Marriage

4 Years of Marriage & A Trip to Chicago

Urban, hip, trendy, cool. These all describe the lifestyle of Chicago. And I am decidedly…not. Haha.

Philip and I recently celebrated our four year (four years?!) anniversary on August 10th and, to celebrate, made the short trip down to Chicago for a mini two-day getaway. We attempted to fit in with the “hip” 20’s- and 30’s-somethings young professionals—and I’d like to say we succeeded—with a $15 drink in hand and all. ;) It’s always fun to pretend sometimes, right? But safe to say, downtown Chicago is not going to be a place we call home anytime soon. But to visit? Oh yes, we’ll be back. Today I’m filling you in on the highlights. I would highly recommend all the places we went and stayed at!

Oh, and while we’re on the topic of our anniversary, if you’re interested or like sappy things like wedding stories, you can read here about how we met, or here about our one year anniversary (ironically enough, also included a trip to the Chicago area) and what we learned in that one year of marriage, or here and here about our two year anniversary. Guess I missed our 3 year! ;)

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My Current Thoughts and Ponderings…

I don’t know about you, but I feel like summer is whizzing by. But I also feel like this summer has been living up to all of its potential. You know when you have those summers when you do almost zero of the fun, little things you had planned or wanted to do that makes summer, well, summer? (My hand is up and waving high on that one!)

We all have the “big ticket” items like going on a vacation or two, but why do the small things tend to get so easily pushed aside? Things like going to a farmer’s market, star gazing, or having friends over for a barbecue.

But this summer—the summer of 2017—has been full of the “small ticket” items for Philip and me! Or maybe I’ve just finally accepted that I’m not going to get to every little thing in one summer, but am instead appreciating all the things that we have been able to do. Whatever the reason, I’ve been loving the star gazing (or in the case from Saturday night, watching the distant lightning), the fire pits and s’mores, and the evening walks around the neighborhood.

Of course, there’s so much more than just those things going on in our summer, so I thought I’d bring back another post of my current thoughts and ponderings. :)

Right now I’m…

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Three Weekends of Work Only Leads to More Work: Landscaping Project 2017

I woke up on Saturday morning and mumbled to Philip, “I’m glad we could sleep in this morning.” It was 6:30 a.m.

Even though we were road tripping across Iowa this past weekend, dancing the night away at a friend’s wedding, reminiscing about childhood memories in my hometown (I hadn’t been back since we got married four years ago!), and touring around Okoboji—one of the biggest tourist towns in Iowa—if you can believe it, it was a much more relaxing weekend than we’ve had the previous three weeks.

That’s because for most of the weekends in June, we took on—what seems like—our annual landscaping project. Every summer since we’ve moved into our house, we’ve taken on some level of landscaping project to slowly transform our yard into something we enjoy spending time in. I think we’re almost there!

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Family Time from Colorado to Iowa

Phew! It’s been a whirlwind the past two weeks! Somehow May has come and went, Memorial Day was celebrated, and now we’re already well into June. Hello, Summer!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that Philip and I have been doing some traveling lately. Besides our Grand Canyon trip (which seems like months ago already, unfortunately), we got back on a plane just a few weeks after that to head to Denver, Colorado, for Memorial Day weekend and to see Philip’s siblings. We arrived home from Colorado last Tuesday and by Friday we were already hitting the road again to head to Iowa to spend time with my side of the family. It’s been an awesome way to start off the summer, to say the least!

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My Current Thoughts & Ponderings: Grand Canyon Edition

Philip and I haven’t even been back from our vacation to the Grand Canyon a week yet and I’m already wishing we could go back. Heck, I wanted to go back as soon as we stepped on the plane to come home. Guys, it was seriously that amazing and that much fun!

I didn’t even realize hiking down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon was on my bucket list until Philip mentioned 6-ish months ago that he kind of wanted to go to the Grand Canyon. After looking into it more, I realized if we were going to do the Grand Canyon, we were going to do the Grand Canyon. If there’s an adventure and challenge to be had, you better believe I’m signing up for it.

So, that’s what led us to signing up for a packaged trip through Arizona Outback Adventures and it was the best decision we could have made. If you decide to go on any trip in the Arizona area, I highly recommend using their services. I’m not getting paid to tell you this, we just truly had an awesome experience with them. Our two guides were fun and gave us just the right mix of freedom and guidance we needed. All the planning was pretty much taken care of and even though we were hiking, I swear they had everything and anything we could possibly need – from tape for preventing blisters to nail clippers to ear plugs. This definitely wasn’t their first rodeo!

I could go on and on about our trip, but I thought I’d do another episode of “My Current Thoughts and Ponderings,” all things related to our trip.

During our trip, I was… (continue reading…)

Kitchen Updates: Round Two (We Painted Our Cabinets!)

Man, it sure feels good to be back! Hi, all! It’s been a hot minute since I last dropped in…actually, after looking back, it’s been about a month (!), which I’m not really sure how time flew past that quickly. I didn’t fully intend to leave you hanging for that long, but we’ve been doing lots of fun things (successfully fulfilling my year of fun) and also have been extremely busy (as you may have guessed from the title of this post)!

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With fall here and routines and schedules back in place, I may try to get to posting more regularly around here. Although, it certainly has been feeling a lot like summer this past weekend. I don’t know how to react. I’m sitting outside as I type this in shorts and a t-shirt, however, inside I have a pumpkin spice candle going and a basket of freshly picked apples on the counter…I’m still clinging on to summer, yet am so ready for all things fall at the same time.

Anyway, let me fill you in on our fun summer adventures before getting to what I’m most excited to share…because these kitchen cabinets were a labor of love! Emphasis on the labor part of that sentence. :)  (continue reading…)

Currently…

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Hello, hello!! Don’t worry, I’m still here! Sorry for the crickets you’ve been hearing lately from me over here in my corner of the blogging world. Two words: It’s summer! I have no excuse other than the fact that, well, summer is here, the weather has been gorgeous, and I just want to be outside!

For those of you who live in the Midwest, you know that we have to take the nice days while we can get them! I’m still not to the point where I’m willing to take these nice days for granted.

In all honesty, life has just been busy! For some reason, I always think that with summer should come back laid back evenings sitting out on the porch and free weekends to enjoy downtown Madison or long bike rides with my hubby. While we have been able to do all of those things (for which I’m very grateful), I feel like their occurrences are few and far between and our days definitely haven’t slowed down any! Plus, what’s with all this #adulting that gets in the way of these fun activities? Shouldn’t that just kind of come to a halt during the summer, too? If only that were the case…

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That said, it’s still another gorgeous day today, so I’m only popping in to say hello and to tell you that I will be back! I’m still cooking up some delicious meals (I’ll be sharing some of them soon!), Philip isn’t starving, and I’m not abandoning my loyal readers. Unlike the past two summers, though, (how have I been doing this blog for more than two years already?!) this summer I’m freeing myself of the guilt if I happen to not post in a week — or, gasp, even two weeks. And you know what? I’m absolutely loving it.

Since I work full time during the week (and on Saturdays a couple times a month), Sundays are my “blogging day.” While this usually works, it makes it hard/stressful when we have had a busy weekend or the weather is nice and Philip and I are itching to get out for a long bike ride (we’re doing the Door County Century Ride in September, so we need to really kick it into gear. Eek!) or any other activity that sounds fun on a Sunday afternoon. Basically, I’ve decided I have too many hobbies. What a problem to have, right? So this summer, I’m living up my Word of the YearFun — and taking it outside to join the rest of Madison.

Let me fill you in on what’s currently been filling up our time…The month of May, in particular, seemed to go by especially fast (as I feel is always the case for people). Two weekends ago Philip and I took the opportunity to go on a marriage retreat, which was wonderful. The retreat was in Madison, so for a date night, we headed to State Street and ate at Fresco, a rooftop restaurant and lounge that serves excellent, fresh and contemporary fare. If you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend making a reservation and checking it out! The ambiance is great, the food and drink flavorful, and the views are incredible.

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After our meal, we walked along State Street to the University of Wisconsin’s Memorial Union to enjoy an evening on the Terrace with cups of ice cream from Babcock Ice Cream Shop. Everybody else seemed to have the same idea and the 20 minute wait for the ice cream was totally worth it. This is also a must-try if you find yourself in the Madison area!

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Memorial Day weekend was also a great one — my parents were in town! Our house we moved into a year and a half ago, while it has a spacious backyard, had no trees of any kind in it (it used to be a field like almost every other newer development in our area) and the previous owners never bothered to plant any, so we took it upon ourselves to create some shade and privacy…with my parents’ help. :) Parents are the best aren’t they? A week later, the Autumn Blaze Maple and the two pines we planted are still standing and looking green, so we have our hopes up. ;)

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This is my dad. Isn’t he the cutest?

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Red Rover, Red Rover? We’re capturing what our trees look like now…let’s hope we can see a difference in a couple years from now. :)

Besides the planting, we visited Wollersheim Winery and enjoyed the great weather with my parents, met up with friends, and biked to (and through) the UW Arboretum and enjoyed a simple picnic on our extra day off on Monday. And it was all lovely. I wish every weekend was a three day weekend!

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Whew, and that was just the weekend! The weeks and weekends ahead look just as busy and fun and I absolutely can’t wait. I’ll keep checking in, giving you updates on my #yearoffun, and sharing some of our favorite summer recipes! Thanks for reading (I truly appreciate it, whether you loyally read every post or are just stopping by for the first time). What are your summer plans and adventures ahead? I’d love to hear!

The Start of a New Year + Trunk Club Review

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Can you believe we’re already a few days into the new year?! 2016 — how did that happen?! So far, my new year is off to a fun start. I’ve unofficially declared fun as my word of the year. I think after spending so much time working on our new house for the first half of last year and being injured for the other half, I’m ready to get outside, be adventurous, and just enjoy myself this year…well, as much as I can without completely ignoring the fact that I have a full-time job and am trying to be a responsible adult.

With only four days in, I’d have to say 2016 is looking up! Philip and I had a quiet New Year’s Day that I absolutely loved. It included a little productivity with plenty of relaxation. I was able to join the rest of them at the gym and go for a swim in the morning, clean the house after all the Christmas decorations had come down (while sad to see them go, it’s nice to have all the pine needles gone and things back in order), get groceries, and do laundry all with plenty of daylight left to relax and enjoy the day. That doesn’t happen very often ever and I can’t tell you how happy it made me feel to start the New Year that way.

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With chores checked off our list, Philip and I tested out our new snowshoes on snow covered trails right outside our house and cozied up on the couch to sip on tea and read with the afternoon sun streaming in through the windows. It’s the simple pleasures in the life, right? And yes, this is what I call fun:)

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All of our resting up on Friday prepared us for a fun early-birthday trip to Chicago for Philip on Saturday! I loved taking it all in — the hustle and bustle of people walking up and down the streets with shopping bags in hand, the lights, restaurants, and store fronts.

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The Value of Family Meals: It’s More than Just Nutrition

Family Meals It's More Than Just Nutrition

Happy Labor Day, everyone! I hope you’ve been able to relax, stay cool, and enjoy this long weekend! I’m doing my best to stay inside due to the fact that every time I step outside, it makes me feel like an extra 10 pounds is weighing on me. The Midwest is great, but its humidity is not my friend. At least this weather is making me that much more eager for the leaves to start changing and for sweatshirts to begin making an appearance.

The unpredictable Midwest weather aside, my long weekend has been full of family, friends, and relaxation. Just what I needed! Philip and I headed down to Peoria, Illinois, to see family and friends. We snuck away for a little bit to relive when we first met three years ago. A little bit of me feels like three years isn’t that long at all, while another part of me is screaming, how has it been THREE years?!? I just met this man that happens to also be my husband. :)

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Three years ago, Philip made the trip down from Madison to Peoria to meet me on Labor Day for a picnic (picnic basket and all) on Grandview Drive, a beautiful and scenic drive overlooking the Illinois River. Our picnic turned into us talking for about 6 hours until we realized the sun was starting to set and we had better call it a day. Little did we know that that was only the beginning… :)

We made a trip back to Grandview Drive this past Saturday to enjoy another picnic together. While the picnic didn’t last 6 hours like the last one (re: it was really hot out), it was still just as special and fun to try to remember what exactly we talked about during our first picnic together.

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Back in Madison, I’m soaking in the last hours of my long weekend, as I’m sure most of you are. With school just having started this past week, I’m guessing parents are taking a deep breath this weekend before the real craziness of fall activities begin. Recently, I wrote an article for a local paper and thought it’d be worth sharing part of it on my blog for all the families (big or small) who are already wondering how they’re going to get everything done this school year…including family meals. Enjoy!

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Anniversary Week Recap + Asian Mango Chicken Slaw with Lime Vinaigrette

Asian Mango Chicken Slaw

I’m baaa-aaack! From an awesome vacation that is. Philip and I turned our second anniversary into an anniversary week celebration. I’ve never been one to celebrate my birthday week, but I am definitely loving this tradition we’re forming of celebrating our anniversary for a week. I’m going to run with this tradition as long as I can!

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While our actual anniversary day was pretty low-key (although still made very special: We admired the sunset over Lake Mendota in Madison on a blanket while listening to our wedding ceremony — another tradition that always makes us smile), the rest of the week just kept getting better and better.

On Wednesday of our anniversary week, we toured one of the oldest and finest wineries in Wisconsin — Wollersheim Winery. It’s located on a beautiful hillside outside Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, dating back to 1840.

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The tour satisfied our interest in all things history and we even saw a glimpse of the owner and winemaker, Philippe Coquard, who does a fantastic job keeping up a well maintained winery…and not to mention, developing excellent wine! My new realization of the art and science behind wine-making made me appreciate our wine that much more. :)

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After the tour, we took advantage of the beautiful day and sipped on wine overlooking the winery. Talk about relaxing!

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The following day, we sought out more relaxation time (and beautiful weather) to finish out our anniversary week by flying to Coronado, the island off of San Diego and home to the Hotel Del Coronado (a beautiful Victorian resort built in 1887 — one of the oldest wooden structures in the U.S.) and the Naval Base Coronado. Talk about beautiful! Sunny and mid-70’s temperature the whole time we were there. I could’ve gotten used to that. *sigh*

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Coronado is a city full of activity with runners, bikers, and surfers around you all day long. We were fortunate enough to stay right next to the ocean with a gorgeous view of the San Diego Bay from our windows…again, I could have gotten used to that. :)

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Fun shops and delicious restaurants with fresh caught seafood were within walking distance…it made enjoying good food way too easy. :)

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Our days were pretty consistent: Pool-side lounging in the morning and beach front relaxation with magazines and books in hand in the afternoon. While most of our time was spent lounging, we did do some active kayaking in the bay, and surprisingly my favorite thing of the trip  — riding the ocean waves on boogie boards. I seriously couldn’t get enough!
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Alas, we had to leave the boogie boards and the sand in California and head back to Wisconsin…where we were greeted with rain. Go figure. All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better vacation or anniversary week!

Somehow between the short time we left Wisconsin and came back, fall decided to try to slip in. The mornings are chillier and there’s the sense that fall is right around the corner in the air. But I’m holding onto fresh, summer food as long as I can…especially California-style! California was a whole ‘nother world for this Midwestern girl! Hip and cool goes for the clothing style as well as the food.

To take me back to the brightness and freshness of California, I whipped up chopped up this Asian Mango Chicken Slaw with Lime Vinaigrette. I had to share this fresh masterpiece before fall officially arrives and our minds turn to all things apples, stews, and pumpkin.

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