Archive | May, 2019

Memorial Day Cabin

27 May

There are many, many things I love about Victoria and Helen, but their infinite list of lovable traits got even longer when they decided to arrange a trip to a cabin in Ligonier for Memorial Day weekend.  

Cabin Crew: Victoria, Helen, Betsy, Emily, Laura, and yours truly.

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We headed out for the weekend; cars brimming with drinks, snacks, food, and everything to share.  Big thanks to our cabin crew!  It was clear that we were all ready for an unforgettable weekend. 

I drove up with Emily, Laura, and Not your Father’s Root Beer.  The cabin didn’t have a house number– bold — but we had no trouble finding it because Victoria’s truck was already parked out front.

 

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Gettin’ cozy.

Betsy manned that fire while the rest of us got to lounge 🔥

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Talented Victoria’s spot-on painting of the view.

 

Stunning views, fresh air, outdoor fires, and deepening friendships weren’t the only beautiful parts of our Memorial Day weekend.   There was also the well-plated, delicious sustenance [which we took gorgeous pictures of (below) before devouring].

 

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Definitely as good as it looks.

 

 

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Breakfast of champions.

 

Bel and I decided to make the best chocolate chip cookies on earth, which you will see featured (and pictured) in another blog. This time, though, we had put the coconut oil in the fridge, making it difficult to mix the batter…but no matter! They turned out amazing — they always do. 

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In between the talking, the laughing, the cooking, and the eating, we played board games like What Do You Meme and Pandemic.  Emily and Laura decided to spice up (literally) our Pandemic-game by making a new rule where we had to eat a spicy peanut ghost pepper everytime we had an “outbreak.”  They were INCREDIBLY hot, as you can imagine.  Betsy, the genius, stayed within the new consumption rules but decided, instead of chewing the peanut, to swallow the ghost pepper peanut whole. What.an.innovator!  

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Our cabin bliss checklist:

✅ fantastic company

✅ scrumptious food

✅ rambunctious games

✅ hot-tubbing….

Yes, there was a hot-tub! We didn’t even let the rain stop us– in fact, it only enhanced our experience.  I would go so far as to say that hot-tubbing in the rain is my favourite type of hot-tubbing.  Another perk of hot-tubbing at this cabin?  Admiring Emily’s gorgeous bathing suits!  Next time, thanks to Amazon, Bel and I are going to match with her.

Of course, since we were at a cabin in the woods, it would’ve been very confusing to not actually go into the woods. And so, with our powdered drinks, we went for a walk 😃 ✅

 

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Cabin Crew feet.

 

On the walk, we came across a house with absolutely no windows and then, farther down the road, a sign that clearly read “No Trespassing for Any Reason,” which Victoria and I thought would be fine to check out since we were trespassing for no reason (the devil’s in the details, your honor).

We took a lot of pictures along the way. Actually, Victoria took most of the pictures.  Including a serious where we got to smoosh our faces together. When she got to “3” we had to change our pose.

123  123  123  123  123snake

We all turned at the same time and we all saw what she was looking at — a snake that was the size of a house python — and then we all simultaneously SCREAMED AT THE TOP OF OUR LUNGS AND RAN!! 

 

!!!!!!!!!!

 

It would have been comical if we weren’t so genuinely scared.  #screamedandscattered

 

 

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Post-python attack. And by python I mean snake, and by attack I just mean appearance.

 

Now, this next part isn’t chronological, or much of a transition…but I did save it for last because, wow.  The MOST gorgeous pond that I’ve ever laid eyes on:

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Does it get any better than this?

 

This well-maintained pond had tadpoles (huge ones!) and frogs (cute ones!).  And it was here that we found out that Emily is really (really) good at catching frogs — which is a talent you wouldn’t find out about your friend unless you spent time together at a pond. 🐸 

 

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Princess charming? Is that you?

 

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Glimmering.

 

I’d like to reiterate that almost all of the photo credit goes to Victoria (thank you!). And, this is one of THE MOST GORGEOUS PONDS that I have ever laid eyes on.  Luckily for me, it also had a rope swing — so this was about to be the most gorgeous pond that I had ever plopped into… 

 

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Getting a running start!

 

 

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Walking on water– another talent you wouldn’t know your friends had!

 

Emily had a very memorable drop like a starfish ⭐️

But there is one thing about this pond that I didn’t tell you.  What you didn’t know, but what we did was that this was the neighbor’s pond and not public property.  Eek!  Jim, the owner, caught us red-handed (probably literally, since our hands were red from holding onto the rope) and came over to give us a scolding. He told us that he “wasn’t a bad guy”, but that it was a liability issue.  We understood!  And tried to express lots of gratitude for our afternoon spent in that idyllic pond.

After that, our cabin crew wasn’t quite done with water… So, we decided to spend some (more) time in the cabin hot tub where we brainstormed about how Jim might’ve told the story (about catching 5 girls swimming) to his wife.  We had fun musing about the possible iterations of Jim’s subsequent interactions.  

 

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Despite (or maybe because of) getting in just a teensy bit of trouble, our cabin crew left Ligonier closer than ever.  It was a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend.  Thanks to everyone for making it so special 💕

Cabin bliss,

‘mi

Ba*es in Boston

22 May

It was the first flight in the morning — the 5:40am flight.   Our alarms were set for very, very early.  Collin and Sammi’s first trip together!  Boston!  AHHHH!!!!!!! WE WERE SO EXCITED!  After some yawns, we got to the airport way before I thought it was necessary but since we were flying standby, it was crucial to ensure that we got seats next to each other. 

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Happy in the morning!

 

Collin works for JetBlue, so he got to fly for free (incredible) and I got to use his (super duper) discounted buddy pass. Thank you, Collin! And thank you, JetBlue!  We took our seats and before the plane took off, “angel Don”, popped in to give us a wave.  I promptly closed my eyes and fell asleep with reassurances from Col that “in 50 minutes”(ish), we’d be in Boston.

 

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Welcome to the east coast!

 

Speaking of free and discounted transportation, did you know that Boston has a FREE public bus-turned-subway into downtown straight from the airport?!  Col and I took it as we began our (very jam-packed) adventure.  First stop?  Breakfast.

Before the trip, I’d done research about where Col and I should go, taking into account our specific interests (like his love of diners).  We’d been going dairy-free for a bit, with one day off each week to get down and dairy #downanddairy.  Muls Diner, a classically Boston spot, was the perfect time to splurge.

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They had fantastic Eggs Florentine and spectacular taste in ketchup.

 

True to every movie that I’ve ever seen featuring a Boston waitress serving food in a Boston diner, our waitress had a thick Boston accent, a heavy Boston attitude, and served up a stereotypically perfect cup of hot coffee.  Needless to say, Col and I left full and satisfied, to walk around Boston Harbor and to listen to a downloaded walking tour.

One of our stops had us looking at a building in the financial district.  It wasn’t until we got to the end of this particular audio chapter that we realized we’d been staring at the wrong building for the entire talk.  Whoops. So, Collin took matters into his own hands and playfully pointed out the importance of this mural, which was a stop on his (better) tour. 

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“The According to Collin Travel Guide” says this is important.

 

The tour I had downloaded wasn’t great, but we had fun following it along the Boston Harbor anyway.

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Boston Harbor: Home of America’s Best Tea Party. Some say the water is still caffeinated.

 

The last, official, stop of this particular walking tour was at a touristy market with loads of food.  Since Col and I were still full from Muls Diner, we gave it a miss and instead headed to The Green Dragon, a really cool old pub that Collin had picked out for a drink and a warmer.  Next door, literally, was Bell in Hand, which is advertised as “America’s oldest tavern” — we couldn’t help ourselves, we also popped in there to see what we could see.  

Ambitiously, he and I then set out to go on (yet) another walking tour this one called, The Freedom Trail.  And, since freedom was the name of the game, Col and I decided to just stop wherever we pleased as we made our way across town.  We walked for miles, learned about cool history, passed through Little Italy, saw the oldest publisher’s house which had been converted into a Chipotle (burrito bowls are the new books, folks), and visited Paul Revere’s grave. 

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The final destination on ‘Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride’ (January 1735- May 1818)

 

Eventually, our hunger reached historic proportions, and so, in keeping with the ‘freedom’ theme, we got some pizza to celebrate our free-from-dairy-free day.

 

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The Boston Pizza Party– a significantly less revolutionary but way more delicious event.

 

Belly’s full of pizza and brains full of historical facts that we could use to win Jeopardy, Col and I headed to our Airbnb to check in and rest.  It was 4pm — we’d been walking around with our backpacks on, awake and active for over 12 hours!  I needed a nap; knowing that when I woke up in 50 minutes…. we’d STILL be in Boston.  Plus, then it would be dinner time.  I was thrilled with the restaurant options and Col let me pick where we would go.

 

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Map Code: Pink pins are must-sees that I’d researched prior to the trip.

 

I chose a place called Bergamot. I’d read lots of reviews that complimented both the food and the service and we were not disappointed on either front.  Col and I got to the restaurant around 8pm.  Even without a reservation, the hostess greeted us with gusto and gave us the best seat in the house (right next to the window).  The lighting was dim — just the way I like it.  While she got the table ready we sat on a couch and, while we waited, pretty much every employee at the restaurant came over to check on us, to make sure we were taken care of and that we didn’t need anything.  So attentive! When our spot was ready, the hostess sat us down at a table set for four.  When the hostess came back, she removed the extra table settings.  I apologized to her saying “there are only two of us”, and she told us that she had set out all of the place settings so that we could choose where to sit and not have her choose for us.  So thoughtful!  We were thoroughly impressed.  

Col and I were served complimentary freshly baked bread and fava bean butter.  We ordered lobster risotto, Brussel sprout salad, and a plate of ravioli to share.  The customer service was impeccable and so was the food.  Dinner at Bergamot was one of my favorite things we did in Boston.  Date night while we were already on a date… Was this a double date?

 

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Incredible food. Incredible place. Incredible company. See you in 20 years!

 

I wanted to be awake and see live music, so we headed to Toad, albeit just for a second.  It was very loud (and I was very tired).  When our Uber driver dropped us off he said, “I rate you 5 stars, and I hope to be your driver again.”  Which I loved and immediately started to repeat.
Ultimately though, we went to bed.  And it was a good thing we did.  We couldn’t sleep in.  The people who lived above our Airbnb were up early making a ruckus, BUT, we were HAPPY TO BE AWAKE!!!  HAPPY TO SPEND THE DAY IN BOSTON!!!!!

For breakfast, Col and I were back to the dairy-free grind.  We got Acai bowls from a cafe called Nu and I even got to drink my water from a sustainable pasta straw.  

 

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No surprise, these were delicious.

 

After eating our dairy-free delicacy, we called a Lyft and headed to Beacon Hill, the poshest part of town.  Col and I enjoyed the next part of our day holding hands, walking around, admiring the brick houses, the streetlamp, and the shops.  We went to the Botanical Gardens, played in the park, and saw a “Make a way for the Ducklings” installation.  We then walked across the street to THE place to be in Boston: 

 

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Cheers, yinz!

 

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The gangs all here.

 

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Grabbing a beer with Norm.

 

We got to the bar right when it opened and saw the owner giving a TV interview.  Our friendly neighborhood bartender, Pearse, was great to chat with, especially with his thick and memorable accent.  We drank and cheersed to Cheers.  Col even got us matching hats as a memento, so fun!

For lunch, we had our hearts set on some dairy-free pizza.  Neither of us had ever heard of it before…so we ordered, to go, vegan pizza with VEGAN CHEESE, from Upper Crust.  We walked back to the Botanical Gardens for a picnic….and ate just a couple of bites before promptly deciding that while we were all about that dairy-free life we were definitely not all about vegan cheese.  It was so bad it almost ruined our day.  Almost.

We tried to forget what had just happened and walked through some more interesting parts of town, stopping for edamame, and visiting an exclusively Harry Potter shop (SO neat!) before heading to the “Mapparium” at the Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity, or what I like to call ‘The Library.’  Now, you might be wondering what a “Mapparium” is.  I certainly was.  I knew it had the word “map” in it, which I liked.  The “Mapparium” is a giant map at The Library which is made up of glass — it’s so big you can walk through it! I was v excited… that is until we actually got there and it was located in the Christian Science Monitor building.
What?
Col and I were both pretty confused, the propaganda was hard to ignore.  We were required to join a tour (and even though we were in the birthplace of the Revolution, we couldn’t claim our independence from the group).  We learned, on tour, that the Christian Science Monitor has won 7 Pulitzer prizes.  #themoreyouknow

After several minutes of listening to whatever we had to in order to gain entry…into the world we went!  Col and I entered the “Mapparium” and were suitably impressed.  Even though there were countries missing and a few of the boundaries weren’t accurate, it was really cool.  Since they’d made this map in the 1930’s, I was in a forgiving mood. After all, they didn’t have Google back then, we gotta be understanding.  Col and I walked around, admired the stained-glass world, and listened to the echoes. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but, below, is the Christian Science Monitor-approved selfie we snapped.

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World explorers.

 

After that, we got some delicious, dairy-free, Thai food in the air conditioning and enjoyed lots of noodles . To work off our huge meals, we walked to Fenway Park to see their community center, sit at a bar called Bleachers, and enjoy the views.  

 

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I like to call this one ‘Fenway through the Fence’.

 

The next stop was “home”.  The Airbnb was perfect.  We relaxed, got changed, and talked about how badly we needed a coffee.  We were about to head to…. the Boston Handbell festival!!!  This only happens once a year and, this year, it was on one of the nights that Collin and I were in town!  It was 100% fate!!!!!  I reminded Collin that he loves live music, which he does. “I’m taking you somewhere that you’re going to love.”

 

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Gotta hand (bell) it to them, they did a great job.

 

At Old South Church, Collin knew the first song that the handbell musicians played.  Yay! I knew he would love this festival!  Throughout the show I kept whispering, “Isn’t this the greatest? I know how much you love live music.” 

The festival was chill and relaxing but the two of us still needed a caffeine jolt.  Col and I left to go to Dunkin’ Donuts in order to grab a warm cup of joe. We took our coffees to go, got onto the subway (shout out to the orange line), and headed to Mr. Dooleys where I got some peach in my Jameson from Terry the Irish bartender.  Collin and I then lounged and relished (some more) live music — this time from Calm O’brien who played Irish songs including Molly Malone, a favorite. 

The coffee did the trick and Collin and I appreciated a late night in Boston, hung out for hours, until eventually heading back to our apartment.

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The next morning, we got this good-looking grain bowl that I had been craving (see below).  

 

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Energizing grain bowl is equal to or greater to energizing coffee.

 

I LOVED IT SO MUCH!!! I swore I could’ve run 6 miles.

However, ten minutes later, the grain bowl decided it didn’t love me back so Collin had to carry my bag.  We walked to Harvard Yard where I read us a walking tour out loud, learned about their library, and saw a statue of a guy who’s not who he says he is.

 

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The imposter statue.

 

The Harvard Yard was our last stop in Boston, and, soon after, we headed to the airport where we hung out and lived our dairy-free life in the lounge.

 

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A look of satisfaction.

 

Overall, the trip was a raging success.  Setting the tone for many more.  There were enough things that kept us moving and exploring… but we also went with the flow.  It was full of love, joy, play, serious talks, incredible food, and experiences to remember for a lifetime.

Long live Boston,
‘mi