Monday, July 25, 2016

A Day At Valleyfair

One of the things my kids look forward to every summer is Valleyfair! This summer is no different The one thing...ONE thing they asked to do was head down there at some point this summer. Our days are literally so full, I wasn't sure if we'd be able to make it there. This month, we had one day, a Sunday to get down there. When Valleyfair agreed to work with me, I knew we had to make it work!

Saturday night as I was going to bed, it was raining! I looked up the weather, and all I saw online was to expect thunderstorms on Sunday. Ugh! I even woke up thinking I heard it was raining. As we headed to church, I saw that there wasn't a cloud in the sky! I was thrilled...until we came out of church and it was completely overcast. lol We went back to the house to have lunch and decide if we still wanted to go or stay home. I convinced the boys to chance it!

The one thing I did before we headed down was print out prepaid parking, prepaid meal, and a prepaid cup that I purchased on the Valleyfair website. We saved a few bucks doing it that way! We headed down in the early afternoon! Took us about an hour to get there, and found pretty good parking.

I was shocked at how few people were at the park! I think most people thought the weather was going to bad, and decided not to go. Bummer for them, but score for us!! All Buddy wanted to do was get on the Wild Thing. That's his favorite ride. lol The youngest didn't seem to have a ride he absolutely had to do. He just wanted to ride. Me...I just wanted to go on the "mom" rides. hahaha Oh my gosh, I've SO become my mom.

I'm the mom who just wants to walk through the park watching my kids have a great time. That gives me so much joy. I love rides like the Monster, Scrambler, Tilter, and SuperCat. Now, I wanted to see if I could overcome my fear and ride the RipTide again. Well, I rode it. hahaha The youngest went with me, and he loved it. Not sure I'll be able to do it again on our next visit. lol If you watch my Instagram video of the ride, I'm on the back side all the way to the right. Everyone else's legs are flying around with the ride, mine are pinned to the ride, and I'm holding on for dear life. HA!

We spent the afternoon walking around the park going on ride after ride. It wasn't until a couple hours later that the boys ran into their first "line". I use the word "line" loosely since the line probably was 10-15 minutes. No complaining there! That was for the High Roller. My boys were in heaven with how easy the rides were to get onto. Literally it was get off the ride, get on the ride, get off the ride, get on the ride!

Dinner time came and we looked through our park map to find the Single Meal locations. We went to Planet Snoopy Grill since that's where we were. Buddy and I had cheeseburgers with fries, and the youngest had chicken strips with fries. The meals come with a drink. We had also filled up our 2016 Souvenir Bottle. If we had gotten there earlier in the day or had it been hotter, we probably would've used it constantly. Sunday was a perfect day and filled it up with one pop and one water.

Now, I have a habit that absolutely annoys the life out of my boys, but causes me a great deal of glee. I'm a screamer on rides, even when it's not necessary. mmmmm ESPECIALLY when it's not necessary. hahahaha Hearing my boys, "Mom! Stop yelling! Oh my gosh, mom, please stop! This ride isn't even scary!" Oh my word, I'm laughing so hard right now thinking about it. When my oldest daughter got there and we rode the Northern Lights, I maaaay have done a lot of screaming. She laughed hysterically, both boys kept yelling at me to stop screaming, and I just kept screaming. It. Was. The. Best. Ok, so I may have gotten on my own nerves with that ride. ;)

Let's just say, they all fought over NOT sitting with me when it came to going on the Corkscrew. heh heh heh Listen, if they're going to get me on something like a roller coaster, they have to suffer listening to me scream. Now, for some reason, the Corkscrew isn't one that scares me. Climbing, climbing, climbing, and then falling at an insane rate of speed scares the nonsense out of me.

I was so excited when my oldest was able to join us. She came after work and a meeting. We had a great time squishing the youngest in the Monster and spinning until we wanted to puke in the Tilter. Sometimes we were able to get those two to spin like crazy, but then the next spinning. We couldn't figure it out. lol

We got a lot of walking in with this park, but never got to the Soak City Waterpark. I had the boys bathing suits in my bag just in case they wanted to go get wet! It was fun watching people going down the slides! Next time I plan on going early in the morning as soon as the park opens and staying until it closes. The 4 of us definitely closed the place down. Our mosquito bites are evidence of that!

I have a list of what you should absolutely bring to Valleyfair or any amusement park you might be visiting this summer. I remembered most things as I went through our day.

1. bandages

  • Someone will end up needing one either because of all the walking you do and getting blisters, or from a boo boo

2. variety size of baggies

  • These come in handy for the things you don't want to get wet. Stick your phone in one, your car keys, credit card(s), tickets you've printed ahead of time, and anything else you need to stay dry

3. rain poncho

  • Check out the weather, and bring a poncho if any rain is in the forecast. They're also nice to have if you're going to do rides that get people wet, but you want to stay mostly dry

4. ibuprofen

  • It's entirely possible someone will end up needing a pain reliever of some sort

5. dry socks & shoes and extra underwear

  • You will thank me for this one. Even if it's just a pair of flip flops at the end of the day, you'll like having dry feet. I can't say enough about having dry underwear once the rest of your clothing dries

Be sure to follow Valleyfair on Facebook & Twitter to keep up with all the fun at their park!

Which amusement park did you visit last?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Munsinger & Clemens Gardens

In all of the years I lived in Central Minnesota, I had never visited the Gardens! I knew they were up in St. Cloud, and I love flowers, but just never found the time to check them out. Thankfully, Tara had mentioned how she was supposed to have gone with friends, but something happened and they weren't able to go. I suggested we go the next day!

When she got home from work, she mentioned that it was pretty cloudy out, and that it was going to rain. I looked outside, and somehow convinced her that if there was going to be rain, we'd totally beat it with a visit to the Gardens.

It was around 5 minutes from her house, and she hadn't been there before either! She had even gone to college up there! HA! I didn't feel so bad after hearing that. Oh, and she's lived in the area her whole life.

Going to Munsinger & Clemens Gardens in July had some beautiful flowers, but I think it was towards the end of the spring blooming flowers so we probably missed the best viewing of flowers. I would say mid spring would be a wonderful time to take a walk through the gardens.

We started out in the Formal Garden. This plant, which I don't know what it is, really caught my attention. The small leaves are a deep purple, as you can see and is more shiny. The mature leaves are a lighter purple and more matte in appearance. It grows on a thick single stalk. I wish there had been a label near it to know what it was.

Many of the perennials were past their bloom and didn't get to see many of those. I'm guessing this next one is an orchid of some sort, but again, not sure of which variety. I just loved how beautiful it was. I really want to go back and take more pictures of it.

I've never really walked through a botanical garden before, and this was just wonderful to walk and enjoy. Now, I think in most places like this, I'm one who can sort of glance at the things around me, and I keep walking. I suppose "thankfully" many of the flowers I would've wanted to take lots of pictures of were already past their prime, because it literally could've taken me a few hours to enjoy every plant here if it had been a month ago.

The small plants are what I found enjoyable. Many I'd never seen before, and have decided they MUST go in my garden. Now, I'm guessing some may be shade plants, and that simply means I get to have a shade garden. I can handle that. aren't the colors on these awesome?!

As Tara and I walked through the garden, all I could think of was how wonderful it would be to have an estate, and then create a garden like these, where people could walk along paths and enjoy all varieties of plants! Yes, I like my little garden, but it's got a long way to go before it's anything I can brag about.

When we got to the Virginia Clemens Rose Garden, I was so disappointed that m phone wasn't capturing the colors and designs of the blooms. I'm not a huge rose fan, but the colors, like the one above were fabulous. This bright reddish pink, with the white I loved, but my phone didn't get it very well.

The rose above reminded me of a peony. All of the petals as a big flower head. It didn't make me think rose, but it was in the rose garden, and you could tell in person that it was. I wish again that they'd have given us an idea of the variety. I should call and ask. Make them walk like I did naming off all of the plants. lol

This one I totally loved the color. It looked like someone had flicked paint on the petals. You know what I didn't do though? I didn't take time to smell them. I'm sure that's unforgivable in some places. Next time? And yes, I realize it's pink, and I don't do pink, but that was just a cool design.

Again, I simply loved the color of this flower. I also like how it was at the peak of it's bloom. There's something gentle about this rose that made me wish I could pluck it. Of course, I could never bring myself to do something like that. I don't think I could ever grow a cut garden because I just want to enjoy the blooms until they disappear outside. It's the same with the photo below. It's such a soft color, and the blossom is so perfect.

What's neat about visiting here is that the gardens are only separated by a road. On the opposite side of the second garden is the Mississippi River. You can take a break from your stroll by sitting on one of the benches.

Down here, we saw some beautiful shade plants, and there was even a little cactus garden. I don't think I'll ever get over the variety of plants that God has created. None of us will ever have seen all that He's made! Some of the cactus was so strange! I was fascinated by them.

Ok, so here's what I found SO incredibly neat about the above plant. The center piece on the bottom right is where all of the leaves "fall" from. I took a closeup of it and it's on the bottom left. I know, I know, it's a bit blurry, but what's amazing is that the center is so tight, you can feel the spikes if you run your hand over it, but they're smooth along that center piece. The spikes don't stab you. Now, when the leaves fall open what you see in the top picture of the collage, they'll totally stick you if you touch them.

As we got toward the bottom of Munsinger Gardens, Tara and I both heard the peacocks calling out. I thought they might be wandering the grounds, but it turned out they were in their coop. Come to think of it, I never saw anyone who works/volunteers at the Gardens. Not surprising the birds weren't out, but they sure were beautiful.

We finished out tour by winding our way back up to Clemens Gardens. There were a variety of fountains we stopped to check out as we were walking, and this one struck me as interesting. Below where the water is coming out, the fountain is surrounded by bull heads. lol Each of the heads is spitting out a stream of water.

We had a marvelous time, and the best part? It's free! As we walked around, we noticed so many spots where a couple could take their wedding photos. I mean, how could you resist, especially when the Gardens are in full bloom? They're open daily through the season until 10pm. There's a gift shop, but unfortunately (or Fred might be thinking "fortunately") it was closed. I'm sure I would've come away with some sort of keepsake! Next time.

Have you ever visited a garden like this? What is your favorite flower?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Into The Garden With Gilmour & Giveaway

One of my favorite things to do once the good weather shows up is head outside to the garden. It always starts with my perennial garden. If you love being in the garden then you know how exciting it is when everything starts to come through the ground. With it being our first year in our new home, We have a lot to figure out with our lawn, well "lawn". I say it with quotations because the only lawn we have is directly in front of our house, and the rest of it is mostly crabgrass.

I reached out to Gilmour because when I worked at Menards, we had so many of their products in my hardware gardening section! I love working with products I'm not only familiar with, but believe in. It doesn't matter if you're a city dweller or from the country, when people came into my store, they knew what they wanted, and sakes alive if we weren't constantly down stocking because our stock always ran out! When they agreed to work with me on a review & giveaway, I was over the moon!

I was sent a hose, nozzle, wand, dual timer, and garden sprinkler! What a great selection to check out. Around my house, they're all necessary. First, let me say that when Fred and I combined our homes, some of the household items that were brought together left a lot to be desired. Let's do a comparison of a hose he had, and the hose we now have! I think you'll be able to tell that the first one is so bad, there was no need to pose it. lol

We don't have any great access to the backyard to water it. The lawn and my vegetable garden both need a hose that can go over a fence and not bend in such a way that the water flow is cut off. Thankfully the Flexogen hose does that job well! It has flexibility and is kink resistant. Exactly what we need.

I also wanted hanging plants along the front of our house, but the quandary in that was watering them. I'd either have had to take the plants down every time, brought the hose up on the porch, or tried to spray them from the yard. None of those were great options for me. Then along comes the 8 Pattern Front Control Watering Wand! THAT was fabulous! The watering wands were always what we in-store used for our garden center at work. They made watering the plants so much easier! Same thing for at home.

Of course you've seen my flower garden at the front of my house, and I have high hopes for what that will become as time goes by. This garden I like to water by hand. It's my opportunity to keep an eye on the weeds, and see if there are any pests I need to worry about. I was so glad to receive the thumb control nozzle because my hands sometimes get tired holding in the trigger of one. This, you simply push it up or back with your thumb!

Now the treat of all the items that were sent to me was the Heavy Duty Elevated Sprinkler. When I turned it on the first time, I was fascinated watching it. When they say it's a "gentle rain" that's exactly what they mean. I've actually considered pulling it up from the spot in the garden on a hot day, and just laying under it. I tried videotaping it with my phone, but all it catches is the center piece spinning. It doesn't capture the "rain" from it very well.

I took the above picture before the garden on the left was planted. Now the sprinkler sits between both boxes, and showers them gently every morning with the dual timer I have set up. That couldn't have come at a better time! I didn't want to have to rely on Fred to water the grass and my vegetable garden while I was gone because he had so much other stuff on his plate. All I had to do was set the timer for the right and left, and off we went!

Fred did call me and told me he set it up so that the hoses would run at different times because we have low water pressure. Running them at the same time wasn't putting out much water. I'm glad he was paying attention enough to know that. Setting it up was incredibly easy. Following the steps on the dial is pretty much it. The only issue I had was pulling the battery door out the first time. It was a little hard to squeeze, but after the first time, I haven't had any issues. I'll be interested to know how the battery life is after running every morning for 3 weeks!

I'm glad to know that when we go on vacation in August and then to Peru for the mission trip in October, I can set this up, and no one will have to worry about watering for me!

Now, let's talk about the Gilmour website. I don't typically talk about websites when I'm doing a product review, but their site isn't just any site. And no, they didn't ask me to write about this. I'm just so impressed with it, I couldn't NOT write about it.

If you need inspiration, guidance, and education on all things gardening or outdoor at home, their site is where you should start! Yes, they do tell you which of their products to use in different settings around your yard, but they also help you learn about your yard and garden. One of the most helpful tools I think they have there is the lawn size calculator. Not sure how much hose you might need? It will help you figure that all out! I could totally spend days on their site learning and learning. I must warn you, once you get started going through their tips and techniques, you'll have a hard time stopping!

One thing I wanted to learn from their site was about the best uses of the nozzle settings! Check it out:

Garden: a light rain
Clean: for after you're done working to clean up the floor beneath you
Shrub: good for soaking the roots
Jet: will give a strong stream of water to a far spot
Sweep: a light stream that will come out like a fan
Soft Wash: a gentle flow for any plants

Now for the fun part! The giveaway!! I'm giving away a hose and a thumb nozzle! Get ready to go Into the Garden.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Getting Started With Essential Oils

Ok, so I'll admit that I'm a cynic when it comes to a lot of things in life. I have to say, that I was the same when it came to essential a degree. Years ago, when my daughter started having ear infections, her godmother suggested using a cut onion, lay it on her ear, and it was somehow able to draw the infection out. I gave that suggestion a stink eye, and never actually tried it.

Several years ago, when my youngest was having lots of ear infections, someone suggested using tea tree oil in the early states of the ear infection to help get rid of it. I have no idea why, but I tried it, and it seemed to work. It kind of has that Vicks Vaborub scent to it, so I loved it. lol My son on the other hand, not so much. He even comes to me now with the bottle and a Qtip if he starts to think he has an ear infection coming.

Spring forward however many years later, and I just purchased my starter kit of essential oils. Aside from tea tree oil, I'm completely clueless about essential oils. There's so much out there, and their uses it seems are endless. I'm working with Kelley to learn more, but I'm worse than an amateur, so she's got her work cut out for her.

She did give me an idea for oils to use for a sugar scrub for feet. I wanted to have something for this summer. I really like the light scent! It turned out great. I'll probably try various scents as we go through different seasons.

I haven't used a diffuser before, and have only used it once since the unboxing of the oils. I actually liked how it was just a hint of a scent, and it was actually very relaxing to have it on next to me while I was chilling out. I think my only "issue" having the diffuser will be remembering to use it. I mostly only hang out in my bedroom when I'm about ready to sleep.

The biggest reason I wanted to try out essential oils was because, well, two reasons, I wanted to see if I could find a natural way to reduce my stress, and I want to add more natural elements to my life. Honestly, if I could go all natural and organic in my life and family, I'd be a happy camper. It's just making the change that's not easy.

Do you ever think back to Native Americans and the way they used what was growing around them? That's what I keep coming back to. Oils have been used for centuries. How in the world did we get so far away from that? If it worked for them, why wouldn't it work for us?

I've already made an orange-lime sugar scrub with the oils I ordered. I wanted something that was fruity and reminded me of a summer day. Now I'll have to make one for fall once it gets here, and I'm sure I'll have to try them for winter and spring!

I'm looking forward to learning more, and putting to use what I learn about the oils I have. If you have any mixtures you like or recipes, I'd love for you to share them! This wasn't a sponsored post. I bought the starter kit from Kelley! If you're interested in getting started, be sure to find her: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! She's happy to get you started, and is a great support.

What have you used essential oils for before?

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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.