Thursday, August 28, 2014

Windy City Love.

Adam and I's anniversary trip to Chicago was perfect. Honestly, there was nothing I would have changed about it. It was a much needed break from reality and the perfect place to celebrate one year of marriage. We headed out bright and early on Saturday morning {two weekends ago} and got to Chicago around 8am. One of the many things I love about Adam is that he is a wizard with public transit. He had already planned out what train we need to take from the airport, where to get tickets, what stop we needed to get off on and which way to walk once we did. The Orange Line train took about 45 minutes and dropped us off a few blocks away from our hotel. Easy as pie. When we got to the hotel, it was still very early and we were hoping they would let us leave our bags behind the front desk for the day. To our surprise, our room was available for early check-in and we could get settled right away. The room was beautiful and happened to be an 'accessibility room', meaning it had extra room to accommodate a wheel chair. The bathroom and walking areas were huge and the extra space was wonderful! Prior to leaving for the trip, I had been browsing online to find things for us to do. The Lincoln Park Zoo was something that we both wanted to see, and on their website it advertised for The 2014 Chicago Air and Water Show on the same weekend we arrived. Having seen the advertisement only on the zoo website, I assumed it had something to do with birds and fish. I was really excited! A very short time before arriving in Chicago, we realized how huge this actually was and that it had nothing to do with animals. It was a show that consisted of different military grade planes and watercrafts, circling around Chicago's North Beach. Some were solo performances, some were several planes riding in tandem. It as amazing! After grabbing lunch, we found a spot on in the park across the beach and watched the planes for hours. Our favorite was the F-22 Raptor fighter jet. If you blinked at the wrong time you would miss it {1,500 mph}. The noise after it passed overhead was deafening. So amazing to witness!

The following days were spent walking {once in the city we never used public transit, walking at least five miles a day}, trying fun little lunch spots and seeing the sights. One of my favorite days was Sunday when we explored Navy Pier and had our anniversary brunch. The day was slightly overcast, but we never got rained on. I'll take that over blistering sun any day. We walked around the pier and watched the giant yachts float by. There was a lobster fest going on and a beer garden with live music. We grabbed a few fun cocktails and soaked it in. That same morning, we went to the Blues Brothers Gospel Brunch. It was literally across the street from our hotel and could not have been more fun. When you walk in, it transports you to a different time. The d├ęcor had a Cajun/bayou feel and was so colorful and welcoming. We immediately were sent to the brunch buffet line and were not disappointed. It had everything. Southern food, fresh fruit, filets, breakfast food and a mimosa bar. We had about 45 minutes to eat and get to know our table mates before the show started. We sat next to a family from Maryland, who was in town to drop their daughter off at Northwestern University for Physical Therapy. They were the perfect people to sit next to for a gospel brunch. They were loud, proud and very down to earth. It was impossible not to channel some of their enthusiasm and shout a giant 'Amen' with them when the MC prompted. After the brunch, we cracked open our first wine capsule bottle! On our wedding night, we had six wine bottles with different numbers {our anniversary number} on them, for people to leave us notes. We opened our '1' bottle and it was a blast. We had so many messages {some more appropriate than others...}, but every notes made us smile and remember how thankful we are for the people in our lives. The next bottle will be cracked on our five year anniversary. Maybe we'll be cracking that one in Greece? A girl can dream.

Other sights we saw were Millennium Park, The Bean, Alder Aquarium and a very cool fountain {can't think of the name right now}. Neither Adam and I are big club/drinking people, so two of the post-dinner nights were spent watching movies. We loved it. One night we Redboxed a few and the other we went to the movie theater and saw 'Lucy'. After walking so much, it felt amazing just to put our feet up! Two of our favorite restaurants were Rockit's and Lou Malnanti's. I had researched pizza joints and Lou Malnanti's was on virtually every list. We were not disappointed and actually went back a second time on our last day there. Their spinach stuffed garlic bread was out of this world {not to mention their famous deep dish pizza}. I will be Googling how to replicate it. That may lead to seeing how many calories are in it though...oh well. Rockit's had a more romantic rock & roll vibe. Think roughed up black leather chairs and menu, with a white table cloth and candles. They had the best French onion soup I've ever had. Tuesday, before our flight, we explored some of the shops along Magnificent Mile. We walked into the rustic looking store, thinking it would be similar to H&M here at home. I saw a sweater I liked and immediately looked at the price. After picking my jaw up off of the floor, I showed Adam that it was $450. Then it turned into a game. Him or I would pick a piece of clothing and the other would have to guess how much it was. After a few minutes of this and thinking our chuckles would soon be noticed, us clearance rack shoppers headed out. From there it was back to the hotel for our luggage and off to the train.

I believe that we may have set the bar too high with this anniversary trip. It was perfect.

Chicago Air and Water Show

House of Blues {blurry}

Garrett's Popcorn! I get this all the time at Costco, but they're actually based out of Chicago.

Navy Pier
A really neat wading pool/walkway in Millennium Park
The view of downtown Chicago from the Alder Aquarium

Farmers Market on the first day


Friday, August 15, 2014

Green Lake & Chicago Dreamin

This past weekend, Adam and I were up at Green Lake. This was the first weekend we've been up there since the 4th of July! I sure did miss it. My brother rode up with us and we all headed out Friday after work. I was a little stir crazy from sitting all darn day at work, so I wanted to go for a bike ride right away around the lake. I managed to convince Adam and Scott to join, and we headed out shortly after arriving. We were racing to get around the lake before the sun set, but boy oh boy did we fail. We had a bit of an anchor {not naming names...} and she was a little slower than the boys. We ended up biking about two miles in complete darkness, with the small help of Scott's cell phone flashlight he held up. We inhaled mosquitos and dodged parked cars all the way around 13 miles of hilly shoreline. An eventful way to start the weekend! The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing and enjoying family time. We got in another bike ride with Mom, the boys played tennis, we swam in the lake, played bocce ball and went on a fishing adventure . I decided to give everyone special names when we went fishing. My dad was the Captain, Adam was the First Mate, I was Second Mate, Scott was Chum Master and my mom was Quarter Master. Nobody got as big of a kick out of the names as me though. I'm so funny. Adam and I were the only two fishing, but we caught a good number of fish! We each caught two or three smaller ones, as my dad tried to keep the boat hovering over a large drop off . The weather wasn't fantastic, but it was very enjoyable to be outside.

I've been eating very healthy for a few weeks now {Adam too!}, and last weekend at the cabin we introduced my family to the smoothies we make almost every morning. We brought up fresh fruit, spinach and the organic mango juice we use {left behind the Greek yogurt}. I made a few helpings for people to try and they went over well! Hands down, my dad's morning waffles would have been a way better breakfast at the lake, but I was proud of my self-control. I was worried that a weekend at the lake would throw me off track, but it didn't. It makes sense though and I'm not sure why I was worried in the first place, as my favorite memories of the cabin don't revolve around food, they revolve around the time we spend together. We've both been feeling really well since our healthy endeavor and are hoping to keep it around indefinitely. The most challenging thing is stocking healthy foods and for me, purposely drinking a lot of water. This typically means more frequent runs to the grocery store {and bathroom...}and more prep in the mornings to make breakfasts/lunches. We've also been mixing in workouts together and are really enjoying it. We even met some really nice neighbors in the sauna two nights ago post-workout, bonus! This weekend in Chicago will be the ultimate test. A city known for their starchy, cheesy wonderfulness. The two very things that put me in a place of unease with my health in the first place. I have faith we will do well. Plus, I Googled healthy restaurants that we can try out ;) I'm sure we will give in to a few local favorites, but I'm really hoping the majority of our meals are relatively clean. So are my skinny jeans.

We don't have too much on the agenda for Chicago at the moment. My parents gave us an anniversary gift of tickets to the Blue's Brothers Gospel Brunch on Sunday {our actual 1st anniversary!}. We are really excited for that. There's an Air and Water Show at the Lincoln Park Zoo Saturday and Sunday, which we may check out. The rest of our days will be filled with exploring, shopping, tasting, relaxing and reminiscing. One year of marriage. I can't believe it's gone by this quickly! I'll get too teary eyed writing about it now, but I'll post separately about our trip and my thoughts on our first year being married. I can't wait for our mini-getaway! Hurry up weekend, we're ready for you. Our wonderful brother has volunteered to sleep over and bring us to the airport at 4am tomorrow morning. What a guy!

Adam's huge catch!

BBQ at Grandma and Grandpa Metcalfe's. A late 53rd Anniversary celebration!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

birthday buddies.

Adam and our niece Emeri share a birthday, August 1st. I still remember that day two years ago when Adam and I were mini-golfing for his birthday at Centennial Lakes Park in Edina. I got the call from Brittani. The call that any sister awaiting her first niece/nephews to be born could relate to. Active labor. Adam was getting upset that I wasn't paying attention to our mini-golfing, but he understood {for the most part}. After getting the call we rushed over to the hospital and met our beautiful niece a few hours later. I had given Adam a pin that said 'Birthday Boy' earlier that day, and he was ready to give it up, had their baby been a boy. Since then, it's always been special to celebrate both their birthdays on the same day. August 1st will always hold a special place in my heart.

This year Adam had the entire week off from school over his birthday. I decided to take Friday off of work so we could spend the day together and I'm so glad I did. We started off the day at Al's Breakfast. It is on the University of Minnesota's campus and was where we had our first date. They have amazing breakfast food. Huge portions, extra greasy, tons of toast. The type of place that puts you into a food coma and doesn't let you out until you take a nap. Some friends of our gave us a gift card there for our wedding and we finally got around to using it! We arrived around 8am and had to wait in line for about a half hour. This restaurant is quite literally the smallest restaurant I've ever seen. It consists of long counter top/bar with 10 barstools. Behind the barstools is two feet of walking space. That's it. There are 10 counter spots to eat and as people leave, they usher everybody to scoot down and new people sit in the newly freed end spots. The waitresses serve you from behind the bar and as people wait, they are standing directly behind you in that two feet of walking space. Definitely not the place you would take your grandparents to catch up on life or the place for a bible study to meet. It's unique, small, quick, charming, loud and delicious. A great start to our birthday adventures.

We headed home after that and succumbed to our food coma. We napped and leisurely packed our picnic bags for our next stop. We headed to the shores of Lake Minnetonka and found a great bench to post up on for a while {we may have also taken advantage of a Dairy Queen Birthday B.O.G.O coupon on our way there}. It was beautiful outside and we were not alone in our idea of taking advantage of it! We played with the volleyball, ate Triscuits, waded along the rocky coastline and eventually found ourselves a nice public beach to lay out on. We found spots in the sand, shaded by a giant oak tree and just talked. Our conversation ventured from how our weeks were, to our wedding day, how funny teenagers act at the beach, how cute the little boys make a sand castle were and everything in between. After spending a few hours on the beach, it was time for something else. Driving away from the beach, we took the long way home to look at houses around the Lake Minnetonka area. For those not familiar with the area, its it essentially mansion after mansion. All are beautiful and their styles are so unique. We found ourselves getting lost in thought, admiring and daydreaming as we drove along those windy roads.

Later that night we met up at our favorite little Italian restaurant, Mama's, with a group about 10 friends. A few friends were in town to run a 5k the next morning, so it timed out perfectly for Adam's birthday. It was so great seeing everyone, as most of us {our college friends} are fairly scattered around the Midwest. We dined on antipasto, pizza, mostaccioli, Italian fingers and ended our meal with their signature free ice cream cones! If you are ever in that area, I highly highly recommend Mama's. Their customer service is out of this world and the food is amazing. The cheese they use on their pizza and baked pastas is smoked and has a unbelievable flavor. Such a fun way to end Adam's birthday.

Saturday morning Adam headed up to Cragun's Resort on Gull Lake for our friend, Michael's, bachelor party. He had a great time and I got to spend my Saturday seeing friends and family! My friend Jackie and I grabbed lunch at Olive Garden, then I headed to Britt and Nate's house to help babysit and set up for Emeri's Toy Story birthday party. Brittani's decorations were spot on and it was so much fun having an evening with the little girls, while they attended an evening wedding. They are growing up so fast and I love every second I get with them. Instead of focusing on the fact that they're leaving in a few months, I try to live in the moment and soak up all their cuteness. They will never again be this little and I want to remember all the fun things we did together. I want to play with them, kiss them, tickle them and love on them as much as I can. It's the sweetest thing in the world hearing Emeri say 'Coco', while trying to get my attention. While I was putting her to bed on Saturday, I turned around to leave after putting her in her crib to her saying 'Coco! Coco! Tuck in, tuck in'. She wanted me to come back and tuck her in. I melted. It was so adorable. I turned around and as she laid on her back, I wrapped her pink blanket tight around her arms and legs like a little burrito. I kissed her goodnight and left again. I never want to forget moments like that. Her party the next day was so much fun. There were so many friends, family members and neighbors there. It was a madhouse! They rented a princess bouncy house and had a yummy taco bar. The decor was adorable and everyone had a great time. I can't believe she's two years old already! Time sure does fly by. I think birthdays are life's little way of reminding us to stop and smell the roses. It gives us at least one day a year to reflect on the past year, the ups and downs, the fun times and the hurdles we've overcome. Maybe this reflection isn't quite the birthday agenda of a two year old, but later down the road it will be. What a great day it was.

This pictures captures the charm and size of Al's

Lake Minnetonka

My Saturday night dates

Treat bags for the kiddos

Dessert Table!

Us with the birthday girl {grainy picture..}

A few of Adam's birthday presents. I was the 500th order on their website, so the entire order ended up being free! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Come Back, July!

I have so much to blog about! Fun things have happened over the past few weeks and I don't want to forget about any of them.

So, I mentioned the volleyball BBQ we were hosting; well, it went great! About 15 teammates, spouses and friends came over for some grilling and pool time. Adam manned the grill and I managed to play Tetris with our limited counter space and lay out all of the delicious sides people brought. After grilling, the guys played around with a football outside and us girls headed to the hot tub {because, what's better than getting into a bikini immediately after eating a giant meal?}. We all met up at our complex outdoor pool a short time later and had the place to ourselves! It wasn't raining, but it was slightly overcast and warm. We were able to throw the ball around the pool, have a few drinks, play our music and enjoy the afternoon! People stayed until fairly late and we ended the night hanging out around our indoor pool/hot tub. Such a great memory. Our next volleyball season started the week following our BBQ. We now play on Tuesdays, instead of Wednesdays, and we're currently 2-0. These first two games of the new season have been very late by my standards {9:15pm and 9:40 start times}. That is severely cutting into my normal schedule of 9/10 hours of sleep. Heaven knows that Courtni needs her beauty sleep. Before our game this week we went to Legends Bar and Grill for some happy hour appetizers. Our teammate Michael's bachelor party is this weekend up in Brainerd, so most of the guys will be joining him. Us girls may get together and have a girls day. It's only fair, right?

The morning before our BBQ, Adam and I went on a fishing excursion on Lake Mille Lacs! Yes, we sure did pack that Saturday full of activities. We got up at 4:45am and made our way almost two hours north to Isle, MN. Adam found a Groupon coupon for this fishing excursion and we were both really excited to catch some big fish! It was called McQuoid's Inn on Lake Mille Lacs and they have a fleet of fishing boats named after McDonald's sandwiches. Ironically enough, we stopped at McDonald's on the way up. I took down two McGriddles and it's not something I'm particularly proud of. Anyways, we boarded the McFish and set sail with six other people. The max capacity of the boat was over 30, so we had lots of space to move around and got plenty of personal attention from the guides. It was great. They provided bait, poles and endless random facts about Lake Mille Lacs. Everything about that morning went smoothly, aside from the catching fish part. We both caught one fish, but they could have easily been mistaken as bait {if you know what I mean}. Oh well. It was still a great morning!

Two weekends ago, my parents joined us up at the Erickson's cabin. We had a great time catching up with our parents and it was so wonderful having them all together. Adam had a Dental Alumni golf tournament at Majestic Oaks Friday morning {his team placed second!}, and I was able to take a half day at work. We headed up early Friday and my parents followed shortly behind us. It was great getting up there at a decent hour and enjoying the evening together. We ate dinner, went for a pontoon ride and had a big bonfire. Saturday was gorgeous and we spent most of the day relaxing by the lake soaking up the sun. My parents took a leisurely drive around nearby Detroit Lake and Adam and I got in a nice walk on the dirt roads around their cabin. We ended the night with another bonfire and all sharing funny stories of each other. So much fun. Adam also managed to get in a few fishing sessions on the end of the dock. He was one happy boy. Adam's sister Rachel and her boyfriend Kyle were also up there that weekend, an added bonus!

He graduated to the 'large' lockers! A perk of being a 3rd year.

Mom, Bella and Dad

beautiful day at the lake

Adam said that he liked my 'sunbonnet'