Lake Michigan with mom and Linley

Yesterday I decided to take my dog, Linley, up north to hang out on the beach and do some hiking. Luckily my mom was able to join us and we had a fun, all-day adventure!

Linley and I picked my mom up early and we headed north around 7:00am. Before we headed toward the beach, we found a unique cafe where everything was gluten, dairy and soy free. We had to sip some iced coffee, indulge in morning pastries and take some photos on the butterfly bench!

Once we replenished, we ventured toward Empire Beach. This took as longer than we’d thought, however, because our GPS didn’t take us to the dog-friendly area like I’d hoped. We may have lost an hour of time, but we made up for it elsewhere.

I may be a prepared dog mom, but my mom is the prepared human mom! She brought us so many snacks and even some matching hats. I would’ve traveled north with Linley myself, but it’s always better when she’s around, too!

Linley had so much fun in the sand! We found a cool place where he had plenty of shade and could dig to make himself even cooler. We were on the beach for about an hour or so; we even put Linley’s life jacket on so he could swim a little!

After my mom and I had enough of the heat, we headed toward Empire Trail where we could all experience some shade. The trail is tucked back in the woods and once you reach the end, you’re in the midst of pristine sand dunes. My mom was intrigued by markings in the trees, where as Linley was busy leaving his mark on all the trees!

I didn’t capture many photos from yesterday; simply being with my mom and pup meant the world to me. Thankfully my mom took a sweet photo of Linley napping under our bench…

After we rested on the bluffs, we headed back down the trail, enjoyed a nice dinner in downtown Traverse City, and were back on the road again. Linley was fantastic in the car, on the beach and during our hikes; I can’t imagine going on these adventures without him (or without my mom for that matter)!

Llama Superpowers?

Let’s face facts: I’ve always known that llamas had superpowers.

But I NEVER thought I’d see the day that American and Belgian scientists found that llamas may have the antibodies we need to fight COVID-19.

It sure is an interesting world we live in these days…

Perusing the streets (and past memories) of Paris

With the COVID-19 chaos among us, all I can think of is traveling. Last Monday I was supposed to venture off to Banff National Park for some solo adventuring, yet here I am soaking up some sun on my couch…

While I may not be educating myself on wolf-dogs, tubing down mountains or glacier hiking, I am currently lost in past travels. I recently spoke with one of my best friends who I met while we studied in France, so I’ll continue my French-inspired posts for now.

One of my favorite photos from the weekend…

Carolyn and I spent one weekend in Paris during over summer abroad; for both good and bad reasons, it was a weekend we’ll never forget. I can only explain our weekend mishaps by sharing a piece of my matron of honor speech from September 2019:

“During our time in France, there was only one moment when I feared that Carolyn wouldn’t want to be my friend anymore. We were lost in Paris for a while, wandering the outskirts in the middle of the night. Let’s just say that it brought out the worst in us. Our phones weren’t working and we had no clue how or when we would find our way back.

For once, there were no stories about our significant others, no rants about Veronique and her subpar cooking, and most importantly, no laughter. Thankfully, things went back to normal once we found our hotel, and I’m incredibly thankful for that.

In fact, we’ve had a reunion every year since that summer, and in 2015 we were also lost in Chicago late at night. We laughed while we struggled to find our way back to the hotel, and it brought me back to that hectic night in Paris.”

I hope you’re all staying safe, healthy and happy with your loved ones (and favorite TV series!) ❤️

Fond of France (2014)

I officially started this blog in 2015 by being forced into it as a class assignment. I thought, “no one is going to care what I have to say,” but thank you for reading and following my journey anyway. 

With this gratitude, I will be sharing my first study abroad experience with you: Aix-en-Provence, France (2014). I have shared some photos way back, but it’s time you saw and heard about one of my favorite countries to this day. I’m feeling just as grateful for my summer in southern France as I am for all of you! 
Thank you for all of your love and support, always. 
Cate

January Jazz

We’re one month into the new year and 2020 has already proven to be a roller coaster. Despite being hit with a viral infection during the holidays and the flu last weekend, January was a fantastic month overall! 
In early January, Juan was finally able to meet two of my closest friends from work, Zachary and Bethany. That might seem crazy, but I actually live two hours away from our headquarters. And THAT is the crazy part 🙂 
The four of us went to the Purple Door Tea Room in Ferndale, Michigan to celebrate Zachary’s birthday the fanciest way possible. The tea was nice and all, but we were still hungry and obviously needed to visit the Detroit Cookie Co. for the goods! 
Après cookies à la mode, we walked around the Detroit Zoo to see the infamous Zoo Lights show. It was nice because I’ve never been to this festival with Juan, and it was awesome to have such a good evening with great friends. 

Another cool thing I did in early January was visit Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern for some upbeat, eclectic jazz music. The secret is out: I LOVE JAZZ!!! Seeing two unique bands perform – who have clearly been friends since they were in diapers – was a fun, ‘dance like no one’s watching’ experience. I highly recommend this bar if you’re ever in Toronto. 

The jazz continued throughout the month as I recently bought an alto saxophone, which is an instrument I’ve wanted to play for over ten years! I’m slowly but surely getting the hang of it… 
My inspiration grew even more because Juan and I treated my parents to a birthday dinner at Cliff Bell’s, Detroit’s best jazz club (and one of my all-time favorite spots on earth!). The four of us had an unforgettable night together – we’re still talking about it as though it happened yesterday! 
Aside from all the jazz music and Detroit shenanigans, I’ve also been blessed to have quality time with some of my best friends. I was able to see two of my best friends from college, KayLee and Madison, earlier in the month as well as one of my best friends from home, Danielle. I’ve been chatting it up while indulging in all the ice cream and tea lattes a gal could wish for. 

Happy Birthday to my Favorite Cousin!

Katy, who is three years younger than me and lives miles away, has been a sister to me for a very long time.

I’m not close with a lot of my extended family members (for reasons I won’t mention here), so having a third-cousin who is more like a sibling means the world to me. Every single time we reunite, we pick up right where we left off.

Words can’t express how much I love this lady! Katy, if you’re reading this, I’m blessed to know you and call you a friend and sister. Happy birthday!

We’ve had many amazing memories over the years, and we’re guaranteed to have many more 🙂

Celebrating Carolyn

My best friend married her best friend on Saturday, September 28 in Morristown, New Jersey. This was hands-down my favorite weekend of 2019 and honestly one of the best nights of my life.

I’ve been in a couple weddings that have turned out to be disastrous. Let’s just say that I have a little PTSD when it comes to being a bridesmaid…

However, I’m blessed that she asked me/trusted me enough to be her matron of honor.

Carolyn looked beautiful as always on her big day and we all had a great time together. No drama, great music and dancing, and we even took some pictures with horses!

Stay tuned for more photos in the coming months. I cannot stress this enough: this was the best night I’ve had in a LONG time.

The Bay Area with Bae

Two weekends ago, Juan and I flew all the way to Oakland, California for a one-day music festival. One of our favs, Lane 8, performed at an all-day event in the middle of the city (I can’t emphasize how rad this was)! No phones were allowed and it was a truly immersive experience.

The only photos I have from our weekend away aren’t even from Oakland: they’re from San Francisco.

Juan has never been to the Golden Gate Bridge, so obviously we had to take a detour. When I visited two years ago, it was clear and sunny outside (see below):

When we visited two weekends ago, however, that wasn’t the case…

Regardless, we still had a great time and made the most of our foggy day!

Pro tip: do not get the croissants at the visitors center (Juan said they were hella stale).

“Let’s raise our glasses and lower our expectations” – Geoffrey Zakarian – Cate Spader