Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Alder Collective Link Party #34

It's Tuesday again, already? The days are just flying by. This week I had lots of girl time while Aaron was gone at Wyldlife camp, but I'm happy to have him home. We're enjoying some time around KC before we get ready to go off to YoungLife camp next week, and then Greece is a few days after we get back! That being said, July is going to fly! If you've got the travel bug like me, check out the post form earlier today: Napa and Sonoma in Two Days. It was probably one of the most beautiful places we've been in the US, and it doesn't have to break the bank! There will be no link party next week, July 5. Enjoy the long weekend and Happy Independence Day!

  The Alder Collective Link Party

Welcome to The Alder Collective Link Party! We're so happy you stopped by to show off your stuff. A friendly reminder before we jump into the party: make sure you're visiting at least as many posts as you're linking up. This party is no fun if you don't see traffic and comments from it. Now check out what your hosts have been up to this week:

  The Alder Collective Link Party
Each week we pin every link to the Alder Collective Link Party Pinterest board, where it will be seen by thousands of people. Here are our favorite links from last week's party:

Napa and Sonoma in Two Days

Wine country has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I'd seen several gorgeous photos and had heard it was just a short drive out of San Francisco, but that was about it. I was totally oblivious to tasting costs, best places to visit, or any sort of wine pass. Thankfully, with a little homework and the help of some wonderful folks, we were able to plan and pull off the perfect visit to both Napa and Sonoma in just two days, and on a budget. It you're starting out a little clueless, just like we did, or if you're just searching for the perfect itinerary, here's what we did, how we did it, and what we would recommend!

Determining Your Game Plan

First off, you've got to decide what kind of wineries you'd like to visit, how many, and in which budget range. Some of this will also be determined by the type of wine you actually like. We're teachers, so we're on a decently conservative budget. I also prefer whites and sweeter wines, which means that places that didn't offer white tasting were either a waste of my time or money (or both). We went back and forth about paying for a tour that would take us from place to place, but ended up really happy that we saved our money and just rented a car. As long as you are responsible, eating, drinking water, and taking your time- you'll be just fine. Tasting portions aren't super super big. Also, we didn't make reservations ahead of time at any of the places we visited, but you may need to do so if you have groups of five or more. Just be sure to check and see when places close!

 Priority Wine Pass and Local Wally Help

To help in the planning, and to figure out just where we should actually visit, I found and contacted Local Wally for his Napa and Sonoma advice. He had several first timer itineraries on his website, and after I answered some questions to give him an idea of our budget and winery preferences (boutique vs. big name, red vs. white) he gave us an itinerary with deals listed next to each place! To save on our costs, we also purchased the Priority Wine Pass through Wally, which was $39.99 and offers you 2 for 1 or even free tastings and discounts at lots and lots of wineries throughout the country. The pass is good for an entire calendar year, and we used it at every single place we visited, so we basically paid $40 to get half off everything else. It was super easy to use the pass, and we just showed it to the wineries when we went it.

Napa Valley

Day One: NAPA

We rolled into Oakland around 12, and then got our rental car and drove about an hour up into the Napa Valley. Keep in mind that many of the wineries will close by 4 or 5 at the latest, so you'll want to be sure you visit the ones that close earlier first. We also stayed out in Vacaville for both nights because we had free IHG nights, and so we did a little bit more driving at the end of the night, and even ate in Vacaville our last night. There are vineyards and wineries everywhere though, so it didn't feel that far out! 

Andretti Winery

Stop 1: Andretti

Andretti looks like a little Italian village. They offer 2 for 1 tastings on the pass, and had the best moscato I've ever had (Villa Andretti Napa Valley). Even though it was $40 a bottle, Im still kicking myself in the butt for not buying it! They also sell yummy mustards and cheeses, and have beautiful vineyards.

Hagafen Cellars

Stop 2: Hagafen Cellars

Hagafen was probably the most reasonable winery we visited, and one of my favorites. Their tasting fee goes towards the price of the bottle, and you still get two for one tasting. It only cost us two more dollars to bring a bottle of wine home, so we went for it. They have great whites, and also a really fun area to play corn hole, Yahtzee, and chess! 

Hagafen Cellars

Stop 3: Trinchero Napa Valley

Trinchero is a bit more "upscale", but is incredibly beautiful. We tried the $10 artisan cheese plate, and it was delicious and totally worth it. They also do two for one tasting. The grounds are newly renovated and gorgeous, and they actually took us on a tour of their grounds (and snapped the only picture we have of the two of us together!!)

Trinchero Winery

Stop 4: V. Sattui Winery

Our final stop for the day was at V. Sattui. It also has incredibly beautiful grounds (see the theme?), and a huge store with deli, cheese, and all sorts of souvenirs. They also offer tons and tons of tasting for reasonable prices (2 for 1 with the pass), though we were tasted out by the time we made it here. 

V Sattui

V Sattui

For dinner, we hopped around several places, but finally ended up at the reasonable, delicious Azzurro Pizzeria e Enoteca. Aaron had a delicious manciata, which is dough with a salad and meat on top that you can fold and eat like a sandwich. I enjoyed the baked rigatoni- delicious! We drove back to Vacaville for the night, and got ready for a full day in Sonoma! 


We woke up and headed into Sonoma, timing it to arrive at our first winery right around 10:30 (they open at 10). Yes, it's kinda early for wine, but hey- you want to keep it spaced out and be responsible, right? 

St. Francis Winery

Stop 1: St. Francis Winery

St. Francis also had very beautiful grounds that were excellent for picture taking (which they were actually doing for their company the day we were there). They also offered two for one tastings, and had a neat little path you could follow with fun facts and information about wine and the company. 

Stop 2: Landmark Vineyards

The sun was coming out of the clouds right when we reached Landmark. Their tasting were very reasonable, and they also took our two for one pass, though they said they were phasing out of it. We saw several large tour groups (like the tour we considered doing) there sharing a meal and wine, so we figured we were in the right place. We also purchased some awesome wine packs here that kept it safe on the flight home (in checked luggage). 

Our rental car for the two days...they upgraded us free after we had to wait for 30 min. Thanks, Hertz!

After Landmark, we drove into the city of Sonoma for a quick, cheap, and yummy lunch at Happy Dog

Stop 3: B. Wise Winery

We just stopped in to the small tasting room that wasn't on the actual vineyard property for B. Wise. They've got a pretty nifty story, and are a bit more upscale, but still offer the two for one pricing. They also have some pretty serious reds if that's your thing! 

Stop 4: Deerfield Ranch Winery

Deerfield is super cool because you get to taste inside of a cave. They also do the two for one tastings, and the nice lady even let me borrow her jacket when I got chilly inside. It's fun to walk through their racks and racks of wine barrels!

Stop 5: Schug Winery

Schug was our last stop on the trip, when we were starting to feel pretty wined out (if that's a thing). They did have really beautiful grounds that were a bit more off of the beaten path, and they actually offer two complimentary tastings with the pass! I had to get a little artsy with my photos on the drive.

After Aaron spoiled me and let me get my nails done, we drove back to Vacaville for dinner. Aaron found the number 3 restaurant in the city, and it didn't disappoint: Los Reyes Restaurant and Cantina. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed Mexican and conversation about all of our fun, before heading on to San Francisco for our next few days. More on that to come!

Napa and Sonoma are gorgeous and a whole lot of fun. Sonoma is a little bit more low-key, but you can also make Napa a little bit claimer and more budget friendly if you follow the plan we did! Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions! Cheers! 


Monday, June 27, 2016

Hipmunk Hotels: A Unique, Historic Stay in Providence, Newport, and More

When Aaron and I went on our road trip through the Northeast, we fell in love with the rolling hills, the gorgeous water views, and the amazing temperature. Because our original trip allowed for limited time in areas like Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, we're already dreaming of a return trip. Our travel is always focused on the best bang for your buck, and lately I've been using the new Hipmunk search and city guides to not only find the best deals, but also fun, unique hotel options. Here are my dream picks for a stay in Providence, Newport, and more!

Lancaster, Pennsylvania - Cork Factory

Source: Hipmunk.com
This unique hotel is an amazing, beautiful option. Built into what used to be a former factory, it offers gorgeous, industrial rooms and is featured in many wedding websites as an ideal place for an amazing reception! But don't worry, you can get all of this for right around $150 a night! Lancaster is located about an hour and a half southeast of Bethlehem (our next stop on this trip).

Bethlehem, PennsylvaniaHotel Bethlehem

Source: Hipmunk.com
 How beautiful is this dreamy, historic hotel from 1922? With just the right mix of unique and modern, this hotel starts at about $169 a night, and offers short walks to the heart of the city and historic shopping areas. Bethlehem is on the southeastern side of the state, and offers a dreamy break from the hustle and bustle of the big northeastern cities.

Newport, Rhode Island - The Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina

Source: Hipmunk.com
After a gorgeous four and a half hour drive through New York and Connecticut, you'll enter Rhode Island and be ready to stay right down on the waterfront in Newport. Located right on the wharf, you'll have so much to do just steps away, and you can snag this room for $150 a night. So beautiful!

Warwick, Rhode Island - NYLO Providence/Warwick

Source: Hipmunk.com

How cool is this modern, loft-style hotel? Located just a short drive from both Providence and Warwick, this unique hotel boasts a gorgeous water-side patio and several quirky lobbies to admire. Warwick is only 40 minutes away from Newport, which offers lots to do!

Providence, Rhode Island - Wyndham Garden Providence

Source: Hipmunk.com
Warwick and Providence are only 22 minutes away, so you'll have all day to spend exploring the capital and largest city in Rhode Island. There are tons of hotel options here, but my pick is the Wyndham Garden. You'll enjoy an incredible view right on the harbor, and there is so much to do in the area, including exploring the zoo, Brown University, India Point Park, and the Providence Shopping Mall. And you'll snag this room for right around $150 a night!

I hope this guide offers you some insight into some amazing places to stay in the Northeast. We were definitely surprised by just how much we loved the area, and we are excited to make a return visit in the near future. Cheers to an amazing trip and new adventures in the Northeast!



Friday, June 24, 2016

Five on Friday: Puppies, Pools, and Precious People

We've been back from our great "anniventury" for a week- and quite the week it has been. We love love love traveling, but it's also been oh so sweet to be home and to just enjoy a little bit of the unstructured freedom that summer brings for us teacher folk. There's nothing quite like alarm-free days and just filling the hours with sunshine, pool time, and a whole lot of hanging out with the really awesome people we are blessed to do life with. It's been a week of visitors, relief, and catching up. Here's what we've been up to!

1. Puppy Lovin'

My parents were out of town for several days, and so we got back just in time to watch Bandit for them! He was my little shadow for the entire time we had him, and he just couldn't stand to be left alone when I was out watering plants or trying to fold the laundry. He had a rough go on the first night, but after that he was golden and so sweet. It was so fun getting to see his little personality and have a puppy in the house for a few days.

2. Family Time

We are so thankful that we have some wonderful family that is so close and willing to help in the midst of hard times. At the tail end of our anniversary trip, Aaron's dad fell and was in the hospital, and we are so grateful that he was released this week and is doing well at home. With family in town, we also got to enjoy hosting some sweet kiddos for a few nights and going to the Royals game with them (which was extra special because it was their first game ever...and the Royals also had 21 hits!)

3. Marriage Surprises

Now that we've officially hit three years and counting, I'm still falling in love with my sweet hubby more and more each day. I could get all mushy gushy about him for days, but I'll just say that I'm so grateful for someone who challenges and cherishes me in such an amazing way. He's been off leading a cabin of guys at Wyldlife Camp (the middle school version of YoungLife Camp) this week, and I've definitely missed his sweet self. In case you missed it, I did share a few thoughts on marriage in my recent post, 5 Things that Surprised Me About Marriage. Did they (or would they) surprise you too?

4. Pools and Punches

With Aaron's absence, my extroverted self has been able to make great use of my time by catching up with all my "people" that I've missed during our travels (or just haven't seen for a while). From pool time to punching dates at 9Round, every moment has truly been such a great reminder of the amazing people that the Lord has placed in my life. The mid-20s can be strange and hard, which no one tells you, and I'm so grateful that I've got some pretty amazing friends who are real and intentional- people to share meals, stories, and life with.

Okay, you caught me. This isn't a pool. But isn't it lovely? Jamaica was the bomb.

5. Decor Dreaming

If I haven't been living at the pool, reading books, or running softball workouts, I've been doing some dreaming about a few small changes to our front room. I've decided that it's a little too dark and there's too much going on in there. I've also decided that I didn't really know what my "style" of decorating was until the last four or five months or so. Better late than never, right? I'm super happy with our Rustic Dining Room and our kitchen area, as well as our basement. But I'm ready to try to brighten the front room. I'm hoping I can do so by painting some accents and brightening the decor, and avoiding painting the walls for now. I'll keep you posted!

Hope you're having a wonderful June (isn't it flying?!), and not overheating too much! Happy Friday!


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Alder Collective Link Party #33

Hey there, party people! We're back- and not only do I mean with the Link Party, but I also mean that my hubby and I are actually home for a few weeks! I've already been making the most of our time with pool dates, sonic shakes, and Royals games! Definitely hot around these parts. We've been keeping my parents' dog while they are on vacation, and he's been the sweetest little companion. I'm fitting in haircuts, appointments, and a massage (YAY!) this week. I also finally had time to write a new blog post: 5 Things That Surprised Me About Marriage. If you're married, engaged, or hope to be someday- head on over and check it out. Have a fabulous week!


The Alder Collective Link Party

Welcome to The Alder Collective Link Party! We're so happy you stopped by to show off your stuff. A friendly reminder before we jump into the party: make sure you're visiting at least as many posts as you're linking up. This party is no fun if you don't see traffic and comments from it. Now check out what your hosts have been up to this week:  

  The Alder Collective Link Party
Each week we pin every link to the Alder Collective Link Party Pinterest board, where it will be seen by thousands of people. Here are our favorite links from last week's party:

Monday, June 20, 2016

5 Things that Surprised Me About Marriage

Marriage is one of the hardest, most wonderful adventures I've ever been on. The last three years have been the best of my life, and I would marry Aaron again in a heartbeat. He challenges me and cherishes me in the most amazing way that makes me fall in love with him all over again. But I'd be lying if I didn't say this: from the moment you say I do, life is never the same. Two people merging their lives into one is an incredible process, and there are bound to be misunderstandings, differences, and some surprises along the way. Here are five things that have surprised me about marriage, along what you should do about them.

1. You'll realize how selfish you are.

Boy oh boy, is this a biggie! I never considered myself to be a super selfish person, but once you get married you are aware of just how much your world revolves around you. Suddenly the plans for the day, expectations for holidays, or even what you want for dinner involve another person. It's easy to want your way and to try to take charge, but there are other feelings and opinions to consider.

What to Do About It:

Don't just assume that things will happen a certain way, especially your way. Talk about them. Ask questions. Come to compromises and figure out plans together. Just because you're married doesn't mean you have to give up your own individual hobbies or passions (see number two), but it DOES mean that you need to keep your spouse's needs and wants in consideration. If you work to out serve one another, and put each other's needs first, then you'll be just fine. And when you do have selfish moments, and you will, apologize and make a change for next time.

2. You may not do every single thing together, and that's okay. 

As some of you may already know, I'm a huge extrovert.  I love to be outside, work out, and be around people. But my hubby can only do "extrovert" things for so long. He doesn't recharge with people around, like I do. He recharges with some TV time or even just sitting and relaxing (without conversation). For a while, I thought he needed to be running, outside, and with people- just like me. But then I realized that while we have much in common (music, our faith, teaching, loving sports, etc), there are still things that make us different. And that's amazing! So it's okay if I go for a run by myself, or if he works on cars and watches some TV on his own. Because that's how we recharge.

What to Do About It:

Talk through this. Make sure that you are aware of each other's individual needs, and be real about the solo or "friend" time you'll need. You're still people with unique personalities and passions, and as spouses it is our job to cheer on each other in those passions- even if it's from the sidelines. Don't be upset or feel unloved if your spouse spends time doing their own thing every now and then- it doesn't mean that they don't love you. And if you are truly interested in being a part of your spouse's passions too, then say it! Don't be silent and angry- communicate, communicate, communicate.

3. You've got to learn to speak your mind (with kindness).

I know this one seems kind of obvious, but it's actually trickier than you think- especially for women. Coming from the dating world into marriage means that we've got to flip the switch from being reserved and nervous about what our significant others will think into being totally honest. That doesn't mean we just blurt out our emotions right way in the middle of an argument, but instead that we give our spouse our honest opinion when they ask for it, or tell them what we're thinking when they can't guess it.

What to Do About It:

Always assume the best in your spouse, and give them a reason to assume the best in you as well. If you're struggling with something, tell them. If you're scared about something, tell them. Marriage involves you both, and when things go unsaid then feelings get hurt, expectations go unmet, and confusion appears. Speak thoughtfully, and with kindness. And often. Communication is key.

4. You will have conflict, and that's okay. 

In a perfect world, married folks would never have any sort of disagreement. But because marriage involved two imperfect people, there is bound to be conflict. You'll fester over dirty clothes that are left on the floor, or he'll be annoyed that you change your outfit four times before you leave. Sometimes arguments will be quick and loud, and other times they'll go unspoken for days. But guess what- this is normal! You are not the only married folks in the world who have ever had an argument. That's far from the truth. Now obviously if things are getting abusive or if you are regularly struggling with conflict at a high level, you may want to reach out for help or see a counselor (which is also perfectly okay!) But for the most part, don't assume that your marriage is a failure or strange just because you don't always agree on everything.

What to Do About It:

Be real. Figure out the heart of the matter, and examine your heart. Be sure to take responsibility for what you have done and can change. Decide on your action steps to change things, set goals, and put your plans in motion. And take time to be alone with the Lord and to keep Him a priority. It's hard to love others well when you aren't loving Him. For more on this topic, check out my post When Conflict Comes.

5. You're going to keep changing. 

For some reason, I had it in my head that once I got married I would stay the same Kelsie forever and we'd just ride off into the sunset together. While parts of me have stayed the same,  I've also seen a lot of change in myself over the last few years. If we're honest, everyone is changing- all the time. We are constantly being shaped by our experiences, hopes, dreams, failures, and successes. This isn't a bad thing, it's just something that we have to be aware of. In fact, this is part of my heart and mission with this blog: to recognize the world is changing and moving around us, and to love fiercely, learn fearlessly, and live fully.

What to Do About It:

If we're going to change, we can either change together or separately. Aaron and I are committed to making our marriage work, and so we make an effort to change together. We will be different in five, ten, and fifteen years, but we want to continue to know and love each other, in the midst of all our flaws and failures. Because of this, we're still dating. (Check out my post on Why I'm Still Dating My Husband.) Share your hearts. Share your words. Continue to know and love each other through all life brings your way!


Are you following along on Facebook and Instagram
Be sure to check them out for updates and special photos! 

I'm linking up with Tell it to Me TuesdayBliss and Faith,  Sweet Little OnesTestimony TuesdayIntentional TuesdayTwinkly TuesdayWomen with IntentionA. Liz Adventures The Diary of a Real HousewifeUniquely Unfolded,  Momfessionals,Life in Leggings, and Quintessential Mommy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Alder Collective Link Party #32

Tomorrow is our anniversary, and we are still adventuring for a few more days! We've been to Orlando, Jamaica, Niagara Falls, and DC! I've been away from the blog for the most part- but it's been nice to unwind and unplug. Be on the look out for lots of stories about our trip!  Hope you're having a great week, and thanks for linking up!


The Alder Collective Link Party

Welcome to The Alder Collective Link Party! We're so happy you stopped by to show off your stuff. A friendly reminder before we jump into the party: make sure you're visiting at least as many posts as you're linking up. This party is no fun if you don't see traffic and comments from it. Now check out what your hosts have been up to this week:

  The Alder Collective Link Party
Each week we pin every link to the Alder Collective Link Party Pinterest board, where it will be seen by thousands of people. Here are our favorite links from last week's party:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Alder Collective Link Party #31

Happy Tuesday, y'all! The hubs and I are off adventuring around in celebration of our upcoming anniversary. I'm jetting off to Jamaica today, but if you'd like to hear a little more about our story, check out my post on How the Ks Came to Be: The Story of Us. There are also some fabulous features from last week's party. Thanks so much for linking up!


The Alder Collective Link Party

Welcome to The Alder Collective Link Party! We're so happy you stopped by to show off your stuff. A friendly reminder before we jump into the party: make sure you're visiting at least as many posts as you're linking up. This party is no fun if you don't see traffic and comments from it. Now check out what your hosts have been up to this week:

  The Alder Collective Link Party
Each week we pin every link to the Alder Collective Link Party Pinterest board, where it will be seen by thousands of people. Here are our favorite links from last week's party:

Friday, June 3, 2016

Five on Friday: Summer Fun & Our Third "Anniventury"

I can't believe that we are already into June, and halfway through 2016. Time sure does fly! This week we got back from one adventure, and are already preparing to jump into our next, more extended, adventure this week. It's been nice to be home and enjoy summer at its finest: sunshine, pool time, dear friends, late nights, and sleeping in! Here's what we've been up to this week, and what you can be looking for in the weeks to come!

1. San Francisco/Napa/Sonoma Getaway

As you may have seen, we finished up school last Monday, and then headed off early Tuesday morning for our first trip of the summer. We had an amazing time exploring the beautiful vineyards and wineries of Napa and Sonoma, and then spent two and half days visiting San Francisco for the first time. We rented bikes and rode across the Golden Gate Bridge, visited Alcatraz, and so much more than I'll be sharing in a post or two in the next few weeks. We'll be back for sure!

Disclaimer: This isn't my parents' pool. But I've been a pool lover from the start! 

2. Pool Time! 

Right after we got back, we celebrated my momma's birthday with family at my parents' house. In about 7th grade, my parents put in a pool in their backyard, so I grew up super spoiled and just had to walk out back for pool access in the summer. It was a lot of fun eating, catching up with family, and enjoying the sunshine out by the pool. I got to go up again yesterday with a sweet friend and there isn't much better than good conversation poolside with no commitments to worry about. (Teacher perks, y'all!)

3. Memorial Day Fun

Another fun thing this week was spending Memorial Day afternoon with lots of friends. We got to spend the day pontooning on the lake with several of our very favorite couples, and other than a brief rain break, there was lots of time to enjoy the sun, doughnuts, and each other's company. My guy even caught a fish! Summer is the best because it offers built in time for slower days and lots of outdoor fun, which are two of my favorite things!

4. Softball Camp

When I wasn't at the pool or lake, I've been spending pretty much all of my time on the softball field the last few days. We had our three day softball camp, which ran for two hours with the high school kids, and then another two hours with girls in grades 1-5. The days were long, but super fun, and it was great to be back on the diamond hitting ground balls and seeing some awesome girls again. Yesterday we wrapped up our week with a little laser tagging, and I am officially terrible at it. All in all, I wasn't mad about being outside from 2:30-8, and I'm looking forward to another season of softball in the fall.

5. Our Third "Anniventury"

As we will be quite a bit this summer, we are already packing and finalizing things for our next trip, which we've decided to call our "anniventury". What better way to ring in our third anniversary than to travel around from place to place for 13 days of fun, adventure, and sweet time with each other. We're off to Orlando to be kids at Disney and Universal Studios, then down to an all-inclusive in Jamaica for beach relaxation for a few days, then up to Niagara Falls to see something we never have, then over to DC for my students to compete in a National competition, and to celebrate our third year of marriage. It will be a little crazy, but time with my hubby is my favorite, and I'm looking forward to all the silly fun, memories, and good long talks that we'll get to share in the coming days.

Cheers to summer fun and all of the time spent adventuring with friends and family! I hope you're enjoying this new season, and finding time to rest, read, and have wonderful intentional time with those you love most. To keep up with us on all of our adventures, be sure to follow along on Instagram or Facebook if you aren't already! I'm sure we'll have some crazy stories and a few funny photos along the way!