Babymoon/Anniversary Getaway

Oh, HEY!

So last weekend Dana and I took a mini getaway babymoon/anniversary celebration to La Crosse, Wisconsin. Yea, we got real fancy this time around. My travel distance is limited at this time, so we made do as best as we could and we had a great time in doing so!

If you all recall, I completed my dietetic internship in La Crosse. It is truly a beautiful city and while I was there I tried to enjoy it, but I was pretty sad about being away from home especially after just being away for five years for my undergrad program so I didn’t soak up the beauty as much as I could have.

I wanted to go back because La Crosse truly is a beautiful city. It’d been three years since I had been there! Geez how time flies!

On our way out there, we stopped in Maiden Rock, WI to take in the views and we stopped at an adorable bakery along the way. We split a cardamom roll which was insanely good! Who would have thought, right?

We took in the gorgeous bluff and river views along the way…maiden rock wisconsin

After 3.5 plus hours in the car, I was one swollen girl. I haven’t experienced much pregnancy swelling until this point, and my feet, ankles, and hands were all pretty beefy. Once we got to La Crosse and shoved some food in our faces, I made sure to put my feet up.

Shredded pork wrap…

lunch at waterfront

We drove by my old apartment and I reminisced along the way.

We made sure to stop by the famous Pearl Street Ice Cream Parlor. Ice cream with homemade waffle cones on one side, and this candy goodness on the other. Willy Wonka anyone? Can I buy a Wonka bar?

Pearl Street Brewery Pearl Street Brewery Ice Cream

Night one was fairly quiet. The whole thought around the weekend was that it was meant to be relaxing, and that it didn’t really matter what we did. So, I made sure to bring my cozy socks and wrapped myself in one of their over-sized white robes, and Dana and I watched some shows and played some games.

Saturday

Saturday was much more productive. We started the day by going to the farmer’s market which was right outside of our hotel along the river. It was super-duper chilly but we still managed to buy an acorn squash (baking as I type actually) and wax beans (yellow beans).

For lunch we went to Dublin Square and I had one of the best veggie burgers I have ever eaten in my entire life. It had walnuts in it and that’s all I know. I ordered mine with green olives, cheese, and tomatoes on top. So GOOD!

walnut burger La Crosse

We made our way to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe which was stunning. We went to a mass and walked around the area. It was so calming and peaceful. Plus, I got my “hike” in from my fall bucket list! We had to hike up a hill for about 15 minutes to reach the shrine. It’s amazing that a 15 minute hike is now such a huge accomplishment. I can’t wait to get my cardio stamina back!

shrine of our lady of Guadalupe

We made sure to make a stop at Viterbo University where I completed my internship, and also drove by the hospitals and clinics where I did my rotations. It was fun to see it all again, but I am so happy that it is over with!

On Saturday night we celebrated our three-year wedding anniversary with a fancy French dinner at Le Chateau. This restaurant is in an old home that is quaint and romantic. Not to mention the food is dynamite. We cheers’ed to three years with my sparkling apple cider and his wine.

fancy anniversary dinner at Le Chateau

For starters I ordered butternut squash soup and Dana got escargot. All I could think of was Pretty Woman while Dana was eating the escargot. He said it was really good!

For our main dishes, we ordered gnocchi with edamame and roasted tomatoes in a brown butter sauce. Dana got the same thing except he also had scallops on top. On the side we ordered brussels sprouts with prosciutto.

dinner at le cheateau

We had WAY too much food! It was so good but my stomach is pretty pinched right now so I can’t fit too much in there at one time! This main dish was so delicious. That brown butter sauce was a major winner.

Sunday

We relaxed for a long while in the morning then made our way home. On the way home we stopped in Lake City at an apple orchard (another one of my fall bucket list items!) and although it wasn’t an orchard where we could pick our own apples, we were still able to purchase fresh apples directly from their on-site orchard. I still need to find an apple cider doughnut though!

apple orchard

 

We grabbed lunch and ice cream on the way home.

It was quite the weekend and the perfect getaway for us! I loved every second of it—even the swelling. :wink:

I meant to post this post yesterday and was planning to link up with Becky’s Treat Yourself Tuesday because there were a whole lotta treats this weekend, and even though it’s Wednesday I’m still going to!

Have you taken any weekend getaways lately? Where did you go?

What’s your favorite way to use orchard apples? I’m planning on making apple crisp but I’m pretty sure I’m going to have leftovers still!

Favs: Family, Baby Shower, & Fall

It’s Friday, oh yeaa oh yeaa. Yea. Woo! It’s Friday favorites time, so let’s get to it.

1. This was a week ago now, but packing up the car and heading up north for my brother’s wedding. I loved being able to pack as much stuff as I wanted, listen to music, chat with Dana, and take as many stops as needed on the way up. I was SO excited to get up north and relax.

packed car

 

2. The cool weather of northern MN, hot bonfires, sweatshirts, pontoon rides, and the view of Lake Vermillion.

 

blankets up north

 

3. Being with my family all weekend and welcoming my new sister-in-law to the family.

 

 

siblings scott and nicole wedding

 

4. Dancing…

 

dancing scott and nicoles wedding

 

5. My first baby shower thrown by my work ladies. This little guy is going to be so spoiled and so well-dressed!

 

mom and melanie baby shower

 

vest  baby shower

6. Fall decorations. They are all up and I am ready for the cool weather again. Fall is my FAVORITE! It officially starts next week! BTW Fall is one of those words that if you look at for too long it starts to look like it’s spelled wrong and just looks goofy.

 

fall decorations

 

Happy Friday to you all! I’m linking up with Katie and Clare today for Friday Favs! Thanks ladies!

Camping Recap: Food, Fun, and Muddy Camp

Hello again!

How was your 4th of July weekend? Mine was exhausting but a lot of fun.

On Thursday morning we packed up our car (literally packed to the top), and headed up north to Grand Marais to go camping with 23 others.

The beauty of northern Minnesota is something that everyone needs to experience. The air is fresh, the lake is stunning and mystical when the fog rolls in, and the trees surround you every which way. It is truly wonderful.

I didn’t keep my phone on me this weekend hardly at all which was GREAT, and therefore didn’t get many photos. I will show you what I’ve got but also wanted to include my camping post from last year because I took way more photos last year and was in the same general area.

Dana and me at Gooseberry Falls as a pitstop on our way up north.

dana and melanie gooseberry falls

Camp

Our shared campsite. Dana and I bought a huge tent for ourselves this year (ours is on the right). It sleeps nine people and we had two air mattresses set up in there. Don’t judge. I call it glamping; glamorous camping. We shared our site with Adam and Stacy, our travel buddies.

campsite

glamping camping tent

The Weather

The weather was beautiful on Thursday and Friday, but made a turn for the worse starting on Friday night after the fireworks. It rained all night on Friday, cleared up in the morning on Saturday and then started raining midday again and didn’t stop. We decided to pack up one night early and start our trek back home. So, just like nearly every year, we packed up a muddy wet campsite in the rain, amidst the hungry mosquitos. That my friends, is not something I wish upon anyone.

The Fun

BUT…..besides that last clean up mess, the weekend was so much fun!

We walked down by the water and watched the kids throw rocks into the lake; something they could have done for hours on end. We walked into town and enjoyed some beverages at a rooftop restaurant and bar and soaked up the sun and the view of the lake. We watched a super cheesy parade. We sat right underneath the firework show and were in walking distance back to our campsite afterwards (this was amazing because I was seriously sleep deprived that day. I was in bed within 20 minutes of the last firework going off). We relaxed by the campfire. We ate doughnuts from World’s Best Doughnuts. We went to Sven and Ole’s. We laughed a lot. We ate a lot.  We made the most of the rain. It was really a great weekend.

Camping Food

I put myself in charge of camping food for Dana and myself. Here is the menu I came up with:

Breakfast

Homemade peanut butter granola for breakfast every morning was SO good. The only ingredients were peanut butter, honey, granola, cinnamon and vanilla!

granola breakfast

Dinners:

Boy scout dinners on night one. For this one I started with two sheets of aluminum foil per packet, then added 1-2 teaspoons of butter followed by onions, potatoes, hamburger patty, carrots, worcestershire, garlic powder, salt and pepper. We tossed them on top of the fire for a while and let them do their thing. These babies were really good.

boy scout dinner

boy scout dinner camping

On night two we had the option of either veggie quesadillas or burgers but since I hadn’t realized that we were going to be going out for dinner one night, I had one packed extra meal. I thought it would be better to eat the burgers and bring the veg quesadillas home because they don’t have any meat and would last longer. So on night two we had burgers on the grill over the fire with cucumber salad!

Dinner #3 was fresh fish and chips at a cafe down the road from our campsite. They were so fresh and tasty! We grabbed this dinner after we had packed up our site and before we started our journey home.

Lunch:

For lunch we had peanut butter, apple and colby jack cheese sandwiches. Sounds totally random, right? That’s because they are, but honestly they were really good!

Snacks I brought:

  • Homemade Chex mix
  • Watermelon
  • Havarti cheese slices
  • Potato Chips
  • Pistachios
  • Gummies
  • Carrots
  • Apples

Snacks I ate that other people brought:

  • M & M bars
  • Special K bars
  • Jelly beans
  • etc.

My gut was insanely mad at me by the end of the weekend from the excessive sugar, but I sure had some delicious treats!

It feels good to be back to my normal routine again and I’m loading myself with healthy goodies.

That is my camping weekend in a nutshell. Now I am off to tackle at least three more loads of laundry (we’ve already done four).

What were some highlights of your weekend?!

Did you watch fireworks?

Did you enjoy any delicious food or fun beverages?

Marathon Weekend Photo Recap

This weekend I was up in Duluth to watch Grandma’s Marathon and the Garry Bjorkland Half Marathon. Our friends Nate and Adam were running the half-marathon, Dana was running his first full marathon, and Kevin his second!  I was incredibly excited to cheer these guys on!

We got up there on Friday and took a stroll down to the water. We battled the wind and the cold air but still managed to steal a few beautiful views. Friday was chilly: high 40’s and drizzly.

grandma's marathon 2014

Friday night we all tried getting some sleep after an awesome baked ziti dinner.

Saturday morning it was time to get our cheer on. The temps ranged from high 40’s to low 60’s throughout the course of the day.

We watched the half-marathoners come in at the finish….

Nate!

grandma's marathon 2014

Adam!

grandma's marathon 2014

Then we made our way to the marathoner’s 19 mile mark.

grandma's marathon 2014

Kevi stopped for a quick little stretch…

grandma's marathon 2014

Dana at mile 19. I was so happy to see them both at this point.

grandma's marathon 2014

Kev at mile 24.5….

grandma's marathon 2014

At the finish!!

grandma's marathon 2014

Dana at the finish. Both guys looking great still!

grandma's marathon 2014 grandma's marathon 2014

Seeing my guys come across the finish made me all emotional again. I am so darn proud of them. What an amazing achievement!

grandma's marathon 2014 grandma's marathon 2014

Congrats to ALL of the runners this weekend. You rock my socks.

New York in 29 Hours

Holy cow what a great weekend! It was so completely exhausting but so incredibly worth it.

Let’s begin the weekend recap by showing off the fabulous items I won from Caroline’s giveaway a couple of weeks ago! I won a pair of new balance shoes which are super comfy and light weight, and a super roomy New Balance tote/gym bag. I still can’t believe I won. Awesome giveaway!

new balance shoesnew balance bag

On Friday morning, Dana and I were off to New York for my cousin Stephanie’s wedding. Our flight was at 6 am which means I was up at 3:30 am. YIKES!  By the time we got to our hotel, hung out with the bride to be and bridesmaids (btw I felt very honored to have been able to hang out with them as they got ready!), grabbed lunch with Dana, and finally got to check into our room, I was pooped. It was only about 3:00 and I knew that if I was going to survive the evening I needed a nap.

I napped, got ready, and was ready to go to the wedding! I realize I didn’t take a full on photo of my dress but in case you were wondering, the dress I went with (I didn’t go with Rent the Runway) was a black cap-sleeved adorable dress from Kohl’s. I felt it flattered my growing body very nicely and I felt pretty in it. I wore a white chunky floral necklace, cream heels, a red clutch, and even sported red lips!

melanie and dana new york melanie and dana new york

My drink of choice for the evening was sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice. :smile:

The ceremony and reception were so beautiful. The weather was perfect. The couple was stunning. The view was insane. It was a great wedding!

steph and jeff wedding ny

new york skyline

melanie and steph new york stephs wedding

Another huge congrats to Steph and Jeff! I am so happy for you both! xoxo

On Saturday we met up with the gang for lunch and then it was time to head to the airport. Back home we went.

I slept super well on Saturday night back in my own glorious tempurpedic bed. I woke up Sunday morning ready and raring to go and in some serious need of physical activity. My body was tired of being cooped up on that plane!

I soaked up the sun and got in a nice long walk.

flower

I’d have to say this was what you call an epic weekend. New York in 29 hours…done.

How was your weekend?! 

Have you ever taken a trip this quick?

PARIS

Okey dokey it’s time to get this Paris recap on the boards seeing as I got back from vacation over a month ago!

I am going to do all of this in one post so bear with me as it is A LOT of photos and might I add that this is only about 1/15th of the photos I actually have. So while I will do my best to recap Paris in a nutshell, I will more than likely miss some things and will try not to become long-winded. We did a whole lot in one week!

After Belgium, we took the train to Paris, where our lovely friends Adam and Stacy were meeting us. They had gotten to Paris one day ahead of us.

On our first day, we got acquainted to the city a bit, went to the metro station (Gare du Nord I believe?) and bought our Paris museum passes. These passes were around 60 euro a person and got us into a bunch of different museums and sites around Paris. I highly recommend it. We definitely got our moneys worth out of it and a plus is we always had access to bathrooms which was very nice.  

Gare du Nord melanie adam stacy train station

On our first night we had tickets to go to the Moulin Rouge for an evening show. moulin rouge

The inside was very red, velvety, showy, and packed with tables and people. We didn’t do the dinner option but we did get a half a bottle of champagne per person included in our ticket price. moulin rouge

Moulin Rouge is spendy but it is a must-do if going to Paris if you ask me. Yes the show is a little risqué (probably not the best idea for kiddos), but it is all part of the culture and the ambiance of the theater is something you must see.

Pantheon

 

pantheon

Eiffel Tower

I adore the Eiffel Tower, especially at night. It is magical. In the evening it lights up and sparkles every hour. Talk about romantic! eiffel tower eiffel tower eiffel tower

This is the memorial site of where Princess Diana’s vehicle crashed the night of her death.There were notes written in the cement giving respect to Princess Di. Flame of Liberty

Sainte-Chapelle This church was absolutely stunning to me. The stained glass everywhere took my breath away. sainte chapelle

Notre Dame Cathedral

So cool.

notre dame

My favorite bakery where we bought bread a few times for our lunches. bakery paris The dome mall called Galeries Lafayette. It is an upscale department store. paris mall

I loved the walls in the lingerie section covered in tulle. So feminine. paris mall

Champs-Elysées

A street full of shops and cafés from the ritzy Cartier to everyday normal people stores like H & M and Gap. It is so fun to say Champs-Elysées [shahn zey-lee-zey]. Notice the photo-bomb. Nice.

Champs-Elysées

Arc de Triomphe

We decided they were either cleaning it or fixing it. Either way it didn’t make for a very pretty view.

Arc de Triomphe

We climbed to the top and got more great views of the city. Arc de Triomphe

The Thinker at the Rodin Museum rodin museum The Thinker

The Sacré-Coeur  This beautiful church (which we called our Parish while in Paris), was right down the street from our hotel in the Montmartre neighborhood. We all mutually agreed that sitting on the steps with some beverages and snacks, people-watching, enjoying the view of the city, and watching guys trying to sell mini Eiffel Towers while watching for police, was one of our favorite moments of our trip. It was so relaxing!

Sacré-Cœur sacre coeur

We visited the Père-Lachaise cemetery where Jim Morrison and Chopin (among others of course) are buried. jim morrison grave

We visited the Louvre Museum of course where we got to see Mona Lisa in her (or his?) finest.

the louvre   mona lisa

Jardin des Tuileries

I think this is where we were at least. We were at a tiny fountain a little ways down from the Louvre. We stopped for a snack and to decide on our plans for the rest of our day. Jardin des Tuileries

A day trip to Palace of Versailles. This is a MUST when visiting Paris. Everything about this royal château is unbelievably stunning. versaille   versaille versaille

Haribo gummies. The foodie in me had to snap a photo. Haribos are so good! haribo gummies

K, I know I’m missing a bunch here.

We also went to Musée d’Orsay.

We toured part of the underground sewage process of Paris for all of about five minutes before we all felt like we were going to ralph. This was a for real tour and it was included on our Paris pass.

We attempted a trip to Fontainebleau to visit the Palace of Fontainebleau. We took a train out to it; it is 35 miles or so away from the city of Paris. Little did we know that upon our arrival we would find out it was closed for construction and of course it was pouring. But, we ended up making a great day out of it anyway by finding a cozy little steakhouse and enjoying lunch before heading back.

We went to dinner every night at the brasseries except one night when we ordered pizza in. SO GOOD!

For lunches we would usually just buy a loaf of bread, some cheese, and apples and call it a day.

We stopped at cafés for coffee, hot chocolate and vin chaude (hot mulled wine).

We went into a ginormous fabric store and looked at all of their super pricey fabrics. We walked, we climbed stairs, we rode the metro, we took the trains.

We enjoyed baguette and french fries at nearly every meal.

Ok I need to stop. Yes, I’m sure I’m missing some things here but I feel bad that this post has gotten so long. Thank you for reading (if you’re still with me that is :smile:) and sorry if this post took five years to load! Talk about photo overload.

As you can see Paris was simply amazing. We were so lucky to be able to spend our time there with such great friends!

Au Revoir for now my friends!

QOTD: Have you ever been to Paris or plan to go someday? 

We’re Talking Sunshine

Minnesota got snowed on yesterday if you haven’t yet heard. This isn’t out of the ordinary for April seeing as we got snow in MAY last year, it’s just never welcomed. I can’t complain a whole lot because where I live we just got a dusting of snow, but the northerners got up to a foot! Yikes!

I am looking forward to this weekend because it is supposed creep back up into the 60’s. I’m ready for the summer dresses and flip-flops!

So I was thinking, in lieu of Throwback Thursday, and due to the fact that I am dreaming of warm and sunny weather, I am putting together a post of some of warm weather memories. Let them take you to a warm sunny place in your head (if you’re in the cold climate like I am still) and dream of days soon ahead full of sunshine. Some are from last summer, some are from warm vacations.

Turks and Caicos

Warm sand between my toes, refreshing clear blue water, stand-up paddle boards, and lounge chairs.

tbt turks and caicos

Miami!

Bienvenido a Miami! I always find it so amazing that I can take a three-hour plane ride which brings me to such warmth and sunshine. I love Miami!

tbt miami

Eating desserts outside and getting free wine with two of my favorite blends!

Need I say more?

tbt blends

Dinner at Mill Valley Kitchen followed by a family photo in our lush backyard!

When the weather is warm, I love eating outside!

tbt family photo

Bike Rides

tbt bike

Picnics

tbt picnics

Camping and hiking

I have a love/dislike relationship with camping. I love it when the weather is perfect, I dislike it when it monsoons on us and a moat forms around our tent.

tbt camping

Spring weather will be here soon!

What are you most excited to do in the warm weather?

I am Grateful

I’m grateful for so many things, and I don’t express my gratitude nearly as often as I should. As always, I am so grateful for my family and friends. You make my life wonderful. life is only as good I am thankful for the warm sunshine. It rejuvenates my soul and feeds my body with the Vitamin D it so needs. melanie orlando I’m grateful for Moose. Even though he annoys me like no other sometimes, the majority of the time he is hysterical and keeps me smiling. moose moose moose I’m grateful for my passion for cooking and experimenting with healthy ingredients and creations (like this sweet potato gluten-free crust). carrot crust pizza I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I have to travel and explore the world. There is so much to see and do, I can’t wait to see it all! turks and caicos Melanie I am grateful for Young Living Essential Oils. They have opened my world to a new way of treating headaches, anxiety, cold and flu, etc. Let me know if you want me to order anything for you! medicine cabinet makeover I am grateful for my chiropractor who keeps my spine in line and helps me to feel my best. I am grateful for my acupuncturist who I see weekly. My sessions help me relax and ease any tension that I may be holding on to. My list is much greater than this but it is a start. I have a lot to be thankful for. Now, it’s your turn. What are you grateful for?!

Weekend Recap: Blends Do Chicago

Oh boy. Let’s talk about this past weekend. It was epic. I flew out to Chicago to meet up with Katie, Caroline, and Becky for a highly anticipated girls’ weekend.

You’re about to get my weekend recap in one post so I hope you’re ready for it!

Katie and I flew out from Minneapolis and into Chicago around noon on Friday. We booked it over to meet Caroline as she exited her flight and we all went crazy when we reunited. The four of us haven’t been together since September at the Healthy Living Summit six months ago! But what’s great about our friendship and our relationship is that no matter how long we have been apart, we catch up right where we left off.

Becky lives in Chicago and was a fantastic host! We anxiously awaited her arrival at the airport. We repeated the whole greeting shenanigans and our faces were plastered with smiles the whole drive back to our hotel. Reunited and it feels so gooood!

You better believe there was a ridiculous amount of good food consumption that happened this weekend. It started in our hotel room. Katie broke out the Chex Mix and it tasted better than ever. I was SO hungry!

Next we walked to an Italian marketplace called Eataly. They sell every conceivable italian product I could think of (olive oil, pasta, chocolates, balsamic vinegar, etc.) but also have restaurants throughout, as well as sections dedicated solely to nutella and gelato. This brought me back to my honeymoon in Italy! We ate gelato everyday on our honeymoon!

We settled on the vegetarian restaurant and quickly devoured the complimentary bread. Oh yea, this weekend was not gluten-free.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

I ordered the vegetable soup. I wanted something light since it was 2:00 pm and our dinner reservations were at 7:30. I didn’t want to get so full that I couldn’t eat dinner plus I wanted to save room for dessert back at the hotel!

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Before heading back to the hotel, Caroline and I strolled down the street to a quiet cafe to catch up. I love love love these girls and made sure to express my feelings the entire weekend. I am lovey dovey and you guys know that.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Back to the hotel room we went to relax for a few hours before dinner. Enter: Becky’s sinful brownies. Six pounds of brownie madness. That is 1.5 lbs per person if I did my math correctly. Good thing we didn’t eat the entire pan over the weekend. But seriously, these things were insane. I preferred not to know what was in them but she shared the recipe so I had to find out. I still enjoyed them just the same!

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Friday night was our romantic dinner at Nellcote to celebrate Caroline’s birthday. :smile: Seriously the ambiance in this place was amazing. It was elegant with dim lighting, chandeliers, and candle light. So cozy and romantic!

After eating our weight in brownies, none of us were too hungry, so we decided to split a bunch of menu items. We split a margarita pizza, roasted brussels sprouts, creamy mashed potatoes, and potato gnocchi with lamb.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago #blendsdochicago blends do chicago #blendsdochicago blends do chicago

The food, the conversation, the ambiance….everything was perfect. We retired to our hotel room where we were calling it a day at 10:30 pm. Flying wears a girl out!

The next morning we all got a workout in before heading out on the town. It was time to do some shopping. Becky took us to Shop900 which is off of Michigan Avenue but not nearly as crazy busy as the magnificent mile shops.

But first a pit stop or two.

Coffee…

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Duh. We had to see the bean!

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

And take group selfies. #nerdsreunited

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Then it was time to shop. We hit up Banana Republic, Lululemon, J. Crew, and Nordstrom Rack.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

All of the shopping surely worked up our appetites. We waited an hour for a table at Giordano’s and it was so completely worth it! Authentic deep dish Chicago style pizza. Yes that is what we wanted and that is exactly what we got.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

After lunch we continued walking (we walked a lot on Saturday), shopped a bit more, and finally made it back to our hotel.

Katie helped me apply my first set of Jamberry nails!

jamberry nails

The first time applying them was pretty lengthy but I think that with practice I could make the process go much faster. How cute are they, right?! Katie is a jamberry nail distributor so if you’re interested in ordering any adorable wraps for yourself, send her an email!

We got prettied up and made a stop at Becky’s before going out to dinner. I swear it seems like all we did was eat this weekend but there was a lot of walking and relaxing involved too!

Before dinner I got to meet Becky’s sweet pup Mitchell. He’s famous over on her blog so I felt honored!

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Next up. Dinner at Mercadito, a fabulous Mexican restaurant.

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Again, none of us were feeling super hungry so we went with an order of guacamole and salsa and an order of the chicken tacos to share. Some of the best chicken tacos I have EVER had! The combination of flavors involved were so pleasing to the ol’ taste buds. Once again my tummy was happy.

IMG_0805

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

#blendsdochicago blends do chicago

Unfortunately my energy level was failing. I called it a night after that—I slept terribly the night before and don’t do well on little sleep as you are all well aware. I went back to the hotel room, got cozy and hit the hay.

This brings us to Sunday. We woke ourselves up bright and early (again not enough sleep—theme of the weekend) and made our way to the Little Goat for breakfast. What’s great about traveling with foodie bloggers is you know you’re going to have a good meal since Becky picked all of them out.

My body still felt stuffed from all of the food consumed over the last 48 hours, so I decided to go on the lighter side. I split a cinnamon roll, split an order of bacon, and ordered myself a fruit parfait.

IMG_0814

Everything was delicious.

The weekend seriously was as amazing as it sounds. I miss these girls already. We’re already discussing our next meeting place!

 

Continuing our European Journey: Bruges, Belgium

I have quite the recap for you all to come this week from my incredibly amazing weekend in Chicago with my girls, but before I get to that, I need to continue to tackle my European vacation recaps.

Today, we’re talking about Bruges, Belgium.

After spending four days in London, we hopped on a high-speed train to Bruges, Belgium where we would be staying for one night. We figured we were so close, we may as well go check it out!

bruges, belgium

The train actually took us from London (through France) to Brussels, Belgium. Then, we got on a different train and headed to Bruges. If I remember correctly, the total time on the trains was around three hours.

When we arrived in Bruges it was raining, and it continued to rain for most of the day. That didn’t stop us from enjoying our time there though. Bring on the rain coats and umbrellas.

They have beautiful canals that run through the city. When the weather is nicer, they have lots of boat rides along the canals. We saw one going while we were there but they people all looked miserably cold. I wasn’t too enticed by that idea.

bruges, belgium

We dropped off our bags at our hotel and headed towards the heart of the city. We were both starving and on a hunt for some grub. The city feels small, but it actually holds more than 116,000 residents. We were only in the “city” area however and most live outside of the city. Coming from London, the city felt especially small.

bruges, belgium

We made it out of the rain and found a seat in a packed brasserie. I needed hot food in a bad way, so obviously I ordered the onion soup.

bruges, belgium bruges, belgium

We sat (closely) to a man who us from Bruges. I asked him where we should buy chocolate in the area. He told us to go to the Pierre Marcolini shop, and that’s just what we did. I neglected to take any chocolate photos (still can’t believe I did that) but there was chocolate EVERYWHERE. Talk about my dreamworld. Belgian chocolate is incredibly well-known, and now I know why. It is perfectly smooth and sweet but not too sweet and so pure. I loved it!

They are also very well-known for their lace, and we noted a handful of lace shops as we walked up and down the streets. We spent much of the day looking around the shops. The city was bustling with weekend visitors, but not so crowded that I was going nuts.

bruges, belgium

Later in the afternoon we regrouped in our hotel and took a little siesta to refresh ourselves before the evening. Let’s talk about this hotel for a sec. I wanted to live in this hotel!

Imagine being chilled and tired from a day out in the rain and coming home to this room…

bruges room 1.jpg

bruges room 2.jpg

We stayed at the Hotel Goezeput. Our room was on the top floor and I adored everything about it. The vaulted ceilings, the windows, the layout, the bathrooms, the heater. It made me want to get into my sweats, grab a cup hot chocolate, and hibernate for the winter. So, so cozy! I would highly recommend this place to anyone looking to visit Bruges.

After our siesta, we headed back out to enjoy the city.

As we were walking along looking for a happy hour home, I spotted one with a fireplace. Being that I was still pretty chilled to the bone, there was no doubt in my mind that was the place we needed to be. We settled into our table by the fire, ordered our libations, and enjoyed some free olives. YES! Why don’t all restaurants give free olives. I loved this!

bruges, belgium

Dinner that evening was just mediocre, and in fact I don’t even want to spend time sharing the photos because I just wasn’t impressed. But it didn’t matter. We were SO enjoying our time in Bruges.

Our walk home to the hotel in the evening was stunning. All of the buildings were lit up and magical.

bruges, belgium

The next morning we made our way to the train station for our next journey to Paris. Of course, it was sunny and beautiful. Still chilly though.

bruges, belgium

bruges, belgium

Breaking up the big cities, London and Paris, with Bruges was a seriously good way to go. It had such a laid back, comfortable feel, and it was so worth the trip, even for just 24 hours!

Keep your eyes peeled for my final post about our European vacation: Paris! I don’t know how on earth I’m going to fit that into one post! It may be a two-part deal. :smile: