Feb 18, 2019

The Year of the Grand Rapids Restaurants

About a year ago, Justin and I decided that we wanted to add some variety to our local dining experiences.  I had only lived in Grand Rapids for six months and we found ourselves only frequenting Justin's favorite restaurants from before we met.

To add more spice to our dining choices, we looked-up the top twelve (well, thirteen- we started in December of 2017) restaurants in Grand Rapids according to online reviews and decided to try one new restaurant each month.

We had so much fun trying new places together and date night felt a little extra special when planned so intentionally.  We enjoyed this experience so much that we've deemed 2019 the year of the Michigan breakfast!  We are going to try a new-to-us breakfast place once a month.  But before I get too far into 2019, I want to tell you about all of the amazing restaurants we tried last year.



Marie Catrib's: Unfortunately, the top Grand Rapids restaurant on the list, Marie Catrib's, is no longer open!  I'm so happy that I got to try it before they closed their doors, though.  We tried Marie Catrib's for breakfast even though they served delicious food all day.  The restaurant was known for great, locally-sourced food with a Lebanese twist.  Breakfast did not disappoint.



The Green Well: The Green Well is an awesome stop if you're looking for a favorite dish but made with a little twist (and made really well).  It's not too fancy but definitely not a dive.  A perfect restaurant to add to your rotation of favorite stops.



Leo's Restaurant: Leo's is definitely a special occasion ($$$) kind of a place.  Luckily, February was the month to try this seafood restaurant, so Justin and I spent Valentine's Day enjoying lobster and scallops at Leo's.  The food was good, but honestly, neither Justin nor I were terribly impressed given the expense.



San Chez: If you love tapas and a good cocktail, San Chez is the place for you!  I've now had several meals at San Chez and it has been delicious every.single.time.  I like it so much that I planned my office Christmas party there.  It was a hit!



HopCat: HopCat is already one of our favorite restaurants (our first date was at the HopCat location in East Lansing, Michigan).  They serve a fantastic variety of craft beers, many of them from Michigan, and if you haven't tried the Cosmik fries (previously known as crack fries), you MUST!



Founder's Brewing Co.: Founder's is probably the most famous brewery in Grand Rapids.  My favorite beer on tap is the Rubaeus on nitro.  To go with the beer, Founder's serves great, casual food like delicious sandwiches with pasta or potato salad as a side.



Brewery Vivant: Admittedly, Brewery Vivant was already a favorite restaurant of mine before this experiment.  Farmhand is one of my favorite beers and I love the unique menu served at the brewery.  The dining room also has a really cool vibe- almost like you're in an old church!



Grove: Grove was a restaurant I was really looking forward to trying but it fell a little flat for Justin and me.  Don't get me wrong, the food is delicious -- just served in really small portions for kind of a lot of money.  We enjoyed our food at Grove, then had to go to our favorite dive bar to fill-up on quesadillas.



Bistro Bella Vita: This might be our favorite find of the restaurant experiment!  Bistro Bella Vita serves a combination of French and Italian cuisine with delicious wine and cocktail choices.  We lucked-out and hit Bistro Bella Vita during restaurant week so we were able to sample appetizers, main courses and desserts.  We highly recommend this restaurant!



Butcher's Union: Butcher's Union was another great find this year!  The restaurant is known for their variety of whiskeys and quality meat.  The cocktails and steaks that we chose were so well-prepared and the ambiance made us feel like we were on an episode of Mad Men.

I forgot a picture of this one!

Terra: Known for their wood-fired pizzas and locally sourced foods, Terra is another great restaurant to add to your regular rotation.  Casual but with character, the food was delicious!



The Old Goat: Oh man, a bunch of homemade soups that you can sample before choosing?  I'm in!  The soup is delicious but so are their other options!  This will definitely become one of our regular restaurant choices.

Oops!  I was too busy enjoying wine and steak to take a picture of this one.

The Chop House:  Here's another special occasion stop in Grand Rapids.  We brought my parents along for dinner at Chop House as our Christmas celebration together.  The steak and wine were outstanding!  And the servers are so professional that they will make your dining experience one to remember.


Bookmark and Share

Feb 15, 2019

J'adore 2.15.19


Welcome to J'adore, my weekly space for sharing what makes me happy lately.

1.  Instagram Account: deservingdogs.  If you're an animal lover, this Instagram account will melt your heart.  Acount owner, Angela, is a self-described "dog healer"and rescues dogs who need a little extra love, like Freddie Mercury.  Oh my heart!  I could watch videos of that little cutie all day!

2.  Nickel and Suede Earrings.  Thanks to Shea, I'm officially addicted to these light-weight leather statement earrings!  I bought two more sets a couple of weeks ago.  I added an animal print and this pretty purple pair to my collection.  

3.  Let the Great World Spin.  I just finished Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann for the book club I joined in November.  It definitely doesn't fall into my typical genre (murder mystery, suspense), but I really enjoyed the book!  It's a series of short stories that are somehow all connected- but not in a cheesy way.  The stories take place in 1970s New York City and show a kind of dirty yet intensely human side of the city.
Bookmark and Share

Feb 12, 2019

Wedding Planning: Will You Be My Matron of Honor?

With our wedding only ten months away, Justin and I have officially entered the decision making part of wedding planning.  No more lazy evenings spent pinning bouquets to our wedding Pinterest board.  Now it's time to book the florist (and the DJ, and the pastry chef...).

While it's a bit surreal to begin making these decisions, we did make one very big decision immediately upon getting engaged: who will be standing by our sides when we say "I do."  We won't be having bridesmaids and groomsmen, rather I will have three matrons of honor and Justin will have three best men.

My three lovely ladies consist of my sister, my best friend whom I met in second grade and my other best friend from college days.  I was maid of honor in all three of their weddings and they are all so equally important to me, that I wanted each of them to have this special title.

Similarly, Justin's three best friends hold such a big place in his heart, he wanted each of them to be his best man.  Justin's sister will also be standing next to him on our big day as the "best sister."

Justin and I had a good time choosing gifts to help us ask our favorite people to be a part of our wedding.  I wanted something fun but also useful that won't just get thrown away when the wedding is over.  I found this beautiful gift box from the Etsy shop, Little Flower Soap Co.  I love that my ladies can be a bit indulgent with the bath salts and candle but then throw the empties away when they're used-up!




Justin chose to order custom beer labels and six-pack holders asking his groomsmen to "suit up" for our big day.  He then hand-chose craft beers (or pops for his sister) that he knew each of them would enjoy.



We are so very blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives and we are so excited to share our big day with them!
Bookmark and Share

Feb 8, 2019

J'adore 2.8.19


Welcome to J'adore, my weekly space for sharing what makes me happy lately.  This week I want to write about a few products from one of my favorite beauty brands, Bare Minerals.  I've been a BM fan since college (Cupcake is my all-time favorite eyeshadow), but I've recently found a few new products to add to my regular rotation.

1.  Gen Nude Eyeshadow Pallette - Rose.  While I love my above-mentioned eyeshadow, sometimes loose powder make-up isn't convenient or worth the hassle.  For that reason, I purchased this pallet for everyday use.  I love the pinky neutral hues (that tends to be my M.O. when it comes to eye make-up).  And the colors have plenty of pigment but are still super easy to blend.  It's the perfect easy-to-use pallet for those workday mornings.  The pallet comes in neutral and copper as well.

2.  Lasting Line Long-Wearing Eyeliner.  I've struggled to find an eyeliner  that I like well enough to repurchase.  I've found liners that create too bold a line or don't have enough color.  I've used plenty of pencils that bleed a nice grey line onto my eyelid over the course of the day.  But the search is over!  I just bought a second version of this eyeliner.  It has staying power and is just the right amount of color.

3.  Butter Drench Restorative Rich Cream.  Calling all dry-skinned beauties!  I've found the thickest, most luxurious moisturizer.  If your skin is at all combination to oily I do not recommend this lotion because it's so so rich.  But if you're like me and have extremely dry skin in the winter, this stuff is the best!
Bookmark and Share

Feb 6, 2019

Currently: February 2019


anticipating: wedding registry shopping!  In a couple of week's Justin and I will hit our local Macy's to start creating our wedding registry.  You better believe I've been enjoying some online window shopping in preparation.  For those married ladies and gentlemen out there, what is your favorite gift you received from your registry?  We'll have to add it to ours.

going: on a two-year anniversary getaway with Justin!  Since this is the last "dating anniversary" that we will celebrate before we get married, we're planning a weekend trip to East Lansing (the town where I was living when we met and where we went on our first date).  We will be staying warm and cozy at this adorable bed and breakfast.  Our only planned outings are for meals at some of our favorite restaurants in mid-Michigan.

making: lots of comfort foods.  With winter in full-swing around here, all I want to do is read a book under my heated blanket and cook warm, satisfying meals.  I love all of the variations of bubble-up biscuit casseroles from the blog Emily Bites.  Her Bubble Up Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Bake did not disappoint!  Justin gave it two thumbs up as well.

watching: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the fun and slightly creepier remake of one of my childhood favorites, Sabrina the Teenage Witch (Melissa Joan Hart 4ever).  It's always a bit nerve-wracking when one of your favorite shows comes back (please don't ruin it!) but the new version is just different enough that I feel I can enjoy both the new and the old shows.  Check-out Chilling Adventures on Netflix!

wearing: some new workout wear!  I've now committed to a half-marathon training program and I've rewarded myself with a couple new exercise pieces from the Gap.  I'm particularly pumped about this tank and legging combination.


Bookmark and Share

Feb 5, 2019

Who I Am with Brand Squawk


Are you a fan of graphic tees?  I definitely am!  I think they are a fun (and sometimes cheeky) way to share who you are with the world.  When Collette, the mastermind behind Brand Squawk, gave The Blended Bloggers an opportunity to showcase a graphic tee, I was super excited to pick a new one.


But which one to choose?!  So many of Collette's long-sleeve tees, short-sleeve shirts and sweatshirts called to me.  But first wine could be my evening mantra.  But then, adventure awaits expresses my wanderlust.  And I totally love the message on this sweatshirt!


Ultimately I chose this baseball tee.  Running has been a bit part of my life lately!  This will be the year that I train for and run my first half marathon.  And the more I do it, the more I find that it really does ease my anxiety and put me in a better mood.  Running truly is cheaper than therapy!

So tell me, which graphic tee from Brand Squawk would you choose?  If you find the perfect tee for you, use my code whitney20 for 20% off your order!

What I'm Wearing:
Tee: Brand Squawk (exact)
Jeans: American Eagle (exact)
Boots: Sorel (exact)
Bookmark and Share

Feb 1, 2019

J'adore 2.1.19 Polar Vortex Edition


Welcome to J'adore, my weekly space for sharing what makes me happy lately.  If you live anywhere near the Midwest or have turned-on the news lately, you may know that a large part of the country is experiencing a polar vortex.  Temperatures below zero plus lots and lots of snow have dominated the week around these parts.  In true Michgander fashion, I'm loving the snow and the excuse to cuddle-up under a blanket with a good book.  I've even gotten a few snow days off from work (who knew this could happen to non-teachers?!).  For today's J'adore post, I want to share with you three favorites in my polar vortex survival kit.

1.  SOREL Explorer Joan Boots: After coming to terms with the fact that cute winter footwear is worth a splurge when you live in the state of Michigan, I purchased these boots.  And let me tell you, they are worth every penny!  They are cute enough to wear out-and-about but are still totally warm and practical.  I love them so much that I've decided to save my money to purchase a dressier pair of SOREL boots next winer.

2.  Sweet Bee Knits Hat: So my mom's cousin's daughter (I'm not sure what that makes her in relation to me, but she feels like a cousin) started her own Etsy shop full of adorable, handmade hats, headbands and scarves.  I ordered custom, Michigan State colored hats for my sister and me this fall and the hats are perfect!  So warm and well-made!  If you are looking for a unique winter piece, check-out her shop.

3.  The Ted Bundy Tapes: If you're a true crime fan, you must check-out the new documentary about Ted Bundy on Netflix.  I knew the general story about Ted Bundy's serial killings but there are so many creepy details I'm learning about for the first. time.  Definitely worth a binge watch during a blizzard!
Bookmark and Share