where to stay in albany

Friends, I've been meaning to recommend this to everyone I know booking hotel rooms in Albany, but that occasion hasn't risen very often, so I'll tell all of you here. Stay at the Morgan State House Inn. It's a beautiful brownstone-turned-inn right in the middle of Albany's Center Square neighborhood. Charming, cozy and just a little funky. The building is gorgeous, the garden is an oasis and the rooms are just adorable. Their kitchen is stocked with coffee, pastry snacks and a simple continental breakfast each morning. Eat inside or out in the garden. Splendid!

Chris' parents have stayed here twice now, once in the main building and once in the annex a few doors down. I hadn't even known of the place before they found it, and what a good find it was. When they are in town we'll head to their room for pre-dinner gin and tonics and each time it feels like I'm on vacation. The inn itself is a treat, but the neighborhood is even better. You know how much I like the neighborhood. Stay here to get a glimpse of my Albany. You'll be in the middle of a great, walkable neighborhood, adjacent to a magnificent park, and a quick walk to great restaurants, a charming wine shop, craft beer retailer, the Empire State Plaza... you're in the middle of it. It's the next best thing to staying at your really hip, downtown-living friend's place. You'll feel like a local.

Just an other unsolicited, unsponsored recommendation from yours truly. There are lots of places to stay in Albany, but I think this one might take the cake. Maybe I'll put together a "72 Hours in Albany" list, a la the New York Times, in case anyone is interested in visiting our fair capital city.

Waxing poetic about our neighborhood here and here.

All photos from the Morgan State House Inn.

float on

We've been trying to squeeze every ounce of awesome out of this summer and part of that means getting in the water. Any water. Lakes, oceans, pools. I lamented one recent summer how I had barely spent any time in my bathing suit and what a shame that is, because summers are for swimming.

Well for me, it's mostly floating. I think I got it from my mom, but if you put me in a body of water all I want to do is float on my back and gaze up at the sky. This summer I've paddleboarded, paddleboated, tiptoed, waded, bathed, swam, lounged, jumped, dove, boozed and floated in bodies of water all over the place. I've been in Adirondack lakes and off the shore of Jamaican beaches and at private villa pools... fancy! Everywhere I've been I've found myself lazily floating and staring up at the sky. Watching the supermoon and counting off all of the people that I love. Sending my trippy blessings to people in different states and on different continents. Squinting into the afternoon sun and grinning, with periodic breaks to reapply my SPF 30. Life is never free of all stress and commotion, but floating sure makes me forget about the stressful bits.

Are you guys all getting some good pool, lake or ocean time in this year? In the past I haven't always been into it, but I'm totally back in action. Don't worry about whether or not you have a "bikini body" or what your bum looks like in your bathing suit, just get in that water and splash around. Or float, your call.

running in skirts

Last weekend I ran 13.1 miles... in a skirt! Chris and I had a beautiful, if very quick, trip to Burlington where we fueled up on sunshine, local beer and running. As a two-person team in the Vermont City Marathon (yep, we've done this before), we each tackled 13.1 miles and then scurried home quickly to attend a beautiful, relaxed wedding with a big red barn and lawn games and champagne.

I have harbored such mixed feelings about the running skirt, including, but not limited to:
  • "I don't get it."
  • "How cute! I'll buy three."
  • "So just because I'm a chick I need to run in a SKIRT now and I mean whatever happened to equality and being able to be female and tough and not princess-ify everything."
  • "I am a divine feminine goddess and I am going to crush it in this running skirt."
  • "Isn't it really more of a skort?"
  • "Hating on running skirts is so anti-woman... so you have to dress like a man to be taken seriously?"
  • "Oh come, on... a running skirt?! Really, Christine?"
  • "I look really cute in this."
  • "I feel like an idiot in this."

I see women wearing them and I love them. So chic! So hip. I've always been squarely in the camp that appreciates cute workout clothes. If I wear schleppy clothes, I feel schleppy. If I wear cute clothes, I feel cute. I make no apologies. If you are going to work yourself into a sweaty, red-faced mess you might as well have great sneakers on and a snappy outfit, yes?

This is my still-sleeping-and-about-to-run-a-race face.

The running skirt always seemed like a step too far though. I worried about looking silly, about attracting too much attention and about looking like I didn't belong with the "serious" runners. But then I would try a skirt on and think, "This looks good!" So what was my problem?

I think there is a bit more in here about patriarchy and gender roles and embracing the feminine and something else important, but what it should come down to is this:  Do you want to wear a running skirt? Do you feel good in it? Is it comfortable and practical? If yes, do it. Rock it. Get it. It's kind of like the short hair thing- not everyone will understand it or like it, but if you wear it with rockstar confidence then you will be unstoppable.

Last weekend I was high on life and about to crush half marathon #6. Chris told me I looked cute in the skirt, so I wore it to the race. I'm glad I did. A lot of other women wore running skirts too. We all looked awesome and we all ran good races. You can be fierce in a running skirt, you really can.

What do you think? Do you think running skirts are ridiculous? Would you ever wear one? I know I'll still have to talk myself into wearing them out on training runs. Races are more comfortable, because you are surrounded by supportive runners, but the solo run is where you really need to summon your courage and throw your shoulders back. I'm on a mission to convince others to give the running skirt a try, because it might help me have the confidence to wear one more often.

PS- Does anyone care about the technical specifics of running skirts and apparel? Like, which ones I like and why and all of that? If so, let me know and I'm happy to share.

Related posts
That first marathon
Running for fun
Get outside and run
It's just a half marathon
His marathon

more portland adventures

Portland, I can't stay away from you. I just took a quick trip out to visit my friend Al in Portland and, my, it's still such a lovely city. Even its typical drizzly weather charmed me this trip. We ate and drank and visited and ran and I fell more in love with that place. Here are a few photos!

Le sigh. We took advantage of a rainy day and road tripped out through the Columbia River Gorge.  The views were... gorge-ous. We spent some time at Maryhill Museum of Art, then wandered over to the Maryhill Winery where we ended up buying a half a case of wine. Seize the moment!

On our drive back, Al took me to Pfriem Brewers in Hood River and I ordered the tastiest veggie burger and cauliflower soup possible.

One less rainy day, I demanded that we stop at the Moberi smoothie cart in his neighborhood so I could give the bike-powered blender a try! I didn't realize until people told me on Facebook and Instagram that this business had been on the show Shark Tank. All the cooler, I guess. If you're wondering, the green smoothie I ordered has now convinced me to put fresh mint in all future smoothies. And juices. And cocktails. Mint everywhere.

As it turns out, most of the photos I took were of my food. I look back at them longingly, just as one might do with photos of actual humans. One morning we had second breakfast (it's a thing) at a neighborhood French bakery called St. Honore Boulangerie. Buttery pain au chocolat and a Normandy apple toast with two coffees to go, please.

My best street-style photos. I'm re-integrating boot cut jeans back into my wardrobe after years of exclusively wearing skinnies. It's going well, so far. Remember when everyone thought skinny jeans were so ugly? I remember thinking, "I will never wear those." And now here I am years later and I'm balking at the idea of wearing bootcut jeans. They feel so floppy around the ankles! Oh fashion.

On my last night, we went to a new French restaurant called St. Jack for a few nibbles and specialty cocktails. Why do salads always taste so much better at restaurants?! In a restaurant, they feel fancy and special. At home, they feel sad. Sure, in the middle of summer with a bustling farmers market you can put together an attractive plate of greens but other times they are the equivalent of having cereal for dinner. Am I right? 

A fantastic mini-vacation and visit to see my dear friend the doc before he moves back to the East coast! We touristed around Columbia gorge, ate great food, dyed Easter eggs, went for rainy and sunny runs and generally yukked it up.  I even got to meet up with the Portland Habitat for Humanity for a little bit. During the same time, Chris was out adventuring in Colorado. In shocking news, he did not take photos. I suppose we will just have to imagine what all of his lunches and dinners looked like. Thanks, Al, for hosting another great Portland getaway and for waking up at 4am to drive me to the airport on Easter Sunday!

That time we drove up and down the West coast & stopped in Portland
I spent a week taking yoga classes, going to concerts & getting my pixie cut trimmed in Portland

west coast postcard no. 5, portlandia

Chris and I arrived at the final stop of our West coast tour on a Wednesday evening. We were thrilled to finally see a familiar place, to have someone with suggestions of where to go and where to eat so we could stop doing so much travel research, and to have a place to do laundry. And! We were so excited to spend time with our favorite doctor and hang out in the best city. Al had just moved into a new neighborhood and new apartment a week before we got there, so it was extra awesome of him to host us. And we arrived having just driven a full day after going running, without showering. So, we were kind of gross house guests. We dropped down our bags, opened a few local Oregon beers and devoured a block of cheese while recounting our California travels.

The next morning we returned our wonderful little Prius to the rental car place and then bumbled around Portland while Alex was at work, marveling at how incredible the city is. I was worried that I painted an overly-beautiful picture of the city for Chris and that it would disappoint once we got there. Of course, it did no such thing. The lively streets, the epic food carts, all of the pedestrians and cyclists, microbreweries and giant bookstores (with all of the FSC Book Club picks on display)... it all lives up to its reputation. Obviously, I ordered another Whole Bowl and even that was as good as I remembered. I spent a good deal of time (and a fair amount of money) in the Athleta store and then we hopped the streetcar back to the NW neighborhood to meet Al.

That neighborhood is golden. It's honestly one of the nicest, most accessible, comfortable neighborhoods I've ever visited. There's a bustling main corridor, but it's not just filled with bars and pubs, it has fantastic restaurants and charming shops and schools and libraries and gardens. Although speaking of pubs, Alex lives above a brewery. Above a brewery. So naturally we stopped down there for a beer before heading to dinner a few blocks away at 23 Hoyt, where "New York chic meets Northwest cool." Perfect, no? The food was outstanding. Up there you see some fancy drinks, roasted asparagus with a fried egg plus a divine salad, a burger and some risotto. Outdoor seating for us to watch the passersby.

On Friday morning, Chris and I took a 6.5 mile run through Portland, crossing two bridges and running along the Willamette most of the way. It was another run for the books. Because Portland does this to me, I bought another running skirt with the hope that I'd actually have the guts to wear it in public. Yes, the only other running skirt I've ever purchased was also in Porland. That one is a little too floofy for my taste though, and this one from Athleta seemed more reasonable. I wore it on this run and it was awesome. Ya know what? I'm actually going to write a separate post on the running skirt. Weird topic, but necessary.

Given my recent flower "thing", I convinced Chris to take me to the International Rose Garden. It was a longer walk to get there than I expected, but the roses were insane. Everywhere! Thousands! Ah! We wandered around, but in no time I was sweaty and hungry so we made the walk back for an at-home happy hour with baguette, cheese and Alexander Valley wine. It wasn't until writing that sentence that I realized how hip it was for us to bring Alex wine from Alexander Valley Winery. Brilliant.

For dinner, Al brought us and a few of his friends to an out-of-control delicious vegan restaurant on the East side. And he's not vegan, or even vegetarian! I cannott overstate how wonderful the food was at Blossoming Lotus. We ordered a round of drinks and an appetizer to share- fried artichokes with aioli, I think- and had a total blast hearing about life as a doc in Portland and telling them about our trip. It's awesome meeting friends of good friends, because you just know you will love them. For dinner, I ordered the BBQ bowl, which came with soy curls and red onions tossed in a whiskey ginger bbq sauce, mac and cheese, steamed kale, and spicy cornbread with dijon garlic butter. All vegan, all delicious. Chris ordered the seared seitan steak with roasted potatoes, sautéed mushrooms in a red wine reduction sauce, cherry tomatoes, and market veggies. Al ordered a raw veggie lasagna and I think there was a raw green curry dish on the table too. Portland restaurants know what's up.

There's never enough time in Portland, especially with Alex in Portland. That town is just amazing. One night we were in the living room and looked out across the street at the local running store. (I know. Right across the street.) There was a lot of commotion and heaps of runners gathering. Upon investigation we discovered that there was a monthly "urban adventure run"! Peeps just run around Portland, looking for clues and then they can win prizes and drink a beer together afterwards. And it was just one of a gazillion awesome things going on that night, I'm sure of it. There's also something called a BrewCycle that we saw rolling around often, making stops at the brewery downstairs from Al. Basically, it's a 15-passenger bike that you can reserve for pub crawls. The laughter coming from it each time it passed was absolutely contagious. It's on my to-do list for the next time we visit.

And that was the trip! Alex drove us to the airport on a Saturday morning and we were home in New York late that night. With a trip like this, there are so many pieces that could go wrong. It's not a very optimistic view, but it's true. It's riskier than spending a week at a resort- which I would still be into, thank you very much- but we packaged so much into the time we had and made the most of our time away, without nary a glitch. It was epic, no doubt, and a perfect adventure for our first summer as married folk.

In case you missed it:
postcard no. 1, san francisco
postcard no. 2, big sur
postcard no. 3, our yurt
postcard, on. 4, the redwoods