A Milliver’s Travels Historic Moment: First-Ever Staff Meetup!

Story by Milli Thornton. Photos Copyright © Ann McElfresh. Feature photo by Milli.

STAFF WRITERS who blog for Milliver’s Travels live in Canada, Romania, the UK, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida and California. Needless to say, we are a virtual community. We know one another from Twitter and Facebook, from off-site blogs, email and comments here on the blog.

So it was an exciting moment when two of us finally got to meet in person: site owner Milli Thornton (that’s me) and staff writer Ann McElfresh.

Ann lives in Florida and I live in Ohio but, fortuitously, Ann’s husband Tom (aka Honey Bunny) was born and raised in a small community south of Pittsburgh. Brian and I live only an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh. So a visit by Tom to his old stomping grounds enabled us to make plans for a meetup.

There was some discussion about desired types of food before everyone agreed on Brian’s suggestion of brunch at Bistro 19 in Mt. Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh.

Bistro 19 in Mt Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Bistro 19 in Mt Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Besides being one of my staff writers, Annie is a friend, so we’d had extensive contact by email as well as a few long phone calls. Meeting her in person felt completely natural and we immediately began talking up a storm.

Fortunately for me, Annie took all the photos for this post. Unlike the usual travel story where I’m multi-tasking—taking notes and photos while simultaneously trying to wring every ounce of pleasure from the adventure—for once I could relax and let someone else do the work. Annie has a much better camera than I do, and she’s a photo-taking maniac, so this was a swell deal.

Milli Thornton and Ann McElresh

Milliver meets staff member Annie in real-time

Correction. Honey Bunny did take some of the shots. He took several very good ones of the two of us (see above) and it was difficult choosing which one to publish here. (I left out the scandalous ones, lol.)

A member of the Bistro 19 staff agreed to take some photos of the four of us. Brian was compliant, and Honey Bunny was generally well-behaved (nothing scandalous there) . . . but I did bypass the photo where he was making peace signs above our heads in favor of this more official-looking group photo.

Clockwise from top left: Brian, Tom (aka Honey Bunny), Ann, Milli

Speaking of Honey Bunny: he was a hoot to tease! I felt I knew him pretty well already from reading about him on Ann’s former cooking blog, and he was just as much fun in person as he was to read about.

All four of us approved of the food at Bistro 19. I went for the Bananas Foster Pancakes—I adore Bananas Foster but don’t get the chance to order it very often—with a side of eggs for protein so I wouldn’t croak from plummeting blood sugar after mainlining all that sugar and starch. Mine was delish!

Bananas Foster at Bistro 19, Mt Lebanon

Bananas Foster Pancakes

Everybody else ordered Eggs Benedict with various sides (Ann asked a lot of questions first so she could avoid anything that would trigger her food allergies) and, judging from the empty plates, that was a superb choice as well.

Eggs Benedict at Bistro 19, Mt Lebanon

Eggs Benny over croissant with a side of potatoes

The four of us yakked up a storm and had a blast. It was over all too soon: Ann and Tom had another social event to go to.

But first we took a stroll outside. Brian and Tom (who got along famously) continued their conversation while Annie and I did another photo shoot. I needed some new photos for online profiles and Annie was glad to oblige. You can see one of the shots she took at my new profile.

You may be shocked to hear it, but Brian and Tom did not talk about the amazing features and benefits of Milliver’s Travels, or even the fabulous photography or writing talents of their wives who blog here. Evidence suggests they talked exclusively about guy stuff . . . but I guess we’ll forgive them.

This time, anyway.

Meeting Annie was SO much fun, I can hardly wait to hang out with her again! And it makes me look forward even more to meeting other MT staff whenever I can.

Which I realize would require some travel, but sometimes you’ve got to make sacrifices for your friends.


Ann McElfresh

Ann McElfresh has had the opportunity to travel and live overseas during the course of her husband’s career in the military and they didn’t stop after he retired! An enthusiastic home cook, she has an extensive “bucket list” of places to see, foods to eat and dishes to cook. A recent physical required that she focus her attention on cooking healthy foods and living a healthier lifestyle. At this time, she has lost 20 pounds and when asked how she lost the weight, she tells people, “By cooking like mad! Who knew losing weight could be so much fun?”

Milli at Devi, Montreal

Milli at Devi, Montreal

Milli Thornton (aka Milliver) is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course and Unleash Your Writing!, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and the Fear of Writing Blog and coaches writers individually at Writer’s Muse.



  1. Oh, Milli! What a fun day that was! Honey Bunny and I were just talking about it the other day. Thank you SO much for meeting us and I hope this is the first of MANY “Milli Meet Ups”! Hugs always ~ Ann

    • Annie, I’m thrilled you were the first to read and comment! What with my New Mexico trip right after our meetup, and then being sick after we got home, there was quite a delay before I could do this post. But that meant it was even more wonderful going through all the photos you took and reliving the memories. (But dang it was hard choosing which great photos to use!)

      I hope Honey Bunny got to see his picture on Milliver’s and read my little teases. 😀

  2. Ann, Milli, it was SO much fun to read the article and get a peek of your meetup! It makes me so happy you (all) had so much fun. And the photos are gorgeous, of course. (I absolutely love the feature photo!)

    Now about future staff meetups: we really should have one where everyone on staff manages to go (we should continue that talk we started on FB a while back, right?) 😉

    • Estrella, I’m glad you brought that up. I was thinking about that very Facebook conversation as I finished up this post.

      Annie says Ireland in May/June 2013 (which is based on Betsy having an Ireland trip already booked for then) won’t work for her because of travel already scheduled. So we’ll have to keep thinking and discussing. It might be quite a challenge to pick a time and place where every single person from our current staff line-up can attend. But it’s a challenge that should be fun and rewarding over time.

      • Meanwhile I looked at your profile and it looks wonderful! The photo is so well-framed, the overall profile has a great use of space.

        Can we try and move it up for somewhere in August/September then? Oh, we could do August 20 in Budapest or Debrecen, Hungary for example (big fireworks as they celebrate the foundation of the Hungarian state and St Stephen’s Day.) I will have some travel articles on that, by the way.
        Yes, well worth discussing and the challenge if in the end we get to meet everyone! We can do the discussion on the staff blog, right?

        • Thanks for your comments on my new profile. Glad you like it! I didn’t have a photo suitable for the way the image takes up the entire screen, so it was Annie to the rescue!

          A discussion on the staff blog would be perfect. I haven’t published the staff newsletter in a while, but I need to get one out again sometime in the near future. With the staff summit meeting as one of the hot topics. (And there you can pitch your idea of Budapest or Debrecen for the fireworks.)

          • That will be perfect!
            And we should probably get a date set first and then discuss where to actually visit.

            So exciting!

            • Hey y’all….if meeting during Betsy’s trip works for you – don’t let me stop you….go, go!

              • Don’t worry, it’s still all open at this point. We’re not letting you stop us. 🙂 We just want to first see if we can find a date and location that would suit everybody. . . .

  3. I LOVE it!
    The only thing I don’t like about this article is….I wasn’t there too! ;o)

    You all look like you had a great visit. Ann the pictures are great as always! I looked at your new profile Milli and it looks very professional!

    I still say we should all meet in Ireland May 2013…It has nothing to do with the fact I’m gonna be there then. :-}
    It would be so nice to meet you, and all the MT staff…Its true we are a little community..

    A fun article! Thanks.

    • Betsy, thanks for looking at my new profile. Annie helped me make one I can be proud of. 🙂

      LOL on the jealousy you weren’t there. Lisa mentioned the same emotion on Twitter. We will just have to try super hard to all get together for that “staff summit meeting” as Jo called it.

      As for Ireland May 2013, see my comment reply to Estrella. 🙁 And then let me know what you think.

      • Well, I really didn’t think we could all arrange a meet that easily anyway… ;o)
        As for the where and when. After our Ireland trip, we are wide open..
        Of course it would have to be centrally located for us all…
        Seeing as we live pretty spread out…that would cover a LOT of options in this world…haha. My request would be some place fairly warm. Not a cold weather person here….

        • I hear ya, Betsy. A cold-weather climate for vacation doesn’t appeal to me very much. I haven’t skiied since I was a kid, and I already live in a place where it snows, so snow activities are not really my cup of tea.

          Estrella has suggested we discuss the staff meetup on the staff blog. Which means I’ll have to get busy and write another staff newsletter. Stay tuned.

  4. I am super duper envious of your meeting! (I know I’m not a staff member, but…) Can’t wait to meet you both! So much fun! You both look great, and the meeting place sounds perfect. Maybe I can be there for half the staff get together since I’ve written a couple of things for the blog? If I promise to bring cookies? 🙂

    • Julia, of COURSE you can be at the staff meeting. I told you once that I consider you “staff” and I’m still very proud of your Maple Syruping in Maine story, as well as our collaborative post about Poland.

      (In fact, I forgot to tell you that during our Bistro 19 meetup I told Annie about your maple syrup story and she read it and left you a comment:

      It would be totally fun to have you at our staff meetup! But, beware, I will make you write a guest post on Milliver’s about whatever exotic location we choose for the staff meetup. So that will be your extra condition. 😉 (But cookies are always welcome! Better yet, COFFEE CAKE made from your special recipe.)

  5. Honey-bunny says:

    Milli, Ann and I were just talking the other day about our brunch. It’s late but, I sure could eat some of the Eggs Benny right about now! I really enjoyed meeting you and Brian. He and I solved some of the worlds problems in that short timeframe. Imagine how much we could get done if we lived closer!!! That is if we didn’t have to spend sooooo much of our time keeping you girls straight. 🙂

    • Yeah, Brian has that burden here at home too: keeping me straight. The act of a true martyr the way he micromanages me so lovingly when I’m not doing something His Way. 😀

      Now that you’ve revealed to me the true purpose of our meetup, I should make doubly sure that you and Brian get together again. While Annie and I gab about food, travel, photography, the two of you can better the world. I know Brian would sacrifice his time for that. ESPECIALLY for Eggs Benny. And some good coffee.

      Heehee. Thanks for visiting, Honey-bunny. It wouldn’t have been the same without you!

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