Appreciation, beach, Having fun, Lifeventure SoftFibre Trek Towel, Prize winner, Thankfulness, vacations, Writing

I’m a Winner! (For real!!)

 

I'll be lounging right here this summer with my brand new beach towel!!!! YAY!
I’ll be lounging right here this summer with my brand new beach towel!!!! YAY!

Lucky me!  I just found out that I’ve won a gorgeous Lifeventure SoftFibre Trek Towel from the wonderful Le and David at their fabulous blog Wise Monkeys Abroad. I encourage you to check out their blog; they’ve traveled to so many wonderful places and share amazing pictures and stories from their trips.

It’s funny, earlier today, my eldest daughter and I were discussing our annual trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  The beaches there hold so many special memories for our family.  It’s a nifty coincidence that I would win a beach towel on the same day that I was so reminiscing about the sunny shore!  I can’t wait to take some great pictures of my new towel on the beach this summer.

Thank you so much Le & David!

blogging, Having fun, love, marriage, nature, organic food, photography, Travel, vacations, wedding anniversary, Writing

A Wild and Wonderful Weekend

My husband an I had an anniversary weekend that equaled the awesomeness of our past 13 years of marriage.  We travelled to the picturesque Canaan Valley region of West Virginia and spent a romantic three days in a lovely log cabin. Believe it, or not, I’ve never stayed in a cabin before,  This one was super cute with a fireplace, hot tub, and all of the other amenities that I love while “camping!”  Here’s a shot of the back of the cabin.  Somehow I neglected to take pictures of the inside, but trust me, it was adorable.

This is the back view of our little cabin.  It overlooks a very active stream! (photo by me)
This is the back view of our little cabin. It overlooks a very active stream! (photo by me)

The campground couldn’t have been more gorgeous either. Right beneath our back balcony was a little stream bursting with the biggest golden and rainbow trout I’ve ever seen.  I think their size had quite a lot to do with the “trout chow” vending machines that were conveniently placed near many of the ponds and streams.  For just a quarter, you got a huge handful of trout food that created a true feeding frenzy each time a pellet hit the water.  The sheer number and activity of the fish made the water look like it was a boiling, seething mass of fins, tails and open mouths.  It was probably the best show I’ve ever gotten for a quarter!

Our view of the cliffs from the cabins balcony. The Potomac river is nestled beneath the trees at the base. (Photo by me)
Our view of the cliffs from the cabins balcony. The Potomac river is nestled beneath the trees at the base. (Photo by me)
a huge golden trout in the stream behind our cabin. (photo by me)
a huge golden trout in the stream behind our cabin. (photo by me)

 

There was also a rather skittish duck family residing in and around the banks of the stream behind our place, too.  I can’t fault their nervousness, as I can imagine that more than once some kid has accidentally pelted them with trout chow.  I did manage to get a few careful shots with my zoom.

This family was easily frightened.  It took some patience to get a picture of them. (Photo by me)
This family was easily frightened. It took some patience to get a picture of them. (Photo by me)

My absolute favorite part of the weekend was watching the muskrat couple that also shared the stream behind our cabin.  I’d never actually seen a muskrat in the wild before.  My first glimpse of them was on the bank, and I immediately mistook them for groundhogs, as their body shape and coloration are so similar.  As soon as they slipped into the water, I caught sight of their long “rat-like” tail and knew immediately what they were.  (Don’t let their name fool you, though they are of the rodent family, they’re not rats.  Their closest relatives are lemmings, mice, and voles.)  These muskrats had dug a channel of tunnels all along the banks of the stream, and it was a delight to watch their very busy antics.

Muskrat love!! (Photo by me)
Muskrat love!! (Photo by me)
They were so cute swimming through the stream!  (Photo by me)
They were so cute swimming through the stream! (Photo by me)

This wasn’t my first foray into this wilderness, but it was my healthiest. This area of the state is well-known for a plethora of outdoor activities and were determined to get in our share of swimming and hiking. The swimming part was well taken care of by the huge saltwater pool at the campground.  I got up super early each morning to get in 30 minutes of swimming to start my day.  Mornings are often chilly in the mountains and I think most of the jacketed people I passed on the trail to the pool thought I was crazy.  Luckily, the water was much warmer than the 55-60 degree air and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

On our last visit, over ten years ago, my excess weight really slowed me down.  I’d desperately wanted to hike the Seneca Rocks Mountain Trail, but only made it about a 1/4 of a mile up the steep path.  This time, I hiked the entire trail with no problem. We also visited Blackwater Falls and enjoyed the trails and views there.

The picturesque Seneca Rocks (Photo by me)
The picturesque Seneca Rocks (Photo by me)
Crossing the bridge to the trail's start.  (Photo by me)
Crossing the bridge to the trail’s start. (Photo by me)
Almost to the top! (Photo by me)
Almost to the top! (Photo by me)
I made it!!  A view from the top.  (Photo by me)
I made it!! A view from the top. (Photo by me)
The awesome view from the observation area!  (Photo be me)
The awesome view from the observation area! (Photo be me)

The only thing that was a problem in this area was finding fresh, healthy food choices. Eating out wasn’t an option since the restaurant choices were either fast food, or greasy diner fare.  Luckily, the cabin had a fairly well-equipped kitchen. However, the only grocery store choice in this area was sadly lacking.  Nutrient-weak iceberg lettuce was the only salad choice and the rest of the produce section was extremely sparse. Fortunately, I did find some nice lean chicken and a few veggies to grill up during our stay–and an awesome watermelon (my favorite fruit) for dessert.

On our last day there (our actual anniversary), we traveled to Thomas, WV to eat at the Purple Fiddle with its clean, simple, homemade, organic fare.  I had an awesome turkey and pesto hummus Panini and my husband had a jalapeño turkey wrap.  The Purple Fiddle is well-known for its live music, and we arrived just as Bob Keel was beginning his first set of original, folk, and classic covers.  Funny thing is, Bob is actually from our area, and my younger daughter, who does Contra dancing has heard him play many times.

Lunch at the Purple Fiddle.  (Photo by me)
Lunch at the Purple Fiddle. (Photo by me)
Great music from Bob Keel.  (Photo by me)
Great music from Bob Keel. (Photo by me)

Before leaving Thomas, we visited the fabulous little riverside shops where we found our usual anniversary gift to ourselves; a piece of local art from wherever we’re visiting.  This piece not only summed up our wonderful weekend, but the past 13 years of marriage that we’ve shared together!

Not the greatest photography on my part, but this is the print we got at The White Room Gallery in Thomas, WV.  For more work by this artist visit his etsy site www.theartseth.etsy.com
Not the greatest photography on my part, but this is the print we got at The White Room Gallery in Thomas, WV. For more work by this artist visit his etsy site http://www.theartseth.etsy.com
blogging, enjoying family, Exercise, Having fun, losing weight, love, Travel, vacations, wedding anniversary

Anniversary Adventuring

A lovely view of Seneca Rocks.  (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
A lovely view of Seneca Rocks. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

This coming Sunday will be our 13th wedding anniversary.  I know they say that marriage takes work, but I can honestly say that it sure hasn’t felt like a chore being married to my sweet, loving, easy-going husband.  It also hasn’t felt like we’ve been together nearly 15 years!  Time has a way of zooming by when you’re truly happy, and I’m certainly that. 🙂

We’ve decided to do a little adventuring to celebrate our special day. Last night, my husband booked a cabin, near Seneca Rocks,  for next weekend.  As a native West Virginian, I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by the natural beauty of my state, and the area that we’re travelling, has a lion’s share of gorgeousness. (I’m providing links to each place so you can see why they say West Virginia is “Almost Heaven!”)  In addition to the beautiful mountain trails and rock formations of Seneca Rocks, there are several other attractions that are within a reasonable driving distance of where we’re staying. Spruce Nob, the highest peak in WV is in the Seneca Rocks area, as are the Smokehole Caverns, a natural hideaway for moonshiners.  Nearby Tucker county boasts the Canaan Valley, with its lovely Canaan Valley State Park and  Blackwater Falls State Park,  destinations with surreal landscapes tons of hiking potential.  Though it’s a rugged drive, Dolly Sods Wilderness area, part of the Monongahela National Forrest, not only offers awesome views, but features landscape and plant life that is common in southern Canada.

I’m sure we won’t make it to all of these spots in one short weekend, but I am determined to climb the mountain trail at Seneca Rocks.  The last time we were there, I was carrying a considerable amount of weight on my body (and I’m not talking about the weight in my backpack!). I was far too out of shape to complete the hike. This time, I know I’ll be able to make it to the top.

This area is truly like Disneyland for the outdoorsman/woman.  I plan to get lots of outdoor exercise in and to make healthy meal choices (luckily, I have a kitchen and outdoor grill at the cabin).  I’ll also make sure to take tons of pictures, too!

What unique or special attractions does your area boast?  Tell me about them; I’m always looking for a new place to visit! 🙂

blogging, Exercise, vacations, Writing

My Happy Place is the Beach

00happyplaceWhere’s that place you go to in your head when you’re bored, can’t sleep, feel stressed, or just need a mental vacation?  My happy place is  most definitely the beach.  It’s not just the salty air, the roar of the waves, or the surf and sand on my feet that makes me crave the shore.  It’s the entire experience of being in a coastal town.  I love the architecture, the décor, the casual clothing, the seafood, the artsy shops, and the locals, but most of all, I love the attitude of relaxation that seems to exist in a town by the sea.

Here in about six or seven years, my husband and I will be able to fulfill our goal of moving to the Outer Banks.  In the meantime, I have lots of other goals to complete here in my waveless, sandless little corner of the world. That doesn’t mean that I can’t have lots of reminders of my favorite place surrounding me.  Last night, I decided to do a little blog redecoration.  I decided that my “Cakes” header is entirely counterproductive as I strive to lose a few more pounds and maintain a healthy weight.  I thought my online space needed a little touch of shore life, too.  I took the header picture in Kill Devil Hills, NC and the mermaids in the background certainly seem to disappearing!

Speaking of disappearing—it’s time for me to head to the gym! 🙂

Have a great day, everyone!!

Where’s your happy place? 

 

beach, blogging, Crafting to lose weight, Exercise, vacations, weight loss journal, Writing

Rest for the Rested? Yuck!

Friday evening, I ended up at our local hospital’s emergency room. Low blood pressure combined with dehydration, and borderline low iron (from a premenopausal issue that I’ve been dealing with for the past six weeks), had me very light-headed and weak.  After many tests, I was given fluids and allowed to come home. Thankfully, the doctor didn’t feel that my diet or exercise plan was the cause of my problem; it is the lovely six week-long period that I’ve been having 😦 .  His instructions were to call my regular doctor to be seen as soon as possible, get plenty of fluids, eat foods high in iron, take an iron supplement, and rest.

I’ve put the call in to my doctor and am now waiting for her reply.  Fluids? Check.  Foods high in iron? Check. Iron supplement?  Taken.  Rest?  Reluctantly.  Very reluctantly. Since Saturday I’ve been mostly sitting around and it doesn’t bode well with me.  I like being busy.  On Saturday, my daughters cooked my husband’s birthday dinner, while I hung out with him in the family room and made shell ornaments.  By Sunday, I was in dire need of crafting supplies, and my husband offered to take me on a quick run to Michael’s Arts and Crafts store.  I was excited to find beads and frames on sale for 40% off. Woo Hoo!!!  (It really is those little things in life that make me happy!) I also decided to pick up some Envirotex Lite Pour-on High Gloss Finish ( a clear polymer resin) and some, clear colored glass tiles and rounds to make faux stained glass window hangings.  My husband decide that it was time for me to have my own drill for installing eye hooks, so we swung by Home Depot and he got me a small Dremmel drill and some bits.  Even though I’ve built stage sets and used real power tools in my younger years, he doesn’t seem to trust me with his tools. Yet, years ago, it was him that I drove to the ER after he almost  amputated his finger with a circular saw.  Go figure! 🙂

So today, I’ll be waiting for the doctor’s callback, drinking tons of water, and arranging pretty pieces of glass in very nifty, weathered, “beachy” frames.  The weather conditions here are too humid for working with resin, but I can make my plans. The resin and glass window hanging in the background of this picture uses the same technique as I’ll be using.  It was purchased at one of my very favorite places, the Seagreen Gallery in Nag’s Head, NC.

I didn't make the lovely resin and cut glass window  hanging that's in the background of this pic, but the ones I plan to make will be using a similar technique. (Photo by me)
I didn’t make the lovely resin and cut glass window hanging that’s in the background of this pic, but the ones I plan to make will be using a similar technique. (Photo by me)

If you drop by, say hello; I’m not going anywhere! 🙂 

beach, blogging, Crafting to lose weight, Having fun, Travel, vacations

Making the Beach Last Just a Little Longer

We returned from our vacation Saturday on evening to clean house, nearly stocked refrigerator, and a freshly mown lawn, thus confirming the sheer awesomeness of our children.  Though we had mounds of things to unpack, my only desire was to brew a big cup of coffee and spend the rest of the evening catching up with them.  Only our oldest daughter was home, as my youngest daughter was officiating a wedding while her fiancé was doing the wedding photographs. By 11 pm everyone was home and we stayed up well into the night chatting and laughing.

On Sunday, I meant to start my unpacking and laundry early in the day, but I just couldn’t bring myself to begin the activities that signaled the true end to our vacation.  Instead, I grabbed a bucket and some towels and took the huge pile of seashells that we collected out to the patio to wash and sort. My daughters joined in, and a couple of hours later we had a bucketful of gorgeous, sand-free shells.

After this task, I should have accepted my fate and turned on my washer, but the sparkling clean shells beckoned a trip to Michael’s Arts and Crafts store for display jars and other beachy accoutrements.

Of course, Michael’s didn’t let me down, and I soon had ten lovely jars of King Triton’s treasures to decorate with and give as gifts.

Just a few of my shell jars! (photo by me)
Just a few of my shell jars! (photo by me)

At one of the craft shops in Nag’s Head, I bought this little ornament and decided to break out my beading tools to make a few, (well, maybe more than a few), of my own!

An oyster shell ornament from the Seagreen Gallery in Nag's Head, NC. (Photo by me)
An oyster shell ornament from the Seagreen Gallery in Nag’s Head, NC. (Photo by me)
One of the shell ornaments that I made. (photo by me)
One of the shell ornaments that I made. (photo by me)
Another of my creations. (Photo by me)
Another of my creations. (Photo by me)
Another ornament made by me. (Photo by me)
Another ornament made by me. (Photo by me)
Beachy goodies! (Photo by me)
Beachy goodies! (Photo by me)

 

 

 

 

Finally, around bedtime, I’d conjured up the gumption to begin unpacking.  As, I sit here preparing this post, my washer and dryer are thumping and humming their welcome home song.  My butt may temporarily be planted in my recliner typing, but my heart is most definitely still at the beach!

My husband hung this by out front door last night.  Beachy houses don't always have to be near the actual beach! (Photo by me)
My husband hung this by out front door last night. Beachy houses don’t always have to be near the actual beach! (Photo by me)