10 Ways to Travel on a Budget

Travel season is here! We are planning a couple of vacations this summer. Here’s how we spend less than the average traveler every time we take a trip! Budget Travel I have always loved traveling. My earliest visions for this blog always included travel posts. When I started blogging 9 years ago, we were a homeschool family of 6 with a very limited income for travel. Now that our youngest son has graduated and will be leaving home soon for college, we are entering a new season of life. One that I hope will include travels to foreign and exotic destinations. Our recent trip to Colorado has opened my eyes to some new ways of travel that we hadn’t considered before. We usually travel off season, camp or stay in the cheapest of accommodations. As much as I love camping, my husband does not. He prefers more comfortable accommodations. Here are the things we have learned about comfortable travel that doesn’t break the bank. Affiliate links have been added to this page for your connivence.  By making a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. For a complete list of disclosure rules, see the disclosure page.   10 “Cheap” Travel Tips Traveling off season can save you a bundle. We find hotel and resorts discount their rates as much as 70% during the off season. Simply Google your destination for ideas of the peak travel times, then turn back the calendar. For example, we love visiting Florida. We have found that the best time…
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Inspirational Books for Summer Reading

Summer was made for reading. The days are long and the opportunities are abundant! There are not many things more relaxing than sitting next to the pool or enjoying a night outdoors with a good book. If you’re looking for an inspirational book to read this summer, I’ve got you covered! These are a few of my favorites that I keep going back to, and also a few that are on my reading list for the next few months.  This post contains affiliate links. By making a purchase I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. Thank you for your support! The 10X Rule has been recommended to me by so many entrepreneurs that I would be doing myself a disservice to not read it! Grant Cardone recommends concrete steps on how to take action and achieve your dreams.  Read more here! In this book, Rachel Hollis shares her tips on how to stop believing the lies that are keeping your from living a joy-filled life. She guarantees that you will laugh, cry, and learn as you take this journey with her.  Read more here! The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is considered one of the most inspiring books ever written. It has proven valuable to people in all walks of life and is definitely a must read!  Read more here! We have all struggled with feelings of loneliness. If you’re in that season right now, this book is for you! (And even if you’re not, I guarantee you will still gain so much from this one.) Read…
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Balloon Rally

I have been taking it easy lately. It feels good to spend time out doors, and catch up on things behind the scenes. My son and I took a side trip to see the Balloon Rally going on in the Monroe, WI. It’s a lovely small town in the southern part of our state. We ate hamburgers and ice cream from the food vendors, and listened to live jazz and blues music while we watched the balloons. A perfect summer’s evening in my book. I have always wanted to see the Balloon Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had no idea such a thing existed here in Wisconsin. I happened to see an ad for this event that they haven’t had in almost 5 years. What are the odds? We arrived at the fair grounds just in time to see the balloons filling up and taking off into the horizon. They are of course absolutely huge!  So graceful and beautiful! We were fortunate enough to be right below the flight path…. You would be surprised how loud they are as they release the hot air into the balloon. It seemed like we were so close we could have touched the basket! Have you ever read Around the World in 80 Days? Seeing the balloons makes me want to read it again, such a great book! As the balloons disappeared behind us, we would turn around and there would be another one up in the air ready to take off. There were 6-8 balloons total. They all took off at…
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Preparing for a Blog Conference

I have been running about getting ready for my next blog conference. Preparing is time consuming, it always takes more organization than I planned. I decided that if I wrote a blog post about it, I could just refer to my post when time was short. I am sure there are other bloggers who feel the same way and are scrambling at the last minute.   First order of business is the luggage. I have been searching the thrift stores for an extra large suitcase with wheels. The insider blogging trick is to bring two suitcases, one large, one small to the conference. By putting one suitcase inside the other for the trip, you will have less baggage to worry about. For the return trip, the large suitcase is used to hold swag, that is all the products the wonderful sponsors supply us with at the conference. The small bag is used for the rest of your belongings, which is a test of your true packing ability. Don’t forget to label your base with name, address, cell phone number and blog name.   Minimal Conference blogger essentials include: At least 100 business cards Cell phone and USB charger Wireless charger for use during the lectures Head phones Power strip for charging multiple devices in your hotel room with your roommates iPad or laptop (I use mine for taking notes and pictures during the conference). Tote bag for picking up swag at the vendor booths, mine has my logo on it.   Wardrobe essentials: Layers are preferred, it gets cool sitting…
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City of Lights: St. Augustine, FL

I love Christmas lights. I am probably the only one in town who dreads putting the lights away for another whole year. I could keep them up all year long, but then the neighbors might think it was a bit odd. This year I may just put some up after the New Year, because I never got around to putting them up before the holiday. For now, I have to admire everyone else’s’ display. This is the city of St. Augustine, Florida. St. Augustine has a world famous Festival of Lights nor the holiday season from November to January. Rated by National Geograhic as one of the top ten best light displays in the world, it will not fail to impress. There are 2.5 million lights in the city, can you imagine? They are a sight to behold. I pity the poor soul who has to find that one light bulb that is out! The city is built around an old town square with loads of beautiful shops, galleries and restaurants. It would be easy to spend your days on the beach and explore the city at night. There are lots of interesting Windows to shop at after dark, I love,this stained glass window in an old church on the square. There were lots of people taking in the lights after dark, so be sure to go early and find a place to park. You can also take a trolley ride around town to see the lights for $12.00 per person. All for now, it’s time to get back to…
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Copper Falls State Park

  I have been off the grid this week. We have returned from our travels to the great Northern Territory of Wisconsin. We enjoy camping and this year we decided to explore one of the parks in our home state. We have lived here most of our life, but have yet to see all there is to see in our home state. Copper Falls State Park is one of several parks in the northern area. It has 5 star ratings across the board on Trip Advisor, Yelp and just about every other site I looked at. The park has many amenities like hiking, swimming and boating, and the ones they don’t have are available near by. We chose to hike into our tent site which was a mere 250 yards from the parking area. The park provides a small wagon for hauling your equipment to your site which made it very easy. We have never used a hike -in site, and would do it again. It was a lovely spot, with very tall maple and ash trees. Sleeping under the canopy was great, we were protected from the majority of wind and rain. There were a few Mosquitos, so bring your repellent just in case. Temperatures can be very cool at night here, it was in the mid-forties the few nights we were there, so bring lots of blankets. During the day we explored the parks hiking trails. They were well marked and we appreciated how well groomed they were. As we neared the end of the 2.5 mile trail…
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SNAP Conference

  I am still recovering from a week of traveling. I seldom go anywhere without my family, so it was a big step for me to travel out of state to the SNAP Conference. I was fortunate to find one of my fellow bloggers to travel with to the event. Karen from Dragon Flies and Lilly Pads was also one of my roommates for the Conference. The journey began at 4:45am. As you may know I am not a morning person. This makes the day all the more challenging. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time to drink coffee and check our bags. I think we look pretty good for such an early hour!   We arrived at our hotel in Salt Lake without any trouble, I must say the Little America Hotel was pretty impressive. I was of course captivated with the lovely gardens, and completely forgot to take pictures of anything else in the hotel lobby. Our next few days were full of activity, which I can only describe as blogger heaven. We visited with sponsors and brands, dozens of them. They were so kind and love working with bloggers. We were given a number of sample products to try, one of my favorites are these adorable socks from Woven Pear. Aren’t they just the cutest?   We were wined and dined, and entertained in the evenings with music, parties, food, crafts and games. It was completely amazing. In between, we attended classes on blogging, sewing, designing just about anything, social media, photo styling and photography.…
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Blue Glass Bottles

  Hello friends! I took some time today to pull out my new collection of blue glass bottles. I found them on our recent vacation. I discovered them stashed away in a box of other stuff I was unpacking. I recall that these bottles just had to come home with me, they reminded me so much of the deep blue sea. I love them even more on this chippy window ledge. I don’t ever want to paint it. I found them among rows and rows of decorative stuff at the Old Time Pottery Store. Have you ever been there? It’s fantastic! Next time, I am bringing an entire suitcase along to carry the haul home. Perhaps I will need a trailer too. I just loved the little star fish ornaments that came with the bottles. Aren’t they darling? The twine that holds them on just makes it so beach like. I grabbed these yellow roses from the $3.99 flower bin at Aldi’s over the weekend. I couldn’t wait to add them to the blue bottles. I think I am addicted to this blue shade. Or perhaps the yellow. Or both. Hummmm….. We all need a little color in our lives, don’t you think? Have a lovely day!

Global Discovery Vacations

    Returning from vacation can be stressful. Re-entry into the regular routine slow for me. I keep dreaming of the beautiful beach we saw in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It was our first trip there, it definitely won’t be our last. We stayed at the Plantation Resort, part of Global Discovery Vacations. I call it a travel club. The way it works is you pay a one time fee up front to join, then a small yearly fee. We get two weeks a year at any resort they are affiliated with, anywhere in the world for $189.00 per week for a one bedroom suite with kitchen, living room, laundry, etc. You can upgrade to a 2 or 3 bedroom if you choose, but different rates do apply. It has been well worth it to us. We have taken several vacations in the last two years and they have been great. The facilities are clean, quiet, attractive and very serviceable. I keep forgetting to take pictures of the inside of them, my mind is always on the view. I actually felt sorry for the folks back home in the subzero temperatures. It wasn’t that warm while we were in the Gulf area, but even a cold day at the beach is warmer than a subzero day back home. Eye candy for the soul. The resort had several pools both indoors and out. We pretty much had the entire place to ourselves. There were a few other midwesterner’s around during the off season, but not many. The off season is Jan-Feb. Peak…
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Viennese Coffee

      It’s been a lovely holiday week. We have had a “stay-cation”, not going too far from home but instead enjoying our time in luxurious ways. Such as sleeping in late, staying up late, napping, and indulging in all sorts of fantastic holiday treats and spending quality time with family. It seems like days since I had a really good cup of coffee, and today I decided to spend the extra time to make this special Viennese Coffee. I was listening to the public radio station yesterday, and they were playing the most beautiful waltzes straight from the Vienna Symphony by Johann Strauss. Apparently, special music is a New Year’s Day tradition in Vienna. I love these tunes and have frequently played them with our local symphony. There is nothing more relaxing than listening to classical music.  Hearing them being played inspired me to do some research on Vienna and their traditions. The Coffee House is a very important part of culture there, coffees are served with a glass of water on the side and it’s not unusual for people to linger for long periods of time at the local coffee house reading the newspaper, talking, writing, listening to poetry readings or even listening to live musical entertainment. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? I encourage you to spend the last day or two of your holiday week enjoying these simple pleasures. Here’s how to make the best cup of Viennese Coffee you have ever had: Ingredients you will need: 3 cups brewed dark roast coffee 3 tablespoons honey 2…
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