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!  😉

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!


Girly Wednesday ~ xxxviii~ a Paris nightclub flashback

Musing on relationships is something I very much enjoy.  Meeting up with old friends is always such an interesting experience.  Regardless of the time that has passed in between, I have found that these encounters either illuminate exactly how similar the two of you still are… or exactly how completely opposite you have become.  I rarely find anything in between….we are either in exactly the same spot in life (relatively speaking obviously) or we could not be in more different situations 🙂  Thinking about all of this the other day made me think back to our Paris trip.  (more posts from our Paris trip herehereherehereherehereherehere, and here)  🙂  While in Paris, Brett and I met up with friends of mine during our week long stay.  We reconnected with two of my friends a few times over the week and had such a lovely time with them.  They invited us to their home in the suburbs of Paris and I couldn’t have been happier with our time spent together (except that I didn’t get a picture of all 4 of us together!  I want to get better at that!)  Brett and I also met up with a group of my friends at a Paris night club.  A picture of the two of us with a favorite couple of mine is below.  I was able to reconnect with a few people that night…though many more old friends were present.  With a few of them, after 7 years of not seeing one another, we picked up right where we left off.  It was so nice to see them and for them to meet Brett.  Just makes me want to up and move across the ocean where I get to speak French all day long 🙂


snapshots of holiday craziness – Thanksgiving edition

Brett and I had a great Thanksgiving trip to St. Louis and Southern Illinois.  These trips always involve going back and forth between our two families and much strategy over figuring out where is best to put the pups each day but we always have a great time with our families.

This year we brought two friends home with us.  Raj, Brett’s trusty partner in crime, and Yonatan joined us for the house-to-house Thanksgiving celebrations/eating 🙂  I didn’t take pictures everywhere we went for some reason but I captured a few moments from the days with family 🙂

…like the group of us standing around, waiting to eat….



…the traditional Turkey Pineapple….  🙂


…and of course, the boys talking about something tech-y…


It was good to spend time with my dad and Lucas 🙂  (even if Lucas’s hair is longer than mine…still!)  hahaha!


We spent part of the day after Thanksgiving with my dad, Lucas, and all of the pups.  I could never get these three to all look at me at the same time!



Then we moved ourselves to Patti’s southern illinois home.  I guess I must have been tired by the end of the trip because I didn’t take many photos with Brett’s family this time around.  (If you want to see the pictures from our fun Chicago weekend together, click here!)  Nonetheless, I have quite a sweet spot for Christmas decorations and Brett’s mom, Patti, gave us this sweet light up snowman!


We arrived back home on Saturday night and spent a chunk of the next day filling up as many as these bags as possible


There is still a piece of the yard that has leaves but we are bagless until we make the next grocery store run…oohhh welllll  🙂

That was our holiday in snapshots…sometimes a cohesive story just isn’t necessary right?  🙂

Happy end of Fall to everyone and start of Winter!  Brett and I hope that you all celebrated Thanksgiving with those whom you love!

Jones-McDonald Chicago weekend

Brett’s sister, Kristin, and her fiance were recently back in Chicago for a weekend visit.  The 5 of us had a great time relaxing around Brett’s childhood home and running around downtown Chicago 🙂

We started out Friday evening with a wonderful Raclette dinner.  A raclette consists of a french cheese, raclette, and a special cooking device of the same name.  Slices of the cheese are placed on small paddles which are inserted into the cooking device.  The cheese melts and bubbles and is then scraped off onto your plate, often on top of cooked or raw veggies, meats, bread, etc.  I used to eat this meal with friends while in France and a dear friend of mine bought Brett and I one of the raclette devices for our wedding 🙂






The next day we relaxed around the house and then headed into the city.  We hopped on a trolley and headed to Navy Pier where there is currently a Stained Glass Museum being exhibited.





Once at the pier we also were able to see the Chicago skyline…even given some chilly and cloudy weather 🙂



A little before dinner we headed to The Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the Hancock Building.  We waited in a bit of a line to take the elevator to the top but the view was worth it 🙂









Once back on the ground we walked to dinner at Tavernita.  They specialize in small plates and we were not disappointed by anything.  Each dish was tastier than the last 🙂




On Sunday we ate breakfast together, went for a nice morning walk, and all went our separate ways.  Such a lovely weekend 🙂



There aren’t any pictures of Dan and me in these images (well I guess there is one of me in there?) but I promise….we were there too 🙂