Some things don’t get better with time.

This past weekend my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary, and therefore, a poem… about love… and stupid traditions.

Your wedding is a beautiful day,

The best of your life, some might say.

There’s love, family, friends and cake,

And lots of crazy traditions at stake.

So when you’re whisked off to your honeymoon bliss,

There’s still a few details you probably shouldn’t miss.

For instance, an arrangement you might want to make,

Is who will preserve your wedding cake.

Because year-old cake doesn’t sound bad at all,

And the space it will take in your freezer is small.

Except that’s a lie, said every married person,

That delicious cake with time just worsens.

And speaking of worsening, your patience will too,

Because you need the space to store frozen food.

You’ll consider breaking the tradition early,

But if you’ve made it this far, you can make it a year, surly.

When the time finally comes, you’ll take out your cake,

And let it thaw for your tastebud’s sake.

It’s the sweetest of moments when you again feed each other,

But this time pulled faces and gags you’ll smother.

Sure, “day old” muffins and bagels are ok,

But year-old wedding cake should make you delay.

Regardless, it’s tradition, and you should partake,

Because you only get one wedding cake!

*I should note that our wedding cake was beyond amazing the day of our wedding. We had a small, chai-flavored cake (pictured below) for us and our bridal party, and cupcakes for our guests. We served our cake with my great-grandmother’s beautiful cake server, and cut it with none other than a butter knife from my college apartment, wrapped in ribbon… fancy.

** I should also note that if you do a little research on the tradition of saving a portion of your wedding cake, you’ll feel like it’s a tradition you probably could have just skipped. In the 19th century, couples began saving a portion of their cake for christening ceremonies when their first child was born. Now, since couples generally wait a bit longer to begin having children, they save it as a “pleasant” reminder of their special day. I like pictures too… probably better than year-old cake. And now that I think of it, a picture of our cake would have taken up much less space in the freezer…

The day of our wedding:

Wedding Day Cake

A year later:


Some things change more than others…

Camping is (kind of) bliss.

Part 2 of the Weekend Recap

My husband and I aren’t exactly the camping kind, but we are the Dutch kind, and camping is cheap, so in a round-about way, I guess we’re kind of the camping kind.

This past weekend we packed up our car and headed north, just the two of us, to try our hand at camping for the first time. What we learned was this: We don’t like camping. We don’t like sleeping on an air mattress in a tent. We don’t like walking 700 feet to use the rest room. We don’t like showering in a dirty shower, used by hundreds of people we don’t know. We don’t like packing all of the food we’ll need for a long weekend into one cooler or cooking every meal over a fire (and crossing our fingers that it will work each time)… And to be honest, we can’t figure out why people DO like camping.IMG_20150821_084213573

But (and I can only speak for myself on this one), I do like getting away. I do like reading my book on the coast of Lake Huron, or by a campfire or, shoot, even on an air mattress in a tent. I do like eating junk food, because… hey, we’re on vacation. I do like catching gorgeous sunsets that make me think Michigan might actually be pretty pure like they say it is. I do like staying up late and laying under thousands of stars because I don’t have anywhere to be in the morning. And I definitely like seeing lighthouses.

Mackinaw City Camping

Will we camp again? Probably, but mostly because we have the stuff to do it and we might as well use it… Oh, and because Michigan is a beaut.

Lighthouse Mania

Part 1 of the Weekend Recap

Sure, I’ve professed my love for lighthouses many times, but this past weekend my husband and I took our first lighthouse cruise. Earlier this summer, my mom and I took the ferry to see the lighthouses on Beaver Island, which is pretty close to a lighthouse cruise, except, once on the island, we actually rode our bikes to the lights, so now I’ve traveled by foot, car, bike and boat… just to see lighthouses.

The lighthouse fanatic that I am, I bought our tickets for this past weekend’s cruise like three months ago when we first decided to go camping in Mackinac City on this weekend, meaning we held boarding numbers one and two and got to board the boat first. We chose seats on the open deck up top, near the back so we could get the best pictures, without too many people in them. People chose seats on the open deck up top too, but near the front so they could get the best pictures without getting half of Lake Michigan splashed onto them. I literally sat in the only seat that consistently got drenched and, on top of that, we were too far away from the speaker to hear the guide. Lesson learned.

Before boarding, I warned my husband that we might be the only people on the boat under 60 years old. As I gave my warning, it was the first time I realized that hunting lighthouses is kind of something you do in your 60s… or even 70s, and probably not your 20s. That’s why lighthouse paraphernalia always looks like this:


Cute sweater… if you’re into knitting and going to bed at 8pm, yet for some reason I regret not buying one. I mean, $9.99?! I regret not buying six.

Regardless, on we road (er… floated), from one light to the next, crossing off numbers 55-58 on my list of 133 lighthouses to see in Michigan. I might have been in a state of bliss if I wasn’t more concerned about the sunscreen in my eyes, the mascara running down my face and my wet, white top. Next time I’ll bring a poncho… and wear black.

Despite the amount of lake water I took on and not being able to hear our guide, I count the cruise a success… mostly because I count hunting lighthouses a success whenever you actually make it to the lighthouse. You don’t have to look good to see lighthouses. In fact, most of my lighthouse excursions have ended with a sweaty, wet, un-showered Mandi buddying up to a tower that 99.99% of Michiganders don’t care about.

I have got to change my system.


To be continued… kind of… in a way that doesn’t really make sense…

*We stopped at Houghton Lake on our way home from Mackinaw to see the lighthouse in their marina (the solid red one above) – the last of the three inland lighthouses I needed to see in Michigan and my 59th lighthouse over all.

Whether the weather be good.

Whether the weather be good,

Or whether the weather be bad.

We weather the weather whatever the weather

No matter the weather we have.*

This past weekend my husband’s family and we weathered the weather of Glen Arbor, MI.

They say winds of 100 miles/hour came through, but we mostly stood by the sliding door on the second floor and gawked at the storm, taking pictures and videos instead of shelter like most normal people would do.

The damage of the storm was vast. There were trees wrapped in power lines wrapped in trees… everywhere. There was no power… anywhere. You couldn’t drive into or out of town. In a manner of about 30 seconds an entire town was vandalized by nature.

While we, ourselves, didn’t lose much, we learned lots:

  1. 100 miles/hour is fast. Take your video. Run inside. Take shelter.
  2. Cell phones are everything in a storm. They’re your camera, your flashlight, your communication with the outside world, your map, your entertainment, your clock… it’s a shame you can’t cook a meal on them really.
  3. No power makes you think creatively. I.e. Where will I take my next shower? Where can I charge my cell phone? What food should I eat up first?
  4. You can swim pretty far, but you can probably ride a boat farther, so it was probably best off that you decided to wait to go to South Manitou until you can take a boat.**
  5. We’re lucky to have vacations, boats, family and life. (And I’ll raise my glass to that.)

Happy summer!

*Disclaimer: This is stolen right from church camp – arguably from the most clever camp pastor to ever walk the earth. I might be biased.

**Disclaimer: No attempts to swim to the island were made… missed opportunity? Possibly. 

Glen Arbor Storm

The storm came in…


Standing by the slider, because… why not?

Glen Arbor Storm

… And the storm went out.

North Manitou Shoal

Sometimes pixely pictures of a tiny-white-dot-of-a-lighthouse have to count. #54 – North Manitou Shoal. Only 74 more lighthouses to go!

The one where Mandi mostly talks about Friends.

A little piece of me died last Tuesday. I know, it sounds dramatic, but it’s repeatedly true every time I watch the final episode of Friends.

Friends began in September 22, 1994. I was 4. My favorite show was probably Barney (or, oddly enough, Regis and Kathy Lee), but by May 6, 2004, 236 episodes later, when the final episode of Friends aired for the first time, Friends was my all-time favorite show.

I was 14 when the show ended and arguably still too young to have a favorite show as such, but I cried when it ended, because that, my friends, was the end of a good thing.

Friends CastThanks to re-runs, the cast lives on, and thanks to Netflix, I was able to watch the show in its entirety when I, too, was in my mid-20s. That being said, it’s July, and my Year of Friends‘ biggest goal is complete. I’ve watched the show, start to finish, all 10 seasons – like 86 hours or something (and got my husband to watch it with me too!). I like to think it was time well spent.

I also like to think I’m pretty much Monica Geller most of the time, Rachel Green is basically my best friend and I just married Chandler Bing (wait, what?).

Friends Finale

Of course I know the six characters are not real, but if they were, they’d be the best of friends because they were the best of Friends. I like to imagine where the characters would be now, well into their 40s, but all that remains of them is Rachel’s drama, Ross’ nerdiness, Chandler’s witty jokes, Monica’s OCD, Phoebe’s weirdness and Joey’s stupidity from their 20s/30s, to which I hold tightly because I’m convinced it was the greatest sitcom ever (and also because I’m a little convinced that they actually were my friends too).

So I go on with life, making Friends references like 13 times a week and getting emotional every time I realize it’s over.

If you’re not a friend of Friends, and you read this post, maybe right now you could relate to Joey when he says, “It’s a moo point. It’s like a cow’s opinion; it doesn’t matter. It’s moo,” and I’m sorry if I wasted your time, but this SHOULD be the last time I’m referring to the show on my blog, because, well… it’s over.

Now I’ll just be over here crying in the corner.

Friends Door

Beach, please!

My passion for lighthouses is big. My tolerance for beaches is small. But any day spent close to a lighthouse is a good day in my book. While I hate the whole “beach process”, I know that beach days are blessings in disguise, and I’m grateful to live so close to so many great beaches, and… do I dare say it? I may, or may not, be becoming more and more of a “beach person”, so while what you’re about to read will make you think otherwise, I do enjoy beach days… I just can also acknowledge the truth about them too.

A poem about beach days:

A fan of the beach, I’ve never quite been,

Though, lo and behold, I’m from Michigan,

Where beaches we are not without,

We’ve got, like, hundreds scattered about.


From the time I was little to the time I was big,

Going to the beach has been quite the gig.

You don your suit and your cover up too,

But you pack three more outfits in case those won’t do.


You pack your bag, and you pack six more,

You load up your car, and you stop at the store.

You wait in the line at the beach entry gate,

You curse at the busied parking lot state.


You drive to the front, car full as can be,

But you park in the back, the only parking space you see.

You unpack your car, and you wish you’d packed less,

But you trudge through the sand, making slow progress.


You set down your stuff, and you set up your camp,

and immediately everything’s sandy and damp.

You brush off your feet, and on our towel you sit,

You take out your book and you read for a bit.


You bathe in your sunscreen, oily and white,

Then your neighbor kicks up sand, and them you spite.

The sand becomes stuck to your sunscreened skin,

So you head to the lake for a wash/swim.


You fight through the crowd, step over the sand castles,

And scare away the seagulls that are kind of a hassle.

You tiptoe into the icy cold water,

You wade in deeper, wishing it were hotter.


On your toes, with each step, you try to go deeper,

But the waves, for some reason, look steeper and steeper.

“It’s warm, it’s warm, it’s warm, nope, it’s cold.

“Who are we kidding? Forget this, I fold.”


So you head back up, but you’re no better off,

Of the sand and water combination you scoff.

You pull out your lunch and you eat ’til content,

And it seems as if down your throat half the beach went.


You walk out on the pier, dodging dead fish,

That you brought your sandals, you quickly wish.

Heading back in a hurry, you find your stuff,

You sit down for a while, this beach stuff is rough.


The sun slowly fading, you call it a day.

You pack up your stuff, and start making your way.

You climb up the beach and stroll through the parking lot,

You load up your car and you’re disgustingly hot.


You drive back home and begin to unpack

Your bags and all of the sand you brought back.

You clean up yourself and to bed you go,

So that you’ll wake the next day with a sunburned glow.

Big Red

Don’t mind seeing this beauty every once in a while.


Don’t mind seeing this beauty every once in a while either.

Holland Beach

Soooo busy.

Because I can’t get enough.

I continuously consider ending this blog, but… here’s another post, so I guess it’s not over this time…

My mom and I went to Beaver Island this past weekend for a bit of a mother-daughter bonding day trip. My obsession with lighthouses and my ambition to do big things in small amounts of time created the itinerary for this  particular trip, and at 5:00 am, my mom and I set out from my parent’s cabin in Evart and headed up to Charlevoix where we hopped on the ferry with our bikes and rode for two hours, slowly approaching the island 32 miles from Charlevoix that looked more and more impossible to bike completely around by the time we had to get back on the very ferry we’d yet to get off.

We pulled into the harbor, snapping all kinds of pictures of the Harbor Light on Whiskey Point (lighthouse #52 for me) and already declaring that I could live on that island easily before getting off the boat, snatching our bikes and heading out the very opposite end of the island to see lighthouse #53, Beaver Island Head Light.

Harbor Light at Whiskey Point

Harbor Light at Whiskey Point

On the ride out, we quickly realized a few key things in our trip:

  1. Roads may or may not be paved.
  2. Roads may or may not be adequately labeled.
  3. Even Beaver Island has bugs.
  4. Beaver Island would be better off named Snake Island – so little beavers, so many snakes.

We planned to stop at Paradise Bay Coffee (because, well, why wouldn’t we?), and luckily so, because catching a glimpse of the sign for the coffee shop in the weeds that we initially rode right past kept us on our path. We were less than a quarter of the way through our 32 mile bike ride, but we stopped for coffee and strawberry shortcake at the cutest coffee shop I think I’ve ever seen. Have I mentioned that I could live on this island? I sat at this coffee shop and declared it the place I’d come to read and write in my spare time once I become a Beaver Islander.

Paradise Bay Coffee

Paradise Bay Coffee

When we finished our coffee, we jumped back on our bikes and headed back into the woods, stopping every now and then to take in the beauty around us and having conversations that I swear you only have when you’re in the middle of the woods. When we reached the tip of the island, we also reached a significant amount of sand, which we had to walk our bikes through. We stopped for a few pictures, and then trekked up the first of many hills to come.

At the southern tip of the island.

At the southern tip of the island.

At the top of the first hill was, alas, the Beaver Island Head Light. We signed in, climbed the tower and read about the lighthouse and then, again, jumped back on our bikes to ride the coast back into town.

Beaver Island Head light

Beaver Island Head Light

Beaver Island Lighthouse Tower

Climbing the tower

The View

The view from the top of the tower

All along the coast we passed lot for sale after lot for sale. If I can’t buy a lighthouse before the day I die, the lot right next to a lighthouse will be my next choice… and if someone else lives in the lighthouse, they’ll just have to get used to me sitting on my porch, staring at their house. I. Can’t. Get. Enough.

The ride back was a bit more harsh than the ride to the tip of the island. We weren’t in the woods on shaded roads with a lighthouse at the end of the route… we were in the sun, on dry gravel, mostly trying to get back in time to have dinner and visit the museum before having to get back on the ferry.

We made it in time to do everything we’d planned, but if you asked us which we’d eliminate if we could – the bugs, hills, loose gravel or the sun – it’d be a tricky question to answer, but the four of them together were less than pleasant. (For some reason, a lot of my lighthouse excursions involve dirt roads, bugs and the sun.)

We boarded the boat, rode two hours back as we continued to read more about the history of Beaver Island (which is actually really interesting, I’d suggest checking it out), hopped on our bikes one last time to ride back to our car and made the three hour drive home, stopping only to, well… to reattach my bike to the bike rack that I no longer trust.

If I could rate Beaver Island, I’d give it like 16 stars out of 5. If I could do this trip differently, I’d spend like 16 days there instead of 1.

But who knows… maybe one day I’ll be living in that lighthouse…

Or staring at it from the porch next door.

Because today tastes good.

Today is the most delicious day of the year. I like Thanksgiving, but man-o-man, I LOVE National Donut Day. Those who know me close enough to know my eating habits don’t always understand my choice of cuisine, because I’m equally obsessed with eating healthy and eating donuts.

Everyone’s always like, “Oh, there’s Mandi… gnawing on a carrot. What a healthy eater she is.”

And I’m usually thinking, “Crunch, crunch, crunch… I hate carrots… crunch, crunch, I wish I could just eat donuts every day.”

While right now I could probably get away with eating donuts every day, I know that, in the long run, picking up that habit at 25 probably isn’t in my best interest.

Regardless, National Donut Day is basically a holiday in my household (mostly just for me). I considered asking for the day off work, but decided one could only consume so many donuts in a day, and planning on a full-day feast might be one of my less-great ideas. Every year I also consider eating donuts for all three meals on this day, but something inside of me (my stomach mostly) tells me that’s not a good idea either.

So this year, I planned ahead. I bought a dozen of donuts on Monday, and between my husband and me, we treated ourselves each day, making National Donut Day more like Household Donut Week. I think I like the week thing better, but I mean, I’m a sucker for the free donuts on National Donut Day, so I might as well up the celebration today and make it the highlight of my week.

Meanwhile… I’m just over here eating donuts in my donut pants…


Because something’s fishy.

April 22nd was Earth Day. My husband and I celebrated by buying a fish on April 28. (Ok, so he didn’t realize he was celebrating with me, but I could definitely sense a general merriment and buying a fish felt pretty special.)

I realize things don’t exactly add up: People don’t ring in the New Year on January 6. They don’t celebrate our independence on July 10. But when the Amazon deal of the day is an aquaponics farm Earth Day special on Earth Day… buying a fish before the tank is delivered seems a little foolish. I don’t think we would have made it 6 days with a betta swimming around in our plugged kitchen sink (ok, maybe we could have used a bowl or vase if we really wanted to commit, but you get the point).

It also doesn’t quite make sense for someone like me to want something like a fish. I don’t like fish. In my numerous snorkeling attempts, I’ve cried multiple times. (Yet I still go back to do it again, because, what… I forget that I don’t like fish? I don’t get it either. When in Rome, I guess. Well, I mean, when in Mexico usually since 100% of my snorkeling experiences have been in Mexico.)

I don’t like fish so much, that when we bought our new little addition, I made sure my hands were full and, whoops, looks like my husband has to carry the the tiny container of nastiness. I couldn’t carry the container out of the pet store or put the fish in the tank at home, but while we were checking out at the pet store and the little girl behind us asked her mom why we were buying a fish, I had no problem muttering to the cashier that we were going to fry him up and eat him. (Though I don’t eat fish either.)

But this fish is different. The great thing about an aquaponics farm is that I will literally never have to touch my fish or even ever remove him from the tank (which, as I’m writing this, I realize isn’t a great deal for the fish, but it beats the tiny container at the pet store, right? And I mean, come on, he has his own lighthouse, and for that, I’m a tad bit jealous of him).


So there he is, William, in all his glory. He won’t be quite as spoiled as my dog but I think he’s a definite upgrade from the spider I used to let live in the corner of my bathroom.

Happy Earth Day!

Because running seems like too much work.

Oh, it’s time to throw a little poem at the wall again, but this needs a little preface:

I think I’m like 95% of the world where we love the idea of being a runner, but we don’t love the idea of putting in the work.

When I was in college, I set a New Year’s Resolution (as we know, I’m all about those) to run 500 miles in the year of 2011.* It then seemed logical to also cross the Riverbank Run (a 25k) off my bucket list that year. In college, it’s easy to be a runner, because you live in a community with free access to a track, treadmills, sidewalks, free time and motivational casual (and also very, very serious) runners right outside your window. You’re also not working 8 hours every day, spending time with your husband and doing things that homeowners do, hence, this poem that sums up the tug o’ war inside of me that wants to (not?) be a runner in light of a new phase of life:


I want to be a runner.

I think that would be smart.

I want to be a runner,

But becoming one is hard.

I used to be a runner,

But an issue came up quick.

I used to be a runner,

Then I went and broke my hip.**

I want to be a runner,

Because I have been one before.

I want to be a runner,

But I want to read books more.

I used to be a runner,

Running miles every day.

I used to be a runner, and

to run races, I would pay.

I want to be a runner,

And I don’t want to be a grouch, but

I want to be a runner,

If I can be one from my couch.

Riverbank Run 2

Running that River Bank (2011)

Riverbank Run

Finished in 2 hours and 35 minutes despite an apparently fractured hip. Oops.

*Yes, I completed 500 miles in 2011… but, if I’m being honest, after my minor setback of a broken hip (which set me back almost three months), I felt kind of like I was crawling with jell-o legs to the end of a marathon on December 31 when I ran/walked my final 5 miles on my parents’ treadmill because I was too close to not finish at that point.

**Yes, I felt 81, not 21, when I had to tell everyone I was on crutches because I broke my hip, but then, again if I’m being honest, I felt pretty rad explaining that I broke my hip in May, proceeded to run, ride my bike, play tennis, walk to work, give campus tours, bounce on trampolines and so on through June on said broken hip before finally going to the doctor because I was “still sore”. If you’re consistently THAT sore, you should just go to the doctor… and you shouldn’t walk there (or go for a walk since you got there early)… Lesson learned.