Outdoor Fun in Breckenridge

Before this week, I had only visited Colorado in the winter time when the ground was snow covered. Well, with exception of during my childhood whenever we made a few trips during the summer. But I had truly forgotten how beautiful this part of the country is.  Not only are the temperatures mild, there is the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors unlike you can do during the steamy, hot days of summer in Louisiana. 

In addition to hiking, Hubby booked a fly fishing trip one day. He had never done this type of fishing before and although he said it was quite different and more difficult, he managed to catch several fish and had a good time doing so. 

Our second hiking trip was a little more difficult...at least for me. Where as the first trip was a gradual incline on a trail, this trip was on very rocky terrain.  And I also did not realize that we were actually hiking up the side of a mountain until we reached a point that we were well above the treetops when I looked down. I sat down, gasped for breath and my fear of heights immediately kicked in. I announced that I was done and turned around to head back down the mountain. 
                                                   This trail was uphill all the way. 
                                        We came upon this little cabin on our way up. 

Among these papers we found a booklet that explained the purpose that this cabin was actually built. It was constructed so that hikers could take refuge here because of bad weather conditions or even to sleep in if needed. 
Here I am trying to catch my breath. We only made it to about 11,400 feet.  This hike kicked my butt!
                       We did, however, make it far enough to see this beautiful waterfall. 


The weather turned a bit rainy and cold for a couple of days so we went into downtown Beckenridge, which is a quaint little town that I simply fell in love with!  The unique shops and restaurants were just my cup of tea and I'm bring back quite a few items from this trip. 

Crepes a La Cart is a pretty popular place in Breckenridge. People stand in long lines just to purchase one of their yummy crepes. 
    You can stand there and watch them make the crepes through the glass window in the cart.
The line wasn't terribly long that day, so Robby and Sandra each got a crepe. And yes...I took a couple bites of Hubby's since he got a gluten-free Nutella and banana one. Oh my goodness...To die for!
We also visited a store called, Overland, which was by far one of my favorite shops. I purchased a few items to be shipped home but while we were there I played around with a few of their awesome hats!

Colorado was all I expected and more. What a great end of summer trip for us...



Hiking in Colorado

Sunday morning we woke up and immediately made a plan to go for a hike. I was feeling so much better that I was sure I could make it with no problem. Until...we started the upward climb.  Some hiking sticks were taken out and I was happy to take one, however, I didn't know how thankful I would be until later on when I asked Hubby if he could hear that man chopping wood. Confused, he said no. I said, "Oh, that's just my heartbeat I hear in my ears."  The round trip hike was 5.4 miles. Needless to say, there were some difficult moments for me as my body attempted acclimate. Hubby was good and stayed by me all the way, stopping when I needed to rest and giving me water. It was a lovely hike. The scenery was beautiful and the weather was nice and cool. 


                                          See my walking stick?  It came in quite handy!

    The mountains were gorgeous and the quietness made for such a peaceful morning hike. 

        This guy right here is a keeper for sure. He kept pace with me and never complained. 

    This is after we made it as far up as we were going on the trail. I sure was happy that I would be heading downhill now. 

I felt pretty accomplished at the end of this hike and happy to just be able to do it. I told Hubby that the past four years I don't think I could have made it with all the problems I was having with my Hashimoto's. It feels good.  It really does. 

Later, after a lunch downtown and a drive through the mountains, we stopped and hiked a short ways to a waterfall. There was also an old mine there. 




This is probably my favorite photo of the day. After I edited it and got another good look at it, I decided that I would watercolor it when I returned home. 

So far, this trip has been like a little slice of Heaven on Earth for me. The mountains, fresh air and cool temperatures. Being outdoors with no television. This is just what we needed at this time. Thankful for these moments. 


Cooling Off in Colorado

Earlier this summer our friends who have a home in Colorado asked us to visit.  They asked when we would like to come and I said, "Whenever it is so hot I don't think I will make it."  And that is now.  Louisiana is so very hot at the end of August that it is difficult to breathe outside.  Of course, we have been having lots of rain and in most places rain means cooling off.  Not so in Louisiana.  As a matter of fact it was 79 degrees just the other day and that sounds really nice, right?  So Hubby decided he would go out and work in his shop.  I told him I thought it was still pretty hot out there but he went anyway.  For about 15 minutes.  Then saying that he could hardly believe it was 79 degrees, looked up the temperature on the Internet.  It was indeed 79.  With the humidity at 93%.  With a "feels like" of 102 degrees.  Yep...that's Louisiana in August.  And so, as I was saying...We decided to head to Colorado for a glorious week of much cooler weather.

Our travel day was pretty much a wash (as most are).  Our flights were delayed from the very beginning but we eventually made it to Denver where our friend picked us up from the airport and we headed to their home in Breckenridge. 

I'm not going to lie, the temperatures were wonderful with it dropping to 49 degrees by the time we ate dinner. But the altitude. Oh my goodness. You see, I have asthma and being at just below 10,000 feet, I started having problems breathing almost immediately. Fortunately for me, our friends have oxygen and after I used a bit of that I felt much better. 

This morning I awoke to this view from my window...
                                  Oh, what a glorious week it was going to be.

Create Your Own Special Occassion Photo Booth with FREE DOWNLOADS!

We are all obsessed these days with taking photographs.  More so than any other time I can remember.  With the invention of the cell phone and its popularity, taking photos and videos is so convenient now that there is no excuse for not capturing any and every moment ones chooses.

So popular are photos that in recent years the wedding photo booth has become a fixture at most modern day weddings.  People donning props and acting silly.  Making a fun memory book for the happy new couple.  And now, many other people are catching on to the photo booth idea.  Why not have a photo booth for all sorts of occasions?  Well, for one thing, they cost a lot to rent.  However, Personal Creations (who asked me to create this post) has come up with a great solution:  FREE DOWN LOADABLE PROPS!

You heard me right; anyone can now download their very own props for most occasions!  As a former teacher, this makes me smile.  As a YaYa, it makes me start planning to have these awesome props available for my entire BIG, FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY at every occasion.  All you need is:

1.  A computer to download the props.
2.  A printer to prints the props.
3.  Tag board paper to make the props more sturdy.
4.  Contact paper if you want to save the props from getting bent or dirty or if you just want to be
     able to save them forever.
5.   A container to save your props in so you can reuse them over and over.

Now, I'm thinking outside the "Wedding Booth Prop" box and brainstorming other places these props could be used.  Teacher would LOVE to have these for their classrooms.  Kids enjoy dressing up and teachers could snap cute photos of special occasions.

Churches could also use these.  I know that our church sets up family photo booths for special events and these would be perfect!

How about parties?  Whenever my kids were small, I would spend hours preparing for their birthday parties, cutting out and creating cute items for the children to wear or take home.  How cute would these props be to use for a children's party?  And if you wanted, they could also serve as party favors for the guests to take home with them.

And what about adult parties, showers,  family get togethers and holidays?  The list could go on and on.  Can you tell how excited I am about these?!  That's why I'm giving you the LINK to download all of these cute props for FREE right now!

Aren't these props just great?!  And the possibilities are endless.  I can't WAIT to get started downloading all of mine now!  I only hope that there will be more of these to come from Personal Creations .


Dear Tooth Fairy, Please Bring Me a Pair of Prada's

One might think that having a son that is a dentist is great.  Well, now don't get me wrong,  it IS great BUT... I'm not really a fan of going to the dentist.  And unlike you might be thinking, it is not the sound of the drill that bothers me; it's the shots.  I hate needles,  but especially needles that are given in the mouth.  And that is precisely why I don't schedule my appointments every six months...or at least until my son became my dentist and REMINDS me nearly every time I see him (sigh...).

This story begins back in January.  Back when I cracked a crown off of a tooth.  I went to my son's office and asked them to pull up my x-ray (Mom of the dentist can do this...) so I could determine if that tooth had a root canal; you know, would it start hurting?  Indeed it did already have a root canal and I said, "Great!  Bye-Bye!"  The girl said, "Wait...Don't you want to schedule an appointment to have that taken care of ? "Ummm...NO!  No, I  don't".  And out I walked.  About eight months ago.

As I said, every time I saw my son, he would ask me when I was coming to have that tooth taken out and now it seemed that I would also have to have a bone graft in preparation for an implant.  OK...let's take a time out here.  For those of you who have read my blog for a while, do you remember the implants I had several years ago? (By someone else)  Yep...NIGHTMARE!  I was in NO WAY mentally prepared for having another implant (ugh).  However, he convinced me that this experience would be nothing like the last one.  And so I bit the bullet and made an appointment.

As that appointment drew closer, I grew more anxious about having to sit in the dental chair.  Things like:  How many spankings did I give him growing up? ran through my mind.  But once I make an appointment I don't usually cancel it.  So Friday I not-so-bravely walked in there, took my anxiety medication and waited.

Although there are televisions in each treatment room, I came prepared with my ear buds so I could listen to music, which would hopefully calm my nerves even more.  However, when it came time for "The Shot" I freaked out.  My heart started racing as I gripped the handles of the chair and squeezed my eyes shut.  "For goodness sakes," I told myself, I had given birth to four children!  But still...that needle.  As I got the first round of shots, I was pleasantly surprised that it really didn't hurt as much as my mind had convinced me it would.  Maybe...just maybe...I could do this.

Round two of the shots was a little worse since it was going to be an extraction and I could feel one side of my throat go numb.  And then the right side of my nose.  I was beginning to get a little drowsy by this time and laid back and closed my eyes as I waited for them to come back into the room.

By that time Hubby had arrived since I would definitely be needing a ride home.  He actually got his teeth cleaned while they worked on me.  The tooth had broken off and had to be cut out, but I was none the wiser until the next day.  However, it was about this time that I began day dreaming about the Tooth Fairy.  I know that sounds a little crazy but, you see, Parker Ann has recently lost two teeth and the Tooth Fairy,  of course, visited her with a little money.  But, I thought, what if there was an Adult Tooth Fairy?  Because, you know there could be (wink, wink).  And the Adult Tooth Fairy, of course, would bring adult treats.  Like designer shoes and clothes or perhaps even a nice piece of jewelry.  I thought of asking for the broken pieces of tooth to slip under my pillow that night.  But the medication I had taken sort of kept that thought only within the confines of my head and the words never came out of my mouth (sigh...). 

Whenever I went home that night, I went with only Ibuprofen for the pain.  And guess what?  I was pleasantly surprised that there was very little pain.  My son, who had continuously told me for eight months, that this was not going to hurt like the other, more complicated bone graft, was right.  There was not even the terrible swelling that I had before and I actually got to attend church on Sunday morning.  But still...I'm thinking about that Tooth Fairy thing and sure wishing that I had mentioned it; it would be nice to have a new pair of shoes.  Dang it; miss opportunity!  Oh well...maybe next time...


Last Summer Read: "Big Little Lies"

Now that I've found Liane Moriarty,  I intend on reading every single one of her books.  EVERY.  SINGLE.  ONE.  That's just how good they are.  There is not one thing I dislike about her writing style or storylines.  Last week I finished "Big Little Lies".  This book is soon to be turned into a television series, starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

The book revolves around a group of mothers/couples in a small town.  Their lives and little secrets behind smiling faces.  In pops a new single mother,  with her one little boy and suddenly one can see the true-life nastiness that lies within people.

I live in a small town.  In small towns everybody knows everybody...or somebody that know everybody (Does that make sense?).  In a large city, people can get lost. No one knows their business and no one really cares.  But make a misstep in a small town and you've become the daily gossip and often times the outcast.

The new person on the scene typically either fits in immediately or not at all.  Or something happens (as in this book) that suddenly makes them a social outcast.  And that is exactly what happens in this book; the new single mother in town and her son become the outcasts.  And if you have any experience at all with small towns, it is not enough for the group to make you an outcast, they also want to make you suffer.  However, unbeknownst to everyone involved, there are LOTS of little hidden secrets floating around the seemingly perfect lives around town.

This book, as all of Moriarty's books, had me quickly turning the pages to see how everything was going to fit together.  And fit together it did!  At the very end once again.  I'm so glad that over the years I purchased a Kindle and gave up turning to the last few pages of the book to see the outcome before I was finished.  Because this outcome will really shock you.

I would highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this book to read before the series comes out on television.  I'm anxious to watch this curiously dark comedy of sorts.  Already wondering how closely it will follow the original writing.  But I don't think it could be too bad with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon as the two main stars.
                                                             HAPPY READING!

A Weekend To Recharge

Often times whenever you get back from a big vacation you end up more tired that before you went.  Well, either that was the case or a combination of catching up the entire week after we came home.  Anyway you look at it, we were pretty worn out by the end of the week.  And that's exactly why I had decided early on that we would head to our lake house for the weekend.

We actually didn't even tell anyone we were going to the lake until we headed there and our phones started ringing.  "Where are you?"  "What are y'all doing this weekend?"  Now, we love to spend time with OUR BIG FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY, however, now and then we just need a little down time by ourselves.

Whenever we officially opened the house up on the Fourth of July, I told Hubby that we needed to make an effort to spend at least one weekend there a month.  Natchitoches is a wonderful place to just  be.  Everything slows down at the river and life becomes calm and restful.  I'm happy  just doing nothing while there or wandering around the quaint historic little town or even touring the plantation homes.  It's like stepping back in time.  And there, I can relax.

                                      Here's the view from my glass-lined living room wall.
We decided not to restock the kitchen on this visit because that would mean a trip to the grocery store (ugh...) and really...how relaxing would that be?  We thought that just eating our meals downtown would be more fun.

We ate at a cute little sushi restaurant on Friday evening and then on Saturday morning we found the Breakfast Nook that served all sorts of breakfast foods and hot coffee.  Now that was starting the day off right for sure.  Next, Hubby picked up a local tourist paper and informed me that we were going to do The Historic District Walking Tour.  It was still early (too early for the shops to be open) so there were a few things we couldn't get in to; like The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum.  This museum is fairly new in town and I would love to visit it.  I put that on my To do list.  We walked past Kaffie Frederick Store that we have visited numerous times.  It is the oldest store in Louisiana and such a cool place to shop.  We walked from place to place and then we came to something on the list that we were not familiar with; The Spiral Staircase.  We followed the map and looked and looked until finally  I said, "Hey, why don't I go in the visitor's center and ask them?"

The little old lady in the visitor's center was more that happy to help me with directions  and while I was in there I also asked her for a list of all the upcoming festivals and the schedule for the homes on the walking Christmas Tour.  It seems that The Spiral Staircase could only be reached by going through a shop called Plantation Treasures.  There is a door that goes out the back of the shop that leads to it.
 We had to track the staircase down whenever we came back to town later that day, but I was determined to see it.  I never knew about this staircase that was built in 1853 in Bordeaux, France and shipped to Natchitoches via the Red River (Cane River Lake) in 1856.

We walked a little more and I snapped a few other photos of the architectural features I like best; wrought iron and bricks...
I simply love these little alleyways and can just imagine years past the conversations that were had in these secretive places.
The gates were locked to Beau Jardin but the next time I visit they will hopefully be open.  This is a beautiful little area down on the banks of the Cane River where weddings and receptions are held.

By 9 O'clock it was already 90 degrees outside so we went home to watch a little of the Olympics.  Later that afternoon we went to the local movie theater (which we had never been to all these years) to see the new Jason Bourne movie.  It was really good and a great way to beat the heat.  After the movie we drove back downtown for a late lunch or early dinner (whatever you want to call it) at Mama's.

It was nice to go back to our house afterwards and just watch T.V.  The day had been very uneventful and relaxing.  We turned in and awoke early the next morning to drive back in for church services.  That's the great thing about having a lake house only 45 minutes away.  It's far enough away to spend some quiet time, yet close enough to get back home quickly.  On the way in Hubby told me to text the kids and ask them to come for Sunday lunch (we always do Sunday lunch together).  Everyone came this week except Justin and his family.  Parker Ann had her tonsils and adenoids out Thursday and although she had done beautifully and much better than I ever imagined, she was not feeling well enough to be up for very long.

By the time everyone left it had begun to rain.  And rain here in the south in the middle of the summer is a much coveted thing...
                                                  Wonderful, beautiful, glorious rain...

I feel a bit more recharged as I start this new week.  Ready to get up and go again.  To tackle whatever is thrown at me.  We all need to recharge once in a while.  It's not weakness to take a break from the world.  It is actually very good for your health; physical, mental and spiritual.  Learn "The Art of Doing Nothing"...I'm sure it will quite agree with you.


Hatching Sea Turtles

From the moment we arrived at the beach we discovered that there were sea turtle nests all up and down the shoreline.  Off handedly I mentioned how cool it would be to get to see those little creatures hatch.  However, never in a million years did I think that would actually happen.

Sea Turtles, or as we were told, the Loggerhead variety on the beaches we visited this year,  are creatures of habit.  The females crawl up onto the beaches (usually at nighttime) to lay their eggs during the same time each year; typically from July-October.  After the eggs have been laid and covered back up with sand, the female goes back into the ocean while the eggs are left on the beach to hatch.

Hatching occurs anywhere from 55-70 days, often times hatching at two different times per nest.  The average number of eggs laid is about 110.  Whenever we discovered the nest closest to us had already hatched the first time, we kept our eye on it daily to see if the others were getting close to hatching too.

Whenever it is time for the eggs to hatch, you will see this tarp leading down to the water.  The turtles are attracted to light and get confused as they attempt to make their way there.  This keeps them on track for making it there.

Since the eggs are most likely to hatch during dusk (right when the sun goes down, actually), we made sure to walk across to the beach each evening to check on the progress.  While we were checking one evening, a call came in to one of the volunteers we were talking to saying that another nest was hatching about a mile down the beach.  We looked at each other and took off running as fast as we could to see those baby turtles enter the water.  Whenever I finally arrived, I got to see the last few make their way into the waves.
              I know the lighting is poor in this photo, but no flash photography was allowed.

Not all sea turtle eggs hatch, however.  After the first group from a nest hatches, the volunteers keep a close eye on the nest even listening to the sounds from it with a stethoscope that is attached to it.  If in three days the remaining eggs have not hatched, then the nest must be excavated to see what is going on.  Usually there are a lot of infertile eggs, but occasionally there are a couple of turtles that have hatched that just can't make their way to the surface.  That was the case with the nest we had been watching all week.
  Here is the stethoscope where you can hear any movement the hatching turtles might be making.

On the third day we were told that the nest would be excavated around 7:30 p.m. so we were sure to show up at that time.
The volunteers are members of an organization called, Share the Beach.  These volunteers can be seen throughout the day checking the nests and preparing them for hatching.  Here, they are excavating the nest.
One person removes all of the unhatched eggs, while the others lay them out on a sheet that has numbered circles so they can record the number that did not hatch.

It was really sort of sad because only one turtle survived.  All of the eggs were infertile except two.  One of those turtles was not alive and one survived.  I believe the first hatching of this nest was around 50 and then these forty-something did not hatch.
The volunteer put on gloves and placed this lone turtle in a plastic bucket with some sand.  It was then taken to the end of the shoot (closer to the water), where we watched it make its way to the  water, where the waves would wash it into the ocean.

This was such an awesome experience and I am so glad that I got to participate in it.  But, I must say that I felt really bad about that lone little turtle washing out to sea by itself.  I suppose I didn't feel that way about the numerous ones doing the same thing and it was most likely just my maternal instinct rearing its head.  I had to wonder how that lone little creature, so small, could survive the tumultuous waves and prey that would surely be waiting for it.  But then I had to tell myself that this is the way nature intended things to be.

Click the link if you would like to learn more about Sea Turtles.  If you are in the Alabama coast area and would like to find out more about the nests there and where they are located and expected to hatch click on Share the Beach.  Or just look for one of the volunteers who may be walking up and down the beach to check on the nests.