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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Why Vacation Makes Me Loose My Mind

I have been avoiding the computer lately. This is unlike me, and I am not quite sure of the root of the problem. It seems that since we got back from our recent Florida east coast vacation, writing has been difficult. It seems like the longer we are away, the harder it is to get back to reality.   While we were at the beach, our daily routine was simple. Early morning walks on the beach were followed by leisurely breakfast and excursions to see the local sights. Shopping was a splendid past time, and I don’t normally do a lot of it, so it was a welcome way to spend the mornings. Many of our lunches were eaten on the road, another welcome break from my everyday routine. We love exploring little Mom And Pop type family restraunts along the coast line. Our favorite place was closed the day we were there, I missed eating along the water with the lovely view of the yachts. We stayed with our son who is in college. He and his roommates have rented a sweet little house by the beach. I am envious. I could get used to a place like this. I love the hot orange shade in his bathroom. Not really beachy, but it made me feel warm and sunny the entire time we were visiting. The kitchen was just as nice. Even though we didn’t cook a lot, it was nice to use good quality appliances and beautiful granite counter tops for a little while. I am envious. After…
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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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Kid’s Travel Pillow

This easy to make kids travel pillow does double duty as a toy for entertainment and a neck pillow for when your child finally falls asleep on those long road trips.     It’s time for Week 2 of the So You Think Your Crafty Contest! If you missed last week’s project, click here! This week’s theme is “Kids Can Do”. How fun is that? Now, it’s fairly easy to keep entertained at home when you’re working on a project together like my very easy to follow angel wings wall hanging project. But I decided on a Kid’s Travel Pillow for this project, because it’s so hard to keep kids entertained while traveling in the car. To make the pillow you will need: A pair of argyle soccer socks (any size, I chose a size large since my kids are older) You can order these green ones on this website. Red and Pink craft felt Poly-fiberfill stuffing Wiggly Eyes in two colors Craft Heat Bond, Craft Glue or Fabric Glue Large needle and embroidery floss (to match your socks) Small pieces of stick on velcro (optional) You can keep all of your material in your diy wooden tool box if you’ve already created one! To make the mouth, cut two pieces of the red felt into ovals. Trace the red felt pieces onto the pink felt for the interior part of the mouth. Cut the pink felt, with the red being slightly smaller so you can see the two colors. Pink felt first, then the red on top will make an…
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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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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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Crater of Diamonds State Park

    We are back from our early spring vacation. It’s always hard to get back into the swing of things after a restful time away. I find it takes me at least two or three days for each week we are away, to be able to re-focus and figure out what direction we need to take for to go forward. I need time to catch up on mail, laundry, shopping, and the ever growing email accounts and social media obligations. Time away is necessary, I find, to re-evaluate where you are and which direction you should be going next. I have never failed to come home with a new vision and a clear perspective. There were many years where we didn’t take any vacations as a family, but as our children begin to leave home, we have decided to make family trips a priority. We now make an effort to take at least two trips a year together. The last couple of years, we have concentrated on exploring the beach areas, as I am addicted to warm sands and southern sunshine. This trip was no different, but I will tell you about the beach in my next post. We began our journey by driving south and making a small detour through Arkansas to the Crater of Diamonds State Park. We have never been there before, but it was well worth the trip. Arkansas is a beautiful state. We first read about this park as part of our home schooling journey, in a monthly children’s publication called Which Way USA. It is…
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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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