Lake Winnebago (Winnebago County)

For the past decade I have had the pleasure of living near Lake Winnebago. This lake is 131,939 acres with a maximum depth of 21 feet. Having grown up near water my entire life, this lake has been great for me and my family. In the summer there are various sailing regatta’s, fishing tournaments, white pelicans by the hundreds and para sailers. In the fall there’s duck hunting and the cool mornings where you can get up early and catch the fog on the lake. In the winter there is sturgeon spearing and breath taking moments. Regardless of the time of year I have fallen in love with the lake.

Here are some of the shots I have taken. I will post more at a later point. I recently got a new computer which doesn’t have a cd drive and a majority of my photo archives are on cd’s, guess this wasn’t one of my better executed plans huh?

I believe most of these initial photos were taken in Menominee Park in Oshkosh, WI. This park is 109 acres complete with a small zoo. In the summer it is enjoyable to take the children to the FREE zoo and check out the animals. In the park, but separate from the zoo there are a few small rides, paddle boats and a small children’s train that goes around a small body of water.

Lake Wazee (Jackson County)

A couple weeks back my family and I sought out a new hiking area. We ended up picking out Lake Wazee in Jackson County and we were not disappointed. We pretty much had the park to ourselves as it was a “nice” spring day, but not ideal for most hikers.

It was over cast and cloudy, but it was just nice to get outside after the long wither. It would appear that the water is a beautiful aqua blue and we will be returning on a sunny day to further explore.

On this particular trip we found a porcupine, several turkey vultures, a woodchuck, a rafter of turkeys and clear indication of a large population of beavers in the area. It has been awhile since I have been on a hike and witnessed this much wildlife, it was truly a memorable hike.

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We stared out on the William’s Ridge loop and took the Taconite Loop at some point, only because we didn’t personally find the blacktop surface of the William’s Ridge loop particularly ideal for hiking. When we go out, we prefer to fully experience the wild and allow our girls to explore.

On the southwestern side of the Taconite trail you walk along a lower ridge line. It is here where you can witness first hand the large beaver population that must inhabit the area as there are a lot of chewed down trees.

There were several signs telling about the area off the Fox Point Overlook. Please read them as they are informative.

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The following pictures are from our day out:

We have since returned to the park from our initial visit and tried out another hiking trail “Bobcat Loop.” This time it was a beautiful sixty degree spring day. While we did not witness the abundance of wildlife as we did on our first trip, we still were not disappointed. This lake has quickly become a family favorite. I would recommend checking it out, you will not be sorry.

Motivation to Write….

I started off this blog so stellar, but seemed to have lost my momentum. I haven’t told you very much about myself, so this might help you understand….

As I’ve stated we are in the process of relocating across the state. We need to sell our home before purchasing another and therefore are renting in the interim. Don’t get me wrong I am very thankful my husband and I both have jobs and we have a place to live, but this hasn’t been the easiest to say the least. I feel so disorganized and lost. We have our personal effects at our old home, in a storage unit and here at our rental. Seeing we are in Wisconsin and spring has finally arrived I need to transition to a warm weather wardrobe. However, our oldest daughter hit a growth spurt a couple of weeks ago and with having an infant last summer I did not have the time I would have liked to garage sale for this summer’s items.

We must have rented the most awkward apartment ever as there is not a single closet in this place. Who builds any sort of home without a closet! This one single item was something I thought we could do without as we thought our time here would be very limited and we would have no problem selling our home. We’ve been here going on five months, with our home not the market six months. I’m getting discouraged, frustrated and quite frankly depressed.

We don’t have a yard to maintain this summer and therefore no garden. There isn’t room here for my craft items and sewing machine so I’m a little lost. It’s as though I’ve lost my identity in this move. I had to close my eBay store because again we didn’t have the room for me to bring my inventory. I thought this would be okay, but seeing you don’t know me you wouldn’t know that the busier I am the happier I am.

I am a wife, mother of two, full-time employee, blogger, entrepreneur and a part-time graduate student. I find that I am never really satisfied and always on the lookout for the next best thing. I have already gone further than I had dreamed academically…..I am six credits from my graduate degree and have been thinking about continuing my education and pursuing a law degree or a pHd. The problem is…..I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. (haha!) My education was made possible by joining the United States Army Reserves in the last semester of high school. I’m a first generation undergraduate and had never thought about a master’s degree until I attended my undergraduate graduation. I had the pleasure of sitting behind the master’s graduates and got to witness them being hooded. I decided right then and there that I too would earn a hood. Two weeks later I was enrolled in a program.

I’m both resentful and thankful for this interim period. I’m thankful as we have had a lot more time on the weekends to explore the new area and be together as a family. However, I’m resentful that my life has changed so drastically and I had not prepared myself better. I’ve never moved since having children and did not realized how involved this move would be. I am currently commuting 2 hours daily to work, and as I stated earlier I’ve lost my identity.

I literally go to and from work, to make dinner, do baths, and homework before collapsing into bed dog tired. There are is no time for crafts, eBay, blogging, photography…..the things that give me pleasure. There is no alone time to sit and reflect on my day. There is no time to sit and relax. I miss the feeling of “home,” cooking as a family, working in my flower beds, working out, doing laundry in my spare time and sitting out the patio at the end of it all and enjoying an adult beverage. I know  we’ll be there again so and this is only a small amount of time, but it seems to be dragging on much longer than anticipated.

I’ve never really been a patient person, so maybe this is all happening for a reason? I know I need to relax and just take things day by day. I was speaking with an acquaintance this week about our situation and she told me this, “stop beating yourself up, as you made the best decisions you could, at the time, with the information you had.” Why this is brilliant. Yes, how could I have known that moving would have been so complex, but it’s easier said than done.

Given the nature of my new job, I need to be cautious when making friends. I have a higher level, confidential position and there are 400 new “friends” eager to meet me. Or are they? They all seemed to swing by my desk my first couple weeks and introduce themselves, and as a lot of nosey questions. Now that I’ve been there two months and aren’t exactly as warm and fuzzy as they initially anticipated they stopped coming around. I’m okay with this. However, in the process of this move I’ve also lost my two best friends. Well one of them is still there for me and we talk on occasion , but the other is gone completely. I don’t have many friends and it’s for a reason. I don’t like drama and I won’t tolerate it! I am in a new city, with a new job, my children are in new schools, I spend all my free time in the car and now I have no friends. I have my husband, but there are just somethings I don’t want to talk to him about right now.

I don’t know how to tell him that I am not enjoying life, presently. I don’t care for my new job and feel as though I was mislead during interviewing. It is not the picture that was painted. I do not like our apartment, the neighbors or the town. I do not like the endless rides in the car. I cannot stand that even if we wanted to go out and do something that we have no one in the area that we know or trust enough to leave our children with. For the first time in my adult life, I feel trapped.  I think the part that is the most frustrating for me is that there is nothing I can do to change our current situation. I cannot force someone to purchase our home. My entire life is a big game of dominos right now. As soon as our home is purchased our new life can begin.

As soon as the spring semester is over and I pass this god awful class maybe things will start to look up. This isn’t one of my proudest comments, but I failed this particular class last semester. It was never my intention to enroll immediately this semester, but when we found out we were moving I didn’t have much of a choice. The program I am enrolled in is a hybrid. However, the course offerings rotate between three physical locations and online. I had taken this course in-person last semester. It was offered online this semester and then not online again for two years. I should have graduated this semester, but when I failed the class by literally a few points my graduation was delayed. I think I’m bitter.

The opportunity to return to college and pursue my undergraduate degree presented itself in 2009 when the organization both my husband and I were working for announced that due to the recession they were closing. I researched and learn that by utilizing the programs available to me that I could make just as much money returning to school as I had been working full-time. I went back to college in the fall of 2009 and have been going summer, fall, interim, and winterim ever since. I’m ready to be done. I say that, but in the next breathe I am already trying to figure out what to do with myself I successfully complete the program. Hence my earlier statement that I am never satisfied.

Everything happens for a reason and one day (hopefully in the near future) we will be able to look back on this period of time and laugh. However, for the time being I’m trying not to wish away this time, as I understand my children are only going to be little once. There is a short amount of time that they are willing to hold my hand and snuggle me, before they too become grown up and go one their way. It’s just so hard because I want both time to pass by so I can get back to the way things were, but to also relish in the moment and enjoy my family. I guess I sit back and enjoy the ride.

Thanks for giving me an outlet to get this all out. Like I said once this graduate class is over I will get back to writing more about our adventures.

Avidazen!

Envirosax

Another staple in my life are my reusable shopping bags (Envirosax).

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I carry them in a reusable thermal bag in my trunk with my reusable glass milk jug bags and my mesh produce bags. They conveniently roll-up and snap which makes them perfect to carry in your purse. I use to do this, but with two children I find there are too many essentials to carry around these days.

What I love about these bags are that they are ridiculously strong and come in super fun patterns. The original bag that my mother-in-law purchased for me is going on like six years old and it still looks like new. They hold an exuberant amount of grocery items. Often times I find that I am unable to fill them to capacity as they are then too heavy for me.

I occasionally wash my bags, again not putting them in the dryer. They have more than paid for themselves and best of all they keep plastic bags from over taking our garage. I realize they are a bit of an investment, but are well worth the money. They would also make a perfect gift (that’s how I got mine).

Reusable Produce Bags

As I stated on my progressive hippie page one of the first changes my family and I made was reusable produce bags.

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I have had this exact set of bags (well actually I possess like three sets because we purchase mass amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables). Anyway, I have had these bags for roughly five years. I use them every week and have no complaints. Actually, I do have one complaint I have not been able to find a comparable product locally.

I have left items in these bags past their expiration (they rotted) and everything washed out leaving them looking like new.  I have not put them in the dryer as they come out of the washing machine pretty much dry. These bags have become a staple in our Saturday morning grocery shopping.

Lunchskins

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 2.48.29 PMContinuing on with my pursuit of cutting “waste” I have recently invested in lunch skins reusable sandwich bags. I have only purchased the velcro bags up until this point, but in putting together this post I have since discovered the also sell zippered bags. Which I will soon be purchasing so that I may put smaller items like raisins in a bag and know that they will not fall out.

The velcro ones have been amazing and have more than paid for themselves. They wash up nicely and come in fun bright patterns, which has assist me in keeping track of them. I recommend these over the disposable plastic bags.

doTERRA Essential Oils

So one area of our lives that we have recently started saving significant money on is cleaning supplies. I have found that by using doTERRA essential oils and common household items I can make just as effective and less harmful cleaners.

Starting out with the oils I did not know much about them, their uses or what each oil was recommended for. Therefore, my initial purchase was for the Family Physician Kit  and the following book:

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I really found this particular book useful as it lists each individual oil, how to use it (aromatic, ingested, topical, et cetera) and then a list of ailments that the oil is known to be good for. There is a nice quick reference guide to know which oils are safe during pregnancy. (Please note that not all of them are safe for a mother with child.) There is also a section for the blended oils and how to use them.

This book does not have any recipes enclosed, but I have done extensive research on how to make your own cleaners and will work on uploading them in a user friendly format in the near future.

I know some of the doTERRA essential oils can be a little pricey and that there are cheaper brands available. I have not used any other brand(s). I will tell you that I have had my kit for well over a year and have not had to re-order any oils. I didn’t use them as much when I was first learning about them as I do now, but when you use them it’s only a few drops at a time. In this instance, a little bit really does go a long way.

This past Christmas I received a doTERRA Lotus Diffuser.

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I absolutely love my diffuser and use it a minimum of twice a day. My favorite oil to run is On Guard. It’s a blend of Wild Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary essential oils, which smells amazing and promotes immune support. Anytime one of the girls starts to get sick I immediately turn this on and it seems to assist in keeping everyone from either catching the cold or passing it on to others. This blend can also be ingested, but I have not personally tried this as I have not had the need. In the event, I do start to get sick I will be trying this out and letting you know the outcome.

I’m very excited to try out their TerraShield this summer and cut harmful insect repellents out of our lives. My mother-in-law swears by it and I’m going to give it a try. I would prefer to expose my children to this than Deet any day.

International Owl Festival – Houston, MN

Since I love birds of prey, specifically owls it was essential that I attend the International Owl Festival in Houston, MN. So in early March 2015 we made the trip. We somehow managed to miss the Live Owl Program. We did however get to dissect owl pellets, allow the children to complete a plethora of arts and crafts and prowl the vendor booths. I was a little disheartened, as we had to physically leave the festival grounds and go to another location to see live owls. (Which I will get to in a minute.)

The festival was nothing like I had envisioned and I’m still not entirely sure it was worth the trip. However, it was a beautiful drive and it was nice to be out and about. I just somehow pictured this to be similar to a birds of prey forum that we had attended last year in Oshkosh where we learned more about the birds and their habits. I’m almost entirely positive this information would have been in the Live program, but I don’t know for sure.

About these live owls….it was sad. Maybe I have a big heart, maybe it’s because I haven’t ever killed anything bigger than a spider or maybe I’m just sensitive. Obviously, these birds are in captivity because they are unable to be reintroduced to the wild, but still it bothers me. It bothers me so much that I can’t bring myself to post the photos of them as they are depressing. You can learn more about the birds and their stories at the International Owl link above.

Hindsight if we were to go again, I would make sure that I was able to attend both days and fully experience all that the festival has to offer. I probably would not go to the off site location as it was simply an over priced gift shop with the birds tethered to a pole.

One item of interest is that they do have a live camera feed on two owls in captivity. It’s fascinating, but I am going to continue to search for a feed on owls out in their natural habitat. I haven’t had the time to do too much looking, but I’m sure they are out there.

Wolf River Camera

I fear that you are going to quickly find out that I am easily amused. So as you’ve probably figured out by now, I love the outdoors. When I’m not in them, I’m thinking about them or watching them. Ha, and now I’m blogging about them. I don’t have any followers yet, but it hasn’t stopped me from writing away. I find that I have all these interests and amazing adventures and no one to share them with (outside my immediate family). I will be patient as hopefully one day you will stumble upon my blog and have a passion for the outdoors like I do.

Any way, another item of interest for me is watching the sturgeon spawn. If you can’t make it to New London area to the Wolf River to physically watch you can watch one of the live cameras available at:

Wolf River Cam

There are a total of six cameras across the area that you can log in and watch. I don’t watch the cameras too often. Generally, once we find out the sturgeon are spawning we go for a drive and take a hike. On one occasion when we went to New London the WI DNR was there tagging the fish. To do this they caught the fish and physically removed them from the water. It was fascinating to see this first hand see such a prehistoric creature. They took measurements, weights and then placed the tags into the fish before releasing them.

I will try to go back into my photo archives and post some pictures for you to scroll through at your convenience.

Peregrine Falcon Camera

Live: Falcon Camera

Having previously lived in Oshkosh, I am well aware of the nesting Peregrine Falcons at UWO. Every spring I logon the site and eagerly await the babies to hatch. This year (Spring 2015) there are four eggs as of April 7th. I would encourage you to watch it’s pretty interesting once the eggs hatch and the parents start bringing in dead birds for feedings.

NOTE: The link above also has still photos that are taken every couple of minutes, so that you can easily flip through and pick out some exciting shots.