Tag Archives: travel

Holiday Weekend at Itasca State Park

Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, the hubby and I took a spontaneous trip to Itasca State Park. Now, we have been to MANY state parks, but Itasca is by far the best we’ve ever experienced. Located in northwestern Minnesota, this park is the oldest in the state. Founded in 1891, the park offers year-round camping (most with electrical hook-ups), a lodge with a restaurant (the french toast is scrumptious), rental cabins, and that’s just the accomodations.

The main room at Douglas Lodge. Named for former Attorney General Wallace B. Douglas who was a pivotal figure in the battle to save timber in the park at the turn-of-the-century. The lodge was built in 1905.

Itasca State Park is set on 32,000 acres and contains 100 lakes. Lake Itasca, which is crystal clear, has a fabulous beach and the best changing rooms/showers I’ve ever used. The sports facility offers the rental of bicycles, boats, and other outdoor recreational equipment. There are several boat launches and it’s quite nice to paddle to the lodge for a meal.

Lake Itasca Tours offers a 2-hour boat excursion on the Chester Charles II. The lodge will pack you a picnic lunch or you can purchase snacks and beverages on board.

Wilderness Drive is a 10 mile stretch that takes you through the heart of the forests. Beautiful winding road with plenty of wildlife and nature. Gorgeous!

There are so many hiking trails there’s no way you can experience them in one trip. We took the Dr. Roberts trail. This trail winds for 2 miles through forest and bogs. There is also the Old Timer’s Cabin on a point that was once used for honeymoons. It is only 4 logs high!

On the trail. So tranquil, but the flies were stalking me!

There was a huge storm a few days earlier and there were many trees down. It didn’t matter-I would have found my way around anything to get away from the bugs!

The storm knocked a tree onto a tent (no one was hurt). The hubby goofing off!

The park also features the Aiton Fire Tower. This 100 foot tall tower, which was restored in 1998, is worth the climb. The view is amazing. You can see over the top of the forest, spot the lakes, and really appreciate the wonder of nature.

Only 6 people can be on the tower at a time. I didn’t think I’d make it to the top, but I am so glad I did.

Guido 100 feet up. Look at that view!

I’m trying to summon the energy to climb 100 feet!

One of the really special points of the park is the fact that the headwaters of the Mississippi River are located here. Here the mighty Miss begins her 2552 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s quite spectacular. Very small, very clear, and full of people! Some were swimming, some were wading, and others were walking across the slippery boulders.

Can you tell the hubby is a writer/photographer? Look at all that gear!

The rocks were way too treacherous for me, but there were plenty of others willing to give it a go.

We always stop to listen to the demonstrations. Here, a young park ranger teaches me about fishers.

After a day of exploring, we headed back to our camp. One of the best parts of the trip was that our good friends live close by. They came over to hang out with us for the evening.

Best buds, campfire, and being outdoors. Makes for a very enjoyable evening!

If you’re looking for a wonderful place to camp and explore, I highly recommend Itasca State Park. It’s a true gem!

For more information, please visit the DNR




Filed under lifestyle

Through The Years…

Today is the hubby and my 8th wedding anniversary. We had a spectacular wedding on my mom and late step-father’s picturesque farm. Hundreds of white fairy lights, dozens of tiki torches, and all of the people we love the most. A girl really couldn’t ask for more.
We started dating a little over fifteen years ago and it has been quite an adventure. This man has taken me to places and countries I never dreamed I’ve ever see. He has made me laugh, taught me that there’s nothing I can’t do, and been my rock during the hardest and most devastating events of my life. He has shown me that being spontaneous is one of the great joys in life. On any given day we may hop in the car and just drive, discovering many fabulous places along the way. He is my best friend and I cannot wait to share the rest of my life with him and the journeys that are waiting on the horizon. Here’s a look through the years…

The Badlands in South Dakota

Lake Calhoun

Christmas at my dad’s house

Germany, his mother-land

Gooseberry Falls

Our wedding

My anniversary flowers

Happy Anniversary Guido! I love you more now than ever before…


Leave a comment

Filed under lifestyle

Beach Lover

By now, I think you all realize I love summer. I am a Leo and we cats love the sun and heat. I also love summer because I have a glow and need less makeup. Because of the importance of sunscreen, most of my glow is created by self-tanner and the right combination of products. And just in time for summer, Nars has created the perfect set to enable all women to look as though they spent the day at the beach.
Nars “Beach Lover” is a 5 piece travel-size gift set that will give you the perfect island glow. Featuring their most iconic beachy colors, this is a must have for anyone that loves the look of spending the day at the beach without really doing it.

Nars Beach Lover $49 ($74 value) is a limited edition and is exclusive to Sephora

This amazing set contains the following products:

Blush Duo in Hungry Heart (golden ivory) and Orgasm (peach pink with golden tones). This duo compliments each other perfectly. The blushes are translucent, natural, and leave skin with a healthy glow.

Soft Touch Shadow Pencil in Skorpios (iridescent copper). This pencil is smooth and creamy and can be worn all over the eye. It is also incredibly long-wearing.

Lip Gloss in Laguna (bronze and limited edition). A very pigment dense gloss that doesn’t dry out your lips, stays put, and makes lips look kissable.

Illuminator in Laguna (brown with golden shimmer). A miracle product, this illuminator gives skin a refreshed luminosity. Worn alone or with other makeup, you will look radiant.

No makeup, just a beachy glow (Mexico 2006)

So, if you can’t make it to an island, at least you can fake it!!



Filed under Beauty

Tools of the Trade

Someone recently wrote to me asking about makeup brushes. I have to admit, I am not an authority on this subject. There are only two I use on a daily basis (and I love them), so I did a little research. There are tons of makeup brushes out there and I can certainly see how it would be overwhelming. After talking to some makeup artists I know, I think I have narrowed down the list and present you with my favorites. The one important thing you should know is that when it comes to brushes, you really do get what you pay for. A brush from a professional line is made with better materials and will last much longer, especially if you take care of them. There is nothing I hate more than when a brush sheds black bristles all over my face. I suggest you do your own investigating and talk to the pros. They will be able to steer you toward a collection that will fill your tool needs. That being said, here are my choices.

MAC Cosmetics 168 Large Angled Contour Brush $34

I use this brush every day for blush application. It’s not a typical choice for applying blush, but I like the contour and the slimness of the bristles. I find it enables me to put blush precisely where I want it. Overall, MAC is one of the best choices for brushes. It is a professional makeup line and the quality is top notch.

Bare Escentuals Full Flawless Application Face Brush $28

This is the other brush I use daily. I always use powder and this is what I apply it with. This can give you medium to full coverage (depending on how much powder you use) and it makes blending super easy.

Sephora Slim Essential Brush Set ($98 value) $39

This is a great collection for most women. It contains professional quality brushes in a travel-friendly pouch. Your 5 most essential brushes are in the set-powder brush, blush brush, large and small eyeshadow brushes, and a retractable lip brush.

NARS Botan Brush $75

This is the mother of all brushes. The Botan brush is a round Kabuki brush designed for precise powder application. It is great for loose powder application, buffing, and blending. It is big and expensive, but it really is incredible.

Bare Escentuals Full Coverage Kabuki $28

I also own this one, but don’t use it on a daily basis. It is a great quality brush and more affordable (and smaller) than the Nars brush. It is great for applying powder foundation or loose powder. Makes blending a snap!

Sephora Collection Makeup Artist Brush Belt Set ($422 value) $275

This is for girls that love makeup and the art of application. It has every tool you need! This collection contains 15 deluxe, professional brushes and comes with Sephora’s Makeup Artist Brush Belt Case. Just strap it on and start creating your favorite looks.

This really is just the tip of the iceberg as far as makeup brushes go. Just remember, it’s an investment. It may cost more in the beginning, but you’ll end up spending less in the long run. You only need brushes you will use, and make sure they feel right in your hands. And don’t be afraid of asking a professional to show you how to use them properly-that’s what they’re there for!


Filed under Beauty

Towelette Anyone?

I am very loyal to my skin care regime. I never sway from any of the steps…except when I’m traveling. With the limitations given to us regarding liquids on airplanes, I needed to streamline what I bring when I fly. I have fallen hard for disposable cleansing towelettes. Not only are they great for traveling, they also rock when you are camping. You can use them to clean everything (showering is not always an option). But not all towelettes are created equal. Many made me break out and feel oily, or it would take 5 just to get the day off of my face.
I really love Philosophy’s “Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cloths”. They have taken their “Purity Made Simple” cleanser and put it into an oversized towelette. This cleanser is great for any skin type. They swipe away dirt, makeup and oil, leaving you with clean, refreshed skin. And the best part-no need to rinse!

Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Cleansing Cloths $20 for 45

Our more affordable version comes from a reader recommendation. Jen says, “I hate washing my face! The constant dirty washcloths and water running down my arms. I am in love with ‘Say Yes To Cucumbers’ facial towelettes. They take off my makeup and there is no need to rinse. They have improved my skin too!”

Say Yes To Cucumbers Facial Towelettes $5.99 for 30
Say Yes To Carrots

Thanks Jen for a great recommendation! I love hearing from all of you. Please let me know if you have any great products you would like me to try.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beauty