Vist with Family (CT) - September 2011

Part III of our Connecticut journey was a stay at Lynette's and Steve's house. It was perfect because we were able to visit with Lynette, Steve, Nanna, Aunt Tessie and Uncle Walter, Mark & Beth, Therese and Chris and all the kids - so great to have a mini family reunion!

And on top of that we were finally able to see Lynette & Steve's house - believe me, I've been frothing at the mouth to see what they did in terms of renovating their ranch. Steve is a general contractor, and if I could do a "plug" for his work...I must tell you if you are in the CT area, you should hire him. As you can see in the pictures above in the kitchen and the family room, he's one talented guy! When I saw their kitchen I just wanted to pass out: vaulted ceiling, beautiful cabinets and granite galore! A total cooks kitchen. Steve's company is Space Builder's Inc. ( He even was patient with me with the onslaught of remodeling questions I threw his way!

Our visit was so relaxing: great accommodations, wonderful visit with family, fabulous food by Lynette, Nanna and Steve, and to top it off I was able to get my "dog fix" in by hanging out with Buddy, Lucy and Finster - I, unbeknownst to Lynette, Steve and Larry, was trying to figure out how I could "sneak" the dogs into our car without anyone noticing - oh how I wish Jack (our cat) would accept a canine roommate! I thought I took more pictures, especially of family, but I was so busy enjoying the visit that I forgot to take pictures!

Visit with Sill and Terry - September 2011

Part II of our trip out East was a visit with Sil and Terry, whom we love so much I wish we could "kidnap"/bribe to live in IL so we'd see them all the time! :) But if that's not feasible, a visit with them in CT will just have to do.

We had an action packed 1 night visit with Sil and Terry: a great brunch at the Great River Golf Club, a walk on the beach (oh how I miss the beach!) and a trip to the Orange Country Fair ( I love fairs...really, what's not to love about piglet races, tractor pull racing, corn dogs and a beautiful day in Connecticut!

Of course in staying at Sil & Terry's house we were treated to a gourmet meals - a seafood pasta dinner and a yummy breakfast - both would rival a bed and breakfast. Although our trip was way too short, we had a wonderful time. Upon leaving their driveway we already missed Sil & Terry. 

Can't wait to visit again.

Visit with Scott and Gwen - September 2011

In mid-September Larry and I made a whirlwind trip to New Jersey, Connecticut and New York, to visit family and friends. We managed to get everything in but it was sooo whirlwind it was too quick - wish we could have stayed longer.

Our first leg of the trip was a stop in Edgewater, NJ (next to the GW bridge and across the Hudson from NYC) to visit Scott and Gwen. We love visiting with the "Sgwotts" and especially when we are able to trek into NYC and explore, eat and just soak in the city.

We spent 2 nights with Scott and Gwen. Friday night we managed to swing a trip to La Vecchia Napoli ( in Edgewater, NJ.

Photos of La Vecchia Napoli, Edgewater
This photo of La Vecchia Napoli is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Scott and Gwen are regulars at this fabulous little Italian restaurant. The owners are so nice and you just feel that you are at home - fabulous food. I always order Linguine and Clams - best in the city! :)

Saturday we drove into NYC for the day. We managed to find a parking lot that wasn't ridiculous (I guess by NYC standards) and just walked around and took in the sites.

One stop was Eataly (, which is located down by the Flat Iron building. It's this amazing food market - just beautiful. Although, I will say it was too crammed with people, which I know is a good thing, but definitely hard to work your way through with all these people.

Since it was lunch time, we went up to the roof of Eataly to Birreria (, a restaurant and brewery. It was really nice to be on the roof, taking in the sun and enjoying the people watching.

Photos of Eataly, New York City
This photo of Eataly is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Unfortunately, the cheese and meat plate and salads we ordered were really pricey. Maybe, by NYC standards it's OK, but for us it seemed a lot of money for not that much food. But it was very tasty.

As we headed into evening we went to one of our favorite restaurants - La Palapa ( which we always try to go to when we're in town. Great Mexican food. Unfortunately, without fail, I always fill up on their fabulous guac and chips before my entree (grilled shrimp) arrives - and then I'm completely stuffed!

The visit with Scott and Gwen was way too short...but were on our way to CT to visit friends and family for part 2 of our trip.

Crystal Lake 4th of July Parade - July 2011

I will fully admit that I am a latent parade-phile. It must be me being incredibly shy as a kid and walking in Redding, CT's parade as a Girl Scout - I vividly remember wanting to break free of the line and run to higher ground towards "freedom."

So I've been avoiding parades like the plague...until we moved to Crystal Lake. They are practically unavoidable since the parade route is smack in front of our house. So...I've learned to embrace and even enjoy the parades. Hey, as long as I don't have to be in them, I can "safely" enjoy them from the sidelines, or in our case our front porch.

This year Larry and I decided to once again host a little BBQ after the parade. We thought we had a "brilliant" plan to set things up in the front yard and avoid the mosquitoes in the back. And our plan would have worked had we not made one MAJOR error - I'll get to that in a minute...

The plan was for my parents, Hope and Greg and their kids and Bill and June (family) to stop by after the parade if they could make it.

In the beginning of the parade a guy stopped by and asked us if he could leave his bike in our driveway during the parade. We didn't even give it a thought and said yes.

The parade came and went and we started to get ready for the BBQ.

Well, Mr. Bike Man returned for his bike and since it was really hot out, Larry and I thought it would be nice to ask if he wanted a beer.

Well.....1 hour later...alhough it felt like eternity...Mr. Bike Man was still there! He wasn't talking to anyone, just texted away to someone, not budging. We started to get a bit nervous and trying to figure out what to do. Even some of our guests thought he was a friend...we couldn't explain anything until he left, which wasn't happening.

So finally, we decided to pack up the food, as a hint, and that finally worked.

Note to's nice to be nice...but maybe next time we need to set some parameters or give someone a to go drink!

Cruise to Mexico - June 2011

The four of us arrived at the Port of New Orleans on time and ready for our new adventure. Gwen and Scott had already been cruising, but Larry and I were newbies.

I will say that if you are planning on going on a cruise, if you can afford it, go for a suite. Not only is the room a very nice size, all the suites get speedy boarding and departure privileges - I tell you this is the way to travel!

I honestly think I would have had a mini nervous breakdown if we had to wait in line - I swear the lines went on forever for the regular boarding.

The cruise itself was an experience and I definitely would want to do it again, but maybe next time not on Carnival. It's not that it was bad, it's just that it was a little too 20s-something partying - not really our speed.

The room was nice and big, but I'm still trying to figure out how Carnival can say it was recently updated - it looked kind of tired to me.

Unfortunately on the first night Scott started to feel ill and subsequently came down with a bad bacterial infection for the whole cruise. But I will say despite the fact that he didn't feel well, he was a real trooper and came out for dinner etc.

We mainly hung out on our balcony because, honestly, the areas where you would want to go to, the pool, miniature golf, etc., were incredibly stuffed with people.

My only other complaint is that we booked a cruise with only one stop. We did this on purpose because we weren't sure we'd like cruising, but it seemed kind of goofy to go all the way down to Mexico, stop at a port for 6 hours and then head back!

Our one port was Puerta Maya, Mexico. I believe were we actually docked was a few miles away from the actual town. The port had this carefully crafted tourist area, where you could really only see what they wanted you to see - it was surrounded by walls blocking your view of the actual town. After debarking Larry and I managed to walk off site and get a look of town - definitely a hard-hit area. Hopefully tourism helps keep some of the money in the town itself, because it was definitely a poor area.

The tourist area was just that. People were a bit too pushy for my taste for you to buy something. I was actually really looking forward to going to the jewelry shops because they had Tanzanite (my favorite), but it just seemed like a rip off. It could have been fine, but it just made me too nervous to buy something and then have to worry that I was being ripped off. Although, I did buy some beautiful black pearls for next to nothing.

The cruise was a great opportunity to de-stress, eat, take in the sun and hang out with Scott and Gwen.

It was a great time, although we wish Scott wasn't sick. We'll have to have a "makeup" trip for Scott - nothing like having a good excuse to travel! :)

Here's to our next adventure with the Sgwotts!