Ten Midwest Weekending Adventures

I call Ohio home and have for almost 27 years (a.k.a. my life). We do a roadtrip at least once a year, but there are millions of places I haven’t been. Today I’m sharing some places in my neck of the woods that still remain on my bucket list. For me, these places are only 1.5 to 6 hours away.

No one is paying me to write this, but if companies would like to give me a free stay/visit in exchange for a blog post I’d happily oblige 😉

(1) Treehouses at The Mohican | Glenmont, OH
This is a popular place for romantic weekends, fall trips, and bachelorette party get-aways. My brother and his wife spent a weekend here once & loved it. These just think they look awesome! Can you imagine this place in the fall??

(2) Ohio State Reformatory | Mansfield, OH
I’ve been here twice- once on a 4th grade field trip & once on a classic car tour. Shawshank Redemption was filmed here! This remains on my list because I’ve never been during Halloween… They offer a pretty insane haunted prison experience. K isn’t into haunted things so I’d have to gather a group of friends. 100% NOT going alone 😉

(3) Mammoth Cave National Park | Kentucky
I’ve been her as a kid, but I really want to go back! I’m dying to explore the caves and maybe go spelunking! (Again, K isn’t quite as excited about this… ha.)

(4) Chicago
I know that’s vague, but Chicago is about six and a half hours from us and I’d love to visit as an adult- especially around Christmas time!

(5) Lakeside | Lakeside, Ohio
This cute little destination along Lake Erie is actually a little Christian community. (I think I almost applied for a job in the area in college.) From what I can tell it has that small town Stars Hollow kind of feel. Adorable!

(6) Upper Peninsula/Mackinac Island | Michigan
This is one of those rare places that K has been and I have not. Fortunately, he thinks it’s a gorgeous place and he really wants to visit again! I’m thinking this is a spring or summer trip!

(7) The Old Vermilion Jailhouse | Vermilion, Ohio
I think this unique little bed & breakfast looks so neat! It really is a historic jail.

(8) National Corvette Museum | Bowling Green, Kentucky
This is K’s contribution to the list- he’s been talking about this museum forever. The museum actually experienced a sinkhole a few years ago. Right now they’re adding on to the manufacturing facility next door & K says we need to wait to go so we can tour both places.

(9) Ravenwood Castle | New Plymouth, Ohio
Remember that time I was obsessed with The Tudors? Yeah, I’d love to spend the night in a castle!

(10) Any NASCAR tracks nearby that I haven’t been to…
There are so many race tracks within hours of us that I haven’t visited: Martinsville, Charlotte, Chicagoland, Indianapolis, Kentucky, Pocono, & Richmond.

I’m linking up with the amazing Emma at The Adventures of a London Kiwi as well as her friends Polly (Follow Your Sunshine) & Angie (SilverSpoon London) & Erin (Erin Out and About) for the Travel Link-Up!

Have you ever stayed in a super unusually hotel or B&B? What are some day-trips you’d like to take?

(Any local resorts want to offer me a free stay? 😉 lol)

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Let’s Go to the Beach, Beach…

Last week (during my blog hiatus) I vacationed to Sunset Beach, NC with my family. Kyle and I, my mom and dad, and my little brother Fred and his wife Christina all stayed in a 4 bedroom beachfront house along the east coast.

It was kind of odd to be back in a house with my parents and brother- especially with the addition of our spouses. We all have different personalities and habits, but I think the week went really well.

K and I were almost always the first ones awake. We also made almost all the homemade meals. We were I was also the planner of the days/excursions.

Fred and Christina were much more laid back. They went on walks when they wanted to, woke up naturally and slowly, and often went with whatever flow I suggested. (Our older sibling/younger sibling personalities come out in full force when we’re together…)

My parents are familiar with Fred’s and my differing personalities so they just mediated and provided some form of structure. There were no outburst last week, though, so my parents had a pretty easy job.

Like most beach vacations we had a nice mix of shore time, restaurant dining, mini-golfing, and adventuring. We wandered up to Wilmington, NC one day to tour the USS North Carolina and grab some lunch. Another day was spent down in North Myrtle Beach at the outlet malls.

Funny enough, K’s family was vacationing in MB the same week we were down there. We spent the 4th of July having dinner at their beach house and visiting with relatives that we only see once a year. (They had 15 people living in their house… 😳)

As I mentioned on Tuesday, my parents’ 14 year old shepherd-lab mix passed away from old age while we were gone. We all hated that we weren’t with Heidi for those last few days. She was a loyal, sweet, stubborn, protective, loving soul. My parents’ dog-sitter Jen was devastated to find that Heidi had died in her sleep- we all felt terrible for her. Obviously it wasn’t Jennifer’s fault and she had nothing to do with Heidi’s passing, but what a crappy thing to discover…

The heartwarming thing was that a handful of my parents’ friends called or texted to offer their condolences and some even offered to drive out to my parents’ house and bury her. My grandma had saved a steak bone from their supper for Heidi the night before and was heartbroken to hear she’d died. I honestly can’t explain how good it feels to be a part of a community that loves our family- including all our dogs.

So overall, even with the loss of Heidi, our vacation was a nice one. K and I are super happy to be home with our fur babes and it’s nice to be back in the midst of our company (running a company from the road is stressful but necessary). That said, the week-long break was 100% necessary.

This was my first time at Sunset Beach! It was much quieter and less commercialized than Myrtle. I’d recommend the island to anyone. Specifically, if you’re in the area, check these out!

Crabby Oddwaters (restaurant in Sunset Beach, NC)
Sooooo good. The staff was super friendly, the atmosphere was beachy and slightly bayou-y, and we had an amazing meal! We also saw an alligator (…crocodile?) in the water outside the window!


USS North Carolina (navy boat and museum in Wilmington, NC)
Last year when K and I went to Myrtle we almost wandered up the coast to tour this ship, but we decided not to. I’m so glad we went this time around! I love history and walking through the cabins and rooms of a once-active warship gave me goosebumps. It was hotter than Hell but I loved experiencing this piece of history!


Bummz Beach Cafe (restaurant in Myrtle Beach, SC)
We had the steamed shrimp as an appetizer and it was so. dang. good. I swear I’ve thought about that shrimp at least once a day since we left Bummz. I think you’d definitely drive right past this place if you were cruising N. Ocean Boulevard for some dinner, but I’m telling you right now you need to pull over and give this place a shot! (Also, it kind of cracked me up that my grandma sent us to this restaurant… I mean, it’s named after butts… hahaha!)

Have you been to Sunset Beach, NC? Where is your summer vacation spot this year?

Goodbye, April

I never do a monthly recap, but April was a fun & busy one so I thought I’d switch it up and type one out for Kristen and Gretch‘s What’s New with You? link-up.

What's New With You

This is a picture-heavy post, but I only included the good moments 😉

This month we celebrated my mom’s (and uncle’s) birthday.

For Mom’s celebration we ventured down to Columbus on a Saturday for dinner at de|Novo and a concert at the Ohio Theatre. Fred & Xtina joined us for a relaxing evening with yummy food and a mesmerizing performance.

The show was called Cirque de Symphonie and there were acrobats, dancers, contortionists, and rope/silk artists to accompany the musical numbers.


Things that happened mid-month that didn’t warrant pictures…

  • Lylee got her nails trimmed and her ears cleaned at the groomers
  • a local drumline Friends & Family Show
  • meeting the best friend’s new boyfriend
  • getting financially assaulted by the US govn’t on tax day
  • a few dinners out with friends and family
  • a breakfast date with K on Good Friday (and a day off!)
  • one of my best and longest friends asked me to be a bridesmaid!


Easter was spent with family. We did church in the morning, an egg hunt and lunch and kite flying at my parents’ house, a dinner for K’s family (and my parents) at our house, & dessert and another egg hunt at K’s grandparents’ house.


The end of the month hit hard and fast…

We left for Dayton on the 19th and spent three days bouncing between the Uni. of Dayton, Wright State University, Miami University, and Northern Kentucky University for WGI Percussion World Championships.

Three 10+ hour days in parking lots and arenas watching high school and independent drumlines and making new connections or seeing old friends. So fun and so exhausting, ha.

I don’t know if I’ve ever shared our products on my blog before… We had over 60 groups using our equipment at this competition. It was pretty surreal.


The Sunday after WGI we left Dayton and drove southeast to Bristol, TN. My parents and cousin were already there. The race was scheduled for 2pm on Sunday but rain postponed it until Monday.

Bristol is mountain territory and in the past we’ve been foiled many times by spotty rain-delays and postponements. We now always spend Sunday night in the area and drive home on Monday. This allows us to stay late for a delayed Sunday night race or a rescheduled Monday afternoon race; the latter being the case this past trip.

Cabela’s | Racing | Bowling
The water in that picture should be a little stream- NOT a river…

Last but not least, we celebrate our 4 year anniversary on the 27th. We did a food tour in a neighboring city. It included four restaurant and some city history. We were so full by the end of it… but it was delicious!

Both Steph and Alexandra sent cards wishing us a happy anniversary! You girls are total sweethearts!

It was so windy on our tour but it didn’t storm so that’s a win!

And that concludes our April (a.k.a. possibly our busiest month professionally + personally all year). I kicked May off with a deep tissue massage on Monday. #SelfCare

What’d you do last month?

What's New With You

“Get Out of There”

One of my very best friends is getting married in the fall of 2018. Yesterday she asked me to be a bridesmaid. Obviously I said yes.

Aubrey and I have known each other since we were 10. That’s sixteen years of history, friendship, arguments, changes, and celebrations. Another best friend, Kayla, is also a bridesmaid. Similar to Aubrey and I, she grew up locally and we’ve had some sort of acquaintanceship or friendship since middle school.

Both Kayla and Aubrey have moved away, found good jobs, and settled in. I, on the other hand, stayed in the same small town we all once called “home.” Per Google Maps, I live 3.8 miles from my childhood home, half a mile from my elementary school, half a mile (the other direction) from my high school, and roughly 0.5 to 5 miles from all my local relatives. Needless to say, it’s a smallish town.

It’s also one of those towns that high school seniors and young adults are always trying to “get away” from. If you don’t move away and travel the world or get a studio apartment in a real city then you might as well get married, pop out a few babies, and settle.

(That’s not my opinion. That’s the general vibe around here.)

Recently I saw a conversation on Facebook between two high school acquaintance…
Person 1: We’re moving! We’ll be living in XYZ, Ohio after this weekend.
Person 2 (who now lives in a major city): Good for you! Get out of there!

I know it should’ve have, but her comment made my blood boil. It made me feel like staying here is wrong.

Like it’s a trap. Or a prison. Or some sh!thole.

I like to think that I’m not easily swayed or influenced by others, but I KNOW there is a small town mentality of ‘staying here = failure.’

But honestly- what a load of bullshit.

If marriage and babies in a safe, small town is your prerogative then you’re in the right place. If building an international company is on your to-do list then you’ve found the perfect location. If you’re a world traveler who needs some roots in a busy yet slow community then plant them right here.

And if you feel like you need more miles to stretch your wings or some distance between your past and your present or you just want to try out a new place, then I think that’s great! But don’t you dare look down your nose at someone else for sticking around the place they call “home.”

For a while I really believed K and I would leave. (I suppose there’s still time but 1. the business is located here and 2. I’m happy here.) I’m a huge fan of travel and receiving a worldly education- but I need a stable home to return to. I think it’s 100% ok to dig your roots into a place like this.

For the record, neither of my best friends nor my brother have ever made me feel badly for any of my choices. I think they’re just happy to have a place to hangout when they come “home.”

I know that was a little rant-y, but that Facebook transaction sparked something inside me. I respect your decision to leave so I expect the same when it comes to staying.

You May All Go to Hell & I Will Go To Texas

Last month K and I flew to Texas for a statewide music educators convention. It took a while, but I’ve finally found the time to recap our trip. This is a lengthy one 😉

Backstory: At the end of 2016 K’s business underwent some changes and I was brought on full time to oversee administrative duties and customer/vendor communication. I’d been to trade shows and conventions in the past with the company (Indiana 2014), but I had no idea how to sell our product. We had a show in Cleveland the week before Texas so I observed K in the booth and studied the carts but I was still nervous about my first time on the floor. Obviously that didn’t matter because we were headed to San Antonio regardless.

Freighting our equipment to Texas would’ve cost thousands upon thousands of dollars so K asked his welder (who also happens to be his dad, Jeff) to drive the product down in a box truck. I was uncomfortable sending his dad alone on such a long trip so I suggested K’s mom, Gail, take the week off from her job and they make it a San Antonio vacation. It ended up working out perfectly and they hit the road Monday morning. We flew out Tuesday morning.

We landed mid-afternoon, caught a taxi to our hotel, and checked on the box truck’s progress. Since they were still a few hours away we decided to unpack, check in to the exhibition hall, and wander around the River Walk for a place to eat. Conveniently, both our hotel and the convention center were right along the RW.

We stopped for dinner at a place called The County Line. The servers were a bit snippy but it wasn’t at us fortunately. After dinner we walked back to the hotel and met up with Jeff and Gail as they arrived. We got them all checked in and settled, then retired for the night since Wednesday was going to be a work day.


On Wednesday we spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon loading into the convention hall and setting up the display booth.

Around 2 pm we finished and took a(n accidental) walk all the way around the River Walk loop. We stopped into The Iron Cactus for a late lunch/early dinner, then I dragged everyone to street level to visit The Alamo.

We caught the landmark just before closing so we only spent 20 minutes wandering around. 😦

After some Starbucks we wandered back to the hotel and crashed. Set up was exhausting and we hadn’t even begun the convention.


Thursday and Friday was spent in the exhibition hall. (We encouraged Jeff and Gail to go enjoy San Antonio!) The show started at 9 am and ended at 5 pm each day. On Thursday K and I went to dinner alone at Tony Roma’s and finished up the night with some Marble Slab Creamery ice cream. On Friday the four of us went to dinner at Saltgrass with a friend who was in town for the show, too.

On Saturday K woke up with a nasty head cold. I opened the convention at 9 am alone (*gulp*) and K joined me for a few hours later on that morning. Thank goodness his parents were there. They brought him some meds and soup since we couldn’t leave the booth. K decided to call it a day around 12:30 pm. Fortunately it was a short day and the hall was set to close at 2 pm. I worked the last hour and a half alone. Needless to say, I was much more confident with the gear by the end of this show!

Tear down and pack up started at 2 pm. K stayed in the hotel room so his dad went to fetch the box truck while his mom and I tore down the entire booth. We worked until 7 pm packing up and loading the truck. It was a mere 87 degrees. Perfect weather… *eyeroll*

I needed some grub so Gail and I wandered down to the River Walk mall for food. I got K some mac n’ cheese and bought myself some Chinese takeout. It was a great way to end our trip… ha.

We flew home Sunday morning while K’s parents drove the box truck to Dallas to the instrument/equipment dealer who’d bought everything in the booth. They dropped off the truck and flew home on Monday, and I picked them up at the airport.


You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas. -Davy Crockett

My last trip to Texas was after my freshman year of high school so it was nice to go back and explore San Antonio. I’m sad K got sick but his immune system is predictably crappy. After two weeks of travel and some airplane rides I wasn’t surprised when he started hacking.

Overall, it was fun. If K hadn’t hired me I wouldn’t get to tag along/help on these trips, so I’m thankful for the opportunity to travel and hangout with him. The industry in which we work is a fun one- we always run into old friends or meet new people during these shows. There’s rarely a dull moment.

Do you get to travel for work? (Do you enjoy it?) Have you ever been to San Antonio? It seems to be the only Texas city I visit!

Add It To My (Super Random) List

By skipping Mondays I lose my opportunity to recap my weekend. If you were curious, I had a good one 🙂 Fun fact: I spent every weekend in February out of town. First Cleveland, then San Antonio, then Columbus, and then Cleveland again last weekend. Some trips for business, some for pleasure. This weekend Kayla and I visited Aubrey and her fiance Alyssa because Aubs is recovering from surgery and we went up to celebrate her transformation and keep her company. (You can follow her story/creep on her here. She’s #InstaFamous)

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In an attempt to stay hip and trendy I’m trying to keep track of the fun link-ups that go on in the blog world. I managed to jot down the schedule for the Add It To My List link-up with Lauren and Bre, so here we are.

Firstly, these three products were recommended by other bloggers:

I’m easily influence by others… I went out and bought this stuff immediately because I was in the market for some quality polish and comfy shoes for work. (The polish remover is cruelty-free & I needed that toiletry in c.f. form.) All three have my seal of approval!

Bamboo bedding…
Two years ago my grandparents gifted K and I some bamboo bedding. GUYS- we fell in love with it immediately. They’d bought it from Marshalls, so obviously I’ve never come across it again. Then last week this idiot (me) remembered Amazon exists and I have a Prime account. So I ordered some sheets. (How many pairs of sheets do you have for your bed? We have two. I always have to be on my laundry A-game, especially when I peel the sheets right before vacation and make the bed for the dogsitter, then come home and remember that now both sheets are dirty and I’m too exhausted to do laundry.)
I digress. Bamboo sheets are the softest and most comfy sheets ever. Go get some.

On to another random thing…

Go make this recipe:

One-Pan Veggies & Sausage

sausage-bake

I made this last week and it was a hit (with all two of us). It’s crazy simple- the “hardest” part was chopping all the veggies. We had rice with it. (I also made Brussels sprouts separately because they looked so good at the store and K doesn’t like them so I couldn’t mix them in. But then he ate some so…. that was a minor victory in my kitchen.)

(I’m pretty sure I took this recipe and another one (this!) from Nadine’s Pinterest!)

. . .

This fall K and I are planning to visit Disney. I’ve been there a handful of time, but I’ve never planned the trip. (I was a child and/or a band student on prior trips.) Kyle has never been to the happiest place on Earth, so I’m hoping to show him a good time. I’m looking for tips, tricks, and advice right now. I know how to “do” Disney, but any reminders or travel tidbits would be helpful. 🙂

Enjoy these last two days of February!

signatureEat, Drink, and Be Lauren

Fly Me to the Moon (or don’t… please, don’t)

It’s painful for me to admit this, but some time in the last four years I developed mild flight anxiety. I have an overactive brain that tends to visualize everything that could go wrong (although, scientifically, the things I imagine probably can’t go wrong). I’m not going to go into it because I know that I’m being dramatic and I don’t want to put my false mental images of doom into your head, too.

But, you know, just let it be known that I have flight anxiety.

Here’s where I imagine all this anxiety stems from… In 2010 I totaled my car on some black ice and it took me 2 years to get comfortable behind the wheel again. In 2012 I flew to India and we hit turbulence that dropped the plane and nearly shook me from my seat. Traumatic events tend to shake me to my core and send my imaginative brain into overdrive.

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Two weeks ago K and I flew to San Antonio for a business trip. (Details about our trip are happening next week hopefully.) I have flown a few times since India, but the anxiety gets worse with each trip. I was seriously dreading these flights.

The self-talk that happened in my head during our time in the air was unreal. I channeled Chelsea and repeated to myself, “You can do hard things.” I prayed like a mad person. I turned my ear buds all the way up and tried desperately to lose myself in books. Every once in a while I panic-grasped K’s hand or thigh.

When the smallest hint of turbulence rocked the plane I told myself that the flight attendants were still standing and smiling and passing out drinks- it’d all be ok.

Before our last flight home I looked up the dangers of turbulence on my phone. (I knew this was a risk… sometimes ignorance really is bliss.) Turns out, turbulence is very rarely the cause of air troubles. It’s totally normal and does not bring planes down. That little bit of knowledge helped immensely on the last flight. (All our flights were smooth- my brain had the turbulent issues.)

flight_anxiety_2

Of course, when I really boil it down, what the hell am I going to do if something were to happen on a plane? Like, really. What exactly are my options? I jokingly told K that if something goes wrong and we’re taking a nose dive to the ground, please punch me and knock me out. Neither one of us can figure out if I’m kidding about that still…

But back to the point… I survived our flights and, though I was mentally exhausted, I found ways to cope with the stress I was feeling and walk away confident and happy (to be on the ground ).

So how about some mediocre advice from an inexperienced* flyer…

  • Create a playlist and bring a book that will grab & keep your interest. Dave Matthews Band calms me down when driving in stressful situations so I loaded up my Amazon Prime playlist with some DMB for the flight.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Watch the flight attendants. Chances are they’re laughing and smiling and jovial, even when buckled up and bouncing along in the turbulence. Be friendly with them, too. They’re your biggest allies in the air, especially on longer flights.
  • Repeat to yourself, ‘I am brave. I am OK. I can do hard things.’ (You’d be surprised how effective this is. )
  • If praying is your thing have a laid back, honest conversation with God.
  • Research flight and turbulence. First I read this article, then I found this site: http://www.fearofflying.com/ . It actually has a ‘program’ to cure those with flight anxiety. I’d be lying if I said I’m not looking into it…
  • Some people drink alcohol or take relaxers. If that works for you, cool. I’m pretty sure I’d have just started crying uncontrollably if I’d been drinking. I needed my brain to be clear and strong for the trip.

It sounds backward- and maybe this just helps me- but looking out the window helped me relax. The beauty and the stillness of the sky/clouds/ground below was helpful.

(* truthfully, I’ve been flying my entire life… I started when I was a toddler and I’ve been around the world… so, you know, I’m kind of experienced… just inexperienced with this newfound anxiety)

flight_anxiety_3

It’s weird… I’m not afraid of heights. I’m not afraid of death. I’m not afraid of travel. I just hated the feeling of the plane dropping out from beneath me like it did on the India trip.

It’s funny, but I suddenly understand Lylee’s irrational fear of thunderstorms.

So let’s open the floor for outside advice 🙂 Do you get shaky on flights? How do you entertain yourself on a plane?

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