Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mug o' Comfort Swap Reveal

I mentioned a month ago that I was participating in the Mug o' Comfort Swap through the Chaotic Goddess Swaps here. For this swap I had the pleasure of being partnered with Jeni from Jeni Eats. She has a fantastic food blog where she shares recipes from meals she prepares at home, as well as restaurant reviews from eats on the road. I am so glad for the opportunity to discover Jeni's blog because two of my favorite things are cooking and eating! I love to follow along to see what she makes next.

Here is what I sent Jeni:

I chose an oversize mug from C Wonder. In addition, I included a $5 gift card to Starbucks, a box of Tazo tea and a chocolate treat.

Here is what she sent me:

I love that she chose local made products to send. The mug is from Market 124 and the honey came from Griffin Bee Farm in Iowa.

She also sent along a little note with this great postcard:

Don't forget to check out Jeni's blog. And make sure to join in the swap fun next time around! Check out Chaotic Goddess Swaps for more information.

Mug O' Comfort Swap

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring in Madison

It has been a long, hard winter and I am so glad it is March. Although still a bit chilly for my tastes, it was nice to get outside and get some fresh air for a change. I had been cooped up at home for the past week straight finishing my comp exams for graduate school and decided to take a trip up to my hometown in Madison, WI to visit some friends for the day. 

We met for lunch at Old Fashioned on the Capitol Square then took our time walking around the city. Our first stop was the Monona Terrace, which unfortunately closes the rooftop viewing area in the winter. So we took a walk along the lake shore on the bike path instead. As warm as it feels, there were still several ice fisherman on the lake trying to take advantage of the last few weeks of the season. We then walked around the square and down State Street all the way to the UW Madison campus. Unfortunately, the Union Terrace is still closed up for the season as well. I'm looking forward to enjoying some cold beer on a hot, sunny day, staring out at the lake this summer.

On our way back to the car, we noticed the stream of people walking in and out of the Capitol building so we walked inside. I haven't been in the Capitol since I was a small child in Girl Scouts and school field trips, so it was fun to check it out again. 

Madison is a great walkable city with lots of fun activities (my favorites are in the summer). I'm looking forward to many more weekend visits in the near future. My short trip was just what I needed to relax after a tough week.

Wisconsin State Capitol

Wisconsin State Capitol

Wisconsin State Capitol

Miss Forward Statue at Wisconsin State Capitol

Inside the Capitol

Inside the Capitol

Walkway to the Monona Terrace
Bike path along Lake Monona near the Monona Terrace

How did you spend your weekend?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Jerpoint Abbey

We left for our honeymoon the day after our wedding in September 2009. In hindsight we should have given ourselves a few days to recover from all of the stress and excitement before heading off on our honeymoon adventure, but I just couldn't wait to get started! We spent two weeks in Europe, touring through several cities in Ireland and Italy. My husband is Irish so Ireland was a must see destination for him. I chose Italy. I have been in love with Italy since I was a child hearing all about the ancient ruins from my grandparents as they cruised their way through the first decade of their retirement.  I knew I just had to go there someday to see them all for myself.

So on our honeymoon my husband and I elected to spend 4 days in Ireland and 8 days in Italy to visit all of the places we'd always dreamed about. Once we arrived in Dublin we immediately rented a car and drove down to Kilkenny for the first night. We checked into a lovely Bed and Breakfast and then headed out to explore Jerpoint Abbey. The Abbey is located about 25 minutes outside Kilkenny by car. Our first experience driving in Ireland was quite frightening! We were driving on the wrong side of curvy roads that are much narrower than home. I spent most of the drive to Kilkenny thinking I was going to die, but we made it! 

Jerpoint Abbey was built in the 12th century by the Cistercians. As you can see it is now only in ruins. It was raining on and off our first day in Ireland so we had the place almost to ourselves. Being the first stop on our honeymoon, this abbey will always hold a special place in my heart.  

Have you visited Ireland? What is one of your favorite memories?

Travel Tuesday

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thinking Spring

I don't know about you, but I've had more than I can take of the cold temperatures and snowy forecast. We are now in March and I have spring on my mind even if there is several feet of snow still piled up in my yard right now. I'm inspired by pinks and pastels and floral prints to put me in the mood for warmer weather.

Here are a few things I am loving right now:

What has you thinking Spring?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Milan

The final stop on our honeymoon tour of Europe was Milan. My husband was hoping to catch a soccer game during our stay, but the timing wasn't right and there weren't any home games scheduled during our visit. However, we did have a lovely time exploring the city. We ended up staying in Milan for just one day but we did have time to view The Last Supper painting and visit the famous Duomo. 

When viewing the painting by Leonardo da Vinci it is easy to understand why he is a master of his craft. His fresco appears to be a 3D diagram rather than merely a painting on the wall. I am so glad it has been preserved as well as it has. Seeing the painting in person was a bucket list wish of mine and well worth the trip in itself for me.  I don't have a photograph as you aren't allowed to take pictures, but the image below is the church wall it was painted on and the museum built around it to protect it from further damage for generations to come. 

Santa Maria delle Grazie - Last Supper Fresco

I am a fan of architecture, as you can see in this post. In Italy attention is paid to details. Even the train station in Milan is beautiful.

Train Station

Finally we visited the cathedral in Milan. The duomo in Milan is breath taking. 



Have you been to Milan? What was your must see attraction? 

Travel Tuesday

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Chicago City Sights: Chicago Botanic Garden

One of my favorite spots in the Chicago area to visit is the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Although not located within the city limits of Chicago, the gardens are well worth the visit. Throughout the year the flowers on display are changed out to complement the current season. 

The photos below were taken over previous summer visits to the gardens. Looking out my window today, during the first week of March, seeing several inches of snow leaves me yearning for the beautiful summer days ahead. For now I'll just have to settle for these photos.      

The gardens feature several different water spots including the many fountains, waterfalls and ponds. The Japanese garden and large waterfall across form it are among my favorites.

And of course hundreds of varieties of plants and flowers:

 Have you visited the Chicago Botanic Gardens? What did you love most?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Yellowstone National Park

In September 2012, we traveled to Bozeman, Montana for a family wedding. Since we were making the trip we decided to spend a few extra days in town checking out some of the local sites. One of those days we took a drive out to Yellowstone National Park. Had it not been for this trip I don't know that I would have made a point of visiting this national treasure, but I'm glad I did.

The park is huge and we only saw a small portion of it in one day. We spent most of our time checking out the many geysers including Old Faithful. I was hoping to see some of the wildlife, but unfortunately we didn't spot much until we were making our final drive out of the park at the end of the day.  And that was only from a distance.

When we arrived in the park, our first stop was to visit the Old Faithful Geyser. It is aptly named as it erupts on a regular basis. We had about an hour until the next eruption so we followed the boardwalk path behind the geyser to explore the hot springs.  

We made it back around to witness Old Faithful in action.

Old Faithful Geyser

Next, we drove to another geyser. We waited for over an hour and never did see anything other than some smoke and gurgling. Since this geyser was less popular and less predictable there were few tourists and it was quite peaceful to take in the atmosphere. 

As our last stop on our way out of the park we hiked around some formations.  

Have you visited Yellowstone National Park? What was your favorite experience? 

Travel Tuesday