Seattle Fall Weekend 2018

The past two Falls, I have made a trip out to Seattle with my son to have special alone time with him and his cousins. My brother lives in Seattle with his wife, three kids, two dogs, and two cats. As a lover of the Pacific Northwest, I love this trip to go visit him and just spend quality family time together. We don’t do much while there but it is nice to be all together. Here are some pictures of the weekend.

 

My brother’s house. ISN’T IT SO CUTE? Even with the scary decorations (my brother’s kids wanted it to be the spookiest house in the neighborhood), it is so cute. And so Fall.

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Overnight Train

When we were mapping out our summer travels, I knew that at one point, I wanted to take the kids on an overnight sleeper train adventure. Luckily, we had planned to go on our annual trip to Sonoma, so I knew that the magical train dream would be able to happen. It was perfect timing as my best friend from college, Bridget, had been visiting us in Eugene, and we were both aiming to get to California at the same time. So the five of us — me, Bridget, my two kids and her daughter — all went on the adventure together. And it was exactly that: an adventure. Not a mode of transportation to get us from Point A to Point B, or a luxurious beautiful hotel, but a memorable and fun experience. It was so much fun that I hope to make it an annual tradition — there was something about it that was nostalgic, peaceful, romantic, and comforting.

 

The five of us. And yes, Bridget and I are wearing matching outfits. Why would we NOT wear matching outfits?

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Random Thought

This is totally random and not my normal post, but, well, I am random and not completely normal. So it all seems fitting 🙂 Just a simple message to say that it is important to reach out to friends even if you feel like you know what is going on. Often times, what appears on social media (or say, in a blog), is just a fraction of reality. Social media is a great tool because it gives you a glimpse into your friends’ lives and whereabouts, but it is not actual communication with a friend. Writing an email, making a phone call, sending a text, making IRL plans –> that makes the biggest difference. Connecting and communicating with friends and loved ones is a two way street and oh so important.  Don’t forget to check in on your strong friends. A great article on this is here. And this applies to family, friends, mentors, colleagues, or inspirations. I know this is something that I need to continue to work on, but I also know that when I do hear from loved ones, it means the world to me.  A simple 2 minute effort goes along way. Happy Wednesday!

 

Me and the kiddos.

 

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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Summer 2018 Orcas Island

We just finished up a full week in Orcas Island (a part of the San Juan Islands) with my family. It was a super fun filled week of hiking, biking, swimming in lakes, swimming in the ocean, swimming in the pool, roasting marshmallows, and breathing in the super fresh air. Orcas Island is an incredibly hilly island (made my runs extremely challenging….) but with ridiculous beautiful views and scenery. I can’t wait to return again and hope to make it an annual trip. Enjoy the pictures!

 

We rented a house in Rosario, one mile away from Moran State Park. This meant great access to hikes, trails, lakes, and views. At the top of Mount Constitution, there were breathtaking views of the other San Juan Islands, the Cascade Mountains, and all the lush greenery. HEAVEN, truly heaven.

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Summer 2018 Greece

In late June, we were fortunate to spend a week of vacation with my inlaws in Greece, my first trip there in 20+ years. As the kids and I had just come off a week of cultural visits (in Paris), we used our time in Greece to rest and relax. Despite the fact that Greece is full of a rich history, we were located in a remote part of the mainland of Greece and didn’t travel outside of the resort (except for one day where we were on a boat). We fell in love with Greece — the resort was absolutely DIVINE and I hope that we will be returning again soon. And of course, next time, we will have to check out more cultural sites as well as many of the islands.

 

Everything about the hotel was perfection. Absolutely perfect. This is where we ate breakfast every morning overlooking the ocean and mountains.

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To-Do-Spring Wish List NYC 2018

Despite the fact that it still feels like winter in New York, it actually *is* Spring. Since I love planning new adventures and outings each season, here is what I am currently hoping to do this Spring in New York! Take a look!

 

1. See Hamilton again….because it has been two years since I first (and last) saw this magical performance.

 

I had the opportunity to see the original cast in April 2016 and it was truly one of the highlights of my year. I am still listening to the music nonstop and can’t wait to go back….

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Sunriver December 2017

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great finish to 2017 and a strong start to the New Year….I was happily in bed and asleep by 10:30 NYE after a fun dinner out with family and friends. I am still trying to create my goals for 2018, but in the meantime, here are some pictures of our adventure out west last week in Sunriver, OR with my parents, and brother’s family.   It is truly a great family friendly place for everyone to experience the beauty and nature of Oregon. We never get tired of it, even when going twice a year (this year in March and again in December). Enjoy the photos of beautiful Oregon!

 

Once again, Ken was the one who went downhill skiing with the kids. I only went one day (Christmas Day) and although it is fun, nothing compares to cross country skiing. So Ken is the downhill guy, and I am the cross country gal. yin and yang.

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Holiday Traditions

As hard as I try, the holiday celebrations in our family are far from instagram-worthy. Most of my friends put on the most incredible Christmas with holiday cheer, traditions, beauty, and fanfare. But for whatever reason, (maybe it is because I am Jewish and did not celebrate Christmas growing up), I always fall short. Simply put, I am #BadAtXmas. I was never told about how Santa operates, the magic of Elf-on-a-shelf, the music, the outfits, the sugar-cookie-creation; all of it is a different language and I don’t know how to speak it. I am the first to admit that I need a private tutor to help me understand HOW CHRISTMAS WORKS.

 

My kids are also at the age now where they ask about it… why our presents are under the tree in early December, why we open presents well before the 25th (we generally leave town as soon as Winter Break starts), why we don’t have stockings, why there is no Christmas Dinner…we just have never had a “normal” Christmas, and I am having tremendous Mom Guilt. I have to remind myself that I do a lot of things well — like their predictable and constantly well performed bedtime routine, or the fact that I never forget them at school. But holiday traditions are something I need to work on — perhaps a goal for 2018?

 

As a mixed religion family, we celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas. That said, Hannukah in the Jewish Tradition is not a big ordeal: it is simply lighting of the candles, a prayer, gift exchange, and maybe some latkas and dreidel playing. So we do that and it is fun and all, but there is nothing BIG and HUGE that makes it that memorable and exciting. For Christmas, we are always together as a family somewhere that is not home. We do have a Christmas Tree in our home in NYC, but we don’t have the same traditions and customs that most of my friends do.

 

So with all of that said, I always breathe a sigh of relief when Christmas and the holidays are over. Once it has passed, I no longer fear my failure as a mom and can concentrate on the things I am better at. So, for those of you who are good at holidays, what and how do you do it? And is it fake it till you make it? Or is it genuine and real? Or do I just embrace the fact that “this” is something I am not good at, and learn from my weaknesses?

 

Lighting of the candle.  With the Christmas tree in the background.

Another night lighting.

The smile.

 

I hope everyone has a great week and finishes up 2017 in a strong and loving way.

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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Currently Loving December 2017

With a snap of a finger, lightning speed, here we are in December. Mid December, in fact. Not sure how time flies as fast as it does, but, it does. So without further ado, here is what I am currently loving this month! Enjoy!

 

Holiday Card Display

 

GENIUS.

 

I like how it is mid December, and we have already received 100 cards. Mind you, I also sent out my cards on the 1st of December, so just like me, most of our friends like to be early….. This holiday card ring hack has changed my life — it literally makes me so happy every day to have the cards OUT, without cluttering up the house!

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Welcome back to reality of school / work / routine / the busy life before the holidays…..I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. I had a great long weekend with my family and enjoyed every minute — so much to be thankful and grateful for. Although it was super low key and we didn’t do anything too out of the ordinary, each day we did something fun and exciting (more on that later). We were quite active, spent a lot of time outdoors, visited best friends, and had an overall great holiday. One of the highlights was the Macy’s Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning. We are good friends with the Macy’s Executive Chairman and so this time around, we were treated like true VIPs and celebrities (we had a detective escort us to our seats)! The one and only time that this will happen to us — and we loved every minute!

 

It was super cold Thanksgiving morning, and we knew that we were going to be sitting for several hours.  We had vests, double layered pants, and long underwear UNDER our jackets. Thank goodness, because we were still cold.

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NYC Fall To Do List 2017

HERE I GO AGAIN….another list, another set of goals…..

 

1. Go to a new restaurant each month.

 

We are spoiled in NYC with access to the best food and restaurants in the world. And yet, Ken and I have the tendency to go to the same three (who am I kidding, ONE) restaurant. So I want to make more of an effort and take advantage of all the great food around us.

 

There are over 850,000 (Thanks, Alexis) restaurants in NYC! So many types, cuisines, atmospheres, and experiences to try.

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Costanoa

Greetings from beautiful Northern California!  We just had an amazing weekend catching up with our Stanford friends in Costanoa. Part camping, part hotel; basically high-end roughing it. Not camping, but pretending to camp.

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Our bungalow, aka a yurt. This little shelter is made up of plastic walls. Like a tent, but actually a little cottage.

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Sonoma 2017

We returned Sunday night from our Third Annual Sonoma Trip with a small group of our Stanford friends. It continues to be a wonderful tradition and something we look forward to each summer. If you have never been to wine country in CA before, I highly suggest doing it– beautiful vineyard views, hot dry weather, delicious farm-to-table-food, and of course… amazing local wine. Can life be any better? Thank you to our wonderful friends and hosts, Kimmers and Joe. Enjoy the photos — I want to go back now!

 

On our friend's property (100 acres!), they have many different houses / cabins spread out. We took over a cabin close to the main house and it was oh so cute (and yes, all four of us Natoris slept in the same bed for three nights!)

The guest house we stayed at on our friend’s property. We took over a cabin close to the main house and it was oh so cute (and all four of us Natoris slept in the same bed for three nights!)

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1st Week of Summer 2017 in Oregon

It is hard to believe that ten days ago, I was in NYC….it feels like I’ve been gone for months! My life in Oregon is quite simple, but it is easy, wonderful, and I love it. Here are some pictures of the past week – Enjoy!

 

We do a lot of biking in Eugene. My parents actually don't drive anywhere, they SOLELY bike. So we have fun biking around the river, picking the kids up from camp, or just doing errands. In this photo, I am with my daughter and my littlest niece, Nadia.

We do a lot of biking in Eugene. My parents actually don’t drive anywhere. So we have fun biking around the river, picking the kids up from camp, or just doing errands. In this photo, I am with my daughter and my littlest niece, Nadia. (My helmet is from Sawako Furono Helmets)

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Kid Clothing

I have a range of favorite kid clothing: from beautiful-fancy-pants-super-expensive Bonpoint, to cheap-and-trendy Zara. In addition to those retailers, here are some more obscure brands for kids clothes that I currently love and shop. (And sorry in advance for the photos….although I think my kids are super cute, they are not models, so no judgements).

 

Chaser

 

Hip, California cool style. What is not to love? Fun summer clothing for the kids.

 

This shirt is currently Cruzzie's favorite shirt. It is super soft and comfortable with a good message.

This shirt is currently Cruzzie’s favorite. It is super soft and comfortable with a good message.

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Spring Break 2017 Sunriver

We are now full swing back to reality with school, tutoring, responsibilities, etc…so it seems hard to think that we were just in Oregon a couple of days ago — it seems like an eternity. I already miss my parents, the fresh air, the fir trees, the crisp delicious water, and everything Oregon. Here are some pictures of our week skiing in Sunriver, Oregon. Enjoy!

 

Ken is the downhill teacher. He did an amazing job each day spending half the day with one kid, and then the other half with the other kid. They made huge improvements!

Ken is the downhill teacher. He did an amazing job each day spending half the day with one kid, and then the other half with the other kid. They made huge improvements!

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Spring Break 2017 Week 1

Spring Break!  We were fortunate enough to spend our first week in the sun, first in Puerto Rico with my in-laws, and then in Florida (just me and the kids). Lots of sunshine, beach, pool, french fries, chicken fingers, and sunscreen. Here are some pictures to recap our week! Enjoy (and thanks for letting me indulge).

 

Love the combination of beach and then pool. And of course, minutes soaking up the Vitamin D on the ground.

We stayed at Dorado Beach for the fourth straight year.  Good combo of kids activities and things for my in-laws to do.  Love the combination of beach and then pool. And of course, minutes soaking up the Vitamin D on the ground.

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Scrumptious Banana Bread

The other morning when I was at my good friend’s house, she had just pulled banana bread out of the oven (how she makes banana bread while dealing with two kids on a school morning amazes me to no end!). She offered a piece, and although I had already eaten breakfast, I couldn’t say no. And HOLY crap, this was the best banana bread ever. Thankfully, she sent me the recipe and here it is!

 

This is how I bake....6:30 am on a Sunday morning, in my pajamas, totally disheveled, with my little baking partner (my 4 year old), with flour all over myself. But at least I am wearing FEATHERS undies.

This is how I bake….6:30 am on a Sunday morning, in my pajamas, totally disheveled, with my little baking partner (my 4 year old), and flour all over myself. But at least I am wearing FEATHERS undies. (I promise you this photo was not staged — Ken took  a photo of me because he said it looked ridiculous with the hand print).

 

Ingredients:

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Park City, Utah

It feels like a million years ago that we were on vacation with our dear friends in Deer Valley / Park City, Utah. In reality, it was just a week ago (another trip to the West Coast this weekend for my sister’s wedding sure makes time confusing). Deer Valley was the perfect ending to a fabulous summer, filled with lots of activities and simple family fun with great friends. Here is a recap of our trip with recommendations.. Deer Valley is a PERFECT summer getaway (particularly at the end of the summer after Utah schools start up… everything was empty which was perfect!)

 

Utah

Utah

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Oregon Coast 2016

This past weekend, the kids, parents and I went to the Oregon Coast to escape the hot temperatures of Eugene (in the 100s) and surround ourselves in the beauty of the Oregon Coast. We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed nature, and family (minus Ken, who was in New York). Take a look at the pictures.

 

The Oregon Coast is always much colder than inland .... which makes sense, but this past weekend it was 30 degrees colder. 30!!!!

The Oregon Coast is always much colder than inland …. which makes sense, but this past weekend it was 30 degrees colder. 30!!!!

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My Eugene Summer Routine 2016

I love my summers with my parents in Eugene.  It couldn’t be any different than our routine in New York, and I love the change of pace both for me and for our family.  Not very glamorous or fashionable or social; but very nature-centered, kids focused, with lots of fresh air. Take a look.

 

I wake up very early and do my morning workout before the kids eat breakfast. I just get up, and do it. Then, after the kids are fed and dressed, I take Cruzzie to camp (in the car). From there, Tusia and I start our day of Tusia-Mama Camp (the oh so exciting camp) which means:

 

Trips to the grocery store...who knew that they could be so exciting?

Trips to the grocery store…who knew that they could be so exciting? And who knew I needed to go most days? (Her cousin Nadia is pictured – Toosh is hiding behind the grocery cart).

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My Sister’s Bridal Luncheon

Last Friday, my sister Courtney and I hosted a Bridal Luncheon to celebrate our baby sister, Galen, and her upcoming wedding. The lunch took place at Olympia Provisions in Portland. Located in a hip / up and coming industrial area of Northwest Portland, the restaurant (which also is known for its meat sold nation wide) was the perfect venue. The lunch was super special with a great group of girls, delicious food, bubbling sparkling wine,  and a glowing bride-to-be.

 

Truly, a la Portlandia.

Truly, a la Portlandia; garage, brick, burlap, and meat.

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4th of July Weekend 2016

Happy short week (and happy belated birthday, USA)! I hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend and off to a great July (holllllly smokes). As always when with family, we had a great weekend celebrating with my brother and his family in Seattle. The only bad news was that Ken was unable to fly out as planned due to a storm on Friday night in NYC. After 4 hours on the tarmac and his flight being canceled, he sadly didn’t make it to the west coast. We missed him but will be reunited with him for 10 days on Friday! Here is a recap of our weekend!

 

We went sailing in the evening on Lake Washington (pictured: son Cruzzie, brother Giora).

We went sailing in the evening on Lake Washington (pictured: son Cruzzie, brother Giora).

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Mother’s Day in Paris

Bonjour! Hello from NYC after a whirlwind trip celebrating Mother’s Day with my special mother-in-law Josie Natori! As most of you know, I have a deep profound love for Paris and feel that it is my second home (Cruzzie corrected me and said “third’ — after NYC and Oregon, so true true). As it had been over a year since I had last been there, I was dying to get there. So my mother-in-law and I (just the two of us), jumped on a plane and went there for the long weekend. And what a special and wonderful treat it was. I am currently cross-eyed from no sleep (Jet Lag and I don’t mix), and we #ShoppedTillWeDropped, but it was so special and fun; a weekend to always remember. Take a look.

 

The view from the apartment. There is just something so special and glamorous of the buildings there. #BuildingEnvy

The view from the apartment. There is just something so special and glamorous about the buildings there. #BuildingEnvy

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Russ & Daughters

The new Russ and Daughters inside The Jewish Museum is a must eat and must see destination! This past Sunday, when my father was in town, we had the chance to go to Brunch with the family and celebrate my side of the family’s heritage.

 

Located in the basement of the museum, it is in fact sub-terranean, but still a great location to visit even with no windows.

Located in the basement of the museum, it is in fact sub-terranean, but still a great location to visit even with no windows.

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