The Famous Sleeping Bear Dunes. TC Part II!

Hey hey! Okay, so this may be one of my favorite blog posts ever. I am absolutely thrilled to share one of my favorite places on the entire planet with you guys- the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan! In 2011, it was voted the #1 Most Beautiful Places in America and then last year voted one of the 25 most beautiful beaches on earth.

The Dunes growing up were our treat of the whole year- we loved (and still love) running down them at full force, getting air as we jump, and taking in the vast views. There is something about them- an energy, yet calmness, in the air that is unlike anywhere I have ever experienced.

We took my Aunt and Uncle’s RV so we could all hang together during the 50-ish minute drive from Sutton’s Bay to the Dunes. Time for pics!

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Aunt Terry with Stout, her Portuguese water dog <3

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Restin’ up for the dune climb, lol.

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The girlies in front of the dunes!!

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Here they are! *All heart eyes*

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They overlook serene Lake Michigan too

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Climb, climb, climb

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Hanging at the top of our first stop!

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Time to frolic alllll the way down! The best part!

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After, we drove to THE large Dune! It’s a famous large Dune with a 450 foot drop. It is the ultimate climb and test of your grit. I couldn’t even capture the bottom from standing at the top — it’s that steep! It takes about 5-10 minutes to run down, and can take upwards two hours to hike up (per the sign). When we were younger it would take us about an hour, now it takes us half the time.

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It’s so so picturesque here. I cannot even describe, and these pictures do not do it justice.img_0913img_0886img_0891img_0887img_0889img_0908img_0890

At the bottom!

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Cuties!

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Time to climb back up!!

((25 minutes later)) *said in Spongebob voice* come n’ you know you were thinking it.

We made it! We joked that it should be initiation in the family to climb the dune. (Deej had to do it too when we were dating 😉 ).

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Also, we totally didn’t plan to match. WHOOPS.

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Momma bear and Pete

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Time to eat! We headed into the heart of Glen Arbor to get some grub.

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Pop? Soda? Soda Pop? Which do you say?!

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The little shops and boutiques along the way were so doggone cute!

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At the Boone Docks, my mom and I split some fish n’ chips and a yummy salad with the best dried cherries you will ever find.

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They also had burgers that the others grabbed!

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We went back to Aunt Terry & Uncle Pat’s to shower, then headed over to Grandma and Grandpa’s again for dinner.

Cocktail hour first, ya know the drill! My grandma and grandpa make the best Texas Caviar (kind of like salsa with some sweetness), and I dream about this when I get home. *peep the cute Christmas napkins*. Eating this food is seriously like Christmas.

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Their backyard is gorgeous and they maintain it so beautifully!

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We had dinner full of grandpa’s famous chicken wings (my mom and I had our leftover seitan and tofu), coleslaw, rolls, bean salad (yummmmo), and grandma’s potato salad. Not sure my mouth could water any more right now!

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Had to snag a pic with my Grandpa. <3

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To conclude the evening we went to Bardon’s, a classic ice cream shop that actually my Aunt even worked at growing up.

Look how cute these two are deciding what to order!!!

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I couldn’t decide between soft serve or the cherry ice cream. Kevin told me I could have some of his cherry so I ordered the soft serve. Oh. my. GOSH. If you never read my blog ever again- let me leave you with these words of wisdom: GET YO’SELF SOME CHERRY ICE CREAM FROM BARDON’S. This was the BEST ice cream I have EVER had. EVER EVER EVER EVER. So yeah, uh… it was pretty good..

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This was the best soft serve ice cream I have ever had too. All around Bardon’s is where . it . is. at. okur?

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Happy Fam <3

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Anddd a pretty sunset for a cherry on top. You can see the traces of a rainbow trying to make an appearance too)

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In the morning of July 23rd, my mom and I grabbed Aroma’s Coffee & Tea. I actually loved this coffee shop from the last time we were here and remember spending a few hours here studying for my NCLEX!

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We drove to my Gma and Gpa’s in TC and said our goodbyes to our Uncle who had to head back to NC.

My sister and I went for a nice run, one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was like old times being able to just jog & chat together. Love love loved it.

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We then went with my Aunt, Mom, Hal & Kevin into downtown TC to window shop and hangout.

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I just love this downtown. It’s the definition of quaint.

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Moomers is another famous ice cream spot too! It was a bit chilly- so we didn’t get any (and nothing tops Bardon’s anyway), but gosh it’s also a must! Either this or Kilwin’s if you are in town! And if you like fudge, Kilwin’s has some of the tastiest. My grandparents actually call tourists “Fudgies” because you can spot them based on their box of fudge from Kilwin’s walking around. Haha.

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And my favorite store in downtown…… Cherry Republic!

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They have a sundry of free samples in their shop- you could make a meal out of them.. and trust me.. we do!

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Before Kevin and Hal had to get on the road to head back to Cincinnati, OH, we popped into Espresso Bay… one of the other famous coffee shops in downtown.

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Worst part of the trip: Dropping my sunglasses into the Espresso Bay toilet. I was bending over to put the paper lining on the toilet and “plop”. Gosh darnit. Good thing they were like $5… so I just tossed them, and then thoroughly scrubbed my hands for like 10 minutes. Sheesh, none of you are gonna wanna shake my hand if we meet based on these posts. Bahah. I swear I’m not that much of a train wreck… just a small train wreck…

Late in the afternoon we came back to Aunt Terry’s where we split some of the MOST INCREDIBLE wine from Napa, munched on crackers & cheese (and vegan cheese- but I bet you can’t spot the difference!), and soaked up these last moments together before heading out in the morning.

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Aunt Terry also made calamari from SCRATCH. I have never ever had home prepared calamari- it’s always been from a restaurant. Well, this surpassed any restaurant calamari. This was tremendous, and it was fun to watch her prepare it too!

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I craveeee this stuff.

Also how cute are these?!

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#TRUTHBOMBS

But that’s not all! We’re talking three course meal here. We were even treated to dinner out on their deck overlooking the Bay <3

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We split some avocado corn salad & perfectly cooked whitefish.

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Aunt Terry & Bocci boy!

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Can you tell these two apart? This is Bocci..

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And this is Stout!

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We ended the quintessential summer day & stupendous weekend by watching Bachelor (Thanks for being such a trooper, Uncle Pat 😉 ). I have never laughed so hard during a Bachelorette viewing. The commentary from the peanut gallery had me rolling.

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This wraps up a memory for all time. Thanks for sharing in it with me .

Question for you:

  • Do you say Pop or Soda?

xo <3

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A Perfect Pittsburgh Wedding!

Happy Hump Day, ya’ll. How were your 4ths?! If you have a link to a post about your celebrations feel free to leave it in the comments 🙂 I’d love to hear what you all were up to! Mine was super laid back because this past weekend was busy as could be, and I was running on no sleep. Hence I dreamt of all things vegan bratwurst and fireworks as I slept a majority of the day away. DJ had to work all day anyway, so it worked out well.

I am stoked to share about the epic wedding this past weekend!

On Thursday morning I quickly packed for my flight. I never pack the day of, but since I worked nearly four twelve-hour shifts in a row leading up to it, the last thing I wanted to do when I came home on Wednesday night was pack. I Ubered to the airport and had the most phenomenal discussion with my Uber driver. She gave me such great encouragement and actually we talked about the blog a bit. I gave her my blog name, so if she happens to read this I send her a big hello and thank you for her sweet conversation.

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I took an American Airlines flight from SF to Chicago to Pittsburgh. My first flight, the long one, had selections for movies still in theaters! I was surprised! What are some of your favorite airlines?! I was thoroughly impressed with American.

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I didn’t end up watching the movies, but took that time to type away for my last blog post. It was the definition of therapeutic. So needed. As soon as I pressed that “publish” button I felt like I could take a deep breath. It was metaphorically, yet tangibly, cathartic to just get it all out. It was as though I untethered the shackles of difficult moments and trials from mind, and grasped ahold of them- drowning them in truth and light.

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It’s weird, but only when I travel do I really crave pop (or soda, if you aren’t from the midwest). I even received a whole can– wooohooo. American Airlines stepping up the game. What is your go-to flying beverage of choice?

The family I sat next to were headed to Sutton’s Bay and Traverse City from Sydney, Australia. Small world! I gushed about my love for the quaint city and gave them a mile long list of fantastic restaurants, highly suggested Bardon’s epic ice cream shop, and emphasized the need to go to the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Their little girl fell asleep on my shoulder at one point, so precious.

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I lucked out and was assigned the window seat. However, I did have to monitor my fluid intake, otherwise I would be getting up to go to the bathroom every five seconds per usual. Road trips can be a bit of a pain with me because I tend to chug water on the heels of my morning joes. Zero chill.

I barely made my second flight because our first one took off late. I also misread the SUPER confusing signs to my gate and ended up having to go through security again. I was definitely that person- sprinting through the airport with bags flying and a crazed look on my face. But I made it. I even had a few moments to scarf down my airport sushi just in time to board– hoooolllllaaaa.

On my second flight I sat next to a Russian man who is an expert in acarology (the study of mites). He was giving a lecture at OSU about it. Pretty quickly into our conversation he asked me, “Are you afraid of death?”. I was taken aback but it led to some interesting conversation.

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I Ubered from the airport to the hotel. It was about a forty minute drive. I spent the entire forty minutes chatting with a die-hard Pittsburghian about the day in the life. If anyone wants to be convinced by someone that Pittsburgh is the best city to have ever existed in all of history and all time to come, this is your guy.

I arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cranberry at about 2 am. It was a very nice Hilton! I highly recommend staying here if you need a reasonably priced place to stay in Pittsburgh.

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I couldn’t sleep one wink on Thursday night. Actually, that’s a lie. I fell asleep around 5 am and slept until 6 am until my neighbor decided to blow dry her hair. I couldn’t fall back asleep. I chugged a cup of coffee & decided to run to try to wake up my body. Also, does anyone else just love hotel coffee? I swear there is something about it that just makes me giddy (and not just from the caffeine). Maybe it’s just the adrenaline of travel that is associated with it and the good times that leave a great taste in the mouth.

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I then headed to the venue at Freedom Farms to help the rest of the girls set up for the wedding. I was stoked to see Lyndsay, the bride to be! She is one of my dearest friends since middle school. We attended youth group together all the way through high school. We have literally been through it all together from sharing countless laughs, tears, navigating boys (oh boy), going on trips in the US to the Dominican Republic together, growing in our faith, eating absurd portions of pineapple pizza at the pool in the summer, strumming our guitars in worship and just in our spare time, splitting a dozen donuts in one sitting at a dive in Indiana, cheering each other on in track meets even though we were competing schools, getting ready for a plethora of church events and getaways, and she was even the one who sat with me in silence after my dad passed away, my deepest heartbreak. She is as loyal as they come and has always been a role model of mine. I love her deeper than just a friend, she is a sister to me.

We were just missing our Clair, our good friend who is having a baby and was due on Lyndsay’s actual wedding day! The babe still hasn’t came, but literally ANY second now. Eeek!

Here is a little walk down memory lane….

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I was honored she asked me to be a bridesmaid, and I was beyond thankful (and shocked) that I could make it. I also haven’t seen her since my own wedding– two years ago! The reunion was quite special. I quickly got to know the other amazing girls in her bridal party and exchanged hugs with her family. They were like a second family to me growing up. I and my dear friend, Sarah, arranged the bouquets for some of the tables. I loved doing this. In another life I’d like to be a florist.

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The venue was incredible. I wish I had taken more pictures, but we were busy bees getting ready for the big day and just soaking up the precious moments! If you live in Pittsburgh and are looking for that rustic, yet elegant, venue- THIS IS YOUR PLACE. It was straight out of a fairytale.

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All of the creative touches actually outdid Pinterest. Lyndsay ironically was the first person who I ever heard about Pinterest from! Ahh, to think back to when we both started planning our weddings all those years ago.

Below is a picture of all the bridesmaids & Lynds (in white). I think this picture sums us up way better than the more normal ones we took 😉 Gosh, it was the best bunch of ladies.

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The rehearsal dinner was in-cred-ible. She served Greek food with wide arrange of marinated olives, hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli, pita, lamb, chicken, feta, dolmas, rice, and finished off with the best greek desserts ever (naturally I tried them all- the baklava was baklavamazing).

I scarfed it all down before I could grab a picture. Once I finished the food I decided I needed to find out where this was catered from. Lyndsay said it was actually her good friends, a life mentor, (with no Greek heritage), who cooked the food. I was blown away. I found the lady and by occupation she is a physician’s assistant. She said she just grew an interest in Greek food and was determined to learn how to cook it. We chatted for a while about cooking (she’s my new inspiration) and about medicine. In a little over twenty four hours I had met a diverse number of new, unique, and wonderful people.

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Friday night we headed to Lyndsay’s to do nails and spend some last minute reminiscing before she took the plunge into wedded bliss. Ugh, I love her so much.

Saturday morning we went to the hair salon to get that hair did. It all went smoothly and was a blast! We were in and out in about less than hour. CRAZY!

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Lyndsay was nothing short of perfect for her day, inside and out.

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This is Sarah’s hair- It looked identical to the picture she showed it was nuts! I had to take a picture.

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This was my up-do. I did a braid into a low bun.

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Mimosa time!

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We all did our makeup together at the hotel and then packed up to go to the venue. Things were getting REAL!

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I am obsessed with this photo below because this is just Lyndsay: All dressed up and effortlessly gorgeous with her yoga mat and Nalgene bottle in hand. She literally drank from the Nalgene at the venue all night. I love how true to herself she is in any situation. It’s always been something I’ve admired about her.

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Even the ride to the venue was such a blast.

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We made it!

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We took all our pictures with the party which may have included chasing a chicken, but we did not catch it, unfortunately. We also all gathered before the wedding to witness the magical first look! It was the type of first look that didn’t leave a dry eye to anyone who witnessed it. The day emulated the beauty of the union- it was supposed to rain, but the rain held off and the sun made it’s presence known, wrapping each guest with the warmth and glow that radiated from the love of the couple.

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Here is a picture of the bridesmaid’s bouquets! Stunning, right?!

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The ceremony was the most Christ-centered, loving, sweet, and beautiful wedding I think I’ve ever been to. The message from the pastor (Lyndsay’s father) resonated with me big time. The way Joseph looked at Lyndsay melted all of our hearts. The whole day was PERFECT. I know I have used that word far too much, but seriously- there is no other way to describe it.

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Reuniting with friends I haven’t seen in forever was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. I missed these people beyond words. Seeing them all made my heart so happy. <3

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**CUE THE TEARS**

For dinner there was burrito bar. YUUUUMMMM.

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They are the stinking cutest that ever was.

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And the rest of the night was followed by dancing our tails off.

At the very end of the night, all us bridesmaids and Lynds had an impromptu dance to “Marry You” right before the sparkler send off. As cliche as it may sound, it was seriously a cinematic movie moment, and I can’t imagine a better way to send off my best friend, my sister, into her next stage of life.

That night I left for the airport around 3 am. Needless to say I slept every minute on each flight on the way back. When I arrived around 10 am (SF time), DJ picked me up. I went back home to sleep, but in the afternoon we went to Bill’s to have a nice breakfast together.

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It was a quintessentially perfect wedding weekend that I felt blessed to be a part of. Joseph and Lyndsay are a tremendous couple that already are changing and inspiring others’ lives.

Thanks for sharing in this weekend with me!

xo <3

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