Scenes From Our Gorgeous Getaway to Galena, IL {Pictures}

Scenes From Our Gorgeous Getaway to Galena, IL {Pictures}

My family and I went on a 4 day getaway to beautiful Galena, IL. Who knew Illinois could be so pretty?! We rented the most GORGEOUS lake house (think Chip and Joanna Gaines style). It was STUNNING, massive, and right on the water. PERFECT. We shopped at gorgeous boutiques, ate delicious food, played many rounds of Uno, went on a 3 mile hike (where a snake slithered right up to my foot!), roasted S’mores, and enjoyed this special time with just the 4 of us. Here are some snapshots that I took of our lovely trip 🙂

Thank you for allowing me to share a bit of my personal life with you today. I’ll be back on Wednesday with a post all about the books that I purchased while on my trip (I bought 4)!

Have you been to Galena, IL? Highly recommend. This was our 2nd trip there and I cant wait to return for a 3rd!

Until next time…

Xo,

Jenny

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

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I Was Stuck On A Mountain in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Hiiiiii!!!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday. My family of 4 spent 9 days in Gatlingburg, Tennessee. We rented a log cabin on the top of a mountain. It first it was beautiful and magical…and then we got stuck on it during a blizzard!

Traveling during a pandemic can be done as long as you have clear expectations of what you are willing and are not willing to do in terms of your safety comfort level. Our family drove 12 hours (no airplane), stayed at a private log cabin (no hotel room), wiped down the entire cabin with Clorox wipes upon arrival, brought our own pillows, only ate outdoors at restaurants, didn’t do any tourist attractions, stayed away from all crowded areas, wore masks EVERYWHERE, etc.

Our 9 day trip can be broken down into 3 distinct categories: 1. Serene Mountains 2. Snowy Mountains 3. Stranded on a Mountain.

The beginning of our trip was peaceful, beautiful, and wonderful.

Our log cabin was BEAUTIFUL. It was completely private and quite literally on top of a mountain. It had an indoor pool (!!!), 2 hot tubs, a pool table, a fireplace, 2 balconies, and a Christmas tree! It was gorgeous and it smelled absolutely divine.

In the master suite. My husband refused to get in this one (!) but the kids and I loved it, lol!
Hanging on the refrigerator in our cabin!
Jon and I snuck outside to enjoy a peaceful few minutes in the rain. It was as glorious as it looks.
At one point, I looked down from our master bedroom loft and found my daughter just peacefully reading a book. PROUD MAMA.

We went on a family hike each day and saw some absolutely gorgeous sights! Hiking to the top of Laurel Falls was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip. The long hike up was BEAUTIFUL but there aren’t even words to describe seeing the waterfall at the top. Truly one of the most magnificent things I have ever seen. I cried! If you are ever in the area, this is absolutely a must do. Stunning.

When you hike to the top of a mountain, you reward yourself with a snack. Best apple of my life!

We also loved driving (and walking) through Cades Cove. Two separate times deer came right up in front of our car! Such a fun way to spend an entire morning. So much history there, we loved going into the log cabins and old churches.

Wild turkeys just strolling along the road next to us. No big deal.
When you see a random waterfall on the road as you are driving, you pull over! Gorgeous!
Oh hi, deer.
Saw deer, immediately pulled over! So, so cool.

I found $90 cash in the bathroom at Cades Cove! I waited and waited to see if anybody was going to come back to look for it but nobody did. I was hesitant to turn it into the visitors center considering it was cash and anyone working could have taken it. My wonderful husband had the lovely idea to put it in one of the Cades Cove donation boxes and that’s exactly what we did (after already having donated our own money hours earlier). It felt great to know that the $90 went to such a wonderful cause although I so wish the owner would have come back for it. Either way it wasn’t my money to spend and it feels good to know it went to a wonderful cause 🙂

The first 6 days of our trip were spent in lovely weather. We ate outside! We hiked up mountains! We drove to Asheville and visited the Botanical Gardens!

Gatlinburg Nature Trail
Gatlinburg Nature Trail
Reading with my girl. Happy.
Paula Deen Store!
Wherever I go, I find the Dunkin’…

And then on Day 7…

SNOW.

Our loooooong and steep driveway
Grill at our cabin
Bear proof garbage cans at our cabin

Like….blizzard out of NOWHERE. I’ve never seen anything like that before. The snow just kept coming and coming! We played outside and it was honestly my favorite part of the entire trip. It was POURING on us! At one point I wrote “MOM” in the snow and 2 minutes later it was all filled in. Craaaazy. I LOVE SNOW and this snow was STUNNING. Felt like a such a bonus to have this happen while we were there…almost like 2 completely different trips in 1!

Had the weather forecast predicted this blizzard, we would have left a day or 2 earlier than planned just to ensure that we would be able to do the 12 hour drive but it legit just came out of NOWHERE.

So we played in it and sat in our hot tub on our balcony while it fell. At this point in the trip, the snow was still exciting.

Jon and I 🙂
Christmas Eve. Snowy perfection!

We went to bed that night wondering what this was going to mean for our ride home the next day ….and then in the middle of the night our power went out. IT. WAS. FREEZING. Our cabin must have been 50 degrees by early morning. It was so incredibly cold. Thank goodness for warm robes and a gas fireplace! I brushed my teeth and packed our stuff all by the light of a flashlight. The power was out for a total of 7.5 hours. The MINUTE is came on I very literally RAN to the coffee maker and made the absolute fastest pot of coffee of my entire life. I was so afraid that the power would go out again and I needed this pocket of time to make a pot of coffee! Being stuck on a mountain with no power, no car, and no food…scary. But no coffee??? TERRIFYING.

5:00 AM. FREEZING.

Our driveway was absolutely massive, steep, and covered in ice. Jon tried to back our AWD SUV down it and…this happened.

Shit.

So that’s when things started to get a bit…interesting. Our car was stuck, we were stuck, and our food supply was quickly dwindling. Instacart wasn’t delievering, restaurants weren’t delivering, local grocery stores weren’t delivering. Grubhub, Ubereats, Door Dash…NOTHING. We desperatly tried and tried to place orders but soon after they were placed, they would get canceled. Yet we kept trying because we very literally had no choice. Roadside Assistance and all local towing companies were completely backed up. Cars were literally stuck EVERYWHERE! Blocking streets, blocking mountain paths, blocking everything. We very literally couldn’t leave and had absolutely nobody who could help us. So thankful that the cabin management company allowed for us to stay an an extra night. We truly had no way to leave!

Stuck on a mountain.

We basically spent all of Saturday on our phones trying to find someone to help us with our car and trying to find ANYWHERE to deliver us food (all with a HORRIBLE Internet connection)! We placed Instacart order after Instacart order and restaurant order after restaurant order and they all would inevidbly just get canceled. At this point we were tired, hungry, and feeling pretty helpless.

Our kids…omg our kids…they were WONDERFUL through all of this! They kept themselves busy while we tried to figure all of this out. We played Go Fish, Uno, and Family Trivial Pursuit to pass the time all while still trying to find someone on our phones to help us. I taught them the quote “You can’t always control what happens but you can always control how you react”. It was a perfect time for a life lesson!

And then…HOPE! After 2 days of searching, we finally found a pizza restaurant that agreed to deliver to us! We watched and watched the GPS as the car got closer and closer to us and when it was 1 minute away…it encountered a truck blocking the street and couldn’t get through. The delivery driver turned around and we were once again left hungry, frustrated, and exhausted.

About an hour later, we received a notification that another restaurant was coming (at this point we had placed multiple orders with multiple restaurants and would have gladly accepted ALL of them if need be) and….

THEY CAME!!!!

Our excitment was short lived though. Our order was for Jon S. and we received an order for John L. At this point, all we could do was laugh and dig in to John L’s food. Let’s just say that John L. had apparently placed a VERY different order than Jon S….but by this point, nobody cared. WE HAD FOOD. I don’t eat anything spicy and I hate rye bread. Corned beef with spicy mustard on rye bread??? YES PLEASE! I literally ate every last crumb. John L. wherever you are, I hope you enjoyed my turkey on whole wheat…

Once we ate, everything seemed better. Yes we were still stuck on a mountain but we were stuck on a mountain with a bit of food and power. However, we had no toothbrushes because I had thrown them away when packing by flashlight that morning. Does anyone else do that? Every time we go on vacation, I always throw our toothbrushes (and shower loofahs) away before we return home! Usually when I do that, it’s ok because we go home the same day. This time however, I maaaaaay have done that a bit prematurily. Oops.

Garbage that we couldn’t take outside because the bear proof garbage cans were locked…and the lock froze!

The next morning the very first thing we did was to search for a restaurant to deliver us both breakfast and lunch at the same time. The roads were a bit clearer by this point, it was no longer Christmas, and we continued to put a massive tip on our order. WE FOUND A RESTAURANT TO DELIVER TO US.

1 hour later and we had ice cold scrambled eggs, soggy pancakes, brown banana slices, and strange looking meats. It was one of the most delicious meals of my entire life and I was thankful for every single bite!!! I will never, ever take food for granted ever again.

We spent the entire morning once again on our phones trying to find a towing service to come and help us to get our car out of the ditch. A few claimed that they would get to us…as soon as they could. It did not look promising. Jon spent time scraping 1/4 of the massive driveway with a tiny windshield ICE SCRAPER because there wasn’t a shovel anywhere to be found. It was nuts!

If you know me in real life you know that I always try to find the humor in every situation. The snow shaped like a penis outside of our cabin made me smile!

By this point, we were slowly starting to accept the fact that we would be spending another night when suddenly…our angel showed up. A random man who was driving around the mountain with his Jeep and a towing rope just looking for people who needed help. WE NEEDED HELP! Him and Jon worked together and somehow were able to get our car OUT. There was a tiny few seconds where we thought Jon’s car might roll over down the driveway with him inside of it but I’m skipping over that part because it was terrifying. Bottom line…the car was OUT and now safely at the BOTTOM of the driveway.

The ditch where our car was. I think our tires might have mud permanently on them from now on!

It was 3:00 pm. Jon wanted to be home for work in the morning which left us with only one option: leave as soon as possible. NOT ideal to leave at 3:00 pm when you have a 12 hour drive ahead of you but we had no choice! The kids and I scrambled to repack everything while Jon walked each piece of luggage down the sheet of ice that was our ridiculously long and steep driveway. It was insane.

Once Jon loaded the car, he had to help the kids and I make our way down the ridiculously icy driveway. It was scary.

Our car ride home was LONG. Longest car ride of my entire life. When we walked in the door of our house at 2:30 in the morning (exactly 12 hours after we left because there was a time change), I was so thankful to be safely at home.

Looking back on our time in Tennessee, I am choosing to remember the amaaaaazing 3/4 of our time there! I’m also feeling very blessed in knowing that our situation in that cabin could have been much, much worse. We had each other and that was all we needed (although heat, lights, COFFEE, and food were all very much appreciated).

Thank you for allowing me to share a bit of my personal life with you today! Obviously you can tell that I spent time reading while in Tennessee. I read an AMAZING book on this trip! It was almost 400 pages, I devoured it while in that cabin, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I’ll post my full review of it here on Wednesday!

As for now, I’m currently reading this book. It’s about people who rent a luxurious cabin on top of a mountain, get snowed in without power, and then start DYING. Thank GOD I started reading this once I safely got back home, reading this while stuck on that mountain would most definitely NOT have been a good choice, lol. Crazy to think that I actually DID have it with me in my suitcase! Thankfully it remained unopened until I was safely back in my own house with lots of power and lots of food 🙂

Happy New Year!

Xo,

Jenny

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

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Our Amazing Return Visit To Spring Lake, Michigan

2 months ago our family took the most lovely vacation to Spring Lake, Michigan. We rented a cottage literally on the lake and we spent a week frolicking in the water, playing in the sand, eating delicious food, and quarantining ourselves in the most wonderfully safe way. Before we even left, my husband had booked us a return visit over Labor Day weekend and we literally counted down the days from the second we got home until this last weekend. Read all about our first trip to Spring Lake HERE.

I mean…how could we NOT want to return when this was our backyard???

(For another video of this gorgeous view, check out my video on THIS POST)

I spent this last trip reading The Lies That Bind {Emily Giffin}(affiliate). It was the only book that I read while I was there and finished about 2 hours before we left to come home. I will have my full review posted later this week!

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I present to you…the best meal of the trip. Village Baker PERFECTION. We ate there not once, not twice, but THREE times over a 2 day span. IT’S SO DELICIOUS AND BEAUTIFUL THERE. One of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to. Absolutely love it there.

2 eggs, cheddar cheese, grilled Asiago cheese scone. And heaven. Little bits of heaven sprinkled in throughout. Omgggggg…..

We found a gorgeous bike trail in Hart, Michigan. Stunning bike ride AND every street sign has a heart on it?! My dream town 🙂

Back at our cottage, my husband and my kids spent hours fishing and caught so many fish! My choice: The Lies That Bind > squirming, bloody fish.

Meanwhile…

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My favorite Amazon product traveled with me!

Early morning reading by the lake while everyone else was still sleeping. THE BEST.

View from outside the kitchen window. So breathtaking, right? See that chair and table? Still set up from my reading scenario the previous day. LOVE.

Wouldn’t be a vacation without me noticing the local library as we drove past, lol.

I saw these earrings in a gorgeous beachside boutique and I think they might be the best thing I’ve ever seen. The Golden Girls! The Clintons! Donald Trump! Rebecca and Jack Pearson! Macaulay Culkin! Meghan and Harry! Justin Bieber! The cast of Friends! Justin Timberlake! Beyonce and Jay Z! Taylor Swift! Omgggggggggggg

Kim and Kayne! I WAS DYING.

Love this sign so, so much.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. IT’S NOT HARD, PEOPLE.

This was actually our 6th visit to beautiful Michigan and each time we come, we fall more and more in love with the picturesque beach towns, the gorgeous water, the friendly people, and the delicious food. 2 years ago, Jon and I came for 4 days all alone while my parents watched our kids. It was quiet, relaxing, and lovely! You can read about that trip HERE.

During that trip 2 years ago, I came across the cutest coffee mug in one of the stores in Grand Haven. I even took a picture with it:

FullSizeRender (10)

I’m not sure why I didn’t buy it but that mug has literally haunted me for the past 2 years. When we were shopping in downtown Grand Haven this past July, I was determined to figure out which store I found it at and to see if by some miracle they still had it! I described the store to another shop owner in the area who immediately told me where the shop was located. I was so excited! I went straight there…and discovered that half of it is now a dog products store (??) and the other half is now a toy store…and although they DID randomly have tons of mugs, none were mine. I even sat there and went through EVERY. SINGLE. MUG. BOX. in search of my special mug. Nothing. The man working gave me the name of another store down the strip which had bought lots of the goods from the store when it was divided up. So….I dragged my family to yet ANOTHER store in search of my mug. Found the store, did not find the mug. I went into a bunch of other stores on the strip in hopes that THEY might have it and…nothing. I was brokenhearted but accepted that it just wasn’t meant to be.

Fast forward 2 months later and we were in the brand new to us town of Pentwater, Michigan (side note: LOVED THIS TOWN). My daughter and I were walking through an adorably cluttered store where you literally had to look evvvvvvvvverywhere because there was so much to look at. I spy old school trolls (the BEST) on the ceiling!

So her and I were walking along when suddenly…

I grabbed her arm and just stared. She followed my eyes and exclaimed, “CUP OF HAPPY!” This mug is even more beautiful than the original and so much more “me”. Totally meant to be. SOLD. I have happily used it every single day since we’ve been back.

Best, happiest souvenir. Literally brings me such joy when I use it! Totally worth the 2 year wait.

Thank you, Michigan, for once again providing our family with the very best memories. Already trying to figure out when we can return!

I hope you had a lovely long Labor Day weekend! I’ll have my review of The Lies That Bind posted later this week!

Xo,

Jenny

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

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Our Amazing Getaway to Spring Lake, Michigan

As soon as the pandemic started, my husband immediately began researching lake houses that we could rent.  We wanted a place where we could safely socially distance from others and give our kids wonderful memories.  After months of searching online, he found us the perfect cottage located in Spring Lake, Michigan.  We booked it and immediately I started writing out my list of what to bring in my new Erin Condren planner.  I actually laughed and grabbed my phone to snap a picture when I realized what the very first items were that I had just written. These were clearly quite high on my priority list of items not to forget!  Eventually this entire page was filled with things to bring once I had those first 3 items written down, lol.

And somehow those 3 items morphed into this:

We stopped for lunch in one of our favorite towns…Saugatuck, Michigan.  (Although indoor seating was available at restaurants, we always chose to eat outside at the restaurants we went to).

We arrived at our cottage and the view from our new backyard literally took our breath away.  Perfection.

Catching frogs!

On our very first morning there, my daughter and I woke up before anyone else and snuck outside to read with a view.  I ended up doing this every single morning we were there and it was just as peaceful and blissful as it looks.

Eventually my son woke up and joined us.  American Dirt for me, Babysitters Club book #2 for my daughter, and dinosaur and Elmo books for my son.

So, so happy.

We drove past this hotel and I immediately thought of The Sun Down Hotel!  AHHHHHH!  THIS is EXACTLY how I pictured that hotel to look, even down to the sign.  Such a better image than the one on the cover of the book based upon the descriptions written.  The cover of that book is GORGEOUS but this is such a better representation of how I imagined that hotel to look as I was reading (you can read my review of The Sun Down Motel HERE).

My daughter and my husband fishing!  The view from our dining room window.  So amazing, right?!

Bike ride through a gorgeous forest…

Traveling during a global pandemic definitely was a strange experience.

Obsessed.

Cherry picking!

There was a swan family and a duck family who came to visit us each day.

After being in the lake all day, it felt great to take a shower and feel pretty 🙂

Fact: lobster rolls are in my top 5 favorite foods of all time.  If there is a lobster roll on a menu, I will never even consider ordering anything else.

I brought my laptop thinking that blogging by the lake would be such fun!  This picture would be the exact spot that my computer sat from the moment we arrived until the moment we left.  Never even opened the bag, lol.

Dirt road leading to our private oasis.

One afternoon we sat down to an outdoor restaurant and this was my view.  Ummm YES PLEASE.  As soon as the order was placed, my daughter and I literally JUMPED up to go and check it out!

Oh it was so lovely!  I didn’t take any pictures inside because I was trying not to touch my phone but I could have spent hours upon hours in there.  It was amazing.  We didn’t have nearly enough time but both her and I did manage to each find a treasure to buy.  I was excited to find a book by the same author as The Housekeeper which I really enjoyed (read my review HERE).  My daughter bought a present for my son which he loved!  I had such a nice conversation with the man working and I promised that I would come back!  If you are ever in the area, you need to check this place out…

Pontoonin’!  Always drinking hot coffee, even in 90 degree weather 🙂

So handsome.

I read 1 page on that boat.  Literally 1 page.

My husband took this video and I had no idea…

 

“I’m crushing this!!!” LOL

And now I present to you the most delicious meal of the trip.  Goat cheese, strawberries, walnuts, maple balsamic vinaigrette, and added grilled chicken breast.  OMG.  I loved it so much that I went back a few days later and ordered a second one to go to have for lunch the following day!  Here is a link to the restaurant if you are ever in the area.  DELICIOUS.

Lake lunch 🙂  Day 2 of THE SALAD.

Perfect magnet in a cute Grand Haven boutique.  #truth

Cutest coffee mug from one of our delicious breakfasts.

6 mile family bike ride.  Best bike ride of my life, it was so beautiful!

My family totally indulged me when I yelled “I SEE A LITTLE FREE LIBRARY!”  The 3 of them immediately pulled over to wait for me as I turned my bike around and headed straight back to this little gem:

None of the books caught my eye but for about 20 seconds I debated taking this bookmark ONLY because so many of you ALWAYS call me out for folding down the pages of books, lol.  BUT…then I remembered that I love folding those pages so I left the bookmark right where I found it to become a treasure for someone with better book manners than I 😉

After 6 miles we were SWEATY and desperately needed water.  We found a local farmer’s market and immediately asked where the water was.  The lady watched our 4 faces fall when she told us that there weren’t any vendors selling water!  We accepted our fate and started shopping for other things.  A few minutes later, she quietly told me that she had 3 bottles of water for her personal use but that I could buy them off of her!  DONE.  Wife and Mother of the year when I presented those bottles to my family!  As we were leaving the market sipping our delicious water, the farmer’s market organizer asked where we got them.  I answered “black market” 🙂

We left with fresh raspberries, fresh blueberries, honey sticks, a loaf of bread, and the most delicious water anyone has ever tasted.  Delightful.

And suddenly it was our last day of our perfect getaway.  As my husband and I sat on the beach watching our kids SO happily frolicking in the lake, he pulled out his phone and booked us a return trip for Labor Day weekend!  YESSSSSSSSS!  Best husband and father.  Countdown starts NOW!

And now…we are back home.  Breakfast on our first day back included farmer’s market blueberries and also a mug that I bought from one of my favorite restaurants that I have ever been to 🙂  If you are ever in the area, my whole family and I HIGHLY recommend this restaurant!  This beautiful mug with it’s beautiful memories will make me smile for many years to come.

Michigan cherries have been turned into Illinois muffins!  My husband and my kids say they are the best muffins they have ever had!  Mama for the WIN!  🙂 🙂 🙂

AND I have quite successfully recreated my new favorite salad down to the homemade salad dressing!  NAILED IT!

Thank you all so much for reading about our adventure!  We had the very best week filled with the very best memories.  Socially distanced perfection!

Thank you for allowing me to take a break from talking about books to share a bit of my personal life with you 🙂  As you can see I have been doing lots of reading…and I have 2 book reviews to write and publish for you ASAP!

I hope you all had a wonderful week filled with love and books!

You can read about our trip to Michigan that we took last fall (without our kids!) HERE.

Xo,

Jenny

This blog is my favorite hobby and I would so love your support!  Here are ways you can help my blog to GROW:

*Please share this page with your book and blog loving friends!*

*Subscribe with your email address to my blog (scroll all the way to the bottom of this page on mobile devices OR check the top right of this screen to enter your email address)*

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*”Like” my Facebook page (and please comment on, “like”, and share my posts)*

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The ultimate list of my top book suggestions can be found HERE