It seems like weeks ago that we left Seattle to head east for Christmas and New Years and the time we had with family was really worth the amount of traveling that we did. Taking a look back at our lengthy holiday we accomplished rather a lot and caught up with many people!
Bryan and I had a late night flight on the 22nd into Chicago where our plane landed at midnight Chicago time. Bryan and I picked up our rental car and drove to Chad’s abode. We spent one night with Chad and one morning in his neighborhood. A crazy rain storm soaked us right threw but after the rain stopped we had a fantastic lunch at one of his favorite restaurants, Big and Little, for some delicious tacos, grabbed a coffee at Starbucks, and made our way home to East Lansing, with rain showers following us the whole way there.
Arriving on the night of the 23rd, we dropped our rental car at the Lansing airport and were picked up by the padres and headed home. We made dinner together of Mom’s famous pork and cranberries and we got cozy near the fire.
Christmas Eve greeted us with mild temperatures and sunshine. We slept in and had several presents to wrap to put under the tree. Bryan and I went for a 6.5 mile run down the River Trail and through parts of campus. The grandparents and the Krupp family came over at 5 pm to join us for the usual Christmas Eve dinner. Grandma brought over her brie and famous sweet and salty “nuts and bolts” (aka Midwesterner’s chex mix) and we all socialized while dinner was finishing. Mom made her always-delicious crab legs and clam chowder for dinner and we did all we could to finish the crab but still had tons leftover. We broke out Grandma’s Christmas cookie platter for dessert and continued enjoying each other’s company until we were all too sleepy to carry on. Once the family left we settled into watching Christmas Vacation, which seriously gets better every time we see it.
Christmas morning was a lot more relaxing for the family this year without the engagement. We woke late, filled our coffee mugs and opened each other’s presents at home. I think everyone made out quite well and I know that I LOVE my gifts! After presents, Bryan and I walked around the neighborhood to relive the “engagement walk” from last year. We packed up the car and set forth for Grandma’s house in Grand Ledge. The house was a hustle and bustle when we arrived with 13 people (including Allison home from Berlin!) and two dogs. We gathered in the living room for the opening of presents first. People made out very well this year. After presents we dug into the Christmas food potluck style. It was all delicious and this year included: meatballs, baked beans, chicken schwarma, hummus and veggies, fruit and dip, brie, cheesy potatoes, and Grandpa’s shrimp cocktail. Filled up, most of us set out for a walk around quaint Grand Ledge with the dogs. It was good to get fresh air and stretch our legs after Christmas dinner. We spent several more hours talking, snacking and watching movies before finally packing up the car and heading back home.
The day after Christmas was LAZY and wonderful! After a very slow moving morning the boys set out to go workout at Court One while Mom and I walked Sophie around the neighborhood for awhile. We came back to lunch on my favorite, Aladdin’s Lebanese food. We idled away the afternoon before Mom and I did yoga at home and then made jumbo crab cakes (with the leftover crab) and mashed potatoes for a late dinner. We sampled a lot of liquors and enjoyed another dinner at home together.
Sunday morning Bryan and I had to pack up our things as we were headed up to Traverse City for a night to get a few wedding things done. We left the house around noon and I got a free massage in Frandor before making the three hour drive up to Traverse City. We checked into our hotel right on the West Bay at the Bayfront and then headed next door to catch the first bit of the Seahawks game and share a burger (half-priced) and beer as a snack. Our first appointment of the trip was with Moomer’s Ice Cream Parlor to talk wedding cakes! Leaving the appointment we had seven different flavors of ice cream samples that we took back to our hotel to save for after dinner. We next made our way into town and settled on Franklin’s for dinner. The cool space was inviting and comfortable. I chose the four beer sampler, with mostly dark brews from Michigan and was very happy with my choice. Bryan and I decided on splitting the schnitzel plate and the sides of Brussels and barley and cauliflower with candied peanuts. Everything was amazingly flavorful and unique and we ate every bit. Well priced too; we left without breaking the bank. We headed back to the hotel to hot tub for awhile and then broke out the ice creams for taste-testing. Best part of the trip! Not one bad flavor to choose from but thankfully we were able to decisively pick out our cake flavors! Stuffed and happy we fell asleep and slept really well to the sound of the waves only a few feet away from us.
Monday morning we woke up early to check out of the hotel and drive to Leland, where we will be getting married. It was a nice and easy drive there and we got there just before 10 am. Bryan and I first headed to the beach to check it out for ourselves and take pictures. We walked through town to see the stores, the shops in Fishtown, and then headed to the Old Art Building. We met again with Becky to tour the inside of the venue one more time, taking a bunch of pictures that I didn’t have from the first time and talking a few more details. It was a very helpful visit. Leaving the Old Art Building we found four of the cottages that we rented and stopped by the Whaleback Inn, approving of all, before heading back down the peninsula. Our last appointment for the trip was at Catering by Kelly’s for our menu tasting. The table was already set for us and Dan Kelly was finishing cooking our tastings. We started with a very delicious and summery salad and mini crab cakes and caprese bruschetta. We then got to try the sliced steak, potatoes, and the salmon and walleye (as an alternative). Dan sat down with us to talk about the menu and we left with a much better idea of what our menu will entail.
Heading back down state we were in a rush to beat the weather. An ice storm was moving up from the south and Chicago and starting just about the time we were leaving. We didn’t hit the storm until Mt. Pleasant and then the traveling got slower but we kept safe and had no trouble making it back to my parents house. Both my parents were home with my dad being sent home from work because of the weather (this never happens in Michigan!). We filled them in with what we saw and did and then Bryan and I did a mini workout before the four of us braving the weather and heading to one of my favorites, El Azteco. Although the restaurant was closing early due to the weather they still graciously sat us. We shared two pitchers of margaritas and one large topopo salad and Bryan tried the enchiladas. We had a fun time at El Az and our last night with the parents.
Tuesday was just a travel day. Bryan and I were dropped off at the Lansing airport by mom to pick up our rental car to head back to Chicago. The 3.5 hour drive was smooth and we arrived at O’Hare with plenty of time for Bryan to get his hair cut and beard trimmed (haphazardly!), dropped off the rental car, made our way through security and had a mystery shop dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s sit down restaurant in the airport. Bryan and I split their delicious tortilla soup and chicken meatballs for appetizers and then Bryan got the bacon wrapped meatloaf and I got the salmon with cauliflower puree and brocollini. We decided to walk the airport to stretch our legs before our flights left, which was delayed 30 minutes. It was a good idea before getting on our flight. Our flight was smooth and fast, getting us to Laguardia Airport in New York around 10:30 pm, where Josh was waiting for us to take us to their house in Congers.
The New York and New Year’s trip continued…