36 hours in louisville

Two weeks ago, Matt and I drove two and a half hours south to Louisville, Kentucky. Our five-year wedding anniversary was at the beginning of July, and wanted to get away, if only for a night, to celebrate. On our honeymoon we decided we'd go to Rome for our 5th anniversary (LOL - a major house renovation derailed that plan) so then we talked about Charleston, Nashville, South Haven? Then we decided to nix a trip altogether, with the renovation and all that we have going on. My mom encouraged us to go somewhere - anywhere - just for some time away to recharge, and I'm so grateful for her encouragement (and babysitting!) Matt is a big bourbon lover, so we settled on Louisville - it was close, super affordable and we could do some of the bourbon trail while we there.

I was totally surprised by how cool Louisville is, even if you aren't a huge bourbon or horse racing fan! There was so much to see and do, the food was amazing and everyone we met was so nice. We will definitely be back!

Tons of instagram followers gave me great suggestions on where to eat and what to do, so I figured I'd pay it forward and share our trip with you, if you ever find yourself in Louisville or decide to plan a trip!

We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott at 2nd and Main, which was a great location. Right on Whiskey Row, walkable to the riverfront and Bats stadium, and a short one-mile walk to East Market/NuLu, which is such a cute area. If I had to do it over again, I'd probably stay at the AC Hotel in NuLu, but the Courtyard was great for one night and a quick stay!

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After checking in, we headed to Feast BBQ which was a great way to kick off our trip. Matt got the sliced brisket and I got the pulled pork and both were amazing. I really liked the vibe of the place, too. They had some cool-sounding cocktails - we tried the bourbon slushie and it was amazing.

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We wandered around the East Market/NuLu area after lunch, which is just the coolest neighborhood. I really loved the artwork on the buildings and all the potted plants - like this collection of flowers growing in buckets and old sinks!

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We checked out some really cool shops, like Scout (above) and Mahonia (below). Both were so well curated and total eye candy. They had me dreaming about the day I own my own shop full of gorgeous home goods, plants, antiques, who knows what else! I got so much inspiration from both places.

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We popped into Please & Thank You for chocolate chip cookies, which were unanimously recommended as the BEST cookies in Louisville. They definitely did not disappoint, and we even brought one home for Xavier! My parents always brought my brothers and I little treats when they went away on trips, and I love the idea of starting that same tradition.

The Bats were playing at home, so we decided to take in a ball game while we were there (Matt is a huge baseball fan!) and it was fun to check that off the summer bucket list. Afterwards, we stopped by Garage Bar to get a drink, but it was crazy crowded and not necessarily my vibe (loud music and lots of college-aged kids) so we headed down the street a bit further and ended up at Nouvelle, a wine bar that also came highly recommended. There was live jazz in the courtyard and it was the perfect way to end our evening! AKA, we are old.

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We started day two with breakfast at Toast on Market. Matt had the blueberry cheesecake french toast (amazing!) and I had the blt scramble with a lemon souffle pancake on the side - just as delicious as it sounds. We both enjoyed kentucky mimosas (bourbon, orange, bitters, sparkling wine) and now I am obsessed with this version of my fave bubbly brunch drink!

After breakfast, we drove to the St. Joseph neighborhood to grab coffee at Sunergos (iced chai was amazing) and looked at all the cute old shotgun houses. It looked like a cool area of the city as well, right near the campus of University of Louisville!

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We headed back to East Market to wander through Joe Ley Antiques, which was THE coolest antique store I've ever been to. Three floors of cool, quirky old stuff. I'd love to explore it way more in depth on our next trip!

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We headed to the Butchertown neighborhood next to tour Copper & King's Distillery. It was so neat to learn about brandy, gin and absinthe distillation, and their rooftop bar has an amazing view of downtown Louisville!

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Butchertown seemed like a cool area as well, with lots of street art and some cute shops. We wandered around Work the Metal, which is kind of like a giant Silver in the City for you Indy folks. There were two ladies from the nearby St. Joseph's Church who were accepting donations for their campaign to save their church steeples - the tallest steeples in Louisville. The church has an amazing history and is so beautiful - we happily donated to the cause! Their parish pastor is currently doing a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago to raise funds - you can read all about his journey (and donate to the campaign!) at www.wherespadre.org :)

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From there, we headed to the historic Stitzel-Weller distillery outside Louisville to do the Bulleit experience. It was so neat to tour the property, learn about the history of the grounds and do a bourbon tasting. The distillery is super historic and so cool-looking, and I highly recommend it as a stop on the bourbon trail! Our tour guide was Greg, and he was fantastic.

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After Bulleit, we grabbed lunch at Gravely Brewing, which was another instagram recommendation, and it did not disappoint. It has a great view of the city from it's top patio area, the Mayan Street Food tacos were amazing, and it has a super cute photobooth which made for a fun trip souvenir.

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We made one last stop in NuLu for ice cream at Louisville Cream, and stumbled upon the CUTEST little shotgun house (that pink door!) Then it was time to hit the road and head back home to our babies.

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It was such a great quick trip, the perfect way to celebrate five sweet years together (how perfect was this wall downtown?!) and we'll definitely be back soon!

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LOUISVILLE HIGHLIGHTS 

(the sparknotes version)

  • Feast BBQ on East Market
  • Mahonia on East Market
  • Scout on East Market
  • Toast on Market
  • Please & Thank You in NuLu
  • Joe Ley Antiques in NuLu
  • Nouvelle in NuLu
  • Sunergos Coffee Roasters in St. Joseph
  • Copper & King's in Butchertown
  • Work the Metal in Butchertown
  • Gravely Brewing Co. in 
  • Bulleit at Stitzel-Weller Distillery
  • Louisville Cream on East Market

Other recommendations from Instagram friends that we didn't have time to explore:

  • Troll Bar
  • The Seelbach (hotel, cool to wander around)
  • The Brown (hotel, cool to wander around)
  • Silver Dollar (restaurant, get the Kentucky Mule or the Ol Rough & Ready)
  • Big Four Walking Bridge (best views of skyline, go during the daytime, super cute pizza place on Jeffersonville side!)
  • Mussel & Burger Bar (downtown location only, great vibe and some of the best burgers in town)
  • El Taco Luchador
  • Just Creations
  • Lola
  • Ramsi's on Bardstown Road (Bardstown Rd. is also cool to explore!)
  • The Highlands neighborhood
  • Wallace Station in Versailles (good restaurant if you tour Woodford Reserve)

Louisville friends, any other must-sees or must-dos? Would love any and all recommendations!

 

flying with a toddler

Over Thanksgiving, we spent a week in Utah with Matt's parents to visit Matt's brother and SIL and our nephew. It was such a great trip and so fun to see the boys playing together. During our last visit out there, Xavier wasn't even crawling yet! And when they came in June, he was crawling but still not super mobile. It was a whole different ball game this time!

Speaking of a whole different ball game, I knew flying across the country with a 14-month old was going to be way different than flying with an almost 8-month old, which is the last time we flew. Factor in me being 11 weeks pregnant (and also pretty petrified of flying) and you can imagine how stressed I was leading up the trip.

I tried to prepare as best as I could, and gave myself lots of pep talks about how we'd survive, regardless of how Xavier behaved. We were flying with Matt's parents, and Xavier adores them, so I knew we had extra hands and help if we needed.

All things considered, it went so well! I chalk that up to Xav's sweet temperament, ideal timing for flights (thanks, Karen!), and also our preparations ahead of time, which I want to share here.

The flight time was four hours, so I broke that down into shorter segments. I wanted to have enough activities to occupy him for the whole time, assuming he didn't sleep at all. When we've flown with him in the past (These flights were his 11th and 12th overall), he was a lot younger and a lot smaller, and slept a lot in our laps. Now that he's bigger and much busier, I knew I couldn't bank on him crashing in our arms. Although, he did end up sleeping on both flights, which was a huge surprise and major gift!

So, I broke the 4-hour flight into twelve 20-minute blocks, which felt like a safe amount of time for him to be entertained by one thing. I downloaded a handful of Daniel Tiger episodes to our iPad - with Amazon Prime, you can download episodes for free, and once you're in airplane mode, you have 48 hours to watch the downloaded video, so it worked out great for the flights. We bought this iPad holder to attach the iPad to the tray table, and these mini headphones for him to wear. Although we try to keep screen time to a minimum at home, all bets are off when we're traveling, for our sake and also everyone else on the plane. The holder worked great - it attached to the headrest in the car for the longer car rides, and also worked great on the tray table.

Even after factoring in screen time, I had 8 more 20-minute blocks to fill, so I decided to have a different, new activity for each block. I bought a variety of inexpensive toys and activities, things he's never seen before and that I hoped would entertain him. I got an old-school metal Slinky, a pack of pipe cleaners, a pack of feathers, a little ball, a mini Magnadoodle, a hand puppet, a pinwheel and a package of post-its to stick all over the tray table and window. We also packed a few of his favorite books and a handful of his favorite toys. And of course, snacks and his water bottle, too.

I figured between the screen time, all the new toys he's never seen, walking up and down the aisle, snack breaks and diaper changes, we'd have plenty to do to keep him occupied. And I was right! The flight passed without much of a hitch. We didn't end up using much of the stuff I bought (go figure) because he ended up falling asleep pretty quickly on both flights, but I'm not going to complain about that!

Also, I mentioned this in this post about flying with babies, but I want to mention it again. We considered checking our car seat at the check-in counter and not gate-checking it this time. Xavier is still in the infant bucket seat, which snaps onto our stroller, but he doesn't ride that way in the stroller anymore, he sits in it like a big kid. I didn't think he would like sitting in the bucket seat to be pushed all through the airport. But I read a bunch of articles recommending that you always gate-check a carseat, because of the way luggage (carseats included) get thrown around. I didn't want to take the chance that our very nice carseat would get damaged, so we decided to gate-check and just hope he sat in the seat attached to the stroller without too much protesting. As it turned out, I forgot the attachment pieces to attach the carseat to the stroller (because we haven't used them in months!) so we ended up just slipping the carseat over the handle of our rolling suitcase and carrying it that way. Anyway, my whole point is that I'm SO glad we decided to gate check the seat, because our flight home wasn't full, so we were able to bring the seat on board and Xavier got his own space and didn't have to be held! So always, always plan to gate check and always, always ask at the desk if the flight is completely full and if not, if you can bring your seat on board. 

Traveling with kids is not easy, but it's also not impossible. With lots of planning beforehand, it can be done, and you will survive! Xavier has been on 12 individual flights in his short life - the first when he was 3 months old - and we're still here to tell the tale. I'm so grateful that we're making the most of the "kids fly free" thing, and getting to explore the country (and world - we go to Mexico next month!) and make memories with our sweet boy!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving week! xo!

keinsley's go to utah!

Matt's brother Andrew and his wife Jennilyn and their 10-month old son (our first nephew and godson!) live in Ogden, Utah, where Andrew is a professor of economics at Weber State University, and this past weekend we went out to visit them for the first time! They just bought this adorable 1940s fixer-upper so we did lots of work on the house, waited out a crazy windstorm that knocked out power for 24+ hours, did some hiking and exploring (Ogden is beautiful!) and even went up to Idaho for a few hours to visit my aunt and uncle! It was such a fun whirlwind of a trip and we were able to cross of a state I'd never been to before! Can't wait to go back - maybe minus the windstorm ;)

Xavier did awesome on the flight! He's now taken three round trips in seven months - for a total of ten flights! He's a travel pro.

Ogden has mountains all around it, making it absolutely beautiful. The view out of Andrew and Jennilyn's front door - at both their new house and their rental - is awesome!

It was awesome to drive up to Idaho for a few hours and grab lunch with my aunt and see their new house! All of my dad's siblings used to live in Arizona and California but now they're kind of all scattered, so it's nice to connect with them when we can. And my aunt and uncle's place is gorgeous. I just can't get over the mountain views! Xavier got to meet a donkey and horse for the first time, too! I was too scared to touch them...little know fact: horses freak me out!

We also went to Antelope Island for a bit to see the Great Salt Lake! Too be honest, I wasn't expecting much, but it was SO COOL! First of all, it is huge. Second of all, mountains everywhere! Third of all, it has these crazy big salt flats that are wild! And finally, buffalo! For as much as I dislike/am afraid of horses, I love buffalo. There's random fact #2 for the day.

On our last morning, we went for a little hike before heading to the airport. It was beautiful, with a literal babbling brook almost the whole way up! It was also our first time carrying Xavier in a back carry using our Liliebaby carrier and it's safe to say we will be using the HECK out of this thing this summer!

Until next time, Utah!

 

 

HELLO AGAIN + THAT TIME WE WENT TO HAWAII

Hiiiiiii, you guys!! I can hardly believe it's been three months since I last blogged. Well actually, I can believe it, because life with a baby seems to move faster than ever. Whoosh. We are slowly finding our footing, establishing some rhythms + routines and I'm feeling a lot less frantic these days. Three cheers for that!

I've realized over the past couple months how much I truly miss blogging, just for the fun of it. No sponsors, no editorial calendars or agenda or pressure. Just sharing (oversharing, most likely) our life with all you sweet souls over the interwebz. Home projects, baby photos, trips + adventures and my continually evolving capsule wardrobe. The big and the little, the exciting and the mundane, the major and the minutiae. And now that I don't have a Facebook account any longer, I hope this space helps keep our faraway friends + family up-to-date on our life. Don't worry, I'm well aware that all anyone really cares about are updated Xavier photos - so prepare yourself for lots of those. Starting with our trip to Hawaii last month!

My parents have been planning this trip for a long time. So long, in fact, that Matt and I did our best to time having a baby to ensure we could still make it. I didn't want to be so pregnant that I couldn't fly, and we didn't want to have so tiny of a baby that would make travel nearly impossible. Of course, there's no such thing as ensuring anything when it comes to babies, but thankfully God saw fit for us to get pregnant when we did, and so we found ourselves flying to Hawaii with a 3-month old on December 27th.

Traveling with a little baby for that far and for that long (two weeks!) felt like no small feat, but thankfully Xavier did great on the flights and having my parents around to help with Xavier during vacation was such a godsend. And now we feel like travel pros! I mean, it took 19 hours total elapsed time for us to get to Hawaii, which isn't exactly getting your feet wet when it comes to baby travel. We dove straight into the deep end. But we lived to tell the tale!

We spent two weeks on the North Shore of Oahu, and it was truly paradise. We surfed, drank pina coladas on the rocks thanks to the condo's broken blender, and ate our weight in acai bowls. There was shave ice, beach hopping and taking walks along the resort's trails. We took Xavier in the pool, watched fireworks over Waikiki Beach on New Year's Eve and visited Pearl Harbor. It really was a dream vacation, and one I'll remember forever.