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Canadian Rockies Summer Vacation

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Canadian Rockies Summer Vacation

Snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes, glacier-fed waterfalls, pristine rivers, scenic mountain roads with views around every corner, glacier-packed ice fields, an abundance of wildlife, and much more can be found in the Canadian Rockies; the Banff/Jasper area specifically. No filter needed. If anything, pictures do no justice to the natural beauty of the area. For years, a Canadian mountain vacation was at the top of my bucket list. I finally had the opportunity to go: I fell in love. The landscapes are picturesque, the days wonderfully long (5:30am sunrise and 10pm sunset), the weather heavenly, and the people genuinely friendly. As an additional perk, as if it were needed, national parks have free admission for 2017 in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. My only regret is that 6 days was certainly not enough to experience all this wonderful area had to offer. Below are some of my favorite pictures from our time in Canada.

We flew in on a Tuesday and the first day was spent handling travel logistics and getting acquainted with the area. Then the fun started! We spent our first day driving to Glacier National Park – Canada, did some hiking, then headed to Radium Hot Springs. The mountains were beyond beautiful and we saw a mountain goat! I was so excited and loved it so much we didn’t return to the hotel until 1:30 AM! I prefer the more isolated areas versus the more touristy areas so this was right up my alley.

The next day we hung around Banff. We caught a gondola ride up to Sulphur Mountain. The mountain is home to a variety of wildlife and offers great views of Banff.

We then made a trip down to Lake Louise. I will confess that Lake Louise is very beautiful, just as it is appears in photographs, but it is a bit touristy. I preferred Bow Lake. It was another fantastic day and we were able to capture some great family photos with this natural, gorgeous backdrop.

Then the most memorable day arrived! My husband and I did the Mt. Norquay via ferrata Ridgewalker mountain climb. It is definitely one of the best adventures of my life; right up there with scuba diving in Cozumel, snorkeling in West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras and rafting the Royal Gorge in Canon City, Colorado. The views were spectacular and the experience of the climb was exciting. Reaching the top, and then walking the mountain ridge, was beyond words. I highly recommend this experience to all who plan on traveling to the area.

norquay via ferrata

Even the roads up the mountain were beautiful!

We also spent a portion of that day checking out Bow Falls, the Banff Springs hotel and walking around Banff.

Our last day was spent driving the Icefields Parkway to the Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia Icefield. If there is only one thing you can do in the Canadian Rockies, I would suggest this. It is something everyone can do and you will experience all the beauty the Canadian Rockies are known for along the parkway. Besides the beautiful lakes: Bow and Peyto, the glaciers, mountain ranges and waterfalls, expect to see wildlife. We saw two bears (no worries we weren’t that close to the bear as we respect their space)!

icefields parkway bear

And here’s a photo of Calgary (where we stayed):
It went by way too fast, but I was able to capture at least a bit of it in photographs to forever be treasured. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to visit such a beautiful place. God spent a little more time on Canada….and we share a birthday!!! Happy 150th Canada!! Thank you so much for an unbelievable week!


Pacific Coast – Southwestern Road Trip

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Pacific Coast – Southwestern Road Trip

Oh how I love road trips and nature! I was overjoyed when the opportunity arose to take this road trip. I had actually wanted to travel to Oregon and San Francisco for quite a while so when a financial matter arose that required us to fly northwest, I seized the moment and literally we came home from work and told the kids to pack their things because we were vacationing (they just so happened to be on Spring Break)! Because this was so last-minute, we weren’t able to carefully plan our routes and missed some of our original destinations (like Grand Canyon and a day drive through Yosemite) but I had a grand time!

We flew into Medford,Oregon and drove towards the Pacific Coast which we took to San Francisco. Coquille Point in Bandon,Oregon is a beautiful beach. There is a long wooden staircase that takes you down to the beach.

Myrtle Creek Oregon

Myrtle Creek, Oregon

Coquille Point in Bandon, Oregon

Coquille Point in Bandon, Oregon

Staircase at Coquille Point in Bandon, Oregon

Staircase at Coquille Point in Bandon, Oregon

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge from the Bowers observation

Golden Gate Bridge from the Bowers observation

Cable Cars at the Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco

Cable Cars at the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco

It was hard leaving San Francisco.It is such a beautiful city full of charm. When we got back on the road, we drove to San Gregorio Beach. The water is not as pretty as the water you would expect in California, but the rocks were lovely as was the drive to the beach from San Francisco.

San Gregorio Beach

San Gregorio Beach

San Gregorio Beach

San Gregorio Beach

San Gregorio

San Gregorio Beach

From here, we planned on driving through Yosemite park and coming through to Nevada to continue our trip to Vegas. The heavy traffic had us arriving just after dark so we couldn’t experience it’s full beauty. On top of that, the road we were going to use to cut through Nevada was closed.We ended up seeing more of Yosemite and familiarizing ourselves with the park but didn’t end up getting to Vegas until 5:30 am! We did end up getting upgraded to a suite room so that was really nice!

Day 2 Yosemite

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

Day 3 Vegas 3

Day 3 Vegas 4

From here we were going to head to the Grand Canyon, but again because of delays we missed it. This ended up being a blessing in disguise. I will have other opportunities to see the Canyon but because of our detour, we stumbled across the gem Salt River Canyon.This is a stunning drive from Phoenix eastbound towards Pine Top. It was night time so I couldn’t capture it’s beauty in a photograph. The only thing I could get photographed was the sign at one of the lookouts.

Day 4 PineTop Arizona Must

A view of the Pine Top area as we were leaving (the drive south of Pine  Top is more scenic)

Day 4 Pine Top AZ

Our last stop was in White Sands, New Mexico.This is such a different experience! The sand is so soft and the landscape beautiful. We did some sledding as well.

White Sands, New Mexico

White Sands, New Mexico

White Sands, New Mexico

White Sands,New Mexico

White Sands nm8

White Sands, New Mexico

White Sands, New Mexico

We’ve been back home for a couple of weeks and I’m already planning our next getaway! Some of our other travel experiences can be seen here


Christmas Cheer!

Christmas Cheer!

Christmas is almost here and the home decor has started going up! How great it is to see everyone celebrate Jesus’ birth!

For the mantel, I took an old wreath and removed all the red trimmings to give it a more updated “all green” look. The only new purchase I made was the “Noel” accent. I love The First Noel Christmas song and wanted to incorporate it somewhere. The chocolate cone trees were purchased at last year’s Christmas clearance sale and I just love the color!

Warm Inviting Christmas Mantel

Warm Inviting Christmas FireplaceI had been searching for a sleigh for several months but, being a frugal person, couldn’t see myself spending $90+ for a sleigh. One day I found this cute sleigh at HomeGoods for less than half the price! I liked that it was in a neutral color (with no reds) and the size was not too big. I decorated it with garland and topped with gift boxes. I then found the cute little deer at Marshalls.

Southern Christmas Sleigh DecorTwine Christmas Reindeer

My buffet was decorated in neutrals:

Christmas Buffet Decor

We haven’t put up a Christmas tree in my home in the past 10 years but this year we did a “Jesse Tree”, a tree that tells the story of God’s salvation through the coming of the Messiah.
1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD–
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
Isaiah 11:1-4

Jesse Tree

Jesse Tree About

Merry Christmas!!

DIY Scarecrow Costume

Need an easy, modest costume idea? For a total price of $3.56 I made this cute scarecrow costume. I had the flannel shirt, boots and floppy hat so just purchased a roll of raffia ribbon at Michaels with their 40% off coupon.  I used the ribbon to make the wristbands, hair pieces and as stuffing. I chose a ripped pair of jeans so I could have some of the stuffing come out of the holes. The makeup was easy and a simple online search pulled up lots of cute ideas.

Scarecrow Makeup

DIY Scarecrow Costume

Homemade Scarecrow Costume

Scarecrow Wristband

To make the wristbands, I used a hair tie and cut twelve 18″ pieces of raffia. I folded each piece in half and used the slip-knot tie method shown below:

Scarecrow Wristband Tutorial

For the hair pieces, I used the same method but attached to bobby pins. And there you have it, an easy last-minute costume that will get you lots of compliments 🙂

Bayou Wildlife Zoo in Alvin, Texas

Bayou Wildlife Zoo in Alvin, Texas

Genesis 1:25 “God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

I will be blogging more about fun, interesting things to do in Texas. I am a huge animal lover and luckily for me, my family is too! I wanted to take my kids out to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch near San Antonio, Texas but being that we live in the Houston area we decided to try out the Bayou Wildlife Zoo in Alvin. This is not only for little kids. My “kids” are 11 and 14 and they enjoyed it just as much as us adults. I have not been to Natural Bridge, so cannot compare this ranch to that, but I will say it is very enjoyable and an alternative for those who live in, or are visiting, the Houston area.

As you drive into the park you have the option to purchase a bucket of food for $2.50. The animals will approach your vehicle as you make your way to the parking lot. You can feed them from your vehicle or wait until you board the tram that will take you on a tour of the ranch.

Here are some antelopes that approached us as we were leaving the park:

03IMG_5023The ostriches were the most eager to be fed:

0IMG_4772bMale Ostrich02IMG_5028The camel was so friendly! I am not sure if we had the best seats on the tram (at the very front) or if animals sense fear or simply know which people love animals, because all the animals approached us. The camel was on the complete opposite side and walked all the way around the tram and up to us 🙂

04IMG_4920b05IMG_4910Watusi Cattle:

09IMG_4878The Zebra was not hungry but still came up to us:

10IMG_4953How cute is that face:

07IMG_4802There are giraffes, water buffalo, rhinos, llamas, wildebeest, deer and crocodiles too! This is a definite must-see attraction if you love animals and want a more up-close experience than what you get in a typical zoo setting.

Luke 12:6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” [God values all life]

Royal Caribbean Cruise – Navigator of the Seas Ship

Royal Caribbean Cruise – Navigator of the Seas Ship

I’ve written about the ports of call I visited last month (found here) and now I’m going to share my experience on the Navigator of the Seas ship. This was my first cruise so I have no other experience or cruise line to compare it to but I will say that when I booked the cruise, I was looking forward to the ports and dressing up for dinner but I had just as much fun on the ship’s sea days as I did at the various excursions!

A photo on the ship during one of the formal nights is below. On the 7 night cruises there are two formal nights which are on sea days (Monday and Friday). The hair salon books quickly on formal nights. I read about this so the first thing I did when I got on the ship, after I dropped off my carry-on, was head up to the salon and book my appointments.

_MG_0875We are budget vacationers and knew we wanted to put our money towards the excursions and would be busy with the ship activities anyway so opted for a room without a balcony. We had an interior cabin and I felt the space was not too small. There was plenty of storage (drawers and cabinets). We had 2 suitcases, 2 backpacks and a garment bag which we were able to comfortably fit. Of all the people I have spoken to who have had balcony rooms in the past, they never regretted paying more for it so booking one on our next cruise is a possibility. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything by not having one but it could be one of those cases of “ignorance is bliss”. There are many public places on the ship where you can lounge and also more quieter places on the sides of the ship:

IMG_4631Some of the activities we really enjoyed were the rock climbing and Flowriding:

_MG_0804 IMG_0323BWe had dinner one night at Izumi and our waiter informed us of a sushi-making class that we were able to join. This was so much fun and not advertised but still fills up quickly, so if you have the chance to dine here ask about any classes:

20150821_104205 20150821_112704Of course there are many opportunities to enjoy beautiful sunsets:

20150818_194009My only “unhealthy” but oh-so-yummy meal was at Johnny Rockets. I even had my first and only coke:

IMG_0377Every day you get a “Cruise Compass” which shows the daily activities on-board, information about the ports, weather updates and other helpful information. The little towel origami and a bottle of sparkling wine as an anniversary gift:

IMG_0389I went into this cruise with realistic expectations (the weather may be bad, there may be port-cancellations, etc) and I ended up having the time of my life. This cruise experience exceeded my expectations and I will definitely cruise with Royal Caribbean again!

Royal Caribbean Cruise – Honduras

Royal Caribbean Cruise – Honduras

Where do I began? I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Roatan, Honduras. This was my favorite port of call. Our excursion was at Tabyana Beach which is located on West Bay Beach on the island of Roatan, Honduras. Several of the pictures and videos I saw of the beach looked like it was always overcast. Imagine my delight when I arrived to this:

Tabyana West Bay Beach Roatan HondurasIMG_0174 IMG_0178I figured with 3 ports of call, I’m bound to have at least 1 port of call with nice weather, well the weather was beautiful for all three! This beach had beautiful clear water, and pretty white sand. I loved the surrounding “jungle” landscape. There is a reef right off the beach! You don’t have to go far for snorkeling. We did an early morning snorkel and were lucky that our group got to see and pet a sea turtle! Unfortunately I didn’t have the camera at that time.

IMG_0199 IMG_0206 IMG_0233 IMG_0236There is no better beach experience for introverts (in my opinion) than going below the water with just your loved one or a few close friends and seeing so many beautiful things in such a quiet, atmosphere. I am sad it’s taken me so long to discover the beauty of this but fortunate that I had the opportunity to experience and discover this new hobby for the first time with my husband. After diving in Cozumel and snorkeling in Honduras, we are officially hooked and can’t wait to bring our kids along for our future underwater adventures. I have also got my best friend on board so I see PADI certifications and a lot of water activities in our future.

IMG_0271 IMG_0273IMG_0254 IMG_0261 IMG_0264 IMG_0304We had a little fish pedicure (just for kicks) lol:

IMG_3704The beach was stunning, the water calm, there was security all over the beach, everything was clean, the people were friendly and the port shopping was the best. And what made me book this itinerary over Jamaica/Grand Cayman? I wanted to do something not everyone else was doing. I am so glad I did! I fell in love with this place and God-willing intend to go back!

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