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Adventures in the kitchen, in fitness and with glitter!


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Big Things in 2015!

What a holiday season it was for me! I spent over a week at home in MT for Christmas. There was a total of ten people staying at my parents’ home and it was a fun, full house. We ate, drank and celebrated, but more on that later.

Out for a long exploration around town on our action packed Christmas Eve!

Out for a long exploration around town on our action packed Christmas Eve!

We enjoyed our traditional fondue dinner on Christmas Eve and I found an awesome fondue recipe that wasn’t too “swiss-y”, my family isn’t a huge fan of the overly strong cheese. Well Plated had a delicious recipe!

Winter delivered with a beautiful white Christmas and we spent much of the day in our PJs, opening presents, of course eating and drinking mimosas!

Beautiful Christmas view of the backyard!

Beautiful Christmas view of the backyard!

The best part of the week was spending quality time with my family, siblings and their significant others and it was very special to celebrate with my future in-laws. That’s right – the BF is now my fiancé! Christmas Eve will forever be my favorite day of the year (until my wedding I suppose). We are ecstatic and so excited to start this wonderful new part of our relationship. Having our families there was so special and made for quite a memorable week!

We rounded out our holiday season celebrating with close friends at a lake house we rented at a near by lake back in Virginia. A two-night stay celebrating the new year and our new engagement was a perfect close to 2015!

Closing out 2014!

Closing out 2014!

I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings! Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season! Best wishes in 2015, I’m back in action now with lots of DIY projects on the horizon!

MtChristmas_InstaCollage

The most memorable Christmas celebration yet!


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#IceBucketChallenge

So we’ve all seen it, EVERYWHERE, and I was nominated yesterday by my dear friend at the HappyWifeHappyLife blog to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I obliged, luckily it was an especially sticky day in Madison.  

Here I go! Brrrrrr!

Here I go! Brrrrrr!

I decided to make a donation to the ALS Association, as well as the Alzheimer’s Foundation. My grandmother had ALS and passed away before I was born and Alzheimer’s is also a cause that is also close to my heart, in honor of my late Poppa Tom.

I appreciate the viral-ness of the the Ice Bucket Challenge and applaud how people have responded and donated.As a marketer, I am in awe of those behind this challenge and the good they have done for Lou Gehrig’s Disease. But I also think people should think freely about where and how they donate their money.  

The bright side is that I got to nominate three other people to similarly dump themselves with ice water. I selected my mom, sister and the BF. They have 24 hours, we’ll see how they do. 

Anybody else participate in the challenge? Come across any hilarious videos of others you know? Good luck if you are nominated! 

 


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Family Outing!

About three years ago my family got together and decided we were going to make an effort to take a few days every summer and rendezvous at a location chosen by one of the five core members of our family. My mother chose the first year and we went to Montana, Flathead Lake to be exact. This summer, it was my dad’s turn, he chose Montana, Glacier National Park in particular. Creative, I know, but there’s nothing like Montana. We spent many a childhood summer nights at Glacier, mostly in Apgar or Fish Creek campgrounds, climbing through trails and trekking up the Going to the Sun highway. This time around we forged a new path and went to the east side of the park to East Glacier. My dad found a great lodge that we stayed in, close to the entrance of the park and easy access to the trails.

Our first hike was an ambitious path up Ptarmigan Tunnel. We went up over 5 miles and through the tunnel, then over to the other side checking out Elizabeth Lake and sky-scraping mountains. It was almost 12 miles round trip! The most exciting part came in the first 1/2 mile. Bear spray in tow, we started out on the trail and ran into a group abruptly stopped, they were spying on a small black bear rummaging through the bushes for food. It was no more than 20-30 feet off the trail and didn’t notice us. We kept our eye out for a mother bear the entire time but luckily didn’t encounter any other bears. After a few pictures we kept on trucking up the mountain, towards the tunnel.

View from the frontside of Ptarmagin Tunnel.

View from the frontside of Ptarmigan Tunnel.

The huckleberry ice cream sure tasted good at the bottom! Huckleberries are an amazing summertime treat in Montana, we even managed to find a patch on our drive home, between four of us we picked over 7 cups in less than 30 minutes, jackpot! We also ran into a traffic jam on our way out of the park, people were gathered on both sides of the road with binoculars and cameras out taking pictures of a giant grizzly bear on the mountain side. It was far away enough not to be threatening, but close enough to see how giant the bear would have been up close. Two bears in two days, Glacier treated us well!

Success at the bottom of the trail!

Success at the bottom of the trail!

Next summer, it’s my brother’s turn to choose… we’re going to Montana.


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A Trip to the Bourbon Trail

I made a quick trip to Kentucky this weekend to attend a family friend’s wedding reception. The happy couple got married in Salzburg, Austria last month and are now hosting two state-side receptions for friends and family who couldn’t make it to Europe. Thankfully Louisville is about an equal trip from Madison and Charlottesville, so the BF joined me in KY.

It was my first road trip in a while, but it was a pretty trip on the way down, heading straight east.

A shot from the solo drive through Indiana.

A shot from the solo drive through Indiana.

 

We made the most of our time in Louisville, one stop was the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Our first stop was Marker’s Mark. This tour was recommended by our family friend and it did not disappoint! The grounds of the distillery were amazing and the tour lasted well over an hour, we saw how the grains were combined, the fermentation barrels bubbling and the bottling center, which was the coolest. We saw the bourbon filling the bottles, labeled and the hand-dipping of the top of the bottle in the signature red wax!

View from the courtyard at Maker's Mark

View from the courtyard at Maker’s Mark

Bourbon Wagon!

Bourbon Wagon!

The barrels hold the good stuff!

The barrels hold the good stuff!

We even dipped our own bottle in red wax in the gift shop! We also visited the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center, home of Evan Williams and Elijah Craig bourbons, but after Maker’s Mark we’d had our fill.

Saturday night was the reason for our trip, a wonderful reception celebrating an awesome couple! It was so fun we didn’t take a single picture until the last minute of the night, in the driveway, on our way out.

Party People

Party People

The reception had great Kentucky BBQ, some bourbon, awesome homemade carrot cake and great conversation! Then Sunday it was back on the road, heading north to Wisconsin, with my heart thankful for good times with the BF, friends who are like family and enjoying a new place.

 

 


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4th of July Weekend Extravaganza

What a week it has been! Sorry for being MIA, between the move, an impromptu visit by the BF back to Madison, work and the holiday weekend, it’s been hard to find time to keep up! First up, July 4th festivities!

The BF made a surprise visit due to a job interview in Madison today. He was lucky enough to be able to fly in early and be around for the weekend. He flew in early on July 4 and we spent the rest of the day celebrating with my friend from work, her husband and family. Her husband took us all out on their boat! It was a perfect day in Madison, high 70s, no wind and barely a cloud in the sky.

Snapshots from July 4 celebrations!

Snapshots from July 4 celebrations!

I tried wakeboarding, I got up but not for long, haha! It was really fun. We sipped on white sangria throughout the day, it was delicious!

White Wine, vodka, simple syrup, triple sec and fruit - strawberries, blueberries and apples, cut into stars!

White wine, vodka, simple syrup, triple sec and fruit – strawberries, blueberries and apples, cut into stars!

I found the recipe on Pinterest, adapted it a little, and put a couple batches over ice for the day. We had a great BBQ on the patio as the sun went down and caught the fireworks over Blackhawk Country Club in Madison. Memorable 4th of July! I hope you all had a safe and happy holiday!


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Toronto Wedding Weekend

I am back from a whirlwind weekend across the boarder. It was a great celebration with my boyfriend’s family of his cousin and his bride. We flew to Toronto’s City Center airport, a small airstrip by Porter Airlines. I had a great view of the skyline on the ferry from the island airport to the mainland. It’s a convenient and scenic way to fly into the city. We then navigated north of the city to Viamede Resort on Lake Stoney. It is in beautiful central Ontario cottage country and was nestled right on the lake.

A couple snaps from the weekend.

A couple snaps from the weekend.

Perfect weather followed us all weekend. We had a bonfire, complete with s’mores on Friday night. Saturday morning I did a nice trail run with my BF’s cousin, she led us along the frisbee-golf course and through the hilly trails around the resort. It was a challenging run but really nice to mix it up running the trails as opposed to the streets of Madison. We canoed around the lake and went swimming before getting dolled up for the evening.

The bride and groom had a remarkable outdoor wedding right on the lake on Saturday, followed by dinner and dancing. Sunday morning came too quickly and before I knew it I was headed back to Chicago. One amazing detail at the wedding reception were the centerpieces. The groom’s mother, an accomplished artist, handmade the ceramic boats on all 12+ tables. They were gorgeous!

Ceramic boat complete with home-grown grass!

Ceramic boat complete with home-grown grass!

She customized each boat in line with the theme of each table, each a different country where the wedding pair had taken a trip. My boyfriend’s parents were lucky enough to take one home, after purchasing one from the artist. It was a memorable weekend and a great time catching up with my BF’s extended family I hadn’t seen like about 2 years!