windy city

Waldorf Astoria Chicago
I had a quick trip to Chicago and back in about 24 hours earlier this week and while I was there I had the pleasure of visiting the Waldorf Astoria Chicago – what a beautiful hotel; here are a few images, for your viewing pleasure…just look at that chandelier in the lobby! Waldorf Astoria Chicago

Waldorf Astoria Chicago

by Valerie | 11.20.15 | Travel | No Comments »

Weekend Getaway and All Hallows’ Eve

Up North - October 2015We spent a really fun weekend in northern Michigan; we saw some beautiful sites and were pleased to see there was still plenty of amazing fall color. We visited Kilcherman’s Christmas Cove Farm, where they not only have an impressive selection of antique apple varieties, but they also have one of the largest pop bottle collections on display; we chatted with one of the owners, who was so kind and friendly – she said her husband had gotten into growing antique apples because he used to play baseball in the orchards. When I asked her what her favorite apple was, she explained that they didn’t have it anymore as the tree had died after the hard winter they had, but we did take home her second favorite apple and a selection of a few others too. Kilcherman's Christmas Cove Farm

Kilcherman's Christmas Cove FarmWe also stopped by the Gwen Frostic studio; such a charming little place and what beautiful paper products filled with images of flora and fauna! It was almost too perfect, as we were checking out a little chipmunk darted across the shop floor – to which the staff happily commented, “He lives here, he’s getting ready for the winter.” Before we left, we also made it to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, some beautiful hiking trails, Fishtown, and no trip to the area is complete without a stop for pasties and apple dumplings at Mr. Foisies

Up North - October 2015Up North - October 2015Fish TownUp North - October 2015Melody was happy to join us on our adventure too. And we enjoyed celebrating Halloween and making DIY masks during our weekend getaway as well. Up North - October 2015DIY Halloween masks

You can view more photos from our weekend here.

by Valerie | 11.02.15 | For Funsies, Holidaze, Princess Puppy Pants, Travel | No Comments »

suddenly, it’s October


Suddenly, it’s October; it seems as though it snuck up on me somehow. Ryan did an artist talk at Savannah College of Art & Design this week and our friend, Lisa Waud, is doing this amazing project and was featured on Martha Stewart…hey, I know them! In other news, the fall weather is still really beautiful here and there’s definitely that cool, crisp, fall nip in the air; I’m just itching to turn on our fireplace for the first time this season and I might just have to do that over the weekend. I’m loving Oktoberfest this time of the year (Wolverine and Great Lakes make a good one!) and the amazing selection of antique apples here in Michigan too – we picked up an assorted bag of them at a local grocery store the other day. Finally, I wish you all a very happy college football weekend…unless you’re routing for Baylor, in which case I really hope you lose (go Red Raiders, wreck ’em Tech)! fall leaves

by Valerie | 10.02.15 | Around town, For Funsies, Travel | No Comments »

camping trip

Camping Trip 8/2015We took a camping trip over the weekend and visited Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio; the scenery was nice, the company was great (first time camping with Melody and we had friends join us too), and the weather even cooperated. I did really enjoy most of the hiking and my personal favorite spot we hiked into was Ash Cave (you can view a short video I took here). And then there was the part where I crawled on all fours up the “stairs” (more like well-placed rocks with no railing along a cliff), ate “breadsticks” (hot dog buns with garlic butter and melted cheese) and pizza out of the back of our car in a parking lot, witnessed some very questionable fashion choices (the mullet to end all mullets is out there…I know, because I saw it in Ohio), and saw a man driving down the highway with his left leg dangling out the side of his Jeep as if that was how everyone drives a Jeep…totally normal…nothing to see here… My co-worker shared this with me this morning, which had me laughing so hard I almost cried. You can view more photos from our trip here. Camping Trip 8/2015

Camping Trip 8/2015Camping Trip 8/2015

by Valerie | 08.31.15 | For Funsies, Princess Puppy Pants, Travel | No Comments »

So nice to be up North…

Up North - October 2014

We spent a fantastic, long weekend up in northwest Michigan in the Traverse City area. I honestly don’t think I can come up with the appropriate words to really describe how breathtakingly beautiful it was up there (especially with the fall color on display)! As you may already be aware, fall is my favorite season – so this weekend I was in my happy place…seeing the fall views all around me (so much color!), wearing sweaters and scarves, enjoying a warm fire (don’t forget the s’mores -we had those too), stopping at an apple orchard (more on that below), etc. I was like a kid in a candy store and it was great! Why can’t I stop using exclamation points…yep, fall does this to me, I can’t contain my excitement!!!

We spent some time hiking around where we stayed (Lake Ann, MI) and also enjoyed a hike in Sleeping Bear Dunes, we drove around and stopped in Leland, visited the L. Mawby and Big Little tasting rooms, made it out to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, and did a bit of shopping and dinner in Traverse City too. The lakeshore colors are stunning and it was beautiful watching the waves crash along the shoreline.

We are lucky, here in Michigan, as there seems to be no shortage of apple orchards to visit and enjoy this time of year. I had the pleasure of visiting an orchard that was like none other I’ve been to before; one of the highlights for us was stumbling upon Kilcherman’s Christmas Cove Farm where they grow and sell antique apple varieties. I was fascinated at how many varieties of apples they had available – most of which I’d never heard of or seen before. We picked up 3 small containers to take home of Sheepnose, Spitzenburg (supposedly Thomas Jefferson’s favorite), and Ashmead’s Kernel apples; we ate Almata (these are pink on the inside) and Macoun apples on the spot, before we got back to the car. They also ship gift boxes and the woman who rang us up was the owner’s granddaughter – so charming and such an interesting stop along our way.

You can view more photos from our trip here.

Kilcherman's Christmas Cove Farm

Up North - October 2014

Up North - October 2014

Up North - October 2014

Up North - October 2014

Up North - October 2014

by Valerie | 10.20.14 | For Funsies, Travel | 1 Comment »

Deep in the heart of Texas


We took a long 4th of July holiday and enjoyed a wonderful vacation/road trip to Texas to visit family and friends – had lots of fun, great food, and even better company during our trip! About 20 hours from our home to our final destination and then we turned around and drove back after about a week and a half – yes, that is a LONG time in the car, but we were able to bring Melody along with us which made it all worthwhile. I sometimes forget how much I miss it until I’m back there – the sky, the land, and most importantly the people we love. You can check out more photos from our trip here.

State line

Approaching storm

Fun on the 4th

Gatesville, TX

Gatesville, TX Courthouse

by Valerie | 07.09.14 | For Funsies, Travel | No Comments »

Smile for the camera!

B'nai Mitzvah

As I mentioned in my post here, it was so nice to visit with family in El Paso a couple weeks ago and I enjoyed snapping some photos while we were all together too. Here are some of my favorites… You can find more online here.

B'nai Mitzvah

B'nai Mitzvah

B'nai Mitzvah

B'nai Mitzvah

B'nai Mitzvah

B'nai Mitzvah

And thanks to Debbie for getting this one!

B'nai Mitzvah

by Valerie | 06.10.14 | For Funsies, Photography, Travel | No Comments »

marvelous mitzvah

El Paso - early summer 2014

The photo above is a view of the Franklin Mountains from Temple Mount Sinai, in El Paso, TX, where we enjoyed a wonderful long weekend with family, celebrating my mother-in-law’s and Ryan’s Aunt’s (and 4 others in their group) b’nai mitzvah. It was great to get back to Texas too, but I didn’t miss that blazing hot summer heat – the high in El Paso yesterday was listed at 108! After a very long, very cold winter here though, I must admit that the warmth of the sun and that blue Texas sky were a sight for sore eyes. Even some of the plants look like they’re on fire; we saw lots of cactus, lantana, and this plant in the photo below (anyone know what this is?) all over the place there.

El Paso - early summer 2014

And a trip to Texas is never complete without some Texas BBQ and cold, Texas beer to wash it down with – thank you Rudy’s BBQ! You can browse more photos from our trip here.

Rudy's BBQ

Rudy's BBQ

by Valerie | 06.04.14 | For Funsies, Travel | 1 Comment »

Happy New Year!

This was my view of the last sunrise of 2013 and it was quite a beautiful one! We flew home on New Year’s Eve and even managed to stay up until midnight, even though we’d had only 4 hours of sleep the night before and a 2+ hour flight delay in Dallas on our way home. We arrived home to snow and even more snow followed on New Year’s Day. This was my view of the last sunset of 2013…

The fresh-fallen snow really is beautiful…makes the world feel clean and fresh and inspired us to do the same and start with a good house-cleaning on New Year’s Day. We took a walk in our neighborhood and breathed in the cold, clean air and listed to the crunch of snow beneath our feet and just enjoyed our first walk of 2014.

by Valerie | 01.04.14 | Holidaze, Travel | No Comments »

Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso

We flew to El Paso, TX for our Christmas holiday to spend time with family. It was nice to get some sunshine and some warm weather for a change! Unfortunately, all of us were sick for some portion of the Christmas vacation, but we are all finally feeling better and on the mend. Despite our under-the-weatherness, we were able to visit some of our favorite spots and do some of our favorite things while visiting – including eating some delicious Mexican food, a visit to Old Mesilla, Whooppee Bowl antique mall, and seeing some dear friends. Tomorrow, we head back to A2 – where the forecast calls for a high of 21 and snow. I haven’t had to wear my coat, hat, or gloves since we arrived in El Paso 10 days ago, but I’ll have them ready for when we land tomorrow. Happy New Year’s Eve eve!

by Valerie | 12.30.13 | For Funsies, Holidaze, Travel | No Comments »

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