Monday, December 21, 2020

The 2020 LaCrosse Rotary Lights and Christmas Break Announcement

I will be taking a two week Christmas Break to celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  I will return after the New Year.  In the meantime, enjoy these holiday light pictures from the LaCrosse Rotary Lights.  This light display is in the top ten holiday light show in the state and we are very fortunate to only live within an hours drive.  We don't make it there every year.  The first time we were there was in 2017 and then we went back in 2018 with our granddaughter, but we haven't been back there until this year.  We were in the area hiking the Lower Hixon Trails and by the time we had dinner it was already dark, so we thought "Let's go see the Rotary Lights".  I was glad we did, because they added a lot of fun new attractions, like these cute photo frames to take your picture!

My daughter and her family had to return home early Thanksgiving weekend because her husband had a plane to catch the next day, but my son was able to join us!

There were a few thing different this year because of Covid, like the children couldn't sit on Santa's lap but they could still visit him in a window.

They also didn't have a full choir or all the nativity stations filled with live biblical characters.

But Santa's reindeer were still here!

Someone had a great sense of humor and put masks on all the reindeer. 

Here is another photo shoot opportunity.  I loved this one!  So romantic by the fire place.  They had so many spots where you could take great pictures.

To our surprise, the carriage rides were up and running this year.

I don't know when it was built, but they appeared to have a new amphitheater.  My husband and I were awestruck at the amazing construction of it.  The wood beams were incredible!

Here is a close up on the underside of the roof.  Isn't it amazing?

They still had Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus in the nativity section.

You can also sit in Santa's Sleigh to take pictures too!  

 Pretty incredible, eh?  There is another light display slightly closer to home that we hope to take our grandchildren to when they come home for Christmas, but the LaCrosse one is definitely the best!

Have A Merry Christmas!  Amy

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Lower Hixon Trails In LaCrosse Wisconsin

Well this week will be the last of the fall hiking adventures.  And for those of you who have grown tired of seeing pictures of hiking trails, I can hear your sigh of relief through the computer screen. 😁 We did spend almost every weekend hiking this fall, and I didn't even show you all our hikes, just the ones I thought were most "blog worthy".  But all good things must come to end, so this will be the last hiking trail post, then I'm taking a Christmas break to spend time with the family, and I will be back with some trips we took this past summer.

If you remember THIS POST  we hiked Grandad Bluff in LaCrosse, Wisconsin;  while there we could see other beautiful bluffs in the distance.  My husband saw those bluffs and said "I wanna be up there!".  So we looked at a map and we saw there were many more hiking trails called the Hixon Trails;  they are divided into the "Lower Hixon Trails" and the "Upper Hixon Trails".  Because my husband wanted the views, we took the Lower Hixon Trails (Why they are called that when they go up to the scenic bluffs and have great viewpoints, I have no idea.  Ironically, I couldn't see any viewpoints on the Upper Hixon Trails, which are mostly used for mountain biking.).

Depending on where you start on the map, this is the grand view you end up seeing:  Lookout Prairie.  It is totally worth the hike up the bluff!

Now, we didn't do much research before starting this hike, so we ended up hiking a lot of extra miles.  We should have parked our car in the Hixon Forest Parking Lot then our hike would have only been 3.6 miles.  Instead we parked at the Trail Access by the Aspen Trail and ended up hiking the Aspen Trail (0.65 miles), the Log Loop (0.55miles),  the Bicentennial Trail ( 1.8 miles), the Vista Trail (around 3 miles)  to the Savannah Trail (0.3 miles), to a Connecting Trail, back to the Bicentennial Trail, back to the Log Loop  , and finally back to the Aspen Trail.  I have no idea how many miles that ended up being but we barely made out of the forest by dusk, and we were all aching the following morning.

However, in spite of its length, all the trails were gorgeous...even without any foliage on the trees.  We usually hike in the summer or fall, so my husband and I were commenting how nice it is even to hike once all the leaves have fallen because you can see through the dense foliage and get more distant views. 

If all the trees had their leaves, you would never be able to see the bluffs in the distance as you can in the picture below.

In case you're wondering who the young man is in all my photos, that is my son.  These photos were taken Thanksgiving weekend when he was home to visit.

In the Hixon Forest Parking Lot is "Pooh's Lair". My son couldn't resist having some fun with this dead tree.

There are two magnificent scenic lookout points on the Vista Trail:  Vista Prairie  and Lookout Prairie .  The first one on the trail starting from the parking lot is Vista Prairie.

After admiring the views we hit the trail again to find the next lookout point and came across this beautiful wooden bridge.

The next look point was the most magnificent of the two:  Lookout Prairie.  The sun was just starting to go down making it hard to see, but at the same time providing beautiful sun photos.  People were starting to gather up at the top to watch the sunset.  Unfortunately we couldn't stay for that because we had a much longer walk back to our car than they did and we did not want to be walking through the forest in the dark.  

 The Driftless Region is certainly a beautiful part of the country!

After enjoying the views, we hurried as fast as we could down the bluff.  After consulting the map, we discovered the fastest way down the bluff was to take the Savannah Trail to the Connector Trail so we did that and it saved us a lot of extra steps and time.  We made it out of the forest well before dusk, so we headed out for some delicious burgers; we were ravenous!  But believe it or not our walking did not end there.  We decided to take in the LaCrosse Rotary Lights while we were already in the city.  They are always so beautiful and considered one of the best Rotary Lights in the state.  I will post a few pictures of them on my "Holiday Break" post.  

Have A Great Day! Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Handmade Christmas Cards and My 2020 Christmas Cards

On Sunday I shared my home decorated for Christmas.  Be sure to check it out HERE if you missed it. In that post I discussed how I wrapped my presents all in white Kraft paper and used teal/minty bows to bring out the teal color in the tree.  I also mentioned that I made my own tags to match the tree and that I would back to give you more details on the tags.  Well here I am to explain how I made the tags and also to show my 2020 Christmas Cards.

To make my tags I used my Cricut Machine, glitter and plain white paper, and gel pens.  Now I realize not everyone has a Circuit Machine, but I feel you can still make snowflakes without one by either tracing a snowflake image off the internet onto glitter paper and hand cutting it out, or by using the old Kindergarten method of folding a piece of paper and hand-cutting multiple times (see this great tutorial HERE).

I luckily had a three varieties of blue and green glitter paper already in my stash, so I didn't have to buy anything for this project.  I cut two layers of snowflakes, one in white and one in glitter paper.  I did this so I could write the name of the recipient on the white center part of the tag.  The cartridge I used for this project had the option of having the center of the snowflake left in place or not;  so I removed the center of the glitter snowflakes but left it in place for the white snowflake.  When the two snowflakes were put together, I had a nice open white space to write a name using a gel pen.

I purchased three different varieties of blue and teal ribbon from Hobby Lobby.  I was shocked that they didn't have hardly any ribbon left in this color.  I was hoping to get more to add to my tree, but no such luck.  Only one of the three ribbons matches the mint in my tree, but that's ok, because the three together provide a nice blend.

All the bows were made using wired ribbon and my Bowdabra,

And here is my tree with all the pretty presents underneath waiting to be opened by little munchkins.

Next, I'd like to show you my Christmas Cards that I sent out this year.  I actually stopped making handmade Christmas Cards years ago.  I found them too time consuming and the cost of postage too high, so I switched to just sending out a photo card with a year-in-review message printed on back.  This year, I decided not to do that.  I just didn't think I could bring myself to write a review of the year because, well you all know, we've all had a difficult year.  I didn't want my annual Christmas Card to be all about Covid, because then Satan gets the glory instead of Jesus.  So I decided not to send out Christmas photo cards at all.  But then the Lord reminded me of several friends and family that had a tough year.  We've lost so many loved ones this year;  none of the losses were due to Covid but to other diseases like cancer, heart disease, and dementia.  I thought those people really needed to be reminded how much we are thinking of them and how much God loves them.  I also had a few friends that I haven't been able to spend time with (once again Covid is to blame) so I wanted to send them a Christmas Card too,  so I ended up making ten cards. I usually send out forty cards, but this year I narrowed it down to ten.

When designing my cards, I wanted to keep them as mail-friendly as possible so no extra postage was required.  I also wanted to keep them as simple as possible since I was mass producing them (I failed on that one).  But most of all, I wanted the cards to remind everyone about the real meaning of Christmas.  This is what I came up with:  each card is slightly different, so I will walk you through the differences of each set. 

Because I wanted to keep the cards mail-friendly I aimed for a one layer card.  That idea failed quickly because the stamp/coloring bleeds onto the back of the card stock.  So then I decided to use glitter paper for my background, and attach that to the white card base.  Then I stamped my ornaments onto a metallic card stock and gold heat embossed the sentiments.  All the nativity images were hand colored in using Copic Markers.  I used the thinnest, flattest metallic ribbon I had to "hang the ornaments" and topped each with a small bow.  Not very mail-friendly I know.  I still only put a regular postage stamp on the envelope, so we will see if the cards make it to their destination.

In the picture below, the card on the right was the first card I made and the most mail-friendly.  The ornaments are stamped directly on the card stock, and colored in.  Then I hand drew a line.  This was all done on a separate piece of card stock to prevent bleed through.  I then adhered this main panel to a card base so it is technically a two layer card.  To give it some sparkle, I hand stamped a snowflake background and sprinkled it with glitter.

But because I wasn't happy with the original card design, I "added more".  The card on the left is how most of the cards ended up.  I used small dimensionals to "Pop" the ornaments up a bit from the glitter paper.

In the card on the left (close up underneath this picture), I was still exploring how to make my cards "special" while still being mail-friendly.  So here I tried stamping on colored card stock, then just gluing the ornament to the glitter panel.  

I put yellow glitter glue on the center of each star.

I used all different kinds of glitter paper backgrounds.  I never could decide which glitter paper I liked the most.  Which one is your favorite?

I know the dimensionals did not make the cards mail-friendly, but I really preferred the cards made with them and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that make it ok to their destination.

With the exception of the first card, all the ornaments were hand cut.  It was the hand cutting plus the coloring of the nativity scene that was the most time consuming.

If you're wondering about the stamp set, it's an old set from a company that is no longer in business called "Crafty Secrets".  You can still find some of their sets for sale on Etsy, Ebay or Amazon.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

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