It’s been a hot minute since I’ve shared a weekend highlight. One, because last year it felt like a cardinal sin if you had an ounce of fun or socialized with anyone — and this year, is just an awkward light-switch back to normal, so you better be prepared to live life like last year never happened! Sorry, not quite there – and have been taking baby paired with big steps into trying to get back to live pre-19.
But we had the most perfect weekend away, so I just had to share a few highlights from our time away.
Our annual STBC trip. A trip to the cabin means an automatic trip to our favorite spot, Southern Tier Brewing Co. We first went to STBC in 2013, and have made it back almost every year since as it’s our annual tradition. We usually make it there in the fall so that we can enjoy their fall seasonal beers, but we got there a little earlier this year! Luckily they had their fall beers on tap – so I was able to have my fave Warlock. The forecast for the weekend, specifically Saturday was looking like a wash, but we were going to try and arrive to STBC when they opened at 11am, so we could snag an optimal covered outdoor spot since we brought Moz. Well, when we were heading out, the forecast looked like it was clearing up, at least for our morning timeframe. It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly. We got our prime covered, outdoor seat – avoided the crowds – and splurged on some yummy eats and brews! And by the time we left, it was a crazy downpour, so it was seriously the definition of perfect timing.
Homemade, local ice cream! I wanna scream right now — I ate real ice cream… in a cone… and didn’t die! After being diagnosed lactose intolerant almost 6-years ago, I just came to grips that I needed to opt for dairy-free or yogurt-based ice creams to avoid a problem. BUT after going on this gut cleanse, I was interested in trying out ice cream again, I think a big thing that helped is we went to a homemade local ice cream spot near the cabin. I really wanted cookie dough, but they didn’t have the flavor (can you even believe?) so I opted for buckeye and thin mint. Thin mint was definitely where it was at – I wish I had a whole cone of thin mint. It was basically amazing.
Cabin life. Our cabin getaway is a family home, so we are so lucky to be able to enjoy our time away, make memories with a quick drive to the middle of nowhere. Once you arrive at the cabin, you’re just welcomed with a sense of relief — the real world is so far away, even when you’re scanning work emails or posting something for a client. The covered deck is perfect for early morning breakfast and late night game nights with fun lights, tiki torches and quiet ambiance of nature. Even with the rain, being “stuck” inside is welcomed, because either way it’s a retreat and a break from the real world. We love our walks around the grounds, our morning coffee, sleeping in, and making breakfasts.
Between the rain working out with our schedule and being able to get our STBC trip in – to enjoying some ice cream – having a fun game night – and then meeting some fun farm animals at a neighboring farm, the weekend was simply perfect.
I had to come back from my month+ hiatus to celebrate a biggie. Today marks ten years with B… a whole decade, a whole third of my life ♥️! Our first date was on May 5th — and I always just use that date as the start of our relationship, because #FunFact: B never officially asked me out, we just were ever since our first date together.
Looking back, we were pretty inseparable since our first date and I know my when my parents rolled into town that weekend after our first date, and I was asking to go hang out with him at a bar they were like who is this dude? *smiles* There were so many early on signs that pointed to B and I being meant for each other, but I think my favorite was when we “found” each other in a crowd after my first half marathon. B was literally the first person I bumped into, before I could even find my gigantic family who I came with! It was just one of those movie moments that made you all starry-eyed. And if you’ve ever been in the aftermath of a race, you know it’s quite crowded and a sea of people.
Usually, we celebrate with Chipotle — but this year we’ll be making our own chicken lettuce wraps as we wrap up a 30 day gut cleanse and no alcohol, but that’s ok 🙃! We’ll be celebrating in the spirit of last year’s Cinco De Mayo funand dreaming of taco pizza – but at least we’re in it together.
Yes, I dare — and in an effort to being transparent and true, I’m going to focus more on the positive things of 2020, and only a little bit of the negative – because we all know there was a lot of negative. A lot of struggles, a lot of tears, a lot of everything. Before I write this year’s recap, I always like to look back at last year’s recap and I giggled when I read the end of my 2019 recap, it ended with:
“2020 is going to be a big year. We have a lot of big family milestones and a lot of trips brewing in the planning stages. So ready or not, here we come 2020!”
Bee’s 2019 Recap
LOL. It was a big year, a big year with a lot of milestones that sort of got celebrated, lots of changed and cancelled plans, and lots of learning how to deal with the “new normal.” And ironically, the world seemed to end on my 30th birthday, March 16th.
Our big rose of the year was definitely our Jackson Hole trip, which was not decided upon lightly, but also was so beyond needed for our mental health and sanity. It was such a light in this dark and changing year. B and I also celebrated three years married, and conquered a few fun and essential house projects in our extended time at home.
We cherished the nights, days and time we got to spend with friends and family — especially when we could be outside in the sunshine and warmth. We attended a couple virtual weddings, one backyard wedding, two virtual graduations, took a mini road trip in an RV, hosted our first virtual Christmas party (it was so fun!), fell in love with drive-up at Target, and used a ton of hand sanitizer.
Now for some tougher real talk. I’ve always dealt with some extent of anxiety and social anxiety — but this year with COVID, the anxiety has reached a new level. In addition to anxiety of being around people, going out in public and doing things we never thought twice about a year ago, but 90% of the days since March 16th, have started and filled with me thinking I’m sick. A sneeze, a little tickle, a cough, getting warm or feeling cold… constant worry and fear that I’m sick (it’s still happening). On top of that, navigating what everyone is ok with, or not ok with has been another layer of that stress — another thing to explain, cope with, or fight through — which just adds to the anxiety, the chest pains, the overwhelming feeling to just cry.
We’ve been fortunate to *knocks on wood* stay healthy, find joys in the little things, play lots of Yahtzee, and still be able to work remotely through all of this. And now in all honesty, I’m just glad to see the end of 2020 and am cautiously optimistic about the New Year.
B and I are celebrating three years married today! We’ve spent 242 of the last 365 days together in our house, making year three together one to remember. And as much as I always love looking back at our special day becoming Mr. & Mrs. and closing my eyes bringing back those feelings of pure joy and happiness — I also like reflecting on the new year as husband and wife that we have under our belts.
This year has brought on new challenges, for all of us. B has stepped up in a lot of ways, and I’ve been so grateful for that. He’s also learned a bit more about the ebbs and flows of my anxiety, especially my pandemic anxiety. This year has also showed how resilient we both have been to change and adjusting well together over time with the challenges of the pandemic. And a big part of that has been, due to the fact that we’re on the same page, we talk, we ask each other when we need help, take breaks to catch up in the day, look out for each other and still surprise each other with little every day moments.
In this third year together, we’ve become unofficial co-workers, deeply invested in Bravo reruns, have played a lot of Yahtzee, taken more walks with Moz, have stopped setting our alarms on the weekend, we played a lot of golf, took a much-needed risk and jumped on an airplane together, rocked out to Lady Gaga’s Chromatica album more than either one of us may want to admit, and cook at home more than ever.
And as much as I hate the pandemic, and a lot of things about this year — I wouldn’t ever change my partner who I’m so lucky to have next to me day in and day out to talk about all this crazy with, forget about the crazy with, dance and laugh through this life together.
We’re celebrating six years as homeowners! Homeowners may be one of the ultimate adulting moves (besides having kids), as it comes with a mixed bag of unknowns that can be really great and really horrible. This year’s house anniversary tour is going to be highlighting the updates we’ve made this year both fun and not so fun, as we definitely tackled a few while we’ve been quarantined at home!
But, before then — I wanted to share a few of our not so great house moments, since homeownership isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. Before we even moved into our house, our refrigerator busted — that was an automatic couple hundred dollars right off that bat that we weren’t planning on! One of the first really cold winters, we came home to frozen pipes in our kitchen! Since then we’ve learned to run the water over night on those super cold days. Did I mention we live in a 100+ year old home?
Fireplace Hearth Makeover. This was a vanity project that we did pretty early on in quarantine, that was a quick weekend win, once we figured out what tile we wanted! We finally got rid of the original red tile and gave it a lighter update, see the fun before and after here.
New Furnace. This was a not so fun one, but something that B really wanted. The last two winter’s we’ve had to make significant finance repairs to our 25-year old furnace, and B had enough with it! He was able to take advantage of getting a more efficient unit for a decent price with the same company who installed our AC the summer of 2018.
Main Bathroom Budget Update. I loved this project — it was intended to be a temporary update on a space that we will most likely eventually gut and completely redo, so we wanted to make sure this was on a lower budget, while also taking care of a few of our pain points, which were a small, generic counter and sink and the yellowy tiles all over the room. My favorite transformation was painting the tile white, it completely transformed the space! Check out the full makeover here.
Sunroom Flat Roof. This was our least fun project, both from finding a company to do the work to the final price tag. But alas, it was definitely a necessity as we had a pretty decent and consistent leak from our flat roof into our sunroom. Long story short, apparently residential flat roofs are an anomaly and there is a variety of verbiage to describe how to fix these which is super confusing as a homeowner. Thank goodness for good friends with dad’s who are roofers 🎉. All in, we had about 6 different companies quote the project, and consumed about a month of our lives for approximately $2,450. But hey, no more leaks!
Backyard Makeover. Oh, I loved this project. It was definitely under estimated of how much of an impact this would actually make — I didn’t realize how much of a sad backyard we had until this project was complete! We added in some custom beds, edging and modern fences to help hide a few ugly things we don’t have control over. I love looking at our backyard now, it’s so pretty! Click to see the full makeover here.
Office Update. Since working from home has become permanent, my at home office definitely needed a little refresh to be a bit more functional for actually being a home office! This project was low budget, and quick which has made the space feel a bit more complete, even though it’s not pink. See my office update, here!
We’ve had six wonderful years at our house, and it’s always so fun to see how far we’ve come and improvements we’ve made along the way. It’s been a staple of fun memories, parties, milestones, late nights and early mornings, it’s been our home sweet home.
Well it’s been about two weeks since we’ve been back home and almost fully recovered from our incredible trip. Being out west in Jackson Hole, is just unreal. As soon as we landed, it was insane endless rolling mountain views any direction you turn and there was also a huge weight lifted. Waking up at our condo the first morning in Teton Village, was just pure happiness.
As I mentioned in my flight recap, we chose Jackson Hole, because it’s a familiar place. This was B and I’s third trip together and my eighth trip total. So that alone was super special, as I’ve been fortunate enough to essentially grow up going to Jackson Hole with my extended family, creating amazing memories. And now being able to come back with B, for a third time, is just so lucky. Jackson has truly been a safe haven for me, and always deemed a second home with my cousin A, and I couldn’t think of a better time, for when I needed to return to my home away from home than this year. As much of a city girl that I am, and I know my friends will agree, the mountains and Jackson bring out another part of me, it’s that feeling of being safe, feeling alive, and just plain happy. Ok, now queue the mini photo reel below from my years going to JH.
With this being our third trip together, we knew there would be a lot of things we would be able to do safely, and we knew there would just be some things that wouldn’t be happening. We were also perfectly content being in our condo and planned accordingly from a food perspective and even packed our go-to games to have on hand (deck of cards, uno, and yahtzee – yes we are 100). Even still, we had another memorable trip with a lot of great moments, so instead of sharing every single one, here is our highlight reel.
B’s Highlights: Our first night, maybe 30-minutes after being at our condo, we cracked open bubbles/wine and were going to enjoy a happy hour on our little balcony. We were Facetiming with my parents and all of a sudden, B said something and points. And he is pointing at none other than a momma moose and her baby, casually walking by the walkway and over to some bushes for a little afternoon snack – not even 20-feet away from us. It was incredible! We were elevated and surrounded by deck, so we were at a safe distance to watch and admire these two beauties. It was a pretty awesome welcome.
B’s favorite activity was our impromptu Grand View Point hike around Two Oceans Lake and Emma Matilda Lake. We opted for the 4-mile hike towards Grand View Point vs. Emma Matilda, since we’ve ventured there before, so Grand View was a new one for us. We ended up hiking a bit longer than planned and probably rounded out at about 9-miles total — it was an exhausting day. The hike was good, until about the last mile that was just switchback after switchback and a stiff incline. The view was incredible of the Grand Teton range, and we finished up along Emma Matilda.
My Highlights: Our second night in Jackson, we headed up to The Deck on the Bridger Gondola from Teton Village for happy hour. They had mini bottles of my favorite bubbles, so we grab a few from the cafe and scored a bench away from everyone and soaked in the views and laughed the night away. B even teased me that he’s never seen me talk so much, I’m sure it was the bubbles talking a bit, and just being so happy to be in Jackson. We went another night for drinks, but it was a little later than the first time and we were welcomed by a stunning cotton candy colored sunset.
I also really enjoyed our hike around Colter Bay – it was quiet and peaceful and had incredible views of the mountains along Jackson Lake. We took our time exploring and enjoying the views, including finding a nice little spot along the lake for a lunch break. Another highlight of mine, was visiting the Geraldine Lucas-Fabin homestead, established in 1913, this cabin has unobstructed views of the Grand Tetons and is a quiet, off the beaten path spot — we had the whole place to ourselves. I was just so content sitting on her front porch, listening to the trickling of the Snake River and soaking in the mountain views.
We made sure to stop at the go-to spots that are always a must see including the T.A. Moulton Barn which we stopped back for a second time to see it snow covered. Yes! We got a taste of winter on our second to last day there, and woke up to 6-inches of snow — it was absolutely beautiful and felt like a winter wonderland, although the wind storm that brought the winter weather definitely did some damage and took down trees throughout town and even on popular hiking trails.
We also stopped briefly at Jenny Lake, but only at a look out for a quick peak and some photos – as this was definitely a very popular stop, and way to busy for our liking. We even avoided visiting town, except for early mornings and made sure to be in and out to avoid the masses for popular hours like lunch or dinner especially over the weekend. Traffic alone around town and even getting into the park at times was really backed up, I’ve never seen it like that before — even visiting in prime summer season in years past.
We also made sure to wake-up one morning to watch the sunrise at Schwabacher Landing which is another well photographed spot that showcases the Tetons in a reflection of the Snake River. We also got to watch an Elk while we snapped photos of the sunrise, he was in prime photo position and showing off his rack – it was also like 30-degrees at sunrise that morning, so we didn’t stay too long! Speaking of wildlife, we were super fortunate to see our fair share of Moose, obviously our first day, but then we would see a few in the pond along the windy Moose-Wilson Road. One morning, we stopped and probably watched a moose for about 40-minutes, as she ate in the pond, made her way across the pond, up the ridge and right up to the look-out with all of us onlookers! We also saw two bears – one swimming at Oxbow Bend and the other again on the winding Moose-Wilson Road because she ran across the road right in front of us! We were able to watch her along side the road for a bit before she headed further in. We of course saw a few distant herds of Buffalo, and a few Elk in the wee morning hours before when we were headed to our sunrise spot.
We almost perfected our tri-pod selfies during our trip. It was something I decided to purchase once we booked our trip, knowing we would primarily be solo and in need of some good couple shots with the gorgeous backdrops that are ever changing and never ending. Although, we were those people, who when we did ask for a photo to be snapped of us by a stranger, had our masks on and hand sanitizer was out and shared! I know people were looking at me like I was a crazy pants, but hey we still have to be smart and safe. We were also the people on hikes who had our masks on when we passed people, and got way out of the way — again I know our fellow hikers were looking at us like we were being extra.
Jackson is always someplace I dream about visiting and getting back too. It’s always a place that makes my heart melt and makes it so full at the same time. Jackson is a place we will always go back to, because as I mentioned it is near and dear to my heart, with many thanks and gratitude to my extended family for incredible summer vacations. Until next time, I miss the mountains already…
May has been tough, but it’s also had some glimpses of normal — well, what used to be normal. And it’s also had glimpses of “the new normal” as everyone seems to be calling it. May has been a month of slowly starting to see family again, some in normal ways, some in different more protected and distant ways. May has seen some lows and it’s seen some highs. May has also been the last month of the temporary hope of this thing all being over, because this new normal definitely isn’t going away anytime soon. May has even had a few WTF moments.
We started the month off with a little road trip to finally see my parents. It was much needed on both sides. The best part was we were able to make it there in one trip, and hunkered in over the weekend with lots of eats, drinks, board games and laughs and still able to maintain social distance from the world. My mom even surprised me with a homemade birthday cake, so we finally got to celebrate a belated birthday since our big plans in March all got kiboshed. It was great to be together in person, instead of 4-hour virtual chats, and as I mentioned, a much needed visit.
Mother’s Day consisted of a masked and mostly socially distant family gathering with our in-laws and supporting local to shower our mom’s with some special gifts. We also attended not one but two of our first virtual college graduations for my younger cousins, and even a virtual wedding (technically the last day of April)! The virtual graduations definitely had their advantages, beyond just being a new concept — but it also gave us an opportunity to actually attend and participate in these moments when we might not have been able to travel to them before (pre or post corona).
More May highlights included lots of walks with Moz and even a few car rides to the Starbucks drive thru for puppachinos. We’ve also been perfecting our breakfast sandwich making skills, including grilling bacon on the grill in a cast iron skillet along with grilling out local meats from MeatboxLocalto help mix-up our dinner menu. We’ve also finally gotten around to planning a few fun house projects while also reaching out to contractors for a few not so fun projects. We’ve been admiring all of our flowers budding and blooming and all the beautiful green with all the rain we’ve been getting. B and I also celebrated 9 years together with burritos and a brisk walk. We’ve also had fun counting down the days until when we can get our haircuts… which is now only one more week away! The weather also started to feel a lot like summer, so the weekends have been spent outside, like all day, every day — which has been really nice.
The month of May was also a big month for the state of Ohio as they started the phased re-openings early on in the month of May. I was actually surprised at how much started to reopen so quickly. Dentists, veterinarians, retail, dine-in at restaurants, salons, hair dressers and gyms have all been able to reopen (among many other things) this month. And it’s been interesting to balance and start having conversations with family and friends to understand what everyone is comfortable with as things reopen.
As much as I’m craving for getting back to “normal” and back into a routine, there is still a major fear factor — although it’s not a fear of even getting it, it’s the fear of potentially spreading it and also other people’s perception along with trying to be responsible for our community and those who are close to us. It’s a very weird time, but luckily there were a few moments of normal — so I hope that continues to be the case as we jump into June. And hopefully, we can get a trip in still this year. What were your May highlights?
With Galentine’s falling on a weekend, it is the perfect excuse to host a brunch! And for me, there is nothing more that I love than a good brunch — not to mention, I think it’s one of the easier meals to host, while still being able to make an impressive spread that is tasty for everyone. But don’t worry, I have you covered from the menu, recipes, table setting, Valentine’s and decor, too!
When it comes to brunch food, there are a ton of great recipes that are overnight prep so all you have to do the morning of, is stick them in the oven and wait for your guests to arrive! Not to mention both casseroles are easy to prep, don’t require a done of ingredients and cover both bases for those friends who are sticking to a diet or maybe love indulging in a little something sweet! The overnight egg casserole is easy to switch out to be meat free if you’re accounting for any dietary needs. Fresh fruit with brunch is always a must, I like to go with blueberries, strawberries or raspberries – something colorful and health conscious to take away some of the guilt!
Lastly the beverages for your Galentine’s Brunch are just as important as the food! Knowing your gal-pals preferences always helps streamline this, so you can have a mix of Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas or can stick to one. This post on how to create your own Bloody Mary bar can help you make a fun statement and if you’re planning for mimosas, be sure to grab a few extra juices besides the standard, like cranberry or pineapple plus your fresh fruit can garnish these too! Set the Table & Decor. Since it’s your gal pals, keeping the table setting and decor simple, yet fun and festive is key and will also let you enjoy yourself too! Making your own table runner and place settings can help save some money with taking little time and effort on the crafting side, and still resulting in a big impact. This hand painted X’s and O’s table runner, I shared last week is just too stinkin’ cute and is pretty in pink for Galentine’s Day!
Also, don’t let your gals go home empty handed without a little keepsake; these wooden love letter Valentine’s can be customized with everyone’s names or fun little notes like, “U R CUTE” or “BFF4L” or “Ride or Die.” Adding a little note on the back is another way to send a little extra love their way! These will help finish off your table decor and filling these seats, while also bringing a big smile to your pals faces. And snag the colorful cute heart tassel garland from Target for only $6 to add to your table decor or hang in an entry way! Finishing Touches. Getting festive red or pink paper straws can be a fun touch for those Bloody Mary’s or the mimosas. Fresh flowers are always a nice touch if you wanted to switch out your table centerpiece. Don’t forget to set the mood for your brunch with some music, check out my Heart Ache playlist or my emnblovetracks playlist for a mix of all those feelings of love. Heart Ache has a lot of good throw backs, especially some good ones to sing with your gals.
A yearly tradition that B and I do is writing little notes down and placing them into our Memory Jar — but as I like to call it our “Every Day Moments Jar” because it’s more than just memories… we actually write down every day moments. Those moments that are easily forgotten or overlooked and don’t stack up to all of the other big memories throughout the year.
I first made the jar in 2012 as a Christmas gift for B — it was a year we were trying to be frugal with gifts and saving our pennies, so I created a decoupage jar with words, letters and phrases that make up B and I. This made our jar special and unique to us — a lot of memory jars on Pinterest are plain mason jars with a simple label stating ‘Memory Jar’ or ‘2020 Memories.’ Your memory jar is really whatever you want to make it, it could even be a wooden box, but I love making it a bit more special!
To create your own memory jar you could decoupage a mason jar or a jar similar to the one we have like this Libbey® cylinder jar from Michael’s – snag some old magazines, photos or notes and glue to cover the jar using modge podge.
So you have your memory jar, now what? It can be hard to keep up with this throughout the year — so B and I keep this on our dining room table where we eat each night and make it a habit of adding in a note or two every night or every other night. Next to the jar I keep a couple pens and a notepad that we tear pieces of paper from. Adding memories regularly, help capture those funny, thankful, or sweet moments. We even add in tickets, wrist bands or other fun keepsakes throughout the year in the jar as we go.
On New Year’s Day, B and I make time to dump out all our little notes and take turns reading them back and forth to each other. We laugh, try and guess who wrote the other’s note and reminisce on those ones that we forgot about. To keep these notes accessible, I tape them into a journal – filling the pages, so it’s easier to look back and we’ve added to the same journal year after year, with more memories captured in more years than others.
This would also be a great Valentine’s Day gift and won’t be too late to start writing down those memories with your family and loved ones.