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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Back from La Crosse

Hello all, I'm back again. Who else watched the entire first season of Fuller House on Netflix this weekend? I sure did. I loved it! :) Last night I got home from a three-day work conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin. This is the second year in a row I've gone to this one, and my second time in La Crosse. Remember last year? The conference went well, and we had amazing weather this year! It got up to 60 degrees on Saturday. (I'm definitely starting to see the first signs of spring!) We didn't really have time to spend outside, but it was nice for driving.

La Crosse is a river city just up the Mississippi about 4 hours from here, so it's really not too bad of a drive. This year we took the scenic route up, along the river almost the whole way. With the nice weather, half of the ice was melted on the river, and the sun was shining on it. It looked really pretty and made for a really scenic trip. We even saw a couple of bald eagles, and some people were out fishing on their boats.

We stayed at the Radisson downtown and had a view of some of the buildings in La Crosse. (The river was on the other side). The downtown looks pretty cool, though we again didn't really have much of a chance to explore. Right across the street from our rooms was a place called Turtle Stack Brewery, which sounds like a place Trent might like.

And next to this historic-looking building was a sign that said "Sushi Pirate." Sounds interesting, I guess?

The rooms were really nice. Most of the time we ate at the hotel restaurant, but we did eat at The Freighthouse again this year. It's a pretty cool place. It has kind of an old school atmosphere, with a bar on one side and live music. It is not the most vegetarian friendly place, but it does have a small salad bar and a few vegetables on the menu. And no, I didn't get the artichoke this time, though that was very interesting. I went for the asparagus this time. ;)

It was a short trip, but I'm glad to be back home, relaxing, having a lazy day and watching movies with Trent today. The best part of this weekend's trip might have been the pretty scenery. I wish I would have gotten a picture, but I'm sure I'll make a trip back up there again. Who knew Wisconsin could be so pretty? AND it's super hilly up there, too. Lots of rocks and valleys. I bet it would be even prettier in the fall, with all of the trees on those hills.

I always like to travel no matter how close or how far it may be, so I'm excited for the little trips (and the bigger trip to Colorado) that Trent and I will be taking this summer!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Week with the New Couch

Today marks exactly one week since our new couch was delivered. I shared what it looked like the night we got it, but I thought today I would share a few pictures of it during the day. It's been sunny here lately, so the pictures I have are a little sun-filled! But that just makes it more cheery, right? You have that glow effect going on, so it's all good.

We are still loving the couch a week later. It is pretty much perfect, and exactly what we were wanting. The best part is having the space to spread out, and we each have our own section to sit and watch TV.

We've been wanting a sectional sofa for SO long, and to finally have it is awesome. I hope to have this couch for a long time!

Oh, and I haven't talked about the pillows yet! The couch came with 5 pillows, and just like the fabric on the couch, we got to choose the fabric for the pillows, too. There was literally a wall of swatches and fabrics, and of all of the swatches, we chose the above two fabrics to accent the new couch. The blue is a kind of teal - turquoise color, and we've already had bits of that color in the room, so it wasn't a big transition. We didn't really change much at all in terms of the decor in here. I also threw on a few extra pillows on that I already had - the chevron patterned pillow, and the ruffly white ones.

Some furniture had to move upstairs, since the couch is a little bigger and takes up more space than the old one. We lost an end table and lamp since we only have room for one. And the storage bench is moving upstairs, too.

The space the couch takes up is worth it though, because it's not wasted, and will be great for when we have company, too.

So, all in all we LOVE the new couch, and are still just as excited about it as when it was delivered a week ago!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Shopping Day in Peoria

We had a pretty eventful weekend, with a trivia night for charity on Friday night (we tied for second out of about 20 teams!), then shopping all day in Peoria on Saturday. We also had outstanding weather for February - sixties and sunny! That's pretty unusual here in Illinois, but I'm not complaining.

Saturday Trent and I went down to Peoria and had a big day of shopping with my parents and my sister! It started at Biaggi's for lunch, where we had some pretty delicious food.

I'm glad we shopped a lot afterwards and were able to walk it all off, because I don't even want to know how many calories, or carbs I consumed! ;)

We went to two malls afterward, Northwoods and the Shoppes at Grand Prairie. The Macy's at Northwoods is closing this spring, so one of the reasons we went was to check out the good deals. Well, it was a little picked over when we got there. One whole floor was full of just store accessories like mannequins and shelves that they were trying to clear out of the store. A little strange!

The outdoor mall is always fun though, and we had the perfect day to shop. The Shoppes at Grand Prairie has a new Homegoods that opened just after we went last year, along with a Marshall's and tons of other great stores, so I was pretty much in love. That Homegoods was pretty wonderful. I didn't end up taking much home, but it was definitely fun to look!

After the malls, we made a stop at the Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World, which was huge. There was even a seafood restaurant and bowling alley attached. 

And check out all the animal heads that were on the wall as soon as you walked in. (I think this was only half of them!) -

I can see how my dad pretty much feels at home here!

Trent and I did enjoy looking at all of the boats, though. In fact, there was an entire "Boat Center."

It was probably Trent's favorite part of the store. I couldn't pry him away from them if I tried!

Once we found the kayak section though, we started looking a little bit more "seriously." We even watched a little demonstration about fishing kayaks. Which was kind of interesting, except we probably won't be fishing in our kayaks much.

We are, however, looking for new kayaks to replace our first ones that we sold on Craigslist last year. We decided we wanted something a little more stable. We liked the Ascend sit-in kayaks we saw at the store, and the pink one in particular was my favorite. Maybe we'll get new kayaks for Trent's birthday again, since that's when we got the first ones! :)

Finally, I couldn't share photos of this day without sharing the fox bench photo. I pretty much walked right up to this scene of my sister and parents on the "fox bench" by the front of the store.

The moment was just too good not to capture.

Overall, a great winter shopping day that felt like an early spring! I'll definitely take it!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Our New Couch is Here!

The new couch arrived yesterday, and we are in love!! We've only been waiting since we bought it at the end of November! Here it is last night after I got all of the pillows on:

It's a similar color to our old couch, but a little lighter. The old couch was brown, and this one is more of a taupe. It also feels a little bit softer and more velvety. And the best part is that it's a sectional, so we each have plenty of room to lay down now, which is really nice!

Of course I will take some photos in the daytime when I have the chance! Since it is bigger than the old couch, it does take up a little more space. But, it's space that can be used, and will definitely be used a lot! We hope to have this couch for many years to come.

So what happened to the old couch? This was the scene when I got home from work on Monday, the day before the couch was scheduled to arrive:

Trent cleared the living room to make way for the new couch, and we gave the old couch to his sister. We thought about moving it upstairs in the spare bedroom, but there is no space at all up there right now, and we weren't even sure it would fit up the stairs. So the old couch is officially Chas's now! It had a good five-year run, but I'm already having fun redecorating with the new one!

More pictures during the daytime to come. For now, we're enjoying the comfy new couch!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

And Our 2016 Vacation Destination Will Be...

We have decided on our vacation destination for this summer, and it is...COLORADO! I'm really excited to finally explore this state. Every picture I see from here is so picturesque. 

Right now we are thinking late August. Normally we like to base our trips on wherever Dave Matthews is playing that year (hehe!), but since they're playing so close to home this year, we thought we'd finally go somewhere that we just really have been wanting to visit for the past few years. Neither of us have really been here. I only count it as a state I've been to because I have been to the Denver airport on the way to California. But I haven't really SEEN the state, other than from an airplane.

Just researching on the internet so far, it looks like we will have plenty to do here. So many cool mountains and things to explore. We'll be driving, and will probably stop in Denver first, maybe see a Cubs/Rockies game, explore the Rocky Mountain National Park, then head south to Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods, then drive out to the western part of the state for some more mountains and attractions. We're not really skiing people, so a summer vaca in Colorado makes a lot more sense for us. We already have winter here in Illinois! (And it's not my favorite!)

So, here's to more travel memories ahead, and to finally seeing some mountains together. :)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine's Day 2016

Did everyone have a good Valentine's Day yesterday? We had a great one, and a great weekend! It was our first Valentine's day as husband and wife, so it was definitely a special one. We went out Saturday night to one of our favorite places in Galesburg, Cherry Street, for some pizza, then saw the movie Zoolander 2. We're kind of big Zoolander fans, so we enjoyed it, no matter how stupid it may have been!

Sunday night was the actual holiday, and we got a big snowstorm! But we stayed home like all Valentine's Days, and got dressed up for dinner anyway!

We exchanged gifts, then Trent cooked dinner just like he does every year.

Trent got me some Dreaming Tree wine and a card with a sweet note inside. I got Ancestry DNA tests for both Trent and I to do together. We can't wait to take them!

Here's my card from Trent. So cute!

Even though this was our eighth Valentine's Day together and we're married now, it still feels like we're just dating like always. I love when Trent cooks dinner and we get to get all dressed up for dinner at home!

Especially when he looks this cute sitting across the table from me. :)

He made a really yummy dessert, too! Little mini cakes with carmelized strawberries.

We topped it all off by watching the Bachelor special on ABC. Love me some Bachelor! I couldn't have asked for a more perfect Valentine's Day weekend.

Tomorrow I'm revealing where we'll be going on vacation this year, and tomorrow is also a big day, because it's the day we are finally getting our new couch delivered!! So excited! I'll definitely have a post about that soon, too. :)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

DIY Natural Home Cleaners

I have a lot of hobbies. Well, kind of. I like to try new things that I've never tried before. I like to eat healthy, paint, craft, decorate, draw, listen to music, watch movies, kayak, travel...I've tried essential oils, flower gardening, I've had yard sales, I've sold things on eBay, I've tracked my food daily, I have a running list of concerts I've seen and those I want to see, I keep a record of all of the new movies I watch, I blog, I renovate my house, I've even tried baking and cooking a time or two (even though I hate it). Variety is the spice of life, right?

Well, I've now tried something else. Remember when I said I was working on a new project? This is it. I've made my own natural home cleaners. I've seen a lot of these around the internet, just browsing on Pinterest. Some of them have the same ingredients, but there are still a lot of varieties, and they seem to be a lot healthier than the store bought stuff, like bleach, which can have some pretty harmful chemicals and can in turn, do some long term damage to your health.

I decided to make my own natural stuff, for a few reasons. One - with only a few ingredients, we pretty much had them all around the house already, so it didn't cost much to make. Two - I've started having allergies when I'm cleaning, and I'm starting to think some of the products we use around the house may be contributing to them. Three - Using bleach kind of scares me. The smell of the chemicals in it is so potent, it almost burns your eyes and nose. Nothing like this can be good for you, can it? The thought of using bleach to clean a home that we're constantly exposed to - and Saleen (our dog) is exposed to - kind of makes me cringe, so I figure there has to be a natural solution that's better for you, and works just as well.

So I made my own. I actually ended up making three different all-natural products:

  • A Natural Bleach Alternative
  • An All-Purpose Cleaner
  • A Natural Air Freshener

The process was kind of experimental, and a little trial and error. I had never made these before, so I didn't really know what to expect. First I did a little research on DIY home cleaners I found online. I looked at different recipes, and wrote down the ingredients that were most often used in them, then put together my own combination and found what worked for me.

These are all of the ingredients I used:

I also added either Lemon essential oil or Lavender essential oil to all of them (and sometimes both!).

Most of the ingredients we already had around the house, but I did have to find some spray bottles. (That's a story in itself! I'll get to that later.) I found some cheap plastic ones for the time being, but I plan on upgrading them all to glass bottles next time, since by researching I found that glass bottles are the most durable for the types of ingredients used.

Here are the recipes I used for each:

Natural Bleach Alternative:

  • 1 1/2 cups Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 1/2 cup White Vinegar (or can substitute lemon juice for a gentler solution)
  • Distilled Water to fill rest of spray bottle
  • 10 Drops Lemon Essential Oil (don't need this if you are using lemon juice)

All-Purpose Cleaner:

  • 1 cup Distilled Water
  • 1 cup White Vinegar
  • 20-30 drops Lemon Essential Oil

Natural Air Freshener:

  • 2 cups Distilled Water
  • 2 tablespoons Rubbing Alcohol (or can use vodka)
  • 10 drops Lemon Essential Oil
  • 20 drops Lavender Essential Oil

The air freshener was the hardest for me to get right, and the reason I had to buy more spray bottles. The original recipe that I used had Baking Soda in it, which would clog the spray bottle every time I mixed it in! So I definitely DO NOT recommend using Baking Soda if you will be spraying it! Take it from me. ;)

A few more notes:
  • The natural bleach substitute uses a diluted mixture of Hydrogen Peroxide and Vinegar, but these two ingredients in their purest forms create Peracetic acid, which can be a very strong and toxic chemical if not used carefully. So, if you have lemon juice, I've seen some people using this as a substitute for the vinegar. It's up to you!
  • I have not used the bleach alternative to wash or clean clothes yet. I might try it out, as I've heard that it does work. But so far, I've only used it for cleaning purposes.
  • The rubbing alcohol or vodka in the air freshener is apparently not necessary, but its purpose is to help the oils mix with the water, and to help the solution dry faster once its sprayed. I haven't used it enough to tell its effectiveness yet, but I've seen several recipes that use this, so I added it in.
  • I've seen other essential oil combinations used in these as well. I used all lavender and lemon because I don't have many oils, and these two are so versatile and both smell really fresh and clean.

Since this is my first time making these cleaners, I haven't used them enough yet to really judge their effectiveness, but I hope to use them around the house regularly and see how they work over time. If you want to make your own natural cleaners, I definitely recommend researching around the internet and figuring out the recipe that works best for you!

Update - I also recommend watching the documentary, The Human Experiment. It might make you think about the harmful products that you use on a daily basis! It is available on Netflix!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Fitbit, Dave, and Other Random Stuff

I have been seriously slacking around here apparently! It's now February 10th and I have not posted yet this month. So here's a quick, random post just to pop in, until I can share another project that's in the making!

What have I been up to? Well, I'm in the process of experimenting with something that I hope to share about by the end of the week. It's been totally trial and error, and something I had been thinking about trying out for a while. So I am excited to finally share when it's done!

I've been focusing these past couple of weeks on not only healthy eating, but fitness as well. I may have mentioned that I finally got a FitBit for Christmas - well, the first month or so I wore it but wasn't really aware of it most of the time. The only thing that I became aware of with a little time was that I really need to be more active!

Working at a desk all day, it's hard to get those steps in, especially during the winter months. So I've developed a short little workout routine that helps me be a little bit more active throughout the week. I plan on upping my step goal as I go, especially by the summertime, when I know we'll do more things and I can be a little more active on a regular basis.

Something else that I'm super excited about is that our couch is on its way! Remember when we ordered it wayyyy back in November? Because of the customization involved, it had to be manufactured and then shipped to the store. They called us to tell us that it would be coming in soon, so we were able to set up a delivery date! It's supposed to be arriving on Tuesday. Trent is staying home to help the delivery men when they unload it. I couldn't be more excited to get it, and to do some redecorating around here.

We've also been making vacation plans for the summer. Normally our vacations revolve around the Dave Matthews Band tour, but this year, they are actually coming to our area! And of course, we've already bought our tickets!

I don't think we ever get tired of seeing Dave live. That picture is from the concert at Wrigley Field in 2010. Best concert ever.

I'll have a post up soon about where our vacation will probably be this summer. Hint: It's somewhere neither Trent nor I have ever really been before (I've only been to the airport - that doesn't really count, right?) :)

More posts coming soon.. I promise!

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