Wednesday, August 5, 2015

One Year Reflections.

Time can be such a funny thing - there are days that drag on and seem like time has to be moving backwards, or at least slowing down considerably. There are days that fly by, and you wonder where the time went. There are moments that end up being defining moments that you wish could last forever.

I can't believe it's been a year (officially) since Anthony and I have been dating. A year doesn't seem like enough time to fully capture what I feel, where I see things headed, how much we've done together, and how much love we have for each other. 

I can remember typing a blog post where I wrote about a breakup I had gone through and how it taught me what I truly want in someone. I think I even listed out the traits that I wanted in my "dream guy," expressing doubt that a thoughtful, handsome, driven, funny man actually existed out there.

Little did I know that on the other side of a double rainbow (Instagram post, but still), that person would be waiting for me. Someone who has encouraged me to speak up when I'm upset, who tells me I'm beautiful, even when I'm sick and am anything but, who from the get go was not afraid to tell me what he wanted or expected from his life and our relationship and once he realized that he wanted me in his life and wanted to be in a relationship, told me so and hasn't stopped telling me since.

Once our relationship started, and I realized how into it I was, I was absolutely terrified - terrified that I'd find out some dark secret that would show me how wrong I'd been, terrified that a switch would flip and Ant would morph into someone insecure or jealous or who was a man slut dating a million people at once and lying about how special he thought I was - but that day never came.

Now, after a year together - a year of vacations, of dates, of moving in and starting a life together, I can't wait to see what else is in store for us.

To my best friend, love of my life, adventure seeker, travel companion, list/Excel maker, planner, and everything else you are to me - thank you. 

Thank you for always being there, for calling me on my bullshit and not letting me hide from how I'm feeling, for making me comfortable to be uncomfortably vulnerable, for making the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the world, for bringing "just because" flowers more often than I can count, for making me laugh all the time, for putting flowers on Poppy's grave when I was in California and wasn't able to... thank you for leaving surprise love notes for me to find when you're gone for the weekend, for allowing me to have peace of mind and trust at all times because of what a genuinely good guy you are, and most of all, thank you for making me believe in true love.

These are some of the memories that I'll be holding onto from this first year.

First sleepover at my (now OUR) apartment meant pancakes in animal and letter shapes (see if you can figure out which one I flipped).

Halloween with Ant's friends, 2014 (I was Medusa, and in case you can't tell, planned my costume exactly two days in advance).

First month anniversary - this was where I realized yet again that I had a keeper, after he planned a date at Alice's Tea Cup on the Upper West, a place that was so completely me.

Bryant Park the first day I met Anthony's parents.

First trip together - we spent the weekend in my old stomping grounds of Philly. Coincidentally, we took this picture in Love Park before even saying "I love you." Also coincidentally, this was the trip that I realized I was in love with Anthony, further concretized when after my college girlfriends and I had too many drinks, he went out to get us Smart Water, Doritos, and other snacks - all without being asked.

Gift from Ant. The thoughtfulness, I cannot.

Free drinks at a Hoboken bar, from when we were helping to create recipes with a bartender we met that night.

My 27th at Press Lounge.

First Valentine's Day.

We had planned to go to a French restaurant for a prix fixe for V-Day. After it snowed 6+ inches in the Catskills, where we were spending the weekend at a B&B, we decided to cancel dinner plans and instead to walk to a pub for takeout food, then walk back (in the blizzard). It showed spontaneity, and we ended up having such a fun, laid back night together - without worrying about navigating windy roads (and limiting wine consumption).

Hoboken snow walks.

Hoboken Biergarten brings out the creep/dancer in us (after multiple drinks).

The bottomless brunch when we decided we wanted to move in together.

Wedding guest champs.

My Maine-r.

Ant's 28th birthday (Pier 13, then back to the Biergarten!).

Best roomie/chef ever.

My heart is full as I write this. I love you, Ant.

*Ant and I will be flying to Sedona, Arizona to celebrate our anniversary (many more to come!). If I'm absentee on your blogs, I will catch up upon our return. Until then, prepare to be flooded with Instagram posts (@littleallygator) of our trip!

xox lovelies, sorry for the photo and mush vomit.

Monday, July 27, 2015

California Love, Day 2.

Day two of the California adventure was a more laid back one without quite as much excitement throughout the day.

I had a business lunch with the VP of the engagement ring company I was working with, so with Anthony in tow, we met in Monrovia, California at Bella Sera for lunch. Because this was my first solo lunch out with the VP (and his wife, and Ant), I wasn't about to take food pictures, but Bella Sera is incredible. If you are ever in the Monrovia area, it is so worth a visit. Delicious Italian food, great salads, and a beautiful outdoor seating space. 

These are some pictures from my prior California trips, each which resulted in dinners at Bella Sera (I actually pushed for lunch there, so Ant could experience it). 

Monrovia itself is an adorable town, filled with little shops and restaurants, with the mountains in the background. Since Ant and I got to Monrovia early (we left Huntington SUPER early to try to avoid LA area rain traffic), we drove around and scoped out the neighborhood, which is filled with the cutest houses that are all so unique looking. We added this to the "definite contender" of places we could live. Huntington is still #1. 

After the business lunch, which lasted a considerably long time due to conversation about how we met, how the VP and his wife met, on top of the normal discussions about business and the training, Ant and I headed back to Huntington in the early evening.

It was the perfect night to head to Sandy's, a restaurant level with the beach, so if you sit in the glass enclosed area, you are literally looking out onto the sand, pier, and water. It's pretty special. 

Sandy's skillet cornbread with jalapeƱo honey butter, along with red/white wine before digging in to dinner.

We timed dinner perfectly so that we could get out and walk the pier, and be fully prepared for sunset that night. California sunsets are honestly on a whole new level - the pier adds a whole new way to experience the sights and take it all in. 

We headed back to the hotel to grab an additional layer of clothes before then heading back to the beach AGAIN to truly capture the sunset.

After "the boss" was satisfied that he effectively captured the sunset, we walked back over to the hotel to drink some beers by the outdoor fire pits at the Shorebreak, and then turn in easy. A big thing we tried for on this trip was NOT to get adjusted to California time since we were only there for 4 days, and that would be brutal to come home and have to switch back to East Coast time. Unfortunately this meant our bedtime was usually around 8:30 PM, but that also meant we were up very early each day to fully take advantage of the day. 

The next day was the most jam packed, and I had to work that morning, so the early bedtime was our best bet, despite wanting to stay up to do EVERYTHING we possibly could. 

These are Ant's pictures from his Nikon from this day (and one from the day prior). I don't mean to gush, but the guy is so talented that I cannot even handle it (I know I may be biased here).

How do you adjust to jet lag or time differences during short trips? 
Are you a planner when it comes to vacations, or do you wing it in terms of what you do during the day?


Sunday, July 19, 2015

California 2015 - Day 1

The last time I had been to California was in 2006, going to San Francisco with my family to visit my dad's college best friend/roommate. Because of college, busy schedules, and then work, my family never got a chance to head back out to California together.

As of 2015, I have been to California three times on three separate business trips. I was tasked to work as the corporate trainer for one of my company's accounts, an engagement ring company based out of California, with locations spanning across the West Coast. 

Traveling for work is fun when you're with someone, and luckily for two of the California trips, my coworkers accompanied me, and since she had this account for over ten years, she knew all the places to go for once our work was completed. For each trip, we stationed ourselves in Huntington Beach, which was the most centralized location to be able to travel all over the LA area in one hour (without traffic...which obviously never happened). 

Like I said, traveling for work when you're with someone is fun, however that was not always the case, as I spent days in Arizona alone, as well as separate trips to Texas completely by myself, and on weekends, since that was the only time that I could train the entire staff. It gets lonely eating by yourself, moving from hotel to hotel, and being cut off from everything going on back at home. 

When I found out I'd need to make another return trip to California, this time without my colleague, I decided that Anthony should tag along with me. Not only would that allow me to use the HOV lane on LA's many freeways, but it would give me company, and give Ant a chance to get out to the West Coast, where he'd never been (with most expenses paid by my company, since they had to already pay for my hotel, rental car, meals, plane ticket). We booked with no problem, luckily got seats on the same plane (next to each other - not always that simple), and Ubered to California at 5:30 a.m. 

Ready to go - Ant's first trip to the West Coast, and longest flight ever. 

Again, Huntington Beach was the destination to get settled in. We arrived to LAX on a beautiful cloudy day, and just as we got to the rental car place, it began to downpour. This required a two hour wait at the rental place, which thankfully still put us on the 405 by 2:30 PM, with time to beat traffic (though rain in LA caused some slight traffic issues - which Ant was BAFFLED by, even working in NYC). 

We checked into our hotel, the Shorebreak by Kimpton, my favorite place to stay in HB. At this point, it was pouring and we were absolutely starving, so we headed to Sancho's Tacos which is right off the PCH, and within walking distance to our hotel. This was my go to for other trips, and I still think the tacos are the best I've ever had. Plus the inside is really cool, so it makes for a great first stop. 

Somehow when booking a room, I lucked upon selecting one that delivered two local HB beers to our room. They were both DELICIOUS, and it was such a cute treat, and is another reason why I love the Kimpton so much. If you've never stayed in one, they're all boutique hotels, and no two are the same. Each one has decor tailored to that specific region - so since Huntington is so surf focused, the entire hotel has a surf theme, with gorgeous black and white photos of surfers and waves, boards everywhere, and rooms with showers big enough to fit a surfboard. Such a cool place to stay, and so tailored to the area, which gives it a great vibe. 

After eating and settling into the hotel, we looked outside and saw that the rain had let up, so we decided to venture out and walk the pier that Ant had heard me talk so much about (and go on Insta overload with). 

After watching the surfers and hanging out at the pier, we realized that the sun was here to stay. Ant wanted to head back to the hotel to grab his Nikon, and I couldn't be happier that we did the back and forth, since this was waiting for us as soon as we arrived back at the pier:

We spent the rest of the night at the pier, and down by the beach, with Ant snapping away and both of us taking in the California sun.

I take this shot in some form on everything single HB trip, this one being no exception.

I think we ended up going to bed by 7:45 PM local time, as the long day of travel was absolutely exhausting, but I was so happy that we got to see more of Huntington than just the hotel.