Around Here – Early Spring Edition

This is what early spring in the Casperson-Jones house was like…we will update very soon about our lovely trips with family and Brett’s defense 🙂

Life has been super super super busy in the Casperson-Jones house!  🙂  We’ve celebrated Brett’s birthday, his sister Kristin and his Mom’s birthday, Easter with both of our families, my dad’s birthday, a successful half-marathon run, some good food, fun with the pups, and so much more 🙂  Here is a little bit of what our past couple of months have looked like in pictures!

Brett’s Birthday:  I woke up early and before Brett was awake, made homemade, triple berry buttermilk pancakes.  They were sooo good!  That night I surprised him with a homemade(ish) brownie ice cream cake…with plenty of candles 🙂

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Running pups:  The girls have continued to enjoy running with us.  We take them for a few miles and then leave them at home 🙂

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Food!:  I learned to make a fun and really yummy asian dish from a friend!

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Lacuna Loft:  I took Lacuna Loft to the Working Women’s Expo and had a great time!  The company continues to be great fun to run and I’m enjoying the ride.

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Easter:  Easter was a great time, as usual 🙂  We dyed eggs with Brett’s family, celebrated some birthdays, and then helped cook Easter dinner at my dad’s  🙂  We also got to see my dad’s new house for the first time!

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More life:  more food, more work, more pups, more fun…and a concert!  Man, do we love music 🙂

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The Champaign Half Marathon!:  nothing more to say 🙂  Dad, and Cathy came to cheer us on.  Brett ran with me and we both added a bit of time but it was 🙂  We won’t be able to run the Chicago Marathon this year…I am in a wedding the day before.  I’ll have to find another fun race to start training for!

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(and obviously we had ice cream afterwards)  🙂


with warmer weather…out comes the hammock!!!

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For my dad’s birthday, we put together a small, 5 pot herb garden for him…and for ourselves!  We planted basil, chocolate mint (that is a REAL thing!), rosemary, cilantro, and lemon balm.  Along with a random succulent.  All plants are doing well 🙂

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We had fun celebrating Raj’s birthday and surprising him 🙂


we’re still loving Champaign…and the random things that happen here like robots on the street.


The pups continue liking my work schedule…though I do enjoy working from around town too

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For my dad’s birthday we surprised him at a restaurant!  Lucas, Brett, my dad, and I all went to the Air Show in St. Louis for the day and then freshened up at home and headed to dinner.  While I didn’t have a good reason for why we *had* to rush home and head to this particular restaurant at this particular time…my dad was still surprised and we had a great time 🙂

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That weekend we also spent a bit of time in Freeburg and some time hiking around in the woods behind my dad’s new house  🙂

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So far this spring I have made homemade chocolate mint ice cream and a strawberry pie.  (My first pie!!!)

aroundhere2_70 aroundhere2_71 aroundhere2_72 aroundhere2_74 The newest update is that I donated my hair to locks of love last week 🙂

aroundhere2_73 aroundhere2_75And that’s all!  Sorry for the long update since I haven’t posted in a while.  I’d like to get better about that…but, if I’m not writing enough here and you’re still wanting to read a great blog everyday, head over to Lacuna Loft or Projection Mapping Central 🙂

Boston weekend!

Brett, Raj, and I met a group of friends from early in graduate school (right as I was coming into the picture hehe) this past weekend in Boston.  The three of us drove the 1000 mile journey from Champaign to Boston.  The boys quickly forgot why they agreed to participate in the 16 hour (each way) drive about 5 hours in… 🙂  I will add, however, that I brought plenty of entertainment with us including hours of podcasts, music, and audio books!  I guess I hadn’t really anticipated the deadened looking, winter scenery though 🙂


We saw some interesting sites along the way…including snow (even though it was 60 degrees F when we left Chambana!) and a trailer of full-sized glass (maybe?) horses.

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Needless to say that some caffeine was in order a few times along the way.  On the way there we split up the drive with a night spent in a hotel in Liverpool, NY but on the way back home we drove straight through.

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Once we got there, the three of us found Fred’s house in Somerville and headed into Boston to meet the others!  The T (the subway in Boston) had these really cool bronzed gloves on display everywhere.

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Our first stop with the group was the Sam Adams brewery.  Brett and I didn’t actually like the brewery tour very much despite very much liking the beer!

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Later that night we all had dinner at a fun oyster bar.  The restaurant was decorated in reclaimed wood and had an entire wall covered in caged oyster shells!


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The next day we hit another brewery, the Harpoon Brewery.  While waiting for our tour, we all enjoyed some really great pretzles, beer, and of course some riveting games of Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock.  🙂

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The Harpoon Brewery tour was really interesting and our tour guides were fantastic 🙂

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Later that afternoon we walked a large portion of the Freedom Trail.  We enjoyed such sites as the Green Dragon Tavern and the Skinny House 🙂

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Then came the drive home.  With about 6 hours to go, the boys decided we would drive until we reached home at 4 am.  I will fully admit to falling asleep in the back seat 🙂

Boston_28 Boston_29All in all a really fun weekend filled with really fun people 🙂  We tried to talk Fredrik into driving back to Champaign with us…I think we almost had him!  😉

we might see some changes around here


For the past year (almost…wow!) this site has had new content 4 times a week, typically Monday – Thursday.  My new endeavor is going to start taking a lot of the time that MalloryandBrett used to take up because of the way my new(ish?) schedule works.  I have been working 12 hour days so that I can have some time in the morning for NASA work and my new project along with the 4 hours that I coach swimming each night.  This doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging for fun.  Having said that, I love writing for this blog.  It has been such fun for me to develop my voice as a blogger through this medium.  I’ve learned how to create new content, 4 times a week and to bring it all to you with a voice that is authentically me and at the same time, visually interesting.  There will still be posts and updates made here…just probably on a 3 day/week basis instead of the 4 days that you all have become used to. (you would be surprised how much time that will free up each week haha!)

Our rss feed feature is still not fixed yet.  I have been working on setting up a new medium to do that.  Brett has been spending his malloryandbrett time on my new project’s website 🙂  (isn’t he such an awesome husband!).  As soon as I launch though, you can rest assured that malloryandbrett will have a new and awesome newsletter feature 🙂

Brett and I thank you for your patience and for your readership 🙂  We have really liked the way this site has transformed from our wedding website into a way to update our family and friends about the happenings in our day to day lives.  I have found it so enjoyable to use this site to celebrate every day happenings…there is so much beauty in the everyday 🙂

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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!


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!