Monday, June 30, 2014

Musical Mondays- Sam Smith

It's going to be a good week people!  I have today off (because I worked the weekend) and then a three day weekend because I get Independence Day off this year!  And it's finally starting to feel like summer here in Wisconsin.  Seriously, it's been chilly and rainy for so long, and before that it was cold and snowy.  I'm loving the hot weather.  Hopefully it will cause all the mosquitoes to overheat and die because those little suckers are getting a little annoying.

Anyway, on to music.  Does anyone else notice their musical tastes changing with the seasons?  Winter seems like a good time for lots of Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, and Civil Wars.  Spring I was on more of a Tegan and Sara, Mumford and Sons, and Macklemore kick, and as the weather has been warming up I've been listening to more dance stuff like Years and Years, and Broken Bells. 

And lately, my favorite has been Sam Smith.  He has this high falsetto voice which is not something I usually like in male vocalists, but he pulls it off.  Here's his most popular song right now- Latch, which is actually from Disclosure, with him just doing guest vocals, but it's pretty great. 

It just feels like the perfect song for summer drives.  He has a couple others that I'm really liking, like "Money on My Mind" and "Stay With Me"

How about you?  Do your musical tastes change with the seasons or am I just a weirdo?  And don't forget to check out Musical Mondays host My So Called Chaos to see what everyone else is listening to this week!  Maybe you'll find a new favorite.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Blogiversary Giveaway!

Yesterday Chair in the Shade turned one!  I can't believe it's already been a year!  I've learned a lot and finished some of the projects I had on my to do list for a while, and started many more. 

This giveaway was supposed to go up yesterday, but by the time I got home from my day shift at work yesterday, all I wanted to do was sleep!  

Prizes galore!
So what are you winning?

  • A tote bag made by me using an Ali Foster pattern out of Amy Butler fabric.  It's bright orange with pale blue chrysanthemums and perfect for summer.
  • A pack of Scentsy melts in Enchanted Mist Scent
  • A booklet of Flower Painting stickers from Dover Publications
  • My Whale Pouch made with Michelle's Patterns Zip Pouch pattern
  • A jar of PB2 peanut butter powder
  • A handmade bracelet
  • An infinity scarf made in black polka dot fabric
  • A pack of Vanilla Cappuccino coffee from Door County Coffee and Tea
  • A pack of Aura Cacia's Foam Bath in Relaxing Lavender Scent.
This prize pack is worth over $60! Want to win?  Of course you do!  So enter using the Rafflecopter giveaway below.  Sorry, but due to shipping costs, giveaway is only open in the US and Canada.  The only mandatory entry is to give me a book or movie recommendation.  I always like discovering new books and movies.  So tell me what I should be checking out.  You can earn additional entries by tweeting about the giveaway and following me on Twitter.

Thanks for making the last year so fun!  And here's to another year of fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 23, 2014

Musical Monday- Birdy's Skinny Love and Light Me Up

I really wasn't planning on linking up for Musical Monday today.  Nothing was sticking out and I've just been listening to a lot of mainstream stuff lately, but this morning while I was flipping through Spotify's recommendations for me, I saw Birdy whom they recommended based on my love of the Civil Wars.  Sometimes I think Spotify is drunk when they give me recommendations, but this time they actually did pretty good.

Birdy does a lot of covers which I actually kind of liked.  Here she is performing Bon Iver's Skinny Love, with her own unique twist on it.

And here she is singing Light Me Up which is more upbeat, and definitely more "poppy" than something I'd normal pick, but it's still pretty good.

Her voice just has this nice quality to it. Like a much less depressed Lana Del Ray, or more fun loving Lordes.  Check her out.  She does some covers of Fleet Foxes, The National, and The XX too.

And don't forget to check out My So Called Chaos' link up to see what all the other kids are listening to this week.  It's easy.  Just click the picture below.

Also, don't forget to stop back later this week!  It's my one year Blogiversary and I have a big present planned for some lucky soul!

Summer Road Trip Day 4- Ironwood and Home

For Day 1 go here, Day 2 here, and Day 3 here.

Heading Out
After a good night's sleep I was up bright and early.  Baraga's Lakeside Inn has restaurant on the ground floor so I decided to go grab some breakfast by myself since everyone else was still sleeping.  The restaurant was nearly empty but the food was good and the waitress was awesome.  I sat at the bar and she sat at the other end drinking coffee with me and chatting about the area.  She really made my morning get off to a great start.

After breakfast I went back up to our room and the girls were up and getting ready for the day.  Originally we had planned on going through the Porcupine Mountains, seeing Lake of the Clouds and Manabehzo Falls and then on to a set of five falls along the Black River.  But, after talking it over, we decided to just hit the falls along the Black River and save the Porcupines for next time since hitting both would mean an extra four hours of driving.

Black River Falls Scenic By Way
In the western edge on the U.P., near Ironwood, is the Black River and along the Black River are several pretty awesome waterfalls.  You drive this black top road for miles with only the occasional house here and there.  I was seriously starting to think we had taken a wrong turn somewhere when suddenly there was a small turn off for Great Conglomerate Falls.   All the other falls are within five minutes of Great Conglomerate Falls.

Great Conglomerate Falls 

Online, it said this falls was called "Great Conglomerate" due to the falls being made of a conglomerate of two falls forming one, but at the falls there was a sign stating that the falls are made up of conglomerate rocks (smaller chunks of rocks compressed together to make a bigger chunk of rock).  I think the later is true in this case.  In some places you can even see individual pieces of rock.
After Great Conglomerate Falls comes Potawatomi Falls.  Both falls are a little bit of a hike to get to, but so pretty once you get there.

Potawatomi Falls

From Potawatomi Falls, you can continue on the trail to Gorge falls.  It's amazing to me how the falls change so much just a little bit down the river, and also how much the river drops in such short distances.

Gorge Falls
Gorge Falls is a unique falls, and you can get closer to it than either of the previous two on the Black River.  After Gorge Falls, it's just a short drive to Sandstone Falls.  And from the parking lot of Sandstone Falls it's only about 1/4 of a mile to the falls, but it's pretty much straight down a set of stairs.  Going down is kind of fun, but hiking back up- not so much fun.

Sandstone Falls
But it's really worth it.  I think this was my favorite of these falls.  You could walk right on to them and the cool breeze they generated felt so nice after all the hiking.  It's very picturesque too.

Sandstone Falls- Downstream
And lastly, comes Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is supposed to be really beautiful but it was hard to get any pictures of it due to the trees and growth.  Maybe it was just a little bit of a let down after how awesome Sandstone Falls was.  It was worth the hike, just not as awesome as some of the previous falls were.

Homeward Bound
After this, we headed home.  It was about 2:30, we were sweaty and hungry, but happy.  Google Maps took us on the most desolate route home possible, I swear, and after making two food stops- one at Subway and one at A&W, we finally got home around 6pm and it felt amazing to be back.  I love to travel, but I don't know how people can go away for a month or two.  I think I'm just a real homebody at heart.  What about you?  Do you live for the open road or is home really where your heart is?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Road Trip Day 3- Munising

You can read about Day 1 here  or Day 2 here

Algers Falls and Church
Day 3 was a Sunday and we didn't have any timed events on the agenda for Sunday, so we got up and slowly got ready.  One of the girls wanted to go to church so she had picked one out online the night before that she thought would be nice.  We were all ready in plenty of time, so we got in the car and set out for Alger Falls, which is right outside of Munising, right on the side of the road and on the same side of town we were currently in. I actually drove right by it the first time, because I didn't remember it being so close to the edge of town but we found it with relative ease and it was nice to see it with the sun just rising up over the top of the falls.  So we snapped a couple pictures and then headed to church.

Alger Falls

We went to Munising Baptist Church which was relatively easy to find once we stopped listening to the GPS that didn't know where it was going.  Church was nice, everyone was very friendly and welcoming, the music was good, the pastor did a great job delivering a message that was relevant and his preaching style held your attention.  Basically, everything you hope for when you go to church.

Munising Falls
After church we had lunch at The Dogpatch which had some sort of Li'l Abner theme going on which I didn't really get since Li'l Abner ended many years before I was even born.  But, my BLT was good and the waitress was nice so I guess that's the main thing.

Munising Falls is just outside of town and very easy to get to.  There's a parking lot, public bathrooms, and a very nice trail right up to it. 

Munising Falls

I don't think they want you to be going off the path and right up to it, but this picture gives you a better idea of how tall the falls are.  The trail makes a Y and you can walk up both arms of it so you can see the falls from both sides.  From here, we headed down the road to Miners Falls

Miners Falls
Miners Falls is a little bit more of a drive and you'll be well out in the country, but I'd say it's worth it.  You can't get very close to it unless you want to make your own path.  But, the mosquitoes were thick so we just stayed on the trail, snapped a couple pics and headed on our way.

Miners Falls
By this time it was mid afternoon, and we debated hitting some of the other falls in the area or heading back to Baraga where we had reservations for the night, and was about a two hour drive away.  In the end we decided to head out and just stop at a couple of the scenic overlooks on the way.  We drove pretty much straight through except for one stop at Starbucks in Marquette due to one cranky driver needing caffeine (me) and one car sick passenger.  Feeling slightly revived we continued on.

Baraga for the Night
About fifteen minutes before we hit Baraga, we stumbled upon Canyon Falls.  There's a park for it right off the main road and then a nicely groomed path right down to the gorge.  I had been here once before and remembered it as a nice falls so I stopped, woke up the girls who were sleeping and we headed out.  This falls are in a gorge and the rock has this neat striation.  You can get down right next to the falls.

Chelsea at Canyon Falls
And there's wild flowers growing up everywhere- along the trail, in the crevices, it's pretty awesome.

Downstream from Canyon Falls
Canyon Falls has to be one of my favorites.  It's easy to find, easy to get to, you can get really close to it, and it's just full of natural beauty.  Even without the falls I would consider it very picturesque.

After our visit we all felt soothed and calm.  We checked into our motel, the Baraga Lakeside Inn.  It's right on Lake Superior (and there were still some ice chunks floating in the bay!).  It has an inside pool and sauna which is part of the reason I booked there.  I figured after all the driving we could use a relaxing night before heading home in the morning.

Everything seems to close up early in Baraga, but we were able to snag some dinner at the Baraga Drive In, which had decent food and it was kind of fun to eat in the car and have the waitress bring us our food and drinks.  The service was good and we all liked the retro feel of the place.

After dinner, we headed back to the motel swam a little, sat in the sauna for a while and then pretty much went to bed.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer Road Trip Day 2- The Keewenaw and a Boat

Day 2 of 4 of my U.P. Adventure.  Find day one here.

Early Start
I don't know why, but for some reason, whenever I'm on vacation, I get up super early.  It's like I want to soak everything in and see everything and so my body is just ready to go bright and early.  I woke up at 6am Michigan time but 5am Wisconsin time.  (The Central Time Zone ends and Eastern Time Begins in the Porcupine Mountains.)  So, I called my mom.  My parents are up super early all the time.  I usually am not because I work mostly second shift.  So, talked to mom for a while, made some breakfast, read a little, and then I showered and got ready for the day.  Everyone else was still sleeping so I drove into Calumet, which is practically the same town as Laurium. Like you're in Calumet, you turn right and go two blocks and there's a welcome to Laurium sign.  Kind of cool.  So, anyway, I checked out downtown Calumet, found out when their used bookstore opened and then debated if I needed more coffee or not.  I decided not since I'd already drank half a pot.  I got back to the house and the girls were all pretty much ready to go which was awesome.  This was the day with the most on the agenda, so we loaded up the car and headed north.

Exploring the Keewenaw
For those of you unfamiliar with the Keewenaw Peninsula, it's a little finger that juts of the top of the upper peninsula.  The northern part of the Keewenaw is actually an island thanks to the Keewenaw Waterway.

The day had started out a little on the cool side, but we figured it'd warm up and it went on.  It did the exact opposite.  It got colder and colder.  By the time we got to Eagle River it was 45 degrees.  After taking pics of the waterfall there, I changed out of crops and into jeans and a sweatshirt.  We trudged on.  Just outside of Eagle Harbor is Jacob's Falls, which of course we had to get pictures of.  It's a nice little fall right along the road.  You just pull over and there it is, smallish but, quietly washing over the rock on the right side of the road, running through a culvert under the road, and then into Lake Superior which is just on your left.  
Eagle River Falls

Jacob's Falls

Right after Jacob's Falls is Jampot, a little shop ran my some Catholic Monks making jams, breads, candy and cookies.  They have lots of unique flavors like pear butter, thimbleberry, strawberry rhubarb, as well as traditional flavors like raspberry, blueberry, apple butter and the like.  I had to get pear butter (one of my favorite flavors and it can be hard to find) and some cranberry ginger for my parents.

After that we were on to Eagle Harbor which has a lighthouse museum.  I've visited it before and was looking forward to taking my friends to visit, but unfortunately it didn't open for the season until the next day.  Just our luck.  We did have fun looking around the grounds though, even if we couldn't go inside.  It was super foggy on the lake.  Like so foggy you could only see a few feet out, but while we were there it started lifting and pushing back a little.  Unfortunately, it didn't warm up much.  So, we did a little shopping in town before heading on to Copper Harbor.

Right before Copper Harbor is Brockway Mountain Drive.  It's about 9 miles of curvy road but the view at the top is absolutely amazing.  It's 1,320 feet above sea level and once you reach the top, you can see for miles.  The road was a little rough in places and the little shop that used to be at the top of the mountain is gone.  (Later on, we found out from one of the locals that the mountain used to be privately owned, but was sold to the Eagle Harbor Township in 2013 and the shop was closed.)  The view is breathtaking, but I'm not daring to climb out to the edge to get really great pictures. 

From the Top of Brockway Mountain

Copper Harbor is the cutest little town, complete with fudge shops and rock shops.   We ate lunch at The Mariner North which is a nice little hotel/ restaurant combo that had pretty good food with a lot of their dressing and things being made in house.  Our waitress was very friendly, and they had great coffee!  I don't know what kind it was but it was great.  We did a little more shopping after lunch, and then it was off to Munising.

Long Drive to Munising
Munising is three and a half hours from Copper Harbor and we had to be there at 7:15 pm to catch our boat for the Pictured Rock National Lakeshore tour.  So we piled in the car and headed out.  It was a little drizzly and just that kind of day that makes you want to nap.  So the girls did that and I drove.  We had to make a stop for gas and one for a bathroom break and we ended up getting to our motel about a half hour before the tour.  We checked in and then jumped back in the car to get to the dock and head out again.

I'm on a Boat!
The boat tour is a little over two hours.  They show you the lighthouse on Grand Island, Miner's Castle, and some of the other rock formations along the shore, as well as explain how different mineral deposits washing over the rock make different colors.  It's pretty cool and the tour guide did a great job cracking jokes and keeping it interesting, but it was so cold out there and rainy.  You're in a covered boat but about half way through I was just ready to go to the motel, put on my pjs and go to bed.  By the time the tour was done and we were heading back, the fog was back, and for the last hour you couldn't see much besides the fog.  I think the tour would be much more fun on a nice summer day, when it's bright out and you could sit on the top deck and gawk and take pictures.

Cold and Tired
We finally got back to our motel around 11pm.  We stayed at the Terrace Motel, which is cheap, pretty clean, has cable and wifi, and a kitchen onsite if you want to do a little cooking.  We were all freezing when we got back, but there was no hot water to take a shower in.  My guess is some of the other guests were also on the boat tour, beat us back to the motel and used up all the hot water.  :)  Seriously, because by the next morning we had plenty of hot water.  The beds were not super comfy, but we were all tired and fell asleep pretty quick.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Road Trip Day One- Driving and Waterfalls

As promised (or threatened) here's a little taste of my recent road trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  
Hitting the Road
Everyone arrived at my house Friday Morning, and we piled all the luggage into my car and hit the road. It was a nice Wisconsin summer day. One where it's sunny and warm but not too humid and the sun isn't pounding down on you. It takes about three hours to cross Wisconsin and come to Land o Lakes, which is a small little town on the edge of Wisconsin, right before you enter Michigan.

Originally, we had planned to just wing it and stay where ever we decided once we were there and just do whatever we felt like. I was good with this plan until about a week before but then I decided we should kind of have a route mapped out just so we had a time table and reservations at places that had gotten good reviews on Trip Advisor- that kind of thing. Plus, a lot of the waterfalls are off the beaten path and without planning ahead, you'd miss a lot of them.  So, I had mapped out three waterfalls for Friday.

Bond Falls
Bond Falls was the first one.  This is a Michigan state park, which means you have to buy a passport to visit it.  It was $9 and that's good for the whole day, for any park in Michigan.  (Note: I was there a few years ago and parked at the top of the falls and walked in, and didn't pay.  Not sure if I was just oblivious that I was supposed to pay, or they used to not charge or what.)  It was beautiful, as Bond Falls always is, but the mosquitoes were horrible.  I had sprayed my arms and lower legs with natural repellant (Now's Bug Ban) which worked pretty well, but I hadn't sprayed my face or clothes and they were just thick.  Like you could move your hands through the air and just feel the mosquitoes bumping into you.  Totally gross.  So we didn't stay too long.  But, it's a gorgeous park, great views, cement steps and railing.  The steps go right up along side it, so you can safely get pretty close to it.

 Bond Falls, Ontonagon County, MI

Agate Falls
After leaving Bond Falls, we headed for Agate Falls, which is right on the highway, it's on the same river as Bond Falls.  You park in a little wayside, and walk a nice path, to a view of the falls.  Easy peasy.  It was also pretty shady, which was nice, because the U.P. was just as warm as home had been.  I've seen some beautiful shots of this falls when taken alongside it, instead of above it.

View from scenic overlook of Agate Falls, Ontonagon County, MI

O Kun de Kun Falls
After that we were thinking about getting some lunch, but we came upon the road for O Kun de Kun Falls next.  I had never been to O Kun de Kun, but from what I read it was supposed to be gorgeous.  We parked the car in this little turn off and followed the arrow on the sign that directed us that it was 1.3 miles to the falls, but not before coating ourselves in bug spray, changing into sneakers, and grabbing water.  It was a long hike.  We were starting to think we had taken a wrong turn somehow, or that they don't know how to measure miles or something.  We walked and walked, across 2x6s and jumped over muddy spots and climbed over down trees.  There is a path and it's pretty easy to follow, but be warned, it feels like it takes forever to get there.  But, when we finally reached it, we were so glad we had come.

O Kun de Kun Falls, Ontonagon County, MI
 It's not the biggest falls we saw, or even necessarily the prettiest, but it was the most fun.  O Kun de Kun falls over a rock lip, so you can actually shimmy behind it and stand in this little mini cave while the water falls right over you.  You get a little wet from the spray, but it's totally worth it, and pretty refreshing after the hike.

Here's a second picture so you can get a better idea of the scale of the falls

Brianna, behind the falls.

Victoria Dam
According to Google, Victoria Dam is very close to O Kun de Kun, and even though we were all starving, we decided to trek over to it.  I had read that the falls were part of the dam, but they were listed as having outstanding views.  We drove for what seemed forever, up a hilly gravel road, and finally reached the falls.  Unfortunately, it is literally part of the dam, so it's all fenced off.  Plus, there's a bunch of trees kind of obscuring the view.  From what we could tell, it was probably pretty.  :)

Victoria Dam, or at least what you can see of it.

Home for the Night
By the time we finished visiting that falls, I was ready to eat and crash for the night.  We stopped at Culver's in Houghton, and then made a stop at the grocery store for bagels and bottled water for the morning.  We crossed into the Keewenaw Peninsula and drove straight through to Laurium.

Originally, we had wanted to stay at the carriage house at this B&B in Laurium, it had lots of room and would have been perfect for four girls.  But, when I called, they were in the midst of redoing the bathroom, but the lady there was super helpful and ended up hooking us up with one of their vacation homes for the night.  Normally they don't rent them by the single day, but it was open, and there was a few days gap between bookings so they said we could have it it we wanted it.

I'm really glad we took it.  It had a full kitchen, a washer and dryer (so we were able to wash our bug repellant and slightly muddy clothes).  Plus, we got to tour the Laurium Manor Inn, which is now the bed and breakfasts.  The house was built in 1895 and has been restored.  So, it still has that old house charm, but with nice bathrooms and kitchen appliances.  :)  Plus, it's in the residential part of town so you feel like you just live there.  We all really liked the house and I would definitely stay there again, if the opportunity came up.

Our home, Miner's Cottage, from the sidewalk.
So, after driving all day, and trekking through the woods, we all showered and just crashed for the night.  But we, were all happy and comfy.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

One Favorite Thing- Max and Gertie

For this week's Favorite Thing(s), I once again only have one thing to show off.  My good friend, Christy, the one who does photography and took the photos of me I shared this winter, has started another venture.  She's now dabbling in earring making and she's so creative!  I just love what she's been coming up with.

So, this week, I'm sharing the link to her shop with you as well as some pics of her awesome creations.  Her shop is called Gertie and Max and she makes gorgeous pretties that are reasonably priced.  Check these out:

All three of these pairs are currently available.  The pair on the left is $14 and the other two are $16.  I love that she chooses organic looking designs.  I'm not a big traditional jewelery person.  When I got engaged I didn't even want a diamond.  But I do wear a lot of earrings just because it's a way to personalize having to wear scrubs every day to work.  And I love that Christy's designs are fancy without being over the top looking or being crazy priced.  I could pull them off with scrubs or wear them when I finally get to go out for a nice dinner and I think they'd fit both occasions. 

So, get out there and take a look at her shop, I'm sure you'll find something you love.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Home Sweet Home

So, my vacation has come and gone.  Sorry for being MIA, but work was hectic, then there was reservations to make, and travel plans to confrim, and then, just like that it was all over and done.

Here's a rough outline of the path we took on our trip.

We started in the southern part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and visited Bond Falls, then went to the northern tip of the Keewenaw Peninsula to Copper Harbor, then drove to Munising to see Picture Rock National Park, and finally ended up in Ironwood visiting five water falls along the Black River.  In all, we saw fifteen waterfalls.

I'll share more about our trip in the coming days, but first a little background info:  I went with two girls from work and one of the girl's sisters.  At 31, I was the old lady of the group.  I also did all the driving since we took my car and I'm kind of possessive of it.  We left last Friday morning, and got home around Monday night.  The trip was one of my kind of New Year Resolutions (more like a 2014 bucket list I guess) and basically, I just wanted to see how much nature I could cram into four days.  I've been to the U.P. three other times so I "kind of" know my way around but I discovered even more things I love this trip. 

If you ever get the chance to visit, I highly recommend it, and can't wait to go back.  Here's a little shot of some cute violets that lined the path to one of the falls we visited. I'll be sharing more in the next few days.