Thursday, July 19, 2018

Miami: Day 3 & 4

If you missed the first recap you can read it here.

Day 3 started pretty similar to the day before. We drank our coffee and watched the sunrise. 

We took a nice walk on the beach, swam laps in the pool and then reserved our chairs and hung out at the beach.

We walked over to Ocean Drive for lunch. I imagine it's a lot like what you see in Vegas. Tons of people. Crazy traffic. Intoxicated people. Flashy cars. Flashy people. It made for great people watching.

We walked by the Versace Mansion.

I fell in love with the art deco architecture. 

Fun fact: My dad's parents' had this car when he was growing up.

We had lunch at Larios on the Beach. Happy hour at noon? Yes please!

I ate more Cuban food and it was EVERYTHING.

We walked on the beach on the way back from lunch. I just could not get over the cute lifeguard stands. 

They were all so different and so fun!

We spent the afternoon at the beach.

We came up to our room to get ready for dinner.

We went to Byblos and it was one of the prettiest restaurants I've ever been. It also had the best lamb G and I have ever had. It is cooked for 18 hours and you eat it like a taco and add pickled beets, garlic sauce, etc and it will blow your mind. 

After dinner we hung out outside the elevator for another great sunset.

Day 4 started with another epic sunrise.

I loved that our hotel backed up to a boardwalk. We would usually walk the boardwalk first and look in at all the fancy hotel backyards and on the way back we would walk the beach.

There was a strong rip tide so it was a good day to spend in the city. I ate fish tacos at News Cafe.

We had a cocktail and listened to a really good band at Mango's and then walked to The Clevelander and sat outside next to this gorgeous Bentley.

The owner of the Bentley walked up to the car and all of a sudden people started coming up to him asking for pictures. I sneakily took a picture and sent it to my girlfriends and found out it was Pusha T who  is a rapper (and apparently pretty good). So that was exciting!

Our last stop was dinner at Naked Taco. It's a magical place where you have to pay for the chips and salsa, but the tequila shots are free.

We ended the evening with another fabulous sunset over the city and then an evening walk on the beach and a night swim in the pool. Another fabulous day in paradise! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Miami: Day 1 & 2

We went to Miami in April for our ten year anniversary. We had narrowed it down to Miami or Hawaii. The long flight and higher price tag for Hawaii were the cons that we couldn't get past in the end. The day before we left G made us each a French 75 and we cleaned the house and packed. Anyone else have to have a sparkling clean house before they leave for vacation?

Packed and ready to go! I had to take a picture because I still cannot believe we packed 8 days of vacation clothes into carry on luggage.

We sure didn't expect to drive through a blizzard and icy roads in April on the way to the airport. And while we were in Miami Northern Michigan had its biggest snowfall all winter and our poor family and friends endured a crazy ice storm!

Waiting for our flight and just so excited for the beach!

I didn't hate the sunrise from the airport.

Two and half hours later we were in sunny, hot Florida! We had an awesome Uber driving giving us the tour of Miami while he drove us to our hotel.

We stayed at The Royal Palm and it was gorgeous. The staff was so friendly. Our room was comfortable and you cannot beat the location. It was so centrally located and directly on the beach which is definitely what sold us.

We were in a corner room on the top floor and we couldn't have loved it more. 

I mean, what's not to love about this view?!

We changed into our swimsuits and got in that water. 

It was so refreshing. There is just no feeling like your toes in the sand and the hot sun on your skin after a long winter. The water was so calm we spent all afternoon floating.

Our first night we went to Havana 1957 because we were anxious to try Cuban food after hearing so many great things about it. I am a huge fan! I could have eaten it every day all day.

The next morning we sat on the balcony and watched the sunrise.

Coffee on the water just tastes better, in my opinion.

Miami is my kind of place. I go to bed early and wake up early, but Miami is a party town. So G and I would be up at 7:00 for the sunrise with our coffee and then head to the pool for a swim and then walk the beach and it would be deserted. We would have the pool and beach to ourselves which was amazing.

After a swim in the pool, walk on the beach and a swim in the ocean we got changed and walked to The Front Porch Cafe for lunch. We both agreed this Bellini Martini was our favorite cocktail of the whole trip. 

We walked back to our hotel and I obsessed about the lifeguard stands. They were all so different and so cute. We changed back into our suits and spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in the ocean.

Walking to dinner was always an adventure because the people watching was entertaining and there were fancy sports cars everywhere you looked.

We went to Sweet Liberty for dinner and happy hour ($5 ROSÉ on draft!). G and I shared this burger and both agreed it was one of our top five burgers of all time. So much flavor!

We got back just in time for sunset. When we got off the elevator on our floor there was a floor to ceiling window that looked out to Miami. We would hang out there and enjoy the sunset most nights. 

So that was days 1 and 2! Off to a great start with yummy drinks, delicious food, great beach days, and lots of sunshine.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

2018 Intentions: Check-In

The year is more than half over (whaaaat?) so I thought it'd be fun to check in and see how I'm doing with the intentions I set in January.

Body: Lift weights two to three times a week.

I have been lifting weights two to three times a week and I really enjoy it. I recently learned about Fitness Blender and I’m obsessed. It's free and there are so many workout videos to chose from that I haven't done the same workout twice.
I’ll usually do one upper body workout, one lower body workout, and one total body workout. 
Sometimes I’ll even add a day of Pilates, Barre or Zumba thanks to free YouTube videos. I never get bored because I don’t usually do the same workout twice. I never know what to expect which is nice because I found in my tried and true videos I would dread certain parts.

Health: Read Body Kindness and Intuitive Eating (with workbook).

This is still a work in progress. The hardest part of embracing intuitive eating for me is realizing, as Kylie so eloquently put it, "taking care of myself doesn't guarantee a particular body size." I'm still wrestling with that and learning to give myself grace. Even if it means starting the process over because I start to get back into the diet mentality. It's challenging, but it will be worth it. 

 I’ve read about half of each book and I’ve been listening to a few great podcasts (Body Kindness is one of my faves!) to help me along the journey. I’m also blessed to have some pretty amazing girlfriends that I can be open and honest and process what I’m learning.

Food: Eat what I love and be mindful.

This will probably always be a work in progress, but I’m getting better at it. Eating mindfully helps me to be present in all areas of my life. I love the habit we got into when my parents were staying with us to eat at the dinner table. It's a habit we have kept after they left and it definitely helps me to be mindful. 

Something that really resonates with me came from Oprah’s podcast. It was the notion to never forget what a sacrifice it is for the animal of the meat we are eating. Or the sacrifice of the farmer as he harvested the fruits and veggies we get to enjoy. The miracle that we get the privilege to eat from nature to become one with nature. It's an interesting perspective and helps me put more thought into what I'm eating, enjoy it more, and put more thought into why I chose to eat what I do.

Mind: Read more books.

I was off to a great start, but I got held up with a few long books I never really could get into, but wanted to see how they ended anyways. Here is what I've read so far:

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle - I loved this book and finished it in one day. 

The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle - This book was easy to read, offered good advice and was witty and heartwarming just like her blog. 

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley - This book was way too long and the ending left a little to be desired for me.

The Secret Lies of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams - I love her writing. She has a gift in the way she describes things in such detail you feel as if you are there. I didn't like it as much as A Hundred Summers, but it was worth reading.

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan - This was a great book! It was entertaining and I literally laughed out loud reading this one.

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins - This was a fun, easy read. If you love a good romantic comedy this is a great one.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid - This was one of my favorites of the whole year. It captivated my attention from the first chapter and I couldn't put it down. I didn't know what was going to happen and I thought about it long after I finished reading it.

The Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner - This was another favorite of the year for me. I couldn't put it down and I enjoyed the ending a lot more than The Marriage Lie.
The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand - This was one of my favorite Hilderbrand books so far. It had everything I wanted in a beach read (romance, interesting characters, good food, beachy backdrop) and more. I couldn't put it down and it sure didn't hurt that I was in Miami while I read this one.

Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank - This was my first book I read by Frank and it won't be my last. It was the perfect beach read with interesting characters, a gorgeous beach setting and an intriguing story line.

The Break Down by B.A. Paris - I adored this thriller. It started a little slow, but then it took a turn and I literally had to finish it that evening. I love books that hook me and I have to know what happened.

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews - This was way too long and I hated how it wrapped up way too quickly. Definitely not my favorite Andrews book.

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth - I heard mixed reviews about this book that people loved it and compared it to Big Little Lies or hated it. I didn't think it was as good as BLL, but I did love it. It was a fun read and I couldn't predict the ending. 

Discover: Travel more.

Yes! We went to Saugatuck in January, Miami in April, Dearborn in June, and Traverse City in July. We also have a trip coming up in the fall I’m super excited about and we are starting to plan a big trip next winter.
Spiritual: Find a new church community.

Unfortunately we have slacked in this area after a few failed attempts. We got discouraged and went back to listening to sermons online. I really miss the community and volunteering and know it would make our new town feel more settled so we need to make this a priority again.

Marriage: More date nights.

We have been more proactive trying new restaurants in our area, checking out lakes around where we live, planning little weekend getaways, and big trips to really unplug and recharge. Sometimes date nights in are my favorite. We rent a movie, play cards, sit on the deck with a glass of wine, or cook and eat al fresco. It’s been such a sweet time and I always look forward to our date nights.

Passion: Clutter free my life.

This is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I surround myself with people who build me up and are positive influences in my life. People who speak truth and help me grow. It’s life changing to be surrounded with these kinds of people. It takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. I love my tribe!
In the aspect of material things, I am constantly donating or throwing away things in my house that don’t bring joy, don’t serve a purpose, or are not being used. It’s so freeing! Living this way allowed us to store a lot of things for my parents when they were living with us so it had an added benefit.

I fully agree with Gretchen Rubin’s quote above. It’s why I find the time each month to re-organize or donate if things start cluttering because lets be honest. Things can get cluttered quick!
Serving: Show up.

There is room for growth in this area, but I have stopped overthinking it and just acted. I get over the fear by just giving myself a pep talk that this is who I am and that's who God created me to be so if this is on my heart I'm going to do it. 

It looks different for everyone. For me it's inviting the neighbors over and building those relationships. Texting a girlfriend the prayer I've been saying for her in the midst of her struggle. Bringing dinner to a coworker going through a hard time. Inviting people into our home for dinner to talk about life and our struggles, vulnerability, laughing and fostering community. Listening without judgement for girlfriends, coworkers, and G.

As the year continues I hope to continue to do all of the above and more. Get involved in a small group. Volunteer where G and I are passionate and give more time to a worthy cause.

As I look back on this year it's been a wonderful year full of amazing memories, great books, lots of learning and room for growth. I would say that's a very good start.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Life Lately

Hiiiiii! I've missed you guys! I've been missed this space to document my life and thoughts. It's so therapeutic and it's nice to be back. I thought I'd start with a quick recap of what's been going on this year.

In January G and I headed to Saugatuck to celebrate G's birthday. 

We rented the cutest little cottage in downtown that had a hot tub (with THAT view below) and it was walking distance to all the cute shops and restaurants. 

We wine tasted, ate yummy food, walked on the beach, hot tubbed, and just relaxed and enjoyed each other's company.

In February we celebrated TEN years of marriage. Time flies when you're in love. G got me these gorgeous roses and we booked a trip to Miami for later in the year.

We got so much snow this winter!  Manny didn't mind when he could look snow cute (see what I did there?).

It was actually a weird winter. Tons of snow. Tons of freezing cold days. But also lots of 50/60 degree days mixed in there. The Olympics were on during most of the cold, snowy days so we hunkered down inside and watched it all.

In March the brewery downtown finally opened so we walked over on St. Patrick's Day to check it out. The beer and the food were amazing and we love walking there for dinner.

We spent lots of family time. I just being the aunt to these two goofballs.

By the end of March it was finally getting warm and flowers were budding. It was fun to explore new hiking trails in our little town.

In April we went to Miami Beach, Florida for a week of sunshine, relaxation, salty breezes and good food. I'm still not over that water!

I hope to do more posts on our trip because it was epic. We fell in love with Miami. The people. The architecture. The ocean. The Royal Palm. Cuban Food. The weather. 

By May the flowers were in full bloom and patio sitting weather was here to stay. YAY!

The weather was so hot we even swam over Memorial Day. I can't remember ever being able to swim in a lake in May! Incredible!

We kicked off June with a little getaway to The Dearborn Inn. My aunt and uncle were having a 50th anniversary party so we made a little vacation out of it.

We had a blast catching up with family, and dancing the night away.

The next day we explored Dearborn, ate all the Mediterranean food, and lounged at the hotel pool. Perfection.

My parents moved in with us for about three weeks because their house sold and their new house wasn't completed yet. We had the best time! We had happy hours on the deck. We showed them around our area. Ate out at some fun restaurants.

We also had some amazing home cooked meals by G and my mom. Manny was spoiled rotten and we played cards each night after dinner. It was such a sweet time!

Manny turned five and had his first taste of ice cream.

We took a quick little weekend trip to Traverse City. We wine tasted, swam in the lake, ate good food and relaxed.

We stayed in a cute condo with THAT view and live music on the water at sunset. It was so relaxing!

We went to a Lansing United game with our neighbors which was so much fun. 

We went to my parents new house for Father's Day and got a tour of the gorgeous house and had sweet family month.

Phew. What a year it's been. A good, good year. We are so blessed and I'm just so thankful for all the sweet memories.