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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Comparing Kayaks

A fair warning - today's post is all about kayaks. It's a subject that's been on both of our brains a lot lately, and Trent and I have found it to be a fun hobby, even though we haven't been able to go much yet. We hope to change that soon, though. We've been on the hunt for new kayaks for a while and seem to be close to finding the perfect ones for us.

In this post I've put together some thoughts and tips as we look for our perfect kayak, and maybe it will help others on their hunts as as well. So if you're on the hunt for a new kayak, or a soon to be first-time kayak owner, or maybe you're just interested in our kayak-search story - read on!

A little backstory - last year we sold our Pelicans and have been searching for the perfect new kayaks to replace them. The Pelicans just didn't fit us as well as we would have liked. The first time we went, it was fun but not as relaxing as we wanted it to be. I think that not being able to test them before we bought them, and being a little naive to the world of kayaks, we just ended up buying the wrong kind for our needs.


We found the Pelicans to be a little more "rocky" and less stable. We want something that we can just hang out in, have fun, and be comfortable. And not worry about possibly tipping over in the process! So we sold them and planned to get something else.

We've done our research since then and have looked at a lot of places and several different kinds of kayaks. We even had fun testing some out. Here's what we learned so far, and why we're thiissss close to getting our new kayaks!
  • Pelicans - the first brand of kayaks we bought - tend to be on the cheaper end, and so far, it's shown. Our first round with the kayaks wasn't horrible, but when you compare the Pelicans with the pricier brands, it's easy to see you get what you pay for. We can even tell the difference in the plastic material that the kayaks are made of. Pelicans are super light, so they seem to be carried and tossed around by the water easier.
  • The frontrunner for me is the Perception Conduit 9.5. With the Perception kayaks, the material is seemingly more durable and less "cheap-feeling." And I immediately felt comfortable when I sat in this one. When I took it out on the water, I knew this would be my next one.
    The seat was comfy, there are knee pads on the sides, and it felt so much more stable. So I'm 99% sure that this will be my next kayak. My next step is finding one in a store locally.
  • The stability is all in the Hull! We learned this, unfortunately too late. This is the secret to whether or not your kayak is going to be stable, or if you'll be worrying you're going to tip over the entire time. Trying and sitting in different kayaks, we learned that the flatter the hull (bottom of the kayak), the less likely it's probably going to tip. But if the hull is at a steep "V" shape, it's built more for speed than stability and is probably going to rock back and forth more in the water. The Emotion kayaks we rented at Loud Thunder were the most stable we've sat in yet. These are on the shorter and wider side, so they are built for easygoing paddling and stability.
  • There are so many different brands and types of kayaks. There are sit-on-top kayaks, sit-in kayaks, and tandem kayaks. They range in size - I would say on average from about 8 feet long to 13 feet. There are kayaks built for beginners, some built for sea and some for calm waters, some for going fast, and some for fishing. Brands include Pelican, Emotion, Perception, Ascend, Sun Dolphin...the list goes on. It can be difficult to choose which one is right for you. That's why we're still looking almost a year later!

I think the best thing you can do is just follow your gut. If you sit in one or get to try it out, and it feels right, then go for it. Once I find that Perception kayak locally, it will be mine! :) Then Trent is going to try it out and see how he likes it. I think Trent is getting a little closer to finding his perfect one, too. 

So if you're like us and are searching for that perfect kayak, good luck! Just remember, don't make the same mistake as us and get the first ones you set your eyes on. It takes time to find the perfect one. Happy hunting!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Garden Update

Hello again! And Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there! I went out with my family to celebrate on Friday night, at Pizza Ranch. We closed the place down! It was a good time.

But it's time for a garden update today. It's been a couple of weeks since we got the plants in the garden, and well, they haven't grown too much. We've had a rabbit problem, as in - they keep eating our plants! 


We even had to replace a couple of tomato plants (thank goodness we have some extras!) And, this has also been an unusually hot and dry June. Usually by now the weather is decently warm and we get several inches of rain. This year, the weather has been really hot - 90's almost everyday, and we have barely gotten any rain this month.


Today we spent the day in the yard, taking care of some weeds around the walkway area, and watering the garden. We finally picked up some more tomato cages for the rest of the tomato plants, too.


But although the tomatoes have been slow going, the corn has popped up, along with the potatoes. Overall I'd say the garden is doing decent, but a little slow due to the lack of rain. And let's not even compare it with the neighbor's! :)


Well, at least we're trying! Hopefully we get a good crop of veggies this summer!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My Favorite Bloggers, Now in Podcast Form

Hey guys! If you haven't heard by now: Young House Love has a Podcast. And that's literally what said podcast is called.

My favorite home bloggers, John and Sherry, are at it again. And you know I endorse every new endeavor and product they come out with. They are partly what inspired me to start a home blog of my own! So when I found out about their new Podcast yesterday, I was immediately listening and subscribing. These two are the most fun and entertaining people.

Screenshot from here
I listened to the first episodes, and they are awesome! I laughed out loud, and learned some pretty interesting home-related facts, at that. I invite you all to check it out here. (It's free, and you can also find it and listen on the Podcast app if you have an iPhone - it comes pre-installed on most. Don't worry, I didn't know that app existed until now either.)

I'm now a first-time Podcast listener. :) Looking forward to hearing more of John and Sherry's entertaining banter and mad interviewing skillz in the future. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Kayaking Fun at Lake George

Well, we haven't bought new kayaks yet, but we did get a chance to rent some for a couple of hours this past weekend at Lake George. The last time we went kayaking on this lake was in 2014, almost 2 years ago. It was what really got us interested in getting our own kayaks and going more often.

I think one reason is because of the kind of kayaks they are. They're smaller, 8 foot Emotion kayaks, and they are super stable. There is such a different between these and the Pelican ones that we had. These are much more stable and a little easier to maneuver in my opinion.

It was so nice to be out on the lake again! I forgot how calm and serene this lake is. It's in the middle of Loud Thunder Forest Preserve, so there's so much wilderness all around you.


It's also not too busy, so at times you feel like you have the whole lake to yourself. It's nice that they still rent out kayaks and boats. Not much has changed since the last time we were out there - it's still just $8/ hour per boat. The boats do look a little more worn from a lot of use, but they still work just as well. And they no longer rent the boats out down by the dock - there's now an office at the top of the hill where you sign the boats in, then go down and take them out, and pay for them afterward.


We did a couple of hours again - we got there a little late, after we planted the garden, so we just went from about 4:00 to 6:00. We definitely got a little bit of sun though! It was pretty warm, but a nice day that got a little breezy after a while.


Even though I felt really comfortable in these kayaks, I still am almost 100% sure of the next kayak I want to purchase - the Perception Conduit 9.5. It fit me like a glove! You can read more about that here. I can't wait to get our own again, so we can go whenever and wherever we want. We should have more time to go now, since all of the wedding planning is over. :)


We were representing Ohio and the East Coast, drinking a little Yuengling that we brought back from Columbus! I wish we had it here in Illinois.


It was such a nice day, and a great way to kick off another beautiful weekend.


If the weather stays this nice all summer long, I have a feeling I may be spending way too much time outside! It's only the beginning of June, and I have plenty of color on my arms - my shoulders might be a tad burnt. ;)

Either way, it really doesn't get any better than this. You really feel like you're alone with nature when you're on the water out here.



I wish we could have gotten a little closer to some Canadian geese that were out here on one of the sandbars. I don't think I got a picture of them, but it was pretty cool to see. It was a little too shallow to get close, though.


All in all, another fun day of kayaking! We're hoping to get some new boats soon, so we'll be able to go out more often. There are many more memories to be made out on the water!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

More Flowers and More Pots

So, last month I got a bunch of pots on the front porch planted with flowers. I still had a few more pots leftover that I didn't get filled, so I decided to save those for the backyard. Sunday, Trent had to work, so I stayed home, enjoyed the nice weather, and planted more flowers.


I had two big planters by the garage and about 6-7 smaller pots to fill.  We had gotten some more annuals at the grocery store on Saturday, so I had plenty to use. I got some pink and purple Petunias and a few more Dusty Miller.

It got a little warm out, but I finally got all of my smaller pots done, along with the larger ones by the garage.


These are two of the planters leftover from the wedding. I filled them with a few petunias each, and four Dusty Miller plants in the back. They should spread pretty nicely. Of all of the flowers I've gotten for pots through the years, petunias always seem to do really well.


And voila! I'm now DONE planting flowers, hopefully for the year! 


The rest of the afternoon was spent doing laundry and 2 loads of dishes, and then putting down new mulch in the front and side yards. By the end of the day, I was totally exhausted!

This was the mood that Saleen and I had going on Sunday afternoon....


Tired, and covered in mulch and dirt from head to toe! A nice shower was sounding pretty good by the end of the day!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Getting the Garden Planted

Well hello all! It's been a few days since I blogged, but that doesn't mean I haven't been getting things done! The last couple of weekends we've had amazing weather, and we've definitely been outside enjoying it. Of course, a lot of it was spent doing yard work, but it was still nice to be outside in the beautiful weather.

I'm happy to report that we finally got our vegetable garden planted this year! A little late start, but we got the garden all cleaned up, and the tomato seeds I planted were growing taller and were ready to finally plant.


The vegetables Trent planted were even ready, for the most part. Some of the jalapeƱos hadn't sprouted yet, but the others were growing like weeds.


Trent went over the garden area one more time with the tiller before we planted, just to make sure all of the dirt was nice and loose.

It's a pretty big space, and we took up the entire area this year. We definitely have a lot of plants!


Trent did the planting, so I handed him the plants, and snapped the photos (and supervised, as always). :) He did a pretty good job, though.


Our plants are still pretty puny, but hopefully they'll get a little bigger and get more substantial, so they can hold their own against the weeds that seem to always take over. We're determined to keep them in better check this year. I guarantee we'll be out there often checking on them and keeping them well-watered!


We only planted maybe 1/3 of the tomato plants. We'll have to figure out what to do with the others. We had way too many! We do need to buy a few new tomato cages, though. The cages we do have, have seen better days...


Besides a few different varieties of tomatoes, we also planted cucumbers, butternut squash, peppers, corn, potatoes, and watermelon.


And now, we play the waiting game and get ready for some yummy veggies! Even if our garden does look the usual completely sad next to our neighbors'. :)


Hey, it's not a contest, right?!  More yard work adventures to come...
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