Saturday, December 14, 2013

Reflections on a Failed "Five Year Plan"

A good friend of mine turned 25 in October.  While celebrating with some wine, music, puzzles (don't ask), and chatting, another friend asked "Now that you're 25, what's your advice for us?". {So when we get there, we'll know what to do with your wisdom.}

Her response:  Don't plan too far ahead, because you never know what opportunities are coming, or what curve balls life will throw at you.  

Right around that time, my mom ran into my ex at a store, almost literally.  They each came around a corner and practically ran into each other.  She said they were each startled, mutter a "hello", and walked on.

To bring these stories together:  I had a "Five-Year Plan" with that man.  It was shattered to pieces when I went off to college and met my now-husband.  And I'm SO THANKFUL for that, because my life would be MUCH different had I stayed on track with my previous plan.

After meeting my husband, I literally said - "You're not in my five year plan."  Luckily, I had the balls to make the choices that have brought me to my happily married life with the best man out there.

On a few occasions lately, my ex has come up in conversations with different friends (they know him and his family).  He is 23, married, with a daughter, and another on the way.  The weird thing about all of this?  It was our five plan, and he's living it with someone else.  He kept the plan going and filled in as needed.

Now, don't read into that the wrong way.  I am so.freaking.glad that I am not in that position!  I made myself go away to college on my own, forcing myself to live a life for me.  I wanted to make sure I didn't stay close to home and compromise my future "for a guy".

Eventually, after many discussions with friends and role models, I made the decision to do what was best for me, and end that relationship.  And now I will NEVER EVER make a five year plan ever again!

A few friends have asked me "isn't that weird to think that would have been you?"  Yeah, it is!  I wanted to graduate, get married, and get pregnant all in the same year.  Thinking about that now gives me the gags!

Wow, how my journey has changed {thankfully}.  I want to enjoy being young, travel, and make memories with my friends and husband before giving in to the responsibility of parenting.

Over five years later, my life is not even close to what I thought it would be at the age of 18.  Thank goodness I'm a stubborn, honest, adventure driven person.  Sometimes it's good to be selfish and make yourself and your happiness your main priority.  Don't get caught up in others' life plans and journeys.

Live your life honestly, with you at the center, and you can end up educated, in love, and happily on the road to a lovely life with the man of your dreams!

So what's the moral of this story?  

*You may or may not know what's best for you when you're 18 years old.
*{Unless you're married}, don't make your life decisions based on other people.
*Don't plan so much - live life and take what comes your way!
*Life your life for you.
*A lot can happen before you're 25.

(Note:  No harm or bad feelings are meant toward the mentioned ex.  This is simply two stories raveling into a greater realization and lesson.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Chicken Wire Window Display

I've had my eye out for an old window pane lately.  You can find lots of ideas for them on Pinterest.  I was mainly thinking of doing some sort of picture frame...  But if you've ever been to my place, you know I have picture frames EVERYWHERE.  I love pictures.  I love being able to look at my friends, family, and memories every day and smile.  But I have plenty for now.

A few weeks ago I went back home to go to a barn sale with my mom.  It happened to be the perfect weekend, because the occasional stores were open in Dassel, MN, so we made a morning of it!  We didn't have too much luck at the barn sale, but proceeded to find some goodies at all of the stores in town.

One of my finds was an old wooden window frame with chicken wire on it.  I don't know if it's for a coop or if the wire was added at some point in its life.  Then in the back of the store, I found an eight-panel window.  UGH!  DECISIONS!  After a huddle with my mom, I decided on the chicken wire window.  Something a little different than the usual.

When we got home, it sat up against our fridge for a few weeks.  I couldn't quite decide what to do with it  Did I want it in the loft, that is slowly becoming more shabby?  In the safari room?  Start taking over the basement?

And then it came to me...

Christmas card display!!  

I bought some miniature clothespins at Michael's, it was probably about $3 for a pack of 18.  You can find these online as well at sites such as Oriental Trading (depending on how many you want).

So as not to put any more holes in the wall, I took down a picture frame that hangs in our living room by the front door.  And I hung up my window!  I didn't paint it, sand it, or fix it.  I left it as is: rugged, uneven and all.  In the future I may paint it or stain it, but for this season, I'm going to let it be itself!

Some Detail
Side View
On the wall!

It definitely adds a little more character and charm to our living room, and I can't wait for the holiday cards to start flowing in so I can add them!  After the holidays, I may simply put new pictures on it with the clothespins.  Maybe my sacrifice will just lead to more pictures being displayed {evil giggle}.

Let me know what you think, or if you have any ideas for its next use!

Friday, November 22, 2013

COMMITTED {a book review} on Marriage

I just finished reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love).  I loved it! I really enjoy her writing and plan on reading The Last American Man written by her as well.  She writes in an honest, quirky, personal way that I can really connect with.  Not to mention she is very intelligent and has lots of life experience for a younger woman.

So...on to the book.  I think everyone should read this book before getting married.  She gives a lot of history, experience, and world insight about "the institution of marriage".  She is divorced and never wanted to remarry, but life gave her an interesting hand when it came to marriage.  So she goes on an all-out-mission to learn everything she can about marriage within her family and around the world.

A few standout portions of her book:

(Page 48)  She talks about a woman traveling to the US in 1919 and writing home about the crazy fact that people had the "expectation that every part of their bodies should be warm at the same time!"   Referring to the fact that a spouse/lover/mate should be able to make everything about you right, warm, and fuzzy.  The author then talks about how people always say "marriage is hard work" but concludes it only becomes work when you expect your spouse to make you feel warm/fuzzy at EVERY moment.

"Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life's expectations for happiness into the hands of one more person."

WOW!  That makes sense, right?!  You cannot "give" everything to your spouse and expect them to maintain it for you.  Relationships go two ways.  Don't make it work, make it love!

(Page 97)  She talks about the philosophy of Aristophanes:  that humans used to be two-headed, eight-limbed creatures, with the "perfect partner sewn into the very fabric of our being".  People were so happy and content, they stopped worshiping the gods, and eventually (in a fury) Zeus split the beings into what we know today as humans.  The thought being that humans now are all searching for that lost portion of their being to become complete/satisfied/happy.  And that's where "love" comes in.

I thought this was extremely interesting and hope to look more into it in the future.  What I wrote here is a high overview, she goes more in depth in the book, talking about searching for your other half, infatuation, (think soulmates, if you will) and it is fascinating.

(Page 130)  "Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person....Can you accept the flaws?"  The point here being:  people fall in love, take in all the magnificent things, and think everything is perfect, meant to be.  There's a reason it's called the "honeymoon phase".  IT TAKES TIME to see and learn people's faults.  Obviously someone is not going to show you their worst parts right off the bat.  That is why quick marriages IRK me!!  But that's another post...

Point is:  read this book.  It's a quick read, eye opening, and interesting.  You will not regret it, it really makes you think!

PS-  This is one of the books I got from my book exchange :)  Read about that HERE.  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Getting to Know Myself

I never got the chance to tell you about my second business trip.  I went to Florida about 3.5 weeks ago to conduct more training.  The weather was great, but for almost everything else...


I got home on a Thursday night, dropped my luggage in the kitchen and fell in to Mike's arms for a good cry.  I just needed to let it out.  The only good thing about the trip:  I learned a little more about myself.

I learned that I am NOT shallow, that I don't care about brands, expensive food, and putting others down.  That I'm a kind, overly loving person, that I need time to myself, that I'm unique, that I'm just ME.

Needless to say, the three women I traveled with were very much the opposite.  One of them certainly lives a "queen bee" lifestyle.  Two phones, online shopping constantly, Prada 'et al' everything, judgemental, rude, impatient.  Everything I'm not (except the impatient part).  But the other women fed right in to it, rolling their eyes behind her back.  WHY?!  Why would you help to fuel that fire?

I certainly didn't.  It really put me on the outside because I was not going to behave as they all did.  Tipping 5% for a party of four, harassing the wait staff, constantly being picky about ordering drinks, criticizing people's work at our work site, saying rude things about people, and on-and on-and on.

It got to the point where if I did speak, they wouldn't even acknowledge that I had spoken.  It was a horrible place to be.  In a group of women constantly bringing others down and judging with no basis.  Being rude.  GRR, just writing this and thinking about it again makes me angry!  Mind you, these are professional women, and I know someone loves them.  Just not me.  I don't mean to be negative toward them, it just really made me realize what I'm not.  I'm not like that.  I'm just ME.

I am Natalie.  Small town girl living in the "big" city.   I love my family, treasure my friends, and adore my husband.  I am loyal, unique, and quirky.  I love to make memories.  I love to try new things.  I love being me, and I've come to realize that if you're not okay with that, then walk on, because I don't have time for people to bring me down.  I've always had no problem being who I am, and I going to keep on being me.

That awful experience of being trapped in another state with three people tearing others down really make me stick to being me.  It made me see more of who I am.  I won't change for anyone.

Please be true to yourselves, my friends.

**If you've never read the book Queen Bees & Wannabes, you should do so.  I read it in high school because my brother's girlfriend was writing a college essay about it.  It is the book that the movie Mean Girls is based on.**

Photos courtesy Tumblr #beyourself

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sweet Sugar Cookies

I love to bake, but most of the time my stuff comes out flat, crunchy, burnt on the bottom..blah blah.

This past weekend, I finally had a super successful batch!  I made sugar cookies based on this recipe.

Start with a large bowl and add:

1 cup Butter (softened)

3/4 cup Vegetable Oil (or canola,or olive oil)

1 1/4 cup Sugar

3/4 cup Powdered Sugar

2 Tablespoon Water

2 Eggs (3 if they are small)

Whip together in your mixer or use a hand mixer.  You want the mixture very smooth and creamy.  It will be a little lighter than a peanut butter texture.

In a separate bowl, mix together:

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tarter

1 teaspoon Salt

5 1/2 cup Flour

Slowly add the dry mixture to your butter mixture.  Then use your hands to make dough balls and place them on your cookie sheet.  Place the bottom of a glass into a bowl of sugar and press the dough balls flat (mine were about 1/4 inch tall after).  They will crack at the edge, but they will cook up nicely!

Bake your cookies at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes (depending on your oven).  You won't want them to brown, just make sure you get the middles cooked!

We ate them straight out of the oven and the middles were cakey, warm, and delicious!!  Yummm.  These were quick and easy, and it made about three dozen cookies.  And they didn't fall FLAT!

My grandpa used to be a milkman and literally still has hundreds of ice bags!  You can  tell how old they are based on the address.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Unintentional Veteran's Day Post

This past weekend we went to my parent's place for a few days.  My parents got married in 1980 and have lived in the same house ever since.  Every bit of my childhood memories still lie in that house. Sometimes they are great memories, some hard, some hilarious.  Each of those came back to me this weekend.

Saturday morning I woke up after having a dream about my brother's friend who was practically my brother.  I have so many memories of him being at our house growing up.  Some of them are so vivid.  I can remember what he is wearing and what he said to me as his little sis.  These are true memories, because he is no longer with us.  I told my mom I dreamt of him and she could feel my heart hurting.

That afternoon, we went to the cemetery to visit him.  I used to go see him quite often when I was younger, but I haven't made the trip out there in a few years.  I remembered exactly where he was after all these years and walked right up to him.  It was windy and cold, blowing bitter air in our faces. After saying a few words, the clouds split out of nowhere and the sun came shining through, warm and bright.

We said, "Okay, we see you, David."  It was pretty obvious that he was there saying, "I'm still looking over you two women!"  I can't help but think that he came to me in my dream to reassure me through this awful month I've been having.  I have been really down and depressed, and knowing he went through even harder times, I think he visited to say "Come on little sister, things aren't that bad, and if they are, I'll always be here".

If you know me, you know I'm not a super religious person.  But I have my relationships, and my own way of understanding faith and the way it works for me.  This is a perfect example.

Then I realized today is Veteran's Day.  David was a Veteran Marine.  His birthday was last week.

What a perfect little circle this weekend has brought me.

I'm going to push through this mountain of bull* that has been haunting me lately and remember that my big bad David has always got my back.

Thank you everyone, for your service.  And thank you David, for always having my back.  I hear you!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Work Woes

Come one, come all!!  I'm inviting you to my pity party.   On my blog, and in life, I do a pretty dang good job of staying positive.  But right now...I'm having a really hard time.

This mainly stems from work.  We spend more time at our jobs than we do with our spouses, so if work isn't going great, it can really ruin your week.  And my week has sucked so far.

If you've read the news lately, Wells Fargo has being doing some major layoffs.  Until recently, my department has been left untouched.  We are a high end department, and tend to have the feeling that we're always safe.

Well two weeks ago, it happened.  Thank GOODNESS my job is currently safe, but 4 of my underwriters got 60 days notice.  And, very conveniently, my manager was away on work travel.  Our team is 90% female, which obviously led to a few tears, plenty of emotion, and a rough rest of the week.

Things have been all off kilter since then.  The next day, all temporary employees got 60 day notice as well, but they have been slowly letting them go.  One of my closers leaves tomorrow :(


Last Friday, I got a heads up that my old manager was going to be taking my job.  WHAT?!  He in infamous for spreading his imaginary plans, so I tried to convince myself it wasn't going to happen.  After restless sleep, an anxiety meltdown at work on Monday, I talked to my manager.  Who informed me that I am switching teams and our whole department is getting reorganized.  AND, confirmed as of today, my old supervisor is taking my current position.

What in the eff?!  On one hand, it's funny, because he's getting demoted.  On the other, it literally makes no sense for our department the way they are rearranging the people who share my position.  On the third hand (yep, this is a weird creature), it pisses me off!!

BUT, I'll end it there and say that I am moving to a new team, a new manager, and a new horizon. Tomorrow.  Like that positivity???  I'm trying really hard here.  Maybe it has to do with the wine...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My First Work Trip - Pennsylvania

A few weeks ago my manager slinked into my cube and started talking really quietly.  I thought I was getting canned.  We have a lot of stuff going down at work (reorganizing, downsizing, layoffs, etc) so I was a bit worried.

Much to my surprise, he asked me to travel to Philly with him to train a new site! I was thrilled, as people in my position don't get asked to travel.  We always hold the team down on site.  I of course said yes and asked for details.  Of which, he had none.  Things were very under wraps, confidential, and still in the works.  Not my style, if you know me!

The first week of October, I hopped on a plane with my manger, a lending officer, and 2 change team trainers.  We arrived midday and headed to our hotel in Chester, PA.  AKA--ghost town.  This town is basically dead, washed up, and the population has halved in less than a half century.  BUT, our hotel was nice!!  

We had Philly cheese-steaks for dinner, followed by free drinks and a fire on the patio, courtesy of hotel management.  AWESOME.  It was a good way to start the trip!  

The next two mornings, I was up at 6, which is SUPER EARLY for me.  But worth it to try something new.  We trained the new team for two days, had awesome lunches, met some colleagues, told stories, gambled at Harrah's, and had a great time.  

Traveling is exhausting, and of course I came back to a s#it-show on Friday, as my backups weren't exactly proficient in covering while I was away.  I was asked to travel to Florida in a few weeks to train a new site there as well.  Yay me!  It is a fun experience, but I''m glad I don't always travel for work.  I miss being home, my normal schedule, and eating home cooked meals.  Props to all those traveling workers out there, it's hard work!!

Bridge to Jersey
My mom is awesome
Drinking on the job 

Dogfish Head
We worked in an old electric building

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fall Decorating - I Love my Grandma

I used to hate decorating for holidays and seasons.  Last year, Mike guilted me into decorating for Halloween in case we had trick or treaters...of which there were none.  You can read about that disappointment HERE.  Then, I was made to set up the Christmas tree...what a drag.  My family calls me a grinch.

BUT, after a "shopping trip" through my grandma's closet, I got inspiration and had Christmas snowmen and Santas all over the house by December.  I even got a few cute things at Walgreens, of all places.

So this year, I was excited to get set up for Halloween.  I was home last weekend, and my mom had a bounty of decor of which my grandma had tired of and passed along to her.  As usual, some of it was hideous, but some of it rocks!  I went home with two Pier One bags full of goodies.

(Side thought:  as I'm typing this, I'm thinking from now on, I should take everything my mom doesn't want, and then I can have people over to shop at my house!  Thoughts?)

We got home Sunday evening, and after unpacking, finishing the laundry, and having dinner, I got out the decorations.  I just have our main floor decorated, but that's good enough for me!

Added fall flowers to my red vase
Dining room table.  I'm OBSESSED with that pumpkin!
Coffee table.  Note the new owl :)  And my orchid.  
I moved these to the TV stand
Added some new foliage to my jug (it used to have peacock feathers)

It's feeling like fall around here.  I wore my mint capris to work today to try to eek out these last few warm days.  I LOVE fall!  Snuggling up, warm drinks, blankets, bonfires, leaves...all the good stuff.  Enjoy it before the cold comes!!

Friend time, Surprises, Weddings!

The day after the junk market, I got up early to meet an old friend for coffee in Minneapolis.  She is a friend from high school. We lost touch (with a mini-falling-out), but I recently cleared the table for us and we're starting fresh!  It feels great, as she was one of my best friends and I need her back in my life.  We met at Bull Run Coffee Bar on a sunny morning.  In order to take in the last precious days, we spent our time on the patio.  This is a great shop and I would definitely recommend checking it out!  I have to admit, I was a bit nervous for our coffee date, but it went so flawlessly, that 4.5 hours later, my husband was wondering where I was!  It was a fantastic time, and I'm so glad to have rekindled our friendship.  I also got a nice sunburn :)

Friday boasted a momentous occasion...MY BEST FRIEND TURNED 25!!  For the past few months, her boyfriend and I had been scheming for a surprise dinner.  Although she was suspicious, we pulled it off!  She was so clueless, she didn't even see all of us sitting at the table or the balloons on her chair! We all enjoyed fabulous Benihana, stories, and some beverages.  Ashley's not one to celebrate or be selfish, so I wanted to make sure this birthday didn't slip by un-celebrated!  Thanks to everyone that came and helped out!

:Our Group:
My Bestie on her birthday

Amazing green tea for dessert
The next morning, we were up early to head back to Monticello to pick up Ashley and Kevin.  We trekked 3.5 hours north near Walker, MN to celebrate our sorority sister's wedding.  The weather was a bit cold, but we managed to warm up by checking out the local craft brewery, Leech Lake Brewing. It is the smallest we've ever visited, but worth a stop.  After the ceremony, we used our 5$ vouchers at the casino, and Mike and I managed to pocket over $20.  That's big money in my world!  We had a great time with college friends, and celebrating Jake and Alison's love after 9.5 years!!

Mrs. Premo
Sorority Sisters

I love spending time with my friends, and I'm trying to get as much of it in as I can before it gets cold out!!  Take time to make memories.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Junk Market / Thrifting / Swap Meet Adventures

Last weekend while running errands, we saw a sign on the road for a junk market.  I was so excited and looked forward to it all week.  We used to go to the swap meet in Annandale almost every Saturday growing up.  Every once in a while, we would even sell stuff, but that wasn't as fun.

I have memories of 50¢ Amish moonie pies (aka whoopie pies, but these were ah-mah-zing and impossible to duplicate), snow cones, TY beanie babies, looking at the puppies, and I even got a bunny named Sunny once.  My dad love auctions, junk, and having his garage full of STUFF.  My mom likes decorating, old things, and furniture.  I realize now...I'm turning into my parents!

This is getting scary, y'all!!

Mike told me in the middle of this week not to get my hopes up {I was realllly excited} and he didn't want me to be disappointed.  Sometimes I get a little overzealous.  I told him we were getting up at 8am to get the good stuff.  He HATES getting up early on the weekends...his response...
"I'll go whenever you want to go, honey."  GAWD I love him!  Seriously, so lucky.

So this morning, we were out of the house before 9am, and headed to the "junk market".
It.was.AWESOME!  After my mini vintage-hunting with my mom over labor day weekend, I've been itching to shop at anything other than an actual store.  This was in a parking lot, the weather was beyond amazing, and after only 2 hours, less than $40, including some sweet edibles and coffee, we were headed home with some sweet scores!

There were vendors (Norwex, Mary Kay...which I avoided), small vendors with garage sale/personal things, and small businesses such as jewelry makers, purses, etc.  Pretty much everything you could ask for. I had my eye out for decorative things for the house, furniture, and jewelry.  I did pretty well!

I also got some cards and flyers for upcoming barn sales, more markets, and store fronts to check out. If you are interested, let me know, and we can go shopping together!  But seriously, I'm going to a barn sale on October 19th if you'd like to join me.  I talked to a lot of owners and made some connections to keep my eyes on this little world of "junkers".  I think I found a new hobby!

I couldn't wait to get home and tell my mom about our adventure.  Her and my dad taught me to haggle, and I almost went all out when I saw a lady with the vintage wine box I had my eyes on.  It's common to buy items even from other customers, something my mom does all the time!

It's been hard to find good places to "shop" around here, but now I'm ready to roll.  Too bad the season's almost over!  I'll be more prepared for next summer.  I now have my mom going to a barn sale for me next weekend, because I'll be up north at a wedding.  She knows what I like, and she got me into it, so I'm sure she'll find us some good stuff!

We also got side-tracked to an estate sale.  By this time it was almost noon, so it was pretty picked over, but we found a few things, and now we have another thing to keep our eyes out for!

Here are some pictures:

Part of a business couple's sign for their company
A glimpse of the action
Food truck, best wontons of my life!
Some of my loot.  Mostly decorative things, but jewelry and a wallet as well!
Handmade glass jewelry
If you are interested in any of the local businesses, or would like to join me next time, just ask!

Friday, September 20, 2013

How to Host a Book Exchange

I have been reading a lot this summer.  I just finished my ninth book.  I’m very proud of that!  I go in cycles over time; I will read a lot, and then not read for many months.  Currently, I’m in read-like-a-crazy-woman mode.  I read at work, on the weekends, and before bed.  

My mom is a super reader, and has always had a book in her hand ever since I can remember.  She can read ANYWHERE.  It’s kind of fascinating, she's talented.  Maybe this is me turning more into my mother?  On that note…I’m quitting!  Hah!

My mom has books piled all over the house, and since she generally knows what I like to read, every time she comes to visit, she brings a few with, and so far, she’s been rocking it!  Plus…free books, yes please.  

So now that I had a good stack of books I had read, I wanted to share the wealth {and score some new ones}.  So I thought of a book exchange.   Like a potluck, but with books!  Bring one, take a new one.  Tah-daaah!  

I planned a casual book exchange with friends, and it was pretty successful!

What we did:

Drew numbers for who would pick first.  Number one got first choice of the books on the table. I believe we had about 15 books and 6 people.  Then,  number two got to choose, and so on…

After the first round, we started back at number one.  If you brought two books, then you got to choose another book during the second round.  After that, the left over books were put up as a free-for-all.  

It was quick, easy, FREE, and everyone left with some new books.  And there were brownies…yum.

I walked away with Water for Elephants, Committed, and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.

What I would do with more time:

*I would encourage more people to come.  More books, more variety, more fun!  

*I would make signs to separate fiction and non-fiction, and somewhat sort the books.  

*I would have a cute small card for each book, and the owner would write a synopsis of the book and place it inside.  

My grand scheme would be people drinking wine and socializing, while the person choosing their book on their turn would peruse the choices and have time to read the synopses and make their decisions.

Have fun with your next book exchange!  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wisconsin Camping Trip

I haven't blogged in ages.  Almost a month...
My bad.

While winding down summer, it's been hard to sit and contemplate a new post.  I have a few on the horizon.  Until then, I will recount some of my adventures.

In August, I planned a surprise camping trip to Wisconsin for Mike and I.  I told him to take off work, and did everything for preparation by myself.  I'm very proud of that because I SUCK at surprises and I always want to tell Mike what's going on.  When you live with someone, it's hard not to share your excitement!  I arranged a bunny sitter, bought some necessities, planned meals, and made all the reservations.

I guess you could say the trip was inspired by my URBAN GLAMPING night.  Check that post out HERE.  I also grew up camping tons of weekends in the summer and have been missing it.  We have gotten some gear for gifts and I wanted to put it to good use.  Plus, who doesn't want to spend a weekend in the woods with their new hubby?!

I reserved two nights at Interstate State Park in Wisconsin, and one night at Pleasant Lake B&B.  I would suggest both accommodations, especially the B&B.  I must say, I rock at planning getaways. The campsite we got was on the end of it's own culdesac, very private, and had its own trails right to the river.  It was really big and a great site.

Starting the weekend!
Huge site!
Camping life.
We arrived Thursday night, set up camp, started a fire, and commenced with drinking and s'mores. Yes, I had s'mores before dinner.  I had to get in as many as I could!  We had hobo dinners, more s'mores, and played mancala.  We also slept on a twin air mattress, because our tent is only 5x7! We've slept in many small beds in our time, so we made it work.  It was cool at night, so snuggling was a good way to warm up.

S'mores all day.
Over the course of the weekend, we visited a few wineries, Wild Mountain for the alpine slide, took in Franconia Sculpture Park, ate at a few outdoor restaurants, enjoyed ice cream from the ice cream shop, hiked, played bags in our campsite, read, and enjoyed spending time together away from work, home, and internet.  I absolutely loved it.   

Hiking at the Dalles
Hiking, awesome trails there!
Watching the sun set at the vineyard
My lovely man

At the river right by our campsite

I hope you get this reference!
Franconia, amazing place!

The bed and breakfast was our first time at one.  Rich and Char were great, and my favorite part was the lake.  There are only about 5 houses on it, and you can use their paddle boat any time you want. We spent an hour out there, watching the sun go down, floating, talking to the fishies, and enjoying each other's company. We followed that with a 30 minute soak in their double whirlpool tub.  I literally had to hold on to the sides because it was so big.  It felt fantastic, especially after camping, hiking, and sleeping in a tent!

After dinner in town, we had one of my favorite moments together in over five years.  We sat on our balcony in the moonlight, under a blanket, looking at the lake, and drank a bottle of wine.  It was SO peaceful, romantic, and memorable for me.  I won't forget that night...just being together, talking quietly, enjoying some red wine.  Perfect.  Remember to make special moments with your husband!

The next day, we had breakfast at the house, which was delicious, and fun talking with our housemates and 'innkeepers'.  We went into town to see the waterfall, and took the backroads home.

It was a fantastic weekend, with perfect weather, fun activities, wine (what could be better), being outdoors, being out of the city, and being together.  I love my man, and spending time doing something a little different was a perfect way to become even closer.