food, Holidays, Motherhood, New York, Travel

It’s officially fall!

I know that it’s been fall for a good amount of time but I feel like we’ve just started to feel those effects on my part of town. The leaves are finally starting to change colors and most days you can feel a chilly breeze that makes you break out the warm jackets and cozy sweaters. But my ultimate bucket wish list? Apple picking. From day one, I’ve told Łukasz that I’ve been on the east coast for such a long time and I’ve yet to experience a real east coast fall: you know, going to see the leaves change, pumpkin patching, apple picking, all the good stuff. Maybe finish the night with a big old mug of apple cider or mulled wine. Now that Petra’s 17 months, there’s nothing she loves more than having the space to explore without worrying about where she could be going. This was obviously a no-brainer of a weekend.

When at the apple orchards, eat lots of apple cider donuts! Petra gobbled these up. We went to Barton Orchards in Poughkeepsie, NY which is about two hours away from NYC. It was an amazing scenic drive. Honestly those changing leaves is what made me fall in love with the east coast and what makes me hesitate when we even think about leaving.

Petra fell in love with this wagon. She immediately wanted to help and pull our cargo but of course she instantly regretted it. It’s not light! I think she ended up enjoying the ride more so she could sit and eat apples and donuts. Łukasz and I would hand her apples and she would put them in our half bushel bag. So helpful!

And of course, sneak bites. It was a day full of apple snacking which I’m definitely not mad about. Healthy snacking is a plus.

On our way back we stopped by the petting zoo and Petra pet all the donkeys. They’re so sweet! Like big puppies, they just wanted to be scratched behind the ears.

I definitely recommend these Orchards. We happened to visit on a Monday so the grounds were rather empty and the cool attractions and restaurants were closed but I’m ok with it if we are able to avoid these crowds! The Orchards full up on the weekends, people get there at 9am. Aside from Orchards they grow their own veggies and fruits and they even have a tap room on site for some refreshing adult beverages. I literally can’t wait to come back here with Petra and Łukasz next year!

Xo,

Karen

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Travel

Up Yonda Farms

On our way back from camping, I knew we had to stop somewhere to sightsee. The drive is, like, four hours! Soon after we left Rogers Rock and had lunch at Bolton Landing, we decided to explore and stumbled upon this beautiful outdoor conservancy. It was called a farm but it was mostly a few close and easy hikes with an indoor butterfly garden. I was mostly excited about the butterfly garden because I wanted Petra to see these Monarch beauties up close. They did not disappoint. Even though I believe Spring is the time butterflies are abundant, on this summer day, we had a fun with a few gorgeous butterflies. Łukasz managed to catch one on his hands and after Petra saw how it was done, she had to grab one for herself too! We held her back though and taught her hold to gently hold them so as not to squash these delicate creatures. Petra learns so quickly by watching us. It's constantly reminding me to watch what I say and do to set the right example for her. Kids really do learn by example!

The hikes in the surrounding areas provides some of the most beautiful views of the lake that I had ever seen. While I got Petra ready to go hiking by slathering her with sunscreen, Łukasz checked in and found out that the property belonged to a rich family who donated it sometime around the 1920's and they turned it into a conservancy to help preserve the natural forest that surrounds it. It's gorgeous! So many lovely wildflowers. I will admit, I wasn't properly dressed for this and I showed up wearing Saltwater Sandals but luckily the forest floors weren't too thick and the hike didn't require any crazy climbing. Petra loved the view as she was strapped to Łukasz' back. It got a little hot so we let her walk around a little at the top of the hill but she was more than content walking on grass and playing with her water bottle.

Such a beautiful day! I'm really glad we got to stop by this space. We had come to Rogers's Rock so much, who knew that this beautiful space was only a few miles away! Adventuring with these two is my favorite!

Xo,
Karen

Travel

Petra Goes Camping

Around the time Petra was thee months old, we wanted to take her camping. Three months! The trip didn't end up happening because it rain and rain plus breastfeeding seemed like I would be confined to a tent the whole time. Well, I'm glad we waited a year because a few weeks ago, we finally took Petra on her first camping trip to Lake George in Upstate New York. Camping had always been one of our favorite pastimes before our little lady was born so we were really excited to see how Petra would like it. Knowing her exploratory nature at 14 months, it was like she had been living in the woods the entire time. She even went to bed in the tent easier and faster than she normally would at home. Isn't it amazing? Sometimes it seems like we're all innately animals who just need to escape to our natural habitat of living in the woods from time to time.

We spent two nights, which is literally NOTHING, to Lukasz' disappointment but we had a great time playing on the lake. Petra was all about the beach and the water at our campsite. We bought her this swimsuit filled with floaties. I'm pretty sure she hated it but it was better to be safe than sorry! It has decent reviews on Amazon. Food happened to be my main concern especially when we have such a picky eater with a few little teeth but it ended up being pretty simple. We had purchased a camping stove a year ago for the trip that never happened and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to quickly sautée some chicken or salmon, both of which Petra loves. I cooked up some veggies as well but she wasn't as keen on those as I was. When traveling with a little one, I would highly recommend a camping stove. It's not exactly "roughing it" but it really took the guesswork out of meal times. For snacks, we packed plenty of fresh fruit and clif bars.

For bedtime, we brought along a few thermal sleeping pads to put outside of the sleeping bags but we also wrapped Petra up in a vintage LL Bean onesie that really kept her incredibly warm throughout the night. Especially with Petra, who loves to toss and turn in her sleep, I was very concerned that eventually she would wiggle out of our sleeping bag but she actually slept quite soundly. It was actually me who probably woke up every hour to make sure she was completely covered and warm but isn't that every mom's story? I really underestimate how chilly the ground can get even if you're going camping when it's 90 degrees throughout the day. The temperature changes so quickly, it always catches my by surprise.

On a side note, Pierrot, our fur ball was all about being outdoors. This guy would probably spend his life camping in the woods if we allowed it but he also needs someone there to feed him and give him clean water or else he will starve. He's quite the mix of outdoorsy high maintenance. He's generally a good calm dog at home in Brooklyn (some would say a CatDog… me, I call him that) but he's actually the best when he's able to run free off leash. He never wanders far and all he really expects is that maybe we toss him a ball every now and again.

And so, I leave you with this cute picture of Petra drinking out of her camping mug and look at her tiny Keens! Overall, it was great miniature vacation with the family. Babies love camping! And we definitely plan to do a lot more camping as Petra grows older. I love that we can really introduce her to a love for the outdoors. It only makes me excited to see her grow up wanting to hopefully do things like be outside kayaking than playing with a smartphone. What a sweet little babe ❤

Xo,
Karen

Travel

Venice Beach

On our first week, we also visited Venice Beach close to Los Angeles County.  For some reason, I always get super nostalgic for Venice Beach when I’m in New York. I watch Californication and begin to idealize what California and LA are to me even though, it’s really nothing like that. It also reminds me of the Doors because, Jim Morrison and all of that fun stuff.  It really just takes me back to my teenage years when I fell in love with Classic Rock and thought I would be a hippie forever, haha.

Things definitely didn’t turn out the way I thought they would, they turned out better! We happened to make our way to Venice on one of the few gloomy days that happened during our trip.  It was also a random suggestion in the middle of the day but when someone says they want to go, we gotta go. Lukasz had only visited Venice once about a year before we met.  It was one of the few places in California he happened to make a pit stop and one of the few places he found actually interesting during his travels out West. Venice is like a mini New York in that people just aren’t afraid to be themselves. It was really nice to get to come here with our daughter (although the weather could have been better). It did make for some interestingly gloomy pictures, despite our high spirits.

On our way back to the car, as the real rain began, we stopped at this little Peruvian restaurant that was as literally a hole on the wall.  I can be a little picky about Peruvian food.  My parents always seem to know the spots when we’re in California and I get my fair share of it when we go visit.  I’m always wary of trying new Peruvian restaurants in New York because they always make the food so kitschy. The true mark of a good semi-authentic place is always the portion of their ceviche. It has to be a nice hearty bowl of fish. Otherwise, what’s the point?  This place in Venice, whose name escapes me, really hit the spot. It was all weirdly served in “to-go” containers despite us eating in but everything was great from the ceviche to the Lomo Saltado. 

It was one of those days that left you tired at the end, with all the driving, Petra fell asleep in the car after eating so many French fries. My favorite thing ever is showing her these new places and getting even more excited to come back when she’s older as well.  It’s so amazing to show everything to a new little human being.  I feel like, with Petra and Lukasz, I have travel partners for life.

Xo,

Karen

Travel

California: Another Day of Sun!

We’ve been back from California for a couple of weeks now but I just finished sorting through all of our photos!  I think I got shutter-happy because I ended up with over 1000 pictures.  The camera never left my side but I felt like I never wanted to miss a moment of Petra and Lukasz and I soaking in the California sunshine.

This mini vacation was definitely long overdue for us.  It’s so great to live in a city like New York but I think it’s so necessary to take a break from the hustle and bustle every once in a while.  Having the plane land in California was like literally a breath of fresh air. Even the plane ride TO California was calm and collected, with Petra sleeping a decent amount of time but not being overly rowdy when she was awake.  We flew JetBlue and the staff was super supportive and accommodating of us having a little one.

Though the weather during our stay was up in the air, we lucked out and it was sunny during a majority of our time there with a couple of rainy days thrown in.  It was different from our past trips to California, we usually make this trip in February and be weather is usually super sunny and high 70’s. After all, isn’t that what California is known for? 

Petra got a chance to meet all of our California family and friends, including Eric, one of my best friends since middle school. These are the moments I looked forward to the most, introducing everyone to my little family. So much love going around, I felt so lucky.

We took it easy the first couple of days but went to the park and a few local hikes in the Irvine Park area. Petra rode a swing for the first time! Oh my goodness, the happiness on her face has me looking forward to Spring and Summer so we can go out to the park and have so much fun.  Her happy face makes me melt! It almost makes me feel anxious thinking that these moments are fleeting, I just love her so much! Stay little forever, baby girl!

If anyone plans on going in a hike with littles anytime soon, I highly recommend getting a Tula carrier.  It’s amazing and it let us be hands free.  Lukasz loves baby wearing and Petra loves being worn by her papa. She even fell asleep on our little hike, she was so comfy! We got our as a hand me down from Lukasz’ sister who previously used hers for her two little ones. They’re really durable! I love it. 

I have a few more posts for California coming up, I just really love the pictures and had to post for my own excitement if not for your reading pleasure.  Thanks for following along!

Xo,

Karen

Travel

Sandomierz

Way before our little family touched down in Poland, Lukasz had told me his sister has been planning a sort of family reunion for Lukasz’ visit.  Lukasz had tried to play it off as something small but when Lukasz, Petra and I officially arrived at the restaurant, Bistro Podwale, we literally walked into a crowded room, full of applause and cheer.  It was so so wonderful to feel the love in that room and it was even more amazing to finally be able to visit Lukasz’ hometown and meet his family. 

From the moment we walked in, Petra was greeted by everyone!  She was adored, kissed and cuddled.  If only she could remember this moment and how loved she is by her whole family!  I’m so glad we were able to capture so much of it on camera, including this photo below of Petra and her great grandfather who is 95 years old!  It is literally one of my most favorite photographs ever. 

I’ll be honest and say that for the second half of our stay in Sandomierz, I got sick with some kind of a stomach bug.  I had no desire to eat anything and I was extremely nauseated.  But I was able to step out a couple of times and do some sight seeing with Lukasz and a couple of his friends.  We visited his high school, which is one of the oldest secondary schools in Poland.  We visited some churches, which Poland has in abundance.  And we visited the town square which was really adorable. It’s such a stark contrast to think about me growing up in California with modern buildings and miles and miles of freeways, all the while Lukasz living in this small and adorable town with so much history.  The whole thing is so mind blowing.  It’s also one of the things that makes me love Lukasz even more. 

I wish we had more pictures or touristy stories to tell but this trip just really came down to family.  I look forward to the next time we come visit and maybe Petra will be a little older and we can do some additional things on our wishlist like going camping in the mountains and hills near Sandomierz.  After this trip, I really feel like there’s so much more to explore with this little tribe of mine. I feel like this is only the beginning.

Xo,

Karen

Travel

Warsaw

After the plane landed in Warsaw, we were picked up by Lukasz’ sister who lives there with her husband and her two kids.  It was really awesome to be able to meet her and have Petra meet her aunt for the first time.  It was also awesome to have Lukasz see his family for the first time in about three years.  It was a very emotional experience, to say the least but it was also amazing to be able to discover this part of Europe for the first time with my adorable tiny family.  Of course, when I was finally able to get a decent amount of sleep, we went out into Warsaw and walked for the entire day.  We went to the old part of town that Lukasz hung around the most when he was younger and going to school.  It’s so beautiful, the kind of old European town I have only seen in pictures. 




We stopped at an adorable little restaurant, Kompania Piwna, in the old town that Lukasz used to frequent when he was younger and had some pierogi because when in Poland, do as the Polish do. ;). I will admit, it was really chilly the whole time we were there and it rained almost every day in Warsaw which really limited our time outdoors. But we were more than glad to go from spot to spot to seek shelter and Petra loves being outdoors so she had no problem being outside either (although it’s getting a little harder to wrestle her into her winter clothes as she grows older… she’s definitely going to love summers in New York where clothing can be kept to a minimum.)

We did a few touristy things like visited the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising and visited the University of Warsaw.  On one of our nights, we even visited a vegan restaurant. (Who knew Warsaw had such a growing vegan population?). But really, this trip came down to visiting friends and family and I was more than excited to do that.  These are people I had only heard stories about but, more importantly, people that had left such an imprint in Lukasz’ life. It was also oh-my-gosh amazing that Petra was able to meet her cousins for the first time.  While Bianka and Tadeusz are years older, their bond was instant and adorable.  My heart melts thinking about it and hoping the day when we see them again isn’t too far off. 

Visiting Warsaw was really one for the books, so many firsts for all of us. I, sincerely hope that in the future, there’s more good times to be spent here.  We soon had to leave Warsaw and head to our next stop, Lukas’ hometown, Sandomierz.

Xo,

Karen

Travel

We’re going to Poland!

  

There’s some news we’ve been sitting on for a while that I’m excited to talk about! We’re traveling to Poland in two weeks!

I could not be more excited for this opportunity our little family has stumbled upon.  It will be mine and Petras first trip to Europe and it’s also going to be the first time we meet Lukasz’s side of the family. 

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before but it’s definitely an adventure to raise a baby with two different cultures.  I knew that it would be so important to me for Petra to understand her Peruvian heritage and I know it’s even more important to Lukasz for Petra to really understand what Poland is all about.  For me, having been born and raised in the US, the idea of my culture is a little bit ambiguous but for Lukasz, having been born and raised in Poland, the things that are important to him, culturally, are more defined.

Some close friends know but we’re also trying to raise Petra to speak English and Polish as a priority. I speak to Petra in English and Lukasz speaks to Petra in Polish.  It’s an experiement but we hope it’s one we can succeed in.  The idea of our daughter communicating with her fathers side of the family is so important to us. 

So in the next two weeks, we’re trying to get everything ready and I’m so nervous at the idea of traveling on a plane for a long time with an infant.  Our flight to Poland is at night and Petra has been amazing sleeping through the night, only waking once, sometimes twice. I’ll also be keeping breastfeeding as my secret weapon to pacify her.  I’m hoping the flight will be a comfortable one for her. Any tips and suggestions are very VERY welcome. 

Xo,

Karen

Review

Review: Bugaboo Bee

You guys, I love our stroller. I wanted to write a post on my experience with my Bugaboo Bee hoping to help others when they are looking to purchase a stroller for their little one. I spent hours looking into this, so I know how stressful it can be.  In my personal opinion: look not further than this awesome stroller.

I came across the Bugaboo Bee in my first trimester in my pregnancy when Lukasz and I were taking a stroll around our neighborhood and we stepped into a baby store.  Out of the plethora of strollers in the store, the Bugaboo Bee looked like the smallest. Out of the bugaboo lineup, the Bee is definitely the lightest of the bunch, weighing in at around 18 pounds.

Here’s the thing about choosing a lightweight stroller.  It’s something I definitely knew we had to put a focus on.  Living in Brooklyn and living on the second floor of a walk up and given my tiny stature and muscle-less body, I knew I had to put weight as the number one priority.  But while comparing strollers you start to realize that you either get a super light weight stroller like the YoYo and give up space in the basket.  It’s always one thing or another.  But not with the bugaboo.

The bugaboo can switch sides so the baby is either facing you or facing away from you. The stroller can be used from newborn until around 4ish which is another thing I loved.  I didn’t want to get a newborn stroller now and get something lighter for her when she’s older, I wanted a 2 in 1. For newborns, you can purchase a cocoon for additional head support, which we did. We also bought a car seat compatible with the Bugaboo Bee system although we never used it together.  The stroller is tiny with a huge basket underneath. All of the fabric parts can be removed to be washed in case they get dirty (they will get dirty).  It also comes with a rain cover so baby stays dry in dreary weather. Plus, with bugaboo, you can buy all sorts of extras for it, if you choose! For me, a cup holder was a must.  Lukasz bought it for me so I can have coffee while taking the baby for a stroll. And of course for baby bottles when needed. 

Petra loves the stroller.  I know it’s probably not the best place, but she just loves napping in it! The buckles don’t bother her as much as I thought they would.  As we head into this fall season, I also love putting the cocoon in the stroller for added warmth.  Because she’s had it since she was a newborn, she’s growing out of it a little by now.  Bugaboo sells a muff that we’re looking to purchase to get us through the winter season, I can’t wait to try it out.  

This stroller definitely gets my seal of approval!  Of course, this is just my opinion and I would love to hear questions and concerns if you have any!

Xo,

Karen

Travel

Lukasz’s Birthday

Last Thursday, my babe, Lukasz, turned 27.  To celebrate, we decided to leave the city and head up to New Paltz.  It’s the cutest little college town.  It has the small town feel that makes me feel like I’m in an episode of Gilmore Girls! 

Unfortunately, we passed the stop to get to New Paltz and ended up an hour away in Woodstock, NY! Never one to shy away from exploring, we drove around to see what fun stuff we could do.  We found a water reservoir hidden along the road and stopped to explore the forest and do a little photo op with the baby.

I really love how Petra has grown so much in these last few months.  Before, my idea of venturing out with a little munchkin would have me filled with anxiety. Is it safe? Is the bugs? Are there ticks? Will I be able to breastfeed?  Now, she’s just as curious as we are to head out into some unknown, safe in her dads arms.  I love it so much and it makes me excited for the days I can spend with these two, camping and hiking when she’s a little older. 

On our way back, Lukasz stopped at an orchard and grabbed a quick bag of apples and cider.  I forgot how much I love fall here.  The air gets chilly, the leaves change into beautiful warm colors.  It truly is my favorite season.

We also stopped by Lukasz’s family’s house in Jersey. They’re such nice and warm people.  There’s also a lot of polish being spoken which I love exposing Petra to.  They greeted us with delicious dinner and an ice cream cake for Lukasz.  It was a good day.  

I love this handsome and amazing man. Happy birthday, my love. ❤️

Xo, 

Karen