Friday, June 25, 2010

Buy Shoes, "Get a Pair Free"

I love these shoes! Not just because they're turquoise and cute, but because if you buy a pair of 
TOMS shoes... 
someone who needs a pair gets shoes too! I mean, it seems like there aren't many 2 for the price of 1 deals very often.... not to mention you can help change a child's life. If you ever find yourself thinking that your house isn't big enough (or if you're like me, thinking about how much you'd like to move from an apartment into a house some day) or you'd like a bigger bed to sleep in at night, remember that there are people in this world who don't even have a bed to sleep on... and sometimes they don't have a roof over their head either. Then you can do a small part (buy some shoes) to help others, and your problems don't really seem like big problems any more, do they?

If you've seen any of the pictures I've been posting on this blog lately, you'll come to the conclusion that I am a bit obsessed with turquoise... and it's not even a recent thing. I've always loved the color blue, and turquoise just reminds me of perfect waters... oh well, it's a safe obsession.

Here's a little info (straight from the TOMS website) about how it all started:

"In 2006 an American traveler, Blake Mycoskie, befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by caring TOMS customers."

I don't have a pair of Tom's shoes yet... but I don't know why I wouldn't get a pair. Maybe I can even talk Nate into sporting a pair too....? ;)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Coastal Inspiration

Inspiration... that is a very broad subject.

**I put this together from things I found at an antique store**

There are so many things that I find inspiring. For example: people, certain places, historical locations, the ocean, a tranquil lake, a beautiful sunset, and the list could go on and on...

I think that the challenge is to find something inspiring each and every day. Choose to surround yourself with things that inspire you on a daily basis.

This picture was taken from the pier in Naples while we were on our honeymoon. Aaaaah...

The lake (or almost any body of water) inspires me, and that probably explains why many things found in our apartment reflect the colors of water. Lots of blue, green, and tan colors surround each day. Not to mention that I collected oodles of seashells while on our honeymoon in Florida. You can find those shells scattered throughout our apartment, and I still have lots of them laying around waiting for a new use. I'm hoping to get some shadow box frames to put together a few things to decorate our place. I loooove to design and create!

I'd like to put together something sort of like this...  :)

I recently bought a book called Gift From the Sea by Jane Morrow Lindbergh, and I can't wait to read it! The author draws inspiration from the sea, and also from her gifts from the sea. Nate doesn't exactly understand my obsession with seashells, but I'm looking forward to my next shelling trip already...

Whether it be a great friendship, beautiful sunset, soothing music, a visit to a far away place, or your home... find something to be inspired by each day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Good Stuff

Some things that make me have that warm and fuzzy feeling inside:

  • A message from a friend you love and haven't heard from in a while
  • Laughing with loved ones over a funny board game
  • Sitting around the bonfire at the lake with friends and family
  • Watching a child do something for the first time... a first step... or a crawl
  • Opening a very small and unexpected gift from someone who cares about you
  • Listening to my cousin play the violin (sometimes that's more of an overwhelmed feeling, music does that to me sometimes)
  • Watching the sunrise with my husband... we did that at the Red Rocks Easter Service this year, and it was amazing.
  • Enjoying a cup of coffee outside on a chilly morning
  • A nicely written and thoughtful thank you note
  • Watching a "lightning show" late at night from the safety of shelter
  • Enjoying the look on some one's face when you give them a gift that was exactly what they wanted and they never even asked for it
  • When you see people give out of the goodness of their heart and without expectations (that seems to be something very rare)...

Easter Sunrise Service at Red Rocks, April 2010

I could go on... and on...

Some one's feeling sentimental huh? Geez :) You would think I'm getting "old" or something... just kidding. I hope to never feel old. But if I ever do... I hope that all of these things still make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Everyone Should Read This Book

Best book I've read in a while... Same Kind of Different as Me

This book should be required reading for every human being person with a heart and a soul. Seriously. It was incredibly touching and demonstrated that you can learn from anyone, and it just might surprise you. Don't judge a book by it's cover either. It doesn't exactly have the "prettiest" cover ever, but what's inside the covers just may change your life.

This book tugs at your heart strings, and I'm glad I made it through the story without even crying... who am I kidding?! I cried like a baby, but whatever. It's a great story that can probably touch every corner of the world in some way. I could relate to both main characters at times... and you end up finding that these two unlikely of friends are more like each other than they thought.

Everyone should move through life a little differently after reading this book. If anything, it should maybe make you think twice about how you treat others. (Strangers included) I'll be reading this book again, I'm sure.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hold a Piece of History

Today I was thinking about how much I love the Petoskey stone. They were always a fun discovery on the shores of the lake where I grew up in northern Michigan. I've never really taken the time to have them tumbled in order to display their makeup and true beauty. Next time I make it to the lake, I want to make sure and grab some of these beauties and maybe go through the trouble of getting them tumbled and shined! I love being surrounded by special things that remind me of things I love. I can't wait to have some gorgeous little Petoskey stones that I can use to decorate our place.

I came across this photo at Ken Scott Photography... check him out.

While looking up a little more info about the amazing stones, I also came across some history of how Petoskey, Michigan got its name. Interesting! I want to learn more about the past of the area where I grew up. Northern Michigan is full of history and great stories... just waiting to be discovered.

Check out this wikipedia article about the Petoskey stone.

I can't wait to get back to the lake, find me a Petoskey stone, and hold a little piece of history in my hands again!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Texas Time Traveling

We didn't really time travel on our trip to Texas, but it sort of felt like it when we stumbled upon the town of Gruene. The town was settled by German settlers in the mid 19th century, and I think my German side felt quite at home for that reason. Setting our sights on Gruene was like a refreshing step back in time.

Beautiful old main street, amazing local shops and restaurants, nice people, and an all around feeling of being transported at least a little bit back in time. Apparently many of the buildings we visited in Gruene were some of the original buildings from the 1800's! Gruene itself is on the National Register of Historic Places thanks to someone who saved it from becoming a ghost town in the 70's. Now how's that for history?! If you want a great small town experience, visit Gruene, Texas! You won't regret it.

I found this image of Gruene's main street on

Our first experiences with the shops and people of Gruene were great. Not only were we surprised to find this little gem of a small town, seemingly located in the middle of nowhere, but the experiences we had there were unforgettable.

The first place we visited was the Gruene Coffee Haus. The girl working the counter commented on my engagement ring and talked to me about her ring too, as if we were quick friends. You don't seem to find too much of that genuine friendliness in many places across the country anymore. The conversation and customer service were a nice touch; not to mention the drinks were delicious! I wish we could have spent every morning there drinking coffee.

Next door to the Coffee Haus was the Fickle Pickle. Nate and I tried a sample of their tasty treats, and both were happily surprised with how yummy they tasted. I mentioned we were from out of town and that it's difficult to pack glass jars in suitcases, and without even asking the man behind the counter told us they ship to anywhere in the country! We just might have to order us some Fickle Pickles. Gruene sure knows how to make people feel special.

This image is from the Gruene Coffee Haus' website @

To finish off our first day in Gruene, we ate dinner at the Adobe Verde. We drank Dos Equis and ate Mexican food on their covered deck, while musician Mark Monaco (who writes and produces his own music) played live country music. Quintessential Texas! While enjoying our dinner at Adobe Verde, a gigantic thunderstorm kept us 'trapped' on the covered porch for a while. I was actually rather happy about spending a little extra time there.

Something about the night felt very "Sweet Home Alabama" to me, and I got a little teary eyed thinking about how I was born in Texas and a little part of me felt at home there. I didn't live in Texas long as a child, but it was long enough to make me feel like a part of me still belongs there when I visit.

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** Here are some links for more information on Gruene, Texas: **

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Great Water Park Debate

The "Master Blaster" at Schlitterbahn

We recently visited the Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort in New Braunfels, Texas. Years ago I spotted the Texas water park in the #1 spot on the Travel Channel's best U.S. water parks, and I've been wanting to visit Schlitterbahn ever since! I've always had a minor obsession with amusement parks and water parks, and I was really looking forward to visiting the #1 water park in the country. Amusement Today Magazine voted Schlitterbahn the #1 water park in the country for, I think it was, 12 years in a row. We thought, who the heck is Amusement Today Magazine anyway? Upon returning home, I did a little bit of online research to find that AT Magazine is located in Arlington, TX. That might help explain Schlitterbahn's #1 US rating for so many years, because, to be honest and frank, we were really not that impressed with the water park. Compared to other parks, especially Denver's Water World, Schlitterbahn didn't seem to stack up. I am sure the fact that the weather was sprinkling on us and that it was a chilly 78 degrees (it was forecast to be 95 degrees before we left Colorado) were not enough to make us dislike Schlitterbahn, but I think the hype and our expectations combined with a lack of real thrills left us a bit disappointed.

Have you ever heard of a water coaster? Well, that was one of the things I was most excited about experiencing on our trip to Schlitterbahn. They have a water coaster called the Master Blaster, and it was supposed to be thrilling and one of the most popular rides at the park. No one warned us that you should lift your butt high off the bottom of the raft to avoid the plastic bumps where the water shoots out to propel you up the hills. Would have been nice to know. Nate bruised his tail bone a little bit on their most popular "thrill ride" in the park, the Master Blaster! To top that off, the ride really wasn't all that thrilling. Master Blaster ended up being rather disappointing in our books.

While at Schlitterbahn, we experienced some very poor "special effects" on the Dragon's Revenge and Congo River Expedition rides. We dubbed their Raging River ride the "Not So Raging River", because there were few locations with a thrill and many spots where the current caused you to be stuck in place until someone came along and bumped into you or you freed yourself by standing up off of your inner tube. Not to mention, we ate some of the worst pizza we've ever had for lunch. Things weren't exactly going well for us at Schlitterbahn, so we left a little after lunch time and relaxed in our comfy condo.

Amusement Today magazine may have been a bit biased. I do get that some things are bigger in Texas, but the water park thrills are not one of those things. For goodness sake, Schlitterbahn had signs warning you what the thrill level of each ride is, and they rated their Lava Lagoon hot tub as a moderate thrill. We both laughed at the sign located beside the hot tub, and here is the description for the Lava Lagoon hot tub on Schlitterbahn's website: "Warm, soothing water, relaxing bubbles, and a Volcano fountain make this pool a great way to spend an afternoon." Does that sound like a moderate thrill to you?! It surely was relaxing, but not so thrilling. And who would want to spend their entire afternoon in a big hot tub at a water park? Oy vey!

It you're looking for a great water park, visit Water World just north of Denver! (Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World is pretty great too!) I've been to Water World multiple times, from when I was in 4th grade up until my 20's... and it's fun at every age. After our Schlitterbahn disappointment, we're really looking forward to a Water World visit this summer.

Here's a picture of the Ragin' Colorado River ride at Water World:

Other than our water park blues, the rest of our Texas trip was fantastic! We spent a little time in Austin and accidentally discovered a great little historic town called Gruene (pronounced "green"), Texas. Our rooms were nice in both Austin and New Braunfels. We ate delicious food in lots of local places, and we both want to tube the Comal River next time we visit New Braunfels. We'll be back again, but we'll be better prepared.

More from our Texas trip later....