#SingerIslandScenes and Family Bonding in Florida

Wow.  It’s been a roller coaster couple of weeks.  First – a blissful week of relaxing, lovely vacation in Florida with my closest family and friends.  Then – home to the frozen north and a massive, cigar induced upper respiratory infection (more on the cigar to follow).  Play hard and pay for it?  Perhaps.  Worth it?  Oh very definitely.

heaven

Scene from outside of my Dad’s Singer Island condo. Singer Island is a lovely little strip of land close to Palm Beach Gardens, with a big state park right on the ocean and miles of wild and healthy beaches.  It’s pretty great.

It’s funny how after four years in Connecticut – Florida still feels like home.  Maybe it’s because my closest family (aka my parents and siblings) all live and/or congregate there for the holidays.  Maybe it’s because, well, Palm Beach Gardens is just awesome.  Endless warm weather, white sandy beaches, amazing foodie scene, and the best shopping center in the entire world: The Gardens Mall

lilly pulitzer and bellini

Lilly Pulitzer from the signature Gardens store and a Bellini at Brio.  Basically perfection.

Not to mention the world’s best supermarket:

veuve yaaas

Publix – home to $40 Veuve Cliquot sales and Caitlin’s favorite cake

Oh yeah – Cait was in Florida too – in Palm Beach Gardens – where she is ever year for Christmas.  It’s amazing we met in Connecticut and not previously in Florida, all things considered.  Anyway, it makes the holidays that much better, and it’s always lovely to see Cait’s little sister Hannah too!

downtown at the gardens

Photo credit to Caitlin in this picture, which is why she’s not pictured.  I love 1/ the Florida Christmas trees and 2/ that I casually match the tree.  Also – @SingerIslandScenes Instagram reblogged this – I recommend following them to anyone who loves beautiful Floridian wildlife, as there’s plenty of that on their page.

This particular picture was taken during one of several excursions to Downtown at the Gardens.  I relived my college days with happy hour at Ra and the completely amazing crunchy spicy tuna roll:

spicy tuna roll

Whoa.  So good. 

We also ventured to a really cool cigar bar – Angry Moon Cigars

cigar bar howard

Pros: excellent Instagram.  Cons: wicked bad chest infection which probably had something to do with cigar.  Oh well.  I’ll probably still try another at some point, as it was really good

And a huge trip highlight – a trip to The Cooper

dave bouchard cocktails

Dave doing his most excellent mixology thing

Yes – the Max Restaurant Group has a location in Palm Beach Gardens now, so naturally we’re obsessed with it.  It was lovely to drink a sophisticated take on rum punch in the December:

the walking dead

The Walking Dead: House rum blend, velvet falernum, don’s mix, grenadine, angostura, absinthe

As well as a most excellent cheese plate:

helen geo and caitlin

That’s my little sis in my crop top and my awesome cousin Geo in my vintage Lilly Pulitzer shirt.  I love it

And a small tuna plate:

tuna dish cooper

ALL MINE

One of my very best friends from college, Jenn, stopped by for drinks after dinner too, the same night!  So much fun catching up

kat and jenn

Love her

So yes – tons and tons of fun time with friends.  But of course – the time with Penelope was the most special and important of all!  And she had a blast – on the beach:

p on singer island

Making her beautiful sand castle

Hanging with her Papi:

p w papi

Yep!  That’s my Daddy

Chilling with Mommy:

with p on the beach

Baby fedora, we brought congri, and then P took a nap on the beach.  Super Cuban.

Baking ninja gingerbread:

gingerbread ninjas howard

Excellent ninjas or spastic gingerbread men or whatever.

Attending church on Christmas Eve at Christ Fellowship:

p mammy and auntie

There was a step and repeat (really – it’s the South) but unfortunately we were too distracted to get a picture (also I knew Helen would mock me for asking)

P also enjoyed playing her new American Girl dolly, courtesy of her Daddy’s parents… I mean Santa Claus:

p and beautiful dolly

Such a beautiful dolly.  I’m already plotting our trip to NYC for tea with the dolly.  Obviously more for me than for P at this point, but I think she will enjoy it also

with her cousins Christmas day:

cousins awww

Awwwww.  P and Logan!

Oh – also Christmas day?  This happened.  It’s a full on Cuban Christmas lunch:

cuban style christmas dinner

You know, the traditional stuff.  Tostones, black beans, yucca with mojo, brussel spouts, mac and cheese, glazed carrots, sous vide lamb, and sous vide pork. 

P and I wore matching Mommy and me Lilly Pulitzer from Silkworm in West Hartford:

p and mommy on the beach lilly pulitzer

My precious baby!

So basically yes, not a traditional white Christmas with stockings by the fire and a roast turkey (or …something?  I think some people do these things, haha).  But a perfect Christmas for us in every way.  Can’t wait to go back soon – I hope everyone else was blessed with lovely family and friends and great family traditions also!

Our 4th wedding anniversary @Atlantisresort

Happy 4th anniversary to my husband, Michael.  On October 21st, 2010, we carved our names into a tree outside of a courthouse in Vegas:

October 21

Perfect for the type B bride who elopes and easily forgets dates!

Ascended the Stratosphere

stratosphere

So high in the air

And said “I do:”

our wedding

The dress is BCBG and I bought it online without trying it on.  It fit perfectly.  I get lucky sometimes (in love too!  I mean, obviously)

It’s more traditional to do something ‘big’ for five years, but then again, we’re not really traditional people.  So we decided to head off, without little Penelope, to Atlantis Resort a couple weeks ago to commemorate our wedding in a big way.

balcony view

Thanks for the free balcony upgrade, Atlantis!  And the amazing trip

As the view above demonstrates better than a thousand words, Paradise Island (Freeport, Bahamas) is an absolutely idyllic locale.  The island vibe is happy, serene, and as relaxing as listening to the palm trees on the beach.  We enjoyed every minute of our four day, three night stay, although I think that we both agreed that the family friendly nature of the resort meant that the next trip back would definitely be with Penelope present.  There are large, clean, kid friendly pools…

pool yaaas

Whoa.  Yeah.

…awesome water slides (terrific) super aquariums (sharks! wow), and a really cool looking kids’ club.  So yeah, there was some natural parental guilt when I pictured how much P would have enjoyed the pools, being the little water baby that she is:
P1010483

Seen here enjoying a pool with Daddy on Sanibel Island last Christmas in Florida.  Man, that kid was bald back in the day

But – sometimes it’s really nice to have one on one time with someone you love.  And if that one on one time happens in paradise?  Well, heck, might as well roll with it.  So I relaxed, and we thoroughly enjoyed our vacation.

lying down

From the beach/grottos (that’s me, manatee style)

To the casino:

w the sculpture

Note Mike’s yard long daiquiri please.  The man loves his daiquiris

To our off resort field trip to Senor Frogs:

baby mike and kat

Our first trip to Senor Frogs in 2009

four years later

And in 2014!  I think Mike wore those same board shorts in 2009.  Might be time for a new pair 😉

In addition to the pool, beach, casino, and bar excursions, I went on a food quest: to eat conch in every form I could find it.  I had reasonable success but I believe I could have done better and will try to raise the bar next trip:
johny rockets

Conch chowder at Johnny Rockets?  Love it

preparing the conch salad

Conch crudo prepared fresh on the sea (literally, in a boat) ceviche style with lime and tomato

mimosa brunch

Stewed conch in gravy for breakfast (pictured right on that very full brunch plate)

awesome grouper

Ok, this is a picture of grouper.  But there were conch fritters at the meal.  We just ate them all before I could take a picture – it happens – and the grouper was very, very good

In addition to the Conch Quest, I crossed an item off my foodie bucket list and went to Nobu for the first time.  Michael and i both loved it, and my favorite items were the lychee martini with elderflower and the salmon wrapped in pear, which is a flavor combination I still fantasize about:

photo 3

Really masterful pairing, both in flavors and texture

In addition to the pools, the beaches, the really cool water slides, and all the aforementioned eating, there was a nice little cluster of shops on the resort.  I believe in duty free whenever possible, and I was very happy to score a travel perfume for myself:

chanel

yaaaas

And a Barbie perfume set for P:

barbie perfume set

Which she absolutely loves because of course she does

And, of course, I wore as much Lilly Pulitzer as possible in a four day period:

photo 2

Dress from Silkworm!

lilly t

Also from Silkworm.  Come to think of it – most of my Lilly is from Silkworm.  Thanks for being a northern outpost for this awesome southern brand, Erica!

We stayed at the Royal Towers at the resort, which is the mid price range option, and very centrally located, which is nice, because as you can probably imagine, the resort itself is friggin’ enormous:

atlantis arches

And also, really gorgeous

When we return, I think it will be to the Royal Towers.  And it most likely is a question of if, not when, as the entire vacation was really lovely from start to finish, and all the family friendly elements of Atlantis will make it a great destination to return with P in the years to come.  So goodbye for now Atlantis:

rum cake yaaas

And goodbye rum cake, which definitely did not survive the plane ride home.  Because I ate it.

Until, we hope, very soon!  And thanks to all the lovely people we met on the island who helped us to celebrate our four year anniversary in such a wonderful way.  And to my husband, if you overcome your hatred of social media long enough to read this – I love you very much, and happy anniversary.