Saturday, July 5, 2014

Tennessee Road Trip {part 1}

Early last Saturday morning, Pete, Drew and I packed up the car and headed out on a summer road trip; but first I left a note on the table for Tyler and Jake. :) I always leave notes on the kitchen table for the boys when I'm running out to do errands, walk the dog, go to the gym... this one made them laugh. In all seriousness, they did know we were leaving but they weren't coming with on this trip. Tyler was going to a wedding and a family vacation with his girlfriend and Jake was staying home to work.

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Our first leg of the trip was about a 10 1/2 hour scenic, low-traffic, relaxing drive though Iowa, Missouri and finally stopping in Southern Illinois in Marion. I had done a ton of research ahead of time to find the best spots to stop location wise and also based on hotel reviews. This was a great spot for the night with a bunch of brand new hotels in the area and many restaurants to choose from. It is also walking distance to a beautiful baseball field where the Southern Illinois Miners play.

Drew kept us entertained with his antics. At each stop for some reason he needed to stand on the back wheel (he did this the entire trip), sleeping in the back seat, and riding the luggage cart. :)

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For dinner we decided on 17th Street Grill which was walking distance from our hotel.

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It was a cute place with a lot of atmosphere. Pete and Drew were very excited about the amount of BBQ they were going to be able to have on this trip and started it off each with a BBQ sandwich and some fried pickles to share. I went with the baked potato stuffed with chopped BBQ pork.

17th Street Grill Food

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Sunday morning, we packed up the car and headed south through southern Illinois, Kentucky, and into Tennessee. We went right through Nashville (not stopping on this day but we will be back)

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and continued south to Lynchburg, TN. We went through some huge downpours which made for an exciting drive, especially through the mountains. We reached our destination late morning to do a tour of Jack Daniels Distillery.

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This area is absolutely beautiful and these pictures really don't do it justice, and the tour was very well done, informative and worth the stop to Lynchburg.

Also, I will probably never forget the amazing smell in the air that was created between the whiskey aging in the fired oak barrels and also the stacked maple ricks that are ignited with whiskey and burn to create charcoal. Mmm.

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This is the oldest registered distillery in the United States and is where Jack Daniels crafted the recipe in 1884 and where all Jack Daniel's Whiskey is still made today.

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Jack Daniel's Whiskey has always been made from this cave's spring water.

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Jack and Pete :)

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The safe in Jack's office (the only original building still standing) which he allegedly kicked because he couldn't get it open. He broke his toe and ended up with blood poisoning which eventually killed him.

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We couldn't leave with out purchasing a bottle of Jack Daniels

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and had it engraved to remember our trip to Tennessee.

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After the tour, we walked over to the cute little town area.

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We ate lunch at the Barrelhouse BBQ-- I loved the directions on this sign.

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Seriously the cutest little restaurant with the very best BBQ we have ever had!

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Drew and Pete each ordered the BBQ pork sandwich and I had the 'grilled cheese on crack' which was a grilled cheese with BBQ pork. This was a-mazing!!!
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We had such a fun day in Lynchburg and loved taking in the sights, smells and tastes of the area!

We were back in the car that evening and drove to our next stop; about 2 1/2 hours east to Athen, TN where we would spend the night and get ready for our next stop in our Tennessee adventure. {More to come soon.}

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Memory Lane {record rain}

Another day of pouring rain. This has been such a rainy spring and summer and each time it rains I run downstairs to check and make sure the sump pump is working and we have no water problems. After the flooding we had in April and the restoration that has been done, I am worried each time it rains.

Pioneer Press tweeted; '4.13" of rain fell @mspairport, the 6th wettest calendar day since 1871. Number 1? You might remember: 9.17" on July, 23, 1987."

And I do SO remember that day! It was the summer after my freshman year in college and I was home at my parents house. Relatives were visiting from Illinois; our Aunt, Uncle and favorite cousins, Cindy, Sandy and Sheri. 

My sister, my cousins and I had gone shopping at Ridgedale mall for the afternoon and is where we were when the storm hit. The sirens were going off and everyone in the mall was told to go to the storm shelter areas. At some point, I had called my Mom from a pay phone (this was before cell phone days) and told her we were ok and were going to be late. :) 

We waited in the shelter area for quite a while and then decided that we would brave the elements and leave for home. I remember taking off my shoes and running barefoot through the flooded parking lot to get to the car. I picked up the girls from the entrance and we started heading for home. 

I remember it raining so hard that I couldn't see the road. I remember all the roads that were just flooded over. I remember seeing cars stranded everywhere. I remember not understanding how dangerous it was to be out driving as we were laughing and laughing at how funny our situation was.

The story goes, that my Mom, Dad, Aunt and Uncle were at back at my parent's house worried about us-- but had just said; "At least they are safe at the mall" when the heard the garage door open and the giggling 5 of us come through the back door. :) Kids!

These pictures were taken the following day just down the road from my parents house.

Minnetonka flood 1987
(People that lived on this road?)

Minnetonka flood 1987
(Cindy, Sheri, Sandy, Kim... and I was taking the pictures :)

It is funny how a current event can trigger a memory from so long ago.... something not thought about in years.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dean's List

Jake- Deans List
So very proud of Jake for making the Dean's List at Notre Dame!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day weekend

Our weekend was filled with graduation parties, ACT prep, refereeing for a soccer tournament, ACT test taking, a hockey tournament, working.... but between all of that we managed to squeeze in a little time to celebrate Father's Day; including a late dinner of ribs and a family movie night. :)

Ribbet collage

Happy Father's Day!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekend Lens

Summer weekends are always my favorite, and this one was no exception. Our weekend in words and pictures- and in no particular order.

We attended some graduation parties. We went on a shopping trip at Mall of America. I was invited to an If:Table gathering and met some new ladies, had great conversation and tasted some delicious food.

Pete and I enjoyed dinner and cocktails on the patio of Vivo in Apple Valley. It was our first time here since it opened and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening.

I love this quote taken from Vivo's website:

"In a home, the kitchen is the spot where families gather, parties migrate, and food draws friends around. That’s also the spirit of Vivo kitchen: we are a place to come as you are. We use local, seasonal ingredients to prepare food that’s delicious without being mysterious.* Vivo translates as “life” — and that is what we want every guest to experience to the fullest. We look you in the eyes, care for you personally, and make you feel as welcome as if you are in our home. Because, for us, a kitchen is the heart of a home — and great hospitality is the heartbeat."

This reminds me of a book that I have read recently called 'Bread & Wine'. This was a fabulous book about the 'celebration of food and of the joy found in life around the table.'

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I cut some lilacs to brighten up my 'officina'.

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My favorite.

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I made some chocolate chip pancakes for the boys for breakfast.

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A new toy was brought home for Bella. 
(We finally found a brand that she won't immediately destroy!!)

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A new bed was delivered for Tyler. 
(I may be a little jealous of his ultra comfortable, memory foam mattress. :)

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We made a trip to Morelli's to purchase some ingredients for dinner

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of homemade pasta

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and the most delicious Italian Sausage Tomato Alfredo sauce {recipe here}

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The pasta dinner and the gelato dessert had us reminiscing about our trip to Italy.

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Good food, good conversations, good memories, good weekend!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A to Z Pizza Farm

We found this gem of a spot last summer and couldn't wait this season for a nice Tuesday evening (the only day they are open) to visit again. A to Z Pizza Farm is located in Stockholm, WI and is about an hour and 15 minute drive from our home-- a beautiful scene drive along Lake Pepin.

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This is such a unique and fun spot to enjoy a summer evening. Just like a picnic you bring everything in with you- except for the pizza and alcohol. Most people bring in a card table, chairs, a picnic basket, plates, glasses... but you also see everything from a picnic blanket to flower centerpieces and candles. Basically anything goes.

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The main building where you order your food.

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The pizza oven.

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They also have a farm table set up selling fresh bread and eggs.

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The grounds are gorgeous and kind of make me want to live on a farm. :)

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The sky on the drive home looked like a watercolor painting

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which seemed like the perfect way to end such a great summer evening!