Summer Adventures / by Madeleine Riley

Hi friends!

So many of you have reached out to me, asking to hear more about my summer break and the details of our recent trip. Today, I'm sharing a few of my summer highlights so far!


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To start the summer off with a bang, we got engaged! It has been the most wonderful season of celebrating with family and friends.

My fiancé, Brenden, is pretty private when it comes to social media sharing, so I'm going to give you just a few of the basics from our love story.

We've been dating since our senior year of high school, about 7+ years at this point. I like to joke that no one could have predicted a happy ending for us. We had the worst first date ever. We went to watch a hockey game at a local outdoor rink, I slipped on ice and fell on my face, spilling my latte all over myself. Then someone double parked and blocked his car so that we had to walk home in the snow. Romantic, right?

Everyone told us not to attempt the long-distance thing when we went off to college, but we decided last minute to give it a shot. We went to separate colleges for the first two years, then spent junior and senior year at the same school. We did long-distance again while I went to graduate school for a year, and finally moved in together a year ago. We thought it would be an adjustment, but it has been so much fun. He is the best roommate, friend, personal chef, and my biggest source of encouragement in pursuing all that I do. Suffice to say, I am extraordinarily lucky. He proposed at home as we were heading out for a date night and it was perfect. (Not to mention, he designed the loveliest ring I've ever seen. Shout out to all of you who continue to DM me about it. I'm glad you think it's pretty too!)

There were so many messages of congratulations that we couldn't respond to them all, but I want to say thank you to everyone! This little corner of the internet is a true community, and I am so grateful to share these fun life events with you all!

Many, many of you requested in my recent reader survey to hear more about our wedding planning process. I'm not sure where I stand on that yet, and we're not in a rush. So, details to come -- maybe?


A few weeks after getting engaged, we flew out to California/Nevada, where my extended family is based. We had planned the trip anyways, but it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate the engagement, too.

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Our first stop was to see my grandparents in northern California. They live in a beautiful rural area, surrounded by vineyards and farmland. Whenever we're there, I can't help but think that Anne Shirley would approve.

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We then drove down to the south shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada, where my Aunt and Uncle live. There, we had a mini family reunion. It was so fun to catch up with family (the last time Brenden and I had seen them was in 2015) and to spend time at the lake. 

All around, the views were breathtaking. After a couple nights there, we headed to the California side of the lake for a night in Tahoe City, CA -- my original hometown.

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As a surprise, my mom booked us a night in this collection of adorable themed cottages. She rallied her BFFs (whom I refer to as my mom tribe) and they all came for a celebratory dinner and night in the cottages. Each cottage has it's own name and theme, and ours was the Enchanted Cottage. It was magical.

A few of you asked for the details of this place -- I'd highly recommend The Cottage Inn if you're going to be in the area. They have a breakfast spread each morning, a cocktail hour, and access to a beach right across the street. They're also located right next to our family's favorite restaurant -- Sunnyside, where we went for our special dinner and where my own parents were married. You can rent bikes right across the street as well, and there's a fabulous breakfast spot -- The Firesign Café -- that we loved as well. It's a quiet spot, so I'd recommend it for introverts like me. Plus, they have a hammock for afternoon reading time.

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Fun random fact: my mother is the queen of details. She brought along these sunflower stickers to commemorate a beloved girlfriend who passed away and themed cocktail napkins. We were overwhelmed with the outpouring of love from my mom and her girlfriends, and so grateful that we got to spend time with them.

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As our last stop, we popped into Word After Word Books, which was recommended to me by a TST reader! I'm so glad we went in, it was a lovely shop and every bookseller was so friendly and enthusiastic. I picked out a t-shirt, tote bag, and a non-fiction book to take home. It was the perfect ending to a great trip!


Overall, it's been a busy but wonderful summer! This weekend, Brenden is riding the Pan Mass Challenge, so I'll be cheering him on and soaking up some much-needed quiet time at home.

Tell me a highlight from your summer so far!