Wednesday, February 23, 2022

A Winter Hike At The Skyline Golf Course In Black River Falls, Wisconsin

Winter in Wisconsin can be so long and tough.  Most years it seems it will never end!  Our winter usually starts some time after Thanksgiving and although rare, has been known to snow even until May.  In fact, May 31st is actually our last frost date and it's not safe to plant until then.  That makes a very short growing season.

A lot of people get depressed in the winter:  they get bored, and they are tired of being cooped up inside.  Hey, my husband built me a huge sunroom so I could have sun and plants all year long so I wouldn't get depressed.

But if you can't build a sunroom onto the back of your house like my husband did, the next best thing is to get out and play in the snow!  There are so many winter sports in Wisconsin:  sledding, skiing, snowshoeing, skating, and hockey to name a few.   Many people in my neck of the woods love to snowmobile and we have snowmobile trails everywhere!  Ice fishing is also very popular.

For my husband and I we love to hike!  I know, I know, you're so surprised since the majority of my vacation posts involve trails we've done.  But yes, if you dress for it, you can hike even in the winter!  If the snow is too deep, then you have to either wear snow shoes or go cross country skiing.  On this day, the snow wasn't deep enough for snow shoes plus it was actually kinda frozen so when we stepped on it we didn't fall through the snow.

My husband discovered through a local magazine that we could hike on a golf course in Black River Falls.  Golf courses are so pretty in the warm weather months, of course they are pretty in winter too.  This course also allows snow mobiles!  The biggest concern about hiking in winter is that you may not be able to see the trail because it's covered in snow, but this one was very clearly marked with posts and flags.

Now please excuse "me" being in all the photos.  It was Valentine's Day Weekend (read more about our Valentine's Weekend in this post) and hubby was feeling a little enamored with me and took way too many photos with me in it.  I even told him, "Just take some pictures of the nature without me, people want to see the scenery and not just me", but I don't think he listened. 😀

Although we thought the golf course was pretty in winter, we really enjoyed this trail BEHIND the golf course.  I have no idea if it was private property and we were trespassing or if it really was a trail.  It seemed to be a trail as there was plenty of matted down snow and footprints.  At first I thought it was part of the "Foundation Trail", as that one runs near the golf course, but the description says it is paved, and this was more a meandering through the woods.

I did get a 'selfie' of the two of us, since it was our Valentine's Day celebration.  Yes, we're old but we're still in-love and adventurous!

We did wonder if we were lost as we had no idea where we were.  One minute we were walking on the golf course, then we saw this cute little bridge behind the golf course so we decided to check that out, then we looked further and saw all the woods and we decided to explore that.  Before we knew it, we were deep in the woods having a grand old time exploring!  It was an adventure for sure!

What trail it was, and who it belongs too, we have no idea but it had to be a public trail of some sort as there were so many cute bridges to cross.

I always hike with walking sticks, but this was the first time I got to use my "snow tips".  My poles came with many different tips to use depending on the terrain.  The snow tips keep the poles from falling too deep in the snow.  I was so grateful to have my poles as the frozen snow was quite slippery.

We were elated to discover a stream on our "mystery trail".

I'm laughing my head off in this shot because hubby was making fun of me as I very cautiously made my way down this steep snow bank.  As I said earlier, the snow was so slippery!  We had warmer weather earlier in the week, and all the snow started to melt.  Then it got really cold, and the wet, melted snow froze over the snow that didn't melt creating very slippery conditions.

Another cute foot bridge over the stream.

Yay, here is the one picture my hubby took without me in it!

Hiking in the winter is so much fun.  We don't have to worry about bears because they are hibernating.  We don't have to spray ourselves with bug spray.  We certainly don't get hot and sweaty.  And the best part is there's usually no other hikers and we get the trails all to ourselves!

The weather this day was a high of 17 degrees, but with the exception of my cheeks, I stayed toasty warm all day.  I love Under Armor "Cold Gear".  It keeps me toasty warm and I don't sweat wearing it.  To hike on this day,  I wore Under Armour "Cold Gear" top and leggings.  I then put super thick Puma sweat pants over my leggings.  My boots are by Sorel and keep my feet warm to -40 degrees, but I also had on two pairs of socks.  My coat is 100% down filled.  I wore a fleece neck gaiter that I pulled up whenever my cheeks got too cold.  And of course I wore a hat and gloves.

So what about you? Do you enjoy being outside in winter or are you more like a bear and hibernate all winter?  I'd love to hear from you!

Next week I'll be back with another hike we took that very same day in the Black River Forest.  That was a beauty.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!


Thursday, February 17, 2022

How to Style Ponchos and Wraps with Ageless Style

Ageless Style is a monthly style challenge and link up for women "over a certain age".  Each month we pick a different theme and style an outfit based on that theme.  This month's theme is "Ponchos and Wraps" and was picked by Joanne.

Ponchos and wraps are a fashion trend that seems to come and go through out the years.  It's almost as if the trend can't seem to make up its mind "Am I "In" or am I "Out"?  The first time in my life when I remember seeing a poncho was when I was a little girl and Laurie Partridge wore one on " The Partridge Family" television series.  That was in the seventies.  I really didn't see anyone wear them again until my daughter was in high school, that would have been the late 90's/early 2000s.  I remember purchasing a thick, short poncho.  I wore it a few times, but quickly donated it because "it made me look fat".  (I wonder how many clothes have been tossed by women for that reason alone?  😂).  And here we are, another twenty years have passed and ponchos/wraps are back in style.  Now, they never really go out of style.  In certain geographical areas like the American West or Europe people consistently wear them.  But like all clothes, they do trend in and out of popular style.

In my brutally cold climate of Wisconsin, ponchos/wraps are actually very impractical.  We have very short transitional seasons, where a poncho/wrap would get the most use.  Our temperatures are either hot or cold, with a couple of weeks in-between where one could even where a poncho.  They don't fit well under coats, so wearing them in winter is usually not an option either.  Nevertheless, I do have ONE!  I purchased this black hooded poncho in 2015 from a small boutique for $25.00.  I learned my lesson from the thick poncho I purchased in the 90's and this time I grabbed a very thin knit long poncho is a slimming black color.  And guess what?  It actually hung around in my closet for quite a few years!

When putting this outfit together,  I followed the one fashion rule I have for myself:  'When wearing something long and baggy on top, wear something thin and slimming on the bottom.'  So I paired my poncho with these black and grey plaid leggings from Stitch Fix.  Because it was cold out the day these pictures were taken, I wore tall black boots to help keep my legs warm.

The poncho is long enough to cover most of my butt, which I definitely want to do when wearing leggings.  This poncho also comes with a fuzzy hood.  I know it's hard to see in the picture because of the black color, but it's super cute.

Underneath the poncho I wore a medium grey turtleneck.

As I stated in my opening paragraph, ponchos can add some unwanted pounds.  I find belting it at the waist makes me look slimmer in a poncho.  You can do this with wraps too!  

I added a long silver pendant necklace to accessorize the outfit.

And just for fun, here are a couple of other ways I have styled this poncho in the past.  

               With a skirt, tights, and booties.

                              With Brown Denim and Booties

And now be sure and check out what all the other ladies in the group are wearing and be sure to link up your outfits with us as well!

Amy ~ Amy’s Creative Pursuits
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Bo ~ Bo’s Bodacious Blog
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Carrie ~ A Simple Lovely Life
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Joanne ~ My Slice of Life

Jodie ~ Jodie’s Touch of Style
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Leslie ~ Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After
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Marsha~ Marsha in the Middle
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Mireille ~ Chez Mireille Fashion Travel Mom
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Rosemary ~ Distinctly Southern Style
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Robin ~ Hello I am 50ish
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Monday, February 14, 2022

Happy Valentine's Day from Me and Stylish Monday!

Happy Valentine's Day!  I just love Valentine's Day!  It is one of my most favorite holidays.  Our winters in Wisconsin are so long and cold, so Valentine's Day is like a little glimmer of happiness in the middle of winter.   I think even if you don't have a romantic partner, you can still enjoy Valentine's Day.  I celebrate everyone I love in my life on Valentine's Day.  I give all my children and grandchildren cards and gifts, and if I have the time, even my best girlfriends.

My husband and I always try to do something special on Valentine's Day.  Some years we just stay home and I decorate the house and make a nice dinner.  Other years it's "Dinner and a movie".  This year I was itching to get out and away for a little bit so we went to a nearby town only about an hour and a half away and did some winter hiking (I will do a travel post on our hiking adventure in the near future).  Even though we could have easily driven home on the same day, we decided to rent a room and I'm so glad we did because I had no idea our room would be so Valentine perfect!  I mean, a RED chaise lounge in the room!  It was so romantic.

Now, normally the second Monday of every month is our "Stylish Monday" link up.  This month the leaders of the group decided to do something different since it landed on Valentine's Day.  Instead of a link up, they asked us just to do a Instagram post and tag our fellow group members.  I will do that, but I still wanted to do a post and talk about my Valentine's Day.  But there will be no link up this month.

I don't normally buy new clothes for Valentine's Day but I spotted this beautiful peachy/pink blouse at TJMaxx for only $20 and I thought it would not only make a perfect Valentine top but it will be great for Easter and spring too!

I just love the fit of this blouse on me and the sleeves are incredible.  They have an elastic edge and when you push them up your forearm they flounce out so prettily. 

I styled my new top with things I already owned.  It was only 10 degrees the day I wore this outfit, so I wore black tights and tall black boots with my short black skirt.  

For jewelry, I chose a long pink pearl necklace, a multi-strand pink pearl bracelet, and rose gold earrings.

This hotel was so modern and beautiful.  The bathroom was exquisite!

Because it was a small town there were no fancy restaurants to eat dinner, but we still had the most amazing meal.  They had a "Prime Rib Valentine Special" and they allowed us to order the largest size and split it, which saved us like $25.00 that way.  We didn't even finish the whole thing and ended up taking about 1/8 of it home.  It was so delicious!  The meat literally melted in my mouth.

My husband and I each wanted different side dishes so they accommodated that by only charging us $1.50  more for an additional side dish.  

I ordered the Red Pepper soup as one of my side dishes, and it was incredible!  I love butternut squash soup, and it kinda reminded me of that.  I am definitely going to look for a recipe for this soup and try making my own at home, it was that good!

For dessert they gave us little chocolate cupcakes.  The heart pick had some kind of liquor inside the heart.  You squeezed the heart and I put the liquid inside the cupcake.  It was so yummy and such a nice, light dessert after a heavy meal.

Well I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day too!  Please enjoy yourself and celebrate the loved ones in your life whether you have a romantic partner or not.  I know we're supposed to love on people all year long, but it's nice to have a holiday to show some extra special love.  When we were eating our dinner we noticed the restaurant start to fill up with teenagers wearing long, sparkly, red evening gowns.  Eventually we realized there must be a Valentine dance that evening and the kids were grabbing dinner before the dance.  Anyway, we noticed a lot of the kids didn't have dates and many table were "just girls" or "just guys" and we thought it was great that they were getting all dressed up and having a good time whether they had a date or not.

Have A Great Valentine's Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Handmade Valentine Cards and Toilet Paper Roll Valentine "Love Bugs"

I am leaving in seven days to visit my grandchildren for a week.  I will arrive at their house on Valentine's Day and I plan on taking lots of Valentine gifts and treats with me to give to my little "Love Bugs".

I always hand make my cards.  Usually I use stamps, but this year I printed an image I found on Pinterest.  

I printed out these adorable bears, cut them out, and colored them in.  You can find the bear template HERE.

The bears come with a paper heart template.  I used that, but underneath the heart I also added a Love's Chocolate Candy Heart.  It was the perfect size.  It fit right under the paper heart nice and snug.

Now the rest of the project I created on my own.  I didn't want to just hand the kiddos a paper bear, so I made a card to go with each bear.  I used a heart dry embossing folder to create an embossed background for the card.  Then I cut four hearts out:  2 hearts in white and 2 hearts in red.  I used a heart die to cut the hearts.  I cut one of each colored heart in half, glued the half heart to the whole heart to create a pocket.  The bears fit nicely inside the pocket and the grandkids can pull the paper bears out and play with them if they wish.

I then stamped a Valentine sentiment onto white card stock and cut out a banner using a die.  I adhered the sentiment banner to the card with a heart brad.

For my next project, I made each older grand baby a "Love bug" using toilet paper rolls.  I just love making things out of toilet paper rolls.  If you haven't already seen them, I've made Thanksgiving Figures, a Nativity Scene, and even a David and Goliath out of toilet paper rolls.

I totally cased these "Love Bugs" from Pinterest.  The one below you can find HERE

And this cute red Love Bug you can find HERE.

The Love Bugs were super fun and easy to make.  It would be a great craft to make with the kids too!  I'm sure when I'm visiting them we will make lots of Valentine Crafts together.

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!


Sunday, February 6, 2022

A Laundry Room Refresh

Every winter I like to do one home interior project.  I have gone through my entire home refreshing every single room.  All that is left after this winter is my kitchen (I am not looking forward to that) and my upstairs hallway.

This year's project was my laundry room/pantry.  First of all, I could JUST KICK MYSELF, but I have no "BEFORE" pictures to show you.  This room was such a disastrous mess and I was in such a big hurry after Christmas to clean it up, that I forgot to take "BEFORE" pictures.  So please forgive me.  In a way, I'm happy I don't have "BEFORE" pictures because it would have been too embarrassing:  it was a nasty, ugly room no one wanted to spend too much time in!  So in lieu of "BEFORE" pictures, I will give you a "BEFORE" description.  

The room "BEFORE" was painted a bright yellow on the walls and the cabinets were a slate blue.  It was all flat paint so the walls became very dirty over the years.  I'd come in from the garden to wash my hands,  turn on the light switch (covering the area with smudge as I flipped the switch) and wash my hands in the basin.  I never cleaned this room since we moved in.  There were cobwebs everywhere!  When I cleaned it up for renovating I even found a dead mouse behind the refrigerator and a snake skin on the shelf.  YUK!  I'd hate to meet the snake that left it behind.  The walls were covered with old sentimental artwork I didn't want to get rid of ( I finally parted with it!), gift bags, tubes of craft glitter glue, old cards and newspaper articles tacked to the walls...oh my gosh, it was a horrible mess!  It was so over-flowing with crap there was only a foot of walking space to get to the refrigerator and if I wanted to reach something on a shelf, I had to get out a ladder because there was too much stuff on the floor.  I finally reached my breaking point and said "ENOUGH! I have to clean this room up!"

The first thing I did was "Marie Kondo" the room.  I took everything out, and donated a car load of stuff to the thrift store and threw out anything not worthy enough to even be donated.  I removed anything that wasn't a food item, garden item, or cleaning item to another closet.  This room was going to be used strictly for food & cleaning supplies, and also to hold a few garden items that can't freeze in the winter.  Then, I gave it a good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint.  This time I used semi-gloss on the walls so I could easily wipe them down, and high-gloss on the shelves.  I painted the shelves pure white, and for the walls I mixed three different shades of white together to create an off-white color.  I did this so I could use up paint I already had rather than buy more paint.  I spent $0.00 on this room.

The room holds our washer and dryer, the wash basin, a refrigerator, a chest freezer, and a brown storage cupboard.  I live in a house in the country built in the late 1800's so I do have mice.  The food that is stored in the brown storage cupboard is stuff mice could get into.  The mice can't get inside the storage cupboard.  The food mice can't get into (like canned goods) is stored on the shelves. 

On top of the refrigerator I store old towels and rags for cleaning.

There is a long counter on one wall I keep empty so when I buy new groceries I can set them there while I unpack.  The counter is also used by my kids when they come to visit as they bring more groceries than can fit in my kitchen.  I keep a box at the end of the counter for my cat Jackson.  He likes to hide in this room and sleep in the box when the grandkids are over.  It's his secret hiding place, where he feels safe from toddlers. 😂

Underneath the counter I store my winter squash,  dried beans in metal containers, vinegars, drinks, bird food, and more cleaning products.  Mostly big, bulky stuff that doesn't fit on the shelves.

I completed the room by adding a floor rug I already owned but was not using.

I can't believe how much JOY this room brings me now.  Marie Kondo was right!  If it doesn't bring you JOY...get rid of it!  I use to hate even walking in this room, now when I step inside I smile because it's so clean and orderly.  Even the men in my family commented how much they appreciate that this room is clean and orderly now.  I think we were all getting frustrated with the "BEFORE" but no one wanted to take the time and energy to fix it because after all, "It's just a laundry room".

I thought of buying some of those cute signs that say "Laundry Room" or some cute baskets, but you know what,  "It's really not necessary."  I just cleaned it all up and donated so much, why spend more $$$$ to clutter it again?  I love it just the way it is.

Edited Post on 2/7/22 to add:

A reader commented that she had never seen a laundry room used as a pantry before, so I wanted to edit this post explaining how that came about.

My laundry room is located in the sunroom, which is on the lowest level of the house.  My kitchen is upstairs and quite small.  There is not enough room in the kitchen for a large refrigerator or to even to store all the food my family needs. In addition, our upstairs dining room only seats four, so anytime we have company we need to eat at the larger table in the sunroom which seats eight.  

So because of the small kitchen and the large dining area in the sunroom, we thought the laundry room would also be the perfect place to store a second refrigerator, a freezer, and extra canned and dry goods.  It actually works out really well for parties, because I can store a lot of the extra party food in the laundry room fridge and put food on the laundry room counter.  Sometimes, running downstairs to retrieve something when I'm cooking upstairs in the kitchen can be a pain.  But most of the food down in the laundry room is an "extra" and I already have it in the upstairs kitchen anyway.  

In the picture above and below the door on the left leads to the laundry room/pantry.  So the accessibility works quite well when hosting large dinner parties.  I even keep extra dishes in the hutch so I'm not running up and down the stairs for plates and cups.

So what about you?  Do you have a messy, cluttered room in your house that needs the Marie Kondo method?  I'd love to hear from you!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!