Mel welcomes you to her website devoted to promoting a peaceful, healthy, and grounded life. Please read the "about" section to begin which includes her background and credentials. Blog categories are available to search for your favorite subjects. Disclosure: This website does contain affiliate links.
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Just last week, we had friends visit us from Jacksonville. They stayed for 7 days. During these 7 days, we packed in as much adventure as we could with one day dedicated to riding 4-wheelers on Eklutna Lake. This lake is a seven-mile-long lake with trails built beside it which are perfect for ATVs, while other nearby trails are specifically designed for bicycles. Bicycle trails would have been our path to the end if it weren’t for our neighbors. Our amazing neighbors let us use their “toys” since we don’t personally own any ATVs or even a trailer to haul them. Thus, as always, they are some of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet (if you are lucky enough to meet them). They let us use their well-maintained 4-wheelers for a faster, less challenging path. I know everyone appreciated it and felt like superheroes.
While on the drive, we saw beautiful flowers, amazing creeks under bridges, and a perfect mirror image of the mountain on the lake because of the calm day. I would recommend taking this trip with 1) water, 2) food for a picnic, 3) sunblock, 4) bear spray, and 5) mosquito repellent. You could also kayak on the lake but since the lake supplies Anchorage with drinking water, there are no motorboats allowed.
Here are some images for you to enjoy! I hope to add another blog soon with our other adventures.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures and consider making this a wonderful day trip. You could hike it, bike it, ATV it, or even kayak it! Whatever you desire…
The longest day of the year was last week. There was even a festival called the Downtown Summer Solstice Festival in downtown Anchorage to celebrate the event, even though every day after June 21 was a little shorter than the day before. Since one of our friends also had a birthday, we had a birthday event too. Saturday was full of activities on one of the most beautiful days of the year.
During the day, my family walked around to see the displays and events, eventually arriving at 49th State Brewing Company to have appetizers and claim a spot on the rooftop (our friends were joining us within the hour for a birthday dinner.) The beer there is okay (I am not that big of a beer drinker but King Street has some really good beer if you are into that sort of thing.) The rooftop and food at 49th State are both great though. In fact, I had the Seafood Artichoke dip and I highly recommend it. The rooftop is a winner when the weather is great because the views are fantastic.
After we left the restaurant, all of us (the three couples) went to Williwaw and a few other places. There are three floors in this cool bar. The bottom floor is a dance floor/concert floor. The middle floor is a lounge. The top floor is a rooftop bar. On the way down, Micah took a picture of the three ladies. (Don’t we look like we are on a Theater set?)
I hope you enjoyed! If you get a chance to participate in Summer Solstice next year, I highly recommend it.
What makes you feel peaceful? Do you enjoy cooking? Do you like fishing? Are you a fan of live music? Based on my mood, I like different things at different times. I think this is how most people function and I’m not the only one. Another thing that I have enjoyed lately is making sure our backyard patio table has a steady supply of fresh wildflowers. When I look outside, I smile because of how lovely it looks. Since we have a rhubarb plant out back, I decided to learn how to harvest it. As a bonus, I used the flowers in my arrangement.
I will share with you a few tips about the rhubarb and the flowers too. First of all, make sure you do not eat the leaves because these are poisonous! I also found out that flowering isn’t desirable and requires more of the plant’s energy so cutting this back is smart. Since I didn’t know this before today, I decided to make the most of the already existing flowers and use on the patio. I didn’t really like the lack of color though which led McKinley (my schnauzer child) and I on a journey in search of wildflowers. You know the little things in life can be so much fun.
Lastly, since the sun goes down around 11:30 p.m. and the sun rises around 4:30 a.m., we have many light hours each day to go exploring. We luckily found some cute purple ones! While on the road, I thought about how the process of looking for these flowers reminded me of the times when my dad, mom, sister, and I would go riding around in the country looking for wild plums to pick. This was such a fun activity forever etched in my memories.
I will leave you with a poem I thought of while out today.
IN SEARCH OF WILDFLOWERS
By: Mel on 6/17/2018
Fresh air and colors,
Raging waters and wind,
Somewhere out there is a girl on the move, based on a whim.
Last Thursday, we decided to camp in Seward, Alaska. Connor and I went before my daughter and husband to set up camp at Forest Acres Campground and try fishing at high tide. My husband discovered from a coworker that the salmon were moving in Seward. When the salmon are moving, this means they are moving from the ocean to the river. When you stand at the mouth of the river, fish, and they’re moving (a.k.a. “running”), you are one lucky fisherman or fisherwoman!
When Connor and I fished on the first day, it took us 4 hours to snag 4 fish. Micah purchased snag hooks at Bass Pro Shops earlier in the week and when the fish are moving, you simply have to throw your snag hook rig, pull steadily to one side, reel the slack, and repeat. You do this over and over again if you are unlucky. (Stay with me…) On the second day, we all went fishing early and didn’t have any luck. In fact, I thought my technique was broken, flawed, well, you get the picture. None of us caught anything that morning but we weren’t finished with Seward yet.
Connor left to go to work and the rest of us went to eat lunch. After lunch, we checked out the harbor and then went to hike Exit Glacier at the Kenai Fjords National Park. The hike didn’t take but about 30 minutes because we went on the shorter “Edge of the Glacier Trail.” It wasn’t a tough hike but before we reached the top, there were some places that most certainly engaged our leg muscles.
After the hike, we also visited the Exit Glacier Nature Center. I took some neat photos of the diminishing glacier to share in my environmental sociology lecture in the future. (I may share on the blog soon as well.)
Before we went home, Micah and I decided to try fishing again. I am so glad we did! We caught 8 fish in only 28 minutes. We already had 4 in the truck and since Connor left already, we decided to count those as ours to meet the total limit of 12 in possession. The day was absolutely amazing and thus it was the lucky time of the day because the fish were most certainly everywhere. All of us felt like we went on a vacation even though this was only a one day mini-getaway. I love trips like that.
I love the Christmas holiday season. It is one of my favorite times of the year. Recently, my parents came to visit us from Georgia and although it was only April, it felt like Christmas-time. During the holidays, my family laughs a little, eats a lot, and plays tons of games. This is the same thing we did, and more, while they visited.
I can’t wait to share the amazing sights from our journey with you. Just as the gift of giving at Christmas is so satisfying, the gift of showing them the amazing scenery in Alaska was also satisfying. I hope you enjoy the highlights of their two-week vacation with us. We didn’t let the rainier than usual weather cause complications in our plans. In fact, nothing could dampen our spirits during this joyful occasion.
One of our first visits was to Talkeetna, Alaska. This town has charm. In fact, the Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce have a great website where you can download a visitor’s guide, if interested. While we were there, it snowed quite a lot. Although, the snow didn’t stay around long due to the temperatures being warmer than freezing, it was still a lovely sight. If you visit this town, I highly recommend a stop at Twister Creek restaurant. I always enjoy it.
During the week, we made mini trips near by. We drove to the top of the mountain in Eagle River where a breathtaking view is easier to reach. If the sky is clear, you can see Denali. Unfortunately, with all the rain, we didn’t have a great view of the mountain range, but the view was still pretty.
We decided to plan a cruise on the 26 Glaciers Cruise where we saw sea otters, eagles, mountain goats, a humpback whale, dolphins, and beautiful birds. It departed from Whittier, Alaska. Mom and dad enjoyed the visit immensely. We even made a few stops for pictures on the way there too.
Enjoy the video below from the end of the cruise.
Next, we decided to take an early morning hike at the Eagle River Nature Center. It was great! We were avoiding bears by making a lot of noise on this walk. The bears are waking up and are likely to be looking around for food. We didn’t want to tempt them.
We decided to take in a few indoor scenes too. Thus, we visited the First Friday at the Anchorage Museum. There were lots to see and even a Cinco de Mayo event going on. Mom and I couldn’t wait to check it out.
We were sad to see my parents leave, but knew they had to go. We can’t wait to see you two again soon.
Visiting the State of Hawaii has always been on my bucket list. I’ve been to many beautiful beaches, like St. Martin, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and many places in Florida. Although, Hawaii was always on my mind but out of reach for various reasons. Recently, Micah and I were able to visit Kauai. Before going, I learned Kauai was one of many islands in the Hawaiian Archipelago. In fact, Sprout & Sprout (2010) mention in the center of the Pacific Ocean, “is the Hawaiian Archipelago, some 132 islands strung in line for about 1,600 miles, all part of the State of Hawaii” p. 8. As far as populated places, Kauai is the northernmost of all those.
I would love to share with you some of our wonderful visits on this lovely island, which is why I took a lot of pictures. From the moment we flew into Lihue Airport, the air was fresh and temperature mild, which was perfect after leaving 0 to 10 degree temperatures in Alaska. I bet the beauty of the island erased at least one wrinkle formed from years of contemplation and hard work.
For starters, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Wailua Bay (on the eastern side of the island.) It was a pretty place with an open-air lobby and restaurant. I really liked it! We never did swim at the hotel because it rained for several days. However, they apparently had two pools and a hot tub. When the rain cleared, we figured it a better use of time to go snorkeling. Micah and went snorkeling on a Poipu Beach beside a restaurant where we had a light lunch and a fancy cocktail. It was a lovely day and we did see some colorful, unique fish.
Furthermore, there were many beautiful scenes and pull off areas. Unfortunately, I don’t know the names of all these places but all of these are easily accessible from the main road. The main roadway where the tourists travel have many areas to stop, get out, and enjoy the scenery. Although, one of my favorite places on the island was the beautiful, breath-taking Waimea Canyon Lookout.
All-in-all, this was a great visit, regardless of work (Micah and I had to work some) and the rain. Micah worked (at a conference) at the Grand Hyatt Poipu, which was a resort quality hotel. It was absolutely fantastic too even though I didn’t spend much time there.
I feel so lucky to have been able to go on the trip and see a place that has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I hope you enjoyed the images of this beautiful place.
Hugs and Happiness,
Sprout, J. & Sprout, J. (2010). Kauai trailblazer. Kilauea, HI: Diamond Valley Company Publishers.
As you know from reading my blog, my daughter has an ASD, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Originally, her diagnosis was Asperger’s Disorder but back in 2013 this diagnosis *poof* disappeared from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which is THE BOOK of disorder identification (Sole-Smith, 2014). This manual had many changes listed in that newest edition (Sole-Smith, 2014). Either way, she still displays difficulties in understanding how to respond in some social interactions and has sensory issues, regardless of what you call it.
Recently, we went on a trip home to visit family. I was very hesitant because of my last flying experience with her. In 2016, we flew from Georgia to Anchorage. This travel day ended up being about 14 hours. As you can imagine, this is a tough travel day for anyone. However, with my daughter’s sensory issues, it was horrendous. She wiggled, squirmed, made howling noises, and was pulling my arms in agony. I think I ended up with a few scratches and small bruises at the end of it all. (She wasn’t intentionally trying to do this, but flying is hard for her.) The reason for her agony was the pressure in her ears and the confinement to our seats for such a long period. I know what you may be thinking. She was a young teenager! How can this be? Children with an ASD can sometimes act younger than their actual chronological age. This causes problems with the general population because a younger child acting like this doesn’t get near the nasty stares and comments as a child who appears much older. It is simply a much harsher world, most of the time, when an older person has a non-visible disability. People do not understand .
Fast forward to our recent flying experience… I must admit that I was a little nervous. However, our miniature schnauzer, McKinley, flew with us as an Emotional Support Dog. (We bought her after our last flying encounter.) There has been so much controversy about this lately that I felt I must talk about this on a personal level instead of simply offering profuse apologies. I think a better angle is to offer our story. I know some of the controversy exists about animals being on planes for people without disabilities AND the potential of these animals causing allergic reactions to other passengers. However, the scrutiny seems to be growing against anyone associated with an animal while traveling.
We were met with angry glances, rude comments, and whispers. In fact, this very rude gentleman man in first class said something after my daughter and I walked on the plane early. (This is another way Alaska Airlines helped calm her fears, by letting her board early.) This man was already boarded when we walked to the back of the plane in coach. My son overheard him saying, “I can’t believe they were able to board early. This emotional support animal stuff is bull—-.” His comment was out of line. My initial thoughts were to find this man and tell him the difference it has made for my daughter. However, my son said, “mom, it isn’t worth it.”
Therefore, let me share with you how big a difference this little, sweet animal (who is also hypoallergenic naturally) has been for my daughter. My daughter loves her emotional support/service animal. McKinley’s presence is very calming. My daughter is so concerned for McKinley’s well-being, that she doesn’t act inappropriately on the plane, even though she is stressed. McKinley literally sat in my lap (with my daughter petting her) or she sat on her lap. For our trip, all of McKinley’s needs were in order: shot records, rabies shots, a doctor’s short letter on prescription pad specifying her emotional support, and carrier with food, toys, snacks, etc. We didn’t go unprepared.
My plea for airlines is to realize how much emotional support animals can help people. Please do not stop allowing this because of a few disgruntled people. There are several dogs that are hypoallergenic, like our little one. These animals do not cause allergy issues for others on board. In fact, Dyck (2013) has a list of hypoallergenic dogs which includes: The Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, some of the Terriers, the Irish Water Spaniel, to name a few. Also, my gratitude to Alaska Airlines is endless. Not only did we arrive in Georgia without incident (by my daughter or by her service animal), but our trip in Georgia with McKinley, was pleasant too.
Lastly, if you are unaware of how someone is impacted by an ASD, please feel free to check out my references section for more information. Also, if you are in opposition to have animals on board to help people like my daughter, and you have no condition like hers that plagues you every day, shame on you. For someone in that last category, if you don’t think you know much about prejudice and discrimination, you know much more than you can imagine with that attitude. (Please check out a random Introduction to Sociology course from the library and read it.)
We recently left Alaska to visit our family in Georgia. Fortunately, the flight was pleasant with no hiccups, which was a possibility because of my travel companions. Our miniature schnauzer and daughter can sometimes exude bursts of energy so I wasn’t sure if our flight would be uneventful. I am happy to report both of these companions were awesome in flight.
Furthermore, I must brag about how awesome my family was during this first holiday apart. They delayed their Christmas plans until we arrived. They didn’t eat the traditional meal or exchange presents until we arrived. I know that must have been difficult but it meant a lot to all of us! We loved all of our gifts, especially the gift of family. Even though I still have more family to visit, it has already been a great trip so far.
The next holiday was New Year’s Eve (NYE). NYE was spent in Florida with my sister and her boyfriend. We had a great dinner (no reservation required) and had a low-key night out. However, I must mention one really neat thing we noticed while at the restaurant/bar was a young woman probably around 22 who had a perfect 1980s hair-style. It was quite shocking to see! After all, I haven’t seen hair like that since I styled my own that big during the late 80s. Is that fad coming back? I have no idea, but if so, there will be many ladies already experienced at teasing, spraying, and styling really big. (Smile.)
On a final note, 2018 is going to be the year of wellness surprises. The reason I know this is because I surprisingly brought the snow to south Georgia. (Joking… Seriously, it snowed just as hard for a while in Georgia as it did in Alaska. So much for warm weather…) For the new year, I plan on writing some of the same content you are already used to, but will also add new topics such as articles about essential oils. Not only will I discuss how essential oils can help you, but I will actually create wellness products too. The essential oil certification I earned last year will get plenty of use in 2018!
Please check in regularly. I also welcome you to leave comments or messages. I hope your new year is a wonderful one!
Time is such a valuable commodity. We don’t know how much of it we have left and yet, many times, we don’t stop to appreciate and process this very important fact. The holidays are especially a time when we don’t truly think about the concept of time. You probably know why, but let me explain. Christmas is tough for some people because of worries about getting the perfect gift. However, this should not be positioned as the most important activity. The most important thing you can do is cherish your family and make memories that will live long after the toys have broken or grown old. After all, we never know what tomorrow will bring. In fact, I truly wish some of my loved ones who have already left this earth could be here for me to share a conversation and squeeze in an endearing hug. Without a doubt, I decided long ago that every moment of this holiday would be spent enjoying people and promoting the reason for the season.
In fact, Christmas Eve kicked off with a Candlelight Service at a local church. Then, when Connor got home, we played games and snacked. Afterwards, we watched a Christmas movie and crashed because we know Christmas Day is always packed with activity after activity.
As usual, Christmas Day started with our annual breakfast of pigs-in-a-blanket and a tall mug of freshly made coffee. We then opened presents and made calls and texts to family and friends. The evening closed down playing games and watching a family movie with some of our friends. Overall, it was such a wonderful day. I will end the day with this. I hope your day was wonderful and that you cherished those people in your life on this joyous day that only comes once a year.
Christmas is the time for giving, sharing, and caring. I decided the best way to share some cheer was to host a cooking baking festivity at my house. I invited my immediate next-door neighbor, two neighbors from down the street (I met these two at my first neighbor’s home), and another neighborhood resident I met while walking McKinley the other day. Most of us frequently joke that we never make friends with anyone outside the neighborhood. This seems to be true, but we are open to making friends with anyone.
To kick off this event, I found some shiny invitations, filled these out, and dropped off to everyone like the neighborhood Christmas Elf. This was a full 5 days before the event because I made sure to text almost everyone about it as a “Save the Date” heads-up two weeks beforehand. However, call me old-fashioned, but I fully believe a hand-written note/invitation is still warranted and shows the person you think they are worth the time and effort. I sent out 6 invitations and only 4 ladies attended. (Invitation insert wording is listed near the end of this post, if interested in using.) Also, if you decide to host one of these yourself, you’ll definitely want to consider the fact that not everyone you invite will want to attend (or may already be busy.) Regardless of whether you require an RSVP, inevitably, people still won’t let you know whether they can attend. It happens.
Furthermore, I wanted everyone to enjoy some snacks and beverages while baking. I prepared snacks and a wine spritzer, but had plenty of non-alcoholic options too. My wine spritzer had white wine, pineapple-orange juice, diet sprite, and pure cranberry juice in it. I poured this in my punch dispenser until it tasted acceptable. (You can also add some club soda if you want.) Snacks to fuel all the cooking included: little smokies (which are mini sausages in a low sugar barbecue sauce), chips and salsa, mini French bread baguettes, AND a cheese, cracker, and fruit plate.
Everything turned out great! We had a wonderful time. Although, I believe it would have been helpful to share plans to avoid duplicating recipes. We were lucky. Even though there were two peanut butter items, there were no two identical cookies. We ended up making date balls, peanut butter fudge, peanut butter cookies, thumbprint cookies, ginger cookies with lemon icing, and snowball cookies. Also, I made fruitcake cookies the night before the party to free my oven for others’ items. In the end, I hope this post helps you plan your next ladies event! This would be a great party before Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or even before Thanksgiving.
Items to Purchase before the Party
Pretty invitations (1 month ahead)
Holiday themed tablecloth (2 weeks before)
Holiday themed plates and cups (2 weeks before)
Snacks of your choice (one savory, one sweet, and other snacks planned 3 weeks ahead)
Decorations (if you haven’t decorated already)
Gift bags and tissue paper (for everyone to take cookies home in)
Wording for My Invitation Insert If you are able to make it on __________, please bring your favorite cookie or candy recipe and the ingredients. (I will have plenty of eggs and milk.) I have a few pans we can use but if you happen to have a baking sheet, bring it as well. We will keep the oven busy! This festivity should be a fun one — no stress! We will learn from one another, share cookies, and socialize! I have already purchased bags and tissue paper for us to use to take home a variety of cookies for our family and friends. Also, I plan on having a yummy beverage for us all (with and without spirits) and a few snacks too. While not required, feel free to bring anything snack-wise or beverage(s) to share. Thanks, _____________.
Lastly, do not forget after the party is over, you can enjoy the cookies for up to 2 weeks during the holiday season. This is a win-win festivity.