The Babymoon – Hawaii

This Sunday, Bryce and I will have been married for six years! It seems like so much longer than that, probably because we dated off and on through high school and college. It has flown by, especially now that our baby girl will turn ONE in November.

In honor of this beautiful celebration in our lives, I’m dedicating this post to my husband who is also my cheerleader, my rock, and my soul mate. I could go on and on about how fantastic he is… but I thought I’d share with you a time that he went above and beyond his calling as a husband and father. This would be when he took me on a BABYMOON!

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What’s a babymoon you ask? (and so did he when I mentioned it). Wellll it’s this fantastic idea that a couple dedicates some time alone before the baby arrives and the word “alone” is completely cut out of the vocabulary for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Seriously. Kind of like a honeymoon, and definitely a great excuse to go on vacation.

Some couples stay home and relax, while others – like us – go far far away. The islands of Hawaii were on our travel bucket list and we thought it would be the perfect romantic getaway. I have to mention that by the time we got to Hawaii, I was seven months pregnant… so it made everything a little bit more difficult. I also needed to make sure my OBGYN was okay with me going, and that the baby was healthy enough for us to travel. Thank God all was fine and my doctor happily okay’ed the trip with one condition – that she come with us. She didn’t get to, but I’m sure we would have all had fun together ūüôā If you are considering a babymoon please please please make sure your doctor knows and has checked you off with a good bill of health before you travel! With recent outbreak of the Zika virus, it is an absolute necessity to do so. Follow me by email to catch my upcoming post about tips on traveling while pregnant. Here’s ¬†one… make sure you elevate your feet whenever you can, to avoid swelling!

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Traveling to Hawaii is expensive, no matter how you try to get around it. We are blessed to have parents who are members of Wyndham Vacation Resorts Inc. There is a points system through Club Wyndham which you can purchase and use at different hotels and condominiums throughout the United States and Beyond. They let us use some of their unused points to get a lovely condo on the Big Island of Hawaii, right on the water. The Big Island is considered the newest of the islands, since it is still growing by lava spill. There isn’t a lot of sand because of this and you see lava rock everywhere you go. We had to do a bit of driving to find beaches, but they are easy to find!

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It just so happened that my parents-in-law had been talking about going to Hawaii – so they actually went too! I think usually babymoons are taken separately as a couple, but the condo had two beds and two baths and it was fun to have them around. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Of course you can always get a hotel online, and I have a friend who uses Airbnb for all her travels. This just happened to be our cheapest option.

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The Big Island of Hawaii has so much to offer. It’s by far the largest island of of Hawaii and yet it is the least populated. There is one active volcano (Kilauea) and several more that have formed the beautiful island. Below are some photos of what we did while we were there – but there is still so much to be done! I most definitely want to get back there and visit other islands!

Hiking Rainbow Falls  and Akaka Trails to the Waterfalls

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Visiting the Lava Tube

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Scenic Volcano Helicopter Ride with Paradise Tours

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Snorkling in Kealakeukua Bay: It was very rocky so I didn’t snorkle much but supposedly this is where the writers of Disney’s Finding Nemo came for inspiration. We also snorkled at a few other beaches around Kona that had more sand and the water was less turbulent. Renting an underwater camera was a great idea!

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Manta Ray Night Cruise – This was probably my favorite activity. This event started as a research and observation site almost 40 years ago. The scientists studying the manta rays figured out that the lights from the boats attracted a lot of krill, which in turn attracted manta rays who feed on the krill. Manta rays are much larger than stingrays and can get up to 40 feet across! The average age of manta rays is relatively unknown, and there are some manta rays they have marked that are STILL coming to the observation site to feed. These things are huge, and awesome, and one came up and touched my pregnant belly¬†with it’s belly while I was floating. Trip. Made.

Manta Ray Excursion

Manta Ray Excursion

Manta Ray Excursion

Manta Ray Excursion

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Visiting the Observation Posts – I didn’t actually get to do this, because the elevation would be too much change in pressure for the little growing bean inside of me. The hubby got to go up with his dad, and he said it’s wonderful!

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Hawaiian Luau – a MUST DO if you go to Hawaii. I loved it because 1) food, 2) history of the Hawaiian Islands, 3) entertainment, and 4) FOOD.

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Maternity Pictures at Old Kona Airport Beach – I was so excited to get to do this! I know that a lot of women aren’t able to get maternity pictures done, and definitely not while on vacation! The photographer I hired was so easy to work with, and did a fantastic job hiding my ginormous and swollen ankles (ah, the pregnant life). Leigh Conradt gave us a ton of edited photos so I just picked out some of my favorites. I recommend her work to anyone!

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Kilauea Glow Observation Deck: This was awesome! We couldn’t see the lava flow too well from the helicopter ride since it was a daytime ride, but the observation deck was the best next thing.

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Well that was a long post but there’s no way I could fit in all that we did.

Have you been to Hawaii? What was your favorite part? Comment and let me know!

 

 

Road Trip – Southeastern Adventure Part Two

Hey ya’ll! Just thought I’d finish up my review of our camper adventure here today. We had done so much and traveled so far, it was too hard to put it all in one post! Where was I?

Oh yes.

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After the Dixie Stampede, we found Riveredge RV park off of the GoodSam RV website. Pretty nifty little website – and it lead us right to the most sparkling clean camper site I’ve ever seen. The bathrooms… the bathrooms were nicer than any bathroom I’ve ever owned. Not kidding. I thought… this is camping? Double shower heads and bronze metal finishes? ¬†Sheesh! Best campsite by far. Yep. I took a picture.

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The next morning we headed into the Great Smokey Mountain National Park for a hike. Despite our best efforts to go in the morning so it would be “cool”… it was still a sweltering 90 degrees by the time we parked and walked to the trail we wanted to hike. Probably not the best activity in the middle of July.. but we went anyway. Glad we did! It was beautiful. We tried hiking the Rainbow Falls trail, and although we didn’t make it all the way up it was still a great “moderate” hike. The shade of the trees definitely made it tolerable. I highly suggest doing your research – find a hike you can manage, bring lots of water, and watch out for bears because THEY LIVE THERE.

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On Friday we found ourselves in Asheville, North Carolina. We got a two for one special on tickets to the Biltmore Estate through our 4th RV site : Mama Gerties. The Biltmore House is an amazing mansion built by George Vanderbilt (yep, those Vanderbilts) cloaked within the scenic North Carolina Forests. They have restaurants, hotels, and gardens galore to walk through and admire. The tour itself takes almost 2 hours to get through, so if you go make sure you hydrate and wear comfy shoes! It was a great experience.

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On Sunday we had to start making our way back to MO. We drove through Atlanta, GA and stopped at a Farmers Market in Birmingham, AL. We ate lunch at a great BBQ place called Deerman’s BBQ, where all the cute southern ladies came in their Sunday’s best after church and each one vowed to take the baby home with them. She probably would have – my little social butterfly. We also had the chance to stop by Talladega Superspeedway and use as many Talladega Nights quotes as possible because, if you’re not first you’re last.

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Mississippi, Arkansas, and finally back to St. Louis where our Southeastern Adventure began.  Thanks for sticking with me through this long post! Hope you enjoyed the pictures and that you get to visit some of these places too. Get out there!

Road Trip – Southeastern Adventure Part One

Oh man! Why can’t I just be on continuous vacation?

Recently, my husband and I did some renovations on his dad’s old camper trailer. We needed to use up some of his personal days at work, so we decided to take the camper on a trip. I’ve never been camping in a camper-trailer before, so I was intrigued to see how I would fare. I should say camper again. We packed up and hit the road.

The past has no power over the present moment.

Our first stop was to see my sister and her family in Jackson, TN. We stayed there a few days, just to soak up the family time. They just got a new couch from¬† wayfair.com … how pretty is that!

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On Wednesday morning, we made a few adjustments to the camper and headed out again. This time we didn’t really have a destination in mind, just that we wanted to go southeast.

We stopped for a late lunch at The Aquarium Restaurant in Nashville, TN. This place was fantastic! There’s a giant cylinder aquarium at the front entrance. We knew it had to be good because of the 45 minute wait at 2PM. We didn’t mind the wait though, since we had no where to be. Since the restaurant is in the Opry Mills Mall, they texted us when our table was ready. This was a relief because baby girl gets fussy if we aren’t moving around much so we just walked and shopped until we got the text.

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Inside there is a humongous salt-water tank full of colorful and exciting sea life. ¬†I don’t think there is really a bad seat in the house since the restaurant is built around the aquarium. The service was attentive and friendly, and obviously used to parties with kiddos. The food was good, and you get a proper amount. Financially it was a splurge for us, but totally worth it. I highly suggest you try it out if you’re ever in Nashville!

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From there we traveled east and stopped at Southlake RV park in Knoxville. No big surprises here… just a regular ole’ campground – but quite cheap! It even came with a welcome committee…

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On Thursday morning we made our way to Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains. I had two major to-do’s here… to hike, and to pig out at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. We accomplished both! The stampede was worth the money – so much food and such good entertainment! The baby loved it, and our waitress was great. You aren’t supposed to video/photograph during the show so you’ll have to check it out for yourself. The riders are quite amazing and seemed like they legitimately enjoyed being in the show. It just made me love Dolly even more :).

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As if I could eat any more after the stampede, we went out for dinner at the nearby Old Mill area. There’s this beautiful old water turbine that used to run the mill. It doesn’t work now but it’s still attached to the mill that has been turned into a restaurant. We ate at the smaller¬†Pottery House Cafe in close proximity to the Old Mill. This darling little eatery was as delicious as it was beautiful. Here, they serve their own made-in-house bread on their own made-in-house ceramic plates. You can tell a lot of thought and love went into building this place… right down to the moss growing on the wooden shingles! They even took the time out to have a manager ask me about any wheat or nut allergies, since I had mentioned to my server that I didn’t want any nuts in my chicken salad.

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Whew…. That’s a lot of stuff packed into one post! I have more to show, but we’ll just have to wait until my next post for now. Have a great weekend~!

 

24 Hours in Hermann, MO

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*Disclaimer – I was in no way compensated to write this review and the opinions expressed here are my own*

Recently, I was blessed with the opportunity to have a little “girls night” with a few of my old college roomies! We all just so happened to have the same night off, and we decided going somewhere close would be our best bet. Two of us currently live in St.Louis and the other in Columbia. Hermann is about equidistant for all of us, and none of us had ever visited so it was an easy choice!

Hermann is known for its selection of wineries, a quaint downtown, and beautiful scenery. With only 24 hours to spend, we wanted to try and see as much of it as possible. We checked in at our hotel, the Hermann Crown Suites, which is situated within walking distance of several shops and restaurants. It’s a fairly new business, recently renovated, and good pricing for the amount of room we had! The building itself was erected in the 1800’s.

Just a short walk away, we ate dinner at The Black Walnut Bistro. This restaurant had 4 and 5 star reviews on Yelp, and we wanted a good place to sit down and catch up.. The food was excellent and the service too, but the price was a little expensive for me and the small room had terrible acoustics that made it difficult to have a good conversation.

After dinner we headed over to Sugar Momma’s, a cute little pie shop that was right next door to our hotel! It’s adorable windows were decked out and definitely enticed us in. I love a good window display (haha). We met Sugar Momma herself, Mrs. Tammy Bruckerhoff, who helped us choose our pie slices for dessert! There were so many pies to choose from, plus she had candy everywhere – we needed direction. Sugar Momma was so kind and welcoming, and she gave us some fantastic insider tips on where to go the next day. We said our goodbyes and headed up to our room to devour our precious pie slices.

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The next morning we were up by nine (which is sort of ridiculous because we all love sleep AND it was raining). We walked (okay…ran)¬†across the street to a little hometown donut shop called Battocletti’s Bake Shop for breakfast. We had heard some locals praising it, and it was pretty busy when we got there. The donuts are good, and cheap too – but be warned they only take cash. Luckily I had a few bucks in my wallet [not normal] and we got to indulge.

Adam Puchta Winery was our next stop. If it wasn’t raining so much, I bet there would have been plenty more visitors but we pretty much had the place to ourselves! They have a small tasting room, a big selection, and a very pretty outside set-up. There wasn’t a tour for us to take at this winery, so we didn’t stay very long.

One of the largest (and probably the most popular) wineries in town is called Stone Hill Winery. It was easy to find, had plenty of parking, and the hosts were friendly. We took a tour of the cellars and our tour guide was full of fun stories of the owners and what happened to the winery during prohibition. The winery cellars were once used to grow Portabello mushrooms! The main building had three tasting rooms, a live band playing by the atrium, and a huge store room where they sold bottles and cases.

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My favorite meal of our trip had to be the lunch we ate at Stone Hill. The owners had transformed an old barn into a restaurant, and we sat in what used to be a horse stable. We were all a little chilled from the rain so it was nice to sit down and get some warm food – which was amazing! I’ve never really had German food before, and here it was a specialty. The white bean and sausage soup hit the spot. I had a grilled chicken salad on a croissant, and the girls both had the daily special – sausage stuffed onion on mashed potatoes covered with white wine gravy. They give huge portions, so we were filled to the gills by the time we were done. I definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone!

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From lunch we had to part ways. For 24 hours, I think we did a fantastic job of getting the most out of our trip! I would love to go back again. I think a weekend trip would be perfect for a couple wanting a small getaway.

24 Hours In Hermann, MO

Have you been to Hermann, MO? Is there something I missed that I should add to my list next time I visit? Comment below and Let me know!

Stay posted for more travels!!

 

 

Camper Remodel – Phase 2: Use it.

Since the hubby had some personal days at work to burn, we decided it would be the perfect opportunity to take the camper we’ve been renovating out for a spin. (Still thinking of nicknames… Any suggestions?)

I gotta admit – my husband is the handiest dude I know. His dad taught him a lot, and he’s teaching me a lot through this project. He was able to get the old propane stove working, as well as the water connections. He also re-wired the lights to get it highway legal.

So with most everything working, and a few coats of primer and paint, we set out on an adventure! We tend to be really spontaneous (a.k.a. bad at planning) when it comes to these things, but it’s often more fun for us in the long run.

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We packed up and headed south east. For the first time in my life, I lived in a camper for almost a whole week! We ended up driving through eight different states : Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Click this link to read about our Southeastern Adventure.

I thought for sure I was going to have to name this post “how to start a fight with your husband when traveling” since I’m not an avid camper and our little 8-month-old baby girl came along – but nah! It was all really good! All three of us had a fantastic time. Whenever we got tired, we took a break. When she needed a nap, we just planned our drive times so that she’d sleep in the car. When we didn’t want to drive anymore, we just found an RV camp and parked. It was so nice to not have to carry luggage or check into a million hotels. We saved money by cooking our own breakfast every morning, and keeping snacks around. Everything we needed was in the camper, plenty of storage for our things!

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One thing is for sure, I can’t wait to go on another road trip. I’m glad we got the chance to use the camper so that now we know we like it and the money we invested wasn’t in vain. ¬†We still have more work to do on it but I’ll keep you posted on the camper renovation and makeover. I’m thinking blue paint and copper Moscow mule mugs are in its future…and hopefully some rock in’ flooring!

Camper Remodel- Phase 1: Clean it up. 

Hey all! Happy Monday – I thought I’d show you a little bit of our latest project – a travel camper.

My in-laws have had this 1958 Garwood camper on the side of their yard since before my husband and I started dating. Apparently, it’s been used by several family members including his brother for a good amount of time. We’ve always joked about living in it – but recently we’ve had this crazy idea to renovate it!

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Lookin’ pretty rough huh. It’s mostly been used for storage of Christmas decor and odds and ends. A few weeks ago we unlocked it and shuffled around, and then we ended up just cleaning it out. Thankfully, Papa Calvin (Bryce’s dad) had sealed it up well so that rain and snow didn’t do too much damage.

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It’s actually a cute set up on the inside, if you can see past the grime and wasp nests. The power washer was our BFF for this project.

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Inside there’s two bunks, a closet, a sink, an old propane stovetop, and a dining area. Everything needed a deep cleaning and some paint, but for a few days work I think we did a great job making it useable again. Here are some BEFORE pics:

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Wood. Panelling. Everywhere. I had to use two coats of Kilz primer and two coats of paint to cover it up… and I’ll probably end up using another coat before we finish! Luckily I had a little painting buddy to keep me company. Isn’t he a cutie? Here’s some progress pictures:

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With some sweat and elbow grease, we were able to get the camper “livable”. We covered the old cushions with some plastic tablecloths for temporary usage. Don’t worry about the propane tank you see, we just kept it there while we were driving – not while we were using it. There’s still SO much work to be done to make it ours, but it’s a great start! Before we invest in more upgrades, we’re taking it out for a test drive soon. Keep watch for our updates coming to you soon! Hoping to have some instagram-able before and after photos for you!

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