Friday, July 31, 2015

The Downside of Summer Vacation

Summer vacation is a glorious thing when you're a teacher.  Contrary to popular belief, it isn't just a three-month slack fest though.  Teachers still have to attend conferences, go to PD days, coach (insert summer sport here), work to get their classroom organized for the next year, meet with new students and their families, lesson plan, and learn any new curriculum that might be entering the district. Does that sound like a vacation?  Ok, it IS a vacation, just with a smattering of other obligations pieced together.
Sitting outside just before sunset. 
My point in all of this rambling is…what do you do for two or three months when you don't have any of these obligations? I chose to leave my teaching position on Beaver Island and move 300 miles away, which means I'm not currently attending any of these meetings/trainings/whatever.  I also do not currently have a house (whoop whoop for living with my parents) and I do not currently have any children, other than Specks obviously.

I am BORED. Like watching reruns of The Bachelor bored.  Like staying in my pajamas until noon every day bored.  Like making up excuses to drive to the pet store bored.  To add to it, I do not know a single soul here and am operating on a tight budget while Cody and I save up for our new place (we are on the waiting list to move in soon).

Even the family pets think I am boring...
Now, don't think I haven't tried finding activities.  I joined a yoga group, which I am hoping to attend starting on Monday.  I've been reading, but thanks to my fast-reading nature I just finished a 1,200 page book in five days.  I am working out and doing long dog walks every day.  I am exploring the outdoors by going hiking and kayaking.  Seriously though, I am still bored.  Each of these things only takes a few hours (at most) and then I am left with 10+ hours in the day where I have nothing to do.  Boredom is obviously a problem that many people would like to have…and normally I would too.  I think if I was in my own home or knew a couple of people in the area I wouldn't mind at all.  It's just all of the things combined that kind of suck and make me want to complain.  Ah well, I suppose boredom is better than nothing…or maybe it actually is nothing….

Your turn…What are you doing this summer?
Currently listening to…paint drying…because I am that bored...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mt. Baldhead

Mt. Balhead is a cool, little spot in SW Michigan where you can climb 282 steps to the top of a dune.  At the top of that dune, there is an old WWII radar tower and some great hiking trails.  As a kid I LOVED "climbing the mountain" when we came to this area for vacation.  I remember racing to the top (my stamina was much better at the age of eight) and not-so patiently waiting for everyone else to climb to the top.

These days, this is a spot that I like to go to workout because the climb itself is intense.  The stairs are steep and there are kind of a lot of them.  Once you get to the top I would recommend checking out the trails.  The lookout point at the top is pretty fantastic, but the view from the trails is waaaay better.  The trails are nice and they wind through the top of the dune and some heavily wooded areas.

On the other side of the trees you will break into a great dune overlook.  From this spot, you can climb down the dune and enter Oval Beach (FOR FREE) and enjoy a dip in the water.

If you're just there for the workout I would highly recommend climbing to the bottom of the dune and back up again (on the sand side), then trekking back on the trail to the first scenic overlook and heading back down the 282 stairs to the parking lot.  It makes for a seriously sweaty trip, which is why I don't see anything wrong with sneaking down to Lake Michigan for a dip before heading back up the dune :)

Your turn…What whacky places do you like to workout?
Currently listening to…Paris - Grace Potter

Friday, July 24, 2015

Homemade Dog Treats

Last year, my dog (Specks) was diagnosed with a slew of allergies ranging from human dander to grass.  Many of his allergies pertain to food though and it has been a struggle to find things that he can eat, especially when it comes to treats.  Food is a bit easier, and while I've considered preparing all of his food myself, I just can't bring myself to become quite that nuts.  I am already a complete crazy dog-lady, no need to add to it further, at least not yet.  Give it a few months.

Anywhooo…I did start making treats for him.  Here's the recipe!

1 12oz can of dog food (I use Merrick's Limited Ingredient Salmon)
1 Egg
1-2 Cups of flour

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350F.  Mix all ingredients together.  Roll out, using a rolling pin, into a medium-thickness slab of dough.  Cut into bite-sized treats.  Place on baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes, or until browned.  Cooking time will depend on thickness and size of the treats.  Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

Your turn…What are your crazy-pet habits?
Currently listening to…Leave No Trace - Chvches

Monday, July 20, 2015

Impromptu Hike on Livingston Trail

Last week, Cody and I decided that we wanted to head to the Shore Acres Disc Golf Course in Saugatuck, Michigan.  We both totally dig disc golf as a sport (see: excuse to play around outside while potentially drinking a frosty beverage) and this course is relatively close to my parents house.  There must have been a tournament going on or something this particular weekend though because it was PACKED.  Frankly, I don't need a bunch of hardcore frolfers not-so-patiently waiting for me to play through a hole.  I'm slow and not that great at it…meh.

As we walked back to our car, we noticed a trail sign near the entrance to the disc golf course.  Naturally, we followed it and we were not disappointed.

Livingston Trail in Saugatuck Dunes State Park ended up being the perfect short hike.  We hiked about 2 miles total, no biggie.  We did end up spending a fair amount of time at the end of the trail because it opened up onto Lake Michigan.  We were the only people on the beach, which is basically unheard of in SW Michigan at this time of the year.  I suppose the hilly hike was enough to deter most of the families.

I definitely recommend this short hike, especially if you're looking for a semi-secluded beach.  I'd venture a guess that you wouldn't have to fight for a spot on this beach, even on a hot day.  The trail was hilly and ran through some steep dunes.  The trail was a good mix of wooded and beach-y scenery.  Check this out if you are ever hanging in the area!

Your turn…Have you ever been to Saugatuck Dunes State Park?
Currently listening to…Cough Syrup - Young the Giant

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Our Wedding Story

On an early April morning in southeast Alaska, my fiancĂ© became my husband.  Cody and I had been engaged for almost three years when we finally decided to get married.  The ceremony, dress, and everything else were haphazardly planned within ten days of the ceremony occurring.  Despite the quick planning, the ceremony was perfect.  The rain held off for the duration of the day and we were married in the shadow of the mountains and a breathtaking glacier.  Low clouds hanging over the beach created the perfect wedding atmosphere. Words can't describe how wonderful it was, but I think the pictures do a pretty good job at conveying the mood of the day.

Our witnesses and best friends, Claudia and Suzette. 

Cody holding the bouquet.

Claudia and I trying to figure out how to work my new camera. 

Danel, our good friend, marrying us at Skater's Cabin.

Listening to the officiant.

It's official and Claudia is excited!

Standing with my bouquet of flowers. 

Suzette, Cody, and Claudia goofing around.  Glacier in the background. 

Cody, Danel, and I after the ceremony. 

Mr. and Mrs. Middleton! 

Matching XtraTuff boots on the beach. 

Boots on the beach and low clouds on the mountains. 

I had to bring a big sweater to keep warm before and after the ceremony. 

We're married! 
Your turn…Where did you get married at?
Currently listening to…Home - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros