Chicago for Tweens

I recently had the opportunity to visit Chicago with just my son. For school-related reasons my daughter (and therefore husband) couldn’t join us so it became a fun one-on-one trip. Not something we get to do often, so it was very special. We arrived Friday night to our amazing room at the Wyndham Grand – it was the perfect location, easy to get everywhere and with awe-inspiring city views. Once I parked my car, we used Uber or good old-fashioned walking the rest of the weekend – it was lovely to not think about driving, parking, etc. However, I do want to caution everyone to be very careful with valet parking – we ended up with some issues that I’m still dealing with – and this was at a very nice hotel and expensive parking spot. Thanks to our Chicago CityPASS, we knew our Friday night adventure would be the 360 Chicago Observation. After enjoying the views – loved the ice breaking up on the water – we walked across the street to do a little shopping at The Water Tower. I actually remember shopping there as a kid so it was nostalgic to share that experience with MY kid. As we had a full day planned for Saturday, we just grabbed quick salads and “fancy” drinks at The Cheesecake Factory just outside the mall. I rarely do chains when traveling, but that’s what my kid wanted and this was his weekend … The next morning started bright and early with the goal of seeing how many museums we could visit in one day (and still enjoy them!). We also...
The Best Places to Fuel Up after a Day of Skiing at Boyne

The Best Places to Fuel Up after a Day of Skiing at Boyne

Every year we visit Boyne Mountain at least once for a long weekend of skiing. Through the years, we’ve stumbled upon some amazing places to enjoy a boisterous or low-key (depending upon our mood) evening of good food, drinks, and atmosphere. It’s always a struggle to decide which ones to visit when we only have a few days. Luckily, we know we’ll be back next year to hit the ones we miss. Here are three of my current favorites: Cafe Sante is perhaps the most elegant of these choices. However you needn’t feel out of place in warm sweaters and jeans – after all in the winter, Boyne City is a ski town and being bundled up is expected. The atmosphere is cozy, the food has a French influence and the drinks are strong. All excellent reasons to visit. Cafe Sante also has an amazing Happy Hour. From 3- 6 every day there are a number of $3 drinks and appetizers. The choices change slightly from year to year, but we always have a good time putting together a tasty dinner of delicious tidbits. Shrimp cocktail, salmon pate, mussels, eggplant, and even deviled eggs were some of the delicacies we enjoyed on our recent trip. Along with several $3 margaritas, we left full and in good spirits early enough in the evening to be able to peek into a few of the Boyne City stores before heading back to our resort. Interested in more information on Cafe Sante? Check out my review on The Yums. Red Mesa is just down the street from Cafe Sante and actually owned by the...
Kilwins Chocolates – A Sweet Tradition

Kilwins Chocolates – A Sweet Tradition

Every year we spend at least one (sometimes two) weekends at Boyne Mountain skiing. We’ve been doing this for over ten years, so it really feels like a second home. One of our annual traditions during this ski trip is to visit the headquarters of Kilwins Chocolates. To anyone who isn’t familiar with Kilwins, they began their journey in Petoskey, Michigan as a bakery in 1947. Don and Katy started developing candy and chocolate recipes that are still used today. In 1985, they added ice cream to the line-up. Some of my favorite things about Kilwins is their attention to detail, the fact that they use local ingredients when possible (and when they can’t they are incredibly particular about getting the best ingredients possible) and that they require all franchises to go through extensive training.  Another example of their concern with creating the best product experience is that the company decided to buy their own trucks to deliver ice cream so that they could ensure it would arrive at the proper temperature. The factory tour is available every half-hour Monday through Friday from 10 – 4:30 and it is FREE! It’s fun to watch the candy being made, taste the delicious chocolate and learn more about the history of Kilwins. Even though I’ve done this tour multiple times, I learn something new each year. Much of the equipment being used to create the chocolates has been around since the beginning – and is still going strong. On this particular tour, we watched truffle filling being mixed, caramel and peanut butter filling being spread out to cool, marshmallows being prepared and...
Easy Everyday Adventures

Easy Everyday Adventures

Everyone knows how much I love everyday adventures, and Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to enjoy and create one of your own.  Although you could go with the standard fancy dinner out, why not try something new this year – I bet you’ll remember it much longer than just another dinner at a restaurant. Looking for ideas? I’ve got you covered: Visit a winery. Enjoy a wine tasting and then a delicious glass of wine. You might even get lucky and stumble upon some live music. It’s fun to try different varieties and share what you think of each one. This is also a great choice if you are short on time or money. It would be very doable to sneak in a tasting and conversation on a busy school night for $20 or less. Local suggestions: My two current favorite local wineries are Urban Vines and Sugar Creek Winery. Urban Vines has delicious charcuterie platters and they also serve beer, cider, and even sparkling wine, so if your partner doesn’t like wine they have alternatives. Sugar Creek Winery doesn’t carry food, but you are welcome to bring in whatever you want, so why not put together your own cheese plate and enjoy it with a glass of their delicious wine. Urban Vines, 303 E 161st Street, Westfield, IN 317-763-0678; Sugar Creek Winery, 1111 West Main Street; Carmel, IN  Check out a museum.  Although most museums might be closed in the evening, perhaps you can meet for lunch and walk through your local art museum? Or present tickets as a gift with plans to visit on the weekend. It’s fun to look...
Top 10 Travel Bloggers to Follow in 2019

Top 10 Travel Bloggers to Follow in 2019

*This post may contain affiliate links, but as always, opinions are 100% my own.* Do you love to travel as much as I do? When I’m not traveling or planning a trip or searching for a local adventure, I’m either dreaming of a vacation or reading a travel blog. I get so much inspiration as well as ideas for future trips for myself and my family and it’s fun to live vicariously through someone else’s travels. If you can relate, then you need to check out the following travel bloggers – these are my picks for the top 10 to follow in the upcoming year – if you aren’t following them now, you’ll want to check them out: It’s a Lovely Life  – The Reese family has made blogging their full-time job. They travel over 150 days a year with their three kids and go on all the adventures I’d like to go on someday! I love that their trips are so family oriented. It makes them very relatable to me. The blog also showcases a lot of videos which is very fun, AND if you are at all interested in blogging yourself, check out their FREE 5-Day Start a Money Making Blog Course. The Uncorked Librarian – I find this blog (and Christine) so entertaining yet FULL of useful info. She loves drinks and food just like I do, and her adventures sound very much like the ones we used to have pre-kids. Luckily, now that our kids are older we can drag them along again! Living in Florida, she shares lots of information about places we visit often,...

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