Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Travel - A Weekend in Newport, RI

Just about every March/April Matt and I get "the itch."  Our New England winter has been long, work has kept us away from each other much more than 50 hours a week, and we desperately need a way to recharge.  Last year we took a long weekend in Vermont after "the itch."  This year we headed back to a familiar favorite, Newport, Rhode Island.

Matt and I met in college at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI.  And though we don't visit there often, we still enjoy coming back to one of our favorite Rhode Island towns.  We've also discovered that the off season is a great time to travel here to beat the Newport summer crowds of popped collar, Sperry wearing, tourists.  You can also score some excellent rates on hotels, and we timed it with restaurant week to try more of Newport's great restaurants at more competitive prices.

We want to share our travel stories more often - to share what we like (possibly don't like) and hope you can take some of our tips on your own trip!

Where to Stay: So far we have two favorites from our stays in Newport, and once learned the Best Western is a no go! Don't do it!

The Attwater: This trip was our first time at The Attwater, a Boutique Lark Hotel close to downtown Newport and we're in love!  We scored 30% off their regular rates by spotting the Hotel on  This place is a blogger's dream!  The room was large and everything was spotless and so comfortable.  They include a small breakfast which was just enough to get our day going and not spoil a restaurant week lunch.  We also took full advantage of the mid afternoon treats and lattes.  Another win for Newport - this hotel includes parking! Year round!

The Hotel Viking: We've stayed here in the past, but only if we could find a discounted rate.  They are also part of a Boutique Hotel group - Noble House Hotels & Resorts.  We like the Viking, it is a very historic part of Newport.  Hanging out at the hotel bar makes us feel part of the swanky Newport.  If you're staying here, we recommend the newer hotels rooms, and not the historic suites.  They also don't commonly include parking or breakfast, but you can ask!

What to Do:  There are so many great things to do in Newport, the beaches, Cliff Walk, the mansion tours but we don't want to overwhelm anyone headed there just for a weekend so we'll share our favorite highlights.

Newport Storm Brewery & Newport Distilling Co:  Our relationship was built on Friday night dates to Newport Storm Brewery for beer tastings in college.  They are Rhode Island's only microbrewery and make some extremely great beer in their new facility.  If you're not into beer, they also offer a Rum tasting - distilled in house! AND featured on Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe!  If you go ask for Brent and tell him Meg and Matt sent you.

Newport Vineyards:  I don't know what it is about vineyards, but we just love to visit them.  Newport Vineyard is nothing like what you'll see in a big wine country, but it's pretty impressive that they grow all of their own grapes for their wines.  It's worth a stop for a tasting and perhaps a tour.  They have a wine variety for everyone, and they are excellent.

The Armory Antiques:  A trip to Newport is not complete for us without a stop in The Armory Antique store.  Most of their goods are nautical because of the location.  

Thames Street Shopping: Downtown Newport is full of both main stream (Banana Republic) and eclectic shopping.  And if you're in town before May 1st, all of the metered parking is free!

Norman Bird Sanctuary:  We didn't stop here on this past trip, but if you have a hike in your schedule, the Norman Bird Sanctuary is nearby and you can hike to some pretty amazing views of the beaches.

Ocean Drive & Fort Adams:  Looking for your dream home?  Exploring Ocean Drive and Fort Adams is a quiet drive, perfect for Sunday morning before you need to head home.

Where to Eat:  There must be over 100 restaurants in Newport and the surrounding area and honestly, about 75% of them are really good.  We're highlighting our favorites:

Perro Salado: Open for dinner, Perro Salado is located in an old home and serves rustic mexican.  This is a great spot for a romantic dinner if you like spicy food and amazing cocktails.

Midtown Oyster:  We ended up here for lunch, where we had the Midtown Burger, a quality cheeseburger with fried oysters.  If fried seafood or a classic pub burger is what you're craving head here.  The beer list is extensive.

Fluke wine bar & kitchen:  If you looking for something romantic, but don't want to end up with the "yuppie" crowd at Bowen's, try Fluke.  The menu was extremely eclectic and worth the trip if you want to eat something you'd never attempt cooking at home.  Fluke also has a great wine list and cocktail menu including some great non alcoholic options.

Brick Alley Pub:  This would be the pub to visit with a crowd!  The menu has lots of variety and everyone loves the salad bar.  

Aidan's:  Now we're venturing outside of Newport.  Aidan's is located downtown Bristol and as long as you avoid it after 10pm you won't run into too much of a college crowd.  Aidan's is always full of locals who just want some great Irish pub grub.  And again - they feature an extensive beer menu and long tap list.  (do you see a trend?)

West Main Pizza:  In between Newport and Bristol you'll find West Main Pizza.  They won't tell me the recipe, but the crust makes this pizza the best we've ever had.  Even when we're not hungry we stop because nobody else does it like them.  Our favorite is the Blue Cow Pizza - topped with hamburger, bacon and blue cheese sauce.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

2014 Goals Update

The first three months of 2014 have come and gone.  And I'm completely fine with that because they have been COLD!  I know winters are cold and snowy in New England, but I feel like the winter of 2014 was colder for a longer period of time and I think everyone is ready for sun, warmth, and good old New England humidity!  

I wanted to do a three month check in on our goals.  Mostly to keep us accountable, but to share in case you follow our blog and are curious.  You'll see we haven't made progress on everything, but I'm OK with that.  We've been through some "stuff" these past three months that I'd categorize as "big life stuff." And through it all, we're still standing and happy, and that's an accomplishment that I'm very proud of.  Add to that the goals we were able to start and I'd say we're going to have a very strong 2014.

18 Preston Goals
- Complete our exterior painting project - We're still waiting on the weather.  Hopefully we'll get started mid to late April.

- Hire an electrician (and our first official contractor) - Another item waiting on the weather.  We haven't tackled many big home improvement projects in these first few months of 2014.

- Share 52 blog posts this year (anyone notice the little face lift!) - We've been pretty slow on this one, but have lots of great ideas in the pipeline.  Now is just time and motivation to share them with all of you!

Matt's Goals
- Complete an obstacle race - Hasn't signed up yet, but boot camp starts soon!

- Finish a basement overhaul - Began the planning phase.  Once it warms up and we can move items to the garage for staging during the basement overhaul we'll get started on the execution phase.

- Have our first Tag Sale - Another item waiting on that warm weather, but we're super excited for a yard sale to purge!

- Workout every weekend - Been on a few runs, but again, the weather the beginning of 2014 hasn't been very motivating.

Meg's Goals
- Practice Yoga - Excited to stay this is on track.  Got off to a slow start, but now that I "get it" I practice 2-3 times per week.

- Finish converting the upstairs room to a craft/office space - Excited to also confirm this is pretty much done!  Some small items are left, but for the most part the room is completely redone and functioning as a beautiful crafting space.  

- Have our first Yard Sale (for those of your who didn't grow up in Connecticut) - Another item waiting on that warm weather, but we're super excited for a yard sale to purge!

- Workout every weekend - This didn't start in January, but my yoga practice has me at the yoga studio every weekend and now that nice weather is starting to peek out here and there we've managed a few long neighborhood walks.