Seen/Heard/Tried · Travel

Weekend Trip to Hakone

Last weekend for our anniversary we decided to visit Hakone, an area known for hot springs and its active volcano (which will possibly erupt any day now…). I know that may same like a strange choice of local, but Chad loves hot springs and I was ready to have a getaway with pretty scenery. Little did I know that I was in for some serious uphill climbing before the relaxing part would come!IMG_2213 IMG_2218Lunch after arriving in Hakone: Tempura Soba Set IMG_2227So in the above picture, you can see a cable car that could take you up the mountain to your hotel or ryokan (Japanese style inn) of choice. Chad mistakenly thought taking the cable car was expensive, so we proceeded on foot. Later, after I almost died from climbing, we found out that the cable car was only around 170 yen… I handled this very gracefully because I am perfect. (I actually almost cried haha.) IMG_2229This was taken about a quarter of the way up, before I realized that we were only a quarter of the way upIMG_2230Finally, we arrived at our ryokan. It was pretty creepy to be honest, but the room was nice enough. We were able to relax and be together, and that was the most important thing. Well, besides dinner. Dinner, dinner, dinner. Where could we find dinner? IMG_2232It turned out that nearly the entire area around us had absolutely no restaurants or shops or anything. We found one place that was expensive, and several others that were closed, so we decided to go all the way back down to the station to see if any restaurants were open down there. I was super tired, but I tried to be positive and happy (and that part really is true). When we got to the station, everything that had been open earlier had closed. The time being only 7:00, we started to feel a bit defeated. Fortunately, we were able to make the last cable car of the day (which was at 7:05!), and we headed back up to the one expensive restaurant we had seen that was thankfully still open. IMG_2242I ordered a tempura set (I know, second one of the day! But it looked better than the other options). Above were some of the sides: delicious tofu, gel fish (which I thought had a strange texture and passed along to Chad), and tsukemono (pickled vegetables).  IMG_2243                                                   Chad ordered a steak meal.IMG_2244Here’s my tempura set. It was really nice. Once our bellies were full, we headed back to the hotel where Chad enjoyed the hot springs while I relaxed in our room before bed.IMG_2248The next day, we woke up for our breakfast at our hotel. Above you can see dried horse mackerel being reheated on a little grill.  IMG_2249 IMG_2250Here is the list of everything included in our breakfast. IMG_2253This is our hotel from the outside. IMG_2254I don’t know if this gives you a clear enough idea of how steep our climb up was, but I get sore just looking at it. After descending the mountain again, we headed to the Hakone Open Air Museum, which was my favorite part of our trip. There are loads of sculptures outside, as well as a few inside exhibits. IMG_2262 This exhibit showed music through bamboo. It was really neat.IMG_2265 Light, shadows and sound.IMG_2268From the other side… IMG_2269 IMG_2277A labyrinth! IMG_2281I really enjoyed the indoor Picasso exhibit–it reminded me of when we went to the Picasso museum in Barcelona years ago. Picasso had a really interesting life! IMG_2290Fortunately there was a foot bath located about halfway through the museum.IMG_2298This was a Symphony of Glass tower. I wasn’t super psyched to climb it, but it was really pretty in the end.  IMG_2291 IMG_2292The view from the top of the tower. IMG_2295 IMG_2296Pretty glass inside.  IMG_2305
Chad and I both really loved the Open Air Museum. We had a convenient store lunch afterwards on a bench outside, hopped on a train, and headed home to relax some more. The entire time, no matter how physically tired I got, I felt immensely thankful that I was able to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary together. There is no one for me like my Chad, who lifts me up and loves me always.

I hope you enjoyed seeing pictures from our little weekend getaway, and that you’ve been able to get some relaxing in yourself!

xx Caitlyn

Around Town · Food & Cooking · Seen/Heard/Tried · Summer Bucket List

Our Anniversary Weekend <3

Yesterday night marked the end of a relaxing, love-filled three and a half-day weekend spent celebrating our sixth anniversary. We had so much fun lounging, going for a 4-mile run to Grand Haven’s beautiful beach, enjoying our niece Lydia’s fifth birthday party, and even crossing some things off my summer bucket list!

On Friday, we started the weekend by driving to Battle Creek and going to Binder Park Zoo. It was a nice, sunny day, so the ride was really enjoyable.IMG_0781 IMG_0782I really appreciated how much space the animals had at Binder Park. For the most part, none of the exhibits really surprised me (perhaps because we saw a lot of the animals abroad, sometimes even in the wild), but I was still really impressed with the giraffes. I got to touch one for the first time, and it just blew my mind how big it was. I also really liked all of the peacocks roaming around (though I failed to get a pretty picture!).

IMG_0785This llama was actually kind of terrifying. You can’t see it in this picture, but it had really huge bottom teeth and could swing its head around at an alarming speed. I suppose I do that sometimes at the prospect of chocolate or good beer, but that’s beside the point.

IMG_0801Mugs at Dark Horse Brewing Company hanging from the ceiling

Speaking of good beer, the next place we headed was Dark Horse Brewing Company. We enjoyed a beer in the beer garden.

IMG_0802This table looked nice from a distance, but it was really awkward to sit in because the top came up above our chests. We felt like little kids trying to reach above for our beverage, and so we moved to another spot.

IMG_0804 IMG_0805 The next place we were headed was Arcadia Ales, but we ran into Sweetwater’s Donuts on the way and (obviously) had to stop.

IMG_0806So many choices! IMG_0807They have a coffee club with mugs!



Chad helped me eat a New York cheese cake donut that tasted exactly how it looks: like SUGAR. (I’m not complaining…)


Nom, nom, nom

Finally, we made it to Arcadia Ales, where Chad tried a reuben:



I tried the Garden and Goat Quesadilla, which was fabulous. Pesto, tomato, red onion, spinach, mushroom, and goat cheese in a flour tortilla with a jalapeno salsa and sour cream on the side. *drools*


The next morning, we went to Starbucks and finished off a Turtle donut (above) from Sweetwaters that was delightful. We read and talked in the sunshine before heading around town to do some shopping.


Next up was lunch at a restaurant called Taste of India. We were a little worried at first because the diner was completely empty, but it was nearly 2:00 in the afternoon. We tried the buffet, and enjoyed the curry and other options. I had a yummy mango lassi, and particularly enjoyed the rice pudding offered.


After lunch, we headed out to see Godzilla at a Cheap Flix theater. I was glad the film only cost $3 to see as I wasn’t too impressed, but I was still filled with a longing for Japan (minus the crazy creatures, obviously).


Next up, we drove home, and biked around town (Chad ran) before getting some groceries for a picnic dinner.


We chose proscuitto, fresh mozarella, tomatoes, a warm baguette and fabulous Santiago Olive Oil.


We also prepared sliced pear, apple and plum.


It started thunder storming outside, so we decided to have our picnic inside on our living room floor. I reminded me of when we first bought our house and sat on the floor in the dining room with champagne.


Cheers! Happy Anniversary ❤


The next morning we lounged around the house, enjoying coffee and nutella croissants (which you know I love!)

These are just a few of the fun things we did over the weekend. I was so happy to have days devoted exclusively to hanging out with my sweetheart, who I am grateful for every day. Looking forward to so many more years with him ahead.



Good news! My long-time friend and sister-in-law Ariel will be joining me on Little Snail with occasional blog posts! She’s always up to creative and clever things, so I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us 🙂



That’s why we got here late!

The morning of our anniversary was really good–Chad got hired for a part-time job, I got most of his scrapbook present finished (even though he came home and caught me working on it unexpectedly!) and I managed to get him a toolbox full of shiny tools while he was interviewing (bringing it home on my bike, no less!). Also, Chad gave me a lovely ice tea maker, a chocolate chip cookie, and a gift certificate to a Paper Goods store! The afternoon, however, became an entire other story.

From the time we left home, everything seemed to be going wrong. As I mentioned before, we bought tickets to see Guster alongside Ben Folds Five and the Bare Naked Ladies, and the concert was in Detroit at the DTE Energy Theater. After a few minor complications running errands before leaving, we then had trouble with the directions going to the hotel. Then, we had worse trouble with directions from the hotel to the Theater! We wished in vain for working iPhones or a GPS as time ticked away and not a single gas station attendant seemed to know where to direct us!

Finally, we arrived at the concert about an hour late, finding out Guster only had about 4 or 5 songs left in their set. This obviously bummed us out, but on the bright side, we had really nice lawn seats, the sun was shining, and we were looking forward to Ben Fold Five at the very least.


As we were waiting for Ben Folds Five to come on, a younger couple approached us and asked if we’d like two extra tickets they had for seats in the 19th row. They said the guy’s dad’s company often got free tickets to shows, and that two of their friends bailed on them. We were really excited! I told them it was our anniversary, they said they were glad they chose us, and I told Chad, “That’s why we got here late!”

20130720-102710.jpgWe took this shot right before the couple approached.

As we watched Ben Folds Five, I felt so happy. The couple leaned over to tell us that the tickets were VIP and that we could get drinks without waiting in line. I thought about how the day was going to turn out after all, and about how people really are nice sometimes! To be honest, by that point I had been getting exhausted with trying to stay positive, but now I felt like it had all been worth it.

Just as Ben Folds Five finished, they leaned over and asked us, “So, are you guys going to get drinks?” Chad and I looked at each other and then back at them. Chad said, “Uh, I guess so.” The girl replied quickly, “Oh, cool, can you get us some?”

I asked, “What do you want?”

“Oh, anything,” she said.

“Well, do you want beer?”

“Yeah, beer, anything!”

“What kind of beer?”

“Any kind is fine!”

She handed us a twenty and we walked a few feet away. I looked at Chad and said, “What a bummer. They’re totally not old enough, are they.”

Chad agreed, and decided we should go back and say we were leaving and that they could have their tickets back. I was so angry! I had been sitting and thinking of their kindness, only to find out they were using us to buy alcohol. We proceeded to sit in a different area on the lawn that was wet with a terrible view, watched a few horrible Bare Naked Ladies songs, and then left, getting lost on our way back to the hotel again. When we finally did get back to the hotel–putting a cherry on top of everything–there was no running hot water! A maintenance guy came to fix it, and when he finally left, we passed out from exhaustion and a bit of disappointment.

The next day we woke up and took our time before leaving the hotel, going to Trader Joe’s, and meeting a good friend for lunch. We felt better after sleep, and got home without any issues. As we rode home, we both talked about how much better things were going, and we remembered how on our wedding night five years ago we had initially gone to the wrong hotel and had troubles, too. Hopefully that’s not a sign of how every 5 years from now will be, but at least the entire time in between will be filled with an awesome marriage. It’s true that I was discouraged by the evening events on our anniversary, but at the end of the day I still felt glad that at the very least, we went through it together! And compared to a lot of other challenges we’ve faced, that was a piece of cake.

As I’ve written before, no matter what challenges we’ve faced, what kind of day we’ve had or kind of mood we’re in, every day I’m grateful to be married to my best friend. I never have to worry about sounding stupid or about messing up, and I never have to worry about needing someone to talk to because I always have him. He accepts me as I am, but always inspires me to do more, try harder and be better. When we got married, I thought I knew him, yet 5 years later, I feel like I know him like he’s almost an extension of myself! I can’t wait to experience how much closer we grow over the next 5, 15, 25, 55, years and more (even if that means occasionally getting lost and missing a show!).

Happy 5th anniversary (on July 12th), to my sweetheart Chad.

Projects · Seen/Heard/Tried

Some things I’ve been enjoying lately…

1. Couscous! Especially in this Salmon over Couscous recipe–it was fabulous!


2. Trader Joe’s Graham Crackers. These are soooo yummy. My mother-in-law suggested making S’mores out of them sometime, which is a very dangerously delicious idea…

20130713-215204.jpg(Please excuse the crappy photo–it’s hard to have patience for good picture-taking when a delicious graham cracker is in your mouth.)

3. …and an idea that reminds me of something else I’ve been enjoying lately: bonfires! Last weekend we made S’mores during our bonfire get-together, too (sans Trader Joe’s Grahams, though!).

20130713-215146.jpg(Making S’mores & having bonfires were both on my Summer Fun Bucket List!)

4. I have also been obsessed with “Just Give Me a Reason” by P!nk featuring Nate Ruess. I just love watching Ruess (though the video primarily consists of P!nk rolling around on a mattress or making out with some random guy). I also love duets and guys who can sing well, which led me into looking up Ruess (like a creeper). I love this quote from an interview he did:

“I’m not one to take lessons, so I decided that the only way I was going to learn how to sing, if what they were saying was true, was to go in my car and put on any sort of music from a vocalist that might be really hard to mimic, turn it on as loud as possible and try to hit all those notes.” (source)

I think Fun would be super awesome to see in concert, and “Just Give Me a Reason” was about the only song I wanted to hear on our way to Detroit to a Guster/Ben Folds Five/Bare Naked Ladies concert.

5. Which reminds me, have you ever heard the song, “Erase Me” by Ben Folds Five? That was really fun to see in concert. We went to see them for our 5 year wedding anniversary! More on that adventure later…

6. But one thing I do want to point out about our anniversary is that I made a scrapbook for Chad of the last five years we’ve been married and all of the adventures we’ve had together (like traveling to 10 different countries including the US and Japan!). I’ve really enjoyed getting back into the craft of scrapbooking, especially since I find it can be really close to art journaling, which I also love.

20130713-215221.jpg(Chad got me a delicious chocolate cookie from the bakery and I was eating part of it while making his scrapbook–who said all work and no cookies!?)

What are some things you’ve been enjoying lately?