Tuesday, June 27, 2017

DC Trip Take Two:  If you haven’t read part one of our trip, scroll down and check it out.  Otherwise, continue on…
Antietam:  Just a quick drive from Harper’s Ferry is the Antietam battle site.  If you have seen the movie, Glory, you will recognize this as where the movie opened.  It is such a sad story of a battle where about 23,000 soldiers died, were wounded or went missing.  Exiting the car, I immediately had a pit in my stomach, which was never eased until we left the site.  One of my favorite parts was climbing up the huge tower and seeing the views from all four sides.  There is also a cute town nearby with ice cream.  The drive on Harper’s Ferry Road from Antietam to Sandy Hook was just incredible.  It was a curvy, narrow road surrounded by trees, and it felt so relaxing, yet exhilarating to drive on it. 
Monticello:  The next day, we woke up early, checked out of our hotel, and began our journey home.  First stop-Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson.  This is a place my husband has always dreamed of going, and I was so excited to acquiesce to his request.  I can’t tell you how wonderful this place was.  Although it was hot, humid, and relatively expensive for our family of four ($110), I believe it was worth every penny.  There aren’t huge signs or fanfare leading up to the property, but a secluded drive through a forest of trees.  Once you get there parking is lush, green and shaded.  You pay and are taken up by a shuttle for your house tour.  The tour guides are so kind and knowledgeable.  The house exterior was beautiful, and the view was breathtaking.  He leveled the top of the mountain for the property, and one can see miles of green and blue hillside shrouded in mist in the distance.  Each room was filled with inventions from way before their time, and my vintage loving self could not soak in enough, especially the dining room.  A garden tour and slavery tour are also included with the price of admission.  His gardens made me drool with envy, and I saw my first artichoke plant in real life while there.  The slavery tour was humbling, as their lives must have been so incredibly hard.  I couldn’t fathom being separated from my family, let alone the food rations, the forced labor, or other worse atrocities they endured.  After trying out our calligraphy hand and buying some ice cream for our son, we headed down the secluded trail to Thomas Jefferson’s burial ground.   It is a private cemetery still visited by his relatives, and there were flowers on his and his family’s graves. 
The walk up to Monticello

The back view while waiting for the Garden Tour

 Jefferson's Garden (only a small portion)

 I saw this pretty web on the tour, and in the middle was a little yellow spider.

The view (the picture doesn't do it justice)

VA: After Monticello, we found a Comfort Inn in nearby Charlottesville nestled among the trees.  On the concierge’s recommendation, we visited Shadwell’s Restaurant, which was absolutely gorgeous and delicious.  The photos on the wall were beautiful scenes from the nearby Appalachians.  They even had a vegetarian Quinoa Burger, which my husband devoured.  My daughter and I had the Spinach Manicotti, which was also delicious, and my son loved his salmon.  We went back to the hotel and the pool was outdoor, but almost like swimming in a forest, due to all of the trees.  It was such a wonderful close to a perfect day.
WV: The next day we officially began our journey home.  We drove through West Virginia, which is so picturesque, and I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to stop and visit one of the little towns off the highway.  West Virginia was by far one of my favorite states to drive through on the highway.
West Virginia Entering KT

KT:  It was still beautiful and green all the way through Kentucky.  Kentucky has the horse capital of the world, Lexington, but unfortunately, I only saw one horse.  Both Lexington and Louisville were such pretty cities to drive through, full of cool bridges, rivers, and neat skylines.  On the border of Kentucky and Illinois, we ran out of gas two miles from the exit.  It was so scary having Dan and the kids push the car while I steered, thinking someone might hit them.  We were almost to the exit.  Thankfully, a woman with two of her friends and her baby stopped and gave me a ride to get some gas. 
 I believe this is Lexington, KT.

IL:  When we stopped for the night, it was in Southern Illinois, which is very different from Northern Illinois.
MO:  The next leg of our travel started with Missouri.  Missouri was also picturesque to drive through.  The trees started to dwindle out, and there were some pretty rock formations.  Both St. Louis and Kansas City were fun to drive through, though we didn’t stop.
NE, IO:  We kind of drifted between the borders of these states, and didn’t really stop, but it started to look more and more like what we are used to in North Dakota, being a little more flat, and trees, but not quite as lush.
SD:  One of my absolute treasured memories of the trip home was Sioux Falls, SD.  When we rolled into town, we went directly to the falls and they did not disappoint.  The mist that rose from the falls almost smelled like the ocean.  The downtown was so hip and beautiful.  We ate at a restaurant called Crave, and we were so glad we did.  It was a beautiful restaurant, and everyone there was dressed so nice, I felt a little self-conscious as we had travelled all day and it showed.  The food was just as beautiful as the restaurant and people, and even more delicious.  Our heads rested well on our pillows that night. 
 Sioux Falls, SD

ND:  We returned home, through the rolling green plains, and then home to our Magic City, with its hills and its trees, and my kitty who I missed immensely. 
My friend

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

To see the country and make memories with my spouse and children is such a gift.  We had the pleasure of driving through 14 states in the last two weeks.  We started in our home in ND, and took a road trip to Washington DC for National History Day.  This is a great competition for children from 6th -12th grade which gets them excited about history through projects.  If you are curious or want more info, here is the official website:  https://www.nhd.org/
It is such a beautiful, but such a long drive from ND, and therefore we usually split the trip into three days.  However, seeing sights and research make me want to give out some travel tips if you are ever in the area.
ND- I will start with Fargo.  Being from ND, we go there from time to time, and although we didn’t stop there on this trip, I have some tips.  There is an awesome hotel there called The Element.  It is not only beautiful, but they give you free appetizers and drinks during the evening.  The breakfast at this hotel is original and hot, and they even have veggie options.  As for restaruants, Rhombus Guys has extraordinary pizza, and I have heard and wanted to try a place called Vinyl Taco.  Fargo has many festivals, including a Dylan festival in April and many others. 
MN-When driving through Minnesota, I always want to stop in Fergus Falls and visit the old state hospital building.  It looks like something out of a ghost hunting episode.  It would probably be so formidable to see in real life, but I have only seen the top of the tower from the highway while whizzing by.  The rest stops in Minnesota are just gorgeous and covered in trees.

                                                    Old State Hospital, Fergus Falls 

WI-Entering Wisconsin, we always pass Wisconsin Dells.  They have multiple water park hotels, and even a spooky water feature called Witches Gulch.  You can take boat rides through it.  We always stay in Madison.  What I love about Madison is the University.  I also love to stay at the Hampton Inn across from the East Mall area.  It is a great hotel.  Madison has a children’s museum which is also a school.  I hope this type of learning environment catches on throughout the country.
IL-The next day, we usually head through Chicago, Illinois pretty early, but last year we did spend the night there on our return home and get the best Chicago Style Pizza.  I’m telling you what…my daughter usually likes thin crust, but even she devoured it and talks about it to this day.  We purchased it from Rosati’s.  Unfortunately, when headed east, Illinois is where the toll roads start, so be prepared to stop and pay tolls throughout Illinois.
IN-After passing through Illinois and entering Indiana, you just take a ticket and pay at the end of the state or wherever you exit, so the toll stops aren’t as bad.  We didn’t stop much in the Hoosier State, but we did laugh when passing through Gary Indiana thinking of the song from the music man.  Also, this was where Michael Jackson lived as a kid.  We also passed through South Bend, the home of Notre Dame University.
OH-Next, we came upon Ohio.  I always hear crazy crime stories that happen in Ohio, but passing through it was picturesque farms.   There were many classic red barns. 
PA-We usually save our next stop for Pittsburgh.  This city is so vibrant and beautiful, with large bridges covering the large rivers.   My father in law asked my husband on the phone if he could name the three rivers which run through Pittsburgh.  For those who don’t know, they are the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers.  I always want to catch a Pirates Baseball game while there, but the timing never works out.  This year, we stayed at a new hotel, The Drury, which used to be an old Bank.  It was very nice, which means you must be ready to tip.  Everyone expects a tip, and I accidentally didn’t tip the clerk who checked us in.  I think he may have been offended, so I sent my son with a tip to give him after realizing this was a common practice in bigger cities-especially at more expensive venues.  The good news is this hotel serves a free hot dinner, and you even get a free drink.  They also had a good, hot breakfast.  So unfortunately, I have no good restaurant stories from Pittsburgh, but I was planning on going to Sienna Mercato before we realized we had a free dinner at the hotel.  In the morning, our drive turned quite picturesque while driving through the Appalachian Mountains into West Virginia.

The kids and I walking in Pittsburgh

Dan and the kids in Pittsburgh

DC was our destination as in years past.  The nice thing about DC is most of the touristy sites are free, but DC can be hot and humid, so be prepared.  If you ever want to tour the white house, make sure to request a tour three months in advance or you won’t get in.  We did the touristy sites last year, but I believe the Lincoln Memorial was the most memorable.  Beware of hotels looking better online than they actually are in this area. I have stayed at some pretty gross ones (the screen fell off onto my son’s head while he was using the restroom in the gross yellow bathroom that hadn’t been updated since the 60’s). 
The competition was in College Park, Maryland, at University of Maryland.  This is such a gorgeous campus with huge buildings all with grand white columns.  There is much foliage, and I have a feeling it is simply amazing in the Fall.
 The library at University of Maryland with its grand columns
This gorgeous church at University of Maryland

Outside of DC, we visited a must see, which is Harper’s Ferry.  While driving on the tree shaded road to the destination, you actually cross from Maryland to Virginia and then into West Virginia in what seems like one short mile, including crossing over the grand Potomac.  Harper’s Ferry is such a cute old town, on quite a steep hill.  We ate at the Potomac Grille, and all I can say is the indoors perfectly matched the old town, minus a welcome air conditioner (outside was so hot and humid).  The food and service were both equisite.  There was an old church which has ghost tours at 8pm.  I was sad we wouldn’t be there for the tour.  When we got to the bottom of the hill, the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers met in grand fashion, and we just chilled on the banks and enjoyed the view.  We walked barefoot where W.E.B Du Bois walked along the trail to John Brown’s.  The John Brown Museum brings tears to my eyes when seeing how the slaves were treated.  
 The cool church

 You can see the cute buildings in the background

 These were so sad, but it must not be forgotten how we treated our fellow humans
 My love and I in front of the Potomac
 What a view
 This beautiful ruin reminded me of something from a movie
A dad and his son walking and talking and bonding

I have rattled on an on, and think this must come to a close.  When I blog again, we will visit Antietam, Monticello, and the states returning to ND including WV, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.
*All of this vacation was paid for by myself, and none of the businesses or sites gave me compensation to talk about them.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Coming Back to the Blog

I haven't been very active on my blog, and I have decided to get back into it.  In life, I'm trying to learn and take in as much as I can, and also put out positivity for others.  I took a couple outfit pictures this week to show that you can have fun with fashion for cheap.  I have also begun filming vegetarian cooking how to videos on my Youtube channel, which I will link.  I clearly have much to learn about editing, but here is the link if you are interested.  I imagine it will only get better, and hope it is helpful to others.


The name of this first ensemble is "Purple and Pearls"....

The story behind this outfit is very cheap.  The skirt was purchased in the clearance section at JCPenney for less than $10, the shoes were on clearance at Target for $6, and the shirt was purchased at a used clothing store for $2, so it may be from the 90's, but it is originally from Express.  The pearls were from Avon back in the day.  The whole ensemble was less than $25, but it made me feel like 1 million dollars.

It was a big day of business at work, so I wanted to look the part.   I had to give an address in front of a room full of University Faculty.  No matter how many times I do it, it never gets easier.  My heart beats to where I can feel it in my chest.  I don't know if it is social anxiety, or if it is normal.  Do any of you suffer from this physical symptom?  The day was a blur of activity, and I was so happy to return home and make a meal for my family.

I think I will name Outfit #2 Wild Side...

The dress and shoes were purchased on clearance from Target for less than $10 each, the cardigan was purchased at a used clothing store for $3, and the necklace was my grandmother's, and I inherited it when she died.  This is another outfit that cost less than $25.  I know it is wild to mix patterns, but I thought these two worked together, and the neutral shoes toned it down.  I hope you all enjoyed my outfits, and I would love to see some that you have pulled together in the comments.

An Unfortunate Accident

A fun night of games with the family could have been tragic if not for the observant peepers of my family.  A while back, we were playing games around the coffee table.  Behind me, on the fireplace mantle, was a candle.  We were laughing and playing, and I got a bit naughty and tried to cheat.  When I was caught, I laughed and leaned back, and my long hair got close to the flame.  When I sat back up, my family looked at me shocked and said, "Your hair!!"  I quickly patted the flame with my hands to deprive it of oxygen and was able to get it out.  Sadly, though, I lost my long locks.  It definitely could have been worse, and I am so grateful it wasn't.  I am bummed I wasn't able to donate them to people in need though.  In the future, I will be much more careful around candles, and I hope you are too.


Friday, June 3, 2016

The Healing Power of Nature

There is a beautiful park by my house, which I like to stroll in.  Whenever I go, I am calmed and also amazed, whatever season it may be.  When I am there, things in nature evoke thoughts and memories, be it a green smell, a beautiful flower, or a family of geese that reminds me of my family.  Life can be so wonderful at times, but it can also be hard.  The wonderful thing about nature, is it comes back every season the same.  Sure, there are subtle differences in temperature, or the way the plants grow, but a certain plant will remind you of a happy memory, and in that, it is constant. 

 This reminded me of my family.

These beautiful purple flowers were so fragrant, and looked striking against the green.

Wild roses

My love running through the park


Saturday, April 25, 2015


The drum beat reverberated off the walls and ceiling, shaking the floor.  In danced the Natives in their colorful garb and feathers.  In front of them danced the Veterans of Foreign wars, followed by the women-- members of the VFW. There was a woman dressed in blue with a peacock headdress dancing in the group with Evelyn. Behind the peacock woman, the men looked like warriors. They were dancing in a different fashion than the ones ahead.  Their dances were elaborate and they spun around while dancing.  The air smelled of sage.  Standing alongside me was my boss George, and he said, “They burn three herbs.  First, they burn sage to rid the evil spirits.  The next herb they burn is an offering, and the third herb is to protect.”  The women dancers followed the warriors and the children followed the women.  There was one child who looked to be no more than three years old being led around the circle.  After a pause, where we clapped for the Veterans with their flags, the dancing circle began again.   At the end, the first veteran shook hands with the second and lined up, then the second shook hands with the third and lined up, and so on.   A huge variety for the senses was had by all who attended, from the taste of the fry bread tacos, to the scent of burning herbs, to the sound of drums and the twinkling noises from the large gold beads on the dresses clinking together, to the variety of colors and headdresses for the eyes to take in, to the feeling of the vibrations on the air and in the floor from the drums.
Minot State University Powwow 4/24/15