Last week, Eddie and I took a couples trip with some friends and we went to visit The Bourbon Trail in Kentucky. I went along because I knew it would be a fun time with Eddie and our friends, but I didn't anticipate enjoying the tours and tastings as much as I did! I don't normally drink Bourbon straight, but I do enjoy an Old Fashioned when I'm having a cocktail and I really enjoy doing fun things with my husband, so I knew we would be in for some fun.
Before I start sharing, I have to preface this by saying I did ZERO planning for this trip. Our friend Carlos planned everything start to finish, and we basically showed up! His biggest suggestion is to plan in advance and book any distilleries you want to visit as far out as you can. We found that we got the most out of tours, rather than just tastings.
We stayed at the historic Seelbach Hotel. It is an older hotel but it is clean and well-maintained, plus it has SO much history (it's also said to be haunted!). It's also well-located in downtown Louisville and you can walk to a lot of places from there. The hotel's concierge is a historian and we saw him while we were there. There are some beautiful rooms you can visit with some very cool stories - think Prohibition and Al Capone.
We also rented a car - there are a few distilleries in Louisville, but we also wanted to visit Frankfurt and Bardstown.
On Thursday we woke up early and made the drive to Frankfort (it was just about an hour from Louisville). We headed straight to our first distillery of the day. You can watch a recap of our day here.
Watch a recap of our day here.
Watch a recap of our day here.
There you have it! All the scoop on our trip to Kentucky! Is this a trip you would take?
Eddie and I took an adults-only trip to Minneapolis this past weekend, and we had a great time. When I started posting on social media, I had a few people ask me, "What made you choose Minneapolis?" Truthfully, Minneapolis is not a place that would ever really have been on my radar, but my friend Suzy and her husband were planning a trip to visit her sister and her fiancé, who live in Minneapolis. We figured it would be fun since we would be with friends, and we would explore a city we'd never been to before. Eddie and I were pleasantly surprised with how much we liked the city. It's cute, has a great restaurant scene, and is very clean. Some of the neighborhoods are very suburban, but so walkable and with little cafes and restaurants sprinkled in.
Anyway, here's a recap of what we did.
We stayed at the Moxy Minneapolis Uptown. Moxy is a Marriott-owned brand, but it is NOTHING like other Marriott hotels - and I don't mean that in a bad way! I would describe it as urban chic - the check-in desk is part of the hotel bar, there are neon signs all over the place, and there are games you can play in the lobby including foosball, ping pong, and jenga. I gave a little room tour in my stories (you can watch it here). The rooms were definitely on the small side - it's a boutique-style hotel - but we had a king bed and basically anything we could need. The shower was a great size (this is something that Eddie and I talk about with every hotel stay), and most importantly, everything was super clean. The rooms do not have a coffee maker, but there is free coffee in the lobby, so that's perfect. It's not in downtown, but the location is good for walking around - there are a couple cute street for walking and it's in walking distance of a couple lakes that we had a chance to walk around. There is also a gym located in the hotel.
Eat & Do
We arrived Thursday evening, checked in, and headed to The Butcher's Tale. Obviously this place has a big focus on meat. I started off with the Butter Pecan Old Fashioned and it was very good. We had the Sausage Sampler Platter, Smoked Jalapeños to start off. For the main course we went with the Beef Long Rib and we all shared sides: Wild Mushrooms, Buffalo Steak Fries, Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread, and Sour Cream & Chive Mash. They were all excellent, can't go wrong with any of it, honestly. We had dessert, too. Eddie and I had Pistachio Cream Puffs and they were just the right amount of sweet and light after a very heavy meal.
For breakfast we ate at The Black Walnut Bakery twice. It was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel, but trust me when I say, WORTH IT. The quiche and the Chocolate Pistachio Croissant were too good for words. Browse their breads and pastries because man oh man they are good.
After breakfast one morning, we took a walk to Bde Maka Ska Lake/Park & Lake of the Isles. It was a great way to let breakfast settle and get some steps in. Then we headed to Stillwater.
Stillwater is a city on the west bank of the St. Croix River, across from Houlton, Wisconsin. Stillwater is often called "the birthplace of Minnesota" due to its role in the establishment of the state. It was established as a logging town, so a lot of the town's history is based around that. It is very cute and very picturesque. We walked downtown and popped into a few shops. We walked the Stillwater Bridge and crossed into Wisconsin for a few minutes on foot. We had lunch at Feller - the salads were delicious. Then we did a 45-minute trolley tour and got to see some of the historical aspects of Stillwater, which was fun. We ended our outing with ice cream and malt shakes at Leo's Malt Shop.
For dinner, we headed to another city called Wayzata, located in Hennepin County. It is about 9 miles west of Minneapolis in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area. Situated on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, the city is popular among boaters, shoppers, and restaurant goers. There are a lot of waterfront spots here, so if that's your jam, make sure you head to Wayzata. We had dinner at COV, which was beautiful, and the food was so good. Try the chicken wings, cauliflower fries for starters. I went with sushi for my entree, and it was fantastic.
The North Loop is in downtown Minneapolis and is a nice area to walk around. We popped into a few shops, including Allbirds, which had just opened a few weeks prior.
We walked over the Hennepin Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River (built in 1855!) and ended up in St. Anthony Falls. We strolled around there for a little and grabbed some drinks and a quick bite at Aster Cafe.
For dinner, we headed to the iconic Manny’s Steakhouse - a classic steakhouse in downtown Minneapolis. It's actually one of the Top 10 Steakhouses in the US, according to the Zagat Guide. Everything was so good, including the service!
We finished off the night with drinks at The Hewing.
We gave ourselves a slow start on Sunday and then headed to Mall of America. It's a mall, and you might be thinking, "Why would you go to the mall?" Well, this happens to be the largest mall in the US and boasts a theme park right in the middle.
We had brunch at Cedar + Stone Urban Table. It was delicious - don't miss their breakfast potatoes!
The mall is also very close to the airport, so we were able to kill some time while we waited to head to the airport. And a note about their airport - it was one of the most organized and efficient security areas I have ever been through!
We're grateful we were finally able to get away for a little bit, and we're even more grateful for our friends who made this trip wonderful (and also for the grandparents who watched the kids so we could get out of town alone!).
We had an awesome time, and if you're looking for a place to visit that's not super crowded and run by tourists, you can definitely add Minneapolis to your list!
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Valentine's Day is around the corner, and although I'm not huge into Valentine's Day, I know a lot of people are! Also, our anniversary is at the end of the month. And while we typically try and do a weekend getaway for our anniversary, sometimes we like to do a date night that's a little different, too. And because we like to get out of town, we don't want to spend tons of cash on a fancy dinner.
So I've rounded up a couple of ideas for dates you can enjoy that won't break the bank! We have done most of these at one time or another. Some are really simple, others require a little more research, but they're all fun and can all be done for way under $100!
A couple of years ago, on Valentine's Day, we decided we didn't want to go to crowded restaurants anymore. So we decided to go to an area of Miami where you could park your car right up in front of the water, and we had ourselves a picnic. We picked up stone crabs (one of our faves), brought some wine, and some prepared sides from the grocery store deli. I brought a couple of candles and we had a moonlit & candlelit picnic on the water, looking at Miami's skyline. It's probably one of my favorite Valentine's Day memories.
A Drive-In Movie
There isn't a drive in theater in every city, but if you have one near you and you've never been to one, it's pretty fun! It transports you to another time, and you can bring your own snacks and food.
A Dance Class
I know, there are some places where dance classes can cost an arm and a leg. I'm not talking about that. In Miami at least, there are half a dozen salsa studios where you can go and take basic salsa lessons for $15. It's a big group setting, and after they teach you the basics for that course, they do open floor dancing. I took these classes in middle school and I loved them.
Check Groupon for this! Some tastings can run a pretty penny, but in our area for example, Groupon typically has a special for a local winery where you can have wine tasting for two including two souvenir glasses, for about $35.
Find yourself an old school lounge or bar where they play live music. Grab a drink at the bar, and enjoy the sounds. I love to listen to live jazz music, and there are a couple of hotels where they have that regularly. Just do a quick search and I'm sure you'll find some in your area! (Maybe you can even put those dance lessons to good use!)
So get planning! Would love to hear some of your favorite inexpensive date night ideas!
This is the busiest time of the year, right? So I'm crazy for telling you to stop, breathe, and enjoy the moment. But I'm not. As a matter of fact, even though I have things to do, I felt compelled to sit down and tap this out for you. Because if I don't tell you, will anyone?
Last week, I was like you... make lists and checking them twice. Finishing Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, editing photo sessions, preparing for a vacation with two legs on opposite sides of the country. Forgetting. Forgetting what Christmas is all about. I was being swallowed up by Christmas. I was bickering and I was not spending enough time with my son and my husband.
And then God, in his infinite wisdom, sent me a sign that said, "SLOW DOWN." What might that sign be, you ask? Caleb and I both got sick. The most convenient way of slowing down? Definitely not. But it gave me a chance to pause. It gave me a chance to think about what I was giving importance to this season. And I wasn't giving importance to the right things.
But getting sick made me stop. It made me spend time with Caleb. Real, quality time that I had been neglecting. As much as it pains me to say it, I had been letting him run amok and then freaking out because I had to pick up after him a thousand times a day and correct his behavior BECAUSE I WASN'T PAYING ATTENTION TO HIM.
So I napped with him. We sat on the couch and colored together (relax, they were Ultra Washable markers). I watched Frozen with him and we made commentary on the movie together (yes, Frozen fever is currently happening in my house). I sat and ate lunch with him and talked to him through the meal.
And while he still had a few moments of toddler rambunctiousness (if that's even a word), overall, his behavior was so much better, even though he was sick. And I realized, I've been a terrible mom lately. I've been so busy and I allowed the busyness of the season to catch up with me.
Last night, after nearly coughing up my lung, I decided to take a steamy bath, and while I was sitting in there, I realized that getting sick had been my biggest blessing in disguise this Christmas season. So I prayed, and I gave thanks, and this morning I woke up with a renewed sense of thankfulness and joy. Joy to last me through Christmas and far beyond. Because really, while we pile all these unnecessary things on ourselves, we are forgetting the meaning of Christmas. And whether that meaning for you is the birth of a Savior, or the closeness of family and loved ones, I'm pretty sure it's not about being busy. And let's be real - I still have a to-do list. But I'm a lot less stressed about getting it done. Because at the end of the day, it always gets done - because you're pretty amazing.
So in the next few days, mama, take a break. Enjoy your kids. Make a mess with them. Take a bubble bath. Snuggle up on the couch with your significant other. Watch your favorite Christmas movie - together, without thinking of the 75,000 things on your to-do list. There will be time to check things off your list tomorrow. And if the gifts don't get wrapped? Tell them Santa ran out of wrapping paper. ;)
A long time ago, Eddie and I made a promise to one another. After hearing about several friends' relationships ending, we talked about what some of the things were that drove a wedge between those couples. When relationships end, it's not usually one factor - there are typically many reasons that make a relationship reach its final stages.
One thing that we kept coming back to was the fact that many of these couples didn't go to bed together every night, despite living in the same house and not being away from one another for long periods. Not that the husband was out until all hours of the night, not that the wife stayed late at the office. They just didn't go to bed together most nights. Why? One stayed up late watching TV in the living room while the husband went to bed. Another worked on his computer until 3 am while his wife slept. Still another stayed up late doing Pinterest projects while her husband stayed in bed waiting for her.
So we decided that in our marriage, we were going to make every effort to go to bed together as many nights as possible. It's not always easy, but we have made it a habit. I had recently started my photography business, and was finding that nighttime was the best time for me to do my editing. But I quickly pulled in the reins on that and discovered other systems that worked for me and my editing. Some nights I would love to sit at the computer and edit my photos without having anyone interrupt me. Other nights I want to decompress and sit in a dark, quiet house and watch whatever TV show I feel like watching or read a book until 3 am. But as much as I want those things, my marriage takes priority over them.
So every evening, Caleb goes to sleep and we get to unwind. We'll usually watch a TV show or two and then decide to go to our bedroom. Sometimes we have to shower, other times we have to pick up the room, still other times one of us will shower while the other is doing something else in another part of the house. But 9 nights out of 10, we go to bed within 5-10 minutes of one another. There are exceptions, of course - I'm not saying I never stay up late by myself - but this is our norm.
And it's not about sex. It's about intimacy. It's about ending your day feeling the closeness of the one person with whom you have chosen to live this life. It's ending the day playing footsie, or enveloped in a hug, or having a tickle fight (because we're all adults here and this is obviously the most mature thing ever). It's about having a conversation about your day and connecting to one another when there isn't a little human between you.
This is also why, once Caleb was old enough and we both felt comfortable, we made a conscious choice to not let him sleep in our bed anymore. He was moved to his crib, and unless he wakes up crying and screaming, that's where he stays. In the mornings, we all cuddle together and spend some time in bed as a family, but our nighttime routine is ours.
Like I said earlier, I can't attribute whether or not a relationship is successful to this one factor, but it is a factor that we have found makes a difference in our marriage. And as long as we keep this promise to one another, there is the understanding that we will continue to work for and choose our marriage over everything else, every day.
Try it, you never know what it will do for you!
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