Dog Days of… January?

Some of us are excited for what 2021 will bring. Some of us remain uncertain and are maybe even afraid for the future. I’m almost certain that no matter which bucket you fall into (if not both!), you’re ready for some normalcy. And one of the only beings in my life who is loving all of this is my pup, Linley.

Salty about me cleaning the mud off his paws…

For Juan and me, January has been filled of some quick (and safe) visits with friends, tons of work after hours, and the occasional date with just us two; but mostly it’s filled with Linley-related quality time.

I hope that the remainder of 2021 involves more time with friends and more traveling, which includes more adventures with Lin!

I promise that Juan wears his mask right 99% of the time…!

Friends are the family we choose

Today is one of my best friend’s birthdays. Saskia and I met ten years ago, and our friendship has proven the test of time and distance. I haven’t seen Sassi in person since 2016 (which is quite depressing to think about!), but we use WhatsApp to communicate on a weekly basis. She and I are closer than some of my family and friends who live close in proximity; she truly is my family right now. Although I love hearing her voice, I can’t wait to see Saskia again and give her the big hug that she deserves! Happy birthday, Saskia 🙂💛

Thinking of my friends in D.C.

I’m seldom at a loss for words; my heart goes out to the people who live and work near the U.S. Capitol. My best friend and her husband have lived in D.C. since 2016, which has easily been the most challenging four years for my friend’s husband as he is directly employed by the city. As protests sweep the nation, I always think about the safety of my close friends and hope that he returns home after chaotic days of work ❤️

D.C. October, 2020
Morristown September, 2019
Montréal August 2019
D.C. August 2016
Paris July, 2014

“Hindsight is 2020”

Last year, one of my closest friends from a past study abroad adventure stayed with us for ten days. We visited the Niagara Falls, enjoyed some live music in Toronto and went to a roaring 20’s New Year’s Eve party hosted by one of my dearest friends. It couldn’t have been any better!

Fast forward to December 31, 2020: another beloved COVID test, watching Portlandia and snuggles on the couch…

I hope 2021 is full of more adventures, quality time with friends, reading and career advancement. I also wish for less social media/screen time and self-doubt this year.

Happy New Year 🙂

Getting Christmasy During COVID

For many of us the holidays not only feel different, but look different. I haven’t been in much of a Christmasy mood this year and have done just about everything to get myself out of this funk. It’s been wonderful to see some bright lights with my husband, dog and friends in safe ways this month.

Home

Our tree has been a much-needed focal point of our home. This will likely be my last Christmas in Michigan for the foreseeable future, which makes our tree even more meaningful. At the end of our neighborhood lies Linley’s doggy daycare, and Santa put him on the nice list this year 🙂

Campus Martius, Detroit

There’s nothing that screams Christmastime more than the tree and lights in downtown Detroit! Juan, Linley and I had a wonderful time exploring and grabbing some dinner in Campus Martius park (even if our glasses kept fogging up!).

Big Bright Light Show

Each year, downtown Rochester knocks it out of the park with their big bright light show. Every business has their own colorful lights outside and not only is this absolutely whimsical, but it’s also extremely helpful for local businesses. My friend Ter and I ordered some pouches of Bright Light Cosmos and enjoyed ourselves a little too much!

Drive Thru Light Show

I actually drove through this light show twice: once with Juan and Linley, and another time with my friend Ter. Both times were fun and full of cliche holiday music.

Outdoor Drinks

My friend Donna and I definitely took drinking in public for granted! We each enjoyed a cosmo mule on a heated patio recently and had a great time.

I hope you all have happy and safe holidays this year! ☺️

Giving Tuesday: Top Four Charities

As 2020 comes to a close, this is a great time to reflect and donate to a local charity or two. With many nonprofit organizations’ funding being eliminated due to the ongoing impacts of the global pandemic, there has never been a better time to help amazing charities in your area.

While there are many charities I care about, there are four that I have either participated in, heavily benefited from, or have grown to admire over the past decade. If you are interested in donating time or financially to any of these charities, please use the affiliated links or contact me for more information. And most importantly: thank you for your donation!

Big Brothers Big Sisters

I immediately tear up when I think of how much BBBS of the Great Lakes Bay Region (Michigan) has impacted me. Aniya and I have been matched for six years and to see her grow has been one of the greatest gifts I could’ve asked for. Aniya is gracious, strong and has truly grown up to be a phenomenal young woman. She is the sister I never had but always wanted. There’s no doubt that I’ve learned more from her than she’s learned from me! Please consider becoming a Big or donating a gift a money to: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E246618&id=1

Compass Dog Rescue

I’m pretty sure my first word was “dog,” and I impatiently waited 23 long, ‘’miserable” (😂) years to finally rescue one. Compass Dog Rescue is based in Royal Oak, Michigan but rescues dogs from high-kill shelters in southern states. My little guy Linley was saved in 2017 from a high-kill shelter after he was dropped there during Hurricane Harvey. This pup has helped with my anxiety and depression more than I could’ve ever anticipated, and your new best friend could be waiting for you at Compass! To donate or even rescue/foster a rescue dog, please visit: https://m.facebook.com/compassdogrescue/

The Camilla Foundation

Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the Camilla Foundation is focused on helping those in need at both local and global levels. Their global mission is to empower and grow the stability of an orphanage in Uganda. They are currently approving the salary of 20 amazing caretakers and funding self-sufficient food security for our growing children through the entire year. To donate, please visit: https://camilla-foundation.org/donate

The Barn Sanctuary

As a vegetarian transitioning into a fully plant-based diet, I want to end animal cruelty, live a healthier lifestyle and protect the environment from the dangers of climate change. Animals are friends, not food! To learn more and donate to the Barn Sanctuary, please visit: https://www.barnsanctuary.org/donate/

“Surprise Summer”

November 2019 in Michigan: snow, snow and even more snow…

November 2020 in Michigan: 70° sunshine!

As coldness and winter approaches, I encourage all of you to spend more time outdoors (safely of course) 🙂

Finding Hope in Friendship

In the midst of a worsening global pandemic, a gut-wrenching American presidential election and the beginning of some painful family estrangement, I wanted to post about the people I’m especially grateful for these days.

♥️♥️♥️

Jaclyn and Dustin / Detroit, 2020
Carolyn / Washington D.C., 2020
Linley counts as a person too, right? / 2020
Saskia / Germany, 2016
Bethany / Colorado, 2020
Jacomijne 😂 / Sweden, 2016
And Bernie… always Bernie!

The Arboretum, Again…

I took my beloved pup to the Ann Arbor Arboretum again for a multitude of different reasons.

1) It’s getting colder and the leaves are falling like crazy here in Michigan.

2) COVID cases are spiking and yes, I do believe in science and that staying home slows the spread!

3) There’s a likelihood that I’ll start a new job next month and won’t have the same amount of free time as I do now (stay tuned!).

4) There’s also a likelihood that we won’t remain in the area next fall and wanted to soak in the Michigan foliage (again, stay tuned!).

I believe every fall color makes an impact in its own way…

Red

Orange

Yellow

Green

Blue…?

Linley’s sweater counts, right?!

I invite you all to take a seat and enjoy nature 🙂

Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor, Michigan

If I could live anywhere (in Michigan, that is!), I would hands-down live in Ann Arbor. Not only is this trendy college town known for the University of Michigan, but there’s a special charm here that’s unforgettable.

Juan, Linley and I were supposed to wake up at 6:30am yesterday morning and head four hours north to Traverse City; I wanted to see all the fall colors near Lake Michigan and go on some epic hikes. Our plans abruptly changed as we discovered that it would be rainy all day, and because Juan pulled an all-nighter on Friday. I decided that we would all spend the day at the University of Michigan Nichols Arboretum instead. I’ve never been but am thankful we visited yesterday.

We all soaked up the fall foliage, miles of hiking and the crisp, autumn air. This goes without saying, but I think Linley enjoyed himself the most 🙂

Photos taken Saturday, October 17, 2020