Woooot – happy Friday! Did you make it through the week ok?

Getting back into a routine after vacation or a holiday is always a struggle, and I found myself feeling kind of lonely this week after spending five days with my parents, in-laws, Ben, and the little boy in Washington DC. What can I say, a full house is fun! This was one of my favorite trips out East so far – it was great showing my parents what we usually do/where we go when visiting Ben’s parents and, hello 6:1 ratio of adults to toddler! ;)


I felt the most comfortable yet flying with Lincoln at 23 months old (nearly 24 – HOW?!) It’s great not having to worry about bottles or purees anymore, and thankfully we had a direct flight with my parents sitting in front of us which meant a few seat kicks + overhead light button pushing wasn’t the end of the world.

We packed lots of snacks (Kashi Heart to Heart, Skinny Pop popcorn, Larabars, and raisins, if you’re wondering!) books (clearly,) and downloaded a Curious George movie on the iPad, and less then two hours after taking off we were touching down in our nation’s capital. I just love that landing with the memorials in view out the window!


We landed in the evening and, after putting Lincoln to bed, stayed up for cocktails (my in-laws stocked up on Bold Rock Cider for me which we tried this past winter in Virginia. So good!) and catching up before hitting the hay ourselves. The next morning we were up and at ’em for breakfast at Old Ebbitt (Ted’s Bulletin was our first choice but had too long of a wait – I hear their homemade pop tarts are TO DIE,) followed by POV for mid-morning bubbly and one of the best views of the city, including the snipers on top of the White House (can you see the group of people on top under the flag?)


My parents hadn’t been to DC in nearly 20 years and were just THRILLED by everything. I get my love of American history from my Dad, who couldn’t stop exclaiming, “this is SO cool!” ;) I agree – no matter how many times I see the White House in particular, even after touring the inside, it never stops feeling surreal standing outside.


I’ve seen most if not all the memorials from visiting my in-laws over the past 5+ years, but the Martin Luther King Jr. and Korean War memorial, pictured below, stick out as a couple of my favorites. There’s something very unsettling and lifelike about the soldiers who stand a bit larger than life that makes the scene feel so real. I just can’t even imagine… We wrapped up our day with a quiet walk through the Vietnam memorial then hit up the pool with the little man that afternoon.


The next day was the 4th of July and though we woke up to pouring rain, it cleared just in time to visit Great Falls. We visited in 2011 on the Virginia side so this time we went to the Maryland side and I liked it even better!


The Great Falls are just that…GREAT! Because of the rain they were massively flooded and deafeningly loud. The kayakers who were whooshing down smaller channels parallel to the great falls here in the Potomac had me watching through finger-covered eyes. I would definitely consider myself a thrill seeker…except when it comes to water. It’s just too dangerous (I am such a Mom!)


Lincoln took one look and said, “WOOOW” before asking to be let down to stomp in the rain water puddles from the lookout decks (the water wasn’t as high as it looks in this photo, FYI, it’s just an odd perspective.) Totally over it! ;)


The reason I liked viewing Great Falls from the Maryland side is because you take a 15-20 minute nature walk over waterfalls, and through several nature preserves to get there. It was a great, serene stroll, plus there’s some historic boats and locks on the O&C Canal between the parking lot and trail.


That afternoon we each packed a small suitcase then traveled back to downtown DC to spend the night at the historical Hay Adams hotel located, gosh, 200 yards from the White House? It was a TREAT! My in-laws have had some nightmare experiences getting out of the city after 4th of July fireworks, where we wanted to watch them at, so we just decided to stay downtown to avoid the hassle of traffic. I still feel giddy thinking about that place. It was unbelievably gorgeous. (source)


After dropping our bags off at the hotel we ran a couple blocks in the rain, which had started back up, to Joe’s, a steak and seafood restaurant, and proceeded to have one of the best meals of our lives. They had a big gluten-free menu and I enjoyed scallops, a nice salad, a few sides, and table-side cracked king crab legs. THE BEST, I’m telling you! Incredibly tender and sweet – the table went nuts for them, including Lincoln. He couldn’t believe it! ;) I highly recommend Joe’s if you’re looking for fabulous seafood in the city.


Two and a half hours after entering Joe’s in the rain, we emerged to clear skies and an open spot on the lawn directly in front of the White House. We had planned on walking down to the Lincoln Memorial to view the show but, hello, when the universe speaks you listen! We claimed a spot and an hour later the fireworks started.


It was a nearly too good to be true, never ever going to forget experience. The rest of the evening was spent off the record (Mom and Dad were on baby monitor watch!) in an out of the way booth and it was just the perfect way to cap off a wonderful day.


The next morning we said hey-o to Obama’s church, which was right outside our window, then headed home, stopping by Georgetown for a stroll, first!


After a family dinner at Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm that night, Ben and I ventured back downtown (can you tell I’m obsessed with downtown DC?? The vibe is just the best!) for a night on our own. It was the first time we’ve ever gone out alone in DC, and it was my birthday, so we got drinks at The Hamilton, one of my favorite bars, before heading to Round Robin Bar, which will make you feel like you’ve entered the 1850s, then to POV before calling it a night. I had way too much fun but, when in Rome…and turning 32…!!


We flew home the next day with full hearts and bittersweet emotions. Ben and I both adore spending time with his parents and exploring Washington DC so it’s always very hard to leave. Can’t wait to return!

We’ve spent the rest of the week adjusting to being back at home but are ready to start penciling more fun into the calendar. It’s supposed to be a scorching hot weekend so I think some pool time might be in order. Lincoln had a blast in the “pool pond”, as he calls it, in DC – I think he jumped in at least 100 times (into my aching waiting arms!) ;)

Well wherever you are and whatever you do have a wonderful weekend and in the meantime please enjoy my favorite finds from around the web and beyond in this week’s Friday Favorites!

Click the light blue link to be taken directly to the source. 

Favorite festive: Sparkling Red White and Blue Sangria. Although the 4th of July is over I think this fizzy cocktail can be appreciated all summer long. I recommended it to a friend for the 4th and he reported back, “Welp. The only problem this drink has is that it doesn’t taste like alcohol.” HA!


Favorite tip: 9 Things You Should Do Every Weekend to Reset for the Week Ahead. I’m a firm believer in setting your week up for success by getting a few cleaning/organizing tasks out of the way on Sunday night. I usually mop the kitchen floor, pledge sticky finger prints off the coffee table, vacuum (sometimes…) and throw in any remaining laundry before heading to bed. It feels SO good to start the week off on the right foot, and this list has more great little things to do!


Favorite bite: Thai Pineapple Peanut Chicken Satay. The foodie world is going crazy for kabobs lately and these are definitely the most delicious looking ones I’ve seen. I’m such a sucker for Thai flavors!


Favorite treat: Immaculate Gluten Free Break and Bake Cookies. Ben brought a package of this cookie dough home recently and I couldn’t resist baking a couple for a bedtime snack the other night. As the name indicates, they are IMMACULATE. Totally doughy and chewy, plus they’re dairy free so Lincoln and I can have one for an occasional special treat together. (Locals: Ben got them at HyVee.)


Favorite look: Maxi Dress Re-Styled. I love this entire look. Great for spring, summer or fall – plus I bought a moto leather jacket a few years ago and have NEVER WORN IT because, well, I don’t know how. Love this styling, and blog – so cute!


Favorite indulge: Short Rib Poutine. Another Friday Favorites, another Poutine recipe! This plate looks HEAVENLY and I am totally craving the short rib spin.


Favorite decor: Travel Photo Wall. I’ve wanted to hang a travel photo wall for years but never quite knew how to start or anchor it. Duh. A map, of course! Great layout.


Favorite funny. “…I am going to eat it all and enjoy my life here on the couch watching Netflix.” Well said, my friend. I doubt I’d ever wear this out of the house but come on, hilarious! #becauseOITNB


Favorite cocktail: Strawberry Basil Ginger Cocktail. This drink sounds incredibly refreshing. Think I’ll be making a pitcher for this hot and steamy weekend.


Favorite hoppy: Biking. Maybe it’s all the bikers preparing for Ragbrai around here, or just an itch to get back into biking (remember Eloise??) but I have been seriously contemplating buying a road bike recently. We have so many awesome trails around here, and I know Lincoln would love riding in an attached buggy (or whatever they’re called.) We’re heading to the bike shop this weekend to get some advice but do any of you have a road bike you love and swear by?


Favorite bake: Spinach and Artichoke Enchiladas. Love me a good spin on the classic enchilada – especially when it combines a spin on my favorite Spinach and Artichoke Dip.


Favorite sweet: No Bake Mini Banana Cheesecakes. So. Adorable. And easily made gluten-free by using GF cookies in the base. I am such a sucker for banana cream pies so I’m super anxious to try this cheesecake take!


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