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Confession:  There’s an instagram account that sends me into a tizzy every time they post.  Beyond social media, the location is serene, the rooms are beautiful, and the staff is unparalleled.

And.

After our amazing honeymoon last year, I knew we had to go back this year… so I booked a St. Regis Florence river view room…. because what is Florence without A Room with a View?  (Props to you if you got the literary reference there.  Your high school served you well.)

journey of doing - St. Regis Florence River Viewpinthisimage

As I mentioned, there’s a lot of reasons to the love the St. Regis Florence.  For me, a lot of it centers around the aspirational decor.  They have a way with paint colors that makes my happy heart sing.  Some day, if I own a house with high ceilings, I will likely replicate all of their paint colors in my house.  They have dramatic antique furnishings, beautiful drapery, and the most comfortable beds in all of Italy.  Seriously – everything about this hotel is dramatic and perfect.  My husband and I would both stare in awe at the antique paintings that depict Florence from several centuries ago and it hasn’t really changed at all.  I could stare for hours at those paintings.

Both of the rooms I’ve stayed in have windows that open, and I throughly enjoyed listening to the Arno rush by my window during my afternoon naps.  When I lived in Florence, I lived on Via dei Servi, two short blocks from the Duomo, and while that location was amazing as a young college student, the location of the St. Regis Florence can’t be beat for a relaxing vacation in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

journey of doing - St. Regis Florence River Viewpinthisimage

journey of doing - St. Regis Florence River Viewpinthisimage

The white marble bathrooms are another reason to love the St. Regis.  The river view room had the added bonus of having beautiful doors that not only let in a lot of light but also allowed you to enjoy the sounds of the river as you bathed, showered, or got ready.  In the evenings, you can enjoy the lights lining the Arno.  (Florence is a magical, magical place… if you haven’t experienced it for yourself, you must experience it… particularly in the spring or the fall when the crowds are fewer, the weather is beautiful, and you can experience all my favorite parts of the city.)

I digress though…  it’s not just the view that makes the bathroom amazing… it’s the full size soaking tub and the Acqua di Parma bath salts that come with it… it’s the huge shower with multiple shower heads and sprayers and the Remede sundries that are the best way to recharge after a long day roaming the city.  Everything about the St. Regis Florence is luxury.  And every detail is relaxing.

journey of doing - St. Regis Florence River Viewpinthisimage

journey of doing - St. Regis Florence River Viewpinthisimage

I read on a message board once that staying at the St. Regis Florence was akin to staying in Times Square.

Those.  People.  Are.  Crazy.

First of all, the St. Regis is TWO bridges down from the Ponte Vecchio.  It’s a 10-15 walk from the city center, a 10-15 minute walk from the Boboli Gardens, a 20-25 minute walk to the Piazza Michelangelo, and a 10 minute walk from the train station.  The location is unbeatable, it’s quiet, and it’s beautiful.  Don’t let anyone tell you different.  I think there tends to be a Four Seasons vs. St. Regis debate… but for me, the St. Regis wins by default because of their location on the Arno.  I mean, is there anything better than waking up to this?!

journey of doing - St. Regis Florence river viewpinthisimage

I really love the staff at the St. Regis.  Andrea is one of the kindest and friendliest people you will ever meet.  He is very, very, very good at his job, and I think he sincerely enjoys making your trip to Florence memorable.  The day before we left, he left us a kind note with a hand-drawn picture of the tasseled key and the Duomo.  It’s one of my favorite mementos from Florence because it encapsulated everything I love – the Duomo (obvi), the St. Regis, and Florentine kindness.  Stephanie, the front office manager, has personally greeted us on both of our stays and ensured that we were happy with our accommodations and that our experience was unparalleled.  The Concierge has secured us reservations at our favorite restaurant (Trattoria Sostanza… more of the most amazing and friendliest Italians you will ever meet!) and jumped into rush hour traffic to secure us a cab (and warned them not to take advantage of us by taking the long way).  And then there’s the Clarins Iridium Suites Spa.  Not only did they squeeze me in at the last minute for make up before our portraits with the amazing Cristiano, but every single person in the spa made sure I was comfortable and happy.  Between my limited French and Italian, the entire spa staff worked together to ensure that I was happy with my make-up.  And… I’m proud to say that my husband was EXTREMELY happy with it.  (He always worries that they are going to apply too much make up and I won’t look like me…)  He actually says that I took his breath away and it was the prettiest he’s ever seen me look.  High praise, high praise.  (I just wish I had thought to get my hair done and had my dress altered/pressed… that’s the only thing I don’t like about these pictures…. both my fault.  I literally bought that dress the morning we boarded the plane for Europe.)

journey of doing - facibeni fotographia pinthisimage

journey of doing - Facibeni Fotographiapinthisimage

journey of doing - St. Regis Florence River Viewpinthisimage

all photo credit to the amazing Facibeni Fotographia

I say all that to say that the St. Regis Florence is really an amazing experience and it remains one of my favorite hotels in the world.   If you’re looking for the room with THE view, the most amazing staff ever, or even just the best place to relax and recharge, look no further.  We seriously considered staying… oh… another week and a half, but Cristiano told us how amazing Budapest was… so we continued on our original journey… but those few days in Florence were particularly amazing, and I can promise you that we’ll be back.  At the St. Regis.

 

Wanderful Wednesdaypinthisimage

Thanks to Lauren on Location, What a Wonderful World (Marcella), Snow in Tromso (Van), and The Sunny Side of This (Isabel) for a new place for travel inspiration!

 

  • Christine - Oh wow, what a gorgeous place!ReplyCancel

  • Diana L - I like the hotel just by reading what you have to say about it! And I love how your pictures came out!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - This is definitely one of the most luxurious and beautiful hotel rooms I have ever seen! And in one of my favorite cities in the whole world… Can’t get much better than that! I’ve been to Florence a few times now, but have never stayed right on the river …. That may be up next! Such beautiful photos!

    Thanks for sharing 😀ReplyCancel

  • cara - Oh my goodness that is breathtaking beautiful! How fancy!ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - I’m obsessed with these pictures!! LOVE your dress and the scenery is amazing. Please frame them all.ReplyCancel

  • Gina - This looks incredible!!!ReplyCancel

  • Van @ Snow in Tromso - Wow this hotel looks absolutely stunning! I guess I would feel like a royal staying there 😉ReplyCancel

  • Kate @ Green Fashionista - What a gorgeous place, every last detail is magnificent! And loving your photo shoot – stunning <3
    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Marcella ~ WhatAWonderfulWorld - Swoon!! That view and in fact, the whole room looks incredible! What a stunning place to stay, I don’t think I would ever want to leave the room!! 😀ReplyCancel

  • Julie @ Running in a Skirt - How lovely! Florence was one of my favorite cities in Italy and I LOVE a nice hotel. The room and view is dreamy!ReplyCancel

  • Isabel - What a sweet honeymoon photoshoot and hotel. You guys look so happy and relaxed!!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda Elizabeth - Take me away! Looks like ultimate decadent paradise!ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Martinis & Bikinis - What a gorgeous city and that hotel room is magazine ready! Such pretty photos from your trip and somewhere I’ve never experienced before even through pictures!ReplyCancel

Fatherpinthisimage

Dear Papa Fred,

It’s been seven months and five days since I could talk to you. Seven long months and five days since your calm and measured voice could calm me down, celebrate my successes, and give me your wisdom. I’ve been dreading today since June started. Every time I thought about the Harvard conference, I would think about sitting in my hotel room last year and calling to wish you happy Father’s Day. I felt so guilty that I wasn’t there to celebrate with you – not that it would have mattered – you never cared about THE DAY – but I hated missing it. Now I know why… because it would be the last one though there’s no way I could have known that at the time.  This year, there is no guilt… just overwhelming sadness because you’re no longer here with me.

I spent the first part of the flight to Boston working on data. We have a principal meeting on Tuesday, and I know you would tell me to know my numbers. To talk about our accomplishments. To be confident. And so…. I’m focusing on our numbers and how we’ve grown the program since last year. There’s a lot to be proud of, we just have to put it into words. So… I’ve been trying to do that but you’re never far from my thoughts. You were my biggest cheerleader, my inspiration, and my role model for all things ASP… and without you here to share it with makes it all seem a little less important, which I know sounds irrational, but I always knew you understood my passion for education and eighteen-year-olds and their not-fully-formed brains with so much potential. I never had to justify it to you.

I would give anything to tell you about the “Carter 6” – the six Carter High School students who received full scholarships from TCU a few months ago. In fact, I probably would have insisted that you come to the presentation so you could hear their stories. Last summer you told me that you wanted to go teach in South Dallas, so maybe we could have gotten you a dual-credit gig at Carter. You would have loved those kids.

I would tell you about our 2 Gates Millennium Scholars – the kid from South Oak Cliff High School who not so sarcastically talked about how “you’re not you when your hungry” when talking about the poverty of his community – a play off the cavalier Snickers slogan and the rape survivor who was bullied throughout high school and still wants to become a leader in her community.

I would tell you about how Demetrius continues to amaze and inspire me in spite of all the nonsense thrown his way and you would remind me that you just knew he was going to be great. You would advise me on how to handle all the new principal changes being thrown our way and how to make sure our successes are passed on… and more than likely, you would also remind me that every time I worry about these things, things work out.

Despite knowing what you would say, I miss you more than words could ever express. The last seven months have been so lonely without you here. I know that I was consumed with agonizing grief when Daddy died when I was 10, but my grief feels magnified this time. A lot of things haven’t been the same since you died and I don’t know how to fix them. I try not to be bitter that this has happened to me twice, but I am. I miss both of my dads with every fiber of my being. My anxiety is sky high and I find myself worrying that, in another single instant, I’ll lose yet another person I love. Some days are better than others but it’s never far from my thoughts. I hate that.

I think you know how much I loved you. I hope you did. How proud I was to be your daughter (never step). How much I admired you. How thankful I was that you chose to be a dad to that brokenhearted little girl who missed her dad so much when you came along yet learned to love you too. To quote a song that has haunted me since November 15, 2016 –

all of me
loves all of you

Until we meet again.

Love,
Sara

  • Susannah - I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m sure it feels so much nearer today! <3<3<3 Sending you my love!ReplyCancel

  • Kate @ Green Fashionista - Such a beautiful and sweet post to an amazing man! Sending you lots of *hugs* this weekend <3ReplyCancel

  • Sara McCarty - Sending you so much love.ReplyCancel

  • cara - So sorry for your loss! This was a beautiful post in his memory. He sounds like a great Daddy, and sending over a hug and prayers!ReplyCancel

  • Leslie M - Oh Sara…I have no words! The emotion you feel for this incredible man is crystal clear through your words in this beautiful post!ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Wish I could give you a big hug right now! This was a beautiful post. Sending you lots of love girlfriend. XoxoReplyCancel

  • Pinky - Oh friend, this heart my heart when I first read it and now again as I comment. So wish I could give you a hug. Your post is an incredible tribute to an incredible man who you can tell loved you very much. I’m sure he knows how much you loved him. <3ReplyCancel

Ah yes.  Summertime… the time when the temperatures go up, my desire to do things goes down, and we all need a little more motivation. Luckily, I’m teaming up with Steph to try and keep myself accountable… and I encourage you all to join us with your summer goals, bucket lists, and whatever else you want to hold yourself accountable for this summer.

But first, let’s see how I did this spring…

  • (Half-win) Settle (back) into our house. My husband has agreed to let me organize our house… so here’s hoping that I can make good on that promise and get us really and truly organized.  (I made progress here but it’s nowhere near done.  I blame the fact that we didn’t exactlyyyyy get home as soon as I thought we would.)
  • Settle back into an exercising regime. (I so want to do one of Kelsey’s Pure Barre challenges when I get back to our neighborhood.)  Nope.  Need to move more.
  • (Win)  Settle back into a work routine and get more organized. (I’m going to LOVE not having that commute anymore.)  Yes… yes I do love not having that commute anymore.  I’m also making progress on the routine and organization.
  • Settle the office into some semblance of normal and get rid of unused furniture in (and around) my office once and for all…   This will be rolling over to summer.
  • Finish the NSC data list so we can get that data going, particularly since I’m sending my staff to data training next month!   My computer crashed when I was 75% done and I was so mad I haven’t looked at it since.  Need to do this.
  • (WIN!) Go visit my (first) sweet baby before she graduates from Harvard for one last undergraduate adventure with her.
  • (Win!)  Turn in my JLD placement choices and don’t take on too much for the upcoming year… (I’ll be at Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts!)
  • (Win!)  Be ready to unplug from work when we go on our trip to Europe next month… because life’s too short not to be where my feet are.

journey of doing - summer goalspinthisimage

  • Take unused boxes to storage and get them out of my office.
  • Finish scanning old files into our system and get rid of all the paper once and for all.
  • Plan our anniversary trip (and actually take it)
  • Consign my clothes that I won’t wear again (anyone have experience with sending things to The Real Real?)
  • Get our data together and sent to NSC so we can start running some real data analysis.
  • Plan a couple summer date nights
  • Edit our Europe 2016 pictures, JP’s graduation pictures, and Julian’s promotion pictures
  • Update my professional bucket list!



  • HEATHER CARRIER - Summer night dates are always so fun to plan and attend, lol. Good luck on your goals this Summer!!ReplyCancel

  • Steph G - Being paper free takes so much time, but it’s worth it in the end. Happy Summering!ReplyCancel

  • SMD @ Life According to Steph - Ah, going paperless. My life dream. Unfortunately MFD loves to hoard paper.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - You did good in spring! I did laugh at the computer crashing one, I did exactly the same when I was uploading photos – it was so close to done and then crashed and I was like NOPE. Still sitting there.
    Good luck in summer! Any ideas yet for your anniversary?ReplyCancel

  • Kate @ Green Fashionista - Summer date nights are the best! And I’m so glad you were able to completely unplug while on your Europe trip, such an amazing feeling. Happy Friday gurlie <3
    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Rox-Anne - I am always crossing out exercise in my to do list. I’m going to try and put it back into the rotation this weekend… or I’ll just end up with a drink sitting in my backyard. Yeah, that sounds better 😀 Happy Friday! xx Rox-Anne, Celebratingthislife.caReplyCancel

  • Gina - Love your list! Do you have a drive in movie theater near by? I think that is such a fun summer-y date night!
    I have had terrible luck with consigning clothes lately. I”ll have to check out the real real!ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Oooh an anniversary trip! Yessss. Where are you thinking about going?!ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Martinis & Bikinis - You got some good stuff accomplished considering you were traveling. Looking forward to hearing about your Europe trip.ReplyCancel

  • Betsy Glen - Those are great goals! I always say I’m going to do more photo editing but it can definitely be time consuming.ReplyCancel

Good morning friends!!  It’s the best day of the week – the week when I spend my free time blog hopping and finding new places to go, reminiscing on past adventures, and lusting over beautiful pictures.  Which brings me to my #WanderfulWednesday post – I need you all to help me choose a photo!  My sweet friend Erin already narrowed the options down for you (because I can dump all.the.photos. on her without judgement), but I need you to help me choose the finalist (because I’m bad at these kinds of decisions)…. so if you would, please cast your vote below!  🙂

 

journey of doing - A different side of Vernazzapinthisimage

A Different Side of Vernazza

Charles Bridge Praguepinthisimage

Charles Bridge Prague

Sun-drenched Florencepinthisimage

Sun-drenched Florence

Sunrise in Venicepinthisimage

Sunrise in Venice

Twilight in Cinque Terrepinthisimage

Twilight in Cinque Terre

Wanderful Wednesdaypinthisimage

Thanks to Lauren on Location, What a Wonderful World (Marcella), Snow in Tromso (Van), and The Sunny Side of This (Isabel) for a new place for travel inspiration!

 

My brother-in-law and I have a special bond.  I’m not entirely sure how we developed it (maybe it’s because we’re both engineers) but we tend to think on the same wavelength.  We can sit next to each other and laugh at the same things, speak the same unspoken thoughts, and last Christmas, it manifested itself in us giving each other the EXACT same gift (a poster of his house at Harvard – so something completely random) for different reasons.  I also love his wife – she’s kind, warm, welcoming, and quietly hilarious.  When they announced they were pregnant, I immediately knew that I wanted to throw them a baby shower… but as I thought more about it, I really wanted my brother-in-law to be part of the celebrations because this was something he also has been desperately waiting for, so I decided a coed baby shower was definitely the way to go.

I ordered the invitations from Minted* because I figured their envelope addressing service would save me time and make it really easy for our assistant to mail them while we were out of town in April.  They didn’t disappoint and mailing them was a breeze!   If you haven’t used Minted’s envelope addressing service yet you are seriously missing out.  Not only is mailing a snap, but the envelope options are endless.  I’ve got everyone’s addresses at the tips of my fingertips at all times!

journey of doing - coed baby showerpinthisimage

After deciding on the invitations, I had all these great ideas for the shower… but pretty much everything had to go out the window when I got really sick after coming back from DC.  I kept thinking that I would knock the cold and be able to get back to it… which never happened.

Coed Baby Shower Decor

Because we were expecting over 30 people, I ordered tables and chairs from Ducky Bob’s.  The white resin folding chairs were safe to use on our hardwood floors and they arrived perfectly clean and packaged.  I ordered three round tables for dinner and a large square table for the onesie making station.  My only complaint about the tables (aside from the linen issue below) is that they didn’t all have the foot pads on the bottom of them, so we were really concerned about them scratching our floors.

Coed Baby Shower Tablespinthisimage

Note to you: 72″ tables require 90″ tablecloths to even come close to fitting… and even those didn’t look as good as I wanted them to.  The 70″ Kate Spade Larabee Dot tablecloths* I had picked up at Marshall’s didn’t come anywhere close to fitting.    I also couldn’t find a solid tablecloth anywhere in Dallas… what I ended up with looked fine but it wasn’t really what I had in mind.  I should have just included them with the rental and called it a day.  I snagged the Kate Spade Harbor Drive table runners* in platinum off the clearance rack at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  For dishes, I used my china, crystal, silverware, and table linens that we received for our wedding.  It was really fun to break out the new (and pretty) stuff for such a fun celebration!

Coed Baby Shower Detailspinthisimage

Because the shower was in the middle of graduation season, I had a hard time finding plain white roses for the table.  I ended up picking up these roses at Sam’s and actually got a lot of compliments.  People were surprised that 1) they were real and 2) they weren’t designer.  I bought them the day before, cut the stems, added flower food to the water, and arranged them myself.  By Saturday morning they were blossoming and filling out the vases.

I ordered a handful of the sweet maternity pictures that Creative Clicks Photography took of the parents-to-be a few weeks before the shower.  I bought plain white frames and set them around the tables.  The pictures were just too pretty not to include, and at the end of the shower, I sent them home with Omar and Marleni so they they could use the frames if they wanted to and so that they had some prints of their maternity pictures.

journey of doing - coed baby showerpinthisimage

Coed Baby Shower Activity

My sister-in-law definitely told me that she was not into games at her shower, nor did she have any interest in having people try and guess how big she was with a ribbon.  (Totally agree.)   At Erin’s shower, we had a onesie station so I knew I wanted to do something like that.

journey of doing - coed baby showerpinthisimage

 

Enter Kristin from A lil’ Moore.

Kristin.  Is.  The.  Sweetest.  Ever.  (And NO this is not a sponsored post… but you can follow her on instagram here!)

I found Kristin on Etsy less than a week before the shower, and within two days, she had her kit in my hands!  The kit included absolutely everything you need to decorate onesies at a baby shower – rubber stamps, ink pads, glitter, glue, fabric safe markers, iron-on transfers, “hangers” that will prevent bleed through, jute, clothespins to display everyone’s handiwork AND all the nicest, SOFTEST onesies you need.  It arrived in an easy-to-carry-easy-to-store box with the sweetest branding ever!  I was absolutely blown away by how much thought and detail was put into every single piece of her kit.

journey of doing - coed baby showerpinthisimage

journey of doing - coed baby showerpinthisimage

So.  Here’s the craziest thing about Kristin’s kit.  EVERYONE got into it.  We had some young kids there and they had fun decorating the onesies.  We had some older kids there.  They had fun decorating the onesies.  But most surprisingly?!  THE MEN GOT INTO IT.  Particularly Tony… who might be one of my favorite people ever.  I just wish I had snapped the picture of him ironing the transfers on to the onesies. He made SO many and it was basically the cutest thing ever.  My favorite was his future Harvard grad onesie (his son and my brother-in-law were students together at Harvard).

journey of doing - coed baby showerpinthisimage

journey of doing - coed baby showerpinthisimage

  Coed Baby Shower Menu

 

As I mentioned, I was sick, sick, sick… so Maggiano’s saved the day when we called in our order a mere few hours before the shower.  We ordered the following items and had more than enough food and bread:

  • Maggiano’s Salad
  • Famous Rigatoni D
  • Mom’s Lasagna
  • Four Cheese Ravioli

journey of doing - coed baby shower

Central Market saved the day with the desserts – we picked up cupcakes and cookies.  Everyone RAVED about the cupcakes… I even got calls after the fact to find out where we got them.  I added the sprinkles myself and called it a day.

journey of doing - coed baby showerpinthisimage

Lastly, my sweet sister-in-law loves her pina coladas, so I figured out a non-alcoholic alternative… and again, it turned out that people really enjoyed it.  I filled my punch dispenser with ice, poured in the ingredients below, and stirred it until everything was fully mixed and I was happy with the color.  Easiest party punch ever.

Overall, despite the hiccoughs of the day, the shower ended up being absolutely perfect and I loved being able to celebrate my in-laws.  It was also the first party we got to host in our new home… and it gave us the bug to do more hosting, so you can look forward to that.  😉

journey of doing - family showerpinthisimage

  • Erin - THIS SHOWER! Total and complete perfection! I love every single detail down to the blue roses (total win BTW. White is so boring 😉 )ReplyCancel

  • Pinky - WOW, you did an amazing job, lady! Seriously, coolest coed baby shower ever. Love the decor [those flowers], activities and the food! Well done!ReplyCancel

  • Leslie M - Wow girl…you are quite the “Hostess with the Mostess!” Soooo impressive!ReplyCancel

  • Kate @ Green Fashionista - Wow everything looked AMAZING! You totally rocked every aspect of this shower from the decor, to the menu, to the entertainment, and the little details. Your brother and sister in-law are so blessed <3
    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Christine - I love this! I’ve always wished that men were part of the baby shower more…dads are just as important! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Gina - Oh how sweet! I love it all.ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Loveee everything about this (besides you being sick)!! It turned out perfectly! Those roses are kind of amazing and now I want to go to Sams and look for them…ReplyCancel

  • Biana - You did such a wonderful job! I love the idea of decorating the onesies and they are all unique!! xo, Biana –BlovedBostonReplyCancel

  • Mandy - That shower looks amazing! Those flowers! And the onesies are so cute! That was a great idea! You did a great job! 🙂ReplyCancel