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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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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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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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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Tales of a Haven Newbie

It’s late and I can’t sleep. I should be in bed, recovering from my trip to the Haven Conference in beautiful Atlanta, Georgia. I was officially a Haven “Newbie” since this was my first year attending the conference. It was amazing. It was dazzling, and I have never been so terrified in my life. Funny how that works, isn’t it? I drove for two days to get there. Do you know the things that go through your mind when you are under the spell of highway hypnosis? I was sure they would not let me in. I was sure I would be the only new person there. I was sure it was going to be a terrible waste of time and money. I was afraid my kids would be wearing dirty clothes while I was gone. Or that they would be living on junk food. Or that the world would end without me being at home to save it. But, none of those things happened. I walked into the conference dragging my shabby old luggage past the valet parking, and was immediately captivated by the beautiful hotel. This stunning display of furniture by Ballard Designs met me at the door. I began to feel faint at the sight of it. I felt completely of my league. I was a little fish in a BIG sea. I waited in line to check in. I am not good at waiting. It is very difficult for me. I was so nervous I almost threw up standing in line at the counter. I was…
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What I Wore to the Midwestern Blogger Meet-up

          I had so much fun today at the Midwestern Blogger Meet-up! The big event took place in Lisle, Illinois and was put together by Jennifer Rizzo.  If you haven’t read Jennifer’s blog, you should hop on over and check it out. She’s very talented and as sweet as sunshine.   I was equally charmed by her selection of location for the event: inside an old train depot at a local historical museum. I was able to have some time to explore this quaint museum before the festivities began, I love old buildings. The train depot was amazing, it was built in 1881. I am into train depots lately. And trains. The depot had beautiful architectural features. The inside of the depot was every bit as charming as the outside. Did you know they used to have separate waiting rooms for the men and women? Neither did I. I love the big graphic on the wall. I wanted to take it home with me. My great grandfather had a brass hanging lamp just like this one. So charming. Great grandpa also had a clock just like this.  I loved the train bulletin chalkboard on the wall. The corners of the depot were full of other old treasures like wooden barrels and these lovely trunks and boxes.  The walls in this room were beautiful unfinished wide boards. I loved how rustic they look. It was the perfect place for a bunch of bloggers to meet up. We all took tons of pictures. You can see why. Jennifer…
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In Love with Orchids

    Coming back from vacation has it’s perks. The snow is now gone, and I actually saw a robin in the yard today. It seems like overnight, winter has finally given up and warmer days are ahead. Returning from vacation has it’s down side also, I can no longer avoid all the things I have been worrying about, and I am still suffering from the time zone differential, a.k.a., I need a nap. A long nap. For today, I will share our vacation visit to this fantastic orchid greenhouse. I have never seen anything quite like this, an entire greenhouse full of just orchids. It was absolutely amazing. I could have wandered around in there for days. The woman who ran the place, had the most interesting way of organizing her orchids, rows and rows of vertical hanging baskets. Each one was connected to the one above by a simple metal hook. It gave the impression of being an entire wall, but it really wasn’t a wall at all. Orchids do not need soil, some varieties thrive purely on air and water, others require bark or moss to cover the roots. These hanging “vines” are photos of all the bare roots, just hanging down from their little wooden or plastic baskets. I would love a greenhouse full of these! It felt like a jungle.  It was a jungle.  This particular variety of orchid only blooms every 6 years ( I can’t remember the name of them, sorry!).  These are only 4 years old, and won’t bloom for two more…
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White Christmas

It’s a beautiful clear morning here in Wisconsin. The last few days have brought us quite a bit of winter weather. A layer of ice and 8 inches of fresh snow make for a lovely view on Christmas Eve Day. I have always wanted to go skiing for Christmas. I pulled out my vintage skis and took them for their maiden voyage around the cornfield behind our house. Skiing is one of my all time favorite things. Come on, I’ll lead the way…. I love how the trees are covered in ice. They sparkle in the sunlight. I can hear the ice crack in the wind. Nothing else, just the sound of the wind in the trees. All my lovely song birds are long gone to warmer places. I follow the path of the deer along the edge of the field. I know they are there, I wish they would show themselves to me. More tracks………I am still waiting for that big buck to visit our yard. I just know he is going to waltz up to my deck and drop his beautiful antlers there for me. He knows how great they would look above my fireplace mantle.  We saw a TV special recently on how the deer camouflage themselves in the trees. You can be standing right next to them and not know that they are there. After I turned my back from taking this photo, two does ran across the field. I knew they were there even though I couldn’t see them. More snow is on the way,…
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