TRAVELING SOLTS – SAUGATUCK, MI

Last week Rob and I jetted out of town for a quick “babymoon.”  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a babymoon is a fancy way of describing your last vacation as a couple before your baby arrives (basically a second mini honeymoon).

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When we were planning our babymoon, we knew we wanted something coastal, but not too far.  Rob did tons of research on cute coastal towns and we ended up choosing Saugatuck, MI! We found the most charming B&B to stay in called the Wickwood Inn (Pictures below are of their beautiful gardens).  They are known for their impeccable interior decorating and gourmet food – neither of which disappointed!  Our favorite food of the whole trip was blueberry, pecan sticky buns that the inn served one morning.  They were incredible!

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Although the weather was less than ideal (monsoon rains for two days straight), we still had the best time and found plenty of things to do.  Saugatuck is known for it’s art galleries (we found some awesome original art for the house!), shopping, harbor, and stellar food.  They even have a cute local distillery where Rob was able to sample some yummy bourbon.[I got Shannon’s free samples which made for interesting early afternoon] I’ve rounded up a list of fun things to do in Saugatuck below (thought that would be easier than detailing every activity we did).

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The main reason for taking this babymoon was to get away so we could disconnect and relax.  We definitely did that!  Even though it rained almost every day we were there, we didn’t mind too much because it gave us time to read and just hang out with each other.  The B&B didn’t have any TV’s in the rooms and the WiFi could be spotty, so we were truly able to relax and just enjoy the comforts of the B&B and local town.

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We ended the trip with a quick stop in South Haven, MI (one of my favorite coastal towns!).  We spent about an hour or so walking around the town and exploring the local beach and lighthouse.  It was the perfect end to a delightful trip!

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Favorite Things to do in Saugatuck

Oval Beach – Included in Condé Nast Traveler’s Top 25 Beaches in the World, Oval Beach is just gorgeous.  We spent a half day here walking among the dunes and enjoying the (freezing cold) water.  I wish we had been able to enjoy the epic sunsets everyone talks about, but that would have required the rain to stop.

Local Shopping – We were very impressed with the quality of the local shops.  My favorites were The Brass Anchor (the name says it all) and the Saugatuck Art Gallery.

Favorite Restaurants – Definitely book a reservation for Hercules.  Our favorite meal was eaten here.  We loved the ambiance and the menu provided a delicious array of Mediterranean inspired dishes.  We also enjoyed The Mermaid.  The Mermaid is a local tourist favorite for its waterfront seating and famous fish n’chips.

Slàinte,

Shannon {and Rob}

TRAVELING SOLTS – LAND OF SCOTCH, TARTAN PLAID, AND HARRY POTTER (PART 3)

So far we’ve shared about our Scottish adventures in St. Andrews and Edinburgh.  This is the last post in our Scotland series and it’s all about the Highlands!

HIGHLANDS

After spending a week in St. Andrews we headed up into the Highlands for two days.  We stayed in Inverness in a cute old hotel called Kings Highway.  The real adventures though were in the Highlands.  What a majestic landscape!  Huge rolling hills surrounding you in every direction.  If you have ever read or watched the Outlander series, you are probably able to picture the beauty of this area.

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Our first stop in the Highlands was Loch Ness, which is not a small lake like people think.  It’s a 30 mile long lake and all the bodies of water in the UK can fit into the depth of it.  We were amazed by the size and beauty!  Sadly, we did not see Nessie the Loch Ness monster. [Hungry Shannon is an equally terrifying, much less shy monster. We call her Shannasaurus Rex]

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We ended up renting a car and drove all over Inverness, deep into the hills of the Highlands.  Although I got carsick from all the crazy, winding roads, the scenery was absolutely incredible. [She needed more Scotch].

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Handsome Scottish Hubby ❤
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[My more photogenic side]

Exploring the Urquhart Castle was super cool and the views are unreal!  Urquhart Castle is one of the largest castles in Scotland.  For 500 years, the Scots and English fought back and forth for control of the castle.  The castle was blown up by the last of the government troops during the Jacobite rising and these ruins are what is left.   Back in it’s heyday, this castle was quite magnificent!

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Thes second day in the Highlands we explored the Culloden Battlefield, Fort Augustus, and Clava Clairns.  Outlander fans may recall the famous Battle of Culloden. One of the most well known battles in Scottish history, the Battle of Culloden put an end to the Jacobite rising, killing over 1,000 Jacobites and less than a hundred English soldiers in less than an hour.   It was so interesting to learn more about the battle.  We even learned that the clan we are descended from, Clan Murray, were split and members of the clan fought on both sides of the battle.

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Clava Cairns are a group of three Bronze Age cairns (or burial graves) that give a glimpse into over 4,000 years of Scotland’s history.  For the Outlander fans, these types of stones are the inspiration for the standing stones (“Craigh Na Dun”) where fairies live and where people can fall back in time.

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Fort Augustus is still in use today by the military!

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Since we’ve been back, I’ve printed off nine of my favorite photos in a 5×5 format.  I can’t wait to find some white frames and hang these beauties in our upstairs hallway.

I know these posts have been lengthy, but if you’ve made it this far, then you are destined for Scotland! I am more than happy to share more tips and places to visit if this is a country on your bucket list! It’s hands down my favorite country I’ve ever been to and I’ve never felt so passionate about a country’s culture and history.

Slàinte,

Shannon [and Rob]

p.s. Special thanks to my parents for planning and making this unforgettable trip a reality!  What incredible memories!

TRAVELING SOLTS – LAND OF SCOTCH, TARTAN PLAID, AND HARRY POTTER (PART 2)

Last week we shared our Scottish adventures in St. Andrews!  Today’s post, is all about Edinburgh!

EDINBURGH

We took two day trips to the city of Edinburgh.  What a cool, historic, eclectic city!  We did a LOT of different site seeing over two days so I’m breaking this post up into different activities.  First up is all about The Royal Mile and Edinburgh City.  But before I share pictures from city life, I have to share some photos of our train ride.  Riding through the countryside was seriously some of my favorite parts of the trip.  Scotland’s countryside is absolutely gorgeous with the rolling hills, views of the sea, and the cute little Scottish towns.   I’m for sure buying a house here some day. [I wonder if I’m part of that plan?]

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My dad and sister Allie!

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Royal Mile and City Life

Edinburgh is home to the Scottish crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, and it’s the birthplace of Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling wrote the books in several coffee shops throughout the city).

Edinburgh is a VERY hilly city.  Once we embarked off the train, we had to climb up several streets just to get to The Royal Mile.  But there is so much to see, you forget what a great workout you are getting!

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This man’s outfit is on point with all that tartan!
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Magic is everywhere in Scotland!!

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The architecture in Scotland is unbelievable!
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Famous Victoria Street! (Inspiration for Diagon Alley for all you Harry Potter fans)

Edinburgh Castle

The Edinburgh Castle dominates the Edinburgh skyline.  The castle is over 3,000 years old and has provided sanctuary for many of Scotland’s kings and queens. The castle is home to the famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  Within the castles walls there is SO much to see!  The Crown Jewels of Scotland are housed here.  You can also explore St. Margaret’s Chapel (the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh), the Scottish National War Memorial, the One o’Clock Gun, the Prison Rooms, and the National War Museum of Scotland.  Plus, there are some epic views of the city!

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Inside St. Margaret’s Chapel

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Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat is a rocky summit that towers over the city of Edinburgh.  Arthur’s Seat is a great place to escape the business of The Royal Mile while getting a view of the whole city.  It takes about an hour to climb and if you can make it to the top (I sadly did not) you are in for a treat with some magical views of the city! [Shannon’s sister said that it was just a “wee hill to climb.” It was not. I’m pretty sure that we looked down on Mt. Everest. At least I had thighs of steel the rest of the trip…]

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Ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel.

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Sisters ❤
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[I’m on Arthur’s Seat, so I’m basically king of Scotland]
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The group that made it to the top!
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What an incredible view!

Harry Potter Tour

One of my favorite activities we did in Edinburgh was a Harry Potter tour!! We walked all around the city, checking out sites that inspired J.K. Rowling while she was writing the books.

 

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Our fantastic tour guide! [I’m so excited, my eyes are closed]
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Practicing our spells! Wingardium Leviosa

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Voldemort’s family tomb!
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I got sorted into Hufflepuff. [Raise your hand if you are surprised]
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Graveyard that inspired the graveyard in the Goblet of Fire!
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Prep school that inspired the Hogwarts houses!

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I know this was a lengthy post, but there was just so much to share of our days in Edinburgh!  We took hundreds of pictures that we wish we could share but this should give a pretty good glimpse into all the fun that is Edinburgh, Scotland!

Up next, the Highlands (get ready Outlander fans!).

Slàinte,

Shannon [and Rob]

Note: These pictures were taken collectively by myself, hubby, my parents, siblings, and in-laws! Thanks to everyone for sharing all the pictures!

 

TRAVELING SOLTS – THE LAND OF SCOTCH, TARTAN PLAID, AND HARRY POTTER (PART 1)

Lengthy post alert!

It’s hard to believe it’s already been FOUR months since we came home from the most beautiful and magical SCOTLAND.  We finally had time to sit down and write about some of the highlights of our trip and how we are going to incorporate some of the pictures into our home!  There is so much we want to include in these posts so we’ve split them into a couple parts.  This first one highlights St. Andrews. [And Scotch].

ST. ANDREWS 

We spent 10 days in Scotland, the majority of it in St. Andrews (for my youngest sister’s graduation from St. Andrews University!).  St. Andrews is seriously the most enchanting place on this earth.  I definitely felt right at home surround by the beautiful sea and green countryside.  I’m pretty convinced I lived here in a past life.

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Ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral
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The Fife Coastal Path

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We had the best time exploring this charming seaside town.  Most people think of the famous Old Course and the Swilcan Bridge when they think of St. Andrews.  But there is SO much rich history to discover – the school itself was founded in 1413. [And Scotch]

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Main courtyard of the University.

One of our days was spent celebrating my sister’s graduation from The University of St. Andrews (I’m convinced it’s actually Hogwarts)! [No joke she kept yelling spells at me. People stared.] This was hands down the coolest graduation celebration I’ve ever been too.  The University of St. Andrews has in its possession three medieval academic maces that date back to the 15th century.  These maces are only brought out for use during graduation.  The graduates are sent on their way by the ceremonious touching of a 300 year old cap that was worn by  Sir John Arbuthnot, the private physician to Queen Anne. [Who apparently had lice…JK]

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We loved exploring the famous ruins of St. Andrews Castle and Cathedral (my brother proposed to his girlfriend at the top of the cathedral tower!! SO MAGICAL!).

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Ruins of the St. Andrews Castle

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I had way too much fun exploring the cute little shops all over town. [I agree, way too much fun] My favorite is one called Top Drawer (you can follow them on Facebook!) – they sell the cutest home décor items (I have several of their nautical inspired painted ceramic tiles – super cute!).

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How cute are my parents?!

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Hands down though my favorite part of St. Andrews was exploring the coast and hiking along the Fife Coastal Path.  Such gorgeous views of the North Sea and the surrounding rolling rolls.  I HIGHLY recommend doing this if you ever visit St. Andrews.

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You can’t visit Scotland without going to at least one scotch distillery.  Hubby did LOTS of research [And tasting] and ended up finding a scotch distillery 15 minutes from St. Andrews.   Visiting the Kingsbarns Distillery was probably one of my favorite days!  My siblings and I ended up getting lost after we embarked off the bus, but it was the best experience ever!

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We ended up walking through the cute town of Kingsbarns and enjoyed seeing all the Scottish cottages and local life.  We found a gravel path that led us through the beautiful countryside and dropped us out at the North Sea.  We somehow ended up on the Kingsbarns Golf Course and received some very confused looks from the local golfers.  Eventually we stopped at the cutest farm house and asked some very nice folks how to get to the distillery.  What should have been a ten minute walk off the bus turned into the most glorious hour of exploring the Scottish countryside.

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The distillery itself was awesome!  We tasted some delicious scotch and gin and learned all about the process of making scotch.  Hubby purchased our favorite bottle to bring home so we can taste a bit of Scotland every so often. [Kingsbarn itself is a fairly young distillery, its first distillation occuring in 2015.  The distillery was founded by a Caddie from one of the local courses and a member of the Wemyss Family, who has other distilleries. While we were not able to taste the finished product, we were able to sample the raw spirit that went into the casks that eventually will become Scotch as well as several other single malts and blends from the Wemyss Family.  The Wemyss have a unique process for the blends that are based on flavor palate, so blends include the “The Hive,” “The Spice King,” “Chimney Peat,” and “Kiln Embers.”  Kiln Embers had the palate of bacon and barbecue, which was as unique as it was awesome.]

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We can’t end this post without mentioning the food.  Honestly we didn’t think Scottish food was something to write home about.  Boy were we wrong!  We actually loved the local cuisine.  And yes, we ALL tried haggis, which was served every which way from roasted, fried and yes, even on nachos.  And it was surprisingly quite delicious! [Haggis was the best thing ever, minus Scotch of course]  Another fan favorite were the breakfast scones with clotted cream…OMG….so good!  I think everyone’s favorite meal though was the local fish and chips – you just can’t find ’em in the states like you can in Scotland.

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Next up, Edinburgh and the Highlands!

Slàinte,

Shannon [and Rob]

THE TRAVELING SOLTS – MARBLEHEAD, OHIO

Travel is one of the many things that fuels my creativity and inspires my home décor and fashion picks.  Since we’ve been married, we’ve had the opportunity to do lots of traveling!  This past year alone we’ve been to Colorado, Las Vegas, Mexico, and Scotland (best trip ever! Post about our Scottish trip coming soon). [Or as I like to say we went to craft beer, expensive beer, tequila and scotch!]

This summer we really wanted to enjoy and explore the coastal shores of Ohio.  We love that it only takes an hour or less to travel to the Lake Erie shore.  This summer we successfully made it to Put-In-Bay, Maumee Bay State Park, and this past weekend, Marblehead. [It was also Shannon’s birthday, and when wifie wants a lighthouse and water, wifie gets a lighthouse with water plus wine]

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We loved Marblehead!  It was the perfect mini getaway for the day.  Next time we want to rent a cabin or home on the lake and stay for a long weekend.   Our first stop for the day was the historic, and popular, Marblehead Lighthouse.   Going on a Saturday meant it was pretty busy with tourists.  We would recommend going during the week when it is less crowded.

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The Marblehead Lighthouse Historical Society and State Park includes the lighthouse, the museum, and the Lifesaving Station.  You only need about an hour or so to walk around and see everything.  My favorite part of course was climbing to the top of the lighthouse.  Built in 1821, this lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse still in use on the Great Lakes.  Although it was a cloudy day, we still enjoyed some gorgeous views of the lake. [Scroll down for my very first pictorial appearance!  And yes ladies, I do actually exist and am not a figment of Shannon’s imagination.]

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We spent about an hour and half walking around the grounds.  We had originally planned to go to Mon Ami Winery for lunch, but as we were driving through the main street of Marblehead, we stumbled upon some super cute shops and had to stop.  The shops were adorably nautical (check out the Pink Perch on Facebook!) and I definitely could have dropped some serious $$$ on décor for our home.

As we were shopping, we stumbled upon the cutest local winery – Rocky Point Winery.  The winery is an old historic building with a huge garden in the back.  They had a pavilion set-up in the garden with live music, picnic tables, an outdoor bar, bonfires, lawn games, and wicker furniture where you could relax and enjoy some wine.   We ordered a flight of six local wines and a cheese plate and it was the perfect way to end our mini getaway.

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I’m already planning on framing a print of one of the lighthouse photos I took.  As I mentioned in a previous post, framing pictures you take on your travels is such an easy and inexpensive way to add meaningful décor to your home.  Plus, it’s a lovely reminder of the great memories you created while exploring and traveling.

Thanks again for reading!  Please let us know if you have any questions about our trip to Marblehead or for more recommendations!

Slàinte,

Shannon [and Rob]