04.13.2015

Oregon Honeymoon Diaries – Travel & Lodging

Today we have a post that I have been wanting to write for a very long time!  My husband and I were married in October and we were blessed to enjoy to most amazing honeymoon that we could ever have dreamed of.

Oregon Travel Header

We had several people ask us why we chose Oregon for a honeymoon… many assumed that a warmer, tropical climate would be more suitable.  Before Nate & I ever met, Oregon was a place we both wanted to go.  We looked into other destinations, but kept coming back to the Oregon coast.  Neither one of us are the type to lie on the beach all day… we wanted to enjoy the beach but still be able to travel about and enjoy the landscape and beautiful scenery.  If this sounds like you, keep reading for some of our amazing experiences!

I have decided to divide this topic into several posts in order to keep them short and sweet.

Travel & Lodging

For our honeymoon, we  decided to fly to our destination and rent a car when we arrived so we could travel on our own.  We flew Southwest Airlines for the first time.  While overall the flights were good, we definietly learned some lessons about flying with Southwest!  With all other airlines I have flown on, I was assigned a seat when I booked my flight.  With Southwest this is not the case.  You are boarded in groups… “A, B and C” presumably based on when you checked in for your flight.  We were given the option to check in early when we booked our flight for an extra fee, which we did not do because we did not know how necessary it would be!

We were early birds... watching as our luggage is loaded in the darkness.

We were early birds… watching as our luggage is loaded in the darkness.

We had an early morning flight and we checked in our tickets the night before.  We arrived early and found out we were in the “C” group.  We still were not terribly alarmed until they began to board.  We were among the last ten people to board the plane!  Not only could we not sit together, but we were separated by a group of noisy kids!  To some this may not be a big deal, but to two honeymooners it was a disappointing way to start our trip.  We had a layover in Denver, and when we boarded that plane we were distressed to find that conditions were the same… minus the kids.

When we finally landed in Portland we were tired, cranky and dreading the process of picking up our car.  Rental car salesman can be a bit pushy and were ready to be on our way.  We rented from Enterprise which we booked through Costco and was an awesome deal!  It went like a dream!  The representative was helpful and soon we were driving off in a 2014 Nissan Maxima… with dual climate control much to my delight!

We were finally ready to roll!

We were finally ready to roll!

We are actually on our HONEYMOON!

We are actually on our HONEYMOON!

We stopped for some lunch and began the 2 1/2 hour drive down Highway 101 from Portland to our rented beach house in Depoe Bay, Oregon.  It was not long before we began to be amazed by the beautiful landscape that we were traveling through.  It was hilly and mountainous with stunning vistas and majestic trees.  The trees were straight and tall, and as endless as we could have imagined.

stunning trees

We found this sign so funny we had to take a picture!  Were you looking for the Cemetery Recycle Center?

We found this sign so funny we had to take a picture!  Were you looking for the Cemetery Recycle Center?

 

We began to drive out of the trees and stunning views of the coast appeared to our right with the gorgeous mountains to the left..  It was so exciting as we began to anticipate arriving at our home on the beach!

Oregon Bluff

Arriving at our home!

Arriving at our home!

We reserved our home through a company called Meredith Lodging.  They were extremely helpful and accommodating as we planned our trip… they offered us advice on sightseeing and local dining and even offered us a discount since we were honeymooning!  Our stay there was exactly what we had hoped for.

Our home away from home.

Our home away from home.

We had a beautiful two story home called the Looking Glass Inn that sat right on Bella Beach in Depoe Bay.  The main living area was on the top floor with a large balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean!  The home was nicely decorated and had a fully stocked kitchen, an entertainment center with movies and games, and an awesome hot tub on the balcony!  That hot tub was our favorite place to be as we watched the sun set over the edge of the continent.  They also provided bikes and other great things to play with on the beach.  For some great pictures of the interior of the house, click here.

We would walk the beach every morning and then spend much of our days on exciting little road trips!  Many of our favorite pictures of this beautiful state were taken from our car.

or hilly road revised

or bridge revised

bluff view

Our return trip was much less stressful, as we had learned our lesson from the first flight.  We paid the extra fee for pre-boarding several days ahead of time and were able to sit together on both our return flights.  Portland Airport is touted as the best airport in the US, and we loved how easy it was to navigate.  They also boast that they do not inflate the prices for food and services!  We dropped off our car with no hassles, and boarded the plane for our layover in Las Vegas.  I can’t say much good about the Las Vegas Airport, but our layover was quick and we were soon headed home with a ton of pictures and many amazing memories we will never forget.

I will follow up with more posts on the food and sightseeing that we enjoyed on our trip, so be sure to check back if you would like to hear more!  If you have any questions about specific travel details of this trip, please feel free to comment below… and I will try my best to answer!  Also, if you enjoyed this, please feel free to share using the buttons at the bottom of this post.

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04.06.2015

Easter Recap

Good morning!  I hope you all had a beautiful Easter celebrating our Risen Savior!  My Easter weekend unfolded a little differently than I had planned, so today’s post will be delayed once again.

easter reacp header

Our plans were to go to church on Saturday evening with my husband’s family.  We would then go to church with my family the next morning, followed by brunch at his sister’s and a late lunch at my parents.

I was going to cook Saturday afternoon before church while my husband mowed.  I had barely gotten started when Nate walks back in the door.  He was getting the flu.  He had loaded the mower, aired the tires, and gotten gas then suddenly his sickness increased and he put it all back and came home.

He managed to make it to church Saturday evening (although he shouldn’t have gone).  We can home early and he became very, very sick.  I spent my evening finishing up the cooking from that afternoon and caring for my sweet, sick hubby.

Nate was in bed all day Sunday.  I rose early and went to our events as planned.  It was our first Easter together as a married couple and our six month anniversary as well, so I was definitely missing my partner in fun that day.

Easter Outfit of the Day

Easter Outfit of the Day

I had a yummy brunch with his family and we had an egg hunt and goodies for the kids. The little bird’s nests I made as gifts were a hit.

Pinterest Inspiration for my Easter Bird's Nests

Pinterest Inspiration for my Easter Bird’s Nests

I followed it up with a barbecue at my parents house and more great food!  I took a little of everything home to my sweetie which I am sure he will eat when he is better.

I came home to discover this sweet note and some chocolate that he had left for me while I was gone… I have such a romantic husband!

peek at letter

I hate that Nate spent Easter alone, and I definitely missed having him with me.  But we’re are so blessed to have each other, and these first six months together have been more wonderful than I could ever have hoped. We were able to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, which is all we need for a perfect Easter! 🙂

Sorry for the ramble, regular programming will resume Thursday!  Happy Monday!

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04.02.2015

Travel wishlist – Top 5 places outside the US

I have the travel bug!  Even if it is just a simple road trip, I love to see new people and places.  My husband and I have a blast simply spending time in the car exploring our state, but there are other places all over the world we would love to see as well.  We have never been outside the US, and who knows if we will ever be able to journey to these incredible places, but here is the list of my top five.

I plan to start a little travel series here on the blog, so stay tuned if you want to see more travel related posts.

1. ITALY

I can not remember a time in my life when I have not wanted to go to Italy.  I have had a love of history from a young age and, to me, Italy has always seemed to be the pinnacle of historic and artistic artifacts.  Besides, Italian food and pasta are my absolute favorites!  I would sit as a child and pour over travel magazines, planning my “someday” trip.  The two places I would love to see most are Rome, for all it’s visible history and it’s impact on world culture…

Rome

 

… and Florence, for it’s art, architecture and food!

Florence

2. ISRAEL

To me, the lure of Israel lies in the beauty of it’s religion and the mystery of it’s land.  As a Christian, the history of the Jewish people is ours as well and I think it would be a life changing trip to visit the land of our Lord.  This beautiful country lies in the barren dessert of the middle east, and I would love to spend time there exploring both the historical sites and the diverse modern cities.

Jerusalem

3. IRELAND

This one may be one everyone’s list.  Ireland is known for it’s breathtaking natural beauty and fun, welcoming people.  If you talk to those who have been fortunate enough to make the trip, most will tell you that the country is as picturesque as it appears.  It would be so fun to travel with the comfort of speaking your own language and yet explore a land so different from our own.  I can only imagine the beauty this nation has to offer!

hills of ireland

4. CHINA

This one may seem a bit odd to some, but the large nation of China has always drawn me to visit.  This country has had such a long and monumental history.  From centuries of royalty and emperors, to it’s decent into communism, this country does not do things small.  I am curious to see the juxtaposition of the beautiful antiquities such as the Terra Cotta Soldiers, the Great Wall and beautiful temples versus the endless apartments to house an oppressed people.  As China begins to embrace small amounts of free trade and capitalism, safe and enjoyable travel is becoming possible and I would love to have a guide to lead me through the beauties of China.

great-wall-of-china

5. GERMANY

Number five was a bit of a tough pick.  It was the last choice and there we so many awesome places to choose from!  I ended up selecting Germany for a personal connection.  For both my husband and myself, the majority of our family heritage is German and my family has been able to trace our German roots all the way back to the 1600’s.  This nation holds many sightseeing marvels such as beautiful villages and castles and modern, progressive cities.  To see the impact made on this country by two world wars would be staggering as well, but for me the most powerful moments would be the chance to walk the streets where my ancestors before had walked.

germany

If you also have my love of travel, please like this post and share it too (click into the post and scroll down for Pin It buttons)!  Visit again soon to read about our recent journeys in the breathtaking state of Oregon.  I hope you all enjoy a wonderful Easter Sunday!

image

The Oregon Coast - As taken on our honeymoon

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03.12.2015

The mattress shopping fiasco….

My handsome husband and I have been married for five months.  We spent the first four months in a constant struggle with mattresses.  When we married, I moved into his home and we decided to replace his queen sized mattress with a king.  Mattress shopping is incredibly intimidating and gimmick filled.  Since we really had no idea where to begin we started reading online reviews and eventually relied heavily on test results from Consumer Reports… HUGE MISTAKE!

Mattress & Bedding

I am loving my new antique mirror and hanging lamp. The lamp belonged to my husbands grandma. Also, I really need some throw pillows… it’s driving me nuts!

One of the higher rated and reasonably priced innerspring mattresses was the Newfield Cushion Firm from Costco.  My husband and I happen to be Costco members… Nate in particular is in love with “the magic of Costco” as he calls it.  We made a trip to our nearest warehouse and were able to lay on the mattress.  It seemed very comfy, so confident in Costco’s no hassle liberal return policy we took it home.  We enjoyed the comfort of the Newfield, but after only a month it appeared…..the dreaded sag!  Return trip #1!

Back to square one and evermore in doubt we decided to try a memory foam mattress the Serafina Pearl Gel, another top rated mattress offered at Costco.   In desperation we decided to order this online without trying it, solely based on the recommendations of Consumer Reports. We hated it!!!  I do believe that the Serafina is a quality, well made mattress… suitable for deceased Egyptian mummies or the living who barely move when they sleep.  This just seems to be the nature of memory foam.  You sink so far into the foam… it cradles you so much you can’t roll over.  My husband and I both toss and turn so much when we sleep that this mattress was miserable!  We still have recurring chiropractic visits. Return trip #2.

Blacklisted from Costco, frustrated, and sleep deprived we were at a loss.  We were scared to purchase a non-returnable mattress so we knew we had to try something different.  We went to countless stores and laid on every bed we could find. After some deliberation we finally decided to go with a dual sided Sleep Number that would give each of us the customizable comfort we desired…. also all Sleep Numbers are made in the USA!  We chose the Sleep Number C4 model for its simplicity and comfort. We were able to test it in the store and loved it, and as it was one of the models on sale at the time we decided to go for it over the “fancier” models.  Sleep Number does allow returns within the first 100 nights.

We placed our order right away and decided to go for the option of assembling the bed ourselves.  The store advised against it, but we figured it couldn’t be that hard (we were right).  Anybody could handle this… don’t pay the extra charge!

The night we assembled the bed, I had a terrible cold. My husband insisted on taking a picture. Yay.

The night we assembled the bed, I had a terrible cold. My husband insisted on taking a picture. Yay.

We opted out of buying a frame from Sleep Number.  This is a great way to save a few hundred dollars, just make sure your frame has a flat, hard surface.  We used our existing box spring and covered it edge to edge with plywood. Oila!  A flat top foundation!  The bed arrived in two (fairly small) boxes, and according to the directions we allowed it to air out for a few hours before assembly to reduce the factory smell.

One air chamber filled. One empty. Pardon the box of tissues, it was a sick day. :(

One air chamber filled. One empty.
Pardon the box of tissues, it was a sick day. 🙁

When you look at this mattress unassembled on your floor, you stare in shock that a few pieces of foam and plastic can cost so much money!   Do not despair yet.  I kept telling myself that if it was comfortable it would be worth it.  The bed came with a mattress shell with a quilted cover, two layers of foam, two air chambers (one for each side of the bed) and a pump with remote.  We simply attached the pump to the air chambers, layered the mattress together like a sandwich inside the shell (following the directions, of course) and zipped everything up.

Almost done!

Almost done!

This marked the day that we finally made it to the end of our mattress journey… almost.  We liked the C4 and were sleeping well, but it not quite have the softness that we remembered from the showroom.  We called the company to ask about this and they generously sent us two more layers of foam worth almost $800!  We loved the Pressure Relieving Comfort Foam Layer!

The End.  This mattress is perfection and we now lovingly refer to it as “The Cloud”.  With the previous mattress, our bed had become a place we dreaded to go because of the discomfort.  Now it is a pleasure to nestle in our bed and go to sleep in pure comfort each night.  If you’re curious, my sleep number is 60 and Nate’s is about 85.

I hope the helps you if you are considering a mattress purchase, for us it was such a huge decision.  We are no longer teased by our families for our mattress curse!  Bottom line… mattresses are completely personal.  Go with what feels good to you and do not be swayed by ads, recommendations or sales.  If you have additional questions please leave a comment for me, I would be happy to answer!  Happy shopping!

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03.05.2015

WordPress vs. Blogger

As a brand new blogger, I just wanted to offer my two cents worth about starting my blog.  I basically know nothing about blogging yet other than the process I went through to set it up, and that is what I want to talk about today.  As you can tell, this blog is powered by WordPress.com.  There seem to be two major blogging host sites (along with many other smaller ones), and they are WordPress and Blogger.  As a complete newbie, I had no idea which one to choose.
laptop camera pic
To fill you in, I actually began one blog before this one.  It was a obscure site called The Hits and Mrs, and it never even had one post.  Why did I quit?  To start with, I made the decision to begin a blog shortly after getting engaged.  Bad idea.  I quickly realized how life consuming planning a wedding is, and that I was insane if I thought I could do both!  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  However, I was also having such a struggle getting my blog SET UP!  For the hosting site for this blog I used… Blogger.
Now don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think Blogger is bad.  I have seen a lot of beautiful sites that were created on it.  But for me and how my mind works, it was so difficult to customize.  I spent a lot of time with it, and had to google a lot of instructions to figure out how to do the basic customizations I wanted.  So due to these two things, I gave up on that blog before the first post.
I originally chose Blogger because I had heard so much about it’s ease of use.  It was supposed to be good for beginners, have simpler formatting, and use less HTML and shortcodes.  This is true, but only if you want you blog to be EXTREMELY basic.  Any customization beyond the basic options seemed to be a struggle for me.
Fast forward one year later and I was ready to start again.  This time I used WordPress.  I was scared to use it because I heard it was harder… more for an advanced blogger. But I was ready to try something different, and excited about the extra options it was supposed to offer.  And I LOVE IT!  After the first login, you are presented with an instruction guide that is very long and comprehensive.  It walked me through each step of setup from customization, to publishing and pages, to uploading media, to promoting your social media.  I felt like each step was easier and quicker to accomplish than with Blogger.  Yes, there is some HTML and codes, but there were easy instructions to help each time I needed it.  I also love the fact that I can easily transfer to my own domain name later if I want.  In one afternoon I had the basics of my blog the way I wanted it, and felt ready to begin posting within a few days.
There is still plenty of room for my blog design to grow and many things I want to tweak, but the WordPress process made me excited to blog and I can’t wait to share that journey with all of you!  I realize that this review is very basic, but hopefully it may help some of you that are just beginning to make your choice.
What about you other bloggers out there?  What sites do you use to power your blogs?  Do have any good tips for improving your blogs?  Until next time… Jill
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