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?

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?

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:

London!

I have been wanting to give you some recaps from my vacation (we got back two weeks ago) but will be perfectly honest and say I have also been dreading it! It’s so darn overwhelming. BUT, I want to share the goodness of my adventure so I pulled myself together and got to work. I decided to break it down city by city to keep us all from getting too overwhelmed.

I’m kicking it off with London because that’s where we began our journey. Oh, glorious London how I love you. When people ask me my favorite part about London, I almost immediately want to answer “the people.” To begin with, everyone spoke so properly with their beautiful English accents, but the best part was, everyone we encountered was so friendly.

On our first day, we were those tourists walking around the city with our luggage pulling behind us, wandering fairly aimlessly as we searched for our hotel. We knew the vicinity, but just couldn’t find it. Finally, I asked a gentleman if he could help. He wasn’t sure of the exact location of our hotel but he pulled out his smartphone and got searching. He pointed us in the right direction and wished us luck. Considering the lack of sleep and jet-lag at this point, a friendly person who could help us find our hotel (and get some food in my belly) faster, was someone we were lucky to find.

Once we found our hotel room we quickly ordered room service and loaded up on a burger. We needed fuel fast or we weren’t going to make it too long. Before heading back out to explore the unknown, we decided that a nap was a must if we wanted to appreciate anything the rest of the day. We both conked out for a good two hours.

K, I’m done narrating every detail. Let’s move on to the good stuff.

The sights

Our hotel neighborhood in Trafalgar Square. Our hotel is on the far right of this photo. The Hilton Trafalgar. I really enjoyed this place. The location was incredible. We were able to use FF miles for this hotel otherwise it was out of our price range FYI.

london

The London Eye. As touristy as it is, it was worth it. It was fun going up in the little bubbles and getting 360 views of the city.

london

london

Big Ben. I’ve never seen a more beautiful clock. london

Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guards. So, we went there on our second day and found out that in the colder seasons they only do the huge presentation of the changing of the guards every other day. We came back the next day though and saw the whole thing.

It was so cool thinking that at that moment we were there, the royal family could have been hanging out by the fire, sipping on some coffee in fancy cups, and chatting about the weather.

london

london

There were two marching bands involved in the changing of the guards.

london

london

The parks. This one is called St. James’ Park and was right outside of Buckingham Palace. Hyde park is a popular one as well. They are all beautiful.

london

Neat buildings at every turn.           DSCN7042

Fancy shopping at Harrods. Obv I didn’t buy anything there except for lunch there. This store houses every chic brand you can think of.

Check out the well-dressed doorman! Fun fact: Princess Diana’s boyfriend Dodi’s dad used to own Harrods.

london

Westminster Abbey. A major highlight of our trip. This is where the royalty get married, where they have their grand funerals, and where many of them are buried. Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin are also buried here, among many many others. The detail in this church is indescribable. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside.

london london

 

I felt the magic when I walked down the same royal aisle as Prince William and Princess Kate had just years ago.

royal wedding 2

 

source

Of course, The FOOD!

London had some of the best food! We found a cute restaurant called Happenstance after both being freezing cold from the rainy London day. We nestled into our spot and I ordered a Butterbean burger and Dana ordered the duck flatbread pizza. We shared a side of mushy peas. When in London!

DSCN7061

Hot chocolate and coffee. Their chocolate is just incredible and makes for the perfect hot chocolate. It’s perfectly sweet, rich, smooth. Oh my gosh I want one. I tried having one back home and they just aren’t the same. Dana thinks it’s because I’m not on vacation that they taste different at home, but I think it’s because of the chocolate! It’s probably a combo actually.

london

My favorite dinner the whole trip: Indian Food. We met up with some friends of Dana’s who live in London and enjoyed and absolutely delicious dinner together. We all split a cauliflower dish which was to die for, naan, and I ordered chicken tikka masala. So insanely good!

london

london

 

Fish n’ Chips. We haaaaad to get fish and chips. We found a whole in the wall little Fish n’ Chips place, split an order of the fried cod, and were both super happy with our meal. The fish was amazing, the fries were just meh. Actually I found that pretty much every where. They served a lot of fries or “chips” in Europe. They weren’t salted and they were thick cut compared to what we see in the U.S. They were all just okay to me but that didn’t stop me from eating them.

london

 

That was a bit of a “in a nutshell” London recap post as you can see, but in order for me to keep this from becoming a novel, that is what is going to have to happen! I adored this city. If you ever get a chance to visit London, please do!

Favorite Food in London, Bruges, and Paris

I really want to begin my vacation recap posts, but am still slightly overwhelmed by the thought of it. So, I am going to ease my way into it by covering one of my most favorite topics…food.

Figure-friendly foods were not on my agenda for this trip. I was looking for macaroons, crepes, baguette, cheese, and hot chocolate, and that is exactly what I found.

Below are photos or some of my food highlights from the trip from London to Bruges to Paris.

London

The hot chocolate. It’s soooo much better in Europe (or maybe it’s just better on vacation?).

hot chocolate

Chicken Tikka Masala. OMG. I’ve had Indian food in the past but was never blown away by it, but this totally changed my mind. I couldn’t get enough of it! It was one of my favorite meals of the entire vacation. I can’t wait to find it at home now!

chicken tikka masala indian food tikka masala, naan

Butterbean burger at Happenstance. This picture does not do the burger justice. Have you ever thought of taking butterbeans and making them into a burger? I certainly have not but it is a brilliant idea. I devoured this burger. butterbean burger

Fish and chips. We had to; we were in London after all. Dana and I split a filet and we both really enjoyed our meal!

IMG_0288

Bruges

French Onion Soup (called onion soup in Europe). You all know I adore this stuff. I also had French onion soup on the plane ride out to London as well as two other times on the trip. Four times total. I love my onion soup!

french onion soup

Paris

This meal was actually from a day trip to Fontainebleau. We traveled out to go see a beautiful palace only to find out it was closed for construction when we got there. Not to mention, it was raining and cold. We found a cute little steakhouse and settled in for a burger and onion rings aka the best onion rings I’ve ever had.

IMG_0355 burger

Back to Paris…

Our favorite bread shop was called Coquelicot because look at it….

coquelicot bread paris

It’s perfection. It’s exactly how I would picture a Parisian bread shop. They make their bread and pastries in-house and everything is always so fresh and the place is always packed. Many days, we would buy a loaf of baguette for lunch along with some cheese and apples. I really looked forward to this lunch.

bread and cheese for lunches in paris

Crepes with nutella and banana. Need I say more?

nutella crepe

Crescents. Nearly every day. So buttery and flaky!

crescent rolls

Macaroons. I channeled my inner Blair Waldorf while eating these.

macaroons

This chocolate mousse. It tasted like the filling of a French silk pie. I was in heaven eating this. Ahhhhh so good.

chocolate mousse

More Indian food. We were actually planning on having Chinese food this night but the restaurant we walked to was closed so we had to find something else. I was once again so impressed with my meal. It was a rice and vegetable dish.

indian food vegetable rice

Check out the ambiance…

indian restaurant paris

In Paris, the boys had a couple of crocque monsiers. Ham and cheese sandwiches with an egg on top.

croque monsieurs

Oh yes, more baguette.

french baguette

And more onion soup. Don’t mind if I do!

french onion soup

My favorites: Indian food in London, the onion soup on our last night in Paris, the chocolate mousse, and the nutella crepe.

Needless to say we ate very well on vacation.

If you were in London or France, what food would be on your “must eat” list?

I’m linking up with Katie for Friday Favorites too! Thanks, Katie!

Back and Jet-Lagged!

Oh, heyyyy!

I’m back…and I’m jet-lagged!

I told you I wanted to “unplug” for a while but what I didn’t tell you was that I was going to be unplugging while in Europe!

Last night we arrived home from a 12-day vacation to London (four days), Bruges (one day), and Paris (seven days). Holy cow I don’t even know how to recap this trip.

The palaces, the churches, the art, the food, the crepes (!), the people, the stinky metro, the views, the beauty, the history, the 60°F weather.

st.chapelle sacre coure  eiffel tower

french onion soupthe top of arc de triumph

 

There was so much beauty seen on this trip.

 

It may take me some time to gather all of the pictures and recap these amazing memories, because this was indeed a trip of a lifetime.

I am keeping it short and sweet for you all today; I really just wanted to say “hi” and let you all know what I was up to. As much as I loved being on vacation, I always enjoy coming home to family and friends and the comforts of home. I missed my normal American food. I missed my smoothies for sure! I missed my bed. But mostly I missed my family, friends, and puppy.

My body will be thankful once it is back on central time zone time, well-rested, and back to a clean whole-food diet! Waking up at 3:30 this morning with a cough and feeling like it was 9:30 am in Paris meant my body was ready to be awake = not enough sleep for me last night. But waaah waaah I was just on vaca for 12 days. I’m not complaining.

Oh, and one confession. I didn’t completely unplug. I did check facebook, read up on a few blogs, and check email in the evenings in the hotel however I tried SO hard not to participate in any FB, twitter, or Instagram action. Meaning, I had to sit on my hands so I wouldn’t hit like on all of your photos. So even though I didn’t 100% unplug, it was a huge disconnect compared to what I am used to. I didn’t have my phone with me at all during the day! :smile:

I missed you all! I hope you have all been well. What did I miss while I was gone?

Facing My Fears: Skiing at Lutsen Mountains

I can’t remember the last time my entire body was this sore. My quads, calves, triceps, biceps, back. Sore. Getting out of bed this morning was a chore.

But it was so worth it. This weekend Dana and I headed up north to Lutsen, MN with our friends Adam and Stacy.

To those of you who aren’t from Minnesota, Lutsen is a popular ski area in Northern Minnesota. It is absolutely gorgeous. Adam and Stacy got married at the top of one of their mountains!

We made the five-hour trek up on Friday afternoon and on Saturday we hit the slopes.

I haven’t skied in ten years. To say that I was terrified would be an understatement. I was afraid of falling, of getting stuck on the chair lift, of not being able to stop at the bottom of the hill, of going too fast and running into someone on the hill. I’m a big ol’ worrier if you haven’t noticed.

To those who told me it’ll come back to me and it’s like riding a bike…it’s not. First, I don’t know if I ever had proper lessons when I skied when I was younger. Second, I was much more fearless when I was younger. Intermediate hils? Sure. I didn’t care. I was closer to the ground and more resilient then, so it wouldn’t hurt as bad if and when I fell. Plus, I had to keep up with my skier friends. :wink:

But now, I’m wiser and a much bigger baby.

Luckily, I was skiing with two very seasoned skiers (Dana and Stacy), who walked me through the basics to insure I didn’t crash into anybody at the bottom of the hill, break my legs, or get stuck on the chair lift.

We started on the bunny hills. I did a whole lot of pizza’ing (“wedging”) the skis. Slow and steady wins the race. Once I felt a bit more confident, we headed to the real hills.

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Adam…

lutsen adam

Melanie…

lutsen melanie

Stacy…

lutsen stacy

 

I was taught to use the entire hill; doing large zig-zags all the way down and to wedge my skis when I felt I was going too fast. I got real nervous when other snowboarders and skiers were heading my way. This is when I would panic and surrender and usually fall on my rear or faceplant.

I felt pretty good though as I skied down the green hills; they were slow and involved some cross country skiing.

I even did okay on a couple of the blue hills but some of the blue ones gave me terrible anxiety. Standing at the top of the hill and looking down and seeing a steep slope gave me the heebee-jeebees. Going down the hill was the only option though if I ever wanted to get back to the lodge. I wasn’t really into the idea of camping out on the hill for the rest of the weekend being as it was absolutely freezing on Saturday and I didn’t have any food or drink. :wink:

My support group guided me down the hill and I made it to the bottom after a few tears of doubt. Seriously when did I turn into such a big baby?

Come 3:30 pm, I was completely spent. The emotional and physical demands of the day had finally gotten the best of me. I cozied myself in the chalet as the rest of the group finished out their last runs before the hills closed.

We stayed in a lodge that was located right in the middle of all of the hills; a ski-in, ski-out lodge. This was SO nice because we could take breaks throughout the day as needed to warm up and thaw out. Chili and a fireplace at lunch time was a lifesaver!

After our day of skiing, we relaxed in our warm lodge, fire blazin’, showered, and grabbed some grub. Then we made our way over to Papa Charlie’s Grill for some live music. Has anyone heard of The Honeydogs? Their band started in St. Paul and they are a lot of fun! The only song I recognized was called “I Miss You.” Stace- thanks for forcing me out on the dance floor. I should have said yes a lot earlier because I had a blast dancing!

lutsen papa charlie's honey dogs

I was ready to crash by about 9:30 pm but managed to stay up and enjoy the band for a couple more hours before heading to bed.

Sunday morning we packed up our stuff, admired the fluffy fresh snow that was coming down, and headed home.

lutsen

I’m thinking that I probably need to start skiing more often than once every ten years. I think that with confidence, I could really enjoy skiing. Confidence and warmer weather. This negative fahrenheit business is getting kind of old.

Thanks to my support group for the ski lessons and helping me out this weekend (that includes you too, Adam). Without you I would have been down in the chalet all day! The only way to get better is to practice.

Fun fact: I learned about the spelling suffix of the word “ski.” I was skiing in the mountain. I skied this weekend. Confusing, but I guess it makes sense if you think about it.

Happy day my friends! xoxo

Have you ever skied? If so, did you like it?

Vaca Part III: Cruise to Ensenada

Hello, hello! It’s finally time for the third and final vacation recap. I started out on Vancouver Island, then worked my way down to the city of Vancouver, then to Seattle, and then hopped on a plane to California.

So now here we are in Glendale, California. Finally the temperatures are warm and there is no rain. We put away our raincoats and pulled out our swimsuits.

We stayed in Glendale for two nights as we got acquainted with a group of travel agents that Dana works with. We were both so happy to meet so many kind people and a really fun group of people too! This would be the group we would be hanging out with much of the weekend ahead.

On Friday, we headed out to board our cruise ship, The Golden Princess. This was a three-day cruise with one stop in Ensenada, Mexico. This was my second cruise but it had been about ten years since I had last been on a cruise and this was Dana’s first cruise so he was excited to see what it was all about. The travel agency was hosting a conference on the ship, so as Dana attended the conferences in the morning and for parts of the day, I got to relax and do whatever I wanted!

We found our room on the plaza level and I was pleasantly surprised at how spacious the cabin was.

Outside our window we saw dolphins which were jumping so close to the ship (!), whales that were really far in the distance, and seals!

cruisecruise cruise cruise cruise

We got all situated and unpacked our belongings before heading out to explore the ship. Not too long after we boarded the ship we were all called into the main showroom where they walk you through what to do in case of emergency situations (aka if the boat sinks). You can’t help but think of Titanic in this situation–ironically I had watched that movie just a week before our trip, but shut it off before the ship started to sink. I was not about to have nightmares of a sinking ship!

Every evening we got to get all dressed up and head to dinner with our group. We had the late dinner at 8:00 pm which was stretching it a bit for both Dana and I, so every afternoon at around 5ish we would head to the buffet and grab some snacks to tide us over.

cruise

cruise

Dining room:

cruise

Four course meals: shrimp cocktail, French onion soup, tofu pad Thai, and chocolate sundae! The menu changed every night.

cruise

cruise

cruise

cruise

Other views around the ship:

cruise

cruise

cruise

Here’s what my day would look like: when Dana was at his conferences I would wake up and eat breakfast first and foremost. Usually oatmeal with peanut butter, fruit, and a couple bites of yogurt.

cruise

Then I would make my way to the gym and cross my fingers that an elliptical was available. I got one every day but I had to make a couple of laps around the ship while I waited. I had time, NBD. I would do my thing on the elliptical while watching some TV and admiring the beautiful ocean view, then head back down to our room, shower, relax, and then eventually I would make my way to the deck for some sun.

At lunch time, Dana’s group would break and we would enjoy lunch together. He wasn’t busy with conferences everyday all day, so I did get to see him quite a bit thankfully.

There were always tons of activities going on the ship at all times: basketball tournaments, relays at the pool, art auctions, health presentations, spa indulgences, etc. However, I chose to partake in the laying by the pool and reading my book activity for the most part. I did watch some of the other activities though.

On Saturday we reached Ensenada, Mexico where the cruise was docked and we were able to get out and explore and be on LAND! We took the opportunity to snap some photos of the ship.

cruise    cruise

 

The city of Ensenada was pretty rundown, with a lot of children and women trying to see you trinkets and chiclet.

cruise

 

We wandered around the city in the 90 some degree heat, but as much as I enjoy hot weather, it was just too hot for me. My head was starting to ache and I couldn’t chug the water fast enough.

We did have to make one stop at a hole in the wall bar called Cantina Hussong’s. Years ago, Dana’s dad used to go surfing with his buddies in Ensenada, and they would frequent this bar when they went so we had to go for nostalgia sake on behalf of my father in law!

ensenada cruise

 

Then after walking through the gauntlet of children back to our boat, we finally made it back safe and sound.

On the last night of our cruise, we had someone else take a photo of us all dressed up before dinner so we could have proof that we did indeed dress up in the evenings.

cruise

 

As much as I tried to eat healthy on this cruise, it was challenging to say the least. Food was available 24/7 along with endless amounts of desserts and ice cream. The first two days I only allowed myself dessert in the evening, but the last day was a wash. French fries, pizza, ice cream….these all made an appearance on that last day. I splurged.

I’m happy to report I didn’t get sea-sick on the boat. I wore my sea bands on the first night just as I got used to the rocking, but all-in-all I was just fine. I came fully prepared with dramamine, saltine crackers, and hard candies, but luckily I didn’t need them!

It was a whirlwind of a vacation going from point a to b to c to d, but I LOVED it! We got to see so much in 11 days. Dana did such an incredible job planning this trip for us once again.

There…I am finally done recapping the vacation I took nearly a month ago now. :smile:

Happy Wednesday my friends!

Sidenote: It’s National cruise week this week so there are GREAT deals on cruises. If you are interested in booking reach out to at beautifullynutty@gmail.com and I will get you in touch with my husband.