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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Travel Tuesday: 10 Fun Things to Do in Colorado

Hello my blog readers. This Tuesday, I'm taking you all to Colorado for my third Travel Tuesday post! So far, for my Travel Tuesdays, I've shared 10 Fun Things to Do in Chicago, and 10 Fun Things to Do in the Quad Cities (where I'm from). Today, I thought I would share our favorite places and things we experiences on our Colorado trip last summer. We had such an awesome time, and it was one of our favorite vacations so far!

So, without further ado, here are 10 Fun Things to Do in Colorado:

1. Rocky Mountain National Park
To me, one of the best things about Colorado is the scenery and the natural beauty that surrounds you when you're there. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular National Parks in the U.S., and for good reason. I don't think there's any place like it. We had a lot of fun exploring in the mountains and taking in all of the breathtaking views this park has to offer. This is definitely a must-see if you visit Colorado.

2. Garden of the Gods Park
Another really cool place we visited is Garden of the Gods Park. The rock formations here are some of the most awe-inspiring things we've ever seen. With the contrast of these sharp, red rocks touching the blue of the sky, it's easy to see how it gets its name. It's a very inspiring place to visit, and we really enjoyed our time here.

3. Shopping in Estes Park
Estes Park is a neat little city with tons to explore. It's home to Rocky Mountain National Park, but there's more than just the park here. There are also so many cool little shops and restaurants to experience. We liked the Taffy shops, and there are also souvenir shops galore. So don't forget to do a little shopping while you're here.

4. Ride to the Top of Pike's Peak
Some people choose to drive up to the top of Pike's Peak, also known as "America's Mountain." That's one option - we chose to take the Cog Railway train up to the top! It was a really great experience, and seemed to us like it would take the stress out of driving up and down the tall mountain. Either way you choose, it's a scenic ride up, and there's nothing like being at the very top looking down upon nature's beauty.

5. See a Game at Coors Field
If you're a baseball fan, Coors Field has so much to offer that you might not get to experience in other ballparks. We liked the really open outdoor area around the park. There are outdoor bars around the ball field with a ton of seating so you can have a different game-viewing experience than just sitting in your normal seats. You can also get a view of the game from the Mile high seats, and see the Rocky Mountains in the distance while you're at it.

6. Seven Falls
If you have some extra time while you're in the Colorado Springs area taking in Pike's Peak or Garden of the Gods, I highly suggest visiting The Broadmoor Seven Falls park. It's a nice little trek to get to the falls, but once you make it there, the sights are breath-taking. Seven cascading falls trickle down among these huge rock formations, and you can even climb the treacherous stairway to the top if you choose. We did, and the view along the way was totally worth it. A cool experience all around!

7. Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
We drove the Peak to Peak Byway while we made our way north from the Colorado Springs area to Estes Park. It technically runs just outside of Golden, CO up to the town of Estes Park (or vice-versa). It was definitely one of the most scenic drives we've ever experienced. Being from the plains of Illinois, a nice change of scenery like this was definitely neat to see. This road takes you up through mountains, and you get to see real-life "babbling brooks" climbing the rocky paths alongside of you.

8. Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
It was surreal for us, seeing this park and amphitheatre in person. We had seen it in photos and on TV, watching our favorite bands play here in concert. And to actually be here in the park and climbing the amphitheatre steps was so cool. You feel so tiny next to the giant red rocks in this park, and looking out into the huge landscape in front of you is really awe-inspiring.

9. Royal Gorge Bridge & Park
This was another must-do on our list, that was worth going just a little bit out of our way for. It's one of the highest suspension bridges in the country, and it is not for people who are deathly afraid of heights! Walking across this bridge, you feel a hint of awe, and a whole lot of terrifying. But just look at the view! Totally worth it.

10. Manitou Cave Dwellings
Last but not least, if you're in Manitou Springs and have a couple of hours to kill, there's a really cool place within the rocks called the Manitou Cave Dwellings. These were actual homes for Native Americans settling in this area. You can walk through them and see what it was like for them living in these cave dwellings carved into the red rocks of Colorado. It was a pretty cool experience!

Of course we couldn't do everything in a week, so these places are still on my Colorado Bucket List:
I hope you enjoyed reading this list as much as I did making it! If you're planning to visit Colorado in the future, maybe this will give you some ideas. And feel free to pick my brain in the comments below if you have any questions!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Four-Year Blogiversary

Today marks FOUR YEARS since I started blogging regularly on this little space on the web. In January of 2013, I decided to regularly document our progress with our century-old home, and from there, it turned into so much more than just a home renovation blog.
I've not just documented home improvement projects on here, but I've been able to document our lives. This blog has allowed me to share my thoughts on decor, along with some fun, inspirational and photo-filled posts, too. From travel posts to recipes, and even wedding planning - this is like my little creative exploration space, and I thank each and every person who has stopped by and checked this blog out or featured it on their own site.

I've had fun writing and putting posts together, but I think it's been the most fun being able to capture moments from our lives that we can now look back on and remember like they were yesterday.

I hope I can continue documenting our home and our lives for years to come! And maybe provide inspiration for someone else's next home project, craft, or future travel plans! So thanks everyone for reading and for your continued support. It's been a great four years. :)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Hall Closet: Getting a Floor and Walls

Yesterday, we started working on our hall closet again. We're hoping to get it finished soon! It only had a subfloor and some framework when we started yesterday afternoon, and then Trent laid the wooden floor:

It's a floating floor, so no nails required. The wood panels "lock" together. We got a set from the Habitat ReStore a few years ago and finally got to put them in! It didn't take too long for Trent to get the floor down, since the space is super small.

Then he started on cutting the drywall and screwing it into the studs. He got the walls about halfway up before he stopped for the night.

I think he did a pretty good job so far. It feels like some good progress for just one day!

It's cool to see this little hall closet coming together. And after taking a break from working on the house for a while, it's also pretty satisfying to start another reno project and see the space taking shape.

So what's next? Well, after the walls are all up, then the cracks and nails will need mudded and sanded. We'll also need floor trim and a threshold put down in the doorway. Then we'll prime and paint the walls and ceiling, and install some shelves.

I can't wait to store my towels, vacuum, and cleaning supplies in an efficient manner for once! Progress is nice. :)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hall Closet Work in Progress: The "Before"

A little over 5 years ago, in 2011, we put a new hall closet. It's a tiny closet, but we wanted to utilize this wasted space to store our vacuum, brooms and mops, and maybe some towels and cleaning supplies. Since we first put it in, it's been unfinished, but we've still been housing some of these things in it nonetheless. Here's that space as it looks now:

We decided to start working on finishing the closet this month. So today, I cleared it out, and Trent has been starting the floor.

I took some "Before" photos, and we hope to make significant progress in the next couple of weeks. I'm glad it's starting to move along today, and I can't wait to see our finished closet! I have some Pinterest-like dreams in my head for it.

Here's the full closet, top to bottom. I had to stand on the steps to take these photos and actually get the whole closet in view. :)

Here's the subfloor - We're now putting in a floating wood floor with some flooring we got super cheap at our local Habitat ReStore a few years back.

We picked up a sheet of drywall at Lowe's yesterday; I don't think it will take much to finish these walls. The space is so small.

I'm hoping to share some in-progess pictures soon, and will keep you updated on the closet reno!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Art I'm Digging

With the presidential inauguration going on today and all of the political posts we've been seeing on social media, I think it's time for an escape in the form of some beautiful art, don't you?

One of my New Year's resolutions for this year was to draw more and make more art. I'm still working on that goal! I haven't motivated myself to pick up a pencil or a paint brush yet. I think I've just been too exhausted when I get home from work that all I want to do is just lounge on my couch and watch a movie. Note to self: Instead of a movie, draw or read! That's my goal for the year. Maybe I'll start on Sunday when I'm home all day!

So in the mean time, and as a little escape from all of that political stuff going on, I thought I'd share some art I've found online recently that caught my eye.

Heidi Annalise
I recently discovered Heidi Annalise's art on Instagram. I love that she paints landscape scenes inspired by the natural world around her.

She also sells her tiny landscape paintings in her Etsy shop. You can find the above paintings right there in her shop. So cool.

Cathy McMurray
There's totally a theme to the art I'm loving right now. I found Cathy's art on Pinterest, and like Heidi, she also paints nature scenes inspired by her surroundings. She has a different style though - a bit more modern and abstract.
You can find the above print on her website. I also LOVE these mountain paintings:

Ok, that's all the nature art for today. :) I'm going to try to get myself motivated this weekend to make art. Or be crafty. Or maybe start on a house project.. Hmmm! We'll see!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Travel Tuesday: 10 Fun Things to Do in the Quad Cities

Hello all! It's time for my second Travel Tuesday post. This time, I'm taking it local. Welcome to the Quad Cities!
I've lived in the Quad Cities area my whole life. It's an area in Illinois and Iowa along the Mississippi River, composed of 4 main cities and their surrounding towns. The four cities are Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline in Illinois. We live in a smaller town, a little southwest from the cities on the Illinois side.

The Quad Cities (IA/ IL):

Trent and I have spent a lot of time in the Q.C. over the years. I went to college in both Moline and Davenport, so he would come up and visit me on the weekends, and we'd go out to eat, go to baseball or hockey games, concerts, etc. And we still enjoy eating out and attending different events there, all the time.

So, if you're not too familiar with this area, here are 10 of My Favorite Things to Do in the Quad Cities.

1. River Bandits Baseball Games
The Quad Cities River Bandits are a Class A affiliate of the Houston Astros. The baseball park is right on the Mississippi River, and it's been voted the best minor league park in the U.S.! There's an outdoor bar/party area, a zipline, and a huge Ferris Wheel. We've ridden the ferris wheel, and the view is pretty awesome. It is always a good time watching the Bandits play and hanging out with friends there.

2. Attend Summer Festivals and Fairs
Every summer in the Q.C., there are always a ton of festivals and fairs going on! There are outdoor music festivals like Heartland Jam, River Roots Live / Rib Fest, and Bix Fest. Then there's one of the biggest fairs in the area - the Mississippi Valley Fair. Tons of people flock to this fair in Davenport to attend the awesome country and rock concerts at night. We've seen a ton of artists perform there, including Blake Shelton, Montgomery Gentry, Miranda Lambert, and Darius Rucker.

3. Explore Area Breweries
The Q.C. is home to several small-town breweries, on both sides of the river. There is nothing better than sitting outside on the patio on a nice day, sipping a local brew and hanging out with friends. One of our favorite local breweries is Bent River in Moline, which makes the popular Uncommon Stout, as well as my favorites: Raspberry Wheat Ale, Mississippi Blonde, and JalapeƱo Pepper Ale. Another  brewery we enjoy is Front Street Brewery, located downtown Davenport.

4. Restaurants and Nightlife
There are so many good restaurants and bars in the Quad Cities, that there are even some we've wanted to try but haven't had a chance to go to yet. Some of my favorite restaurants in Moline include River House (pictured below)Johnny's Italian Steakhouse, and Brix. In Davenport and Bettendorf, there's Azteca, Antonella's, Crust, Biaggi's, and so many more. And the best bars are always downtown!

5. Mallards Hockey Games
The Quad City Mallards are a minor league hockey team that play at the iWireless Center in Moline. I had never been much of a hockey fan and had never gone to any games - until I met Trent. One of our first dates was to a Mallards game, and it was actually a lot of fun! We like to get groups of friends together and go from time to time, and we always have a blast.

6. Walks By the River
Sometimes when you're not sure what to do, or you just want to walk off that huge dinner, you can always take a walk along the beautiful Mississippi River. LeClaire Park in Davenport (pictured below), is one of our favorite places to walk along the river. There's also Ben Butterworth Parkway in Moline, which has a great river front area, too. Trent and I had a picnic day-date there for our third date. :)

7. Museums
There are a few big museums here that are always fun to visit. If you like art, there's the Figge, located in downtown Davenport. Bettendorf has a really nice family museum (though I haven't been there since I was a kid!), then there is the Putnam Museum in Davenport, which is a history and natural science museum. I've been there several times, both as a kid and as an adult. They have an IMAX theater, which shows some pretty cool educational films, and they even play The Polar Express at Christmas time.

8. Niabi Zoo
Niabi Zoo is a smaller zoo, but the only one in the Quad Cities area. It's located in Coal Valley, just south of Moline. I remember going there as a kid, and Trent and I have gone back from time to time as adults. Even though I feel sorry for the animals kept in captivity, it's a fun place to visit on nice days, and would make for a great place to take your kids or family. My favorite animals there are the giraffes!

9. Concerts at The I-Wireless Center and The Adler
The iWireless Center in Moline is the main event and concert arena in the Quad Cities. They get the biggest artists and acts, and Trent and I have been to countless concerts there! Together we've seen artists like Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Dave Matthews Band, Brad Paisley, and Dierks Bentley there. Not a year goes by that we don't attend at least one or two concerts at the "i-Wi." The Adler in Davenport also books some great acts. They mostly have local plays, but we've seen both Counting Crows and O.A.R. there. It's a smaller, more intimate venue, so it's easier to get a better view of the stage.

10. Shopping and Antiquing
Last but not least, The Q.C. has plenty of shopping and antiquing going on, if that's your style. There are 2 main malls here - Northpark on the Iowa side, and Southpark on the Illinois side. The malls are a little bit outdated, but Davenport and Bettendorf also have a ton of stores independent from the mall, like TJ Maxx and Marshall's, Ulta, DSW, Old Navy, and a Banana Republic Factory store. I also love to go Antiquing, and downtown Rock Island and Moline have some great antique stores. Le Claire, Iowa, just up the river from Davenport, has some of the best little shops and antique stores in the area. It's a cute historic town that's also home to Antique Archeology, the American Pickers store.

So, no matter what your style, you're sure to find something fun to do in the Quad Cities! I hope this little travel guide to the Q.C. helps you find the best places this area has to offer. :) And if you have ANY questions about the area, I would be happy to help!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Life in 2017

It's a nice Sunday today - not too incredibly cold, and no bad weather yet - though it's supposed to be coming! I thought I'd bring you all up to speed on what we've been up to so far this year, and where we're headed.

So far, 2017 has been pretty great, but nothing too terribly exciting. We've been making a few trips up to the cities so far this year. We went shopping last weekend and got new phones. Then this weekend, I had a tire light on in my car and found out I have a tire sensor that needs to be replaced, so I had a car appointment yesterday in the Cities to figure out what was wrong, and we'll have to go back next weekend, to get it fixed. While we were there, we did some shopping, took advantage of the after-Christmas sales still going on, and have gotten to eat out a couple of times.
Last weekend was Texas Roadhouse - Love that place. Then this weekend, we ate at Crust again. Remember those amazing beer-battered cheese curds? Definitely the best cheese curds ever. We got those as appetizers, and were so full after that we could barely eat our pizza! :)

We also tried a couple of beers there. I got a Lionstone Peanut Butter Wheat beer. I tried it one other time before - it's locally brewed in Geneseo, Illinois, and it is delicious! Trent got a Cherry Blond ale from Great River Brewery (also a local brewery), and he liked that, too.

Friday night, Trent got some pizza from the place down the street from us, and Saleen clearly wanted some of it. She couldn't leave Trent alone while he was eating it. It was pretty cute. :)

She can't resist that pepperoni pizza!

Today we've been cleaning - doing laundry, dishes, and mopping the floors with our new Swiffer Wet Jet! We've gotten a few other new things for around the house lately, too. I bought a new wine rack, some new wine glasses, and a bathroom scale with my Target gift cards from Christmas. This is the first scale we've owned in the 6 years we've been in this house! It was pretty exciting. :)

Then yesterday, we got new pillows for the bed from Bed, Bath, and Beyond - here is the link to them online. They are pretty fancy - kind of tempur-pedic, and have a special cooling gel inside. Last night was our first night sleeping on them. Not too bad! My neck has been hurting when I wake up, so I needed a new pillow that was a little better for it. I hope this one helps!

In the way of renovation projects, I think our first one is going to be finishing the hall closet. We put it in when we renovated the hallway, but haven't finished it yet. Here's a look at the closet after we put it in:

It still needs drywall, a floor, and some shelves. It's small, but I think having it finished will help us be a little more organized. Plus, we'll have a nicer space for our vacuum, the Swiffer, and our bath towels.

So that's how our 2017 has been going so far in a nutshell. I'm hoping to start some renovating soon!

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