Travel

Cottage Week 2014

I once again must ask your forgiveness for my absence. Life has been busy! We have finally relocated to the Windy City, and I couldn’t be happier. I have been waiting do to an update until I got my new computer (after 8 years), so here we are, finally! But alas, you will have to wait just a bit longer for the Chicago adventure update.

I am spending my annual week at my cottage and have finally gotten around to doing something that has been 16 years on the “to-do” list. I just purchased a gravestone for my mother’s plot up here. She is “buried” (and I mean her ashes) at a plot in the Presque Isle Township Cemetery, but she has never had a gravestone. Each year I go to visit, I sit by a tree that is near to her plot (not remembering which location exactly is hers). Last year I discovered that her tree had been removed. As if I hadn’t felt ridiculous enough talking to a tree, now I get to just sit there and talk to grass; a generalized guess of where I think is the right spot.

Today, I finally walked into the local memorial store (I wanted to call it something fun like the Engraved Granite Boutique) and picked out a stone for her. It was a little daunting trying to pick something like that out, but I went with simple, basic info, and paid the nice man. In 30 days, Mom will finally have a stone and I (and my brother) will have a place to visit.

It is strange, but it feels like another piece of the puzzle to becoming “me” and taking charge of my life. Sort of “if you want something done, you have to do it yourself”. It just all fits back into my theory of it being your life and you can’t be afraid to take the reins and make things happen.

It is a little victory, but big or small, they all count.

If I am not back before, have a happy 4th of July! Sending you all love and well wishes of independence!

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Some nights you just need a glass (bottle) of wine

As the snow has weighed down most of the nation, I feel like the stress of work has weighed me down.  Our generous vacation of nearly 3 weeks was wonderful to recharge and reset for the New Year, but 3 days in and I am starting to feel it already!

I love my job.  I love that I am working on 100 different projects at one time, 4 or 5 “departments” that need me at once, new ideas coming to the surface, not to mention day-to-day tasks and the unknown always popping up in my inbox and flying across my desk. But sometimes at the end of the day, you just need a glass of wine to recharge for the next day.

It has been a fabulous 2014 thus far, and I am excited to say that it will be an amazing year.  I was accepted to grad school and will be moving to Chicago to pursue my Masters this summer!

2014 is going to be the year to cross things off of my bucket list. I already have 3 ready to go. 1. Move out of Michigan 2. Move to a large city (my favorite none the less) 3. Pursue my Masters.

I love the New Year.  I love the thought of a fresh start and a clean slate.  Any day can be a clean slate, but for me, nothing gives hope like starting off the year on the right foot.

What are you all hoping to do or accomplish in the New Year?

Here are a few pics from my holiday and 2014 adventures thus far!

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A shot after the ice storm in downtown East Lansing

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Our New Year was spent celebrating the birthday of the 2 goldens in the back. It was such a great time with some of my dearest friends. (Look at the handsome ones in the middle)

We headed to Chicago for a work event and walked past our future apartment (we hope), and this could be my front door!!

We headed to Chicago for a work event and walked past our future apartment (we hope), and this could be my front door!!

My future Starbucks. How cute is that?

My future Starbucks. How cute is that?

We headed up to Winnetka/Glencoe to visit a great friend of ours. CUTEST villages I have ever seen.

We headed up to Winnetka/Glencoe to visit a great friend of ours. CUTEST villages I have ever seen.

Winnetka

Winnetka

My handsome snow bear right after our massive snow storm.

My handsome snow bear right after our massive snow storm.

Happy New Year to all!

Adventures at Art Prize

Paul and I had the pleasure of heading to the west side of Michigan yesterday for a friend’s birthday party, allowing us to sneak into Grand Rapids on the way home to check out Art Prize.

I have referenced my love for Grand Rapids in previous posts, but I love the city more and more with each visit, and this time was no exception.

Art Prize is an art contest in which artists from around the world create, install, build, etc. art throughout the entire city; in restaurants, businesses, hotels, on the street, in the river, and the public vote on the winner.

This was my first Art Prize experience, and it did not disappoint. Image

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bridge color

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This guy, who was in Founder Brewing Co., was a little bit scary. Very cool at the same time because it was made entirely of natural materials like moss, sticks, etc. (except for the light up eyes).

My angle could have been better on this photo, but he is actually fishing...

My angle could have been better on this photo, but he is actually fishing…

There was an amazing Buddah fixture that looked to be made of hanging tiles

There was an amazing Buddah fixture that looked to be made of hanging tiles

buddah close

Buffalo sculpted out of wood

Buffalo sculpted out of wood

My favorite of the day

My favorite of the day

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There was also a baby panda :)

There was also a baby panda 🙂

The pandas were made out of bike tires

The pandas were made out of bike tires

I am not even sure what this was made out of. Some sort of media art, but it was beautiful.

I am not even sure what this was made out of. Some sort of media art, but it was beautiful.

The art was amazing, but it was invigorating to see the city so alive with energy.  There were people every where! Grand Rapids always has a great vibe, but adding in street vendors and performers gave it a whole new atmosphere.

Juggler

Juggler

juggler bw

street player

And then there is the architecture in Grand Rapids.  There are streets that, to me, feel like Chicago collided with Europe.  It really is a beautiful downtown.

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lantern and molding

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fire escape

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black and white building

Beautiful Grand Rapids

Beautiful Grand Rapids

A Few of My Recent Adventures

Some times you are just too busy living life to document it.  A double edged sword for someone like me, but here is a quick recap of what I have been up to:

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Some beer garden action in Ann Arbor for a dear friend/aunt’s birthday. What an amazing night. The weather was beautiful, the food was amazing, and the company was second to none.

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Date night with Paul for Lansing Restaurant Week… the day after restaurant week ended…

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This is his best pose…

We were all excited to go to the Wrought Iron Grill in Owosso for restaurant week, only to realize that restaurant week had ended the night before.  AMAZING food was still consumed, and I would highly recommend this charming spot if you are ever in Owosso, MI.  Although, I am not sure why most people would be.

This dinner alone should have its own post, because it really was like a  bad (or good) Seinfeld episode.  

Let me just start with, our waiter was super cool, after we broke him in, and the food was really really delicious, but the service was terrible!  We opted to sit outside on the patio, but regretted that decision because our waiter was a little too lax.  We didn’t even get greeted or get water for 15 minutes (first world problems, I realize, but this is all going to show a point).  

Our waiter offered us “coke products”, to drink and we had to snag a beer list from him (that never happens… turns out he didn’t think we were 21… thank you?). When Paul asked what was on tap, the waiter said, “it’s all crafty stuff” as if we would not recognize anything they had.  If you know anything about Paul, you probably know that he is obsessed with craft beer.  It is his hobby, his passion.  We asked for the beer list, and got it 10 minutes later.  The first world problems continued when we ordered our beers (a snifter, not a pint, the waiter asked) and it was given to us in bottles…. typing this all sounds so ridiculous, but again, I am just making a point.  Beer like the one we were drinking tastes different in a snifter (all 12% of it), and really needs to breath.  But, 10 minutes later we got our snifters.  This was all happening, mind you, while the waiter was fawning all over his buddies at the next table.

Me, being the nice person I am and not wanting to offend the waiter, told Paul that we should move inside.  We had already been there about 35 minutes and hadn’t even ordered yet (not due to us not knowing what we wanted, I assure you).

When the waiter came back, who really was a very nice guy, I told him that we wanted to move inside because I was getting cold.   He said, “oh, no problem, I can just turn on one of these heaters”, pointing to the massive propane heaters they have on the patio.  I looked to Paul for support, and he just laughed at me and kept on drinking his beer, (he loves to see me in awkward situations).  So the waiter drags this massive heater over to our table, and it won’t start.  The tank is empty.  All I could think was, “God is going to make that thing blow up to punish me”.  With no luck, the waiter picks up ANOTHER heater and drags it over to our table, which still wont light.   This goes on for a good, awkward, 5 minutes or so.  I finally just told him not to worry about it, feel free to spit in my food and thank you so so much.  (Yeah, I totally looked like that high maintenance bitch).

This finally cracked the guy and he decided he liked us.  It was almost like we had to prove ourselves as cool for him to want to serve us.  After that he was great.

And then, toward dessert, Paul decides to have a serious talk… about our aging dog.

I am not a crier, but he just said the words, “so, while things are good and he is healthy, I think we should talk about what the plan should be for when Max dies.”

I immediately bust out into sobs, tears running down my face, and I can’t even form sentences.  The poor waiter came back, who we had just gotten to like us, and looked at us like Paul had hit me or something.  It was a smart move on Paul’s part, really, because I told him what medications to feed me and what to do with Max once that does happen, because I will be incapable of taking control of the situation.

I continued to cry the whole way home… the ENTIRE 40 MINUTE DRIVE…poor Paul looked like he had just set off a bomb on a school bus full of kids or something.  My crying only stopped once we got home and I got to snuggle my puppy (my aging, 10 year-old puppy, who is in perfect health, btw).

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Puppy and me the next day, living the life 🙂

Ok, so that was that adventure…. moving on…

The next day, Paul and I headed to the Tiger’s game with my BFF, Liz, and her husband.  I am not going to lie, I don’t remember much after the ball park margaritas started flowing, but I do know that it was a very fun time, and my sweet sweet man bought me everything that was requested from my drunk mouth (a soft pretzel, nachos…) I mean, why else go to a ball park?

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This weekend, I have a half marathon coming up, a family function (pseudo family, but I have adopted them), and more adventures to follow.

I always aim for my summers to be full of adventures, but this one really has been.  I have spent time with so many great friends, made new friends, and done a lot of cool stuff.  And August is only going to be busier!

I hope everyone is well 🙂 Happy last day of July!

My Adventures in Normal, IL, and Unexpected Inspiration

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Notice the, “You’re Beautiful”, note on the building 🙂ImageImage

I had the pleasure of traveling to Normal, IL, this past week for work, and I must say, it was quite a pleasant surprise. 

If you know anything about the mid-west, a.k.a. the Bible Belt, you probably know that there are some spots in our fine cluster of states that aren’t so exciting. I expected Normal to be one of those spots.  It was actually like a mini-East Lansing, with it being a college town, home to the beautiful Illinois State University,and a small downtown with a friendly, artsy feel.

I took my phone with me on my morning run and snapped some photos of ISU’s amazing campus!

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I could study here…

 

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These banners were all over campus, and I just thought it was a great message.

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Basketball stadium

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One of their buildings is a castle… that’s all I’m saying

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I was sure to get some strength training in after my 3 mile run/tour of Normal. The Marriott in Normal is an immaculate facility, btw.

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Most of the writing on the bathroom wall was like this.. I would say 99% positive. Who doesn’t want to pee in an environment like that?!

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Seriously, between this, the beautiful message, and the sweet message on the bathroom wall, I am convinced that Normal has the nicest graffiti in the world!

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Once you use the term “this one goes to 11” you are automatically one of my top ten favorite people

I was in town for a social media conference, with the key note speaker being Thomas Ian Nicholas.  You might know him as the kid from “Rookie of the Year”, or that guy from the “American Pie” movies.  

I wasn’t exactly sure why he was there, but went to the concert his band played the night before he presented (AWESOME MUSIC, more on this later), and learned that he funded his whole European tour through social media.

As soon as he hit the stage the morning after the concert, you just knew he was a cool guy.  He stated, early on in his presentation, that he was going to tell us how he took his social media skills to 11.  Immediate. Stamp. of. Approval. and. Lifelong. Support.  (if you don’t get the reference, you need to Youtube, “this one goes to 11” and click on the first result.

You’re welcome.

But not only was he smart, funny, down to earth, and entertaining, he is completely passionate about what he does.  

His band doesn’t have a record label, and is completely funded by him.  Nothing is more refreshing than seeing someone live out their dream and making it work without compromising themselves.  It was such a breath of fresh air.

Upon getting home, I dug even deeper into his music and I love it! (Thomas Nicholas Band… I highly recommend).  It was just a good reminder that you can live a life that is fueled by creativity and passion.  It was actually more like a swift kick in the ass.  Instantly someone to follow. 

It was all in all an amazing two days, but it was good to be home…. except Max insists on guarding my car for a good 45 minutes whenever I arrive home from a trip as if he is going to keep me from ever leaving again.  You’ve gotta love his devotion 🙂Image