Welcome to my blog. I document my adventures in travel, style, and food. Hope you have a nice stay!



Our family loves road trips! I mean really loves spending hours in a car driving wherever possible. While I personally, would rather fly to our vacation destination, time spent with family is irreplaceable; any opportunity to create fun-filled memories is worth giving up the comfort of a flight! 

Growing up, coordinating family vacations was a bit of a struggle. My sister (6 years younger than me) has always had a different (seemingly opposite) academic calendar than mine, so when we find a few days like Thanksgiving and Winter Break, where literally everyone is on vacation, we try to make the most of our time together!

Combining our passion for exploring new places and love of learning, we headed west to the historic town of Galena, Illinois. 

Galena, IL: Top-ten charming small towns according to TripAdvisor 2011. 

Galena, home to Ulysses S. Grant and eight other Civil War generals, was also the largest steamboat hub on the Mississippi River. The city is most known for its historic lead production and was the site of the first major mineral rush in the United States. 

We found this cute red trolley, and a took a tour of the city, where we saw President Grant's house up-close!



Red Trolley Tour

Brick shops clustered together in downtown Galena reminded me a lot of small european cities. On the small stretch of restaurants and boutique shops we counted over 14 stores with silly alterations like "Razzle Dazzle," "Pasta Perfetta," "Hotzy Totzy," "Pinder Pottery," "Grateful Gourmet," "Petals and Primitives," etc. (You get the idea!) Exhausted after our tour, we stopped for a delicious lunch at a similarly alliterated restaurant, "Vinny Vanucchi's." (Try their eggplant parmesan, it's amazing!)

After such a filling meal we decided to explore the town, and of course upon seeing this bakery stopped in for some sweets. While the pecan pie, blondie bars, and miniature glazed donuts made our sweet tooth(s) scream with joy, the owner, Mary was even sweeter! We discovered a wall full of uniquely designed one-of-a-kind wedding cakes that she had made. Mary never says "no" to an idea brought to her by a client, and challenges her self with every off the wall request she receives. She even exchanged a few favorite recipes with my mom, and took me behind the scenes to learn different techniques for frosting cakes! Experiencing this small town kindness, rekindled my hope in humanity despite the saddening global events of the past year. It's not often that I get to witness busy entrepreneurs taking time out of their commitments to share knowledge!

Our sugar cravings fulfilled, we retired to our cabin-resort for the night. We spent Thanksgiving Day, relaxing, swimming, battling for champ in table tennis, cooking, watching re-runs of Chicago PD, and attempted (without much success) to finish a 1000 piece puzzle -_-. 

At the end of the day, I'm immensely thankful for the time I can spend with my family. Among the many many blessings in my life, my parents and my sister fill me with the utmost joy without whom life would not be nearly as vibrant! 

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
— Melody Beattie
QUARTER CENTURY: Birthday Edition!

QUARTER CENTURY: Birthday Edition!

SONY A6000