Adventure Everywhere

Adventure Everywhere

“We live in the middle of nowhere – there is nothing to do!” If you’ve ever uttered those words, then this post is for you.  When I was younger, that was my attitude.  However, after living in a few different states, traveling to places all over the world and then coming right back to Indiana, I no longer feel that way.  In fact, I truly believe that if you look hard enough, you will find something to do or something interesting to check out (within driving distance), no matter where you are.  Doing new things and exploring can add a lot of happiness and enjoyment to your life. I’ve made it my mission, wherever I am, to find those places.  Now I want to share them with you. Several times a month, I’ll be sharing my finds within a short drive of where I live or where I’m traveling.  I suspect some will be quirky, some might be delicious, and some might not be your cup of tea.  However, hopefully these posts will inspire you to do something new or find something fun where you live.  I’d love to hear about your adventures too.  Please share your finds and experiences in the comments or on my Facebook page. Ready to begin?  Me too! We are entering the dreaded (and well-loved) soccer and swim seasons.  My kids both participate in sports year-round, but Spring and Fall are still definitely busier.  Great for them, exciting sometimes for us, but also time-consuming.  As in, I can’t even find a night in the next month to use a FREE hotel room!  How sad...
Up for a FREE meal?

Up for a FREE meal?

Who doesn’t love getting something for free?  Especially a meal at a nice restaurant, a hotel room or an afternoon of bowling.  Thanks to the years I’ve been mystery shopping, those are a regular part of our lives. In just the last month, I’ve had a breakfast date with my hubby ($42), went bowling and played laser tag with the kids ($115), had pizza and beer for lunch over Spring Break ($50) and got a carry-out lunch at a national chain restaurant ($35).  This is just me doing a shop or two here and there.  If I had the time I could do so much more.  I started mystery shopping almost twenty-five years ago when the company I was working for closed it’s doors and I was out of a job.  I started doing a few dinner shops a month so we could still enjoy a nice meal out without spending money we didn’t have!  Now I just do it for fun, to stretch our entertainment dollars and to force myself out of my routine and try new things. It would be challenging to make a full-time living mystery shopping; most shops don’t pay much outside of reimbursement, but for cutting costs or adding extras to your life, it’s a great part-time gig.  It is important to undersand that once you conduct the shop, you will have to come home and fill out an online form (sometimes within 12-hours of doing the shop), upload some pictures and be available for the next few days for questions.  At first, it would take me an hour or so to fill out...
Rails to Trails = Happiness

Rails to Trails = Happiness

We just came back from a wonderful ski trip to Boyne Mountain, Michigan.  The weather could not have been more perfect!  Several days of skiing in the sunshine, tasty tacos and cold drinks sitting at picnic tables at the base of the mountain, live music in dark pubs at night.  Perfection! Now that we are home, I’m anxiously waiting for the weather to break (lots of cold and rain right now) so that I can begin enjoying one of my favorite healthy passions – walking trails with my pup. Many areas (not just ours) have started to convert old railway trails to walking paths.  I LOVE this trend.  We have several in our neck of the woods, the most notable being the Monon Trail.  They are typically nicely paved so perfect for walking or biking, often have houses and restaurants along the way, and are a great way to get your exercise in a lovely setting. When we travel, I’ll often search out these types of walking trails as they are usually well maintained and safe.  Perfect for getting out and experiencing an unfamiliar area.  If you would enjoy the same, here are a few places to look: Rails to Trails – great resource to find trails in your area or wherever you want to travel Do a Google search using the terms “rails to trails” and your city If you are in the Indianapolis area, here are a few of my favorites: Indiana Trails Monon Trail Although I do love hiking (more on that in a future post), when I want a more social experience, a rail to...

How to find the BEST local restaurants

It’s a beautiful, sunny day in Florida.  The marina is hopping and you’re sitting outside, right next to boats coming in and out, fishermen selling fresh seafood right off the dock, tourists and locals strolling along the pier.  The margarita in your hand is made with fresh ingredients, icy cold and salted – and since it’s Happy Hour they are 2 for $8!  Just then the server brings you a plate of fresh oysters, fish dip made with freshly caught local fish and fish tacos overloaded with toppings.  Sounds wonderful, right?  Way better than greasy, unhealthy fast food.  That was one of our recent meals in Clearwater, FL. One of the things I love, both when traveling and when at home, is to try out new local restaurants.  I am very lucky to live in an area that has many stellar local places.  But even when traveling, I take the time to do a little research to find the best places to eat the area has to offer. Here are my steps t0 finding a great local restaurant:  First if it’s an area new to me, I check out Yelp.  Even when we are driving on a road trip, once the stomachs start rumbling, the phone comes out and the search for a place to eat begins (tip: use the map features to see what’s along your route).  I’ve even trained my kids to do this, so we’ll all start yelling out names of places as we find them.  Unless there aren’t any available options, pick someplace with at least a 4 star rating.  Check out the reviews, take...
How do YOU Want to Learn?

How do YOU Want to Learn?

Hopefully I’ve convinced you to learn something new this Fall – that it can be fun and improve your life.  What’s great about our lifestyles today is that we don’t neccesarily have to go to a physical building to learn something new.  For people who weren’t fans of traditional schools this can be a lifesaver. There are so many different ways we can learn – truly something for everyone. It can also be really fun to learn with others.  Got some girlfriends who are up for fun?  Why don’t you get together and take a cooking or painting class?  Or create a book club or wine tasting club?  There are dozens of fun ideas for learning with friends. Maybe you feel the need to spend more quality times with your kids (hello working mom guilt!!!).  Find out what they are interested in and research that topic – check out books from the library or attend an event or museum together to learn more. Date night fallen by the wayside?  Learning something new as a couple would be a fantastic way to spend quality time together, have something fun to talk about and plan, and it would ensure you get out regularly. Might be that travel and learning combined would get you excited.  All you need to do is type in your topic and the world travel or tourism and see what you find.  I’ve seen trips for cooking, history and even some our local zoo offers around animal or ecotourism education.  Fun stuff! Of course there is also the good old traditional school.  Most colleges and universities offer adult...
Does Your House Smell?

Does Your House Smell?

I used to have an obsession with the chemcial laden plug ins that promised a lovely scent in your house.  I’m not going to name names, because it doesn’t really matter which brand – they ALL have chemicals in them.  I have to admit since we’ve almost always had pets it was such a relief to walk into a house that smelled like cinammon or something beachy versus wet dog.  So even though I had concerns about what I was putting into the air we breathe, I kept on doing it. Thank goodness I learned about essential oils!  Now I have a way to make my house smell terrific without adding fake ingredients to the air. Although I use my essential oils in many ways, one that I consistently do daily is diffuse oils throughout the house.  There are so many varieties of diffusers out there, but as long as they use water and essential oils only, I haven’t found a huge difference in performance.  Most diffusers will last a few  years if you wipe them out regularly so they are very cost effective.  I love mine so much I travel with at least one when we go on vacation!  Tomorrow I’ll do a Facebook Live video sharing some of my favorite blends as well as how to use the diffusers, but attached below are reviews (and links) to the ones I own and use regularly: This InnoGear is a nice entry level diffuser – it’s reasonably priced (and often on sale), and the quality seems to be decent.  It has a light function too which is kinda fun...

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