Tag Archives: friends

Minnesota Trip

Realizing this would probably be my last shot to go to Minnesota and see friends and family before baby Allen arrives, I decided to take a little trip back to my hometown this past weekend. My visits back to Minnesota lately have been jam packed full of weddings and/or events, but this one was on my terms and I set my own schedule, which made it feel more relaxing and more like it was my own trip.

{I unintentionally started a "Minnesota book" theme for the kiddo while I was back...}

{I unintentionally started a “Minnesota book” theme for the kiddo while I was back…}

I arrived on Wednesday evening after an uneventful travel day. The weather in Minnesota was wonderful and slated to be better as each day passed. Spring was just arriving there so it was not quite as green and lush as the town I left. For my first evening I enjoyed hors d’oeuvres on my mom’s deck with my brother and my friend Kelsey.Ā Eventually we made our way inside for dinner once the sun went down. As has been the case for many, many years, Kelsey is an extension of my family and my mom fondly refers to her as her “other” daughter. Kelsey and I were on the diving team together in high school and our friendship goes way back to middle school. She fits in quite well with my family, too. She’s hilarious and extremely genuine and I wish I could spend more time with her, and I wish I would have thought to get a photo together!

Thursday came early and I was able to sneak in a quick breakfast with my brother before he set off on his busy day and before I headed over to my dad’s house for our day together. It’s quite convenient – my parents live 2 blocks from each other so I can easily bounce between their houses when I come to town. My dad and I had a nice leisurely afternoon together – we had lunch in White Bear Lake, then took a long walk along the lake. I accompanied him on an errand and then we eventually went out to dinner. He is undergoing a whole house renovation and it was fun to see the progress he had made since my last visit. I only wish I could have spent more time with him during my stay!

My Friday was a bit busy – I had lunch in downtown Stillwater with my aunt Sarah and we did a little bit of shopping as well. From there I had time to squeeze in a quick walk with my mom before getting picked up by a friend. I met up with my girlfriends from high school to go out to dinner, but a couple of us stopped by Sarah’s parent’s house for a quick visit with her mom, and of course to enjoy some of her famous blue ribbon cookies.

{The three preggos!}

{The three preggos!}

We went out to dinner in Stillwater, which is the town next to where I grew up, and had a great time catching up. Three of the seven of us girls are pregnant right now and we’re due within five weeks of each other, so it’s a lot of fun to go through that together. As always, it was really fun to catch up with the girls.

{Friends since middle school - or longer in some cases!}

{Friends since middle school – or longer in some cases!}

Saturday was my day with my mom. We headed into White Bear mid-morning to go get my nails done and have some lunch. From there we did some shopping in St. Paul and took a nice walk together. My mom got me the “original” princess torte cake that I grew up having on my birthday, so it was fun to have some birthday cake and compare the cake that Alex just found out here. There are some subtle differences but both cakes are delicious! We had a great evening chatting back at her place and before I knew it, my trip was coming to an end.

{The "original" princess torte cake from Wuollett's bakery in Minnesota.}

{The “original” princess torte cake from Wuollet Bakery in Minnesota.}

I flew out early Sunday morning and made it back to Seattle with plenty of time to enjoy the absolutely gorgeous day, as well as pick up Jackson and get settled in for the week ahead. My trip went by so fast, as it always does, but I know I’ll look back on the time I was able to spend with my family and friends and remember this “last trip before baby” quite fondly. Oh, and I apologize, family, for my lack of photos with you! šŸ™

Sarah’s Seattle Trip

My longtime friend Sarah was out for an impromptu visit last weekend. This tripĀ in particular was a bit more special and unusual than her typical visits, as we are both pregnant right now {and due a day apart!}.Ā While we talk multiple times every day, we hadn’t seen each other yet since finding out {on the same day} that we were both going to be mamas, so it was extra fun to catch up and see each other in person.

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We really didn’t do a whole lot during Sarah’s visit – we ended up going to prenatal yoga dressed nearly identically {oops!}, and we enjoyed some delicious restaurants and took a few walks. One of the things I’ve learned is that whenever Sarah comes to Seattle, the weather is going to be miserable, and boy didĀ that hold true.

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Going through our pregnancy together has been really exciting – our due dates are a day apart, so we’re experiencing a lot of the same pregnancy symptoms at the same time. But either way, we’re both at the same point in our pregnancy and it’s an incredible experience to go through that with your best friend.

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Sarah and I have known each other and been friends since the summer before 6th grade. I moved to Mahtomedi that year and we were in the same swimming lessons class that summer. She was one of my first friends at my new school! Since the days of middle school, our group of friends has changed a little bit, but remained constant at the core.

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We endured the challenges and drama of being teenagers and got to grow up together. I am very fortunate for Sarah’s friendship, but also for my whole group of girl friends from high school. Most of us are still really close today. Throughout high school, Sarah and I were on the swim team together {though I was a diver}, we taught swimming lessons at the YMCA and then eventually worked at the golf course together in college.

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Graduating from high school and selecting different colleges was the beginning of our long-distance friendship, which has now survived more than 11 years. Sarah was always really good at coming down to visit me in Ames, which was about a 2ish hour drive from her school in St. Peter, Minnesota. We both changed a lot in college and had really different experiences and built whole new networks of friends, but we were able to maintainĀ our close friendship and chat as often as possible.

{Selfies before selfies were a thing ;) }

{Selfies before selfies were a thing šŸ˜‰ }

Summers were the best for us, though, because we saw each other most days, if I recall correctly, particularly when we were working at the golf course together. At some point, I want to say at the golf course, we were introducing ourselves to someone and they decided to combine our names into “Sali” and somehow that stuck.

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Moving 1500 miles away from Sarah after graduating from college hasn’t put a damper on our friendship, either! Sarah has come to visit or we’ve met somewhere just about every year since I moved to Seattle. Somehow she keeps coming even though the weather is never nice! Sarah does owe me a big one, though, because while on her way to come visit me in 2010, she ended up meeting the man who is now her husband and baby daddy. They were seated next to each other on the plane and hit it off!

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1381590_10101444174634420_1735318024_nWe were each other’s maid of honor in our weddings.

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And since then, not much has changed, except for the fact that we’re both preparing to be mamas. While it would still be special to simply be pregnant, it makes it all the more fun to go through it all with my other half of Sali.

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Here’s to starting the next chapter of our friendship as mamas…

Winter Break!

For the first year ever, Alex took off the two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Years and we stayed home with no plans or agenda. It was wonderful and so perfect.

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One of the biggest highlights was sleeping in, popping some cinnamon rolls in the oven, lighting a fire and hangingĀ out in the living room all day for most of the first week off. Our living room is an underused room in our house, but it’s probably our favorite because of our fireplace, and now our leather chairs. It was so nice to spend so much time in front of the fire these last two weeks.

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Another major highlight was skiing. The whole west coast got a really big Christmas present in the form of a gigantic snowstorm. It snowed so much here that one of the ski resorts couldn’t keep up with it and couldn’t open {they got 96 inches of snow in 3 days!!}. We skied four days during the two-week break.

{After the snow storm the temps dropped and the sun came out! It made for a couple of chilly days with sensational views.}

{After the snow storm the temps dropped and the sun came out! It made for a couple of chilly days with sensational views.}

 

{Jackson had the best day ever when he got to come with us to the mountains and play in the snow.}

{Jackson had the best day ever when he got to come with us to the mountains and play in the snow.}

{Yesterday we braved the chilly weather {12 degrees with -2 windchill}  and embarked on our first backcountry ski tour together. The avalanche danger was very low and our trek was super mild. It was really fun to get out and explore and get some exercise together.}

{Yesterday we braved the chilly weather {12 degrees with -2 windchill, which is about as cold as it gets here} and embarked on our first backcountry ski tour together. The avalanche danger was very low and our trek was super mild. It was really fun to get out and explore and get some exercise together.}

{Skinning up through the trees on a very well-traveled trail...}

{Skinning up through the trees on a very well-traveled trail…}

{Didn't do too much skiing down, but we made a few turns.}

{Didn’t do too much skiing down, but we managed to find a spot to make a few turns.}

We spent some quality time with lots of our friends, too. Alex’s friend Brian was here visiting for a few days, so Alex got to catch up with him. We also spent a day skiing with Nigel, and another day skiing with Patrick. We spent a rainy morning at the dog park with Ali, Tyler and their two kiddosĀ {and then warmed up with some hot chocolate and grilled cheese for lunch!}. Ryan and Mary brought their babies over to our house one day, and we met them up at Carrie and Patrick’s new house another day. It has been so nice to be able to spend this much time with friends, too!

{Oliver and August at 4 weeks old!}

{Oliver and August at 4 weeks old!}

Henry seemed to love having both of us home during the days – probably because he got to bug us both to let him outside all the time!

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Jackson on the other hand was completely thrown off his kilter with Alex being home and our change of schedule. Towards the end of our break he seemed to be adjusting a little bit to the temporary normal, but I’m sure once we go back to work tomorrow he’ll be happy to have some consistency.

{Hopefully giving Jackson a cheeseburger as a treat on our way home from skiing made up for him being off his schedule. And no, this is not a normal occurrence for Jackson!}

{Hopefully giving Jackson a cheeseburger as a treat on our way home from skiing made up for him being off his schedule. And no, this is not a normal occurrence for Jackson!}

Our vacation was so relaxing and on the one hand I feel like we did absolutely nothing, but then when I look back at what we did do and realize that’s not quite the case. I am so thankful for this break and for the time we spent together.Ā Who knows when the next time we’ll have two weeks off at home by ourselves will be!

This Week’s Happenings

It has been a busy week back since we returned from our trip to Mexico! Our pets were very happy to have us back home – they’ve both been extra cuddly and sweet this week. We’ve got to be getting closer to the moment of walking into our bedroom and finding Henry snuggled up with Jackson on the bed. I swear it’s going to happen!

{These two have been pallin' around all week. It's super sweet!}

{These two have been pallin’ around all week. It’s super sweet!}

{Who knew Henry would be the one to love the new bathroom floor the most!?}

{Who knew Henry would be the one to love the new bathroom floor the most!?}

While we were in Mexico we received the very surprising news that our very good friends Mary and Ryan had their twin boys! They arrived six weeks early, which isn’t too uncommon for twins, of course, but we hadn’t quite mentally prepared for them to come so soon.

{This was really the first time Mary and Ryan got to look at their boys side-by-side and compare how similar their features are.}

{This was really the first time Mary and Ryan got to look at their boys side-by-side and compare how similar their features are.}

Both boys, Oliver and August, are doing fantastic and they even got to go home today, after only a week in the hospital. They weighed 4 pounds 8 ounces and 4 pounds 2 ounces {I think!}, respectively, when they were born. We got the pleasure of meeting the boys on Wednesday evening and we had the bigger pleasure of seeing them be reunited for the first time since their birth! We are so excited for our friends and can’t wait to watch these two boys grow up.

{I believe Oliver is on the left and August is on the right.}

{The sweet peanuts! August is on the left and Oliver is on the right.}

I’ve been feeling rather festive this week so I pulled out the holiday decorations and got our house looking a little more Christmasy. We’ve still got to get a few things for the outside and hang some lights, but we’re pretty close. Now if someone would hand me a plateĀ Christmas cookies, we’d be all good! {Or maybe I’ll just go make some…}

{Henry was being a helper as I decorated.}

{Henry was being a helper as I decorated.}

{One of my favorites - my friend Carrie made the wreath for me last Christmas!}

{One of my favorites – my friend Carrie made the wreath for me last Christmas!}

{Our Christmas card wall is looking pretty pathetic... here's some motivation to send your holiday cards, friends! And yes, ours will be in the mail very shortly!}

{Our Christmas card wall is looking pretty pathetic… here’s some motivation to send your holiday cards, friends! And yes, ours will be in the mail very shortly!}

The weather in Seattle has been pretty dismal this week, but, our silver lining during the dreary winter days is that when it rains here it snows in the mountains! We’re planning on trekking up to Crystal Mountain this weekend to take advantage of the snow and get a few runs in. I think we’ll bring Jackson with us so he can run around in the snow too!

Fourth Annual Leavenworth Octoberfest Weekend

We’ve got another Leavenworth Octoberfest weekend in the books! This marks our fourth consecutive year making the pilgrimage to Leavenworth, Washington with three other couples to enjoy a relaxing getaway in the mountains.

{the drive through the Cascade mountains at this time of year is spectacular!}

{the drive through the Cascade mountains at this time of year is spectacular!}

We all arrived late afternoon/early evening on Friday and spent the evening playing games, chatting and eating! Our trip this year was with the same group as last year. This was also our third year in a row staying at the same vacation rental home – it’s a great setup for us with four bedrooms and a great fenced in backyard for the dogs.

{the girls... Mary, Ali, Carrie and Trish! all 3 other girls are pregnant right now, so our group is majorly growing!}

{the girls… Mary, Ali, Carrie and Trish! all 3 other girls are pregnant right now, so our group is majorly growing!}

Friday was my day to prepare a meal – in keeping in line with the German/Octoberfest theme, I made beer and brown sugarĀ brats with sauerkraut, German potato salad, a regular salad a beer cheese spread. Our group is full of excellent cooks, so it goes without saying that we ateĀ very well all weekend!

{enjoying some time together at our rental house}

{enjoying some time together at our rental house}

Saturday was our full day together and it also happened to be Ryan’s 35th birthday! We had a really nice time celebrating his birthday in Leavenworth and then at the house as well. The weather was great, too, so we were able to be outside the whole afternoon.

{the birthday boy with his bride}

{the birthday boy with his bride}

One of my favorite parts of our weekend is when we actually go into the town of Leavenworth. Leavenworth is a small town in the Cascade mountains that was builtĀ withĀ Bavarian style architecture. Each October they host a huge month-long Octoberfest. We learned the first year not to go to the organized event, but instead to simply come into the town and hang out. We typically post up in one of the outdoor beer/sausage gardens and the boys order a stein of beer and we all get sausages for lunch. Typically we split up and the boys keep drinking beer while the girls shop, do wine tasting or visit the art fair. We’ve gotten to know the town quite well and have a good system down.

{Cheers!}

{Cheers!}

{we did some fun photo shoots - the scenery was too gorgeous not to!}

{we did some fun photo shoots – the scenery was too gorgeous not to!}

{dave with trish who is rocking her baby bump! :) }

{dave with trish who is rocking her baby bump! šŸ™‚ }

{photo op in Leavenworth!}

{photo op in Leavenworth!}

Upon arriving back at our vacation home we realized there had been a power outage! We were less than prepared to deal with that. With our fingers crossed for a quick fix, we dug around and found some candles and then realized that the house’s well was powered by an electric pump, so not only were we without electricity, we were without water, too. That ended up being a much bigger bummer than the electricity. There had been a big windstorm up in the mountains and power and cell service to AT&T was knocked out through the entire valley.

The quick fix to the power that we had hoped for did not happen –Ā that it made it really tricky to cook the sauerbraten for dinner. This is a finicky meal that Mary and Ryan began preparing three or four days earlier. It needed to cook on Saturday night for four hours, but we were sans oven. Eventually we fired up the grill and stuck the dutch oven in there and it did the trick! The power stayed out for the entire night and didn’t come back on until the next morning, so it was a little interesting, but we survived just fine.

{thank goodness for the built-in flashlight feature in the iPhone! this came in SO handy}

{thank goodness for the built-in flashlight feature in the iPhone! this came in SO handy}

It was actually kind of fun to not have power. We huddled around the “candle” table in the living room and Mary kicked off a game of “Table Topics” where she went around in a circle and asked each person a different question from a deck of prescribed cards. While we all know each other really well, it absolutely made us learn more about everyone – like that Patrick had a rat tail when he was a kid! We made some great memories during this trip!

When we woke up on Sunday morning it was an absolutely spectacular day. Since the power came back on we were able to do dishes and clean up from dinner the night before. We all congregated in the kitchen and hung out before breakfast. While some folks watched the Seahawks game, Alex and I took the opportunity to enjoy the hot tub and gorgeous view of the mountains.

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And just like that, our fourth annual Leavenworth Octoberfest trip is over. I have to say I’m already looking forward to seeing how dramatically different next year’s will be with a bunch of babies!

The Sweetest Pair Baby Shower

My friend Mary is expecting twins this December, so my other friend, Carrie, and I hosted a baby shower for her this past weekend to help get them prepared for life with two baby boys!

{the mama to be in front of "the sweetest pair" sign - the theme of the shower}

{the mama to be in front of “the sweetest pair” sign – the theme of the shower}

{Carrie put her creative cap on and took the role of expert decorator - she is super crafty and everything turned out adorably!}

{Carrie put her creative cap on and took the role of expert decorator – she is super crafty and everything turned out adorably!}

{we served a brunch for the 15 ladies in attendance}

{we served a brunch for the 15 ladies in attendance}

{Alex helped out by assisting in the making of this yummy pear tart}

{Alex helped out by assisting in the making of this yummy pear tart… we went a little nuts with the pear theme and transitioned it into food as well}

{Dessert!}

{Dessert!}

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{Mary requested that we not play any "baby shower" games, so instead of that we had people guess when the boys will make their debut.}

{Mary requested that we not play any “baby shower” games, so instead of that we had people guess when the boys will make their debut.}

{As another activity in lieu of games, Carrie put together a block decorating station - this turned out SUPER cute!}

{As another activity in lieu of games, Carrie put together a block decorating station – this turned out SUPER cute!}

{Carrie and me with Mary}

{Carrie and me with Mary}

{Mary with her mother in-law who came in for the special occasion.}

{Mary with her mother in-law who came in for the special occasion.}

{all of the beautiful mamas-to-be who were at the shower!}

{all of the beautiful mamas-to-be who were at the shower! I didn’t realize it until noticing the photo, but they’re lined up in chronological order from earliest due date to latest. It goes without saying, there will be a lot of babies being born in my group of friends in the next short bit of time…}

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{making blocks!}

{making blocks!}

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{It’s safe to say that Mary and Ryan are pretty well stocked up for the arrival of the twins!}

 

{We are so excited to meet these two little boys!!}

{We are so excited to meet these two little boys!!}

Willamette Valley Wine Trip

The Willamette Valley wine region in Oregon has been on our list of places to visit for quite some time now. From Seattle, it’s only a 3 1/2 hour drive down to the famous pinot noir wine region in Oregon, so we finally booked a trip and made it happen.

{Alex and me with Mike and Sarah at one of the wineries we went to on our trip to Oregon!}

{Alex and me with Mike and Sarah at one of the wineries we went to on our trip to Oregon!}

My friend from Minnesota, Sarah, and her husband, Mike, flew out to Portland and we spent the weekend together in McMinnville, Oregon, right in the heart of the Willamette Valley. We rented an adorable house for the weekend – this house is one of my favorite vacation rentals to date. It was really roomy, had a ton of charm and a fantastic backyard for us to lounge in and for Jackson to run around. The location was just a block off the main drag, or shall I say “the gut” of the town. During our stay in McMinnville, the locals had an event called “Cruise the Gut” where they drove their vintage, sporty, loud or just regular cars down the “gut” of the town.

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The town was really cute and had several restaurants, wine tasting rooms and a few little shops. We spent our Friday evening checking out the tasting rooms before settling in at La Rambla, a Spanish restaurant, for dinner.

{Our first tasting of the weekend at Willamette Vineyards tasting room in McMinnville!}

{Our first tasting of the weekend at Willamette Vineyards tasting room in McMinnville!}

As a way to break up the wine drinking, we headed to Cannon Beach on Saturday for a full-day excursion. Cannon Beach is on the Oregon Coast and was about a 2 hour drive away from where we were staying. We weren’t aware of this initially, but similar to the fires in Washington, Oregon was experiencing several wildfires during our stay. The skies were extremely hazy on Saturday and Sunday.

{The famous Haystack Rock that juts out of the beach.}

{The famous Haystack Rock that juts out of the beach.}

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{Jackson was having the time of his life!}

{Jackson was having the time of his life!}

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{I can't even describe how frigid the water was!}

{I can’t even describe how frigid the water was!}

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{Looking back on the beach from the water - cute little Cape Cod-style houses line the shores in a very underwhelming manor - it's not crazy overpopulated, which was really refreshing.}

{Looking back on the beach from the water – cute little Cape Cod-style houses line the shores in a very underwhelming manor – it’s not crazy overpopulated, which was really refreshing.}

{You can rent these little bikes that people were riding all around the beach}

{You can rent these little bikes that people were riding all around the beach}

{Family photo!}

{Family photo!}

Cannon Beach was different than I expected. Haystack Rock, the infamous rock jutting out from the beach, was at least three times as large as I imagined. The beach itself was super sandy and the sand was so soft! Most/all of the beaches on the Washington coast are completely covered in rocks.Ā While I knew the beach was enormous, the town was a bit bigger than I realized it would be. There were tons of shops, restaurants, cafes and beach houses. It was really Cape Cod-esque but with a little Pacific Northwest flare.

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Our next big adventure was Sunday’s excursion to Dundee Hills, one of the AVAs {American Viticulture Area} in the Willamette Valley. The Willamette Valley looks a lot different than the Washington wine country areas we’ve been to previously {Yakima and Walla Walla areas}. It’s much less deserty-feeling in Oregon, there are more trees, both coniferous and deciduous, and more rolling hills. The haze from the wildfires really prohibited our view – a few of the wineries boast views out to Mount Hood, which we didn’t get to enjoy on our trip.

{First stop... Purple Hands - this was the only winery that was familiar to Alex and me before we took this trip}

{First stop… Purple Hands – this was the only winery that was familiar to Alex and me before we took this trip}

{This guy is secretly a winery dog...}

{This guy is secretly a winery dog…}

{Enjoying our picnic at Stoller!}

{Enjoying our picnic at Stoller!}

{Stoller had a really cool LEED building for their tasting room. They also had an extraordinary property.}

{Stoller had a really cool LEED building for their tasting room. They also had an extraordinary property.}

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Each of the four wineries we stopped at on Sunday offered a different experience. We all shared similar sentiments and seemed to favor Purple Hands for wine and service, Stoller for view, Sokol Blosser for space and ambiance and White Rose for overall wine quality.

{Hazy view from White Rose winery}

{Hazy view from White Rose winery}

{Jackson ended up getting stung by a bee at White Rose, so we relocated to an area with fewer bees and fewer small children...}

{Jackson ended up getting stung by a bee at White Rose, so we relocated to an area with fewer bees and fewer small children…}

Another thing I was surprised about with our Willamette Valley wine tour was just how much pinot noir we would drink. I guess I had it in my mind that our experience would be very similar to our previous experiences in Washington, where there is quite a variety of wine varietals, but honestly, the only red wine we drank was pinot noir! I like pinots, but they’re not a wine I tend to favor when presented a choice. And similarly, the white grape varietal of choice was a chardonnay, which tends to be my least favorite. We did have a couple chardonnays that I enjoyed; however.

{Mike and Sarah have been together for almost five years if my memory serves me well. That being said, Alex and I have spent a lot of time with him, but we all found out just how much in common these two gents have with each other! That was a really fun highlight of the trip was just seeing how similar they are and how many shared interests they have. Both guys are really easy-going and easy to talk to, so it's not surprising.}

{Mike and Sarah have been together for almost five years if my memory serves me well. That being said, Alex and I have spent a lot of time with him, but we all found out just how much in common these two gents have with each other! That was a really fun highlight of the trip was just seeing how similar they are and how many shared interests they have. Both guys are really easy-going and easy to talk to, so it’s not surprising.}

{Cheers! We loved hanging out on the patio at Sokol Blosser}

{Cheers! We loved hanging out on the patio at Sokol Blosser}

{This guy was an all-star winery dog! He got so many compliments and random head scratches from strangers. He loves hanging out with us and going on outings!}

{This guy was an all-star winery dog! He got so many compliments and random head scratches from strangers. He loves hanging out with us and going on outings!}

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We had one more winery on our list for Monday, our last day in Oregon. This was a winery I was particularly excited about because it was a more private, intimate tasting, and I had read reviews on Trip Advisor that people agreed it was the best wine tasting experience they had ever had. We pulled up to Soter Vineyards just before our reservation time and were already blown away by how beautiful the tasting room and the grounds were. That was even before we were greeted by our host with a glass of amazing rose – our group favorite of the trip.

{Walking into Soter Vineyards was gorgeous - it was so open and natural. They host a wine tasting only as well as a wine and food tasting where they serve food straight from the farm they have on their property}

{Walking into Soter Vineyards was gorgeous – it was so open and natural. They host a wine tasting only as well as a wine and food tasting where they serve food straight from the farm they have on their property}

{This quaint cabin, also known as the home of the winemakers, was where we did our private tasting}

{This quaint cabin, also known as the home of the winemakers, was where we did our private tasting}

{The view from the porch of the cabin at Soter Vineyards}

{The view from the porch of the cabin at Soter Vineyards}

{Our tasting set-up}

{Our tasting set-up}

{Here is what we got to drink!}

{Here is what we got to drink!}

{The gang!}

{The gang! After this experience, we all changed our “favorite everything” to Soter. It was a fantastic, personalized experience, the wine was unparalleled and the service and knowledge that our host provided was top notch.}

Being a big wine lover, I really enjoyed our wine tour and getting to explore this new region we had never been to before. That said, though, one of my favorite parts of our trip was the time we spent in the backyard of the home we stayed at. The backyard was fantastic and the temperatures were so mild that we stayed warm late into the evening. We used that time to catch up and just chat about life. It was really nice to have several days to spend with Sarah and Mike. I think those are the best get-togethers – the ones where you take a vacation and get to spend that much quality time together.

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Sarah and I, who have been best friends since high school and served the role of each others’ maid of honor, typically talk several times each day, whether by text, email or phone, and we always know what’s going on with each other even though we only see each other a couple times a year. Technology has been so instrumental in our long-distance friendship. With those visits toĀ Minnesota, I typically only get a few hours with her, so I really enjoyed the duration of time we got to have together. Hopefully we can take another trip soon šŸ™‚

{Miss you Sali!}

{Miss you Sali!}

The Last Few Weeks

The last couple of weeks haveĀ flown by! So much so that I forgot to document them. The weather has been really nice – we even gotĀ two legitimate Midwest-style thunderstorms – but it looks like fall is at our heels and will come in this week with a vengeance. I’m guessing it will be short-lived, though. We just returned from a long weekend in the Oregon wine country {more on that soon…} and we are looking forward to quite a busy week ahead!

This week weĀ are celebrating Carrie’s 30th birthday, working hard {big news!: Alex got a VERY exciting promotion at his job… I know he won’t be happy with me for boasting about that but I don’t much care. He is an exceptionally hard worker and I know he is very talented at his job and I am grateful that his team is using this promotion to recognize his accomplishments.}. We will also beĀ welcoming Alex’s parents who are coming for an extended visit beginning this weekend. Summer isn’t over yet – we’ve still got a lot of fun things on our docket. But for now, here’s what we’ve been up to over the last few weeks…

{I am in half-marathon training mode now... I had a beautiful landscape while on my 8 mile run last week and I can only hope for the same view for this week's 9 mile run. I have been having some issues with my IT band and hip flexors. My friend Ryan, a physical therapist, gave me some stretches and exercises to do and they seem to be helping so far.}

I am in half-marathon training mode now… I had a beautiful landscape while on my 8 mile run last week and I can only hope for the same view for this week’s 9 mile run. I have been having some issues with my IT band and hip flexors. My friend Ryan, a physical therapist, gave me some stretches and exercises to do and they seem to be helping so far.

{Our good friends Ryan and Mary are expecting twins in December! They hosted a gender reveal party a couple weeks ago to share the exciting news that they'll be having two boys!}

Our good friends Ryan and Mary are expecting twins in December! They hosted a gender reveal party a couple weeks ago to share the exciting news that they’ll be having two boys!

{Gender reveal cuteness!}

{Gender reveal cuteness!}

{Carrie and me with the mama to-be! We are excited to be hosting Mary's baby shower together in October.}

{Carrie and me with the mama to-be! We are excited to be hosting Mary’s baby shower together in October.}

{We had a great day in the sun at a recent Sounders soccer game.}

{We had a great day in the sun at a recent Sounders soccer game.}

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{These two crack me up more and more each day. We have become quite lax in allowing Jackson on the bed because it doesn't seem to bother Henry too much. I am not enjoying having to wash our quilt more often, but there are worse things to whine about...}

These two crack me up more and more each day. We have become quite lax in allowing Jackson on the bed because it doesn’t seem to bother Henry too much. I am not enjoying having to wash our quilt more often, but there are worse things to whine about…

{My freshman and sophomore year roommate from Iowa State came to visit us last week! We had such a great time catching up with Rachel and reminiscing about the "good old days" of college. Rachel, Alex and I all met on the same day, so we've got a lot of history together!}

My freshman and sophomore year roommate from Iowa State came to visit us last week! We had such a great time catching up with Rachel and reminiscing about the “good old days” of college. Rachel, Alex and I all met on the same day, so we’ve got a lot of history together!

{The three of us! It was so good to catch up :) }

{The three of us! It was so good to catch up šŸ™‚ }

Midwest Summer Trip

Alex and I justĀ returned fromĀ aĀ ten day jauntĀ around the Midwest. We bounced around fromĀ place to place in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota and ultimately ended up staying in six cities across the three states. The primary purposeĀ ofĀ our trip was to attend a wedding in Illinois one weekend and a wedding in Minnesota the following. We decided to turn it into a ten day trip to squeeze in some time with some family and friends during the week between the weddings.

{picturesque view in Minnesota}

{picturesque view in Minnesota}

The trip began in Illinois where we were attending Alex’s high school friend “AK” {Adam}’s wedding very close to the town where Alex’s parents live. We had a fun day with Alex’s parents before heading north to Alex’s hometown of DeKalb where the rehearsal dinner was taking place on Friday evening. It was really nice to get a chance to re-connect with several of Alex’s friends from high school.

{Alex and AK in front of AK's sporty car}

{Alex and AK in front of AK’s sporty car}

The wedding took place on Saturday at Fisherman’s Inn in Elburn, Illinois. It was a beautiful venue and a gorgeous day for a wedding, albeit a bit muggy! The wedding was quite large, I think there were more than 300 people there to celebrate Adam and Katherine, but the venue did a great job accommodating all of the guests. Alex got a chance to spend some quality time with a bunch of friends from high school. I had met his friends before but this trip reminded me just how nice they all are. He really has a great group of friends back in Illinois.

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{the grounds at Fisherman's Inn}

{the grounds at Fisherman’s Inn}

{the wedding goers! Alex sure made a handsome groomsman if I do say so myself! :)}

{the wedding goers! Alex sure made a handsome groomsman if I do say so myself! :)}

 

After stopping at AK and Katherine’s post-wedding brunch and visiting Nana {Alex’s grandma} for tea on Sunday morning we headed up to “the lake” for a few days. Alex’s parents have a lake home in southern Wisconsin and it had our name on it!

{Lake Delavan, Wisconsin}

{Lake Delavan, Wisconsin}

{loving the time out on the boat - we took several boat rides and got to test out the new waverunner!}

{loving the time out on the boat – we took several boat rides and got to test out the new waverunner!}

{me and my beautiful mother in-law!}

{me and my beautiful mother in-law!}

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{we saved our water ski day for the last morning and all four of us took turns water skiing.}

{we saved our water ski day for the last morning and all four of us took turns water skiing.}

Our time in Illinois came to a close quite quickly. We spent our last night in Chicago with Alina and Alberto and got to stay in their new apartment! It was the most relaxing part of our trip because of the time at the lake, and it was also really, really enjoyable to spend such meaningful time with Alex’s high school friends. They are such genuine, considerate people and they’re great friends, too!

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We landed in Minnesota on Wednesday afternoon and headed to the cabinet showroom. Yep. That was our first stop. My brother is remodeling our bathroom this fall and he wanted us to check out some cabinet options so we checked that off the list right away. The rest of the day was spent with my dad.

{we had a really nice walk around Lake Harriett in Minneapolis}

{we had a really nice walk around Lake Harriett in Minneapolis}

{after our walk we headed over to Loring Park where Alex and I got to meet my dad's partner, Fred (yes, they have the same name), and enjoy a really nice dinner at Loring Street Kitchen}

{after our walk we headed over to Loring Park where Alex and I got to meet my dad’s partner and enjoy a really nice dinner at Loring Kitchen & Bar}

Thursday was my mom’s day. It got a bit ridiculous when I started scheduling everything out to make sure I fit in time with my parents, so my mom got one whole day and my dad got two half days. That’s the way it has to be sometimes!

{We headed to Taylor's Falls, about 30-45 minutes outside the Twin Cities, which is on the St Croix River, for a hike}

{We headed to Taylor’s Falls, about 30-45 minutes outside the Twin Cities, which is on the St Croix River, for a hike}

{we were going to kayak down part of the river but one of us got a little too sunburned on the boat in Wisconsin...}

{we were going to kayak down part of the river but one of us got a little too sunburned on the boat in Wisconsin…}

{After our hike we came back to my mom's house for some time in the pool! It was just what we needed - a nice cooldown and relaxation time. My friend Kelsey and her boyfriend Franc joined us later on for dinner.}

{After our hike we came back to my mom’s house for some time in the pool! It was just what we needed – a nice cooldown and relaxation time. My friend Kelsey and her boyfriend Franc joined us later on for dinner.}

{I also got to enjoy my brother's company that night, too!}

{I also got to enjoy my brother’s company that night, too!}

For the second part of my dad’s day we went out to breakfast, stopped by my friend Cammy’s new fixer-upper {IĀ cannot wait to see the finished product!!} and then took a stroll through the White Bear Lake Farmer’s Market. It was a nice leisurely day before we had to head out to Lake Minnetonka for the rehearsal dinnerĀ forĀ Sammy and Amy’s wedding.

{the rehearsal dinner took place on a boat called Lady of the Lake, which was chartered for a 3-hour cruise around Lake Minnetonka. Alex had never been on the lake before, and I hadn't been since I was a kid. It was super nostalgic for me, and it was fun to see how much Alex enjoyed it too!}

{the rehearsal dinner took place on a boat called Lady of the Lake, which was chartered for a 3-hour cruise around Lake Minnetonka. Alex had never been on the lake before, and I hadn’t been since I was a kid. It was super nostalgic for me, and it was fun to see how much Alex enjoyed it too!}

{Sammy, whose real name is John, and Alex were nextdoor neighbors our sophomore year of college. Sammy's roommate was a high school classmate of mine. It goes without saying that because of their similar senses of humor, the three guys became great friends very quickly! We are so happy for Sammy and Amy and it was a pleasure to go back and attend their wedding.}

{Sammy, whose nameĀ is actually John, and Alex were nextdoor neighbors our sophomore year of college. Sammy’s roommate, Phil, was a high school classmate of mine. It goes without saying that because of their similar senses of humor, the three guys became great friends very quickly! We are so happy for Sammy and Amy and it was a pleasure to go back and attend their wedding.}

Saturday was hands-down the most crazy day of our trip. It was a really fun day filled with seeing old friends, but we bounced around from the northwest corner of the Twin Cities to the northeast corner and then back down to the southwest corner for the wedding before heading to the airport at 5:15 a.m. on Sunday morning. Ay caramba!

{Steph and Molly came over to Sarah's house for brunch with their kids on Saturday morning. Sarah and Mike live near where we were on Lake Minnetonka the night before, so they graciously drove us to and from the rehearsal and we spent the night at their beautiful home. I hadn't met Steph's seven month-old son yet, so this was a perfect chance to do so!}

{Steph and Molly came over to Sarah’s house for brunch with their kids on Saturday morning. Sarah and Mike live near where we were on Lake Minnetonka the night before, so they graciously drove us to and from the rehearsal and we spent the night at their beautiful home. I hadn’t met Steph’s seven month-old son yet, so this was a perfect chance to do so!}

{After brunch we trekked across town back to Mahtomedi, where I grew up, for my friend Kailey's son's first birthday party. I am really glad we squeezed this in. It was a perfect lake setting and I loved catching up with my girlfriends!}

{After brunch we trekked across town back to Mahtomedi, where I grew up, for my friend Kailey’s son’s first birthday party. I am really glad we squeezed this in. It was a perfect lake setting and I loved catching up with my girlfriends!}

{this was the most relaxing first birthday party I've ever been to!}

{this was the most relaxing first birthday party I’ve ever been to!}

{we ended our evening at Sammy and Amy's wedding in Chaska. We got to catch up with Phil and Anja, two of my high school classmates, and Phil was Sammy's roommate when they lived next door to Alex. It was really great to get a chance to spend time with them.  Yes, we had a little fun in the photo booth!}

{we ended our evening at Sammy and Amy’s wedding in Chaska. We got to catch up with Phil and Anja, two of my high school classmates, and Phil was Sammy’s roommate when they lived next door to Alex. It was really great to get a chance to spend time with them. Yes, we had a little fun in the photo booth!}

The trip overall was fantastic and crazy. It’s never very relaxing when we go back to the Midwest, but I feel like we did manage to squeeze in a few days where we didn’t have a ton going on. I am so unbelievably grateful for the friends we got to see while we were back. It’s truly incredible and makes my eyes water a bit just thinking about how many wonderful life-long friends we both have and how easy it is for us to go a year {or several!} without seeing each other and pick things up like we saw them yesterday. I especially enjoyed spending time with Alex’s high school friends – it’s really rare and I so, so, so enjoyed them. I only wish we could have seen all of our friends and family members, but it’s next to impossible to make it work when we’re back for such a short time.

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Thanks to our friends and family for a wonderful time! We hope to see you all soon {come visit us!} šŸ™‚

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Weekend Trip to Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan has been on our “to visit” list for several years and now that we’ve been, I can’t believe it took us this long to make it happen. At 55 miles long, Lake Chelan is the largest lake in Washington and is located in the middle of the state, about 3 hours east of Seattle. The lake is extremely deep {apparently “chelan” means deep lake or something like that and is pronounced “shuh-lan” – with the “a” being like “apple”} and is surrounded on both sides by beautiful deserty mountains. The lake is pretty populated in certain areas and is also known for its cute, charming towns and abundance of wineries – it is in Washington wine country, after all.

{the resort we stayed at}

{the resort we stayed at}

This trip was extremely impromptu and planned entirely by Alex. He and his friend Nigel signed up for the Lake Chelan Rotary Century bike ride, a very challenging 100 mile bike ride around the area. Since Alex was planning the trip he was in charge of figuring out our lodging arrangements and boy did he deliver.

{we stayed in "the pavilion" cabin, which was amazingly awesome}

{we stayed in “the pavilion” cabin, which was amazingly awesome}

 

I was especially impressed given the last minute nature of our trip, but he found an adorable place called Kelly’s Resort, which is a waterfront resort that has a bunch of stand-alone cabins, a beach, walking trails through the woods and it just oozes charm and character. It really reminded me of my family’s lake home in Minnesota. We really lucked out, too, because this was the last weekend of their “off” season rates, so we got a great price for the cabin.

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We made the 3 hour trip over to Chelan on Friday afternoon and miraculously didn’t hit any traffic at all. Once we got settled into our cabin we headed down to the bottom side of the lake to pick up Alex’s biking packet and meet Nigel and Jolene for dinner. We settled on a cute pizza place called Local Myth and really enjoyed our dinner, though were disappointed to have been seated in the only “non-alcoholic” table {the table was on the outside of their fenced in patio area} so we couldn’t order any wine or beer. By that point it was 8:30 and we were ready for dinner so we didn’t put up too much of a fight, plus it was the only outdoor table that would have accommodated the four of us.

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Bright and early Saturday morning, I dropped Alex off at the start of the bike race and he and Nigel met up and got started. The ride was very challenging – it was 85 degrees by mid-ride and being in the desert, there was virtually no shade. The ride was broken out into three loops that all started and ended in the same spot, so in theory you could do one, two or all three of the loops.

{ready to go!}

{ready to go!}

Alex’s goal for the day was to make it to the top of a massive 3,000 vertical foot climb, which was over the course of 6 miles {a very short distance for that much climbing} and averaged around 10-12% grade {very steep!}. He said the hardest part was how hot it was and how limited the shade was, but he and Nigel both made it to the top. Mission accomplished! Alex achieved his goal and that was good enough for him, while Nigel’s goal was to complete the 100 mile ride. Alex decided to call it after 70 miles, so I ran over and picked him up.

{pit stop for a victory photo!}

{pit stop for a victory photo!}

The bike ride lasted from about 7:00-2:30, so while Alex was biking I was back at our cabin with Jackson. I took him for a 40 minute swim right off the bat – he is such a water dog, so I figured that would be a good place to start!

{we've got a dock jumper on our hands!}

{we’ve got a dock jumper on our hands!}

I was just enjoying being down on the water – the view across the lake was gorgeous. And the water itself isĀ so clear and clean and just looks different because of that.

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After Jackson tired himself out I grabbed a cup of coffee from the little coffee shop and sat out on the deck of the main lodge with Jackson and just relaxed for a bit. Then we headed back to the cabin and went for a walk on the hiking trails up the hill. I got in my 10,000 steps pretty early that day!

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The rest of the day was mainly spent on the deck of our cabin, which overlooked a lot of mature evergreens, as well as the lake. I caught up on some reading and just did some relaxing until I picked Alex up.

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Of course Alex was beat when he got back to the cabin, so we just hung out for a while and then got cleaned up and headed out to meet Nigel and Jolene at a winery called Tsillan {pronounced like Chelan}, which was conveniently located adjacent to Sorrento’s, the restaurant we had dinner reservations at. The wine tasting was greatĀ and we lucked out in getting the best seat in the restaurant for dinner. This restaurant was voted to have one of the top 100 restaurant views in the country and it didn’t disappoint! We all really enjoyed the food, too.

{view from Sorrento's and Tsillan Cellars - too bad the parking lot is right there!}

{view from Sorrento’s and Tsillan Cellars – too bad the parking lot is right there!}

On our way out of the restaurant our car had an unfortunate mishap with a decorative pillar, conveniently located in our blind spot, so hurrah, we get to get a new front bumper. The car just turned too sharply getting out of the parking space and Alex couldn’t see the pillar in the mirrors or the backup camera. Oops!

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Our last day in Chelan was a short one – we took Jackson swimming one last time, packed up and hit the road. We stopped at Twin Pines, a cute little townie hamburger joint just off the highway, which was surprisingly awesome {so much for eating light…}, and then spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking and relaxing in the sunshine.

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….until next time, Lake Chelan! I have a feeling this will become an annual summer trip for us.