The Fourth in Photos (My Long Weekend Update)

For those of you that follow me on Instagram and Twitter you probably noted I’ve been tweeting from vacation. That’s right, B and I spent the Fourth of July long weekend in a romantic getaway in tropical Milwaukee! It was a great time – we were there during their music festival, Summerfest, and had such a great time. I love live music. So. Much.

Instead of one long blog post about our trip, here are just a few highlights from our Fourth of July, with mostly photos (starting in Cleveland):

Wednesday night: We met up with some friends for the Orchestra’s free concert outdoors downtown and fireworks. We packed a picnic and enjoyed an amazing start to the holiday weekend.

Picnic on the mall

Picnic on the mall

Selfie during the Cleveland fireworks

Selfie during the Cleveland fireworks

Red, white and blue for the orchestra

Red, white and blue for the orchestra

fireworks over downtown CLE

fireworks over downtown CLE

Thursday: B and I hit the road to Milwaukee. Our first stop, however, was a night in Chicago. We met up with B’s sister and her boyfriend for dinner at a cute BYOB Brazilian restaurant. I ❤ farofa wayyyy too much.

awful picture but amazing food- feijoada and farofa

awful picture but amazing food- feijoada and farofa

view from our hotel

view from our hotel

Friday: We started off Friday morning with a 5 mile scenic run around Chicago. I love running in Chicago – I love the city and waterfront. Running along the water is so peaceful.

Running. On the beach with the Chicago skyline behind us

Running. On the beach with the Chicago skyline behind us

Then, we were on to Milwaukee! We enjoyed stopping off at my second favorite cheese place – the Mars Cheese Castle – on the way. Once we got to MKE, we hit up Summerfest! So much live music. Love it. The night ended with some more fireworks.

Cheese castle!

Cheese castle!

Goodies from the Cheese castle. Beer, cheese curds and meat stick. #healthy

Goodies from the Cheese castle. Beer, cheese curds and meat stick. #healthy

Corn on the cob at summerfest ... when in Milwaukee ...

Corn on the cob at summerfest … when in Milwaukee …

pretty gorgeous fireworks above the lake

pretty gorgeous fireworks above the lake

Saturday: We had a busy day! The morning started off with a run around Milwaukee. Again, loved running throughout the city and their lakefront. We also hit up some local coffee shops, the beach, Public Market, Historic Third Ward, and Summerfest again. We ended the night seeing Weird Al and Matt Nathanson. Matt Nathanson put on an amazing show, even doing covers – including Under Pressure!

Started the day with a run

Started the day with a run

Then we got some coffee and pastries!

Then we got some coffee and pastries!

Stopped by their public market

Stopped by their public market

Hit up the beach

Hit up the beach

grabbed drinks in the Third Ward along the water

grabbed drinks in the Third Ward along the water

#selfie

#selfie

hit up summerfest again!

hit up summerfest again!

Rocked out to Matt Nathanson

Rocked out to Matt Nathanson

Thanks Matt Nathanson for amazing Summerfest

A video posted by Melissa Koski Carney (@koskim) on Jul 4, 2015 at 9:39pm PDT

Sunday: After a quick trip to the hotel gym and my first day off running in 40 days (my running streak ended 4th of July), we hit up the local coffee shop again and then were on the road for the long drive back.

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last coffee shop stop before the road

Are you still there? Thanks for checking out this super long post. A few questions for you:

  • How do you take your coffee?
  • Scones – prefer them sweet or savory? Sweet all the way!
  • Have you ever had cheese curds? What do you think of them?

Linking up with Running N Reading and Her Heartland Soul today!

#TBT: Throwback Thursday – Travel Edition

As you probably know by now, B and I love to travel. We’ve gone to some great places – international and in the U.S. – together and had a great time trying out new meals, meeting new people and getting in as much of the local scene as we can.

We have two more trips planned this year – what we’re calling an “East Coast Foliage Tour” (which will include stops in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Boston and New York) and a trip to Asia (Hong Kong and Vietnam for now). So as I started to get excited about what’s to come, I began to also think about all the great trips we’ve had over the past few years. Here are some old photos from past trips, 2010 through last year:

2010 – New York City to see my brother play at Carnegie Hall

NYC 2010 Carnegie Hall

2010 – Road trip to Pittsburgh – checking out the city for the first time and of course their Hofbrauhaus

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Not sure if this counts as travel … but we go to upstate New York quite often to see my parents. These pictures are from our engagement shots in 2010 🙂 (thus the cheesiness)

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2011 – trip to Chicago!  We tasted our way through local beers and deep dish pizza, and did a walking tour, tried the architectural boat tour and got in great views.

Chicago + 391 Chicago + 408 Hemmingway Lou Malnottis

2012 Cape Cod – we ate lobster, went whale watching, tried tandem biking and even walked on the beach (even with my boot :()

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Also in 2012 we went to Ireland and England! More hiking, local food and drinks, and siteseeing.

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And we ended the year in Montreal and Toronto. In a snowy winter wonderland! We still managed to walk around, check out some amazing food (crepes, poutine, Chinatown) and had a great time.

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2013 started with a winter surprise vacation in Miami – which meant sunshine, running along the beach, fresh seafood and fruity drinks!

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Also, that year we spent a week checking out another midwestern city – Milwaukee!

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And 2013 ended with a great trip to the West Coast, with stops in San Francisco, NapaSeattle, the Redwoods, Los Angeles and more.

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This year, you probably remember we started off with some travel to Costa Rica. And I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2014 holds for us for travel!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like to travel or do you prefer to stay home?
  • What’s the coolest place you’ve been – I need more places to add to my travel bucket list!
  • Ever been to Hong Kong or Vietnam? Recommendations?
  • Ever been to Portland, Maine? What do you recommend we do?
  • What’s on your travel bucket list?

 

 

 

Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon Race Recap (part 2)

In case you’re ever in Chicago during St. Patrick’s weekend and looking to celebrate with a fun race, then check out the Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon. You’ll enjoy some free beer, lots of green and a pretty good start to your St. Patrick’s celebrations.

Here are a few thoughts on the race overall:

The good:

The swag: the sweatshirts we got in our race packets were pretty cute and not super cheap looking, as often happens when anything but a tech shirt is given out. The medals were fun, and even the race chips were branded with the Get Lucky logo.

post race swag- sweatshirt, medal and beer!

post race swag- sweatshirt, medal and beer!

The after race: It was pretty organized, and after you crossed the finish line people were handing out bags of bagels, bananas and yogurts. This helped the big slowdown that happens when you cross the finish line and people are struggling to pick out their banana, bagel, etc.  It was also easy to get our bags from the bag drop – no long lines and the people working the bag drop were super friendly. AND we got a free beer at the end!

The race course: It was a pretty flat course, with only a few minor hills here and there. For miles 2-5 you can see varying views of the Chicago skyline, which was nice, and I love running along water. Water+cityscape=some of my favorite types of runs.

The pacers: I ran near the 2 hour pacers on and off throughout the race and really enjoyed their company. By the time I started running with them I was too tired to make conversation, but they were fun, conversational, had water to share, and so on. They had no idea – because again, I was too tired to talk – but they saved me for miles 10-12.

The time: Since B and I didn’t get in town until around 10:30 p.m. and didn’t end up going to bed until after 11 p.m., I was really grateful for a later-than-typically half marathon start – 9 a.m. Also, we were going to be taking the train to the race start and didn’t know how long it would take to get to the train, so with a 9 a.m. race start we wanted to be on the 7:40ish train.  If the race had started at 7 or 7:30, getting up for a 5:40 train would have been miserable.

What could be improved upon:

Course location: B and I checked out the 2013 race course a few times before deciding that we would run and also choosing our hotel. We booked a hotel about a mile from the race start, planning to take a taxi or jog to the race start – and then leisurely walk home, catching the St. Patrick’s Day parade which was nearby our hotel as well. Anyway, they changed the race course this year and didn’t announce it until about 2 weeks before the race – and it was not near where we were staying at all. It was outside of downtown, starting south of downtown at Jackson Park and ran about 5 miles toward downtown and then back around to Jackson Park. So not only were we not running downtown, but we weren’t able to walk to or from the race. AND this meant there were very few people cheering us on along the course – sure, a few people had been standing around waiting for their friends but since we were on just a running/walking path outside the city, there really weren’t any crowds or cheering sections.

Course conditions: As we all know, winter has not been so kind to us in the Midwest and northeast this year. The race was on a trail that was along the river and some parts were covered in snow, or ice, or mud, or all three. Some parts were narrow and had runners going two ways – which meant that you’d have to jump of the trail into the mud or ice, or literally stop as another runner passed you. A little TLC to the race course could have prevented this.

Course markers: The course markers were a little off throughout the race – even the pacers were making note of how “wow that was a short mile.” And some were off – we ran miles 1, 2, 3, 4, and then 6. It was pretty awesome. Until we realized that the 5 mile marker had just been swapped with the 7 mile marker. Woops. Oh, and nowhere along the course did they have any time markers. If I hadn’t been running with B for the first 10 or so miles, and then with the pacers, I would have had no idea how fast we were going. A sign, or someone with a stop watch would have been appreciated.

Water/GU stops: The first – and only – GU stop was at mile 1. Yes – mile 1. Had I had known, I would have gotten some, but of course I didn’t want any at mile 1. Had it been anywhere after mile 5, I would have loved it.

The chip timing: There was something wrong with my chip, in that it activated before I even started the race and crossed the starting line. B and I started about halfway back from the race start with the 9 min/mile group and ran basically hand in hand – and we didn’t cross the starting line until about 1:50. But when I checked my time, it said that my clock time and chip time were the same – and I started at 0:00. I checked B’s time and his chip time was 1:51 faster than his clock time (which makes sense) and it said he started at 1:51. Anyway, let’s just pretend then that I ran 1:51 min faster than the “clock” time says – okay?

So there you have it – my first sub-2 hour half marathon is in the books! I can check that off my list finally. Hope everyone has had a good start to racing season!

just after crossing the finish line - B, me and his sister Katie

just after crossing the finish line – B, me and his sister Katie

Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon Race Recap (part 1)

Last weekend, B and I ran the Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon. Overall it was a decent race, a pretty flat course and pretty well run. AND it was the first half marathon I’ve run in under 2 hours – my time was 1:57:31. But it wasn’t easy. Here are my first 10 splits:

These are times from B's watch - he and I ran together for about 10 miles.

These are times from B’s watch – he and I ran together for about 10 miles.

I’ll give some overall feedback on the race course and logistics tomorrow, but today, since I’m sure you were wondering, here’s what was going through my mind:

Mile 1: Wow, this is fast. But B is leading the way and has a GPS timer so we must be on pace. My feet feel funny.

there I am at the start in the yellow and vest!

there I am at the start in the yellow and vest!

Mile 2: Wow that WAS fast. 8-something per mile? But at least my feet feel better. Taking two days off from running was a good idea. Was that a GU stop? Darnit, should’ve taken some for later.

Mile 3: We passed the 2-hour pacers! Woohoo! Just gotta keep this up. Maybe my body is finally getting used to running outside again.

Mile 4: I wonder where the turnaround is. If it’s at the halfway point, then I’m more than halfway to the halfway point. Yay! Is B running faster again?

Mile 5: Why are we turning around now? Why does B keep running faster? I can’t keep this up for 7 more miles. Or is it 8 more miles? And why did the sign say 6 miles? Have we run 6 miles?

Mile 6: If I had run the 7k I’d be more than done right now. I really wish B would slow down. Or at least just let me run alone. He keeps running ahead of me and then motioning me to speed up. I’m running as fast as I can!

Mile 7: Just gotta keep ahead of those pacers. I need water. I need Gu. I can’t believe I missed the last water stop. It’s SO HOT. Wearing 2 shirts and a vest was a bad idea. Why won’t B slow down?

Mile 8: Thank goodness B slowed down to share his hammergel with me. But I’m SO HOT. Still. And why do those pacers keep getting closer and closer? How does B keep feeling so good? I can barely talk. Or think. Just gotta keep this up.

Mile 9: I am dying. I was so excited to run a sub-2 hour half marathon, but I went out too hard. Thank goodness I didn’t blog about running a sub-2 hour. Or did I? I can’t remember who I told. I wonder if I had gone out slower .. then I wouldn’t feel so awful right now. Why does B keep slowing down and then running ahead of me? It’s so annoying. Can’t he just leave me be?

Mile 10: Though I can barely talk, I finally convinced B to leave me. Now just gotta stay ahead of the pacers. Just gotta keep ahead of the pacers. Oh. Or just behind the pacers. They started ahead of us, so if I finish just behind them I’m sure to get a sub-2 hour time. I need water. How is my right hand so big? I swear my right hand has swollen up to the size of my face. It’s huge. If I’m careful, can I take my phone out of my pocket and take a picture? Nobody is going to believe me that my hand is this big. That would take too much effort. It’s so hot. Oh wait, we’re turning  and now facing the wind. Brr! Maybe my hand will get cold and shrink down. But now I’m running into the wind. Which is harder, right?

just behind the pacers

just behind the pacers (picture from B’s sister in law who had run the 7k – thanks Katie!)

Mile 11: Where. Are. We. Going? Why is everyone passing me? How has there been no water stop recently? Why are we passing the entrance to the finish? What did that guy say? One more loop until we’re done? Why is there even a loop? Why are people running toward me? There’s no room on the path for both of us!

Mile 12: Where is B? Where are the pacers? I wonder if I can just slow down and enjoy this last mile. But what if I’m close? At least this can be a PR. Just. Keep. Going. Now I’m running toward people. There’s no room on this tiny path for traffic going both ways! Splash. Yipes. Almost slid into that ice pit.

Mile 13: Oh that girl is not passing me. I got this. Oh my god I can see the finish line! And the timer! And it says 1:59! Ah! And I know I started at 1:50. Omgomgomgomgomg. I’m running under the finish!! Let me look up and get the worst race finish photo ever.

[insert worst race finish photo ever … what you didn’t actually think I’d let you see that, did you?]

St. Patrick’s Weekend in Chicago AND Meeting a Running Goal!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Growing up in an Italian and Jewish household in upstate NY, I admittedly didn’t really know much about St. Patrick’s Day. I never wore green (and remember being confused about why everyone it seemed in my elementary school was), and didn’t try corned beef and cabbage until I was way into my 20. That being said, living in Boston and then Cleveland, both two very Irish cities that wholeheartedly embrace the holiday- and marrying into an Irish family- I’ve learned to embrace the holiday and enjoy everything about the celebration. Including the color green.

Anyway, this year, B and I had decided to check out the St. Patrick’s weekend celebrations in a city I heard knew how to party – as well as get in a half marathon – the Get Lucky Chicago Half Marathon (full recap coming soon).

It was an AWESOME weekend. For a few reasons:

1. I love Chicago and it was so fun to see the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations – including the river turning green!

2. We were lucky enough to spend the weekend and celebrate with a few of B’s siblings – his sister Mary drove in from Cleveland, and his sister Katie (her boyfriend lives in Chicago) and his brother John (who goes to school in Chicago) – and B’s cousin Tom who was in town visiting a friend.

3. I MET MY HALF MARATHON GOAL!!!

Yes, that’s right – I finally got a sub-two hour half marathon, coming in at 1:57:32. It’s been my goal to get this done for a while, and I really didn’t think that I’d make it this race. I hadn’t done enough outdoor runs thanks to the wonderful winter we’d been having – and the ones that I had done had been far from as speedy as I’d been running this summer. Like 30 seconds – 1 minute/slower per mile slow – oof!

Anyway, I’ll post more about the race later, but here are some highlights from a gorgeous green weekend. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We started Saturday off at the Get Lucky Half Marathon and 7k. There were 3 of us doing the half – B, his brother John and I – and 3 doing the 7k – his sister Katie, her boyfriend David and David’s dad.

B and me in a pre-race photo

B and me in a pre-race photo

After the race, we enjoyed our free beer and some sunny (but chilly) weather.

And then made it back downtown, cleaned up, and checked out the river. It was SO GREEN!

B and the water

B and the water

GREEN water!

GREEN water!

And of course we made time for some deep dish pizza! Giordanos FTW. We met up with B’s cousin, Tom and his friend and feasted. I gave up meat for Lent so while B and the rest of the guys were eating the pepperoni and sausage pizza, I got the veggie feast. It was amazing.

the guys' meaty pizza

the guys’ meaty pizza

Decked out in green and awaiting our pizza. Doesn't the race sweatshirt that B's wearing look awesome?

Decked out in green and awaiting our pizza. Doesn’t the race sweatshirt that B’s wearing look awesome?

Not photographed, but also fun: some shopping downtown, eating a delicious meal at a place called Naf Naf (it’s like Chipotle for Middle Eastern food … aka amazing!), and of course some St. Patrick’s drinks.

Some questions for you:

  • Have you ever been to Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day?
  • Have you taken a weekend trip for a race before? I have been wanting to do this for a while. Go to a new city, run a Saturday half marathon, and then spend the rest of the Saturday and Sunday just siteseeing.
  • When is your next race?
  • What are your St. Patrick’s Day plans?

A Midwest Vacation – Milwaukee (+ Chicago)!

B and I just got back from an amazing vacation. Last year, we took advantage of the Fourth of July holiday to fly to Ireland and spend time in Dublin, Galway, Doolin and even London (yes I know that’s not in Ireland but while we were over there I had to make a stop in London before the Olympics!). This year, we opted to stay in the U.S. but instead drive to a few neighboring cities – Milwaukee and Chicago!

What a great week! We only spent one night in Chicago (we’ve both been there before) and spent the rest of the week in Milwaukee. Meaning I also got to check a NEW state off my list – Wisconsin! (side note to my non Midwest friends and family, Wisconsin is just north/northwest of Illinois! I had no idea either, but now that I live in Ohio I’m becoming much more used to learning about all these states that I never really knew much about as a New Yorker)

DEEP DISH PIZZA IN CHICAGO (yes, CAPS are necessary)

DEEP DISH PIZZA IN CHICAGO (yes, CAPS are necessary)

B and me in the bean!

B and me in the bean!

So after those photos from Chicago, let’s talk Milwaukee. Here are a few highlights from our trip, plus recommendations if you plan on stopping by or planning a Milwaukee visit soon:

7 Ways to Spend A Week in Milwaukee

1. Enjoying the Local Fare and Dining Out: Obviously dining is pretty important. Why visit a place without enjoying the local fare? We ate quite a few good meals out, including Thai food at a restaurant called The King and Thai, dinner at the Brat House (I’ll let you guess what we had there), brunch at a Belgian place called Benelux and more. At the Thai place we shared spring rolls, Tom Yum soup and then I got the spicy tofu/eggplant dish. At Benelux, I had a quinoa/squash breakfast skillet. B also got one of their famous Bloody Marys, which came with a “beer chaser.” Not a bad start to our day! Not pictured, we also enjoyed brunch at a french cafe Coquette, some German food at the local Hofbrau House (including some “pig wings” which B loves, plus reuben rolls which are like spring rolls but have reubens inside) and a pretzel the size of my head … or even bigger … at the Brat House.

Yum. Appetizer at the King and Thai (spring rolls before my eggplant came out)

Yum. Appetizer at the King and Thai (spring rolls before my eggplant came out)

Benelux Bloody Mary and beer chaser. Yum!

Benelux Bloody Mary and beer chaser. Yum!

BEST brunch at Benelux- quinoa, squash and eggs!

BEST brunch at Benelux- quinoa, squash and eggs!

The Brat House special!

The Brat House special!

2. Listening to Music All Day and Outside at Summerfest: One of the reasons we decided to go the Milwaukee (I know, you were wondering how we ended up there for our week off – don’t worry, “Why Milwaukee?” is a completely common question) was that it was their annual Summerfest music festival. For two weeks, there is an all-day (morning through around midnight) music festival right on their lake. And you know how much I love water! Each day there are several stages that feature various bands performing throughout the day, and at night in addition to the smaller stages there are also some larger stages with larger headliners performing (Rush, John Mayer, fun., Tim McGraw, etc.). Oh, and did I mention that it was only $10? Yup. For $10 (plus my $3.75 delicious peanut butter cup ice cream cone and $7 Greek dinner) B and I each got to see about 12 hours of live music, including Barenaked Ladies (hellllo my middleschool years!) and Guster!!! (yes, I loved Guster in college. And saw them several times performing in Boston. Along with almost all other Boston College ladies)

Enjoying Summerfest

Enjoying Summerfest

3. Going For Daily Runs and Walking Around: When we got to our hotel, we parked our car and then didn’t have to take it out again until we left. We walked EVERYWHERE (well except to Miller Park … see below) which I of course love. And Milwaukee has some good walking/running paths – both along the river and along the lake. For walking, I preferred the Riverwalk downtown, but for our morning runs (I got out for a run each day but one) I preferred running to the lake and then taking advantage of their waterfront paths and parks. There is just something I LOVE about running along water, with a city on the other side of me. We also got out for a run along Chicago’s lakefront – check out the view!

Running in Milwaukee

Running in Milwaukee. Love the view of the city and the lake.

Heeeeey, it's the Fonz! (seen along the Riverwalk)

Heeeeey, it’s the Fonz! (seen along the Riverwalk)

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LOVE running along the lake. Favorite way to see a city = going for a run.

4. Checking Out the Unique Neighborhoods: Milwaukee didn’t seem to have a real downtown area. They had a few neighborhoods but no real city center. My favorite neighborhood was probably the Historic Third Ward, which reminded me a lot of Ohio City or Tremont (or Tremont in a few years). It had cute little shops, nicer boutiques, nice shopping (hellllo Lululemon and Anthro!), fun dining (including Benelux and Coquette) and my favorite – The Public Market. I’m not a huge brat person, so while B was perfectly content with feasting on brats and beer at the Brat House, I was more excited to take advantage of the fresh salads and other foods at the Public Market. Oh, and just browsing around this covered indoor market was fun – they had candy vendors, food, coffee, spices, souvenirs/apparel, and even a cheese stand with a few samples. Yup, more cheese samples!

Entrance to the Historic Third Ward (and see the market in the background!)

Entrance to the Historic Third Ward (and see the market in the background!)

Checking out the neighborhood by the lake. That's the art museum in the background! (yes we went there)

Checking out the neighborhood by the lake. That’s the art museum in the background! (yes we went there)

5. Brewers Game: We were lucky enough to see a Brewer’s game when we were in town! I was pretty excited for the game – not only because they were playing the Mets, but also because I’d heard that tailgating before Brewers games is a pretty common spectacle to expect at Miller Park. While we didn’t end up joining in any tailgates, it was cool to see all the people grilling and drinking before the game, and we also ended up taking a free shuttle from downtown (the Brat House) to the game AND the Mets won. Which my mom was happy about.

my mom was excited

my mom was excited about the Mets win

Brewers game!

Brewers game!

B scored us great seats!

B scored us great seats!

6. Taking in History at the Pabst Mansion: Not only is Milwaukee famous for Miller, but it’s also the home of Pabst! Yes, this town has a lot of beer. One morning B and I decided to walk to the old Pabst mansion to see where the Captain Pabst lived and learn more about the history of the beer all hipsters love, PBR. The mansion offers tours every hour and even though the tour was kinda long (a little over an hour), it was pretty cool. They have restored almost all the rooms in this old mansion so that you can see what life was like when the Pabst family lived there. Our tour guide was a cute old lady who clearly loved her job and knew a ton not only about that historical era, but also the house and the family. Only downside? No beer on the tour (in case you were wondering).

only in Milwaukee ...

only in Milwaukee …

B in front of the Pabst Mansion

B in front of the Pabst Mansion

7. Touring the Lakefront Brewery: B had heard great things about Lakefront Brewery, so we hustled over there for a brewery tour one day. I had a ton of fun at this tour, as our tourguide was super entertaining. Even though nearly all brewery tours are the same (guess what, they all make beer!), this tour was a bargain in terms of what you got for the admission (side note; Great Lakes in Cleveland offers FREE tours)- for $7, you got four drink tokens (each good for a free beer sample) plus two glasses to take home.  Not bad, huh? (and the tour guide may have given B two extra tokens as well … making it an even better deal!)

drinks before the brewery tour. slightly blurry, but the only picture someone took of the two of us!

drinks before the brewery tour. slightly blurry, but the only picture someone took of the two of us!

BONUS-Along the Way: The drive to Milwaukee wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Mars Cheese Castle. That’s right – a castle that sells cheese! I thought that for sure my loyalty to Grandpa’s Cheesebarn would be done for – after all, what chance does a barn have to stand up against a castle? Honestly, if you’re looking for tons of samples of cheese and other deliciousness, my vote still goes for the Cheesebarn (sorry Wisconsin folks!) – the castle had like 4 samples compared to the Cheesebarn’s 4 gazillion samples (no exaggeration there). Though we did pick up a bag of cheese curds and some Spotted Cow and other Wisconsin-only beers to enjoy – so I would still recommend the stop, but don’t go with high sample expectations.

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On the way back, we also stopped at the Jelly Belly Factory!! When I saw that there was a Jelly Belly Factory nearby, I told B we had to stop. I am slightly obsessed with jelly belly (I may be chomping on a few now haha) jelly beans, and each Easter my mom would give me a bag or a few in my Easter baskets. Oh, and I almost forgot – they had FREE JELLY BELLY SAMPLES!!

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SO many jelly beans!


I hope you all enjoyed your Fourth of July holidays.  Some questions for you:

  • Have you been to Milwaukee? What was your favorite part?
  • Favorite Easter candy?
  • Favorite type of cheese? Have you ever had cheese curds?
  • Do you like to run on vacation? What’s your perfect running location?

Chicagoooooo

No, this post will not be about the Sufjan Stevens song (Called Chicago … from the Illinoise album. hehe. get it?). Instead, it’s about how I spent my long weekend in Chicago.

B and I decided to take a much needed vacation, right when I was smack dab in the middle of the busiest month ever (yes, work is crazy busy … please don’t contact me until Dec. 1). I assumed we were just going to lay low and do a staycation, but B surprised me with a trip to CHICAGO! Growing up on the East Coast, I had not realized how doable a weekend (or 4 day) trip to Chicago would be. Weekend trips were to Vermont, Maine, Boston, NYC, etc. But in Cleveland, I can just get in the car and four (with the time change) hours later be in Chicago!

We had a GREAT weekend. We stayed in the gorgeous Palmer House Hotel  (thanks to B’s smart use of hotwire) right in the Loop, practically across the street from Millenium Park and the Bean! Our weekend consisted of three things – walking around, doing super siteseeing touristy things, and trying awesome food.

Here’s just some of the awesome stuff that we did, via photo tour:

Saw the Bean. At Night!

Checked out Wrigleyville. And Wrigley Field.

Went to the top of the Hancock building and saw some amazing views. And I even got to window wash! (jk)

Tried a Scotch egg at the Gage’s amazing brunch.

Ate deep dish pizza. Twice. (Photo below at Lou Malnati’s)

Went to Oak Park, and saw where Hemmingway (a fave of B) was born!

AND saw many really cool Frank Lloyd Wright buildings.

Tried the Chef’s tasting menu at Takashi (photo below from the dessert. it was served IN an egg shell)

Went on an Architecture Boat Tour and saw all the really cool buildings in the city

Tasted some brews (and watched an awesome Giants game!) at Goose Island Brewery, before heading to a show at Second City.

It was really an awesome awesome vacation. If you have a few days to kill, I highly recommend you take the time to drive to Chicago and see its sights and eat the food.

What’s your favorite weekend getaway?