London // Vol. 1

Our tube stop – right down the street from our flat.
Residing in a city with limited public transportation, an Oyster card  is real magic.
The whole city is yours with a few dollars and a tap on the yellow circle.

Tea with my mom at The Orangery.
One of my very favorite moments from our time in London.

The palm house at Kew Gardens.

The Design Museum and the Designer Maker User exhibit.

Off to the busy Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, and classic London sights.
The scaffolding didn’t quite cover up the bell tower and it still chimed strong.

We walked across the bridge to the South Bank which was a mass of people and street performers.
And one of us enjoyed some cotton candy (er, candy floss?).

Classic London side street.

 

London was full, bustling with so many different people.
Everywhere you looked there were seas of people and beautiful buildings.
All of the pictures I grew up looking at didn’t compare to the grandness and charm of being there in real life.

 

(For the 1990’s kid reference:  This and this.)
(AND, YOU GUYS, THERE’S A DELETED SCENE.)

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Chicago

Last weekend Josh had the privilege of being the best man in our good friend’s wedding.
They have a really precious and sweet love story.  Including us crashing their first date.
Which is clearly how they ended up together.

But really.  They’re made for each other.

Since we knew the wedding would be only a few hours from Chicago, we decided to plan a little getaway after the festivities.

And by plan we had a place to stay, train tickets, and a river tour booked.
The rest was whatever our spontaneous hearts desired.
Josh would also like to add that he planned on visiting Intelligentsia Coffee.
(Which we did.  Three times.)

We travelled by train which was new (and a bit outside of our “get in the car and go” comfort zone.) for us but we enjoyed every minute of it.  I loved sinking into the communal aspect of public transportation.  On our first train ride we sat behind two women in their fifties who had just been introduced as they took their seats but chatted like old friends (complimenting their attempts to “Go grey!” and sharing their love/hate relationship with Facebook) and two men just released from prison, en route to see their families. It was fascinating. I’ve felt this feeling one other time in my life and it’s really hard to explain.  Maybe I’m overanalyzing it? When the rich, middle-class, and poor are gathered together on a level playing field (i.e. Amtrak coach class, church gathering room) and can talk and relate and laugh as natural as can be. It’s beautiful.

Anyways.

On our first Chicago “L” train experience, while getting off at our stop, a man looked at us, smiled, and said, “Don’t worry, be happy.” He must have seen the (obvious) flustered looks on our faces while glancing down at our Google Maps and then up again at each other to confirm that this was in face the right stop, our luggage pulling our arms down as we shuffled to exit.  Maybe he was crazy and just says that to everyone.  Maybe he felt sorry for us.  But for whatever reason it stuck with me.  Don’t worry about messing everything up.  Just enjoy it.  And we did.  Soon we were tapping those Ventra cards like pros.

A few details:

Favorite Moment: Biking around the Uptown neighborhood and around the lake with Josh.

Moment I Wanted to Cry:  When no pie places were open on Memorial Day.  I had one prospective place and we took a one-way train to get there, got lost walking there.  And it was closed.  We ubered back.

My sister was a huge help in planning a few details for our trip. They’ve been there a few times and pointed us in the right direction for many things.  Plus, she’s a travel goddess.

We tried Airbnb for the first time and loved it.  Our place was quite a ways outside the downtown “loop” but we enjoyed biking and strolling the beautiful neighborhood and lakeshore and finding some local spots that were a bit less crowded.

Food:

Antique Taco – Hands down our favorite.  Unique but not too weird.  We sat outside and watched the trains roll by. We both had the sweet and spicy chicken tacos and I sipped an agua fresca.  It was delicious.

Wildberry –  Good. But a bit disappointing?  This was on the top of a lot of brunch lists downtown but was a little “meh” to me.

Shake Shack – We had to.  The fries were worth the hype.  The plain hot dog was delicious.  They served fruity lemonade.  Win. Win. Win.

Thai Aroma – We wandered in here while walking through our neighborhood.  We didn’t even consult Yelp.  We just walked in. So adventurous.

Drinks:

Intelligentsia Coffee – Like I said, we found ourselves here three times in two days.  Josh loved trying different brews while I enjoyed their pastries, grapefruit soda, and exceptionally good decaf lattes.

Do:

Divvy Bikes –  Take them everywhere. Josh used the CityMapper App to locate the pick up and return stalls.

Architecture River Cruise – I loved this. A good way to get a feel for the layout of the city and learn about the famous buildings that make up the Chicago skyline.

Millennium Park –  It was beautiful but packed when we went on Memorial Day.  Still, you have to. Plus, your husband will be thrilled as you point out all the buildings in the background that you learned about from your architecture tour.

Milwaukee Avenue Stroll – We walked down the busy street and popped into the shops along the way.

A Lesson in Progress Over Perfection from John Homer Bothwell

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This historic site near my hometown has interested me for years. Bestowed to the state of Missouri after his passing, attorney John Homer Bothwell constructed a spectacular lodge to share with an assortment of guests throughout the last half of his life. The motto, “Ye ornament of a house is ye guest who doth frequent it.” hangs above the music room to welcome his hundreds of visitors.  He was a fascinating and innovative man and walking through his lodge is like stepping into a ghostly scene from the early 1900’s.

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Growing up, the tour at Bothwell was a frequent stop for school field trips and family outings.  On this particular trip I had to smile as our tour guide described Bothwell’s woodworking blunders.  As a practical hobby he had constructed several pieces for the home that would rival a professional’s.  However, in his “basement” stood a few pieces that were of lesser quality.  The thought “progress over perfection” came to mind.  Even Bothwell fumbled. He fumbled quite a bit.  It was laughable the pieces he had created that leaned every which way with even an ounce of pressure.  Yet the revolving bookshelf he created as a bedside table is the essence of beauty, simplicity, and practicality.

He kept going.

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A day spent wandering through Bothwell’s many bedrooms, gazing at the impressive view from the bluff, and staring mesmerized at his impressive library collection will always be on of my favorite activities.

Plus, it holds a special place in my heart as it was the place where I saw Josh Morris for the first time on our wedding day.

Nasvhille // A Whole Lot of Food, Ya’ll

Last week we took off and road tripped to Nashville with Josh’s brother and sister-in-law. We purchased tickets for a concert there a while back and Nashville’s the perfect distance for a short getaway. We loaded up the car Tuesday morning, even with Josh feeling not so great, and headed out.

Unless you’re a country music fan you’ll find yourself with a lot of good food options. If we had more time (and let’s be honest money because their museums aren’t cheap!) we probably would have checked out a few of the sites. However, since we were on a time and money budget, we spent most of our day walking around downtown, peeking in the library and other shops, and eating everything in sight. Nashville, you’ve got the goods.

Coffee + Breakfast

  • Crema – This shop has been on the Josh Morris’s list for a while now and I’m so glad we got to go! Straight coffee for him and an iced coffee with milk and sweetened condensed milk for her. Peach tartine for her as well, and equally delicious.
  • Sky Blue Cafe – This one was not on the “list”.  It was a total, “Everyone’s hungry someone Google breakfast foods in Nashville, quick” kind of thing.  Which would have made the hyper-planner in me go nuts if I had not already had my first breakfast. Yes, I did eat again. It was amazing. J’s brother had a french toast sandwich – literally french toast, eggs, cheese, and bacon sandwiched between two pancakes.

Lunch + Dinner

  • Hattie B’s Hot Chicken – Super great.  Would have been even better if we weren’t already hot and sweaty and then had to eat outside.  Never the less, super great. How can you go to Nashville without eating some fried chicken?
  • The Pharmacy – We ended up eating at really weird times which really helped us in the area of wait times but left us having lunch and dinner really close together. Josh and I split a burger and it was incredible. Also, homemade sodas and free milkshakes – win.
  • The Flipside – I’m pretty sure this won as everyone’s favorite.  Cool concept, killer atmosphere, and the most amazing food.  They pound out chicken breasts super thin, sauté them, then have a variety of toppings.  Tiffani and I split the “Popeye”  which was spinach, tomato, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. My mouth is watering right now.  So good.

Later that night we walked off our dinner and ice cream (Jeni’s is as good as everyone says.  I could eat there multiple times a day. Brown Butter Almond Brittle + Darkest Chocolate.  Do these people deliver?) by walking to the Parthenon. It was magnificent. Even more incredible is how the ancient Greeks built something of that magnitude.  It’s huge! On the way back we stopped in Memphis to see the Gibson store and eat (surprise, surprise) some Memphis BBQ. It was, you guessed it, delicious.

This little trip was such a sweet getaway and it was so great to be able to spend time with family that feel more like friends.  Now it’s back to work (what’s that?) and a dreaded dental appointment tomorrow.

//

Side note:  Josh didn’t feel so great the entire time. Not enough to stay home from all the sightseeing and eating, but just not great. On our last day, before driving back, Josh tells me he thinks he needs to go to the doctor. Josh Morris hates going to the doctor so I knew he really had to go. So our last Nashville stop was to an urgent care where we waited a few hours to find out that J had a stomach virus.  Not appendices.  He drank about a gallon of lemon-lime Gatorade and ate a sleeve of saltines before feeling just fine.  Turns out, eating a bunch of greasy food when you have a stomach bug is not the greatest.

This happened a month ago but I don’t care because it was a really good day.

Bentonville, AR Wedding

It was a simple, easy-going, half a weekend trip.

We woke up early to ride the bike trail, neglecting to map a route.
As is the Morris way.
I was all for this until we faced some massive hills on our way back.
Even as we were walking up our bikes up the mountain, sweat drenching, face flushed, I thought, “There is no other place I would rather be.”
I remember thinking this a lot while Josh and I were dating.
We’d be sitting at a restaurant or watching TV and I was perfectly content with just being there.
I wasn’t thinking about the budget. Or what we’re doing next. Or if the house is clean enough.
I was just soaking up time with my love.

And that’s what this weekend reminded me of.

We didn’t do anything spectacular.

Just riding bikes, walking around, visiting shops, drinking coffee, and attending a beautiful wedding.

Being there with my husband and enjoying the moment.

JUST THE TWO OF US

This weekend was different than all the rest.  
We traveled – nothing different there.
But this time we weren’t traveling towards more people we knew.
No family at the end.
No friends in the car.
Just me and Mr. Morris.
Although I deeply and dearly love our family and friends it was a weekend for just Josh and Rachel.
{With the ending spent at a gorgeous wedding.}

We took the weekend slowly.
Sleeping in, driving the well known route to Bentonville, stopping by the farmers’ market on the square, eating tacos from the food truck on a whim {P.S. Always eat food truck tacos on a whim.  Always.}, multiple coffee shop reading trips, antique shop strolling, hotel pool swims, feasting on Chinese food, and going to bed however early we wish.

I like the two of us.
I like the conversation and the silence.
I like the looks over the computer screen that say, “Enough pictures already, woman.”
And my goodness I love going to weddings with that man.

I’m telling you people – always.

WANDERINGS | BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS

The Morrises love a good road trip.
We also kind of like Arkansas.
So off we went one Sunday with three of our good friends.
Josh grew up in Bentonville, and if you know anyone from Northwest Arkansas, it’s “The greatest place on Earth”.
{Many thanks to Walmart. ;)}
But all jokes aside, Northwest Arkansas is just naturally beautiful and offers some pretty great {might I add, “budget friendly”} experiences – and is a short two hour drive from Southwest Missouri.
First up, Kennedy’s.
Because let’s be real,
coffee is where a good day trip starts.
There are several good coffee shops in the area.
We just can’t break the habit.
It’s like a magnet, pulling us to the parking lot for Velvet Elvis goodness.
^^^ And there’s that handsome husband.
😉
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art was our next stop.
While I can’t say I know much about art,
the museum collection was fascinating.
I think I could spend hours just reading the plaques and searching for little details.
Even the “non-art-goer” was impressed.
{i.e. Josh Morris}
Another plus to Crystal Bridges is that there is no entrance fee.
Who says being cultured has to be expensive?
🙂
^^^ Architecture, models, cities.
Things I love to admire.
Thanks, dad.
This guy, Moshe Safdie, and his gardens for everyone had my eyes for a good thirty minutes.
He was the architect for Crystal Bridges which is why museum is nestled into the beautiful trails and wildlife of the “Natural State”.
And then we found the kids’ room.
Where the majority of our art visit was spent.
^^^ The boys.
After wandering around the museum we were ready to just sit and relax.
J recommended Pressroom, conveniently located next door to Phat Tire Bike Shop.
😉
We sipped iced teas and Italian sodas while plotting our next move.
Which was disc golf for Josh and Jeff.
And sushi and Barnes and Noble for me, Kaitlyn, and Jake.
And then a sleepy drive home for all.
//
Where’s your favorite road trip destination?

THAT TIME WE TREKKED 64 HOURS ACROSS THE COUNTRY

This funny thing happens when you’re married.
Your friend supply doubles.
And thankfully I gained some pretty cool ones.
These friends know cool people in cool places, like Seattle.
So one day it was mentioned, “Let’s go to Seattle and visit our friends.”
And we all just kind of joined in.
We started planning.
Was this even possible?
I’m pretty sure I doubted our departure up until we hit the road.
These cool friends plan lots of cool trips that don’t quite make it.
But there we were.
5:00 Sunday evening and heading out on the first leg of our journey.
A 21 hour trek to our hotel at Yellowstone National Park.
Then the next morning it was off to Seattle.
We arrived pretty late and crashed into the closest thing we could find to a bed.
Then the next morning {and every morning after that} we tried out the local coffee scene.

Pike Street Adventures.
The market and the “original” Starbucks.

Volunteer Park

Snoqualmie Falls
Boy Selfie
Fremont Troll

Gas Works Park

The Seattle Great Wheel

Alki Beach

The ride back looked like Melatonin gummies, sunflower seeds, killing the data with watching Jimmy Fallon on Hulu, and in the final hours there may have even been some jamming out to Hilary Duff.
So yesterday.
It was a long journey but all five of us at some point mentioned we’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Seattle is an incredible and beautiful city that taught us a lot.