire east coast.

The first view of the village of Jackson, New Hampshire is their iconic one-way wooden bridge. My husband looked at me and said, “Okay now, are you ready?” I think he knew way ahead of time I was going to ooh and ahh at everything. Let me tell you, it’s difficult not to. This little village is beyond adorable. So quaint and peaceful. A little bakery here, a chapel there & a handful of inns & restaurants with skiers everywhere.

magic on the hill

The Christmas Farm Inn & Spa is located a little higher up on the mountain. We made our way up the street, I saw the sign and my eyes lit up. Should I have included a disclaimer on how much I adore the holiday season, and particularly Christmas? The sun was shining and the snow was sparkling. Jackson had just received 18 entire inches of super soft snow.  I saw the big red sign when approaching the property. “Christmas Farm Inn – Fine Food Lodging and Spa.”

we finally arrived

My husband parked the car and checked us in for the evening. He booked the “Romance Package” for us ♥ We were going to be settling in The Carriage House, Suite #4 or “Calling Birds”. We made our way just a little further up the hillside. The property is filled with cottages that are great for families or groups of friends and The Carriage House is at the very top of the property and is more like a hotel. The Carriage House was added to the property in 2000. There are 12 King-size suites in the house. Suite #1, “Partridge in a Pear Tree”, Suite #2, “Two Turtle Doves”, #3, “French Hens”… I think you’re getting it!

The door opened with an ordinary key, and inside our cozy King-suite was endless views of the White Mountains. Along with birthday balloons and a small chocolate cake that read, “Happy Birthday Taylor,”  there were two stemmed glasses and a bottle of wine. How sweet! Not only did the hubs book us the “Romance Package,” but he also made sure they did something special for my 25th!

perfection for a weekend get-a-way

Our suite was beyond clean, and the spacious jacuzzi tub immediately caught my eye. Our suite had two tv’s, a kitchenette, jacuzzi tub and shower, a king bed, a balcony, and a fireplace. Perfection for a weekend get-a-way!

 

 

 

Shortly, it became dark, however, the property is well lit…with Christmas lights! The Main Inn was lit up so beautifully as we arrived for dinner. The Main has such a welcoming vibe, it was full of restaurant patrons and those staying at the Inn. The living room to the left of the foyer has a fireplace, a welcoming sitting area and a portrait of the big guy himself upon the wall. To the right of the entrance is the check-in desk, a small gift shop, and Mistletoe Pub. I might be over-using the word cozy, but I could not think of a more perfect-fitting word! The Mistletoe Pub has plenty of seating and is a full-service bar. We weren’t in for long until they called us for our table.

We sat at classic wooden tables and had views from big windows. We could see snow lit up from the Christmas lights all around outside. I found the drink menu humorous as they were all Christmas-spins on classic cocktails. I started off with The Stumble-stiltskin Martini – Favors of Grapefruit, Tangerine, Mandarin Orange and Kiwi. We enjoyed our drinks with our appetizers, steamed muscles in a white wine sauce and fresh calamari. My husband loves muscles!

 

seafood night + friday night + birthday night = bliss

Christmas Farm Inn has daily dinner specials. My birthday fell on a Friday, so it was Seafood Night! Perfect! They offer The Loaded Fisherman’s Platter – fried haddock, scallops & shrimp. I ordered another adult-beverage while waiting for dinner, this time The Coconut- Lemon Martini- Citrus vodka, coconut, and freshly squeezed lemon. Dinner is served. Guys, oh my god…. this seafood was beyond fantastic. The shrimps were enormous, the scallops were so juicy and fresh and the haddock was divine! I ordered this with mashys and cole slaw.

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love it or hate it, there’s never an in-between

Is it crazy that I’m about to give coleslaw it’s entire own paragraph within my blog post? Like I said, cole slaw- ya love it or, well, ya hate it. I love it. And this coleslaw was about the best I’ve ever had! It was different and made with red cabbage. Had the perfect amount of vinegar and salt, the cabbage added the perfect crunch, and I could just eat a bowl of this coleslaw. Maybe this is a recipe in the making for me…..!

 

We headed back to The Carriage House Suites and snuggled up in our cozy room for the night!

As Saturday quickly came, the sunlight filled our room and we were anxious to explore at the start the day. The Romance Package included spa services which my husband booked for us at noon. We got ourselves ready and found the most adorable little breakfast spot, called The Sunrise Shack. This is located in Glen, which was only about 5 minutes away on the other side of the little red bridge. There was a short wait as we arrived but we opted to sit at the counter as we were pretty hungry!

This place is so unique! They offer a variety of breakfast bowls,  breakfast beers, and sandwiches. I went ahead and ordered my favorite, two over medium eggs along with homefries, and one Big Dave’s bagel. I couldn’t resist making a joke to our server that I was skeptical of this bagel being a New York girl and all, but it was great. Our breakfast was served quickly. We had some time before our spa services, so we drove around site seeing. We had the opportunity to capture SO many pictures. My husband has taken a recent interest in photography, some of his pictures are right here.

 

 

 

 

time to relax and recharge

It was finally time to hit the spa. Christmas Farm Inn & Spa is a full-service Aveda Concept Spa. I haven’t used Aveda products that much, but one thing I do like about them is that you can customize your services by picking your favorite scent. I chose to customize my services with Aveda Shampure. We waited in the Spa’s relaxation lounge to start our massages. This was the only disappointing thing about the trip, they do not offer couples massages. We went to our massages separately. It is slightly deceiving since they offer the Romance Package, and there is a couple getting a massage together pictured on that specific page of the website. Continuing on, my massage was amazing and so relaxing. My therapist combined a use of hot towels and hot stones. She had incorporated my chose scent of Shampure into the massage oil and she even sprayed some on the sheets! My husband and I both enjoyed our massages. He was now off to do some of his wanderings, and he treated me to a pedicure and facial. My facial was beyond necessary – I was way overdue. My skin was feeling and looking wonderful, as well as my toes post-pedi. The spa is small and intimate perfect for a weekend get-a-way. The spa is a little pricey, and you can view the menu here.

 

 

dinna time

After some quick shopping at The Settlers Green Outlet Center, (about 20 minutes from the Inn) we headed to dinner at a recommended restaurant, Red Fox Bar & Grille. This place is so unique! It’s cut up into different rooms, but the restaurant is enormous! We shared a drink at the bar until our chosen table was ready. Downesat Cider on draft for myself, and Jameson & Gingerale for the hubs. Once it was our turn, we were shown to our table in a small room that seat roughly three parties. The intimate feel was surprising as I said that place was so huge.  I started with my favorite, Caesar salad, and my husband had an order of their Maple Jerk Josper Wings. The Red Fox Bar & Grill prepared their wings at 600° in their Josper over – which is a large charcoal-fired oven.

 

For dinner, I ordered something a little simpler, the Vodka Chicken Penne. Terrance ordered The Cowboy Ribeye with Maple Bourbon Butter, TWO lobster tails, potatoes, and broccoli. He said it was one of the best meals he has ever had!

hiding in from the cold

We ended the last night of our trip with some more relaxation. We took a bubble bath in our huge jacuzzi tub. The Inn provided Olivia Farmacia products.

I used the bath salt that was created with extracts of Italian olive oil. I always get worried using any type of bath salt or bomb, but after this relaxing bath, my skin felt amazing. I was so thankful for the time we had to unwind together and just talk. We sipped some wine and poured a second glass out by the fireplace. Did I forget to mention we took a pizza to go with us, from the Red Fox Bar and Grille? Hey! We were on vacation! Pizza. Wine. Fireside. Snow falling. Could a girl ask for any more? I was wishing we could just stay for a few more days!

 

After the last night’s sleep in our comfy king bed, we packed up our things in the suite and made our way to the Main House for breakfast at the restaurant. Breakfast is included in the Romance Package.*

Breakfast was good. Once we were done, we hopped back in the car to head back home to Albany. Although I was sad that our romantic weekend was coming to a close, I at least had the amazing views ahead of me to look forward to.

this memorable weekend was coming to a close, but im so thankful

We will absolutely be coming to back to The Christmas Tree Farm & Spa. Completly worth the drive, and there are so many other restaurants in town we need to try! I would love to stay in a cottage next time, and travel to the mountain range with another couple!

To view and learn more about The Christmas Farm Inn & Spa, click here.

Need a weekend away with your loved one? I recommend the Romance Package. Check that out here.

Double-date trip, anyone? Let me know below!

Idea Coffee/Flower District- NYC

“Metropolitan corner café brewing up lattes, cappuccinos & mochas, plus sweets & salads.”

type: coffee shop
address: 246 fifth avenue, new york city, ny 10001
ring-a-ding: 646-896-1533
price: $3+ pp
attire: casual

As part of my short weekend spent in the city for a hair show at the Jacob Javits Center, I had a chunk of free time. My friend and I searched for a place to grab something to eat before hitting the crazy IBS show. Our hotel was located on W 28th & 7th, in the HEART of the flower district. Ah! Was this SO nice? Yes!

It was a break from the upstate winter reality.

The streets were lined with florals, many of my favorite flowers and plants including hydrangeas, ranunculus, succulents, tall bamboo stocks, cuts of birch trees and mini palm trees.

It was an oasis in the city.

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We walked searching for a quick snack, but only saw chain restaurants we weren’t in the mood for. We stroll down a couple of blocks (still admiring the flowers) and see the word ‘COFFEE.’ Perfect! We run into this cozy yet, spacious place called Ideal Coffee.

When I say this place was cute, it was – but it was just adorable. I love it. Bohemian/Garden/Rustic – themed coffee shop. How’s that for a description?


I enjoyed a nice plain NY style bagel and a hot mocha almond milk latte. This latte was a dream.

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Art hangs on the wall, vintage photos of New York City and flowers, of course! This place sets the stage for many Instagram-worthy photos. If I didn’t need to catch my 10:20 train, I could have stayed and created this blog right on site. Idea Coffee is conveniently open 7 AM – 8:30 PM every single day.

 

 

 


Please do yourself a favor, check out this place on Instagram! Click me! 


We strolled down the street and finally wandered into a flower & plant shop. The owner, Bob, was so cute. He was very helpful and gave us all sorts of in-person & take-home information about the plants we purchased! I couldn’t resist taking home a Jade succulent, a bamboo corn stalk, and lucky bamboo. I also purchased classic terracotta pots for some of my existing plants and white stones to add some adornment to them!

 

 

 

Plants are a new thing for me. I now own 5! This is huge. I haven’t had good luck with them in the past, so I slowly am adopting one by one, once I get comfortable with the first. I received my first (successful) plant from my friend Stacey about 3 years ago. It’s a spider plant, and it hasn’t stopped growing.

My spider plant now has to hang because it is so long!

Have you tried Idea Coffee?

Any NYC coffee shop recommendations for me?

Let me know in a comment below!

Till next time, T♥

the Redeye Grill – NYC

“The Redeye Grill is a favorite for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, serving dishes from sushi to locally sourced fish, steaks and produce.”

type: semi-formal, brasserie
address: 890 seventh ave, new york, ny 10106
ring-a-ding: (212) 541-9000
price: $31+ pp
attire: classy-casual, I wore – dark denim, a floral blouse, black suede thigh-highs, black clutch

I traveled to good ol’ New York City for the weekend with one of my friends and fellow stylist to attend an annual hair show. One of the plus sides of living in Albany is that you can travel to the city really whenever, as it’s only about 2 to 2.5 hours away, dependable on your method of transportation. Personally, I enjoy taking the train. In the past, I used to drive in; but now it’s nice not having to worry about parking fees and especially driving in this crazy metropolis.

For dinner, we stopped at a place I’ll admit I have been to before.

The Redeye Grill.

I love the Redeye Grill. It is a unique place, with amazing food, and an even more amazing wine & bar selection.

The restaurant has a unique tone and vibe. It’s a perfect setting for a romantic date night, a place to dine with friends or host a small event in their party room upstairs. The Redeye Grill, a true New York Brasserie located across the street from Carnegie Hall, between Hell’s Kitchen and Midtown, Manhattan, is really the place to be. Did I mention live music… every night!

aaaa

After being poured a sample, we started with a bottle of Mittnach Riesling and bread. The live musician was singing some of our favorite songs. The lighting in the restaurant is somewhat dim- and it’s hard to stop staring at the unique art on the wall. This experience became even more perfect when our dinners came. We did not wait long at all. After a long day of carting around our new tools we purchased for work at the IBS show- we were so hungry! I ordered the Lobster Truffle Mac & Cheese. My friend got the steak tacos! They looked & smelled simply amazing. My mac and cheese was simply to die for. Cheese lovers- this dish was made for me and you!

The service is impeccable, and they do not forget anything. We had the leftovers packaged as we planned to bring back to the hotel to snack on while watching the Oscars in our comfy hotel beds.

The Redeye Grill is located just about three blocks from Central Park. I’d love to try the Redeye Grill for brunch during my next city adventure – and when the weather is warmer, take a stroll through the park. I’m tell you, this restaurant is in a great location!

I booked our reservation that same day, on Open Table. I love Open Table. If you’re not familiar with it, click my link to check out this website. It makes going out so much easier. You will truly be surprised at how many places on there you can truly find – and how many restaurants are already on there! Simply create an account, find your restaurant, read reviews, search their available times & click to book! I’ve never had an issue using open table. I have the app conveniently right on my iPhone. I personally feel that when searching for a place to drink & dine, this knocks Yelp and Google right out of the way!

Ready to book your reservation at The Redye Grill today? – Open Table.

Too comfy in that hotel bed? That’s okay, let’s Grub Hub.

Have you tried The Redeye Grill, or do you have any NYC restaurant recommendations for me? Let me know, Comment ↓↓↓

Till next time, T ♥