Tag Archives: family

Chicago to Savannah: Family Road Trip Recap

My mom turned 60 the week of Thanksgiving, and so my brother, Kevin, and I decided that we would plan a family vacation — something we really hadn’t done in the better part of a decade — to celebrate. I love to give people experiences instead of stuff. This vacation was a chance to be in the moment (I barely glanced at e-mail all week), give back as adults and create some great memories with the fam. It was awesome to include Joe in a family event less emotionally fraught than wedding planning, too. Grab a mug of tea for a recap with all the details!


We chose Savannah because we were interested in going somewhere that would be warmish in late fall, that had sightseeing potential (but wasn’t super cheesy touristy) and since my mom had always talked of visiting neighboring Hilton Head and Savannah is the birthplace of Girl Scouts, it felt like the right fit. I’m so glad we made this our destination! We had just the right amount of time to explore, and the city was super easy to navigate. And Spanish moss. Everywhere.

Kevin and I wanted to cover most of the trip expenses because, let’s be real – it’s not much of a present if you’re like “Yay! We’re taking you on a vacation! Now buy your $500 plane ticket!” but we’re on a budget and so we started to look into driving the nearly 1,000 miles there. I got a pretty sweet deal on a Ford Escape by calling and pre-paying with Avis (unlimited miles) and we listed all four adults as drivers for the 14+ hour trek. Kevin is a consultant who has a ridiculous stash of Marriott points and gets government hotel rates, so he hooked us up with lodging. Of course, we downloaded Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil audiobook and listened to part of it on the way there.

Day 1: Chicago to Asheville, NC. With a spontaneous pit stop at a fried chicken place worthy of a historical marker.

We decided to get the long drive out of the way first, stopping at a rest area for a picnic lunch and then making a spur-of-the-moment decision to visit the original KFC/Colonel Sanders Cafe in Kentucky, which was just goofy and random enough to make us feel like we were on a genuine road trip.


We stayed at the Grand Bohemian in Asheville, which was pretty luxe (thanks, Kev!) and right outside the Biltmore Estate. The hotel sent up champagne and snacks to help toast my mom, since we’d set out on her actual birthday, and we were able to get a late dinner of awesome burgers at the Village Wayside, a short walk down the street. (It was tempting to go to the fanciest McDonalds and Hardees we’d ever seen, but I’m glad we stuck to local flavor!)


We got up early and headed to the Biltmore for a tour of one of the country’s oldest and most opulent privately owned residences. I assumed it was owned by a nonprofit Foundation, a la Des Moines’ Salisbury House, but not so. Tickets are pricey, plus you could pay an extra $10-20 for an audio or guided tour. But the grounds and home are a marvel and my mom really wanted to go. We started in the gardens and then wound our way through the two-hour self-guided house tour. We scoped out downtown Asheville quickly, “fueling up” at Asheville Brewing Co. before we hit the road. Note: Planning a trip through Asheville and Savannah while pregnant and unable to partake in the alcoholic beverages is a mild form of torture.

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Filed under BS outside the Midwest

July, July

We had a hot birthday weekend down at the farm, with air so heavy with humidity that you felt like you should suck it through a straw, if you weren’t already sipping a specially mixed beverage out of a whole pineapple.

(The OXO racheting pineapple slicer Joe brought home from a work demo was a big hit! It cores, it slices into a sweet spiral and it creates a vessel for a tropical cocktail. A totally unnecessary kitchen utensil that doubles as a party trick.)

I only have a point-and-shoot camera, but I felt compelled to capture all of the angles and wildflowers. We typically head to Cash Farm later in summer and fall, so it was a treat to explore the property in a wild bloom.

Mia and I went on a long walk down the gravel rode and gathered up a little bouquet and moooed at the cows, who then came running toward the fence, scary stampede style.

Ty defied gravity. (Note to self: When it looks like kids might be trying to DIY a zipline, they’re definitely attempting to DIY a zipline.)

Beer was brewed, pinatas broken. Dogs tongues lolled around. They wanted water, and this:

We all rather like it down at the farm.

It felt nice to take it slow. These next few weeks are going to be a whirlwind.

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Filed under Iowa adventures

A Scrabble get-well

My wonderful Grandpa is in the hospital with pneumonia, and since I can’t be there passing the time playing Scrabble with him, I made this little picture card to post to his Facebook wall. Yes, my g-pa, who turns 90 in May, is an active Facebook user. Ha!

I think he will especially like the use of “hastily”* instead of soon. Stays true to the Scrabble form, scores more points and is generally his sense of humor. (Grandpa likes to call Sloppy Joes “Untidy Josephs,” etc. Grandparent humor!

*UPDATE* I couldn’t sleep because I just realized QUICKLY would have scored more points. Argh!

Speaking of how awesome my Grandpa is, we finally were able to rescue this cooking video we made together from the clutches of my old hard drive. I’m pretty sure we’re just one Buzzfeed link away from making him a viral video sensation 😉

But seriously, if you enjoy older gentlemen in tuxedo aprons and bad camera work and editing, check out this video we made documenting his beef stew recipe.



Filed under Cooking

Goodbye, summer!

The end of summer tastes like Iowa pork chops.

It smells like a campfire.

It feels like dew that rains all over your toes.

Its golden hour looks like this:

Cash farm is a green haven for the long Labor Day weekend with Joe’s mom’s big family. Everyone sets up tents and the kitchen overflows with food and there’s music, whiskey, late nights, early morning Mass in town on Sunday and “graveyard” games (which aren’t played in the graveyard).

I used the quiet time to read My Ántonia (which is breathtaking; any lover of the Little House books will feel right at home in this prairie story) and recharge after a busy summer. Things won’t slow down much this fall, I’m afraid, but it’s sweet to have a marker between the seasons like this.

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