Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Our Fall Vacation to South Dakota: Day 1: The Badlands National Park

 Today begins a new travel series of a vacation I took with my husband to South Dakota back in September.  Even though South Dakota is only a few hours away from my home, I had never been there before.  But after one visit, I can't wait to go back;  especially to the Badlands.  We did not get to spend near enough time there.  It was basically just a pit stop on our way to our hotel for the night in Rapid City.  But what we did see took my breath away, and I made my husband promise me we'd be back next summer/fall to explore it more.

The Badlands are absolutely HUGE! It consists of three units totaling more than 240,000 acres!!!  The North Unit is the most well known and the most easily explored area.  It includes a Badlands Loop Road with scenic overlooks and trail heads.  We only had time to take part of this loop and get out of the car for a few short hikes.

The Badlands are well-known for their rattlesnakes.  We saw these signs everywhere.  We mostly stayed on or near the paths, and we never saw or heard any snakes.  Thank goodness!

If you enter the Badlands from the north, the first scenic overlook is The Big Badlands Overlook.  Wow!  When you grow up in Wisconsin,  the land of dense pine forests, to see a landscape like this you feel like you're on another planet.  I could not believe this was only eight hours from my house in the woods!  How is this possible?

My husband was crazy brave and walked off the path and onto the pinnacles.  I played it safe, and stuck to the path.  Especially after seeing the rattlesnake signs.

The barren landscape as far as the eye could see combined with the beauty of the colorful sand and stone formations was just jaw dropping.

If you're looking at this landscape and wondering what in the world do you do in this national park, my answer is "Lots!".  Like any national park, it is loaded with hiking trails of all levels of difficulties.  Due to time constraints, we stuck with the shorter hikes/scenic overlooks that were within a few feet from our car or were a mile or less.  If you don't like to hike, you don't need to.  Just sit back in your car and drool!  You can take the loop and see sights you've never seen before!  You might even get lucky and see some wildlife.  We saw a coyote and a bighorn sheep, but I read they have bison as well.

We had some type of biting invisible bug biting us when we first stopped and got out of the car.  But after we sprayed ourselves with bug spray, they left us alone.  I have no idea what type of bug it was; nothing we have in Wisconsin that's for sure.  So if you visit the Badlands, bring some bug spray!

 You see such different landscapes in the Badlands.  This was an area where we did get off the beaten path a bit and walked around.  My husband even climbed up some of the formations.  When I got back to my hotel that night I noticed that my feet and legs were covered with white dust!

Every time we stopped, the formations or landscape seemed a little different than the previous stop.

Our final stop was a mix of barren desert landscape and forest.  It was our favorite hike in the park (although we didn't do much, so that's bound to change when we go back and explore more!).  It is called the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail.  It is a moderate 0.5 mile loop trail that follows boardwalks and climbs stairs through a juniper forest perched along the Badlands Wall.  It climbs approximately 200 feet in elevation.

There are some gorgeous panoramic views on this trail.

We were blessed to see a Native American arrive with his son to perform a ceremonial dance.  We did ask their permission to watch and photograph.  The little boy was SO CUTE!

 I appreciated the well-maintained trail.

I loved the mix of evergreens and desert.  I read that at certain times of the year a small pond exists in this area that attracts wildlife.  Perhaps that is why this area is so green too!

 It was with great regret and sadness I had to leave this place so soon!  As we exited the park on the opposite side, the views seemed to get better and better, but we had no time to stop the car and take pictures.  I was actually depressed about it and I must admit it put a slight damper on the rest of my vacation because I felt like I missed out.  My husband kept reassuring me though that we would go I'm holding him to it!

So what about you.  Have you ever been to the Badlands?  What do you think of this unique landscape?  Is this someplace you'd like to visit?  I'd love to hear from you.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Fall Card For My Lil' Pumpkin

Every Halloween, Valentine's Day, and Easter I send my children and grand baby a box of treats to let them know how much I love them.  In every box is a handmade card for each of them, some edible treats, and sometimes some little gifts like books or DVD's.  I like to personalize the card as much as possible by picking an image or sentiment that reminds me of them.  When I saw this Pure Innocence image, it reminded me so much of Alethea when we met up in the Wisconsin Dells a few weeks ago and she picked up a pumpkin.  I just HAD to use it!

I hand-wrote a sentiment on the card instead of using a sentiment stamp.  I wanted the sentiment to represent what she is to me "My Little Pumpkin" and also to say "Happy Fall" and not "Happy Halloween."

The flower and little pumpkin are images I fussy cut out of designer paper and glued to the main image panel.

The main image is a digital image that I printed onto white card stock.  I then colored it in and fussy cut it.  I popped it up on dimensionals onto the main image panel.

The main image panel is fall designer paper from an old DCWV paper stack pad.  I thought the pumpkin border went perfect with my pumpkin theme.

I adhered the fall designer paper to a beige card base.

And in case you missed my Wisconsin Dells post, here is my Lil' Pumpkin!  I can't wait to see her again.  Thanksgiving can't come fast enough for me!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Dark Floral Tie Front Blouse With Olive Jeans

 I  received this pretty dark floral tie front blouse in my August Stitch Fix box.  I previously showed it styled it for summer with white pants, and here is how I styled it for fall.  I wore this look to church, lunch, and shopping on 50 degree day.

Because of the dark floral background and short sleeves, the top is very versatile and can be worn most of the year.  I could even wear it in the dead of winter with a cardigan!  To make the top even more fall appropriate, I simply switched out the white jeans for olive jeans.  My olive jeans are also from Stitch Fix (previously shown HERE).

The top is by West Kei and is called "Julianne Tie-Front Blouse".  I love the beautiful floral print and the tie front.

Because it was chilly and rainy this day, I wore a black faux leather jacket from CJBanks (old).

For jewelry, I chose this multi-colored stone bracelet, copper rings, and green drop earrings (all old).  I carried a black tote by Liz Claiborne (old).

For footwear, I wore black suede booties.

The olive green jeans are called "Lila Ryan Louise Skinny Jean".  I just love all the pants/jeans Stitch Fix has sent me.  They are always so comfortable and fit very well.  I can't believe how much I have worn these jeans since I received them  in September.  They are so versatile, even with the colored denim.

Here is the same top styled with two different colored jeans.  I prefer the top with white jeans, but I don't like to wear white jeans in the fall/winter.  Which is look is your favorite?  I'd love to hear from you!

 If you'd like to try Stitch Fix, here is my referral number where you can receive $25 off your first Fix!

Have A  Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Stitch Fix 21: A Sweater and Luxe Leggings, Plus A Review Of The Entire Box!

 Today I'm covering the last two pieces I received in my 21st box from Stitch Fix:  a striped sweater and a pair of leggings.  My stylist suggested wearing the two pieces together and I did because the colors complimented each other and the sweater was long enough to make it appropriate to wear with leggings.

 First, lets talk about the sweater.  It is by 41 Hawthorn and is called "Hillari Cowl Neck Pullover".  There were so many things about this sweater I loved.  It is super soft and thin, and it felt like a dream to wear.  It was so cozy!  I also liked the cowl neck and the length.  I prefer longer sweaters that don't stop at my waist line.  What I didn't like?  The stripes!  Oh my goodness, I almost kept this sweater because I loved the way it felt when I was wearing it.  But when I saw the pictures of these horizontal lines going straight across my upper body, I felt it made my upper torso look bigger than it already is, so back it went, with great sadness.  Hubby didn't like it either, he thought it was too simple and boring, although he did like the cowl neck.  If the sweater would have came in a different color (I have too much black already) or print, I would have kept it in a heartbeat.

 If you are interested in requesting this sweater from your stylist, I am wearing a size Medium for reference.

My next item in this Fix was a pair of luxe leggings.  They are by Liverpool and are actually called pants (but trust me, they are leggings!) titled "Kennedy Skinny Pant".  But, I can see why they are called pants because the quality is less of a legging and more like a pant.  They have faux pockets, a faux they look like pants.  But the material is a very thick Spandex type as you can tell by the way I'm stretching the material away from my leg in the photo below.

I am crazy in love with these leggings/pants.  For years I wore those cheap, thin, cotton leggings that cost about $7.00.  Then a few years ago I bought my first pair of black dressy leggings by Worthington from JCPenney.  They were such a huge step up I decided never to buy the cheap kind again.  I loved how I could wear those dressy leggings as pants and not to have to worry so much about  them being immodest.  But these leggings, are even so much better than my Worthington pair.  They are thicker, stronger, and the faux zipper/pockets make them look like I'm wearing skinny jeans, not leggings.  They also have a very high rise, which is a great attribute for Spandex leggings, for it sucks in my tummy tight!  I can not say enough about the quality of these leggings!  They come with a hefty price tag of $78 but, they are so worth it!  The color of leggings I'm wearing is called "Eggplant" which is a perfect fall/winter color.  It's darker than a burgundy, but it offers more color than black, grey, brown, or blue.  I really love this color.

I carried a black handbag from Liz Claiborne (old) to coordinate with the black sweater.

For footwear, I chose grey suede booties to "brighten" the outfit a bit since every other item I'm wearing was dark.

So what do you think?  Did I make the right decision to send the sweater back and keep the leggings?  What would you have done?  I'd love to hear from you!

 And now lets review the entire box from my 21st Fix.

I received 5 items:  2 tops, 2 sweaters, and a pair of leggings.  I kept one top and one pair of leggings.

Skies Are Blue "Finnie Tie Neck Peasant Top":

Status:  KEPT!

Original Post

Leo & Nicole "Jaelynn Cotton Blend Ribbed Open Cardigan

Status:  Returned!

Original Post

Daniel Rainn "Koda Split Neck Blouse"

Status:  Returned (but I kinda wish I kept)

Original Post

Overall, I thought this was another great Fix for me.  There was only one item I really did not like at all (the striped cardigan).  I loved the floral top, I only sent it back because I have too many dark floral tops in my closet already.  The striped cowl neck sweater was super cozy, but gosh, I hate the way stripes look on me!  The peasant top was the best item in the Fix:  such an original piece!  And the leggings are top quality,  I would love more in different colors!

If you've never tried Stitch Fix before but would love to, use my Referral Code to save $25.00 off your first box!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Night In Wisconsin Dells With Family

 A few weeks ago we met up with our children in Wisconsin Dells for the weekend.  It's only a two hour drive from our home to the Dells, and about a three hour drive for them, so it was a pretty good halfway point for a meet up with plenty to do in the area.  We spent most of the day on Saturday hiking in Devil's Lake State Park.  After lunch, we intended to do more hiking, but Alethea was tiring of hanging off of dad's back, plus it was getting windy and cold, so we all decided a good soaking in our hotel's hot tub was a better idea.

Being the budget traveler I am,  I wanted to keep the weekend as inexpensive as possible, so I picked a room at the Atlantis Family Waterpark Hotel that had two queen beds and a set of bunk beds.  Alethea was wowed by the bunk beds as she had never seen them before.  She looked at them and said "Ooooh!"  and of course it was a challenge all night keeping her from climbing the ladder!  ha ha!


The Atlantis has three "waterparks":  one outdoor and two indoor.  Although they are all nice pools, I would hesitate to call them "waterparks".  They all have fun slides and things that spray.  We really appreciate the toddler area which had water that was only ankle deep.  For Alethea's age, this was all she needed.  She actually was a little overwhelmed at first and started to cry, but eventually warmed up to everything and had a great time as obvious in the picture below.  I was glad I rented a room at this hotel instead of at some of the more expensive ones with elaborate waterparks, because I don't think Alethea would have gotten much out of the bigger ones.  But someday, when she's older, she will!

After a few hours at the pool, we went back to our room and changed for dinner.  We decided to go to a fancy burger place right across the street from our hotel called "B-Lux Grill and Bar".    It must have been homecoming night, because there were a lot of young people there wearing homecoming dresses.  We had to wait about twenty minutes for a table, but it was worth it.  The burgers were pricey, but they were delicious.  The presentation of the food was amazing too.  So if you don't mind spending $14 -16 for a burger, give it a try!

My husband ordered the B-Lux Double Stack which was "a pair of thick patties stacked with crisp bacon, cheddar cheese, American cheese, pulled pork & a fried egg" .  It was so huge!  He 
couldn't even it all!

I had The Cheesehead which had beer battered cheese curds, chicken fried bacon, shredded lettuce, and Wisconsin cheddar.  It was amazing!  And yes, I ate the whole thing.  

You can order shoestring fries, waffle fries, sweet potato fries, or tater tots with your burger.  I ordered sweet potato fries.  They were very good.  Ashley and Jason ordered waffle fries, and we all agreed they were the best!

After dinner we went back to the hotel where Alethea spent the rest of the night tearing the room apart and jumping on the beds.  ha ha!  I had to disconnect the phone, the alarm clock, pull the Kleenex box out of the wall compartment (or she would have pulled every single one out of the box), and put anything and everything else I did not want her to destroy up and out of reach.  Of course, the next morning, we put everything back where it was.  

The next morning after we had a continental breakfast at the hotel and checked out, we headed to downtown Wisconsin Dells.  The first thing we did was stroll their river walk.  That was where the first picture in this post was taken. 

The river walk is short, but so pretty.  If you're ever in the Dells, be sure not to miss it!

The Wisconsin Dells is a popular tourist destination, especially for Milwaukee and Chicago residents.       The city is known for the dells of the Wisconsin River which is a scenic, glacially formed gorge that features striking sandstone formations along the banks of the Wisconsin River.  However, the drawback of the Dells, is that all the land is privately owned.  You can not see the Dells unless you're willing to shell out $$$$ to take a boat ride or duck ride (or you own a boat yourself).  These rides cost at least $30.00 per person and usually involve very long waiting lines.  Plus, the Dells are divided into the Upper and Lower Dells, so if you want to see both, you have to pay twice.  It actually really bothers me how touristy the Dells are.  I wish this land was made into a National or State Park so people of all income levels could enjoy it.  It's an issue my husband and I disagree on, because he is always against "Federal land grabs".  I understand why, and I'm usually against it to, but at the same time, I hate to see a beautiful area profited on and available only for the elite to see.

In the picture below, you can see some of the boats docked that are used for Dells boat rides.  Although tours were available this day, we did not take a boat ride because it was so cold.  I do hope to come back in the summer with my husband to take one of these rides so I can see the Dells.

In the meantime, we just enjoyed what little view we could see from the river walk.

Alethea has gotten so cute with the camera since my last "Grandma and Me" photo shoot.  She's starting to smile for the camera, like she knows we are taking pictures of her.  She seems to really enjoy having her picture taken.

This pretty wooden bridge was on the river walk.  The building in the distance was a restaurant that had great river views and outdoor patio seating.

The river walk was nicely paved with lookouts, benches,  and nice street lamps.

After strolling the river walk, we walked downtown.  Even though it was early Sunday morning, most of the stores were open.  We couldn't believe how many fudge shops there were!  We finally decided on this one because it was the largest, and cutest.  We purchased a turtle, some dark almond bark, and enjoyed some free hot cocoa while we shopped.

Even though I only live two hours from the Dells, I've only been there once when I was a little girl.  I had no idea how large their downtown was.  It reminded me a lot of Branson.  We definitely need to go back and some more time there.

The area had a "European Village" feel.  It seemed they were trying to appeal to all the different old ethnic groups from Milwaukee:  Polish, German, Swedes, etc.

Even though we were all still full from breakfast, we stopped in a cheese store and enjoyed lots of free samples of cheese.  My favorite was a bleu cheese!  We also enjoyed sharing an order of fried cheese curds!

The downtown was decorated for fall and it was fun stopping and taking some fall photos of Alethea. My daughter and I agreed though that we wish it wasn't so cold and we could have worn pretty fall outfits instead of winter coats!  That's always been the problem with the Wisconsin climate.  We really only have two seasons:  summer and winter.  

I found this Polish Restaurant and I almost died!  I'm almost 100% Polish;  when I looked at their menu, I recognized a lot of the foods I grew up with.   It was too early in the morning so we didn't eat there, but if I'm ever in the area again, we will!

Have I started to bore you yet with an overload of Alethea photos?  ha ha!  I can't help myself,  she is just too cute!  I look at these pictures and I just ache to see her again.  Just a few more weeks until Thanksgiving and then I will have her in my arms again.  I just adore her so much.  Such a cutie pie!

I just love her joy, especially for people she loves.  She has such an inquisitive nature.  I know all babies/children do, but she seems to be overly inquisitive, which is why she tore the hotel room apart.
She is always off exploring everything.  Such a doll is she.

Next week, I will begin a new travel series:  our trip to South Dakota.  I know so many of you have been patiently waiting for that!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

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