Charm City – Baltimore

So this post is long overdue. I think my guilt caught up with me after Jefe and I had a marathon viewing of The Wire this weekend. I admittedly now feel schooled in the ways of the Baltimore inner-city projects so I figured it was time to indulge and share in the more opulent (and touristy) side of the city.  Please excuse the excessive use of Instagram/crappy iPhone photos – I was doing my best to not be attached to my phone the whole time, so the few quick snaps I took are all covered in hipster filters or *may* be a bit blurry…. a photographer I am not.

Jefe and I kicked off our summer vacation back in early August in Baltimore. The Sox were in town playing the Orioles (yes, it does always come back to baseball in our house), so Jefe insisted we bring the parents and check out Camden Yards as his dad had never been. And seeing as it was only a hop, skip, and a 90 minute drive from my hometown, my mom and stepdad came down to join us.

When in Baltimore, what better way than to start the day at Inner Harbor? It’s definitely become more of a tourist trap than I remember since the last time I visited a decade ago, but I still had fun.  The boys checked out the USS Constellation and the USS Torsk while my mom, Jefe’s mom Gloria and I walked around the water.

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USS Constellation

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USS Torsk

Thanks to a few recommendations from friends, I decided that crabs at Captain James Crab House was the most authentic option for lunch.  Eight hours later, we arrived via water taxi (I kid; it was only 45 minutes but felt like forever on an empty stomach).  It was quite the ride and although not everyone arrived at the restaurant with appetites thanks to some choppy water, it actually was a great way to see the entire harbor and cool off during an otherwise muggy day.

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Now let’s talk crabs. I may be from the east coast, and had my fair share of lobster growing up thanks to family vacations to Maine, but I am a bit of a crab-cracking novice. And I was the veteran of our group of 6.  Needless to say, the family was thankful we also ordered some corn on the cob… and a pizza.  Let’s just say that yanking out minuscule morsels of crustacean was not the family’s idea of fun.  We ordered a dozen medium sized ones for the table and this guy was still left.

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But I did not go down without a fight. I was definitely the last crab-eating woman standing as I was determined to prove them all wrong.  But I didn’t.  And I was still hungry.  Ce’st la vie.  We did get a great story out of the experience and had a great time despite things not going quite according to plan.  Here’s our obligatory shot of the fan:

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After my failed attempt at local cuisine, we headed back across the water so we could head to Camden Yards for the game. It drizzled off and on, but we kept dry for the most part. The only casualty may have been my mom’s hair.  Luckily we headed back to the hotel that night with two very happy Wells boys: the Sox won and they had an infamous story to tell.  Big Papi, the Red Sox designated hitter, was ejected from the game over a blown call by the home plate umpire that resulted in him destroying the dugout phone with his bat.  We were sitting about halfway up the stadium so we had no idea how crazy things got until we saw the replay on SportsCenter that night.

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One of the real highlights for me, though, besides the whole family bonding and baseball game thing was our hotel.  It was incredible.  Incredible in that “totally from another era, I want to go to there” kind of way.  Known as the B & O building, built in 1906, it was originally the home of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company.  You can find historic touches throughout, from the main hall entryway to black & white images of trains in the guest rooms.

So without further ado, I bring you the Monaco Hotel:

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The ground floor entryway, looking towards the elevator bank

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Looking immediately to your right, to the B & O Brasserie where we had a fabulous breakfast.

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The window detail behind and above you as you enter the ground floor.

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The right side of the incredible stairwell as you enter further in to the ground floor, before you reach the elevators.

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The left side of the entryway, with original lamps.

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Looking up!

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The stairwell from above.

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The incredible, open second floor above the stairwells.

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The 2nd floor hallway.

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The 2nd floor elevator bank.  Look at that marble!  The plaster detailing!  The CHANDELIER!

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Around the corner from the elevators.  I love these old, original touches, like the mail slot.

Walking further down the hall, you reach the front desk and the lobby area just off of that known as “The Living Room”.  They offer beverages throughout the day and offer a free cocktail hour that seemed like a steal.  We unfortunately didn’t get to participate, but here are a few gems from THE LIVING ROOM….

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Chess for two (and a viewer…)

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Looking directly in to the space and the incredible, double-sided fireplace.

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I got photobombed THROUGH the fire.

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One of the many sitting areas next to the fireplace.

Unfortunately we were so busy that I didn’t get to truly document the hotel, including our room, in all of it’s glory.  But their website has some great examples:

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The next morning, we met up with one of my oldest friends for brunch at Miss Shirley’s, which was amazing.  Then we headed out, fighting off a monsoon on our way to Spring Lake, NJ.  You can check out my post on this gorgeous town HERE.  It was so relaxing to spend a few days in this beautiful place.  Jefe and I even got back in to running.  When you’re staring at this, who wouldn’t want to?!

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Sand Between My Toes

Summer has officially arrived in LA.  Between Memorial Day and the onset of 90+ temperatures in LA the last few days, I am ready for sundresses, day trips to Hermosa Beach and evening picnics at the Hollywood Bowl.  Although I’m a bigger fan of autumn, there’s always something so exciting about the start of the summer season.

And this year is no exception.  I’m already planning my packing list for Jefe and I’s annual trek east for our August vacation with our respective families.  His family has been gracious enough to host both Jefe and myself the last few years at the beach in Spring Lake, NJ.  It’s a gorgeous, quaint little town on the northern Jersey shore, just an hour train ride for Manhattan.

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So today I’m going to share some of the incredible architecture that I get to stare at for a few days every year when we’re making our way 5 blocks from our rental house to the shore.  The town actually became super-popular with the uber-wealthy of New York and Philly during the Gilded Age of the 1910’s and 20’s.

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(via Spring Lake Historical Society)

Some of those original houses are actually still standing.  You’ll notice the second one above is also below, as well as a few others that have been standing since Spring Lake’s hey day:

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And here are just a few gorgeous others that I’ve had my eye on.  They only run five-figures per weekly rental…. or $1 million PLUS for purchase.  I suppose my daydreaming will have to remain just that; but window shopping can’t hurt, right?

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The Victorian inspired architecture is really stunning, particularly in person.  There’s such detail and so many unique architectural features…. I’m starting to feel like Ted Mosby geeking out on buildings.  But there is definitely something to be said for homes whose structure and aesthetic appeal has withstood the test of time, some of whom have lasted over 100 years.  I’d love to sneak inside some of these homes.  Most of the great ones aren’t available for rental, so I unfortunately can’t do any internet snooping for you all.

In addition to the spectacular homes, Spring Lake has an incredible boardwalk.  And we’re not talking about the kind where you fear of running in to Snooki.  Spring Lake’s is simple and a perfectly serene place to take a walk or an early evening jog before dinner… which you just so happen to get stuck on during a thunderstorm… (true story – Jefe and I had to hide under the pavilion near a pool to avoid lightening last year.  But it looked AWESOME.)

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Unfortunately the hurricanes that hit the mid-Atlantic seaboard the last two years took their tolls on the boardwalk, but I have faith that it will look great by the time we arrive this year.

And now that you’re all dreaming of your future beach homes (who knew there were such gorgeous places in Jersey?!), why not deck yourself out like you own the place?  Here’s what I’m thinking….

Spring Lake Summer Style

  1. C.Wonder Wicker Picnic Basket
  2. JCrew Panama Hat in Natural
  3. Baggu Weekend Bag in Sailor Stripe
  4. Jack Rogers Hamptons Classic Navajeo Flats in Gold
  5. C.Wonder Colorblock Stripes Boatneck Tee Dress in Palm/Coastal
  6. Tory Burch Sunglasses in Blue/Green

I really can’t wait for summer vacation.  Almost makes me want to go back to school just for the summers off 😀

In other news, did anyone catch the new show Renovation Raiders that premiered on HGTV tonight?  I am officially obsessed.  Amy Matthews basically has my dream job (and has some rocking red hair).  It’s home design, renovation, and tv production all under a ticking clock: she leads an awesome crew that completely renovates a space in someone’s home in a few hours while they’re out to dinner.  I kind of want to be her.  It’s a shame so many HGTV shows shoot outside of LA (or the US for that matter – those Canadian accents are THICK).