Category Archives: travel

A Long Weekend on the Lakeshore of Michigan

As an oblivious East Coaster, I never thought to consider Michigan as a vacation destination until meeting a girl from Traverse City at the Healthy Living Summit — eight years ago. How was that eight years ago? What is time, even?

My best friend/partner in crime Meg’s family lives in Holland, MI and she suggested we head there for Memorial Day, since the beaches here aren’t usually warm enough this time of year anyway. Why? The? Hell? Not? (2018 motto?)

I went for a quick run since our flight didn’t leave until noon, and if I was going to be hanging with someone’s parents, the me who has run is a preferable version to any other Theodora.

We flew into Grand Rapids, whose call letters are GRR, something that brought me infinite amusement.

Boatwerks Holland

We went to the cute Boatwerks restaurant on the water. Obviously I found the tacos on the menu. And something to know about me — beyond that I will always order the tacos — I will always find “reading material” anywhere a place offers up a free magazine or newspaper and stockpile it.

True story 1: one of my internships was at one such magazine writing hard-hitting articles about bar openings in D.C.

True story 2: I was reading another such paper on the train on the way home the day my mom died. It’s still in my room at home.

Weird asides, back to Michigan.

Lemonjellos Holland

By this time, having run and flown to Michigan my wings (yup, went there) and legs were tired, and we were in need of caffeine. My mom’s favorite drink was Limoncello (followed closely by Riesling), and I saw there was a coffee shop named LemonJello (which, um, is also how she pronounced it!) and requested a stop.

Laketown Beach Holland MI

Is there a word for the feeling you feel when you first catch a glimpse of the water? It’s one of my favorite feelings, and here’s a shot of it at the beautiful Laketown Beach.

Ottawa Beach Michigan

We also lit sparklers on the beach, and it reminded me of this night, and I hugged my best friend, forever thankful for her.

Especially as we explored antique stores and gift shops — with so much reminding me of my mom. This couch is almost exactly the same as my favorite couch at my parents’. I can still see my mom sitting on it, with her coffee, making her to-do list for the day, on the phone with Joan, her best friend.

I’d be lying if I said big parts of this weekend weren’t incredibly difficult being around someone else’s family when mine is irreparably changed, but I appreciated the duality of it also being a fun weekend and was so appreciative of Meg’s family taking me in for the weekend.

Windmill Island Holland MI

We also explored Windmill Island, home of the only working Dutch windmill in the U.S. (Dress tied up until I get it shortened…)

De Zwaan Windmill Holland Shoes

And tried on wooden shoes…

Windmill Holland MI

And just took in the scenery from the ‘mill.

Ottawa Beach

We spent our last day on Ottawa Beach, and I couldn’t resist a dunk in the balmy 53-degree water.

Royal Typewriter — Zeel Peddlers Market

We went to a market in Zeeland whose hashtag was #FeelTheZeel, and I totally regret not buying this typewriter for my desk.

Saugatuck Village Hall

It felt appropriate to be in a place that oozed so much Americana on Memorial Day.

Founders Brewery — Grand Rapids

Finally, what would be a trip to Western Michigan without a brewery stop?? We stopped at Founders en route to the airport for a flight before the flight. My favorite was the Nitro Rubaeus, a fruity little fucker. I’m just obsessed with anything served on nitro. (P.S. I don’t update all the beers I have, but I am on Untappd on if you’d like to follow me.)

How was your Memorial Day weekend? Vacation or stay-cation?

My 35th Birthday Sonoma Trip

It’s no secret that travel has been a balm to my soul since losing my mom. (In fact, I even wrote an article on grief travel, or a griefcation, as I call it.)

Santa Monica Beach

But California’s been particularly good to my soul.

So, facing both my 35th birthday and my first birthday without my mom all in one…I got the hell out of NYC and flew to California with friends.

I love wine (and lamp), so we started the trip in Sonoma. I’d been there for a friend’s wedding almost five years ago now (time is weird, guys, I don’t get how that was five years ago), and I fell in love. Off to wine country it was!

There were four of us, and we stayed in this cute little Airbnb. ($20 off your first Airbnb stay with this link.) It was a few miles out of town, so it was spacious but a relatively reasonable price.

We didn’t get up to wine country until after 1, and so we went straight for a lovely lunch at Farmstead in St. Helena…

Before the big event of the day: a tasting at Domaine Carneros, thanks to my dear friend Blake who knows everyone and got us hooked up!

Domaine Carneros

It’s a shame it’s not prettier there.

And that the wine isn’t better. Ugh.

Dinner was at Girl and the Fig, which came highly recommended. It was…fine? Maybe I was just exhausted, but I thought it was a little overrated.

Girl and the Fig Sonoma

Other than the birthday treat.

Thankfully (?), I never adjusted to the time change and was up super early the next day, the first one in the house…as per usual.

Sonoma Sunrise


The last time I went to Sonoma, we went to the Sunflower Caffe, and I, no joke, have been dreaming about this place for five years. Everything was just so fresh and good, ESPECIALLY the avocados and sourdough toast. There I go, salivating again…

Sunflower Caffe

Is it not adorable, though?

Sunflower Caffe

Unfortunately, the service was a bit slow, so we had to take the food in the car with us. I like my Sunflower here or there, I like it anywhere.

We ended up hiring a driver for the day so that none of us had to be DD, and it was a worthy investment. (About $100/person.)

Iron Horse Wine

Our first tasting of the day was at Iron Horse. They’re known for their sparkling, and my favorite was their Wedding Cuvee, which was originally made for a family wedding but has now become their signature wine.

La Crema Wine

And then it was off to the mother ship, La Crema!!!! Their chardonnay is what turned me from a chardonnay hater to a chardonnay lover! I have a friend who works for them, and she hooked us up with a tasting, too.

I felt super special that they printed menus up for us…at my favorite place!

I’d already bought two bottles at Domaine Carneros so at this point I was thinking about my little carryon and getting wine home… I bought the Saralee’s Vineyard Chadonnay, which was rich and delicious.

I was in heaven.

La Crema Gifts

I also have no idea how I managed to restrain myself to not buy out the whole gift shop…

Our last vineyard of the day was Hook and Ladder. Can’t say I was crazy about that one…will just leave it at that.

We’d had several fancy dinner reservations for that night…but after a day of wine tastings in the sunshine…

We stopped for a pizza snack in the Sonoma square, and decided to bring pizza back to the house and drink wine there in our PJs. Zero regrets, and truly #thisis35.

Champagne Sabering

There was also sabering and prosecco pong…

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