a blustery Michigan weekend

Brett and I now have a tradition where we go to Union Pier, Michigan in the dead of winter 🙂  You can see photos from our first trip here and a post about our second trip here.  This time around we were pros…we even had a packing list 🙂  We usually eat a cozy meal in one night and go out to dinner another night.  We like to spice it up a little though and try something different each time.  Last year we went to the casino and spent most of that time in the kid’s arcade area 🙂  This time we enjoyed a trip to a really cool distillery in the area.  Here is more about our weekend…

Brett and I really like this small, 2 room cottage that we have rented for the past 3 years.  It has everything that we need for a cozy and relaxing, Michigan weekend



Usually we unpack the car, make a quick run to the local grocery store, and get back to our 2 room cottage to rearrange the necessary furniture to set up a Brett worth media area 🙂


the pups run around and start getting comfortable in their new, weekend space


and we start using the small kitchen 🙂


finally some relaxation begins!


For breakfast this year we used a new pancake mix that we bought over the holiday break with our families.  They were sooo good!  I think I’ll have to go ahead and figure out how to make sweet potato pancakes from scratch now 🙂





One of my favorite parts of the weekend are our walks in the snow 🙂  Champaign has had a lot of snow this year too but there is something really delightful about walking through the small community in MI in the snow!



Since the weather has been so dreadfully cold, the waves on Lake Michigan were frozen for at least 100 feet off of the beach!  We spent some time each day exploring the frozen water until someone started shivering and we needed to go back to warm up 🙂







Once back to the cottage, Brett made sure that everyone was roasty-toasty warm!  🙂


Lunch was usually fun snack/healthy items.


While in Michigan, we try and buy at least part of our groceries locally



We usually eat one dinner in, another dinner out, and then decide on that third dinner when the time comes




That tiny kitchen has most of what we need for cooking for the weekend.  There isn’t an oven though, and this year I decided to experiment with cinnamon rolls in a skillet (more to come on that soon…eep!  Teasers!)


This year our new activity was to visit a local distillery.  The Journeyman Distillery was really fun, the atmosphere was great, the tour was awesome, and we got to taste all of the yummy liquors that they distill 🙂















Back to the cottage for more snuggles







and more snow walks!




we even found a lost pair of boots in the snow!


Brett and I like playing board games too during our relaxing weekend.  This year we played Agricola 🙂  This is my favorite board game at the moment…it takes a bit of time to set up until you have memorized all of the rules but Brett and I figured it out and played a few games over the weekend.  Such fun!



…and you just can’t have a cozy, snow filled Michigan weekend without a few cozy fires 🙂


On the drive back we experienced really cold temperatures (the car thermometer later showed -1 but I don’t have proof of that haha), lots of wind…


…and evidence of the winter storm that has been occurring over the past weeks


We all made it home safe and sound though.  I absolutely love this tradition of ours…I hope we make it up north next year too!


Illini games :)

My dad has season basketball tickets for the Fighting Illini Men’s basketball team this year.  He and my little brother, Lucas, have been making their way up north for the games whenever they can 🙂  Sometimes Brett and I go to the games if my dad can’t make it….but my dad is a pretty loyal Illini fan 🙂






starting a small business

So far, I have found starting a small business to be a series of puzzles…basically things that I need to sort out one by one until everything can fall together into place.  Most of the puzzles I have found to be a lot of fun.  I’ve learned some of the techniques described by The Lean Startup and have successfully put together a business model canvas.  I’ve had help from Brett designing a website that will meet the needs of each anticipated customer segment.  I’ve had a LOT of fun figuring out what my site needs to feel like, look like, and offer…and how I can go about trying to make a living from the site.

The puzzle that I have been putting off for a week now (finally got it done, woot!) has been some of the paperwork involved in forming a small business.  🙂  For some reason, figuring out how to register a “doing business as” name, getting whatever license/certification I need to buy things at wholesale, and how to officially register my business seemed unnecessarily complicated and scary!  Let me tell you though, the million sites that I needed to wade through in order to figure out those pieces of info were not always helpful in dissuading my fears and anxieties about the whole process!  haha 🙂  There didn’t seem to be a one-stop place where I could figure everything out….lots and lots of following every link on a page was happening.  I think I had over 100 tabs open at one point 🙂

So far, I have figured out exactly what tax forms are necessary and required and how they each work (though…maybe it will finally be time to hire a tax person next year? haha)  I have sorted through how to estimate a small business’s estimated quarterly taxes, what those taxes go towards, and what the different between income tax and self employment tax is.  I have discovered what an employer identification number is and who needs one and what retail licenses exist within the state of Illinois.


I’ve figured out the somewhat ridiculous process of registering an assumed name for a business in Champaign County (including filing the forms, publishing the info for 3 weeks in a local paper, and then filing the forms given from the paper), how to register myself as an official Illinois business under this assumed name, and how to buy things at wholesale to then resell them so that sales tax doesn’t get collected twice.  Every site I found, whether it was from the IRS, the US Small Business Administration, or another random site, had slightly different information with slightly different wording.  It took quite a bit of dilligence and bookmarking of webpages to figure it all out.  I saved forms, took notes which then were starred, arrowed, and underlined as more information became clear and relevant.  I made some calls to make sure I understood the next couple of steps that I needed to take and planned out a day of literally driving around town taking care of some of the local forms and paperwork.  Whew!  🙂


I am very excited that this next major step of registering as an official business owner in the state of Illinois under an assumed name has been almost taken care of!  My notice is currently being published in the Champaign News Gazette for three weeks.  The paper will then issue me Proof of Publication that I take back to the County Clerks office.  Then I officially register with the state and voila!  🙂

Are you sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation yet?!  😉  I will let you in on the rest of the details within the next month if all goes well!

a weekend of home improvements

Lucas and my dad came up to Champaign a little after new years for a weekend of home improvements.  We converted a number of 2-pronged outlets to 3-pronged grounded ones, schemed on how best to fix the dark downstairs bathroom, installed a new shower head downstairs, sealed an opening to the attic that was causing our heat to escape, and discovered that if we shut the door to the downstairs both levels of the house stay a more comfortable temperature 🙂  Gotta love home ownership!blog_aroundthehouse_1


Inca and I spent a bit of the outlet converting time just keeping my dad and Brett company 🙂


The pups all had a pretty good time too.  Caya worked hard the whole weekend!


Inca and Patches (they are litter mates!) played almost the whole time!




And all of the dogs spent a lot of time going inside and outside, inside and outside, inside and outside…. 🙂  This is three of them all waiting to go outside

blog_aroundthehouse_5All in all a pretty productive couple of days 🙂