It’s hard to believe that nearly a month has gone by since my cruise to Alaska. My husband and I cruised with 2 other friends. The natural beauty of the Last Frontier was breath taking. I have so many photos of spectacular mountains and waterfalls, each one more awe inspiring than the last. We were blessed with beautiful weather, sunny each day with not a drop of rain (despite everything I’d heard about being prepared for rain daily). It was an experience I’ll never forget. We want to return someday just to explore more inland. I highly recommend our travel agent, Terri, she was great – and put up with lots of questions 🙂 Continue reading
As you know, I love to travel. You also know, I am a detailed-oriented, planning and list making kinda girl 😊 I want to share some of my tried and true travel tips with you (a little bit of a tongue twister there).
Cruising is one of my favorite ways to travel. I love being on a huge ship, it almost feels like you are in a city … a city at sea. I love that you are always moving, traveling from one place to the next. I love that you wake up in a different port each morning. I also love that you have the same room and only have to unpack once yet get to experience so many different locations. Continue reading
As many of you know, I love to go camping. I’ve decided to write a campground review of my personal experience during my travels. Of course, these will be my honest opinions based on my visit.
MENDOTA HILLS CAMPGROUND
6642 US HIGHWAY 52 ~ AMBOY, IL 61310 ~ 815-849-5930
Mendota Hills Campground is a family owned and operated campground. It has close to 200 campsites, with probably at 2/3 being seasonal sites, and the remaining sites available for overnight guests. There are 3 lakes stocked for catch & release fishing. There is also a swimming lake with a sandy beach and water toys. It seems the main mode of transportation once your camp is set up is by golf cart. There are couple nice trails for an easy hike. The staff is friendly and helpful. The camp store is well stocked with supplies you may have forgotten. In addition to ice and firewood, they have candy, novelty ice cream and an arcade room. They have public restrooms, shower houses and laundry room. There is a nice playground near a pavilion. Also nearby is a volleyball court, basketball court and archery range.
Everything you might expect from a family owned – family friendly campground 😊
I have stayed at this campground on 3 different occasions.
- June 2016 (back-in electric/water site – it was hotter than Hades)
- September 2018 (rental cabin – it was cold & rainy)
- May 2019 (pull-thru FHU site – it was perfect IMHO sunny and 70’s)
Let me start by saying that I had a great experience all 3 times 😊 I mention the 3 different visits because I experienced a different type of campsite each time.
Here are some points that I feel they do right:
- They have weekly themes
- Family/kid friendly activities (mostly on weekends)
- Pet friendly
- Non-denominational church services are offered on Sunday mornings with a pot-luck lunch afterwards
- Free Wi-Fi
Here are some points that I feel could be improved:
- The back-in electric/water only site we were at was very unlevel
- The pull-thru FHU site we were at had very odd placement of the power pedestal, water spigot and sewer drain (we had to borrow a 30amp power extension cord and 2 additional stinky slinky extension hoses to be completely hooked up)
- General updating (however, we spoke with the owners and they were telling us that there are in the process of updating the campsites section by section)
Overall, I feel this is a lovely place to spend a long weekend relaxing and enjoying the great outdoors. I give it 2 thumbs up (although I have simple needs) 😊
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Emotional, Psychological or Behavioral symptoms?
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This article offers ideas to improve your gut health. Check it out! I would love to discuss this further … let me know when is the best time for us to talk.
Our New Home Away from Home
We did it! We finally bought a new (to us, anyway) camper! We did our walk through and took possession of it this morning! We are the proud owners of a 2015 KZ Sportsmen S302BH Travel Trailer! Eek! I feel like my emotions are all over the place ~ like a combination of excitement & anxiety!
Since I’m not sure if you regularly read my blog posts, or this is your first one, I’ll recap some of the story leading up to today. We first started camping about 10 years ago. That first year, we camped in a tent. We had a lot of fun, but it is also a lot of work. I also figured out that I’m not a big fan of sleeping on the ground 😊
The next year, we bought a used pop-up trailer. We loved that we could store all the camping gear / supplies we needed in the camper … not to mention sleeping in a bed. It was also nice to have a warm, dry place to hang out during rainy weather. We owned our pop-up for 5 years and usually went camping 4 or 5 weekends a year.
I think its human nature to want what you don’t have. Like after tent camping for a season, I wanted a bed off the ground. Then after 5 years of having a bed off the ground, not to mention a warm/dry space to play games or read a book on wet/dreary days, we wanted to have a bathroom.
So, the next year we bought a small travel trailer. We actually bought it on eBay. There were plenty of pictures and the owner was prompt in answering my questions. I placed a bid and then set the auto bid feature that stops when the auction hits our price limit. Then I sort of forgot about it until I got an email informing me that we won the auction. We were so excited!! ~ that is, until we got it home ☹ But that’s another story for another time (or you can read it here now if you want).
We only used that trailer for one camping season. If you’ve read the story, you know that purchase left me feeling taken advantage of and not so trusting. However, we knew that we loved camping and that we loved owning a camper. That summer, we learned the basics of owning a travel trailer. We also used our camping trips as a time to scope out other campers at our campgrounds, making lots of notes of what we liked and didn’t like. We ended up selling that camper in the fall and started saving money for the perfect camper.
For two summers, we cabin camped. It’s a lot more work than camping in a travel trailer. Think of it like tent camping except with a roof over your head.
We knew we need a bigger, more powerful vehicle to tow the type of camper we wanted, so we saved to buy our Yukon Denali. Then we started looking for a trailer that fit our tow capabilities. Lots of online browsing until I found a few that checked off most of our wish list boxes. We went to see them, and we fell in love with one. We thought the asking price was a tad high for a used model. It was the middle of RV Show season and most dealers usually offer great discounts. But we really liked this one, so we made a lower offer and they accepted it 😊
Today, we dotted all the i(s) and crossed all the t(s). We are now the proud owners of a 2015 KZ Sportsmen. While we were having our walk-through, we had them install a new weight distribution hitch on the Denali. We can’t wait to go on our maiden voyage, hopefully in May.
😊 Now to find the perfect campground …
I’m so over winter this year. It seems to be dragging on forever. I am ready for some warmth and sunshine. I am ready to spend some time outdoors. I am ready for more daylight.
I haven’t done a Top 10 type post in a while … so here are my thoughts 🙂
1 ~ My skin is to dry, it sometimes cracks and bleeds
2 ~ I’ve slipped on the ice and fallen several times already
3 ~ I miss feeling the warmth of the sun
4 ~ The gas/heating bill is outrageous
5 ~ Driving can be treacherous during a winter snow/ice storm
6 ~ I hate having to scrap my car windows
7 ~ Everything has static electricity because the air is so dry
8 ~ It seems like someone in the family always has a cold
9 ~ Tt gets dark so early
10 ~ There is a lot more laundry because of having to wear layers to be warm
Sorry for my rant, but I feel better now 🙂 Do you agree with my Top 10? Can you add any of your own?
I’m from Chicago, born & raised. I never left (ok, technically I moved to the suburbs), but I still consider myself a Chicagoan. I’ve lived through some tough winters in my lifetime. I was around for the Blizzard of ’67 (kindergartner), and lots of snow storms during my high school years in the late ’70s. I made a lot of cash shoveling people out and setting up lawn chairs with brooms laying across them … It’s a Chicago thing – DIBS, you can Google it 🙂 I also remember Christmas week in 1983, it was so cold that my pet fish, Oscar, (he was a giant, you guessed it, Oscar) died because the power was out for several days and the tank nearly froze. However, my most prominent, vivid memory is January 20, 1985.
Ironically, January 20, 1985, the coldest day in Chicago history, was the first day at my new job … as a ramp agent working at O’Hare airport. I remember coming in from running bags (as a trainee, I had to shadow each type of job position) from our incoming flight to the baggage claim … when we got back to the ready room, I had actual frost on my eyelashes (similar to my feathered friend above)! I was never so cold in my life. I kept asking myself why the heck I quit my job as a travel agent at a Michigan Avenue travel agency. I honestly have no idea why I didn’t quit then and there (I stayed close to 15 years), but I’m glad I didn’t because I have so many wonderful memories of my years there and met so many great people.
Which brings me to our current Polar Vortex. This time I was blessed to be able to stay indoors for the duration. I was blessed with a nice warm home to stay cozy and safe. My husband’s employer closed down for the extreme cold. We didn’t have any major emergencies, no broken pipes or furnace mishaps. My furnace was able to keep the temperature a reasonable 60 degrees, I wore layers and snuggled under a blanket to watch movies with my family 🙂 I also spent way too much time on social media. Everyone was posting about the temperature. Many braved the elements to throw boiling water into the air to watch it freeze, and some people recorded these beautiful frost bubbles. I am fascinated by them, they are so beautifully intricate and fragile … amazing! Sadly, they were also posting about some of the struggles they were having trying to cope with this extreme cold … frozen pipes, broken furnaces, etc. We had only one problem because of the weather, one (of 3) vehicles wouldn’t start. That’s OK, we had no place we needed to be yesterday. Late this afternoon, in a balmy -5 degrees, we replaced the battery and it started right up. They are predicting a high of 13 tomorrow … that’s practically a heatwave 🙂
I hope all of you had a wonderful Holiday season. My Holidays were nice, but somehow a little different, even though Christmas is generally one of my favorite times of the year.
Somehow this Christmas seemed very rushed, more like work. The whole month of December seemed to fly by for me. I felt like I was always trying to play catch up to get everything done. For some reason, I don’t think I ever really got into the Christmas Spirit.
I feel like society seems to put so much pressure on have a perfect holiday. You’re supposed to take the perfect family photo for the annual Christmas card, complete with a letter updating everyone of the happenings in your life during the past year. The holiday parties start early in the month. It’s stressful trying to get together with all your friends who have busy schedules as well.
Don’t even get me started on my Christmas tree lights … ugh … just don’t ☹
Holiday baking didn’t go as planned either. On the plus side, I did get all my gift shopping and wrapping done before Christmas Eve 😊
I received numerous wonderful gifts, I enjoyed delicious holiday meals, I enjoyed the company of family and friends. Yet, for whatever reason, I missed the happiness & joy that the Christmas season is about. I’m sure next year will be better. I won’t let the stress and business rob me of the true meaning and spirit of Christmas!
I’m truly looking forward to a wonderful 2019 for each and every one of us!
I always enjoy my annual visit to the Timberton Hotel, I enjoy catching up with old friends (that I met in the previous books). Reading these short novellas always helps me get in the Christmas spirit. I also love that she includes recipes that are mentioned in the story. This year I plan to make, Glazed Cinnamon Nuts, Peanut Butter Fudge & Lemon Crinkles 😊 You can read my reviews of the previous books in the series here.
This year Betty and Mist are expecting more than the guests actually in the reservation book … they will have guests from the local theater group as well. After a tragic fire burned down the theater, the a few of the dancers performing “The Nutcracker” need to find a place to stay. In addition to the actors and their regulars, we meet a young family whose daughter, Maria, is in a wheelchair, and an elderly woman, Olga, who has a bit of a mysterious air about her.
As usual, Mist has a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner planned, along with a special surprise …
If you love feel good, happy endings kind of stories, do yourself a favor and read this one … you’ll be glad you did!
5 Stars and 2 Thumbs Up 😊
The small Montana town of Timberton has a way of bringing magic to the holidays, especially for guests of the local hotel. Resident artist and chef Mist has a way of touching people’s lives with exquisite cuisine, imaginative art, and her own ethereal nature.
When a nearby theatre burns down just before Christmas, cast members of The Nutcracker arrive at the Timberton Hotel with only a sliver of holiday joy. Camaraderie, compassion, and shared inspiration combine to help at least one hidden dream come true. As with every Christmas season in Timberton, this year’s guests will face the New Year with a renewed sense of hope.
*Cookie and candy recipes included!
The Moonglow Series…
Each book may be read as a stand-alone novel, or as part of the series.
Mistletoe at Moonglow, Book 1
Silver Bells at Moonglow, Book 2
Gingerbread at Moonglow, Book 3
Nutcracker Sweets at Moonglow, Book 4
Also available in The Moonglow Series
Each book may be read as a stand-alone novel, or as part of the series.
Mistletoe at Moonglow, The Moonglow Series, Book 1
The Timberton Hotel has always provided a perfect Christmas retreat for regular guests, as well as newcomers. But the small town of Timberton, Montana, hasn’t been the same since resident chef and artist, Mist, arrived, bringing a unique new age flavor to the old western town.
When guests check in for the holidays, they bring along worries, fears and broken hearts, unaware that Mist has a way of working magic in people’s lives. Old-fashioned time spent together, exquisite food, conversation and a snowball or two offer guests a chance to trade sadness for hope. One thing is certain: no matter how cold winter’s grip is on each guest, no one leaves Timberton without a warmer heart.
Silver Bells at Moonglow, The Moonglow Series, Book 2
Christmas at the Timberton Hotel arrives each year with a unique set of guests, some returning, some new. When this holiday brings a celebrity seeking reprieve, sisters who are distant yet closer to each other than they think, a widow approaching a new horizon, and an eclectic smattering of local townsfolk and visiting relatives, the season is certain to be eventful. Add in a hint of romance and there’s more than snow in the air around the small Montana town.
Elegant decor and exquisite cuisine from resident artist and chef, Mist, form a backdrop to much needed camaraderie, bringing strangers and friends together. When the last note of Christmas carols has faded away, the soft whisper of silver bells from the front door’s wreath will usher guests and townsfolk alike back into the world with hope for the coming year.
Gingerbread at Moonglow, The Moonglow Series, Book 3
The small town of Timberton, Montana, boasts an ambiance of near-magical proportions during the Christmas season, due in no small part to resident artist and chef Mist’s mysterious way of working small miracles in people’s everyday lives. Each year, return guests and new arrivals mingle with local townsfolk to enjoy companionship, exquisite decor, and exceptional cuisine at The Timberton Hotel.
As the aromas of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and molasses mix with heartfelt camaraderie and sweet romance, guests share reflections on family, friendship, and life. Although decorating the outside of a gingerbread house may prove easier than deciding what goes inside, no one leaves Timberton without renewed hope for the future.
About the author
Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now pides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.
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I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.
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For me, October is harvest time, it marks the end of my gardening season.
I’m fairly pleased with my crop this year, especially considering that I didn’t take very good care of my garden this year.
Every May, I eagerly plant my garden. I love being outside in the fresh air and sunshine. I even enjoy the manual labor of preparing the soil for the new seedlings and planting the seeds. For the first month or so, I took great care of the garden. I watered it daily and dug out every little weed as soon as it sprung up. Then, sometime near the end of July or beginning of August, I start to not take such good care. I start resenting having to water every night, especially while getting eaten alive by mosquitos. The weeds start taking over, and I just ignore them. Usually, I still am blessed with a decent harvest.
This year, however, my luck ran out. My above ground crops didn’t do very well at all. Plenty of grape tomatoes, but only a few bell peppers and cucumbers. My broccoli did ok, enough for meals throughout the summer, but no extra for the freezer like in years past.
I had a decent sweet potato harvest. I’ve cured them and they are now in my crawl space to hopefully last through next spring again. Last year, we enjoyed the last of our crop in a sweet potato casserole for Easter dinner.
I also had a nice crop of carrots again this year. Last year, I preserved them by blanching, and then freezing. It worked great but required a lot of prep work. This year, I just didn’t have the time, so I found some articles about storing them in a root cellar. I don’t have a root cellar, but I have a crawl space that stays fairly cool. Most of the articles recommended storing the carrots in sand, straw or peat moss. I also read one that stored them in leaves. I have six large trees on my property, so, this time of year, let’s just say that I have plenty of leaves 🙂
So, this year, I’m experimenting with my harvest – half of my carrot crop is stored in a 5-gallon bucket covered in leaves. The other half was cleaned, chopped, blanched and frozen in ziplock baggies. I’ll let you know how it turns out 🙂