A Weekend in South Haven Michigan

There’s something incredibly soothing about the faces of old friends. When life and career paths pull you so far away from those people you mesh with best, little can beat sweet reunions, where your paths cross once again, and where conversations ignite like no time has passed between you.

Two weekends ago, the hubs and I caught an early flight to Chicago, where we were greeted by Sam, the first friend we made upon moving to Boston. Coming from Michigan, Sam arrived bright and early, excited to show us around his home state. We drove north, chatting and laughing at his silly puns, as if we only saw each other just last week.

Our day started right with a delicious lunch and a pint at a southern Michigan brewery. After filling our bellies with delicacies and laughs, we continued our reunion with another round, in the beautiful, sunny 75 degree weather, playing cornhole and enjoying each other’s company. pup
The reunion quickly doubled as we welcomed friends from Wisconsin, and said hello to the newest member of their family. Cornhole and drinks continued, as we enjoyed the sun, running around in the grass with Francis, our friends Matt and Sophia’s adorably handsome son. And again, just like with Sam, it felt as nothing had changed. Our conversations still flowed just the same as they did in Boston at the local pub at 1:00 am, but this time, we just had another Von Rueden there to love.

That night, the last of our group made it to town, along with their pup who made me wish desperately  that our Heidi girl were small enough to fly. We sat outdoors wrapped in sweatshirts and blankets, chatting until late into the night. My heart was full, and the weekend had only just begun.

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Saturday morning we enjoyed coffee and donuts scrunched in on the living room couch, watching the pup and babe play. After a lazy morning, we walked to farmers market, where we picked up local treats and food for dinner that night. From there, we made our way into a little pizza shop near the water, where we ordered some pies to go, and enjoyed them together watching the boats in the marina sail by. We continued our day with naps and books on the beach, and splashed in the cool Lake Michigan waves. Time moved slow, but ever too quickly, as I savored those moments on our much needed weekend away.

That night we cooked together and ate blueberries by the handful and drank cocktails and local Michigan beer around the fire. We played games and shared stories and celebrated milestones and announcements. We reminisced about our time spent in Boston, and laughed about that things that happened that day. I cried a little when I went to bed, feeling exhausted but grateful for the weekend, and excited for the moments that were still ahead.

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Sunday was my birthday, and I celebrated the best way I knew how. I slept in and ate brunch and sipped spicy Bloody Marys as I watched the rain. We visited a cidery, and then another, and then ate a bagful of cider donuts to soak it all up. We ate Mexican food and drank margaritas and then watched the sunset from the pier. I ate birthday cake ice cream from Shermans and went to bed before midnight, feeling overwhelmed with love and grateful for such a wonderful day.

Monday, our last full day in town, we ventured into Grand Rapids where we visited Founders, a french bakery, and then had another round in a local micropub. We ate truffle frites and pickled vegetables, and again laughed until it hurt. We spent our last night together circled around the table, and then again around the fire. We stayed up way too late, enjoying the cold air, and the good company. I knew that tomorrow our trip would end, and I sure wasn’t ready.

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On Tuesday morning after saying our goodbyes, I spent the next two hours reflecting on our weekend on our drive back to Chicago. In her books, one of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist (who ironically spends her summers in South Haven, a fact I knew but didn’t realize until long after booking our trip), discusses the importance of doing what you must to make your way to friends around the country when life spreads you far apart. Recently listening to her discuss this, I found myself in tears as I mourned over the fact that many of our closest friends are so far away. Though sad for that short moment, my pain quickly turned to joy, as I eagerly thought about how soon we’d be able to follow Shauna’s advice, and gather with dear friends in a place that she calls home. I thought about this on our drive to the airport, realizing what a beautiful time the weekend was to reconnect with familiar faces, igniting something in my soul, and satisfying my deepest longing for familiarity.

You may have noticed I’ve been absent from this blog for far to long. Part of that has been an issue with time, as I’ve struggled this year to balance work, fun, and settling into a new city. A greater reason though was inspiration. My traveler’s heart sat too still this year, and I found myself in a downward spiral. Every time I would sit to write, the words I wanted to say wouldn’t come. It wasn’t until two Saturday’s ago, when I sat with friends in Michigan around a table, that I realized that my desire was still there. I became a blogger among those friends, and it was them who reminded me that my passion for blogging never went away. It just took adventure and their familiar faces to get me there.

Until next time!

2013: A Year in Review

 I am fully aware that it is February and that I am a full month behind on this post. I was hesitant to post anything at all at this point, but 2013 was too good  to not look back on. Better late than never, right?

Here’s a summary of our 2013 in handful of words and a plethora of pictures:

We experienced a blizzard and dealt with the Boston Marathon bombing aftermath.  We celebrated milestones, accomplishments, a graduation and a wedding. We traveled from Boston to the Cape, to Maine, Vermont, and everywhere in between.  We said farewell to our first home, a favorite city, and so many people that we love. 

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We spent a month in Europe with only a backpack on our back. We saw Big Ben in London and the Louvre in France. We drank beer at the Hofbrahaus in Germany, and wine on the Rhine. We hiked miles and miles in Chacos and marveled over the majestic Swiss Alps. We splashed in the refreshing waters of the Mediterranean and rode vaporettos through the Venetian canals. We ate truffles with Fabricio in Umbria and drank wine in the warm Tuscan hills. We explored Roman ruins and played hours of Go Fish in an empty Italian square. I cried when we boarded our flight home and have spent every day thinking about our trip since.

unnamed1385359_620398167079_1124592443_n76114_619012808349_5578899_nunnamed-1970653_611471206779_267726798_nScreen shot 2014-02-03 at 1.25.43 PM1424291_624703559039_1224241147_n548334_622403358659_350101081_n63702_622887628179_124582956_n1017560_635034954839_657219007_n 1002037_630231196609_208284773_nWe took a road trip back to Arkansas and settled into our second little home.We started new jobs and Jacob spent hours upon hours working on PhD applications.We ended the year with a bang at 10,000 feet feeling grateful for each memory made the year before. My 2014 is already off to a happy start and I look forward to all that is yet to come. 

IMG_6501 IMG_6583IMG_7411photo-3I’m a month overdo, but here’s to wishing you all a happy and blessed 2014! May your year bring you lots of peace, joy, and happiness!

Until next time!

Quintessential Fall

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No, this is not fall in Arkansas. I wish that I could say that it was, but in fact, it is still very green in these parts. This is quintessential New England, a perfect fall day in central Massachusetts.  While the trees here are taking their time to change, today I reminiscence on fall in New England.

Our first New England fall was an unrivaled experience. We traveled to New Hampshire where we  hiked the beautiful White Mountains, ate pancakes at sunrise, and drove the scenic Kancamagus highway. We took early morning walks along the Charles River, we picked apples in the Berkshires, and we ate an unhealthy amount of cider donuts. We enjoyed warm and sunny afternoons in the Boston Commons, and sipped mulled wine with friends on brisk and chilly evenings.

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Our second fall was nearly just as perfect. Though our Vermont getaway didn’t turn out quite as perfect as our trip to New Hampshire, we still left with some wonderful memories. Though the leaves were passed their peak on our visit to Vermont,  we still found a lot of color around Boston. The leaves were fiery red for weeks, and I was giddy as could be each time I took a ride around town.

One weekend, about this time last year, we traveled back in time and spent our day in a rural 19th-century village. Old Sturbridge Village in the fall is a classic New England experience. We explored antique buildings, saw water-powered mills, pressed a bushel of apples, and watched a blacksmith at work. The trees were brilliant and the weather was just as perfect.

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While I miss perfect fall days like the ones described above, I feel a bit of warmth and happiness as I look out my window and see the first colors of fall. Though there’s still lots of green around, I see a bit of yellow and orange peaking through the trees. Fall is finally making its way to Northwest Arkansas, and I couldn’t be happier.

What are some of your favorite fall memories?

Market Saturdays

One thing that I had a really hard time with when we lived in Boston was how hard it was for me to get to a local farmer’s market. I never found one in my neighborhood, and I didn’t always have much time to visit the one that I knew of downtown. I did find one huge weekly market that offered more than just fruits and vegetables. The SoWa market, held in one of my favorite Boston neighborhoods, had everything from duck eggs to antique books. It was an art/vintage/farmer’s market, and it was by far one of my favorite places to visit on a Sunday afternoon.  I could have happily spent every sunny Sunday in the South End, stocking up on fresh produce, browsing through beautiful artwork, rummaging through vintage clothing, and dining at my favorite food trucks. Oh those food trucks…

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As much as I loved the SoWa Market and all of my visits there, it wasn’t the most practical market for me to shop at. Many of the products were overpriced, and it really wasn’t the most convenient of places for me to get to. Public transportation wasn’t always the quickest choice, and parking was always a bit of a hassle. I loved this market dearly, but visits were more of a treat than a regular occurrence.

Fayetteville only has one farmer’s market. It meets in two locations each week, and lucky for me, one of those locations just happens to be about 4 blocks from my apartment. I visited this market often before we moved, but never really much for shopping. I might have picked up an heirloom tomato or a bucket of peaches here and there, but my visits were always really more for fun than anything else. It was always one of my favorite places to sip a cup of  tea, chat with a friend, and enjoy a morning of people watching.

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IMG_7471While I still enjoy visiting with friends and sipping tea, nowadays, I find the farmer’s market to be a whole new kind of wonderful. Each time I visit, I am intrigued by what new arrivals the changing seasons will bring. I enjoy chatting with the local farmers, and the little old ladies who sell their crafts. I love meeting new people and learning about their line of raw milk or cold pressed juices. I can’t wait to pick out a bundle of fresh flowers or to stock up on funky new vegetables that I’ve never cooked before. Last week I picked up some purple bell peppers and a ripe batch of green tomatoes.  I ate my pepper dipped in homemade hummus, and tried my hand at pickling with a green tomato relish. A recipe that I had hoped to share, but one that’s better saved for a later date.

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I try to visit every Saturday that I can, and am really beginning to enjoy this weekly tradition of mine. It’ll get cold soon, and the market will have to close. Once that happens,  I will make due with the local grocer and be thankful for our organic co-op. I’ll look forward to spring, and for what offerings the new season will bring.

 

Lately

I apologize for my absence lately. Between starting a new job, finding a place to live, and adjusting to life back in Fayetteville, I’ve not had much time to spend in front of my computer.

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The hubs is back at his old job working as a legal assistant, while I’ve taken a job in Public Relations at a local clothing boutique. I’m working on managing my new schedule, learning to allow enough time for unpacking, as well as a bit of time for blogging and freelance work.

IMG_7420We moved out of my parent’s pool house last week, finally moving into a little place of our own. It’s a small townhouse just a few short blocks away from work. We like to pretend as we are back in Boston as we walk to where it is that we need to go. We live just across the street from a grocery store, and only a few blocks from our favorite park. We are just blocks away from the local farmer’s market, and walking distance to some of the city’s best restaurants. There’s a small elementary school across the road, and two beautiful churches right at the end of the street.

IMG_7407 IMG_7411IMG_7437I’m learning to deal with the quirks of this apartment, just the same as I did in Boston. It surprisingly has less kitchen space and storage than our apartment there, but the amount of closest space elsewhere helps to make up for that. I don’t love the carpet, as I am accustomed to hardwood floors, but beggars can’t be choosers, as they say.

IMG_7432It offers plenty of sunlight, and has a ton of space. Having sold the majority of our furniture before our move, we’re having to get creative with where we put our stuff. As we’ll relocate again in under a year, we’re not interested in spending much time or money on fixing this place up. IKEA is all to tempting to me right now, and Pinterest is equally as dangerous. I think that this season will deal a lot with simplicity, something that I could probably use a bit more of in my life.

We’ve been living out of boxes for far too long and I am anxious for more organization and structure in my life. Fayetteville is starting to feel a bit more like home again as we fall into our new routine. I’m rediscovering this city, and am constantly finding new things to love. I’m learning to appreciate each day that we have here, as moving again will likely come much too soon. For now, it’s back to unpacking boxes… cleaning up this maze that we stumble our way through each day.

Until next time!

New England Lobster Rolls

New Englanders take their lobster rolls seriously. There’s a science to this meal, and everyone has their own solution. Some like it warm, and some like it cold. Some like their meat frisked with mayo, and others like it naked  with a side of drawn butter. Some like only tail meat, while others enjoy the sweet touch of a claw. Some like lime, but others prefer lemon.IMG_7222

During our two years on the East Coast  we had our fair share of lobster rolls. We had them on hot dog buns, and on white bread. We had them dressed in mayonnaise and naked with butter. We had them from little shacks on the sea and from fancy restaurants on the harbor. Though each roll came with a unique memory, our favorite rolls were always the ones cooked at home. While sure, we’d take an ocean view to that of an alleyway any day, with each new roll we’d try, the hubs and I always found ourselves comparing our food to the recipe prepared right in our own kitchen.

I’ve been feeling mighty homesick for Boston lately, missing friends and weekly rituals. I’ve missed our weekend trips to the beach, and the seafood market next to our old apartment. I’ve missed afternoons spent on the docks eating fish stew, and I’ve especially missed our access to fresh lobster.

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IMG_7264In lieu of hamburgers and hotdogs for our labor day feast, we celebrated our weekend New England style with a traditional New England lobster bake. We enjoyed clams and lobster straight from Portland, ME. There was corn and potatoes and plenty of butter to go around. I spent the day baking blueberry cobbler and chocolate whoopie pies. I could almost hear the waves. Just almost.

As any good New Englander knows, the best part of a lobster bake is your meal for the following day–if you’re lucky to have any left, anyway. I was in a constant state of panic the entire night of our meal, anxiously watching the lobster supply, calculating what leftovers we might end up with. We had ordered several extra lobsters to eliminate this worry, but you know how people get when it comes to lobster. Lucky for us, we were left with a bag full of claws, and a couple of tails. Just what we needed for a perfect afternoon meal.
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IMG_7307New England Lobster Rolls

3-4 cups cooked and chilled lobster meat, chopped into 1-inch pieces

2 tbsp mayonnaise

juice of 1 lime

3 green onions, chopped

1 small stalk of celery, chopped

3-4 dashes of hot sauce

s&p to taste

6 hot dog buns or hoagie rolls

butter

6 lettuce leafs

1 pinch of dried parsley

In a large bowl, mix together mayonnaise, lime juice, hot sauce, green onions, celery, and salt and pepper until well combined. Gently stir in lobster meat until lightly coated.

Meanwhile, butter bread and lightly toast or grill under golden brown.

Top your bread with a lettuce leaf and two large spoonfuls of lobster. Add a pinch of dried parsley if desired.

Recipe serves 6.

What’s your favorite way to eat a lobster roll? 

Hello from Arkansas

Over the past six weeks we’ve traveled to two continents, seven countries, and five states. After nearly two months of travel, our nomadic lifestyle has finally come to an end. Since my last post we returned to the U.S., enjoyed a few days in Boston, visited family in upstate New York,  crossed the border to Canada, and journeyed across the Midwest.

Words can hardly sum up how wonderful our time in Europe was, but over the next several weeks, I will do my best to try. I have over a 1000 pictures to sort through, and I am still having trouble even processing the fact that I am back in the states. Once life slows down a bit, I hope to reflect on our journey, reminiscence with pictures, and share some of our favorite memories with you.

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Our last few days spent in Boston were lovely, but also terribly painful. I cherished those last few days in our beloved city, drinking in every last moment with dear friends. Though grateful for that time, I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Not because I actually wanted to leave, but because I knew that I had to. It was like ripping off a Band-Aid incredibly slowly. I wanted that time there, but maybe one quick and painful goodbye would have made things easier.

We had a relaxed few days, visiting a blueberry farm, wandering about the city, sipping on our favorite brews, and enjoying time with friends. Though we still had a few things left on our “Boston To Do List,” we took a simpler approach and just relaxed in the city that we called home. After an entertaining night out on Saturday, we finished off our last few hours with Sunday brunch, and the company of cherished friends.  I composed myself pretty well during our last goodbyes, but as soon as I walked out the door, the waterworks started flowing. It really goes without saying, but I am terrible at goodbyes…

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After one last drive by our apartment building, we hit the road, sitting in silence for the better part of an hour. We held hands, and exchanged a few sad glances, but seemed to have a hard time with the whole concept of speech. Every now and then the hubs would ask if I was okay, and I would respond with a pitiful nod. Occasionally, I’d give him a reassuring touch, remembering that I wasn’t the only one who was sad. Things went on like that for a good while, until I finally dozed off, thinking about the wonderful place and people we just left behind.

My spirits were lifted a bit when we arrived in Oswego, New York, where we visited with family who I’d not seen in years. We took a drive by lake Ontario, munched on my favorite Italian cookies, and laughed until we cried while my great uncle shared priceless stories.

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From Oswego, we took a drive to Canada, where we spent the afternoon visiting Niagara Falls. Though the falls were breathtaking, we didn’t stay long, both feeling anxious to make it home. After a quick stop in Columbus, OH we spent 14 monotonous hours in the car, looking at nothing but cornfields and NASCAR signs. Needless to say, I couldn’t have been happier to cross the Arkansas border.

Now here we are, back in Arkansas, where the weather is hot, the days are slow, and the people are a bit friendlier. Though it still feels like we are only here for a visit, it sure is nice to be in the company of family and friends. Not much has changed since we left, but I am determined to dig up new and exciting things to do.

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In the grand scheme of things, our time here is relatively short. In no more than a year, we will relocate, once again having to settle into a new city. We will have to say goodbye once more, and deal with the awful emotions that go along with leaving place behind. But for now, I intend to enjoy every minute that we have in our beautiful home state.

Until next time!